JAI MAI JAI MARKAND MAI
SAINT MAI – SWARUPA
Ancestry and Birth
PETLAD is to Mai-ists what Bethleham is to Christians. Mecca to Muslims, Azerbaijan to Zoroastrians and Kapilavastu to Buddhists. There, at 4.30 a.m. on 23rd December 1885, was born their beloved Maiji, Revered Saint Mai Swarupa. Petlad is the headquarters of the Taluk of that name in Kaira District in Gujerat. It is eighty-seven kilometers south of Ahmedabad city. The ancient building, hallowed by the incarnation, stands in a narrow street called Limdisheri and is about a kilometer and a half from Petlad Railway Station.
Grandparents and Parents
A brief survey of the family and background would serve as a necessary prelude to the proper understanding and appreciation of the Saint’s life and work. He was a scion of the family of Dholakias belonging to the Nagar community. The Nagars are orthodox brahmins and have been equated by Ernest Kirk in his book “The World’s Need and Mai-ism”, to the Nambudiris of Malabar and the Acharyas of Madras.
About a century ago, Sri. Sankarlal Dholakia moved, with his wife Smt. Chanchalba Devi, to Baroda where he was employed as Shirastadar in the district court. He was a man of exemplary character, was as fearless as he was upright, and was never inclined to curry favor with his superiors with the result that the Judge under whom he was working was prone to look askance at him and his ways. However, an unusual incident happened, which opened the judge’s eyes to the sterling worth of his subordinate. One day, the Dewan of Baroda on a tour of inspection of courts, was sitting in the judge’s chamber when Sankarlal went in to see the judge. The Dewan immediately stood up saying “Padaro Sankarlal” (Padaro is Guierati to welcome). This was highly disconcerting to the judge who wondered how the highest officer of the state, with power to appoint and dismiss even judges, could pay such open homage to a mere Shirastadar. Shankarlal was not in the least ruffled, and appeared to take the judge’s contemptuous indifference and the Dewan’s respectful solicitude alike in his stride. He bowed to both officers, finished his business and left. The Dewan sensed the unspoken desire of the judge for an explanation of his unusual conduct, and told him about the highly noble and honorable character of their visitor.
Sankarlal’s son Ratanlal Dholakia was a man of high imagination and broad outlook. By temperament and inclination, he was a Buddhist. He was a Mamlatdar (Tahsildar) and in spite of the manifold duties of office he always found time to make those around him happy. His wife Smt. Prabhalakshmi Devi was an ardent devotee of Lord Krishna.
Ratanlal had four sons and two daughters: Bhaskar Rao, Markand Rao, Vaman Rao, Pundarik Rao, Sulakshana Behen and Jayakumari Behen. The Second of these, Markand Rao Ratanlal Dholakia was chosen by God to become Maiswarupa, the founder of Universal Mai-ism.
Cavity in cranium
A little known but important incident connected with the birth of Maiswarupa merits narration. The child’s cranium had a deep cleft in the middle and presented a bizarre appearance of a double head. Two hemispherical cups placed side by side with mouths down would be a fair description of the infant’s head. Though the child was healthy and, in other respects, normal.
Prabhalakshmi Devi’s sorrow and anxiety knew no bounds. Her closest friends began to tease her by such-to them-witty remarks as “why not pack it off to a museum?” and “he is a good boy all right, but how will you fix him up with a turban?” Little did they realize that by such talk they were adding fuel to fire.
Krishna to the rescue
Prabhalakshmi Devi’s last refuge was Lord Krishna, to whom she prayed and prayed most fervently. God never forsakes a good and sincere devotee. The Lord appeared to the stricken mother in her dream, consoled her and assured her that everything would be allright, if she filled the cavity with sandal paste dedicated to Him. Needless to say the direction was promptly and devoutly followed, and to the wonder of everybody the cleft disappeared and the head became normal.
Sri Ramakrishna’s Joy
The holy event of the saint’s birth appears to have exerted a benign influence on Sri Ramakrishna Paramahamsa in distant Calcutta, who was then suffering from an incurable disease. He suddenly became cheerful. We read in the Gospal of Sri Ramakrishna: “On the morning of December 23, 1885 (the time and day of Maiswarupa’s birth) Sri Ramakrishna gave unrestrained expression to his love for the devotee… His love this day broke all bounds’ ‘. Many Mai-ists share the belief that Paramahamsa’a joy at that particular time was due to his intuitive knowledge that a new star had arisen in the firmament of hagiarchy. The belief is further supported by Sri Ramakrishna’s statement to the disciples the same day : “My teaching of others is coming to an end”.
Hinduism, Christianity, Islam and perhaps other religions also, accept the doctrine of choice or selection by God. It is stated in Katha Upanishad that “This self cannot be gained by the readine of the Scriptures, nor by keen intellect nor by much learning is attainable by him only whom He chooses” (“Aspirations from a Fresh World” by Sakuntala Rao Sastri). The Holy Bible save (Romans 9-18): “Therefore hath He mercy on whom He will have mercy and whom He will, He hardeneth”. In the chapter entitled “The Cloaked One”, in the Holy Koran (N.J.Dawood’s translation) we find : “ Thus Allah misleads whom He will and guides whom He pleases’ ‘.
If perfection can be achieved only by those whom God selects, it can be presumed that Saints also are the chosen of the God. Saints are born and not made.
Martand becomes Markand
The boy’s father had a fancy for Deccani names and the boy was named Martand’. (Martand is a Sanskrit word meaning Sun God) As, however, the boy grew there was something so catching in him as “simplicity, truthfulness, desire-less-ness, dispassion, austerity, service rendering, love etc.” as the following incidents throw light upon, that his associates and friends in the neighborhood endearingly gave him the sobriquet of ‘Markand’ after the ancient sage Markandeya.
The Divine Child
Markand had no knowledge or experience of the ways of other boys of his age. Even a child could deceive him. He was credulous to the extreme and would believe whatever anybody told him. The boy had no fondness for games. He never played any outdoor games. He never moved or mixed with other boys freely except in school premises. Being of a reserved disposition and fond of solitude, he would go to an entirely unfrequented roadway, sit on a parapet and think in his small way about whatever he had heard or conceived regarding God and religion. From there he would go to the Amba Mata Temple close to his house in Petlad. He would spend an hour in the temple striking cymbals, go home, take food, lie down on the terrace looking at the stars and moon, sleep very late, get up late and go to school. He had one determination. The day he missed the Arti he would punish himself with fasting that night. He spent long hours, often from 6 p.m. to 2 a.m. in thinking about the mysteries of the world, occult powers, godliness etc. in his very limited way. He was choked with perplexities. He asked himself : Does God exist? He would shout in solitude “Mother, tell me dost Thou exist or not?”. During his daily worship, he used to say “Mother, once let me know whether you exist or not. Once I have that key, I will open out a golden mine of secrets about the running of the universe”.
The Child Prophet
Even as a boy of eight, Markand possessed extraordinary powers of an occult nature. The accuracy of his predictions were phenomenal. The neighbouring women and elderly relatives would gather around him and ask him questions. One would ask “Markand Muni” will my daughter get a husband? Another would ask “Markand Rishi” would my husband return this week ? A third would want to know whether a boy or a girl child would be born to her pregnant daughter. So on and so forth. The boy’s answers invariably came true. One correct prediction may be explained away as mere chance. A second one may be ascribed to coincidence. But a dozen or more correct predictions in a row can only be the result of some uncanny ability, divine aid, an exceptional occult power to peep into the future or what have you.
The boy was admitted into the S. V. School at Petlad. Once in Petlad, the rains overdue and there was a fear of famine. One afternoon at about 3 p.m. he told his mother and every one “tomorrow there is going to be heaviest rain; either purchase a small umbrella for me or don’t mind my not going to school. None took him seriously. The sky was clear the next morning, but the boy refused to go to school if he was not given an umbrella, which was not easily available at Petlad at that time. However, the boy was sent to school without an umbrella in spite of protestations. By afternoon however, most unexpectedly storm clouds began to gather in the sky which was soon overcast by a large cumulus of dark cloud. Down came a heavy shower of rain when Markand was on his way home from school. Prabhalakshmi Devi felt very anxious for her child. How was she to know that there would be rain that afternoon. Well, the boy reached home drenched to the skin and chilled to the bone. The mother with tears cascading down her cheeks gathered the wet boy to her bosom with words of solace. He caught a severe cold and a slight fever. Everybody praised him for his uncanny prediction and began to shower praises “He is really the incarnation of “Markandeya Rishi”. The old name Martand vanished into the limbo of forgotten things as the name struck and even in official records the name became Markand. For all purposes, official or otherwise, he became known as Markand Ratanlal Dholakia. (In 1932 when Universal Mai-ism was declared by him, the appellation was augmented to Mai Swarup Mai Markand).
Once near Jogeswari temple a marriage-procession was passing. A rich well-clad elderly lady was carrying a large silver tray containing beautifully prepared pan-beedas. Young Markand broke into the procession and picked up a beeda and stood by side of the road. There was great shouting; the procession broke: all came running to enquire what the matter was. Some ladies said that a fellow (pointing to Markand) picked up a paan beeda. All gathered around Markand. Some began to scold; some said it was only a ‘boyish prank’, some said he had no business to enter the procession. One aristocratic lady realized that the boy who took the pan-beeda was not really a mischievous boy and gently asked him why he had done so, and offered him a few more if he wanted. Markand replied: “I am not a vagrant boy. I do not want to eat the pan-beeda. I was going to Jogeswari Mata and your pan-beeda created a desire how happy will Mother be if such a good one is offered to Her ? So I picked up one; and I am not a thief. Just see I have put coins there for the beeda. They looked and found the coin in the tray. Then all began to wonder and murmur “What sort of a wonderful boy”.
The innumerable incidents in Mai-Swarupa’s life, undoubtedly, show that He was chosen by God-Mai-to receive special Grace, and to play an important role in the field on religion. A narration of these incidents, which cannot be avoided in a thesis like this, might well make a sceptical world to raise the eyebrows, as some of them would appear strange to a materialist. This is not the time, nor does the writer profess to possess adequate knowledge to go into a dissertation of the causes-noumenal, spiritual or metaphysical that explain the happenings to and around Saints. The lives of Zoroaster, Buddha, Christ, Mohammed, St. Francis of Assissi, Adisankara, Chaitanya, Ramakrishna and many other great souls are replete with incidents, that do not lend themselves to any logical explanation. Materialists and phenomenalists would do well to approach the matter with an open mind and a willing suspension of disbelief.
The boy Markand was of a religious turn of mind from the very beginning. He would spend much time in solitude and meditation. Apparently an introvert, he was very often absent minded and could not mix freely with his brothers and sisters Prabhalakshmi Devi used to chide him for behaving like an outsider in the family, full of courtesy and kindness, but with me real attachment or intimacy. When there was talk about worldly matters, the boy’s mind would be elsewhere. His father would question him to see if he had followed the discussion. He would simply say with a smile “Kachra Patti”, meaning that he did not want to turn his brain into a refuse box. He would seldom look into a mirror and was often shabby in appearance.
Two incidents occurred during Mai-Swarup’s boyhood which showed in no uncertain manner that Markand was no ordinary boy and that, no matter what the odds were, he would always escape physical assault. One such took place in 1897 and the other in 1900.
One evening, the twelve-year-old Markand was returning home from a place of solitude, where it was his wont to go for meditation. Two robbers, who had studied the boy’s habits, had hid themselves in a convenient place, with the nefarious plan of kidnapping the boy at a deserted place which he would have to pass. However, as they rose from their place of concealment, they were amazed to see a tall strong woman of awesome aspect walking behind the boy. Presumably, the miscreants thought the new-comer was a kindred soul and had thought out her plan of carrying off the lad. They followed the woman. For a few furlongs the procession went on the lad all the while quickening his steps to avoid capture. When Markand reached the outskirts of his village the woman suddenly disappeared and the robbers were obliged to retreat, as the place was no longer safe for their exploits.
The Dog-Cart topples down
The next incident was in 1900. Markand was fifteen. The scene was a crowded street in Ahmedabad. An Englishman driving a dog-cart found the absent-minded boy standing in the way. When his warning-shout went unheeded, he raised his whip with all the arrogance of the white man of the day. Pedestrians stood nonplussed, frightened at the impending tragedy. Things were moving too fast for them to do anything. Down came the whiplash with the merciless force of an irate mind and a hefty hand, aimed at an all too unsuspecting teenager. But inscrutable are the ways of Mai, who intervened in the last split-second. The lash missed the boy, and girdled round the horse, which fell down upsetting the dogcart. The boy suddenly woke up as if he had been in a trance, took in the whole scene at a glance, got frightened and ran to the Kali temple nearby.
That night Markand had a dream in which not only the incident of the dogcart was repeated but he held a conversation with Mother.
Some experiments and experiences
Early marriage was the order of the day in Gujarat as well as in other parts of the country. No law curtailed the unfettered freedom parents had in choosing a spouse for their child. So Sri Ratanlal Dholakia celebrated the marriage of his son Markand in 1902 in accordance with the prevailing custom. The bride was Dinvant Behen, daughter of Sri Magan Bhai and Smt. Atuba Behen.
Self – discipline
The boy Markand was a Saint in embryo. Even as a teenager he practised penance, standing neck-deep in the sacred waters of the Narmada. He evolved his own rules of ethology
While he was a student at Poona, He used to prepare Hic own food which was simple one. His friends used to call him “Dashmiwalla’.
Markand took up the practice of suppressing his ego. Once in 1903, he dressed himself in rags and went round a crowded street sitting in a dirty cart, inviting ridicule and insult. He also practiced sitting in torn clothes for one hour on certain nights. like a beggar, spreading a piece of cloth before him in the most turbulent place – Keshapeth near Ganpathi temple. His friends used to laugh at Him. That was His way of training Himself to be humble without caring for public applause. He often slept on the otta of temples and masjids. He would be praying ‘O Mother remove my swollen-headed T.
Markand was getting just enough money from his father, just enough money to meet the expenses. Still He distributed among the needy a fair portion of the money with the result that He had to go hungry on some days. He thought he should get beyond the sorrow of losing money. When He got this mania, he would take whatever money He had, say 10 or 15 rupees, change them into annas and would distribute them away and return home with but a few annas worth of eatables and sleep half hungry. He was not rich. Once, he got the idea that his mind perhaps was not inclined with the loss of money because there might be hidden satisfaction of having done a charitable act by distributing the coins. When thought arose he began to throw the money into the river from Dagai Pool. He was analyzing, watching and developing his mind to move in a particular avenue of thinking. It was not a rich man’s fancy and plays. The monthly income from his father was a limited small sum. For all such charities and throwing money into the river, he had to actually dispense with the services of maid-servant and he himself used to cleanse vessels and fetch water at night from the nearest houses for months together.
During this treatment of the mind Markand used to ask himself – “Who are you? So many millions live their life without any money”. He taught himself to take misfortunes cool-mindedly. That teaching stood him in good stead when in later years the house he had built from his own earnings collapsed in the floods which devastated Gujarat in 1927. He took it as Mother’s Divine Will.
The practice of wrenching out his mind in the midst of enjoyment became second nature to him. He would sometimes go to a theatre and return without getting in. Once there was a nice Jalsa (Function). After entering the hall, He returned before the first song was over and gave his ticket to the first man he met. In fact it was a great music performance and when someone asked him “why he came away”, “wasn’t the song good”? he replied: “it was too good, too enchanting and so I came away”. He continued to oppose his mind in the midst of its enjoyment till he obtained complete mastery over the mind. When the mind said.” the climate is beautiful; let us go to the Bund Garden”, he would at once go to the dirtiest part of the city. When the mind wanted to enjoy a good feast, he would decide to fast the whole day. He became an enemy of the mind. Once someone presented him with a nice coat. The mind was very much pleased with the gift. Markand gave it away to another. If the mind preferred to go in the west, he would immediately begin walking towards the east. This sort of constant inconsistency made people think he was a chakram, a whimsical fellow. He was all the while practicing against his mind’s aspirations.
Markand adopted the practice of not contradicting any accusation made against him. He was training himself to control his temper and also learn to bear public ridicule. He would keer silent whenever a fault was attributed to him. One of his friends warned him that such an attitude would lose him in the eyes of the public because silence would be taken as an admission of guilt. Markand would promptly answer: What do I care for the eyes of the public ? I care only for a pair of bewitching eyes”. This was misinterpreted by his college friends that he was referring to the eyes of a girl friend of whom he had become very fond. None knew that he was having in mind the wonderfully merciful eyes of his dear Mataji.
Markand began to keep a diary wherein he would write down his good and bad points and give marks against each characteristic. This he did for six months. He was definitely of the opinion that before launching into life he must have obtained at least pass marks efficiency regarding his virtues.
At the age of eighteen, he joined the engineering college at Poona and occupied a room in the students’ quarters attached to the college. His room-mate was a short-tempered fastidious youth who brooked no interference with his tastes and comforts. Each had his own separate dress rack. The friend strongly resented the careless way Markand Bhai had of hanging his clothes indiscriminately on either rack. The youth warned his absent-minded companion of dire consequences if he did not desist from his acts of trespass. One day the offence was repeated; Markand Bhai hung his soiled clothes on the forbidden peg. Thereupon the other flew into a rage and threw the offending clothes out of the window into the gutter. Then, with an ominous look on his face, with feet firmly planted on the floor and with arms akimbo, he awaited developments, spoiling for a fight and quite prepared for any onslaught, verbal or physical. However, Markand Bhai was not provoked into doing anything in retaliation He only smiled and producing a packet of biscuits, invited the seething youth to share it with him. Anger often begets anger; a gesture of peace invariably engenders peace. The tempestuous youth came down like a pricked balloon. In a mollified and chastened frame of mind, he offered to go out and bring back the clothes from the gutter. That would have humiliated him in front of other students who had by that time gathered outside the room. Markand Bhai gently shook his head and spoke. “Don’t bother, let them go, I have enough spare clothes. They are not new”.
To the future Saint this was a self-imposed practical lesson in self-control. Many years later Mai-Swarupa wrote in ‘Mai-ism’ – which is His Magnum opus:- “ Don’t work in a desultory unsystematic manner. You make up a point, say, you want to master your wrathfulness. Let there be a definite program, say, for such and such a period.” I will not simply curb my wrathfulness but invite and create occasions when people would provoke me to wrathfulness.”
Within the city of Poona, very near the students’ quarters attached to the engineering college, there are what are known as Pathaleswara Caves or Panchaleswara Caves. They were hewn out of huge granite rock by some enterprising people in the distant past. Even today the caves attract tourists. In the central cave there is an idol of Lord Shiva. So Markand Bhai preferred to call them Mahadev caves and Mahadev Temple. He would go into the caves of a moonlit night to enjoy solitude far from the madding crowd. He would occasionally croon a religious song. One of his favorite songs of the time meant: “Why should I carry my sins and my merits? God’s mercy is enough for me” This lofty sentiment in a young man of twenty living in the midst of sophisticated modernity, clearly foreshadowed the shape of things to come.
The Mysterious loan
One night at 9 o’clock Markand Bhai suddenly realized he had no money to pay the college fees due on the following day. The usual Money Order from his father had not come yet. He prayed to Mataji for help. In the short period of two hours there was a heap of Rs. 800/- on his table. There was a scare that some robbers were hiding on the railway track nearby biding their time to raid and loot the students’ quarters that night. The students vied with one another in taking their cash to Markand Bhai for safe keeping. They somehow thought that their money would be safe in his hands, robbers or no robbers. The actual requirement was a temporary loan of Rs.63/-.
Saved from arrest and detention
Markand Bhai had gone to the Railway Station at Poona one afternoon. Unknown to him a detective officer was looking at him and comparing his features with those of a photograph he had taken from his pocket. After some time the officer made up his mind, and pounced upon the unsuspecting student. The officer was certain that the boy, whom he was arresting was the seditious youth of Bengal, whose photograph he had with him. Protestations of innocence by the arrested student were of no avail. All persons when arrested would plead innocence. Dazed and helpless the student offered a fervent silent prayer to his favorite deity Mataji. He was about to be removed in the police car when another car came and stopped near the detective. Out of the new car stepped, none other than the principal of Engineering College, who identified the student properly and to the entire satisfaction of the police officer.
Question Paper revealed in dream
Markand Bhai usually spent more time in meditation and reading religious books than in reading his text books. He was Therefore in a panic when the examination was about to begin. However, to his great relief, questions and answers were dictated to him by Mataji in a dream.
Late at examination
One day during examination, Markand Bhai was in an unusually devotional mood and could not compose himself in time. He was forty minutes late when he reached the examination hall. But that day the examiner with the question papers was also late. In fact the examiner arrived only after the late-comer had taken his seat in the hall !! Call it luck, call it chance, call it coincidence, call it what you will; to Markand Bhai and his friends who had been anxiously waiting for him, the late arrival of the examiner was nothing but Divine Intervention.
At the age of twenty-two, Markand Dholakia had a bitter experience. He happened to read Yoga Vasishtam and books on Vedanta philosophy, and became obsessed with the doctrine of “Aham Brahma Asmi”. Intoxicated by the theory of Adwaita and Maya, his intellect became clouded and he began to believe that he had till then been in a delusion in depending on Mataji, Sapta-sati and prayers for his religious progress. In a fit of reckless abandon, he threw away his worshipping materials, the deity’s picture, Sapta-sati, vessels and wooden seat into Mula-Mutha Sangham-the confluence of the rivers Mula and Mutha (in Poona) near his residence. Soon thereafter he left for Petlad, his native place.
Then came the reaction. Everything seemed to go wrong.
The young student of Adwaita doctrine felt he was retrogressing mentally and spiritually. The habits he had cultivated, the powers he had acquired, the instincts he had developed, the occult force he was storing up, – all these were blown off like strands of straw in a storm. He had no emotional effusions, no happy meditation, no religious fervor. It looked as if his good character, sense of values, morality and goodness would also leave him. He began to realize the magnitude of his ingratitude to Mother. who had helped him times without numbers.
To avoid misunderstanding, it has to be stated, parenthetically, that Mai-Swarupa was not opposed to Adwaita philosophy. To quote the Founder’s words,”Adwaitism is a stage of consciousness which is superior to Dwaitism, but is no independent path by itself. It is a description of a certain consciousness and not a self-contained prescription to reach that stage. Although the supremacy of “l am God” is not denied, the world would be happier by being taught “Thou art God”.
One day at Petlad, young Markand tore off his garments and sacred thread, threw them in the street and ran away from home with a grim determination to mend or end his life. His parents saw him running. Sri Ratanlal ran after him and Smt. Prabhalaksmi Devi ran after her husband. The boy was caught and brought back home. He was confined within a room for some days. His mother extracted a promise from him that he would never become a Sannyasin. When he became normal, he was sent back to Poona to resume his studies.
However, the bitter memory of what he had done some weeks before, his forswearing Mother who had always helped him, still rankled in his mind. He could not get any peace of mind, and he very much wanted Mother to take him back. Not knowing how proceed to achieve that end, he decided to drown himself in the very river, where he had discarded his worshipping materials several weeks before.
Sangam bridge, appropriately so called, spans the rivers Mula and Mutha at their Sangam or confluence. Some twenty meters away from the bridge, a narrow footpath forks off the road and slopes down to the stream. Whether the bridge was there in 1907 either in its present form or in any other form, it is not possible to say. But the sloping footpath was there, and continues to be there, hedged on either side by an occasional bush, its sandy surface apt to shimmer in sunlight and glimmer in moonlight. The place where the footpath touches the stream is sacred to Mai-ists; it was there that the Revered Master had His first Darshan of the Divine Mother.
