Death of a Guru
Rabindranath R. Maharaj (Rabi) is the son of Chandrabhan Ragbir Sharma Mahabir Maharaj who was a Yogi that died when Rabi was very young. His father, because of the vows he had taken before Rabi was born, not once did he ever speak to his son or pay him the slightest heed. This lasted for eight long years during which he uttered not a word, not even a whispered confidence to his mother. He had achieved through Yoga a trancelike state, the so called ‘altered state of consciuosness’ about which many people speak in these times here in the West, and which is achieved through Transcendental Meditation, Yoga, hypnosis, witchcraft ceremonies, guided imagery, certain drugs, and other practices.
No one, not even his mother, ever knew exactly the vows he had taken. But it was certain that this man had suddenly adopted a unusual style of life. Sitting in lotus position – toes of both feet turned up on top of the knees – on the board that he also used for a bed, he passed his days in meditation and the reading of the sacred scriptures according to the Hindu religion, that is, the Bhagavad-Gita. He seemed to be in another world. He looked so peaceful, sitting motionless, his breath moving in and out slowly, rhythmically, hair and beard, uncut in all those years, grown down to his waist. He did nothing physically for himself, he was to be taken care of, washed and fed and changed, for eight years.
When Rabi would ask her mother: ‘Why is Father that way?’ her mother would reply: ‘He is someone very special – the greatest man you could have for a father. He is seeking the true Self that lies within us all, the One Being, of which there is no other. And that’s what you are too, Rabi’ (Rabindranath R. Maharaj with Dave Hunt, Death of a Guru, Hodder and Stoughton, Great Britain 1986, p. 14). According to many religious Hindus his father was an avatar and was highly respected. His admirers came from miles around to worship him and to lay before him their offerings of fruit and flowers. It was often said by many people that surely he had already achieved moksha, escaping the wheel of reincarnation and so there would be no more births into this world for him, only the eternal Bliss of Nirvana. Then one day, suddenly, he died, and his body was burned according to the Hindu Religion and some of the ashes gathered and given to his wife to carry them to India to sprinkle them on the ‘sacred’ waters of the Ganges. Holy Mother of rivers – like the cow, the Mother of us all – according to Hinduism.
The mother of Rabi got married when she was just 15 years old, and while she was still pregnant her husband entered that world of silent meditation we saw before. She was the first teacher in Hinduism for Rabi. She taught him to be devoted to the gods of Hinduism and unfailing in his religious duties, and she told her son that because of past karma he had been born into the highest caste. Rabi was a Brahmin, a representative on earth of Brahman, the One True Reality according to the Hindu religion. The only thing he had to do was to realize that he was Brahman. So, Rabi following the example of his father, from the age of five practiced meditation daily; sitting in lotus position with his spine straight and his eyes staring unseeing at nothing, he imitated his father. The mother of Rabi was very proud of his son and sometimes she would tell him: ‘You will be a great Yogi too, one day!’
Rabi accepted whatever the sacred writings of Hinduism said, although much of it was difficult to understand and seemed contradictory to him. He had always had a keen awareness that God had always existed and that he had created everything, yet the Vedas said that there had been a time when nothing had existed – and Brahman had come from nothing. The concept of God that he was taught in Hinduism – that a leaf, a bug, a star was God, that Brahman was everything and all was Brahman – did not coincide with the awareness he had of God as not being part of the universe but its Creator, someone other and much greater than him, not within him, as he was taught. In addition to this, Rabi was taught that he, like all other humans, was the victim of maya, a misconception about reality that deceived all who were not yet enlightened, and so he determined to be rid of that ignorance. As his father had fought and conquered the illusion of separation from Brahman, so would he.
Some time after the death of his father, – Rabi (at that time he was only ten years old) made the announcement that he wanted to spend his next summer holiday in a temple, his relatives were very happy about that and his father’s mother said that the ashram in Durga was just the right place for him. So Rabi went to study at Durga, in the isle of Trinidad, under a famous Brahmacharya in charge of the temple.
Rabi, though he was very young at that time, had already showed that he led a disciplined religious life. Here are his words: ‘In full obedience to the Vedas and the laws of Manu, I strictly observed the five daily duties of the twice-born: the offering to the gods, to the Seers, to the forefathers, to lower animals, and to humanity, embodied in the daily religious practices which I began at dawn and completed after sunset. Although some religious Hindus would wear leather belts or shoes, I recoiled at the thought of wearing the skin of any creature, especially the cow. It could have been an ancestor, or even a close relative! I made no compromise with my religion, and my reputation as a young pundit-in-the-making spread far beyond my own town. Rising early each morning, I would immediately repeat the appropriate mantra to Vishnu and offer obeisance inwardly to our family guru. I recited the morning prayer of remembrance most earnestly, resolving thereby to do the day’s work under the guidance of Lord Vishnu by affirming that I was one with Brahman: ‘I am the Lord, in no wise different from Him, the Brahman, suffering from no disabilities such as affliction and anguish. I am existence-knowledge-bliss, ever free. O Lord of the world, all intelligence, the paramount deity, the spouse of Lakshmi, O Vishnu, waking in the early morning I shall comply with the responsibilities of my mundane existence …. O Lord Hrishikesa, dominating my sensuous entity, with Thee in my heart’s cavity, as I am commissioned, so shall I act’. Then came my predawn ceremonial bath, an act of purification that prepared me for the worship that followed. I would then recite the Gayatri mantra, beginning with the names of the three worlds: ‘OM, Bhuh, Bhuvah, Suvah – we meditate upon that adorable effulgence of the resplendent vivifier, Savitar; may he stimulate our intellects’. Considered to be the mantra of all mantras, the very essence of the spiritual power that a Brahmin gains, I would repeat this ode to the sun, derived from the Rigveda, hundreds of times each day, always in Sanskrit, the language of the gods. The value was in the repetition, the more times the better, and I repeated it rapidly thousands of times as a small child before learning what it meant. More important than understanding the meaning was to correctly articulate the Sanskrit sounds. That alone formed the basis for the efficacy of the mantra. I firmly believed, as do all orthodox Hindus, that the mantra embodied the deity itself and created what it expressed, and that by the proper repetition of the Gayatri mantra and daily worship the sun itself was kept in its proper position. Next came my morning worship in the prayer room. Solemnly, meditatively, with a sense of awe, I would strike a match and light the deya’s cotton ghee-soaked wick, fixing all my attention upon the flickering flame – a god, too. Reverently, yet feeling a sense of my own holiness that I should have such an honor, I would take the sandalwood paste and make the fresh chanan mark on the forehead of each god and upon the Shiva lingam. The odor of sandalwood filling the prayer room would send a surge of excitement through me – a sensual delight at the thought of my intimacy with my many gods. Seating myself in lotus position facing east, I would sip water, sprinkle it on myself and around me for ceremonial purification, practice the Yoga of breath control, then invoke the deity I was worshipping by nyasa, the touching of myself in the forehead, the upper arms, the chest, and the thighs, thereby symbolically placing the deity in my own body. I felt a mystical union with each god I worshiped. Seated before the altar, I would spend an hour in deep meditation, concentrating all attention upon the tip of my nose, until I had lost contact with the world around me and would begin to realize my essential unity with the One Reality underlying the universe. Dismissing the deity with a short water-offering and obeisance, I would go outside, where I would worship the sun for another hour, often staring at it for long periods with both eyes wide open, again repeating the Gayatri mantra hundreds of times, believing, as I had been taught, that it had the power of saving the soul fully devoted to it. I loved my religion’ (Ibid., pages. 51-53).
As we told before, Rabi went to Durga. Here is now the description of what Rabi did together with others during that period (three months) spent in the temple of Durga.
‘Our day began very early. During the last eighth of the night, the auspicious lamp ceremony would be performed to awaken Vishnu, the temple deity. After the idol had been bathed and worshiped, we would all gather at about 5:30 A.M. to hear the Vedas read aloud in Hindi; then we would spend two or three hours in meditation. The first mantra assigned to me was Hari OM Tat Sat. The Brahmacharya would always begin his meditation with the repetition of the single word OM. The highest vibration and the most difficult to pronounce, like all mantras OM must be taught by a guru. In the Vedas it is said that: ‘On the lotus …. Brahma began to think: ‘By what single syllable may I be able to enjoy all desires, all worlds …. gods …. Vedas …. rewards….? He saw this OM …. allpervading, omnipresent …. the Brahman’s own symbolic syllable …. With it he enjoyed all the desires of all worlds, all gods, all Vedas …. all rewards, all beings …. Therefore the Brahmin who, desiring whatever he wants, fasts three nights, sits on sacred grass facing east, and repeats this imperishable OM, for him all objects are realized and all acts are successful’. Nothing was more important than our daily transcendental meditation, the heart of Yoga, which Krishna advocated as the surest way to eternal Bliss. But it could also be dangerous. Frightening psychic experiences awaited the unwary meditator, similar to a bad trip on drugs. Demons described in the Vedas had been known to take possession of some Yogis. Kundalini power, said to be coiled like a serpent at the base of the spine, could produce ecstatic experiences when released in deep meditation – or, if not properly controlled, it could do great mental and even bodily harm. The line between ecstasy and horror was very fine. For that reason we initiates were closely supervised by the Brahmacharya and his assistant. During the daily meditation I began to have visions of psychedelic colors, to hear unearthly music, and to visit exotic planets where the gods conversed with me, encouraging me to attain even higher states of consciousness. Sometimes in my trance I encountered the same horrible demonic creatures that are depicted by the images in Hindu, Buddhist, Shinto, and other religious temples. It was a frightful experience, but the Brahmacharya explained that it was normal and urged me to pursue the quest for Self-realization. At times I experienced a sense of mystical unity with the universe. I was the universe, Lord of all, omnipotent, omnipresent. My instructors were excited at this. I was obviously a chosen vessel, destined for early success in the search for union with Brahman. The Forces that had guided my father were now guiding me’ (ibid, pages. 56-57).
When Rabi returned home at the end of that summer, he discovered that his training in the temple had elevated him considerably in the eyes of religious Hindus. Walking through town on his way to school, he was the center of worshipful attention. ‘Sita-Ram, Pundit Ji’, people called out, hurrying over to bow low before him. He loved it. Rabi was also highly estimated by the pundits.
Though Rabi did not yet consider himself to have fully achieved Self-realization, he felt that he was very close to jivanmukti, the highest ideal for man set forth in the Bhagavad-Gita, that is the deliverance from original ignorance that would assure him that he would never be reincarnated again, but would be reunited with Brahman, his true Self, forever. That was the state that his father had reached, according to Rabi.
Anyway, Rabi now came to the conclusion that he was God, as he says: ‘I was the one and only Brahman, pure existence-consciousness-bliss …. I was God …. It wasn’t a question of becoming God but of simply realizing who I really was and had been all the time. Walking the streets I felt that I really was the Lord of the universe and that my creatures were bowing before me’ (pages. 60-61).
Rabi at that time was just 11 years old, but already many people were bowing before him, laying gifts of money, cotton cloth, and other treasures at his feet and hanging garlands of flowers around his neck at religious ceremonies. And in his town there were many who looked to him for spiritual help. He was convinced that one day he would be the guru for thousands.
