JANKI DAS becomes Maria Das
Until three years ago I was Janki Das. I was a Hindu Pandit reasonably well known in Mumbai. I had studied 4 Vedas, 18 Puranas and 108 Upanishads. I had taken great interest in popularizing books like the Bhagwat Gita, Ramayana and Mahabharata. I used to be invited for conducting poojas in the homes of the rich in Mumbai. People had great admiration and faith in my poojas and in my incantations.
Whenever I asked people to do something as per the modes given in the Vedas they blindly obeyed me. Although I never asked for any remuneration, I always got plenty from the satisfied and grateful people. My monthly earnings exceeded Rs. 20,000. I had taken great pains to see that I adhered strictly to the ritualistic patterns and conventions envisaged in the various poojas. I used to get up very early in the morning and only after taking bath I would be doing any act connected with the pooja. I was so revered by the people who had faith in me that they even drank the water in which I washed my legs. They even believed that if I entered their house, it would become holy.
The Bhagwat Gita says that if you do your duty you will get the reward for it. But whatever poojas I did, my mind never experienced peace. The film producer named Aditya Pancholi had erected a cross in Mumbai. I used to pass near that cross each day. One day as I was passing that cross, somebody called me from behind, “Janki Das! Janki Das!” When I looked back I did not see anybody. As I began to walk away, I heard the call again. I again looked back. But nobody was around. As I was about to move forward, I heard this very clearly, “Janki Das, you go everywhere. Why don’t you come to me?”
I realized that the voice was coming from the cross. Because of some inexplicable inner power I retraced my steps and bowed my head before the cross. Some interjection sounding like ‘Hallelujah’ escaped from my throat. I did not now what that word meant. When that word was repeated, I felt some kind of peace settling in my mind. I knelt there and prayed for nearly half an hour. The Divine Presence was making me his own. “There is no one who can deliver from my hand; I work and who can hinder it?” (Is 43:13). Although I had not known Jesus, I started praying under the cross from the following day.
When people saw me praying there they asked me, “Why do you pray here? Go to the temple to pray.” But since the prayer here gave me solace, I continued praying there. One day when I was praying one man approached me and asked me to pray for him. He was a cameraman, who was producing a film. He was financially broken. I prayed for him. The following day he came to me and thanked me. He told me that his financial problems were solved and he could restart shooting for the film which had stopped due to lack of funds. I saw the God that listens to my prayer.
“Before they call I will answer, while they are yet speaking I will hear” (Is 65:24). I never knew what the Bible was. So I began to learn it. As per the suggestion of one of my friends, I took part in a retreat. Thus, through the Bible, I came to know who Jesus was. When I came to know the truth, I rectified my mistakes. I stopped performing all kinds of pooja and I began to go to church. My family members who came to know of my change drove me away from home. Somebody who was getting more than Rs.20000 a month was now getting worth even less than Rs. 20.
I neither had money nor a roof over my head; not even a shelter to sleep. I began sleeping on the pavement. The Word had become my life experience. “Can a woman forget her nursing child, or show no compassion for the child of her womb? Even these may forget, yet I will not forget you” (Is 49:15). Although all my people had denied me, Jesus was there to acknowledge me as his own. I went to take part in a retreat at Tabor Ashram in Kalyan, Mumbai. Then I took part in two retreats at DRC Muringoor, in Kerala. Later I received baptism and took the name Maria Das. I dedicated my life to serving Jesus. For three months I had been busy in evangelization work in Arunachal Pradesh.
Evangelization in Mumbai
Now I am involved in a prayer service in Mumbai. I am now speaking about Jesus to the very same RSS and Bajrang Dal loyalists who used to prostrate before me for my blessings. Although some of them are still in the Bajrang Dal, their minds are with ‘Jesus Dal’. In our prayer house, people belonging to different faiths – Hindus, Muslims, Sikhs and Christians of all denominations - come to pray. Not only the Bible, but even the Koran says, Jesus is God. There will definitely come one day when all the mankind will accept and acknowledge Jesus. “I have other sheep that do not belong to this fold. I must bring them also, and they will listen to my voice. So there will be one flock, one shepherd” (Jn 10:16). It is because many people do not know the truth that they do not come to Jesus. “You will know the truth and the truth will make you free” (Jn 8:32). Only Jesus can release us from all kinds of bondage. It is only Jesus that loves people of all faiths equally. “God so loved the world that he gave his only Son, so that everyone who believes in him may not perish but may have eternal life” (Jn 3:16).
If God loved only Christians, definitely he would not call me by name. He did not tell me, “ Hey Janki Das, aren’t you a Hindu?. So why don’t you keep away from here?” On the contrary he told me, “Janki Das, why don’t you come near me?” That God calls people by name was news to me. “I have called you by name” (Is 43:1). Jesus came to wipe away the tears of all and remove the stains of sin and lift us right up to the presence of the Most High.
He came “so that everyone who believes in him may not perish but may have eternal life” (Jn 3:16). Merely by becoming a Christian, one can not hope to get salvation. He must follow Jesus. “If you confess with your lips that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved” (Rom 10:9). The heart should be transformed in accordance with the Word.
The gain I have today can’t be had by giving any amount of money. Today I live not because of money, but because Jesus came into my life. He continues to live as the Lord of all (Is 43:10).
souce Vachanolsavam: June 2007 Magazine
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