An attempt to know, understand (and ultimately, transform) that which occurs on the fields of play - India (her politics, media, music) and beyond ...

Tuesday, January 17, 2006

Meeting Mr. B.

I was on my way to another part of the town the other day when I ran into Mr.B., a fellow-traveller:

Mr.B.: Here, sir, please read this (hands over a book and pamphlet).
Me (thinking): Aiyo Rama! Not another missionary!

Mr.B.: Read the book and pamphlet! Keep yourself occupied.

As I glanced at the b. and p., I noticed that they were in Tamil. Further, I was pleasantly surprised to see a picture of a Swamiji (rather than JC or hell-fire! :)) on the cover of the book. Reading further, I noticed that the b. and p. were on the merits of vegetarianism, the health problems associated with a non-vegetarian diet, and the unethical nature of killing animals for one's food. Being a vegetarian myself, I was familiar with all of this. So I set aside the b. and p. and started chatting with Mr. B.

Me: I am already a vegetarian, so you don't need to convince me. How did you get these books? And why are you giving them to me?
Mr.B.: I am one of numerous disciples of this Swamiji - we are interested in preserving vegetarianism in India. During my spare time, I go around slum-areas and tell people to give up meat.

Me (thinking):You should probably go to middle-class areas or even agrahara's, given how even traditional vegetarians are crossing over. (aloud) Do people listen to you?
Mr.B.: Sometimes. The problem is that when we speak of our Hindu culture, the ideals of vegetarianism etc. in slums, we are working against the "Hallelujah-gumbal".

Me: The who?
Mr.B.: "Hallelujah-gumbal" [To reader: gumbal is 'crowd' in Tamil], sir. These people who come chanting Hallelujah, convert the people living in slums to Christianity. These H. people have a lot of funds - they get them from foreign countries. Once the slum people convert to Christianity, they do not want to listen to anything that I say or Swamiji says! They even ask me to convert!

Me: Yes, I am aware of this. So what do you do?
Mr.B.: I persist, hoping that my message prevails in the end! There are at least 20 people who have become vegetarians.

Mr.B. then branches off vegetarianism, moving onto threats to India and her culture - in the form of missionaries, conversion money, rapid population growth of minority communities (Muslim+Christian) and how Hindus will become a minority community in India within the next 100 years.

I reassure Mr.B. that if we Hindus are vigilant and are strong in our faith and culture, we will be able to withstand all threats.

Mr.B. complains that Hindus are short-sighted. None thinks beyond his/her own family - everyone obsesses about becoming an engineer or doctor and moving out of India, to the USA. No one thinks of what India will be if the Hindus become a minority.

I agree with him on the myopia and the dangers of an India where Hindus are a minority. By this time I have reached my destination, so it's time to part ways.

I ask Mr.B. not to worry, do his work well and wish him the best in his efforts.

Mr.B. thanks me for talking to him, and gives me his contact details. He receives the auto-fare, and drives off, looking for his next passenger.

Now, reader, were you surprised that Mr.B. was an auto-driver? Why?


  • At 12:21 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    I am very surprised because I have never encountered this in my life.

  • At 2:01 PM, Anonymous Ravi said…

    I guess I was surprised that Mr. B was an auto-driver, since somehow I am tuned to thinking that someone of his standing, economic and employment-wise, will not spend his time worrying about Hinduism and society. I am impressed by Mr. B's attitude and actions and thankfully he has corrected my opinion.

    I have a suggestion for situations when a Christian missionary hands you a pamphlet-- you must carry a pic/pamphlet of Ganesha/Vishnu/Shiva and hand it to him/her. This does not take much effort, reminds the missionary of Hinduism, and also makes use of the tons of Swami pictures in most homes!

  • At 6:34 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    Not surprised at all. Hinduism is alive because of the Bhakti of such people. Fortunately, having lived in a Hindu aware city the missionary problem hasn't grown out of hand yet in my town. We Hindus do lack a proactive attitude in going to missionary houses or christian areas though. That is slowly changing, fortunately.


  • At 2:51 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    well.. i have heard about the physical attacks on missionaries, now seeing the e-attacks.
    In fact if people have stopped worrying about Religionism from the day of independence, we would have not got a better society.
    - comments from the Zurrassic Park.

  • At 9:22 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    It's a sad state of affairs with these foreign-funded "missionaries" coming after our religion in our country. But, on the bright side, we do have good people going after them in their countries, with the minor difference that it is done in a completely ethical and open fashion without quashing anybody's freedom of thought or expression.

    namaste sarasvate deve gaura vani pracarine
    nirvisesa sunyavadi paschatya desa tarine.


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