Guiding Light of The Month

Tell me, wilt Thou grant me the marvellous power to give birth to this dawn in expectant hearts, to awaken the consciousness of men to Thy sublime presence, and in this bare and sorrowful world awaken a little of Thy true Paradise? What happiness, what riches, what terrestrial powers can equal this wonderful gift! - The Mother

Editorial

Dawn is perhaps one of the high points of the day. It is a brief moment that appears just before sunrise, when the first rays of light appear just above the eastern horizon for the day. In fact, at the time of dawn, the sun is said to be 6 degrees below the horizon. During that moment of dawn, the sky undergoes a spectacular change from a thick and dense darkness into something spectacular. A page opens for expression, an unseen Artist hand whips out brushes and colours and according to the turns of its moods, splashes across the sky multi-hued shades of colours and patterns which leave the watcher spell-bound. It is like an unveiling of immaculate beauty before one’s eyes, and all the more intriguing because of the brevity of the experience. Then the glorious sun rises and the brightness of that light erases all other shades on the eastern sky. But the wonder that dawn would have etched in one’s mind and heart does not die.

Dawn is the theme that adorns this issue of our Newsletter as we pay homage to the past decade and stand on the verge of a brand new decade, the second of this millennium, about to be born. In our everyday lives, dawn marks the end of night and physical sleep and the birth of a new day, renewed energy, a day that marks a progress or advance in what we know as time, a changeover into a new day, a moment that marks our shedding of the pages of the past represented by the “yesterday” . Perhaps because of this significant and constant mark of change after a night of sleep and rest, and because of the spectacular way in which she appears, Dawn has fired in man a sense of wonder, respect, even worship, and features naturally in his expressive and creative works such as in art and literature and philosophy. The Vedic literature, especially, seems to harbor a great reverence for dawn as the bringer of glory and enlightenment. Dawn takes on a feminine form, described as one who comes on a chariot and one who represents rays of consciousness. In Vedic literature, the Sun is taken to be Truth and dawn is that which appears before the rise of that Truth. It is an outbreak of higher consciousness and rishis are said to have several such dawns in their life-times. Let us dwell a while on the following mantra that reveals something of the Vedic reverence and awe for dawn, also known as Usha in Sanskrit:

adhi peshāms vakşha usreva barjaham;
i vapate nŗtūriv āporņute
jyotir vishvasmai bhuvanāya kŗņvatī
gāvo na vrajam vyuşhā āvartamaĥ.

Sri Aurobindo’s translation:

“Like a dancing-girl she lays bare her clear forms of beauty, like a paramour she opens her breast, casting aside its defences, creating Light for the whole world. The radiant herds have left their open; Dawn has uncovered herself of her robe of darkness.'' (From website, Sri Aurobindo-Kapali Shastry Institute of Vedic Literature)

It is this symbol of dawn that Sri Aurobindo takes up as he begins the epic poem Savitri with a canto entitled The Symbol Dawn. In the darkest of nights, both physical and psychological, Savitri meets her dawn (spiritual awakening) on the night before Satyavan was to die.

For any revolution, a seed is cast somewhere in Time. This is the beginning of things to come, a revolution to be. Dawn is this beginning, this seed therefore embodies the hope, even the certainty of a particular future, a future as beautiful, high and uplifting, like the Symbol Dawn. May the dawning decade be a new beginning for all and everything.

IEP walk at South Ridges



IEP children pose at the iconic Merlion atop Mount Faber before entering into the jungles of Singapore

=================================
On Sunday 26th December, we went to Mt. Faber for IEP. We were very excited. It was raining, so we had to use umbrellas or raincoats. I was very excited to climb a hill in the rain. It was new for me.

When we started, slowly the rain started to stop. After a while, the rain stopped. Finally, I could take off my raincoat. I didn’t want to wear my raincoat because the sleeves were tight.

After about two hours of walking, we finally reached the top of the hill. I was very tired. We all had our dinner at the top of the hill. I had Pasta and Cheese for dinner. It was scrumptious!!!!!!!!!!

Lastly, we sat down on the mat and drew pictures. That was fun. I drew hills on one side of the page and on the other side, I drew myself wearing my pink raincoat in the rain.

We were very tired. We went down the hill and took a cab home. It was tiring but, also lots and lots of fun. My favorite part was drawing.
Priyanka

Flower of the month

New creation

Strong, lasting and fragrant, it rises straight towards the sky.
- The Mother

Common Name: Tuberose
Botanical Name: Polianthes tuberosa
Spiritual Name: New Creation

Savitri

Ablaze upon creation’s quivering edge,
Dawn built her aura of magnificent hues
And buried its seed of grandeur in the hours.
An instant’s visitor the godhead shone:
On life’s thin border awhile the Vision stood
And bent over earth’s pondering forehead curve.
Interpreting a recondite beauty and bliss
In colour’s hieroglyphs of mystic sense,
It wrote the lines of a significant myth
Telling of a greatness of spiritual dawns,
A brilliant code penned with the sky for page.

(Savitri, Book 1, Canto 1)

*****************

A divine force shall flow through tissue and cell
And take the charge of breath and speech and act
And all the thoughts shall be a glow of suns
And every feeling a celestial thrill.
Often a lustrous inner dawn shall come
Lighting the chambers of the slumbering mind;
A sudden bliss shall run through the limb
And Nature with a mightier Presence fill.

(Savitri, Book 11, Canto 1)

Question of the month

In the entry dated 24.8.1914 in ‘Prayers and Meditations’ Mother speaks of “the Dawn that never ends.”


Thy grace is with us, Lord, and it never leaves us, even when appearances are dark; night is sometimes necessary to prepare more perfect dawns. But perhaps this time Thou hast placed us in the presence of the Dawn that does not pass away.

- The Mother, ‘Prayers and Meditations’, August 24th 1914


“What spiritual state does this marvellous dawn represent?” I asked her.

She answered: “Perpetual renewal.”



(Selected from, Shyam Sunder Jhunjhunwala, ‘From The Editor’s Desk, Some Socio-Spiritual Perspectives’, ‘Sri Aurobindo Action’, Pondicherry)

Dawn: A poem by Amal Kiran

How earth-strange on the ethereal way
Travels the first wing-carillon
A-tremble with the silver dawn
Ere rush the golden day!

Across slow-widening brightness, still
A dim-disclosured secrecy,
Quivers the foliage-tracery
Apart, inscrutable.

As though their breath was made divine
By dew of contemplative hours,
There hangs an aura round the flowers
A nameless shadow-shine.

The heart, a hovering consciousness,
Thrills on some paradisal verge
As if awakening to merge
With beauty sorrowless.

Familiar hues are yet unborn,
A veil half-hiding them lays bare,
Shimmering through the mystic air,
An alchemy of morn,

Wherein the sense of earthly eyes
If soul could only learn to steep,
Out of the human dross of sleep
A golden god would rise!

-Amal Kiran

Spiritual Dawn

In the entry dated 24.8.1914, in ‘Prayers and Meditations’ Mother speaks of “the Dawn that never ends”.

“What spiritual state does this marvelous dawn represent”?, I asked her.

She answered: “Perpetual renewal”.

Sri Aurobindo begins his book ‘The Life Divine’ with the following lines from the Rig Veda:

“She follows to the goal of those that are passing on beyond, she is the first in the eternal succession of dawns that are coming. Usha widens, bringing out that which lives, awakening someone who was dead…. What is her scope when she harmonises with the dawns that shone out before and those that now must shine? She desired the ancient mornings and fulfills their light; projecting forwards her illumination she enters into communion with the rest that are to come.”

Usha is the illumining dawn; she is gomati, luminous, radiant.

“Dawn comes divine repelling by the Light all darknesses and evils.”

Usha is also, asvavati she has conquering energy and force of vitality.

“True with the gods who are true,
Great with the gods who are great
She breaks open the strong places
And gives of the shining herds.”

The herds which Usha gives are, as Sri Aurobindo explains, “the shining troops of the Light”.

Usha, “Mother of the Gods, form (or, Power) of Aditi”, is always the dawn of the Truth, “Following effectively the path of the Truth”. “Dawn born in heavens opens out things by the Truth, she comes manifesting the greatness.”

Dawn is not only rtavari, full of the Truth, she is also sunrtavari, she comes uttering true and happy words.

In ‘Savitri’ also, in the very beginning, Sri Aurobindo writes:

Ablaze upon creation’s quivering edge,
Dawn built her aura of magnificent hues
And buried its seed of grandeur in the hours.
An instant’s visitor the godhead shone:
On life’s thin border awhile the Vision stood
And bent over earth’s pondering forehead curve.
Interpreting a recondite beauty and bliss
In colour’s hieroglyphs of mystic sense,
It wrote the lines of a significant myth
Telling of a greatness of spiritual dawns.

Later, Sri Aurobindo says that, for one who lives in the calm vastness of the One, who climbs on the steps to God’s far secret heights, life becomes a tranquil pilgrimage.

Each year a mile upon the heavenly Way.
Each dawn opens into a larger Light.

Then each dawn becomes a precursor of a greater dawn! And each dawn becomes more beautiful!

Is this not the secret of the eternal charm of the dawn for the poets and mystics?


(Selected from, Shyam Sunder Jhunjhunwala, ‘From The Editor’s Desk, Some Socio-Spiritual Perspectives’, ‘Sri Aurobindo Action’, Pondicherry)

A new beginning

Bharat, a qualified young and aspiring individual in his late 20’s, was sitting outside a nationalised bank manager’s cabin waiting for his new project loan to get sanctioned. After a long wait, the bank manager with a low tone called Bharat inside and told him that unfortunately his project plans could not be cleared and he will not be able to sanction loans for that type of project.

Bharat returned home with disappointment and sat on the couch with a blank mind; meanwhile his father entered the room and asked him why he was so gloomy and dull. Bharat replied in a very disheartened voice that life was full of failures and problems for him and he added that nothing was going right for him despite him spending 15 minutes a day praying.

