[As told by Laxman to the writer]
I was from a family of pure orthodox Hindus. The village I was born and brought up consisted of Hindus in majority. Our family worshipped Lord Rama and Lord Krishna as it was in our heritage.
Although there were several other Gods in Hinduism, we were not allowed to worship them and even not allowed to visit their temples. Neither were we allowed to discuss about them or to read any literature about of them. Ours was said to be the best. Our God was considered to be the whole and sole Supreme God. We were even not allowed to listen to the reading of the scriptures of other Hindu Gods leave aside Christianity, Buddhism or Islam. We were also warned against Jainism. None of our elders ever gave the appropriate reason for that.
It was considered to be a great sin even if we talked something better about other Gods. So I could not go to other temples which had not ceremonised Lord Rama and Lord Krishna. I had never visited a Devi Temple, a Mosque, a Jain Temple or a Church and I had no idea of their worship and idols as no one ever dared to talk about other religions in our circle except criticizing them. I liked the external beautiful appearance of the Jain Temple in particular but I never risked entering in although any outsider was allowed to enter in.
In the temple, I bowed to the decorated idols of Lord Rama, his respectable wife Sita and His brother Laxman with Deva monkey known as Hanuman at His feet. In the other temple, I would bow to Lord Krishna accompanied by His female devotee Radha. I had no much knowledge about Radha as such.
I was told that Radha was the lover of Lord Krishna in her childhood and she was nearly eight years elder than Him. I was also told that she was a married woman but was badly in love with Lord Krishna. Her love was said to be pure and she would overlook all social restrictions to be with Lord Krishna. In other words, she was madly in love with Lord Krishna and no barrier of social restrictions stopped her from being with Lord Krishna as and when required.
Several of our followers mistook Radha as the better half of Lord Krishna. She was number one Gopi devotee of Lord Krishna who had hundreds of Gopis as His devotees in the village who were ever ready to sacrifiece everything for Him. They would abandon any house-hold work as it was during the sound of the flute of Lord Krishna and ran blindly to meet Him. Even the married Gopis were badly in love with Him.
Then there were the idols of Lord Krishna with his beloved wife Rukhsamani or Laxmi worshipped as Laxmi Narayan. I came to know from the reading of holy books that Lord Krishna had as many as sixteen thousand queens to serve Him. Ruxmanidevi was the head of the eight main queens.
It was very difficult for me to understand the way Lord Krishna dealt with all those wives as I was also told that all the wives had children through Him… But I had nothing to say as HE was the Almighty God and as a God He could do anything. I was not supposed to go in detail in such matters. If by mistake I did it, I would be cornered by my elders or the related religious people.
I had not much knowledge about Lord Rama except that he was most successful king of the time who ruled with dignity and wisdom. Citizens in his kingdom slept with doors open and justice was given equally to all. He was exiled in jungle for 14 years by one of His mothers. His father Dashrath had three wives, I learnt.
His wife Sita was kidnapped by the devil Ravana, the mighty King of Lanka- Ceylone of the present times- who was later on killed by Lord Rama and Sitadevi was rescued.
I had heard several interesting stories about Deva Hanuman, the Monkey God who was capable of enlarging his body size to his wish and who could fly at the height and the speed of his choice. He helped Lord Rama to bring back Devi Sita from the custody of Devil Ravan. He with the help of his monkey-army built the floating bridge to cross the Indian Ocean to reach Lanka.
Later on Shree Ramchandraji ignored Sitaji and sent her into the forest exile just because of the taunt from the Dhobi where she gave birth to intelligent twins. Later on Sitaji created suicide by jumping in the deep Earth when Lord Rama as her husband doubted her motherhood and summoned her for a trial in the court. Laxman also created suicide by biting his tongue when Lord Rama abandoned him.
Although many of us had some questions regarding the matter, no one ever dared to ask the seniors about it. Religious scriptures written by the learned persons were considered to be true by all means and no doubt of any sort was supposed to be raised against them. Most of the religious knowledge was collected from the daily readings in the temple where we were compelled to go and listen to at least one session.
I was not allowed to argue or to doubt any part of the readings but to believe all that was said otherwise I would be ill-blessed to a failure life. I should follow in the foot steps of my elders but should never argue. Religious rites were passed by heritage and were to be followed by all means.
The sect was ruled by the saints of the temple who had the final say over all religious matters. No one would ever ignore their decision and they were considered to be always right and their decision was final.
They were approached now and then even on family matters. Some domestic issues were even forwarded to them and at most events they were sorted out. They were highly respected and their advice or decision was taken as the right and final solution.
Saints of the temple were once the householders but had abandoned the family life because of a quarrelsome wife, great debts where they were unable to pay or some family disputes which were difficult to be sorted out by them. Once ceremonised as saints they would be highly respected by each and every followers of the sect, never bothering about their previous lives. Those saints would never deal with the matters touching their previous lives. They would never visit the villages of their past.
