Conversation with a Convert

Somewhere in Tamil Nadu

The cab was waiting at the end of the road waiting to take us to our destination. The driver was a 50 something man and there was a picture of the Christian prophet Jesus on his dash board. After a few kilometeres of driving in silence, we asked him if he would mind if we talked about religion. This is the conversation we had after he replied in affirmative.

Undercurrent: Why did u get converted to Christianity?
The Convert: I believe that Jesus is the true prophet. (A brief pause and then with a wry smile) The recent death of pilgrims at a Temple Stampede in South India and resultant controversy proves that Hindu faith has lot of untruths in it.

Undercurrent: You want to know the beauty of Hinduism? We practice our faith but we also do not talk bad about your faith. But the foundation of your faith is talking bad about Hindu religion.
The Convert: Lot of miracles have happend to me. I am a cab driver but my son’s wedding was performed in such a manner that people never believed that its the wedding of the son of a Cab driver. Unknown people came and gave me money.

Undercurrent: How much money are you talking about?
The Convert: Rs 5000.00 ($ 120.0)

A long silence. (Silence that conveyed that he got himself tricked quite cheaply)
The Convert: My family’s original deity was Lord Venkateswara of Tirupathi. Each time Deepavali or Pongal festival comes, we start off our days in festivities. We drink a lot, stuff ourselves with food of our choice fish, meat and are drunk and out. Those days used to be so stressful because of hang-overs and left us in a bad state.

Undercurrent: Did Lord Venkateswara asked you to get drunk? Whose choice was it? Why do you want to blame him after you misuse your freedom.

A long silence.

Undercurrent: Hinduism is a democratic religion. It does not impose strict regulations on how you have to lead your life. Were you ever told that you must Temple on each Sunday’s without fail? You tell me how it is for your now. Your freedom is determined by the church. So are you telling that allowing people to live with democracy and freedom is the mistake than Hinduism is doing?
The Convert: I am a free person. No body has any right to tell me what to do. If they push me I would not care and will surely refuse their attempts on dominance over my life.

Undercurrent: Seeking change is a natural thing. Over a period of time its possible that you felt bored and wanted to move away from the religion of your ancestors. The same happens in the west too. Do you know how many people have moved away from the Church because they don’t like many things about it.
The Convert: We don’t know much of things that happen in the world. Our lives are in a small cycle. I have to pay for my existence and when something was presented to us we felt the information was logical.

Undercurrent: Tomorrow assuming war breaks out between India and some western country. Your church that has is head quarters there asks you to be their partners and fight against India, will you do so?
The Convert: (Visibly annoyed) Why would I do such a thing? I live here and make my living here and I would fight in the interests of my country. If the Church asks me to work against my country I will shun them once and for all.

Undercurrent: Who is paying for your living now?
The Convert: I work hard, morning 7.00 am to 10.00 p.m.. No one pays for my bread and butter. If I dont sweat I have to starve.

Undercurrent: So no one pays for your bread and butter but you have forgotten the religion of your ancestors just because someone came and told you that there are bad things about Hinduism? Are you saying there are no bad things at all about Christianity?
The Convert: I have nothing against Hinduism. In fact there is lot of stress at home because my wife practices Hinduism and my children are confused. I still go to Temple and in our home we have pictures of both Hindu gods and Christ

Undercurrent: Let us say this once more. Hinduism does not talk bad about your faith. But that is not the same in your case. The foundation of your newly adopted faith is to talk bad about Hinduism. Do you see the difference?

This time the silence was deep. We could hear it over the noisy traffic. There seemed to be some kind of connection that comes out of reason. We gave an unusually rewarding tip, and parted with a smile.

Editors Note: One of the prime reasons for conversion seems to be the free run that Evangelists seems to have in India. In the information war, they seem to have absolute freedom to,say anything and do anything. It appears that used car salesmen would carry more morality in their business then these Evangelists. We bet that evangelists have more freedom in India then in western countries. It is also a battle between the rupee and dollar where the dollar has an unusually large advantage which is being taken advantage of. But make no mistake. The fight back is strong. Individuals and organizations both big and small in their own way are fighting back. Its remarkable to see the fight back. Most converts are simple innocent Hindus who would not get converted if someone presented them facts to counter the misinformation that is spread by missionaries.

What would you think your role is in this scenario?