Jump to content

Christian Conversions In Punjab: Battleground Anew


Recommended Posts

Christian Conversions in Punjab: Battleground Anew

On My Mind / Columns

Date: Oct 03, 2008

By I.J. Singh - I must confess that I was appalled when I first read reports of Christians targeting Punjab, Madhya Pradesh and other regions of India for massive conversions to Christianity. Punjab is the land of my religion - Sikhism - and that bothered me even more.

How could they do this, I wondered? Is it even legal in India? Isn't there a law against conversions on the books in India?

Then I thought some more.

Muslims invaded India a millennium ago, and uncounted millions converted to Islam - many at the point of a gun. During an earlier era, millions escaped the stultifying embrace (change that to a boa's death-grip) of caste-riven Hinduism by becoming Buddhists - until a resurgent Hinduism decimated Buddhism in India.

Sikhism arose in India just over 500 years ago. Many Hindus and Muslims flocked to its progressive ideals and became converts. The distinct identity of Sikhism does not sit well or comfortably with many Hindus, even today.

St. Thomas, one of the original apostles, is reputed to have taken Christianity to India; Brahmins perceived him a danger to Hinduism and probably killed him there.

Punjab has had two prominent and historic citadels of Christianity - in Ludhiana and Batala. The British, perhaps, felt then that if Punjab could convert to Christianity (much as a large swath of South India had done) then surely Punjab, and even greater India, would remain securely within the British Empire, maybe forever.

This is not the time or place to delve into the colorful history of the Holy Roman Empire, but don't forget that Christianity and political power were rarely and only briefly separate and distinct. Until recent times, they were seamlessly merged. The founders of the United States did separate church and state, but the minds of George W. Bush and many of his ilks continue to conflate the two.

When, after the British annexation of the Sikh Raj just over 100 years ago, Christian proselytization raised its ugly head in Punjab, it was then that Sikhs woke up with a start.

This marked the beginning of a reform within Sikhism and the rise of the Singh Sabha. This movement effectively put a stop to Christian conversions in Punjab. This extraordinary achievement came not by protest and public display of angst, but by a methodical and remarkable awakening amongst the common people led by the Singh Sabha.

Conversions have been happening all over the world, including Punjab. They are not likely to cease; after all, there is a smorgasbord of religions in the growing and global free marketplace out there.

But why all this emphasis on the small state of Punjab?

Keep in mind that there is real geopolitik at work here. The global realities are such that, to a West under siege, a powerful India is the only Asian counterweight to an increasingly muscular China and, as a nuclear power, the only one that can stem the rising tide of Islamic fundamentalism at the same time.

Punjab sits astride what has been the passageway to India for centuries, and it also abuts Kashmir as well as a nuclear Pakistan, two powerful powder kegs ever ready to blow. India today is a critical geographical and political presence. Strategic imperatives and economic interests of the Western world are closely intertwined with the realities of Punjab. For the Western nations, a Christianized Punjab is perceived as a potential bulwark and a dependable ally - not unlike the way Timor has recently been cultivated in the heart of Islamic Southeast Asia.

We Sikhs, like Hindus and Buddhists, welcome converts but do not go out to actively proselytize others, and nor does Judaism. But the two derivatives of Judaism - Christianity and Islam - seem absolutely convinced of the self-righteous idea that no human can be saved but by joining one of their movements.

Keep in mind that this hubris not only extends to these glorious traditions when they view others, but to each other as well. The only saving grace now is that conversions are no longer at the point of a gun as they used to be, and believers of other faiths not burned at the stake as they once were.

Sikhism, on the other hand, refuses to beguile people with promises of unmatched pleasures in the here and the hereafter if they join the faith, or frighten them with the eternal wrath of God if they don't.

Besides the "carrot and stick" idea of eternal reward and punishment, how does Christianity sell its product and go about converting people?

And from this we can learn.

There was a time when political power sustained the Christian message. And now, again, with the political ascendance of George W. Bush and the evangelicals, this model seems to be enjoying a second life, but with a difference. Now it is not raw power that comes from a gun, but it is economic colonization of a people.

Much of the world is still developing and has a long way to go before it can even feed its own people, much less turn their lives sublime. India is a prime example.

Most churches come with schools. People flock to them because education promises to lead them out of poverty. Many of my readers today, I am certain, are grateful products (alumni) of such schools, not because they fed us Christianity, but because they were academically good. They empowered us.

