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At the Feet of The Mother

Sri Aurobindo at Pondicherry 5


“The luminous heart of the Unknown is she,
A power of silence in the depths of God;
She is the Force, the inevitable Word,
The magnet of our difficult ascent,
The Sun from which we kindle all our suns,
The Light that leans from the unrealised Vasts,
The joy that beckons from the impossible,
The Might of all that never yet came down.”
        Savitri, Book Three, Canto Two

In the Guest House something intriguingly hair-raising happened. “One day, this Birendra[1] suddenly shaved his head. Moni said he too would have his head shaved, just because Birendra had done it. That very day, or it was perhaps the day after, there occured a regular scene. We had as usual taken our seats around Sri Aurobindo in the afternoon. Suddenly, Biren stood up and shouted, ‘Do you know who I am? You may not believe it, but I am a spy, a spy of the British police. I can’t keep it to myself any longer. I must speak out, I must make the confession before you’. With this he fell at Sri Aurobindo’s feet. We were dumbfounded, almost stunned. As we kept wondering if this could be true, or was all false, perhaps a hallucination or some other illusion — mayā nu matibhramo nu — Biren started again, ‘Oh, you do not believe me? Then let me show you.’ He entered the next room, opened his trunk, drew out a hundred-rupee note and showed it to us. ‘See, here is the proof. Where could I have got all this money? This is the reward of my evil deed. Never, I will do this work again. I give my word to you, I ask your forgiveness…’. No words came to our lips, all of us kept silent and still.

“This is how it had come about. Biren had shaved his head in order that the police spies might spot him as their man from the rest of us by the shaven head. But they were nonplussed when they found Moni too with a shaven head. And Biren began to suspect that Moni, or perhaps the whole lot of us, had found out his secret and that Moni had shaved on purpose. So, partly out of fear and partly from true repentance, for the most part no doubt by the pressure of some other Force, he was compelled to make his confession.

“After this incident, the whole atmosphere of the house got a little disturbed. We were serious and worried. How was it possible for such a thing to happen? How could an enemy find his entry into our apartments, and live as one of us? What should be done? Bejoy was furious, and it was a job to keep him from doing something drastic. However, within a few days, Biren left of his own accord and we were left in peace. I hear he afterwards joined the Great War and was sent to Mesopotamia with the Indian army.”[2]

“This shows how the atmosphere in those days was full of suspicion and also how great was the number of secret agents in Pondicherry. The way in which Biren’s confession came out was a miracle.”[3]

Nolini Kanta, Saurin and Moni went to Bengal in February, 1914, but their sojourn was cut short by the outbreak of the first World War, and they had to return post-haste in September, for fear of being clapped into prison as old criminals. After their return, Bejoy became eager to go to Bengal. Sri Aurobindo did not quite approve of it, but headstrong that he was, he left, only to be grabbed by the British police who were lying in wait for him just outside the boundary of the French territory. He was held in detention for five long years and was released only after the War had ended.

Motilal Roy received contributions from some patriotic persons in Bengal and sent them to Sri Aurobindo from time to time. There were some men like Durgadas Seth of Chandernagore who were really anxious to help Sri Aurobindo, so that he might not suffer the pinch of want in his life of sadhana.

On the 29th March, 1914, the Mother arrived from Paris with Paul Richard. They met Sri Aurobindo in the Guest House at 3.30 in the afternoon. As soon as the Mother saw Sri Aurobindo, she recognised him as the very person who had been guiding her in her sadhana (spiritual self-culture) in France and whom she knew to be Sri Krishna. Her meeting with the Master was of an immeasurable spiritual significance. It was an epochal event, a landmark in the spiritual culture of man. It inaugurated a new era of dynamic spirituality. It initiated a movement unknown to history and humanity. It led to an unwearied collaboration in their mission of raising man from the troubled twilight of his mind into the infinite splendour of the Supramental Light-Force. The age-old propensity to ascetic withdrawal from the world of action was stripped of its customary mask, exposed to the light of an integral spirituality and tossed into the limbo of the past. Life was affirmed and accepted as the field of divine Manifestation, and a deadly grapple with the entrenched powers of the Ignorance and the Inconscience began its fateful career. The Supramental Light-Force that alone can overthrow the sovereignty of darkness and suffering and death with which earthly life is ever afflicted, was brought down and set to fashion the future and realise the divine destiny of mankind. Earth prepared to receive Heaven. Spirit descended to embrace Matter.

The Mother had realised the Divine and organised her whole life — a life of dynamic spirituality — round the Divine, centred in her heart. “I said yesterday”, she wrote in her diary on the 19th November, 1912, “to that Englishman who is seeking for Thee with so sincere a desire, that I had definitively found Thee, that the Union was constant.”[4]

On the 28th March, the day before she arrived, she had written in her dairy, “Since our departure [from Paris] more and more we can see in everything Thy divine intervention, everywhere Thy law is expressing itself…

“At no moment do I seem to live outside of Thee and never have the horizons appeared to me more vast and the depths at once more luminous and more unfathomable. Grant, О Divine Teacher, that we may more and more, better and better, know and accomplish our mission upon the earth, that we may fully utilise all the energies that are in us, and that Thy sovereign Presence may become more and more perfectly manifested in the silent depth of our soul, in all our thoughts, all our feelings, all our actions…”[5]

Here we find a remarkable identity between the vision and ideal of the Mother and those of Sri Aurobindo, though outwardly the Mother knew nothing of Sri Aurobindo till their first meeting.

