The following is an excerpt from the full-length book of Prema’s testimony, available in the store on this website, published by Deeper Revelation Books, titled “From Cows and Cobras to the Cross of Christ.” www.deeperrevelationbooks.org
In 1845, my Hindu ancestors left India and sailed to Trinidad, an island just off the coast of Venezuela. They came as indentured servants to work on the sugar plantations for the British. At the end of their contract, they chose to remain in Trinidad to make a new life for themselves and their children. However, despite living in a new land, my ancestors never deviated from their strong Hindu religion, culture, customs, language, food and dress.
I was born in Trinidad and raised as a Hindu on the grounds of a Hindu temple. My strict grandfather, whom I addressed as Pa, would often be found standing for hours with one leg propped against the other, praying and worshiping in our temple. His usual chant was the Hindu sacred sound that every Hindu repeats, the word “Aum” also pronounced as “Om.” As Hindus, the sun was one of our gods, and it was not an unusual thing to see my great-grandmother stand and stare at the sun for hours every morning while she worshiped.
My beloved grandmother, whom I called Ma, was a true, religious Hindu devotee. Her day started in our temple at three o’clock every morning, before going out to work on the land. Ma made sure to have many gods and goddesses, in all shapes, forms, and sizes, in our temple. She so reverenced her gods that she would actually wash the statues with cow’s milk. Shiva, with the cobra around his neck, was a favorite deity that was often worshiped in our household. Many large statues and several framed pictures of this god were displayed in the temple and throughout our house.
Yet, in spite of lacking nothing and feeling loved by my family, there was this cry, this haunting emptiness, in my soul which I didn’t understand. “Maybe it is just me,” I would think. I was in a very safe and loving environment and had everything I needed, but in my heart, something was still missing, and I didn’t know what to do about it. There was a void that needed an answer.
My First Visitations of the Lord Jesus Christ
At the age of twelve, this shy Hindu girl had her first encounter with the Lord Jesus Christ. It was through the following dream: I saw myself kneeling in a pew at the back of a small church, weeping profusely. In the dream, I had just been unjustly slapped and reprimanded by my grandmother and had run out of the house. Across the street, there was a small church (which was there only in the dream), and I ran into it. I was on my knees and sobbing heavily.
Then, I began to sense someone else in the room. As I gently lifted my head, I saw a statue of a man on the platform, painted in blue and white. Gradually, it began to shake from side to side, then slowly became a living person. He was wearing a long, blue and white gown and seemed to be about six feet tall. As I looked at Him in a mixture of awe and amazement, it was dropped into my heart: This is JESUS.
Slowly, He came down from the platform and walked towards me. He knelt beside me and put His arm around my shoulder. With His other hand, He wiped away my tears, and said, “Do not weep, My child. Whatsoever you ask the Father for in My Name, you shall receive.” Twenty years later, after becoming a Christian, I came across these words in the Bible (John 16:23–24 KJV):
“Whatsoever ye shall ask the Father in My Name, He will give it you. Hitherto have ye asked nothing in My Name: ask, and ye shall receive, that your joy may be full.”
In our home, the Name of Jesus was not whispered. We were Hindus. However, that morning when I awoke, the urge to share my experience got the better of me, and I said, “I dreamt of Jesus.” There was dead silence. From then on – not another word! I myself didn’t understand the profundity or the meaning of my dream, and I couldn’t share it with my family. Two weeks later, I had yet another dream:
It was beginning to get dark, and I was late coming home from school. As I made my way through the back streets, I found myself passing by a cemetery. Suddenly, a long, black limousine drove up, and two men dashed out, heading straight for me. I knew that I was in grave danger and these evil men had come to kidnap me.
In a split second, I looked toward the sky and screamed, “JEEESUUUS!!!” Out of the clouds, the Lord Jesus Christ appeared, wearing a very white and shimmering long robe. He started to descend and stopped in a sitting position about three feet from the ground. The two men covered their faces with their arms, blinded by the dazzling brilliance of His robe. The Lord Jesus extended His left arm, and I sat on it. Together, we went up toward the clouds. I was safe and secure in His arms. As a twelve-year-old child, I knew in my heart that when I was with Jesus those men could not harm me. That morning, I knew better than to share this second dream with anyone. This was the second time in my young life that the Lord Jesus had visited me. However, it would be years before I understood what all this meant.
