Hindu Vivek Kendra
A RESOURCE CENTER FOR THE PROMOTION OF HINDUTVA
   
ARUN SHOURIE AND THE MISSIONARIES IN INDIA

Ashok V. Chowgule

1. INTRODUCTION

1.1 Shri Arun Shourie's book Missionaries in India - Continuities, Changes, Dilemmas (ASA Publications, New Delhi) has created quite a stir, particularly amongst the missionaries in India.  He was invited by the Catholic Bishops Conference of India "to give the Hindu perception of the work of Christian missionaries in India" (p ix).  The occasion, called the Pune Consultation, was the celebration of fifty years of the existence of the CBCI, and the meeting was held in January 1994 "to review the work of the Church in India" (p ix). He says, "That lecture and the discussion which followed forms the scaffolding of this book" (p ix).  Quite a few of the missionaries have written about it.  Some lay Christians have also commented upon them. A common feature of all these writings is that they have, for all practical purpose, condemned Shri Shourie.

1.2 While there must be many more articles written on the subject, for the purpose of this note the following are used as a representative of what has appeared:

(a) "Christianity and Conversion", by Fr R H Lesser, an assessment in The Examiner (July 30 and August 6, 1994.) Established in 1850 in Bombay this is the oldest Catholic publication. It identifies itself as "the Catholic paper for every Catholic home".  Fr Lesser is based near Udaipur in the Rajasthan state. Fr Lesser's assessment also appeared in The Statesman, August 1, published from Calcutta and New Delhi.  He reviewed the book for The Times of India, August 7, 1994, which is printed from Bombay, Delhi, and a few other places in India. This review is a summary of The Examiner assessment.

(b) Six articles by Dr Augustine Kanjamala that appeared in Maharashtra Herald, an English daily from Pune, Maharashtra. They appeared on July 13, 20, 27, August 3, 17 and 24, 1994. Dr Kanjamala is the secretary of the CBCI and was the convener of the Pune Consultation.

(c) Shri Sarto Esteves wrote two articles in Herald, September 8 and 9, 1994. Herald is an English daily published from Panaji, Goa.  Shri Esteves says that the articles "may help those who may like to know our views in brief on at least some of the issues raised in the book." Who 'our' is, viz Shri Esteves or a group, is not clarified.  Shri Esteves' background is not known to me.

(d) Excerpts of an interview with Dr Kanjamala that appeared in Indian Currents, September 12, 1994, a Catholic publication from Delhi.

1.3 There have been reviews/article written by people like Shri Kushwant Singh and Shri Mani Shankar Aiyar. Shri Shourie had anticipated their reaction when he wrote, "Had I urged the themes of this lecture to our 'secularists', they would have denounced them as 'communal', 'chauvinist-fascist', and having labelled them, they would have exempted themselves from considering what being said" (p xi).  He also dwelt on the subject in a similar vein on pp 159-60.  On account of this, the writings of such people is not being considered for the purpose of this note.
 

2.  PERCEPTION OF SHRI SHOURIE'S BOOK

2.1 All the Christian writers make essentially the same points.  That Shri Shourie has quoted old sources, written by "British civil servants .... and some scholars and Protestant persons, all of whom in one way or another were providing soothing music to the ears of colonial masters ...." (Esteves, September 8).  That a large part of the book consists of quotes from such people.  That Shri Shourie has shown no appreciation of the work done by the missionaries in the field of education, health, and other social issues.  Dr Kanjamala alleges that even Mother Theresa has been attacked (Maharashtra Herald, July 13).  That Shri Shourie has not recognised that the prime objective of the missionaries today is social justice and not conversions. In any case, conversion is a fundamental right enshrined in the Constitution of India. That things are very different today after the promulgation of Vatican II. That the lower castes' desire to change their religion is because of their persecution by the upper caste Hindus. That lumping of all missionaries as one monolithic whole does not do justice to at least some of them. That the various government appointed committees on the activities of the missionaries in mid-19509 were headed by anti-Christian people.  In addition, Shri Shourie has not looked at the answers given in "Truth Shall Prevail", edited by Aloysius Soares and brought out by the Church in India.  That it is false to allege that conversions were by inducements, since the Christian population in India is less than 4%.  That tribals and others are animists, and therefore not Hindus. That Shri Shourie has not done his homework properly.

