Guiding Light of The Month

O LORD, Thou art my refuge and my blessing, my strength, my health, my hope, and my courage. Thou art supreme Peace, unalloyed Joy, perfect Serenity. My whole being prostrates before Thee in a gratitude beyond measure and a ceaseless worship; and that worship goes up from my heart and my mind towards Thee like the pure smoke of incense of the perfumes of India. - The Mother

Maheshwari


Vast and serene as the infinite spaces,
Far away from our little earthly world,
And yet overarching and leaning down in a protective gesture-
The Mother of Light, the Mother of all-comprehending wisdom,
Throned on the highest heights,
Sheds, equal and unruffled, her benign compassion on obscure mortals,
Draws them infallibly ever nearer to her through the rolling ages-
Her very presence is the power that decrees, the grace that redeems.


-       ‘Maheshwari’ by Nolini Kanta Gupta

From the Editor’s Desk

In this February issue of our Newsletter, we continue with the exploration of The Mother’s symbol in its detailed layout. For a start, we take upon the four inner petals emanating from the central point for the next four issues. These four petals denote four aspects of The Mother, or Mahashakti, namely Maheshwari, Mahakali, Mahalakshmi and Mahasaraswati, all of which are set forth into the Universal creation that She may lead it from Darkness into Light, from Falsehood into Truth, from Death into Life. For the great psychological transformation that we aspire towards, four great influences or powers or forces or qualities seem to be the need of the hour, namely, Wisdom, Strength, Harmony and Perfection. The four Shaktis are the embodiment of these Forces. The leap of Mahashakti, the formidable possessor of all these forces into this world of darkness and division, disillusionment and pain is said to be an act of sacrifice, out of the fathomless Love of The Divine Mother for Her children.

The first inner petal that we are taking a glimpse of in this series is that which represents the force of Maheshwari, or the embodiment of Wisdom. She is an imperial regal force that sits above the “thinking mind and will”, the One who “opens us to the supramental infinities and the cosmic vastness… tranquil is she and wonderful, great and calm for ever… In each man she answers and handles the different elements of his nature according to their need and their urge and the return they call for, puts on them the required pressure or leaves them to their cherished liberty to prosper in the ways of the Ignorance or to perish.” (The Mother, by Sri Aurobindo). 

We have included two articles in this issue, each a meditation of sorts on the petals of the symbol and on Maheshwari, by Sonia Dyne and Ramalakshmi, respectively. These articles introduce different ways in which those associated with The Mother and familiar with Her symbol envision or perceive its meanings in their consciousness and therefore, in their lives.

This month, we also await with joy, The Mother’s 137th Birth Anniversary, to be observed on the 21st of February. This period of time reverberates with a magic all of its own. Upheavals there are, turmoils both within and without, as if The Mother comes with her fiat to break and re-mould, to create and recreate that we shall see the light of a new day, with a new consciousness at once light and enlightened, open and free, vast and limitless, on the way to at last know who one is, actually, in truth. The observation is that usually, when that special day nears, one would find oneself cleared of the baggage of the old, rusty past and instead be in a subtle contact with something of The Mother’s Grace. The occasion of The Mother’s birth anniversary is a period that offers us signposts to remember Her, to remember our relationship with Her with a greater intensity, perhaps, to know Her as our Giver and Protector, to open to Her Grace. During such a time, the collective consciousness around one is somewhat uplifted, giving us an opportunity to gather ourselves and make an offering of oneself to The Divine, in silence, from the depths of our being. This surrender finds itself coming easily on occasions such as this one. Sundari shares her poem on her love for The Mother.

The month of February also celebrates the birth of The City of Dawn or Auroville that The Mother inaugurated one week following Her 90th birthday. 

Now and henceforth, may we open ourselves to the force of Maheshwari and aspire for the higher living that she wants in all of us, and collaborate with her.

