Guiding Light of The Month

All is light, all is love, ignorance and egoism are but vain phantoms, they can be dissolved. And over all things spreads Thy sovereign peace, Thy fecund calmness. - The Mother

Creative Word

Belongs only to the Divine.
- The Mother

Common Name: Shasta daisy
Botanical Name: Leucanthemum X superbum
Spiritual Name: Creative Word

From the editor's desk

A symbol is that which is representative. It is derived from the Greek word, “symbolon”, which means, “throw together” or “coincide”, ‘sign’ or mark’. A symbol is therefore an object, an item, a person, an image, a picture, an event, a sign or even sound that represents an idea, something more than its literal meaning.

In the human civilization, symbols have been used variously since time immemorial to convey sets of meanings to different groups of people for different reasons or purposes. The appearance of a symbol before us puts us in close relationship with an idea that that symbol represents. A thought on Mathematical symbols may help to explain this. The symbol of the Christian Cross brings to us an idea of the suffering of God on the cross for the sake of man. In the Indian tradition, the lotus is regarded as a symbol of purity, divinity, knowledge and enlightenment. Then we have the currency symbol we come across each time we engage in monetary transactions. The “+” symbol represents the Red Cross, which essentially represents the ideal humanitarian goodwill to mankind in terms of rendering aids for physical well-being and health. Similarly national ideals are captured in the national flag with symbols. For example a rising crescent may represent progress, and a wheel or the Dharma Chakra represent dynamic progress. Such symbols on the flag tend to represent the soul quality of a country. Colours are also symbolic, as in white representing purity.

Since symbols are representative, it goes without saying that they encapsulate in them an idea and cut down on the necessity for verbose descriptions or explanations. They render an economy of words while offering an experience of the idea encapsulated therein. Art and literature are rife with symbols, and poetry is no exception. In fact, symbols feature as an important device in poetry for evoking complex ideas without resorting to much use of words. This in itself lends a cryptic beauty to poetry and enhances its quality.

In poetry, one can make out perhaps two main types of symbols – symbols that are typical to that culture that the poem evolved from, such as a lion, symbolizing strength and energy, dove, for peace or symbols can be one that the poet himself creates from the context of the poem. Very often, the reader is left to his own devices to interpret the symbol and make out the idea represented. This in itself gives poetry a flexibility, a certain malleability that does not confine or constrict, but flows like a river. The state of being of the reader co-mingles with the consciousness of the writer and meaning is made.

Let’s now dwell a while on what Sri Aurobindo has to say about symbols in poetry, beyond what is commonly understood as symbols in poetry. According to Sri Aurobindo, a symbol is “a living Truth or inward vision or experience of things, so inward, so subtle, so little belonging to the domain of intellectual abstraction, and precision...” Sri Aurobindo, by putting down these terms, calls upon the poet into higher realms of his being, above the mere intellectual. In high poetry, the symbol is representative of an experience deep, “inward”, “subtle”. These terms in themselves point to realms beyond the mere mental, or intellectual. There is a suggestion of poetry emerging out of psychic play, as well as from regions above the higher mind. Poetry becomes an act of the spirit and naturally, symbols would have to be of that texture and flavour, since arising out of that higher or deeper experience.

Savitri

Intuitive knowledge leaping into speech,
Hearing the subtle voice that clothes the heavens,
Carrying the splendour that has lit the suns,
They sang Infinity’s names and deathless powers
In metres that reflect the moving worlds,
Sight’s sound-waves breaking from the soul’s great deeps.

Invested with a rhythm of higher spheres
The word was used as a hieratic means
For the release of the imprisoned spirit
Into communion with its comrade gods.
Or it helped to beat out new expressive forms
Of that which labours in the heart of life,
Some immemorial Soul in men and things,
Seeker of the Unknown and the Unborn
Carrying the light from the Ineffable
To rend the veil of the last mysteries.

(Savitri, Book 4, Canto 2)

Question of the month

Q: What is the symbol behind the legend of Savitri ?

A: Sri Aurobindo: Satyavan is the soul carrying the divine truth of the being within itself but descended into the grip of death and ignorance; Savitri is the Divine Word, daughter of the Sun, goddess of the supreme Truth who comes down and is born to save. Still it is not a mere allegory, the characters are not personified qualities, but incarnations of emanations of living and conscious Forces with whom we can enter into concrete touch and they take human bodies in order to help man and show him the way from his mortal state to a divine consciousness and immortal life.
.


“Savitri alone is sufficient to make you climb to the highest peaks. If truly one knows how to meditate on Savitri, one will receive all the help one needs. For him who wishes to follow this path, it is a concrete help as though the Lord himself were taking you by the hand and leading you to the destined goal. And then, every question, however personal it may be, has its answer here, every difficulty finds its solution herein; indeed there is everything that is necessary for doing the Yoga.”

On symbols in poetry

Like many other lovers of Sri Aurobindo's poetry, I too have been 'under the influence' of his symbol-rich poetry over the years. Only recently, however, I came across a book by A.B.Purani1 on Sāvitrī, which in its introductory chapter, threw light on what a 'symbol' represents. These wonderful passages made me want to try and learn what else the Master may have said on this subject; hence this short note.

Before we turn to what symbols represent, it could be worthwhile to breathe a few lines of poetry that are rich in the use of symbols

“It lit the thoughts that glow through the centuries” 2
“..An eye awake in the voiceless heights of trance” 3
“Lulled by Time’s beats eternity sleeps in us” 4
“The Adorer and Adored self-lost and one“5
“A blazing eye of Time watching the motionless day” 6

- A description of the Sun, in whose sight and to which, the ‘day’ is eternal. To have written this line, the poet would perhaps have experienced being the Sun – it is not a symbol that can ordinarily leap to an abstracting or even brilliantly imaginative mind.

On to the passage itself from Purani-ji's book :
“All language is symbolic“7


In poetry, symbols come naturally as very effective means for expressing the poet’s experience, besides being economical. According to C.Day Lewis, the special faculty of the poet is the “power of creating images”. These “images” that a poet creates are a kind of sign-language which forces itself on him under the stress of the creative impulse or in the moments of intensity of his creative faculty. The “image” created by the poet is effective and therefore authentic in proportion as it conveys the experience or the state of consciousness, without diminution or distortion. When the image is authentic it is a symbol, that is to say, it does not merely represent the experience but conveys the experience and is the most effective expression of it in language. Sri Aurobindo calls this “the finding of the inevitable word” and “inspired phrase“.
“Vision is the characteristic power of the poet, as is discriminative thought the essential gift of the philosopher and analytic observation the natural gift of the scientist”.


It is the faculty of vision, the power of seeing the truth of one’s experience or even some supra-intellectual Truth embodied as a symbol that gives the poet his special expressive power. It is true that a poet can create, or rather construct with the help of his imagination, an intellectual symbol which conveys his import to other people by a figure of symbol which represents rather than is the experience. Kalidas can use the “Cloud” as a “messenger” and Shelley convey the poet’s Truth through the “Skylark”.


