Guiding Light of The Month

Extricate me from the illusory consciousness of my mind, from its world of fantasies; let me identify my consciousness with the Absolute Consciousness, for that art Thou. - The Mother

Remembrance


Constant remembrance of the Divine is indispensable for transformation.- The Mother

Common Name: Blue potato bush
Botanical Name: Lycianthes rantonnei
Spiritual Name: Remembrance

Editorial

Remembrance. A sweet word, it implies the remembrance of something uplifting that spreads a quiet and warm smile within giving much hope, fueling one’s aspiration. It could be the remembrance of a deed, an aim, a beautiful experience, an ideal, a person or at the highest, the remembrance of the Divine Presence in and around us. Remembrance comes, it seems, as a result of some part of our consciousness being deeply touched by something, which is anything at all, under the sky. This something most often appears to be a movement that gains entry into our inner regions resulting in a little stir towards something beautiful, in the line of progression. The title lines of this issue refer to the highest remembrance, that of the Divine, which promises a lead towards progress. The highest progress can only be a transformation of our nature, our consciousness, that Divinity itself may manifest in our earthly being. Any individual, who lives in remembrance of the Divine, or who sincerely tries to, becomes a source of inspiration, admiration, even wonder. This issue of our Newsletter hopes to celebrate the life of one such person who has been instrumental, knowingly or unknowingly, of movements that changed the lives of significant numbers of people in this small circle we call, “our Society”. The original theme for this issue was left on hold, as tribute after tribute poured in. It was really the quality of the tributes that have inspired this issue’s theme and the editorial. Each tribute seemed to strike at the same chord of remembrance – remembrance of a beautiful movement effectuated by the departed. These were sweet memories, written in gratitude and an ardent prayer for that soul to be embraced by the Divine Light. They spoke of a life lived in service to the divine, a life offered to The Mother. He demonstrated to us what surrender and submission to the Divine meant and simple trust. This issue remembers and celebrates such a spirit of devotion, the spirit of goodwill, and surrender to the higher force of all that one does and was, or at least, attempted. It celebrates one man’s sincere efforts to remember and connect all around him to the divine in all that he did and said. It celebrates the life of a man who celebrated life in the name of The Mother.

What he meant to the society, Singapore, and will always mean, cannot be dismissed lightly. It appears that his life was inextricably tied to all our lives in this little island in the South-East. He was commissioned to the East with a divine plan, it seems, now.

It is also significant that the May issue bears this special tribute. His birthday falls on the 1st of May, he would have turned 88. Strangely, 1st May 2011 falls on a Sunday, the day of the walk hosted by his family, and he had always wanted it to fall on a Sunday so that he could observe his birthday together with all the members of the society during the walk brunch. His life was one lived with a host of people from all walks of life, from all over the world, of a wide range of age groups. He was a special man who would take pains to remember each and everyone’s birthday and send birthday messages, and that too, with “blessings from the Samadhi”, whenever he was at Pondicherry. All his numberless treasures that money could not buy, he shared with us. He opened the gates for our further advent into spiritual atmospheres.

This issue is a collective tribute to the man who will always be “Our Uncle Patel”, and a celebration of his life that built bridges, countless bridges that changed lives forever.

IN LOVING MEMORY OF NANDLAL C PATEL FONDLY KNOWN AS OUR DEAREST UNCLE PATEL

Sri Nandlal C Patel, a significant presence in Sri Aurobindo Society, Singapore, left his mortal sheath on 2 April 2011 in the late morning hours, leaving behind his wife, children, grandchildren and numerous people who look upon him as their own, a father figure, grandfather, brother or simply, ‘Uncle Patel’. His was a sweet soul that came upon earth, it appears, to build bridges. Countless are the bridges he would have built. Many a story one would hear of how he connected one person to another or an organisation and changed one’s life forever. What he did, he did with utmost sincerity and an enthusiasm that never waned, that kept one wondering, ‘how does he do it?’ This was our Uncle Patel. His devotion towards The Mother and Sri Aurobindo taught many of us lessons on the power of simple adoration, devotion and obedience to a higher Being. He would go all the way to complete a task he had taken up, no matter how big or small, no matter for whom. Having done his utmost, he would retire, with full faith in the Divine’s order and a will to submit to it. Uncle Patel played a significant role in nurturing the younger members of the society. He never tired of praising each for his or her positive traits and strengths, which tended to shine even more just because of Uncle Patel’s show of confidence and his sincere words of endearment. To many of us, it has been a blessing to have grown and blossomed under the shade of a loving, towering and beneficent tree that was Uncle Patel. Our gratitude to his sweet and all-embracing soul for graciously pulling us into the Light of Sri Aurobindo and The Mother and to the Divine for enabling us to be part of a family that he was instrumental in building since the Society took shape in Singapore in the early 70s.

This month’s issue pays tribute to Sri Nandlal Patel. On behalf of the editorial, here is our ardent prayer that his soul rests in peace on the lap of the Divine Mother, preparing for a greater journey.

An obituary

We present below a reprint of the obituary read out by Sri Shashi Lal Kashyap, Chairman, Sri Aurobindo Society, Singapore during a prayer meeting at Singapore Jain Religious Society, Singapore, on Sunday 3rd April 2011 from 5.00pm to 7.00pm.

Dear Friends,

I stand before you with a deep and heavy heart full of grief and sorrow at the demise yesterday of Nandlal Patel Ji fondly addressed by us as Patel Bhai.

Our family and Patel Bhai’s family have known each other intimately for over fifty years, ever since they came to Singapore from India. Patel Bhai used to say that the very first family he came to know socially was the Kashyap family. He has been my closet friend, companion, mentor and advisor on several matters common to us. Some of you may have seen us both in East Coast Park and other recreational places spending the time together in lengthy morning walks. This went on for a period spanning over thirty five long years without a break. We went through life together and shared our joys and sorrows through thick and thin.