His mother Parvati, an ardent devotee of the Mother and Sri Aurobindo, came out listening to what Bharat mentioned about the prayer and mentioned a quote of the Mother which said “It is always a mistake to complain about the circumstances of our life, for they are the outward expression of what we are ourselves.”

She also said that it was no use spending even a whole day in prayer without realizing the mistakes we commit everyday. She went back to the kitchen again quoting “There is no greater courage than that of recognising one’s own mistakes.”

And she asked him to look back and understand why he had resigned the previous job.

Bharat suddenly felt a lightning strike in front of his eyes and all his mistakes appeared on a screen in front of him.

First, he concluded that he had resigned his job only because of his ego. Secondly, he realized that in spite of his regional manager requesting him to stay on, he was overconfident that he would definitely find another job and hence he left the job.. He also recollected that he had done the project plan for the bank with an arrogance and ego that he knew what he was going to do.

After this sudden realisation of his mistakes, he went and stood in front of Mother and Sri Aurobindo with tears in his eyes. He bowed down in shame and did a pranam surrendering all his mistakes.

The next day was the 31st of December. He felt very light when he woke . At 9.30 a.m, he received a phone call which carried the message that he was selected as National Sales Manager in a multinational company. Surrender had opened new doors for Bharat.

The New Year was a new dawn of realisations and hopes for Bharat.

- Saradha

The Secret of the Veda’ – A First Attempt: Commentaries or Bhāṣhyās on the ‘Vedās’ (contd.)

Rāmānujāchārya :
Important saint of ‘Sri Vaishnavisam’ and one of the most dynamic characters of Hinduism. He was both a philosophical as well as a social reformer. His celebrated system of philosophy known as ‘Vishishṭādvaita’ or ‘Qualified monism’ is ‘Advaita’ or ‘non-dualism’ with a ‘Visēsha’ or ‘qualification’. It admits plurality. Sri Ramanuja’s ‘Brahman’ or ‘Lord Narayana’ subsists in a plurality of forms as souls (Chit) and matter (Achit). His most famous books are:
1. Sri Bhashyam - The commentary on Brahma Sūtrās that establishes Vishishtādvaitic Siddantham.
2. Vedānta Sāra 3. Vedānta Deepa 4. Vedānta Sangraham - These three provide shorter and intermediate versions of the commentary on the Brahma Sūtrās.
5. Gitā Bhashyam,- Self explanatory.
6. Sharanāgathy Gadhyam - Prose type composition on his ultimate surrender to Lord. Recommendation, assurance and the Lord's reply.
7. Sri Ranga Gadhyam- Does not contain detailed philosophical debates. Instead it is a pure expression of devotion and gives a detailed description of the God ‘Sri Ranganatha’ as the repository of countless gunās, that he calls as Kalyāna guna meaning ‘virtuous’.
8. Sri Vaikunta Gadhyam- The Jivā's travel to Sri Vaikuntam and the beautiful narration of the Parama Padham.
9. Nityam- The Nitya Karma Anushtāna, Recommended daily ritual practices.
Madhvāchārya - (1238-1317):
Also known as Ānanda Tīrtha, he is the founder of the ‘Dvaita’ or dualistic school of Vedanta. Dvaita Philosophy proclaims that God and individual souls are different entities. The souls are eternal but are dependent on Vishnu and co-exist with Him eternally, supported by His will and entirely controlled by Him.
He has written two commentaries on Vedic hymns. The first, ‘Rig Bhāshya’ (in Sanskrit) deals with the first forty sūktās of Rig Veda. He stresses on the ādhyātmic interpretation which is expanded in the works of the disciples of his school namely Jayatīrtha and Rāghavēndra Swāmi. Like in his other works, here too he has upheld the supremacy of Lord Vishnu, and the dependence of all the dēvatās on Him. He has also explained the importance of Rishi, Dēvata and Chandas, in reciting Veda mantrās. The second is ‘Karmanirnaya’ dealing with Karma Kanda.
He has written commentaries on 10 Upanishads, Gita Bhāshya, Gita Tātparya , Brahmasūtra Bhāshya, 4 Purānās, 4 Vedānta Sutrās and about 20 other writings.
On Rig Veda Samhita: Madhvāchārya wrote a commentary on the first 40 sūktās of the first Mandala to illustrate how the meaning of the riks is to be grasped. He holds that in as much as performance of rituals is a necessary part of the Vedic Dharma, a ritualistic interpretation of the hymns is justifiable, but it is wrong to say that the fundamental message of the hymns is observance of ritual. He maintains that the spiritual interpretation gives the central meaning of the mantrās and that all the Vedās point to the supreme object of life which is to attain the sublime status at the feet of Vishnu. His Bhashya is small in volume and barring a few Pundits in the Madhva tradition, most students of the Veda are hardly aware that such a Veda-Bhashya is available, though incomplete.
Sāyana Āchārya - (1315-1387 CE):
A great medieval scholar, who wrote voluminous commentaries on all the Veda Samhitās and on ‘Shatpatha’, ‘ Aitareya’, ‘ Taittirīya’, ‘Talavakāra’ and ‘Chhāndogya’ Brāhmaņās. He flourished under King Bukka I and his successor Harihara II, in the Vijayanagar Empire of South India and has employed a different style for works on each Veda. His commentary on the Rig Veda Samhitā running to over 3000 pages and was edited by Max Müller. It is likely that the core portion of this commentary was written by Sāyaṇa himself, but contributions from his brother Mādhava and other disciples have been noted too. His works consist of invaluable topics dealing with mantrās of the Samhitās along with their ‘Pada Patha’- citations from ancient texts of authority, various traditional accounts, lexicons, meaning of the words of the hymns, at times possibility of other meanings, metre, grammar, accent and etymological derivation of the words of the mantrās. But for his ‘Bhāshyās’, our entire Vedic literature would have been impenetrable and scrutiny of the meaning of the Vedās hardly possible.
Quote from Sri Aurobindo, showing his appreciation to the works of Sāyana, despite completely differing from the basic approach and interpretation to Vedās given by him. “The commanding merits of this great legacy of the past are obvious. Composed by Sāyana with the aid of the most learned scholars of his time, it is a work representing an enormous labour of erudition, more perhaps than could have been commanded at that time by a single brain. Yet it bears the stamp of the coordinating mind. It is consistent in the mass inspite of its many inconsistencies of detail, largely planned, yet most simply, composed in a style lucid, terse and possessed of an almost literary grace one would have thought impossible in the traditional form of the Indian commentary. Nowhere is there any display of pedantry; the struggle with the difficulties of the text is skillfully veiled and there is an air of clear acuteness and of assured, yet unassuming authority which imposes even on the dissident. The first Vedic scholars of Europe admired especially the rationality of Sāyana’s interpretations.”
Sāyana’s interpretation of Vedās is one of practical approach. His intelligence was characteristically led by trust in the ideas or words of others such as Yāska etc., for after all he shared the superstitious beliefs of his age. As a result, the Veda was looked upon as a source-book for ritualism, as a sanction for intellectualism and as a justification for crude materialism. The Mīmāmsakās had already encouraged this outlook, and their preference for the books of Brāhmanās giving ritualistic tracts prevailed all along. The Samhita by a curious reversal of values, became secondary to the Brāhmanās. Sāyanā’s approach to Rig Veda Samhita in his famous Bhashya (commentary) is only through the Brāhmana ideology. He did not accord an independent status to the Samhita, but viewed it only as an appendage to the Brāhmana tracts. Though he did not deny the spiritual view point (like the Mīmāmsakās), his entire focus was on the rituals detailing the performance of rites like the ‘Bōdhāyna Shrauta Sūtrās.
He neither considered the Vedic seers to be mere children or men at their primitive stage, nor did he lay any stress on the explanation based on the sights and scenes of physical Nature. He observed and understood the Veda from the standpoint of sacrificial rites. His endeavor was to discover from the Veda the nature of sacrifice and give a full account of the ceremonies conducted during a sacrifice. The performance of sacrifice is a part of the spiritual life and its aim is to bring about progress of the soul and welfare here and hereafter. The Gods dwell in a world known as Heaven. The forces of Nature are backed by their powers. A particular God presides over a particular force of Nature. All the Gods are combined in the Universal God, and all the Gods are only the different manifestations of the same Universal God. It is the power of the Gods which endows men with power, and men too on their part propitiate the Gods through their sacrifices offered to them. The Gods are satisfied with and nourished by men's humble obeisance and their offering of Soma Rasa, while men in their turn attain to prosperity in this world and secure a better status in the other world.
The Western Indologists who took great interest in Vedic studies, unfortunately followed the ritualistic interpretations of Sāyana to a great extent, ignoring the earlier commentator Yāskāchārya with regard to the three levels of interpretation to Veda Samhitās. Max Muller’s publication of Rig Veda Samhitā along with Sāyana’s commentary provided high academic acceptance value. In turn it influenced more commentators including some leading Indian scholars to the misconception that Rig Veda Samhitā is devoid of wisdom. Also, the Western mind after finding it more logical and understandable, applied their tools of language, grammar, philology etc., to determine the antiquity and crudeness of the ‘Veda’, showing a clear contrast to the modernity and the refined state of ‘Vedānta (Upanishads). Unfortunately, this evolutionary technique appealed to recent thinkers, who thought it to be the safest standard for determining the historical portrait of the entire Vedic literature.
Quotes from Sri Aurobindo: “Yet, even for the external sense of the Veda, it is not possible to follow either Sāyaṇā’s method or his results without the largest reservation. It is not only that he admits in his method licenses of language and construction which are unnecessary and sometimes incredible, nor that he arrives at his results, often by a surprising inconsistency in his interpretation of common Vedic formulae. These are defects of detail, unavoidable perhaps in the state of the materials with which he had to deal. But it is the central defect of Sāyaṇā’s system that he is obsessed always by the ritualistic formula and seeks continually to force the sense of the Veda into that narrow mould. So he loses many clues of the greatest suggestiveness and importance for the external sense of the ancient scripture”………….. “It is the final and authoritative binding of the Veda to this lowest of all its possible senses that has been the most unfortunate result of Sāyaṇā’s commentary. The dominance of the ritualistic interpretation had already deprived India of the living use of its greatest Scripture and of the true clue to the entire sense of the Upanishads. Sāyaṇā’s commentary put a seal of finality on the old misunderstanding which could not be broken for many centuries. And its suggestions, when another civilization discovered and set itself to study the Veda, became in the European mind, the parent of fresh errors”.