The stage is set. The night is dark. The road is deserted. The nocturnal birds and insects are strangely silent. The muted rumble of a receding bullock cart fades away in the distance. There is not a breath of wind. Not a leaf stirs on the trees on the boulevard. The stars have hid themselves behind a wide stratus of cloud. All nature stands still in breathless anticipation of impending tragedy.
Of a sudden there is movement. A quick patter of sprinting feet on the footpath. A headlong plunge into the swirling waters. A mad rush into eternity. Oh! What a scene!!
Oh! What a scene!! The whole place is lit up unaccountably by a transcendental effulgence. The rushing body with all its momentum goes straight into the center of the radiance and stops-caught in the trans-heavenly Embrace of Divine Mother– Mother with the luster of a thousand rising suns-Udyat-Bhanu Sahasrabha.
Bhaktajanani (Devotee’s Mother) placed Her son on dry land, save a brief assurance that She did not and would not ever disown him, warned him against repetition of such foolish actions and disappeared.
All this happened in a few seconds. Young Markand whose mind had been in a turmoil when he made the impetuous into the river, had a hazy notion of a fleeting Vision. He fully knew Mother had saved him, but what really happened was beyond his recall.
A word about visions may not be out of place here. Several years after the incident narrated above, Revered Mai’s Mercy Mai Swarupa had occasion to write in detail about Visions. They are of several kinds. (He has listed nine). Sometimes wishful thinking would cause a Vision. Another instance is the appearance of a Vision as a result of concentrated meditation; a third variety is Vision caused by mischievous spirits to lead an aspirant astray. Very rarely does a person get a true Vision. The nature of the Vision depends on the stage the aspirant has reached. One test to decide the nature of a Vision is to see what takes place afterwards and how it has affected the recipient’s mind. It would be a mistake to feel satisfied on seeing a Vision.
On his way back to his room in a chastened mood, Markand began to doubt the authenticity of his experience in the river. He began to think that he had imagined he was caught by Mother, that the whole incident was a hallucination, a creature of his feverish imagination. However, Mother knew Her son would have doubts, and had prepared convincing proofs. On entering his room what did he see but the picture of Mother, the Sapta-sani, the wooden seat, the vessels and all the worshipping material he had thrown into the river more than six weeks before!
Revered Mai-Swarupa used to refer to this as His HIV Initiation”. From that moment he permanently linked himself to Mother. Jai Mai.
Mai-Swarupa and the Engine
In biographical writings, the chronological narration of events is, as a rule, proper, necessary and useful. Sometimes, however, judicious grouping of similar incidents, without regard to the length of time separating them, would be more appropriate. Such treatment would help the readers get the proper perspective. To elucidate the point, Mai-Swarupa’s uncanny experiences with trains and motor vehicles-in 1912,1933,1945. 1954 and 1962, to mention a few, would naturally fall into one group.
Similarly, the various occasions of the Saint’s association, direct as well as indirect, with Samarth Sai Baba of Shirdi, deserve integration. Maiji and the Occult, Maiji and the Antisocial Elements, Sisters’ Socials and Mai Convocations are other examples.
Trains and motor vehicles often displayed a sort of subtle intelligence and behaved like sentient beings to accommodate and serve Mai-Swarupa ! A few instances are narrated below.
1912: Trains wait for Maiji
Once, during his final year in the Engineering College, Markand Bhai and his class-mates, accompanied by a professor, were camping at Agra, waiting for the special train that had been arranged for the students’ geological excursion. The train was due only after an hour. Markand Bhai was eager to make good use of the available hour by paying a flying visit to the temple at Mathura which was but a few stations away from Agra. The fact that the train to Mathura had already left did not diminish his ardor. With two friends he went to the nearest station only to find that the train had left that place. Without the slightest hesitation they went to the next station with no bene! luck. What was worse, the railway staff laughed at their folly and ridiculed the unheard-of attempt to chase a train. Thereupon one of the trio left and returned to Agra. Nothing daunted : Markona Bhai hurried with the remaining friend to the third station There the train had developed some disorder in the mechanism and lay immobile. Tickets were bought, without heeding the well- meant advice of the station master who, naturally, thought the train would not run at all that day. As soon as the new arrivals took their seats in the train the engine corrected itself.
The joy of having had the Darshan of Lord Krishna at Mathura, however, was short-lived. A fresh trouble reared its head. The allotted hour had been exceeded. What would happen if, by the time they got back to Agra, the special train had left with the other students ? The thought was highly disconcerting. The adventurous pair would have a hard time explaining their absence, and they might even be punished for their vagrancy. But no. They did not miss the train. The special train could not (would not?) be ready till Markand Bhai and his friend returned to Agra.
Bus obeys Maiji
Maiji was Land Acquisition Officer at Belgaum in 1933. He was travelling by bus one evening from Belgaum to Nipani. The bus had many stops on the way. Near one of the stops was a florist with a large stock of fresh jasmine flowers. Maiji felt a keen desire to buy some for the evening worship. But there was no time; the bus had started to move. His earnest request for a short halt went unheeded. To the driver’s way of thinking, if every passenger were allowed to do his shopping at bus-stops, the vehicle could not be run to schedule. How was he to know that the request had come from no ordinary passenger? The vehicle, however, seemed to sense the importance of the demand and its maker. It stopped after a few furlongs and would not move.
The driver could not locate the trouble in the engine. His best efforts to start the bus failed. The passengers were getting impatient. Then Maiji boldly offered to set right the bus by prayer if the driver would promise to take the bus back a few furlongs to enable him to buy flowers. Naturally enough, few among the passengers took the words seriously. Some were indifferent. Some were contemptuous, some were mildly curious, and others were skeptical. Maiji repeated His offer and added that he was no ordinary devotee and that Mother would certainly answer his prayer. His voice had the timbre of self-assurance. Hearing his tone of quiet authority, some passengers began to have second thoughts. Why not give the offer a trial? Anyway, what have we to lose? In the unlikely event of the promised miracle happening, all could reach home without further loss of time. They talked to the driver who, willy-nilly, gave the required promise. Thereupon Maiji said aloud: “Mother, see, see, the driver has agreed to go back. Don’t you want to be worshipped with beautiful jasmine flowers? I will buy the whole basket. I will worship Thee as soon as I reach Camp. It is getting late. Now don’t make delay.” Having spoken thus, Maiji asked the driver to start the bus.
With the patronizing air of a worldly-wise man humoring a half-wit, the driver takes his seat and with elaborate unconcern, puts the gear in neutral, switches the motor on and pulls the starter. Lo and behold! The engine comes to life and purrs! Astonishment, mingled with relief, is on every passenger’s face. The driver is dumbfounded. Unable to believe his senses, he shakes his head in dazed disbelief. The sudden transmutation of the dead engine into a live vibrating one, by mere words is beyond his comprehension. He feels humbled and by sheer face of habit, takes the steering wheel in his hand, slowly releases the clutch and gently presses the accelerator. The vehicle begins to move amidst shouts of joy. Maiji gets his flowers and everybody is happy.
Accident to offending relative’s car
Mai-Swarupa was in Ahmedabad for a short time in 1945 and was staying with some relatives who did not like devotional out-pouring. One morning, an elder relative on the wrong side of the bed called Maiji a madman and before going to the office in his car gave directions to have the man locked up. The saint was stung to the quick. The incident had strange sequel. The car, a fairly new one and in good condition broke down twice that day. The owner attributed the mishap to his high-handed action against a pious man. He began to repent He had no peace of mind until, reaching home in the evening in a borrowed car, he apologized to Maiji.
Calicut 1954: Never too late
The third “Sisters Social” was held at Calicut in 1954. After completing His programme, Maiji was preparing to return to Bombay. It was the day of departure. His luggage had been sent to the Railway Station. A car was ready at the gate to take him. A few minutes remained for the train to start. Just at that time, some girl devotees approached Maiji and asked how a particular hymn was to be sung. Most obligingly, Maiji began to sing; and he explained to the devotees the details of the rhythm, symphony and cadence. He was oblivious of the passage of time and the frantic appeals of the devotee in charge of the tour had no effect. Maiji was naturally very late at the station. But so was the train!
Moving train stops for Maiji
It was 8 p.m. on the 17th of October 1962. The Cochin Express rolled into Olavakkode Junction on the Southern Railway. Prayerful cries of ‘Jai Mai Jai Markand Mai’ filled the air. Mai Swarupa was in the train returning to Bombay after the Convocation at Ernakulam. When the train stopped, the devotees, in one after another entered the sacred compartment to touch the Master’s Feet
The whole place was crowded. Passengers jost one another in their hurry to get in and out of the train. Hawkers plied their trade noisily announcing their wares. The compartment occupied by the Saint was comparatively quiet. Maiji graciously greeted and blessed the disciples. During the happy exchanges, He happened to mention-to no one in particular-that He needed some soda water for use later in the night. But in the hurry-scurry of greetings, salutations and farewells, nobody gave the matter a thought until, when the train had begun to move, a lady devotee cried out that they had not bought “soda” for Maiji. Everyone was dismayed. Was there anything one could do? As it happened, there was. After going a dozen yards, the train came to a stop, and strangely enough, there was a soda water vendor, right in front of Maiji’s compartment. A devotee at once rushed to him, told him to place all his stock in Maiji’s room, promising to pay enough and more for his property and trouble. It took nine seconds to complete the transaction and in another second the train was on the move again.
Inscrutable are the ways of MAI, who in Her Leela always satisfied the smallest whim of Her pet son Mai-Swarupa.
Maiji and the Occult
Occult phenomena played a remarkable role in Saint Maiwarupa’s life. He himself had large reserves of Supernatural Power and he tried to keep in touch with other known occultists. on the book-shelves in Mai-Niwas is a copy of “The Manhood of Jesus’ by Geraldine Cummins. The flyleaf of the book bears the writing “To my Revered Friend Mai-Swarupa Mai Markand, from Geraldine Cummins, Woodville, Glanmire P. O. Cork Eire”. -Miss Cummins is one of the greatest occultists of the day.
Sometimes, Maiji had vicarious experience in the field when persons with highly developed extra-sensory powers came into contact with Him. Occultism was, however, never considered by Him as of any real importance.
The term Occult is of very wide import and includes, apport, automatic writing, clair-audience, clairvoyance, dreams about events before they happen, hypnotism, levitation, magic. mediumism, psychometry, spirit-communion, subliminal consciousness, et cetera. Maiji had occasion to experience many of these. It should be borne in mind however, that the Saint’s dealings and experiences vis-a-vis the Universal Mother Mai were outside the realm of Supernatural happenings. The former are a result of God-Realization, while the latter are, perhaps, a step towards the same end. It would be quite wrong to call the River Initiation described in Chapter IV as a mere supra-terrestrial phenomenon.
To recount all the supra-mundane experiences of Maiji would be an impossible task. A few are given below, reserving a few others for mention in other chapters in more appropriate contexts.
The Sleepless Youth
A young man named Maruthi had tried to propitiate and master an evil spirit. He had, by rigid observances, gained some amount of mastery over it, but something had gone wrong in the process with the result that the spirit began to harass him at every turn. Maruthi could not sleep at all for fear that the spirit would destroy him during sleep. The goblin must have been trying to get free of the shackles of Maruthi’s hold on it. The young man was afraid of being hoist with his own petard. By remaining awake and using the little power he had acquired, he could avert Frankenstein’s monster. But how long could the vigil continue? In despair, he went to the students’ quarters, attached to the Engineering College, Poona, where he had been told, resided an exceptionally great devotee by name Markand Dholakia.
Maruthi sought out the devotee, and humbly begged for permission to sleep in a corner of his room. On being informed of the circumstances that had led to the strange request, Markand Bhai decided to test the man’s veracity. The visitor was asked
find out the whereabouts of a key that had been missing for some days. Maruthi immediately began to mumble some words wringing his hands the while. In a short time he gave the answer that the key was at the bottom of the river nearby. On being asked to retrieve the key, the visitor once again went through the process of mumbling and hand-wringing and the key fell out of his hands.
Markand Bhai was a regular subscriber to Vijaya; a magazine published from Ahmedabad. Of late, copies of the periodical were missing from the tray wherein all letters addressed to students used to be placed. He had wondered what was happening to them. Now he asked Maruthi about the disappearing magazines. The latter had recourse to his modus operandi, and after a little time stated that the magazines had been secretly removed by another student, who had scribbled his name on them. He maintained that disclosure of the culprit’s name would lead to bad blood. Markand Bhai insisted that the names should be removed and the periodicals returned to him. They were so returned.
Maruthi had a sound sleep that night unhampered by the unwelcome though invisible presence of the spirit.
In an earlier chapter have been described the arrest of Markand Bhai by the Police, who had mistaken him for a seditious youth of Bengal and his release on identification by the principal of his college, who arrived in the nick of time. After the rescue, Markand Bhai returned to the students’ quarters where another mystery awaited him. He saw his intimate friend Kantawalla madly rushing out of the building, in undignified dishabille, with hair unkempt and tousled, eyes dilated in horror. and face suffused with perplexity and concern. On seeing Markand Bhai, the rushing youth stopped dead, rubbed his eyes in disbelief, waited long enough to get his breath and spluttered “You! How did you escape? Have you run away from the police?” It was Markand Bhai’s turn to look aghast in disbelief. “What are you talking about?” he countered; “What do you know about the police? What Police?”. Heaving a great sigh of relief Kantawalla narrated the vivid dream he had that afternoon in which he clearly saw the police actually escorting his friend to their car. “Suddenly I woke up,” he concluded, ” I felt I must do something and rushed out. Probably I would have gone to the Police station.” Markand Bhai confirmed his dream and added that but for the opportune arrival of the principal to identify him he would have been locked up. Kantawalla all but shouted “Principal! Don’t pull my leg. Principal! indeed! He is not in Poona. He left this morning. I know it.” Markand Bhai was amazed at the information. “I see,” was all he said.
The hysterical woman
In the year 1914, Markand Dholakia was serving as Land Acquisition Officer in Poona. One day a woman suffering from violent hysteria was brought to him by her husband with a request for a speedy cure. Markand Bhai protested his inability to do anything in the matter. He honestly believed that he could not help the poor woman in any way. The more he protested, the greater became the importunate entreaties of the woman’s husband. At last, to get rid of the visitors by convincing them of his inability to do anything, he placed his Sapta- Shathi on the head of the patient murmuring a prayer. Wonder of wonders! The woman suddenly became quite normal. The young Officer was perhaps more astonished at the result than his visitors.
Mrs. Thanawalla’s dream
About a couple of years before the declaration of Mai-ism, the Founder was living in Poona in a house owned by Mrs. Thanawalla. The lady was a good clairvoyant. One evening, she told her tenant that he would be called very early the next morning, and that he had better get enough sleep by retiring earlier than his accustomed hour. Markand Bhai thought that the lady was mentally unbalanced. Seeing the expression on his face, the lady began to give details. She said the local president of the Theosophical Society would wake him up in the morning and request him to accompany the caller to the Railway Station to receive a lady. She mentioned the colour of the sari and described the necklace the said lady in the train would be wearing. Asked how she knew all that, Mrs. Thanawalla said she had actually seen the whole thing. Everything happened as she said. The visiting Lady was Rukmini Arundale.
Mai Baba and Sai Baba
Markand Ratanlal Dholakia took his diploma (L.C.E.) from the Engineering College, Poona, and entered service in 1913. He served, mostly as Land Acquisition Officer, in many places – Ahmedabad, Baroda, Barsi, Belgaum, Bombay, Dharwar, Hubli, Kopargaon, Nasik, Poona, Surat, – till his retirement in August 1945.For a short time, probably during a break in service, he was an honorary teacher in Alegoankar High School.
One of his earliest experiences in the field of religion after he became an officer was his meeting with Samarth Sai Baba.
Sai Baba refuses to grant Diksha
While he was working in Prevare Canals in Kopergoan in 1913, Markand Bhai felt a keen desire to meet Sai Baba. Shirdi was not far off. So, one day he went there. There was the usual gathering of devotees in the Ashram, and the young officer had to wait for some time. When at last his turn came, he prostrated before the great man and requested for initiation. But the saint of Shirdi, who could easily foresee the future, shook his head and said “You have yourself to do a different kind of religious work. You cannot be given Diksha.”
Saint Hare Ram
Years later, in 1930 when Markand Bhai was officially touring through Alibag District, he happened to hear about Saint Hare Ram living on a hill-top in the village of Cahul. He at once proceeded to see the saint. But as the hill was rather steep, he felt exhausted on climbing part of it and could not proceed further. He, therefore, decided to take a rest and asked his draftsman Kawli to go up and meet the saint. The draftsman climbed to the summit of the hill and approached the Ashram. It was Hare Ram who spoke first. Before Kawli could open his mouth, the saint asked him:“ Where is your Maharaj? Go and tell him if he can’t climb up, I will go down to him “(It should be noted that Markand Bhai had not yet attained Sainthood and was in western dress, besides. Still, he was mentioned as Maharaj, a term applied to saints and other exalted persons). On hearing the draftsman’s report of what had transpired up the hill, the young officer was, to say the least, astounded. How was it possible? What could Saint Hare Ram possibly know about him? Furthermore, the saint had not yet seen him. The mystery intrigued him. He had some rest and decided to go up, if only to find out about the uncanny message brought by his draftsman. His wonder grew when Hare Ram greeted him very warmly in much the same way as one would welcome a classmate. In answer to the visitor’s question, the saint said they had been co-disciples since 1913. and went on to describe the interview Markand Bhai had with Sai Baba mentioned in the foregoing paragraph.
Mai-ism was declared in 1932, and thereafter the Founder came to be known as Maiji, Mai Baba, Mai Kaka and Mai Swarupa. A few incidents in which the two Babas were associated require mention.
Sai Baba Attends Mai Worship
Maiji was Land Acquisition Officer in Poona in 1936. Regular Mai worship was done every Friday at His residence, 48 Nyahalpeth. Many devotees from Kirkee used to walk to Poona and back for participating in the worship. The function was at night, and the devotees had to walk back to Poona and back for participating in the worship. The function was at night, and the devotees had to walk back to Poona often at the midnight-hour on Fridays. Once, there was a strong rumor that some robbers were operating on the Poona-Kirkee Road. The devotees from Kirkee were obliged to take a decision to stop going to Poona. The very night the decision was made, a young devotee was returning to Kirkee. It happened that he was alone, other devotees having left earlier. At a deserted place on the road, he was accosted by an old man, who asked him where he was going and where he was coming from. With an assumed air of nonchalance, the young man stated he was returning from Maiji’s place, and would have passed on, but the old gentleman stopped and said: “Yes, I know. I am also coming from there. Every Friday I too attend Mai worship.
From simple causes spring momentous events. The old man’s words, simple in themselves, created an emotional upheaval in the Mai devotee’s mind. Thoughts and questions flitted through his brain in tempestuous succession. “Returning from Maiji’s place, is he? Attends Mai worship every Friday, does he? Impossible. I never saw him. Perhaps the poor man is not all there. Or can it be… Oh ! Merciful Mother Mai! can it be that this inoffensive-looking man is a robber in disguise? Or can it be that he has been sent as a decoy by robbers lurking in the encircling darkness to trap unsuspecting wayfarers?” “These thoughts engendered panic in the man. And no wonder. The place was deserted. The time was about midnight. There was the talk about robbers. And here was an old man making fantastic statements. The very air seemed eerie to the devotee. He shook with fright. His hair stood on end. Beads of sweat formed on his forehead. He had a haunted look. In utter consternation, he uttered, involuntarily though, the one word that was uppermost in his mind : ‘Robbers’. As if he had been waiting for his cue, the venerable Methuselah answered quickly: “Have no fear. No harm shall come to any devotee. I will be here to protect you.” With these words he departed, leaving on the lonely road, a very mystified young man who heaved a sigh of relief and proceeded homewards without stopping to think how an old decrepit man was going to foil a gang of robbers.
At home, in the small hours of the morning, the Mai-ist related his weird experience on the road, to an excited group of hearers. His brother-in-law, an ardent devotee of Sai Baba, asked him to describe the old man. The night had been dark, and his mind had not been normal. Still, providentially enough, his subconscious mind had registered some peculiarities about the stranger. Stroking his chin, with a faraway look on his face, he began to say haltingly:” His white beard was trimmed short; he was barefooted; his dress though clean was crinkly and rugose, as though the wearer was indifferent about his appearance; the top front of his shirt was open”. When he stopped for a while, the brother-in-law prompted him with the question: “What about his head?” “What about the head?” repeated the Mai devotee.”I think the head was covered with a cloth knotted behind at the nape”. he continued,”and that the cloth covered the stranger’s forehead completely.” The Sai devotee at once, folded his hands in reverence and said ” You are indeed lucky. The stranger was none other than the great Sai Baba. He often appears to the devotee who is in distress. He made you remember the details about Himself, the other gratefully nodded and answered : “ All Mai Maiji’s Blessings”.
Sai aur Mai Ek Hai
At the time of the incident described, the head of the Sai Institute in Poona was one Ammal. Maiji and Ammal became acquainted and the latter invited Maiji to the Institute. Before a large gathering of devotees, pictures of Mai and Sai were worshipped. At the conclusion of the programme, there were prayerful cries of ‘Sai aur Mai eka hai’.
Sai Baba directs devotee to Maiji
In the year 1954, a Sai devotee of Calicut was suffering from a serious nervous disease. One night Sai Baba appeared in a dream and said “Santa Cruz, Santa Cruz, Santa Cruz, Mai will help.” The significance of the message was not clear at first to the stricken man. The message was repeated with greater insistence. Then the man realised that he was being asked to go to Mai-Niwas in Santa Cruz West, Bombay, But he did not have the wherewithal to go that far. Soon however, he heard that Maiji would be visiting Calicut within a few months. He hopefully waited for his opportunity and when it came, he went and prostrated before Maiji and related his difficulties and his experiences. Maiji blessed him and touched his head. The suffering was at an end from that day,
In 1913, the State of Baroda was in the throes of a severe famine. Unprecedented drought and consequent failure of crops ravaged the entire state. Poverty and disease were rampant. Death stalked the streets. A sense of gloom and despair pervaded the atmosphere. As is usual on such occasions, the people of the lower strata of society suffered most.
To give succor to the starving thousands, the government set up relief camps in various places. Men and women were given work of excavation. The State had no need for any excavation; but it was considered bad policy to dole out money freely. Each man and woman had to do a certain prescribed fixed quantity of digging to earn wages. The maximum wage was three annas (nineteen paise).
The Vicious Cycle Markand Bhai was a supervisor in one of the relief camps at Jalia. In about a week he realized that eighty persons in every hundred could not do the required amount of work. If payment was made strictly according to the work turned out, the poor men and women would not get enough for food. Want of enough food would weaken them with the result that the work turned out would be reduced still further. Less food meant more weakness, which produced less work, which earned lower wages resulting in still less work. This cycle was going on in most camps.
Duty to Man or Duty to State? Markand Bhai was moved with pity for the poor workers in his camp. But what could he do? On the one side, there was the duty to the State that employed him to dole out money in proportion to the work done. On the other the certainty that he was slowly driving the workers to death by starvation. In the conflict between the sense of duty and humanitarianism, the latter won. Measurements were very liberally made, and everyone got enough to keep body and soul together. But the books of account showing the amount of work and the sum of money paid out would not and could not tally. The shortage of work of 3000 persons gradually increased to alarming proportions. Somebody sent a complaint to head-quarters, and it was ordered that a sub-engineer should inspect the camp and check the excavation done with the money spent.
