Sunday, September 21, 2008

New Life.....? :-)

Some clarifications before you read the post -

I do not get influenced by news or opinions, I purely rely upon my experiences, so what ever you read here is what has happened in and around me and that I have witnessed. Nothing here is assumed.

I have lived in Mangalore for 21 years. My immediate neighbors are a Muslim family and a Christian family. It is true that I have spent more time in the Muslim house than my own. I broke the fast every evening with them, during the holy month of Ramadan. Of course, I was not fasting but I could not resist the feast. :-) And they happily considered me as one among them. We distribute home made sweets during Astami & Ganehsa chaturthi to both the houses and we celebrated Christmas by cutting the plum cake given to us by our catholic neighbors. While in US, one of my roommate was a catholic and I accompanied him to Church on Christmas eve and he joined me at the temple on Deepavali.To me, this is the meaning of secularism; where one respects the other and one celebrates others happiness. And with this beautiful thought I have grown up.

When this balance is altered, communal riots originate. Mangalore is no exception. It has seen few horrible communal riots in the past but the outcome has always been to find a balance between different religious sentiments.

My first encounter with conversion came as a shock, when it appeared within the family, with someone I grew up with, with whom I share some of the best childhood memories and then lost somewhere in between. This was when I was introduced to the term - New life church.

Few years later during a walk he revealed to me, his experiences. Few insecurities and a disturbed mind had led him to this place. Who does not seek a goal, an aim in life during disturbed times? Every young mind goes through this phase and the direction he/she receives then, shapes their career, their life. He entered that room and a lady said something that he had come to light etc. (I do not recall the exact details now) and she placed a hand on his forehead; he almost fainted. She said, they saw Jesus beside him and several other words influenced him to this change. He was told that all Hindu gods are satanic. They are actually evil forces being worshipped and will eventually only do bad. He was asked not to visit temples, see idols or even take the sacred water and Prasada at temples. This was the reason he never attended any poojas or functions in our family. Slowly his faith in Hinduism deteriorated. This created a big turmoil within the family. His parents requested the elders from the family to speak to him, which did not seem very effective. Elders tried to explain that every religion is same, none is superior and none is inferior. I did my part to help him out of his dilemma, explained to him that every religion is the same, only difference being the approach and if one does not exist, the other too does not. I recommended concentration on career rather than these influences. He had stupid goal to convert his parents and sister towards Christianity and then slowly even me and the others, to which I aggressively recall replying that he will never succeed in converting my thoughts, because I am very clear and not weak minded like he and I understood secularism and religion in much broader sense than him.

As I see him today, the new life church has left him so confused that he now wishes to re shift his concentration on his career. He is slowly shifting his focus out of such thoughts; out of criticisms and allegations on religions. And I hope the best for him.

In Colorado, US, my roommate visited the new life church (Year 2005), for one of their preaching. On that day, the pastor described his visit to India (Chennai). The Pastor started with his explanation of India with its road condition and named our country as a “country of chaos." He said, in India people throw kids in garbage; people are poor; the traffic is so bad; there are people everywhere on the streets. And he praised America and their forefathers who have planned the country so well. (I guess, he is yet to read how his forefathers built the country on the blood of Native Americans). And he then went on to investigate why India was so…And he found an interesting answer – Hinduism. According to him Hinduism is a religion of chaos with millions of Gods and each one considers different God to be superior. And he then praises his own religion to be perfect for he believes in only one God. My disturbed friend took me for a walk and explained how embarrassed he was sitting there in between that huge crowd of thousands that laughed and joked about our country and religion.

I saw a TV program on God TV were a gentle man was expressing his concern by showing a world map with middle east and some portions of Asia covered in dark. And he said – We need to enlighten them and bring them to light. :-)
But what I do not understand in the concept of new life church is that, If Hindu God does not exist, how can any other? If miracles on Hindu epics are fake, then how can Benny hinn, a pastor cure people with cancer and paralysis in his staged acts by just placing his hand on their forehead?

