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Re: "harvest of faith"

From: Venkatesh K. Elayavalli (
Date: Tue Nov 09 1999 - 17:21:20 PST

Dear Sir,

The conversion that happened 1000 years back is not the same as those
that are taking place now. First of all, Ramanuja, Shankara and Madhva
coined their philosophy based on Vedas and they all come under
Sanathaana dharma. They all give 100% importance to Vedas. The
conversions from Buddhism/Janism to Vedantic view did create some
violent cases in some areas, but in general, their religious centers
were not destroyed (or at least there is no record that I am aware of).

On the other hand the conversion to Islam was a forced one, as many know
by now. In fact, I am told the word Hindu Kush is related to massacre of
Hindus on the mountains of present day Afghanistan (I may be wrong
here). Many of the Buddhist shrines and libraries were destroyed and
torched by Muslim invaders.

The conversion to Sri Vaishnavam 1000 years back, was based on the
individual, no handouts were given and number of conversions were not
kept track.

Present day conversions are more to do with what the Vatican or the
Mosque gives in return for the conversion. In fact, it has become a tool
to blackmail the government in some parts of the country (in particular
south tamil nadu), In many cases it is not a true conversion.

In one respect, your view is correct, in that we need not be too scared
of the so called conversions. But not for the reasons you have

Let us take some recent conversions to Evangelical Christianity
(EC) (based in US), The publicity is that Millions in India are getting
converted each day (or at least during each visit by a pastor). You can
see the ads on 700 Club program hosted by Pat Robertson, These are for
local consumption (meaning $ contribution from local residents in US).
How do we know that each one who gets converted to EC stays true to it.
I can expect about 10% or less to be true conversions, others are there
mainly for handouts.  If the same crowd is told that Lord Ganesha is
taking milk from a spoon, they will immediately folk to see the so
called miracle.

Present day conversions have to do more with the number game among
various groups of Muslims and Christians. For example, today's San Jose
Mercury Newspaper had an article about the Southern Baptist church's
book let on "prayer" to convert Hindus, Muslims and Jews (one on
Buddhism is to be published soon). They were handed out during important
festival days for each of the three religions. Here we have Protestants
and Catholics competing to convert Hindus and others, so it is clearly a
number game, and the amount of donations that goes into this
organization depends on the number of conversions to a  large part.

The problem with our religious heads is, they are not flush with funds
(or at least most of them). Even if they are flush with funds, they
cannot compete against the $$ amounts flowing from the west. In any case
the bottom line is these conversions are making  people more lazy and
more bonded (to the church) because of the handouts.  The handouts in
may cases are not just food money or clothing, they include free
education, free health care (or subsidized). These handouts are
attractive and will continue as long as the economy in US and west is
doing well and more $$ go into the Vatican bank accounts. The problem is
handouts do not help better the lives of the recipients (in the short
run it may), in the long run it will only ruin the society's ability to
be a productive force.

- --

Venkatesh K. Elayavalli             Cypress Semiconductor
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