APRIL 10/25, 2013
Sonia Gandhi – Catholic or Hindu?
Sonia Gandhi with the Hindu religious mark on her forehead
BINDI OR TILAK MARK ON THE FOREHEAD-INDIAN OR HINDU?
Her marriage to Rajiv Gandhi, a Hindu, was conducted according to Arya Samaj rites
Here, Sonia Gandhi is depicted as different Hindu deities
Sonia Gandhi performing arati for the Hindu deity Ganapati
Sonia Gandhi participating in the Hindu ritual of “havan” or “fire-worship”
November 10, 2004
Mrs Sonia Gandhi, Chairperson of the UPA, at bhoomi pujan of Himachal Congress Bhavan in Shimla on Wednesday. Also in the picture are Mr Virbhadra Singh, Chief Minister, and Mrs Vidya Stokes, HPCC chief. —
Last month, I was watching an Indian television channel showing file videos of Sonia Gandhi performing a
Hindu temple puja in June 2008 and what appeared to be a Jain temple puja in April 2009. I observed that she did not have to be tutored by anyone as she very expertly and confidently went through the rituals of the pujas, pouring milk on the lingam [sexual organ] of the Hindu deity Shiva and showering flowers on it in a series of abhishekams.
The Internet contains hundreds of Hindu right-wing reports and blogs insisting that Sonia Gandhi is a Roman Catholic and that she has an agenda that includes appointing Christians to all important public offices and converting India to Christianity. Such claims are akin to those made by the very same radical organisations who believe that the Catholic Ashrams movement
http://ephesians-511.net/docs/CATHOLIC_ASHRAMS.doc and the Indian Church’s inculturation programmes [http://ephesians-511.net/docs/INCULTURATION_OF_THE_LITURGY_AND_SACROSANCTUM_CONCILIUM-JON_ANDERSON-AND_MY_RESPONSE.doc] are a smokescreen for the promotion of Christianity and for the conversion of Hindus.
BHARATANATYAM AT HOLY MASS AT CATHEDRAL OF ST THOMAS IN MADRAS-MYLAPORE ARCHDIOCESE
DANCING AND BHARATANATYAM IN THE MASS
NEW COMMUNITY BIBLE 01-A CRITIQUE
[and 18 others in the series]
PAGANIZATION OF THE CHURCH IN INDIA 01
PAGANIZATION OF THE CHURCH IN INDIA 02
PAGANIZATION OF THE CHURCH IN INDIA-RESPONSES
THE PAGANISATION OF THE LITURGY IN INDIA-C B ANDRADE
THE ST PIUS X SEMINARY CELEBRATES HINDU DEITY GANESH
THE TWELVE POINTS OF ADAPTATION FOR THE INDIAN RITE MASS-WAS A FRAUD PERPETRATED ON INDIAN CATHOLICS?
In reality, the Indian church has become Hinduised, as the above and many other articles and reports from this ministry have documented.
The same is the case with Sonia Gandhi. She is no potential or threat to Hinduism or latent protagonist of Christianity. She is a lapsed Catholic and is presently a fully practising Hindu.
Hinduism is not an “organized” religion like Christianity is. There is no Hindu equivalent for the Christian sacrament/rite of Baptism for formal initiation into the religion. If one abjures one’s faith in Christianity, adopts Hindu religious customs, participates in Hindu rituals, and pays obeisance to the deities of the Hindu pantheon, one is considered to be a Hindu. Sonia Gandhi has done all of that, and more. Her marriage to Rajiv Gandhi according to neo-Hindu rites is not recognized under Church law. From the perspective of the Catholic Church, Sonia Gandhi or any baptised Catholic for that matter who gets “married” outside the Church is living in sin.
INQUIRE REGARDING THEIR GODS, ‘HOW DO THESE NATIONS WORSHIP THEIR GODS? I TOO WOULD DO THE SAME’. –DEUTERONOMY 12:30
BUT BE CAREFUL LEST YOUR HEART BE SO LURED AWAY THAT YOU SERVE OTHER GODS AND WORSHIP THEM -DEUTERONOMY 11:16
YOU SHALL NOT HAVE OTHER GODS BESIDES ME…YOU SHALL NOT BOW DOWN BEFORE THEM OR WORSHIP THEM. FOR I THE LORD YOUR GOD AM A JEALOUS GOD… -EXODUS 20:3, 5
The following information is included in chronological order till page 22.
Traditional Hindu wedding for Priyanka Gandhi
By George Iype in New Delhi, February 10, 1997
Priyanka Gandhi and businessman Robert Vadhera will have a traditional Hindu marriage, much in the manner that her great grandfather, Jawaharlal Nehru, her grandmother Indira Gandhi, her father Rajiv Gandhi and her uncle Sanjay Gandhi were led into wedlock.
The marriage will be held at the Gandhi home, 10, Janpath, on February 18, amidst Vedic chants and, possibly, a yagyopavit ceremony. Sources claimed the latter ceremony is meant ‘to convert’ Robert, an Anglo-Indian Christian, to Hinduism. The Nehrus are Kashmir Pandit Hindus though Priyanka’s paternal grandfather Feroze Gandhi was a Parsi and her mother Sonia was born a Christian.
The Gandhi family had earlier approached the Delhi archdiocese’s Sacred Heart Cathedral to conduct a Christian wedding. Robert’s mother Maureen, people in the know say, very much wanted her son to be married in church.
Sources said enquiries at the archdiocese’s offices were carried out by Sonia Gandhi’s private secretary V. George, through a local priest. But the cathedral’s priest explained to the Gandhi family that he could not permit a church marriage until Robert proved his religious status with his baptism certificate.
Robert’s father Rajinder Vadhera is a Punjabi Hindu. Maureen is said to be a devout Christian who attends the New Friends Colony parish church in New Delhi every Sunday. Some say Robert was brought up as a pious Christian; during his school days, they claim, he attended mass along with his mother.
Others contest this claim. They say Robert, who never cared either for the church or the temple, always wanted a civil marriage.
Whatever his religious inclinations, Robert will now have a a traditional Kashmiri Pandit wedding. Sources claim some of the Gandhis’ relatives felt that Robert should go through a yagyopavit ceremony “to convert himself into a Hindu.”
Though the marriage is seven days away, the Delhi police — under instructions from the Special Protection Group which guards the Gandhi family — have deployed a dozen policemen outside 10, Janpath to tighten the security in the area.
A shamiana is coming up near the bungalow and all the roads leading to 10, Janpath are being spruced up. A spokesperson of the Central Public Works Department told Rediff On The NeT that the urban development ministry has asked the CPWD to refurbish the roads within a week.
Sonia and Priyanka Gandhi have been personally calling on the capital’s elite to invite them for the first wedding in the family for 21 years. Those who have already been invited include President Shankar Dayal Sharma, Vice-President K R Narayanan, Prime Minister H D Deve Gowda, some of his Cabinet colleagues and top Congress leaders including its president Sitaram Kesri.
The simple, golden invitation card says: ‘Shrimati Sonia Gandhi requests the pleasure of the company of — at the wedding of her daughter Priyanka to Robert, son of Shrimati and Shri Rajinder Vadhera on Tuesday, 18 February, 1997 at 5 pm at 10, Janpath.’ Predictably, there is a scramble among Congress leaders to be invited to the wedding. Sonia wants to limit the guests at the ceremony to 300, so many Congress politicians are spending anxious nights wondering whether they feature on the list of invitees.
Watch the brief 2:45 minute video:
A most relaxed evening at 10, Janpath
By Promila Kalhan in New Delhi, February 19, 1997
It was a most relaxed evening at 10, Janpath on February 18, when Priyanka, daughter, grand-daughter and great grand-daughter of three former prime ministers of India, got married to jewellery exporter Robert Vadra. After a two hour long Hindu ceremony around a fire with a dozen Kashmiri pundits present, Priyanka walked across to where her in-laws, Rajinder and Maureen Vadra, were sitting and bowed down to touch their feet… When the couple got into the car to leave 10, Janpath, Sonia asked some of the guests to give the vehicle a push. As in Hindu custom.
Timeless pictures of Priyanka Gandhi and Robert Vadra’s wedding
The marriage ceremony took place at 10, Janpath. It was a two hour long Hindu ceremony around a fire with a dozen Kashmiri pandits present.
Why Sonia skipped Communion
The Telegraph, September 15, 1997
Posted by Krishnakant Udavant email@example.com
Is Sonia Gandhi playing down her Roman Catholic origins? And if she is doing so, then is this a prelude to a full-fledged entry into Indian politics? The questions were raised after she refused to partake of a Holy Communion at the memorial service for Mother Teresa at Netaji Indoor Stadium on Saturday.
It is traditional for the priest to ask the congregation to join in partaking of bread and wine – symbolising the flesh and blood of Christ – after a Mass. However, Cardinal Sodano, the priest conducting the memorial service, had only planned to offer Communion to the clergy. This plan was hurriedly revised when France’s First Lady, Ms Bernadette Chirac, asked for
her share of Communion. The priests then offered Communion to nearly a hundred persons, including Sonia Gandhi. But Ms Gandhi politely declined the offer.
Her behaviour in Calcutta is in sharp contrast to the enthusiasm with which she greeted Pope John Paul II on his visit to India, when Rajiv Gandhi was Prime Minister. On that occasion, Ms Gandhi’s parents flew down from Italy to be with her when she met the Pope. That visit attracted its share of controversy. Mr Arun Nehru, then one of Rajiv Gandhi’s advisers, has claimed that Ms Gandhi turned against him because he tried to limit her access to the Pope. Mr Nehru claimed that he prevented Ms Gandhi from going to the airport to receive the Pontiff because she would have had to kneel on the tarmac and kiss his ring – an act that was certain to attract negative domestic publicity. In 1989, Mr Nehru’s interviews indicated that most of his problems with Rajiv Gandhi stemmed from the former’s insistence on action against Christian missionaries. According to Mr Nehru, Ms Gandhi objected to the home ministry’s deportation of missionaries, who had overstayed their visas and was upset about a raid on the Bible Society of India.
Neither Rajiv nor Sonia Gandhi ever responded to Mr Nehru’s allegations but Ms Sonia Gandhi is believed to have been irked by the charge that her religious beliefs make her a controversial figure. Since the Pope’s visit, those beliefs remained private. She has never been photographed attending Church. There was also no Christian component to her daughter Priyanka’s wedding earlier this year.
