Pandita Ramabai: Conversion from Christianity to Christ


Pandita

And there was not a particle of doubt left as to whether this salvation was a present one or not. I had not to wait till after undergoing births and deaths for countless millions of times, when I should become a Brahman man, in order to get to know the Brahma. And then, was there any joy and happiness to be hoped for? No, there is nothing but to be amalgamated into Nothingness-Shunya, Brahma, writes Pandita Ramabai.



It was nobody's fault that I had not found Christ. He must have been preached to me from the beginning. My mind at that time had been too dull to grasp the teaching of the Holy Scriptures. The open Bible had been before me, but I had given much of my time to the study of other books about the Bible and had not studied the Bible itself as I should have done: hence my ignorance of many important doctrines taught in it. I gave up the study of other books about the Bible after my return home from America and took to reading the Bible regularly. 

Following this course for about two years, I became very unhappy in my mind. I was dissatisfied with my spiritual condition. One day I went to the Bombay Guardian Mission Press on some business. There I picked up a book called "From Death unto life," written by Mr. Haslam, the Evangelist. I read his experiences in this book with great interest. He, being a clergyman of the Church of England, had charge of a good parish and was interested in all Christian activities connected with the Church. While he was holding conversation with a lady, a member of his Church, she told him that he was trying to build from the top. The lady meant to say he was not converted and had not experienced regeneration and salvation in Christ. 

I read his account of his conversion and work for Christ. Then I began to consider where I stood, and what my actual need was. I took the Bible and read portions of it, meditating on the messages which God gave me. There were so many things I did not understand intellectually. One thing I knew by this time: I needed Christ and not merely His religion. There were some of the old ideas stamped on my brain; for instance, I thought that repentance of sin and the determination to give it up was what was necessary for forgiveness of sin: that the rite of baptism was the means of regeneration; that my sins were truly washed away, when I was baptized in the name of Christ. These and such other ideas, which are akin to Hindu mode of religious thought, stuck to me.

For some years after my baptism, I was comparatively happy to think that I had found a religion which gave its privileges equally to men and women; there was no distinction of caste, colour, or sex made in it. All this was very beautiful, no doubt. But I had failed to understand that we are of "God in Christ Jesus, who of God is made unto us wisdom, and righteousness, and sanctification and redemption." I Cor. 1:30. I had failed to see the need of placing my implicit faith in Christ and His atonement in order to become a child of God by being born again of the Holy Spirit and justified by faith in the Son of God. My thoughts were not very dear on this and other points.

I was desperate. I realized that I was not prepared to meet God, that sin had dominion over me, and I was not altogether led by the Spirit of God and had not therefore received the Spirit of adoption and had no witness of the Spirit that I was a child of God. "For as many as are led by the Spirit of God, they are the sons of God. For ye have not received the spirit of bondage, again to fear; but ye have received the Spirit of adoption whereby we cry, 'Abba, Father.' The Spirit itself beareth witness with our spirit, that we are the children of God." 

Romans 8:14-16 What was to be done? My thoughts could not, and did not help me. I had at last come to an end of myself and unconditionally surrendered myself to the Saviour; and asked Him to be merciful to me, and to become my Righteousness and Redemption, and to take away all my sin Only those, who have been convicted of sin and have seen themselves as God sees them under similar circumstances, can understand what one feels when a great and unbearable burden is rolled away from one's heart. I shall not attempt to describe how and what I felt at the time when I made an unconditional surrender and knew I was accepted to be a branch of the True Vine, a child of God by adoption in Christ Jesus my Saviour. Although it is impossible for me to tell all that God has done for me, I must yet praise Him and thank Him for His loving-kindness to me, the greatest of sinners.

The Lord, first of all, showed me the sinfulness of sin and the awful danger I was in, of everlasting hellfire and the great love of God with which He "So loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son." And He gave this Son to be the propitiation for my sin: for does not the inspired Apostle say, "We have an Advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the Righteous: and He is the Propitiation for our sins: and not for ours only but also for the sins of the whole world." I John 2:1.2. The Bible says that God does not wait for me to merit His love but heaps it upon me without my deserving it. It says also that there is neither male nor female in Christ. "The righteousness of God which is by faith of Jesus Christ, unto all and upon all them that believe: for there is no difference: for all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God; being justified freely by His grace through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus: Whom God hath set forth to be a propitiation through faith in His blood to declare His righteous­ness for the remission of sins that are past, through the forbearance of God; to declare I say at this time His righteousness: d1at He might be just, and the justifier of him which believeth in Jesus." 

