OPINION

Organized Religion and Organized Crime

May 23, 2007
ravi

Organized Religion is like Organized Crime; it preys on peoples' weakness, generates huge profits for its operators, and is almost impossible to eradicate - Mike Hermann

Earlier this month, CNN-IBN came out with spectacular exposes on money laundering by Hindu godmen. The culprits included Ram Vilas Vedanti (or more respectfully, Vedanti Maharaj), Guruvayur Surya Nambudiri and Kapil Advait (alias Pilot Baba)

  • Vedanti is a former chairman of the Ramjanmabhoomi Trust, a former BJP MP, and a star campaigner for the BJP in the recent elections in Uttar Pradesh (where it suffered a humiliating defeat).
  • Surya Nambudiri (also spelled Namboodiri) is apparently famous for making prophecies - what's a godman without the power to prophecy - and after a tough bargain, agrees to turn 100 million of black money into white money for a 15% commission. Not surprisingly, he couldn't foretell his own future.
  • Kapil Advait is a former wing commander-turned-godman, engaged in money laundering for commissions ranging from 20% to 50%.

As expected, the Sangh Parivar jumped to the godmen's defense. The BJP spokesperson said:

The names that your channel has discussed are all respectable people. I am not sure how authentic this sting operation is.

And the VHP Vice-President Giriraj Kishore said:

What is the purpose behind a sting operation? And why are Hindus always maligned?

Confused? Here's the train of thought: VHP (and the Sangh Parivar) represents all Hindus, the exposed godmen are sympathetic to the Sangh Parivar, so an expose of their fraudulent activities is equivalent to maligning all Hindus. Besides, as Swami Nirliptananda, Secretary of the London Sevashram Sangha and a member of the Hindu Forum of Britain's Spiritual Body Commission, recently observed:

Even among human beings, saintly people occupy a different status from others.

According to former income tax commissioner Vishwabandhu Gupta:

[This is] a fit case for criminal proceedings. Two of the biggest religion mafias are the Ram Janmanbhoomi Nyas and the Vishwa Hindu Parishad amongst the Hindus. They have 10 bogus trusts floated from the same address. The names are there (in our record) and so are the addresses. They are getting money from 50 countries abroad and are also getting tax exemptions. There are no accounts as well. You see, this is a big menace. We have calculated and found that religious leaders annually earn $3 billion which is about Rs 10,000 crore -Rs 15,000 crore worth of money. What they do is they get land at throwaway prices. During the last government, 11 including that Sadhvi Ritambhara – whatever her qualifications are – got a fantastic (sic) piece of land at a throwaway price for the services that she heads today. There have fraudulent names, addresses, existences and expenditures. They use it for spreading communal hatred. Money has been used by Bajrang Dal cadres in Gujarat to purchase Motorola, we have got receipts for that.

For instance, the RSS does not have FCRA clearance and cannot directly accept foreign donations, so has created service wings like the Sewa International and Sewa Bharati which have FCRA clearance. The RSS's fundraising fronts abroad - IDRF, SewaUSA, VHP of America, Hindu Swayamsevak Sangh, Sewa International UK, Hindu Forum of Britain etc. - divert funds to the RSS through Sewa Bharati and Sewa International. Given the Sangh Parivar's access to state power and propensity to violence, its brand of fundamentalism poses the biggest danger to a pluralistic India, but the role of Christian fundamentalist groups like World Vision (which apparently disbursed 95 crores in India last year) cannot be glossed over either.

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#1
Anand Menon
May 23, 2007
04:49 AM

Ravishankar if you want to write an article on Organised Religion and Crime write an inclusive article involving all religions.The subtext of your article is that Hindu Revivalism is just a front for making money.Why don't you expand on that last line of that last paragraph....why not organised racketeering in Christian,Muslim religions....why the emphasis on only Hindus?

