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Shivanika, friend of KanikaAt a coffee shop in Delhi, Kanika thought she was spending just another afternoon passing time with her childhood friend Jo Jo, avoiding the heat and the crush of people outside. But there was something different in the way Jo Jo approached her that day. He had a special question for her: Do you know what is happening to your soul when you die? Kanika had no idea, and that worried her.

Surprisingly, in their twenty years of friendship, Jo Jo, an Indian Evangelical Christian, and Kanika, a Hindu, had never discussed their religions. That day at Costa Coffee though, Jo Jo started a long discussion, scribbling Christian themes and images on the napkins scattered around him. Kanika collected the napkins and poured over them that night in bed.

In the weeks to come, Kanika began talking to other Christian friends and considering a conversion. She knew hardly anything about Christianity and had grown up in a devout Hindu family, but the question of life after death remained unanswered for her.

Now, four years later, at 24, Kanika is at a crossroads. She has become an Evangelical Christian in secret, and her family disapproves of any reference she makes to Christianity.

There are an estimated 24 million Christians in India, or 2.3 percent of the population. In Delhi, less than one percent of the population is Christian; 82 percent are Hindu. Throughout India, Christians have faced violence and had their churches destroyed, but Delhi residents have largely avoided persecution. It is a point of city pride that so many different religions can coexist: Hindus, Sikhs, Muslims, Jains, Buddhists, Christians, and even a small Jewish population. But coexisting doesn’t mean the lines between the faiths are blurry.

Kanika’s parents are not happy with the changes they’ve seen in their daughter. In many ways, their household resembles that of any with a young adult still living at home but testing the limits. Daily life involves regular battles over Kanika’s participation in Hindu worship. Often, Kanika finds herself “not telling a lie, but not telling the truth.”

Recently, her family planned to rise at dawn to join long lines of practicing Hindus waiting to worship Manasa devi, the goddess of snakes, which is thought to cure chicken pox, among other things. Her parents thought it natural that Kanika accompany them on their 5 a.m. journey to the temple, but Kanika resisted. At this point, Kanika is embarrassed and dismissive when she explains Hindu customs.

“Hindus worship the animals, the plants, the trees, the rivers — idols, I mean they would do a lot of crazy things. I do not get what they do and why they do it,” she said. In worshipping Manasa devi, Hindus avoid using heat. They cook food the day before and don’t use hot water. They’ll also leave food in the road as an offering to the goddess. Kanika could barely walk down her street because it was covered with offerings. In her view, it’s all part of “worshipping a weird kind of ugly looking idol.”

At first, Kanika told her mother not to wake her, but in the middle of the night she changed her mind. This would not be a battle she would take on. “I realized I should go with my mom and witness what people do and pray for them.” She secretly told the idols: “‘Okay, people worship you, but you are not God.’”

It had been a long time since Kanika had gone to temple with her family. She stopped practicing in the midst of her conversion. Jo Jo gave her a Bible, took her to his church, the Delhi Bible Fellowship, and introduced her to more Christian friends. When her parents caught on, they limited her contact with her Christian friends. When they found her Bible and a notebook filled with letters from Kanika to God, they threw them away. “It is a difficult thing because you cannot share with them, and they will not even listen to you.” Kanika was saddened, but not deterred.

Kanika’s parents want her to marry a Hindu from her caste, or social designation, the Marwaris, known as business people or shopkeepers. She can choose a man who fits those criteria or they will choose a husband for her. “I do not want to hurt my parents by going against them but I have been praying about it because I want to get married to a believer.” It’s a dilemma, but Kanika is turning to prayer for an answer.

Kanika’s family is devout. Her grandmother attends temple everyday for at least two hours. Her parents go every Tuesday, at the least. They also worship in a special room in their home, filled with images and statues of gods. Before every meal, they take some food to the temple as an offering.

“They would definitely disown me if they knew I was a Christian, ” Kanika said. There are struggles ahead, on both a daily level — whether to appease her parents by going through the motions of Hindu worship — and on a more monumental level — how to marry a Christian of her choosing. Kanika is calm though. “I strongly believe that if you believe in Christ you do not need anybody to depend on…ever. Yeah, he’s our best friend, he’s our first love.”

