I was born and raised in a Brahmin (priestly class) Hindu family in Ahemdabad, in the Western State of Gujarat, India. My mother was a very devout Hindu lady who sowed the seeds of devotion for God in me when I was young child. I remember when I was 5 or 6 years old, my mother used to read me the Ramayan. Ramayan is the story of Lord Sri Rama, the God incarnate who lived in India about 10,000 years ago.
As I was growing up, every day in the morning, I enjoyed helping my mother collect flowers from our garden for her Puja . I used to sit next to my mother and watch do her daily Pujas with lots of devotion, which impressed me the most. I enjoyed when my parents took me on pilgrimages to various temples in India.
My father was a Sanskrit scholar and he knew many Sanskrit Slokas and prayers, which he used to chant in the morning. Listening to these powerful Sanskrit chants inspired me to learn Sanskrit in school.
Growing up, my mother used to invite Brahmin priest to do Sri Satya Narayan Puja in our home on a regular basis. As a result, my parents have made a strong foundation in my spiritual life. As a young boy, I did not understand God, and did not believe in God. Even though I did not really believed in God, I always enjoyed the uplifting Kirtan and Bhajans, devotional songs. I was a student leader and had a strong mind, and thought (ignorantly, thinking back now) that I can do anything I want in life. I thought I don’t need God to help me because I did not understand the ways of God. I used to say you have weak mind so you need God, I don’t.
However, with the strong Indian cultural emphasis on the God and spirituality, I had good appreciation of the Law of Karma and reincarnation. I learned from my parents that always be good and do good because you will reap what you sow. I knew that there is no other explanation of inequality in life than the theory of Karma and reincarnation. My parents emphasis the life living on Dharma, the highest spiritual principles.
In early 1980s, as I started seriously practicing Yoga and Meditation, I had my first spiritual experiences that convinced me the existence of God beyond all doubts. And now, I wonder how one can’t believe in God!
As with my sharing of Yoga, I was thrown into doing Pujas and acting as Brahmin priest. Like the saying goes, God works in a mysterious ways, and that is absolutely true for me doing these Pujas in the Temples and devotees home. When I moved to Portland, Oregon in 1989, there was a need for a priest in the Portland community. There is a Hindu Temple (www.portlandtemple.org) in Portland, whose director is Swami Vishwa Premananda, (Swamiji) who travels from time to time. So, Swamiji requested me to do Pujas in his absence, like Sri Chandi Homa during Navaratri, nine days of Divine Mother’s festival, etc. And as result of Swamiji’s and God’s grace, people started inviting me to do Pujas in their homes.
I don’t claim to know anything, but one thing I do claim that there is tremendous grace in my life since my childhood. I feel very immensely blessed and honored indeed performing Pujas in Temples and homes. I am a Brahmin, priest by birth so I do believe I have Sanskaras, spiritual impressions from past lives to act as a Pujari, the one who does Pujas in Temples and homes. I feel very blessed in serving the communities around the North Western USA.
I will serve not until my last breath, but I pray that may the all compassionate Lord bless me and give me Millions of opportunities to serve for the many lives to come. I don’t ask and want liberation from birth and death, or the Samadhi, highest spiritual illumination. I want to serve, take away the sorrows of all my brothers and sisters. I pray that I take birth again and again to serve God within the man.