When Michael and I were in Nepal two years ago, a friend who is a missionary there recommended Death of a Guru to me, as an excellent way to get insight into Hindu thinking. Perhaps because of my great love for Nepal, the title of Rabi R. Maharaj’s autobiography stuck with me over the last couple of years, which is unusual. I have noble intentions to read what is recommended to me, but I have a terrible memory for book titles! While I looked into buying Death of a Guru more than once, it was just something I didn’t get around to…and then I discovered it on the shelf of our library at YWAM Turner Valley (signed by the author, no less)! After reading it for myself, I can certainly corroborate my friend’s description of the book as a wonderful starting point for understanding the Hindu worldview.
Rabi R. Maharaj was born in Trinidad, a Brahmin Hindu. From a young age he was expected to become a great leader in the Hindu community, as he was the descendant of a long line of Brahmin priests and gurus. As Rabi grew older and more and more devoted to Hinduism, worshiping the Hindu gods for hours each day, he was worshiped as a god by other Hindus. Rabi despised Christians and worshiped himself, believing that he was “part of god,” just as he believed that everything was “of the same Essence.” In high school, however, his belief in Hinduism and all he had been taught began to falter:
“During my third year in high school I experience an increasingly deep inner conflict. 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 theses 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 though art!’ said the Veda, telling me that Brahman was my true Self, the god within that I worshiped sitting in front of a mirror” (p. 97).
As his trust in his worldview began to crumble, Rabi also began to encounter the power that is in the name of Jesus. On one occasion, he called on the name of Jesus as he was cornered by a poisonous snake, ready to strike. When he called out to Jesus, the snake immediately abandoned him. Experiences like this, coupled with encounters with believers who shared the Gospel with Rabi, caused Rabi to give his life to Christ at the age of fifteen.
Death of a Guru is a fascinating read, because it provides honest insight from a former Hindu-devotee. Rabi was fanatical about his Hindu practices, and he describes his life and how he gave himself to meditation, yogic trances, and worshiping his idols and the cow owned by his family, in detail. He also writes of the inner-turmoil he faced as he could no longer deny that Jesus is God, but how he held on to his Hindu practices, afraid of all he would lose as a worshiped member of the Brahmin caste. As he writes of the small Christian gathering in which he became a Christ-follower, Rabi explains:
“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…[Jesus] 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” (p. 129-130).
Death of a Guru goes on to share how Rabi was called into ministry to drug addicts in Europe, and to raising awareness of the dangers of the growing popularity of Eastern mysticism, religion, and philosophy in the West.
Though this book was written in 1977, its message is relevant for today. I would highly recommend Death of a Guru to anyone with a heart for ministering in parts of the world/with people groups influenced by the Hindu worldview, but I would especially recommend it to any who believe that all paths (all religious systems) lead to the same place. Rabi R. Maharaj is living proof that Hinduism and Christianity are not simply different paths to the same destination, but that Jesus truly is “the way, the truth, and the life.”