Step into My Parlour, Said the Spider to the Fly…

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I live in an area of Mumbai that has a large Christian population. As far as I know, most of them are Catholics.

I have mentioned that I have difficulty walking, and use a cane. This has led to a few interesting encounters.

One morning I was going to the bank when a young man ran up to me and asked me whether I would come to see his father. He told me his name- an obviously Christian one. I asked him the reason for this and he replied, “My father is a healer and he will definitely cure you.” I asked him whether his father was a doctor.

No, it seems that his father was a faith healer, and I would be cured by him ‘just by touch’.

I declined the offer.
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A few months ago, I was buying vegetables in the market where I go every few days. As I was selecting potatoes and onions from the cart of my usual Batatewala, a lady stopped to talk with the vendor’s wife who was there that day. “You have not brought anyone new for prayers, in two weeks.” she said. The vendor’s wife launched into a lengthy explanation about how she was very busy.

Yes,” the lady agreed”But this is God’s work. It is even more important.”

This particular Batatewala and his family had converted to Christianity a few years ago. Seems they were expected to bring more people ‘into the fold’!

The next week when I went there again he hesitatingly asked me “Bhabhiji, you have more trouble walking nowadays, don’t you?” I agreed.

“Then why don’t you come with us for Sunday prayers at …. Church. You will definitely be cured.” I politely declined but he persisted- “Please come just once, if you don’t feel better, don’t come again”

I finally told him that I was a confirmed Hindu and would never be anything else. So he dropped the subject.
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Last month’s encounter was a weird one. About once a week, after he goes to work, my husband sends our driver back home with the car, so I can do some shopping.

That day I had bought some things at my last ‘stop’ and was coming back to the car, when a young man with a cross dangling from a chain around his neck, stopped me. He started telling me about some religious ‘healer’ who would cure me. I told him- ‘no thanks’, and started to walk on.

He insisted that I come to the weekly prayer meeting they held, where this ‘healer’ did his stuff. When I still declined, he caught my hand and kept on trying to convince me. By this time I was quite tired, but I jerked my hand free.

Our driver had noticed that something was wrong, and he got out of the car and hurried towards me. Seeing him, the man left.
……………………………………………………………………..

The Indian Constitution certainly allows people of any religion to propagate their faith. I can understand that if followers think that theirs is the only religion capable of ‘saving souls’, they will feel that more and more people should embrace it.

However, I wonder that while safeguarding the rights of religious followers to proselytise, the Constitution did not think to protect the right of an individual not to ‘be proselytised’!

Perhaps I am over-reacting. But I do not appreciate having ‘faith’ thrust upon me by complete strangers!

I do not appreciate being regarded as a number to complete the quota of new people my Batatewala needs to take to prayer meeting, to stay in the good books of his church.

I also do not appreciate the implication that since I am not in good health, I would be emotionally weak enough to fall prey to their ‘persuasions’.

I do not know the meaning of these incidents that I’ve just described. I do not know whether to take them at face value, or whether there were some deeper intentions behind them.

These were just small incidents, and I probably should be able to look at them objectively. But I am finding it very difficult to do so.

I would like to know the opinions of my blogger friends about this.
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59 thoughts on “Step into My Parlour, Said the Spider to the Fly…”

  1. a very difficult subject to express opinion…though scientifically not proven, prayer tends to relax mind atleast in short term…i am not sure prayer can cure physical ailments..

    i think in all religion this practise of healing is found….i think though not sure , our famous musician also converted because of religious healer…whoever approached you, has definetly had hidden agenda..

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  2. Manju, this is atrocious. That people do such stuff of 'coercive embrace' ! I am sure whichever God's name such things are practiced ( in any religion ) would seek his disapproval !

    As Sundar says, 'prayer tends to relax mind' ! Thats my experience as well. And i have gone to churches, mosques, temples to pray in. For an entity called God ! A God that i believe is omnipresent in 'good' !This 'conversion' business annoys me no end.

