Bible-toting bandits in Trinidad
It was reported in the Trinidad Newsday (10-02-17) that three men in the garb of Christian missionaries with Bibles in their hands entered the home of a Chaguanas housewife and robbed her of more than $26,000 worth of cash, jewellery and other valuables. What is most noteworthy is that the act took place in broad daylight with neighbours not aware of any untoward commotion. Such was the style and panache of those Bible-toting bandits!
This heinous crime does not surprise many as it is consistent with the history of the Bible which has always been an instrument of aggression to deceive, manipulate and enslave. The colonial powers, through their missionaries, have always used the Holy Bible fraudulently to justify and legitimize their misdeeds.
This justification is summarised by British writer Rudyard Kipling’s description of the colonisation of native populations by European powers as the ‘white man’s burden.’ Paradoxically, the colonisers saw otherwise and devise plans, programmes and policies to undermine colonial societies. This was best exemplified by Lord Macaulay (1800-1859) in an address to the British Parliament on 2nd February, 1835:
Lord Thomas Babington Macaulay (1800-1859)“I have travelled the length and breadth of India and I have not seen one person who is a beggar, who is a thief such wealth I have seen in this country, such high moral values, people of such calibre, that I don’t think we would ever conquer this county, unless we break the very backbone of this nation, which is her spiritual and cultural heritage and therefore, I propose that we replace her old and ancient education system, her culture, for if the Indians think that all that is foreign and English is good and greater than their own, their will lose their self-esteem, their native culture and they will become what we want them, truly dominated nation.”
When Columbus landed in the Americas, his first act was to plant a cross, claiming the land for Christendom. Immediately following that seemingly spiritual act he went into a reckless and frenzy search for gold. This greed of the Spaniards led to the enslavement and genocide of the indigenous people. In less than twenty years the indigenous people disappeared from the Caribbean islands. Religiously, the Christian missionaries were always present to bless the conquistadores and share in their loot.
Christopher Columbus (1501-1506) made four voyages to the Americas. He is credited for the discovery of the Americas by the Europeans but also initiated the genocide of the native populations.
Desmond Tutu, Archbishop of South Africa, said: “When the missionaries came to Africa they had the Bible and we had the land. We closed our eyes to pray and when we opened them we had the Bible and they had the land.”
The missionaries have always been an integral part of colonisation and beneficiaries of the spoils of loot. The loot and plunder of third world countries have not been acknowledged despite the call by indigenous people across the globe for an apology from the colonial powers and the Church. Shashi Tharoor, an Indian scholar and Member of Parliament, is appealing to the conscience of British society for an apology and a symbolic compensation of one pound for its colonisation and exploitation of India. Thus, it was heartening when Pope Francis visited Bolivia in 2015 and in the presence of its President, Evo Morales, apologised to the people for the wrongs committed against the indigenous people by the Church.
The indigenous people of Mexico have also demanded an apology from the Church. But more telling are the recent demonstrations across Australia by aborigines appealing to the government to remove January 26 as Australia Day. The Prime Minister of Australia argued against any change of the date and retorted that the day embraces all ethnic groups.
This stance by the Australian Prime Minister is a reflection of the arrogance of the colonisers. White Australia has to accept the reality that the land on which they live does not belong to them but was stolen from the indigenous people after mass genocide was committed against them. Now that the descendants of the aborigines are claiming their rights, it would have been only fitting for the Australian Prime Minister to show some remorse for the historical wrongs of his people. Instead, he has opted to display arrogance.
Hindus have been warned about “men dressed in white” portraying a godlike image. The story is told in the Ramayana of Ravana who took the form of a holy man and lured Sita away. This ravanic behaviour was displayed by the Bible-toting bandits. In fact, the weekly invasion of villages by Christian missionaries peddling its brand of spirituality is no different from the action of Ravan. However descent and spiritual some may wish to appear, the Ravans have one objective - to destroy your heritage and enslave you.
What is worse is that the individuals who are peddling this North American imperialistic ideology are themselves victims of this ravanic culture. It appears that they don’t understand how the virus of invasion can infect and ultimately destroy their identities, thus making then soulless pawns in a global game. No longer are shapers of their destinies as their faculties of reasoning and discrimination are destroyed, they now dance to the rhythm of their imperial masters, hating everything that is indigenous and embracing all that are foreign.
Julius Nyerere lamented the demise of African culture by the European. He identified the many African dances-nyang, kiduo, umum, mama, mangala-that were destroyed and replaced by rumba, chacha, rock and roll, foxtrot and the waltz, all European dance forms.
As Hindu we have a moral and spiritual duty to fight against falsehood. We need to organize and train a cadre of Hindu missionaries to go out to the villages to work with the youth to save them from destruction. Hindus have no future toting Bibles under their arms.
Mahatma Gandhi said to Christians: “I like your Christ; I do not like your Christians. Your Christians are so unlike your Christ.” When asked why he did not embrace Christianity, Gandhi said it offered nothing he could not get from his own religion, observing, “…to be a good Hindu also meant that I would be a good Christian. There is no need for me to join your creed to be a believer in the beauty of the teachings of Jesus or try to follow His example.
While western ideologies such as imperialism, communism, fascism and other isms were raging the world, Gandhi held up Ram Raj-the reign of Raja Ram- as his utopia, thus refusing to be a pawn in the imperialistic machination of foreign powers. His press conference was his daily prayer meeting where he read from the scriptures from the three major religions-Hinduism, Islam and Christianity.. His regular fasts were political weapons that he used to rally the support of the people and put pressure on the British.
Gandhi was uncompromising in his Hindu identity. When a son of Gandhi converted to Islam, Gandhi rejected him. He understood the negative impact of conversion. His son felt humiliated and returned to the Hindu fold after purification rites were performed by members of the Arya Samaj sect. Gandhi’s advice for all Hindus is captured in his words: “I shall open my windows to all the winds of the world, but I shall not allow myself to be blown of my feet.”
Mahatma Gandhi understood the evil of conversion. He is a model of Hindu resistance to aggression. The words of Mahatma Gandhi must be heeded by all Hindus. He had respect for humanity but never compromised on his religious and cultural identity.