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HVK Archives: What kind of a God will condemn a 'heathen' child to eternal

What kind of a God will condemn a 'heathen' child to eternal - Communalism Combat

Swami Agnivesh ()
1997 September

Title: What kind of a God will condemn a 'heathen' child to eternal Hell? -
(Part II of III)
Author: Swami Agnivesh
Publication: Communalism Combat
Date: September 1997

Generally speaking, as stated earlier, a Hindu has no problem living next
to someone who believes in an altogether different God. He has absolutely
no objections to whatever forms of worship he/she practices as long as it
is within accepted norms of constitutional and humanistic environment.

One of the proofs of this is the fact that the Syrian Christians have had
small flourishing communities in Hindustan for more than 1500 years. The
Jews have lived with us for even longer without having been persecuted.
The Parsis, the previous Zoroastrians from Persia, have been here for
centuries. More recently, we have had a great influx of Bahais from Iran
who constructed the outstanding and already world-renowned Bahai Temple in
Delhi.

To emphasize my point further, at the time of partition, there were about
10 per cent Hindus living in present day Pakistan. They have now dwindled
to a negligible number. In east Pakistan, present-day Bangladesh, Hindus
who formed 25 per cent of the population in 1947 have now been reduced to
about 10 per cent. During the same period, the Muslim population in
Hindustan has doubled in actual number while in percentage terms, it has
slightly increased in relation to the overall population.

Admittedly, there have been also many communal clashes in India between
Hindus and Muslims. We must also remember the sad incidents of Sikh and
Hindu violence in recent times. But these clashes are mainly being created
by political goons for personal gains or party alignments.

The recent rise of Hindu fundamentalism is to a great extent a reaction to
national and international Muslim fundamentalism. In a country with such
poverty and social injustice where more than half of the population cannot
read nor write, it is easy for the Muslim and Hindu masses to fall prey to
fanatical clerical and political demagogues. Many communal riots in India
have been insti-gated by such corrupt interest groups.

But all educated heathens are fully conscious, they know that Islam divides
the world into good and bad, Dar-ul-Islam (the house of Islam) and
Dar-ul-harab (the house of war or enemy country) and that it is the
religious duty for every Muslim to see that the whole world eventually bows
to Allah. Islamic injunctions like: Fight in the name of Allah and In the
way of Allah; Fight against those who disbelieve in Allah; Make a holy war;
are not very conducive for a dialogue.

It is of no use trying to project some esoteric meaning into such obvious
commands, particularly since they can be backed up by other ones.
Unfortunately, every fanatic mullah talks in these words. Comforting
phrases like: You have your religion, I have mine (Koran, Surah Al-An-Am,
Verse 108) mean little to Hindu and Buddhist ears as we have seen the loss
of Hindu influence from Iran to Indonesia to proselytizing Islam.

Such comforting sayings don't convince us anymore. History is its own
proof since the basic tenet of this faith is to conquer and subdue the
whole world in the name of Allah. The handful of Quranic sayings like the
one quoted above are from the earlier Meccan period of the Prophet. But
for 1400 years, Islam and Islamic persons have taken as their guides the
much harsher revelations of the Medina period.

We Hindus have our reservations against proselytizing faiths. We are well
aware that not one ancient pagan culture was able to survive among Semitic
creeds. We are scared when we look at the problems the Coptic Christians
and other Christians have in Egypt, Sudan and Turkey. We know about the
fate of the Bahais in Iran, the Ahmediyas in Pakistan and the Chakma
Buddhists in Bangladesh.

The Christians are instructed by Jesus: Go into the world and preach the
Gospel to all creatures. He who believes and is baptized will be saved, but
he who does not believe will be condemned (Mark 16, 15-16).

How does this statement sound to non-Christians? How would the Christian
world react if 2,49,000 (the number of Christian missionaries in 1986,
according to the Mission Handbook) Hindu missionaries were to be busy
saving souls in the Western world? In 1983/84 North Americans (USA &
Canada) supported 67,000 overseas personnel.

American Protestant missionaries working in India have already created
22,000 local churches. What would Catholics who enjoy special state
privileges in countries such as Switzerland, Bavaria and Ireland say if
Hindus and Buddhist would come and set up large scale missionary stations
in their midst?

What would the Islamic world say if billions of petrodollars are poured
into their countries to establish Hindu schools and to build innumerable
temples. How would our Muslim sisters and brothers react if the Hindu
minority were to ask for a Hindu personal Hindu in Islamic countries just
as the Muslims have in secular India?

It is the prevalent view of most Hindu thinkers, including Mahatma Gandhi,
who was known for his religious tolerance, that a true pluralist seeking a
dialogue, would demand that Christianity and Islam liquidate their
missionary apparatus.

In the Bible it says: Pour out thy wrath upon the heathen that have not
known Thee, and upon the Kingdom that have not called upon thy name (Ps:
83, 16-17); or, He shall judge among the heathen, He shall fill their
places with dead bodies; He shall wound the heads over many countries (Ps:
110, 5-6).

Can there ever be a true dialogue if such scriptural sayings are taken as
the infallible command and word of God? How can we ever accept to live in
peace if we were to honestly follow the injunction: Oh ye who believe, take
not Jews and Christians for friends. They are friends one to another. He
among you who has taken them for friends is (one) of them; Lo Allah guideth
not wrong doing folk (Koran 5:5:51); or, If there come any unto you and
bring not this doctrine (about Christ), receive him not into your house,
neither greet him; For he that greets him is partaker of his evil deeds
(John 2: 9-11).

What scriptures and law books some of our Brahamins and Pandits in
Hindustan have been fabricating in the name of gods and goddesses and for
their own self-glorification can be equally embarrassing for any Hindu
thinker. For example:

Stree Shudro Na Dhiyatam (Women and low caste born have no right to
education); or,

Kimekam Narakasya Dwarah? - Nari (Which is the door to hell? - Woman).

Shouldn't we professional script commentators and exponents of religion do
some reflecting and soul-searching and delve deep in reflective stance
ourselves? Have we ever asked ourselves what we do to our lay people in
the name of God and religion?

What kind of a God condemns an unbaptised child to eternal hellfire? What
kind of a God wants women in 45 degrees Celsius and 80 percent humidity in
a burqa/ hijab? What kind of a God sentences a human to a lifelong
occupation as a toilet cleaner or bonded Laboured What kind of a God
reserves Nirvana only for men and asks women to be quiet in church? What
kind of a God wants us to bless canons and weaponry and insists on female
circumcision?

What kind of God expects a widow to immolate herself on her husband's
funeral pyre? What kind of a God makes millions of women cry at the birth
of a female child?

We religious professionals carry a great responsibility to stop rising
fundamentalism and obscurantism. It is our ridiculous insistence which
claims every scripture to be the absolute authoritative word of God. How
many God-given infallible books are being peddled in this world?

I belong to the Arya Samaj, a reformist Hindu movement, though I was once
raised as an orthodox Hindu with all the never-ending rituals,
idol-worshipping and so-called God-revealed instructions with hundreds of
superstitions.

I believe that all scriptures contain valuable spiritual instructions, but
they also contain questionable statements and these, taken out of context,
are very dangerous. I believe we should extract from the scriptures what is
morally, ethically and spiritually uplifting and forget all the clerical
interpolations which are part of all holy books.


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