Guiding Light of The Month

One must be always vigilant, attentive to the least call, so as not to be asleep or inert when Thou givest the signal for action, whether with the mind, the feelings or the body. - The Mother

MAHASARASWATI



Botanical Name: Rondeletia odorata
Common Name: Rondeletia, Panama-rose.
Spritual Significane: Mahasaraswati’s Perfection in Works
It is not satisfied with makeshift – The Mother
 
MAHASARASWATI

MAHASARASWATI is the Mother’s Power of Work and her spirit of perfection and order. The youngest of the four, she is the most skilful in executive faculty and the nearest to physical Nature. 

Always she holds in her nature and can give to those whom she has chosen the intimate and precise knowledge, the subtlety and patience, the accuracy of intuitive mind and conscious hand and discerning eye of the perfect worker.
-          Sri Aurobindo:The Mother”

From the Editor’s Desk (May 2015)

The last, and youngest of the four Shaktis of the Divine Mother, Mahasaraswati, The Power of Work and with that, “the spirit of perfection and order” is the subject of this issue’s scrutiny. Mahasaraswati is the force that executes the manifestation of the Divine plan upon earth with detailed, precise organisation. The collaborative Powers of Wisdom, Force and Harmony lend their services amicably to the power of Work for that manifestation of the Divine Will in earth consciousness.
 
In our day to day earthly living, therefore, Mahasaraswati certainly has an uncontested place, the opportunity of manifesting and carrying out her work in our midst, in us. What then is the semblance of this Force of Work that we can associate with or at least recognize?
 
According to Sri Aurobindo, Mahasaraswati’s domain is in the “… detail of organization and execution, relation of parts and effective combination of forces and unfailing exactitude of result and fulfillment.” For this reason, Sri Aurobindo points out the force of Mahasaraswati to be closest to the physical substance or material and hence the importance of Her invocation in our hearts and midst.
 
Who are the “workers” under Mahasaraswati’s direct purview? Sri Aurobindo lists them out clearly – “… the careful and efficient builder, organizer, administrator, technician, artisan and classifier of the worlds.” Certain traits of the worker show to be characteristic of Mahasaraswati’s effort and action  - “laborious and minute…. Slow and interminable (to our eyes), persistent, integral and flawless” with a will that is “scrupulous, unsleeping, indefatigable…” To clarify and qualify the previous statements of Mahasarawati’s qualities, let’s look at what, to Mahasaraswati, is unacceptable. What Mahasaraswati abhors in works is “carelessness and negligence and indolence…. hasty and shuffling work, all clumsiness and a peu pres and misfire, all false adaptation and, misuse of instruments and faculties and leaving of things undone or half done…”
 
It is here, through the description of the Mahasaraswati force that Sri Aurobindo places before us as attitudes in the way we work, those that would lead us towards perfection in the work done, both in its end and means, of apt work done aptly, in the apt place and time with just the needed effort and effect. A turn towards our own work, a placing of that work along the lines of what we have described would reveal to us inner changes one has to bring about before a work of perfection can be attempted. It also appears true that it is through works, and the result of which that shows up the consciousness put into it. It is also true then, that through works, one can work on one’s nature and bring in more and more perfection in one’s attitude, way of being and the work expressed through one’s hands.
 
Invocation of Mahasaraswati, and the worship and adoration of Her simply would point to a refined quality of work. For this reason, India perhaps worships the Mahasaraswati aspect of the Devi and asks of Her the change in consciousness needed to increasing perfection of work done at the right time and with due consideration of the means before one.

Savitri

All mights and greatnesses shall join in her;
Beauty shall walk celestial on the earth,
Delight shall sleep in the cloud-net of her hair
And in her body as on his homing tree
Immortal Love shall bear his glorious wings.
A music of griefless things shall weave her charm;
The harps of the Perfect shall attune her voice,
The streams of Heaven shall murmur in her laugh,
Her lips shall be the honeycombs of God,
Her limps his golden jars of ecstasy,
Her breasts the rapture-flowers of Paradise.
She shall bear Wisdom in her voiceless bosom,
Strength shall be with her like a conqueror’s sword
And from her eyes the Eternal’s bliss shall gaze.
 
