Exhibition of Books on Sri Aurobindo and the Mother: A Report

Dear Friends and Well-wishers,

An exhibition of books on Sri Aurobindo and the Mother (not available at the branches of Sri Aurobindo Book Distribution Agency, i.e. SABDA) and Indian scriptures was organized by Sri Aurobindo Sakti Centre and Overman Foundation in association with Sri Aurobindo’s Action West Bengal Trust in the evening of 15th November 2014 (Saturday) at the premises of Sri Aurobindo Sakti Centre located at 532, Block “M”, New Alipore, Kolkata 700053.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

The said exhibition was inaugurated by Shrimati Chitra Bose, Managing Trustee of Sri Aurobindo Sakti Centre Trust and Principal of Sri Aurobindo Bal Mandir.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

A special segment was devoted to the books authored by Shrimat Anirvan in Bengali and English.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

We take the opportunity to thank the members of Sri Aurobindo Sakti Centre who had efficiently managed the exhibition and all the participants for their overwhelming response due to which the event was a success.

The exhibition will be held again on Sunday, 8th February 2015 at the premises of Sri Aurobindo Sakti Centre from 10 a.m. onwards. We invite the participation of all book-lovers to this event.

With warm regards,
Anurag Banerjee
Founder-Chairman,
Overman Foundation.

*

M. P. Pandit’s Talk on the Mother’s Withdrawal

Dear Friends,

On 28 November 1973, M. P. Pandit gave a talk at “Peace” in Auroville on the Mother’s withdrawal. The text of the talk—which had originally appeared in the January 1974 issue of Mother India (the monthly review of culture published by Sri Aurobindo Ashram, Pondicherry)—has been published in the online forum of Overman Foundation.

With warm regards,
Anurag Banerjee
Founder,
Overman Foundation.

*

It was last week that a friend spoke to me of certain mental perplexities that had been created by what happened on the 17th of November, and she desired that I should come at the earliest and share my faith and certitude with you all. Somehow it could not be done earlier, but I have been thinking of all friends here and desiring to put certain facts before you. After all, any event has to be seen in the proper perspective of all that has gone behind it, of the immediate circumstances, no doubt, but also, of the horizons it opens up.

I have to take you back to a casual encounter that I had on the footpath of the main Ashram building some ten years ago. As I was passing, a lady who has grown up here since her very childhood stopped me, and I don’t know what made her ask, “Do you think that the mission of Sri Aurobindo and the Mother will be successful this time?” Spontaneously I replied to her: “What do you mean? It has already succeeded.” She was pleasantly surprised to hear me talk that way, and I explained; this explanation I shall elaborate.

Those of you who have read the writings of Sri Aurobindo and the Mother know that their main objective has been to bring down the Consciousness of the Truth-World—what they call the Supramental Consciousness and Power—on earth. They declared, a hundred times, that their object was to manifest the Truth-Consciousness on earth, fix it on the earth as an operative principle, and enable it to gradually transform human life into a divine life. They pointed out that no other power except the Truth-Power, the Truth-Will, could do it. For thousands of years man has tried to perfect himself, his life and his environment, but has not been able to succeed for the simple reason that every power that he marshalled and put into action happened to be an inferior power—not a power of Truth but a power that derived only indirectly from Truth.

In the long course of evolution there have been previous manifestations to bring down from the supernal heights the highest power conceivable at those times, at each evolutionary juncture, and establish it on earth. We know that Rama came to evoke and set in motion the law of the sāttvika mind, the enlightened mind. He was followed ages later by Krishna who manifested the overmind-consciousness and, through it, the delight-consciousness of the Lord. Ages had to elapse before the next step had to be taken; and that was to bring down the Vijñāna, the Truth-Consciousness, the Supermind, the Supramental Power, on earth, not as an individual siddhi, which the Vedic sages had done thousands of years ago, but for the entire collectivity—something that could operate as a fixed power on earth, not as an individual realization valid only for the particular individual.

This object got clarified in Sri Aurobindo only after he came to Pondicherry. He first formulated it, spelt it out, in the Arya. Before the Mother joined him here, the Mother also had spoken of the Divine Consciousness in her Prayers and Meditations. The Mother has never spoken in terms of philosophy, she plainly put it: it is the Divine Consciousness that has to manifest and transform life. So both and she, in the manifesto that was printed in the Arya, announced that to make a new age possible, to make a perfect life possible, to make a perfect man possible, a new consciousness that has been hitherto unmanifest has to be brought down and made active on earth. It was with that object that the Mother joined him in 1920 and Sri Aurobindo accepted those who felt called upon to accept his ideal and strive for it. You all know how the Ashram came to be started in 1926, on that day, November 24th, when the overmind-consciousness (originally brought down by Krishna) descended into the physical body of Sri Aurobindo and he felt the need to retire completely to prepare for the next step, to concentrate all his energies and faculties on the next step: to bring down the Truth-Consciousness.

There are letters from 1926 onwards—he kept up having contact through correspondence from 1926 till 1938, the year he had the unfortunate accident—he carried on correspondence, wrote detailed replies, for eight hours per day during nights; somewhere in 1934 or so he says that he is catching the tail of the Supermind. Later he speaks somewhere that it comes and goes; the Mother also has said somewhere that she had seen the Supramental Light coming in to Sri Aurobindo, staying there for a while, and then withdrawing. As years went by, their efforts continued. They did not consider anything that happened in the world as irrelevant to their purpose. They paid full attention to cataclysmic events like World War II, the political movements and revolutions in India, as part of the cosmic plan. And they strove.

A situation arose in 1950 or thereabouts when Sri Aurobindo found that the earth conditions were still resistant to the descent of the Supramental Force. If the Supramental Force were to come down at that stage, things would break. We have a hymn in the Veda which speaks of the unbaked jar: unless the jar is baked enough, brought to sufficient consistency and strength, it cannot hold the descent of God; the Rishis speak in symbolic terms. Sri Aurobindo found that physical Matter was not yet ready to hold the descent. It was then that he took a decision, for the genesis of which I have to take you back to the years somewhere between 1923 and 1926. In one of the evening conversations (I do not remember if this particular one has been published) Sri Aurobindo was asked, “Have you conquered death?” He replied, “Even if I take a cup of poison it cannot kill me.” “That means that you can’t die?” someone asked. He answered, “There are only three conditions under which I would leave my body: one, successful completion of my mission; two, it being shown to me that it is not to be this time; three, accident.” Well, by 1950 he saw, it was shown to him, that the final descent was not to be in his body. He took a decision to withdraw.

He had cured innumerable people of so many diseases by his spiritual power, but when disease attacked him in 1950 he refused to cure himself. When one of his attendants asked him, “Sir, why don’t you cure it?”, he said, “You will not understand.” He had taken the decision to withdraw, but simultaneously—characteristic of his heroism—he decided to make a purposeful sacrifice of his body. As the hour was approaching, he was seen pulling the Power down and down. The Power came down and he laid down his life. That was his sacrifice. No other material vehicle could have received the descent that came that day. And as it penetrated, as it got fixed in his body, simultaneously the Mind of Light got formed in the Mother; she had an equally developed ādhār. The Mind of Light, as you all know, is the physical mind being taken control of and suffused with the Supramental Consciousness. That was in 1950.

Those of you who were not here at that period can have no idea of the gloom that settled over the Ashram community, of the shock that all friends and well-wishers all over the world received—totally an unexpected event. But there was the Mother. She assumed control. She radiated the confidence, the faith, the cheer, that revived everyone; and she conveyed the assurance of Sri Aurobindo that he would not leave the earth atmosphere till the Truth-Consciousness was established on earth.

Thereafter, heroically, stoically, the Mother continued the work. And somewhere before 1956 she was confident that that year would see the manifestation of the Supramental Consciousness on earth—not in one body or in two bodies, but generally on earth. She said in the New Year Message that year:

The greatest victories are the least noisy.
The manifestation of a new world is not proclaimed by beat of drum.

But events took her and everyone by surprise. All were sitting for meditation after the Wednesday class, it was the 29th of February. You all have read how, that day, the Mother came face to face with a door and, as prophesied in Savitri, she broke open the “dual door” and let in the stream of Truth-Consciousness which flooded the earth. The Mother said privately to some that when she had opened her eyes she had expected that by the sheer impact of the descent all the people in the playground would be flat, but, she saw, all were packing their bags to go. However, as she said once, she was never disappointed because she never depended on humanity for success in her work. She slaved for humanity, but she did not expect the slightest return. I have seen her at very close quarters, she has never, never complained. She has sympathized, she has tried to help, but never complained of lack of response, lack of support, from anybody. That happened in 1956.

Now the point I want to make is that with the manifestation, the flooding manifestation, of the Truth-Consciousness on earth on the night of February 29th, 1956, the declared objective of Sri Aurobindo and the Mother to bring down on earth the power of Supramental Consciousness so as to make it form a part of the earth, attainable by anybody who strives for it, was accomplished. Still, the Mother did not announce it. A few days thereafter news got around and, as in confidence, it was passed from one person to another. And when I told the Mother, “Mother has not said anything but the word is going around that the Supramental Consciousness has descended”, she didn’t express any surprise but said, “Ah!” It was about then that for distribution on the 29th of March an Ashram artist’s painting, “The Golden Purusha”, was printed with a passage from Prayers and Meditations:

The Lord has willed and Thou dost execute:
A new light shall break upon the earth,
A new world shall be born,
And the things that were announced shall be fulfilled.

Copies had arrived from the press; there were four or five of us present; she took the sheets and, along with other changes in her own hand—I still have my copy as a memento in my room—she turned the future into the present tense:

Lord, Thou hast willed, and I execute:
A new light breaks upon the earth,
A new world is born.
The things that were promised are fulfilled.

That was her answer to our implied question whether it was true. That was a milestone in the evolutionary journey of the earth, the achievement of the prime objective, for which Sri Aurobindo and the Mother had taken birth.

Thereafter it was a question of working it out, of working out the consequences. The main thing was done; she herself explained that once the Supramental Consciousness was established on earth, thereafter it was a question of extension—larger and larger extension so as to acclimatize the earth to the vibrations of the Supramental Consciousness. This work she has been doing since 1956, for the last seventeen years, with many changes taking place in the earth atmosphere.

That very year one could see the repercussions of the descent of the Supramental Consciousness, the Supramental Force, in the international situation. I had recently occasion to meet a senior statesman in India and he told me how from various pieces of information and his own deductions he had anticipated the Suez Canal crisis, the invasion by Britain and France, on the 9th of November, 1956. But certain things happened and the invasion took place on the 2nd of November. He was very much intrigued. So when he came here, while reporting things to the Mother he asked, “I have never been known to be misled in my calculations; why is that this time things have taken me by surprise?” The Mother smiled and told him, “True, you have taken all things into calculation except one important thing.” Then he asked the Mother what it was. She said, “You have not taken into account the new Force that has come.” Immediately he woke up to the new situation.

Since 1956 no situation that could easily have led previously to a general war has been allowed to develop into a world war situation because of this presence of the Supramental Force of harmony, of unity. A world war, a third world war is impossible. There may be local skirmishes, local battles, on other people’s territories, but a world war is impossible. The very basis of the forces of violence and war has been struck with the establishment of the original Truth of union, harmony, love. A new set-up has been created which enables us to confidently expect the world to move towards One World. This is but one consequence, there are many more. The manifestation of the Supermind has had many results, some are to be stabilised on a collective scale, some to be worked out individually, but all have to be organised.

There is the question of the perfection of the mind, an infallible knowledge; attainment of power which keeps pace with that knowledge; there is the change of human nature into divine nature after which alone the process of transformation is possible; there is the consequence of physical or terrestrial immortality. Now all these, mind you are consequences of some central achievement, which have to be worked out slowly, gradually. The Mother said she had once asked Sri Aurobindo, “After the descent of the Supermind how long do you think the process of transformation will take?” Sri Aurobindo looked up and told her, “Perhaps three hundred years.” Now it doesn’t exactly mean three hundred years, it gives an idea of the long period of time that is required. The Mother, while she was recalling this, added, “He said three hundred years, but you know there is something like Grace—anything can take place.” But in her own mind she had no illusions; born fighter that she was, she always set about things with the faith that the things would surely be done.

For her there was no question of changing her human nature into divine nature, which for us is a lifetime programme. She didn’t have this question because she had already, during the course of the last fifty or sixty years, seen her human system — I wouldn’t say nature — taking on the divine nature. The process of physical transformation, she has explained, means taking up each cell, persuading it to change, coaxing it to change, exposing it to the Force of change; and where it resists, it has a repercussion in the body as a pain which no medicine can cure—one has to endure. There are millions of cells in each body, that was a laborious and a patient process which she was undergoing. Nobody seriously expected that the entire process of transformation could be telescoped within a few years, barring, of course, a miracle; but the Mother’s way was never to work in miracles or to make her time-table in terms of miracles.

Side by side with her effort from here, from below, of the transformation of the various cells in her body step by step, work was going on from above. Sri Aurobindo, according to his promise, had been working. A new body was under formation, the supramental body, in which she was to take her embodiment as the end-result of the transformation of this body. The body was being prepared. She gave in “Notes on the Way” descriptions of this body, described how it looked. And about a year ago she told someone, “I am trying to fuse this material body into that body but I have not been able to get the clue.” She said, “Nobody on earth has tried this, the secret is not given to me.” On that point, she said, there was no help from above. She was searching.

