Juliette and I had a chance to have a conversation with Prof. Raj Kohli, the President of the Hindu Temple of Michiana. We got a quick lesson in Hinduism and learned about the history of the temple itself! An excerpt from our interview is below.
Raj : We adopt and respect every religion. Unlike many religions where they believe this is the only religion, no, we respect every religion. We have three main gods who are called Burma, Vishnu, and Shiva. Burma is the creator, responsible for our birth. Vishnu is the preserver. He is the one who is responsible for the all the food, all the clothes that you get, the house we live in, and everything. So basically he’s the one responsible for our entire life as from when we take birth until we die. Then after Burma creator, Vishnu, and I will show you each one of them.
Raj: Vishnu is the preserver. Then we have Shiva who is the destroyer that means he is one who kills us. So these are the three main gods. Now I will tell you one about Parvathi. So most of the Parvathi that you see here I will explain to you one by one. The Incarnation of Lord Vishnu who is the preserver. So then Parvathi that you see there okay the second one you see there he is one of the incarnations of Lord Vishnu. He is worshiped in the Southern part of India substantially. He has millions and millions of followers all over India but his main temple for Parvathi is in south part of India and again he is an incarnation of Lord Vishnu. Then we go to the next one – what do you see? Do you see that one deity with an elephant face?
Raj: He is called Ganesha. He is the son of Shiva and Parvati. Next one is the Shiva and Parvati. They’re – You see them? Ganesha on one side, and then we have Shiva and Parvati. Shiva is the god I was telling you about who is the Destroyer and Parvati is his wife. Ganesha is their son. So that is the destroyer and basically that is, we call, kind of, Shiva’s parivara, parivara, in our language means, family. So that is Shiva’s family. He has another son, but basically Ganesha is worshipped the most. Okay?
Raj: As a matter of fact, Ganesha has this blessings that whenever any Hindu [participates] in any kind of worship the first prayer we do is for Ganesha. Otherwise, we believe if we do not pray to him first, whatever we do is not counted, or becomes kind of worthless. That is whenever we start it, our first prayer is always for Ganesha. So that is Shiva, his wife Parvati, and Ganesha.
Juliette: Okay yeah.
Raj: 1-2-3-You see the main temple?
Raj: The third one, the closest to you. Okay.
Raj: This is Vishnu and his wife next to him is called Lakshmi, who is also considered the goddess of wealth. That is why we always say that Vishnu is Preserver because his wife is the goddess of wealth. And similarly, I forgot one thing – Parvati is the goddess of power. In some parts of India, in some books, she is considered, THE power. So she is the most powerful among all the gods okay. So coming back now this is Vishnu and Lakshmi, Vishnu is Preserver, Lakshmi is wife, or the goddess of wealth. Then we go to, in the main ones?
Raj: The first one. The farthest away from me, he is Krishna. You never heard of his name. Have you heard of Krishna?
Devin: I feel like I have, yes.
Raj: Okay. He’s Krishna. Again, he is incarnation of Lord Vishnu. And next to him is Radhaa, who is his beloved. She is not his wife. She is his beloved. Again, Krishna is incarnation of Lord Vishnu. Krishna came to this earth about 5300 years B.C., that is about, we are talking about 7500 years back, something like that.I don’t know if you have heard of something called Mahabharata? That was a big family [that had] a big huge fight within the entire India where two groups of brothers who were cousins to each other fought for who would become the ultimate king.
Raj: So that was the time that Krishna came to this earth – so about 7500 years ago. Then in the center what you see is Lord Brahma. He is again incarnation of Lord Vishnu and next to him is his wife Sita and to his right is his younger brother Lakshman. His younger brother is always with him because he devoted his entire life to serve his older brother. So Brahma is the older brother, Lakshman is the younger brother. He devoted his entire life just to serve his older brother. And you see one small deity that is sitting in front of that? He is Lord Hanuman. He has a monkey face – actually he is a monkey. He was a monkey. And he is onsidered to be Lord Brahma’s, the most devoted and so he devoted his life to Lord Brahma. That is why he is considered “das.” “Das”, it’s the wrong language but I don’t have it word-for-word, can be considered as “servant”.
Raj: But not servant who is paid, but this is a servant who is serving from his heart. Not for the money.