WHY A NON-INDIAN, NON-HINDU IS BUILDING THE MUSEUM OF INDIAN HISTORY
WHY A NON-INDIAN, NON-HINDU IS BUILDING THE SHIVAJI
MAHARAJ MUSEUM OF INDIAN HISTORY
I had just completed my 18th year and I was living in Paris,
France, the city of my birth, when I heard that a caravan of cars
was driving from Paris to Pondicherry. I had never heard of India,
but something in me pushed me to go. Thus in approx. 6 weeks,
we crossed ten countries and had many adventures,. We reached
Delhi, driving from Lahore, in late September 1969.
I spent my first night in India in the sri Aurobindo ashram New
Delhi, in Aurobindo marg. As I said, I knew nothing about India and had no interest in spirituality.
In those days, there were still fields in this part of Delhi. It was evening by the time we settled. I had with me a book of Sri Aurobindo, called the Life Divine, which I had never managed to read. I climbed on one of the vans with which
we had come. It was a very beautiful sunset as you often see in
India. I felt so peaceful: birds were singing, farmers were coming
home. I opened the book and read a few lines. Suddenly I had a
strong spiritual experience, a feeling of intense peace and joy and
in a few seconds an intuition of what was karma, reincarnation,
and of the worlds that were opening to me. Also an immediate
knowledge that I would live in India for the rest of my life.
This is believe, was an experience of Mother India. As many saints
have said, India is not just a piece of land, it is the living Shakti, a
body that, in spite of so many assaults over the centuries, as our
Hindu Tolerance exhibition has shown, still radiates knowledge
and power to whomsoever opens to it. My first guru was Mother
India and to Her I dedicate this shrine and our Museum.
Of course, 2 weeks later in Pondicherry I met the Mother, Sri
Aurobindo’s companion - and it was the turning point of my life: my
whole outlook turned upside down – or rather, became as it should
be. Since then, it is my strong belief that Mother India guided me
in all these years: often, for instance, I have felt spontaneously ‘at
home’ in some cities in India, as if I knew them from before. Places
like Almora in the Himalayas, for instance, where we have had
powerful intuitions on how ancient our souls are.
I even had this experience in Srinagar. I covered Kashmir as a
journalist for the largest French political daily in the worst of its
unrest, from the late eighties till the Kargil war. It is there without
any doubt that I went through some of the most dangerous
incidents of my life – and where I acquired, I think, a little bit of
fearlessness, which has helped me till today. There was only
one hotel opened for journalists during the unrest, it was called
Adhoos and it was on the banks of the river Jhelum. There was
curfew most of the time and nobody could go out without a pass,
but at night I would step out of the hotel and walk on the bund that
stops the river Jhelum from overflowing into Srinagar. One could
hear gunfire and sometimes-even grenades in the distance, yet
I could feel the presence of the millions of saints, yogis, avatars
and simple people who had prayed and meditated for thousands of
years in Kashmir. It seems today like an abstract experience, but
on the spot, it was so strong and vivid and I felt that this was the
very reason that India should keep Kashmir, for its sacredness and
the Mother’s presence in spite of all the strife.
I came to Pune 7 years ago for an Art of Living course. In the
same way I immediately felt at home here. The course happened
in a beautiful Jain temple outside the city. I knew of course
about Shivaji Maharaj, having researched him for my books and
becoming a long standing admirer of him. I had some time after
the course and I asked my driver to take me to the main Museum,
which is called Kelkar. I was surprised and shocked to find that
there was not a single exhibit on Shivaji and that in the city of
his birth, there was no Museum worth the name honoring him.
Great men and women who walk this earth and are instruments
of God, do most of their work while in their physical body. But
when they die, I believe they leave something behind, a presence,
a will, an influence. This day I felt that I should do something to
honor Shivaji Maharaj who was so devoted to his country, which
he worshipped as the Mother and the idea of a Museum of true
Indian History, dedicated to Shivaji Maharaj, started taking shape
in my mind. Pune is the ideal place for this Museum: it’s Shivaji
Maharaj’s realm, it is central to India and easily accessible from
the South or the North and more than anything, Marathas have a
stronger national fiber than in other states and I felt the Museum
will be better protected here.
