Memorial Service on Dr. Nirodbaran Talukdar

                                                                        

A Memorial Service dedicated to the loving memory of Dr. Nirodbaran Talukdar (1903-2006), known in the Aurobindonian community across the globe as Sri Aurobindo’s scribe and renowned for his books like Talks with Sri Aurobindo, Correspondence with Sri Aurobindo, Twelve Years with Sri Aurobindo and Memorable Contacts with the Mother to name a few was held on Thursday, 18 November 2010, at the Head Office of Overman Foundation to commemorate the 107th Birth Anniversary of the great sadhak and inmate of Sri Aurobindo Ashram.

The ceremony was conducted by Shri Anurag Banerjee, Founder-Chairman of Overman Foundation, who after narrating a brief life-sketch of Dr. Nirodbaran and his unique association with Sri Aurobindo and the Mother, shared with the audience his reminiscences of Dr. Nirodbaran whom he had met as a teenager in 1999 and how instrumental he was in bringing him closer to Sri Aurobindo and the Mother. He also explained that since the Mother had left Her physical body on 17 November which was the actual date of birth of Dr. Nirodbaran, he used to celebrate his birthday on 18 November.

A shirt of Dr. Nirodbaran which was gifted to Shri Banerjee by the late Bani Mutsuddi, Nirodbaran’s niece, was brought out for public darshan and the small group of devotees of Sri Aurobindo and the Mother and admirers of Dr. Nirodbaran who had assembled to offer their loving tribute to their beloved “Nirod-da” made their obeisance to it. Some members of the audience who had the opportunity of corresponding with him read out excerpts of his correspondence.

The ceremony ended with the playing of the first canto of Book I of Savitri recited by Dr. Nirodbaran.

                                                            

                                       Dr. Nirodbaran’s shirt.

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Reminiscences of 24 November 1926

Dear Friends,

24 November is celebrated in the Aurobindonian community as the ‘Siddhi Day’. It was on this day in the year 1926 that the descent of Krishna, that is, the Overmind Consciousness, took place in Matter, that is, Sri Aurobindo’s body.

Among the 24 inmates who were present in the Ashram when the descent occurred, seven of them have left behind their precious reminiscences of that special day.

On this occasion, we take the opportunity to share with you all five of those reminiscences as well the Mother’s.

With warm regards,

Anurag Banerjee 

Chairman,

Overman Foundation.

                                                     ****

Ambalal Balakrishna Purani writes: ‘From the beginning of November 1926 the pressure of the Higher Power began to be unbearable. Then at last the great day, the day for which the Mother had been waiting for so many long years, arrived on 24 November. The sun had almost set, and everyone was occupied with his own activity—some had gone out to the seaside for a walk—when the Mother sent round word to all the disciples to assemble as soon as possible in the verandah where the usual meditation was held. It did not take long for the message to go round to all. By six o’clock most of the disciples had gathered. It was becoming dark. In the verandah on the wall near Sri Aurobindo’s door, just behind his chair, a black silk curtain with gold lace work representing three Chinese dragons was hung. The three dragons were so represented that the tail of one reached up to the mouth of the other and the three of them covered the curtain from end to end. We came to know afterwards that there is a prophesy in China that the Truth will manifest itself on earth when the three dragons (the dragons of the earth, of the mind region and of the sky) meet. Today on 24 November the Truth was descending and the hanging of the curtain was significant.

   ‘There was a deep silence in the atmosphere after the disciples had gathered there. Many saw an oceanic flood of Light rushing down from above. Everyone present felt a kind of pressure above his head. The whole atmosphere was surcharged with some electrical energy. In that silence, in that atmosphere full of concentrated expectation and aspiration, in the electrically charged atmosphere, the usual, yet on this day quite unusual, tick was heard behind the door of the entrance. Expectation rose in a flood. Sri Aurobindo and the Mother could be seen through the half-opened door. The Mother with a gesture of her eyes requested Sri Aurobindo to step out first. Sri Aurobindo with a similar gesture suggested to her to do the same. With a slow dignified step the Mother came out first, followed by Sri Aurobindo with his majestic gait. The small table that used to be in front of Sri Aurobindo’s chair was removed this day. The Mother sat on a small stool to his right.

   ‘Silence absolute, living silence—not merely living but overflowing with divinity. The meditation lasted about forty-five minutes. After that one by one the disciples bowed to the Mother.

   ‘She and Sri Aurobindo gave blessings to them. Whenever a disciple bowed to the Mother, Sri Aurobindo’s right hand came forward behind the Mother’s as if blessing him through the Mother. After the blessings, in the same silence there was a short meditation.

