2. Professor G.C. Asnani
2. Professor G.C. Asnani
I broadly agree with the stand taken by Dr. Shreerang Godbole.
In a labour organisation concerned with purely economic problem, why bring religion - Sarva Dharma, etc.?
We were five student friends studying in Karachi College in the beginning of 1940’s. One of us started taking interest in the RSS. The rest of us vehemently opposed him, calling him communalist; we were nationalists, secularists, congressites. We believed in Mahatma Gandhi’s approach of love and Hindu-Muslim bhai-bhai. When Mahatma Gandhi failed in his vow to oppose partition of India, and he succumbed to Muslim demand for partition, we got shaken and somewhat disillusioned.
Then came the question of Hindus staying inside Sindh even after partition. I was surprised to find that the very Sindhi Congress leaders who were advising Sindhi Hindus on public platform to stay on in Sindh after partition, were themselves quietly making preparations for running out to Bharat, seeking security for themselves and their families, cheating the poor Sindhi Hindu masses. I questioned one of my leader friends, ‘What is it that you are doing? You are advising the gullible Sindhi Hindus to stay on in Pakistan while you are making preparations to run out before them?’ These leaders had become experts in practising cheating and hypocrisy; they ran with the hare and hunted with the hound.
Even after all such leaders ran out - they actually flew out in aeroplanes - safely to this side of India, they started preaching the same old thing over again (Hindu-Muslim bhai-bhai) since that was a very profitable and paying profession on this side of India. They again opposed those whom they had called communalists before, before themselves flying out of Sindh, leaving the poor gullible Sindhi Hindus in the lurch. Then I had some correspondence with one of them, who was preaching love and love between Hindus and Muslims; I asked him, ‘Who invited you to come here to India, leaving Sindh? If you really believe in what you preach on public platform, then the most honest thing for you will be to go back to Pakistan and preach your philosophy of love.’
Where do you find consistency between preaching and practice? Great men preach, the poor gullible Hindus suffer and suffer.
- Then I happened to go and live outside India, once for one year in USA and then continuously for eight years in International University circles in Africa. I felt intellectually free from the foggy atmosphere which prevailed in India in respect of ‘SECULARISM’. I found that practically all the ‘SECULAR’ States of Europe including England had their State religion, which the Head of the State was, by law, obliged to protect. In fact, in England, not only a non-Christian cannot be the Head of the State; even amongst Christians, a Roman Catholic cannot be the Head of the State; the Head has to be an Anglican Christian. There are laws and privileges for the Church enforced by the State. Religious minorities have limited freedom to offer their prayers and worship of God; but they have no special privileges which the religious majority community does not have.
On April 5, 1982, the House of Representatives in USA decided that the year 1983 should be observed in the United States as the ‘Year of the Bible’ and, accordingly, under his own signature, President Ronald Reagan of USA made the Declaration to this effect. (See Appendix)
I wondered what hue and cry would be raised in India, by the supporters of secularism of UK and USA, if the President of India were to declare any year as the ‘Year of the Geeta’.
Governments of UK and USA know very well that part of the government money and government concessions in taxes given to the churches goes out of their countries for the purpose of conversions to Christianity. In other words, these secular governments support their churches to spread Christianity throughout the world. This is true practically for all governments of Europe.
Indian secularism is of a very peculiar variety which, perhaps, the so-called secularists of India do not understand. They have just caught the English word ‘secularism’ without understanding its meaning in theory and practice and go on parroting this word day and night.
- A friend of mine sent me a book published in USA. The book was titled ‘The X-Rated Bible’. It quoted several passages from the ‘Holy Bible’, which were extremely revolting to my conscience and sense of Hindu ethics as known to me. I could hardly believe that there existed a book where God had commanded His followers to batter the heads of babies in the presence of their parents, to rape the women in the presence of their husbands, to burn the cities, to capture the virgins of the conquered towns, and to kill the married women and the first born male child of every non-believer, etc.; that God was jealous and had entered into a covenant with his chosen community, ordering it to go and conquer the whole earth, to subjugate and convert the people of other religious faiths; that God had made the Church infallible and given it absolute authority to rule over men and women on this earth and in heaven perpetually; that the believers and obedient servants of the Church shall have the divine authority to enjoy this earth and to live in luxurious paradise eternally after death; and that non-believers were condemned to perpetual slavery and eternal hell.
