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Christianity and Caste – book review

Brahmin Christians should adhere to the following :

  1. Should not eat out of the hands of Velala and Nadar christians
  2. Should not eat beef, fish and eggs in public
  3. Should sport a sacred thread
  4. Should Apply sandal paste on their forehead
  5. Should employ only upper caste Christians as their servants
  6. Should not eat or drink in public view.
  7. Should not be seen consuming alcohol.
  8. While on travel should eat and drink from behind a screen.
christianity and casteism

christianity and casteism

The above are the injunctions prescribed to Hindu Brahmin converts  who have become christian priests. And who prescribed these ?  Rev. Roberto de Nobili an Italian missionary in AD 1609. Don’t be surprised at the term ‘brahmin-christian’. These improbable classes did exist during the origins of Christianity in India and continue till date.

These and many more of such shocking truths are made evident by Prof. Sivasubramanian, the Marxist scholar and researcher in his Tamil book ‘கிறித்தவமும் சாதியும் ‘ ( ‘Christianity and Caste’)

You might think that the very purpose of getting converted to Christianity has been defeated if one still is a brahmin even after becoming a christian. That is precisely the case. Caste system has reigned supreme in Christianity in India, as it had been reigning supreme in Hinduism then and now. Caste has been a major classification even in Christianity. While seemingly opposing the caste system in Hinduism, christian missionaries have covertly and overtly converted hindus en-masse on caste grounds.

Prof. Sivasubramanian has done pioneering work in this regard. He exposes the depths of caste classification in Christianity and provides clinching evidence that spans 500 years of documentation. He is un-biased and objective and never deviates from the main point – Casteism and Christianity.

He compares the caste system in Hinduism and Christianity and concludes that caste behaves in the same manner, irrespective of the religion it is associated with.

He takes the case of a village called ‘Vadakkankulam’ in South Tamil Nadu, India and traces the history of the village church and the changes that happen to the church as time advances. We are treated to many pages of amazing evidence of the different caste based discrimination that was prevalent in the parish, how each community fought with the other on caste basis irrespective of the fact that Christianity was not supposed to have helped the cause of caste system, how different communities filed cases against one another and the case details and in the end, the stupidity of all that.

Vellala Christians file a case against Nadar Christians asking  Nadars not be seated in a particular place inside the church. Sakkiliar Christians appeal to the Fench / British authorities alleging discrimination by the Parish priest. Pillaimar Christians file a case against Nadar Christians asking them not to use their street. Prof. Sivam quotes as evidence many such cases and also provides detailed judgments to substantiate the prevalence of caste system in Christianity in India.

The learned prof also provides some interesting details on the methods used by the missionaries for conversion of caste hindus like the brahmins. He particularly quotes De Nobili, the Italian missionary who wore a sacred thread like the hindu brahmins. While hindu brahmins wore three threads across their body, De Nobili wore five – three to signify the father, son and the holy ghost and two more to signify Jesus’s body and soul. He ate out of the hands of upper caste converts, was vegetarian and sported a sandal paste on his forehead like caste hindus. Additionally he wore ochre robes and had a stick with a flag ( the stick is called ‘dhandam’ in Hindu ascetic order ). In every way, he wanted to resemble a brahminical sanyasi ( holy man) and thereby attract hindu brahmins into his fold.

De Nobili went further ahead and created a fifth Veda in addition to the four Hindu sacred texts. He called that ‘Yeasu Sura Vedam’. He wrote in Sanskrit so that Hindu Brahmins would get converted based on that feature as well.

Prof. Sivam’s book is a worthy read for anyone interested in the early origins of Christianity in South Tamil Nadu, India.

If you are encountered with a story that Christianity didn’t practice caste system and un-touchability, offer this book as answer.

The English translation of this book is available as ‘The crusade against caste domination in the holy family church at Vadakkankulam’ by Dr.Balasubramanian.

 
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Posted by on December 19, 2014 in English Posts

 

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Change your religion, why papa ?