Rabi was very strict about his vegetarianism – he wouldn’t buy cheese in a shop if it had been cut with a knife that had been used to cut sausage or other meat; nevertheless he had the habit of smoking cigarettes, he was a slave of this habit that was ruining his lungs. Out in the fields alone he chain-smoked one cigarette after another, inhaling deeply with every puff, and worst of all, because he did not want anyone to know of his secret habit, he had to steal the cigarettes, even though he had plenty of money, and that troubled his conscience deeply.
As the other religious Hindus, Rabi considered the cow a god – one of his gods – and respected it very much, he used to worship the cow everyday: but one day Rabi was attacked by a cow and this fact troubled him very much because he did not understand why this had happened, here are his words: ‘Holding a small brass cup, or lota, of holy water in one hand for a purification offering, I had just placed a fresh hibiscus bloom on our cow’s head, which I did every morning, and was bowing in worship – when suddenly, with a warning snort, the big black creature lowered her head and charged. I jumped back, barely avoiding a tossing horn, then turned to run, dropping the lota and prayer beads. My god was chasing me! Fortunately for me, I hadn’t yet untied the cow. Her rope pulled her up short just as I thought her horns were going to impale me. Shaken and breathless, I looked from the trampled lota and beads and angrily pawing hoofs to those big brown eyes staring at me with intense hatred. Attacked by my god! And I had worshiped her faithfully for an hour each day for years! On my way to school, two hours after this had happened, I was still shaking inside – no longer with fright, but with bewildered grief. Why? Though Shiva and Kali and so many of the other gods often frightened me, the cow was one god I had always adored. Grazing and caring for her was the one chore I had delighted in. I had always treated the cow, and all other animals, with the utmost kindness. Then why should this god attack me? It was a question that would continue to haunt me in the days ahead’ (ibid., pages 70-71).
Trying to forget this incident, as well as others that happened to him at that time, Rabi lived for the religious ceremonies – public ones in the temple or private ones in his own home or those of others, where friends and relatives would crowd in. There he would be the center of attention, admired by all. He loved to move through the audience, sprinkling holy water on worshipers or marking foreheads with the sacred white sandalwood paste, or gathering the offering until the brass plate he carried was piled high with blue, red, and green bank notes of different denominations looking like a huge bouquet of money blooms. Best of all, he loved to sit next to the altar and beside the officiating pundit, the object of admiring eyes. He enjoyed also the deep fragrance of the floral garlands hanging around his neck on those occasions, and the worshipers, after the ceremony, bowing low before him to leave their offerings at his feet.
Rabi was at that time only 13, and the occult forces that his practice of yoga cultivated and aroused lingered on and began to manifest themselves in public, in fact often those who bowed before him would sense a brightness and experience an inner illumination when he touched them on the forehead in bestowal of his blessing. This touch is called the ‘Shakti pat’ and is famous among gurus.
As far his meditation was concerned, Rabi during his deep meditation would experience supernatural visions in which he would see the gods he worshiped, here are his words: ‘Often while I was in deep meditation the gods became visible and talked with me. At times I seemed to be transported by astral projection to distant planets or to worlds in other dimensions. It would be years before I would learn that such experiences were being duplicated in laboratories under the watchful eyes of parapsychologists through the use of hypnosis and LSD. In my Yogic trances most often I would be alone with Shiva the Destroyer, sitting fearfully at his feet, the huge cobra coiled about his neck staring at me, hissing and darting out its tongue threateningly’ (page. 75).
Then, Rabi attended the Queen’s Royal College in Port of Spain. When school closed at the end of second year at Queen’s Royal College, Rabi went away as usual to spend several weeks vacationing at his Aunt Suminstra’s ranch at Guara Cara in the highlands of the Central Range and during one of those days he found himself in danger and experienced a deliverance worked by the Lord Jesus in his favor, here are his words: ‘As usual upon arriving there after that long, hot drive, I set right out upon a quiet walk, exulting in the beautiful scenery, absorbed in observing closely the unusual varieties of flora and fauna. Arriving at the edge of a jutting cliff deep in the jungle, I stood looking down upon a forest of salmonhued immortelles spreading their royal canopy over the cacao trees in the valley below me. In the distance, on the other side of the plantation, tall feathery stands of bamboo swayed in the breeze; far beyond, the waving cane fields, barely visible in the haze, stretched like a green carpet to meet the blue of sea on the horizon. Behind me parrots, kiskadees, parakeets, cornbirds, and other colorful species flitted back and forth in the treetops, chattering and scolding. It seemed to me that the whole universe was singing the same song, throbbing with the same life, manifesting the same Essence. Every atom in everything, from the tiniest bacterium to the largest sun and farthest star, was an emanation from the same Source. All were part of the same great and only Reality. I was one with everything – we were all expressions of Brahman. Nature was my god and my friend. I became ecstatic with the joy of this universal brotherhood of all things and beings. Chanting ‘OM namah Shivaya’ – one must never forget one’s duty to the Destroyer – I was turning a scorpionlike orchid in my fingers, admiring its pale, delicate texture and the incredible depth of its coloring that seemed to open up like the doorway into another world. Startled by an ominous rustling sound in the underbrush behind me, I turned quickly around. To my horror, I saw a large snake with thick body coming directly toward me, its beady eyes staring intently into mine. I felt hypnotized, paralyzed, wanting desperately to run but unable to move. Nor was there any way to escape, with the precipice at my back and the snake in front of me. Although the ugly reptile lacked the cobra’s hood, I was struck by the resemblance it bore to that huge snake Shiva always wore around his neck – and I sensed the same presence that I so often felt in deep meditation, when I would find myself in a strange world sitting at Shiva’s feet, his cobra companion hissing menacingly and darting out its tongue at me. The situation I now faced seemed like the destined fulfillment of these visions. This time I would not escape the Destroyer! Close enough for me to touch it now, the snake raised its wide, wedge-shaped head above the grass and reared back to strike. In that moment of frozen terror, out of the past came my mother’s voice, as though she were standing there, repeating words I had long forgotten: ‘Rabi, if ever you’re in real danger and nothing else seems to work, there’s another god you can pray to. His name is Jesus’. ‘Jesus! Help me!’ I tried to yell, but the desperate cry was choked and hardly audible. To my utter astonishment, the snake dropped its head to the ground, turned clumsily around, and wriggled off at a great rate into the underbrush. On trembling legs that threatened to buckle under me, I made a wide circle around the place where the snake had disappeared and stumbled through the thick jungle back to the path leading to the house. Breathless and still trembling, filled with wondering gratitude to this amazing god, Jesus, but afraid to mention his name, I told my startled cousin Sharma of my narrow escape. My thoughts often returned to the puzzling question of who this Jesus really was. I remembered hearing about him in songs on the radio at Christmas, and knew that he must be one of the Christian gods. But I wondered why, when I had attended a primary school run by a Christian denomination, I had heard almost nothing about this Jesus, at least that I could now recall. Perhaps I had not paid attention. For whatever reason, the only thing I remembered about Christianity was that the first Christians were named Adam and Eve, and someone named Cain killed his brother Abel. I pondered that experience for days. Jesus was a powerful and amazing god. How quickly he had answered! But what was he the god of? Protection? Why had my mother – or the swami in the temple – not taught me more about him?’ (ibid., pages 94-96).
During his third year in high school, Rabi experienced an increasingly deep inner conflict, to him certain things that had been taught to him since his childhood did not seem true because they were not reasonable, here are his words: ‘My awareness of God as the Creator, separate and distinct from the universe he had made, an awareness that had been a part of me even as a small boy, contradicted the concept given to me by Hinduism that God was everything, that the Creator and the creation were one and the same. I felt torn between these two irreconcilable views. What I experienced in meditation agreed with the Vedic teaching about Brahman, but my experience of life at other times disagreed. In Yogic trance I felt a oneness with the whole universe; I was no different from a bug or cow or distant star. We all partook of the same Essence. Everything was Brahman, and Brahman was everything. ‘And that thou art!’ said the Vedas, telling me that Brahman was my true Self, the god within that I worshiped sitting in front of a mirror. It seemed difficult to face everyday life after hours in trance. The conflict and contrast between these two worlds was unresolvable. The higher states of consciousness I experienced in meditation were supposedly approaching reality as it really was. Yet the everyday world of joys and sorrows, pain and pleasure, birth and death, fears and frustrations; of bitter conflicts with my Aunt Revati and unanswerable questions posed by my classmates at Queen’s Royal College; of holy men who stank and cursed, and of Brahmacharyas who fell in love – this was the world I had to deal with, and I dared not dismiss it as illusion unless I was prepared to call insanity true enlightenment. My religion made beautiful theory, but I was having serious difficulty applying it in everyday life. Nor was it only a matter of my five senses versus my inner visions. It was a matter of reason also. The real conflict was between two opposing views of God: was God all that there was, or could he make a rock or a man without its being part of himself? If there was only one Reality, then Brahman was evil as well as good, death as well as life, hatred as well as love. That made everything meaningless, life an absurdity. It was not easy to maintain both one’s sanity and the view that good and evil, love and hate, life and death were one Reality. Furthermore, if good and evil were the same, then all karma was the same and nothing mattered, so why be religious? It seemed unreasonable, but Gosine reminded me that reason could not be trusted – it was part of the illusion. If reason was also maya – as the Vedas taught – then how could I trust any concept, including the idea that all was maya and only Brahman was real? How could I be sure that the Bliss I sought was not also an illusion, if none of my perceptions or reasonings were to be trusted? To accept what my religion taught, I had to deny what reason told me. But what about other religions? If all was One, then they were all the same. That seemed to deify confusion as the Ultimate Reality. I was confused. My only hope was Yoga, which Krishna in the Gita promised would dispel all ignorance through the realization that I was not other than God himself. At times this inner vision had dazzled and excited me – I had felt so close to Self-realization that I could almost see myself as Brahman, the Lord of all. Almost, but not quite. I had told myself it was true and pretended that I was God; but always there had been that inner conflict, a voice warning of delusion. I had fought against this as the vestige of primordial ignorance, and at times had felt that I was on the verge of conquering this insidious illusion just as my father had. But never had I quite been able to bridge the chasm separating me and all of creation from the Creator. I began to think of the Creator as the true God, in contrast to the many Hindu gods, some of whom I was convinced I had met in my trances. I felt increasingly the stark difference between the terror they struck in my heart and the instinct I had that the true God was loving and kind. There was not one of the Hindu gods whom I now felt I could really trust – not one that loved me. I felt a growing hunger to know the Creator, but I knew no mantras to recite to him, and I had the uneasy feeling that my pursuit of Self-realization was not bringing me nearer to him but taking me farther from him. It troubled me also that, in spite of my attempts to realize that I was Brahman, the feeling of peace I achieved in meditation never lasted very long in the everyday world’ (Ibid., pages 97-99).
