Encounter with Arun Shourie
Missiology is a meticulous discipline developed quite early in the history of Christianity as auxiliary to an exclusivist and aggressive doctrine - Jesus Christ is the only saviour; there is no salvation outside the Church; and infidels should be compelled to come in. By now the discipline has become rather rich with experience gained over several centuries and in all parts of the world. Many universities in Europe and the Americas teach Missiology in their faculties of Catholic and Protestant theologies. And there are a large number of Christian seminaries spread over many countries where Missiology is studied in great depth and detail by the soldiers of Christ before they commence their prowl in search of prey.
As one surveys the literature of Missiology, one is struck by its close similarity to the Communist literature on strategy and tactics for staging the Revolution. One can go further and compare the two literatures - Christian and Communist with the literature on military science. Again, the close similarity is striking. One can, therefore, conclude quite safely that Missiology is simply another name for waging war on non-Christian societies and cultures with a view to conquer and convert them completely.
The war was hot and waged with whatever happened to be the most lethal weapons at any time, so long as the states in Europe served as the secular arm of the Church. In this first phase of a permanent war, there was no crime, howsoever horrendous, which Missiology did not prescribe or endorse, and which was not practised by the holy warriors with great glee and clean conscience. The blood-soaked history of Christian missions which preceded or accompanied or followed the armies of European imperialism, has been narrated by the missionaries themselves. Men like Francis Xavier stand out in this record as hardened criminals masquerading as religious priests.
The hot war came to end only when the imperialist powers realized that their empires could be jeopardized if the sword was used overtly in the service of the cross, particularly in the countries of Asia where the infidels were proud of their religions and cultures and capable of coming out with armed resistance. Missiology was forced to devise methods of waging a cold war by manipulating human minds. Armed might was to be called into service only when missionary provocations enraged the natives and riots broke out. For the rest, massive finance and media power provided more effective weapons.
In this second phase of the permanent war, Christian missions mounted vicious campaigns of calumny against the religions and cultures of the conquered people so that the latter could be disarmed ideologically, deflated psychologically, and thrown on the defensive all along the line. At the same time, programmes of proselytization were launched for crystallizing in the heart of subjugated societies whole colonies of converts. Country after country was honeycombed with this bastardized breed always ready to serve as the fifth-column of Christian-Western imperialism. In most cases, the converts proved to be more faithful than their foreign masters.
The game was going on smoothly and satisfactorily when it was spoiled by the retreat of Western imperialism after the Second World War. What was more ominous for Christian missions, Christianity itself was found out and suffered a collapse in its traditional homelands. Missiology was now called upon to devise still more devious methods, not only for camouflaging the fangs of a criminal creed but also for finding a new home for it elsewhere, particularly in the Hindu-Buddhist countries. The lead for forging more sophisticated methods was given by the Second Vatican Council after prolonged deliberations during 1962-65. The foremost among these new methods was described as “dialogue”. The missionaries were directed to “discover whatever was of value in other religious traditions” and proclaim that “salvation was available” in those traditions as well. The fact that this concession rendered the Christian missions redundant was neither faced nor mentioned. The purpose of “dialogue” was far from honest.
In the context of “dialogue” with Hindus, the first purpose is quite obvious. Hindus who participate in it recognize explicitly or implicitly that Christianity is a religion and that those who are out to spread it have a legitimate place in this country. The second purpose of “dialogue” is to search for and locate segments of Hindu spiritual tradition which sound or can be made to sound similar to some Christian tradition. A “common ground” between Hinduism and Christianity can then be proclaimed and used for conveying Christianity in Hindu attire. The third purpose is to probe for points of resistance which Hindu mind may harbour vis-a-vis Jesus Christ, the Christian message and the Christian missions so that mission strategy can be suitably revised for overcoming the resistance.
Needless to say that Hindu participants have to be of different types for serving the different purposes of “dialogue”. The Hindu who qualifies for the first purpose has to be more or less ignorant of Hinduism as well as of Christianity. The Hindu who suits the second purpose should be somewhat knowledgeable about Hinduism but an innocent abroad when it comes to Christianity. Hindus of both types are available easily and in plenty, particularly because the bait of foreign trips for holding “dialogue” in better places and with brighter people is always there. What has proved difficult is the search for a Hindu who can serve the third purpose of ‘dialogue’.