(Book Three, Canto Four)
 
Her look, her smile awoke celestial sense
Even in earth-stuff, and their intense delight
Poured a supernal beauty on men’s lives.
A wide self-giving was her native act;
A magnanimity as of sea or sky
Enveloped with its greatness all that came
And gave a sense of a greatened world:
 
(Book One, canto Two)
 

Question of the month (May 2015)

Q:  Is it true that it is mostly the Mahasaraswati aspect of the Mother that works in our sadhana here?

A. Sri Aurobindo: At present since the sadhana came down to the physical consciousness - or rather it is a combination of Maheshwari - Mahasaraswati forces.

Q: I am always in touch with the Mother during work. Not only do I remember her but the contact with her remains during work. Her Force constantly flows into the Adhar and the work is done automatically, but swiftly, perfectly, unhesitatingly - without personal anxieties and responsibilities; instead, there is confidence, sureness, strength, calmness. I feel that if I can do work in this attitude, it will be perfect, flawless, the work of the Mother’s child, not of an egoistic man. Kindly let me know if I am correct.

A: Sri Aurobindo: Yes, it is very good progress and the first step towards the right use of the Power of action. 

Q: Today while engaged in work I felt a peaceful energy and something like ice touching my head. Then the knowledge came to me with a strong feeling and vision that though the Mother is not physically near us, she is always present near and around us and is constantly removing all kinds of difficulties with the touch of her affectionate hand. Was this a vision or realisation? Through what consciousness did it come to me?
 
A: Sri Aurobindo:  It is a realisation attended with vision and feeling. It is psychic and the mental together that produced it.

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

The Mother on Art and Yoga


“But does an artist feel at all any impulse to create once he takes up Yoga?” 

Why should he not have the impulse? He can express his relation with the Divine in the way of his art, exactly as he would in any other. If you want art to be the true and highest art, it must be the expression of a divine world brought down into this material world. All true artists have some feeling of this kind, some sense that they are intermediaries between a higher world and this physical existence. If you consider it in this light, Art is not very different from Yoga. But most often the artist has only an indefinite feeling, he has not the knowledge. Still, I knew some who had it; they worked consciously at their art with the knowledge. In their creation they did not put forward their personality as the most important factor; they considered their work as an offering to the Divine, they tried to express by it their relation with the Divine. 

This is the avowed function of Art in the Middle Ages. The “primitive” painters, the builders of cathedrals in Mediaeval Europe had no other conception of art. In India all her architecture, her sculpture, her painting have proceeded from this source and were inspired by this ideal. The songs of Mirabai and the music of Thyagaraja, the poetic literature built up by her devotees, saints and Rishis rank among the world’s greatest possessions.

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

MAHASARASWATI

Supreme Artisan and Fashioner of perfection,
Atom by atom she builds up the world- she is slow, patient, faultless.
And by her consummate craftsmanship the universe- and each object
In the universe-
Is a marvel of pattern, a model of divine arabesque,
A carefully wrought jewel.
Hers is the keen eye, hers the deft finger, the sure handling
And they compel intractable Matter
To bend and bow down to her as to its sovereign Mistress.
She is the growing divinity within us that like inevitable fate
Is slowly taking possession of our human life,

She is moulding it as she wills it to be-
A vessel and an instrument - a visible embodiment
Of the Consciousness, the Power, the Bliss
Of the Divine Mother.

- Nolini Kanta Gupta
 
( To The Heights, Vers Les Hauteurs, Nolini Kanta Gupta, Sri Aurobindo International Centre of Education, Pondicherry)
 

The Mother: Some Insights- Mahasaraswati

The fourth aspect of Mahasaraswati is not just one of work but one of a detailed perfection in work, which the Mother insisted should be practised by all the sadhaks. She appreciated most the work in which a conscious and detailed effort was put, in which perfection was attained or at least attempted. There were many sadhaks and sadhikas at that time who worked with that attitude. In the Embroidery Department for example some of the sadhikas would stitch minute detailed patterns which Mother appreciated so much. Today we are told by those who are in the field that such a detailed work is not to be found so easily elsewhere in the modern world.