As we saw before, when Rabi found himself in danger of being struck by that snake he called upon the name of Jesus so that He might save him and the Lord saved him; but it was not the only occasion (before his conversion) on which he asked Jesus to help him. There is another occasion on which Jesus helped him, it happened while he was attending the Royal college. Let’s see what happened to him: ‘One afternoon the unexpected happened. In the midst of a routine soccer game, running across the field in hot pursuit of the ball, I found myself suddenly on the turf, writhing in agony, a hot, searing pain shooting through my lower abdomen. Classmates and the teacher on duty gathered around quickly. ‘Nobody kicked him, how come he fell down? What’s the matter?’ someone asked. I could only answer with groans. ‘Get him in the shade’, said the teacher. Swimming in a sea of pain, I felt hands lifting me, then everything went black. The ride in Uncle Deonarine’s car was a blur of dreamlike motion and agony. In the doctor’s office I lost track of time and voices. The last thing I remembered was hearing the doctor say something about ‘another few minutes and the appendix would have burst’. I awakened hours later under clean white sheets in a hospital room minus part of my intestines, that pain in my side still there but throbbing now to a slower beat. ‘You were lucky, Rabi!’ Uncle Deonarine exclaimed with evident relief when he visited me the next day. ‘The doctor said it was a close shave’. On the third day and feeling much better, I was allowed to get up and go to the toilet on my own. Opening the bathroom door to return to bed, I felt an excruciating jolt of pain hit my right side. The room began spinning crazily and growing dark. Fighting to keep from losing consciousness, I grabbed wildly for the door handle but didn’t find it. The blurred memory of a small jungle clearing on the edge of a cliff and something my mother had told me years before came back again. ‘Jesus, help me!’ I cried. I felt a hand grip my arm and hold me up, though I knew there was no one in the bathroom. The darkness lifted. The room stood still once more. My eyes focused. Every twinge of pain had vanished, and in its place a remarkable feeling of well-being and strength surged through me’ (ibid., page 105).
As we saw before, Rabi believed he was God, but one day – when he was about 15 years old – just after one religious ceremony he had a tremendous experience, he heard the voice of the only and true God rebuking him, here are the words of Rabi concerning that incident: ‘At the end of my third year in high school, Ma and Aunt Revati invited a large group of neighbors and relatives to join us in a special puja in our home. Those arriving approached to make their respectful bows and to reminisce a bit upon my father’s greatness. Their comments, overheard here and there as the room filled, bore out the admiration I read in their appraising eyes. I was a Yogi who would bring fame to our town, a guru who would one day have many, many followers. My inner conflicts were forgotten in the sheer pleasure of being worshiped. Although I was not quite 15, I knew that already I had attained a status among Hindus that was the envy of some pundits. It gave me a good, honest feeling to know that I was not among the hypocrites my Uncle Deonarine despised. Our Baba, Pundit Jankhi Prasad Sharma Maharaj, my spiritual adviser and greatest inspiration, the acknowledged Hindu leader for all of Trinidad, performed the elaborate ceremony. Proudly I assisted. It was a great occasion for me. Fingering a large, fragrant garland of flowers around my neck, I stood near the altar greeting the guests after the ceremony. A neighbor laid several pieces of money one after another at my feet, and bowed to receive my blessing – the Shakti pat that every worshiper craved because of its supernatural effect. I knew her to be a poor widow who earned pitifully little for her long hours of hard labor. The offerings I received at one ceremony would far exceed her wages for a month. The gods had decreed this system of giving to Brahmins, and the Vedas declared it to be of great benefit to the giver, so why should I feel guilty? Uncle Deonarine’s words rose vividly before me in all their venom: ‘It’s a business with all of them; they do nothing without pay … mainly from the poor!’ I glanced at her small offering of coins uncomfortably. Of course I had much to give her in exchange. Reaching out to touch her forehead in bestowal of my blessing, I was startled by a voice of unmistakable omnipotent authority: ‘You are not God, Rabi!’ My arm froze in midair. ‘You … are … not … God!’ The words smote me like the slash of a cutlass felling the tall green cane. Instinctively I knew that the true God, the Creator of all, had spoken these words, and I began to tremble. It was a fraud, a blatant deception to pretend to bless this bowing woman. I pulled back my hand, acutely aware that many eyes were watching and wondering. I felt that I must fall at the holy feet of the true God and ask his forgiveness – but how could I explain that to all these people!’ Abruptly I turned and pushed my way through the crowd, leaving that poor woman staring after me in bewilderment. Inside my room, I locked the door, tore the garland of flowers from around my neck with trembling fingers, flung it to the floor, and fell across my bed, sobbing’ (ibid., pages 107-108)
Rabi wanted to tell this God that he was sorry for the way he had treated many people, and most of all sorry for the way he had robbed Him by taking to himself the worship of men that only He deserved. But he did not know how to address Him, and believed that surely there could be no forgiveness anyway. The law of Karma would repay him what was due. He thought that a crime such he had committed would make a disaster of his next reincarnation, it might be thousands of rebirths before he reached the Brahmin caste again – even millions. Rabi says at this point: ‘As horrible as my future seemed, facing the present was even more painful. I could never again accept the worship of another human being, yet it was expected of me. How could I avoid it? And how could I ever find the courage to admit to those who had put me on a pedestal that I was a thief who had stolen the glory that belonged only to One who was above us all? There was no way that I could ever leave my room to face the Hindu community again. They would not believe me if I tried to tell them that no man is God or worthy to be worshiped. And how could I tell them what I knew to be the miserable truth about myself? The shame would be too great! But I could not continue to live a lie, either. There seemed only one escape – to commit suicide. Again and again I came back to this horrible alternative that now seemed the only way out. How this would affect my next life I could only guess, but I feared the present even more. Day after agonizing day I remained in my room without eating or drinking – pacing the floor, wringing my hands, falling exhausted on the bed for snatches of fitful sleep, only to pace the floor once again or to sit on the edge of the bed, head in hands. At times I wept, wishing I had never been born, beginning to pity myself. So much had gone wrong for me. I had missed the love and tender care of parents. My father had never spoken to me and had died when I was young. I hadn’t seen my mother in eight years. I had lost my grandparents – all except Nanee. And I had once felt proud that my karma was so good! But why should it be so bad? It was unfair to punish me for past lives when I could not remember one single incident from any of them, although I had tried and even at times pretended that I could. During those long, lonely hours I went back over the life that I could remember and wondered at my blindness. How could a cow or a snake – or even I – be God? How could the creation create itself? How could everything be of the same Divine Essence? That denied the essential difference between a person and a thing, a difference I knew was there, no matter what Lord Krishna and the Vedas said. If I were of the same essence as a sugarcane, then essentially there was no difference between me and sugarcane – which was absurd. This unity of all things that I had experienced in meditation now appeared preposterous! Pride alone had blinded me. I had wanted so much to be Lord of the universe that I had been willing to believe an obvious lie. What could be more wicked than that? It was hypocrisy of the worst kind! Day after day, I, who had once thought myself on the verge of Self-realization, now groveled in abject self-condemnation. I thought of all the cigarettes I had stolen, the lies I had told, the proud and selfish life I had lived, the hatred in my heart toward my aunt and others. There had been times when I had even wished her dead, yet at the same time I had preached nonviolence. There was no way my good deeds could ever outweigh the bad on any honest scale. I trembled at the thought of reincarnation, certain that my karma would drop me to the bottom of the ladder. How I wished that I could somehow find the true God so that I could tell him how sorry I was – yet what was the point of it, since karma could not be changed? Perhaps he would be merciful. I now feared the astral travel and the spirit visitations I had once exulted in, but I knew no other way to search for God than through Yoga. My religion, my training, my experience in meditation – all had taught me that only by looking within myself could I find truth, so I tried it again. The search within, however, proved futile. Instead of finding God, I only stirred up a nest of evil that made me even more aware of my own heart’s corruption. My misery only became greater, my sense of guilt and shame a burden impossible to bear. If I could not find this God soon, then I must commit suicide, no matter how severe the consequences of that cowardly act upon my future. I could not bear to live any longer without him. I was afraid, however, to take my own life. My next life could well be worse than the present one. The future was all uncertainty and darkness. I had to somehow salvage my sanity in the present. On the fifth day I bathed, ate some breakfast, and returned to my room without speaking to anyone. But I left the door open for the first time. It was a gesture that I hoped the family would understand, a step toward reconciliation, tentative and weak, but the best a very proud and self-righteous person could make without help’ (Ibid., pages 109-111).
After this, a woman of about 18, whose name is Molli, went to visit Rabi in his house to talk with him about her faith in Jesus Christ. This Christian woman told Rabi that God is a God of love, and because he loves men, he wants to draw men close to Him. But there is a hindrance between men and God, that is, sin, that’s the reason why God sent Christ to die for our sins so that through Him men might be forgiven, and if men receive His forgiveness they can know God. There is only one way to be forgiven, that is through Jesus Christ. She told Rabi that she used to do a lot of meditation too, but since she accepted Jesus she had stopped, because Jesus had changed completely her life, Jesus had given her a peace and a joy that she had never known before. The great joy she had was because her sins were forgiven. Rabi was astonished at her words and rejected them because to him there was only one way to God and that way was Hinduism and told Molly with a loud voice: ‘I will never become a Christian – not even on my deathbed! I was born a Hindu, and I will die a Hindu!’. Molly looked at him with compassion and just before leaving him she told him: ‘Before you go to bed tonight, Rabi, please go on your knees and ask God to show you the truth – and I’ll be praying for you! (ibid., page 115). And this is exactly what Rabi did that night, here are his words: ‘I fell to my knees beside the bed, conscious that I was giving in to Molli’s request. Was she praying for me at that very moment? ‘God, the true God and Creator, please show me the truth! Please, God!’ It was not easy to say, but this was my last hope. Something snapped inside me, like a tall bamboo broken by a gale. For the first time in my life, I felt I had really prayed and gotten through – not to some impersonal Force, but to the true God who loves and cares’ (ibid., pages 116-117).
God answered Rabi showing him the way to follow in order to know Him, he confirmed to Rabi what Molli had already told him. God used his cousin Krishna, who had recently become a Christian, in fact it was through him that Rabi was led to Christ. Here are the events: ‘Hey, Rabi!’ said Krishna, coming into the kitchen where I had been conversing with one of my younger aunts while she cooked supper. His manner and the look on his face were so different from what I was used to seeing. He seemed pleased to have found me. ‘Did you know that you’ve got to be born again to get into heaven?’ he asked.
I started to say: ‘Of course. I’m going to be born again into a cow. That’s my heaven!’ But Krishna’s earnest expression made me swallow my sarcasm. ‘What makes you say that?’’ I asked skeptically. I noticed that he had a small black book in his hand and was turning the pages as though he were looking for something.
‘It says so in the Bible. Let me show you’. He continued turning the pages slowly, like one exploring unfamiliar territory. ‘Mark …. Luke … John. Here it is, in chapter 3: Listen to this! ‘Jesus answered and said unto him: Verily, verily, I say unto thee, Except a man be born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God’. What do you think of that?’
I didn’t know what to think. Could this be the same Jesus that my mother had told me about long years ago, the same one Molli claimed was the true God who had died for my sins? He must be!
‘Let me see that!’ I said, feeling excited now.