Many Christian centers also provide adult education, vocational training centers, a meeting place and often, if limited, medical care. These remain luxuries in contemporary Indian rural society, but they are essential to survival; they are the fundamentals of a life of hope.

On the other hand, the caste system still continues to define Indian society by placing Indians in a rigid hierarchy where every aspect of their life is defined for them, and where every move upwards meets a strongly resistant, almost unbreakable glass ceiling. This is doubly true of India's rural millions - the majority of the Indian population.

Christianity has found a niche in India by refusing to pander to the Indian caste-system. Imagine how liberating that idea is to a low-caste person - an untouchable - in Indian society.

Rejection of the caste-system and repudiation of the second-class status of women were cardinal lessons that the Gurus hammered into us when they made us Sikhs. It took them over 200 years to do so, but hardheaded as we are, these are not lessons that are etched in our bones yet. Our ties to the traditional Indian practices still bind us and control us.

I have to marvel at the management of this project of bringing Christianity to Punjab by the missionaries - I mean one can't but admire their technology and farsighted goal of building a church in each postal zone. This really means placing a simple church within walking distance of every Punjabi.

This reminds me of the FDR goal, following the depression era of the 1930's, of a chicken in every pot and a car in every garage as a way to focus on economic recovery of the United States.

Isn't a church in every village, along with its developmental services, going to be more effective than building huge marble mausoleums, admittedly with Guru Granth in each, but inaccessible to any but the rich? But this is what we commonly do when we build gurdwaras, and then we rue when they seem to have so little lasting impact on the lives of ordinary Sikhs.

Remember when gurdwaras were centers of education and community centers? People will go where they can get the help they need.

Remember the Singh Sabha? In Punjab or away from India, anger needs to be harnessed and channeled; progress methodically pursued and measured.

We know that Sikhi is a beautiful system of how to design a life. But like a salesman who is hawking GM cars in this day and age, we are supremely insecure and uncomfortable driving the product ourselves. If the GM salesman is personally lusting after the BMW, what is the probability, then, that he would sell well?

It seems to me an unassailable truism that all efforts must start with the individual. We can never teach others what we ourselves do not know. So that's where we start. That is essential but not sufficient to stem the rot.

One cannot miss the fact that the leaders of the church-building initiative in Punjab seem to be from the local areas. They are Punjabis; certainly at the people-to-people level; they are not imported from United States, Canada, Great Britain or similar lands with a stake in the program.

So, I would say, look not to the political structure of Punjab, the SGPC or the dysfunctional Sikh institutions in the Diaspora, for lighting our path. Think not of people (Sikhs or otherwise) coming from elsewhere to come and save us. We tried that once with importing Dayanand to Punjab at the beginning of the Singh Sabha, and he was a disaster who haunts us to this day.

Keep in mind, as a moral lesson, the fate of Gyani Ditt Singh - a stalwart of those days - whom we would not fully embrace because he had come to us from a "low caste". Look not to laws in India or elsewhere to come to our rescue. This is not their job.

A measured, sustained response is necessary; the race is not necessarily to the swift.

Some backbone needs to replace the siege mentality that often surfaces whenever we sense danger. The first step is a focus on self-development.

The second step would be inevitable, once the first is initiated, and the two will progress in tandem.

Institutions will and need to crop up to reverse the rot.

A new Singh Sabha!

Can it be done? Why am I optimistic that it will be done? Because history and Sikhi tell me so. We have been down that road many times before. It's a battle that must be fought; it is a battle that will be won.

A sports icon of yesteryear, Billie Jean King, who put women's tennis on the map, and revolutionized the place of women in professional sports, has just written a new book, Pressure is a Privilege.

Isn't that how we define "Chardi Kalaa"?

The book's title says it all. All we need to do is to transform a pressing matter into an opportunity.

Recommends Guru Nanak (GGS, p 474): "aapan hathee apnaa aape hee kaj savariyae" - he asks us to put our minds to grappling with, and resolving, our own needs.

The author, Inder Jit Singh, is a professor of anatomy at New York University. He is on the editorial advisory board of the Calcutta-based periodical, 'The Sikh Review' and is the author of four books: 'Sikhs and Sikhism: A View With a Bias,' 'The Sikh Way: A Pilgrim's Progress,' 'Being and Becoming a Sikh' and 'The World According to Sikhi.'

