Wednesday, March 19, 2008

Mahesh Chandra Shrivastava’s Rosetta Stone

IntroPaul Mason very kindly shared with me a recording from a course at Amherst in 1971. At my request, he broke the recording into two MP3’s. I am grateful to Paul for also transcribing these two recordings. He suggested to me that since I have had some experience with Mahesh including doing his letters as Mahesh allegedly did Guru Dev’s, I might want to comment on these recordings.
Mahesh Chandra Shrivastava was, if nothing else, a chameleon, fitting into any situation in which he discovered himself. This is not necessarily a bad thing, but it is a very useful thing if fulfilling your personal desires is at issue. Very possibly, the difficulty we all have with the human chameleon is that we cannot characterize this slippery fellow one way or another. The human chameleon will be universally good, universally bad, universally corrupt, universally pure and any and all things in between, depending upon who it is you ask.
From my perspective, I can only talk about the Mahesh I knew and watched. Sometimes he was brilliant, sometimes he made my skin crawl. Once in a while he was so compassionate I was overwhelmed with that tingling sensation of the immanence of heaven itself. Sometimes he was cruel, praising the half-assed efforts of some bimbo or bimbet in order to put down some hard-working individual who had fallen short of perfection. Sometimes he was funny, witty, clever with words and other times he played dumb to get someone to blather on and on, displaying ignorance so that he could take someone’s words and feed them back to us. Or, sometimes he played dumb to see just how much someone knew in case that person knew something he didn’t or in case that individual needed to be sent away before he made trouble.
Very curiously, Mahesh rarely played the all-knowing and spiritually majestic individual we all thought he was. Once in a while, in small, select groups, he would give a glimpse of his vast knowledge, his near miraculous insight, his encyclopaedic comprehension of things for which we could only thirst and be grateful for the tiniest drops upon our parched tongues. Now, 30+ years later, looking back, I wonder: did he really know, or only have that tiniest drop with which he tantalized us, with which he pretended to much grander status than he actually possessed. I do not think we can ever know because we cannot go back, knowing what we know now and question him.
Please refer to John’s Blog,
2 Rare MP3s of the Maharishi on His Ashram Duties

The Maharishi on his duties in Guru Dev's ashram
You can also read Paul’s transcription at

“Right in the beginning, I joined the ashram, I came, and then I was amongst thirty or forty brahmacharis, and pandits and all that, all that.
All what? Was 30 or 40 people the whole Ashram, or were there 30 or 40 brahmacharis in addition to the pandits? Is he being deliberately obscure? And “right in the beginning” means what, the beginning of Guru Dev’s tenure as Shankarcharya? He came to Guru Dev’s Ashram and there was a lot going on. This doesn’t really tell us very much about the Ashram, but it might imply that as a fairly young person he felt a little overwhelmed. But as we look closely at what Mahesh says and the way he says it, other implications seem credible.
And they were very wise people, pandits of all the six systems of philosophy, and pandits of all the smrittis, shrutis, and all that.
“And all that” – is he being dismissive, as if all these “very wise people” were somehow secondary to something? We can easily take it as a given that Mahesh felt that all these very wise people were, in his opinion, secondary to Guru Dev; but as I read, I continue to wonder if, perhaps, these very wise people were secondary to Mahesh’s image of himself. I am well aware that I am reading something into these words. But so often I remember Mahesh discovering some individual had studied with some other teacher and in all innocence (and I truly think, all slyness as well), he would ask oh, and what did he teach? Does this sentence tell us that Mahesh had found himself in the candy store of all candy stores? Did he consider all these very wise people ripe for his picking? For any spiritual seeker, to discover oneself suddenly in the company of scholars, intellectuals, experts in the field of knowledge to which one aspires must be breathtaking. But the ego considers them fair game, doesn’t it. So here is, if I am reading this clearly, an implication that Mahesh felt himself on, if not equal footing, at least where he belonged. I do not think the image of the “industrial spy” finding himself hired by the company he has been engaged to spy upon would be very much different from the situation Mahesh found himself in.
The whole learning round about Shankaracharya was vast retinue of learned people and I was absolutely insignificant.
