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Monday, June 11, 2001

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Sangh Parivar emboldened by western writings

By C.V. Gopalakrishnan

THIRUVANANTHAPURAM, JUNE 10. The growing volume of writing in English, French and German in the West with an inclination to regard the emerging scene in ``Hindu India'' more favourably and not as a resurgence of fundamentalism seems to have contributed to the aggressiveness of the Sangh Parivar and emboldened it to become strident and shed whatever defensiveness their members might have earlier been prone to.

The All India Christian Council, which has demanded immediate action against the Sangh Parivar volunteers for their alleged harassment of Christians, would have been far from pleased with statements made by some western writers that ``a Hindu cannot be a fundamentalist because this concept belongs to the Biblical- Quaranic tradition'' in view of the unflattering image it could impart to Christianity. These writers have also observed that Hinduism is far more tolerant than Christianity or Islam.

The Sangh Parivar was also aware of the embarrassment felt even in the West over the reiteration of the classical Christian pronouncement about ``Hindus living in darkness'' made at the Synod of the Southern Baptists in the U.S. in 1999 and the Pope's statement about the Church wanting to reap a rich harvest of faith in Asia. This only gave grist to their propagandist mill about the ``designs'' of the church on the Hindu religion.

If the long prevailing Hindu-Christian harmony in India was not to the liking of the Sangh Parivar, all that it had to was to whip up a resentment against missionary pronouncements about the tribals in India having been ``pagans'' before becoming Christians. Though it was later realised that it would have been wiser to have laid the emphasis of the ``pagan'' tribals that their ancestral religions had their ``acknowledged Christs,'' it was too late before they could undo the damage caused by the earlier observations about the pre-Christian paganism and which the Sangh Parivar could press into its service.

The shedding of an apologetic posture to which the Sangh Parivar might have clung to as a result of their being seen as Hindu fundamentalists seems to have further sharpened their attitude to Christianity to the point from where they could invite converted Indian Christians to ``rediscover their spiritual heritage, long eclipsed by the conquering religion.'' But the realisation by the RSS and the Sangh Parivar that if they are intolerant, they should not be seen to be so, induced one of their activists to proclaim, ``I challenge any one of you to point out a single derogatory word or expression towards Jesus Christ, Biblical teachings, Prophets of the Bible or pilgrimage to the Holy Land Jerusalem or Mecca or about anything which is purely religious.''

The Christian Council's resentment over the Christians being projected as separatists arises from motivated statements about Christianity having spread disaffection in Nagaland and Mizoram. ``The most important Naga group,'' says Freddy De Pauw, a Dutch writer in his Increasing unrest in India's Northeast, ``brandishes the motto ``Nagaland for Christ,'' which doesn't keep them from massacring the equally Christian Kukis.''

The stress on the anti-Christian propaganda is that claims about its being a ``revealed religion'' could only make Christianity and Judaism unscientific. The inclination of some Western writers like the Flemish Catholic author, Dr. Koenraad Elst, to veer over to the point of view of RSS activists could be seen from his comment: ``A climate has been created in which every allegation against Hindu activists enjoys credibility while every complaint of Hindu victims is shrugged off or even maligned as hate propaganda.'' He attributes the sense of ``self- alienation of Hindus'' to the defeat of the Hindu culture from the Islamic onslaught.

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