2.2 It is also alleged that Shri Shourie has a hidden agenda, unconnected with informing the people about the missionaries.  It is well known that Shri Shourie is a critical votary of Hindutva, and has come out in support of issues like the Ram Janmabhoomi movement. etc.  Thus, we have Indian Current terming Shri Shourie's criticism as biased, and identifying him as being 'antagonistic to missionary activities'. Dr Kanjamala in the interview goes so far as to say that Shri Shourie's book 'can ignite communal tension', and that it 'does not make any positive contribution'. At the same time, Dr Kanjamala appreciates Shri Shourie's 'honesty and forthrightness', and Fr Lesser has 'a great respect for the courage, intelligence and journalistic skills of Shri Shourie'.

2.3 Out of the above, the one point which can be said to have some force is the fact that Shri Shourie has not considered the reply by the missionaries given to the government commissions.  However, Shri Shourie clearly mentions that he does not find much difference between the attitudes of the missionaries today and that of the past. "The reader familiar with the conversations which missionaries had with Gandhiji will be struck how what these worthy men were saying now corresponded almost to the word to the questions that they used to ask sixty-seventy years ago of Gandhiji.  And of course he would be reminded of how apt the answers Gandhiji gave then are to this very day." (Shourie, p 237.)
 

3. LOOKING AT ALL MISSIONARIES AS ONE

3.1 This note will consider all missionaries as one monolithic whole, since they all believe in the same prophet and the same book. The basic difference is that different groups have different ultimate controlling authority, and have different interpreters of what the book is supposed to say. In the paper, "Trends and Issues in Evangelisation in India", submitted at the Pune Consultation by Dr Kanjamala, the figures for the Christian population does not distinguish between the various sects of Christianity.

3.2 Going back in history, Shri Shourie gives another reason why one would not be too much off the mark if all the missionaries are considered together.  "'Can you state to the (Select Committee on Indian Territories, 1853),' the Right Reverend T Carr was asked, 'how far the different agents and missionaries of the various Protestant communions in India agree, generally speaking with each other, in prosecuting their common work, without disturbing each other?' Reverend Carr was categorical: In all missionary work,' he said, 'the missionaries labour in harmony, and, generally speaking, adopt one system"' (p 131).
 

4. OBJECTIVE OF MISSIONARY ACTIVITY

4.1 Like Shri Shourie, it is necessary to dwell into the past to understand why the missionaries are seen all over the world.  As per their interpretation of what Jesus Christ is supposed to have said, they claim that they have been commanded by God to do so.  This evolves from the basic tenet of Christianity which is that one has to believe in Jesus Christ as the only son of God to obtain an entry into heaven. on this basis, all other religions are false, and, therefore, inferior.  Thus, to save the souls of all such unfortunate people, it is necessary to convert them into Christianity.

4.2 The growth of Christianity has been through state patronage, almost from its inception. When the world was being aggressively colonised, the Pope divided it into spheres of influence of Spain and Portugal, so that there was no unhealthy competition between the two, in the larger interest of converting the maximum number of people.  For the rulers, a 'loyal' population made their task easier.  Shri Shourie has quoted extensively from those who clearly stated that conversions would achieve both the objectives.  And the reason he has quoted extensively is because "(t)he point is brought out better by the texts themselves than by any commentary that I could set out, and the texts are such an education, and in one case so electrifying a thing to read that it is best to read them in full" (p x).

4.3 It is highly debatable that if the missionaries did not have conversion as the prime objective, whether they would have moved out of their own countries. The question of social justice is only a guise to convert, and today is used as a justification for continuing their activities.
 