Thereafter—if I would be right in taking you into confidence—one day it flashed to me that as soon as that luminous body was ready the Mother would just walk into it without dying; “without dying” means not necessarily keeping the body, but without the gap in consciousness; keeping up the continuity of the personality she would just cross into that luminous body. It just flashed, and the way it came I thought it was something more than just an idea; I noted it down in my diary. I looked it up the other day, it was dated the 24th of July 1973. I did not think it wise to speak of it to people except in my closest circle, which I did. And thereafter one of the friends from here came to me and asked, “Why is it that for the first time I could detect a different note in your talk the other day in answer to questions regarding Mother?” I did not know what to reply but I told him the way in which my mind was working.

Then on the morning of 17th November at about nine o’clock, a particular friend of mine—he has a certain grounding in occult experience, occult knowledge, and normally when we meet we exchange notes—told me, “I have seen the Mother’s body of light.” I got interested. He said, “The new body is full of light but it is not yet dense enough to function in earth conditions. It is there, and as I was looking at it I got the feeling that the Mother would enter this body the moment it became dense enough to stand and function in the earth atmosphere, seen or unseen. But there is no question of revival of the material body.” And he added, “Those who are capable of seeing the Mother’s halo, aura, they will be able to see that luminous body.” It confirmed what I had perceived some four months earlier; I told him as much.

That evening at 7-25 p.m., as you all know, the Mother withdrew from her body. They say the cause was heart failure, but let me tell you the heart failure was not the cause, the heart failure was the result of her withdrawal. She had decided; the moment things were ready she walked into that body.

She has not passed away, she has just changed her body. Not changed in the manner of the Gita—soul changing bodies—but consciously; keeping the full personality she has gone into that body. And, as it was revealed to me on that day, she will function in that body, work through those instruments who are open to her, expedite the remaining work—the working out of the consequences—but her activity will not be confined to the Ashram or to Auroville; for her the whole world is her ashram. As I was led to put it on radio the next day, “The sea of Love that is the Mother swells into an ocean”: not a perception, not an idea, not an image, but an experience.

I am sure all of you feel her Presence. You can’t feel the presence of a dead person as you feel hers. Do you feel any panic in the Ashram atmosphere? Can you imagine two thousand people who have lost their leader breathing this peace, this calm? Is there grief? Of course there is a certain pang of physical separation, but she is there. Thousands of visitors who came afterwards have told us, “We were sad, we were grief-struck, we did not know what to do. We took whatever was available without thinking of the timings—plane, train, bus, car.” They arrived and they said that within half an hour or one hour of their arrival their grief was completely taken away. They felt that it was worth coming, that she is here, she is not gone; “she is here” does not mean she is in the Ashram only but she is on earth.

Sri Aurobindo is there, the Mother has assured us, in the subtle-physical world in his supramental body waiting for the conditions under which alone he can manifest on earth; we do not know when. That body cannot function on earth till the earth substance has been changed. The Mother’s body, the body that she has assumed, is nearer the earth. She is going to be the bridge between Sri Aurobindo’s supramental body in the subtle-physical world and this material world. In Savitri Sri Aurobindo says of the Mother:

She is the golden bridge, the wonderful fire.

Well, she is the bridge; she is the bridge for all that is to come from above, for all of us who are loyal to her and who owe it to her to devote every minute of our lives to the achievement of her ideal, to the perfection that she has desired of us. The only way in which we can repay our debt of gratitude to her for what she has done for us is to let her live in us, to let her manifest in our selves: each in his own way.

She is there looming over the whole world. And for those of us who have openness to her, who have love for her, who have devotion for her, these act like magnets to which her consciousness, her love, her force, comes pouring down in floods. Keep that connection. Have a loving thought for her; think of her with love. Cheerfully, gratefully, joyfully, keep yourself at the disposal of the Mother’s Consciousness. For her there is no death.

I remember how on the Mother’s birthday, the 21st of February, 1973, when I met her, in the course of a few words that I had with her, I said on a spontaneous impulse, “If by taking my life thy physical life can be prolonged by a day, please take it.” She in-drew for a moment, held my hand and said, “Life is eternal.”

She lived in eternity. She did not and does not live only in earthly space and time. There was always a different dimension to her life and function. She once told someone—one of the workers like me—“If I say something now please don’t quote it against me half an hour hence because within that half an hour I will have gone five hundred miles ahead.” That was years ago. That way she did give us a glimpse into her real personality. I was watching one day as someone was talking to her, and she said, “But don’t you see that only the part that belongs to this universe is here!” You know what she meant, there is no need for me to emphasize her supernatural aspects to you all. You all have faith in her, believe in her, but I am mentioning this as something which you would love to know, it’s not to prove anything to you.

The Mother was a spiritual pragmatist par excellence: I claim to be a spiritual rationalist. I would accept nothing unless it meets the demands of common sense, as much of common sense as I am gifted with. And I assure you, after thirty-five years of stay and service at the Mother’s feet, I am proud to tell you that she never, never asked me to accept anything only on faith. If I asked anything—not only I but anyone—she would explain as to a child; she would suspend everything and as if we had the whole of eternity before us, she would start explaining. She never denied an explanation either of her actions or of her words.

There is no problem for one who understands the Mother, who has understood her personality. The teaching is great, the masters have been great, there is no question of success or failure, it is a discharge of their mission, the mission with which they were sent here: they have done it. For seventeen years things have been spreading out all over the world, and that will continue. Each one of us, however, has a responsibility to keep up the great Ideal of perfection of life, transformation of human life into a divine life, embodiment of the Truth-Consciousness in however small a degree in the most developed part of us. More I do not say at this moment.

Questions

Q: In “Notes on the Way” and other sources the Mother often spoke of her body and the possibility of the physical transformation; now it has been said that her body was of the old creation and was never meant to be the transformed body. This has created quite a bit of confusion…

A: Well,— excuse me for interrupting you—I know what you mean. It was some years ago, before 1958, when the Mother was still going to the playground and holding classes: she said that a body born in the normal way (what is normal at present) would have a normal end; second, a body born in the normal sexual way could not become supramental proper. A supramental body will have to come from above. What can be done with the human body is that it can be brought up to the level of the Superman, but not the Supramental Being straight away. The stage of complete supramentalization is far, far ahead.

The word “transformation” has a big content, even physical immortality is not central to it; it is only a consequence of complete transformation. Sri Aurobindo gave very little importance to this immortality. He said all that is needed is conquest over death, freedom to keep or shed the body when one wants to change.

The Mother knew very well that in the normal process the complete transformation of the body was problematic. But she had always put forth an unknown factor: Grace, the Supreme’s Will which brooks no opposition, which doesn’t care for our laws, processes; so that proviso was always there.

Her horoscopes had spoken of the subject living up to a hundred years, but at the end of a hundred years no death was indicated, it was left to the choice of the person. Not one but many astrologers have told me—not now, but long before—that her horoscope extended up to a hundred years and thereafter it was left to her choice. That was our normal expectation. It she took a different decision it is because the body would not respond, would not support further working. She saw no use in continuing in this body. She went on preparing the other body during the last six or seven months in which she was in-drawn; she was always attending to that, staying in this body till she could enter the other body.

There are interpretations and interpretations; each one has to accept what feels true—not sounds true—to him. You can’t hold her in a formula. There has been no parallel to the Mother in the spiritual history of mankind. She is unique, you can’t apply any comparison. What she spoke was scripture, what she did was supreme law.

She has prepared us, even when she was in the physical body, to face the situation. She is there guiding, leading us. All these little controversies pale into insignificance before the grandeur of her personality, the splendid horizons opened by her for man. She has set man on the highway to God.

You will see, I tell you you will see, her work being expedited now. She will work more effectively now in her luminous body than she was allowed to in her material physical body. I do not speak of the Ashram so much as an institution, but of Auroville, of the future of man, her work in the world—progression towards one mind, one life, one world. The forces of harmony, the radiations of love: you will see how they gather, how they are marshalled. A great change will come over the world by being precipitated by her from there.

Q: If we cannot reach the supramental body, those of us who are born in the usual way, what then is the function and what is the goal of humanity?

A: To arrive at our highest possible perfection. By arriving at our highest perfection we are opening the possibility of the intermediate race, the race of superman. That intermediate race, the superman, will prepare the field in which the supramental beings will manifest. How they will take birth is a secret that Nature or Supernature has not yet revealed to us.

You have to take it that the time is not come for what has not been done today by the Mother: earth conditions are not ready. Her body was a reflex of the whole earth. All the resistances and difficulties in physical matter were projected in her physical body and she had to tackle each cell in a representative manner. That was why all the difficulty, that was why the decision. Do you mean to say that if she had wanted individual transformation she could not have done it? She had only to ask for it, she could do it by a miracle, but she would not. She herself told me once in another context when I had asked her a question about some recalcitrant natures in others, recalcitrant habits in myself, that she did not favour changes by miracles effected from outside. She wanted us to change in a natural way of evolution. She did not believe in doing things through miracles.

For us to arrive at the highest possible state of perfection means: first, psychicization—to bring the psychic being within ourselves to the front of our nature, let it govern all our movements of body, life and mind; then, extension, cosmicization, universalization of our consciousness—so that the beats of the heart of the world can be felt in us; thereafter, spiritualization—above the mind, all the manifest levels of consciousness have to be scaled and normalised in us. After these three are done to their maximum,—psychicization, universalization and spiritualization—after all these three processes are complete, then only can you say man has arrived at the highest possible perfection normally open to him. Thereafter arises the prospect of supramentalization and its farther consequence of transformation.

*

Udar Pinto’s Talk on the Mother’s Mahasamadhi

Dear Friends,

On 7 December 1973, Udar Pinto—the Mother’s Secretary—gave a talk at “Peace” (Matrimandir Camp) in Auroville on the Mother’s Mahasamadhi. The text of the talk was published in the January 1974 issue of Mother India, the monthly review of culture published by Sri Aurobindo Ashram, Pondicherry.

The said talk has been published in the online forum of Overman Foundation along with a statement issued by Pradyut Kumar Bhattacharya—the then Trustee of Sri Aurobindo Ashram Trust—on Sri Aurobindo Ashram and the Mother’s passing away.

With warm regards,
Anurag Banerjee
Founder,
Overman Foundation

*

I have come at the invitation of Seyril and others to give a talk but I have come not to talk to you but with you and to find out things together.

First let us see what happened to the Mother on the 17th November and the events leading up to it. Pranab has given a talk at the Playground on this and as you were not allowed to attend I asked him to give me a typescript of his talk and he said he would but evidently forgot to do so. Pranab spoke largely of things that happened on the surface. He made it quite clear himself that he would speak only of what he saw and give his own impressions of it. So he talked of the Mother’s physical condition, of how She first retired on the 2nd April, 1973, and then started seeing some people again and finally stopped seeing anyone from the 21st May. Then the Mother became very withdrawn and was only concerned, if at all, with elementary things like food, walking, etc. All these matters are not so important to talk of now and, as Pranab’s talk will appear in print, all can read it some time. But it is important to look at his conclusions.

To begin with, I feel he made an omission which is very significant for me. He did not do this deliberately but it is nonetheless meaningful. He explained how the Mother, being quite withdrawn and fighting constantly from within for the physical transformation, was quite unaware of anything else happening around Her. Yet, on the morning of 15th August, I understand, She suddenly asked what date it was and when informed of it and asked if She would give Darshan that day, She agreed. So one can see how alive was Her consciousness to things that really are important. She was not occupied with elementary bodily needs.

Another point—and this is of the utmost importance—is Pranab’s conclusion that although the Mother fought to the very end for the transformation of Her present physical body, it was the natural process of death that finally prevailed.

On this point I would like to dwell. The Mother had always foreseen the possibility that She might have to leave Her body. This is clear in some of the things She has said as they appeared in the Bulletin. And also Sri Aurobindo has written of this clearly in The Supramental Manifestation upon Earth, in the chapter of “The Divine Body” and the next one. He has shown two possibilities. One is of transforming the present human body into a Superhuman body—a body still human but a super one. The other relates to a Supramental body. The Superhuman body would be a big step towards the Supramental body. But the Supramental body would be realised by a new process—not by that of birth and growth as now but by some sort of materialization into the physical from a subtle stuff, a kind of projection. The process has yet to be established and so is not yet known.

Now my own feeling is that the Mother first tried for Her body to become super-human almost up to the very end but at last She decided to give up the attempt and made the second choice. I base this feeling on what Pranab said of the Mother’s last moments: how She who had evidently and visibly been fighting for transformation suddenly became quiet and peaceful for sometime before the end. This, I feel, is the moment She took Her momentous decision. I myself cannot accept that what happened to the Mother was not the result of Her decision. It is quite contrary to all I knew of Her from personal intimate knowledge. You know that for many years together with Pranab we used to have our lunch with the Mother and, with Pavitra added, we had dinner with Her. At these times She told us many things—sometimes at dinner She spoke for an hour or two. Thus there are many things I know personally of what the Mother said. So I can affirm from this knowledge that She left Her body by Her own decision and not by the usual process of nature.

