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At the Feet of The Mother

Correspondence 1933, January (I)

1933

Each has his own periods of fulfilment and difficulty, his own distinct course and times and seasons of the sadhana.

*   *   *

1933?

(Dilip had written that Jyoti was constantly shocked
that people should lie, “But while we all agree that
we all lie she seems to think that she is
incapable of lying!”)

Lies? Well, a Punjabi student at Cambridge once took our breath away by the frankness and comprehensive profundity of his affirmation: “Liars! But we are all liars!” It appeared that he had intended to say “lawyers”, but his pronunciation gave his remark a deep force of philosophic observation and generalisation which he had not intended! But it seems to me the last word in human nature. Only the lying is sometimes intentional, sometimes vaguely half-intentional, sometimes quite unintentional, momentary and unconscious. So there you are!

*   *   *

1933?

No, certainly not. If you gave my name, it would be as if I were advertising myself in your book. I did not care to have anything of the kind written, as I told you, because I do not think these things are of any importance. I merely wrote, in the end, a brief summary of the most outward facts, nothing inward or personal, because I have seen that many legends and distortions are afloat, and this will at least put things in the straight line. If you like, you can mention that it is a brief statement of the principal facts of Sri Aurobindo’s public life from an authoritative source.

Necessarily I have mentioned only salient facts, leaving out all mere details. As for an estimate of myself I have given none. In my view, a man’s value does not depend on what he learns or his position or fame or what he does, but on what he is and inwardly becomes, and of that I have said nothing. I do not want to alter what I have written. If you like you can put a note of your own to the “occidental education” stating that it included Greek and Latin and two or three modern languages, but I do not myself see the necessity of it or the importance.

*   *   *

1933?

Yes, you can take the morning tea as you propose with Saurin and the others. You need have no scruples about that.

There is no harm in the vital taking part in the joy of the rest of the being; it is the participation of the vital that makes it dynamic and communicates it to the external nature.

I shall certainly reply about Madame Gold, but these two days I could not as there were too many letters asking for an immediate answer.

*   *   *

1933

I suppose you can publish the two letters, with the omission you have marked in one of them; I had some hesitation about the passage on Russell, as it is rather personal, but I suppose it does not matter. Your book will at least be striking by variety — apart from the merit of your poems — with all these things in it — including the Rishi and its translation, which must make a rather big morsel.

Keep out the intruder! And let the star of Truth and Bhakti grow in you.

*   *   *

1933?

As yesterday in spite of the new arrangements was almost a typical Monday, I could not do anything — today I have read the second instalment of your poem and part of the third, — up to now it amply fulfils the first promise — but could not finish, unless I chose to gallop through, which would not be a pleasant haste — so I prefer to make you wait. Even as it is, I would have preferred to read more slowly, because going quickly I miss many things. Nolini has given me the typed draft of “Nirvana” — I shall correct it as soon as I have finished your poem and shall complete “Harmony” — it may take me two or three days — for nowadays I am writing slowly.

(…) Murala has written accordingly to us asking for permission to come in a mood of effervescent joy and expectation. This is the deuce of a fix. Apart from all other awkwardnesses, the Mother has no place to put them in — not a place anywhere that is suitable. In fact it is likely that the whole Ashram will be occupied this time. Dr. Mandal and his family are coming and will take the Cocotiers and so on. If we give permission, it means that Maya and they will have to take a separate house — with all that that means — supposing a suitable house is available anywhere near. To refuse is difficult, to permit is difficult. It is the position of the cleft stick — and there we are!

*   *   *

1933

I suppose the English and French[1] can go side by side — but the French should be revised by someone who knows how the language is printed — otherwise the divisions of words, etc. will be all wrong. If you send your proof copy here, the Mother will get it done by Pavitra. Yes Anjali is a very good heading for the translations.

I have read today along with the original your translation of the prayer in Page 373. It is a very fine poem, but it seems to me there are several touches which are more buoyant and hopeful and confident than the atmosphere of the original would tolerate. That atmosphere is one of abandonment, darkness, where all the circumstances justify despair — with it resignation, faith in the eventual utility of it all, a stoic spiritual courage to go through, but all these like a flame burning under the weight of the thick darknesses — not the sense of an immediate help or even prayer or call for it or of any unsparing victory [shata jay] as in the translation. I mention this because it seems to me to give a less powerful, sombre and grandiose note to the mood expressed in the poem than that expressed in the original prayer.

*   *   *

1933

Herewith your proofs. Truly a fine and masterly achievement!

*   *   *

1933?

I send you back your father’s poem in the translation with a closer rendering of the cloud and grove lines to replace my sublimation of Fried Das. Khitish Sen’s renderings of Mirabai are very good and I have only made a few verbal alterations.

You have made a very fine and true rendering of the “Vedantin’s Prayer”.[2] Perhaps so high and rocky a person as the Vedantin, who is very much of a converted Titan, would not have thought of such a sweet and luxurious word as kusumi [flowering] in the midst of his ascent and struggle, but these few alterations do not make any real difference to the spirit. There is quite sufficient nobility and power in your translation. With that, it seems to me as literal as it can be.

I enclose the Mother’s chit for the pillow-cases.

By the way, I forgot to say anything about the Conversations for Harin, — Mother will send a copy… [incomplete].

*   *   *

1933?

Khitish Sen’s translation of the opening lines of the Vedantin’s Prayer is magnificently done. He has quite caught the tone of the original, its austerity and elevation of thought and feeling and severe restraint of expression with yet a certain massiveness of power in it, — these at least were what tried to come out when I wrote it, and they are all unmistakably and nobly there in his rendering. If he can complete it without falling from the high force of this opening, it will be a chef d’œuvre. I notice he has got the exactly corresponding verse movement also. Yours is a fine poem, but I agree with you that this is at once poetic in a high degree and renders more closely the innate character of the… [incomplete].

*   *   *

1933?

Khitish Sen’s translation is indeed a very good poem — and the more remarkable as an achievement because he renders, except in one or two places, with a great closeness. How is it that with such a gift he does not write more in Bengali?

A copy of the Conversations can be given to your young friend, S. Pradhan, but the Mother would prefer to do it not now, but as soon as he comes out from prison. Since he has gone there for civil Disobedience, it must be for a fixed time I suppose, not for this life and a little longer, like a détenu [prisoner]? For how long?

(…)

*   *   *

January 1933?

I return Ashalata’s letter — certainly there seems to be a strength and substance in her intelligence which has an extraordinary promise for the future. I don’t know what were Lawrence’s ganglionic theories, but I am afraid the tangle of ganglia exist and are a more tragic obstacle to the human being than is realised by Aldous Huxley. His own famous novel (I have read only one) is really without his knowing it full of the tangle — so perhaps was the life of Lawrence.

As for your question about the relative value in work, it is not easy to make the overmind view of these things comprehensible in mental language… [incomplete].

*   *   *

January 1933?

Surely something is being done and the consciousness will emerge. The third eye takes time to open, but the opening must come.

Ashalata indeed writes well. But her thesis seems a little doubtful when we have so many cases crowding on us (Maya’s and others) which do not at all square with it. That without internal change external freedom is inutilisable is one side of the matter… [incomplete].


[1] The French original and English translation of Mother’s Prayers and Meditations, some of which Dilip translated into Bengali and published in his book Anami.

[2] A poem by Sri Aurobindo (Collected Poems, 5:49).

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