Yet, having spent the first 18 years of my life France, I still believe
in logic and understanding with the mind. What is then the purpose
of the Shivaji Maharaj shrine and of the Museum? Firstly, this is
a place of knowledge. People can come to the temple, meditate,
pray to Mother India or do a puja and come down a bit from their
heads to their hearts. Then, they can learn something about
the history of their country in the three exhibition halls, while
the main Museum comes-up. Programs can also happen in our
small amphitheater: films made by our foundation FACT can be
screened, plays, satsangs can happen, art of living courses. Some
of the Pune youth can come out feeling a little prouder of being
Indian, a little more knowledgeable about the history of this great
civilization that is India. It is a tragedy that the Indian education
system produces so many brilliant youth, who are just good for
export, as they are not made to learn about their own history,
poets, avatars, legends.
We would like to have many Bharat Mata temples such as ours
in Pune, along with one exhibition hall, come up, first all over
Maharashtra, then in Gujarat and eventually, if God wills, all
over India. It can be dedicated to different heroes and heroins:
In Maharashtra it could also be dedicated to Dr Ambedkar, who
is a true son of Bombay; in Rajasthan it can be dedicated to
Rana Pratap, in Madhya Padesh Ahylyabai or Rani of Jhansi, in
Karnataka Chennamai, in Tamil Nadu to poet Bharati, and so on.
This is a difficult project. Whoever has never attempted to raise
money for a Museum should give it a try. I have met hundreds
of potential donors, but when you say “ I need funds to build a
Museum of Indian History, as it happened, not as it has been
written”, you can see the mind of your interlocutor doing click
and then pat comes the answer: “oh I have to speak to my
board, oh, we only give to for health or education projects”,
full stop. There must be a reason why there is no Museum of
Shivaji Maharaj worth the name in Pune, for at every step we
encountered problems, some foreseen, some unforeseen, some
even coming from our own people. Trying to portray Indian History
as it happened, not as it has been written, is a very sensitive task
that leaves one exposed to all kind of troubles. We even are facing
some threats from some Shivaji group, who objects to Shivaji
Maharaj being associated with Mother India or the Vedas. Shivaji
was an extraordinary being, an instrument of god and whoever
binds him to a particular caste, or even a particular guru, demeans
him and hampers his work, for he was a supra national figure and
his qualities of dedication to Mother India, of extreme courage,
of respect of human rights and honest administration, are badly
needed in today’s India.
This is just a humble beginning: we have already started the
foundations of the main Museum which will house exhibitions
from the Vedas to the India of tomorrow. If God, in spite of my
shortcomings, gives me the strength, the enthusiasm and the
dynamism, it will be a wonderful and noble project that will be
talked about for centuries. But for that, we need funds, a lot of
funds. I hope those of you who will read these words, will be
touched and will pass along the message to their friends.
FACT is a registered Trust and has US, UK and Indian tax
exemption, as well as FCRA. Donations in Indian rupees can be
made at the following account:
Foundation Against Continuing Terrorism (FACT)
Account No: 04071450000237. IFCS code: HDFC0000407
Bank Address: HDFC Bank Ltd., T S No.6, 100 Feet Road
Ellaipillaichavadi, Pondicherry-605 005. Telephone: 0413 2206044
François Gautier/Trustee FACT (firstname.lastname@example.org)
all people, who can help for the cause of indian and hindus, should help this saint in white skin.
Delhi 110003. India.
Shivaji Maharaj, was a Vibhuti, directly sent by Lord Shiva to help India. Because of Shivaji’s
sacrifice, India’s culture and spirituality, from Pune to Kanyakumari, was better preserved
than in the rest of the land. Let us honor Him”
HOW WE SHALL HONOR OUR SPONSORS
* 1 lakh Indian rupees onwards, name of sponsor to be engraved on a wall
* 10 lakhs onwards, an individual brass plaque to be placed on a wall
* 50 lakhs, and above, one exhibition room to be named after donor
* 1 crore and above, an entire wing to be named after donor
*** We have Indian & US tax exemption, as well as FCRA permission. FACT is a registered Trust
overseen by 2 reputed chartered accountants in Delhi & Pondichery.
Here are the bank details:
Name of account: Foundation Against Continuing Terrorism
Account No: 04071450000237
IFCS code: HDFC0000407
Bank Address: HDFC Bank Ltd.
T S No.6, 100 Feet Road
A HERO FOR MODERN INDIA
* Who is just, firm and stands for the weak ?
* Who is an honest and able administrator ?
* Who confronts the enemy and is not cowed into submission ?
* To whom did Mother India appear in a vision to fight for
* Who is ruthless with his enemies, but spares women, children and
his own people ?
* Who goes to both Muslim and Hindu saints ?
*What organization, which is non-political, non religious, non-
affiliated to any group, is bringing to Pune a Hero for Modern India ?
Posted by Ashok Gupta