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  3. Manju, these are the people who give religion a bad name…I can't believe these strangers had the audacity to ask what they did…I agree with you when you say that there should be a law upholding the right of an individual who does not want to be proselytized…

    I remember once at Sydney airport, 3-4 members of the Hare Krishna sect came up to me and tried very hard to make me buy some of their literature…They just wouldn't take no for an answer and kept on referring to my Hindu heritage..

    After about 10 minutes, I told them that I was a Muslim (a fib)and that got them off my back instantaneously…

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  4. Oh! I have been through this many times too. It just does not stop, no matter how much we may pretend otherwise. There is a mental illness at work here, it seems, apart from a deliberate agenda that feeds on fear but calls it love: intruding into people's lives to "save" them only because someone had told them that they had been "saved" and that they, in turn, had to "save" more people.

    I nearly got "saved" as a child. Then one day the priest who was "working" on me told me that Ram and Krishna were not Gods at all, only Jesus was. Perhaps he let this out a bit too prematurely, perhaps it was because my parents had told me to respect all Gods, irrespective or religion, that I saw the hatred behind the fake love of the priest.Mind you I was only about 11 years old then. But the truth hit me like a bolt. The first thing I did after that was to throw away the Cross that I was wearing around my neck. And I never sang the school prayer ever again. It took me years to get over that trauma, and those words disturbed me for a very long time. Till I realised one day that the poor fellow was just parroting what he had been told without applying his mind, that he had job that gave him food and shelter and that nothing in the world is given to anyone for free. He was simply doing another job and looking for promotions, like all of us do.

    There is another unbelievable incident that I must mention. I had a very good friend who was a Christian. I used to be in their house very frequently. His eldest daughter – all of 10 then – suddenly said one day that they would find a nice Christian girl for me to marry. And then, she said to my utter surprise, I would also become a Christian!

    Of course what happened with one of my maids is another very long story. The sum of it is that although she remained reasonably ambivalent about her conversion, despite the relentless efforts of previous converts who hovered around her all the time so that she did not go back to Hinduism, her two sons who got admission into a missionary school as result of her being "saved" were actively taught to hate, even abuse, Hindu Gods. And, not yet teenagers, they actually started doing that.

    You are right that these "spotters" prey upon emotionally weak people and exploit their fears. If there is anything that it absent in this whole process, it is unconditional love.Conditional love cannot be divine. Love that masks hatred and intolerance cannot be the word of God.

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  5. I think they actually target people who they think are physically manifesting some problem. I wonder what happens to those who dont have the strength to physically and even verbally oppose such people.

    A few months ago, I had to wear a cervical collar for some time. I continued my normal household shopping as usual, just being more careful etc. Imagine my surprise at being followed for almost 50 metres , on the main road, by a completely unknown chap, asking me about my neck, and telling me that I should see his brother, who has a cure. When i declined, he still insisted. It was only when one of the shopkeepers who has seen me going that way for years , saw this, that he came out and shouted at this guy, who then went away, possibly to catch someone else.Maybe they get commissions.

    But think of those who get taken in. Like your Batatewala …..

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  6. what a frank post! i am linking it on the blog. I have never been subjected to such religious rioting from Christians yet, but have heard from a Christian friend how such canvassing is quite in vogue, they even try to convert persons from one Christian sect to the other, she said.

    My experience of such religious propaganda is different: a relative, who is a staunch Swaminarayan follower, never tires of canvassing the holy books, chants and the various grand temples the sect has built all over the country and abroad. after initial irritation, you feel sorry for the person whose sole aim is life revolves around getting more into the fold.

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  7. Sunder, Kavi– I quite agree. I am not doubting the healing powers of prayer. I have seen instances where people who were at death's door suddenly became better. It may have been because of medical treatment, or it may have been beause of prayer. Who am I to say with certainty what the reason was?

    My objection here was to the 'agenda' behind the offers of 'healing'.

    Sraboney– Religion isn't usually a strictly private matter. 'Group activities' like 'Namsmaran Saptahas' in temples, etc. are useful for social bonding. 'Pushing' of religion, however, like your experience at Sydney airport, is frequently very annoying.

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  8. Vinodji– It was very interesting to read your experiences!Yes, it does seem that this is an agenda that feeds on fear. And if the individual who has converted/ is thinking of converting is emotionally weak, it would be easy to keep them in a state of fear.

