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At the Feet of The Mother

Reminiscences of The Mother by Richard Pearson (a talk and an article)

An audio recording of a talk by Richard Pearson at the Hall of Harmony in 2001.

Even the Little Sparrow Was Very Important

A transcript  of a talk at the Savitri Bhavan, 2001

I would like to begin with a little-known passage written by the Mother, it is part of a series of visions described by her and published in the Bulletin where she describes the meeting of herself with the soul who was to share her work completely (Sri Aurobindo)—it is very poetic, very short and very beautiful also.

In silence they exchanged the depths of their souls and thoughts.
In silence they spoke of the greatness of the work to be done
And at the splendour of the victory to come
Of which the dazzling radiance about him seems a glorious pledge.

I would now like to describe the Darshan, as I experienced, at the age of eleven and twelve, while going before the Mother and Sri Aurobindo. Darshan day was a very special time for everyone, children and sadhaks. It must have been even more special for adults. We children looked forward to this day for though we saw the Mother very often everyday we saw Sri Aurobindo only on Darshan days. We had a day off from school, the day before we had Darshan day. The next day was also a holiday. It was called ‘Garland Day” since Mother gave back garlands of Devotion (Tulsi) which were offered on Darshan Day. So we had plenty, plenty of time to be collected, to be prepared for the Darshan. It was an experience that was impossible to put into words. Let me describe it as a child as I felt. The line would start from the meditation hall; before that we would be sitting quietly as we are sitting here now, in three small groups and when the line started we would go up the staircase, the same staircase that we use today, and in fact the same staircase we always sat on and waited for the Mother or went up for our birthday; but somehow on Darshan day that staircase seemed so different—it seemed as though you were entering into something so unexpected – we couldn’t recognize things that we saw normally everyday. We entered through the Darshan room by the way that nowadays we exit, facing directly towards the Darshan – as a child I couldn’t see anything being behind with all the grown-ups in front. But the feeling of entering the long room, the hall, was of such coolness and such solid peace. In my simple way, I can only compare the feeling to being in a cool forest. We would come forward; it was a continuous movement—no pranam, no waiting—it was just a constant gradual movement, in front of Mother and Sri Aurobindo. As a child my father always used to say: “First see the Mother and then Sri Aurobindo.” It was his way, and the way most thought in those days. Seeing the Mother gives you such joy, to see the radiance; more radiant than you ever saw her in normal times or on birthdays or blessings in the evenings. She was really majestic and regal. Seated beside Sri Aurobindo, it seems that she had become different; she had become, if you may use the word, Divine. Even that doesn’t really express the feelings one got. Sri Aurobindo was massive and silent and elite, but very gentle, soft, there was nothing hard in that elite ness – his eyes would be fixed on what I don’t know. Not impersonal, but also not personal like the Mother. I would like to describe to you also […] because in that way the time […] Mother would go into trance but she would suddenly stop in the middle of a particular movement and she would be somewhere else—we would call it Mother’s trance. And this happened even in Darshan time and when this happened during Darshan, it seemed at once she was completely in some other sphere. Then at those moments Sri Aurobindo would complement her and become so sweet and smiling and close. He was taking Mother’s role when she was in a trance.

It seemed so beautiful, and this feeling a little before of being in their presence was so strong that when we went out and then passed through the corridor in which now you come in, we would be completely lost to everything—I remember; when you go down the stairs, you meet another person coming up who is your friend or acquaintance, but you would not feel any kind of recognition, you would be lost in the beautiful presence which would accompany you downstairs. The message would be given by some senior sadhaks and one would mechanically take the message and go out in that dream-state and go home and even at home one could feel that presence; maybe later we would read the message for the day. It was this experience that I wanted to share with you.

