Anand Mahadevan

24 10 2008

I was born a Brahmin and am the grandson of a priest whom I dearly loved. I am educated and my current professional standing indicates that I am reasonably intelligent. I am also affluent and my income would put me distinctly in the upper middle class bracket. I guess that would make me high-caste, rich and smart. In other words, I am not a tribal, or poor or dim-witted. And yet, I chose to become a follower of Jesus Christ.

The world would call me a convert to Christianity. I have no problems with that, though I see my faith more as a relationship with God through Jesus Christ than as a religion. And for the record, I can truthfully claim that no one financially induced or threatened or deceived me into converting to Christianity.

I am fiercely proud of my national identity as an Indian and I am completely at peace with my cultural identity as a Hindu. I retain the name my parents gave me. My wife, who also shares my faith, continues to go by her Hindu name. We have two children and we have given both distinctly Hindu names. In fact, many of my colleagues and acquaintances who may happen to read this column are likely to be surprised. They have no inkling about my faith, for I generally don’t go about announcing it. But if someone does ask me the reason behind the joy and hope that is everpresent in my life, I am always delighted to share it with them.

I write this piece to make one point—that my conversion was not a change of religion but a change of heart. To explain this, I need to go back to my childhood in Chennai, similar to that of so many other Tamil Brahmin boys like me. My grandfather, every bit the virtuous priest, had enormous influence over me. I absolutely adored him and as a toddler, always clung to him. He too loved me to a fault. There was no wish of mine that he would not rush to fulfil. But even in my early, formative years I was unable to relate to the religion he fervently practiced. Later, in my school days, I once spent my summer holidays with him in Trichy. Memories of dawn walks with him, for the ritualistic dip in the Cauvery river, cow in tow, are still fresh in my memory. I learnt many shlokas, some of which I still remember. But I never understood any of it and none of it helped me connect with God.

When I was 19, a Christian friend with whom I used to play cricket invited me to his house for prayer. If he had invited me to a pub, or party, I would have gone too. At his home, he and his sister prayed for me. It was a simple yet delightful conversation with God that lasted all of five minutes. I don’t remember it verbatim, but they articulated a prayer of blessing on my life, future, career and family. It was a simple affair—no miracles, no angels visiting. All they did was utter a deep human cry out to the creator God and His only son Jesus Christ. When they said Amen, I felt in my heart a desire to follow Jesus.

It was a faith encounter with God that I shall not even attempt to understand, rationalise or explain. I simply accept it. It is my faith. It is what I choose to believe. That evening I did not change my religion, for in reality I had none. Hinduism was my identity, not my religion. It still is.

The Christianity I acquired that evening is not a religion. On the contrary, it is an intensely intimate relationship with Jesus. Over the past fifteen years, I have come to know this Jesus even closer. I know Him as the pure and sinless Son of a Holy God. And I know Him as a dear friend to whom I pray and talk to every day—about my career, my dreams, successes, failures, finances and even my sexuality.

If I read a good book, watch a good movie (Rock On is terrific, mate), or eat a good meal at a new restaurant, I would naturally tell my friends about it.In Jesus, I have discovered a truly amazing friend, guide, leader, saviour and God. How can I not tell all my friends about Him? And if anyone does listen and he too comes to believe in Jesus, I am delighted. The world would call it a conversion; I call it a change of heart, like mine.

But I would never force anyone to listen to me, leave alone financially induce, coerce or con him into believing. That to me is pointless and against the very grain of my faith. But I do have a constitutional right to practice my faith and to preach it without deception, force or bribery. It pains to see such basic rights of mankind being cruelly violated every day in this great Hindu nation.

God bless India.

(Anand Mahadevan is the editor of Outlook Business.)




11 responses

1 11 2008

Dear Anand,
It is good to know that you are able to connect with Jesus and that you are happy to have had this change of religion, nay, heart.

However, I disagree with you when you say that the basic rights of mankind are being cruelly violated in India. I believe you mean that people are not being allowed to practice their faith and/or preach it.

If that were true, how do you explain the countless number of churches in every city, town and village? There are tons of Christians doing well in all spheres of life in India with absolutely no discrimination. In fact, the only discrimination I have seen is in the convent schools where the people of other religions (especially Hindus) are discriminated against. This has happened to me in Don Bosco High School, Perambur where I studied and had a bad experience.

Also, to say that money is not offered to convert hindus to christianity is like being an ostrich with its head buried in the sand. It is quite well known that different amounts of money is offered to people based on their caste and standing in society.

Educated people like you obviously cannot be tricked into accepting a new faith and that is why you have not gone through that experience. A simple fact is that there is one god above us who is called by different names by different people.

Every religion prescribes a way to reach out to God and connect with Him. To say that calling him Jesus and going to Churches is the only way to becoming a better person is plain ludicrous. That tells me that the Christians are patronizing and intolerant of other religions.

Lastly, Hinduism does not have one set of rules to say that the only way to pray is to have these ritualistic dips or chant Shlokas.

thanks for your time,

13 11 2008

Yes there is only one God. If there is one God, then the way to him is also one.

Anand, I have also(along with my family) have accepted Jesus Christ as the Lord.

Soumy Rajaram(nee Benavides)

3 12 2008
Sridhar Rajendran

Hi Anand,
I am a son of Brahmin mother. My real conversion,/ change of heart happened after meeting number of Brahmin friends at Chennai. I have mentioned their names in my blog

I agree with your point that as we share the best food we had or good movie we watched, we have to share our relationship with Jesus to others. This is as good as introduing my friend to you.

I think our missionaries should also avoid tempinting poor people by money. They are not ramping up their project or organization.

I think our missionaries should also avoid tempting poor people by money. They are not ramping up their project or organization.

People like you and I can be the light and salt to our friends, neighbors and the society which we belong.

God bless you.


11 12 2008
Alby P Vincent

Dear Sir
I would like to get your photograph to be used in the x’mas issue of sunday shalom magazine. could you please forward it at the earliest.,
thanking you

10 03 2009

This message is for Soumy Rajaram(nee Benavides). Can you narrate your conversion story?


14 03 2009

Soumy looking for your response!

14 03 2009

Looking for your response!

18 03 2009

Dear Perumal,
I just know only onething..
Jesus Loves You !!
Try Jesus.

29 07 2009

I am also born of Brahmin (Tamizh Iyer Vadamal) parents. I love them and I am proud of my heritage as an Indian. I have met Jesus like you, have struggled and been convicted by the Holy Spirit and have become a Christian, born again and baptized. There is one God and no one goes to the Father except through Jesus Christ, the Son of God and the Savior of the world. I want my brethren from the Brahmin community and the Hindu faith, to know that I have never been offered anything, any inducement of any kind to accept Christianity. NEVER. I would not have, in fact, if I had been offered.
Jesus offers more than what any Christian or church can ever offer. He offers the forgiveness of sins and the promise of eternal life. And I have accepted. I pray all the world will.

17 10 2010

Dear Anand,

I and my wife Phebe met you today at the Mumbai Baptist Church.

Sorry I could not collect your card, can you mail me your contact details at vivekcherian AT gmail DOT com.

25 08 2014
A. S. Mathew

The day is approaching, thousands of people from different religions are going to meet JESUS CHRIST as their Lord and Savior, as the Prince of peace every day. He died for the sins of the whole humanity, rose again from the grave and living today. Only a living Savior can save us from sins as He has promised.

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