Now the question arises: “Why didn’t the Mother choose the second alternative in the first place but, instead, and for so long, the painful part of transforming Her present body?” I feel it was because the way of transformation, if once achieved by Her, would open the path to others to follow—those who were prepared to do so, whereas the other way of projecting a Supramental body is still unknown and that means it would be very delaying and so She deliberately chose a path easier for those of us who want to follow Her. This entailed a terrible and unbelievable physical suffering for Her body and this was Her Great Sacrifice for us for which we must be eternally grateful. The path of transformation is itself quite long. First, the physical cells have to stop decaying. Each cell, of which the body is built up, has an inbuilt principle of growth and then of decay—senility. The first step is to stop this decay and the second to establish again a regrowth. The whole process would take two to three hundred years, the Mother once explained to me, but even such a period would be quite short for so tremendous a change. The first step is itself very difficult and that is what She set out to do. But the task was formidable as the Mother had not only to contend with the established laws of nature but also with all the weaknesses and follies of all of us. We did not help Her at all but rather hindered Her with our troubles and problems and, worst of all, our quarrels. Our filth and dirt we threw upon Her and, as our Mother, She took everything upon Herself from Her children, blind and stupid though we were.

A very striking passage from Savitri makes very clear the Mother’s work for the transformation. There Narad speaks about Savitri to the Queen whose daughter she is. I shall recite the passage to you:

A day may come when she must stand unhelped
On a dangerous brink of the world’s doom and hers,
Carrying the world’s future on her lonely breast,
Carrying the human hope in a heart left sole
To conquer or fail on a last desperate verge.
Alone with death and close to extinction’s edge,
Her single greatness in that last dire scene,
She must cross alone a perilous bridge in Time
And reach an apex of world-destiny
Where all is won or all is lost for man.
In that tremendous silence lone and lost
Of a deciding hour in the world’s fate,
In her soul’s climbing beyond mortal time
When she stands sole with Death or sole with God
Apart upon a silent desperate brink,
Alone with her self and death and destiny
As on some verge between Time and Timelessness
When being must end or life rebuild its base,
Alone she must conquer or alone must fall.
No human aid can reach her in that hour,
No armoured God stand shining at her side.
Cry not to heaven, for she alone can save.
For this the silent Force came missioned down;
In her the conscious Will took human shape:
She only can save herself and save the world.
O queen, stand back from that stupendous scene,
Come not between her and her hour of Fate.
Her hour must come and none can intervene:
Think not to turn her from her heaven-sent task,
Strive not to save her from her own high will.
Thou hast no place in that tremendous strife;
Thy love and longing are not arbiters there,
Leave the world’s fate and her to God’s sole guard.
Even if he seems to leave her to her lone strength,
Even though all falters and falls and sees an end
And the heart fails and only are death and night,
God-given her strength can battle against doom
Even on a brink where Death alone seems close
And no human strength can hinder or can help.
Think not to intercede with the hidden Will,
Intrude not twixt her spirit and its force
But leave her to her mighty self and Fate.

Here I should like you to mark the words: “Even though… the heart fails.” As you know, the cause of the Mother’s passing is officially declared to have been heart-failure.

Now rather than dwell too long on what has happened let us see what we have to do. This, you will all agree with me, is much more important. So I shall stop at this stage and invite questions on the first part before going on to the next. All right? Questions, please.

Question: Can it be said that, by the Mother’s not transforming Her present body, there is a setback for man?

Answer: I do not feel it so. Because we did not collaborate, the Mother had to take the other alternative. So there is no setback. It is only that we have to wait for the new process to be developed.

Question: Should we now stop trying for physical transformation ourselves?

Answer: I do not see it that way. The Mother has constantly stressed the limitless possibilities that exist. She has said that it is a habit of the human mind to pose two alternatives—this or that—but the spiritual view is global and sees endless possibilities. In this view there is no reason why someone should not now succeed in transforming a human body to a Superhuman one. The Mother has opened a pathway for us to follow, by Her great work. The Divine may take someone to His end.

Question: Why did not Mother announce Her decision?

Answer: It is not the way of Sri Aurobindo or the Mother to make announcements. The Mother has given messages to this effect: “No words—Acts”, “Don’t announce. Realise”, etc. Sri Aurobindo also did not announce to us His decision to leave His body though He had told the Mother about it. He said that He had to pass through the experience of death to be able to work on this side. That is why all the medical treatment given to him was quite ineffective against His decision.

Now let us come to what we have to do. But first let us see what we should not do though this way seems a negative approach.

The Mother has given several warnings on what we should avoid and I remember many things She said. But I will, for this meeting, reduce it to three serious warnings.

First, the Mother warned us against trying to see and judge things and happenings by the mind. This is what we continue to do—even here at this meeting. We should rather go deep within ourselves, right to the Soul or Spirit, and try to understand, or rather experience, from there. Let this be our constant aspiration.

The second warning is that we should avoid strictly the dangerous tendency of turning all of Sri Aurobindo’s and the Mother’s work into a religion. This tendency is pretty strong now. Also, talking of the formation of priest sects, the Mother often pointed out to me how priest sects were already in formation here for arranging flowers on the Samadhi, for sweeping around the Samadhi, etc.

The third and most serious warning, in my view, is that some of us will try to become Gurus. I remember once Pranab and I, while taking food with the Mother, were making, by way of a joke, a list of “Guru types” in the Ashram. The Mother saw us laughing and asked us to tell Her what we were doing. We were caught and had to tell Her. She laughed. Later She said to me, “And what about you, Udar?” I said, “Mother, please save me from this pit. It is not in my nature to become a guru but please see that I do not ever fall into such a pit.” The Mother answered, “Yes, Udar, it is not in your nature but I warn you that if ever you do fall into such a temptation then wherever you are I will come and break your head.” “Mother,” I prayed, “please do so. I will deserve to have my head broken.” This warning also may go unheeded by some.

Now, as to what we should do, I feel that first we should try to establish a harmony in our working together, all of us, in the Ashram, in Auroville and between the Ashram and Auroville and all else. But the harmony should not be attempted on the level of ideas however noble. See the example of the United Nations Organisation. It will never succeed at that level. Nor will it succeed for long at the level of the heart which, Sri Aurobindo says, is the seat of conflicting passions—love but also hate and jealousy. It is only on the basis of the Spirit that it will succeed, for the very characteristic of the Spirit is its universality. The Spirit is like an ocean where no one can say that this is my drop and that is yours.

So we must try from that basis, but we must try with all sincerity. This is most important, as the Mother has so often stressed the paramount need of a pure sincerity as a first step towards spiritual growth. But how to get this sincerity which must be very pure—how to get it in ourselves and in others? It can only be if each one of us takes it up as a great work in our Yoga Sadhana. I am reminded of an occasion when I took to the Mother a very high officer of the Ministry of Finance who asked Her, “How are we to remove corruption from the country?” The Mother replied, “There is only one way, by example.” The man was rather disappointed by what he considered perhaps a platitude. Maybe he expected a Mantra or something like that. But then, several months later, he came back and I took him to the Mother again, and once more he asked the same question and still the Mother gave an identical reply. But She added, “When there is something false I want to change in the Ashram, I work on it in myself first.” This gave me a great shock—to know that our Divine Mother should work on something false within Herself! The shock made me go deep within myself and then an understanding came. It came in a form suitable to my own scientific background though to another it might have come differently.

If, say, I wanted to remove corruption, then I would have to find some stain that is surely there of this corruption within myself and to work hard to remove it. This would set up a certain vibration. Now, at this point, there may be some eyebrows raised when I say vibrations, yet it is very scientific. All power is transmitted and becomes effective through waves which are vibrations. Sound, light, electricity are transmitted by waves. We have also cosmic waves, etc. There are an infinite number of such waves which are vibrations with a wave length and frequency and amplitude. So if I created a wave with a particular length and frequency attuned to the phenomenon called corruption, this wave would naturally go round the world. Wherever it met a similar phenomenon it would work on it also. If such a wave with a sufficiently large amplitude could be made broadcast it would attack corruption wherever it existed even without the people concerned wanting to be uncorrupt. It may even kill a person if his resistance was too strong.

When I put this view before the Mother, She said, “Ah, Udar! at last you have understood.”

So it is how we have to strive for a strong and pure sincerity.

There again, we can open ourselves to the new force that is now acting in the world and with that strength take up some work or project which is based on the Truth, and we shall have unimaginable support and force behind us. But it must be based on the Truth as it is a Truth-Conscious force and not an unconscious one like, say, nuclear energy—a very powerful material force which can be properly used or misused by man.

This new force came into effective action from 1970. I remember that at about 4 o’clock in the morning I felt a tremendous force in me. I wanted to sing and shout with exuberance. I felt I could shake the house to its foundations. When I told this to the Mother later in the day, She said, “Ah, so you felt it too! It came down at midnight. You received a slightly delayed action of it.” Then it was that the Mother said that the time might now come to tell India and the world of this new force so that those who received the message could open to it and do marvellous things to change the world. The Mother said we should go out at once and She proposed the organisation of “Sri Aurobindo’s Action” because, the Mother said, it was Sri Aurobindo Himself in Action that is this great force.

Question: Was not the fact of the Mother leaving Her body a form of insincerity?

Answer: Insincerity to what? The Mother always obeyed the Divine Will. “Not my will but Thy Will be done” was Her constant prayer and aspiration. So when She obeyed the Divine Will and left Her body, is that an act of insincerity? We should ourselves now follow the Mother’s supreme example and surrender ourselves to the Divine Will always.

Question: Was the Mother’s retirement a preparation for this event?

Answer: Yes, I think so. She prepared us well. If She had left Her body while in full activity—say, when playing tennis or something like that—it would have been a great shock. But our sweet compassionate Mother thought of Her children always and prepared us in a gradual way for Her leaving.

Question: Is not Pranab’s refusal to allow Aurovillians to attend his talk an act of insincerity?

Answer: How am I to judge? I have told Pranab I want to discuss this with him one day. So let us see what happens. We must know all sides.

Question: How did you feel when Sri Aurobindo left His body?

Answer: I was by His side when it happened and I knew that He was leaving His body. So I kept very calm and objective as I kept reminding myself that I was standing at a great moment of history. Because I was so calm—the only one then perhaps besides Dyuman—Dr. Sanyal said that I should look after all arrangements and the Mother gave me charge of them all. I remember it all so clearly—how it was decided to put His body next day in the Samadhi. We had worked night and day to get everything ready. Then it was found that there was no sign at all of decomposition, and the Mother said we should wait till we had a sign from Him. So it continued from the 5th to the 9th. Then the doctors who had examined His body twice a day said they had found signs and so the body should be put in the Samadhi. I objected strongly, since, though a layman, I knew that the most definite sign would be the smell and of that there was no evidence at all. But the Mother showed me how the Golden Light had faded from His face and that was the sign from Him that guided Her. So I had to accept. Even when, on the evening of the 9th, I lifted His body with my own hands to place it in the box, I was covered with the liquid that had come out and normally it would be a very foul-smelling liquid but in His case it was a liquid with a wonderful perfume which I carried on me for two days. Even His mattress, which was soaked with it, had this wonderful perfume in it for months. You can ask Mona [Udar’s wife and the Manager of Golconde] if she is here. The mattress was kept at Golconde.

I may here bring in St. Francis Xavier in connection with Sri Aurobindo. I have seen and touched the body of Francis Xavier that has been kept in Goa for several centuries. It was of flesh and bone and not a wax image. But it was of a bluish colour and the body seemed shrunken though all the features were clearly delineated. In Sri Aurobindo’s body I saw a similar bluish colour coming. That is why the Mother said the Golden Light had left His body. Also the giving out of so much liquid would naturally make the body shrink. From all this I conclude—and it is only my own private view, with which I have no concurrence from others—that His body is also intact in spite of all the doctors have said and is still today in the condition in which St. Francis Xavier’s is after about 400 years.

Question: Is it not a fact that Sri Aurobindo’s leaving His body was expected? You say He did not announce it.

Answer: Expected by whom? How then was everyone in such a state of shock? This I saw myself. It is not hearsay.

Question: How did you feel about the Mother’s leaving Her body?

Answer: For me it was a shock. I will admit that I had not expected it. Also, I was not at Her side as at Sri Aurobindo’s and so I did not see it coming. Thus it was a shock. But fortunately I had immediate work to do, to send telegrams to the President of India, the Prime Minister and others, and so I recovered quite quickly. I, with many, was told of Her leaving only at 3 a.m. on the morning of the 18th. Later the shock was gone and I even began to feel joy. Especially after the Mother’s body was laid in the Samadhi I felt a very great joy. I felt She was now free to do Her great work for the whole world, no longer tied to Her body.

Question: Did you feel relief or release?

Answer: Both. Relief to know that the Mother was no longer suffering but release because of the great joy of which I have spoken. That joy continues, not only with me but with so many others.

So now we have to take this force and this joy and make a real progress. We have a marvellous opportunity. That reminds me of Dr. Bisht. He was another doctor who had looked after the Mother but he was in Delhi. He came down flying to see the Mother, and attended to Her physically. Then the Mother said something about his pronouncing on the way Her inner being was working towards the transformation of Her outer body. Dr. Bisht said, “Mother, to be able to do that I must make a great progress.” “Then make a great progress,” the Mother said, “what is stopping you?”

