I’d like to tell you about an amusing experience I had with the Hindu Christian, when I lived in Buffalo, New York.
I used to work with a Hindu doctor from India when I worked at the VA Hospital in Buffalo. Not having been raised in a strict religion, I had become interested in many religions. I feel that all religions have one common bond: God. How one worships God is what makes each religion unique, however, it is still based on God, not self.
My doctor friend, Daya, invited me to her house one day. We had a delicious vegetarian lunch (most Hindus are vegetarians — remember the “sacred cow?”). And, of course, Hindus believe in reincarnation. She then invited me to look at her Hindu altar. In a small room, she had an altar set up. There was a table upon which sat some offerings of food and flowers. The altar, itself, was a wooden “cupboard.” Daya opened the brown doors and I gazed upon pictures of numerous Hindu Gods: Krishna all in blue; Ganesh, the elephant God; and many others. There must have been 10 or 15 Gods all with their pictures in full color. She then softly closed the doors and we returned to our lunch.
I moved out of Buffalo soon after this, and when I returned to visit several years later, I saw her again and was quite stunned to hear that she had “taken Jesus into her heart.” Daya had been convinced by the Catholic nuns who worked at the hospital that Jesus was the way. A fundamentalist Christian there invited her to church, and she went. I was quite surprised when I heard this.
Daya then invited ME to her new church! I was quite shocked to see her singing and swaying, arms and hands outstretched, to the gospel music. Afterwards, she invited me to her home again. She said, “Ever since I have been praying to the Lord Jesus, my life has been better.” I WAS surprised.
At her home, she asked me again: “Would you like to see my altar?” I thought, “Okay, let’s see what the Christian altar is like.” Daya brought me into the same small room that held her same brown, wooden altar. She again opened up the doors….and there….in full color….were pictures of ALL the SAME Gods!!! Only this time, smack dab in the middle of them all, was NOW a picture of JESUS!! I had to chuckle.
I turned to Daya, and exclaimed: “I don’t think you should tell THEM, the nuns, about this….they think that Jesus is the ONLY one!! You don’t want to let them know that he’s just another one of the guys!” With that, it finally dawned on her, and her brown eyes became very big and wide, and she began to laugh!! It had never occurred to her! To her, Jesus was just another new God to pray to. He was not the only one. He was one of many!
I often think of this when I think of how people will say that “this religion,” or “that religion,” are the ONLY religions. Quite honestly, just picking one seems a bit arrogant to me. After all, the various religions developed independently in various parts of the world — shaped and formed by the cultures in which they sprang. Thus, to me, the reason for the wide variety of rituals, prayers, Gods, offerings, and other religious traditions. But each religion has a common ground: God.
I ask that each person have tolerance for those who practice a religion different from your own. Remember my experience with Daya: she had a good grasp on it (granted, not knowing that she did) — that ALL of God is worthy — be it a Hindu God, or a Jewish God, or a Christian God, or whatever other God one chooses to accept into their life. For God is a representation of love, goodness and kindness. And that is really what counts.
So, count your blessings…as well as your Gods!!