But there were also those who did not practise this part of perfection in work. And the Mother would subtly bring to their attention their lacunas. When the Cottage Industries was started, the person in charge had arranged everything very neatly because the Mother was coming for the opening. But when the Mother entered the building, instead of going to the place meant for her, she walked up to a shed in a corner and opened it. All unwanted things that were to be kept out of sight were just heaped up inside. This was indication enough that the standard of neatness that she expected was not just a superficial arrangement. 

There was another incident which comes to mind which occurred during the printing of the Centenary Edition of Sri Aurobindo’s books. The first copy of each volume was taken to the Mother by the person supervising the printing. He recalls how on one occasion when he took a new volume to her, she took the book in her hands, opened on a particular page and without searching put her finger on a misspelled word. Then she said. “I want it to be perfect”. It was a very deep experience for him that changed his whole style of working. With just a few gestures, with a few indications, she would convey not just the lesson but the capacity to overcome one’s limitation. 

These are a sampling of incidents that revealed the four aspects of the Mother working at a personal level in daily life. But the aspects exist at the Universal as well as the Transcendent level where the whole organisation of the cosmos is involved.
 
(The Mother: Some Insights, Sraddalu Ranade, Service Letter Februrary 1996)

March – April Sunday Activities at the Centre – A glimpse

March was a busy month in Sri Aurobindo Society Singapore. We had Dr. Anand Reddy and Deep Shikha didi from Pondicherry visiting us. With their help we had a series of special programmes in the center. This was kicked off with an evening of musical offering by Didi on 20thMarch, where she rendered several invocations and bhajans in her sweet melodious voice. It was a fitting start to the rest of the activities.  

March 21st and 22nd – Batam Trip: 

The trip to Batam, an Indonesian island near Singapore by ferry was organised by Sri Aurobindo Center, Singapore. We were a group of 27 people. The main “Ananda” in this spiritual retreat was Dr. Ananda Reddy and his wife Deepshika accompanied us. 

21st  March 

We were booked in a very comfortable resort Harris. We had lunch after arriving at 12 noon there. At 4PM we assembled in the conference room there, where we had a question and answer session beginning with Deepshika’s devotional music on the Mother. The questions ranged from “what is the aim of Life” to “what are the parameters to know our inner progress”? 

Dr. Ananda Reddy brought out the real essence of “What is Sri Aurobindo’s yoga and The Mother’s assurance that She will do our yoga. Our part is only to remember Her and surrender all our activities to Her.  

22nd March: 

The answers to the questions of our group continued on the 2nd day and the methods of meditation were given by Dr Ananda Reddy. The main takeaways were unless we get in touch with our Psychic being not much can be achieved in our sadhana. We are too engrossed in our outer life that we ignore the call of our psychic being. In the right kind of meditation, not the “slumber of consciousness” but a dynamic one calling the forces to descend on you rather than reaching them above. To call down the Forces and Peace, sitting down comfortably and quietly until the Peace settles in your heart which gives an unchanging “INNER SAMATA” and the Spiritual delight which are the parameters to know that you are in the right path. Our heartfelt thanks to Saurab, Preethi, K.V Rao, Shailaja and Anuvrat for everything so heavenly arranged! 

March 27th, 28th and 29thTalk by Dr. Ananda Reddy at our Sri Aurobindo center, Singapore: 

The first nectar of his talk to us was to read Life Divine and be a Sunlit Temple for the Divine in us. Divine can be perceived as a Creator, Judge, King, Father, and in Gita Lord Krishna addresses Arjuna as His friend. Even the perception of connection with the Lord has gone through an evolutionary process. Now it has taken the form of being a child to the Mother and surrender all our actions, thoughts and feelings to Her. She will take us through in the sadhana. She has made our journey so easy only if we are sincere in our aspiration! 

Dr. Ananda Reddy talked with a divine passion about his inner growth right from his young age being personally with the Mother. He could see Her as the incarnations of 4 powers, Mahalakshmi, Maheshwari, Mahakali and Mahasaraswati. He also related that now our aim in life should be shifted from leading a comfortable life to leading a Divine life. Mother is a transformative force, to help us evolve in our Consciousness. 

On the third day Dr. Ananda Reddy talked about what Sri Aurobindo says on the Rebirth and the soul’s journey in the intermediary worlds between Death and Rebirth. Fundamentally Sri Aurobindo says we are only antennae of the receivers from the different worlds even the disturbing feelings of jealousy or greed. Only getting connected to our Psychic being frees us from receiving all the unwanted “JUNK”. Now our journey to our own inner Psychic being feels like an Interstellar journey to a distant star! 

