Madhav Pundalik Pandit, better known as M. P. Pandit, (14 June 1918—14 March 1993) visited Pondicherry for the first time in 1937 and had the Darshan of the Mother on 4 April and that of Sri Aurobindo on 15 August. After completing his B.Com with high honours he joined the Ashram as an inmate in 1939. He started working under Nolini Kanta Gupta as his assistant but later became one of the Mother’s secretaries. He also supervised the management of several guest-houses run by the Ashram. His other responsibilities in the Ashram included renting houses for the inmates, answering letters sent to the Ashram and editing journals like World Union, Advent and Service Letter. A prolific writer, his published works exceed one hundred titles. His notable works include Japa, How Do I Begin?, How Do I Proceed?, Mother and I, Sidelights on the Mother, Mother and Her Mission, Life Beautiful, An Early Chapter in the Mother’s Life, Pitfalls in Sadhana, Yoga of Self-Perfection, The Yoga of Knowledge, Readings in Savitri (in ten volumes) and Sat-Sang (in seven volumes). In May 1976 M. P. Pandit received an invitation from the Secretary of Sri Aurobindo Society, Singapore, to visit the city and give a series of talks on Sri Aurobindo. When Nolini Kanta Gupta was informed of this invitation, he remarked that people are going to hear an ‘authentic voice’. M. P. Pandit left for Singapore on 8 July 1976 and delivered talks at Sri Aurobindo Society, Ramakrishna Mission and Singapore Writers’ Association. This was followed by another invitation to speak in the United States of America. M. P. Pandit left for U. S. A. in March 1977 and for the following few months, spoke at various places like the Princeton University, Purdue University, Wake Forest University, University of Colorado, University of Denver, Northern Arizona University and Krotona Institute of Theosophy to name a few. In the following years he travelled extensively and lectured on Sri Aurobindo and his message in various conferences, symposiums and seminars. In his lectures he urged his listeners to transform themselves from being a self-centred individual to a Universal Man.
2018 marks the Birth Centenary of M. P. Pandit. As our humble homage to him, two of his interviews published originally in the New Nation (Singapore) and The Indian Review (Chennai) in July and August 1976 respectively were published in the website of Overman Foundation along with a touching tribute paid to him by K. D. Sethna alias Amal Kiran and some of his photographs (See: http://overmanfoundation.org/2018/09/26/two-interviews-of-m-p-pandit-and-amal-kirans-tribute-to-him/).
As the next installment of our tribute to M. P. Pandit, two talks of his on the Mother and Indira Gandhi delivered on 20 February 1983 and 3 November 1984 have been published in the website of Overman Foundation.
With warm regards,
The Mother: A Talk by M. P. Pandit on February 20, 1983
Om Anandamayi Chaitanyamayi Satyamayi Parame!
Meeting as we are on the eve of the Mother’s Birthday tomorrow, it is natural that we should be full of thoughts and feelings about her who has given meaning to our lives, and direction to the world.
I remember it was exactly ten years ago—1973—that on the early morning of the 21st when my sister woke up, she was hearing a crescendo of Bonne Fête! Bonne Fête! Bonne Fête! from all sides. When I reported this to the Mother the same morning, she had such a sweet smile, affirmative, that it is still fresh in my mind. It feels as if it happened only yesterday. With Mother the years do not count. I would like to take this occasion to draw your attention to a few special features of her life.
She once observed that it took the Supreme Creatrix, the Adi-Shakti, nearly a thousand years to gather material to form her body. The material was taken from all over the universe and organised. It took that long. I remembered this remark of hers much later in her life when she was once discussing the possibility of “this time” or “some other time” for transformation. Drawing attention to the state of her body, she said it was immaterial to her whether she was to live or go. But she needed to know sufficiently in advance, in order to put back into the sources the various elements that had been assembled in her. She meant not only the physical body, but the various other bodies also. Her body, the form we call the Mother, was not made in the usual manner. There was a great past behind it, not a past of evolution, not a past of karma, but a past of higher preparation.
Further, she was disarmingly frank in saying that she chose her parents because she wanted a firm materialistic foundation on which to work out the divine transformation. Thus it was that her parents were those who never believed in religion, in God. You know her father was a banker who didn’t care a dime for higher values. Her mother prided herself on being a positivist who would always think that anybody reporting a dream or an experience of a different type was a fit case for the psychiatrist. Those were the surroundings of her birth and early growth.
You may note that in the case of Sri Aurobindo also, he himself draws attention to the fact that his family was not a very religious one. There was no spiritual backdrop for him in his family. He confirms that he was an agnostic, though not an atheist, when he was in England. But the Mother says she was an atheist, she was a rebel against God, the God familiarised by the religions with which she was familiar, — the Christian, the Jewish, the Muslim, the God that they may have visualised and established in the human mind, the God who inflicts punishment. She rebelled against such a Being who, after creating this unequal universe, visited punishment on people who are not responsible for this mess. She grew up without belief in God.
