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Dr. Richard Benkin is an American scholar and geopolitical analyst, who met Robert Dold and Mohammad Ziauddin five years ago through a House Committee which talked about Ways and Means. Robert Dold was, formerly, a Congressman and Mohammad Ziauddin, Bangladesh’s then Ambassador to the United States. The Committee on Ways and Means focuses on international trades and agreements related to trade and tariffs. This meeting was held to discuss the torment and torture that is faced by the Hindu community. It was set by Robert Dold, who had been a part of the Congressional Committee, to discuss and advocate the need to focus on the lack of action from Bangladesh.
Also Read : Godless violence in Bangladesh
With more passage of time, the author realized the seriousness of the matter and that their concerns regarding the topic of discussion still existed. A little later, Dold questioned Ambassador Ziauddin, whether he's admitting that he has an issue(of persecution of Hindus)? When he agreed, Dold said that he would help in solving this problem. This should have been the start to a US- Bangladesh collaboration to support Bangladesh in reaching its aim of freedom and equality within all its religions which is the essence of its Constitution. Unfortunately, it never took place.
Sometime after that, Dr. Richard and one of the Congressman, Dold’s staff had met Ziauddin to begin with this collaborative effort. The Ambassador Ziauddin’s reply surprised them. He said after doing further study, he had gathered the information that Hindus lived openly and were not harassed or assaulted in Bangladesh. Whatever he had said earlier was his mistaken notion. Dr. Richard knew very well that “further study” meant that higher authorities from Dhaka had asked him to deny whatever he had said previously. The Americans had enough proof, compiled over decades that further stated that Hindus were, in fact, victim of violence and religious crimes in Bangladesh.
Governments of countries worldwide condemned the recent anti-Hindu violence in Bangladesh. Kiran Anklekar / Unsplash
The world has changed a lot since this interaction took place. Congressman Dold has now joined the corporate sector. New people are now working in the Bangladesh embassy in USA; Bangladesh and China have become closer; and the entire globe is going through a pandemic; among other things. One of the things that has changed is that no country in the world believes when the Bangladesh government blames certain group of people for the rising number of atrocities against Hindus.
Governments of countries worldwide condemned violence that happened with Hindus in the recent times that happened during Durga Puja (a Hindu festival) which was being celebrated in Bangladesh. Although the Bangladesh government is normally very strict, they failed to stop this violence. Everyone worldwide agrees that whoever had been the actual offender, it is the government’s duty to safeguard the interests of its minority communities. The same kind of rules are followed in the United States. When police officers (in US) had been abusing their powers and had killed African-Americans, stern actions were taken against them. The government also tried to deal with the situation that lead to the increase in such crimes.
Bangladesh’s move towards anti-democratic China. Unsplash
Senator Richard Durbin, a resident of Washington and a close associate of Dr. Richard, happens to wield a lot of power. The Senator recently wrote to Dr. Richard appreciating "the government’s response", which was to send forces to limit the atrocities. He also emphasized on the need for more active approach "against extremist organizations that foment these attacks". Because growth of such organizations strengthens terrorism against the Hindu community, other secular organizations, and the religious groups which are in minority. He emphasized on the actions that is necessary for the government to take, to uproot their effect and react to the crimes that they are committing towards the civilization.
Al Jazeera published an article which led to speculations that the recent actions of United States could be a sign of their attitude change regarding Bangladesh. In December 2021, Australia, India, United States and Japan had invited 111 other democratic nations, most of whom were Asian, to the Quadrilateral Security Dialogue. This Quad would help countries with trading and infrastructural development along with security. Bangladesh had not been invited. Experts from both Asia and the United States of America feel that this humiliation was probably deliberate. The Quad expressed concerns over Bangladesh’s move towards despotic China; the degrading quality of Bangladesh’s democratic nature, and the government’s lenient nature towards the atrocities committed against the Hindu community.
Readymade garment economies continue to prosper post-pandemic. Crew / Unsplash
Bangladesh’s biggest customer for readymade garments is the United States of America and China is their biggest rival. Currently the relations between United States and Bangladesh are at a juncture where the Bangladeshi government would be responsible for whichever way they choose to go. It will determine whether they will have a strong relation with the customers (of their readymade garments) or not. The course of action that the Bangladeshi Government takes will show whether they are remaining true to ideals which have given the birth of this country. If they keep on with their friendship with China and try to become more totalitarian, with continuing persecution of their minority inhabitants, then they would have to face consequences.