With regard to the function of the symbol in expression Sri Aurobindo says in another letter:
” A symbol expresses not the play of abstract things or ideas put into imaged form but a living Truth or inward vision or experience of things, so inward, so subtle, so little belonging to the domain of intellectual abstraction, and precision that it cannot be brought out except through symbolic images – the more these images have a living truth of their own which corresponds intimately to the living truth they symbolise, the greater becomes the art of the symbolic expression.”


In his letters on poetry8, Sri Aurobindo also clarified how a poetic rendering of a symbolic vision could be different from a mystic poem; that a poem could be symbolic and mystic at the same time, but this was not a given:


"It is when the thing seen is spiritually lived and has an independent vivid reality of its own which exceeds any conceptual significance it may have on the surface that it is mystic.


..In the more deeply symbolist — still more in the mystic-poem the mind is submerged in the vividness of the reality and any mental explanation falls far short of what is felt and lived in the deeper vital or psychic response."


"A symbol must always convey a sense of reality to the feeling (not the intellect)"
"Mystic symbols are living things, not abstractions"


A disciple wrote to him, saying "If I try to understand the thing every bit seems ridiculous."
To which Sri Aurobindo replied:


"Because you are trying to find a mental meaning and your mind
is not familiar with the images, symbols, experiences that are peculiar to this realm. Each realm of experience has its own figures, its own language, its own vision and the physical mind not catching the link finds it all absurd."

Suggested follow-up on this subject:
There is a wonderful page or two at the end of the introductory chapter of Purani-ji’s book where he brings out the parallels between the symbolism in the Rig Veda and Savitri. A short excerpt is presented below, should this invite you to look up the original.

Sāvitrī is symbolic and the poetic genius of Sri Aurobindo has been saturated not only with English, Greek and Latin poetry but it has dived deep into the earliest poetry of humanity, the Rig Veda. How the Veda is living poetry and how Sri Aurobindo makes it live again in his translations of the hymns of the Veda is well known to those who have seen his epoch-making researches in the realm of Vedic interpretation embodied in his published book, ‘Hymns to the Mystic Fire’, and the still unpublished work, ‘The Secret of the Veda’. His thesis is that the Rig Veda is symbolic poetry embodying the spiritual wisdom of the early mystics. He himself has been a mystic all along his life and because of his affinity with the spirit of mystic expression it is natural that in Sāvitrī there are passages and lines which echo in their proper setting some of the poetic forms of the Vedic symbolists.
References
1 A.B.Purani, “Sri Aurobindo’s Savitri – An Approach and a Study”, pg 10. 1st pub 1952; ISBN :81-7058-683-6
2,3,4,5 from Sāvitrī
6 "In horis Eternum", Sri Aurobindo
7 Lasceiles Abercrombie
8 Letters on Poetry and Art, Sri Aurobindo
- Uday Arya
(Uday has been a lover of Sri Aurobindo's poetry since he can remember. He currently lives and works in Paris, and writes periodically at aryaputr.wordpress.com)

The Secret of the Veda’ – A First Attempt

Commentaries or Bhāṣhyās on the ‘Vedās’ (contd.)
Swāmi Dayānanda Saraswati - (1824 – 1883):



He was an important Hindu religious scholar, reformer and the founder of the Ārya Samāj, ‘Society of Nobles’, a Hindu reform movement, founded in 1875. Denouncing ritualistic worship prevalent in Hinduism at that time, he worked towards reviving Vedic ideologies.
Swāmi Dayānanda interpreted and affirmed that the Veda is a book of knowledge. He put forth a monotheistic religious view and held that some of the modern scientific truths could be derived from a right and true understanding of the Vedās.
Sri Aurobindo on Swāmi Dayānanda:
“The third Indian contribution is older in date, but nearer to my present purpose. It is the remarkable attempt by Swāmi Dayānanda, the founder of the ‘Ārya Samāj’, to re-establish the Veda as a living religious Scripture. Dayananda took as his basis a free use of the old Indian philology which he found in the ‘Nirukta’. Himself a great Sanskrit scholar, he handled his materials with remarkable power and independence. Especially creative was his use of that peculiar feature of the old Sanskrit tongue which is best expressed by a phrase of Sāyaṇā’s – the “multi-significance of roots”. We shall see that the right following of this clue is of capital importance for understanding the peculiar method of the Vedic Riṣhis.
Dayānandā’s interpretation of the hymns is governed by the idea that the Vedās are a plenary revelation of religious, ethical and scientific truth. Its religious teaching is monotheistic and the Vedic gods are different descriptive names of the one Deity; they are at the same time indications of His powers as we see them working in Nature and by a true understanding of the sense of the Vedās we could arrive at all the scientific truths which have been discovered by modern research.”
Such a theory is, obviously, difficult to establish. The Rig Veda itself, indeed, asserts that the gods are only different names and expressions of one universal Being who in His own reality transcends the universe; but from the language of the hymns we are compelled to perceive in the gods not only different names, but also different forms, powers and personalities of the one Dēva. The monotheism of the Veda includes in itself also the monistic, pantheistic and even polytheistic views of the cosmos and is by no means the trenchant and simple creed of modern Theism. It is only by a violent struggle with the text that we can force on it a less complex aspect.
That the ancient races were far more advanced in the physical sciences than is as yet recognised, may also be admitted. The Egyptians and Chaldeans, we now know, had discovered much that has since been rediscovered by modern Science and much also that has not been rediscovered. The ancient Indians were, at least, no mean astronomers and were always skillful physicians; nor do Hindu medicine and chemistry seem to be of a foreign origin. It is possible that in other branches also of physical knowledge they were advanced even in early times. But the absolute completeness of scientific revelation asserted by Swami Dayānanda will take a great deal of proving”.

Sri Aurobindo – (1872 – 1950):



One amongst the many significant contributions of Sri Aurobindo was his setting forth an esoteric meaning of the Vedās. The Vedās were considered by some to be composed by a barbaric culture worshiping violent Gods. Sri Aurobindo was convinced that this was due to non-grasping of Vedic symbolism, both by Occidental and Oriental scholars. He strongly believed there was a hidden spiritual meaning in the Vedās. He viewed the Rig Veda as a spiritual text written in a symbolic language in which the outer meaning was concerned with ritualistic sacrifices to the gods, and the inner meaning, which was revealed only to initiates, was concerned with an inner spiritual knowledge and practice, the aim of which was to unite in consciousness with the Divine.
Eminent among the learned and occupied with severe austerities, the revered Sri Aurobindo, came upon a new path quite unexpectedly. He explains in clear terms how he came upon the Veda (‘The Secret of the Veda’, Chapter 4, Page 34).