5. IS CONVERSIONS NECESSARY?

5.1 When asked this question today, the standard answer is that Article 25 of the Constitution permits the missionaries to do so, and therefore it is not a fair question. The part that is often quoted is "freely to profess, practice and propagate religion" (Esteves, September 8).  The full text of Article 25 is, "Subject to public order, morality and health and to the other provisions of this Part (which sets out the fundamental rights) all persons are equally entitled to freedom of conscience and the right freely to profess, practice and propagate religion." The first portion of this article has been addressed by Shri Shourie in his book (pp 231-2).  He asks, "In a secular country, why should the right to practice and propagate religion not be subjected to the same sorts of perimeters as apply to other secular rights (like the freedom of speech)?"

5.2 In this respect, it is very pertinent to read what Mahatma Gandhi said during his time. "If instead of confining themselves purely to humanitarian work such as education, medical services to the poor and the like, they would use these activities of their for the purpose of proselytising, I would certainly like them to withdraw.  Every nation considers its own faith to be as good as that of any other.  Certainly the great faiths held by the people of India are Adequate for her people.  India stands in no need of conversion from one faith to another." (M.  K. Gandhi, "Foreign Missionaries," Young India, April 23, 1931, p.83.)

5.3 At the same time, he was quite clear in his mind that there will be no legal restriction for the missionaries to proselytise.  "In India under Swaraj I have no doubt that foreign missionaries will be at liberty to do their proselytising, as I would say, in the wrong way; but they would be expected to bear with those who like me, may point out that in their opinion the way is wrong." (M K Gandhi, Foreign Missionaries Again, Young India, May 7, 1931, p 102.) Now there is Shri Shourie to point out, in his opinion, that the missionaries are wrong.

5.4 It was not only the Hindus who were agitated with the proselytising activities of the missionaries.  "When two young Parsees, who attended the school of Rev Dr John Wilson, the most outstanding of the missionaries, converted to Christianity in 1839 under his influence, a storm of indignation arose among the Parsees. They tried to win back the two converts with threats of violence and immense money offers.  The Panchayat in vain - filed a suit before the High Court and threatened the British government in a petition that 'if Government would not help there would be a terrible uprising in the country, and the results would be disastrous.' (This is the first and only time that the otherwise completely loyal Parsees express these kinds of threats.) The number of pupils in Dr Wilson's school (primarily Parsees) sank from 500 to 60-70." In the footnote, we see a most interesting remark. "The Parsees' embitterment was so great that Dadabhai Naoroji could not accept Sir Erskine Perry's offer of going to England to study in 1845 because the community feared Naoroji's conversion." (The Parsees in India, Eckehard Kulke, Vikas Publishing, Delhi p 94.)

5.5 Such a reaction continues in modern times in various forms. we see a violent form in countries like Iran.  In "Martyred for his Faith" (The Times, London, February 15, 1994), Shri Bernard Levin has written about the torture and murder of Bishop Haik Hovsepian-Mehr, a "leading figure of the Christian community in Iran".  He also mentions that the government there forced the non-Muslim faiths to sign a declaration that they were not persecuted for religious reasons, and "(t)hey also had to declare that they would not proselytise Muslims".  Shri Levin adds, "Almost all the representatives of the non-Muslim churches signed the document."

5.6 The Christians also dislike their members embracing other religions. Shri Steven Gelberg of ISKCON, USA, has lucidly brought out this attitude in his article in the book Hindu-Christian Dialogue (Harold Coward, ed.). "ISKCON summer festivals in the streets and parks of major cities-have provoked the ire of evangelical and fundamentalist Christians, who have come out to heckle from the sidelines with imposing banners proclaiming Get Smart, Get Saved!' and 'Turn or Burn!"' (p 139).

5.7 The following methods were suggested to wean the converts back to Christianity: "Parents wishing to extricate their adult offspring from the anti-Christian context' of an organization like ISKCON can - if they've first exhausted all legal options, considered the risks and consulted with their pastor - perform Christian civil disobedience': disregard whatever laws (for example, kidnapping, false imprisonment, assault and battery) stand in the way, and rescue their son or daughter from the clutches of such a false, non-scriptural religion". (Coward p 145, from "The Commission on Organizations: The 'New Religions', Brainwashing and Deprogramming," St. Louis: The Commission on Organizations, Lutheran Church-Missouri Synod, n.d., pp 4-5.)

