Autobiography of an 
Indian Pilgrim to Christianity

Stephen Santanu Goswami

© Copyright 2005 by Stephen Santanu Goswami


 This is a small part of my book of about 100 pages

 It is an autobiographical and philosophical treatise. It is the result of my 60 years of Indian riot experience, religious life as a Hindu monk, conversion to Christianity, rejection from catholic seminary and evangelical and charitable rewarding work among Indian Muslims. It is my first unpublished book. Born in an atheist family, promoting suicide mentality, I searched for a loving God for survival. At the brink of death, Christ pulled me up by his love at 18 years age. I have witnessed so many miracles, healings to bolster my and other’s faith. These I want to share here in the background of a new modern Christian philosophical understanding, easy for modern people.

 The eye of a hurricane

1) By our front door road in Dinajpur Town, there used to be angry processions Everyday demanding a Muslim homeland in India . Dinajpur town was the district headquarters of the Muslim dominated district of Dinajpur, now in Bangladesh . At that time around 1946 it was undivided India . Attacks on the minority Hindu community were occurring frequently in Muslim dominated areas around the town, but the authorities could maintain peace and order inside the town. So it was like the calm center of the raging communal riot’s hurricane around. Hindus retaliated where they had strength but being non-violent peaceful people they were defeated Even where they were a majority. So they were fleeing for their lives leaving land, properties and burnt houses. Wholesale rape and abduction was the rule. But this was our once peaceful homeland, Evergreen and beautiful, a land of milk and honey. Our ancestral home was in a village in adjacent Rajshahi district, called Sultanpur. I clearly remember my childhood there in the riverside house in idyllic surroundings, cooing of doves, cuckoo calls, river full of fish and sailing boats. But I was very fearful of boat rides. Once I howled so much in the ferryboat, that father had to turn back with me from the midstream. We had seasonal delicious fruits from our garden, and flower plants surrounded our mud house home, spreading their aroma. But we had to leave that house and move to Dinajpur Town as Father got a teacher’s job in the Dinajpur College . There parents and three of us, two brother one sisters lived in rented house. I enrolled in a school, near the college and railway lines.

2)Our minds were being vitiated by the Communal hatred; the leaders were spreading for their narrow gains. The roars of these power thirsty leaders drowned the gentle voice of Gandhi and other sane people calling for tolerance and forgiveness. It is easier to inspire baser passions in fallen humanity, than good sense. I was no exception. Besides, I was an evil-minded urchin, rebellious, obstinate and selfish, even hating parents for their efforts at disciplining me. Very naturally I began to hate the Muslims. Later the “Karma” philosophy together with the teaching of love and forgiveness of Jesus let me understand that we all fell from heaven corrupting our neighbors and ourselves as illustrated by the prodigal son’s story in the Bible. Every type of corruption within us and in others is our own collective making, rebelling against the Heavenly Father. Every evil we experience here in others and self is what we have cultivated corporately and individually before our fall in heaven. And now we have come into the Devils’ kingdom because we choose them as our leader in heaven as did Adam and Eve before their fall. So we came in the line of Adam and Eve, the rebel. Like flocks to like. Certainly our souls were created in heaven as Hindu philosophy tells and Bible also intrinsically, teaches. Those who tell, God created souls during impregnating copulation where 90 percent of them die and the remaining sin-defiled living are led to hell in this Devil’s kingdom, does blaspheme casting a slur on Him.