“Like the majority of educated Indians I had passively accepted without examination, before myself reading the Veda, the conclusions of European Scholarship both as to the religious and as to the historical and ethnical sense of the ancient hymns. In consequence, following again the ordinary line taken by modernised Hindu opinion, I regarded the Upanishads as the most ancient source of Indian thought and religion, the true Veda, the first book of Knowledge. The Rig Veda in the modern translations which were all I knew of this profound Scripture, represented for me an important document of our national history, but seemed of small value or importance for the history of thought or for a living spiritual experience.

My first contact with Vedic thought came indirectly while pursuing certain lines of self-development in the way of Indian Yoga, which, without by knowing it, were spontaneously converging towards the ancient and now unfrequented paths followed by forefathers. At this time there began to arise in my mind an arrangement of symbolic names attached to certain psychological experiences which had begun to regularise themselves; and among them there came the figures of three female energies, Ila, Saraswati, Sarama, representing severally three out of the four faculties of the intuitive reason,- revelation, inspiration and intuition. Two of these two names were not well known to me as names of Vedic Goddesses, but were connected rather with the current Hindu religion or with old Puranic legend, Saraswati, goddess of learning and Ila, mother of the lunar dynasty. But Sarama was familiar enough. I was unable, however, to establish any connection between the figure that rose in my mind and the Vedic hound of heaven, who was associated in my memory with the Argive Helen and represented only an image of the physical Dawn entering in its pursuit of the vanished herds of Light into the cave of the Powers of darkness. When once the clue is found, the clue of the physical Light imaging the subjective, it is easy to see that the hound of heaven may be the intuition entering into the dark caverns of the subconscious mind t prepare the delivery and out-flashing of the bright illuminations of knowledge which have there been imprisoned. But the clue was wanting and I was obliged to suppose an identity of name without any identity of the symbol.”

Thus, the secret that lay hidden in the Veda stood revealed to him though his mind was never given to the search of the meanings of the mantrās. All these happened when he was absorbed in Yoga with his eyes turned within. Since then, he came to have an abiding interest in the inquiry into the meaning of the Vedās. Having found the secret of the Veda, the great Sage spoke out truths, even though impenetrable, regarding the Riks, the Riṣhis and the Gods for the enlightenment of the enquiring minds, in accordance with his vision.

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)

IEP – The Trip to Sisters Island



We had a great trip to Sisters Island, thanks to Shree for coordinating and organizing the trip and activities. About 30 people, adults and children took part in the trip and all of them enjoyed the trip, from the boat trip to the island to the games, waterplay, wildlife observation and exploration.

IEP sessions always revolve around a theme, and the theme of the day was perseverance. After the trip, some facilitators commented that perhaps the children didn’t quite get the concept of perseverance. However, the theme of perseverance was underlying several events that occurred throughout the day. The kabbadi and Number-Off games were of course introduced to encourage interaction and persevere in the face of a difficult task. Other than them also, there was a lot of perseverance, along with other qualities coming in during the water play and worm digging that went on in the island. Children who were initially afraid to climb the rocks or to go into the water eventually got over their fear and walked into the ocean. By the end of the day, most of the children were very comfortable with having millipedes crawling over them, or having little crabs on their hands. I also noticed a lot of perseverance in the jet-lagged Pradeepta who gritted herself through the trip to give her support in the event though she had just returned from Barcelona the evening before.

As a facilitator, I also learnt an important lesson on being a role model. During the drawing session, a child was referring to my drawing and making her own. The adults in the group encouraged her to draw on her own and not copy. Though I didn’t think much of it then, I remembered the event later. Children learn all the time by copying and imitating. Which is why we need to set such high standards for ourselves. If she sees me doing shoddy work, she would do shoddy work herself. Which brings me to the fact that due to lack of time, I completed my drawing rather shoddily, which of course the child picked up on, asking "Your drawing is very nice, but why have you scribbled the colours??"

Mother once said that children are merciless when they see adults displaying the weaknesses that we so often tell children not to display. As facilitators, we have to be doubly aware of the dangers of doing so.

Sri Aurobindo Society, Singapore, participates in the Singapore Book Fair

Our Society participated in the Singapore Book Fair 2011 from 27 May to 5 June at the Suntec Singapore International Convention & Exhibition Centre.

Our members contributed a sum of $3020.00 for the rental of the bookstall and purchase of books from the Sri Aurobindo Book Distribution Agency (SABDA). Eighteen volunteers came forward to man the stall during the 10-day event. Besides the sale of books, we worked to create greater awareness of the Society. People who had shown interest were invited to join us at our meetings and talks.

This project has provided us with an opportunity to work in harmony, making an offering to the Divine as The Mother once said, “Remember and Offer”.

Poetic Ecstacy


Rare and charming is your presence.

- The Mother

Common Name: Chinese wisteria
Botanical Name: Wisteria sinensis
Spiritual Name: Poetic Ecstasy


Poems in largeness cast like moving worlds
And metres surging with the ocean’s voice
Translated by grandeurs locked in Nature’s heart
But thrown now into a crowded glory of speech
The beauty and sublimity of her forms,
The passion of her moments and her moods
Lifting the human word near to the God’s.
-
- Sri Aurobindo in ‘Savitri’

From the editor's desk

Poetry is one of the two literary forms of language, the other being prose. In poetry, the unit is a line making up stanzas while in prose, it is a sentence, fully grammatical, generally abiding by logic, with a linear narrative structure, building up the paragraphs. These generally lack an aesthetic appeal, while poetry has the potential of bringing out the beautiful and sublime without being painfully bound to logical or narrative thought processes. Unlike classical poetry, prose lacks a definite rhythmic pattern. Here is a first attempt at capturing what poetry has been accepted to mean. Next we shall have a glimpse of some poets’ ideas on poetry before taking strides towards another view of poetry by a great Poet-Seer.

The Oxford Online Dictionary defines ‘poem’ to be “a piece of writing in which the expression of feelings and ideas is given intensity by particular attention to diction’, its origin being the French poème or Latin poema, from the Greek poēma. The Greek root for poetry is ‘poiesis’, which means ‘a making: a forming or creating of a poem’. Poetry is a literary art form, the creation manifested in the skillful and aesthically pleasing stringing of words such that it has an evocative quality. Certain devices are employed in poetry towards this end, such as assonance, alliteration and rhythm, rendering the poem a sound, musical feel, conveying a certain mood, setting the tone, while ambiguity, symbolism and irony, are devices that leave poetry to various interpretations according to how these are understood by the reader/reciter. Other common devices include metaphor and simile, which serve to introduce relationships previously unperceived.