5.8 Conversion in religion is not the same as conversion in politics.  It does cause a tremendous amount of social tensions, and tends to make people feel ashamed of their past.  In an article in a Christian monthly from Bombay, The Secular Citizen (June 94), entitled "Christian tribals of Gujarat - A grim picture" Prof Arvind Macwan says, "For people who have followed (a) way of life for centuries adapting to the new Christian way of life is very difficult." Many of the converts in the North-East think that before the advent of Christianity, their ancestors were merely head-hunters.

5.9 In his interview in Indian Currents, Dr Kanjamala says, "(Through) the process of Sanskritisation/Hinduisation, people of scheduled castes and tribes took the way to Sanskritisation in which socio-economic factors were powerful motives.  Why can't the same be permitted when they want to become Christians and undergo the process of Christianisation?" He makes an assumption that the scheduled castes and tribes were not Hindus in the first place. This issue has been dealt with by Shri Shourie when he discusses the difficulty that the British had in defining Animism in the Indian context (pp 186-96).  Dr Kanjamala's statement reinforces the view that there is a deliberate attempt to propagate a social system that did not exist to give a justification for the conversion activity of the missionaries.

5.10 More importantly, Shri M N Srinivas, who coined the word Sanskritisation', was talking within the context of Hinduism, and has clearly shown that the caste system was not as rigid as it is made out to be.  He said, "The tendency of the lower castes to imitate the higher has been a powerful factor in the spread of Sanskritic ritual and customs, and in the achievements of a certain amount of cultural uniformity not only throughout the caste scale, but over the entire length and breadth of India." (Rudolph and Rudolph, The Modernity of Tradition, p 114.  Quoted in Claude Alvares, Decolonising History, p 190.)
 

6. CONVERSIONS AND SOCIAL JUSTICE

6.1 It is argued that the lower castes have converted to Christianity only because the missionaries took up their case of social justice in terms of being exploited, particularly in land matters.  It is also argued that if there was any material inducements used then the number of converts would have been much higher than the 4% that is seen in the country.  The first argument has been dealt with when the basic objectives of the missionaries was discussed above.  At best one can say that the achievement of bringing about social justice was accidental.  Lack of social justice shows a failure of governance, and should be dealt with as such.  The use of missionaries of some Hindu scriptures justifying the rigidity of caste system clearly shows their plan of vilification of Hindus.  It completely ignores the tremendous efforts made by many Hindu reformists who also held Hinduism in high esteem.

6.2 In Christian Missions, Mahatma Gandhi said, "So far as I am concerned with the untouchability question, it is one of life and death of Hinduism.  As I have said repeatedly, if untouchability lives, Hinduism perishes, and even India perishes; but if untouchability is eradicated from Hindu heart root and branch, then Hinduism has a definite message for the world.... (U)untouchability is a hideous untruth.  My motive in launching the untouchability campaign is clear.  What I am aiming at is not every Hindu touching an 'untouchable', but every touchable Hindu driving untouchability from his heart, going through a complete change of heart, (P 92).

6.3 The social justice argument hides the fact that the missionaries went about converting the lower castes only when they found that they had no success in their efforts.  Dr Kanjamala (July 20) and Fr Lesser (July 30) admit to the failure in converting the higher castes.  In her book The Attitudes of.  British Protestant Missionaries Towards Nationalism in India, Smt Elizabeth Susan Alexander, pointed out that the Missionaries first concentrated on the higher castes, whose conversion would automatically 'encourage' others to follow suit (p7).  That this did not happen is a historical fact.  The Missionaries realised that the higher castes were in fact impediments to their conversion activity, because of the strong reformist and nationalist trend in them (p67). When the urban orientation did not yield the result, concentration was on the rural areas (p79, fn57). This strategy of converting the opinion makers was successfully implemented in many other, countries.

