Posts Tagged ‘india’

Report From Bryce Homes in India

One of the Christian Bryce Home families in India.

LTRP Note: Roger Oakland’s Bryce Homes International program has been going on for several years now. There are Bryce Homes in seven countries now. If you have never looked into this missions program which assists Christian families who are in poverty with spiritual, physical, and educational needs, we hope you will take the time to do so and consider supporting this work. If you are looking for a ministry to give to that has solid integrity and preaches the true Gospel of Jesus Christ, Bryce Homes International is such a ministry. Lighthouse Trails has partnered with Understand the Times Bryce Homes since 2010. To learn more about Bryce Homes, click here,  or to donate, click here.

From Understand the Times

Bryce Homes in India
August 2017

The following is a quarterly report coming from two of our leaders in India that oversee four Bryce Homes in India. These children have been abandoned to the streets and left on their own to survive.  Bryce Homes India provides the support for the children to be taken into the homes of Christian parents. It is the support that we receive from our donors that makes this possible.

Greetings to you in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ. Thank you for your support and prayers for needy children and new parents.  God is working in the hearts of the children and the new parents in the Bryce Home children in Guntur. Last month schools reopened and all children have started to attend school. In the Bryce Homes, the adopted parents are taking care of the children. This is something I never expected from them because it is very difficult to love and care for children as their own. Also, children are having big physical challenges.

We were able to raise some money locally for new books for the children. God has opened the hearts of the people and provided study books and note books for all the children. This is very expensive. Only God did this.

All the children are attending Sunday school every week along with their parents.

Pray for all the kids because of their physical illnesses.  Often, they fall in sick and unstable in health that makes a problem in homes. Pray for the parents. They are the ones who face all the challenges. May God give them the big loving heart. Click here to continue reading.


Roger Oakland has returned safely home from his trip to India. Thank you to all who prayed for him during this time. Below are the links to his daily reports while there, including a report about Bryce Homes in India. If you would like to become a regular supporter of Understand the Times and Bryce Homes International, click here.

Bigstock –  Mumbai, India – February 28, 2016: Unidentified poor people sleep at the street in Mumbai, India

Reporting from Understand The Times, International
Report 1

Report 2

Report 3

Report 4

Report 5

Report 6

Report 7

Report 8

Report 9 Final Report

Bryce Homes India Interview

Letter to the Editor from Man From India: Yoga is a Doctrine of Demons!

Dear Lighthouse Trails:

I am from a Hindu background. The word Yoga has developed from the word Yog. Yog means union. So when you do Yoga, you can expect your spirit to be in union with “divine spirit” completely. According to Bishnu Puran, one of the Hindu scripture yoga is “complete union between spirit of god and man.” So when you do Yoga, you are focusing on uniting with some spirit. We know it is not the Spirit of the Lord God.

Yoga was in practice in ancient Hindu times to connect them with gods to get people closure to Nirvana. Hindus have many ways for salvation and Yoga is one of that. It is a doctrine of demons. Christians cannot take part in it as it tries to connect your spirit with some spirit, and you do not know what that spirit is. In Nepal, if you walk to the Hindu temples, you find “holy people,” and they say they got freedom from all the longing of the world because of Yoga. Yoga helped them to be united with their god, and now they are free. They will show you different postures which will be offered as worship to different gods.

As Christians, according to Colossians 2:8, we should not follow the theories made according to the traditions of this world nor based on any spiritual beings.

B. S. D., Nepal

Related Material:

BOOKLET: A Trip to India—to Learn the Truth About Hinduism and Yoga by Caryl Matrisciana

Learn about “Christian Yoga”: Watch Caryl Productions Yoga Uncoiled


“Churchless” Christianity – The New Way of Doing Missions

herbert-hoefer-book By Roger Oakland

In an article titled “Christ-Followers in India Flourishing Outside the Church,” the following statement is made regarding the research of Herbert Hoefer, author of Churchless Christianity:

In striking research undertaken in the mid-eighties and published in 1991, Herbert E. Hoefer found that the people of Madras City are far closer to historic Christianity than the populace of any cities in the western Christian world could ever claim to be. Yet these are not Christians, but rather Hindus and Muslims. In their midst is a significant number of true believers in Christ who openly confess to faith in fundamental Biblical doctrines, yet remain outside the institutional church.1

The article expands this idea that one does not need to become a Christian or to change his religious practices; he just needs to add Jesus to his spiritual equation:

However, some might argue that this [the “smothering embrace of Hinduism”] is the danger with the ishta devata strategy I am proposing. It will lead not to an indigenous Christianity but to a Christianized Hinduism. Perhaps more accurately we should say a Christ-ized Hinduism. I would suggest that really both are the same, and therefore we should not worry about it. We do not want to change the culture or the religious genius of India. We simply want to bring Christ and His Gospel into the center of it. 2

Herbert Hoefer’s research is quite interesting. His idea that rather than “changing or rejecting” the Hindu and Muslim culture, missionaries should be “Christ-izing” it.3 He says there are thousands of believers in India whom he refers to as “non-baptized believers.” Reasons for the believers not becoming baptized vary, but usually it is because they will suffer financial or social loss and status. Hoefer admits that these non-baptized believers are not Christians, and usually they do not choose to call themselves that. In many of his examples, these non-baptized believers continue practicing their religious rituals so as not to draw suspicion or ridicule from family and friends. Hoefer explains one story:

[There is] a young man of lower caste who earns his livelihood by playing the drum at Hindu festivals and functions. “All this is what I must do,” he said, “but my faith is in Christ. Outside I am a Hindu, but inside I am a Christian.”4

Another family of the Nayar caste consisted of a wife, her husband and one son. Hoefer describes their situation:

[H]er husband and son have been believers in Christ for eight years. They both had studied in Christian schools and learned of Christ. The husband’s father had a vision of Christ, and one brother also is a non-baptised believer. The husband does not join his wife in coming to Church, but he occasionally joins her for the big public meetings. They do not have family devotions, but worship Jesus along with the Hindu gods in their home. Their approach to the Hindu festivals is to carry them out but to think of God, not Jesus specifically.5

I am not here to judge whether these non-baptized believers are truly born again. That is for the Lord to decide. My concern lies with the way missions is changing and how the Gospel is being presented. To say that someone does not have to leave their pagan religion behind, and in fact they don’t have to even stop calling themselves Hindu or Muslim, is not presenting the teachings of the Bible.

And the apostle Paul, who ended up dying for his faith, exhorted believers to be willing to give up all for the sake of having Christ:

I count all things but loss for the excellency of the knowledge of Christ Jesus my Lord: for whom I have suffered the loss of all things, and do count them but dung, that I may win Christ. (Philippians 3:8)

The implications of this new missiology are serious and, what’s more very unbiblical. Mike Oppenheimer of Let Us Reason ministries has done extensive research and analysis on the new missiology. In his article, “A ‘New Evangelism’ for the 21st Century,” Oppenheimer states:

Can a Christian now call himself a Muslim? The word Muslim is made up of two words, Islam and Mu. Muslim does not just mean submission; it means submission to the God Allah; not the Lord Jesus Christ or Yahweh. Can a Muslim be called a Christian and walk with Allah? This seems to make no doctrinal or practical sense, unless they change the names and the meaning. This only brings confusion. Why do this when you can introduce Yahweh as the true God without any baggage and shuffling around in names, nature or descriptions? The answer is that you may not see the same results. This is what this is all about isn’t it, results; pragmatism, the end justifies the means.6

In a book by Oppenheimer and Sandy Simpson titled Idolatry in Their Hearts, they show how widespread this new missiology has become. Listen to some of the comments made by a few new missiology proponents:

New Light embodiment means to be “in connection” and “information” with other faiths…. One can be a faithful disciple of Jesus Christ without denying the flickers of the sacred in followers of Yahweh, or Kali, or Krishna.”7–Leonard Sweet

I happen to know people who are followers of Christ in other religions.8–Rick Warren

I see no contradiction between Buddhism and Christianity…. I intend to become as good a Buddhist as I can.9–Thomas Merton

Allah is not another God … we worship the same God…. The same God! The very same God we worship in Christ is the God the Jews–and the Muslims–worship.10–Peter Kreeft

Oppenheimer and Simpson present page after page of documentation showing this paradigm shift in Christian missions. They ask the question, “Can one be a Hindu or a Muslim and follow Jesus?” They explain why the answer is no:

One cannot be in relationship with Jesus within the confines of a false religion. One must leave his or her religion to follow Jesus, not just add Him on….

This broadens Jesus’ statement of the road being narrow into a wide, all encompassing concept. What is concerning is that these same kinds of statements are also made by those who are New Agers that hold a universal view. Alice Bailey* said, “I would point out that when I use the phrase ‘followers of the Christ’ I refer to all those who love their fellowmen, irrespective of creed or religion.”11

With Rick Warren saying your religion should have no bearing on your spiritual life, Erwin McManus saying he would like to destroy Christianity, and missionary societies telling new converts they can have Jesus without Christianity (or baptism), the results could be devastating and will very likely undo the tireless efforts of many dedicated missionaries around the world. These Bible-believing missionaries have risked their lives and given up comforts and ease to travel around the world sharing the good news that becoming a Christian (having Jesus Christ come into your heart and life) is the way to eternal life. Now, right behind them, come emerging church missionaries who say Christianity is a terrible religion, and Christians are out to lunch–so just become a Christ-follower, and you don’t even have to tell anyone about it. In fact, you can still live like you always have.