What a brilliant opportunity. “Absolutely insignificant” – but there he was, the proverbial fly on the wall. I am sure it was humbling; but our Mahesh is not a humble person by any means as will be clear. All he needs is one foot in the door and the rest, biding his time, polishing his image, cultivating his performance – the rest is child’s play for this consummate artist.
I had some knowledge of Hindi, and some of English,
OK, stop right there! Mahesh’s English, although slanted by the picturesqueness of the subcontinent, is unquestionably very, very good. I am told by native Hindi speakers that Mahesh’s Hindi is very cultivated. Is he playing Eliza Doolittle? I do not think it is over the top to suggest that right here, in his own few words, he is playing upon his audience as upon a stringed instrument. It’s quite a performance.
and a little bit of Sanskrit,
Through all the time I spent with Mahesh, he consistently claimed no knowledge of Sanskrit. Vernon Katz translated the Gita for him and a team of armatures told him, at Estes Park, what the g Veda said. I listened whilst they explained to him what the idiomatic expressions were all about and the manner in which classical interpretation gave each letter of the Devanagari script its own meaning. Curiously, from what I have been told, this is a little like Kabalistic interpretation of the Torah. I also listened the next day as Mahesh presented this information as a revelation and cognition from his own vast and deep understanding thanks to Guru Dev. (From beyond the grave Guru Dev had sent a bunch of amateurs?)
No, Mahesh clearly implied he had cognized these revelations from deep meditation. sigh my idol with feet of cheap clay.
but in that big huge learned assembly, this was absolutely insignificant, and English, of course, it was not necessary at all.
So, if he had so little to offer, how’d he get to be there? Mahesh is the incredibly humble person no one notices. At least, that’s the image he’s playing for this audience. Yes, we get it. With no qualifications at all he had managed to get into the Ashram of the Shankaracharya. Is this amenable to reason? Who was this kshyatriya (kāyastha, scribe, administrator caste) and how did he get in the door? He is making such a case for insignificance for himself, and like hungry cats finding the cream left out, we were lapping it up; but the question remains, if he was so insignificant, what or who did he have going for himself? Was his uncle, “Dr.” Varma, somehow responsible? Mahesh has consistently made it clear that Guru Dev was above and beyond being bribed or influenced. Yet, Mahesh’s presence in the Ashram draws this into question, as does Mahesh’s own storytelling draw himself into question.
And then it was about a week and as everyone in the morning would go and do the prostrations and come out and then there was nothing to do. And one week passed and then I thought.
So, in two weeks, according to this version of Mahesh’s own account, he had got his act together. Or, if, as he so often does, he repeats himself, then in one week he had figured out what he had to do and how he had to do it. I think he’s telling us a lot about his James Bond approach to getting the spy job done! He cased the joint in a week. Isn’t he wonderful! Are there people like this? Who could possibly question that? The jails are full of them. Here he was in the candy store of all candy stores and he hadn’t got his hand in the jar yet! But I’ll bet he knew where the jar was and how to get around the obstacles, as we’ll see.
“It’s ridiculous to waste all this time.”
In one or two weeks, he felt he was wasting time! Wow. Why weren’t we paying attention when he told this story? Chances are, we were probably rounding, critical thinking had been brought to a standstill and devotion (hero worship?) was blossoming full tilt.
Was just once in the morning and once in the evening, go and prostrate and come out.
Personally, I wonder. Were I able to be in the presence of Guru Dev, would I bitch about seeing him once in the morning and once in the evening after only one or two weeks? What is this telling us about Mahesh? Look at our own craving to get near him; look how we would sit outside his door hoping hour after hour for the tiniest glimpse of him, from him. Look how obediently we sat in the lecture hall waiting and waiting for him to arrive! And Mahesh talks about wasted time.
I am personally sure that if I had had the opportunity on any course to go into Mahesh’s room and prostrate before him twice a day, I’d have thought myself in heaven. What is Mahesh telling us here? What was the hurry, what was he after?
So I made friends with a man who was cleaning his room, something like that, like that.
