HOW CHRISTIANS VIEW EACH OTHER
53. It is an indisputable fact that the Church is divided and that all attempts to unite them seem to have had little impact. Great ecumenical conferences occur virtually unnoticed. Even at the World Council of Churches the Eucharist cannot be celebrated together. And all the while new Christian denominations are coming into existence. Most Christians are shamed by this disunity.
54. It was Pope John the XXIII who said, 'Whenever I see a wall between Christians, I try to pull out a brick'. Christians are for the most part scandalized that Christ's Church should be divided, but continue to strive for the elusive unity that acknowledges 'one body and one Spirit one Lord, one faith and one baptism'.
55. But there is a deeper division emerging between Christians which goes beyond denominational boundaries. Historically, the Church has been seen as an institution. In recent years, however, another model of the Church has emerged both from within mainstream Christianity and from the newer Churches. This image has more to do with community and communion than with structures. It has challenged the status quo by enthusiastically embracing ecumenism, ensuring inclusiveness and engaging other faiths. It has demanded more inclusive communities in terms of gender, ethnicity, wealth, race, nationality, and sexual orientation. The emphasis disowns the triumphalism of the past with its images of Christ the King and concentrates its ministry amongst the poor and the powerless, as a Servant Church. It is difficult to imagine these models of Churchmanship can ever be reconciled, but this is not a new problem either for Christians or most other religions where there are often tensions between the priestly and prophetic elements. Most Christians, however, hope that this can be a creative tension which will ultimately refine the Church and make it more effective to serve the present age.
HOW CHRISTIANS VIEW OTHER RELIGIONS
56. There are three basic positions held by Christians today. The first is argued from the exclusivist perspective which affirms that Christianity is utterly unique and absolute; other religions may point to God, but salvation comes through Christ alone. Secondly, there are those who hold an inclusivist position contending that Christ's love exists ‘incognito’ in all the world religions. One theologian speaks of anonymous Christians among other religions. However, some Christians are offended by the assumption that Christianity is the norm against which all others are judged. A third perspective is that of the pluralist which sees Christianity as one religion among many that expresses God's reaching out to humanity.
A NEW SPIRITUAL DISPOSITION
57. It is unlikely that these views will ever be reconciled but for the purpose of collaborative working within the Prison Service Chaplaincy, Christians should be encouraged to recognise in people from all religions, examples of faith, hope and love which bind them together against some of the destructive forces of a highly secularised world. Almost three centuries ago a Christian writer declared that the single most important thing is that all people of faith speak honourably of the work of God and kindly of his messengers, whoever they may be. It is in this spirit that Christians anticipate and welcome a fully inclusive Chaplaincy in the belief that humanity yearns for Shalom and that maybe the religions of the world can provide the spiritual basis for justice, love and peace.
Reverend Alan Ogier
Superintendent Methodist Chaplain
Annex C (i)
PART 1: PRACTICE OF HINDUISM IN PRISONS
1.1 Requests for a Hindu Chaplain should be made to the local Hindu temple or community. Alternatively, consult the Religious Consultative Service for the Hindu faith. The details are as follows:
Dr H V S Shastry
The Bhavan Centre
4A Castletown Road
Tel: 020 7381 3086/4608
Fax: 020 7381 8758
The endorsement of the Hindu Religious Consultative Service is required for appointments of all Hindu Chaplains.
2.1 This can be on any day but is usually held on Sundays. A quiet room set aside is acceptable.
2.2 Ablution facilities available in establishments are normally adequate for ritual washing requirements. (See paras 5.2 – 5.3 below).
2.3 Private religious practice is possible for Hindu prisoners in their cells or rooms.
Dates on which Hindu prisoners must be excused work
Maha Shivaratri a day of fasting; Lord Shiva is worshipped throughout the night (usually in March).
Shri Rama Navani The festival to worship Lord Rama (usually held in March or April)
Shri Krishna Janmashtami Celebration of Lord Krishna's birthday (at midnight) (usually in August).
Shri Ganesha Pooja Worship of Lord Ganesh (Aug -Sept)
Navaratri nine nights to worship Power in order to destroy the evil (usually in October).
Vijayadashami/Dasha Hara – Navaratri ends
Diwali the festival of lights and welcoming the new year (usually in November)
Other festival dates
Makara Sankramana/Sankranti/Uttarayana Punkayala
Holi: the festival of colours: to welcome the spring season, people rejoice by throwing colours at one another (usually in March).
Baisakhi: celebrated in the Punjabi Community (usually in April)
Rakhee or Raksha Bandhan commemorates the sacred relationship between brothers and sisters. (usually held in August).
Dates of these and all other religious festivals are published annually in a PSI.
4.1 Many Hindus are strict vegetarians and will not eat meat, fish, eggs or food containing egg. Others may eat meat and fish but not beef and rarely pork. Hindus generally avoid tobacco and alcohol.
Dress and hygiene
5.1 There is no special requirement for men. Most women wear a saree or a Salwar kameez. Some married women wear a coloured spot, known as a Bindi, on the forehead. Jewellery worn by men and women usually has religious or cultural significance and therefore should be respected.
5.2 Hindus take particular care over personal washing and it is important for them to be able to have a shower. Most Hindus would wish to bath or shower every day. They would also wash their hands before and after eating, as many Hindus use their hands in eating.
5.3 Hindus would also wash themselves with running water after using the lavatory. If running water is not available in the toilet cubicle, then the prisoner may need to carry water in a jug etc.
