Saturday, June 7, 2014

Abduction of Fr Prem Kumar in Afghanisthan - a perspective

From: BR Haran
Date: Sat, Jun 7, 2014 at 5:34 AM
Subject: Government not responsible for Church evangelical business - B R Haran


Government not responsible for Church evangelical business

by B R Haran   on 07 Jun 2014


Two weeks after the attack on the Indian consulate at Herat in Afghanistan, an Indian national, Fr. Alexis Prem Kumar, director of Jesuit Refugee Service, Afghanistan, was abducted by armed militants allegedly belonging to the Taliban. He was kidnapped while visiting a school for refugee children in Sohadat township, 34 kms from Herat city. Before moving to Afghanistan in 2011, Alexis Prem Kumar was working among Sri Lankan refugees in Shenbaganur, Kodaikanal, for about six years, as director of JRS Dindukkal, which belongs to Madurai Jesuit Province. He completed his theological studies at the Theological Centre in Beschi College, Dindukkal.

The Jesuit Refugee Service (JRS) is an international Catholic organisation claiming to serve "Refugees, Asylum Seekers and Internally Displaced Persons", working in the fields of education, emergency assistance, health and nutrition, income generating activities, and social services - typical claims of any evangelical organization. The JRS was founded in 1980 by Fr Pedro Arrupe, Superior General of Society of Jesus, in the aftermath of the Vietnam War, for Vietnam refugees.

Later the JRS was officially registered as a Foundation at the Vatican State in March 2000. With a workforce of 1400 people including 78 Jesuits and 66 Religious, operating at national and regional levels in 50 countries, it claims to have benefited 600,000 individuals directly. However, the JRS has not come out with facts about the number of individuals it has brought into the order of Society of Jesus and how it benefitted by working in these 50 countries.

The Jesuit Refugee Service clearly states that, "JRS is an apostolic work of the Society of Jesus. For more than 460 years Jesuit priests and brothers have served the Church in new and unexpected ways. Men on the move, ready to change residence, occupation, and approach – whatever is necessary to advance the Church's mission: teaching the word of Jesus Christ and preaching his Good News – a radical service of faith in a world that respects neither faith nor the justice it entreats".

The JRS also involves in dialogue with other religions and cultures (Interfaith Dialogue). The Jesuits are notorious for their "Academic Research" on Inter religious understanding and meeting points, encounters of Christianity and other religions especially Hinduism, Christian Vedanta, and many other inculturation and interfaith stuff. With such a 'Mission Statement' and 'Academic Research', one can easily infer the main agenda of the JRS. Alexis Prem Kumar reportedly went to Afghanistan on a "Student Visa" to pursue his "Doctoral Research", whatever that is!

Evangelists getting abducted by Taliban are not a new phenomenon in Afghanistan. In the summer of 2007, 23 South Korean Christian volunteers, all members of the Saemmul Church in Bundang, south of Seoul, went on a mission to Afghanistan. They were kidnapped by the Taliban, who executed two before releasing the rest after a 42-day detention. Similarly, in the summer of 2012, four aid workers of an international humanitarian organisation, Medair, were kidnapped. Like 'education' and 'health', 'humanitarian work' is another guise for indulging in evangelization. Medair, which claims to specialize in emergency relief work providing food aid and nutrition, is yet another Christian organisation. The said four workers were abducted while visiting a project site in the northern province of Badakhshan. 

In the summer of 2010, 10 people who were running an eye care operations for impoverished Afghans were killed by gunmen as they travelled between Nuristan and Badakhshan provinces. The Taliban claimed responsibility for the attack, saying that the workers were proselytizers; all 10 belonged to International Assistance Mission, another Christian organisation.

Meanwhile in Tamil Nadu, Fr Alexis Prem Kumar's father Antony and brother Manoharan, who reside in Devakottai, Sivaganga district, have petitioned the Collector of Sivaganga to take immediate steps for his rescue. The Sivaganga MP PR Senthilnathan (AIADMK) has petitioned Chief Minister Jayalalithaa to seek the intervention of the Central Government to rescue Fr Alexis Prem Kumar (she has already done so).   

