Esha Mukherjee: In Memoriam

Esha Mukherjee

Dear Friends,

With the demise of Esha Mukherjee on 23 February 2013 the Aurobindonian community has lost its only surviving member who had the good fortune to correspond with Sri Aurobindo. It is interesting to note that she was one of the three individuals to whom Sri Aurobindo had written letters in Bengali. Sri Aurobindo and the Mother’s letters to her reveal how fond they were of Esha who was otherwise known in the Ashram community as Dilip Kumar Roy’s niece.

Esha was born on 10 October 1925 to Bhavashankar Banerjea and Maya Devi. She hailed from two of the most aristocratic families of Bengal; her paternal grandfather was Sir Surendranath Banerjea, the famous Moderate leader of the Indian National Congress while her maternal grandfather was Dwijendralal Roy, the famous dramatist, composer and lyricist of Bengal. Esha’s parents were childless even after a decade of their marriage. Following the advice of their relatives they went to Tarakeshwar, a holy place in Bengal famous for its temple of Lord Shiva. There were two pits on either sides of the Shiva Lingam where the devotees had to place white and red flowers. When Maya Devi put the flowers into the pit, a white flower suddenly sprang up and fell into her lap. The priest of the temple told the couple that they would have a daughter. Very soon Maya Devi conceived her first and only child.

Surendranath Banerjea—who died before Esha’s birth—had bequeathed his entire property to his grandchild and appointed his son Bhavashankar (to whom he gave a sum of rupees one lakh to use as per his own wishes) as the guardian of the heir. Surendranath’s will also declared that if his son died and Maya Devi did not remarry she would get Rs. 200 per month as an allowance. Interestingly, Surendranath preferred to have a granddaughter instead of a grandson for there was a curse in the dynasty that there would be no male issues to carry on the family line. Two months before the birth of Esha, Surendranath passed away in August 1925.

Esha was a sickly baby. Her delicate health had restricted her movements. As a child she would play with clay idols of gods and goddesses. Since she was not fond of studies she was tutored privately at home. But she was fond of dance and learnt the art of dance from Shambhu Maharaj, the noted dance maestro of the yesteryears. From a very early age, she came into contact with many sages and monks. Bharat Maharaj—the famous monk of Ramakrishna Mission order—was quite fond of her. In 1931 Esha travelled to Pondicherry with her parents to meet her maternal uncle Dilip Kumar Roy who had become an inmate of Sri Aurobindo Ashram in November 1928. On 15 August Bhavashankar and Maya Devi had the Darshan of Sri Aurobindo and the Mother. Though the Mother visited the house where Esha was staying with her parents she was not permitted to go to the Darshan as she was still quite young. When a young companion of her asked Esha why was she not allowed to join her parents for the Darshan, she replied: “You see, the Mother is Bhagavati, the Divine. She disappears into the air, while Sri Aurobindo, being human, doesn’t.” Young Esha was under the impression that it was Sri Aurobindo who did not allow her to go to the Darshan.

Esha’s father Bhavashankar was a sceptic. Moreover, following a boat accident which occurred after his return from Pondicherry he lost all his faith in Sri Aurobindo and the Mother and never visited the Ashram in his lifetime. But he allowed Maya Devi and Esha to visit Sri Aurobindo Ashram in 1932, 1934, 1936 and 1938.

During Esha’s stay in the Ashram in 1932 she had an unexpected Darshan of Sri Aurobindo. One day while she was playing in the open space behind the Service Tree and throwing stones into a tank which stood nearby, she suddenly looked up and saw someone standing at the window upstairs and observing her intently with a smile. After a while the Mother too came and stood at the window. Esha felt that the two luminous personalities were enveloping her with their smiles. The Mother waved to her with her hand. Esha folded her hands and made her obeisance to both of them. After the window was closed Esha was informed that it was Sri Aurobindo whom she had seen with the Mother by his side smiling at her. On 10 October 1932—on the occasion of her seventh birthday—Esha spent nearly two hours with the Mother. Her birthday had fallen on a Monday—the day the Mother used to wash her tresses and hence did not go down to the Meditation Hall. During the two hours she spent in the company of the Mother, the Mother played the piano for her, showed pictures of animals, told stories in English (which she did not understand), gave her chocolates, flowers and a variety of gifts.

