Guiding Light of The Month

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

Artistic Sensitivity

A powerful aid in fighting ugliness. - The Mother



Common Name: Morning Glory

Botanical Name: Ipomoea Tricolor

Spiritual Name: Artistic Sensitivity


“‘Savitri’, this prophetic vision of world’s history, including the announcement of the earth’s future - Who can ever dare to put it in picture?


We simply meditate together on the lines chosen, and when the image becomes clear, I describe it with the help of a few strokes, then Huta goes to her studio and brushes the paintings.”

- The Mother’s prefatory note on ‘Meditations on Savitri’





From the Editor’s Desk

This month we remain with our previous theme “Painting”. Till now, it is clear that painting is just one means of expression. However, worlds of differences, worlds of debate (if we are given to an active mind), worlds of philosophy and worlds of psychology arise when we pose these questions about the nature of painting as a means of expression: What is the subject matter of expression? What is the need to express it? And with what consciousness does an artist attempt the expression?




For those of us who believe that the highest in ourselves is the one thing worth seeking, as the highest around us, then it pays to take up one form of expression or the other and involve ourselves in a lifetime of discovery and if at all, some closeness to ‘spiritual mastery’ and its expression in our day to day life via any media of expression. What is this spiritual quality that an artist should aim to have imbibed and represented in and have exuding from his work of art? The expectation is exacting. BEAUTY. Nothing less than BEAUTY. What then is this ‘Beauty’? Let us contemplate awhile on The Mother’s words on Beauty and Art:



“Beauty is the special divine Manifestation in the physical as Truth is in the mind, Love in the heart, Power in the vital. Supramental beauty is the highest divine beauty manifesting in Matter.”



This beauty “does not get its full power except when it is surrendered to the Divine”. And true art, The Mother says, is



“the expression of beauty in the material world. In a world wholly converted, that is to say, expressing integrally the divine reality, art must serve as the revealer and teacher of this divine beauty in life”. not g Beauty does not get its full power except when it We proceed with exploring the world of painting by moving in closer to the lives led by sadhaks who aspired for the highest and attempted to live that high life by simply following their inner Guide. The present June issue focuses on Huta and the subsequent issue, on Champaklal as sadhaks who took to the brush as a means of progressing in their inner realms, and those above and that too with direct guidance from The Mother herself.



When reading Huta’s books such as ‘The story of a soul’ and ‘Mother you said so’, one is immediately drawn into the beautiful life that she lived, albeit with her own lot of painful struggles to combat and overcome. Nevertheless, it was a life offered to the Divine, and therefore beautiful. Here is something from Huta herself describing the moment when she first looked upon The Mother: “Our eyes were locked in utter silence. It was as if our souls embraced. So deep, so intimate was our meeting that I realized instantly that here was the ONE I had been seeking since childhood, the ONE who could help me, that here was SHE who could release me from the dreadful confusion in which I had been struggling all those years. Then my inner being murmured, “Yes, this is the TRUTH and LOVE I have been seeking and aspiring for.” Her sparkling eyes and sweet smile captured my entire self…. Now my soul was at rest – it had finally found its home.”



And thus began Huta’s journey with The Mother in this life, one high point of it being an instrument of The Mother in giving artistic expression on canvas to the immortal lines from ‘Savitri’, into what is now known as ‘Meditations on Savitri’

Turn the pages for more…..

Question of the month

 Q: But if one does Yoga can he rise to such heights as Shakespeare or Shelly? There has been no such instance?

A:  The Mother: Why not? The ‘Mahabharata’ and ‘Ramayana’ are certainly not inferior to anything created by Shakespeare or any other poet, and they are said to have been the work of men who were Rishis and had some yogic tapasya. ‘The Gita’ which, like Upanishads, ranks at once among the greatest literary and the greatest spiritual works, was not written by one who had no experience of Yoga. And where is the inferiority to your Milton and Shelley in the famous poems written whether in India or Persia or elsewhere by men known to be saints, Sufis, devotees? And, then, do you know all the Yogis and their work? Among the poets and creators can you say who were or who were not in conscious touch with the Divine? There are some who are not officially Yogis, they are not gurus and have no disciples; the world does not know what they do; they are not anxious for fame and do not attract to themselves the attention of men; but they have the higher consciousness, are in touch with a Divine Power, and when they create they create from there. The best paintings in India and much of the best statuary and architecture were done by Buddhist monks who passed their lives in spiritual contemplation and practice; and they did supreme artistic work, but did not care to leave their names to posterity. The chief reason why Yogis are not usually known by their art is that they do not consider their art expression as the most important part of their life and do not put so much time and energy into it as a mere artist. And what they do does not always reach the public. How many there are who have done great things and not published them to the world!

(A drawing by The Mother, titled ‘Ascent of Truth -2’)

On ‘Meditations on Savitri’

[We have been screening “Meditations on Savitri” at our centre on the first and last Sundays of the month during our evening sessions from 6 to 7pm. The article we are reproducing here, written by K.R. Srinivasa Iyengar in ‘On The Mother’, Chapter 52, ‘Readiness is All’, will be of striking significance to all those of us who have been meditating with this piece of audio visual production by Savitri Bhavan based on The Mother’s work, through Huta in translating selected lines of Savitri into artistic strokes on canvas following periods of deep meditation. This article may also be an inspiration for those who are yet to come across ‘Meditations on Savitri’.]



There was, then, the Polish sadhika Janina who responded to the marvellous insights and illuminations in the Mother's ‘Prayers and Meditations’ and Sri Aurobindo's ‘Savitri’, and rendered them in formulations and depths of colour that revealed an uncanny force and vivacity.



And of particular significance was Huta's first volume of paintings, ‘Meditations on Savitri’, which was released on 15 August 1962. Since her taking permanent residence in the Ashram in 1955, Huta had been struggling to judge from her correspondence with the Mother - within herself to find her true vocation. On 7 February 1961, Mother wrote to Huta:



"You ask me what you must do. It would be better to ask what you must be, because the circumstances and activities in life have not much importance. What is important is our way of reacting to them.



