Maurice Frydman [Part 3] - His Life Story - Your Heart will melt

Maurice Frydman's personal biography is no less exceptional.
The following is Sri Pant's account of his guru's early life and their subsequent relationship. Apa B.Pant, retired Indian diplomat and Prince of Aundh, who was Frydman's intimate friend and disciple for forty years writes…

BIOGRAPHY #7
by Apa Pant (part 1)
Maurice Frydman's personal biography is no less exceptional. The following is Sri Pant's account of his guru's early life and their subsequent relationship. Apa B.Pant, retired Indian diplomat and Prince of Aundh, who was Frydman's intimate friend and disciple for forty years writes…

I must indeed have earned a great deal of punya (spiritual merit) in many a past life to have deserved to meet with such a unique guide, friend and philosopher as Swami Bharatananda, alias Maurice Frydman. Although he ever kept his personality in the background, his influence on events and individuals, always operating simultaneously at different levels of consciousness, has been incalculable.

It has been Maurice who was the active instrument for me to meet four of the greatest sages of our times. He propelled me to Sri Ramana Maharshi within a few months of my arrival from England in 1937 after the completion of my studies. With Sri J. Krishnamurti, an encounter that was to last over fifty years started at the instigation of Maurice. It was also Maurice who introduced me to Mahatma Gandhi and I thenceforth became a regular visitor at Sevagram. And finally in 1975, only a few weeks before he left the body, his last act was that of taking me to Sri Nisargadatta Maharaj.

His life of experimentation and of experience was linked up with the message and work of these four great souls. But Maurice made us all — his friends and devotees — fellow-pilgrims on his path, urging, advising, often brow-beating us to be sincere, simple, truthful. He would steadily gaze at you, look into you, through you, with those kindly, piercing eyes silently, compassionately, and uncover instantly all your quirks and problems, physical, emotional, mental, spiritual.

He would then relentlessly take you to task for your lapses and immediately offer correct, direct, but often undigestible and even disturbing advice. Revolutionary changes have been brought into many lives after a moment's contact with Maurice Frydman.

That is exactly what happened to me that November in 1937 when I was unexpectedly confronted with Maurice Frydman in Bangalore. I had just returned from a four-and-a-half-year study period at Oxford and London, a very bright-eyed young lad who imagined himself to be a "revolutionary communist". I wanted to fight the British Raj and establish communism in India — in fact, a new Utopia! I was my fathers,-Raj Bhawanrao's, eldest surviving son. He was 61 years old then, and I was 25. He understood my enthusiasm and also my impulsiveness. He arranged for me to get a 3-month "training" in administration in Mysore State, then the most ideal and well-run of the 675 princely states of India.

Father also gave me a private secretary to look after me, a chauffeur together with a new car, and a servant. Within one week of my arrival in Bangalore I was in full form and thoroughly enjoying myself with this period of "princely" training.

A strict timetable of "visits to institutions and factories", followed by "briefings and discussions" was arranged. One such visit was to the Government Electrical Factory on the outskirts of Bangalore. Sri Bharatananda — Maurice Frydman — had been its Director and Chief Executive since 1935.

Being "foreign returned" and a Prince, I was habituated to being treated very deferentially. I, on my side, always wore my best Oxford accent and a condescending princely smile with assumed courtesy. Maurice, on the other hand, was in a very bad mood. A year before, he had taken sannyas and had begun to live according to his vows. When it was reported to Sir Mirza Ismail that his brilliant and efficient Engineer-Director had shaved his head and taken sannyasa that he went to work in saffron robes, begged for his daily bread, and gave away all his wages (Rs.3,000 per month) to the poor and needy, the
Grand Vizier was furious.

He sent for "that Mr. Frydman" to remind him that he had hired an engineer, not a sannyasi and forbade him henceforth to wear gerua.

Maurice, on his side, offered his resignation on the spot, saying that how and what he ate or wore was his personal matter, and that he must be free to follow his own pattern of life so long as "I satisfy all those concerned with the quality of my work as an engineer and manager." A compromise was finally reached according to which Maurice would have to wear European or Mysore dress only when a VIP visited the factory. As he had to put on a suit for my sake, Maurice was in his darkest mood!

As I got out of the car, Maurice was waiting at the doorstep, but instead of returning my smile, he gruffly said, "Well, young Prince, do you know anything of electricity or will I be wasting my time on you?"

I, of course, quickly stepped back into the car and started to slam the door shut, when Maurice realized his mistake and almost dragged me out of the car. "I did not mean to offend you. Forgive me", he apologized, and I saw for the first time that winning smile spread over his suntanned face. Within five minutes of all this drama our vibrations had clicked. And they remained clicked for forty years, until his death on 9th March 1976, and further, till this present time.

From the word go, I was deeply impressed by Maurice's systematic, well-ordered, highly disciplined personality. His intelligence was overpowering; his simplicity scintillating; his spontaneous, genuine love overwhelming. There was nothing false, superficial or superfluous about Maurice. His response to his environment was always razor-sharp and instantaneous, always compassionate. There was never a gap between what he saw and felt and his immediate action. If he saw a beggar in rags he gave him all his food and his shirt as well without ever theorizing about it. There were no dogmas, no theories, no hypotheses; only spontaneous, direct action. He belonged to no political party, religion or "ism".