As mentioned earlier, Sri Aurobindo and the Mother were both very fond of Esha. Once, when Esha had plucked a flower from the Ashram garden, the sadhak in charge scolded her due to which she ran home sobbing. The Mother—who had heard her crying—inquired what had happened and instructed the sadhak to let her do whatever she wanted. In 1934 Esha was permitted to go to the Darshan. Maya Devi dressed her up in a sari and put a tiara on her head. But when Esha’s young companion (a girl named Manu) insisted to have the ornament for herself, Maya Devi gave it to her. Dilip Kumar teased his niece by remarking that she looked most untidy in the sari. Young Esha broke into tears and went to the Darshan with her eyes swollen. When Sri Aurobindo noticed Esha’s eyes he wrote to Dilip Kumar asking him what the matter was. After receiving Dilip Kumar’s explanation, Sri Aurobindo wrote to Esha that though she did not wear the tiara she still looked quite pretty. Sri Aurobindo’s remark moved Esha to her depths. She began to write to Sri Aurobindo and address him as “My Sri Aurobindo” much to the chagrin of Dilip Kumar. As Dilip Kumar used to read Sri Aurobindo’s letters to Esha, she wrote to Sri Aurobindo requesting him to write two letters to her: one should be private and the other which Dilip Kumar could read. And Sri Aurobindo complied with her request. Esha would be with the Mother when the latter worked in her room. Later she would go up to the terrace and walk by the side of the Mother. The Mother would also meet her everyday in the evening after returning from her drive. She used to wait for Esha at the bottom of the staircase opposite the Samadhi with Nolini Kanta Gupta and Pavitra. Once, Esha came about fifteen minutes late as she was chatting with her friends. The Mother was still waiting for her. When she came and knelt at her feet, the Mother caught hold of her hair, pulled her up, looked sternly at her face and said: “Come in time.” The Mother was also concerned about Esha’s education and appointed Nolini Kanta Gupta as Esha’s tutor. But since she was not fond of studies she would remain absent quite frequently. Initially Nolini Kanta was indulgent but later became strict. One day he told Esha: “I shall complain to Sri Aurobindo that you don’t want to study.” Even this threat failed to cast any effect on Esha and finally all attempts to tutor her were withdrawn.

Esha lost her father in 1938 when she was thirteen years of age. Hearing the news of Bhavashankar’s demise, Dilip Kumar came to Kolkata and took Maya Devi and Esha a few weeks later to Kashmir. At Peshawar, Dilip Kumar Roy met Mahatma Gandhi who was staying at the residence of Abdul Gaffar Khan, better known as ‘Frontier Gandhi’. Esha and Uma Bose (Dilip Kumar’s pupil) had also accompanied Dilip Kumar. Since Mahatma Gandhi was fond of Dilip Kumar and Uma Bose’s songs, they gave solo recitals in front of him. The last song—based on Krishna’s flute—was sung by Uma in accompaniment with a dance recital by Esha. Dilip Kumar would later remark in his book Among the Great that under the inspiration of Sri Aurobindo Esha ‘improvised her devotional dances with a rare mastery of feeling and execution.’[1]

