- Posted December 1, 2013 by
cleveland heights, Ohio
Religion, Experience and Life- Ravi Patel (True Story)
After my graduation I got a job and was working in a hospital. I had a co-worker named Paul about 50 years old. It was my first day on floor working Paul comes to me asks about my religion. Flawlessly, I answered Hinduism. That answer gave him great joy and fascination about India and our belief and tradition. After working with him for few months I figured he is very religiously preoccupied and knows lot about Hinduism and Indian Gurus, Gods and traditions. He was born as Greek orthodox Christian. He stills goes to his church every Sunday and also active participant there as I saw him reading his church prayers that he was singing that Sunday. Secretly, he started following Hare Krishna movement which was started by Swami Prabhupada upon his arrival to USA as name of ISCON(International Society for Krishna Consciousness). Certainly he knew everything about lord Krishna because of following ISCON for years. We had long discussion about religion in general beliefs and so on. He was afraid that other coworkers would know about him going to ISCON temple and some of his fellow church members would know about his presence in a Hindu based temple while believing in Jesus and attending church. For him Jesus and Krishna were the same, He stated that according to him Hinduism makes more sense to him but he still wants to stay attached to his own church and his own people. He was going through a conflict that is hard to explain.
One day he asked me to join ISKON temple for a special evening located in Detroit, Michigan. I never visited that temple so I agreed to join him as he loved that temple so much. We entered in a temple it was great silence and amazing atmosphere at the site. As part of hindu tradition there were lot of amazing god and goddess statues in temple. It was very normal for me as most of Hindu temples are built that way. At the entrance of the temple there was a statue of Swami Prabhupada and people were preaching to him same as Hanumanji or Krishna. I neglected to preach to a human who was died in 1977 and may be he had great philosophy and understanding of religion but praying to a human being and his statue was bit against my beliefs.
After the prayers and Prasad he donated 50 dollars in a donation box. I did not donated single penny. The fact was that he was Christian and I was Hindu and fact was that it was a Hindu temple. We did not talk much in a temple as it was quiet and lot of followers were all types of people white and black influenced by Prabhupada and wheat colored who new Krishna from their birth.
After few minutes there was a small presentation by guest speakers visiting from India about some important topic. We sat down in the corner as chief guest stated to by their introduction and followed by introducing creation of new and biggest hindu temple by ISKON in village named Mayapur birth place of Swami Prabhupada. The explain how big the temple would be and its religious importance and of course importance to be part of donating to the temple and visiting it after completion. I was quietly listening to all this and my mind would not stop arguing about every single sentence said by them except words ‘Jay shree Krishna’. After all these there was dinner I was hungry after 1 hour drive and staying in temple for another hour. We had a good meal after dinner I went into temple and finally donated five dollars from my pocket as for my share what I ate from the temple. It would feel bad for my consciousness if I had free food.
After meeting so many people around 300 in the get together, I was nauseated by the fact that all these people were so happy about building a multi-million dollar temple in India where most people can hardly afford food.
Around 7 pm we started our driving back to Toledo and that was the time we had this amazing discussion.
Paul: How did you like the hare Krishna temple?
Me: I said it was alright there is a huge temple in Bangalore and Ahmedabad that I have already visited and this is no different. I was shocked by amount of American followers but not impressed.
Paul: Why it is your own religion and one important part of it?
Me: How should I explain Paul? Alright think about money you donated in temple it was 50 dollars its approximately 2500 Indian rupees. Where do you think this money will go? Did Krishna asked in Gita to donate your wealth to his temple and did he asked to make his temples all around the world? To build a temple in India which is world largest ISCON temple. What good it would do to poverty, education, hospital system in India. Is this temple going to feed poor and help them earn money?
Paul: Why did you stayed away from Prabhupada statue and was so attracted to Hanumanji and Krishna Statue?
Me: For me Prabhupada swami was a philosopher who followed path of chetanya mahaprabhu and came to United States to popularize Krishna Consciousness. But all these achievement doesnot make him god and I would not accept to pray to a human because its illogical from my belief. If you love Krishna believe in what he said and pray to him but not the messenger who had intentions to popularize the concepts in west. For me religion is internal thing and any religious activity that allows spreading of god’s name is not good.
Paul: I only know Krishna because of Swami prabhupada and how can I forget him to introduce Krishna in my life?
Me: According to me Krishna is most adorable and lovable God would ever known to humans and it’s the fact the he is the only one connects to modern Kaliyuga society. For me I love Krishna and it is the only thing that matters when a human or organization comes in-between you and your beliefs than problem starts. Tell someone at the temple that you are Christian and still follow Christianity than you will find some answer or do opposite tell your pastor that you love Krishna and Jesus both at the same time. If you get the positive response from any than stay at that philosophy. I am against both. I love Krishna but I hate ISCON as much. You are hearing from a 23 yr old kid born and brought up in India knows very little about religions.
We left home after all these discussion. He called me the next day telling about how I changed his perspective to look at things and he understood about knowing God and spreading it purposefully to the people believing in other things.
He said, “I am going to stop going to ISKON temple as it promotes material beliefs of building temples not care much about human emotions. But I would still keep doing to Greek Church where I am from and where I belong and also stay aware there because I need one belief to survive different storms of life. Young man you have thought me something that I would have never seen from my own Eyes. Thank You for being my Guru”.
I had satisfaction that I did something that I felt right.
After this incident I started thinking critically about all the beliefs, traditions, superstitions, good, bad, right, wrong related to my own religion and then I started researching about other major religions. Journey continues.