3)The fire of vengeance in East Bengal was due to our powerful and high caste ancestors’ tyranny and exploitation of the lower castes, mainly Buddhist people. The higher castes didn’t even touch them. Besides high caste Hindus were very cruel on women. They were burnt alive after their husband’s death, driven out at the slightest suspicion of impurity and various forms of torture were inflicted on them. So these aggrieved people embraced Islam, open to all when the preachers arrived around 13th century. They were polygamous, so could absorb these outcaste women and people. So they steadily became the majority being sturdier due to genetic out crossing. Hindu Society was closed to outsiders, even for those trying to return back. The previous religion of this area and the rest of India was Buddhism, which was wonderfully open to all. It taught non-violence and stressed on the sovereign law of consequence of action in building human destiny. But its fault was its absence of active love for God or for men. Is suspected love as bondage. Of course love degenerate into bondage if confined, when its main center is not God i.e. the universal unity of goodness. It is then infatuation. From our small love we must proceed to higher love. But Buddhists proscribe people to renounce family love to extinguish all desires. So it created many virtual widows and orphans, killing love. This is the suicide of Buddhism in India , losing its social usefulness. The Brahmanism coming up from South India filled the void created by the dying Buddhism. The name ‘Hinduism’ was unknown then, latter coined by the Christian missionaries to denote many divergent religious practices found in Hindustan . After Buddhism’s demise South Indian kings dominated the North India too. But later the Muslim invaders drove them out. But the cultural and religious influence of South India continues till now. The present deities Hindus worship, are South Indian mainly. The previous Vedic deities were forgotten long ago due to the influence of Buddhism. These new deities were mainly mythological kings and queens who made love and war, revengeful and passionate. In a sense it was the Indian people’s rebellion against the puritanical principles of Buddhism, non-violence, chastity and detachment. We now see the same type of rebelling against Christianity in the traditional Christian countries.

4)Now our country was rapidly turning to civil war. My maternal grandparents, sensing the imminent disaster, sold their property and house for a pittance and migrated to West Bengal , a Hindu majority area sure to be included in India . They did it at the right time, later it would have been difficult to escape unscathed. They urged us to come to West Bengal . But it was not easy. Everything had to be sold and it was difficult to find buyers. Besides, getting a job in the refugee-laden West Bengal was very difficult. So father hesitated. Meanwhile riots threatened to engulf us. The Bihari Muslims, themselves victims of Bihar riots, took leadership in attacking Hindus, raping, butchering and burning. Hindus sometimes retaliated but they were basically non-violent people, whereas Muslim religion encouraged killing of infidels as a religious duty. But hatred and violence don’t pay ultimately. The Biharies who got rich with looted Hindu properties were themselves plundered and became paupers and homeless at the hands of the Bengali Muslims during the Seventies freedom struggle, because Biharies helped the tyrannical West Pakisthanis. Hatred may give temporary benefit, but at the end, it destroys by eroding all internal and external bonds.

The Exodus

5)Meanwhile the partition of India and independence from British rule came together on 15th August 1947 . The countryside was in flames. Finally we had to flee. Father somehow secured an assistant teacher job in a high school with the help of my influential maternal uncle. I was in Kharagpur, a railway town in West Bengal . So one day we silently and secretly rode to the railway station without bidding goodbye to the friends. Everyone was fearful and apprehensive. We could see that in our parents. We had heard of the train attacks by cutting the signal wire and stopping the train midway. Then the goons attacked the Hindus murdering, looting, raping and abducting young girls. Still the railway was better than roadway where chances of being attacked were greater. So we embarked on the train from Dinajpur railway station in the morn. The steam engine used then to pull the train was slower. It was packed with people all fearful and silent. But fortunately we were spared in our day and night journey. In the morn, we crossed the Indian border and then steamed into Ranaghat Junction. The passengers began to laugh and talk being released from a tremendous stress. From there we went to our maternal uncles small railway quarters in Kanchrapara. Uncle worked in the railway office there. Here we waited until father could rent a house in Kharagpur and take us there. Here one night we learnt that Gandhi, while trying to stop riots in Delhi . was killed by a Hindoo fanatic. We Bengalis generally thought Gandhi to be our enemy blaming him very wrongly, because his teaching of Non violence was supposed to be responsible for the Hindoo passivity. Oh how easily we condemn goodness and love, to worship violence and hatred, the same we have done with Jesus and his true followers.

