Indian Christian Responses to Anti-Conversion in India: An Assessment and Some Proposals

by Dr Muthuraj Swamy

Date added: 16/03/2017

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Indian Christian Responses to Anti-Conversion in India: An Assessment and Some Proposals

Lambeth Palace, Thursday, March 16, 2017

Dr Muthuraj Swamy

 1.      Introduction

Christians in India generally live in harmony with people from other faiths, but during the last few years, oppositions to Christianity in India have been steadily increasing. Especially, the aggressive Hindutva forces are pushing hard to demonize Christianity as foreign, evil and threat to the Indian culture and society. Physical attacks and violence against Christians and other minorities are also increasing. Christians are taking some measures to respond to the oppositions and attacks, but most of the time their responses are limited. In order to effectively respond to the situation, Christians in Indian need to have a better understanding of the oppositions, the sources they come from and the different kinds.

This paper discusses some of the available Indian Christian responses to anti-conversion activities in the last few decades,[1] and assesses them for their limitations and propose alternatives (which do not necessarily differ from the earlier responses, but could contribute further) to challenge the anti-conversion activities undertaken by Hindutva forces in India. While the available Indian Christian responses to anti-conversion can be evaluated within different frameworks, my focus is on studying how those Indian Christians involved particularly in theological research in this context are making their responses, and to offer some suggestions for how they can work further to strengthen them. This is highly necessary given the present circumstances in India, especially the Hindutva attitudes towards religious minorities. I begin with listing out some ways through which anti-conversion activities against Christianity are undertaken, and then discuss some of the major directions and their limitations in the Indian Christian responses to anti-conversion, and finally propose some suggestions for how the field of research, along with some other spheres of Christian life and activities in India, can help strengthening the Indian Christian responses to anti-conversion activities.

 2.      Anti-Conversion Activities in India

The late colonial and early post-colonial period in India involved Christian studies of mass conversion movements in the colonial period.[2] These efforts were primarily for studying the various causes, dimensions and directions in conversion, and there were some Christians who were also critical of conversion activities because Christianity put too much emphasis on changing community and on external expressions of religion. Also, prominent persons from Hindu traditions such as M. K. Gandhi and others were very critical of conversion for the same reasons.[3] Thus, reactions to Christian conversion activities were already prevalent in the colonial or missionary period though not consolidated. These continued in the post-colonial or post-Independent Indian context with systematic anti-conversion activities, such as Christian Missionary Activities Enquiry Committee, launched by the state of Madhya Pradesh in 1954, which recommended many anti-conversion measures to the government. Its findings as well as similar attempts later led to the enactment of the ‘Freedom of Religion’ Acts (though everyone knows that these are in fact mechanisms to check the religious activities of Christians and Muslims which are perceived to be ‘threats for Hinduism and Hindus’) in many states in India.[4] With the emergence of Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) into the political centre – the party that serves as an umbrella organisation for many of today’s Hindutva or Hindu nationalist movements in the political realm – the anti-conversion activities have been strengthened since the 1980s. Further, the current anti-conversion activities sometimes come from common Hindus who complain that Christians, in the process of propagating the Gospel, despise and insult Hindu practices and sentiments. While the latter needs to be taken seriously by Christians living in a context where people belonging to many religions live, for an amicable social and community life, the anti-conversion measures undertaken by the political Hindu elements need to be challenged. These anti-conversion measures can be put into the following categories.

First, the Indian Constitution is used to strengthen anti-conversion activities. This is predominantly by enacting the Freedom of Religion Acts, and by making proposals to amend sections in Constitution which protects every citizen’s right to profess, practise and propagate one’s religion. Second, anti-conversion activities are undertaken by various Hindu nationalist organisations such as Vishwa Hindu Parishad (VHP), Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS), Vivekananda Kendra and others who take various efforts for converting and what they call ‘reconverting' people to Hinduism,[5]  which they have inherited from Arya Samaj in the 19th century.[6] Third, the anti-conversion activities are undertaken through propaganda: writings and publications have tremendously increased during the last two decades. Even though there are many people who write on anti-conversion, Arun Shourie[7] who has published controversial materials on Christian missionaries and conversion to Christianity, is an important figure, at least, as far as the Indian Christian response is concerned.[8] Fourth, in the name of stopping conversion, often violence is unleashed against Christians and Christian groups and those who are seen to be converting.  Also in many places the converts are subjected to intimidation and violence. The 1998 violent incidents in Dangs district in Gujarat and the 2008 violence in Kandhamal are two well-known incidents which were linked with conversion, and violence against Christians in some parts of India, especially after the BJP government came to power in 2014, has become an ongoing reality.