Or something like what, exactly? What is Mahesh letting us fill in here? Why is he leading us on. This is a piece of theatre. The magician waves his wand, does silly hand gestures, waves a shimmering cloth and says magical words, but the real trickery goes on where we cannot see and all this showmanship has nothing to do with the trick. It’s immaterial. Mahesh might as well have said now look over there and pay no attention to what I’m actually doing over here.
What was the man actually doing and where does Mahesh get the chutzpah to approach this person, apparently, within one or two weeks of being absolutely insignificant in the Ashram? This does not sound credible or logical, I must admit. Guru Dev was a Brahmin. How does a kashitrya even contemplate doing something so intimate for a high status Brahmin like the Shankaracharya?
Adjusting his table, this, this, this.
Presumably “adjusting his table” refers to some sort of puja table? Clearing away the dinner plates? “Adjusting his table” is a really ridiculous thing to say, as far as a Western audience is concerned, yet this went unquestioned as if any one of us might go into some important person’s house and adjust the furniture! What kind of fools was he taking us for? Obviously really unquestioning ones!
I said, “Oh, could you not take rest? You must be feeling very tired,” and something, something.
What was this person doing and where did Mahesh get the impression that he was so invaluable being absolutely insignificant that he could approach this person? First Mahesh explains to us that he was the humblest of the humble, lowest of the low, that his significance in the Ashram did not even exist, and in two weeks (one week?) he is literally trying to worm his way into the housekeeping staff, the “special” housekeeping staff – not just any cleaning job. Is this Oceans Eleven or something, something, something?
Were people so bored around Guru Dev that someone of no significance whatsoever could show up and talk this way to them, treat them like idiot children? Just who did Mahesh think he was? Or, what is he telling us about himself as an industrial spy. What is he telling us about his presumption of his own importance?
And I said. “I could...”
Was it Groucho Marx or maybe George Burns who said that if you could fake sincerity you had it made? Mahesh could fake innocence, charm, believability, sincerity, kindness, interest in fools, something, something, like that.
Can you imaging approaching Jerry Jarvis and suggesting you could carry the deerskin because “you must be feeling very tired” – I personally wonder what would happen to me if I approached anyone in some such position with a line like this? In the old days when I did a lot of theatre and got good reviews, even then, I’d never have had the nerve to try to pull of a stunt like this. In my time around Mahesh, because I was seen to be close to him, many people approached me with lame excuses not particularly unlike the one Mahesh tells us he used. Really, they got laughed at on the spot. People would come to me and say “Maharishi wants me to do/to have/to …” and my immediate response was “when he tells me, then I’ll take care of it.”
Another question raised by Mahesh’s unctuous insinuation of himself into the affairs of the Ashram is what was in Guru Dev’s private quarters that interested Mahesh? Here, a newcomer, one, possibly two weeks into Ashram life and he is trying to get into Guru Dev’s room.
What’s wrong with this picture?
But he said, “You can’t. You can’t come in this room,” and this and this.
Had Mahesh met his first real obstacle to his world plan for himself? Somehow I cannot see this going down well.
And “this and this” what? I find it interesting how Mahesh uses expression like “this and this” or “something, something” so that we, the listeners can fill in for ourselves how glorious it is to hear these words and to decorate our imagination with what we presume is Mahesh telling us how wonderful his life was (how wonderful our own lives would be in this situation). But, to some extent, our lives were like this situation and we had a snowball’s chance in a microwave of pushing ourselves into his privacy as he apparently invaded Guru Dev’s.
But I said, “Maybe when Guru Dev is not here, when he is taking his bath, and I could clean or something.”
Oh, give me a break! Imaging pulling this stunt on Jerry Jarvis or another of the skin boys! Do you imagine you could get into Mahesh’s room when he wasn’t there! What was Mahesh discovering here, that if you treat people like morons they will act like morons?
And he said, “Yes, that time you can come but get out quickly, and don’t disturb things.” Like that.
But Mahesh already said he wanted to adjust things! Looking for what, I wonder! Guru Dev’s hiding place? Something like that? What did he think was hidden? Shouldn’t we wonder why he was looking for it?
