I was excited to bring my daughter, Ananya, along with me to the center. We started out with meditation on Mother’s music. After that, Shreevalli narrated a short story from the Mahabharata relating Arjuna’s concentration while shooting a toy bird’s eye. Although all of us knew this tale, it helped to reinforce that we need to concentrate on our activities and always be present in that moment.
We then moved on to the ice-breaker session. We played “Whacko”. The game helped all of us to know each other’s names. For the older children, it was a good test of memory plus a good warm up session for the subsequent physical activities. For the younger ones, it was just fun to watch everyone run in circles! Later, we split into two groups and I went to help out with the youngest group of children, aged two to five.
The first activity we had was making ‘clean mud’. This involved unrolling lots of toilet tissue and mixing it with soap and water. The texture then became that of a mud that the kids enjoyed exploring. It was great to see mothers pitching in and making some ‘mud sculptures’ with their little ones. We noticed that the children enjoyed getting their hands ‘dirty’. The main joy for them was that they played in an unrestricted environment.
After a round of outdoor games, we moved indoors for a short break. The next session involved some story telling and art work. The children were given flash cards of various animals that they imitated. Kiruthika narrated the story of the very hungry caterpillar using props. Each child was given a character from the story. It was nice to see everyone alert and attentive during this session. The art session that followed was interesting too. The children were given access to a ‘salad bar’ of art supplies and they came up with original pieces of art work. What struck us most was how the children got along with each other and worked on their individual art without any fuss and noise. Everyone was polite with each other, quietly taking turns when needed. And all this was done with minimal supervision from parents and facilitators.
The morning ended with a light lunch with everyone chattering happily about the day’s activities. Indeed the Sunday of 28th June was different – one well spent – a day that gave immense satisfaction when one reflected on it.
But, in accordance with Sri Aurobindo's ideal, my purpose is to show that truth lies in union rather than in division. To reject one nationality in order to obtain another is not an ideal solution. So I hope I shall be allowed to adopt a double nationality, that is to say, to remain French while I become an Indian.
I am French by birth and early education, I am Indian by choice and predilection. In my consciousness there is no antagonism between the two, on the contrary, they combine very well and complete one another. I know also that I can be of service to both equally, for my only aim in life is to give a concrete form to Sri Aurobindo's great teaching and in his teaching he reveals that all the nations are essentially one and meant to express the Divine Unity upon earth through an organised and harmonious diversity.
O India, land of light and spiritual knowledge! Wake up to your true mission in the world, show the way to union and harmony.
- The Mother, 23rd September 1967
(This message by The Mother was broadcast by All India Radio, Pondicherry, on it’s inauguration day)
India has become the symbolic representation of all the difficulties of modern mankind.
India will be the land of its resurrection- the resurrection to a higher and truer life.
In the whole creation the earth has a place of distinction, because unlike any other planet it is evolutionary with a psychic entity in the centre. In it, India, in particular, is a divinely chosen country.
What is India?
India is not the earth, rivers and mountains of this land, neither is it a collective name for the inhabitants of this country. India is a living being, as much living as, say, Shiva. India is a goddess as Shiva is a god. If she likes, she can manifest in human form.
(CWM Volume 13, The Mother, Sri Aurobindo Ashram Trust 1980, Sri Aurobindo Ashram, Pondicherry).
The Red lotus is the Avatar
The White Lotus is the Divine Consciousness.
The Red Lotus represents Sri Aurobindo, the White one represents me. In a general way the lotus is the flower of the Divine Wisdom, whatever its colour. But red signifies the Avatar, the Divine incarnated in matter, and white signifies the Divine Consciousness manifested upon earth.
- The Mother
Remembrance of Sri Aurobindo
Common Name: Edging lobelia
Botanical Name: Lobelia erinus
Description: Tiny delicate blue half-salverform flower with three distinct lobes; borne in loose racemes. A very pretty low annual or perennial herb often used for beds, borders and hanging planters.
