May 29, 2006

Wincing over Da Vinci

Wincing over Da Vinci



Sandhya Jain



Three Vatican-affiliated satrapies have unilaterally banned the Hollywood blockbuster, Da Vinci Code, thereby affirming paramount loyalty to Il Papa as opposed to the Indian nation. Nagaland, as is well known, was among the first states in which foreign Christian missionaries armed, trained and inspired tribal converts to secede from New Delhi. Recall that this was an era in which Bangladeshi bases and ISI did not exist. Gun-running and arms proliferation went back to the munificence of rich Western nations.



Goa, though not a Christian-majority state, is dominated by Governor S.C. Jamir, ex-chief minister of Nagaland. However, to the uninitiated, the decision that raises eyebrows is that of Punjab. Yet the cognoscenti know that church building has acquired unimaginable proportions in the tenure of Capt. Amarinder Singh; one can hardly visit cities like Amritsar without stumbling over a missionary every few yards. Obviously Capt. Singh is trying to please his foreign-born Roman Catholic boss at the cost of his natal culture.



Yet we would be making a serious mistake if we do not remember that Pakistan was created – partly by dividing Punjab – as part of a design by the Christian West for post-colonial domination of the region. Pakistan helped the West monitor events in the oil-rich Gulf and Hindu India. That is why, when the Seventh Fleet of our now ‘natural ally’ failed to deter Mrs. India Gandhi from liberating East Pakistan, West Pakistan was handed the blueprint for a new offensive against India.



Although credit for the Khalistani movement has historically vested with the late Gen. Zia ul-Haq, it bears the stamp of our old colonial masters. Divide and rule, and what better tool than the Sikh community, which had already been re-invented from the sword arm of Hindu society into a spoilt minority? Elite or ordinary, Punjabis are both gregarious and greedy, and it was a cakewalk for Zia’s Punjabi Muslim officers to cultivate pilgrims to Nankana Sahib with sentimental claptrap about how politicians had divided the united soul of the people and overload the visitors with gifts. Propaganda and freebies were both lapped up with alacrity, and the rest is history. Meanwhile, Khalistani leaders found hospitality in Britain and Canada. The same farce is now being enacted in Kashmir.



It is my contention that dismembering India from both flanks remains a Western goal, and Punjab’s effete politicians are the tool for its execution. Those concerned about India’s territorial integrity would do well to watch developments in border states. If Christian missionaries have an overt presence in the north east, they have a powerful covert presence on the western border as well, and this includes Gujarat and Rajasthan, where West-funded Christian and ‘secular’ NGOs have a formidable presence.



Not surprisingly, both states figure on the Bishop of Rome’s radar for daring to enact anti-conversion laws to protect India’s civilizational continuity and national character. Pope Benedict XVI’s remarks challenged our sovereignty and the UPA response was tepid because of the supremacy of an Italian-born Roman Catholic, who refused to rebuff this gross insult to her adopted country, though her acolytes had claimed she was a ‘Hindu’ when she stormed into Tirupathi without signing the register for non-Hindu visitors. As president of the only political party which condemned this civilizational assault, Mr. Rajnath Singh would do well to declare that should the BJP return to power, it will de-recognize the non-secular, non-elected Vatican City regime. This will go a long way in keeping soul-scavengers at bay.



Interestingly, even as the head of Christendom’s largest sect was interpreting our constitution for us and telling us to behave so he could make good (Christian) souls out of us, the Vatican executed a duplicitous charade on the issue of faith conversions. According to news reports, between May 12–16, the Pope's Council for Inter-religious Dialogue and the Office on Inter-religious Relations & Dialogue of the World Council of Churches invited a group of carefully selected persons from the Bauddha, Christian, Hindu, Islamic, Judaic and Yoruba (Nairobi) traditions to evolve a common code of conduct for conversions.



Now this is half-clever. A Church-chosen gathering endorses the Christian position that conversions are legitimate, and agrees to prescribe certain procedures by which these may be undertaken. Missionaries can thus work unimpeded while the cultures being cannibalized are made to shut up. A placebo was offered against “unethical” conversions; it was said: “there should be transparency in the practice of inviting others to one's faith.”



To my mind, conversions are innately unethical; the objective is to grab territory by making citizens abdicate from the natal tradition. Hence, missionaries should openly state that the purpose of their charity is to procure numbers for the church mission of universal dominion. Ideally, such invitations should be extended outside the borders of target societies. Vatican City could issue one lakh visas to Afghan tribals, inviting them to Christianity. The exhortation that humanitarian work should not be used to take advantage of vulnerable sections is simply deceitful. The behaviour of missionary charities in the Asian tsunami in Tamil Nadu, Sri Lanka and Indonesia was shameful, but consistent with missionary tradition.



The final agreed report sought to plant the notion that freedom of religion is a fundamental, non-negotiable right of every human being in every country in the world. This is said to involve the freedom to practise one's own faith without obstruction (a warning to the Islamic republics), and the freedom to propagate one's faith to people of one's own and other faiths (ie. convert them). Above all, however, it includes the freedom to embrace another faith out of one's own free choice (to be certified solely by the converting agency). This is utterly consistent with Christian unilateralism and arrogance.



The modern world, however, needs a touch of diplomacy. Accordingly, the report piously intones that freedom of religion enjoins the “non-negotiable responsibility to respect faiths other than our own, and never to denigrate, vilify or misrepresent them for the purpose of affirming superiority of our faith… all should heal themselves from the obsession of converting others.” Now if only the rapporteurs of the meeting would take these recommendations to Pope Benedict XVI and make him acknowledge the errors and injustices perpetrated by the Church over two millennia of its existence.

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