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Induced Religious Conversions: An Affront To Hindus (2002)

Balgrim Ragoonanan

 

After reading the Rev. Pat Robertson's appeal for converting Hindus to Christianity, the information below was developed. It is most important for Hindus to respond with correct information when disparaging comments are made about their religious beliefs. Hindus must also be prepared to increase their knowledge about Hinduism. It is not enough for Hindus to remain Hindus by culture only, especially in view of Christian distortions of Hindu religious beliefs and cultural practices. Hindus must also be prepared to respond positively with pride as another way of continuously adding to the self-esteem and confidence of all Hindu children.

In listening to the Rev. Robertson's views about Hinduism, and in reading his writings on the subject, one gets the impression of a man who failed to do his homework and thereby become better informed about the spiritual practices of almost a billion individuals worldwide, individuals whom he and several other Christian fundamentalist organizations have targeted for conversion to Christianity.

The question remains, what does the Rev. Pat Robertson or the average Christian fundamentalist know about Hinduism, otherwise known as Sanatana Dharma or Eternal Truth, a religion that has survived many eons of trials and tribulations? I believe the answer can be summed up as little or next to nothing.

The following enumerated facts will serve as background for the discussion that follows:

  1. India, where most Hindus live, is a little smaller in size than a third of the size of the United States of America, yet it supports somewhat more than three times the US population.
  2. Indians, mostly Hindus, recently changed from being the wealthiest to the third wealthiest ethnic minority in the US, after Colombians and Russians.
  3. The billion strong population of India, mostly Hindus, is almost evenly divided into three social and economic groups, the wealthy, the middle class and the underprivileged.
  4. Current Hindu social and economic progress was made in a little more than fifty years.
  5. The Hindus of India, through their great patience, single-handedly and nonviolently freed themselves from a thousand years of domination by foreign opportunists who almost drained the life blood of their country and left it severely economically impoverished.
  6. Foreign invaders spent half of the life span of Christianity, or one thousand years, trying to strip the Indian people, mostly Hindus, of their great wealth, religion, heritage, language and esteem.
  7. Preserving the territorial integrity of India, as well as managing its population growth with the many complexities of competing interests in culture, language, dialect, politics, etc., often minimize all the economic gains the country makes in almost all areas of continuing development.
  8. Hinduism and the Hindu culture are the oldest, continuous and unbroken practices in the world, and no one can even begin to speak of their ages or even origins.
  9. The late scientist, Carl Sagan, confirmed that the age of the universe, by Hindu measurements of billions of years, is much closer to the truth than the claim by Christians of a few thousand years starting from the time of Adam and Eve.
  10. India's fifty years of love with an inherited socialist government policy has been a major factor in its reluctance to move forward more progressively.
  11. It is a marvel that should not go unnoticed that, in spite of the following, India has been referenced by other nations as an emerging superpower:
    1. India lacked universal primary education for more than fifty years of its independence,
    2. India lacks universal secondary education even today,
    3. India has an illiteracy rate of a little less than forty percent,
    4. India completely missed the industrial revolution, and
    5. the road and highway infrastructure of India leaves much to be desired in the context of the efficiency and ease needed for the full distribution of goods and services for a billion people and an expanding world economy.
  12. Christianity can never be the cure for poverty otherwise in the two thousand years since the inception of Christianity all Christian nations would have completely eradicated poverty by now.

Where Rev. Robertson obtained his ideas about Hinduism as the cause for economic poverty in India remains a mystery. The problem is not Hinduism, but the slow recovery from the ravages, poor distribution of the national wealth, and the pillages and rape of a people of unsuspecting, peace-loving and nonviolent dispositions. In addition, the deliberate distortion of historical facts about the deep, rich, spiritual and cultural heritage of the country by greedy foreign invaders and European Christian adventurers dominated the political scene and debilitated the self-esteem of a people for over a thousand continuous years before India secured its independence. The intent of these distortions by the foreign invaders was for the purpose of divide and rule, and the elimination of Hinduism that was mistakenly understood as a religion of idol worship. It is well know in India and elsewhere that what the foreign invaders could not understand, they tried to destroy.