Romans 3:22-26. I do not know if

anyone of my readers has ever had the experience of being shut up in a room where there was nothing but thick darkness and then groping in it to find something of which he or she was in dire need. I can think of no one but the blind man, whose story is given in St. John chapter nine. He was born blind and remained so for forty years of his life; and then suddenly he found the Mighty One, Who could give him eyesight. Who could have described his joy at seeing the daylight, when there had not been a particle of hope of his ever seeing it?

Even the inspired evangelist has not attempted to do it. I can give only a faint idea of what I felt when my mental eyes were opened, and when I, who was" sitting in darkness saw Great Light," and when I felt sure that to me, who but a few moments ago" sat in the region and shadow of death, Light had sprung up." I was very like the man who was told, "In the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth rise up and walk… And he leaping up stood, and walked, and entered with them into the temple, walking and leaping and praising God." I looked to the blessed Son of God who was lifted up on the cross and there suffered death, even the death of the cross, in my stead, that I might be made free from the bondage of sin, and from the fear of death, and I received life. 0 the love, the unspeakable love of the Father for me, a lost sinner, which gave His only Son to die for me! I had not merited this love but that was the very reason why He showed it to me. How very different the truth of God was from the false idea that I had entertained from my earliest childhood.

That was that I must have merit to earn present or future happiness, the pleasure of Svarga, or face the utterly inconceivable loss of Moksha or liberation. This I could never hope for, since a woman, as a woman, has no hope of Moksha according to Hindu religion. The Brahman priests have tried to deceive the women and the Shudras and other low-caste people into the belief that they have some hope. But when we study for ourselves the books of the religious law and enquire from the higher authorities we find that there is nothing, no nothing whatever for us.  They say that women and Shudras and other low-caste people can gain Svarga by serving the husband and the Brahman. But the happiness of Svarga does not last long. The final blessed state to which the Brahman is entitled is not for women and low-caste people.

But here this blessed Book, the Christians' Bible says: "When we were yet without strength, in due time Christ died for the ungodly. For scarcely for a righteous man will one die: yet peradventure for a good man some would even dare to die. But God commendeth His love toward us, in that, while we were yet sinners Christ died for us For when we were enemies, we were reconciled to God by the death of His Son." Romans 5:6-10   "In this was manifested the love of God toward us, because that God sent His only begotten Son into the world, that we might live through Him. Herein is love, not that We loved God, but that He loved us, and sent His Son to be the propitiation for our sins." I John 4:9, 10. 

How good, how indescribably good! What good news for me a woman, a woman born in India, among Brahmans who hold out no hope for me and the like of me! The Bible declares that Christ did not reserve this great salvation for a particular caste or sex.  

"But as many as received Him, to them gave He power to become the sons of God, even to them that believe on His name: which were born, not of blood, nor of the will of the flesh, nor of the will of man, but of God. "  John 1:12,13. "For the grace of God that bringeth salvation hath appeared to all men."

Titus 2:11 "The kindness and love of God our Saviour toward man appeared, not by works of rightousness which we have done, but according to His mercy He saved us.”

Titus 3:4. No caste, no sex, no work, and no man was to be depended upon to get salvation, this everlasting life, but God gave it freely to anyone and every one who believed on His Son Whom He sent to be the "propitiation for our sins."

And there was not a particle of doubt left as to whether this salvation was a present one or not. I had not to wait till after undergoing births and deaths for countless millions of times, when I should become a Brahman man, in order to get to know the Brahma. And then, was there any joy and happiness to be hoped for? No, there is nothing but to be amalgamated into Nothingness-Shunya, Brahma. 

The Son of God says,  "Verily, verily, I say unto you He that heareth my word, and believeth on Him that sent me hath everlasting life, and shall not come into condemna­tion but is passed from death to life.”` 

John 5:24 “If we receive the witness of men, the witness of God is greater; for this is the witness of God which He hath testified of His Son. He that believeth on the Son of God hath the witness in himself: he that believeth not God, hath made Him a liar: because he believeth not the record that God gave of H

is Son. And this is the record, that GOD HATH GIVEN TO US ETERNAL LIFE, AND THIS LIFE IS IN HIS SON. He that hath the Son hath life; and he that hath not tile Son of God hath not life. These things have I written unto you that believe on the name of the Son of God; that ye may know that ye have eternal life and that ye may believe on the name of the Son of God."

