Gary in India

Gary, a Perkins School of Theology graduate student, traveled to India in January 2011 with other SMU students as part of the Global Theological Education Program. During their course “The Bible in Global Context: Reading the Bible Through Indian Eyes,” the students visited Christians, who are a minority population in India, as well as places of worship, temples and museums.

Lining up

Gary9.jpg Brihadisvara Temple, Thanjavur, Tamil Nadu, India. My friend Amy said, you won’t see people in the U.S. lined up like that to get into church to meet their God.

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Dedicated to Shiva

Gary8.jpg Brihadisvara Temple, Thanjavur, Tamil Nadu, India, dedicated in 1010 AD and in continuous use since then, dedicated to the Hindu god Shiva (also rendered as Siva or Saiva).

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Aryan invaders

Gary6.jpg Srirangan Hindu temple, Tiruchirapalli, Tamil Nadu, India. 3000 years ago the Aryan invaders from what is now Turkey introduced Brahmanic Hinduism, the caste system, and horses to India.

The horse statues in this temple are evidence the Aryan influence extended here, quite far into the south. The caste system leads to the oppression of the untouchables, the Dalits.

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14th-century temple

Gary5.jpg One of 27 entrances to the 14th-century Srirangam Hindu temple dedicated to Vishnu, a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

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A Christian ashram

Gary4.jpg Saccidananda Ashram, Shantivanam of the Holy Spirit, a Christian ashram, is a monastery of Benedictine monks that includes study of Hindu doctrine (Vedanta) and Hindu methods of prayer and meditation (Yoga) and welcomes guests from all around the world for retreats. We had a talk with the abbot Father Martin and shared lunch, which was simple but delicious.

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Safe place for all

Gary3.jpg These girls at a Tamil Evangelical Lutheran hostel get an education and a safe place to stay and the chance to escape grinding poverty and abuse. Hindus, Muslims, and Christians – all are welcome – live together. They are invited to pray together in church but none is forced. This Christian approach is invitational, not coercive, with love for each child at its heart.

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Visiting Bangalore

Gary2.jpg At Rice Memorial Christian Church, Church of South India, in Bangalore, India

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Studying with Dalits

Gary1.jpg Studying with oppressed Dalits today. Dalits rock! Jesus Christ promises us liberation from all oppression, and those who limit this liberation to eschatological realization just don’t get what Jesus preached.

In photo: On January 3, at the Student Christian Movement Center in Bangalore.

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On our way

Made it to Frankfurt, now waiting for the flight to Bangalore. Not much sleep!

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