Amazed and not believing these quotations, I checked with my copy of the ‘Holy Bible’ and found the statements to be absolutely correct, printed in black and white in my copy of the ‘Holy Bible’ which I had purchased in Nairobi. I went out and purchased another copy of the ‘Holy Bible’ from the Catholic Book Shop in Pune. It was just the same.
Even Jesus Christ whom I had always believed to be a preacher of love and peace had the following words put in his mouth:
‘I came to set the earth on fire Do you suppose that I came to bring peace to the world? No, not peace but division. From now on a family of five will be divided, three against two and two against three. Fathers will be against their sons and sons against their fathers; mothers will be against their daughters and daughters against their mothers; mothers-in-law will be against their daughters-in-law and daughters-in-law against their mothers-in-law’ (Holy Bible, New Testament, Luke 12. 49-52).
Also, Jesus Christ was advising his believer followers, ‘Sell your coat and buy a sword’ (Holy Bible, New Testament, Luke 22.36).
Having verified the quotations, I could now understand the history of the struggle between the Church on one hand and the rulers and intellectuals of Europe on the other hand about which I had read in the textbooks of history in my college days. Men of reason and moral sense could not accept such teachings as rational and ethical.
I could also understand why Communism had risen in Russia, altogether prohibiting religion and the Church in USSR. The Communists had gone to the other extreme, ignoring the basic urge of a human being to offer prayers and to worship God. Religion cannot be expelled from the life of a human being.
I also read ‘Crux Ansata: An Indictment of the Roman Catholic Church’ by the noted historian H.G. Wells. It reveals the role of the Church in creating dissensions and wars in the world.
I also read the book ‘Why I am not a Christian’ written by the Nobel Laureate Bertrand Russell. He was disgusted with the dogmas of Christianity which had created wars and blockaded the freedom of thought and belief.
- I then turned to the study of Islam. Instead of going to second rate and third rate literature on Islam, I took up the study of the ‘Holy Koran’ and ‘The Hadis’. I was surprised to find almost similar instructions in the ‘Holy Koran’ as in the ‘Holy Bible’ in respect of relationship between ‘Believers’ and others. Believers were given instructions by Allah and the Prophet to rob, to murder and to burn the habitats of non-believers wherever and whenever they could find the strength to do so. Allah had also entered into a covenant with the Believers and Prophet Mohammed, giving them authority to rule over the earth for all time to come and then enjoy houris in heaven, authority and obligation to remove all other religions from the surface of the earth. According to the command of the Holy Prophet, there has to be a perpetual religious war (Jihad) between the Muslims and non-Muslims, urging the Muslims to convert the non-Muslims through persuasion, terrorism and regular march of the armed forces, destroying the communities and townships which refuse to yield and get converted to Islam. The Believers were advised to lay in ambush and suddenly attack the non-believers unwares when the latter were either in sleep or at play!
I could now understand why Mahatma Gandhi failed to resist the partition of India. There was a clear and logical connection between the history of Islam including the partition of India and the teachings of the Holy Quran and The Hadis. Events were moving with mathematical precision. Given the startling exhortations of these ‘religious’ teachings, results cannot be different. There is cold logic, with cause-and-effect in life. Only we have to understand it. Muslim violence and terrorism which is on the increase throughout the world at present, gets its continuous food from the teachings of the Holy Quran and The Hadis. Why call them fundamentalists? They are just following the teachings of their scriptures. We need hard work and capacity to understand the cold logic of the past and current events of history. Running around and delivering vote-catching speeches do not help our understanding.
Suspecting that I might be having incorrect translations of the ‘Holy Koran’ and ‘The Hadis’, I referred to different editions of these scriptures including those edited by noted Muslims scholars and published by orthodox publishing houses.
I felt certain that I was not reading wrong translations.
I could now understand the history of Islam which I had read in textbooks in my school and college days.
I had seen the extreme aggressiveness of the Muslim community before the partition of India. I also witnessed their somewhat subdued attitude immediately after the partition. Soon, their aggressiveness increased. When I returned to India towards the end of 1982 after an 8-year long stay outside India, I found the increased aggressiveness of the Muslim community as in pre-partition days. By this time, the Christian churches had also become aggressive.
