Lessons living with Mohanji – Days 43 & 44

by Christopher Greenwood

Day 43 Lesson – The family and people of the house 

Good morning, everybody. I wish you all a very Merry Christmas and a happy time of celebration connected with all your families. 

This year I am spending this time with my Mohanji family. Recently, someone sent me a message asking what it was like in the house and if I could share some more details on what the other people are doing who are staying here. I thought this time of the year when people come together as a family would be a fine opportunity to share that message. 

In the house currently, first, we have Mohanji’s parents – Achan and Amma, who oversee what’s going on in the house, whom Mohanji respects a lot. Achan is the head here and then obviously Mohanji, who we all know. Next, Rajesh, who’s been with Mohanji for many years and authored the ‘Miraculous days with Mohanji’, is a really great book (probably one of my favourites) for its honesty; its humour. Then there is Ananth, from Australia. Next, we have Geeta from Nepal, who manages the kitchen. This is the core family, the regular birds, the squirrels, and all the small beings who come for food and see Mohanji. 

Besides the core family, there are the Masters who are also living here. I don’t actually see them, though Mohanji has told us that they’re present here. Sometimes in the evenings, they will all be walking around and wandering about. 

Lastly, there is Preeti, who’s not staying here. But, she makes sure that everything is well organized here in the home and that we’re all well looked after. 

Now I’ll go through everybody, one by one, with a bit more detail to let you know what they’re up to. 

Achan, let’s start with Achan; Mohanji’s father is someone whom I really admire. He’s the personification of dedication and sticking to a purpose. He recently finished translating the divine book Sri Sreepada Srivallabha Charitamrutam into Malayalam. It is astonishing that when he was translating from English to Malayalam, he realized that the English translation didn’t have the essence; it didn’t have that flavour of the original script he had read because it didn’t do justice. So he, who is now 87-years-old, decided to learn a completely new language – Telugu, which is the language of the original manuscript as he wanted to ensure that the essence was maintained intact. This is dedication. This has been his focus for months since I’ve been here. He is an incredibly disciplined man. From dawn to dusk, he’s doing that work. He wakes up, he has his coffee, and he goes to work. Then breakfast and goes back again. After lunch and dinner, too, he is working relentlessly. Now it’s completed and going through the final stages of proofreading. This will be launched in early January. A great achievement, fantastic feat! He also keeps us on the straight and narrow for the protocol of things around Aarti and things like that. He taught me a lot in that respect. 

Amma and Achan with Mohanji

Amma, Mohanji’s mother, is like a hawk. Although she’ll be sitting there, she notices everything that’s going on in the house. She keeps a very keen eye on all the movements, particularly on Rajesh. She even knows when he’s been overeating. One event the other day made me realize this. We all have our cups in the house; Mohanji has his cup, and I’ve been using a particular one because it can hold more liquid than the other ones. So she knows what cup I use. The other day I took Geeta a cup of coffee; she was upstairs. She was curious and asked, “Where’s Chris going with that cup? Is he taking that to Mohanji because that’s not Mohanji’s cup?” She especially likes Rajesh and keeps a keen eye on him, and he too plays with her and teases her. I think she has quite a soft spot for him. Rajesh’s consistency in losing at the badminton matches makes her laugh a lot.

Rajesh has many activities within the foundation. He supports all the major programs that take place. Rajesh ensures that all content for the prep session for the recent online retreats was created. He’s also involved in some of the ashram’s work and heavily involved in Guru Light – 

 the book publishing division. It was Rajesh who actually worked very closely with Mohanji to complete Mast and then ensured that it was available on all outlets such as Amazon. He makes sure that all supplies are well kept and stocked, manages provisions in the house, food orders, any sort of work that needs to be done. He keeps a keen eye on gardening chores and ensures that it’s all well-kept. 

The most admirable thing which Rajesh does is waking up around 3 am and performing Homa daily. This has special importance because I’m not sure many people know about it, but Mohanji has always taken responsibility for the people who believed in him. He makes sure that they and their families are well-taken care of. He says, “If someone gives me their time; if someone takes one step towards me, I’ll take ten steps towards them.” He always gives more from his side than what he gets back. So he’s always taking responsibility for people. What Rajesh does every day, as Homa, is additional protection for all the people who love Mohanji and their families; that’s been taught to him by Mohanji directly. 

