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Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Pranab, we should stir ourselves before things cross the brink

I first came to the Ashram for the April darshan of 1942, Dada recounted one day.
At that time I was struck by an energetic, slim, fair you man. He was always walking up and down in the Ashram busy in his work. I asked an elderly sadhak who he was.
I learnt that he was a Konkani and that his name Madhav. He had been visiting the Ashram for some time. Each time he stayed for a few days at the Ashram. He would help Nolini-da in his secretarial work. That's why I used to imagine that he was the assistant secretary of the Sri Aurobindo Ashram.
In 1947 when I came to the Ashram for good he had permanently settled here.
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In the beginning I didn't have any contact with him. Sometimes we would meet because of some work. But I always felt as if a true bond of friendship was growing between us.
Very soon the Mother brought me close to him. And my time at the Ashram was spent very happily. During this period I had the occasion of seeing him from close quarters thanks to various kinds of work. I came to know that he was an able administrator, a capable worker, a good writer, a great scholar and a sadhak of a high order. He served the Mother ways.
A long time ago in 1936 my father sent my photo to the Mother. Madhav-ji used to keep a file of all the sadhaks. In 1947 when the Mother heard from me about this photo that had been sent She asked to see it and told Madhav-ji about it. Within ,five minutes he got the photo and handed it to the Mother: , I was personally quite astonished to see how organised with these files of the sadhaks and how well he kept them.
At times I used to write something on some subject or another. And I would go to Madhav-ji with these writings for any necessary correction. He would go through them very sympathetically with great care. With just a few changes he would infuse life into my writing. He never changed my style or thought. It was quite an amazing style of correction really.
He had a very sharp mind and an extraordinary memory. I observed he would serve the Mother in a state of great inner calm in a spirit of self-consecration.
Towards the later part of his life he would on his own initiative travel in India and abroad doing the Mother's work. That was the reason why his presence and influence in the Ashram work diminished and slackened a little. His health too deteriorated to quite an extent.
And then when he came back to the Ashram and started leading a secluded life, I felt he was no more as energetic as before. I would feel sorry for him. But he continued to do the Ashram work with the same earnestness and care.
He always kept in touch with me as he had a certain sympathy for me. I had a long correspondence with him about the present condition of the Ashram.
Madhav-ji is no more in our midst. The Mother's beloved child has gone back into Her arms and he is at eternal place.
We all know that there is a constant battle between the divine and the undivine forces. The divine forces are trying to establish the divine kingdom on the earth and the undivine forces are doing everything to try and block that from happening.
Personally I very deeply feel that all our elders who are leaving us one after the other were all of them very able generals and brave soldiers in this great divine battle. Like courageous soldiers giving themselves up to God they fought the battle and ended their life doing so. Madhav-ji was a front-ranking general among these. Let us hope that we are capable of realising all the objectives and winning that victory for which all of them put in all their life and endeavour and sacrifice.

***

What we need is a True Leader

In the fast approaching 21st century, the pressures for change are mounting both within and without at a speed that baffles us many a times, and brings with it seemingly unsurmountable problems, chaos and disorder. Our organisation is no exception. The crisis becomes more acute when the direction and guidance provided by present leadership is as confusing. We took up this subject in our Editorial "Crisis of Leadership' and asked Pranab-da to throw some light on the present phenomenon in his own column.

The response was a valuable correspondence between Sri Madhav Pandit and Pranab-da, both leaders in their own right and in their respective fields carrying influence and impact which is more than evident. This hitherto unpublished correspondence we felt could well give us some food for thought.