Of late I have been introduced to a huge list of documents and books on how Christianity propagates itself. I have been subjected to a whole lot of visits by people from the different dominions and pantheons of the religion. These people always come in pairs. They choose a Sunday when that is the only day you get to rest.

Every time a new pair turns up or meets me at train stations or mall entrances, they always thrust a few books and odd colored propaganda material. The only difference would be the organization that would be sponsoring the material. I have often wondered as to why such propaganda needs to happen ? If a religion is so sublime and pristine, would people not flock to that path en masse ? Why should religion be sold like a diaper – buy one get one free sort of.

And most importantly why are respectable people, who have a day job, doing this ‘canvassing’, if I may say so, for a religion that traces its origin to the very beginning of earth ? I have several well meaning friends who profess the christian faith but never one has asked me to ‘follow the path of their God’. So, why should complete strangers do this to complete strangers ?

Neither Buddhism nor Sikhism nor Jainism does this road-side selling. During my time in Tokyo for  two years, never once has a Buddhist or a  Taoist practitioner approached me for getting converted. Walk into rural Tamil Nadu in India and you will get at least one invitation to ‘immerse in the gospel’ staring at you from every pillar. Stand below the poster for a minute to enjoy a minute of shade, you will soon be in the company of at least two persons virtually dragging you to verbally into a ‘communion’ promising to liberate you from all sins of the earthly world.

I have been confronted by such people in Texas and in Singapore.

Just look around a parchy Tamil Nadu village. Out of the plethora of mud houses with thatched sheds would rise a two-storied building proclaiming the ‘Genesis’ and inviting you into the ‘Realm of God’. Needless to say, the building would have a luxury car parked in front of it.

Many years ago, I used to commute from a sub-urban Chennai location called Selaiyur to Central Chennai. The path used to meander through a location called Camp-Road junction. The slum dwelling adjoining Camp Road Junction had a small church spire. On a week-end, there was a congregation that had all the slum dwellers gathered in front of the church spire. There was a tele-film on Jesus that was being screened. And in a corner people queued up to receive divine blessings. The ‘prasad’ or holy food consisted of bread and a sweetened water. And the water contained some mild traces of paracetamol. The ‘devotees’ whoever had mild fever were cured in a matter of 30 minutes. And they believed that their fever went away just because of their attendance in the sermon. This would ensure their continued attendance the subsequent week as well. I suspect the local pharmacist would have been the happiest person in the locality as all his beyond expiry dated paracetamol stock would have fetched him huge gains.

Why does Christianity alone do this ? Is this ordained in the book ? What makes this ‘propagation’ a necessity ? Is it common across the different pantheons of Christianity ?

These questions have been piquing me for a long time. Therefore I decided to research upon some of the methods used in this mass canvas activity particularly  targeted at the Indian subcontinent. And how is it that they have been hugely successful ? Is this not religious marketing ? Are there parallels between this evangelization and the modern marketing methods ?

The result has been mind blowing. And therefore the levels to which this ‘evangelization’ drive goes cannot be fathomed.

Let us look at some aspects of this going forward.

 
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Posted by on June 26, 2014 in English Posts, Writers

 

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When God didn’t know Bhojpuri

The girl was charming. She was cute as well. Her body was so flexible that she was able to squeeze herself into the bamboo ring all of one feet in diameter. Wheatish in color she didn’t definitely belong to the place, Chennai. She should have come from somewhere in North India, probably Bihar.

I was woken up from my contemplation by a gentle touch. It was her. She was staring at me innocently. Her hair dishevelled, I felt it should have seen oil atleast a month ago. She appeared weak and fragile but her face shone with a radiance that i couldn’t miss.

‘Paisa do bhaiyaa’, she said. ( Give me some money, brother ).

Not realizing her plea, I kept looking at her. She should be all of 5 years hardly two years lesser than my second son is.

‘Paisa do bhaiyaa’, she repeated. Unknown to myself I had placed Rs 5 on her hand. She thanked profusely in probably Bhojpuri- the language spoken in Bihar –  and started talking to the next passenger for alms. I was on a local train from Tambaram Sanatorium to Egmore, from the periphery of Chennai to the heart of the city.

