A story about how a verse from the Bible changed the life of a Hindu girl and her transformative journey. Don’t miss to read on…
I was born and raised in a Hindu family in India. Growing up in a religious family, I was always encouraged to spend time in prayer. As a kid, I never went to school without a tilak (tilak is a mark, generally made on the forehead of a Hindu, indicating a person’s sectarian affiliation). I believed in Hindu gods and goddesses, but it was a very transactional relationship. My prayers to them were limited to the week before school exams.
Ironically, I went to a Catholic school where I was introduced to Christianity, but I always viewed Christianity as having nothing to do with me. Despite twelve years in a Catholic school, I never understood who Jesus really was nor what He did for me.
I graduated high school with flying colors. I was extremely happy that my prayers to the Hindu gods had been answered. I secured admission to the best college in the city. Paradoxically, this was a Catholic college run by the Jesuit fathers.
During my first year of college, I attended a mandatory class on religion, where people spoke about their faith. I observed that while the Christian students had a lot to say about Jesus, the Hindus like me were mute when it came to professing their faith. I knew nothing about the Gita (the Bhagavad Gita is one of the holy scriptures of Hinduism). All I knew was how to ask God for my wishes to be fulfilled. I felt embarrassed to call myself a Hindu.
Then a Christian professor played a video about Jesus from the movie, The Passion of Christ. I saw how brutally He was scourged and how much He suffered when He was nailed to the cross. I had tears in my eyes. I could barely watch the crucifixion. Sadly, even then, I did not know the real reason why he had died on the cross at Calvary.
But after watching that video, I started taking an interest in knowing more about Jesus. I visited public libraries to search for the Bible but with little luck. Then I decided to read the PDF version of the Bible available on the Internet. I started with the book of Genesis but did not find Jesus there. Then, I randomly searched for Bible verses on Google. A verse from the book of Matthew struck me: “Why do you see the speck that is in your brother’s eye but do not notice the log that is in your own eye?” (Matthew 7:3). This verse teaches us not to judge others.
A few weeks later, we had another religion class taught by a different professor. He asked each of us to share our beliefs and thoughts about our respective religions. Out of nowhere, I raised my hand and explained the verse above from Matthew—a shy Hindu girl sharing her thoughts about a Christian Bible verse! I believe my boldness was the work of the Holy Spirit. The professor had no idea that I was a Hindu. He liked my explanation and encouraged more people to speak up about their religion. This incident was a stepping stone in my conversion to the Catholic faith.
During this time, when I was coming to know Jesus and Christianity, I often asked myself, “Why do I always feel so peaceful in a church?” My experience in Hindu temples was quite different. There I found myself distracted by the shouts of vendors, the clanging of the temple bells, the priests chanting the mantras, and the rush of people pushing through large crowds to view the face of the gods. The peace I found in a church presented a stark contrast.
One day during the Covid lockdown, I stumbled upon a video on YouTube in which a priest explained in a lucid manner that no matter how many sins we have committed in our lives, we can still be reunited with God because His Son paid the price for our sins. Jesus Christ, Son of God, became human, lived among us, loved us, healed us, forgave sins, died on the cross and rose again from the dead, and now lives with us until the end of time.
Coming to know the Gospel changed my life. I learned that Jesus knows me and would love me even as a Hindu. Before, I had viewed Jesus as one of the many gods people worshipped, but now I realized who the true God is. None of the Hindu gods I had known had suffered and died for my sins. My heart filled with love for Jesus, and from that day, I considered myself a follower of Christ Jesus.
The Holy Spirit guided me to learn more about Jesus. I bought a Bible and started reading it. I was filled with admiration and love for Jesus. Previously, my relationship with God had been transactional. The fact that God loves me just as I am was a foreign concept to me.
I learned that Jesus wants to talk to me every day and to have a personal relationship with me. He loves me even when I am sinful. He is willing to forgive all my sins and accept me lovingly into His arms. I was not worthy of His love, but He loved me nonetheless. Today, my personal relationship with Jesus is the most important thing in my life.
