Analysis

Hindus’ treatment of Christians since 52 AD

This is a proven historical appendage to the “Report On Persecution Of Christians In India” (MG, Feb. 1-15). Christianity came to the Subcontinent in circa 52 CE. Though now it’s been conclusively proven that it wasn’t brought to India by Thomas, one of the 12 apostles of Jesus, the old history and heritage of Christianity in the Subcontinent cannot be denied because of Malabar-Christians claiming to have a Christian legacy for two millennia.

Contrary to the general perception that Hindus allowed Christians to grow and retain their (new-found) Christian beliefs, Christians were persecuted by the Hindus. “Yawan” and “Malecchha” were two derogatory words Hindus used for beef-eating Christians and Muslims despite the fact that Vedic Hinduism never found anything wrong with beef-eating and it was a ritualistic part of ancient Hinduism.

Eliot and Dawson wrote in their account of Indian history that predated Islam in their magnum opus “Indian History As Told By Its Own Historians” that “Till 10th century, Christianity had its scattered presence in the coastal southern parts of India, where the Hindu Kings treated them on a par with the untouchable Hindus” (p. 210, para  2).

It’s interesting to observe that unlike Muslims, who had to face tough, and often violent, opposition from Hindus, early Christians in India didn’t have to face much physical persecution but they were mentally persecuted by the Hindus.

Right from the beginning, Christians were looked down upon as social pariahs and ostracised from the Hindu community. “A Christian was a persona non grata in this country a millennium ago,” observed an Arab historian in 1322 AD. The way Hindus treated Jains and Buddhists for leaving the fundamental fold (read Hinduism), they didn’t treat the early Christians who were mostly Brahmin converts from South.

The neo-Hinduism (or organised Brahminical Hinduism) of Hedgewar, Golwalkar, Savarkar, even Tilak and others advocated violence to resort to against all those who dared leave the fold of Hinduism and that included Muslims, Christians, neo-Buddhists and other sects of Hinduism.

Christians were brutally killed in the hinterland of India, especially in Orissa and North East. The Australian missionary Graham Stein’s killing along with his two young sons on 22 January, 1999 when they were burnt alive while sleeping in a vehicle by a Bajrang Dal mob headed by Dara Singh (not the gentle wrestler) became a headline across the globe but even before that, Reverend Douglas Smith’s beheading (1982) in a village in Bihar by some Hindus, Father Sunil Daniel’s daylight murder by an unknown Hindu outfit in a tea garden in Jalpaiguri in 1973 and many missionaries meeting the gory end in the interiors of Assam and Arunachal Pradesh underline Hindus’ spiteful attitude toward the Christians. In fine, it’s a myth that Hindus have been peace-loving. I’m afraid, history states the opposite.

This article appeared in The Milli Gazette print issue of 16-28 February 2014 on page no. 11

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