References
1. ‘ The Light of Veda – A Practical Approach ’ – by Sri T.V.Kapāli Sastry
2. ‘ A New Light on the Veda ’ – by Sri T.V.Kapāli Sastry
(Originally written in Sanskrit under the name ‘Siddhānjana – Bhūmika’, translated into English by Sri M.P.Pandit and thoroughly revised by the author himself, in 1952. Published by Sri Aurobindo Kapali Sastry Institute of Vedic Culture, Bangalore. (SAKSI) )
3. ‘ Agni in the Rig Veda ’ - by Dr R.L.Kashyap
4. ‘ Why read the Rig Veda ’ – by Dr R.L.Kashyap
to be continued……

Gratitude

It is you who open all the closed doors and allow the saving Grace to enter.
- The Mother

Common Name: Funnelform Flower
Botanical Name: Ipomoea carnea
Spiritual Name: Gratitude

Editorial

Gratitude - A feeling of gratefulness, a spontaneous feeling of thankfulness...perhaps these are some weak phrases one can use to describe the term “gratitude”? In it appears to be a subtle vibration of an egoless, thankful appreciation of bounties offered to one, for which nothing is expected in return, either from man, nature or God or all three of these entities. Perhaps it is a feeling that arises from one’s depths in response to the fulfilment of a need? One can probably do nothing about it; it comes of its own and remains in one’s heart, glowing. It is perhaps a response quite remote from the domain of the measuring mind? Whatever gratitude may be, it definitely breeds an atmosphere of wideness, wellness, warmth and “rightness”, something to be cherished, nurtured.

The Mother has categorically singled out gratitude as a special movement, one that is, more than other desirable movements, capable of drawing “you most out of your ego.” It is no wonder than that Gratitude is a necessary condition in the psyche of the sadhak on the way towards a spiritualised life. If ego stays one too long on the path, very far away from the attainable goal, then gratitude is that which aids in the diminution of that ego. The Mother also singled out gratitude as a movement that can give “the most joy, an unalloyed joy, untainted by egoism.” It is, together with the quality of enthusiasm, referred to as a “lever to enter into contact with the Divine in one’s psychic being.”

It therefore appears imperative that Gratitude deserves more attention in one’s life.

Where does one start? It is indeed a formidable question. The story, “Les Virtues” by The Mother discloses gratitude as the least ostentatious, the most ill recognised and rare of all virtues, and yet, it is one that has the power to link one to the core of one’s being, to the psychic. In order to appreciate ‘gratitude’ better, it may do us good to go through experiences of “ingratitude”, preferably in oneself. A few silent moments with memories of these experiences will quickly paint a pretty picture of which of the two is a more desirable state of affairs, the most elevating and therefore, worth keeping, nurturing and letting grow into fullness in our day to day life, only because it feels like the thing to be held within, quite naturally in harmony with the deeper self.

The Mother also points out something that we tend to miss, and that is, to feel gratitude when everything goes well without event. We tend to be grateful when we have a narrow brush with danger or are touched by an adverse force by way of an accident that we happen to survive. So it appears that living with gratitude in one’s heart may not be quite an easy task for beings accustomed to a certain way of looking at the world, especially from the surface of the egoistic and egotistic personality.

It is possible that when one contemplates on one’s life, very quietly, and the many routes it would have taken, as in a journey, one may marvel at the way it has been actually meticulously arranged for some progress in the nature. This inevitably brings about a certain feeling of gratefulness towards the Preceptor Force. It appears that it is in stepping back that the sense of gratitude flowers within and not when one lives on the surface, where the ego most often reigns as king.

The Mother beautifully paints a picture of this special vibration called Gratitude:

When you can enter this vibration in its purity, you realize immediately that it has the same quality as the vibration of Love: it is directionless.

Gratitude, be with us, always!

From Savitri

A secret air of pure felicity
Deep like a sapphire heaven our spirits breathe;
Our hearts and bodies feel its obscure call,
Our senses grope for it and touch and lose.
If this withdrew, the world would sink in the Void;
If this were not, nothing could move or live.
A hidden Bliss is at the root of things.
A mute Delight regards Time’s countless works:
To house God’s joy in things Space gave wide room,
To house God’s joy in self our souls were born.

(Savitri, Book 10, Canto 3)

Question of the month

Q: Sweet Mother: What helps us to enter into contact with the Divine in one’s psychic being?

A: The Mother: There are two principal things. This, the capacity for enthusiasm which makes one come out of his greater or lesser inertia in order to throw himself more or less totally into the thing that rouses him. As for instance, the artist for his art, the scientist for his science. And in general, every person who creates or builds has an opening, the opening of a special faculty, a special possibility, creating an enthusiasm in him. When this is active, something in the being awakens, and there is a participation of almost the whole being in the thing done.

There is this. And then there are those who have an innate faculty of gratitude, those who have an ardent need to respond, respond with warmth, devotion, joy, to something which they feel like a marvel hidden behind the whole of life, behind the tiniest little element, the least little event of life, who feel this sovereign beauty or infinite Grace which is behind all things.

I knew people who had no knowledge, so to say, of anything, who were hardly educated, whose minds were altogether of the ordinary kind and who had in them this capacity for gratitude, of warmth, which gives itself, understands and is thankful.

Well, for them the contact with the psychic was very frequent, almost constant and, to the extent that they were capable of it, conscious – not very conscious but a little- in the sense that they felt they were carried, helped, uplifted above themselves.

These two things prepare people the most. They are born with one or the other, and if they take the trouble, it develops gradually, it increases.

We say the capacity for enthusiasm, something which throws you out of your miserable and mean little ego; and the generous gratitude, the generosity of the gratitude which also flings itself in thanksgiving out of the little ego. These are the two most powerful levers to enter into contact with the Divine in one’s psychic being. This serves as a link with the psychic being- the surest link.

(‘Emergence of the Psychic- Governance of Life by the Soul- Selections from the Works of Sri Aurobindo and the Mother’, compilation and introduction by A. S. Dalal, Sri Aurobindo Ashram, Pondicherry)

Words of The mother on Gratitude

There is nothing that gives you a joy equal to that of gratitude. You hear a bird sing, you see a lovely flower, you look at a little child, observe an act of generosity, read a beautiful sentence, look at the setting sun, anything whatever: suddenly this comes upon you, this kind of emotion, so deep, so intense, that the world manifests the Divine, that there is something behind the world which is the Divine.

And yet, of all movements, the one that perhaps gives the most joy, an unalloyed joy, untainted by egoism- is spontaneous gratitude.

It is something very special. It isn’t love, it isn’t self-giving. It is a very full joy. Very full.

It is a very special vibration unlike anything other than itself. It is something that widens you, that fills you, that is so fervent!

Of all the movements within the reach of human consciousness, it is certainly the one that draws you most out of your ego.

When you can enter this vibration in its purity, you realize immediately that it has the same quality as the vibration of Love: it is directionless.

Ultimately, gratitude is only a very slightly coloured shade of the essential vibration of Love.

- The Mother

(The Mother, ‘The Spiritual Significance of Flowers’, Sri Aurobindo Ashram, Pondicherry)

A poem by Nolini Kanta Gupta

Lord, thou hast heard our prayer,
And come down into our mortal ways-
Assumed the form, the flesh that build our weakness,
Thou hast deigned to be close to us and wear our make,
To be with us and to be of us.

But we have taken thy humanity in a too literal and familiar way,
We have forgotten the Aspiration and the Descent,
The answering Grace that took shape in thy advent;
And now we blame thee and slight thee, because thou art become like us - earthly and human.
Divine, thou art too far- human, too near!
For the aberration of our petty minds knows no limits!

But thou sufferest all,
And keepest thy unruffled and unabated benignity-
On thy lips is the smile of eternal and infinite Grace,
The smile that is thine alone.


(Nolini Kanta Gupta, ‘To The Heights’, Translated from ‘Vers Les Hauteurs’, SAICE, Pondicherry)

Gratitude


Gratitude is an uncommon virtue though taught from man’s childhood. Its opposite number ingratitude, even aggressive ingratitude, is quite common in the human race. It has been so from the earliest times. Scriptures, dramas, literary works speak of it. But the situation has not changed much, rather it has worsened, and now it is said that dogs and some other animals are more grateful than men.

There is a story from the Mother. Once upon a time there was an assembly of Virtues. Gods and goddesses representing the virtues came and were happy in the reunion. Suddenly there was someone, dressed in white, entering the hall. Who could it be? They had thought that they all were there. The stranger was Gratitude.

Yes, gratitude is a quality of the psychic.

Madame Suvrata Gaebele gave an instance of the Mother’s sense of gratitude. Her brother had once helped the Mother in her visa matter, and this help Mother would gratefully mention whenever someone would complain to her against them.

A perfect example of gratefulness for a single act of kindness.

In fact there are instances in abundance of Mother’s remembrance of kindness and help that would be easily forgotten by us.

Then there is another gratitude, a gratitude of another level. As there is gratitude of man to man, there is a gratitude of man to the Divine.

That is what is expected of the seeker of God.

A self –willed man has the ingrained nature of giving credit to himself, to his own capacity and worth for whatever he receives or achieves. So he remains far from feeling grateful. But the seeker of God has to overcome his self-will, his limited self-personality. In the process, he learns to be grateful.

Grateful to whom? To man, to Nature, to God.