- Having studied the teachings of different religions, I could see the logic of increasing aggressiveness of the Muslim community and the churches. I could also see why a number of Hindu politicians were committing the same mistake of appeasement of aggressive minorities which was made by Hindu leaders before the partition. The Hindu leaders had neither the time nor the patience to study the basic structures of the proselytizing religions like Christianity and Islam. I came to the following conclusions:
(i) Basically, every human being wants to live a life of peace and happiness, seeking protection of God and worshipping Him for protection and peace. As such, every human being turns to his religion.
(ii) Every religion has three aspects:
(a) Relationship between a person and God.
(b) Relationship between a person and other persons having the same religion.
(c) Relationship between a person and persons of other religions.
Broadly speaking, all religions teach the same thing in respect of aspect (a) and (b) above, e.g. pray to God, help and love others, help the persons in difficulties, etc. That is absolutely fine; there can be no quarrel with it.
However, in respect of (c), all religions do not teach the same thing. Proselytizing religions insist on religious conversion of persons thus getting them inside their own walls and fences if they are to receive love and help. They divide the human family into two warring factions: Believers and non-believers; the latter are despicable persons and there has always to be a war with them until they are converted. Hence, the religious institutions of the proselytizing religions inculcate, in the minds of their followers, a feeling of hatred against other religions and their followers; they are goaded to be at war with them, even though outwardly they may speak sweetly. Thus, inter-religious wars are created by the proselytizing religions, first in the minds of men, then on public platforms through political alignments, and finally on battle-grounds.
Policy of conversions is a declaration of war against other religions.
Inter-religious wars between Islam and Christianity are currently going on in Israel, Palestine, Lebanon, Cyprus, Yugoslavia, Algeria, Sudan, Nigeria, Ethiopia, Georgia, Azerbaijan, the Philippines and Indonesia. These wars are inherent in the teachings of these religions. Even Roman Catholics and Protestants are fighting in Ireland. There are no ‘communal’ Hindus in these countries to be blamed for wars.
- Hinduism is very different from these proselytizing religions in respect of aspect (c), i.e. relationship between a person and persons of other religions. Hinduism believes that there is one God but his manifestations are infinite in number. Devotees of God can worship Him in infinite number of ways. All forms of worship lead a person to God provided that the devotee is sincere in his worship and noble in his conduct. God is limitless and boundless. All boundaries created in the name of religion between Believers and non-believers and covenants with God are man-made. The essence of man is divine; the role of religion is to manifest that divinity which is already in man, irrespective of the religious community in which a person is born. Like a mother, God understands the cry of a child, in whichever language the child speaks. It is not proper for any religion to spread perpetual hatred against persons of other religions, using the name of God to exterminate other societies along with their social, religious and political structures. If they persist in these activities, they are not religions but aggressive political ideologies.
If proselytizing religions do not give up their narrow-mindedness, dividing human race into holy Believers and unholy non-believers, they will land themselves and the whole world into terrible inter-religious warfare. Here, Hinduism has a message for the whole world.
All human beings belong to one human family. The merit of a person on this earth and after death is to be judged by the nobleness of his conduct and not by the creed he professes and the prophet to whom he declares his allegiance. Let us all worship God, with a sincere heart, in whatever form of worship we like. God knows the sincerity of men and the devotion of his devotees. God is the father, the mother, the protector of all, irrespective of religion, caste, creed, colour, age, or sex. This broad-mindedness of Hinduism will ultimately be accepted by the whole world and every person will learn to live in peace with every other person as a human being above everything else. Nobleness of conduct towards one another is a primary thing for peaceful collective life.
- It is high time that we Hindus study the teachings of various religions, and learn from facts of history; at least we should read studies made by eminent scholars of the world. I give below some quotations from the book, The Hindu Way of Life, written by Prof. Radhakrishnan, late President of India:
(i) ‘From the Rishis, or seers, of the Upanishads down to Tagore and Gandhi, the Hindu has acknowledged that truth wears vestures of many colours and speaks in strange tongues’ (p. 27).
(ii) ‘Hinduism is wholly free from the strange obsession of some faiths that acceptance of a particular religious metaphysic is necessary for salvation, and non-acceptance thereof is heinous sin meriting eternal punishment in hell’ (p. 28).