Like that Mahesh did a Mission Impossible? All those pundits and scholars and one of them fell for this little weasel’s slick line. I believe Mahesh got into Guru Dev’s room; I do not believe it was this easy unless he was masquerading as someone or something he wasn’t. Such as? Did Mahesh come to the Ashram pretending to be some scion of a noble family suddenly overcome with humility and a sincere quest for God? On my TTC at Estes Park, Mahesh said again and again that the actor can play god better than god.
This is the man who told us we could levitate. This is the person who could convince anyone of anything. Just “like that and that”! And we sat there, like cats into the milk, lapping it up, not processing, not thinking, simply and innocently believing the quite unlikely if not altogether impossible.
So I started on that, some cleaning of the floor, something, something, adjusting something.’
“Adjusting something”? Just what was Mahesh adjusting? Hello, I’d like to come into your house and adjust something! Wouldn’t any sensible person be reaching for the phone to dial 911 or opening the drawer where the pistol is kept? Really, how long did it actually take him to gain the confidence of others, to play the actor playing god, better than god?
As I see it, Mahesh, in relatively few words has basically explained to us that he was capable of worming his way into any situation he chose. He is telling us fairly plainly and with examples that he could do anything he wanted, could accomplish his goals with little difficulty or interference.
Just what were those goals? Why did he want to get into Guru Dev’s room and why was going into Guru Dev’s room to prostrate before him so unsatisfying (a ridiculous waste of time).
If a killer told us he could kill us easily any time he wanted, if a thief told us locks were no obstacle and that any time he wished he could take any possession of ours he fancied, we’d be horrified right there and then. Yet we sat there listening to Mahesh tell us that our most important possession, our mind, was already his! That he could adjust something.
Please refer to John’s Blog,
2 Rare MP3s of the Maharishi on His Ashram Duties

The Maharishi on his secretarial duties in Guru Dev's ashram

It so happened, that, must have been a very good time of my life.
I guess I’d congratulate myself, too, if I had pulled off a stunt like worming my way onto the “special” cleaning staff in a mere one or two weeks! Especially since being on the cleaning staff got me into some really private place where … what was Mahesh after?
The pandit, the wise man, that was doing all correspondence, he had to go home for something.
Remember at the beginning of the first section, Mahesh said I was amongst thirty or forty brahmacharis, and pandits and all that, all that? If you worked in a bank and had wormed your way onto the cleaning staff so you could get into the vault and then one of the tellers left … are we really comfortable with what Mahesh is telling us?
The rumours the cook poisoned Guru Dev persist. The feeling that somehow Mahesh had had something to do with it also persist. They are probably groundless, but did their seed get planted because the wise man, that was doing all correspondence, he had to go home for something? Remember when Mahesh said I had some knowledge of Hindi, and some of English, and a little bit of Sanskrit? The barely literate cleaning staff who wormed his way into cleaning the vault suddenly espies an opening in the teller department? What kind of fantasy is this?
So he went there, and there was no one.
What happened to all the other pandits and wise people? Why was there no one else of status to do this job? What kind of strings is Mahesh suggesting he had pulled and why were we enjoying this story? Paul kindly sent me a list of dates for Guru Purnima, when Mahesh liked to tell this story. I had attended at least 3 or 4 such sessions! But I never questioned anything. Amazing.
So then the letters were coming and then I was bringing them.
The self-appointed Ashram mailman? How does someone who describes his position in the Ashram as less than noticeable suddenly get his hands on the mail? Admittedly, in the group photos of Guru Dev that I have seen, there are only around 10 at the most around Guru Dev. Mahesh and Sattyanand are there. What about all those 30 or 40 when Mahesh entered the Ashram? Surely 10 people weren’t running the operation of the Shankaracharya’s Ashram! How could that be? Is Mahesh suggesting something sinister about his own presence in the Ashram, holding it right under our noses because he has us looking elsewhere? Harry Houdini, I can imagine. Just how poorly did we recognize Mahesh for what he might have been? As anyone who spent time around him will easily remember, people appeared and disappeared all the time. Doesn’t this raise questions?
Nobody told me to do it but I knew that that pandit had gone and, and, and sometimes he would allow me to read out the letters to him.
