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Hindu Community of Maple Grove Teach Forgiveness Lesson To Temple Vandals

In 2006, two youngsters for fun destroyed the Hindu Temple at Maple Grove in Minnesota, United States. They broke the idols (murtis), sculptures, windows and more than 100 holes were drilled into the temple walls. The damages were calculated at $300,000 plus the irreparable damage of artworks. Instead of going ahead and punishing the two youngsters, the Hindu community chose the method of love, compassion, accountability and forgiveness.

The youngsters who destroyed the temple were not aware of Hinduism and the symbolic value of the idols and sculptures. The Hindu community pleaded for mercy and a suspended sentence for the vandals. By working shoulder to shoulder with these youngsters the Hindu Community succeeded in changing their way of life. Now these young men are much happier, drug free and productive citizen of the society. On June 25, 2009, the temple will be performing a special ceremony to bury the desecrated idols.

Bridgette Bornstein writes in wcco.com

"There's a tendency for people to take an eye for an eye, which makes the whole world blind," said Dr. Shashikant Sane of the Hindu Society of Minnesota.

The young men who admitted to the crime were welcomed back into the temple by the people they hurt. So much has changed since that night the men broke in.

"When you try to forget something like that you, you actually do. It's kind of all hazy," said Paul Spakovsky, one of the temple vandals.

"We just really found that the Hindu society, they really practice what they preach. They didn't want to turn us into career criminals," said Tuomie.

"They were very forgiving – very, very forgiving," said Spakovsky. "Every time we even come in here, it's just big hugs."

The Hindu community asked the court for less time behind bars so the men would have a chance to redeem themselves through community service instead, performed at the temple. What started as a tragedy has blossomed into unexpected true friendships.

"What a nice, heartwarming experience for all of us that these two young men have changed their way of life, and are productive citizens and they come here because they are welcome here," said Dr. Kumud Sane of the Hindu Society of Minnesota.

The young men have truly grown up with the help of the Hindu community. Spakovsky is newly engaged to be married. Tuomie plans to return to school this fall.

This is really great by Hindu Community of Maple Grove. Such instances have become rare today. Sadly there are few takers for love, compassion and forgiveness because it needs courage… extraordinary courage.

There is no substitute to love, compassion, and forgiveness. The ideal method to deal with violence is through love and forgiveness.