While Maya Devi returned to Kolkata, Esha went to Pondicherry with her uncle. The Darshan of November 1938 was cancelled due to Sri Aurobindo’s accident. By that time Esha had made up her mind to become an inmate of the Ashram. She spoke about her decision to Dilip Kumar who informed the Mother accordingly. When the Mother met Esha, she told her: “If you knew that as a result your mother might commit suicide, what would you do?” Esha answered that she was prepared for it. The Mother said: “All right, but don’t write about it to your mother just now.” Despite the Mother’s instruction of not informing Maya Devi about her decision to stay in the Ashram, Esha chose to write to her mother following the advice of Jyotirmoyee, the niece of Nirodbaran, who looked after her. Maya Devi came to Pondicherry to take her daughter back but in vain. The Mother and Sri Aurobindo sent Nolini Kanta Gupta to Esha to ask why she wanted to stay in the Ashram. Pat came Esha’s reply: “Because I love Sri Aurobindo.” When the Mother was informed of Esha’s reply, she said: “Let her stay.” But Maya Devi filed a lawsuit against Dilip Kumar in the French Court on the charge that he was holding back his niece (who was then a minor) to take possession of her properties. Eventually Maya Devi won the case. When she came to take Esha back with her, Esha tried to hide herself at various places. But Sri Aurobindo sent word that she must go. The Mother also told Esha that if she did not leave the police would enter the Ashram Main Building. Thus, Esha was compelled to leave the Ashram. But her heart always remained in the Ashram with the Mother and Sri Aurobindo. Once when someone had criticized Sri Aurobindo and the Mother in her presence, Esha said in a firm tone: “Look here. If you speak one word more against my Gurus, I’ll give you such a slap that you will roll on the floor.” When this incident was reported to Sri Aurobindo and the Mother, both were very pleased to observe her devotion. Sri Aurobindo too had remarked about her: “What she has done is remarkable for her age. She is an extraordinary girl. Along with strength of character she has developed an extraordinary intelligence. When she used to write to us, she would make reflections about people and the world in general which were beyond even a woman of fifty.”[2]

Esha renewed her contact with Sri Aurobindo Ashram in 1949. By that time, she was already married and blessed with a son named Devrup. She visited the Ashram in November 1949 and stayed till February 1950. When she stood in front of Sri Aurobindo during the Darshan of 24 November, she saw that Sri Aurobindo was looking at her with a penetrating gaze. So overwhelming was the effect of Sri Aurobindo’s gaze that she inwardly told him that it was becoming unbearable for her. Immediately Sri Aurobindo lowered his eyes. During her stay she took part in the 1st December dance programme organized in the Ashram. In this dance drama, she played the role of Krishna while Anu Purani (A.B. Purani’s daughter) played the part of Radha.

On 5 December 1950 about an hour after midnight, Esha dreamt that a violent earthquake was shaking up the world and a profound Darkness had enveloped everything and everyone. She found herself absolutely alone. When she climbed up a tower with much effort, she heard a voice whispering to her: “On this earth you now have no one left to call your own. Beyond, you have.” The next morning she came to know about Sri Aurobindo’s mahasamadhi. Five days later, she saw Sri Aurobindo standing at the door. He said to Esha in a low voice: “I have come to bless you.” But when Esha went forward to make her obeisance, she found that Sri Aurobindo had disappeared. However, Sri Aurobindo would continue to appear before her and talk to her.

The Mother had cautioned Esha when she was ten years old not to marry; even Bharat Maharaj of Belur Math had told her: “Esha, my dear, if you had not married, you would have reached a very high level in your spiritual attainment.” Following a failed marriage leading to divorce, she settled in the Ashram in 1978 forty years after she was compelled to leave it. Her spiritual life continued to progress rapidly. She would have frequent darshans of not only Sri Aurobindo but of Ramakrishna and Swami Vivekananda as well. Some of her visions and spiritual experiences which have been published in the book “An Extraordinary Girl” are quoted beneath:

*

… “I was blessed by him [Sri Aurobindo on the occasion of Esha’s birthday on 10 October 1991]. I got up in the early morning as usual, finished all my chores, and had my bath. After I had dressed, I lit a few incense-sticks. Then I stood before his picture and prayed, ‘Won’t you bless me?’ He gave me a broad smile and, stretching out both his arms, put his hands on my head as he used to do during the darshans of my childhood. I was happy, beyond description. The whole day his smile and the gentle, almost physical pressure of his hands on my head recalled to me those childhood memories…”

(p. 60)

*

‘Once I saw Thakur [Sri Ramakrishna] in a dream. He was surrounded by his disciples and was enjoying their company. Suddenly he exclaimed, “Where is Esha, where is Esha? Hasn’t she come?” Vivekananda, who was standing nearby, pointed his finger at me seated in a corner and replied, “There she is.” And Thakur graced me with a divine smile.

This brings to my mind the vision I recently had of Vivekananda himself—it was for the first time that I saw him thus. I saw him one night standing by my window. He was looking at me intently and smiling with loving sweetness. He was dressed in his usual sannyasi garb and was looking magnificent, his eyes and face shining with a divine lustre. I couldn’t help crying out, “How beautiful, how beautiful he looks!” Whereupon he replied, “Not as beautiful as your uncle!”

