You are here: Sri Vaishnava Home Page : Bhakti List : Archives : April 1997

Conversions

From: Martin Gansten (mgansten_at_sbbs.se)
Date: Sun Apr 13 1997 - 05:15:32 PDT

Rajesh Veeraraghavan writes:

> A friend of mine is converting to Christianity.
>And I am disturbed by it becoz of the reason he gave me. He was saying
>Hinduism punishes people for what they have done and they are not tolerant
>as other religions are. And I am confused with the argument. 

As someone who has been brought up in a Christian (if not very devout)
environment, perhaps I should make a reply -- not to help you dissuade your
friend from converting (in my experience, that it often not worthwhile), but
to try to alleviate some of your own confusion. 

First of all, I react to someone's selecting a religion as though he were
choosing between different forms of investment or insurance, trying to
discern which one gives the most benefits. Surely, a sincere seeker should
try to determine what is the truth, and then stick to that, whether he finds
it easy or not.

Second, the arguments against Hinduism are decidedly fallacious. As for
tolerance, it is difficult to find a more tolerant and inclusivist religion
than Hinduism (although hard-hearted individuals may of course be found
anywhere). This is a widely acknowledged fact, just as it is well-known that
Christianity throughout its history has wielded bloody war on peoples of
other faiths as well as persecuted those within its own fold who would not
conform to strict centralized norms of orthodoxy. The white population of
America is to a large extent made up of the descendants of Christians who
had to flee from persecution at the hands of the orthodoxy of their
respective countries (including mine: Sweden)!

As for punishment, I suppose the karma theory is meant. Well, for anyone who
accepts the existence of God, the suffering we see around us has to be
accounted for, yielding the following two alternatives:
        1. The Lord allows individuals to suffer only insofar as they have
earned it by their own actions (karma).
        2. The Lord allows individuals to suffer irrespective of their actions.
The second alternative, which is proposed by all the Semitic religions
including Christianity, is obviously very difficult to reconcile with an
omnipotent and supremely just and righteous God.

Martin Gansten