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At the Feet of The Mother

Sri Aurobindo and The Mother as I saw Them Fifty Years Back – by T. Kodandarama Rao

“Difficulties come not single, but come in battalions”, came true in my case, even at the age of fourteen. But they were a blessing in disguise; for they turned me Godward. I was seized with the spirit of renunciation, and more so after I came into contact with the works of Shankara, Vivekananda, Ramathirtha and the Vairagya school of philosophy. Ascetic life is only a preparation for something higher, which I did not envisage clearly. There was a deep yearning and aspiration to know the Divine. But there was no guide to lead me towards the goal. Mantra and Japa helped me to a great extent. Pranayama I practised without anybody’s guidance. Shyness to approach others was a drawback in me. And having approached some who could not give me the necessary help, I became desperate and depressed. At last I resigned myself to fate.

It is said that an earnest seeker after Truth will be taken to the Divine Guide or the latter himself will go to the seeker and help the aspiring soul. The former happened in my case. On one Christmas evening, in 1920, I suddenly started for Pondicherry to see the Great Master Sri Aurobindo. A friend of mine also followed me, though for a different purpose. Though there was an initial disappointment in not having the Darshan of the mighty Master, I had his Darshan the second day. I was also fortunate enough to meet the gracious Mother before I saw the Master.

How to describe these divine personalities? This is possible only to those who have dived deep and gone very high up and become wide and luminous. The serene, sweet and beautiful divine personality of the Mother touched me even at the first sight of her. I did not know then that she was destined to lead thousands of persons to Purity, Light, Strength, Peace and Perfection in future.

Sri Aurobindo appeared to me like the great Shiva whom I had been worshipping for a very long time. He was all golden, not figuratively but actually. In the ancient Hindu spiritual works, gods and goddesses and great Rishis are described as golden (hiranya varnam, hiranmayam), the supramental colour. With a smooth golden body emitting light and flowing locks over his shoulders glowing bright, and shining eyes penetrating deep into everything, Sri Aurobindo was majestic in his appearance. His gait was royal and when he was pacing to and fro in the verandah, he appeared to be drawing force and using it according to his divine will. Sri Aurobindo’s touch was magnetic and awakened the slumbering cells into life and activity.

About four months after I had the first Darshan of the Master, I went to him again for a few days’ stay. Afterwards, from July 1921, I stayed with the Master for three years. It is not possible to record here all the innumerable experiences I had due to the grace of the Master. As a matter of fact, everybody got experiences according to his nature, opening and aspiration and surrender. In an integral yoga, multiple ways are opened to multiple personalities to know the Integral Truth. I shall describe here some aspects of the Master’s personality as it appeared to external man. For to know him or judge him fully is impossible for any one, unless one is able to reach his level which was supramental and far above it. The common man is interested to know how a spiritual person acts, talks and how he deals with others. Even here we cannot judge him according to our standards, for the ways of the divine person are mysterious.

Sri Aurobindo lived a secluded life, confined to his room. But this did not mean that he did not speak to anyone or was always silent and grave. On the other hand, he used to meet persons, sadhakas and outsiders both in the morning and evening for about an hour. In the mornings, between 9 and 10 a.m. he used to see visitors and sadhakas also. I was going to him now and then in the morning to narrate my experiences and clear some doubts. At that time, I used to feel the aroma of lotuses in his presence. In those days there were no flowers kept on his table and much less the lotuses. When I told some friends about this, they said that it was my psychic sense and nothing more. They could not explain the phenomenon. But I read in some books on Rajayoga later on that great yogis emitted this lotus fragrance from their divine bodies.

When explaining things Sri Aurobindo used to raise his palm and the lines in his palm which were prominent could be seen well. I was curious to know about the significance of these lines according to Western palmistry, I could see well separated the life line and the head line and the heart line which were all deep and well-marked in a royal palm as it were. Apart from these, the line of fate was well marked and could be seen rising from the wrist and going straight up the centre of the palm to the mount of Saturn. This line indicated success, fame and brilliance in the path chosen by the Master. The heart line was deep, clear and well coloured. The line of head not too widely separated and one end of it commencing on the mount of Jupiter or with its main branch from the mount of Jupiter is one of the most brilliant marks of all according to Cheiro. A deep cut and fine head line could be seen which indicates a brilliant mind. Sri Aurobindo had artistic fine philosophic fingers with a firm thumb and bright shining nails. An elementary study of the lines mentioned above characterises the person possessing these as having a balanced head and heart and great will power, noble affection for others and being a man of destiny. If a great palmist had taken the palm impression of this mighty person he might have given more interesting details. I have mentioned what everybody could see easily when Sri Aurobindo raised his palm when talking to people.

Sri Aurobindo was pacing to and fro very fast in his room and verandah for six to eight hours a day, meditating on persons, things and events and on himself. When doing so it appeared as if he was in a high state of consciousness and gave the impression of a Shiva or Mahakali with dishevelled hair moving about willing great things.

