Labelling Tagore as an Anglo-Indian poet, this presentation speech, spills out that the Nobel prize was not given to him  just for his literary excellence.

It was because he was perceived to be a poet who was far removed  from traditional oriental philosophy, was a member of the  Brahmo Samaj (enlightened, because it was not a sect of ancient Hindu type!), who could be considered as a  product of the world-wide rejuvenating force of the Christian mission and a master of the poetic art that was a never-failing concomitant of the expansion of the British civilization.

Such colonial zealots!  Even the Bhakti movement was claimed to be influenced and ‘refined’  by Christianity!!


The Nobel Prize in Literature 1913: Presentation Speech


 Presentation Speech by Harald Hjärne, Chairman of the Nobel Committee of the Swedish Academy, on December 10, 1913


In awarding the Nobel Prize in Literature to the Anglo-Indian poet, Rabindranath Tagore, the Academy has found itself in the happy position of being able to accord this recognition to an author who, in conformity with the express wording of Alfred Nobel’s last will and testament, had during the current year, written the finest poems «of an idealistic tendency.» Moreover, after exhaustive and conscientious deliberation, having concluded that these poems of his most nearly approach the prescribed standard, the Academy thought that there was no reason to hesitate because the poet’s name was still comparatively unknown in Europe, due to the distant location of his home. There was even less reason since the founder of the Prize laid it down in set terms as his «express wish and desire that, in the awarding of the Prize, no consideration should be paid to the nationality to which any proposed candidate might belong.»

Tagore’s Gitanjali: Song Offerings (1912), a collection of religious poems, was the one of his works that especially arrested the attention of the selecting critics. Since last year the book, in a real and full sense, has belonged to English literature, for the author himself, who by education and practice is a poet in his native Indian tongue, has bestowed upon the poems a new dress, alike perfect in form and personally original in inspiration. This has made them accessible to all in England, America, and the entire Western world for whom noble literature is of interest and moment. Quite independently of any knowledge of his Bengali poetry, irrespective, too, of differences of religious faiths, literary schools, or party aims, Tagore has been hailed from various quarters as a new and admirable master of that poetic art which has been a never-failing concomitant of the expansion of British civilization ever since the days of Queen Elizabeth. The features of this poetry that won immediate and enthusiastic admiration are the perfection with which the poet’s own ideas and those he has borrowed have been harmonized into a complete whole; his rhythmically balanced style, that, to quote an English critic’s opinion, «combines at once the feminine grace of poetry with the virile power of prose»; his austere, by some termed classic, taste in the choice of words and his use of the other elements of expression in a borrowed tongue – those features, in short, that stamp an original work as such, but which at the same time render more difficult its reproduction in another language.

The same estimate is true of the second cycle of poems that came before us, The Gardener, Lyrics of Love and Life (1913). In this work, however, as the author himself points out, he has recast rather than interpreted his earlier inspirations. Here we see another phase of his personality, now subject to the alternately blissful and torturing experiences of youthful love, now prey to the feelings of longing and joy that the vicissitudes of life give rise to, the whole interspersed nevertheless with glimpses of a higher world.

English translations of Tagore’s prose stories have been published under the title Glimpses of Bengal Life (1913). Though the form of these tales does not bear his own stamp – the rendering being by another hand – their content gives evidence of his versatility and wide range of observation, of his heartfelt sympathy with the fates and experiences of differing types of men, and of his talent for plot construction and development.

Tagore has since published both a collection of poems, poetic pictures of childhood and home life, symbolically entitled The Crescent Moon (1913), and a number of lectures given before American and English university audiences, which in book form he calls Sâdhanâ: The Realisation of Life (1913). They embody his views of the ways in which man can arrive at a faith in the light of which it may be possible to live. This very seeking of his to discover the true relation between faith and thought makes Tagore stand out as a poet of rich endowment, characterized by his great profundity of thought, but most of all by his warmth of feeling and by the moving power of his figurative language. Seldom indeed in the realm of imaginative literature are attained so great a range and diversity of note and of colour, capable of expressing with equal harmony and grace the emotions of every mood from the longing of the soul after eternity to the joyous merriment prompted by the innocent child at play.

