Biography of Fr.Mungamuri Devadas:
Father M. Devadas is the founder of ‘The Bible Mission’, a small but fast growing denomination in South India. St. M. Devadas remained as a celibate throughout his life of 120 yrs. He is a mystic with many spiritual experiences which are very peculiar to common Christianity. It is a strict order from him when he was alive, that one should not resort to write his Biography. The reason is one cannot unravel the totality of his life. So, it is only our amateur effort to record some of the events that took place in his life of ecstasy which he experienced in deep communion with his Creator, Saviour and Bridegroom, Jesus Christ. He is not a catholic Father, but is called that way by his followers.
(A) Meek and meditative beginnings
St. M. Devadas grew up in the humble and rustic surroundings of the Godavari delta region of Andhra Pradesh. His parents are evangelists. They are not very rich in worldly matters. But they are far wealthier in many spiritual aspects that used to spend their time in prayer and intercession every day till late night. As they did not beget children after many years of their marriage, in their old age God gave them the glorious gift i.e. a boy child, whom they named as ‘Devadas’ which means ‘Servant of God’
1. Birth and Childhood: St. M. Devadas was approximately born in 1840 to Jonah and Satyavatamma, in Jegurupadu, a small village in East Godavari district of Andhra Pradesh. He grew up in the best spiritual atmosphere which his parents provided. He was always contemplative while his young mates engulfed themselves in playing and making merry. It is incredible to the human wisdom to understand and believe some of his friendly experiences with the heavenly world and its beings, at this very adolescent age. For Example:- He used to make friendship with the divine ‘Attributes of God’. He used to follow his parents, in their evangelistic tours and strictly observe their meditative line up by being straight on his knees. He received God’s special calling during these times.
2. Schooling and Education: He was sent to a small school in Jegurupadu by his parents for his primary Education. He is a clever child and a spontaneous learner. After coming from school he used to help his parents in their ministry and day to day life. He is very active in school and had inculcated a sense of profound love for the nature and care for the living creatures. When he was 6 years old, his parents took him to a pastor’s get together. When a missionary asked him to pray there he prayed: “Lord Jesus, , Let me be like Thee when you are in my age.” From then onwards the missionaries had a special eye on child Devadas.
3. Missionary Patronage: After completing his primary education, his parents took him to the Lutheran Missionaries at (N.M.E.L.C) Nigam Memorial Evangelical Lutheran Church, at Dhavaleswaram on the banks of river Godavari, and left him under their patronage for further education and spiritual growth. There he finished his 8th standard and qualified as be a Higher grade teacher. Having closely watched his innate zeal and strong sense of determination to serve the Lord, the Lutheran missionaries immediately absorbed him in the teaching faculty of their mission schools. He is always loyal to his authorities and is of excellent disposition towards his superiors. His ideal life is a serene acme for the growing children to be punctual, sincere and humble. He marvelled his authorities in all the challenging responsibilities that are entrusted to him.
4. Meditative Solitude: Whether at home or in missionary boarding, he inculcated the habit of making his mind quiet and silent, only to converse with his Father. He believed in these verses and strictly observed them. “I am the Teacher” Jn.13:13; “And Learn from Me” Mt. 11:28. To realize his objective, he spent hours of solitude both day and night. This kind of habit later, paved the way for his mysterious life of ecstasy. It also resulted in the visible experience of communing with the Lord, face to face, with naked eyes. All his meditative practices made him a perfect seer. This is the internal dimension of his life which remained obscure to most of his colleagues and superiors. Heavenly saints, holy angels, earthly saints and sages from Himalayas are his regular visitors in his meditative life of solitude.
5. Meek Mentor: Under the patronage of Lutheran missionaries, St. M. Devadas developed his bodily, spiritual and mental faculties. There he was in the process of becoming a great spiritual giant. His personal fellowship with Jesus Christ increased day after day with mysterious experiences concerning heaven, earth and the nether world, resulting in an unequivocal understanding and analysis of the Scriptures in general and the deep meaning for the tough passages in particular. Thus he was ready as a perfect Bible teacher, trainer and mentor to humbly discharge his duties at various levels to various sections of people in India.
(B) Perfect Christian Profile:
While performing all the necessary functions of his daily routine, St. M. Devadas kept up a life of direct communion with the Lord. This made his personality a perfect and unique one among his contemporaries. He did not do any work out of his own, but after the Lord’s command. That is why he could able to perform all the roles which his mission superiors had entrusted him with great confidence.
(1) School Teacher: St. M. Devadas taught all subjects at the kindergarten level. He also taught the higher grade students and imparted to them spiritual and moral education. Even the naughtiest boy in the school, would pay heed to him, soon after listening to his kind expression and seeing his pleasant face. He never scolded a child throughout his teaching career. He won all their hearts only with ‘Love.’ He wrote a simple English grammar book especially for school children which became very popular in those days. Any popular aspect of his life is thoroughly wrapped up in his modest character of spiritual reticence. What he demonstrated is only a fraction of what he is and what is in him.