Senator Durbin had expressed his opinion and urged the Bangladesh government “ to safeguard the rights and security of Hindus and all religious communities in the country”. Dr. Richard Benkin offered to help, if the Bangladesh government finds it difficult to handle the situation. (TAA/SP)
Source: The Asian Age
(Keywords : Bangladesh, world, United States of America, India, Hindu, persecution, trade, future, minority, intolerance, government, China, democracy, terrorist, secular, pandemic, violence, abuse, discussion, evidence.)
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BY DEVIKANANDA JI
ॐ मातृदेवपुजितभूम्यै नमः
(Māta: Mother; Pūjita: One who is honored or worshipped)
Hinduism has given the highest place of honor to the mother. In fact, the very etymological derivation of the word mātā is- mānyate pūjyateyāsā, meaning- one who is honored or worshipped. The Ṫaiṫṫirīya Upanishad advises the outgoing student of the gurukulam (forest academy run by the ṟishis or sages) to look upon his mother as if she were God himself. She is placed above the father and the Vedic teacher. In fact, the status of motherhood has been raised to the highest level by depicting even God, as the Divine Mother, in later religious literature like the purāṇās and the ṫanṫrās. It is the bounden duty of the son to protect her and maintain her at all costs even if she were a sinner, reduced to the level of an outcast.
One of the smruṫis (Śankhalikhiṫa) gives an interesting piece of advice to a son that he should not take sides when his father and mother are quarrelling. If at all, he should side with his mother. The epics and the purāṇās are full of praise for mothers and of instances (like that of the Pānḍavās) where the sons have served their mother devotedly. They also warn that if a mother is deeply hurt and utters a curse, it can never be averted. There are several instances where the mothers inspired and shaped the character of their sons.
There are many movies and songs in India about motherhood and the love of a mother towards her children sacrificing herself for them. No matter how old her son or daughter might be, for a mother they are her children. She carries the baby for 9 months and goes through labor to bring the child into this world. A baby's first food is mother's milk which provides immunity to the child. She feeds the baby and quenches its hunger even if she has to starve. We see that not just in humans but in the animal kingdom also. No female backs off from protecting its babies from predators. Nobody can replace a mother and hence, our sacred texts describe the goddess Durga, the teacher's wife, the earth and the wife of an elder brother as mothers. For Hindus, the mother is honored and worshipped as a goddess and their children serve them in their old age.
Our nation, which honours and worships the mother, is 'Mātrudevapūjita Bhūmi'.
(Key Words: Mother, Child, Son, Daughter, Baby, Hindus, Hinduism, Epic)
By Maria Wirth
In 1999, the Pope declared in Mumbai that in the 21st century the cross will be planted in Asia. Strangely, there was not much objection in the media that the Pope expressed so openly his eagerness to convert Hindus. Not only the Pope but also the different evangelical sects want to convert Hindus in big numbers. And unfortunately, they are doing it successfully because they have lots of money. In the last 20 years, after the Pope made his statement, Christian missionaries have become increasingly visible, blatant and controversial.
As I grew up as a Christian, I would like to share my observations from a personal angle.
I noticed that most Hindus are very cautious when it comes to religion. They take care ‘not to offend the sensibilities’ of the followers of Christianity and Islam. Yet on the other hand, Christians and Muslims don’t hesitate to offend the sensibilities of Hindus, and even badly demean them.
Many Indians argue that, because those religions are in the minority, their followers need special consideration so that they don’t feel threatened by the Hindu majority.
It is true that those religions are in the minority in India, but worldwide, Christianity and Islam have the biggest number of followers. Both religions have also great financial and political clout to achieve their goal, which is to bring as many Hindus as possible into their fold. This clout is reflected even in the Indian media. Just observe how favorably mainstream media reports on minorities and how unfavorably on the majority. I can’t help feeling that there is a clever Public Relation strategy and maybe also bribe money involved. In contrast, Hindus don’t seem to have a PR strategy. ‘Truth will triumph’, is their motto, even if it takes ages…
Why no debates on religious matters?
Sometimes I hear the following argument from Hindus: “Only because missionaries despise Hinduism, Hinduism does not become bad.” This is of course true, but why not refute the obnoxious, false accusations that Hinduism is a primitive polytheistic religion and Hindus are sinful idol-worshippers?
Such accusations do not only completely misinterpret Hindu Dharma, but they are meant to help the Christian agenda to wean away Hindus from their faith.
Hindus should at least explain the basics of Sanatana or Hindu Dharma, and show how profound they are, if not pointing out the shortcomings of the dogmatic founder religions.
Pointing out the shortcomings of other religions seems to be taboo for Hindus. I wonder why. Debates on religious matters were common in ancient India and were of the highest order. Women also took part in those debates, which are recorded in the Upanishads.