Krishna held the little book out to me so I could read it myself – and as I read I understood at last what I had been struggling to grasp for the three weeks since Molli had talked to me. My world had been falling apart, but now everything seemed to fall into place. To be ‘born again’! Yes, that was what I needed. I knew exactly what Jesus meant. He was talking not about reincarnation but about a spiritual birth that would make Nicodemus into a new person on the inside instead of just giving him a new body.
Now I was really excited. Why had I never understood this before? What good would a thousand physical births do? Reincarnation could give me a new body, but that wasn’t what I needed. I could not imagine a physical birth better than my present one. I had been born into the highest caste, into a wealthy family, the son of a Yogi, given all the advantages of education and religious training, and yet I had failed. It was folly to think that I would improve by coming back into this world in different bodies again and again!
Each New Year’s Eve, like everyone else, I would make my New Year’s resolutions. Always at the top of the list was to resolve to stop smoking. My cough had gotten worse, yet I couldn’t quit. I would begin each January with a fresh determination to make the coming year an improvement over the last. But by the second day of January I was always back to the old habits again. And it wouldn’t be many more days before my ungovernable temper had exploded anew – often just after I had spent an hour or two seeking peace in meditation. There was something wrong with me that changing the body I lived in would never solve.
Wonderful as it would be if God really could forgive me, I had begun to long for more than forgiveness. Since asking God to show me the truth, I had gradually seen myself in a new light. The world had always revolved around me. I had expected everyone to adjust their way of life to my desires and to treat me like a god. I was a spoiled tyrant, but I certainly wasn’t God! Nor would I ever be. It had been a relief to admit it. I no longer wanted to be God. But I didn’t want to remain the way I now saw myself. I wanted to become a new person. If Christ couldn’t change me completely, then I didn’t care to have his forgiveness.
In the past I had sought mystical experiences as an escape from the daily life which Hindu philosophy called maya – an illusion. Now I wanted the power to face life, to live the life God had planned for me. I wanted to experience a deep change in what I was, not merely the superficial peace I felt during meditation but which left me the moment I lost my temper. I needed to be born again – spiritually, not physically’ (ibid., pages. 118-120). Krishna then invited Rabi to go with him to a Christian meeting, and during that meeting Rabi gave his life to Jesus Christ. Here is the description of the meeting he attended and of the moment in which he was born again: ‘There weren’t more than a dozen people present, and the ‘orchestra’ I thought I had heard as we had approached was a very small girl of about six (who I later learned was the pastor’s daughter) standing in front and banging a cheap tambourine. So few people – but what enthusiasm! I had never heard such singing. …… Although I recognized no one, I was sure that everyone would immediately know me. I dreaded what would happen when they told their Hindu neighbors that I had come to a Christian meeting. There was no way to be inconspicuous among such a small audience. Deciding to be brave, I marched up the narrow aisle between the dusty, empty wooden benches, followed closely by Krishna and Ramkair. Out of the corner of my eye I could see heads turning, expressions of surprise, and people nudging one another, but I kept on to the very front bench. A short chorus was being sung over and over with great enthusiasm:
All the way to Calvary he went for me,
He went for me, he went for me.
All the way to Calvary he went for me,
He died to set me free.
Although I had so many, many sins,
Jesus took them all away and he pardoned me.
All the way to Calvary he went for me,
He died to set me free.
It was the first Christian song I had ever paid attention to. ‘Calvary’ was apparently where Jesus had died for the sins of the world, and for my sins, too. So it is a real place! I thought. And such feeling in their singing – they must love Jesus very much for dying for them!
The little girl smiled at us shyly as she continued to bang away with her tambourine. The small audience sang the words over and over again. It surprised me when I realized that the three of us had joined in the singing, caught up in the enthusiasm. It was not unusual to sing at Hindu ceremonies, but never with the joy and exuberance of these Christians. The small song leader held up her tambourine. There was a momentary pause; then she hit her hand with it again and a new chorus had started. Over and over the words were repeated, and soon I had joined in once more. It was hard not to be enthusiastic if what this song said was true!
Wonderful, wonderful, Jesus is to me!
Counselor, mighty God, Prince of Peace is he.
Saving me, keeping me from all sin and shame.
Wonderful is my Redeemer – praise his Name!
No one had started to preach, but already I had learned so much. What a contrast between the relationship these Christians had with Jesus and the ritualistic appeasement of the gods at Hindu ceremonies! I had never heard anyone say that a Hindu god was ‘wonderful’ or a ‘counselor’. Certainly no one would sing like that about Shiva, about Kali, his bloodthirsty wife, or about their favorite son, Ganesha, half-elephant and half-human! And they called Jesus the Prince of Peace! No wonder Molli said she didn’t need to do Yoga anymore to achieve peace. The words of that simple chorus were burning themselves into my heart. Jesus would not only save, but he would keep me from all sin and shame. What good news! These people must have found it to be true or they wouldn’t be singing with such enthusiastic joy. While we sang several choruses a few other people came in, swelling the audience to about 15. At last the little girl sat down, and a young man I hadn’t noticed when we came in walked to the front. ‘We welcome all of you here this evening to our gospel meeting’, he said with a smile. ‘Please turn in your hymn sheets to number ten’. It was the last one on the sheet. I could hardly believe my eyes. I remembered him as one of the worst rowdies from my primary school days – and a Muslim, at that – whom I had intensely disliked. How different he seemed now! And the hymn he had asked us to sing astounded me, especially the chorus:
Sunlight, sunlight, in my soul today;
Sunlight, sunlight, all along the way.
Since my Savior found me, took away my sin,
I have had the sunlight of his love within.
What a profound effect those simple words had upon me! Worshiping the sun up in the sky for an hour each day, I had remained dark and cold inside. But these people were singing about sunlight in their souls. And it was a sunlight of love! I could hardly contain my wonder and excitement. The sunlight of his love within. Well, I didn’t have any love to sing about. I hated so many people, in spite of my diligent practice of religion. I knew that many Hindu holy men nursed a great deal of resentment and hatred in their hearts. There was a lot of jealousy between the pundits, who often hated each other with a passion. Certainly Hindus hated the Muslims and had slaughtered hundreds of thousands of them in India before and after Independence. But these Christians were singing about Jesus’ love being in them, a love so pure and bright and real – not just an idea – that they described it as being like sunlight in their souls. Well, I wanted to have that love in my soul, too!
After a few more hymns, the preacher, Abdul Hamid, came to the front and an offering plate was passed around. I dropped in a penny and heard a few more coins falling in as the plate moved through the small audience. How pitiful, I thought, compared to the huge offerings I’ve gathered at pujas. The preacher will be indignant!
How mistaken I was! When those few coins were brought up to the front, Abdul Hamid closed his eyes and began to pray: ‘We thank you, heavenly Father, with our whole hearts for this blessing we receive gratefully from you. Help us to use it prayerfully and carefully in your service and to your glory. In Jesus’s name we pray. Amen.’
I almost laughed at the thought of using those few coins ‘prayerfully and carefully’. What pundit would ever think of using a puja offering or any of his fees to the glory of Hanuman or any other god? He would do whatever he wanted with it. How greedy and selfish I had been with the offerings laid at my feet! Ramkair whispered to me and Krishna that the preacher, who had a wife and three children, had given up his teaching position and a good salary to be an unpaid pastor. It was more than I could comprehend.
Taken from Psalm 23, the sermon was very simple yet profound. It was delivered with deep conviction and a spiritual power that I had never experienced before. Every word seemed to apply specifically to me. I wondered how this man knew my inner struggles, the question that had bothered me, the very thoughts I had been thinking, the deep conflicts I had experienced. Surely he hadn’t known I was coming!
“The Lord is my Shepherd; I shall not want”. Something within me leaped at those words. I knew with an inner certainty that the true God and Shepherd was calling me, wanting to make me one of his sheep. But another voice fought and argued against all the preacher said. It warned me that I would lose everything and reminded me of the prestige and honor I could have as a great pundit like Jankhi Prasad Sharma Maharaj. My mother’s heart would be broken! How could I bring disgrace upon my father’s good name? The two voices argued, but the voice drawing me to the Good Shepherd spoke with love, while the other voice spoke harshly, with cunning and threats. Truly this Shepherd that the psalmist described was the God I had been searching for! Even if I lost everything else, what would it matter? If I let the Creator become my Shepherd, then what else could I want? If he was mighty enough to create the whole universe, surely he could care for me.
“He leadeth me in the paths of righteousness for his name’s sake”. How guilty I felt, and how futile all my efforts had been to make myself morally clean! After thousands of holy baths, I was still sinful on the inside. But this God promised to lead me into righteousness, not so that I could boast of my own goodness, or improve my karma so I could have a better reincarnation; he would forgive me so that I could belong to him, even though I didn’t deserve it, and then he would help me to live the life he had planned for me. It would be his righteousness, given to me as a gift, if I would receive it. Slowly the wonder of God’s grace, so unlike anything I had ever heard, became believable.
“Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil, for thou art with me”. In spite of the old English this was plain enough. I would be set free from the fears I had lived with all of my life – fear of the spirits that haunted our family, fear of the evil forces exerting their influence in my life, fear of what Shiva and the other gods would do if I didn’t constantly appease them. If this God were my Shepherd, I need have no fear because he would be with me, protecting me, giving me his peace.
“Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life, and I will dwell in the house of the Lord forever.” The preacher said this meant being in heaven in the presence of God. Well, that was far better than Self-realization!
“The Lord Jesus Christ wants to be your Shepherd. Have you heard his voice speaking to your heart? After his resurrection Jesus said: “Behold, I stand at the door and knock” – this is the door of your heart – “if any man hear my voice, and open the door, I will come in to him, and will sup with him”. Why not open your heart to him now? Don’t wait until tomorrow – that may be too late!’ The preacher seemed to be speaking directly to me. I could delay no longer!
Resolving the battle that had been raging within me, I rose from my seat and went quickly to kneel at the front. The pastor smiled at me and asked if anyone else wanted to receive Jesus. No one stirred. Then he asked the Christians to come forward and pray with me. Several did, kneeling beside me. For years Hindus had bowed before me – but now I was bowing before Christ!
‘You’re not coming to me,’ he said, ‘but to Jesus. He is the only one who can forgive you and cleanse you and change your life and bring you into a living relationship with the living God’. I understood that without any explanation. I was kneeling there to let him show me how to receive this Jesus he had been talking about.
Aloud I repeated after him a prayer inviting Jesus into my heart – except for the words ‘and make me a Christian’. I wanted Jesus, but not that. I didn’t yet understand that inviting Jesus into my heart made me a Christian and that no one can become a real Christian in any other way.
When Mr. Hamid said: ‘Amen,’ he suggested that I might want to pray in my own words. Quietly, choking with emotion, I began: ‘Lord Jesus, I’ve never studied the Bible and don’t know what it’s all about, but I’ve heard that you died for my sins at Calvary so I could be forgiven and reconciled to God. Thank you for dying for my sins and for coming into my heart and forgiving me! I want to be a new and changed person!’
