From Rituals to Relationship with God (Telugu)
From Rituals to Relationship with God (Hindi)
I was born into a very orthodox Brahmin1 family from south India. I was one of the four children. I have 2 brothers and a sister. My mother was a homemaker. Since my childhood, I was trained to strictly follow the Hindu customs, traditions, rituals and practices. I used to get up very early in the morning, go to the river near our house and take a bath and then perform puja2 to various Hindu3 gods and goddesses. I attended the Hindu temple4 regularly and made offering of coconuts to please the gods. We had a large house and in the middle of the house was a snake pit. In this pit, there was a live cobra. In Hindu belief, the cobra is considered sacred. So, all our family members regularly chanted mantras5 and recited slokas6 in front of the live cobra7. We were not afraid of the cobra as it lived in the same house and seemed like a member of the household.
Since my early childhood, I was quite religious and made a decision to be a staunch devotee of a Hindu goddess by name Santoshi Mata. This goddess is worshipped by Hindu women for well-being and prosperity. I made a vow to worship this goddess for the rest of my life. I even made a vow to fast every Friday, abstain from certain foods and perform daily puja to the goddess. After the puja, I used to take the prasadam8 and offer it to a cow9 and then have it myself.
My father worked hard at his job. His friends advised him to resign his job and set up a private business. The private business failed and he suffered heavy losses. Urged by his friends, my father left home in search of a job in a foreign country in the Middle-East. I was emotionally very close to my father. After he left home (India), I missed him tremendously. I longed to hear from my father, but he never communicated with us. I was very distressed and depressed.
At this time, I heard about Jesus Christ for the first time in my life through some catholic nuns10 who lived near our house. My elder sister had already given up her Hindu tradition and belief. After she believed in Jesus, she experienced His love and forgiveness. Her life had been transformed. She used to talk openly to people around her about her faith in Jesus. She told me about her faith in Jesus and also took me to meet other Christians at various meetings. I did not like this and I used to insult and humiliate her Christian friends. I used to make fun of them and enjoy it. These Christians did not hate me for this but instead showed their love for me. One day, when the church pastor Ms. R.M. prayed for me, I wept bitterly without realising that I was weeping. Later, some other Christian friends prayed to God and told me more about Lord Jesus. They also gave me some books, magazines and tapes so that I could get to know more about Jesus. In my privacy, I read the life-stories of many people of various backgrounds who put their faith in Jesus. Slowly, I was drawn to Jesus and realised that Jesus was a true, living and loving person. For the first time in my life, I realised that I was a sinner and in need of the forgiveness of Jesus. Soon after I experienced the love and forgiveness of Jesus, I stopped performing the religious rituals and my worship of the Hindu goddess, Sathoshi Ma. I started reading the Bible and began to pray to Jesus. I came to know him more and experience this relationship in my daily life.
I discovered that Jesus is real and helps me in my daily life's problems. At this time, I had just written my graduate nursing (third year B.Sc. Nursing) exams and was awaiting the results. I was shocked to find out that I had failed my exam by a margin of two marks. I was very discouraged and disheartened but I was greatly comforted by the statement, which Jesus had made: "Seek first His [Jesus] Kingdom and all these things [success, joy, wealth] will be given to you [me] as well. I began to feel the presence of God and had great inner peace. Another instance, we had to sell our house find another house for the same price in a different neighbourhood. I prayed to Jesus and he answered my prayer. After I finished college, I applied for a job but it was difficult to get a job in the government, without giving bribe or without using any influence. I did not want to bribe corrupt officials to get the government job. I prayed and Jesus answered my prayer in getting the government job in the location that I desired.
Jesus also blessed me with a loving husband. He too has faith in Jesus. We are blessed with a son. We would like to live for Jesus and share His love with others for the rest of our lives.
Brahmin1 : a member of the highest Hindu priestly caste.
Puja2 : Hindu rite of worship
Hindu3 : a follower of Hinduism.
Temple4 : a Hindu place of worship
Mantras5 : a sound-symbol; incantation
Slokas6 : Hindu poetical form of worship.
cobra7: a highly venomous snake whose bite is often fatal
Prasadam8 : food offered to the Gods and later distributed among the devotees.
The Cow9 : a sacred animal for the Hindus.
Catholic nuns10 : women after taking religious(Christian) vows,lives a secluded life in the service of God.