(2) Hostel Warden: As he is like a parent and a teacher to the children, the missionaries entrusted him with the hostel responsibilities as well since his work place is a boarding school. Unlike other wardens, St. M. Devadas was thrift and frugal in his spending and returned the remaining money from the allotted budget to his authorities at the end of every month. This very much astonished the missionaries. Once there took place a disastrous famine and all the boarding schools were run with just one square meal per day because of cut in the supply of food items. But in the boarding school managed by St. M. Devadas pupil were given three full meals per day in spite of the rationing. This was made possible by the Lord, as be St. M. Devadas made Him as the patron of his students and not the missionaries. This is to say that St. M. Devadas in all his ways and at every step has always looked to the Lord but not the missionary aid. Then the missionaries exclaimed that “life of faith means the life of Devadas”.
(3) Seminary Instructor: Later, he was asked to teach in the Lutheran theological seminary at Luthergiri, as part of advancing his spiritual teaching techniques. His teachings gave birth to many new doctrines which are in practice of the Biblical times. His Christian rationale was universal, historical and impartial in its nature. His teaching has always been preceded by an experience where he never professed a new teaching from the Bible without receiving it from the Lord. In his teaching careers one day, he taught on the subject matter “Even today, God shall speak and appear (to men)”. This caused little turmoil among the students other, faculty members and the Lutheran higher authorities. Some of them accepted its validity and truth value but some felt that they do not pertain to their teaching domain. Yet, all his Biblical expositions coupled with sound reasoning; backed up by the powerful practical demonstrations, tranquil led all the queries and lead the students and teachers alike, even to experience the same. Here, it is worthwhile to quote what he observed: “my spiritual education is from the Lord’s School. That’s why my teaching is perfect and correct”.
(4) Sanatorium Caretaker: Apart from the academic and theological responsibilities, the missionaries had also given him the additional charge of comforting and encouraging the Sanatorium patients. According to His given schedule he used to visit patients to nurse, guide and console them with his divine presence and the words emanated from the infallible love of Christ. According to Rev. S. Samuel the former President of the Bible Mission and one of the close disciples of St. M. Devadas, ‘The patients anticipated much for St. M. Devadas, than their medical staff and Doctors.’ He is a man with divine nature whose words and deeds worked alike for both physical and spiritual sufferings of the masses.
(5) Itinerant Preacher: In his untiring services to the Lutheran Mission, he worked relentlessly in all the possible areas his superiors had put him to, at his best. Yet, he also managed to be a touring evangelist. In this ministry he captured the attention of the touring mobs gathered in great number to observe certain rituals and religious festivals in and around Andhra Pradesh. His reaching out to the masses is very innovative as he used to show “Magic Lanterns”, and some cultural art forms which at once astonished people’s attention and drew them to Him. Then he used to relate the Gospel message to that folk art or dance which he performed and nativize it for their understanding. Afterwards his followers used to distribute the “Gospel tracts” published by him. One of such pamphlets is “Bountiful Message” (Pushkalopadesamu) which addressed the austere audience bathing in holy rivers where the occasion comes for each river once in twelve years. In Sanskrit, ‘pushkara’ means twelve.
(6) Church Pastor: In his association with the Lutheran Church, St. M. Devadas served as a regular ‘Parish Priest.’ It was a living experience for all who attended his service. His worship services have always witnessed new songs, new messages and new explanations of the Scriptures; all received by him in different times and situations from the Lord. During the severest drought of the early 1940’s in India, he composed a song and made it sung by the children in the Sunday service. At that time all the Church members wept aloud. After the service all the missionaries encircled him, asking How? Devadas! how? How were you able to manage these days?” The Hymn says like this: “What do I lack when my chief patron is with me!! The loving God is my Caring Supporter and my only Savior.
(7) Christ like life: St. M. Devadas was a living replica of Christ. He believed and proclaimed that all children of God must resemble Him. Throughout day he worked for his mission in preaching, teaching, nursing and caring. Throughout night he spent time in isolation with his Lord, in conversing with Him, about the work of the day and plan of action and execution. and interceding for the people. Throughout his life, he never rebuked any person or any student. Regarding this nature he gently remarked that, “If he would rebuke a person he can never live.” He presented Christ in the way, the world would best receive Him, and in the way Christ wanted him to.
(C) A Matchless Matured Man of God:
This section deals with the personality of St. M. Devadas. It tries to understand him, his works and teachings from a typical point of view that describes his maturity of mind and perfection of body.