I wept tears of repentance for the way I had lived; for the anger and hatred and selfishness and pride, for the idols I had served, for accepting the worship that belonged to God alone, and for imagining that he was like a cow or a star or a man. I prayed for several minutes – and before I finished I knew that Jesus wasn’t just another one of several million gods. He was in fact the God for whom I had hungered. I had met Jesus by faith and discovered that he himself was the Creator. Yet he loved me enough to become a man for my sake and to die for my sins. With that realization, tons of darkness seemed to lift and a brilliant light flooded my soul. The ‘sunlight of his love’ had come to shine in my heart too!
Astral travel to other planets, unearthly music and psychedelic colors, Yogic visions and higher states of consciousness in deep meditation – all these things, once so thrilling and self-exalting, had become dust and ashes. What I was experiencing now was not just another psychic trip. I was sure of that. Molli had said that Jesus would prove himself. At last I knew what she had meant. He had come to live in me. I knew he had taken my sins away. I knew he had made me a new person on the inside. Never had I been so genuinely happy. Tears of repentance turned to tears of joy. For the first time in my life I knew what real peace was. That wretched, unhappy, miserable feeling left me. I was in communion with God and I knew it. I was one of God’s children now. I had been born again.
The small congregation began to sing: ‘Just as I am, without one plea, but that thy blood was shed for me; and that thou bidst me come to thee, O Lamb of God, I come, I come’. I stayed on my knees listening to each word, filled with gratitude to God for his forgiveness, amazed that this song expressed exactly the way I felt. The writer must have experienced this same release from guilt. From that word ‘Lamb’ I understood immediately that Jesus was gentle, kind, and loving. I remembered what Molli had said about the love of Jesus. That love was now flooding my soul.
All my pride in being a Brahmin had vanished. It had taken a lot of humility for a high-caste Hindu to kneel down on that dusty floor in front of those Christians, but that was just the beginning of a new realization of how small I was and how great was my God. I discovered that humility wasn’t demeaning and didn’t cause me to hate or look down upon myself. It was simply admitting the truth that I was completely dependent upon my Creator for everything. That confession opened the door to a whole new life in Jesus.
With tears of joy and happy smiles, the small congregation crowded around to shake my hand warmly, welcoming me into God’s family. I had never felt such joy and love from other human beings or such a sense of belonging, not even among my own relatives. Imagine my joy when Shanti came up to greet me, bursting with joy! She had come in sometime after we had entered, and I hadn’t known she was there. ‘Rab!’ she said warmly. ‘I’m so happy you’ve accepted Jesus into your life! It’s the best thing you’ve ever done!’ We had been close friends, but now I sensed a new relationship between us. She was in God’s family too!’ (Ibid., pages 124-131).
Now, let’s read what happened after that meeting in the life of Rabi and of some of his relatives.
‘On the way home, the tall cane pressing in on each side of the road, leaves shimmering in the pale moonlight, seemed almost to dance in the ocean breeze. And the stars! I could not remember their being so bright! I had always loved nature, but now it seemed ten times more beautiful than ever before. Once I had worshiped the heavenly bodies, but now I saw them in a different light. They had been made by this God whom I had just come to know, and I reveled in appreciation of the Creator’s power, artistry, and wisdom. I just wanted to worship him forever, to tell him how grateful I was for life itself. Now I no longer wished I had never been born. I was happy to be alive – and alive forever! The three of us had a joyous time as we walked, singing the choruses we had learned that night and discussing the meaning of Christian terms and Bible verses that were so new to me.
Arriving home at last, Krishna and I found the entire family – except Deonarine and his wife – gathered in the sitting room waiting up for us, apparently having heard what had happened from Shanti, who had already arrived by car. I had been afraid of being seen at that meeting, but all fear had left me when Jesus came into my heart. I couldn’t keep such good news to myself. I wanted everyone to know my Lord.
‘I asked Jesus to come into my life tonight!’ I exclaimed happily, as I looked from one to another of those startled faces. ‘It’s glorious. I can’t tell you how much he means to me already. I know he’s made a new person out of me’.
‘I couldn’t believe it, Rabi, but now I’ve heard it from you’, said Aunt Revati in a choked voice. ‘What is your mother going to say about this? She’ll be shocked’. She walked abruptly from the room, but without the display of anger I had expected. Instead she seemed wounded and bewildered.
How sorry I was that Aunt Revati hadn’t given me a chance to explain. I had a new love for her and wanted her to know the peace I had found. And Ma – what would be her reaction? I looked over at her, and to my surprise I saw that she was beaming.
‘You’ve done the best thing, Rabi!’ she exclaimed happily. ‘I want to follow Jesus, too!’
I ran to Ma and put my arms around her. ‘I’m sorry for the way I’ve acted – please forgive me!’ She nodded, too overcome to speak.
Shanti could no longer hold back her secret. ‘I gave my heart to Jesus too, a few days ago!’ she told us, wiping tears of joy from her eyes.
We sat talking excitedly for a long time, sharing the new love we had for one another in Christ. Ma told me how Shanti had slipped away to that meeting in Roueva a few nights before and had been caught by Aunt Revati climbing in a window when she came home. Uncle Deonarine had given her a good thrashing. I told Ma about the sermon, and she said that Psalm 23 had been her favorite and that she had read many of the Psalms before Nana had destroyed her Bibles. At last, reluctantly, we said our good nights.
Before going to bed I destroyed my secret cache of cigarettes. All desire for them had left me. At my first opportunity the next day, I apologized to Aunt Revati for the way I had so often treated her. She didn’t know how to react. This was not the Rabi she had known for so many years, I could see the uncertainty in her eyes and felt sorry for her. She looked so miserable. How well I understood the struggle going on in her heart.
Uncle Deonarine was in the yard polishing his car – the one I had blessed – when I found him. It was not easy to face him, and I hesitated to say bluntly that I was a Christian. I walked over to him and said: ‘Uncle Deonarine, I’ve received the Holy Spirit into my life’.
He straightened up and faced me with a look of astonishment mingled with firm rebuke. ‘Your father was a great Hindu and your mother is a great Hindu’ he said sternly. ‘She would be most displeased to think you were becoming a Christian. You’d better think twice about what you’re doing! You may be making a very serious mistake!’
‘I know what you mean’, I replied, ‘but, I have already carefully counted the cost’.
Krishna was able to talk to his mother as none of the rest of us could, and he discovered that she had been disillusioned with her religious rituals for years but was afraid to show it. He gave her the address of a church in a large town far enough away for her to go there unrecognized. The following Sunday Aunt Revati went there alone, though hesitantly. When she returned late that evening, those of us who had already become Christians were waiting up for her, believing that our prayers had been answered. No one needed to ask what had happened – the expression on her face told it all.
She and Ma hugged each other and cried and cried. Then Aunt Revati straightened up, wiped her eyes, and looked at me. ‘Rabi!’ We held one another in a long embrace, tears running down our cheeks, the hatred and bitterness between us gone forever.
The following day I walked resolutely into the prayer room with Krishna. Together we began to carry everything out into the yard: the Shiva lingam and the other idols of wood and clay and brass that we had called gods; the Hindu scriptures, volumes of them, wrapped in their sacred cloths; all manner of religious paraphernalia used in the ceremonies. Until Aunt Revati had become a Christian too, I had not felt free to do this. Now we were all united in the one desire to rid ourselves of every tie with the past and with the powers of darkness that had blinded and enslaved us for so long. Others joined us, and together we carried out the huge altar. When the prayer room was completely empty, we swept it clean. Going carefully through the house, we searched out every charm, amulet, fetish, religious picture, and artifact, throwing them all on the rubbish heap behind the garden. Uncle Deonarine was informed by his wife, a proud Brahmin who had watched in a state of shock, stunned by what we were doing. Everyone else was in accord. Altogether, thirteen of us had opened our hearts to Christ and knew that our sins were forgiven – ten in our own household and three other cousins.
Joyful in our new freedom from the fear that had once bound us, Krishna and I smashed the idols and religious pictures, including those of Shiva. A few days earlier I wouldn’t have dared even to think of doing that, fearful of being killed by the Destroyer immediately, but the iron grip of terror that had held me for so long had been broken by the power of Jesus. No one had told us what to do. Our eyes had been opened by the Lord. We knew that there was no compromise, no possible blending of Hinduism and true Christianity. They were diametrically opposed. One was darkness, the other light. One represented the many roads that all lead to the same destruction; the other was, as Jesus had said, the narrow road to eternal life.
When everything had been piled on the rubbish heap, we set it on fire and watched the flames consume our past. The tiny figures we had once feared as gods were soon turning to ashes. The evil powers could terrorize us no longer. We rejoiced with one another and offered thanks to the Son of God who had died in order to set us free. As we sang and prayed and praised the true God together, we could see that new freedom and joy shining in each other’s faces. What an unforgettable day!
Pushing the dying embers together, determined to see the past consumed, I found my thoughts going back to my father’s cremation nearly eight years before. In contrast to our newfound joy, that scene had aroused wailing cries of inconsolable grief as my father’s body had been offered to the very same false gods who now lay in smoldering fragments before me. I thought of the intervening years and of my resolve to be just like my father. It seemed unbelievable that I should be participating with great joy in the utter destruction of that which represented all I had once believed in so fanatically. Indeed, all that I had lived for was going up in flames – and I praised God!
In a sense this was my cremation ceremony – the end of the person I had once been …. the death of a guru. In the few days since my spiritual rebirth, I had begun to understand that being ‘born again’ really involved – through Christ’s death and resurrection for me – the death of my old self and the resurrection of a new person.
The old Rabi Maharaj had died in Christ. And out of that grave a new Rabi had risen in whom Christ was now living.
How wonderfully different from reincarnation was resurrection! The slate was wiped clean, and I eagerly looked forward to the new life I had begun in Jesus, my Lord.
What a transformation had taken place in our family! Instead of quarrelling and bitterness, we now had harmony and joy. The difference Christ had made was so great that it caused daily astonishment to each of us. The hatred that had burned for years between me and my aunt seemed like a nightmare from which we had both awakened. The religion we had once practiced so zealously had actually increased the antagonism between us – in the midst of a family puja Aunt Revati had once even thrown a brass lota filled with holy water at me. But Christ had changed us both. Now we loved one another very much. She was like a mother to me once again, but in a new way, and her son, Krishna, whom I had also hated, was closer to me than a brother. Indeed, we were brothers in Christ. The past was gone, consumed as surely as the idols that had been burned to ashes on the rubbish heap.
God’s grace had made the difference. As Hindus we had no concept of forgiveness, because there is no forgiveness in karma, and therefore we could not forgive one another. But because God had forgiven us through Christ, we could now also forgive each other. We learned that Christ had taught that those who would not forgive others from their hearts would not be forgiven by the Father. But he had put that spirit of forgiving love in our hearts, and I could never again hold a grudge against anyone. Words that we had not been able to speak with sincerity before – ‘I’m sorry’ and ‘I forgive you’ – were now heard in our home whenever they were needed, and therefore the joy in our hearts was able to grow.
Miracle of miracles, I began actually to take delight in helping around the house! We teenagers all pitched in and pulled weeds, watered plants, cultivated flower beds, and raked leaves. Under the wondering gaze of the neighbors the yard took on a new look. No one could miss this transformation!