1 John 5:9-13 The Holy Spirit made it clear to me from the Word of God, that the salvation which God gives through Christ is present, and not something future. I believed it; I received it; and I was filled with joy. Sixteen years ago, a new leaf was turned in my life. Since then I have come to know the Lord Jesus Christ as my personal Saviour and have the joy of sweet communion with Him. My life is full of joy, "For the Lord JEHOVAH is my strength and my song; He also is become my salvation." Now I know what the Prophet means by saying, "Therefore with joy shall ye draw water out of the wells of salvation."

I can scarcely contain the joy and keep it to myself. I feel like the Samaritan woman who "left her water pot, and went her way into the city, and saith to the men, Come, see a man, which told me all things that ever I did: is not this the Christ!" I feel I must tell my fellow-creatures what great things the Lord Jesus has done for me, and I feel sure, as it was possible for Him to save such a great sinner as I am, He is quite able to save others. The only thing that must be done by me is to tell people of Him and of His love for sinners and His great power to save them. 

My readers will not therefore find fault with me for making this subject so very personal. The heart-experiences of an individual are too sacred to be exposed to the public gaze. Why then should I give them to the public in this way? Because a "necessity is laid upon me; yea, woe is unto me, if I preach not the gospel!" I Corinthians 9: 16.

I am bound to tell as many men and women as possible, that Christ Jesus came to save sinners like me. He has saved me, praise the Lord! I know "He is able also to save them to the uttermost that come unto God by Him, seeing He ever liveth to make intercession for them."

Hebrews 7:25. God has given me a practical turn of mind. I wanted to find out the truth about everything including religion by experiment. I experimented on the religion in which I was born. I did not leave a stone unturned, as it were, as far as I knew; not only in the way of studying books, but of doing myself what the books prescribed. I have seen many others also doing the same thing. I saw them doing everything that was commanded them. The sad end was that I found that they were not saved by it, nor was I.

It was a dire spiritual necessity that drove me to seek help from other sources. I had to give up all pride of our ancestral religion being old and superior, which is preventing many of my country-people from finding Christ although they know well that they have not got the joy of salvation. They can never have it except in Christ. There are I know many hungry souls, and may be, some of them might be helped by reading this account.

I would urge Upon such brothers and sisters to make haste and come forward and accept the great love of God expressed in Christ Jesus and not to neglect" so great salvation," which God gives freely. Hebrews 2:1-3. "Neither is there salvation in any other: for there is none other name under heaven given among men, whereby we must be saved." Acts 4:12 Do not therefore lose time through pride or because of any other difficulty. The caste may put you out; your near and dear ones will perhaps reject you and persecute you. You may very likely lose your temporal greatness, and riches; but never mind, the great salvation which you will get in Christ by believing on Him, and confessing Him before men, is worth all the great sacrifices you can possibly make. Yes, and more than that, for all the riches and all the gain, and all the joys of the world, do not begin to compare with the joy OF SALVATION. 

On the other hand, of what Use are all the riches and greatness of the world, if you are condemned to the second death and are to live in the lake of fire forever and ever suffering indescribable agonies from which there is no relief? "For what shall it profit a man, if he shall gain the whole world and lose his own soul? Or what shall a man give in exchange for his soul?"  Mark 8:36-37. I would urge on you, dear brother and sister, to make haste and get reconciled with God through Christ. For the great day of judgment is fast coming on us, so make haste and flee from the wrath of God, which you and I have justly merited. God is Love, and He is waiting patiently for you to accept His great salvation, so despise not "the riches of His goodness and forbearance and longsuffering," and know "that the goodness of God leadeth thee to repentance."

Romans 2:4. I found it a great blessing to realize the personal presence of the Holy Spirit in me and to be guided and taught by Him. I have experienced the Sweet pleasure promised by the Lord in Psalm 32:8,  "I will instruct thee and teach thee in the way which thou shalt go: I will guide thee with mine eye." The Holy Spirit taught me how to appropriate every promise of God in the right way and obey His voice.

I am sorry to say that I have failed to obey Him m

any a time, but He tet)derly rebukes and shows me my faults. Many a time He finds it most necessary to punish me in various ways, His promise is:  "I will correct thee in measure, and will not leave thee altogether unpunished."  Jeremiah 30:11 I have many failures and am corrected as the lord sees fit. It is always helpful to be shown that His hand is in everything that happens. Then no room is left for murmuring. Whenever I heed and obey the lord's voice with all my heart I am very happy and everything goes right. Even the tests of faith, and difficulties, and afflictions become great blessings. Since the year 1891 1 have tried to witness for Christ in my weakness, and I have always found that it is the greatest joy of the Christian life to tell people of Christ and of His great love for sinners.

