If I had to ever return, then I would have never left it in the first place. I am a Sanatani now, and below is my story.
I was born in a typical Muslim family. As a child also, I didn’t like the sight of meat, let alone like to eat it. It used to be sheer torture to eat meat delicacies and several times, my dad would beat me up, for he thought that I was being fussy about food. It’s a different story, that today even my parents have changed into being vegetarians and also encourage their relatives to embrace it.
I was raised in a typical Islamic country, Kuwait, where I was taught by authentic Islamic teachers all about Islam. Verses from Quran used to be chosen and along with translations, I was forced into learning, all those fear instilling verses. I remember very well, being envy of non-Muslim kids, who were exempted from Islamic studies and instead were taught Moral Science. Several times, I would innocently plead my teacher to let me study Moral Science subject but was as usual, forced into attending Islamic studies.
The harder they tried to teach me, the further dismayed I became. As I grew up, I began to think for myself. I have never been afraid of thinking, even though my mom would warn me not to even entertain anti Islamic thoughts because that itself would amount to sinning! Being a rebel, I never listened to her or anyone else, and always went against the norm. I believed in thinking, and not follow blindly anything that was being preached to me. Even today, I follow my own intellect and inner wisdom.
Time passed by, and then I was sent to India to study medical science, after much pleading and convincing. I would look around at suffering, kids specially broke my heart. I started to wonder, what kind of God would allow such suffering? As per Islam, a human lives only one life and is judged based on that. I myself have suffered from polio and that angered me against God, for being so unjust and unfair. Why would God be so unkind to me and all those kids who suffered, while there were evil and mean people out there, who were enjoying life. None of this God concept made sense to me, and I turned into being an atheist. That’s it, I concluded that God is either dead or never ever existed, or He is just plain mean being who cares nothing about human beings, or perhaps he is asleep. And so, I remained an atheist, for a long time to come, in ignorance and darkness. There was much suffering in my life and I didn’t understand why I had to face so many challenges in my life. I just marched along, and dealt with life as it kept coming along.
Until…a breaking point came in my life…2015 changed it all.
I was going through a very tough time in life and thought, that I would lose my mind completely and have a nervous breakdown. So, I began meditation, just to calm down my mind and relax it. Little did I know, that my life was about to change forever!
It began in January 2015. I started meditation, and would meditate daily for about 30 minutes. I started enjoying meditation from the very start itself, as I started to lose sense of my body and would get transported into a complete different state of consciousness. Soon after, I started seeing image of Shiva! With Vasuki snake drapped around His neck, and His divine smiling face, He would keep appearing frequently. I kept dismissing it, assuming it to be just my own mind’s imagination. At times, I believed that these were perhaps some foreign energies trying to distract me. I kept searching for different theories but none made sense.
In Feb 2015, I was as usual meditating, as I had all ready got sort of addicted, and then I had a life changing experience. I felt an overwhelming Presence. I received a short message regarding my life suffering; but the Presence was so powerful, so full of love, that I wanted to instantly leave my mortal body and be one with that Presence. Tears rolled through my eyes in divine ecstasy and I felt a devotion, never experienced before in this life time! I called that Presence as God. From being lost and confused, to being an atheist, I had suddenly turned into being a believer, but without any religion even now. I didn’t care about religion, as it made no difference to me.
My journey of Self Realization began there onwards. I started to research, and found out, that, all that I all ready knew to be the Truth, was in alignment with Sanatan Dharma, Hindusim! This wasn’t easy for me, because I was always so judgemental about it, thanks to Islam, which preaches Muslims to hate idol worship and condemn all Hindu Gods to the maximum. Even though I didn’t follow Islam, but some amount of teachings had taken strong hold in my subconscious mind.
I began to explore Sanatan Dharma and found its various flavours and aspects. After denying Lord Shiva for 1.5 years, I finally accepted Him as my Guru. I began chanting His divine name and then my progress picked up dramatically. I realized certain divine abilities, which I have used to help several people. So much has changed in the last 3.5 years, that I don’t know who I was prior to 2015. I cannot relate to my personality, that it was, before my journey began.
From being someone, who was always running in the modern rat race, after name, fame and money, to becoming someone who has lost all desires and ambitions, I have changed totally. With passing time, I am becoming more passive and totally purposeless now, as I know, that everything that I think I am perceiving, is just the mind. I ran my own clinic successfully in Bangalore, but recently sold it away and in a matter of few months, I will quit practicing as well. Detachments are happening on their own, as I get closer to Shiva and feel Oneness. Challenges still come my way but they don’t affect me anymore. I don’t find difficult situations in life as suffering anymore, but consider them as essential to evolve into being better human being. I used to be very short tempered earlier, but now I remain cool almost all the time, though anger does take over me at rare times but mostly I recognize it and get it under control. There are very rare days when I fall, to being an ignorant human, but then the awareness comes back too soon. All this has been possible, only after I took my inner journey, and Sanatan Dharma played major role in helping me with realization. From being in darkness, I have come into Light. I could go on and on writing, about what Shiva means to me, and the gift that Sanatan Dharma has given me, but I will just say that it has liberated me, as I live fearlessly and in the moment, with the knowing that I am an eternal Being.
As far as Islam is concerned, I am trying to be non judgemental towards it, but since I have known it so closely, and it doing nothing to my personal growth, and only since it brought me misery, it’s hard for me to become neutral towards it. The vice of judgement does take over me sometimes and then, I start to think lowly about the entire religion. I have sincerely tried to read and understand Quran again, just to get over my judgement, but I am just not able to find any sensible verses, which do not reek of fear and hatred towards non believers, and that totally puts me off. I was a non believer, an atheist, and yet God showed His mercy on me and brought me to Light. I didn’t have to be a Muslim to receive God’s love! So why should any non believer ever fear God or Allah? Also there are Islamic practices, which I personally find inhumane and unjust. However, I try to perceive everything from a higher perspective and then make peace with it. This cycle is going on and off, but I hope that it will end soon and I will be at complete peace with it.
Credit: Sofiya Rangwala