Summary of the Book
From instructions of his mother and the example of his father, from the age of five, Rabi practiced meditation daily. His world was filled with spirits, gods and occult powers, and his obligation from childhood was to give each its due.
This is quite a remarkable true story of Maharaj, a former Yogi, who eventually became disillusioned with his religious practices. He was descended from a long line of Brahmin priests and gurus, and was trained as a Yogi.
In this very readable and interesting book, one gains insights into Hindu life and customs, as well as being able to trace Maharaj’s difficult search for meaning and his eventual choice between Hinduism and Christianity.
Rabi has spoken in meetings in over 300 universities and colleges, testifying to what God can do in a life.
Attracting Deities Through Mantras
Rabi Maharaj’a father showed the real power in Yoga in his faithful practice of it while seeking the true Self. Sitting in a lotus position, he passed his days in meditation and in the reading of the sacred scriptures-and nothing else. He attracted “deities” through his mantras. He followed instructions of Krishna, the master and originator of true yoga, (as the Gita said), regarding giving up all attachments to position, to desires, and to the physical realm. Admirers worshiped him and offerings were made to him.
Dead Body Given to Agni, the God of Fire
Rabi’s father died suddenly and mysteriously, and his body was given to Agni, the god of fire; his ashes were later sprinkled on the water. His father’s mantle had now passed onto Rabi. Rabi worshiped his father’s spirit every day after his passing, but later “discovered” that his father had been reincarnated into a bird.
Recognizing God Was Not Part of the Universe
Rabi accepted whatever the sacred writings said, even that Brahman had come from nothing when the Gita said, “That which is not can never be.” Rabi had awareness that God was not part of the universe but its Creator, someone much greater than himself–and not within him–as he had been taught.
Seeking Ritual Disciplines to Incorporate the Deities in Self: Mystical Union
Rabi believed that the accumulated effects of his prior lives had made it inevitable that in his present birth, he should soon begin a serious study for the Hindu priesthood. He would rise every morning, seat himself in lotus position facing east, sip water, sprinkle it on himself and around him for ceremonial purification, practice the Yoga of breath control, then invoke the deity he was worshipping by nyasa, the touching of himself on various parts of his body, thereby symbolically placing the deity in his own body.
Rabi felt a mystical union with each god he worshipped. Seated before the altar, he would spend an hour in deep meditation, concentrating all attention upon the tip of his nose until he had lost contact with the world around him and would begin to realize his essential unity with the One Reality underlying the universe. Demons, described in the Vedas, have been known to take possession of some Yogis during such transcendental meditation (the heart of Yoga).
Clearing and Emptying One’s Mind
Hindu philosophy basically says that there is only one Reality-Brahman-and that the law of karma demands future payment for past sins. Disciplines to clear and empty one’s mind, often resorted to in mystic and meditation processes, are a tactic of the enemy to take possession on the individual.
Body control and Eastern meditation open one’s mind to the domination of evil spirit. When one relaxes one’s mind, evil spirits take over the mind, as occurs in transcendental meditation. The spirits lead one ever deeper into meditation to gain control of the person.
The Problem of Eastern Mysticism
The self-denial practiced in Eastern mysticism of all kinds is based on the fallacious belief that man’s only problem is wrong thinking and that he or she need only “realize” that he or she is God.
At eleven years of age and after a summer of training in a Hindu temple, Rabi was elevated considerably in the eyes of religious Hindus. In fact, seated before a mirror, he even worshiped himself. He was God. Krishna, in the Bhagavad-Gita had promised this divine knowledge to the one who practiced Yoga.
Gaining Psychic Powers
Often while Rabi was in deep meditation the gods became visible and talked with him. In his Yogic trances he would most often be alone with Shiva the Destroyer. Besides that, spirits were guiding him and had given him psychic powers. He was convinced that the gods were real.
Poverty of the Nation
Certain books that Rabi had read left no question in his mind that the land of his religion was exceedingly poor. The question was: How could this be with thousands of years of Yoga, improving karma and upward reincarnation toward oneness with Brahman?
Saving Grace of Jesus Christ
On one occasion, Rabi saw a literal, large snake with a thick body coming directly toward him, its eyes staring intently into his. He was paralyzed and wanted to run but was unable to move. In a hardly audible voice he yelled, “Jesus, help me!” To his utter astonishment, the snake dropped its head to the ground and turned around and quickly wriggled off into the underbrush.
During Rabi’s third year in high school, he experienced an increasingly deep inner conflict. His awareness of God as the Creator, separate and distinct from the universe He had made, an awareness that had been a part of him even as a small boy, contradicted the concept given to him by Hinduism that God was everything, that the Creator and the creation were one and the same. He felt torn between these two irreconcilable views. The Vedas said that Brahman was his true Self, the god within that he worshiped sitting in front of the mirror. Besides that, his religion made beautiful theory but he was having serious difficulty applying it in everyday life. Also, if reason was maya – – as the Vedas taught-then how could he trust any concept, including the idea that all was maya and only Brahman was real? How could he be sure that the Bliss he sought was not also an illusion? And who were the gods and spirits and forces that he invited to come into him through nyasa and Yoga and dedication? Were they evil or good or both-or was everything maya and he insane to try to make sense of it all? The Lord was preparing Rabi’s heart.
Rabi began to think of the Creator as the true God in contrast to the many Hindu gods, some of whom he was convinced he had met in his trances. He felt increasingly, the stark difference between the terror they struck in his heart and the instinct he had that the true God was loving and kind. He felt a growing hunger to know the Creator.