 About twelve years ago, I read the inspiring books, "The Story of the China Inland Mission," "The lord's Dealings with George Muller," and the "life of John G. Paton," founder of the New Hebrides Mission. I was greatly impressed with the experiences of these three great men, Mr. Hudson Taylor, Mr. Muller and Mr. Paton, all of whom have gone to be with the lord within a few years of each other. I wondered after reading their lives, if it were not possible to trust the Lord in India as in other countries.

I wished very much that there were some missions founded in this country, which would be a testimony to the Lord's faithfulness to His people, and the truthfulness of what the Bible says, in a practical way. I questioned in my mind over and over again, why some missionaries did not come forward to found faith-missions in India. Then the Lord said to me, "Why don't you begin to do this yourself, instead of wishing for others to do it? How easy it is for anyone to wish that some one else would do a difficult thing, instead of doing it himself." I was greatly rebuked by the "Still Small Voice" which spoke to me. I did not know then that there were some faith-missions in India. Since then I have come to know that there are a few faith-missions working in this country, and I thank God for setting them up here life, for bodily health, for advice, for food, water, clothing, and all other necessities of life, in short, to realize by experiment, that the promises of God in Philippians 4:6, 19, and in other parts of the Holy Scriptures are true, is most blessed. "Be careful for nothing; but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known unto God."

Philippians 4:6 "And my God will supply every need of yours according to his riches in glory in Christ Jesus" Philippians 4.19 "I am the Lord thy God, which brought thee out of the land of Egypt: open thy mouth wide, and I will fill it."  Psalm 81: 10 "It is better to trust in the Lord, than to put confidence in man. It is better to trust in the Lord, than to put confidence in princes."  Psalm 118:8-9. I am spared all trouble and care, casting my burden upon the Lord. There are over 1500 people living here. We are not rich, nor great, but we are happy, getting our daily bread directly from the loving hands of our Heavenly Father, having not a pice over and above our daily necessities, having no banking account anywhere, no endowment or income from any earthly source, but depending altogether on our Father God; we have nothing to fear from anybody, nothing to lose, and nothing to regret.

The Lord is our Inexhaustible Treasure. "The Eternal God is thy refuge, and underneath are the everlasting arms."  Deuteronomy 33:27 We are confidently resting in His arms, and He is loving and faithful in all His dealings with us. How can I express in words the gratitude I feel toward such a Father, and the joy that fills my heart because of His goodness? "Bless the Lord, 0 my soul, and all that is within me bless His holy name. Bless the Lord, 0 my soul, and forget not all His benefits: Who forgiveth all thine iniquities; Who healeth all thy diseases; Who redeemeth thy life from destruction; Who crowneth thee with loving-kindness and tender mercies; Who satisfieth thy mouth with good things; so that thy youth is renewed like the eagle's." 

Psalm. 103:1-5. Bombay Founding of Mukti Mission Harne of Salwtion  Nineteen years ago in this month of July, I started from the city of Philadelphia and went to San Francisco, in response to the kind invitation sent by some good mends, who took a deep interest in the well-being of the women of India. I lived in the latter city for more than four months; and sailed from the Golden Gate for Bombay, via Japan and China. God in His great goodness gave me faithful and true mends in America, who promised to help me in my work. My work, in the beginning, was a purely educational one, and religious liberty was to be given to the inmates of my school, and all plans were made to start the Home for Widows as soon as I should land in Bombay. 

The day for sailing from San Francisco arrived. I felt as if I were going to a strange country and to a strange people. Everything seemed quite dark before me. I fell on my knees, committed myself to the care of our loving Heavenly Father, and sailed. My religious belief was so vague at the time that I was not certain whether I would go to heaven or hell after my death. I was not prepared to meet my God then. How can I describe my feelings when I heard of the disaster at San Francisco by the terrible earthquake, and of the great destruction of human life in the harbour of Hong Kong not long ago. How I thanked God for letting me live all these years, and not sending the terrible earthquake and the dreadful storms, when I was not prepared to meet Him. I deeply sympathize with the people living in both of these places in their afflictions and pray to God that He may save each and all of the surviving inhabitants of San Francisco and Hong Kong. When starting from San Francisco, and on landing in Bombay, 1 had resolved in my mind, that although no direct religious instruction was to be given to the inmates of my home, yet 1 would daily read the Bible aloud and pray to the only True God in the name of Christ; that my country women, seeing and hearing what was going on, might be led to enquire about the true religion, and the way of salvation. 