In fact, she has been known to snap at those who she believes are treating her as a Christian. A former Rajiv aide recalls wishing her “Merry Christmas” a few years ago not because he thought of her as a Christian but only because he wished to give her entirely secular compliments of the season. He was startled when she snapped back, “Why are you wishing me? I
am not that Christian“.
The BJP has reacted to Ms Gandhi’s entry into the political arena – she became an ordinary member of the Congress a few months ago – by focusing on her non-Indian origins. The old slogan of “Ram Raj versus Rome Raj” has been revived, and should she contest the next general election, the Italian and Roman Catholic issues are certain to resurface.
Ms Gandhi’s response has been to emphasise her Indianness. She wears only saris in public and her infrequent speeches are delivered in fluent, if accented, Hindi.
New acquaintances who attempt to address her in Italian are firmly rebuffed as she always responds in English. She has often said she likes only Indian food now and finds Italian cuisine too bland.
Despite these efforts, the potential for embarrassment remains. Her critics seized on the fact that her son-in-law is called Robert, his mother is a foreigner- though the match was not Ms Gandhi’s idea. The Congress is also apprehensive about the response that will greet the Italian restaurant that Priyanka and her husband are expected to open in Delhi.
There are other causes for concern. It now appears certain that a chunk of the Bofors pay-off to Ottavio Quattrochi, who is one of Ms Gandhi’s oldest friends. There is no evidence that the Gandhis shared the money, but the Italian connection is an embarrassment.
Sometimes, critics seize on things the Gandhis take for granted. Three years ago, Ms Gandhi edited Rajiv’s World, a coffee-table book comprising photographs shot by Rajiv Gandhi. Detractors gleefully noted the many pictures of her Italian relatives as well as several informal shots of her in Western dress, and pointed out that the only Indian whose picture
appeared in the book is Amitabh Bachchan.
In the circumstances, it is not difficult to see why Ms Gandhi was unwilling to partake of Holy Communion in the glare of the television cameras. Though many of those who accepted the bread and wine were not Christians, Ms Gandhi probably recognised that what for others was an act of solidarity and sympathy with Mother Teresa would be interpreted as a
purely religious – and therefore, political – act when she did it.
The above news story is shocking: In the first place, Holy Communion may NOT be given to non-Christians; secondly, how did the priests of the Calcutta archdiocese offer Holy Communion to Sonia Gandhi considering the circumstances of her marriage?
By Harish Gupta, February 1, 1999
By stressing Hindu values Sonia Gandhi enhances personal acceptability and Congress appeal
How things change. In the days of Indira Gandhi and Rajiv Gandhi, one grouse of Congress dissidents was that the supreme leader listened to nobody.
Sonia Gandhi, the current party president, has upturned this logic. She listens to everybody. An example of this eclectic system of decision-making was provided this past week when the Congress Working Committee (CWC) passed a resolution affirming that “Hinduism is the most effective guarantor of secularism in India”.
In one deft move, the BJP had been deprived of its USP. The original saffron party could do no more than issue a statement which, divested of all the verbiage, only meant: “We said it first.”
Sonia’s rightward tilt is the culmination of a process that began soon after the Pachmarhi conclave of the All India Congress Committee (AICC) in September. Veteran partyman V.N. Gadgil had called on Sonia and congratulated her on the Congress’ first such brainstorming session in two decades.
This was followed by an awkward hesitation. It was obvious Gadgil had a point to make. Nudged by Sonia, he opened up: “Madam, your visit to the famous Mahadev temple was not as widely publicised as it should have been.”
Gadgil left without waiting for a reply. Sonia had got the message though. To completely negate the political disadvantage of her Italian Roman Catholic origins, it was important for Sonia to be seen as comfortable with her adopted country’s traditions and ethos.
The lady immediately mended matters. Her visit to Pushkar was used effectively by her media managers. A pilgrimage to the Golden Temple was also announced. It didn’t materialise because the Intelligence Bureau warned her of the security threat in a border-proximate district like Amritsar.
The trip was cancelled but Sikh groups presented saropas (shawls) to Sonia at her residence. Next on the agenda was an address to the Ramakrishna Mission on January 12. Now Sonia is readying for a visit to Tirupati and then to Shirdi.
The anti-Christian violence in Gujarat in December temporarily upset plans. Even so, Sonia was careful not to get embroiled in a debate on conversions. She realised elements in the BJP camp were itching to provoke her.
She didn’t give them a chance and instead asked senior party leaders to issue a statement condemning the insinuation that “aggressive acts of conversion by Christian groups are a direct consequence of support given to them by the Congress party”.
Sonia herself took the battle to a more elevated plane. Her address to the Ramakrishna Mission eulogised Swami Vivekananda and rejected a narrow-focused Hinduism.
While an RSS leader dismissed her interpretation of the great monk’s philosophy as incomplete and “lifted… from the pocket book, Thus Spoke Swami
Vivekananda, intended for school-going children”, the fact is much preparation went into Sonia’s three-page speech.
Gadgil, Arjun Singh and Ahmed Patel were consulted and Girija Vyas came up with the vital Sanskrit phrases. Crudely put, the Congress’ parallel track method means this: Sonia will woo Hindus; the party will handle the Christian question.
This strategy was evident on January 13 when P.A. Sangma, former Lok Sabha Speaker, made a strange but strong statement. “Sonia Gandhi is not a practising Christian,” he declared, “and does not go to church.”
Since Sonia is careful not to let anybody in the party speak on her behalf, it is clear that Sangma’s comments on her personal beliefs had her sanction.
Two days later, it was back to overt wooing. Arjun moved a resolution at the CWC in effect endorsing Sonia’s January 12 contention that “India is secular primarily because Hinduism, both as a philosophy and as a way of life, has been based on what our ancients said: Ekam satyam, vipraha bahudha vadanti (Truth is one, the wise pursue it variously).”
For Arjun, who walked out of the Congress in the early ’90s accusing P.V. Narasimha Rao of “compromising secularism” and soft Hindutva, the recognition of the centrality of Hinduism to Indian life must be a novel experience.
Even so, senior Congressmen insist there is a difference between the Sonia and Rao approaches: the difference between Hinduism and Hindutva. Having successfully defused the mandir lobby, Sonia has taken the battle to another turf: Mandal.
In yet another of her surprises, she has indicated support for caste-based reservations within the larger 33 per cent quota proposed for women in legislative bodies.
Having put the BJP on the back foot, she now seeks to york the OBC brigade in Uttar Pradesh and Bihar. Under Sonia, the Congress is certainly learning the virtues of reverse swing.
The Chennai-based Catholic fortnightly, The New Leader [NL], had Sonia Gandhi’s picture splashed on its 1-15 June, 2004, cover under the caption, “To rescue the soul of India“. The editorial, written by Fr. M.A. Joe Antony SJ, was titled, “He has brought down the mighty“, in reference to the electoral victory of the Congress party-led alliance over the Bharatiya Janata Party. Both the editorial as well as the cover story received several letters to the editor, July 1-15, which were effusive in their praise. Linus Ferreira, Mumbai, wrote, “You could not have chosen a better heading…” Fr. R. Lefevre from Mulli agreed. Sulbha Barrocas from Navi Mumbai said, “And the instrument God chose was the ‘abal-nari’ of the Gandhi family, that much-insulted ‘bahu’ of the nation: Sonia Gandhi who proved to be more than just a ‘bahu’; a ‘mata’ really willingly and gladly taking upon herself all the ignominy, shamelessly and without remorse, heaped upon her every hour by the so-called patriotic sons and daughters of mother India… God bless her and her family…”
Shanti Dhoot wrote, “Sonia has lessons for the power hungry within the Church.”
The July 16-31, 2004, issue carried this letter from A. Vinoo Fabian, Bangalore, which said, in reference to the editor’s write-up called “Sonia’s Journey” in the June 16-30 issue, “The write-up was excellent…. I personally felt that the last sentence of the article was the real punch line: ‘Sonia has lessons to teach, not merely for Indian politicians, but also for the power-hungry within the Church’.”
A letter from one Elizabeth from Manipur in the NL of August 1-15, 2004 reads, “Your editorial ‘Sonia’s Journey’ in the June 16-30 issue reveals that God has used Sonia Gandhi to fulfil His plans for our country. She has become a model for every Indian family to follow…she has brought up her two children in a remarkable way…”
All this kudos from Catholics for a Catholic who traded the faith of her fathers for Hinduism, to “rescue the soul of India” as Jesuit priest Fr. M.A. Joe Antony put it.
But the July 16-31, 2004, issue carried another letter, this one from E.F. Noronha, Bangalore, which was printed in the NL under the caption: Sonia and her children don’t practice.
“Catholic Church leaders have hailed Sonia Gandhi for her decision to decline the post of prime minister (NL, June 16-30). But for strong opposition from her opponents, she was almost prepared to accept the post…
One sad part is,
Sonia and her children are not practicing the Catholic faith. Sonia even takes part in the rituals of other religions. This aspect is overlooked by our Church leaders.”
If a Catholic parent has not given her children the Catholic Faith, she has not only given them nothing, but is also answerable to God for their eternal souls.
In response to all of the above, I wrote this letter to the NL and saw it published in the August 16-31 issue:
Sent: Thursday, August 05, 2004 11:46 AM Subject: Letter to the Editor For favour of publication please:
“The comments of E.F. Noronha (‘Sonia and her children don’t practice’, The New Leader July 16-31, 2004) are the most honest and precise concerning Sonia Gandhi that I have read in a long time, and very much overdue.
First of all, there isn’t any doubt that she declined the PM’s post for other than the noble reasons that are touted by one and all. One would have to be very naïve to believe otherwise.
Next and very significantly, no opposition leader has ever raised the issue of her Catholic background despite the rabid anti-Christian rhetoric of the Hindutva brigade on every other imaginable issue. The reason is, as Noronha noted, that for all intents and purposes she is a practising Hindu. The clips on TV, and reports and photographs in the printed press have given ample evidence of that. She consults astrologers for auspicious times to make important decisions and her daughter was married in a Hindu ceremony. One thing that they can never accuse Soniaji of is being a Christian. When she was in the Opposition, she had been very careful not to identify herself with Christianity in her statements even at the height of the atrocities against Christians.
