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Young Indian American Hindu Joins Marines

CAMP LEJEUNE, U.S.A., April 4, 2003: Nishkam Gupta, 21, is not like others of his age, his parents will tell you. He is currently at Camp Lejeune, serving in the Marines, and in a few days he will leave to serve in Iraq. Nishkam attended a Marine boot "summer" camp while in high school and later made a 6-year commitment with the US military as a Marine reservist. While at Camp Lejeune, Nishkam's mother said her son refused to go with other soldiers to the Christian Sunday services. "He demanded to be given his own place so he could follow his own religion," she said. At his request, his mother sent him pictures of the Hindu Gods and Goddesses. "So every Sunday, when other Marines would go to the church, he and 2 or 3 other Indians would pray at this special location given to them. He made sure that Indians kept their identity even in the US military," she said. At the time his reserve unit was called up he was studying mechanical engineering at the University of Cincinnati, where he founded the local chapter of Hindu Students Council. When packing his bags for going to Iraq he took only four books with him -- the Bhagavad Gita, the Ramayana, The Hindu Mind by Bansi Pandit and The Collected Works of Swami Vivekananda. His parents, who had expressed reluctance at their son's decision, have now adjusted. "Nobody likes their son to go to war," said his father, "but we have no choice but to support him because this is what he really wants."

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(last edited April 5, 2003 by Kishore Balakrishnan - @bekishore - Contact for feedback and suggestions) [info] [diff] [full] EditText of this page

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