Why didn't you write this article when tele-evangelist Benny Hinn came down to Bangalore to perform his miracles?The wikepedia encyclopedia is scathing in its cricism when it says.."Although his ministry is popular with Charismatics, many Christians are uncomfortable with certain aspects of his teaching and his lavish lifestyle. He lives in an ocean-front mansion valued at an estimated $8.5 million in an exclusive gated community in Dana Point, California, travels by private aircraft, and stays in hotel rooms costing upwards of $3,000 per night. In December 2006, he sent out a mailing asking for donations towards a new Gulfstream G4SP jet valued at an estimated $36 million.

In March 2005, Ministry Watch, an independent evangelical organization which reviews Christian ministries for financial transparency and efficiency and advises potential donors accordingly, issued a Donor Alert stating that "the reported exorbitant spending of the Hinn family reveals that BHM has far more money than it needs to carry out its ministry" and advising Christians to "prayerfully consider withholding contributions to Benny Hinn" while praying for his restoration and repentance. Benny Hinn Ministries is not a member of the Evangelical Council for Financial Accountability.

Here are the links

http://www.cbc.ca/fifth/main_miracles.html#bio

http://www.bennyhinn.org/external/pdf/dove_one_brochure.pdf

http://www.ministrywatch.com/mw2.1/pdf/MWDA_053105_BennyHinn.pdf

Money making in the name of religion is not confined to Hindus....please try to write a more balanced article ...otherwise we'll all suspect you have something else on the agenda

#2
Aaman
URL
May 23, 2007
04:50 AM

Perhaps a follow-up article would be good with more inclusive coverage

#3
Diganta
URL
May 23, 2007
06:15 AM

I agree with Aaman.

#4
Anindo
May 23, 2007
09:11 AM

The article could have been titled "Organized Hinduism and Organized Crime". I do not see any examples of how other religions exploit people for money. This piece of writing is a hatchet job without any balance.

"Given the Sangh Parivar's access to state power and propensity to violence, its brand of fundamentalism poses the biggest danger to a pluralistic India, but the role of Christian fundamentalist groups like World Vision (which apparently disbursed 95 crores in India last year) cannot be glossed over either."

I wonder why the author felt the need to include this statement at the end? I had always heard about the term pseudo-secularism used by many people. This piece of writing is probably a classic example. Keep up the good work, dude :-)

#5
ravi
URL
May 23, 2007
11:47 AM

anand: you seem to know a lot about benny hinn, why don't you write something about him (if you haven't already done so)? i've provided a link to some dirt about world vision, and you can find more information on the christian right at http://www.counterpunch.org/boston07122006.html

aaman, diganta: i work with the campaign to stop funding hate, and we focus primarily on foreign funding of hindutva, so that's the data i'm most familiar with. as to why we focus on hindutva, we've explained our rationale at http://stopfundinghate.org/actions/press/030403.htm

anindo: if this is a hatchet job, it must be easy to disprove my claims, right?

#6
R Kumar
URL
May 23, 2007
02:31 PM

Guys ... lets not waste time by giving this guy an importance. He is card carrying communist "walla" :) They are bred to hate hinduism and anything related to it. So ... since Sangh Parivar are Hindus ...they have to hate it. They have been doing it since 1925, when the RSS started.

However, as we all know Sangh Parivar have beaten them in all of their games by creating bigger and better organizations than communists such as Bharitya Majadoor Sangh, Akhil Bhartiya Vidhyarthi Parishad, Sewa International, BJP and RSS to name just few.

Communists and Mr. Ravishankar ideology and point of view is based on hatred of others and they will continue to hate anything that promote Hinduism and/or India.

#7
Man singh
URL
May 23, 2007
05:43 PM

Gangs of Mao, Marx Macauley and Mohammed all are followers of alien ideology originated out of India.

Their primary purpose is to destroy the civilisational values and religions originated from soil of India to run their shop.

Therefore it is quite natural that any hand raised toe xpose these gangs will be cut like gabbar Singh cut the hands of `Thakur'.

They will always prefer to demonise each and every person or organisation challenging their hegemony and attack on India.

