To the Hindu who sees not the person but the characteristics and deeds, Mother Teresa, although a Catholic missionary, is regarded as "a saint" among the Hindu pantheon of saints. For to the Hindu, it is not the "idol or statuettes" of gods and goddesses that matter, but the characteristics and deeds they represent. Brahma is acknowledged as the source of creation, Vishnu as that of preservation and Shiva as annihilation; yet, they are one and the same. The form is of little consequence in comparison to the significance of the function which they perform. In fact, to Hindus, there is no distinction between one 'form' and the other.
Volumes have been recorded about Mother Teresa, whose mission took her to the predominantly Hindu land, India, where she not only served the poor and sick but collected Hindu and Muslim converts for Christianity. This act of conversion she did not deny even to her dying day, September 5. Yet, Hindus in India and most parts of the world openly express their adoration for her; and now, non-Hindus ask, how could this be? And the Hindu, as is noted in Trinidad where they worship La Divina Pastora as Soparee Mai at the Roman Catholic Church in Siparia, is perplexed at this 'bewilderment' being expressed by non-Hindus.
It becomes clear then, that while there is no doubt that many, perhaps even thousands, of Hindus were converted to Christianity in India, it was not because Mother Teresa served them in their time of need in exchange for their conversion. In fact, Mother Teresa herself admitted to Navin Chawla, her biographer, that she converted people... She said,
Hinduism does not advocate conversion nor is seen by Hindus as a religion. To the Hindu, it is as a way of life governed by certain tenets and disciplines known as "Sanatan Dharma", eternal laws. Therefore, regardless of race, creed, religion or country, by right of birth and in accordance to "Sanatan Dharma" one is Hindu at birth, since birth itself is a natural act governed by cosmic laws.
" A knowledge of Hinduism will make
Hindus better Hindus,
and Christians better Christians,
Muslims better Muslims,
and all of us
better citizens in a consolidated nation."
Some Hindus may prefer to call her, Teresa Mataa or Mataa Teresa, yet it all means the same and conjure memories of the selfless service that she gave to thousands. That, selfless service, then was the path of karma yoga chosen by her and yet she did not waver from the bhakti yoga path, whereby she maintained her exclusive devotion to the Lord of her faith and belief.
To light a deya in her name, then, may be too simple an act to show appreciation for her selfless contribution but with a "little prayer" as the lamp is lit, light would be shed in all those parts of our world where Mother Teresa would manifest herself, in whatever form or shape, to lift with love and care the poverty and hunger stricken thousands who seems to defy all Governments, religions, politicians and mankind as a whole.