Moreover, as a part of the opposition to Christian conversion activities, the Hindutva forces often accuse Christians involved in the propagation of the Gospel of converting by allurement, force and by fraudulent means. There are several cases filed against many Christians all over India in this regard. These provisions in the anti-conversion laws that easily lead to false allegations against Christians in containing their religious activities need to be challenged because they are misused in the hands of Hindutva extremists. Nevertheless, it should also be acknowledged that in the past, and even today in some cases, there is some amount of demeaning of other traditions by a few sections of Christians while the invitation to conversion is extended or propagation of the Gospel is undertaken.

3.      Indian Christian Responses to Anti-Conversion

Responding to these anti-conversion activities has been the subject of some Indian Christian thinking and writing in the last a few decades. In my opinion, Indian Christian responses to anti-conversion within the Indian Christian scholarship (there are other forms of responses through organising protests, processions/rallies and making declarations, sending letters to the President of India and to others, human rights protection, legal measures and so on) may broadly fall into at least two major kinds. One is to study and interpret conversion activities within Christianity (i.e., constructing relevant biblical, theological, and missiological approaches to conversion and related themes), and the other is to challenge Hindu nationalist ideology where conversion to Christianity (or to Islam) is often targeted since any conversion from Hinduism is a threat to the Hindu nationalist obsession with homogeneity.

While there are many studies in the former direction, which range from re-emphasising the importance of mission, propagation and conversion to a self-critique about the process of conversion, in my opinion, there are relatively few materials available for the latter. In this regard there are some works[9] – most of them are a collection of articles from consultations and very few are single-authored and in-depth-researched monographs – and some articles and essays in journals and newspapers. There are two more works, which are not exactly Indian Christian responses to anti-conversion or Hindu nationalism, but nevertheless are important in the context of responding to anti-conversion. Sebastian C.H. Kim in his book In Search of Identity: Debates on Religious Conversion in India[10] presents almost one century of recent debates on conversion in India, and seems to take an outsider’s perspective of placing and analyzing both the views supporting conversion and opposing it. Another work is a book Religious Conversion in India: Modes, Motivations and Meanings[11] edited by Rowena Robinson and Sathianathan Clarke, which provides rather general trends in religious conversion in different religions in India. One can observe that these Indian Christian responses to anti-conversion are still less in number and also that their responses could be and need to be further enhanced.

In my opinion, even though Indian Christian responses to anti-conversion activities come up with various perspectives, one may note that three aspects are predominant in these responses. First, religious conversion, or put it in other way, mission and propagation, are part and parcel of Christian faith, and therefore it is fundamental or essential for a Christian to propagate his or her faith. This is often given as a response to those opposing conversion to Christianity. Second, there is a provision for religious conversion in the Indian Secular Constitution, since an Indian citizen has the right to practise, profess and propagate one’s religion [Article 25 (1)]. Third is the claim that conversion or any other activities do not make Christians unpatriotic and that they remain loyal to the Indian nation.

The first is one of the often-held positions in the Indian Christian responses to anti-conversion. The Matthean Great Commission, as found in Matthew 28: 19-20, is cited as the biblical call for Christians to be involved in conversion (i.e., it is one’s duty as part being Christian) and other similar texts are appealed to for supporting the conversion activities (even though there are also different interpretations of the text that are reflected upon in the recent period[12]). In my opinion, while sharing what one believes to be good news is should not be a problem, the Christian exposition of the Great Commission simply does not address the various factors and issues behind the anti-conversion activities. In other words, the convictions that are derived from the Matthean and similar biblical or Christian texts serve more as ‘internal’ perspectives on conversion. When one carefully observes Hinduism, it is increasingly becoming a missionary religion, especially a lot has been done in this regard for the last two centuries by Hindu revivalists like Swami Vivekananda.  Moreover, as mentioned earlier, extremist forces such as VHP are involved in anti-conversion activities today through what they call ‘reconversion’ or ghar wapsi (homecoming) to Hinduism. Often this is done through a missionary propagation of Hinduism and by inviting or forcefully converting and reconverting Christians (and Muslims). When, in a multi-religious context, each religion appeals to their own religious text or doctrine or ideology for conversion or propagation, the tensions will further mount and not decrease. Above all, a mere reflection of what Christian conversion is does not effectively address the multiple factors and causes associated with any anti-conversion activity.