So what is stopping us in the great opportunity that the Mother has placed before all of us? Let us take up the challenge and go forward—ever forward—in Her Light and Love and Strength.

Now, to end, I will recite, if you like, Sri Aurobindo’s poem “A God’s Labour”. I remember the Mother saying that when She first read this poem She went to Sri Aurobindo and said, “What have you done? You have exposed all my secrets to the whole world!” He smiled. Yes, this is Her poem, written by Sri Aurobindo about Her and for Her—so let us end on that—all right?

All: Yes, Yes.

*

Sri Aurobindo Ashram and the Mother’s Passing Away

Question: There is justification for the Ashram’s existence only if it continues to be, even after the Mother’s passing away, a centre or a laboratory for the Supramental descent, bringing about a Supramental change of human nature.

To achieve this object, Sri Aurobindo tells us, the Divine Mother’s Presence and Power are necessary. The Mother has left Her body. If Presence means physical presence, the Mother will have to come in a New Body.

Is there any other way?

Or is the Mother’s physical presence unnecessary because the Supermind manifested in 1956 and is working more and more powerfully?

Answer: The Mother’s physical presence on the earth was an indispensable condition for the descent of the Supramental and for its manifestation in the earth-consciousness. The Supramental manifestation on the earth took place in 1956 and has been working more and more powerfully. A careful study of “Notes on the Way” which have appeared in the issues of the Bulletin from 1965 to 1973, will show how the Supramental has been working and how it is fixed in the earth-consciousness. This ensures the continuance of the work for the Supramental change of human nature, and therefore the continuance of the Ashram as a centre or laboratory for the growth and fulfilment of this work.

If the Mother’s physical presence had been still indispensable for the continuance of this work, She would not have left Her body. Besides, Her leaving the body does not mean that She is not with us. Her Presence is actively there and is working dynamically behind the visible phenomenon.

The New Body will come as a certain climax of the working of the Supramental manifestation, and as a sign of the complete victory of Spirit over Matter.

Pradyut Kumar Bhattacharya

*

Pranab Kumar Bhattacharya’s Talk on the Last Days of the Mother

Dear Friends,

On 4 December 1973 Pranab Kumar Bhattacharya (the Mother’s attendant and Director of the Department of Physical Education of Sri Aurobindo Ashram, Pondicherry) had given a talk on the last days of the Mother’s life carefully describing the events which he personally observed and experienced and also answered some of the questions which were put to him by many individuals after the Mother left her physical sheath.

The text of the talk—which was given at the Ashram Playground—was published as a supplement to Mother India (the monthly review of culture published from Sri Aurobindo Ashram, Pondicherry) on December 5, 1973.

The said text has been published in the online forum of Overman Foundation on the occasion of the Mother’s forty-first Mahasamadhi anniversary.

With warm regards,
Anurag Banerjee
Founder,
Overman Foundation.

*

Dear Friends,

Being advised by my elders and with their blessings, as well as requested by my friends, brothers and sisters, I now present myself in front of you to say a few words about our Mother.

I must tell you from the beginning that what I shall relate will be what I have seen and felt personally. I am sure, another person in my place would have seen and felt in a different way and I do not wish to go into a controversy about it. I shall be faithful to my own feelings and observations.

After Mother left Her body on the 17th of November, I have met people in small groups and answered their questions. I have now an idea what pattern of questions people generally bring. I shall take up some of them and try to say all that I know.

The first thing people ask is: “Please tell us something about the last days of Mother.”

All of you know that at the beginning of April this year the Mother became unwell while She was giving blessings. We stopped it as well as the special interviews. She took to Her bed, She rested more and after a few days She became a little better. She wanted to see people again as usual, but immediately She understood that it was no longer possible. So She saw only a dozen people, who used to come to Her daily for work. She went on attending to it.

It continued like that for some time but, to be exact, on the 20th of May, at about 9:30 p.m. when I had just gone out from Her room to the terrace after Champaklalji had come in, I was suddenly called to see what had happened to the Mother. I found Her extremely restless, a bit dejected and, I must say, annoyed with Herself. At least that was what I saw, what I felt. She said she didn’t have any control over Her body. From then, She completely stopped seeing people and almost all the time remained in Her bed with Her eyes closed. In the beginning, She refused to take any food or drink, but somehow we persuaded Her to take them. It kept going on in this way.

According to the advice of Dr. Sanyal we were to give Her about 20 to 25 ozs. of food everyday. It consisted of a little vegetable soup, milk with some protein compound, a paste made of almonds, mushrooms, artichokes or things like that and some fruit juice at the end. She took them all right; and sometimes the quantity was just what the doctor had suggested, sometimes it was more, at other times less. All those who were in the courtyard below must have heard how we had to fight with Her to make Her eat a little. This continued for quite a long time. On the 10th of November, we noticed that a kind of hiccup had developed.

Actually, we had seen this kind of hiccup about eight or ten days before, but that had lasted for a short while. This time, I noticed this hiccup coming soon after Her lunch, I think it was at 12:30 p.m. or so, and in the evening when She started taking Her dinner it was still there. Then the doctor examined Her and found that Her blood-pressure was very low, Her heart extremely weak and there was a frequent missing of beats. In fact, the heart started failing from that time. That day and on the following two days She took very little food. On the night of the 13th, at about 10 o’clock, She told me to lift Her shoulders up from the bed. From 10th November onward She remained absolutely in bed. After the doctor had examined Her he said we should not bring Her out of the bed any more. On the 13th night, at about 10 o’clock, She asked me to just lift up Her shoulders so that She might be for a little while in a sitting position. I did so. Afterwards, She told us to lift Her legs also a little. I did that, too. Then She said Her whole body must be lifted up from the bed. With Champaklalji on one side and I on the other, we lifted Her. I noticed that She was finding it very comfortable. But we could not hold Her in that position for long. After a few seconds we lowered Her.

I must tell you that She had developed some bed-sores on Her back, on Her hips and on other parts of Her body. She was remaining constantly in one position, semi-reclined, leaning on the raised back of the bed. That habit She had formed probably from Her early youth or childhood. As She lay only in one position, we could not give relief to the parts concerned. And our lifting Her must have given Her some comfort. She asked that night, after every ten, fifteen or twenty minutes, to lift Her up. So the whole night, from 10 to 4 o’clock, every few minutes, Champaklalji and myself kept lifting Her up from the bed. At 4 o’clock She went to sleep.

That day, the l4th, She was more or less normal. She took some food and the day passed quite well. Then at night She started telling me again to raise Her shoulders, Her legs and later Her whole body. We did that several times. Then She said, “Make me walk.” We were very hesitant, but as She insisted, we lifted Her up from the bed. She could not walk, staggered a little, almost collapsed. Seeing this, we put Her back in bed. We saw that Her face had become absolutely white and the lips blue. Then we decided that whatever She said, we must not take Her out from the bed again to walk. She took about twenty minutes to recover; She started saying, “Lift me up again, I shall walk.” We refused. She asked us why we were refusing. We said, “Mother, you are in such a weak condition that it will do you harm.” Then She said, “No, lift me up.” We did not. She began to plead, sometimes shout. All this continued until fifteen minutes past one. At that time we thought we would give Her some sedative, so that She might rest quietly. Then we gave Her Siquil as the doctor had prescribed. It took Her about 45 minutes to become quiet and She slept from 2 to 4 o’clock, but after getting up She started saying, “Pranab, lift me up and make me walk. My legs are getting paralysed; if you help me to walk again, they will become all right.” But we did not listen. After the first frightening experience, we had to remain quiet. She went on entreating till about 6 o’clock when She fell asleep.

The 15th passed off quite well. She took more food than usual. At night again She began asking me to lift Her up. We lifted Her up, then She wanted us to help Her to walk, we refused to do that. We said, “Mother, you should not walk.” She immediately obeyed us. We had to lift Her up several times and the night passed smoothly.

That was on the 15th. From that day She became absolutely obedient. Whatever we told Her She did; She ate the food we gave and She did whatever we suggested. The l6th also passed nicely.

The 17th morning passed very well. Every morning we gave Her a laxative. She took it without any objection that day. Her breakfast She took very well, lunch also. Then when Kumud and Champaklalji had left after Her lunch, I was with Her; I noticed that She was making some strange sounds, and sometimes lifting Her hands, but as She used to do this often in Her sleep, I did not pay much attention. I left at 2 o’clock, for Champaklalji and Kumud came. I reported to them what I had seen. When I came back at 5 o’clock, Champaklalji told me that he had seen the same thing, but sometimes the Mother had been shouting a little louder. I was with Her from 5 to 6:30. At 6:30 Champaklalji and Kumud came. While I was leaving, the Mother called me and said, “Lift me up.” Again from two sides Champaklalji and I caught hold of Her hand and lifted Her up. Then we lowered Her on the bed and I left. At that time Kumud as usual asked Her if She would take a few spoons of glucose water. The Mother said, “Lift me up.” Kumud lifted Her shoulders up. The Mother wanted that Her whole body should be lifted. So that was done. After She had been lowered on the bed, André came in. A few minutes later Kumud noticed that there was some sound coming from Her throat and the head was moving in a certain way which she did not like. She consulted Champaklalji and then sent for Dr. Sanyal and for me.

I arrived at about five past seven and saw that Dr. Sanyal was already there examining Her. Dyumanbhai also had come. I went and felt the Mother’s pulse. It was still there, beating at long intervals. There was still some respiration. But slowly everything stopped. The doctor gave an external heart massage to Her. It had no effect. Then he declared that the Mother had left Her body. This was at 7:25 p.m. Then, being present and feeling my responsibility, I thought what I should do. At that time, there were present André, Champaklalji, Dr. Sanyal, Dyumanbhai, Kumud and myself. I talked with André and told him that I wanted to wait for some time and then take the Mother’s body down, place it in the Meditation Hall for people to see. We would keep the body in such a way that it was not disturbed, then we would decide what to do. André agreed to my proposal. He wanted to remain with us but as he was not well I suggested that he should go home and take rest and come back the next day. He left. We remained there and discussed what to do.

Now we thought that if people immediately came to know about the Mother’s passing there would be a big rush, and the crowd would all clamour to see Her. There would be noise and shouting and a tremendous confusion. So we thought of keeping the event secret for some time. Also Dr. Sanyal said that we must not disturb the body in any way for several hours. So the Mother was left as She was and after 11 o’clock, when the gate of the Ashram was closed, we cleaned Her body with Eau de Cologne, put a nice dress on Her, arranged everything and then Dyumanbhai and I went down and called Nolinida. Nolinida came up, saw everything, and asked what we were going to do. I mentioned my plans to him. He said the Mother had once told him that if it looked to us that She had left Her body we should not be in a hurry, but see that Her body was properly kept, and then wait. I said, “We are just about to do the same. We have cleaned Her, otherwise ants and insects would have come. We have put on Her a new dress and we shall carry Her quietly, carefully downstairs and lay Her in the Meditation Hall. After some time we shall call people.” He agreed to our proposal. We came down—Dyumanbhai, Bulada, Nirodda, Kumud and myself—and arranged the place, with the bed there as you saw. At about 2 o’clock we brought the Mother’s body down, placed Her on the bed, arranged everything. Then I went out, called Mona, told him to come and see me with four other boys, five of my lieutenants, so to say. When they came I explained to them what to do: to call the photographers first, then to call the trustees, then all those who were very close to Her. I told them also to organise volunteers to look after the work that was coming. They went out and did their work wonderfully well. Then, from 3 o’clock the people who had been called started coming. While we were upstairs, we prepared some kind of statement that would go to the Press and to All India Radio so that no wrong information might go out as it had happened some time back. Our draft of the statement we got corrected by Nirodda and gave it to Udar to circulate. At 4:15 in the morning we opened the gate of the Ashram for people to come in and have a last Darshan. You know everything that happened afterwards.

The next question people ask is: “Did the Mother give you any indication that She was going to leave Her body?”

To this I would say, “No.” She fought and tried up to the end. She had a tremendous will and She was a great fighter and She fought and tried to do what She had taken upon Herself. She suffered a lot, there was much suffering. Once, a few years back, when She was suffering terribly, She sometimes said that perhaps death would not be so painful, death would perhaps be better. But She never said that She would like to leave Her body. And the explanation for Her suffering, I can give like this: because She resisted, because She fought, She suffered. If She had yielded to what we call natural laws, that is, decay, disintegration and death, there would not have been so much suffering for Her. But that She did not want; She tried, She fought and She suffered and showed us how suffering could be taken.

Another question asked is: “Did the Mother say anything before leaving Her body?”

To this also I say, “She said nothing.” In fact, for the last six months that She was confined to bed, She spoke very little. Most of the time She remained with Her eyes closed. At regular intervals we raised Her up from the bed, gave Her food and drink, cleaned Her, put a new dress upon Her… Whatever She said was mostly about Her body—that She was feeling pain, She was feeling cold, She wanted water or we must place Her in such a way that She did not have pain but could be comfortable. This is all that She said. She never said anything about our work, about the Ashram or about anybody. One thing She repeated to me often quite some time back, and to some other persons also. She said that all the work She was doing on Her body could be spoilt in two ways—one, this force She was pulling down on Her could be so strong, so great, that the body would not be able to tolerate it and the body might fail. That was a possibility. The second thing was that if ever She went into a deep trance and it looked to us that She had left her body, then if by mistake we put Her in the Samadhi, that would absolutely spoil Her work. And She gave instructions that we should give the body necessary protection, we should watch, and only when we were absolutely sure that She had left Her body we should put Her in the Samadhi. I think we have done as She wanted.