    You are so right-Conditional love cannot be divine. Love that masks hatred and intolerance cannot be the word of God.

    I am no expert on religion- but there is a difference I have noticed between what these people told me and the practices in my own religion.They said that various other people had the 'healing touch' and 'they would cure me'.

    The elders in my family (Hindus) have always told me that I should pray/ read religious scriptures myself so that I would become mentally strong. No shortcuts.

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  9. Ugich Konitari – So you had a similar experience!

    Yes, I think you're right- they actually target people who they think are physically manifesting some problem.

    Gauri Gharpure– Yes I agree, so sad to go through life with this single aim. But I do not know much about the Swaminarayan sect, perhaps they do social work, etc. also?

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  10. Hey I read your posts but don’t always comment coz this comments embedded form doesn’t work for me… but lets write this in word.. if it goes I ll mail it to you…

    Converstion to Christianity.. let me tell you about my experience… Long back I was a medical representative in a pharma company in bharuch.. we had a hospital medical wala who would give orders only to those who would help in medical camps that his NGO did in tribal areas in Bharuch… Its in Dediapada… a pretty remote area with small villages of population of 200 – 500 people… their language is mixed gujarati and marathi… and they are really forgotten people… We joined it the man was non corrupt but wanted volunteers… they would arrange medical camps… with doctors and procure free samples from us M.R’s and we would all go to very remote villages… and I mean remote villages…

    First trip I just went there coz it’s a lovely place.. in bharuch its in a bear sanctuary so I just wanted a reason to go to the woods… then we realized that they were giving Hindu Bhagwan ka cards along with the free medicine… we largely used to distribute Albendazole, Multivitamins, Iron, folic acid…

    This institution is Vanvasi Kalyan (something) sort of related to VHP if you like… What has happened in these tribal villages is… these tribals are being converted… They have a St Xaviers School there in Dediapada, they have these people who provide them free education work assistance and what not… maybe they are lured or they opt by themselves I cannot say… I have not investigated…

    But these people realized that all tribals are beind converted so they must act… they build swami narayan temples distributing free food etc… medical camps.. they would go there for festivals.. they made hostels and schools there… I would kinda say whatever was happening atleast people started looking at the tribals.. whether they be a Christian or Hindu.. atleast their kids had schools and medical facilities now… One think I know.. humans do not help others unless there is a self pleasing motive …

    Christians want to help coz they want to convert them to Christianity and Hindu’s don’t want them to convert that’s why they go there.. no one goes there for helping humanity… nope…

    Very interesting post… I ll link on my page too… !!! And if you can change your comments form it would be a great help… !!

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  11. I have taught my kids to respect all religions. My children had Christian friends and went to church with them which I did not find objectionable. What hurt me was their parents' point blank refusal to even allow their kids to enter the temple grounds so that I could pick them up from there and drive them home. Remember, they were not being asked to enter the temple.

    The temple grounds were just being suggested as a pick up point. The Semitic religions think they have the monopoly on the "Only True Path' TM.

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  12. Hi, Came over from Hitchwriter's. I have also seen people force people to change their religion. I am not sure if such people really believe in their god, but they are always inclined to make others believe that their god has special powers..

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  13. hitch writer– You have narrated a very complex situation regarding the tribals- it would be difficult to answer in a short comment.

    However I would say that since the conversions by Christians took place first, the Hindu NGO would be justified in trying to stop them.Christian conversions usually have a political agenda. And mass conversions of tribals are almost always orchestrated for the purpose of establishing a Christian majority and ultimately making a demand for a separate Christian state.

    However I agree wholehearted with you that no one helps the tribals- not even the government- without a political agenda.

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  14. Sagarone– Yes, we should have respect towards all religions. And I am glad the nature of the Hindu religion is inclusive, not exclusive.As you have mentioned, this is not the case with other religions.

    lifeismystery – Welcome to this blog!

