Radha Krishnan, a Hindu Brahman who was my teacher of English and social studies in the 1970’s, has converted to Catholicism and is now a Discalced Carmelite. Every day, she offers her life and her sufferings "for the world."
Radha Krishnan is the fourth daughter of a devout Hindu family in the Brahmin caste of the "Iyengar." She has an older sister and three brothers, all of them Hindu. When she taught at the Canossa convent in Mahim (Mumbai) from 1971-1972, everyone loved her because she was young, attractive, friendly. She was the envy of all the girls because she had beautiful black hair, very long, arranged in braids.
Over two years of teaching, in contact with the Canossian sisters, Radha felt a strong, constant calling to give her life to Jesus. After her conversion, she joined the Canossian sisters, but there as well she felt the call to live her communion with the Lord more deeply.
I met my former teacher a few days ago. She is no longer called Radha, but Sister Mary Joseph, and for more than 30 years has been living in the monastery of the Discalced Carmelites in Mumbai, in Andheri East.
Sister Mary Joseph radiates joy in every one of her words and actions; her joy makes her so luminous that she seems much younger than her 61 years. Here I transcribe the things that she told me. NC.
At the age of 24, after my degrees in the arts and also in education, I joined Canossa Convent as a teacher teaching English and social studies. At the convent run by the Canossa Daughters of Charity, I came in close contact with the religious nuns, at an age when most of my friends were getting married. I felt an urgent and incessant calling to a meeting with Jesus, my love for Jesus began growing and I felt a deep desire to know him, love him and serve him. I enjoyed my teaching these young teenage girls, but this calling to be with Jesus never faded. I ran away from home and I was baptized Radha Maria Krishnan, and joined the Cannosia order.
My family was completely shattered, I had brought shame and embarrassment on the family, my parents had to suffer humiliation from my relatives, being from a very traditional and high caste Brahmin Iyengar family, and now converting to Christianity was a very big blow to our family pride. My parents suffered, my elder sister was already married but she too had to bear the taunts and torments of our well meaning relatives. Her mother was a very religious person, whose morning began at dawn performing religious rituals and whose afternoons were spent reading sacred Hindu scripture.
But Jesus never fails his beloved, over the years my parents, especially my mother, were completely at peace with my vocation as a Christian and as a Carmelite nun. Both my parents have died, but completely at peace with me and my Christian vocation. My brothers and sister too, and their children are very happy and reconciled to my Christian vocation, now they are at peace, also my relatives too are now reconciled not only to my being a Catholic nun, but also the family is united in reconciliation. Occasionally they come to the monastery with their own children – this is a matter of immense joy for me. My Spouse (Jesus) takes care also of my affectivity. All of them are still Hindu.
After joining the Canossa convent, I was sent for further studies to obtain a master’s degree. However, academic studies left me with very little time for prayer – this left me unfulfilled, I felt restless, I had a deep desire to devote my day and night to being with Jesus, praying, meditating, sharing, doing everything, even living for Jesus – and all of this left a yearning within me. Then my calling to the cloistered life was discerned, I joined the cloistered in May of 1977, and these 31 years have been the happiest and most joyful years of my life.
Once, during recreation, I made a special request to be permitted to read the newspaper (as we do not have any outside source of daily news – like TV , radio or other media) and this was granted to me, So now, my superior and I read the daily newspaper and I am living and praying in the present reality.
My hours of prayer are spent praying for the current events and trends of modern society.
I suffer and pray, my calling today is: "Vicariously suffering for the world."
I enter deeply into the suffering with my prayer, my prayer for the persecuted Church, the moral and ethical issues in the world, the attacks against life, the youth, the snares of temptations for the youth like drugs, pornography and such evils that exist, the breaking up of the family and also marriage, these are my deepest sufferings and prayer.
Orissa is close to my heart, as is every other instance where the basic human right of religious freedom is attempted to be snuffed out and snatched away. But the history of the Church is persecution strengthens faith.
India today is experiencing self-defence of religion. And we Christians need to live our lives in a way that will attract others.
I have great hope for India, and God has always intervened in the history of humankind and this will be fulfilled for our beloved India too. We have to make a radical change in our life. Live the Gospel in a radical way- love for God and love for our neighbour.
Love for Jesus conquers all.
Details about the above: The testimony of an Indian Carmelite Nun, a convert from Hinduism who now offers her life and sufferings for the world, in Jesus Christ her Savior.
By Sr Mary Joseph Krishnan
Accessed on June 30, 2012