Once, in Bombay in 1943, my wife Nalini, who was then practicing surgery (gynecology) in the villages of my father's state, Aundh, was talking with him of her work-plan. She spoke of the financial difficulties of poor Aundh in acquiring even the necessary rudimentary equipment. Maurice asked, "How much money do you require immediately?" Nalini said offhand, "Ten thousand rupees", which was then a large sum. Next morning in walks Maurice with Rs.10,000/- in Rs. 100 notes! "Nalini, start work!" he said. That was the way my guru taught: direct, compassionate action, by practical example.

Maurice Frydman was born in 1894 in the Jewish ghetto of Krakaw in Southern Poland, then a part of tsarist Russia. From the accounts that Maurice gave out grudgingly from time to time during our long and close association, it seems that his family was very poor. His father, a devout Jew, worked in the synagogue. His mother sewed, washed clothes and cooked, and brought up her children as best she could, though there was hardly any money to do so. Maurice did not taste white bread until he was thirteen. He acquired his first toothbrush when he was fifteen!

But Maurice was a born genius. He was reading and writing in the Cyrillic, Roman and Hebrew alphabets and speaking fluent Russian, Polish, French, English and Hebrew before he was ten. His father wanted Maurice, his eldest son, to become a rabbi and lead a secure, holy and useful life of service to the "chosen people",who were suffering under the heel of tsarist authority and thus help them survive the persecution generated by the prevalent racial intolerance.

However, Maurice's capabilities were early recognized by his teachers, who thus enabled him to accomplish the all-too-rare feat of a Jew entering the tsarist Russian school in his area.

He proved himself exceptionally brilliant and, having stood first amongst 500 boys in his high school final examinations, he sat for the Central Scholarship Examination and got 95%, standing first in the province of Poland. For this he received a State scholarship, and opted for what was then his strongest urge, a course in electrical engineering. Before he was 20 he had about 100 patents to his name for his electrical and mechanical inventions, of which a "talking book” was one.

Soon he was picked up by the laboratories and then research institutes, and by 1925 had travelled over much of Europe and worked in German, Dutch and Danish industrial establishments.
By the age of 25, however, what was to be his life-long urge had come desperately to the surface. He wanted to "see God". For a few years he had seriously studied the Talmud and other Jewish religious books. Judaism, however, did not satisfy for long the incisive, logical, courageous, non-dogmatic mind of Maurice.


BIOGRAPHY #8
SOURCE: by NK Srinivasan
Pleasanton, California
6th June 2012

Preface
Maurice Frydman is one of those numerous westerners who sought spiritual wisdom of India and stayed in India for their entire lives. His life is extra-ordinary for the devotion he showed towards serving the poor and the needy in India, besides his special skills as an electrical engineer and a manager of modern factories. At once modern and a highly technical person, he
could feel the pulse of his adopted country and serve at the grass root level.

Maurice Frydman sought spiritual wisdom being a close disciple of Bhagwan Ramana Maharshi and later with Nisargadatta Maharaj . The book "Maharshi's gospel" compiled by him [published by Sri Ramanasramam [Sri Ramana Ashram] and "I Am That" —talks of Nisargadatta Maharaj edited & translated by him are too well known and have remained spiritual classics of 20th century.

He was intimately associated with the rural development programs in an impoverished princely state of Aundh in Maharashtra. He travelled on foot , among the villagers in 70 villages to introduce simple technologies for their development. Many would remember that he was the general manager of a modern factory, Government Electric Factory, Bangalore, set up by Maharaja of Mysore.

He introduced many judicial and prison reforms in that tiny state of Aundh. What is more, he drafted a new constitution for this state with the help of Mahatma Gandhi ; Raja of Aundh transferred power from himself to the people, thus created the first republic within British India!

During that time ,he had the unique opportunity to work closely with Mahatma Gandhi at Sevagram, Wardha. Maurice Frydman designed the charkha or hand-operated spinning wheel that became the symbol of Gandhiji's fight against the British rule. He made many devices for village industries with local materials and skills, much before the "Appropriate Technology" movement became a prominent approach for underdeveloped countries.

There was another phase of his work after 1959. He saw hundreds of refugees from Tibet without any support or livelihood or homes. He would work as a single-man brigade to procure lands for them and build settlement villages , literally begging Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru, Prime Minister at that time, much against the indifferent attitude of Government machinery towards these refugees.

As Providence would design, the last phase of his life was spent at the feet of Nisargadatta Maharaj in the latter’s loft-like apartment in crowded Mumbai, to gather his wisdom from his talks and edit the book 'I Am That’. The book became instant success and brought many foreigners to Maharaj’s tenement.
Maurice Frydman, steeped in the knowledge of Vedanta, had earlier become a Hindu monk, initiated by Swami Ramdas of Ananadashram, Kanhangad. Towards the end, he had a beatific vision and breathed his last in the presence of Nisargadatta Maharaj.

I first came to know about Maurice Frydman from Ramana literature.I was drawn to his multi-faceted life with deep devotion to spiritual quest.As far as I know, a full length biography of this saintly sage does not exist. Being self-effacing and humble, Frydman did not leave much documents or photos. I had to gather information from numerous sources, aided by Internet. I hope this long narration would serve an an introductory book on this sage who made India his home. I have provided the needed background material about the times and the milieu he lived to help a modern reader.I shall be obliged for feedback to improve the book and to correct the mistakes.