There was another change that was not visible from the outside, but which meant even more to us. The haunting footsteps that we had thought came from Nana’s spirit [my note: Rabi’s grandfather who was involved in occultism before he died] were no longer heard storming up and down the attic or stamping outside our bedrooms at night. The peculiarly disagreeable odor that had often accompanied these phenomena and that we had never been able to trace had disappeared, never to return. And no longer were objects suddenly moved by some invisible force off the sink or a table or out of a cupboard to crash to the floor. We understood at last that the cause of all of these things had not been Nana’s spirit, as we had supposed, but spirit beings the Bible called ‘demons’ – angels who had rebelled with Satan against God and were trying to confuse and to deceive men into joining their rebellion. They were the real power behind the idols and every philosophy that denied the true God his rightful place as Creator and Lord. I now understood that these were the beings I had met in Yogic trance and deep meditation, masquerading as Shiva or some other Hindu deity.
Reading the New Testament, the pieces of the puzzle – who I was, why I existed, and the destiny that God had planned for me – began to fall into place, and an orderly answer to so many questions took shape. On my knees I would ask God to reveal the meaning of Scripture; then I would reach each verse slowly, digesting it and trusting the Holy Spirit to give me understanding. I spent hours each day in prayer and reading God’s Word – hours that I once had given to the worship of the sun, the cow, the helpless idols on the altar, and to Yoga and meditation. In this careful way I read through the New Testament again and again. I read the Old Testament, too, and discovered that the Bible was not a book of mystical, vague, and contradictory ‘ancient wisdom’ or myths about make-believe gods like Rama and Krishna who, if they ever existed, were ordinary men to whom divinity had been ascribed. On the contrary, with literally tons of irrefutable evidence authenticating it in the world’s great museums, the Bible was historical – about real people like Abraham, Daniel, Peter, and Paul, who came to know God, and about real nations like Israel, Egypt, Greece, and Rome. I saw that God, the Creator, had a purpose for all men. He was the God of history and he was still working in the lives of men and the affairs of nations. The Bible also revealed what God was yet to do in bringing history to its climax – and I began to see current events, especially the fulfillment of prophecy unfolding in the Middle East, in a new light. Our family had some exciting times as we began to share with each other what we were learning from God’s Word.
Ma read the Bible with a simple, childlike faith. If this Holy Book inspired by God made a promise to her, Ma believed it and acted upon it. It was that simple. Jesus had healed the sick, and Ma could see no reason why he wouldn’t also heal her. ‘You are so real to me, Lord!’ she told him. ‘Long ago you did these wonderful miracles, and you are still alive today. I would like to walk again. Thank you, Lord’. She was sure he would heal her.
Gradually the miracle took place. Daily we saw an improvement. She grew stronger, began to stand a little, then to take hesitant steps holding onto furniture. Within a few weeks she was moving around in the kitchen, helping to prepare the meals, and soon after that she could climb up and down the stairs outside and walk around in the yard to get a closer look at the birds and flowers she had always admired from her window. ‘Praise the Lord!’ she exclaimed again and again. ‘What the best medical experts and highest-paid Hindu healers could not do, Jesus, who is still alive today, has done!’.
Before her healing, Ma could not kneel at all. But kneecaps that seemed to have dissolved over the years were miraculously restored, and now she began to spend at least five hours a day on her knees in prayer. She seemed to have a special ministry of intercession, praying for the rest of the family, for our neighbors, and for relatives, that they might know Christ and have fellowship with the living God. Although she was over 70 years of age, Ma would rise at about 6 A.M., and at 11 A.M. she would still be on her knees in prayer, having taken no time out for breakfast. When at last she emerged from her room, there was a glow on her face and everyone knew that she had been with Jesus.
Rumors spread swiftly through our town and beyond. At first few could believe that we had really become Christians. It was far easier to imagine that we had all gone mad. Visitors came in a steady stream to check out the rumors for themselves. Some argued heatedly. Others seemed too stunned to say much, after hearing the story from our own lips, and left in a state of shock. But surprise and shock soon turned to active hatred and opposition. Those who had once bowed before me and addressed me reverently now sneered when they saw me and shouted nasty names. They were outraged that we had destroyed our idols. We tried, in a kind way, to explain the impotence of these false gods to help us, and to tell them of the true God who had come as a man to die for our sins. At first neighbors and relatives steadfastly refused to accept the forgiveness God offers through Christ. I understood exactly how they felt. Nothing could persuade them until truth meant more to them than tradition.
Through Molli’s investigation we learned that there was a small group of Christians meeting in our own town. The following Sunday I set out joyfully on the short walk to this tiny fellowship that met under a house that was raised on stilts just high enough to provide a low-ceilinged shelter from the blazing sun and sudden rainsqualls.
‘All-you, come and see Jesus Christ heself! Look, he passin’by’ a neighbor woman yelled as I walked past.
‘I’m not Jesus Christ’, I replied with a smile, ‘but I’m glad to be one of his followers’.
The little church that met under the house was made up of a mere handful of Christians: a few low-caste East Indian families and several blacks, none of whom I would have associated with as a Hindu. But what a warm welcome they gave us! How strange it seemed, and yet how wonderful, to throw my arms around those whom I had once despised and even hated. Now I loved them with the love of Christ my Lord and embraced them as brothers and sisters. I had been delivered from the caste distinctions that lie at the very heart of the religion I had so zealously practiced and that cannot be eradicated from the Hindu mind. Following logically from karma and reincarnation, caste provides the many levels through which one must climb in one’s upward evolution to God. The higher states of consciousness sought in meditation are subtle extensions of the caste system. Once it had seemed so divine, but now I saw caste as a great evil that erected cruel barriers between human beings, giving to some people a mythical superiority while condemning others to be despised and isolated.
During the Christmas vacation, my father’s brother, Ramchand, invited me to spend some time with his family, where I had spent so many happy holidays. As soon as I arrived he lost no time in beginning to reason with me very earnestly.
‘Well, Rabi, I have heard some strange things about you. You know full well the life your father lived. He set the very highest Hindu standard. Your mother is also a most holy woman and extremely devoted to our great religion’. In his mind I was still a Hindu.
I nodded solemnly, appreciating this concern for me. Did he remember how upset I had been to learn that he ate meat? Since becoming a Christian I had found my new diet, which now included eggs and a small amount of meat, beneficial. I had been very sickly before, suffering from a lack of protein. For my uncle, however, to eat meat was to deny one of the most important tenets of his religion – that unity of all things that gives sacredness even to the lowest forms of life. To eat an animal was like eating a human. He was chiding me for turning away from the religion he didn’t fully follow himself.
‘You know’, he continued, ‘that Hindus for miles around look up to our family. Everyone knows how faithfully you have observed our dietary laws. You can’t afford to make a mistake like this and lose everything you have worked so hard for!’
‘But I believe that Jesus is the only true God, the Savior, who died for our sins’. I spoke softly and respectfully, wishing so much not to offend him. I loved him very much.
Reverently Uncle Ramchand took the Bhagavad-Gita down from its high shelf and unwrapped it carefully from its saffron cloth. ‘Listen to what Krishna says in chapter 4: ‘Whenever there is decay of righteousness …. then I myself come forth; for the protection of the good, for the destruction of sinners, I am born from age to age’. He read the words slowly, watching my reaction closely.
‘It is clear that Krishna came back once as Jesus’, he continued. ‘Every Hindu who knows about him believes that Jesus is one of the gods. You don’t have to become a Christian because you believe that Jesus is a god. That is for people who were born Christians – but you were born a Hindu. Whatever you believe, don’t change your religion. You must always remain a Hindu’.
‘Well, I can’t agree with that’ I said firmly but politely. ‘Jesus said that he is the way, not a way; so that eliminates Krishna and everyone else. He did not come to destroy sinners – like Krishna said of himself – but to save them. And no one else could, Jesus is not just one of many gods. He is the only true God, and he came to this earth as a man, not just to show us how to live but to die for our sins. Krishna never did that. And Jesus was resurrected, which never happened to Krishna or Rama or Shiva – in fact, they never existed. Furthermore, I don’t believe in reincarnation, because the Bible says that ‘it is appointed unto men once to die, but after this the judgment’.
My aunt was listening sadly, barely able to restrain herself from crying. Uncle Ramchand looked so disappointed. He was a very sincere and kind man. I respected him very much. But there was no way to get him to consider the evidence and to look at Hinduism logically or to admit its inconsistencies. His great concern was that I must not violate a tradition that I had been born into. He would not care if I added Jesus to my list of gods, or even if I were an atheist who believed in no gods – just so long as I still called myself a Hindu. But to me it was a matter of truth, not tradition. After about an hour it became clear that further discussion was useless. By mutual consent I returned home that same day.
Gosine could not accept the fact that I had become a Christian. Like Ramchand, he also believed that Jesus was just one more god among millions, another way that would eventually lead to Brahman. ‘What I go tell you, Bhai!’ he said to me more than once. ‘All the roads does lead to the same place!’ I tried to reason with him, to explain that I was not going to the ‘same place’ he was. Jesus had told the Jews to believe in him: otherwise ‘ye shall die in your sins: whither I go ye cannot come’. But it was no use. Gosine was not going to change his beliefs, no matter what evidence I presented. We could no longer communicate, and it saddened me very much.
Of course it was inevitable that our dear friend Pundit Jankhi Prasad Sharma Maharaj should drop in to check out the rumors and to try to persuade us to give up this madness called Christianity. Glancing around as soon as he entered, Baba noticed sadly that the pantheon of Hindu deities which had hung for years in numerous pictures on our walls was missing. He eased himself into the chair we offered, took a deep breath, and let out a long sigh.
‘I cannot understand it’, he began sadly. ‘Why should people tell these lies about you? They have said that you are all Christians now’. Tears came to Baba’s eyes. ‘I don’t believe it!’ he declared vehemently. ‘Tell me, why are people saying such things?’ Deep concern was written on the face of this gracious old man whom we all loved so much.
‘But it is true, Baba’, said Aunt Revati in Hindi.
He turned to me, such sorrow in his eyes. ‘Your father – what would he think? And you, Rabindranath Ji … I don’t believe it! Who has offended you? I know that sometimes the pundits are not all honest. Tell me what is the matter?’
‘No one has offended us, Baba’, I replied quickly. ‘We have discovered that Jesus is the truth, and he has given us forgiveness and real peace. He loves you, too, and died for your sins. You too can find salvation in him’.
How puzzled he looked, as though forgiveness was a concept that he found impossible to understand, as it had been for me. He seemed embarrassed, not knowing what to say. Looking over at Kumar, he asked in bewilderment, ‘And you too?’
Kumar had recently come home from England unannounced, surprising us most of all when he told us he had become a Christian.
‘Baba’, said Kumar respectfully, ‘you know very well that I was a hopeless alcoholic when I left Trinidad three years ago. There was nothing the Hindu gods could do for me. Karma could only drop me lower in my next reincarnation. You know, too, that many pundits are in the same condition and that practicing their religion doesn’t help them. I had hoped to make a fresh start in London. Imagine my fears when a former drinking companion from Trinidad visited me there. The moment I saw him, however, I could see that he was a different person. He told me he had become a Christian. ‘Christ has set me free from alcohol’, he said. That sounded too good to be true. And besides, I wanted nothing to do with his religion. ‘You were always a Christian,’. I reminded him. But he explained to me that there are many people who call themselves Christians because they belong to a church, but they have never met Christ and are not really his followers.