6.4 The 4% argument can be made to stand on its head, because it can also be said that there is no desperate need for social justice.  This would not be entirely correct, just as what the missionaries say is not correct.  But what the argument does not reveal is that these 4% are concentrated in a few areas, which also have social, political and security tensions.  When some participants of the Consultation objected to the accusation of creating political unrest, Shri Shourie said, "(A)ssume that the charge is unfair. The way to meet it is to be in the forefront of combating secessionism and violence in that area. Is the Church active on that count?" (p 235.)

6.5 The Church has to address a few more issues when it talks about social justice. If Christianity is an egalitarian system, then why do we see problems in Christian countries all over the world?  Why is there tension in the Church in India with the so-called Dalit Christians?  A related issue is why is there decline in attendance to the Church in the developed countries? And why is the Church not able to attract sufficient people to join their seminaries in these countries?  How much of the Church funding comes from within India?  Lack of social justice is a secular problem, not a religious one.

6.6 The propagation of social justice and social service is not a monopoly of the missionaries.  Hindu organisations have been at it much before the missionaries came to India. Because of a lack of a centralised authority, the Hindus do not keep statistics of the work done by the whole society. The myth that the Hindus do nothing for their less fortunate brethren has to be discarded. In fact, one can say that the missionaries in India have not succeeded in their true objective is primarily because of the positive actions of the Hindu society.

6.7 It should also be recognised that many of the institutes run by the missionaries, like Mother Theresa's, receive substantial funds from the Hindus and the government. Similarly, the government also gives assistance to the schools and colleges run by, the missionaries. It is to the credit of the Hindus that they recognise good work when it is done. The agitation against conversion is mainly due to the manner in which it is being done, particularly the mass activity in the tribal areas, where tensions are created.
 

7. ARE THINGS REALLY DIFFERENT TODAY?

7.1  Shri Shourie is accused of flogging a dead horse by quoting from the past, and that he does not recognise the changes that have taken place, particularly since Vatican II, which was proclaimed in the 1960s. (A similar accusation can also be made against the missionaries, when they keep on harping on the evils of the caste system.  The Hindu society has accepted a system which makes untouchability illegal.  That the practice continues today has nothing to do with the essence of Hinduism.) It is necessary to understand what has changed and what has not.

7.2 The basic tenet of Christianity that the route to salvation is only through Jesus Christ has not changed.  The Church does not reject "what is true and holy in these religions" (Vatican Council II, Austin Flannery, General Editor, St Paul's Publications, Bombay, p 654).  Not rejecting is qualitatively different from accepting.  What is more important to notice is that the Church's infallibility cannot be disputed.  "Yet she proclaims and is duty bound to proclaim without fail, Christ who is the way, the truth and the life (in 14:6).  In him, in whom God reconciled all things to himself (2Cor 5:18-19), men find the fullness of their religious life" (!bid, p 654).  A similar sentiment was expressed by the Anglican Church in England when Prince Charles wanted to be protectors of all faiths.  Lord Coggan, a former Archbishop of Canterbury, said, "If he is saying Christianity is equal with other religions, we should differ profoundly from him.  As men we are all equal before God, but are you talking about religions and saying one is as good as another?  I hope he is not saying that" (Sunday Times, London, June 26, 1994).

7.3 The Vatican II repeats from the Bible that Jesus Christ "sent the apostles into the whole world, commanding them: 'Go, therefore, and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit; teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you' (Mt 28:19 ff); 'Go into the whole world, preach the Gospel to every creature.  He who believes and is baptized shall be saved; but he who does not believe, shall be condemned' (Mk 16:15 ff)" (Vatican Council II, p 719). The original objectives of missionaries, viz to save the soul, still finds official sanction.

7.4 It is explicitly stated that "...the reason for missionary activity lies in the will of God 'who wishes all men to be saved and to come to the knowledge of truth.  For there is one God and one Mediator between God and men, himself a man, Jesus Christ, who gave himself as a ransom for all' (1 Tim 2:4-5), 'neither is their salvation in any other' (Acts 4:12).  Everyone, therefore, ought to be converted to Christ, who is known through preaching of the Church, and they ought, by baptism, become ' incorporated into him, and into the Church which is his body" (ibid, p 722).