In the early years we were involved with the activities of the Lions Club doing social service. Then we paid attention to the Arya Samaj and Ramakrishna Mission. Since the past over twenty five years we spent more time in the Sri Aurobindo Society in which Patel Bhai was the Vice Chairman since several years. He was a fatherly figure and the main motivator of the movement. He earned the utmost respect from one and all, not only from those close to him but from the whole Gujrati and Indian community at large. His nature was benevolent and full of love and good wishes. He remembered everyone’s birthday and would send greetings by e-mail and sms. He had a thorough knowledge of the life and teachings of Sri Aurobindo and the Mother and inculcated these in his own personal life and conduct.

He used to do deep meditation daily throughout his life except the period when his personal health gave way. One month from now on 1st May, he would have completed 88 years. Patel Bhai leaves behind a wonderful legacy of how a righteous person should live in life and dedicate himself to the works of the Divine Mother. We who have known him will fondly cherish the times we have spend together.

On behalf of all of us present, I offer my deepest condolences to dear Bachuben Ji, Anjana and Kalu. Ashok and Bhakti, Samir and Jasmine, Archana and Garry, Upasana and Hari and the great grand children. We invoke the Divine to grant them strength and courage to withstand this immense loss.

May Patel Bhai’s soul rest in peace.

- Shashi Lal Kashyap

A great worker

Hare Krishna
We have lost a great supporter of our Gita Jayanti event. He was always there to give us his advice. We will miss him. “He who works for me, who loves me, whose End Supreme I am, free from attachment to all things, and with love for all creation, he in truth comes unto me.” (BG XI/55S)
- T Tanigan

Uncle Patel - “A greatness, and a sweetness and a light”

It is early April and the morning air is full of the sweet fragrance of the Neem flowers. To be with Uncle or to write about him is to breathe the fragrance of the Neem and to be intoxicated with the spiritual atmosphere that radiated from him.

O fragrant are the lanes thy children walk
And lovely is the memory of their feet
Amid the wonder-flowers of Paradise.
- ‘Savitri’

Uncle is one such fragrant “wonder-flower” which bloomed gloriously at the feet of The Mother. This quote by K. R. Srinivasa Iyengar on the psychic contact of the early sadhaks aptly describes Uncle’s life and sadhana, who was blessed abundantly by the Grace of the Mother. Whatever fruits and flowers that bloomed in his garden, due to the psychic touch of the Divine were offered “again at the feet of the Divine”. “Like a seed, the moment abstracted from the flow of time drove roots in the ready soil of the sadhak’s sensibility, and there appeared foliage and flowers and fruit which, in their turn, were to be offered again at the feet of the Divine. The chosen moments as they recurred made a rhythm of their own and the sadhana had an epic spread covering a whole lifetime.”

And in the luminous words of ‘Savitri’, Uncle’s life has been like the flower blooming at the touch of the glorious sun.

Her heart’s inexhaustible sweetness lured their hearts,
A being they loved whose bound exceeded theirs;
Her measure they could not reach but bore her touch,
Answering with the flower’s answer to the sun
They gave themselves to her and asked no more.

As The Mother said there are some who offer their soul, some their life, work, or money but there are a few who “consecrate all they have - soul, life, work, wealth; these are the true children of god”. Uncle has been one such true child of god, whose entire life has been an unceasing worship and consecration to the Divine Mother.

Uncle we will ever remember and cherish the wonderful moments when we sat and listened to the stories and incidents you used to narrate - of your thrilling encounters with The Divine Mother and Sri Aurobindo, the fragrance of your spiritual atmosphere, childlike curiosity and enthusiasm to learn new technologies, the solemn way you used to say “ I am a business man but I do business for The Mother”, your unique ability to find the inherent talent of every person which in turn would be directed godwards, your “magic flowing waters of deep love” and sweetness, and above all your love , surrender and adoration of the Divine Mother.

O Mother, all is done after Thine own Sweet will;
Thou art in truth self-willed,
Redeemer of mankind!
Thou workest Thine own work;
Man only call it theirs.
- Sri Ramakrishna

- Sudha, Surendra and family.

It is as if The Mother had appointed uncle

It is only appropriate that Sri Aurobindo Society, Singapore, decided to dedicate a full issue of the Newsletter to the memory of Uncle Patel. Managing the circulation of the newsletter was one of the innumerable activities organized to perfection by Uncle.

Uncle had the most beautiful relationship with innumerable acquaintances in India, Singapore and all over the world. Deriving his strength from The Mother, he engulfed all who came in contact with him in his wave of compassion, pure love and ever- helping hand. He strained his utmost to obtain any information or help sought by anyone, known or unknown to him, and saw to it that the wants were met to the best of his ability.

Many of us in the present generation have not had the privilege to have a direct darshan of The Mother and receive Her Blessings. It is as if The Mother had appointed Uncle to provide some consolation to such persons and let them experience the bliss of the Divine presence through their interaction with him. Such indeed is the role played by Uncle in our lives, memories of which we shall carry gratefully in our hearts.

It is not easy to contain in a few sentences the magnitude of the inspiration which the two of us received through our association with him. We met him in Singapore early in 1995 when we proceeded there in the course of our Bank service for a four-year stint. Immediately he took charge of us completely. We enjoyed the status of his close family members and were invited to all the functions at his home. He took it as his personal responsibility to take us week after week to the congregation at the Singapore Society, and also for the Sunday morning walks, in his self driven car, and drop us back. We especially longed to hear from him the numerous anecdotes on his association with The Mother. His intense love for The Mother was seen in his every action, which inspired all around him. Our being connected to Uncle helped us strengthen our adherence to The Mother’s ways without getting distracted. He did this magic not by coercion or sermons, but by setting a glorious example by virtue of his sincerely sweet qualities derived from his unshakable dedication to The Mother.