Chapter 1 Early Life
Maurice Frydman was born in 1894, in Kracow, Poland. His family, being Jewish, lived in a poor ghetto colony. At that time, Poland was a part of Tsarist Russia. The Jewish community had very few privileges from the state-only less than 10 precent of Jewish boys would get public education.

Maurice Frydman was a genius and a polymath. By the age of 10, Maurice was a polyglot— proficient in these languages: Hebrew,Russian, French, Polish and English.[He later spoke about 14 languages, including several Indian languages like Marathi, Tamil and Kannada]. His father wanted him to become a rabbi being the eldest son in the family but he would not become one.

Maurice stood first among 500 students in his final year at school. Standing first in a scholarship exam by the state , Maurice would enroll for a course in electrical engineering. He was employed in several electrical factories in Europe before he came to France seeking a job.

While working in an electric factory in Paris, he had already received several patents for electrical devices; he was around 20 years at that time. He had also invented a "talking book”.

Maurice Frydman
By the age of 25, a divine discontent erupted in him. He wanted to "see God". He studied Talmud and other Jewish scriptures. He got converted to Russian Orthodox Church and became a monk and even joined a solitary monastery in Poland. { Unfortunately not much information is available regarding this phase of his life.} But religious dogma and rituals of organized religions did not interest him.

When he came to Paris to work, he discovered 'Vedanta* through books in the National Library. He poured over the Gita, the Upanishads and the Mahabharata. He found the Vedantic path suitable to quench his spiritual thirst, away from dogmatic precepts. He resolved to go to India and seek spiritual wisdom
there.

Chapter 2 Call of India
Like many seekers of the west of his generation, Maurice was introduced to the esoteric wisdom of the East through Theosophical Society. He met Annie Besant and her protege J. Krishnamurti in Swiss Alps. [J K was still considered the chosen Messiah under the banner of Theosophical Society.] He became a close friend of J K for nearly 40 years. Maurice, however, was always a serious questioner of J K 's thoughts and they had several verbal 'duels’ in later years too. Maurice organized meetings for J K in Paris and also translated some of J K’s works into French.

Again like many of his generation, Maurice learned about the venerable sage Bhagwan Ramana Maharshi through Paul Brunton's book : "A Search in Secret India". Maurice was now burning with desire to meet the sage at Arunachala or Thiruvannamalai, Tamil Nadu, and follow the path of Jnana. He was still tied to his work in Paris.

As a divine intervention, the following incident would took place.

Sir Mirza Ismail, the Diwan or Prime Minister of Mysore State [one of the princely states within British India] was a man of progressive ideas. To improve the industrial base of his state, Ismail was touring the European countries to find engineers. One factory he visited was the electrical works where Maurice was the manager. After a short discussion with Maurice , Ismail was impressed with the technical talents and managerial ability of young Maurice and immediately extended an invitation; he asked Maurice whether he could spare six months to visit India to set up similar factories in Mysore or at least advise the government on industrial development. For Maurice this was a welcome offer. He jumped at the opportunity and told that his suitcases were already packed to leave for India.

After arriving in Bangalore, Maurice was busy with the setting up of the "Government Electric Factory" at Bangalore. This factory would produce electrical transformers, switch gears and insulators.[The first electrical transformers in India were produced in this factory in 1936.] Mirza Ismail offered him a salary of Rs 3000 — a fabulous sum those day— a car and a house.

But Maurice's inner agenda was to meet Ramana Maharshi at Thiruvannamalai [ Arunachala] at a distance of only 250 kilometers [ 150 miles] from Bangalore. The first visit was in 1935. Maurice travelled on week ends to the ashram of Bhagwan Ramana and became an ardent disciple of Maharshi. Later Maurice stayed in the ashram for three years. Maurice learned the Vedanta principles and the path taught by Ramana — ‘atmavichara' or self-inquiry— directly from the master. Steeped in Vedanta and with a very sharp mind, Maurice was evolving into a mature Jnani, under the gaze of Ramana Maharshi. Later he would compile Ramana's teachings and write a small book in English— "Maharshif's Gospel" which is popular even today [published by Sri Ramanasramam]. Many of the questions posed to Ramana and compiled in the Gospel were those of Maurice's . True to his humility, Maurice wrote this book anonymously —his name did not appear in print. Ramana told his devotees: "Maurice Frydman belongs only here--to India. Somehow he was born abroad , but has come again here!”

The spirit of renunciation burned in the heart of Maurice. He would soon renounce everything. He wanted to take sannyas vows —vows of monkhood according to Hindu traditions. He approached Ramana with his request to initiate him into sannyas. But Ramana refused. Ramana told that he offered no sannyas diksha or initiation or gerua robe [saffron colored robe cotton cloth dyed in natural dyes those days formally worn by Hindu monk]. Ramana's traditions are different. Ramana was not a sannyasin of the traditional category —not formally initiated by another swami or pontiff of one of the mathas [monasteries], like Shankara mutt or peetam. Ramana was ‘atiashrami". This needs a little explanation.

