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Maria Wirth’s take on Hinduism: Are Christian and Muslim nations okay and Hindu nations not?

Wirth finds Hindus to be the exemplary role model for ‘how not to exclude others’. Religious minorities have flourished and grown in India, the relative harmony in this amazing diversity in India is what grabs admiration abroad.

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Hinduism incorporates oneness with the divine
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April 23, 2017: “Are the Indian mainstream journalists influenced by the foreign correspondents or does it happen the other way around?” Maria Wirth, a Hindu activist raised the question on her BLOG further asking if there is any directive from the top media houses about whom to protect and whom to abuse.

“Obviously, Hindus can be abused”, Wirth says. Recently on the appointment of Yogi Adityanath as chief minister in Uttar Pradesh or like in the run-up to the general elections in 2014, when a Modi victory loomed largely, the media went berserk.

The gist was, according to Wirth, “By appointing Yogi Adityanath, Prime Minister Modi has finally shown his true face of a Hindu fundamentalist who wants to make India a ‘Hindu nation’ where minorities have no place. The Swiss NZZ came to the conclusion that it is hardly possible for Prime Minister Modi’s government to call itself the representative of all Indians after the appointment of a figure like Yogi Adityanath.”

Why is it that the wrongly called ‘liberal’ media projects a Hindu nation as the worst possible scenario? Yet, the same media fails to react when America or most other western countries are referred to as Christian nations or get agitated about the numerous Muslim nations; not even about those which still choose to continue with their harsh blasphemy laws. The central question that Wirth comes back to is why are these considered ok, and a Hindu nation is not? They don’t come up with suitable explanations; they just instantly assume that will tolerate numerous hardships in a ‘Hindu’ nation.

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According to Maria Wirth, “Maybe they came to this conclusion because minorities like Jews or Hindus suffer in certain Christian or Muslim nations though the media hardly pulls those countries up for it. However, even otherwise, this conclusion is wrong, as Hindus have a different mindset. They are open towards other views, unlike ‘good’ Christians and Muslims who feel obligated to make everyone believe what they believe, if necessary by deceit or force.”

Just like there are too many different ways to reach the goal of life, there are many minorities within Hinduism. Wirth explains how they all are based on the Vedic insight that everything, including our persons, is permeated by the same divine essence which is called by many names but is ultimately one. Our human consciousness (Atman) is one with the cosmic consciousness (Brahman) the goal and fulfilment of life lie in the realisation of this. “Satyam vada, Dharmam Chara” the Veda exhorts to speak the truth and do what is right under any given circumstances. Look for the real you which is not a separate entity but in the depths of your being one with all.

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Wirth also asserts that “From this follows that ‘good’ Hindus are those rare human beings whose dharma makes them regard all others as brothers and sisters. Their dharma makes them further respect nature and not harm unnecessarily any living being.”

Wirth points out that unlike a few other religions, Hindus do not divide humanity into those chosen by God and those who are eternally forsaken. Hindu children are not taught to look down on those who don’t share their religion, unlike children of certain dogmatic religions who are taught that their God does not have affection for others unless they join their ‘true’ religions. Also, Hindus are comparatively kinder to animals. The great bulk of vegetarians worldwide is Hindus.

Hindus never had to fight crusades or jihads to establish their dharma in foreign lands. Yet, for the past thousand years, Hindus were at the receiving end of jihads and conversion campaigns and millions of Hindus were killed in cold blood just for being Hindus. They held on to their tradition and did not succumb to the pressure and even violence brought on them to adopt blind belief that the full truth has been revealed by only one particular person. Instead, they continued trusting their sages who never asked for blind belief but asked to verify their insights through experience.

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Again coming back to the central question, Wirth asks again, why do media worldwide get so obsessed about ‘Hindu fundamentalists’ and a possibility of a ‘Hindu nation’. There is nothing wrong with the fundamentals, but there is one major difference: For Hindus, the Divinity can be found in all and all can be found in the Divinity, whereas for Christians and Muslims the Divinity is separate from his creation watching over us from somewhere.

The concept of Divinity is also different. The best description for the absolute truth for Hindus is sat-chit-ananda (it is true, aware and blissful). The belief in the existence of many personal gods helps the devotee to realise the Absolute in his own way. According to Wirth, the perception of divinity in Christians and Muslims in its highest form as a personal, superhuman entity who is ‘jealous of other gods’. She also mentions the first commandment in Christianity and a very important issue in Islam with the claim that nobody must worship other gods except the ‘one true god’, which both religions believe is only with them.