  ‘In the interval of silent meditation and blessings many had distinct experiences. When all was over they felt as if they had awakened from a divine dream. Then they felt the grandeur, the poetry and the absolute beauty of the occasion. It was not as if a handful of disciples were receiving blessings from their Supreme Master and the Mother in one little corner of the earth. The significance of the occasion was far greater than that. It was certain that a Higher Consciousness had descended on earth. In that deep silence had burgeoned forth, like the sprout of a banyan tree, the beginning of a mighty spiritual work. This momentous occasion carried its significance to all in the divine dynamism of the silence, in its unearthly dignity and grandeur and in the utter beauty of its every little act. The deep impress of divinity which everyone got was for him a priceless treasure.

    ‘Sri Aurobindo and the Mother went inside. Immediately Datta was inspired. In that silence she spoke: “The Lord has descended into the physical today.”’[1]

                                                     *

Nolini Kanta Gupta writes: ‘Even before that date [24 November], for some time past, Sri Aurobindo had been more and more withdrawing into himself and retiring within. An external sign of this became visible to us as his lunch hour shifted gradually towards the afternoon. We used to have our meal together and the Mother too ate with us… There used to be about eight or ten of us. On the previous day, Sri Aurobindo came down to lunch when it was past four. We would naturally wait till he came.

   ‘Then the great day arrived. In the afternoon, it was in fact already getting dark, all of us had gone out as usual. I was on the sea-front. Suddenly, someone came running at full speed and said to me, “Go, get back at once; the Mother is calling everybody.” I had not the least idea as to what might be the reason. I came back running and went straight up, to the verandah… Sri Aurobindo used to take his seat there in the evening for his talks with us or rather for answering our questions. As I came up, a strange scene met my eyes. Sri Aurobindo was seated in his chair, the Mother sat at his feet, both of them with their faces turned towards us. I looked round to see if all were present. Satyen was missing and I said, “Satyen has not come. Shall I call him in?” The Mother spoke out, “Yes, all, all.” All were called in, everybody was now present. We took our seats before Sri Aurobindo and the Mother, both of whom were facing us. The whole scene and atmosphere had a heavenly halo.

   ‘Sri Aurobindo held his left hand above the Mother’s head and his right hand was extended to us in benediction. Everything was silent and still, grave and expectant. We stood up one by one and went and bowed at the feet of Sri Aurobindo and the Mother. After a while, both of them went inside. And then, Datta who had been among us, suddenly exclaimed at the top of her voice, as though an inspired Prophetess of the old mysteries, “The Lord has descended. He has conquered death and sorrow. He has brought down immortality.”’[2]

                                                       *

Rajani Palit narrates his recollections: ‘On the 24th at about 4 p.m. I had gone to the Ashram and was meditating in Bejoy Nag’s room… A great Power was trying to descend but it seemed to me that I should be broken into pieces—so intense was the pressure of the Higher Force over my head and so great the resistance in my head. The result was that I could not receive the Power, although I tried to do so.

   ‘At about 5 p.m., Amrita was called upstairs and he came down with the Mother’s express direction that all the disciples were to assemble in the upstairs verandah for Sri Aurobindo’s blessings.

   ‘As soon as I heard this I went to Barinda’s room and told him that the long expected Descent must have taken place.

   ‘The Mother’s wishes were communicated to all the disciples including those staying in the Guest House. But many had gone out to the sea-side for their evening stroll and some had gone to play football.

   ‘So messengers were sent to call them and, when all of us had assembled in the Ashram, we went upstairs at about 6.30 p.m…. On the wall, near the central door, was hung a black silk curtain with a Chinese Dragon in gold lace-work.

   ‘The bent-wood chairs in which we used to sit for meditation were all removed and replaced by mats spread on the floor.

   ‘Absolute silence prevailed and the verandah was full of Spiritual Light. Automatically we got into a state of meditation, waiting for the arrival of the Master.

   ‘A few minutes after, at about 7 p.m., the door behind the curtain opened and the Mother and the Master appeared—the Master with his majestic gait and the Mother in her queenly bearing. The Master was dressed in a silk dhoti and chaddar, and the Mother in a silk sari. The Master took his seat in his usual low cushioned chair and the Mother on his foot-rest which was placed on this day a little to the left.

    ‘The Master looked absolutely grand, omniscient, omnipotent, Samrāt, as if the Emperor of the Universe, head lion-like, eyes wide-open as if looking from far beyond, detached yet supporting the entire universe; absolutely powerful, yet compassionate and kind to all, the supreme Godhead, absolutely Svarāt, one who had conquered himself entirely and had established his Ananda and light in every part and each cell of his body, from head to foot, his whole body radiating light and love and bliss to all creation.

   ‘The Mother was the embodiment of Love, Compassion, Purity, Beauty, Youth, Grace and Rhythm. She also looked majestic, her beaming eyes full of compassion for the earthly creation, Mother of the universe, Shakti of the Master.

