Re: Vidyarambham, a wrong Custom
- It is with much sadness and dismay that I read the statement(s) of
Mr. Philip Oommen, given below in quotes.
"Starting education on Vijayadashami day will not increase wisdom,
it will increase wrong influence of Hindu thoughts and teaching in
the Church. The children will remain under the influence of demons.
This is one of the reasons many young Christian children possess
evil spirits which lead them to drinking,drugs, suicide etc. ( just
like a worm enter in to an apple from the time of flower, demons
enter the minds of children from the very small age). Sunday is a
HOLY DAY for Christians and after Holy Qurbana, a Christian should
not follow the Hindu custom on the pretext of secularism. Christian
should not sleep or walk with satan. Only Satan wins in this case."
I am stunned at Mr. Oommen's above assertions and in all humility, I
would like to request that he (1) list those Hindu thoughts which in
his opinion will exert a "wrong influence" and whereby children
will be influenced by "demons" (2) offer documentation which will
indicate that Hindu thoughts run the risk of inflicting "evil
spirits" on Christian children and thereby make them succumb
to "drinking, drugs and suicide", and (3)give some practical tips as
to how one can identify "Satan" so that Christians can refrain
from "sleeping or walking" with Satan.
Those who have diligently studied both historical Jesus and the
history of spread of Christianity know that Christianity too (both
its Eastern and Western Churches) has incorporated many pre-
Christian pagan rites and customs. For e.g., the adoration of Mary
and Baby Jesus (from the worship of Isis and Horus of pre-Christian
Egypt), the conversion of "God" from a Unitarian concept to Trinity
based on Egyptian and Eastern religions such as Hinduism, the
Conceptualization of Holy Spirit in Aramaic (Eastern Orthodox)
as "mekhina" in a feminine form (shakti, Tao) and as masculine or
genderless in Western Christianity, the incorporation of the pre-
Christian (John the Baptist) Baptismal rite (originating in the
Hindu ritual cleansing in a river to become a new "sinless" person,
see: Gruber and Kersten's "The Original Jesus: the Buddhist sources
of Christianity", Element Books, Shaftesbury, UK), the Easter
Celebrations and its coincidence to spring festivals of Europe, the
integration of St.Nicholas, Santa Claus into Christmas, Halloween,
St. Valentine's Day etc., There are many others.
Therefore, I am not surprised that the Indian Orthodox Church has
incorporated (for example) the minnu/mangalsutra, 40th day rites
after a death, vidyarambam etc. It is such syncretism that has made
the Church remain resilient and uniquely vibrant and different from
the proselytizing variety of westernized Christianity which has
historically used religion as an instrument in extending its
imperialist aspirations. The Portuguese, the French, the Danes, the
British have all tried to either take over or influence the Indian
Orthodox Church. They all failed in India and elsewhere because of
the resiliency of the Eastern and Oriental Churches in becoming
indigenized and disallowing the faith from becoming an instrument of
statecraft. Recently, I saw another letter on this forum asking for
involvement in proselytization along the lines of western and Roman
catholic brands of Christianity.
Jesus indeed was right when he warned "woe unto you scribes and
Pharisees, hypocrites, for ye compass sea and land to make one
proselyte, and when he is made, ye make him twofold more than the
child of hell than yourselves" (St.Matthew 23:15).
I remind myself everyday that it is exemplary Christian behavior
that should be the means of witnessing for Jesus and not standing at
street corners and calling sinners to repent lest they be struck
down by hell fire and brimstone.
I hope and pray that the Indian Orthodox Church will continue to
stay away from proselytization much like all other Orthodox Churches
in Europe, Middle East and Africa have done from the time of their
inceptions. The overwhelming majority of our Hindu brothers and
sisters in India respect such an ethos of the Malankara Church. Let
us not trifle with that. Give unto Cesar what is Cesar's and give
unto God what is God's.
C. Alex Alexander, M.D.