Savitri

A body like a parable of dawn
That seemed a niche for veiled divinity
Or golden temple door to things beyond.
Immortal rhythms swayed in her time-born steps;
Her look, her smile awoke celestial sense
Even in earth-stuff, and their intense delight
Poured a supernal beauty on men’s lives.
A magnanimity as of sea and sky
Enveloped with its greatness all that came
And gave a sense of a greatened world:
Her kindly care was a sweet temperate sun,
Her high passion a blue heaven’s equipoise.

A deep of compassion a hushed sanctuary,
Her inward help unbarred a gate in heaven;
Love in her was wider than the universe,
The whole world could take refuge in her single heart.

(Savitri, Book 1 Canto 2)


Question of the month (Feb 2015)

Who is The Mother ?

Q: Do you not refer to the Mother (our Mother) in your book “The Mother”?

A:  Sri Aurobindo : Yes.


Q: Is she not the “Individual” Divine Mother who has embodied “the power of these two vaster ways of existence”- Transcendent and Universal?

A:  Sri Aurobindo : Yes.


Q: Has she not descended here (amongst us) into Darkness and Falsehood and Error and Death in her deep and great love for us?

A:  Sri Aurobindo : Yes



(‘Sri Aurobindo on Himself and The Mother’, Sri Aurobindo Ashram Trust 1978, Published by Sri Aurobindo Ashram, Puducherry)

Amal Kiran On The Mother as Maheshwari

I have never seen the Mother as I saw her then. She was no longer human. Her whole body appeared to have become magnified and there was a light pervading her and the face was of a Goddess. I can only say that it was the face of Maheshwari. Sri Aurobindo has written of this aspect of the Divine Shakti: Imperial Maheshwari is seated in the wideness above the thinking mind and will and sublimates and greatens them into wisdom and largeness or floods with a splendour beyond them... Tranquil is she and wonderful, great and calm for ever... This was the first time I realised that when the Mother wants she can put forth the Divine Presence and Power completely into the physical being and manifest it... here before me was indeed a superhuman being without any veils.



(‘On The Mother’, K.R. Srinivasa Iyengar, Sri Aurobindo Society, Pondicherry)

Meditation on The Mother’s Symbol – A personal experience

(The word symbol comes from the Greek symbolon, which means contract. In its original meaning the symbol represented a greater whole by means of a part. The part guaranteed the presence of the whole.)*

Our contemporary world has lost much of the original meaning, so it is important to remember that the Mother’s symbol is more than just a beautiful design. Chosen by herself, it is already a part of herself, half of a Truth that promises the fullness of Truth to the seeker who is sincere. This I have known for a long time, and yet have never thought to mediate upon the symbolic image of a lotus in full bloom now lying on the table in front of me. Was it fear that held me back – the fear of being found wanting? I make a conscious effort to dismiss these thoughts, and with a silent mind prepare to receive whatever comes. I decide to make a record of it, because too often, when the mind returns to its usual preoccupation with immediate surroundings, insights and glimpses that occur in a state of meditation vanish like a dream.

I am looking at a beautiful representation of the symbol in which the twelve outer petals of the lotus are pictured in full colour. My eyes are immediately drawn to these colours and the named qualities associated with them: the red and orange shades of Courage, Progress and Receptivity; the yellow and golden tones of Aspiration and Perseverance merging into the light green of Gratitude; a darker green Humility becoming Sincerity’s blue and deepening into Peace; the purple of a spiritual Equality embracing the violet and magenta of Generosity and Goodness. I understand that wherever these qualities are found, the Mother’s presence is also there. But why these and no others? The mental consciousness will not be silent, loudly asserting its right to know! Why is Patience not here, though greatly valued by the Mother - we are told that she often wore a bracelet of ‘patience’ flowers around her wrist – and where is Humour, so highly prized by Sri Aurobindo himself? I push these questions aside, knowing that answers will come when I am ready to receive them. I begin to meditate on the relationship between the colours and the human qualities assigned to them.

In no time at all, it seems, I am inside the Mother’s room in the Ashram. I am very conscious of everything that is happening around me. Huta is there with one of her paintings and the Mother is giving her a lesson. She leans forward and says: ‘You see, these colours are lights.’ Of course they are! Suddenly the petals of the lotus are radiant like gemstones and I see them as delegated powers of the One Light. In a moment my consciousness becomes flooded with images from ages past when rich jewels adorned the breastplates of priests and the crowns and regalia of kings, prized not for their rarity and value but because they signified contact with the gods or a sign of their favour.