On the matter of Hindu poverty of which Rev. Robertson spoke, it is widely known that some Hindus emphasize the spiritual over the material, and many Hindus are often generally content with their abundance of spiritual wealth in a manner similar to the teachings of Jesus. Other Hindus give equal importance to spiritual and material wealth, as their lifestyles would suggest. Jesus taught that it is easier for a poor man to pass through the eye of a needle than for a rich man to enter the kingdom of God. Besides, Jesus said many will be called but few will be chosen. One has to wonder about the urgency of getting to Heaven, for which Christians whip up so much frenzy in their pursuit of new converts, as well as the issue of free will that Christians preach, when prophets see into the future and predict how many will be chosen or how people would evolve. Can it be that the emphasis on new converts is for increasing the economic wealth of the Christian church through the spirit of free giving they always show?

The same orders of Christians who stripped Native and African Americans of their self-dignity on earth, with whips on their backs, now extend to all Hindus around the world a paradise, not on earth, but in a Heaven somewhere in the blue skies. Native Americans and people of African descent in the US and elsewhere will have no difficulty identifying with the issues of Hindu subjugation by foreigners from their own experiences with Christians who offered them freedom and love in Heaven, while keeping them in bondage as slaves on earth.

Is Rev. Robertson truly serious about increasing the happiness and economic wealth of Hindus through conversion? Can he really point to any significant abundance of economic wealth and happiness enjoyed by Christians above that which Hindus enjoy today? One third of the entire population of India is as economically wealthy as the entire population of the US. Besides, India has the largest middle class population in the world. Even with a third of the country comprising the underprivileged, one would be hard-pressed to find Christians in the US as happy as any one of the Hindus in this group. It is well known that happiness is a concept that is personal to each individual, and what may be happiness for one may be misery for another. One individual may measure happiness by only giving, while another by only receiving.

With all the great wealth and advances of the Christian West, people generally remain starved for love. Where, in the West, is the abundance of love of which Christians speak? Elderly parents are often put away in communal homes to linger and die with an occasional visit or two from their own children. Children are often physically and sexually abused in countless numbers by their own parents, and removed from parental homes to the homes of strangers. The divorce rate in the US and elsewhere in the West has grown to about fifty percent. The economic wealth of many Christian organizations is about to evaporate with the current prosecution of child sexual abuse in the Church. Almost everywhere, today, unscrupulous Church officials are swindling congregations with gimmicks designed to increase the coffers of the Church and provide the Church hierarchy with a life-style common to the rich. Today the emphasis of the Christian church appears to be on who can draw the largest crowd and gain the most converts.

Hinduism is not a monolithic religion with only one way to develop relationships with God, as some other religions would prefer that Hindus do. It is quite complex and as diverse and even as broad as all of Christianity and all other religions put together. Hindus who adhere to the philosophy of nonduality believe that everything is God's Grace or the Will of God, again not unlike what many Christians believe in when they pray "Thy Will Be Done." According to Hindu nonduality, both effort and noneffort are the Will of God. So, too, are acceptance, submission and humility. Hindu morality, or even the lack of it in some, are also understood as the Will or Grace of God.

Who said, "Not a blade of grass moves without my will"? What was the message of Jesus by his reference to the lilies of the fields and the birds of the air? Some Hindus who may be less sure of nonduality exercise their religious preferences for other Hindu philosophies of relative nonduality and even duality, and show a preference for shaping their own destiny, again some of the same beliefs held by some Christians.

As a religion, Hinduism offers many spiritual pathways for promoting and enriching the spiritual journeys of its followers. It takes a lifetime of intense study, devotion and daily religious practices to remain a Hindu, compared to the limited practices of part-time Christians who would prefer Hindus believe in a God sitting on a throne somewhere above the skies, looking down and counting human kindness and errors for reward and damnation.

Most converts from Hinduism to Christianity may be ill-informed about how their spiritual needs would be met through conversion. Many of them are forced, seduced and induced into believing in the instant, temporary cures for universal illnesses that Christian evangelists often use as calling cards for gaining new converts. Many converts may also be attracted to Christianity by its limited religious practices and freedom from the rigors of daily religious obligations of the kind and intensity known to Hindus. It could also be said that converts often seek the less strenuous ways for attaining salvation, a quick fix so to speak, readily available in the West. Many converts also fall prey to the Christian propaganda that Hindus worship false gods and devils while evangelists sell religion like merchandise on shelves with high powered advertising techniques tailored especially for winning converts and amassing wealth as commercial ventures.

