Rasiah Paulaseer Lawrie Muthukrishma, whom we fervently believe to be the Man Child, (Revelation 12) anointed and appointed by God to claim his birthright and thereby become the greatest, mightiest and most highly exalted personage in the whole history of mankind was bom on February 24, 1921, in ‘Letchumi Tea Estate’, Munnar, of South India.
Ayyah's ancestry can be traced to Cochin, now part of Kerala State. They were descended from the tribe of Judah in the lineage of Nathan after they were carried to the east thousands of years ago. His predecessors were settled in the Kanyakumari District (Cape Comorin) at the ancient port Puvar, which was the ‘Ophir’ of Biblical days. Gold was exported to King Solomon's courts through this port.
During the reign of the Travancore kings a persecution arose in these parts to suppress the local people. A government order was issued that the women could not wear any covering above their waist, thus exposing their breasts; also members of this sect were forbidden to walk on certain streets. These unjust laws drove them from those parts and they settled at the area now called ‘Adayal Mudalur’. They worshipped the local gods and goddesses and intermarried with those who had earlier migrated to this area. There they fulfilled what was spoken by Moses that they would be carried away and worship wood and stone. (Deuteronomy 28:36)
Ayyah's great grandfather (five generations from Ayyah), Sudalaimadan Natan, was born the seventh child in his family. He had such a craving in his heart to know God that in his quest he made a coffin and lay in it, refusing to eat or drink till such time God revealed Himself to him. He was blessed with a vision of a man in a white robe who came and touched him. Immediately he got a great peace. He was not told the name of the person, but told that white skinned people would come and tell the name. When they came some years later he allotted ground for a church. Today that place is called ‘First Church’, because it was the first in that area. He accepted Jesus Christ as his Saviour and became a Christian and took on the new name, Swamiadian. Infuriated by this, his own family drove him out of their fold and declared him as the ‘Lost Son’. All his life, this great grandparent of Ayyah stood firm in his belief, and he was a mighty witness for Jesus, having a healing ministry. His grave at Mudalur is venerated today by people of every caste and creed, even after nearly 175 years. The grave has to be replenished with soil as it is carried away by the handfuls, as it is claimed to have healing power.
Ayyah's grandfather on his father's side, Mr. Suvishesha Muthu Ponnuswamy, was a Tamil Pandit (Master of the language Tamil) and taught the language to the foreign missionaries. He had a bakery in Nagercoil. One day a Mr. Lawrie Muthukrishna came to the bakery with his tale of woe that some one had picked his pocket and that he had lost all the money. He was a famous fingerprint expert and chief of the Polytechnic and Government Auditors of Sri Lanka. He had lost all hope of returning to Sri Lanka when Ayyah's grandfather helped him out of this predicament by lending him the needed cash. It was in repayment to this act of kindness, that this Government official of Sri Lanka took Ayyah's father Mr. Rasiah with him to Sri Lanka, and took on the responsibility of educating him. At the birth of Ayyah he was named after this benefactor and given the name ‘Lawrie Muthukrishna’.
Ayyah's ancestor on his mother's side is the famous 'Siddhar,’ a legend in his lifetime. His descendants are even now called the 'Siddhar family’. According to family history, this Mr. Siddhar met an unknown Rishi (Sage) and received from him the secrets of setting broken bones and valuable medicinal herbs. These secrets were written on foils of palm leaves and scrolls called ‘Yedus’. The ancient Tamilians had preserved and recorded these valuable documents. This art of bone setting and medicines have been handed down father to son in the Siddhar family, and carefully guarded as a family secret.
Ayyah's father, Rasiah, under the guardianship of the Mr. Lawrie Muthukrishna, became a teacher in the Polytechnic College, and a while after worked in the ‘Galcha Company’ as the Secretary to the General Manager. He was recruited into the Salvation Army and rose to the rank of a Sergeant Major. On an official visit to the company's ‘Letchumi Tea Estates’ in Munnar, India, he happened to stay with the head clerk there, and later married his daughter. He took a long leave and stayed with his wife's parents till Ayyah was born. The child was named ‘Rasiah Paulaseer Lawrie Muthukrishna’ and was baptized in the Church of England in Munnar by sprinkling of water.
Soon after this baptism, Mr. Rasiah took his wife and child to Sri Lanka. One evening Ayyah at the age of eighteen months was sitting on his father's lap. A Sinhalese man who had a grievance against Mr. Rasiah, advanced towards them with a drawn knife with an intent to murder both, father and child. As he closed in on them, a bolt of lightning intervened and the man rolled on the ground screaming with fright, and cringed to be forgiven.
Taking this as Divine intervention to save the life of his child, Mr. Rasiah took extra pains to bring him up in the fear of God. It was his custom to go to the ‘Galle Face Green’ by the ocean in the evenings for prayer and meditation, taking his young son with him. On one such evening when his father was deep in meditation Ayyah, who was about five years, walked right to the sea waves. Miraculously Ayyah was not pulled away into the sea to drown. The waves reversed course and instead of coming inward they turned and rolled backward as Ayyah was walking into the sea. People were shouting that a boy was walking into the sea; his father came running catching him. This wonder was another sign to Ayyah's father, that there was a special divine purpose for his son.
