Saturday, March 14, 2015

The Catholic Faith in India

Catholic means pure, but it in practice rigidity is the theme of this belief
Catholic church at udipi karnataka

Religion by its very nature is rigid.Perhaps if it was not rigid, then it will not be able to hold on to its bands of followers. But certain religions are pragmatic and incorporate the latest beliefs with the view to make the religion more user friendly. This is essential as the 21st century is on us and we cannot live in an insular world. Some religions however do not change and continue beliefs and practices that are anathema to the modern world.

In this context the Catholic religion is worth a look. What I refer to is the religion as practiced in India. Firstly it must be understood that 98% of all Catholics in India are converts from the local religions ( mostly Hindus). Secondly most of the converts to the Catholic faith are from the lower castes of the Hindu social structure. Thus a travel across the length and breadth of India will show that a majority of the converts to Catholicism are the shudras or untouchables. They left their religion in the hope of a better life, but I am afraid that has not materialized. Despite billions of dollars of aid as charity flowing in to India from the Catholic world, the lot of these people has not improved. Thus a vast majority of drivers, maid servants and such workers are Catholics. Particularly in South India , where the difference  between the rich and poor is greatly accentuated.
To hold on to this new flock and ensure that they do not go back to their parent faith, Indian catholics are more rigid than their western co religionists. They try and forge a seperate identity and look to Rome and the Pope for salvation. There is very little Indianness in this. Again it is not uncommon to offer inducements to poor people and tribals to convert to the new faith. Jesus did say to Spread the Gospel, but I am sure he did not mean to spread it with inducements and money.
The Catholics in India thus are a distinct group. They will shun intermarriage, have separate churches and rituals that are enforced by a clergy that is itself perhaps not sure of what is expected of it. The catholic faith is good so long as one believes in it and does not make the spread of the Gospel by inducements and money a prime consideration. Also very little debate is allowed and the catholics in India have remained where they are. Hence their demand for economic reservation on par with the scheduled castes.
Jesus left behind a great faith, but the Catholic faith in India certainly needs a breath of fresh air. They need to integrate with India and think of India as their home and not to the people in Europe  for guidance.