7.5 So what has changed?  The methods have changed. When asked by the efforts made to convert him and his family when they went to missionary schools, Shri Shourie says in his book, "... no missionary would have been so imprudent to calumnise Hinduism the way missionaries used to do two generations earlier, even in the early fifties; no missionary organisation functioning in a metropolitan city would have thought it prudent to attempt conversions overtly" (p 233).  The important question is whether this change has been of heart or strategy.

7.6 The propaganda of institutes like the Pandita Rambai Mukti Mission also makes one wonder if things are really different.  After the earthquake tragedy in Latur, Maharashtra, in 1993, they sent out a pamphlet to the United States for the purpose of fund raising.  The relevant section says, "The Mission sent a medical team. and staff to the devastated areas shortly after the earthquake occurred.  Returning from the first trip, they met three men, who then travelled with them.  While they made no commitments, the men were uncharacteristically open to the claims of Christ.  Pray there will be increasing openness and a great spiritual harvest following this tragedy .... Pray that God will bring whomever he desires to Mukti." It is uncanny how close these words are in similar instances in the past when certain areas were struck with natural calamities. At Latur, the missionaries tried to distribute Bible and other religious material.  But, due to the controversy that it created, such activity has been kept at a low level.  Contrast this with the work done by the Hindu organisations in similar situations.

7.7 The India Bible Literature, Madras, publishes a series of Students Work Book for Children's Bible Schools.  In one of them it says that since the Christian population in India is only 4%, it means that 96% of the people do not know the true god.  In another it has a drawing with a caption', "Paul is preaching about the real God to those who are worshiping artificial Gods." Interestingly, the picture shows Paul with a group of tribals, and the artificial Gods are those depicted in the normal Hindu scriptures.  The disturbing part is that such statements appear only in the Indian language books, and not in the English version.

7.8 When asked by the missionaries what should be done, "Gandhi's advice was fivefold, and it remains as pertinent today.  The best thing of course is that you give up conversion altogether, he said .... Second, if you must, direct your efforts to those who are in a position to assess these matters; do not make the poor and illiterate and desperate the targets of your campaign.... Third, even for (conversions), Gandhiji said, it would be better for non-Indian missionaries to return to their countries and attend to problems there .... Fourth, in doing any kind of work among the people, Gandhiji counseled the missionaries, compliment the faith of the people, do not undermine it.  Do not denationalise them .... Finally, instead of the life of the Church, live the life of Jesus, of piety, of the Sermon on the Mount.  Let that life, that example persuade people to embrace Christianity if they will, not these vending machines." (Shourie, pp 37-9. )

7.9 Similarly, Shri Shourie has also identified five conditions which will convince the people that things have changed.  "First, we will know that the Church has truly changed when it undertakes and disseminates an honest accounting of the calumnies it heaped on India and on Hinduism .... The second thing to look for would be the extent to which the Church acquaints in India as well as the groups it is aiming at with the results of scholarly work on the two central claims of the Church - that the Bible is the revealed word of God, that it is wholly free of error; and that the Church, in particular the Pope is infallible .... The third bit of litmus would be: what is the extent to which the Church in India is disseminating information among its flock and its target groups about the consequences of (the scientific) developments have for its basic premises? ... The fourth bit of litmus would be the extent to which the Church overcomes its present tremulous anxieties regarding dialogue and the opening up to other faiths .... Finally, of course there is the question of conversions.  In view of the fact, now proclaimed by the Church, that salvation is possible in each religion, what is the ground for converting people to Christianity, in particular by the sorts of means which we saw are in use in the North-East to this day?" (Shourie, pp 229-30).

7.10 Will the Church repudiate, by name, all those who have calumnised Hinduism?  This should not be difficult to do, since all the Christian writers admit that things in the past were not in a happy state.  This repudiation will send a signal to the Hindus that the Church does not associate itself with the calumnies of the past, in the same way that the Germans do not with respect to the Nazis.  In his article, "The 500th year: A time of rediscovery and rededication" (The Examiner, January 16, 1993), Shri Briston Fernandes says, "Celebrating the Quincentenary presents a moral as well as a spiritual dilemma.  Extolling the virtues of Columbus' feat without understanding the tragedies visited upon Native American people, and African slaves snatched from their homeland to be exploited for European enrichment would be an outrage.  The consequences of the native people who inhabited the conquered lands were catastrophic..... (The) system of exploitation was also justified on the basis of religion.  The power of the Church was called upon to undertake the legitimating task."
 