“No, no!” I protested. “There is no comparison!” Then he vanished.’

                                                                                                                          (pp. 85-86)

 *

 ‘I told Sri Aurobindo, “Thakur appears so often to us. Why are you so rare?” He answered, “His work is different from mine. He has created a few great souls. My work is not to appear in visions but to change man from within and to change humanity. Have you changed much as a result of these visions? It is not that you have not seen me, you saw me and the Mother for many consecutive days. Do you remember? Tell me then, have you made much progress?”

“No!”

“Not vision. What is important is to feel the Presence,” he added.

 Once I did see the Mother and Sri Aurobindo for fifteen days. Whichever way I looked, I saw them sitting within my forehead, very luminous. At first I was thrilled, but as the vision continued, I became tired of it and it vanished.’

(p. 87)

 *

‘It happened in 1948… One morning, however, at about 7.30 a.m. while still in bed I saw his [Ramakrishna] figure high above on the wall. He was wrapped in a white chaddar and said, “Bring me a blanket. I’m feeling very cold.” I was thinking, “Who is he? I seem to have seen him somewhere, but can’t recollect it.” He stayed for about five minutes. After he was gone, I remembered and exclaimed, “Oh! It was Sri Ramakrishna.”…

‘One night, about ten years later, as I was about to go to sleep I saw a round ball of fire suddenly flame up before my eyes, like a fire in a burning ghat… I prayed to my Lord. For seven days the fire appeared before me. After the seventh day it neared and stood before me. I kept looking at it. Then a hollow space formed in the middle of the fire and the bright face of Sri Ramakrishna filled it up. This happened three times…

‘One day as I was lying in bed, he came near me and said, “Get up.” For no apparent reason I was terribly afraid and clutched my bedsheets firmly. He said, “Have no fear.” As soon as I approached him, he caught hold of me by the neck and brought me to Sri Aurobindo’s presence in the Ashram Meditation Hall and said, “Bow down to Him.” Sri Aurobindo was sitting on a sofa and blessed me, while Sri Ramakrishna stood by. As I next did pranam to Sri Ramakrishna, he said to me while blessing me with both hands, “My blessings are with you to protect you from all danger and catastrophe.” Then he simply melted away and did not reappear.

‘Life became dry and empty. Neither he nor Sri Aurobindo was anywhere near. I lost faith in God. For one year I suffered. Then one day at about 3 a.m., a crow outside my window began to call in an intensely shrill voice while looking at me. Suddenly two figures, bright and resplendent, appeared before me; they were none other than the Mother and Sri Aurobindo. How resplendent indeed they were! At once a deep peace descended and enveloped my whole being in ecstasy. For one year I used to see a half-moon between my brows and they were sitting on it. I regained my lost faith…

‘Once I went to Dakshineswar and was walking about in the Panchavati, the area of five trees. As I was musing on Sri Ramakrishna and Sri Aurobindo, I heard a very distinct voice saying “Two colossal trees”!’

(pp. 119-121)

*

 ‘I had a very fine experience the other day in Auroville, when I accompanied Nirod-da [Nirodbaran] there. After his talk to the Aurovilians, which was very good indeed, we went to see the Matrimandir. We sat down for meditation in the Hall; everything was hushed. When I was meditating I saw a bearded rishi plunged in deep meditation high above. I was surprised, for in my previous visit I did not have any experience at all except that everything was quiet and peaceful. Suddenly the Guru’s voice spoke: “There are seven other such Rishis who are constantly on guard and are doing the Mother’s work.”

(p. 127)

 *

‘On my last birthday I had a strange vision with open eyes. Suddenly I saw Nolini-da, Champaklal and Mama (my uncle, Dilip Kumar Roy) sitting in that order in a horse-carriage going somewhere as if for an evening ride. They looked just as they did when they were alive. When I asked Sri Aurobindo inwardly its meaning, he simply said, “They are with me and go about from time to time to see the condition of the world, how it is going on.”’