Human nature is such that when you concentrate on your body you fall ill, when you concentrate on your heart and feelings you become unhappy, when you concentrate on the mind you get bewildered."



How to get out of this "precarious condition"? The way of the strong is a severe and continuous tapasya. The other is to divert one's attention from the "small personal self" by dedication to a big ideal or absorption in art or science, or social or political life etc. All would depend on one's sincerity, endurance, effort, struggle - and the sheer will to victory. Huta had awakened to the splendours in the firmament of ‘Savitri’ on the night in July 1954 when "cataracts of divine light and peace" overpowered her and swept her towards a new goal in life. Then, after she had settled in the Ashram, she had "a concrete experience" in her sleep that the Mother was reciting ‘Savitri’ to her: "I heard distinctly her melodious voice and experienced intensely the soothing warmth of her Presence." And the Mother confirmed it: "Yes, indeed, I recited ‘Savitri’ to you and it was passages from Book Eleven – ‘The Book of Everlasting Day’ - the conversation between the Supreme Lord and ‘Savitri’" It was natural that she should now want to render some of the seminal lines and passages in ‘Savitri’ in divinations of line and colour. On 26 September 1960 she mentioned it to the Mother who revealed that she herself "had a great wish to express through paintings the visions I had seen in 1906, but I had no time", and after a deep contemplation added, "I will help you constantly. I will take you to higher worlds and show you the Truth. You must remember the Truth and express it through painting." The next day the Mother gave some preliminary instructions and assured her, "I will put my Force into you so there will be a link between [the] two consciousnesses. Go ahead." But when Huta insisted that her skill and experience in drawing, perspective and landscape were inadequate the Mother said,



"....the Epic is full of visions and they can be expressed by giving only an impression. The most important thing is that in painting you must bring vibrations, feelings, liveliness and consciousness."



And so the great work of visual interpretation and symbolic projection started and continued in a series of meditative sessions. As the Mother has explained in her prefatory note to ‘Meditations on Savitri’:



"’Savitri’, this prophetic vision of the world's history, including the announcement of the earth's future - Who can ever dare to put it in picture?



We simply meditate together on the lines chosen, and when the image becomes clear, I describe it with the help of a few strokes, then Huta goes to her studio and brushes the painting. "

The first volume of ‘Meditations’ included 23 paintings covering the opening canto ("The Symbol Dawn") of ‘Savitri’. Subsequent volumes were to appear in August 1963, February 1965 and August 1966 respectively - the four volumes together, with their 110 paintings, illustrating the whole of book I of ‘Savitri’. It was Lessing who first drew a meaningful distinction between fluid poetic description and the static art of sculpture, but painting can combine the fluidity of poetic suggestiveness with the explicit vividness of a visual art. The very title ‘Meditations’ hints at the fact that here art is but the handmaiden of sadhana. Which means that the rasika too should approach this work as part of his sadhana, and not merely as a student or connoisseur of painting. "It is in a meditative mood," says the Mother, "that the ‘Meditations’ must be looked at," for otherwise we might just fasten upon the appearance and miss the reality. It is not at the intellectual but at a high "overhead" - intuitive or overmental - level that the meaning has been seized and new-created in line and colour, and a like effort of seeing and experiencing is demanded of the rasika. This stupendous body of work spread out in the ‘Meditations’ volumes is perhaps a striving towards the future overhead painting, and what these paintings attempt is the revelation of unusual psychic, occult and spiritual phenomena, through audacities of form, line and colour. The lines in ‘Savitri’ with their arresting quanta of thought and measured tread of sound first strike the ear, but that is only the beginning. There is presently a reverberation through the inner corridors of sense and sensibility towards the still depths of the soul.



Readers of ‘Savitri’ - especially those who launch themselves on "The Symbol Dawn" - are apt to encounter wall after wall of resistance, for image is piled upon image, and there is an apparent density of meaning that seems to defy penetration by the mind. While one is no doubt gripped by the splendour of the articulation and the vast visionary vistas of spirit-scape, one also feels baffled. What is one to make of these images, these symbol-actions, these occult situations:



A fathomless zero occupied the world. ...



Something that wished but knew not how to be

Teased the Inconscient to wake Ignorance. ...



The darkness failed and slipped like a falling cloak

From the reclining body of a god. ...



On life's thin border awhile the Vision stood

And bent over earth's pondering forehead curve. ...



Her passion-flower of love and doom she gave.

All came back to her: Earth and Love and Doom,



The mantric vibrations impinge on the doors of consciousness, there is a call or summons, and there is some response from the innermost countries. But Huta's paintings, which are but a transcription of her and the Mother's joint meditations, have yet to be re-enacted in the rasika's theatre of stillness and awakening psychic dawn. It is, in short, a sadhana - or nothing.

That the "Dawn Goddess" should appear in the opening canto is natural enough. But Savitri is a goddess too, the prophetess of the coming Supramental Dawn, the "Greater Dawn" to be. And for Huta herself - as for many - the Mother was also "a parable of Dawn", a Savitri-power. Dawn, Savitri, the Mother - they are of course different powers and divinities. But they have also their striking affiliations, and Huta was made to seize the truth, and in her paintings the Dawn-Goddess evoked in lines like "On life's thin border awhile the Vision stood" and the Savitri of "The calm delight that weds one soul to all" and "Of her pangs she made a mystic poignant sword" merge into one another, and also with the Mother - a golden three-in-one. And this is verily to reach the mystic heart of "The Symbol Dawn".



There are other paintings also that, with their epiphanic stances, suddenly make clear what had remained obscure when the poem was merely read, or project with a stunning vividness what had seemed a mere metaphor. Thus Plate II transcribes with haunting suggestiveness the idea of the lines:

Repeating for ever the unconscious act,

Prolonging for ever the unseeing will,



And Plate XVI is the very image - picturesque and powerful - of "Man lifted up the burden of his fate". This might be a Samson carrying a colossal weight, or even Krishna holding up the Govardhan Hill, - there is such controlled energy, such determined purpose, such intensity of effect in the painting. And the last Plate is magnificent:



Immobile in herself, she gathered force.

This was the day when Satyavan must die.



