Nolini Kanto Sarkar: A Pictorial Homage

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Dear Friends,

Nolini Kanto Sarkar (28.9.1889—18.5.1984) was a reputed writer, journalist and singer of humourous songs in Bengali who was closely associated with the magazine Bijoli, edited by Barindra Kumar Ghose (Sri Aurobindo’s younger brother). A lifelong follower and devotee of Sri Aurobindo, he visited Pondicherry with Hrishikesh Kanjilal (noted revolutionary who had spent a year with Sri Aurobindo in Alipore Jail) in 1921 to meet Sri Aurobindo. Recalling the memories of his first meeting with Sri Aurobindo and the subsequent events Nolini Kanto writes:

‘The first impression I had of Sri Aurobindo was of a very simple man, a little dark, of medium build, with long hair, beard and moustache. He had a very calm, soothing expression on his face and his great, bright eyes always seemed to look into the beyond. He was simply dressed in a clean, white dhoti and wore a pair of chappals [slippers]… Soon it was time for the midday meal. The dishes were both vegetarian and non-vegetarian. We sat down in two rows with the Mother and Sri Aurobindo and had our lunch. Only, the Mother and Miss Hodgson sat a little apart because they were vegetarian. Naturally I was a little surprised because I thought that in Europe everybody ate meat. But then I learnt that even when she was in France, the Mother did not touch meat or fish. After lunch I rested for a while. But all the time I felt the presence of Sri Aurobindo in my heart like an indwelling god. It was a most wonderful experience… Every afternoon tea was served at four o’clock. Sri Aurobindo then met the disciples on the first floor verandah and talked to them for some time. He sat on a chair on one side of a table and the disciples sat facing him, also on chairs. Only the Mother sat on the floor at his feet. On that very first day, he asked me a few questions about ordinary, personal matters, but I felt as though he had accepted me.’ (Between The Arrival and The Departure, Mother India, November 2004; translated by Aniruddha Sircar from the original book Asa Jawar Majkhane).

Nolini Kanto had expressed to Barindra Kumar Ghose his desire to be initiated by Sri Aurobindo. A few days later, Nolini Kanto was informed by Barindra that Sri Aurobindo had asked him to stay in his room in the evening. Accordingly Nolini Kanto stayed back in his room and as he was pondering over the possibilities of Sri Aurobindo’s coming to his room for initiation, he had a strange but unique experience. His mind had become tranquil and he was absolutely lost to himself. He realized that Sri Aurobindo had initiated him by transmitting His spiritual force to Nolini Kanto and accepted him as a disciple.

In 1927 Nolini Kanto joined the Indian Broadcasting Company as a singer. This company was taken over by the Government of India in April 1930 and renamed Indian State Broadcasting Service. A year later when it decided to launch a fortnightly journal named Betar Jagat, Nolini Kanto was made its editor. In 1944 he expressed to Nolini Kanta Gupta his desire to join Sri Aurobindo Ashram as an inmate. When his request was conveyed to the Mother, she asked Sri Aurobindo: “Who is this Nalini Sarkar?” Sri Aurobindo replied: “He is my old disciple.” Nolini Kanto finally settled in the Ashram as a permanent inmate in 1948 with his wife Shanti and two daughters, Gitika and Bakul. He worked in the Ashram Press where he corrected the proofs of books published in Bengali. Later he taught Bengali to the students of ‘Knowledge’. Known for his extraordinary sense of humour, he was also the author of well-known books like Dada Thakur, Shraddhaspodeshu, Hashir Antarale, Asa Jawar Majkhane and Kanchantalar Cup.

28 September 2014 marks the 125th Birth Anniversary of Nolini Kanto Sarkar. As our humble homage to him, some of his photographs have been published in the online forum of Overman Foundation. We are extremely thankful and grateful to Smt. Bakul Sarkar, youngest daughter of Nolini Kanta Sarkar, for gifting the said photographs and the birthday card Nolini Kanta had received from the Mother on his 80th birthday to Overman Foundation.

With warm regards,
Anurag Banerjee
Founder,
Overman Foundation.

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2Nolini Kanto [seated at the back with his youngest daughter Bakul], Nazrul Islam, Barada Charan Mazumdar, Upendranath Banerjee and Dilip Kumar Roy.

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4Nolini Kanto with “Dada Thakur” Sarat Chandra Pandit.

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6Nolini Kanto with Sahana Devi; seated in front his daughters Gitika and Bakul.

7Nolini Kanto with his daughters Gitika and Bakul.

8Nolini Kanto with noted Bengali authoress Nabanita Devsen.

9Nolini Kanto with his daughters Gitika and Bakul.

10Nolini Kanto with Gopal Das Mazumdar, proprietor of D.M. Library.

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11.5Nolini Kanto with Nishikanto Roychowdhury.

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14Nolini Kanto with his eldest daughter Gitika and a relative.

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Sri Aurobindo As We Saw Him: A Review by Dr. Prema Nandakumar

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 you take up a many-faceted diamond, it becomes very difficult to describe the features. All we can say is, it is brilliant. So it has been with Sri Aurobindo. In sheer desperation, Amal Kiran had opened his book on The Poetic Genius of Sri Aurobindo thus:

“How shall we crown Sri Aurobindo? Is he greater as a Yogi than as a philosopher? Does the literary critic in him outtop the sociological thinker? Does he shine brighter as a politician or as a poet? It is difficult to decide. Everywhere Mount Everest seems to face Mount Everest.”

Being a poet himself , K.D. Sethna prioritises Sri Aurobindo the poet. And that is exactly what happens with each of the authors in this very welcome anthology. Anurag began his interviews in 2007 and it was not a minute too soon! Going through this fascinating collection, it is interesting how the disciple’s personality is reflected in his/her approach to Sri Aurobindo. Even more fascinating are the brief biographical notes on the interviewees. They come from varied background situations, some because of their parents, others because of a chance meeting with a devotee or an article.

The pride of place in this collection has gone to Noren Singh and Suprabha Nahar. Their father, Prithwi Singh Nahar who started the Ashram’s Publication department is a legend. Indeed, the entire Nahar family dedicated itself to the Mother and the work of Sri Aurobindo. Other names that we have known for a long time who speak to Anurag here include Pranab Kumar Bhattacharya, Arabinda Basu, Aster Patel and Prithwindra Mukherjee. Going through the pages carefully we realize why Sri Aurobindo assured us that all life is yoga. From Kiran Kumari we learn that her sadhana obviously included repairing stoves and typewriters. We also learn that Sri Aurobindo’s voice was ‘soft and sweet’.

Was it all absolutely heavenly in the Ashram, as for instance, we find in the House of New Creation in Savitri? Obviously not. There were arrivals and departures, short-sighted statements, deliberate misrepresentations, the injudicious dance of human ego. This is what makes the Ashram life natural; after all, this was a laboratory of the future in the making!

Expectedly, there is more of “Mother as we saw Her” than of Sri Aurobindo. This too is understandable for he was in seclusion, busy with his yoga and communing with his disciples through letters. Yet, there are many here who give us a fine picture of the Master to draw us closer to Sri Aurobindo’s personality.Though it was the Mother whom they saw often, Sri Aurobindo’s presence was inescapable, says Aster Patel:

“And the essence of Sri Aurobindo’s presence was very strong…His presence was there. One was not – I must say – overawed; one was completely at ease. That’s like – this is home.”

If almost all those speaking here come from traditional and not unoften idealistic households, Prithwindra’s legacy is certainly enviable. For he is a grandson of Bagha Jatin and himself a great achiever. The poet in him overflows his answers to Anurag’s pointed questions. The Ashram of those days?

“Spontaneous simplicity and beauty reigned everywhere like an aura from the Mother. She seemed to stand there to cure men and women from a long ugliness prevailing in colonized India externally and morally. People were happy in that healthy atmosphere of freedom, to serve Her, to love Her, to receive Her blessings.”

Can you describe the happiness of Brindavan days when the Lord came down to be one among the cowherds? We see Sri Aurobindo and the Mother as a brilliant haze watched through the shimmering veils of memory in the hearts of devotees, always a delightful experience. Anurag does bravely try to get some solid material, by his questions but they keep their distance like the Supermind!

Anurag: Do you know when would They return?
Jhumur: There is no deadline as such.

Anurag: Do you meet the Mother and Sri Aurobindo in the subtle physical?
Aniruddha Sircar: Not to my knowledge.

There lies the charm of this book. No two answers are alike. This experience of living in the presence of the Mother and Sri Aurobindo was certainly an extraordinary one and contained continents. For the interviewees in this book, it is a continuing experience. Perhaps Anurag’s persistence to know when Sri Aurobindo and the Mother would return gets answered silently. Where is the question of a return? They are already here! Strong, heroic souls all, these twenty-seven stars shed the Aurobindonian light for us as a clear statement of faith.

How can we have anything of Sri Aurobindo and the Mother without a touch of humour? That is provided by Lata when she describes her father’s argument with the airlines officials when he was coming to Pondicherry. No, I am not going to recount it. You will understand the real strength of the Aurobindonain movement in page 169!

Prema Nandakumar

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About the Reviewer: Dr. Prema Nandakumar (b: 1939) is a famous independent researcher, translator, critic and authoress who writes in Tamil and English. She was the first to submit the thesis of doctoral degree in Savitri (Sri Aurobindo’e epic poem) in Andhra University. It was published as A Study of Savitri in 1962. Her post-doctoral work has been published as Dante and Sri Aurobindo in 1981. She has authored about twenty-five books in English and Tamil. She is a recipient of several awards which include the ‘Sri Aurobindo Puraskar’ and ‘Panditha Ratna’. She has been a member of the Academic Council, Central Institute of Higha Tibetan Studies, Sarnath, Varanasi (1988-91); Member, Board of Studies in English, Andhra University, Waltair; Manba, National Executive of The Indian P.E.N., Senate member of Bharathidasan University and Visiting Professor, Swami Vivekananda Chair, Mahatma Gandhi University. Her published works include titles like A Study of Savitri, The Glory and the Good, Dante and Sri Aurobindo, Subramania Bharati, Sri Aurobindo: A Critical Introduction, The Mother of Sri Aurobindo Ashram, etc.

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The Mother: The Birth and Growth of a Flame: A Review by Dr. Prema Nandakumar

the-mother-cover

Title: The Mother: The Birth and Growth of a Flame. Author: Anurag Banerjee. Publisher: Overman Foundation, Kolkata. Number of pages: 362. Price: Rs. 475.

Dr.Ananda Reddy’s foreword says it all. Anurag Banerjee has been blessed with a lambent faith in the Mother and Sri Aurobindo. The rest comes easy. It is true there can be no ‘biography’ of spiritual braziers like the Mother and Sri Aurobindo. And yet biographies do get written. Some assume the critical god and affect the nod to make their pronouncements by holding on to trivialities in the lives of the great. But trivial minds wear their trivial glasses and observe as relevant as the human beings described by the King of Brobdingnag: “The most pernicious race of little odious vermin that nature ever suffered to crawl upon the surface of the earth.” They are but a handful: let us forget them and take up the work of sincere biographers who want to do the right thing in projecting great personalities as inspirations for the future.

The Mother’s life may not have been lived on the surface, but what others saw and noted of the surface life itself is an amazing experience, as observed by Anurag when he read books on and by the Mother. The title itself is appropriately from Savitri. It is fascinating to know that she was “scolded all the time” as most of us are, as the parents and other elders try to sculpt girls fit into the stereo-type of an organized, conforming, genteel lady. For instance, Mirra was ill-at-ease with religion, and this is usually frowned upon by a family. For her, all this did not matter because she could experience the god within, the antaryami:

“..it is a marvelous, marvellous grace to have had this experience so constantly, so powerfully, like something holding out against everything, everything: this Presence. And in my outward consciousness, a total negation of it all.”