‘Well,’ continued Uncle Kumar, ‘now I was more afraid of his Christianity than I had been of his drinking, but I decided to be polite and show him around London. Since he is one of the greatest orators in Trinidad, I took him first of all to Speakers’ Corner in Hyde Park. We were going from group to group listening when we came to a young man talking about Christ. Something told me that he was speaking the truth. I knew it, but I didn’t want to listen. I went back to my apartment, but I couldn’t forget the things that my friend and this young man had said. I fell to my knees in my bedroom and asked Christ to forgive my sins and to come into my heart as my Lord and Savior. I tell you gladly, Baba, that Jesus has given me complete peace and made me a new man. You remember how Ma used to complain to you about my drinking and how I squandered thousands of dollars on whisky? Now I have no desire for alcohol’.
Incredulous, Baba stared in wide-eyed wonder at his changed friend. Seeing that he was speechless, Aunt Revati leaned forward and spoke with great earnestness, looking into the old man’s face.
‘Baba, let me tell you what happened to me. I was in the prayer room doing my puja when a voice suddenly told me that all the gods I worshiped were false. Then the voice said, ‘I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man cometh unto the Father but by me’. I knew that was Jesus talking to me. A few days later I surrendered my life to him and he has made me into a new person. The past is gone, my sins are forgiven, and I know that I will be in heaven forever! Listen to what Jesus said: ‘For God so loved the world that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish but have everlasting life’. This salvation is for all castes and for the people of every nation. It is also for you. God will forgive you and give you eternal life, if you will only receive Christ into your heart and trust only in him’.
Baba still seemed too stunned to speak. He looked from one to the other of us, knowing that he had lost his truest disciples. He stood up very slowly, an expression of bitter disappointment on his face. He was very polite, very kind, wanting to remain our friend, but we could see that he was trying to suppress an overwhelming emotion. There was a great sadness in our hearts as we said goodbye to him. I never saw Baba again.
The very people who had bragged about how broadminded Hindus were and who had claimed that Hinduism accepts all religions were the most bitter in denouncing us for becoming the followers of Christ. And the more we listened to those who tried to persuade us to return to the religion of our fathers, the more clearly we saw that loyalty to one’s religion is seldom based upon a desire for truth but is usually an emotional attachment to cultural traditions. Many Hindus recite Sanskrit mantras all their lived without knowing what they mean. Most of the Hindus who came to argue didn’t know why they were Hindus, except through birth, and had almost no grasp of many of the most basic elements of their religion. Our crime was that we had forsaken the religion of our forefathers – and that made any discussion about truth meaningless.
Oddly enough, many Muslims were just as resentful, even though it was not their religion we had left. One Muslim friend yelled at me angrily: ‘I hear you’ve begun to follow that crook Jesus!’ Yet the Koran proclaims that Jesus lived a pure and sinless life.
It was hard, at first, to understand the anger and hatred that the name of Jesus stirred against us in the hearts of those who had formerly been our close friends. Later we read in the Gospels that Jesus had said that his followers would be hated by all men for his sake. Still, it was difficult to understand why anyone would hate Jesus, much less crucify him. He had done nothing but good. But he claimed to be the only way to God, and we soon learned that this angered people because it meant they would have to give up their religious rituals and sacrifices and accept his death alone for their sins. This hatred for Jesus was turned against us, his disciples.
‘You’re a shame and disgrace to the Hindu community! Hypocrites! Traitors!’ The loud voice startled me, and I ran out onto the front veranda to investigate. Krishna and Shanti were already there. A large American car was parked out on the road near our house. There was a loudspeaker on top and a man sitting in the back seat behind his chauffeur talking into a microphone. We recognized him – one of the richest men in Trinidad, a Brahmin and a Hindu leader.
‘You’ve turned your backs on the religion and the gods of your ancestors. That’s the worst thing any Hindu could ever do! You have given up the greatest dharma in the world – the Sanatan dharma! You will have to pay for this!’ Apparently he had carefully prepared his speech, and he continued to read it in an angry voice for several minutes, no doubt encouraged to see our neighbors gathering in the street to listen. Then with a roar the car drove off toward the north.
It finally became too much for Uncle Deonarine and his wife. She had never really gotten along well with most of the other members of the family even before the great change. And now that we had all become Christians, she and Deonarine found living under the same roof with us intolerable, so they moved out.
Taking the bus that distance to school every day was impractical. With Kumar’s help, I found a place to stay with a family near Queen’s Royal College. They were Hindus. The location was convenient, but the quarters were very crowded. There were two small bedrooms and ten of us in the house. The oldest son, who also attended high school, slept with me on the floor of the living room. It was very depressing to be surrounded by idols and pictures of Hindu deities again. These old friends had not yet heard that I had become a Christian. But when day after day I failed to attend the family puja, I had to explain.
‘I’ve become a Christian’, I said one evening.
The family stared at me with unbelieving eyes. The father began to laugh, thinking I was joking. But when he realized I was serious, the anger came, ‘You mean you’ve left the greatest religion in the world to become a Christian, of all things?’’ he said in a mocking tone. ‘Why have you done this?’
‘I was searching for the truth, and I found that Jesus is the truth, the only true God, who died for our sins’.
They worked very hard to win me back. But attitudes changed when it became clear that I was serious about my choice. They would denounce me for being unfaithful to the religion of my ancestors, yet they were selling beef curry in their shop in front of the house – a clear violation of Hinduism. However, I didn’t point that out. The father came home from work drunk nearly every evening. Now his curses, abusing the name of Jesus, were directed against me, and I was allowed no response. He was, however a fairly decent man when sober, and in spite of the family’s hatred of Christians they tried to be hospitable and kind in many ways.
Worse than human hostility was the increasing oppression I felt from demons, who were not inclined at all to kindness. I was surrounded by frightful-looking idols in that house. I knew the real power behind these leering masks and wondered whether I should have agreed to stay in such a home. There had seemed no alternative at the time.
Life had become very difficult again at school also. Having at last earned the respect of my classmates as a Hindu leader, now I was the butt of Jesus jokes. Even the boys I had thought were Christians were now attacking me. It all became so unbearable that one night, feeling the oppression of demonic powers as I lay on the living room floor, I couldn’t go to sleep. ‘Lord’, I cried softly, ‘why does it have to be so difficult to be one of your followers? I love you and have your peace in my heart, but this is almost more than I can bear at school and here in this house. Is this always going to be my lot?’ I fell asleep at last, overcome with sorrow.
At about 2 A.M. I felt someone shaking me. Opening my eyes in surprise, I saw someone clothed in a bright white light standing beside me. Wide awake now, I sat straight up and looked at him. I knew it was Jesus, although he didn’t look quite like any of the pictures I had seen. He held out his hand toward me and said softly: ‘Peace! My peace I give to you!’ With those words he vanished, and the room became dark again. I sat there for a long time making sure that I was really awake. There was no doubt about it. I felt like shouting ‘Hallelujah!’ For a long time I lay with my hands under my head, looking up by faith into heaven, rejoicing in the Lord.
That experience gave me new courage. I had a new assurance that Christ was with me, leading and guiding and caring for me. Of course I had believed this before and had been trusting him, but now I had a deeper confidence that the most difficult circumstances could not shake. That assurance has never left me and never will. ….. (Ibid., pages. 131-146)
Some words concerning Hinduism and their meaning
Avatar – In its broadest sense, the incarnation of any god into any living form. Every species presumably has its own avatars. In the narrower sense, however, an avatar is a reincarnation of Vishnu. Some Hindus hold that Vishnu has been reincarnated innumerable times, while others teach that he has come as an avatar only nine times; as a fish, a tortoise, a man-lion, a boar, and a child-dwarf, and as Rama, Krishna, Buddha, and Christ. The exact role that the avatar plays in bringing salvation to man is not clear, but the avatar is generally considered to function as a guru in each reincarnation. Many orthodox Hindus believe that Kalki, the next avatar after Christ, is due to appear on earth in about 425,000 years. However, there are hundreds of gurus today who are considered by their followers to be avatars.
Bhagavad-Gita – The most popular of the Hindu scriptures, part of the Mahabharata, and the most widely read of any Hindu holy book in the East or West. Known as ‘The Song of the Lord’ and often called ‘the gospel of Hinduism’, the Gita is a dialogue between the warrior Arjuna, who shrinks from killing his relatives in the war he faces, and the avatar-god Krishna, who acts as his charioteer and encourages him to do his duty in battle as a good and brave warrior.
Bliss – The state of being achieved when the illusion of existence apart from Brahman, who is pure existence-knowledge-bliss, has been dispelled through meditation and enlightenment, and all desires have ceased. Since this state is said to be beyond pain or pleasure, Buddha, who was raised a Hindu, thought of it as ‘nothingness,’ which he also called ‘nirvana’.
Brahma – Not to be confused with Brahman, who is all gods in One. Brahma, the Creator, is the first god in the Hindu tri murti. The others are Vishnu, the Preserver, and Shiva, the Destroyer. Supposedly every 4.32 billion years Shiva destroys everything, Brahma creates all again, and Vishnu is reincarnated once more to reveal the path to Brahman. Often depicted as issuing from Vishnu’s navel (which seems to contradict his role as Creator), Brahma is usually shown with four heads and four hands holding sacrificial instruments, prayer beads, and a manuscript.
Brahmacharya – Literally ‘religious living,’ the name given to the first of four stages in the high-caste Hindu’s life. Since this was a time during which sexual abstinence was obligatory, the word also came to be applied to older religious Hindus still living under this vow of celibacy.
Brahman – The ultimate reality: formless, inexpressible, unknowable, and unknowing; neither personal nor impersonal; both Creator and all that is created. Brahman is all and all is Brahman. The ultimate truth and salvation for the Hindu is to ‘realize’ that he is himself Brahman, that he and all the universe are one and the same Being. However, Brahman is not just another name for the God of the Bible but a concept foreign and opposed to the Judeo-Christian God. Brahman is everything and yet nothing; it comprises both good and evil, life and death, health and disease, and even the unreality of maya.
Brahmin – The highest Hindu caste and closest human form to Brahman through thousands of reincarnations, and therefore the intermediary between Brahman and the other castes. One must be a Brahmin to be a priest. This gives the Brahmins great power over the other castes; however, Brahmins are required to live a much more religious life than non-Brahmins, and any misdeed carries a heavier penalty for them than for lower castes. In Sanskrit the word for caste is varna, which means color. The Brahmins are probably descendants of the light-skinned Aryans who conquered India, and even today the Brahmin’s skin is generally several shades lighter than that of other castes.
