“We need not fear of conversion ?if? both the Hindus and the Buddhists follow their traditions properly. But this ?if? is very important. If the Hindus and the Buddhists are united no outside force can harm them. We need to work together against conversion,? said senior Buddhist scholar Bhikkhuni Dhammananda while delivering the fifth Chamanlal Memorial Lecture in New Delhi on March 25.
The lecture was organised by International Centre for Cultural Studies (ICCS). Former Chairman of National Commission for Minorities Sardar Tarlochan Singh was the chief guest. The topic of the lecture was ?Conversion: Colonisation Through Faith?.
Bhikkhuni Dhammananda is one of the most prominent scholars on Buddhism and a renowned woman in Thailand. Before becoming a practicing Bhikkhuni, she was known across the globe as Prof. Chatsumarn Kabilsingh and had been a Professor of Philosophy and Religion at Thammasat University, Bangkok, for over 30 years. She graduated in Religion at McMaster University, Hamilton, Ontario (Canada) and got her Ph.D. in the same field from the Magadh University, Bodh Gaya. She has authored more than 70 books in English and Thai language. She was honoured with the UN Outstanding Buddhist Woman Award in 2004 and later on was nominated for Nobel Prize in 2005.
Lambasting the forces of conversion, which have adversely affected Hinduism and Buddhism in the recent past, she warned of such dangers by citing examples of the decreasing population of Buddhists in the Southeast Asia in general and in Thailand in particular. Explaining the eternal cultural linkage between India and Thailand, she urged both the Hindus and the Buddhists to work together to fight the menace of conversion.
Talking about conversions by missionaries in the guise of service during the natural calamities or in remote areas, she said conversion has become a tool of new form of colonisation in recent times. On the pretext of propagating one'sfaith, a systematic damage is being inflicted upon several streams of religious beliefs. She also highlighted the Islamic conversion, which took place in Cambodia during the last several decades and evangelicals? attempts to convert people in the tsunami-affected areas a few years back. Mentioning about the Joshua Project of the missionaries, she said the missionaries have prepared the literature for the activists explaining even the minor cautions while effectively converting the people of other faiths.
She said Hinduism and Buddhism are softer religions than the Abrahamic religions and we should understand the quality of being the softer religions. She dwelt upon length on the common features of Buddhism and Hinduism both widely affected by this new form of colonisation. She called upon both the Hindus and the Buddhists to become serious in defending their ways of worship. She considered the nurturing of this attitude very vital and a necessary tool to fend the Hindus and Buddhists off conversion.
Sardar Tarlochan Singh said all political parties should come to a conclusion that all religions are equal and conversion must be banned in the country for at least three decades. He further said huge money is being spent on conversion activities and the fund for this objective comes from outside. ?I wonder why nobody till now sought the details of the foreign fund coming for conversion activities through Right to Information. We must find a way to stop conversion otherwise there will be no peace in the world,? he added.
He said no government appears to be serious as to what is happening in the country with regard to conversion and demographic imbalance.
Earlier, Shri Ravi Kumar, co-convener of Vishwa Vibhag, said humility, humanity and humour are the three words in which the life of the late Chamanlalji can be explained. Chamanlalji never allowed anybody to discuss his personal difficulties. He pointed out that the previous four memorial lectures were delivered by former RSS Sarsanghachalak Shri KS Sudarshan, senior BJP leader Shri Jaswant Singh, Prof. VP Nanda and veteran journalist Shri Mark Tully. Shri Kapil Kumar, president of ICCS, proposed a vote of thanks. Scores of distinguished personalities were present on the occasion at Constitution Club.
By Pramod Kumar