The supervisor felt sad. He left everything to Mother. If he were to be punished for helping Her children then he would gladly bear the punishment.
Maharani to the rescue
A few days before the arrival of the officer charged with the work of scrutinizing Markand Bhai’s accounts of money and measurements, the Maharani of the state paid a visit to the Relief Camps. Everywhere she found the camps had not succeeded in ameliorating the condition of the poor. But in Markand Bhai’s camp the story was different. There were fewer deaths, fewer cases of diseases. There was relatively better health among the workers. The laborer in that camp were almost joyful. The Maharani expressed her appreciation and complimented the supervisor on his work. She said: ” – I find that of all camps yours shows the best state of health among the workers. What do you want me to do for you? “These words need no solace for the supervisor. He feared that the state of his accounts was about to be exposed, and that he was likely to be reprimanded… so, with considerable trepidation he said, the poor workers in my camp are already grateful to your Highness.” The royal visitor did not understand what was meant but she sensed that the supervisor was trying to convey something to her. “Be Plain”, she said peremptorily. With a silent prayer to Mother, Markand Bhai said: “I have been very liberal in the matter of measurements,” Breathlessly he waited for Maharani’s reaction to his disclosure. It came soon enough, but not as the thunder bolt he had almost expected but as a sweet shower of ambrosia. She gave a smile of approbation and said graciously: “That ought to be so. You did right. After all, the whole scheme of the Relief Camps is to help the poor without making them idle.” To Markand Bhai, it appeared his SREE MATHA, his SREE MAHA RAJNEE had herself come down as the Maharani of Baroda to save him from the unpleasant enquiry that had been ordered.
Just at that time, the Chief Engineer and the Executive Engineer came to the camp, and saluted the Maharani. Her Highness told them how she had appreciated the work in that camp and how she wished that supervisors of other camps would do as Markand Bhai had done. The Chief Engineer knew well on which side his bread was buttered, and played up to Her Highness saying: “Your Highness, I have been constantly visiting the camps and I have always found this supervisor working satisfactorily. I have already recommended him for promotion.”
What a metamorphosis, thought Markand Bhai, in official outlook, what wonderful transmutation of persona non grata into persona grata.
Needless to say, that the order issued to a Sub-engineer to look into Markand Bhai’s accounts was revoked forthwith.
Recalling the above experience in later years, Saint Mai Swarupa said: Be serving Mother’s children; Mother will then be at your beck and call.
The Good Samaritan
And His Reward Kurduwadi Junction on the Central Railway, about a hundred and eighty-five kilometers from Poona, looked bleak and deserted that night of the winter of 1916. Neon lights had not yet made their appearance. The few gaslights on the plat-forms gently hissed out a modicum of light and warmth that only served to emphasize the general gloom and chill.
There was a faint odor of fresh paint. The General Manager was expected to inspect the station the following day. A good deal of tidying had been done. Cobwebby corners had been swept clean, the walls had been white-washed, even the pillars had a new coat of paint. But all that spruceness lay smothered in darkness. The destitute homeless beggars accustomed to spend the night in obscure corners of the station had been shooed out. Not even a stray dog was on the premises.
The next train being a long way off, the officials on duty had retired into the sanctuary of their offices. Nothing moved. The stillness and the silence were almost forbidding. The gentle hissing of the burning gas, the flapping of an occasional bat’s wings, the hoot of a distant owi, all served to make the prevailing silence eerie.
It was the small hours of the morning. A young handsome woman with a child in arms clasped to her bosom was huddled up on a bench within the circle of light shed by a gas lantern. No luggage, not even a small bag was with her. She was waiting for the Madras Mail. It was a long wait. The atmosphere was so cold, she was chilled to the marrow.
Two young railway employees who had casually strolled out of their cozy office room were agreeably surprised to see the fair passenger. Here, to their way of thinking, was a ready-made diversion from their drab routine, a god-sent escape from dull ennui. Keeping well out of the circle of light, they made a low guttural sound to make their presence known. Nothing happened. The woman did not even turn. She was as immobile as a figure carved out of stone. The youths were not discouraged. If she played possum, they would bring her to life. They whistled, they made osculatory noises and slowly but perceptibly reduced their distance from the woman. Still, she ignored them with the contempt they deserved. The mischievous pair thereupon, changed tactics and began to talk to each other in loud but obscene whispers. The women felt helpless. She could not stop the nuisance any more than she could fly. It was too late to leave the station and perhaps dangerous too. In utter desperation she shouted abuse at them. Her opponents were startled. The hot words belching form her mouth raised blisters on them. They realized they had bitten off more than they could chew. There was an impasse.
Just then, the child eased itself. The bench and the plat-form became dirty. There was no water anywhere. The amorous youths, smarting under the unexpected rebuff they had suffered at their quarry’s hands clapped their hands for joy. They harangued her on the need for clean habit, jeered at her discomfiture, threatened to teach her a lesson for defiling Railway property and asked her to accompany them to the Station Master. The woman, who had reached the end of her tether, thought the presence of the Station Master would at least save her from the unwelcome attentions of her tormentors. So she meekly followed.
In a short time, the procession filed back headed by the Station Master who, with a deep sense of duty, had reluctantly stepped out into the biting chill from his snug and comfortable office. Little did the members of the procession know that a big surprise was in store for them. The bench and the platform were quite clean! The spot the woman and her accusers had left only a few minutes before, bore no trace of dirt! The young pair stared at the bench in stupefied disbelief and dismay. They sniffed the air and the faint reek of paint assailed their nostrils. The woman gazed at the spot she had been sitting on only a few minutes ago. The miracle she had been praying for had happened. She heaved a sigh of relief. The Station Master waited for some explanation from his subordinates, none was offered. Nodding his head in a significant way, he went back to his office, being loth to vent his spleen in the presence of a stranger. To this day the incident has remained a mystery to the participants in the drama.
As a matter of fact, there was no mystery at all. Markand Bhai had been standing on the same platform and had seen and heard everything that had happened between the fair passenger and the amorous pair. He was the Chief Officer of Barsi Municipality (Solapur District in the present state of Maharashtra) and was going on an official tour. He too was waiting for the Madras Mail. He was in a woolen suit and had a woolen muffler wrapped round the neck. He it was, who had, using the muffler as a mop, cleaned the dirty spot, throwing away a costly and very necessary article of dress. It is doubtful if one man in a hundred million would have done that much to spare inconvenience to a total stranger. It is equally doubtful if one man in a hundred million would be vouchsafed with a direct vision of God.
Vision of Mother
A year after the incident narrated above, the Municipal Surat appointed Markand Bhai as Municipal Engineer. But as ill luck would have it, there came a direction from the that only officers deputed by the State should be appointed local authorities. Markand Bhai, therefore, resigned but to stay in Surat expecting some favorable replies applications for appointment. None was received, he was disgusted.
Days dragged on. Still no job, the tedium of waiting became unbearable. Then came Dussehra celebrations. On the ninth day of Navratri there was the usual feast in the house, but Markand Bhai declined to take food. He went up to his room and sat before Mother’s Picture bitterly complaining about his state. Suddenly, there was a peremptory knock on the front door. He had to go down to open the door as the other inmates were all busy with lunch. There stood the messenger from the Telegraphs Office with a message for him. It was an order of appointment! What a change it wrought. The nadir of dejection raised in a second to the acme of joyfulness!! He ran up to his room to weep out his gratitude to Mother. And what did he see? Mother actually stood before him and said ” Now will you come down and eat ?” Only for a fleeting second were the Form and Voice seen and heard. The resultant divine ecstasy lasted for a long time.
MAIJI – The Love Incarnate
As Markandji was in Government service he was liable transferred from place to place. Wherever he went, people to him for guidance and help. He was kind to all without difference of high and low or rich and poor. He tolerated human weakness and was never vindictive. Some of his servants cheated him. some disobeyed and even ill-treated him; he could take such things in his stride without losing his equanimity.
Maiji and The Antisocial Elements
Incarnations, saints and savants the world over, have often been the target for the nefarious practices of unscrupulous and antisocial persons around them. Invariably, however, such malpractices have only added to the luster of the exalted Personages concerned. Saint Mai-Swarupa was no exception. His experiences, both before and after attainment of sainthood, with the ungodly and the lawless were many and interesting; the silent thief, the aggressive beggar, the arrogant ascetic, all pitted their guiles against him. A few instances are narrated below.
The Silent Thief
In 1924 at Ahmedabad a servant ran away with the gold bangles of Markand Bhai’s wife. A few days after the theft, the thief was passing along the street in front of her erstwhile master’s house and was recognized by the inmates-who shouted aloud and demanded that the miscreant should be chased and caught. Markand Bhai quietly said to his wife, “Don’t worry, you have been wearing bangles for so many years. Now let that sister wear them and be happy”. The words foreshadowed what Saint Mai-Swarupa later taught his disciples. To quote the Saint’s own words: ” Mai-ists should try their best to see as far as possible that they become the least responsible for any harassment or punishment of others. Vindictivity or avenging one’s wrongs has no place in Mai-ism. If by snatching off what a Mai-ist can spare, someone becomes happy there is no Justification at least for vengeance”.
I am reminded of Bhagavan Ramana Maharshi’s words when the inmates of his ashram wanted action to be taken against thieves who had despoiled the sacred place. He said,”Leave them alone. They are misguided ignorant people. Sometimes your teeth suddenly bite your tongue. Do you knock out the teeth in consequence?”
From Badshahi Lodge Poona where Markand Bhai was residing in 1930 several articles were stolen. The thief was apprehended by the police who identified the owner of the articles from the initials M.R.D. (Markand Ratanlal Dholakia) engraved on a Primus Stove. However, the culprit could not be prosecuted because the owner stoutly refused to sign a complaint. He told the policemen “ People have wrong notions. Am I not myself a thief of public money if I knock off my pay without giving the market value return for the pay? Judging from the absolute viewpoint you will find much bigger robbers in white robes: officers, business men, merchants, millowners, Zamindars and so many others. If you have more, you may at least not mind someone snatching away his absolute necessities. I think your wife would like this beautiful new stove. Let the man be happy, relieve him and you be happy with the stove” Needless to mention what transpired afterwards.
The two incidents described above happened before Maiji had become a Saint. One incident that took place after his attainment of Sainthood may also be briefly mentioned. At Mai Nivas (Santa Cruz West, Bombay) in 1949, one Friday, after the congregational worship was over, a thief was caught red-handed, by one of the devotees. Maiji simply told the misguided man “Take away whatever you like from here”. The man felt ashamed and left.
The Arrogant Ascetic
The ochre robe is ordinarily a sign of spiritual attainment and renunciation and for that reason deserves respect. There are however, exceptions to the rule. Sometimes a man dons ochre robe with the sole object of exploiting the unsuspecting public. There are also occasions where the robe is adopted prematurely. In such cases the wearer has not developed enough humility, cannot brook disrespect from others and is prone to be arrogant. In the arrogance, he betrays, perhaps not consciously, antisocial propensities.
One afternoon in 1950, loud chanting of “Hare Ram” was heard at the gates of Mai-Nivas. Maiji opened the door and in walked an elderly man followed by three younger men. All were clad in ochre robes. All had ashes smeared over the body. The senior man had a flowing white beard and gray knotted locks. A string of large beads circled his neck. The long staff he held had a trident at the end. The others-obviously disciples – were continually telling beads. On entering the hall, the elder man sat on the ground while the others stood beside him respectfully. Maiji looked at the uninvited guests with a trace of amusement and curiosity. Nobody spokes for a few seconds. Then the chief among the disciples looked at Maiji and said in a commanding voice: “Come on, prostrate. Be blessed”. The host gently shook his head and said “I bow only to my mother, the Universal Mother. The man sitting on the floor sat erect. Fire flashed from his eyes. Placing a clenched hand on his heart as an appropriate gesture preparatory to a curse, he spat out the threat:” I can turn you into ashes in a minute”. The disciples waited for the host’s reaction. It came soon enough. Maiji folded his forearms across his chest and said with disconcerting frankness. “All right. Try. Go ahead. Turn me to ashes. How much time did you require!” The arrogant ascetic felt like a pricked balloon. He drooped his head and lapsed into silence. Maiji continued in the same vein, “If I were to ask Mother to turn you to ashes, She might have perhaps grant my prayer. But I am not that kind of man. Now, go away. Ply your trade elsewhere you have come to the wrong place”.
It was about dusk. The newcomers had no place where they could go for the night. So they entreated Maiji to let them spend the night in Mai Nivas. The request was readily granted by a condition that they should discard ochre and wear ordinary clothes during their stay.
The Selfish Servant
Once in Poona, a servant had the effrontery to appropriate for his own use some anti-mosquito coils sent by his master’s son from Ahmedabad. The master did not take him to task, not only that; one night the master happened to see that one of the coils placed near the servant’s bed had burnt out. Quietly without disturbing the sleeping servant the master lighted another coil and placed it near the spent coil before going to bed.
He loved all and served all to the best of his ability. Endowed with saintly qualities he was gradually blossoming into a full fledged saint. His mind worked on a large canvas comprising the whole world; the nucleus of a universal religion was taking shape.
The Aggressive Beggar
Maiji was a special Land Acquisition Officer in Poona in He was residing in Rastapeth. Every day at lunch time, one particular beggar would appear in front of the bungalow and Maiji would give him a few chapattis. This was a daily occurrence; charity to the same person was continued for over two years. Once there was a break in the routine for two days for reasons beyond Maiji’s control. When, on the third day, Maji went to the front door with the chapattis, there stood the beggar with an angry scowl on his face. The fellow raised his voice and at the same time raised his stick. Shouting angrily “Where were you the last two days”, he struck with the stick. The blow had been aimed at the head and had not the host involuntarily raised his hand very serious injury might have been caused . As it was, a few fingers were broken.
Soon there was a crowd. The police also came on the scene. The assailant was overpowered and disarmed. Everybody wanted to have the man prosecuted and punished. Maiji found it difficult to pacify them. With blood dripping from his fingers, he softly but firmly declined to sign a complaint. He said ” My first religious requirement is to try my little to Love All ”. The eccentric beggar went away with that day’s quota of chapattis.
Domestic Life; Its Repercussions
Fragments of the saint’s private life have been given in the previous chapters for the purpose of maintaining the continuity of narration. A few more details are described here, to help readers understand the difficulties Mai-Swarupa had to contend with, and to give a complete picture of the man and saint. It is by no means easy to separate the progress on the temporal side from that on the spiritual side.
The Dreamy Boy
Markand was an absentminded, dreamy sort of boy in primary school. He did not like to play with the boys of his age; he did not even know the names of the games his classmates played. He was unable to name the different articles of dress in a household. Names of ordinary cereals commonly used in homes were not known to the boy. When his teacher once asked him what he had eaten at breakfast Markand could not answer. he was always introspective and was, unknown to himself, paving the way for future spiritual attainment,
Mention has been made in Chapter III of Markand Bhaile marriage to Smt. Dinwant Behen. A daughter and two sons were born to them. The daughter Smt. Bhakti Behen was married to Sri Arvind Buch, a lawyer in Baroda. The first son Sri Puranjan Bhai was an officer in a Bank in Ahmedabad and was living there with his wife, Smt. Ila Behen and their children. The second son Sri Lalit Ranjan Bhai was an officer in a firm in Rajkot and is living there with his wife Smt. Neela Behen and their children. All the children of the Saint and their spouses are Mai-ists.
Till his twenty fourth year Markand Bhai’s favourite scripture was Saptashati. He often made experiments to prove the efficacy of repeating Saptashati. From 1909 he began to repeat Lalita Sahasra nama also. Sacred Texts of all religions interested him. There was progressive development of his religious outlook.
The period from 1925 to 1931 was one of great strain and sorrow for Markand Bhai. His mother Prabhalakshmi Devi passed away in 1925. Four years later, in 1929 his father Ratanlal Dholakia also shuffled off the mortal coils.
Markand Bhai’s conception of God gradually underwent a change, from the Hindu Mataji to Universal Mother, from the aspect of Power to the aspect of Love. There was considerable opposition to the idea of ‘one-ness’ of all men from Orthodox Sanatanists of the day. Any little mishap happening to Markand Bhai was ascribed by them to the anger of Mataji, who, they said disliked the now-fangled notion of Universality. In 1927 Gujarat was laid waste by a devastating flood. The house in Petlad which practically comprised Markand Bhai’s entire earning collapsed along with several other houses. His detractors claimed that the disaster was the direct result of the new cult in derogation of the ancient Mataji cult. Of course, they were studiously reticent about the houses of Sanatanists that had shared the same fate. Markand Bhai stood like a rock. Come floods, come storm, come any calamity, he never for a moment wavered; in fact he was developing his ideas of Universality.
Markand Bhai was a loving husband and a fond father. On the wedding day of his daughter, he spent three hours with her imparting worldly and spiritual instructions.
He was first a religionist and then a householder. That mentality did not meet with the approval of his wife. As Maiji has stated several times, women are mostly possessive in nature. Each woman wants to be the central figure in her husband’s life. If she is relegated to second place, even though the first place is given not to another individual but to God, she cannot tolerate the position. Markand Bhai however would not surrender his love of religion at any cost. To him a son’s marriage was not as important as a Mother’s function.
Naturally there was some unpleasantness in the family. The wife refused to take part in the religious function conducted by the husband. Once there was plague in Poona. After the scourge had ceased there was thanks-giving worship in Maiji’s bungalow. There was a large gathering of devotees. But Maiji’s wife declined to step out of her room.
One night Smt. Dinwant Behen had a dream in which Mother appeared and asked her to leave her husband free to do religious work. The obstinate wife flatly refused. She became unbalanced and had to be admitted into the Yerwada Hospital. She passed away in 1959.
Maiji had great appreciation and love for his wife. This is what he has recorded : “Mai fully blessed the divine soul of wife. Were it not that she had her quiet peace loving nature would not have been possible for me to be and to do what I have been and what I have done.”
After the declaration of Mai-ism in 1932 Maiji began to live separate from the family. In the residential house, He had two rooms, one for Mai and the other for himself, detached from the rest of the house where his wife and children stayed. But His religious activities did not permit him to throw away the family burden. He retained His responsibility to support the family financially, though He lived in his rooms with the minimum of attachment. He had to contend with all the disadvantages of a householder, with none of the advantages of a Saint. But his religion was to serve the public and not to be served or worshipped.
A devout distinguished and broadminded Christian Missionary, who could recognize divinity when he saw it, was travelling by train from Churchgate to Bandra. Saint Mai-Swarupa was in the same compartment. The two great religionists got acquainted and began to talk of religion and God. The missionary soon found that he was talking to a realized soul. During the talk Mal Swarupa happened to mention his book ‘Mother’s Message’ and immediately the other asked for a copy. The Saint was not carrying any with him. His companion stated in all seriousness “Well, if you ask Mother, She would give you a copy”. It was not
challenge; perhaps, it was partly challenge and partly appreciation. Mai-Swarup prayed and there fell in his lap three copies of the book.
In a later chapter entitled, “Mai Swarupa the Man ” some more details regarding the individuality of the Saint apart from the powers of a Realized soul will be mentioned.
Late Mr. Soparkar and Markand Bhai had been college mates and friends at Poona. The friendship continued even after one had become the boss and the other a subordinate.
Mrs. Tarabehen Soparkar was a very devout lady. In September 1931 she became seriously ill and was confined to bed. One day, she thought she heard someone chanting a verse from Saptshathi. She called out to her husband to go and see whether any Sadhu was anywhere in the vicinity. Soparkar obligingly went round the place and reported that there was nobody on the premises except himself and Markand Bhai who had just come. ‘Oh’, she cried out gladly.’ He has come, has he? Then he must be the person whom I heard. Please bring him up.
Tarabehen looked at the visitor standing at the door and began to repeat slowly:
Durge Smritha Harasi Bheethimasesha Jantoh Swasthai Smritha Mathimatheeva Subham Dadasi Daridrya Duhkha Bhayaharini Ka Twadanya Sarvopakarakaranaya Sadardra Chittha
She then asked if he had not been reciting the sloka. Markand nodded affirmatively but added that he had been repeating the lines only mentally without even moving his lips.
It was his favorite stanza and he often used to recite it. It means: Oh Mother Durga, on remembering Thee, Thou art removing all types of fears from all sources. On remembering Thee with an established mind, mood and meditation, Thou art giving discrimination and the deciding intellect towards righteousness. Who is there except Thee to remove all misery and poverty? Thy heart is full of mercifulness to shower Thy Grace on Thy devotee.
It was felt that Markand Bhai’s presence was a source of comfort to Tarabehen who was on the last lap of her life’s journey. So Soparkar persuaded his friend to live in the house.
One day, the teacher employed to give tuition to Soparkar’s daughter happened to ask a saint of Pandarpur about the chances of recovery of his pupil’s mother. “The patient’s time is already up”, was the reply; “But out of courtesy to a saintly person living in the house the lady is not taken away. The moment he leaves the house the patient will leave this world.” This strange prophecy was promptly communicated to the master of the house. Soparkar began to brood pensively over the information. He was neither sentimental nor superstitious. But this was a matter touching the life of his dear wife. In spite of his disbelief the thought flashed across his mind that disregard of the saints words might spell disaster. After much thought he came to the conclusion that a willing suspension of disbelief would be a wise precaution against the unhappy, though unlikely, event of the prediction coming true. Love for his wife triumphed over cold logic. He used his official position and friendship to insist that Markand Bhai should not leave the house on any pretext and that his official work should be done from the house,
A few days passed. Tarabehen was on her deathbed. Three eminent doctors from Bombay, Kirkee and Poona unanimously
opined that the patient had but an hour more in this world. A number of relatives stood in the hall, silently and sorrow fully watching the inert body swathed in blankets, cheeks pallid, eyes closed. The husband was a stricken man.
“When serious illness strikes, people call the doctor. It is automatic for most to rely on human professional knowledge and skill. But finally, when the attending physician gravely shakes his head, and says there is nothing more that medical science can do, then at last people cry out desperately to God” (Herbert Armstrong).
When the doctors left, Soparkar turned to Markand Bhai, and said in a voice hoarse with agony and despair:” Can’t you do something? As the latter began to gently shake his head, the stricken man continued more in sorrow than in anger’ Do what you can. I won’t take no for an answer. Don’t be diffident. Do something “Thereupon, just to console his friend Markand Bhai went and stood near the patient’s head and began to pray. Tears rolled down his face and a drop fell into the patient’s mouth. The result was marvelous. As if in answer to a given signal, changes began to take place in the motionless form. A gentle glow slowly suffused the cheeks dispelling the ghostly pallor, the pulse speeded up, there was a mild, ever so mild heave of the chest and the eyes slowly opened. Tarabehen looked at her guest and said in a low voice: ” I saw Mother. She said if you promise to fast for a day, I would get an extension of life by a week. Won’t you promise?” The promise was given forthwith and within minutes Mrs. Tarabehen Soparker sat up and drank milk. Gone was her illness. Gone was the misery of the husband, Gone was the gloom that had enveloped the house. It was as if she had never been ill.
Some called the incident a miracle. Others said it was luck.