(1) Stream of Consciousness: This represents his vast and universal thought that intended salvation even for the originator of sin in this world i.e. ‘Satan’. His prayer is that no man should go to hell. Every morning he used to embrace the whole universe and pray for its total salvation. He wept, knelt, fasted, and finally kept his body upside down for the fulfillment of his spiritual goals. For this he evolved a detailed fasting prayer order which can be adopted for various time frames and periodical sessions, i.e. for forty days; for one week; and for a day. His saving technique was extended even to the living creatures such as animals & birds. He prayed for the natures (redemption mentioned in Rom. 8 th chapter.) salvation which in turn would make if teach the humans openly. Thus, his views were revolutionary and certainly leave their own typical and indelible impressions on the present day Christendom. We welcome you to know further, about this stream.
(2) Philosophy of Suffering: St. M. Devadas voluntarily welcomed all types of suffering and ailments. For him, sufferings are like the litter (Royal Cab) that carry the believer to the close fellowship of God. He preferred the internal suffering in hands of the evil powers than the bodily afflictions only to prove their inability in driving his attention from his Creator and the special prayers that he is offering Him. For him, it was said that the whole day was life and the whole night was death. For a believer to grow to the maturity of Christ and to the measure of God’s attributes sufferings are the best means which shelter, guard, grow and perfect his/her faith. He opined that suffering should be at our disposal and it should come when invited and should leave when ejected. When we undergo the pain of suffering, he said that we should talk to pain saying “O suffering! anyway, you have come into my body! So don’t leave me until you give me the gift that you specially brought for me.” Certainly there is a difference between his philosophy of sufferings and that of the reflections of the Catholic monks of middle Ages.
(3) Meticulous Meditation: The main focus of St. M. Devadas’ miraculous life lied in his powerful meditations concerning man, God and Creation. His concept of meditation had the Indian mode of observing it which was followed by the Ancient Indian Rages of Himalayas. In every aspect of creation we can see the divine form and qualities manifested either explicitly or implicitly. He captured this Clement of creation and thus praised God. For example: In the life of a small plant He displayed all the divine qualities that are innately working in it. In His meditations the holy saints, holy angels, earthly saints and the holy sages from Himalayas whose head is Kailasa Rishi, the Muslim monk from Alexandria, Egypt; (who was made known to western world by Sadhu Sunder Singh.) used to come, appear talk and commune with him.
(4) Ecstatic Experiences:
As God enabled him to watch and wander in heaven, earth and Hades, alive, he had several ecstatic experiences of working in those wonder lands. He visited the dead souls by ‘the gift of flying in spirit and body’ and preached them the way of their salvation as per divine orders. He visited various remote corners of the earth with the help of that gift and came in touch with Sadhu Sunder Singh & Kailash Rishi and some of the mysterious wonders of the Himalayas. In his heavenly journey he met many of the Old Testament saints and New Testament saints and the Chief Arch Angels. He closely observed the heavens’ schedule and the nature of praise, people are offering there to the Lord. For all these experiences “Sannidhi” which means waiting in the Lord’s presence for about an hour or more with undivided attention to upon His Countenance only to listen to His voice and see His form, is the sole reason and base.
5. Hades: A New Discovery: ‘Hades is a Greek term referring to the nether world whose particular and detailed nature and functioning was revealed by the Lord to St. M. Devadas.
In his ministry he paid much of his attention to the unsaved dead souls.
In one of his “Sannidhi” meetings at Berhampur with Dr. Nina Ottoman, God revealed them about the sorry state of these dead souls who could not have access to listen to the Gospel and accept Christ, over the past centuries when they lived on this earth. So, The Lord has – kept all – these unbelieving souls bound in Hades to be preached to by some of His close and powerful servants.
6. Universal Perspectives:
‘St. M. Devadas’ views concerning Church and God are universal. He said “Do not hate or despise any man or any religion, when you do not understand things, just ask God.” He opined that man, in any cultural set up, from any corner of the globe must talk to his Creator and continue to develop relations with Him, so as to fulfil His will on this soil. He also believed that ‘the Rapture Church’, is being prepared from among all the churches, across the world which is in close union with the Bridegroom, Jesus. He saw well in all religions but the ultimate and perfect good is seen in Christianity in terms of the crucifixion of Christ.
7. The Hallmarks:
St. M. Devadas life and words were a living mystery to those around him when he lived on this soil. When he taught about the ‘Holy Spirit Baptism’ and the direct revelation of Jesus Christ in form of the Son of Man many people were sceptical about it. As the Lutheran Missionaries asked him to show a sign in order to prove his teachings, he called Rev. Neidorfer Junior and asked him to write down the details of his brother Rev. Neidorfer Senior who was in America. Them, St. M. Devadas narrated about the work that he engaged in, the type of car that he drove, the colour of suit that he wore; at that particular hour and day and asked Junior Neidorfer to confirm them with his brother. When Senior Neidorfer wondered and confirmed all the details, then the Lutheran missionaries believed St. M. Devadas and asked for his Pardon, and acknowledged that St. M. Devadas is righteous and true in his teachings ways and revelations.