And, as Noronha pointed out, Church leaders have not ‘overlooked’ this issue, which is a very politically-sensitive one, but evaded confronting it. The true separation of Church and State! But it will be interesting to see what the Church’s reaction will be in the event of Sonia’s death. Will it conduct a requiem Mass with Catholic funeral services to be capped by a ceremony according to Brahminic rites? That would keep all sides happy.“
After a reminder, my letter was published under the title “Sonia’s religion” without the last three sentences. Censored! But naturally!
I followed it up with the following letter to the editor which was however not published:
Thank you for publishing my letter on ‘Sonia’s religion’ in your recent issue of NL.
You must have already noted that the letter with the title “Acclaim Sonia”* was truncated [by a printer’s devil]. *Below
I am submitting a follow-up for favour of your publication please:
In my letter on ‘Sonia’s religion’ published in the NL of August 16-31, I seemed to have jumped the gun when I said that no Hindutva leader has raised the bogey of her Catholic background.
A recent issue of the New Indian Express quoted a senior RSS official as saying that with Sonia now the leader of the Congress party, ‘Vande Mataram’ has become ‘Vande Mata-Rome’!
I am shocked, thankfully not speechless, by statements made in the two other letters*
on Sonia’s non-practice of her faith, at least publicly, published in the same issue
[NL of August 16-31]. It is quite true that it does not in any way detract from her value as a human being and that no one can “judge her motives and inner beliefs”.
Yet, apart from it being “something very personal” as Fr. Vijay Isidore rightly said, there are other [public] dimensions to a Christian’s faith. *Below
The theology of the institution of the Sacraments, the Commandments of the Church and the obligatory Sunday Mass for Catholics underline the essential requirement that a member of the Church is part of a community in which one must actively participate.
Also, a Catholic in high public office, especially in a non-Christian environment has a unique responsibility to witness to Jesus Christ who said that He would testify to the Father for the one who witnesses to Him before others, and deny the one who didn’t.
Saying prayers and crossing oneself in a private prayer service that one is obliged to attend by [political?] circumstances is no compensation for a lack of witness in the numerous other public opportunities that present themselves to a Christian.
*”Acclaim Sonia“, the truncated [and therefore anonymous] letter in the NL of August 16-31, 2004: “The Church and every right thinking person should acclaim Mrs. Sonia Gandhi for publicly stating that she was responding to her inner voice…That she and her children do not practice the faith does not in any way reduce the value of their actions nor does it give anyone including the Church, to judge her motives and inner beliefs…”
Fr. Vijay Isidore from the Seychelles shockingly opined, “I noticed the concern of E.F. Noronha…that Sonia and her children are not practicing Catholic faith. I strongly believe that when it comes to the question of faith, it is something very personal – God and the person concerned. Just because someone does not practice his or her faith publicly it does not mean that he or she does not believe or is not religious.
I had the opportunity to meet Sonia Gandhi in Seychelles when she paid a visit to the Missionaries of Charity here. I had organized a short prayer service in their chapel. Sonia knelt down spontaneously and made the sign of the cross. I said a small prayer for her and for our country. She recited the ‘Our Father’ and ‘Hail Mary’ with us and received the blessing with great reverence answering ‘Amen’. A good and God-fearing Catholic will always respect other religions, their rituals and practices. India being a multi-religious country, there is no harm in showing solidarity with others especially when you are placed in a position like that of Sonia Gandhi. It is your Faith deep within that counts.”
I could write an essay, citing Scripture and Church teaching, to refute Fr. Vijay Isidore’s arguments, but the few sentences [in red colour] in my above unpublished letter to the editor of the NL should suffice here.
The Bombay archdiocesan weekly, The Examiner carried a full-page article titled “Regarding marrying those of another faith” in its issue of May 22, 2004, written by Msgr. William Nazareth, the Episcopal Vicar (for marriages) of the archdiocese. I cite a few passages from it:
“The Church has always expressed pastoral concern about the marriages of Catholics with those who do not share the faith of the Church in pursuance of her duty. Pope Paul VI, in his motu proprio Matrimonia mixta, of March 31, 1970, observes that the basis for this concern are the many difficulties inherent in a mixed marriage since a certain division is introduced into the living cell of the Church, as the Christian family is rightly called. In the family itself the fulfilment of the gospel teachings is more difficult because of the diversities I matters of religion, especially with regard to those matters which concern Christian worship and the education of the children. There is often a difference of opinion on the sacramental nature of matrimony, on the special significance of marriage celebrated within the Church, on the interpretation of certain moral principles pertaining to marriage and the family, on the extent to which obedience is due to the Catholic Church, and on the competence that belongs to ecclesiastical authority…
The faithful must be reminded that the Catholic party to a marriage has the duty of preserving his/her own faith, nor is it ever permitted to expose oneself to a proximate danger of losing it. Furthermore, the Catholic partner in a mixed marriage is obliged not only to remain steadfast in the faith, but also, as far as possible, to see that the children be baptised and brought up in the same faith and receive all those aids to eternal salvation which the Catholic Church provides for the children under her care…“.
PM, Sonia Gandhi join Dussehra festivities
Press Trust of India, New Delhi, October 21, 2005
Giant effigies of King Ravana, his son Meghnad and brother Kumbhakaran went up in flames amid deafening sound marking the triumph of good over evil as gusto marked Dussehra festivities across the country on Thursday. Amid beating of drums, devotees, dancing frenziedly, also bid adieu to Goddess Durga as she returned to her celestial abode. At sundown, the fire crackers-stuffed effigies, dotting grounds and open spaces in villages and towns, blazed and crackled in fiery splendour as crowds burst into cheers.
Dussehra, which also marks the end of scorching summer and heralding of winter, is preceded by nine auspicious days of Navaratri during which devotees pray, fast and feast.
Ramlilas, vivid enactments from the life of Lord Rama, were staged in large parts of the country during the nine days preceding the festival.
In the national capital, Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and Congress president Sonia Gandhi were among a large number of dignitaries who watched the evil going up in smoke at the Parade Ground.
Hundreds of idols of Goddess Durga, which had adorned the marquees, were immersed in holy rivers by devotees marking the culmination of the festivities.
A number of fairs were also held on the occasion of Dussehra which also symbolises the triumph of warrior Goddess Durga over buffalo demon Mahishasura.
The President, the Vice-President, the Prime Minister and a host of leaders had greeted the people on the joyous occasion hoping the festival would usher in peace, prosperity and happiness for all.
Sonia visits Tirumala temple
Tirumala, November 26, 2006
United Progressive Alliance (UPA) chairperson and AICC president Sonia Gandhi offered prayers at the famous hill temple of Lord Venkateswara here on Saturday.
Accompanied by Chief Minister Y.S. Rajasekhara Reddy, AICC general secretary Digvijay Singh, APCC president K. Kesava Rao and Union Minister T. Subbirami Reddy she reached the main entrance of the temple complex — ‘Mahadwaram’ — through the darshan queue lines like any other ‘common pilgrim’. The priests received them with the traditional temple honours. She reverentially bowed her head when they applied ’tilak’ on her forehead. Later she was led into the sanctum sanctorum where she stood in front of the main deity for nearly 10 minutes and offered prayers. The chief priest presented her with the ‘Sesha vastram’ of the Lord.
She visited the various shrines inside the temple complex and deposited offerings at the ‘hundi.’ She also visited the Ranganayakula mandapam where the priests rendered ‘Vedasirvachanam’
while chairman of the Tirumala Tirupati Devasthanams B. Karunakar Reddy presented her with various devotional song CDs, photos and prasadam.
India’s constitutional twist as panel backs school yoga
Jeremy Page, Delhi,
March 16, 2007
De Rigueur among celebrities and the fashionably rich from Hollywood to Hong Kong, yoga now looks set to become compulsory in Indian schools
despite objections from Muslim and Christian groups that say
it is a Hindu practice.
A powerful parliamentary committee, including the son of Sonia Gandhi, leader of the ruling Congress party, has recommended that all schoolchildren aged six to 18 should attend
obligatory yoga classes.
“Yoga helps one to achieve all-round development. Considering the immense potential of this ancient knowledge of India, the committee recommends that yoga be made compulsory for all school-going children in the country,” the 32-member panel said. The recommendation carries considerable weight because the committee is chaired by a senior Congress leader and includes Rahul Gandhi, who is being groomed as a future prime minister.
YOGA IS HINDU MEDITATION. Two Vatican Documents warn of its spiritual dangers, and the Youth Catechism [YouCat] categorizes it as esoteric and New Age. But, the son of Sonia Gandhi promotes it.
1. CARDINAL OSWALD GRACIAS ENDORSES YOGA FOR CATHOLICS
25 FEBRUARY/9 APRIL 2013
2. FR JOHN FERREIRA-YOGA, SURYANAMASKAR AT ST. PETER’S COLLEGE, AGRA
APRIL 2008/NOVEMBER 2010/25 FEBRUARY 2013
3. FR ADRIAN MASCARENHAS-YOGA AT ST PATRICK’S CHURCH BANGALORE JULY/NOVEMBER 28, 2011
4. FR JOHN VALDARIS-NEW AGE CURES FOR CANCER
31 JANUARY 2013
5. YOGA IN THE DIOCESE OF MANGALORE APRIL 2007/SEPTEMBER 2007
6. YOGA, SURYANAMASKAR, GAYATRI MANTRA, PRANAYAMA TO BE MADE COMPULSORY IN EDUCATIONAL INSTITUTIONS MARCH-APRIL 2007
1. NEW AGE GURUS 1 SRI SRI RAVI SHANKAR AND THE ‘ART OF LIVING’ SEP-DEC 2006/AUGUST 2009
2. TRUTH, LIES AND YOGA-ERROL FERNANDES
3. WAS JESUS A YOGI? SYNCRETISM AND INTERRELIGIOUS DIALOGUE-ERROL FERNANDES
4. YOGA MARCH 2007/DECEMBER 2009
5. YOGA AND DELIVERANCE
6. YOGA IS SATANIC-EXORCIST FR GABRIELE AMORTH
NOVEMBER/DECEMBER 2011/MAY 2012
7. YOGA-SUMMARY JANUARY 2007
8. YOGA-WHAT DOES THE CATHOLIC CATECHISM SAY ABOUT IT
21 JANUARY 2013
9. YOGA-WHAT DOES THE CATHOLIC CHURCH SAY ABOUT IT? APRIL 2009
1. LETTER TO THE BISHOPS OF THE CATHOLIC CHURCH ON SOME ASPECTS OF CHRISTIAN MEDITATION CDF/CARDINAL JOSEPH RATZINGER OCTOBER 15, 1989
2. JESUS CHRIST THE BEARER OF THE WATER OF LIFE, A CHRISTIAN REFLECTION ON THE NEW AGE COMBINED VATICAN DICASTERIES FEBRUARY 3, 2003
Sonia Gandhi performs Puja at Shirdi temple
June 18, 2008
Sonia Gandhi’s current visits to Maharashtra and Madhya Pradesh have suddenly taken on a heavy dose of faith at a time of political uncertainty and impending elections.
