Hindus still await Mormon Church apology over Gandhi baptism
Hindus appalled at the reports of proxy baptism of peace icon Mahatma Gandhi by The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (LDS) are still waiting for an official apology from its leadership.
Hindu statesman Rajan Zed, in a statement in Nevada (USA) today, said that Gandhi baptism reports appeared in the media on February 27, but the LDS President Thomas S. Monson or its other leaders were yet to come out with an apology and explanation on how this happened despite calls by Hindus. It was insensitive and hurtful to the feelings of about one billion Hindus spread worldwide.
LDS should urgently issue a formal apology, explain the circumstances how Gandhi baptism happened and assure the hurt Hindu community that baptism of their ancestors would not take place without their will/request in the future, Zed, who is President of Universal Society of Hinduism, noted.
Rajan Zed argued that LDS being a responsible organization with over 14 million membership and worldwide presence should show some maturity and transparency in this matter. Besides immediate apology, they should also come up with detailed report on how many Hindus had been baptized without the will/request of their living relatives.
Zed stressed that proxy baptism of their ancestors, who lived and died as Hindus, was simply not acceptable and LDS should assure them that they would develop an “effective” mechanism and safeguards to ensure that this would not happen in the future without the will/request of the living relatives.
Rajan Zed further said that Hindus and most probably other faith communities worldwide would be willing to work with LDS to build bridges of understanding. He pointed out that they would gladly support the LDS endeavors if they made a good-faith effort and organized a meeting of various religious groups to help them set up such a mechanism.
Zed indicated that the February 29 LDS directive to its congregations worldwide that “Those whose names are submitted for proxy temple ordinances should be related to the submitter” was a “step in the right direction” but its implementation should be wholehearted and transparent.
Rajan Zed explained that Hindus did not mark death as the end of existence. Ancient Hindu scripture Bhagavad-Gita (Song of the Lord) referred to death as abandoning of worn-out clothes and acquiring new ones. Hindus believed in reincarnation with moksha (liberation) as a goal; which brought end to rebirth, embodiment and death.
Zed pointed out that ancestors had always been highly important in Hinduism since ancient times. Hindus followed sraddha, pitryajna, pinda, etc., rituals for their ancestors. It would be really painful for Hindus if they came to know that somebody unrelated performed some rites on their ancestors without even asking them.
Emails sent by Rajan Zed to LDS officials on this issue carrying short letter addressed to Monson on February 24 have remained unanswered till now.