Concerning our understanding of this poetry, by no means exotic but truly universally human in character, the future will probably add to what we know now. We do know, however, that the poet’s motivation extends to the effort of reconciling two spheres of civilization widely separated, which above all is the characteristic mark of our present epoch and constitutes its most important task and problem. The true inwardness of this work is most clearly and purely revealed in the efforts exerted in the Christian mission-field throughout the world. In times to come, historical inquirers will know better how to appraise its importance and influence, even in what is at present hidden from our gaze and where no or only grudging recognition is accorded. They will undoubtedly form a higher estimate of it than the one now deemed fitting in many quarters. Thanks to this movement, fresh, bubbling springs of living water have been tapped, from which poetry in particular may draw inspiration, even though those springs are perhaps intermingled with alien streams, and whether or not they be traced to their right source or their origin be attributed to the depths of the dreamworld. More especially, the preaching of the Christian religion has provided in many places the first definite impulse toward a revival and regeneration of the vernacular language, i.e., its liberation from the bondage of an artificial tradition, and consequently also toward a development of its capacity for nurturing and sustaining a vein of living and natural poetry.

The Christian mission has exercised its influence as a rejuvenating force in India, too, where in conjunction with religious revivals many of the vernaculars were early put to literary use, thereby acquiring status and stability. However, with only too regular frequency, they fossilized again under pressure from the new tradition that gradually established itself. But the influence of the Christian mission has extended far beyond the range of the actually registered proselytizing work. The struggle that the last century witnessed between the living vernaculars and the sacred language of ancient times for control over the new literatures springing into life would have had a very different course and outcome, had not the former found able support in the fostering care bestowed upon them by the self-sacrificing missionaries.

It was in Bengal, the oldest Anglo-Indian province and the scene many years before of the indefatigable labours of that missionary pioneer, Carey, to promote the Christian religion and to improve the vernacular language, that Rabindranath Tagore was born in 1861. He was a scion of a respected family that had already given evidence of intellectual ability in many areas. The surroundings in which the boy and young man grew up were in no sense primitive or calculated to hem in his conceptions of the world and of life. On the contrary, in his home there prevailed, along with a highly cultivated appreciation of art, a profound reverence for the inquiring spirit and wisdom of the forefathers of the race, whose texts were used for family devotional worship. Around him, too, there was then coming into being a new literary spirit that consciously sought to reach forth to the people and to make itself acquainted with their life needs. This new spirit gained in force as reforms ere firmly effected by the Government, after the quelling of the widespread, confused Indian Mutiny.

Rabindranath’s father was one of the leading and most zealous members of a religious community to which his son still belongs. That body, known by the name of «Brahmo Samaj», did not arise as a sect of the ancient Hindu type, with the purpose of spreading the worship of some particular godhead as superior to all others. Rather, it was founded in the early part of the nineteenth century by an enlightened and influential man who had been much impressed by the doctrines of Christianity, which he had studied also in England. He endeavoured to give to the native Hindu traditions, handed down from the past, an interpretation in agreement with what he conceived to be the spirit and import of the Christian faith. Doctrinal controversy has since been rife regarding the interpretation of truth that he and his successors were thus led to give, whereby the community has been subdivided into a number of independent sects. The character, too, of the community, appealing essentially to highly trained intellectual minds, has from its inception always precluded any large growth of the numbers of its avowed adherents. Nevertheless, the indirect influence exercised by the body, even upon the development of popular education and literature, is held to be very considerable indeed. Among those community members who have grown up in recent years, Rabindranath Tagore has laboured to a pre-eminent degree. To them he has stood as a revered master and prophet. That intimate interplay of teacher and pupil so earnestly sought after has attained a deep, hearty, and simple manifestation, both in religious life and in literary training.