Caste – A doctrine supported by Krishna in the Gita and probably devised by the Aryan invaders of India in order to keep the dark-skinned Dravidians they conquered in quiet subjection. It was taught that the four castes – Brahmin, Kshatriya, Vaisya, and Sudra – originally came from four parts of the body of Brahma, the Brahmins from the head and the others form progressively lower parts. The doctrines of karma and reincarnation followed naturally, teaching that those of lower castes by accepting their lot in life uncomplainingly could improve their karma and thus hope for a higher reincarnation the next time around.
Guru – Literally a teacher, but in the sense of being a manifestation of Brahman. Technically the Hindu scriptures cannot be learned just by reading them but must be taught by a guru who himself has learned at the feet of a guru. Every Hindu must follow a guru in order to reach Self-realization. It is through the gurus that the ancient wisdom of the sages passes down to succeeding generations. (Many students of the Bible find a striking connection between this concept of spiritual enlightenment through knowledge and the Tree of Knowledge that brought about the fall of man in the Garden of Eden).
Higher consciousness – There are various ‘levels’ of consciousness opened up in Yoga and meditation, called ‘higher’ states because they differ from one’s normal consciousness and are supposedly experienced on the road to nirvana. Different schools of Eastern mysticism define them in different ways. Typical states would be ‘unity-consciousness,’ where one experiences a mystical union with the universe, and ‘God-consciousness,’ where one experiences that he himself is actually God. Similar ‘states of consciousness’ are experienced through hypnosis, mediumistic trance, certain drugs, witchcraft ceremonies, voodoo, etc., and all seem to be slight variations of the same occult phenomenon.
Hinduism – The major religion of India, which encompasses so many diverse and contradictory beliefs that it is impossible to define. One could be a pantheist, polytheist, monotheist, agnostic, or even an atheist; a moralist or amoral; a dualist, pluralist, or monist; regular in attendance at temples and in devotion to various gods, or not attend to religious duties at all – and still be called a Hindu. Hinduism claims to embrace and accept all religious beliefs, but any religion so included becomes part of Hinduism. The syncretist attempts to place Christianity in this ‘embrace that smothers,’ but it is clear that the God of the Bible is not Brahman, that heaven is not nirvana, that Jesus Christ is not just another reincarnation of Vishnu, and that salvation through God’s grace and faith in Christ’s death for our sins and resurrection contradicts the whole teaching of Hinduism.
Karma – For the Hindu the law of cause and effect which determines destiny or fate. The doctrine teaches that for every moral or spiritual thought, word, or deed, karma produces an inevitable effect. Presumably this could not be carried out in one life; thus karma necessitates reincarnation. The circumstances and conditions of each successive birth and the events of each successive life are supposedly determined absolutely by one’s conduct at the same age in past lives. There is no forgiveness in karma. Each person must suffer for his own deeds.
Krishna – The most popular and beloved Hindu god and the subject of countless legends, many of them erotic. Krishna is the best-known of the Hindu gods in the West because of the missionary zeal of the singing, dancing, saffron-robed ‘Hare Krishna’ disciples seen in most major cities. They hope to achieve happiness and salvation through chanting over and over the mantra: ‘Hare Krishna, Hare Krishna, Hare Rama, Hare Rama, Hare Hare Hare’. Like Rama, Krishna is presumed to be one of the reincarnations of Vishnu.
Kundalini – Literally ‘coiled’, the name of a goddess symbolized by a serpent with three and a half coils, sleeping with its tail in its mouth. This goddess, or ‘serpent of life, fire, and wisdom,’ supposedly resides in the body of man near the base of the spine. When aroused without proper control, it rages like a vicious serpent inside a person with a force that is impossible to resist. It is said that without proper control, the kundalini will produce supernatural psychic powers having their source in demonic beings and will lead ultimately to moral, spiritual, and physical destruction. Nevertheless, it is this kundalini power that meditation and Yoga are designed to arouse and control. Advanced students of TM and other forms of meditation now practiced in the West have had kundalini experiences.
Lingam – A term used for the phallic emblem of the god Shiva. There is evidence of lingam worship in the Indus valley predating the Aryan invasion. At first ridiculed by the Aryan conquerors, the worship of this erotic symbol was later adopted by them. Although it is associated with fertility cults, Tantrism, and religious rituals involving sexual perversions, the Shiva lingam is a prominent object of worship in almost every Hindu temple, not only those devoted specifically to Shiva.
Mantra – A sound symbol of one or more syllables often used to induce a mystical state. It must be passed on by the living voice of a guru and cannot be learned in another way. One need not understand the meaning of the mantra; the virtue is in repetition of the sound. It is said to embody a spirit or deity, and the repetition of the mantra calls this being to the one repeating it. Thus the mantra both invites a particular being to enter the one using it and also creates the passive state in the meditator to facilitate this fusion of beings.
Maya – The Hindu explanation for the apparent existence of the entire universe of both mind and body as man experiences it. Since Brahman is the only Reality, all else is illusion, proceeding from Brahma the Creator as heat from a fire. Man’s ignorance fails to see the one Reality and thus accepts the illusion or unreal universe of forms and pain and sorrow. Salvation comes through enlightenment dispelling this illusion. Since the universe appears the same to all observers and follows definite laws, some Hindu sects teach that maya is really a dream of the gods and that men only add their personal sense of suffering.
Meditation – To the Westerner this signifies rational contemplation, but to the Eastern mystic it is just the opposite, causing considerable confusion on this subject in the West. Eastern meditation (being taught as TM, Zen, etc.) is a technique for detaching oneself from the world of things and ideas (from maya) through freeing one’s mind from all voluntary or rational thought, which projects one into ‘higher’ states of consciousness. Though popularized in the West under many names, the aim of all Eastern meditation is to ‘realize’ one’s essential union with the Universe. It is the doorway to the ‘nothingness’ called nirvana. Generally sold as a ‘relaxation’ technique, meditation really aims at and ultimately leads to the surrender of oneself to mystical cosmic forces.
Moksha – Liberation from the cycle of reincarnation through entrance into the ultimate state of being achieved by those who have escaped the universe of maya to arrive at union with Brahman. Hindus look forward to moksha as the end of the pain and suffering that reincarnation has imposed upon them through life after life. However, according to orthodox Hinduism, there is no ultimate escape, and one must eventually return to the cycle of deaths and rebirths again. Since at one time there was only Brahman, according to the Hindu scriptures, it will do no good to return to it; moksha is merely a temporary rest, another stage on the wheel of existence that goes round and round endlessly, repeating itself every 4.32 billion years.
Namahste – A common Hindu greeting that to some means simply ‘hello,’ it accompanies clasped hands and a polite bow in recognition of the Universal Self within all men.
Nirvana – Literally a ‘blowing-out,’ as to extinguish a candle. Nirvana is ‘heaven’ to both Hindu and Buddhist, although the many sects have different ideas of what it is and how to reach it. Supposedly it is neither a place nor a state and is within us all, waiting to be ‘realized’. It is nothingness, the bliss that comes from no longer being able to feel either pain or pleasure, through the extinction of personal existence by absorption into pure Being.
Puja – Literally ‘adoration’. Both the word and the form of worship it represents are of Dravidian origin. It was adopted as the term for all ritualistic and ceremonial worship as the Aryan custom of animal sacrifice, including smearing the altar with blood, gradually gave way in later years under the Buddhist challenge of nonviolence to the Dravidian practice of offering flowers and marking the worshipers with sandalwood paste. Along with flowers, modern forms of the Hindu puja, performed both in temples and in private homes, generally include offerings of fruit, cloth, water, and money.
Pundit – A Brahmin who is especially learned in Hinduism and who is able to apply this knowledge for the benefit of others, such as through advice about the future or intercession with the gods, and performance of religious rituals and ceremonies. Not all Brahmins are priests or pundits. Although every Brahmin is automatically qualified by birth, not all devote themselves enough to their religion to become pundits, and most Brahmins in India today follow secular professions.
Self-realization – The ultimate goal of Eastern meditation and Yoga by whatever name it is called: deliverance from the ‘illusion’ that the individual self is different from the Universal Self, or Brahman. Through ignorance man has supposedly forgotten who he really is and thus thinks of himself as distinct from his neighbor and Brahman. Through Self-realization he is liberated from this ignorance of individual existence and returns to union with Brahman again.
Shakti pat – A term used for the touch of a guru, usually of his hand to the worshiper’s forehead, that produces supernatural effects. Shakti literally means power; and in administering the Shakti pat the guru becomes a channel of primal power, the cosmic power underlying the universe, embodied in the goddess Shakti, the consort of Shiva. The supernatural effect of Shakti through the guru’s touch may knock the worshiper to the floor, or he may see a bright light and receive an experience of enlightenment or inner illumination, or have some other mystical or psychic experience.
Swami – A sanyasi or Yogi who belongs to a particular religious order. In practice the term is often applied as a title to the guru or head of the order.
Yoga – Literally ‘yoking’, it refers to union with Brahman. There are several kinds and schools of Yoga, and various techniques, but all have this same ultimate goal of union with the Absolute. The positions and breath control are intended as aids to Eastern meditation, and a means of controlling the body in disciplining oneself to renounce all desires which the body might otherwise impose upon the mind. Yoga is designed specifically to induce a state of trance which supposedly allows the mind to be drawn upward into a yoking with Brahman. It is a means of withdrawal from the world of illusion to seek the only true Reality. If one desires to achieve physical fitness only, exercises designed for that specific purpose ought rather to be chosen. No part of Yoga can be separated from the philosophy behind it.
Yogi – In the loose sense, anyone who has attained some proficiency in the practice of Yoga, but in the true sense, one who is a master of Yoga – that is, one who has attained, through the practice of Yoga, union with Brahman, which is its aim. The true meditating Yogi has cut himself off from all sense perceptions, including family, friends, and all human relationships. He is supposed to be beyond space, time, caste, country, religion, and even good and evil. As Krishna said in the Bhagavad-Gita, nothing matters anymore to the Yogi except Yoga itself.
From the Glossary of the book Death of a Guru (pages 199-208)
A word for you
Now, the experiences that Rabi had while he was devoted to Hinduism confirm very clearly that Hinduism is a dead religion, unable to save man from his sins in fact according to Hinduism man cannot be forgiven by God because for every evil deed there will be a consequence in the next reincarnation, in other words man must suffer for his evil deeds during the next life he will live on this earth. Furthermore, as we have seen from Rabi’s past experiences, behind the gods of Hinduism there are very wicked demons ready to kill even their worshipers. Krishna, Vishnu, Shiva and all the others are just names of demonic spiritual beings. Another thing to be said is that the so much famous yoga and eastern meditation are very dangerous practices through which man gives place to demons in his life, there is no doubt about it.
Therefore, man or woman, if you are an Hindu, I exhort you to turn from your dead idols to the only and true God. Repent of your sins and believe in the Lord Jesus Christ who was sent in this world by the only and living God in order to save man. The Scripture says: “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life” (John 3:16). When the Scripture says that God ‘gave’ his only Son, it means that God sent his Son to die for our sins. But Jesus did not remain dead, because the third day God raised him from the dead for our justification. This is the Good News God wants you to hear and to believe with all your heart. So, believe it, do it immediately and you will receive by faith the forgiveness of your sins and eternal life; tomorrow it could be too late. In fact if you die in your sins all of a sudden, you will go to hell and you will be lost forever.