The External Affairs Ministry, Indian Embassy in Afghanistan and the Afghan authorities are coordinating efforts to rescue Prem Kumar. The Afghan authorities have reported that Prem Kumar is alive and that one person allegedly involved in the kidnapping has been held by the police. Search operations are going on.  

One sympathises with Prem Kumar and his family, but it is also a cause for concern that such persons are creating unnecessary hardship to the State and Central Governments and the foreign embassies. Fr Alexis Prem Kumar is an employee of a Christian evangelical organisation and has gone on his own to Afghanistan. He is not a government employee and he has not gone as a government worker. The JRS and the Catholic Church alone are responsible for his safety and security, and not the State or Central Government or the Indian Consulate for that matter. It is important to note that the JRS did not take the Indian Government's consent to take an Indian citizen for its so-called aid work. If at all it has any official understanding with the Afghan government, it should have sent its workers from Vatican and Rome only, or taken the support of local groups in Afghanistan.   

While Government officials face huge risks in terror-infested countries like Afghanistan in the line of duty, private persons who go to such places on their own without the knowledge or consent of the Government must realise that they get into trouble because of their stupid decisions which makes the Government's work all the more difficult. A lot of time and public money is spent unnecessarily. The Government cannot take responsibility for the security of evangelists who indulge in the business of proselytizing on behalf of the Vatican.    

Hence it is imperative that the Government place a blanket ban on private persons going to terror-infested spots and also on dubious organizations which engage in evangelical activities in the guise of aid work. 


Ramakrishnarao Kowluri said...

Dear Jayasreeji, Part 1

Please take sometime to explain. Is religious Conversion wrong?

I believe, we should focus on imbibing the great values that our ancestors have given us and
showcase the benefits of practicing Sanatana Dharma in letter and spirit to the best
of our ability because none of us are either good Brahmanas or Kshatriyas or Vysyas or Sudhras.
Nearly each of us have the traits of all four varnas. In this kaliyuga, we can only practice
our rituals to the extent possible and also request God Almighty to forgive us for our
ignorance or arrogance and all other stupidities we indulge in.

Well, ever since I read "Yenge Brahmanan" and "Verukkatakkada Parpaniyam" by Shri Cho Ramaswamy,
I am feeling sad that I not not a Brahmin and can only practice to some extent, but those goals
are really too utopian.

Given this fact, I feel we should focus on improving ourselves and our fellowmen towards
those great goals. Whatever we achieve in this process is good enough.

we should:
1. Spend more and more efforts in understanding, analyzing and assimilating the great vision,
strategies, tools and methodologies prescribed by our Rishis, Munis, Gyanis and scholars.
2. Simplify the knowledge and educate our people
3. Ensure wrong interpretations, greed and caste prejuidices do not over take our temples and Matams
4. Pool in our energies and funds to protect and uplift our people in all walks of life -
particularly in slums, rural and tribal areas
5. Also conduct fun filled religious/cultural classes for children and encourage our children to
attend these classes
6. Grow loving devoted families where children learn from their parents, grand parents and relatives
7. Organize community programs to foster strong sense of belonging among families
8. Organize Seva programs

I realize that all these activities are already being done by many reputed instituations like
Shankara matams, Sri Vaishnava/Madhva/Saiva Matams, Ramakrishna Mutt, Ramanasharamam and so many
other new generation institutions like Mata Chinmaya Mission, Armitanandamayi, Sri Sri Ravi Shankarji,
Sadguru Jaggi Vasudev and so many other similar small and big institutions.


Ramakrishnarao Kowluri said...

contineud...Part 2....

Apart from the above I have great respect for RSS, which has done very commendable work in
bringing in the sense of pride about being a Hindu and is tirelessly working on various fronts
to save our Dharma.

And we have scholars like you who are doing a great service in explaining the complexities in
simple terms.

And we have the services of scholars like Stephen Knapp, David Frawley and many others of
non-Indian origin spreading the goodness of Sanatana Dharma.