6)Finally we came to Kharagpur by train. Now we really enjoyed the journey being released from fear. We settled in the suburbs of Kharagpur Town . This place, Subashpally, once Muslim dominated, now was crowded with refugee. Its name came from Subash Chandra who rebelled against Gandhi and joined the bloody Nazis for the lust of power. It is natural for us all rebel against the Heavenly Father, to rever and follow the rebel leaders to suicide. Whatever we gain by sin, violence and hatred will be destroyed by the same in the end as our sages have foretold. But we are blind to see that it is true even in our lifetime. British have given us everything. Freedom from despots, disunity, superstitions, ignorance, disease, hunger, insecurity and we call them enemy. Every messenger of love and forgiveness is enemy to us. So we are preparing ourselves for the atomic war holocausts as the Jews prepared themselves for the Roman holocaust rejecting Jesus and his message and following his murderers in attacking the Romans. So we have elevated the maker of Indian A Bomb to the highest position of President

The search for a lifeline

 7)Our suburb was mainly populated by the refugees who tried to forget their loss by good social activity. But the culture of hatred stirred by the daily news of communal riots proved very much detrimental to our minds. My parent became atheists, bitter and family quarrels became frequent, conjugal love being weakened. Mother had to bear much. We have lost everything. So she could not afford a housemaid. She had to take a greater responsibility in bringing us up as father gradually became withdrawn and neurotic. His atheism also became aggressive, losing faith in religions. I was groping in this darkness, for some emotional hold to save my soul. In Subashpally, Hindoo ceremonies and worshipping was frequent but the ferocious looking deities, intent on murder, disgusted me. Fortunately one of our neighbor was a Baptist Christian and prayer meetings were held in his house from time to time. I attended the prayer meetings for some time. The idea of a loving God gave me much solace. So I started praying secretly in my house too.

8)But soon there was a reaction against Christianity in our family. Brahmins always despise Christians as low castes, as generally the oppressed low caste people accepted Christianity in India . So they picked up a quarrel with that Christian family and I also hated them and stopped going to prayer meetings. My maternal grandfather was a Krishna worshipper and he initiated me in it. So I began reciting Gita, which exhorted Arjun to fight against his brothers accepting it as a religious duty. The immoral writer Vyasa composed it as the exhortation of the mythological king Krishna to Arjun, contending with his brothers for the kingdom. The poison of hatred from every side was crippling me as the wholesome effect of Christianity was removed. Bitterness gave rise to the temptation to suicide. I thought that when there is no after life why continue this miserable existence in a world without love?

One day when my math’s teacher scolded me and threatened to complain to may father, I resolved to take my life if he rebuked me again next day, for not doing the sums, which were difficult for me. Belladonna plants abounded and suicides on the railway tracks were frequent. But fortunately, the math’s teacher fell sick and in the meantime I did the sums with Mother’s help. Another macabre incident happened before me one morning. While going to school I came upon the disemboweled body of a man who was murdered in his sleep, by his wife and her lover. Thus my faith in family fidelity was shaken .

9)This time father enrolled me in National Cadet Corps (N.S.C.) which gave school children preliminary military training. They gave us rifle shooting practices when we went to a military camp. Though I was the youngest of the group, being about 11 years old, I stood first in the rifle shooting. But something within me warned me not to take pride in violence. War was repugnant to me. Near our house was a vaisnav Monastery where celibate worshippers always chanted the name of Krishna . My maternal grandfather used to visit it with me. The celibate monk hood is a legacy of Buddhism, which is almost dead in India now. They previously worshipped Buddha. But Buddha soon lost ground to Hindu deities. So these celibates or family deserters required an alternative centre of devotion and that was the locally popular deity, by which they got social support to fulfill their needs. So we see the queer spectacle of the nonviolent celibate mendicants worshipping amorous, bloody gods whose principles were exactly the opposite to their. A fallen heaven prostate before the Devil.