My gaze moves to the centre of the lotus and the four white heart-shaped petals. These symbolize the manifesting Powers to which Indian tradition has given the names Mahakali, Mahalakshmi, Maheshwari and Mahasaraswati. It is they, emerging from Shunya (the void) who preside over the evolution of the Earth. In imagination I separate the petals and pile them one on top of the other – there is no overlap. They too are One Light, and each contains the ‘wholeness’ of all the others. Gradually I find myself surrendering the power of thought to the power of imagination. I become aware of the ‘void’, represented by a tiny circle. (In reality it is not a void, but so-called because no human mind can comprehend its nature.)

All my attention is now fixed upon that little space, and I want to pass through it, to know what is on the other side. For a long time no thought or image arises but eventually words come up as if from a storehouse of memory: “(He) entered where Wings of Glory brood / In the sunlit space where all is forever known”. These evocative lines from ‘Savitri’ remind me of Sri Aurobindo’s quest and his vision of an integral Yoga for the transformation of the world. Only the soul or the perfected psychic being can pass through the eternal gates – the untransformed mental, vital and physical consciousness would be forced to abdicate in the intensity of the Light. They would be left behind and the world would continue to exist in the old way under the yoke of the powers of falsehood and death. A sudden longing rises in my heart for the rainbow coloursof the Lotus wheel, symbols of the path of transformation that is the Mother’s work.

But now I no longer need the printed picture. The lotus lives in the inner eye of imagination where it has a life and a vitality of its own: no longer an outline, an abstraction.  The one we call the Mother is a force in action and her symbol, no more ‘abstract’ than the telephone number of a friend, can be a means of making contact with a living Presence. The image of an old fashioned telephone with itscircular numbered dial intrudes upon my meditation and I smile at the thought of telephoning the Mother.

A finger of imagination touches the blue of a cloudless sky that the Mother has named Sincerity. The origin of this word goes back to antiquity, to a Latin phrase meaning “without wax.” It refers to the common practice of disguising faults and cracks in the marble used by sculptors by filling them in with wax, so that when painted over the flawed statue would appear to be perfect. The Mother called Sincerity above all ‘the transforming power’ and perhaps it is the most difficult of all the qualities for our human nature to sustain.

The colourful ring begins to turn – slowly at first, then faster and faster until the colours run together. The black lines separating the lotus petals disappear to reveal a brilliant rainbow of light in which every possible shade and variation of colour is contained. No longer can the qualities represented by those colours be separated in an arbitrary way. Perseverance embraces Patience, and a Humour that can laugh at self and smile in the face of adversity goes hand in hand with Courage. The lotus wheel continues to spin until finally there is only the blinding white light of the Mother – her diamond light.

“Rose of God, damask force of Infinity, red icon of might,
Rose of power with thy diamond halo piercing the night!
Ablaze in the will of the mortal, design the wonder of thy plan
Image of immortality, outbreak of the Godhead in man.”

How can it be that I have read Sri Aurobindo’s wonderful poem so many times, talked about it, written about it –always without seeing its intimate connection with the inner meaning of the Mother’s symbol? How could I not have recognized a mystical truth uniting the wheel of refracted colour as a symbol of earthly life and Sri Aurobindo’s “Rose of life, crowded with petals, colour’s lyre!”?  Meditating on these two symbols, the lotus and the rose, I see both arising from the shared consciousness of Sri Aurobindo and the Mother.

