Rabi Maharaj is an Indian evangelist and founder of East-West Ministries. Rabi comes for a line of Hindu priest who are called “Sanyasi”. The biography of Rabi Maharaj is found in his book, “Death of a Guru: A Remarkable True Story of One Man’s Search for Truth”. This article presents some of the highlights of his life, taken from this book.
Rabi’s Early Years
Indians have known for thousands of years that there is real power in Yoga. But Rabi’s father lived it. He passed his days in meditation and the reading of the sacred scripture –nothing else. Rabi grew up in Trinidad. There is a huge Indian population there. His father was a Brahmin priest who sat under the tree in a lotus position – toes of both feet turned up on the top of the knees- on the board. His father had taken some vows before their marriage so he never talked or even paid a slightest heed to his son. Rabi never understood this. He just wished that at least once his dad would call him and talk to him. But that never happened.
People came from far and near and worshiped him. They would leave fruits and flowers at his feet. They marveled at him and said in solemn reverent tones that surely he had achieved his “Moksha” (Salvation), escaping the wheel of reincarnation. There would be no more rebirths into this world of death for him, only the eternal bliss of Nirvana. They would tell Rabi that “Your Father is very special – the greatest man one could ever have as a father”. One day the unthinkable happed for Ravi. His father passed away. He heard someone in the family say that may be the gods took him away. And he did not understand why this would happen to him.
Rabi felt he had lost everything. Though he had scarcely known him as his father, he had been his inspiration – a god –but now he was dead. At his funeral, his father’s stiff body was placed on a great pile of firewood. The thought of his body being sacrificed to Agni, the god of fire, added a new dimension of mystery to the bewilderment and deep sense of loss that already overwhelmed him.
Nana – Rabi’s Grandfather
After the death of Rabi’s father, he and his mom went and lived with her parents. Her family was a big joint family and had a successful business. Rabi’s grandfather, whom he called “Nana”, was recognized as one of the Hindu Leaders among the large East Indian population in Trinidad, a man who had mysterious super natural powers that none could deny or dared to meddle with. Nana valued occult powers more highly than money. He carried strong iron safe that had an object he wouldn’t sell at any price, a small white stone from India possessed of spirit powers both to heal and curse. Nana passed away during his childhood, but Rabi always felt that spirit of Nana haunted him in the house. He also had heard a story from his uncle that all his Nana’s wealth and the safe were guarded by a snake which could even be a form taken by the Spirits.
In the Footsteps of His Father
Following the instructions from his mother and guided by his father’s perfect example, Rabi practiced meditation every day from the age of 5. Sitting in the lotus position with his spine straight, he imitated his father who was more like a god to him. He had perfectly followed in the footsteps of Lord Krishna and other Yogis and his mother taught him that. His father had achieved wide acclaim and earned the worship of many and it was inevitable that upon his death his mantle would fall on Rabi but he has never imagined it would be so soon.
Solemnly and faithfully he worshiped his father’s spirit every day. After few days they whole family went to the site where his father was cremated. All evidence of the cremation was carried away only the memory could not be erased from his mind. Friends and relatives crowded around him in a semicircle. The pundit faced him with the barber’s scissors in one hand. Before he could realize all his hair had fallen to the ground where his father’s ashes had laid.
The chief priest and everyone in village had said that his father had gone back to Brahma and has attained Moksha. But in one of the ceremonies where the ashes of his father were laid, the temple priest saw the prints of a bird’s footstep and declared that his father has become a bird. Rabi was shattered. If his father could not go back to Brahma then there is no hope for him or anyone else in the world. After some days of Rabi’s father death, a feast was made in the house, the first of all food were offered to the dead as per the Hindu custom. So the family placed a all the different samples of food below the banana tree. The priest had warned no one to look back as the spirit of his father would come and eat the food as the spirits can attack anyone if they look back. But Rabi was so much tempted to see his father once, so he stayed back to see what happens to all the food. But to his immense disappointment, the food was still there. As he was taking one step after another he thought the spirit would attack him and he will die but nothing happened. He thought may be the spirits are gracious to him.
Few days after this, his mom told Rabi that she has to go to India, to the river Ganges the holiest of all rivers to sprinkle the ashes of his father. For Rabi an aura of mystery surrounded with that name, ‘Ganges’. He begged his mom to take him also to India but that was not possible. On the day his mom left to go to India by ship, young Rabi cried and cried and would not let go off the knob of the door. For days he cried himself to sleep, it was the worst time for him and missed his mom tremendously. But as a Hindu he was taught to accept his fate and he did exactly the same.
