The following questions were asked of Siddhesvari Devi by children from Texas, Minnesota and Chennai, ages 12 to 14.
Why did God create?
If you are thinking that God ever created for the very first time, there's no such thing, because this creation has always been in existence. There are three eternal entities: God, soul and world. This world has always been in existence. God does conceal. That means He takes everything, including all souls, inside. But he wants us to have a chance of attaining Him and so there is creation once again. And we have a chance once more to love our Creator, our Master, or Beloved, our Everything, our one and only.
Why are scriptures hard to understand?
Most of us cannot read and understand the scriptures directly. We have to wait for a wise person to interpret them. The reasoning behind this is that these scriptures are divine in nature, just as God is divine in nature. It takes someone equipped with a divine mind to comprehend them. This is why our scriptures emphatically state that we need a spiritual guide to help us in our study. We need a guru. Gu means darkness, ru means remover. So one who removes our darkness, ignorance, is the guru. If we try to understand the scriptures by ourselves, we may misinterpret them.
If I don't have much time for religious life, what are the most important practices for me to perform?
Each of us should set aside some time each day to truly devote ourselves to God. Hinduism gives us much variety in what we can do that, in fact, it is sometimes confusing. But if you can choose one practice of devotion and set aside some time and keep that time for God alone, then you will never be alone. As you do your daily duties, God will be with you. You can show Him everything you're doing and talk to Him. In the beginning it will be in your imagination only, but eventually it will become reality, because God is really everywhere. So, there are two things you can do every day: first, renounce the results of all your activities and spend some time with God alone. Next, keep God with you like a friend throughout the day.
How should we respond to kids that taunt us saying that Hindus worship many Gods, not the one true God, and will all go to hell?
Yes, it is a popular misconception that all Hindus are polytheistists. If a child is taunted like this, he or she should first learn how Hinduism is monotheistist. The Vedas say there is one God. But here we have the complete knowledge of this one God, meaning that He is without form, but He is also with form. God is one, but he has countless forms. God can come in any form that He chooses. This world is His creation. And when people say, you'll go to hell after death, they are only speaking out of ignorance. What they are really saying is, "if you don't worship Christ you'll go to hell." And how can that be? Christ was only one of the messengers of God. There were countless others. Sometimes you just cannot convince the people who tell you these things. But it's important for us to know for ourselves that this is the way it is. Christians quote from the Bible and say something like, "Jesus said, 'I'm the only way, the only truth, the only light.'" But that must be put into correct perspective. Jesus did indeed speak these words, but he spoke them to certain people at a certain time, because he was their messenger. That statement has been grossly misinterpreted.
How should I advise a young Hindu friend of mine who is thinking of converting from Hinduism to Christianity?
She should think about the things she's doing as a Hindu. Perhaps she has been doing them without really understanding why. She should discover the wonderful reasons behind her practices, what she was taught by her parents and what she is supposed to be doing. Then she will be proud to be a Hindu. I feel she's is going to the church and saying she accepts Jesus as her savior, but actually she's hearing criticism against Hinduism. This is very common. In the church they openly criticize Hinduism, and if a young Hindu does not fully understand his or her own religion, there will be an effect. I have met many young people like this. This girl should study Hinduism, and if she is going to marry a Christian, she should think about the consequences. After a few years they will have children. When the children are born, suddenly she will wonder, "Should my kids be Christian or Hindu?" Her marriage may then get rocky, especially since religion becomes more important later in life. I would urge her to think about all of this. When young people come to me and ask, "What is the big deal if I marry someone who is outside of my religion?" I say, "It is a big deal."
Why are there superstitions?
I was once told "don't cut your nails at night time." Now, I heard that in India and there was a logic behind it earlier because people did not have enough lighting at night. They had these flimsy little lamps, and there was a real danger of cutting your finger. But, of course, this does not hold true today because there's plenty of light at night. If a practice is not logical, or was once logical and is no more, then it's just a superstition. It is good to think and be open minded about these things.
Sushri Siddheshvari Devi, 41, affectionately called Didi Ji, is a disciple of Jagadguru Shri Kripalu Ji Maharaj. She is founder of Divine Love Mission. She has preached devotion of Shri Radha-Krishna since 1987 and travels all over North America instructing aspiring devotees.
Find out at:www.divinelovemission.org.