Our psychic recognizes what the divine is doing for us, how the Grace is carrying us through. It is a recognition with humbleness and devotion. Gratitude is a spontaneous outflow from this psychic perception.


(Shyam Sunder Jhunjhuwala, From the Editor’s Desk, ‘Some Socio-Spiritual Perspectives’, Sri Aurobindo Action, Pondicherry)

Walking in Light: Body Weight

The column “Walking in Light” is back on track, after a few issues of absence, due to reasons already published. In the last few issues, topics ranging from food, sleep and dreams were cursorily visited. In this comeback issue, the topic examined is “Body Weight”.

It was reported in Pucher (2010) that over the last 30 years, the rate of obesity has increased and to date, the World Health Organisation puts the number on obese adults around the world at 300 million. This seems to be directly related to the growth of affluence, which puts at our easy disposal readily available calories-rich food for our consumption and at the same time, automation that reduces physical activities considerably. Obesity raises the alarm bell for several life-threatening diseases such as high-blood pressure or hypertension, diabetes, cardiovascular diseases, such as heart attacks and angina, gout, gallstones and fatty livers (Pucher, 2010). A healthy life-style rests on a healthy regime of food intake, exercises, rest and relaxation. With these will usually fall into place a healthy and acceptable body weight, together with a body that provides one with a firm material support and basis for all activities in life.

What is one’s acceptable weight? A useful measure of whether one is overweight or not is through the Body Mass Index (BMI). This is calculated based on Weight divided by the square of Height:

BMI
Underweight Below 18.5
Normal 18.5–24.9
Overweight 25.0–29.9
Obesity 30.0 and Above


Body Weight/ Height Squared = BMI

The Body Mass Index gives an approximation on how heavy an individual should be at different heights. BMI is also an estimate of body fat and can serve as a good gauge of fat related health risks. To compute your BMI using the BMI calculator, you can visit the following website by the American based National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute at http://www.nhlbisupport.com/bmi/bmi-m.htm.

The two most important determinants of weight are the intake of the right types and amounts of food and adequate measure of activities in the course of the day. Essentially, this translates into a formula of input equating output and not one in excess of the other, which spells either an underweight or an overweight condition.

Keeping the body trim and fit is an essential component of Integral Yoga, for the purpose of introducing more and more perfection in the way the body functions and to increase in it suppleness in order to be able to function in works dedicated to the Divine in increasing levels of perfection.

The future newsletters will examine weight related issues in some detail.
- Jayanthy

Reference
1. Pucher, J., et al. (2010). Walking and Cycling to Health – A Comparative Analysis of City, State and International Data. American Journal of Public Health, October 2010, Vol. 100, No 100 P 1986 – 1992.
2. National Heart Lung and Blood Institute, USA. Website: http://www.nhlbisupport.com/bmi/bmi-m.htm.

Integral Enrichment program: Walk at the Southern ridges

There are people who love adventure. It is these I call, and I tell them this: "I invite you to the great adventure." It is not a question of repeating spiritually what others have done before us, for our adventure begins beyond that.

It is a question of a new creation, entirely new, with all the unforeseen events, the risks, the hazards it entails - a real adventure, whose goal is certain victory, but the road to which is unknown and must be traced out step by step, in the unexplored.

Something that has never been in this present universe and that will never be again in the same way. If that interests you... well, let us embark. What will happen to you tomorrow, I have no idea. One must put aside all that has been foreseen, all that has been devised, all that has been constructed and then... set off walking into the unknown. And - come what may!

The Mother

Dear Children,

We invite you to join us on this great adventure, one in which we would like to explore what The Mother has written about education through a series of intellectually and spiritually enriching activities.

Our upcoming activity is a walk along Singapore Southern Ridges trail. Join us for this relaxing walk a we explore the greenery of a set of trails and have a picnic dinner in a secret garden.

Date: 26th December 2010
Time: Report by 4.30pm at Harbour Front MRT station. We request participants to be punctual as it is difficult to join us half way through the walk.

More information: Participants are to wear loose comfortable clothing, carry plenty of water and bring a light picnic lunch. As there will be activities on the road, please RSVp you attendance for us to plan accordingly.

If you need further information, please contact Kiruthika (kimira1012@yahoo.fr) at 9649 0670, ShreeValli (msvy001@hotmail.com ) at 90266795 or Jayanthy (k.jayanthy@gmail.com) at 9652 2197.

Faith




You flame up and triumph.
- The Mother


Common Name: Chinese hibiscus
Botanical Name: Hibiscus rosa-sinensis
Spiritual Name: Faith

Editorial

Faith. This seems ingrained in the very movement of life, in its very substance. Standing along a very crowded street of Bangalore, India, I watch a dog, waiting by the side of the road. It was watching the passing traffic, quite obviously deciding whether to cross and if so, when. I watched the dog make a move to cross as auto-rickshaws were speedily and noisily manoeuvring their way past cars and pedestrians. After a narrow escape from a speeding SUV, the dog made its way across the road. Was faith behind this movement, which over-ruled the inborn survival instinct which would have prevented any of us mortals from crossing the roads at great moments of peril, uncertainty and imminent danger?

What is it that is embedded as a seed deep inside an action that one carries out? Is it not the faith that one, firstly has to carry out an action, secondly, can carry out the action and thirdly, that the fruit that one was looking for through the action will fall right on one’s hands, no matter how long it may take and how many more efforts of that nature? It appears that there is a fundamental seed of faith in us that looks towards the future with optimism.

So what of the pessimists? Even in a pessimist, faith must be inherent though one would hear the voice of denial sounding strong. How many steps forward the pessimist would have taken in the dark, in blindness! Would it not have been still a faith inherent within that would have pushed him onwards, even in darkness although he strives on negating and denying all possibilities of the ideal and the better something from manifesting? It is indeed difficult to imagine a life without faith. Life would probably cease to exist without faith, in all likelihood.

How many of us can say that we have had the fore-knowledge of exactly how to chart one’s life? Faith seems a necessity in a thinking species that cannot divine its own future in concrete ways.

Faith brings one along virgin paths giving rise to ground-breaking discoveries and victories, big or small, internal or external. Faith is indeed, something intrinsically beautiful. Faith brings people closer. Faith makes things happen. Faith creates wonders. Absolute faith arises from the heart filled with love and if that love is an absolute love for the Divine, untold miracles happen.

For one who has plunged into the ocean of this yoga, sometimes supported by calm waters and sometimes thrown about and swept along by turbulent waves, faith is about the only rudder with which one may keep the boat of one’s life from capsizing and perhaps manage even to row towards the shores of God’s island. Demanded from the sadhak, according to Sri Aurobindo, is “not an ignorant but a luminous faith, a faith in light and not in darkness.” Contemplating upon these lines alone opens vistas of light before one! Faith is beautiful because faith is blind. Faith relies on nothing less than on seemingly unsubstantiated total trust in the highest that is to be realized. Faith has least reliance on mental reasoning and intellectual conjectures or on physical evidence.

Sri Aurobindo explains that there are four realms of action of faith, corresponding to the different planes of our being. Mental faith is that which “combats doubts and helps to open to the true knowledge”; vital faith “prevents the attack of hostile forces or defeats them and helps to open to the true spiritual will and action” and physical faith brings one through “physical obscurity, inertia or suffering and helps to open to the foundation of the true consciousness”. There is last, psychic faith that is in “direct touch” with the Divine, open to Its direct influence and “helps to bring union and surrender”, conditions for the upward spiritual march.

From Savitri

Happy are they who in this chaos of things,
This coming and going of the feet of Time,
Can find the single Truth, the eternal Law:
Untouched they live by hope and doubt and fear.
Happy are men anchored on fixed belief
In this uncertain and ambiguous world,
Or who have planted in the heart’s rich soil
One small grain of spiritual certitude.
Happiest who stand on faith as on a rock.


(Savitri, Book 7, Canto 3)

Question of the month

Q: Sweet Mother, I don’t understand very clearly the difference between faith, belief and confidence?

A: The Mother: But Sri Aurobindo has given the full explanation here. He has written “Faith is a feeling in the whole being”

The whole being yes. Faith, that’s the whole being at once. He says that belief is something that occurs in the head, that is purely mental; and confidence is quite different. Confidence- one can have confidence in life, trust in the Divine, trust in others, trust in one’s own destiny, that is, one has the feeling that everything is going to help him, to do what he wants to do.

Faith is a certitude without any proof.


Q: Mother, on what does faith depend?

A: The Mother: Probably on Divine Grace. Some people have it spontaneously. There are others who need to make a great effort to have it.


Q: If one has faith in the Divine and also trust, what is the difference between faith and trust?

A: The Mother: Faith is something much more integral - that is what Sri Aurobindo has written- much more integral than trust. You see, you have trust in the Divine, in the sense that you are convinced that all that comes from Him will always be the best for you: whatever His decision and whatever the experience He sends you or the circumstances in which He puts you, it will all be always what is best for you. This is trust. But faith – that kind of unshakable certitude in the very existence of God- faith in something that seizes the whole being. It is not only mental, psychic or vital: it is the whole being, entirely, which has faith. Faith leads straight to experience.


(‘CWM- Volume 6’, Sri Aurobindo Ashram Trust 1979, published by Sri Aurobindo Ashram)

Words of The mother on faith

The perception of the exterior consciousness may deny the perception of the psychic. But the psychic has the true knowledge, an intuitive instinctive knowledge. It says, “I know; I cannot give reasons, but I know.” For its knowledge is not mental, based on experience or proved true. It does not believe after proofs are given: faith is the movement of the soul whose knowledge is spontaneous and direct. Even if the whole world denies and brings forward a thousand proofs to the contrary, still it knows by an inner knowledge, a direct perception that can stand against everything, a perception by identity. The knowledge of the psychic is something which is concrete and tangible, a solid mass. You can also bring it into your mental, your vital and your physical; and then you have an integral faith—a faith which can really move mountains. But nothing in the being must come and say, “It is not like that”, or ask for a test. By the least half-belief you spoil matters.

