Kamala Elin Martens
Green Valley, Arizona
To tell you my story I have to give a little background. I come from a heavily Christian family. My two brothers and I all went to Lutheran grammar school. Religion was a very important part of my upbringing.
My temperament was one of concern for others. Even in second grade I was worried about people in other parts of the world who never heard of Jesus and the possibility that they would go to hell. I would challenge my teachers on my concerns. By the age of 13 I had decided that I was an agnostic. My decision was firm and the reason was this: I would rather go to hell with all the other people who practiced other religions and didn’t believe in Jesus then go to heaven with a group of people who felt that they had the only correct answer.
I continued through my teen years with the same conviction without any of my family knowing how I felt. Since I had grown up in Indiana my awareness of any other religion was not available to me. I married a gentleman when I was 21 years old. While he was getting his master's degree he had contact with another student who introduced him to Hinduism. I did not inquire or read any of the books he was reading. We were living in Michigan while he was teaching. One of the books in our possession was the Bhagavad Gita translated by Swami Prabhavananda.
After two years in Michigan, we decided to move to Los Angeles. Since my husband was interested in Hinduism we rented in Hollywood near SRF and the Vedanta Society. I still knew nothing of Hinduism or these two organizations. An apartment already having been rented, we moved in on a Friday in September of 1967. We unloaded the U-Haul on Saturday and we went to the lecture on Sunday morning at the Vedanta Society. I was 23 years old. I never stopped going. I was amazed to find a religion that accepted all religions as paths to the one GOD.