Second, whenever an anti-conversion activity is undertaken against Christianity, one can note that there is immediately an appeal to the secular Constitution of India from Christians.[13] The fundamental rights enshrined in the Constitution for practising, professing and propagating one’s religion are considered to be guarding against any anti-conversion activity. However, what is often ignored is the fact that it is the same Constitution that has also provided space for introduction and implementation of anti-conversion bills or the notorious Freedom of Religion Acts. Further, the Constitution’s secularism is not always strictly maintained by the state institutions and apparatus, and its implementation is marred by various factors. This means, in other words, the Constitution does not solve all the problems associated with freedom of religion just because it is secular. The real issue is that these anti-conversion laws are in a way nothing to do with actual conversion activities, but are often necessary in the context of electoral politics or what is known as the vote bank politics. Further, my intention here is not to question the protection given in the Constitution for fundamental rights of the citizens, but common sense and experience shows that its implementation is most often, if not always, limited. Hence, the response to anti-conversion activities merely in terms of the availability of a secular Constitution too does not provide adequate scope to respond to the issues associated with anti-conversion activities.

Third, against the accusation that Christianity is a foreign religion and that by converting to Christianity or by converting others to Christianity, Christians are doing disservice to the nation by becoming unpatriotic, quite often the theme ‘Christian contribution to nation building’ is cited by Christian elites such as theologians and church leaders. There are several works available from this perspective.[14] These include works such as bringing to light the Christian involvement during the freedom struggle; admonishing Indian Christians for not ably contributing to the welfare of the nation, and inviting them to participate in politics. While it is true that in Indian Christianity, among some (or many) sections, generally there has been and is an aversion to participate in politics and in civil society concerns, perhaps because of the Christian emphasis on the other world or eternal life (and there may be other reasons as well), the invitation for Christians to participate in nation-building has been only a sophisticated response, and does not bring much vigour in challenging the anti-conversion activities.

While I do not claim that these are the only perspectives available in Indian Christians responding to anti-conversion, nevertheless these are some of the predominant aspects which one can note in the majority of the existing responses.

4.      Towards Strengthening the Christian Responses to Anti-Conversion 

As I mentioned initially, my focus is to look at how Christian researchers can help to strengthen the Indian Christian responses to anti-conversion. I propose a few areas where research may be possible and it might help towards the cause of addressing and responding to the Hindutva’s anti-conversion activities.

One of the often-heard criticisms by anti-conversion forces is the foreignness of Christianity, which, according to them, makes Christians unpatriotic. Of course, this is not a new accusation.   To respond to this challenge, some Christian theologians and leaders have spoken about and insisted on nation building by Christians. In this regard even some Christians talk about ‘genuine nationalism.’[15] However, this has failed to question the boundaries and limits of nationalism as well as the power issues and relations associated with it. Hence, a critical study of nationalism and patriotism for challenging of the notion of foreignness that is attributed to Christianity and Christians in India is necessary. After all, one does not need to speak about ‘foreignness’ only in terms of nationalism. It is a feeling and it can be present everywhere in our lives (even within a nation), especially in community life. A number of studies are now available in critiquing nationalism and patriotism, and their devastative effects, both in India and outside India.[16] The insights from these studies should help Christians in India to challenge the myths, notions and often the violence that comes along with the ideology of nationalism. One may argue that in the context where Christians are already being persecuted this may add to the problems further. If, however, instead of challenging the boundaries superficially constructed and maintained by the powerful nationalist elites that define and determines one’s place within a nation, Christians go on seeking to fit into the stereotyped boundaries, the problems are not going to be over. On the contrary, only new problems will be added.