Ma was a very kind and gentle person. For somewhere she had a Bible but when Nana was alive when he saw Ma with the Bible, he was angry and beat Ma with a belt and threw her down from the stairs. But again she found a Bible from some other pace and the same thing happened.
Rabi had read in the Gita that all the roads leads to the same god so he thought it might be okay but he liked his religion the best. He was only ten years old and he decided to study Hindu scriptures under a famous Brahmacharya (priest) in charge of the temple. In obedience to Vedas, he strictly observed five daily duties, the offerings to gods, to the Seers, to the forefathers, to lower animals and to humanity embodied in the daily religious activities. He began to have visions of psychedelic colors, to hear unearthly music and to visit exotic planets where gods conversed with him. Also in the trance he encountered horrible demonic creatures that are depicted by the images in Hindu, Buddhist, Shinto and other religious temples.
He returned home after the training. He was 11 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. One day he had heavy cough and every one at home was worried for his health. But Rabi had a secret habit, he was a chain smoker, he smoked one cigarette after other hailing deeply with each puff. He had money but he can never buy a cigarette so he had to steal them and this troubled his conscience deeply. He was feeling very empty on inside. One day, as usual after doing his daily Puja (prayer), when he placed a fresh Hibiscus bloom on the cow’s head, the cow suddenly without a warning lowered her neck and charged him. He jumped back and ran. He felt his god was chasing him. This shook him; the god whom he worshiped faithfully day by day had attacked him today. This question haunted him for days.
Now it was 6 years Rabi’s mom was away, in all these years he was tired of being cared by his aunty who would be nice at times but harsh some other times. Many times he would have mystical experiences as if some invisible had had slapped him or knocked him down or chocked him. He lived for religious ceremonies, public ones in the temples and private ones at home. There he was admired by all.
His High School Days
It was time for Rabi to attend high school now. One of his Uncles whom he admired had studied in London and returned back. He insisted Rabi to go to a prestigious Queens Royal High school. When he went there, he met many Black, Orientals, English youth and those of other races. He found there were people in the world who were completely outside the caste system. He questioned how did they come into existence? According to his religion, they were clearly without hope. Yet they were not inferior to him, in fact he found hard to compete with them. Every single day he was faced with many real life questions for which he has no answer but only confusion.
One day he was in the garden walking and enjoying nature and a snake came behind him. He was utterly terrified and there was nowhere to escape. At that time he said “Jesus! Help me”. In that moment of frozen terror he recalled his mother voice that if ever he is in danger and nothing else seems to work he can pray to this other God, Jesus. Suddenly to his surprise, snake went other way. He pondered for days why nobody ever taught him about this god. Who was this god and what was he the god of? He tried Jesus one more time when he was sick and it worked. Rabi was going through many hard times with his extended family. He never got the care and nurture of parents, he felt very lonely and angry from within. He even thought of committing suicide. His religion, training and experience in meditation, all had taught him to look within himself and so he tried again and again but it proved futile.
Around that time, one of his cousin’s friends Molli came to see Rabi who was a Hindu devotee just like him before. She talked to Rabi about Jesus who came to die for the sins of mankind. Rabi always knew Karma and had no idea about forgiveness. He had many arguments with Molli but she was always calm, joyful and listened to him with compassion. For the first time in his life, something snapped inside of him and he was broken from inside and he prayed “God, the true God and creator, show me the truth, Please God”.
His cousin brought him a Bible and explained to him the story of Nicodemus coming to Jesus at night. He learned about the “new birth”. The next day he went to a small Christian gathering with his cousin and 2 other Hindu friends who had now accepted Jesus as their Savior. The pastor taught from Psam 23. And that night he could not resist any more and he gave his life to Christ. He found insurmountable peace and joy within him which he had never experienced before.
The Death of a Guru
Miraculously God was simultaneously working in other members on his family and 13 of them accepted the Lord. Ma was already seeking the truth since a long time and now she could openly accept Christ too. Together the whole family took every idol from the puja room, searched every amulet, charm, fetish, religious picture and artifact throwing them all on the rubbish heap behind the garden and burning them. Rabi felt that it was his cremation ceremony. The old Rabi Maharaj had died in Christ. A new Rabi had been born and raised in Christ.
Rabi later on, received theological training from London Bible College, He has worked with Billy Graham, preached the gospel of Jesus Christ in many churches, University campus and auditoriums all over the world, worked among the drug addicts and led them to Jesus Christ.
image link credit: http://sarahjphoto.typepad.com/sarah_j_photo/2009/07/a-day-together.html