To carry out his life’s work Tagore equipped himself with a many-sided culture, European as well as Indian, extended and matured by travels abroad and by advanced study in London. In his youth he travelled widely in his own land, accompanying his father as far as the Himalayas. He was still quite young when he began to write in Bengali, and he has tried his hand in prose and poetry, lyrics and dramas. In addition to his descriptions of the life of he common people of his own country, he has dealt in separate works with questions in literary criticism, philosophy, and sociology. At one period, some time ago, there occurred a break in the busy round of his activities, for he then felt obliged, in accord with immemorial practice among his race, to pursue for a time a contemplative hermit life in a boat floating on the waters of a tributary of the sacred Ganges River. After he returned to ordinary life, his reputation among his own people as a man of refined wisdom and chastened piety grew greater from day to day. The open-air school which he established in western Bengal, beneath the sheltering branches of the mango tree, has brought up numbers of youths who as devoted disciples have spread his teaching throughout the land. To this place he has now retired, after spending nearly a year as an honoured guest in the literary circles of England and America and attending the Religious History Congress held in Paris last summer (1913).

Wherever Tagore has encountered minds open to receive his high teaching, the reception accorded him has been that suited to a bearer of good tidings which are delivered, in language intelligible to all, from that treasure house of the East whose existence had long been conjectured. His own attitude, moreover, is that he is but the intermediary, giving freely of that to which by birth he has access. He is not at all anxious to shine before men as a genius or as an inventor of some new thing. In contrast to the cult of work, which is the product of life in the fenced-in cities of the Western world, with its fostering of a restless, contentious spirit; in contrast to its struggle to conquer nature for the love of gain and profit, «as if we are living», Tagore says, «in a hostile world where we have to wrest everything we want from an unwilling and alien arrangement of things» (Sâdhanâ, p. 5); in contrast to all that enervating hurry and scurry, he places before us the culture that in the vast, peaceful, and enshrining forests of India attains its perfection, a culture that seeks primarily the quiet peace of the soul in ever-increasing harmony with the life of nature herself It is a poetical, not a historical, picture that Tagore here reveals to us to confirm his promise that a peace awaits us, too. By virtue of the right associated with the gift of prophecy, he freely depicts the scenes that have loomed before his creative vision at a period contemporary with the beginning of time.

He is, however, as far removed as anyone in our midst from all that we are accustomed to hear dispensed and purveyed in the market places as Oriental philosophy, from painful dreams about the transmigration of souls and the impersonal karma, from the pantheistic, and in reality abstract, belief that is usually regarded as peculiarly characteristic of the higher civilization in India. Tagore himself is not even prepared to admit that a belief of that description can claim any authority from the profoundest utterances of the wise men of the past. He peruses his Vedic hymns, his Upanishads, and indeed the theses of Buddha himself, in such a manner that he discovers in them, what is for him an irrefutable truth. If he seeks the divinity in nature, he finds there a living personality with the features of omnipotence, the all-embracing lord of nature, whose preternatural spiritual power nevertheless likewise reveals its presence in all temporal life, small as well as great, but especially in the soul of man predestined for eternity. Praise, prayer, and fervent devotion pervade the song offerings that he lays at the feet of this nameless divinity of his. Ascetic and even ethic austerity would appear to be alien to his type of divinity worship, which may be characterized as a species of aesthetic theism. Piety of that description is in full concord with the whole of his poetry, and it has bestowed peace upon him. He proclaims the coming of that peace for weary and careworn souls even within the bounds of Christendom.

This is mysticism, if we like to call it so, but not a mysticism that, relinquishing personality, seeks to become absorbed in an All that approaches a Nothingness, but one that, with all the talents and faculties of the soul trained to their highest pitch, eagerly sets forth to meet the living Father of the whole creation. This more strenuous type of mysticism was not wholly unknown even in India before the days of Tagore, hardly indeed among the ascetics and philosophers of ancient times but rather in the many forms of bhakti, a piety whose very essence is the profound love of and reliance upon God. Ever since the Middle Ages, influenced in some measure by the Christian and other foreign religions, bhakti has sought the ideals of its faith in the different phases of Hinduism, varied in character but each to all intents monotheistic in conception. All those higher forms of faith have disappeared or have been depraved past recognition, choked by the superabundant growth of that mixture of cults that has attracted to its banner all those Indian peoples who lacked an adequate power of resistance to its blandishments. Even though Tagore may have borrowed one or another note from the orchestral symphonies of his native predecessors, yet he treads upon firmer ground in this age that draws the peoples of the earth closer together along paths of peace, and of strife too, to joint and collective responsibilities, and that spends its own energies in dispatching greetings and good wishes far over land and sea. Tagore, though, in thought-impelling pictures, has shown us how all things temporal are swallowed up in the eternal:

Time is endless in thy hands, my lord.
There is none to count thy minutes.
Days and nights pass and ages bloom and fade like flowers. Thou knowest how to wait.
Thy centuries follow each other perfecting a small wild flower.
We have no time to lose, and having no time, we must scramble for our chances. We are too poor to be late.
And thus it is that time goes try, while I give it to every querulous man who claims it, and thine altar is empty of all offerings to the last.
At the end of the day I hasten in fear lest thy gate be shut; but if I find that yet there is time.

(Gitanjali, 82.)

From Nobel Lectures, Literature 1901-1967, Editor Horst Frenz, Elsevier Publishing Company, Amsterdam, 1969


Also read:

The History of Bharatavarsha: Tagore


Pope Benedict XVI has recently recalled the dangers faced by the Catholic missionaries  around the world, while giving “a strong call to strive to bring the testimony of the Gospel to all, in particular to those who are not yet acquainted with it”.

A few days earlier, a group of Hindus and Jews were shocked by one of the Pope’s numerous message in which he encouraged his followers to “make disciples of all peoples” and “to lead all people to Christ, the salvation of the world”  – calls that remind one the history of the Crusades.

The Pope may believe in “the goal of the Church’s mission is to illumine all peoples with the light of the Gospel” and may have “a longing and a passion to illumine all peoples with the light of Christ” but there are others who will continue to reject these limited options for their spiritual upliftment and rather opt for different sources of enlightenment that are far more tolerant, receptive, inclusive and time tested.  

His almost political desire “that all nations may become the People of God”  masqueraded as a message that “Christ calls, justifies, sanctifies and sends his disciples to proclaim the Kingdom of God” has lead to misery of mankind for centuries in the past and is still continuing, as the article below depicts.


Churches involved in torture, murder of thousands of African children denounced as witches



Associated Press Writer

EKET, Nigeria (AP) — The nine-year-old boy lay on a bloodstained hospital sheet crawling with ants, staring blindly at the wall. His family pastor had accused him of being a witch, and his father then tried to force acid down his throat as an exorcism. It spilled as he struggled, burning away his face and eyes. The emaciated boy barely had strength left to whisper the name of the church that had denounced him — Mount Zion Lighthouse.

A month later, he died.

Nwanaokwo Edet was one of an increasing number of children in Africa accused of witchcraft by pastors and then tortured or killed, often by family members. Pastors were involved in half of 200 cases of “witch children” reviewed by the AP, and 13 churches were named in the case files.

Some of the churches involved are renegade local branches of international franchises. Their parishioners take literally the Biblical exhortation, “Thou shalt not suffer a witch to live.”

“It is an outrage what they are allowing to take place in the name of Christianity,” said Gary Foxcroft, head of nonprofit Stepping Stones Nigeria.

For their part, the families are often extremely poor, and sometimes even relieved to have one less mouth to feed. Poverty, conflict and poor education lay the foundation for accusations, which are then triggered by the death of a relative, the loss of a job or the denunciation of a pastor on the make, said Martin Dawes, a spokesman for the United Nations Children’s Fund.

“When communities come under pressure, they look for scapegoats,” he said. “It plays into traditional beliefs that someone is responsible for a negative change … and children are defenseless.”

The idea of witchcraft is hardly new, but it has taken on new life recently partly because of a rapid growth in evangelical Christianity. Campaigners against the practice say around 15,000 children have been accused in two of Nigeria’s 36 states over the past decade and around 1,000 have been murdered. In the past month alone, three Nigerian children accused of witchcraft were killed and another three were set on fire. Nigeria is one of the heartlands of abuse, but hardly the only one: the United Nations Children’s Fund says tens of thousands of children have been targeted throughout Africa.