When Chitra fell sick and underwent a surgery at Singapore, he took paternal care of us by driving us to and from the hospital, bringing us food, and above all, by praying to The Mother to work through the hands of the surgeon while performing the operation.

We constantly consulted Uncle before taking any important decision. He heartily welcomed us to Pondicherry when we came to settle down here. We obtained valuable advice and guidance from him at every stage of our settling down. Uncle, with Anjana Di and Aunty who was not keeping good health, made it a point to attend the meditation session held at our new home acquired with his approval and blessing.

Undoubtedly, anyone who takes his object lesson from the life led by Uncle and adopts it in his own life is sure to find fulfillment and become worthy of The Mother’s Blessings.

The harmony of a rich culture’s tones
Refined the sense and magnified its reach
To hear the unheard and glimpse the invisible
And taught the soul to soar beyond things known,
Inspiring life to greaten and break its bounds,
Aspiring to the Immortal’s unseen world.
- ‘Savitri’

- N.Krishnamurthy and Chitra Krishnamurthy

A Bouquet for Uncle Patel

Having joined the Sri Aurobindo Society, Singapore, a few years ago, our association with Uncle Patel lasted for about five years.

The act of creating a memorial issue for one who has passed away is an act of spirituality. A memorial tells the world that this person may be gone but his or her spirit lives on. This individual will forever be tied together in the circle of life. This person’s life mattered and continues to matter. Their acts of goodness and courage will never be forgotten. We feel the same about Uncle Patel – a warm father figure for all Society members.

Khalil Gibran’s famous lines ‘On Giving’ come to mind when we think of Uncle Patel

You give but little when you give of your possessions.
It is when you give of yourself that you truly give….
These are the believers in life and the bounty of life, and their coffer is never empty.
There are those who give with joy, and that joy is their reward.

He gave us so much love and affection. Each time he met me he mentioned that since my name is the same as that of his daughter in Pondicherry, he will always remember it. The extraordinary cards he sent to us on our birthday and wedding anniversary each year with special messages from The Mother will remain forever with us as unique gifts.

- Anju and Sheel Aditya

Our dear God father

|| Hari OM ||
With deep regret and immense sorrow, I heard the terrible news a few minutes ago that Uncle Patel left us all & merged with the Supreme, this morning.

He was a tireless and energetic soul who was ever willing to learn and be on the forefront of technology and tools. He even learnt basics of such a formidable tool like Photoshop from me. He was an invaluable member of the Gita Vani team for the last many years and was constant source of inspiration and learning.

I am sure he will guide us from his heavenly abode in future Gita Jayanti activities.

Offering my humble pranams to this wise and wonderful soul,

- Krishna Kumar

To my Jeshta Brhatha
I am trying inspite of too many falls to inculcate one of his great qualities....GIVE UNFLINCHING LOVE TO EVERY ONE YOU COME ACROSS IN THIS LIFE...irrespective of one’s age . This is possible only when (I feel) you see divinity in every one.

With Love.
- J.K. Gopalratnam and Sri Lakshmi


My god-father was the embodiment of “VATSALYA BHAVA”. He was always emanating this beautiful affection for everyone all the time. There was a special way he pronounced each of our names from his heart, thereby showing the feeling of their true meaning. His appreciation towards even our small deeds made us feel like his own children. No one can replace the emptiness he left and I feel I have grown old suddenly!

I love you, dearest God-father.
- Jayalakshmi.

Indeed I am very fortunate to receive this invaluable gift from the Lord, for providing me with the joy of association with my God Father, for the past three decades. The benefit I obtained from his guidance in every field is immeasurable. By a total and unconditional surrender to the Divine Mother, he secured a state of consciousness through which he could exalt all his activities to the Divine level. This was central to the true connection he was able to make with every individual, thus bringing them Delight. He was able to appreciate what one is capable of and effectively encouraged them. Amongst many others, I am very much indebted to him for encouraging me to learn and chant Vedic hymns.

With love to my dear God Father.

- Krishnamurthy

Nandlalji – Personification of Sweetness and Love

On 2nd April 2011 we all lost our beloved friend Nandlalji- who was highly respected and widely loved. He was a personification of sweetness and love. He was like an elder brother to my late husband when we were in Singapore from 1984 to 1992. Whenever we had any problem, big or small, my husband would dial Nandlal bhai’s telephone number and the problem would be solved in a jiffy. This relationship continued even after we returned from Singapore. What is more important is that he was like this - a helpful angel to every person in distress who approached him.

We (my whole family) always marvelled at his loving, doting and fatherly approach -remembering everybody’s birthday, wedding anniversary, death anniversary of the family members and sending him or her appropriate message and prayer. He sent me a beautiful birthday message and a prayer on my late husband’s birthday on 6th March, though he was quite ill at that time. For him the whole universe was his family: “Vasudhaiv Kutumb”.

Nandlalji’s devotion to Sri Aurobindo and The Mother was undoubtedly great. Though he lived in Singapore, his soul hovered around the Samadhi. Like a true child of The Mother he spread cheer and sunshine around him. His absence will be deeply felt by everybody who knew him. But we will take comfort in the thought that this loving man- whose life was a continuous saga of ardent aspiration and surrender to Sri Aurobindo and The Mother – is now in the ever-loving arms of The Mother. His memories will inspire us to walk on the SUNLIT PATH even while performing mundane and worldly activities.

I offer my deepest condolences to all the family members - Bachchu ben (who herself is another example of sweetness, sincerity and humility), Anjana, Kaluda, Ashok, Bhakthi and their respective families.
- Meera Nadkarni
Sri Aurobindo Ashram, Pondicherry

My “God-father”!

