- The Contents
- Regular Sections
- About us
- Misyon Forum
Reply to comment
in India, March-June 1991
By Sr. Nihita Maria, SSpSAP
A group of Pink Sisters from the Philippines Sr. Nihita Maria, Sr. Maria Cecilia, pink describe their habit not their politics- started a House of Adoration in Bangalore, India. But before they got there, while still in Bombay, they set up a unique friendship with a Hindu Brahmin Professor.
Now Read on:
His name was Sri Phadnis…
We had apprehensions concerning our future relationship with the Hindu Brahmin Professor who taught us Hindu and Sanskrit. But our fears were quickly dispelled at our first meeting.
Only Half a Cup
Although Brahmins usually do not accept food from Christians, whom they were consider as of a lower caste, our new acquaintance graciously accepted the cup of tea we had set before him. But he took only a cup. We learned later, he had been taught the value of moderation from early childhood.
No Egg or Meat
Sri Phadnis had just turned 65 when we first meet him. Of slight build, he had the sprightly gait of 20 years old. We think he is still so now, although we have not seen him since we left Bombay in 1982. An Orthodox Brahmin, he was faithful to his Hindu practices which included taking a bathe first thing in the morning, then engaging in prayer rituals and doing certain Yoga ‘asana’ (exercises). He never took egg nor meat nor fish
“Ji “Is “Po”
Soon a warm rapport sprang up between Sri Phadnis and us, so that we spontaneously got to calling him ‘Panditji’. “Pandit “, as you know, means a “learned man” “one proficient in his field”, as Pandit Nehru. “Ji” is much like our Tagalog “po”; it also connoted respectful affection, so that Mahatma Gandhi is often referred to as ‘Gandhiji’.
No See -Through Saree
We have yet to meet more dedicated and caring teacher than our Panditji. But he was more than just this to us. Since we were new in the country and cloistered contemplatives at that, Panditji had a fatherly concerned for us which he showed in ever so many ways. For example, he volunteered to do a considerable part of our shopping and procured after many inquiries (with the help of his wife and daughter), the right Saree materials for us which, he said was okay because it was not see-through’.
Thermos of Tea
When we went for our Hindu government exams, good Panditji accompanied us to the venue. As he had then to preside at a meeting, he commissioned a nephew of his to wait for us after the exams with a thermos bottle of tea and bananas, and to accompany to the bus stop, with express instruction that he was not to go away until he saw us safely seated in the bus.
Off to Bangalore
While we were getting ready for the great exodus from Bombay to Bangalore, Panditji kept in constant touch with us, giving us moral support and rendering us invaluable services. And when, shortly, after our arrival here, we wrote him of the warm reception accorded us by everyone, his reply ran somewhat like: “You can not imagine how anxiously I have waited news from you. I felt like a father whose newly married daughter had just gone to live with her in- laws (in India, the joint family system is still quite prevalent). It was therefore a tremendous relief for me to learn from your letter that your neighbors are very kind to you!”
Pilgrim on a Journey
Panditji is on a spiritual journey of ongoing integration with his Inner Core, his True Self, through the living out of the Bhagavad Gita’s “Nishkama karma” (selfless service or egolessness ). Perhaps a Hindu would word it differently; but in the long run isn’t it in the Ultimate Ground of our being where we all meet and find our true identity?
1,000 Kilometers Away
Although we have been inviting Sri and his wife to spend some weeks as our guest here they have so far not been able to make the 1,000 kilometer trip in the Bangalore. Nevertheless we continue our dialogue as co-pilgrims through correspondence. In one of this letter, Panditji wrote: “God dwells in the heart of all beings. (Gita 18.61; 15.15; 14.23.).Could you kindly mention quotations from the Holy Bible that have similar meaning?”
Nailed to the Bed
In his last letter, Panditji related how, on account of an attacks of viral bronchitis, he was ‘tied to the bed’ for three weeks by his physician daughter. He then continued: Sisters, you can imagine how hard it was for me to lie in bed when I already felt strong enough to get up and go out. How ever, there was one point in my favor – the kept me ‘tied’ to the bed she could not bind my mind.
“Whenever I felt bored, I used to sneak out mentally and take shelter in a very peaceful, calm and serene corner. Can you guess where this corner was? – In your Ardhana Kunj chapel at adhere, Bombay. I sat with you all, sang the Hindu Psalms, saw the Indian lamp burning and shared with you some moment of meditation.” (Panditji was the one who suggested the name “Aradhana Kunj “ – Adoration Bower - for our house and chapel, and he set some of our Hindu Psalms to music.) Small wonder that he enjoys quoting a Jesuit who called him a “Christian Hindu”!
We Feel Good
Just sharing with you about our Panditji and how he touched our lives make us feel really good. It makes us re-live the wide gamut of our dialogue of word and relationship with him. And each time we call back those memories, we know we are tuning in, with increasing sensitivity, to the divine human dialogues that have been going on the thousands of years in this land and which are expressed through and embodied in, India’s diverse cultures and religious.
Whether we see its fruition here on earth or not, we trust that our dialogue with our non Christian brethren will deepen our mutual involvement with the Kingdom of God, the center which is Jesus Christ who calls the Father “ABBA” in the Holy Spirit!
The divine human dialogue has been going on for thousands of yea