    ‘It was a very auspicious day, since on this day Sri Krishna, who is the Anandamaya and who supports the evolution, descended into the physical. Sri Aurobindo embodied the Supreme Godhead on this day.

   ‘The Master held out his left hand a few inches above the head of the Mother and he blessed the disciples who had assembled with his right hand as they bowed down to him and the Mother, one by one; some of his disciples bowed more than once.

   ‘There was absolutely no talk, no sound. Neither the Mother nor Sri Aurobindo spoke a word, the atmosphere was charged with utter calmness and peace and bliss, perfect silence reigned throughout the function. Then after about half an hour or so, Sri Aurobindo and the Mother withdrew and went within.

   ‘Now Datta came out, inspired, and declared, “The Master has conquered death, decay, disease, hunger, and sleep.” We were spellbound and unable to move for some time. We felt as if we had been transported to heaven. Then we came downstairs, probably one by one.

   ‘Regarding myself, I spoke to Barinda for a special interview with the Mother, since the Pressure was very great, more than I could bear.

   ‘The Mother saw me at about 9 p.m. and I bowed down to Her and told Her about my difficulties. She assured me that it would be o.k. and blessed me.

   ‘Then there was the usual distribution of “Soup” by the Mother.

   ‘Sri Aurobindo “retired” either on the following day or one or two days after.’[3]

                                                          *   

Dr. K. Rajangam writes: ‘24th November 1926 was indeed a glorious day. It was the day of the descent of Sri Krishna Consciousness into Sri Aurobindo. I still remember Dutta [sic]… exclaiming as if in trance:

                                           He has conquered Life.

                                           He has conquered Death.

                                           He has conquered All.

                                           Krishna the Lord has descended!’[4]

                                                            * 

Champaklal recalls: ‘Datta spoke:

                                           Krishna the Lord has come.

                                           He has ended the hell of suffering.

                                           He has conquered pain.

                                           He has conquered death.

                                           He has conquered all.

                                           He has descended tonight

                                           Bringing Immortality and Bliss.

As each one made pranam to the Mother and she gave her blessing, Sri Aurobindo held his palm above hers in blessing. I was the only person to do pranam to both. It was a spontaneous movement; something in me rushed out and made me do it.’[5]

                                                          *

Jaya Devi remembers: ‘On November 24 a little before evening all the sadhaks were asked to assemble. One after another we trooped to the upper hall. Sri Aurobindo and the Mother blessed us all with both hands. I was told: “Mahashakti, the Supreme Consciousness-Force, has descended into Sri Aurobindo.” I could myself see light and glory bursting out of his body.’[6]

                                                            *

And finally we come to the Mother’s own recollections about the eventful date 24 November 1926: ‘He [Sri Aurobindo] called everyone together for one last meeting. He sat down, had me sit next to him, and said: “I called you here to tell you that, as of today, I am withdrawing for purposes of sadhana, and Mother will now take charge of everyone. You should address yourselves to her. She will represent me and she will do all the work”… These people had always been very intimate with Sri Aurobindo, so they asked: “Why, why, why?”… I had no intention of explaining anything and I left the room with him, but Datta began speaking… She said she felt Sri Aurobindo speaking through her and she explained everything: that Krishna had incarnated and that Sri Aurobindo was now going to do an intensive sadhana for the descent of the Supermind; that it meant Krishna’s adherence to the Supramental Descent upon Earth and that, as Sri Aurobindo would now be too occupied to deal with people, he had put me in charge and I would be doing all the work.’[7]

                                                           *****


[1] The Life of Sri Aurobindo, pp. 215-217

[2] Collected Works of Nolini Kanta Gupta, Volume VIII, pp. 203-204

[3] Mother India, December, 1962, pp. 27-28

[4] M.P. Pandit (edited) Breath of Grace, p. 85

[5] Champaklal Speaks, p. 70

[6] Shyam Kumari, Vignettes of Sri Aurobindo and the Mother, pp. 16-17

[7] Georges Van Vrekhem, The Mother: The Story of Her Life, pp. 227-228

Photographs of the Mother’s Last Journey

Dear Friends,

On 20 November 1973 at 8. 20 a.m., the Mother’s physical body, which was kept in state since the early hours of 18 November, was put to rest in the Samadhi. The description of the Mother’s last journey from the Meditation Hall to the Samadhi vault, which was published in the November-December (1973) issue of Mother India, the Ashram journal, is as follows:

“A casket was made of one-inch-thick rosewood and the inside was lined with a pure silver sheet and over this was a lining of felt and then white silk satin. On the lid of the casket was fixed a symbol of the Mother in pure gold.

At 8.00 a.m. on the 20th November, the Mother’s body was laid in the casket, which was then covered and sealed hermetically.

