This is Part: 2 of the article on Why conversion from Hinduism to other religions is highly discouraged.
In the part 1, some solid and important facts about the relevance of Hinduism has been discussed. Please read it first, before proceeding here.
In this part 2, some frequently asked questions from religion/ spiritual point of view are being answered.
Question 1: How about fake Gurus and God-men of dubious characters who seem to abound Hinduism?
Not every student studying in a class can get distinction. Not every religious aspirant has the qualities of mental purity, sacrifice, unselfishness, grittiness and adherence to austerities. It is always possible that there will be ‘drop-outs’ who, by virtue of their undigested spirituality may start their own spiritual show business and thrive by attracting seekers of dubious qualities.
Not just Hinduism, but every religion has dubious spiritual teachers who misguide people and thrive on a selfish agenda. In God’s scheme of things, it will always be there.
There will also be religious teachers at intermittent levels (Neither fake gurus not fully realized Gurus) who are earnest and sincere in their efforts, limited in their own grasp of religion but nevertheless contributing something for the religion meant for people at lower and middle levels of spiritual or religious progression. They are very much needed for any religion and their role is definitely as good as school and college teachers taking classes at various levels, with their own qualifications being enough to teach and guide pupils of appropriate grade.
Again the point to note is this: Amidst existence of fake Gurus and Gurus of various tiers, sects and subsects and schools of philosophies , it is in Hinduism that great realized saints have been evolving time and again to guide earnest seekers of spirituality with appropriate teachings suited best to the times they arrive at in the society. It is in Hinduism that one can see the constant evolution, adaptation and path correction so that true seekers are properly guided and the society at large is reshaped and guided in the right path for the wellbeing of the society and its cultural traditions.
Question 2: If Great Hindu Masters accept all religions, then what is the problem in converting to any other religion?
If you go to your own town’s market to buy the things of your need and all essential items are very much available in your own market at affordable price, at good quality and without shortage, then what is really the need to go to next town’s market?
If someone thinks that something is amiss in his own market, it is not because it is true; it is because he has not looked around enough to see where it is available. Or it may be that he got hoodwinked by the false propaganda from a marketer from the next town who spreads lies and falsehood; it may be because the marketer from the next town offered him something out of selfish agenda to change his loyalty.
Now, coming to the stand of great spiritual masters of Hinduism accepting all religions, it is only due to their clear understanding of the all pervading nature of Godliness radiating from within themselves. But virtually no spiritual master ever nodded in appreciation of any Hindu converting to any other religion.
Ramakrishna Paramahamsa is oft quoted for his statement “As many faiths; so many paths”. He was a unique Hindu spiritual master who actually put into practice Christianity and Islam in his own life and within a short time realized the spiritual principle of these religions. He in fact had a vision of Jesus Christ and saw Christ’s form merging into himself.
Michael Madhusudhan Datta was a famous Bengali poet who lived in Kolkotta during Sri Ramakrishna’s period. He was actually a Hindu, who had got converted to Christianity. Once Sri Ramakrishna happened to meet Michael Madhusudhan along with some of his devotees. When someone questioned Michael as to why he had got converted to Christianity, Michael replied something like “It’s all for the sake of the stomach; what else?”
The moment Ramakrishna heard this, he left the spot, not willing to engage in any discussion with Michael, as desired by his devotees. Ramakrishna later said to his devotees: “I felt as though I was dumb folded; Ah! What is there to talk with a person who simply forsakes his own religion and converts to another for the sake of filling his stomach! “
Once a Christian Congregational Bishop by name Stanely Jones came from abroad to meet Bhagwan Ramana Maharshi. He, with lots of missionary zeal, was trying to impress Maharishi about the “Kingdom of Heaven” that could be attained only through the grace of Jesus Christ; he started teasing and challenging Bhagwan about his philosophies and questioning Bhagwan’s credentials but showed least interest or earnestness in listening and absorbing Bhagwan’s responses. After trying to make him see reason for a while, Bhagwan understood that the person was only keen on giving a sermon on the Kingdom of Heaven and how the only facilitator for it was Jesus Christ. Bhagwan kept quiet and the person went on blabbering.
At that time, Bhagwan’s western devotee Major A W Chadwik (Sadhu Arunachala) was in the hall and having got irritated by Stanley’s behavior, Chadvik, (a Christian well versed in Bible), confronted him with pointed arguments. Stanley got shocked by the opposition he faced from a fellow Christian westerner and he opted to pack off and leave. Once he left, Bhagwan laughed and said “You have certainly paid him in his own coin!”
In Swami Vivekananda’s life too there are several instances where he was quite critical of missionaries and their efforts to convert people to Christianity. He was always critical about Islamic rulers of the past who converted gullible common people to Islam at the point of the sword.
Question 3: What about atonement of sin? Hindu religion is fatalistic; they say one has to experience Karma and there is no escape. It looks sinners are doomed if they follow Hinduism, whereas Christianity welcomes sinners with open hands; they say, Jesus has shed blood for all our sins and hence our sins are atoned by God. That’s so much comforting.
If any Hindu says that in Hinduism you are cent percent bound by Karma and there is no escape from sins and if a Christian says Jesus has shed his blood for your sake so that you can enjoy life absolved of all sins and keep doing sins, both are misguided!
While as per karma theory of Hinduism it is true that there will be the effect for every karma — good or bad — that one has got to experience, it is never said that it a rigid law; Karmas are not self-propelling, to give you good and bad effects on their own power. Karma is just jata – inanimate. it is God’s will that decides what effect is to be given to the karma at what time to the doer of karma.
In Hinduism, attempting to understand and breaking one’s head as to what is dharma (righteous act that can bring good effects) and what is adharma (unrighteous acts that can bring bad effects) might get too complicated for comprehension of a commoner. But if one surrenders totally and unconditionally to God’s will without worrying about dharma, then God (Lord Krishna) promises that he will absolve all the sins of the person (Bhagavad Gita 18-66).
Putting it more practically for the consumption of people of this Kali Yuga where dharma will tend to be at the lowest ebb, Ramakrishna Paramahamsa always emphasized that for this Yuga, chanting God’s name with reverence will absolve one from all sins. With a firm belief in the purifying power of God’s name and with a firm resolve not to repeat the sins that one committed, if one chants God’s name again and again with devotion, his sins are absolved — assures Sri Ramakrishna.
Going further, Ramakrishna once said: “Sambu Charan once read out Bible for me for a while; Oh! There is so much of obsession with sins in it! They keep talking about sins again and again. He who says day and night, ‘I am a sinner, I am a sinner’ verily becomes a sinner. Why fear about sins? Should you not have the conviction “I chant Lord’s name; what can sins do on me?”
From the point of total surrender to God, it is indeed true that if a Christian totally surrenders to Jesus Christ with absolute trust and faith, he need not worry about the effects of past sins. But any assertion that Jesus Christ who, by virtue of shedding his blood on the cross, became qualified to be “the sole authorized arbitrator for the wholesale absolution of all Christians’ sins” (including those of converted Christians coming in with a sin-washing agenda) turns out to be too blasphemous a claim!
Continued in —> Part:3 (Final part) . In this part, the problems with love affairs and marriages between religions are discussed.