LGBT-supportive Swami Mahanatra says hate has no place in religion
"Everyone is trying to find some degree of happiness," said Mahanatra, an LGBT-supportive Dallas swami.
Swami is a Hindu honorary title. The Sanskrit word means "He who knows and is the master of himself," but it may better be defined as a religious teacher. The title is added to a person’s name to emphasize his devotion to his spiritual master or to emphasize his advanced level of learning.
Matthew Douglas, a follower of the swami, said, "I have known Mahanatra for seven years. Basically, he took me under his wing. He’s been preaching to me and gave me a path to spiritual acceptance."
Douglas added,"He left the door open and has given me the opportunity to learn."
He said the swami never tells him what he has to believe, but preaches love for all. "He doesn’t judge. He doesn’t look at your past," he said.
Mahanatra Swami said that whatever spiritual tradition you practice, do it well. He suggested a simple way to begin.
"Whatever your tradition, just love God," he said.
He said that many people who call themselves religious have gone off course relating to LGBT people.
"How can someone be religious when you hate your brother?" he asked.
Mahanatra said that modern religious sects are going wrong because they teach you what you have to be.
Mahanatra studied with another swami and earned the title of swami at age 33. After actively practicing, he stepped down for personal reasons but has recently renewed his faith and has been reinstated, he said.
Among the people who influenced him, he said, is A.C. Bhaktivedanta, author of the book "Bhagavad-gita As It Is." Mahanta said he has had a personal audience with Bhaktivededanta, founder of the International Society for Krishna Consciousness.
Mahanatra said one mission he feels passionate about is speaking out about the atrocities committed against the LGBT community. He implores the gay and lesbian community, though, not to hate the straight community in return.
"It’s a two-way street," he said. "Everyone is worthy to be loved by God."
He tells anyone who contacts him to expect open arms, but not to expect to open their pocketbooks.
"Do I accept money? No. That’s serving with a motive. I have no motive other than helping others."
Mahanatra can be contacted at Mahanatra_Swami@hotmail.com.
This article appeared in the Dallas Voice print edition January 29, 2010.