Saint Teresa of Calcutta (1910-1997)

Navin Chawla, author of Mother Teresa did a remarkable job in capturing the love and sensitivity of one of Christianity’s modern icons. She was born on August 26, 1910, in Skopje, Yugoslavia, and in 1979, as a Catholic religious sister was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize. Mother Teresa received the Call of God at the young age of 18, and decided to leave her home to become a nun in India. Her vocation was serving the poor. On January 16, 1929, she went to the mountain resort of Darjeeling, 400 miles north of Calcutta, to begin a life as a novice. Two years later, she took her first vows of poverty, chastity, and obedience. At Loretto – Entally she was a teacher and Principal.

Early Life

By the early 1940s Chawla showed how Mother Teresa met poverty in the Great Bengal Famine which stalked India. Indians were starving, sorrowful, and lying lifelessly on the streets. And shortly after, she got another “Call within a Call,” to begin a second vocation, to serve “the poorest of the poor.” She therefore had to get permission to leave her cloistered life in the convent to work in the streets of Calcutta. The author documented struggles with her spiritual confessor Father Celeste Van Exem, her bishop, and the Vatican. Fortunately for the world, Mother Teresa prevailed, and permission was granted to do work among poor souls.

In this new vocation as advocate, healer, and provider for “the poorest of the poor,” she was joined by some young women, some of whom were formerly students, to do such work. By the 1950s with some medical training under her belt she headed the Institute of the Blessed Virgin Mary. The author described the travels of her sisters to be with the poor all over the world. They walked or took public transportation to their assignments in India. There was however a Motherhouse – a headquarter to coordinate their operations.

Mother Teresa pledged to take the unwanted babies of the world. Her Missionaries of Charity continued to give out hundreds for adoption. Her views on abortion had many detractors, for she advocated natural family planning which involved abstention of couples, and the exercise of self-control. She had implicit faith in the Roman Catholic doctrine and wanted to bring prayer back into people’s lives. Later, Chawla vividly explained Pope Paul V1, 1965 visit to India as a guest of the government. The Lincoln Continental limousine he used for his state visit was later donated to Mother Teresa’s charities. It was raffled off for a tidy sum with which she built a main hospital block in Shantinagar.

Humanitarian Activities Abroad

Mother Teresa’s humanitarian facilities presently included dispensaries, leprosy clinics, rehabilitation centers, homes for the abandoned – crippled, mentally retarded, unwed mothers, sick, dying destitute, and AIDS patients. At various schools educational activities were ongoing. There were classes in sewing, commerce, and handicraft. Sisters made prison visits, helped families, taught catechism classes, and Sunday School with activities are centered around Catholic action groups.

Missionaries of Charity encompassed Missionary Brothers of Charity and had additional houses established all over India.  There are international houses which presently exist in many areas of the world. These could be found in Bangladesh, Northern Ireland, the Gaza Strip, Yemen, Ethiopia, Sicily, Papua New Guinea, the Philippines, Panama, Japan, Portugal, Brazil, Burundi, England, USA, USSR, South Africa, and in Eastern Europe.

Chawla did much traveling to keep up with Mother Teresa’s activities, carefully described her many ventures and difficulties in establishing such homes. It started with her desire to live with the poor to understand them as equals. With an experience of the first woman who she picked up years ago lying on a street of Calcutta, her face eaten by ants and rats, she observed such a person was the abandoned Christ.

After years of dedicated service to “the poorest of the poor,” she laid ailing and millions prayed for her recovery and she came back from the precipice of death. But on September 5, 1997, a few days after her 87th birthday, she went home to be with her God. Before she died, on March 13, 1997, the Missionaries of Charity elected Sister Nirmala to be the new Superior General. The Indian government honored her with a state funeral, and her coffin was on a gun carriage which once bore the bodies of Mahatma Ghandi and Jawaharlal Nehru. Chawla’s book has truly captured the spirit and life of this extraordinary woman who was declared Saint Teresa of Calcutta on September 4, 2016.



Syncing with Nature

My health is failing

But I have had a long and beautiful ride

This reality is the inevitable course of all life

For there’s a season for everything

Day follows night

While the seasons come and go

All these realities are reflected in one’s life.


