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At the Feet of The Mother

My World: The Mother – by Shanti Doshi (I)

I came to Pondicherry on the 17th November 1930. I was 13 at that time. But there is a history behind it.

My father first came to the Ashram in 1927; he settled here two years later. He left the family without intimation and all the children were in great straits. We used to write to him describing our plight. But he was not opening our letters; he used to pass them on to the Mother. One day, however, an uncle of ours wrote to him mentioning the distress of the family. Finding the handwriting unfamiliar he opened the letter and was greatly upset by its contents. He informed the Mother and asked her what he was to do in the circumstances. The Mother told him: As you are touched by the letter, it is better you go back and return only with your wife’s consent.

Consequently my father came back and stayed with us though only for a short period. Suddenly one day he again left us without notice and returned to the Ashram. This time I started writing to him that I wanted to come to the Ashram. The Mother was approached and she gave permission which was communicated to me. But before I could start I received a wire that I was not to come. It appears the Mother had subsequently enquired of my age and then remarked that I was too young to be permitted to come. But I persisted and the Mother finally said that I could come for the Darshan only. My relatives tried to stop me from starting in many ways. But ultimately I managed to come.

I arrived by the early morning train by 6 a.m. The Mother was to see me the same evening at about 5 p.m. in the Library room. I was informed and taken there by my father. I still remember the scene vividly. The Mother was clad in all white sari, blouse and crown. She was sitting on a high chair. When she saw me she was all smiles and a spontaneous recognition arose in my heart that she was my adhisthatri. I told the Mother that I did not want to go back. She replied that she would ask Sri Aurobindo.

On the 24th was the Darshan. Sri Aurobindo and the Mother were seated on the sofa. As I approached them after my father, Sri Aurobindo smiled. He looked simply wonderful — I cannot describe what he looked like. When I made pranam holding his feet he bent down and blessed. (I must add that each time I did Pranam this way he used to bend down to bless me. I add this because I learnt recently that was not Sri Aurobindo’s custom with all.)

The day after the Darshan, Premanand, the Librarian, came and told me: Mother has sent word that Sri Aurobindo is pleased with you and you can start learning French. Naturally I was overjoyed and started my French lessons with Premanand that very day.

Because of my age I was at first not allowed to participate in the soup function in the evening. But at the instance of my father I was allowed from the Darshan day, 24th November. I was given work with Amrita. My job was to note the meter readings in all the houses in a note book which I was to present to the Mother on the first of every month. In those days the Mother used to sit in the Pranam hall downstairs every first morning and pay the wages to Ashram servants. Amrita used to hand over the monies to her and the workers would come in a line and receive their salary directly from her. I would go with my book at the end.

After fifteen days of my starting French lessons she spoke to me in French but I was unable to follow! However I came to know that after I had started conversing in French she had expressed appreciation of my accent. It would even appear that Sri Aurobindo hearing my talk to the Mother in French had remarked that my pronunciation was good. I mention this by way of recording my gratitude to them for the minute interest they took in my upbringing.

It was in 1932 on my birthday (22nd of May) that there was a memorable interview with the Mother.

MOTHER: What are your ambitions?

I: I do not know anything.

MOTHER: You have ambition to be a big yogi?

Suddenly I remembered that I did have some such desire though at the moment it was not active in my mind. So I corrected myself and said: Yes, Mother.

She then explained to me what it meant to be a big yogi, to have a large number of disciples around oneself. How one had to have a divine consciousness and a realisation of the Divine for that purpose. As I was listening I realised that I had none of those things and I burst out: I don’t want to be a yogi. I want to be your child.

The Mother was pleased and said: Très bien (very good) and blessed me.

Then I mentioned to Mother my ambition to be a big writer.

She heard and went on to describe what qualities are necessary to be a writer and how one must have wide knowledge of so many things before one could become a writer. I saw that I had none of those qualifications then.

As I look back I am moved by the considerate way in which Mother helped me to see myself as I was and to give up vain ambitions on my own. I myself was helped to realise the true state of things.