Savitri exudes the immobility of infinite strength, and Satyavan-"the soul of the world called Satyavan" - lies stretched before her, glorious in his beauty and the victim of immitigable Doom. The battle is joined-the battle that is to be waged and won in the occult infinitudes of Eternal Night, the Double Twilight and Everlasting Day.



(K.R. Srinivasa Iyengar in ‘On The Mother’, Chapter 52, ‘Readiness is All’, Sri Aurobindo Ashram Trust, Pondicherry)


The Indian artist

”The Indian artist lived in the light of an inspiration which imposed this greater aim on his art and his method sprang from its fountains and served it to the exclusion of any more earthly sensuous or outwardly imaginative aesthetic impulse. The six limbs of his art, the sadanga, are common to all work in line and colour: they are the necessary elements and in their elements the great arts are the same everywhere; the distinction of forms, rupabheda, proportion, arrangement of line and mass, design, harmony, perspective, pramana, the emotion or aesthetic feeling expressed by the form, bhava, the seeking for beauty and charm for the satisfaction of the aesthetic spirit, lavanya, truth of the form and its suggestion, sadrsya, the turn, combination, harmony of colours, varnikabhanga, are the first constituents to which every successful work of art reduces itself in analysis. But it is the turn given to each of the constituents which makes all the difference in the aim and effect of the technique and the source and character of the inner vision guiding the creative hand in their combination which makes all the difference in the spiritual value of the achievement, and the unique character of Indian painting, the peculiar appeal of the art of Ajanta springs from the remarkably inward, spiritual and psychic turn which was given to the artistic conception and method by the pervading genius of Indian culture.”

Huta, In Memoriam




Savita D. Hindocha, better known by her Ashram name, Huta, passed away quietly on the 17th of November, 2011. Perhaps, it is more than just a coincidence that this fond child of The Mother chose to leave her body on the same date as The Mother did, 38 years before her. When she joined the Ashram permanently on February 10th 1955, in her late teens, The Mother gave her the name ‘Huta’ meaning ‘The Offered One’. Although she had no artistic training, the Mother perceived in her a potential artist and a soul belonging to a world of beauty. She trained her in painting, and worked with her from 1961 to 1966 to create the series of oil paintings illustrating passages from the whole of 'Savitri' called 'Meditations on Savitri' . We present below some of these works by a very special and unassuming child of The Mother.


The Dream Boat



Who was it that came to me in a boat made of dream-fire,

With his flame brow and his sun-gold body?

Melted was the silence into a sweet secret murmur,

“Do you come now? Is the heart’s fire ready?”

(In the painting for “The Dream Boat”, Huta illustrates a boat of fire with a representation of a divine being as a boy standing on this boat. An aura of light surrounds his head and he basks in soft golden light. The sea has a serene movement and merges with the hues of the sky. Gently-introduced pink tones indicate the sweet secret murmur.)

Beyond The Silence



One with the Eternal, live in his infinity,

Drowned in the Absolute, found in the Godhead,

Swan of the supreme and spaceless ether wandering

Winged through the universe,

Spirit immortal.

(For “Beyond the Silence”, Huta depicts a swan soaring upwards as a symbol of the individual soul turning towards the Divine. She lifts the paint in its wings to create feathers and infuses dream-like soft colours for the spaceless ether, bringing a quietude to the canvas.)

Adwaita


I walked on the high-wayed Seat of Solomon

Where Shankaracharya’s tiny temple stands

Facing Infinity from Time’s edge, alone

On the bare ridge ending earth’s vain romance.

(A lofty mountain strikes the eye with its bold colours in the painting inspired by “Adwaita”, and in its rendering the upward strokes of the brush carry the eye to the top where one discovers a temple in white. The subtle blue hues of the sky create a sacred atmosphere around the temple.)


The Divine Sight



A master-work of colour and design,

A mighty sweetness borne on grandeur’s wings;

A burdened wonder of significant line

Reveals itself in even commonest things.

(A divine being almost ethereal is shown in the painting for “Divine Sight”. A suggestion of fields, a river, birds, and a mountain peak in the background, rendered in light-filled, happy tones, create an atmosphere of delight and wonder.)

(Courtesy: ‘Pictures of Sri Aurobindo’s Poems’, SABDA Publications)

”I have seen the beauties and wonders of the higher worlds. Now I think of expressing them in painting by various colours – blues, golds, pinks and whites – with certain vibrations of Light – all in harmony forming the New World.

“I wish to bring down upon earth this New World. Since I have no time physically, I will paint through you.…”

- The Mother to Huta

(Courtesy: SABDA eNews)


Sudha’s inspirations from lines of ‘Savitri’



She was the red heart of the passion-flower,
The dream-white of the lotus in its pool.

Time’s sun-flowers’ gaze at gold Eternity:
There are the imperishable beatitudes.
A million lotuses swaying on one stem,
World after coloured and ecstatic world.
Climbs towards some far unseen epiphany.

April-May Sunday Activities at Centre – A glimpse

29 April 2012 :  Audio-Visual Presentation This was a “fifth Sunday”. We had a chance to do something else at our Centre. We screened a Power Point Presentation “Towards Tomorrow and Sri Aurobindo Society”, a production by Sri Aurobindo Society, Pondicherry, in commemoration of the Golden Jubilee observed in 2010. It included an introduction to Sri Aurobindo and The Mother. There were very succinct and appropriate glimpses of Society activities. This was a great eye-opener for us as a body psychologically connected to Sri Aurobindo Society, Pondicherry. The slides described the multi-faceted tasks undertaken by the Society in the area of education, health, women’s well-being, business development and economics. It was both informative and inspiring to sit back, and drink in the essence of the teachings of Sri Aurobindo being put to practical use in the community at large without compromising on the growth of the individuals involved on both fronts, the server and the served. The presentation lasted for about 40 minutes. Hiren, an old member of the Society who has now located to Canada was there to speak to us about the Mother’s Grace at play in his life and his family and how important the Singapore Society had been in his and his family’s life. He extended an invitation to all to his dear daughter’s Dance Arangetram. Following this, he kept us immersed in 6 pages of elevating lines of ‘Savitri’. We sat in silence as Hiren recited the lines. It was like a trip to another luminous and glorious world. Such is the power of lines from ‘Savitri’.

