Sri M’s spiritual journey from a curious young Pathan to a yogi, has already been detailed in his autobiography titled- ‘Apprenticed to a Himalayan Master- a Yogi’s Autobiography’, as he continues to inspire people with his endeavour to achieve communal harmony. Born as Mumtaz Ali Khan in Kerala, Sri Madhukarnath began his spiritual journey at the age of 19 as he fled to the Himalayas. After the demise of his master, he started to share his experiences and knowledge with the mass. Sri M is married, has two children and spends his time teaching and heading Satsang Foundation.
You began your journey to become a Yogi at a very young age...
I happen to be the only child of my parents who were Pathans following Islam in Kerala. Seeing me go in a different direction definitely upset them. Even though there were some problems, it did not escalate much... they understood me as they were educated people. Somehow I sailed through (laughs). I ran away from home at the age of 19, and wandered in the Himalayas for three years. I made no contact with my family, thinking that if they came to know of my existence, they might take me back! I had to face a lot of difficulty as at times I had to starve, or suffer otherwise. There was a time when people thought of me as a loafer. But whenever I entered an ashram, nobody objected because I belonged to a different religion, rather they were interested because I was serious about my journey...
How far did you undergo formal education?
I went to one of the best schools in Thiruvananthapuram, and then I studied English at college. But before completing it, I ran away. At one point I realised that one can survive without any formal education, so I rolled all my degrees up and threw them into the Ganga at Uttar Kashi and I never went back looking for a duplicate copy. I have survived throughout without my degrees.
Post your autobiography, are we expecting a new book based on the ‘Walk of Hope’?
Yes, definitely. There are three books in the pipeline. I want to finish the second part of my autobiography where every chapter will be independent. I’ll write another book on Neurology and spiritual experience, based on my personal experiences and the research I have done on Psychiatry and Psychology. The third will surely be on the ‘padyatra’. It would not be a travelogue, but more like the journey of life.
Unlike all the other spiritual guides you lead a different lifestyle, why?
It is a need for the art that spiritual development goes simultaneously with a normal life. It was also Babaji’s (Mahavatar Babaji) wish that spiritual teachings should be for everyone. Besides I think it puts an end to a frank discussion when the concept of godman comes in. ‘Atmano mokshartham jagat hitaya cha’, ‘Moksha’, for the soul and welfare for the earth, this was what I have learned.
What did you aim to achieve through this walk?
One of our major objectives is communal unity, and I think I am qualified to talk about it as I have seen and studied many religions and their essence is not very different. Apart from that I feel very sorry when women are considered subordinates, or are discriminated. Swami Vivekananda said that any nation that discriminates against women cannot develop. I wanted to walk and disseminate these messages to the common people. We used to meet new people every day in the evening and discuss these matters with them to spread our objectives.
How far do you think the walk has been successful?
Only the seeds have been sown, it requires a lot of follow up. Now it is time for us to rest for a while. During this resting period, we’ll gather everyone involved, for a conference and have a brain-storming session on how to continue this and how to nourish the seeds we have sown. The walk has not ended, it has just started. When I die somebody has to take over. My wife and my children did not object to the walk. If they had not supported me emotionally, I couldn’t have done it.
It was also beautiful to see how people from different religions welcomed us into different religious places without any disruption. Not a single Gurudwara, Mosque, Temple or Church stopped us. That gives us hope that there is communal harmony in the country. I refuse to believe that there are communal problems, it is a facade behind which there are vested interests and political compulsions.