Arranged Marriages and Total Heartbreak
At the age of seventeen, in keeping with our Hindu tradition, my marriage was arranged. However, it turned out to be a total tragedy. In the very first week of being in that house, my life became exceedingly stressful – a living hell. Unprovoked and violent beatings became a normal part of my married life. A little more than a year after, the marriage ended in divorce. God allowed me to survive this terrible domestic violence and get away from all the physical, mental, and emotional abuse which nearly cost me my life.
At the age of twenty-four, I was living in Canada and had another arranged marriage. When I protested that I didn’t like him as a husband, I was told in no uncertain terms, “You will learn to like him!” The week I got married, I worked at my job until Friday but told no one that I was getting married the next day. That marriage also ended. However, from that union was born my precious son, Sanjay, who has always been a great blessing to me and to everyone who meets him.
Journey to the Himalayan Mountains
It was in the course of my second marriage that I went to India in my search for peace and truth, “looking for God.” Along with a few family members, I went on a pilgrimage to the Vaishno Devi Mandir, which is considered to be one of the holiest temples in Northern India.
The journey to the temple was physically and emotionally exhausting. After traveling for two days by car, I rode for five hours on horseback up the treacherous eight-mile path to the temple. On both sides of the narrow tracks are steep precipices which drop thousands of feet down. One slip could lead to immediate death. Upon reaching the top, I had to climb seven hundred and forty steps to reach the temple, which is a cave of shrines. To enter, pilgrims have to crawl for about fourteen feet through a narrow opening and then walk in knee-deep, ice-cold water.
There I was, standing in the knee-deep, ice-cold mountain water for what seemed like an eternity, waiting for my turn to fall before one of my gods, a stone idol. Finally, my turn came. Placing my offering of rupees as I prostrated myself, I began to pour out my heart before the mother goddess. To my shock and utter dismay, one of the temple guards came over to me saying, “Jaldee karo! Jaldee karo!” meaning, “Hurry up! Hurry up!” and motioned for me to move along. My turn was over. I had barely started to worship. The whole process had lasted less than two minutes. At that moment, I felt cheated again. The long, tedious journey had turned out to be futile.
Bathing in the Ganges River
I then went on another pilgrimage with our family. This time it was to the Ganges River, which is worshiped by Hindus who believe that bathing in it remits sins and helps to liberate the soul from the cycle of life and death. We went to Haridwar, regarded by Hindus as a holy place. This was also an extra holy time. It was the Kumbh Mela, a special Hindu festival. I was there in time to take my holy snan, the holy bath. Bathing in the Ganges River during the Kumbh Mela is considered a sacred act of cleansing the body and soul.
Before getting on the boat which takes pilgrims to the bathing area, we joined a group standing around a sadhu (holy man) who was performing his daily ritual worship with a live cobra snake. I also worshiped cows, which were allowed to roam freely, by giving them homage when I encountered them. On the boat, I fed the fish in the river, which are considered to be reincarnated human souls.
When I went into the river, I dipped myself several times in the freezing cold water, holding on to the strong ropes which ran through the designated bathing area so as not to be swept away by the powerful currents. No matter how many times I dipped, I was still an empty shell of a human being. Hurting and not healed, I was still a struggling and wounded soul who felt so hopeless and worthless.
I came out of the water of the Ganges River and felt no different. I was still so empty, unhappy, dissatisfied, and frustrated. “What is this?” I wondered. Something was sorely missing, and I couldn’t put my finger on it. To make matters worse, I didn’t know what to do about it.
Round Three, Manic Depression, and Shouting at God
Back in Canada, working full-time and raising my son as a single parent kept me very busy. When my son was five years old, I went through another difficult marriage which was arranged for me. This one ended very soon after it began, as the previous wife was still part of his life. However, the emotional and mental pain that I experienced drove me to the brink. I was lost – so lost – and could not find my way. By the time I was thirty-one years old, I had three arranged and failed marriages.