About the first possibility that She mentioned, it is left to you to find out and draw your own conclusion. But it is quite certain that She did not want to leave Her body and She worked up to the end. After She had been seriously unwell since the 20th of May, when Dr. Bisht came for the first time to examine Her, She said that She was undergoing a process of transformation, something was happening to Her, she didn’t know what it was, She didn’t know what to do and She asked Dr. Bisht if he could help Her in any way. Naturally, Dr. Bisht, a scientific man, could not see the inner things, and he said, “Mother, to see and tell you what is happening, I must make a big .progress; then only I can give my answer to you.” The Mother immediately said, “Make a big progress!” So from that we can understand how eager She was to continue Her work of physical transformation.

The next question comes: “Have you seen on Her body any sign of physical transformation?”

Well, this is an inner process and with our human eyes it is not possible to see anything outwardly. Perhaps, a man with an extraordinarily high spiritual capacity could have seen; but for myself, I did not see anything. During all this time I appreciated how She was trying, and that invincible will of Hers I appreciated so much that I thought that unless one was doing one’s work effectively according to one’s plan one could not have this kind of will, this determination and strength.

Then I am asked: “What did you feel when the Mother left Her body?”

Actually, I was holding Her when She left Her body. It looked to me as if a candle was slowly extinguishing. She was very peaceful, extremely peaceful, and when Dr. Sanyal declared that She had left Her body, truly speaking I did not feel any want. Since that time I have felt that my heart is never empty and I feel no want. Another thing, what relieved me much, was that, having seen Her suffering so much, when the end came, to tell the truth, I was quite pleased and thought that at least the suffering had stopped. Her sufferings had to be seen to be believed. Those who were there have seen how She suffered. When that ended, at least for myself I felt that at last She had come out of this agony. And really, I, like many others, don’t feel that She has gone physically. After seeing the message signed by Nolinida, all of us know that She promised to him that if ever She left Her body She would not withdraw Her consciousness. This thing which came now, I think She had prepared me enough for it from quite a long time back. Long before, say, in the year 1948, when Sri Aurobindo was still living, She told me, “I am not willing to go, I will not go, and this time there will be no tragedy; but if it so happens that I leave my body, then put my body under the Service Tree.” At that time there was a kind of brick-made platform on which there were some fern trees. She said to lay Her body there. And when Sri Aurobindo had passed away, She ordered Udar to make two chambers in the Samadhi vault, one upon the other. Then several times She said how She was working, how She was finding resistance and how sometimes She was finding the work difficult; and lately, say, after 15th August 1972, I felt that perhaps what has happened was going to happen. I could not tell anybody and everybody, but to my close associates I said what I was feeling. Afterwards, I felt strongly that it was going to happen, I was counteracting this idea, saying that it should not happen. But behind everything the idea was there. So I was fully prepared from almost the beginning and as I told you that I did not feel any want inside me when She left Her body, so I did not feel any difference.

Then I have been asked: “What do you think were the causes that made Her leave Her body?”

It is a very delicate question, very difficult to answer also, but I would say that the physical laws still held tight and they could not be brought under control. That was on one side. One the other side, our insincerity, our unfaithfulness, our deceptions, our treachery. With all these we were throwing lots of mud upon Her and She had to fight on two fronts. On one side She had to fight the onset of decay and old age and on the other She was fighting against this dirt that we were constantly throwing upon Her. But more the failing body I hold responsible for what happened. Often I have seen that she was trying to counteract these forces but when She saw that She could not concentrate much, She could not talk much, She could not write much, She could not see people, She could not do as She wanted, because the body was failing, and the dirt and dust that we were throwing upon Her was increasing, increasing and increasing, I felt and I have seen also some kind of despair and I think these two things were fully responsible. If She had been in good health and if She had possessed a strong body I am sure She would have fought the other side out; but if the heart went wrong, if the kidneys went wrong, if there was trouble in the teeth and gums and other body-areas and if She was losing control over Her body-functionings, She couldn’t do much. So these two factors come to my mind when I am asked what were the causes that made Her leave Her body. But I still think She had not decided—nobody can convince me that She had decided and therefore She left. I think this happened because it could not be otherwise. I am absolutely sure that if She had not the conviction that She would bring the Supramental Transformation in Her present body, She would not have been able to do all the Great Work that She has done. This conviction has made it possible to establish this Truth firmly in the earth- consciousness. For the moment perhaps what has happened is just a postponement of the work that She was doing on Her own body.

Then I am asked: “Will she come back again in the same body?”

To this I say—my feeling is—“No.” If she is to come back, there was no necessity of leaving the body. And the body itself was worn out—all the organs worn out by age; and to come inside such a body and to cure all that and to bring back health and youth, I think—it is my feeling—that is not possible.

Then I am asked: “Will She come back in a new body amongst us?”

To this I must say, “Certainly.” Throughout the ages, from the beginning of creation, She has come several times, many, many times, to help us progress, to help us go forward, and I think and I am sure, and all of you will agree with me when I say this, that She will come again in the future to lead us further.

Then somebody has asked me: “Before, whenever we were in trouble, we wrote to Her and She helped us. Now what should we do?”

To this I must say what She used to tell us constantly. She was telling, “I am installed in all of your hearts. Just be quiet, try to hear what I say inside you and act according to the directions I give. But for that you must be very very sincere and you must allow only the right type of vibration in you.” I think there can be no other solution than this.

And the last question that I am often asked is: “Do you think we shall be able to go through on the path She has laid down for us?”

To this I must say: “Yes, if we have a strong aspiration, a strong will, and the maximum of sincerity. The Mother and Sri Aurobindo came to us and They have shown us our goal. They have brought down the necessary powers into this world so that this goal may be reached. They have given instructions, which if we follow, we are sure to go forward, and They have given all their support and blessings to us. So, being the Mother’s children, I don’t see why we should not be able to go through. Truly speaking, the Truth and the Power, the Truth that They have established upon earth and the Power They have brought down for the implementation of that Truth, are spread throughout the length and breadth of our country and the whole world, and I am sure that wherever there will be sufficient sincerity, sufficient aspiration, this Truth will work itself out, and this Truth will be realised. But staying in the Ashram, we are in a more privileged position. We have seen Them, we have heard Them, we were personally guided by Them and I am sure that it would be easier for us to walk on Their path here in the Ashram where They have created a suitable atmosphere. I think two things are absolutely necessary. We can already feel there are people who want to see us disintegrated, they would be very happy if we are all demolished. To them we can give a fitting answer if we remain strictly on the path of Truth. This will enable us to get the maximum protection from the Mother and Sri Aurobindo and there is no power on earth that can harm us in any way. The second thing that we must do is to remain strongly united, forgetting “I” and “Mine” and replacing them by “We” and “Ours”.

*

“The Future of India and the World”: An Interview with the Mother by Chamanlal

Dear Friends,

In February 1954, the Mother was interviewed by Mr. Chamanlal about the future of India and the World. The text of the said interview was published a month later in the March 1954 issue of Mother India, the monthly review of culture published from Sri Aurobindo Ashram, Pondicherry. However, in her talk at the Ashram Playground on 12 January 1955 the Mother contradicted a statement she had made earlier in the interview with Chamanlal. This prompted K.D. Sethna alias Amal Kiran to pen an article titled The Most Difficult Year and Chamanlal’s Interview which was later published in his book Our Light and Delight.

The texts of the Mother’s interview and Amal Kiran’s article have been uploaded in the online forum of Overman Foundation.

With warm regards,
Anurag Banerjee
Founder,
Overman Foundation.

*

mother“The Future of India and the World”:

An Interview with the Mother by Chamanlal

I. The year 1957 will be as significant for India as the years 1757 and 1857 in Indian History.

II. Complete dissolution of Pakistan.

III. Serious possibility of a Russo-American war over India.

These were the highlights of an interview which the Mother granted me at Pondicherry. The Mother who is well known for her divine powers and supernatural visions is positive that India has a great future and will play the role of World Teacher.

Q. “What do you think of India’s future?”

A. “The future of India is very clear. India is the Guru of the world. The future structure of the world depends on India. India is the living soul. India is incarnating the spiritual knowledge in the world. The Government of India ought to recognise this significance of India and plan their actions accordingly.”

Q. “Don’t you think India is facing a grave crisis in the near future and a Russo-American war is inevitable?”

A. “Yes, I feel there is a serious possibility of a Russo-American war and if the war does come in spite of our efforts to stop it, our spiritual work will be finished. Unfortunately the Americans are convinced that Pandit Nehru’s sympathies are with the communists and therefore America has resolved to befriend Pakistan in her own interest. As you know, Moscow is nearer to Peshawar.”

Q. “But don’t you think Pakistan is making a mistake in being used as a bomber-base and will thus invite trouble for herself?”

A. “When India was partitioned I asked Sri Aurobindo what he thought of the future of Pakistan. I asked him how long it will last. Without hesitation Sri Aurobindo said, ‘Ten years’.”

The Mother laid special emphasis on the words ‘without hesitation’. She is sure of Sri Aurobindo’s prophecy. She went on, “The year 1957 will be a very important year in Indian history, like 1757 and 1857. It will see the end of Pakistan and there are serious possibilities of a Russo-American war over India. Many politicians expected war in March 1950 and they came to Sri Aurobindo and told him about it. But Sri Aurobindo did not believe. Once when I asked him he definitely said, ‘The crisis will only come in 1957’.” The Mother was certain that something would happen in 1957.

Q. “What do you think of the threatened war between Russia and America?”

A. “If there is a war it will be over India and it will be a very critical time for India. I want to avoid that war. India must be saved for the good of the world since India alone can lead the world to peace and a new world order.”

Q. “How will the dissolution of Pakistan come about if there is no war?”

A. “It may be by inner dislocation.”

Here the Mother added, “Occult forces must not speak about how the things will happen”. The Mother told me at length how she saw visions of the first Chinese revolution, the first Great War, the second World War and the Korean war as well as the freedom of India. She told Sri Aurobindo about the freedom of India as far back as 1914. She also told Sri Aurobindo, three months ahead, of the war in Korea.

Q. “How do you think we should prepare India to withstand the coming crisis?”

A. “You believe in divine power,—divine power alone can help India. If you can build faith and cohesion in the country it is much more powerful than any man-made power.”

(It is not a mere coincidence that Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru has been recently laying stress on cohesion and internal unity).

Q. “How to bring about the much needed cohesion and faith in the country?”

A. “By following Sri Aurobindo’s teachings. His Independence Day Message issued on August 15th, 1947, needs to be read and re-read and its significance explained to millions of his compatriots. India needs the conviction and faith of Sri Aurobindo.”

The Mother was much perturbed over the serious possibilities of a war. She repeatedly said, “It must not come.” And she added that only by goodwill and understanding the world could be saved.

Q. “Is there any danger to India this year?”

The Mother emphatically replied, “I don’t see it.”

I said, “Does that mean the cold war will continue?”

A. “Something like that.”

She added that there was nothing to be vexed about and India’s future was decidedly very clear.

She concluded, “According to a very old tradition, if twelve honest persons unite to incarnate the divine Will, they can compel the Divine to manifest.”

Q. “But Mother, you have nearly a thousand souls in the Ashram.”

A. “Yes, as children.”

The Mother added, “There must be a group forming a strong body of cohesive will with the spiritual knowledge to save India and the world. It is India that can bring truth in the world. By manifestation of the divine Will and Power alone India can preach her message to the world and not by imitating the materialism of the West. By following the divine Will India shall shine at the top of the spiritual mountain and show the way of truth and organise world unity.”

*

ADDENDUM

Excerpts from K. D. Sethna alias Amal Kiran’s article The Most Difficult Year and Chamanlal’s Interview published in Our Light and Delight, pp. 115—119.

“Chamanlal reported, among other things, the Mother as saying that 1957 would be a very significant year. India would start playing a glorious spiritual role in the world — and two features of great importance would be: (1) the complete dissolution of Pakistan by inner dislocation, (2) the serious possibility of a World War owing to America and Russia falling out over India. The Mother, according to Chamanlal, quoted Sri Aurobindo as having predicted these features.

When she had concluded her talk on 12 January 1955, a few questions were put to her by one of the brightest students of our Education Centre: Manoj Dasgupta. He asked: “You have said that in 1955 the hostile forces will try to give a tremendous blow. If we prove incapable of getting the victory, will the transformation at which our Yoga aims be considerably retarded?” The Mother replied with a grave face: “It will be retarded for many centuries. It is just this retardation that the hostile forces are attempting to bring about. And in spiritual matters up to the present they have always succeeded in their delaying tactics. Always the result has been: ‘It will be done some other time.’ And the other time may be hundreds of years later or even thousands of years. Now again the same trick is being tried.” Then Manoj obviously remembered Chamanlal’s report of the Mother’s statement: “Yes, I feel there is a serious possibility of a Russo-American war and if the war does come in spite of our efforts to stop it, our spiritual work will be finished.” Prompted by his remembrance, Manoj asked: “Will the crisis of a possible World War which, in Chamanlal’s interview with you, you have put in 1957 arrive in 1955 ahead of time or is it something quite other than the attack of the hostiles in the coming year?”

