Sri M’s journey has been fascinating at both physical and metaphysical levels.
The Tamil translation of the book, ‘Apprenticed to A Himalayan Master – A Yogi’s Autobiography,’ by ‘Sri M’ is being launched today, following the success of its Hindi, Malayalam and Marathi versions during the past few months, in Patna, Thiruvananthapuram and Pune.
Mumtaz Ali, popularly known as Sri M, is the founder of Satsang Foundation, a charitable organisation dedicated to educational, health and spiritual institutes committed to improving the lives of people in need.
Born in Vanchiyoor, Kerala, on November 6, 1948, Mumtaz Ali left home for the Himalayas, attracted by a strange and irresistible urge, when he was barely 19. He spent nearly four years with his master wandering in the snow-clad mountains. Guru Mahendranath Babaji totally transformed his consciousness. The Master sent him back to propagate and preach what he had learnt and experienced. Sri M travelled the world over sharing his experiences. He is comfortable with the religious teachings of major religions and advises seekers, “Go to the core; theories are of no use.”
Sri M’s views, in his own words:
When I called on the Paramacharya of Kanchi, he asked my name. As advised by the Brahmins in the mutt, I reverentially answered ‘Madhu’. ‘Oh, the name given by your Guru, isn’t it? Have you heard of Justice Ismail? I replied in the negative. ‘He is also like you, but his interest is Kamba Ramayanam. You have to work hard. Satsangam is important,’ he added. When the Foundation was started, which comprised seekers of truth and knowledge, I recalled the word Paramacharya uttered and wondered whether it had a connection to the conversation I had with the sage. Satsang is a meeting point for spiritual seekers.
On Spiritual Evolution
My Himalayan Master taught me that spirituality was not to be advertised. Spiritual evolution does not happen like a big bang. It is like the milky way. In any case, I was born into a non-Hindu family and at the age of 9, someone picked me up and put me on the spiritual path. Though my parampara is kriya yoga, I do not think it suits all aspirants. I propose Satsang even between two people. It cuts across barriers of caste and creed. Spiritual evolution is not incompatible with regular living. Intervals of solitude are necessary but you should not shut yourself totally. The world around you is the touchstone to spiritual practice.
On Spiritual Guru
Do not hide anything from your spiritual guru, because it is he who is going to help you to be cured of your ignorance and therefore, what we mean by being intimate with God is to expose you completely. A certain friendly understanding and an intimacy between the seeker and the guru was there in the case of Krishna and Arjuna. Arjuna, however, did not forget that although Krishna was his friend and brother-in-law, deep down he was the manifestation of the divine. That kind of relationship is very important. You have to remember that here is a storehouse, a dynamo of pure spiritual energy.
People also come to a guru or a spiritual teacher when all other remedies have failed, hoping that since he is in touch with God, he might be able to take the suffering off and bring succour which they have found anywhere else. Now this is the reason why most people expect miracles from a guru. Of course, there is a genuine manifestation of miracles in a natural way by the guru. But it should not be the criterion through which a seeker should judge spiritual attainment of a teacher.
In his other book ‘Jewel in the Lotus,’ Sri M says: ‘With its vast ancient literature and deep metaphysics at the core of which lie the Vedanta Sutras of Vyasa, the Bhagavad Gita and the Upanishads known together as Prasthana Thraya, Hinduism strives to explore Truth and the true nature of reality. Like the lotus that grows in water whose leaves and petals remain dry, the yogi derives nourishment from the material world but remains undefiled and untouched by its seductions. In this way, one who wishes to lead a spiritual life of a responsible member of a modern society examines the philosophy, spiritual teachings, metaphysics and cultural practices of Hinduism – known collectively as Sanatana Dharma - and he attempts to give one a grasp of its true essence.