After years of failing to gain substantial converts by degrading Hinduism and labeled it as “devil worship” and “heathen idolatry”, Christian evangelists have invented a new tactic: hijacking Hinduism.
Pamphlet Distribution: Southern Tamil Nadu
Evangelists use existing elements of Hinduism to misguide followers into converting to Christianity. Recently Christian zealots have begun claiming that various Vedic Sanskrit slogans were in praise of Jesus and not Hindu Gods. Christian propaganda pamphlets and booklets in circulation especially in and around Madurai district in Tamil Nadu also make the ludicrous suggestion that the revered Swami Vivekananda had asked the people to worship Jesus. The pamphlets, which have been put in circulation by the Madurai-based Infant Jesus Hospital (headed by Rev Fr. Caleb), also fraudulently invoke verses from the holiest Hindu scripture, the Bhagawad Gita, saying that they preach against idol worship. In fact, the pamphlets go as far as to decree that ‘people should not follow any other faith other than Christianity’. The highly inflammatory pamphlets, delivered by Christian converts (primarily women), have been appearing at nearly in Southern districts of Tamil Nadu in the hopes of misleading a few gullible souls.
Above: A Tamil advertisement posted by a Church claiming that Hinduism is been derived from ‘Thomasian’ Dravida Christianity. The poster also makes the outrageous claim that the sacred ash is the true symbol of Christianity and not the Cross.
Examples of the verses that have been deliberately mistranslated:
Om Sri Brahma Puthraya Nama reads as ‘I worship Jesus, who came to the world as God’s son (Yowan 3:16.17)’.
Om Shri Dakshina Murthaya Nama reads ‘I worship Jesus who is sitting on the thigh of his father (Yowan (1:18)’.
Taking specific mantras from Sama Veda, the Christian marketers say ‘Om Sri Panchakaya Nama refers to Jesus, the one with five wounds (panchakaya) Yowan 20:25.27. Om Sri Ummathiya Nama is translated as ‘I hail one born to the holy spirit’ (Mathew 1:18).
The mantra from Brihat Aranyako Upanishad (Asathoma sadhgamaya, Tamasoma Jyothirgamaya…) is laboriously expanded and explained to mean that Jesus is leading as the light of the world. And the ‘explanation’ goes on to add: ‘there is a word-to-word answer in the Bible to every prayer in the Upanishad’.
In a seeming translation of a verse from Neethicharam, the pamphlet says that ‘those fools who worship statues made up of stone, wood and metal would beget nothing other than misery and would not be pardoned’.
The pamphlets invoke Swami Vivekananda and say that he wanted hundreds and thousands of Christian religious workers to come to India so that the preaching of Jesus could go to the hearts of all Hindu people.
Pongal Disruption: Southern Tamil Nadu & Singapore
Another method of “hijacking” is to schedule massive conversion drives during prominent Hindu festivals. For example in 2003, ‘Jesus Calls’ scheduled its ‘Good News Prayer Meeting’ at Tuticorin from 14 to 18 January, knowing full well that the period coincided with the Hindu festivals of Boghi, Pongal, Mattu Pongal and other important functions like Tiruvalluvar Day and Uzhavar Thirunal.
Understandably, the locals were upset over the timing of the meeting organized by ‘Jesus Calls’. In addition, the locals were further angered by the fact that the evangelist “miracle” drive was to be held at the VOC College Ground in Tuticorin, which was donated by the government to promote educational activities only educational activities.
The locals, rallying around Hindu organizations, went on a hunger strike at Tuticorin to peacefully demonstrate against the deliberate disruption of Pongal by the ‘Jesus Calls’ and to criticize the authorities for permitting this aggressive action by the Church.
Meanwhile in Singapore, the clergy attempted to cast aside the clear Hindu of significance of Pongal and to attempt to turn it into a Christian one instead. Church coordinator S. Vythilingam was quoted as saying “Pongal is not a religious festival but a traditional festival celebrated by the Tamils.” In Singapore, several churches celebrated the function, but not out of mutual respect for Hinduism but rather to gain converts. This tactic is known as “inculturation” where various aspects of the local religion are adopted in the hopes of getting Christianity to appear less foreign.
Kumbh Mela Disruption: Madhya Pradesh
For the upcoming Kumbh Mela 2004, where an estimated 15-25 million Hindu pilgrims descend on the city of Ujjain in April, a Christian group known as “Gateway” has been released a handout to its members instructing them to “mobilize a intercessory team to pray on the venue and during the Mela”. The other side gives an elaborate “prayer” calendar with derogatory marks abou Hinduism. The group is relying on direct access to the millions of devotees to disrupt the sacred festival with prayers and miracle shows in strategic location to gain converts.
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