At the age of 18, in Dublin, I bumped into a shaven-headed, saffron-robed fellow and visited his temple, ashram, his monastery, so to speak. I had been visiting all kinds of religious groups, Christian and otherwise, but these were surprisingly serious chaps. They rose at four in the morning for prayer, study and chanting. By the time breakfast came at am I felt like I had done a full day's work, only to find that the full day's work was just about to begin! The captivating thing for me, though, was the fact that every act was to be offered to God with love, every word spoken in His favour, every song sung for His pleasure, every dance for His eyes and all food prepared and offered first for His taste.
Along with this went an ancient philosophy that answered more questions than I had ever asked. But what got me about these devotees of Krishna was what I saw as their practice of Christianity, even though they didn't actually call themselves Christians. They banded together in small groups, sang the praise of God with drums and loud clashing cymbals, wore flowing robes, abandoned the material world and preached in the public marketplaces.
That's actually a description of the early Christians but the Krishnas did this as well. I loved the chanting of Hare Krishna. I'm sure you have seen the devotees chanting in public somewhere. They chant Sanskrit names of God, Hare, Krishna and Rama, meaning 'spirititual happiness', 'all-attractive person' and 'reservoir of pleasure'.
Lovely names and they form a prayer to be engaged in the service of God. The idea of chanting God's name, any name we choose to chant, is that we come into direct contact with God Himself, as his name and His Person are not different, the Hindu story goes.
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But don't take my word for it. The proof of the pudding is in the eating. I think it was the spontaneous happiness produced by the music, the chant and the dancing that touched my heart so much and it continues to do so to this day. For me it was "Hallowed by thy name" in practice.
The practice may look strange to some but that is not the point. I suppose it depends on our cultural view, but nuns may look just as strange as naked Sadhus. Is that a reflection of their spiritual qualities or just their dress sense? To me this spiritual practice was being performed in the essential spirit of Christianity.
If we look in the Hindu scripture, Bhagavad-gita, we hear Lord Krishna asking us to abandon all our sectarianism and just surrender to Him, in love. He vows to protect us from evil and from fear. I hear the same "forsake all and follow me" message, the same call to surrender and the same reassurance.
Jesus shows this struggle of surrender during his evening in the garden of Gethsemane. His sincere appeal to the Lord to let the cup pass from him, although He was willing to go through with His Father's command. I have always found myself in this kind of dilemma, although without the same willingness to do the needful that Christ had. All of us who struggle with spirituality wonder if we are capable of making the effort, or if we are doomed to failure and hypocrisy.
Can we meet the challenge? Christ's example is so relevant for all of us who want to practise a spiritual life, and even for those who just want to be good. But how many of us are willing to sacrifice our desires in favour of the will of God, even in small ways? When we look at his experience during his traumatic arrest, trial and crucifixion we see a man at peace within Himself and with the world. He was condemned for his zeal and for his perceived threat to society, because he was misunderstood.
I have experienced that to a lesser degree in my life - being condemned for being a Hare Krishna, for being different and incomprehensible. I have been spat at and derided, but not crucified. I have no idea what Jesus had to give up, in His early thirties, so that I, in my early forties, could be inspired to follow the Godly path. The fact is, I can see myself in Jesus. I recognise and empathise with His life, His temptations and His suffering.
But I can see a lot more in Him than my faltering attempts at spirituality. I can see someone transcending the materialism of this world. Hindus as much as anyone talk much about this noble ideal but it is a true celebration when someone, anyone, of any tradition, begins to make sense spiritually. And so many of us don't seem to make sense spiritually.
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We can acquire a religious reputation, be addressed by religious titles. We can easily learn to say the right thing and wear the appropriate clothes and chant the right passwords for all religious occasions, and look passably good. But the example of Jesus and other saints challenges any insincerity in our heart, any duplicity and hypocrisy.
They display another level of faith, a level called love, and their love is beyond our need to be right about everything, to dominate others and to demand them to conform to our perception. They are humble. It's about a deep change of heart. It's about knowing God as a friend and as a lover. It's about being happy to love God with the full trust that He will take care of us in all circumstances, just as a small child will trust their father or mother.
It's about accepting absence of God in our lives as enthusiastically as His embrace. It's difficult for us to neatly categorise Jesus, this lover of God, as a Christian or a Jew. He talked only of His Father and he was not enamoured of politics, religion or wealth as He experienced them. God's service was His life, His love and his religion. Remember my Indian friend who loved Ishu so much?
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What about him? Was he a follower of Christ? Could he have a personal relationship with God? Would he have to "bathe in the blood of the Lamb" first a terrible option for vegetarians? These are important questions, though: "Can a Hindu follow Jesus? The Sanskrit word acharya means 'one who teaches by example'. For Hindus, Christ is an acharya. His example is a light to any of us in this world who want to take up the serious practice of spiritual life.
His message is no different from the message preached in another time and place by Lord Krishna and Lord Chaitanya. It would be a great shame if we allowed our Hinduism, our Islam, our Judaism or indeed our Christianity to stand in the way of being able to follow the teachings and example of such a great soul as Lord Jesus Christ. Search term:. Read more. This page is best viewed in an up-to-date web browser with style sheets CSS enabled. While you will be able to view the content of this page in your current browser, you will not be able to get the full visual experience. Please consider upgrading your browser software or enabling style sheets CSS if you are able to do so.
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Return to Book Page. Preview — Daddy, Why is Love the Greatest? Daddy, Why is Love the Greatest? Cheryl Durbin Editor. To kids, for kids, this great children's book walks the children through 1st Corinthians 13 in plain language, and also including the matching verse from 1st Corinthians on each page for use as memory verses. This is part 7 in the Jesus Loves Me series. Get A Copy. Kindle Edition. More Details Friend Reviews.
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