 (p. 183)

 *

On one occasion, Sri Aurobindo had offered to Esha a long lease of life so that she could reach the Divine. However, Esha had refused to accept the boon stating that she did not want to suffer any more. Nevertheless she did enjoy a long (though not healthy) life of eighty-seven years. In her later years she was confined to her bed in Care Nursing Home. However, she had an alert mind and an extraordinary sense of humour. Her sparkling eyes radiated the brilliance of her inner spiritual life. Just as we converse with our beloved ones, she would talk to Sri Aurobindo inwardly in the same vein. The author vouches for the fact that any prayer to Sri Aurobindo conveyed through Esha was always fulfilled.

A week before she passed away, Esha was taken to the Ashram Nursing Home following a respiratory infection from which she did not recover. She left her physical sheath on 23 February 2013 at 3 a.m. to unite with the love of her life—Sri Aurobindo.

With warm regards,

Anurag Banerjee

Founder,

Overman Foundation.

*

ADDENDUM

Sri Aurobindo and the Mother’s Letters to Esha

(The following letters were written by Sri Aurobindo and the Mother to Esha between 1931 and 1935.)

10.10.31

To Esha with our

      blessings and love.

                                     The Mother

*

The Mother's letter to Esha

Pondicherry

24.3.32

To Esha

We have just received your nice letter. I also hope that you will come down soon as I shall be very glad to see you.

 With our love and blessings.

The Mother

 *

12.5.32

To Esha with our blessings.

I am so sorry to hear that you have been ill. I hope you are quite well now.

This is to send you strength and our love.

 We never forget you and your dear mother.

The Mother

 *

Pondicherry

29.5.32

My dear little Esha,

I am not at all angry.

If I was not writing to you, it is because I was expecting you to come soon.

With our blessings and love.

The Mother

 *

The Mother's letter to Esha 2

9.7.32

Esha,

I have taken a nice house for you; there is electricity and a fan. Come quick, even if you are not quite well.

You know that here your health becomes very good.

With love and blessings.

The Mother

*

6.9.32

To Esha with our blessings.

About your coming here, my will is that you should come with your dear mother at once.

But…

Our love and protection are with you always.

The Mother

 *

 11.11.32

To Esha, our blessings.

So many times I have answered your letters with my heart, but could find no time to write the answer on a sheet of paper.

Hoping that your dear mother and yourself are quite well.

Our love and protection are with you always.

The Mother

*

Pondicherry 12.5.33

Esha

We have received your two letters.

Yes, you can always see us within yourself.

With our blessings and love.

The Mother

 *

7.5.35

To Esha with our blessings.

I am not sending you away from here. I know that here only you can be really happy. I would have liked very much to keep you with me. But you are too young to be able to do as you yourself would like. You depend on your parents. Your mother is returning to Barrakpore and has to take you with her. So I have let you go. When you are older, you will be able to choose for yourself; then you can come here. Meanwhile remember me always as I will remember you always. I will always be with you there and I will try to make you see me. Be happy and become strong and wait till things are changed and you can come back to me.

With love.

The Mother

 *

7.5.35

Esha

The Mother said she would try to make you see her because it is not always easy for people to see her even when she is near them. It is also easier to see with eyes shut than with eyes open—though this too is possible—because it is a sight within you that has to open in order to see her. It is not necessary to call her for any fixed number of hours. It is enough if you love always, remember her often, sit every day a little time before her photograph and call her.

You must never doubt that the Mother loves you and you need never weep for that, for her feelings towards you cannot and will not change.

Of course you can take the photographs given to you by the Mother and keep them with you there.

Sri Aurobindo

*

8.5.35

Esha

It is not that because the Mother loves you she can show herself to your physical eyes at a distance. The physical eyes of men are not made so as to see in that way. It becomes possible only after long sadhana. First one sees with the eyes closed, then afterwards it becomes more possible to see with the eyes open. So you should not be too eager to see at once in the more difficult way. It will come in the end, if you want it, but it does not come at once. Don’t mind if it takes time. You must grow first more and more able to feel the Mother near you; that you can do by thinking of her and calling her often. Then seeing will be more easy.