The pandit would allow, or Guru Dev would allow? Probably Guru Dev. But there’s that word “sometimes”. Who read them out when Mahesh didn’t? Surely Guru Dev could read. What kind of picture is Mahesh building for us, implanting in us? “Nobody told me to do it” – to what extent had Mahesh taken over? Did he manage to send people away, to do things elsewhere? How? Wasn’t Guru Dev in charge, or didn’t Guru Dev care? Mahesh’s story isn’t making sense. Is it?
One letter was there. It came for his blessing from some state in India asking that they are going to perform a big yagya and they want the blessings of Shankaracharya. And that letter was there and that date was approaching, about a week was left. And that I thought was a letter very responsible for the organisation to answer.
It was important because Mahesh thought it was important. The cleaner had taken over the duties of the vice president of the organizaton? Mahesh made out he was of no importance, but he is important enough to know that this letter represents something very responsible for the organization. Weren’t we paying attention when he told this story? I must not have been, I was on all fours lapping it up with the rest of the felines.
For 18 years, I was the administrative assistant for a Department Head of a rehabilitation hospital. I was responsible for correspondence, the office mail and taking mail and medical charts in and out of the boss’ office. Imagine my reaction if one of the cleaning staff suggested he or she could go into the doctor’s office and adjust things or that some letter in particular was important for the boss to attend to! Imagine the boss’ reaction had this gone on in my absence or when I was on holiday! Sometimes, especially when a former client had died, the boss would tell me to write a letter of condolence; once in a while he would ask me to write a response to something he didn’t feel he needed to be bother with. All well and good. I was his pandit, so to speak.
And I asked Guru Dev, “Oh, oh, the answer of this letter?”
Pushy little git, wasn’t he! This isn’t asking, this is being pushy. I can imagine one of the cleaning staff buttonholing the doctor in the hallway and asking for help with some letter, medical arrangement, appointment. My boss would have been very gracious about it. He’d have sent them to me or taken the letter or whatever it was and either dealt with it dictating a reply or asked me to do something (but not just anything, to do something here can only mean what he had in mind).
But Mahesh was telling the Shankaracharya what should be done. Was Guru Dev that disinterested in his job? Maybe. Maybe he was happy to just sit and smile when people came by during public times. Is that believable?
And he would just not mind it, because in his eyes just one organization doesn’t mean anything, or something.
Maybe Guru Dev had, as we used to say, his head in the clouds. Just attend to this or that and everything will be celestial. This isn’t what we call the real world, is it. Was Mahesh the operator he appears to be? Was Guru Dev a sitting duck? Was Mahesh the only person in the Ashram with aspirations to power and grandeur? How did he get all the pundits and very wise people out of his way so he could worm his way into Guru Dev’s room, into Guru Dev’s mail? Where did he get the balls to tell Guru Dev what special letter needed answering?
Surely Mahesh can’t expect us to believe he was the only one who could read or write; maybe he could type better than some of the older pandits or very wise people, but, come on, this is ridiculous. Guru Dev was sought out to be Shankaracharya and publicly recognized by the scholars and religious leaders of his day. He was, in this regard the complete opposite of Mahesh. Yet Mahesh is taking over, knows what’s important.
But, I thought it’s a very great responsibility of the organisation, it’s if someone wants Shankaracharya’s blessing then it’s for the organisation to reply, and reply his blessings and create goodwill and inspire that organization.
“I thought”. Mahesh has taken over. Apparently he is saying that the organization’s yagya is important (to him) and it is therefore important for the Ashram, for Guru Dev, to do what is asked of him. Guru Dev could care less? Guru Dev wasn’t doing his job? Guru Dev was slacking off?
Another question that seems to underlie what is going on here is what about this organization? Is there some influence from this organization that is supporting Mahesh in some way? If the pandit doing the mail had to go (and we don’t know if the situation was benign or that maybe Mahesh had a hand it in) was this particular organization somehow behind Mahesh’s rise to greatness? Was Mahesh planning on asking a favour from this organization, something like I’ll do you a favour, but in return you have to … What’s going on, anyway?
Oh two or three more days gone, and two or three times quietly I remembered [reminded] but didn’t get reply.