About the photo: One of Kanika’s fellow Christian converts at the coffee shop who attends the same Bible study group with Kanika.

Emily FrostEmily Frost is a radio reporter and online journalist. She is an Annenberg Fellow at USC’s Annenberg Graduate School for Journalism and an executive producer and host at Annenberg Radio News.

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Courageous. But I think it could be better to say "You are not my God." If she wants to heal the divide with her family, she could accept them for their beliefs, or they may not be as ready to accept her for hers.. maybe she has, though, I don't know.

A nice story : )

I find it interesting that while the reporter covered incidents of Christians facing violence in India, she did not mention anything about how missionary activities by evangelical Christians have (at times) negatively impacted Indian society and culture. Nonetheless, interesting post. Thank you for posting!

I am an Indian who lives in the midwest nowadays.  Hudson's comment, however, does not take into account the way Indians are. Kanika's conversion would never be accepted. Her views would never be accepted. I know of these things from experience-  I converted to Christianity as a undergrad at the Univ of Michigan, my Indian parents and the extended family totally disowned me. I have had no contact whatsoever with my family since 1993. And, supposedly, I was a valued member of the family!!!!!

That's quite a different perspective then the one my family has! I guess Indian culture can be so fixed as to have those kind of things never be reconciled.

our prayers are with you. you have much greater family now.

Your family still loves you and will regret disowning you because after all most people live in fear of what others may think . I'm sure they want to reach you but don't know how. That's my opion anyway.

"Kanika is turning to prayer for an answer." This is so profoundly sad. Prayer and meditation may help to bring calm and focus to the mind, but to throw your hands up and rely on some "higher power" for rescue is tragic. As a now-atheist raised in a family of Evangelicals, I can relate to being shunned by your family because of your new beliefs.

Some may say its profoundly sad that "you" don't pray to a higher power! You contradicted yourself , you say you can relate to her story by being shunned for her beliefs yet you start your coment out by saying its sad that she prays to a higher power, then you go on my pushing your own beliefs by saying that medatation is a better way and gaining clarity of mind is far better , in other word. So tell me how is that any diffrent than what your family did to you and what's going on with this lady on this blog? I'm neither believer or a non believer in the divine so I'm not trying to insult you I'm just trying to show you another side. And forgive me for saying so but I don't think in your heart you are a atheist I think your family may have wronged you to a point were you wouldn't wanna believe what they do because maybe how they are or for what they have done to you so believing in the absence of god is your way of getting back at them . And I'm saying this because of type of feeling I got from reading your statement. Take care.

This young woman's story strikes a strong cord with our mythology in the US. It's the story of the child leaving tradition behind and striking out for something new and seemingly better. The Little Mermaid is one of the best examples I can think of. People who are better read surely can think of more. Lack of understanding of religions, of our own and others, is also at the heart of this story.

Dear kanika,
Messiah himself said in book of Mathew 10:35-39 For I have come to set a man against his father, and a daughter against her mother, and a daughter-in-law against her mother-in-law. 36 And a person’s enemies will be those of his own household. 37 v
Whoever loves father or mother more than me is not worthy of me, and whoever loves son or daughter more than me is not worthy of me. 38 And whoever does not take his cross and follow me is not worthy of me. 39 Whoever finds his life will lose it, and whoever loses his life for my sake will find it.
Dear Kanika Shalom of Abba Yahuah and Love of Messiah be with your heart.

Great article Emily! I'm happy to have the opportunity to pray for Kanika. May The Lord Jesus continue to protect her all the days of her life and grant her the desires of her heart. That she may lead by example and continue to allow Jesus to work through her by reading the Word daily and prayer. In Jesus name, Amen.

Jesus said: Except a man hate his mother, father, brother and sister he cannot be my disciple. This means that our Creator's call to acknowledge Him as the one and only way of salvation takes presidence over loyalty to famiy.This is right, because Jesus, God's Son, so loved us that he was willing to leave his position and priviledge with his Father in heaven and dwell here on earth in flesh in order to show us the true and only God and provide eternal life. He did this and suffered the pain and humiliation of death on the cross because of his unfathomably great love for us. Kanika, by holding strong to her faith in Christ and not compromising will show this higher form of love to her family have the best chance of spending eternal life with them, because they will have the opportunity to know the truth also and come to know the true God and his love for them.