So “dialogue” for serving its first two purposes has been going on for quite some time. Christian organizations qualified for holding “Hindu-Christian dialogue” have mushroomed all over the country in recent years. The proceedings are reported in the Christian press as well as in the publications of these organizations. Books on “Hindu-Christian dialogue” or “common ground” between Hinduism and Christianity have also been multiplying, particularly in Europe and the U.S.A. Periodicals devoted specifically to Hindu-Christian dialogue have also been launched.
A dialogue for serving its third purpose could be held only in January 1994 when Arun Shourie, the noted journalist and scholar, was invited by the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of India (CBCI) to present a “Hindu assessment” of missionary work in India. But unfortunately for-the managers of this “dialogue”, it went out of hand and misfired. Ever since, the giant Christian establishment in India has been smarting with the hurt which Arun Shourie has caused. The uproar he has raised can be compared only with the uproar which had followed the publication of K. M. Panikkars’ Asia and Western Dominance in 1953. Missiology has been mobilizing its arsenal of apologetics and polemics in order to control the damage that has been done to Christian claims and pretensions.
It is difficult to say why the CBCI chose Arun Shourie for “dialogue”. All one can do is to infer from known missionary motives. Here was a Hindu, they must have thought, who was a man of stature, and known for his scholarship as well as pronounced sympathy for Hindu causes. His writings and speeches so far gave no indication that his commitment to the Hindu spiritual vision was profound, or that his knowledge of Christian doctrine and history was wide-ranging. He could, therefore, be expected to provide some clues to the current Hindu resistance to Christianity, and at the same time say something about Jesus Christ or Christianity which could be advertised to the advantage of Christian missions.
The CBCI was celebrating the 50th anniversary of its foundation, and holding a Seminar at Ishvani Kendra, a Catholic seminary in Pune. Almost all the Catholic big-wigs in India were present when Arun Shourie gave his talk on 5 January 1994. He had been given two Conference documents – ‘Trends and Issues in Evangelization of India’ and ‘Paths of Mission in India Today’ - which the Seminar was discussing. His critique was confined to missionary methods, more or less on the lines laid down by Mahatma Gandhi during his prolonged encounter with Christian missionaries. Some of those present asked some questions which also were similar to the questions the Mahatma had been asked earlier. The atmosphere was cordial all through. At the end of the session, its president remarked, “It has been a feast.” After his return to Delhi, Arun Shourie received a letter dated 11 January 1994, from Augustine Kanjamala, Secretary to the Conference, thanking him for sparing time from his “busy schedule”, and requesting him to “give a presentation in writing” so that it could be published along with the “talks of various speakers of the Conference.”
Arun Shourie completed the paper pretty fast. He gave it the caption, ‘Missionaries in India’, and sent a copy of it to Kanjamala on 20 January 1994 with the request that it be published with the two Conference documents as annexures because it had references to and citations from them at several places. He received from Kanjamala a letter dated 9 February thanking him for “completing the work and sending it” promptly but pointing out that the paper was too long for “publication along with other contributors.” Kanjamala asked him if it was possible to “cut it down to, say, 10,000 words.” Finally, on 27 February 1994 Kanjamala came to meet Arun Shourie at the latter’s home in New Delhi and informed him that his paper ‘would be published along with responses from six or so persons who were working on the matter.’
In the two months that followed, Arun Shourie expanded his paper with material from the history of Christian missions in India during British rule. He highlighted the motives from which missionary work had proceeded, and the consequences it had entailed. He cited ample evidence to show how the work of undermining Hinduism and keeping India enslaved had been shared between missionary scholars and scholar missionaries on the one hand and the British administrators on the other. And he pointed out how “the genes planted then had grown into the flours de mal, the flowers of evil which continue to poison the perceptions of our elite to this day.” Finally, he offered an analysis of the two Conference documents to show how Christian missions had continued the same work of subversion in post-independence India with such adjustments as were dictated by the new situation.
By the time the paper was fully elaborated, it had acquired the size of a book. Arun Shourie published it in early May 1994 under the title, Missionaries in India: Continuities, Changes, Dilemmas.1 The two Conference documents were included in it as annexures for purposes of ready reference. A copy of the book was sent to Kanjamala with compliments and thanks “for the invitation extended” and the opportunity given to the author “to delve into the subject.” Meanwhile, Arun Shourie had written several articles on the subject in his syndicated column which appears in more than a score of newspapers published in several languages all over the country. The articles evoked a lively discussion in the Maharashtra Herald of Pune.