In Shirdi, the Congress president stepped into the Sai Baba temple on her way to a political rally at Loni. Tomorrow at Ujjain, where she has another meeting, Sonia will drop in at the Mahakal temple.
Sonia arrived in Shirdi at noon and performed aarti*. During her 20-minute visit, the Shirdi Sai Sansthan, which runs the temple, presented her a statute of the Sai Baba and a book on his life.
Although Congress sources suggested personal faith as the motive — today happens to be the birthday of Rahul Gandhi who turns 38 — seeking the Sai Baba’s blessings for her son may not be the only reason that took Sonia to the shrine.
A Christian who was once beset by questions about her Italian birth, Sonia has often turned to temple visits to make a political point. She may have felt the need again at a time her party is deadlocked with the Left on the nuclear deal and the BJP has once more called for a Ram temple ahead of a series of elections.
Party old-timers recalled that Sonia had visited the Tirupati temple in Andhra Pradesh during the 1998 general election, soon after which the Congress Working Committee had passed a resolution that said: “Hinduism is the most effective guarantor of secularism in India.”
When the Sangh Parivar raised a furore over her “foreign origins” a decade ago, Sonia visited the Ramakrishna Mission in Delhi — a favourite spiritual refuge for Indira Gandhi — on January 12, 1999. She spent a day with Swami Gokulanandaji Maharaj, underlining her “Indianness” and her Gandhi family credentials, while doing the Congress’s Hindu vote bank no harm.
The Mahakal and Shirdi shrines rank among the highest Hindu pilgrimage centres. With elections coming up in Maharashtra and BJP-ruled Madhya Pradesh, she could not afford to ignore these temples during a political trip.
In September 1998, when Sonia chaired her party’s Panchmarhi conclave, she visited the Mahadev temple in the Madhya Pradesh town. Her next destination was the Brahma temple in Pushkar, Rajasthan.
These expressions of faith haven’t always paid off at elections. Sonia had taken the holy dip at Kumbh, Allahabad, in 2001 before the Uttar Pradesh Assembly polls.
Pictures of their leader performing the Ganga puja, Ganpati puja, Kul Devta puja and Triveni puja had gladdened Congress leaders but failed to shore up the party’s fortunes at the hustings.
*Priests and bishops who would argue that arati or aarti is an “Indian” cultural ritual would please take note that it is performed in temples to godmen and pagan deities.
Temple trips, for son & party
By Rasheed Kidwai, Ujjain/Shirdi, June 19, 2008
Sonia Gandhi visits Shirdi temple
Shirdi, June 19, 2008
Congress President Sonia Gandhi, who is on a two-day visit to Maharashtra, on Thursday visited the famous Sai Baba temple at Shirdi in Ahmednagar district.
The Congress president, who arrived at 1310 hours, went to the temple where she performed puja for 15 minutes. During her visit inside, public darshan was halted for about 90 minutes for security reasons, sources said.
The Shirdi Sai Sansthan presented her with a statute of Sai Baba and a book on his life.
This was her second visit to the temple. Earlier she visited this temple in 2002.
Sonia offers prayers at Mahakaleshwar temple
Ujjain, MP, June 20, 2008
Congress president Sonia Gandhi today offered prayers and performed rituals at the venerated Mahakaleshwar temple in this temple town. Ms Gandhi arrived here on a one-day visit via helicopter at 1145 hours. She went to the temple where she prayed for the success of her party in the forthcoming assembly elections in Madhya Pradesh. She was accompanied by State Congress president Suresh Pachouri. A replica of temple and ‘prasad’ was presented to Ms Gandhi by the Mahakaleshwar Temple Management Committee.
We have seen that, to secure certain vote banks, Sonia Gandhi visits temples, performs pujas to Hindu deities, pays homage to godmen, conducts and participates in homams [sacred offerings] and havans [fire-worship], and accepts idols of deities and statues of godmen from these temples, which she carries back into her home, ostensibly to continue to venerate and so ensure their blessings on her political ambitions.
She receives and consumes “prasad” which is food offered to idols and Hindu deities. Any Catholic in the ministries of deliverance or exorcism will confirm that possession of idols or the consumption of “prasad” by Catholics can cause the person to come under occult bondage, demonic harassment, and even possession by the devil. Such Catholics, albeit unknowingly, are violating the First Commandment of the Decalogue.
It must be clarified that if a devout Hindu worships his idols or gods or partakes of “prasad“, he is not affected in the same way because he sincerely follows the rituals of his own religion.
Below, I am reproducing an article published in the liberal Mangalorean Catholics yahoo group forum. The reason for my doing that is the few phrases/lines that I have highlighted in red and because I want to share the response that I wrote to Mangalorean Catholics — also reproduced further below — to that article.
Devil’s Advocate: Archbishop says ban Bajrang Dal
CNN IBN, September 28, 2008
Are Indian Christians insecure after the recent attacks? How does the church respond to allegations levelled against it by the Bajrang Dal? Karan Thapar raises these issues with the Archbishop of Delhi and president of National United Christian Forum Vincent Concessao.
Karan Thapar: The church, its priests and nuns, Christians are under attack in Karnataka, Orissa, Kerala, Madhya Pradesh, Chhattisgarh, Tamil Nadu, Uttarakhand and Delhi. Are you getting the felling that the church and its faith is under attack in India as a whole?
Vincent Concessao: Definitely, the church is under attack. The feeling of most of our people is that of insecurity because the government has not been able to protect them from atrocities.
Karan Thapar: So you are saying that it feels to you as if it is a nationwide phenomena.
Vincent Concessao: It is because there has been a lot of groundwork behind this-years of groundwork in spreading Hindutva.
Karan Thapar: You are saying the Christian community is actually feeling scared.
Vincent Concessao: Definitely. Because when attacks come unexpectedly-sometimes from people who are not of the place but from outside-you never know what happens next.
Karan Thapar: You mean to say that ordinary Christians are suddenly looking over their shoulders wondering when they will be the next victim.
Vincent Concessao: Precisely.
Karan Thapar: As you see it, this is a conspiracy against the Christian church and the Christian community organised by the Bajrang Dal?
Vincent Concessao: There is no doubt about it because it cannot be that all of a sudden in different places you have these attacks and atrocities.
You get crowds of people who are being organised with a purpose. You cannot get just hundreds of people together to attack innocent people unless they are organised and motivated. That is the groundwork Hindutva has done in the past several decades.
Karan Thapar: So your suspicion is aroused by the fact that this is happening geographically across the country and it is happening in a very concerted, small space of time.
Vincent Concessao: Yes, I suppose they did try this earlier but probably they now feel more confident-that with these attacks they can organise all the Hindus together against the minorities and have better political outcome from this.
Karan Thapar: Let us look at two areas where attacks on Christians have attracted most attention. Orissa Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik has said he has done everything in his government’s power to protect Christians. Do you believe him?
Vincent Concessao: Not at all. He has not done even the minimum that is required to protect the citizens. How is that people could carry on vandalising institutions and killing people for days together? And it is still happening.
Karan Thapar: You really mean it when you say that he has not done the minimum that is required.
Vincent Concessao: That is what I am saying.
Karan Thapar: So you are accusing him in a sense of dereliction of duty?
Vincent Concessao: Yes, it is the responsibility of the state government to protect all its people. That has not happened. Attacks are still continuing.
Karan Thapar: You say attacks are still continuing and no doubts there have been reports of houses and churches being burnt in the last 48 hours in Kandhamal, but two days ago Naveen Patnaik’s deputy leader in the Rajya Sabha said on TV that Orissa is on the verge of normalcy. How do you respond to that?
Vincent Concessao: I don’t know what he understands by normalcy. There are thousands still in the jungles. I don’t know how they are eating, how there medical needs are being looked after-and in this rain what suffering they are going through. They are afraid to go back to their places because their houses are no more there. They are scared of the goondas (goons) who could attack them.
Karan Thapar: Christians in Orissa are scared of their lives being lost?
Vincent Concessao: Definitely.
Karan Thapar: What about Karnataka? In Karnataka, it is reported that the police themselves attacked the churches. How do you respond to that?
Vincent Concessao: Very irresponsible behaviour. What I read from the newspapers was that these were new police officers-it is like the hedge is eating the vegetables.
Karan Thapar: In other words those who should be protecting are turning into attackers.
Vincent Concessao: Yes.
Karan Thapar: Chief Minister BS Yeddyurappa called upon the Archbishop of Bangalore and you have just returned from Bangalore. Was the explanation given to the church acceptable?
Vincent Concessao: No, the Archbishop of Bangalore was very upset, because for us the Blessed Sacrament is something precious. It is the heart of our Christian faith and when that gets desecrated anybody would be hurt. That is why he was so upset.
Karan Thapar: What more have you called upon the Karnataka government to do?
Vincent Concessao: Ban these terrorist groups, the mobs that attack small groups of minorities. Protection and security for all our people.
Karan Thapar: But at this moment Christians and the church as an institution feel unprotected in Karnataka?
Vincent Concessao: They are unprotected; they feel unprotected.
Karan Thapar: You said that you wanted the Karnataka Chief Minister to ban terrorist groups. Do you mean the Bajrang Dal?
Vincent Concessao: Yes.
Karan Thapar: Specifically, you want a ban on the Bajrang Dal?
Vincent Concessao: Bajrang Dal and even the VHP (Vishwa Hindu Parishad), which is very closely related to the Bajrang Dal.
Karan Thapar: You are calling as the Archbishop of Delhi and as the president of National United Christian Forum for a ban on the Bajrang Dal and the VHP.
Vincent Concessao: (Bajrang Dal and the) VHP because of what they have done in the last few weeks.
Karan Thapar: When you made this request to the Karnataka Chief Minister what did he say?
Vincent Concessao: I didn’t make it. The Bishop must have done it.