Mr. Rasiah and his wife had more children. The parents decided that the mother should go back to India with the children and get them into schools. They built a house at Nazareth where the mother and children lived for many years, while the father commuted back and forth from Sri Lanka when possible.
Mr. Rasiah and his wife very much wished to be inducted into the ‘Salvation Army’ for full time service and even had the necessary uniforms made for them. When his mother went over to India, this plan had to be dropped. Mr. Rasiah joined the ‘Galle Face Christ Church’ instead, and worked for the spiritual uplift of the church members. During this time Ayyah was so adamant that he should be with his father, that on Mr. Rasiah's leave to Nazareth he clung to the wheels of the departing auto. His father then relented and took him with him to Sri Lanka. As a child Ayyah was dedicated to God's work in the ‘Christ Church’, an act considered to be most unusual.
After some time Mr. Rasiah, seeing the factions and cliques among the church elders, their bickering and strivings for power during the election to church offices and their misappropriation of the church funds, he became so embittered that he fought with them openly. He reproved even God for allowing such things to happen in this church. He got so upset that he spent sleepless nights. Attempting to go daily to his job and not being able to sleep in the night eventually led to a nervous break down. During these days of sickness, Mr. Rasiah searched his heart and came closer to God as never before, finding greater peace and tranquillity. This had a direct bearing on young Ayyah, as every evening after his father's recovery he went along with him to the seashore for prayers. The elder imparted his spiritual experience to his son.
Ayyah outgrew the school he was studying at in Sri Lanka, and he returned to Nazareth to further his education, staying this time with his mother and younger brothers and sisters. There were eight children in all, five boys and three girls. The children lacked the controlling factor of their father who could only be with them for short visits. Thus unbridled, Ayyah accumulated all the bad habits of the local boys. He became virtually a leader of young thugs who were a menace to many houses. Being the eldest son, his mother doted on him and gave him all the money he demanded, which he spent unscrupulously and for wrong purposes. Even though he was doing wrong things, deep in his heart Ayyah kept the fear of God.
In studies, Ayyah was well ahead in his class, except in mathematics. His plump body earned him such nicknames as, ‘Roller’, ‘Barrel’, or ‘Dwarf’. His younger brothers too became unruly and even ganged up against their teachers. At times Paul and his friends went into the church and set traps for squirrels, in which they were experts. Getting into the altar of the church by anyone other than the ordained priest was considered a sacrilege. The church wielded such power over the people at that time that the priests ruled supreme. No one could have independence of thinking. Talking or acting against the church and her representative, the priest, was not tolerated. One day, caught setting the traps in the church, the boys were bound to the trees and were beaten by the villagers by the orders of the priest. This incident had an adverse effect in Ayyah's attitude towards church authority, and he tempered his will, never to bend to the religious tyranny.
Another gruesome act that impinged deeply into his young mind, was the murder of an illegitimate baby perpetrated in one of the Christian homes. Ayyah recalls this with revulsion even to this day. In another incident in a church elder's home he witnessed the ‘black act of witchcraft’. An evil spirit that had been commissioned to destroy another family was offered eggs and blood of an animal that it gobbled up. Having done these satanic deeds, this church elder and his family were the first to the church on Sundays with hypocritical long faces and 'holier than thou attitude' towards others of the congregation. (Romans 1:29-31; Galatians 5:19-21; Colossians 3:5-6; I Timothy 6:4,5; II Timothy 3:5; Titus 3:3; Rev. 22:15)
Since his mother was finding it difficult to control him, Ayyah was sent to boarding school, where he learned much more mischief from the boys who had come from other parts of the districts. He had a bunch of keys with which he could open the boxes and take the sweets and snacks of other boys who were keeping them only for themselves. He would then distribute the treats to all the boys. The monitor of the boarding house was assisting Ayyah, as he agreed that it was unjust for some boys to be eating the sweets in front of those who had none. The selfish boys complained to the warden about their missing sweets. When the warden unravelled the mystery, he confiscated the duplicate keys and threw them into a nearby well.
The death of an intimate friend of his, Charles Kanagaraj, gave him a rude shake up and made him contemplate on 'life now' and 'life after.' Though he had a rough outer crust, Ayyah had the inner urge to know God. When he was a choir boy in the Nazareth Church, he used to nudge the boy next to him, whenever they sang the response, 'Don't take away the Holy Spirit from us.' He would ask everybody with a mischievous twinkle in his eyes, "When did you have the Holy Spirit that you sing, don't take it away?" Most of the people dodged him from answering that. Bold in the knowledge that no one could give him a proper answer, he approached the local pastor and asked his pet question to him. He in his officious tone told him, "Lawrie, you are asking me a dangerous question. I can't answer you." When he questioned his headmaster on this subject he wisely replied, "It is difficult to answer. Since you don't have it, you ask this question." He asked his father too. Everyone had evasive answers. Later in life, he realized what the Psalmist meant, when he sang that prayer.
