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By Maria Wirth
Dalit Christians had filed a complaint with the United Nations against the Vatican because of caste based discriminationUnsplash
Some time ago, a news item caught my attention: Dalit Christians had filed a complaint with the United Nations against the Vatican because of caste based discrimination of the Catholic Church in India. The complaint was filed with the UN Information Centre at New Delhi.
It made me feel that a suggestion I had made in an earlier article was maybe not so outlandish and actually worthwhile. I had suggested that Hindus, Buddhists and others could file a complaint with the UN against Christianity and Islam, because Christianity considers non-Christians as heathen and Islam non-Muslims as infidels, and both these religions claim that heathen and infidels are unworthy of the grace of the Supreme Power and will be thrown into hellfire where they will suffer excruciating pain for all eternity. "Idol-worshippers" – Hindus are labeled as such – are the worst of the lot in the eyes of those religions.
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In the Bible, Mathew (13: 49/50) states:
"This is how it will be at the end of the age. The angels will come and separate the wicked from the righteous and throw them into the blazing furnace, where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth."
The Quran gives a more detailed description of the torture that awaits infidels:
"But as for those who disbelieve, garments of fire will be cut out for them, boiling fluid will be poured down their heads. Whereby that which is in their bellies, and their skins too, will be melted; And for them are hooked rods of iron. Whenever, in their anguish, they would go forth from thence they are driven back therein and (it is said unto them): Taste the doom of burning" (Quran 22:19-22)
Hindus generally have no malice towards other faiths and don't expect others to have malice towards their own faith. They readily pay respect to Bible and Christianity or to Quran and Islam without knowing what they contain. Usually they don't even notice that their respect is not reciprocated.
However, there are also those who know the content, but prefer to ignore unacceptable passages. One reason may be that they of course don't take them seriously and can't imagine that anybody takes them seriously. Unfortunately, they underestimate the power of indoctrination, especially in childhood. It is not only the ISIS types who believe (and act on it). I know from own experience that children believe what they are told and many don't question this belief even as adults.
Also Read: Hindu nationalists and The Hindutva Ideology
Another reason may be that they don't want to draw attention to those divisive, discriminating passages in books that are considered holy by the majority of the world's population. They fear they could remind 'believers' of their duty to fight the "unbelievers" or rather the "wrong believers" as Hindus are great believers in the Supreme and certainly not unbelievers.
However, this attitude won't work today, as the content of Quran, Bible and other scriptures is readily available on the net. It is easy to access any verse of the Bible or Quran. ISIS spread their views on the internet. The radicalization among Muslim youth often happens via the net. A cleric in a German mosque who had banned radicalized youth and declared ISIS as un-Islamic was described as an "old, confused man", by a German Turk, who 'knew' that ISIS is following the Quran. How did he know? "I and my friends have read the Quran", he declared. His friends are fighting for ISIS.
I didn't make the suggestion to complain to the UN because I expect much action from the UN. I made the suggestion mainly, because in this way the issue would hopefully come into mainstream discourse. People, including Christians and Muslims, need to realize how absurd and divisive this claim of "eternal hell for unbelievers" is.
Every second child in the world is taught that Hindus (and others) are not equal in the eyes of the Supreme GodUnsplash
The gravity of the situation needs to sink in: every second child in the world is taught that Hindus (and others) are not equal in the eyes of the Supreme God, and the child is likely to believe it. In fact, the child is taught that the Supreme hates those others so much that they will burn for all eternity in hellfire if they don't mend their ways and join the believers on the right path. Sri Krishna, Sri Rama, Sita, the Rishis, Swami Vivekananda, Baba Ramdev, Sri Sri Ravishankar, Mata Amritanandamayi, Narendra Modi, Aishwarya Rai, Sachin Tendulkar… just name them, each and every Hindu who ever lived – none will find mercy with the Highest. They all are thrown into the 'blazing furnace'.
People need to become aware that prophesizing eternal hell was a strategy to frighten the own followers into submission and to justify using force to either convert or wipe out those who 'insult the Supreme Power and don't accept the only truth'. This claim of "hell for unbelievers" is about power and influence and has nothing to do with eternal truth or morality.
If a small, crazy sect would claim that all others will burn in hell, one would understand if nobody takes note of such nonsense. But it is not a small sect that makes this claim. This claim is contained in the doctrines of the two most powerful religious institutions on earth with almost four billion followers. Mercifully, many Christians especially in Europe don't believe it anymore, but it is part of the Christian dogma.
Is one allowed to call this claim nonsense – in the age of quantum physics where it is known that ultimately all is connected and nothing is separate?
Strangely, Hindus keep quiet. They may hope it goes away. It won't go away without those who are demeaned in this unacceptable manner putting their foot down. Why should those who benefit from this claim give it up as long as nobody objects?