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  15. Hi Manju,(Got to know of your blog, from Hitchy's blog)

    Where I come from, there was a Church, Mosque and Temple all withing walking distance of each other. The daily Namaz used to wake us up in the mornings, followed by the Church bells, and the sound of bells in the Temples sounded beautiful by evening. I have had wonderful neighbours too. We used to wait in eager anticipation of 'Christmas' to get some yummy plum cake and help decorate the Christmas tree, as also for Diwali, when we would give them our crisps and milk-sweets! It was all so beautiful!

    However, what put me off was my daily wait at the bus-stand that used to be quite distressing. Young girls and boys would suddenly walk up to me, and hand out pamphlets or start lecturing on 'the true faith', and the 'path to salvation'. And they would do this so timidly, almost stealthily! WHY? Because they know it is a despicable act.

    It is human nature to try to cover up an act that we think is incorrect or immoral.I despise people who try to convert others. Because they treat Conversion as a Money making venture. People like these are Mercenaries. Not believers.They shame their religion or sect, by failing to understand that ALL RELIGIONS ARE ONE!! They all teach the same thing! To be good human beings!!

    God bless our world with a little peace!

    Regards,Pallavi

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  16. If you get my point will you also see these people were of no ones business (tribals)… no one wanted them or wanted to do anything for them… neither the hindu's or muslims or anyone… but only after the christians landed there… did the hindu's wake up and wanted to do something about it…

    I dont know … but If i m a tribal and am getting money, work, education and medicine for just changing my name from meena to mariyam… I would do it … its obvious and natural…

    Frankly for me personally religions dont matter… I couldnt care lesss… but this is what is happening… in reality… just wanted to say that…

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  17. Hi, first timer here. Came thro Hitch's post.A thought provoking post.This is what is happenning to us, in India. The religions rule over humanitarian needs.When the religion is forced on people, the whole purpose is lost.

    Even though I've not experienced anything like this, I am feeling very bad, for the way you've experienced it.

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  18. writerzblock, umsreflections – Welcome to this blog!

    hitchwriter– I'm glad your comments are coming through, today!

    Re: tribal conversions- I get what you're saying. But since this was not the subject of this post, I will have to think a bit before responding to your comment. Okay? 🙂

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  19. I agree with Dhir (hitchwriter). If I am getting the essentials of life like food, clothing a better education and medical facilities for me and my family…. I don't mind changing to Michelle !!!

    I believe in all religions and respect all of them….. every religion teaches goodness over evil. As Swami Ramkrishna once quoted "Joto mot toto poth" arthat….. number of views number of ways!!! ultimately aim is the same one !!!

    Btw my maid tried to convert me!!!!Ranu

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  20. Very tough and touchy subject for both sides. Even though I am not religious, I definitely do not like people accosting me to come to their congregation to 'find' faith. Having said that, I understand that proseletyzing is ingrained in Christianity, Islam etc.

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  21. Hitchwriter has put it quite well..

    I don't know for sure how much social work Swaminarayan people do, for quite frankly, I have developed a kind of aversion to the sect thanks to years of persistent cajoling.. they make awesome khichdi though, at the akshardham temple in gandinagar –and tht reminds me, they do feed a lot of poor people from time to time..

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  22. shilpadesh– Yes it is a tough question.

    hitchwriter, Ranu, Gauri-Of course I agree- no one can blame the tribals for converting if they get the essentials of living.

    But should we not blame the missionaries, and those foreign countries which fund them? They convert the tribals and then demand separate sovereign political status. Do we want to see the secession of Indian states one by one due to this?

    Or should we just keep our heads in the sand, ostrich-like, and pretend this is not happening in the North-eastern states?

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  23. Manju ji I think there are no second thoughts that anybody would be put off to be seen as a "number added". Because clearly that is what was happening with you.

    The experience hitchwriter has written brings out a point….The MOTIVE behind any action. If you are almost buying followers by means of much needed aid to the deprived populations…you are being dishonest to your cause and to your faith.

    I do believe in 'Kriti Bhakti' where the Bhav Bhakti transaltes into action…in being a 'Karmayogi' a true 'Brahman' but the actions will be as the motive is. It can and should never be a membership drive. I have discovered the brilliance of my scriptures, so surely I will tell others about it, NOT force it or say I will give you money if you read Geeta….