Church signs sprout around every twist of the road snaking through the jungle between Uyo, the capital of the southern Akwa Ibom state where Nwanaokwo lay, and Eket, home to many more rejected “witch children.” Churches outnumber schools, clinics and banks put together. Many promise to solve parishioner’s material worries as well as spiritual ones — eight out of ten Nigerians struggle by on less than $2 a day.

“Poverty must catch fire,” insists the Born 2 Rule Crusade on one of Uyo’s main streets.

“Where little shots become big shots in a short time,” promises the Winner’s Chapel down the road.

“Pray your way to riches,” advises Embassy of Christ a few blocks away.

It’s hard for churches to carve out a congregation with so much competition. So some pastors establish their credentials by accusing children of witchcraft.

Nwanaokwo said he knew the pastor who accused him only as Pastor King. Mount Zion Lighthouse in Nigeria at first confirmed that a Pastor King worked for them, then denied that they knew any such person.

Bishop A.D. Ayakndue, the head of the church in Nigeria, said pastors were encouraged to pray about witchcraft, but not to abuse children. “We pray over that problem (of witchcraft) very powerfully,” he said. “But we can never hurt a child.”

The Nigerian church is a branch of a Californian church by the same name. But the California church says it lost touch with its Nigerian offshoots several years ago. “I had no idea,” said church elder Carrie King by phone from Tracy, Calif. “I knew people believed in witchcraft over there but we believe in the power of prayer, not physically harming people.”

The Mount Zion Lighthouse — also named by three other families as the accuser of their children — is part of the powerful Pentecostal Fellowship of Nigeria. The Fellowship’s president, Ayo Oritsejafor, said the Fellowship was the fastest-growing religious group in Nigeria, with more than 30 million members. “We have grown so much in the past few years we cannot keep an eye on everybody,” he explained.

But Foxcroft, the head of Stepping Stones, said if the organization was able to collect membership fees, it could also police its members better. He had already written to the organization twice to alert it to the abuse, he said. He suggested the fellowship ask members to sign forms denouncing abuse or hold meetings to educate pastors about the new child rights law in the state of Akwa Ibom, which makes it illegal to denounce children as witches. Similar laws and education were needed in other states, he said.

Sam Itauma of the Children’s Rights and Rehabilitation Network said it is the most vulnerable children — the orphaned, sick, disabled or poor — who are most often denounced. In Nwanaokwo’s case, his poor father and dead mother made him an easy target.

“Even churches who didn’t use to ‘find’ child witches are being forced into it by the competition,” said Itauma. “They are seen as spiritually powerful because they can detect witchcraft and the parents may even pay them money for an exorcism.”

That’s what Margaret Eyekang did when her 8-year-old daughter Abigail was accused by a “prophet” from the Apostolic Church, because the girl liked to sleep outside on hot nights — interpreted as meaning she might be flying off to join a coven. A series of exorcisms cost Eyekang eight months’ wages, or US$270. The payments bankrupted her. Neighbors also attacked her daughter. “They beat her with sticks and asked me why I was bringing them a witch child,” she said. A relative offered Eyekang floor space but Abigail was not welcome and had to sleep in the streets.

Members of two other families said pastors from the Apostolic Church had accused their children of witchcraft, but asked not to be named for fear of retaliation.

The Nigeria Apostolic Church refused repeated requests made by phone, e-mail and in person for comment. 

At first glance, there’s nothing unusual about the laughing, grubby kids playing hopscotch or reading from a tattered Dick and Jane book by the graffiti-scrawled cinderblock house. But this is where children like Abigail end up after being labeled witches by churches and abandoned or tortured by their families. 
There’s a scar above Jane’s shy smile: her mother tried to saw off the top of her skull after a pastor denounced her and repeated exorcisms costing a total of $60 didn’t cure her of witchcraft. Mary, 15, is just beginning to think about boys and how they will look at the scar tissue on her face caused when her mother doused her in caustic soda. Twelve-year-old Rachel dreamed of being a banker but instead was chained up by her pastor, starved and beaten with sticks repeatedly; her uncle paid him $60 for the exorcism. Israel’s cousin tried to bury him alive, Nwaekwa’s father drove a nail through her head, and sweet-tempered Jerry — all knees, elbows and toothy grin — was beaten by his pastor, starved, made to eat cement and then set on fire by his father as his pastor’s wife cheered it on.