Consider these views of poets on poetry

'I have never started a poem yet whose end I knew. Writing a poem is discovering’ – Robert Frost

'Poetry fettered fetters the human race.' – William Blake
'If I feel physically as if the top of my head were taken off, I know that is poetry.' – Emily Dickinson

'Publishing a volume of verse is like dropping a rose-petal down the Grand Canyon and waiting for the echo.' – Don Marquis

'Poets are the hierophants of an unapprehended inspiration; the mirrors of the gigantic shadows which futurity casts upon the present; the words which express what they understand not; the trumpets which sing to battle, and feel not what they inspire; the influence which is moved not, but moves. Poets are the unacknowledged legislators of the world.' – P B Shelley

'The poet's mind is in fact a receptacle for seizing and storing up numberless feelings, phrases, images, which remain there until all the particles which can unite to form a new compound are present together.' – T S Eliot


What are views of a Poet-Seer? Sri Aurobindo lays down high and exacting qualities of a poet and poetry. “Vision is the characteristic power of the poet….The poet really creates out of himself and not out of what he sees outwardly: that outward seeing only serves to excite the inner vision to its work.” He describes art as that which “must attempt to make us see, and since it is the inner senses that it has to address itself...and since its object is to make us live within ourselves what the poet has embodied in his verse, it is an inner sight which he opens to us, and this inner sight must have been intense in him before he can awaken it in us.” Poetry, then, is spiritual, in its means and end, at its highest.


Sri Aurobindo adds a word of caution to all would-be Yogi-poets: “crave for the stimulus of an audience, social applause, satisfied vanity, appreciation, fame…must go absolutely...your art must be a service not of your own ego, nor of anyone or anything else, but solely of the Divine.”
Let us take a little dip in the pool of high poetry.

Savitri

Oft inspiration with her lightning feet,
A sudden messenger from the all-seeing tops,
Traversed the soundless corridors of his mind
Bringing her rhythmic sense of hidden things.

(Savitri, Book 1, Canto 3)

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

The odes that shape the universal thought,
The lines that tear the veil from Deity’s face,
The rhythms that bring the sounds of wisdom’s sea.

(Savitri, Book 11, Canto 1)

Question of the month

Q: Nirodbaran: Need one aspire even for writing poetry ?

A: Sri Aurobindo: Aspiration is an essential part of the sadhana.


Q: Nirodbaran : If one waits calmly, does not the Grace descend by itself without our asking ?

A: Sri Aurobindo : Not unless one is in a state of Grace – in a psychic condition.


Q: Nirodbaran : If a person asks and doesn’t get it, he is likely to get disappointed ?

A: Sri Aurobindo: If he asks with the vital, yes. Your mind is too active in these matters. Get your mind silent, learn to feel within, to aspire from within- then things will come more easily.


Q: Nirodbaran: Please give me one direct and decisive rule to follow.

A: Sri Aurobindo: Aspire for the opening to the right place of inspiration.


Q: Nirodbaran: Why should joy be a necessary precondition for writing poetry ?
A: Sri Aurobindo: Art is a thing of beauty and beauty and Ananda are closely connected, they go together. If the Ananda is there, then the beauty comes more clearly- if not, it has to struggle out painfully and slowly. That is quite natural.

Q: Nirodbaran: For some time past the inspiration has stopped.

A: Sri Aurobindo: You must remember that you are not a “born” poet- you are trying to bring out something from the Unmanifest inside you. You can’t demand that should be an easy job. It may come out suddenly and without apparent reason like the Ananda- but you can’t demand it.


(Nirodbaran, ‘Correspondence with Sri Aurobindo’, Sri Aurobindo Ashram Trust 1969, Printed in Sri Aurobindo Ashram Press, Pondicherry)


Q: Do the masses appreciate poetry ?

A: Sri Aurobindo: I think I told you the story of a Spaniard, a commercial man, who was my brother Mano Mohan’s friend. Whenever he came to his room he saw books of Milton lying on the table. He cried out:

“What is this Milton, Milton? Can you eat Milton? “

(‘Reminiscences and Anecdotes of Sri Aurobindo’, compiled by M.P. Pandit, Dipti Publications, Sri Aurobindo Ashram, Pondicherry)

Sri Aurobindo on the spiritual value of poetry


The Word has power- even the ordinary written word has a power. If it is an inspired word it has still more power. What kind of power or power for what depends on the nature of the inspiration and the theme and the part of the being it touches. If it is the Word itself, - as in certain utterances of the great Scriptures, Veda, Upanishads, Gita, it may well have a power to awaken a spiritual uplifting impulse, even certain kinds of realization. To say that it cannot contradicts spiritual experience.

The Vedic poets regarded their poetry as Mantras, they were the vehicles of their own realizations and could become vehicles of realization for others. Naturally, these mostly would be illuminations, not the settled and permanent realisation that is the goal of Yoga- but they could be steps on the way or at least lights on the way. I have had in former times many illuminations, even initial realizations while meditating on verses of the Upanishads or the Gita. Anything that carries the Word, the Light in it, spoken or written, can light this fire within, open a sky, as it were, bring the effective vision of which the Word is the body.

(Sri Aurobindo, ‘Sri Aurobindo on Himself and On The Mother’, Sri Aurobindo Ashram, Pondicherry 1953)

On Poetry

Have you ever been asked "hmm... but what is a poem? What is poetry? " ? I ask because I have been asked, and have been quite tongue-tied. The experiment is repeatable; I'd likely mumble, employ a few umms and errs, stare into space and eventually give up. Nothing from my own (little) experience seems to aid in defining this joyous creative endeavour.
I think the impulse to ask, to want to define is natural, especially if one has been affected by a word, a phrase, or an entire poem in a manner not quite comparable even to the most lucid prose. There is a common force at work, I am told, because
“The Word has power- even the ordinary written word has a power. If it is an inspired word it has still more power. What kind of power or power for what depends on the nature of the inspiration and the theme and the part of the being it touches. If it is the Word itself, - as in certain utterances of the great Scriptures -Veda, Upanishads, Gita, - it may well have a power to awaken a spiritual impulse, an uplifting, even certain kinds of realisation. To say that it cannot contradicts spiritual experience. The Vedic poets regarded their poetry as mantras, they were the vehicles of their own realisations and could become vehicles of realisation for others. Naturally, these mostly would be illuminations, not the settled and permanent realisation that is the goal of Yoga—but they could be steps on the way or at least lights on the way. Many have such illuminations, even initial realisations while meditating on verses of the Upanishads or the Gita. Anything that carries the Word, the Light in it, spoken or written, can light this fire within, open a sky, as it were, bring the effective vision of which the Word is the body.”
But maybe the definition is not relevant? Or if it is, perhaps it's good only for academics to conjure up and debate? One part of me asks if definitions are useful at all when the verse was perhaps never intended to be logicized by our abstracting minds or speculative imaginations? The sharply utilitarian bent of modern life asks if poetry serves up anything 'useful' to life, if it is fit for anything more than an occasional delight or smile amidst the otherwise 'productive' enterprise of life. In fact, in the essay "The Essence of Poetry", S.A wrote 1
“To the ordinary mind, judging poetry without really entering into it, it looks as if it were nothing more than an aesthetic pleasure of the imagination, the intellect and the ear, a sort of elevated pastime.”
But there is a power in the poetic word that inspires - and therefore affects us, not only eliciting in us an occasional moment of delight, but going so far as to ready the soil for the ideals of a nation, a race, an age. Along these lines, S.A wrote 2 :
“Let the truly inspiring word be uttered and it will breathe life into dry bones. Let the inspiring life be lived and it will produce workers by thousands. England draws her inspiration from the names of Shakespeare and Milton, Mill and Bacon, Nelson and Wellington. They did not visit the sickroom, they did not do philanthropic work in the parishes, they did not work spinning jennies in Manchester, they did not produce cutlery in Sheffield, but theirs are the names which have made nationhood possible in England.”
In fact, we may even ask: why are the civilization-defining epics poems and not essays? Or still further, why is it that the ancient Indian Scriptures are poetic utterances, and not prose? Why is that despite the umpteen incredible works of ancient Greece, it is the Iliad and Odyssey - both poems, that are the life-blood of the nation? Is there a special place reserved for poetic speech as a form of expression? On this, Sri Aurobindo wrote:
“…. the rhythmic word of the poet [is] the highest form of speech available to man for the expression whether of his self-vision or of his world-vision. It is noticeable that even the deepest experience, the pure spiritual which enters into things that can never be wholly expressed, still, when it does try to express them and not merely to explain them intellectually, tends instinctively to use, often the rhythmic forms, almost always the manner of speech characteristic of poetry.”