In Hindu tradition, one follows the four stages or 'ashramas' o life sequentially: first brahmacharya [student life with strict celibacy, serving the teacher or guru], next 'grihastha [family life, earning wealth, begetting children, serving parents, needy persons and supporting monks], next one "vanaprastha" [literally 'entering forest', to lead a contemplative life away from family and friends like a hermit, while teaching the young ones]and finally, 'sannyas' or renouncing everything and wander around as a monk. According to this tradition, every one should go through these four stages so that his mind would gradually mature after experiencing life's trials and tribulations, joys and sorrows, at the same time discharging the duties of one's mundane life. Only a rare few can skip one or two of the ashramas and enter into sannyas the examples being Gautama, the Buddha and Adi Shankara.

But sages like Ramana are considered 'above all these ashramas” ['atiashrami']—meaning that they do not fall into the normal category of persons and have transcended the four stages. For instance, normal sannyasins belonging to one of the monastic orders would be expected to follow the strict rituals and observances of that order.But not one like Ramana ,who can wander at will and associate with people of all castes, sects and religions. This factor is not commonly understood by many in India and in the West. For instance, Ramana used to eat food offered by various persons in Arunachala — a strict sadhu or pontiff of a mutt would not even touch such food.

Therefore Ramana was averse to sannyas ceremonies/diksha and also wearing a saffron robe. He used to initiate disciples only by look and by touch.

Ramana Maharshi
Maurice was in a fix now. He was much against dogma and rituals of organized religions. He spoke clearly against them. Yet he had decided to follow the life style of a Hindu monk and Ramana would not accede to this.

Maurice and Swami Ramdas
Maurice was keen in getting into sannyas and though he was a staunch Jnani, soon delved into Bhakti or devotional path. After all he had initial exposure to Jewish faith and Russian Orthodox Church and was familiar with formal religious practices. He was not averse to them.

Swami Ramdas, affectionately called "Papa" Ramdas, was a devotee of Lord Ram and was a self-realized saint and jnani, but preaching all the time the devotional modes of chanting the name of Ram and singing hymns or bhajan with cymbals and drums. He started his career as a textile engineer in Mumbai; soon renounced family life, leaving behind his wife and a daughter, wandered around the country seeking spiritual wisdom. He met Ramana and had meditations in the holy hill of Arunachala. After intense tapas and self-realization, he returned to his native place near Mangalore and built an ashram first at Kasargod and later shifted the ashram to Kanhangad. This ashram, "Anandashram" ['Abode of Bliss' ] is a place of serene atmosphere, resounding with the sweet name of Lord Rama ,chanted throughout the day. [Kanhangad is at a distance of about 100 km from Mangalore, in Kerala state.]

Swami Ramdas, a gentle saint who gave initiation to several sadhaks or aspirants, was the guru for many well known saints in India, including Yogi Ram Surat Kumar of Thiruvannamalai, [ aka, 'visiri' swami or fan swami as he held a large hand fan all the time.]It should be noted that Maurice was still clinging onto Jnana ,but the charisma of Papa Ramdas appealed to him.[Anandashram was ably maintained by Mother Krishnabai, the chief disciple of Ramdas, who built the ashram along devotional path, with emphasis on Universal love and social service.]

Swami Ramdas
Maurice reached Anandashram and after staying for a few months, wanted to take sannyas vows. Papa Ramdas could immediately discern the deep vairagya or spirit of renunciation of Maurice. He gave sannyas to Maurice and offered the gerua cloth with the monastic title " Swami Bharatananda"— a name Maurice would use in later writings.Swami Ramdas told prophetically that this was the last life for Maurice—meaning thereby that he would have no rebirth or he would be a liberated soul after this earthly visit.

Maurice was physically transformed now with a shaven head, saffron robe draped over his shoulders, seeking alms with a begging bowl— a native bowl made of dried gourd which he bought. He would also give away much of his salary for the poor and the needy.

He continued to be the General Manager of Gov't Electric Factory at Bangalore , attired like a monk. Sir Mirza Ismail, the Diwan of Mysore state, was irritated and fumed; He told " Frydman, I hired an engineer, not a sannyasin" .His dress and manners were not acceptable to him as an officer of the state. Maurice quickly replied that his dress and manner of eating and so on are his private matters. Ismail should consider only his work at the factory. The controversy between the two blew up into a crisis. But Ismail would not like to lose a great engineer and manager who had already elevated Mysore state in electrical industry. Mirza Ismail relented . A compromise solution was found: Maurice would wear the formal British dress [ pant , suit, neck-tie, boot and hat] only while receiving important visitors to his factory.

Soon enough, an important visitor, a young prince, did enter Maurice's factory. Maurice would receive him in his dress of pant and suit. This would change the course of Maurice's life again.

Chapter 3 The Karma Yogi
Aundh is a postage-stamp size Princely state under the suzerainty of the British Crown. There were 671 such princely states, big and small at that time in British Raj. The rulers of these states called Rajas, Maharajas, Nawabs and so on, depending on the size of their estates, had considerable freedom to govern their kingdom as they wished. Raja Bhawan Rao Pant, Raja of Aundh, was an enlightened ruler, trying to preserve the cultural and spiritual heritage of his small kingdom. [The princely states were annexed with India or Pakistan after the Independence between the years 1947 and 1949.]

His princely state was only 1300 square kilometer, say 35 km by 35 kilometer square. Further it was a poor state, already had a plague epidemic in 1911 and suffered from frequent famine conditions. It consisted of nearly 70 tiny impoverished villages.