Dr. Ananda Reddy and Deepshika brought a new dynamic force to our kind of stagnant and shallow spirituality. Invocation songs sung so beautifully with deep devotion by Deepshika before every session gave us a peaceful mind cordoning of our routine thoughts to absorb Dr. Ananda Reddy’s valuable insights on how to lead a Divine Life! 

Our humble gratitude to both Dr. Ananda Reddy and Deepshika for making time for us!

 March 22nd and April 5th

Reading of the article on Mahakali and Mahalakshmi written by our dear Ramalakshmi in March and April Newsletter respectively. She has so beautifully shared her experience of how the images of Mahakali and Mahalakshmi have changed from her childhood days to now. Now she sees in the Mother, Mahakali who drives away all the fears and gives immense love for her children and Mahalakshmi who not only bestows the material wealth but also the joy of spiritual wealth.

Thank you, dear Ramalakshmi for sharing your experiences, the personal touch you have given really makes it an absorbing one!  

-          Shailaja, Jayalakshmi

Along the Way... April 2015 Morning Walk No. 356 – A Review



(Lower Peirce Reservoir, Singapore - Pictures by Kiran) 

The location chosen for the morning walk on 5th April was just right for the kind of natural beauty that we strive to look for, amidst the concrete blocks that we normally see in Singapore. That was Lower Peirce Reservoir.

The Lower Peirce Reservoir, Singapore's second-oldest reservoir, was built by impounding the upper reaches of the Kallang River and was commissioned in 1912. The forest that lines its banks is considered a mature secondary rainforest and is still dotted with numerous rubber trees and oil palms – visible reminders of a past when vast areas of Singapore were covered with plantations. The reservoir was renamed the Peirce Reservoir in recognition of Robert Peirce, who was the Municipal Engineer of Singapore from 1901 to 1916. It only acquired its current name in 1975, after the Upper Peirce Reservoir was built.

Next to the reservoir are a few semi-detached bungalows and there is a road that separates them. As such there are a few entrances to the reservoir. However as the car park stated in the location was very prominent, it helped all of us to get together at the meeting point, albeit a bit late. 

It was a pleasant morning. The lush greenery along the side of the reservoir and the tranquil atmosphere was just nice for all of us to fall in love with the place and fully enjoy the beauty of Mother Nature. 

Just before we started off, we saw a group of elderly people exercising in the pleasant weather. After the warming up session, we started off for a good start. We were quite amazed to see the board walk that appeared to be just a few feet above the water. As we moved along the board walk, the feeling was that we were walking on water, with the greenery on one side and the water on the other. You can also see the interpretative boards on the flora and fauna found in the forest, bum rest, scenic view and picnic points located along the boardwalk. 

Along the way, there were good directional signs and informative boards, describing the birds and reptiles that were the habitats. There are some majestic trees which are over 100 years old in the forest. Some other interesting plants that you can spot here include pitcher plants and the Nibong Palm. The common wildlife that resides in this reservoir includes Long-tailed Macaques, Oriental Whip Snakes and the occasional White-bellied Sea Eagle flying above the reservoir. Freshwater species such as Snakeheads can also be found in the waters of the reservoir.

 

As I was walking along the timber boarding, I heard some holy hymns and naturally my feet took that way. As I walked along the boardwalk, I heard a powerful chanting of mantras (hymns) by Mr Krishnamurthy and Mr Ramanathan. It was such a lovely experience, hearing the chanting of the Mantras in the tranquil atmosphere, amidst the lush greenery. Hearing, chanting, remembering, obeying, worshipping, praying, serving, rendering friendship and surrendering to the Lord are nine great activities, as described in Srimad Bhagvad Geeta. We had the pleasure of hearing the holy mantras in that wonderful atmosphere. The power of the mantras, as described by Mr Krishnamurthy was to invoke different Gods, including Varuna. And Lo!  Obviously, without surprise, it did happen. As we were about to finish the walk, there was heavy downpour. We just managed to come to the shed at the exit and there were a few lucky ones, who totally got drenched. 