Yet, others said the cure was due to the delayed action of the medicines given by the doctors. Armstrong would not have been wrong if in continuation of the passage quoted above he had said ” And if God intervenes and cures the patient, very few are really grateful”!
On the morning of the seventh day Tarabehen had fever suddenly. The husband realized the significance. He knew his wife would go that day. The extended tenure of life would expire that evening. He broke down and became hysterical. After a long time, he became normal, thanks to the ministrations of Markand Bhai. In the afternoon a message came from the Secretariat asking for a confidential file. The papers were in his office under lock and key. They were so confidential that either he had to go or send somebody in whom he had absolute confidence. He could not think of leaving his wife. Markand Bhai was the only person he could trust, but sending him out of the house might be disastrous according to the prediction of the Pandarpur Saint. He was in a dilemma. Finally preferring to remain with his wife in her last moments, he sent his friend with very strict instructions not to tarry for a minute after handing over the papers.
Mrs. Tarabehen Soparkar breathed her last the moment Markand Bhai stepped out of the house.
The Tarabehen episode focussed Markand Bhai’s attention on the need to glorify Mother. The strange string of events : a devotee actually hearing what was mentally repeated by another, the prophecy of the saint of Pandarpur and its fulfilment, one devotee’s fast extending another devotee’s life by a week, a patient dying, as soon as a guest steps out of the house, all these things neatly dovetailing with one another, led him to think that it was his duty to sing the glories of the Mother. The thought grew and became an obsession. He became half mad and had to take leave on medical grounds, though the doctors were not able to say what exactly the disease was.
Shortly thereafter, a peculiar phenomenon began to manifest itself. Voices without human agency began to be heard. The words: “God as Mother, Mother of all propitiable with Universal Love. Service, Devotion and Unconditional Cheerful Self Surrender”, made themselves heard. Not only that. Markand Bhai began to see those words everywhere, wherever he turned, on the walls, on the doors, on the windows. Mother began to insist that he should install Her. He made several excuses : pleaded inefficiency, want of erudition, lack of funds for the work. All excuses were rejected and Mother threatened him with lifelong semi-lunacy if he did not promise to install Her. There was no alternative. It was a case of Hobson’s choice. The moment he gave the promise, he became normal.
However, no time had been fixed for the installation and the matter was not immediately attended to.
In later years Saint Mai-Swarupa used to tell His disciples that the first requirement of a spiritual aspirant is humility. Humility is the sine qua non for spiritual progress. He used to say Taraneko hamra jivan duhneki abhiman (if you are humble you are saved, If you are proud you sink). Long before attainment of sainthood he had this essential quality in abundance. That was the reason why he put off installing Mother even after the promise; in his humble modesty, he really felt he was not competent to do the installation. Mother would frequently remind him, but considering the heavy responsibility that a formal Installation would entail, Markand Bhai postponed doing it. Then came three messengers, one from Bombay, one from Shimoga (Mysore) and the third one from Calcutta, all three had received specific directions in dreams to proceed to Poona and deliver a message to a devotee living there. They were such staunch devotees that without pausing to question the authenticity of the command they simply started out in search of person they had not even heard of. They fully believed that Mother would direct them to the right man.
(1) Vrajlal Parekh was a very staunch devotee of Mataji. One day he saw in a dream, a temple to which Hindus, Christians, Muslims and Parsis and others were going. He saw at the top of the temple a board bearing the inscription,”Mai Markand Temple”. He also saw a written command to this effect “Go to Poona and tell my son to install me”. Vrajlal knew the Founder and rightly understood that the message was meant to be conveyed to him. He promptly did so.
(2) The Second messenger form Calcutta was also a religious man. One night when he was staying at Nagpur he heard a Voice in his dream telling him: “Go to Poona and ask my son to install me”. Without a moment’s hesitation he went to Poona where after several unsuccessful attempts to get accommodation in various hotels and lodging houses finally he got a room in Gujarat Lodge. Though he managed to get accommodation there, how was he to know that he was so near his man? Weary, exhausted and almost beginning to doubt the wisdom of his hasty rush to Poona, he went to sleep. In his dream he heard some one tell him not to lose heart, and that the man he wanted to meet was in the front room. Immediately he jumped out of bed and peeped into the front room to verify his dream. There he saw a devotee pleading earnestly his in competency and humbly begging that a more suitable person might be asked to do the installation. The devotee was then sitting in a meditative trance. Not wanting to disturb a man in his meditation the messenger made enquiries from the night watchman of the lodge. The answer was “Can’t tell you the gentlemen’s name. Everybody calls him Kaka. He is a Govt. Officer. He goes to bed very late. I have seen light burning in his room till 2 or 3 in the morning. He gets up only by 9 o’clock”.
The man from Calcutta had a friend living a few miles away. He thought of visiting the friend and coming back by the time Kaka got up. So, he left by the early morning train to the nearest station. As ill luck would have it, there was some disturbance in the locality the previous day and the police were rounding up all newcomers with the result that our man was arrested on alighting from the train. His protestations of innocence were of no avail. Frightened, he thought of Kaka and began to repeat “Kaka Bachao’ (Kaka save me). He was locked up for some time. The man was fervently and frantically repeating “Kaka Bachao’.
In the evening the police, quite contrary to their usual procedure, released him. Sad and unnerved, he went to sleep. The Voice, an Angry voice this time, asked him: “What, you did not have the time to do my bidding? Your repetition of Kaka bachao saved you. Go and pass my message at once”. Early next morning he went to Poona and delivered the message. The recipient of the message asked the man his name. The other answered “My name has nothing to do with it. Kaka Bachao”.
(3) Mr. Anant lyer, a young man from Shimoga (Mysore) was the third messenger who was ordered in a dream to go to Poona and deliver the same message. Anant lyer reached the hotel and by chance (?), saw Markand Bhai in the dining room. Something seemed to tell Anant lyer that that was the man he had travelled for to meet. So, he made bold to ask the other if he was not a devotee of Mother. An emphatic affirmative was the answer. And the message was delivered.
Anant lyer, who had some spiritual knowledge and ritualistic devotion, had a great desire to see Mother at least in a dream. He sought Markand Bhai’s help. The latter agreed and took him to the Sheik Sulla Bridge for discussion. They sat there from 11p.m. to 4 a.m. talking about Mother. Afterwards Anant lyer went to sleep and he had a wonderful dream, in which Mother appeared and said, “You have wished to see me in your dream. Who was talking to you on the bridge? That was myself”. With tears of joy the young man ran to Markand Bhai and narrated his dream.
Mother became insistent. There was no escape; no further postponement was possible. Thereupon Markand Bhai began to stipulate terms.
He said ” If I get a new hitherto untenanted house, if I enter it on a Friday, if I see a dazzling light that evening, if I receive a basket of sweets and fruits that day, if at 9.30 p.m. three girls and two men come unasked and press me to do the Installation, if Mother’s picture is available in any shop at 10.30 p.m., if I am able to buy worshipping materials from a shop at 11 p.m. and if at 11.30 p.m. a hawker brings a beautiful garland befitting Mother, then I shall install Mother”.
Every one of these conditions were most wonderfully and accurately fulfilled one after another on the second day of September, nineteen hundred and thirty-two. Is there anything difficult for Mother who is Unmesha-nimishotpanna-vipanna bhuvanavali (281 Lalitasahasranama) – the creator and destroy of universes in the twinkling of an eye? When finally, a hawker of garlands began to cry his ware ‘Har. Har’ at 11.30, Markand Bhai burst into tears and said “Mother, Thou hast caught me.
Couldst Thou not have found a better man to do Thy work?”
The five persons who had gone there uninvited encouraged him saying: “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, Sir, when She Herself has chosen you?”
Mai was formally installed at midnight on 2-9-1932. Markand Bhai said to his audience: “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, Zoroaster, Buddha, Christ, Muhammad and every Founder of every religion are Mai’s illustrious sons. From now, the Bible or Koran is as venerable and worshipable to me as the Geetha. I will continue to pray to God as I have prayed till now, with the same intensity of love and devotion in a Hindu Mandir, Zoroastrian Agora, Christian Church, Muhammadan Masjid, or an Israelite Synagogue. No more religious differences. Devotion to Mother is devotion to Mother’s children. I am a changed religionist from today. I install Mai today. I declare Mai-ism today.”
News of the declaration soon spread. Educated people saw the rationalistic Universal spirit of the new religion. The Founder who was, the personification of Love, the embodiment of Service, the quintessence of Devotion and the exemplar of Surrender to Divine will soon begin to be known as Mai Swarupa, Mai Kaka and Mai Baba. His disciples addressed Him as Maiji.
Mai-ism: What It Stands for?
Mai literally means mother. Mai of Mai-ism is the Final most God conceived as Mother. The principal tenets of Mai-ism are:
Universality, Motherhood of God, Love, Service, Devotion, an Unconditional, Cheerful Self-Surrender. Spiritual co-equal statue of man and woman follows as a necessary corollary. True, even religion claims to contain these Principles. But Mai-ism RELIGIONISES them. That is the difference. The difference is in the emphasis. Love and Service are more important in Maiism than attending temples, churches or mosques. You may be able to recite the Vedas, the Bible, the Quran or any other sacred text by rote, but by the standards set by Mai-ism, you will not be religious unless you live a practical life of Universal Love and Service to all irrespective of caste, creed, color or race. I venture to say no religion in the world has said that.
Universal Religion must have a Universal God. Such God cannot have His chosen people, temples, scriptures and pilgrimage-centers.
Universality to be effective must be the supreme quality of one’s whole vision and integral outlook with a conviction about its highest value. Universality should not be the outcome of policy, a temporary acceptance for some specific object in view.
An incident in Mai-Swarupa’s life illustrates the point. There was a long-standing dispute between Hindus and Muslims of Nasik over the location and construction of a mosque. Communalism was rampant. Both sides spewed poison. For fifteen long years there were continual riots and bickering. Those in authority could not resolve the dispute. In 1938 July, Maiji was at Nasik on official business. It was of course not part of his duties to patch up communal differences, but the humanitarian in him urged him to tackle the situation. On 8.7.1938, he settled the dispute in a few hours to the complete satisfaction of both parties. The aura of universal mindedness that surrounded the saint, the subtle emanation of universal Love from his face and the atmosphere of universal brotherhood diffused by his very presence created a complete feeling of confidence in both communities. That was Universality in action.
Next, let us take the conception of God as Mother. It is the common experience of daily life that a mother is pleased when her children are happy, and that particular child is dearest to her who exerts most for the well-being of the other children. When God is Mother and all are Her children, service by one child to another pleases Her. Practice feeling that you are a child; a child whom Mother could not but accept, however wicked. Be mother’s child and Her lap shall be thrilling and throbbing to have you on it.
If God is Mother to you, then there is no meaning in the belief of pleasing Her with servile recitation of Her virtues in an intellectual manner. None acts that way with one’s own mother. There is every right for a child to make demands on its mother. (Thus Sakama Bhakti is permitted in Mai-ism). You can always run to her with your problems, you can confess to Her all your follies and misdeeds fearlessly, you can always seek Her protection however wicked you are. But your right and claim on your Mother are proportionate to and based on your love, service and devotion to Her as your Mother.
Infinity is thought of, visualized and approached as Divine Mother with all living creatures as Her children. Mother is essentially the ocean of infinite Love and Mercy. She, Mother Mai is the only human mother raised to the power of infinity, to Godhood. Nothing less than God of all nations, all religions, all humanity, but conceived as Mother.
It has to be understood that there is no gender in the case of Mother; gender follows words and conceptions only. Mother is neither a woman nor a man nor any other thing. Mother is pure
consciousness. No gender should be finally attributed to Her except for fanning the flame of devotion. The common man is unable to meditate on God’s Eternal and Indivisible Form. So some qualified from is necessary and in adopting a qualified form nothing can be more natural than a parental conception; and in as much as Father is Justice and Mother is Mercy, Motherhood of God is more acceptable.
I am reminded of the last words of His Holiness Pope John XXIII who passed away on 3.6.1963. They were “Mater Mea” (Mother Mine).
Universal Love and Service are the cornerstones of Maiism. Love all. Leave off everything else. Practice this and this alone. Service is but an application of love. Service concretizes love. Mai-ism religionizes Love. How far you are prepared to love and serve others counts much more than the richness of your offerings, correctness of pronunciation and strict adherence to scriptural details.
Once during Navaratra celebrations in Ahmedabad, a relative of Mai-Swarupa had gone to the Bhadrakali temple with her eight-year-old child. The child got lost in the milling crowd; she did not know her way home, in despair she sat in a corner and began to weep. Devotees in their hundreds were shouting “Jai Jai Kali Matha Ki Jai”, paying scant attention to the forlorn child. One devotee, however, proved to be an exception. That altruist comforted the child with gentle words and managed to elicit her father’s name and took her to her house, where in the meanwhile, a frantic futile search for the missing child had caused great alarm and grief. The parents were profuse in their thanks to the Good Samaritan. But the latter was not happy. He said: “I have lost the camel while saving the goat. I have broken my vow of having daily darsan of Bhadra Kali”. Mai Swarupa happened to be there. He consoled the devotee by saying: “Dont’t worry. You have done the right thing. Go home cheerfully. If you could not go to Mother because you were engaged in serving a helpless child of Mother, Mother will come to you.” That night the devotee had a dream in which Kali Matha gave him Darsan and blessed him. It is such service, in doing which, if need be, worship of God is neglected that Mai-ism extols and wants its adherents to do.
Even if you do not believe in the very existence of God, if you try your best to love and serve all, you are a Mai-ist, because you are revering Mai in one of Her aspects: Conscience. Once a big city was submerged in water due to heavy floods. There was considerable danger to life and property. Officials were unable to cope with the work of rescue and salvage. The proprietor of a circus put his men, elephants and horses into the work; he himself directed the operations without stopping for food or rest though occasionally he had recourse to a flask of gin he had in his hip pocket. Hundreds of lives were saved by him. That man had no religion; he seldom offered prayers. Newspapers carrying banner headlines about the floods and relief work, while praising the circus man for his timely help, could not desist from having a dig at the man for his weakness for alcohol. According to the standards of Mai-ism that circus proprietor has a better claim to be called a religionist than one who knows and recites his scriptures without break but does not lift a little finger to help the man in distress.
Devotion: Bhakti yoga is pre-eminently suited to this age. There is no suffering that cannot be alleviated by devotion. We come across in the biography of saints and bhaktas very many instances of relief from distress. There is practically nothing that a true devotee cannot accomplish.
Mai-Swarupa once said that if Religion had to be defined in one word, that word would be sharanagathi which means Unconditional, Cheerful, Self-Surrender. Joseph Headley, a noted religious writer of England wrote in the World Religion Congress Report (Eighth report) “Unconditional, Cheerful Self-Surrender mentioned by Mai-Swarupa signifies the necessity for every human being to merge his personal selfhood within the Divine Will, and manifest the same in that greater conscious field of Universality”.
Guru: Everyone needs a spiritual mentor. This seed has been recognized by religious Savants the world over. Mai Swarupa makes a slight departure from the usually accepted notions. According to Him your guru need not be perfect; it is often impossible to get a perfect guru. Anyone who is spiritually your superior can be your guru provided he has your spiritual welfare at heart and you confide in him whole-heartedly.
The importance of Guru-Sishya relationship is seen from the division into three trios of all the major principles. Maiji declares : “Mai-ism reduces everything into three trios; (1) Humanity, Love and Service; (2)Mother, Devotion and Self Surrender and (3) God, Guru and Disciple. Take up any trio and fire on! Mother speed you! No handicap of what to eat, when to bathe, whom not to touch, which temple, which river, which pilgrimage-place, which saint, which priest etc.”. It can be seen that the first trio suits even atheists.
Symbol of Mai-ism: The Swastic is the symbol chosen by the Master. The arm drawn down from the right-hand end of the horizontal represents Universal Love; the other arms, reckoned clockwise, represent Service, Devotion and Surrender respectively. The horizontal denotes Universal mindedness and the vertical stands for coequal status of man and woman.
Regarding Adwaitism, Mai-ism says it is a stage of consciousness and not an independent path by itself. Although the supremacy of ‘I am God’ is not denied, the world will be happier by being taught, Thou art God’. Mai-ism is not so much for God above or God within, as for God around, God who will be ever with us while we render service with love.
Some criticism : It has been said by some that there is no need for a separate religion to propagate these principles, Some have said that Mai-ism has a Hindu colour. Regarding the first objection, if every religion contains all these principles there was no need for Islam when Christianity was there; there was no need for Christianity when Zoroastrianism was there. The same could be said of every religion except the very first. The need for Universality in practical life, the need for religionization of Love and Service, the NEED was there when Mai insisted that Mai-ism should be declared.
The answer to the second objection of Mai-ism having a Hindu colour is this : If you want to explain sweetness to a man who does not know anything about it, you have to have some illustration like sugar or honey. Similarly to churn out the essence of religiosity in a practical manner Mai-Swarupa had to have a vehicle. The majority of persons around the Saint were Hindus and, therefore, He chose Hinduism as a vehicle. Let me give you another analogy. If you want to add saffron to a preparation of rice and milk, you can’t do it by simply putting in the saffron. First you have to mix the saffron in a little liquid separately and then pour the same into the rice and milk preparation. In the same way Mai-Swarupa found it necessary to prepare a segregated group of Mai-ists to be later mixed with the bulk of humanity and as stated already, those around Him consisted mostly of Hindus. Time and time again has Maiji stated that if people of other religions come in large numbers (There are some Christian-Mai-ists and some Zoroastrian-Mai-ists at present) to attend congregational prayers; only general prayers would and should be offered. Such a general prayer has been incorporated in ‘Mai-ism’ which is the Founder’s Magnum Opus. Another general prayer was prepared by Revered Sister Mrs. Dorothy Dean and was accepted by Maiji.
Aims of Mai-ism : Mai-ism aims at reconciling and unifying all religions. Its object is to create a federation of religions. It acts as the centripetal force making all religions to converge on one central point of agreement. Mai-Swarupa wanted universalminded persons of all religions to meet, discuss and produce a text book of religion acceptable to all. He envisaged the creation of a Universal Saints’ Order for upholding the Highest Common Factor of all religions. Mai-ism does not insist that its adherents should renounce the religion into which they were born. As pointed out by Ernest Kirk in his illuminating book “The World’s Need and Mai-ism”, “Mai-ism brings to all religions something in the heart of them all that is real and enduring”.
Revered Mai-Swarupa ‘has prepared a Mai-ism Chart, a wonderful geometrical figure consisting of annular rings with spaces between them, each ring representing some phase of the spiritual aspirant’s progress. The path of the aspirant has been divided into three Zones, the Morality Zone, the Religiosity Zone and the Spirituality Zone and after all the Zones are passed the aspirant reaches Mai’s Supreme Sphere. The beauty of the chart lies in the fact that all the twelve major religions are given their places on the annular rings, and the adherent of each religion is shown as passing through the three Zones mentioned above, before he reaches the Sphere of the Universal and Finalmost God, Mai. The chart and its explanation of over hundred pages have been printed at the earnest request of some of His disciples. The chart alone would suffice to show how all-embracing Mai-ism is.
Sisters’ Socials and Convocations
The stress and strain Mai-Swarupa had to endure before and during the Declaration of Mai-ism described in Chapter XIV, took their toll. He felt exhausted and was unable to do anything for three days. On the third night He had a strange though pleasant dream in which He saw a spacious lawn where innumerable ladies of various religions were holding discussions. Maiji interpreted this to mean that Mother wanted a congregation of ladies belonging to different religions. It was by no means easy to bring about such a gathering. There was little or no encouragement from any quarter. Some people plainly discouraged Him.
No matter what the odds, however, Maiji carried on undaunted and, to the astonishment of all, a Sisters’ Social of over three hundred ladies of different religions was held in Poona on 9 October 1932. Mrs. E.T. Choudhari of Bengal presided. Men and boys were not admitted into the hall where the Social was held. The event was acclaimed by all as a ‘Mother’s Miracle’.
After a fairly long time during which Maiji was engaged in propagating Mai-ism in Ahmedabad and other places, the second Sisters’ Social was held in Madras on 1 October 1949.
Calicut was the venue of the third Sisters’ Social which took place on 8 October 1954.
The fourth of the series was held in Shimizu city in Japan on 20 May 1955 with Rev. Sister Yoshiko Nakano in the chair.
On 4th October 1957, the next Sisters’ Social was held in Trichur.
The place chosen for the sixth Social was Trivandrum where the function was held on 24th October 1958.
Sisters’ Socials were limited to one day and only women could participate in them. With a view to enlarge the scope of the movement, Maiji decided to hold Mai Convocations lasting for three days one of which would be allotted to ladies exclusively. Three Convocations have so far been held: the first at Trichur from 30th September to 2nd October 1960; the second at Ernakulam from 7th October to 9th October 1962 and the third at Secunderabad from 15th to 17th October 1972.
Eminent persons of established name and fame-Swamijis, poets, writers, scholars, professors, judges, journalists participated in the functions. It would be invidious to name only some of them and it is a trifle too difficult to mention all the names.
In the small hours of the night towards the close of 1932, there was a knock at Maiji’s door. The saint himself opened the door. The caller, a man of some social standing was known to the saint. Without spending time on preliminaries the visitor mentioned the object of his untimely visit. He was in trouble. Somebody was about to institute legal proceedings against him. Some playful overtures he had made to a woman were the basis for the proposed legal action. Much dirty linen would be washed in public. The man had expressed regret, but the other side would not relent. Then he got the idea that such matters could be squared up by hard cash. Having unsuccessfully tapped a few others for raising funds, he had at last approached Maiji. Time was short; the next day they might go to court.
“I don’t have money with me”, Maiji told him,” But since you have come to Mother in a penitent mood, I will move Her to save you. Do you agree to my terms?” The miserable man the sword of Democle’s hanging over him agreed, eagerly.
The visitor was made to lie on the carpet at the Lotus Feet of Mai, repeating certain mantras. He was not allowed to leave the place for three days, nor was he given food. A friend keeping watch over the activities of the opposite camp reported that the filing of the case had been delayed, because the man had suddenly developed fever. Maiji boldly sent word to him that his fever would not subside until and unless he gave up the idea of going to court, because his intended victim had surrendered to Mai.
It was 8 p.m. on the fourth day. Maiji had to leave in an hour by the nine O’clock train for Dharwar. He was unhappy that no progress had been made in the matter he had undertaken. Just when He was beginning to despair, three persons walked in, a young man with fever just down, his wife and his mother. There was no need for introductions. Obviously, they were the persons trying to drag the other man into court. Without giving the newcomers time to air their grievances, Maiji addressed them in sweet words : “ I have no time. All of you prostrate to Mai. Forgive and forget the past. Mai will make you all happy. Take this Prasad”. The Prasad was Rs. 25/- taken from his own purse. The matter was thus settled.
Maiji often used to say Mai is Prapathi Sulabha – easily accessible to those who surrender to Her.
The saint rushed to the railway station fully knowing that He was late. But so was the train. He was happy to find that the second class compartment He entered was empty. He could commune with Mother without let or hindrance.
When the train reached Belgaum, a large number of passengers, women and men, unknown to one another and to Maiji, entered the compartment to join the worship of Mai. Flowers,
with garlands and sweets were procured somehow and offered Mai. The occasion was hailed as extraordinary and unprecedented by one and all.
