“For behold, from henceforth : all generations shall call me blessed. For he that is mighty hath magnified me : and holy is his Name. And his mercy is on them that fear him : throughout all generations. He hath shewed strength with his arm : he hath scattered the proud in the imagination of their hearts.”
– The Magnificat of Mary, Book of Common prayer
I was raised Southern Baptist. A denomination so iconoclastic that even evangelicals would tell them to clam down. Growing up, I was told that anything even remotely resembling Catholicism was perverting the truth of Christs gospel. Never mind Catholics themselves, who were pretty much the epitome of evil. I had no idea of the Saints, Sacraments, the mass, the many devotionals, the rosary, mortal or venial sin, or the varying religious orders. All I knew was that they were all a bunch of “Mary Worshippers.” Now that I’m Hindu, I have no attraction towards Jesus, the church, or the Bible (not anymore, at least).
Yet, try as I might, I cannot shake my strong, almost obsessive, attraction to the Blessed Virgin Mary. More specifically to Our Lady of Seven Sorrows.
How can something so morbid be so spiritually beautiful?
Like I said, I have absolutely no attraction to Jesus or to many other parts of Christianity. Yet, I cannot deny that I feel a burning love for his mother. So much so, that I find myself going to Catholic churches on her feast days or just to light a candle on one of her altars. I have a couple of rosaries and am even considering purchasing a small statue of her. However, make no mistake, this isn’t me syncretizing Christianity with Hinduism. I do not hold the Bible as authoritative or believe Jesus to be God. If this is the case, then why do I have such a deep love for Mary?
I honestly do not know. I was not raised Catholic, so I don’t have a nostalgic fondness for her. I don’t believe her to be an incarnation of Devi, but have no problem having her alongside Durga, Lakshmi, or Kali. When I look into her eyes, I see a love for her son and for the world that is as intense as those from Hinduism. The love of a mother, who grieves for the suffering of the world. Who prays for us and wants us to turn to her for comfort. In my times of sorrow, I turn to the Divine Mother (in her many forms) and know that I am not alone. Mary is just another one of those mothers.
I know very well that this isn’t a part of traditional Hinduism. Those who are more orthodox will see this kind of devotion as outside of what is normative or even “watering down” Hinduism. Yet at the same time, this isn’t as uncommon as one might think. Regardless of this, Hinduism has a history of existing alongside other religions and in many cases mixed and intermingled with other practices. How else do you think Hinduism moved from a Vedic to a predominately more Puranic/Bhakti practice? Mary is not going to be considered a goddess in our religion any time soon. And rest assured, she is not going to take over or replace the many other goddesses. Our religion isn’t going to be destroyed if some people venerate a figure outside of its traditions.
Hail Mary, full of grace. Pray for us, now and at the hour of our death.