6 May 2012: ‘Meditations on Savitri’ For this sitting, we meditated on Book 2, Canto 3: ‘The Glory and Fall of Life’. This section included 7 slides of pictures. The first part of this presentation dealt with the “glory” of which Sri Aurobindo summarises in the phrase, “griefless countries under purple suns”. One was seized immediately by the many suns that dotted the sky over purple countries that lay below. It was indeed a glorious description of a fortunate life illuminated by many suns. The purple colour was striking and brought to mind the significance of colours in Sri Aurobindo’s writings. It was a glorious life where “nude God-children in their play-fields ran”. The imagery left one in wonder. The children were alive and energy seemed to flow from and around them in their various stances and poses. There was a movement inherent in the paintings that seemed to catch the subtle eye. The next part descended into a somber mood. Before Life’s glorious gifts could reach earth, something questioned all. We moved into Canto 4: ‘The Kingdoms of the Little Life’. This section consisted of 10 picture slides which described vividly the Little Life that we do recognize at certain points in our lives and do try and struggle out off, finally yielding to prayer and surrender and a deep aspiration to be disentangled from bonds self-imposed and otherwise.

13 May 2012: ‘Records on Yoga’, by Sri Aurobindo and The Mother’s ‘Commentaries on Records on Yoga’ This was an exceptional occasion. We had with us a large of number of aspirants and devotees. Our usual circle of 8 to 10 swelled to a mighty 22. There were about 6 new-comers. We began our session after extending a warm welcomes to our new friends. We looked at the chapter on Psychic Being, where Sri Aurobindo answered candidly and simply questions that sadhaks had asked on the subject. We then turned to The Mother’s commentaries on the same chapter. At this juncture we dwelled awhile on a particular question a child had posed to The Mother in which the subject is a dream the child had in which he/she had seen The Mother weeping. We attempted to examine the “weeping” in several ways, such as weeping in happiness, weeping in bliss, weeping in sorrow. There was a point brought out about the concept of the Divine weeping in sorrow being quite alien to the Indian Spiritual tradition though the Christian religion includes in within its realm, such as the weeping of Mother Mary at the feet of the crucified Christ. We also spoke a little on the Madonna of Sorrow Sri Aurobindo introduced in ‘Savitri’. We then turned to the Mother’s enlightening answer to the child’s dream vision of her weeping. This was following by ‘Meditations on Savitri’ based on Huta’s painting depicting the Mother of Sorrows in the Triple Soul Forces for the next 5 minutes.

20 May 2012: Readings from ‘Vignettes of Sri Aurobindo and The Mother’; OM choir We began the session with a short reading session on ‘Sri Aurobindo and The Mother on Themselves’ Part II. This reading was to prepare us for the next session on the reading of selected ‘Vignettes from Sri Aurobindo and The Mother’. We spent a longer period of time reading snippets from ‘Sri Aurobindo and The Mother on Themselves’. It was obvious that this reading was quietly and consciously grasped by everyone. The readings brought us closer to Them (or was it the other way round?). We finally went into Vignettes and read a couple of them. One was on how a child aspired to see Sri Aurobindo and did see him during balcony darshan, in place of The Mother. The Mother herself assured the child that it was indeed Sri Aurobindo who had been there and that she was pleased that the child was able to see that. From Vignettes, we moved on to OM choir and spent some quiet minutes getting into ourselves and steadying our breaths. As usual, the OM choir imparted its own unique charm and we ended the day at the Centre on a very quiet and silent note. - Jayanthy

ALONG THE WAY……Reflections on the May 2012 Morning Walk

“A sound mind lives in a sound body”


A sound body and sound health is the key to a sound mind. Morning walk is one of the ways to have a sound mind and body. It’s a boon for health, best and one of the cheapest form of exercises. It was a pleasant morning on Sunday 6th May 2012 when we all gathered in East Coast Park for our walk. We met at Costa Del Sol, abode of our hosts, Mr. and Mrs. Ashok Patel and family around 8.30 am and started with stretching exercise on an open terrace adjacent to the swimming pool. We concluded the warm up session with Sri Aurobindo’s Gayatri Mantra, bringing into our mental consciousness the Power of the Sun over Darkness. It was a refreshing start made even more pleasant by the cool breeze, calm atmosphere and serene view. Then, we all proceeded to the East Coast Park (ECP) via a linking underpass.

ECP is the largest park in Singapore with a total size of 185 hectares and a scenic coastline that stretches over 15 km. making it Singapore’s most treasured urban getaways. Themed “Recreation for All”, ECP offers an exciting diversity of sporting, dining and recreational activities catering to various segments of people. It has barbeque pits, camping and fishing facilities, food and beverages, and a lot of other sporting and entertainment options.

Along the way, I found many interesting and vibrant facts which really geared me up. The entire atmosphere felt so active and lively. People were scattered here and there all throughout the park, indulged in different fun filled activities like sports, hobbies, recreation and many more. To the left was a bicycle track with many cyclist; some cycling alone to relax, while some were in groups racing with each other. Adjacent to it was the walking track filled with joggers, walkers, runners, skaters; all in different moods and styles but for a common goal; fitness and health. After a good work out, one could relax under the swaying coconut palms, casuarinas and ketapangs, and let the inviting waves and fresh perennial sea breeze provide one with an invigorating relief to the stifling city heat and humidity. The park is a popular place for families and friends to relax and enjoy. Another event that kept most of the people busy was fishing, whether you call it a hobby, passion or pastime but people stayed hours together concentrating on the water and fishing rod waiting for the fish.

Jogging and walking time just flew by and we all went back to Costa Del Sol for the rest of our activities. There was a silent meditation followed by the enchanting “OM”, prayers and best wishes for birthdays and anniversaries. This was followed by a delicious brunch arranged for all, hosted by Uncle Ashok Patel and Bhakti Aunty. Post lunch we came back to our place fresh and rejuvenated, looking forward to the next walk!