I am no fanatic, I do not encourage violence and I do not say that we should demolish others prayer halls, convert religions or kill people through terrorism. But I have been growing up in my part of the world silently, loving my Ganesha idol, seeing God in it, listening to epics like Ramayana and Mahabharata which is not just a story for me, but an example to lead life; worshipping God through poojas is my style of seeing and appreciating his presences and creation. My eyes fill with tears to hear baseless allegations that my adorable Ganesha idol is satanic and representation of evil forces.
Hinduism is not a religion; it’s a Dharma; a way to lead life; a duty to perform from birth to death based on what community we belong in the varanashrama dharma... It was British who named the different beliefs put together as Hinduism. We have no Guru’s, no strict rules and regulations. May be our ancestors never thought of this as a possible weakness in future invasions. Because God is a universal term, He cannot be bounded to a territory or community or be called old or new.

Every act has a root cause. Lets all work together to eliminate the root cause for the effects or failures in our society. Say no to forced conversion and allegations on other religions…let every one live happily with their beliefs. Let’s not sow a seed of suspicion in others to ruin their age old belief.

:-) New life…? or is it like - Hey you have an old, orthodox & satanic wife, replace her with this young new wife….it is as stupid as that, or perhaps even more.


  1. Your post puts in perspective what is happenning in our country today..its sad that it has come to this, not to mention political mileage some politicians get out of this...sad

  2. Hmmm...
    Bad experiences really!

  3. I am sorry to hear about your friends conversion. This whole concept of taking advantage of a weak and depressed person and using that to increase the number count of followers of a religion is a bad concept that i think any/every religion is against or at least should be against. I had a similar experience with a friend of mind who converted. :(. I am just glad that you still don't harbor hatred against people of a community due to the actions of a few. :)

  4. An eye-opener post, very well pointed to current happenings and brought me up to speed on the latest. The first part where you shared your experiences growing up in Mangalore with other religious neighbours was truly heart-warming.

  5. @Marina - Very true, and there is no question of generalizing it to the entire community. As I have mentioned earlier in the post, I have grown up in a proper secular atmosphere.

    @Mitr - Thanks. I am glad this post has helped. I think you got it precisely; my intention in the first para was to create a proper understanding of secularism.

  6. well i am on diff grounds brother.
    i am an atheist.

    i want to say a lot..but this comment space will not be enough.
    visit my blog and see the "atheist" in my labels section on the right.

    whatever happened in calcutta and manglore shouldn't have been done

    take care

  7. Vicky - I appreciate your thoughts, you have the right to choose what you want to be and so do others. I think that is what my post is conveying.

    I too agree that the attacks are not the way to deal with this and that, i hope if properly read, my post clearly suggests.

  8. Ajeya,
    Truly, an enlightening post.

    BTW, thanks for checking up on me. I've been a little busy, but my new post is up:)

  9. If one does not exist , the other too does not. Very true..! such a simple point , and people are confused on this issue :)

    people who dont realise it are so silly ..for eg , in my hospital , there are people who apply leave on Ayudh Pooja day , so as to escape from attending it !!!

    By the way , Ganesha is my favourite too.. Cute friend ..who happens to be a God.. That s what I feel about him :)

  10. @Travel Plaza - Thanks. Will check.

    @Reborn - I have seen some here too - People avoid taking Thirupati prasada, coming inside temples etc. SO... who is outcasting whom?

  11. This is in response to your comment posted at another blog on conversion

    Where were the fanatic hindu groups when a hindu puja like Chaat Puja was not allowed in Maharastra? Will VHP and Bajrang Dal support Raj Thakeray to protect Marathi identity by harming non-Marathis in Mumbai & Nagpur? If fanatic Hindus are supported to harm converts, fanatic Marathis will see precedent in that and start harming non-marathis in Maharastra.

    Will VHP & BD request for ban of english and promote Hindi?

    Educated people should know the difference between vote bank politics and real issues.

  12. As far as i recall, i have never supported fanatics. My post too "IF CLEARLY READ" has nothing to do with any fanatic groups or doesn't try to defend it.

    I tend to ignore the politics and hence, you can see my experiences in the post and not NEWS!

    So without diverting attention, Why dont you instead reply to this post? Educated people like you owe an answer!

  13. Very nice post Ajeya, truely the experiences are really bad and shows how wrongly people have understood and adopted the concept of SECULARISM.
    You truely said - Hinduism is not just a religion its a WAY OF LIFE.