If Jesus is the protector of all,then before jesus comes to earth who was the protector of all?

It's a story from darkness to light.God will answere when we trust him.Jesus has plans beyond human knowledge to rescue us to do his will.even I come from a Hindu background but God helped me to accept him as my saviour and my best friend. Don't loose hope God will help you.

dude but jesus died 1980 years he gonna come back from dead ? its really disturbing to see so many gullible,religious bigots even after so many scientific advancement.

The Christians are out here in the hordes. These religion practitioners scare me to death...more than any ugly looking idol.

How can he come back. Even current day christians are continuously nailing him in a cross and worshipping him..Let them set him free so that he can come and resue ...but he has already told several principles but sadly were destroyed and rejected ironically by the church.. He was a great and supreme prophet who learnt values from the east and wanted to correct the barbarians in the west ....... Christianity was nowhere till emperor Constantine made the religion powerful...... Many gospels which were directly from Jesus and his disciples were destroyed by the church itself..... everything is controlled by the church.... missionaries are given huge sum .....

I hate your fellow christians to lure gullible young hindus into conversion.. can christianity survive without its mean and on the sly activiites..

You forget the hatred and divide that Christians bring along with them and use any means to convert people, whether it is by assimilating Native beliefs or forcing Christianity on them. Something for you to realize and wonder why no one talks about this:

The National Liberation Front of Tripura (NLFT), a rebel group operating in Tripura, North-East India, has been described as engaging in terrorist violence motivated by their Christian beliefs. The NLFT is currently proscribed as a terrorist organization in India. It is classified by the National Memorial Institute for the Prevention of Terrorism as one of the ten most active terrorist groups in the world, and has been accused of forcefully converting people to Christianity.

The insurgency in Nagaland was originally led by the National Socialist Council of Nagaland (NSCN), and it is continued today by a faction named "NSCN–Isaac Muivah", which explicitly calls for a "Nagalim for Christ". The state government reports that the Baptist Church of Tripura supplies arms and gives financial support to the NLFT.

In April 2000, the secretary of the Noapara Baptist Church in Tripura, Nagmanlal Halam, was arrested with a large quantity of explosives. He confessed to illegally buying and supplying explosives to the NLFT for two years. The NLFT has threatened to kill Hindus celebrating the annual five-day religious festival of Durga Puja and other religious celebrations. At least 20 Hindus in Tripura have been killed by the NLFT in two years for resisting forced conversion to Christianity. A leader of the Jamatia tribe, Rampada Jamatia, said that armed NLFT militants were forcibly converting tribal villagers to Christianity, which he said was a serious threat to Hinduism. It is believed that up to 5,000 tribal villagers were converted to Christianity by the NLFT in two years.

These forcible conversions to Christianity, sometimes including the use of "rape as a means of intimidation," have also been noted by academics outside of India.

please read the book by rajiv malhotra "BEING DIFFERENT " to undersatnd vedic culture or attend to innerawakening in vedic temples spreading all over the USA by lifeblissfoundation.etc I promise you what those green pastures who saw vedic culture raise can give, a barren desert who saw an authoritarain religion can never give

Oh really? What happens to the soul when you die?? It's all crap talking. Religion is over rated, and Hinduism is not a religion, it's a way of life. Missionaries in India are involved in all kind of sex scandals(This is true for rest of the world also). They will lure poor with money and after conversion they won't help them.

Emily this is a shameless writing by equating hinduism to worshipping snakes. The god in vedic religion is defined as per neti neti

Is moon a god? Answer : Neti neti English no its not
Is sun a god? Answer : Neti neti English no its not
Is snake a god? Answer : Neti neti English no its not
Is mountain a god? Answer : Neti neti English no its not
Is river a god? Answer : Neti neti English no its not
Is krishna a god? Answer : Neti neti English no its not
Is any human a god? Answer : Neti neti English no its not
Is jesus a god? neti neti

God is beyond human senses.

Christians also dont understand why Hindus will never adopt islam and christianity. Hindus are original pagan or worshipper of god Indr or Paarjanya the god of Indo europeans the people who occupy northern hemisphere from ireland to india and from same gene pool. The traditional enemy of Indo european people were Asurs or arabs as in Syria/assyria. Islam and christianity are Asur religions. The trademark quality of Asur population is using lies in life.