The Church had once to give in to protests: it lost the power to punish heretics and even had to allow Christians to leave the Church. Ever since, the Church lost many of its flock and the west came out of the Dark Age, but the damage was done nevertheless: arrogance and a feeling of superiority was already ingrained in the people and nature had been divested of its sacredness and still is treated as a slave to be exploited.
The dogmatic religions uprooted people from their pagan societies and made them slowly but surely arrogant, self-righteous and convinced that they are meant to rule the world in the name of their god. Would colonialism in its brutal form have been possible without the mindset that Christians are superior to the native heathen? Would Muslim invasions have been so cruel without the mindset that Allah wants them to smite the necks of infidels till all worship is only for Allah?
Today's most pressing problem, Islamic terrorism, has its roots in the claim that infidels are rejected by Allah. ISIS, Boko Haram and others consider it their sacred duty to rid the earth of such scum.
Christianity stopped killing heathen but still does great harm in so called 'unreached areas' for example in India, where it deceives, threatens and lures people away from their tolerant, inclusive tradition into an arrogant, divisive mindset.
Some followers of Islam still kill. They are called Islamists instead of Muslims. But as long as the Quran contains verses that seem to be exhortations to kill infidels, and no official correction is made that these verses refer only to history, there is insincerity in the claim that they are not Muslims. On one hand we condemn those youth in the strongest terms and on the other, we revere the scripture which they claim to follow.
When Donald Trump declares that he won't allow Muslims into the USA if he becomes President, he may cater to a populist sentiment among Americans but this is no solution. A better strategy would be to make Muslims disown certain passages in the Quran. At the same time, Christians must be made to disown certain passages in the Bible. Blind belief that the Supreme has revealed the truth only to Jesus or only to Mohammed must be allowed to be questioned without putting one's life in danger.
Pope interacting with publicUnsplash
The Pope said recently in Africa "Christians and Muslims are brothers". It sounded more like "Let's live and let live". Yet when the Pope was in India, he didn't make such conciliatory statement. He said "we will plant the cross in Asia". Why? Did he think the "mild" Hindus won't object to their own demise? Or did he behave like a bully to put Hindus on the defensive?
If Christianity really had the better truth, it would be okay. But this is not the case. The supremacy that the Church claims has no basis except in blind belief. In the same way, the supremacy that Islam claims has also no basis except in blind belief. Both faiths can't challenge each other. A debate between Christianity and Islam would go like this:
Christianity: "We alone have the full truth"
Islam: "We alone have the full truth."
Christianity: "God has revealed the full truth through his son Jesus"
Islam: "Allah has revealed the final truth through Prophet Mohammed."
Christianity: "All have to worship God, the father, via his son."
Islam: "All have to worship Allah."
However, in one point both agree: "Heathen and infidels need to disappear from the earth."
In contrast, 'Hinduism seeks to propagate the collective wisdom and inspiration of centuries and has room for all forms of beliefs' (according to the Supreme Court). It offers a profound philosophy. It can bring to the table the wisdom of the ancient Rishis that has never been disproven. This wisdom points to the absolute truth, which dogmatic religions are ignorant of: Truth is not a belief based on thoughts. It is what we all truly are – thought free, blissful awareness.
One would expect that humanity in the 21st century has outgrown blasphemy laws. This is not the case. Not only is there no pressure on countries that have blasphemy laws to abandon them, but – unbelievable, but true – there are attempts by the Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) to bring the whole world under a blasphemy law.
Several nations, like Saudi Arabia and Pakistan, have petitioned the UN to make defamation of Islam a crime. And even President Obama and Hillary Clinton supported a resolution (Istanbul Process 16/18) to curb 'Islamophobia'. Efforts to go further and ban criticism of Islam are surely still on.
Nations that have a majority Hindu, Buddhist or Atheist population like India, China, Japan, Thailand, etc. could join and not only throw a spammer into these efforts but actively weaken their case by demanding a stop to unacceptable claims. Though "idol-worshipping Hindus" are seen as most despicable, Buddhists, Sikhs, Jains, Atheists also don't pass muster in the eyes of Christianity and Islam.
It is high that time Hindus woke up. Filing a petition with the UN might make even Christians and Muslims aware that these claims are truly unacceptable and that Hindus are not the scum of this earth and have a right to exist.
UNICEF also should be petitioned that brainwashing of children into hatred for others is made a crime. The video of a child in ISIS land cutting the throat of his teddy bear as practice is horrendous. A lot of noise needs to be made about those petitions. Christianity and Islam must not get away with discrediting Hindu Dharma. Let there be a public discourse on which worldview is closer to the truth, and which religion has a better philosophical basis.
Actually it is so obvious even at a first glance: the choice is between brotherhood of all without any preconditions and fighting each other till all become uniform 'believers'.