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When the first translations of Vedic texts appeared in the west, the Indian school of thought impressed greatest minds in Europe enormously. It did spread among scientists too and was used to push the frontiers of science further. Modern science discovering that all is one energy after Vedanta became known in the west is hardly just a coincidence as well as the Church losing much of its power in Europe when some of India’s wisdom filtered down to the masses.

Why then are the media worldwide so worked up about a nation where the Hindu roots are fostered?

Where Sanskrit is taught, the most perfect, dignified, powerful language on earth and which is useful even for NASA, where yoga is practised in schools which is an ideal means for all-round development and wellness and which, on a deeper level, helps to find fulfilment in life. Where Vedic philosophy is studied and imbibed which inspired the new scientific discoveries, for example in the field of nuclear physics. Where the amazing wisdom of Mahabharata and Ramayana is the common knowledge which is taught in business seminars abroad and where children are taught to chant “Loka Samastha Sukhino Bhavantu” (let all be happy).

Yet as soon as Hindus make suggestions for India to keep or rather gain back its Hindu character, there is an outcry by the media that “Hindu fundamentalists” intend to establish a ‘Hindu’ India and exclude religious minorities. Wirth asks, why would Indians who rather recently converted to Islam or Christianity not be proud of the achievements of their ancestors? India was the cradle of civilisation, a knowledge hub and the richest country on earth, known for its wisdom. Hopefully, the religious nazis will not have any objection that students are taught this factor the fact that the Rishis of the Rig-Veda (10.22.14) knew many thousand years before Copernicus that the earth goes around the sun. Surely or that students chant “May all be happy” in Sanskrit, the language of their forefathers.

Why does the media shout at someone who wants to revive their ancient culture instead of someone who objects to this teaching? To quote Maria Wirth, “Is not he the one who tries to divide society and not those who say “Vasudhaiva kutumbakam” (all is one family) due to their philosophical outlook?”

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Wirth finds Hindus to be the exemplary role model for ‘how not to exclude others’. Religious minorities have flourished and grown in India, the relative harmony in this amazing diversity in India is what grabs admiration abroad. It’s not just Indian food; Media persons need only to look around in the world to realise this there’s much more.

Why is it then that Hindus of all people are accused of excluding others?

According to Wirth, the reason probably is that neither the west nor Muslim countries would like to see a stronger India. They may fear that with the influence on her ancient culture, India may rise again to the top. Wirth asks, “Is it the media’s job to put Hindus perpetually on the defensive by spreading this bogey of Hindu fundamentalism and prevent a better education policy which would give India an edge?”

The infuriated media shout, “Imagine, India would become a Hindu nation!”
Why is it that they don’t have the intention to imagine it or ask basic questions? Maybe, if they could only imagine what a Hindu nation looks like, they might start propagating Hindu nations all over the globe for harmony and peace in the world.

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Wirth concludes by saying that, one day, when people have become tired of blindly trusting strange things, and when nobody is threatened any longer with dire consequences if he stops believing in those strange things, the world may be grateful to Bharat Mata that those eternal, precious insights have been conceived and preserved by her over millennia for the benefit of humanity.

– prepared by Durba Mandal of NewsGram. Twitter: @dubumerang

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Respected Holy Father: You need to walk the talk and stop Conversion, says Maria Wirth

Holy Father, if you are serious about respecting other religions, the claim of exclusiveness must be scrapped and Hindus who have given to the world a deep philosophy and a great culture, must be respected

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Pope and Conversions of Hindus
Pope visits to Asia are often seen with suspicion of boosting religious conversions. Pope Francis greets believers as he arrives for a mass in Dhaka, Bangladesh, Dec. 1, 2017.

This was in December of 2013. Prominent spiritual activist Maria Wirth- who has made India her home- wrote this open letter to Pope. Maria says that on her recent visit to South India, she came across an increasing number of Churches and decided to bring this to the attention of Pope and appeal to him to stop conversion as Hindus do not need it.

Here is the letter. 

Respected Holy Father,

Great hope for a positive change in the Catholic Church is pinned on your Pontificate and recent statements indicate that this hope may not be misplaced. The future, your Holiness said in November 2013, is in the “respectful coexistence of diversity and in the fundamental right to religious freedom in all its dimensions, and not in muting the different voices of religion”.