    My own actions and a purely motivated relationship formed will alone have a lasting impression.(Swami Narayan is a state of mind…where desires/Kamna have no control over me. It is not or rather should not have been a Sampraday or an organization)

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  24. it is a question of one's faith and believe in something.although i am a jain but i visit church regularly , for that matter i go to gurudwara also quite frequently and of ccourse all hindu temples.

    and i have faith and confidence in God whether christian or muslim or hinduwhat i dont like is compelling someone to embrace or follow a particualr sect.

    Regiious saints or monks who propogate their religion by insulting other religions or passing derogatry remarks against other religion are a farce on the name of religion and they should rather be shunned by the soceity

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  25. These guys actually are sounding like Amway agents, innit? I think, you just gotta take them with a pinch of salt… Don't worry about them too much.
    Btw, what happened to your leg?
    PS. Came over courtesy Dhirubhai!

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  26. Chrysalis– Thank you for reminding us- I agree completely- the motive behind any action is most important.

    "If you are almost buying followers by means of much needed aid to the deprived populations…you are being dishonest to your cause and to your faith."- So very true!

    AnjuGandhi"i visit church regularly , for that matter i go to gurudwara also quite frequently and of course all hindu temples."

    In my case I very seldom go to even Hindu temples. 🙂

    But I do not think that makes me any less a Hindu. As you said- it is a question of individual faith.

    Rakesh– Welcome!

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  27. Manju, I had shared something similar on another comment space. We have these Jehovah's witnesses here who go door to door and talk about Bible and god knows what. Twice it happened and I sent them away but the third time I was so irritated that I asked them if they have read 'Gita' and I started how Gita does the same thing as Bible so how about sending that message too and bored them to death. Finally slammed the door. Never cared. No one ever troubled us again. 🙂

    We had lots of Christain family friends of diff. sects like Roman Catholic, Marthoma, Yacobites etc. But none of their Church go door to door like this. I have never seen that. We have been to their Churches and they have come to our temple and we have celebrated Onam, Diwali, Christmas, Easter together without any problem.

    But once we met this Pentecostal auntie and next day she called mom if she can drop in and we saw auntie with some more women (total strangers) dropped in and had tea then started praying. Gosh! it was scary actually. Anyways mom didn't say anything to them that day but next time when this auntie called, mom politely refused.

    Also, there is a reason why I hate ISCKON people. Those convert "Hindus" stand near airports and give a thin book of what they call 'Gita' and try to spread Hinduism. Gosh! it irritates me to no end when we are associated with such people. They have no clue about the religion and give us bad name here. ISCKON temples are a place to dance, merry making, gossiping. I hate that place which they call as place of worship.

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  28. Manju,most of the comments on this post have covered the points and issues.I had a similar though not a serious incident when i lived in Bandra years ago.Such people give enough material to the politicians to create problems.

    In my opinion no one can be converted by such silly healing

    One may hate ISCKON but same would apply to the missionary schools in Delhi where one is"converted"on the first day of school.It is better to leave these issues and only stupid will get carried away….yes unless it is economic compulsion.

    I do not know if it is true but there is story going around that aChristian driver was given a task.He asked the Hindu villagers to push his Jeep as it was having start-up problem.They did by saying"Jai Sri Ram".The Jeep did not statrt(ignition was not on).Now the driver requested for another push with a request" jeesus Cares".The Jeep did start(ignition was on).

    So much for honesty and conversion

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  29. "…the Constitution did not think to protect the right of an individual not to 'be proselytised'!"

    I have the same thought each time these door-to-door sales-people (well, they are sales-people selling their religion, aren't they just like those others who come selling books, household appliances, spices and such)land up at my doorstep and want 'just a few minutes of my time' while they pray. My answer is a cool 'No' and if they pester me further I tell them in no uncertain terms that I have faith in the religion I was born to and don't need the crutch of any other. I simply hate these type of sales-people out to propagate their religion whichever one that is.I don't know if I am wrong in thinking so.

