please keep in mind that i differentiate between “christians”, christians and Christians. i’ve known about 10 Christians in my entire life, and about half of them were not actually Christians (people like Swami Bhaskarananda, for example). most of the people i have met in my entire life that profess to be Christian are actually “christian” to one degree or another.
during my last couple of years of high school, i was really getting interested in religion, and had started reading the bible and, significantly the gospel of sri ramakrishna, on a regular basis… and already i was getting the very strong impression that what the preacher said from behind his lecturn wasn’t always the way things worked in reality.
a friend and i went to the “christian” church that met in my school’s cafetorium on sunday. i was fairly sure that i wasn’t going to like it, but i wanted to show my friend that you can’t always trust a christian, especially when they’re the ones in charge. i brought my bible, and we were sitting close to the back of the auditorium. i was finding the scriptures the preacher was reading from and noticing right away that if you continued reading, not more than two or three verses later scripture was directly contradicting what the preacher was saying. this happened at least three times, each of which i pointed out to my friend, when the preacher took notice of me, and instructed one of his parishoners to escort my friend and i outside and “explain to them why they are being asked to leave”. we spent the rest of the service sitting on a bench outside the auditorium with my friend and i listening while the guy ranted on about things that i knew were not in the bible, but because of my unfamiliarity with it at the time, i wasn’t able to point out the discrepancies to his satisfaction.
it was at that point that i decided that, if they would only listen to people who made sense when they talked, that “christians” might be able to see the light that truly is Jesus Christ. i decided that i would learn as much as i could about the bible, so that when i encountered such people in the future, i would be prepared. shortly after that, i entered a seminary, where i was a student for seven years.
several years later, i was hanging out with a bunch of people who enjoyed bible study, and we decided that we were going to a halloween party in another part of town. we put on costumes – i was wearing a devil mask, and there was another guy who was wearing a santa claus mask – and we were walking down the street, when a group of people came out of a storefront church and assulted us. they knocked me down and hit a couple of other guys. one of my friends managed to get free and called the police, who said they would be there “eventually” and we never saw them. i was on the ground, surrounded by a whole bunch of angry young men who wouldn’t let me get up, when the “preacher” appeared. i thought everything was going to be okay, but then the “preacher” started chanting what at first sounded like nonsense, but then i realised that he was saying “the only name that can save you is christ, there is no other name” – over and over, without regard to what i was saying or the fact that i was on the ground, surrounded by an angry crowd.
later, the same group of guys and i went to another, bigger storefront church (it was in a building that, appropriately enough, was a porno theater before the church moved in) with hidden tape recorders, and interviewed the people there. one interview in particular was memorable because of the fact that, when asked why the guy was carrying such a large bible, he responded by repeating, several times, “it’s my bazooka”. then he said “i take it, and i aim it at the devil, and i go ‘buhda-duhda-duhda-duhda-duhda-dow’!” needless to say, he knew a lot less about “the ammunition” for his “bazooka” than he let on.
at the same time, i was progressing fairly well in the seminary, but i was feeling more and more uneasy about my relationship with the bible. i read it, and understood what it was saying, but i felt strangely uncomfortable with the words that were being used to convey certain ideas. at one point i approached the headmistress of the seminary with my concerns, and she recommended, since i had a fairly good understanding of the bible, that i read scriptures from other religions, with a mind towards finding similarities with what the bible says. i took this task very seriously, and i read pretty much any scripture i could get my hands on, from the more esoteric teachings of Christianity contained in the Philokalia, the nag hammadi library, the forgotten books of eden, the kebra nagast and others, to the teachings of the qur’aan, the sufis, three different forms of buddhism, the tao, Georges Gurdjieff, Zarathustra, the papyrus of ani, traditional celtic witchcraft, Aleister Crowley, and even several different forms of what is called devil worship or satanism. however when i read the scriptures of hinduism for the first time, i was struck with how much they spoke to my heart, and when i read the bhaghavad gita for the first time it was like i was coming home.
it wasn’t long after that – a matter of two or three years – before i decided that regardless of whether they were making sense or not, some “christians” were simply not going to see the light, regardless of how hard someone tried to convince them. it was at that point that my conversion to hinduism commenced. when i graduated from the seminary, i received my ordination, and two days later i recieved my first diksha as a dedicated hindu.