Karan Thapar: What reply did he get?
Vincent Concessao: I have no idea. I have not talked to him about it.
Karan Thapar: But you don’t believe that the Chief Minister is going to ban the Bajrang Dal and the VHP, do you?
Vincent Concessao: I don’t think, because it seems to some sort of collusion.
Karan Thapar: A collusion between the BJP-led Karnataka government, the Bajrang Dal and the VHP?
Vincent Concessao: Because the ideology is the same. The problem is not just some incident here and there. Behind it (attacks on churches) is a very clear ideology and strategy.
Karan Thapar: So you believe the BJP is colluding with the Bajrang Dal to attack Christians?
Vincent Concessao: That is the impression I am getting because of their not fulfilling the responsibility to protect Christians.
Karan Thapar: So you believe that today ‘the enemies of the church and the enemies of the Christian community is the BJP itself’.
Vincent Concessao: Yes, as manifested in what has happened.
Karan Thapar: You personally met both the Prime Minister and Sonia Gandhi and no doubt they are sympathetic but have they responded with the alacrity and the determination you were looking for?
Vincent Concessao: They were very sympathetic and they felt it was a shame that such things are happening in these days. They also pointed out their limitations-the question of state-Centre relationship comes in and also their dependence on other parties working in alliance with them.
Karan Thapar: It is interesting for you to say that they pointed out their limitation. I want to ask you a specific question. Do you believe that Sonia Gandhi uses her position and influence to protect and help Indian Christians, or is she reluctant to do so?
Vincent Concessao: Well, I do feel that she is concerned, but that’s another accusation that the Hindutva bodies have been leveling against her, that
because she is a Christian, she is in favour of Christians.
Karan Thapar: So you are suggesting that to protect herself against this Hindutva accusation, she actually doesn’t do as much for Christians as she could or she should?
Vincent Concessao: I think so; I think so.
Karan Thapar: Is it a fact that in January 2007 when the then Congress government in Himachal Pradesh was poised to pass an Anti-conversion Bill you wrote to Sonia Gandhi and she never responded to your letter?
Vincent Concessao: No, she did not.
Karan Thapar: Did that disappoint you?
Vincent Concessao: Well, I would say so.
Karan Thapar: Let me broaden the discussion a little. It is well understood today that Indian Muslims feel discriminated; they feel a sense of prejudice against them. That was not thought to be the case with Indian Christians. Now is it changing for Christians as well?
Vincent Concessao: Slowly it is getting into it, it is becoming more and more clear because of the non-action by responsible agencies in fulfilling their responsibility to protect and give security to our people.
Karan Thapar: So the more politicians fail to protect Christians, the more Christians feel discriminated against.
Vincent Concessao: Naturally.
Karan Thapar: Are Indians beginning to feel ill-treated, perhaps even in some places unwanted?
Vincent Concessao: I don’t think so. What is happening today is the work of a fringe group. The vast majority of our people are not against what we believe in and what we are committed to.
Karan Thapar: But if the fringe group is not checked then this could spread like a contagion?
Vincent Concessao: Definitely.
Karan Thapar: And then at that point Christians could feel discriminated, ill-treated and unwanted.
Vincent Concessao: It could be but I have a clear feeling that these fringe groups are not Hindus. Hinduism is not to be identified with Hindutva. Hindutva has its ideology from the West-from Hitler and Nazism. It has no roots in India, or in Hinduism.
Karan Thapar: In other words these fringe groups which are targeting Christians are not representative of the vast majority of Hindus.
Vincent Concessao: Not at all.
Karan Thapar: These groups may hate Christians, but you feel no such hatred from the vast majority of Hindus.
Vincent Concessao: Definitely not, they (Hindus) are far more tolerant, far more open and broad-minded.
Karan Thapar: The Bajrang Dal believes the Christian church is responsible for the defamation and vilification of Hindu Gods as contained, for example, in the book called Satyadarshini, which has created enormous offence in Karnataka. Let me ask you bluntly: is the church connected, directly or indirectly, with Satyadarshini.
Vincent Concessao: Certainly not. We respect all religions. Any literature which creates disharmony or is offends people should be avoided. We condemn such publication of literature.
Karan Thapar: I quote to you what the press claims ‘Satyadarshini’ says about Hindu Gods. It says Brahma, Vishnu and Shiva are the victims of lust. It says Vishnu’s daughter Urvashi was a prostitute. It says Krishna represents darkness, rather than light. The Bajrang Dal says this is representative of how the Christian church views the Hindu faith.
Vincent Concessao: I think it is generalisation of what somebody has written. It (Satyadarshini) is apparently the work of one man. You cannot on that account attack the Christian community.
Karan Thapar: Do you condemn such views?
Vincent Concessao: Definitely.
Karan Thapar: Unequivocally?
Vincent Concessao: Yes, yes.
Karan Thapar: Very strongly?
Vincent Concessao: Definitely.
Karan Thapar: Do you disassociate the church from such views completely?
Vincent Concessao: Yes, we respect all religions. Our thinking maybe different and we differ. That is part of human life, particularly different points of view.
Karan Thapar: Do you subscribe to such views?
Vincent Concessao: No, if any literature disrespects other religions and is a cause of disharmony then it is to be condemned.
Karan Thapar: The problem is that the author of Satyadarshini is Rev. P Suryanarayan and the book says it was revised by Rev S Mallikat. Both of those are members of the Christian clergy.
Vincent Concessao: Could be, could be.
Karan Thapar: So isn’t there a Christian connection, a church connection with this book.
Vincent Concessao: When you speak of Christian clergy, then it is not one large organisation throughout the world. There are there different churches; some of them have different emphasis on different things. Maybe they are clergymen but not associated with all the churches.
Karan Thapar: Are they associated with the Catholic Church, which is your church?
Vincent Concessao: I don’t think.
Karan Thapar: Do you think whichever church they are associated with that church should take disciplinary action against them?
Vincent Concessao: If they belong to a church the church will. But if they belong to another group, even though they are Christians they don’t come under the church’s jurisdiction.
Karan Thapar: Do you think the other group should take action against them?
Vincent Concessao: They should.
Karan Thapar: The problem is this is not the first time such defamatory literature about Hindu Gods or the Hindu faith has been released. Earlier, as you perhaps know an organisation or a church calling itself the Southern Baptist which has released pamphlets where they spoke of the hopeless and darkness of Hinduism. They called for Christ’s salvation in Kolkata. Then again that was widely perceived as an insult to the Hindu faith. If these don’t reflect the views of right-thinking Christians like yourself, why do these views kept getting published and released?
Vincent Concessao: This is a religious matter. You have no control over all those who claim to be Christians. Definitely our position is of respect for all people.
Karan Thapar: Are the authors of such pamphlets rogue Christians so to say?
Vincent Concessao: I do not know these people. They maybe misguided, maybe their interpretation is too narrow and maybe they are not able to see the good things in other religions.
Karan Thapar: But you disassociate unequivocally yourself from such people?
Vincent Concessao: With such literature.
Karan Thapar: Another area which leads to controversy is the belief that the Christian church exploits the illiteracy and poverty of Indians to seek converts? I fully accept that you don’t indulge in forced conversion but does the Catholic Church use its good work in schools, hospitals and leprosy missions to seek converts.
Vincent Concessao: This is a clear case of projection of these people on us. Their way of thinking is that. They do service in order to get some benefits-votes or whatever-and they think we also do the same. It is not correct. We serve because we are Christians.
Karan Thapar: You are saying to me categorically the work you do in schools, hospitals or leprosy missions is not connected with the desire to seek converts.
Vincent Concessao: If they turn to us and accept our faith we are happy, but the purpose is not there. The purpose is our love for God has to be manifested in our love for our neighbour.
Karan Thapar: I accept what you are saying but in 1956 the Neogi Committee in Madhya Pradesh established that the church used the work it did in schools, hospitals and leprosy missions to seek converts.
Vincent Concessao: No, it could be they worked and there were converts. But where does the linkage come. How did they know what the motivation was?
Karan Thapar: You dispute the claim that there is a linkage and a motivation?
Vincent Concessao: Definitely.
Karan Thapar: And people who suggest that are the ones who are mistaken?
Vincent Concessao: I think so. We do not serve in order to get converts. We serve because of our own commitment to Christ and our faith.
Karan Thapar: Let us come to the Christian faith in conversion. India is a multi-religious country and conversion has become a sensitive issue. Can you agree that in the bigger, wider issue of India’s interest to a moratorium on conversions for 10-15 years so that the atmosphere calms down and the present tension diminishes?
Vincent Concessao: This proposal comes from a misunderstanding of conversion. You cannot convert anybody and forcible conversion is a contradiction in terms. If there is force there is no conversion. Hindutva bodies are doing this and they think we are also doing it. We are not doing it, because we believe that forced conversion is invalid.
Karan Thapar: I accept there is no forced conversion. I accept conversions only happen voluntarily but conversions have become an issue that lead to passion and emotion. Therefore, I say to you again in the wider interests of India’s unity and integrity why not place a moratorium on conversions for 10-15 years. I am not saying give up the right to convert but don’t exercise it till passions cool down.
Vincent Concessao: Whom are you stopping from exercising their freedom? Not us (but) the person who wants to become a Christian. You are restricting his freedom and that freedom has been given to him by the Constitution. By saying this you are communicating a misconception of conversion. Conversion for me is the free exercise of the freedom of conscience given to us by the Constitution.
Karan Thapar: Is conversion or the right to convert more important to the church than the unity and integrity of India?
Vincent Concessao: Both are important.
Karan Thapar: You won’t choose between them?
Vincent Concessao: If you are limiting the freedom of the people to choose a religion they want, you are denying them their freedom. How do you expect unity to then come? Freedom is for all. This is the misunderstanding that has been repeatedly communicated to the people-this is creating problem. It is not conversion but a distorted understanding of conversion that the believers of Hindutva have propagated for the last 80 years or so.
Karan Thapar: Archbishop Concessao, a pleasure talking to you.
This is my letter, copy to Archbishop Vincent Concessao of Delhi, published in Mangalorean Catholics:
Sent: Monday, September 29, 2008 8:24 PM Subject: Devil’s Advocate: Archbishop says ban Bajrang Dal
Devil’s Advocate: Archbishop says ban Bajrang Dal
Posted By: michaelprabhu Mon Sep 29, 2008 2:54 pm
I have one problem with this interview: the Archbishop’s describing Mrs. Sonia Gandhi as a Christian. She is not.
