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At the Feet of The Mother

Chapter 6. Preparing for the Matriculation Exam

I began now to pass more time in Sri Aurobindo’s house and less in mine. I would go home for food and sleep only. And for this I had a good excuse to give to my family. I was then studying in the Matriculation class of the Calve College, Pondicherry. My class-mate was Krishnamachari, the son of M. Srinivasachari’s elder brother; he was perhaps two years younger than I. As Krishnamachari and I (I was then known as Aravamudachari) had been very intimate and as there were greater facilities for study in his house, such as space, books, etc., I began preparing for the Matriculation in his company. My family was under the impression that my time was all devoted to study. The time left after studies I would spend mostly in Sri Auro­bindo’s house. Sometimes I would take my bath there and sometimes meals too. But I would not eat with the inmates. Bejoykanta would bring for me a slice or two of bread with butter. As my heart was full, the need for food was not much felt. Even some light refreshment would be a feast to me. My association with Bejoykanta grew into intimacy. Once a month or once in two months, seven or eight of us together would go out picnicking to the suburbs of Pondicherry such as Villenour, Oosteri, Pakkamadayanapathu, etc. We would set out early in the morning to return as it grew dark.

Before my friendship with Bejoykanta, I used to go with Ramaswami Iyengar to Villenour or some other villages around Pon­dicherry. Several times Bharati joined us. When he was in the party, the expenses would be borne by the late Krishnaswami Chetty of Muthialpet. With Bharati we could not remain out at night. If Bejoykanta accompanied us, we had to come back by all means before 10 p.m. because Sri Aurobindo used to take his meal between 9-30 and 10 p.m.

Thus those who led an orthodox life were felt by me as strangers whereas others I felt as my kin. I developed a dislike for the family rites and ceremonies and lost all faith in them.

As I record my reminiscences here, I follow all along in the background the ineffaceable footprints visible anew on the path of my life’s pilgrimage. In this interminable flaming journey the chronologi­cal order and the successive arrangement of things are sacrificed. What I consider important is the series of small changes brought about in me by the action of light.

To return to the subject. My heart realised that all attachment to the orthodox way of life had definitely fallen off from me as do the withered leaves from trees. Something else more important had begun to take shape in me imperceptibly. It was not visible to my surface consciousness. Because it was working behind the scenes my wrong conduct, mithyācārathe false way of life — continued yet for a few years. I should live firmly in the truth, express the truth in each movement of life, be a fit instrument of true realities — such were the sweet notes that kept vibrating ceaselessly and noiselessly in my dream-state and that I heard now and again as a soft music in my waking state also.

Although all attachment to the Vaishnava way of life had left me radically, my attachment to my parents, specially to my mother — should I call it desire? love? bond­age? — still continued its hold on me. My mother had the feeling that she would some day in some way lose her eldest child. But as she could not give expression to this feeling, she kept silent. She knew nothing in her outer consciousness about it. “My child spends his time with his friend in the house of Srinivasachari, preparing for the Matriculation examination. After the examination, before he joins the F.A. in Madras, he will come to stay with me for two or three months” — these thoughts my mother cherished in herself and these she expressed as they were clear to her outer mind.

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It is not the personality, the character that is of the first importance in rebirth — it is the psychic being who stands behind the evolution of the nature and evolves with it.