While I was on this journey of establishing a personal relationship with Him, I had a dream in which I saw a man dressed in a brownish-red cloak walking in front of me on a road. The road was flanked by monsters on either side. The monsters wanted to harm me and made terrifying noises. However, these creatures started losing their vigor because of the man who was walking ahead of me. Because he was so powerful, they could not scare me or hurt me. I felt protected and safe in His presence.
I did not understand what the dream was about. But much later, a nun I knew from the Missionaries of Charity helped me interpret the dream. The man walking ahead of me was Jesus. He came to me to strengthen my faith in Him and protect me from the devil. I cried tears of joy after realizing that the creator of the sun, moon, and stars knows and cares for me.
It took me two years to convert to the Catholic faith, but when God opens a door, no person can close it. The Holy Spirit put angels disguised as men and women on my path to Catholicism. On June 25, 2022, I received the sacraments of Baptism, Holy Communion, and Confirmation. Today, I tell people about what Jesus did on the cross for them. I see Christ in every person I encounter. I wish to continue sharing the joy of the Gospel everywhere I can.
Sarina Christina Pradhan is 25 years old, and working in an audit firm. She is eager to share Jesus and His love, especially with those who are yet to know Him. She lives in Calcutta, India.
I was driving home when I noticed two street signs that seemed incongruous. The train station and shop signs were pointing in the wrong directions; the exact opposite ones, to be precise. If I were a tourist, a traveler who is not familiar with the suburb, I would have followed the sign and got lost. I guess somebody had moved the street signs as a prank or even as an intentional deception. In our walk with the Lord too, we need to know who is navigating us—God, ourselves, others, or the evil one. If we are not aware of our surroundings, we can easily get lost or misled. This Lent, whose voice will we listen to? Judas…the crowd…Pilate…or Jesus…?
To be good at anything, we have to put time, effort, and practice into it. The same applies to our preparation for eternity. How well are we going to do at the end of year exams if we have put little or no time towards studying during the year? Similarly, how well will we stand up on judgment day when we are held accountable for our lives? In our preparation period on earth for eternity, how much of our life was spent in prayer, good works, and sacrifice? Our Lord paid the ultimate price for our salvation, but we have to play our part. As He has graciously allowed us to be part of that sacrifice, let us not waste this valuable opportunity. He, through Calvary, has given us a chance to be part of His redemption, to be part of His sanctity, consequently allowing mere humans to be called into sainthood. What a privilege! As my mother would always remind us, children, this life of ours on earth, short or long, is but a preparation period, the springboard to eternity. How we fare in the structure of eternal life will be determined not only by Jesus’ death and resurrection, but by every thought, word, and deed we perpetrated during the time we spent on earth.
If your sacrifices are dragging you down and causing you to dread Lent—take heart. Our Lady at Fatima gave the children a prayer which offers compelling reasons to sacrifice. Her words may help dispel your Lenten dreads. The prayer begins: “O Jesus, it (this sacrifice I am making) is for love of You.” Why not borrow those words and make them your own? Telling Jesus you are doing this hard Lenten thing for love of Him may remind you why you are denying yourself in the first place: you are making room in your heart, so that you may love Him more. Further, the prayer helped the children offer their sacrifices for “the conversion of sinners.” You can do the same. When you make a Lenten sacrifice, offer it for a specific loved one who is living far from God. “O Jesus, this is for love of You, for the conversion of......” Praying in Our Lady’s words will not lessen the difficulty of your sacrifices; but, because it sweetens them with love for Jesus and for lost souls, her words may truly help to dispel your Lenten dreads.
I am not one of those holy souls who look forward to Lent. However, I do have a few friends and family members who do. So, I try to take note of why that is the case. Just last week, my mom mentioned she was looking forward to Lent so she could invite her band, who are all senior citizens, to her parish fish fry. She said she’s really looking forward to it, since most of them aren’t Catholic but have mentioned that they like attending fish fries. After enjoying their traditional fish and chips, my mom is planning on reserving a room in the parish hall so the band can make music together after dinner. They call themselves the Silver Foxes and often visit nursing homes together to spread a little joy. My mom is a joyful evangelist, even at age 80! And she has unlocked the secret that Lent is for more than making penitential acts, but it is a time for growing the Kingdom of God by growing the Body of Christ.
Want to be in the loop?
Get the latest updates from Tidings!