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12. M.A. in English Literature

One evening when I was sitting upstairs reading, I saw a group of Ashramites coming to my house in a jeep. Soon my friend brought upstairs a letter from USA which was delivered to me from the Ashram post office. The Ashramites, who expected an important information from the USA, wanted to know whether my letter contained it. It was a personal letter written by an ex-colleague now in New York. The letter that disappointed the Ashramites contained a surprise for me. This friend and I had been colleagues at a high school for many years. Later, each of us had followed a different line in life. Now, after more than six years, he was writing from New York. Surely it was a surprise to me.

He and I were teachers in a high school. He was very popular among the students and more popular with the teachers. Everyone considered him a perfect gentleman. He was amiable, a conscientious teacher, a pleasant companion and never rubbed anyone on the wrong side. He came from an ardent Catholic family and was well versed in the Church doctrines. He was one of those who spent a good deal of time with me. He was particularly interested in knowing what attracted me to the Ashram. When he knew Mother's original name, he was delighted, as it was a Catholic name. He would ask me about Mother, Ashram, their practices, beliefs, etc. and compare them with the practices in their church. Over the years I have communicated to him the basic tenets of Mother's life. Each time an important issue came up in the school, he would ask me how Mother would act in such a situation. Once, when someone mooted the idea of starting a college in that town, the question of funds arose. This friend at once asked me Mother's view on collecting money for public service. I explained that Mother had said if the service was genuine, money would gravitate to the service. For the Ashram She never collected funds but accepted only what was brought to Her unasked. This made a great impression on him and he commented, "It requires a great ideal to attract money. This view is really marvelous."

Once he disclosed to me that he had chronic diarrhea and was able to digest nothing but milk. And he said he had had it for several years. As he was a native of Madras, he had consulted many doctors there in vain. He wanted to know whether I had any thoughts about his ailment. I gave my idea that he had a deep insecurity about his job and his future in life. The illness was only an outer symptom. He agreed that he had a deep insecurity, but did not agree that the illness was its result. After a year, an old classmate of his who had gone to London for medical studies returned and set up practice. My friend wanted to examine his illness afresh through the help of this doctor friend. As this friend was an ENT specialist, he could not do it himself, but introduced my friend to the leading doctors of the locality. The diagnosis of six of them was unanimous that the patient had T.B. and the diarrhea was the symptom. X-rays were taken and the diagnosis was confirmed.

He prepared to leave for Tambaram Sanatorium where he had relatives as doctors, so that he could get personal attention. The whole school was immersed in gloom. Personally I knew that no harm would come to him for the simple reason that he had listened to me about Mother so often. I knew Her protective power extends to all who come into contact with Her directly or indirectly. When he came to take leave of me, I said, "All the doctors have made a mistake, as they all go by the disease symptom and simply overlook the fact that your health is in fine fettle. It may be true that T.B. is indicated by diarrhea, but it is also true that diarrhea has many other causes."  He asked me how he could take my words to be true against the unanimous opinion of six doctors. Then he left for Tambaram. In three days he returned full of smiles and announced that at Tambaram they found out he did not have T.B. Everyone was happy. When he saw that the result at Tambaram confirmed my opinion, he began evincing greater interest in my way of understanding.

Personally I knew he had no real disease. Not only that, but a great opportunity was possible for him. Though he was conscientious, popular and amiable, he had neither much talent nor ideals. He was an ordinary man, but a good man, who believed in his religion. The very fact that he constantly asked about Mother and discussed Her ways of life and admired certain aspects of it brought a new force into his life. Therefore, a new high opportunity was possible. As he was not a direct devotee of Mother, this force lay there unused. When I saw that he was threatened by a chronic disease at a time when he should be rising higher, I decided to speak to him a little more freely. I knew that he could move up in life and forget once and for all disease, disappointment, etc. What was needed to accomplish this was an effort on his part in the positive direction. After some deep consideration of the matter, I recalled he had an excellent endowment for understanding human nature. If only this capacity could be utilised, his life could rise higher. This capacity is a valuable asset to students of literature. So, I suggested to him that he join M.A. English literature and that way his fears about T.B., the reality of diarrhea would vanish. The effort of the individual is necessary in such cases for Mother's dormant force to act. He dismissed my suggestion summarily, and we continued in the school as colleagues, he with his chronic diarrhea.

That summer he visited his home. Life took a different turn. For what reasons he could not imagine, his father asked him to join M.A. Literature. He could not agree to the idea, but he had never disobeyed his father's wishes. A Vice-Chancellor was a good friend of his sister's husband, who was a high-ranking army officer. His father disclosed that the Vice-Chancellor had already agreed to give him a seat in M.A. Half with fright and half with hesitation, he went to the university, submitted the application and was called by the professor of English for an interview. The professor took one look at the certificate and was in a fury, as he had secured only the minimum marks for pass in English in B.A. in a second attempt. His intermediate certificate showed that he had failed in English once. The professor was red in the face. He burst out, "You can never pass M.A. English in this lifetime!"  He was shivering with fear and begged the professor to return his certificates, so that he could return to school.

As the candidate was highly connected, the professor could not but admit him. He joined M.A., but was mortally afraid of his professor. But there was some deep satisfaction in joining a higher course. The day he joined M.A. his diarrhea totally disappeared, never to return.

A week later he visited our school and met his old friends. To me he confided his mortal fear of the professor's anger. I replied that he would be liked by the professor when his buried talents came out. In six months he became very popular with all the M.A. students, as well as his teachers, and became the favourite of the professor, who started sending M.A. students to him for help in the subject and clarification of doubts. Life had turned a full round. Disease was gone. Fear was gone. He was respected for his knowledge, goodness and, above all, his latent endowment. He passed M.A. and became a teacher in a college. From there he joined the staff of his own university, where he was considered by students and teachers as an authority on the subject. Another university that was reorganising its English department sent a special invitation to him for a higher job in the teaching hierarchy.

After he left his own university, I lost contact with him, and at least six years had passed. It was at this point that I received a letter from New York. He said in the letter, "I came to New York a few years ago and am employed as an editor of an accounting journal. As a part-time student I have joined Ph.D. (English) in New York State University and have finished the course. I am awaiting the degree."

book | by Dr. Radut