The recent happenings in Orissa, Karnataka, Madhya Pradesh, Kerala and Tamilnadu have made it clear that it is all a well organized and preplanned scheme of the Hinutva people to terrorize Christians, the service loving community and to create a fear-psychosis among our rank and file.
Our Response so far has been the following:
1. Our leaders have written pastoral letters or allotted a paragraph or two in the Diocesan News bulletins. Or our diocesan magazines have devoted a page or two to reporting of it. But, has it made any dint anywhere? They are needed, of course, but with concrete proposals of action!
2. Most of our parishes/institutions have stepped up security measures in our premises. But, how long can we go on in this way? If Indira Gandhi could be killed by her own security man, if a Lt.Col. PS Purohit and many others in the army can be wooed by Hindutva ideology, can we be sure of the loyalty of the poor security men indefinitely?
3. Some have urged the political leadership at the Centre to come to our rescue. The BJP has already attributed ulterior motives to the Central Govt. and is manipulating it for gathering ‘sympathy votes’ in the forthcoming election.
4. Some take refuge in the Constitutional provisions. But, there are many clandestine moves to change the Constitution. Even the Supreme Court nowadays is not much in favour of the minority clauses.
5. Enthusiastically we closed down our institutions for a day. But we are now worried at the fact that we have been asked to give an explanation for it.
6. Taking to techniques of violence is incompatible with our basic tenets of faith like ‘Non-retaliation’ ‘Love of even the enemy’ ‘forgiveness’ ‘judge not’ ‘show the other cheek’ which are to be lived out in all spheres of life, including the socio- political.
How then could we make our protest pointed, simple, direct, but at the same time befitting our Christian call? Here are a few proposals for consideration.
1. All the Christians constitute the ‘one body’ of Christ. If so, we, from the rest of India, should have flocked to the troubled spots and stood shoulder to shoulder to the victims of carnage. At least the office bearers of the CBCI and NCCI could have gone there, risking their life, just as the Master stood in solidarity with the woman in front of the stone-throwing crowd of self-conceited men, with a view to liberating the sister from what appeared to be a sure death.
2. A more practical measure would be to take to vicarious suffering on ourselves. My close friend from a Reformed Church reports that when he broke his leg in an accident, his sister resolved not to eat her lunch and went on a chain of prayers, till he could stand on his toes. Likewise, why should not all the Christians in India individually opt for some form of fasting – prayer for the rehabilitation of the victims. Do we feel on our elbow the hurt of the lethal weapons that attacked them in Kandhamal? Do we endure the panting of lungs and palpitation of heart as they were running for life into hides? Do we experience in our stomach the pinch of hunger they are continuing to have in jungles?
3. An Advocate friend has suggested stopping of all external celebration of Christmas this year. Why not keep our celebrations only to Mass and family affair? If all our laity could resolve to buy no new clothes, no cakes, no greeting cards, no liquours, no dances, and forego all decoration of the houses/ Churches, the money we save thereby can be used to help the hapless Christians in rebuilding their houses and churches. Even serial lights should not be used. The stars of this Christmas could be in black colour?
4. If all our educational institutions make a bold move in favour of an indefinite closure, it will affect the majority community. It will also be an effective way of expressing our pain to the nation. More concretely, the managements of English medium schools can resolve to boycott the text books published by communal minded firms. Almost the whole the commercial class today is in support of the BJP ideology. Therefore it will hurt them. If the Blacks in America succeeded in their protest against the Whites by simply boycotting their buses, and if the Philippinos could overthrow their ruler primarily by boycotting the Coco Cola, why not we apply the same technique the efficacy of which was proved in this land already during the Freedom Struggle?
5. The issue of ‘forced conversion’ has again been raised to justify their violence. It is the strategy of the Hindutva ideology to stigmatize us as their enemies, and to eliminate us from Hindu Rashtra the establishment of which is their ultimate aim. Why should we get trapped into their strategy? Vat II has clearly denounced conversions by inducements or force (Cf. DH. Nos 4, 10). The WCC also has come out with similar pronouncements. Why not therefore make it clear to the public the stand of the mainline Churches. In fact the present day understanding of Mission is not necessarily to convert people from one boundary to another. Conversion is work of God. The true mission is, among other things, to stand by the side of the poor and the marginalized through education, health, housing and employment programmes.
