When the topic of crusades comes up, what is usually thought of is the series of battles waged by Western European Christians against Muslims to secure control of the city considered by both the religious groups as holy, Jerusalem. Between 1096 and 1291, eight major Crusade campaigns were launched with the sanction of the Catholic Church to free Jerusalem. Though by the end of Crusades Muslims continued to rule Jerusalem, these campaigns are generally thought to have contributed to the increased clout and riches of the Church which is still visible in the world.
There is another category of Crusades that are not that well known outside Europe. These are the military campaigns launched by the Christians, again with the blessings of the Church, with the aim of converting the local pagan population to Christianity. These, called the Northern Crusades or Baltic Crusades, were waged against the pagans in Baltic region. Pagan is a derogatory term generally used by the ‘one good-one book’ people against those who practise polytheism (Hindus, for example).
Since then, though the methods have changed, the Crusade to convert non-Christians, continues to this day, especially in countries like India which still have a substantial population of ‘pagans’. In India, this version of the Crusade enjoyed much better success due to its pretence of non-violence and support from the secular establishment. The Crusade has been so successful that entire regions have abandoned their native culture to embrace the Cross. This is most stark in those parts of the country that are dominated by the tribal communities, like in the Northeastern states where the population today is majority Christian.
The latest frontier for the Crusade in India seems to be the state of Andhra Pradesh. The campaign that is said to have started in earnest during the rule of late Dr YS Rajasekhar Reddy has allegedly picked up quite a bit of pace during the current government of his son, YS Jagan Mohan Reddy. As per a MP representing Mr Reddy’s party, the Christian population in Andhra could be as high as 25% though the official figures might show it to be only about 2.5%.
Adding fuel to these allegations of state government’s support for proselytization activities is a string of incidents where Hindu temples and properties have been desecrated in the state since Mr Reddy assumed the office of Chief Minister. As per former CM Chandrababu Naidu, as many as 120 such incidents have taken place in the state in the last 19 months. Jagan Reddy has, however, denied having extended any support or showing lenience to either the attacks on temples or to proselytization and has promised action against those responsible.
One of the major incidents of temple desecration happened in September 2020 when the processional chariot of Lakshmi Narasimha Swamy temple in Antarvedi was burnt down. Sabotage was not ruled out as a possible cause of the incident. Barely a few days had passed when the silver idols adorning the chariot of the famous Kanaka Durga Devi temple in Vijayawada were stolen.
Some of the most shocking in this series of incidents happened over the last few days. On 29 December 2020, the over 400 year old temple of Kodanda Rama in Ramatheertham, Vizianagaram district was broken into and the idol of the presiding deity, Sri Rama, was vandalized in the true style of crusaders and jihadis by separating the head.
In a couple of incidents that came to light on the new year day of 2021, the idol of Subrahmanya swamy was vandalized by cutting off the hands in a temple in Rajahmundry and the sacred feet of Komalamma, a village deity worshipped by tribal communities in the agency areas of Visakhapatnam district, were vandalized.
In all these incidents, police have been registered cases and investigating to identify the culprits. It would therefore not be fair or responsible to either ascribe motivations or cast doubts till the investigation is complete and the criminals are brought to book. What is however clear is the double standards and hypocrisy of the liberal-secular establishment of the country.
On several instances I have highlighted the step-motherly treatment of Hindus by the Indian state and the left-liberal establishment that still controls it (this video, for example). The default response to atrocities committed against Hindus is to brush them off as isolated incidents committed by lone-wolf miscreants. Be it the virtual elimination of Hindus from meat trade by promoting Halaal or the concerns about grooming, deception and forceful conversion of Hindu girls or the lack of freedom in running educational institution and temples, every concern expressed by the community based on our lived experience is trivialized as an over reaction by the fringe. Even in the current spate of attacks on the temples happening in Andhra, there is not a squeak from the guardians of secularism and liberalism in India, leave along outrage.
Compare this with the way random, and actually trivial, incidents like thieves breaking in to steal from donation box in a church or the window panes shattered by a cricket ball are hyped beyond belief and turned into international level crises. Or the efforts mounted to sanitize terrorists as children of schoolmasters or to defend cattle smugglers or motorbike thieves. Even an incident of temple desecration in Pakistan gets more attention and a response from Government of India than a series of temples being desecrated in a part of our own country. With Andhra Pradesh, they can’t even take the tyranny of distance alibi.
This kind of double standards and hypocrisy will continue as long as we Hindus continue to take everything lying down. Unless we stand up and demand our rightful place in this country, we will not be given any. Unless we get over this gluttony for punishment, we cannot expect just treatment and fair returns for our contribution to this nation. It is high time we realize that no body treats a doormat with respect.
Here is hoping that the Hindu society soon realizes it’s inner Hanuman and starts asserting it’s rightful place, not just in India but the world.