How can the Supreme manifest if faith is not integral and immovable? Faith in itself is always unshakable — that is its very nature, for otherwise it is not faith at all. But it may happen that the mind or the vital or the physical does not follow the psychic movement. A man can come to a Yogi and have a sudden faith that this person will lead him to his goal. He does not know whether the person has knowledge or not. He feels a psychic shock and knows that he has met his master. He does not believe after long mental consideration or seeing many miracles. And this is the only kind of faith worthwhile. You will always miss your destiny if you start arguing. Some people sit down and consider whether the psychic impulse is reasonable or not.

It is not really by what is called blind faith that people are misled. They often say, “Oh, I have believed in this or that man and he has betrayed me!” But in fact the fault lies not with the man but with the believer: it is some weakness in himself. If he had kept his faith intact he would have changed the man: it is because he did not remain in the same faith-consciousness that he found himself betrayed and did not make the man what he wanted him to be. If he had had integral faith, he would have obliged the man to change.

It is always by faith that miracles happen. A person goes to another and has a contact with the Divine Presence; if he can keep this contact pure and sustained, it will oblige the Divine Consciousness to manifest in the most material. But all depends on your own standard and your own sincerity; and the more you are psychically ready the more you are led to the right source, the right master. The psychic and its faith are always sincere, but if in your exterior being there is insincerity and if you are seeking not spiritual life but personal powers, that can mislead you. It is that and not your faith that misleads you. Pure in itself, faith can get mixed up in the being with low movements and it is then that you are misled.
- The Mother

(The Mother, ‘Questions and Answers 1929-1931’, Sri Aurobindo Ashram, Pondicherry)

To the heights

Faint Heart! Kindle your faith and take courage!
Stupendous obstacles block the way.
But omnipotent is the Power that awaits you,
And under her ensign you will conquer-
Conquer all that looks unconquerable
And much more besides,
Worlds now beyond reach and out of sight.

The little being within appears so small and so helpless!
And yet it is the diamond-point
That cuts through even the hardest matter as through water,
It is the streak of light that easily pierces
The densest sway of darkness.

There is a breath that moves mountains,
There is a touch that makes the dead arise,
There is a voice that is the doom of Yesterday.
And the radiant herald of Tomorrow.

- Nolini Kanta Gupta (26-May-1933)

(Nolini Kanta Gupta, ‘To The Heights’, Translated from ‘Vers Les Hauteurs’, SAICE, Pondicherry)

Faith

A faith based on material proofs is not faith - it is bargaining.

Faith first, knowledge afterwards.

Faith is the surest guide in the darkest days.

At every moment all the unforeseen, the unexpected, the unknown is before us - and what happens to us depends mostly on our intensity and purity of our faith.

If we had a truly living faith, an absolute certitude of the almighty power of the Divine, His manifestation could be so evident that the whole earth would be transformed by it.


”There is one kind of faith demanded as indispensable by the Integral Yoga and that may be described as faith in God and the Shakti, faith in the presence and power of the Divine in us and the world, a faith that all in the world is the working of one divine Shakti, that all the steps of the Yoga, its strivings and sufferings and failures as well as its successes and satisfactions and victories are utilities and necessities of her workings and that by a firm and strong dependence on and a total self-surrender to the Divine and to his Shakti in us we can attain to oneness and freedom and victory and perfection.”

Commentaries or Bhashyas on the vedas (contd)

Shaunaka - (900 BCE)
A great Sanskrit grammarian and teacher of the Atharva Veda, his famous works are Brhad Dēvata, Rigveda-Pratisākhya and Cārana-vyūha and has united Bāshkala and Shākala Shākās of Rig Veda.

Brhad Devata: Describes the deities to which each hymn and verse of the Rig-Veda is addressed. Contains an index of the 'many gods', and about 1200 shlōkās. Following the order of the Rig Veda, its main object is to state the deity for each verse. It contains a large number of illustrative myths and legends and is of great value as an early collection of stories.

Yāska & Brhad Devata:


According to Yāska, the meaning of the mantra is difficult to grasp. The mantra called 'brahman' revealed itself to the rishīs in tapas, strict self control, and not in any other way. He further states:
"Brahman the self-born, came to the rishis who were doing tapas, therefore they became the rishīs, - in that lies the rishi hood of the rishīs” - Nirukta (2.11).

"The shore (of knowledge) of the mantra has to be reached by tapas.'' Nirukta (13.13).

Bŗhad Devata (BD) supporting Yāska, says:
"The mantra is not perceptible to one who is not a rishi.'' BD (8.129).

"He knows the Gods who knows the riks. They are to be approached through yoga with self-control and skill, understanding, general knowledge and above all tapasyā.'' BD (7. 130).

"The Gods accept the offering of the sacrificer who knows the Deity of the mantra but not of him who knows not the deit.y'' BD(131).

"The Deity does not accept the libation offered in ignorance. Therefore the libation is to be offered to the Deity with self-control in the mind.'' BD(132).

"He is like a God worthy of praise in heaven even by the Gods, who is pure and studies the Veda with knowledge of the Gods and the mantra.'' BD(133).

Also with great effort, Shaunaka has classified the vast pantheon of Vedic Gods (often said to be innumerable at different levels), and reduced them to just three prime deities for the three worlds.

Agni or Fire on Earth (Prithivi),
Vāyu or Wind in the Atmosphere (Antariksha),
Sūrya or the Sun in Heaven (Dyaus)
These three deities are three aspects of the One God or the Purusha, the supreme consciousness principle and higher Self that is pure light.
The Rig Veda is organized in this way with the hymns to Agni generally coming first in most of its ten books, then the hymns to Vāyu and Indra, and finally the hymns to the Sun.

Jaimini (3rd Century BCE):
An ancient Rishi and a great philosopher, Jaimini is credited as the chief proponent of the Mīmāmsa system. He was the disciple of Veda Vyāsa and the son of Rishi Parashara. His important works are:

Pūrva Mīmāmsā Sūtrās: Divided into 12 chapters, it is a collection of nearly 2500 aphorisms which are extremely difficult to comprehend. A great treatise also called ‘Karma-mīmāmsa’, is a system that investigates the nature of Vedic injunctions. It forms the foundational text of the Mīmāmsa school. This aims at a critical interpretation of the Vedās with regard to ritual practice (karma) and religious duty (dharma), and also commenting on the early Upanishads. Jaimini's Mīmāmsa is a ritualist counter-movement to the mysticist Vedānta currents of his day.

Jaimini Bhārata: An epic work which presents a version of Mahābhārata, and most known for its Ashwamēdha Parva.

Jaimini Sūtrās: Or ‘Upadēsha Sūtrās’, is a classic work, rated as next only to the Brihat Parashara Hōra Shāstra, to which he gave an extended commentary, thus giving birth to "Jaimini system of astrology".

Other mentions: ‘Sāmaveda’ - Veda Vyāsa divided ancient Vedic hymns into four and transmitted the Sāmaveda part to Jaimini and ‘Mārkandēya Purāna’ – one of the major purānās, where a dialogue between sage Jaimini and Mārkandēya is presented.
The Mīmāmsakās paid lip service to the greatness, glory and antiquity of the Veda, but had completely ignored its import. They were more concerned with ‘Dharma’ than with ‘mantrārtha’ (meaning of mantrās), for they regarded ‘Dharma’ itself as the ‘Vedārtha’ (meaning of the Veda). The words were all that was important for them in a mantra from the Samhita collection, because the mantrās had to be recited as part of the rituals. The meaning of the mantra was of no interest or of importance to them. Indeed, Jaimini argued that the mantrās that were not prescribed or employed in the sacrifices were irrelevant and redundant.

Ādi Shankarāchārya (788 - 821 CE):
Ādi Shankarāchārya (meaning 'the first Shankara' in his lineage), reverentially called Bhagavatpāda Ācharya (the teacher at the feet of Lord) had a profound influence on the growth of Hinduism through his non-dualistic philosophy (Advaita). He formulated this doctrine by validating his arguments on the basis of quotations from the Vedās and other Hindu scriptures. According to him, all attributes or manifestations are unreal or temporary. They are the result of our own ‘Avidya’ or ignorance.

He was the first among the three achāryās (the other two are Madhvāchārya and Rāmānujāchārya) who reformed Hindu religion by giving their own interpretation to the ancient sacred texts. This was at a time when the Vedic texts which had come down through the ages and only orally studied, were the monopoly of a certain class. He gave a new life to Hinduism at a time when Buddhism and Jainism were gaining popularity. He gives a high priority to svānubhava (personal experience) of the student.
He wrote many works in his short life span of only 32 years.

• 14 Bhāhyas (commentaries) that includes 10 important Upanishads, Brahma Sūtrās and Bhagavadgīta
• 17 Prakaraa granthās (philosophical treatise)
Many stotras (devotional hymn).

References
1. ‘ The Light of Veda – A Practical Approach ’ – by Sri T.V.Kapāli Sastry
2. ‘ A New Light on the Veda ’ – by Sri T.V.Kapāli Sastry
(Originally written in Sanskrit under the name ‘Siddhānjana – Bhūmika’, translated into English by Sri M.P.Pandit and thoroughly revised by the author himself, in 1952. Published by Sri Aurobindo Kapali Sastry Institute of Vedic Culture, Bangalore. (SAKSI) )
3. ‘ Agni in the Rig Veda ’ - by Dr R.L.Kashyap
4. ‘ Why read the Rig Veda ’ – by Dr R.L.Kashyap
to be continued……

Krishnamurthy (chamathu2003@yahoo.co.uk)

Faith: A story based on real life experience

The sun’s dazzling rays slowly paved their way through the window. The birds were chirping sweetly .The world was slowly getting ready for the busy day. The smell of incense diffused in the air when Susheela, with all her devotion, was in prayer in front of The Mother and Sri Aurobindo. Srinivas, Susheela’s husband was plucking flowers from the garden with all his thoughts on their only daughter Reshma. When he came in, Susheela reminded him about the doctor’s appointment for Reshma at 10.00 am.

