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Togadia and Azad
Debate between a priest and a liberal
The VHP's view of religion and tribals

Togadia obviously does not think of religion this way

For the Togadias in the Vishwa Hindu Parishad, the truth in this statement must be infinitely difficult to grasp. Which is why they keep digging into numerous Committee Reports, Evangelization pamphlets and other media reports to come up with 'consistent and irrefutable' proof that Christians are converting Hindus in mind-boggling numbers. The VHP's very essence of life on earth is violated when someone converts to another religion, from Hinduism. For the VHP, religion is a political issue, not a personal one.

For the members of the VHP and its supporters, it is man that belongs to religion and not the other way around. Their language contains more instances of the phrase; "these men belonging to Hinduism" than "..this form of Hinduism practiced by ...these men". Their vocabulary is more attuned to emit noises like "Hindu tribals" than to say "tribal Hindus".

For the VHP, the numbers of the people belonging to their religion as acutely important as it is to their counterparts. Yet their behavior towards the men of their own religion is despicable. For the VHP, the numbers are important, but only when people start running away from their religion. "In times of peace"; the VHP seems to say, "we have castes for you, and in times of conversions, we have knives and guns". The choice is clear for the tribal, stay oppressed or convert and face death.

The VHP just wants to keep the tribal in Hinduism and oppress him too. The VHP wants to have the tribal and eat him too.

The tribal is not a dumb idiot

The view of a tribal, as a 'dumb imbecile' who cannot deal with the everyday problems of life, and as someone who 'just cannot understand certain things' is the view most people seem to harbour and cherish in their minds. For these people, the tribal is an "innocent and nature-loving man" who is "untouched by the ravages of modern civilization". This is the reason they feel outraged when they start hearing stories of some missionary walking in 'one sunny day', distributing free pamphlets, Crosses and Bibles and 'brainwashing' the 'innocent and unsuspecting' tribals into embracing Christianity.

The average Indian tribal may be illiterate, but that doesn't mean he cannot think. That doesn't mean he cannot understand the difference between oppression and freedom. That doesn't mean he cannot discriminate between a lifestyle of subdjication and caste-based violence and a lifestyle which does not contain these elements. It is the idea of a casteless and oppression-free society that attracts Hindus to Christianity and Islam. And this attraction will remain a strong one unless Hinduism itself mends its ways.

And, the law of the land doesn't change according to popular perceptions of tribals' intelligence levels. If a tribal converts his religion, he converts it; neither do the local police, nor the priests in the nearest temple, have a say in that matter.

And by the way, quoting Mark Twain, only a 'dumb imbecile' will confuse his schooling with his education.

Go to Part #4. Mud-slinging, Gandhian quotes and liberal thinkers

Articles in this series...
Part 1. Conversions-Why we shouldn't be debating
Part 2. Conversions-Why we shouldn't be debating, Cont'd
Part 3.The VHP's view of religion and tribals
Part 4. Mud-slinging, Gandhian quotes and liberal thinkers

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