Hearing that she was said to have envisaged a World War in 1957, the Mother asserted twice in a firm loud tone: “Jamais de ma vie!” (“Never in my life!”). Everybody was amazed. Chamanlal’s whole report had been declared by the Mother at the time as authentic. I recall Nolini bringing her written confirmation authorising Chamanlal to broadcast the interview in any way he liked. Here was a stunning contradiction: how were we to reconcile that thorough approval with this downright refusal to accept responsibility for one of the momentous items?

After the Playground sessions I walked to the Ashram in the company of Nolini and Amrita. I reminded them of what the Mother had clearly pronounced to be genuine reportage. Amrita’s memory seemed very vague. When I turned to Nolini who had transmitted to us her pronouncement, he also appeared unable to recollect. “Was it like that?” he asked. “Most certainly,” I answered. There was no further conversation. But the next morning I took to Nolini a copy of Chamanlal’s interview and made him read the passage in question. There was no ambiguity now. So I requested him to bring the matter to the Mother’s notice and ask for a clarification.

When he had seen the Mother as he daily did, I inquired if the issue had been raised. He said: “No.” Evidently he did not wish to face the Mother with the glaring contradiction. I told Amrita that Nolini had not carried out the work I had proposed to him. Amrita remarked: “How can he dare to ask her anything after she had so forcibly said ‘Jamais!’ twice?”

What then was to be done? I used to be at times a little “pushy” with the Mother and she accepted this trait in me on several occasions while putting it down in no dubious manner on some others because of a wrong attitude on my side. I decided to write a frank letter, but with the right attitude so that the situation would be fully presented to her and yet no directly critical accent smacking of any uppishness would come into my words. My letter ran:

“I have adopted as a motto the words spoken by André once when, as a boy, he found your in-laws doubting you in something or other: ‘Ma mére est la vérité!’ [“My mother is truth!”] I, therefore, do not doubt at all that you never gave Chamanlal the year 1957 as the year of the crisis. But then how did the interview-report in which 1957 appears in such a role get authorised by you? Here is a passage in which not only you but also Sri Aurobindo is committed by words attributed to you:

‘The Year 1957 will be a very important year in Indian history, like 1757 and 1857. It will see the end of Pakistan and there are serious possibilities of a Russo-American war over India. Many politicians expected war in March 1950 and they came to Sri Aurobindo and told him about it. But Sri Aurobindo did not believe. Once when I asked him he definitely said: ‘The crisis will only come in 1957.’

“How did you authorise this? The interview-report has gone far and wide, even to the State Department at Washington, as perfectly authentic. So perhaps it may be necessary to correct it?

“One explanation given for your passing as genuine the above statement is that occasionally you are in a tranced or absorbed condition when things are read to you and so you miss certain portions while believing that you have heard everything.

“As there is no rival explanation, we may say, as the scientists do, that this hypothesis holds the field — provided, of course, you, who are being hypothetised about, agree to it.”

I took my letter to Nolini and told him: “I don’t want you to get into any embarrassing position, but if you take a letter from me and simply read it out at my request, whatever unpleasantness may come about will be directed at me. Will you kindly do this job on my behalf? It surely does need doing.” He consented and the deed was, as Christopher Smart would have phrased it, “determined, dared, and done”.

Nolini brought no verbal or written reply. I thought the Mother might require some time to frame an answer and I might have to wait for a day or two. But actually she answered me the same evening at the playground. When my turn came to receive the usual quota of groundnuts from her hands, she held my fingers, looked up from her seated position and said with a smile: “The fellow has made a big confusion. Several things have been mixed up. But, since it has been said in that way, it may even come true, though we shall try to stop it.”

Actually, in 1957, the U.S.A. and Communist China, which at that time was none else than Russia under a mask, came within an ace of armed conflict because of a bold yet necessary action by the former over the island of Quemoy between mainland China and Taiwan which was in the hand of Chiang Kaishek. The crisis was averted. India did not come into the picture at all.

As for Chamanlal’s “big confusion” which escaped scrutiny when it was formulated, we may clear it with the help of some hints by the Mother. Her real stance may be summed up as follows. We may take her as saying:

“I did not speak of any crisis as coming in 1957. In Chamanlal’s account several points that were separate have been run together. A three-stepped series of possibilities has got jumbled and the different steps fused. There is first the crisis coming before 1957: that is to say, in 1955, as I have told you. Then there is the clearing of the crisis: the victory. As a result of the victory, there is the beginning of a new period in 1957: that year marks the completion of what has gone and it ushers in a time in which India will have the splendid opportunity of being the Guru of the world. It is because of the decisive commencement of this glorious future in 1957 that 1957 is as important in India’s history as in their own ways 1757, the year of the Battle of Plassey which brought India into British hands, and 1857, the date of the so-called Indian Mutiny against British domination. Now you have the correct sequence of the possibilities in front of you.

“A World War such as I have spoken of in the interview is not ruled out: its threat is part of the anticipated difficulties in 1955. This threat has not been put in 1957 by either Sri Aurobindo or myself. That wrong impression should be dispelled from the mind, no matter how things have been expressed in Chamanlal’s report.”

In fact, it is impossible for the Mother to have alluded to a global conflict in 1957, for she was expecting a great spiritual event in 1956 — the event which proved to be the manifestation of the Supermind’s light, force and consciousness in the subtle-physical layer of the earth. In the wake of such a tremendous outburst of the Divine the possibility of a World War would be extremely meagre, if not even nil.”

*

Chitra Bose to receive the inaugural “Bulbul Mukherjee Smriti Puraskar”

Chitra Bose

Dear Friends and Well-wishers of Overman Foundation,

To recognize the invaluable contribution of individuals, especially women—the Shakti behind one and all—for their outstanding contribution in the fields of literature, art, education and music, Overman Foundation has started a new award—the “Bulbul Mukherjee Smriti Puraskar”—named after the late Bulbul Mukherjee (4.10.1934—15.8.1990). I take the opportunity to inform you that the inaugural “Bulbul Mukherjee Smriti Puraskar” would be awarded to Mrs. Chitra Bose, Managing Trustee of Sri Aurobindo Sakti Centre Trust and Principal of Sri Aurobindo Bal Mandir (New Alipore, Kolkata) for her contribution in the field of education.

Hailing from the illustrious zamindar family of Basirhat (now in North 24 Parganas), Chitra Bose was born on 17th March 1933 to Harendra Nath Majumdar and Santi Majumdar. Harendra Nath Majumdar, a nephew of Swami Brahmananda (a direct disciple of Sri Ramakrishna and the first President of Ramakrishna Mission), was a noted Congressman and active participant in the struggle for India’s independence. He was in the company of Mahatma Gandhi during his stay at Haidari Bhavan at Beliaghata. Later, Harendra Nath Majumdar became a minister in the cabinet of Dr. Prafulla Ghosh (the former Chief Minister of West Bengal) in the late 1960s. A devotee of the Mother, he was also the erstwhile Chairman of Sri Aurobindo Society West Bengal.

From her childhood days Chitra Bose came in touch with personalities like Dr. Bidhan Chandra Roy, Dr. Prafulla Ghosh, Sri Atulya Ghosh and other eminent persons. She did her schooling from Brahmo Girls School and later graduated from Presidency College, Kolkata. Eminent scholars like Prof. Amartya Sen and Prof. Sukhomay Chakravarty were her batchmates. She met the Mother at Sri Aurobindo Ashram, Pondicherry, where she used to visit with her father. She married K.C. Bose, the later Additional General Manager of Eastern Railway in the Indian Railway Service. After the Sakti Centre was established in New Alipore in 1972, a kindergarten school was established there by her, christened Sri Aurobindo Bal Mandir with only 5 students and mattresses to sit upon owing to lack of basic furniture in the then dilapidated building. Under her stewardship, Sri Aurobindo Bal Mandir grew up to be one of the eminent pre-primary schools of south Kolkata based on the ideas and ideals of Sri Aurobindo and the Mother, providing quality education with a present strength of 350 students in Nursery and Kindergarten sections. She is the mentor and guiding force of the school.

The award ceremony would be held on Monday, 10 November 2014 at 6.30 p.m. at the premises of Sri Aurobindo Bal Mandir (532, Block “M”, New Alipore, Kolkata 700053). Mr. Subroto Sen, the Secretary of Sri Aurobindo’s Action West Bengal Trust, would grace the occasion as the Chief Guest. Prabrajika Divyaprana, Secretary of Saradashram (New Alipore Branch) would also grace the ceremony as a Special Guest.

We invite everyone to participate in the award ceremony.

With warm regards,
Anurag Banerjee
Founder,
Overman Foundation.

*

Shobha Mitra to receive the “Auro-Ratna Award” for 2014.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Dear Friends and Well-wishers of Overman Foundation,

Since its inception in March 2010 Overman Foundation has aimed to recognize the invaluable contribution of scholars, writers, researchers and workers of the Aurobindonian movement in various fields. For this purpose, the “Auro-Ratna Award” was initiated to felicitate the ‘true children’ of the Divine, who, as defined by the Mother, are those few who have consecrated all of themselves and all they have — soul, life, work and wealth. In 2010, the recipients of the first “Auro-Ratna Award” were K. D. Sethna alias Amal Kiran, Prof. Arabinda Basu and Jugal Kishore Mukherjee; in 2011 the award was given to Robi Gupta, Dr. Kireet Joshi and Dr. Prithwindra Mukherjee; in 2012 the award was given to Dr. Prema Nandakumar and Shraddhavan of Auroville while in 2013 Dr. Ananda Reddy was the recipient of the award.

Today, on behalf of Overman Foundation, I take the opportunity to announce that the “Auro-Ratna Award” for the year 2014 would be awarded to Shobha Mitra of Sri Aurobindo Ashram, Pondicherry.

Born on 14 December 1933 to Amarendranath and Ashalata Mitra, Shobha Mitra visited Sri Aurobindo Ashram for the first time in August 1942. At the age of seventeen, on Wednesday 15 June 1951 she joined Sri Aurobindo Ashram with her mother. The Mother had arranged for their accommodation at Red House which was located near the Ashram Library. She was given work in the Publication Department under Prithwi Singh Nahar. A year later she was made a permanent inmate of Sri Aurobindo Ashram. She joined the Ashram School when its new session began in December 1952. Following the instruction of the Mother, she opted to study English, French, Philosophy and the works of Sri Aurobindo. She also began to learn music from Dilip Kumar Roy and Sahana Devi. From 1957 she started teaching French in the Ashram School. She was an accomplished dancer and had given several dance-recitals before the Mother. She had also given dance-form to Sri Aurobindo’s The Hour of God in 1964. She also composed the dance-drama The Rhythm Eternal which was staged thrice in May 1967. She has also played a pivotal role in organizing musical programmes of artists like Birendra Kishore Ray Choudhury, Tara Ghoshal, Jyotsna Bole, Chandralekha and Pankaj Kumar Mullick to name a few who visited the Ashram. On 14 December 1965—on Shobha’s birthday—the Mother asked her to start a Music Section in Sri Aurobindo International Centre of Education which she built up from scratch. Inspired by the Mother, she also began to compose music. In 1972, on the occasion of Sri Aurobindo’s Birth Centenary, she conceptualized a special programme titled Sri Aurobindo and the Mother on India and Her Future. In that very year, a long-playing record of her musical compositions titled Loving Homage was brought out by Sri Aurobindo Society. For quite some time she had conducted singing classes in Auroville. Her memorable compositions include titles like Adoration, All We Owe to Thee, Aspiration, Century’s Salutations, Durga Stotra, Esho Gahi Gaan, Invocation to Mother India, Laha Pronam, Our Gratitude, Om Namo Bhagawate, Salutations, Towards a Luminous Future, Vandanam and Vers un avenir lumineux (the last being a musical presentation on the occasion of the unveiling of Sri Aurobindo’s statue at UNESCO, Paris, on 16 September 2009) to name a few.

In 2012 Shobha Mitra’s first book in Bengali Sri Mayer Dibya Sannidhye was published. The English translation of the aforesaid book, Living in the Presence, was published in 2013. In that very year she received the prestigious “Sri Aurobindo Puraskar” from Sri Aurobindo Bhavan, Kolkata.

Shobha Mitra’s world revolves around two names: Sri Aurobindo and the Mother. Some time ago she has started working on a project called “MA”, that is, “Musical Archives” which would house songs composed on Sri Aurobindo and the Mother in various regional and foreign languages.

It will be our privilege to felicitate Shobha Mitra whom the late M.P. Pandit had called “a worthy child of the Mother” with the “Auro-Ratna Award”, named after Sri Aurobindo, for her contribution in the field of music.

With warm regards,
Anurag Banerjee,
Founder and Chairman,
Overman Foundation.

