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Puri seer urges Sonia to recognise that conversion is unethical

Puri seer urges Sonia to recognise that conversion is unethical

Author: Tilak Sharma
Publication: The Times of India
Date: June 16, 2000

To win back Hindu votes, Congress president Sonia Gandhi must recognise that all conversions from Hinduism to Christianity, especially after Independence, have been made either forcibly or using unfair methods such as material inducements, said the Jagadguru Shankaracharya of Puri, Swami Nishchchalanand Saraswati, here on Wednesday.

Such a move would be an example of Ms Gandhi's nationalism, political patience and bravery, the Shankaracharya said in an exclusive interview to TOINS. She should also declare whether she considered herself a Christian, Parsi or Hindu, he said, adding that the question of her nationality was only secondary.

The Shankaracharya, however, claimed he did not want to be dragged into any controversy regarding this, since "Mulayam Singh Yadav, Tariq Anwar and Sangma are enough to deal with this and tease her if necessary."

The Shankaracharya quipped that the BJP was "always hankering after power" and criticised the party's dropping of its old gals, such as repeal of Article 370, ensuring a common civil code, and building the Ayodhya temple, in order to form the Union government.

About the proposed Ayodhya temple, the Jagadguru said he was in favour of a healthy atmosphere, especially awareness among Muslims, which alone could pave the way to building the temple. He however, doubted the intentions of many leaders in this context, saying they believed in the political maxim 'divide and rule'. He also said most Indian Muslims were originally Hindus (particularly Brahmins and Kshatriyas) several centuries ago. That is why the Sonia Gandhi's (foreign) origin was quite different from that of Muslims, he explained.

In reply to a query, he said "nationalist Muslims" must be supported. "The Hindu is basically a largehearted human, whose generosity shouldn't be misunderstood. India's Muslim population has full freedom and protection under the constitution here.

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