Memory takes me back many years to find myself once again in Singapore on a Sunday evening, listening to Mrs. Dhana read the opening words of the Mother’s prayer:

“My aspiration to Thee, O Lord, has taken the form of a beautiful rose, harmonious, full in bloom, rich in fragrance. I stretch it out to Thee with both arms in a gesture of offering and I ask of Thee: if my understanding is limited, widen it; if my knowledge is obscure, enlighten it; if my heart is empty of ardour, set it aflame; if my love is insignificant and egoistic, make it intense; if my feelings are ignorant and egoistic, give them the full consciousness in the Truth.”
(Prayers and Meditations 25.10.14)

It is a prayer I know very well and though I used to listen with love and admiration, I somehow never thought to make this prayer my own. And now at last I see this Rose not simply as an image of the Mother’s own aspiration, but as the special gift she was offering to everyone seated there in that room. Perhaps this is why meditation on a lotus turned into another chance to accept, with infinite gratitude, the gift of a rose. One could not wish for a greater blessing.

(*The definition of the word ‘symbol’ is taken from an article in Encyclopaedia Britannica)

-          Sonia Dyne


Mother of Wisdom : Maheshwari

Her personality of calm wideness and comprehending wisdom and tranquil benignity and inexhaustible compassion and sovereign and surpassing majesty and all-ruling greatness.

Sri Aurobindo begins his description of Maheshwari by calling her “Imperial Maheshwari” – she is the Divine Ruler. When I first read about her, I imagined a remote figure. She was beautiful, seated on a throne, and seemed far above my own world. In one sense, my first instinct was correct: she governs us – our inner being and its aspirations and, in true spirit of governance, she appears removed from the immediacy of our struggles. Yet, because she is also the embodiment of “inexhaustible compassion,” her throne, her seat of governance, is never inaccessible to us. Sri Aurobindo says “even her rejections are only a postponement; even her punishments are a grace.” How beautiful – I feel emboldened when I read that. She does not say “no” only “not yet.”

We see a measure of this compassion in ‘Savitri’,

Out of her hushed eternal spaces leaned
The great and boundless Goddess feigned to yield
The sunlit sweetness of her secrecies.
Book 2 Canto XI

When we seek to understand All-Wisdom, she “feigns to yield” her secret – much as when a child grabs her mother’s skirt and thinks that her grip is holding her mother in place. Instead, it is the mother’s love for the child which is allowing the child to believe that she can control her mother by gripping her skirt. It is the Mother’s love and Her compassion that permits my thought-bound experience to become aware of Her. Sri Aurobindo says that Maheshwari is seated “above the thinking mind.” I always imagined this seat as far away because so much of my day is spent in the thinking mind. What I value most in life is the excitement when encountering a new idea, the joy of going beyond a thorny perspective, and the satisfaction of recognizing a wider truth. All these seem to me entirely the right things to do if I am to grow. Yet, all of these activities happen within the thinking mind. All these activities are in the realm of knowledge, not wisdom. In the space above the thinking mind lies a field of awareness – of feeling as well as thinking. When I think of the word “Love” in that space, it is both an embodied concept (those I love) and a movement within me (what I feel). “Love” in this space is also an access to something greater than my physical, mental or emotional ability. I sense its largeness even if I cannot articulate it or enter the experience of it. This awareness of something greater – that is the beginnings of my understanding of Maheshwari’s presence. The nearest example is of my parents who are presently far from me geographically and yet, when I am speaking to them on the phone, or thinking of them, they are not far at all. I experience both their nearness and their physical distance at the same time. My awareness of the Divine Mother is much the same: when I am trying to articulate the experience, words fail and she seems remote; yet, when I move beyond merely articulating what I know into experiencing her, she is very near.

This distinction between knowledge and wisdom is central to my understanding of the Mother as Maheshwari. To know her, they say, is to love her. How beautifully we glide from the mental to emotional. Just so, if we know her within, we become aware of her and it is in this awareness that we begin our journey in the paths of wisdom. Sri Aurobindo describes how Maheshwari grants us access “to the treasure-house of miraculous knowledge.” The OED defines a miracle as “a surprising and welcome event that is not explicable by natural or scientific laws” and knowledge as “the theoretical or practical understanding of a subject.” These two elements (miracle and knowledge) in my mind have always been exclusive – if you understand something, how does it retain its wonder, how does it remain inexplicable? So when Sri Aurobindo tells us that Maheshwari gives access to miraculous knowledge, he challenges my easy categories. This passage reinforces something Professor Nadkarni once mentioned. He was quoting the Mother who talked about how our perception of a miracle needs to alter. We need to see even the ordinary as part of the miracle wrought by the Divine. Here is her response:

A miracle is nothing but a sudden descent, a bursting forth of another consciousness and its powers — most often it is the powers of the vital — into this plane of matter. There is a precipitation, upon the material mechanism, of the mechanism of a higher plane. It is as though a lightning flash tore through the cloud of our ordinary consciousness and poured into it other forces, other movements and sequences. The result we call a miracle, because we see a sudden alteration, an abrupt interference with the natural laws of our own ordinary range, but the reason and order of it we do not know or see, because the source of the miracle lies in another plane. Such incursions of the worlds beyond into our world of matter are not very uncommon, they are even a constant phenomenon, and if we have eyes and know how to observe we can see miracles in abundance.
–  ‘Questions and Answers (1929 – 31)

“To see miracles in abundance” is to be granted access to the treasure-house of miraculous knowledge; to know with a deeper knowledge that will encompass our senses and go beyond into an awareness of what lies beyond our perception.  So what holds me back from this knowledge? My own limited aspirations – distracting me from this treasure-house. I am like the explorer who discovers the vast treasure rooms and gets distracted by glories of the outer chambers instead of venturing to the heart where the greatest treasure will be available. But it is the grace and sweetness of Maheshwari that she ensures that despite distractions, we will all be granted this wisdom, this access to Divine Truth.


-          Ramalakshmi

Ramalakshmi Janamanchi has grown up in our Centre and was introduced to ‘Savitri’ by Professor Nadkarni and Mrs. Sonia Dyne. Now a mother of two, she lives in Cleveland, Ohio and is a member of our virtual community. We are glad to include another of her insightful articles in this issue of our Newsletter.   

Ma – My Mother

A ravishing smile on Her lips, true Love emanating
Whose is this finite Body of the Bodiless Infinity?
I glimpsed Her Motherly Form virtually embracing
Like a magnet drawing our being towards Her Beauty

A healing touch on the head with her tender palm
Bestowing the strength to face struggle and strife
A look direct into my eyes leading to inner realm
She assures each child 'I am for you alone in life'

Gone are my Ego's identity and body's existence
A vacant mind with gracious Force fully charged
Floating on the ocean of her nurturing Presence
To rest in this state for ever is what I desired

She who leads us through cycles of birth and death
Stands invisible, lest slip or fall in haste we might
From illusion to reality oblivious of our real worth

At each step our Loving Mother holds our hands tight.

- Sundari

The Matrmandir

(This February 21st, we celebrate the 44th Anniversary of the laying of the foundation stone of the Matrmandir, in Auroville, Pondicherry.)



A seed shall be sown in Death’s tremendous hour,
A branch of heaven transplant to human soil;
Nature shall overleap her mortal step;
Fate shall be changed by an unchanging will.

-          Sri Aurobindo, Savitri

December- January Sunday Activities at the Centre – A glimpse

28th Dec 2014:  Meditation on ‘Savitri’, Book IX – (The Book of Eternal Night)
Savitri follows Yama into the dark realms of Death to finally conquer Death. She travels through various worlds to ultimately transform Death by the Force of Divine Love and usher in the descent of Immortality upon this earth.
A few of our members tried to recollect some quotes from senior Sadhaks who had given some explanations. Savitri, the Divine Mother herself descends into Prakriti in human form to transform the Earthly life into Life Divine; She travels through the realms of Night and Ignorance to show us the path towards victory and lead us towards Light and Truth.
We cannot grasp or try to explain these lines of Savitri's experiences through Inner Realms with our peripheral and physical mind. Instead a silent watching of the inspired paintings by Huta and a meditative reading would serve to carry us deeper towards these experiences.