In this regard, what is needed is a simple but radical idea of nation and nationhood, not nationalism as an ideology detached from the everyday lives of people. Nationhood which is genuinely based on the real experiences of the people of a nation can be a fitting answer to forces that accuse others of being ‘anti-national.’ Such idea of nationhood does not take a top to bottom approach, which means just imposed on the citizens by the very few powerful political elites who need nationalism as an ideology for maintaining their holding of power, but rather emerges from the common people themselves. The idea of nationalism here is primarily to do with how the citizens of a country relate with their fellow citizens, take care of each other and are responsible to each other. In fact the real feeling of nationhood starts there, and not in the abstract ideology of nationalism which easily paves the way for its misuse to hate, exclude, and discriminate some sections of the citizens against the other. Christians, while challenging and responding to the Hindutva questioning of their national loyalty, may emphasize the importance of participating in nation building for Christians in India, but more importantly should also challenge exclusionary stereotypes surrounding the ideology of nationalism, and should help develop the idea of nationhood primarily as citizens’ responsibility and concern for each other. For this, dedicated research from Christian thinkers and theologians in India on the issue of nationalism has to be undertaken. A mere emphasis on the Christian contribution to nation building is not adequate.

Moreover, one common notion among the scholars involved in theorising and conceptualising life situations both in the past as well as in the present, especially in countries like India, is the idea that religious identity defines everything of and for people, and that people give undue priority or predominance to their religious identities. While situations may differ, it is obvious that people live with identities that cross and go beyond fixed religious boundaries, and, there are also many identities that transcend religious identity.  There are now a number of studies available from postcolonial perspectives that challenge the colonial/ oriental constructions of fixed religious identities especially those emphasised within the realms of power and dominance.[17] This does not mean that people do not have the idea, in their self-understanding, that they are religious, nor that they do not construct any religious identity in their everyday lives, but what is crucial is the fact that we all live with multiple identities that we also exercise them depending on contexts and the different life situations we come across.[18]

In this regard, historical research also may be done on the earlier and current movements of conversion within (or between) Hindu traditions. Such research can challenge the ‘one Hinduism’ notion that is maintained by the Hindutva forces in order to build a ‘Hindu rashtra.’ The ‘one Hinduism’ notion helps Hindu nationalist forces greatly in their anti-conversion activities. However, from the Indian Christian side not much has been done to critique this aspect through serious research, even though the issue is sometimes referred to. On the contrary, there is often reference to Hinduism as one religion with multiple deities, and to its nature from the ancient period characterised by tolerance.[19] The Hindu nationalist groups certainly do not want anyone to talk about multiple traditions within Hinduism, and they work hard to superficially and forcefully assimilate multiple traditions into one Hindu fold, and attacks anybody who challenges this. Nevertheless, the fact is that there are multiple, even contradicting sects and traditions within Hinduism, as there are in any religion. This should be studied, to show that there has not been a singular Hinduism from the ‘ancient’ period.[20] Moreover, very less is researched systematically about conversion to Hinduism in India and elsewhere, or the conflicts and tensions between different traditions identified as Hindu. The conflicts between Saivites and Vaishnavites in the medieval India is a case in point. Research in this direction is important for challenging the Hindutva anti-conversion activities.[21]

Christians in India need to undertake critical approaches to what we call religious conflicts and more specifically anti-Christian conflicts. The question is, is one always attacked just because he or she is a Christian? Or, is identity just a cover to attack the people? Multiple issues and intentions behind attacks on Christians, even though pointed out, are rarely identified in Christian circles.[22] Those who have attempted to study the conversion movements in India have often arrived at two major conclusions. The first group argues that the major reason for conversion was social dignity and liberation from caste hierarchy, and the other group challenges this by holding that that this perspective offers a very sociological and material interpretation of conversion and denies any spiritual motivation in them. While one should not question the spiritual integrity of the converts, one cannot deny the evils that they faced in the hands of those who oppressed them, especially using the discriminatory caste system. This is important because the approach to violence on minorities in India should not be confined only to religious frames.