It was decided during the brunch on 3rd April 2011 that we should dedicate one Newsletter issue or come out with a booklet in memory of our dearest Uncle Patel. Since then, for the last one week my mind has been oscillating between writing and not writing. I have been thinking whether I would be able to do justice and fit in all the associations I had with Uncle in just one article. The true answer to this question is “No”; however, I decided to write at least some unforgettable memories as my humble tribute to Uncle.

My husband, Ramesh, was working in Singapore and my son Vishnu and I were living in Pondicherry with my in-laws for sometime from 1999 – 2000. Visiting and praying at The Ashram was our daily routine at that time so I became a bit concerned whether there would be a meditation centre in Singapore when it was decided in Sept 2000 that Vishnu and I would join Ramesh to live here. The day before I left for Singapore, while I was sitting near The Samadhi of our Masters, suddenly a thought struck me to go and ask at the office in The Ashram whether there was a meditation centre in Singapore, so I quickly went and enquired; to my delight the answer was “Yes”. To add on to my joy, the office staff said that the vice-president of the Singapore centre was currently in Pondicherry and gave me the home address too. I did not hesitate to immediately go and meet the vice-president. Needless to say that it was my very first meeting with Uncle Patel but it did not seem to be one as Uncle started to speak with me with so much of love and care as though he knew me for a long time. Uncle was also travelling to Singapore the very next day and he gave me his phone to contact him in Singapore.

I started searching for a job once I came to Singapore and Uncle used to help me in as many ways as possible from offering me to use his office computer and Internet to introducing me to as many people as possible. I have to definitely say that he was happier than me when he heard that I got a job and my Employment Pass was approved. Uncle was very thoughtful to give me a beautiful photo of The Mother (which I see when I wake up every morning) on The Mother’s birth anniversary on 21st Feb 2001 when he came to know I did not have one at our home here.

Since I was working in IT, Uncle slowly started to get me involved in our Society’s monthly Newsletter work and gave the idea that Kiruthika and I form a team to start our Society’s website. It further developed that we form an email list and send out the e-Newsletter. Today our Society’s website and the e-Newsletter have reached throughout the world and we have more than 300 email Ids in our email list. There is no doubt that Uncle Patel sowed the seed for this. There was a period where Uncle and I used to talk on phone or communicate by email many times in the same day for our Society’s work and those were the days which made my bonding with Uncle stronger. When we bought an apartment in Singapore in 2005, he was so happy and named it as “Unity” and presented us a beautiful statue of Lord Ganesha.

I have always admired his enthusiasm and eagerness to learn new technologies and how aptly he used to identify specific people for doing specific tasks in our Society. It was Uncle who introduced us and made us instruments of The Mother’s work. He would always say “whatever you do, offer it to The Mother”. Though we read books, we need practical guidance for something to get etched deep in our hearts and that is what Uncle gave us. He never hesitated to give the appropriate appreciation and encouragement to everyone and never ever forgot to pray for us and convey his wishes on our Birthdays.

All of us in the Singapore Centre feel that we are a big family; this feeling was created by none other than Uncle. His love and desire to help others in every possible way would actually make us argue whom Uncle has helped the most. I am sure every one of us would say “It’s me that Uncle loved and helped the most”. This is the special feeling that Uncle gave everyone who was associated with him.

For me Uncle was, is and will always be my “God-father”!
- Dhanalakshmi

My tribute to Patel Sahib

My first recollection of Patel Sahib dates back to 1984, when I was informed by my close relative and our dear friend, Mr Shashi Lal Kashyap, of weekly talks being held at the Sri Aurobindo Society by the late Professor Mangesh V Nadkarni, whose talks, which I attended from 1984 to 1989, completely changed my life. Patel Sahib and Prof. Nadkarni were very close, and Patel Sahib shone his affectionate and benevolent nature on all who attended the talks. He would always bestow a kindly smile on me and my wife when he met us each week, and he was impressed by our bringing along our (in 1984) 5-year old son, Sanjeev, to the talks. Patel Sahib said that even if Sanjeev could not understand the talks, the positive vibrations from them would definitely influence him for the better, and in this he has been correct.

Subsequently, I learnt from Patel Sahib that in fact he knew my parents since the 1950’s, when he first arrived in Singapore. So our family connections with him are very long indeed. As with all of us, he unfailingly remembered my family members’ and my birthdays, and would send us wonderful messages, from the writings of The Mother and Sri Aurobindo, each year. I will always remember them with affection and gratitude, and remember him, and miss his messages, on future birthdays. Patel Sahib had the great good fortune of having had close personal contact with The Mother when She was in her body, and he manifested Her love and wisdom abundantly and wonderfully indeed. I recall him once telling us that, when he informed The Mother of his desire to leave for Singapore, She straightaway got up, went to the cupboard, took out a substantial sum of rupees – I believe he said it was 50,000 rupees – and gave it to him, to start his work and life in Singapore. He was an authority on the teachings of Sri Aurobindo and The Mother, although he carried his knowledge lightly. Once, when I had a philosophical conversation with him, he said, a few times, ‘Whatever your doubts and weaknesses are, just surrender them to The Mother, and let Her take care of them’ – advice that has sustained me all these years.

Patel Sahib has been a great soul indeed, with a very benevolent, sincere, loving, and at the same time non-intrusive nature. May the Divine bless his soul forever, and give his family and close ones the strength to bear his loss.
- Basant K. Kapur

A towering figure

Patel Sahib was a towering figure who endeared himself to everyone who knew him. Perhaps he was the only member of our Society in Singapore who had the privilege to have met Sri Aurobindo and The Mother physically. His faith in them was unshakable. Whatever circumstances, he accepted them as a Grace of The Divine Mother. I will always cherish his guidance, advice and assistance he gave me on several occasions. He had tremendous goodwill and love for all. He neither complained about nor criticised anyone or anything. I will miss him.