Let's choose brotherhood of all. And please also include animals…
Key Words: Christianity, Hinduism, Islam, The Pope, Dalit Community, United Nations
Be it Deepavali or Christmas, in southern cities, late at night, a savoury aroma wafts into the streets. This is usually from the hot oil in which rice flour is dipped into. Out come golden, crunchy snacks, and the whole neighbourhood knows about it.
Originating from the Tamil tradition, 'murukku' is a staple. Even if it is not a festive occasion, it is always welcome on the table. The word murukku comes from the Tamil word that means 'twisted'. It derives its name from the coils and twists it is shaped into while frying.
Rolling out coiled shapes from the dough Image credit: Wikimedia commons
The primary component of murukku is rice flour. Like most festive treats, rice is soaked for a certain number of hours depending on how crunchy or soft the murukku has to be. It is then ground with spices and mixed with butter to keep it soft. A clean, white cloth is used to absorb moisture and act as a piping bag. The shape of the murukku is formed by pressing hard and swiftly turning. This shape is placed on a ladle and fried.
Frying the murukku Image credit: Wikimedia Commons
The aroma involved in the process of making murukkus comes mostly from the mixing and the frying. It doesn't last very long. The crispy fried end product is placed in a dry container and either distributed to other households or eaten at every possible opportunity. Each household has a unique way of making murukku. Some of them use more spice, some use less; some add in cumin seeds, some add colour, sometimes, the shape varies, and the crunch is different. On festive evenings, the women of the house do the rounds around the neighbourhood exchanging wishes and snacks. Murukku is sure to be a part of the platter.
Keywords: Deepavali, Snacks, Murukku, Savoury, festive occasion.
Eating is often associated with the banana leaf in South India. The pleasant green leaf peeping out of steamers, wrapped under paper in a food parcel, or used as a substitute for a plate is always a welcome sight.
Ordinarily, banana leaves are used in regular meals, but today's city culture has promoted the use of utensils. To eat on a banana leaf, one must either go to a hotel or attend a feast. On festivals too, to eat out of the large green leaf is a luxury.
While aesthetic and in line with traditions, eating from the banana leaf comes with a lot of health benefits. The first step of washing down the leaf with water cleans any residual dirt and ensures a hygienic meal. The stiff fibrous layer of the leaf has a waterproof lining which is enriched with minerals that are good for the body. The banana leaf contains the same properties as green tea and having food rest for a couple of minutes on it absorbs all the nutrients.
A meal served on a banana leaf Image credit: wikimedia commons
Since it is a leaf, obviously, it is eco-friendly. The used leaf can be turned into compost and added to the soil to enrich other plants. Plates need not be washed; the leaf can simply be thrown away. These days, however, the nurture of the leaves is contaminated with chemicals. The soil is sprayed with fertiliser and the leaves grow with pesticides sprayed on them regularly. Eating food out of these leaves is not advisable unless one can absolutely ensure that it is organic.
The practice of eating on the banana leaf is healthier than eating off a plat because the leaf is shaped in such a way that it can hold only so much at a time, or it will tear. This allows for a balanced meal. In order to make sure that the food does not get completely mixed up, enough space is left between each dish, this also regulates the intake of food. Overall, the appeal of eating something from a part of nature itself makes anything taste good. A clean banana leaf after a meal is significant of a healthy eater.
Keywords: Banana Leaf, Festivals, Food, Tradition
Every Indian has eaten it at least once in their lifetime, and many times during festivals, weddings, or after a sumptuous meal. Payasam is the bedrock of Indian dessert cuisine and the lingering flavour of every single festival.
Made with milk and sugar, or jaggery in the south, payasam takes on a multitude of core ingredients. Some cultures prefer adding rice into the mix, some add vermicelli, still others use broken wheat. The milk is boiled with sugar and the core ingredient is added. Saffron, cardamom, or nutmeg is added to elicit a spicy balance to the sweetness. The mixture is stirred until all the ingredients together begin to emit an aromatic fragrance. It is garnished with nuts like almond and cashew.
Payasam made with nuts and jaggery Image credit: wikimedia commons
The payasam originates from a legend. Krishna disguised as a sage visits the king of Ambalappuzha who challenged him to a game of chess. The wager is set for grains of rice that will increase exponentially for each win. The sage wins all the games, and the kings debt grows enormous. The sage reveals his identity and tells the king to serve payasam to the people in the temple every day to repay his debt. This is how payasam became food served as prasad in temples.
On festivals like Deepavali, the fragrance of payasam comes from the kitchen in the early hours of the morning, as the women prepare food to offer the gods. The entire family comes together for this dessert, and its creamy taste sweetens the atmosphere throughout the day.
Keywords: Payasam, Legend, Deepavali, Festival, Dessert