Stan Swamy has saved India by his death. The world has come to know how the Indian regime could crucify one who worked for the most oppressed. Our constitutional democracy obviously has not changed the hearts of those who don’t love the Tribals and Dalits as fellow human beings, writes Kancha Ilaiah Shepherd
Father Stan Swamy (Stanislaus Lourdusamy) who was systematically sent away to heaven, certainly not to hell as they wanted, from a Mumbai private hospital by the Indian government agencies on 5 July 2021, is in my view the greatest saint in the Catholic history of India. Normally, sainthood is conferred upon a great Catholic by the Vatican through an elaborate process. But Fr Stan Swamy’s sainthood is bestowed on him by WE THE PEOPLE OF INDIA – the Adivasis, Dalits and Shudras. From the time he started work in Ranchi, Jharkhand, the 84-year-old worked tirelessly for the poor, exploited and oppressed masses. He was persecuted for standing up for the human rights of the Adivasis to the point that despite limited judicial intervention, he was allowed to die from criminal neglect.
Cruelty of this kind on an old and infirm priest is unparalleled. The Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS) and the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) central government has shown its contempt for his selfless service to the Tribals of India. This is not what the Indian civilization and culture stands for. The productive mass civilization of India salutes Stan Swamy for the sacrifice he made for its people.
St Thomas, one of Jesus’ original 12 disciples, was martyred in today’s Tamil Nadu in the first century of the Christian Era. St Thomas travelled all the way from Palestine (Israel) and planted the message of Jesus Christ so that it could take root in Indian soil, which it did. That was not an era of nationalism. It was an era of Jesus’s death and resurrection for all of humanity’s liberation from sin, slavery, ignorance and superstition. India needed such a messenger from outside at that time because of the brutal varna dharma that the brahmanical ancestors of the present Hindutva forces inflicted on the productive masses of India who built this civilization from Harappan civilization onwards.
They destroyed the human soul in this land of great Harappan civilization by creating caste and untouchability. All the food producers and artisans, those who worked with their hands, were rendered soulless by their brahmanical teachings and practices. They needed somebody from outside to instil a soul among them. St Thomas lit that flame and was martyred in our land.
Centuries after St Thomas, Mother Teresa who came from Albania spent most of her life ministering to the poorest of the poor – Dalits, Adivasis and Shudras – in India and also those who were suffering with leprosy and other serious diseases. For their services, shortly after her death, the Vatican declared her a saint. However, during her life of service, she encountered several insults from the same Hindutva forces. At a time when she was serving leprosy patients no RSS activist or Hindu saint was touching such Indians, let alone serving them. Their nationalism was working around the rich and healthy.
Stan Swamy was never a believer in violence. He went from his native Tamil Nadu to the central Indian tribal regions to educate them through various legal institutions. Since colonial times, Christian educational institutions and hospitals have worked to improve the life of such oppressed masses. One does not know how the central government and its National Investigation Agency (NIA) came to the conclusion that this frail, old man supposedly conspired against the Indian State. This is unprecedented!
Furthermore, it is hypocritical. Most of the English-medium-educated ruling class of India – including many top leaders of the BJP – studied in Christian educational institutions and even have been treated for serious ailments in their hospitals. Even today schools and colleges run by the Jesuits of India are among the most preferred by the Indian elite. Stan Swamy was associated with many such institutions. He was director of the Indian Social Institute, Bangalore in the 1970s and 1980s, which had a great reputation for social work. Such a man, that too in his 80s, was accused of being a Maoist and arrested under the draconian law – the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act, which virtually declares you guilty until proven innocent.
Stan Swamy has saved India by his death. The world has come to know how the Indian regime could crucify one who worked for most oppressed. Our constitutional democracy obviously has not changed the hearts of those who don’t love the Tribals and Dalits as fellow human beings. The ruler’s heart hangs around the wealthy who have no moral value of sharing the wealth with the poor even when they are dying in a pandemic. Their spiritualism hangs around brahmanical saints who establish institutions in the West and accumulate wealth but not around those like Stan Swamy who left a comfortable life in Tamil Nadu and lived among Adivasis for decades to give them human dignity and self-respect.
They saw in St Stan a moral house that was accommodating these homeless masses. Burning that house was their cultural nationalism. St Stan is not dead. That burnt house will not become ash. He resurrects and rebuilds many houses for the Tribals, Dalits, Shudras and the poor to live as proud Indians. St Stan’s love for all was deeply rooted in his nationalism as he lived among the Adivasis who are the actual inheritors of the great Harappan civilization.