In spite of all these efforts, there are widespread conversions. Why?

Is religious Conversion wrong?

I agree, converting people using money, job and other dubious means is wrong and
should be condemned.

We should not speak ill of any religion or belief system and also handle those
who speak ill of our Dharma tactfully and legally.

Still, is religious conversion wrong?

Isn't it true that our Acharyas Shankara, Ramanuja, Madhva, Chaitanya Mahaprabhu
spread their philosophies and converted people following other paths of Sanatana

In the modern days, great Gurus like Vivekananda, Yogananda, Chinmanyananda to
modern day living Yogis/Yoginis/Gurus are all spreading the message of Sanatana Dharma
and many people of non-Indian origin are converting to our way of life.

So, what is wrong in Christian missionaries and Muslim institutions spreading their
message and people genuinely converting out of their strong belief?

I have many devoted, friendly and noble Chritian and Muslim friends. I engage in a
healthy conversation with them from time to time. We simply exchange views and best
practices. I don't have the fear that I may get converted. I strongly believe in our
religion and am putting in my best efforts to understand, practice and explain our
values to our friends Hindus and non-Hindus.

In this pursuit, I am reading books and online articles, learning stotrams, bhajans,
listening to discourses, documenting and sharing my thoughts with friends, teaching
bhajans and stories to children and so on. I am saying all this, to assure you my
sincere efforts and genuine doubt.

Please help me. This maybe a lengthy discussion through a series of emails. Please
have patience. I understand, you are very busy, but please allocate sometime for me.


jayasree said...

Dear Mr Ramakrishnarao Kowluri,

As you wrote in the last line, yes, I am per-occupied with finishing my thesis at the moment, and hence not able to spend time on writing here. Let me briefly try to reply on your questions.

//Is religious Conversion wrong?//

Definitely. Particularly weaning away one born in Sanatana Dharma is wrong and a sin. It is because Sanatana Dharma is Universal Truth of mind's evolution to become one with Brahman and attain Moksha. Anyone working for diverting one from that will pay for it in a future birth. In a future birth, such a person may be forced to convert and undergo the pains and agony that was caused by him / her in a past birth. Today conversions are increasing because forced or coerced conversions were rampant in the last few centuries. I say this with conviction as I have come across a Nadi script of a devout Hindu whose kids had converted and had to undergo enormous pain. He was a Muslim army commander in a past birth under whose threat people were forced to convert.

Here lies an important clue on how Destiny looks at one's actions. This person in the past was born a Muslim and was immensely loyal to that faith. That was his swadharma. Per that he did his swakarma of converting the infidels into his faith. By that he had destroyed sanatana Dharma. This is comparable to what Krishna tells of Duryodhana at the time of his demise, that Duryodhana is great as after all he did what a king must do, he did things as per his swa dharma. Duryodhana is a bad guy otherwise, but as stickler of swadharma according to the time, place, kaala and his birth in a particular Kula, he did what is right. Destiny has to reward him for that. That is what Krishna implies.

Coming to the example case I quoted above, the vasana of strictly adhering to Kula dharma and the faith in which he is born, this person was rewarded with being born in a good womb, exposed to Sanatana Dharma right from youth and had lived as a staunch Hindu all along. He also had fortune of building some Hindu temples!! There lies the next clue on how Destiny makes one overcome karma.

This person must have destroyed temples and vigrahas as a commander of the Muslim Era. He did that in complete faith in his religion of birth. So he can not be faulted for that. Whatever atrocities he did then was used by Time to settle karmic dues for scores of people at that time. But what ever Karma this commander accumulated by his activities then can not be clubbed together without looking at the motive on the one side and the pains he caused to others on the other side.

The strong vasana of sticking to Kula dharma and religion continued in the present birth too and he stood by Hindu faith that he is born into. As he did not do the atrocities due to personal reasons in that birth (relate to the story of Vydha, the butcher of Vydha Gita), he is given a chance to set them right by getting opportunities to build temples, help archagas and promote Hindu culture in this birth. In the process the pains caused to those whom he converted had come back to him and he too underwent the same experiences as a pay-back. That is why we dont say somebody is great now and so he is a great soul or some body is lowly because he is a mean soul. Peroyorai viyatthal ialame, SiriyOraiyum agazthal ilamE.

