My father always tells me about his life in 1971. He was about 13 and at that age to understand everything that was going on in Bangladesh. He was born in East Pakistan, as it was previously called and saw his country win independence. He tells me about his times in Agartala refugee camps that the Indian government provided. He tells me about the conditions through which he and his family migrated to India during the war. He also tells me about the atrocities at that time.
Specifically: the ideas of the Six Kalimas. He tells me about the pressures many like him faced to recite the kalimas. These were specific Arabic sentences, and the belief that anyone who recites them, is converted to Islam. He also tells me about Muslims who prevented him from reciting them, helped his family reach the other side of the border during the war while they continued to occupy his family’s houses so that they can be returned to them when they return after the war. This article is in no way derogating those Muslims who continued to serve humanity for humanity’s sake, which has been recited by the Qur’an. This article is specifically for us who continue to not acknowledge the necessary structural changes necessary in our ideologies themselves that would help us prosper.
To begin with, the idea of a uniform, clear and concise conversion system. Similar to what my father saw in 1971 and even now, while the Muslims had a few sentences to recite to convert to their religion, we failed to come up with one uniform code. While Muslims have simplified this step even further by only reciting the Shahada, we still do not have any uniform system that all sects would agree on. While searching “How to Covert to Hinduism”, I came to Wikihow which states “[t]here is no official conversion process or ceremony for converting to the Hindu faith.” While this makes the religion more diverse, it also causes retention problems. To note another source, Wikipedia states “no formal concept of conversion in Hinduism but converts to Hinduism are accepted.” VHP/RSS/Arya Samaj and many other perform havan to perform the conversion but these are expensive and time consuming methods. In my opinion, a simpler uniform conversion system, possibly reciting a non-denominational Sanskrit mantra like Gayatri Mantra combined with Shanti Mantras like “Asatoma Sadgamaya” could be one possible method towards that.
With the nearing of the Ram Mandir Bhumi Pujan, there is a rising number of Muslims who are traveling long distances to come to see the event. The Muslim Ram Bhakts also acknowledge that their ancestors were followers of Ram. This should not deter the Hindus and other Dharmic followers from showing them a different path. Rather, we can easily consecrate the area throughout Ram Mandir such that anyone who comes within a vicinity of the Ram Mandir or touches even a piece of stone has become a devotee of Ram, and therefore a Hindu.
Looking at our past mistakes in the Jagannath Temple in Puri which forbade foreign converts from entering the temple, while ISKCON continued their diligent and successful work throughout the world, we should rectify. While ISKCON was spreading the words of Sri Chaitinya throughout the world, garnered more than a million followers, we continued to close the doors for devotees like Alfred Ford and George Harrison. Should we not allow the likes of Tulsi Gabbard to enter the abode to Jagannath, while she worked tirelessly for our causes?
Many will claim that Hinduism is a secular religion, which is very open-ended for interpretation. However, it is that open-ended quality that can drive us towards these changes. While we can continue to be conservative towards accepting others, we can also show them the path necessary by accepting them. While we all know what happens when one comes out of the Laxman Rekha, we do not know the consequences of Ravan if he nonchalantly entered the Rekha and could not leave. Maybe Ram left it for us to test it out.
[As I have very little knowledge of the Shastras, I would like someone to please discuss how we can justify this. I believe strongly in the words of Dayanand Saraswati whose shuddhikaran structure drives me to write this article. Any opinion is greatly appreciated.]