There were only two day-pupils in my school, when it was started a little more than eighteen years ago. No one was urged to become a Christian, nor was anyone compelled to study the Bible. But the Book was placed in the library along with other religious books. The daily testimony to the goodness of the True God awakened new thoughts in many a heart. After the first ten years of our existence as a school, our constitution was changed slightly. Since then, every pupil admitted in the school has been receiving religious instruction, retaining perfect liberty of conscience. 

Many hundreds of the girls and young women who have come to my Home ever since its doors were opened for them have found Christ as 1 have. They are capable of thinking for themselves. They have had their eyes opened by reading the Word of God, and many of them have been truly converted and saved to the praise and glory of God. 1 thank God for letting me see several hundred of my sisters, the children of my love and prayer, gloriously saved. All this was done by God in answer to the prayers of faith of thousands of His faithful servants in all lands, who are constantly praying for us all. I was led by the Lord to start a special prayer-circle at the beginning of 1905. There were about 70 of us who met together each morning, and prayed for the true conversion of all the Indian Christians including ourselves, and for a special outpouring of the Holy Spirit on all Christians of every land. In six months from the time we began to pray in this manner the Lord graciously sent a glorious Holy Ghost revival among us, and also in many schools and Churches in this country.

The results of this have been most satisfactory. Many hundreds of our girls and some of our boys have been gloriously saved, and many of them are serving God, and witnessing for Christ at home, and in other places. I have responded to the Lord's challenge, "Prove Me now," Malachi 3:10, and have found Him faithful and true. I know He is a prayer-hearing and prayer-answering God. His promise, "My people shall never be ashamed," Joel 2:16, and all the thousands of His promises are true. I entreat you, my readers, to prove the Lord as I have proved Him. "0 taste and see that the Lord is good; blessed is the man that trusteth in Him. 0 fear the Lord, ye His saints; for there is no want to them that fear Him. The young lions do lack, and suffer hunger: but they that seek the Lord shall not want any good thing." 

Psalm 34:8-10 "0 give thanks unto the Lord for He is good: for His mercy endureth for ever. Let the redeemed of the Lord say so, whom

He hath redeemed from the hand of the enemy: And gathered them out of the lands, from the east and from the west, from the north, and from the south. They wandered in the wilderness in a solitary way they found no city to dwell in. Hungry and thirsty, their soul fainted in them. Then they cried unto the Lord in their trouble, and He delivered them out of their distresses. And He led them forth by the right way, that they might go to a city of habitation. Oh that men would praise the Lord for His goodness, and His wonderful works to the children of men! For He satisfieth the longing soul, and filleth the hungry soul with goodness."  Psalm 107:1.9 Glorious New Hope          This has been literally fulfilled in me and mine. I praise the Lord Who has done great things for us. Hallelujah, Amen. 

The most precious truth which I have learnt since my conversion is the second coming of the Lord Jesus Christ. I firmly believe, as taught in the Bible, that the Lord Jesus Christ is coming soon. He will most certainly come and will not tarry. The signs of the times in the last decade have taught me to be waiting for Him. I was totally ignorant of this particular subject. It is not generally taught in this country. The missionaries connected with some denominations do not believe in it at all.

They believe that Christ will come to judge the quick and the dead at the time of the last judgment but they do not think He will come for His servants before the time of the resl1rrection of the dead, and before the final judgment. The hope of the appearing of our Saviour to take His redeemed ones to be with Him has been a great help to me in my Christian life. I praise the Lord for the great promise of His coming, and His counsel to watch and pray. "Watch therefore: for ye know not what hour your Lord doth come."  Matthew 24:24 "Take ye heed, watch and pray; for ye know not when the time is."  Mark 13:33  

You can read Part 1 (here) and Part 2 (here)
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2 Responses

  1. Hi there, I dont know if I am writing in a proper board but I have got a problem with activation, link i receive in email is not working… http://www.sakshitimes.org/?f84dbee57e324a04a688e0783bc,

  2. Been looking all over the place for the conversion experience of Panditha Ramabai and other details of her life. I found it here–thorough, complete and reliable. Thanks for this.

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