Many times research scholars, clergy and theologians understand and interpret conversion through grand and sophisticated generalisations. But, in terms of both anti-conversion activities as well as Christian responses to anti-conversion, one needs to observe and document how these are experienced in everyday life. This is very important, because very often the reasons why political Hindutva organisations are opposed to conversion and why ordinary Hindus may be unhappy with conversion are not the same. Further, research among common Christians at the grassroots about how they understand and see conversion to Christianity, how and why they are convinced in doing it and how they are involved in conversion activities, and more importantly how they respond to anti-conversion activities while still living among and relating with their neighbours with different religious identities may help with the generalisations often we make about conversion, its purpose and its process. As obvious, one accusation from anti-conversion groups is that an increasing number of Christians (or Muslims) will lead to aspirations for political control. In my opinion, at least in the case of Christians, a study of how people in villages approach conversion will give a different story (or stories). Of course, the purpose and process of conversion by Christians also varies. Numbers may still matter, but not necessarily for political power! It may be due to the fact that we want to share the good news with the idea of letting others also receive the joy we have received, or sometimes there is a conviction that one wants to save souls for which one is accountable to God. Thus, insights received from grass root realities rather than theological formulations alone are important for understanding the situation in daily life. Theological formulations may help in articulation, but they may not help to conceptualise daily reality fully.

Field research also can be done regarding how and why people with different religious identities (even if it is a small number) support, protect and help Christians (or Muslims) in the context of violence against the minorities. Such stories are often suppressed due to various reasons, and there is a hurry to judge these are exceptional, a few, and rare, and hence insignificant. The insights received from such situations would help Christians to evolve patterns whereby better responses to anti-conversion can be carried out.

Christians in India need also to make use of the insights from studies done in other fields in responding to anti-conversion activities. Here theological education has to provide a wider scope. Unfortunately the awareness of, and even if so, the appropriating of the insights from the research undertaken by social scientists and historians who may not be Christians and those whom we call ‘secular people’, but have responded to the anti-conversion activities and related issues would be of much help.[23] Moreover, there are a good number of Hindu moderates who make effective response to Hindutva attacks on religious minorities through their research and scholarship. Christians do not need to buy their arguments uncritically, but can appropriate them and use them where necessary, to enhance their responses to anti-conversion activities.

Further, in responding to anti-conversion activities, Christians in India need to be self-critical. One way to be self-critical is by acknowledging that religious conversion is not a monopoly of Christians alone. We today live in a context of many religions that have a missionary zeal, and in such context conversion can often bring rivalry between religious adherents. Against this situation, a phenomenological understanding of conversion may be more helpful. That is, we need to understand conversion as a phenomenon in itself before it becomes associated with any aspects such as religion, politics, culture, etc. This involves understanding how conversion shapes our activities and attitudes in our daily life. But, while Christians may not have problems in studying religious conversion as a phenomenon, in terms of the conversion experience of the converts to Christianity, they may have troubles in approaching conversion as a common phenomenon in our daily lives. Because the latter often seems to be problematic for many Christians who may think that conversion is unique to Christianity, or conversion to Christianity is special and distinct. Nevertheless approaching conversion as a common phenomenon in our everyday life will help us to have a wider understanding of conversion, before we apply it to religious conversion.

5.      Conclusion

The central argument of this essay is that if there should be an effective response to the oppositions to Christianity in India, Christians should start with a better understanding of the oppositions.  This include clearly locating the different sources that are involved in the opposition – political, cultural and in the ordinary and everyday lives. Political forces coupled with Hindu extremism push hardly to bring anti-conversion at the centre of the discourses, yet merely for political dividends. The simple and everyday factors influencing ordinary Hindus’ dissatisfaction with Christianity should be studied and clearly distinguished from that of politicised forces who use anti-conversion as an issue for accumulating power in the political realm. Christians in India should go beyond internal discussions of religious conversion as a response to Hindutva’s oppositions and undertake serious historical research in the movement between different communities in India that can challenge the push for homogenised and unified Hindu culture. Dialoguing with historians, public intellectuals and Hindu moderates, even when they are critical of Christianity, is highly important for a better Christian response to the Hindutva’s oppositions to Christianity in India. While continuing to engage with those involved in anti-conversion activities influenced by false notions of religion, nation, society, etc., Christians need to get involved in in-depth researches that can help to bring awareness about the way people have lived, and continue to live, with multiple identities including religious identity in the Indian contemporary society.