Reshma was in the family way and the entire family was looking forward to the arrival of a new member. Things were smooth till the 8th month’s regular check up for Reshma when the doctor detected a problem. There was a sudden increase in Reshma’s weight. The doctor suspected it to be excessive fluid formation which might lead to either loosing the child or the child being born with abnormalities. Reshma and Srini were tensed and worried whereas Susheela was calm and immediately started calling the Mother, and spontaneously started repeating the words from Savitri “Fate shall be changed by an unchanging Will.”1

Reshma was surprised at seeing Susheela’s calmness and asked her how she was not worried, for which Susheela told her that there are 4 types of faith.

Blind Faith
- This can be found in many people, cannot be explained
Faith based on experience
- It has happened earlier, it will happen now.
Faith based on skill/talent
- We have learnt to solve it and it can be solved
Faith in The Divine
- This is the best faith which will come when we lose our self-confidence but this faith can move mountains


Susheela told Reshma that Faith in the Divine is what she needs now and not to depend on her degree or past knowledge. She mentioned The Mother’s quote: “Faith is the surest guide in the darkest days.”2

The next day, before entering in for the scan, Reshma, with total faith repeated the words –“O Mother, please save my child!’

The scan was taken and the doctor came out smiling, saying that everything was fine and that Reshma would deliver a normal child. Susheela, Reshma and Srinivas had tears of gratitude in their eyes.

Faith is the master key for any prayer.

References
1. Sri Aurobindo (1970). SAVITRI (Pg 346) Sri Aurobindo Ashram Trust, Pondicherry
2. Sri Aurobindo Ashram Trust,(2008). “Words of the Mother II”. Sri Aurobindo Ashram Trust,
Pondicherry


- Sharadha

Perfect Surrender

The indispensable condition for identification.
- The Mother

Common Name: Rose
Botanical Name: Rosa ‘Paul Neyron’
Spiritual Name: Perfect Surrender

Editorial

Surrender. Sharanam. There is a sweetness in uttering these words; a sense of giving and not taking is there, an expansion, as opposed to constriction is there. With the giving, a sense of vastness prevails within. There is also a sense of being prone. However, being prone to what matters much in this Integral Yoga.

Interestingly, a quick check on the word processor’s list of synonyms for the word ‘surrender’ revealed its equivalents to be ‘give in’, ‘give up’, ‘ admit defeat’, ‘lay down your arms’, ‘submit’, ‘yield’ and ‘capitulate’. These synonyms bring to mind what the Mother has spoken about how generally, the Westerner would find it difficult to surrender, since “they have been taught to fear and avoid all that threatens their personal independence ….. surrender means giving up all that.” The synonyms of ‘surrender’ in English seems to reflect that frame of being. However, in yoga, the word ‘surrender’ is taken to mean more than these meanings. Surrender, as in Sharanam, is taken to mean surrender to the divine. In this surrender too, a loss of independence is declared, but it is an independence reliant on the narrow, limited personal will and strength that is given up in order to be transformed into a dependence on the infinite power of divinity. It implies a loss of an association with the ego.

Sri Aurobindo mentions, “It is the first principle of our sadhana that surrender is the means of fulfillment.” And of this surrender, “Self-surrender to the divine and infinite Mother, however difficult, remains our only effective means and our sole abiding refuge.” Sri Aurobindo goes on to explain what exactly self-surrender means: “..our nature must be an instrument in her hands, the soul a child in the arms of the Mother.” The Mother lays it down in simple and absolute terms, “Give all you are, all you have, nothing more is asked of you but also nothing less.” In deed, The Mother, sweetly but decisively lays down the expectation for this Yoga.

Sri Aurobindo typifies “true surrender” as a condition when one is able to “accept the knowledge from above in place of his own ideas, the will of the Divine in place of his own desires, the movements of the Truth in place of his physical habits – and as a result is able to live wholly for the Divine.”

One can make a quick survey of the state of one’s internal being and then the outer and make a comparison between what is and what is to be, where the simple virtue of ‘surrender’ is concerned, in our own lives.

The Mother and Sri Aurobindo have extolled the virtue of surrender as an aid and a means to this sadhana. However, attaining a true state of surrender appears to be a sadhana within a sadhana, in its own right. But this too, inevitably, needs to be put in its place in our lives, if at all we are given to this yoga.

As if to assure us faced with the magnitude of true surrender, Sri Aurobindo states, ‘..a complete surrender is not possible in the beginning, but only a will in the being for that completeness. It is only when the surrender is complete that the full flood of the sadhana is possible. Till then there must be personal effort with an increasing reality of surrender.”

Till that state of completeness, surrender remains something we can make real in our own lives, more and more complete and perfect, constantly asking for help from that same Divinity towards which this Yoga proceeds.

Savitri

Immaculate in self-knowledge and self-power,
Calm they repose on the eternal Will.
Only his law they count and him obey;
They have no goal to reach, no aim to serve.
Implacable in their timeless purity,
All barter or bribe of worship they refuse;
Unmoved by cry of revolt and ignorant prayer
They reckon not our virtue or our sin,
They bend not to the voices that implore,
They hold no traffic with error and its reign;
They are guardians of the silence of the Truth,
They are keepers of the immutable decree.
A deep surrender is their source of might,
A still identity their way to know,
Motionless is their action like a sleep.

(Savitri, Book 1, Canto 4)

Question of the month

Q: How to persuade the recalcitrant parts of our nature to surrender?

A: The Mother: Try to make them understand, as one does with a child who does not understand, by all kinds of means: pictures, explanations, symbols. Make them understand the necessity of union and harmony with the other parts of the being; reason with them, try to make them conscious of their acts and the consequences of these. Above all, be very patient, do not tire of repeating the same things.


Q: In this work, can the mind be of help?

A: The Mother: Yes, if a part of the mind is fully enlightened, it is surrendered to the psychic light and has a sense of the truth, the mind can be of great help, it can explain things in the true way.

(“Aspiration” compiled by Vijay from the writings of Sri Aurobindo and the Mother, Sri Aurobindo Society, Pondicherry)



“The progressive surrender of our ignorant personal will and its merger into a greater divine or on the highest summits greatest supreme Will is the whole secret of Karma Yoga. To bring about the conditions in which alone this vast and happy identity becomes possible and to work out the lines we must follow to their end if we are to reach it, is all the deeper purpose of this discipline.”

Words of The Mother on Surrender

Surrender is the decision taken to hand over the responsibility of your life to the Divine. Without this decision nothing is at all possible; if you do not surrender, the Yoga is entirely out of question. Everything else comes naturally after it, for the whole process starts with surrender. You can surrender either through knowledge or through devotion. You may have a strong intuition that the Divine alone is the truth and a luminous conviction that without the Divine you cannot manage. Or you may have a spontaneous feeling that this line is the only way of being happy, a strong psychic desire to belong exclusively to the Divine: “I do not belong to myself”, you say and give up the responsibility of your being to the Truth.

Then comes self-offering: “Here I am, a creature of various qualities, good and bad, dark and enlightened. I offer myself as I am to you, take me up with all my ups and downs, conflicting impulses and tendencies- do whatever you like with me.” In the course of your self-offering, you start unifying your being around what has taken the first decision – the central psychic will. All the jarring elements of your nature have to be harmonized, they have to be taken up one after another and unified with the central being. You may offer yourself to the Divine with a spontaneous movement, but it is not possible to give yourself effectively without this unification. The more you get unified, the more you are able to realize self-giving. And once the self-giving is complete, consecration follows: it is the crown of the whole process of realization, the last step of the gradation, after which there is no more trouble and everything runs smoothly. But you must not forget that you cannot get integrally consecrated at once. You are often deluded into such belief when you are having for a day or two a strong movement of a particular kind. You are led to hope that everything else will automatically follow in its wake; but in fact if you become the least bit self-complacent you retard your own advance. For your being is full of innumerable tendencies at war with one another-almost different personalities, we may say. When one of them gives itself to the Divine, the others come up and refuse their allegiance. “We have not given ourselves”. They cry and start clamouring for their independence and expression. Then you bid them to be quiet and show them the Truth. Patiently you have to go round your whole being, exploring each nook and corner, facing all those anarchic elements in you which are waiting for their psychological moment to turn up. And it is only when you have done the entire round of your mental, vital and physical nature, persuaded everything to give itself to the Divine and thus achieved an absolute unified consecration that you put an end to your difficulties. Then indeed yours is a glorious walk towards transformation, for you no longer go from darkness to knowledge but from knowledge to knowledge, light to light, happiness to happiness

The complete consecration is undoubtedly no easy matter, and it might take an almost indefinitely long time if you had to do it all by yourself, by your own independent effort. But when the Divine’s Grace is with you it is not exactly like that. With a little push from the Divine now and then, a little push in this direction and in that, the work becomes comparatively quite easy. Of course the length of time depends on each individual, but it can be very much shortened if you make a really firm resolve. Resolution is the one thing required-resolution is the master-key.
- The Mother

(The Mother, ‘Words of The Mother’, Sri Aurobindo Ashram, Pondicherry)

Surrender

O Thou of whom I am the instrument,
O secret Spirit and Nature housed in me,
Let all my mortal being now be blent
In Thy still glory of divinity.

I have given my mind to be dug Thy channel mind,
I have offered up my will to be Thy will:
Let nothing of myself be left behind
In our union mystic and unutterable.
My heart shall throb with the world-beats of Thy love,
My body become Thy engine for earth-use;
In my nerves and veins Thy rapture's streams shall move;
My thoughts shall be hounds of Light for Thy power to loose.

Keep1 only my soul to adore eternally
And meet Thee in each form and soul of Thee.

