Faith in Kasi

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This blog has always been about my city and my people (sometimes, my self). Breaking that tradition in a way, this post originated in response to another post on my city. I generally read every wordpress post about my city, and I reached that particular post a couple of days ago. It was a well written post and interesting too. It had some first rate observations on the filth and other problems of my city and had some sound advice for people who intended to go there. I agreed with it all. No, I don’t think that I have any rights to give the link of that post here. Although I fully intend to post a link to this post in the comment section there. Why? Because I am now going to argue against some points made in that post, and put forth some of my own. I think such an argument should remain personal: between the two of us. Before we go any further, I must share how our interaction went on in the comment section of that blog post:

Me:

[I did not “Like” the post because I had to inform you personally, how correct your assessment of the filth in Varanasi is. I totally agree with you about the polluted river too. I am not a practising Hindu. So, I offer this comment very objectively when I say that religious discrimination has gone hand in hand with its racial elder brother (or the younger one?) and you seem to be infected with it.
I pray to Christ that you do see the true light.
Amen.]

The reply:

[Thanks for your comments. I always welcome different points of view. I would ask you to consider this before labeling me as one who is “infected” with religious discrimination. Simply holding to a different faith from someone else does make me discriminatory. I’m a Christian, and I believe in a salvation that comes only through faith in Jesus Christ. “I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.” -John 14:6 from the Holy Bible. Anyone is welcome to disagree, but disagreement does not equal discrimination.

How I treat people would be a much better indication of whether or not I am discriminatory. I try to respect all religions, though I disagree with many of them. I try to treat people with respect and kindness. I try to treat them as I would like to be treated. I hope that does not sound discriminatory.]

Me:

[Thanks for approving my comment and letting it appear on your post. That’s candid and brave. I don’t know you. So, whatever I typed about you was based only on what you posted in your blog. How would I know that you treat people sans discrimination until you mention it explicitly? Your identity in the material world and the one in the virtual world are definitely different, as you proved by not discriminating in practice but doing so through your blog post.
It’s 100% true that simply holding to a different faith from someone else does make you discriminatory. I called your treatment of religions and the peoples who believe in them discriminatory, and you do it because of your faith. I won’t go into the realm of comparative analysis of religions. There are experts who’ve done it much better than I can. It’s available on the net too.]

The reply:

[Being called discriminatory is a first for me so I’m curious . . . what specific statements do you consider discriminatory? I would also ask you to perhaps read more posts on my blog. You’ll get a much better sense of who I am in the “material world” which will hopefully allow you to make a more educated assessment as to my beliefs and character.]

Now, as it’s my turn, here’s my reply:

I read on that post: “Buddhism … is a very complicated religion and makes me all the more glad we worship Christ Jesus, the one true God whose requirements are simple: love Christ and love your neighbour” (I’ve made two phrases bold here).

Of course, there are complications involved in any attempt to make space for and understanding any system other than the one someone is accustomed to.  Buddhism is one of the simplest religions possible. Its very origin lies in Buddha’s bringing spirituality and nirvana in the reach of even an uneducated common man of his times. Its phenomenal appeal to the masses confirms its efficacy and digestibility. Still, to each his own. Moreover, what my blogger friend calls simple is one of the most difficult and complicated actions to perform: to love God and one’s neighbour. Thus Christianity demands for the impossible, or at least, the complicated. If we apply the logic behind the comment on Buddhism, Christianity too can be seen as complicated, hence unacceptable to many who find it difficult to understand or follow. But we know that this logic is highly fallacious. Any claim of the superiority of one religion over another, implicit or explicit, made on the basis of a fallacious logic is invalid. It’s meaningless too.

The same post maintains: “The spiritual darkness and deception these tens of thousands of people present live in, not to mention the hundreds of millions of other Hindus around the world, is mind blowing”. That statement makes an absolute claim without supporting it with any kind of logic. The post continues with the prospect of “freedom on earth and a true eternal salvation… only from Christ” for the believers. The non believers, as the faith of the blogger decrees implicitly, shall all go to hell.

The gem of a post ends with the words of wisdom: “Experiencing Varanasi has made me realize how important it is to support the work of Christians in India”. The attitude behind the post reeks of religious discrimination that has a logic similar to that of racial discrimination working behind it. It’s subtler than Kipling’s poem that I paste below, but the idea is similar, with religion substituting race.

Modern History Sourcebook:
Rudyard Kipling, The White Man’s Burden, 1899


This famous poem, written by Britain’s imperial poet, was a response to the American take over of the Phillipines after the Spanish-American War.


Take up the White Man’s burden–
Send forth the best ye breed–
Go bind your sons to exile
To serve your captives’ need;
To wait in heavy harness,
On fluttered folk and wild–
Your new-caught, sullen peoples,
Half-devil and half-child.

Take up the White Man’s burden–
In patience to abide,
To veil the threat of terror
And check the show of pride;
By open speech and simple,
An hundred times made plain
To seek another’s profit,
And work another’s gain.

Take up the White Man’s burden–
The savage wars of peace–
Fill full the mouth of Famine
And bid the sickness cease;
And when your goal is nearest
The end for others sought,
Watch sloth and heathen Folly
Bring all your hopes to nought.

Take up the White Man’s burden–
No tawdry rule of kings,
But toil of serf and sweeper–
The tale of common things.
The ports ye shall not enter,
The roads ye shall not tread,
Go mark them with your living,
And mark them with your dead.

Take up the White Man’s burden–
And reap his old reward:
The blame of those ye better,
The hate of those ye guard–
The cry of hosts ye humour
(Ah, slowly!) toward the light:–
“Why brought he us from bondage,
Our loved Egyptian night?”

Take up the White Man’s burden–
Ye dare not stoop to less–
Nor call too loud on Freedom
To cloke your weariness;
By all ye cry or whisper,
By all ye leave or do,
The silent, sullen peoples
Shall weigh your gods and you.

Take up the White Man’s burden–
Have done with childish days–
The lightly proferred laurel,
The easy, ungrudged praise.
Comes now, to search your manhood
Through all the thankless years
Cold, edged with dear-bought wisdom,
The judgment of your peers!

(http://www.fordham.edu/halsall/mod/kipling.asp)

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This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 3.0 Unported License.

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