To the many who have suffered persecution and martyrdom over the centuries for being Christians and being courageous enough to call themselves that, we now must believe they suffered and died unnecessarily–after all, they did not need to confess Jesus as the only way. And they didn’t need to renounce their pagan religions. We also find that the following words of Jesus do not fit into this emerging church paradigm:

Whosoever therefore shall confess me before men, him will I confess also before my Father which is in heaven. But whosoever shall deny me before men, him will I also deny before my Father which is in heaven. (Matthew 10:32-33)

There is a powerful story in the Book of Acts, in which the apostle Paul had been arrested for preaching the Gospel. He was brought before King Agrippa and given the opportunity to share his testimony of how he became a Christian. He told Agrippa that the Lord had commissioned him to preach the Gospel and:

To open their eyes, and to turn them from darkness to light, and from the power of Satan unto God, that they may receive forgiveness of sins, and inheritance among them which are sanctified by faith that is in me. (Acts 26:18)

Agrippa continued listening and then said to Paul, “Almost thou persuadest me to be a Christian (vs. 28).” Paul answered him:

I would to God, that not only thou, but also all that hear me this day, were both almost, and altogether such as I am, except these bonds. (vs. 29)

If Paul had been following the emerging mentality, he would have told Agrippa, “No need to become a Christian. You can remain just as you are; keep all your rituals and practices, just say you like Jesus.” In actuality, if Paul had been practicing emerging spirituality, he wouldn’t have been arrested in the first place. He would not have stood out, would not have preached boldly and without reservation, and he would not have called himself a Christian, which eventually became a death sentence for Paul and countless others.

This article is also in booklet form: click here.

*Alice Bailey was an occultist who coined the term New Age.


1. H. L. Richard, “Christ-Followers in India Flourishing Outside the Church,” a review of Churchless Christianity by Herbert Hoefer (Mission Frontiers, March/April 1999,
2. Ibid.
3. Herbert Hoefer, Churchless Christianity (Pasadena, CA: William Carey Library, 2001 edition), p. xii.
4. Ibid., p. 17.
5. Ibid., p. 16.
6. Mike Oppenheimer, “A ‘New Evangelism’ for the 21st Century” (Let Us Reason ministries, 2006, 33. htm).
7. Leonard Sweet, Quantum Spirituality, op. cit., p. 130.
8. Rick Warren, “Discussion: Religion and Leadership,” with David Gergen and Rick Warren (Aspen Ideas Festival, The Aspen Institute, July 6, 2005,; for more information: http://www. lighthouse
9. David Steindl-Rast, “Recollection of Thomas Merton’s Last Days in the West” (Monastic Studies, 7:10, 1969).
10. Peter Kreeft, Ecumenical Jihad, op. cit., pp. 30, 160.
11. Sandy Simpson and Mike Oppenheimer, Idolatry in Their Hearts (Pearl City, HI: Apologetics Coordination Team, 2007, 1st Edition), p. 358.

NEW BOOKLET: A Trip to India—to Learn the Truth About Hinduism and Yoga

A Trip to India—to Learn the Truth About Hinduism and Yoga by Caryl Matrisciana is our newest Lighthouse Trails Booklet Tract. The Booklet Tract is 14 pages long and sells for $1.95 for single copies. Quantity discounts are as much as 50% off retail. Our Booklet Tracts are designed to give away to others or for your own personal use.  Below is the content of the booklet. To order copies of A Trip to India—to Learn the Truth About Hinduism and Yoga,  click here. With more and more Christians (women especially) turning to Yoga, this booklet is a vitally important booklet to hand out at churches and Bible studies. Rarely a week passes when Lighthouse Trails does not receive a phone call or an e-mail from someone telling us that his or her church is now doing Yoga.

rp_BKT-INDIA.jpgA Trip to India—to Learn the Truth About Hinduism and Yoga

By Caryl Matrisciana

Thirteen years had passed since my family had left India. Now I found myself on an airplane returning there. I was filled with excitement and nostalgic memories. Would I bump into old friends with whom I had lost contact over the years? Would anything have changed?

I was travelling with a small group of international cult experts. We had received a grant enabling our research group to travel around India, visiting gurus and their ashrams.