We waited for a while for the intensity of the downpour to reduce, and then we started off to Mr Krishnamurthy’s house, where we all were given a warm welcome by all the members of Mr Krishnamurthy’s family. Needless to say, the brunch was excellent, with the taste of the idlis, vadas and the halwa still lingering on the taste buds. The first Sunday walk of the month reminds us of the walk of life. There is love and peace in Nature. Just enjoy it, being in The service of the Lord.

 Looking forward to the Lovely and Lively Sunday walk in May.

-          Kiran
Acknowledgement: Thanks to NParks web site for some descriptions mentioned in this write up. 

The Walk, from the eyes of a child…. 

The morning walk for this month was on April 5th. It was at the Lower Peirce Reservoir. We walked along many trails. Some of the trails that we walked along were - Lower Peirce trail, Bamboo trial, and Hevea trail.  We had a wonderful time walking among the reservoir's trees, plants, and bushes. After a while it started to rain heavily and we had to look for shelter. We waited for the rain to stop but it did not. So we split ourselves into groups. We got to the hosts' house for a nice meditation and brunch.  

-       Ananya

The Banyan Talks...


Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi offers tributes to Sri Aurobindo at Paris


Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi, on April 10, 2015, arrived at the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation (UNESCO) headquarters at Paris, where he paid his respects and offered flowers at the bronze statue of Sri Aurobindo.

In his speech, he referred to Sri Aurobindo and his teachings, saying: “Outside this hall, I paid respect at the statue of a great Indian philosopher and sage, Sri Aurobindo. There is much that we can learn from his humanism and spiritualism, from his belief in the unity of individual consciousness with the world outside; the enlightened purpose of education; the service of science; and, the unity of world, founded on national freedom, diversity of civilizations and autonomy of culture.”

The complete video of his speech can be watched at this link - https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Mbl7dfwGEpU

Changing frames



In ceaseless motion round the purple rim
Day after day sped by like coloured spokes,
And through a glamour of shifting hues of air
The seasons drew in linked significant dance
The symbol pageant of the changing year.
 
(Savitri, Book four, Canto 1)

It is an art to learn to embrace change. In our lives, work and also within ourselves. Sometimes it is like a gentle soft turn as a flowing smooth river; sometimes it is a tornado that moves us to the other side. A smile welcomes this change and a trust makes the change always for good. When we live with awareness, we notice that it is the inner change that brings forth the outer change.

The varying frames of the planet as it sings along with the happy sun are marks of change, beautiful lessons nature gives us. In our mostly monotonous lives, the changing seasons bring a fresh thought in our mind each time. We look forward to spring when it is winter, to monsoon when it is summer. And for most part of the earth, it is summer waves that are blowing now!  

Yummy mangoes adorn the stalls and we delight at the sight of fresh coconut water. Fans swing to breeze off the heat entering through windows. We find a few exclaiming, ‘oh! The Sun is too hot!! Just touch my head – it is burning’ as they walk on the roads. This reminds me of a chapter in the book “Stories told by the Mother Part -1” where she talks about a group of French people who learnt to make friendship with the sun instead of grumbling about its fierceness during summer. 

We find children moving around with a happy glee in their eyes. It is their mid – year break! Exams are over and they are out into the gardens running around and catching each other. It is beautiful to watch a group of kids splashing in a pool of water unmindful of the scorching sun. And rarely, there is a welcome song, a short rainfall stroking the dry earth with a fragrant touch. This rainfall happens without much cloud, along with the shining sun. There will be a yellow light present during the shower and usually at homes, a cheerful phrase comes by at this time – ‘the crow and sparrow are getting married!!’  

There is a place where indeed the prince of the sky makes friendship with the people. It is a small town with ringing cycle bells and waves of ocean musically splashing on the black stones. A place where the majestic sun does the most sacred work of stroking a radiant diamond. It spreads from there, as a treasure, deep into all our hearts.

-          Sandhya

References:
·         Stories told by The Mother – Part 1. Chapter – Friendship with the Sun.


Golden Swan


A Tanjore Artwork done by Sandhya

Mahalakshmi








Common Name: Water lily
Botanical Name: Nymphea
Spritual Significane: Integral Wealth of Mahalakshmi
Wealth in all domains and all activities, intellectual, psychological, material, in feeling and action. – The Mother

Mahalakshmi

Mother of Delight
Of Love that moves the sun and stars!
She is the Rapture that quickens our inmost heart,
She is Beauty’s self that enthrals our earthly senses;
In her is the whole meaning of existence.