I was confused to see my poor mother always on a bed of sickness although she was the person in our family who devoted most of her time to praying and observing religious events. She went to the village temple twice a day on regular basis. She strictly obeyed the rules and regulations of the religion. She would not take even water from the unknown persons leave aside taking outside food. She would carry on fasts twice a month on the eleventh day of the Hindu month [Ekadshis] without fail. She also carried out some cleaning work in temple on regular basis when she was well.
I could not understand why my younger sister was paralyzed at such an early age when she was always a regular temple visitor. She would at many events sing the religious songs in the temple.
There was no explanation for the poor condition of my father when he was always ready to sacrifice his time and even belongings in the name of God. He used to go the temple early in the morning to beat the drum during the Arti session everyday. He used to serve the saints with his whole heart. At events even our entire family stayed hungry for a day but would serve the saints of the temple with delicious food.
I even tried to pray hard for my family but neither Lord Krishna nor Lord Rama had listened to my prayers so far. I believed that in times of need if one prays whole heartedly, Lord would sort out his problems. Perhaps my problems were in the waiting list as I found most of the followers with a certain problem.
But also on constant prayers, my family’s condition detoriated instead of improving. Why all these deficits when all of us were the true bonafide followers of the sect and had never wronged any one? What made our said God to ignore or overlook our daily prayers when they were from the bottom of our hearts?
That made me to lose confidence in the said Gods. Perhaps I had no proper way of praying but God whom I believed to be everything and aware of everything did not respond to me reasons beyond my understandings. If He was said to be knowing everything, why did He not see our condition where mostly all my family members were in problem?
Time worsened and we had no sources of income. We could hardly eat properly from the very little income I got from my labour work. I had no means of paying for the medicine of my sick mother and to maintain a handicapped sister. My father had a long history of not working since my mother fell sick. He was supposed to look after her full time and he looked after my sister also. He had no time to look after the two women and to work for bread. So he stayed home to serve my mother and sister and to go to temple regularly.
The temple-committee knew our problem but did not dare to offer a helping hand towards us. Some of the good neighbours and relatives gave some items of food or second hand clothes to move on. But it did not sort out the matter. At events some villagers paid for the medicines of my mother that helped for time being.
Four of us in the family and three of them not working and two of them always sick. The survival from the restricted income of one person could not make any real sense. As apart from the daily bread, two of my family members needed medicine on regular bases. Survival was really very difficult for us under the present tense circumstances.
I happened to get the work of a gardener in the Church Diocese. The salary was good. I was given a couple of new dresses, shoes, in the first week. Next time I was given flour, cooking oil and ghee for my home. Sometimes, I was given some fresh vegetables and fruits by the Father who was in-charge of the Church. He was very kind and generous. He talked with me very sweetly whenever he passed by the Garden. He seemed to be a very kind person. He was of the category of the senior saint in my religion but I found a big difference between him and my Guru.
My said GURU had asked me about my household problem once. I had talked about my problem to him a couple of times where he seemed not to be interested in my affair as I had not paid my yearly donation to the village temple for a couple of years. He never thought of my situation where I was unable to feed my family, how was me able to raise the donation?
I had an opportunity to see the Church, its hall and the prayers
where several people who wore the cross around their neck came together on Sundays in good dress. Most of them were from my village and the neighbouring three villages who were in a way or the other ignored by the well to do society in times of need. The Church had come to their aid in times of need and they had very willingly surrendered to the Church and adopted Christianity. Most of the members attending Church were ignored Hindus. They were much better of after joining the Church, I could see from their movements.
I had learnt of the goodness of the Church, Christian religion and especially the Father in charge who as very kind, generous and friendly to all. He took keen interest in the problems of the followers and helped them as and where required.
There was a missionary school nearby where it was said that the education was free and it helped all the needy people regardless of their caste and religion. The school also provided books, school dress and other stationary for studies at no charges. Good lunch was provided by the school on regular basis. It was said that the school had the blessings from Lord Jesus, the true Son Of God and all those who surrendered to Him were rescued.
I ventured to go to the school and even risked to talk to the Father in the Church nearby. I was so much convinced by his polite talk and advice that from the same time, I resolved to surrender to Lord Jesus whatever may come…
I talked about it to the Father and he blessed me in the name of Lord Christ and assured me to have my mother and sister cured through the prayers. He also promised me to help for total medical expenses for both my mother and sister. He also advised me to admit both of them in the nearby Christian Hospital and everything will be done at no cost at all. He agreed to write me a supporting letter for that. I was really happy to hear that. I saw some hope in his talk and decided to follow him further for the general benefits of my family members.