- Ritesh

Beauty in Art

A beauty that displays itself and allows itself to be contemplated.




- The Mother



Common Name: Peony

Botanical Name: Paeonia

Spiritual Name: Beauty in Art

From the Editor’s Desk

This month’s Newsletter unravels the theme of “Painting”. There will not be many amongst us who can claim to have not had a hand in some kind of work involving painting, as an adult or a child. We can probably still remember our own young, eager hands reaching out for the paint brush and the attractive blobs of coloured paints on the palette and painting or ‘scratching’ or ‘spreading’ to our hearts’ content. If we push a little further into those moments, we can probably touch areas of glee and bliss while being involved in an act of creativity, where the mind and the heart and body engage together to form something. The most exciting part of this endeavour is that one would not have an inkling on what is in store for us at the end of the painting session. Nevertheless, the entire process can be remembered as something significant and special.




There is something special in this thing called painting, whether it be the process or the product. There is something magical about using one’s hands, picking up some colours in whatever medium and with whatever strokes that come through our receptive hands, creating a piece of work that expresses and encapsulates what one is, for that moment. That living moment of creativity is captured forever on a tangible medium and each visit to it afterwards brings us in touch with that unique feeling one would have had while at the work of creation. This is the wonder about painting. It captures and encapsulates and sometimes, epitomizes. However, what determines the quality of what is expressed? How is that paintings can get better and better with each concerted and indepth effort? The Mother has stated in simple terms what beauty in art means:

A beauty that displays itself and allows itself to be contemplated.



The true artist is, then, a yogi. In the realm of Integral Philosophy, painting is an important avenue to express the spiritual, either in its seeking or in its expression, as in any art form, or any preoccupation or occupation, for that matter.



The Newsletter sheds some light on how painting is an avenue for spiritual growth. Besides touching a sensitive inner spot in us, painting also creates the means for deep engagement and interaction with it and the expression of this subtle interaction on canvas. It is these moments that mark themselves out as special moments that bring the spiritual realms closer to us through extended practice. Like all endeavours that can be spiritualized, painting offers an opportunity for the artist to delve deeper into himself while studying his subjects and then creating on canvas the truth behind the apparent, or the hidden inner reality with which his inner reality would have come in contact with. It is possibly an experience that one can live more and more deeply, truly, in order to manifest something closer to the essence within, both in the artist and in the subject of the painting or work of art.



Here are gems from The Mother on modern art and artists in general that would set us wondering deeply into the matter, and also set the tone for what is to come:



“Modern art is an experiment, still very clumsy, to express something other than the simple physical appearance. The idea is good - but naturally the value of the expression depends entirely on the value of that which wants to express itself.

At present almost all artists live in the lowest vital and mental consciousness and the results are quite poor. Try to develop your consciousness, endeavour to discover your soul, and then what you will do, will be truly interesting.”

- The Mother



Savitri

In Art and Life they catch the All-Beautiful’s ray


And make the world their radiant treasure house:

Even common figures are with marvel robed;

A charm and greatness locked in every hour

Awakes the joy which sleeps in all things made.



Tenants of a larger air and freer space,

Live not by the body or in outward things:

A deeper living was their seat of self.

In that intense domain of intimacy

Objects dwell as companions of the soul;

The body’s action are a minor script,

The surface rendering of a life within.

All forces are Life’s retinue in that world

And thought and body as her handmaids move.



(Savitri, Book 2 Canto 6)

Question of the month


“In order to save her time Mother allowed me to show her paintings etc. while she was arranging flowers. Today when she was arranging flowers I asked: "Can I show the plates now?" Mother smiled and said: "Yes, yes." “



“After seeing the painting of Mona Lisa Mother said: "That is the best."”



C: "Is that so?"

Mother: "I think so. We shall see. Sri Aurobindo was the artist."

C: "Leonardo da Vinci?"

Mother smiled sweetly and said: "Yes."

I pointed to the picture and asked: "Mother, it seems this is you?"

Mother: "Yes. Don't you see the resemblance?" She put her finger on the lips of Mona Lisa (in the plate); she also pointed to the lower portion of the face.

- 06-February-1940.



('Champaklal Speaks', by M.P. Pandit, Sri Aurobindo Ashram, Pondicherry)

Sri Aurobindo on The True Artist


The true artist, says Sri Aurobindo, must rise above the tyranny of the eye and the tyranny of aesthetic imagination. He must emancipate himself from the obligation of a mere recorder or a copyist. Imagination is also an unsafe and capricious guide to an artist.



“The claim of the eye to separate satisfaction can only be answered by the response of decorative beauty; the claim of the imagination to separate satisfaction can only receive the response of fancy playing with scene and legend, form and colour, idea and dream for pure aesthetic delight; but in the interpretation of things the eye and the imagination can assert no right to command, they are only subordinate instruments and must keep their place.“ – Sri Aurobindo. Art, it must be understood, exists not to copy, not for the fanciful play of imagination but for the sake of a deeper truth and vision.





('Art As Manifestation, Not Creation', R. Gopalan Shastri, from 'Brahmavadin', April 1983 (A quarterly journal of the Vivekananda Kendra)

”The mind is profoundly influenced by what it sees and, if the eye is trained from the days of childhood to the contemplation and understanding of beauty, harmony and just arrangement in line and colour, the tastes, habits and character will be insensibly trained to follow a similar law of beauty, harmony and just arrangement in the life of adult man. This was the great importance of the universal proficiency in the arts and crafts or the appreciation of them which was prevalent in ancient Greece, in certain European ages, in Japan and in the better days of our own history.”

The Mother on Art

Art is nothing less in its fundamental truth than the aspect of beauty of the Divine manifestation. Perhaps, looking from this standpoint, there will be found very few true artists; but still there are some and these can very well be considered as Yogis. For like a Yogi an artist goes into deep contemplation to await and receive his inspiration. To create something truly beautiful, he has first to see it within, to realise it as a whole in his inner consciousness; only when so found, seen, held within, can he execute it outwardly; he creates according to this greater inner vision. This too is a kind of yogic discipline, for by it he enters into intimate communion with the inner worlds. A man like Leonardo Da Vinci was a Yogi and nothing else. And he was, if not the greatest, at least one of the greatest painters, although his art did not stop at painting alone.