- Jagir Singh Riar

Uncle Patel and Anirudh



Memory has an annoying habit of fading as time goes by, but there are some individuals who make such an impact on you that it is impossible for fog to settle on your memories of them. Nandlal uncle was one of those few individuals. Even today I remember that he was one of the first adults who treated me as a grown – up whenever we briefly conversed, despite the juvenile topics and my na├»ve views of the world. As a child, it is very refreshing and exciting to talk to someone like this. One of the main things I learnt from Nandlal uncle is the value and importance of maintaining the bridges that one makes. For every one of the eight years since we left Singapore, Nandlal uncle has kept in constant communication and has wished me on my birthday before I even realized I had turned another year older. It is the little things like this that he did that created such a profound impact on me, and I’m sure all of us as well. This short paragraph cannot nearly convey the amount of respect I have for uncle, but uncle’s actions speak infinitesimally louder than any biblically long biography one could write. He will be missed dearly by us all, but has left behind an imprint we will never forget. May his blessings and protection rain down on us and may he forever be in our thoughts.
- Anirudh Desai

In remembrance of uncle Patel

The smile and the Happiness
Made the world around a paradise,
The appreciation made us shy and smile
The encouragement always brought us
from glum to happy,
The optimism sometimes made us smile in astonishment;
The help from whom can be expected without a shrink in smile,
The innocence and love like a baby
Towards The Mother made him a loved child of The Mother.
- Mira Ganesh

Remembered with love and affection

Our father described Uncle Patel as a living saint, which is how we all experienced him. We will miss him dearly - his emails and phone calls on special occasions always added to the special quality of the day. He was always so full of utter positivity, light and joy. His generous and loving heart has shown us all the true meaning of spirituality in everyday life. We are all so deeply saddened.

Uncle Patel's loving prayers have always meant so much. We all miss him deeply and honour him always in our memories.

He will always be remembered with much love and affection. He had the wonderful ability to make everyone feel special. He is a shining example of what we must all grow to be. We take comfort in knowing that he is now safe in the glow of Mothers' light.

- Jothie and Vaani (daughters of Late Mr. K.S. Rajah)

In Loving Tribute to a Dear Friend

Among the younger members of our Society, he was known affectionately as 'Patel Uncle' - but Nandalal Patel, was also a father - a founding father of the Sri Aurobindo Society of Singapore. If the collective membership of a group can be likened to a living body, then he was from the first its warmly beating heart. The source of this warmth that radiated from his unforgettable personality was undoubtedly his deeply sincere and unconditional devotion to the Mother. Because of this he was able to bring with him from Pondicherry something of the Ashram atmosphere, and he delighted in keeping alive the tradition inaugurated by the Mother of giving birthdays a special significance. He took note of the birthdays of friends and members of the Society (including their families), often preparing a beautiful greeting to remind us of the Mother's teaching that on this day the individual soul returns to its origin to renew its energies for the life-mission it has chosen. The old saying 'If a thing is worth doing, it is worth doing well' could have been made for him. For a time, we worked together on the Singapore Newsletter, and he took endless trouble to ensure that everything needed for a particular issue was in place. All visitors to the Society from abroad, whether friends or strangers, were given VIP treatment when it came to making travel arrangements, obtaining visas, finding accommodation and in many other ways ensuring that their stay was an enjoyable experience.

I myself experienced his generous hospitality from the first minutes of our meeting in 1976, on a memorable day that literally changed everything for me. I had gone to the Ramakrishna Mission on a Sunday evening, after reading in the local newspaper that someone from the Sri Aurobindo Ashram would be giving a talk. Three years earlier I had come across some lines from 'Savitri' and wanted to know more about this poet, of whom I knew nothing at all. Those were the days before the internet made getting such information easy! So I was delighted when Shri M.P. Pandit, who was the speaker, began by saying;: "I have come to put before you the teaching of Sri Aurobindo". He spoke about the Integral Yoga, and at the end I stood up to ask a question. As I was leaving, someone came up to me and invited me to lunch at his home the next day to meet the speaker, who was staying there as his guest. That is how I came to meet my dear friend for the first time.

Last month during a short stay in Singapore. I had the great joy to spend some time with him, and to tell him face to face of my heartfelt gratitude to him because that single act of kindness to a complete stranger had brought me to Sri Aurobindo and the Mother. I wanted him to know that on this occasion, as on many others, he had been the instrument of Their Grace.

- Sonia Dyne

Dear uncle Patel

With deep regret and immense sorrow in our heart , we heard the terrible news that our beloved Uncle Patel Ji left us all & merged with the Supreme,

He was a tireless and energetic soul who was ever willing to learn. He was so loving to every one, an invaluable member of many Societies including founder of Lions Club (Host) and was constant source of inspiration and learning. He inspired us - myself and my wife, Sandhya.

Offering our humble pranams to this wise and wonderful soul,


- C B Agarwal & Sandhya

Dadaji TamhoNe Mara Shat Shat Pranam

Lord Krishna has several names; one of the most endearing is Nand-Lal - Krishna not as the mighty transcendent Purushotham in whom everything moves, but as loving child, an image more powerful for it reflects the redeeming power of LOVE that liberates us from ignorant mortal state to domains of Light and Ananada.

The day my dear Dadaji decided to venture again into shining realms of The Mother it dawned on me that he was truly the child at heart, Her Lal.

He always told me "you and Sushama have come to Singapore with special blessings of The Mother" - those who were embraced by him will agree that he had this knack of making us all feel special and that in some extraordinary way one had to accomplish something unique no other person could do. Well, we are extraordinary beings, a fact hitherto unknown to our minds, but his liberated self had the vision to see that in us. I am convinced he did not say that lightly with any motivation, but as a simple fact evident in his loving heart.