During the tour mentioned above, Maiji had to go to Gada where also several devotees and admirers attended worship at His place in the Koshtagi Chawl. In the course of His religious talk Maiji happened to say that Mai was the mother of even Lord Krishna. Thereupon a great devotee of Krishna courteously challenged the speaker to prove the statement. The saint’s arguments failed to convince the devotee. Nor were quotations from Harivamsa and Kurmapurana, where Vishnu and Brahman are described as praising the Mother, of any avail. (The writer is reminded of Krishna’s advice to Arjuna to pray to Mother in chapter 23 of Bhismaparva and of Yudhishtira praying to Mother in chapter 6 of Virata parva in Mahabharatha). Finally, Maiji advised the man to pray to Krishna and Mai to resolve the doubt. That night the Krishna devotee had a dream. On the shore of a large lake stood a beautiful lady of divine aspect scattering grains into the water. Three turtles swam about eagerly eating the grains. Each turtle had a name inscribed on its back. The names were Brahma, Vishnu and Mahesh. All his doubts thus cleared, the devotee ran to Maiji and told Him what had happened. (Mother is Samsayaghni – no. 173 in Lalitha-sahasranama-the dispeller of doubts). Maiji smiled and said;“ Krishna the player of Brindavan is a child of Mai. Krishna conceived as Universal God is Mai.”
Early Religious Friends and Acquaintances
Maiji’s earliest religious friend was T.N. Koppikar, a retired forest officer of Dharwar. Quite casually, Koppikar happened to meet Maiji at the travelers’ bungalow at Dharwar during the latter’s official tour mentioned in the previous chapter. Being a religious
man,the ex-forest officer felt a strong affinity to the saintly personage in the bungalow. Drawn by invisible ropes he visited the saint thrice in the course of a few hours. The acquaintance soon ripened into affection. Maiji initiated Koppikar into Mai-ism.
Koppikar happened to speak about Maiji in very glowing terms when he met the great Muslim saint Peersaheb Abdul Khadir Chisti of Bagalkot. Not believing all that Koppikar had said, Peer Saheb wanted to test Maiji. He wrote, “Will you come to my liquor house?”. Maiji used the same mystic language in His reply: “Surely, without fail. Please inform me when the wine and server are ready”. Before long the two saints met, and during a happy exchange of views they reached a stage of trance at the end of which Peersaheb began to repeat Mai, Mai’ and Maiji ‘Al Rahman, Al Rahman’. They were lifelong friends till Peer Saheb passed away on 6 February, 1959.
Tammanna Shastri From Dharwar Maiji proceeded to Hubli, where a strange experience was awaiting Him the very day of His arrival. Tammanna Shastri, a great devotee of Sri Rama was on his deathbed. For days he had not tasted food, Suddenly he felt inspired and called his disciple V.L.Baddi to his side and said: “A very highly religious officer has come today. Bring him here. Don’t fail. My blessings go with you.” Baddi was, naturally, a trifle puzzled about the master’s command, but he set out to do his duty. By carefully checking the day’s arrivals he could decide that Maiji was the person his master wanted to see. “But a man in western dress!” thought the rather confused disciple,” What would master want to see him for?” Anyway, he delivered the message, and requested to be informed what time would suit Maiji to go to Shastriji. Maiji said he would go at once. Several devotees and disciples of Shastriji saw the warm embrace of two great men, who had not known each other. Maiji persuaded his host to take some food. All were happy.
At Hubli, Swami Siddharudha one of the greatest living saints of the day was delivering speeches on religion every evening, Many persons would assemble in an enclosed lawn and punctually at the same hour every evening Swamiji would begin his discourse.
One evening, a few days after the visit to Tammanna Shastri, Maiji thought of listening to Siddharudhaji’s sermon and hired a tonga. The tonga man was strongly of the opinion that Maiji would not be able to enter the enclosure as the gates would surely be closed by the time they reached the place. But Maiji assured the cart-man that Swamiji would wait for him. The tonga reached its destination forty minutes late, but the gates had not been closed. Not only that; Swami Siddharudha loudly proclaimed to the audience: “See there he is coming. Close the gates after he is in”. All had been wondering why Swamiji was delaying his discourse, and now they wondered how he knew about the coming of the last visitor. After the usual religious talk Swamiji took Maiji to his place.
That was in 1932. Twelve years later, Maiji was again in Hubli. One day, his car got damaged when actually running on the road. The saint thought of taking some rest while the vehicle was being repaired. Strangely enough, people guided Him to the very same house, where in 1932 Siddharudhaji had taken in (Swamiji had already passed away a few years before). the place He sat, the chair He occupied, were all the same. Man felt the Spirit of Siddharudhaji had arranged the whole affair.
Mother’s Lodge and After
Towards the end of February 1933, Maiji was camping at Belgaum. The craze of the place at the time was a Sannyasin-a devotee of Sri Ganesh – who was attracting large crowds by his ability to predict a man’s future by merely looking at him. Maiji was persuaded by His disciples to meet the prodigy. As usual there was a large gathering of people eagerly waiting to know what the future held in store for them. The sage would move his eyes from top to toe of each person, speak a few words and pass on to the next. As soon as Maiji joined the crowd, the sannyasin saw him, stretched out his right-hand palm down and hooked his forefinger as a signal to move forward. When the Land-Acquisition Officer in trousers, neck-tie and shoes drew near, the Oracle said, “You are the Founder of a new religion. If you wait I shall tell you more after I have finished with the others” . Maiji waited without displaying the amazement he really felt. There was a long talk in the end. The Mahatma predicted among other things that within a month his visitor would start a new institution.
Soon after his return to Poona Maiji’s followers and admirers earnestly pressed him to open a religious center for spreading Mai-ism. When accordingly, arrangements were being made for starting a Mother’s Lodge, opposition reared its ugly head. In this world of conflicting views and tastes, any undertaking, no matter how exalted it is, is sure to have some opponents. An influential man of Poona hated the idea of Mother’s Lodge and began to do propaganda against Mai-ism. The man became mentally unbalanced and had to be carried to the mental hospital on 27.3.1933, the very day on which the Mother’s Lodge was formally inaugurated. Thus, the Belgaum Sannyasin’s predictioncame true.
Immediately in the wake of the inauguration, occurred some miraculous instances of Mai’s Grace : two of them are mentioned below.
The Divine Door-Keeper. A Parsi lady who had played an important part in the Sisters’ Social at Poona on 9.10.32, was in serious trouble. Her brother whom she loved dearly was a wastrel always running into debts and sponging on her. She had tried in vain to reform him. One day he asked her for Rs.5007. Fearing that he would squander the money she was reluctant to hand over cash to him, but she offered to pay off his creditors. Thereupon the man flew into a rage and stormed out. hurling his Parthian shaft that she would read of his death in the morrow’s papers. The lady was terrified. She could not run after the man. In her distress she thought of Maiji and at once rushed to his bungalow. There she found a majestic lady of divine aspect standing guard at the door; she told the visitor, “ My son is having a nap, Don’t disturb him. Your brother will return in an hour and a half”. So the distressed lady went back to her house. And the truant brother returned as prophesied by the Door-keeper.
Madras Devotee’s Acquittal. Another devotee had an almost identical experience; only this time it was a dream. A staunch Mai-devotee was prosecuted for a crime he had not committed. He was so unnerved that he decided to go to Poona and explain matters to Maiji. He was a resident of Madras, had neither seen Maiji nor visited Poona; but he was a good Mai-ist keeping in touch with the Saint through letters. The night after he decided to visit Maiji, he had a very vivid dream wherein he saw Maji sleeping in a room and Mother walking about. When the accused devotee entered the room, Mother said: “Don’t disturb him. he is fast asleep after a bitter weeping, you may go; you will be acquitted”. The devotee promptly wrote to Maiji about the strange
dream and requested for directions. The saint wrote back asking for a detailed description of the room, the arrangement of the furniture, the colour of the counterpane, the number of mattresses and pillows etc. The dream had been so vivid that the devotee could give an exact description of the room. Maiji assured him in the next letter that there was no need for him to visit Poona and that he had only to continue to pray. The man was tried and acquitted.
All – Faiths Conference
In June 1933, the sponsors of the All-Faiths Conference at Nasik invited Maiji to Speak on ‘God as Mother’. His Holiness Dr. Kurtakoti Sankaracharya presided. It was a gathering of great men of various religions. Two incidents happened there which proved to all who had gathered there that Maiji was not an ordinary religionist but one who had realized God.
Mother’s Picture is too heavy.
Due to unexpected heavy rains, the road from the Nasik Road Railway Station to the Conference Hall had become unfit for motor traffic. All had to walk. Maiji’s bags were carried by volunteers. One of them offered to carry Mother’s Picture which Maiji had in his hand. The latter said;“ || doubt if Mother would let anyone else carry Her. She is obstinate in some matters. You can try”. The young boy of twenty could not lift the picture. Maiji had to carry It all the way.
Maiji wanted a few card-size pictures taken from the picture he carried and called a photographer. The latter tried six times but could not get a negative. This inexplicable failure of an expert Photographer, accustomed to take good pictures of even moving objects, to copy a simple picture created a sensation. Concealing his discomfiture, the artist requested Maiji to pray for his success in the next attempt. Maiji prayed; a good picture was the result.
There was a sequel to the incident. A few years later an eminent doctor in charge of a hospital, who was inclined to be an agnostic though he was in sympathy with the principles of Mother’s Lodge, came to know of the incident of the photographer at Nasik. He immediately approached Maiji accompanied by a photographer to see if the report he had heard could be verified. Again the Picture refused to be photographed in spite of best efforts.
The scientific brain of the doctor refused to surrender. He said ” If at any time, by any photographer, in any place, it is impossible to get the picture, that will prove that there is a higher power which baffles all human attempts’ ‘. Maiji humorously replied: “That is all right. But excuses why the picture could not be photographed will never be wanting. It should be enough if you make your best efforts and you fail to have the photograph. If you insist that every occasion out of hundreds the photographs should be impossible, you tie down Mother to obedience and delimit Her unlimited supremacy over physical laws. You are ordering Her to obey your commands. She may or may not permit the picture being photographed, but the onus must be on you to explain why it was not photographed with all your possible care and precaution”.
Phool Chunan Ko Jayre Meri Maiya
Poona was scourged by a virulent outbreak of plague in 1933. Despite determined efforts by the department of Health, mortality continued to mount. People left the city in large numbers.
Maiji had his residence in Toddiwala Road. A pious woman living next door to Maiji had a dream one night. She heard Mother telling her that all persons who would attend Mai-Worship at her a neighbor’s place would escape the epidemic. The next morning he told Maiji about it. The saint suggested it might well be the result of her intense desire to attend the worship. She was of wurse welcome but all who would like to join could not be accommodated in the limited space available. The woman was hurt at the saint’s interpretation of her dream. In a tone of distress tinged with anger, she pointed out: “ Dreams are not your monopoly sir, I have seen-actually seen-Mother going out of your house into the garden, She does so every morning at about 5 a.m. Mother is living in your place, and my dream cannot be as unreal as you make it”. Maiji stared at the visitor. She stood her ground firmly but respectfully. Uprightness was evident on her face.
As Maiji was in the habit of going to bed very late and waking up very late, he asked his servant to watch out for the opening of the front door at dawn. Next morning, the man saw to his utter amazement, the front door being unlatched by invisible hands. The door opened and closed quietly. Nobody was to be seen anywhere. When the matter was reported to Maiji, he took an additional precaution the following night. He locked the door from inside and kept the key. The next morning the saint was roused from sleep by the servant’s shouts. The lock had been broken and the doors were swinging freely on the hinges. Maiji rushed out and was just in time to see Mother disappearing with a bunch of flowers. “Bagan me Phool Chunan Ko Jayre Meri Maiya”, sang Maiji in great delight. (In the garden, flowers to pluck, goes my Mother).
The lady’s dream was obeyed. All were allowed to join the worship Several persons attended and all of them were saved from the pestilence.
Two residents of Surat were in great trouble. Their brother was missing. All their attempts to trace him were futile. Finally they went to a pious woman, a devotee of Mai, for help and advice. She gave them a tip.“ Go to Poona, and see Rev. Mai Swarupa. He is very hospitable and would offer you tea or food. Refuse to take anything until he says,” You will find your brother”. The brothers made good use of advice. Maiji was a little annoyed when they insisted they would take food only if He said the five words.” You will find your brother”. In the end He yielded and said “All right, you will find your brother. Now come and take food”. The brothers took lunch and left. That evening Maiji received a telegram that the missing brother had been found. This is an example of Vachan Siddhi, Mai’s Grace of fulfilling Her devotee’s word. Jai Mai.
District Collector Becomes Mai-ist Overnight
In or about the year 1933, Sri A.S. Mundkur, Collector of Belgaum was camping in the travellers’ bungalow at Nipani. Maiji as land acquisition officer happened to be occupying another block in the same building. The two officers got acquainted and became friends.
One Friday evening Maiji was sitting in his room. He had to go to Belgaum in an hour to conduct Mai Worship that night. As there was enough time, he was sitting before Mai’s Picture praying. Just then, the Collector entered the room without observing any formality and saw his friend praying. Now, Sri Mundkur was an agnostic. Practice of religion was his bete noire. Being by nature an outspoken man, he said without mincing words: “What do I see? Do you believe in religion, after all your education and contact with science?”. Maiji was taken aback by the violent though sincere outburst of Sri Mundkur. He nodded affirmatively, but before he could say anything, the other continued; “I hate religion, it is a great humbug; it has created so much havoc in the world”. He went on in the same strain for the time and when he stopped, Maiji gently joined the issue by saying, “You may have your reasons for what you have been saying.Now, is there a God?”.” There may be”, the other answered. “But not the way you…“ Maiji interrupted his remark saving. “Do you agree that there must be some law for the smooth running of the world?”“Surely”, countered the other, “But not such foolish”. Again the saint interposed; “If you were the legislator, what would you lay down?”,“Nothing, nothing at all”, the Collector thundered, “Only, live without hurting others; help others as much you can”. Maiji suavely asked, “If religion means this…” It was Mundkur’s turn to interrupt; he did it in a heated manner and vociferated: “Don’t pull my leg. I was not born yesterday. I have studied all religions; I have had discussions with Swamijis, Moulvis and Reverends. I know there is none”.
It was about time for Maiji to leave for Belgaum. So he suggested the discussion might be continued later as he had to catch a bus in a few minutes. Sri Mundkur politely offered his car, adding a trifle triumphantly: “That is my religion, to put my car at your service”. The saint thanked him and before entering the car gave him a copy of Mother’s Message’ (which contained, in short compass, the essential features of Mai-ism) and requested him to glance through it.
On his return from Belgaum the next morning, Maiji was agreeably surprised to find the District Collector running down to open the door of the car repeating “Jai Mai”. Anticipating the Saint’s question, Sri Mundkur said “Conversion in a night! Universal. No bitterness of individual religions!!! Religion itself means Love and Service. Even an atheist is religious if he lives the life of Love and Service. Wonderful!”
They became life-long friends. Sri Mundkur used to approach Maiji in all difficult situations, whether temporal or spiritual. When some Christian Missionaries of Ratnagiri took charge of two Hindu orphans, there was great uproar among the people and in the Press. Sri Mundkur in whose jurisdiction the event had taken place came in for much adverse criticism. He sought and got Maiji’s advice. As suggested by Maiji, the Collector announced that any Hindu was free to take charge of the children within ninety days, after which time, if nobody came to do it in the meanwhile, the Missionaries would adopt them. That gave the quietus to the agitation. Needless to say none came forward.
Mai-ism Makes Headway
Jyoti’ a local newspaper of Nadiad had on its editorial staff, a pious man by name Keshavlal B. Pandya. Having heard and read glowing reports about Maiji and Mai-ism, Keshavlal went to Poona to meet the Founder. However, the orthodox Sanatanist was very much disappointed with the discussion he had with the saint. There was no reference to Adwaita, no talk about Atma-Paramatma, Vyashti Samashti, Microcosm-Macrocosm interconnections, no mention of the Vedas, no quotations from the Upanishads or the Geetha, Maiji talked in plain language about Universality, Love, Service, Devotion and Surrender to the Divine Will. Even Amba, Kali or Bhavani was not mentioned. Reference was only to Universal Mother Mai.
At the end of the talk Maiji suggested they might worship Mother. The dejected visitor said he did not mind. But the usual paraphernalia of orthodox Hindu worship was not found there and he was at a loss how to worship. When he expressed his difficulty, Maiji simply said,” Do whatever you like, Sing, dance, meditate, prostrate, do what you like best. There is no stereotyped method in Mother-Worship”.
Keshavlal offered to do Arathi. Camphor was put on a plate and lighted. Repeating the hymn that is usually repeated on
on such occasions, the visitor began to wave the light in front of Mother’s Picture. Before he could complete the first line of the second verse, Keshavlal had full Vision of Mother. The plate crashed to the floor as he fell unconscious. When he came to, the man began to roll on the ground, sobbing, shedding profuse tears and saying “Oh, Mother, I did not know Thee! I did not recognise Thy Devotee”.
It took quite a long time for Keshavlal to return to normal. When at last he did, Maiji asked him if he had any difficulty in making spiritual progress. “What more do I want?” Was the grateful rejoinder; “You have showered on me the Actual Vision of Mother. You have introduced me to Mother. What more do I need?”.
Before taking leave, Keshavlal volunteered to do Mai’s work, much to the gratification of the Saint who gave him a sanctified Picture of Mother with his blessings.
Keshavlal put his best foot foremost and worked diligently for the propagation of Mai-ism. Jyoti’ had been renamed ‘Shakti’. Maiji regularly contributed articles to the paper. Public opinion gradually began to appreciate and accept the principles of Maiism; the untiring zeal of Keshavlal (who came to be known as Kanishta Keshav) and his brother Markandray Vasavda (Mai Kalapi) helped the movement considerably. Nama yajna was organized by the brothers. Several crores of times the Mantra Jal Mai’ was written by thousands of devotees from several cities, towns and villages. More than a hundred Mai Mandals were organized at different places each with a membership of 100 to 125.
A few years later, Keshavlal felt like renouncing the world.
After a long talk, Maiji convinced him that he could work out his salvation even without taking Sannyasa.
The mistake that earned a dividend
A woman living with her daughter in the suburbs of Poona, decided one day to pay a visit to a friend living in the city. She went alone asking her daughter to follow after finishing the household chores. The girl after completing her work went to the building her mother had gone to. She knew the building but not the number of the flat her mother was visiting. So, she knocked at random at a door which was opened by a middle-aged man of gentle and noble aspect, with a smile of welcome on his face. “Is mother here?” Asked the girl with the innocence and directness characteristic of adolescence. “Yes yes, She is here. Come in”, replied the gentle host. Together they entered a room and Maiji-for it was he who had opened the door-took the young visitor to Mother’s picture, did Arathi and gave her Prasad. The girl was well-bred; she did not show her surprise and disappointment, but took the prasad, thanked her self-appointed host and left.
The girl located her mother in another flat and related her adventure. Together they went to Maiji’s room as the elder woman had heard about the saint. The latter realized the mistake he had made and felt a bit ashamed. He also felt grateful to the girl for having accepted his hospitality without showing any displeasure. He addressed the visitors: “I am Mother-mad. If anybody mentions mother, I immediately assume that Universal Mother is meant”. To the girl he said, ” You are a wise girl. If you have any trouble, I will ask Mother to remove it”. It was the older woman who replied: “We are unhappy Si, her husband is in Africa ”. Between sobs she added: “No letters, no money”. Maiji placed his hand over the girl’s head and said consolingly, ” Be of good cheer. In nine weeks you will get both a letter and money from your husband”. The prophecy was fulfilled within the time mentioned.
Bulbs burn without electricity:
Vachan Siddhi Again
Young Mrs. Desai, member of a wealthy aristocratic family, was an ardent admirer of Maiji. She had very little religion, she never did any worship, never repeated any prayers, never made any offering to Mai. But she had absolute faith in the saint. She had hypnotised herself into thinking that Mai-Swarupa was Mai in human form and that whatever he promised must happen. There were many instances. She would approach the saint with the obstinacy of a spoiled daughter and wheedle him into promising that so and so would get a promotion in service, that such and such student would pass the examination, etc. as the occasion demanded. All those promises were redeemed by the Grace of Mai.
One evening she happened to accompany Maiji from Dadar to Sion. Due to stormy weather, the current had been cut off and the whole locality was in darkness. Maiji and the party had gone to a Mai-devotee’s house. When food was served Mrs. Desai refused to eat and obstinately asked Maiji to order the lights to burn saying she would not touch food unless the lights came on. Just to please the devotee who was like a daughter to him, Maiji prayed for the lights to burn at least for the duration of their eating. And Lo! immediately lights in the room began to burn.
Mrs. Desai was once foolish enough to advise Maiji to practice Pranayam. The saint declined to do as desired by her. That evening, she had a strange experience. When she was sitting alone in her room, she suddenly began to see Mother’s Forms everywhere, on the walls, on the Sofa, on the chairs; wherever
she looked she saw Mother. She got frightened and rushed to Maiji and begged pardon for having given him officious advice. Maiji accompanied her to her room and all became normal.
Mother Acts as Nurse;
Mother Sees a Picture
Maiji was transferred to Ahmedabad in 1934. The news of the Sisters’ Social at Poona and the opening of the Mother’s Lodge had preceded him. The local newspapers had given a good write-up about Mai-ism and Maiji. So it was easy for him to get the cooperation of the intelligentsia for spreading Mai-ism. The Theosophical lodge particularly extended full co-operation.
In September 1934 Maiji was taken ill and was admitted into the Government Hospital. On 13 September an operation was done.
God in many roles God always takes good care of the devotee and in so doing, often plays strange roles and does amazingly odd things. Lord Sri Rama ate with gusto the half-chewed fruits offered by Sabari. Lord Shiva felt happy to receive on his face the gargle of the hunter Kannappan. For twelve long years did Lord Krishna do menial work in the house of Eknath. When Sakhubai was tied to a pillar and locked up in a room by her husband and his parents to prevent her from going to have darshan of Lord Vithal of Pandharpur, the Lord Himself assumed the form of Sakhubai and allowed Himself to be tied up in place of the devotee enabling her to go. Kabir’s wife, who had sold herself to a rich antinomian rake in exchange for food to feed her guests, was rescued by God arriving in the nick of time in the guise of a policeman. Narasimha Mehta, in dire need of money for his daughter’s marriage was told in a dream to draw a hundi on Seth Samaldas and Lord Krishna himself appeared as Samaldas and accepted the hundi.To avert trouble to Guru Nanak, the Lord mercifully ed the granaries depleted by Nanak who had made free tribution of the grains among the hungry. Bhakthasikhamani Poonthanam, who was attacked by two robbers in a lonely place. be saved by Lord Krishna appearing as a soldier at the crucial moment.
It is not surprising, therefore, that when Maiji was in the hospital, Mai played the part of a nurse.
At 2 a.m. on the night of the operation, Maiji lay in bed swathed in bandages. He was restless and had severe pain. It was calm and quiet outside. The entire hospital seemed asleep except Maiji. In that stillness there was a gentle rustle of silk near the saint’s bed. He saw with half-closed eyes the beautiful majestic form of Mai bending over him, gently untying the bandage and bestowing a benign glance on the wound. Immediately all physical pain stopped. Mother had two female attendants by Her side. Carefully and unhurriedly the self-appointed Nurse restored the bandage to its original position and left the room followed by Her assistants. Three successive nights (13th, 14th and 15th September 1934) Mother made Her appearance. The third night (15th), the patient moved his hand over the bandage to make sure he was not imagining the Presence of Mai. Mother smiled and left; She did not appear the following night. Doubts began to assail Maiji. Had he been dreaming? Had he actually seen Mother?
