The book traces Sri M’s spiritual journey, in search of truth and enlightenment, from Thiruvananthapuram in Kerala to the Vyasa Cave in the Himalayas where he meets his Guru Maheshwarnath affectionately called ‘Babaji.’
Sri M is an enlightened soul, who was born in Kerala, became disciple to a very great Guru at a young age, moved to the Himalayas. Later he worked with J Krishnamurti, another enlightened soul, in Rishi Valley. Sri M is very accessible. He has started a school called Peepal Grove School in Sadum Mandal, Chittoor District of Andhara Pradesh. The book traces the metamorphosis of Mumtaz Ali Khan into an accomplished yogi with profound knowledge of the Upanishads and “first-hand experiences with higher levels of consciousness”.
The Indian civilisation has survived for centuries despite numerous invasions because of its continuous intellectual, spiritual and emotional contact with its ancient past. Men and women masters, like M, who have spiritual vision, had a vital role to play in the upkeep of the country’s rich civilisation. The whole of Indian civilisation can be looked upon as a series of reinterpretation of the truth quoted in our ancient texts and that the “guru-shishya parampara” was the very essence of civilisation.
Sri M is an unusual person. Born in a Muslim family in Thiruvananthapuram, Kerala, he grew up in the eclectic traditions of the city where a temple, a church and a mosque stand in a line as if proclaiming that God is one. Unbelievable as it may sound, he got initiated into the intricacies of the “Gayatri Mantra” when he stole two books from his father’s drawer.
While still at school, he often sought the company of the unconventional, the vagabond and the perpetually peripatetic to “understand holy madness”. One of his encounters with a holy man, whom most people thought was mad, was indeed enlightening.
‘Babaji’ that he finally meets is over a hundred years old but has the body of a young man, less than two scores. He is the quintessential rishi, who can advise the young seeker of truth not to bother about taking a bath in the cold waters of the Ganga before the morning meditation and, in the process, catch pneumonia. In the Hindu tradition, knowledge is always gained through an intermediary called the Guru; “yatha guru thatha shishya” goes a saying. Sri M was lucky to get a guru who belongs to the class called “Raja Yogis”. Of course, allowance has to be made for the author’s belief that he was born to be his disciple.
Babaji has clear, concise answers for all his spiritual and transcendent questions that put even the reader at ease. He does not even fight shy of questioning many received wisdom like his mother’s belief that non-vegetarian food is better for human body. While she stuffed his tiffin box with brain curry and liver fry, his friends who always had simple vegetarian food for lunch scored more marks than him.
In the course of his journey, Sri M ultimately meets his “Sri Guru Babaji”, about whom he quotes Swami Vivekananda, “A particle of dust from his blessed feet could have created a thousand Vivekanandas”. On the way, he meets several interesting persons from the late Marxist leader AK Gopalan to Jiddu Krishnamurti to an assortment of holy men of all faiths, from whom he learns and moves on.
It is prophetic that he will use the name “Sri M”, which will remind him of his Babaji Maheshwarnath, who comes across as the “great master, wise, powerful and loving”. The book is, in fact, a tribute to him. For anybody who has interest in mysticism, Sufism and Vedanta, Sri M’s autobiography is, indeed, a treasure-trove.
By Pradeep Krishnan