Caption: Harmony: Dr Oscar Rebello, who admits to being a close friend of Subhash Velingkar, is a self-professed agnostic does not believe in any myths, whether it is the myth about Parshuram or the sainthood of Goencho Saib – St Francis Xavier. Dr Oscar however, believes that we should not encourage any attempts at disturbing the communal harmony of Goa.

Intro: Activists Dr Oscar Rebello pleads that we should maintain the communal harmony of Goa. Pray to any god you want to but don’t denigrate the faith of others who may worship their own gods.

By Dr Oscar Rebello

JUST as the temperatures are soaring, the heat stifling, all the mangoes thus far still not yet ripened to their killer sweet taste, the same political class lording over us with fake promises and fake pipe dreams all over again,

Prof Subhash Velingkar drops a sweltering bombshell on our buffet table.

Saint Francis Xavier must be dethroned as Goencho Saib. As if our diarrhoea of inane ideas regarding Goa had not run its full course. Let me start off with two caveats. I know and am very fond of Prof Subhash Velingkar.

I disagree with his RSS worldview virulently, but he’s a great guy to have a conversation with (try it with your political opponents, it’s very illuminating) and I can swear his personal integrity is unmatched and he passionately believes in his causes, however controversial, without ever flinching.

The second caveat which I reiterate is I am a passionate advocate of atheism or at least agnosticism. I was raised a Catholic, until I attained the age of reason.

So no, you can’t get me to believe about saintly miracles and virgin births, or land being created by a bow or arrow, or prophets riding up to heaven on a chariot of horses. All this is scientifically untenable illogical and doesn’t pass muster with my arrogant, non-conformist, science-is-paramount mind (I however read the Bible, the Gita and the Quran often and try to absorb life’s teachings and code of conduct mentioned therein. The rituals and unscientific fables I do not swallow).But that’s me!! The rest of you have the full right to completely believe and surrender to the teachings of religion if it offers you solace and comfort.

As long as you do not denigrate another set of beliefs you do not subscribe to.

So pray to your God by all means.

But woe betide if you mock another God only to demonstrate your God is superior.

The state must crackdown on you with all its might.

No arguments!! (This holds true for Christian evangelists and Islamic preachers as well, who often tread this despicable path).

So coming back to this Vekingkar kerfuffle which is nothing but a BJP ploy to keep the communal cauldron stirring till 2024. They know that is the only recipe to bake their third successful pie in 2024. There is one point that Prof Velingkar makes which is historically sound and strikes a chord.

Sambhaji, the valiant Maratha king who tried to beat the pants off the Portuguese in the 17th century, invaded the Zuem (St Estevam) Fort and was within hand-shaking distance of Old Goa. The Portuguese tyrants ruling us would have met their Waterloo if he had invaded Old Goa.

However, the Mughals, led by that other barbarian Aurangzeb, had invaded large parts of Maharashtra and Sambhaji had to withdraw to defend Maharashtra. And Old Goa survived, by a hair’s breadth or as legend has it, the intervention of St Francis Xavier. And thus the legend of Goencho Saib was born. (I don’t believe in this balderdash of course because I don’t believe in miracles or saints.)

The point however that my good friend, Prof Velingkar, has to realise and come to terms with in the sunset of his life is this – You cannot relitigate  history. And you cannot expect present-day followers of SFX to be guilty of crimes committed by the Portuguese on the indigenous population then.

This is the 21st century, Sir. Kids today are happier in pubs and dance clubs chasing their own shadows rather than chasing irrelevant ghosts of the past. Their concerns, and rightly so, are about the environment and employment, corruption and climate change, cost of living and living peacefully having fun.

How long can you just foment the hate and the rancor and the constant sense of victimhood??

At least in Goa, Hindu Christian and Muslim youth have the same dreams and interests and truly they do not have the time or inclination to correct historical wrongs at the cost of social cohesion and peace. And importantly, Goencho Saib is a title given to SFX by the people of Goa.

Not by the government.

Not by an official decree.

Not even by a papal bull.

So he kind of lives in the hearts of his believers, giving them comfort and solace in their darkest times. Why grudge them that only to score cheap political brownie points that give you newspaper headlines for a while, but drives a wedge of suspicion between communities that lasts for generations.

Worse, needless controversies like this only re-invigorate the Churchills and Mickeys of the world, who are looking for political resurrection even though Easter is already over.

Sure, if a vast majority of Hindus believe in Lord Parshuram, please give him an honorific title by all means. But you do not need to snatch a title from one revered figure and give it to another.

That is mean.

That is spiteful.

Of course, there are controversies regarding SFX, particularly regarding his support to the ghastly Inquisition. But those are for scholarly debates, not some street brawls that provocative statements like these can trigger. The point, Prof Velingkar, is we are tired of being dragged into living in the past by the dominant RSS ideology.

We want to look to the future.

A future of gainful employment and zero corruption.

A future where the media and the judiciary develop a spine to uphold the Constitution.

A future where our environment and water and wildlife is protected.

A future where all communities can prosper without having to look over their shoulders.

A future where bigots of every religion are dealt with an iron fist by the State.

You are first and foremost an educationist, Prof Velingkar. Prophesise, celebrate, educate about our glorious Hindu past. It is important that all of us partake in that journey of the discovery of the Hindu civilisation. No issues with that. But you do not need to demonize the Christian and more importantly, the Muslim, to achieve that objective.

Especially the present-day Christians and Muslims who have never met SFX or the prophet personally themselves. Frankly, if you ask me, the two Goenchem Saibs we should be truly venerating today are Claude Alvares and Rajendra Kerkar — who are dedicating their lives to save Goa!!

Instead, the vast majority of Goans, in case you hadn’t noticed, are venerating casino owners and drug peddlers, illegal miners and shady land dealers through their political whores. That is the state we are in presently.

So is this the Ram Rajya the RSS envisages Prof Velingkar?? I can bet even if SFX and Lord Parshuram come together by some miraculous flight of fancy they couldn’t save the Goa of the gutters in this Kalyug of ours.

Of course, you have many detractors, but you are also an inspirational figure to lakhs, Prof Velingkar.

We need to fight the battle for the future of Goa.

The Past is the Past.

It only opens wounds which refuse to heal and end up with gangrene.

You surely wouldn’t want that for Goa, would you??

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