It is well known that Hinduism is a way of life, governing almost every aspect of hourly and daily living. The Hindu goal is personal evolution to higher spiritual levels leading to the attainment of self-realization and "moksha," the freedom from the cycle of birth and death, not salvation from the so-called sins in which Christians are led to believe they were born.

Modern research can prove that Hinduism is the mother and source of all religions. As a mother, Hinduism embraces all religions freely, and supports the idea of "salvation" through all religions. With this understanding Hindus have no need to proselytize, but rather share the vast, ever expanding, rich knowledge of their religion for the awakening of man to his true divine nature, the same truth that Jesus preached to his apostles and followers. Jesus simply asked his apostles to go out and spread the good news. He never intended for them to go out and convert others or form new religions. Hindus practice what Jesus preached in that they spread the word of their religion without the intention of gaining new converts but rather to help others enrich their lives.

The broad-mindedness of many Hindus allows them to place a picture or icon of Jesus on their private altars, as many Hindus would have no difficulty accepting Jesus and all other great spiritual teachers as Avatars or incarnations of the one God from whom all can learn and deepen or enrich their faith in God, either through their own religion or one that they freely chose. Jesus never asked his audiences to give up their culture and religion or even way of life to follow Him. He provided more information for deeper understanding of man's relationship with God.

Hindus often wonder about the meaning of Christian faith in God, the Provider, when Jesus said, "knock and the door shall be opened." This seems to be misunderstood by many Christians to mean, knock as beggars on the doors of others, as Christian fundamentalists do when they go from door to door looking for new converts and new income. Hindus understand "knocking" to mean faith in God to provide after the announcement of a need is made known. When the need of another resonates in the hearts of others then giving becomes holy and worthy as a true gift, otherwise the gift is contaminated with resentment when given under pressure, thus becoming unholy and worthless. This is believed by Hindus to be the true meaning of the free giving of which Jesus spoke when he said, "Ask and you shall receive," as opposed to beg and you shall receive--the way it is often done today. Hindus believe that when a gift is free from any form of selfishness, it has a way of meeting the needs of all; they call this principle "baracat," the ability of the gift to meet the needs of all when it is given from heart to heart. This is somewhat like the miracle of the loaves and two fishes. Miracles happen every day but we fail to take notice of them.

Hindus believe that the common practices of Truth, Right Conduct, Peace, Love and Nonviolence bind all religions together. Hindus emphasize the similarities of each religion rather than the differences. The same Christians who preach that God is everywhere, and agree that there is not any place where God is not, refuse to believe that all is God, and would readily deride this Hindu belief. However, they would have no difficulty paying homage, reverence and even worship to an impression of the likes of Jesus on the Shroud of Turin in the same manner as Hindus do when miracles of God are revealed.

Christians would have Hindus believe that the concept of the one God is of Judeo-Christian origin, but fail to show a connection with the formless Hindu Brahman or God Supreme of which Hindus have spoken for ages, long before the Judeo-Christian era. Hindus have always spoken of the formless Brahman and Sat-Chit-Ananda as synonyms for Consciousness, Energy, Intelligence, Love, Totality, Fullness and God.

The thousands of names of God or descriptions of God's love in Hinduism are names for the same one God that Christians misunderstand as different Gods. Hindus have different names in reference to qualities they ascribe to God. They are the different names for the same one God always known to Hindus as Brahman. This is not very different from the many names ascribed to one individual in his multiple functions and relationships with others as husband, father, brother, nephew, son, friend, doctor, chauffeur, boss, teacher, priest, etc. Hindus spoke about all as one in Spirit, long before Christians ever conceived of the concept. They conclude their rituals and prayers with a prayer for the welfare of all. The love of the one God that governs all is so intense that Hindus would regularly sing the love and glories of God in series of one hundred and eight or one thousand and eight virtues that are also referred to as names of the one God.