1st Jan 2015: New Year Meditation
We had gathered around 11 pm on 31st night and continued reading 'Prayers and Meditations' followed by a long meditation until midnight. Then the Darshan message was read. Next morning from 11 am to noon, a similar program was conducted. We feel very delighted that we are still able to continue carrying on with this practice of midnight meditation and welcoming of the New Year in a contemplative manner as first initiated by Divine Mother in 1927.
The New Year message for 2015 was:
 "In the world of forms a violation of Beauty is as great a fault as a violation of Truth in the world of ideas. For Beauty is the worship Nature offers to the supreme Master of the universe; Beauty is the divine language of forms. And a consciousness of the Divine which is not translated externally by an understanding and expression of Beauty would be an incomplete consciousness."                                                                                                          - The Mother.
3rd Jan 2015: A Musical offering by Premsheela
Premsheela, a student of Karunamaye-di of Sri Aurobindo Ashram – Delhi Branch, gave a musical offering at our centre on 3rd Jan from 6 to 7pm. She is a well-trained Hindustani music teacher closely associated with Delhi Ashram and regularly offers her voluntary services for training students at Matri Kala Mandir.
She offered invocations in Hindi (text and music composed by devotees) for Sri Aurobindo and Mother. She began her offering with Mantras in Sanskrit and ended with Shivoham. She sang compositions from the devotional saint-poets of India in her melodious rhythmic voice vibrating an atmosphere of Bhakti Yoga. All were transported into a world of joy and peace. It reminded me of the great saint-poet Tyagaraja's Kirtana 'Sanjeeta Gyanamu Bhakti Vina' (knowledge of music without Bhakti is of no use);
Mother says: "Music follows the rule of all things on earth - unless they are turned to the Divine they cannot be divine. The role of music lies in helping the consciousness uplift itself towards the spiritual heights."

4th Jan 2015 : Yoga workshop
In the Synthesis of Yoga, Sri Aurobindo wrote, ‘The chief processes of Hathayoga are Asanas and Pranayama. By its numerous Asanas or fixed postures, it first cures the body of that restlessness which is a sign of its inability to contain without working them off in action and movement the vital forces poured into it from the universal Life-Ocean, gives to it an extraordinary health, force and suppleness and seeks to liberate it from the habits by which it is subjected to ordinary physical Nature and kept within the narrow bounds of her normal operations…. By various subsidiary but elaborate processes the Hathayogin next contrives to keep the body free from all impurities and the nervous system unclogged for those exercises of respiration which are his most important instruments.’ [SABCL vol. 20, p.291]
Debiprasad, a yoga trainer and teacher at Mother's International School, Sri Aurobindo Ashram – Delhi Branch, had conducted a Yoga workshop from 6pm to 8pm for 25 enthusiastic members from our Society.
The two hours session was divided into three parts: Explanation, Demonstration and Training of the participants, with innovative games to exemplify the concept of vibrations and energy layers around us and how to sense them.
He has briefly explained to us the meaning of the basic Suktas (theorems) from the ancient texts on Hathayoga concepts (ShatKriya, Asana, Pranayana, Mudra, Bandana, Kundalini), the Rajayoga for control of mind and vital Pranic energy, the Astanga Yoga of Patanjali (yama niyama-āsana prāāyāma pratyāhāra dhāraā dhyāna samādhayo-'ṣṭāvagāni ||29||The limbs of the eight-fold path are as follows: respect for others (yama) and yourself (niyama); harmony with your body (asana), your energy (pranayama), your thoughts (dharana), and your emotions (pratyahara); contemplation (dhyana); ecstasy (samadhi) ||29||).
Then, he has made us practically do by demonstrating the basic Asanas (postures) required for detoxification and reenergizing of the different parts of our body from toes to head. The Pranayamic techniques were shown, simultaneously mentioning their respective benefits on our different parts of the body.
The last part consisted of a few games to experience the energy vibrations. This was something very new and we all enjoyed it very much.

11th Jan 2015 : Readings from The Mother’s Writings

We took up readings from the Book “Questions and Answers” Volume 8 which is the compilation of Mother’s answers after her “Talks” to questions by students, teachers and Sadhaks of the Ashram in her Wednesday classes in 1956.

Question no 1- Sweet Mother, What does Sri Aurobindo mean by an integral idea of the Divine?
Mother answers that it is quite natural for us to have certain idea of divine depending on our own nature and mental preferences. But we have to realise that the Divine is much beyond our understanding and infinite.

