Sunday, December 11, 2011

Jesus and Muhammad together, with Lord Rama and Guru Nanak, in a wonderful temple in Bagsu, India!

i was walking down a street in Bagsu, India, near McLeod Ganj, one evening in late 2008, when i looked through the window of a temple and saw something that intrigued me: 

The glimpse that got my attention.
Through the decorously gated window it appeared to be a a statue of someone being crucified. This was a very Hindu part of India and i had never heard of anyone in Hinduism being crucified (only the Romans did that!) so i was very curious. i went inside and found that there among all of the other expected Hindu images and icons, there was in fact a crucifixion.

The priest of the temple soon came out and welcomed me, but he spoke very little English. i tried to ask him if the person being crucified was Jesus. He said no, it was not "Jesus," but someone with another name that i failed to understand well enough to record. He told me that this was someone from something called the "why wool" (spelled phonetically to what he was saying.) So i thanked him, left a donation, and went home to my hotel. That night as i was falling asleep, i shot up in bed and yelled, "The Bible!"

In his Hindi accent this priest was saying "wiwool" for "Bible." So i went back the next day and searched around the temple for the priest. i eventually found him down a small tunnel that you had to crawl through the mouth of a lion to enter. He was sitting at a shrine of three Hindu saints. i sat patiently while he told me about all three of these saints, in a story full of long names and complicated contexts. Then begged him to go back downstairs with me so i could look around more there. What i found there was shocking to me and amazes me still.

In the Vashnu Mata temple, Bagsu, India
This Hindu temple, in addition to all of its normal Hindu parts, had a section reserved to the celebration of four different religions' major figures. He confirmed for that "wiwool" was actually Bible!! It was Jesus, and he was right there next to Muhammad!!:-) 

Jesus Christ and Prophet Muhammad

There they were, representations of Christianity and Islam, celebrated together in a temple built for peace and sanctity. i loved it, it felt wonderful and amazing to find and i am thrilled by its existence even still.

Across from them were celebrations of Hinduism, represented by Lord Rama (who corresponds roughly to "the Son" in the Christian trinity), and the Sikh religion, represented by their founder, Guru Nanak - a wonderful teacher who combined the Muslim and Hindu religions saying, "Ne ka mussulman, ne ka hindi," "there is no Muslim, there is no Hindu," and put the two together harmoniously in a new, peaceful tradition (later militarized by future generations of his followers, as tends to happen). 

Lord Rama and Guru Nanak
i was super excited by all of this and returned to this temple a couple of times more. i found it was a great atmosphere to relax and meditate.

At that time the priest told me, or so i thought, that this was a copy of a much larger temple just like it in Amritsar, India. So a year later, when i returned to India, i added Amritsar, in Punjab, to my itinerary.
i found the Sikh people there to be amazingly accommodating and helpful to us as foreigners.

 i made phone calls back to Bagsu as i realized i'd never learned the name of this temple when i was there. i was going to be there later in the trip but not until after Amritsar. i called the hotel where i had stayed the year before, Hotel Bagsu View (good, cheap, no frills, a little bit out of the way for events in McLeod Ganj). Luckily, they were helpful: Vashnu Mata Temple, there in Bagsu, that was apparently what that wonderful temple was called. They didn't know anything about one it having been copied after another temple but they got me the phone number of the owner of the temple for me.

i got the owner's wife on the phone but she didn't speak much English. So i recruited one of my new turbaned friends to get on the phone and translate for me. (You can always recognize Sikhs, as opposed to Muslims or Hindus or others, by their turbans which, traditionally, they are to always wear.)
A view of a street in Amritsar where we can see a mix of Sikh, Muslim and Hindu people, the Sikh men recognizable by their turbans.
She told me that she did not know of the temple being copied after any other temple, that theirs was a private temple. Then she was not very talkative beyond that, apparently. So i did not find the original, larger temple in Amritsar that the priest in Bagsu had told me about, and i'm not entirely sure whether it exists. (As a consolation though i did get to see the Golden Temple of the Sikhs there in Amritsar, and that was quite beautiful and impressive.)
Golden Temple, in Amritsar, Punjab, India
i did make it back to this wonderful temple once more that year. i brought a print out of this photo of the priest in his shrine to give to him, but i was in a hurry the day i was there and could not find him, so i left the print at the shrine in the photo with a note on the back saying hello and reminding him of my visit the year before.
The priest tending to his shrine on my first visit to the temple.
i have not yet succeeded in learning anything else about this temple but it holds a special place in my heart and gives hope to my soul and my self. Here are some more images of it here below.

But, first an image in homage of my favorite episode of one of my favorite TV shows, Super Best Friends (episode #201), by South Park. Here we see the founders of 6 religions (plus one ridiculous one created by South Park) hanging out together as super heroes with everybody's buddy, Stan. (Moses, not pictured, also appeared in the episode as one of the Super Best Friends.) From right to left, Lord Rama of Hinduism, Lao Tzu of Taoism, Joseph Smith of the Mormons, Jesus of Christianity, Muhammad of Islam, Buddha, and Sea Man.)

Yaay Super Best Friends!!:-)
Image from South Park Episode 201, Super Best Friends (episode 6, season 14) (Image widely available  in google images, i chose the copy from this site)

The entrance of the Vashnu Mata temple in Bagsu, the night i first saw it

Shiva lingum fertility shrine in the temple

Hanuman, King of the Monkeys and servant of Krishna, proving faith really can move mountains (centuries before Jesus started talking about it)

Krishna playing the flute

The meditation and prayer area
The entrance in daylight

OM and Shiva's trident on the roof of the temple
All photos by the author, except for the South Park one, which i found here.


  1. The top picture of Lord Rama and Guru Nanak. Not Lord Shiva and Guru Nanak

    1. Namaste! Yes, actually you are right, i had it confirmed by the priest there. Thank you for pointing it out, and i will correct the blog where i can:-)

  2. Pretty much speaks for the secularism in India. Beautiful!

  3. Thanks to sharing this post its all information is really helpful for me and other users.

    Ayahuasca Ceremony

  4. Thanks to share this post its all information is really very nice and useful for me and all users.

    Ayahuasca Retreat Review

  5. Wow...this makes me feel so good for some strange reason. I have a fascination with India & this only increases my respect for that ancient land.


Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...