On an island off the coast of the South Indian state of Tamil Nadu sits the Ramanathaswamy Temple, the second of the four Char Dham sites. According to the Hindu epic Ramayana, the god Ram established the temple by setting up idols of the god Shiva here. Ram then prayed to Shiva to be cleansed of any sins he might have committed during his war against a demon king.
A pilgrimage to Rameshwaram is not complete without having a “holy dip” in the 22 main holy bodies of water called teerthams. The first and foremost bathing point is a beach near the temple where huge crowds gather to dip in the ocean, hoping that, like Ram, their sins will be washed away. After this initial bath, pilgrims often hire a guide to assure that they visit the remaining teerthams (ponds, wells, etc) in the correct sequence and with the proper rituals. Finally, they visit the temple itself and worship the idol of Shiva, again seeking forgiveness for their sins.
So, after all these baths and rituals, do they feel liberated of sin and assured of salvation? For most, a doubt remains. “What if I didn’t do the rituals just right?” And, “What if I sin again?” It’s an endless cycle requiring another ritual bath at every auspicious destination, at each festival, each new moon, each new day … and yet the uncertainty is never washed away.
Writing of his need to have his sins washed away, King David cried out, “Have mercy on me, O God, according to your steadfast love; according to your abundant mercy blot out my transgressions. Wash me thoroughly from my iniquity, and cleanse me from my sin!” (Psalm 51:1–2)
The good news is that Christ’s final sacrifice destroyed the power of sin, “by that one offering he forever made perfect those who are being made holy.”
(Hebrews 10:14, New Living Translation)
WAYS TO PRAY:
PRAY FOR Hindus who already have an awareness of sin and who are searching for someone who can cleanse them of their sin. (1 John 1:7)
PRAY FOR Hindus who are unconvinced that they have any sin that needs to be washed away—that the Holy Spirit would convict them and that they meet and turn to Jesus.
PRAY FOR Hindus everywhere —that they would learn that they also can experience the goodness and loving-kindness of God our Savior. (Titus 3:5–6)