The casket was carried to the Samadhi and lowered into the chamber just above the vault in which Sri Aurobindo’s body had been laid in 1950. Nolini and André scattered some rose petals over the casket and concrete slabs were placed to cover the chamber. There was then a meditation for about ten minutes.

A running commentary on the event was given by All India Radio. After the meditation, wreaths and bouquets of flowers were laid on the Samadhi by the Government of Pondicherry, the French Consul and others…”

On this occasion we would like to share with all the children of the Mother some photographs of her last journey.

With warm regards,

Anurag Banerjee

Chairman,

Overman Foundation.

1The Mother’s Coffin is being taken from the Meditation Hall to the Samadhi.

2The Mother’s Coffin is lowered into the Samadhi.

Andre Morisset, the Mother’s son, and Nolini Kanta Gupta scattering rose-petals on the Samadhi.

3Meditation around the Samadhi after the vault was closed.

Nolini Kanta Gupta’s Message for 17 November 1973

Dear Friends,

A few hours after the Mother left her physical body on 17 November 1973 at 7.25 p.m. Nolini Kanta Gupta had issued two statements. We take this opportunity of sharing them with you today on the occasion of the Mother’s Mahasamadhi Day.                                                           

                                                        (1)

 “The Mother’s body belonged to the old creation. It was meant to be the pedestal of the New Body. It served its purpose well. The New Body will come.

     This is a test, how far we are faithful to Her, true to Her Consciousness.

     The revival of the body would have meant revival of the old troubles in the body. The body troubles were eliminated so far as could be done while in the body—farther was not possible. For a new mutation, a new procedure was needed. “Death” was the first stage in that process.”

                                                         (2)

“Sweet Mother,

      Your physical body belonged to the old creation because you wanted to be one with your children. You wanted this body to uphold the New Body you were building upon it, and it gave you the service you asked of it. You will come with your New Body.

     Your children’s, the world’s call and aspiration, love and consecration are laid at your feet in gratitude.”

With warm regards, 

Anurag Banerjee

Chairman,

Overman Foundation.

Our Forthcoming Publications

Dear Friends and Well-wishers of Overman Foundation,

It gives me immense pleasure to announce to you all that three projects undertaken by Overman Foundation are ready for publication. The first project is in Bengali and it is an anthology of about thirty-four unpublished poems of Nishikanto, the great poet of Sri Aurobindo Ashram whom Sri Aurobindo had called “The Brahmaputra of Inspiration.” The second project is a study of Sri Aurobindo’s political life through British Government documents, press coverage and memoirs of his political associates as well as his own. And the third project is the publication of the unabridged version of the Alipore Bomb Trial Judgment.

 As said earlier, the project on Nishikanto, titled “Ananya Nishikanto” comprises of about thirty-four of his unpublished poems most of which have been collected from individuals who were very close to the late poet. A very important attraction of this project is a set of rare epistolary exchanges between Sri Aurobindo and Nishikanto. And this project also includes a number of poems of Sri Aurobindo and K.D. Sethna alias Amal Kiran translated into Bengali by Nishikanto. It is bound to be a treat for those who are ardent admirers of Nishikanto’s works.

The second project is titled “Sri Aurobindo: His Political Life and Activities’ and it is a chronological study of his political life from 1906 to 1910 through British Government documents, press coverage, memoirs of his political colleagues as well as his own autobiographical account. Hundreds of documents collected from British Government records (some of which are still unpublished) and press cuttings—both being more than a century old—have been incorporated in this project. In addition to the aforesaid things, it includes rare letters written to Sri Aurobindo by Nationalist leaders like Bal Gangadhar Tilak, Surendranath Banerjea and others. Another major attraction of this project is six extremely rare articles written on Sri Aurobindo by Bepin Chandra Pal, Charu Chandra Dutta, Hemendra Prasad Ghose, S. R. Das, Suresh Deb and Birendra Chandra Sen. And the reader is expected to find as many as nineteen speeches and two interviews of Sri Aurobindo in this book. And as a token of appreciation for this noble work, Shri Manoj Das Gupta, Managing Trustee of Sri Aurobindo Ashram Trust has waived payment of royalty for this book.

The third project is the publication of the unabridged version of the judgment of the Alipore Bomb Trial rendered by C. P. Beachcroft on 6 May 1909. A portion of this judgment emphasizing mostly on Sri Aurobindo was published in the book, “The Alipore Bomb Trial” edited by B. K. Bose in 1922. But it is only through this publication of Overman Foundation that the complete judgment of the Alipore Bomb Trial would see the light of the day. Not only will this book help the students of history but also the students of law.

The dates of the releases of these books would be duly announced.

With warm regards, 

Anurag Banerjee 

Chairman,

Overman Foundation.