I had already been through so much pain in my young life. This was just too much. I fell into deep manic depression and was a walking dead woman. Days went by without getting out of bed. I wouldn’t brush my teeth or comb my hair. I didn’t know how to smile. There was total darkness in me and around me, as when day turns into night. Oh, the pain of just living! Just thinking of getting up was a burden and a task. Everything around me was black and gloomy, and I had no hope of ever recovering.
One day, in my confused and crazed state of mind, I pointed my fists to the sky, and in great anger I shouted to whoever I thought was up there, “I am a good person! Why are You doing this to me? I don’t want to live! I dare You to strike me dead!”
Conversion – Truth Revealed – Jesus Is the Answer
Despite all my religious good works and rituals, I was still a total wreck. Nothing worked. I was so lonely, still searching for meaning, and my life continued to spiral downwards. My pain and emptiness were so great that I felt hopeless and sometimes numb.
The Hindu pundits told me that I was paying for sins committed in my past lives. They said that I had to complete a certain amount of suffering and punishment in this life for things I had done in my previous life and birth cycles. It was not a difficult thing for me to accept because, as far as we were concerned, the pundits knew everything. What I could not deal with was the emotional and mental pain.
To the eternal glory of the living God, this is the point where my amazing and miraculous conversion story really begins. Leaving my aunt’s apartment in Brooklyn, New York, where Sanjay and I were staying, I found myself on a train heading into Manhattan. It was a cold and blistery Saturday morning, and a blizzard was on the way. I wandered around aimlessly for a couple of hours, wearing only a light coat. I felt numb and had no concept of how cold it really was.
Passing by a small restaurant, I noticed stacks of free newspapers against the showcase. I picked one up and headed for the subway station. When I reached home, barely greeting anyone in my sad and sorry state, I headed straight for the bedroom. Plunking myself down on the bed and angrily opening the newspaper, I flipped it from page to page. But then, all of a sudden, I reached the church section. My eyes were drawn to a particular advertisement, “Zion House of Worship,” which included an address and telephone number.
The only way I can express what happened next is to say that I felt as if I was “arrested.” Something within me “boomed” three times, “Call the church! Call the church! Call the church!” I thought to myself, “I am a Hindu. Why should I call this Christian church?” However, I felt compelled to dial the number. Our awesome God had a plan. The telephone was answered by the pastor – who turned out to be a former Hindu! It was surely a divine appointment.
I was crying uncontrollably, literally bawling, while trying to tell him that I needed help. He listened sympathetically, paused, and then told me that he knew someone who could help me and that he would introduce me to this person the next day. He invited me to meet with him and his wife the next morning at church and gave me directions how to get there. Before he hung up the telephone, he prayed for me. To this day, I don’t remember what he said in that prayer, but I know it was heard in heaven and started the wheels of salvation turning in my life.
The next morning, New York was blanketed with a terrible blizzard. The buses were getting stuck all over the city. My well-meaning aunt tried to discourage me from leaving home and “going out in that weather.” I remember replying to her, “I need help. I have to go.” I got lost all over New York City, despite having lived there years before. My mind was so disoriented. When I finally reached the train stop, an elder from the church was waiting to drive me to the place where we would be meeting.
Zion House of Worship met in the basement of the pastor’s humble home. This dear man of God, whom I had talked with on the telephone, came to me and introduced himself and his wife. It was a small gathering, mostly ladies who were dressed in their beautiful Indian saris.
As the pastor began to preach, he told the story of his conversion from Hinduism to Christianity. His mother had been bitten and killed by a cobra snake that his family was worshiping in their home in India. Shortly after this tragedy, missionaries led him to the living and true God.
He then preached a message that I had never heard before. As I listened, the light of God began to dawn upon that pit of darkness in my very lost soul. The pastor preached how the Son of God, by the Name of Jesus Christ, came into this world because God, His Father, had sent Him. I heard how Jesus Christ gave His life on the Cross of Calvary to save the world from sin. I heard how He was nailed to a Cross, bled, and died so that even the worst of sinners could find hope.
