Autor: Khushwant Singh
their churches deserve to be condemned unreservedly. They have
blackened the fair face of Mother India and ruined the reputation of
Hindus being the most religiously tolerant people in the world. At the
same time, we must take a closer look at people who convert from one
faith to another. To start with, let it be understood that these days
there are no forced conversions anywhere in the world. India is no
exception. Those who assert that the poor, innocent and ignorant of
India are being forced to accept Christianity are blatant liars. A
few, very few educated and well-to-do men and women convert to another
faith when they do not find solace in the faith of their ancestors.
Examples are to be found in America and Europe of men and women of
substance turning from Judaism and Christianity to Buddhism, Hinduism,
Islam and Sikhism.
There are also men and women who convert to the faith of those they
wish to marry. We have plenty of cases of Hindu, Muslim, Christian and
Sikh inter-marriages. However, the largest number of converts come
from communities discriminated against. The outstanding example was
that of Dalit leader Bhimrao Ambedkar who led his Mahar community to
embrace Buddhism because they were discriminated against by upper
caste Hindus. This is also true of over 90 per cent of Indian Muslims
whose ancestors being lower caste embraced Islam which gave them equal
status. That gives lie to the often-repeated slander that Islam made
converts by the sword.
An equally large number of people converted out of gratitude. They
were neglected, ignorant and poor. When strangers came to look after
them, opened schools and hospitals for them, taught them, healed them
and helped them to stand on their own feet to hold their heads high,
they felt grateful towards their benefactors. Most of them were
Christian missionaries who worked in remote villages and brought hope
to the lives of people who were deprived of hope.
To this day, Christian missionaries run the best schools, colleges and
hospitals in our country. They are inexpensive and free of corruption.
They get converts because of the sense of gratitude they generate. Can
this be called forcible conversion? Why don’t the great champions of
Hinduism look within their hearts and find out why so many are
disenchanted by their pretensions of piety? Let them first set their
own houses in order, purge the caste system out of Hindu society and
welcome with open arms all those who wish to join them. No one will
then convert from Hinduism to another religion.