- Sri Aurobindo

(Sri Aurobindo, ‘Selected Poems’, Sri Aurobindo Ashram, Pondicherry)

Aspire Wholly

Aspire wholly,
Ask for the fullness of Grace-
But weigh not the measure of Response,
Nor repine if it seems doled out scantily, niggardly.

The high wisdom knows and gives just what is needed-
Could we only rest contented and move in its rhythm
and not transgress its will,
Serene would be the path and perfect and even prompt the achievement;
But our greed and vanity and self-love
Magnify our worth and distend our girth:
We lay claim to that and pull at that which is beyond our desert,
We force the supreme Bounty and infinite Abundance,
And in answer it condescends to come down….
But we are unable to contain it and the inflated receptacle
we have made ourselves to be
Bursts and crashes a ruined and shattered heap!

Give yourself wholly and ever more and more,
It is your unreserved giving that will create the spaciousness
to hold safely the gift from the Divine.

- Nolini Kanta Gupta (09-Oct-1936)

(Nolini Kanta Gupta, ‘To The Heights’, Translated from ‘Vers Les Hauteurs’, Sri Aurobindo International Centre of Education, Pondicherry)

Surrender

Surrender is the spontaneous self-giving of ourselves to the Divine.
Sri Aurobindo says,
“Give yourself, give completely without condition, without reservation so that all in you shall belong to the Divine Mother and nothing left to the Ego.”
It is quite difficult to surrender as it involves the co-ordination of mind and body without the interference of one’s built- up ego. True Surrender enlarges our mind.
In everyday life we have lots of problems. Generally we trust ourselves or we trust others when we are not able to solve the problem, then finally we look up at the Divine. Instead, if we start surrendering all our chores, tasks and opportunities to the Divine, Mother will take us through.

In Sri Ramakrishna’s anecdote, also recounted by The Mother, we would have seen that the monkey’s infant will cling on to its mother when they move around. Whereas in the case of the cats, the mother cat carries the kitten by its mouth and moves around. The kitten leaves everything to its mother and is carefree. We should behave as kittens in front of our Divine Mother with the belief that everything will be taken care of.

The Mother has given a spiritual name for one variety of the rose flower as “total surrender”, as no part of the flower is hidden; it is always wide open. Let us also surrender ourselves fully to the Divine Mother like that rose flower so that the great beacon of light of the Mother’s Grace may shine on our dark and desolate valley to bring us onto the sunlit path.

“How beautiful, grand, simple, and calm everything becomes, when our thoughts turn to the divine and we give ourselves to the Divine.”
- The Mother

- Sharadha
References

• The Mother (sincerity and surrender). Shri Aurobindo Ashram Website : http://intyoga.online.fr/mothr03.htm
• Sri Aurobindo Ashram Trust (2006). Oli Porunthiya Pathai, (The Sunlit Path, a translation in Tamil). Sri Aurobindo Ashram Trust, Pondicherry
• Anandabala (2003). Chaithanyamayi. Sri Aravinda Annai Dyana maiyam, Chennai
• Sri Aurobindo Society, Chennai (1993). Mantras of The Mother (A translation in Tamil). Sri Aurobindo Society, Chennai

The Human Race in Light of Sri Aurobindo’s Integral Yoga: Nationalism and Internationalism

“There are many conditions and tendencies in human life at present which are favourable to the progress of the internationalist idea. The strongest of these favourable forces is the constant drawing closer of the knots of international life, the multiplication of points of contact and threads of communication and an increasing community in thought, in science and in knowledge. Science especially has been a great force in this direction; for science is a thing common to all men in its conclusions, open to all in its methods, available to all in its results: it is international in its very nature; there can be no such thing as a national science, but only the nations' contributions to the work and growth of science which are the indivisible inheritance of all humanity. Therefore it is easier for men of science or those strongly influenced by science to grow into the international spirit and all the world is now beginning to feel the scientific influence and to live in it. Science also has created that closer contact of every part of the world with every other part, out of which some sort of international mind is growing. Even cosmopolitan habits of life are now not uncommon and there are a fair number of persons who are as much or more citizens of the world as citizens of their own nation. The growth of knowledge is interesting the peoples in each other's art, culture, religion, ideas and is breaking down at many points the prejudice, arrogance and exclusiveness of the old nationalistic sentiment. Religion, which ought to have led the way, but owing to its greater dependence on its external parts and its infrarational rather than its spiritual impulses has been as much, or even more, a sower of discord as a teacher of unity, - religion is beginning to realise, a little dimly and ineffectively as yet, that spirituality is after all its own chief business and true aim and that it is also the common element and the common bond of all religions. As these influences grow and come more and more consciously to cooperate with each other, it might be hoped that the necessary psychological modification will quietly, gradually, but still irresistibly and at last with an increasing force of rapidity take place which can prepare a real and fundamental change in the life of humanity” (Sri Aurobindo, Ideal of Human Unity, Vol 15, p. 526).

The above visionary words from Sri Aurobindo on internationalism written in early 20th century are getting materialized in the 21st century. Several international organizations are being formed in every sphere of life. More and more groups of nations are forming into unions to cooperate among themselves to allow free movement of their citizens across their national boundaries. Nothing today is exclusively confined to one nation whether it is in the field of art and literature, science or technology. Even internal political and administrative decisions of one nation today would bear more impact on the world at large than in the past. National identities are merging into a single international body for social and economic development and peaceful coexistence of humanity is taking shape by leaps and bounds.

20th century was a century of upheaval. Two great wars that have taught us in a hard way about the importance of mutual respect and understanding between nations for the very survival of human race on this earth. During this century new nations were formed redefining their geographical boundaries and with new socio political systems of governance by democracy. No nation can today exist or survive in isolation. We have been recently observing that many are taking citizenship of the countries where they have moved for career or entrepreneurial interests while their other siblings and nearest relations are still citizens of the nation of their birth or origin. It is very common that the members of one extended joint family bear citizenship of different countries. This is a clear indication that we are moving towards the concept of ‘Vasudaiva Kutumbakam’ the dream of the ancient Rishis that the world is one family.

Scientific and technological advancements and global means of information sharing through the Internet and fast electronic media have bridged the geographical distances, thus drastically increasing interaction between people from different nations. As a result, two friends living at a distance of thousands of kilometers are able to experience the closeness of living as next door neighbors. The very idea of somebody being a foreigner is gradually being replaced by global identity. Uniform life style consisting of a fusion and merging of different ethnic and cultural habits and customs is an acceptable norm. The greatest contributor in helping Mother Nature in its aim of unification is science and technology and fast means of communication and transport.
Next to science it is trade and commerce and economic interdependence that are compelling the unification of the world. We often feel pessimistic that the world is getting commercialized and we are turning towards materialism but the world in the past too witnessed the exchange of cultures, knowledge and all rounded progress whenever ancient kingdoms and countries interacted with one another for trade and commerce. The differences based on ethnic and racial origins too are getting diluted with inter-racial marriages and socio-economic associations and an undercurrent of cultural and social exchange is taking place while people are freely moving across the globe in search of their livelihood.

The major disharmony prevailing in the world arising between different religious groups too will soon disappear when all religions will realize that the very purpose of their birth and existence is to help man to know himself and his Divine origin. The Truth of One in the Many and the Many in the One or Unity in Diversity that the great prophets and saints in the past have realized through their inner experiences must again be re-emphasized in all religious preachings and guidance. Subsequently all external differences arising from various forms of worship and practices will be completely eliminated. The spiritual essence of religions will soon make us realize that we are all parts of a one single Brahma (Godhead) manifest in different forms. The Vedas proclaim that ‘ekam sat viprah bahuda vadanti’ ‘One Truth is said in many ways by the Learned’.

We all know that unification is an external form of linking together the nations of the world for materialistic motive. The real unity will come when all will start realizing the oneness and indivisibility of the universal soul and experience the Truth that we are parts of the One and that the outer division is only an illusion or Maya.
In his profound spiritual visions of the destiny of humanity, Sri Aurobindo has clearly stated that human oneness based on spiritualized social order will become the bright destiny of mankind. We need not get disheartened or pessimistic looking at some external disturbances and misunderstandings. The outer unification and uniformity are predecessors for the inner unity that is yet to be realized in the near future.

“Of the universe he is a part; in all but his deepest spirit he is its subject, a small cell in that tremendous organic mass: his substance is drawn from its substance and by the law of its life the law of his life is determined and governed. From a new view and knowledge of the world must proceed his new view and knowledge of himself, of his power and capacity and limitations, of his claim on existence and the high road and the distant or immediate goal of his individual and social destiny” (Sri Aurobindo, The Human Cycle, Volume: 25, [CWSA], p. 28).

Reference

• Sri Aurobindo (1997). Ideal of Human Unity, Vol: 25, page 526, Sri Aurobindo Ashram Trust, Pondicherry
• Sri Aurobindo (1997). The Human Cycle, Vol: 25, page 28, Sri Aurobindo Ashram Trust, Pondicherry
• Also in Complete Works of Sri Aurobindo [CWSA], http://sabda.sriaurobindoashram.org/catalog/show.php?id=cwsa

From the IEP newsdesk: reflections on the walk to Pulau Ubin

Pulau Ubin is nothing new to me, having been there during many camps and activities organised by the school. So, when I was informed of the upcoming trip to Pulau Ubin, I wasn’t really very interested, but decided to go since I was free.

We started off with a bumboat ride to Pulau Ubin which took about 10-15 mins. After reaching Pulau Ubin, some of us (the younger ones) rented bicycles and we did some basic stretching before we set off. However, during all the times that I’ve been to Pulau Ubin, since it was during camps, I’ve never had the opportunity to cycle and so it was exciting to cycle through Pulau Ubin for the very first time.

The trails in Pulau Ubin are far from what we have here in Singapore. The roads are not even with many uphill and downhill slopes. While it is very exhilarating to cycle down the slopes albeit with some caution, it is just as tiring to push the cycle up the uphill slopes. The bicycle ride also gave us the opportunity to see Mother Nature untouched. We got to see chameleons, geckos and even huge spiders bigger than your palm.

