Forgive Mother Teresa

I want to believe that Mother Teresa didn’t proselytize.

How much ever I want to believe, evidence that I see are to the contrary.

Take a look for yourself:

An interview with her in the magazine ‘India Today’ dated 31-May-1983  goes thus :

Q : As a Christian missionary, do you adopt a position of neutrality between Christian poor and other poor ?

A : I am not neutral. I have my faith.

Q : Do you believe in conversion ?

A : To me, conversion means changing of heart by love. Conversion by force or bribery is a shameful thing. It is a terrible humiliation for anyone to give up religion for a plate of rice.

To me, she seems genuine. She is a Christian, has her faith, is open about it and declares that she is not neutral when it comes to faith even when the poor are concerned.

So much so good. But the following piece is damning:

Christopher Hitchens, an author and columnist wrote a book by name ‘The Missionary Position – Mother Teresa in Theory and Practice’.

In the book he quotes from a former nun of Missionaries of Charity Susan Shields thus : For Mother, it was the spiritual well-being of the poor that mattered… In the homes for the dying, Mother taught the sisters how to secretly baptize those who were dying. Sisters were to ask each person in danger of death if he wanted a ‘ticket to heaven’. An affirmative reply was to mean consent to baptism. The sister was then to pretend she was just cooling the person’s forehead with a wet cloth, while in fact she was baptizing him, saying quietly the necessary words. Secrecy was important so that it would not come to be known that Mother Teresa’s sisters were baptizing Hindus and Moslems’.Teresa

Even after this, I am prepared to hold the Mother in great admiration. She, as a Christian, followed her faith’s dictum to convert. But she did lot more good to the dying than any other person in Calcutta.

So, what if she converted the dying after having taken care of the uncared for leper and the destitute and the like?

If she had converted people, forgive her, for she has cared for those that the other communities had abandoned.

If her organization has embezzled millions of dollars, forgive it , for it has saved at least some from disease.

If Missionaries of Charity has hobnobbed with dictators, forgive , for it has cared for the terminally ill patients.

In essence, forgive them, forgive her.

Amen.

#Rssquestionsmotherteresa

When the Book made me run

Be wary if an elderly man approaches you, especially with a young woman. Chances are he is out to proselytize. If the word ‘proselytize’ sounds like ‘seduce’, so be it. In a way that is what proselytizers do. They seduce you into another path.

‘But the Book says so’, is the common refrain. The moot question is ‘so what?’. Why should I believe in another book ? How confident are you that the book is genuine and has not been altered since it was ‘written’ ? No answers for that.

Confront them with ‘Who created the apple?’. ‘God’. ‘So why does God forbid Adam and Eve from eating the apple that He Himself has created? Is the apple not divine?’

‘God tests you. The apple is the lure. God checks if you are lured by Satan’.
‘Simple question. Why should Adam not eat the apple created by God ? If so, did God create an ‘evil apple’?’
‘It is so in the Book. Can’t question this’.
‘So, who created Satan and why is he evil?’
‘God created Satan as an angel but later he became a fallen angel. So Satan is evil’.
‘As soon as God created the world, he created Satan as well. So He should have provided Satan with the intention to fall and thus become evil. So is God not evil?’.
Keep confronting based on simple logic and the frequent reference is ‘The Book’.
‘What if the Book has been printed with wrong information in the last 2000 years?’
‘That cannot be. God’s words cannot be wrong’.
‘Accepted that Gods’words cannot be wrong. But did God himself write the book? Somebody wrote it. And in 2000 years, could the book not have been edited with ‘further details’?’
‘Oh, as that is the God’s word, it could not have been changed’.
‘I say that even in the Indian religions, no book is static. Recent research shows that the ‘Bagawad Gita’ from the epic Mahabharatha’ was written much later and added into the epic. So, are there not chances in your Book at all?’
‘That cannot be. That is possible only in Pagan religions. For us, God’s words are sacrosanct and cannot change’.
‘Ok. So, is  Earth the center of the Universe? Does the Sun move around Earth ? And is Earth flat ? The Book says so, right?’
‘Sir, you are asking too many questions. Please believe in God and his Son and start reading the Book. You will realize truth and peace’.
I scamper towards the just arrived train.No use talking to robots.

Spread His Word

The bougainvillea was devoid of its original violet color. It was drenched in the rain and pointed towards the pavement signifying a rather dull mood that prevailed this evening. However the air and the trees were fresh.

The contrast seemed to point to the current situation in Singapore. Millionaires and common men living side-by-side in the same government apartments is a regular scene in Singapore only that the common man wouldn’t be earning rent revenue from his non-existent condominiums.

The pale bougainvillea shook once. A bird had taken off from its branch. I looked inside the shrub to discover a nest. 

I proceeded further on the washed down pavement. Less traffic on a Saturday meant more walking space. The food-court nearby was the only source of commotion.

The well dressed elderly man standing on the pavement didn’t seem out of place. Only that he was handing out some flyers to passers-by.

‘Spreading His word’ proclaimed the pamphlet,

Nothing deterred the old man, then sun setting across the West Coast Park, joggers on their tracks, children in their playful mood and some crackling noises nearby signifying some hushed-up couples . He was on his job, handing out papers.

Was this Roy Ngerng stuff ? Oh no. That was dangerous territory.

‘Sir, what is ‘His Word’,?’, I said,’why the capital letter for h’, prodding him.

‘My Son, please refer the contents inside and you would know for yourself’. So saying, he handed over some more glossy colorful pamphlets.