These associates of foreign invaders demonise great Sikh Gurus and wrote nasty articles about them to do chugali to MUghal rulers.

These associates of foreign invaders wrote such nasty articles to demonise freedom fighter krantikaaris and helped British to crush the freedom fighters.

The same associates of foreign invaders are busy in demonising the organisations today only becasue they find RSS and his afiliates as only formidable force to exposing the out of India loyality of these foreign gangs.

Yes my friends. RSS n its affiliates stand to defend all religions of Indian origin including tribal cultures which are on the verge of extinction. Attacks of mao, marx macauley and mohammed to insult Indian culture and civilisational values are being challenged by this only organisation still alive in spite of all crooked methods of its character assassination by Nehru, Communists Muslims or christians.

theer are plenty of evidence when this organisation served Muslims and christians as well that prooves that it is not against any religion but againt those who attack India religions like fanatics among muslims and missioneries among christians busy in converting and thus destyrtoying Indian civilisation using all fair and unfaire means.

Have people forgot charkhi dadari plane crash where muslims were respetably served by RSS guys. have people forgot how RSS guys saved a boat full of christians in Orrisa.

Reality is that all organisations who attack Indian values do not like RSS only becasue RSS says `please don'nt hit me gentlemen'.

But if these attackers do not come to their senses, RSS people do not hesitate in beating the thuggs.

Thuggs and Thugg beaters are never equal . Thuggs are killers while thug beaters are protectors though both are engaged in fighting.

Freedom of nation religion or civilisation can not protected by Gandhism. gandhism can bring partition of India with 3 million innocent deaths and loss of billions.

Country, culture and civilisations are saved by valour and courageous man and women of the land.

Commies, macauliyites and Jehadis are puppets of foreigners and as such enemies of Indian civilisation. Any effort to protect teh civilisation irks them and irritated by their helplessness to destroy the civilisation such shameless attempts of character assassination are done by gangs of invaders.

Ohh Indian of all religions, recognise these associates of foreign invaders and expose them. If you are not vigilant, these thuggs are ready to loot your house ie Indian civilisational values.

#8
Anand Menon
May 23, 2007
10:51 PM

Just visited your site...its a mirror of your article...Your "campaign" concentrates on Hindus...WHY??....why the emphasis on Hindus?...putting a disclaimer here and there regarding Islam and Christianity does not give it the legitamacy it deserves.

You want to genuinely put and end to hate?...start by being selective in whom you wish to highlight in your campaign....otherwise claims of "hatchet job" will continue to dog you.

#9
ravi
URL
May 24, 2007
12:34 AM

anand: my data speaks for itself, so i don't mind ad-hominems.

I see you conflate Hinduism with Hindutva, much like the VHP. Here's my view: Hindutva is radically different from Hinduism, which is a religion characterized by a multiplicity and plurality of faiths, creeds and practices. Hindutva is a political ideology that promotes an exclusionary, supremacist politics, advocates the use of violence, confuses nationality with culture and religion, and believes that India should be turned into a Hindu supremacist state where non-Hindus will be persecuted and denied equal rights. RSS's founders openly admired Hitler and Mussolini, and therefore imbibed from its beginnings in the 1920s a fascistic worldview that its members and followers still hold on to. The declaration by Hindutva leaders that the 2002 anti-Muslim pogroms in Gujarat marked the birth of "Hindu Rashtra" is perhaps the most ominous sign of what this supremacist politics promises for India, if it is not challenged. [http://hsctruthout.stopfundinghate.org/faq.html#2]

#10
Chandra
May 24, 2007
03:18 AM

Ravi

Are you funded by the christian church directly or indirectly?

rgds

#11
karthik
May 24, 2007
05:03 AM

Ravi
like the rest of the commies... you repeat the same lie again and again to make it look like truth...