Everything in this Universe comes from the Divine.
Only our ignorance says this is Divine and that is not Divine.
With complete surrender and being an observer and without having a fixed idea of the Divine, if we see everything as a part of Divine’s perpetual movement in the expanding universe and ask for HIS guidance, we will achieve an integral idea of the Divine.

17th Jan 2015 : Partho’s Session – The Practice of Yoga in Daily Life

On 17th Jan 2014, we had a conversation on ”the practice of yoga in daily life". This was conducted by Partho da, who had done a similar exercise at the Delhi Ashram and was in Singapore last week. The talk was attended by a small but involved audience.

For me the two key takeaways from the conversation were:

1. The importance of being conscious of our breathing, be aware when it gets disturbed and consciously try to get back to the regular state as soon as possible.

2. Thoughts are a result of things put in from the outside, and we must be wary of associating ourselves strongly with them

Partho da promised to let us know the next time he was in Singapore so that we can have more of these sessions.

- Sundari and Jayalakshmi

Along the Way… January 2015 - A Walk to remember

On the morning of the 4th of January 2015, the first Sunday of the month as well as the New Year, a dozen enthusiastic and energetic members of the Sri Aurobindo Society, Singapore, gathered near the Turtle Museum at the Chinese Garden to begin their monthly group walks. This tradition is unique to the Society in Singapore and has been occurring regularly for the past 40 years since its inception.

We began at 8am with a few routine warm up exercises followed by chanting OM together.  This simple task of chanting OM in the early morning sunlight against a backdrop of the garden's tranquillity and greenery was in itself refreshing and invigorating. True to its name the garden exemplified Chinese landscaping, its architecture and culture. The Bonsai Garden, The Twin Pagodas, The Japanese Garden, The Turtle Museum and the stone bridges all captivated us . The meandering paths through a plethora of flora and fauna made it a perfect paradise for joggers, picnic goers and casual strollers. We even spotted a monitor lizard that is said to be a descendant of dinosaurs! For those who haven’t visited the park I strongly encourage you to do so and maybe even try climbing the Chinese Pagoda or kayaking at lakeside.

Apart from exercise, the walk was also an excellent opportunity to meet new people, engage in interesting conversation and make new friends. After about two hours we moved to Kiruthika akka's house, this month's hostess where the fun and gaiety continued all the way until noon. After meditation and prayer, we were treated to a sumptuous brunch which was definitely the highlight of the day. From pizza and pasta to idlis and sambhar rice I can say we were spoilt for choice, a delicious choice at that!

All in all it was a good beginning to the New Year and I look forward to participating in future SAS walks! A big thank you to Ramanathan Uncle for coordinating the walk, Kiruthika akka and family for hosting the brunch and to all those who attended and made the day a spiritual and fun experience.
-          Kavya Ashok
*****
The first month of the 2015 is allocated to the famous nature park, The Chinese and The Japanese Gardens situated on the small islands of Jurong East connected by a majestic arched bridge. Strolling along the architectural and cultural replica of buildings and statues, we got transported to the cultural world of China and Japan. The main characteristic of these gardens was an integration of splendid architectural features of historical importance with natural environment.
This park is accessible via the Mass Rapid Transit (MRT). We assembled at a commonly decided location and walked in small groups observing the various places of interest all. For our first time guests, Debiprasad and Premsheela from Delhi Ashram, it was like a short but complete view of cultural China and Japanese environment.
The brunch was hosted at Kiruthika's place in Bukit Batok and the entire family of three generations equally contributed to the arrangements and sumptuous brunch consisting of Indian and western recipes. After the Prayers and Meditation session, we were very much attracted to watch and understand the different technical innovations executed by Sophia and Anjali under their father's guidance while eating our brunch.
The gathering resembled a huge joint family and all were busy sharing and talking to one another    affectionately. We all eagerly wait for this monthly occasion that energizes and closely bonds us together as members of Sri Aurobindo Society, Singapore.

- Sundari

Bonne Fête Douce Mère!