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At the Feet of The Mother


Specially photographed for the Prabasi and the Modern Review

The Mother with Champaklal



My dear child

This year, the Grace has arranged circumstances in such a way that you are closer to me than you have ever been — and all through you have proved most reliable and effective, always ready, always there when you are needed, always doing what needs to be done. I am happy to tell you that on your birthday.

With my love and blessings.

The Mother


It is a delight to present this revised and enlarged edition of Champaklal’s Treasures, which contains new material recently found among Champaklal’s papers. This book comprises writings and talks of Sri Aurobindo and the Mother that were collected and preserved by Champaklal. These letters notes, messages and conversations delve deep into the values of a life based on truth, light, love, beauty, harmony and the divine consciousness. They are full of insights into the problems of transforming one’s nature and offer ways to overcome them.

Champaklal was interested in reading, writing, painting and music, but always his central aspiration was to serve the Divine. Sincere aspiration, even when not expressed in words, evokes a response from the Divine Grace. Champaklal’s life is a standing example of this truth. His aspiration was fulfilled in a number of ways, often to his utter surprise. He once said, “I came here with the object of God-realisation. But here, I found the stress on transformation. Very soon, however, both receded and service took hold of my being entirely.”

Service was Champaklal’s mantra and he served Sri Aurobindo and the Mother with joy for over five decades. Neither sleep nor food had claim on his time. He was bright, smiling, sincere, firm, equal to all, transparent and humble. M. P. Pandit truly said, “He is the one man who can be an ātmaratih (one whose delight and contentment is in the self) of the Upanishad.” It was a great privilege for Champaklal to live constantly under the direct influence of Sri Aurobindo and the Mother. Slowly he proved worthy of their faith. The Mother relied on him so much that once she exclaimed, “Champaklal is my memory!” He himself said, “Sri Aurobindo and the Mother are my all; they alone are my aradhyadeva, the form of the Divine that I worship. Whatever they have taught me, through words or gestures or writings, I follow to my utmost capacity.”

Whenever Champaklal was free, he used to note down the events of his daily life, including his visions, experiences and problems. He wrote to Sri Aurobindo and the Mother regularly — short notes about work, long letters about his personal progress and sadhana — and received guidance from both of them. He also brought to them the letters of others. To help others was his very nature. He served them not only directly but by helping the disciples and devotees who came to their feet. About the notes, messages and letters collected in this book Champaklal once told me: “These writings to devotees are most valuable. I have preserved them not only for myself but for others, so that they may receive what I have received from them.” These writings are truly Champaklal’s treasures. Here is an example. Troubled by the “devil”, the young sadhak René wanted to leave the Ashram. Sri Aurobindo wrote to him: “You are quite mistaken when you say that if you will go, there will be no Devil left in the Ashram. The Devil is not here because of you, he is here because he wants to give trouble to the Mother and spoil her work. And what he chiefly wants is to drive her children away from her and especially those who like you are nearest to her. If you go, he will remain; and not only he will remain, but he will feel that he has won a great victory and will set himself with a double vigour to attack her through others.” Sri Aurobindo further explained, “You talk of not giving trouble to the Mother and to me, but do you not realise that nothing can be worse trouble to us than your going away?”

Part I, “Letters of Sri Aurobindo and the Mother”, covers a wide variety of subjects. These letters offer solutions to many problems, emotional, psychological, social and spiritual. They deal both with the personal problems of spiritual life and with the larger problems concerning the nature of man, the world and the Divine. They throw light on Sri Aurobindo and the Mother’s vision of life and their way of working with those who follow their path.

Part II contains “Notes, Prayers and Reflections of the Mother”. In “Myself and My Creed”, the Mother’s declaration of a true slave of God, reflects her total surrender to the Divine. In a note with twelve points, she summarises her ideas about what she wants to bring down into the material world. For the Mother, the important thing was Sri Aurobindo’s work and her conscious support went out to all that helps that work.

Part III, “Miscellany”, tells us about the significance of blessings, blessings-packets, the Mother’s signature and several symbols she designed. It also contains some Sanskrit names given by Sri Aurobindo and the Mother to disciples and devotees, with meanings such as Anurakta (lovingly devoted), Dyuman (the luminous one), Huta (the offered one), and Navajata (the new born). There is also some early regulations for the sadhaks of the Ashram.

