by Ronnie Thomas
DAILY Photo by Jonathan Palmer
Dr. Laj Utreja has traveled the globe ‘in search of truth.’
Going on a global spiritual journey
Madison man’s experiences ‘in search of truth’ inspiration for book
MADISON — Autumn leaves twist in a mild breeze and drift to the ground as Dr. Laj Utreja relaxes on the deck of his Veranda Drive home here and contemplates life.
A Hindu born in New Delhi, he speaks of turning-point travels, such as his arrival in the United States in 1968. He enrolled in engineering graduate studies at the University of Minnesota at Minneapolis-St. Paul after receiving offers from several schools.
“Minnesota offered the best assistantship,” he said. “The snow and cold? If you come as a student, you’ll like anything, snowmobiling and tobogganing.”
As overwhelming as coming to America might seem, Utreja’s most incredible journeys came during a three-year period following his brother’s death of a brain tumor in May 1999.
He says the loss started him on a path that changed his life, motivating him to travel to many places, all “in search for truth,” and to write a book, “Who Are We?” on reincarnation and the law of karma.
Utreja, 60, whose wife, Dr. Monita Soni, is a pathologist at Parkway Medical Center, attended self-realization fellowships at temples throughout the Los Angeles area. Because of his brother’s “great faith” in Sri Sathya Sai Baba, he returned to his native country, traveling to Puttaparthi, India, about 1,200 miles south of New Delhi, the birthplace of Sai Baba. It was there, Utreja said, that he encountered “a state of bliss as I have never experienced before.”
Baba, whose teachings are based on truth, righteousness, peace, universal love and non violence, is the most colorful and multifaceted prophet modern India has produced. Followers believe him to be — and Utreja concurs — the incarnation of Shiva Shatki, who proclaims life and death principles, and the potency of God.
Utreja said that as Baba, 79, walked the aisles of Prashanti Nilayam, which means “the abode of peace,” he looked at him “in total awe, mesmerized by his presence. He produces an ash called vibhuti, which means glory of God, in his bare hands.
“The first time I saw him do it was from a distance,” Utreja said. “The second time, nearer to me on another side of the aisle, a man asked for vibhuti, and I saw it clearly. He rubs his hands together, then pours out the ash from his right hand.”
Utreja said he was among about 5,000 people in the audience, composed of people of all faiths, including Christians, Hindus, Buddhists and Muslims. Over a million people gather there each year on Baba’s birthday Nov. 23.
His travels included visiting shrines in the Himalayas. He made his final trip in preparation for the book in June 2002, to the holy mountain of Mount Kailash in Tibet. He describes in the book the reincarnation he got at the end of the journey.
Utreja, who has lived in the Huntsville area 30 years, said, “There is no doubt in my mind that we reappear over and over again. When we hurt people, we momentarily forget that hurt can come back to us.”
He said that if “we see others do bad things, but yet have a good life, we are seeing them in a finite duration of time, knowing that no one can go back (in the end) and be one with God without paying the consequences of all actions. We don’t awake until something bad happens to us or unless we are in a situation of conflicts. Otherwise, life is rosy. It is only when we are deprived of health, wealth or happiness that we begin to question.”
Utreja noted that we say “God is just. Will we believe in a God who is not just? A bad guy seemingly gets away unpunished. We shortsight God. We did not see what (God) did to him. He will do justice in his own time.
“But if I do good to you, somewhere in your psyche it is deposited, and you’ll return it to me. When we have an upper hand, when we are intoxicated by power and wealth, we forget about all this.”
Utreja also pointed to another slogan, imprinted on our money, “In God We Trust.” But, he asks if we really trust him, because “if we do, we’ll be good to everyone in a system in which we will not have created classes.”
Utreja claims that “a true scientist cannot prove God doesn’t exist. If there is manifestation, there has to be a cause and that cause is beyond human capacity. And that is why we believe in an omniscient, omnipotent and omnipresent God. That is only reasonable. It’s the cause and effect principal. That’s when the law of karma comes into play. You reap the consequences of your karma.”
He added, “We all are believers, philosophers and scientists because we believe, we reason and we observe.”
Utreja, who earned a Ph.D. in mechanical engineering at The University of Alabama at Huntsville, taught for about 10 years as adjunct professor in the department of mechanical engineering and the department of foreign languages and literature. He now teaches two courses at UAH in continuing education, one on karma and destiny and one on and stress management.
In 2001, he sold his company, Native American Services, which supported NASA and the Marshall Space Flight Center. Three years ago, he founded the Institute of Spiritual Healing, where he teaches the correct way to breathe and meditate.
Copies of “Who Are We?” are available online at www.amazon.com or at www.barnesandnoble.com.
Utreja will follow his first work with “Where Are We Coming From?” and “What Is Our Purpose?”
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