The children at the home run by Itauma’s organization have been mutilated as casually as the praying mantises they play with. Home officials asked for the children’s last names not to be used to protect them from retaliation. The home was founded in 2003 with seven children; it now has 120 to 200 at any given time as children are reconciled with their families and new victims arrive.

Helen Ukpabio is one of the few evangelists publicly linked to the denunciation of child witches. She heads the enormous Liberty Gospel church in Calabar, where Nwanaokwo used to live. Ukpabio makes and distributes popular books and DVDs on witchcraft; in one film, a group of child witches pull out a man’s eyeballs. In another book, she advises that 60 percent of the inability to bear children is caused by witchcraft.

In an interview with the AP, Ukpabio is accompanied by her lawyer, church officials and personal film crew. “Witchcraft is real,” Ukpabio insisted, before denouncing the physical abuse of children. Ukpabio says she performs non-abusive exorcisms for free and was not aware of or responsible for any misinterpretation of her materials. “I don’t know about that,” she declared.

However, she then acknowledged that she had seen a pastor from the Apostolic Church break a girl’s jaw during an exorcism. Ukpabio said she prayed over her that night and cast out the demon. She did not respond to questions on whether she took the girl to hospital or complained about the injury to church authorities.

After activists publicly identified Liberty Gospel as denouncing “child witches,” armed police arrived at Itauma’s home accompanied by a church lawyer. Three children were injured in the fracas. Itauma asked that other churches identified by children not be named to protect their victims. “We cannot afford to make enemies of all the churches around here,” he said. “But we know the vast majority of them are involved in the abuse even if their headquarters aren’t aware.”

Just mentioning the name of a church is enough to frighten a group of bubbly children at the home. “Please stop the pastors who hurt us,” said Jerry quietly, touching the scars on his face. “I believe in God and God knows I am not a witch.”


(Associated Press researcher Rhonda Shafner in New York contributed to this report.)

Does Europe have a Civilising mission in India?


16 June 2008 – Issue : 786

Jakob De Roover is a Postdoctoral Fellow of the Research Foundation (FWO) at the Research Centre Vergelijkende Cultuurwetenschap, Ghent University, Belgium


Recently, the European Parliament hosted a meeting on “caste discrimination in South Asia”. At the meeting, participants stated that “India is being ruled by castes not by laws” and that they demanded justice, because there “is one incredible India and one untouchable India.” The EU was urged to come out with a policy statement on the subject. One MEP, referring to the caste system, said that “this barbarism has to end.” This is not the first time. However, before the EU decides to publish policy statements on caste discrimination in India, we would do well to reflect on some simple facts.

First, the dominant conception of the caste system has emerged from the accounts by Christian missionaries, travelers and colonial administrators. Rather than being neutral, these accounts were shaped by a Christian framework. That is, the religion of European visitors to India had informed them beforehand that they would find false religion and devil worship there, and that false religion always manifested itself in social evils. Especially the Protestants rebuked the “evil priests” of Hinduism for imposing the laws of caste in the name of religion. They told the Indians that conversion to Protestantism was a conversion to equality. Thus, Indian souls were to be saved from damnation and caste discrimination.

Second, this Christian account of “the Hindu religion” and its “caste system” informed colonial policies in British India. Building on the theological framework, scholars now wrote “scientific” treatises on Hindu superstition and caste discrimination.

The Christian mission found its secular counterpart in the idea of the civilising mission, which told the West that it had to rescue the natives from the clutches of superstition and caste. One no longer promoted religious conversion, but the colonial educational system harped on “the horrors of Hindu society.”

Third, the colonial educational project had a deep impact on the Indian intelligentsia. Hindu reform and anti-caste movements came into being, which reproduced the Protestant accounts of Hinduism and caste as true descriptions of India.

Their advocates did not adopt these descriptions as passive recipients, but actively deployed them to pursue socioeconomic and political interests. Political parties and caste associations were created to safeguard the interests of the “lower castes.” The elites of these groups united in associations and received financial and moral support from the missionaries and other progressive colonials.

