Born on November 6, 1949 into a Muslim family as Mumtaz Ali Khan in Thiruvananthapuram, Kerala, Sri M’s spiritual transformation was initiated at the age of nine by his future Master, Maheshwarnath Babaji. At nineteen, he embarked on a journey to the Himalayas – seeking a true Master.
His fortitude was soon rewarded by the timely appearance of his Master, Maheshwarnath Babaji, who initiated him forthwith into the Nath tradition. The next three-and-half years, he lived and travelled extensively through the Himalayas with his Master –gaining insights into India’s ancient spiritual texts, scriptures of other faiths and the esoteric discipline of Kriya Yoga.
Babaji encouraged him to return to the plains thereafter – to prepare for his life’s mission. He visited holy places across the subcontinent – Marutwa Malai, Ajmer, Dakshineshwar, Belur Matt, Puri, Benaras, Alandi, Shirdi and Tiruvannamalai – to familiarise himself with diverse spiritual traditions. He met saints from various religions including Neem Karoli Baba and also interacted with LaxmanJoo and Jiddu Krishnamurti. Around this time, Sri M was appointed as Governing Body Member of the Krishnamurti Foundation, and he later went on to manage the Neel Bagh School, Karnataka with his wife, Mrs Sunanda Ali. Few years after his Master passed away, he received the spiritual go-ahead to commence his life’s mission. In 1998, he started teaching, leading to the formation of The Satsang Foundation.
Traveling extensively unto the present day, he has quietly gone about his life’s mission—teaching and guiding people as per his Master’s instructions. In response to a query on the spiritual progress of a person and the path to that evolution, he says: “ Though, my parampara is Kriya Yoga, I don’t think it suits all aspirants. I propound Satsang even between two people. It cuts across barriers of caste and creed. Spiritual evolution is not diverse from regular living. Intervals of solitude are necessary but you cannot shut yourself totally. The world around you is your touchstone to spiritual practice.”
Conversant with teachings of most major religions, Sri M says: “Go to the core. Theories are of no use.” His message seeks to transcend the outer-shell of all religions by exploring their mystical core. In the 90’s, he led interfaith-harmony walks in Bangalore and Madanapalle under the concept of Manav Ekta – a precursor to the Walk of Hope 2015-16 he is currently leading across India, from Kanyakumari to Kashmir.
In 2011, Sri M wrote his memoir Apprenticed to a Himalayan Master — A Yogi’s Autobiography, which became an instant bestseller. Books like Wisdom of the Rishis: The Three Upanishads: Ishavasya, Kena & Mandukya; The Little Guide to Greater Glory and a Happier Life; and Jewel in the Lotus: Deeper Aspects of Hinduism soon followed.
He is married to Sunanda Ali and has two children – son, Roshan and daughter, Aisha – who are both married. Based in Madanapalle, Andhra Pradesh, he leads a simple life—teaching and guiding The Satsang Foundation and Manav Ekta Mission.
Over the years, Sri M’s mission as a spiritual guide, social reformer and educationist has given rise to many initiatives that include:
The Satsang Vidyalaya : In 1999, Sri M saw kids wandering in the nearby fields grazing cattle in Nakaladinne, a Lambani tribal settlement on the outskirts of Madanapalle, Andhra Pradesh. Dismayed to find they weren’t enrolled in any school, he along with a friend and modest capital, started a school providing free meals for the local community children including those from low – income families. After nearly 17 years, Satsang Vidyalaya has become a model school – run with child sponsorships and donations from people all over the world.
The Peepal Grove School : The Peepal Grove School is a co-educational, residential and alternative school, located in Gongivari Palli village, SadumMandal, Andhra Pradesh. The school was founded by Sri M and was inaugurated by the then President of India, Dr. Abdul Kalam, in December 2006. The Peepal Grove’s vision is to provide an environment where children learn to think critically, creatively and independently to achieve academic and personal goals.
Swasthya Kendra : Satsang Swasthya Kendra provides preventive and curative healthcare through holistic and comprehensive treatments. Swasthya Kendra was started in 2013 and is run by Satsang Foundation in Madanapalle, Andhra Pradesh. It offers treatment, medicines, and orthotics free to the community.
Manav Ekta Mission : Manav Ekta Mission was conceptualised by Sri M to work towards the oneness of all humanity under the aegis of The Satsang Foundation. The core belief of the mission is that humanity, regardless of differences, is built on the foundation of peace, summed up in words from the Rig Veda: ‘Ekam Sat, Viprah Bahudha Vadanthi’ meaning ‘The Truth is one, the wise call it by different names’.
Sarva Dharma Kendra : Sarva Dharma Kendra was envisioned by Sri M as a spiritual retreat to facilitate dialogue between religions and serve as an experiment for mankind to realise the essential unity of all religions. The centers are planned to accommodate individual places of worship for all faiths, common meditation halls for contemplation, and encourage inter-faith dialogues.
Walk of Hope 2015-16 : Walk of Hope is a padayatra for peace and harmony by the Manav Ekta Mission — covering 7500 kms from Kanyakumari to Kashmir. Led by Sri M, founder of Manav Ekta Mission, the journey spans 500 days through 11 Indian states, bringing together citizens from all walks of life. The Walk was flagged off on 12 January 2015 and has so far traversed 6250 kms through the states of Tamil Nadu, Kerala, Karnataka, Maharashtra, Gujarat, Madhya Pradesh, Uttar Pradesh, Delhi, Haryana and will cover Punjab and Jammu & Kashmir in the remaining days.