I woke up this morning and found that Pope Francis – the gods bless him – has turned into a Hindu gentleman, emphasis on gentle.
According to various news sites on the internet, which have gone into a bit of a tizzy overnight, Papa Francis apparently said “[a]ll religions are true, because they are true in the hearts of all those who believe in them. What other kind of truth is there?”. This, in essence, is the Hinduism we grew up with in Calcutta, embodied by the pithy saying “joto mawt toto poth” – there are as many roads (to god) as there are opinions/ideas about it.
And it’s not just me saying it. Casual references to this general approach can be found scattered through our cultural productions. For instance, Syyad Mujtaba Ali (my favourite writer), while describing an encounter with a newly-minted Austrian missionary on a warpath against “the savages” of Africa and Asia, says he finds quite unable to return the misguided man’s vitriol because “I am an Indian. From my earliest childhood I have heard that all religions are equal, and one should not use race as a bait in conversations”.
It feels good that this feeling has now gone global, especially since self-appointed protectors of “Indian culture” (à la an invented ‘Hinduism’ chiefly made up of Victorian British moral conceits) seem to have lost track of Hinduism’s finer ideological roots completely… and perhaps very deliberately. It’s difficult to rouse a rabble if your banner reads “Mind the karma and carry on”. If the Vatican now wants to take it up instead, I’m delighted.
Also, cynic though I am, I don’t care what the anti-Catholic conspiracy theorists are saying about the dove-like global image of this Father Love. Even if the holy daddy is only doing the “progressive” all-embracing love-talk to improve the PR of the Church, and is not yet going to walk the walk as easily as he talks the talk, he’s still a downright goddamned radical just for caring what the world thinks of Catholicism, and for taking it into positive account. It’s been centuries that organised religion has been used to tear people and things apart. It’s about bloody time it did some band-aiding.
Stay the path, lovely Father. Eventually, walk the walk as you talk the talk. Have a lovely year, and let the world have a lovely year with you. Kisses.