(iii) ‘Heresy-hunting, the favourite game of many religions, is singularly absent from Hinduism’ (p. 28).
(iv) ‘The intolerance of narrow monotheism is written in letters of blood across the history of man from the time when first the tribes of Israel burst into the land of Canaan. The worshippers of the one jealous God are egged on to aggressive wars against people of alien cults. They invoke divine sanction for the cruelties inflicted on the conquered. The spirit of old Israel is inherited by Christianity and Islam’ (p. 40).
(v) ‘Wars of religion which are the outcome of fanaticism that prompts and justifies the extermination of aliens of different creeds were practically unknown in Hindu India’ (p. 55).
(vi) ‘Hinduism insists not on religious conformity but on a spiritual and ethical outlook in life’ (p. 55).
Can we brand Prof. Radhakrishnan, late President of India, as a communal fanatic and ourselves as secular nationalists? What is the study we have made beyond parrot-like talking of ‘secularism, secularism’ on public platforms? Have we cared to understand past history and current events? Do the events of history just occur out of the blue? We have to base our policies on understanding and reason.
Senate Joint Resolution 165
97th Congress 2nd Session****
IN THE HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES
April 5, 1982
Passed the Senate March 31 (legislative day, February 22), 1982. Attest: William F. Hildebrand, Secretary.
Authorizing and requesting the President to proclaim 1983 as the ‘Year of the Bible’.
Vol. 48, No. 26
Monday, February 7, 1983
Title 3 - Proclamation 5018 of February 3, 1983
The President YEAR OF THE BIBLE, 1983
By the President of the United States of America
Of the many influences that have shaped the United States of America into a distinctive nation and people, none may be said to be more fundamental and enduring than the Bible.
Deep religious beliefs stemming from the Old and New Testaments of the Bible inspired many of the early settlers of our country, providing them with the strength, character, convictions, and faith necessary to withstand great hardship and danger in this new and rugged land. These shared beliefs helped forge a sense of common purpose among the widely dispersed colonies - a sense of community which laid the foundation for the spirit of nationhood that was to develop in later decades.
The Bible and its teachings helped form the basis for the Founding Fathers’ abiding belief in the inalienable rights of the individual, rights which they found implicit in the Bible’s teachings of the inherent worth and dignity of each individual. This same sense of man patterned the convictions of those who framed the English system of law inherited by our own nation, as well as the ideals set forth in the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution.
For centuries the Bible’s emphasis on compassion and love for our neighbor has inspired institutional and governmental expressions of benevolent outreach such as private charity, the establishment of schools and hospitals, and the abolition of slavery.
Many of our greatest national leaders - among them Presidents Washington, Jackson, Lincoln, and Wilson - have recognized the influence of the Bible on our country’s development. The plainspoken Andrew Jackson referred to the Bible as no less than ‘the rock on which our Republic rests.’ Today our beloved America and, indeed, the world, is facing a decade of enormous challenge. As a people we may well be tested as we have seldom, if ever, been tested before. We will need resources of spirit even more than resources of technology, education, and armaments. There could be no more fitting moment than now to reflect with gratitude, humility, and urgency upon the wisdom revealed to us in the writing that Abraham Lincoln called ‘the best gift God has ever given to man But for it we could not know right from wrong.’
The Congress of the United States, in recognition of the unique contribution of the Bible in shaping the history and character of this nation, and so may of its citizens, has by Senate Joint Resolution 165 authorized and requested the President to designate the year 1983 as the ‘Year of the Bible.’
Federal Register/Vol. 48, No. 26 /Monday, February 7, 1983****
NOW, THEREFORE, I, RONALD REAGAN, President of the United States of America, in recognition of the contributions and influence of the Bible on our Republic and our people, do hereby proclaim 1983 the Year of the Bible in the United States. I encourage all citizens, each in his or her own way, to reexamine and rediscover its priceless and timeless message.
IN WITNESS WHEREOF, I have hereunto set my hand this third day of February, in the year of our Lord nineteen hundred and eighty-three, and of the Independence of the United States of America the two hundred and seventh.
[FR Doc. 82-31372
Filed 11-12-82; 11:15 am]
Billing code 3195-01-M
Footnotes: The writer is now settled in Pune after having worked as a Professor in the United Nations Service for several years. His devotion to Hindu causes is well known.