The only request to people like you is to be yourself and write something that is original, whether that is right or not is another matter

I dont want to waste my time in giving you a rebuttal as you or your ilk are not worth it

#12
Diganta
URL
May 24, 2007
07:43 AM

Ravi :
I understand your point of view. But, you should have chosen a better title of the article.

#13
Chandra
May 24, 2007
05:24 PM

Ravi

I am sorry to be saying this but I guess you are one more of the brain-washed convent educated Indians. Anyway as long as you believe in what you are doing, good for you. I went through your website and foudn this, I cannot be in agreement with this having seen and experienced the exact opposite of what your organisation claims

"There may be missions which convert. There may be madarsas where hatred is taught. But there is a difference. Christian missions in India have also done a lot of educational and medical service"

The primary purpose of a missionary is pretty straight forward- to convince people to choose christianity over whatever religion that they are currently following. Using education or medical services as a route is extremely embarassing. Morever a run through missionary school data (ICSE website) indicates that only about 3% of students appearing in class X exams come from missionary schools, about the same % as the number of christians in India. So, I am little usure about the role played. The same holds true with healthcare. Most missionary efforts on healthcare are always targetted at non-cultivated areas. Once an area is cultivated, educated and healthcare are not a big priority. Missionaries and Madrasas spew a lot of hatred against Hindus but people like you (probably educated in a missionary school) would probably not notice that. God help you.

rgds

Similarly there are many Hindu religious missions which do not preach communalism for instance, the Ramakrishna Missions). India has a tradition of social work inspired by religion. Mahatma Gandhi is a great example of how one can learn good things from all religions. The Sangh Parivar is however different. Their social work is always motivated by a program of communal politics.

#14
Ravi Shankar
May 25, 2007
01:54 AM

I find it very pathetic that "psuedo-liberals" have to resort to quoting from a book that RSS stopped publishing in 1947, a book which it disawoned and a book which hasn't been read by 99.9% of the RSS workers or supporters, in order to dream up allegations of RSS being inspired by Hitler or being fascist.

Gandhi once said: "I do not consider Hitler to be as bad as he is depicted. He is showing an ability that is amazing and seems to be gaining his victories without much bloodshed". Source: http://en.wikiquote.org/wiki/Gandhi ... Is Gandhi a "fundamantalists", "communalists" too like RSS?

I wonder why "psuedo-liberals" or communists have been reduced to such a pathetic state. Sangh Parivar has already defeated by them creating bigger and better organizations than them, e.g. Bhartiya Majadoor Sangh, Bhartiya Janta Party, ABVP, Sewa Internationl ... and I guess remaining ones in Academia, Media, Art and Films will be defeated soon too.

#15
Man singh
URL
May 25, 2007
12:38 PM


Sangh Parivar's clarion call of unity of all religions of Indian origin is the only guarentee of the long life of Indian civilisational values.

Communism ,Islam and christianity are the thro of most intolerant and fanatic ideologies on the earth and each of them wants to gobble up rest of teh civilisations from this earth.

All conflicts all around the globe are rooted in this fight of these three for dominance. These three ideologies are the enemy number 1 of pluralism all over the world not only in India.

Let's open our eyes and mind and not get moved by emotions.

Indian civilisation is under attack with a combined force of these three foreign ideologies and every right thinking Indian has to do te needful to protect it.

RSS is one alternative how to deal with these attackers. Gandhi tried but failed and we lost 3 million lives, billions of property 28% of land and 12% of our people in 1947.

I am surprised how educated Indians can be so blind about safety issues when we put security system on our house, we lock the cars and still keep all our valuables in locker in bank. How come we are ready to leave our civilisational wealth open for loot by this international gangs of Muslims christians and communists?

RSS stands for defence of Indian civilisation from attacks of these most intolerant ideologies. Yes India stands fro pluralism, secularisma dn democracy since Vedic times. India stands for humanism since ancient times. India never divided humanity based on way of worship.

But today when gangs who do not belive in pluralism, humanism or democratic values are attacking India, defensive measures are very much required. Politicians under greed of votes are not ready to side with truth. Journalists and NGO's sold out to these enemy gangs are running away from their responsibilities.

