After qualifying as a Chartered Accountant and working for five years in Delhi and on being transferred to Mumbai, my next destination was Saudi Arabia as finance manager of a multinational company. It was there that I acquired the friendship of Jawahar Lal Sethi, whose wife also happened to hail from Delhi. And through them, I came in touch with a person, who lived in a village 130 km from Hyderabad, and who was later to be my ‘Guruji.’
Whenever my friend Jawahar came face to face with any tough task, he would consult this preceptor and his directions would easily resolve any issue considered difficult. This phenomenon impressed me and I too wanted this man to be my guru. I had flown all the way from Saudi Arabia to meet this guide who would from then on be my guide and philosopher for more than seven years.

He used to make the impossible, possible and if I considered him a ‘living god’ giving him precedence over all the deities I had worshipped until then, it was only natural. I can recall many instances in which he performed near miracles justifying my deep faith in him.

Just to cite one example: my elder brother sought my help to get an opening in a petroleum company in Saudi after his retirement. He is also a Chartered Accountant who had specialized in the field of petroleum. I could succeed in finding him an opening, but then there was this hitch: in the public sector units in Saudi Arabia, only Muslims were eligible for employment. Dismayed, I took up the issue with my ‘guruji’. He suggested, after closing his eyes and going deep in spiritual slumber that I seek help from such and such persons. When I followed up his route plan, the goal was achieved: my brother got the employment. Literally impossibility became a possibility since in Saudi Arabia to by- pass religion is certainly an impossibility. 

The guru passed away all of a sudden at a young age in 1988. It was like the ground under my feet giving way. I later emigrated to Canada. While in Saudi Arabia, I had suffered from minor ailments earlier, my health condition deteriorated considerably in Canada. The heartbeat often rose to 150 as against the normal 72. There was restlessness and sweating and I was having a multi system failure. Am I heading for a heart attack?  All kinds of fears and above all the fear of death haunted me. After subjecting me to numerous tests, doctors could not find any reason for my sickness. I was given medication for reducing the heart rate contending that since the cause of the disease is not known, there was no way they could treat me.

 Thinking that it was better to die back home, I returned to India. At a friend’s suggestion, I went to a top astrologer who had hotline facility with central ministers including the PM then. Looking at my horoscope, he divined that it was an adverse planetary positioning that was causing the trouble. All that he wanted me to do was to go to the Hanuman temple and complete a ritual-- that of adorning the deity with sindoor, ghee, and silver leaves on the idol (in local term called Chola Chadhana).

At the Hanuman temple, I befriended another devotee, one Dr Jitender Arora, who used to make fond inquiries about my condition. When I did not make any progress in my health, he ventured to suggest that my problems might not be physical. It could be the effect of some black magic, witchcraft or something similar. Then he explained the reason for his suspicion.
He has a sister who unknowingly got married into a rich greedy family and faced continuous demand for more dowry. Initially this was complied with; there came a point when the girl’s family could no more meet those demands.

Enraged, the mother in law is reported to have approached a tantrik to put evil spirits on the girl. The devastating effect was such that his sister who used to look like a film star, lost her shine, got emaciated and almost shrunk in size. Dr Arora wondered at the deterioration in her health. It took them quite some time to discover the cause of her decimated appearance. They stumbled across the truth only when the exorcist revealed the black magic done on her. Once the evil spirits left her, she regained normalcy.     
     
Completing the story, Dr Jitender remarked: “Could be that your problem is also caused by demonic powers?” The dentist did not expect me to accept his explanation. Most educated people, he said, felt reluctant to concede the presence of spirits or their role in human affairs.    

I could not brush aside my friend’s fears. After much persuasion, I accompanied by my son, went to meet an exorcist who happened to be in Delhi around the time. He held my hand and with an expression of astonishment on his face remarked that such was the deadly potential of the witchcraft that it was a miracle that I was still alive. Two spirits came out of me and two from my son. To the tantrik’s questions, they began answering in Hyderabadi dialect. The tantrik even rebuked a spirit for speaking in English! It was all a new experience to me and quite shocking! 

The exorcist invited me to his hometown for continuation of my treatment. Initially I was apprehensive of making the trip and debated with my wife for nearly two hours. I had felt a little relief in the symptoms of my sickness and so decided to take it as an opportunity provided for my healing. Myself and son proceeded to Baheri at the foot of the Nainital hills. There were large crowds waiting every day for ‘deliverance’ from evil spirits. There were Hindus, Sikhs and Muslims seeking help. He was well known in that area for this particular task.

