I keep seeing posts in the media about priests preaching Christianity or distributing bibles and I am supposed to be offended by it. I found myself indifferent to it. On the other hand, when I say there is nothing wrong with it or point out to Hindus that they profess their religion too, they get very offended by it. So I decided to get to the bottom of it. Why are Hindus opposed to people converting to other religions? In these days and times, apart from some Hinduvta fanatics, no other organization in India will dare to convert a person by force. And yet, many national leaders have called for anti-conversion laws. So this topic is really serious.
One of the major fear of Hindus is that they will lose the SC/ST votes. When Ambedkar asked for a different representation for SC/St people, Gandhiji fasted to death to make sure that the SC/ST votes remained within the Hindu fold. Ambedkar was so disenchanted with Hinduism that he converted to Buddhism. Again, by not converting to Christianity or Islam, he made sure that the majority Hindu vote was not disturbed. Despite how he and his community has been treated in history by upper caste Hindus, he still desired Hindu rule in India. But the distressed classes are converting to Christianity, in large numbers, because of missionaries. It is true that Muslims and Christians have treated these people better than Hindus. Marriages and other functions of the lower classes are held in church halls. The Church does not become dirty because these people celebrate their events in their premises. Churches in India have a reputation of being clean. We all know that only Christians can produce a Mother Teresa or a Florence Nightingale. No other religion can produce compassionate women like them. Definitely there is something good about Christianity which people must be allowed to explore. If Hindus want to keep their SC/ST votes, then they must work towards deserving it. Not by stopping other people from preaching their faith or stopping their philanthropic endeavors.
Another factor is closed mindedness. Looking at someone either strengthens your own existing faith or changes your faith. One must be ready to face such challenges. What is conversion really? Do you become Hindu if you do yoga or read the Gita? Hinduism does not have a conversion ritual.
When Indian leaders call for end of missionary preaching in India, they forget that Hindus preach in other countries too. Preaching Hinduism or promoting yoga in Christian countries should not be made illegal.
For me, personally, becoming exposed to Hindu ideology enriched my life. I would not like this opportunity taken away from me. Let us keep spiritual dialogues open. In the near future, religion will no longer dictate votes in India. In the meantime, let us exercise the freedom the constitution has given all Indians and follow any faith our spirit desires.
Dr Maya Mohsin Ahmed is a mathematician, artist, and writer. She has a PhD in Mathematics from UC Davis, California and has taught mathematics in India, Africa, and America. She also earned a diploma in communications and journalism from Mumbai university. She has published three fiction books, namely, “Bombay sunshine”, “Aspirations”, and “Stories of Apoopan and Amooma”. Maya now lives in Mangalore, India.