*

Publication of “The Descent of the Blue” by Sri Chinmoy

cover of descent of the blueDear Friends and Well-wishers of Overman Foundation,

I am happy to announce that Overman Foundation has published the new edition of Sri Chinmoy’s The Descent of the Blue, a drama in thirteen acts based on Sri Aurobindo’s life.

Born as Chinmoy Kumar Ghose, Sri Chinmoy (1931—2007) moved to Sri Aurobindo Ashram at Pondicherry in 1944 where he spent twenty years of his life. Having worked as the secretary to Nolini Kanta Gupta, the General-Secretary of the Ashram, Sri Chinmoy went to New York in 1964 to be of service to aspiring seekers in the West. Initially he worked at the Indian Consulate. He also began to offer lectures on spiritual themes and soon he was able to devote himself full-time to spiritual activities. From 1970, following the invitation of the third U.N. Secretary-General U. Thant, he began offering peace meditations for delegates and staff at the U.N. Headquarters. In 1993 he opened the Parliament of the World’s Religions in Chicago with a formal silent meditation. His Excellency, Siddhartha Shankar Ray, who was India’s Ambassador to the United States of America at the time, said of Sri Chinmoy: “He is an embodiment of Rabindranath Tagore’s immortal concept of the universal man.”

Dr. Vidagdha Bennett writes about The Descent of the Blue:

‘Who can write a biography of the Infinite? The story of Sri Aurobindo’s life has been faithfully told by a number of spiritual luminaries, each in their own way. In 1958, a young Ashramite began to dramatise the panorama of the Master’s life. His name was Chinmoy Kumar Ghose and he was just twenty-six years old.

‘He based some of the scenes on conversations recorded by actual witnesses and some on Sri Aurobindo’s own speeches and reflections. There are also scenes that he drew from his own imaginative recreation of significant inner and outer events in Sri Aurobindo’s life. Chinmoy called his play The Descent of the Blue. It runs to thirteen Acts and concludes with Sri Aurobindo’s passing and the Mother’s immortal message to the disciples.

‘Many years later, Chinmoy explained the significance of the play’s title: “As you know, blue signifies infinite vastness, consciousness infinite. Here, the descent of the blue means Sri Aurobindo. I wrote this book as my most humble offering to Sri Aurobindo and the Mother.”

‘Having completed his manuscript, Chinmoy submitted it to the Mother. The entire play was read aloud to her by Champaklal-ji, who said that the Mother enjoyed hearing it. Subsequently, with the Mother’s permission, the play was published serially in the Mother India, the Sri Aurobindo Ashram Monthly Review of Culture, between 1958 and 1962. The editor, K.D. Sethna, wrote in a review of Chinmoy’s writing, “Chinmoy succeeds time and again in transmuting his facts into revealing truths with the help of an alert imagination.”

‘In 1972, to honour Sri Aurobindo’s Birth Centenary, the play was published in New York. This present edition is the first time the entire play has been published in one volume in India.

The Descent of the Blue is a transparent glimpse into the vast consciousness that lies behind the momentous events of Sri Aurobindo’s life. It is alive with the resonance of the Master’s own utterances, with the blessingful presence of the Mother and the intense devotion of the early sadhaks.’

Comprising 140 pages, The Descent of the Blue is available at a price of Rs. 220 (Two Hundred and Twenty) only.

To place an order, please write to: overmanfoundation@gmail.com or call at: (0) 98302 44192. Payment can be made online as well as through money-orders, cheques and demand-drafts.

With warm regards,
Anurag Banerjee
Founder,
Overman Foundation.

*

Sri Aurobindo As We Saw Him”: A Review by Surendra Singh Chouhan

sri-aurobindo-as-we-saw-him-coverTitle: Sri Aurobindo As We Saw Him. Author: Anurag Banerjee. Publisher: Overman Foundation, Kolkata. Number of pages: 242. Price: Rs. 325.

“He drew the energies that transmute an age”—

Savitri, Book I, Canto III, p. 45

This is, indeed, another priceless gift to the readers from Anurag Banerjee, a timely and thoughtful presentation in the form of interviews of all the fortunate ones who had the lifetime of a privilege to have Darshan of Sri Aurobindo. There is very interesting and profound epistemological proposition which states “What do I see and how do I see”. This is all about the mystery of “Perception”, a subtle process by which the perceived object is cognized at first and then in a millionth of a second internally recognized instantly so to speak.

Now when the disciples stood before Sri Aurobindo in the adorable silence, the perception of the mighty Supramental Godhead, apart from their devotional fervour, was exactly according to the spiritual poise and status of each individual’s consciousness, according to the degree of their Shraddha. The Divinity manifests Itself according to one’s receptivity and faith. It was no ordinary darshan. When you stand before effulgent Glory like the pristine splendour of the Himalayas, one is simply swept off one’s feet and dazzled. However, the disciples recorded that their feeling on seeing Sri Aurobindo was simply ineffable, beyond human language to describe. This is how it should have been just as Arjuna was overawed after seeing the awesome “Vishwaroop”.

Our galaxy of disciples also responded with awe and serenity and was touched to the core of their heart. The gushing forth of their feelings to the crisp and pointed queries by the editor brought out diverse responses. Each response was like a fragrant flower and the editor had to simply strewn together all the flowering devotional raptures in the form of a very beautiful dignified volume for us to have Darshan as well as through the grateful memoirs of the children of Sri Aurobindo and Sweet Mother. Each darshanarthi offered narration in a warm and intimate manner.

When Gurudev Rabindranath had a meeting with Sri Aurobindo in the sactum sanctorum, Gurudev exclaimed with amazement seeing the Golden Purusha—the glowing divine body of Sri Aurobindo—“where is my young Aurobindo”, recalling the first meeting in the first decade of 19th century in Kolkata. This was another record of Seeing, so, in a profounder level all the dialogues and interactions of the disciples with our ever-alert editor is a record of Seeing at different levels of each being’s consciousness. The response of Sri Aurobindo was also equally compassionate according to the inner preparedness of the seekers.

Words are too poor and inadequate to further add anything on these astonishing sacred and memorable expressions, enthralling exclamations, certitudes and feeling of gratitude bordering on instant Katharsis. And, finally, to rounding off, if ever yours truly had the rarest of Grace to have Darshan of Sri Aurobindo, he would have simply remained speechless and numb with infinite Gratitude that in this very life he had seen the Lord in the Supramental form. Oh! What a treasured and liberating privilege to us the mortal beings it has been.

Thank you, Anurag, for offering us this wonderful compilation. And what about a sequel to this book, The Divine Mother As We Saw Her?

Surendra Singh Chouhan

*

About the Reviewer: Surendra Singh Chouhan is an ex-student of Sri Aurobindo International Centre of Education (SAICE); after finishing his Higher Course he taught for a year in SAICE. He is an international educator and a frequent visiting trainer and faculty in the world of academia who had taught Philosophy to the Chinese students in Shanghai under the auspices of Shanghai Normal University. Presently he is hired by a multinational Chinese company to oversee its corporate interests in Sri Lanka, Nepal and India.

*

“Sri Aurobindo As We Saw Him”: A Review by Dr. Alok Pandey

sri-aurobindo-as-we-saw-him-coverTitle: Sri Aurobindo As We Saw Him. Author: Anurag Banerjee. Publisher: Overman Foundation, Kolkata. Number of pages: 242. Price: Rs. 325.

When Arjuna asked Sri Krishna as to the signs with which one could recognize a man in a state of Samadhi, Sri Krishna replied in no uncertain terms that the marks of such a man are within and they cannot be recognized by any mere external signs:

The sign of the man in Samadhi is not that he loses consciousness of objects and surroundings and of his mental and physical self and cannot be recalled to it even by burning or torture of the body,—the ordinary idea of the matter; trance is a particular intensity, not the essential sign. The test is the expulsion of all desires, their inability to get at the mind, and it is the inner state from which this freedom arises, the delight of the soul gathered within itself with the mind equal and still and high poised above the attractions and repulsions, the alternations of sunshine and storm and stress of the external life. It is drawn inward even when acting outwardly; it is concentrated in self even when gazing out upon things; it is directed wholly to the Divine even when to the outward vision of others busy and preoccupied with the affairs of the world. Arjuna, voicing the average human mind, asks for some outward, physical, practically discernible sign of this great Samadhi; how does such a man speak, how sit, how walk? No such signs can be given, nor does the Teacher attempt to supply them; for the only possible test of its possession is inward and that there are plenty of hostile psychological forces to apply. Equality is the great stamp of the liberated soul and of that equality even the most discernible signs are still subjective. “A man with mind untroubled by sorrows, who has done with desire for pleasures, from whom liking and wrath and fear have passed away, such is the sage whose understanding has become founded in stability.” He is “without the triple action of the qualities of Prakriti, without the dualities, ever based in his true being, without getting or having, possessed of his self.” For what gettings and havings has the free soul? Once we are possessed of the Self, we are in possession of all things.’ Sri Aurobindo: Essays on the Gita. Page 102

Still, the question has its validity. First, because man’s physical mind seeks to get some glimpse of the Divine through his very outer being and senses so that these too can share something of the Bliss that has made the world and our body and senses too thrill to the Touch that redeems and saves. Secondly, and perhaps in response to this requirement, we have in the India the interesting tradition of Darshan. Of course the full value of Darshan is derived only when we are able to combine the outer seeing with the inner one, when not only our outer eyes but also our inner seeing, nay, our entire being, heart, mind, will, soul engage in the beauty and bliss of the vision Wonderful. Sri Aurobindo reveals the truth behind Darshan thus:

Physical means [like Darshan and touch in the Pranam] can be and are used in the approach to divine love and worship; they have not been allowed merely as a concession to human weakness, nor is it the fact that in the psychic way there is no place for such things. On the contrary, they are one means of approaching the Divine and receiving the Light and materialising the psychic contact, and so long as it is done in the right spirit and they are used for the true purpose they have their place. It is only if they are misused or the approach is not right because tainted by indifference and inertia, or revolt or hostility, or some gross desire, that they are out of place and can have a contrary effect — as the Mother has always warned people and has assigned it as the reason why she does not like lightly to open them to everyone.

*

No one should look upon the Pranam either as a formal routine or an obligatory ceremony or think himself under any compulsion to come there. The object of the Pranam is not that Sadhaks should offer a formal or ritual daily homage to the Mother, but that the Sadhaks may receive along with the Mother’s blessings whatever spiritual help or influence they are in a condition to receive or assimilate. It is important to maintain a quiet and collected atmosphere for that purpose.

24-7-1933

*

SABCL: Letters on the Mother: Page – 286-287

Seen against this background, two things stand out. First, which is the eternal truth of the Gita, that it is not possible to know a person’s spiritual attainments and the degree of Divine disclosure in him by looking for some external signs. But on the other hand we have this equally important complimentary truth that the Divine’s physical embodiment and His earthly play is a great help to humanity, a chance for our external material existence to be touched and transformed by the Glory and Bliss that resides in the deepest depths of creation. A glimpse of the embodied Divine is enough to make us cover the journey of many births and to put His definitive seal and stamp upon our life. Whatever may happen after that we are bound to get back to Him, led by Him towards Himself through all the twists and turns of Fate. His Glance is His signature upon our souls that we belong to Him alone. Herein lies the immense value of physical contact with the embodied Divine.

But what about those who were not so fortunate? How can their thirst be satisfied, their senses and heart appeased, even if for a while. Indeed the fullest fulfillment can only come when one has the grand vision of That Glory in the inner chambers of one’s soul, Param Drastva, as the Gita puts it. But one needs some water on the way, some food for the soul, some glimpse however indirect to nourish and support the adventurer soul in its long journey full of steep ascents. Books such as these fill that gap and provide the much essential nutrition for the soul in its journey out of darkness towards the Light.

Further Indian thought recognizes two types of spiritual literature. One kind deals with the path and the processes. It is more impersonal and has a universal appeal. But in the process it becomes dry and appeals only to a certain portion of our being. Further it turns a living movement into an artificial and mechanical technique which is very far from the truth of things. Patanjali’s yoga sutras come into this category, a specialized codified process, marking each step of the journey but in the bargain losing the charm and grace of the unexpected that often walks close by with the sadhaka. The second type deals with the life and works, adventures and exploits, the joy of the Divine Being and His earthly lila. Mere reading of such a spiritual literature is uplifting. It lends wings to the soul, opens the shortest possible route to the Divine Contact through the secret heart, aligns our thoughts and will with the central aspiration, provides the much needed food for our spiritual parts. The Bhagavata, and the Ramayan belong to this class of literature. Some of course like the Gita combine the two approaches in a sublime synthesis. The book under review, Sri Aurobindo As We Saw Him, belongs primarily to this latter class of spiritual literature. However in the process it still provides us some glimpse of the path and the process. But even if it did not, its value will be immense and its gift priceless since mere reading of this book can uplift and illumine us and provide us with a glimpse of the embodied divinity, however indirect and mist-laden it may be because of a second person narrative.