Admittedly she was baptized Catholic. But she is not even a lapsed Catholic or a non-practising Catholic. She is a practising, believing Hindu. I can offer pages of documentary evidence and Scripture quotations to support my statement. The Church has refused a Christian burial to people for less, but then they were not Sonia Gandhi.
I trust that the Archbishop, now retired, will not disassociate himself from the contents of this present report when I send a copy of it to him, and that the Hindutva brigade will not construe this report as an attack on Hindus, as it is not.
In the Holy Bible, God reveals himself in his plan of human salvation and enjoins Jewish and Christian believers to remain pure, holy and faithful to Him and Him alone, under pain of eternal spiritual death. When baptized Christians invoke or worship “other gods”, they automatically incur that eternal spiritual death penalty. This ministry only seeks to remind Christians, Catholics specifically, of that truth.
The Catholic Church does NOT, I repeat, does NOT teach that sincere Hindus — or believers of other non-Christian religions — are evil or eternally condemned.
The present report concerns Sonia Gandhi, born and baptized Catholic, who has abjured her Catholic faith for Hinduism, but who some Catholics as well as Hindus continue to consider as Christian, whereas she is NOT!!
Below, I am reproducing an article published in the Konkani Catholics yahoo group forum. The reason for my doing that is because I want to share the response — also reproduced further below — that I wrote to Konkani Catholics using the pseudonym Prem Mathias, to that article.
Posted By: a_crasta
Thu Dec 17, 2009 5:02 pm
How Christian is Sonia Gandhi?
By C.T. Nilesh, December 16, 2009
Hindu extremists accuse her of being a “Vatican spy”, but the chairperson of the ruling UPA party coalition is very reserved about her religion. Unlike other women who were widowed by terrorism, she has rejected vengeance against those who killed her husband Rajiv; like Gladys Staines who forgave Dara Singh, the extremist responsible for burning her husband and two children to death.
To ask how Christian is a person is surely a provocative and impertinent question. First of all, because nobody has the right to judge another person and second, because there are hardly any criteria to measure the religiosity of a person*. Nevertheless, recent and past events give us a chance to look into this question.
Sonia Maino, born and grown up in Italy, a Catholic country, met in England her future husband, Rajiv Gandhi, student and the first son of Indira Gandhi, the then Prime Minister of India. While she was simply one of the daughters-in-law of the Prime Minister, nobody bothered to remark her origin and her religious connections. However, when Rajiv Gandhi became Prime Minister, after the assassination of the mother in 1984, then the Sangh Parivar started worrying about the possible religious connections of Sonia and her influence on Indian affairs. They called her the spy of the Vatican and saw in her the beginning of the conversion of the whole India. This aggressiveness made her over-conscious of the implication of her Italian and Catholic origin and she never appeared practicing any Christian devotion in public or making any religious statement. Also at the state funeral of Mother Teresa, when Communion was offered to all the Catholics, she abstained.
On the contrary, LK Advani, leader of the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), freely proclaims his esteem of Jesus Christ. Invited in November for the Golden Jubilee of the Archdiocese of Delhi he said, “I revere Jesus Christ for his message of universal peace and brotherhood. I deeply value the contribution of our Christian brethren”.
The situation of Sonia became more difficult after the assassination of her husband by the Tamil terrorists in 1991. Immediately after that, she refused to enter the political arena and left the government in the hand of Narasimha Rao, a Congress leader, which was followed by the government of opposition party, Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP). Then she accepted the chairmanship of the Congress Party and was able to bring it back to govern India in 2004.
Rajiv and Sonia got two children: Raul [sic], that seems to be the natural political heir of the dynasty, he is still bachelor, and Priyanka who got married to a Protestant Christian and they have two children.
The recent events that can make us think happened on the anniversary of terror attack in Mumbai. Three days before the first anniversary, Kavita Karkare and Smita Salaskar, wives of the slain Mumbai Anti-Terrorism Squad chief Hemant
Karkare and encounter specialist Vijay Salaskar respectively, met UPA (United Progressive Alliance, the coalition at the government) chairperson Sonia Gandhi at her residence. After the meeting, the two widows told the media that Ajmal
Kasab, the lone surviving captured terrorist, should be hanged.
“It was difficult to overlook the paradox of that meeting”, wrote Monobina Gupta.
Here were three widows – wives of two policemen and Sonia Gandhi herself- each had been a victim of unbridled violence fuelled by revenge. Each had suffered tragically. Karkare and Salaskar said the conversation was personal and they reiterated to Gandhi that “families of the victims and those of the martyrs wanted Kasab hanged”.
Few will forget how Sonia Gandhi, after losing her husband in a cold-blooded terrorist assassination, granted clemency to Nalini, the assassin. She had Nalini’s death sentence commuted to life imprisonment. Like Kasab, Nalini was the sole surviving conspirator of the five-member squad responsible for the Rajiv Gandhi’s murder. Compassion for Nalini’s five-year-old daughter had clearly taken precedence over Sonia’s personal longing for retributive justice.
Priyanka Gandhi was in her teens when her father was blown up. Seventeen years on, treading in her mother footsteps, she went to meet Nalini in the prison to “come to term with the violence haunting the entire family”. Later she said, “I don’t believe in anger, hatred and violence. And refuse to allow it to overpower my life.”
Another beautiful example of Christian forgiveness is the one of Gladys Staines who forgave Dara Singh, the man who torched to death her missionary husband Graham Staines and their two young sons while they were asleep in the jeep.
“Was it her religious faith or her gender that made her so brave?” asks Monobina Gupta. Gladys gave the answer on several occasions, saying that Christians can be recognized when, like Jesus on the cross, they forgive their tormentors.
*Mr. C.T. Nilesh’s question followed by the statement is based on ignorance of the Catholic faith and of the Holy Bible; so, it is pointless my attempting to answer him here.
Re: How Christian is Sonia Gandhi? by C. T. Nilesh
Prem Mathias Sat Dec 19, 2009 3:03 am
The picture of Sonia that accompanied the asianews report shows her with red vermillion Hindu markings spread across her forehead.
In the New Leader (a Catholic fortnightly) July 16-31, 2004 there was an article ‘Sonia and her children don’t practice’, by one E. F. Noronha, and a letter in the issue of August 16-31 agreeing with him.
What the writers were saying is that the Gandhi family practices astrology and adheres to all Hindu customs and worship.
In those circumstances, would they still be Catholic, even Christian?
If either of you both or I were living like that, would you think me a Mangalorean CATHOLIC (except by my birth or baptism)?
I cannot agree with the finality of Nilesh’s opening question and statement, quote To ask how Christian is a person is surely a provocative and impertinent question. First of all, because nobody has the right to judge another person and second, because there are hardly any criteria to measure the religiosity of a person. Unquote
Is it not correct that we CAN judge a person fairly, based on his or her public statements and lifestyle if consistent over a long period of time with nothing to suggest otherwise?
Remember that American bishops are refusing Communion to those Catholics in PUBLIC life who oppose pro-life.
I mean, if one were a Christian or Catholic, it should show sometime, somewhere.
Every Christian is a witness to Jesus Christ. Every true Christian is a fifth gospel.
What we CANNOT judge is if a person is ultimately saved or not.
By the way, I am sure that there are many Hindu and Muslim brothers and sisters who practice the forgiveness of the Staines widow as well as Sonia. Forgiveness is not exclusive to Christianity.
The same C.T. Nilesh article at speroforum.com had one terse anonymous comment:
India: How Christian is Sonia Gandhi?
This article is b***s***. Sonia left Christianity years ago – when she ditched the Church for the Nehru-Gandhi crores. She married outside the Church and neither of her kids was baptized into it. The press and the VHP/RSS/BJP/etc. have to stop pretending that she’s a Christian. She worships only money. –Annoyed Indian Catholic
Catholic Christian Sonia Gandhi making holy dip at Ganges
In 1999, Sonia Gandhi visited the famed Hindu shrine at Tirupati amid a blaze of publicity. There is nothing wrong with any politician choosing to do so. But many people thought it offensive that she, a practicing Catholic, would enter a place that is, strictly speaking, forbidden to non-Hindus.
Worse, when one of the priests chose to ask her about this — as he was legally entitled to do — he was brushed aside by Rajasekhara Reddy, the prospective Congress chief minister of Andhra Pradesh in the election that was coming up. (As everybody in Andhra Pradesh knows, Reddy too is a Christian despite the name.)
This led to a flurry of debate, not least on the Internet. Many people were offended by Reddy’s reported assertion that nobody could question her credentials, as Sonia Gandhi was a member of the Nehru-Gandhi clan. If this was a true report, I am intrigued to note that Reddy was implicitly associating ‘Hindu’ with ‘Indian!’
This, I suppose, is an exercise in ‘secularism’. And so it is, come to think of it, in the proper sense of the word, ‘secular’ means worldly, something or someone removed from the purely spiritual. Sonia Gandhi’s reasons — by implication those of the Congress — are purely worldly. She is doing precisely what she accuses the Bharatiya Janata Party of doing — mixing religion with politics. May I note in passing that the ‘secular’ media has been unusually quiet on this aspect?
Of course, I can understand why people in general visit Prayag in such numbers. This is a special occasion, a Kumbh Mela that began with a lunar eclipse. Such an event shall not take place again for 144 years. And in the wake of the pilgrim, the researcher and the reporter are bound to follow. (I wish that the latter two weren’t quite so keen to sensationalise, but that is another story.) I cannot, however, remember Sonia Gandhi displaying any interest in Hinduism, in scholarship in general, or in journalism.
What the Congress president has done is a complete fraud from beginning to end. It is a cheap attempt to win votes. Yet it is, of course, all in the finest traditions of the Congress. When V P Singh stood from Allahabad as the joint nominee of the Opposition, the Rajiv Gandhi administration brought the troupe of Ramanand Sagar’s television serial Ramayana to campaign.
The late prime minister Mr Rajiv Gandhi himself inaugurated his election schedule from Ayodhya in 1989, with a promise of ‘Ram Rajya’. The media would have lambasted the Bharatiya Janata Party had one of its leaders tried these tactics. Rajiv Gandhi and his Italian wife are luckier.
Truth be told, I am more than little sceptical not just about Sonia Gandhi’s interest in the Kumbh Mela, but her professed love for India itself. I recall that some television reporter asked Priyanka Vadra why her mother had taken so long to adopt Indian citizenship. The princess of 10, Janpath replied that it was only natural if someone took five or six years to make such an important decision.