Kanjamala was quick to acknowledge receipt of the book by his letter dated 18 May 1994. But what followed the acknowledgment left Arun Shourie aghast. Firstly, Kanjamala accused Arun Shourie of publishing “our seminar material without permission”, and enclosed “a corrected and revised version” to be included in a new edition of the book. Secondly, he sent an article, ‘Hinduization or Christianization’, and insisted that it be incorporated as a chapter in the new edition as per agreement arrived at “when we met each other in Delhi in February.” Thirdly, he suggested that the cover page of the new edition should carry his name as coauthor because his article and the two Conference documents would together form one-third of the book. Finally, he requested Arun Shourie to let him know “when the next edition is coming out with the revised material”, and promised to “promote” it.
Kanjamala had given away the game he was playing or was forced to play, when he confessed in the same letter that “some people are very displeased with me”, and appealed to Arun Shourie to “appreciate my situation.” Arun Shourie was prepared to sympathize with the man placed in plight, perhaps for no fault of his own. But he was not at all prepared to concede to that man the right to invent stories, tell lies, and let his fancy run a riot. So he chided Kanjamala in a long letter dated 24 May 1994. The letters which Kanjamala had written to him earlier were still in his file. He used them to put the record straight. He repudiated as a total lie Kanjamala’s story that there was an agreement for including in the book a chapter written by Kanjamala. He turned down Kanjamala’s suggestion regarding co-authorship as contrary to his nature and practice as a writer. And he pointed out that at no stage before or after his talk in Pune or in the letters written to him subsequently, he was given to understand that the two Conference documents were for private circulation. In fact, he had been given not one but two sets of the documents with the word “Draft” written clearly on top of the first page in each case.
Kanjamala wrote back that what he had conveyed in his letter dated 18 May 1994 was due to a “misunderstanding”. Arun Shourie expressed his happiness to Kanjamala, and thought that the “cloud had blown over.” But he had not taken into account the patent missionary methods. He found that a vituperative campaign had been launched against his book and against him personally. Articles started appearing in various newspapers and publications of the Church, attributing motives to him and misrepresenting as well as .denouncing his book. Several Christian scribes had joined the campaign. But Kanjamala was in its forefront.
PRAJNA BHARATI, a forum for intellectual discourse and discussion with headquarters in Hyderabad, invited several senior Churchmen to discuss Missionaries in India on a public platform with Arun Shourie. All of them excused themselves on one pretext or the other. At last the forum extended an invitation to Kanjamala. He agreed to participate in the discussion on the condition that he would present his critique before Arun Shourie gave an answer. Arun Shourie had no objection to Kanjamala having the first salvo.
The discussion took place on 4 September 1994 in a big hall at Hyderabad. The hall was packed to capacity. The discussion and the question-answer session that followed lasted for three and half hours. Kanjamala made the following points:
Kanjamala ended his critique with a prayer of Mother Teresa, and another of St. Francis of Assissi.
Arun Shourie developed his rejoinder along the following lines:
Arun Shourie ended his answer by examining the prayers d by Kanjamala. He found them full of “our”, “I” and “me”, meaning the Church and the Christians. Why pray for only one community? Why not for all people? The Upanishad prayers, he said, breath a different, a universal spirit.
There were some questions at the end. Kanjamala repeated the same arguments as earlier, though in a different way. Arun Shourie fixed him again with new quotations from missionary literature, and more facts about missionary work.
While I prepared for publication Arun Shourie’s encounter with Kanjamala,3 I noticed a few weaknesses in the former’s argument.
Firstly, a Hindu does not have to subscribe to the negative-positive syndrome in respect of the work of Christian missions. There can be nothing positive about poison which is what Christian missions have been and remain. One need not subscribe to Mahatma Gandhi’s preposition that Christian missions quickened Hindu conscience and expedited Hindu reform movements. Hindus had been reforming and renewing their society long before Christianity was born, and did not have to wait for Christian missions to stand up and perform. Moreover, the reform movements inspired by Christian missions have only derailed Hindu society and made it ape the Christian-Western model.
Secondly, Hindus are not called upon to do homage to a Christian hoax like Mother Teresa. She is a synthetic product manufactured by Christian media power and prize-distribution devices. All she has done is to portray Hindu society in nasty and negative colours. It is time that Hindus see through the humbug.
