Two days ago I came back from Medjugorje. My last stop was in Split – a beautiful city (second biggest in Croatia) on the coast. Wondering the street at the dawn I couldn’t stop noticing the posters advertising Yoga. I was even more puzzled as few days ago, on my trip to Medjugorje from Split I met a young lady who was (as she described herself) a ‘nun’ in the Bhakti Marga community – a community of Guru Sri Swami Vishwenanda. Her main purpose to visit Split was to assist the ‘guru’.
I was really puzzled – such a concentration of Hinduism in Roman Catholic Croatia. I checked the latest data about the religion in Croatia – yep, still Catholic (88%), then Orthodox, then Atheism or Agnostism and the others. Well, it doesn’t say Hindu to my knowledge. What is really going on here ? Why that confusion ?
I was amazed to discover so many yoga centers in Croatia, enough to check Wikipedia.
It also says that : “a Croat-Indian Society set up in June 1994 has been active in organizing social and cultural events including classical dance performances, animation films based on Indian mythology, various documentaries on India and its traditions. An Agreement of Cooperation was signed between the Diplomatic Academy of Croatia and the Foreign Service Institute (FSI) of the Ministry of External Affairs, New Delhi in January 2000. Seven Croatian diplomats have attended the Professional Course for Foreign Diplomats (PCFD) at FSI, New Delhi. Shri Santosh Kumar, Secretary & Dean (FSI) attended the conference of Deans at Dubrovnik, Croatia, on 29-30 September 2003.”
One videos on YouTube are quite revealing: for example Hindu Converts In Rjeka
People are in spiritual search but their search is not genuine. There is luck of fundamental knowledge about Eastern Religions. And there is lots of manipulation creating confusion.
Let’s take the case of the mention guru Sri Swami Vishwenanda and its Bhakti Marga Yoga community. In Hinduism Bhakti is a term for religious devotion, understood as active involvement of a devotee in divine worship. Bhakti Yoga is described by Swami Vivekananda (we already talked about him – he was the instrumental person in bringing yoga to the West) as "the path of systematized devotion for the attainment of union with the Absolute".
The discussion I had with my befriended “follower” was about God, their beliefs, devotion, purpose, meaning, love, etc. I found it really confusing as she stressed that their belief is a combination of Orthodox Christianity with Hinduism (even though when you look at their website is a pure Hinduism with few icons of Our Lady). They have a votive chapel with relicts but she couldn’t name any saints of who the relicts belong to. To my amazement she knew very well some readings of Saint Teresa of Avila (Interior Castle – she explained that Seven Mansions were like seven chakras) or Saint Margaret Mary Alacoque and The Sacret Heart of Jesus (omitting that the visions were about a form of the devotion, the chief features being reception of Holy Communion on the First Friday Devotions of each month, the Eucharistic adoration during the Holy Hour on Thursdays, and the celebration of the Feast of the Sacred Heart).
It did not surprise me at all, when asked how this all started for her, she named yoga and reiki as initial practices. I will repeat my mantra but those practices are like open door to different reality. Not mentioning that they can take you for a real magic trip where devil will start to do his work. I repeat after Father Amorth: those practices may lead to possession and some supernatural experiences are already a serious warning. And to my sad surprise my befriended “follower” did experience some of them.
I don’t know that community well enough but all that she told me seem to me a mishmash of Hinduism and Christianity (the second one being more for familiarity and smoother conversion of the Westerners).
There is a great post from South Africa about the dangers of that Community and its leader.
Many facts are presented, among them one that is a clear sacrilege:
“Swami Vishwananda was recently indicted in Switzerland for stealing relics from a church. He explained this behavior to some brahmacharis by stating that “Jesus told him to do it” and that it was not wrong because he did not profit from stealing the relics, i.e. he did not resell them to anyone so it was OK. Swami has on occasion actually worn costumes, dressed as an orthodox priest, to gain entry into churches in an effort to acquire relics. It is well-known that Swami frequently visits churches in France and other countries in search of relics. Why is this such a passion for him? Is it possible that he gets power through the relics? Why else would it be important enough for him to have that he is willing to face prosecution for acting illegally?
On Obedience (my acquaintance did mention something like that)
“Whenever something is asked from me or me through an appointed person, it has to be done without delay. If it comes from me directly, it has to be done without thinking about it and without asking questions.” – Swami Vishwananda.
Sounds to me like a sect! How come those things can exist and flourish in any country, helas in Catholic country is a mystery … or the work of evil!
My trip left me perplexed about the state of our faith in one of most Catholic countries in Europe – Croatia. Someone told me once that New Age will enter the religious countries via false mysticism and false spirituality – the ground is there, it just needs some adjustments.
I will pray for my befriended “follower” that her heart turns into the real truth and light. May Our Lady of Medjugorje protects her and guides her to Our Lord, Jesus Christ (a real one, not a manifestation of supreme Brahman).
And anyone involved I fully recommend a book: A death of a Guru - The story of Rabi Maharaj