Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Conversion

-The problem with religion is that most people end up discussing conversion. It is like a discussion on agriculture stopping at the monsoons. Conversion is a phenomenon that can be endlessly debated. But the truth is that conversion has been inevitable throughout history. Conversion of individuals or at the levels of the masses, have always brought change in this world.

Most reformers have either converted to a new faith or created waves of proselytism. Buddha was a Hindu Kshatriya, who influenced half the world, from Afghanistan to Japan. He was born a Hindu, but famously changed his mind. Similar are the stories of Mahaveera and Guru Nanak. Can we time travel and annul all such attempts? Will the world be any better then?

Anyone who has visited a church cant miss the letters INRI inscribed on The Cross. The Latin inscription expands as IESVS·NAZARENVS·REX·IVDÆORVM, and translates as ``Jesus of Nazareth, King of the Jews’’. So why are Christians talking about Jesus?

If the Fable of Abraham is to be believed, then Jesus Christ and Prophet Mohammad came from the same family. If the founders were right, what are the brothers fighting for now?

Hinduism, or what ever is meant by that term, has changed and evolved due to conversions. If Madhwacharya and Ramanujacharya had remained content with Shankaracharya who was born centuries earlier, we would never have had three fantastic ideologies today. Similarly, if Basavanna had tolerated a little inconvenience caused by a holy thread on his chest, there would be no avant -garde understanding of God and humanity. Why are people writing books on Basavanna being born in this community or that?

In Karnataka, a King who ruled parts of old Mysore moved in and out of religions. Finally, he built the beautiful temples of Belur and Halebidu to reaffirm his faith. Can you imagine Hassan without the ancient beauty?

Any one who has a doubt about conversion being an ugly phenomenon should visit Badami. Just behind the platform where Aishwarya and Abhishekh danced, is a four -storied temple. It has a Shaiva, Vaishnava and a Jain temple. The Buddhist shrine on the fourth floor has been destroyed. This is not because Badami was invaded by various kings at various times. It is because the rulers of Badami converted to different faiths over the centuries. Did that affect life in their kingdom? I don’t think so.

As the hungry wanderer said in an Urdu couplet: ``God resides everywhere; inside and outside, in places you know and you don’t know of, in times that you can imagine and you can’t. Looking for God is like looking in the mirror. You can neither believe yourself, nor the mirror’’.

1 comment:

Keshav Kulkarni said...

Rishi,

well written. Please do write frequently to share your thoughts.

- Keshav