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At the Feet of The Mother

Pilgrim of the Supermind – Tributes to Nolini-da. Part 3 by Arabinda Basu

33 years ago, on 7th February 1984, Nolini Kanta Gupta, a foremost disciple of Sri Aurobindo and The Mother, left his body. 

The Mother Herself had testified to Nolinida’s inner status on his birthdays cards. In 1969 she said, “en route towards the superman”, in 1970 “with love and affection for a life of collaboration”… “For the prolonged continuation of this happy collaboration”… and in 1973, “My blessings for the transformation.”

As Sisir Kumar Mitra wrote, “Ever averse to limelight and to any personal reference, Nolini Kanta rarely speaks about himself.  His grave personality with its reserve and firmness covers a soft heart, a sweet amiability and a humorous temper which only the yogi in him knows how and when to express”.

In the following weeks we will share several tributes to Nolini-da’s life. These reminiscences we find to be very inspiring and moving. 



Prof. Arabinda Basu

Sri Aurobindo has introduced to spiritual seekers a new Yoga — the Integral Yoga. Its integrality consists in the novelty and totality of its aim. He is emphatically clear that the primary and ultimate purpose of yoga is to realize the Divine. In his experience of the supreme Reality, the Divine Being has many aspects. The integral Yoga aims at realizing all the aspects in one comprehensive experience. It is not being suggested that a practitioner of the integral yoga can have this experience all at once. He cannot do so because the medium of knowing the Reality that has been utilized for the purpose till now is not capable of achieving the aim of the integral yoga. This is why Sri Aurobindo insists that a new level of consciousness must evolve in spiritual seekers which will enable them to have the integral knowledge of the Divine. But before this new level of consciousness can be evolved, says Sri Aurobindo, the Reality has to be realized by the means that is at the disposal of a seeker now:

Man is a mental being. Even in his spiritual quest mental consciousness is his means of progress towards the goal. Mental consciousness purified, made calm and tranquil and receptive of the Light, of the Being-Consciousness-Bliss Reality, of God, becomes capable of reflecting that Light. The reflection can be so clear that it almost seems that it is not a reflection but the reflected Reality. This is what passes as knowledge of the Self, experience of God, realization of the Absolute etc. But if we look at the history of spiritual mysticism, it will be easily seen that the experiences described as those of Self, God, Absolute are very different and diverse. It will be wrong to say that the experiences are not genuine. But it will also be right to say that they are partial. There is, however, according to Sri Aurobindo, a level of consciousness which enables a seeker to attain the integral knowledge of the Reality in all its aspects — transcendent, cosmic, individual, static, dynamic, impersonal, personal, spirit, soul, mind, life, matter.

The integral yoga has a twofold aim. First, to attain knowledge edge of the Reality in one or other of its aspects by the spiritualized mental consciousness. Secondly, to lift the consciousness in the seeker already in direct touch with the spiritual Reality to the supramental spiritual consciousness. For the supermind which is Truth-Conscious is in possession of the integral knowledge of the Divine. The supermind is God’s self-knowledge and world-knowledge. It is also simultaneously the Divine Will which is God’s Force of self-manifestation as the world in his own being. The world is to all intents and purposes an organization of three principles, viz. mind, life and matter. These are truly speaking levels and formations of Consciousness in which God is hidden and involved. The purpose of the integral yoga is to manifest the hidden divine supramental Knowledge-Will in them and to transform them by its power. Their transformation will turn mind, life and matter into the transparent means of revealing the hidden Divine in them. This radical change of mental, vital, and material Nature of several yogis will be the basis of the formation of a community of supermen. Their collective life will be directed by Knowledge unmixed with Ignorance, empowered by spontaneously effective Will and an expression of unitive Love. Their life will be the Life Divine.