Christians still do not understand the true meaning of the statement by Jesus, "I and my Father are One." After hundreds of years of deliberation on the subject, Christians still understand the statement to mean that Jesus was born as both Man and God, and refuse to accept it as a progression in the Divine evolution of man to Godhead, readily available to all by the emulation of the great works of the loving Jesus. Jesus pointed to his own Divine evolution by explaining how He grew progressively from being a Servant of God to the Son of God, and finally God the Father. A study of the progression confirms what Hindus have believed in for ages. It firmly brings home the point of the ascendancy to Godhead by Jesus. This is only one of the many examples known to Hindus.

Are the divine progressions of Jesus or his spiritual evolution not the principles of Hinduism or are they contradictions? No, they point to the evolution of potential Divinity in man to Godhead, the true teachings of Hinduism? Despite this, Christians prefer to believe that God is separate and apart from man whom they believe was born of sin, and first has to be cleansed symbolically in the blood of Jesus to gain salvation.

Hindus continue to believe that man is born essentially good, peaceful, and loving, as the Atman, the same of which Christians speak. Hindus believe that man has to mend daily and past errors and know himself through self-inquiry and self-discrimination, and receive the grace of God or his own grace for self-realization and "moksha." Jesus pointed to his own Divine evolution as the truth, the life and the way for reaching Godhead. He said that no man gets to the father except through Him. The Buddha and Krishna also spoke, in their time, of their teachings of love as the only way to salvation and Godhead. Krishna said, "Love me and only me." Therefore, Hindus ask what makes Christianity the only way when the Love of God of which all religions speak is what is referred to as the only way?

Didn't Jesus say to his disciples that they were truly Gods, the very same truth which Hindus have taught for ages? Why would Jesus point and say that when you serve one of these people you serve me? He did not say that they have to be first cleansed. Was He not preaching the principle of nonduality in this message, the same nonduality taught by Hinduism?

Research scholars, broad-minded religious leaders and seekers of truth are now beginning to find a connection between several aspects of the Gospel writings and ancient Hindu teachings. Scientists, too, are proving age-old Hindu beliefs and truths regarding the continuous expansion of the universe, oneness or nonduality, age of the universe, consciousness, evolution, energy, atom, molecules, radiation, food, health, etc.

Hinduism is the most scientific of all religions, and can prove the existence of the principle of God without the need for a historical personality on which Christianity is founded. For Hindus, the formless God as Sat-Chit-Ananda or Being-Awareness-Bliss is also man's very own divine nature or the spiritual magnetic force hidden within for the realization of the evolutionary journey back home to Godhead. The principle of God as Being-Awareness-Bliss is the self-propeller that drives man to the knowledge of his own divine nature. Man yearns just to be universal, to know all, and to love in fullness, the inner call always in the silence of the heart that is known as God and evolves in the self-realization of all. Everyone can relate to this universal truth because of personal experiences. This simply proves the God-nature that is latent in man, waiting to be realized. However, Hindus know that man can never know God, but only live as God. It is said that many saints and prophets have gone in search of God, but only to return like Gods.

Hindus have many historical personalities as God's manifestations, not only one--long before the Christian dating of the universe--and claim these manifestations as inspirations in man's search for "salvation." Hindus believe that, from time to time when righteousness is at its greatest decline, the formless God takes human form as Avatars who live ideal lives for man to emulate for his ascendancy to Godhead. For this, Hindu Avatars have prescribed many pathways to God, unlike Christians who continue to question whether it is faith or good works that leads to salvation.

Hindus are taught to love God with intense daily or even hourly devotion for securing God's love, but not to fear God, as Christians are often taught. The hours of the day have great significance to Hindus for starting journeys, and many other events, even though most Hindus today may not pay close attention to them. Devout Hindus would always refer to astrological charts for the right time and day before entering any new undertaking. Fundamentalist Christians fear astrological readings even though the early Christian Churches continue to depict the sun on all their church buildings as the symbol of early Christian teachings about astrology.