Based heavily on Mother’s Agenda and Mother’s Chronicles, The Mother: The Birth and Growth of a Flame opens gradually like a flower from Mirra Alfassa to Mirra Morriset and Mirra Richard. With Paul Richard leaving Pondicherry, a new age began for Mira (the spelling was changed by Mrinalini Chattopadhyaya) as the Mother of the Sri Aurobindo Ashram. There is a seamless flow in all this, with each page replete with information that would be new to many of the readers. Anurag makes it a point to mention why and how Paul Richard broke away from Mirra. The major upset seems to have been due to the Mother’s brief article in Prabartak edited by Motilal Roy where she says:

“As soon as I saw Sri Aurobindo I recognized him the well known being whom I used to call Krishna … And this is enough to explain why I am fully convinced that my place and my work are near him, in India.”

The Motilal Roy episode focuses on the many problems and inner rebellions that clouded the minds of many disciples in the ‘twenties. Acceptance of Mira as the Mother was not easy for them. Time alone could reveal the continuous re-configurations of Prakriti. Should there be a revelation? There is an Indian proverb which asks us not to go in search of the origins of a rishi and a river. In religion and spirituality faith ought to remain supreme, for unbelief will destroy the foundations of human sanity. Not “I think, therefore I am” but “I believe, therefore I am” is the best answer. Three hundred and thirty-four pages after, still Anurag has no answer for “who was the Mother after all?” Wisely, he turns to Savitri: “The magnet of our difficult ascent!”

It is good for ageing bodies like mine to know that the younger generation is taking such serious and quality-strong interest in Indian heritage in general and in Sri Aurobindo in particular. Asking the right questions at the right time and desisting from wilful dissection are marks of a good disciple. Anurag has them which makes me happy.

Have I nothing to carp upon? Ah yes. I wish he published books in a format that would make them easy to handle and carry around in these days when books have become our inevitable companions in travel.

Prema Nandakumar

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About the Reviewer: Dr. Prema Nandakumar (b: 1939) is a famous independent researcher, translator, critic and authoress who writes in Tamil and English. She was the first to submit the thesis of doctoral degree in Savitri (Sri Aurobindo’e epic poem) in Andhra University. It was published as A Study of Savitri in 1962. Her post-doctoral work has been published as Dante and Sri Aurobindo in 1981. She has authored about twenty-five books in English and Tamil. She is a recipient of several awards which include the ‘Sri Aurobindo Puraskar’ and ‘Panditha Ratna’. She has been a member of the Academic Council, Central Institute of Higha Tibetan Studies, Sarnath, Varanasi (1988-91); Member, Board of Studies in English, Andhra University, Waltair; Manba, National Executive of The Indian P.E.N., Senate member of Bharathidasan University and Visiting Professor, Swami Vivekananda Chair, Mahatma Gandhi University. Her published works include titles like A Study of Savitri, The Glory and the Good, Dante and Sri Aurobindo, Subramania Bharati, Sri Aurobindo: A Critical Introduction, The Mother of Sri Aurobindo Ashram, etc.

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The Passing of Dr. Kireet Joshi

kireet joshi

Dear Friends,

With the demise of Dr. Kireet Joshi on Sunday, 14 September 2014, at 5 a.m. the Aurobindonian firmament has lost one of its brightest stars. Born on 10 August 1931, he studied philosophy and law at the Elphinstone College under the University of Bombay. In 1952 at the suggestion of Prof. Chubb he met K.D. Sethna alias Amal Kiran at Bombay at the latter’s residence. The interview with Amal Kiran which lasted for more than an hour made young Kireet Joshi feel ‘greatly widened’ and ‘deeply happy’ (to quote his own words) and he began to regard Amal Kiran as his first teacher in regards to the teaching of the Mother and Sri Aurobindo.

In 1953 Kireet Joshi was awarded a gold medal and the Vedanta Prize for topping the Master of Arts examination. In 1955 he was selected for the I.A.S. and in the following year he was posted as Assistant Collector of Surat. However, in November 1956 he resigned from his services to join Sri Aurobindo Ashram at Pondicherry as an inmate. In 1958 he was made the first Registrar of Sri Aurobindo International Centre of Education where he taught philosophy and psychology to the students of the Higher Course. Under the guidance of the Mother, he took part in several educational experiments which included the Free Progress System. He authored educational materials based on Sri Aurobindo’s The Ideal of Human Unity and The Human Cycle and conducted studies on The Life Divine and The Synthesis of Yoga as well. To share the results of his extensive research on a larger scale, he had organized numerous seminars and symposiums. It was also due to his efforts that Sri Aurobindo Ashram was recognized as a Research Institution by the Government of India and exemptions under Sections 35 (i) and (ii) were provided to it.

1976 was a significant year in the life of Kireet Joshi. A greater Call came to him from the outside world in the form of an invitation from Indira Gandhi, the then Prime Minister of India, who, being well-aware of his competence in the field of education, made him the Educational Adviser in the Ministry of Education. In that very year, he was appointed Member-Secretary of the National Committee on Viswa Bharati under the Chairmanship of Dr. K.L. Shrimali. He not only redesigned and redrafted the Bill for Viswa Bharati University but also developed the ideas as well as the Bills of Pondicherry University and Indira Gandhi National Open University. Also in 1976 he was made a Member of the Central Advisory Board of Education, a post which he occupied till 1988. In 1976 he was elected as Vice-President of International Commission on Education at Geneva for a period of two years.

In 1981 Kireet Joshi was appointed as the Secretary of Auroville International Advisory Council. He also played a pivotal role in the establishment of Sri Aurobindo International Centre of Educational Research at Auroville. In 1999 he was appointed as the Chairman of Auroville Foundation, a post he occupied till 2004.

Also in 1981 Kireet Joshi was made a Member of the University Grants Commission, a post he adorned till 1990. During the tenure of his membership, he rendered outstanding contributions towards the development of new methodologies of education in the tertiary system. He conceptualized autonomous colleges and proposed several innovations with the view of providing cultural understanding and spiritual values through aesthetic studies and also promoted the concept of value-based system of management.

In 1982 Kireet Joshi was made the Member-Secretary of National Commission for Teachers (for school education) and National Commission for Teachers (for higher education). He played a significant role in the creation of Indian Council of Philosophical Research which was established to promote Indian philosophical traditions. For a number of years he served the organization as the Member-Secretary and from 2000 to 2006 he functioned as the Chairman of the said organization. He also developed Rashtriya Veda Vidya Pratisthan and served as its Founder-Member and Secretary. From 1983 to 1989 he was a Member of the Executive Board of the Institute of Advanced Studies at Shimla. He represented India as a delegate in the conferences of UNESCO organized in 1976, 1980, 1984, 1985 and 1988, chaired the UNESCO Committee on International Education from 1983 to 1987 and was also the Vice-Chairman of the UNESCO Institute of Education (Hamburg) from 1986 to 1990.

In 1983 Kireet Joshi was appointed as the Special Secretary to the Indian Government in the capacity of which he organized several programmes related to the various aspects of higher education, youth services, language development and UNESCO affairs. In 1987 he conceptualized the International Hindi University at Wardha to develop and promote studies in Hindi both at the national and international levels. As the Vice-Chairman of Rashtriya Sanskrit Sansthan he guided the activities of the organization in the field of Sanskrit and also developed schemes for the promotion of Sanskrit studies in various Indian universities. Not only did he frame the constitutions of Sri Lal Bahadur Shastri Rashtriya Sanskrit Vidyapeetha at New Delhi and Rashtriya Sanskrit Vidyapeetha at Tirupathi but also worked to provide the status of deemed universities to both the institutions. From 2006 to 2008 he was the Editorial Fellow of the Project of History of Indian Science, Philosophy and Culture.

In 2008 Kireet Joshi was appointed as the Educational Advisor to the Chief Minister of Gujarat and he adorned the post for two years. In 2009 he was appointed as the first Executive Chairman of the Gujarat Educational Innovations Commission.

Kireet Joshi was associated with The Mother’s Institute of Research from 1977 to 2001 as the Managing Trustee and had undertaken the task of translating the thirteen volumes of Mother’s Agenda into various regional Indian languages. He was also quite close to Satprem and Sujata Nahar. It was to Kireet Joshi that Satprem had sent a note in 2006 in which the latter had written: ‘Je suis arrivé au bout’ (‘I have reached the goal’).

As a pioneer in the field of value-based education, recognitions and awards poured on Kireet Joshi. In 1989 he received an award from the Indian Council for Child Education for his invaluable contribution in the field of child education. In that very year he received the National Citizen’s Award. In 1996 Rashtriya Sanskrit Vidyapeetha conferred upon him the degree of D.Litt. In the following year he received the Sewa Ratna Award.

Kireet Joshi was also a prolific writer whose published works cover a vast variety of themes including education, Indian culture, philosophy, spirituality and integral yoga. His notable works include titles like Sri Aurobindo and the Mother, Sri Aurobindo and the Integral Yoga, The New Synthesis of Yoga, Varieties of Yogic Experience and Integral Realisation, Significance of Indian Yoga, Synthesis of Yoga in the Veda, Synthesis of Yoga in the Upanishads, The Gita and its Synthesis of Yoga, Integral Yoga: An Outline of Major Aims, Processes, Methods and Results, Integral Yoga of Transformation: Psychic, Spiritual and Supramental, Supermind in Integral Yoga, Integral Yoga and Evolutionary Mutation, Integral Yoga, Evolution and the Next Species, Bhagavadagita and Contemporary Crisis, A Philosophy of the Role of the Contemporary Teacher, A Philosophy of the Education for the Contemporary Youth, A Philosophy of the Evolution for the Contemporary Man, Philosophy and Yoga of Sri Aurobindo and Other Essays, Philosophy of Value Oriented Education: Theory and Practice, Philosophy of Supermind and Contemporary Crisis, Philosophy of Indian Art, On Materialism, Towards A New Social Order, The Veda and Indian Culture, Glimpses of Vedic Literature, Landmarks of Hinduism, The Portals of Vedic Knowledge, Indian Identity and Cultural Continuity, Education at Crossroads, A National Agenda for Education, Education for Tomorrow, Education for Character Development, Innovations in Education, Indian Pedagogy and Towards A New Curriculum to name a few.

A few years ago Kireet Joshi returned to Pondicherry where he stayed at ‘Care Nursing Home’. This home-coming did not imply that he retired; on the contrary, he continued to guide scholars on themes related to ‘Science and Spirituality’ and ‘Spiritual Education’. He was the living example of the Sanskrit shloka: vidya dadati vinayam. He was always approachable and he encouraged youngsters to work on Sri Aurobindo’s philosophy. The present author fondly recalls how he had taken an avid interest in the former’s booklet Sri Aurobindo on Ethics and had asked him to work on a monograph on Sri Aurobindo’s political life. Our organization Overman Foundation was privileged to honour Kireet Joshi with the ‘Auro-Ratna Award’ in August 2011.

Towards the end of his life, Kireet Joshi was diagnosed with throat cancer. A few days ago he was brought to the Ashram Nursing Home where he passed away on Sunday, 14 September 2014, at 5 a.m.

In his tribute to Kireet Joshi, Narendra Modi, the Prime Minister of India, has written: “Saddened by demise of Kireet Joshi. He will be remembered as a fine scholar and educationist, devoted to the principles of Sri Aurobindo. As advisor to Gujarat CM, Kireet Bhai played a key role in setting up of Children’s University and Institute of Teacher Education.”

With the demise of Kireet Joshi the Aurobindonian community has lost the last among the Greats. The emptiness created by his death is irreparable.

With warm regards,
Anurag Banerjee
Founder,
Overman Foundation.

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1Kireet Joshi with Nolini Kanta Gupta, Udar Pinto, Sisir Kumar Mitra at “Knowledge”, the Higher Course of Sri Aurobindo International Centre of Education.

2Kireet Joshi with André Morisset (the Mother’s son), Udar Pinto, Sisir Kumar Mitra and Indira Gandhi on 12 December 1972.

3Kireet Joshi with Kalyan Chaudhuri, Prapatti, Udar Pinto, Nolini Kanta Gupta, André Morisset and Shyam Sunder Jhunjhunwala at the inauguration of “Sri Aurobindo’s Action” in July 1970.

4Kireet Joshi with Udar Pinto.