After reaching our destination, Chek Jawa, we waited for the other group who were walking there. We also got a glimpse of Naveen’s amazing never-before-seen dancing and singing talent. Finally, after the other group came to the entrance of Chek Jawa, we set-off into Chek Jawa itself. Chek Jawa is right next to the sea and thus, when we set foot into Chek Jawa, we immediately felt the cooling sea breeze which was a welcome change from the hot and humid forest.

We went for the boardwalk route and climbed the 5 storey high viewing tower which was right at the start of the route. The view from the viewing tower was absolutely amazing. We could even see the mainland from the viewing tower. It was a breathtaking view and after taking a few memorable pictures, we climbed down and continued the walk.

After that, we saw a lot of different types of mangroves and even the nipah plant which I’m sure many of you had studied in Primary School. Even though I had heard of it before, it was the first time I’d actually seen it before me. We saw other wondrous aspects of Nature that we’d never seen before. We even got to see a small snake and tons of tiny crabs that had probably just hatched then.

After the walk around Chek Jawa, we cycled back to the jetty while the adults took the van. After reaching the jetty, we ate some well deserved food and sat around to reflect on the walk so far.

Each of us shared our views about the importance of communing with Nature by being near it and how privileged we were to still be able to experience Nature untouched by Man. Nature is truly a wondrous gift that we should try to preserve as it allows us to discover ourselves once again. When the walk finally ended, on the way back home, I couldn’t but help think how lucky I was to shed my earlier inhibitions and go for the walk.

- K. Ragavendra

Editorial

Aspiration. We re-visit this virtue, seemingly simple and attainable, illusively common place and available. However, in actuality, it may be, for most, a process demanding exactitude, utmost sincerity, as well as perfection at its highest and an unfailing will to keep aspiring despite all odds. It is too one that calls for a clarity of intent in what one wants to do with one’s life, for a shorter or a longer period of time. Yet again, for one who may have conquered his chattering mind and wild heart that gallops like an unbridled colt, aspiration may be an occasion for joy as it flowers, quite simply, in the vastness of the space discovered therein for the occupation of the One and Only or in the purity of a self-offering towards a life given to the Divine. Yet again, for those of us who may be still living with our chattering minds and wild hearts, aspiration may be about the only life-line, a future promise of a life of worth and meaning, and together with this, of course, Grace from above. It goes without saying, through these conjectures that the quality or strength and power of aspiration is directly related to the growing purity of the nature of the aspiring being and the clarity of his or her intent.

Aspiration brings to mind a movement, holding in it a deep yearning for something sublime; a seeking after that takes place in the very psychology of our being, for that for which there is no second. In aspiration too, there prevails the fragrance of a self-offering for the one thing that is worth attaining, the highest of all, simply because it is in order in the being, something quite natural.

Of Aspiration The Mother writes: “It is truly like a great purifying flame of will, and it carries in its core the thing that asks to be realized.” The Mother exemplifies the power of aspiration further, thus :

“In one’s aspiration not to make any more mistakes, one eliminates any occasion for making them. It is not a cure.”

Here is a power suggestion of a certainty, coming from The Mother. She has been known to be one with the most ardent aspirations, recorded in Prayers and Meditations, whose very utterance can create a charged atmosphere, wherever it is being read, with an open mind and offered heart.

Here is what Mother indicates of the highest aspiration and signs of its power:
“To live within, in a constant aspiration for the Divine, enables us to look at life with a smile and to remain peaceful whatever the outer circumstances may be.”

Are there any conditions for aspiration? The Mother enlightens:
“Your will is free, it is deliberately left free and you have to choose. It is you who decide whether to seek the Light or not, whether to be the servitor of the Truth or not…or whether to have an aspiration or not, it is you who choose.”She leaves the whole of its manifestation on our hands. Whether we aspire or not, it is up to us.

Perhaps there is one condition that aids aspiration – silence of the heart, a state where vital cravings and desires have died down and what remains is an aspiration for the one Highest, The Divine.

“In the silence of the heart burns the steady fire of aspiration. Keep the fire burning steadily and wait quietly for the sure result.”

Aspiration. It is an aid; it appears to be a journey too.

Integral Enrichment Programme: A call to a great adventure

There are people who love adventure. It is these I call, and I tell them this: "I invite you to the great adventure." It is not a question of repeating spiritually what others have done before us, for our adventure begins beyond that.

It is a question of a new creation, entirely new, with all the unforeseen events, the risks, the hazards it entails - a real adventure, whose goal is certain victory, but the road to which is unknown and must be traced out step by step, in the unexplored.

Something that has never been in this present universe and that will never be again in the same way. If that interests you... well, let us embark. What will happen to you tomorrow, I have no idea. One must put aside all that has been foreseen, all that has been devised, all that has been constructed and then... set off walking into the unknown. And - come what may!
The Mother


Dear Children,

We invite you to join us on this great adventure, one in which we would like to explore what The Mother has written about education through a series of intellectually and spiritually enriching activities. Here are the some themes we have proposed for this year.

Sincerity on 12th September 2010 3pm to 5pm: Sri Aurobindo Society, Singapore
You and Your body on 26th September 2010 3pm to 7pm: West Coast Park, Singapore
Aspiration on 10th October 2010 3pm to 5pm: Sri Aurobindo Society, Singapore
Harmony on 14th November 2010 3pm to 5pm: Sri Aurobindo Society, Singapore
In Harmony with Nature on 26th December 2010: Sisters Island, Singapore (To be confirmed)

We invite you to register for this year’s IEP and to take part in the activities. If you are interested, please contact us for a copy of the registration form. A fee of $10 will be charged per child for materials and logistics.

If you need further information, please contact Kiruthika (kimira1012@yahoo.fr ) at 9649 0670, ShreeValli (msvy001@hotmail.com ) at 90266795 or Jayanthy (k.jayanthy@gmail.com ) at 9652 2197.


The inside story of IEP retreat 2010

Anjali and I were at the center just before eight in the morning, planning to set up and get some quiet time before beginning the program.

Anjali and I proceeded to stack the chairs and create the space for the integral enrichment retreat. We played music and lit up the lamps and incense. Toy corners were created, with crayons, playdough, blocks and simple games for the children to retreat to, should they need some quiet time. They were used, and frequently, by various groups of children throughout the day.

We began the games at 9.30am. Icebreakers was followed by a game of kabbadi - a game which all the parents took part in. At 10.30am, we came back for reflections. A short break was followed by a two hour craft session. Breaking tradition, instead of running activities sequentially, we set up activities as stations running parallel to each other. The children could move between activities and come back and forth between them.

Several times over the day, I regretted not bringing my camera. This was one of those times. It was a sight to see heads bending seriously over a piece of work. It was even more of a sight to see them delighted over their creations. Four stations were conducted in parallel - painting, sculpture, engineering and crafts.

The object of the painting session was free exploration. The children made their own paints - with face powder and food coloring. It was a delight to watch Rooshad's face splitting into a grin of astonishment as he mixed blue color onto his yellow color and wow! The whole thing turned a bright green. Of course, then all the children wanted to mix colors to their own concoctions and before we knew it, everyone was painting with variations of mostly purples and black.

The sculpture station was meant to be one where children could mould flour to form dough. But by an unfortunate combination of circumstances, some very gloopy things were created. These gloopy things, we didn’t know what to do with, until we decide to mix food coloring to them. Four or five children were up to their elbows in gloop, which they washed up and then made paints with colorful gloop. The gloop mixture, we discovered, could be put on paper and then, when the paper is folded and flattened, makes interesting symmetrical patterns. Several patterns surfaced - butterflies, nests and in one particular case, a pattern which we could decide whether was an eagle or horse.

Aravind and Raghu were manning the station where the children explored hands-on how to make catapults. This was an activity for the older children, and they experimented on making the toy out of various recycled materials like shoe boxes, matchboxes and rubber bands. The children investigated how they could change the behavior of the catapult by playing with the length of the arm.

Meenakshi set up the fourth and final station. It was one where the children made crafts from popsicle sticks. When i peeked into the station at one time, there was a whole circle of children, sitting around a set of popsicle sticks fashioning keychains, triangles and even a small home.

After the activities, we had a short circle time, followed by lunch. After lunch, it was back to the center for drama time. The children were split into three groups according to their age, and given a story. They were also given the task of dramatizing their stories. Anjali, as the witch on the broom, making friends with a cat (Amrita), dog (Surya), bird (Sweta) and frog (Vedika), to finally overcome a dragon (Harish), was based on the book Room on the broom. The toddlers enjoyed reading the story, choosing their characters, watching their mothers make props for them, and enacting the story.

The lower primary children enacted the story of "Follow the swallow", where a blackbird (Shree) needs to pass a message to his friend the swallow (Rooshad) who was flying to Africa. "Come to the tree", is the message. The messengers are a dolphin (Priyanka), a monkey (Anu), A crocodile (Bharat) and a camel (Viji). But does the message get delivered? It was a quaint adaptation of Chinese whispers.

The older children put up a dramatization of Robert Munsch's mildly controversial "Paper Bag Princess". Pradeepta as the dragon very creatively used several props to give the feeling of burning forests. Vishnu, as the brave ill fated princess who rescued the prince (Abhi) put on an impressive, though comical performance, which had many of us giggling.

At 4pm, the children went out for games again. Vishnu rallied the older children for ball games, while the younger children played crossing the river. Anjali took her witch costume with her and in the end, the children played a little bit of what they called "follow the witch". I am not quite sure what that means, though.

We ended the session at 5pm, with a short circle time and a couple of minutes of meditation.

As the children went home, I realized that one central characteristic of the day's events were how kid-driven they were. It was heartening to see some of the alumni of IEP step forward as facilitators, lend their strengths to the day's activities and make them fun and enriching for the little children and toddlers. As such, here is a big thank you to those children who come back often to facilitate and to continue their learning.

-Kiruthika