A news item about a Christian preacher being arrested for alleged hate speech against Bharat Mata recently went viral. The news, first reported by news agency PTI (Press Trust of India), made it sound like the arrest of the preacher was an over-reaction by police under pressure of Hindu nationalists.
Sample the PTI headline
Preacher held for insulting ‘Bharat Mata’
We will come to what the Christian preacher actually said, later. But just going by the above headline, a common person would be intrigued on why a religious preacher would abuse the nation, i.e. Bharat Mata, the national personification of Bharat (India) as a mother goddess? He/she would think whether this is another sign of the hyper patriotism and persecution of minorities that our intelligentsia has been warning us about?
The quotes around Bharat Mata in the headline convey a sense of it being a false construct. Bharat Mata is regarded in secular-liberal circles as a code word for a theocratic Hindu state. It is taken as a sign of excessive, forced patriotism, not acceptable to Muslims and Christians. In other words, the PTI headline is hinting that the Christian preacher was arrested on dubious grounds, maybe because of his religion?
Now, lets move beyond the headline and delve into what the PTI report says –
“A religious preacher has been arrested for allegedly insulting “Bharat Mata” by posting a “hate speech” on social media, police said today.
Yalamanchili Vijay Kumar, director of an organisation called Christ Gospel Team, allegedly made a derogatory speech about “Bharat Mata”–the national personification of India as a mother goddess.
The accused, a native of East Godavari district in neighbouring Andhra Pradesh, had given the hate speech in August this year and posted it on social media, DCP (South Zone) said in a statement.
The complaint was filed against Vijay Kumar, who also goes by alises Vijay Kumar and Br. Vijay, by one T. Kunal Rao, a businessman and a resident of Hussainialam here.
According to police, the speech of Vijay Kumar was prejudicial to maintenance of harmony which could disturb the public tranquillity.
“Vijay Kumar’s hateful intention to outraging feelings of the citizens of India and his statement is prejudicial to national integration,” according to the release.
Vijay Kumar was booked under relevant sections of the IPC for hurting communal harmony and religious feelings.”
Phrases like ‘Allegedly insulting’, scare quotes (denoting scepticism) around “hate speech”, no details of what the preacher really said, stress on the police reason for arrest as ‘prejudicial to national integration’ – the reader will come away shaking his/her head on the poor preacher being arrested due to a complaint filed by some hyper-nationalist Hindutvawadi radical! It would further corroborate why an Archbishop in Gujarat had recently exhorted Christians to vote against ‘nationalist forces’.
What did the Christian Preacher Really Say?
Now, lets look at what the preacher really said. Here is a clip from the offensive video that we have received from a twitter source –
‘Brother’ Vijay Kumar was upset at a Hindu called Karunakar Sugguna who is countering missionary and Christian evangelical propaganda. Karunakar had criticized the Christian fundamentalist belief of non-believers (like Hindus) going to hell. So Vijay kumar questions him like this –
“There can be only one father to a family, not many fathers. This concept of mukkoti devata, 3 crore devatas is wrong. Whoever believes in or prays to 3 crore devatas will go to hell – these are not my words but these are words of devudu (Jesus)…How many husbands does Bharat Mata have? Jesus is the father of the world.”
The preacher goes on to add that he doesn’t want to address ‘Bharat’ as a mother as it’s against the Bible, but only as a country and that he believes in the constitution.
It is clear that Vijay Kumar’s speech was aimed at showing Hindus are hell-bound because they worship myriad gods, are polytheists and do not accept the words of Jesus as per Bible. He basically calls Hindu b**tards (children of multiple fathers). How is this not hate speech? The part about Bharat Mata having multiple husbands is no less offensive, but its a secondary slight.
What Vijay Kumar has said, in a recorded video uploaded on social media, is standard missionary rhetoric. But that doesn’t make it any more acceptable, or above the law.
What is revealing is how the premier news agency in Bharat and the largest English-language newspaper (tabloid?) Times of India (TOI) chose to report this news –
They made it all about Bharat Mata ‘blasphemy’! PTI and TOI censored the gist of the preacher’s speech – calling Hindu Gods as false and abusing Hindus for having multiple fathers – and did not even report truthfully what the preacher said about Bharat Mata having multiple husbands/owners. To their credit, Deccan Chronicle at least reported that bit – “…..Vijay had allegedly said in his speech ‘How many husbands does Bharat Mata have? Three crores’.“
Ironically, the word blasphemy is a product of Abrahamic belief systems – its dictionary meaning is “the act of insulting or showing contempt or lack of reverence for God; the act of claiming the attributes of a deity (for a mere man to suggest that he was … divine could only be viewed … as blasphemy —John Bright †1889); irreverence toward something considered sacred or inviolable“.
The concept of blasphemy is foreign to Hindu Dharma, which unlike faith-based religions considers every human being as part of the same divine whole, and teaches self-realization through experiential spiritual practise. Hindu Dharma encompasses both monotheism and polytheism, Dvaita and Advaita schools of thought, murti puja and formless tapasya (meditation) – a spirt of inquiry is considered an essential part of one’s spiritual journey.
But what Vijay Kumar indulged in was not debate, but crude abuse of Hindus and their Dharma. Moreover, with laws like IPC 295 and 153A being used liberally to curb free speech of Hindus, often on flimsy grounds, we need more Hindu individuals and organizations to use these laws to counter the poisonous propaganda against them.
PTI is a non-profit cooperative among more than 500 Indian newspapers – it is considered one of the premier news agencies of the country. Incidentally, they have been exposed in the past too for misleading / fake news.
This, dear reader, is why Bharat’s media is called both crooked and Hinduphobic. And large sections of English media almost act as a propaganda arm of the Christian church.
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