Fourth, the “Dalit” movement of today is the product of these colonial movements. The notion of “Dalits” makes sense only within the colonial account of India, which had postulated the existence of one single group of “outcastes” or “untouchables” that was supposedly exploited by the upper castes. In reality, it concerns a variety of caste groups, with no criteria to unite them besides the claim that they are all “downtrodden.” Indeed, many of these groups are poor and discriminated against by other caste groups. However, their socio-economic interests have been hijacked by some of their western-educated elite members. In the name of the downtrodden, these elites establish NGOs and then travel from conference to conference and country to country in order to reveal the plight of the “Dalits” to eager western audiences and secure funding from donor agencies.

Fifth, when present-day Europeans rebuke Indian society for the “barbarism” of caste discrimination, they are reproducing the old stanzas of the civilising mission. Such a stance of superiority perhaps worked in the context of colonialism. But today, at a time when Indians buy some of the European industrial giants and Europe is in need of more collaboration with India, it is ill-advised to continue this type of civilisational propaganda.

In fact, such propaganda derives its plausibility from a series of assumptions that no one would be willing to defend explicitly. It attributes all socioeconomic wrongs of the Indian society to its structure and civilisation. The implication is that there is only one way to get rid of socio-economic wrongs here: one has to eradicate both the social structure and the Hindu civilisation. It is as though one would blame the racism, bingedrinking, pedophilia, poverty, homelessness and domestic violence in the contemporary West on its age-old civilisation.

The times have changed. As Europeans, we need to reflect on our deep-rooted sense of superiority and how this informs our moralising discourse on human rights in other parts of the world. To appreciate the impression we give to Indians with our statements on caste discrimination, just imagine a possible world in which the Indian government regularly castigates the US for its racism against African-Americans and the disproportionate death penalties, and the EU for the treatment of South Asians in England, Turks in Germany, women in Romania, the Basque movement in Spain, gypsies in Italy … just imagine Indian members of parliament consistently blaming the very structure of western societies as the cause of all these wrongs. Europe needs to wake up fast. The time of colonialism is over. If we do not change our attitudes, the irritation towards the EU will grow in countries like India and China. So will the unwillingness to collaborate. In the fast-changing world of the early 21st Century, Europe cannot afford this. 

Also read:

 How and why British created the modern Indian caste system

Missionaries are Colonialists


Gregory F. Fegel

Christian missionaries make no secret of the fact that they use medical services, education, and employment opportunities to lure impoverished indigenous populations throughout the world into conversion to Christianity.

According to the popular and scholarly history of Christianity, the early Christian Church found its greatest appeal and attracted its greatest number of converts from the poor people of the Roman Empire. The early Christian churches raised money through a tithe, or ten per cent income tax, levied on their members, and the early Christian church is said to have had a strong ‘sense of community’, which implies that it had a well-organized social, financial, and political network among its membership.

Using your wealth to purchase other people’s loyalty is a game as old as humanity itself. Rich men use their wealth to attract women, unscrupulous employers use material incentives and disincentives to manipulate their workers, and wealthy countries like the USA use their national wealth to keep their citizens loyal to the cause of aggressive and genocidal Imperialism. But historical longevity and common practice don’t make the manipulation or exploitation morally or ethically right.

Organized religions are inherently POLITICAL organizations. There is a fundamental difference between the financial enterprise and political machinations of an organized religion versus a mass of independent, unaffiliated believers, philosophers, and mystics who do not support any organized religion.

Christianity and Islam are known as proselytizing religions because they make an organized and systematic effort to gain converts, and they often provide services, products, or employment to attract converts. Judaism, Hinduism, and Buddhism show far less zeal about gaining converts, which is why you almost never hear about Jewish, Hindu, or Buddhist missionaries.

Modern medical and nursing schools usually teach their students the moral principle that the provision of medical services should never be used as a means to proselytize or promote a religion, but that does not deter many Christian health care providers from doing exactly that. Most of the medical and charitable organizations based in Christian countries are fronts for Christian proselytizing activities.

