Justice BK Somasekhar Enquiry Commission into the incidents of attacks on certain places of worship in Dakshina Kannada and other districts of Karnataka in the month of September 2008. Certain Hindus, Praveen Reddy and Others, submitted a questionnaire before the Honorable Commission seeking answers from the Christians for their theological and legal questions pertaining to the Christian faith. This was brought to the attention of SAN recently and has been informed that the Honorable Commission granted extension of time to answer those. Though not the original recipients, Jerry Thomas and G Bibu answered those questions and submitted their answers, both soft copy and hard copy, before the Honorable Commission. They have also submitted a questionnaire for these Hindu friends to answer.
Worship no God but me. [Ten Commandments]
Do not bow to any idol or worship it, because I am the Lord your God and I tolerate no rivals. [Genesis 20:4]
Condemn to death anyone who offers sacrifices to any God except to me, the Lord.[Exodus 22-20]
God is like a flaming fire; he tolerates no rivals [Deuteronomy 4-24]
Do not marry any of them, and do not let your children marry any of them because then they would lead your children away from the Lord to worship other Gods. If that happens, the Lord will be angry with you and destroy you at once.[Deuteronomy 7-2-4]
Jesus answered him, I am the way, the truth, and the life; no one goes to the Father except by me. [John 14-6].
The Lord God tolerates no rivals; he punishes those who oppose him. [Nahum 1-2]
(A). Please clarify whether the above commandments do not violate article 25 and Article 51-A [e] of Constitution of India?
(A 1) The clarification sought for is basically same as that with point I.(c) of the questionnaire. Hence the clarification already accorded will suffice.
(B). Please clarify whether the above verses are applicable to Hindus, if not clarify whether Bible is suitable/appropriate to be propagated among non Christians in its present form?
We have already clarified the relevance, scope, and application of the Old Testament. Since it is answered, we will restrict our answer to the Biblical verse cited from the Gospel of John 14:6.
Regarding the exclusivity of this claim- John 14:6, we repeat that laws of logic (refer first law of logic- the law of non-contradiction) demands that any truth claim must be exclusive.
Further, any careful reader of the Gospel of John would understand that this claim was never intended to be forcibly imposed on anyone. The Kingdom of God that Jesus spoke was of spiritual in nature where none can enter by birth or unwillingly but only by their own choice.
John 18: 36 Jesus answered, “My kingdom is not of this world. If My kingdom were of this world, My servants would fight, so that I should not be delivered to the Jews; but now My kingdom is not from here.”
John 3: 3-6 “Jesus answered and said to him, “Most assuredly, I say to you, unless one is born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God.” Nicodemus said to Him, “How can a man be born when he is old? Can he enter a second time into his mother’s womb and be born?” Jesus answered, “Most assuredly, I say to you, unless one is born of water and the Spirit, he cannot enter the kingdom of God. That which is born of the flesh is flesh, and that which is born of the Spirit is spirit.”
(C). If Bible is applicable to only Christians then is it a communal/sectarian book not applicable to entire human kind?
This point also has been addressed earlier and we cited that there are sections in the Holy Bible that pertains to the Israel, sections that pertain to Church and sections that pertain to the world. Though all the sections are not legally binding on all, all can draw moral lessons for every section.
(D). Are the above verses conducive for maintaining communal harmony especially in a country like India whether majority of Hindus believe in plurality of Gods?
Having clarified that the monotheistic exclusivity of the New Testament does not demand its legal enforcement, for the sake of scientific temperament, we now turn our attention to the Hindu Scriptures and Hindu saints on how they describe the gods of Hinduism.
Let us check if the Memorialists are ready to apply their own standards to their texts. If not, the questions of the Memorialists arise out blatant bias contrary to any scientific temperament that they often preach.
