Panditji (Nilakantha Mahadeva Joshi)

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With Panditji - Manoranjan Ganguli, Karuna, Navajata, Satprem, Madanlal.jpg

(Mother to Satprem, November 1958:) “I saw a GREAT light, like a glory, when you were at Rameswaram. A great light. And when you returned here, this light was upon you, very strong and imposing. But at the same time, I felt that it needed protecting – to be shielded, protected – that it was not yet established.”[1]


(Mother to Satprem, 1960:) “Panditji has the power of rendering things very material – that's his great power, which is why things get upset when he comes here. Overnight, someone progressing well comes to grips with difficulties; money on the way stops coming; you fall sick, things break down – all because he has the power to give materiality to things from above. For, you see, you can go right to the height of your consciousness and from there sweep away the difficulties (at a certain moment of the sadhana, difficulties truly don't exist, it's only a matter of nabbing the undesirable vibration and it's over, it's reduced to dust). And everything is fine up above, but down below it's swarming. When Panditji comes, it's precisely all this swarming that becomes tangible.”[2]


(Mother to Satprem, 26 December 1958:) “My dear child,
         I have received your letter of the 24th. ... I am glad that Panditji is doing something for you. I like this man and I was counting upon him. I hope he will succeed. Perhaps his work will be useful here, too – for I have serious reasons to believe that this time occult and even definite magic practices aimed directly against my body have been mixed in with the attacks. ...
         Keep me posted on the result of Panditji's action; it interests me very much ...”[3]


(Satprem to Mother, 28 December 1958:) “Sweet Mother,
         ... If you wish, two things can be done to help your action: either Panditji can undertake certain mantric operations upon you here in Rameswaram, or better still, he can immediately come to Pondicherry with Swami and do what is needed in front of you.
         ...If you agree that he come to see you, he will immediately know the source of these attacks upon you and will even be able to make the attacking force speak. He has this power. Of course, neither Panditji nor Swami will divulge this to anyone, and everything will be kept secret. You have only to send word, or a telegram: “No objection.”
         The work can be done from here also, but naturally it will not be quite as effective. In that case, you would have to set a specific time to synchronize the action in Rameswaram and Pondicherry. Swami can also do something in his pujas. It is for you to decide, but I hope you will not want to prolong this battle unnecessarily.”[4]


(Mother to Satprem, 30 December 1958:) “My dear child,
         I have just now received your letter of the 28th. On that day I definitely felt that there was a decisive change in the situation and I understood right away that you had spoken to Swami and also that what I had written to you gave you the opportunity to take a great step. I am very happy and can say with certitude that the worst is over. However, from several points of view, I infinitely appreciate Panditji's offer. And although I do not think it necessary, or even desirable, that they both come here (it would create a veritable revolution and perhaps even a panic among the ashramites), I am sure that their intervention in Rameswaram itself would not only be useful but most effective ...”[5]


(Satprem to Mother, 6 January 1959:) “Panditji continues his work on me daily; it is to last 41 days in all. He told me that he wants to undo the things of several births. When it is over, he will explain it all to me. ...
         His action upon you is to continue for another five days, after which he is positive that you will be entirely saved. According to him, it is indeed a magic attack originating in Pondicherry, and perhaps even from someone in the Ashram!! He told me that this evil person would finally be forced to appear before you ... I am learning many interesting things from him.”[6]


(Mother to Satprem, 8 January 1959:) “I am so happy that Panditji is taking good care of you, teaching you Sanskrit, speaking to you of the Tantra. It is just what I wanted.
         His action here has been very effective and really very interesting. I still do not know whether someone has really done black magic, and the ‘villain’ has yet to appear before me. But already several days ago the malefic influence completely disappeared without leaving any trace in the atmosphere. Also their mantric intervention did not stop at that, for it has had another most interesting result. I am preparing a long letter for Swami to explain all this to him ...”[7]