    But I DO look down on people who have converted to this or that faith just because something miraculous happened to them when they prayed at a particular place or to a particular God (whichever religion). My opinion of the person goes down actually when they say that. This only shows their own weakness. They want something or someone to hang their faith on to. Of course they are welcome to it and this is only my personal opinion.

    I have also found that people who join any particular sect (be it Art of Living, Ramakrishna Math, Mata Amritanandamayi to take a few examples from my own religion, or rather the one I was born to as I myself am agnostic) feel they are superior in some way to the rest of us and are forever trying to get us to join them. Their talk usually centers around their group and is aimed at making the 'outsiders; feel 'less' of a person than they are.

    Having studied in Xtian institutions all my life I have had ample experience of nuns poking fun at Hindu Gods, especially Krishna who is the main target for them, for gamboling with the gopis and having so many wives, but a strong religious background did not make me flinch or feel inferior at these remarks, but only made me feel pity for them as they sitting in a position of authority (teachers) were trying to influence young minds into hating their own faith which they should not be doing at all.

    Like you have mentioned I certainly don't believe in short-cuts and anybody who accosts me and try to sell their religion, whichever one it might be, arouses my ire. But desperate people do resort to desperate means, I can see that though. But personally I cannot stand proselytizing.

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  30. As far as I know, Christianity and Islam have proselytized throughout history as their religion encourages it.

    The Andhashraddha Nirmoolan Samiti has educated people in many villages how Christian nuns actually gave out Crocin tablets to sick people, claiming the cure was magical.

    The line between freedom of speech and outlawing proselytization is very thin however, and should be understood.

    See Legal Standpoint and Limits in Wikipedia for more information.

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  31. This is such a thought-provoking topic. I find that it is often the converted who are the most keen converters! I have had several encounters with friends who have changed or found religion and feel the strong need to save my soul and bring me with them.

    I know this is different from complete strangers approaching you, but it is also very off-putting and often ends in the friendship going to purgatory! One friend cried for me because she was so sad that I am "going to burn in hell for the rest of eternity".

    It reminded me of the song line: "I'd rather laugh with the sinners than cry with the saints…" (or something like that).

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  32. Manju,Incidents in India, never heard off. I remember specifically in US, in a very short stay couple of years ago, the secret societies do it.There is a society called as "Church of Scientology". they still follow me through emails. thats fine. Till now physical interactions that fine.

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  33. Interesting. Agreed the missionaries are doing good work, educating the tribals … but the backlash of all this forced conversion is going to be terrible – witness what happens in Orissa! God's work is definitely not being done, more like the Devil's

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  34. I can understand how you felt, when the batatewala invited you to their church. I have never seen any normal Hindu people (I said normal – not politically motivated) canvassing people of other religion to get converted. And normal Hindus are not fanatics also.

    We send our children to Christian schools too. The area where I am living now, has got 7 churches – nearly every alternate street has got a church. I see christians going to the church every Sunday morning, without fail. We admired their discipline – the whole family getting up early on a Sunday morning and going to the church, along with their small kids.

    Then it started…most of the Saturdays, some women started ringing our doorbell in the afternoon. As soon as I opened the door, they thrust some small bibles in my hand. I took them for 2 weeks, feeling bad to refuse. Then on the third week, as soon as they rang the bell, I opened the door and gave them the Geetha books(I had 2 gita books – pocket editions). They had a look at it and with a shocked face just threw it on my face and ran out. They never came back.

    My servant lives in a slum and most of her neighbours have been converted to Christianity. The Pentacostal church, which is nearby to our house, fed them with biriyani lunch and converted these people.

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  35. Solilo– I wonder that ISCKON has so many followers- their temple here in Mumbai has often been the subject of much controversy. Of course, I do not have any first-hand information about it.

    If religion was just about celebrating each others' festivals, there would be no problem!:)

    But to a religious person, it is much more than that…

    Chowlaji– Yes, I have also heard such stories. And a couple of them (about trickery) I personally know to be true.

    Vishesh– I cannot comment on other religions. But for most Hindus, our religion is a way of life, not just a way of worship, so it is important at every point in life.