In keeping with the spirit of Sri Aurobindo’s injunction to speak and act as one would in the presence of the Mother, I started reporting to Mother in my notebook every day the persons to whom I talked during that day and the topics thereof. This continued for one full year in 1933. Occasionally I would ask a question or two and the Mother would invariably answer. Here are a few selections translated from the originals in French.

*

A friend had just offered to present a blanket to me. On my asking the Mother about it, she replied:

If one wants to progress in yoga, one ought not to receive anything except from the Divine.

10.12.1933

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Q: What is the meaning of this passage in the Prayers: What wisdom is there in wanting to live this way or that?

A: The Wisdom is to know what the Divine wants and not to decide for ourselves.

13.12.1933

*

Q: Is it possible to acquire silence by intense aspiration alone and can one do the sadhana by means of this silence?

A: Yes.

*

Q: Does all impurity — mental, vital and physical — disappear by the descent of this silence?

A: Silence cannot cure all impurities but it relieves a good many.

23.12.1933

*

Q: Is my mental surrendered to you?

A: In certain parts yes, but not entirely.

24.12.1933

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Q: What are the parts of the mental that are not yet surrendered?

A: They are parts of the physical mind that are still under the influence of falsehood and ignorance. It is only a perfect sincerity in the aspiration that can illumine them.

25.12.1933

*

It was the 31st of December 1933. A sadhika was ill and the Mother asked Doctor Babu whether the lady could not get well by that night (for the New Year function at midnight). The doctor had said it was impossible. I observed in my notebook that if the doctor had replied, “If it be thy will, it will surely happen”, then the patient would have been able to attend.

The Mother replied:

An answer is not sufficient to change the course of things. Only an aspiration or a faith can do that. For it is only the aspiration and the faith that allow the Divine Grace to act.

3.1.1934

*

Q: This evening I have seized you strongly and I shall never let you go. I will never leave you, never, never, never.

A: Very good, I am very happy you will not leave me. Come for Pranam a little more in silence and quietude and you will see that you feel the force and love.

3.12.1934

*

Q: How do I lose what I receive?

A: By dissipation, by throwing out — either in thoughts, words or acts — the force and energy received.

4.12.1934

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Q: This evening during meditation I felt something descending through my head. I thought it to be thy force.

A: What else do you wish it to be?

4.12.1934

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This is very good. If you persevere with sincerity — an increasing sincerity — one day the vital will be convinced and get converted.

5.12.1934

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Most certainly if you prove yourself to be firm and calm in your resolution not to be identified with the vital, soon it will be tired of its useless revolt and convert itself.

6.12.1934

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In this world all movements are mixed until one attains identification with the Divine.

7.12.1934

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Each one has his difficulties.

7.12.1934

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Q: What is thy aim? To transform the whole world and lead it towards the Infinite? Or something still more vast?

A: Unite your consciousness with mine and you will know my aim.

8.12.1934

*

You will always find my blessings with you when you will be attentive and work hard on your studies.

8.12.1934

*

Q: How do illustrations (in journals) harm?

A: Naturally that depends upon what the illustrations are; but very often they are related only to things of ordinary life and thus they pull the consciousness towards that.

10.12.1934

*

Q: May I have a file?

A: What do you want to place in your file?

10.12.1934

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Q: I want to place myself in thy file so that I may not go far from thee.

A: It is a very good idea.

11.12.1934

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Q: O Mother, when will I become one with thee? When will I live in thee, by thee?

A: You must want it with persistence but without impatience. It is with calm determination that one arrives most speedily. In getting agitated one loses more time than one gains.

12.12.1934

*

The resistance, the revolt of the vital is supported by this bad force, otherwise it would have yielded long ago.

13.12.1934

*

(I had written the following prayer in my notebook and then struck it off:

O Sweet Mother, I pray for thy presence and thy descent in my physical consciousness, in all its activity; thy will and thy knowledge behind all acts, all thoughts, all movements; thy ananda dispelling all the desires of the vital, all that is hostile…)

A: I do not see why you have crossed this prayer; it is as if you wished to suppress the best of yourself.

13.12.1934

*

Q: What are the conditions for the descent of the supramental in myself? I was very happy when I learnt that the supramental is going to descend in a measurable time.

