Are we all Hindus now?
Dr. Reagan and I on our ministry’s television show Christ in Prophecy had the pleasure of asking this question of our special guest Caryl Matrisciana. Caryl is a best selling author and filmmaker and is a recognized expert on Eastern religions, contemporary cults, paganism and the occult. She has been involved in the production of more than 60 documentaries over the past 30 years. Her biographical testimony Out of India explains how she grew up under Hinduism in India and lived it in England and the U.S. as a New Ager before accepted Christ as Savior. She joined us warn us of the dangers of equating Yoga with Christianity.
Dr. Reagan: Hinduism has had a major impact on religious beliefs in the Western world over the past half-century, so much so in fact that Newsweek magazine recently featured an article entitled, “We Are All Hindus Now.” Caryl, you’re an expert on Eastern religions. Mind telling us about how you became an expert on Hinduism?
Caryl Matrisciana: Well, I wish I could take credit for it, but actually I was the fifth generation born in India. It was my environment. It was my personal experience.
I was born in Calcutta, India. Calcutta is named after the black goddess Kali who has her tongue sticking out. She has the 29 heads of her husbands whom she has slaughtered and killed because she desires blood. Kali got the steppes of Calcutta, and the steppes to Kali was the city which I was born in.
I saw first-hand the incredible worship to Kali, the goddess Durga, and Shiva. He’s the consort who has the serpent wrapped around his neck, arms, and around his legs. Whatever Shiva is thinking the serpent is thinking it for him. Whatever he is doing he does with the serpent around his arms. Wherever he goes he goes with the serpent around his legs. So, serpent power is integral in Hinduism, and actually in all Eastern mysticism. The serpent is raised as a being of power, knowledge and wisdom.
And so, I had this exposure as a child growing up and realized the power and the adoration of everyone around me for this sort of so called “white incredible wisdom,” and yet as a little child I could feel the spiritual fear somehow. I can’t explain it. It was just always an ongoing dichotomy.
I was born of British parents. My father was in the British military and my great grandfather before him in the diplomatic service. Despite all the Hinduism I was raised a fifth generation Roman Catholic. At the time I was very devote because of my father dividing my life. It was orchestrated by Jesuit Priests and by nuns who advised my father as to which schools I should go to. Even when I was sent to boarding school later on in my life in England it was under the protection of the nuns of the Sacred Heart Convent.
Interestingly, in every country that Roman Catholicism thrives it takes on the culture of the host country. So, in India, Roman Catholicism is actually deeply influenced by Hindu mysticism. It was naturally a very easy step for me after I left school at about 17 or 18 to continue in that mysticism and still believe I was a good Catholic.
Caryl Matrisciana: My parents had left India and we’d come to London, England in the late 60’s. It was swinging London. The Beetles were there. Hair the theater show was the absolute number one swinging hit. And, I remember discovering the promotion of Hinduism and yoga had been completely repackaged for the West. The Hare Krishna’s devotees were going down the London streets like Oxford Street in their orange garb, crashing their cymbals, and crying “Hare, Hare, Hare, Rama, Rama, Rama.” I used to remember that I’d heard this as a child in India, but it was much darker. It was sort of blacker. It hadn’t been repackaged for the Western mind.
Hinduism came to the West through the Beatles and through Maharishi Mahesh Yogi, through transcendental meditation, and through other celebrities. When the celebrities talked about eastern meditation, eastern mysticism, and yoga, it came packaged with celebrity status. It was very appealing to us young people growing up in our 17, 18, 19, 20’s. We were seeing our superstars turning to drugs and eastern mysticism and of course we wanted to be involved as well.
In London when I was 20 years old in 1966, I went to see a musical. It was Hair, and it was very spiritually transforming. I thought I had found the truth. Really, what was incredible about the musical was the manipulative way that music had now come into that generation, and of course now it is part of this generation which is consumed with music and the power of music. Music was the conduit to take you into spiritual realms and without even realizing you were in the spiritual realm. I was being taken into this polished Hinduism and yoga that I had just come out of.
In India you could see Hinduism very clearly because there are hundreds of idols, thousands of idols in the trees, in the monkey guard, in the elephant guard, and so on. There is the sacred cow standing in the middle of the street which your car is not permitted to move because it is considered a god. The sacred cow is a holy cow. You cannot move the cow. It’s the deity of the street and at that moment can hold up your meetings, but you cannot kick that thing out of the way because you can’t kick a god. And, you see, it’s not only the cow, but every animal and every living thing is considered divinity in Hinduism. The trees are divine. The rats are, too, and there are even rat temples. There are also snake temples.
The idea of being one with divinity is part of Hinduism, and yet in Roman Catholicism I was raised with the idea that Jesus Christ on the cross was sort of a divinity. I couldn’t reach Him because I had to go through Mary and I had to go through prayers and burning candles and I had to go through mass and through benediction and my daily devotionals. In Catholicism God is a God who isn’t reachable, but in Hinduism everything is divine, and so the conflict is huge.
In the next part of this series “Escaping from Hinduism” with guest Caryl Matrisciana, we’ll look at how The Beatles music group introduced Hindu teachings to the West.