This was a misleading response. Sonia Gandhi didn’t take five years, but closer to fifteen. There is plenty of evidence that in her early years in Delhi, Sonia Gandhi had more European friends than Indian. (This list included Ottavio Quattrocchi and his wife, and Satish Sharma’s Dutch bride.)
But forget all that, the Congress boss’s attempt to curry favour by visiting Prayag isn’t just ‘secular,’ remember it is the single greatest gathering of humanity in one place at one time. The local administration is under immense pressure to ensure that everything goes smoothly. The biggest rush is expected to take place on January 24 — the day of Mauni Amavaasya. And now here was Sonia Gandhi throwing careful plans into disarray just two days before that!
The Congress president is entitled to Special Protection Group guards. As irritated Delhiites shall attest, this level of protection means inconvenience to everybody else, with the roads being cleared for the lady. Going to Prayag was nothing more than a way to irritate the genuine pilgrims. In effect, they were being asked to keep away from the sacred waters so that a silly politician could hog the cameras!
Christians threaten to withdraw support for ruling party
November 19, 2009
– Dalit Christians at the rally protesting government denial of privileges to former low caste Christians and Muslims
– Archbishop Malayappan Chinnappa of Madras-Mylapore addressed the dalit rally in New Delhi
NEW DELHI (UCAN) — Some Church leaders say Christians need to review their support for the ruling Congress party which they claim is ignoring their demands for quotas in education and government jobs for marginalized people.
“We have supported the Congress party since the 1950s, believing it would support us. But nothing has happened,” says Archbishop Malayappan Chinnappa of Madras-Mylapore.
He was among some 2,000 Christians from all over India who converged on New Delhi on Nov. 18 to pressure the federal government to provide quotas in government jobs and educational institutions for Christian and Muslim dalit people (former “untouchables” in the Indian caste system).
Several bishops from various denominations and scores of Muslims also joined a sit-in demonstration at Jantar Mantar, a downtown area near the parliament building designated for demonstrations. The protest took place a day before parliament began its winter session.
The National Council for Dalit Christians (NCDS), an ecumenical forum, organized the protest along with the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of India and the National Council of Churches in India, the national association of Protestant and Orthodox Churches in the country.
The dalit have been socially discriminated against and oppressed for centuries. The Indian Constitution in 1950 listed them as “Scheduled Castes” eligible for privileges to help their socioeconomic advancement. However, successive governments have denied these privileges to low-caste Christians and Muslims, saying that their religions do not recognize the caste system. Christians say this violates the constitution, which prohibits religion-based discrimination.
The demonstrators demanded the government raise in parliament recommendations from its own commission that studied the matter. The commission headed by Justice Ranganath Mishra recommended in 2007 extending quotas to Christian and Muslim dalit.
Archbishop Chinnappa told UCA News the Congress party’s treatment of Christians has upset the community. “We have to act in a different way in the next election,” said the dalit prelate from Tamil Nadu, southern India.
Father Roby Kolenchery from Jalandhar diocese in Punjab said Christians should look to other political parties for support. “The Congress party has taken us for granted,” he told the gathering.
Archbishop Marampudi Joji of Hyderabad, another dalit prelate, said he holds Congress party president Sonia Gandhi responsible for the lack of action. “She is afraid of criticism from Hindus,” he told UCA News. Hindu radicals have often criticized the Italian-born widow of slain Indian Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi.
Sonia Gandhi’s Christmas & Obama’s Christianity
Nobody has seen Sonia Gandhi visiting a Church in Delhi to attend Sunday Mass. Neither anybody has seen Sonia Gandhi celebrating Christmas or Easter. The case of Sonia Gandhi is similar to Barack Obama. Nobody knows whether Obama is a Christian or Muslim and nobody knows whether Sonia Gandhi is Catholic or a non-catholic…
Sent By Gabriel D’Souza
Congress dismisses reference to Sonia as Christian
March 24, 2011
The Congress on Thursday dismissed as “irrelevant” questions on the religion of Congress president Sonia Gandhi in the wake of a reported reference to her as a Christian by the Indian Ambassador to the US Meera Shankar.
“This is an irrelevant question. She (Sonia) is a proud Indian and a proud president of a political party, which has a long history of Indian heritage,” party spokesperson Abhishek Singhvi told reporters.
He was responding to questions about the Indian envoy’s reference to Sonia as “a Christian as the leader of the largest national political party” of the country made in US.
A newspaper has reported that Shankar delivered a speech at a US university on February 24 referring to Sonia Gandhi as being a Christian as a testament to Indian pluralism and diversity.
SONIA GANDHI’S CHURCH & BOLLYWOOD VENOM & CHRISTIAN LIBERATION MOVEMENT
Subject: [Goanet] SONIA GANDHI’S CHURCH & BOLLYWOOD VENOM & CHRISTIAN LIBERATION MOVEMENT
Sonia Gandhi is not just a politician, she is also the president of the cash rich congress party and also the chairperson of the UPA which is now stuck up in various scams. Being a public figure it is the right of Indian citizens especially Catholics to know which religion Sonia Gandhi belongs to. So far the Indian News media has not published any photo of Sonia Gandhi visiting any church in Delhi neither the media has published any photo of Sonia Gandhi praying near the statue of Jesus Christ or Mother Mary neither any photo of her celebrating Christmas or Easter. It is unlikely Sonia Gandhi is a catholic.
The Right wing Hindu groups have been brainwashing Hindus into believing that if Sonia Gandhi becomes the Prime Minister of India then Catholics in India will get jobs in senior positions in all Government departments. This is false propaganda of the right wing Hindu groups. A lady who does not visit church who does not pray in front of statues of Jesus Christ & Mother Mary and who does not celebrate Christmas & Easter how can Catholics in India benefit from such a lady?
Mike Fernandes, Mumbai, Maharashtra
After the Shirdi Sai Baba, it is the Puttaparthi Sathya Sai Baba:
Sai Baba’s life inspired people: Sonia Gandhi
New Delhi, April 24, 2011
Congress president Sonia Gandhi Sunday expressed her condolences to the devotees of Sathya Sai Baba who passed away earlier in the day.
“I am pained at the demise of Puttaparthi Sai Baba. He was a spiritual person whom millions followed. His life has inspired people in the country and abroad towards spirituality and religion,” Gandhi said in a statement released here.
“In addition, the institutions he created for social benefits will be remembered for long. The vacuum created by his death is uncommon. At this sad moment I express my heartfelt condolence to his devotees,” she said. […]
Sathya Sai Baba, one of India’s most famous spiritual leaders with millions of followers in the country and abroad, died at Puttaparthi in Andhra Pradesh Sunday morning after a prolonged illness. He was 85.
Prime Minister, Sonia Gandhi pay homage to Sathya Sai Baba
Puttaparthi, April 26, 2011
Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and Congress President Sonia Gandhi today joined thousands of mourners in paying homage to godman Sathya Sai Baba, who will be interred here tomorrow morning after a state funeral.
Last glimpse of Sathya Sai Baba of Sathya Sai Baba
April 26, 2011
Congress president Sonia Gandhi walks in to pay her last respects to Sri Sathya Sai Baba in Puttaparthi.
Singh, Sonia bow before Baba
April 27, 2011 […]
Sonia Gandhi gets saree, shawl as gifts from seer
Naheed Ataulla, TNN Apr 28, 2012
Tumkur: It will be a gift which AICC president Sonia Gandhi will treasure all her life as it was given by the 105 year old seer of Siddaganga mutt Sri Shivakumara Swamiji.
In the presence of near two lakh devotees and VIPs, the seer gifted Sonia a silk saree worth Rs one lakh and a shawl estimated to cost Rs 15,000. It did not stop at that. A sandalwood garland, a memento and a bowl of fruits were also given.
Sonia was at the mutt for the Guruvandana (thanks giving) of the pontiff who completed 105 years on April 1. She arrived at the mutt at 11.37 am and sought the blessing of the seer in his room. The meeting between the Congress president and the revered seer of the Lingayat mutt lasted for five minutes.
The Guruvandana commenced at 11.45 am and lasted till 1.10 pm.
Sonia, Modi and the Swami
By HARESH PANDYA, October 9, 2012
Swami Vivekananda, a monk widely credited for raising global awareness of Hinduism and yoga more than a century ago, has become an unlikely touchstone in the run-up to the closely watched Gujarat elections.
On Oct. 3, Sonia Gandhi visited the Swami’s Ramakrishna Ashram, in Rajkot, Gujarat, just before addressing a massive political rally. There, she prostrated herself before a statue of the swami’s guru, said prayers and received blessings from the monks. Mrs. Gandhi afterward told an ashram leader, “I’ve deep faith.” […]
Bhadrayu Vachharajani, director of the Academic Staff College at Saurashtra University in Rajkot… said, “She simply went to Ramakrishna Ashram, like any common visitor, bowed her head before the presiding deity, offered prayers and then went to address a rally.”
Swami Vivekananda, a monk in saffron with a trademark turban, was the foremost disciple of Ramakrishna Paramhamsa, a famed mystic of 19th century India who was believed to represent the true meaning of the religion, encompassing love, brotherhood and compassion without dogma or rituals. Swami Vivekananda preached to India’s youth when the country was a colony of the British, telling them, “Arise, awake and stop not till the goal is reached.” He is credited with bringing yoga to the West…
Mrs. Gandhi’s recent visit to the ashram, which was built in 1927, follows in the footsteps of many Indian politicians. Mohandas K. Gandhi, President Sarvepalli Radhakrishnan, President Rajendra Prasad and many other dignitaries have also graced it with their visits. Congress Party officials say there is no hidden message in her visit.
“The Gandhi family members have been devotees of Swami Ramakrishna Paramahansa and Swami Vivekananda” for many years, said Mr. Modhwadia. Indira Gandhi was a regular visitor to his ashrams through India, he said. “In fact, it is Modi who has carried out a political yatra in the sacred name of Vivekananda.”
During her visit, Sonia Gandhi “came like any common devotee and pilgrim and no special treatment was given her,” said Swami Sarvasthanand, the current chief of the ashram, in an interview.
He said Mrs. Gandhi told him, “I often go to Belur Math for darshan,” or the beholding of a deity. “I’ve deep faith.” Belur Math, the headquarters of Ramakrishna Mission, on the western bank of the Hooghly near Kolkata, is where Swami Vivekananda spent his last days.
