Christianity is as Indian a religion as those that originated in the country, says former President Pranab Kumar Mukherjee.
“Indigenization, adaptation and respect of local customs and traditions have made Christianity as Indian a religion as the ones that originated in its ancient geographical boundaries,” Mukherjee asserted on December 13 while addressing Christmas celebrations organized by the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of India (CBCI) in New Delhi.
The former president, who was the chief guest of the program held at the downtown Diocesan Community Centre, noted that the Church’s 2000 years of existence in India has been “more Renaissance and Reformation and rarely about Evangelism.”
For Mukherjee, “the most enduring images of the Catholic Church in India” are millions of Indians, who study in its educational institutions, and hundreds of thousands of patients who get healed in its hospitals.
“The Catholic Clergy in India is personified by the priest or nun in a habit, the very image of whose brings to one’s mind, discipline and dedication. It is the heartening images of Missionaries of Charity led by Mother Teresa, tending to the last person on the margin of society that personifies the Church in India,” he added.
Mukherjee’s assertion comes in the backdrop of calls from some rightwing groups to cleanse India off Christianity by 2021.
“Aberrations of a crusade, a jihad or violent struggles between sects in India, were always defeated in the favour of longer reigning brotherhood, peace and resultant prosperity of mankind,” he added.
Every religion, he noted, “strove to direct human endeavours towards the three basic tenets of Truth, Compassion and Righteousness. It was these tenets that comprised the Ram Rajya of Hinduism, Dharma of Buddhism, the Holy Kingdom of Christianity and many more.”
Mukherjee, who served as India’s 13th president during 2012-2017, agreed that the country was going through troubled time. “Divisive tendencies, intolerance and prejudiced ‘fear of the other’ seem to be defining us.”