I didn’t know this, so I was quite taken aback when I found out that’s happening not only for all of us who are connected to Mohanji but also extends to our families. So Mohanji is really looking after the extended family. No money is taken for this. It’s purely as a Seva to all those people who are standing by Mohanji. 

Ananth has quite a challenging situation because he’s still working full time. His work time zone is in Australia. He’s up very early in the morning so that he can attend his work calls. He’s the main assistant to Mohanji; he helps with whatever’s needed, makes sure that the medication for Mohanji and his parents are always taken care of, that morning drinks and meals are all in the right order, and serves the meals. He coordinates tasks with the local people as well.

He is the vital technical support for the foundation – all the infrastructure for the websites, for Facebook, and payment gateways; all backend stuff, such as emails, which helps the machinery run, which we probably take for granted, is all due to Ananth. He is instrumental in setting up for the live meetings and even down to editing videos. He’s also learning the ritual of Homa at the moment, so afternoons one can see him practising it. 

Geeta is from Nepal, and she makes sure that we’re all well looked after, and our bellies are all full. She’s preparing fresh meals daily for the entire household – fresh vegetables and things like this. She runs the tight ship of the kitchen, and we help where we can. As Ananth is up in the morning, he helps with the preparation there. Later, we clean dishes and do whatever else that can be done. Thus we’re all working together. 

Preeti isn’t staying here, but she is always in support. She’s always making sure that supplies are coming on time to the house, surprises us with food and anything needed, such as furniture or equipment that we were getting for the live videos, ensures they’re all arranged from town by taking those trips there. She also comes on special occasions to make sure we have all the equipment and material for the poojas. 

On this special day, it’s nice to share with you some more information about the people that I’m staying with. I can say from my experience; it’s been really lovely to stay here. I have been here quite a while now, and it really does feel like home, really does feel like family. That’s the atmosphere that Mohanji really fosters as well, this friendliness. 

I’ve said before as well in previous voice recordings; I’m sure that this is what the atmosphere and the culture will be like too at our spaces when we have them – the Centers of Benevolence, and the Temples of benevolence, so when people come here, it’s as if they have come home, and are part of the family. 

So on this day, I hope you’re having a great time with all your families, good foods, celebrations.

That’s it from here about the current family at this house. I wish you all the best; I hope you have a fantastic day, and speak to you very soon.

Day 44 Lesson – Story of Mohanji’s time in Iraq

Good morning, everybody. I hope you’re doing really well. 

Today, I wanted to share the story of Mohanji rather than any specific lesson. Over the past recordings, I’ve shared several lessons around the theme of efficiency, productivity, organization. Mainly it’s part of some of the key discussion points I have with Mohanji in the mornings. Mohanji himself is incredibly efficient; he makes sure that nobody is waiting on him for work to move. This approach and attitude have made him successful now and in his earlier business life, where he rose in position from a sales executive to a country head of five countries in the shipping industry. An amazing accomplishment!

Once, we were speaking about plans for activity in the morning when he shared a story – a page from his business life – to give an idea of how he handled situations. I thought it could be of interest because it’s something that I hadn’t heard before. 

This story is dated 2004, during the Iraq war; Iraq had been invaded, and the war was on. Mohanji, who was in a senior position in those days, had an assignment to go to Iraq, which he accepted, he was alright with taking those risks, but he had to do a few things before he left for Iraq.

The first was to create a will with the insurance company (because some people don’t necessarily come back) even though the Indian government had banned its nationals from going to Iraq during the war. So he went to make the will, and as part of that, he decided that he wanted to donate his organs if any of them were usable to help the poor. He thought, “I don’t need the body once I’m gone. So why not give away if it’s possible for someone else.” 

Second, he also wanted to make sure that all the savings, whatever he had in the bank, went to his first wife and whatever came out of the insurance that would go to his parents. He said that the insurance guy was quite taken aback at how calm Mohanji was about the situation. He asked him, “Are you not worried? How can you be so calm about this? Potentially bad things might happen to you.” Mohanji replied, ‘I’ve got a job to do. And what will happen, I don’t know. So I’m making sure now that this is all set outright.” Thus he set off for Iraq amidst the war.