Surprisingly to the fierce opposition from my father, my mother agreed to visit the Church and abide by all the rules of Christianity if my sister would be cured. It was really very difficult for us to survive under the present circumstances and we needed somebody reliable to relieve us from the problem. The Father of the Church had come in our contact at the very appropriate time.
There was a serious murmur in the village. I was being looked on as if I had committed some crime. The villagers changed their behavior towards me and I was treated as if I was a part of untouchables. I was even barred from taking part in village ceremonies and festivals. I was even shunned from visiting the relatives. Going to the temple was difficult for me. No religious people dared to talk to me on the way and I was totally ignored by my relatives and the followers of the temple.
My father was so fierce with me that he even tried to slap me hard when he left the house forever leaving us unhelped… Now the responsibility of the whole family came on my side- earning and serving the sick ones.
My relatives were not happy at all to see me converting to another religion when I was a born as a Hindu family who were all committed Hindus for generations. The village Chief warned me very harshly of my dark future if at all I joined the Church. It would be very difficult for me to stay in the village peacefully if I did so, I was warned.
I talked over the matter with the Father and he arranged for our residence in the school-compound. I had no regrets at all leaving my village, my relatives and above all my religion if my problems were sorted out without much fuss. I was really in a mess and I had no alternative to come out from the very critical situation.
I was offered a job in the Christian farm and I could easily maintain my mother and sister from the income. I was already given a reasonably good house to stay. My salary was also good where I could save some money for the future.
Now we loved one another very much. The past was gone. God’s grace had made the difference. A deep affection and feeling grew towards each other. In a brief ceremony we were accepted as bonafide members of the Church. Holy water was given to us with a cross to wear around our neck and a holy Bible in Gujerati and the Testaments.
We all prayed to Lord Christ and we had not to wait for long for the blessings to come. We had some exciting times as we began to share with each other what we were learning from Bible and the Church.
My mother read Bible with enough faith. She had enough faith that her daughter would be healed by Jesus. Gradually the miracle took place. We all found my sister grew stronger, began to stand a little and then to take hesitant steps holding onto walls.
Within a few months she was found moving around in the Kitchen, helping my mother to prepare food and in no time she was as normal as before. To her amazement my mother found her in proper health and had no symptom of sickness on her body…. What the best medical experts and highest paid Hindu healers could not do, Jesus did within short time. I was really relieved from a great stress.
These NEWS spread in my village in no time. Several visitors came in steady stream to the school compound to check out the rumours. They were surprised to see the condition of my sister, whom they considered to be ill-blessed by evil spirits. My mother’s healthy condition was the matter of envy among them. But surprise and miracle soon turned to active hatred and grudges from the villagers, mainly my relatives.
They claimed that we have destroyed our Hindu idols. But we did not. We had very respectfully returned them to the village temple.
I tried in a polite manner to explain the failure of those Hindu Gods to help us and told them of the true God who had come into the field to help us openly. The outcome was open for all of them to see.
Few of them were convinced by my true faith in Lord Christ. They had seen it working, as both my mother and the sister were quite in order and had started working in the Church Compound. Some of them were really impressed by the truth in front of them. It was a miracle which none other than the Almighty Lord Jesus could perform. There was a truth in the Christian God- they concluded.
A person who was unable to get enough food even after working like a donkey was now in good clothes and good house with a balance in the village bank. That was really interesting. The truth was in front of them. It became the talk of the village.
My change of life became the center of talks among the poor class and all those who had faced problems like me. My improvement of my status was the talk of the district as a whole. Several people were tempted to adopt the new religion and many of them did so without much fuss or fear. Now I was not alone. More than a dozen of villagers were accepted by the Church and all of them were settled in different centers as per their experience and capacity.
But the religious leaders in the town were not happy to learn that. They saw their setback in my progress. They were in fear that several other followers like me would run away from them and be converted to Christianity if that was the case. They became alert to see that no more destitute Hindus followed in my foot steps.
They came in the village and had the meeting with the Village Temple Committee and advised the members to look into the matter of the very poor members like me and recommend the support and the financial assistance they needed.
Once helped by the temple they would never think of going to the Church. Little late but they realized the truth and I was happy to learn that. It could be very useful to some of the other members of my type. Although I had left Hindu Religion behind very far, I had nothing against it. Truly speaking it was not the religion but the followers who were not following the truth.
My father even visited us to our surprise and he was pleased to see my sister’s condition. But he advised me to come back to Hinduism. He talked about Lord Christ as the Son of God and not the God Himself. He tried to convince me that it was Krishna who came back as Lord Jesus. Every Hindu who knows about Him believes that Jesus as one of the incarnations of God. But one should not become a Christian because he believes that Jesus is a God.