Our plane landed in Calcutta, the former capital of the British Indian Empire and the city of my birth—I was breathless with excitement. Yet my enthusiasm was tinged with fear and apprehension: I knew the India I would encounter over the next few weeks would be a very different India from that of my youth.

This time I would experience the hardships of living an ascetic life with gurus and their disciples, a lifestyle as foreign to me as it was to my companions.

We planned to examine various popular-in-the-West gurus. We would interview them as well as their disciples, trying to glean a basic understanding of their teachings, so that we could better educate our various organizations back home.

I anticipated hardships, knowing that many gurus hid themselves in the outbacks of India’s countryside. I knew that the diets and accompanying Hindu religious activities would be arduous and draining. If all this weren’t spiritually exhausting, it would definitely take its toll physically.
Any disappointments I expected certainly didn’t match up to the overwhelming reality, which I soon encountered. Calcutta is named after the frightful Hindu goddess Kali, the female counterpart of the male god Shiva. Both depict death and destruction, and the city clearly reflects this. Kali also has the benign title of Mother of Love. Calcutta, or Kali-ghat, “the steps to Kali,” embodies all the complex contradictions of the Hindu god-goddess makeup. Calcutta is also one of the biggest cities in the world, with a population of nearly thirteen million. Its harbors and industries make it a key center of Eastern commerce.

The first thing to overwhelm me as I stepped into Dum Dum, the bustling Calcutta airport, was the wild confusion resulting from overpopulation. Being in the midst of shoulder-to-shoulder people was a sensation I had almost forgotten after spending years in the West.

I recalled a conversation with an Indian friend who had visited America. He had commented on the emptiness of American streets. “Where are all the people?” he had asked in bewilderment. “I see houses with cars parked outside, open shops, offices, and restaurants . . . but where are all the people?” That question might seem peculiar to those who have not experienced India’s swarming mass of humanity.

My thoughts were soon flooded with other unpleasant recollections. Besides the pushing and shoving, we had to deal with stealing and lying—almost-forgotten aspects of my childhood memories.

Upon swift recall of necessary survival instincts, I made immediate efforts to beat the corruption of “the system.” Unfortunately, I wasn’t fast enough to protect our little group from the first “criminal.”

One of our party was taken in by a fellow claiming to be a porter. Our naïve traveling companion had paid an up-front deposit. Without hesitation, the imposter had proceeded to put our collective baggage onto a trolley. He had then wheeled it off down the road toward points unknown.

Because I was fluent in Hindi, I was assigned the recovery operation. Eventually, I caught up to the thief and ordered him to return our baggage to the airport lobby. He did so, but, of course, we lost the deposit. He stubbornly claimed it had not been paid to him. After this incident, I quickly learned to stay on my toes.

The next minor incident (our last show of naiveté) was a deliberately elongated taxi drive from the airport. Since I vaguely remembered the surroundings enough to put our cab driver back on course, we were spared the expense of being driven around and around the city. But, oh, the streets of Calcutta we drove through. Pitiful shacks made up of sackcloth, rags, and sticks engulfed the sidewalks and spilled onto the streets.

When our cab stopped for a moment at a traffic light, I was able to peek into the dark interiors of some of those “homes.” I was still horrified, after all the years, to see the number of people living inside. Sisters and brothers were curled against each other like young gerbils in a cage. I saw one pathetically skinny child in tattered rags with cow-dung matted in her hair. She was attempting to soothe a wailing toddler. She cuddled and caressed him, with a comforting smile on her sweet, sad face.

How could the Western spiritual seekers I had spoken to in England, Europe, and America overlook so much tragedy? How could they bypass it to focus on the “wisdom and love” of the East? Couldn’t they see that it was the very aloofness and madness of India’s religion, her so-called wisdom and love, that created such obvious agony for the poor and such cruel apathy in the rich?

They had only to look at any of the ever-present beggars. As a member of one of the largest professions there, each beg­gar belongs to a master. He is assigned to a specific territory where he collects money for his owner. In return, he is provided with a cramped space in some hovel for sleeping and an occasional meager meal.

Some of these homeless derelicts are horribly diseased. Others are intentionally mutilated by their masters. Some children are maimed from birth in order to elicit sympathy from prospective donors.

Equally heartbreaking are India’s prostitutes. According to one government-commissioned study, there are three million prostitutes in India, with many of them between the ages of twelve and fifteen.1 Young girls are often recruited by pimps who tour rural villages, making wild financial promises to poverty-stricken parents. Male prostitution in India is on the rise too.