Sangh single handedly is busy in doing exactly what Guru Govind Singh and Shivaji did in medival periods.

Of cours Sikhs were branded communal and terrorists by Mughals only because they resisted the tyranny and attack of Dharma by Muslim fanatic rulers.

Exactly the same is being done by Sangh today.
Gang of Muslims christians and communists are attacking Indian civilisation through media, films, newpapers, nasty publications, wrongful propganda and everyway which is visible from their websites. Sangh is giving one alternative how to counteract these gangs.

Let's welcome any other alternative avalalable to protect our pluralism, tolerance and secularism other themsangh methods. Please come up with alternatives.

Evangelism of chrsians, jehadism of Islam and everything in communism is direct attack on Indian civilisation.

Is there any better way to protect my house from attacks by international gangs supported by economic and political and military might of 166 christian countries, 66 muslim countries and 4 communist countries.

These gangs do not hide their intentions, they openly tell what they are involved in why they do charity why they open hospitals schools or NGO's.

It is we who are not ready to see the truth.

Plurasim can not sustain by supporting those who are engaged in killing pluralism. Pluralsim will sustain only if we support thsoe who are engaged in proptecting pluralism. Of course when villagers are fighting with dacoits, both sound to be kilers. But villagers are killing to protect themselves while dacoist are killing to kill and terroris.

This vivek has to be created to understand the situation.

sangh is acting like villagers beating out the attacking dacoits though it is job of police. But police as usual comes into picture when damage has already been done.

The mentality that demanded division of country is still prevailing in India. Communists supported the demand of jehadis to devide motherland. gandhi's submissive policy gave them oxygen and we saw death of 3 million Hindus muslims and sikhs. Humanity suffered my freidns.

Even today, same thing is hapening in the name of pluralism. We are trying to support enemies of pluralism in the name of pluralism. We are attacking supporters of pluralism only to support ideologies that do not recognise pluralism. What an irony?

#16
BJ Kumar
May 25, 2007
03:27 PM


Yaraan,

The author has a right to put forth his findings. The article is ABOUT the sangh parivar - so it is OKAY to not talk about other groups. I believe there are plenty of articles out there about other groups - this article contains new material which is not often discussed and it stands on its own.

People should not respond to such write-ups in a knee-jerk manner, but instead focus on what lessons are there to be learnt.

One thing is certain. Religion and politics are a bad mix. Throw in money matters (bringing in the element of greed) and it is a highly combustible mixture. No religious group is immune.

#17
Chandra
May 25, 2007
04:12 PM

BJ

In a debate people are likely to bring up issues that may be not necessarily be the same as pointed out by the author. The author has a history of being anti-Hindu and Pro-christian. No harm in challenging him.

rgds

#18
Venkat
May 29, 2007
04:39 AM

The article by Ravishankar is interesting. But in the overall scheme of things is not very important.

Christian missionaries spend billions for conversion and many underhanded anti-national causes like terrrorism in Nagaland and Tripura.

Similarly Jehadi outfits are swarming all over India today and have even infiltrated the banking, stock market and other systems.

From a nationalistic point of view, Hindutva poses not danger, but both Christian and Islamofasicm does. Be it in Kashmir or in Nagaland the cause for separation is due to their adoption of the semitic religion and hence no more regard or attachment to the traditions, cultures of their motherland.

So, yes, Ravi can have his say, probably influence a few gullible folks too. But hey in the real world... the real worry is Islamic terrorism. I have not even started on Naxalites which, most of the left organisations be in FOSA/FOIL/AID/ASHA are associated with. The red terror is considered the number one danger to India today. And as we speak PUCL VP Dr Binayak Sen is behind bars. Not at all surprising for those who know communist/marxists/naxalite activity in India.

Phew. With all these ... where does Hindutva rate in the terror spectrum. Other that some loony marxists, neither the world nor India gives such rants any importance.

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