(Another patient, one Thakore had been a silent witness of the whole incident and he broadcast the affair after le was discharged from the hospital. But that was much later. Maiji did not know that someone else had also seen the Presence).
The result of entertaining doubts about the Divine Ministrations was that Mother did not appear the fourth night(16th).
Next morning (17th) the scavenger of the hospital, a pious old man stood before Maiji with folded hands and said: “Sir, Matai did not come last night”. Maiji was stunned. Here was proof if any were needed that Mother had come three nights. The small remnant of doubt that lingered in the saint’s mind vanished. He felt like prostrating before the scavenger who not only had the good fortune to see Mother, but also had the capacity to accept what he saw without harboring doubts. Here was proof again, that riches, education, social position, good dress and bodily cleanliness were not indispensable for receiving Grace. Innate goodness and devotion were the essential requisites. After that Maiji made the man sit on a chair by his bed, whenever he entered the room.
Mother continued to be absent. Every night Maiji would wait for Mother, with hope, eagerness, expectation and a trace of anxiety. As night followed night without Mother making Her appearance, the saint became very sad. Five consecutive nights passed and no Mother. The next day was Friday the twenty-first of September. Maiji was in a state of unbearable mental agony. He almost reached breaking point. In a paroxysm of grief, he began to shed tears.
Can any mother look with unconcern on a dear child shedding tears, however neglectful or forgetful the child has been? To Mai Her beloved son’s sorrow was unbearable. She manifested Herself and peremptorily asked Maiji to stop weeping. She even playfully threatened to disown him if he shed any more tears. What a change was there in the atmosphere of the room! The clouds lifted; the sun shone; the slough of sorrow and despair was replaced by the solid comfort of Mother’s radiant Presence.
The Saint burst into song. “Hasane Hasaane Vali…” (Smiling and smile-evoking Mother…) was the song composed and sung impromptu by Maiji in an extremely ecstatic emotional effluence of exulted devotion. The song has been published along with other compositions in Kirtan Mala.
As stated before, there were two witnesses who had seen her in the hospital, the patient Thakore and the scavenger. Quite naturally the whole neighborhood came to know about the incident. It might well be that Mother wanted it that way and had planned the incident as a mode of making Maiji and Maiism better known to the people. It also serves to show that Mai has chosen Maiji as her Apostle. The following incident will further support the statement.
Why Markand Mai?
Jai Mai Jai Markand Mai’ is the most powerful basic Mantra in Mai-ism. One day a devotee named Gopal asked Maiji why the name Markand should be coupled with Mai’s name. He was of the view that ‘Jai Mai Jai Gopal Mai’ would be equally effective in affairs concerning himself. Not being able to answer the point without unduly praising Himself, Maiji kept silent. Not long afterwards Gopal had a fever. He repeated ‘Jai Mai Jai Gopal Mai’, No result. He then tried simple ‘Jai Mai’. No result yet. Suddenly he heard a voice saying “My son’s name is dearer to me than my own”. Gopal realized his mistake, began to repeat Jai Mai Jai Markand Mai ” and soon got better.
Mother sees a Picture
A young man became mentally unbalanced due to the untimely death of his beloved wife. His relatives who were followers of Maiji entrusted the youth to the care of the saint. Maiji accepted him as an inmate of his house and slowly and steadily brought him almost to normality by sweet and spiritual discussions. But one day the ward startled his host and mentor by saying: “Mai-kaka, Mother had come a little a while ago. She asked me to take you to the cinema”. Maiji stared at his protege in sorrow and disappointment. He tried to divert the other’s attention by a change of topic but the young man was tenacious, Nothing could deflect him from his purpose. He continued. “Mother said” Mai-kaka is over-worked. He needs some relaxation; perhaps, he thinks a religious worker would lose merit by seeing the cinema. Tell him I will be there. Bring him. Don’t fail. The saint feared that all his labors were lost. Anyhow he thought it would be wise to humor the other and began to talk as if going to the theatre was a normal and usual matter. Suddenly, he shot a question; “What Cinema? Which theatre? “Without stopping even for a second for reflection, the other said, “Why, The Globe, didn’t I tell you? Mother mentioned the Globe”.
The show at the Globe that day was “Maya Machendra”. Master and disciple took their seats and the show began. The young man was as restless as a cat on hot bricks. Every now and then he would leave his seat, go out and come back. Maiji also was restless-mentally. What could have gone wrong in his dealing with the young man? He seemed to be very much improved and now all of a sudden like a bolt from the blue the story of Mother’s wanting to see the cinema or Mother’s wanting him to see the cinema has been hurled at them. Or after all could it be… The lights came on for a short spell and the youngster began to shout “See there Mai kaka, there, there, there sits Mother on the balcony”. Maiji also had seen Mother and was gazing at Her in amazement. In a flash Mother left Her seat and went out. Maiji and his companion also hurried out, only to see Mother entering a car and disappearing.
1935 – 1936
Mother lights the way
Maiji was in Ahmedabad in 1935. He was rather impatient at the slow progress of Mai-ism. One midnight, he left his residence in disgust and went out into the street saying: “This is Thy world. Thou and Thy world. Do whatever Thou likest. The response of the world is Thy doing. I have nothing to do with it”. The serried rows of bungalows facing the street were all in complete darkness, the inmates presumably having retired for the night. As Maiji walked along the street, a very curious thing happened; a light would open from every fourth bungalow; as each succeeding light opened the preceding one was closed. It looked as if the lights opened of their own accord to help Maiji see his way. This happened the whole way from Pritamnagar to Bhadra. Suddenly Maiji began to laugh realizing Mother’s playfulness and retraced his steps with the same lights opening and closing as before. Not long thereafter he became acquainted with Kaushik Ram Mehta.
Kaushik Ram Mehta was an erudite scholar and writer, well versed in the Vedas, the Upanishads and the Shastras; he truly represented the ethos of the orthodox community to which he belonged. He was a staunch establishmentarian of the Hindu rituals, worship and prayer. However, he was blessed with a sense of moderation and tolerance and was willing to view new ideas with an unbiased mind. He had heard reports of Maiji’s personal dealings with Mother and of his ability to intercede with Her for removing the miseries of others. But he would not take the reports for gospel. He would himself test Maiji before deviating from established practices.
One such established practice was the exclusion of Harians from congregational worship conducted by orthodox Hindus. The famous Bhadrakali Hall on the bank of river Sabarmathi was once made available to Maiji for lecture and worship. But there was a string attached to the permission. The sacred precincts of the hall were not to be polluted by the presence of Harijans. Needless to say Maiji declined the offer.
It may be happily recorded here that eminent persons like Sri A.G.Usman, Sri Maherjibai Ratoora, and Sri A.S.Ayyangar (muslim, parsi and hindu respectively) gave unstinted support to Maiji because of the universality preached by him.
Kaushik Ram made several tests for about a year, to understand and assess the extent of Maiji’s powers. One test was that Maiji’s figure should appear to him during meditation. The subtle unspoken challenge was suitably and promptly answered. When at his usual time of meditation, he tried to concentrate his mind on his favorite Deity, he found, to his utter bewilderment and amazement that the form of Mai Swarupa occupied his mental screen to the exclusion of everything else. Try he never did so hard, he could not banish Maiji’s form from his mind. And Kaushik Ram was a meditator of not mean order.
One day the Sanatanist leader said to himself “Well, I want Mai Swarupa to come to me immediately.” Within a minute the saint was found walking towards him.
One more test may be mentioned. Kaushik Ram was on way to his house in Surat. He said to himself. “I shall return in a few days and go straight to the Bhadrakali temple during office hours. If instead of being in his office I find the land acquisition officer in the temple I shall know that he is no ordinary man. That too happened.
Finally, Kaushik Ram Mehta and others of his way of thinking concluded that whether you accepted the teachings of Mai-ism or not, Mai Swarupa had great influence with Mother, Kaushik Ram openly prostrated before Maiji and addressed him as Pratyaksha Mai (Visible Mother). He actively began the work of propagating Mai-ism. It was a wonderful transformation from orthodox conservatism into altruistic cosmopolitanism. The transformation will be evident from the following sentences extracted from a letter sent by Mehta to Maiji: “You have been revising the deepest and subtlest truths known hitherto only to Gurus or Masters but hidden from the laity. As skepticism and rebellious spirit go hand in hand with the increasing intelligence of the age, it needs the higher type of spiritual exposition which Mai has entrusted you with”.
When Maiji was transferred to Poona, he made Kaushik Ram Mehta President of the Mother’s Lodge at Ahmedabad.
Parixit Raiji: On his way to Poona Maiji was met at Bombay by Parixit Raiji, the son-in-law of Kaushik Ram. Raiji was employed in Bombay and liked the place. But he expected better salary at Ahmedabad and was wistfully considering whether he should leave Bombay or not. When he explained his position, Maiji assured him he would prosper in Bombay if he would conduct Mai Worship regularly on Fridays. Raiji agreed and Mai was installed in his house in Tagore Road, Santa Cruz. That was in 1936; in a very short time Raiji became very prosperous.
Mataji: Mention has been made in chapter XII about a saintly woman who was called Mataji by her followers. In 1936, Maiji happened to meet her at a friend’s house. Mataji resented the respect people showed Maiji. She scoffed at Maiji by asking: “Do you think mere knowledge is God’s Grace? Can you say what is happening now in Bombay or Ahmedabad? Show me what powers you have”. Maiji meekly stated he was a me nothing. That night the lady had a dream in which her Guru residing in Mount Abu appeared to her and sternly reprimanded her for having insulted an exalted personage, whom he himself held in high esteem. The next morning the lady went and apologized to Maiji for her words.
Mataji had a few hundreds of staunch followers including some persons of high social standing. Once there was great dissatisfaction among the inhabitants of Mount Abu against the imposition of a new tax. Mataji’s followers looked upon her as their saviour. She had to do something. In a fit of bravado she said she would march at the head of her followers and smash the government. She must have fully realised the futility of the proposed action. So after marching for some distance she suddenly stopped and said she should consult her friend Mai Swarupa before going further. As she had foreseen. Maiji dissuaded her from doing anything rash. That was a face-saving piece of advice which enabled her to withdraw without loss of prestige.
1937 – 1938
Miss Elizabeth Sharpe, F.R.G.S., F.R.E.S., M.R.A.S etc. had become famous as a social worker. She had done commendable work in stopping animal sacrifice in the name of Mother at Kathiawar. She had heard of Maiji and his work and wrote to Maiji giving her full support and encouragement to Mai-ism activities. Maiji has recorded that Rev. Sister Sharpe had an exalted and true notion of Mother as mother.
Anantakrishna Shastriji: His commentaries in English on the Lalitha Sahasra Nama are acknowledged on all hands to be
the most authoritative. But they were in accordance with the orthodox Hindu conceptions of God. Maiji wrote his own commentary harmonising the text with the principles of Maiism. He changed a few words, deleted a few names and added some new ones. He gave his own explanations and meanings to the various names. Before sending the matter to the press he desired to get Shastriji’s views about his book. It has to be mentioned that Shastriji was a man of indomitable spirit who had once fearlessly dictated terms to a ruling Maharaja. He never bowed to anybody. Any applicant requiring his help had to go to him. But when he received Maiji’s letter requesting him to peruse the manuscript he actually went to Maiji accompanied by his scholarly wife Smt. Parvati Ammal.
It was the morning of Friday 29 October 1937. Both Shastriji and his wife had perused the manuscript. Maiji wanted to know whether any changes were necessary. The visiting Savant replied. “You are specially chosen by Mother for this. How can I dare break the Sanctity by my human dabbling ? This is dictated by Mai Herself”. Just then Parvati Ammal intervened and said “I beg to differ from Shastriji”. Maiji was taken aback. He respectfully stated that her suggestions would be accepted. The lady thereupon laughed and said: “I have no suggestions, Shastriji said Mai has dictated the whole thing. I say Mai Herself has written the entire manuscript. That is the difference.”
In April 1938, Maiji was speaking to the devotees of Ahmedabad after Friday worship. The subject happened to be the names Suvasini and Suvasinyarchanapreetha (970 and 971 of Lalitha Sahasranama). When the meaning was being explained, there wafted into the hall, most unaccountably, a very delicious fragrance to the utter delight and amazement of all present.
Garland falls on devotee
It was June 3, 1938. Maiji was talking to a circle of devotees about the need for spreading the gospel of universal love and service amongst all, assuring them that Mother would help those who served others. Then Maiji looked at Mother’s Picture and asked: “Mother, am I not right? Please tell me”. As if in answer, flowers and garlands on the picture slowly slipped and fell into the lap of a devotee. It was not a sudden fall; first one garland slowly untwined itself from the nails and gradually fell; then the second and then the third.
Two other important incidents that happened in 1938 – the settlement of the Hindu-Muslim dispute at Nasik and the incident of the aggressive beggar, who broke Maiji’s fingers have been narrated in chapters XV and X respectively.
1939 – 1941
Mai garlands Maiji A year after the incident of the Divine Fragrance narrated in the previous chapter, Maiji was again in the prayer hall at Ahmedabad. Some devotees happened to refer to the mysterious perfume that had whiffed into the hall in April 1938, when the Saint was explaining the words, “Suvasini” and “Suvasinyarchana Preetha”. Thereupon some others requested Maiji to show some miraculous happening which would increase their faith in Mother and Her readiness to help Her devotees. “What do you want to see?”, asked the saint. One devotee said he would like to see Mother give Her garland to Maiji.
Maiji stood at a respectable distance and prayed. Nearly a third of the circumference of the garland had been pressed between the wall and the top edge of the picture-frame. There was no wind. Not a leaf stirred in the compound. As Maiji stood praying, the garland gradually got loose, flew in the air, fell over his head and settled on his shoulders. It was as if an unseen hand had slowly and deliberately removed the garland from the picture and put it on Maiji!
Fire blazes from the wet altar
At Ville Parle (Bombay), a devotee had made elaborate arrangements for the celebration of Navaratri in October 1939. Several people had been invited. Maiji was the chief guest. As ill-luck would have it, heavy rains fell and the whole place was drenched. The sacrificial altar was full of water. Everyone was disappointed. An atmosphere of gloom pervaded the scene. The host was stricken with sorrow. Maiji’s kind words could not console him. He began to lament that he had somehow incurred Mother’s displeasure, and She was meting out this punishment to him.
Maiji stood beside the altar and addressed Mother aloud in tones of deep devotion: “Mother, who will be Thy devotee if Thou dost not give encouragement and proof of Thy Mercy at every step? See, here is Thy devotee; he is depressed. The world lashes us and Thou dost not take any heed. Does it befit Thee? Does it befit the Divine Mother, The Most Merciful Mai?”
No sooner were these words uttered than there was a blaze of fire as high as seven feet above the wet altar. The blaze remained for about ten minutes till Arti was finished.
“Mother and Mother’s Thousand Names” (covering over 750 pages) was published in 1940-1941.
The Uncanny Bitch
Maiji was in Hubli in 1942. The very first Friday after his arrival there, a very grand Mai-worship was held in his bungalow with plenty of rich sweets as prasad. During distribution of sweets a bitch happened to stray into the hall and was mercilessly driven out with sticks by the devotees, much to the disgust and displeasure of the saint.
It was past midnight when the last of the devotees left. All alone in the bungalow Maiji locked the doors and went and stood before Mai’s Picture, with mixed feelings of pleasure and pain.. pleasure at the unexpectedly large attendance at the worship so soon after his arrival and pain at the merciless treatment of the poor animal. After communing with Mother for a short time, he laid himself down to sleep, foregoing food in poignant memory of the bitch chased out unfed. Then, the most amazing thing happened. The bitch he had seen running out of the hall to the accompaniment of vociferous shouts and waving of sticks slowly crawled out from beneath his bedstead. It licked his face and with its teeth gently clamped on his garment tried to drag him towards the kitchen. Maiji felt immeasurably happy. He led his canine guest to the kitchen, worshipped it, caressed it and shared food with it. With tears of joy he went to bed again, thinking of the ineffable playfulness of Mother. After a while he looked around to see how his self-invited guest was faring. It was nowhere to be seen. All the doors had been locked but the creature had disappeared as mysteriously as it had appeared.
In the Witness Box
A large area of land had been acquired for the purpose of building a college in Poona. Maiji as Land Acquisition Officer had prepared his valuation. The owner of the land was dissatisfied with the compensation fixed by Maiji and took the matter to
court. He engaged an eminent lawyer from Bombay to conduct his case, Maiji was the most important witness for the State. The Counsel from Bombay found to his chagrin that he was not making any progress in his attempt to shake the evidence of the Land Acquisition officer and that he was unable to make any dent in Maiji’s expertise on Land Acquisition. Suddenly he changed his method and going far afield began asking questions which were not quite proper. The saintly witness smiled and said the question was not germane to the point in issue. The courthall was crowded with litigants and others who had gathered to see a distinguished lawyer in action. The Counsel felt offended at the answer given by the witness and shouted that the witness should not arrogate to himself the powers of an opposing counsel or the court. The witness stood his ground and continued to smile. There was an atmosphere of tension which was relieved by the judge who said that he agreed with the witness that the question was irrelevant.
The Twelve Day’s Blast
Poets have likened the human mind to a wild monkey, wandering, intractable, unpredictable. No doubt great men have power to control the mind to some extent-only to some extent. By harnessing their higher powers, they can manage to make their mind dwell on any specific object or idea for a given length of time. However, it would be an entirely different proposition if they are required to keep their mind continuously on a particular thing during all their waking hours for several days; that would be a trifle too difficult to accomplish.
Maiji had an extraordinary experience which lasted twelve days. It began by his getting a burning sensation if he thought of anything except Love, Service, Devotion and Surrender. He was not allowed to think of his office, his friends, his relations, his family, his food. If the mind strayed for a fraction of a second to anything – anything-whatever-other than Love, Service Devotion and Surrender, he felt a severe hot blast. Suppose a man sitting at noon in an airconditioned room in very hot weather suddenly finds that the air conditioner fails to function and the windows on opposite sides of the room burst open making hot air rush in enveloping him, what would be his feeling ? That was how Maiji felt every time his mind dwelt on things other than the four themes permitted. After a few days the range of thought was further restricted. He could think only of MOTHER. No adjective or qualifying words were permitted. If he thought “Mother is mine” or “Mother is merciful” or “Mother is Universal ” the hot blast would assail him. Only one idea, MOTHER, was allowed. The suffering was often unbearable, because the restriction in thought had to be observed during all the waking hours for days on end. After twelve long interminable days the phenomenon disappeared suddenly. It was not a gradual slackening of the blast, but a sudden cessation. Maiji felt that every tissue and atom of his body had been re-formed.
Before long there was adequate compensation for the nerve racking experience described in the preceding paragraph. In the small hours of a morning Maiji was sitting on a wooden seat in his prayer room. With him was his constant devotional friend and admirer Rev. V.L.Baddi. (Reference to this V.L.Baddi had already been made in chapter XVIII. He was the disciple of the great Rama-devotee Tammanna Sastri). Suddenly, Maiji began to hear sweet music of a most divine and soul-satisfying melody. Now, there was a radio artiste living in the adjoining flat. Maiji wondered whether she would sing at 2 a.m. and whether even if she would, she or anyone else for that matter-could sing so well. When he asked his companion’s opinion, the latter said he did not hear any music from anywhere and added there was no sign of any activity in the neighboring flats. Maiji thought for a moment, got up from the wooden seat and asked Baddiji to take the seat. Then the music was audible to Baddiji but inaudible to Maiji. They took turns on the seat and every time the occupant of the seat heard the music. The tune was Lalit Pancham. After some time they decided to go to sleep. Another mystery was awaiting them. The moment lights were extinguished there was a pleasant peal of thrilling laughter from a corner of the room as though somebody was happy at having played a joke.
Maiji wrote to a religious friend about the two weird experiences- the twelve day’s blast and the celestial music. The reply was couched in these terms: “Mother is fondingly playing with you. The second experience is only making amends for the first. You were burnt with scorches for twelve days, as that was considered necessary by Mother. She has given you then the sweetest music one can ever hear as the divine medicine to restore your mental normality”.
Rao Saheb On 11.6.1942 Maiji was awarded the title of Rao Saheb in recognition of his good service. Thenceforward he was known as Rao Saheb M.R.Dholakia in official circles.
The moving chandeliers Brother Bagnur of Hubli was employed in the Railways on a small salary. He was a staunch Mai-devotee. He lived a happy and contented life, though he had many financial problems.
Once in 1943, when Maiji was camping at Hubli in his official capacity, he was invited to Bagnur’s place. Many persons had
gathered there to have darshan of the Saint and to participate in the Mai – worship.
When the worship was over, Maiji asked: “Mother, art Thou satisfied?” Bagnur was overwhelmed on hearing these words and said in a most pleading and devotional tone: “Mother, tell us plainly how I have treated Thee. If not for my sake, speak for the sake of Thy Son here, who has been indentified with Thee.” Immediately the chandeliers hanging from the canopy over Mother’s picture began to swing to and fro and strike against one another. There was no wind, not even the slightest breeze, Not a leaf stirred in the garden outside. It was clear to one and all that Mother was answering Her devotee.
Another note-worthy incident that took place in 1943 was the construction of a Mai Temple in Rajkot.
Atheism washed away by sanctified water
For a long time Brother Dixit had been suffering from an almost incurable disease: excruciating pain in the rectum during evacuation. Every time it was an agonizing ordeal for him while straining at stools. Treatments known to medical science having failed, he resigned himself to the continuance of a life-long misery.
One day, a friend suggested that Dixit might profitably try religion to get relief and mentioned Maiji as the most likely person to help him. Now, Dixit, like the District Collector Mundkur mentioned in Chapter XXII, was a confirmed and militantly outspoken atheist. To him all religion was anathema. However, his wife and children persuaded him to consult Maiji. When, willy-nilly, he came face to face with Saint, he blurted out impudently that he was submitting himself to the antediluvian superstitious methods only out of regard for his family. Maj being quite familiar with atheists and their attitude did not take serious notice of the outburst. He sanctified a small quantity of water by repeating a mantra and asked Dixit to drink it. With a tolerant smile and an attitude of humouring an imbecile, the man swallowed the water. The very next time when he went to the water closet, there was such total alleviation of pain that he could hardly believe in his experience.
Was it a miracle? Assuredly not, thought Dixit who was a scientist. He would have no truck with any unexplained mystery. To his way of thinking, every so-called miracle was susceptible of explanation if only one would set about it in the right manner. His mind searched hard for a cause for the amazing effect. Finally he came to the conclusion that the effect of the medicines he had been taking must have synchronized with his swallowing the water given by Maiji. It seemed absurd to think that simple ordinary water over which a few words had been muttered could be more effective than the medicines developed with the experience of centuries since Charaka and Hippocrates.
Soon however, the conclusion had to be abandoned, because the next time when he tried to relieve nature he had severe pain. Then began a series of experiments lasting a few days. With the sanctified water inside, there was no pain at all; without it there was agony.
