I Got 99 Problems and A Nun is One: Bhagwat-Teresa Debacle

It’s like people are in the news just because they want to keep on stirring the pot of controversy. Modi’s 10 lakh suit with his name literally stitched on. The entire nation speculating where Rahul Gandhi’s disappeared off to.

And the pretty common, yet still pretty shocking/surprising, malicious jabs at other figures of prominence. But this time, it’s a whole new level. I’m pretty sure most of you have got the hang of it now, yes, it is RSS chief, Mohan Bhagwat’s almost laughable comment about Mother Teresa.

Now we live in a time where everyone has to say something about everything. So here’s what some people said about it, starting naturally, with Mohan Bhagwat’s first comment-

On Monday, Mr Bhagwat was attending a function organized by an NGO at a village near Bharatpur when he said, “Here, the service isn’t like Mother Teresa’s. Her service would have been good but it used to have one objective, to see that the person who was being helped felt obliged to become a Christian.”

To which Delhi CM, Arvind Kejriwal replied, “I worked wid Mother Teresa for a few months at Nirmal Hriday ashram in Kolkata. She was a noble soul. Pl spare her.”

Here’s what Sunita Kumar, spokesperson, Missionaries of charity has to say – “Mother Teresa’s only motive was to serve the poor. Through all my years with her, I have not experienced or seen any kind of conversion. I am a Sikh”.

Also the Congress not be left behind said, “BJP should apologize for this, we will raise this issue in Parliament. Mother Teresa shouldn’t be insulted like this”. And of course, Rahul Gandhi continued to not give a comment on this. There are of course, more words exchanged between people. With Derek O’Brien condemning it, to Meenakshi Lekhi defending and yet, not defending it and to Dia Mirza attacking Lekhi on Twitter.

Forgive me from deviating from opinions and coming down to facts. Bhagwat implied that the sole objective behind Teresa’s service was to convert people to Christianity. The same man who does not consider ‘ghar-wapsi’ as conversion while pushing for an anti-conversion law. Bhagwat was recorded saying this at a meet in Kolkata – “Those who have strayed, they have not gone on their own. They have been allured and have been forcibly taken away. When the thief is being caught and my property has been recovered, when I am taking back my own property, what is new in it?”

Ignoring the slight tinge of objectification in his statement, it seems to treat people and faith in a rather comical way. His sole objective it seems is to get the society right back on the Hindu track, the supposedly right track, and he is blatantly unapologetic for it. Mother Teresa would be turning in her grave right now, I suppose. But what’s really interesting is that Teresa did encourage baptism irrespective of personal faith, but only to the patients who were at their death bed. She claimed herself to be serving her God, but no instance apart from this substantiates Bhagwat’s claim.

Marring politics with faith is one thing, but marring charity and service with religion is a completely different ball game. Poverty, hunger, sickness aren’t biased towards a specific religion, they cripple everyone indiscriminately.. And so is the service meted out to them. RSS while being a Hindu nationalist organization, states that its ideology is based on the principle of selfless service to India. India, as a whole. Even if it’s just in writing.

Mother Teresa, while being Christian, started a charity whose mission was to help “the hungry, the naked, the homeless, the crippled, the blind, the lepers,  all those people who feel unwanted, unloved, uncared for throughout society, people that have become a burden to the society and are shunned by everyone.”

The basic objective of both, is the same. So while there continues to be controversy surrounding his statement and while freedom of expression still allows Bhagwat to raise questions on Mother Teresa’s character, simple logic should keep him from questioning the quantum of her work and the number of people she has helped.

Find me the act of charity, the act of helping someone in need which can be classified in the boxes we created of religion, and I will very rightly admit that service is supposed to be performed for only those who believe in the same God.

 

 

By Manvika Athwani

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