Thirdly, the Christian attempt to date its historical record should be viewed in the context of Christian dogma which has created that record. So long as the dogma remains constant, the record cannot be dated, no matter how soft the new verbiage happens to be. The Christian argument that old missionary writings should be overlooked as belonging to a bygone age, is absolutely phoney.
Fourthly, there is no evidence that Pope John or the Second Vatican Council brought back compassion in the Christian doctrine. The statement implies that the Christian doctrine did have compassion to start with and had lost it at some stage. This is not true. The doctrine was cruel and aggressive at its very birth. Pope John can at best be credited with realism which made him see the collapse of Christianity in the West, and give a call for change of tactics so that Christianity could secure another home.
Meanwhile, another musketeer of the Christian Mission in India was trying to engage Arun Shourie into another duel. Vishal Mangalwadi with headquarters in Mussoorie, U.P., wrote ten letters to the author of Missionaries in India between 8 August 1994 and 21 September 1995. Arun Shourie glanced at the first letter and consigned it to where it belonged - the waste-paper basket. The others that followed remained unopened and met the same fate. He had better things to do than go through the garbage collected by a professional practitioner of suppressio veri suggestion falsi. Mangalwadi published his letters in the form of a book in early 1996. “I had hoped,” he mourned, “that Mr. Shourie would reply to my letters, so that eventually we could publish our dialogue - perhaps jointly. However, since he chose not to, these letters are now placed before the reader as a monologue.”4
In his ‘letters’, Mangalwadi tries to look very learned. He consumes a lot of verbiage but says very little. He cites many books like his own, and drops any number of names which nobody except his own tribe has ever heard. He also advertises that he has been on frequent trips abroad, and spoken on varied subjects in different countries. But none of it is likely to impress the reader who knows what the whole-time hirelings of Christian missions are doing normally and non-stop - spilling ink, trotting the globe, and blowing hot air - while dwelling on the one and only theme, namely, that Christianity has a monopoly over Truth with capital T. “God has revealed the Truth,” says Mangalwadi, “in His Word (the Bible).” Those who have read the Bible with the eyes of European Enlightenment, can only comment that Jehovah does not cease to be the Devil he is simply by being labelled as God, and that-the most wicked book known to the history of mankind does not cease to be so simply by being sold as ‘His Word’.
For the rest, Mangalwadi’s 524-page monologue can be summarized in a few sentences. He wants us to believe that the Christian missions have been, and remain, “a conspiracy to bless India”, and that the atrocities to which this country was subjected during the British rule should be blamed on people like Clive. It is the same stereotyped song which a whole tribe of Christian scribes has been singing over the last several decades in order to salvage Christianity from its horrible history. But unfortunately for the tribe, the history of Christianity and its missions everywhere has been documented in great detail by Western scholars. What is more, in days not very distant, the hawkers of “the only saviour” have themselves chronicled their gory deeds with considerable pride. These first-hand accounts leave little doubt that Christian missionaries were the most criminal elements in the colonial establishments of the West, and that the teaching which activated them came from Jesus Christ. Secular colonialists like Clive had caused only physical injuries to the conquered people, and robbed them merely of material wealth. The soldiers of Jesus Christ, on the other hand, uprooted their victims from the latter’s spiritual habitat, and deprived them of their souls. Mangalwadi himself is an excellent example of what happens when a Hindu embraces Christianity.
A word about the
jargon with which Mangalwadi starts his exercise. He dismisses Arun Shourie
by pigeon-holing him as ‘post-modern’. He does not know that Hinduism has
its own view of Time, and that a person who serves Sanatana Dharma cannot
be dated. Scholars like Arun Shourie belong neither to the past, nor to
the present, nor yet to the future. They belong to a timeless span. By
the same logic the history of Christianity cannot become dated so long
as its basic theology remains intact. It is no use changing verbiage. What
needs changing is the dogma, namely, that Jesus Christ is the one and only
2 In his letter dated 18 May 1994, Kanjamala referred to the documents as “draft report” and to the statement as the “revised and corrected version” of the “draft report”. He sent it to Arun Shourie after Missionaries in India was already in print. How could Arun Shourie refer to it in the book? Moreover, the statement reflected nothing of the “draft report”, namely, the two Conference documents. It consisted entirely of stereotyped missionary claims and slogans.
3 Arun Shourie And His Christian Critic, Voice of India, New Delhi, 1995.
4 Introduction to Missionary Conspiracy: Letters to a postmodern Hindu, Mussoorie, 1996.