Ijs1@nyu.edu.

Link to post
Share on other sites

The biggest difference between Sikh parcharaks and missionaries is only one.

1. Sikh parchaarks do parchaar in a well advertised samagam in a big pandal where there is a big golak for collection of offerings in front of guru granth sahib. Everyone who comes contributes atleast some money and then eat langar.

Christian missionaries maintain person to person contact and visit houses (often secretly in the middle of the night) of gullible persons, often first starting by doing discources on the persons religion Hindu or Sikh, and then brainwashing them. Missionaries first praise the converts earlier religion and then declare it to be false and little in front of christ.The convert gets monetry benefits such as free aid medical and educational and dreams of visa to west.

How many of our people are able to read and understand guru granth sahib? How many can do without a granthi? What is the right way of Sikhi? A person speaks against SGPC and then is seen taking part in SGPC functions! What message is given out? Visit any gurdwara and you find readymade 'akhandpaaths'. Just pay more money and get ardaas done why wait for months or weeks! How many Sikhs can do Akhand paath with understanding on their own? And to top it every sant baba has his own interpretation. A common poor person will obviously get lost in this brahmanvaad in Sikhi!

http://www.hindustantimes.com/StoryPage/St...aith%2c+no+more

This is one battle that Sikhs and Hindus must fight together!

Link to post
Share on other sites
The biggest difference between Sikh parcharaks and missionaries is only one.

1. Sikh parchaarks do parchaar in a well advertised samagam in a big pandal where there is a big golak for collection of offerings in front of guru granth sahib. Everyone who comes contributes atleast some money and then eat langar.

Christian missionaries maintain person to person contact and visit houses (often secretly in the middle of the night) of gullible persons, often first starting by doing discources on the persons religion Hindu or Sikh, and then brainwashing them. Missionaries first praise the converts earlier religion and then declare it to be false and little in front of christ.The convert gets monetry benefits such as free aid medical and educational and dreams of visa to west.

How many of our people are able to read and understand guru granth sahib? How many can do without a granthi? What is the right way of Sikhi? A person speaks against SGPC and then is seen taking part in SGPC functions! What message is given out? Visit any gurdwara and you find readymade 'akhandpaaths'. Just pay more money and get ardaas done why wait for months or weeks! How many Sikhs can do Akhand paath with understanding on their own? And to top it every sant baba has his own interpretation. A common poor person will obviously get lost in this brahmanvaad in Sikhi!

http://www.hindustantimes.com/StoryPage/St...aith%2c+no+more

This is one battle that Sikhs and Hindus must fight together!

We need not align with cowards in any way. Our strength is Ardaas coz akal purakh fulfils it. None great gursikhs of the past aligned with cowards and won wars. Lions take it in themselves and deal with it rather than looking at jackals.

i had a visit from christain missionaries at my house today.

So, what happened,? :gg:

Link to post
Share on other sites

BJP, VHP, RSS, hindutva groups, and honestly most average hindus, don't even consider sikhi as a distinct faith, but a mere sect of hinduism. in fact, as you fight christian missionaries, Hindustan's constitution calls sikhs Hindus.

Hindus are fighting the fact that dalits are escaping from their caste system, and honestly, we are fighting "dalit sikhs" escaping from sikhi's imagined caste system.

the hindus fighting christian missionaries, VHP, Bajrang Dal, BJP, etc, are inhumane tyrants right up there wih those who torched sikhs in delhi 1984.

parchar is the answer. let people choose their faith. don't get caught up in the hysteria and join hands with murderers.

peace.

Link to post
Share on other sites

We need to get our house in order and do some parchar. The Punjabi social structure (aka caste system) is pushing a lot 'Dalit' Sikhs away but those who still are committed to Guru Sahib have built Gurdwaras and shown us what true Sikhs are supposed to be, fighting through all of the discrimination put towards them by thier own Punjabi people.

What the RSS, VHP, BJP & Shiv Sena are doing right now against Christians is no different that what the Mughals did to Hindus in the past, forceful conversion and the destruction of Mandirs. Now these right wing fanatics are burning down churches, raping nuns, and forcing coversions back to Hinduism.

Link to post
Share on other sites
I wish one of these missionaries visit me, i really wanna know what they have to say. will be nice if they come with some cash :)

haha toronto singh jee u are soo funny .that made me laugh .wil u share some of that cash wiv me too?hahaaaaaa .i need it to buy some barfi !!!!!