8. MISSIONARIES AND HINDU REFORM

8.1 One of the beneficial effect of missionaries on Hinduism is that it spurred the reforms within the society.  The reformists took due note of the criticism made by the missionaries and set about to make the necessary corrections from within.  That this was successful is also one of the reasons why the missionaries have been able to convert only a small percentage of the population in India.  But, reform movements in Hinduism have been the rule rather than exception. In some cases, it was due to some external pressures, while in other cases it was due to an internal churning and recognition of the wrongs being done. Hinduism has also assimilated various influences from those who came here peacefully and those who came here by force.  Invaders like Shuka and Huns have been thoroughly merged in the mainstream. Others like the Jews and the Parsis are able to live to live side-by-side with the Hindus with no antagonism from either side.

8.2 What was the reaction of the missionaries to these reform movements? When Mahatma Gandhi undertook his programme of doing justice to the Harijans, the missionaries complained to him.  "Your anti-untouchability campaign has disturbed some of our missionary friends, Gandhiji was told, it 'is taking away from the Missionary's popularity.' 'I see what you mean,' Gandhiji said, 'but I do not know why it should disturb you.  We are not traders trenching on one another's province .... (M)y trouble is that the Missionary friends do not bring to bear on their work a, purely humanitarian spirit.  Their objective is to add more numbers to their fold, and that is why they are disturbed."' (Shourie, pp 203-4.)

8.3 It is for this reason that Shri Shourie commented that "(i)n chasing numbers the missionaries, to use Gandhiji's words, became 'just vendors of goods'.  And they came to adopt the usual techniques of vendors: the exaggerations common in advertising wares, targeting the sections that would be most susceptible, targeting them at times when they would be most vulnerable, or receptive if you will, using not just dialogue but allurement and violence" (p 15).

8.4 That this attitude continues even today can be seen from The Thailand Report on Hindus, prepared by the Lausanne Committee for World Evangelisation, after a meeting at Pattaya in June 1980. "The missionary vision of some Hindus is posing a threat to Christian evangelistic activities." This feeling is prevalent in almost all missionary organisations in India today.

8.5 The efforts of the government also receive similar treatment. "(W)hile they were not able to prevent the Government from extending medical, educational and other measures to the tribal areas, those who have been projecting the point of view of the missionaries have aimed at discrediting such efforts in these areas of non-official agencies which would come in the way of conversions" (Shourie, p 205).
 

9. DIALOGUE

9.1 Shri Shourie was invited to give a Hindu perception.  To the question in Indian Currents, "Knowing well that Shri Shourie is antagonistic to missionary activities why did you invite him?", Dr Kanjamala replied, "It is easy to get speakers who appreciate us. Christianity has grown well enough to take criticism.  So we need people who also challenge us. Only encounter with such can make us really enter into practical/real dialogue in the pluri-religious context of India." (The rest of the interview does not reflect these sentiments, nor do the writings of the other writers.)

9.2 In The Thailand Report, the manner of conducting an inter-religious dialogue has been unambiguously stated.  "The use of dialogue in reaching people has to be carefully considered.... It must lead to proclaiming Christ as Lord.... The purpose of dialogue should be carefully and constantly borne in mind. it should not end in dialogue." Cardinal Arinze, president of the Vatican Secretariat for Non-Christians, in the opening lines of the latest official declaration on "Urgency of Dialogue with Non-Christians" said, "Jesus Christ, the Son of God, made man, is our saviour .... He ascended to heaven but not before he had carefully prepared his apostles to bring salvation to all men, of all times, in all places .... Inter-religious dialogue would be unnecessary if all men believed in Jesus Christ and practiced only the religion which he established." (Origins, pp 641-50, Quoted in Coward, p 267.)