[1] Such efforts of bringing together and evaluating Indian Christian responses to anti-conversion are not new in the Indian Christian context even though those efforts both by scholars in India and outside India, were not transferred into large-scale researches leading to concrete alternatives whereby  anti-conversion activities could be better challenged, or at least, responded to. For instance see Joseph Mattam, S.J., “Indian Attempts towards a Solution to the Problems of Conversion” in Mission and Conversion: A Reprisal (Mumbai: St. Pauls, 1996), 101-128. This talks much about the responses during the colonial-missionary period and thus leaves out taking into account a number of current issues associated with anti-conversion. See also Kirsteen Kim, “Indian Christian Theological Responses to Political Hinduism” in Mark T. B. Laing, ed., Nationalism and Hindutva: A Christian Response, Papers from the 10th CMS Consultation (Pune: CMS/UBS/New Delhi, 20050, 162-176.

[2] For instance see Jarrell Waskom Pickett, Christian mass movements in India: a study with recommendations (Nashville: The Abingdon Press, 1933) and Frank W. Warne, India’s Mass Movement (Board of Foreign Missions of Methodist Episcopal Church, 1915). See also Geoffrey A. Oddie, ed., Religious Conversion Movements in South Asia: Continuities and Change, 1800-1900 (Surrey: Curzon Press, 1997), J. W. Gladstone, Protestant Christianity and People’s Movements in Kerala (Trivandrum: Seminary Publications, 1984) and Susan Billington Harper, In the Shadow of the Mahatma: Bishop V.S. Azariah and the Travails of Christianity in British India (Grand Rapids, Michiga: William B. Eerdmans Publishing Company, 2000).

[3] See S. K. George, Gandhi’s Challenge to Christianity (Ahmadabad: Navajivan Publishing House, 1947) and C.F. Andrews, Mahatma Gandhi His Life and Ideas (New Delhi: Anmol Publications, 1987).

[4] Since 2014 when BJP came to power, there is a push to make this a union law.

[5] One of my friends who married a Christian said that recently she was approached by a Vivekanandn Kendra School in Tamil Nadu to reconvert to Hinduism, so that she would be offered a teaching job in their school. There are many such instances often reported by many people.

[6] Kenneth W. Jones, Arya Dharm: Hindu Consciousness in 19th-century Punjab (Berkeley: University of California Press, 1976)

[7] Arun Shourie, A Secular Agenda (New Delhi: ASA Publications, 1993); Indian Controversies: Essays on Religion in Politics (New Delhi: ASA Publications, 1993); Missionaries in India – Continuities, Changes, Dilemmas (New Delhi: ASA Publications, 1994); and Harvesting our Souls: Missionaries, Their Design, Their Claims (Rupa & Co, 2001).

[8] Now that a Hindutva organisations backed government is at the centre one can see an increase in the number of such literature. 

[9] The works include Joseph Mattam and Sebastian Kim, eds. Mission and Conversion: A Reappraisal (1996); Vishal Mangalwadi, Missionary Conspiracy: Letters to a Postmodern Hindu (1996); Ishanand Vempeny, Conversion: National Debate or Dialogue (1999); J. Mattam, SJ & P. Arockiadoss, eds. Hindutva: An Indian Christian Response (2001); Krickwin C. Marak & Plamthodathil S. Jacob,eds., Conversion in a Pluralistic Context: Perspectives and Perceptions (2000); Ebe Sunder Raj, National Debate on Conversion (2001); Mark T.B. Laing, ed., Nationalism and Hindutva: A Christian Response, Papers from the 10th CMS Consultation (Pune: CMS/UBS/New Delhi, 2005); M.T. Cherian, Hindutva Agenda and Minority Rights: A Christian Response (2007).

[10] Sebastian C.H. Kim, In Search of Identity: Debates on Religious Conversion in India (New Delhi: Oxford University Press, 2003).

[11] Rowena Robinson and Sathianathan Clarke, eds., Religious Conversion in India: Modes, Motivations and Meanings (New Delhi: Oxford University Press, 2003).

[12] For example see, Ishanand Vempeni, “Conversion in India Today” in Journal of Dharma, XXVIII/1 (January-March, 2003), 72-104.

[13] For instance, see Julian Saldanha, “The Indian Constitution and Conversion” in Conversion in a Pluralistic Context: Perspectives and Perceptions, edited by Krickwin C. Marak & Plamthodathil S. Jacob (Pune: CMS/ISPCK, 2000), 67-85.