5Kireet Joshi with Udar Pinto, Prapatti and Babaji at the Orissa Centenary Conference.

6Kireet Joshi with Dr. Karan Singh and his wife, Udar Pinto, Charupada Bhattacharya, Nolini Kanta Gupta, Sisir Kumar Mitra and Arabinda Basu.

7Kireet Joshi with Udar Pinto and Indira Gandhi at the Dining Room of Sri Aurobindo Ashram on 17 February 1974.

8Kireet Joshi and Udar Pinto with Madam Jivkova, Minister for Cultural Affairs, Bulgaria.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAKireet Joshi with Ratna Chakravarti at the second “Auro-Ratna Award” ceremony in August 2011.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAKireet Joshi receiving the trophy of “Auro-Ratna Award” from Krishna Chakravarti and Prof. Kittu Reddy.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAKireet Joshi receiving the certificate of “Auro-Ratna Award” from Suprabha Nahar and Dr. Ananda Reddy.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAKireet Joshi with Jhumur Bhattacharya, the in-charge of “Knowledge”.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAKireet Joshi with Dr. Ananda Reddy and Raman Reddy.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAKireet Joshi with Anurag Banerjee.

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A Review of Japasūtram

Japasutram

Author: Swami Pratyagatmanda Saraswati (translated into English by Prof. S.N. Roy). Number of pages: 300. Price: Rs. 350. Distributor: Overman Foundation, Kolkata.

Dear Friends,

The book Japasūtram: The Science of Creative Sound (authored by Swami Pratyagatmanda Saraswati (translated into English by Prof. S.N. Roy) begins in a discursive and dramatic way, and in a manner which seems to be inclined to metaphorical and pictorial thinking. The present small book tells especially of vak and prana, of varnamala or the Creative Exponents, of nada, bindu, kala and ardhamatra, in very general terms. This may stimulate an interest for a closer and deeper study as amplified and illustrated in Japasūtram.

To enable the reader to understand better the theme of Japasūtram, a review of the original work in Bengali has been published in the online forum of Overman Foundation. This review was published in the November 1953 issue of The Advent, the quarterly journal published by Sri Aurobindo Ashram, Pondicherry.

With warm regards,
Anurag Banerjee
Founder,
Overman Foundation.

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Japa or recitation of words or sounds which have special potency has been regarded as a great aid to spiritual sadhana in all countries and all ages, but nowhere has it been turned to such a scientific and efficient means as in the Tantric system of India. But though it is practised widely, its mystery is not generally known and it is more often than not practised blindly and mechanically with no result. The book under review has gone a long way in removing this veil and showing the true nature of japa and the secret of its efficiency. The former name of the author was Professor Pramathanath Mukherjee and he was a co-worker of Sri Aurobindo in the field of education. In research work in the great system of Tantric sadhana his co-operation with the late Sir John Woodroffe is well-known. He wrote many articles and books on Veda and Tantra and philosophy, but he has poured all his knowledge and spiritual experience into this work, his magnum opus. The main book is written in Sanskrit verses; like the famous Vedanta Sutras it has four chapters, and each chapter has four sections. The book is vast and only the first two parts have been published which however enable the readers to understand the main principles of Tantric sadhana and realise that behind all the symbols and rites of the Hindu religion there are deep spiritual truths. Sri Aurobindo said about the Hindu religion in his famous Uttarpara Speech, “This is the one religion that can triumph over materialism by including and anticipating the discoveries of science and the speculations of philosophy.” The truth of this great saying has been proved in this book in detail. The author himself has prepared a Sanskrit commentary on his Sutras and translated it into Bengali. In all there are more than five hundred Sutras and the elucidating verses are about two thousand in number. Most of the technical terms we find in Indian spiritual books have been explained here, and in this way the book has greatly enriched the Bengali language by providing apt words for scientific and philosophical concepts. This is possible only for a man of his vast erudition and life-long spiritual sadhana.

In the beginning there was the Word, says the Bible. Thus sound is the beginning of all creation, and it follows that a proper manipulation of sound values can be utilised for all creative activities. Their efficiency in music and poetry is well-known. Not only the significance of the words, but the sound vibrations contribute to the rasa or ananda as well as the illumination which these arts bring to us. When properly used, sound vibrations help us to rise to a higher state of being and consciousness; thus the Upanishad defines japa as abhyāroha or a means of ascent. The Gita says that of all yajnas or sacrifices the Divine is most manifest in japa, yajñānām japa-yajño’smi.

Materialism in its modern form, which arose with the phenomenal advance of Natural Science in the nineteenth century, is on the wane. People everywhere are realising more and more that there is no other solution of the persisting ills of human life than the spiritual. Still there are two great obstacles to the advent of the true spiritual age. On the one hand, the scientific attitude has made men sceptic, and though it is useful in uprooting prejudices and superstitions, it engenders a general habit of doubting spiritual values, specially among the Intelligentsia. On the other hand, those who have faith in spirituality regard mechanical performance of rites and ceremonies and the following of some mental and moral rules and dogmas as the whole of spirituality. Swamiji’s book, it is expected, will help largely in removing both these obstacles. People will understand the inner meaning and significance of symbols and images and profit by using them more intelligently. Also the sceptics will see that the tenets of Hinduism are not mere dogmas or blind beliefs, they are at least as much tested truths as the findings of Science. Not only that, when properly understood they even throw light on problems which are baffling modern scientists.

Everything in the world, says the author, can be considered in three aspects—Kriyā (Action), ākriti (Pattern), daivata (Power). For example, I am seeing an object. The seeing is an action. The special organ by which I am seeing in a definite way is the Pattern. And the power of consciousness which is presiding over the whole action is the daivata (in this case, Aditya, the presiding deity of vision). It is the latter of which material science does not take any account—it has no means of seeing that behind everything and every action in the world there is a presiding deity. The animism of the primitive people has an underlying truth which they saw darkly. Take the case of Radium, its atoms burst spontaneously, this is Action. The arrangement inside and outside the atom an account of which this bursting takes place giving rise to alpha, beeta and gama rays constitute the Pattern. But how this bursting takes place without any external cause such as pressure or heat, science is unable to explain. The Tantric system will attribute it to the third element, the Power or daivata, the presiding deity. By practising japa in the proper manner one can come into direct contact with this deity—it is in this manner that Tantrics can exercise a control over external things and events which is beyond the scope of science. Here is a field of experiment, and those who sincerely seek to know the truth should follow the Tantric discipline and test for themselves its claims which, if established, will widen the power of man over Nature far beyond what has yet been accomplished by Science. “But here also,” says Sri Aurobindo, “the latest trend is highly significant of a freer future. As the outposts of Scientific Knowledge come more and more to be set on the borders that divide the material from the immaterial, so also the highest achievements of practical Science are those which tend to simplify and reduce to the vanishing point the machinery by which the greatest effects are produced. Wireless telegraphy is Nature’s exterior sign and pretext for a new orientation. The sensible physical means for the intermediate transmission of the physical force is removed. It is only preserved at the points of impulsion and reception. Eventually even these must disappear; for when the laws and forces of the supraphysical are studied with the right starting point, the means will infallibly be found for Mind directly to seize on the physical energy and speed it accurately upon its errand. There, once we bring ourselves to recognise it, lie the gates that open upon the enormous vistas of the future.” (The Life Divine, Vol. I, ch. II)

That it is not a mere fancy to expect distant transmission of sounds and messages without the aid of transmitting or receiving sets appears from a consideration of the very nature of Sound. As this deep and subtle knowledge lies at the basis of the practice of japa, we shall give here an abridged translation of what Swamiji has said about it in an introductory essay given at the beginning of the book.

“The Science of japa is essentially a spiritual Science. It has been said that there are three accessories for japa—vak (speech), prana (vital), mana (mind). The action of japa is not performed disregarding the material body. Thus what we regard as gross is the first standing ground for japa. The laws of this material body are therefore not irrelevant to this first stepping place of japa. Japa also requires a special function of the vital force, and in that function there must be symmetry and harmony, just as this is indispensable in music. Unless there is the harmony, the action of japa will not be effective. Take the word Krisna; if it be pronounced as Krisna, as many people do, the dental s and the dental n will not be symmetrical with the guttural ka and also with s and n, and thus instead of harmonic function there will be discordant function.

Japa and for that matter any other action requires these three things for its efficacy—(1) Vidya (correct technique), (2) Sraddha (starting from working belief and interest) and (3) upanisat (grasp of basic principles). For correct technique or vidya we must take the help of Science, and in this respect we cannot ignore the expert knowledge of physical, biological and mental Science. As a matter of fact, science is science whether it be physical or spiritual, and it is wrong to erect an insurmountable wall between the two. Of course only spiritual science can claim to be perfect, but it has to reach this perfection by taking up the knowledge given by the other sciences and integrating them. Japa, taken, as here, in the wider science no doubt belongs to spiritual science, but in many respects it has to obey the laws discovered by the physical sciences. For that the sadhaka of japa need not go to a physical laboratory just as a violinist need not do so—but they have to depend on the knowledge discovered in such laboratories. Of course in spiritual matters the main thing is the deeper flow of power from the spirit or soul, but the surface and external things also cannot be ignored—the entire being of the jiva has to be taken into account.

We find in the Veda that this creation comes from sound, that sound is the origin of this universe. What sort of sound is this? Is it the same sound as we hear by our ear? The sound we hear by our ear depends on several things. First, there must be some disturbance somewhere in the atmosphere. It is something like the ripples created in water when a stone is thrown into it. That disturbance extending like waves has to strike our ear, our auditory nerves and some parts of the brain before our consciousness responds to it and we hear the sound. Again, if the disturbance is too strong or too weak we do not hear any sound. There is a lower limit and an upper limit to the rate of vibration, and unless the vibrations of the air are within these two limits we generally do not hear any sound. Yet as the existence of ultra-violet and infra-red rays outside the range of our vision is proved by science, so the existence also of vibrations beyond audible sounds is proved, and supersonics and ultrasonics are making research in those phenomena. In the formation and dissolution of chemical compounds, in the breaking of atoms, in the control of the subtle activities of the body and the mind, the influence of these subtle vibrations is being increasingly admitted. We cannot hear a sound unless a vibration is carried by the medium of air and strikes our auditory organs and reaches the brain cells. Beside this there is the factor of attention—we do not hear a sound unless our mind is turned towards it.

This rough account of the phenomena of sound shows that the ordinary sound cannot be regarded as the origin of creation. For such sound requires a vibration in air, but where is air before creation? Such sound requires auditory organs and the brain which are non-existent before creation. There is also no mind to pay attention. What we experience as sound came after creation, not before it. What is at the beginning of creation can be called a “primordial causal movement”. From that primal source issue various “lines or streams of effectual manifestation” in various directions. All the forms we see, the sounds we hear, the taste, smell and touch we experience, all the joy and sorrow we feel—are different streams of such manifestation. What was before this primal vibration, whether or how it arose in an infinite silence and immobility, we need not discuss here. It is sufficient to understand that at the source of all our experience is a vibration, spanda, cāñcalya, stressing. The resultant manifestation of this stressing in my consciousness constitutes my knowledge of things. This applies equally to all such manifestations as light, heat, sound. The atoms of some object are vibrating restlessly; ether or some such subtle medium carries that and excites my sense-organs; the response of my consciousness to that stimulus constitutes my experience of heat. We need not have any doubt that at the source of all sense-experience, there is a stir, an agitation.