“What will be the liberated man’s view of the world around him, his attitude towards the cosmic manifestation of which he has now the central secret? He will have first the knowledge of the unity of existence and the regarding eye of that knowledge. He will see all around him as souls and forms and powers of the one divine Being. Henceforward that vision will be the starting-point of all the inward and outward operations of his consciousness; it will be the fundamental seeing, the spiritual basis of all his actions. He will see all things and every creature living, moving and acting in the One, contained in the divine and eternal Existence.”

This vision was sure and integral part of his consciousness and he delighted in passing the flame of this aspiration to us all. He worked tirelessly to bring the spiritual fragrance of Pondicherry Ashram to Singapore, spreading the love and vision of oneness and glorious future towards which the cosmos is unfolding. It was this love that brought him to Singapore again for a final goodbye.

During the magical era of my association with Singapore group, I recall on special occasions Dadaji invited Sharafat Khan-ji to play Sitar at Mother's feet. Well Dadaji was no less a musician, he was a master at playing on our heart strings while creating his own Divine Orchestra (our small group) at Her feet. Any discordant note used to bother him a lot and he worked hard to correct the imperfect notes. Sometimes the circumstances proved stronger but he worked tirelessly to create the wonderful melody that drove our aspiration.

I hold that real Faith cannot be given in church or temple, through repeated prayers or sermons. Faith is a potential in all living things that requires a spark to be discovered, nurtured and established firmly in the mortal frame. Only a blessed few can achieve a Faith so strong that can withstand turbulence of living in this complex materialistic world. Dadaji was instrumental in me experiencing that Love and Faith. Our communion continued even after I left Singapore. As we exchanged notes mundane and profound he was genuinely interested in all that happened in our lives.

When it was time for Dadaji to depart it seemed arranged that I happen to travel to Singapore on business. As I met him a week before his final farewell my heart experienced that same magic of the early days in Singapore. Through the physical challenges he was facing this time, his sharpness was still evident as he enquired about Sushama and the kids. I read him Sri Aurobindo's poem "The Lost Boat" - trying to draw him into conversation and explain my understanding of the lines, but he chose to remain silent. In this final meeting I recognize his parting message - why use words when our hearts are ONE - lets commune in silence for that is the only perfect way to truly "understand" and “know” each other.

Our true homage to Dadaji would be to imbibe his wonderful quality in our lives - lets make every person around us feel 'special', for The Divine is shaping that special quality in each individual personality, something unique that will manifest – it was for hastening that new creation that Dadaji worked tirelessly - lets all do the same.

- Hiren

Blossoming of Nature




Abundant and strong, nothing can stop its growth.
- The Mother

Common Name: Scots heather
Botanical Name: Calluna vulgaris
Spiritual Name: Blossoming of Nature


“At these blessed hours all earth sings a hymn of gladness, the grasses shudder with pleasure, the air is vibrant with light, the trees lift towards heaven their most ardent prayer, the chant of the birds becomes a canticle, the waves of the sea billow with love, the smile of children tell of the infinite and the souls of men appear in their eyes.”

- The Mother, 'Prayers and Meditations' 31st March, 1917.

Editorial

We sense an inextricable association with nature at times, if not always. In low moments or moments of stress, we perceive a calming effect of nature on us. During moments of elevation, our contact with nature is translated into creative productions such as poetry, music, art, dance, just to name a few. History is rife with such creations born out of an intense communion with nature. Nature too has shown us another face of hers. We cringe before her face of so called violence and insurmountable energy. What is this Nature? Here are a few definitions: The material world and its phenomena; the forces and processes that produce and control all the phenomena of the material world; the world of living things and the outdoors; and a primitive set of existence, untouched and uninfluenced by civilisation or artificiality. There is an implication in the last definition of nature being quite separate from man. The Vedic tradition views man as an integral part of nature, as in nature consisting of two parts, namely the organisms of individuals and their environment. Nature is also known as Prakriti and means ‘that which gives shapes’ or ‘pure energy’ as opposed to Purusha the ‘creative consciousness’. Purusha uses the power of Prakriti for its unfolding in life. In this issue of our newsletter, we celebrate nature. April 22nd marks Earth Day, a day to think of the glories of the earth and lament over past and continuing ills inflicted upon her and make a collective resolution to do our part to preserve the earth which sustains our existence. This “doing-our-part” is a tricky issue. What is our part? Our part in doing what? What is the current situation of the earth to warrant this from us? Do we exactly know? Due to his indiscriminate practices bordering, at the final analysis, on greed, self-interest, disrespect for beauty, harmony and the natural rhythm and balance in nature, man has drawn towards himself the threat to his very existence. Increased carbon dioxide emission across the globe alone spells doom, as temperatures rise and as a result, ice-caps melt at a faster rate. In the long run, this means a rise in the sea level in some parts of the world, giving rise to the threat of submergence of land masses and in some other parts of the world, the threat of drought, as rivers run dry. Globally, signs of these are already on the rise and hence, the alarm. Earth Day brings to one’s attention these issues. It celebrates the individuals who have single-mindedly crusaded for the well-being of the earth in their own ways, in various nooks and corners of the earth – many there are who are not even known and march on in their endeavours driven by an inner conviction that the earth needs healing. Earth Day is also promising, as children around the world are given a golden opportunity to connect with the earth and make pledges of goodwill towards her. It is hoped that these children will bear that respect for the earth with them always, actualized in their day to day practices as they trod upon this very earth towards the future. For on these practices will depend the outcome of the living conditions that earth would hold for all of life in years to come. In this issue, we are given a glimpse of nature spiritualised through the eyes of The Mother, through the descriptions of this psychic relationship that she had with nature. Nature is a part of our own selves and we, an integral part of Nature. Herein lies the spiritual element ascribed to nature. The newsletter also reminisces over a past calamity to hit a country that The Mother has described with wonder and love.

