BENGALURU: Om Swami’s If Truth be Told, A Monk’s Memoir is the story of a young man on a spiritual pursuit and seeker of truth who delves into the divine world with such dedication and devotion that it is unthinkable in today’s confusing times. There have been many men and women in India who have followed such a path but that was all in the good old days.
After imbibing every kind of academic and professional knowledge and achieving material success, this man gives away everything to lead the life of an ascetic. He goes from place to place in search of truth and dreams of seeing the manifestation of the divine after hard penance and deep meditation.
Om Swami’s memoir opens with the description of the crowded ghats of the eternal city of Varanasi as he hopes to find a quiet monastery on the banks of the Ganges where noble sadhus are meditating under the shade of the banyan tree. But alas! It is so different from his own perception. He is driven from ghat to ghat, fleeced by people and phoney sadhus and is completely disappointed by the spirituality of this city which he feels, is just a facade.
However, after much search, he lands up in one decrepit monastery run by one Babaji who accepts him as his disciple and renames him Swami Sarvananda. However, this guru who initiates him into the life of a sanyasi and makes him renounce the transient material world and enter into the life of a renunciant, is also a money grabber and makes full use of the resources of his disciple to further his own cause.
But one thing that Om Swami learns from this bitter experience is that it prepares him for the rigorous life of an ascetic when later, he goes for long meditation in the Himalayas. Despite his deteriorating health and adverse climatic conditions above the height of 9000 feet, he follows the tantric path full of Sadhna and intense meditation to finally achieve the eternal truth and follow his own path.
Apart from this, the author has further given a colorful description of his life as an 18-year-old who heads to Australia to realize his worldly dreams. His struggle for survival in Down Under has been vividly captured. In just two years, this young man starts earning an annual income of $250,000 and turns into a multimillionaire by 26 years. But this young man is restless and this success in professional life does not seem to satisfy him and even during childhood, he was drawn towards spirituality.
Chapter after chapter describes the author’s life before and after his monkhood. When he was just eight, he saw a vision of God in a dream This is an experience that leaves him with a sense of deep joy and peace. So, at the back of his mind, the zeal to meet his maker and see the manifestation of the Divine was always there.
Therefore, at a very young age, he practises astrology, intense meditation and tantra. But deeply disappointed, he moves away to materialistic pursuits to distract himself from the restlessness within. He leads the materialistic life fully. However, one fine day, he decides to move back to India from the US as worldly pleasures can no longer satisfy him and he decides to become a monk.
If Truth Be Told: A Monk’s Memoir is the most interesting book I have read in recent times. In fact, it is an eye opener. It makes one realize how precious life is and how each one of us should find his or her own eternal truth and live life to the fullest.