Swami Sarvasthananda gifted a photograph to Mrs. Gandhi as a memento on behalf of the ashram. […]
Mangalore: Sonia Gandhi Inaugurates Kudroli Temple Centenary Celebrations
October 18, 2012
The centenary celebrations of Kudroli Shri Gokarnanatheshwara Temple and Dasara festivities were inaugurated by Congress national president Sonia Gandhi at the Temple premises here on Thursday October 18. Sonia Gandhi inaugurated the celebrations first by unveiling the plaque and then by symbolically handing over the Billawa community flag to Kudroli Temple committee president H S Sairam. Addressing the gathering, Sonia said, “I am privileged to be in this most sacred place. I am also happy because my late husband (Rajiv Gandhi) was here before to inaugurate the renovated Kudroli Temple years ago.”
Extolling the teachings of Sri Narayana Guru, she said, “Sri Narayana Guru was a great philosopher and social reformer whose thoughts had influenced Mahatma Gandhi, Pandit Nehru and Rabindranath Tagore. He constructed many temples in Kerala and Mangalore too is influenced by his teachings.” She further said, “He was also a social reformer whose ideology eradicated discrimination and brought people of all walks of life to the mainstream. “His philosophy of ‘one caste, one religion and one god’ is still present amongst us, and Kudroli Temple has preserved this philosophy with great sanctity, which attracts people from all corners. Kudroli Temple is the symbol of social harmony,” she said. […] Sonia further spoke on Sri Narayana Guru and said that he established many educational institutions and that people of all faiths follow him.
“Let us re-dedicate ourselves to this place,” she declared. […]
Sonia Gandhi was presented with an idol of Radha-Krishna by Poojary on the occasion.
Earlier, Sonia offered puja in the Temple and inaugurated the Dasara festivities in the hall where the Navadurge idols are installed. She was honoured with a shawl.
Rajya Sabha MP Oscar Fernandes and his wife Blossom… and others were present. […]
As I commented earlier, Hindu outfits continue to insist on seeing her as a Christian threat to Hinduism:
Sonia and Rahul Gandhi to visit Kumbh Mela!
Prayagaraj (UP), January 31, 2013
Paush Krushnapaksha 4,Kaliyug Varsha 5114
Hindus, strike down the plan of Sonia Gandhi to interfere in the process of Hindu unity!
In the ongoing Kumbh Mela, Dharmacharyas (High priests of Dharma), Mahamandaleshwars, Saints, and Sages are frankly expressing their views from the dais on the burning topics concerning Hindu Dharma such as cow-slaughter, pollution of river Ganga, conversion of Hindus, abiding by Dharma, invasion of western culture etc. Religious parliament is being organised all over to engage into a debate over above topics. As a result of such activities, Congress party is getting extremely restless. Therefore, Congress President Mrs. Sonia Gandhi along with Rahul Gandhi will be participating in Kumbh Mela. (Congress party, which is constantly inflicting injustice on the majority of Hindus for the sake of vote-bank of minorities, fears challenge from the unity of Hindus. Therefore, Congress President Mrs. Sonia Gandhi has hatched a conspiracy to interfere in the process of Hindu unity; Hindus should destroy this conspiracy! – Editor SP)
Sonia Gandhi will be arriving in Kumbh city in the first week of February. At that time, she will make it a point to meet Shankaracharya Swami Swarupanand Saraswati of Sharadapith, Shankaracharya Swami Nishchalanand Saraswati of Jyotishpith. She will also meet other Mahamandaleshwars and Heads of Akhadas. As per the discussions being held in Kumbh city, tour of Mrs. Sonia Gandhi in Kumbh city seems purely of a political nature.
Saints and Sages are educating people in a very impressive manner over the topics such as extreme harm being caused to Hindu Dharma, decline of Hindu Dharma at the political level. At least one religious parliament or Convention of Saints is being organised every week in the Kumbh Mela to deliberate on above subjects. As a result, crores of Hindu devotees visiting Kumbh Mela are seriously introspecting. There is a strong possibility that the effect of all above activities will result in formation of vote-bank of Hindus. Especially, Vishva Hindu Parishad has organised, during 5th to 7th February, Religious Parliament, Convention of Saints, and International meet to discuss the burning issues before Hindu Dharma, which will positively affect the unity among Hindus. In order to create obstacles in this process, Mrs. Sonia Gandhi has purposefully chosen the same period for her visit to Kumbh city, as per the opinion expressed in political circles.
Source: Dainik Sanatan Prabhat
Some devotees of [Sri Sathya Sai] Baba
February 23, 2013
…Sonia Gandhi, daughter in law of Indira Gandhi…
Sonia Gandhi at Prachin Shiv Mandir, Kathgarh
Sonia Gandhi performing abhishekam and worshipping the Shiva Linga
Hindi newspaper apologises to Christians over cartoon of Mary
The New Leader, June 16-30, 2004 EXTRACT
Dainik Hindustan, one of India’s largest circulated Hindi newspapers, has published a front-page apology to the country’s Christian community for printing a computer cartoon depicting Sonia Gandhi as the Virgin Mary with the new Prime Minister, Dr. Manmohan Singh, as baby Jesus in her arms in its edition of 23 May.
Hindi newspaper apologises to Christians over cartoon of Mary
The New Leader, June 16-30, 2004
In a statement issued by the Catholics Bishops’ Conference of India (CBCI), it states that it strongly “protests against the insulting publicity” by Dainik Hindustan which has hurt the sentiments of the Christian community. “The Christian community expresses its strong condemnation of the digital picture published on the front page of the newspaper on 23 May ’04 where Sonia Gandhi is depicted as Mother Mary and Manmohan Singh as Baby Jesus. The Catholics all over the world have a special devotion to Blessed Mother Mary and together with Child Jesus, the icon of the Virgin Mary is specially revered and honoured.
The Catholics Bishops’ Conference of India (CBCI), the apex body of the Catholic Church, “is saddened by the whole episode because this particular picture has deeply hurt the religious feelings of the members of the Catholic Church. The whole episode has given a distorted picture to the readers by the newspaper Dainik Hindustan, which was totally unwarranted and objectionable. We urge the media to keep politics to the sphere of politics only and not give a religious twist to political personalities and events”, said the CBCI. –Dr [Fr.] Babu Joseph
The following article was reproduced in The Examiner of March 31, 2007. It was the Guest editorial in The New Leader of April 16-30, 2007:
Sonia, Secularism & India’s Christians
By Karan Thapar, March 17, 2007
No longer the summer capital, Simla, for all we hear or care about what happens there, could be another country. Even those who visit as tourists don’t bother about the politics of Himachal. For most of us the state is so small it simply doesn’t count. Yet unbeknownst to many, an event has occurred that could change the way we think of the ruling Congress party and, I dare say, Sonia Gandhi. I only hope it is not a herald of worse to come.
Last month, the Governor signed into law the Himachal Pradesh Freedom of Religion Act. Despite that misleading title, it’s an anti-conversion Bill identical to what BJP governments have passed in Rajasthan and Gujarat. In her time, Jayalalithaa passed a similar law in Tamil Nadu before repealing it by ordinance.
The Act criminalises all forced and fraudulent conversions although, like its BJP counterparts, its silent about re-conversions. The problem is such conversions are already illegal under existing laws. There was no need for further legislation. Secondly, Himachal only has 10,000 Christians out of a population of 64 lakh. That’s 0.001 per cent!
So what will this Act achieve? It won’t stop forced or fraudulent conversions because there isn’t any happening to stop. But what it will do is suggest to non-Christians that 10,000 Himachal Christians have been indulging in illegal conversion activities. The Act targets them by branding them with guilt. It points fingers at them. It demonises them.
If you ask me, the intention behind this Act is obvious. The Himachal Congress Party, which faces elections next March, is pandering to Hindu votes by borrowing BJP policies. To corroborate this interpretation, I’m told the chief minister introduced the measure after a BJP MLA tried to do the same thing through a private member’s Bill. Equally significantly, all the amendments tabled by the BJP were accepted and passed.
Now the critical question is: was Sonia Gandhi aware this was happening? Read on and judge for yourself.
The Act was passed by the Himachal Assembly in December. It was only signed into law in February. In the interim the Christian community lobbied Sonia Gandhi to repeal or, at least, withhold the measure. They did so in unequivocal terms.
Archbishop Concessao wrote: “This is certainly the last thing that the citizens, particularly the minorities, expected from the Congress … (it) contradicts the integrity and the stand of Congress on this issue”. In his letter Abraham Mathai, the vice president of the Maharashtra Minorities Commission, said: “I request you to use your good offices with the Himachal Pradesh government to withdraw this Bill which seeks to strangulate the spirit of freedom.”
In fact, such appeals should have been unnecessary. In July 2006, when John Dayal of the All India Christian Council wrote to Sonia Gandhi about the anti-conversion acts passed by BJP governments, she replied: “The Congress party’s views on this are well-known. However these are enactments passed by state legislatures where the Congress is in Opposition. The Congress has opposed them strongly.”
Yet what did Sonia Gandhi do? First, she ignored the letters. Neither the Archbishop nor Dr Mathai have received replies. Second, she did not intervene. Consequently three weeks or so later the Governor signed the Bill into law.
I’m not surprised Indian Christians feel doubly betrayed. First they feel let down by Congress. Do you remember how the party protested when the BJP — or Jayalalithaa — passed similar laws? Yet today it’s turned turtle and done the same thing itself. Second, if Sonia Gandhi, who was a born Catholic in a Catholic country, fails to respond to the desperate pleas of Indian Christians can you doubt they will feel additionally insecure and vulnerable?
The paradox is Sonia Gandhi has shown that Congress critics could be correct. They’ve always claimed the party’s secularism is simply a cloak of convenience. After all, they argue, it was Congress that opened the doors of the Babri Masjid, began the ’89 campaign offering Ram Rajya and promised to create a Christian state in Mizoram. The party preaches secularism but often acts with sectarian motives in mind. The Himachal anti-conversion law fits into this practice.
But I have a further niggling doubt. These days Sonia Gandhi calls herself a Hindu. She’s distanced herself from Italy and Christianity. She’s even told La Republica [sic] she can’t remember her mother tongue. So, in her eyes, is this the proper way for a homegrown Indian politician to behave?