Raja Bhawan Rao [Balasaheb, titled 'Pant Prathiniti'] sent his eldest son Apa Pant to England for study. Apa studied at Oxford and London and returned after 4 years and would enter the bar later. Raja sent him to Mysore state for 'training' in general administration since Mysore was considered a model state with excellent administration. As part of the training, Apa was asked to visit several factories in Mysore state. In that list, Maurice's electric factory was included.

The young prince Apa Pant arrived at the factory premises and Maurice was ready to receive him in British attire. Maurice, however, made a discourteous remark: He asked, "Young Price, do you know anything about electricity or I would be wasting time on you ?" This sharp remark turned Apa away. He went back to his car .Maurice realizing his mistake, went after him and grabbed him out of the car and apologized. Maurice then took him inside the factory and showed him around.In a few moments, Maurice captivated Apa so much they became very close friends at the end of the visit. They remained close friends for the rest of their lives.

Apa Pant wanted Maurice to visit Aundh and spend three months there to improve the condition of the villages. He requested Sir Mirza Ismail to lend his services; Sir Mirza told that his father should write to him for such a request. Raja of Aundh duly sent a letter, drafted by Apa. But Mirza gently declined stating that he could send Maurice only at a later time.

After some time, Apa Pant found Maurice entering his palace at Aundh with a sack of ochre robes on his back.! Maurice told that he was not a slave of Sir Mirza and that he had chosen to stay at Aundh and work for the impoverished people. Apa implored that his kingdom could pay only very little, since the highest paid state official, the Diwan, received a monthly salary of only Rs 75. Maurice had apparently decided to renounce his high salary of Rs 3000 at Mysore he had chosen poverty as a true monk. Thus his life of Karma Yogi began in Aundh.

The various activities and social and political reforms Maurice started in that tiny state are truly remarkable. He set up his project office for rural upliftment under an acacia tree. He would stay there in biting cold covered with blankets. He walked on foot to almost all the 70 villages to initiate rural projects. That was his 'tapasya" or penance.

He did an exciting social experiment at that time. He freed the prisoners from Aundh prison and made them work for village projects like digging wells and building schools. One of the early achievement was digging a large well, in the sandy soil and lifting a stream of sweet water .

In 1939, he established a 1 free prison' or open jail and established a "City of the Free" called "Swatantrapur". In this village, prisoners could stay with their families and work on the farms. This experiment inspired the writer Madgulkar and the film director V Shantaram to make the famous Hindi movie " Do Aanken Barah Hath " ['two eyes and twelve hands'] which received the Golden Globe Award. Swatantrapur is still functioning as an open jail and has become a tourist attraction. Maurice convinced Raja Saheb to abolish capital punishment in the state.

After some time, Maurice drafted a new constitution for the state by which the political power could be transferred from the Raja to the people--forming the first state to implement a republic within the Indian Union.

More about this in the next chapter.

The village work took on other aspects—such as improving the sugar industry and textile production among other things with the inventive skills of Maurice. The local population almost revered Maurice as a saint who had come to uplift them with 'Karuna' or compassion.

Wanda Dynowska
Maurice did not forget his native Poland which was still dormant with dogmatic religious concepts. He would help to translate his favorite Vedantic works and publish books for Poland.There was no free exchange of information in those days. Nazi Germany had already occupied Poland. So Maurice teamed up with his friend Wanda Dynowska, who was already in India.

Wanda Dynowska took on the name of Uma Devi. She was a wealthy lady from Poland.She was the secretary of Theosophical Society in Poland. She came to India in 1935 and had visited Ramana and Mahatma Gandhi. She was, of course, in constant touch with J. Krishnamurti who had left the Theosophical Society and was a freelance teacher. She would help in the translation of vedantic works, nearly 50 books, and sending them to Poland with an organization called Indo-Polish Library' which she founded in Chennai in 1944.This institution had the editorial responsibility for all the translations. Books were smuggled into Poland because of communist regime there after World War II. Uma Devi would work with Maurice for rehabilitating Tibetan refugees , as we will see later. {She became a Hindu and Indian citizen and died in Mysore in 1971.]

Chapter 4 With the Mahatma
Mahatma Gandhi was organizing the rural programs from Sewagram [' Service-village' ] near Wardha ashram. He housed himself in a mud hut covered with bamboo slats and thatched roof. Charkha or the hand spinning wheel would become the tool and the symbol for India's resurgence and independence from not only British rule but British textile industry as well. In 1923, Gandhi announced a contest for Rs 1 lakh {Rs 100000]—a large sum as the award for the best charkha-an easy and low cost solution. Maurice would design several charkhas for Gandhiji. Among the many, Maurice Frydman offered one charkha called "Dhanush Takli”.

[Maurice's charkha would use the following materials: wood or bamboo strips [1 inch wide, 2 feet long], a rubber strip made from waste cycle tube, a spindle from umbrella or bicycle [7inches long] and 2 feet long wooden piece.]Gandhiji found Maurice's invention too efficient and remarked that while he was trying to increase jobs, Maurice was making less jobs with more efficiency.!