    Thanks for the post.

  14. I did read your post earlier. Now that you are asking me to comment on this post, let me...As per me, you are an educated fool. A person with developed reasoning skill would reject the god concept. If Krishna, Buddha, Christ or Allah were gods even before the corresponding religions were founded, you too can be one. ie you can develop the qualities of god in you, without associated with any religion. The god implied here is only a conceptual term. It is 'the way of life' that you follow leads you to conflict. You THINK that YOUR way of life is correct, which is actually not. Our Hindu epics could have avoided war to settle scores. What reason do you find in gods resorting to war than a discussion to settle issues. If gods could settle issues through war alone, so do men. They see a precedent in god to resort to violence. Ajay, god is a concept created by humans. The intention of creating this concept is not clear, but this concept has done more bad to the society now. Every now and then people are fighting for THEIR god, when no one knows who created god...Did you notice the outcry in internet forums when govt increased the creamy layer limit to 4.5 lakhs. Till yesterday those who shouted to protect their hindu BROTHER's conversion, changed stand and started abusing them for availing quotas. Can you see vote bank politics here.

    If you still find a reason to fight conversion, then it is upto you...but i want to see your future posts in HINDI only, because english was forced upon us. Please start rejecting english with immediate effect. Thanks.

  15. You still have not replied to my post! I am saying that every individual has a right to decide what he wants. Now you cannot force me or influence me to stop believing in God, which you are by this comment. So to me you too are one among those people who do forced conversions.

    To me you are a "FANATIC" who influences people to stop believing in GOD....If you are not one already, you will become one someday. Your writing clearly shows your religion; you have a religion built for yourself already and may be you aren't educated enough to identify it yourself. I am sorry to say that.

    Being educated does not mean we have to prove our ancestors wrong. Vivekananda said - It is a shame to be ashamed of our own ancestors. I can see now, how true it is.

    I have nothing to comment on politics, because you seem to be talking about the issues that happened in Mangalore and Orissa, I am talking about something else here. My topic is more related to emotional turmoil that a person goes through and not the violence that you see on television. I hope you can come out of your perspective to read my post.

    You have to think positively to get positive meaning from a philosophy, if you read anything with an idea to disprove it then you will obviously find several, as you have succeeded in with our epics. I am not going to discuss the epics here because I do not want to prove it to you, there is not need of that.

    You are comparing a language with a religion; ha…I can see how you did that, by attaching a prefix "Forced". My dear, I am no fanatic, to me all religions are same, all languages are important. So please understand SECULARISM in a proper way!

  16. Mr Anon…. I am replying to your comment above.

    First of all, your comment is totally out of the context of this post.

    You say that a person with developed reasoning skills will reject God concept? Who gave you the right to generalize your opinion? I am not talking of Jesus, Allah and Budha…But Hindhu Vedic Dharma existed even before Krishna and Rama. The whole concept of Godly qualities in people, who eliminate the evil, may be very confusing to developed reasoning skills of you.

    You say, one can develop qualities of God in us...In fact God is within oneself, that is what Advaitha Sidantha talks about. To see God in oneself needs lot of meditation and concentration, hence are the Idols and representation of God, where in you worship the God with in yourself. Enlightened souls have attained the stage to directly enhance the God qualities in them.

    You say – Epics could have avoided wars. I wish you where there in middle of the Kurukstehtra or Lanka to provide a peace talk between the two enemy troops. What makes you think the peace talks have not happened before war? Have you read the epics at all before commenting? When Adharma exceeds a limit, war is inevitable. What would you call the Indian army then? I am sure you will not dare to call them Fanatics…They are our protection against Adharma. And I repeat…Krishna and Rama where born as humans to set an example for living.

    Conversion to avail minority quota is also a strategy used by the missionaries.

    And you consider the believers in God as educated fools. I wonder what education you have received to put forth such allegations on people. The first education comes from home not school; the culture and mannerisms. Education does not mean going to school and questioning the beliefs. Education is to understand the different concepts. You cannot call yourself educated just because you read newspaper and watch Television news which may provide biased opinions. Go to rural parts of India and see how peacefully people live with their beliefs.

    The solution is to let everyone live with their beliefs, not rejecting God concept itself.


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