In Quest Of Guru - Book Review

  • A honest book review of Mathew’s journey in discovering and learning from his Guru.

When I was asked whether I would be willing to meet a young foreigner who had written about Sanatan Dharma, the first thought that came to my mind was that here was another person who had come to tell Hindus about Hinduism. Those who have read some of my write-ups will know how annoyed I get when I see shared posts on Whats app groups praising folks from abroad reciting extremely powerful Shlokas with mispronunciations, just because they are not born into Hinduism and then claiming that it is the “Beauty of Sanatan Dharma”. 


Nevertheless, I went to meet this person. Mathew Zschoche told me a little bit about how he ventured into discovering the land and “Dharma” with which he felt a deep connect and a few days later he came home with an unopened copy of his book. I accepted and read it with the attitude that I have come to realize that most Hindus have …


Most Hindus believe that to be a Hindu, one must be born into it. As such one can’t convert into Hinduism, and those who convert via Arya Samaj rites or ISKCON, are also looked at with a seemingly unbelievable mixture of suspicion and acceptance. If this is not confusing enough, we have enough Christians and Muslims, born in Bharat itself, who visit our Temples, sing Bhajans, practice classical music, do Pujas in their homes, celebrate Hindu Festivals, all while remaining Christian or Islamic. Even more confusing is that we have a section of Hindus, who, on becoming educated enough as per modern methods, decide that they will be Hindu In Name Only (HINO) and will not follow any rituals, traditions as per Sanatan Dharma. They will not visit Kuldevata Temples but visit only visit Dargahs and Churches because they are a symbol of secularism. 


And then there are those who are Hindus only when there is a need for it, i.e. when they have to fill forms, get reservations for education/jobs/etc., when they are facing difficulties in life or when they reach important milestones in life like marriage or death.


We also have a big chunk of Hindus who take pride in everything that Hinduism has to offer, like its ancient knowledge systems, sculptures, culture, fun festivals, etc. but want a “reform” of the rituals and traditions, because “in today’s world, performing rituals and following traditions is difficult … children don’t want to do it.” Most of the rest are those people who actually are practicing Hindus but among this group too, most of them are reciting the chants by rote without once wanting to learn about their greatness; they also blindly follow rituals without doing them with awareness or a wonder for them. 


Very few Hindus now know about the wealth hidden in our Verses, scriptures, rituals, traditions, life itself.  The moment those who are curious to know more about Sanatan Dharma try to seek it out, they do not know whom to turn to…


This is where the role of a Guru comes to play – wanting to know more, seeking a Guru, recognizing one’s connection with the Guru, being accepted by the Guru – all are processes which take more than one lifetime sometimes. 


“IN QUEST OF GURU” is that book which speaks about the search of Mathew Zschoche’s soul, for a meaning to his very existence and the answers he discovers when he meets Divine Colonel Ashok Kini, whom he finally looks upon as his Guru. The search itself is unique and the manner in which the sequence of events are written make for easy and interesting reading. 


Ananda Mathew (as he is now known) came to Bharat because of his work as a cinematographer, but decided to stay on as a Seeker. The journey and the path taken by him to exorcise his troubled times, his gradual learning about Sanatan Dharma, his simple acceptance of new suggestions by his Guru Divine Colonel Ashok Kini, his changing habits (including food habits) and his chosen path of helping people during Covid, makes one feel that these experiences could have been a part of any regular youngster born in Bharat itself.


What he discovers about Hinduism is something that many city dwellers of Bharat discover only when they “seek” to learn more about Hinduism. And what makes the book more interesting is the simple, non-overbearing way in which his Guru trains him to explore the knowledge behind our Temples, rituals, food habits and more.


Most of our youngsters hardly know about their Kula-Devas or Devis and when the Divine Colonel talks about the peace and power in these Temples, it strikes a chord. Also, the way the conversation between the Guru and the Shishya about multiple physical relationships between a man and a woman, is written, makes one understand why such multiple relationships is not a good idea. Very important for the present generation of youngsters … Similarly, the conversation about opportunities and how to convert them into a gainful experience is explained beautifully.


The book is written by an American, but the language and the matter is very much Bharatiya. Ananda Mathew has indeed connected to Sanatan Dharma in more ways than one and this is what makes his book a very sincere documentation of his journey. It is path which leads to respecting this land and its identity as Sanatan (Eternal) even more.


In searching for his Guru and conversing with Him, Ananda leads the reader to find his/her roots in Sanatan; because that is what every soul is – Sanatan. 


Authors are Mathew Zschoche, Divine Colonel-Ashok Kini Ji. Forewords by Mohanji, Dr. David Frawley and Maj.Gen.Dr. G D Bakshi.


“IN QUEST OF GURU” is published by Motilal Banarasidass. It is available with the Publisher and also on various eportals like Amazon, etc. 


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