“God wishes that I start my work from this place, through this sign, Nirmala. We will start our Vidyapeeth here,” said Pandurang Shastriji Atahvale.
Pandurang Shastriji Athavale, Dadaji, had just come back from Japan. He had attended the World Religious Conference and propounded the theory talked about in Shreemad Bhagwad Geeta. But when asked whether he had something concrete to show, he had returned back to India, to experimentally prove the teachings of Shreemad Bhagwad Geeta.
His thoughts during the flight back home, were just about the recent offer by Dr.Crompton, he had declined politely and the challenge he had taken up to prove the thoughts he had put forth in his speeches at the Conference. Impressed by his clarity of thoughts, Dr.Crompton, a Nobel laureate, had offered Dadaji, to come to USA and propagate his thoughts about Geeta and Vedic culture. He was astonished when the young Pandurang declined it with utmost modesty. Dadaji in the flight was thinking that what he did was right. As the people in USA are not aware about Bhagwaan Krishna and so maybe will not have faith in him. So he will have to begin from scratch. Whereas in India, the people know Bhagwaan Krishna and had utmost faith in him. So it would be easier to talk to them and make them understand the thoughts. It is simple logic that a person follows who he trusts or has faith in. So now the first thing on reaching India would be to start looking for a place in and near Mumbai from where he can not only propagate His thoughts, but the place would also initiate experiments based on the thoughts.
On reaching Mumbai, the quest for finding the place began. He along with his consort, Nirmalatai, started visiting places for starting an institution for the above said activity. One day, while visiting a place near Kapurbawdi area of Thane, a district close to Mumbai, Nirmalatai’s chappals (footwear) got stuck in the mud. So taking this as a sign from the Divine, Dadaji laid the foundation stone for the institution on 22nd October 1954, Ashwin Sud Saptami, incidentally his birthday too according to Indian calendar.
Thus began the work on one of the only institutions that teaches how to lead a good life and how to become a good human! I have not heard of any such institution till date whose education is not going to fetch one nothing but knowledge. Yes I reiterate NO job, NO bread, NO fame.
As th work on the building proceeded, Dadaji went through a phase when he did not have any money left to continue with the building work. But God worried for his son and sent the money through people always wishing well for Dadaji. To save on every paise, Dadaji got the bricks made in the place itself. He himself was instrumental in making the bricks. Even today when we visit the place we get to see TVP (Tatvadnan Vidyapeeth) engraved on those bricks there.
The day of formal opening arrived in the year 1958, when the then Vice President, Dr. Sarvapalli Radhakrishnan, an acknowledged philosopher himself, arrived at Tatvadnan Vidyapeeth. It was a sombre occasion with a feeling and a touch of a family and not about protocols at all. After lunch, both Dadaji and Radhakrishnanji started talking about the future of the Vidyapeeth when the issue of economic dependency came up. Radhakrishnanji, being elder and more experienced, asked Dadaji about how he intends to run the Vidyapeeth without asking for funds. He even went further to cite his own experience when he and Madan Mohan Malviyaji asked for funds, for running the Benares Hindu University, from the society. To which Dadaji replied humbly, “Sir, we differ in fundamentals. For you, the society is absolute, whereas for me it is God. This is His institution and l would leave it upto Him to let it run. The day it doesnt, I have kept the lock ready. Will lock it up and go home.” Radhakrishnanji, a senior, was taken aback but admired the love of this young Shastri for his principles, especially faith in God. It is well evident that even in his last days on Mother Earth, Radhakrishnanji was happy to know that the institution he had inaugurated was still working.
Such is the Tatvadnan Vidyapeeth, whose birthday is today.
And such is Pandurang Shastriji Athavale, whose centenary birthday, we celebrate today.