Srimad Bhagavatam 4: 2: 8-16 – About Siva:
Before the seated Lord S'iva, who showed no respect for him, he felt offended though and losing his temper he spoke to him with an angry look in his eyes. 'Listen to me, o wise among the brahmins, o godly ones, o fire-gods, how I speak to you about the manners of the gentle ones, and this I do not out of ignorance or jealousy. He, who belongs to the rulers of the universe, has, lacking in manners, shamefully polluted and spoilt the fame of the ones following the path of the gentle ones. He has accepted to be of a lower position, acting like an honest man in taking the hand of my daughter, in the presence of fire and brahmins. Taking the hand of her who has eyes like that of a deer cub, he has himself the eyes of a monkey, not welcoming me, who is worthy of such a reception, with the honor of standing up from his seat. With no respect for the rules and regulations, he, impure and proud, has broken with the code of civility; although I didn't want to, have I handed over my daughter as if the message of the Vedas would be given to a s'ûdra. Accompanied by ghosts and demons he wanders around at the burial places where corpses are burnt, laughing and crying like a madman, with scattered hair smearing himself with the ashes of the funeral pyre. He has a garland of skulls and is ornamented with dead man's bones; only in name he is S'iva or auspicious. He is in fact inauspicious, crazy and dear to the crazy, their leader and Lord, engrossed in the mode of ignorance. To him, the Lord of Ghosts, void of all cleanliness, with his heart so far off, I alas, as the supreme teacher did request, have given Satî.'
Further, early Vaishanava devotee Nammalvar wrote: (Quoted in The Penguin History of Early India: From the Origins to AD 1300, Page 353, by Romila Thapar)
You believers in Linga mythologies
And you Jainas
Becoming all of you choppers of logic
Becoming even your gods
He stands there Our lord:
Come see him in Kurukur
Where rich ears of paddy
Fan him like ceremonial yak tails.
In this place without lies
Devi Bhagavatam 5: 33: 55-66:- About Brahmâ, Visnu and Mahes’a
The Risi said :– O King! She is beginningless; therefore She had no origin at any time; that Highest Devî is Eternal and She is always the Cause of all Causes. (How then can any other be powerful like Her). O King! She resides in all the beings as the essential vital Force; deprived of that Force, every being is reduced to a dead carcass. She is pervading as the Universal Force of Consciousness in all the beings. The form of this S’akti (Force) is the form made up of consciousness itself, the Brahmâ. (For the force of Fire is Fire itself; it is not seen in any other form). Her appearances and disappearances at times are simply for serving the purposes of the Gods. O King! Whenever the Devas and men worship Her, Ambikâ makes Her appearance visible to destroy their pains and sufferings. She assumes variousforms and possesses various powers. That Highest Îs’varî comes down of Her free will to serve Her some purpose or other. She is not like the Devas, under the control of Daiva or Fate; She is not under the influence of Time (as both Fate and Time are created by Her). She puts always every being to action according to his capacity. Purusa is not the Doer; He is simply the Witness. This whole Universe is the object seen. That Devî is the Mother of all this that is witnessed. She is the Manifested and She is the Unmanifested and She is the Effect also. She alone is the Actress and manifests thus the world and thus gives the colouring to the Purusa. When the Purusa is coloured thus, She destroys quickly these worlds. It is said that Brahmâ, Visnu and Mahes’a are respectively the Creator, Preserver and Destroyer of the world; but this is merely a statement; really they are merely instruments in Her hands. Bhagavatî has created them in reality for Her Pastime and stationed them in their respective posts. She has bestowed to them Her part manifestations, i.e., Sarasvatî to Brahmâ, Laksmî to Visnu, and Girijâ to Mahes’a and has thus rendered them more powerful. They, the lords of the Devas, always meditate and worship Her as the Creatrix, Preservrix and Destructrix of this Universe. O King! I have thus described to you, as far as my intelligence and knowledge go, the holy greatness and the excellent glory of Her (in reality, I have not been able to come to the end of it).
Satyrath Prakash (Page 363) by Swami Dayanand of Arya Samaj- On the Plurality of the Hindu gods.
The Vaishnava sect took its birth 150 years after Raja Bhoja. The founder Shathakopa was the son of a professional prostitute. In his time the movement achieved some successl his successor was Munivahana the son of a scavenger. He was succeeded by Yavanacharya who was born in a Mohammedan family. The fourth was Ramanuja, a Braahaman by birth. He propagated this creed. The Shivites had the Shiva Puran, and the Shaktas their Devi Bhagvat Puran, so the Vaishnavites their Vishnu Puran.