On 30th March, the day following her visit to Sri Aurobindo, she wrote:

“How in the presence of those who are integrally Thy servitors, of those who have arrived at the perfect consciousness of Thy Presence, I perceive that I am still far, very far, from that which I would realise; and I know that what I conceive to be highest, noblest and purest is still dark and ignorant in comparison with that which I have to conceive. But this perception, far from being depressing, stimulates and strengthens my aspiration, my energy, my will to triumph over all obstacles so as to be at last identified with Thy law and Thy work.

“Little by little the horizon becomes precise, the path becomes clear. And we advance to an ever greater certitude.

“It matters not if there are hundreds of beings plunged in the densest ignorance. He whom we saw yesterday is on earth: His presence is enough to prove that a day will come when darkness shall be transformed into light, when Thy reign shall be, indeed, established upon earth.

“O Lord, Divine Builder of this marvel, my heart overflows with joy and gratitude when I think of it, and my hope is boundless.

“My adoration surpasses all words and my reverence is silent.”[6]

On the 3rd April, she wrote:

“It seems to me that I am being born into a new life and that all the methods and habits of the past can no longer be of any use. It seems to me that what was once a result is now only a preparation. I feel as if I had done nothing yet, as if I had not lived the spiritual life, as if I was only entering upon the way which leads to it; it seems to me that I know nothing, that I am incapable of formulating anything, that all experience is yet to commence. It is as if I was stripped of all my past, of my errors as well as my conquests, as if all that had disappeared to give place to one new-born whose whole existence has yet to take shape, who has no Karma, no experience it can profit by, but no error either which it must repair. My head is empty of all knowledge and all certitude, but also of all vain thought. I feel that if I can surrender without any resistance to this state, if I do not strive to know or understand, if I consent to be completely like a child, ignorant and candid, some new possibility will open before me. I know that I must now definitively give myself up and be like a page absolutely blank on which Thy thought, Thy will, О Lord, will be able to inscribe themselves freely, secure against all deformation.

“An immense gratitude rises from my heart, I seem to have at last arrived at the threshold which I have so long sought.

“Grant, О Lord, that I may be pure enough, impersonal enough, animated enough with Thy divine love, to be able to cross it definitively.

“O to belong to Thee, without any darkness or restriction!”[7]

It was a meeting of two prophet-souls, two God-sent Pioneers, and their fusion into an identity of Consciousness for the evolution and perfection of the Integral Yoga and the initiation of an all-inclusive spirituality that would lead to earthly transfiguration and the Life Divine. From this identity of their consciousness, the Mother once observed, “Without him (Sri Aurobindo), I exist not, without me he is unmanifest”. This statement, clear and categoric, clinches the dual role they are destined to play in the evolutionary crisis of the modern age.

The Mother at once set about laying the foundation of her work. With some young men of the town who had begun to take interest in Sri Aurobindo’s Yoga she started a Society, called “L’ldée Nouvelle” (The New Idea). It was, in a way, a continuation and extension of the work of the group she had founded in Paris and which was known as the Cosmique (Cosmic). A record of the proceedings of this group has appeared in part in the Mother’s Paroles d’Autrefois (Words of Long Ago).

The following is the short notice on the New Idea which appeared in Sri Aurobindo’s journal, Arya[8], on the 15th August, 1914 (vide Mother India, April 24, 1962).

“The Society has already made a beginning by grouping together young men of different castes and religions in a common ideal. All sectarian and political questions are necessarily foreign to its idea and its activities. It is on a higher plane of thought superior to external differences of race, caste, creed and opinion and in the solidarity of the Spirit that unity can be realised.

“The Idée Nouvelle has two rules only for its members, first, to devote some time every day to meditation and self-culture, the second, to use or create daily at least one opportunity of being helpful to others. This is, naturally, only the minimum of initial self-training necessary for those who have yet to cast the whole trend of their thought and feeling into the mould of a higher life and to enlarge the egoistic into a collective consciousness.

“The Society has its headquarters at Pondicherry with a reading-room and library. A section has been founded at Karaikal and others are likely to be opened at Yanam and Mahe.”

[1] Biren Roy who had come with Nagen Nag and stayed at the Guest House as already stated.

[2] Reminiscences by Nolini Kanta Gupta.

[3] The Life of Sri Aurobindo by A.B. Purani.

[4] Prayers and Meditations — The Mother.

[5] Prayers and Meditations — The Mother.

[6] Prayers and Meditations — The Mother.

[7] Prayers and Meditations — The Mother.

[8] We shall presently speak about the Arya and how and why it came into existence.

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