Is it being suggested that Guru Dev was asleep on the job or that Guru Dev was testing Mahesh? Surely as Shankaracharya, Guru Dev knew what was and was not important. And what about the rest of the mail? What was going on with that while Mahesh is trying to grease the wheels of progress over this organization’s yagya? – Where was the rest of the Ashram staff? What were they doing? I certainly knew people around Mahesh who couldn’t have cared less what Mahesh was or was not doing, what the organization was or was not doing. But it seems that only Mahesh knew what was important, that only he and Guru Dev were running things and Guru Dev had to be reminded, or it had to be remembered to him, what he needed to do.
One day I said, “It’s only about four, five days left. Shall I make a draft and read to Guru Dev, or anything?”
“and read to Guru Dev, or anything” – what shall I do, I’m getting money under the table to influence a powerful religious figure and he isn’t cooperating? Was this Mahesh’s dilemma?
And He said, “What you will write?”
Or did he say who do you think you are? – or what was the cook feeding Guru Dev?
And that was the end I said,
Well, I’d had enough of this? Is that what Mahesh is suggesting, that his patience was running out?
I took some a little bit more bold steps,
Mahesh realized he is being bold, that he is being pushy, that he is simply taking over. Every organization has one of these, some climb the ladder to success by undermining others. Some impatiently claw their way to the top by any means possible. At least Mahesh is telling us what he was doing.
He isn’t telling us just why this particular organization’s yagya is important, so important that he has to take charge. Why?
I said, now that was the time for him to rest after lunch, and I closed the door and came out. Coming out I said, ‘I’ll write a few lines and show to Guru Dev in the evening. He would never reply.” I closed the door and came out.
If I can’t get him to do it, I’ll do it myself. Sneaky, conniving little weasel, isn’t he.
One question remains to be asked: why didn’t we think it suspicious that (1) the pandit wasn’t replaced by another pandit, (2) how did Mahesh succeed in inserting himself into the position of a pandit (!) and (3) where did Mahesh get off opening Guru Dev’s mail.
So there is some suspicion that maybe Mahesh had some backing from whatever organization wanted Guru Dev’s blessing (or was it to show Guru Dev’s endorsement?)
Mahesh acknowledges Guru Dev would never reply. Why not? Guru Dev didn’t care? Guru Dev was not in favour of this? Guru Dev saw through Mahesh scheme?
I came out in my room and I said, “Now come on, I have to write an answer to this. What? What? How to write? What to do? Now supposing if I was a Shankaracharya? What I’ll say in that letter?” And I just imposed Shankaracharyaship on myself.
If you return to the link where Paul provides a transcript of this talk and scroll down to The Statement issued by: BAL BRAHMACHARI SHRI MAHESH JI – you will notice that the statement begins My own self in different forms. Mahesh lists himself as “shri” (something like ‘distinguished’) and then says that Guru Dev is another form of himself. Kind of breathtaking, isn’t it. Mahesh must have had some sort of psychotic break when he realized that Guru Dev was not going to write a letter supporting this particular cause which Mahesh himself apparently felt very strongly about.
I watched Mahesh very closely in those two years I spent by his side day in and day out. Mahesh was a real schmoozer and made deals and set up alliances and stroked egos and played upon people as upon a stringed instrument. I can only wonder when this began? Perhaps in those first days in the candy store we know as Guru Dev’s Ashram? With whom had Mahesh been making deals, what happened to all those 30 or 40 pundits and
brahmacharis? If you look through Paul’s web site, you won’t find photos of 30 or 40 pandits and brahmacharis around Guru Dev.
And I said. “Yes, all the religious organisations look to Shankaracharya, head of the religion. The main thing is, that they should get inspiration from the blessing of Shankaracharya.
“They should”? Or should Mahesh’s probab supporters get what they paid for? Whether or not Guru Dev wants to give it?
To what extent was Mahesh in control of Guru Dev’s affairs? This is a very troubling statement in which Mahesh reveals his craftiness, his seduction of power and his ability to take charge. Contemplate for a moment the impossible: John Hagelin becoming US President. Ridiculous, yes. But supposing. Who would move into the White House and who would pull the strings.
As an organisation doing this great yagya, inspiring the people in the locality for religious life, so they should have the approval of Shankaracharya for this good act of religious value.”
