RSS chief Mohan Bhagwat on Monday said there was a motive behind the service Mother Teresa provided to the poor — to convert them to Christianity.
Inaugurating an orphanage and a women’s home in Bharatpur, Bhagwat said, “Here we will not provide service like that rendered by Mother Teresa. It is possible that her kind of work was good but there was a motive behind that service.
It was to convert those she served to Christianity. Someone wants to convert others to Christianity, that is another thing, but to do it under the garb of social service is to devalue that service.
Here, nothing like that will happen. In our country, social service is done like this, selflessly, completely selflessly.”
Now what will the pinstripe suit say to the khaki shorts about his views on Mother Teresa #condemn
— Derek O’Brien (@quizderek) February 23, 2015
His comments come less than a week after Prime Minister Narendra Modi said the government “will ensure that there is complete freedom of faith and that everyone has the undeniable right to retain or adopt the religion of his or her choice without coercion or undue influence”.
Bhagwat, who is on a tour of Rajasthan, was addressing locals, Sangh workers and elected representatives. On Monday, he was invited to inaugurate a Mahila Sadan and a Bal Shishu Gopal Griha by Apna Ghar Seva Samiti, a local NGO. The event was attended by Tourism Minister Krishnendra Kaur Deepa, BJP state vice-president Bhajanlal Sharma, MP Bahadur Koli and other sitting and former legislators.
Bhagwat’s comments evoked sharp reactions. Rajasthan Pradesh Congress Committee chief Sachin Pilot said, “This sort of talk by hardline right-wing forces casting aspersions on eminent people like Mother Teresa is a deliberate attempt to whip up negative emotions and distort history. If these people call themselves nationalists, they should engage in nation building.”
Sunita Kumar, spokesperson of Missionaries of Charity (MOC), said ‘Mother shelters’ set up by Mother Teresa for the destitute accommodated everyone, irrespective of their religion. “The physically and mentally challenged at these homes, when they passed away, were cremated or buried according to their faith. In the past 50 years that I have been associated with MOC and during the time I worked with Mother Teresa, I have not seen a single case wherein people were asked to convert to Christianity or there was any complaint of biased treatment owing to a person’s faith,” Kumar said.
I wish people knew more about Mother before making such comments. Even now, at Mother House on special occasions, mass prayers are organised and people of all religions participate and offer prayers according to their religion,” she added.
Delhi Archbishop Anil Couto said, “The RSS has made such statements earlier as well, even when Mother Teresa was living. It is nothing new. It is because of their hatred of other religions that they are making such statements. It is preposterous of them to allege something as false as the fact that the Sisters of Missionaries convert the poor and the destitute when they give the poor shelter and dignified lives. Persons of any religion come and live in the shelter homes run by the Missionaries and they live by their individual and original faiths.”
He added, “It looks like the Sangh Parivar is trying to assert itself by refuting the PM’s recent call for religious harmony.”