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At the Feet of The Mother

Chapter 7. From Darkness to Light

During the one year of my preparation for the Matriculation I was reducing the number of my visits to Bharati’s house and increasing the time of my stay in Sri Aurobindo’s, with the result that an intimate relation was formed with Bejoykanta and Saurindranath Bose who too was living there. Bharati once or twice asked me, “Why, my boy, have you stopped coming to my house?” I could not forget this. In this respect, in my mother’s heart and in the heart of Bharati I seem to perceive the same thing, an echo of the play of the World Mother in her fragmented nature of the three gunas.

One day it was noon. I proceeded as usual to Sri Aurobindo’s house. No human voice was heard as I walked down the street. The sun was at the meridian; it was all lustre. So extraordinary was its light that nothing could keep hiding in the places lit up wide by it; all must come to light. Not a speck of dust in that broad daylight; it was as though the presence of Lord Krishna behind the sun, pervading the whole sky, was there to enhance a hundredfold with its dark blue the light of the sun shining therein. Nothing could conceal itself in that great light. As I note down my experience of this time, it comes to my memory clothed in that significance. What was then only an impression left on my consciousness seems now to have been an unforgettable experience, an unearthly sunlight.

I do not know what account I gave to my family, specially to my mother, for my absence from the midday meal. The real reason, of course, was that it was the time for me to go to Sri Aurobindo’s house, after taking my bath in Srinivasachari’s house.

Unaccountably joyful, I entered Sri Aurobindo’s house. I found Bejoykanta waiting in the verandah downstairs and, on seeing me, he called me to him, his face smiling. I too approached him with a heart full of delight, not knowing why. He then said, “I told Sri Aurobindo about you and also told him about your strong desire to see him.” (Nowadays we say “to have darshan”.) Bejoykanta added, “I was just thinking how and through whom to send for you. Come up, let’s go.”

It was twelve or twelve-fifteen at noon. As I think now of my climbing the stairs, it seems to me as if I was truly going up towards the sun out of the dark state of my consciousness!

The scene I saw:

It was for the first time I got up to the first floor of Sri Aurobindo’s house. In the long verandah overlooking the wide courtyard below, there were big windows giving a wide view southwards… all the doors of all the rooms were open… Everywhere and on everything there fell an all-revealing light, nothing but light… nothing was seen covered or screened, nothing was unrevealed… no spot hidden from light… My heart too, unwittingly, with no doors to close or conceal anything, free of confusion or perplexity, wide-open, soared up in sheer delight! I was in this state and Sri Aurobindo stood there, his eyes gazing southwards… His small feet appeared to my eyes as two red lotuses. His hair partly hung on his chest, partly on his back. It was still wet from his bath; water dripped from its ends. His bare broad chest shone in great beauty. His divine gaze did not yet turn towards me.

Bejoykanta got up first. I followed him, reached the head of the long corridor and, as I just stood there, Sri Aurobindo, who was about twenty feet away, turned his eyes upon me. Whether I walked to him or took a leap to him, I do not know. What I remember is that a lamp was lit everywhere in me and I saw in a spontaneous and automatic movement in front of me an intense celestial beauty. My being unknowingly swam, as it were, in a sea of silence, it fell prostrate at the lotus-feet of the Master, it did not utter “My Refuge, my Refuge”, but lay there body, life and mind all together a single block. Sri Aurobindo touched me with his flower-like hands and made me stand up. I drank the drink he gave me. That eternal sight still lives in my memory in the same form. I do not know why I burst into sobs as I clasped him. Tears streamed down from my eyes. Were they tears of delight now that I had attained the celestial joy of Indra-loka, or were they the regrets of my ego watching the imminent end of its life? I cannot say. Bhakti is a divine acquisition, a thing of wonder; it cannot have its birth without divine grace. When the heart is aroused from sleep by the all-ruling grace, one sees that greatness; it is so delightful to the sight; then only one’s life, possessed of the knowledge of the Lord’s universal state and His transcendent state, will know how to live at once in all the three states.

The sight seen by me at that young age, as I lay at Sri Aurobindo’s feet, comes vividly into my memory. Immeasurable wonder drowned me. What I saw was the repetition of a marvel of many years before.

Our village. A huge sand-hill far away from the village. On the sand-hill stood rows of thick-set palm trees almost striking the sky. On the north of the hill in the lowland was a wide and deep reservoir of water. It was the village-tank. The tank was full of lotuses and there were lilies too in a little corner of it. On its eastern bank was a banyan tree; at a distance from that a peepal tree.

In the evenings the Brahmins of our village in order to perform their evening rites (sandhyā-vandanam) would start from the village, cross the mango-grove, amalaki-grove, tamarind-grove, date-palm for­est, etc., wade through the small stream flowing with a soft murmur, climb the sand-hill with its palm forest, get down to the bank of the tank and sit by its edge. After having performed the evening rites, Japa and Tapa, they would get up and, all of them reciting together the Viśhnusahasranāama (the thousand names of Vishnu), come back to the village.

On the eastern bank of the tank was a small temple of Ganesh, the holy image of Aiyanar at the border of the village.

One evening. Darkness had just crept over the place. I was sitting on the sand-hill by the tank. I was then about 8 or 9 years old. Four or five Brahmins were still on the bank occupied with the performance of rites.

In that dim darkness of the evening, just two or three stars twinkled in the western sky.

And then, in front of me at a short distance and gradually drawing nearer and rising above as it came close to my head, there appeared a shining ball, a big ball of the size of a palm fruit. Its lustre was dark blue. My eyes fixed on it, I kept looking at it. That ball shone soothing my eyes, comforting my body, seizing my heart and, as it slowly swam up, proceeded far to the south; my sight followed its course till it disappeared.

I must have been immersed deep within me at that time because I was oblivious of the earth and voyaging in the sky. Someone in the darkness, his face I could not see, called me to go home and so I came back to the waking state. Ten miles away from our village to the south-east was Pondicherry!

Sri Aurobindo had not yet come to Pondicherry. The beings of the upper worlds were as if making ready the blessed town of Pondicherry to receive Him!

While I lay at Sri Aurobindo’s lotus-feet for the first time I saw once again that glowing ball, familiar to me and quite close, appearing in the dark blue sky within me and leading me towards the south. It seemed as if the star had accomplished its ordained work.


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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.