- 28th July 1929



Amal Kiran writes: "I was discussing with Sri Aurobindo on the subject of rebirth and lines of manifesting consciousness and put him the query: "Is it true that the same consciousness that took the form of Leonardo da Vinci had previously manifested as Augustus Caesar? If so, will you please tell me what exactly Augustus stood for in the history of Europe and how Leonardo's work was connected with his?" The answer was:



“Augustus Caesar organised the life of the Roman Empire and it was this that made the framework of the first transmission of the Graeco-Roman civilisation to Europe—he came for that work and the writings of Virgil and Horace and others helped greatly towards the success of his mission. After the interlude of the Middle Ages, this civilisation was reborn in a new mould in what is called the Renaissance, not in its life-aspects but in its intellectual aspects. It was therefore a supreme intellectual, Leonardo Da Vinci, who took up again the work and summarized in himself the seeds of modern Europe.”



- 29 July 1937



('Questions & Answers 1929-1931', Sri Aurobindo Ashram, Pondicherry and ‘Life, Poetry and Yoga’, K.D. Sethna (Amal Kiran), The Integral Life Foundation, U.S.A)



The Mother as an Artist

It was in 1961 that the little gold-blazoned book – ‘The Mother on Sri Aurobindo’ - was published. The frontispiece was a colour reproduction of a notable painting by the Mother. There is an interesting story behind it:




During the early 1920s Sri Aurobindo's brother, Barin, was doing some oil painting under the Mother's guidance. As is the common practice of artists, a small board was kept for depositing the surplus paint left on the palette after each session. A random mixture of colours covered most of the surface of this board. One day when Barin had finished his work the Mother asked for the palette and, with the remaining paint, gave a few deft brush strokes to the centre of the board covered with old palette-scrapings. Thus the painting was completed.



Evidently, something had struck the Mother in the swirl of colours on the board. The suggestion of a face may have been already visible in the midst of it. In the finished painting, a face resembling Sri Aurobindo's emerges from the chaos of colours which appropriately represents "the Inconscient", according to the Mother's title. The Mother herself confirmed that the face is Sri Aurobindo's. It is likely, as is reported in one version of the story, that Sri Aurobindo was present at the time of this incident and she took the opportunity to paint a quick portrait of him. The Mother liked the painting enough to have it printed along with the title she gave it.



The painting also reminds one of her profound experience of 5 November, 1958:



"At the very bottom of the inconscience most hard and rigid and narrow and stifling I struck upon an almighty spring....



The Emerging Godhead is the Golden Purusha, Sri Aurobindo himself."





The prefatory declaration to the book is also challenging:



"What Sri Aurobindo represents in the world's history is not a teaching, not even a revelation; it is a decisive action direct from the Supreme."





(K.R. Srinivasa Iyengar in ‘On The Mother’, Chapter 51, ‘Forward to Perfection’, Sri Aurobindo Ashram Trust, Pondicherry)





“Michael Angelo in his fury of inspirations seems to have been impelled by Mahakali, while Mahalakshmi sheds her genial favour upon Raphael and Titian; and the meticulous care and the detailed surety in a Tintoretto makes us think of Mahasaraswati's grace. Mahasaraswati too seems to have especially favoured Leonardo Da Vinci, although a brooding presence of Maheshwari also seems to be intermixed there.”



- Nolini Kanta Gupta

The Descent of Knowledge in Savitri – Part Four

(continued from February, March, April 2012)

Author’s Note: This concluding extract from 'The Descent of Knowledge in Savitri' introduces the idea that the poem itself is an example of the Supramental consciousness at work. From the beginning, the Earth is viewed as a planet moving in space, and the action takes place sometimes in an earthly time-frame and sometimes in the timelessness of eternity. An attempt is made to uncover the close relationship between the mantric poetry of 'Savitri' and Sri Aurobindo's more philosophical discourse on characteristic working of the Supermind that appear in 'The Life Divine' and 'The Synthesis of Yoga'.




The Supramental Knowledge will transform life on earth beyond our imagining, and it is unlike anything experienced before. The first opening often comes in the form a voice heard within, carrying with it the conviction of the divine adesh, or command. This is the Knowledge that was incarnate in Savitri, needing only the pressure of her will to reveal itself. Savitri accepts the authority of the inner voice without question. As in a dream, she is shown the whole cosmic past, the origin of form, the emergence of life. All the knowledge that Aswapati obtained in his ascent of the world-stair arises from within. The Supramental consciousness reveals to her the truth about our human past and the possibilities of the future:



This is not all we are or all our world.

Our greater self of knowledge waits for us,

A supreme light in the truth-conscious vast:

It sees from summits beyond thinking mind,

It moves in a splendid air transcending life.

It shall descend and make earth's life divine.



Savitri understands what is required of her – she has to push aside her human nature in order to discover her immortal soul. Using a language of images The Entry into the Inner Countries and subsequent cantos tell the story of that discovery, as Savitri forces her way “through body to the soul”. Each image perfectly conveys a many-sided truth which the abstract language of thought would struggle to express. These images do not arise from the thought mind. It seems that they themselves bear the stamp of an intuitive imagination raised almost to a Supramental power. As Sri Aurobindo writes in The Synthesis of Yoga “The imagination transformed in the Supermind acts on one side as a power of true image and symbol, always an image of some value or significance or other truth of being, - on the other as an inspiration or interpretative seeing of possibilities and potentialities not less true than actual or realised things.” It would be a mistake to see them as anything less.



The search for the soul is attended by dangers, for the human consciousness is like a house of many unentered rooms and hidden basements which may be home to unknown and unwanted guests. Savitri must pass through these and meet with the inhabitants of other planes that impinge upon our own. Finally, she encounters messengers from her own soul, helpful powers and energies who are portions of herself.



