KANCHEEPURAM: In what is understood to be a renewed political activism of the Kanchi Kamakoti Peetham, Sri Jayendra Saraswati has taken a serious view of what he termed forcible conversions of people in the war-torn Sri Lanka, and is staying in ‘close touch’ with the happenings in the island nation.
According to the pontiff, the aftermath of a war is always conducive to conversion, particularly to Christianity because the Biblical themes of persecution and exile instantly resonate with them. He is going to oppose “forcible conversions and proselytizing by force, allurement or by fraudulent means,” anywhere because it is against the grain of Hindu ethos.
In an exclusive interview, the pontiff said he was going to sensitize Hindus on Indian spirituality and to achieve that end he would organise a padayatra of madhathipathis and sadhus soon.
The 69th head of the mutt said it would be organised under the banner of a newly formed “Mana Matha Ottumai” society and three slogans — Manam Maraathey, Matham Maarathey, Panathukku Assaipadathey (don’t change your mind, don’t convert, and don’t fall prey to lucre) would be popularised.
He said when Sri Lanka was recently trying to enact an anti-conversion bill, he was elated, and then his spirit drooped when the imminent internal strife and subsequent election somehow postponed the legislation.
Recalling his inter-faith meet with Vatican’s head for interreligious dialogue, Cardinal Jean Louis Tauran, and Mumbai’s Cardinal Oswald Gracias several months ago, he questioned if the Roman Catholic Pope could give an assurance to Israel to the effect that “the Catholic Church would desist from all missionary and conversion activities among the Jews” why cannot they take a similar stand in India.
In response to a question, he said he could not fault the Centre, or for that matter the Reserve Bank of India through which funds are routed to frontline NGOs in India which, hand in glove with Christian missionaries, are involved in forceful conversions of the poor Hindus.
Asked what the people who fall prey to the allurement of conversion missed in Hinduism, he listed two reasons: untouchability and caste entitlement. “We do not practice untouchability but the people of other castes within the context of Hinduism do practice that for societal reasons,” the seer admitted.
Criticising that neo-Christians are deliberately following the Hindu traditions and rites, the seer said that in Andhra Pradesh, Christians are conducting festivals a la Hindu Urchavam with flag hoisting ceremonies.
He said he would like to describe India as a spiritual country rather than a secular country.