The Cool Debater
Just in case you have not heard of Totaram Sanadhya, let me introduce him to you. Totaram Sanadhya was born in 1876 in Firozabad. He was a Brahmin by caste. He was tricked by a recruiter and sent to Fiji as an indentured labourer. He spent 21 years there and returned. Totaram’s departure from Fiji in 1914 was quite an event as he was the leader of the Indian indentured labour. He wrote a book ‘My 21 years in Fiji islands’ which created a stir and he came in contact with Mahatma Gandhi. He died in Sabarmati Ashram. Mahatma Gandhi himself wrote a eulogy for him on his death.
Why am I telling you the story of Totaram? Read it in the light of the events in Orissa.
I am quoting here verbatim from the book ‘My Twenty-One years in Fiji Islands & The Story of the Haunted Line’ [by Totaram Sanadhya, Translated and edited by John Dunham Kelly and Uttra Kumari Singh, First published by Fiji Museum in 1991, I am QUOTING from the Introduction by John Dunham Kelly]:
A glimpse of Totaram Sanadhya while in Fiji is to be found in the writings of the missionary J.W. Burton……When Burton wrote the following passage, he most certainly had his experiences with this ‘cool debater’ [Totaram] in mind. He is known to have conversed often with Sanadhya……
‘Padri sahib, why do you come here so often?’ The speaker was a clever and well educated Brahman with finely chiseled features and lofty brow so typical of his kind. ‘Do you think you will ever convert me?’ He laughed with mingled pride and courtesy upon his face; but the pride leapt forward and spoke. ‘I am of the sacred thread; my ancestors, long generations before you were born, worshipped after this way. They discovered the only way for my caste, and our feet love the path. They spent their whole lives not in winning bread, not in accumulating wealth – but in thinking about religion. For five thousand years they have been thinking, and here are their thoughts.’ He tapped his Vedas gently with his finger. ‘There are thoughts here that you English, clever as you are in science and machines, can never understand. All the good and true things in your Bible – love thy neighbour, forgiveness of injuries, purity of life and motive – and many more beside. Don’t think that I dislike your coming. I am glad to talk about religion with any fair-minded man; but do not deceive yourself that you will ever influence me. The chances of your becoming a Hindu are much greater than those of my becoming a Christian. You may convert a few pariahs and ignorant men for Christianity is probably the best thing they can embrace. Your big missions in India are doing that – but I am not of that class. I am one who knows. Why do you come here so often, padri sahib?’
All admiration for a young boy of 15 who landed in a foreign country and answered the missionaries!
No violence, it was a ‘Cool Debater’ [Burton’s label for Totaram] at work. Do you get me?
whether proselytization is ethical or not is a different debate …….but violence is certainly not the answer to that.
……. indeed it is only because totaram was a COOL DEBATOR he left a mark on the padri ,………. voilence only leave scars ………..
Insecurity(Padri Sahib) v/s Incredible Faith(Cool Debater)
Why the hell do you need to spread Christianity by converting people? Live you way and people will follow if they see good in your ways. Gautam Buddha did not try to convert anyone. He lived his way and preached. People found it good for themselves and adopted his way of life. If you are right, people will follow. Are you insecure that your religion may no long exist? Your doubts definitely have some basis, especially when hordes of western population is turning to the East.
To believe that there is far greater than what the immediacy of religion can offer is the key !
Whether it is Orissa, Kerela, Palestine or anywhere in the world !
What all we do, in the name of God ! A God, who, in doing so, remains farther away !
सक्तीने किंवा लालुच दाखवुन केलेला धर्मप्रसार केव्हाही गैरच.
आता प्रर्यंत धर्माच्या नावाखाली जेवढे अत्याचार झाले तेवधे दुसऱ्या कश्यानेही झाले नसतील.
आज आपल्या मुळे एका महान विभुतीची ओळख झाली.
Dear Prakhar, Babu, Kavi, and Harekrishanaji,
Thsi is a difficult subject indeed. I appreciate your comments and observtions.
Hello Vivek, Thanks was visiting and leaving a message, this gives me the opportunity of dipping into another blogging site – I will call again. I love blogging and exchanging views with different folk and the benefit of blogging is that it doesn’t matter whether or not you are a millionaire or a pauper – young or old – intelligent of a bit of a ‘numpty’ (like me). It is interesting to get a window into other folks lives – you are always learning and me being of the female variety is nosy, hehehe.. Cheers from the land of the Tartan, Kate.
Interesting comments. However just to get the facts right, isnt christianity the religion that 2/3 rd of the world follows? Words from the same cool debator– you might be sucessful with the pariahs who do not have much to look forward to– question is what does it take for the other religions to support their needy followers? My question is to the religous trusts who boast of recording the highest revenue yr on yr by donations made by common like us. Where does that go?
Your point well taken, Mr Shyam Panicker. Thanks, Vivek
Nice and informative blog thanks for very inspiring story