Buddhist Conversions in India

Vishvapani

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It was November 3, 2001, the day before the long-awaited mass conversion. Ram Raj had been expecting one million to attend. Agitated, he appeared at my hotel soon after I arrived in Delhi: “Quickly, we have little time,” he shouted, and six of us crammed into a car. Raj barked into his cell phone as we weaved through the crazy Delhi traffic. This was a crisis.

“I’m underground. This morning the government banned the conversion, and they want to arrest me,” Raj explained. “They say so many people converting will threaten public order. So they’ve barricaded the venue and are turning people back.” The car arrived at Raj’s headquarters where he gave an impromptu press conference. “This affronts freedom of religion. The Hindus are afraid. Their time is ending!” Welcome to Buddhism, North Indian style.

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