Hindus have strongly objected to Hindu deities being reportedly referred to as “false idols” on the opening day of the General Assembly of Church of Scotland on May 19 in Edinburgh (United Kingdom).
Hindu statesman Rajan Zed, in a statement in Nevada (USA) today, said that about one billion Hindus worldwide worshipped their deities almost on a daily basis and labeling them as “false” was highly hurting their feelings.
Zed, who is President of Universal Society of Hinduism, asked apology from Church of Scotland for this inappropriate language as these deities were highly revered in Hinduism. Symbols of any faith, larger or smaller, should not be mishandled, Zed stated.
Rajan Zed stressed that all religions should work together for a just and peaceful world. Dialogue would bring us mutual enrichment, Zed added.
What happened to the Church of Scotland’s friendly hand for interfaith dialogue towards various religious traditions, Zed asked. Last year Church reportedly affirmed its “Inter-Faith Agenda”, when to a questionnaire sent on inter-faith issues, resounding 85% answered that they felt inter-faith was an important area for the Church to be involved into today. Church website says: “The landscape of our country is no longer solely dominated with the steeples and crosses of Christians Churches, but is peppered by the arches and domes of temples, synagogues, gurdwaras and mosques…we are having to adopt practical ways of encountering people from other faith backgrounds, whether neighbours, shop keepers, co-workers, relatives or friends.”
This “false idols” reference was reportedly made while discussing allowing of use of hall of Queen’s Cross Parish (QCP) Church in Aberdeen, a Church of Scotland parish, by Hindu community. General Assembly continues till May 25.
A registered charity, Aberdeen Hindu Association (AHA), whose objectives include “promotion of religious harmony”, conducts three-hour pooja first and third Sunday of the month besides discourses and satsangs at QCP Church where Reverend Scott M. Rennie is the Minister and whose website says that its facilities are available for hire. Dr. Balasubramaniam Vijayan, Dr. Pradeep Kumar and Dr. Senthil Ragupathy are President, Secretary and Treasurer respectively of AHA; which was launched in 2010 and whose “ultimate goal” is “to have a place of worship (temple) for ourselves in the Northeast of Scotland”.
As is apparent from pictures posted on AHA website, during fortnightly pooja, statues and pictures of Hindu deities are placed inside the hall; with fruits, flowers, leaves, incense sticks and other pooja material placed before the images of deities, giving it the appearance of a sanctuary. Many of the devotees attend the pooja in traditional Indian dresses and scriptures are also brought in. Central to the Church of Scotland, majority church in Scotland, is “worship of God through following the teachings and examples of Jesus Christ”.
Hindu temples in Scotland include Edinburgh Hindu Mandir & Cultural Centre (EHMCC) in Leith, Hindu Temple of Scotland (HTOS) in Rutherglen, ISKCON Karuna Bhavan in Lesmahagow, Tayside Hindu Cultural and Community Centre in Dundee and Hindu Mandir Glasgow. EHMCC was reportedly a Presbyterian Church before it was acquired in 1986. Former Wardlawhill Church in Rutherglen, affiliated to Church of Scotland, was reportedly renovated and refurbished and converted into what is HTOS now.
Around 400 CE, St Ninian began the first large-scale Christian mission to Scotland, and now Church of Scotland, which calls itself “Reformed and Presbyterian”, has over 500,000 members and around 1,200 ministers. Headquartered in Edinburgh, Right Reverend Albert Bogle is the new Moderator, while Reverend John Chalmers is the Principal Clerk. Moksh (liberation) is the ultimate goal of Hinduism.