In Mumbai, there is an infamous street where young girls are kept behind iron bars. Cage after cage exposes scantily clad, heavily made-up teenagers. Some are extraordinarily beautiful. Others are barely ten years old. Many have been beaten and tortured into submission.2

How does the higher class Indian deal with all this cultural madness? With sure escape in mind, he does what any Westerner might do when stressed—he goes to the movies!

India has the largest film industry in the world, far surpassing the number of films made in the United States, and there are over 13,000 theaters. Every three months a billion people in India buy tickets to the cinema.3 Even in the poorest regions of the country, people would go short of food rather than give up their night with the movie stars.

In an impoverished, starving country some films cost their producers tens of millions of rupees. The controversial 1981 film, Gandhi, was all the rage in fashionable Indian circles. One-third of the film’s nine million pound (English sterling) budget was paid for by the Indian government.4 Such were India’s political priorities.

Meanwhile, alluring tourist propaganda puts out impressive statistics documenting India’s achievements. But these glowing reports fail to address the nation’s most sobering problems.

India is the seventh largest landmass in the world. Her population of over 1.1 billion makes her the second most inhabited country on earth.5

Yet, in spite of her size, a spectacular array of natural resources, and economic growth due to developing technological industries, India places twelfth among the economies of the world.6 And although India is rising economically, malnutrition, lack of educational opportunity, and overall poverty is still extremely high: nearly half of India’s children are underweight for their age;7 there are seventeen million child laborers in India; less than half of India’s children between the ages of six and fourteen go to school; more than one in three women in India and over sixty percent of the children in India are anemic.8

Ashrams of India
The first ashram our group visited was the Sivananda Ashram in Monghyr. Also known as the Bihar School of Yoga, it was founded in 1964 by Tantric Swami Satyananda Saraswati. When we arrived there, the powers-that-be required that we pay the exorbitant overnight accommodation fees in advance. We consented. We were tired and hungry and didn’t have the energy to complain over the high costs. We had had an exhausting overnight train journey from Calcutta. Jamalpur Junction, the train station nearest the ashram, was located six miles away. To make matters worse, we had arrived in the wee hours of the morning.

The station guard had warned us not to venture out of the station. “You’ll be robbed or murdered!” he had declared. He said that the State of Bihar was one of the most violent in all of India. Our kind friend felt it would be wiser if we stayed on the station platform until dawn. We did so, along with hundreds of other passengers.

Tired, but grateful for the sage advice, we settled down for a long night’s vigil. The gangways were festooned with sleeping bodies and the debris of luggage. The only place we could find to sit in was the filthy, dimly lit station restaurant. This was a far cry from the crisply clean and hygienic eating houses of my childhood I recalled so vividly.

A waiter appeared, wearing the same uniform of three decades past. It looked as though it hadn’t been laundered for almost that long! His faded red turban and cummerbund sadly reflected years of deterioration. It was barely discernible that his gray, permanently stained tunic had once been white. His gloves, once a colonial symbol of cleanliness, were almost too filthy to look at; the frayed seams at his fingertips exposed grease-stained nails.

I looked up into his face. “How many years have you been working for the railroad?” I asked him in Hindi.

“Since I was a child,” he smiled proudly. “Since the time of the British Raj.” His eyes looked back into the past and filled with sorrow at the reminiscence. “Things have changed a lot.” He looked around him, waving his arm slowly as if pointing out something. He glanced at the bedraggled uniform that he still wore with an element of pride, and shrugged. “Things have changed,” he repeated. Then he sighed and smiled in weary resignation, “What would you like to order, Mehemsahib?” His tiny, blunt pencil was poised above a pad that had been written on over and over again.

As dawn brightened the skyline, we collected our small bundles of luggage and hailed a rickshaw-puller. He took us a mile or so short of the Sivananda community. We walked the rest of the way.

The accommodations at the ashram were sparse; the spiritual tasks were arduous. All the disciples were Westerners who had to work hard for their keep. They did the most menial chores—cleaning lavatories, peeling vegetables, sweeping floors. All the jobs that my family’s untouchable servants had done in my youth were done by the residents there. Any Indians present were presumably the guru’s aides. They held “higher” responsibilities. The Westerners regarded their work as religious service. This fell under the category of Karma Yoga, the Yoga of “selfless labor” performed for the sake of “spiritual evolution.”

I slept in a large dormitory with about ten other girls. We were awakened at 4:00 a.m. each morning; some of the disciples gathered in meditation classes, while others involved themselves in private practice. On our first morning, the girl in the rope bed next to me woke me up. Her quiet alarm clock had sounded, making her sit bolt-upright. She then pulled her blanket over her head. She was getting herself poised in a lotus position, ready for her own brand of Yoga.