Last I saw her was when she alighted from the compartment along with her mother and another child. From the time she took money from me, she had performed many an acrobatic trick – inserting herself into the one foot diameter ring, allowing her younger sister, all of 3 years old to enter into the ring along with her, performing some somersaults in the moving local train and performing for a Bollywood song. Probably she had alighted from my compartment to enter the next one so as to perform these tricks again.

All the while she was dancing, there was this guy with the lastest Samsung S4 smartphone chatting in facebook with some distant acquaintance of himself while the smartly dressed girl next to him was giving directions to her maid over the cell phone, probably a blackberry, on what to buy from the retail chain and at what price. The guy seated in the front row was continuously executing some trades on his iPad while frantically trying to connect with a couple of brokers on his two cell phones.

The two elderly safari suit clad people were discussing the upcoming elections in to the local railway men’s union. The scholarly looking person behind him was advising somebody on the interplanetary positions and their suitability for filing nomination papers for the local body elections.

Suddenly I felt a tap on my shoulder. There was this person who handed me this piece of paper and told me,” Here comes the savior that can save the world from poverty and violence end exploitation. He has come to the world to relieve you all from the worldly troubles. He is here to give you happiness. So, come into He. Join us this week for the prayer meeting and relieve yourself of the worldly sufferings”.

Image

Just one thought went through my mind. Probably He did not know Bhojpuri to speak to the Bihari girl and reliever her from poverty.

 
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Posted by on January 11, 2014 in Writers

 

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When God didn't know Bhojpuri

The girl was charming. She was cute as well. Her body was so flexible that she was able to squeeze herself into the bamboo ring all of one feet in diameter. Wheatish in color she didn’t definitely belong to the place, Chennai. She should have come from somewhere in North India, probably Bihar.

I was woken up from my contemplation by a gentle touch. It was her. She was staring at me innocently. Her hair dishevelled, I felt it should have seen oil atleast a month ago. She appeared weak and fragile but her face shone with a radiance that i couldn’t miss.

‘Paisa do bhaiyaa’, she said. ( Give me some money, brother ).

Not realizing her plea, I kept looking at her. She should be all of 5 years hardly two years lesser than my second son is.

‘Paisa do bhaiyaa’, she repeated. Unknown to myself I had placed Rs 5 on her hand. She thanked profusely in probably Bhojpuri- the language spoken in Bihar –  and started talking to the next passenger for alms. I was on a local train from Tambaram Sanatorium to Egmore, from the periphery of Chennai to the heart of the city.

Last I saw her was when she alighted from the compartment along with her mother and another child. From the time she took money from me, she had performed many an acrobatic trick – inserting herself into the one foot diameter ring, allowing her younger sister, all of 3 years old to enter into the ring along with her, performing some somersaults in the moving local train and performing for a Bollywood song. Probably she had alighted from my compartment to enter the next one so as to perform these tricks again.

All the while she was dancing, there was this guy with the lastest Samsung S4 smartphone chatting in facebook with some distant acquaintance of himself while the smartly dressed girl next to him was giving directions to her maid over the cell phone, probably a blackberry, on what to buy from the retail chain and at what price. The guy seated in the front row was continuously executing some trades on his iPad while frantically trying to connect with a couple of brokers on his two cell phones.

The two elderly safari suit clad people were discussing the upcoming elections in to the local railway men’s union. The scholarly looking person behind him was advising somebody on the interplanetary positions and their suitability for filing nomination papers for the local body elections.

Suddenly I felt a tap on my shoulder. There was this person who handed me this piece of paper and told me,” Here comes the savior that can save the world from poverty and violence end exploitation. He has come to the world to relieve you all from the worldly troubles. He is here to give you happiness. So, come into He. Join us this week for the prayer meeting and relieve yourself of the worldly sufferings”.

Image

Just one thought went through my mind. Probably He did not know Bhojpuri to speak to the Bihari girl and reliever her from poverty.

 
Leave a comment

Posted by on January 11, 2014 in English Posts, Writers

 

Tags: , , , ,

 
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