This statement makes eminent sense and would need to be implemented by all who presently do not subscribe to a respectful coexistence of diversity in regard to religions. However, I sense (wrongly maybe) that it is a plea for other religions to respect Christianity, rather than a commitment by the Church to respect other religions. To be precise, since Christians are occasionally persecuted in Islamic countries, it seems to be an appeal to ‘live and let live’ between the two biggest religions on earth.

Your Holiness is aware that both, Christianity and Islam, claim to be the only true religion and their God, respectively Allah alone is true. Both religions further hold that all people on earth have to accept this claim and join their particular religion to be saved and reach heaven or paradise. Both give a serious warning to those who don’t join: they will land up eternally in hell. These claims of exclusiveness are made without any evidence whatsoever, apart from the fact that the claims contradict each other, as both cannot be true. They require blind belief, and as blind, unreasonable belief is not natural for human beings, for many centuries it was enforced with state power and indoctrinated right from childhood with the fear of hell as the boogeyman.

May I ask Your Holiness to ponder how the respectful coexistence of diversity and the fundamental right to religious freedom is possible as long as these claims of exclusiveness are in place? Were these claims originally made to gain political power or were they made in the interest of the spiritual welfare of humanity? And may I also ask whether Your Holiness personally believes in these claims?

I trust that privately, Your Holiness does not believe in them, as media reported your statement that good atheists also will be redeemed. In other words, they won’t go automatically to hell. However, the Vatican took pains to clarify that Your Holiness did not mean it. Even my mother, 95 and a staunch Catholic all her life, expressed dismay that a perfectly sensible statement by the Pope was watered down.

Your Holiness may feel compelled for worldly reasons to stick to the claim of exclusiveness as dropping it would entail wrapping up all conversion attempts and in the process lose power, wealth and influence. Further there may be fear that other Christian denominations will not go along and will gain an advantage over the Catholic Church. Still another worry may be that Islam will not drop the claim of exclusiveness and will push aggressively for conversion.

However, the Catholic Church was the first institution to put up this baseless claim, which has brought unspeakable disaster upon humankind. From this claim the Church derived not only the ‘right’, but the ‘duty’ to storm across the globe and impose forcefully her ‘belief system’ – in Europe, in the Americas and in Africa and now in Asia. It was no doubt an ingenious ploy to claim that God wants everyone to become Christian. . Mark Twain famously said, “Religion was born when the first con-man met the first fool”. I would change it, “Dogmatic religion was born when ….”.

Some centuries later, Islam followed suit, claiming that Allah wants everyone to accept Islam, and we all know the violent conflicts resulting from those unsubstantiated claims. Since the Catholic Church started this disastrous trend, she needs to reverse it. The welfare of humanity as a whole has to be the concern and not the welfare of a religious institution. Hopefully Your Holiness has the courage to make a real, clear change for the better and will not fall for hairsplitting theological arguments, like ‘redemption is possible but not salvation’, etc.

Most Christians especially in Europe don’t believe anymore in unreasonable claims. The sad thing is that together with the dogmas, many reject belief in God altogether. They have not learnt to listen to their conscience and to enquire into truth, as the Church has played the role of the conscience- and truth-keeper for too long. The consequences for our societies are there for everyone to see.

However, many Christians do start pondering and believe in a ‘great power’, but not in the Christian God. For example, when I asked some fifty Christians in Germany whether they believe that Hindus who heard about Jesus Christ, but do not convert, will go to hell, nobody said yes. Even a priest said no. And not a single German I met was in favour of missionary activity in India. Yet Pope John Paul II declared in India the intention of the Church to plant the cross in Asia in the new millennium and considered India as a field for a rich harvest, which goes completely against ‘respectful coexistence’.

I live in India since 33 years and can assert with full confidence that India has no need of Christian missionaries, and yet huge sums of money are being pumped in to lure converts with material benefits and to build churches. I am aware that Your Holiness is responsible only for Catholics and not for the myriad of other Christian denominations that prey on poor Hindus, but if the Catholic Church made a start of truly respecting Hindus, it would have a big impact.