I also heard that Jesus was the only way to heaven. That concept, I could not understand. My precious Ma had always told us that there are many roads to God and that no matter which road we took, as long as the heart was clean, we would still end up with God. What was I hearing now? I was puzzled. Surely, my precious Ma would never lie to us! Why was I hearing something different?
As I continued to listen, I heard that God offered us a free, priceless gift when He gave the world His Only Begotten Son, Jesus Christ. I didn’t fully understand it all, but I felt sorry to know that someone was nailed to a Cross. For me. At the end of his preaching, the pastor gave an invitation for me to receive Jesus Christ into my heart. He asked if I would like to give my life to Him, to the God Who had died for my sins and for the sins of the whole world. He explained that this Person, Jesus, died and was raised from the dead by the power of God, and that this Person, Jesus, is alive. He said this Person, Jesus, is the living God. He said that this same Jesus could wipe my past slate clean and help me by giving me a new beginning. Oh, how I needed help and a new beginning!
The pastor repeated that if I would like to ask Jesus to come into my heart, to please come forward. Although I didn’t fully understand everything I had heard, I felt a tugging in my heart to respond. After all, I had never before heard of anyone dying for my sins. I went forward. As the pastor led me in a prayer of repentance for all my sins, and as I received the Lord Jesus Christ as my Lord and Savior, something happened to my heart. Though it was terribly cold outside, my heart was filled with a warmth, peace, and joy that I had never known before.
That cold and wintry day in 1984, without really understanding what I was doing, in faith I gave my life to the Lord Jesus Christ. At the very instant that I committed myself to the Lord Jesus, I felt as if tons of weight rolled off my back. I know now that was the heavy burden of sin that I carried. I finally felt light and clean. The Blood of Christ had cleansed my very sinful heart. Oh, how I thank You, Lord!
At the same time, I also experienced the remarkable sensation of scales falling off my eyes. For the first time in my life, it seemed as if I could see clearly. I felt so clean, so calm, so peaceful. I was indeed a new creation in Christ, born from the Holy Spirit of God. A spiritual rebirth had taken place in my life, instantly! I was ushered from total darkness right into the wonderful and delivering light of Jesus Christ.
My Precious Ma Didn’t Lie, but She Was Sincerely Wrong!
My precious Ma, whom I dearly love, had told me that there are many ways to heaven. My precious Ma would never lie. She told her family what she thought was true. She was sincere, but I found out that even my precious Ma was sincerely wrong. In the Holy Bible, the Lord Jesus Himself said in John 14:6 (KJV):
“I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man cometh unto the Father, but by Me.”
My dear friends, yes, Jesus really did come into my heart through His Holy Spirit. He changed my heart and gave me a new life. He touched me! He washed me in His precious Blood, threw my past into the sea of forgetfulness, cleaned up my life, and gave me a brand-new beginning. Glory to God! I am amazed to know that, in spite of all my horrible sins, Christ saw my helpless state and shed His Blood for me. He is merciful. Holy is His Name! How great is our God!
Dear reader, I was a great sinner who needed a great Savior and who found my Deliverer in the Lord Jesus Christ. Something happened to this poor, sinful, and desperate idol worshiper. At the age of thirty-two, I was touched by the holy and mighty hands of the living God!
The day I gave my life to the Lord Jesus, a fountain filled with tears of joy and gratitude was released from my inner being. To think that He loved me so much that He was willing to die for me! I was so touched and moved by this revelation of truth that, from that day, I still marvel at this kind of divine, pure, holy, and perfect love.
Now, one of my chief goals in life is to share with other precious seekers—especially Hindus—the “Name which is above every name”: the wonderful Name of Jesus. Just call on His Name and you will never be the same.
Prema has authored a full length book on her story titled From Cows and Cobras to the Cross of Christ. It can be purchased at https://deeperrevelationbooks.org/cms/index.php?mact=Products,cntnt01,details,0&cntnt01productid=218&cntnt01returnid=120
You may email Prema at: firstname.lastname@example.org