(Amrit:) “Born Nilakantha Mahadeva Joshi on 29th December 1903, Panditji was of the priestly Brahmin caste. Originally from Maharashtra in North India, over 400 years ago his family was called by the Queen of Rameshwaram to serve as pujaris or priests in the main Shiva Temple of Rameshwaram. As is the custom in most of the major temples of India, the priests are normally from other states, not native to the area in which the temple is located. For this reason, were the Maharattis from North India summoned to the great temple of Rameshwaram in Tamil Nadu.
         ...
         At the age of nineteen, Panditji met his guru from Maharashtra, Godbole Maharaj, called Ambanandanatha. The ninth guru in the line from Bhaskaraya, Ambananda was seen by the Mother as a man of great commanding power. It was Ambananda who channeled the earnestness of the young Panditji into the practice of the Sri Vidya or Sri Chakra, urging him to concentrate only on the love of the great Mother of the Universe, the Mother of Bliss, Lalita Tripurasundari.
         Focusing all his energies on the realization of the Divine Mother, Panditji was oblivious to all but his quest, prompting his father to beseech Ambananda's intervention. Fearing Panditji's renunciation of familial bonds, his father wanted him married to continue the family line. Summoning Panditji, his guru requested him to yield to his father's request and marry, promising that in the next life, he would attain the liberation he was seeking.
         Speaking to us one day about this, Panditji stated, “If I has become a Siddha, I would not be with you today,” meaning in the liberated state of a Siddha, he would not necessarily be a guru bound by the ordinary rules of social obligation and intercourse. Eventually marrying Savitribhai, later known to us as ‘Maiji’ or simply ‘Mother’, Panditji had two sons, the eldest Shyamu and the younger Balu, and a daughter Kishori, and assumed the mantle of the 10th guru in the lineage from Bhaskaraya.
         Consumed with curiosity and a thirst for knowledge, Panditji explored all the branches of esoteric knowledge associated with Sri Vidya – which signifies ‘The Highest Wisdom’ – from astrology to alchemy, termed Aushadha Yoga, from yantras or geometrical instruments of concentration, to mantras so named words of power. Panditji became a virtual compendium of Tantric knowledge, eliciting the Mother's observation of him as “the greatest living occultist in India”.”[8]


(Amrit:) “Grateful for Panditji's help [with Tantric practice], Satprem referred the Mother to him. At the time, she was enduring an attack of black magic, since the body itself was still vulnerable to such onslaughts of bad will. Panditji then instructed her to face the direction of Rameshwaram at the precise time he would be performing the puja. Relieved of the affliction, the Mother sent him a large card of thanks, writing in bold letters, “This body comes to you in gratitude to thank you for the help you have given it.” It is from this point that the direct contact between the Mother and Panditji commenced.
         From 1959 up to the Mother's passing in 1973, Panditji regularly visited the Sri Aurobindo Ashram. Staying in the ‘Puja House’ set aside for him and his family, Panditji would meditate with the Mother, some sessions of which were recorded in the Agenda later to be published by Satprem.”[9]


(Shyam Sunder:) “At Calcutta I had heard of Panditji as an important visitor to the Ashram. Navajata spoke highly of him as a person of great siddhis and as one who had become very intimate with Mother. He was offered a seat in front of Mother, a rare honour. He was a tantric yogi and spontaneously recognised the Divine Mother at the first sight. He had remarked that Mother was free from all samskara, that is, she was the Immaculate Divine.
         ...
         During my visit to the Ashram, I went twice to see Panditji. He was a cordial and hospitable person always offering something to eat. He did puja every day for long hours. I found him unassuming and witty in his talks.”[10]


(Amrit:) “The Mother also notes Panditji's spiritual achievements as a realization ‘high but narrow’ – its color deep blue and subtle shape pyramidal, rising remarkably upwards like the Meru or Mountain of Sri Chakra. To Frederick Bushnel, named by her Ananta, a disciple of both the Mother and Panditji, she described him as “all gold inside”.”[11]


(Amrit:) “Revealing a countenance visibly austere in his early days of intense tapasya or askesis, Panditji softened considerably in his later years. When I met him in 1977, he was a highly tender and benign father figure, solicitous of my spiritual welfare, loving and kindly in heart, certainly not the evil asura as later to be portrayed by Satprem and his people. His greatest love the Tantra and his guru Ambananda, Panditji treated me like a son, showering me with attention and care in patiently explaining and expounding the finer point of Tantric philosophy and practice, including astrology.”[12]


