Sunday, February 17, 2013

Missionary mentality

Europeans have had a hate-love relationship with India.  The source of the hostility?

Balu wrote:
From the 16th to the 21st century, the Christians have viewed their encounter with the Hindu traditions as a battle between Christianity and idolatry. This theological framework attributes certain characteristic properties to religion: it is conceived of as a struggle between the true and the false. The struggle has different aspects to it. Firstly, it involves rivalry between religions with regard to the truth of doctrines. Insofar as different religions are either true or false, they revolve around a set of doctrines or beliefs. Therefore, the Christians oppose the Hindu traditions to the Christian religion in terms of the beliefs these ‘rival religions’ proclaim. The main issue of religion is to make a choice between these different sets of beliefs – the message of the atoning death of Jesus Christ and the related precepts on the one hand or the errors of false religion on the other. Secondly, the competition between religions revolves around the gaining of converts. The true religion strives to save the souls of men and women, while false religion keeps them in the command of the devil. This can also be put in terms of their respective ends. The true religion is the only path to salvation. Hell is the fatal destination of all other religions. Thirdly, the rivalry does not only concern the life to come, but is also expressed in the conduct of the followers of the different religions here on earth. As false religion, Hinduism embodies immorality.  And the true religion of Christianity exemplifies morality.
It is this ideology of Hindu immorality that underlies much of the attitude behind the British "we must reform, enlighten the natives".  We shall see the truth of this in the 19th century Britishers who wanted to Christianize India, some of whom I may quote on this blog.