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  36. Shail– As you have mentioned, I have also noticed that people who join any particular sect often feel they are superior than others. Perhaps that is human nature…

    Mahendrap– Thanks for the link to the wikipedia article.

    I have heard about this Crocin trick, too, – from a relative who was a doctor in a primary health centre in a rural area.

    Sioneve, Sunny– Most people have had some personal experience like this- it is quite widespread.

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  37. Phoenixritu – Along with the possibility of a backlash, there is also the problem of some of our border states wanting to secede from India when Christians gain majority there.

    Sandhya– Many people have had experience of Bible-thumpers as you have had.

    Nice answer- giving them the Geeta!

    Yes, slum-dwellers are particularly at risk of conversion.

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  38. I do not like anything done in the name of religion. This is a personal issue. And it should be practised within the four walls of one’s home.

    I hate to see temples ( or any other places of worship that come up overnight in the middle of the road , and over a period of time the area it occupies slowly expands till it hinders smooth flow of traffic and after which it becomes a political issue.

    And similarly the act of conversion should be condemned whichever religion it may be. It is growing into a menace. And the propagation of any faith in public places with loud speakers is also becoming a nuisance.

    Since this is a sensitive topic, not many would like to speak about it. Hats off to you.

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  39. Their shocked face told me how they felt when their fingers touched the Geetha (when they saw the book). They threw them on my face, literally, with faces full of hatred. I can still remember, even after 13 and odd years!

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  40. came here via hitchy's blog… as everyone has said this is very touchy subject

    my own maid is converted to Christianity… she claims the church atleast welcomes them rather than the temples where they were treated like untouchables… she does have a valid point there… we hindus are so absorbed in our jaat paat…

    having said that i hate any faith being forced on me and that includes the hindus pandits and astrology

    too brilliant post, will be a regular here i guess

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  41. Hello Manjuji,If the Church converts then it is freedom of religious choice. If Hindus try to prevent this then it is following divisive poltics and playing with communal fire.

    Any other country this would have been met with stern action. We have been brain washed by these organisations. There was a time when "convent" schools were the place to be in. Over a hundred years of convent education and you see the result. We are ashamed to call ourselves Hindus. Our English media is completely wrapped by this sick thinking.

    May I point out that when a church was vandalised in Karnataka, the father had enough "bad manners" to scream at the Chief Minister and the press went ballistic. Reason – It was a BJP government there. There were many attacks on churches in TN and Kerala and there was not a murmur from our secular crowd.

    I did not study at a convent school but the suburb where I used to stay had a good amount of Christian population. Through our 1 year stay there, we must have easily had atleast 50 – 60 knocks on our door extolling virtues of the Bible. Hey….let me be in peace…my religion works for me…It elevates me and teaches me to be spiritual rather than dogmatic and critical of other religions.

    Manju…you have given me a good idea for my next post….I will write on what Swami Vivekananda felt about proselytising….

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  42. Radha– Yes, and the public display of religion is generally not religious in character at all. It usually has a political colour, whichever the religion concerned.

    Sandhya– 🙂

    Monika– Welcome!

    Of course, Hindu practices are not perfect. Casteism is still widely prevalent- and we need to oppose this.

    As I mentioned above, I would not blame those poor people who convert.But those who lure Hindus into converting by giving them money, are just buying human beings, as a farmer buys cattle.

    Mavin– Yes, the government and the press certainly indulges in double standards.

    Looking forward to your post..

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  43. Manju,if a Hindu was to behave exactly the same way,he would be called "communal" and will have human rights activists after the issue.

    However,similar action by Christians is called "freedom of religion".

    Do I need to say anything else?

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  44. Back to comments again. Totally agree with BK Chowla. And I wonder if after a few years if the Hindus are a minority. Would there be reservation for the Hindus expecially the forward castes? I am digressing but just a thought.

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  45. Anrosh has sent a comment by e-mail-

    i am sorry what happened to you manju and it is NOT correct.

    i would not do it and i am a christian – who follow the faith and not the religion.- he is asking you to come for 'getting cured' because he 'thinks' he has found a 'new way of living'. perhaps he has not realised the similarities between his new found "religion" and his old one (hindu,islam) .

    now does he know what his 'faith' is? he is all confused yet excited and is troubling strangers on the road.