Somehow I noted an inexplicable change in the behaviour of the exorcist and it was tiring to wait in long queues for his darshan and demon deliverance (so called). After three days we were glad to return. But things had taken a turn for the worse. I had literally moved from the frying pan to the fire.

Here I was lacking nothing…power, position and wealth. But there was no peace within. Whatever I attempted ended in failure. The deteriorating health filled me with fear. I received all kinds of suggestions to resolve my situations and I tried most of them. I was like a drowning man, clutching at every straw.

It was then, one fine morning, (It was 7 am) that my sister- in- law (my elder brother’s wife) along with some friends descended on my home and she said: “We have come to pray for you; there is witchcraft done on you!”  They offered to pray for me though I was least inclined and had difficulty concealing my hatred. And she insisted that I pray to Jesus leaving all other gods and goddesses of mine. I, a staunch Hindu, was not willing to do it. I told her that the only concession I was willing to make was to accept Jesus as one of the gods. To which she replied that I cannot have my feet in two boats. I was offended by their intervention but at the same time did not want to be discourteous.

A few days later my sister in law’s daughter wrote me a four-sentence letter.  It began: “My Chotte uncle: You are the most religious person in the family. Your gods and goddesses could not stop a petty man in a village from harming you through his witchcraft?  I am compelled to write these few lines by the Holy Spirit” It kindled my anger for it was quite provocative. I tore it off in a huff. However the thought put in my mind did not go away. “Yes, how is it that a person like me, so devout and faithful, should be troubled by witchcraft?”  

Her zeal was understandable. She had tasted the power of faith at a point of crisis in her own life. The crisis was in the form of a spinal problem. She had such severe pain that she even decided to take her own life to end the misery after the doctors had given up. It was then that a Sri Lankan neighbour in Saudi Arabia, a Hindu who had embraced the Christian faith, and his wife, a Buddhist turned Christian, prayed for her and cured her quite miraculously. My elder brother had also by then become quite interested in the Gospel and even taken to preaching Christ in Mumbai after resigning from Saudi Arabia.

It was November 1994. The Hindustan Times carried a half page advertisement about an evangelist, John Osteen, holding meetings at the Jawaharlal Nehru stadium. It seemed to be about spirituality, about the claims of Jesus. Besides there were promises that the sick would be prayed for. In the light of my desperate state and also the intervention of my relations with their claims about the miraculous healing centered round Jesus, I thought of attending the convention. 

Thousands attended the mammoth convention held by John Osteen and his team at the large stadium. The evangelist’s torrent of words, passing through the giant sound box under which I had taken my seat were not very intelligible. My friend Sethi and his wife left after 10 minutes, as they found no point in sitting there without being able to listen to the sermon. However I sat through. When it was time for prayer, he asked the sick to place their hands over the area of the body where the sickness was located.

I placed my hands on my chest, liver, kidney and forehead by turn for I had no idea where my illness was rooted. In fact I was sick all over. Nothing happened to me. I was however puzzled when a sardarji on crutches nearby got up suddenly and began shouting, “ Mei changa Hogaya! Mei changa Hogaya!! (I am healed!  I am healed!!) A few others came over the mike and narrated their healing experiences.    

How could this be? Until that day, I had not heard of anyone getting healed through prayers said over the microphone. Could be these are being stage-managed in an attempt to convert people to the Christian faith. This fraud must stop. I must report this to the police. Such were the thoughts that passed through my mind and I shared the same with my wife. Being more religious and prudent, she advised me to exercise caution: “ God can do anything!”    

It was a three-day convention and on the second day, I alone made it to the meeting. My wife had stayed back. I sat in an area of the stadium; where genuinely sick persons were brought for healing (some on hospital beds). More testimonies of various kinds of healing were heard. Doubtless, it began to dawn on me that so many could not be lying more so since most of them were non-Christians. The walls of resistance within me (to the claims of the miracle working power of Christ) began to crumble.

When I drove back home, one thought occupied my mind: if this is the true God, as my sister in law insisted, then what will I do with her demand to give up all other gods whom I had worshipped until now? That would be an impossible task for me. No, I cannot give up reciting the Hanuman chalisa, or the hymns to Durga and Shiva ... May be, I will add Christ to my list of deities. The fear of estranging my gods was lurking in one corner of my mind. 