Is 'Kavi' just a different word for 'Poet'?

What is this talk about inner sight ?
I've heard the word 'Kavi' being translated simply as 'poet', but what the word could have meant in a bygone era, what connotations it may have carried.. I had no way to know, or have a chance to understand - until now:
“The Kavi 3 was in the idea of the ancients the seer and revealer of truth, and though we have wandered far enough from that ideal to demand from him only the pleasure of the ear and the amusement of the aesthetic faculty, still all great poetry instinctively preserves something of that higher turn of its own aim and significance. Poetry, in fact, being Art, must attempt to make us see, and since it is to the inner senses that it has to address itself,—for the ear is its only physical gate of entry and even there its real appeal is to an inner hearing,—and since its object is to make us live within ourselves what the poet has embodied in his verse, it is an inner sight which he opens in us, and this inner sight must have been intense in him before he can awaken it in us.
Therefore the greatest poets have been always those who have had a large and powerful interpretative and intuitive vision of Nature and life and man and whose poetry has arisen out of that in a supreme revelatory utterance of it. Homer, Shakespeare, Dante, Valmiki, Kalidasa, however much they may differ in everything else, are at one in having this as the fundamental character of their greatness.”

Life has certainly been breathed into my dry bones;
I tend to oxidize best via iambic pentameter...
Below: two revealing excerpts on Rhythm and Technique.
How important is 'technique' in Poetry?
Moreover, technique, however indispensable, occupies a smaller field perhaps in poetry than in any other art,—first, because its instrument, the rhythmic word, is fuller of subtle and immaterial elements; then because, the most complex, flexible, variously suggestive of all the instruments of the artistic creator, it has more—almost infinite—possibilities in many directions than any other...
Poetry rather determines its own form; the form is not imposed on it by any law mechanical or external to it. The poet least of all artists needs to create with his eye fixed anxiously on the technique of his art. He has to possess it, no doubt; but in the heat of creation the intellectual sense of it becomes a subordinate action or even a mere undertone in his mind, and in his best moments he is permitted, in a way, to forget it altogether.
On Rhythm
RHYTHM is the premier necessity of poetical expression because it is the sound-movement which carries on its wave the thought-movement in the word; and it is the musical sound-image which most helps to fill in, to extend, subtilise and deepen the thought impression or the emotional or vital impression and to carry the sense beyond itself into an expression of the intellectually inexpressible,—always the peculiar power of music. This truth was better understood on the whole or at least more consistently felt by the ancients than by the modern mind and ear, perhaps because they were more in the habit of singing, chanting or intoning their poetry while we are content to read ours, a habit which brings out the intellectual and emotional element, but unduly depresses the rhythmic value.
References
1 The Future Poetry, Sri Aurobindo ISBN 978-81-7058-583-1 (written between 1917-1920)
2 Work and Ideal, Bande Mataram, Sri Aurobindo ISBN 978-81-7058-416-2 (written 20th Feb 1908)
3 The Sanskrit word for poet. In classical Sanskrit it is applied to any maker of verse or even of prose, but in the Vedic it meant the poet-seer who saw the Truth and found in it a subtle truth-hearing the inspired word of his vision.
- Uday Arya
(Uday has been a lover of Sri Aurobindo's poetry since he can remember. He currently lives and works in Paris, and writes periodically at aryaputr.wordpress.com)

A tribute to uncle Patel

When I was 17, in 1997, I visited the Centre for the second time. There was a talk on happiness. Unlike some of the other talks in the Centre, this one was an interactive one, and the audience present was active in discussing. I had been interested for a year or so prior to this visit, on the works of The Mother, having been introduced to them by a friend of the family. With little knowledge and a lot of opinions, I jumped right into the conversation, encouraged in it by an elderly man who sat in the front row and who also had a number of inputs to give to the conversation.

This elderly gentleman, I came to know later, was Patel Uncle. Through the course of fourteen years, I was to have a multitude of interactions with him. Of these, a few pop up prominently when I think of him.

Studying for A levels left me exhausted, with a terrible frustration with Physics and the question of why I had to study the subject. Being inspired by the works of The Mother, I looked at her books for answers to help me out from what I then thought was the stressful student life. Of course, I attended the Sunday talks at the Centre, often dragging along my rather sceptical father, who accompanied me most of the time for the sole reason that I should not walk back in the dark to the bus station.

On one of these occasions, there was the ‘Savitri by Heart’ talk, which, at that time, was given by Mrs Sonia Dyne. At the end of one talk, I approached Uncle and told him that I wanted to read ‘Savitri’ but was afraid that I wouldn't understand. He literally stuffed the huge volume in my hand and made me promise to read one sentence every evening. For a long period, I followed his advice, reading one line every day and signing my name at the end of the full-stop.

It was Uncle who suggested that I stay at Anjana Aunty’s house when I mentioned wanting to go to the ashram during the after exam holidays. Anjana Aunty welcomed us gracefully and hosted, not only me, but also my aunt Chitra and her aunt, both of whom would become regular visitors to the ashram and to Patel Uncle's house.

But the true highlight of my relationship with Uncle Patel (though it is hard to single out one incident or event as a true highlight – let’s just say that this is the one that I remember most fondly), was in the year 2000. My aunt Chitra, myself, Sandhya and Patel Uncle took a walk along the beach of Pondicherry, where he spoke with us and told us about his relationship with The Mother, peppering his story with several personal anecdotes. I only remember snatches of the conversation, but I shall always remember sitting on the low wall on Uncle's left, listening to him while the waves crashed on our back.