This also must not be understood that whomever helping in building temples or safe guarding Sanatana Dharma had a past like this person. We gauge the life in entirety ad in this person's life, he had to undergo the pain of losing his kids to converts.


jayasree said...

Coming to your question, what is happening now in conversions, is a cycle- recycle of births of people who involved in similar acts in the past births. A realization of what one does now and why he does, can be had only by knowledge of Sanatana Dharma. As such, demeaning or destroying Sanatana Dharma is like destroying Green earth itself which sustains life. Therefore a strict 'no' to converting Hindus or demeaning Hindu practices and culture.

The missionaries may be devout Christians. Even Talibans and Boko Haram people of Ethiopia are devoted to the core to the religion in which they are born. But without a cause nothing happens. They all have a cause. When you realise, you feel like feeling sorry for them, but as people born in Sanatana Dharma we too must be devout to this Dharma and tell people the Truth in ways that is possible to us. That way we get further fixated to Sanatana Dharma and come closer to finishing the cycle of rebirth and attain moksha.

There are many Christians in the West who detest conversion activities. Those engaged in or interested in or believes in conversion are certainly in cross roads between past and present karma.

Maria Wirth's article here tells how Universal and complete Sanatana Dharma is compared to other faiths.

My recent article here ( shows how much less Americans know of world and mankind's growth thanks to the religion they are born in. Compared to them many of us are fortunate to be born in Hindu families, listen to sthothras and Vedic mantras right from the time of naming ceremony.

Read this article of mine in Tamil
where I have told about the concept of 'Tatkrathu' as given in Brahma Sutras to understand what happens to people of other religions worshiping their Gods. This is given in later part of that article. This article must give a brief idea about whether there is any difference between Gods like Shiva or Vishnu in Hinduism.

I am saying this as reply to your opinion on Shankara, Ramanuja etal. They did not 'convert'. They had espoused the different tenets of Sanatana Dharma. Anyone aspiring for Moksha must contemplate on Narayana because it is in him the cosmos is fixated and He is fixated in cosmos. Ramanuja wanted people to understand this and give up worship for 'Kaamya Phalan" or doing homas for fulfilling desires.

Anyone aspiring for Kailasa padhavi must contemplate on Shiva. I have encapsulated these things in that Tamil article in TamilHindu.

What Vivekananda, Chinmayananda etal did was to spread awareness about this Sanatana Dharma. In Kali kala, the area of prevalence of Sanatana Dharma had shrunk. So they had to do their best - as we too do in our capacity - to safe guard and establish it strongly. You had given a list of it.


jayasree said...

There are a number of articles in my blog on the evil nature of conversion. Here is some of them:

"Gandhiji on proselytization and cow slaughter"

" Say 'no' to conversion - Kanchi Acharya"

"SC condemns religious (Christian) conversion."

"The violence of conversion"

" Conversion kills peace."

"Ban on Induced Religious Conversion is Constitutional - Dr Subramanian Swamy"

"Conversion is violence.- Swami Dayananda saraswathi"

"Conversion destroys bio-diversity."

'The agenda of conversion'

Ramakrishnarao Kowluri said...

Dear Jayasreeji,

Thank you so much for your reply. I will go through all those articles that you mentioned and try to come up with a summary of what I have understood. This may take more than a month.

So, when I come back to you on this topic or any of my other doubts, shall I post those on the latest article at that time or should I post it on this article?

Please accept my humble pranamam,

jayasree said...

Dear Mr Ramakrishna,

If your summary is to do with conversion and an extension of what we exchanged here, you can post it here itself so that future readers to this particular post will be able to know the follow-up ideas.

If it is something different and not connected with any of the sub -ideas of this article, you may think of posting it under the new post at that time or look for relevant past posts and post them there. Anyway wherever you post, I will read it.