It was Apa Pant, the Prince of Aundh, who took Maurice to Mahatma Gandhi. After entering the hut, Gandhi greeted them and having been told that Maurice had left Mysore , he quipped: "So you have caught hold of the poor Raja of Aundh leaving behind the rich Raja of Mysore to his destiny!." Inwardly the Mahatma was happy that Maurice would serve the rural folks in Aundh and develop technologies for them.

The association with Gandhiji continued for several years almost till the end of Mahatma's life in 1948. Maurice made many devices which were introduced through Sewagram. Unfortunately details are not available. Maurice also learned much about nature cure and native, herbal medicines during his stay at Gandhi's ashram.

Maurice's association with Gandhi for freedom struggle brought many westerners into conflict with him—either directly or indirectly. But Maurice ,however, did not directly take part in non-cooperation movement or other political actions of Gandhi . He focussed on helping the rural poor—along Gandhiji?s line of thinking. While in Aundh, Maurice wrote two books published in 1944: "Gandhiji-His life and work" (pub :Karnataka pub house, Mumbai; " The world federation and the Indian National Congress",Aundh Publishing Trust.]

Gandhiji's hut in Wardha

The Aundh Experiment
A major 'revolution' Maurice would usher in was the transference of power from the Raja of Aundh to the people of that state. Mahatma Gandhi's trusteeship concepts were responsible for this initiative from Maurice. Maurice thought of this concept of making people govern themselves at the village level in Aundh.

Apa Pant later told:" Frydman had great influence on my father. On his 75th birthday, Maurice said: "Raja Saheb, why don't you go and make a declaration to Mahatma Gandhi that you are giving all power to the people because it will help in the freedom struggle". The Raja readily endorsed the idea of self-government by the people. Maurice immediately wrote the draft declaration and a new constitution. The Raja and Apa Pant traveled to Wardha ashram to meet the Mahatma. Gandhiji gave his sign of approval and dictated the final draft in one sitting. It was called "Swaraj Constitution of Aundh-1939". It was sent to the state assembly for ratification which was done on Jan 21st 1939.

Raja of Aundh was declared as " the first servant and the bearer of conscience of the people of Aundh". Thus the 'Aundh Experiment" started to operate.

Note that the Princely states were autonomous states, each having made a treaty with the British Crown. So they were free to make such changes in their own state constitution. It was obvious that such a move would be thwarted by the British government . The British governor reprimanded the Raja, fearing that mass uprising would start in many princely states for similar moves. Many eye brows were raised ,especially in other Princely states. It caused some shock waves in the halls of power in Delhi, in Whitehall in England and in the courts of other feudal states like Travancore with Sir C P Ramaswamy Iyer as the Diwan, a man who would try to uphold a Princely rule even after independence. But the Congress party supported such a move, which already had the blessings of Gandhiji.But, fortunately the Bombay legislative Assembly ratified the new constitution of Aundh!

It looked like Maurice Frydman had done his job and would oversee the new developments. After the declaration, the state of Aundh was reorganized from the village level. The Panchayats in each village had five elected representatives voted to power by all adults who were given voting rights. Aundh had four taluks — Aundh,Kundal, Gundal and Atpadi where the open prison existed. Each taluk council chose a president and two representatives to a central assembly presided by the Raja.

The panchayats had full responsibility for education, health, justice system, irrigation, sanitation, road and public buildings. Between 1939 and 1945, 27 new primary schools were built, with 14 middle schools and three high schools. Adult education classes doubled. Several national leaders assisted in executing the Aundh experiment. Achyut Patwardhan who organized Quit-India movement in 1945 operated from Aundh villages. He went underground in one the villages there. Apa Pant held secret meetings with him.

The Aundh experiment triggered by Maurice Frydman and executed by Bhawan Rao [Bala Saheb] and his son Apa Pant was watched with excitement by all Indians. The experiment proceeded till 1947 when the state of Aundh was annexed with the Indian Union.

[Apa Pant later became a diplomat in various places when Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru was the Prime Minister East Africa,Indonesia, Norway,UAR and London. From 1951 to 1956, he became the political officer for the independent state of Sikkim when problems with Tibet would brew. The story of his relationship with Maurice Frydman is continued in the next chapter.]

{Brief life sketches of the Raja of Aundh and that of his son, Apa Pant are given in the appendices. ]

Chapter 5 With Tibetan Refugees
Mahatma Gandhi was shot by Nathuram Vinak Godse during an evening prayer meeting in Delhi in 1948. After that Maurice left Aundh and would spend sometime in Chennai and Varanasi. During the next few years, he was managing and coordinating activities for Jiddu Krishnamurti Foundation. With S Balasundaram, he established the Rishi Valley school at Madanepalli, Chittor, AP, near Bangalore. He also served as the secretary of J K Foundation which had extensive activities at Rajghat Center in Varanasi[Benaras]. He met J K many times and would carry on intellectual duels on his philosophy and Vedanta. Maurice was already a matured Jnani and could delve into the depths of Hindu philosophy and practices. It is a moot point whether Maurice learned anything at all from J K except for some intellectual stimulation.

Sometime in 1944 Maurice organized the Indo-Polish Library, a publishing house founded by his Polish friend ,Wanda Dynowski ,with her Indian name of Uma Devi. Uma was already deep in Hindu philosophy and had became an Indian citizen. She was keen on making Poland know India and India know Poland.She wrote a book on Polish tales and also a book of poems. She translated into Polish and edited many Vedantic works with the help of Maurice:the Gita, the Upanishads and the epics [Ramayana and Mahabharata] as already stated in the previous chapter. Information is scanty regarding the actual involvement of Maurice in these efforts, though the two worked together in Chennai and Mysore for a few years.