(A verse from Nolini Kanta Gupta's poem Mahalakshmi, To the heights, Vers Les Hauteurs)

From the Editor’s Desk (Apr 2015)

We caught glimpses of the power of Force and Wisdom in the last two issues of our Newsletter. We became acquainted with the idea of the need of wisdom and force in working towards the expression of the Divine. However, these Powers are not the only Powers embodied by the Divine, nor are they alone sufficient in expressing the Divine in fullness. In this April issue of our Newsletter, we carry the fragrance of Mahalakshmi, whose power of Harmony and Beauty enhance the Powers of Force and Wisdom.

To just mention aloud, “Mahalakshmi”, or to hold her high in one’s thoughts, to keep her folded in the lotus of one’s heart, to partake of her form with one’s vision is to invoke the embodiment of Beauty, Love, Joy, Harmony and more, an abundance of these, in one stroke. The fruits of invocation do promise to multiply, simply because something in one responds to these qualities, something in one longs for them and grasps them full at the least opportunity and keeps them cherished as long as can be. However, upon the invocation itself is placed the demand of purity, simplicity and sincerity. For she cherishes not the presence of, “selfishness and hatred and jealousy and malignance and envy and strife…” in the heart of the person and either refuses to show her face or retracts her presence.

One would have often heard the phrase, in usually traditional households, with a voice tinged with pride or awe or gratitude - “…there goes Mahalakshmi!” in reference to a woman, held in high regard. In the mortal sphere, one may take another look at what the phrase would have meant with an understanding of the subject, as a person, who deserved such a title.

But truly, in our own lives, who is this Mahalakshmi? Has one known her, felt her touch? When would those moments have been? In what way – mentally, physically, emotionally or more? These are some questions that one can dwell on for a while and get a mental idea or picture of an inexplicable, unfathomable truth. But to truly know Mahalakshmi and let her live in one’s life, integrally, now that could be an offering worth considering. Sri Aurobindo lays sure guidelines to reach that Divinity, who is one embodiment of The Mother, amongst many. He writes, “Where there is affinity to the rhythms of the secret world-bliss and response to the call of the All-Beautiful and concord and unity and the glad flow of many lives turned towards the Divine, in that atmosphere she consents to abide.” Here Sri Aurobindo places the requirements, or the passwords to Her entry into one’s life and around it. Then he also spells out all that turns her away: “…all that is ugly and mean and base, all that is poor and sordid and squalid, all that is brutal and coarse repels her advent.” But she does wait, “…for this bitter and poisonous devil’s stuff to be rejected and disappear before she will found anew her happy influence.” Here he plants hope and also the grand plan of our transformation so that She may manifest.

Savitri



Here living centre of that vision of peace,
A Woman sat in clear and crystal light:
Heaven had unveiled its lustre in her eyes,
Her feet were moonbeams, her face was a bright sun,
Her smile could persuade a dead lacerated heart
To live again and feel the hands of calm.

Men hail in my coming the Almighty’s force
Or praise with thankful tears his saviour Grace.
I smite the Titan who bestrides the world
And slay the ogre in his blood-stained den.
I am Durga, goddess of the proud and strong,
And Lakshmi, queen of the fair and fortunate;

“ O Savitri, I am thy secret soul.
I have come down to the wounded desolate earth
To heal the pangs and lull her heart to rest
And lay her head upon the Mother’s lap
That she may dream of God and know his peace
And draw the harmony of higher spheres
Into the rhythm of earth’s rude troubled days.

( Book Seven, Canto Four )

Question of the month (Apr 2015)



Q:Ma, please help me to have a clear representation of the four aspects of the Mother as described by Sri Aurobindo in his book The Mother.

A: Mother:In their aspect above the Overmind, in the higher regions, the aspects of the Mother have very simple forms and don’t have multiple limbs.
All the details and complications are appearances mostly added by men in order to give a symbolic expression to invisible qualities.

(CWM, Volume 15, Sri Aurobindo Ashram Trust, Puducherry)