Monday, 4 August 2014

Book recommendation: Apprenticed to a Himalayan Master


Apprenticed to a Himalayan Master: A Yogi's Autobiography
Sri M
Magenta Press 2011

Once again, this is not a review, this is a recommendation.  This is an experience of a life time, which one intrepid itinerant undertook for his own personal emancipation.  In doing so he paved the way for all of us to learn from and, if up to it, pursue.  

Born Mumtaz Ali Khan, now simply addressed as Sri M, it appears that he was born for a life of spiritual exploration, which is illustrated through his several extraordinary early life experiences.  The description of his Guru appearing near a tree in his backyard is mesmerising, and you are completely hooked thereafter, wanting to finish the entire book in one go.  

He takes the decision to leave his home at an early age, and go in search of the Truth, and before that, his Guru, who would lead him to It.  Along the way, he encounters an array of interesting swamis and yogis, each with his or her own fascinating story to relate, and for him (and us) to learn from.  Photographic plates showing these great saints adds to the appeal of the book.  

There are so many soul touching moments in this one, but here are but a few examples.  In Alandi, he experiences a direct contact with the child-saint, Sant Jnaneshwar near his samadhi.  In Shirdi, he finds Sri Sai Baba sitting high on a swing from which he descends to speak to him.  In the dargah at Beemapalli, he meets Kalladi Mastan, a saint mad with divine love.  Particularly touching is the way he finally finds his Guru Sri Maheshwarnath Babaji, and his Guru's Guru, the quintessential and elusive Sri Guru Babaji.  Finally, in a rousing and heart warming finale, he appears face to face with the Lord Himself, Shiva, in the form of a light, with many a luminous Soul arrayed next to Him.

To a scientific mind these events may appear illogical and there have been several who have doubted yogis' achievements over the years.  But then again, logic and religion do not go together, and faith is an essential prerequisite if you are to progress spiritually.  The relationship and difference between science and spirituality has been studied by various writers, most notably by Dr Sudhir Kakar, the renowned psychoanalyst, and I can only refer you to his work.  

The divine madness manifested by somebody like Sri Ramakrishna Paramahansa is different from any of the psychotic disorders that we encounter in our practice, and does not conform qualitatively or categorically to the usually diagnostic criteria used for these disorders - I have encountered these sort of cases in my professional practice too.  The various siddhis (supernatural powers) that a saint accrues during the course of his spiritual progress is also something beyond the understanding of modern science, for which I would recommend reading Paul Brunton's A Search in Secret India.  


This is a book teeming with philosophical gems, spiritual insights and anecdotes, and extraordinary stories that we need to read once - no, many times, and benefit from its soul enhancing richness.  

Thank you Sri M for sharing your life experiences with us.

Find the book here: http://magentapress.in/bookstore.html

Find Sri M's organisation here: http://satsang-foundation.org/