One of the largest international medical relief organizations based in the USA, Northwest Medical Teams, states in their recruitment brochure that their chief ‘mission’ is to ‘spread the Gospel of Jesus Christ’, that their medical relief services are subordinate to their stated goal of proselytizing Christianity, and that their medical relief work is merely an ‘aegis’, or facade, for spreading Christianity.

The religious and cultural Imperialism performed by missionaries nearly always goes hand-in-hand with political and economic Imperialism. Christian missionaries often work in partnership with the CIA, with the US government, and with wealthy corporations to subvert the religion, the culture, the economy, and the politics of vulnerable indigenous populations. The CIA often uses planes owned by Christian missionary organizations and flown by Christian missionary pilots to smuggle drugs, arms, and prisoners.

During the CIA’s illegal Iran/Contra scam of the 1980s, Christian missionary pilots and planes smuggled drugs into the USA and arms into Central America and Iran. Now the CIA is using Christian missionary planes to smuggle heroin from Afghanistan, cocaine from Latin America, and for ‘rendition’ flights of ‘Terrorist’ prisoners to secret prisons that practice torture and commit extra-judicial executions.

The USA’s Faith Based Initiative law provides Christian missionary organizations with taxpayer funds that are used to proselytize Christianity to indigenous populations throughout the world. Christian missionaries are the leading edge of a religious, cultural, economic, and political aggression supported by the US government.

When missionaries bring outside wealth to an impoverished Third World country and use that wealth to provide services that are meant to attract converts, they are interfering with the local social and economic structure as well as the local cultural traditions. Indigenous people who take advantage of the privileges provided by the missionaries and convert to Christianity partake in a social organization that uses foreign wealth as a tool to eliminate the indigenous culture and replace it with Christianity.

A small and reclusive population of a few hundred people with a primitive Stone Age culture lives on North Sentinel Island, in the Andaman chain, which is administered by the government of India. To protect the culture of the inhabitants of North Sentinel Island, the Indian government has wisely banned anyone from visiting the island. I approve of the Indian government’s policy of protecting the unique culture of the North Sentinels from outside influence. If anyone on North Sentinel Island should ever desire to leave, they can build a boat and do so.

Among a total of 195 nations in the world today, fifty-seven of those nations have a legally established, official State Religion. There are fourteen nations that claim Christianity as their State Religion, twenty-six nations that claim Islam as their State Religion, six nations that claim Buddhism as their State Religion, and the Jewish State of Israel. The Jewish State of Israel discriminates against its non-Jewish citizens and within its borders Israel officially prohibits the proselytizing of any religion other than Judaism. Many people believe that Israel has a ‘right to exist’ in this manner as a Jewish State.

Many Islamic countries strive to protect the cultural identity of their citizens by enforcing a ban on preaching any religion but Islam. Considering the aggressive, insidious, and highly political nature of Christian missionary programs, the banning of non-Moslem religious preaching by Moslem governments makes sense.

Currently there is no officially Hindu State anywhere in the world, but perhaps India should become a Hindu State in order to protect its indigenous religion and culture from the predatory missionaries and State-sponsored cultural Imperialism that are coming from both Christian and Moslem countries. If the Jews have the right to establish and maintain Israel as a Jewish State, then the Hindus certainly have a right to establish and maintain India as a Hindu State.

When Western leaders talk about a ‘Clash of Civilizations’, what they really mean is Judeo-Christianity and corporate Capitalism versus all non-Christians and non-Capitalists. Christian missionaries are essentially colonialists working for Christian cultural Imperialism.

When the Hindus of India rise up in riot and drive out the Christian missionaries and the Christian ‘cash converts’, they are doing what the Iraqi, Afghani, and Palestinian Freedom Fighters are doing. They are protecting themselves and their indigenous culture from wealthy and unscrupulous invaders who have no respect for them or for their culture. I wish the Hindu nationalists well in their efforts to defend and maintain the independence and survival of their indigenous culture and religion against the onslaught of predatory and disrespectful foreigners whose goal is to replace indigenous traditional cultures with a global Christian empire.

If Christian missionaries want to come to India and try to make converts to Christianity, let them come with empty pockets and compete on a level playing field. And if most of the locals don’t want the missionaries interfering with their traditional way of life, they have the right to make the missionaries and their converts leave.