[14] A number of studies available on this perspective since the 1990s and theologians such as P. D. Devanandan and M. M. Thomas have also contributed to this. P. D. Devanandan, and M. M. Thomas ed., Christian Participation in Nation Building (Bangalore: CISRS, 1960). For a recent study see D. Arthur Jayakumar, “Christians and the National Movement in India: 1885-1947” in Mark T. B. Laing, ed., Nationalism and Hindutva: A Christian Response, Papers from the 10th CMS Consultation (Pune: CMS/UBS/New Delhi, 2005), 91-102.

[15] Jacob Kavunkal, SVD, “Conversion and Nationalism” in Mark T. B. Laing, ed., Nationalism and Hindutva: A Christian Response, Papers from the 10th CMS Consultation (Pune: CMS/UBS/New Delhi, 2005), 230.

[16] For some of such works see, Eric Hobsbawm & Terence Ranger, The Invention of Tradition (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1983); Nation and Nationalism Since 1780: Programme, Myth and Reality (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1992); Ashis Nandy, The Romance of the State: And the Fate of Dissent in the Topics (New Delhi: Oxford University Press, 2003); C. A. Bayly, Origins of Nationality in South Asia: Patriotism and Ethical Government in the Making of Modern India (New Delhi: Oxford University Press, 1998); S. L. Sharma & T. K. Oommen, ed.  Nation and National Identity in South Asia (New Delhi: Orient Longman, 2000); G. Aloysius, Nationalism without A Nation in India (New Delhi: Oxford University Press, 1997); Partha Chatterjee, “Beyond the Nation? Or Within?” in Civil Society and Democracy; A Reader, edited by Carolyn M. Elliott (New Delhi: Oxford University Press, 2006); Atsuko Ichijo & Gordana Uzelac, ed., When is the Nation: Towards an Understanding of Theories of Nationalism (London: Toutledge, 2005); and Maurizio Viroli, For Love of Country: An Essay on Nationalism and Patriotism (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1997).

[17] Peter Gottschalk, Beyond Hindu and Muslim: Multiple Identity in Narratives from Village India (New Delhi: Oxford University Press, 2001); Many Mansions: Multiple Christian Belonging and Christian Identity (Eugene: Wipf Stock Publishers, 2010).

[18] See Amrthya Sen, Identity and Violence: The Illusion of Destiny (London: Penguin, 2006).

[19] For intolerance, see William Pinch, Warrior Ascetics and Indian Empires (Cambridge University Press, 2006).

[20] Richard King, Orientalism and Religion: Postcolonial Theory, India and ‘The Mystic East’ (London & New York: Routledge, 1999); S. N. Balagangadhara, ‘The Heathen in His Blindness’: Asia, the West and the Dynamic of Religion (Leiden: E.J. Brill, 1994); Timothy Fitzgerald, “Encompassing Religion, Privatized religions and the invention of modern politics” in Religion and the Secular: Historical and Colonial Formations, edited by Timothy Fitzgerald (London & Oakville: Equinox Publishing Ltd., 2007), 211-240; Discourse on Civility and Barbarity (New York: Oxford University Press, 2007); Peter Harrison, Religion and the religions in the English Enlightenment (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1990); Brian K. Pennington, Was Hinduism Invented: Britons, Indians, and the Colonial Construction Religion (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2005).

[21] Yoginder Sikand & Manjari Katju, “Mass Conversions to Hinduism among Indian Muslims” in Economic and Political Weekly Vol. 29, No. 34 (August 20, 1994), 2214-2219.

[22] See Steven I. Wilkinson, Votes and Violence: Electoral Competition and Communal Riots in India (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2005); Ravinder Kaur, “Mythology of Communal Violence: An Introduction” in Religion, Violence and Political Mobilisation in South Asia, edited by Ravinder Kaur (New Delhi: Sage, 20050, 19-45; Brass, Paul R., The Production of Hindu-Muslim Violence in Contemporary India (New Delhi: Oxford University Press, 2003).

[23] For some such works, see Romila Thapar, “Imagined Religious Identities?: Ancient History and the Modern Search for a Hindu Community” in  Religious Movements in South Asia 600-1800, edited by David N. Lorenzen (New Delhi: Oxford University Press, 2004), 333-359; Ashis Nandy, “An Anti-secularist Manifesto” in Seminar 314 (October, 1985), 14-24.

Dr Muthuraj Swamy

Dr Muthuraj Swamy



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