The authors did not publish these books in their own names, but instead fathered their publications on sages, and seers like Vyasa fearing that no one would attach any weight to what was published in their own name. These books should appropriately have been names Navina (i.e., of recent date). But there is nothing to wonder at if a poor man named his son Maharaj Adhiraja (Emperor), and if a thing of recent origin was named Sanatan (ancient). The contents of the Puranas bear on them the stamp of the internecine warfare of these sects.
Mark! It is written in the Devi Bhagvat Purana that a goddess named Shri, the mistress of Shripur, was the author of the universe. She also created Brahma, Vishnu and Mahadeva. She willed and then rubbed her hands and lo! There was a blister out of which Brahma was born. The goddess asked him to marry her. Brahma replied, "Thou ar my mother, therefore, it does not behove me to marry thee." This enraged the mother goddess and she reduced her son to ashes. She again rubbed her hands and produced another son in the same way. She named him Vishnu. The same proposal was made to him with the like result. He too was reduced to ashes.
A third son was brought into being in the same way. She named him Mahadeva and made a proposal of marriage to him. Mahadeva replied, " I cannot marry thee, unless thou art metamorphosed into a different woman." She did the needful. Then Mahadeva asked her, "What do these two heaps of ashes signify?" The goddess replied, "These are the mortal remains of thy brothers. They did not obey my orders and were therefore reduced to ashes." Mahadeva replied, "What shall I alone do? Bring them to life again and produce two other girls and let the three of us marry the three of them." The goddess did what was asked of her and thus the three couples were married. What a shame! The fellows did not marry their mother but married their own sisters!!! Can this action be regarded morally justifiable?
Thereafter the goddess brought into existence Indra, etc. (Brahma, Vishnu, Rudra, Indra, were appointed as palanquin bearers of the goddess). Many such yarns have been spun out (in this book). It might be asked (of the Shaktas), "What was the body of the goddess like? Who were her parents? Who was the creator of that Shripur." Should they say back in reply that the goddess had no beginning, it could not be right because whatever is the product of combination of elements must needs have a beginning.
If the marriage if a mother with her son be a sin, why should not the marriage between brothers and sisters be regarded likewise? Just as in the Devi Bhagvat Purana, Mahadeva, Vishnu, Brahma, etc., have been spoken of disparagingly whilst the goddess (Devi) has been exalted, in like manner in the Shiva Puran the Devi, etc., have been held up to contempt. All these have been described therein as the servants of Mahadeva who is proclaimed their Lord and Master.
Now if the wearing of the stones of a fruit and the besmearing of the body with ashes can lead to salvation, why then the donkeys and pigs and other animals who wallow in dust, and Bhil and other low-born men who wear strings of fruit-stones on their bodies are already saved.”
(A) In the light of the above verses, we ask the Memorialists to clarify if the above verses are conducive for maintaining communal harmony especially in a country like India where majority of Hindus are in different sects?
(E). As per Bible there is only one God- [of the several verses, refer verses Deuteronomy 4-24]. Are the Hindu Gods and Muslim
God Allah rivals of Biblical God?
As for the Biblical monotheism, we have sufficiently explained by the laws of logic and the Holy Bible on the reasons for rejection of any other gods. The Memorialists seems to be rephrasing many of their questions rather than asking any new one.
However, the new aspect brought in this question is about Allah- god of Muslims. Therefore, let we produce evidence from the Quran on this issue.
Quran 21:22– “If there were, in the heavens and the earth, other gods besides Allah, there would have been confusion in both! but glory to Allah, the Lord of the Throne: (High is He) above what they attribute to Him!”
Quran 37:95-96– He said: "Worship ye that which ye have (yourselves) carved? But Allah has created you and your handwork!"
Quran 41:37-“Among His Signs are the Night and the Day, and the Sun and the Moon. Do not prostrate to the sun and the moon, but prostrate to Allah, Who created them, if it is Him ye wish to serve.”
Hope this would increase the understanding of the Memorialists about other religions.
(F). Can you point out the similarities between Hindu religions and Christianity?
It is not certainly possible to exhaustively cover the similarities between Hindu religions and Christianity. Among the many different sects in Hinduism following are some of those to which the Christianity has similarities. While showing the similarities, we also acknowledge that there are differences which are covered here as they are not relevant to the question.
