Christ and North-East India
by Francois Gautier
The Indian Express
November 20, 2000
Jesus Christ was a great avatar of Love in the history of humanity and his message of compassion, charity, of caring for one and another, is even more relevant today, in this fast and merciless civilization of ours, than it was 20 centuries ago, when people were more simple and living closer to Nature. Indeed, there are Christians who today try quietly and unobtrusively to put into practice Christ’s precepts – and you can find missionaries in India, such as Father Ceyrac, a Jesuit, who has lived for more than 60 years in Chennai, tending to the poorest sections of this society, while respecting their culture (Father Ceyrac, who speaks fluently Tamil, often quotes from the Upanishads).
Unfortunately, there has crept in the purity of the early Christianity an exclusiveness, a feeling of sole propriety over the Copyright of God. This exclusiveness, this feeling amongst Christians, that “we are the only true religion, all other gods are false gods”, has had the most catastrophic and bloody consequences: millions have been killed in the name of Christ, entire civilizations, such as the Atzecs and Incas, have been wiped-out, in order “to bring them the word of Jesus” and Christians have even savagely murdered each other, whether in France or England. One would hope that this intolerance, this fanatical and militant drive to convert, forcibly or otherwise, pagans to the “true” God has ceased in this new millennium of “enlightenment”. Unfortunately it is not so. For nearly three centuries, India has been the target of a massive conversion drive. It is even more so today, as Christianity is dwindling in the West, there are less and less people going to Church and very few youth willing to become priests and nuns. The Church is thus looking for new converts in the Third World, particularly in India, where people have such an innate aspiration to spirituality. Indeed, the Pope has earmarked this new millennium as “the Evangelization of Asia”. And it is in India’s North-East that this evangelization is meeting with the most success, because it is peopled with simple, poor and uneducated tribals, who make an easy target.
In Tripura, for instance, there were no Christians at independence, the maharaja of the state was a Hindu and there were innumerable temples all over the State. But from 1950, Christian missionaries (with Nehru’s blessings) went into the deep forests of Tripura and started converting the Kukis. Today, according to official figures, there are 120,000 Christians in Tripura, a 90% increase since 1991. The figures are even more striking in Arunachal Pradesh, where there were only 1710 Christians in 1961, but 115000 today, as well as 700 churches! What to say of Mizoram and Nagaland, where the entire local population is Christian! The amount of money being poured by Christians into the North-East is staggering: The Saint Paul’s school of Tripura, for instance, gets an 80 lakhs endowment per semester. Which Hindu school can match this? No country in the world would allow this. France, for instance, has a full-blown Minister who is in charge of hunting down “sects”. And by sects, it is meant anything which does not belong to the great Christian family, particularly if it has Hindu “pagan” overtones!
Isn’t it also strange that many of the North-East separatist movements, such as the Mizo or the Bodos, are not only Christian dominated, but also sometimes function with the covert backing of the missionaries? The Don Bosco schools, for example, which are everywhere in the North-East, are known by the Tripura Intelligence Bureau to sometimes harbor extremists at night. But the Tripura Marxist Government chooses to close its eyes, because in India, Communists are often walking for their own selfish purpose – hand in hand with Christians. Does the common man in India know that the nexus between the separatists and the Church is so strong in Tripura and Assam that temples are being demolished, that people are scared to practise pujas, except in strongholds such as Agartala, that Hindu social workers do not dare go in the interior? On the other hand, every other day a new church springs-up in the North-East, every week a new Christian school is opened without facing the threat of any extremist attack. Is it the way of treating a country, which from early times gave hospitality to Christians, indeed, the first Christian community in the world, that of the Christian Syrians, was established in Kerala in the first century AD?
It’s not only that conversion is an unethical custom, but also that it threatens a whole way of life, erasing centuries of tradition, customs, wisdom, teaching people to despise their own religion and look westwards to a culture which is alien to them, with disastrous results. Look how the biggest drug problems in India are found in the North East, or how Third World countries which have been totally christianized have lost all moorings and bearing and are drifting away without nationalism and self-pride. It is time that Indians awoke to the threat of Christian conversions here. The argument (mostly put forward by “secular” thinkers) that Christians are only 3% in India and therefore cannot be a threat, is totally fallacious: the influence that Christians exercise in this country through their schools, hospitals and the enormous amount of money being poured in by western countries for the purpose of converting Hindus, is totally disproportionate.
The message of Christ is one of Love, of respecting other’s cultures and creed – not of utilizing devious and unethical means for converting people. It is false that Jesus is the only true God. The Divine has manifested Himself throughout the ages under different names and identities, whether it is Christ, Buddha, Krishna or Mohamed. Let this be the motto of the 21st century. Then only will true spirituality emerge, beyond all religions and intolerances.
Filed under: Attacks on Vedic Culture, Hinduism, India History, Preserving Vedic Culture | Tagged: Christianity, Christianity and North-east India, Cultural Preservation, Hinduism, Indian culture, Indian History, Preserving Sanatana-Dharma, Vedic culture |