10)The decadence of Buddhism was due to the wrong interpretation of “Karma” the law of cause and effect or retribution and prescribing false remedy. Their world vision was incoherent. We never do good or bad alone. All our actions are corporate. The unity of all good we call God was absent in their vision. Though, the false unity of all bad, called ‘Mar’ was present during Buddha’s enlightment experience, as the Devil was present during Jesus 40 day fast too. Our sin, that causes us weakness and consequently suffering, is our action or irresponsibility against that good’s unity. Sin is essentially breaking up, scattering. Losing sight of that unity Buddhism prescribed false atonement. Buddha acknowledges the help of gods for getting his Bodhi or enlightment but denies any heavenly agents’ help for human salvation. So his salvation turned into the veritable suicide of Nirvana, killing of all desires. But true salvation is deliverance from pride by love which gives us control of desires for guiding them for building up self and society. He argues thus “suppose when one is pierced by an arrow, we have to minister to him immediately. No use of enquiring who attacked him.” This is wrong reasoning! If I don’t reform the enemy, the victim will be pierced again, soon. Most possibly, his misdeeds have produced a revenging neighbor. So helping him means, changing his character by promoting repentance. We have seen that we are unable to change our character only by ourselves. Help from above called grace is necessary as Buddha himself got. He proposes absence of violence and forgiveness, all negative things. But Christ proposes active love even to the enemy just not abstaining from taking revenge. We have to go out to enemy to change his heart by love because he is sick in his heart. To remove the evil Christ told us to turn the other cheek and give away our shirt too if one snatches up our shawl. But Buddha proposed renouncement of material things because it causes bondage to the unspiritual. Christ also told us to give away our things and properties to the poor only to make a kingdom of love, a very different objective than Nirvana. For a higher objective lower objectives are to be sacrificed. So he prescribed preference to God’s work over family, society, country. He said whoever loves anything more than God and him, the way to ultimate unity, is not, worthy of him. Off course he does not tell us to hate or forget the others, but love all. Here loyalty to a higher authority supersedes loyalty to a lesser authority. Let me elaborate. The authority of an elder brother is lower than the Mother’s. Father’s authority supersedes that of the Mother, country’s call is above father’s, so God’s call comes before all of them. If one obeys a lower authority disobeying a higher authority he harms himself and the lower authority too. If a citizen disobeys the order of the state to obey his family or parents he harms himself and others too in the long run.

Fleeing to a Hindu Monastery

11)Back to my life story. I thought that in the vaisnava monastic life admired by my grandfather, I may find God and a purpose for living. I was apprehensive that despair and depression may drive me to suicide. At the age of 12 years parental approval was impossible. So I ran away from my home penniless, one fateful night. Later father almost got me but I ran away from him through fields. I had no love for my parents being most self centered and hard hearted. Walking by day I took shelter in a farmer’s mud house in the first night. He offered me food. Next night I slept in the Kolaghat railway station. There a policeman took pity on me, fed me in a hotel and advised me to go back home. Sometime I picked berries and fruits from trees for food. Once I rode a train, without ticket of course, but a checker got me and imprisoned me at the Bandel station. But the station master had pity seeing my famished condition. From there I crossed the Ganges rives and reached the Mayapur Gouriya Math. I presented myself to the head, Maharaj Vakti Chaitanya Sarswati. He was a little surprised by my young age and placed me in a dormitory for novices, called Bramhacharies. It was inhabited by men of various ages and background. At the first night, I had a homosexual attack. Later, I found out that, this habit is almost universal among the novices and even among the Maharajas. But my attraction for Krishna held me there or may be this was a subtle way of fleeing from the world of strife, competition and various pressures.

Fate, horoscope and gene manipulation

12) Ultimately, the elders found out my refuge and came to take me back. Grandfather came. Being fond of him, I returned with him reluctantly. But as soon as I returned home an urge to go back seized me. So I refused food and water until they let me go. So they had to return me to the monastery. In this connection there is an interesting point about fate and horoscope. Hindus make a horoscope at the time of birth from the position of stars at the birth time. To search for me, my family consulted my horoscope, which is a brief forecast of life events, and found written there, that at 12 years of age I shall flee from home and go north. Other forecasts were also more or less proved to be true afterwards in my life.