But apart from the way how we know or feel an object, what is the object in itself? Take this watch, it looks like a solid and stable thing, but at this moment I can break it to pieces, those pieces can be still further divided. So far as chemistry is concerned we stop at the atom which is regarded as indivisible. But that also is not really indivisible, science says that an atom is made up of electrical particles, such as electrons; an atom has a very complicated structure, it is a solar system in miniature. So there is no rest anywhere, movements are going on inside the atom as in the bigger world outside. Where is the end of this activity? What is there inside an electron? Science, even some time ago, dared not conceive anything about it, but wave mechanics has shown that electron is not the last word in the formation of matter. Indeed in explaining the structure of matter, science is using mathematical concepts which are nothing more than symbols or a convenient or conventional way of describing the phenomena observed. This much is certain that at the beginning of creation we arrive at a spanda, a vibration or stressing. Let us designate this spanda as paraśabda, whether we hear that as sound or not; what we hear can be called aparaśabda or dhvani. There is difference in the capacity of hearing among individuals; certain animals can hear sounds inaudible to human beings. With the help of instruments like megaphone, microphone we can perhaps hear the movements of an ant’s feet. If there be any truth in the spiritual science of the Hindus, a person by practising samyama can hear the subtlest of the subtle sounds, even the movements of electrons may not be altogether inaudible. Thus the capacity of hearing is relative, variable and conditional. The sound we ordinarily hear may be called sthūla śabda, gross sound. The sound that can be heard with the help of instruments or by the development of yogic powers may be called sūksma śabda, subtle sounds. But instruments are not perfect, yogic powers may have defects—so the question arises, is there any condition in which hearing is absolute and perfect? Following the analogy of mathematics we can assert that there is such a condition where the soul can hear a spanda or vibration without the help of any instrument or organ. Such a capacity of hearing may be termed Absolute ear. Not only hearing, we can conceive also Absolute eye, Absolute tongue and so forth. These may not be gross things like the eye, tongue etc., they signify limits of a particular capacity. By the Absolute Ear we get sound as it is which is known in Indian philosophy as śabda tanmātra.

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“All things in the world are centres of a play of forces, everything has at its basis a causal stress. The vibration of this basic stress of a thing as heard by the Absolute ear is its natural name or Vījamantra. Such a vījamantra has the power to create the object of which it is the natural name. This is the principle underlying all practice of japa. Take for example fire, we have no absolute ear to hear its original vibration, but by the yogic ear it is heard as ram. Our recitation of these mantras is not pure, therefore their power is dormant. By puraścaran and other Tantric processes, this power can be awakened, and then actual fire can be produced by the recitation of ram. This is not a matter of blind belief, we point here to a field of experiment, like any other field of scientific experiment. Science has gained much control over forces of Nature, but that control has not reached its highest limit. Indian Yoga is an attempt in that direction. If one can attain the Absolute Ear or very near it, it will not be impossible to dispense with transmitting and receiving sets for hearing or seeing sounds and sights from any distance.”

We have already said that there is hardly any symbol or image in Hindu religion for the true significance of which the author has not given a clue; he has, for instance, interpreted the rat of Ganapati and even the crow sitting on the chariot of Dhūmāvatī. A question arises why the ancient Rishis and sadhakas clothed deep spiritual truths in such enigmatical symbols which sometimes appear to be grotesque and even obscene. The answer is that these truths are not at once obvious because they were the result of long psychological experiment and profound internal experience. “Therefore without a long inner experience, without intimate self-observation and intuitive perception of the Nature-forces it is difficult to grasp accurately or firmly utilise them.” The symbols would be easily understood by persons who follow the spiritual path and undergo some discipline. Modern Science also is following the same path, it is using symbols (mathematical in this case) to express its highest truths such as the spherical Universe, space-Time Continuum, etc. which are absolutely unintelligible to the man in the street, but are of engrossing interest to a Science student.

It is often said that the Vedic sadhana was replaced by the Tantric as being more suitable to the people of Kaliyuga. Our author says that this does not mean any diminution or dilution to suit weaker people. It only means that humanity is progressing and as it is nearing the goal, the prospect becomes more clear and the steps can be more quickened. Following the same argument we can say that we of the modern age have outgrown even the Tantra and require a newer synthesis to arrive at the final achievement for which humanity has been preparing through ages with various means and methods. In this connection we can quote here what Sri Aurobindo said in the first chapter of his Essays on the Gita:

“There is yet another, the Tantric, which though less subtle and spiritually profound, is even more bold and forceful than the synthesis of the Gita,—for it seizes even upon the obstacles to the spiritual life and compels them to become the means for a richer spiritual conquest and enables us to embrace the whole of Life in our divine scope as the Lila of the Divine; and in some directions it is more immediately rich and fruitful, for it brings forward into the foreground along with divine knowledge, divine works and an enriched devotion of divine Love, the secrets also of the Hatha and Raja Yogas, the use of the body and of mental askesis for the opening up of the divine life on all its planes, to which the Gita gives only a passing and perfunctory attention. Moreover it grasps at the idea of the divine perfectibility of man, possessed by the Vedic Rishis but thrown into the background by the intermediate ages, which is destined to fill so large a place in any future synthesis of human thought, experience and aspiration.

We of the coming day stand at the head of a new age of development which must lead to such a new and larger synthesis. We are not called upon to be orthodox Vedantins of any of the three schools or Tantrics or to adhere to one of the theistic religious of the past or to entrench ourselves within the four corners of the teaching of the Gita. That would be to limit ourselves and to attempt to create out spiritual life out of the being, knowledge and nature of others, of the men of the past, instead of building it out of our own being and potentialities. We do not belong to the past dawns, but to the noons of the future. A mass of new material is flowing into us; we have not only to assimilate the influences of the great theistic religions of India and of the world and a recovered sense of the meaning of Buddhism, but to take full account of the potent though limited revelations of modern knowledge and seeking; and, beyond that, the remote and dateless past which seemed to be dead is returning upon us with an effulgence of many luminous secrets long lost to the consciousness of mankind but now breaking out again from behind the evil. All this points to a new, a very rich, a very vast synthesis; a fresh and widely embracing harmonisation of our gains is both an intellectual and a spiritual necessity of the future.”

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“Auro-Ratna Award” 2013: A Report

Dear Friends and Well-wishers of Overman Foundation,

The fourth “Auro-Ratna Award” ceremony was held on Friday, 22 November 2013, at Sri Aurobindo Centre for Advanced Research, Pondicherry. As already announced, the recipient of the “Auro-Ratna Award” for the year 2013 was Dr. Ananda Reddy.

Dr. Murali Sivaramakrishnan, noted scholar, poet, artist and Professor and Head of the Department of English at Pondicherry University, Prof. Srinivasa K., Professor of Philosophy at Pondicherry University, Dr. Larry Seidlitz (Vice-President for Student Affairs at SACAR), Dr. Alok Pandey (eminent psychiatrist and member of Sri Aurobindo Ashram), Mr. Raman Reddy, Mr. Narayan Bhatt (both researchers and archivists of Sri Aurobindo Ashram Archives and Research Department), Mr. Lalit Modi (eminent auditor), Mr. Suresh Chandra Tyagi (Editor of Aditi, the popular Hindi magazine published from Saharanpur), Mr. Chamanlal Gupta, senior member of Sri Aurobindo Ashram were among the esteemed guests who attended the function.

The function began at 5.30 p.m. with an invocation in Sanskrit rendered in her melodious voice by Mrs. Deepshikha Reddy (Trustee, SACAR) after which a flower-bouquet and shawl were presented to Dr. Ananda Reddy by the staff of Sri Aurobindo Centre for Advanced Research namely Mr. Satya, Mr. Miresh, Mr. Kader and Mrs. Gayatri Sarkar. Another bouquet sent by Dr. Shruti Bidwaikar was also presented to him.

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The ceremony began with a brief introduction of the objectives and history of ‘Auro-Ratna Award’ by Mr. Anurag Banerjee, the Founder and Chairman of Overman Foundation who also remarked that it was a privilege to confer the ‘Auro-Ratna Award’ to Dr. Ananda Reddy whose achievements were undoubtedly great but he, as a person, was greater than his achievements.

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He then requested Dr. Murali Sivaramakrishnan, who graced the occasion as the Chief Guest, to say a few words about Dr. Ananda Reddy. The following is the text of Dr. Murali’s speech:

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“Good evening dear friends. This is more of a home-coming; there is nothing formal about being here, sitting beside Ananda Reddy, in the centre of SACAR. This is one of those occasions when you feel more honoured than the person who is honoured because I am called to chair the session felicitating my friend, my very close associate for the last close to ten years. More than that we have known each other or much I am not sure.

“Ananda does not require a kind of introduction in this gathering. Last time when this ‘Auro-Ratna Award’ was given to Shraddhavan and Prema Nandakumar—I used a phrase when I was talking. I said this is like carrying coal to the new castle. You know, one does not carry coal when one goes to new castle. It’s like talking about Ananda Reddy at his Centre where Deepshikha—she is sitting behind—she is Deepshikha, the one who should be going in front holding the torch—torch-bearer; she is sitting behind. She has ignited the torch and when Deepshikha is there and Anand-bhai, as everyone calls him, who is a few years older than me so I call him Anand. So Anand is somebody who I could vibe with. I come from a totally different tradition because I am an academic, I work in the University, I teach for a living, I’ve to profess, write, publish or perish. So this sort of rigorous intellectual academic world and we are all worried that academicism, intellectualism or inquisitive kind of exploration into religion, philosophy, truth is almost practically disappearing. Srinivasa next to me will also be talking almost like that. And why are we worried about this kind of thing? Some years ago an academic from the U.S.—Allan Bloom—published a book called The Closing of the American Mind where he actually bemoans that Americans are almost losing their intellectual grip on reality; they are just falling into mere crass materialists. Of course, we assume that the synonym Americanism and Globalization is almost the same. So we tend to identify America with the kind of ultimate illusion which boast of capitalists, industrialists, like a globalizing it symbolizes. So Bloom’s worry is almost becoming the reality for us in India. Less of intellectual involvement, people are not bothered—why should we explore truth, why should we worry whether Ishwara is the same as the Divine Godhead, whether Savitri would symbolize the search for life beyond death or whether Life Divine is a possibility or whether the Supermind has descended, this kind of queries—practically nobody seems to take these things seriously at all. This creates a big backlog in our minds. There are only a few places where this kind of search and enquiry still seems to survive. And one of them of course is something that revolves around the pursuit of truth, the pursuit for finding something higher, pursuit in terms of a kind of rigorous discipline that we call Integral Yoga and the study of Sri Aurobindo and what the Mother has given. Even among the Aurobindonians—there are, of course, many aspects to the study of Sri Aurobindo. I am not going into the intellectual debate over this but even among those of us who are really taking the study of Sri Aurobindo quite seriously, there are those who are happy with whatever is given. And there are those others who like to go beyond with a torch. People like Anand belong to the second category. They are quite dissatisfied with whatever that has already been said. They feel there is something more to it. There is something more that is possible because we have had many, many debates across podiums, even here we have had many discussions and I have always noticed that Anand is always on the side of new kind of… to break new boot almost like what we would say, to find a new path. He always likes to go beyond and find something new. He gets so excited! And when he says something, whenever he writes something, whenever he tries to explicate or interpret a text of Sri Aurobindo in a classroom or in seminar-situation, he likes to say something new. There is always a sense of discovery in whatever he says. I am not just making that a kind of platitude. I mean it. Whatever you give him, whatever topic he is talking about, be it philosophy of Sri Aurobindo or philosophy in general for that matter. Of course, he was a professor of philosophy, he has taught overseas in fact. He had gone to Bangkok and taught there. And he was with us in the Department of Philosophy in our university. But wherever he has gone, whatever he has done, there is a sense of breaking into new grounds or finding new frontiers have been his impetus. And that has been his strength.

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“For me Anand symbolizes the possibility for finding new en routes into the study of Sri Aurobindo. It is not merely the study of Sri Aurobindo. In fact, a few months ago I had written a kind of controversial article which has been published in Sraddha from Calcutta. But before I published it, I sent it to Anand. I said: “Please look through this.” It’s a pretty long article. And Anand sent me papers like this. After a few weeks, he sent me the whole thing. “I’ve read through every line that you have written” and each line he has taken up and he has dissected with the kind of discipline of an academic, the strength of a yogi and the kind of openness of a true seeker.