9.3 Shri Esteves says, "One of the truths of Vatican II has clarified is that all those who believe that Christ is the Son of God and Redeemer of Mankind, and strive to live according to the plan unfolded by him, will be saved even if they have been practicing a religion other than Christianity, but have had the desire to know the Redeemer and do his will.  In other words, if they have had what is popularly known as the baptism of desire" (September 8).  Shri Shourie has already dealt with an identical issue in his book (pp 216-7).  It is quite clear that the Vatican II believes that salvation cannot be achieved if one does not believes that Jesus Christ is the son of God, irrespective of his belief in say Lord Ram.  But what happens to one to whom the message of Jesus Christ has not reached?  And what happens to one to whom the message has reached, but does not do Christ's will to proselytise?  It would appear that both such people will not be saved.

9.4 The sustained campaign to denigrate Shri Shourie creates suspicion about the motives of the missionaries.  He had received a letter from Dr Kanjamala in which the latter expressed "thanks in the warmest words.... 'Your talk was scholarly as well as challenging.  The fact that the audience wanted to continue the discussion after you had spent nearly two hours with them shows the keen interest the audience had in the subject and your critique of the Christian mission.  May I request you to give the presentation in writing.  I intend to publish the talks of various speakers of this Consultation........" (p xii).

9.5 Shri Shourie concludes his book such: "'It has been a feast,' said Dr P Ramchandran, formerly of the Tata Institute of Social Sciences, who had been presiding over the session, as he wound up the exchange.  As we dispersed for tea the exchanges continued, as did the banter: 'He knows more about Christianity than your students,' Archbishop Mathias of Bangalore told Bishop Valeran D'Souza of Pune, teasing him and me.  'He knows more about Christianity,' said the latter who oversees one of the best seminaries in our country, 'than many of our professors!'....The things I had been saying were hardly the things that the Archbishop, the Bishops and the scholars assembled there agreed with, they were certainly not the things that they would find agreeable.  But, as I recalled at the beginning, they heard me out in pin-drop silence, and with unbroken patience.  They told me unambiguously that they did not agree with what I had said.  Several of their observations left no doubt that they were put out buy what I had said.  But they pasted no motive.  They were courteous and the very models of dignity and decorum throughout.  I left feeling I had been among friends.  If only we could learn at least this one thing from them: if we could only learn how to disagree.  How much better off our country would be." (Emphasis added,  pp 241-2.)

9.6 With the treatment that he is now receiving from the writers, Shri Shourie must have changed his opinion by now!  Fr Lesser regrets that he has used his courage, intelligence and journalistic skills to "bite the hand that fed him" (The Examiner, July 30).  Dr Kanjamala said that Shri Shourie was 'critical, forthright but sober' at the Pune Consultation, implying that he was not sober in the book.  In the same interview, he said, "Except that it can ignite communal tension, this book does not make any positive contribution." (Indian Currents.)

9.7 The manner in which the missionaries have handled the issues raised in the book, makes one wonder if they have any intention to have a real dialogue in India.  Much of what has been written by the above authors has been dealt With by Shri Shourie in his book. They are free to disagree with him.  But instead of repeating the same points, they should have gone forward from where Shri Shourie left, and say why they disagree with him.  Otherwise, we will be at the same position as before the book was written.  This ! is not progress.

9.8 Shri Shourie predicted how the 'secularists' would react.  I have dealt with this in 1.3 above.  "The reaction of the Bishops, senior clergy and scholars gathered at Pune was the exact opposite.  The listened with unwavering attention.  They told me clearly that they did not agree with much of what I had said.  They spelled out their reasons.  But then they listened with the same attention to what I had to say in return" (p xi).  One has to wonder in the change in the attitude when the book came out.

9.9 It also makes one wonder why is it that they are afraid? Is it that if the true tenets of Christianity and its methods are explicitly stated, they will find themselves in the same predicament in India as in the developed countries? or is the intention to 'warn' the Christians that their religion is under attack by the Hindu 'communalists', and if they do not come more closely under the umbrella of the Church, they will be in grave danger?

September 94.
 


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