But she says it was when she met Théon, her occult teacher, about 1904, that he pointed out to her that God is within. You know this is a totally foreign conception for the Christian or the Jewish or the Islamic mind. For them God is there above, but when Théon said God is within (pointing to the heart), it carried conviction to her and then everything changed. All changed to such an extent that, as she has observed, even before she met Sri Aurobindo, three-fourths of the work had been done. Of course, though she did not believe in God as such, she was aware of a Consciousness and she has noted that by the age of 20 she had established a constant communion with the Consciousness within. Still she felt there was a lot more to be done. A little later, Swami Vivekananda’s lectures on Rajayoga (a French translation) came to her hands. And she was amazed to find that there could be somebody who could give such detailed directions and she achieved within a few months what would normally have taken a few years. Very soon, when she was 21, she happened to meet Prof. Jnan Chakravarty (of Lucknow University), husband of Yashoda-ma, the Vaishnav Guru of Sri Krishna Prem. He was passing through Paris. He gave the Mother a copy of the Gita and told her: Regard Lord Krishna as the immanent Divine and surrender to him. And she says that all the work was done within a month.
These are certain landmarks in her development. It was a little later that she came into contact with the Théons and organised the occult knowledge that she already had. It is not that she learnt the A.B.C. of occultism from Théon, she had it on her own. She used to have out-of-body experiences, telekinesis, etc. But to learn it as a systematic science, she chose to go to Tlemcen in Algeria where she stayed with Théon and his gifted wife Alma. She learnt from Madame Théon the technique of denuding oneself of sheath after sheath, the physical body, the subtle-physical body, the vital body and so on, as many as twelve times, at the end of which one is on the border of form and formlessness. And it is there on the border of formlessness, she records, that she saw an outline which resembled the human form; it gave her the perception that this form with whatever modification is a protoform, it is going to stay. This form is going to stay in its broad framework. She was told by Théon — and it was later confirmed by Sri Aurobindo —that each cycle of creation has a beginning and an end. There have been so far six such cycles which have come and gone. But the present one which is the seventh has no end, it will be an endless progression, because of the intended transformation by the Supramental Consciousness and Power, which is an integral part of the programme for this cycle. It may not be achieved today, but certainly it will be done one day. Her coming here and meeting Sri Aurobindo and all that followed afterwards are facts of common knowledge.
Sometime later in her life, she exploded some myths that had grown up regarding her. One of them was that when Paul Richard met Sri Aurobindo in 1910 he was supposed to have asked Sri Aurobindo the meaning of a lotus which his wife used to see in her visions. It was reported that Sri Aurobindo explained that the lotus is a blossoming of consciousness at the touch of the Divine Ray and so on. But when the Mother saw this report about Richard she said, “No, I never sent any question to be asked, perhaps he himself may have asked.”
As you know, the Mother was very frank, almost brutally frank when she chose to be so, on purpose, otherwise she would not say anything, there would be only an enigmatic smile. Now, on February 29, 1956, we all know that there was a Manifestation. We also know that the Mother was disappointed that nobody here knew of the great Event as it took place. It was the Manifestation of the Supramental for which the Mother and Sri Aurobindo had worked. And there was a tendency everywhere to look for the results. The Mother frankly tells us that what came was not the supramental consciousness, supramental truth, but its aspect of power, she repeated on another occasion that what had come was the supramental light, force and power, but what then came was simply swallowed up by fumes after fumes, dark fumes, rising from the earth. So even what came has had to slowly organise itself and work to prepare the ground for further manifestations. That is why even after 20/25 years we may not see spectacular results in the world. But those of us who are observant, those who are earnest in their sadhana, can see a loosening of knots, a crumbling of obstinate difficulties, an effortless aspiration and a conviction, a certainty that the divine power is here, the Divine is at work.
Nobody needs to argue and convince us, because she is present. A few years back our centres started asking for relics of the Mother. It was difficult to refuse, because it was argued, “Sri Aurobindo’s relics are with us, now we want the Mother’s.” At that time Nolini-da [Nolini Kanta Gupta] wrote a brief statement which appealed to me very much, and indeed to all of us. He said: “Relics are of those who have gone. But for us Mother is here; how can you talk of her relics?” The inevitable question arises: what about Sri Aurobindo? It was pointed out that it was the Mother who decided to give his relics and we cannot explain why. That set all demands at rest and nobody now talks of the Mother’s relics. She is HERE. It is an experience of every single person staying and visiting the Ashram that her presence is as concrete as when she was in her physical body — perhaps even closer. I have experienced it here and also 10,000 miles from here. People who have never been here have experienced it. And when she said that the whole world was her Ashram she meant it. The Mother is present in such a concrete way that she does not need to speak through artificial modes, through mediums. She can talk direct — not in words, words are suspect, — but through psychic feeling. Her direction is unmistakable. She always functions through our psychic or through the silent and pure mind. The Mother has indeed no successor in the manner of the sampradaya or religious lineages. She is PRESENT in an unmistakable way. She is our Teacher and Mother. We know her more as our Mother than as our Teacher. And no one can be so foolish as to arrogate to himself the position of the Mother. That would be sacrilege.
