Friday, December 5, 2008

The Buddhism Bail-Out

My jaw dropped when I read the following headline:

Mass Rally in India at Which Tens of Thousands of Outcastes Renounced Hinduism

To my astonishment, a rally was planned back in 2001 where a massive group of Dalta's would renounce Hinduism and convert to Buddhism. Maybe I was hiding under a rock when all this happened and I should have know about this already. I just learned about these events this week; So, I realize this is old news.

But, I still found the news to be interesting despite the news being old.

Members of the lower castes systems were growing tired of the obvious discrimination created by their religious faith. So, they decided to rally together and collectively renounce Hinduism for Buddhism instead.

Then, a group of Christians heard the news. They made plans to join the rally and give out copies of the Gospel. One million people were expected to attend as the time for the rally drew closer.

The plans didn't unfold as expected. The government got involved and tried to shut down the rally. Military involvement created a scene where hundreds of thousands of people were turned away at gun point from the proposed meeting place for the rally. The government didn't want Christian groups coaxing caste members to become Christian. The government did not want one million new Buddhists on their hands, either.

The government at that time was controlled by members of the higher caste system. The government really wanted the Daltas to stay in their place. Religion justified all of this. That's what this was all about.

The Daltas were hoping that Buddhism would bail them out of their troubles and make a statement to the Indian government.

I'd like to think converting from Hinduism to Buddhism is a step in the right direction. I could be wrong, but Buddhism tends not to have strict religious rules, angry deities, and all powerful clergy keeping followers under foot. Otherwise, this conversion would have little difference from moving out of a small jail cell and into a more spacious, comfortable jail cell.

The Daltas would still be in jail. Especially since the government doesn't seem interested in upholding basic human rights in this case.

Out of the fire . . . and into the frying pan.

Consider reading a detailed summary of the Daltas' rally and how the situation unfolded. The implications of the whole event are worth reflecting upon in my opinion.
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