Sri Aurobindo

*

9.5.35

Esha

Do not mind about the time that it will take—one can’t fix the time of these things beforehand. When you feel the Mother’s presence more and more, when you begin to see her with the inner sight, then it can come.

It is better not to speak of the Mother to your friends—they do not know her, therefore they can take no interest in her. The more you live close to the Mother yourself, the less you will need to speak of her to others.

P.S. You can of course take your temples with you. We shall certainly write to you when you are over there.

Sri Aurobindo

*

17.5.35

Our blessings to Esha, our love and protection with her always.

Sri Aurobindo

*

17.5.35

Esha,

Always remember me as I will always remember you.

My love and blessings will always be with you.

Sri Aurobindo

Dear little Esha,

I have received all the nice things you sent me; the saree and the cloth for the blouse, the slippers and the frame—they are all so very pretty.

Hoping you are quite in good health and happy.

Our love and blessings are always with you.

The Mother

*

[The following letters were written in Bengali by Sri Aurobindo. They have been translated by the late Arabinda Basu.]

10.5.35

Esha

It isn’t necessary that one should leave home in order to call the Mother. One can do it remaining at home. Besides, the Mother doesn’t like what you want to do in this connection. Because you are very young, you’ll not be able to do it but you’ll only suffer. And the Mother doesn’t want that you should suffer in any way.

No, it’s much better that you remember the Mother within you, call her, in all circumstances, whether happy or unhappy, pray for her nearness, her help, her protection.

If you do that, then everything will be achieved.

Sri Aurobindo

*

13.5.35

Esha

I don’t know when you’ll be able to come again—perhaps your father won’t let you return so soon, don’t be sad about it. Remember the Mother always, she will be always with you. Let this firm faith be awake in you that she is always with you and protecting you. You will try for three months, and if there are no results after that you will give up: that’s not right. The main thing is: remember her and call her, however long it may take; as you go on doing it, you will become conscious, feel that she is with you, and also see her.

Sri Aurobindo

 *

14.5.35

Esha

I am replying to your letter in Bengali. From now on I will do so. It is difficult to say what will happen in the future, but I hope that circumstances will be such that you will be able to come back to have darshan before long. Till then remember us and wait. The closer our inner relation becomes, the greater will be the possibility of your life being fulfilled.

Sri Aurobindo

*

17.5.35

Esha

It is better for you not to go to a house where no one calls the Divine. But if you are sent there, even then call the Mother. If you can’t do it any other way, do as you do now, silently in your mind—in such a way that nobody will understand or know. Then you will get the result of your calling the Mother.

Sri Aurobindo

*

17.5.35

Esha

Why have you written that we’re annoyed with you? We never were nor are we now angry with you, there is no reason for annoyance, you haven’t done anything wrong.

Did you not get my letter yesterday morning? I certainly wrote to you about our love, also that you would attain union with us. Anyway, I’m writing the same thing again, we love you very much and that love will always remain unimpaired. Don’t be sad or give any quarter to hopelessness in your mind. Foster this firm faith always in the mind—“I shall certainly attain union with the Mother and Sri Aurobindo, shall have the vision of them even though I stay far from them.” Remember us always. Those who do so achieve unity with us, you’ll also do the same. And if you do this, it is very likely that there’ll be such a combination of circumstances that you’ll be able to come here and have our darshan. Come tomorrow definitely and see the Mother.

Sri Aurobindo

*

Esha

I could not reply to your letter because till now I had work all day every day. It is the same even now, but there is a little respite today, it being a Sunday; that is why I am writing a few lines.

Why do you feel sad if you think of us or see us in dreams? It should be a matter of joy that the Mother came to you in a dream. Don’t allow yourself to be sad, because you will not see us now. Remain calm, believing that the Mother is remembering you, loving you, is near you always; wait for the right moment; what obstacles are there now will not be there always.

Remember the Mother at all times, rely on her. If there is constant remembrance, one day you will see her, see her within yourself too.

Sri Aurobindo

*

Esha

Look, if I see you, will anybody else spare me? Won’t they say, “You have seen Esha and you can’t see us? What is this arrangement? Why this injustice? Aren’t we also human beings?” And then when one hundred and fifty people will come crowding on to me, what will be my fate? Just think about it and tell me.