When the Master sat on his chair for conversation he was sometimes very silent and serene and at other times quite jovial and laughing and cutting jokes and mixing with one and all. Often his gaze was upward as if he was stationed high above and came down to the level of ordinary persons when talking to them. He was always alert and never in the so-called Samadhi state with closed eyes at the meditation time. Clad in a dhoti in all seasons of the year, he was equal to heat and cold. With regard to food, he was never punctilious about the taste or richness or delicacies of food. Whatever was given he tasted with equal rasa and often the cooks employed gave unwholesome and tasteless dishes, but the Master enjoyed all kinds of food without murmur.

In 1921, in the Guest House where the Master and we — about ten disciples — were living, there was only a common lavatory and a common bare bathroom. The Master along with others made use of these. It was wonderful to see how he finished these ablutions in less than five minutes time.

I have given some details regarding the external habits and personality of the Master to show how he was very simple and equanimous to the touches of Nature. This does not mean that he decried or criticised those who led a luxurious life. A person may lead a rich or a poor life, but it must be done with the consciousness that all is Divine and one must not be attached to either.

The Mother was and is a personification of “Grace”. I felt and got force whenever I approached the Master. And when I approached the Mother, I felt purity, peace and sublimity. She was so kind and gracious to all. After the evening meditation and talks she used to serve cocoa to all before they departed, every evening. For dinner and supper, she led the Master to the dining room and attended to the needs of others. She used to spend long hours in meditation with the Master after the evening meditation was over, before the night meal. In 1923 my wife used to see visions about the Four Personalities of the Mother, — Maheshwari, Mahakali, Mahalakshmi and Mahasaraswati described by Sri Aurobindo in his masterly work, The Mother — descending into the Mother. Though some were sceptical at the time about this, it was confirmed later on by the Master himself. The Mother’s occult knowledge became known at the time of the stone-throwing incident in the Guest House. It is difficult to know her fully.

Sri Aurobindo’s way of judging persons was unique. He never asked a person about his parentage, antecedents, etc., in order to find out his capacity to take to yoga; his way of knowing was by identity with the person. Knowledge by identity was a great achievement of the ancient Rishis. For integral yoga, a person must have a balanced head and heart, a sound body and a strong vital. One may begin this yoga without all these qualifications, but for a successful life of yoga all these are quite essential. The Master was rejecting many persons who came to take up his yoga as he used to say that it was a very difficult one attended with many ups and downs and only a great hero could succeed in this yoga. Transformation of Nature is a very arduous thing and the change of material body takes a very long time.

Generally people are judged by their external appearance and garb. But to enter into the soul of a person and find out his worth is a stupendous task. Sri Aurobindo and the Mother could judge persons by entering into their heart and soul for their way of knowing persons and things was by identity.

Approaching the Master for fulfilment of desires and cures of ailments was looked down upon and discouraged and so people generally came to ask about yoga. This does not mean that the Master did not exercise his powers whenever necessary to help people in distress. Though the Master knew very well that India was going to get independence and it was as sure as the rising of the sun tomorrow, he did not dissuade the political leaders who approached him for advice in politics, nor ask them to slacken their efforts to win freedom for the country, but asked them to fight the British on all fronts. Effort is quite necessary before the Grace comes. Though he did not come out to lead the country for political freedom after 1911, he gave all his spiritual and moral help to the leaders who approached him and gave them instructions to win the victory for the country. The sadhakas knew the views of the Master and so continued to do yoga unaffected by the political turmoil in the country.

Sri Aurobindo was a great Karmayogin. Karmayogin does not mean doing physical work alone. Physical work is only the grossest form of Karmayoga. Sri Aurobindo was writing, planning and shaping the destinies of the things to come. He was trying to bring down a Force into the Earth-consciousness so that a level of consciousness appeared on earth which would change the destiny of the present world and mankind. This was a stupendous task, the magnitude of which nobody could understand and it was unprecedented in the history of the world. He directed all his energies, spiritual, mental and physical towards this end. He called the new Power “Supermind”. He had to attain to this state first and afterwards bring it down to earth. Every now and then when he was asked as to what state he had attained, he would say, not the highest Supermind. The Mother collaborated with him in this mighty work.

Sri Aurobindo helped the progressive nations during the First World War and worked for the rise of Russia with a new ideology. He also foresaw the emergence of Asia and wrote an instructive article in 1919 about the future shape of things to come.

In 1921 and afterwards, the non-cooperation movement started by Mahatma Gandhi was in full swing. As Sri Aurobindo was a great political leader before the advent of Gandhi, thousands used to come to him for advice as to the future course of action. As the C.I.D. police were always watching the movements of the Master, he avoided seeing all these persons except a few leaders. After Tilak’s death Sri Aurobindo paid homage to him in an article “A great mind and a great will”. Thereafter Gandhiji sent his son Devdas Gandhi with a request to the Master to come out and lead the country. Sri Aurobindo said that Gandhiji would win freedom for India and that his own work was elsewhere in other fields and he predicted that India would get freedom and become the spiritual leader of the world.

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