Dr. Pradeep K. Goel, DrPH, MS, MPH, MBBS was born on the Purnima of Kartikamas in a Sanatana Dharmi family. His great grandparents have migrated to Meerut in Uttar Pradesh from Bharatpur in Rajasthan in search of business opportunities with the British army stationed there. His childhood years gave deep exposure to Sanatana Dharma, primarily through his family. His parents were deeply religious. His grandmother would chant Gayatri Mantra for hours in the morning while a family munim (accountant) would recite the entire Bhagvad Gita during mangal muhurta! During his adolescent years, on all Sunday afternoons spanning over a fourteen-year period, his mother hosted satsang, and cooked a simple but delicious prasadam of puris and aloo bhaji. All children of the house were excused from doing anything other than assisting her in the enormous endeavor that brought over hundred people at a time!
However, influence of Christianity was also growing in India, with daily radio broadcasts being beamed to this part of the world from offshore radio stations. In Hindi, these broadcasts mocked Hinduism and propagated virtues of Christianity and urged people to convert. These broadcasts caught this young boy’s attention and thus Christianity had significant influence on him during his late teen years.
Few years later, he started his medical education and the influence of Christianity was there to stay! An Indian Brahmin from Kerala, Dr. Nambudripad, who has converted to Christianity during his medical training oversees, urged him to convert as well. Bringing utter shame to his Sanatana Dharmi family, Dr. Goel converted to Christianity. He was baptized first as a Roman Catholic by an Italian priest at the Basilica of Our Lady Of Graces at Sardhana in Meerut district, and then as an evangelical at the Delhi Bible Fellowship by an Indian missionary in Delhi.
After his medical training, he started his residency at the famous St. Stephen’s Hospital in Delhi. There, on the urging of a British monk, Bishop Christopher Robinson, he explored the possibility of becoming a Christian monk and started living at an Anglican monastery, Brotherhood of Ascended Christ in old Delhi. While living at the Brotherhood and working at St. Stephen’s, he organized Monday evening Bible classes for his fellow physicians at the hospital. With Bishop Robinson, he visited Christian families in old Delhi providing them both religious and medical advice, and coached other young Hindu converts to Christianity.
That work attracted attention of several foreigner missionaries working in Northern India at that time. They all sought to attract him to their own particular sects. An American missionary couple in particular, Joseph and Marietta Smith of California’s Go Ye Fellowship, offered to teach him Bible in depth. He accepted their invitation and studied Bible one evening a week, with free dinner, until December of 1983, gaining significant knowledge.
Early 1984 brought him to the serene hill town of Mussoorie, about 200 kilometers north, at the foothills of Himalayas, to work in Landour Community Hospital as the Chief of their Mobile Medical Teams and Attending Physician. There, the Himalayas, shelter of Vedic sages from ages of antiquities, presented two momentous challenges to his adopted Christianity. First, a young Brazilian missionary woman ridiculed Indian culture on a social gathering. This hurt terribly Dr. Goel’s deeply held respect for his culture. Later, a young village head, graduate of Delhi’s famous Hindu College and a disciple of Shri Paramhansa Yogananda, secretly inquired about the reason for his adopting Christianity. Dr. Goel’s medical team would provide free services to his villages, among others, every week. This village head, a Hindu missionary, urged him to reexamine his adopted western religion. “Have you ever read Bhagvad Gita?” he once asked while visiting Dr. Goel at his bungalow. “No, I have only heard its slokas being recited,” replied the Christian convert.
The very next day this Hindu missionary brought copies of Autobiography of a Yogi and Song Celestial and urged Dr. Goel to read. “The day I read these two books, especially Song Celestial, my mind went into a great turbulence” vividly recalls Dr. Goel. “I have never read Bhagvad Gita before, so my eyes were just amazed at the beauty of its poetry and mind fascinated by the depth of knowledge being presented!”
This must be a beginning of a divine intervention at this holy place. A year later, in 1986, he happened to notice some ISKCON devotees selling books on the road in his hometown. Having experienced the beauty and depth of a book on Bhagvad Gita, he rushed to buy a copy of the Gita itself!
That was the true beginning of his Sanatan Dharma yatra. Soon, after marriage in the May of 1986, and on immigrating to US later for training in Public Health and Health Policy at Harvard, he started getting associations with temples, starting with Berkeley, then Chicago, Boston for eight years and back to Berkeley in 1996 until 2001. Many Hindu sanyasis watered the roots of the neophyte’s faith in the west. After passing on of his middle son, Keshav, from this mortal world in December of 1998, the family and he took a pilgrimage to Bharat Bhumi in January of 1999, when he first visited Shri Mahadham Vrindavan and other tirthas. Returning a year later in December of 2000, he took extensive pilgrimage of Hindu tirthas, longing for an opportunity to settle back home.
In March 2001, Krishna answered his prayers. An American organization recruited him to head their South Asia health operations. The family sold their house in California and moved back to India, benefitting tremendously from the close association of saints and sages and by visiting length and breadth of Bharat Bhumi. The family later moved to West Africa, where he was the Senior Health Advisor for the US government. There, he started organizing the Hindu Diasporas, teaching Sanatan Dharma to young and old alike. In late 2008, they moved back to California to allow their children to pursue their education.
Having had a first-hand experience of the terrible tactics of foreign missionaries in converting Indians to their religions, Dr. Goel has a special commitment to propagating Sanatana Dharma. More so now when the swarming from the so-called secular media and its degenerative values occlude the minds of young and old alike. The nexus of Marxists, Christians, and Muslims has successfully eroded the teachings of Sanatana Dharma in India’s education system and thus our children are being raised in a so-called secular environment that is basically antagonistic to our ancient culture and history. Dr. Goel is preparing for the next Ashram in a Vedic life, Vanaprastha. Swami Paramarthananda of Chennai, an ocean of knowledge on Sanskrit and Vedic scriptures, defines it as the ashram where one broadens one’s sphere of thoughts and actions, to benefit the masses, and to purify one’s Atma through action for a deeper association with the Paramatma. That’s the path Dr. Goel seeks to undertake. Study of Sanskrit, mother of Indo-European languages, Vedas, especially Upanishads, and Bhagvad Gita has given the foundations for selfless service and the trails left by the multitudes of sages and saints showing how to do selfless service to Sanatana Dharma and Bharat Bhumi beckons for action!