Private Condominium’s hand-outs looked similar. But this had something to do with ‘Him’.

Inside were pictures and details exhorting the masses to turn to the holy spirit and ‘Spread His Word’. I got that.

Started yet again ? But such pompous brochures meant more money waiting to be spent.

When this could happen in Singapore, no wonder there are those gospel centers in parched Tamil Nadu villages.

Hoes does ‘His’ word spread ? More on how it happened in India  in subsequent posts.

Change your religion, why papa ? – Part 2

‘Sir, Are you happy in your current life?’

You are into your deepest slumber on Sunday, the only day you get to rest. You hear a knock on your door. You ignore that and try to get into your sleep. The knock persists. You try to wish away the knock that it was only a dream. A couple of minutes later when you are re-entering your sleep, you hear the knock again. You get real and pounce towards the door, adjusting your night dress, and suddenly feeling that it has dawned already.

Upon opening the door, you hear the first sentence and see an elderly man and a twenty-ish fashionable lady.

‘Sir, Are you happy in your current life?’ You hear that again.

You are really confused as to what the world has come to. You don’t want to get angry seeing the elderly person. At the same time you don’t want to look like a fool seeing the twenty-ish thing.

‘When I am not allowed to sleep on a Sunday morning how could I be happy Sir?’, you say.

The above incident happened not one but twice when I worked in Mumbai, India in the mid-nineties.

Soon after, you are confronted with philosophical questions like ‘Why is man un-happy?’, ‘What makes the after life?’, ‘How does one not enter the fire in Hell?’, ‘How to get prepared for the ‘Day of Judgement ‘?’. and the like.

I looked at the elderly person. He should have been about 60 years old. He spoke English with a slight Marathi accent. But the girl was an Anglo-Indian whose English did not contain any trace of any oriental language. Her diction was perfect. For a south indian, I was able to align with her language than the elderly gentleman’s as I was still not comfortable with Marathi then.

‘How come many who have been pious and good-mannered suffer while those who are ill-mannered live a life of joy?’, she asked.

Having had a grounding in the Vedanta philosophy, I had been accustomed to this. But said,’Yes, I have this question lingering in my mind Miss. Could you possibly explain?’

‘Does your religion not answer this question, Sir?’, she inquired.

‘Well, I don’t know. Hence could you please explain?’, I said.

‘Excellent. That is because they are not in Jesus yet. If they would have been in Jesus, they wouldn’t have had to undergo this ignominy of having to suffer while there is perfectly nothing wrong with them’, she said and elaborated further,’ that is precisely why we are here today, to invite you to be part of Jesus and experience happiness in this life’.

My Vendatic background awakened. I knew what they were for. I invited them inside and offered them tea, much to the consternation of my friends whose sleeps were also getting disturbed. By virtue of we being bachelors(then), we shared an apartment in Mumbai.

They obviously did not like my Tea. That showed. However the discussion continued.

‘Madam, let me ask you something. Let me ask you some questions’, I proceeded.

The duo seemed prepared.

‘Why do you think I am not happy?’, I said.

‘Because nobody is happy in this world. Everybody is pained at something or the other’, he said.

‘No, my question is Why do you think that I am not happy in this life?’

‘That is the general rule. Nobody is happy unless he is in Jesus’, he said.

‘Sir, I am a product of my mind. Even in difficult situations, one can be happy if one wished. It is just a matter of the mind’, I reasoned.

‘But why is there suffering in this world?’, she asked.

‘Every action has an equal and opposite reaction. This suffering of a person is a result of some past deed’, I said.

‘Why do some perfectly reasonable and well-intentioned people who have done all good deeds in their lives suffer?’, he asked.

‘That is because of past actions. By past I mean the past lives. That is explained as ‘Karma’ in the Indian thought’, I reasoned.

‘No, that is not acceptable. Indian thought is pagan thought. And that is not the path of God. So that cannot be true’, she said and added ‘so you believe in superstitions such as previous lives?’, she inquired.

‘Madam, what is superstition becomes a fact. But what is a fact is still considered a superstition like the earth being the center of the universe’, I said knowing that I was touching a raw nerve here and continued thus :

‘Your assumption that I am not happy is fundamentally wrong.I am happy within the limited means that I have.  And I believe that what I possess is what I have been destined to possess and there comes my sense of equilibrium. My perceived sufferings are the result of actions that took place in my previous birth and therefore I am not going to blame anybody for that. That is how the sense of equanimity is brought in into the Indian life. But that does not mean one should not strive to be better. One should keep working on doing one’s duties without hindrance to others and that will ensure that the society is at peace. ‘Do your duty and I shall provide the results’ – That is the essence of the Vedantic school of thought’.

Continuing further, I had touched upon the Israel Palestinian conflict, the Irish Republican Army’s then efforts to destroy the UK despite following the same religion, the Catholic Protestant diatribes and the like and tried to show that not everything was rosy on the other side as well.

Looking back now , those might not sound scholarly or erudite anymore. But I evolved from then on and started paying attention to what the Indian Schools of Thought provided, what the great seers had said, how the missionaries had evolved in India, how the Indian society was exploited by them. how the then East India Company’s colonization of India and later the British empire’s rule followed by left-leaning socialist leaders’s regimes squandered and continue to squander the nation of its intellectual and spiritual farsightedness.

And that is the essence of this series.

Let me know your thoughts. Your words mean much in this effort.

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My earlier posts on this when I was ‘visited’ in Singapore are below :

When they ‘harvested’ me, almost

Waiting for the pastor

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.