It must have come as a surprise to
Information & Broadcasting Minister Priyaranjan Dasmushi that India�s
supposedly small Roman Catholic community can field 200 organizations to
protest the screening of the Hollywood blockbuster, The Da Vinci Code,
based on Dan Brown�s best-selling novel by the same name. Certainly it would
have mattered to him that not only are these the UPA chairperson�s
co-religionists, but belong to the same majority Christian sect, headquartered
in Vatican City.
Little wonder then,
that while the Christian world will view the film with no cuts or disclaimers,
India�s I&B minister feels the Catholic Churches' Association of India
(CCAI), rather than the Censor Board, should have the final say in the matter.
After all, this is a secular country, and secularism, as I have argued
elsewhere, is the twin god of Christianity, the face it turns towards the world
when it wants to conceal the designs of the cross.
In fairness, however, the Vatican
and the Indian evangelical industry are right to be wary of the film. The
Da Vinci Code is no ordinary fiction. It represents the latest in a long
history of dissent in the Catholic Church regarding the true nature of the
mission of the Christian church that suddenly emerged in Rome in the early
centuries AD. Was Christianity ever intended to be anything more than a
political movement, or did it have religio-political goals, and why did Jesus
and his Apostles break with the Jewish community and opt for aggressive
evangelism among non-Jews? These are not questions that will go away until the
Vatican opens its archives and furnishes some credible answers.
Indeed, the core issue is how and
when the early Christian Church conceived its plan for world dominion, and the
driving force behind this ambition. Anyone who is concerned with fundamentalist
Islam�s jihadi face and its plans for world conquest, must be interested
in the early Christian Church, as this is where a blueprint for such dominion
was first conceived and implemented. It would be a mistake to believe that the
quest has been consigned to the dustbin of history -- all rich Western nations
have a huge budget for evangelical activities oversees, and conversion is a
major foreign policy agenda. Indeed, the Christian nations do not spare even
fellow monotheistic traditions like Islam, and Christian missionaries are very
active in Pakistan, Bangladesh, Afghanistan, Indonesia and Malaysia, not to
mention other parts of the globe.
This central mission of an unknown
group striving for control of the whole world and its economic resources and
thought processes, is what The Da Vinci Code exposes in the form
of a novel. It is bound to make the thinking public ponder the supposedly
spiritual content of this faith, which is unable to win adherents without
resorting to special tactics, and does not even have a credible theology around
its key figures. Forget that Jesus married Mary Magdalene and had a child or
children, or even the stories that he was not the first-born child of his own
mother, Mary. These are side issues for Indians.
What is important, however, is why
there is so much suspense about key components of the Christian story, when it
is a religion that supposedly began with one man and his band of followers. It
would be safe to say that Jesus was born in a Jewish family and initially
aspired for leadership of his own community. On being shunned, he turned
towards the Gentiles, the non-Jews of Jerusalem, who were in search of a
But what was the religion he
preached? Was the heavenly father he spoke of the same as the Jewish Yahweh, or
someone else? Who or what is the Holy Ghost, the third element of the Christian
Trinity? To the best of my knowledge, there is absolutely no credible
information about the role and purpose of this divinity in the spiritual
evolution of Christians. Ultimately, we are asked to believe what the Vatican
says, and it says very little beyond the fact that belief in Jesus is imperative
for human salvation. Yet Christians are prone to deride Muslims for similar
adherence to the Prophethood of Mohammad.
This makes the criticism of the
film by some Indian Muslim organizations highly suspect, and the UPA Government
would do well to take adequate precautions that vested elements do not create
trouble on the pretext of protests against the film. The protests are an act of
muscle-flexing by the Christian church that is determined to plant itself the
cross in India. And typically, Ms. Sonia Gandhi, a Roman by birth and a
Catholic by faith, has refused to reveal her mind over the agitation, though
anyone who has observed the disproportionate rise of Christians to top jobs in
the Congress Party and its state governments will know how avidly she promotes
her community�s interests.
Jain is a political commentator and author.