Hindus believe that it is far more important for God to love you than for you to love God, and they reach out to God in a variety of ways to seek and identify with God's beautiful Love through a variety of rituals as well. In contrast, the fear of God appears to be a consistent theme in Christian thought. One such fear is currently being revealed by the Rev. Pat Robertson through his message to his congregation to fear the Hindu God, Siva. This illogical fear obviously demonstrates some belief by Rev. Robertson in the power of the Hindu God, Siva, otherwise he would have nothing to fear if he truly believes that Hindus worship false gods.

One is compelled to ask why the Rev. Robertson inflicts such fear in the hearts of his congregations about Hindu Gods? One must ask what kind of power the Hindu God has that the Christian God, Jesus does not have? Does the Rev. Robertson not remember the command, "get thee hence behind me Satan," when Jesus referred to His temptation by the Devil? Where is the belief in Christianity and faith in Jesus that the Rev. Robertson is supposed to have or convey to his congregations? The fundamental question remains, however, how can there be different Gods for different people? The Hindu scripture make no bones about God being one but referred to by different names by many.

The demonic nature or Devil worship of which Rev. Robertson speaks about in Hinduism is nothing but his lack of information about Hinduism, since Hindus do not even acknowledge the concept of a devil, so commonly preached in Christianity. Many modern Christians are beginning to have second thoughts about a devil, seeing the personification of evil as the devil as nothing but a metaphor used by Jesus for conveying some of his messages. For most Hindus, all is God and of God, with good as well as bad being functions or Deities of God. For Hindus, man is a microcosm of the universe with Godhead as man's potential. Jesus referred to this principle as the Kingdom of God within.

Who does not know that the concept of a Loving God is relatively new in Christianity, borrowed from other great religions, possibly to gain Christianity more followers? Even today, many Christian fundamentalists preach about God in terms of hell-fire, brimstone, damnation and eternal burning flesh in a fiery hell as God's punishments for wrong deeds, known in Christianity as sins. Christians readily accept God's punishment as emanating from God, but yet have much difficulty believing God to be the author of both good and bad.

Hindus, since ancient times, preached of a loving God who allows the mending of ways for "salvation" in as many lifetimes as are needed. Hindus often ask what kind of God would give a man only one lifetime to mend his errors, when Hindus have always known one day in Brahman to be thousands of earth years? Consequently, Hindus have always had strong beliefs in the one formless God, and the many manifestations of that formless God. The Hindu concept of reincarnation is not different from what Jesus preached, nor from what early Christians believed. Reincarnation was contained in early Christian teachings until its removal in the second Council of Constantinople in the year 553 A.D. It is possible that the fathers of the Christian Church did this to provide more control over their followers. To what was Jesus referring, if not reincarnation, when he asked, "But who do you say that I am?" Some said Elijah and others said John the Baptist, indicating that they were familiar with the teachings of reincarnation, as referred to by Jesus.

Hinduism distinguishes itself from all other great religions when it says "God dwells in you as you" with Karma, otherwise called "Action and Reaction," as the most dynamic principle, guiding Hindu morality to its heights. Is the principle of karma any different from the common belief adopted by Christians that you reap what you sow, or what goes around comes around? The principle of Karma is very much misunderstood by Christians who believe that Karma is a passive principle, or fatalistic one, rather than an active one. Karma simply means action and reaction, the dynamic guiding principles that lead the way to Godhead.

Yes Rev. Robertson, Hindus have millions of Deities, but they make no distinction between the one formless God and all the Deities that represent God's multiplicity of functions. Although Hindu scriptures provide an exact count of the millions of Deities or Gods, Hindus pay homage only to about a dozen or so. In the end, all Hindus accept these as different forms of the one God for carrying out a variety of functions. To Hindus, everything about God is God. Even a brief thought or reflection of God is a personal contact with the God within. Can anyone deny another the freedom to personify a functioning of God, or put a limit on the infinite aspects of God's functioning? One needs to ask how different this principle is from that of Christianity that sometimes refers to the church or the universe as the body of Christ.

Hindus are a free and liberal people whose liberal ideas and culture are promoted and encouraged rather than feared. Hinduism is also an individualistic religion with the freedom to choose one's personal Deity or "Ishta Devta" for worship and devotion, not one that denies multiple Deities as aspects of God's functioning. Hindus are neither weaker nor less religious by reason of their belief in the many manifestations and Deities of the one formless God.