(Amrit:) “As time went on, some of us slowly coalesced into a group of devoted disciples around Panditji. First were John and Sunaina, both Sri Aurobindo Ashramites from the late 1960s, and a few others after 1977, mainly Aurovilians of various nationalities, American, English, French, Austrian, German, etc. Several times a year – periods of renewal and energizing of aspiration – we would travel together to Rameshwaram to have Panditji's darshan. These trips were normally on dates sacred to India's lunar calendar: Shivaratri in February (the night holy to Lord Shiva), Guru Purnima in July (the full moon of the Guru), Navaratri in October (the 9 nights of the victory of the goddess Durga), and Panditji's birthday in December.
         It was during Shivaratri in February 1978 that a curious incident occurred. Since the house would be unoccupied during the trip to Rameshwaram, B., a former American Airlines stewardess and inmate of Sri Aurobindo Ashram, agreed to look after the place in my absence. On my return, as she tends to exhibit some psychic capacities, B. related a series of experiences which she found more interesting than frightening.
         On Shivaratri night, in the small space in front of the puja area, B. rolled out her bedspread and on lying down, began to hear the mumbling of voices: it's a female, she's taking up too much space, what's she doing here? And as she reached to turn off the night light which was always on, a distinct demand: don't turn off the light, he wants it on. On examining the source of these grumblings, B. found they seemed to emanate from the direction of a Tanjore painting of the god Kartikeya, son of Lord Shiva and Leader of the Divine Hosts, in front of which some small statues of Hindu deities had been placed.
         Suddenly an authoritative voice from the far end of the puja room, where was standing a statue of the Lord Ardhanarishwar, the Androgynous Shiva, silenced the murmurs of disapproval: Don't bother her, she is his guest. This was indeed the night holy to Lord Shiva. After returning home and hearing her narrative, I approached the picture of Kartikeya with the small deities, and scolded them for discomfiting B. At that instant, immediately the picture of Kartikeya fell forward, as if shamed by my reproach.”[13]


(Amrit:) “In February 1981, during the Shivaratri Festival in Rameshwaram, Panditji suddenly ventured to me out of the blue, “If I survive beyond 5th August, I will still remain with you. Please pray to the Divine Mother that I will be with you longer.” Bewildered, I could not take this statement with the seriousness it deserved. However, as foretold, precisely on 5th August 1981, Panditji passed away. The exact same day in the Indian calendar of the Mahasamadhi or physical withdrawal of his own Guru, Ambanandanatha, Panditji suffered a massive heart attack.
         We immediately rushed to Rameshwararm for our last Darshan. Even though forewarned, this turn of events was stunning...
         That his passing was greeted with muted glee by many Collectivists, could only be further evidence of the depths of ignorance to which the community had fallen. For few could have known the extent to which Panditji aided and supported the efforts of the Mother.”[14]


(Amrit:) “As Panditji's body was being borne out of the house by the menfolk (women were not allowed into the cremation grounds), Maiji, his wife, cried out, “How can you do this, how can you leave me with so much responsibility?” A fact unknown at the time, Maiji had been entrusted with Panditji's work, and was to become the 11th Guru in the line from Bhaskaraya Makhin.”[15]




  1. Mother's Agenda 1951-1960, 22 November 1958
  2. Ibid., 16 May 1960
  3. Ibid., 24 December 1958
  4. Ibid., 28 December 1958
  5. Ibid.
  6. Ibid., 6 January 1959
  7. Ibid.
  8. Amrit, Children of Change: A Spiritual Pilgrimage, p.307
  9. Ibid., p.320
  10. Shyam Sunder Jhunjhunwala, Down Memory Lane, p.43
  11. Amrit, Children of Change: A Spiritual Pilgrimage, p.310
  12. Ibid., p.312
  13. Ibid., p.362
  14. Ibid., p.407
  15. Ibid., p.408


See also

External links