Of course there is no dearth of accounts, even detailed accounts of the Darshan of Sri Aurobindo and the Mother and reminiscences and anecdotes of Their life. These are mostly accounts of first generation disciples who came in contact with Sri Aurobindo and the Mother in the first quarter of the previous century. Anurag’s book covers mostly the second generation disciples who came with their parents or else on their own but during the second half of the previous century. Some of these disciples came as children and grew up under the luminous wings of their Light and Love. In the consciousness of these disciples the human and the divine parents fused into one making a beautiful relation that was at once intimate as it was awesome. It is hard to say who was more fortunate, – the early disciples who came seeking for Yoga and saw in Sri Aurobindo and the Mother as the supreme Guide and Master, or those who came simply because some secret breath of Grace that took them as Their children.

Let us see some of these interesting narratives brought out through the process of question and answers. We have some beautiful accounts of intense and deep soul moments and soul engagements with the embodied Divine during the special Darshan days:

Kusum Nagda recounts:

“How different was Sri Aurobindo’s gaze from the Mother’s?

His gaze was as if He was looking far, far into the infinite. He would look at you and at the same time He would probably go through you. Mother’s gaze was of love and full of smile.”

Dhanavanti Nagda adds intensity and depth to this in her account:

Can you describe Sri Aurobindo’s gaze?

You know, Sri Aurobindo has a poem, The Blue Bird, where He says: “I measure the worlds with my ruby eyes”. I think He measured us always with those “ruby eyes”, loving, compassionate eyes. His compassion was such that it transformed your little self. I told you when I stood in front of Them I felt myself transformed. He looked at you in such a way as if to tell you: “We are the same.” Something that He told us always; what they have done—we all can do—something like that, I think, He used to tell Nirod-da often, again and again. Nirod-da would argue “Oh! You are an Avatar, you can always do whatever you want to, but we can’t.” Sri Aurobindo assured, “What I can do you too can.” Invariably He gave us this certitude, a promise. How far are we going to do it is our individual reach. I can’t judge anyone and I won’t judge anybody. I can see only for myself, how far I’ve gone and how far I still have to. So that was the gaze—the gaze that told you and poured into your eyes all the strength and the perseverance you will be needing to become something more than man. But then when you stood in front of Them you did feel transformed and for those few moments you were. It is now for us to find and feel Them the way we did then and it is our sacred task to make of those moments become the whole life. May we take the resolve in all sincerity. THEY ARE THERE, seated on the sofa of our heart. Pranams.”

Such is Their Compassion and Love which extended not only to humans but also to crows and cats and the animal, vegetal and the plant world. Suprabha Nahar recalls:

“We were always on the lookout for a glimpse of the Mother. Wherever and whenever She could be seen, we would be there to fill our eyes and hearts. Our days started with the Balcony Darshan of the Mother early in the morning. During those morning Darshans there reigned a complete hush with eager expectancy for the appearance of the Mother at the Balcony. After the Darshan was over and the Mother withdrew, every one dispersed, mostly to go to the Dining Room for breakfast and then each one to his place of work.

Later in the morning the Mother would take a stroll on the terrace. But before going to the terrace She would open a window of the room through which She passed and to have a glimpse of Her we waited below. Choosing an umbrella, kept near the window, matching the colour of Her dress, She would go to the terrace over Dyuman-bhai’s room. While going to the terrace, She would open another window and take a biscuit kept beside it. A crow, called ‘Blackie’ (he was black all over) would come on the parapet, take the biscuit from the Mother’s hand and fly away. Then the Mother would go to the terrace and we children gathered below would move from place to place in the courtyard in order to be able to see Her for the maximum length of time. When the elders gathered to have ‘Window Darshan’, they would greet each other with: “Victoire à la Douce Mère” and the response was: “Au Divin Victoire.”

We also have interesting accounts and anecdotes some of which would be quite new and revelatory to many, like an unexpected encounter or visitation from some great god:

Prof. Arabinda Basu recounts such a story:

“There lived an astrologer in our neighbourhood. He worked in the Railways and was a perfect gentleman and a good human being. He used to practise astrology in a scientific way. He had a passion to prepare horoscopes of saints and study them though it was not his business. On my aunt’s request I went to him to seek his guidance. He knew me because my elder uncle and my cousins also worked in the Railways. I was carrying with myself Essays on the Gita. When he saw the book, he made his obeisance. I asked: “What happened? Why did you make obeisance?” His reply was straight: “This is the book of Bhagwan [God].” I asked: “God’s book? What was that?” Then what he said was strange. “I collect and make horoscopes of great and successful persons for my study and I have published some of them as well. I had written to Sri Aurobindo requesting Him to kindly provide me with His time of birth. Not only did He send me the time but also His horoscope drawn in His own hands.” I asked: “So what did you see?” Do you know what he said? “In 1947, His philosophy will be the basis of a new world culture.” I am quoting him verbatim.

Let me tell you another story related to Sri Aurobindo. I had one friend who was older than me. He was an astrologer-cum-tantrik. He was a very amiable person and looked upon me as his younger brother. One day I had gone to meet him. The book The Mother was with me. Seeing the book, he said: “Namaskar [Salutations].” “What happened, brother?” I asked, “What is the news?” He offered his obeisance and said: “It is the book of God.” “God’s book?” “Yes,” he replied. There was no hesitation in his voice. “Do you know,” he said to me, “I’ve His horoscope.” “God’s horoscope?” I asked. “Don’t joke. I do have it.” “What did you read in it?” “1947. Sovereign ruler of the entire world.” “Is it so?” I asked. “Yes,” he replied. When Sri Aurobindo left His body, I went to meet him. I asked him: “What happened? He has left us.” He replied: “How does His arrival or departure matter? He can come and go whenever He pleases. This is child’s play to Him.”

Have you met Sri Aurobindo in the subtle physical?

I had once visited the place in the subtle physical where Sri Aurobindo now stays and works. I saw Him sitting there with the entire world in His fist. He was majestic yet delicate. It was a combination of both aspects. It appeared as if He would just melt if one touched Him but He was holding the entire world. The ground in the subtle physical had no formation. I had asked the Mother about it. She said: “What you’ve seen was true, you indeed went to the subtle physical.” I asked: “Why was the ground like that?” She said that the formation was in the making. Sri Aurobindo is now residing in the subtle physical and working from there. I had seen a crown on His head—a very strange crown—it probably implied sovereign rule. I had gone there only once.”

There are also stories of more intimate encounters, stories that not only reveal immense Love, Patience and Compassion inspiring us to follow Their divinely-human example but also show us the deep care and concern that They have for those who have the rarest of privileges to be near Them:

Jhumur Bhattacharya also shares some of her treasures:

I have heard that young children were not allowed to enter the Ashram main building.

We could never step inside the Ashram. But the Mother would always inquire whether there were sufficient fruits for the children. She used to send milk separately. She used to send Amrita-da to inspect whether everything was in order. She was precisely like a human mother. So kind was Her behaviour! But we never went inside the Ashram. I remember when the Mother used to give Balcony Darshan, my mother would go to have Her Darshan with me on her lap—there were some more children—and she would stand at the spot where now the Jhunjhun Boarding is situated. It was quite far. My mother could never go near the Ashram with me. The Mother has said that She used to bring down a Force which was unbearable for children. Gradually we kids used to go near the Ashram. I was then aged three. We would hear that the Mother and Sri Aurobindo resided in the Ashram main building but no one allowed us to enter it. After a considerable period of time we began to enter the Ashram very silently and secretly. Then someone reported to the Mother that these children were very keen to enter the Ashram. She replied that if they wanted to come let them come. That was the beginning. On the 15th of every month we—there were five or six of us—would visit the Ashram main building. The Mother used to play with us games like “Ringa Ringa Roses” or She would teach us something. But we were allowed to go to the Darshans. Jiji [KiranKumari] was our guide, we children were taken separately for the Darshan of Sri Aurobindo. The Darshans were occasions of bliss for us.

Though we used to disturb the sadhana and meditation of the other members of the Ashram community we received infinite love from everyone of them. We would go to the residence of Kobi [Nishikanto Roychowdhury] and disturb him when he was busy writing. We would ask Kobi: “Are we disturbing you?” And he would answer: “Not at all.” Everybody was affectionate towards us. We children used to play and make noise in the Meditation Hall in the afternoon but the Mother never told us even once that we were disturbing Sri Aurobindo. When we grew up a bit and our voices rose to a considerable extent, She asked us to make less noise between 1 and 1.30 p.m. because that was the time for Pavitra’s siesta. So She told us not to disturb him. But She never said that do not disturb me or Sri Aurobindo. We used to play Kho-kho in the Ashram. The Samadhi was not there at that time; there was a tank at its place with some pots above it. We used to touch it during the course of the game. There was another game which we played all over the Ashram, it was called Thappa-thappa in Hindi. While others meditated we would play our games. Then one day the Mother called us upstairs. She created games for us. There were cards with flowers which She asked us to read and remember. She announced that those who would win the games were eligible for a prize. Gradually She started a different education with six of us. Our education was no longer restricted to the school. At 12 noon after having our lunch in our residence we would go to the Mother and play when She was free. And She was never free. Everyone awaited Her, the Heads of the Departments would wait to get Her signature on some paper or inform Her about something. So we had to wait. There was a game which She had seen at Japan and arranged it for us. At times She would come and inquire whether we were able to do it.”

Her account of the last Darshan of Sri Aurobindo is equally interesting:

“Everyone was going for the Darshan. I went to His room and saw—many must have seen as well—a profound golden-orange light. A huge body was lying on the bed. There was a strange glow around. I did not realize that the light was coming out of His body. The light had illuminated the entire room. Initially I thought that many lights had been put up in the room. Then I observed that the room had only one dim light. Then I thought that probably the curtains were golden in colour but the room had no curtain. The glass windows were all painted red. The entire room was lit up by that golden-orange light and I have not forgotten it till date. To see that light I would visit Sri Aurobindo’s room whenever I got a chance. That light remained for four days. Many had seen that light. The Mother had said that Sri Aurobindo had brought down the Supramental on earth, that is, in His body. That’s why He had to leave His body. The Mother had declared that as long as the light remained no one should touch Sri Aurobindo. There was no ice in the room. Apart from a small table-fan there were no fans in His room. Yet there was no deterioration. In the evening of 8th December a blue spot was observed on His face and the orange-golden light had faded and become yellowish. Then the Mother announced that Sri Aurobindo’s body would be put to rest in the Samadhi on the following day.”

But what comes as an icing on the cake of this most delicious dish of divine encounters is an account of Pranab-da’s interview by the author, Anurag:

Some letters of the Mother to Pranab Kumar Bhattacharya

‘My beloved child,
Your consecration to the divine work is so total that you have given your life to save mine. With all the mighty ardour that I have, I pray that this offering may not be in vain. My will to overcome all obstacles and to triumph is complete and unshakeable. You can depend on it, it will not weaken.’

*

‘To thee whom my love selected when the time had come to start my work on the most material level—
I did not see in thee the man, but the human being capable of supramentalisation, the aspiration for physical perfection, the effort towards total transformation, the will to divinise the body and a natural and spontaneous capacity to do so, a physical harmony already partly realised and a growing possibility of expressing materially the psychic consciousness. With the certitude of a final Victory.’

*

‘To my beloved child and faithful companion in the building up of the New World.
With my love, my trust and blessings for ever.’

*

What follows are some very beautiful revelations and helpful suggestions on the path, To quote just a couple of them:

“Some of the questions I had asked Dada about Sri Aurobindo and His yoga on various occasions:

How can we feel the Presence of Sri Aurobindo and the Mother?

This can be done by Their Grace only. From our side there has to be aspiration and from Their side Grace. Only with the union of these two factors can we feel Their Presence.

The Mother used to say: ‘I will do your sadhana: you live happily and confidently.’ Dada, we haven’t had the Darshan of the Mother and Sri Aurobindo. Will They take up our sadhana as well?

Yes. Self-surrender is the path of our yoga. If one walks on that path, They’ll definitely take up the sadhana.”

These are some of the priceless pearls of Wisdom and Sacred treasure troves of invaluable gems of Love that the book contains. Critics will say that it is difficult to remain fully objective when we recount such experiences and there is always the possibility of some mixture. Well, may be, but then where can we find an absence of mixture anywhere in the world. And yet even if there is one golden grain of Truth in such accounts it is worth it. This book surely contains many such golden moments etched in the memory of the sadhakas. What is beautiful is that while reading through the accounts one clearly gets a feel that what is being stated is not more but less. The experiences are being understated rather than overstated. Where the memory is hazy or the experience unclear, the sadhakas are unwilling to narrate it, making this work unlike many other similar accounts. It will be an interesting document for posterity, not just for God-lovers who will always be delighted hear and read the accounts of disciples and the Lord’s dealings with them but also for scholars and spiritual historians who will find in the book firsthand accounts of some truly marvelous and interesting experiences.

Indeed the book is yet another jewel from Anurag’s pen and we wish that many more jewels follow.

Dr. Alok Pandey

*

About the Reviewer: A practising psychiatrist in Sri Aurobindo Ashram Dispensary and an inmate of Sri Aurobindo Ashram (Pondicherry), Dr. Alok Pandey, M.B.B.S., M.D. in Psychiatry from AFMC, Pune, is a former Associate Professor in Psychiatry at the Institute of Space and Aviation Medicine, Bangalore. He is the author of the famous book Death, Dying and Beyond and is also a member of Sri Aurobindo International Institute for Integral Health and Research and an Editor of the journal, NAMAH.

*

« Older entries

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 91 other followers