But I would also like to share with you the experience of the Darshan that Kumudben was telling us about, before Sri Aurobindo’s accident when it was an individual Darshan. The Mother made the list and each person was called according to that order. You would enter before Mother and Sri Aurobindo and first of all sadhaks would kneel down before the Mother, and, bending his head, would wait for the Mother to put her hand on the head and keep it there as long as she did not lift it up. Then one would move to Sri Aurobindo, bow down to him and when he put his hand on the head, one would remain as long as he kept his hand there and then gently took it up. These older sadhaks who described to me this Darshan, said then one would put their head between Mother and Sri Aurobindo and both would together put their hands on the head and one would remain until they removed their hands. This, they said, was the most beautiful experience of the Darshan and I’m sure that when I share these words we too are experiencing the inner state and power such a blessing has.

I would also like to say a strange observation that always surprised me. We see in a picture that Mother and Sri Aurobindo are inside a room and the doorway is clearly visible. But believe me; I could never believe that Sri Aurobindo and the Mother were in a separate room. Whenever I went to Darshan, it was as though they were right up close. There was a long box placed in front in which garlands would be placed…. It was such a living presence and so near.

There were beautiful aspects of external works of Sri Aurobindo which some of you may know and some may not; touching incidents of his relation with the Mother and her relation with Sri Aurobindo, in which she describes certain beautiful things. Let me tell you a few of these stories. The Mother tells of a cyclone; the wind and rain was pouring and she rushed to Sri Aurobindo’s room to close the windows because he would be writing and he might not have noticed the cyclone. And when she went in, she suddenly felt such peace, such stillness that the rain did not enter, though the wind was raging outside and the windows were open. This took her by surprise.

Another incident she mentioned is speaking about a person’s character. She remarked that if you open somebody’s drawer, you get a very good idea about his personality; but there is an exception—Sri Aurobindo. On Sri Aurobindo’s table everything looked in complete disorder, but he knew exactly where everything was. And if somebody moved a paper, a pen or something, he would say: “This is not where I left”.

There is a sweet story told by Pujalal. He had the permission to clean the room of Sri Aurobindo early in the morning at five and Mother instructed him in detail what he should do. He should not disturb Sri Aurobindo in any way; he should not even look at Sri Aurobindo; he had to do all his work as though nobody was there. But one day Mother came and met him at the door. She was waiting for him and she said, “Today be very careful. On the top of the central door, there is a little sparrow which has come to rest and you have to be very careful not to wake it”. Here, I say, the mercy and compassion of our Lord is so great that even the little sparrow that had come and was sitting there was very, very important.

Mother spoke of Sri Aurobindo as the perfect gentleman— she said she had met many, many, men in her life but she never met a perfect gentleman until she met Sri Aurobindo. She didn’t comment further on that but I would like to tell you that Sri Aurobindo rarely spoke in the first person—he may have written so. When he spoke, he would simply say, “Can this letter be posted?” “Could this be done?” It was as though he was requesting something and as rightly said, he never raised his voice, except on an occasion when somebody was angry with the Mother, and Sri Aurobindo shouted, “Who is this?” That person almost fell down the stairs!

A very old sadhak who Was close to Mother and Sri Aurobindo, Bulada, used to call the relation between the Mother and Sri Aurobindo as a “mutual admiration society”—Sri Aurobindo admired the Mother and Mother was all praise and respect for Sri Aurobindo.

“Without him, I exist not. Without me he is unmanifest.”
The Mother

Mother also described how Sri Aurobindo feels a person—a letter would come saying that such and such a person was ill or some person was troubled with some bad vibration. This was brought to the notice of Sri Aurobindo. The Mother used to say: I saw a hand come out and simply two fingers fixed that fault or vibration or illness and just removed it and the person would feel completely relieved. This was of course the Mother’s subtle vision. We have the evidence in the Agenda; we know that…. Mother describing the years spent when she was with Sri Aurobindo said: “I was so secure, I could do anything, try anything, I didn’t even have to question; I knew that Sri Aurobindo was there and that was enough for me.”

The Force in her drew earth’s subhuman broods;
And to her spirit’s large and free delight
She joined the ardent-hued magnificent lives
Of animal and bird and flower and tree.
They answered to her with the simple heart.

Book IV, 2   Page 138


(The above transcript was previously published in “Remembering Sweet Mother and Sri Aurobindo. Darshan”, 2006).

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