“Anand, in fact, I feel like shortening his name, not Anand but Ananda, a thousand times so what was like to me he has a thousand turns and when I start talking about him I will have a thousand turns because there is no stopping. We can talk hours together about Anand and the ways in which Anand has explicated things. But this is not the place for that right now. But I feel that the Overman Foundation has enriched itself by honouring a person like Anand. Thank you, so pleased, delighted as well to be here. And Anand, like ‘Bharat Ratna’ we have ‘Auro-Ratna’. This ‘Auro-Ratna’ is like ‘Bharat-Ratna’ for the Aurobindonians. Anand is the right person for this award. For, you see, two people had got the award last time, they had to split it. This time it is one person so he is standing for two: Shraddhavan and Prema-ji [Nandakumar]. This time Anand. (applause)

“I’m so happy that I am here and able to share a few words with you, to talk about Anand and also to dream about new possibilities. I don’t think he will just stop with this; SACAR is not the end of the world for he will go miles. He always has the kind of urge to seek and go beyond. He is an open connection; he can always be engaged with. You can talk anything to him. Even when I invited him to come over to see my painting, he just came and said, “Hey, I will talk.” So he started talking even about painting or whether it is driving or flying or going places or anything. So it is wonderful that we have a person like Anand. He has done wonders with SACAR. He has miles to go and with the new impetus he has gathered.

“When we are all sitting here honouring him with this ‘Auro-Ratna Award’, Overman Foundation—I am sure—has done something wonderful and Anand certainly deserves it. And it is a pleasure and privilege for me as a long time associate of Anand to come here and chair the session.”

The next speaker was Dr. Srinivasa K. of the Department of Philosophy (Pondicherry University); the text of his speech is as follows:

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“Good evening to you all, respected elders, distinguished scholars, ladies and gentlemen. On behalf of the Department of Philosophy and on behalf of my own family members and my own behalf, first of all, let me congratulate Dr. Ananda Reddy who is fondly called by his friends Anand—I call him Anand—for receiving this most prestigious award—the ‘Auro-Ratna Award’ for the year 2013.

8[Dr. Srinivasa presenting a shawl to Dr. Ananda Reddy]

“Let me share my acquaintance with Dr. Ananda Reddy. Ever since I met him in 1989 when we joined Sri Aurobindo School of Eastern and Western Thought—I joined as an additional lecturer and Dr. Anand joined as a Post-Doctorate Fellow. Since then we became very close friends. And basically I was trained in Symbolic Logic, Philosophy of Science, Philosophy of Language and modern Philosophy and perhaps along with Prasad Balasubramanian who was the first Head of the Department of that particular school and Dr. Anand, they taught me so much regarding Indian Philosophy. Later on, I had to go to Sanskrit pandit to learn Sanskrit for about three years. And first of all, when Anand used to speak to us on Sri Aurobindo’s philosophy, it never went into my mind because Sri Aurobindo is not an easy philosopher to understand. It requires a kind of integrity on the part of the scholar to understand Sri Aurobindo’s philosophy. Of course, as students of philosophy, we always feel that the art of philosophizing differs from one philosopher to another philosopher, from one school of thought to another school of thought. Normally we start from complexities and come down to simples; sometimes we start from simples and go back to the complexities. But I was introduced to Sri Aurobindo’s philosophy primarily through the lectures given by the late Shri M. P. Pandit and also by Anand. I used to attend his lectures and he used to take classes for Master Degree students. Many a time I had a lot of problems to understand Sri Aurobindo’s philosophy because I did not possess the kind of eligibility to understand it. So he was so good to me in the sense that he used to explain me: “Look Srinivasa, this has to be understood like this, you have to interpret this concept like this, you have to alienate yourself completely from the Western world of thinking.” Perhaps that helped me a lot—my association with him.

“Today I can proudly say that I know a little bit of Sri Aurobindo. I can tell you this because on 8th of November [2013] I was asked to deliver an Endowment Talk on Indian culture at Acharya Nagarjuna University. Some six months ago, the Vice-Chancellor of the University asked me to do that. Then I asked him over the phone: “What should I speak?” So then he said that since you come from Pondicherry the members of the Senate would like to listen from you about Sri Aurobindo. I said: “Sir, it is a huge task for me because I am not very good in Sri Aurobindo.” But since they gave me six months’ time I started reading Sri Aurobindo. From my own perspective I understood him a little bit. Then I okayed it. Then I sent my draft back to them—some 24-25 pages—and it was sent to some expert which I did not know and finally they approved the draft and on 8th I delivered the lecture. So as my gurudakshina I can give the copy of my lecture to Anand. (applause)

“So this was the thing. Then of course not only the kind of physical discipline that Anand maintains, but the kind of mental discipline to find in Anand is remarkable. In 1992 we had a very big seminar on Sri Aurobindo; lots of people from the Ashram came and people from all over India participated in that seminar. Normally the students of philosophy have a habit of criticizing the philosophers. At times I think people from Ashram did not take it very lightly and they used to over-react to these criticisms. Perhaps it was only Anand who never got irritated to any of these kinds of things and he used to reply so well that Prof. Balasubramaniam said: “This is the difference between Anand and the rest of the people.” Because we know that Prof. Balasubramaniam was a hardcore Advait but he had lot of praise for Anand and he used to tell me: “Srinivas, you should speak like Anand.” Then I said: “Sir, it will take one more janma [birth] for that.” “Does not matter,” he said, “Listen to his lectures, go to his classes, the way he formulates the softer problems. Maybe from the point of view of Sri Aurobindo it does not matter. Just listen to him.” And it taught me a lot.

“And of course the ancient Greek philosophers preach what is wisdom. Just by possessing knowledge of different kinds of things is not really wisdom. Temperance, prudence and courage constantly were wisdom for great philosophers and here Anand-bhai possesses all the three qualities. He has temperance, balance of mind, courage to face any kind of a question you ask him and he will reply and without getting irritated. He may criticize saying just because I criticize Sri Aurobindo, my criticism will not bring down the stature of Sri Aurobindo in the philosophers’ circuits. Similarly, just because I criticize Shankara or Mahatma Gandhi their stature will not come down. But here is a person who never got irritated for any kind of criticism. And he used to reply. That shows his courage. And also prudence. He knows what to talk and what not to talk. That is very, very important for a student of philosophy. He used to engage classes, I think, on Ethics for the students of Masters’ Degree and he used to ask me: “Srinivasa, this is the book I am following, is it right?” You know that he did his Masters from the University of Hyderabad not only in literature but also in philosophy. And he has done best. But see his simplicity, he used to come to me and say: “This is the book I am following, do you think it is good?” I said: “It is very good.” And students loved him. And we loved him. It’s unfortunate that we could not really plant him into our department because of age-restrictions, I think, by a few days or months he had exceeded the age limit. Therefore Prof. Balasubramaniam could not recruit him in our department but he very much wanted to be in the department. In spite of that he kept on coming to the department and he kept his association with the department. Many a time we called him. Kapali Sastri Endowment Lecture he has given in the department and he was so clear in his talk.

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“He is not only a good thinker but a prolific writer so you see his writings. Then of course he went to Bangkok and spent almost five long years there. He recommended me to go there thrice. Then of course I went to Bangkok. The moment I said Anand is my friend, the Dean of the school said: “We all learnt English language from him.” The way English is spoken you should know from Anand. So that means such kind of an impact he made on the minds of the people there in Bangkok that they love him so much. Some three times I went there as a Distant Faculty to deliver lectures on various topics and every time I went there, immediately they ask: “How is Ananda Reddy?” I said: “He is doing very well. He is very busy with his SACAR.”

“So, friends, I really feel that the Overman Foundation has chosen the right person for the award for 2013 because he is one of the greatest second generation Aurobindoites. I don’t say first generation because there are people who propagated Sri Aurobindo’s philosophy far and wide. One of the leading second generation Aurobindoites in the country today and he is accepted every way the word and I really feel very happy that the Overman Foundation—unlike the Government of India—has recognized a person who really deserves that award. So I congratulate Anand for this. (applause)

“Behind the success of a great person there is a woman. The woman may be sometimes the mother, the wife, sometimes sister, sometimes a friend. Here I know it is Deepshikha-didi who always constantly followed Anand as a shadow, a faithful companion to make his intellectual capabilities spread wider and wider. So therefore part of the credit should also go to Deepshikha-didi (applause). Having said that, I am extremely happy that SACAR called me to say a few words about Anand but there are so many things to share about Anand that I don’t think this is the time to do that. And friends, you know that and your association with Anand I need not explain and introduce you more about him and through his writings, through his speeches, you know what kind of a person he is. Thank you.”

The next speaker was Dr. Alok Pandey whose speech is quoted beneath:

“I have to rush back to the Sports Ground but certainly all that I can say is that I am very happy that Anand-bhai has been chosen for this beautiful award. But much more than that, as I was sitting and thinking about his name, it reminded me of something very interesting. Anand-bhai has been in the service of the Divine. I think that is the most important thing. Writing, speaking—all these are very, very secondary things; most important is that he has done it as an act of seva, as an act of service. Because people can write and speak just for the joy of deliberating intellectually about things or they may do it as a means to get fame, name, etc. But the beauty of Anand-bhai’s talks, his writings, is that it springs from a heart of love. I think, that is where the strength lies. And when you serve the Divine or do something to serve the Divine, there is a wage—you know—when we do service there is a wage which one gets. Of course, that reminds me of an aphorism of Sri Aurobindo that to be God’s servant is something, God’s slave is greater. Someone once asked me that what is the difference between the two? A servant means to serve. But as a servant we get a wage but slave means all the time with the Divine. There is nothing else because the slave seeks nothing else. Slave is bought for ever, he has no other options. That is the beauty of being a slave. Now when we serve the Divine just as we serve, we get a wage. People often ask: “Kya milta hain? Ashram ja ke kya milta hain?” “What do you get in all these?” Well, the Divine has a very nice plan. Instead of monthly pay etc. etc. the Divine gives you instantly. So what is the instant wage of the Divine? It is Ananda. (laughter) The Divine gives you instant delight. So the service of the Divine gets reflected by the joy in the being. And there is the beauty. Whenever you seek Him, you don’t have to even speak to Him. There is a spontaneous smile, the joy of the heart gets reflected because he is doing all this not as something personal. Even this beautiful institution— it has been done as an act of love and that one can see, the way he has gone about the whole thing and the way his steps have been guided and made as someone who has been chosen.

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“There are many who are called—that’s a well-known saying, Sri Aurobindo speaks about it, but some are chosen for something very specific and they are given all that is required for that service. And without a shadow of doubt Anand-bhai is certainly chosen—he is chosen for this work. And so everything that is needed the Divine provides. So when we speak about Anand-bhai, it simultaneously is the beauty, the glory of the Divine which is leading him. And it leads so many individuals each in its own way. Of course I completely appreciate that Deepshikha-di often goes unnoticed. To think of him [Ananda Reddy] is also to think of her. So it is something very beautiful. And yes, it is not very common; it is a very rare and harmonious, beautiful thing to happen. And it is a prayer to the Lord that may both of you continue to serve the Divine in this way for many, many lives to come because not necessarily a question of one life but many lives to come.

“At the same, I must say that there are so many ways the Divine’s work is going on all over the world. And sometimes one wonders: is there anything else left? And then comes somebody like Anurag with Overman Foundation. One wonders: yes, yes, there was something which was yet to be done. That is the impression I had when Overman Foundation came into being. Otherwise, you know, we feel people have talked, people have … you know, so much have been done. Everyone is there not to speak, it is just one has to keep living this truth. And then someone comes up with such an interesting idea that one feels that it has dropped from the heaven and someone has caught it. So you [to Anurag Banerjee] really have filled a space in Sri Aurobindo’s work. Everyone can fill a space in so many ways but you have filled a space which was necessary and when it worked one wondered why didn’t somebody think of it earlier. So I am happy that something like this has been done not only about the ‘Auro-Ratna Award’—of course that is one of the things—but the kind of research works and work you are doing on Sri Aurobindo and the Mother. So it is really wonderful.

