Rahil Patel decided to become a Hindu priest. But inner peace eluded him – until he walked into a churchFrom early childhood it was a normal thing to attend the Hindu temple every Saturday and Sunday. Hinduism shaped everything for us.
In 1988, when I was 16, the spiritual head [of our strand of Hinduism], or guru as he was called, came to London and noticed something special in me. By that time I was in charge of youth activities. I was asked to speak in the congregation and I found it very easy. There were about 3,000 people seated there and I spoke for 20 minutes. He said to me: ‘You’ve got a very good gift. Why don’t you think about being a priest? You would be a very, very good priest with us.’
On every level I felt reassured. He was someone who was literally known as God amid a vast Hindu community, internationally. And there was this sudden personal attention and recognition. So after completing my A levels, I went to India to a training centre; a monastery. I did the six years of training for being a priest.
The training was intense and vigorous. You are up at quarter to five every morning. There are classes throughout the day; studies of various Indian philosophy doctrines. Alongside that you study all the major world religions.