My father did not object of my belief towards Christianity-whatever I believed, but he firmly advised me that I should not change my religion. I must always remain a Hindu. He was not against Christianity and Lord Jesus but he was against my changing to Christianity. He also agreed to allow me to visit Church at events while still being a Hindu. I could not agree to him and he left us as previously.
What a transformation had taken place in my life? Instead of hatred and bitterness, I had harmony and joy. The difference Lord Jesus had made was so great that it caused daily astonishment to each of us. We were in the complete safe atmosphere with the true blessings of the Lord.
As a Hindu, I had no concept of forgiveness because there was no forgiveness in practice among my circle although the Hindu Religion was based on kindness and forgiveness.
But I forgave every one who defied me. I also had the courage to forgive all those who opposed and very harshly criticized my adoption of Christianity. I had no grudges with any one, not even my enemies. That was the best teaching I was given by the Father in charge of the Church.
It worked as another miracle. I forgave my relatives for what they did for me and only in the second year I found my father accompanied by many other relatives at the school-compound just requesting us to come back home at any conditions. None of them were going to point an accusing finger at us. We were free to worship Lord Jesus without any complain.
We had no conditions to put. God had heard all our prayers and my father and relatives vowed not to interfere with our beliefs in Christ and no one even would dare to abuse us for we have been converted to Christianity. I was free to worship as a Christian and my father as a Hindu. We had no more differences.
I looked at my mother. She was joyous and delighted to return back to home, her HOME for which she had struggled for years.
Now the family life was quite different. Mum and dad maintained the calm and loving relation which they had hardly observed in the past. Perhaps it was for the first time in their life that both of them were very much concerned about each other. No more differences. No more quarreling. Everything compromising. I was very happy to see the changed atmosphere between my parents.
My father was proud to have a son like me. The neighbours, although showed a disliking towards Christianity, did not reveal any unfavorable manners. They were quite co-operative and free with us. The village chief was bit harsh and he was annoyed to see a Hindu going to Christ. He blamed my father for it but my father by this time learned to be polite and soft hearted, faced him with ease. And he later on did not bother much about it.
Our family Brahmin came to our house to give us the final advice and hesitated even to sit on the place which according to him was polluted by Christianity. The temple-priest murmured few words of curse on my family as though Christianity was a religion of devil to his understanding. Few of my relatives declared our house as the out-law and they would not dare to maintain the relation of any sort with a family who attached themselves to the Christ.
All that period, we maintained peace and prayed to the Lord to guide and forgive those people. They were ignorant and what they were doing was unknown to them.
No one of us even had a word of any grudge towards all those people. It was not their fault but their understandings and orthodox beliefs. To them Hinduism was the only true religion of the world. The rest were all nuisances. I never believed so. I still considered Hindusim as a religion of worthy cause and it has its part to play.
But Lord was in action. He would not tolerate his followers to be badly treated for long. He acted and there was no more disliking and grudge against our family. The jealousy and hatred replaced AFFECTION and understanding.
Although not many of them came to Christianity no one ever dared to abuse the truth of Lord Jesus. Many of them even tried to praise the Lord by accepting the existence as the incarnation of Lord Vishnu.
Having had enough knowledge about Lord Rama, Lord Krishna and Geeta, I started gathering enough knowledge about Ibrahim, Moses, Christ and His Church and Ten Commandments from the Bible. I found life worth living and had no regrets at all to gain the new knowledge.
Although I had left Hinduism far behind, I had no disliking nor grudge against it. I had still maintained my back-ground of Hinduism, a good part of it. My social structure and the eastern culture were all as a Hindu.
I had no grudges with any of my Hindu brethrens. I could see the Lord in all of them in the image of the Jesus and later on I came to find and realize that Lord Rama, Lord Krishna and Lord JESUS WERE THE SOURCE OF THE SAME GOD-HEAD LORD VISHNU. So what was the fuss about? Both the religions taught to be kind, generous, peaceful and overall a good person with affection towards everyone regardless of any differences of social and religious renderings.
The Christian way of life was bit better and worth living even under tense circumstances as you were never left alone during bad times.
Church as a whole was there to help you as and where required. The members of the Church would come forward to share your problems without ever asking.
There was no discrimination among members as it was in Hinduism. There are no untouchables in Christianity. That was the prominent plus point of the Faith. You all pray together in the Church regardless of tribe or status. You eat together-poor and rich and you move together weak and strong. You are never jealous of your Christian brother. And above all Jesus Christ being your God in good and bad you feel yourself safe at all events. Strong and firm brotherhood among all Christians was the prominent base of the religion.
The life became worth living much far better than the previous one. Changing to Christianity changed my entire life and I found myself to be the happiest person of the world to see my handicapped sister turning to normal and getting married with a very well natured Christian and my mother always with the happy smile.