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“What more can I say about an elder brother who has been such a beautiful inspiration and a co-traveller and a wonderful colleague to work with. Having said that, it is truly an honour to share the dais with him several times and it has given me a sense of complimentality of a beautiful, harmonious, as they say—jugal-bandi. I have always felt that with him. And that’s the beautiful part of it. All that I would say is that may you really serve Her for many, many, many lives till the last breath, fully conscious from the moment you are born of Her presence and till the last breath, may you and Deepshikha-di be conscious of Her presence. And there is nothing greater than that. The person is always greater than his works. And that is what I keep talking in Sri Aurobindo’s context that the Word is greater than an institution that has been brought out by someone but greater than the Word is the person—the being. The Gita speaks to us of shabd brahmati vartate—go beyond the Word because others get stuck to the Word, its integrities, they pick up pedagogues not yogins. Darshana in the Indian sense was first see, then express, not express all the ignorance and then try to see. So, with Anand-bhai, he is a philosopher of that category. He is seeing and then he expresses what he is seeing. So his philosophy is something authentic. I think that is the difference. The mark of a philosopher in the Indian sense and the mark of truly a great philosopher is that he is not just playing with words. It is so easy to play with words and especially nowadays we are endowed with a brilliant faculty which is the cause of all our stupidities and that is the intellectual mind but when this mind is not just sharpened but develops something called sight, then that mind becomes worthy of simply reflecting what it receives from above. And that is the beauty of what Anand-bhai expresses. It is not just a playing with words of Sri Aurobindo and the Mother. That is very dangerous at times because we will miss the being who is much greater than the words. He brings Sri Aurobindo into his words and through His words and through his own words so beautifully what we get is Sri Aurobindo—His darshan, something of His touch, something of His glimpse. And I think that is something worth a million, million, million breath that one can ever require outwardly.

“So, thank you Anand-bhai for really being not just an asset to Sri Aurobindo’s circle but an asset to the earth. I feel may such types of your kind increase. There is a beautiful line in Savitri: ‘Only one joy, to raise thy kind, desire.’ So my prayer is: may your kind increase upon this earth. The earth desperately needs it. Thank you very much.”

After Dr. Alok Pandey, Dr. Larry Seidlitz talked about his association with Dr. Ananda Reddy. His speech is quoted beneath:

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“It is a very happy occasion to honour my friend and colleague Ananda Reddy. I will just say a few personal words of my relation with Ananda and work with him.

“I think we met in 1998. He came to U.S. to visit our mutual friend Julian who introduced us, suggested that my wife and I take him and Deepshikha to Niagara Falls. We were living close by there so they were interested in visiting and they came and stayed with us for a couple of days, I think. We visited the Falls. We became first acquaintances at that time. And then a couple of years later my wife and I came to Pondicherry. I was coming for the first time. And again we met Ananda and Deepshikha at their home and they welcomed us so warmly. I think it was at that time that Ananda first broached the topic of participating in this online programme that he wanted to launch and it was maybe still ways off yet but he was beginning to think about it. So we had a nice visit at the Ashram and at their home and we were greeted very nicely. So we went back to the U.S. And a few years later I came alone on a visit to Pondicherry and again met with Ananda, I think, just days before I was leaving. And he again talked about the online programme that he wanted to launch at SACAR. And I said that yes, I will be happy to participate in this thinking I can do this online course from the U.S.— never thinking to come here.

“After returning to the U.S. I was seized by this strong desire to move to Pondicherry. And I wrote to Ananda and asked: “Could I join you there at SACAR?” And he was so welcoming, so warm. “Yes, you please come, you will work at SACAR. You will also have a place to stay, to live here and we will look after you.” And so after a few months I shifted from the U.S to Pondicherry and stayed here at SACAR. And we launched this online programme. He was then ready to start. And at that time Girija—the actress and Sri Aurobindo scholar—was already here at Pondicherry working with SACAR and together we started the work of preparing an online educational programme from scratch. We didn’t quite know how the course would move forward. I had one technician who was very good and setting things up. He was also a difficult character in his own way but we managed to get something going within a few months. And I guess, of the same year, a few months later, we started the programme—the first semester of the online programme and Jamshed—sitting at the back—was our first student and couple of others. It continued and from each semester it developed and grew. More students came. We became more organized, more sophisticated each semester as it went. Eventually we joined up with IGNOU and it began to… the ball was rolling more. We were getting more students and we were developing it into a more sophisticated programme. We were having Masters and Ph.D students and M.Phil students and Post-Graduate Diploma students—so we had quite a diversified programme. And this was, I think, one of the big dreams of Ananda to be able to present in an in-depth way Sri Aurobindo’s teaching to college students across India and across the world. In so many institutions and universities across the country and across the world Sri Aurobindo is hardly mentioned. So this was one place where students could actually study Sri Aurobindo in an in-depth way. I mean, we have our classes for sixteen weeks long and in these programmes students were taking 8-10-12 different classes on Sri Aurobindo in all the different areas of His thought. So they really got a deep introduction to Sri Aurobindo and the Mother’s teaching which was really not possible anywhere else. And quite a few students have gone through the programmes—even shorter or longer programmes—that we have.

“I think it was about three or four years ago we had one of our Personal Contact Programmes where we invited the students to come. This was actually a part of the programme where they spent several days or weeks with us. We would have seminars each day and they have the possibility to visit the Ashram and Auroville and they were staying here at the Guest House. Deepshikha-didi was cooking instead of catering the meals for everybody. We had 12-15 students here with us for this programme. And in the last evening of the programme we had a cultural event; everybody was doing some performance or making some presentation for the group out in the courtyard. It was a beautiful evening. And I think that it was at that moment that Ananda leaned over and said: “This is really the high-point of SACAR so far.” And it really was a beautiful moment with all the students here; their being together for 4-5 days of intensive talks and lectures and just sharing and having meals together. It was a big family. That was always something part of SACAR. It was not just an educational institute, there was always this family-like atmosphere that was here. So I wanted to share about that experience which I have been closely associated with, working with Ananda over these ten years, doing their work, offering these online classes.

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“At the same time, this is only one aspect of Ananda’s work. He is also doing so many other things—giving talks regularly in the Ashram, each of the Darshans he was giving a series of lectures here, every year he is giving ‘n’ number of talks at Nainital and he is going out across India giving talks at different places where he is invited, he was going abroad, going on tours to different places in Europe quite often. He was taking care of work at Hyderabad Centre—he handles the Board—an institution is there—there are several trusts doing various work around Hyderabad area. So many things. He is continually writing articles for journals. Sometimes I just pick up a journal and here is an article by Ananda that I did not even know that he might be writing. Books have come out not only of his various talks that he is giving continuously but also publishing books of other authors at SACAR, working on those, often designing the covers for the books, doing various things in order to make all these various projects come to fruition. Sometimes Ananda works too hard, sometimes he was literally fainting on the floor from exhaustion, sometimes we did not know whether he was going to recover. I mean, he does too much. He was travelling all the time, working, writing, talking, giving lectures, so many things.

“I just want to close by saying that I am very grateful for all that he has done for me, looking after me for these ten years and also for all the work that he has done for Sri Aurobindo and the Mother. Thank you.”

After Dr. Larry Seidlitz, Ms. Clare Fanning, an old friend of Dr. Ananda Reddy was requested to say a few words about him. The text of her brief speech is as follows:

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“I was so enjoying to hear how everyone has experienced and all and I, kind of, was reflecting in a little bit and it’s wonderful when you are in an evening of exchange as friends, when you are at dinner, when you are catching up in a beautiful moment. But it is another one when you attend his talks. I so enjoy the remark about the presence of Sri Aurobindo when it comes through him because, you know, we take our friends not for granted but in a way—of course we are good friends—but the real presence that you do when you communicate Sri Aurobindo’s words is astounding and so profound and I have great pride to tell people to attend your talks if they can… I really appreciate knowing Ananda.”

The next speaker was Mr. Lalit Modi, noted auditor and a close friend of Dr. Ananda Reddy. His speech is quoted beneath:

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“Jai Ma to all of you. Anand and Anurag both have sort of schemed to place me in the midst of intellectual giants, philosophical giants, academic giants and spiritual giants. I really feel like a dwarf among them and particularly when all these gentle giants have spoken so much about the nobility of Giant of all giants Ananda Reddy. What more can I say, a little dwarf, on the philosophical front, on the intellectual front or even the spiritual front? As far as Anand is concerned, I am like Sudama. He is the Sudama of the little spiritual world that I am involved with so obviously that makes him my Krishna. But Anand, on the professional front the role is reversed. I will not allow you to be the Krishna of the professional world. I think it is a great sense of joy, a great sense of happiness to be among this august gathering. In fact, this is the first time I am addressing an august gathering like the one I am sitting in front of.

“Anurag, I should thank you very much for choosing our dear Anand Reddy—our dear Dr. Anand Reddy—for the award—the ‘Auro-Ratna Award’. Having conferred or being conferred now on Dr. Ananda Reddy, I think, I will take the opportunity of addressing him now itself as ‘Auro-Ratna’ Dr. Ananda Reddy, or let’s say, ‘Auro-Ratna’ Ananda Reddy. I have taken this initiative of addressing you as ‘Auro-Ratna’ Ananda Reddy without taking the permission from Anurag. Sorry Anurag.”

Anurag Banerjee: “Permission granted.” (laughter)

Lalit Modi continues: “Thank you for that. Anand’s nobility, Anand’s culture, Anand’s generosity, Anand’s truth, honesty, in my opinion—I am using the word in my opinion because this is how we prepare our audit reports and somehow we get into that language and this is definitely not a forum of projecting audit reports. But in my opinion this culture, this honesty, this generosity, this nobility comes from his parents—his father and mother. Anand, I know as a friend, adores his parents. The word ‘adoration’ is normally used by a person when he shows his love for the Almighty. But in this particular sense, in this particular context, I would say that Anand regarded his parents like Gods and adored them and that’s where all his inspiration came to him in gushes and bounds like the Ganges. As Srinivasa said, his inspiration is definitely his better-half Deepshikha. Such a wonderful person always with a smile on her lips; it’s like somebody telling us: “If you don’t have a smile on you, I will give you one of mine.” She always keeps showing or addressing us in that manner. And this attitude is not because Anand listens to Deepshikha, it is because Deepshikha listens to Anand that Anand is where he is. I thank you, Deepshikha, for sharing Anand with us.

“Our interactions in my office have been wonderful. Anand would just walk into my office and say: “Are, Lalit, tum busy to nehi ho na?” “Are, yaar, tum aa to gaye ho andar, abhi kya baat hain?” (laughter) He would just politely, timidly, just come and sit down, discuss his issues and then once again say: “I have not taken a lot of your time, no?” “Are baba, you have already taken it. Now what’s the problem?” (laughter) But I have always enjoyed those interactions with Anand. He has established his SACAR on 24 April 1998. Please correct me in I am wrong. It was 24 April 1998—a wonderful day for founding many institutions particularly by a devotee of the Mother and Sri Aurobindo. In this place, one can definitely feel and experience the presence of the Mother because Anand has kept it as sacred as any temple can be. For that, full marks to Anand for all the efforts that he has made. He is something like a dwarpal of SACAR, standing there and inviting those people who have a thirst for the ambrosia that he can offer. That ambrosia has come out of the churning that he has done on the scriptures of Sri Aurobindo. We all are really fortunate to have a taste of that ambrosia. Thank you, Anand, for delivering the goods—again I am using a commercial terminology, can’t help it but that is how it is.

“I thank Anurag once again for choosing our friend Anand for the coveted award. And I thank Anand for making our life so nice because whenever I was in some sort of a trouble or upset or something, I don’t know, just like that from nowhere he used to just drop in, come before me, stand before me, talk something this way, that way and then by the time he left, I used to feel light and fine as if he has taken away the problems from me and placed them at the feet of the Mother. And rest assured, in a matter of week’s time or 10 days’ time I always had the results—very positive results—on issues which were placed before him. Thank you Anand for being a great friend. I wish I can say lot more. I can go on and on but I guess that is the protocol that we have to follow. Maybe next time I will have an opportunity of saying much more about you and the institution. Thank you very much Anand.”

