The most important incident wherefrom the history of Mai movement starts, took place in the latter months of 1931 ( September and October ) in Poona (India).
The wife of Founder’s college friend and boss (Late Revered Sister Taraben Soparkar) was on death-bed suffering from Septicemia. The friend got the Founder(Markand Dholakia) transferred from Ahmedabad to Poona to help in the calamity. The wife was lying upstairs. She said to her husband, I am hearing the Mantra repetitions from some Matajee’s devotee. I am on death-bed so please find him out round about our bungalow streets and let me have his Darshan”. The friend took the Founder and went round in search and assured her that there was none:”Not only I but even ‘Dholkia Kaka’ accompanied me for the search”. She exclaimed,”What has he come? It must be then he. Please call him up”.She repeated the same shloka of Sapta Shati fourth Adhyaya which the Founder was then repeating mentally unheard by anyone. This shloka was repeated by her to assure the Founder that he was a recognised devotee and that she was a worthy recipient of his Darshan and blessings.
A drawing professor was coaching the friend’s daughter. He inquired of the future of the lady from a Pandharpur saint. The saint foretold, that her days were finished but added, “There is, however, a saint in his house. out of courtesy to whom She is not being taken away. The day he leaves the bungalow. she would expire.” The friend enlightened by the first experience suspected that the saint in his bungalow was none other than the Founder and as he was the head of the department, kept him all hours confined to his bungalow by way of precaution. asking him to do his official work at that place.
On 3-October-1931, the case was entirely serious. Three eminent doctors declared she would die within an hour or so. The worst news was broken by the husband of his friend who tried to strengthen his courage to meet the calamity. The husband vociferated,”What a coward talk? I am sure, if you heartily pray, she will at least live longer and give me sufficient time to prepare for the worst.” The Founder had very little of confidence in the efficacy of his prayers for the most impossible change, but he had to follow him upstairs. He prayed with his whole heart and devotion standing near the pillow of the lady in midst of nearly twenty weeping relatives. The pulse, speech and vision had left the body. In prayer, the Founder’s tears fell in her mouth, the pulse speedily went up, vision and speech returned and the eyes opened. Her words were,”How can I like to leave this world leaving behind me the un-cared-for children? I see Mataji standing before me. She says if you fast for a day she will give me a week’s extension. Will you not promise doing that for me?” The promise was given hand in hand and the improvement began with almost unimaginable speed. Just half an hour after, she asked for milk, fruit-juice etc. It was an unprecedented family joy.
Some believed, and some did not, in God’s hand in all these. But almost everyone including husband thought she was saved permanently. On the 7th day, the temperature, however, rose up from the morning. The husband was too shrewd to remain any longer under a delusion. The whole story looked true. She was to go that day. He had a hysteric fit from he was made to recover to composure after consolation by his friend. At 3 p.m., there was a phone from the Secretariat asking the husband to send certain confidential office files under lock and key. He could not possibly leave her. The Founder was given keys and the motor driver was ordered to drive fast and the Founder was given strict orders not to waste a single minute in the office. On reaching the office, the head clerk informed him that the lady expired as soon as he has placed his feet outside the bungalow.
Here was a continued episode which baffled all human solutions. She was a great devotee of Matajee. She actually heard the Mantra which the Founder was simply mentally chanting. The prophecy of the Pandharpur saint and its fulfilment were wonders. She saw Mother and heard Her words. A fast of a particular devotee earned the Mother’s Grace of the boon of a week’s life extension. All these happenings began revolving in Founder’s mind, finally resulting in an overpowering sense of his ingratitude to Mother.
Said he,”Should I be simply living pleasure-dipped and fully ungrateful to my Mother? She has so often protected me all along and shown Herself to me and I have not breathed a single syllable into the world about Her mercifulness and Her dying for Her devotees. This one idea drove off all other ideas, even those required to sustain himself in daily routine. He became semi-lunatic, weeping day and night and beat his forehead, sometimes against walls rolling on the ground and saying only one thing, I am a wretch, most ungrateful creature, Even such a simple thing glorification of Thyself, I have not done.”