It is sad part of history that most of europeans were converted to christianity using sword. Thats why more and more whites are realising the violent past and returning to life of reason and atheism.

This girl is ignorant and her friend used her ignorance to convert her. But soon she will read more about religion and will dump brainwashing and return to life of reason.

So you are saying Hinduism is a racist religion which says people from Syria /Assyria according to you assur are evil.Then i suggest you should find a new path my friend.Peace.

Asur does not necessarily mean evil. It means they are not gods(Sur). And Hinduism is not what your church tells you it is.

Religion is a way of discipline and worship of a power that surpasses human. If educated youth were to become staunch, then there is something really worrisome. Kanika is doing exactly what her parents are doing by not participating in Hindu customs or denying any affinity to them.

HI Kanika. Myself Hareesh. Hope you will read this also. I am writing comment here because I find no other way to contact you. See its up to you to follow any religion. Because every where its the same god molded in different forms. No one can say their god is the powerful one others are less powerful because there exists only one. You remember story of blind guys describing an elephant. Its the same we describe about god. But the truth is its beyond description. I got to know tht you best friend jo jos conversation made you to think about the christianity about after life and all. What does it differ if u die as a christian or a muslim or a hindhu? After death as far as I know there is no religion at all every soul is taken care of according to the karma they hav gone through. According to me, its good to know about every relegion.We can see different perspective for a better understanding. You are a Hindhu and ur family members are orthodox too. But hav you ever try to understand what is the real concept of hindhuism. If not, try it. and as one of our great guru has said If you have lost faith in the religion even for a second then do not wait for even a second to get converted. Hope you will have a good future. God Bless You.

this girl is really so stupid

People who like hinduism, don't have to convert and there not missionaries going around to get you to convert. Ofcourse, there are bad people in every religion.

Converting gullible people from other religion ? is this what christianity is ? pathetic

Gullible.... you call them that only when they want to accept Christ. Christ, the person, gives us eternal life and a relationship with God. Understanding life on earth in the fallen state (crimes, confusion and lack of hope) and then finding peace and hope in Christ is an amazing experience.

This is exactly the problem here!!!!! As a good friend kanika's friend should've helped her find happiness by living life, acquiring knowledge a new language,musical instrument, dance anything and asking her to read the Vedas instead of shoving her beliefs down an ignorant person's throat. I have christian friends protestants and Catholics both; we live and let live!! If there's ever any spiritual dilemma we,encourage each other to read up/find answers by reading our respective scriptures. We don't take advantage and act like conniving conversion-ists pushing our beliefs forcefully down each others throats. Grow up man.

61 christian countries.
2 world wars.

Because Jesus is the Savior?
Helps you find peace?

Does Kanika know that jesus visted India (puri) learnt sanskrit & studied the vedas . Jesus never told anything about the concept of god, he was misquoted by st.peter.

I think if Kanika wants to find God thru believing Christ let her be so, there is no harm in believing Christ since in Hinduism we believe 'All Paths Lead to God', even if she converts she will never cease to be a hindu because the essence of culture and hindu philosophy is embedded in her thru generations. It is sad that her friend asked her to convert, the one tells to extinguish family traditions can never be a friend.
Anyways she will one day realize that Hinduism is more than a religion, it is path which can lead you to God and that is possible in this very life. She need to not die to see God.

God is Not Proprietary to any Religion. Christians uses Idols in their worship. Ask any Christian to spit on the Bible or statue of the Cross or Joseph or Mary etc.