Spiritual Name: Remembrance of Sri Aurobindo
“This evening, instead of answering questions, I would like us to meditate on the remembrance of Sri Aurobindo, on the way to keep it alive in us and on the gratitude we owe him for all that he has done and is still doing in his ever luminous, living and active consciousness for this great realization which he came not only to announce to the Earth but also to realize, and which he continues to realize.
Tomorrow is the anniversary of his birth, an eternal birth in the history of the universe. “
- The Mother, 14th August 1957
I decided to take the trip with this main object of visiting Sri Aurobindo. On arrival in Pondicherry, I called at Poet Bharati’s. He was then living in Iswaran Dharmaraja Kovil Street and when I was announced, his little daughter led me up to the first floor where I found him singing
‘Victory in this life is certain
O Mind, fear there is none.’
Then after a pause he made enquires of one or two friends in Madras. I had met Bharati in Mylapore, the last I saw him was a little before 1907. But what a change! Circumstances had conspired to wreck the physique and handsome and spirited face of the inspired poet, the national poet of Tamilnad; he was shrunken, pale and setting. Suddenly he burst out:
‘In the secret cave, O growing Flame,
Son of the Supreme’
I knew Bharati had some knowledge of Sanskrit which he had studied at Kashi but not that he had acquaintance with the Vedas deep enough to give expression to such an essentially Vedic conception or as the growing Flame in the heart of man. Besides the poet identifies Agni as Guha, Kumara, son of the Supreme. When I asked him how he caught the idea, he gave an interesting explanation in the course of which he said:
“Yes, I have studied 200 hymns (I do not quite recollect whether he said hymns or Riks) under Aurobindo Ghose.”
It was from Bharati himself that I learnt he got the inspiration and general knowledge of the Vedic gods and hymns from Sri Aurobindo. Later he translated into Tamil, some of the Vedic hymns to Agni. So the talk switched on to A. G. (as he used to be known in those days).
“Where is he living?” I asked.
“There,” he pointed out in the direction of the European quarters.
“I want to see him.”
“But now-a-days he is very much disinclined to see people. I myself do not meet him often as I used to do before. Anyway I shall ascertain.”
“Please mention that I have come on a pilgrimage to him.” I pressed, as if on impulse. Indeed the pilgrimage had commenced somewhere long ago.
Bharati wrote out a short note in Tamil- a characteristically humourous one- to Nagaswami who was attending on Sri Aurobindo at that time, and signed himself as Shakti–Kumar, and he sent me with an escort to the house where Sri Aurobindo lived.
It was 3 p.m. when we arrived there. Nagaswami was obliging. He took the note, went up to A.G. and was back within a couple of minutes. “He will see you at 6 p.m. today.” He said.
Dilemma of dilemmas! The hour for which I had looked forward with so much eagerness had arrived. But the timing was embarrassing. For precisely at 6 the meeting was also scheduled to commence at which the lecture was to be delivered. Neither of these could be missed. And yet both could not be fulfilled at the same time. “Was it the proverbial sattva-pariksha?” I wondered. I thought for a while and sent word to the organizers of the function that the meeting could commence a little later than the fixed hour.
At six, I was escorted up the stairs of the house of Sri Aurobindo. It is now known as the Guest House-, which name it acquired after Sri Aurobindo shifted to another building now in the main Ashram block. As I went up the stairs and reached the threshold, there stretched in front of me a long hall with a simple table and two chairs at the center. At the farther end was a room on the threshold of which stood Sri Aurobindo. Like a moving statue- such was his impersonal bearing- he advanced towards the table as I proceeded from my end and we both met at the center. Like Rama, the Aryan model of courtesy and nobility held up by Valmiki, Sri Aurobindo spoke first, purva-bhashi. I carried with me a lemon fruit as a humble expression of my esteem for him and after he sat down, I placed it on the table in his front and said: sudinam asid adya (a happy day today).
