Thursday, October 6, 2011

In response to a comment

Below post is in response to the comment by Uptake...since the comment section was not giving me the space...

...thanks for the link.. Was nodding my head throughout the article since she has written it all very well….everything which I could not express myself. But I wonder if your statement that Indian women never discuss spirituality can be generalized. I think they do. And maybe not often, because of the general tolerance that Indians have towards every religion.

Now, the below may not have been the reason or answer for you posting the link.. but still let me.

I have placed in italics the statements that I borrowed from her article.


Christianity - Indian Christianity : In search of the Christ within

Ironically, inculturation was the basic nature of Indian Christianity long before the West entered. Christianity here is believed to have been introduced in AD 52. This is when Thomas the Apostle came to Malankara, Kerala (a southern Indian State). Thomas converted many caste Hindus and established a church that, in every way save religious, was Indian.

 I come from a family whose forefathers are not recent converts and even if many want to do away with St. Thomas landing, they could not have been converted during the British times or the Portuguese. Many Hindu traditions which existed in the Church / marriage rituals continue even today. Things like getting the horoscope done continues even now among a section of Christians. This is maybe because there was a void after St. Thomas left and the Christians may have turned back to the Hindu way of life while preserving the belief in Christ or they never left the Hindu way of life from the beginning but incorporated Christianity within Hinduism.

During our recent vacation, we visited a church at Thiruvithancode in the Kanyakumari district of Tamilnadu state, which is believed to be one of  7 and a half church (arappally in Malayalam language) that was built by St. Thomas. Though the visit was not a pilgrimage, but in search of the grave of Hubby's Father's brother who is buried there...once we reached there it created much interest in me especially since I found the structure very simple and in the style of a Hindu temple. We were told that there were no idols of Christ or Mary in the old building (it was placed much later) but just a simple building with an object in stone for the baptism ritual plus another object in stone to wash one’s feet before entering. Except for the roof, the structure has not undergone modification.
The Church
The structure for baptism ritual

To wash the feet

Image of Christ

Why this hue and cry over conversions then? The answer lies in the pluralistic nature of Indian Christianity. Even as mainstream Catholic churches are pulling back, Indian Christianity is being influenced by the Pentecostal believers who originated in the USA. (but in Kerala there was always a section of Christians who never entirely rejected the Hindu/Indian way of life and was always proud of their Hindu roots)

Going under names such as Born Again Christians, they practice a form of Christianity that identifies knowledge of God solely within the Biblical context. In contrast, inculturation focuses the discourse within the Christian body, not outside it.

Where Jesus meets Brahman

I was Indian whether or not a Christian. I have always loved Indian culture and tradition. I am inspired by our holistic way of life with its reverence for nature and values which emphasize giving, serving, and self-realization. They are so wise that I subscribe to them without hesitation. And for the past few years, I have moved towards a life that is Indian at the core: in values, attitudes and philosophy.  (here I do not understand how just being a Christian she did possess those values and hence had to move towards it)

I never felt that my roots militated against my Christianity. I find most of Christ's teachings resonating in the Hindu texts. And his own rejection of organized faith (he drove the moneychangers out of the temple) convinces me that He would not want me to remain swaddled by an inherited faith.

Christ not only drove the moneychangers but we read that the ones who sought ardently or lead the crowd for his crucifixion, were the leaders of the Church that existed during his time. Though I am moving away from the topic, let me say that the same happens even today in Christianity. The present Church leaders have moved away from the simple teachings of Christ and in turn may have left an entire generation and the onlookers too in confusion  :) Maybe this explains why this lady had to move towards the core values, that Christ taught in a very simple manner.

As for me, just like some Hindus, I now do not depend on organized religion or rituals. Let me once again borrow her words to explain my religion or spirituality or whatever one wants to call it..

"I fell in love with Jesus Christ. I became (am) a Christian because I found him fantastic." At the living heart of the faith is the person of Jesus Christ—a towering figure of love, compassion, and wisdom. How does one remain unmoved by his preference for the poor, the prostitute and the publican? How to remain unchanged by his injunction to love the other enough to turn the other cheek?

Hope I made some sense to you :)..


  1. I had no idea my comment would lead to such a beautiful post.
    Regarding educated Indians and spirituality, I am afraid most of us unburden ourselves of more serious spiritual quest by blaming our society for all problems and for our helplessness -- things that should prompt us to question the meaning and purpose of life and our place in this creation.

  2. Uptake: Thank you.. and glad that what I wrote did make some sense..

    Yes...each of us who are a part of the society that we live, are to be blamed too.. but then, in the name of serious spiritual quest, it is very easy to claim God to oneself or to a particular group of people :)

  3. Lovely post! You seem have given this subject a lot of thought.

    Personally, I think that Indian women may not discuss spirituality often, but when they do, they can do so fairly objectively without going to extremes.

  4. Manju: Thank you... very glad that you liked it...but the fact is, I did not have to give much thought since this has always been in my mind..
    Very true about the Indian women... nd maybe because she takes much of the brunt when it comes to religion and hence has a better perspective?

    Jon: is that akin to Facebook "Like" :).. glad to have you back here and hopefully you shall add more words, the next time...


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