Yes, Hindus have icons or idols, referred to as "murtis," as symbols in their communion with God, but never for one moment do they believe the material icon to be God's totality and fullness. That would be absurd, would it not? Christians know fully well that the ancient Jews only used the golden calf or cow as a symbol of God's abundance and the spirit of inexhaustible giving, the focus of their communion with the formless God.

The Jews were fully aware that the image of a calf or cow was not God, and their practice was not idol worship. Yet, Christians continue to defame Hinduism by claiming that they worship idols in the manner they thought the early Jews did, thereby making this one of the many reasons for their criticisms. Yet, no one can deny that all matter is alive and radiating with energy. Christians simply do not appreciate that the icon or idol that is both alive in consciousness and radiating with energy also serves to point the way to God. They would rather believe that Hindus worship idols because they fail to understand the Hindu traditions. They would also rather destroy what they cannot understand.

In worship, the Hindu focus is on God or Love, dynamic Consciousness and symbols of virtue when Consciousness is localized in the form of the icon. They appeal to and yearn for the qualities that the icons symbolize in the spiritual journey to self-realization and "moksha." The Deity of choice provides Hindus with a concrete pathway in their communion with God in the same manner that Christians often focus on the cross or the icon of Jesus when they pray.

It is well-known that for the first seven hundred years of Christianity, until the lamb was replaced on the cross by the icon of Jesus and the concept of Jesus dying on the cross for the sins of the world was substituted, the cross bearing the lamb served as the symbol of man's sacrifice to God. While Hindus may have no problem with this, they continue to ask how the icon, when used as a medium for communion with God by Hindus, is any more offensive to Christians and others than icons of Mary and Jesus, the Torah and the Bible, the Fire and Star, or the Cross and Kabba.

Symbolism provides an essential focus on the virtues that the icons symbolize. Hinduism never lowers the Deity to the status of the mundane, but the mundane may be elevated to the status of Divinity to distinguish it from idol worship. Most Hindus are fully aware that they cannot ascribe virtues to God--or even name God--because they know that which was created cannot truly know that which was never created.

While most religions object to idol worship, they fail to realize that they fully practice idol worship simply because they carry with them some concept of God. The true and highest understanding of God is demonstrated in Hinduism with the expression and directive nethi, nethi, nethi (or not this, not this, not this), meaning that God has no form and cannot be conceptualized. However, because of their longings to know God more intimately even though they are fully aware that God cannot be described, Hindus cultivate and focus their love on their most favorite form of God, pouring out their hearts in yearning for a personal relationship or contact with God to worship Love as God and God as Love.

Hindu spirituality is like an educational system, with form worship as the favored practice at the elementary stage. Form worship facilitates enduring love, and builds the foundation for daily worship in their ongoing relationship with God. The formless worship is regarded in traditional Hindu thought to be very difficult and complex for beginners, and is recommended for later years when higher levels of understanding are developed and achieved. The importance of worship through the form is never minimized, even when formless worship is reached or attained. Hindus know that, in the end, when the love of God evolves to divine awareness or wisdom, love and the act of worship is one and the same as God, and both the journey and the search are concluded in sat-chit-ananda.

The issue relating to rigidity in class structure to which some Christians cling in deriding Hinduism is not of the makings of the Hindu religion at all. God provided the class structures on the basis of dynamic aptitude, and they carry no rigidity whatsoever. It is based solely on one's inclination for work suited to one's nature, the same that holds true in most countries and in urban India today. While the class structure carried no order of social importance, man obviously arrogated one for measuring his importance over another, not unlike the same hierarchies in the West.

The Hindu class composed of the religious leaders and teachers is the equivalent of the human head and neck; the class of the protectors and defenders, the shoulders and arms; that of merchants and farmers, the stomach and trunk; and that of the laborers and cleaners, the legs and feet. The human body serves as the metaphor for making the point of the efficient functioning of the whole through its parts.

