Wednesday, November 08, 2006

Should we Evangelise?

Krinvanto Vishvam Aryam [Lets Aryanise the world] ~ Rig Veda

There have been great conquering races in the world. We also have been great conquerors. The story of our conquest has been described by that noble Emperor of India, Asoka, as the conquest of religion and of spirituality. Once more the world must be conquered by India. This is the dream of my life, and I wish that each one of you who hear me today will have the same dream in your minds, and stop not till you have realised the dream. They will tell you every day that we had better look to our own homes first and then go to work outside. But I will tell you in plain language that you work best when you work for others. The best work that you ever did for yourselves was when you worked for others, trying to disseminate your ideas in foreign languages beyond the seas, and this very meeting is proof how the attempt to enlighten other countries with your thoughts is helping your own country. One-fourth of the effect that has been produced in this country by my going to England and America would not have been brought about, had I confined my ideas only to India. This is the great ideal before us, and every one must be ready for it — the Conquest of the whole world by India — nothing less than that, and we must all get ready for it, strain every nerve for it… Up, India, and conquer the world with your spirituality! ~ Swami Vivekananda

So yes we SHOULD evangelise. Its not merely about giving good thought to others. It is the much needed antidote for the slavish mentality which has been gripping the Hindus.

In my opinion even the talks of “first protecting the Hinduism from the onslaught of Semitic religions” is also just another form of this slavish mentality. Real pride is not content with defending what one has, but is also keen on sharing our ideals with the entire world.

Instead of passivity, activity; for the standard of weakness, the standard of strength; in place of a steadily yielding defense, the ringing cheer of the invading host. Merely to change the attitude of the mind, in this way is already to accomplish a revolution.

It is surprising to think how radical a change is entailed in many directions by this conception. We are longer oppressed with jealousy or fear, when we contemplate encroachments on our social and religious consciousness. Indeed, the idea of encroachment has ceased, because our work is not now to protect ourselves but to convert others. Point by point, we are determined not merely to keep what we had but to win what we never had before. The question is no longer of other people’s attitude towards us but rather of what we think of them. It is not how much we kept but how much we annexed. We cannot afford to lose, because we are sworn to carry the battle far beyond our remotest frontiers. We no longer dream of submission, because struggle itself has become only the first step towards a distant victory to be won.

This is by no means to say that we should also do all the sort of things which we hate others for doing against us. We not just aim to aryanise the world, we do it the Aryan way. As Swami Vivekananda adds to the above para “ Ay, as has been declared on this soil first, love must conquer hatred, hatred cannot conquer itself. Materialism and all its miseries can never be conquered by materialism. Armies when they attempt to conquer armies only multiply and make brutes of humanity. Spirituality must conquer the West.”

Disclaimer: I freely plagiarized from Sister Nivedita, making minor changes to suit the context. Hence could not quote.

Onkar's original post on this subject:
Considering that India, the country with the largest number of Hindus in the world is under attack from Chrsitian and Muslim evangelists, who are trying anything and everything in their power to convert and subvert Hindus into leaving their tradition and accepting a foreign faith and culture, what should be the duty of the Hindus in this regard?

While there are some organisations that are proselytising Hinduism to those who have converted to other religions to bring them back to the Hindu fold, these organisations have a fundamentally political motive and therefore, will have limited success in reaching out to the people.

Also, these organisations will have little influence on people outside India. The only Hindu lobbies outside of India are those of Hindus who have settled abroad, and even their children and they themselves are subjected to conversion attempts, depending on what country they are in.

Therefore, I think the need of the hour is, as Swami Vivekananda said, that Hindu organisations that have the economic clout should start proselytisation not only in Indian regions where Hinduism is dead or dying, but also in foreign countries where Hinduism even has a marginal foothold, and attempt to make this foothold stronger.

To me, it does not matter what kind of Hinduism is being preached to the people, which is why I commend the ISKCON people even though I do not agree with their philosophy, for spreading Hindu values and ideas in foreign lands.

However, some people say that it is against the spirit of Hinduism to evangelise, since all religions are the same.


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