He had to go on a long leave. Doctors consulted diagnosed that he had no disease whatever. He had divine madness. The best medicine was constant talk about Mother and Mother’s occupation within his hearing and seeing. This was a furnace period, during which there was a wholesale drastic change, in the Founder’s religious outlook. All the pride of Hindu-ism, Vedas, Brahmins (he himself being a Nagar the highest Brahmin in Gujerat) and the belittling of other religions evaporated. Strangely and wonderfully. Mother finally commanded him to install Her as Mai The Universal Divine Mother.
“God as Mother, Mother of all, propitiable with universal love, service, devotion and unconditional cheerful self-surrender”. These six words and expressions he would often hear in the air and would read written on walls and on the ceiling between joist-gaps and on closed doors and windows. He pleaded his full unworthiness to such an innovation. The more he tried to evade, the more did Mother sit on his heart and head till the sweet talk became artificially embittered and wrathful. “What do you prefer? Installing me as Mai with the dictated six tenets or life-long present semi-lunacy?
The Founder finally gave the promise to Mother and so to say escaped, on giving a promise, in order to avert semi-lunacy. His recovery was marvellously quick after promise and he returned to Poona (Pune) and rejoined his service. He had a world of reminders from Mother almost every week. But he was too conscious of the crushing responsibility, to so easily yield. He went on procrastinating.
Two persons one in Calcutta and the other in Mysore (Shimoga) were given the command in dreams to go over to the city of Poona (Pune) and deliver Her Message of Installing Mother.
The Calcutta message-bearer came over to Poona (Pune). Finding no place in any other hotel, he had come over to the hotel where Founder resided. With great despondency as how to find the man in such a large unknown city, he fell into sleep at 10 p.m. He had a dream; “Don’t be the afraid and losing heart. I have brought you to the man. Just at twelve midnight, you see things through the slit of a common door between your room and the front room. You have to hand over the message to the man there in the morning. Make a bold statement”. The man saw the Founder at the said hour in communion, full of solicitations to Mother,” To find some other man to install etc.” In the morning he delivered the message and left.
The Mysore devotee who carried the message happened to come to the hotel as a casual visitor. The Founder by chance went to the dining floor at the time the man was dining. As soon as that man saw the Founder returning to his place, he suddenly left his half-meal and ran after the Founder. Most abruptly he talked,”Are you a devotee of Devi ?” Founder also made no delay: “Yes, not only a devotee but a passionate, most uneasy devotee”. Still, most abruptly the man said,” I come from Mysore. I have a message to hand over to you from Mother.” The Founder got dumb-founded. “Yes please come to my room. The man followed: the message was communicated. Said the man,” I have come so far. Would you not favour me with the spark of Love for Mother? I have enough of divine knowledge for my purpose (this was only his modesty). Said the Founder,” Are you prepared? Would you sit with me on the bench of the Sheikh Sulla bridge during night hours ?” He agreed.
The Founder was sitting with him from 11 p.m. to 4 a.m. on a wooden bench. The man went to his place. He was at the highest pitch of desire that he may have a vision of Mother at least in a dream. He had a dream in the sleeping. Mother appeared and said,”You are now longing for my Darshan. Who was talking to you for hours on the bridge? That was me. You have not only seen me but talked to me”. The man narrated the event to the Founder at early dawn.
Two persons coming down for only the purpose of delivering the message was something too great to be taken lightly. That put the Founder to an indescribable shame about his obstinacy and suspiciousness. Said he with a sigh,” I am sure a man without faith. I have a faith in reality what I have seen and heard, but I have no faith in Mother making me fully fitted for the uphill unique task”. He was extremely nervous and terribly afraid of how people would consider his actions and of their defaming him by attributing highest impudence, hypocrisy and blasphemy.
He decided to be tricky with Mother and to get to Her agree to let her fad go once for all, but he could not succeed. On the hand Mother directly repeated Her treat, “Tell me in one word once for all, what do you prefer – Installation or lunacy ?”
