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At the Feet of The Mother

Sri Aurobindo Comes To Bengal


One cannot think of Bengal without thinking of Sri Aurobindo. India may try to ignore or forget him, the present-day Bengal may be far removed from what Sri Aurobindo’s Bengal was, but he who came and left a white trail blazing across her firmament remains for ever enshrined behind her surface consciousness in spite of the conjoint efforts of various forces to obscure the silver line within. So, as time passes, we find a frequent reference to his name and a re-emergence of his light in the cultural and spiritual life of Bengal, though probably not yet in her political field. True, we hear from all sides tales of woe and cries of lamentation, “Bengal is dead, the Bengal of Sri Ramakrishna, Vivekananda and Sri Aurobindo is moribund.”

Is Bengal really dead? Can a country whose soil has been the Lilabhumi of God with his chosen playmates ever fall into impotence? We must look a little deeper. Though it is no longer that fiery Bengal, neither is it something that has undergone a change beyond recognition. The change is only on the surface and is a temporary phase. For Sri Aurobindo’s Force works, very often so invisibly that none can perceive the subtle current, and it produces an unexpected result illumining all darkness and years of patient waiting. Such is the import behind the journey of Sri Aurobindo’s relics to Bengal and its sudden electric effect.

Sri Aurobindo came away from Bengal as suddenly as he had chosen her for his field of activity. So one might say that he completely forgot his past, a greater spirit have called him to a higher mission. One might declare that his consciousness saw the world as a battlefield to be conquered for God, and Bengal could be no more than a faint dot on the map of his new dynamic vision. I do not view these things in that light. Sri Aurobindo did not easily forsake anything that had once touched his heart and drawn out of it the hidden divine spring. He became the God-man, but the man in him never ceased to nourish, however dimly, the child-flame that he had himself kindled. He always kept in touch with Bengal’s destiny and followed closely her passage through a long tunnel of darkness and despair, never failing to respond to her soul-call in times of dire peril. His casual remarks bear testimony to the fact. When, after the partition, somebody apprehended a great calamity facing the Hindus of Bengal, Sri Aurobindo said, “Do you think that a population of three and a half crores can be wiped out from the earth?” At another time when the Hindus were submitting meekly to all sorts of repressions and became panicky before the orgy of massacre, his spirited comment was, “Since when has Bengal become so weak and effeminate?” Soon after this, an unseen Force came into play. He had seen Bengal’s plight, her division, the demoniac communal upsurge and, even before that, the war-cloud threatening her with invasion, betrayal, destruction, famine and starvation. Prayers for help had incessantly poured in from the representative souls of the mighty race fallen into disgrace. He had sent ungrudgingly his potent spiritual force to the people in distress.

But how many have perceived his invisible Hand? Sceptics may be found who will declaim, “If the hand was there, it was most ineffectual, for the burden of our misery has piled up instead of going down.” Miseries have increased because Bengal has turned her back on her dharma, has denied her Saviour and fallen upon the flesh-pots of power as her true sustenance. No doubt, various factions with their inevitable fruits of bale have brought down the high crown to the mire. When Sri Aurobindo was asked, “Why is Bengal so much in travail? In the forefront of all battles and new movements, why today is she the battle-ground of parties and leaders?”, he remarked, “Because there is no leader.” “So long as there is no leader, will she go on in this way? Is there no prospect of any such leader coming up? Where is he to come from?” “If there is an aspiration for it, the leader takes birth,” was the surprising reply.

No leader seems to have been born, since the aspiration was wanting. And Bengal has no longer turned out heroes and Fiery dreamers but self-seeking men who have claimed power and enjoyment as the reward of sacrifice. Hence the country’s decline. The Shakti withdrew behind the veil and, working imperceptibly, began to prepare, from within, the silent change. The aspiration that had died has revived and grown under the harrow of suffering and a new Dawn has burst upon the horizon. For, behind this huge mass-rally, we see once more the heaven-ascending call of the Swadeshi days, and Sri Aurobindo has responded. We see before our mind’s vision Bengal leaping triumphantly towards another new birth, not by any means a political, but a spiritual renaissance. Behind Bengal’s apparent decadence this was the secret divine purpose and we firmly believe it was Sri Aurobindo’s invisible and right guidance that has led Bengal to this hour of God.

Whatever the appearance we must bear,
Whatever our strong ills and present fate,
When nothing we can see but drift and bale,
A mighty Guidance leads us still through all.[1]

Therefore the Divine Shakti, the Mother, sends with her own hands of radiant Power Sri Aurobindo’s relics to Bengal, and Her inspired children pay homage to them in an unprecedented manner. These relics are Bengal’s leader, master and saviour. For what are relics? A piece of bone, a piece of nail or hair simply to be kept in a casket and worshipped like an image? Is it not said that out of the bones of Dadhichi was made the thunder of the gods? The relics of the Avatar are charged with that divine thunder which is sure in its work and tremendous in its self-effectivity. It will work slowly or fast as the instruments handling the power will allow it to move in its cosmic field of action. But work it must, bringing to birth a “New Island” — Navadwipa — in the heart of the old Bengal. Once a primitive island was transfigured by Buddha’s relics thousands of years ago and it has since remained faithful to his teachings. In this “New Island” of Sri Chaitanya appear Sri Aurobindo’s relics, rays of the apocalypt Sun. Bengal has found her Leader.


Reproduced from “Hindusthan Standard”; Reprinted in Mother India, February, 1959; this piece was written on the auspicious occasion when Sri Aurobindo’s sacred relics was brought to Navadwipa (in the district of Nadia, West Bengal, the birth place of Lord Sri Chaitanya Mahaprabhu – Editor)

[1] Savitri p. 59

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