Ms. Maria Wirth (Photo left) is a German. After finishing her psychology studies at Hamburg University she visited the Ardha Kumbha Mela in Haridwar in April 1980 where she met Sri Anandamayi Ma and Devaraha Baba. With their blessing she continued to live in India. She dived into India’s spiritual tradition, sharing her insights with German readers.
For long, she was convinced that every Indian knows and treasures their great heritage. However, when she noticed that there seemed to be a concerted effort to prevent even Indians (and the world) from knowing how valuable this ancient Indian heritage is, she started to point out the unique value of Indian tradition in English too.
“Why Indians had to suffer so much for 1,000 years when they were generally good-natured and did not attack others ?” someone asked Sadhguru Jaggi Vasudev. It was a question which troubled me too. He replied on the lines that Indians had not done their job in analysing their enemy.
Why did Prithviraj Chauhan, for example, let Mohammad Ghori off in spite of knowing that he had not stuck to any rules of war ? The young Indian Raja obviously had not analysed what made his attacker so unprincipled. He didn’t seem to be aware of the tenets of Islam, which are so different from his own Hindu Dharma.
The situation has not changed much. Today, there is still very little clarity about the enemy in spite of Swami Vivekanand or Sri Aurobindo seeing where the danger comes from. Vivekanand stated that every Hindu who leaves the Hindu pale is not one Hindu less but one enemy more. How ? Is it possible that religion makes people into enemies ? This surely needs to be analysed.
There are big differences between Hindu Dharma on one side, and Islam and Christianity on the other, which we usually are not aware of. We need to know them and have the courage to point them out, in the interest of all humanity.
The first big difference is this :
While Sanatan Dharma and the Vedas are most ancient and the foundation for the great, benign Indian culture, Christianity and Islam are newcomers and they brutally destroyed existing cultures and replaced them with a rigid belief system.
The cultures of Incas, Mayas, Aztecs, Egypt, Babylon, Greece, Persia, Afghanistan – all have disappeared and their history was falsified. In what is now Pakistan and Bangladesh, the ancient Hindu culture has disappeared, too. India also has suffered immensely, millions were killed and a treasure trove of knowledge went up in flames when libraries with innumerable texts were burnt.
But are religions not meant to be beneficial ? Is religion not about God, the cause for our existence, and man’s relation to that great Being, about worshipping the great Being and surrendering to Him ? Is there not the right to religious freedom enshrined in Constitutions and endorsed by the United Nations ? Why then all this brutality ? What went wrong ?
It’s easy to see but nobody wants to look that way :
The reason is that belief in improbable claims about the ‘Will of God’ was enforced with violence in the beginning, later with the indoctrination of children and severe punishment for criticising or leaving the religion. Over the centuries, their followers swelled. Very few pointed out what went wrong because it put their lives at risk. These religions literally killed dissent.
We need to go back in time to see more clearly what went wrong :
The Vedas, the most ancient knowledge about the origin of the Universe and our own existence, postulate one great Being (usually called Brahman) from whom this Universe emanated and who permeates all parts of it. It means Brahman is also within us, though veiled by thoughts and other mental activity due to his Maya-shakti. The ancient Rishis analysed this Creation well and discovered essential powers for our existence, the Devas. They ‘saw’ that the microcosm is like the macrocosm; they reached out into the universe, by diving deep into themselves, mapped the sky and left profound knowledge for posterity in all fields of human endeavour – profound knowledge that was present in cosmic consciousness from the start and was revealed to them due to their intense Tapas.
There is ample evidence that Indian civilization influenced large parts of the globe in ancient times. Over the long history of millions of years (according to Indian texts which should be taken seriously), different forms of worship to different Deities, who were seen as a representation of the ONE Brahman, developed, but there was no friction between the different groups. They existed side-by-side. Nobody insisted that only one way needed to be followed.
This changed when Emperor Ashoka wanted all people in his kingdom to follow only one Indian Sage – Gautam Buddha. Buddha had died long before Ashoka was born, but in several councils, a Canon with his sayings was compiled, and this was meant to be followed by Ashoka’s subjects. He even sent missionaries to other countries.
So Ashoka broke the tradition that everyone was free to choose his way to realise Brahman as his own essence and established what the British later called ‘Buddhism’ as the best way. Anyone, who splits away and wants followers, naturally needs to emphasize that his creed is ‘better’. And if others are not convinced, it is followed up with some ‘pressure’ if one has power. Adi Shankara challenged Buddhists in debates and most Indians came back to their original, less dogmatic Dharma.
Meanwhile, far away from India, and only some 1,700 years ago, the Roman emperor decided to make a small Christian sect into a state religion. He must have felt it would be advantageous if all his subjects believed the same thing. In short, the messiah for whom the Jews were waiting, has come already in the person of Jesus Christ but was not recognised and even killed by the Jews.
However, this sect showed a very authoritative and violent streak, as soon as it got state patronage. It demolished existing temples, burnt books and murdered even a famous woman philosopher Hypatia in Egypt. And soon Christians stomped over the Middle East, North Africa and Europe, forcing the new belief on the population.
Why were they so intolerant ? The reason was that they claimed that the great true God, the creator of the Universe, the ‘Father in heaven’, has finally (2,000 years ago) sent down to earth his only son Jesus to save humans from the original sin, and all must follow what Jesus has said. And what did Jesus say ? He allegedly said that nobody reaches the Father except via his son. So the Church claims, belief in Jesus is absolutely necessary to be saved from eternal hell-fire.
A few centuries later, a similar story was repeated. Mohammad declared that the one true Allah has spoken to him via Angel Gabriel and what he said must be followed by all human beings. And what does Allah want from humans ? He wants all to believe in Mohammad as the last prophet, to whom He, Allah, has communicated his wishes. And his greatest wish apart from believing in Him and His prophet. He wants his followers to fight (do Jihad) till all believe only in Allah. Those who resist, will suffer terribly in hell for all eternity.