I have to write a long letter in Bengali? Have I got that capacity or the time? I am at the end of my tether trying to write this small one, the night also is over. All right, this time I have somehow written in Bengali, but I warn you that I shall not be able to do such an exercise again.

Sri Aurobindo

*

28.5.35

Esha

I have got three letters from you, but as I was busy with many things I couldn’t answer them—today I am answering all the three together. It was known that it wouldn’t be possible for you to come for darshan this time, it can’t be easy to come twice within this short time. Don’t be sorry, remain calm and remember the Mother, gather faith and strength within. You are a child of the Divine Mother, be tranquil, calm and full of force. There is no special procedure. To take the name of the Mother, to remember her within, to pray to her, all this may be described as calling the Mother. As it comes from within you, you have to call her accordingly. You can do also this—shutting your eyes you can imagine that the Mother is in front of you or you can sketch a picture of her in your mind and offer her your pranam, that obeisance will reach her. When you’ve time, you can meditate on her with the thinking attitude that she is with you, she’s sitting in front of you. Doing these things people at last get to see her. Accept my blessings, I send the Mother’s blessings also at the same time. From time to time Jyotirmoyee will take blessing flowers during pranam and send them to you.

Sri Aurobindo

*

16.6.35

Esha

I’ve got your two letters. Remember what I wrote to you when you were here and remember the Mother with a calm mind, call her. At the beginning one sees the Mother by shutting one’s eyes, can hear her words within oneself, but even that does not happen easily. Man sees the external form, hears external words and sounds—only what he sees and hears with his outer senses, that alone he sees and hears. To see or hear anything else is difficult for him, but the capacity for inner vision and hearing has to be opened, one has to try for it, it takes time. If it doesn’t happen in the beginning, don’t be sad. The Mother will always love you and remember you, one day you will have her vision and hear her voice. Don’t be sorry, invoke the Mother’s peace and force within you, you will feel her nearness by that.

Sri Aurobindo

*

Sri Aurobindo's letter to Esha

4.8.35

Esha

No, why should we be angry with you? I was very busy, there was no time to write. Even now I am indeed very busy because it is a darshan month. This time many people are coming for darshan. I hope your health will be better than it is now. You have written that you will go to Ranchi. When will you go and for how long will you stay there?

Don’t be anxious or sad because of the present condition. Remain calm and content, relying entirely on the Mother, wait for better times. One day you will certainly see her. Those who rely on her firmly and call her, they reach her at the end. There may be obstacles and many upsets in life in this world, it may take time, but even then they will achieve nearness to the Mother.

Sri Aurobindo

 *

Esha

I haven’t been able to write to you for a long time. I wanted to but couldn’t manage. This time more than seven hundred people have come for darshan—many came long before the 15th, many have stayed on even after that day till today, now they are departing. That is why there was a great deal of additional work. The Ashram work also increased a lot. It could not be finished in spite of working all day and night. That is why I couldn’t write to anyone outside. Now it has eased a bit, I can therefore write this letter. But the decrease in work is very little. I still have a good deal of necessary work, can’t finish it, can’t make time yet.

I can’t understand why you haven’t received Jyotirmoyee’s letter and the flower sent by her… but you may have perhaps received the letter sent meanwhile, she must have given her own explanation.

I hope you are well. Even if you can’t get fixed times to call the Mother, call her always and try to offer all your life and all your work to her.

Sri Aurobindo

*

Sri Aurobindo's letter to Esha 2

26.12.35

Esha

I haven’t been able to write to you though I wanted to. Work doesn’t become less, in fact there is always more of it,— if there is less work of one kind, others pile up. While I’m trying to finish all this the night gets over; after that there is no time left to write letters (to anyone) outside the Ashram. It’s the same today also, still I’m writing.

I see that both you and your mother have been very ill. I hope this won’t happen again and all that has come to an end. This has happened in many places, here and also in the case of many sadhaks in Bengal. It hasn’t been easy to control the situation and bring it to an end.

No, I am not angry with you, why should I be? Our love for you is undiminished, it will always remain so.

There is no time to write anything more, I shall do so later. Accept our blessings.

Sri Aurobindo

Love and blessings to my dear little Esha.