I remember when Uncle came back to Singapore in the fall of 2000 after being close to a year in India. I remember jumping for joy and hugging my mother when I heard Uncle's voice over the telephone. When we began the website in 2001, Uncle was the first person that I sent the prototype to. He gave me a silver pendant with The Mother's symbol on one side and Sri Aurobindo's symbol on the other. The pendent still resides on a chain around my neck.

As the years went by, Patel Uncle was an advisor, not only to me, but also to the rest of my family. My father often turned to Uncle for advice during times when he had to make difficult decisions and he would always respect Uncle's advice. My uncles and aunts visited Patel Uncle's house when they went to the ashram. The doors to his home were always open, his smile always in place, his telephone at the ready if we wanted to contact someone in the ashram or Auroville.

"This is my grand daughter.” he would say proudly, when he introduced me to people. And infact my grandmother got more than a little mad at me when I told her that Patel Uncle was more my grandfather than my own grandfather.

The last couple of years, I had not contacted Uncle very often other than the odd email and the phone call during birthdays and anniversaries. Two days before Uncle's passing, I was biking home, listening to Dr Nadkarni's memorial lecture on my mp3 player. Perhaps it was through association with Dr Nadkarni or Mrs Dyne's voice giving the lecture that Uncle's image came to me, straight and sharp. When I got home however, the lure of housework and children blotted the image.

Later, I would think and reproach myself several times for not calling and speaking with Uncle when the thought of him came. And it was this reproach and regret that nagged me as I wept by the body of the man who had adopted an unsure teenager as his granddaughter and entrusted her with the secret of ‘Savitri’.

Patel Uncle touched lives the way no one else has. It seems to me that if I grow up to being a fraction of what he was, I would make a significant change in myself and in the world.

- Kiruthika

A tribute to uncle Patel

‘They who have looked on me shall grieve no more’
–Sri Aurobindo in ‘Savitri’

When I first saw Uncle’s body after he had passed on, I was overcome with sorrow. Then I prayed to the Mother to help me understand what has happened and to react from truth rather than falsehood. I knew the Mother has said that it is selfish to cling on to the departed soul and hence it was wrong to be steeped in sorrow and even harmful to the departed soul. I also remembered she had said the body is a protection and when we leave our body, we lose the protection and thus it is important to send love to the soul as a protection. When I recalled these words of the Mother, what I felt was peace and love rather than sorrow and I could thus send Uncle peace and love. Interestingly, what I subsequently perceived was Uncle didn’t even need that peace and love; rather he seemed to be sending us peace and love from his new home too!

So, as I write this, I recall his great life on earth and the equally great passing on. My parents, my brother, my husband and I are recipients of his love and generosity, like all of us at the centre. My parents were always touched by how he frequently enquired, “How is my dear Vignesh?” even when he was himself not keeping well. In fact, a few days before he passed on, they were telling me how touched they were by his love and concern for Vignesh. We have much to learn from Uncle’s life. The most sincere tribute is to let his spirit and qualities live on: we need to love one another as Uncle loved us.

Love is the hoop of the gods
Hearts to combine.
Iron is broken, the sword
Sleeps in the grave of its lord;
Love is divine. Love is the hoop of the gods
Hearts to combine.
….
When Love desires Love,
Then Love is born.
- Sri Aurobindo in his play ‘Eric’

- Ramya, Ram, Suryanarayanan, Lalitha & Vignesh

My dear uncle Patel

Patel Uncle is a name with whom everybody in the Society is familiar. His enthusiasm at the age of 86 shocked me and my friends several times. Most likely it is the start of the new world that the Mother and Sri Aurobindo have discussed in great length. Apart from everlasting enthusiasm there was a lot I could learn from him - love and devotion towards the works of the Mother, Sri Aurobindo and the ashram, continuous care of everybody linked with the Society and help he could deliver with the resources best available to him.

It is truly sad to know about the demise of Patel Uncle. It is a great loss to all of us. He was a constant source of inspiration for all of us in the Society at Singapore in many ways. He was always encouraging with his esteemed presence on all occasions, whether it be the annual cleaning of the Centre, weekly programs or any guest lecture. He graced all of us by his constant smile and enthusiasm.

When I had visited him in Pondicherry in January 2010, just after my marriage, he took us to his home, where we met Aunty. The moments spent with him are still fresh in my memory and inspires me on many occasions.

We pray for the spiritual progress of his soul and peace to all family members as they aspire towards the lotus feet of Sri Aurobindo and the Mother.
- Rahul Shukla

Fond memories of a great person: Patel uncle

What kept pulling me to the Sri Aurobindo Society, Singapore was of course, the Mother’s Love and Grace; and the Mother has been showering Her Love and Grace through her chosen instrument, who is none other than Sri Patel Uncle.

Every time I met him, I always felt happy and energetic, because there was always an unmistakable aura of love, affection, and positive energy around him. He always brought people together, and kept them together. Like a mother who binds her children with her love and keeps them close to the family, Patel Uncle always brought so many of us together and kept us inspired.

Any knowledge can be of use only when it is put into practice in day-to-day living. Patel Uncle was a shining example of how spiritual knowledge can be put into practice. His thinking was always positive, and he always did his best to get things done for the Society in his unique loving way, inspiring people to come forward to do things happily. Where did he get this charm from? Such a charm can only emanate from the purity of one’s heart, the purity gained from surrendering at the Mother’s Holy Feet.

Patel Uncle always saw the good in each and every person. It takes a lot of unconditional love and large-heartedness to go out of the way all the time to find the good in the other person. This is not easy at all! Only Patel Uncle could do it!

When my daughter, Lakshmi, was once very sick, I spoke to Patel Uncle about her condition. Immediately he spoke to his daughter Anjanaji in Pondicherry and asked her to offer special prayers for Lakshmi’s speedy recovery at the Mother’s altar. She did so promptly and sent the Mother’s blessings to Lakshmi. Such an affectionate gesture from Patel Uncle is unforgettable. A spiritual person is a loving person. Patel Uncle was always a shining example of such a person.

Patel Uncle also served the Mother with sincere devotion by taking tireless initiative to bring eminent speakers from the Pondicherry Ashram to the Singapore Centre. This was a real treat to all the devotees in Singapore.

Patel Uncle was very young at heart. He was always interested in learning something new, and wanted to keep pace with the growing technology. For example, he learnt Photoshop on the computer and put his skills to good use. He always remembered to send beautiful birthday greetings to all of us using Photoshop. Recently, probably because he could not spend as much time on the computer due to his failing health, I was very surprised to get his blessings and best wishes on my birthday through SMS! I immediately thanked him saying that I was truly touched by his love, and said that he was indeed my father in Singapore.

The success of a human life can be measured by how much fragrance a person has spread in this world, a fragrance that can only be spread by unconditional love and sincere affection, and of course, selfless service in the Names of Guru and God. If this is the measure of success, then definitely Patel Uncle has been one of the most successful of his times.

