On 25 April 1950, the famous French photographer Henri Cartier-Bresson took a number of photographs of Sri Aurobindo in His room. Udar Pinto, who accompanied Henri Cartier-Bresson to Sri Aurobindo’s room recalls:
‘…Mother called me and told me that She had permitted Henri Cartier-Bresson to take photographs of Sri Aurobindo. The Mother wanted me to help him with the handling of the equipment in the room and to assist him. She said, “Cartier-Bresson is going to take photographs. I am giving him permission. So you look after him. Do whatever he wants you to do.”… At that time we didn’t have such powerful lenses. And he said to Mother, “I regret that our present technology has not advanced so much to take a full beautiful picture in insufficient light. I’ll do the best I can.” And then he went to take pictures of Sri Aurobindo sitting in the chair. It was a wonderful and sweet experience, Sri Aurobindo sitting in the chair and I was by the side of the photographer. And he said, “Turn your head like this, look up, look that side, look this side…” Cartier-Bresson said he had never had a model like this who never moved or even blinked.’
Henri Cartier-Bresson too has recalled the experience of taking Sri Aurobindo’s photographs in the following words: ‘Mother was so helpful and She convinced Sri Aurobindo and I came to his bedroom with my camera. The room was so neat and tidy and impersonal. Sri Aurobindo did not blink an eye during the entire ten minutes. I was watching him, he did not seem to belong to that impersonal setting.’ And in a tribute paid after Sri Aurobindo’s mahasamadhi, he remarked: “…when I had the privilege of seeing Sri Aurobindo, I had the impression that he was beyond time…”
Today, we take the opportunity of sharing with you some of the photographs of Sri Aurobindo taken by Henri Cartier-Bresson. These are the last photographs of Sri Aurobindo taken when He was in His physical body.
With warm regards,