Still the man would not acknowledge the efficacy of the magnetized sacred water. His mind was ever busy finding out a reason for the strange effect of the water. After a while he trotted out the theory that the words uttered by Maiji created some particular phonetic and sonic vibrations, capable of attracting rare curative principles from the atmosphere. Rather annoyed by the obstinacy of the man, Maiji gave him the mantra and asked him to produce the vibrations. Dixit did everything that Maiji had been doing. There was a slight diminution in the pain but no complete mitigation. The process was repeated. When Dixit chanted the mantra the water gave partial relief; when Main did it, the relief was complete. At long last the atheist was converted.
Maiji delegated his powers of sanctifying water to Dixit’s daughter. The water she gave was fully effective. In the course of nine weeks the man was completely cured of his disease and also of his atheism.
The Scoffing Yogi Repents
A very learned and distinguished yogi of South India happened to be in Hubli in 1944 during his travels. He was a great scholar in English and Sanskrit. Having renounced the world, he was moving from place to place. He lived on milk and fruits.
The Mahatma came to hear of Saint Mai Swarupa, a person still in Government Service, but acclaimed by all as a man of divinity. The visiting saint was naturally interested in meeting the paragon and one day paid a visit to Maiji. The eminent visitor was received with great respect by Maiji, who spared no pains in ministering to the comforts of the guest.
It has to be borne in mind that Maiji had not taken Sannyasa. He never dressed in ochre robes. He led quite an ordinary life : no ostentation. no pretensions to saintliness, not one of the usual accessories of a resident Mahatma. There was hardly any routine in his day-to-day life. After returning from office he would be surrounded by devotees and admirers till late in the night; he would hold communion with Mother at midnight: thereafter he would attend to the work of writing-articles on Mai-ism, replies to letters from disciples, messages of comfort and advice to aspirants-and only thereafter would he go to sleep. The result was that he very often woke up only by about 8 or 9 in the morning.
The visitor talked a little contemptuously about his host’s devotional madness, his lack of regularity in daily life, even but his extreme kindness to apparently undeserving people. Maili was the embodiment of Love. He practiced what he preached. During a religious discourse he once quoted a famous author and said “Sweetness costs nothing, but it purchases everything”.) Here was a pure Jnani looking down with ridicule on a Bhakta. No doubt the visitor was a great man, unlike the arrogant ascetic (see chaper X) who threatened to turn Maiji into ashes and came to grief. But intellectual knowledge by itself does not take one far; it sometimes tends to make one egocentric.
That night the visitor had a strange dream. He was soaring over a mountain with his great yogic powers, when suddenly he lost his foot-hold and fell headlong into the ravine. Down, down he rolled. All his intellectual attainments, all his vast experience in the field of Yoga, were of no avail. By the time he reached the bottom his body was full of bruises but mercifully he was unconscious. When he regained consciousness, he found a beautiful lady was nursing him. She easily lifted him and carried him to the mouth of a cave. She then called out to her son to come and help her in her ministrations. The son who came out from the cave was none other than his host, Saint Mai-Swarupa. There the dream ended.
The yogi woke up with the realization that he had misjudged and belittled a great man. He showed his real greatness by prostrating before Maiji when the saint got up at his usual late hour.
Maiji’s official life came to a close in 1945 during his term ofservice in Hubli. He was granted a monthly pension of 114 Rupees.
Till that time, Mai-ism had a mobile center with its nucleus moving to different places-Poona, Hubli, Bombay, Ahmedabad and so on-where the saintly land acquisition officer was transferred by the government. Retirement from service made it necessary for him to find a permanent place to carry on Mother’s work to which he had irrevocably committed himself.
Maiji had very little money to buy land and build a suitable house. He, however, thought in his simple way that the very large number of persons, many of whom were rich, who had been relieved of their misery through his intercession with Mai would volunteer to help him. But he was sorely disappointed.
Different persons gave different excuses. One man wondered why there had to be a separate building for religious propaganda which could very well be done from a verandah. Another suggested Maiji should ask Mother to give him a first prize in a lottery. A third man offered substantial help if all Mai-ists would take policies in an Insurance Company of which he was agent. Another man said, “Mother, will do Her work if she wants. Why should you worry?”. A few persons offered to sell their lands to Maiji at a low price. There were four such offers. The title was defective in three cases and the ‘low price’ demanded by the fourth was far above the market rate. One man wanted to know what would happen to the money when Maiji was no more. Words, words, empty words, no help.
The position appeared to improve after a time. The husband of a rich lady of Bombay was very seriously ill and was feared to be on his death-bed. The anxious woman made a pious offering of five thousand rupees as donation if the patient could be cured. She had attended a few Mother’s Lodge meetings and had met Maiji. So, she wrote to him for relief. Maiji went to Bombay, gave instructions about repetitions of Mantras and making spiritualizedwater: he himself offered fervent prayers for three hours everynight. In a short time the patient got well and became normal. The saint naturally expected a generous donation.
There was a plot of land for sale in Hubli for Rs.2000/- Maiji took from his own purse Rs.1000/- and got the sale deed registered promising to pay the vendor the remainder in a short time. This was done in anticipation of the donation from Bombay.
Saint Mai-Swarupa has often emphasized the need for PROMPT payment of debts due to Mother. He has written an illuminating article on the subject. Each letter of the word PROMPT has been dealt with in detail, in so far as Mai-ists are concerned. Briefly, P stands for prayer, R for resoluteness, O for offering (donation), M for mantra repetition, P for personal relationship with God and Guru and T for thankfulness for the relief obtained. A rule of guidance has been laid down that the speed with which Mai comes to your rescue depends on the speed with which you give your thanks for favors already received
Instead of a few thousands he had expected from Bombay, what he actually received was a Money Order for Rs. 25/-.
Let us have a peep into Maiji’s diary and see what he has recorded on 20-7-45. “People are swinging between the old and the new religious ideals. They cherish the new ideals but support the old ones. It is hard to throw off the old yoke and still harder to be fair and liberal to both in the matter of giving solid encouragement. For relief of distress people come to Mai and for thanksgiving they go to their old deities. Mai will give a prosperous lift or avert some danger or calamity through a practical daily programme of mantras, name-repetition, worship,prayer, meditation, guidance, instruction, devotion and the some other deity or Asram”. A sad commentary on the attitude of recipients of favors.
Pranjiwan Devidas Dalal and his wife Smt. Susheela Dalal were staying with Maiji when he received the Rs.25/- from Bombay. The lady was suffering from tuberculosis of the lungs and her husband had thought of taking her to Miraj or Deolali. Being staunch Mai-ists they had sought Maiji’s advice on the choice of the health-resort and the saint had asked them to come down and stay with him in Hubli. They had not known about the Master’s expectation from the rich lady of Bombay nor about his sad predicament on receipt of Rs.25/-. But from the expression on the saint’s face they understood something was amiss. When they affectionately pressed for the reason Maiji explained the whole position and mentioned his immediate requirement of Rs.1000/- to pay off the vendor of the land. Without a second’s thought, Bro. Dalal gave him a cheque for Rs. 1000/ -. It was indeed a gesture of supreme devotion and personal affection. Maiji was overwhelmed. Quivering with emotion, he said “Mother Bless you my children”, then turning to Mother he said in a forceful manner:“Mother, don’t you see the difference between men and men. Remove this T.B.forthwith, Now, Now”. After a few minutes he turned to his guests and told them: ” Mother has taken away Susheela’s T. B. You go to Bombay and have her examined again. Even as you tore off my anxiety with the cheque. Mother has torn off your disease”. The couple gladly returned to Bombay and to their unbounded joy found on a second medical examination that all traces of T.B. had disappeared.
Smt. Susheela Dalal is the daughter of the Soparkars mentioned in chapter XII. In that chapter has been described the incident of the extension of life of Mrs. Soparkar by one week by Maiji’s prayers in 1931, after eminent doctors had lost all hope. Fourteen years thereafter, it was the daughter’s turn to be saved by Mai Grace. Speaking at the Sisters’ Social held at Calicut on 8.10.1954. Smt. Susheela Dalal adverted to the two incidents in these terms: “There is an incident narrated in ‘Maiism’that three eminent doctors gave their final verdict that certain respectable lady, the wife of the head of a department, would shortly die and that by the ardent tearful prayers of Mai Swarupa she got extension of life for full one week. I am blessed enough to be the daughter of that lady. There is a narration of the instance of Mother’s miraculous cure of a lady whose T.B. was annihilated all at once in a moment on the prayers and determined pressure on Mother by Mai Swarupa. This particular instance has been a Grace- Shower on this humble self-standing before you”.
(Bro. Dalal has been nominated by the Saint to be the chairman of the Board of Mai-ism Trust. The Dalals are now in Mumbai).
At the pressing request of the Dalals, Maiji left Hubli and went to Bombay. There, two adjacent plots of land in Santa Cruz West were soon purchased, one by Maiji and the other by the Dalals.
Funds for the construction of a building had to be found. It was for that purpose that Maiji had gone to Ahmedabad, was locked up in a room as a madcap by his elder relatives and released with suitable apology when the car carrying the offending relatives broke down twice (see chapter V).
At last Mother gave him a tip. He would do nothing to invoke Mother for the relief of others unless they promised to pay something. The sum to be paid was left to their discretion but nothing would be done free except for the really poor. Thereafter people requiring Maiji’s intercession with Mai began to approach him with donations. In short, a religious-relief-hospital began to
function and money began to come in. The incident of the cure of Smt. Susheela Dalal’s T. B. gave a fillip to the new venture. Jai Mai.
1949 (Mai Niwas)
The construction of Mai Niwas was a slow but steady process. It was completed by the end of February 1949. The building was in a lonely place at the western end of Saraswathi Road about a mile from Santa Cruz Railway Station. The surrounding plots had not been built upon. The nearest building was furlongs away. There was no electric connection.
Maiji wanted to make a formal entry into Mai Niwas all alone at midnight on a Friday. Without telling anybody about his desire, he chose 4th March as the suitable date. He had to travel by train from the Grant Road Station to Santa Cruz and then proceed on foot or by taxi. When he reached the station in time to catch the 11p.m. train, it so happened that a Mai-ist was on the platform. The latter offered to accompany the saint to Mai Niwas. He would not understand Maiji’s refusal to have company. In his well-meant but officious solicitude for Maiji’s comforts, he bought two tickets and travelled with the saint. Outside the station at Santa Cruz,, the self-appointed companion beckoned to a taxiwalla. Before the taxi came, however, the man felt such an intense pain in the stomach that he could not stand. Clutching his abdomen he fell down. Seeing the sudden debacle of his prospective fare the taxiwalla steered his vehicle away and left. The man on the ground was groaning. Maiji told him in a soothing voice: “Speak out that you are not going to accompany me and are returning home. Mother will remove your suffering”. The man at once said, “Since Mother and you are so insistent on the porn I am returning. The pain left him at once; he ran to the platform
and boarded a train that had just steamed in.
It was two minutes to midnight when Maiji reached Mai Niwas. It was a dark night. There was no street lamp near by. The whole locality was dark and deserted. Not a living soul anywhere near. As he approached the door, Maiji trembled a little, out of fear and in anticipation of something unusual- he knew not what – that he felt was going to happen that night. The something started when he failed to find the packet of candles and box of matches on the window sill where he had placed them on his previous visit. For some time he stood on the verandah and then suddenly began to laugh at the playfulness of Mother.
He opened the door and entered the hall. There, a shock was awaiting him. The Mother’s Picture he had kept there had inexplicably transformed itself into one of Bhadrakali, fierce and terror-inspiring, even in the starlight that came from outside through the open door. Maiji gazed at the phenomenon in utter dismay and disbelief; he shook with fright; he perspired; he felt helpless. He wondered whether the Mother Ideal’ he had been preaching for nearly two decades was to end in a complete fiasco.
Prostrating before the Picture and concentrating his mind on the Infinite Love that was Mother, he began to sing :
“Karuna Sen Abtaka Badha Karuna Sen Mili Mai.” (“I have grown old faring with Thy Mercy alone, With Thy Mercy alone! gained Thee…)
An amazing thing was happening as the singing continued. The Picture was getting phosphorescent, sending out rays of light in gradually increasing intensity. Slowly the Picture turned back into that of Mai… a gloriously luminous Mai.
In the bright light the missing candles and matches were located behind the picture far away from the window sill where they had been kept. Instead of ascribing the strange event to the playfulness of Mother, Maiji began to think whether anybody had played a trick on him. The moment such doubts assailed him the phosphorescence disappeared and the whole place became dark.
Rendered helpless by the burden of disappointment and sorrow, the saint casually looked out of the window. He received another jolt when he saw the silhouette of the head and shoulders of a man. Could it be a spook? Was it possible that he had been secretly followed from the Railway Station by a miscreant with the object of robbing him ? As a matter of fact it was Dev Sing, a Goorkah watchman employed by the owner of the adjoining vacant site. Though his duty was to commence only the following day, he had gone to the place immediately on being employed, as he had nowhere else to go. He had approached Mai Niwas out of curiosity to investigate the presence of the ‘elctric light’ which he thought he had seen distinctly. How was he to know of the phosphorescence created by Playful Mother ? Maiji was happy to have somebody to sleep on the verandah. He shared his food with Dev Sing.
All Mai-ists were soon informed about Maiji’s occupation of Mai Niwas. There was a grand Mai-worship on 1-4-49 attended by over 500 devotees.
Mai-ism Recognized in India and Abroad
The seed sown by Mai Swarupa sprouted and grew into a tree reaching out its branches to the distant parts of the world. There are more than a hundred Mai Mandals in the world; some of them are in Africa.
In 1955, Maiji was invited to participate in the World Peace Round Table Conference in Japan. His talk on Universal Maiism was so much appreciated there, that within thirty days of the Conference, The International Religious Federation (I.R.F.) took shape under the joint leadership of himself and Yonosuke Nakano the famous Founder of Ananai Kyo. The same year a Mai Sisters’ Social was held in Shimizu city with Rev. Sister Yoshiko Nakano as the president.
The Universal Humanist Cultural and Spiritual Alliance (briefly known as Universal Religious Alliance or U.R.A.) invited Maiji to attend their conference at Havana in 1959. Due to various reasons Maiji could not go; but he sent a thesis on Universal Religion. Rev. Duchesse Blanche Ledran, the Grand Chancellor of the U.R.A. explained the principles of Mai-ism to the General Assembly. 3800 persons from 96 countries attended the Conference which during its deliberations paid glowing tributes to Mai-ism couched in these terms: “We have received valuable literature from all quarters of the world. We particularly recommend Mai-ism and the Mai Institute of Santa Cruz West, Bombay”. In the General Elections that took place that year, Maiji was elected as one of the Vice-Presidents, his Portfolio being Peaceful Human Relations.
In 1960, Ernest Swift, Editor of “Steps Unto Him’ (Wiltshire, England), wrote in the June issue : “Mai Swarupa Mai Markand concerning whose work we wrote in a recent number, has reminded us of the ‘Raison d’Etre’ of his movement, which he prefers to call Religion’, not in the sense of a new form of hierarchy. It has its object to bring nearer all religions into one harmonious whole. The idea is to provide a centre in the shape of a religion where that which unites could be shared and developed. whilst each religion would retain its own forms and rituals. Mai-ism welcomes and respects all that is best in very religion and holds that there can be no such thing as ‘The Last Word’, if we have the wisest conception of the word. It stands for the Universality of God and keeps the door open for changes of approach as the world evolves”.
Another religious bulletin, ‘General Welfare’ (Trow-bridge. England) carried the following: “Mai Swarupa Mai Markand, Santa Cruz Bombay, sponsors a movement recognizing the Motherhood of God, to bring balance in our ideas of the Deity, religions to retain their individuality, but to be united in the Universal worship of one God and Creator”.
Joseph Headly an eminent thinker and religionist of England writing about Sharanagathi (Surrender to Divine Will) expounded by Maiji, says (Vide World Religion Congress Eighth Report): “Cheerful Self-Surrender to Mother’s Divine Will mentioned by Mai Swarupa signifies the necessity for every human being to merge his personal self-hood within the Divine Will and manifest the same in that greater conscious field of Universality”.
“The World’s Need And Mai-ism” is a masterly book by Ernest Kirk. Therein the learned author points out : “Mai-ism cuts off the Gordian knot by bringing into existence a new idea. There is no conflict or contradiction in any one having his individual religion for individual purposes of religious progress and yet having a Universal Religion of Universal God for universal purposes and considerations”.
Early in 1962 the Grand Patron of the U.R.A., H.H. Om Lind was arrested and imprisoned in Havana on suspicion of being involved in political activities. On 2-3-1962, Maiji received a letter from Colin Unwin of Australia (Founder of Unism Plan) requesting Maiji to do his part in getting the Grand Patron liberated. It was stated in the letter that as the general Assembly of the U.R.A. had elected Maiji as its Vice-President with the Portfolio of Peaceful Human Relations, it was his duty to take up the matter in all seriousness. A similarly worded letter was received from Germany also. Well, Maiji rose to the occasion. While chiding the U.R.A. for not living up to their promise of spreading Universality, he gave them specific directions as to the manner in which the appeal had to be drafted. He prayed to Mother for the release of Om Lind. The grand Patron was released in a short time. This incident would at least show in what high esteem Mai Swarupa was held by eminent thinkers. It has to be borne in mind that a vast majority of them had not personally seen Maiji.
Nearer home, Sri. N.S. Lokur, retired judge of the High Court of Bombay stated in an appreciation : ” His Mother-hood conception of the Almighty is capable of being adopted by everyone whatever be his creed, caste, nationality or birth religion…. Some there are who regard him as perhaps an incarnation of Divine Mother, next to Sri Ramakrishna Paramahamsa, and call him ‘Mai Kaka”Maiji’ ‘Mai Swarupa And ‘Mai Markand’. They go to him for blessing and for his prayers to Mai in their personal troubles of various sorts, such as sickness, unemployment, marriages debts etc.”
Maiji as Man and Guru
The title is perhaps misleading. It is neither feasible nor possible to place the various traits of an individual in different water-tight compartments and deal with them separately, except possibly, in the case of schizophrenic persons. Man is after all the conglomerate of all his thoughts, words and deeds.
The Tortoise Feet Once a fortune teller went to MAIJI, it was long before the declaration of Mai-ism. He looked long at the Land Acquisition Officer’s face and studied his palm carefully and suddenly said “May I request you, Sir, to remove your shoes and socks I am sure you have the tortoise Feet. Your face and palm give certain indications of a great Devi Bhakta. Those indications must be accompanied by the Tortoise Feet”. The officer smilingly complied with his request. Then the palmist exclaimed “Ah what did | say? See, you have the rare Tortoise Feet. Haven’t you heard of the line “Koorma prishta Jayishnu Prapadanwita?’. The in-step of the officer was as convex as that of a tortoise, and his toes were not horizontal as usual but slightly tilted upwards.
Reference has been made in chapter XI to the absentminded dreamy nature of the boy Markand. Some other traits of Maiji have been described previously in appropriate contexts.
While His spiritual knowledge and experience increased by leaps and bounds. His understanding of temporal affiars remained static. The wellknown expression in Cricket, L.B.W. was a mystery to Him. He was not interested in games and sports. Once in an Officer’s Club Maiji was invited to be a fourth at bridge. The saint did not know even the rudiments of the game and had to confess ignorance, evoking the cynical smile of some and the derisive laughter of a few other members. The situation was saved when one member remarked: “He is not a bridge player but a bridge builder for all of us to go to our God”.
The marriage of Maiji’s eldest son took place in 1943. While moving in the procession of the bride-groom’s party leading to the bride’s place, a friend wanted to know the bride’s name. Maiji could not tell him. Feeling a little ashamed, the saint moved quietly to a relative, got the name in a whisper, went back and told his friend. The latter smiled and said: “I have watched you getting information”. Maiji’s mind, this incident shows, was full of Mai and Mai-ism, everything else being trivia…
He was careless in his dress and would sometimes wear his shirt inside out. He had a collection of fountain pens; sometimes he would put a pen in his pocket without its cap.
He was a voracious reader of books, particularly books on religion, ethics and philosophy. He would underline important passages and add His comments in the margin. Any book that had passed through His hands would bear these unmistakable signs. He made a list of about thirty books which He wanted all Mai-ists to read- a list as selectively comprehensive in range as it was cosmopolitan in content, as evidenced by the following titles taken at random from the list : The Gita by Jnaneswar, The Essential Unity of all Religions by Bhagavandas, The Imitation of Christ by Thomas A Kempis, ” How to Win Friends and Influence People by Dale Carnegi, The Other World by Minocher Spencer, Human Nature by Herbert Casson, The Kybalion by Three Initiates.
He used snuff as an occasional stimulant and was partial to a particular brand of the powder.
Every bill presented to Him for work done was very promptly paid. He always paid something above the usual rate for anything done to His satisfaction. Payment was never put off. Once He was searching for a particular file. Even after a prolonged search by Himself and a disciple the file could not be traced. He called out to the servant and asked him about it. It so happened that the servant could pick out the elusive papers in a few minutes. As the man was leaving to his chores, Maiji called him back and gave him a small present. That was not an isolated instance. Every time anything done well received some extra compensation immediately.
Maiji was a strict Vegetarian by birth and by choice… But He never insisted on all persons being Vegetarians. He once said an Eskimo who could not survive without eating meat was as much a child of Mai as the holiest Sanyasin living on fruits wrote in 1958 to a disciple, “How can a Universal Mai-ist expect all persons to be vegetarians?”. Mr. Gabler the Vice-President of The World Vegetarian Congress once visited Maiji and sought His opinion. The Saint expressed His view thus : “Vegetarianism is very necessary for those who want to invoke higher internal powers. Even Westerners who wished to develop hidden powers had become vegetarians during the course of their evolutionary growth. But it cannot be laid down as a rule of universal application.”
Maiji’s physical constitution was often a mystery even to His physicians. On one occasion the thermometer registered a temperature of 100 degree but before anything was done it came down to normal in ten minutes. Another time the doctor found Maiji had a high blood pressure, but a re-examination after three hours revealed that the pressure was normal. There were several such instances.
Maiji was fond of pungent pickles and would sometimes ask devotees to supply pickles made at home. Once a devotee whose relative had high fever rushed to Maiji and prayed for relief. The visitor was asked to send a jar of pickles and, strange as it may seem, as Maiji was eating the pickles the fever subsided.
Several books have been written and published by Maiji. His Magnum Opus is ‘Mai-ism’. Other important publications are Mother and Mother’s Thousand Names’, ‘Mother’s Message’, ‘Mother’s Meditation’, ‘Mai Adherents’ Oath’ and ‘The Clarion Call of Mai-ism. Mother’s Name Repetition (Pathanam) has been published in six languages. Various articles on religion were published in ‘Kalyan’, ‘Meher Message’, Jyoti’, ‘Sakthi’ and also in ‘Ananai Kyo’ of Japan. A play in Gujerati called ‘Devangana has been published in his official name, Mr. Dholakia.
These books were given away to any one who asked for them. Important portions were cut out from the books, pasted on cardboards and hung on the walls of Mai Niwas.
Maiji was a good musician and was honorary examiner in music for some time in Bombay.
Dr. Behari the famous writer had such great respect for Maiji that he addressed the saint as Sri 1008.
It was not an infrequent occurrence for Maiji to forget to eat His food at night when He was working on some book or article.
Maiji had a most salutary way of dealing with devotees; He seldom rebuked them. On 20-4-64; He awoke at 6.30 a.m. – an unusually early hour for Him-, took a file and asked a disciple staying at Mai Niwas to take it to Bro. Dalal living close by. The disciple had not shaved or bathed; so, he promised to attend to the matter after 15 minutes. Maiji said nothing but quietly put on His shoes with the obvious intention of going to Bro. Dalal. There upon the disciple ran to the master, knelt at His Feet and requested Him to hand over the papers. With a gracious smile, the Guru complied and the other rushed out unkempt and barefooted.