Mahesh is thinking like the Shankaracharya. Or is Mahesh projecting his thinking ON the Shankaracharya, thinking like the Sahakaracharya should think in this situation. Or, has he completely taken over Guru Dev’s affairs and is deciding who should and who should not get what? Remember, this is all about one letter and one organization. It really seems to me that Mahesh is taking over Guru Dev’s status in order to promote something Guru Dev isn’t all that interested in. I have probably heard Mahesh tell this story 3 or 4 times, maybe more, and I never thought about the implications until I saw the words in print.
I somehow wrote.
Uh-huh. Wanna pull the other one, too?
And in the evening - it was just a very short thing, because nothing very long has to go from Shankaracharya, who is a great authority on religion, so very short inspiration. I made some few lines.
I just flipped out, thought I was the Shankaracharya and wrote something inspirational. Even though I was a nobody who pretended to be barely literate.
For those of us still living in the real world, would we like to try this at work? Of course. Would we like to live on Welfare, which would almost immediately be our only source of income? Mahesh, posing to us as a nobody, can write as if he’s “a great authority on religion.”
I personally do not hear the bells of ringing true clamoring for attention here.
In the evening when I opened the door and entered and I read out that thing, in one simple breath quickly. And it sounded so apt, so appropriate.
I was so completely crazy that it just sounded good to me.
Are we wondering about why Mahesh, a nothing in the Ashram, has promoted himself to opening Guru Dev’s door and going in and telling Guru Dev what to do? In the time I spent around Mahesh, no one, absolutely no one, went into Mahesh’s room, ever, unless admitted by one of the skin boys. There were door keepers and they did their job well. After a while, people had to get past the Germans before one could even get to one of the door keepers.
In Joyce Collin Smith’s Call No Man Master, she talks about Mahesh’s room when it was empty. But even that changed.
Some time ago I wrote a short piece about Mahesh telling someone that when Guru Dev died Guru Dev’s spirit or being or consciousness entered Mahesh. It seems that just maybe Mahesh thought this was going on whilst Guru Dev was still alive.
And then he said, “Will these people get it if you write? Then send it.”
I said; “Yes, they can get it, it’s yet four days.”
That’s all he said.
He didn’t say hey, little buddy you do my job better than I do, go ahead and send it. The way Mahesh is telling it it seems as if Guru Dev is being held hostage.
Then I quickly wrote
I thought he already wrote it. Did he write something else?
and put on a seal of Shankaracharya and did the whole paraphernalia,
I can hear us laughing. But it isn’t funny any more. The insignificant brahmachari with only a little English and Hindi and Sanskrit has access to the seal of the Shankaracharya! It isn’t clear what “the whole paraphernalia” is, but there is something so wrong with this picture that “disturbing” doesn’t cover it.
and sent it. From that day probably I gave an impression that I could write something useful.
“I gave an impression.” Cloying, cunning, slippery, sly, devious little worm passes how many days and nights putting on an act of piety, devotion, hard-working, nose-to-the-grindstone and miraculously transforms from nobody kshyatriya to telling Guru Dev what to do and then doing it for him and putting Guru Dev’s seal on it.
Surely there’s nothing wrong with this. AS IF.
That was the first thing. And from there, the letters came to me for replying and I was replying and sometimes reading to him.’
All this time on one letter. How’d he get it? Was it sent to him personally (do us a favour, we’ll be good to you when you need it)? During this time, were there no other important letters? During a lull whilst the secretary was away, Mahesh stole the job, made sure the guy didn’t come back? There are so many questions that should have been asked while he was entertaining us with his happy take-over plot. But, we were probably too stunned to notice and too foggy later to remember.
I was replying and sometimes reading to him” – Holy Sacred Cow! Sometimes reading to him. The little schmoozer sure knew how to take over!
In the midst of the SCI taping, Mahesh took sick. It turns out he wasn’t physically ill, but so totally fed up with being told what to do, what points to talk about, when to talk about them, how short to keep it, what not to say, when to stop talking – that he quite literally phoned in sick.