When a loved one has left his body, we miss him a lot. Nevertheless, we need to look at the whole phenomenon from the departed soul’s angle. He was born here to live, to do, to learn, to serve, and when the body has no more use for the soul, it is left. The body is tired, and the ever-fresh soul needs to march forward. When duties are done, the body becomes an unnecessary baggage, and so is discarded.

In spite of thinking like this, my mind is numb with pain and longing; pain, because living in this world, we always want to hold on to the gross forms, and longing, because, our mind always craves for love and affection someone can give us, in spite of our shortcomings.

Patel Uncle has left a beautiful mark in our memories. He has taught us to always remain positive, always drawing energy from the Light of the Divine.

I met him last during Mother’s Birthday Celebrations on 21st Feb 2011 at the Sri Aurobindo Society, Singapore. His health was visibly deteriorating. Since I always considered him to be like my own father, I went close to him, and whispered to him with conviction: ‘You are the Mother’s child. She is taking care of you’. And She is indeed.
- Padmini Chandrashekar

You will see me

‘How They Came to Sri Aurobindo and The Mother’ is a compilation by Shyam Kumari of incidents, events, serendipities, yearnings and higher callings that brought various disciples to the path of Sri Aurobindo and The Mother. A certain ‘G’, referred to in the article, ‘You Will See Me….’ (reproduced below) was one such devotee. It was with an almost child-like humility that he always said his only identity was that as a child of The Mother.

It is with poignancy, and also with fond remembrance, that we inform readers that the ‘G’ referred to in this article is the Late Shri Nandlal Patel, fondly called Uncle Patel, by so many of us. Uncle Patel left his mortal sheath on the 2nd of April, 2011. The May 2011 issue of our Newsletter was dedicated to his memory and further tributes have been included in this issue as well.

‘You Will See Me…’ rounds off this series of tributes to the memory of a man whose love, warmth, humility and affection have touched so many of us in so many different ways.

Saints and sages say, "Blessed are they who are born in India, for they are spiritually awake." G inherited this inborn gift of a soul turned towards the Divine. He was born in 1923, into a family of devout Vaishnavas, followers of Vallabhacharya. From his childhood, G went regularly to Haveli — as Vaishnava temples are called in Gujarat — and avidly listened to tales of great devotees, such as Dhruva and Prahlad. Near and around his home, there lived many craftsmen who, in the evenings, gathered for collective singing of hymns — keertans. As a child, G participated eagerly in these devotional sessions and was deeply moved by them. Thus the ground became fertile.

In 1940, he met the great saint, Ma Anandamayi, and was attracted and fascinated by her. She would not stay in the home of a householder but remained in the courtyard. This left a deep impression on G. At the same time he started reading Sri Ramakrishna.

In 1943, while he was still in college, G married. His wealthy father-in-law was an evolved soul. Many saints came to him and scores of people turned God-ward under his influence. Two children were born to the happy couple.

The year of destiny arrived. In 1950, his firm, which had its headquarters in Japan, asked G to open a retail branch in Pondicherry. He set off to go there. He knew very little about the Ashram. Since he was from Gujarat somebody gave him a letter of introduction to a well-known Gujarati Ashramite. Very significantly, he reached Pondicherry on his birthday — 1st May 1950. He did not know the special significance birthdays have in the Ashram, but at 4 p.m. he found a Prosperity queue in the Ashram and joined it. Thus without knowing anything about the Mother he had his first Darshan on his birthday. He now considers it his rebirth.

On arriving in Pondicherry, he had gone straight to Hotel Bon Accueil. There he met a Muslim devotee of Sri Aurobindo and the Mother who had come from Madagascar. This gentleman became the link between G and the Ashram. G began going to the early morning Balcony Darshan fairly regularly. He felt that his being went there empty but came away replenished. He says, "The Mother's smile came straight and sank into me." G had many experiences during those early morning Darshans. One day he said to the man from Madagascar, "If I had a bicycle I would not miss a single Balcony Darshan." He found it a little inconvenient to walk all the way from the South Boulevard where his hotel was situated to the Ashram before 6 a.m. The gentleman replied, "Do not make the lack of a bicycle an excuse for not attending the Balcony Darshan." These words stirred G deeply and thereafter he never missed the Balcony Darshan. Incidentally the three children of the owner of this hotel grew very close to the Ashram through G.

He began to read the books of the Mother and felt he could understand everything. He had the good fortune of having Sri Aurobindo's Darshan in August and November 1950. He considered Sri Aurobindo a limitless Himalaya, incarnating grandeur and aristocracy, a vastness, a being without end who was un-fathomable, whom nobody could contain. When Sri Aurobindo left his body, he had twice the Darshan of the Lord lying in state. Then he felt as if he had gathered and received something from Sri Aurobindo into himself.

At the end of December 1950 G's wife and children joined him. This was a turning point in his career. For now, to introduce his family to the Ashram and to admit his children into the Sri Aurobindo International Centre of Education, he came into closer contact with the Mother. The children were first accepted to the Playground. When G asked the Mother for their admission to the Centre of Education the Mother said, "Contact S who will teach them French." They started going to S for French lessons.

G's six-year-old daughter wanted to go swimming. When G conveyed her request to the Mother, she remarked, "Let her come and talk with me." G caught the meaning behind the remark and said to his daughter, "Go to the Mother and ask her yourself." "But, father, how can I talk with the Mother, when. I don't know English or French?" the child protested. G replied, "Then wait till you can." The upshot was that one day the little girl went to the Mother and said in Gujarati that she wanted to go swimming. The Mother asked Champaklal, "What is she saying?" Champaklal translated what she said. The girl got permission and then G's four-year-old son also wanted to go swimming. G had to ask the Mother on his behalf for the child was too young to ask for himself. In due course the children were admitted to the Centre of Education.

Strangely, on the first of every month, G's son came down with a high fever. Naturally the parents were worried. G went and reported the matter to the Mother. She said, "Go to Nripendra and he'll give you some medicine." But after a pause she remarked very gently, "He gets a fever so quickly, but it also disappears very quickly." G realised that what the Mother said was true and he did not feel anxious anymore; miraculously, after this conversation, the fever did not recur.

Slowly they grew closer to the Mother. G's family had the feeling of being accepted by the Mother. The Mother used to give blessings on Vijaya Dashami day. On that auspicious day G stood in front of the Mother and felt her human body change into luminous white clouds. It was such a delightful experience that thereafter on every Vijaya Dashami day G hoped for the experience to repeat itself, but it never did.

Whenever there arose some real necessity G used to pray for an interview with the Mother. Such an occasion arose with his problem of smoking. G used to smoke many cigarettes daily. Whenever he went to the Mother he ate a handful of cardamoms to cover the smell of tobacco. G's wife pleaded with him to give up smoking. She used to scold him, "You are hiding your habit of smoking from the Mother." Her constant rebukes made him lay the problem before the Mother. On 14th November 1952, he bared his heart to the Mother by simply saying, "Mother, I smoke." The Mother gently enquired, "Do you smoke cigars or cigarettes?" "Mother, I smoke cigarettes." The Mother said softly, "It is not good for your will-power." G prayed, "Mother, please give me the strength to give up smoking." The Mother looked at him and smiled.