As part of my study of comparative religion ,i actually studied in a (hardcore)christian bible colege for 2 years where they train xtian priests and pastors ,so ,knowing the inside story of christianity ,it makes it easier for me to chase out one of these missionary types from my door hahaa .

Link to post
Share on other sites
I wish one of these missionaries visit me, i really wanna know what they have to say. will be nice if they come with some cash :)

They talk each religion down. I know someone who had them visit them, they were asian women and they and their comments could be taken as racist and derogatory against all religions. I have been to a punjabi church in the midlands in the uk where the preacher was preaching in punjabi and his comments could be taken as quite defamatory against other religions. It reminded me of Islamic preachers.

I believe they are working very hard to convert alot of villages in Punjab. Just watch Glory TV on sky (channel 832 i think, next to BritAsia) I have seen it where they have shown images of Sikhs in punjab building churches and praying. Im not sure if the images are being doctored for the asian christian community in the UK.

But i think there are quite a few punjabi preachers in the UK that have become quite fundamental in their comments and thoughts.

Link to post
Share on other sites

Join the conversation

You can post now and register later. If you have an account, sign in now to post with your account.

Guest
Reply to this topic...

×   Pasted as rich text.   Paste as plain text instead

  Only 75 emoji are allowed.

×   Your link has been automatically embedded.   Display as a link instead

×   Your previous content has been restored.   Clear editor

×   You cannot paste images directly. Upload or insert images from URL.

Loading...
  • advertisement_alt
  • advertisement_alt
  • advertisement_alt


  • Topics

  • Posts

    • India is going to be under the Chinese control.
    • Waheguru Ji We just had a very unexpected death that has shock us to the core.  Waheguru Ji..its sooo hard to process it. it doesn't even feel real   Why?!
    • https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-us-canada-58996186 Vikings had a settlement in North America exactly one thousand years ago, centuries before Christopher Columbus arrived in the Americas, a study says.     IMAGE SOURCE,GETTY IMAGES Image caption,Replica Viking homes and other items at L'Anse aux Meadows, a Unesco world heritage site in N Scientists say a new dating technique analysing tree rings has provided evidence that Vikings occupied a site in Newfoundland, Canada, in 1021AD. It has long been known that Europeans reached the Americas before Columbus's arrival in the New World in 1492. But this is the first time researchers have suggested an exact date. Writing in the journal Nature, scientists said they had analysed the tree rings of three pieces of wood cut for the Norse settlement at L'Anse aux Meadows. They said that using an atmospheric radiocarbon signal produced by a dated solar storm as a reference, they were able to pin the "exact felling year of the tree" to 1021. Such a solar storm - a huge blast of radiation from the Sun that hits Earth - was known to have taken place in the year 992AD, the scientists said. This enabled them to determine a more accurate date than previous estimates for the camp of about 1000AD. "The association of these pieces with the Norse is based on detailed research previously conducted by Parks Canada," the study says, adding that there was clear evidence the sampled wood had been modified by metal tools. It adds that the L'Anse aux Meadows camp was a base from which other locations, including regions further south, were explored. The authors say the discovery represents a definitive point for future research into the initial consequences of transatlantic activity, such as the transfer of knowledge and the potential exchange of genetic information and pathologies. Dr Colleen Batey, a Viking specialist associated with the Institute for Northern Studies in Scotland, says the study does not necessarily suggest Vikings were not in the area in 1000AD. "It suggests that the short-lived settlement was active in about 1021 when wood was being worked at the site, probably related to either building or ship repair," she says. "As an archaeologist, I might interpret this as one stage of the occupation activity, not necessarily the first or indeed the last." L'Anse aux Meadows, a Unesco world heritage site on the northernmost tip of the island of Newfoundland, is the first and only known site established by Vikings in North America and the earliest evidence of European settlement in the New World. Radiocarbon dating is a technique that measures residual concentrations of a radioactive isotope of carbon (carbon-14) present in an object. Carbon-14 decays over time and measuring how much is left tells you the age of a sample.  
    • Thank you,  means a lot
    • I think it's different. The other lady just used 'vision' , whilst @jkvlondonis quite educated and well read, basing predictions on life experience. 
×
×
  • Create New...

Important Information

Terms of Use