Sri Aurobindo leaned over to the youngster who was still there and seemed to ask him if I knew English. He was assured I knew and with what smattering of the language I had, we commenced the conversation. It would be an omission if I fail to tell here what happened the moment I stood face to face with Sri Aurobindo at the table.
The age is past when matters of this kind had to be kept to oneself and concealed from others for fear of scoffings from rationalists and skeptics. Man has come to realize that there are more things on earth and in heaven than are written in books and discovered in laboratories. Well, as soon I saw him, even from a distance, there was set in motion, all of a sudden, a rapid vibratory movement in my body from head to foot. There was a continuous thrill and throb. I seemed to stand on the top of a dynamo working at top speed and it was as powerful as it was new. It lasted for nearly four to five minutes. It did not really stop at all. In fact it continued ever since for long and every time I went to see him later, or for his Darshan after his retirement, the phenomenon tended to repeat itself.
A spiritual personality continually pours out spiritual emanations from within and it would seem that when any one with some secret affinity or even a point of contact somewhere in the being comes within the ambience of these vibrations, there is an attempt by something subtle in us to imbibe as much of these sustaining and strength-giving radiations as possible. But the physique not being so supple cannot support this occult commerce for long; it lacks the necessary nerve-force to keep up the flow and the physical palpitating movement is the result. Of course, I find this explanation now. All that I knew at that time and could not help knowing was that I was in the presence of an unusually mighty personality. Was it the sun-flower turned to the sun, or was it the filings in a tremulous dance before a block of magnet or was he the mystic spider, ever watchful, taking his prey alive to preserve it within his web biding his hour?
Something had been set going which carried me on its wings- this is more than a figure of speech- shuttling me from and back to him with an irresistible intensity till at last I came back to him six years later (1923) in a different role. This time, as a seeker seeking the feet of the Teacher, and exclaimed marveling at the change of his appearance:
“What other proof is required, Sire! Then your complexion was dark-brown, now it is fair; today the hue is a golden hue. Here is the concrete proof of the Yoga that is yours.”
(An extract from “My First Meeting with Sri Aurobindo”, Service Letter, September 1997, Edited and published by Sraddhalu Ranade, for Dipti Trust, Sri Aurobindo Ashram, Pondicherry 605002 )
Q: Today I received a question about a phrase I used on the fourteenth of August, the eve of Sri Aurobindo’s birthday. The question is about a phrase in which I spoke of the birth of Sri Aurobindo- it was on the eve of his birthday- and I called it an “eternal birth”. I am asked what I meant by “eternal”?
A: Of course, if the words are taken literally, an “eternal birth” doesn’t signify much. But I am going to explain to you how there can be – and in fact is - a physical explanation or understanding, a mental understanding, a psychic understanding and a spiritual understanding.
Physically, it means that the consequences of this birth will last as long as the Earth. The consequences of Sri Aurobindo’s birth will be felt throughout the entire existence of the Earth. And so I called it “eternal”, a little poetically.
Mentally, it is a birth the memory of which will last eternally. Through the ages Sri Aurobindo’s birth will be remembered, with all the consequences it has had.
Psychically, it is a birth which will recur eternally, from age to age, in the history of the universe. This birth is a manifestation which takes place periodically, from age to age, in the history of the Earth. That is, the birth itself is renewed, repeated, reproduced, bringing every time perhaps something more - something more complete and more perfect - but it is the same movement of descent, of manifestation, of birth in an earthly body.
And finally, from the purely spiritual point of view, it could be said that it is the birth of the Eternal on Earth. For each time the Avatar takes a physical form it is the birth of the Eternal himself on Earth.
All that is contained in two words: “eternal birth”.
- The Mother, September 4, 1957.
(CWM Volume 9, Sri Aurobindo Ashram Trust 1977, Published by Sri Aurobindo Ashram, Pondicherry- 605002)
Q: Somebody wants to visit Sri Aurobindo’s room again and sit there to meditate for some time. What are his qualifications and titles to such a great privilege?
A: Visiting again is all right. People can come to Sri Aurobindo’s room. But to sit and meditate there, one must have done much for Sri Aurobindo.