Yet today there is hardly any discussion on religion or philosophy. One reason may be that a part of the intellectual class in India has been influenced by the British to such an extent that they adopted their ignorant view that Hinduism is primitive without ever reading any of the ancient texts. It is a small, but influential group that is ever ready to loudly defend the minority religions.
Christianity (and Islam) divides humanity into those who go to heaven and those who go to hell
Most Hindus are good natured and consider all religions as equal, as all believe in the same God, as there is of course only one creator. Moreover, all religions have good points. They all stress the need for a moral life. They all give suggestions how to connect with God in prayer.
Yes, it’s true, but two religions have a very negative point which nullifies the good points. This negative point is that they divide humanity into those who are right and go to heaven and those who are wrong and go to hell without any proof. Christianity is one of those religions (Islam is the other one). It declares that it is not only superior but it alone is true, and therefore everyone needs to join it to be saved. The Church claims that Jesus Christ himself commanded his disciples to go out and baptize all nations (Matthew 28.19). Therefore, they believe that they have the ‘divine duty’ to convert the whole world. And the Church goes about it with great zeal and dubious means. If Jesus Christ was indeed a historical person (some historians doubt it), he might be shocked to see what is happening in his name.This claim that Jesus is the only son of God cannot be verified.
This claim that Jesus is the only son of God cannot be verified. |Photo by Quino Al on Unsplash
What makes Christianity so special that it declares itself as alone true?
The main point is the status of Jesus Christ. The Church says that he is not only above normal humans but also above enlightened sages and avatars. He is the “only indigenous son of God”, whom God had sent to earth and who, through his death, has saved mankind from the original sin which Adam and Eve committed (their sin was that they ate an apple from the forbidden tree of knowledge in the Garden of Eden).
This claim that Jesus is the only son of God cannot be verified. It has to be believed. It is a dogma and dogma means, there is no proof. So why should one believe it? The reason is that bishops had decided in the Council of Nicea some 1700 years ago, that Jesus is the son of God, and Christians have to believe it.
Many Christians do believe it, because they hear it from childhood. I, for example, ‘knew’ already in primary school in a small town in Germany, that we, the Roman Catholics, are ‘right’ and chosen by God and all others, including our Protestant neighbors, who had fled from the Russians to our small town at the end of the II World War, were ‘wrong’. Those neighbors had a little girl of my age and we played together, but I would have not gone to her church. I ‘knew’ it was a sin…
In 1965, in the II. Vatican Council, the Catholics reconciled with the Protestants, and it was no longer a sin to pray together. But Hindus remain in the category which needs to be converted or else they go to hell…
How I got doubts
As a child, I believed whatever I was told, but in high school, I started questioning. I could not believe in a God any longer who sits in heaven, loves only Christians and sends all others to hell.
A brother of my mother was a priest and, in his library, I read about the history of the Church. It was an eye-opener – how decadent the popes were, how brutal and bloody the conversion of South America was, how dissenters were imprisoned, tortured and killed, how the bishops schemed for power and wealth… Together with religion, I was about to throw out God as well, as He seemed inextricably linked with it.
Then I read an article on modern physics. It said that the whole creation is one energy. It was for me a Eureka[m1] moment. “This means there is a God!” I felt: If God is really the Highest, It cannot love one group and hate others. It has to be the ground of everybody and everything.
Getting to know about the profound Vedic wisdom
When I came to India, I was amazed how profound her ancient wisdom was – a wisdom that makes no claims, which need to be blindly believed, and a wisdom which does not divide people into “us versus them”.
‘Brahman’ or ‘Tat’ of the Vedas is not a personal God that has likes and dislikes, but it is the invisible, conscious basis of all forms and names in this creation. This conscious basis is also in our own person and can be experienced, and this makes sense. “Question, reflect and experience” is recommended.
In contrast, Christianity demands blind belief and does NOT encourage questions, nor experience. It claims doubts are from the devil. A Church that branded its own mystics, who realized their oneness with God, as heretics, cannot teach anything to India. It can only divide.
Hindu Dharma is universal. Christianity is divisive
Missionaries try by hook or crook to get converts and target especially the poorer sections of society and even children. It seems as if they have a quota to achieve.
They claim that Christianity is the right faith and Hinduism is very wrong and they will land in hell if they don’t convert. This is highly divisive. Yet strangely, Christian missionaries are not called “divisive forces” but Hindus, who object to conversion, are called divisive. Why? It does not make sense. The Upanishads claim “Tat Tvam Asi” (You are THAT/ Brahman). “You” means everyone, not only Hindus. This philosophy is truly universal.