Emily- I changed my faith from hinduism to an adventist christian in Gaziabad(U.P) last year in october. I along with my wife and 5 year old son was disowned by my parents, not only they did that they also published the reason of disowning in 2 national newspapers of india. I had to move out of the house and the area of gaziabad to escape pulic comments and public humiliation. I was tracked down by bajrang dal in kanpur and beaten by their extremist goons, they threatened to burn us alive if I do not convert back in hinduism again. Police in Kanpur(Fazal Ganz police station) refused to act upon our written complaint due to bajrang dal's name in the report. My wife's office was also tracked down by them, we spent lot of time hiding at different places just because I changed my faith. My pregnant wife had to go through the mental trauma and we were afraid of our life there. New Delhi is not what it is projected as very liberal and safe place in India. It is the most dangerous and unsafe place in india. Southern india is also not a safe place for christian due to their goverments anti- conversion rules which is often abused by these extremist group with the assistance of goverment elements. I had to move my pregnant wife, son to Illinois in U.S to escape another attack. We had to sacrifice everything including our established careers. But I'm not going back to hinduism again and accepted jesus as my saviour. It is my personal choice and it should have been respected in India which unfortunately was not. I love my country but extremist group like bajrang dal due to their alliance in politics do whatever they do on the streets in the name of religion and no one control them.

Had you studied Hinduism properly before embracing Adventist sect of Christianity?

praise though lord Mr.Sanjay , for protecting you and your family..even though the banjrangdal people threatened to kill, you have not denied jesus...Please do forgive those peopl who tried to harm you and your family for they probably did not know what they were doing..your faith in god is amazing..let it live on..

Dear, I think you belong to Uttarakhand,

GOD ALMIGHTY will honor your your faith and as you are standing firmly with the LIVING JESUS, now the count the troubles, but wait how you are going to be blessed and honoured in the days ahead in multiplied blessings! If you became an atheists, or joined any political party of your choice, nobody will bother you. But, when you began to follow the PRINCE OF PEACE and GOD OF LOVE, you are persecuted. You are in my prayers, likewise many are praying with you.

This is a brave women, that is strong minded and strong willed and I say this because you have to believe quit a Bit in yourself to go tottaly against 82% of your country and all of your familys religous beliefs and believing in ones self is the key to sucees because so many people are conflicted. But I say make your stand in life so you may have a seat with the lord in heaven.

the quest.asked was if kanika know what happens to the soul after death. if she had studied hindu scriptures she would of been able to understand and give the most logical answer as compared to any other religion. but alot of hindus are converting like in this case out of mere ignorance.

What Kanika is seeking in God is the personal relationship which many Hindu bhaktimarg devotees did and have gone on doing for centuries and what Hare Krishna panth does. she, however must be a girl going to a convent and so enamoured by superior status given to Christianity there.There is scope for prayers and simple prayers in Hinduism as well. It is strange that her family has not understood the need of many young minds. One does not need Christianity for that asthe need is more psychological than religious.

I don't think this article contain any truth in it. First of all Hinduism explain after death better than Christianity. Hell and Heaven are just Myths. Hindus believe in reincarnation which is the most acceptable where as heaven and hell make no sense because if a person born in a religion whether Islam or Hinduism it's not their fault that they continue that religion , By telling those who do not believe in Jesus will go to hell is a kind of diminishing Christianity it self. Most importantly even five year old Hindus know that Adam and Eve never existed we are formed by evolution and hence Christianity is a lie. This kind of articles create more hatred against Christianity and hence it will go against the Author wish to convert more , so i urge the author not to publish this kind of rubbishes any more

Does this ignorant person know why we Hindus worship?

Hindus dont worship idols, it is an act of symbolism. Christians also respect Crucifix was it made from the real one from which Jesus was hanged? No, it is act of symbolism, if you say why Hindus worship idold? then we can also say why do you respect and worship two combined sticks?

Beautiful story.Well written and can be related to very nicely.

We Hindus don't worship trees, rivers, animals or idols. The definition of worship in Hinduism is the recitation of the holy texts, now me may recite those texts infront of idols, or trees, or rivers or any other place we find spiritual. Can anyone show me any verse from any Hindu text which says "idols / animals / trees are considered God"? Let me post a few verses from the Bhagavad Geeta to make it simple what we mean by God. The Supreme Personality of Godhead - Lord Krishna said in the Bhagavad Geeta :

Bhagavad Gita 7:4 - "Earth, water, fire, air, ether, mind, intelligence and false ego(space) —all together these eight constitute My separated material energies."

Bhagavad Gita 7:6 - "All created beings have their source in these two natures. Of all that is material and all that is spiritual in this world, know for certain that I am both the origin and the dissolution."

Bhagavad Gita 7:7 - "O conqueror of wealth, there is no truth superior to Me. Everything rests upon Me, as pearls are strung on a thread."

