The recent heart-rending and gory killing of sisters from Missionaries of Charity in Yemen brought to the fore, the continuing religious strife that shows its ugly face every now and then; which has been in form of Jihadi terror for last few decades. IS is suspected to be behind the brutal murder of nuns among others, one of who is from Jharkhand, while father Tony, abducted, is still missing. Yemen, not being the safest of places after Houthis usurped its capital and seized a significant part of the country raises not just concerns of safety for outsiders but also questions prudence of their stay and operations.
While altruism, in the form of service to humanity seems a plausible ground to risk one’s life for it provides a meaning to life; it remains interesting to discuss and dissect others as well, especially when they are evidenced and supported by facts. Most of us have grown up listening and talking about Mother Teresa ’s service to people at the bottom most of humanity, namely ex-prostitutes, lepers, AIDS patients and others. She found Missionaries of Charity which carried out service to the most downtrodden, with zeal unmatched by the souls occupied with materialistic and visible aspects of life. The very same people she cared about were the ones cast away by our own society till then. She never hesitated to tend for the suffering people which made her great in our eyes.
The act of tending for the sufferer had a lack of hesitation at the astern is questionable, in fact already questioned and findings put in place which does not put as a rosy picture as we would want it to be. Lack of hesitation, in fact gave way to Affinity-for-the-Sufferer, and the suffering being made glorious, was pointed out in various in-depth researches done into the Charity’s operations in the nineties and earlier. Christopher Hitchens, noted critic whose criticisms of all religions have been widely quoted had particularly attacked Mother Teresa and her Charity, for practices that could have been avoided. Though the list of reasons for which Mother Teresa was criticized is long, few of them are clear and conspicuous. Unhealthy medical practices like insufficient sterilization of needles and poor supervision of patients despite having more than enough financial aids are some allegations to start with. Even accusations of financial embezzlement and questionable relations with dictator-likes flew high, but what caught our attention was the mindset that lay beneath the matrix which saw help to the poor. Was it altruism? If yes, what was the motivation behind it?.
Media-Liberal nexus created a furor when Mohan Bhagwat premised and questioned ‘if motivation behind Mother Teresa’s selfless acts was conversion’. The manufactured controversy lacked teeth because he asked the right question. A section of people including myself, see nothing wrong even if the motivation was conversion as long as it provided means and care to the downtrodden. It should not be despicable, as long as they remain under the ambit of law to care and provide alms to the poor even when their motive is conversion. As the comparison goes, a well fed family praying for Rabbit God is better than an emaciated one praying for the Duck God.
Of course the rest believes motive of conversion to be the sinister element in being ‘selfless’. Well, in this documentary, beyond Mother Teresa ’s act of kindness, they trot behind obvious reasons for Missionaries like conversion.
Before we move ahead and start seeing conversion as the evil motive behind the work of Mother Teresa, it is imperative we see the world from her eyes. Conversion for the missionaries is often not a ploy for them, to increase the count of their likes; as is seen by the rest of the world. Conversion for them is more like emancipation for non Christians, from the evils, after which we move towards the one lord who is our savior. While such strict positions are unthinkable in Dharmic religions, she, and her Charity, according to them did the dying a favor by secretly baptizing them, with or against their wishes. The criticisms and old – worldliness of their outlook does not stop at conversion. It hints towards an obsession, towards a goal, a symptom of which was altruism to the extent visible in Charity’s case.
The obsession here being questioned is about suffering. Suffering is the base of altruism in most cases and it makes sure we do not get a sense of gratification until we have lost something valuable in order to provide help to the needy. Jesus died for our sins of course, and he suffered a lot, he endured a lot. But he never beautified suffering. To suffer for others is beautiful but to stop taking actions, in order to aggravate suffering is retardation. In the name of Jesus and his suffering, Mother, and her Charity of Calcutta derestricted suffering as is suggested by the video above. Patients were deliberately not taken to hospital for the reason that she found it of no use. Poor are destined to suffer is what they believed in, which is appalling as is evident from Hitchens’ point. The selflessness aspect of her whole work is put under serious scrutiny
The work of Mother Teresa may or may not be reduced to ‘White Man’s Burden’ but her impracticality in dealing with poor, hundreds of them completely dependent on her decisions, makes her no saint. Her Nobel Peace Prize pales in comparisons to the abhorrent political agenda she allegedly pursued in order to further her ancient ideas and views, conspicuous by her relations with controversial political leaders across the world. While her magnanimity in caring for the poor is something we have to learn and respect, her ‘selflessness’ is not beyond questions. Comparisons are but inevitable, but while a soldier dimmed in nationalism suffers to protect his countrymen and ensure peace; a terrorist often sacrifices himself to pursue his religious agenda by harming innocents. Here we have a unique case where a cult, with noted members suffer, and let others too because probably their religious belief find suffering romantic.
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