Saga of Mother Teresa: A smitten world and a sceptical India (Opinion)
New Delhi : Ever since Mother Teresa was declared a saint by Pope Francis in Vatican on Sunday, my social media timeline was flooded with versions of the ‘good news’. What is new in that? You ask! True it happens with every major news, but the difference this time was that 'the flooders' here were only either media houses or European friends.
Indian netizens, often keen to compete on any bit of news on social media, reacted scarcely and pretty late. The reason, I guess, is that even after 19 years of her demise India is yet to be convinced of Mother's miracles.
I am sure a large section of society respects her for the great service she provided to poor and sick, but those who accuse her of partial motives are not rare either. This morning, I woke up with a senior journalist reigniting the conversation about Mother Teresa's 'hidden agenda' behind her kindness - conversion to Christianity.
She, as is often said, was allegedly no holy figure as her actions, however kind, were tainted with intentions to bait and convert poor and helpless Hindu people into Christian Catholics.
My argument here is so what? So what she was trying to attract people towards Christianity?
Are we as a Hindu majority country so threatened by kindness of other religions that we cannot even acknowledge it? Or our society is not strong enough to allow people to choose their faith, religion or gods?
Swami Vivekananda had once said that Hinduism is a universal religion, that is, not only it acknowledges the existence of every faith but also respects their ways of living (Chicago, 1863).
Such is the charm of universal nature of Hinduism that even devout Muslim ruler Akbar started a sect called Din-e-Elahi to respect and honour diversity in India.
When talking about Mughal rulers we often go to Aurangzeb and his atrocities on Hindus, the way I see it, he was also partially victim of India's unforgiving history writers.
Aurangzeb, just like Mother Teresa, was a devout follower of his religion and all he did try and show more people path to his true god. The difference is he chose a brutal way and Saint Teresa chose the gentle one. Both were ultimately following the dictate of their chosen religion - spread the message and bring more people to their faith.
Interestingly, Hinduism has no such provision drafted in its scripts. I think, the reason is that it started as a way of life when there was no competition whatsoever. There was Hinduism and that was that. There was no need to spread the message.
Despite being exposed to innumerable options for at least a thousand years, Hindus have largely stuck to Hinduism. Then why do we feel so threatened?
We have prided ourselves in being the most tolerant and accepting nation since forever. The voice may have been a little lost these days but it is still there hidden somewhere in our hearts - a voice that tells us to rejoice in everyone's happiness, a voice that makes us celebrate every festival, a voice that makes us believe in humanity.
Excerpts from Swami Vivekananda’s speech at ‘The World Parliament of Religions’, Chicago (September 11, 1863)
I am proud to belong to a religion which has taught the world both tolerance and universal acceptance.
We believe not only in universal toleration, but we accept all religions as true. I am proud to belong to a nation which has sheltered the persecuted and the refugees of all religions and all nations of the earth.
I am proud to tell you that we have gathered in our bosom the purest remnant of the Israelites, who came to Southern India and took refuge with us in the very year in which their holy temple was shattered to pieces by Roman tyranny. I am proud to belong to the religion which has sheltered and is still fostering the remnant of the grand Zoroastrian nation.
I will quote to you, brethren, a few lines from a hymn which I remember to have repeated from my earliest boyhood, which is every day repeated by millions of human beings:
"As the different streams having their sources in different paths which men take through different tendencies, various though they appear, crooked or straight, all lead to Thee."
(Written by Arshi Aggarwal)
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