Nolini Kanta is a name to reckon with in the history of man’s spiritual evolution. In spite of being an amazingly versatile talent bordering on genius, he was first and foremost a seeker of the spiritual life. Under the luminous and effective guidance of Sri Aurobindo and the Mother he blossomed into a yogi of high stature and all-round spiritual growth. A long time ago he made a clear choice. Not for him were the lures of the world, there was one thing to seek — the Mother of all creatures and existences. The poet in him gave expression to his preference thus:

Turn my gaze away from thousand nothingnesses —
One thing for me is enough and more
О Queen of hearts!

What avails the senses each to pursue its luring fire
That leads but to a dismal engulfing bog,
To nothingness or worse?

The Sense of the senses dwells at home
And through its moon-lit grace distills
Peace and ease and rapture exquisite!
The essence of delights, the secret sap of blooms,
The winkless Light beyond all flickerings,
The one treasure intimate — it is Thou!

My all has melted away and vanished
Into the single orb of thy compassion,
О my One and All![1]

The note of rejection of transitory values is clear and loud. Not only that, the poet-seeker’s attraction for the Divine is beyond doubt. Nevertheless at times he feels

In Thee I am a perfect slave,
Sovereignly free and happy!
Without Thee I become the master
Bound head to foot, a figure of misery!

Thus he enjoins himself and others to

Aspire wholly,
Ask for the fullness of Grace —
But weigh not the measure of Response,
Nor repine if seems doled out scantily, niggardly,[2]

Give yourself wholly and ever more and more,
It is your unreserved giving that will create the spaciousness
to hold safely the gift from the Divine.[3]

Acceptance of the Grace, however, in whatever measure it comes is an important step in the sadhana. For

The high wisdom knows and gives just what is needed —
Could we only rest contented and move in its rhythm and not transgress its will,
Serene would be the path and perfect and even prompt the achievement.[4]

Nolini Kanta’s aspiration soars higher and he prays to the Lord that the voice of his silence may enter him rousing every atom of his being, till it vibrates to his Truth and is a harp of its utterance and its visible embodiment. He prays for strength and power to withstand the tumultuous surges of the wide world that rush towards him assured of victory. He hopes and aspires that they may roll back in confusion and turn away upon themselves and leave him as a virgin rock tranquil and ever firm on its pristine foundations.

Lord, this is my prayer:
May the voice of thy silence enter me —
Rousing every atom of my being,
Till it vibrates to thy Truth,
And is the harp of its utterance
And is its visible embodiment.

All the tumultuous, surges of the wide world
Rush towards me assured of victory —
May they roll back in confusion and turn away upon themselves
And leave me as a virgin rock
Tranquil and ever firm on its pristine foundations.

May the universe dissolve, may it vanish
Even like a dream —
And thou alone appear, thou alone abide
One in thy multitudinous reality,
I shall find a new world in Thee, a world made of Thee,
Therein each limb of mine shall realise its fullness of union with Thee
And shall taste utter felicity.[5]

The seeker has gained insight into the nature of Reality which reveals itself to him as Pure Consciousness and also as unconscious Matter. He sees clearly that

Spirit is Matter sublimated, Matter is Spirit crystallised
Soul is Body introvert, Body is Soul extravert.[6]

He has gained a new vision as is evident from his own description of it in the following lines:

My eyes have followed the lines of thy beauty,
The winging curves of grace that embody thee —
In a delight that was gathered to its core of utmost intensity,
To its height of supreme exquisiteness…
A light bathed them, a glory suffused them slowly —
A clear and vast vision entered,
stood face to face with Truth —
And the scales of Ignorance fell away![7]

He has developed subtle hearing and subtle touch. His “ears have drunk God’s voice — its ringing sweetness filtered through the depths of my being and it awakens crystal listenings that mirror and capture the Mother-harmony of immemorial spheres and God’s rhythm divine that graces and moulds his life”.[8] And so his hands

… have touched the roses of thy feet —
The very soul of fragrance has passed into the substance
Of my transmuted earth….
This body has grown sheer into thee as if it were thy own limb![9]

