The epiphany came to me on a chilly morning many years ago in Melbourne, Australia. I was standing in the aisle of a supermarket, trying to determine the answer to an important existential question viz. Could green olives be an effective substitute for pieces of raw mango in Tambrahm curd-rice? My thoughts were interrupted when a portly Australian man came up to me with a smile and said, “Excuse me, but would you know the recipe for a garlic-free Doll tadka?”
Like any good Indian, I pointed the nice uncle to an ISKCON recipe on the Internet. I also came away with a new-found appreciation for the universal appeal of Indian food, specifically the Hindu saattvik ahaar consisting of big helpings of rice, daal, desi ghee, and sanctimoniousness. I wonder if this is what our honourable leaders mean when they say we are all Hindus, whether we know it or not. Maybe they are right. Maybe all this hullabaloo over Ghar Wapasi is completely unwarranted. If Hinduism is indeed a way of life, then where is the question of conversion?
I pondered these questions as the new year dawned. And then it struck me. Hinduism has always been an open-minded religion with a great history of being tolerant. But now the time has come to support the self-appointed guardians who want to change all that. Maybe I could be freed from the eternal cycle of life and death if I carried out a Ghar Wapasi ceremony! This could be the ultimate new-year resolution.
I immediately set about doing some research but was left with many questions.
- Rumour has it that a Christian convert gets Rs. 2 Lakh and a Muslim convert gets Rs. 5 Lakh. As the organiser, do I get any holy commission in this? What is the going rate for atheists, pastafarians, and aliens who don’t look like Aamir Khan? Further, since Hindu organisations, like Christian ones, also receive foreign funding, can any such (divine) money be paid directly into my Swiss bank account? Is there a society of NRI Hindus that I can approach for this?
- What caste do people get converted back to and what forms of oppression are they allowed to practise on others? You’ll have to admit Manu Smriti is a rather unpopular book, even by fundamentalist standards. Is there another manual I can refer to? I turned to the works of the honourable Veer Savarkar for guidance but was a bit appalled to find that he was an atheist who didn’t believe in caste or sacred cows. (P.S. We really ought to look into this Savarkar guy.)
- Our fearless leaders have rightly campaigned for replacing sex education with Vedic maths, after meticulous research showed that both deal with multiplication. They also want to replace foreign languages with Sanskrit, since the latter is far more useful in world domination. How soon can the new converts start joining such campaigns?
- Is a degree in science necessary? Some of the potential candidates I have approached have expressed their apprehension that Hinduism is becoming too high-funda and “science-y”, what with all the talk of cross-species plastic surgery and supersonic flying machines. Can we just stick to simple blind faith and superstition when we convert?
- Since we are closely modelling Ghar Wapasi on the Christian proselytization schemes, the effect needs to be just as grand. Christian miracles are often depicted with tiny children blowing noisily on trumpets, but I remember seeing pictures in Amar Chitra Katha comics of apsaras showering flowers and saying things like, “This one is a noble one.” Is there some way we could arrange that? That will also help allay fears such as in point no.4.
I am hoping to find the answers to these questions by the next auspicious date in the calendar, so that I can arrange a grand ceremony. It is a sad state that Hindus make up a microscopic 80% of the country’s population. We all need to contribute to making Hinduism a majority religion. When that day comes, we will be able to rewrite textbooks, whitewash history and maybe even have an all-Hindu ruling party that supports us. After all, it is Hinduism that has given the world the wise philosophy of Vasudeiva Kutumbakam, meaning All the World is one Family (except for any Christians, Muslims, Jews, Parsis, Buddhists, or Pastafarians).