Another time- it was on 7-10-1960 – the Master happened to be staying in the house of a disciple. As soon as He woke up, He called the host to His side and said : “Come on, Let us go to the Temple”. After a few seconds, reading the disciple’s mind and answering an unspoken doubt, Maiji said : “Do you think II should wash my face before going to the Temple ? I am going to my Mother. A child can go to its mother in any state”. A better way of teaching Mother-and-child-relationship can hardly be conceived.
Rare is the master who would lend his wrist-watch to his servant when the latter goes to take driving lessons to improve his prospects in life. Rarer still is the employer who would alter his programme of tour to suit the needs of his menial employee. And rarest of all is one who would visit, in very inclement and stormy weather, his domestic servant’s house situated a mile away from the nearest road, simply to gladden the heart of his employee. This writer has witnessed Maiji doing all this. It is doubtful if one could count on his finger a single other individual who would do as much.
All Mai-ists have to write ‘Jai Mai Jai Markand Mai,’ before commencing their letters. There have been instances where Maiji returned letters unread for the simple reason that the sacred words had been omitted.
Maiji gave strict injunctions against superstitious beliefs. A devotee of Nasik was very much upset when the flame was out during Arati. Maiji consoled him explaining : “Mother is the Ocean of Love. She is not displeased as you think. If the camphor is exhausted or if there is a strong gust of wind the flame will naturally get extinguished. Don’t attribute the incident to Mother’s anger. She is never angry”.
A subtle vein of humour always enriched Maiji’s talk. Discussions of important subjects would invariably be interspersed with humorous stories and parables so that the listeners never got tired.
An excellent host, Maiji always treated His visitors with refreshments.
Two Scholars satisfied
To strangers going for advice and instruction Maiji was in the habit of talking for hours together in a general way. On one occasion two great scholars who had made it their life-habit to
regularly read Saptasathi and Lalita Sahasranam went to Maiji with the object of gaining more knowledge about Mother.
From 10p.m. to 2 a.m. the Master went on talking and asking questions. The visitors patiently and respectfully listened and replied to questions. Suddenly one of them stood up and prostrated before Maiji. Immediately the other one also did likewise. The Saint naturally asked “What has happened that you should interrupt the session?” They humbly and joyfully answered “We see MAI standing behind you sir, in Her sweetest smile and glorious radiance. Thank you Sir”. And they left with great delight
Ever since the 77th Birthday on 23-12-1961, Maiji had been considering the introduction of a form of oath as a test of Allegiance to Mai-ism.
The system of formal Oath came into existence in September 1962. A certain procedure has been laid down for taking the Oath.
For the first time in the history of the religions of the world, an emphatic proclamation of Universality was brought into being. The full-fledged Mai-ists have the denomination. Universal Religionist : Mai-ism (U.R.M.). Those who continue their allegiance to their individual religion and take the Oath in appreciation of the principles of Mai-ism, have the denomination, U.R.H.M., U.R.C.M. etc. (H representing Hinduism, C represents Christianity etc.) At present, besides a large number full Maiists there are some Hindu, Christian, Zoroastrian and Sikh Maiists.
The proclamation that a person is URM is surely a commitment and a promise to all other religionists about his Universal Love and Service to one and all of any religion.
Maiji’s first Will was made on 23-4-1955 before He went to Japan. That was enlarged and modified when He executed His second Will registered at Trichur on 15-10-62. Some more changes were found necessary and the last Will was executed and registered at Bombay on 26-4-1966. A few months thereafter a Codicil was executed and registered on 18-11-66 to supplement the Will.
A testamentary Trust has been created for the proper management and administration of Mai-Niwas and other assets. Jai Mai.
Instances of Grace
The number of instances is Legion, of chronic insidious diseases being cured, of criminal prosecutions being averted, of accused persons being acquitted, of girls with little hope of wedlock getting married, of severed conjugal ties being reunited, of childless couple getting children, of inept pupils passing examinations, of promotion in service being secured, of bankruptcy in business being warded off etc.etc., by the Grace of Mai obtained through Mai-istic methods of prayer. Mention has been made in appropriate contexts in previous chapters of several examples. It would require volumes to recount them all. A few more recent events are narrated below.
Ernest Kirk, author of “The World’s Need and Mai-sim”, had an accident in 1954. With his fractured arm in a sling he went to Calicut to meet Maiji who had gone there for the Sisters’ Social. That night the Saint bade the injured visitor to sleep in the prayer mom in front of Mai’s Picture. Next morning Bro. P.D.Dalal who took tea and toast to the visiting Englishman was amazed to find there was no sling. Not only that. Mr. Kirk joyfully shouted “I am cured”, and moved the arm effortlessly all over the body.
Sister Devaki Amma belonged to a lower middle-class family. Living in a tiny house, she found it hard to make both ends meet with the meagre salary of her husband, a last grade employee in the local High School. Her first son employed somewhere in Tamilnad used to send her small sums of money occasionally. After some time that source dried up unexpectedly. Neither money nor letters came from the son for two long years. Devaki Amma was desperately anxious, not so much for the money as for news of her son’s well-being. Her house being close to a Mai Temple, she went and explained her greivances to Mai-Putri Thangam who was in charge of the Temple. Mai-Putri’s advice. that the stricken mother should attend Mai Worship for nine consecutive Fridays was promptly accepted and followed.
The third day after the ninth Friday the hapless woman was, as usual, eagerly looking forward to the arrival of the Postman. It had been a long time, since the postman had stepped into her compound. But Hope springs eternal in the human breast; and her devotion to Mai had given an edge to her hopeful expectation. Her expectant gaze fell on a young man who stepped over the stile and approached her. She could not discern the features of the visitor as her eyes were weak, but she eagerly stretched out a trembling hand for the expected letter which however was not forthcoming. Something unexpected happened. Her feeble hand was caught firmly, yet tenderly, by the loving hands of the newcomer who called her AMMA in the most endearing tone. Mai had brought her long lost son in answer to her prayer.
The incident happened in 1959. This chronicler has personal knowledge of the matter, being the husband of Mai Putri Thangam.
A boy suffering from Typhoid was in Harkisandas Hospital. The patient developed a large tumour on the head. Dr. Yodh who saw the boy every day said nothing could be done about the tumour so long as typhoid did not abate. The boy’s father happened to be Maiji’s friend; so the saint visited the Hospital one day, and just to console the patient, placed His hand on the boy’s head. Before going to Poona the next day, Maiji went once more to the Hospital. The boy happened to see Him enter the premises and shouted “Come up Kakaji, my tumour is gone. I have no fever.”
A man accused of criminal misappropriation of public funds was convicted by the District Magistrate of Calicut to undergo rigorous imprisonment for two years and to pay a fine of two thousand rupees. The man was really innocent. But the evidence against him was very black, as he had been duped into signing certain damaging admissions. His explanations were not accepted by the Magistrate. His nephew advised him to approach Maiji. So he appealed to Maiji and the District Judge. Prayers were offered by Maiji. The Mantra given by Maiji was repeated constantly by the man and his family. The appeal was heard in October 1959. After the arguments were over, his advocate frankly said he did not have much hope. Long anxious days of suspense dragged on. Came the day of judgement at long last, on 2-111959. The man was acquitted. The grateful and happy man sent a telegram to his nephew. This writer is that nephew.
In June 1963, a woman of Gondal (Saurashtra) happened to catch hold of the stay-wire of an electric post. As ill luck would have it, the line had sprung a leak and the current was flowing
through the stay wire. The woman receiving the shock could not leave hold of the wire and cried out in agony. Her daughter running to her rescue caught her hand and was trapped. Now there were two women crying out., Several persons gathered round the writhing women, but could only look on helplessly. Then, a girl began to repeat Jai Mai Jai Markand Mai. All joined in the repetition. Most wonderfully the wire snapped and the women were saved.
An old woman of seventy-two had two circular white patches inside her cheeks, one on either side. They were an inch in diameter and an eighth of an inch in thickness, with a small depression in the middle. She could not eat food for severe pain. Her son took her to three very good doctors. Each of them said it was probably a case of cancer and advised that she should immediately be taken to the Tata Memorial Hospital, Bombay. The old woman however stoutly refused to go to Bombay. Instead, she sought Maiji’s blessings and advice. She carefully and devotedly followed Maiji’s instructions regarding repetition of Mantra. Maiji’s prayerful Blessings were there. In a few weeks she was completely cured; without any medicines the patches disappeared. It was a great surprise to one of the doctors who had said half jestingly that if the patches disappeared without any medicine he would willingly become a Mai-ist. This writer knows every detail of the incident which took place in 1963, because the woman was his own mother.
Some readers might perhaps think that all these incidents happened during the life-time of Saint Mai-Swarupa and that since the Master is no longer with us in flesh and blood the chances of such Grace Showers are slim now. To dispel such notions it has to be emphatically stated that time and time again Maiji has promised that in His Disembodied State He would guide, help and protect devotees in even greater measure. The following incident which took place more than five years after the Mahasamadhi would illustrate the point.
Sister Hema, a member of a family of staunch Mai-ists, was admitted into the Tata Memorial Hospital, Bombay for an operation. She was taken to the Operation Theatre at 11.40 AM operation. She was taken to the Operation on 3-6-1972. Naturally enough, she was a trifle nervous she was about to be anaesthetized and began to repeat Jai Mai Jai Markand Mai. Then a miracle happened which set her mind at peace. She distinctly saw Revered Mai Swarupa approaching her with His boon-conferring hand raised in the posture of Blessing. He said a few words of encouragement and touched her head. She actually felt His hand on her head.
After the operation the patient was removed to her room where she regained consciousness at 3 P.M. The attending doctor and nurse expected her to have severe pain after some time and had kept ready some medicines which when injected would alleviate pain. At intervals of ten minutes either the doctor or the nurse would enter the room to see if it was time to give the injection. During one such interval Mai Swarupa entered the room, sat on the bed beside the patient and said: “I have come to relieve you of all pain. Do not worry. You will be all right soon”. The patient soon felt into a painless and peaceful sleep.
A few minutes later, the doctor entered the room and stood rooted to the floor looking at the patient with wonder and disbelti The ampoule of tranquilizer, the sterilized hypodermic syringe, the swab of cotton, all were there on the table. He could give any explanation for the mysterious happening. He concie that medical history had been made.
The patient’s father Bro. N.K.P. Nair, a leading Bombay, referred to this incident in his speech on 10 the occasion of the Mai Convocation held at Secunderabad.
Once an astrologer opined that Maiji had the gift of Ichcha Maran (death at will).
Ever since 1962 Maiji had been slowly preparing to go. In August of that year, when arrangements were proceeding apace for the Mai Convocation at Ernakulam, He wrote to a disciple, “We have to assume this is the last function.” The words were indeed prophetic. Maiji did not participate in any major Mai Function after He left Ernakulam in October 1962.
Perhaps the Master was getting tired physically. Perhaps He felt that the disciples trained by Him could and would continue His work. Anyway, step by slow step, He was withdrawing. On 7-10-1965, by a written order He appointed Mai-Shishu C.R.Nair as His spiritual successor. The appointment was reiterated in the Will registered at Bombay on 24-6-1966.
In spite of general weakness, He found time and energy to write to disciples. This humble person received a letter in the Master’s own Hand written on 29-11-1966 twentythree days before the Mahasamadhi.
On 17-12-66, Maiji gave orders that his children and a few others should be informed about his weak condition.
Arrangements for the celebration of the 82nd Maiji Jayanti on 23-12-66 had been made by the leading Mai-ists of Bombay. Invitations had been printed and posted to the moffusil centres. On the 20th, Maiji asked the organizers to stop sending invitations.
The Fateful Day – 21-12-1966 – dawned as usual without any particular foreboding. Maij washed His face without any assistance, and took tea. At 12-30 He read through a typescript that had to be sent to the Press. Then began a slight difficulty in breathing. Oxygen was given at 2 P.M. Mai Putri Mrs. C.R. Nair asked whether the ceiling fan should be switched off. Maiji said. “No, open the fan fully”. At 2.05 He said “No more medicines”. At 2-30 He gently patted Mai Shishu C.R.Nair and said “Pray” Thereupon all who were in the hall began to repeat Jai Mai Jai Markand Mai in a subdued voice. At 2-33 Maiji opened His eyes fully and gazed steadily for a few seconds. (Was Mother Mai Beckoning to Her Son?) This was repeated twice more. After the third time the eyes remained closed. Saint Mai Swarupa was no more. The time was 2-35 P.M.
The Religious Reformer who considered the whole world as His family-the Mahatma who thought, who spoke, who lived Universal Love – the Apostle of piety who maintained that Service to others was the best form of Devotion – the Paragon of dedicated Self-Surrender to God who had actual Vision of Maithe simple unassuming Preceptor, who would gently guide Godward the most presumptuous of atheists – the profound Votary of Theism who nevertheless proclaimed that man should first be a human being and thereafter only a religionist – the genial and generous Guru whose sublime discourses were ever blended with sparkling humour – the Son who successfully interceded with Mother Mai to relieve the misery of those who sought His help- the Motherly Saint who was a real Mother, nay, who was Mai in Human From to the disciples- discarded His physical impediments.MAIJI MERGED IN MAL.JAI MAI SWARUPA.
The poor orphaned Mai-ist can but lisp what the Saintly Mother used to say: Tera Kam Tu Ker Premaroopini Mai (Thy work Thou Do, Oh Love-Embodied Mother!)
Maiji had said that even after leaving the physical body He would appear in Mai Niwas and to His disciples whenever necessary. Proof of that was given when about four months later, Mai Swarupa appeared for a very brief time in Mai Niwas at night on 18-4-67 and was recognized.
With the end of the Saint’s life on earth this brief hagiography also ends. Only a very small part of the all too eventful Life has been described in the foregoing chapters. The idea was to give the reader a glimpse of a wonderful whole, and thereby try to arouse his interest in Mai-ism and Mai-Swarupa. Readers from Bangalore, Delhi, Gwalior, Kodungallur, Pondicherry etc. have expressed appreciation.
Sources: Apart from the writer’s personal experiences, a few of which have been narrated in the right contexts, the facts and figures were taken from (1) Books published by the Saint, (2) His letters, (3) Letters received by Him from aborad, (4) Copies of ‘Steps Unto Him’and ‘General Welfare’ published in England, (5) Reports of World Religion Congress published in Japan and (6) Replies from Mai-ists to the writer’s enquiry.
The progress of Mai-ism after the Mergence will be briefly dealt with in the epilogue to be published shortly.
Revered Mai-Swarupa’s Epitaph composed by Himself is perhaps the fittest finale of this biography. It is as follows
Nahi Phoola hai, Na Bulboola hai Saba Dhoola hai, Saba Bhoola hai Nahi Kama hai, Nahi Nama hai Nahi Rama hai, Swavirama hai
(substance: Good things, like beautiful flowers and Nightingale’s songs do not last. In course of time they turn to dust or are forgotten; similarly, fulfilment of ambitious desires, fruits of work, fame, also are not permanent. Even devotion to God does not endure. What is eternal is only complete mergence in God (Mai).
Mai Maiji Bless all. Jai Mai Jai Markand Mai, Jai Markand Rup Mai, Jai Markand Rup Markand Mai, Jai Markand Rup Mai. Jai Markand Mai, Jai Mai.
TO “SAINT MAI-SWARUPA”
Saint Mai Swarupa must have been thinking of a successor at least three years before actually appointing one. That is evident from His letter to a disciple dated 16.8.1962, wherein He observed : “My successor and his successor and so on will be named U.R. Mai-ism Mai’s Mercy Mai Markand and will be addressed by Mai devotees as Maiji”. The facsimile of the relevant part of the letter has already been published. The designation Mai Swarupa, however, would apply only to the Founder.
The choice of a successor rested solely on merit as the Saint loved all the disciples equally. Once He outlined the analogy of a mother having four sons, one of whom was a doctor, another a lawyer, the third a banker and the fourth an engineer. She loved them all alike, but during illness she would call only the son who was a doctor, and while buying or selling property she would rely only on the lawyer and so on. Maiji Himself had occasion to send two lawyer devotees, one to Bagalkot and another to Madras to report about lands that had been offered for Mai-ism work. That did not mean that He loved other disciples any the less.When the necessity arose for the appointment of a spiritualSuccessor, Mai Swarupa found that Mai Shishu C. Ramankutty Nair was a fittest person. It was Mai Shishu Nair who had successfully organized five out of seven major Mai functions that took place in India during the Saint’s life. To quote the Master’s words “Mai Shishu C.R. Nair is most enthusiastic, intelligent, active, honest and conscientious”. A more glowing tribute, no Sishya can ever expect from his Guru.
The formal appointment was made on 7-10-1965 and the order took effect from 21-12-1966, the Day Mai Swarupa merged in Mai. Needless to say that any true Mai-ist, worth his salt should respectfully submit to the Master’s Command and look upon Mai Shishu Nair as Maiji II.
Can anybody fill the void created by Mai Swarup’s departure ? The answer is YES, at least in regard to the two most important aspects of Mai-ism, namely, propagation of the Universal Religion of Mai-ism and relief of suffering humanity. When the great Benjamin Franklin’s tenure of office as America’s ambassador to France expired, he was called back, and a new man was sent. During an informal get-together convened by the officials and non-officials of Paris, the man sitting next to the new ambassador asked him casually as a conversational gambit : “So you have come to replace Mr. Franklin ?” Pat came the memorable reply, the reply that made headlines in News Papers : “No, Not to replace him. Nobody can replace Ben Franklin. I have come to try my best to do what Ben has been doing”. much in the same way it might be stated that nobody can replace Mai Swarupa. But there is a difference. Unlike Franklin’s successor, the succeeding Maiji gets help and guidance from Swarupa in His Discarnate State. During one of His instructive discourses the Master said explaining the sacred words Markand Rup Mai and Markand Rup Markand Mai, : Mai identifies Herself with Her true devotee if that devotee has a disciple who love upon and treats his guru as Mai, then Mai will identify Hercole with that disciple; if the disciple has his own disciple, say a suh disciple, who in his turn looks upon and treats his guru as Mai then Mai will identify Herself with the sub-disciple; and so on Thus it is easy to see that Mai has become one with Mail because he looked upon Maiji las Mai in human form.
Maiji II was born on 16-6-1905 as the third son of Sri Ittunni Rama Panikker and Smt. Kalyani Amma. He had five brothers and four sisters, of whom three brothers and two sisters are now living. He is happily married to Smt. Mai Puthri Kunhukutty Amma whom Mai Swarupa used to call Kunjan. They have two sons Ramakrishnan and Unnikrishnan, both M.Sc (1 class) and well employed. Maiji || served as Engineering Supervisor of Telephones and retired in 1961.
Some interesting points of similarity between the two Maijis may be mentioned. Mai Swarupa’s father Sri Ratanlal was a Tahsildar (styled Mamlatdar in North India). Sri Panikker, father of Maiji II was also a Tahsildar. Smt. Prabhalakshmi Devi mother of Maiji I was a pious lady; so was Smt. Kalyani Amma, mother of Maiji II. Both Maijis studied engineering; Maiji I held the diploma L.C.E. while Maiji II holds the diploma L.E.E. Maiji I was a devotee of Mataji from boyhood. So was Maiji II, whose father inculcated in him Devi bhakti by initiating him into Baala Mantra. Later he was initiated into Sree Vidya by Dr. Padmanabhayya, an eminent mystic seer of Ernakulam.
In 1950, Dr. Padmanabhayya advised his spiritual protege to gain contact with Mai Swarupa. That was how Sri C.R. Nair became a Mai-ist.
Sri Nair was taken ill seriously at Calicut in 1954 and was confined to bed. Doctors could not diagnose the disease and he was removed to hospital for observation and treatment. At that critical time, somehow Sri Nair visualized Mai Swarupa and immediately sent Him a telegram about his condition. The Saint while promptly sending a reply gave a direction that daily reports should be posted to Him. Each letter was answered by return of post. There were thus two regular streams of letters between Government Hospital Calicut and Mai Niwas Santa Cruz West, Bombay for three weeks, Then a strange thing happened. The letter received by the patient on Tuesday contained an assurance that he would be discharged the following Friday. It looked like an extravagant boon, because even that morning the District Medical Officers had opined that Sri Nair would have to be in the hospital for at least two weeks more. Two days passed. Thursday evening the D.M.O. felt that the improvement in the patient’s condition would justify his discharge the following morning, And Sri Nair left the hospital as foretold in the letter. This event naturally strengthened the bond between Master and disciple.
The rank of Mai Shishu was conferred on Sri C.R. Nair on the Installation of Mai in the Mai Vidyut Temple at Trichur in 1958.
Towards the end of March 1964, Mai Shishu C. R. Nair was having high fever which rose to 104 degrees. He was then staying at Mai Vidyut, Trichur, with his wife. One night at 10 p.m. he dreamt that the Mai Temple was on fire. With a hoarse shout he rushed to the Temple followed by his ‘anxious wife. In the Temple he saw Mai and Mai Swarupa sitting on the stool whereon he used to sit while conducting Friday worship. He placed his head in the stool; immediately the Vision disappeared, and so did the
he was cured. About a fortnight thereafter this writer narrated incident to Mai Swarupa at Mai Niwas. The Master said it
was a good omen which showed that Mai Shishu Nair hea increased his spiritual powers to such an extent that he could invoke Maiji’s astral body during illness.
Maiji II did not rest on his laurels after assuming charge To be the helm’s man of Mai-ism is no bed of roses. It entails onerous work at all times. The New Maiji rose to the occasion threw himself heart and soul into the work and began to strive indefatigably for the cause entrusted to his care hitching his waggon to his star, (Mai Swarupa). His prayers for the relief of others have been answered. His unremitting efforts to propagate Mai-ism have been effective as will be seen from the following outstanding events.
A bronze Bust of Mai Swarupa was installed, just outside the prayer hall in Mai Niwas at the Master’s favorite corner of the verandah. That was on 10-5-68.
Two Mai Temples were opened in 1969, one in Polpully in Palghat on 27-3-69 and the other in Durgapur on 23-12-69.
The World Fellowship of Religions held their Fourth World Conference of Religions in Delhi in February 1970. Due to ill-health, Maiji II could not attend in person. However, he sent a thesis on Universal Mai-ism which was very well appreciated by the Conference as is evident from the following sentences extracted from a letter sent to Maiji II on 23-6-70 by H.E.Baron F. Von Blomberg (U.S.A.) Co-president of the Conference : ‘The material you so kindly sent me was read and well used at our Fourth World Conference of Religions in Delhi last February. We had 100,000 present – some 100 countries represented.”
When the World Parliament of Religions held their session at Sasthamcotta near Quilon in March-April 1971, Maiji Il deputed a Mai-ist to read a paper on Mai-ism before the Parliament.
Mai was Installed and Mai Temple inaugurated at Avadi near Madras by Maiji Il on 2-9-1971.
Mai Convocation was held at Secunderabad from 15th to 17th of October 1972 under the benign guidance and in the immediate presence of the present Maiji.
Mai Maiji Bless all. Jai Mai.
AUTHOR OF THIS BOOK: Mai Shishu U.G.MENON
Publisher of this book: Universal MaiismTrust