Mohammad himself showed the way how to fight. He attacked, for example, Jewish tribes, butchered their men even after surrender, took their women as slave concubines and their property as booty. After his death, his followers stomped over the Middle East, North Africa, into Spain and parts of Eastern Europe, and forced those, who had earlier been forced to become Christians, now to become Muslims. The conquest was bloody and highly ‘successful’ due to terrible cruelty.
Muslim invaders also stomped into India and left a trail of bloodshed. Yet here, they could not exterminate the ancient culture because the new creed was simply no match for it. Yet due to the incredible brutality, Muslim invaders made big inroads into Indian society and many Hindus converted to Islam and later, under the Portuguese and British, to Christianity.
Even now in independent India, Christianity and Islam have not given up their attempt to eliminate Hindu culture. The different Churches do it with enormous vigour, lots of money and sadly, great success, through projects like the Joshua Project. Islam does it by having many children, by Love Jihad and also by trying to convince Hindus and Christians of the ‘superiority’ of Islam over a religion which ‘worships monkeys and rats’. Whoever objects to being pressured to convert, risks even being brutally killed.
One thing has become clear over the centuries. Christianity and Islam are dangerous for ‘others’ and dangerous for insiders who do not fully conform and express doubts about ‘the only truth’. Islam and Christianity killed millions of common citizens, only because they didn’t pay allegiance to their religion or rather ‘cult’.
Today, India has over 200 million Muslims and probably much more than 40 million Christians, as many of the converts keep their Hindu names for caste benefits. Are they India’s enemies, as Swami Vivekanand hinted ?
The enemy is a strong word. Yet if those who converted believe what they are taught, they will definitely look down on Hindus. It seeps into their psyche that ‘they’ (Hindus) don’t accept the true God. When I was a child, even Protestants were looked down upon by us Catholics. We Catholics ‘knew’ that we were right and others wrong, and heathen were very wrong.
In the 1980s, I spent some time in Shantivanam, a Christian Ashram, which was very liberal to us foreigners who were friendly towards Hinduism and Buddhism. Yet once I heard Bede Griffiths, a Benedictine monk and the head of the Ashram, talk to Indian nun novices.
I was shocked how strongly he indoctrinated them that they alone have the true faith, and questioned him afterwards. His reply, “I have to strengthen their faith so that they know where the border to Hinduism lies”.
Hindus are not bothered about borders. They tend to accept all faiths. Whatever helps to connect with one’s essence is welcome. Yet this is not the mindset of followers of those religions, which need borders to survive.
Hindus usually don’t understand this mindset. They expect common sense and brush aside claims that they will burn in hell-fire if they don’t convert. They can’t imagine that anyone could seriously believe such nonsense.
But they are wrong. Many people do believe it. Such a belief is dangerous and highly divisive. It leads to hate crimes. Since there is no proof and there can never be proof, such dangerous belief needs to be called out and criticized. It must NOT be taught to kids.
Here is where Hindus didn’t do their duty and still don’t do their duty. It may look cool or secular to let everyone believe what he wants, but such an attitude is foolish when it threatens your survival.
While Christians have stopped killing in recent centuries, Muslims have not stopped. It goes on daily. And those terrorists genuinely believe that they do the right thing and will get a ‘higher status in paradise’(Q 4.95). Which youth would throw away his life in a suicide attack if he wasn’t convinced that he will be better off after killing kafirs ?
The situation is serious. It is bad enough that pious Christians look down on Hindus. But it is even worse that pious Muslims not only look down on others but also
can, with a straight face, tell lies to us (Taqqiya) and even harm and kill us without having any bangs of conscience. It’s allowed.
The usual counter that Quran 5.32 forbids killing even one person is a deception. First, Allah addresses the ‘Children of Israel’ in this verse (obviously taken from Jewish texts) and second, a person who does mischief is exempted and can be murdered. And what bigger mischief can there be in the eyes of a believer than not believing in Allah and his prophet ?
Fortunately, there are many who have lost faith. Especially Christians get out of the churches in droves, ever since heresy is not punished any longer. Many Muslims, too, have doubts. A Muslim acquaintance recently estimated that even in Saudi Arabia about 10% are atheists. There are numerous videos by ex-Muslims on the net who criticize their former belief openly. It’s dangerous for them. The social pressure is great and their own family may kill them. Moreover, in many countries apostasy is punishable by death.
And here again, Hindus don’t do their job. They don’t support those who leave their dogmatic faith. And worse, the Government even encourages people to stay in their religion by giving ‘minorities’ benefits.
What can be done ? Let’s all think about it. But one thing is needed for sure : We need to be honest and not afraid to expose the harmful aspects of Christianity and Islam, both of which make no secret that they want to eliminate Hinduism.
Everyone has the right to worship the One Supreme. This is guaranteed by the right to religious freedom. It makes sense, as there must be a great Intelligence and Power at the base of this incredible universe. But nobody has the right to make baseless claims that the Supreme loves some and doesn’t love others and even throws the majority of humans into eternal hell-fire – all those who do not accept that only ONE person (there are two …) has received the full truth. This doesn’t make sense. And it has brought so much suffering upon humankind.
Obviously, such claim (about one specific person needing to be followed), is not true. Yet for long, Hindus couldn’t counter it for fear of their lives. But now Hindus slowly find their feet. Many realise the immense value of their heritage and that they were cheated in believing that it has no worth.
Will they also have the courage to insist that their heritage is respected and taught to students in India and all over the world ? The insights of the Rishis have never been proven wrong when tested, and have inspired science, art and harmony in society. It’s no virtue to let falsehood spread.