As a small boy, Ayyah used to be the drummer for the S.P.G. Church gospel team. One day as this team went to preach in a dominant Hindu area, the Hindus came in a crowd to attack them. On seeing them, every member of the gospel team ran in every direction and Ayyah outdid others, having thrown away the drum.
During his school days, Ayyah had a narrow escape from being rundown by a speeding car. He was crossing a road on a bicycle, when he felt himself being pushed by a strong hand and fell, with his cycle, off the road just as a car careered past him and crashed to a stop. The hand that pushed him off the road saved him at the nick of time. When he looked around, there was no one there who could have pushed. It can only have been the protective hand of God that previously protected him in other incidents.
As a boy, Ayyah had another accident in which the antlers of a deer, hanging at the entrance of their house, dropped while he was playing under it. The nail-sharp horn drove so deeply into the skull, that people thought it would impair the mental balance of the boy. But there was no ill effect even after the wound healed.
Typhoid, in those days was a dreaded disease, as there was no drug to fight the infection. Strict dieting was the only prescription doctors had for this sickness, and many succumbed to it. When Ayyah contracted typhoid his father was in Sri Lanka. He had to be summoned home by his wife, as the illness became critical. Ironically Ayyah's uncle was daily hoping for the boy's death, because an astrologer had given a prediction that if Ayyah died, his epileptic fits would disappear. His mother was giving Ayyah ‘Horlicks’, a drink thought to be helpful for the sickness. When his father came he discovered, that someone had adulterated the Horlicks by adding flour, and it had been making Ayyah worse instead of better. His father talked to him of the importance of surrendering his life to the will of God, and Ayyah gave his consent to serve Him if he was healed.
That night he saw a vision. In the vision, near where he was laying was a lamp with the flame growing dimmer and dimmer. Suddenly a glorious person whose clothing shone brightly, came and stood by the lamp and turned the flame up, saying, 'You will live.' According to this promise he was healed and ever since his philosophy of life took a different turn. He loved everyone. He confesses that his affections were not always pure, but sometimes scattered in all directions. He would give anything away to whoever asked. His mother would not dare to give him anything of value, fearing he would give it away. When his mother refused to give him money for such philanthropic purposes, this love for his neighbours drove him even to gamble to help persons in financial need.
When his mother, brothers and sisters returned to Sri Lanka to be with the father, Ayyah this time stayed in India to study at St. John's College, at Palayamkottai. At this college, Ayyah not losing his love for fun and games used to play many practical jokes on the lecturers; sticking ‘thumb tacks’ on their seats was one of them. His friends joined with him in making funny noises, or in throwing paper balls and peanuts at the lecturers. He captained the college football team. At the football field he was a rough player and he would rather kick the man than the bail. Even today when he comes across his college mates, they remember their old days, showing the scars from the wounds sustained playing football with him.
After finishing the intermediate class of university studies, he went to Sri Lanka and took up commercial subjects for one year. During this trip he learned the art of self-defence and unarmed combat. Boxing, wrestling and jujitsu became as important to him as football. With affection he remembers the family next door, especially Mrs. Oppilamonie, who would talk to him of the love of God. Her children too loved him as one of their brothers. After a year of study of commercial subjects, Ayyah went to the Wesley College, to gain the London Matric certificate.
He went back to Madras and joined the Christian College, Tambaram, for the Bachelor of Arts Degree. He still had his mischievous traits and enjoyed playing practical jokes. One day he played a joke on his physics professor by ducking him in dirty water, and was fined. Another time while throwing gooseberry seeds on one of the professors, the principal Reverend Boyd, stealthily crept up on him from behind, and caught him and fined him heavily. He also used to play ‘ghost tricks’ on the inmates of the college hostel. One student got so frightened that he became deliriously sick. His football games improved match after match. The special feature was that just before the team got to the ground, they came together and Ayyah would pray for their victory. They invariably won all the matches and became champions. He was so mad after football that he neglected his studies. The physics professor once remarked in the classroom, "Lawrie is centre forward in football but right back in the studies."
As the World War II began, a vigorous recruiting for officers was afoot. Ayyah wanted to join the army and took some training. When his father discovered this, he came and forced Ayyah to accompany him back to Sri Lanka. Here he used to attend the Sunday school and scored the highest marks and got the first prize. His father was very proud of the achievement of his son. Little did his father realize Ayyah had stolen the question papers before the start of the examination; he had all the answers prepared even before he sat down for the test. After this Ayyah got a seat at St. Xavier’s College, at Palayamkottai, India, and he went back to India to continue his studies.
He did get punishment for his misdeeds. Caning the students was common in those days. Teachers mercilessly thrashed the boys, at times just to exercise their authority. Ayyah came under such severe cane blows one day that he told his mother about it. She pleaded for her son and got the teacher's word, not to beat him thereafter. The next day Ayyah was regulated to the 'Mappilai bench'. (Bridegroom's Bench) Whoever sits there can come and go, as he likes. The teachers would never bother to take notice to anyone there on that seat. After a few days sitting on that seat unnerved Ayyah so much that he came pleading to his mother to request the teachers to resume beating him, so he could be taken off from that bench.