Maybe Your Holiness is under the impression that Hinduism is a depraved religion and Hindus would do well to accept the Christian God instead of their multiple gods. Such an impression would be completely wrong. There is no other religion that is –unjustly – denigrated as badly as Hinduism. Sorry to say that Christian (including Catholic) missionaries are in the forefront of this vilification campaign. Few people in the west know how profound India’s ancient tradition is. A solid philosophical basis for our existence and helpful tenets for a fulfilling, meaningful life had been known in India long before ‘religions’, as we know them today, came into being. The only addition Christianity brought in anew, are unverifiable dogmas that cannot possibly have a bearing on the absolute Truth. Can an event in history impact the absolute Truth? Will Truth make a distinction between people who are baptized and those who are not? “There is no salvation outside the Church” is, and I may be excused for using strong language, ridiculous.

The Indian rishis had discovered ages ago that an all-pervading Presence is at the core of this universe, indescribable, but best described as absolute consciousness. Further, the Hindu law of karma preceded the Christian dictum “as you sow so you reap’. A Council stopped Christians from believing in rebirth which would explain many riddles that trouble them, for example why there is great injustice already at birth? The advantage of having a perfect person as a friend and guide on the spiritual path was known in India, but till some 2000 years ago nobody claimed that ‘only’ Krishna or ‘only’ Ram or ‘only’ Buddha can lead to salvation and that whoever does not believe it, goes to hell. “Truth is One, the wise call it by many names”, the Indian rishis declared and listed different names of gods. That was at a time, when Christianity was nowhere in sight. Surely they would have included ‘God’ as another name and Jesus as an avatar, not expecting to be backstabbed by followers of “God” declaring: “Truth is one and must be called only by one name and is fully revealed only in one book.”

Hinduism incorporates oneness with the divine, says Maria Wirth
Maria Wirth. Twitter

The multiple gods in Hinduism are personified powers that help to access the formless, nameless Presence that is in all of us. Christians in India are told that Hindu gods are devils. At the same time, Christianity tries to revive (possibly inspired by Hinduism) belief in angels, as devotion for the Invisible is easier by focusing on images.

Hinduism is not a belief system. It is a knowledge system. It is a genuine enquiry into what is true about us and the world. Hindus are not required to believe anything that does not make sense and can never be verified. There is complete freedom. Yes, most believe in rebirth, which makes sense. Most believe in an all pervading Brahman (many other names are in use) that is also in humans. Most believe that this divine essence can be experienced in oneself, if the person purifies herself by certain disciplines coupled with devotion. This belief is verifiable. It is not blind. There were many Rishis who realized their oneness with Brahman. In Christianity, too, there were mystics who experienced oneness with the Divine like Meister Eckhart did. Sadly, he was excommunicated by the Church. Why is the Church resisting scientific insight that there is some mystery essence in everything? And why is it difficult to accept that in the long, long history of humanity, there were several, not only one, outstanding personalities who showed the way to the truth?

Holy Father, I request you in all sincerity to be such an outstanding personality who guides his followers on a path of expansion, and does not straight-jacket them into an unbelievable belief system, which among others demands converting Hindus to Christianity. Your Holiness is venerated as the representative of the Highest Power in this universe by over a billion of Catholics. Many of your predecessors were not worthy of this veneration. Utmost truthfulness and integrity are required. Calculations about worldly power must not come in the way. The Catholic Church surely would benefit, not lose out, if it honors Truth and gives up its claim that there is no salvation outside the Church. Truth cannot be cheated; neither can it be contained in a book. Truth is what we basically are. Hindus, whose religion is universal and all-encompassing, respect diverse traditions. They are one of the most cultured, gentle and peace-loving people on earth who live and let live, unless greatly provoked.

Holy Father, if you are serious about respecting other religions, the claim of exclusiveness must be scrapped and Hindus who have given to the world a deep philosophy and a great culture, must be respected. Many of us look forward to hearing truly good news from the Catholic Church under your stewardship. The main issue that plagues the Church is not whether women should be priests or whether divorcees can take Holy Communion .The main issue is the unfounded claim of exclusiveness regarding ‘salvation’. It divides humanity into us who are right and saved, versus them who are wrong and damned. Kindly drop this harmful claim and make your Pontificate truly memorable and beneficial for all humanity.

Yours Sincerely

Maria Wirth

Posted as registered letter to Pope Francis on 10th  December 2013 from Puducherry, India.

The open letter was posted at Maria Wirth’s blog.