The girl sat still for quite some time, long enough for me to get comfortable and doze off to sleep again. Then she started an uncanny humming, low and monotonous. She hardly seemed to breathe in at all. She just kept blowing out one long, scary tone. It sent goose bumps up and down me. At last I could stand it no longer. I got up and watched the morning activities in the rest of the ashram.

There were those who practiced neti, the cleansing of the nose with warm salted water. The small container used could hold up to two cups of water and had a long spout. It looked rather like a strange teapot. The spout was shoved up the nostril. (It looked most uncomfortable to me.) The devotee breathed in and out, sneezing, choking, coughing.

Neti is said to cleanse the membranes inside the nose and to stimulate and strengthen the surrounding area, which includes the eyebrow center. To Hindus this is an important contact point for the anja chakra—the third eye.

Physical perversions are aspects of Kriya Yoga—the type Gandhi practiced. Perhaps it was part of the madness that had led him to administer enemas to his favorite female devotees. His weird sexual quirks had had him sleeping with nude teenage girls in an attempt to confirm his celibacy. And his extraordinary perspectives on fitness caused him to prescribe cow-dung pills for health!9

Gandhi had been a guru with his own ashram long before he became a political figure. Like a score of other god-men, he had believed that Kriya Yoga balances the psychic energies and awakens the chakras.

A young Australian girl sat next to a neti disciple as I spoke with him. Later that night she paid me an unexpected visit. Perched on a log with my rationed half-bucket of water, I was contemplating how to wash my face, teeth, hair, and underwear. Can I accomplish such a feat? I was wondering when I heard the cracking of a twig nearby. In a few seconds, I saw someone hesitantly come out of the shadows.

I recognized the girl and warmly asked her to join me. She did. There was probably about a minute of silence. Then she gathered up enough courage to say shyly, “You seem as though you have come from another planet. You’ve got such a warm and friendly glow of color all around you.”

I had learned not to laugh at such statements. I dipped my washcloth into the bucket and started wiping my face.

“You’ve got a different kind of life in you. Where are you from?” she questioned. We ended up talking for a couple of hours, until regulations caused the ashram to fall silent at 9:00 p.m.

I learned that Premananda was only twenty-one. She had been a disciple of Satyananda for five years, recruited while still at school. There are numerous branches of this guru’s ashram in many different countries. How quickly the different schools of Yoga are growing all over the world, I thought. That very morning I had read a large sign there at the ashram that said: “Yoga will emerge as a mighty world power and will change the course of world events.”10

“Do you practice all the methods of Kriya Yoga, such as Amoroli?” I asked the young girl. By that time, she trusted me.

“Well, I’m meant to do it,” she said apologetically. “But it tastes so terrible that it makes me feel sick.”

Poor girl, I thought. What a ghastly spiritual duty. Those poor devotees had to drink urine as part of their Yogic discipline. They had been taught that it contained redemptive qualities.

“Do you know what urine really is?” She shook her head. “Well,” I tried to explain, “it’s the body’s waste product. There’s nothing in it that the body needs anymore. So of course it makes you feel sick. And how can it possibly save you?”

Premananda went on to confide that one of her friends had been told to drink her guru’s urine. “I wouldn’t know what to do if that were to happen to me!” Her eyes grew wide at the prospect.

My research had shown that it was believed anything that touched the body of a guru was holy, from the dust of his feet to his dirty dishes. Drinking a guru’s bathwater is said to be enlightening. Should the guru desire sex, the disciple (whether male or female) is to look upon the act as a step up his spiritual ladder. So I knew that drinking the guru’s urine was a devotional duty of great significance.
All these specifics are spelled out in the Guru-gita, a Hindu scripture. “Meditate ceaselessly on the form of the Guru,” this ancient document commands. It also states:

[A]lways repeat his name, carry out his orders, think not of anything except the Guru. . . . Through service at the feet of the Guru the embodied soul becomes purified and all its sins are washed away.11

After a few days, we moved on to the next ashram, leaving behind many spiritual prisoners. I couldn’t help but pray for those poor victims. I also thanked God for the opportunity to speak to a handful of them. Some of the followers were closed, like the neti disciple. Others were open, like Premananda. Her guru, Satyananda, had demanded that his devotees cut themselves off from the outside world, but I had been able to encourage her to get in touch with her parents. I was able to activate her conscience regarding the rights and wrongs of some of her practices. Perhaps it would help her reconsider her commitment to a god of India.

