Thursday, September 22, 2005

Converting Adivasis

Gargi writes about Sangh Parivar's evangelism among Adivasis of Gujarat.

She writes:

If they really wanted to do service to the cause of Ram, then they should leave the Adivasis alone. For if they remember the Ramayan - then they should know that Ram never imposes his values on Shabri. On the contrary, he accepts her traditions without judgment. Maybe, if the Hindutvadi's read the Ramayan or the Mahabharat - they would realizee that this thing that they call Hinduismsm is not about temples and buildings and symbols. It is simply following the path of righteousness.

We agree with Gargi's reading of Hinduism. But, we must also note, if one opposes the imposition of foreign values on any community as a matter of principle, then one must apply this principle whether the evangelist identifies him/herself a Hindu, or by any other faith.

Too frequently, secular Indians are quick to condemn Hindu evangelism -- but astonishingly tend to sympathize with their peers from other faiths. This only erodes our credibility in the battle against bigotry in India.


Naresha said...

I do not see a discontinuity between the folk religion of the scheduled tribes and "high" Hinduism. Hinduism is not just about the grandeur of temple architecture in Tamil Nadu and the conceptual world view of Sanskrit literature. Much of our folk lore and beliefs have Adivasi antecedents and we should be proud of that.

Harini Calamur said...

Hi Primary Red
i am flattered :)
i have issues with American evangilists who come in and buy converts. As i have issues with Saudi money doing the same. I have been persoanally at the receiving end of pentacostal evangilism when i was a student - till i escaped by telling people that i was athiest ;).On the other hand when missionaries go in and serve, and over a period of time people adopt their religion - i don't really have an objection.

I essentially have an issue with aggressive evangilism whether it is Christian, Muslim or HIndu. I don't have a problem with ISKON, nor do i have a problem with Shankara Mutt or Swami Agnivesh, Rama Krishna Mission, (you will not see me writing against them). If they evangilise and convert - they do so becaus they create such a wonderful example of service and love that you don't have an objection following their path. But, if a body used fear or greed to get converts - i have genuine problems with that

I have an objection to the aggressive, ugly nature of Hinduism propogated by the Sangh Parivaar. 'Hinduism" is not a homogenous entity - it has multiple strands - more than we can perceive . And i object to their homogenizing a life style that appreciates, encourages and celebrates diversity.
So i will object to the Sangh just as much as will object to a Benny Hines:)

Primary Red said...


We are clearly on the same page on this issue.

Best regards.

doubtinggaurav said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
doubtinggaurav said...


May be we need to go to root cause (I love this phrase).
If you care, please read Arun Shourie's book on missionaries (It's a famous, I don't recall the title right now).
Even I am against agressive evangelism.
But if someone else starts it I am ready to defend my turf

As Bush said Bring It On


libertarian said...


Whether we are for it or against it, agressive converters exist - fact of life. Writing about it and influencing others is good way to guard against it - but it is what it is.

PR agree on Hinduism being held to a different standard - guess it reflects our history (since 1947) of left-leaning secular (Hindu) apologists. In contrast, secular-right is an interesting concept - demands strong religious moderation with an uncompromising (as opposed to apologetic) world-view. Kind of, work from a position of strength, not weakness.

Primary Red said...


As usual, very well said.

Secular-Right is the future of Indian politics. Someday, just maybe, we'll all look back and think about these infant years of India's political molting -- which found voice in the blogosphere!!

Best regards.

Pararaja said...

I would respond to Harini Calamur. Organizations such as Save the Children, Oxfam, Care, the Ramakrishna Mission and Swami Agnivesh undertake social service amongst the poor and destitute. Evangelization is not part of the agenda.

Certain Christian missionary organizations use social service to convert the poor to their faith. This confuses a noble objective (i.e. service) with parochial objectives (i.e. evangelization) and is bound to stir inter-religious discord.

Witness the debate on internationally-financed religious conversions in Indonesia and Sri Lanka in the aftermath of the tsunami.


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