13)Back to may life story. This time, I was enrolled in a school nearby. I was placed alone in a room by the side of the main temple. Here I studied, heard lectures on scriptures, recited beads, did chores of the temple, attended the morning and Evening devotions. At first I liked it much. When father visited me next time I had the audacity to tell him that Krishna was all to me and he was nothing. But latter probing deep in the Hindu scriptures and mythologies I was shocked by the violence and immortality of Gods, most of whom committed suicide at the end. Then how they can help me to live? So my faith in them was gone and after almost three years I returned back home with my father, when he visited me last time.

Now I was enrolled back in the railway high school where my father was a teacher. The teachers accepted me affectionately and put me under surveillance. But my spiritual turmoil continued. I enquired about other branches of Hinduism but found the same incongruity there. So I resolved to search in other religions. By the side of our railway quarters a Muslim Moulavi teacher of our school resided. I went to him several times. I also went to the big mosque nearby to see and hear the namaz. The military like discipline in it looked enchanting. But the prospect of Allah’s Wrath upon the sinners, the hellfire, repelled me. When I read that at ‘Keymat’ Allah will order Angels to destroy all and then to commit suicide, I was appalled. The same fate as the Hindoo gods! Then who will save us? Then I enquired about Sikh religion. My Sikh friend Baktar Singh took me to his Gurudwara, meaning teacher’s door, where Sikhs worship their scripture granthasahib, meaning the best book. He was also a refugee like us, but from West Pakisthan , on the other side of India . He was proud of the way Sikhs took revenge, not like the passive Hindu Bengalis. His ghastly tale of mass murder and train load of dead bodies of Muslims returned for a train load of Sikh refugee dead bodies shocked me. Gurudwaras also shocked me with their display of weapons as I had an instinctive horror of violence. This ended my brush with Sikh religion.

15)Later, I studied the Sikh history and was intrigued to find how the pacifist religion of Guru Nanak was forced to change into a militant religion by the cruel attacks of the militant religion of Islam. Later, I compared it to the victory of true Christianity by love and faith over the cruel nations over the ages until now. They suffered with love three centuries in the beginning in hands of Imperial Rome and other nations and at the end overcame them. Recently they overcame the atheist communism in Europe and Russia . Only when majority renegade Christians took up arms they were defeated as in Middle East and Africa . Why Sikhs could not be like them? Possibly, Guru Nanak had no contact with Christianity and Christ. His pilgrimage was only to the Muslim and Hindu shrines. His religion was a synthesis of both these religions. The supreme love and repentance of the Heavenly Father and Jesus was unknown to him. Only that can give power to withstand the forces of hell. Some may think that by refusing to take up arms, they would have been wiped out. Those who don’t believe in heaven and soul argue like that. Even the majority of Christians, who don’t really believe, say it. Those who cherish their hearth, home and physical progeny more than heaven and spiritual progeny are bound to be such unbelievers. The leaders of so called Christian nations are such now. So they are defeating themselves. The Sikhs could have given up their hearth and home and retreated. Even those who would have been killed continuing in love and forgiveness would have attained that heaven of love and forgiveness. With superior power from there, they could easily convert their attackers as Jesus and saints did. It happened in Europe many times when Barbarians overran the Christian nations. Spiritual death by hatred and sin matters, physical death is nothing. A soul can overcome death like Christ in love and forgiveness. Continuing worldly existence without love is hell and curse as old people experience often. But Nanak had very little idea of heaven of humility and love.