Part IV, “Correspondence with Early Disciples”, contains letters by Sri Aurobindo written to Barindra Kumar Ghose and other early disciples. They give an intimate picture of the early days of the Ashram and provide details about Sri Aurobindo’s sadhana between 1920 and 1924. These letters show that Sri Aurobindo took meticulous care of his disciples — those in the Ashram and outside it. His concern for their welfare and his all-pervading compassion are evident in these letters.

Sri Aurobindo first inculcated the revolutionary spirit into his younger brother when Barin visited him in Baroda. His guidance on sadhana, his insights into the work of hostile forces and his description of the vital worlds, “Rakshasi-maya”, will be instructive to those who are doing yoga.

Sri Aurobindo’s answers to the following questions are revealing: Why did I come to Pondicherry? What is the central clue of my yoga? Why have the people of India gone down to ruin? Why do I want a deva-sangha? What should one practise first before taking up this yoga? How does one transform the lower movements of the nature?

Sri Aurobindo and the Mother could surmise the nature of persons by seeing their photographs. They assessed their character through identity with them. Some examples of these character-readings are given here.

One interesting letter deals with the mission of India. Sri Aurobindo observed: “I believe also that it is the mission of India to make this great victory for the world. But what precisely was the nature of the dynamic power of this greater consciousness? What was the condition of its effective truth? How could it be brought down, mobilised, organised, turned upon life? How could our present instruments, intellect, mind, life, body be made true and perfect channels for this great transformation? This was the problem I have been trying to work out in my own experience and I have now a sure basis, a wide knowledge and some mastery of the secret.”

Part V, “Talks and Interviews with Sri Aurobindo and the Mother”, contains advice to sadhaks on various subjects. How can one know when he meets his psychic mate? Did Buddha live in the Supermind? These and other interesting questions are discussed by Sri Aurobindo in this part.

A few sketches of sadhaks done by the Mother are given in this book. Due to her responsibilities for the Ashram, she had very little time to draw, but her portraits and sketches are true artistic treasures; they could reveal more than words. The Mother gave help and encouragement to a number of disciples who wished to draw and paint, both beginners and trained artists. For some of these aspiring artists, she made sketches and suggested compositions. During the early 1920s Sri Aurobindo’s brother Barindra did some oil paintings under the Mother’s guidance. His portrait of Sri Aurobindo and the Mother’s feet is given here.

Apart from dedicated service to the Master and the Mother, painting seems to have been Champaklal’s second love. Painting was an inborn capacity which grew in him and found scope for development in the Ashram. One can see some of his best works — from his early period to his last works in the marbling technique — in the book Champaklal as an Artist. One interesting work, Sri Ramakrishna with the image of Mother Kali in the background, is included here; this unfinished painting was made before Champaklal joined the Ashram. The Mother gave titles to many of his marbling paintings after looking into the movement of forces they suggested; these revelatory captions focus on the hidden meanings the paintings express. One such painting, entitled, “The light will come down and bring peace in the world”, is included in this book.

Nirodbaran once wrote, “Champaklal was not a bhakta of traditional type, but one who has chosen service as the means of self-expression and fundamental realisation. . . That is exactly the spirit he maintained unflinchingly throughout the long decade that we lived and worked together.” Champaklal helped me personally to remould my life towards a Divine-oriented existence, a birth into a new consciousness. My heart overflows with gratitude as I remember the many sacred moments I have shared with him. Those were beautiful days when I worked under his presence and guidance.

Sri Aurobindo and the Mother have given to the modern world the sublime vision of a divine life on earth. Our minds are uplifted by the light emanating from their vast and fathomless knowledge. To study their works is to enlarge the boundaries of our knowledge. The writings and talks collected here will surely inspire the reader to realise their ideal. I am happy that the words preserved by Champaklal during his lifetime will now be shared by a larger audience.

My sincere thanks to Bob of the Ashram Archives, who meticulously went through the manuscript and assisted me in preparing this book. My heartfelt thanks to Apurva, Ganapatibhai and Sunjoy for their help and goodwill, and to Achyutbhai for lending Barindra’s paintings for reproduction here.

I am grateful to the Sri Aurobindo Ashram Trust, the Publication Department, SABDA and the Archives for their support. My special thanks goes to all those at Sri Aurobindo Ashram Press who have collaborated with patience, persistence and goodwill in printing the book.

Sri Aurobindo Ashram