A Hindu Temple in Orlando, Florida was the last place I thought I’d be a visitor. I was encouraged to check-it-out by an instructor at the YMCA where I was a member.
“How do I know the yoga I’m taking from you is the real stuff”? I asked Brian one of the teachers at the Y.
“I just learned there is a real live priest at the Hindu Temple just down the street that is teaching yoga,” he said. “Why don’t you check that out, make a comparison and let me know which one is real?”
When the natives of Florida give directions, they always say, “just down the street.” I found out the hard way this statement could mean anywhere from 1 to 10 miles away. Finding the Hindu Temple was quite a challenge. I drove past the Wal-mart mall; past the laundromat; past the electric store, and found it secluded at a dead-end street.
When I first entered the lobby, I saw the statue of an elephant boy and noticed other statues sitting on the stage in the front of the temple. I met Swamiji (pronounced Swami-g) his full name is Swami Chidghananand Parivrajak.
I was very curious and my first question was, “Do you believe in God? The same the God in the Old Testament Christians believe in”?
“Of course we believe in God!” he said.
Then, just to be sure we were on the same track I said, “You believe in the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob”? I wanted to very clear we were talking about the same God.
He looked directly at me with his piercing dark eyes and big grin on his face as though I didn’t seem to understand his first answer. “Of course, we do!”
I enrolled in the yogi classes at the temple, and every Saturday morning the opportunity presented itself to talk and visit with other folks during class time. I was accepted and invited to their services on Sunday. It was explained to me that their teachings concerning the idols in the temple are energy fields, called deities or gods and bring them different kinds of blessings. I had gotten to know the folks at the temple fairly well by now; as lunch was served we shared personal experiences.
I began visiting the temple services in the afternoon, after I had been to Parkway Baptist Church in the morning. I learned how not to be “judgmental” from attendance at a Methodist Church in Damascus, Maryland years ago.
After services, I had a question for Swamiji. “I read in a book called, ‘Hinduism and Christianity,’ by Swami Satprakashananda that ‘The Vedanta believe Jesus Christ is one of the greatest human manifestations of divinity. They say his life and teachings are critical to anyone searching for truth.’” The author of this book eventually became a believer in Jesus.
“What do the Hindu people believe about Jesus”?
We discussed Jesus’ early years that are not documented in the Bible. The thought bounced around by many a scholar was that he traveled to India, gained knowledge, wisdom and also embraced teachings from the Essenes. We know he was Jewish man, of course, educated and called rabbi. Jesus never became a “Christian,” that word came later.
“How do people who have problems inside of them get free”? I asked Swamiji. “Those things that make them do wrong things in their life”?
He told me how this is done and explained the process. It sounded very complicated. He said, “These are energy forces living inside people.”
I mentioned I had been called to a deliverance ministry when the charismatic movement blossomed in our area years ago. I considered every appointment with an individual confidential and fasted for everyone before meeting together. Fasting was critical for personal preparation.
I said it’s written in Matthew 17:19-21. “The disciples came to Jesus in private and asked him, ‘Why couldn’t we drive the demon out? It was because you do not have enough faith,’ answered Jesus. “Remember this! If you have faith as big as a mustard seed, you can say to this hill, ‘Go from here to there!’ and it will go. You could do anything! But only prayer and fasting can drive this kind out; nothing else can.”
I said, “Sometimes the Lord would lead me to fast for three days. I included reading and studying the scriptures as part of my daily routine.” What’s the point of meeting with someone if nothing is going to happen? I continued to be part of a Bible study that met on a regular basis in our town, led by a charismatic Baptist minister from Rockville, Maryland.
Swamiji said, “The yogi’s have a way of doing this also, but only by the most highly trained.”
He then made a comment that startled me. “You were lucky you did not have those demons get inside of you!”
“I had protection,” I said.
He looked very puzzled as if to say, “What could that be?”
My protection is “The blood of Jesus,” I answered. “This is done in faith.”
I discovered faith is not a concept in the Hindu religion. He talked to me about Jesus. They recognize Jesus as a great man and one who suffered greatly and believe he healed people and did many wonderful things.
Swamiji then said, “Why would the Romans want to kill a person that healed and talked of only peace?”
I was thinking, “That question will take hours to answer.”
I wanted to explain about the “blood of Jesus” and how these words are protection; I felt this issue to be very important. I could tell he was puzzled. Then I decided I’ll talk about Jesus crucifixion.
“There is a mystery in ‘the blood’ that I don’t quite fully understand myself, except when I say the words at anytime, I have protection. The New Testament teaches us that when Jesus was crucified and died he shed his pure blood on the cross for our salvation.”
Swamiji shared with me a Hindu mystery. “The Yogi’s can leave and return to their bodies, and cause their heart rate to slow to the point where one will think them dead. We have learned to tap into energy fields. This is an area that most people know nothing about.”
“I have a lot of questions,” I said.
When Swamiji spoke about the Yogi’s and things they could do, I felt another door opened.
“You know Jesus rose from the dead and walked on the earth. But he did something that no one else could do, he sent the Holy Spirit to live inside anyone who asks so they could have power in their life.”
These words are worth repeating. Jesus said he could not be everywhere because he was just one person, but he would send the Holy Spirit. This is a promise in the book of John 14:26. “But the Comforter, which is the Holy Ghost (Spirit), whom the Father will send in my name, he shall teach you all things, and bring all things to your remembrance, whatsoever I have said unto you.” (KJV)
This same story is found in again in John 16:7. “Nevertheless, I tell you the truth it is expedient for you that I go away; for if I go not away, the Comforter (Holy Spirit) will not come unto you; but if I depart, I will send him unto you.” (KJV)
Another puzzled look.
I continued and said, “Jesus showed himself many times after he rose from the dead and told them to wait for the gift that was promised to them, which is found in the book of Acts 1:3-5.” I explained how I became filled with the Holy Spirit.
It is important to read the words in Acts 2:2-4. “Suddenly there was a noise from the sky which sounded like a strong wind blowing, and it filled the whole house where they were sitting. Then they saw what looked like tongues of fire spreading out; and each person there was touched by a tongue. They were all filled with the Holy Spirit and began to talk in other languages, as the Spirit enabled them to speak.”
I love to visit and enjoy learning about different religions. For years, God has sent me as an investigator to new places. I always tried to keep an open mind and remembered not to judge others. I was thankful for these adventures as they increased my spiritual knowledge and understanding.
We talked for a little while longer and then I went over to my usual spot to begin my meditation. That story to be written from my experience called, “The Kingdom of God and Swamiji.”
Scripture: New Testament - Good News for Modern Man (GNMM)
Thomas Nelson, Inc. 1972
King James Version (KJV)
Authority of the Believer, Kenneth E. Hagin
The Blood Covenant, E. W. Kenyon
Pray in the Spirit, Arthur Wallis
Power from on High, Charles G. Finney
The Blood of the Cross, Andrew Murray
Prayer the Mightiest Force in the World, Frank C. Laubach
Graduate - Baptist Institute for Christian Workers, Bryn Mawr, PA; NRI McGraw-Hill Center for Writing, Washington, D.C. Studied only Wesley Seminary, D.C. & Asbury Theological Seminary, Orlando, FL (2 yrs). Completed on-line course Jewish Seminary, N.Y. Past student - The Christian Writers Guild.