With their help she journeys on to find herself in the presence of three Powers who are active in the lives of men. One by one they recount to Savitri the meaning of their role in human affairs, but each time Savitri hears a deforming echo arising from the earth, the warped response of suffering humanity's ignorance and ill-will. She understands the cause: the Mother of Compassion, the Mother of Might, the Mother of divine Wisdom pour down their blessings and aid, but have not power to change the harsh conditions imposed by Falsehood and Death. Savitri recognises all three as divine forms of Herself. Knowing that the discovery of her soul will bring down the power to change everything, she leaves them with a promise:

One day I shall return, his hands in mine,

And thou shalt see the face of the Absolute.

Then shall the holy marriage be achieved,

Then shall the divine family be born.



The finding of the soul is an essential stage in the yoga of both Aswapati and Savitri. As Sri Aurobindo writes in The Life Divine: “The soul, the psychic entity, then manifests itself as the central being which upholds mind and life and body and supports all the other powers and functions of the spirit; it takes up its greater functions as the guide and ruler of the nature. A guidance, a governance then begins from within which exposes every movement to the light of Truth, repels what is false, obscure, opposed to the divine realization........all is purified, set right, the whole nature harmonized, modulated in the psychic key, put in spiritual order.”



Savitri's discovery of her soul is described in the fifth canto of Book Seven. A vision of the mighty Mother of the worlds, the Power of divine Creation, descends into her body and “all underwent a high celestial change.” Everything has changed for Savitri and she lives in a state of innocence and joy. Even the prospect of Satyavan's death had no more power to cause her grief, for she lives in a consciousness where even suffering is seen under the aspect of eternity, as a dark disguise of bliss. But this world is intolerant of too much happiness – a nameless dread assails her heart and “her kingdom of delight was there no more”. It is a first encounter with all-negating Death, claiming creation as his own:



I have created all, all I devour;

I am Death and the dark terrible Mother of life,

I am Kali black and naked in the world,

I am Maya and the universe is my cheat.



A second voice arises from the depths of Savitri's soul and she learns the meaning of her fate. She must renounce the bliss of Heaven to make herself an instrument of Heaven's Will:



Thou hast come down into a struggling world

To aid a blind and suffering mortal race,

To open to Light the eyes that could not see,

To bring down bliss into the heart of grief,

To make thy life a bridge twixt earth and heaven;

If thou wouldst save the toiling universe,

The vast universal suffering feel as thine:

The day-bringer must walk in darkest night,

He who would save the world must share its pain.



Savitri listens, falling silent in herself she turns an inward look upon the origin of these promptings that arise in her “but most her gaze pursued the birth of thought.” To Sri Aurobindo, thoughts become 'ours' only when they have been accepted by us, for we are not the sole authors of the thoughts that apparently come from within ourselves: they have their origin in a vast continuum of consciousness as wide as the universe. Sri Aurobindo identifies within this continuum ascending ranges of mind-existence: subliminal and subconscious behind and below, intuitive and illumined on the fringes of the heights above. The dream consciousness too receives influences from these self-existent planes; and there are in addition, centres of energy in the physical and subtle sheaths of the human body itself that may receive and respond to universal influences. These have been discovered by the science and practice of yoga. Now Savitri's inward look uncovers the sources of her thoughts in these centres of the subtle body, messages from a wider consciousness of which the outward-looking human mind is unaware:



But for the mortal prisoned in outward mind

All must present their passports at its door;

Disguised they must don the official cap and mask

Or pass as manufactures of the brain.

Unknown their secret truth and hidden source.



Understanding this, Savitri's human mind opens to vast new sources of knowledge as wide as the universe.Yet nothing Mankind creates is wholly his: “only his soul's acceptance is his own”. An absolute stillness invades her mind and imposes its blank pure consciousness. She experiences the all-negating void. “In her the Unseen, the Unknown waited his hour.”



As, in the forest, she keeps her vigil beside the sleeping Satyavan, a tremendous change takes place. The sense of unreality disappears and is replaced by a conviction of the essential oneness of all being, all substance: “all contraries were true in one huge spirit” and all things were in herself and in God. She becomes one with the Supramental consciousness that looks at the world through her eyes and knows itself in all it sees:



It was herself, it was the self of all,

It was the reality of existing things,

It was the consciousness of all that lived

And felt and saw; it was Timelessness and Time,

It was the bliss of formlessness and form.

It was all love and the one Beloved's arms,

It was sight and thought in one all-seeing Mind,

It was joy of being on the peaks of God.



The change that came upon Savitri apppears to be the Supramental transformation of which Sri Aurobindo speaks in The Life Divine: “the whole radical change in the evolution from a basis of ignorance to a basis of Knowledge can only come by the intervention of the Supramental Power and its direct action in earth-existence. This then must be the nature of the third and final transformation which finishes the passage of the soul through the ignorance and bases its consciousness, its life, its power and form of manifestation on a complete and completely effective self-knowledge. The Truth-consciousness, finding evolutionary Nature ready, has to descend into her and enable her to liberate the Supramental principle within her; so must be created the Ssupramental and spiritual being as the first unveiled manifestation of the truth of the Self and Spirit in the material universe.”



Armed with a supreme Truth, the human Savitri is ready to confront her formidable opponent, Death, as she follows the soul of Satyavan into his shadowy Kingdom. She feels neither fear nor grief, for these feelings belong to her former self. Although the contest as depicted by Sri Aurobindo takes the outward form of a long debate, the arguments put forward are the symbolic signs of a struggle which translated into the human context must be lived and endured with fortitude and faith. The human cost is real. The Persona of Death is represented as arrogant and cruel, an intellect without a heart. He is also a convincing liar. He first tries to bully Savitri and convince her of her own inferiority and helplessness, addressing her with a contemptuous command “Unclasp, O Slave...”. Then, becoming gradually aware of the unexpected strength of his opponent he throws upon her all the 'living moods' of his shadow-kingdom – self doubt, helplessness, despair, the impossibility of hope, the cold, implacable indifference of the Gods to human suffering. This is no intellectual game played out on a mental plane, but a real ordeal that the human nature of Savitri must pass through to fulfil the inescapable condition of victory: “He who would save the world must share its pain.” Victory over Death is the culmination of Savitri's yoga. Throughout the long struggle, in which she opposes her love for Satyavan to all the negative forces Death can summon, the Light she carries within herself slowly begins to dissolve the great lie:



Almost it seemed as if in his symbol shape

The world's darkness had consented to Heaven-light

And God needed no more the Inconscient's screen.