I had been part of the planning committee that set up the structure the course would follow. I made several structural suggestions that Mahesh really liked and incorporated into the course. I had worked on every one of the SCI talks, not as a talk designer, Max Flischer, Anthony Campbell, Vincent Snell and a few others did that with him every morning. I transcribed talks, arranged materials, transported materials from the lecture hall to Mahesh’s house. EVERYTHING had to be reviewed by him, approved by him, nothing went anywhere without his consent.
It was in the midst of these proceedings that he shut the whole thing down. But, of course, by this time he was trapped by his own decisions. Everybody knew he was making the long promised SCI course. A whole heck of a lot of people knew he was half way through. He was really screwed and there was no way out.
It was during this time that he called me into his room. Quite unlike Mahesh describing his situation with Guru Dev. I remember it like right now. I asked him if he was taking his medication. Vincent (an MD and orthopaedic surgeon from London) had prescribed something. Mahesh lied and said yes he was. Mahesh only “took” what Hari, the cook, prepared. I asked Mahesh if he was feeling better.
I remember that the room was dark, the draperies were closed and there was only a dim light near where Mahesh was sitting.
Mahesh asked something about the course, but I don’t remember what he said. Then he said he’d like for me to do his letters. It was like the kind of surprise one gets absentmindedly wandering into a street and discovering that the sound one hears is that of a Mack truck blaring its horn as it bears down on where you’re standing.
Yes. I was shocked and surprised. I had many suspicions in the back of my mind. I had by this time, maybe 6 months or more, watched Mahesh very closely and couldn’t make what I observed line up with what I believed. But belief was strong and in all humility and sincerity, I said yes. I did ask what I should do, but he said we’d talk later.
And that was that. After leaving his room I confided in Billi and Lewis (the skin boys at that time) what had transpired. They were overjoyed. They said that I was going to be special because that’s what Mahesh did for Guru Dev. I recall that Devindra was there, too. But he didn’t say anything.
It was not until after the SCI course was finished that someone brought me some letters that he said Mahesh said I should take care of. I went with the letters to whoever was on the door (this is how we talked, you went to whoever was on the door and told that person what you were there for and whenever Mahesh called that person in, they mentioned your presence and your purpose was made known to Mahesh). When I went in Mahesh smiled. He was pleased to see me. I told him I had these letters. He said to read the first one. I hesitated because there was an envelopee inside the envelopee and on the outside it said the letter was about mantras. I told Mahesh this and he said that that was all right. He said open it and read it. I read it out to him. Mahesh said to tell the person that everything was all right.
After a couple more not dissimilar from this. Mahesh said that to just tell them it was all right. And that was it. This went on for a while until everything in Fiuggi was settled. Someone would bring me a letter or two and I would open it, read it and write that Mahesh had said everything was just fine and to continue. Our wonderful, caring, ever blessed guru! – and also during this time I was Xeroxing materials for Mahesh to take to the US to teach SCI. I also wrote the teachers questions for about half the SCI course. I probably did other stuff, too, but I don’t remember.
Then Mahesh went to the US to teach his SCI course and a few others, myself included, went to Semmering in Austria for what turned out to be really bad food and absolutely nothing to do except avoid the dictatorial Germans who were in charge. Only once did an envelope arrive for me with letters to attend to. (Semmering is near Mürzzuschlag where Brahms stayed when he wrote his third symphony. Often I hitch-hiked there because I’m a die-hard Brahms fan.)
While in Austria, a phone call came for several of us to come to Seelisberg from which we were dispatched to La Antilla, Spain. I was told by mahesh, over the phone, that I was to teach the course there. It was not until after that course when we had again returned to Seelisberg that Mahesh had me writing letters for him. One in particular was to Haylä Śəllase. Mahesh made very certain that all the elaborations of Śəllase’s title were used (and there were a lot). I wrote the letter, but he went over it and over it, no simple, apt, inspirational lines. It was a very long, very elaborate letter and after Mahesh was certain that it was what he wanted (as if I was going to impose Shankaracharyaship on myself and post it for him), he personally signed it and had someone else mail it.
Mahesh seems to have taken over for/from Guru Dev, taken charge of Guru Dev’s affairs and even taken Guru Dev on a speaking tour all on his (Mahesh’s) decision-making. AND Mahesh made sure no one EVER got away with an act like that from Beacon Light until the 5th of February 2008 when he died

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