- The Mother, 11 June, 1960.
Q: Sweet Mother, you have said that to be allowed to sit in Sri Aurobindo’s room and meditate there, “one must have done much for Him”. What do you mean by that, Mother? What can one do for the Lord which will be” this much”?
A: To do something for the Lord is to give Him something of what one has, or of what one does, or of what one is. That is to say, to offer to Him one part of our goods or all our possessions, to consecrate to Him one part of our work or all our activities, or to give ourselves to Him totally and without reserve so that He may take possession of our nature in order to transform and divinise it. But there are many people who, without giving anything, always want to take and to receive. These people are selfish and unworthy to meditate in Sri Aurobindo’s room.
- The Mother, 17th August 1960.
(CWM Volume 13, Sri Aurobindo Ashram Trust 1977, Published by Sri Aurobindo Ashram, Pondicherry- 605002) .
And grew in the wisdom of the timeless Child;
He was a vast that soon became a Sun.
A great luminous silence whispered to his heart;
His knowledge an inview caught unfathomable,
An outview by no brief horizons cut:
He thought and felt in all, his gaze and power.
He communed with the Incommunicable;
Beings of a wider consciousness were his friends,
Forms of a larger subtler make drew near:
The Gods conversed with him behind Life’s veil.
(Savitri, Book 2, Canto 15)
In these new worlds projected he became
A portion of the universal gaze,
A station of the all-inhabiting light,
A ripple on a single sea of peace.
His mind answered to countless communing minds,
His words were syllables of the cosmos’ speech,
His life a field of the vast cosmic stir.
He felt the footsteps of a million wills
Moving in unison to a single goal.
(Savitri, Book 3, Canto 3)
The Yoga that Sri Aurobindo had undertaken in his material frame was targeted at the gathering of momentum of the evolution of Divinity upon earth out of its involution in matter, which had long been left to the forces of nature across millennia. His was the feat of the King of Kings, the highest amongst them all, the feat of Divinity itself which consented to descend into the earthen mould and effect a transformation in subtle planes as well as gross, a transmutation in its very material element. It is also a day to celebrate the presence of this Divine Spark in the midst of our lives, in one way or another, a day which offers us yet another opportunity to offer all that we have, that we do and that we are at his feet, if at all we fathom this endeavour worth our lives.
Somewhere along the way, here and there, obstacles do arise aplenty but we recognize a saving Grace. This day too is one to offer our gratitude to that unfailing Grace that permeates everything.
But do we see or feel this Grace, are we able to make that concerted effort to offer ourselves, our lives to It? Some of us do. This is a day to perfect that offering. Some of us house resistances within, other voices that deny and the march forward is indeed slowed. This is a day to delve into the nature of our inner spheres and distinguish the voices that pull at the strings on the surface. This becomes a precious day to wake ourselves out of somnolence and the complacence that tells us that everything is alright, a day when we may heed with courage and with sincerity the truths about ourselves, become aware of the consolations of excuses that the mind offers for all our so called weaknesses and carelessness. This becomes a day for retrospection as well as inspection, deflection of forces that pull us down as well as reflection.
But who is to say this is such and this is not such. One alone can find out. One has to take that coveted dive, deep down and weed out everything from the bedrock. Who will be one’s guide in this plunge? This becomes a treaty one works out, alone, with the Divine within or this invincible Force that we ascribe the care of this life to.
This day offers a splendid opportunity for taking this plunge, only because it is a day concentrated with his presence, his force, as other fellow beings gather to direct their aspirations towards him, their sincere cries for aid and help and guidance. It could be a day holding the promise of a flight on the wings of collective winds towards higher spheres.
This day is special and each lives it according to his deeper self’s dictates. It is a day worth being vigilant about oneself and receptive to the currents of Love and Light that may be flowing, especially abundantly, on this day.
Here are Pranams to Divinity and the Golden Land, and the Promise of a spiritual dawn that is being worked out here, right upon earth.