A mighty transformation came on her.

A halo of indwelling deity,

The immortal's lustre that had lit her face

And tented its radiance in her body's house

Overflowing made the air a luminous sea.

In a flaming moment of apocalypse

The Incarnation thrust aside its veil.



We have reached a critical point in the story of the descent of Knowledge. As soon as the Mother of the Worlds unveils herself in the kingdom of Death, his reign has to come to an end, and his contract with life, ratifying their mutual dependence on each other, is no longer valid. At last the Omniscient Goddess finds on Earth “the spaces for her feet” heralding the advent of a Supramental transformation. The closing books of Savitri are prophetic in their nature, foretelling the dawning of a new consciousness, a new way of being human in the world:



For knowledge shall pour down its radiant streams

And even darkened mind quiver with new life

And kindle and burn with the Ideal's fire

And turn to escape from mortal ignorance.

The frontiers of ignorance shall recede,

More and more souls shall enter into light,

Minds lit, inspired, the occult summoner shall hear

And lives blaze with a sudden inner flame

And hearts grow enamoured of divine delight

And human wills tune to the divine will,

These separate selves the Spirit's oneness feel,

These senses of heavenly sense grow capable,

The flesh and nerves of a strange ethereal joy

And mortal bodies of immortality.



The legend of Savitri and Satyavan ends with the restoration of Satyavan to life and their return to earth, but the symbolic aspect of the story will end only with the complete emergence of the Supramental Light. “If mankind could but see, though in a glimpse of fleeting experience, what infinite enjoyments, what perfect forces, what luminous reaches of spontaneous knowledge, what wide calms of our being lie waiting for us in the tracts which our animal evolution has not yet conquered, they would leave all and never rest till they had gained these treasures.” (Sri Aurobindo)



If only we knew.

(Concluded)

- Sonia Dyne

March-April Sunday Activities at Centre – A glimpse

18/03/2012 : Reading of “Sri Aurobindo and The Mother about themselves”,


“Vignettes” followed by OM Choir



We had all gathered at the Centre and started our Sunday session with an Opening Meditation with the powerful Gayathri Mantra being played in the background. Absorbing the strong vibrations in the atmosphere around us, we formed a circle.



We were to read a very special book that day—A book which would give us a peek into the lives of Sri Aurobindo and The Mother, that too in their own words! It was called ‘Sri Aurobindo and The Mother about themselves’. It is one thing to study their work, follow their principles but it is a totally different thing to know them as they lived their lives on a day to day basis. After a quick read up, a few of us picked up a page each in ‘Vignettes’ and read the stories aloud. This seemed like a natural extension to the first activity, as these were devotees’ anecdotes on Sri Aurobindo and The Mother. After a short discussion, we formed a small circle for the OM Choir around a gloriously lit candle. We had a quick voice exercise session and then began offering our best OMs harmoniously. The music floated in the room and made us float too for a short while.





25/03/2012 & 01/04/2012: Meditation with Savitri Video



The last and first Sundays of every month is when we have the Savitri Reading Circle at the Centre. We were to read selected lines of Book 2 Canto 1 and Canto 2 - THE WORLD-STAIR and THE KINGDOM OF SUBTLE MATTER. Huta’s pictures capture the beauty of Sri Aurobindo’s exquisite description about the ascent to the world beyond the physical world. The subtle world above our material world is supposed to be unique for its beauty, the symmetry of its forms and the perfect layout of its designs. Huta’s paintings helped us see it all in our mind’s eyes all so well.





08/04/2012: “Elements of Yoga” by Sri Aurobindo (Love)



‘Elements of Yoga’ by Sri Aurobindo was the book we were to read at the Reading Circle. “Love” was the chosen chapter for the day. After reading the chapter aloud, we used the ‘Commentaries on Elements of Yoga’ by the Mother as a guide to help us understand it better.



There were numerous questions posed to The Mother on the subject of “Love” and the different kinds of love and the elements constituting each of them. The Mother answers each of them with utmost love and in such simple language that helps us identify the different levels of “Love” and other aspects of it so effortlessly.

ALONG THE WAY……Reflections on the April 2012 Morning Walk

The walk in April fell on April Fool’s Day. True to the serious nature of the Society’ members there were no pranks played when people gathered for the walk at the MacRitchie reservoir. I would have loved some fun though. After a few stretches and prayers we started the walk in the bright morning sunlight. While that made it good for taking some landscape pictures, the walkers would have preferred some cloud cover.




Along the way, I saw the active sportsmen and fitness freaks in the reservoir going about their daily or weekly routine. The Kayakers were paddling up and down the reservoir. There were diehard joggers pounding down the paths and boardwalks. The most inspirational sight for me was an old man, maybe in his late seventies, clad only in his shorts and sports shoes jogging down the path. His naked torso was glistening with sweat in the morning sunshine. That was a picture perfect moment. I grabbed my camera and captured it for posterity.



We all continued beyond greens on to the boardwalk which meandered around the forest and at the edge of the reservoir. It was a nice feeling to be right next to nature, with the land on one side and water on the other. More runners jogged past us on the narrow boardwalk. Soon we reached the edge of the reservoir, at the golf course, and turned back. I was reminded of the Society’s Big Walk, which used to take place some years back. Personally I would like to see the Big Walk take place this year or perhaps next year. The route we have covered in the past has always been an exciting one, going through the MacRitchie reservoir, walking through the rifle range road, and finally climbing the summit of Bukit Timah hill in a matter of hours.



I walked back briskly with Krishnamurthy Uncle and joined the rest of the group. We traveled back with Rao uncle and reached Jayanthy Aunty and Rama Uncle’s house. After the prayers, meditation and announcements a sumptuous lunch awaited us. We enjoyed the delicious lunch and took leave. On the way back I reflected on the long month ahead with its school routine and felt recharged by the walk and prayers.



-Pranav