Similarities between Brahmo Samaj and Christianity:
According the Prime Consequences of the Adi Principle of Brahmo Samaj, they reject polytheism. Christianity too rejects polytheism.
According the Prime Consequences of the Adi Principle of Brahmo Samaj, they reject idol worship. Christianity too rejects idol worship.
Similarities between Arya Samaj and Christianity:
Based on the Vedas, Arya Samaj rejects Polytheism and Accepts Monotheism.
Based on the Holy Bible, Christianity rejects Polytheism and Accepts Monotheism.
According to the understanding of the Arya Samaj, the Thirty three deities mentioned in the Vedas are called as Devadas who are supposed to worship the One True God. Following are some of the verses cited by Swami Dayanada:
YAJUR VEDA 40:1 "By One Supreme Ruler is this universe pervaded, eve every world in the whole circle of nature, He is the true God. Know Him, O man! and covet not unjustly the wealth of any creature existing. Renounce all that is unjust and enjoy pure delight – true spiritual happiness – by the practice of justice and righteousness which is another name for true religion.
RIG VEDA 10: 48, 5. "I, O men, lived before the whole universe came into being, I am Lord of all, I am the eternal cause of the whole creation. I am the source and giver of all wealth. Let all men look up to me alone as children do to their parents. I have appointed different foods and drinks for all creatures to give them sustenance so that they may live in happiness."
YAJUR VEDA, 13:4 "God, O men existed in the beginning of the Creation. He is the Creator, Support and Sustainer of the sun and other luminous worlds; He was the Lord of the past Creation. He is the Lord of the present. He will be the Lord of the unborn universe. He created the whole world, and he sustains it. He is Eternal Bliss. May ye all praise and adore Him as we do."
Arya Samaj rejects Idol worship. Biblical faith also rejects idol worship:
Swami Dayanada wrote rejected idol worship and wrote: It is true that the Shakta idols are not like the Jain ones. Had they made idols resembling Jain idols in very detail, they would have become Jainees. It is for this reason that they dressed images quite differently from those of the Jainees, for the Vishnavites and others deemed it their duty to oppose the Jainees and vice versa. The Jain idols were always naked and represented a being who was seated in a contemplative mood and had renounced the world, while on the contrary the Vaishnava idols symbolized gods having by their sides goddesses, who were dressed out in fine style and excited lascivious thoughts by their lewd charms and licentious looks. The Jains never blow conch-shell, nor ring bells (at the time of worship), while the Vaishnavites and others make a tremendous noise (by blowing conch -shell and beating drums, etc.). It was thus that the disciples of the Vaishnavities and the like vilely popes escaped from the clutches of the Jainees and were ensnared into the nets spread out bye these people. They also composed many books, which are replete with incredibly absurd stories, in the name of the great seers like Vyasa.
In fact, there are others within the different traditions of Hinduism like ISCKON who comes again close the Christian faith in its monotheistic belief.
(G). If there is only one God then what about the personalities whom Hindus believe as Gods such as Rama, Shiva, Krishna, Buddha, Parvathi, Lakshmi, Allah, Prophet Mohammed etc? Are they not Gods?
While we have already explained that the logic or scientific temperament demands monotheistic faiths to reject polytheism as false, we are beginning to see the ignorance of the Memorialists regarding other religions.
For example, the Memorialists ask- Is Prophet Mohammed God? Definitely not. Allah, the god of the Quran says that Muhammad is not god. It seems evidence and reason is not the criteria for Memorialists to believe in anything. Probably, this unscientific temperament is what inspires Memorialists to raise such questions in the first place.
(B) If the scientific temperament was any criteria for the Memorialists, please clarify how the Memorialists or any Hindu can worship Muhammad as god?
Quran 18:110 “Say: I am ONLY a mortal like you. My Lord inspireth in me that your God is ONLY One God. And whoever hopeth for the meeting with his Lord, let him do righteous work, and make none sharer of the worship due unto his Lord.”
(H). Is it right to propagate Christianity in this form in our country where the majority of Hindus believe in plurality of Gods?
Yes, as per the constitution of India.
(I). Hindus believe forces and forms of nature as Gods such as Sun, Moon, Stars, earth, oceans, mountains, trees, plants, animals etc. When Hindus worship the above said forces of nature are they not on par with Israelites under the verse Deuteronomy 17-1 to 7?
