David comes from India, and he lives there. He used to be a Hindu, like most people in his country. After many sorrows, he eventually became an Orthodox Christian. By his devout faith, he can set an example for many of us in Belarus, where Orthodoxy is a lot more common. Imagine having to travel 1000 kilometres to take communion!
In the spring and autumn of 2019, David attended the worship services at our Convent. He was coming with Ksenia, a young Belarusian woman. They met a year ago. They had been talking over Skype for one year before David came to Belarus. Three months later, they married. They had their church wedding on 24 November in Pinsk, Ksenia’s hometown, at the church of Saints Peter and Fevronia.
We asked David to tell us how he found God and the joy of being an Orthodox Christian.
The Indians and the Hindus
We call the inhabitants of India Indians, and we refer to the followers of Hinduism as Hindus. The people in my country are proud to be Hindus, and I am proud to be an Orthodox Christian. They just do not know of Orthodox Christianity, the best religion in the world.
My spiritual father taught me to practise Orthodoxy, and also to be an Orthodox in daily life. I am still asking God in my prayers to help me follow his advice.
The choice of career
My grandfather and father wanted me to become a doctor. I wished the same. At senior school, I selected the requisite subjects to prepare for entry to a medical university. In India, competition for admission to medical universities is high. It is particularly tense for members of the higher castes – unlike their peers from the lower castes, they have no privileges. I belong to one of India’s highest castes, so my family suggested that I apply to a medical university in Europe, rather than risk my application being turned down in India. Please note that do not divide people into castes, I see all people as equal because they are of God. I entered university soon after the collapse of the Soviet Union. I studied in Ukraine. I spent a year learning Russian in Odessa before becoming a student at Lugansk Medical University.
On my way to becoming an Orthodox Christian, I had sorrows. My family was going through a difficult time then.
I flew into Lysychansk, Ukraine, and checked into a hotel. I was still a Hindu. As I was praying in my room, I heard the bell in a nearby Orthodox church. I could not resist going there.
I walked in, kissed the icons and cried. A priest saw me, and out meeting with him was providential. He told me about the faith and the worship after the service.
God loved me so much that He gave me the wisdom to make up my mind and take a step towards my salvation by accepting baptism. It was in 2014, right before the feast of the Nativity. The church had been nicely decorated, and it felt so good there that I did not hesitate at all. For several days before my baptism, I came to my would-be spiritual father for talks about the foundations of the faith. I am sure the blessing for my baptism comes from the Lord, for it would not have been possible for me, a sinner, to take this decision by myself.
The spiritual father
My spiritual father is Father Igor, and he is a priest at the Church of Saint Mitrophan in Lysychansk, Ukraine. He is a man of great goodness and wisdom. I feel blessed to be his spiritual child. Father Igor have his blessing for this interview with you. He helped me a lot in my sorrows. Even when I went back to India, our communication continued, and he supported me in my spiritual growth.
An Orthodox Christian in India
Before I flew to India from Ukraine, Father Igor found out about an Orthodox church at the Russian embassy in New Delhi. I became its parishioner. Back then, a priest would come to that church for celebrations of the great feasts.
Most of the parishioners came from the former Soviet Union. The majority were the women who were working at foreign diplomatic missions are running businesses in India. Some had married in India and were bringing their husbands along. God heard our prayers, and eventually, we had a permanent priest, father Dmitry.
I live 1000 kilometres from New Delhi, and I travel to the capital on great feasts to take communion. In 2019, I took communion on the Feasts of the Nativity, the Baptism of Christ and the Pascha. With God’s help, I took communion as many as three times during the Paschal holidays. I always wish to partake in the Holy Sacraments more often.
In my church, all services are in Church Slavonic. I like Church Slavonic. To me, it sounds very spiritual. I pray in Church Slavonic at home, too. That way, I feel much closer to God.
Faith and the practice of medicine
Any practising doctor will have difficult cases when they do not know which treatment to select or which diagnosis to make. When this happens to me, I pray to God and ask Him to give me the wisdom to make the right decision.
Before my conversion to Orthodox Christianity, I was giving a lot of priority to making money. Today, I focus more on fulfilling God’s commandments. My spiritual father told me that while money was important, I must be merciful to my patients and be conscious of their ability to pay for their treatment. If they could not afford the care, I should always make accommodations to treat everyone who needs it but cannot afford to pay.
I start my day at work with a prayer. I pray to the Lord Jesus Christ and the Holy Theotokos. I say the prayer of the Optina elders and personal prayer that I put together myself.
I have icons in my office, and I carry some in my pocket close to my heart. A note in the middle of my table says: “Leave your life of sin”.
In my bedroom, I keep a poster from my spiritual father who drew for me a schematic list of the sins. When we sin, we breach the Lord’s commandments. As an Orthodox, I make a point of never being idle. I have stopped watching sequels on television. I still watch the news in my free time, but I do it rarely. On the Internet, I give preference to Orthodox web sites and channels.
I make a special effort to keep the fast. I have been fasting voluntarily every Wednesday and Friday for three years, and all the fasting periods.
Our sorrows and illnesses are our reminders that God exists and we must listen to Him and fulfil His commandments. In the Gospel, Christ healed a woman caught in adultery saying: “Then neither do I condemn you. Go now and leave your life of sin.” (John 8:11).
Faith and career
In India, I have built a successful career. I began as a doctor in a district-level city, and I have advanced, with God’s help, to chief regional narcologist. I am holding management positions in the Forensics Division and the Division for the monitoring of medical staff salaries. I have my clinic, and I am the only practising narcologist in my region. There is great potential for my continued career growth in India, but I can only travel to the church in New Delhi on my rare holidays. I am prepared to move to Belarus, so I continue to discover the Orthodox faith, take communion more often and come to church at least once a week. It is a great joy to live in a country with so many churches, where the choirs sing so beautifully, and the prayer never stops.
Translated by The Catalogue of Good Deeds