The Mother

*

(The following two letters were written by Esha to the Mother in Bengali. Sri Aurobindo had replied to them in English.)

(1)

My own Mother,

I was very happy to receive your letter. Mother, can I take the two castors from M? For, plenty of ants come to the place where I offer flowers before your photo and Sri Aurobindo’s. If I can have those two castors then I can fill them with water and place the table on them. The flowers will thus be safe from the ants.

Sri Aurobindo: Yes, you can take them.

Mother, yesterday I received a book from Nolini-da. Its name is The Ashram and the Teachings of Sri Aurobindo. In that book there are pictures of you and Sri Aurobindo as well as of the Ashram. I shall get the pictures of both of you framed. To whom shall I give them? I will do as you advise.

Please reply to my letter.

    Yours

Esha

Sri Aurobindo: You can get them framed by Biren.

(2)

Mamma,

I was very happy to receive Sri Aurobindo’s letter. Can I come to see you upstairs? I hope you have received my mother’s letter. Can Manu come to the music? I like music very much. My pranams to both of you.

Esha

 Sri Aurobindo: Yes, you can come. Manu will come with Nolina.

*

                     Anurag Banerjee with the late Esha Mukherjee in August 2007.
OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA
Anurag Banerjee with the late Dolly Mutsuddi and Esha Mukherjee in August 2010.

[1] Dilip Kumar Roy, Among the Great, p. 87-88, All India Books, 1984.

[2] Nirodbaran, “An Extraordinary Girl”, p. 46, Sri Mira Trust, 1995.

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11 Comments

  1. Prithwindra Mukherjee said,

    March 17, 2013 at 8:23 am

    In 1955, when the Mother directed the dance drama “Spiritual Evolution of India”, during the rehearsals, one day, Esha-di entered a state of trance while dancing and fell down. We were just sitting near-by, singing with Tinkari-da’s group. It impresssed us a good deal.
    Prithwindra Mukherjee

  2. Prema Nandakumar said,

    March 17, 2013 at 9:04 am

    To read about Esha Mukherjee was to go back to the personality and writings of DIlip Kumar Roy. Thank you for the posting which drew me into the Krishna world again: a world where bhakti is the Ruler and the Ruled.

  3. Dayanand said,

    March 17, 2013 at 11:02 am

    An era seems to have come to an end with Eshadi leaving her body……a glorious life given to a few to live

  4. Donna Osborn said,

    March 17, 2013 at 11:38 am

    Thank you for telling Eshadi’s heartfelt story and sharing her beautiful pictures.

  5. Nileen Putatundu said,

    March 18, 2013 at 7:11 am

    Dear Anurag,

    Absolutely fascinating! you deserve GREAT praise for this effort. Esha-mashi, Sri Aurobindo, the Mother and God Almighty will all bless you.

    May you keep up the great work.

    Love,
    Nileen

  6. Aju Mukhopadhyay said,

    March 18, 2013 at 7:12 am

    For constantly publishing such articles and bestowing information to keep alive the tradition and continuity of the community the Overmanfoundation and Anurag Banerjee deserve our gratitude and thanks. Nirodbaran wrote series of articles and a book on her, we remember.
    Aju Mukhopadhyay

  7. March 19, 2013 at 9:04 am

    Reblogged this on The Mother's Lasso.

  8. Bikash Rath said,

    March 19, 2013 at 11:02 am

    An innocent wonder ! Such personalities help mainstream high spirituality in the worldly life.

    Thanks for this important sharing. Is the book available in English? If so, how can I get that?

  9. Nilkanth Desai said,

    March 21, 2013 at 2:16 pm

    Dear Anurag ,

    Thank you ! I felt the presence of Sri Aurobindo and The Mother reading this article . Please keep up your good work .

  10. Ujjwal Kr. Bose said,

    May 21, 2013 at 6:34 am

    Wholehearted thanks to Mr. Banerjee for his such wonderful effort to introduce us to Late Eshadi.

  11. Snehalatha. S said,

    February 3, 2015 at 8:11 am

    Great!! How affectionate Sri Aurobindo is! My Dear Father! Pranams at your lotus feet! Pranams to the Divine Mother and Esha di!


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