After Mr. Modi’s speech, Mr. Anurag Banerjee requested Mrs. Deepshikha Reddy, Dr. Reddy’s wife and collaborator in his work and sadhana, to say a few words about him. He introduced her in the following words: “As we all know, behind every successful man there is a woman. And behind Dr. Reddy’s success, there are two women. One is of course the beautiful lady whom we adore as the Divine Mother and the other person is the Prakriti behind the Purusha—the Shakti—Deepshikha-di.” The text of Mrs. Deepshikha Reddy’s speech is as follows:

“Really very honestly it has been a story of Grace, as you all know, building of SACAR and everything and Lalit helping us, everyone helping us. Of course this is also true that Anand was given this responsibility of making this centre as the academic centre where Sri Aurobindo Studies will be done. Certainly that initial dream, you might say, or adesh—whatever you can say, that of course, was given by the Mother and all the support was given by Her but the instruments were all of you. And it got done something very beautifully. I have not done anything. In fact, I have learnt a lot while SACAR was coming up because I was—as I always say—quite a non-believer in Grace and things like that. And he used to say that no, once She has said it will happen, “I have seen it.” He had seen the building of SACAR before it was materialized. And later Huta-ben had said that it had materialized in the subtle worlds. She had seen it a few years before and when she saw our building for the first time, then Huta-ben was absolutely… she just stooped and stuck in the sun over there around 1.30—2 o’clock in the afternoon and she said: “I have seen this building. How did you build it?” Then he said: “I was also given to see the building.” Then he told the architects that this is what I have seen and this is what has to be made. So, first Huta-ben said and we also know that certain things are already there and they will manifest later. All that part is of course there—the Mother’s Grace—but as I was telling you, I don’t know, instead of being a helper but I always used to say: “Don’t do anymore, don’t do anymore.” You know, I’m from a very middle class family. For me, this hall—because that was what he saw—that so many people are sitting and charcha kar rahe hain—you know—Sri Aurobindo is being radiated. So I used to say, “One hall is more than enough. Why upstairs?” and things like that. So through the time when the construction and everything was going on I developed a lot of faith. Let me tell you that I grew; I grew in faith, I grew in dependence on the Mother and I learnt slowly to leave things instead of all the time thinking mentally what next and how to do next and this and that. And the whole thing was really a story of Grace—the way SACAR had got built.

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“And then I must say that I used to feel very good to have a companion in Ananda who had so much of faith and dependence and absolute assured faith in the Mother. I used to think very big about myself, “I came when I was 13-14 and I have so much faith and dependence on the Mother” but it was very much tested during those years when this was being built and I had so many questions and doubts. So I grew also in my little way. It has been a very good journey with him. We have had lots of ups-and-downs as everybody has and specially somebody who was a work like this has a lot of criticism also, phases also, difficulties also. So to go through all of those have been actually a kind of growth. There is no doubt about it. And as Alok said that I would like all of you to pray that we can go on working for the Mother because this is what exactly… you know, in one of the conversations the Mother had also told him [Ananda Reddy] that his future work was to be involving himself in all these things. And She had told me to work in the field of education. So when I help Ananda whether it is in his Life Divine books or anything else, I just feel that I am helping him in a project that the Mother had given him so it is that work. So it makes me feel very happy.

“About Anurag I must say something. Anurag is born in 1984, he is not even 30. He is getting 30 next year. And this youngster—Oh my God!—I suppose Lalit was saying his research work is stupendous and as Alok was saying there was this space for him perhaps which he had to fill up. And he is a very good faculty member of SACAR, very, very good teacher in his subject of management, adored by his students, extremely hardworking this youngster. The other day I came upstairs—I have not been coming for sometime, my brother had passed away, I was very sad— and what I see the library door was open. So usually I am very careful about the library because we have got some very good books which are no longer in print. So I said: “Who’s there inside?” I see him seated squatting on the floor. The library is so congested. He said: “Deepshikha-di, this is the treasure-house. I wonder why didn’t I come here! From now on I am going to come here, I am going to stay here and I am going to be in the library all the time.” Very hardworking, very studious and he is so young so I must appreciate. And I just wonder what a wonderful work he is doing. This is one thing we all must know.

“I have been taking care of him [Ananda Reddy] physically. I have given him the space to study. He is a very boring husband, all the time studying, all the time upstairs in his study-room, I am downstairs but I have given him the space. I said, “Okay, let him do what he is doing.”

The next speaker was Ms. Harsha Bhatt and the text of her speech is as follows:

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“Without thinking of a preface, I would like to share my personal experience. I think definitely you people will enjoy it and like it. In middle of 1995, I think in May or June—I had come to Pondicherry permanently in 1994—I had gone to attend a class at [Sri Aurobindo] Society’s Beach Office, myself and Indu. We were both sitting at the last and I felt something nice in his [Dr. Ananda Reddy] lecture. And it was on one chapter of The Life Divine. On the second day of the class, I went to attend it. I was little bit doubtful. Though his voice was very commanding and convincing but I had little doubt that whether I should attend the lectures regularly or not. And I don’t go personally to attend any lectures. There was a life-size photo in the Society Office in the centre stage and I was sitting opposite there. And Dr. Reddy was sitting and above his head Sri Aurobindo’s face was coming. As soon as I thought I should attend his classes regularly, you people won’t believe, immediately I thought so, I saw a spark, two rays came from Sri Aurobindo’s eyes and my full body shivered. I heard that—I cannot tell exactly—I just heard like: “I’m telling this.” You people won’t believe, I was like… I could not think what to do. Really Sri Aurobindo talked like that. But from that day I began to regularly attend his classes because it was not he who was giving lectures but because it was given by Sri Aurobindo. I am talking about a real experience.

“Then I would share another experience. Nowadays in the Hall of Harmony there is the Mother’s bust-size picture but when we were attending the classes at that time the photo was that of Her sitting pose—like Mahalakshmi or Kali. I was listening to the Mother’s voice and I had too much sorrow that I had never attended the Mother’s classes—those evening classes which She was taking in the Playground. Every time I was feeling sorry that I have come very late. I was always coming early to attend the classes and one day while I was standing opposite that photo of the Mother, all of a sudden I felt the Mother was just asking me: “Are these not evening classes? Now the time has changed and the form has changed. Now you are attending my classes also.” From that day, even if I tried to feel sorry, I could never feel so for these were the evening classes and those were like the Mother’s. I have always believed in experiences only. Whatever philosophy I have learnt from him, now my words are “Implementation, implementation, implementation.” Otherwise after thousand births there is no question of transformation or anything and what they have taught is wasted. I must tell that the Grace took the form of Ananda Reddy for me. I was totally governed by the brain. My whole existence has changed so much in the twenty years that I have completed in Pondicherry and I am not the same person who had come in 1994. There has been a total transformation in my inward and outward existence. So, if I am asked to talk about Anand-bhai, I would say that he is everything for me. I love my Guru a lot but I need not require his physical presence with me. He is with me. He will remain with me. And I am telling you that he has given me a philosophy which is very difficult to understand. But he has given it in my mouth and helped in digestion also. So you people can understand. I have no words. What praise can I do? I can just tell that this is Mother’s Grace. And what can I say about him? Even one full day I can talk about him. But it is wastage of words only. For me, I have told it and again I am telling you that I love him a lot but for me to be in his physical presence is not necessary. He is with me with his teachings.

“Here I would like to say as you are not attending the regular classes so you will miss. He is explaining Sri Aurobindo’s words with the Mother’s explanations. It is very difficult to understand The Life Divine. But he was talking with the Mother’s explanations. Anand Sir is so humble that he has never told: “I am telling” or “I am explaining”. Mostly he used the Mother’s explanations to explain Sri Aurobindo. So I would not like to take more time. I could get this chance to talk about Anand Sir. I am very happy to share it with you people. Thank you.”

The next speaker was Mr. Satya, a devoted member of SACAR. Here is the text of his brief speech:

“SACAR—you all know what it means—Sri Aurobindo Centre for Advanced Research. But it is not that. Dr. Reddy once day jokingly said to somebody that it is ‘Sri Aurobindo’s Child Ananda Reddy’. (applause)

“I am happy to point out that. But how serious was his statement to become a true child of the Master and the Mother. We are happy on behalf of SACAR team that Overman Foundation has acknowledged Dr. Reddy’s work. We thank Anurag Banerjee, the Director, for honouring Dr. Reddy. Like everybody has pointed out, I would like to thank someone special. Somebody who is deep inside the heart of Dr. Reddy, an unflinching collaborator in Dr. Reddy’s work for Mother and Sri Aurobindo—Deepshikha Reddy. I thank Didi for being a great supporter of Dr. Reddy in his endeavour to reach the Divine Mother. Lastly I would like to say like Dr. Murali pointed out about ‘Bharat Ratna’. We all know that Sachin [Tendulkar] on his retirement received the ‘Bharat Ratna’ recently. But surely ‘Auro-Ratna’ has not thought of Dr. Reddy’s retirement—there is so much work to do. It is just a foundation stone for a new dawn. Yes, another dimension of SACAR, a new chapter of SACAR is already taking shape in Auroville. On behalf of my colleagues at SACAR, I pray for Dr. Reddy’s and Didi’s good health. May they continue marching towards the greater Cause. Thank you my dear Sir.”

After Mr. Satya’s speech, Mr. Anurag Banerjee read out three messages sent by Dr. Prema Nandakumar, Dr. Sachidananda Mohanty and Dr. Chhalamayi Reddy (Dr. Ananda Reddy’s sister) for the said occasion.

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Dr. Prema Nandakumar’s message is quoted beneath:

“It is delightful news our Ananda is getting the Auro-Ratna this year, a most welcome choice. His father, Dr. Madhusudhan Reddy has performed great kainkarya for taking the Aurobindonian ambience to Hyderabad and building up a school which is being looked after capably by Ananda’s sister, Chhalamayi who was also brought up in Pondicherry. Indeed the whole family is devoted to the Aurobindonian message. Ananda’s uncle has been writing tirelessly on the need for building up the Deva Sangha spoken of by Sri Aurobindo. I believe the eldest uncle of Ananda was the first one to donate land to Vinobha Bhave to start the Bhudaan movement in Andhra Pradesh. Thus self-sacrifice is in-built in Ananda’s family and I know how supportive Radha-amma has been to her children to realise their aims and reach their ideals. Between Ananda’s well-planned lectures delivered in his wonderful voice and Deepshikha’s music, Pondicherry is able to continue to experience the Presence of the Mother, now evoked so well in SACAR. Kindly convey my thanks and regards to the members of the Overman Foundation Committee for their most welcome choice for this year’s Auro Ratna award.

“My loving good wishes for a beautiful function invoking the Divine ambience. With affection, Prema.”

Dr. Sachidananda Mohanty’s message is quoted beneath:

“Son of the very distinguished Sadhak-academic and institution builder, Professor late V. Madhusudan Reddy and his life companion, Smt. Radha Devi who is fortunately present amidst us (The Mother named Professor Reddy’s main creation as the ‘Institute of Human Study’ in Hyderabad). Dr. Ananda Reddy was fortunate to have been brought up under the direct guidance of The Mother and very idealistic parents. He and his sister Chhlamayi have devoted their lives to the divine cause.

“Aside from his many academic and scholarly achievements, Dr Reddy’s main contribution in the field of Sri Aurobindo Studies clearly lie in the manner he created SACAR, over the years, as a uniquely advanced center of research based on the vision of Sri Aurobindo and The Mother in intellectual, academic terms. Today, the SACAR stands as one of the few of its kind to serve the interests of students, teachers and scholars world over.

“I know Dr Reddy as Ananda Bhai from the mid Seventies of the last century, and have closely followed his track record with affection and admiration. Aside from his creditable professional attributes, he is endowed with a generosity of mind and soul and has the ability to work with people of different philosophical and ideological persuasions. At the same time, as expected of him, he shows a firm commitment to the values that Sri Aurobindo and The Mother stood for.

“The tribute would be incomplete without due credit to Deepshikha-di, Ananda Bhai’s life companion, who has given him great support in his institutional activities over the years. The SACAR owes much to the indefatigable efforts of Deepshikha-di.

“This award given by the Overman Foundation is a fitting recognition to Dr Reddy. I am sure his late father would have been very proud of the award going to his son. He certainly has the blessings of his mother Smt Radha Devi.

