This year, June marks the tenth anniversary of Mohanji’s departure from the corporate world and his full commitment to selfless service.
To mark this occasion, we spoke with the CEO of the Mohanji Foundation, Madhusudan Rajagopalan.
The Awakening Times (TAT): Dear Madhu, thank you for the time taken for this interview.
Please tell us when and how was Mohanji Foundation formed. Were there any specific criteria given by Mohanji you had to meet?
Madhusudhan Rajagopalan – CEO Mohanji Foundation (MR): Thank you for the invitation. The first point I would single out regarding the registration in Switzerland is that Mohanji wanted something that could stand the test of time. He wanted something where jurisdiction is very stable, and the laws of what governs, the operation of the legal body can’t be messed around with or can’t be changed, either by the trustees or the people that are handling it or even by the law of the land. So that was the first and most important thing. His view is that what we’re creating has to last, not just 10s of years, but possibly hundreds of years.
The second, he said, is that all the wealth and assets need to be available for the people that are closely connected to him and allowing him and supporting him, and also their generations later. So, we needed the structure which can enable that.
There were only two jurisdictions where this kind of structure could have been possible, one was the UK, and the other was Switzerland. And then after looking at a bunch of criteria, we decided to go with Switzerland.
When the foundation was finally registered, that was like a landmark moment. Because it’s not easy to get a foundation registered in Switzerland. It’s a very, very stringent and very difficult procedure. So when that happened, that was something. It was like a culmination of all the things that Mohanji had been asking for. And it happened less than a year since we started.
TAT: MF has activities in 90+ countries in the world. What are the key principles that you follow?
MR: In each country that we operate in, our first focus is on adding value to the local community, the local country. One of the principles that Mohanji is very, particular about is that wherever you operate, you should first be very relevant to that space and region. So if you’re operating in South Africa, for example, then South Africa should benefit from our presence over there.
Because our first responsibility as a body registered, is to that land where we are registered. Mohanji says, for example, on an individual level, if you’re carrying the passport of a certain country, whether you’re native to the country, or you’re you immigrated, and now holding the passport of that country, then your first responsibility is to see how you can serve, what can you do in your capacity. And this is the same thing that he insists on for every organization of ours. So it’s each country, at our region level, and at an aggregate level, globally, to all these activities, we’re adding value to the world. That’s important to understand.
TAT: There has been exponential growth in MF’s activities over the past few years, can you give us a brief overview of what happened?
MR: The growth in our activities is not as per some business plans. This is happening as per the need of a particular situation. And wherever people are coming together and connecting to the idea and taking initiatives, then things have moved.
I think it is largely a result of the fact that people are experiencing some level of stability and transformation. And many of them are called to put in their time and effort to serve and grow. And the net result is that the power that Mohanji is letting more initiatives kind of take fruit or take shape.
So, I think it’s largely a result of the fact that the work that he’s been doing consistently, you know, the key thing is that for more than 10 years now since Mohanji left his corporate job, there is an extraordinary level of consistency of what he’s offering. There is continuous selflessness in terms of how that is that is happening. And, you know, he’s working 24/7.
TAT: Did the COVID pandemic affect the work of the Mohanji Foundation, were there any setbacks?
MR: On the contrary. I would say that during the COVID years, our activities grew faster than the previous year. I mean, if I compare 2020, with 2019. And it’s not just foundation work, I think MF work is maybe only one part of what happened during COVID in the terms of growth.
I think it has to do with the fact that we were very quick and adapted to the online requirements and we were able to launch initiatives that were very relevant to the timing.
Because when it started, there was a lot of uncertainty, there was a lot of mental stress, suddenly things got disrupted. And of course, there was the sickness and people were falling, ill and all of that was also happening.
But even the people that were not down with COVID, there was domestic you know, situations because everybody was cooped up inside a little space and certainty and all those things. So, Mohanji’s first directive was to see how to go out and support them. We started doing all our programs online. We started offering Mai-Tri sessions online, chanting, and daily practices as much as possible so that people have something to grasp and give them the stability that otherwise, you know, there was suddenly missing because a lot of activities have gone out of their daily schedule.
TAT: Many diverse people support the work of the Mohanji Foundation, from all over the world. Why do you think people join your projects and what do you think they get out of it?
MR: This is an opportunity for transformation. Right? You can do a lot of practice, you can do sadhana. But when you get to serve, a lot of the work is living the teachings and practice. It’s an opportunity for self-transformation. And it’s a way of connecting with Mohanji’s energy when you’re doing this work. And I think that’s what keeps people and gives them stability, it gives them an opportunity for transformation.
If you talk to any of the volunteers who have been volunteering for a certain amount of time, and you ask them to compare what’s happened between when they started, you will see that they have experienced quite a bit of a change in their personality or the pattern or how they lead their life. The other side is, whatever you’re doing, it’s helping some other people, right? So there’s a great degree of fulfillment that comes out of it.
There’s no such thing as a, as a too-small task, or no such thing as a very fancy task. Everything is important. Everything has its place.
Of course, we try and match skill sets, to the best use of that person’s time. Because if it’s volunteering, then you have to respect the person’s time. You give them the space and the time to do it. In the range of activities that we have, there is a place for all kinds of skill sets. Whether it is in Mohanji Foundation or any other platforms that have been created. There is room for all kinds of skill sets, especially now.
TAT: Being a CEO, what is harder for you to handle, a constant and diverse workflow, or the different personalities of people you work with?
MR: I’ve always been clear about what this is giving. That is quite clear in my head. So, I’ve never had the thought of stepping away from this. Not that I’m conscious, I’m aware of at least. I’ve had frustrations. And you know, sometimes it is It’s tiring, to deal with emotions and stuff like that. And sometimes it’s overwhelming as well. But, you know, that can happen anywhere, right?
When you’re dealing with people there is no running away, you have to deal with what you have to. But how practically, you deal with it is something that you learn over time. And it’s constant learning. So sometimes you deal with it directly. And sometimes, there are certain situations and issues that don’t get resolved. I hate dealing with it. But you know, you just let time pass, and it resolves itself.
TAT: I think we covered most of the stuff. Thank you for your time.
MR: It was my pleasure.