In Iraq, they travelled by road to where he was staying, a British camp near Basra. The camp was well protected and stocked with food and chef as well. All the walls were high, maybe 10 meters high or so. It was almost like a prison, but there were a few cottages inside. On the way to the camp at Basra, Mohanji saw beheaded bodies lying on the side road and many dead bodies as well on the way. It was a tense situation all around. He had seven bodyguards with him at that time, three four-wheelers at his disposal, a rifle, and a bullet-proof vest. One of the bodyguards, Mohanji said, was one of the main bodyguards of the famous ‘The Beatles’ in his time. 

When he was stationed at Basra, the British Army Base, he was responsible for overseeing the loading and unloading of oil tankers and commodity ships supplying the British and American Forces. Each day, Mohanji and his security guards went via different routes to the port to observe when tankers were being loaded and other commodities. As the situation was quite perilous, they would often go across the desert to make sure that they weren’t attacked and things like that. But even still, he said, often one would find dead bodies while driving past in the desert.

Each day, the chief bodyguard would chart a new route and plan to travel in a different vehicle. There were constant changes and alterations because they were being watched. Within the Basra camp itself, amenities were fairly limited; there was no TV, internet, entertainment, newspaper, mobile phones at that time. So it was purely just the work, like being in prison almost. 

One morning Mohanji had to head out to the port and sign the papers, but they weren’t ready yet, which was a bit unusual. So he said, “Okay, no problem. I’ll do it, I’ll send the car, and they can bring the papers back. When they come back, I can sign them, and the next day, I’ll take them back.” Mohanji arranged this, and two of his bodyguards took the Jeep.

On the way there, the bodyguards stopped at a makeshift roadblock which proved fatal. Later, it was discovered that a 12-year-old boy detonated an explosive device on the Jeep and completely destroyed it, killing the two bodyguards. That would have been probably the vehicle that Mohanji would have been travelling; he missed that very closely. This incident now implied that somebody must have let these people or the locals know about the situation, about who Mohanji was, where he was travelling to; the dangers increased. This meant the chief bodyguards and people would be under the radar of the locals as well.

There was a local man who was one of the leaders within the local area. He came to visit Mohanji at some point to arrange the shipping logistics and things like this. When he went back home, there was a note on the door for him saying, “We know where you went; if you go again, we’ll chop your head.” So, these were the messages which were being shared, “Don’t come anymore.” 

Mohanji said that everybody was carrying guns. Even he had to carry a gun from time to time, and the bodyguards would train him how to use them. But in the end, he wouldn’t carry it because they had surrounded him. This was the prevailing situation with all kinds of things happening around. Like Mohanji mentioned earlier while travelling by road, there would be dead bodies strewn, people were being kidnapped for ransom, even school children were not spared and kidnapped for ransom, even though the parents couldn’t pay much. 

As is Mohanji’s style, he sees humour in some of the most serious situations. He added that one of the funniest incidents was that, during that time he was there, shipments were going all the time; people were unloading the ship, putting it into trucks, and then they took it where it needed to go. There was a cargo load of manhole covers, the big sort of metal manhole things which you would put on some drainage system and this cargo was going by road. Times were such that everybody was trying to eke a living by taking stuff or thieving because some of it was worthwhile; even farmers would do it.  

It so happened that two of the local farmers decided to capture this truck and take the manhole covers. It’s a big load of these very heavy manhole covers; later, they went down to the local market to try and sell them, carrying one or two. Obviously, no one was going to buy them; they tried for a few weeks. They just had this big truck of manhole covers, which nobody wanted. 

During that time, the insurance company would payout to the company transporting these (because it was a thing that could happen), then they would have their money returned and send another shipment. These farmers were chasing around, trying to find someone who could buy them. In the end, they found the location of the port of the company, and they came back with the truck convinced that they could sell back these manhole covers to the port. After some negotiations happened to and fro, they eventually sold the truck for much less than what it was worth. 

This was one of the stories from more adventurous times for Mohanji.

I hope you enjoyed it. I also hope you have a great day ahead.


Edited & Published by – Testimonials Team, 25th July 2021


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