India That Is Bharat
ONE lives and learns. But if one wants to learn, one has to read books written by learned people. Fortunately for this ignoramus, one such book has recently been written. It is a Ph.D. thesis written by a missionary on the subject of “Developing a church planting movement in India”. In the considered opinion of Satiricus there cannot be a more timely educational aid for us uneducated Indians. For India is an agricultural land, and whatever we plant, we can harvest; then why have we heathen Hindus not heeded the previous Pope’s call for harvesting a crop of Christians in secular India ? The reason is simple—we lack the knowhow of religious agriculture. The Indian Council of Agricultural Research has so far failed to research this all-important area of agriculture and prepare a guidebook. Fortunately that problem has been solved, and we now have a textbook.
Satiricus has not read it, but he can imagine the learned lessons contained in it. For starters, he is sure the thesis writer must have researched the glorious history of religious agriculture (crudely called conversion by communal cusses) so that it could be implanted in the planting process. That history has the illustrious example of the Holy Father Robert de Nobili, a Jesuit missionary from France who came to India in the early 17th century. The devout deception he piously practised for the great glory of the Christian God was worthy of emulation for every righteous Roman Catholic. First of all, he covered up his magnificent missionary motive with a saffron robe and squatted down to give his sermon. And what did his semon on the floor preach? It preached that the Bible was one of the lost Vedas. And who was he, the Vedic scholar? He was a Brahmin saint from Rome and a Hindu sanyasi.
After this scholarly survey of proselytisation of the past, the thesis may have eruditely enumerated the current techniques being used for the promotion of the big business called Christanity Incorporated in heathen Hindu India. First, the simple, primary lesson: while in India do as the Indians do—for a decent disguise. That is what the new generation of undercover missionaries are already doing—keep Hindu names and surnames, use Hindu sacred symbols like tilak, bindi and kumkum, and even give Sanskrit names to Christian missions.
So far, so good. But how far is that? Not far outside city limits. But should not planting trees, even to grow churches, be done in the village farms? So naturally Satiricus expects this thesis to contain some righteous guidance in rural technology for the benefit of MBAs of the Biblical business. A common technique that is already and effectively in use in secular India’s Hindu countryside works like this: Give an ailing villager a fake medicine and ask him to pray to his Hindu God for wellness. Expectedly, he doesn’t get well. Then give him a real medicine and tell him to pray to Jesus—and hey, presto! The villager gets well—Jesus has cured him. What does this prove? This proves that if you have a cold Jesus can cure, neither can Rama nor Krishna.
In fact, Satiricus would not be surprised if this thesis reveals other surprising achievements of Christian science. For instance, Christainity is not only a better cure for a sore throat but also a better primer on physics. Take this excellent experiment: A missionary in a village puts a stone or metal idol of a Hindu God in a bucket of water. The idol sinks. Why? Not because it is heavy, but because it is a Hindu idol. Then the missionary brings an idol of Jesus, which is discreetly covered with wax, and puts it in the water. It floats. Why? Not because of the physical laws of buoyancy and density, about which the villager knows nothing, but because it is the Christian God. The lesson for him: Hinduism is subservient to the laws of physics, Christianity is above them. Once he learns this lesson, he would stop planting rice and wheat in his farm and plant Churchs in their place.
“And they lived happily ever after.” That is how every story ends. Every novel. Every film. In fact every piece of fiction. But do they really? Well, not really. At least not British couples, if a survey in Britain is to believed. A British tabloid called The Sun recently cited the survey, which counted the number of quarrels an average British couple has during a year. And what was the number the survey found? An impressive 2455. And when the studious surveyors painstakingly did cause-wise categorisation of the quarrels, what were their findings? The single biggest reason for an argument due to not listening to what the other person is saying: 112 rows a year. Getting annoyed over spending: 109 disputes. Money in general: 108 arguments. Snoring in sleep: 102 rows.
Satiricus is impressed. While, as per recent reports, the Americans are assiduously looking for happiness, this British ingenuity in inventing an arithmetical index for unhappiness is to be admired. Still, although it is said figures never lie, Satiricus wonders—were these quarrels made to order for the benefit of the enumerators? Or did they, by some mathematical magic, weed out the better half in favour of the bitter half? Oh well, it seems happiness cannot be measured, but unhappiness can be counted.