At pivotal junctions my decline has been gradual

At 60 my doctor told me my kidneys were sluggish

This was around my birthday in the month of June

So I also celebrated this news with friends at an Italian restaurant

There began my first experience with chronic renal failure

And my determination to keep this disease at bay


Since then I was living with this affliction caused by Lithium

For over 15 years I’ve watched my lab work with concern

At times the results gave me hope that I wouldn’t need dialysis

But now it looks as though this would be the case.


I have no regrets for I have had a long ride doing what I enjoy

But the Universal Spirit knows best as I sync with nature

It looks as though by the time I get there I’ll be fully used up

For over the years I suffered with manic depression, high blood pressure,

Unitary Tract Infection, diabetes, glaucoma, macular degeneration,

And has been the recipient of a pacemaker


Frankly I don’t expect healing from the Universal Spirit

For I have been profoundly blessed in many unexpected ways

Over the years my physical decline has been gradual

And I have grappled with each health problem

With the challenges of living a sensible lifestyle

I pray for only good results from all suffering as I reflect

On the syncing process with nature

But only God really knows how soon my end will be.


Read my autobiography entitled, Life’s Passages: From Guyana to America available at for further insights into my life.


The Baha’i Faith Beliefs

Baha’i teachings are a great deal like other monotheistic faiths.  They are centered on the following concepts:

  1. God is seen as single and all powerful.
  2. Religion is considered orderly and progressive as revealed by God through his manifestations.
  3. Emphasis is placed on the unity of all peoples, and the faith openly rejects racism, and nationalism.
  4. The principles that permeate are wrapped together in the unity of God, religion, and humanity.
  5. God’s will is often revealed through messengers with transforming characteristics with implications for people.
  6. God is viewed as omniscient, omnipresent, imperishable, and the Almighty Creator of all things.
  7. God’s greatness is beyond humans’ comprehension, but they understand Him through His Manifestations.
  8. It’s for Baha’i believers to learn about God through prayer, reflection, and service to others.
  9. Baha’i beliefs are often described as syncretic combinations of other faith traditions.
  10. Baha’i sees its faith as an independent world religion, and differing from other religions with the teachings of Bahaullah.
  11. Baha’i believes that human beings have a “rational soul” which allows individuals to recognize God as their Creator.
  12. It’s the duty of Baha’i followers to recognize God through his messengers, and conform to the faith’s teachings.
  13. At death a human’s soul is described as separating from the body to the next world where it is judged for its actions in the physical world.
  14. Humanity is viewed as essentially one with its diversity or race, and culture worthy of appreciation.
  15. Artificial impediments are considered as those based on the doctrines of racism, nationalism, caste, and gender-based hierarchy

Early African-American Experience

The soul within us is impervious to any sort of degradation.  It was Frederick Douglass (1818–1895), an African-American social reformer, and abolitionist who said, “The soul that is within me no man can degrade.”  But with the introduction of film in the United States African Americans were stereotyped.  The Flights of Nation (1907) depicted a lopsided and demented black culture.  D.W. Griffith (1875–1948) with The Birth of a Nation (1915) chronicled the story of the free South in the civil war that showed the revenge of the Ku Klux Klan on blacks.  This movie which was considered a masterpiece set the precedent of portraying blacks as idlers, brutish, vagabonds, and outcasts.

Role of Blacks

 It was Colin Powell (b. 1937), formerly secretary of state of the United States who said, “I think whether you’re having setbacks or not, the role of a leader is to always display a winning attitude.”  Early blacks never had the opportunity to display these traits because of racism, and society excluded them from holding important positions.

Other films showed the grizzled tramp in Jim Tully’s tale of the lowly Beggars of Life (1928), the seaman in James Craze’s Old Ironsides (1926), black roles in Showboat (1927), Uncle Tom’s Cabin (1927), and others in the early sound films like Dudley Murphy’s St Louis Blues (1929).  But some blacks played conventional roles as chorus girls, convicts, boxing trainers, ill-mannered servants, and persons of disrepute.

