Hindu Vivek Kendra
«« Back
Hindu seers condemn religious conversions in India

Hindu seers condemn religious conversions in India

Author: Sugita Katyal
Publication: Yahoo News
Date: November 15, 2001
URL: http://in.news.yahoo.com/011115/64/18vhe.html

New Delhi (Reuters) - Hindu religious leaders and scholars voiced strong opposition on Thursday to religious conversions in India and urged different faiths to live together in harmony instead.

"If a person is converted by proselytization, he's uprooted from his tradition. There's a need to see we all live in harmony and mutual respect," a saffron-clad Hindu spiritual leader, Swami Dayananda Saraswati, told a conference on preservation of religious diversity.

Hindu seers at the conference did not single out any particular religion. But conversion is a sensitive issue in India where hardline Hindu groups accuse Christian missionaries of using lures such as schools and health care -- which they call "forced conversions" -- to get poor people to join their faith.

"You should not try to convert by force, fraud or inducements," former President R. Venkataraman told the conference.

Christian activists deny accusations of using inducements such as education to get people to convert and say they only provide charity.

Participants at the congress said different faiths should respect each other's traditions rather than try to destroy them.

"Conversions are neither advisable nor desirable. The religion into which a person is born is the best for his spiritual upliftment," a Hindu seer from southern India said.

"Forced conversions will never be tolerated. Different religions should coexist and live in mutual harmony," he said.


Earlier this month, thousands of Hindu untouchables converted to Buddhism at a huge ceremony in New Delhi, shunning centuries of caste discrimination.

Though caste discrimination is outlawed, India's 160 million Dalits who sit at the bottom of the 3,000-year-old caste system still face social discrimination in parts of the Hindu-majority country.

Venkataraman said conversions were to blame for some of the religious violence in the country that erupts in the country.

Christians have been the target of a spate of religious attacks in Hindu-majority India over the past few years.

"Conversions lead to animosity among religious groups. They also lead to retaliation by reconversion," Venkataraman said.

"As a result, communal rioting, arson and looting follow. Induced conversions are a grave threat to national and world peace and harmony," he said.

Early in 1999, Christian priests were attacked and prayer halls burnt in Gujarat, sparking a wave of violence against Christians in other parts of the country.

Christian missionaries and activists blamed right-wing Hindu organisations for the attacks. Hindu leaders denied the charge but said religious conversions were responsible for unrest in tribal areas where the attacks took place.

Back                          Top

«« Back
  Search Articles
  Special Annoucements