Nolini Kanta feels that there is a deluding midworld that with its lurid shadow divides heaven and earth. But he also feels confident that

… one day they shall come close
And the lightning fire leap out
To consume the shadow track
And turn it into the gleaming path
For Heaven to descend upon earth.[10]

His ego has melted away. He breathes and moves and acts not for himself but for the beloved Lord of his life. He is a slave of His Will and a plaything in His sweet hands. His seeming T is an empty thing that bubbles up with God’s breath as He chooses and utters and enshrines His iridescent Delight and sinks back again and melts into His tranced silence.[11]

All this effort at dissolving his ego and filling his being with the presence of the Lord and the might of the Mother gives him a new confidence. And he sings:

Thou hast proved, О mighty one,
that the meanest of things here below is rounded
with a divine ending,
and man is not all too human:
there is a prophecy in mortal creatures that only bides its time,
nothing is impossible even in this sorry world
For, behold, I am no longer what I was.[12]

The newborn confidence is the armour in his assault on the higher levels of consciousness. Knowledge of the Self and union with the Divine equipped Nolini Kanta with the capacity to ascend to the spiritual mind of which there are many levels. At the end of his long life Nolini Kanta succeeded in elevating his consciousness to the Overmind plane. Along with this ascent his nature was also changing and evolving. Consequently he achieved a versatility of capacities which enabled him to engage quietly but successfully in various kinds of activities. Through this development of nature he was preparing to meet and unite with God in many aspects and along different lines. It can even be said that he had a foretaste of the culmination of the integral yoga,

have heard His call and He has embraced me intimately from afar,
Lo, I am grown into the translucency of His divine serenity,
the earth-made cells of flesh are now spirit-stars
that bear the undecaying lustres of immortality.[13]

Nolini Kanta was a forerunner of a new kind of being on the earth — though not a true superman yet, but one who was very much above mental humanity. His life was an illustration of a basic truth of the integral yoga — that consciousness in the world, that is, as it is now on the spiritual mental level, is on the march towards its own superior poise, the supramental.

It is to be earnestly and prayerfully hoped that Nolini Kanta would continue to evolve towards the ultimate and evolutionary spiritual destiny on this earth — the ascent to the supramental Divine, the descent of the integral Knowledge-Will of that Consciousness into the earth-consciousness and the consequent transformation even of physical Nature and the establishment of the divine life in the world.

The following messages of the Mother given to Nolini Kanta on his birthday respectively in 1969, 1971 and 1973 bear eloquent testimony to the truth of our estimation of the life, character and achievement of this valiant Karmayogi whose karma, sādhanā was a sacrifice dedicated to the Supreme.

Happy Birthday
en route towards the Superman,..[14]


Happy Birthday
With my love and affection
for a life of collaboration
and my blessings for the prolonged continuation of this
happy collaboration in peace and love.


Happy Birthday
My confidence and my blessings for the transformation.
Let us march ahead towards the Realisation.


[1] Nolini Kanta Gupta, Towards the Heights, The Culture Publishers, Calcutta, 1944, p. 36.
[2] Ibid., p. 49.
[3] Op. cit., p. 49.
[4] Op. cit.
[5] Op. cit., p. 18.
[6] Op. cit., p. 11.
[7] Op. cit., p. 26.
[8] Op. cit., p. 26.
[9] Op. cit., p. 27.
[10] Op. cit., p 41
[11] Op cit., p. 33.
[12] Op. cit., pp. 31-32.
[13] Op. cit., p. 34.
[14] The Mother’s message is in French in which occurs the word surhomme rendered here by the word superman. Whether surhomme is the same as what Sri Aurobindo means by superman and what the Mother has designated the supramental being may be open to doubt. But it is not necessary to raise the question here because surhomme is certainly a higher type of being than the ordinary merely mental.

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To be spontaneous means not to think, organise, decide and make an effort to realise with the personal will.