In the 1940s and 1950s, white actors Freeman Gosden and Charles Correll were the talent behind the popular radio show Amos ‘n’ Andy.  These two actors were masters in their imitation of the degrading dialogue most Americans associated with blacks.  These condescending techniques made for the popularity of the program.


 Chinua Achebe (1930–2013), a Nigerian novelist, and poet wrote, “The whole idea of a stereotype is to simplify.  Instead of going through the problem of all this great diversity – that it’s this or maybe that – you have just one large statement, it is this.”

In the era of TV, white actors were replaced by blacks in Amos ‘n’ Andy and the show’s popularity continued.  Eventually the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) was able to persuade Hollywood to abandon negative stereotypes of blacks in their films, and TV followed suit.  Such a decision didn’t produce changes overnight, but there was some progress being made.

Christianity & Race

 Many Christians have long been opposed to any form of racism.  Throughout history there have been a number of abolitionists in the United States and abroad.  The Gospel tells us that whether we are Jews or Gentiles God looks at our hearts.  People can’t hide their feelings.  Jesus Christ was forthright in warning the rich about the exploitation of the poor.  Many blacks belong to the lower class because of a past of slavery.

Although many Americans consider themselves Christian racism is still a problem in the society. The Christian faith reminds us to love our neighbor as ourselves.  The story of the Good Samaritan is alive and well for everyone to take note.  In the 1960s with prayers, sacrifice, and dedication, and social change the Civil Rights era began impacting these wrongs that were degrading our society.  And in today’s culture some remnants of the past are still apparent.

Zoroastrian Theology

Zoroastrian Theology’s salient principles cover the gamut of his teachings.  This summary reflects his religious beliefs that range from God’s guardianship, purity, health care, charity, virtue, nature, and the immortality of the soul.

  1. Much of the Zoroastrian theology is directed towards the protection of mankind to fight against Angro Mainyus and his wicked accomplices.
  2. Careful instructions are given concerning the care, and burial of the dead.
  3. Purity is stressed. Information is given about germs, and the preservation of public health.  This also concerns the good thoughts, words, and works.  The purification of one’s body was essential, as well as that of the corporeal world.
  4. Believers learn about the commands to cultivate the soil, irrigate the land, and care for livestock.
  5. Strict ordinances are meted out for the care and welfare of women during gestation, and child birth.
  6. Two attributes were seen as inherent in men and women – “Vohumana” (Good Mind), and “Akamana” (Evil Mind). This moral philosophy is expressed in these expressive words – “Humata” (good thoughts), “Hukhta” (good words), and “Hvarshta” (good deeds).
  7. Zoroaster considers as wise the distribution of charities to the sorrowful, and to those with untold miseries.
  8. Marriage is recommended because it leads to a religious and virtuous life.
  9. Chastity and implicit obedience from a wife to her husband are viewed as the greatest virtues in a woman. This breach will be punished as a sin.
  10. Great tolerance is shown in passing judgment on the religious beliefs of others.
  11. Abortion is a grave sin when a partner or parents attempt to hide the shame from the world.
  12. Zoroaster placed the whole creation under the guardianship of God, and six “Ameshaspends” (archangels). These are mystical guardian spirits who work night and day for the welfare and protection of the creation that are committed to their charge by the Almighty.  These archangels are responsible viz., for domestic animals and birds; fire and life-giving heat; all kinds of metals and minerals; injunctions to keep the earth fruitful, clean, and cultivated; the purity of water and water-courses; and trees and vegetation.  These duties are done through the assistance of Yazats (angels), who police and guard the earth night and day against the encroachments of Angro Mainyus (Evil Spirit).
  13. Special legislation is laid down for the treatment of the lower animals, the elimination of pain, and unnecessary suffering.
  14. Unlike other religions Zoroaster condemns fasting or the total abstinence from food as foolish and injurious to the body.
  15. Zoroastrianism gives evidence to the great belief of immorality of the soul, and the resurrection of the body. At the Great Gathering everyone will be judged, the battle will end, and the Evil Spirit will no longer have power to play man as a pawn.  And there will be everlasting peace and happiness.