Orthodox Hinduism teaches four stages of life: the learning stage of childhood, the stage of marital responsibilities, the stage of career obligations, and the stage of spiritual preparation for death. The Yoga disciplines teach how to cease the body’s functions, in preparation for death, or as Hindus believe, to enter into reincarnation. The traditional purpose of the Indian ashram had always been to teach people how to die through Yoga meditation.

West Goes East
It was only after the 1960s that young Westerners, inspired by the Beatles, began to flood India’s ashrams to sit spellbound at the feet of gurus. Initially, they used India’s spiritual communities as hostels. They provided cheap accommodations for the young seekers while they explored their mystical whims.

By the 1980s, their presence had changed the traditional atmosphere at many ashrams. Along with the youthful Westerners came children and a more family-oriented environment. The influx of Westerners also altered the ashrams’ structure: new requirements for ashram life and the practice of Yoga bypassed the ancient Brahmin qualifications; regardless of sex, nationality, caste, or creed, everyone was accepted. And what was once only available to elderly Hindus became available to all.

Although ashrams have been made available to outsiders, the message of the gurus and the purpose of Yoga remain unchanged. People in the West have been deceived into thinking it is the art of living; but to people in the East, it is the art of dying.

Many of the Western converts to Yoga have helped spread it in the West. One Westerner who spent time in a Hindu ashram and has had significant influence upon the Western world is Michael Ray, a Stanford University professor. Ray created the “Creativity in Business” course, which takes “much of its inspiration from Eastern philosophies, mysticism, and meditation techniques.”12 Ray describes his ashram experience:

I attended a meditation-intensive day at an ashram to support a friend. As I sat in meditation in what was for me an unfamiliar environment, I suddenly felt and saw a bolt of lightning shoot up from the base of my spine out the top of my head. It forced me to recognize something great within me . . . this awareness of my own divinity.13

Ray now tells his students they can get in touch with their “inner person” or “spirit-guide,” who will guide them through life.14 Since his visit to an ashram, Ray has passed on his Eastern wisdom to thousands through books and seminars.

Even Christianity has been indirectly affected by Ray. In 1982, Jim Collins, a speaker at Christian conferences, took Ray’s course, “Creativity in Business.” He was so inspired by the course that he wrote the foreword for Ray’s 2004 book The Highest Goal. Collins says he discovered “the path to my highest goal” by reading the book. What is this highest goal that Michael Ray speaks of? His “own divinity.” In The Highest Goal, Ray speaks openly about Eastern meditation techniques and quotes Hindu gurus such as Ram Dass, Jiddu Krishnamurti, and Swami Shantananda.

Silence: The Only True Religion?
The influence of Eastern thinking and Yoga upon the West continues in many forms. In October 2007, television talk-show host Oprah Winfrey introduced fifty million viewers to a book titled, Eat, Pray, Love. The book, written by Elizabeth Gilbert, recounts how she left her husband and former way of life and found what she came to call the only true religion: the silence. Her journey took her around the world, and finally to India where she learned to meditate in an ashram.

Gilbert explained that the first step in her journey was to go on an eating binge in Italy:

I would not have been able to physically do the Yoga, the meditation, the hard rigor of spiritual work. So I went to Italy first and I ate my guts out for four months.15

From Italy, Gilbert traveled to India where she learned to meditate:

There was something about that Yoga path that really appealed to me—and you do that through silence and the discipline of meditation—and I really wanted to go pursue that full out.

None of this works without stillness . . . One of the great teachings that I learned in India is that silence is the only true religion.16

During her time at the ashram, Gilbert had a meditative experience in which she says, “the scales fell from my eyes and the openings of the universe were shown to me.”17

Interestingly, Gilbert related a story of how a newfound meditating friend experienced “colors,” “sounds,” “whirling,” and “twirling” during his meditation times.18 This is a description of the kundalini (meaning serpent power in Hinduism) effect experienced by Yoga practitioners. Kundalini is said to be lying dormant, coiled at the base of the spine. When it is awakened and encouraged up the spinal passage it ultimately achieves cosmic union with the third eye. The serpent’s journey passes through ‘chakras’ or psychic centers. And mystical powers are aroused as it progresses. A similar experience led to mystic and Catholic priest Philip St. Romain hearing the voices of other beings, which he called his “inner adviser[s].”19

Eat, Pray, Love was on the New York Times Best Sellers List for over 200 weeks and has sold over ten million copies thus far. Sadly, a popular Christian writer and speaker, Anne Lamott, wrote an endorsement for the book, which sits on the back cover. Lamott is best known for her own book, Traveling Mercies. Of Eat, Pray, Love she says: “This is a wonderful book, brilliant and personal, rich in spiritual insight.”20 But the “spiritual insight” from Gilbert’s book is the same “insight” the Hindu gurus teaching Yoga in India have been passing along to the masses for centuries.