My mind was struggling to find a way of escape from the dilemma—wanting the head to make a concession to the heart… Then I came across a formula: I will also pray to Jesus with my recitation of “Om Namo Jesus!”(I worship you Jesus). The Bible says (that I learnt later) “----whosoever shall call on the name of the Lord shall be saved” (Acts 2:21).

The next day, as I lisped the new mantra, it seemed as if the darkness was lifting from me--my negativity being replaced with hope and expectation. With passing days and weeks, my life seemed to take a new direction and problems getting resolved one by one. In three months, there was a complete change in my situation. Firstly, my health returned to normal. My heartbeat of 150 per minute fell to 72 without any medication. What is more, whatever my hands laid on, whatever I took up; began to prosper.

Encouraged by the new turn in my life, I rang up my sister- in- law to inquire what I must do next. “Burn up all those books and literature on gods and goddesses, astrology, yoga etc!” came her reply. Very soon, I made a bonfire of them. But neighbours watching the papers aflame wondered whether I was destroying secret documents in anticipation of an income tax raid!

Her next command was more difficult to carry out! She wanted me also to throw away all those bottles of whisky and wine, gathered from abroad and stored with care--some of them were very costly brands. For months, I debated within me unwilling to incur the monetary loss involved. Then at one point I felt an inner urge –that was ten days before the next Deepavali —to take a decision and throw away those bottles of intoxicants.

Soon in another week, I felt God was rewarding me for my obedience: the reward came in the form of an allotment of a plot of land in Faridabad for which I had applied long ago. It was the only plot available (on the main sector road) in a draw of lots in the public quota, the other one having gone under the chief minister’s quota. And the plot was worth a fortune.

As the veil lifted, I could see my situation more clearly. Looking back, I become aware that the Lord had delivered me from demonic powers of which I was ignorant earlier. The very guru who hailed from near Hyderabad, whose help I sought for solving all my problems and whose miracle working powers and prophetic predictions impressed me to the point of adoration as a Godman; was in fact using the powers of darkness to fulfill my needs. On the outside, he was a guru but inside a man controlling evil spirits, an agent of satan. 

Satan is the cause of much problems, sickness and suffering. There are spiritual forces at work behind the scenes that shape our circumstances. We live in a fallen world that is in darkness. That darkness causes suffering and hardships. 

The world of spirits and demons deceive a large number of people, even those who ought to know better. Rightly has the Bible warned: “For we wrestle not against flesh and blood but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places.” (Ephesians 6:12) 

The prince of the air (devil) controls the world and seeks to infiltrate the mind of man. It uses many allurements to deceive even the devout. Manifestations of demonic activities are too numerous to be listed. Often the devil appears before us as an angel of light. He is behind much of the evil in this world, the conflicts, hatred, wars and the like. That is why Lord Jesus warns in the Bible “Take heed therefore that the light which is in thee be not darkness”(Luke 11:35)

The tantrik, it dawned on me, was able to astound me by making things happen through the working of evil spirits. He had already put under his power a good number of people and wanted to manipulate me too. He had a list of distinguished people from all walks of life including politicians, doctors, engineers etc. Our Ambassador in Saudi Arabia then was also his disciple. 

Today varied spiritual experiences claiming miraculous results but having their origin to evil forces, pose a threat to mankind.

In his book, Free Indeed!  Tom Marshall writes: " You must realise this, because there are many spiritual experiences available today that come from the realm of death and have nothing to do with God. Not only do they include spiritism, the occult and pagan religions, but also idolatry in all its ancient and modern forms. Behind all of them, there is demonic activity seeking after man's spirit, not to give life, but to suck it dry.

Lord Jesus came to destroy the works of the devil, according to the Bible (1 John 3: 8). He spent considerable time casting out evil spirits from ‘possessed’ men and women. Not only that, He has given powers to all those who believe in Him to cast out such spirits. And He gave the promise: “ Verily I say unto you, Whatsoever you shall bind on earth shall be bound in heaven; and whatsoever you shall loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven.” (Matthew 18:18) and “ Behold I give unto you power to tread on serpents and scorpions and over all the power of the enemy and nothing shall by any means hurt you”(Luke 10:19).

You shall know the truth and the truth shall set you free.