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Published: 16 February 2012
NEVADA - In view of reported proxy baptisms of some prominent Jews, concerned Hindus have urged The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (LDS) to set-up a mechanism to avoid baptizing by proxy their deceased ancestors without their will.
Hindu statesman Rajan Zed, in a statement from Nevada (USA) today, said that although they had not received any reports yet of such proxy baptisms of deceased Hindus by LDS, but they were simply concerned after learning of posthumous baptizing of parents of a well known Jew, whose names were not submitted for baptism.
Zed, who is President of Universal Society of Hinduism, pointed out that Hindus did not mark death as the end of existence. Ancient Hindu scripture Bhagavad-Gita (Song of the Lord) referred to death as abandoning of worn-out clothes and acquiring new ones. Hindus believed in reincarnation with moksha (liberation) as a goal; which brought end to rebirth, embodiment and death.
Rajan Zed stressed that ancestors had always been highly important in Hinduism since ancient times. Hindus followed sraddha, pitryajna, pinda, etc., rituals for their ancestors. Hindu feelings would naturally be hurt if their ancestors were baptized without their will.
Zed noted that Hindus and most probably other faith communities worldwide would be willing to work with LDS to build bridges of understanding. He further said that they would gladly support the LDS endeavors if they made a good-faith effort and organized a meeting of various religious groups to come-up with a mechanism so that mistakes, errors, breaches and misunderstandings did not happen in the future in the area of proxy baptisms involving non-LDS ancestors.
Official LDS website says that the foundation of the doctrine of baptism for the dead comes from latter-day revelation through Prophet Joseph Smith. “By standing in as proxy for someone who has died — often one of his or her own ancestors — a Church member may be baptized on behalf of that deceased person…Lord does not damn those people who, through no fault of their own, never had the opportunity for baptism. He has therefore authorized baptisms to be performed by proxy for them...The validity of a baptism for the dead depends on the deceased person accepting it and choosing to accept and follow the Savior while residing in the spirit world”. Baptisms for the dead are performed only in temples because of sacredness involved and the ceremony reportedly involves immersion in water while dressed in white clothing.
According to LDS sources, Jesus Christ is the head of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints which has been restored by God through Joseph Smith (1805-44). This Salt Lake City (Utah, USA) headquartered one of the fastest growing church is led by 15 Apostles, including President Thomas S. Monson (who is also considered a prophet); first and second Counselors Henry B. Eyring and Dieter F. Uchtdorf respectively; and President of The Quorum of the Twelve Boyd K. Packer. LDS, also known as Mormon Church, which claims to be a Christian denomination, has 134 temples and a membership of over 14 million. Republican American presidential front-runner Mitt Romney is a Mormon and so is United States Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid.
Hinduism, oldest and third largest religion of the world, has about one billion adherents.