The Conversion of a Christian Marxist
Even a hardcore Marxist has a thirsting space in his heart for God. A heretic may not have a place among the believing flock, but certainly God has a door for him too in his kind kingdom. Sri Andrews was a hardcore Marxist and a heretic. He never went to a church when be became conscious of its institutional character. He objected to all forms of institutionalized religion. But I do not think it was a rebellion against God. In his heart of heart he might have yearned for the light of God, for he searched for Truth around him and in the lap of nature. He broke all conventions of the society, traditions and beliefs. Though an orthodox Christian of higher caste origin, he opted for a backward caste Hindu woman as his life partner. The history of his ancestors, as far as I could understand, goes back to the first century of Christ, when one of Christ’s apostles, St. Thomas arrived in Kerala and converted the Nambudiri Brahmins at Palayoor, a place near Guruvayur temple. St. Thomas outwitted the Brahmins by performing a miracle. Even now the remains of their temple and pond are to be found here alongside the Church. Today, these Christians are a prosperous group in Kerala, well educated and controlling most of the business. Some of these Christians display a heretic and eccentric character and hold Hindu customs and beliefs in good esteem. As if an atonement for their ancestors’ deed, a few of them had done commendable service for the promotion of Sanskrit and Vedic studies in Kerala.
Now coming back to the story of Sri Andrews, he showed exemplary qualities in his child hood. He was brilliant in his studies and was liked by his family and friends because of his socializing nature. He always took up leadership when there was a crisis. There was a temple just in front of his house at Karamukku, near Trichur. The temple was a famous one because Sri Narayana Guru, the well known spirito-social reformer of Kerala himself had lighted the lamp in the temple. Andrews and his friends, mostly belonging to the Ezhava community in the locality spent their leisure in the temple precincts, exchanging jokes. They vied with each other for receiving prasadam from the temple, mostly boiled chana, during prayer times. Good old times, when the religious bug did not shatter peace in the community. Even now, unlike many other societies, the Hindus, Christians and Muslims in Kerala live like a close knit family. Their roots are so much twined together. Jihadists and religious fundamentalists are like murky evil spirits out to spoil the peace of humanity.
Sri Andrews was strongly influenced by Marxian ideology. and has a Masters degree in Arts. He joined government service and became a Joint Secretary in the Kerala Secretariat. He encountered corruption, official lethargy and a general moral decadence in the society. His utopia about a socialist society soon crumbled. It left him with bitterness. Having lost his bed of ideology, be began to wander aimlessly. He tried to find tranquility by drinking heavily. In those days he came across some books on spirituality. He found flashes of wisdom in the books of Jiddu Krishnamurthi and Ramana Maharshi. Once he went to Sivagiri Mutt at Varkala. His wife was his constant companion in his wanders. A steadfast wife, both in sorrow and happiness, is an asset in one’s life.
On the way there to the Mutt, he felt repulsed by the brewing industry flourishing in the area. He had been a mild boozer himself, so he could feel the cursed air which did not blend well with the precinct of a sage. He continued to visit some more ashrams. He was not, however, satisfied. His derailed life continued without any hope of peace. There was now the shortage of money. Wealth deserts one whose coffers of virtue are empty. The search of Andrews was for the key to the coffers of virtue and peace.
He had two little sons and he occasionally visited Santhigiri Ayurveda Hospital which belonged to Santhigiri Ashram at Pothencode, for consultation. One day the doctor, a devotee of the Guru, invited him to visit the Ashram. So he went to see the Guru with the company of his wife. For him, the Guru looked like a respected elder in a joint family. Sri Andrews did not show any spiritual mannerisms nor did he enter the prayer hall, for he disliked religious rituals, not only of his own religion but of others too.
When they were about to leave, a woman ascetic of the Guru called his wife aside and talked to her for a few moments. He waited a few yards away. When she joined him, he enquired what the yellow clad sanyasini had been talking to her. Her revelation presently astonished him. The sanyasini had revealed that some close relative in his family had a sad death and the influence of that soul was weighing down on him heavily and that he had to do something about it. This was startling information for him, because he had a sister who committed suicide, while she was just about to enter the order of nuns in a Christian Mission.
The revelation of the sanyasini about his life made him serious. There is some peculiarity in this Ashram, he thought. However, being a rational man, he began to think and find out in what all ways the soul of his sister was influencing him. He found quite a few things which proved the influence. Important among them was the special feeling he had towards nuns, whenever he met one. Whenever any nun came to the Secretariat for any job, he would go out of his way to get their work done. He almost became a maniac those moments. Having now convinced of the influence, he tried to banish the affinity towards nuns and all other things related to his sister. At the same time, he repeated his visit to the Ashram.
Now for the first time, he began to listen whenever Guru spoke to the assembled people. The words of Guru, like liquid light, flooded the dark interiors of his soul, revealing beyond a world of pure spiritual joy and brilliance. He was so much magnetized by the baptizing words of Guru that he often took leave from the office to listen to Guru in the Ashram. It continued until the cloak of ignorance was slowly lifted up from his soul. His inside now was illumined and enthused with the wisdom of a rare kind.
One day, as usual, he came to the Ashram straight from the office. Since he was late, he thought that Guru would have begun his talk. He had wished to join the Guru from the start. When he entered the Ashram, the place looked deserted. All must have gone to attend Guru’s talk, he thought. He wanted a white dhoti to go to Guru’s hall. He was in trousers and normally people never went to Guru’s room in western dress. So he waited there with distress, hoping that somebody would come there soon for his rescue. After a few moments, Sri Rajan Varghese (now Swami Guru Nishchaya Jnana Tapaswi, another Christian convert to Gurumargam) came in front of Sri Andrews. He said that Guru had sent him saying that somebody was waiting here for a dhoti. When he saw Sri Andrews standing there, he understood, who Guru had meant.
Sri Rajan Varghese brought the dhoti and Sri Andrews quickly went inside. Guru had not begun speaking. He began only when Andrews came in and joined the group. With moistened eyes, Sri Andrews bowed in front of the Guru. The unfailing grace of the all knowing Guru melted the heart of the hardcore Marxist. An unending stream of faith and love now began flowing from the sluices of his starved heart. He became a dove in the kingdom of God, winging its way above the marvelous ocean of spiritual bliss. Andrews’s conversion was total, not with swords, nor with miracles, nor with the promise of heaven or the threats of last judgment. True conversion takes place through the experience of love. Navajyoti Sri Karunakara Guru did not convert people, but only their hearts.