Hindus are quite familiar with family labor practices that have gained them a variety of surnames, synonymous with their professions, and which was also the practice of the entire Middle East at the time of the Muslim invasion of India. Preference for the profession of one's choice, over many generations, automatically gave rise to various ranks even though none was intended. Some of these carried built-in rigidities, or monopolies and barriers, for economic and social protection, and discouraged cross-over from one profession to another. While three of the classes remained relatively unhindered in their cross-over abilities, the "Sudra" or "legs and feet" class was not so fortunate because of their unskilled labor which was easily susceptible to exploitation by the foreigners in India at the time, and by the so-called upper classes.

The intent of the structural classifications was for giving overriding importance to Humanity as a single entity by the selfless functioning of the parts. This is the very essence and message of the Gita, one of the Hindu holy scriptures whose message is the sacrifice or offer of everything one thinks, says and does for the highest good of mankind, and of course to please God. The discharge of one's duty, with love, conveys the goal intended for focusing on the welfare and preservation of the whole entity through the support of the parts from each other.

Man's greed for dominance over another has unfortunately stigmatized these class structures, setting artificial barriers that excluded aptitude, and limited the free flow of crossover between them. Furthermore, it is believed that during the thousand years of foreign dominion over India, the class structures were mercilessly exploited for power through the principle of divide and rule.

While class structures became illegal following India's independence, the Indian system of justice is not as swift as its American counterpart in correcting historical aberrations. The failure to correct them are not the fault of Hinduism as a religion, but rather the failure of all succeeding Governments, since independence, to implement the mandates of the Indian Constitution aggressively so as to remove the ills of the "legs and feet class" in some Indian societies. This too, is not unlike what happened in the US relative to slavery.

India's growing success in becoming a world superpower remains the only hope for the removal of untouchables. The elevation of unskilled labor through new technology and training, competitive financial remuneration, labor union partnerships and a more equitable law enforcement policy remain the answer, similar to the way the US resolved this kind of problem that once blemished the name of the US and its people.

Many Hindus are resistant to changes to social structure because of their own selfish interests and bigotry that has nothing to do with the teachings of Hinduism. Hinduism offers many prescriptions for healthy living that are often ignored or rationalized as irrelevant as a way to justify and carry out preferences for modern ways or even social aberration, not unlike what Christians do when they want to justify controversial issues alien to true Christian teachings. Of course, man's inhumanity to man is also known in India, as in the West.

Westerners and Christians may better understand some of the problems in some Hindu societies by studying the conditions under which Slave trade flourished in the Middle East and in the Americas. It is hoped that with the proper understanding of the Hindu class structure and the complete removal of the scourge of untouchables in some Hindu societies in rural India, that the Hindu religion and the people of India will continue to take their proper place among the great religions and nations of the world.

With improved governance in India, Hindus have already begun to experience a slow breakdown of the social class rigidities which succeeding Indian Governments have failed to prioritize for making their nation greater. Hopefully, India and Hindus will continue to grow their economy at the present rate--or faster--to absorb all sectors of the Indian labor market and break down the barriers that artificially encourage rigidities.

Because of the rich depth of Hindu thought and philosophy, this great religion has stood the test of time. It will continue to do so--not only for India and Hindus but for the welfare of the entire world--because of its liberal, inclusive philosophies. Can it be accidental that the map of India bears a resemblance to the human heart? Can this symbolize India and Hinduism as the heart and conscience of the spiritual world, as it was intended and used to be? Perhaps the overall broad-mindedness and depth of Hinduism convey this message or motto best in the ancient prayer "Loka Samastha Sukhino Bhavantu," translated "Let all the people of all the world be happy."

Hopefully, this analysis will inspire the Rev. Robertson and others to study Hinduism with an open mind for a much deeper understanding of Hinduism. With increased knowledge about this relatively unknown or misunderstood religion in the West, Christian fundamentalists and all others will undoubtedly understand and appreciate the significant contributions Hinduism has made to science, as well as to the philosophies of all other religions.

Hopefully, too, the Rev. Pat Robertson will take good counsel, and allow all beliefs and ways for improved levels of living to flourish freely without any impediments.

Let us always rejoice and share joy when we learn of a single individual finding a better or different way for understanding the principle of peace, love, contentment--and even God--through any pathway, not just a Christian pathway.




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