Artefacts and books
6.1 Hindu prisoners may wish to have in possession some or all or the following items:
Mara - prayer beads (comprising 132 small beads);
Murti - a statue, from 2 inches in height, made of either metal, wood, glass, stone or marble,
or alternatively an image or photograph, of the God Krishna, or other Gods;
Incense sticks and holder – incense is normally burned during prayer;
Small bell – used when beginning and ending prayer rituals;
Gita - Holy book.
6.2 Copies of the Bhagavadgita are available from the Hindu Chaplain.
7.1 There are several variations in the name system of Hindu families, depending on area of origin. But there are always three parts to the name.
Names prevailing in the northern part of India:
(i) (ii) (iii)
e.g. Jagadeesha Kumar Sharma
i. The first part is the first name used by friends and close relatives. This is the given name. This part indicates the sex of the individual as well. Most of these names have a meaning in a dictionary. E.g. Jagadeesha = Lord of the universe.
ii. The second part is the middle name, which is complementary to the first part; it cannot be used separately and is not the equivalent of a European surname. It also indicates a person’s gender.
iii. The third part consists of one's family name or father's name and is equivalent to the European surname.
The names prevailing in the southern parts of India
(i) (ii) (iii)
e.g. M.N. Balakrishna Rao or
M.N. B Rao
The first part consists of the initials, which, when expanded contain the birthplace and father's name. E.g. M. N. = Mysore Nagendra.
The second part consists of the first name or given name.
The third part consists of the family name or surname.
7.2 There is no direct equivalent of Mr/Mrs/Miss/Ms in Indian tradition. The following is a guide:
Shri for Mr.e.g. Shri Naresh Kumar Patel;
Shrimati for Mrs e.g. Shrimati Nina Devi Sharma.
Sushi or Kumari for Miss e.g. Sushi Sunita Rani Singh, Kumari Mona Savant.
7.3 The term "Shri" is also used before a revered person or thing. e.g. Shri Bhagavadgita. The term "Ji" used at the end of any name also denotes respect. e.g. Balramji could mean Rev. Balram.
7.4 In Britain, it has become acceptable to use a title and family name (Surname). e.g. Mr Patel. Mrs Sharma. It is also acceptable to use a title plus the full name, e.g. Mr Naresh Kumar Patel, Mrs Brinda Devi Sharma.
Death and Funerals
8.1 When breaking the news of a death to a person of the Hindu faith, it needs to be borne in mind that the death of any person, even a distant relative, can have great significance and cause much distress to the bereaved. This should be borne in mind when informing the sad news to, say, a cousin or other relative.
8.2 Following a death, the whole family mourns for 10 days. Sometimes the family members and close relatives may not eat until after the cremation has taken place. Several ceremonies take place at and before the cremation.
8.3 A devout Hindu who is very ill or dying may wish to lie on the floor (close to the Mother Earth) and may welcome someone reading from any of the holy scripture of Hindus, especially from the Bhagavadgita.
8.4 The family of a dying prisoner should be consulted while determining the funeral rites. They may wish to call a Hindu priest to officiate the holy rites. The family should be consulted before anything is removed from the body before cremation. The Hindu Chaplain or an advisor from local Hindu temple will be able to advise.
8.5 The family should also be consulted before the body is touched (for removal etc.), as a non-Hindu touching the body may cause distress or offence. In the absence of guidance, the following considerations should be borne in mind:
no religious objects including jewellery should be removed from the dead body.
wrapping sheets should not contain any religious mark.
washing the body is a part of the funeral rite and will be done by relatives or as advised by the Hindu Chaplain.
The majority of adult Hindus are cremated. The eldest son of the dead person will wish to press the ignition button at the cremation. Where a Hindu prisoner attends a funeral, they will wish to shower; this is important for Hindus after they have taken part in funeral rites.
Marriage (see also CI 35/88)
A Registry office wedding will be followed by a ceremony in local hall. At any reception, accompanying prison officers are likely to be invited to eat with the wedding party.
Hinduism: The eternal tradition David Frawley.
Published by: Voice of India, 2/18, Ansari Road, New Delhi 110 002 INDIA
Explaining Hindu Dharma: A Guide for teachers Ed. Vishwa Hindu Parishad.
Karam House, 79, Lever Street, Manchester MI IFL. Tel: 01612368621
Am I a Hindu? : The Hindu Primer Ed. Viswanathan. Rupa & Co.
7/ 16, Ansari Road., Daryaganj, New Delhi 110 002 INDIA.
Bhagavadgita - as it is
Pub: ISKCON, Bhaktivedanta Manor, Dharam Marg, Hilfield Lane, Aldenham, Watford WD2 8EZ. U.K. Tel/Fax:01923 856269.
Hindu Dharma: The Universal way of life Rev. Chandrasekharendra Saraswati, Kanchi, INDIA. Bhavan Bookshop, London, 0207-381-3086
A Primer of Hinduism D. S. Sarma.
Pub: Bharatiya Vidya Bhavan, Bombay, 400 007 INDIA.
Hinduism: Doctrine and way of life C. Rajaji.
Pub: Bharatiya Vidya Bhavan, Bombay, 400 007 INDIA.
The book of Hindu Festivals and Ceremonies Om Lata Bahadur.
475, North Circular Road, Neasden, London NW2 7QG. Tel; 020 8450 8667
The Complete works of Swami Vivekananda Hindu Sacraments and Samskaras
For copies, telephone the Bhavan Centre Bookshop, London, 020 7381 3086