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  46. Nice topic.

    First of all let me tell you, I am not against any religion.Conversion generally happens or targetted towards the weaker mind.as you said and few people commented,there is an hidden agenda behind this healing power.

    All the religion teach us the same. Only difference in christinaity and islam is, you are compelled to listen and take it for granted, where as in our Hinduism, it is upto you to pray.

    Without knowing what your religion (by birth) says,and analyse whats better said or you understand in other, if any one converts to other religion, I would consider them weak.

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  47. Good post. It is repulsive to see how low some may stoop to propagate their religion.

    Constitution gives us the right to freedom of religion which means: 1. To practice any religion, 2. To follow it according to their specific ways and 3. To preach it.

    So in your case there was an attempt to change the way you practice religion without your consent. So a threat from you to take legal action will most probably end the harassment in the name of religious propagation.

    I think we should all be worried about the continuing conversion of [lower caste] Hindus. How can we prevent it? Obviously not by following the Hindutva activist’s way [of violence and intimidation] that we saw in Orissa.

    May be we will have to go back to the way shown by Gandhiji.

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  48. Chowlaji, Radha– Yes, certainly double standards are there.

    Of course, if a Hindu behaved like this, I would be just as annoyed!

    Anrosh– As I said in my post, I do understand the reasoning of the persons who accosted me on the street. I would appreciate them understanding my position…

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  49. Maddy– I agree, conversion generally takes place in the case of the weak…

    Charakan– Stopping conversions of Tribals, etc? Complex question- no easy answer, I think.

    You know, I was not really thinking about these type of conversions when I wrote this post. I was thinking more on the lines of how to put out a 'do not call' sign. 🙂

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  50. I absolutely detest proselytizers of all kinds . I was given a leaflet by one of these scum bags once , I almost threw it back in his face . It pisses me off so much . Any bloody missionary can come to India loaded with Dollars and Euros and start spewing their venom in the name of "serving the poor" and "doing God's work" .

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  51. One need not get converted to get some benefit from God.One who can get connected with the Eternal Conscious can see miracles in his life and he need not belong to any particular religion.

    FAITH AND LOVE ARE THE TWO STEPS WHICH CAN GIVE YOU PEACE AND UNITE YOU TO THE DIVINE SOUL.

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  52. Someone trying to lure in exchange of a cure. Such type of cures are faith healing amplyfying the mental power hidden and latent with us. Someone told me if any body is trying to lure by means of a religious cure better watch out and protest to save others.

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  53. A lady suddenly popped up in the middle of the road and started giving me a sweet lemon. She said it was some Devi (Goddess) pooja, showed me a foto, and said that she had to give it to 5 ladies.

    At first I was in a shock since noone talks to strangers and someone coming up like this was first time experience for me! I gently denied it, but she insisted. Just then a doorkeeper at a big shop came near me and helped me shoo her away..Another reason why I dismissed her was that she was wearing a white odhani and didnt wear a bindi.Usually if it was a Devi's pooja, its a tradition that women wear something colorful and wear a bindi.. so she looked rather suspicious to me.

    Later I spotted a police van with the title "Anti Women Harassment.." I approached a policeman alighting from it and told him the story…. He told me there is nothing to fear…. and I left the place.

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  54. Manju Ma'm .. reading old blogs as was away from blog world for quite sometime .. you are right .. this thing is just going a bit overboard ..

    very recently was told a story by a man who told about his brother-in-law in AP who has converted recently as after conversion the prist recommended him for a job and he got that too … so he remains a convert .. with prist visiting their houses often to check if they have not gone their old ways ..

    now the funny part is he keeps a big poster of his new GOD and behind that poster a very small poster of his old GOD which he still prays not sure if this story is indeed true ..

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  55. Hi! First time here from Gauri gharpure's blog. Nice blog 🙂

    Regarding the topic in question, I don't understand why an effort should be made to influence minds of people from different religions. If an individual wishes to follow Christianity (or any religion that is not ones own), he/she will do so at his/her own will. What is the coaxing (and eventually forcing) all about.

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