When G went home he said to his wife, "You have been asking me to tell the Mother about my smoking. Today I told her and now I am free to smoke." He had a few cigarettes left in the tin, which he smoked. His wife said, "You went to the Mother and confessed to her and even then you are smoking. Are you not ashamed?" G felt that his wife was correct. Thereafter, though more than three decades have passed he has not smoked. Even when his friends who smoke pleaded with him to smoke just one cigarette, he did not deviate. He felt as if the Mother was telling him inwardly, "If you give way once, you will never conquer it." By the Mother's Grace he did not have to struggle severely to overcome the habit.

Birthdays in the Ashram were eagerly awaited. Once on his birthday, G joyously prepared to go for the Mother's Darshan. He had got a velvety bedspread to offer to the Mother and he was also taking a special imported perfume Je Reviens by Worth. At the last moment, his little daughter also insisted on taking some offering to the Mother. In his business, G used to receive many tiny sample phials of perfume. The little girl filled her hands with those small bottles and happily they went to the Mother.

The Mother received G graciously, showered her love and blessings on him and asked which books he would like to have. G replied, "Mother, I have not yet read the books you gave me last time." After receiving his birthday card and bouquet G felt that inwardly the Mother had given him what he needed. She turned to his daughter to give the child her full attention. She asked, "What have you brought?" The child opened her hands. "Oooh!" with a voice full of joyous wonder the Mother said, "You have brought Worth perfume! Do you know the history of their manufacturer?" She caressed the girl and her brother. G was overcome by the sweetness of it all. His mind was observing that his velvety bedspread and big bottle of perfume did not get such appreciation from the Mother as that handful of sample phials. The Mother went on to tell the children the whole story of the firm that manufactured the perfume. She opened all these small capsules of perfume that very day. Later she must have mentioned how much she liked that perfume, because that same day Dyuman went to the market and bought all the available bottles of this particular perfume.

A few years passed. G realised keenly the privilege of living in the Ashram atmosphere. But the Gods rule otherwise. In 1954, G's partners asked him to wind up the Pondicherry branch of the company and proceed to Hong Kong.

He had begun consulting the Mother whenever he had to take any important decision. So one evening he went to her in the Playground to get her blessings for his departure to Hong Kong. After seeking her consent and blessings he mentioned that he had two faithful and efficient employees and requested the Mother to absorb them in some Ashram department where they would prove valuable. The Mother nodded consent. Then G requested that, since much stock was still left in the shop, these two employees might be allowed to look after it from time to time. The Mother agreed. Then she went into a trance. After a while, coming out of her trance, she said, "Suppose we sell your goods?" G felt a surge of emotion. The Mother again went within and on coming out of the trance said, "How about our buying your goods?" G became speechless at this divine turn of events; a great silence entered him, a wonder at the marvellous thing that was happening. He became still like a statue. With an avalanche of tears flowing from his eyes he stretched out his hands in consent.

The Mother then added, "Since you are a junior partner in your firm, ask your seniors about it." G was so moved that he simply shook his head to show that it would not be necessary and whatever the Mother decided was acceptable. The Mother then said to G, "Dyuman will contact you in the matter."

G was deeply moved by her Grace. He had to go, but his wife and children were to remain sheltered in the arms of the Divine Mother. Before he left for Hong Kong the Mother called G one day to Pavitra's room. There she gave him a wallet with money in brand new notes, a blessings-packet and a lovely rose. That was the most thrilling and precious moment of G's life. For he saw the Mother as the Avatar, the Rajrajeshwari (the World-Empress) in her form of Universal Divinity with a luminous concentration of calmness. He has the wallet and the dried rose to this day. They are his most prized possessions.

In 1956, G returned to India from Hong Kong intending to place his children in an Ashram hostel and take his wife with him to Singapore. Now it so happened that a renowned saint, Ranchordas-ji, had been doing tapasya for two years in a secluded room in G's father-in-law's spacious garden. He had undergone great austerities. In February 1956, his tapasya was to end and an impressive closing ceremony was to take place at G's father-in- law's house. G reached Bombay but was in a quandary whether he should proceed to Pondicherry or to his father-in-law's home-town. Dyuman, with whom he had very friendly ties, had asked him to come to the Ashram, probably for the 21st February Darshan. By chance G met a saint, Swami Ramdas, and put the problem before him. The Swami advised him to go to Pondicherry. G followed his advice and thus had the good fortune to be in the Playground on 29th February 1956 at the evening meditation when the Mother brought the Suprarmental Light, Consciousness and Force into the subtle-physical layer of the earth.

Soon G left for Singapore, his new base of operations. He would not have the Mother's physical Darshan again. But his children lived in the Ashram and his daughter has made the Ashram her permanent home. There was a constant inner and outer contact with the Ashram. All the people connected with the Ashram who visit Singapore invariably become his guests. His body lives abroad but his soul has always remained in Pondicherry. He considers it an inestimable honour to be counted as one of the Mother's children and to serve the Mother in whatever way it is possible from a distance.

After seventeen years, he came to Pondicherry on 11th November 1973. He had come for the marriage of his son which was to be held on the 18th, in Bombay. On 13th November he left for Bombay followed by his daughter and son-in-law, both Ashramites, and some close friends. On the morning of the 18th they heard the news that the Mother had left her body. Some devotees had chartered a plane to go to Pondicherry and G's daughter and two others were lucky enough to get a place on this flight. But G could not come as he had to see the marriage through. Next day he tried to get a place on any available flight but there was a strike in the airlines. Ultimately, when he with his wife and son reached Pondicherry the gates of the Ashram were closed for the solemn Samadhi of the Mother.

G broke down and wept like a baby. He remonstrated with the Mother, "You have disappointed me. I did not see you for almost seventeen years yet you did not have the kindness to even let me have the Darshan of your body." The Mother reassured him from within, "You will see me in several ways and more often."

This came true but the pain and hurt of not having had the last physical Darshan lingered for years until one day G narrated the story to a senior Ashram friend. She replied, "How many years before 1973 was it that you saw the Mother?" "Many years before", answered G. "You are lucky that you have not seen the Mother after her passing. I had always seen her in her transcendent beauty. When I saw her body I did not want to see her in that state." On hearing this, the regret and the pain passed and G felt reconciled. He realised that this was the answer he was seeking. He says, "Whenever I went to the Mother I would lovingly look into the Mother's eyes and drink in her smile. For me they represent Bliss, Ananda, and Transcendental Joy. It is more precious to me than the whole Brahmanda."

(‘How They Came to Sri Aurobindo and The Mother (Volume II)’ by Shyam Kumari)