Christian theologians would need to study Indian wisdom with an open mind. They would realize that dogmas are a hindrance in the process to uncover Truth. Such openness would make religion spiritual. Mystics would be appreciated. No “us versus them”, no borders, no God, who belongs only to one group and who condemns the rest, just a genuine search for the One Essence beyond name and form…
Narrow-mindedness of clergy
Unfortunately, to expect broad-mindedness from Church representatives seems a long way off. As of now their course is set on confrontation. They are adamant that conversion is not only their right, but also their duty. Many Hindus still don’t get the mindset of missionaries.
For example, after my mother had passed away in Germany, I went to the priest to arrange the funeral. When he came to know that I live in India, he said,
“Oh, a friend of mine just went to India.”
“I hope not for conversion”, I replied.
His reaction, “Of course for conversion. It is our duty.”
Strangely, Hindus feel, religion must not be talked about and only a few question the ‘one and only way’ bogus. But is anything more important than to find the truth about God, us, and the world? So shouldn’t we talk about religion?
In the west, many leave the Church, in India many join
Indian converts generally join Christianity for reasons that have nothing to do with God or faith. Those converts may initially get material benefits but the price is very high. They have to despise the faith that they held dear and for which their ancestors have fought and made many sacrifices. They have to disown their devas as devils. They are coerced to put meat from the dead body of a cow into their stomach. They have to confess a belief in dogmas, which don’t make sense, like the claim that one has only one life and on the basis of this one life one will go either to heaven or hell for all eternity.
Yet slowly, they or at least their children, will become convinced that they alone have the right faith and that Hindus are inferior and damned by God. The brainwashing into the doctrine is much stronger in India than in Christian countries. While most people in the West, who are not employed by the Church, don’t believe any longer that Hindus go to hell, even an IIT graduate convert told me that he believes it and he had already convinced his parents to convert to save them from hell…
I once heard Bede Griffith, who had a Christian ashram near Trichy, giving a talk to nuns from Kerala and I was shocked how he threatened them with hell. After his talk I asked him, how he could frighten them so much. He said, “I have to strengthen their faith so that they know where the border to Hinduism is.”
Hinduism is truly universal
Hinduism has no border. It has place for everyone. If someone worships Jesus, no Hindu will object. But Hindus need to object to the baseless claim by Christian clergy that worshipping Krishna or Shiva is wrong and will land one in hell, because this is not true and also dangerous for Hindus, because it breeds hatred which can lead to hate crimes. Christian converts need to reflect on what they are taught. If they start reflecting, they surely will wonder if this can possibly be the truth.
Some hope because Indians are intelligent and can see through the agenda
When I recently took a taxi, there was a picture of Jesus. I asked the driver, if he converted. “Yes”, he said.
I told him, “You became Christian from Hindu and I became Hindu from Christian.”
He looked surprised. “Why?” he asked. I explained a bit and said that Hindu Dharma makes sense and Christianity requires blind belief in difficult to believe claims.
Before leaving I requested him not to look down on Hinduism and Hindus, even if missionaries tell him how bad they are. Hindus are not bad. They are good, better than many others, and Hindu Dharma is the best option for humanity.”
He smiled and said that he doesn’t believe everything what the padres say.
(Key Words: Christianity, Islam, CHristians, Hindus, Religion, Hinduism)
Even as the land for the Magh Mela township has shrunk due to the Ganga changing its course, there are more than 3,000 religious, social and spiritual organisations who have sought land to set up their respective camps at the 47-day long event. Officials said that the problem of soil erosion was still persisting forcing the Magh Mela authorities to make alternate arrangements. District Magistrate (Magh Mela) Shesh Mani Pandey said that the work of land allotment was underway in all five sectors.
"After facing the problem of soil erosion due to strong current of river water, mela authorities have made the alternate arrangements and camps of different organisations are being shifted to safer places," said Pandey.
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He, however, said all sorts of facilities would be given to pilgrims, devotees and visitors in the coming month-long event and all departments were also coordinating with each other and work of setting up 13 police stations and 36 police outposts was also in progress.
This time, Mela administration has decided to engage a joint team of mela officials and third party to verify the facilities being offered to seers, saints, pilgrims, and 'kalpvasis' staying in tents.
The officials claimed that this exercise will help Mela authorities to maintain transparency and ensure that devotees and pilgrims are able to get benefits in terms of facilities and services. The Magh Mela begins on January 1 and will conclude on March 1. (IANS/SP)
(Keywords : Magh Mela, Ganga Sagar, West Bengal, Ganges, township, land, religious, social, spiritual, organizations, erosion, soil, arrangements, river, pilgrims, devotees, visitors, event, police, administration, benefit, facilities.)
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