Savitri

At first to her beneath the sapphire heavens
The sylvan solitude was a gorgeous dream,
An altar of the summer’s splendour and fire,
A sky-topped flower-hung palace of the gods
And all its scenes a smile on rapture’s lips
And all its voices bards of happiness.
There was a chanting in the casual wind,
There was a glory in the least sunbeam;
Night was a chrysoprase on velvet cloth,
A nestling darkness or a moonlit deep;
Day was a purple pageant and a hymn,
A wave of the laughter of light from morn to eve.

(Savitri, Book 7, Canto 1)

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

Life ran or hid in her delightful rooms;
Behind all brooded Nature’s grandiose calm.
Primeval peace was there and in its bosom
Held undisturbed the strife of bird and beast.
Man, the deep-browed artificer, had not come
To lay his hand on happy inconscient things,
Thought was not there nor the measurer, strong-eyed toil,
Life had not learned to discord with its aim.
The mighty Mother lay outstretched at ease.

(Savitri, Book 5, Canto 1)

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

For Nature walks upon her mighty way
Unheeding when she breaks a soul, a life;
Leaving her slain behind she travels on:

(Savitri, Book 1, Canto 1)

Question of the month

Q: Is Nature Blind and Violent?

A: The Mother: But it is not at all that! It is man in his relative proportion with Nature who judges like that. Wait a little, let us take this example. When there is a earthquake, many islands are engulfed and millions of people killed. People say: “This Nature is monstrous.” From the human point of view this Nature is monstrous. What has it done? It has wrought a cataclysm. But just think how in jumping or running or doing something or other, you get a good knock and turn black and blue. It is the same thing for our cells as an earthquake; you destroy a huge number of cells! It is a question of proportion. For us, our little consciousness, ever so little, this appears something formidable but after all it is quite simply a confusion somewhere upon earth (not even in the universe). We are speaking only of the earth. What is it? Nothing at all, just a universe, then the disappearance of the worlds- these are just confusions. It is nothing.

(All India Magazine, March 2001, ‘Catastrophes and Accidents, Sri Aurobindo Society, Pondicherry.)

Q: What is the best way of opening ourselves to the profound influence of flower?

A: The Mother: To love them. If you can enter into psychic contact with them, that is perfect. Blessings.

(‘Growing up with The Mother’ by Tara Jauhar)

Gardens, flowers and trees


At Srinagar we went to see the gardens. We had strolled round two of them and were proceeding towards a third one, Shahi Chashma. On the way two tourists were talking among themselves.

“What beautiful gardens!”

“Yes “

“Old gardens. Who built them? The British?”

“No, the Moghul kings.”


“Ah, that’s it. Can we see any built by our Government?”

There was a silence of sadness.

They were two individuals from a distant part of the country; they were not rich, they were not scholars, they were just two ordinary citizens. What they spoke was a thing of common knowledge, but the sad silence at the end was eloquent.

What is the record of our national government during the past almost four decades of its existence in this direction? How many new gardens and parks have been built by it? How many have been destroyed or allowed to languish? We have no statistics about it. But are statistics needed?
To speak of environment and ecology and denudation of forests and the need of reforestation is currently in vogue today. Important as it is, that is not what came to my mind when I heard the two persons. It was in the heart that I was touched. The Moghul kings built those gardens not out of environmental reasonings, but out of their love for them. The gardens were built in those days by kings and nobles and aristocrats and later by local assemblies. For their pomp and splendour? Maybe, but the public had free access to them, and indisputably there was love in the heart for flowers and trees and flowing water that prompted the creation of these places of beauty in harmony with Nature.

There was love in the heart, there was an aristocracy of feeling and imagination that could perceive and enjoy the aristocracy of Nature that could be in tune with the manifestation and message of Nature.

It is the feeling of the absence today of this consciousness and of the need of awakening of this consciousness, of the psychic love for Nature’s beauty that got aroused in the silence.