Refugees from Tibet
Around 1959, tension was building up in Sikkim and Bhutan due to Chinese incursion into Tibet. Thousands of Tibetan refugees were entering these places from Tibet after arduous journey across the Himalayas. They were without food and shelter. Indian government was taking an cautious approach to this refugee problem—not to affront the Chinese government which was outwardly on friendly terms with India. Nehru, the then prime-minister, was promoting the friendship with slogans like "Hindi-Chini Bhai Bhai". The government wanted to soft pedal the issue with the Chines authorities. China was making religious and cultural changes in occupied Tibet.

Who should enter the picture to crystallize the refugee problem from Sikkim Apa Pant who was stationed as political officer there by the Nehru government. Apa invited his long term friend Maurice to stay for a few months in Sikkim as his guest. Maurice, with his characteristic approach, wanted to rehabilitate the Tibetan refugees in various villages at altitudes above 3500 feet as it would provide suitable climate for Tibetan people. It was indeed a herculean task to find villages for nearly 80000 refugees. No single state would receive all of them. Maurice worked out a plan to settle them in various states with the help of central government.

Maurice met with the prime minister Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru, a close friend of Apa Pant . He requested Nehru to write to various states to provide settlement villages for these refugees and he himself would organize for their welfare. Nehru would not make a quick decision. But Maurice was almost adamant; met him several times and waited on Nehru for several hours and finally got an official letter signed by him to various state governments. With this letter, Maurice travelled to several states for Tibetan refugee villages from Delhi to Karnataka. In fact in Karnataka, where he was a familiar figure with local officials and widely respected, he could obtain three villages. They are thriving Tibetan communities even today.[We are also told that it was Maurice who made Nehru to provide asylum to the 14th Dalai Lama when he entered Sikkim from Tibet. I am not able to confirm this, however.]

Uma Devi also came to Sikkim and joined Maurice to organize refugee relief camps and educational facilities for children with great zeal. Her contribution matched and complemented the efforts of Maurice. The Central Tibetan Schools Administration was established in 1961 by the government to preserve Tibetan language and culture. Uma Devi worked in Dharamshala where the 14th Dalai Lama who came as a boy to India, had settled and established the exile government.Dalai Lama would tell later that she helped " like a second mother" to the children there.The Tibetan community owes a lot to these two Poles-- Maurice and Uma Devi who had made India their home.

This refugee rehabilitation work would occupy the attention of Maurice for several years—from 1959 to 1965. When faced with apparently insurmountable difficulties with official machinery, Maurice would remark that "ekagrata"—single-pointedness can achieve anything. The Indo-China conflict arose in 1962, with Chinese occupation in part of Himalayan territories. Thousands of Tibetan refugees landed near Nepal and Sikkim to be housed in Dharamshala.

Chapter 6 With Nisargadatta Maharaj
Nisargadatta Maharaj was a jnani and a sage in the advaitic tradition, much like Ramana Maharshi. He was of humble disposition who made a living selling beedies [native cigarettes having tobacco stuffed in a fold of a dried leaf and tied with a string] and resided in a loft-like tenement in a crowded part of Mumbai.He was a chain smoker of beedies.

Nisarga was a disciple of Siddharameshwar Maharaj, a self-realized master and belonged to "Nath-nath Sampradaya" or lineage, ('nine masters’ tradition). Gorakhnath and Matsyendranath were two early Nath gurus. Nath tradition derives much from Shankara's advaitic or non-dual philosophy, but also includes several features of Bhakti or devotional path. Navnath tradition is a lineage of gurus who are householders. Nisarga was married and had children. Maharaj himself would do puja and bhajan five times a day because his guru asked him to do so.

Nisargadatta Maharaj
Nisarga Maharaj had no ashram or matha [monastery] or peeta [seat of learning in Hindu style]. He had just a small tenement or loft house above the petty shops in Khetwadi [10th lane] in Mumbai. He would receive 'sadhaks' or seekers of his wisdom there and speak only in Marathi. But he was accessible to all seekers without charging any fee for such satsanghas or discourses unlike many other teachers then and now. Those drawn to Advaitic path and self-inquiry Ramana style flocked to him. Maharaj would elicit questions from foreigners who were keen to learn advaita from such a great master. Maharaj had no school education.He did not quote from scriptures, but spoke from his own understanding and experience.

Maurice became his disciple in early days of Nisarga's ministry, around 1965. [Maurice was staying with a Parsi lady, Ms Hirubhai Petit near Nisarga’s tenement in Colaba. Ms Petit owed much to Maurice for her getting higher education when very few women went to college.] Maurice had another advantage; he could speak Marathi very well.He would be a translator of Maharaj’s talks and answers for Indians without knowledge of Marathi and also for foreign seekers. Maurice took upon himself the task of compiling the talks in the form of question-and answer sessions, recorded in tapes, and publish a great book “ I Am That". This book has become a classic in this field. It became so popular in the west that many seekers would flock to the small lane in Khetwadi,Mumbai . Hundreds of foreigners would crowd into his tenement that Maharaj himself remarked: " I used to have a quiet life; but the book "I AM That" by Maurice has turned my house into a railway station platform.”