Bhagavad Gita 7:8 - "O son of Koonté, I am the taste of water, the light of the sun and the moon, the syllable OM in the Vedic mantras; I am the sound in ether and ability in man."

Bhagavad Gita 7:9 - "I am the original fragrance of the earth, and I am the heat in fire. I am the life of all that lives, and I am the penances of all ascetics."

Bhagavad Gita 7:10 - "O son of Pårthä, know that I am the original seed of all existences, the intelligence of the intelligent, and the prowess of all powerful men."

Bhagavad Gita 7:11 - "I am the strength of the strong, devoid of passion and desire. I am sex life which is not contrary to religious principles, O lord of the Bhäratas [Arjuna]."
Bhagavad Gita 7:12 - "Know that all states of being—be they of goodness, passion or ignorance—are manifested by My energy. I am, in one sense, everything, but I am independent. I am not under the modes of material nature, for they, on the contrary, are within Me."

7:15 – “Those miscreants who are grossly foolish, who are lowest among mankind, whose knowledge is stolen by illusion, and who partake of the atheistic nature of demons do not surrender unto Me.”

9:4 – “By Me, in My unmanifested form, this entire universe is pervaded. All beings are in Me, but I am not in them.”

9:8 – “The whole cosmic order is under Me. Under My will it is automatically manifested again and again, and under My will it is annihilated at the end.”

9:17 – “I am the father of this universe, the mother, the support and the grandsire. I am the object of knowledge, the purifier and the syllable OM. I am also the Rig, the Säma and the Yajur Vedas.”

9:18 – “I am the goal, the sustainer, the master, the witness, the abode, the refuge, and the most dear friend. I am the creation and the annihilation, the basis of everything, the resting place and the eternal seed.”

9:19 – “O Arjuna, I give heat, and I withhold and send forth the rain. I am immortality, and I am also death personified. Both spirit and matter are in Me.”

Can u prove that beef is strictly prohibited in Hindu religion?
But already i found that the ancient hindus were eat beef. and its alredy proved in many books, u can search in google......

Well I suppose christianity is the biggest bane to ever come to the world. these were the same group of people that threatened to burn scientists who said the earth was round. The same who would go on to kill millions on the name of religion. And yet here they are with their statements saying Christians face prosecution ( totally untrue ) this is also the religion which says that once you are with a woman .you are deemed impure because woman was sent to slow down man . So think for yourself my dear man and woman. Where do you want to Be . In a religion which deems your mothers and sisters as sinners put where they are worshiped like the queens that they are " Sri Rama Krishna para maHamsa

Wow! Such a great way of thief calling another person thief. I was a Christian once. Please educate me on the troubling topics:
* Why did Abraham sleep with his daughters.
* Why won't God heal amputees?
* If God is omnipotent (all-powerful), why did he take six days to create everything? Why not speak everything into existence all at once?
* Can god make a rock so big that he can’t lift it?
* Why does God demand the death of so many innocent people in the Bible? - Exodus 35:2 – God demands that we kill everyone who works on the Sabbath day.
- Deuteronomy 21:18-21 – God demands that we kill disobedient teenagers.

- Leviticus 20:13 – God demands the death of homosexuals.

- Deuteronomy 22:13-21 – God demands that we kill girls who are not virgins when they marry.
* If human evils must be allowed so that we can have free will, why did God also create natural evils, like floods and disease?
* Some Christians pray to Jesus in the hope that he will intercede with God. Does this make sense if Jesus and God are the same person?
* God did not create the world in 6 days 6,000 years ago like the Bible says.
How did Noah fit the millions and millions of species on this planet into his ark?
Why is God such a huge proponent of slavery in the Bible?
Why would Jesus want you to eat his body and drink his blood?
What about people who have never heard even the name of Jesus?
If God sometimes interferes in human events, why didn’t he either prevent the Holocaust or arrange for it to end sooner?
If God told you to kill a child, would you do it? If God told someone else to kill a child, would you interfere?
If you believe homosexuality is wrong, would you encourage Christian girls to marry gay men and end their lives of sin?
Why did Christians kill people, enslave and murder blacks and others, invade Muslim countries.etc.?

If you are able, post a refutation to them here on your website.