The aim of all Hinduism is to escape the hopeless cycle of reincarnation, wherein the soul passes on from body to soul, to body to soul, over and over again. The purpose of Yoga is to prepare a person to cut off the relationship between himself and the physical world, in preparation for death. He is trained to stop his life processes, to stop thinking, to stop the senses, to stop breathing. Hindus believe the escape from all this living and dying is through Yoga.

Returning to India after thirteen years as a Christian on a research team, I was able to recognize how complicated and contradictory the philosophy of Hinduism really is. Through Yoga, the practitioner trains himself to slow down and eventually stop his life processes. Even the breathing exercises taught in Yoga are not intended to be a health benefit. They are not designed to enable one to breathe more efficiently, but to control one’s breathing. The purpose is to enable one to slow the breathing down to a minimum in order to stop it one day altogether. Yoga’s gift is merely a form of suicide.

In contrast, Jesus said He came to give those who follow Him life. He is the antithesis of death—His resurrection is a powerful illustration of this:

I am the resurrection, and the life: he that believeth in me, though he were dead, yet shall he live: And whosoever liveth and believeth in me shall never die. (John 11: 25, 26)

To order copies of A Trip to India—to Learn the Truth About Hinduism and Yoga,  click here.

1. Upasana Bhat, “Prostitution ‘increases’ in India” (BBC News, Delhi, July 3, 2006,
2. Robert I. Friedman, “India’s Shame: Sexual Slavery and Political Corruption Are Leading to An AIDS Catastrophe” (The Nation, Vol. 262, No. 14, New York, April 8, 1996).
3. Central Board of Film Certification (Government of India,
4. G.B. Singh, Gandhi: Behind the Mask of Divinity (Prometheus Books, 2004), p. 76.
5. “Population of India,” from
6. List of countries by GDP (nominal): taken from, the CIA’s World Factbook for 2007.
7. “Work Among Children” (South Asian Council for Community and Children in Crisis,
8. Ibid.
9. Richard Grenier, “The Gandhi Nobody Knows” (“Commentary,” March 1983, published monthly by the American Jewish Committee, New York, NY,
10. Quote by Satyananda Saraswati, accessed at
11. The Gura Gita passages, accessed at:
12. Michael Ray, Creativity in Business (Garden City, NY: Doubleday & Co., Inc, 1986, 1st Edition), back flap.
13. Michael Ray, The Highest Goal (San Francisco, CA: Berrett-Koehler Publishers, Inc., 2004), p. 28.
14. Michael Ray, Creativity in Business, op. cit., p. 37.
15. Elizabeth Gilbert, quotes from Oprah Winfrey’s website:
16. Ibid.
17. Ibid.
18. Ibid.
19. Philip St. Romain, Kundalini Energy and Christian Spirituality (Crossroad Pub. Co., 1995), p. 39.
20. Anne Lamott, on the back cover of Eat, Pray, Love by Elizabeth Gilbert.

To order copies of A Trip to India—to Learn the Truth About Hinduism and Yoga,  click here.

Yoga Is Official! United Nations Adopts International Yoga Day—177 Nations Adopt Resolution (Including USA)

LTRP Note: The following news story is posted for informational and research purposes only and not as an endorsement. Also see our links below for Lighthouse Trails coverage on Yoga and “Christian” Yoga.

By the Huffington Post

The United Nations declared June 21st as International Yoga Day, just three months after India’s newly-elected Prime Minister Narendra Modi used some of his valuable minutes during his address to the U.N. General Assembly to introduce it. With an unprecedented 177 countries signed on, including the United States, China, France, the United Kingdom and Russia, it might be an indication that the winds are changing. The resolution adopted by the General Assembly garnered a record number of co-sponsors.

In my recent meeting with Minister Sripad Naik of the Ministry of AYUSH (Ayurveda, Yoga & Naturopathy, Unani, Siddha and Homoeopathy), I saw for myself how incredibly optimistic he and his team are about their work and the role of AYUSH for a wider community. I left our meeting so encouraged to know that India is leading the way and remaining courageous to bring forth, perhaps the most missed agenda item in world policies, that of spirituality. Click here to continue reading.

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Letter to the Editor: Liberty University Offering Yoga Classes . . . AGAIN!

Rick Warren’s Daniel Plan Accelerates – Tells Followers to Practice 4-7-8 Hinduistic Meditation

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