A: These are things of which it is better not to talk. All sincere spiritual effort for the growth of consciousness is a preparation.

18.12.1934

*

Q: Why are joy and love attacked by obscurity? I am not conscious of having done anything wrong. Then how is it that joy and love withdraw and depression takes their place?

A: No, nothing withdraws. It is the physical being that by its nature is incapable of keeping for a long time the joy and love, unless it is fully governed by the psychic.

19.12.1934

*

Yes, it is mostly during the night that the physical being falls into obscurity and inconscience.

19.12.1934

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Q: Why does depression follow joy and happiness, so often?

A: The movements of the consciousness are like those of a pendulum. The more it sways in one direction, the more it then swings in the opposite direction.

19.12.1934

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Q: I have decided that on the day I do not study, I shall not take my food.

A: What a funny idea! You are going to punish your body for a fault the vital commits? That is not just.

22.12.1934

*

I think it necessary that you rest in the afternoon, otherwise you will be still more restless.

24.12.1934

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Q: When will I know thy will for carrying it out?

A: When you learn to be quiet.

24.12.1934

*

Q: I have just heard that you are not well. What is it, my dear mama? Give me your illness I shall accept it with joy.

A: You are very nice, my dear child, but what you propose does not appear to me very practical…. With my blessings.

25.12.1934

*

Q: I am sure that yours is not an illness as we think.

A: There is some truth in what you say.

26.12.1934

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Q: Dear Mother, how are you now?

A: Much better, it is almost over. My blessings are with you.

26.12.1934

*

Q: When you are not well, I should not write much. Pardon me, I have not done so.

A: No, it is all right. You can write freely when you have something to say.

27.12.1934

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Make your love strong enough to conquer your desires. My help is always with you.

28.12.1934

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All my blessings at the beginning of the New Year; I hope it will bring you peace and strength to overcome what seeks to oppose your spiritual progress.

1.1.1935

*

Q: Y. says that the supramental has already descended. Is it true?

A: No.

5.1.1935

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Q: My being says it does not know what this world is. Then why is it so much attracted to the ignorance, falsehood and obscurity of the world?

A: It is just because it does not know the world that it is attracted to its obscurity.

5.1.1935

*

Q: I do not understand this: you are an eternal soul trying to manifest in a body. I thought that the soul is always in the body; there is no existence without its presence.

A: Certainly, it is in the body, but it is not manifested, that is, its presence is not evident and has only very little action on the life of this body.

7.1.1935

*

Q: What am I?

A: Outwardly: You are a child who is unconscious trying to become conscious. Inwardly: You are an eternal soul trying to manifest itself in a body.

7.1.1935

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Q: What part of the being aspires for love, peace etc.?

A: Whichever part of the being (physical, vital or mental) that is open to the psychic influence.

7.1.1935

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Q: I think I see a hidden smile on thy lips in the new photograph. But R. says he does not see it.

A: Yes, the smile is there.

8.1.1935

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Q: How to know if there is depression in another person? One cannot judge by external appearance or by simply looking at the figure.

A: Certainly, it is not by the appearance but by an inner contact.

9.1.1935

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Q: May I know for how many centuries past you have been on the earth?

A: I have never left the earth since its formation.

10.1.1935

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Q: A dream: A serpent bit me. But by mere will the poison was expelled. At last the serpent was killed. I could not have done this in waking condition.

A: Certainly, there are profound parts of the being which have more knowledge and power than the physical being has.

10.1.1935

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Q: The mind wants to know which is the part that rejected the poison (in dream).

A: It is a subtle part of the mind which is in contact with the psychic power.

10.1.1935

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Q: What is the part that now aspires in me?

A: A part of the mind that responds to the psychic influence.

10.1.1935

*

Q: Were you not Krishna?

A: No.

11.1.1935

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Q: Did people know you to be the Supreme incarnate in your previous lives?

A: That depends upon the lives and the people.

11.1.1935

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Q: What does it mean to be calm?

A: Not to get agitated — I mean, above all, morally — in feelings and thoughts.

14.1.1935

*

to be continued…

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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.