Archive for the ‘English and Christianity’ Category

A news item today (September 26, 2014) says that Modi was in the US in the early nineties out to spread the Sangh Parivar’s gospel! Was it the Parivar’s claim that it held the sole monopoly for ‘salvation’ and that its god was the only true god while others worshipped demons (which, by the way, is the doctrine of evangelical Christianity)? The easy conflation of the Sangh Parivar’s ideology – which includes respect for all religions – with the gospels and all that they have been made to stand for comes out of the superficial use of English as well as it’s Christian underpinnings.

When Gandhi came to meet Nehru in Allahabad in 1916, peasants came along to share their tales of oppression with him. Nehru describes them thus – ‘‘They looked on us with loving and hopeful eyes, as if we were the bearers of good tidings, the guides who would lead them to the promised land’’.

Ah, the promised land which Moses supposedly promised to the hundreds of thousands of Israelites as he led them out of Egypt! The poor Indian farmers, who might have thought of Ram Rajya while approaching Gandhi are transformed into members of a desert clan seeking the Promised Land! But how else could an Anglophile who spent most of his formative years studying at Harrow, Trinity college, Cambridge and the Inner Temple, look upon them?  He described himself as a  ‘queer mixture of East and West, out of place everywhere, at home nowhere’. No wonder he imposed the charter myth of Israel on unsuspecting Indian peasants!

Well, the Mani Shanker Aiyar types may jump up from their Macaulayan holes and claim that a turn of phrase is being made much of. But, ultimately,  turns of phrase may signify turns of history; when non-resistance to evil is seen only in terms of the Biblical turning of the other cheek rather than the Hindu experience of the immanence of god or the Buddha’s humanism.

With English, almost everything gets a Christian turn. Somebody is not given a name, he is christened though he may have nothing to do with the Saviour and the agenda of being saved!  Re-christening too follows, sometimes. And when somebody is taught the ropes of a subject or an art, he is not just initiated into it, or just taught, he is baptized into it.

Rajiv Gandhi championed the Panchayati Raj system but ultimately it scarcely did much good, the Economic Time says. This is how it puts it — ‘’Almost a quarter of a century after the late Rajiv Gandhi EVANGELISED (capitalization mine) a decentralised government and gave the institution of Panchayati Raj his personal imprimatur, a report commissioned by Congress-led UPA government has all but declared it a failure’’. So from the cauldrons of politics and governance right into the pulpit of the preacher, thanks, of course, to English!

A person who helps somebody in trouble, well, he is not just a goodhearted and helpful person, he has to be a Good Samaritan if you seek good English effect. When a person does something purposefully and with a lot of enthusiasm, he does so with missionary zeal…as if he were a person with a mission! He had better do it this way if he wants to succeed!

If one is born, say in 1989.. it is in 1989 A.D….Anno domini…and in the words of a  pompous anchor, 1989 in the year of the Lord, though it’s not very much clear when the Lord himself was born!  Forget the Common Era introduced by historians trying to be truly secular!

A book is not just the final word on a subject. It is the Bible, say, for historians. If something is true, or true to fact, it rather bethe gospel truth though historians and Bible scholars are discussing how much truth there is in the gospel, and what kind of truth, historical, mythical, religious (?).

Somebody who happens to be victimised unjustly…well, he must have been crucified, calling attention to the one crucifixion that was made famous despite there having been millions of such punishments carried out by the Roman Empire.

And every man has not just got to shoulder his own burden…he has to carry his cross! That he might, but when he is indeed vindicated and rises like a Phoenix from defeat,  it’s not just a comeback that he has had, but a resurrection!

When a person goes to the succour of another, and that in a crucial situation, he is more than a kind, compassionate or even ‘good’ friend, not even a friend in need, he is a Saviour! A player who manages to stave off defeat for his team, or even pull off a victory, may be declared the man of the match, but he is sure to be touted as its Saviour of the moment and the match!

Again, somebody who turns up to make a terribly bad situation look up is more than the man of the hour….he is the Messiah! If one finds one’s deliverance from a poignant situation, one has found one’s Redemption, which finally means Salvation from sin by Jesus’s sacrifice!

When news about someone or something spreads, it is the Word that spreads. Which word, the word that was with god, the word that was god and all that Greek philosophy take on the lowly artisan of Nazareth?

If there are ten rules for getting rich, they are not maxims that will bring prosperity, They are Ten Commandments for getting rich, though they were discovered nowhere near Sinai and by no one named Moses!

Such is the hegemony of English, and through it of Christianity, that a Hindu saint writing on Hinduism in English begins by defining religion from its Latin root, religare, not bothering to ponder that Indian traditions of dharma are totally different from the Western take on dogmatic religion!