“I congratulate Dr Reddy and the Overman Foundation for the award, and sincerely hope that the recognition gives the SACAR the necessary push to fulfill its designated task at the national and international level.”

Dr. Chhalamayi Reddy’s message is quoted beneath:

“A heartfelt tribute to my dear Anna

“I am not a scholar nor an authority on Sri Aurobindo’s writings to comment on Anandbhai’s erudition. Nevertheless, I am an avid reader of his writings on Sri Aurobindo’s works and a devout listener of his talks to say with confidence that to me he is an exponent par excellence of Sri Aurobindo’s and the Mother’s vision and works.

“He effortlessly navigates me through the stupendous and sublime ocean of Sri Aurobindo’s writings. He makes simple the high, lofty and metaphysical thought of the Master through specific and clear use of analogies and examples enabling me to better understand and enjoy the profundities and subtleties of His thought.

“The volume of his study is in itself inspirational apart from the quality of detailed and in depth exposition, It’s going to keep me happily occupied for some time to come to catch up listening to his recordings.

“To me being his sister, philosophical thought is natural thanks to our father. But, what I used to be in awe of what my father expounded of Sri Aurobindo’s works, is an experience of spiritual celebration when my brother explains and interprets. No wonder and rightly so my father referred to my brother as his ‘Light’!

“Best wishes to you for the years to come and the Mother’s blessings to keep you going strong on this journey wherein you throw light on the Master’s and the Mother’s works and help me to grow closer to Them.

“Your sister always, Chhalamayi”

Next, a recorded message sent by Ms. Shraddhavan of “Savitri Bhavan” (Auroville) was played:

“I apologize to Anurag Banerjee of Overman Foundation and to Dr. Ananda Reddy himself that it is not possible for me to be with you today for the conferral of the ‘Auro-Ratna Award’. I have decided to take the opportunity to make a recording of my feelings of appreciation, admiration and respect for my friend Dr. Ananda Reddy on the occasion of him receiving the ‘Auro-Ratna Award’ for his services to Sri Aurobindo Studies which he well deserves.

“Our first meeting happened in December 1970 when the first school in Auroville was launched. We were both in our 20s, I suppose and we had both volunteered along with other young people of Auroville and the Ashram to act as mentors to the young pupils of the school. We didn’t consider ourselves as teachers; sense was that they were all learners and follow the path of a shared adventure in education. The task was a challenging one particularly at the beginning because of the lack of a common language to connect the older ones and the younger ones. The school was declared “open” by the Mother’s son Monsieur André and She had given him a message to share with us on that day. In that message She indicated which languages should be taught at school: English as the international language, Tamil as the local language, French—for which She did not give any explanation but we understood that it was not only Her own language but the medium used in the Ashram School—and simplified Sanskrit which She wished to be the future-shared language of the whole of India. Ananda was better qualified for this task than most of the rest of us for several reasons. He had not only grown up in the Ashram and graduated from the Ashram School, in the late 1960s he was one of the few privileged to maintain a personal correspondence with the Mother who guided him in his studies and his development. I think it must have been in 1971 that he asked Her what kind of education She envisioned for Auroville. If I remember correctly, She replied that the system of education in Auroville and Ashram ought to be different and that Auroville had to find its own system and way emphasizing on the kind of a modern Gurukula system in which a trusted mentor would guide a few young souls gathered around him or her in all aspects of life. In fact Aspiration School was dedicated to realizing the Mother’s ideals of education particularly in attempting to enable each of the children to discover their psychic being and allowing to govern their life.

“With the pupils and educators coming from widely varied linguistic and cultural backgrounds, the first challenge was communication and since there was no established authority structure and no means of compulsion we found that the learning and sharing process had to be founded on sincerity, trust and mutual respect. Ananda had a unique contribution to make these. On account of his Ashram background, he became the main face of the daily physical education programme based on that of the Ashram Physical Education Department. This daily discipline became one of the three strongly unifying factors in school which, mind you, had a diverse programme unique in the history of education. It is appropriate to mention here that one of the other unifying factors was the early morning assembly, a short period when all the children and all the adults involved in the school shared a moment of concentration followed by the chanting of Sanskrit songs and shlokas by Deepshikha. The third became the Dining Room created by a French couple where children who had come from the local villages joined others from different states of India and others whose parents had come from Europe, America, Australia, Indonesia, Tibet for admitting in the atmosphere of a refined French family.

“Our six years of sharing and experiencing Aspiration School in those early days of conflict established a strong bond of fellowship and understanding between Ananda and myself. For several years we were not in regular touch as Ananda continued his higher studies in English literature and philosophy following the academic tradition of his family. His father was the Head of the Department of Philosophy of Osmania University and I am told that Ananda had asked him to establish a university in Auroville. Ananda and Deepshikha were in Hyderabad for several years running one of the Sri Aurobindo schools set up there by his family. After they returned to Pondicherry, we took up the thread again. In 1990s, the ‘Savitri Bhavan’ project was launched. And in 1998 when we had a hut on the site and the first solid building was under construction, Ananda became our first regular visiting teacher. At the request of Aurovilians, he initiated a weekly class on The Life Divine which continued for almost five years. Then the growing responsibilities involved in his establishment of SACAR demanded his full attention for several years. In 2010 he again resumed regular weekly classes at Savitri Bhavan focusing on The Mother and Savitri. Its Aurovilian students appreciate Ananda’s unique combination of intellectual exposition with devotion to Sri Aurobindo and the Mother. Many have talked to me how he has opened not only their minds but their hearts in sharing his understanding and experience. Because of his qualifications almost alone in the European domain-field Ananda and his work at SACAR has been able to create links between the kinds of study of the visions and teachings of Sri Aurobindo and the Mother that is pursued in the Ashram, in Auroville and in the Aurobindonian Centres throughout India and Indian academia. So the courses offered at SACAR are recognized by the University of Baroda and IGNOU. For all these reasons, Ananda fully merits the award that is being offered to his today.

“I offer him my congratulations and my best wishes for the continuance of his work.”

Mr. Anurag Banerjee then invited Mr. Chamanlal Gupta, Dr. Murali Sivaramakrishnan and Dr. Srinivasa to felicitate Dr. Ananda Reddy. Chamanlal-ji presented Dr. Reddy with the angavasram while Dr. Murali Sivaramakrishnan and Dr. Srinivasa presented him with the trophy and the certificate respectively.

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The following is the text of Dr. Ananda Reddy’s acceptance speech:

“Well, this is the first time I am feeling nervous to speak. I have spoken at many a place. But I think what all you have said I don’t know how much I deserve but I know it has been all sincere. Each one of you has spoken with your heart and my heart is full not for what you have said but to see how the Mother has taken me through my life through different places, through different activities, different inspirations. And then, as somebody rightly remarked, at every phase of my work She has brought the right person to work with. That has been a tremendous Grace because, you can imagine, being quite away from the academic world I was given the contacts of these two friends of Pondicherry University who have stood by me through thick and thin in all these years. And of course apart from that, as Shraddhavan herself has said, I have had great friends right from the beginning of Auroville days and one of my first contact was Clare—who is herself here—who used to be in Aspiration. So when I see all of you, my memory goes back. I have my present student here and I can see my first student there… This young guy, our Satya… I don’t know whom to thank. Each one of you has been a spot in my life when I was growing. And there is Sajid Shankara—who used to be a silent worker of SACAR—comes here and helps me. I mean, each one of you I am very much indebted to you for all you have spoken. Well, as I said, I don’t know how much I deserve but I am grateful to the Mother specially as She has brought all of you to me, not to me personally but in my work and offering to Her. And, of course, as Lalit is telling you, he has said that She is among the genius of academia and philosophers and all that. But he forgot to mention that She is Herself a genius in accounts and has guided me so closely, because, you know, to run an institution we get donations for expenses and all that. When I was building this place, Pranab-da [the late Pranab Kumar Bhattacharya] had given me one single rule of how to use the Mother’s work of money. When you receive a donation you should keep a perfect account of every rupee or Rs. 5 or Rs. 50 or Rs. 50,000 or Rs. 5,00,000. And I followed that very closely. And the Mother had told Dada that when you go to purchase a thing for your centre do not spend even an extra rupee. If you can spare, if you can really do it. So in those days when I was working for SACAR building, when a cement bag cost Rs. 146 and another shop charged Rs. 148, I would go back to the shop which offered Rs. 146. I would really go into the market and see. So I used to have these rules. And then here was Lalit who really followed that, implemented that and helped me. And at a point of time when SACAR was supposed to get a 80G—it was very difficult in those days, we had commissioners who used to take a lot of under-hands—but Lalit one day had an inspiration sitting in front of an I.T. Officer who said: “Mr. Lalit, choose one institution where I can give a free 80G.” He had a lot of choices but I don’t think he had any choice: somebody spoke to him. He said: “Sir, I want SACAR to get 80G.” So really he has been a silent guide for me and I am really thankful to his support because an institution must have a very sound, strong financial basis. Well, when I look at each one of you something comes out in my mind.

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“And of course this young man Anurag came very late in my life in 2010 first as one of my faculties because I wanted a management person and he was very, very good at taking classes. Then, of course, Overman Foundation came. He had first offered me to be one of the first Trust members but as I had to see SACAR, I said I cannot be a Trust-member of too many bodies. I cannot do my work properly. So since then I am associated with him. And, of course, I am really honoured to receive this angavasram [from Chamanlal Gupta] because I have been very indebted to him. He has been an elder brother in my sadhana; one of the seekers who have inspired me towards Truth. I mean, if I have seen a person who never compromised with falsehood is Chamanlal-ji. So whenever I need an inner guidance—an unbiased, no partiality, no prejudiced—sometimes I ask him; of course, I don’t say I got this answer but the conversation—because I know he will speak the truth and he will speak honestly and he will speak what is correct irrespective of what you may think or may not think. So friends I am honoured here.

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“My little group here—Kader, Miresh, Satya and then there is Gayatri sitting there. We have a small family but we have a bigger second circle of family and that’s all of you. And the most beautiful thing is that here I have a student of my own father, Agastha-ji. So I am really so happy that the tradition has followed—my father was a teacher, his student is here and I am happy that he could make it today. Well, I cannot take each one’s name but just to tell all of you that I am so honoured and grateful that you have come for this function. And yes, today everyone has given me your good words, praises and I myself did not know that I had all these facets because I do not know what to do, I simply follow the track laid down before me, that is, love the Mother, work for Her. And what should be, what not to be done, I am not aware but it seems I have done good to many people. But as somebody said, yes, this is not a halt, this is not a full stop. This recognition is only to lead me further. There are many miles to go before I sleep. There is lot more work to do. And I wish and I pray and I hope that all of you come with me in the next journey too, in whatever capacity you can help me, let’s go together because this work of SACAR is not mine or just a small team of people. It requires your help in every way you can. So as Satya said, yes, I am trying to plan something at Auroville, not a branch or whatever it is. Somebody said: “Why don’t we call it ‘Auro-Vidya’ or ‘SACAR’ but I have plans to expand and take a next step. So there I would like my Aurovilian friends to come forward and see that we have established something there. What the Mother has in Her mind I have no idea but yes to buy that plot at Auroville—as Deepshikha was telling you—and to make this place I had some kind of a vision or dream-contact and later Huta-ben confirmed that. Even the plot that I bought at Auroville has been a direct intervention by the Mother. So I know it has a truth but how it will manifest, when will it manifest, I have no clue at all. But friends, I seek your help, your blessings, your goodwill so that my journey towards the Mother can go on relentlessly. And as Alok said very rightly, yes, that is my single prayer, that let me work for Her till the last breath. I know Alok himself has to be my physician perhaps because my body does not really come with my aspiration and inspiration. But it does not matter. Body may just drop off whenever it is not needed or when it does not do the Mother’s work. But I know I will move on, I will walk on with your support and perhaps run also, not just walk.

“Thank you everyone for coming here.”

The ceremony ended with a high-tea organized by the members of SACAR.

With warm regards,
Anurag Banerjee
Founder
Overman Foundation.

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