Madhav-ji,
Two days back, I heard your tape-recorded speech, and I fully agree with you. In our Ashram collective life there is no true unity.
For a long time I have been feeling it. Once I told the Mother that our ideal was unity in diversity. There was plenty of diversity in the Ashram. But the Mother had not yet succeeded in bringing unity in it. She remained silent and said nothing.
I understand that unity can come in two ways. One, the ordinary way, when collectivity faces a common danger. Then, for mutual safety and security men forget their little ego and self interest momentarily, come closer and work for the larger interest.
The other way is, when men transcend themselves, have at least the psychic realisation and their consciousness is tuned with a Higher Truth, they rise above ego and desire, and true unity in collectivity takes place.
Once the Mother told me that if She were to pick from the Ashram population those who come only for the Truth, She would get only a handful of them. Most of the people had come because it was convenient to stay here. This She said as early as 1947. Since then the situation has further deteriorated
If the majority of us had come only for the Truth, the picture would have been different. At least, if the elders amongst us who are running the organisation had the true realisation, they could surely lead us to a better understanding, and as a result there would be better unity in our collective life.
All the qualities you mention in your speech which favour better unity, such as love, understanding, fellow-feeling, comradeship, compassion, tolerance, patience, etc., are psychic qualities, and how can they come from people who have an ordinary consciousness?
I feel that what we need badly in the Ashram at the present hour is a truly good leader. We do not have any leader amongst us. It is true that the Mother's and Sri Aurobindo's consciousness pervades the Ashram atmosphere and they are guiding each aspirant according to his or her capacity and aspiration. But the presence of a true leader amongst us on the material plane will make a big difference.
I am always praying to the Mother to send us a true leader, who would guide us in our day-to-day activity and help us to achieve the ideal set before us by the Mother and Sri Aurobindo.
Pranab
2.11.91

Ashram
6.11.91
My dear Pranab,
I thank you for your warm, constructive and live response to my plea for promoting a minimum sense of oneness in the Ashram. I agree with you on every point. What you write about the Mother 's approach clarifies many things.
There is, however, one point on which I feel differently. To have a single leader here is not on the Mother 's programme; this has been my perception even before She withdrew from Her body. What is required is a collective leadership in keeping with the demand of the present Evolutionary Force. We must strive and build up a wise, upright, large-visioned leadership in tune with the Mother 's Consciousness. To that end, I suggest that a core body-not exceeding three must be first formed, with the door open for a larger circle to be formed later. This core group must be essentially a spiritually oriented body exerting itself to see that the collective life of the Ashram keeps to certain well-defined norms. It should be its duty to draw the attention of the Board of Administration When lapses occur or threaten to occur. Its role must be constructive from an objective, impersonal angle.

Pranab, we should stir ourselves before things cross the brink. Let us accept our bona fides and yoke ourselves to this sole purpose of arresting disintegration which is raising its ugly head and, building up a required confidence among our colleagues. Can't we make at least a beginning now?
With love
Yours Madhav

19.11.91
Dear Madhav-ji,
I have read your letter dated 6.11.91. Such a prompt reply to my letter within minutes is possible only for a person like you, who have a sound intellectual and spiritual background.
But our differences remain as regards one man's leadership.
I do not believe in collective leadership. The term itself seems be a misnomer. I believe that it has been borrowed from modern western thoughts, which arose out of a fear of giving birth to dictators or autocrats.
Whatever group or committee we make, the final decision has to be taken by one man. Then where is the scope of collective leadership? The leader may have advisors, helpers, executives, etc, but the true leadership finally rests on one man only.
If we probe into history, we shall never find an example where collective leadership solved any problem of man. It can serve as a stop-gap arrangement, temporarily, as it happened after the murder of Julius Caesar by forming the triumvirate.
Successful kings, explorers, scientists, reformers, political religious leaderships, are all one man's show. And our tradition of Avatars, spiritual leaders and the existence of Guru vadas are all examples of singular leaderships.
Your comment, to have a single leader here is not on the Mother's programme, is true as long as the Mother with us in Her physical body. But after Her Mahasamadhi the situation has to be viewed from a different angle.
It is my firm conviction that in the present Ashram set- up, only a man having Supramental Realisation can handle effectively all our Ashram problems, and help us to march towards our goal of Integral Transformation. Any other efforts, done in a human way, will only add to the confusion already existing and are bound to end in abject failure.

It is better to wait with patience and see how things develop. the Mother has told us that the Supramental Force works quietly, in a most normal and natural way.
In the meantime, let each of us execute our responsibilities as sincerely and as well as possible, aspiring for the Mother's Guidance and waiting for the arrival of a Supramental Leader.
With loving regards,
Yours affectionately,
Pranab

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