6. It is only the splinter groups like the Assembly of God, the Pentecostals and New Life Movements that are busy converting people with great vigour. Therefore, there is no fighting shy of denouncing them as not belonging to the mainstream churches and establish dialogue with well-meaning Hindus. If they find any case of ‘forced conversion’ let them tackle it individually and legally? If otherwise, the personal right of the genuine individual searcher or of a group as a whole is protected by the Constitutional right as well as a Human right.
7. Our new missionary approach and particularly our conscientization programmes have in turn brought about a lot of awareness and awakening among the vulnerable sections of society. Hence they are demanding their rights. Evidently this affects the establishment. So they target us even through violence. In such a context, we need to re-state our resolve to continue the services in a re-doubled vigour towards the realization of God’s reign. No going back at all. If need be, we will seal it with martyrdom joyfully and more meaningfully for the cause of promotion God’s reign.
8. A deeper issue is to be clear about the real Enemy. It is natural for us to brand Bajrang Dal youth or the RSS cadre or the BJP men as our enemies. But from a deeper point of view the actual clash is between good and bad, love and hate, justice and prejudice, right and wrong? It is the hatred, misunderstanding and the prejudice that inflict them to behave as our enemy. It is imperative then that we deny every material comfort to us and go down on our knees for prayer, a prayer that ends only with redemption. We shall pray in a manner that first our hearts are filled with love for those erring brethren and then their heart too will be inflamed with the same energy. We shall not stop praying until then.
9. To communicate our solidarity with our suffering brethren and concern for the erring ones, all our churches in the country can go for a mourning week of fasting and prayer, led by Bishops, priests, pastors, brothers and sisters in every district head-quarters and major towns. If nearly two hundred Catholic Bishops and about four hundred bishops among the reformed churches, and over a lakh of Religious personnel in India go for an open-air prayer, in their own respective places all over the country, it will drive the message straight into the mind of the erring brethren. It will also purify us of the dirt in our heart and the mind. It can be Christmas Octave of 2008 itself. Or if more time is required it can be during the Lenten Season 2009. Let us decide upon it and observe it simultaneously. It would be a clear witness of our immense moral potency, our universal love and of God’s wondrous touch of purification.
10. Let us be clear that the violence of the Hindutva is not espoused by all Hindus. They are still peace loving, tolerant, harmony-promoting. They are really appreciative of the yeoman service that we have been rendering to the Indian society. Therefore it is important not to antagonize the public. Rather it is all the more necessary to establish dialogue at the grassroots, and promote popular religiosity in the true sense of spreading God’s reign. No doubt we need to purify and perfect the elements that are impure and imperfect in those religions. Equally it will be with reference to our religion also. This will be a sure way of counter acting to the serious and systematic efforts the RSS is making to bias the masses against us. All the cadres of society, even the professionals like lawyers and policemen, uneducated youths and students, teachers, housewives are being wooed into the Hindutva ideology, all in the name of protecting their religion. Even the Gandhian circles today are no exception to the RSS venom. Hence, all the more reason for us to be seriously involved in interreligious dialogue.
11. Hindutva is a political theory advocated only by those who are politically motivated to establish Hindu Nationalism, more specifically Brahmininc Hegemony. Their agenda includes abandoning of democracy, secularism, human rights, change of secular and liberal Constitution. The well informed Hindus like Mahatma Gandhi, Nehru and Dr. Ambedkar knew their ultimate aim and were vehemently critical of it. That is why an RSS man killed Gandhiji. Mr. L.K. advani dubs Nehru’s secularism as pseudo-secularism. BJP men oppose Dalit movement as anti-national. It is unfortunate that Ambedkarites view Gandhi as their enemy. But actually the Bhraminic hegemony is the common enemy of both Gandhites and Ambedkarites. We Christians could play a key role in bringing about dialogue between them and enable them together to fight against the common enemy. We should join hands with all secular minded people and promote the civil society so as to fight for national cause of democracy, secularism, and humanism and human rights. We should be catalysts in the formation of a united front to a fight against the fascist force of Hindutva and safeguard the national cause of Justice, secularism, freedom, fraternity and liberty.
Let us then take the recent happenings of the Hindutva violence as the signs of the time to discern our call with clarity. Let this crisis be an opportunity for concrete and concerted action in favour of spreading the Reign of God.
Dr. A. Pushparajan firstname.lastname@example.org