Daily Readings from the Works of Swami Venkatesananda


Insights & Inspirations (Venkatesa Daily Readings Vol 2) — No Place For Conversion

August 1, 2020

No Place For Conversion

vidya      Hinduism, which has a ceremony or ritual for all sorts of things that may happen to us, does not have a ritual for converting people of other faiths into Hindus. The reason is obvious — it was not encouraged.

      Even the more non-revolutionary 'conversion' of people from one school of thought to another, within the Hindu framework, was discouraged unless this was born of full inner conviction and understanding — in which case it was obviously the ‘carry-over' of past birth.

      Even if the path one walked was found to be defective, it was left to a sage or man-of-God to bring one over to the right path, without confusing him or shaking the foundations of his beliefs.

      This was most important. Lord Krishna gives a stern warning in the Gita: "Do not unsettle anyone's beliefs, but give them a proper direction”.

      We find this attitude prevalent even among the early Christian missionaries who exhorted the people to adopt the Christian way of life, while they gave 'a Christian significance to such of the extant pagan ceremonies" as were deep-rooted in the hearts of people. That certainly is wisdom.

      Why does a person want to be converted? Except in very rare cases, he is impelled by a very strong inner conviction. The man seeking conversion runs away either from the moral standards of his own faith or from the spiritual challenge that his own faith offers him to realize perfection; while running away, he raises a bit of dirt and dust, betraying his own ignorance and foolishness.

      Proselytization weakens the religion practicing it. The wise path is confirmation: this is what my Master Sri Swami Sivananda adopted.

      Even when on account of past births, one feels drawn to Indian philosophy, my master, without disturbing one's own faith, supplements it with the wholesome art of yoga.

      The Christian becomes a yogi (mystic) but remains a Christian. He is not converted but rather confirmed in his faith.

 

 

 

 

      Don't disturb a man's faith, but say "You are quite right". But add a little thing extra and one day he will become a saint!

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