My search for a guru finally ended in Bhagavan Muktinathan who was called as ‘Yehoshua’ in Hebrew, ‘Iasus’ in Greek, ‘Jesus’ in English, ‘Yesu’ in Tamil, ‘Jesu’ inBengal, ‘Isa’ in Hindi; so I call him ‘Muktinathan’ as his name means one who gives salvation. As a Tamil Brahmin boy I was searching for an answer to a simple question related with moral issues: Why can I not live a perfect life, even for a single day, up to my expectations? In those early days, without much maturity and with several limitations, I searched for the answer in my family tradition of doing pujas, rituals (like Sandyavandanam, etc.), reading and memorizing scriptures (like Abirami andadi, Sowdarya lahari, Sivapuranam to name only few) and mantras (like Gayatri and a few other mantras related to gods). I attended satsangh (called ‘katha kalakshebam’ in Tamil), read Tamil scriptures (Sivapuram, Devaram and several sectarian scriptures). Yet I could not find an answer to convince my simple rational mind. I also observed grownup people’s lives and asked them questions; but the answers which they gave were to justify all moral lapses by blaming the yuga (this is Kali) or Karma or even God (as Goswami Tulsidas rightly said: ‘kalahi, karmahi ishwar par mitya doshu lagayee=they falsely accuse Time [here Kali yuga], karma or even god]). Sometimes I was encouraged to do more rituals, chant more mantras, visit more temples and observe other vows. (I was not taught in a systematic way as I present these thoughts now).
I never searched through hair splitting, mind twisting philosophical ideas. Because, being brought up in the advaitic tradition, I had often heard such philosophies which never relate to reality in life. I did come to realize (as taught by own tradition) that without a guru I would not find the right answer to such questions. So I began to search for that guru by various means. It would take me several pages to write about all the gurus I investigated. Finally, through one of my friends (who along with his parents had recently become a ‘Christian,’ though he never told me about this) I met few Tamil missionaries who were working among the tribes in Periyamalai (the same area where later Veerappan become very active). Though these missionaries shared with me their traditional gospel message (speaking against idol worship, etc.), they also could not give answers to my questions. But their life greatly challenged me. So when I left them after a three day visit they gave me a New Testament and asked me to read it with a sincere heart and prayerful mind.
When I had been in high school I used to go to church and Sunday school with a Christian friend. I won most of the prizes in the Sunday school. But after three years one of my friend’s comments made me not only stop going to the church but also created an aversion in me. He said, ‘All the gods which you are worshiping are fallen angels, but Jesus is the only True God’. I thought, ‘If my gods are fallen angels (or ‘devil’ in their terms) and only your god is true, then I don’t want it’.
So when I later met these missionaries and received the New Testament, I began to read it with reservation. However, I said ‘I have tried several things to find my guru, so let me try this also. If I find my answer and guru in Jesus, then I am going to gain. If not, then I am not going to lose anything, but at least will gain some knowledge about the Bible’. To make the story short, finally I found my guru in Muktinathan through the verses in Romans 7:15-24. But I did put one condition to him, that even though he gave the answer to my question and I would indeed follow his path as he had become my guru, yet in the future if he ever disappointed me I would give him up. But for the last 28 years he has never disappointed me, and I trust that he will continue to be my guru till the end of my earthly journey.
As I found my guru in Him, he also became my god as I cannot understand a god beyond my guru. Though initially I, too, became a Christian, yet soon I realized that I need not give up my birthright as a Hindu by leaving my birth community and joining another sociological community called Christianity in Indiain order to follow my guru and worship him as my god. Both theMuktiveda ( Bible) and my Hindu tradition gave me all the freedom to be a Hindu (in every sense) and be a bhakta of bhagavan Muktinath without compromising my convictions. Of course, this is not acceptable both to some Christians and some Hindus. But thankfully as my guru accepted me as a Hindu as his bhakta, though I still struggle a lot with that identity (because of misunderstanding by both communities), yet he helps me to live a meaningful life as his bhakta.
The answer that I found for most of my moral struggles was related to relationship issues. The Muktiveda sets both forgiveness and reconciliation as preconditions to follow and worship my guru bhagavan. Though Hinduism in several ways insists on both these, yet one can also keep his religious life (through all kinds of rituals) and spirituality (through various philosophies) without fulfilling those two conditions. Here I found my answer to the question of why I cannot live a perfect life even for one day. As god forgave me and reconciled my guru with me, if I too do this in every walk of life, I can also become perfect but this is a continuous process in life. This may look like a philosophy, but those alone who receive that forgiveness from god and are reconciled to him can understand the simple spiritual ethics that finds solutions to all moral problems. For this one need not give up his birth right of his/her community identity or need join another community or go to any church, but can live as a bhakta of bhagavan Muktinathan without compromising his/her faith (sadhana dharma) and social identity (samajic dharma). As I am not alone and as there are several such bhaktas in various Hindu (caste) communities we celebrate our bhakti in him through our life. We welcome other who wishes to join us without became a ‘convert’ to join the caste based Christian communities or denominational churches.
Finally, however one tries she cannot find that guru who alone can remove the ‘darkness from us’ and ‘lead us from unthruth to truth’ and ‘from death to Mukti’. But with sincere heart and prayerful mind when one seeks that guru S/he will come to her and then it is left to that individual to accept or reject that guru as God immensely respects individual freedom and choice. So if one knocks the door will be opened; seeks will find and asks will get. So unless we do our part God cannot even do Her/His part. But any desire in any individual to seek, knock and ask is the symptom to find that Guru.
October 28, 2008