Tag Archives: Rishikesh

Post 47. Knocking on Heaven’s Door


Something had changed.  Tony realised the Bible wasn’t just another philosophical book.  It was alive.  It spoke.  He was still confused, but he started praying to Jesus.   From that moment of revelation in the jungle, his 10 years of drug taking stopped instantly; gone in a moment. 

From Rishikesh he travelled to Bombay and booked into the Salvation Army Hostel.  It was there that he met an elderly Canadian man, Arthur Rose.  Tony thought he was either a saint or an angel.   He talked about the resurrection of Jesus Christ. Arthur patiently explained that it wasn’t possible to believe in both resurrection and reincarnation. It had to be one or the other; they were poles apart. By the end of the conversation, Tony knew he had to choose. He chose resurrection. 

Arthur invited Tony to attend an Easter service in a slum area.   While they were sitting on the dusty steps of the Salvation Army hostel, Tony looked at Arthur and said, “I know now that Jesus is the way.  I don’t have to look for any other guru.  I want to follow Him.” 

He had only been to two other church services in New Zealand.  Both were traditional and he had no idea what was going on.  He went to a youth camp when he was much younger but was too stoned to concentrate on anything that was said. 

The room was tiny and packed with slum dwellers.  Tony had his guitar with him and they asked him to sing a song.  He didn’t know any hymns or choruses so he sang the only remotely churchy song he knew; Bob Dylan’s, “Knock, knock, knocking on heaven’s door.” The Marathi speakers didn’t understand a word of it but were happy that a foreigner was singing in their church.

When he got to the verse, “Mama, take these guns off me..” they kept smiling, so he kept going. 

As he read the Easter story, later that day on his bed, tears flowed; he was overwhelmed and moved to tears thinking about how one so perfect could have died for someone so sinful.  He was grateful that Jesus had died in his place.

Post 46. The Bible and a chillum


He didn’t think he would ever see her again but within minutes of that prayer, she popped into his room.  She was concerned for his life.  She handed him a small Gideon’s Bible she had been given. “Here, you need this more than I do.”  He tucked it away in his backpack. 

Tony had been in India and South East Asia for over a year. His goal was to travel from New Zealand to Europe, make lots of money from his drug run and go home.  By the time he reached India, his journey had become a spiritual one. 

Buddhism had already been explored.  He had travelled into Darjeeling to join a monastery, but they wouldn’t have him.  Maybe they could see his hedonism was going to take more than a lifetime of meditation to get over. Or, maybe they knew it wasn’t going to be easy to get him to shave off his waist length hair.  There was no place for him to sleep so he spent the night under the stars.  It was freezing cold and all he had with him was a thin shawl. He left early the next morning, disappointed and disillusioned.

In his desperate state, he left  Delhi and set off for Rishikesh, the home of Guru Maharishi Mahesh Yogi.    It was where the Beatles had gone in search of enlightenment.  

He got a bed in an ashram where he met others who were just like him.  Many were freaked out and paranoid; a Frenchman who had been in India far too long, stripped naked and ran into the forest, never to be seen again.  

It was in the ashram that he learnt the ways of Hinduism.  Because he played the guitar, he was asked to play for the “puja.”  He rang bells and meditated on candles and posters of deities.  One day while meditating on a poster of Shiva, a purple light shone out of the throat of the image. Tony wasn’t on any hallucinogenic at the time, so he knew it was a supernatural thing.  It freaked him out but he was excited that something was going on. 

A Burmese guy who knew Sanskrit and had been a follower of Shiva for many years told him what it was.  The throat was one of the chakras (power points) in Hinduism and literally translated it meant “neelkanth” or “purple throat”.  There was a Shiva temple at a place called “Neelkanth”, a day’s walk into the foothills of the Himalayas. Tony set off for the temple the next day.  He felt it was some kind of divine sign or message. He found a place to sleep and eat then went to the temple to do puja.  All the time he was meditating and ringing the bells, he was hoping that one of the gurus or pundits would help him in his search.  

No-one could explain the meaning of what he had seen.  He was disappointed and left Neelkanth very disillusioned.  He made his way through the foothills on the path back to Rishikesh and stopped to take in the view.  The Ganges River was way below, winding its way across the plains of Uttar Pradesh. 

He lit up his chillum and took out the little New Testament he had been given a few weeks before.  He randomly opened the pages and the first word that his eyes saw was the word “idol.”  

With that one small word, came a small gentle voice.  “I don’t live in images made by the hands of men. I don’t live in wood and stone.  I am the Living God.” Where he had been was a place of wood and stone.  He had been worshipping inanimate objects.   

One word was enough.   In his drugged out state that was all he could concentrate on.  That was all he needed.  Right then, Tony knew his lost, wandering soul had been found.

The God of the heart had found His man.