One evening while doing arti in front of Shivi, Rabi accidently bumped Krishna with his elbow, knocking the “great” god from the altar onto the floor. If the little brass figure had such great power within it, why did it fall so easily? In view of the obvious helplessness of the little idols, his abject fear of them began to seem absurd to him.
The only way he knew of searching for God was through Yoga and looking within himself to find truth. So he kept trying it but it only proved futile. He only stirred up a nest of evil that made him even more aware of his own heart’s corruption. If he couldn’t find this God soon, then he decided that he had to commit suicide because he had resolved that he couldn’t live any longer without Him.
Rabi discovered that each step closer to the Hindu gods was a step farther from the true God he sought. But to save face, he would never admit that to others, especially to Christians.
He began to hear of a God of love. A Christian acquaintance, Mollie, patiently shared with him that Christ died for his sins and that he could be forgiven. He reacted and said that he was born a Hindu and would die one. Finally he asked God to show him the truth; he felt that he had gotten through to the true God who loved and cared for him, and he believed that God would answer his prayer.
Rabi began to understand about the new birth in Christ. Though reincarnation was to give him a new body, he knew that wasn’t what he needed; he needed a spiritual birth and to become a new person. He wanted the power to face life instead of seeking mystical experiences to escape from daily life, i.e., maya-an illusion. Yet he was still afraid to open his heart to Christ because he didn’t want to lose the goodwill of his family, nor this position in the Hindu community.
Rabi’s friend, Krishna, later explained to him how Christ had changed his life. Being with Christians during their worship time enabled Rabi to see the contrast between that worship and his own of the sun that left him cold and dark on the inside.
For conversation starters for a Hindu, see Madasamy S. Thirumalai’s book, Sharing Your Faith with a Hindu, pgs.76-79.
Issues Faced in Turning from Hinduism to Christ. Upper-lower Caste and Animistic/Folk Religious Dynamics
On one occasion, Rabi reached out to touch the forehead of a poor widow to bestow his blessing. As he did so, he was startled by a voice of unmistakable omnipotent authority, “You are not God, Rabi!” His arm froze in midair. Instantly he knew that the true God had spoken these words and began to tremble. He was conscience-stricken, left the woman, went to his room, and lay broken under God’s reproof. It was life changing. He knew that no man was God or worthy to be worshiped. Pride had blinded him. And how could everything be of the same Divine Essence? He thought of committing suicide as a way out of having to face others.
During the preaching of Psalm23, the Lord used Pastor Abdul Hamid, and Rabi came to Christ through faith. The old Rabi had died in Christ and the new Rabi had risen from the grave in Him. The following day Krishna and Rabi carried the idols, scriptures and other religious paraphernalia used in ceremonies out to the rubbish pile in the yard.
Changes took place in Rabi’s life: He knew he was forgiven and that he could forgive others. Hindus have no concept of forgiveness since there is no forgiveness in karma, and therefore they cannot forgive one another. It’s because Christ has forgiven us through Christ that we can forgive one another.
Rabi was delivered from the evil caste distinctions that lie at the very heart of Hinduism, karma and reincarnation.
Hindus are usually governed by the social system of caste. Hindu society consists of five social divisions in the following descending order of rank: Brahman, the priestly class; Kshatriya, the military class; Vaisya, the agriculturist and business class; Sudra, the servant class; and the Untouchables (due to sins of thought in his or her previous birth).
An individual’s worldview is influenced by his or her caste upbringing. The caste-system does not encourage inter-caste marriage. The net result of the caste system is that a person’s station in life is fixed from birth according to the caste into which he or she is born. The demand of Karma that one should only pursue the work that is ordained by the caste system is no longer taken as seriously as it once was, however.
The New Testament says, however, that all such distinctions between castes, nationalities and sexes have vanished because in union with Christ all are one (Gal.3:28). Christ is our bond of peace, who has made one, any such divisions or groups; and He has broken down the barrier that separated them and has kept them apart. He has reconciled the caste system into a single body to God through the cross thereby bringing any hostility to an end. (cf. Eph.2:14-16).
There are millions of Hindus who experience only folk religion. Whether it is using Hindu almanacs to find the predicted consequences of daily actions, or looking for good and bad omens (signs) to lead and warn, or staying away from taboos, or using fetishes, almost every Hindu follows some folk religious tradition. The folk religious Hindu is motivated by fear, and tries to maneuver and influence the spirits through making suitable offerings. Any suffering or loss is believed due to his or her failure to make sufficient sacrifices and offerings to his or her deity. It is the folk Hindu who is better prepared to see the sacrifice that Jesus made for all humanity.
Folk Hindus worship not only idols of gods, but also living things such as cows, bull, plants, trees, birds and snakes. Sharing the life history of Jesus and His supreme sacrifice for all of humanity is a good starting point for discussion. Gently reminding him or her that God is willing to help us in all of our difficulties and that we do not have to offer anything to Him in order to obtain that help can be encouraging and it offers hope. One can also share that dependence on gods and spirits, on material objects for power and healing means giving the status of a mediator to such things; but the only Mediator between God and humankind is Jesus. Whatever sharing is done or evidence presented, it should be not be done in a confrontational manner but with the love and gentleness of Christ.
Evaluation of the Book
The book is very readable, interesting and instructive. It shows what the power of God can do in situations that appear beyond hope. The book shows Rabi’s struggles as a Hindu and the resultant new creation that he became in Christ. I found the Glossary in the back to be very helpful.
Rabi R. Maharaj 1977. Death of a Guru. Harvest House Publishers: Eugene, Oregon.
Thirumalai, Madasamy S. 2002. Sharing Your Life with a Hindu, Minneapolis: Bethany House Publishers.
6820 Auto Club Road
Bloomington, MN 55438
and Bethany International University, Singapore