Note that Maurice had already compiled a slim volume:
"Maharishi's Gospel". These two works alone would ensure his place in spiritual literature. The publication of 'I Am That’ proved difficult at first since many well-known publishers declined to publish. But Maurice would promote a small publisher. 'Chetana Books1, to undertake the publication. The book became a huge success.! The book carries the title: "I Am That—Talks with Sri Nisargadatta Maharaj"—Nisargadatta (the author) Sudhakar Dixit[editor] Maurice Frydman [translator] (Original edition Chetana Books 1973.]

It is not easy to follow or understand the teachings of Nisarga; but Maurice's compilation made a big difference it is eminently readable, given the abstruse nature of the subject. [In later years many others would also publish Nisarga's talks in several volumes, including Alexander Smit, Jean Dunn, Robert, Powell, Mark West, Pradeep Apte and Ramesh Balsekar. But Maurice's book would be considered as more authentic and well structured than many other books on Nisargadatta Maharaj.]

Maurice wrote an article ,titled " Nisarga Yoga"; he wrote : "The astonishingly rich spiritual heritage of India is implicit in him [Nisarga] rather than explicit. The Nisarga Yoga ['nisarga' — natural state] of Maharaj is disconcertingly simple-the mind ,which is all-becoming must recognize and penetrate its own being , not as being this or that, here or there, then and now but just timeless being. This timeless being is the source of both life and consciousness. The dwelling on the sense of "I AM" is the simple, easy and natural yoga—the Nisarga Yoga. There is no secrecy in it and no dependence, no preparation or initiation required.”

What did Nisarga say about the qualification of Maurice Frydman ? Much later, in an interview , David Godman asked Maharaj: " In all these years you have been teaching, how many people have truly understood and experienced your teachings?" Maharaj replied: " One, Maurice". Nisargadatta Maharaj considered Maurice a fully realized Jnani. Though Maurice had little or no interest in rituals and religious observances [he had already given up the saffron robe of early sannyas years] he was truly someone who understood and respected the Hindu traditions and could flow with the traditional Hindu practices. Though he was a close associate of J. Krishnamurti for many years, he would not take JK's philosophy or "no guru" approach seriously. Inwardly Maurice was a jnani, bhakta and karma yogi all rolled into one. May be his karma yoga for greater part of his life had purified his mind and led his heart to the center of " I Am". Nisargadatta told once : " The only time a Jnani truly rejoices is when someone becomes a jnani". Knowing Maurice to be a jnani, Maharaj should have rejoiced in his company. There is also the dictum that only a Jnani can recognize another Jnani. Therefore Maharaj's pronouncement that Maurice was a jnani rings true.

The End
Maurice continued to visit Maharaj almost daily. He also experimented with various foods , native herbs and mud packs for nature cures—a trait imbibed from the Mahatma. He continued to stay in the same apartment with Petit and her adopted daughter Babulal.

In 1976, Maurice was hit by a speeding motor cycle in Mumbai. Though he partially recovered from this accident ,he became weak and died later on 9th March 1976, in the presence of Apa Pant and Nisargadatta Maharaj.

An interesting anecdote had been told by Dr Sadashiva Rao. During his last days, Maurice got caring service from a professional nurse whom he did not know. Initially Maurice refused her services. The nurse had a dream in which an old man in loin cloth asked her to go to Maurice and serve him. That was how she had come to Maurice’s apartment. While looking around , she saw the picture of the old man —the picture of Ramana on the wall. Startled , the nurse related the dream to Maurice. Maurice then accepted her services.

Before his last moments, Maurice Frydman told: "Apa, I hear the music; I see the bright light. Who dies? No one is dying. This diseased body is keeping me away from that Harmony and Beauty.

Do not let them keep me in this body. Go now in Peace!" Nisargadatta Maharaj declared that Maurice was a liberated soul.He had reached the state of Shunyata — emptiness or nothingness.

Nisargadatta Maharaj had many pictures adorning the wall of his loft-tenement; he used to perform pooja five times a day offering flowers and putting kum-kum [vermillion] paste on the foreheads of the saints and sages in those pictures. There was a picture of Ramana on the wall too, along with the gurus of Navnath Sampradaya and other saints. Two more photos were added to the gallery those of Maurice Frydman.

Bibliography
1. Apa Pant —Maurice Frydman 'Mountain Path' journal 1991
2. Apa Pant — Unusual Raja and Mahatma Gandhi
3. Indira Rothmund — The Aundh Experiment Somaiya Publishers
Mumbai 1983
4. Ramana maharshi Maharshi's Gospel --Sri Ramanasramam
Thiruvannamalai
5. Sri Nisargadatta, Murice Frydman — I Am That —Chetana Books Mumbai 1971
6. Maurice Frydman —Gandhiji—His life and work Karnataka pub
Mumbai 1944
7. Maurice Frydman — The world federation and the Indian National Congress.Aundh Pub Trust 1944
8. Luis S R Vyas — editor—[Maurice Frydman - " The Basic Truth "] in "The mind of JK" Jaico Publishers, Mumbai
9. Dalton Dennis —Mahatma Gandhi-non-violent power in action — Columbia Univ Press,1993
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