In June 2003, News Today published excerpts a long interview with Swami Dayananda Saraswati, whose views critical of missionary activities are well-known.
In the interview, conducted by Editor T.R. Jawahar, Swami Dayananda Sarawsati reaffirmed his understanding of conversion as a form of violence:
“What is violence? When you physically hurt me it is violence. When you do anything that can instigate physical violence, that is an act of violence, too. And if you can hurt me emotionally it is also violence. If you can hurt me spiritually that is the worst violence, rank violence. All these are there in conversion because it leads to physical violence. When you convert somebody you have to criticise the person’s religion, his worship, his culture; all these hurt. Even when he changes it hurts. How will he change? He has to disown his parents, and their wisdom and their culture, his ancestors, and entire community; you are isolating him, uprooting him and all the uprooted people are emotionally unsettled. For instance, Blacks in America are uprooted people. Even after generations they are not emotionally settled. It will never help the persons who are uprooted from their culture. So it is great violence against culture, tradition etc.”
Swami Dayananda Saraswati also accused missionary religions of having double standards:
“One who does not believe in their religion is anti-god as if God has given only their religion to follow. If he does not follow that he is an enemy to God, an infidel and deserves to be killed. Though God any way is going to destroy him, but if you destroy him, God will be pleased that you have proved your faith. This is the double standard. The values are not common. For followers one set of values, for non-followers another set of values. Killing gets a sanction. That is why these are all dangerous religions. And I say all converting religions are dangerous.”
He also addressed the label of “fundamentalist” applied to those who criticize missionaries; according to him, there is a misunderstanding in the issue of religious freedom.
“It is like somebody wanting freedom to destroy me. If I do not give this freedom, I become a fundamentalist. But if I give them the freedom to destroy me, then I am a liberal, my religion a free religion. That’s it. Now this very concept of freedom itself has to be questioned, examined and told to the people.”
“I give them the freedom to follow what they follow. But I want them to leave me free to follow what I believe! They cannot say evangelising is not against other religions. It is against other religions; conversions are against other religions. We don’t believe in conversion itself. We do not accept that, we do not do that.”
On reconversion: “There is no re-conversion. There is a prodigality and they come back. like a prodigal son. We do not even need to baptise. We have to ask him to give up beef that is all.”
The interview with Swami Dayananda Saraswati is no longer available at its original URL: http://www.newstodaynet.com/swami.htm – 11 May 2017.