We have sufficiently explained the Biblical monotheism, its logical validity in rejecting polytheism and its method of propagation under the New Covenant. We have also answered the how the Old Covenant of the Bible should be applied in the New Covenant age.
We have also demonstrated that there are different sects within the Hinduism which believes in monotheism and rejects polytheism and idol worship.
However, we will answer the new aspect brought in this question about worshipping sun, moon, stars, earth, oceans, mountains, trees, plants, animals, etc, as gods.
If this standard is consistently applied, the
n modern science itself would have to be banned in India. Modern science considers sun, moon, stars, earth, oceans, mountains, trees, plants, animals etc as any other object on which the observation, investigation should be done and not as gods who ought to be worshipped. This very clearly shows that the Hinduism is not keeping up with the scientific temperament.
However, we do not want anyone to leave with the impression that the every Hindu is unscientific though the Memorialists might want to project like that.
Memorialists could probably answer us on what the following verse means:
Rig Veda 19:190:3 – “Dhātar, the great Creator, then formed in due order Sun and Moon. He formed in order Heaven and Earth, the regions of the air, and light.
(C) Clarify, if the sun and earth are creation according to the above verse?
(D) Clarify, if you would allow observation and experimentation on plants and animals? If yes, how you can you allow to experiment on gods?
(J) Are not the above verses a direct instigation to Christians to attack Hindus?
As far as the Old Testament verses are concerned, we have already shown their applicability and its current-day relevance.
We have also raised the question regarding Bhagavad Gita 2:19-24.
(K) J. Do not these verses violate Sections 153-A and 295-A of the Indian Penal Code?
Although sections 153(A) and 295(A) of the Indian Penal Code forbid any words spoken or written, which is intended to provoke enmity and hatred among different classes of the society, whether religious or otherwise, the Calcutta High Court had already clarified in Chandan Mal Chopra Vs. State of West Bengal, 1978, (C.R.L.J-182), that the religious books are protected against the application of these sections. In this case cited, a writ petition was filed under Article 226 of the Constitution, seeking to forfeit the Koran, on the grounds that it had verses against idolatry and tends to instigate enmity and violence among the various classes of the society, hence violative of Sections 153(A) and 295(A) of the Indian Constitution. While dismissing the Petition, the Calcutta High Court observed that such isolated verses from the Koran cannot form adequate grounds for its forfeiture. It stated that the Koran is sacred to the Muslims, as is the Ramayana to the Hindus, and that its forfeiture is violative of the Preamble and Article 25(1) of the Indian Constitution. Moreover, the Koran has never been responsible in the past, for instigation of any form of violence in the country, nor does it threaten to do so in future. Finally, the Honorable High Court observed that it is in fact violative of Sections 153(A) and 295(A) of the Indian Penal Code, to demand the forfeiture of the Koran, because such demands have the direct tendency to provoke hatred between Muslims and Non-Muslims. Now we hope that whatever holds good for the Koran, must hold good for any other religious book, including the Bible. Hence these isolated Bible Verses do not violate Sections 153(A) and (295(A) of the Indian Penal Code.
A careful perusal of the various judgments by the Honorable Supreme Court of India, and the Honorable High Courts of various states, clarifies, that mere words, whether spoken or written do not violate Sections 153(A) and (295(A) of the Indian Penal Code. To attract these penal provisions, it is not enough that the words are merely spoken or written. Those words must be spoken or written, with a clear malice to actually provoke enmity and hatred among the various classes of the society. (Please peruse the Criminal Law Journals released from time to time, to verify this observation). The clear context of the Bible Verses in question, and their scope of application in the present dispensation, bountifully pours water on the desire of those who seek to attract the said penal provisions against these Bible Verses, because they can never prove the essential malice in these verses, when rightly interpreted, hence failing to attract the said Penal Provisions against them.
(L). Do not the above verses outrage the feelings of other citizens of India especially Hindus?
Answer: Definitely not, provided one is ready to read the entire verses in context and logically think. For anyone who has difficulty in rightly thinking or reading the entire text, those verses may outrage them. However, it is the problem with those people rather than any issue with the text.
Continue reading the next Section IV: Answers to the Questions of Hindus.