Picture this scene: approximately two hundred million men, women, and children; from every religious caste; from every echelon of every society; from most of the countries across the world; all congregating at the confluence of the Ganges river, the Sarasvati river, and the Brahmaputra (Jamuna) river at Prayag (modern day Prayagraj).
This jaw-dropping scene is the largest gathering of any kind on planet earth. It is Kumbh Mela, among the most significant of Hindu festivals. So many people congregate for this most auspicious of gatherings for the chance to bathe in the convergence of what are considered holy rivers. The reason for the gathering of this many Hindus for a bath is found in the Puranas (religious Hindu texts written in Sanskrit). Legend has it that gods and demons fought over the ‘kumbha’ (pot) of ‘amrita’ (immortality) after the gods were weakened by a curse from the sage named Durvasas. The gods invited ‘devas’ (titans or demi-gods) to help them recover the elixir of immortality to restore them to full strength. During the struggle, remnants of the elixir of immortality fell on the Kumbh Mela’s four sites (Haridwar, Ujjain, Nashik, and Prayagraj). It is believed that at the right times, the rivers turn back into the elixir, giving pilgrims the chance to literally bathe in purity and immortality. This is most significant in a Hindu understanding, as it is a chance to obtain ‘moksha’ (salvation from the cruel cycle of life, death, and re-birth).
Despite the breathtaking photography captured at the last of these festivals in 2019, there is neither salvation nor immortality to be found in these rivers. Rather, this is a picture of millions upon millions of people who are harassed and helpless, like sheep in desperate need of a Shepherd who will love them and guide them to true and eternal life. The Kumbh Mela is symptomatic of the problem that the literally one billion Hindus around the world face on a daily basis. The metronomic observance of pilgrimages; festivals; ‘pujas’ (prayer meetings); and temple visits are bathed in guilt, fear, hopelessness, and desperation. There is no reward for strict observance; there is no safety in the wise counsel of the ‘Brahmins’ (religious caste) and ‘sadhus’ (holy men); and there is no warm embrace of a loving god, but rather dumb idols who can give assurance of absolutely nothing because they can do absolutely nothing. Hindus, here in Sydney, and all across the globe, need to have the veil removed from their heads and their eyes opened to Satya (the One who is Truth).
Forgetting so many who are overseas for a moment, I hope you are beginning to see the reality of friends, family, neighbours, work colleagues, and passers-by who are all around you! There are droves of Hindus from South Asia at our doorstep. In Sydney and more broadly in Australia, there is virtually no suburb that does not have South Asians who either work there or reside there. And yet, at least anecdotally (but I suspect will be found more and more true with the release of further census data), there are so many Hindus who have never heard of Christ, and never had a follower of Christ walk alongside them and show them what it means to have Christ as the Lord of all of their lives. As followers of Christ, we are privileged ‘with unveiled faces [to] contemplate the Lord’s glory, [and] are being transformed into his image with ever-increasing glory’ (2 Cor 3:18), and we surely need to share the truth of Christ with the Hindus around us.
While we must continue to pursue the evangelism and discipleship of Hindus with a tenacity of purpose, it is surely first and foremost our privilege to pray to our great God: Lord, open the eyes of Hindus to Satya! We ought to pray because ‘unless the Lord builds the house, the builders labour in vain’ (Ps 127:1), and as such the very lifeblood of any movement of discipleship and evangelism of any people group (Hindus or otherwise) is prayer. We ought to pray as individuals, families, households, growth groups, prayer groups, youth groups, mission groups, church congregations, and any other gathering of believers that we care to name.
One way that you might join with other followers of Christ in prayer, is through the ‘15 days of prayer for the Hindu world’ (16-30 October 2022). Please download the prayer guides (https://hinduprayerguide.weebly.com), and pray with others around the world, that Hindus would come to have their eyes opened to the truth of Christ and the hope and healing that comes in a genuine relationship with him.
So many Hindus are genuinely seeking a life of knowledge and inner peace, and yet face significant spiritual attack, due to malevolent Hindu spirits and deities, and physical and mental torment, especially due to the oppressive practices associated with Hindu concepts like karma, and the outworking of Hindu theology (as broad as that is) in the devaluing of the life and inherent worth of some sub-sections of people in a society. What they need, more than anything else, is to see Christ – sovereign, powerful, wise, loving, compassionate, gracious, and kind. And of course, as you pray that Hindus know Christ, pray also that the Lord of the harvest would raise up more and more workers for the harvest field, including brothers and sisters from a Hindu background, that they would be captivated by all of Christ, and proclaim the truth of Christ in Sydney, and all across the globe.
Ben P George
Chairman of the South Asian Concern Committee
Evangelism and New Churches (ENC)
Prayer Guide (in Australia) is an initiative of the South Asian Concern
committee of Evangelism and New Churches (ENC) in Sydney. The group’s raison d’être is to see
South Asians, with a particular focus on those from a Hindu background, won for
the Lord Jesus Christ in Sydney Diocese and beyond.
 This is known as the ‘churning of the ocean of milk.’