Once when somebody from Bombay wrote of a communication received from Sri Aurobindo through a medium, she said: “Sri Aurobindo is far beyond the plane that can be contacted by mediums and such.” The same applies to the Mother.
She warned before she left: There will be many attempts to imitate me, to imitate my voice, beware. Her intimation is through the psychic. And she said: then there would be a great danger of an attempt being made to pervert Sri Aurobindo’s teaching into a religion which would be narrow and cruel. That danger is very much there as the Asura wants to pervert the Truth. We have been fortunate that wherever such attempts are made, she sees to it that they are checkmated. We don’t need to make any special effort for that if only we are sincere to her. And that was what she wanted. Provided one is sincere, she forgives everything. Whatever the foolishness, the obstinacy, she overlooks it provided there is this sincerity.
Another characteristic of the Mother is freedom. Sri Aurobindo speaks in the first chapter of The Life Divine how, of the three or four divine verities that have made a perennial appeal to mankind, freedom is one. And the Mother cherished freedom. She insisted on giving freedom to everyone. She explains how even in cases of difficulty she would intervene without interfering. Mark her words. When you are in difficulties you pray for help and the Guru cuts across your karma, and does something which actually is an interference in your growth. Her way was to intervene without interfering. There were a hundred such observations of hers, each of which could form a theme for a book, a philosophy. Every word of hers was a scripture. She did not write, she did not discuss philosophies, but every word that she said was the seed of a philosophy, much more than that. It is Truth put in such terms that even a child can understand.
If anyone can be said to have taken the Divine to the common man, it is she; when Sri Aurobindo said, All life is Yoga, it was she who demonstrated that all life can indeed become Yoga, if one has a will for it.
These are some thoughts about the Mother that should help us to keep a proper perspective in our faithful adherence to the Truth for which she stood and worked and for which she is working still, though from behind the veil. The veil is transparent, very thin and almost not there. Not all people write books of their experiences, not all people communicate; their experiences are too intimate. But every day somewhere or other, there are miracles, miracles of guidance, miracles of salvation, miracles of light getting into the dark horizons. We can make this our theme and with devotion and the purest love that we can summon in our humble adoration, let us meditate on her in preparation for the great day tomorrow.
Indira Gandhi and the Ashram
A Broadcast by M. P. Pandit on the All India Radio on November 3, 1984
We in the Ashram have very pleasant recollections of Indira Gandhi’s visits to the Mother. On her first visit, when she was the President of the Congress, Jawaharlal Nehru — her father —presented her to the Mother and said: ‘Mother, bless her.’ And the Mother did. In a photograph taken immediately afterwards you will find seated near the Mother: Pandit Nehru, Lal Bahadur Sastri, Indira Gandhi, Kamraj. Both Lal Bahadur and Indira Gandhi became Prime Ministers, Kamraj almost did.
Indira Gandhi developed a very happy relation with the Mother. She would decline a chair and sit at the Mother’s feet in the intimate posture of a child. She would accept whatever food or drink was offered to her, dispensing with the usual protocol. Her visits were mostly hurried but she was very particular that the Mother should not have to wait for her.
She corresponded with the Mother seeking her guidance and spiritual support which the Mother readily extended to her. Not many know that the late Prime Minister had sought special help from the Mother during the 1971 elections and the Mother had assured her of a larger victory than she had hoped for. The Mother saw in Indira the best available instrument for the Divine’s Work at the hour and poured her spiritual energies in an abundant manner.
Indira Gandhi had special appreciation for the system of education developed at the Sri Aurobindo International Centre of Education and she had sent special study teams from Delhi to explore its possibilities in the national field.
When the Mother had sent all her jewelry to the Prime Minister’s Fund on the outbreak of hostilities with China, Pandit Nehru handed the contents to Indira who in turn read out the Mother’s covering note and explained to him that the contribution was symbolic of the Divine’s support and help. Indira had deep faith in the Grace of God.
During her last visit to the Ashram, she stayed with us for a night. She went to the Mother’s room and meditated for quite sometime near the Mother’s chair. She walked into Sri Aurobindo’s room and paid her homage. The next morning she observed to a friend in Madras that she had visited so many places in her life but nowhere had she got such sound sleep as in the Ashram.
When Jawaharlal passed away the Mother wrote that Nehru had merged in the Soul of India. Today when Indira is no longer with us, I daresay that her brave spirit continues to work for India for whom she had to lay down her heroic, dedicated, beautiful life.