What is your background?
My origins are from Gujarat, India. I was born in Nairobi, Kenya but just a few months after my birth my parents moved to England. I’ve spent most of my life here. Academics and sports was a priority within my family and so from a very young age a lot of my time was spent trying to excel in these two spheres. My schooling in north west London was filled with Christian teaching, but for generations my family have worshiped a variety of Hindu gods. For a few years I migrated between these two faiths.
What drew you to Hinduism?
My parents have always had a house shrine and so engagement in Hindu rituals at home was a daily occurrence. Watching my mother fully engrossed in the mornings and evenings in front of the shrine enabled me to grasp that God would always be central in my life and so it would be a Hindu God and no other.
Both parents were very involved during the weekends at the local Hindu temple. By tradition I was expected to follow this trend and so by my very early teens I didn’t have a choice. I was encouraged to develop my social circle around the temple community – which were all Gujarati – and hence allow my school to provide an academic angle only.
As the temple and its community became such a huge part of my life, the various aspects attached to it began to grow on me and I liked it. I found that the temple helped me to get away from day to day problems at home as well. It was a place where I found peace from a very early age. There was a certain atmosphere of calm as I engaged in the activities, service and rituals.
What made you want to become a Hindu Priest?
I was gifted in speaking and so I was asked to lead youth activities, which opened the door for some of my week day evenings to be at the temple as well. The more time I spent at the temple the more it held a major part in my heart and life.
The culture, the theology, my friends and the Hindu priests who came from India began to shape and mould my thought life. At the age of 16 the guru (spiritual leader) of the whole organisation came to London and I was asked to speak to 3,000 people in the congregation. He was very impressed and very quickly suggested that I should be a priest as I would be able to offer a lot to promote Hinduism. The guru was God to me and all in the community. He gave me a lot of attention and recognition within a short while and I was fascinated by his mystical personality. This fascination and recognition increased, which led to my passion to become a priest.
What were your experiences of being a Hindu priest?
There were certain disciplines and ways of life as a Hindu priest that help in my walk with the Lord today. Years of celibacy, fasting and staying away from gossip help to keep my mind in a fairly well focused position. There are certain pilgrimage places in India that hold quite a mystical atmosphere. My guru also had a mystical presence about him. But the deeper challenge in my soul was that I never felt nourished, fulfilled or complete. Amidst all the rituals and various meditations, there was always a sense of something missing deep down within me. A deeper need for a love that I was unaware yet yearning for. My life as a Hindu priest was about earning God’s love through rules, regulations and rituals. I never knew that it was about a relationship. I kept striving and performing. This led to a deeper level of fear and anxiety even though I could preach with confidence to thousands at one time.
What made you turn to Christ?
I was travelling a lot. Almost once a week I was in Europe and I visited America quite a bit. I’ve always been a wanderer and so after my meetings and prayer rituals I would walk around beautiful cities where I had developed a congregation. This led to me walking inside beautiful churches to acknowledge the wonderful art and architecture. After some time, I noticed these visits began to go beyond the art as I recognised that there was a distinctive and very attractive presence. Something deep within me began to beautifully stir as I stared at paintings of Jesus or just sit and ‘be’ in ‘his’ atmosphere. It was touching deep places where my guru or meditations could not reach. After 20 years of search and struggle I finally resigned as a priest and decided to park spirituality completely. In my despair I had forgotten about my secret attraction to Jesus Christ. I was disappointed with the way I had wasted my life searching for God until one Sunday – only three weeks after resigning – I walked into a church en route to the west end. I wanted to sit and enjoy the atmosphere and as I entered into the main door the presence and peace of Christ fell on me with such nourishing warmth. On that day without any mind wrestling I gave my life to Jesus.
What is your book about? What do you hope it will achieve?
My book is about my search for true and perfect love. We are designed to be loved by a Father. It’s about having a love relationship with Him and not a lifestyle riddled with rules.
The book encompasses my early childhood, my priestly years where I filled the gap of that deeply needed love with recognition, talents, meditations, rules and rituals until I had a powerful love encounter with the risen Jesus Christ. After the encounter the book covers how the Lord took me on a deep inner journey where I had to work on my identity as a son and not seeking affirmation anywhere else. It narrates the Lord’s desire to make me whole and rooted in Him only and that journey still continues.
My deep desire is that whoever reads the book has a powerful encounter with the love of Christ and a deeper revelation that only He can reach the deepest needs of our soul.
My hope is that the reader finds a relationship with God and not a theology about Him. We need His tangible presence every day to nourish, refresh and complete us all
Found by Love by Rahil Patel is available on Amazon.