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

For with a greater nature, she was one

An invisible Sunlight ran within her veins And flooded her brain with heavenly brilliances That woke a wider sight than earth could know All objects were to her shapes of living selves Each was a symbol power, a vivid flash In the circuit of infinities half known; Nothing was alien or inanimate, Nothing without its meaning or its call For with a greater Nature she was one. The Mother had a deep love for Nature and a oneness with the entire creation, as described above by the luminous lines of Savitri. She saw the Divine’s Energy and power pulsating in Nature and saw behind the trees intense aspiration towards the light, behind the flowers spontaneous expression of its beauty and behind the love of the animal for its young ones was the Presence, beauty and love of the Divine manifested radiantly. The Force in her and her “spirit’s large and free delight” were like a magnet attracting the animal, tree, flower to commune and connect with her in a very intimate way. Oftener in dumb Nature’s stir and peace A nearness she could feel serenely one; The Force in her drew earth’s subhuman broods; And to her spirit’s large and free delight She joined the ardent-hued magnificent lives Of animal and bird and flower and tree. They answered to her with the simple heart. From a young age, The Mother had the special gift of communing with Nature. During her solitary walks in the woods at Fontainebleau, she would sit silently under ancient trees communing with them, feeling their peace and force invade her being. As she would record later in Japan in this Prayer of April 7, 1917: “What difference is there between the human body and the body of a tree? In truth, there is none: the consciousness which animates them is identically the same.” The Mother spent four years in Japan from 1916-1920. The picturesque landscape and beauty of Japan made a deep impression on her soul. Below are the prayers written on April 1st and April 7th of 1917, in early spring when the entire landscape exploded with the beauty of cherry blossoms: “…. they range from white to… rather vivid pink… there are entire mountains covered with cherry trees, and on the little rivulets bridges have been built which too are all red: you see these bridges of red lacquer among all the pink flowers and, below, a great river flowing and a mountain which seems to scale the sky…. “ - ‘Collected Works of The Mother, Vol. 4’ The cherry blossom festival in Japan is a timeless festival, celebrated even today by the Japanese. The awesome beauty of the blossoms stirred her soul to great depths. The two prayers written in April 1917, are a precious record of the Mother’s intense feeling for Japan, and her sacred communion with the cherry trees and blossom. With her body at rest and soul blossoming in light she writes of the beauty of the “fairy landscapes; trees at festival and lonely paths that seem to scale the sky” “O Japan, it is thy festive adorning, expression of thy goodwill, it is thy purest offering, the pledge of thy fidelity; it is thy way of saying that thou dost mirror the sky.” The Following prayer of April 7, 1917, records Mothers deep identification with a single cherry blossom. She has a mystical experience wherein a deep concentration seizes on her and in that sacred moment she identifies with a single cherry-blossom, and through it with all cherry blossoms and as she descends deeper in the consciousness of the tree, she describes herself descending into a “stream of bluish force” and becomes the tree itself. “A deep concentration seized on me, and I perceived that I was identifying myself with a single-cherry-blossom, then through it with all cherry-blossoms, and, as I descended deeper in the consciousness, following a stream of bluish force, I became suddenly the cherry-tree itself, stretching towards the sky like so many arms its innumerable branches laden with the sacrifice of flowers.” Thus hast thou made thyself one with the soul of the cherry-trees and so thou canst take note that it is the Divine who makes the offering of this flower –prayer to heaven.” K.R. Srinivasa Iyengar notes in his biography, ‘On The Mother’ ….. “This readiness to identify herself with a cherry-blossom, or a cherry tree, the sharing of the pulse-beats and the mingling in its flowing sap, all this is but symptomatic of Mirra’s expansion of consiousness defying all change, exceeding all limits, careering up to the Silence, and returning at will too from it- for Consciousness is a ladder! On 28th April, Mirra has a vision of the divine Master again, and she receives gifts of Grace from the Eternal Mother: Lo! Here are flowers and benedictions! Here is the smile of the divine Love! It is without preference and without repulsions. It streams out towards all in a generous flow and never takes back its marvelous gifts! And thus, in Mirra’s vision, the Eternal Mother, “her arms outstretched in a gesture of ecstasy… pours upon the world the unceasing dew of Her purest love.” In its amazing culture, natural beauty and the hanami (flower-viewing) festival in Spring and in everything from beginning to end the Mother found “the impression of impermanence, of the unexpected, the exceptional “. The recent earthquake-tsunami when the earth shook furiously and the sea rose in fury leaving in its aftermath great destruction, gives the feeling of this impermanence and the unexpected. However, the Japanese have been exceptional in their reaction to this great disaster, as this Haiku of Masahide (a beloved disciple of the legendary poet Matsuo Basho) says My storehouse burnt down, There is nothing to obstruct The moon-view. - Sudha

Naturopia

Water in the river ripples with a supple hum;
Fish jig in and out with joy
The blue sky emblazoned with aurora
The birds on the tree chirp in rhythm;
The trees on the bank sway like ballet
The peaks stand still in serenity,
This is the magic of nature;
We sit back and enjoy this without a glum;
Let’s embrace and love nature like a chum
- Mira Ganesh

Walking in Light

In this issue of our newsletter, we examine some of the other causes of fat accumulation in the body and how weight gain and loss is to a great extent, in our hands, in our life-style.
There are a few other causes of weight gain besides over-consumption of calories-rich food coupled with a sedentary life-style. Hormonal imbalance in the body has been often cited as a possible cause of weight gain. Conditions such as hypothyroidism, Cushing’s syndrome and polycystic overy syndrome are some examples of conditions resulting from hormonal imbalance. In the case of hypothyroidism, the thyroid glands fail to produce sufficient levels of thyroxin, resulting in a lowered metabolic rate. A low metabolic rate results in less expenditure of energy, and hence a slowed rate at which fats are burnt, leading to an increased rate of accumulation of fats. In the case of Cushing’s syndrome, the body tissues are subject to a prolonged exposure to the hormone cortisol. This results in fat accumulations in the upper part of the body, while the hands and legs thin over a period. Polycystic ovary syndrome refers to the presence of increased levels of the male hormone, androgen in the female, characterised also by missed menstrual cycles and occasionally, with multiple cysts in the ovaries.
The consumption of certain types of drugs also contribute to weight gain. These drugs belong to groups such as steroids and anti-depressants. Medications for psychiatric disorders and seizures also contribute towards weight gain, according to some studies. The drugs affect bodily functions by either slowing down the rate of metabolism and hence the rate at which calories are burnt or stimulate appetite or cause increased water retention in the body, all of which contribute to weight gain.

Lack of sleep as well as hereditary factors have also been related with weight gain.

While some of these factors that contribute to weight gain may be more difficult for an individual to control, such as hereditary factors, very often weight gain can be attributed to life-style practices. Life-style is something we form for ourselves over time. The element of choice is there and hence, control and therefore, hope. Here are some questions that could get us to think about our calories gain and expenditure:
• Do I opt out of cooking my own food, preferring to eat out often?
• Do I consume large meals and high-fat foods?
• Do I put taste and convenience above healthy food?
• Do I involve myself in sufficient physical activities?
• Do I opt to drive than walk to places?
• Do I consume soft-drinks often?
• Do I snack often on high-fat food?
• Do I consume high quantities of alcohol?
The effort of losing weight or maintaining one’s weight at a healthy level is one that requires, as in all other endeavour, a clearly defined goal or aim along that line, a constant aspiration to reach one’s goal and lots of discipline in following a healthy regime towards a healthy Body Mass Index. A healthy BMI contributes to a healthy body that can fulfil wonders in the plane of physical existence. - Jayanthy