The dawn of Christianity

16)My study suffered much because of these distractions. I lost one year and somehow passed in the second division in the School Final Exams. Then elders decided to transfer me to Chinsurah College near my maternal uncle’s home. But here I fared badly. Then they transferred me to the Dupleix College in Chandernagar, a previous French colony, where another of my aunt lived. Uncle was the C.M.O of the hospital there. Through his good offices I was enrolled in that prestigious college in spite of my dismal record and behavior. I went away from there frequently whenever a Hindu “Guru” came nearby. But, every time I returned frustrated. I also went to see romantic Bengali films in nearby cinema halls, abstaining from my classes. The turmoil inside my soul produced acute disturbances in my mind. I was at the brink of madness as my classmates after remarked. They avoided me. The two year term of Intermediate in science was coming to an end now, but I had not studied at all. At class I was most inattentive. One day a lecturer caught me writing disparaging remarks during his lecture and reported to the principal. He debarred me from class until I got forgiveness from the teacher after tendering my apology. So I did not attend the class for some days. At last, I humbled myself and asked for pardon, was forgiven and rejoined class.

17)This time I thought of probing into Christianity. I had the impression that the lecturer I offended was a Christian because he talked of Christ in the class. Possibly he prayed for me. Now I wonder why I did not try to know Christ before. May be it was due to our caste’s deep seated aversion for Christianity. This is a tragedy that we humans hate those who help us most. Hindoos would have been converted to Islam or destroyed by infighting had not Christians, united hundreds of kingdoms and built up India, cleansed Hindooism after forging different opposing groups together, taught us, gave us Everything health, morality, stability, government, stable institutions and we count them as foe. We are the disciples of the Arch rebel, Satan.

18)By the side of the college was a catholic church. I ventured into it timidly one day on Tiffin time and met the pastor. He was a hurry to go somewhere. So he could not give me time but gave some holy pictures. Pocketing the pictures I returned to the college somewhat vexed. But as I looked at the pictures a miraculous peace descended on my mind. I made up my mind for further enquiry into Christianity. Fortunately when I came back to my parental home during summer vacation, I met a saintly catholic priest at the nearby Catholic Church. He most kindly took interest in this dissipated down and out youngster, listened with patience and taught me to pray, especially to Mary, Mother of Christ. Now I understand that she is not the biological mother of Jesus, but the unity of all mothers in heaven. I didn’t comprehend Christ’s love then, but Mother’s long suffering love I had experienced and understood. So I could pray to Mary. That worked marvels in my tormented soul. I experienced a transformation within me. My mind came under control so that I could concentrate on study. Less than two months away from my final exams, I finished the whole course and fared well in the final exams. My elders suspected my leaning towards Christianity, but seeing the good effect upon me, did not object. So I passed the exams and entered a Diploma Engineering College in Bishnupur in the Bankura District. I stood first in the entrance exam.. I entered the student hostel dormitory. Here I read books given by Fr. Prem and prayed alone in the ravine like back area of the hostel. The students had some respect for me but I had little love for them. God wanted me to grow in love but I feared people. One night I had unrest in my soul and went to the lonely ravine to pray. The local people avoided the place even in daytime fearing it to be haunted. The night was dark and as I was praying for sometime, a black figure suddenly came menacingly near me to catch my throat. I somehow warded off his attack and ran back to the hostel. Later I found out that the attacker was a demon possessed local youth. I talked to him about God and Christ but saw no apparent effect. This stopped me praying in the ravine. God wanted me to grow up socially.

19)Though I was baptized while studying in the Engineering College , with my parent’s permission, I had no Christian fellowship there. But when I got my vacation I went to the Catholic Church in Midnapore town. There Fr. Ernst and his community gave me their hospitality and fellowship. I prayed in the Church there and counted the rosary. Protestant brethren criticized my praying to Madonna and reciting repetitive prayer. But a soul fallen to the depths has different stages of growing up in Godliness. I was unable to grasp the deeper love of Christ and incapable of good quality prayer. So repetitive formula of prayer was suitable to me, as telling beads. Both I practiced while I was in the Hindu monastery. But growing up spiritually later, I discarded these practices for more suitable spontaneous prayers and works of charity. Praying to Mary and understanding her love brought me nearer to Christ in this way. But Christ matured me soon to make me understand that those obey Heavenly father is his real mother, brother and sister. Later I am narrating how I was blessed by their acquintances and their miracles.

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