The Founder had no go and with a sorrowful laughter he set down to stipulate terms with Mother, as he had done before when he had begun a hundred repetitions of Saptashati. He made a Sankalpa ( a resolution ) pouring sacred water offering to the Mother, ” If there is an entirely new building of which the first in-dweller is myself, if I enter it on a Friday, if by evening there is a dazzling light, if there is a basket of ‘mithai’ and fruits received that day,if three girls and two men knock my door at 9.30 p.m., if they press me to install Thee, if at 10 p.m., I find Mother’s picture in any shop, if at 11 p.m., I find some shop open wherefrom I can purchase worshipping materials and lastly if at 11.30 p.m.. some ‘Mali’ (garland hawker) brings me a most beautiful garland befitting Thee and the occasion, then I shall not hesitate and I shall not fail to Install Thee and declare Thee and Thy Religion.
Each and every condition was so very wonderfully and admirably fulfilled. He was getting surer and surer as one condition after another came up attaining fulfilment and when finally a hawker shouted out “Har Har’ (Garland, Garland), he burst into tears on hearing that shout. He began to beat his breast and forehead. “Mother, Thou hast finally caught me. Could you not find any other man, who is more worthy than me?”The five persons consoled him with the sweetest words, “She would do Her own work. Who is more blessed than yourself? Why should you lose heart and courage? Where is the question of your worthiness or unworthiness, at all sir, when She Herself has chosen you ?”
Mother was installed at 12 midnight on 2-9-1932. Said he to all that had gathered, ” From today, I am a Mai-ist, from today my religion is ‘ God as Mother, Mother of all, propitiable on living the life of universal love and service, with devotion and unconditional cheerful self-surrender’. Krishna, Mohammad, Christ, Jarthost, Buddha and every Founder of any religion is my Mother’s (Mai’s) illustrious son. From now, Bible, or Koran is as venerable and worshippable to me as Geeta. A Mohammedan lady will find the same shelter in my home as a Hindu lady under communal riot (This actually happened).
I will continue to pray God as I have prayed till now, whether in a Hindu Mandir, or a Mohammedan Masjid or a Christian Church or a Zoroastrian Agiari or an Israelite Synagogue. No more religious differences; the devotion of Mother is necessarily the devotion of Mother’s Children. I am a changed religious man from this moment.” Said the Founder,” I install Mai today. I declare Mai-ism today. Let it be to known to one and all of my friends. Let the world if so minded now commence the work of ridiculing, defaming, censuring, suppressing, harassing and crushing me and the Mai movement.”
News spread around. The nearest people were Theosophists and Harijans. Some educated Harijans had the most reverential regard for the Founder, the man who was Love and Mercy himself with an innocent childlikeness and who was happily blessed with the most intense devotion. People began calling him “Second Ramakrishna”, ‘Mother’s child’, ‘Mother’, or ‘Mataji’.
The Founder had a terrible exhaustion after the installation night which lasted for three days. On the third night, he had a pleasant dream, in which he saw a vast open lawn in which there were innumerable ladies of all religions. He interpreted this to mean the Mother desired a congregation of ladies in strict purdah (with no gents and or boys) of all religions, in commemoration of Her installation. In spite of so many difficulties, a sisters’ social of over 300 sisters of all religions presided by Mrs Choudhary of Bengal on Dashera day (9-10-1932) became a fait accompli. By one and all that attended, it was called “Mother’s Miracle”.
The Founder attaches great religious importance to this novelistic idea of a congregation of all ladies without distinction of caste, creed and colour, in strict purdah without any gents or boys, meeting together in the spirit of religious sisters to have religious discourses and thought exchanges, prayers, worships, refreshments, prasads etc, on a Dashera day. The requirement of a purda has a deep significance to provide safety against any unusual custom or belief. If that provision is not there, Muslim sisters stand precluded; so also Hindu ladies of royal orthodoxies as also ladies whose husbands and relations are strictly against their womenfolk freely with men.
EXTRACT FROM THE BOOK: MAI-ISM
AUTHOR: MAI SWARUP MAI MARKAND / ABRIDGED BY U.R.M. U.G.MENON
Publisher: UNIVERSAL MAI-ISM Trust, MAI NIWAS, Saraswati ROAD END, SANTA CRUZ (WEST), Mumbai -400054 INDIA.