Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Valuable words

One day Pujalal told me: "Why don't you write down these answers from Mother, all these valuable words may benefit others when they read them."

So I asked Mother one day: "Mother, should I write down all that you tell me?"

Mother countered: "Why do you wish to write them down?"

I said: "These are valuable words, what if I forget them later?"

Mother said: "All that I tell you, I say to your inner being. Your soul can never forget them. You'll remember them whenever they're needed."

- Pranab Bhattacharya (I Remember, Part 1, Page 3)

Saturday, November 26, 2011

The Ideal Centre

Once when the Mother was asked by a group of disciples to give permission and blessings for opening a centre, She said in answer: "To open a centre is not sufficient in itself. It must be the pure hearth of perfect sincerity, in a total consecration to the Divine." This is the first motto or mantra that should be inscribed on the tablet of the inner constitution of every group organisation. It states the basic spirit, the true inspiration that should initiate the work and guide it through. The second mantra is embodied in these words of Sri Aurobindo :
"Love the Mother : Always behave as if She was looking at you, for indeed She is always present." These are words that should be kept always bright and blazing in the heart of each and every one. It gives the source and origin of the inspiration, the single fount of all movements collective and individual. And a third mantra not less living or less urgent has been given by the Mother: "Let us work as we pray, for indeed work is the body's best prayer to the Divine." Here we learn of the way, the process that is to be followed, the skill as it were, for realising the goal.
And for a final comprehension and direction we are to remember these words of Sri Aurobindo :
"All problems of existence are essentially problems of harmony." In life, which is necessarily corporate life (a centre essentially means a training and a realisation in corporate life) the first and last necessity is harmony, that is to say, understanding and union among the members of the corporate life. That is a self-evident truth understood and accepted by one and all. But the crux of the matter is how to achieve the harmony.
It can be achieved only on a higher level of being and consciousness, on the lower ordinary level there can be only a compromise, an unstable balance, an uncertain counter-poising of diverse and divergent elements. Also, it must be noted, that the higher and deeper the consciousness, the wider and the more comprehensive, the more the harmony becomes natural, spontaneous, faultless, perfect: and on the highest level the harmony becomes not merely union but indivisible unity.
That is the goal towards which a dedicated centre, that is to say, a spiritually aspiring group should move and labour. And that also is the primary work, the first and foremost for which the centre stands as the field. And this work can be done and has to be achieved through the discipline enunciated in just the previous, our third mantra -the fundamental attitude with which the work has to be done. It is said there that the work, consecrated work or service is the prayer of the body. Mind's prayer is expressed in words, body's prayer in works. Work is the prayer in its dynamic and concrete form, it is the utterance of the physical, the language it knows in order to ask for and seek the union with the Divine. It is the holy ritual expressing and embodying in the physical, material life, one's adoration, one's adhesion to the ideal, the deity one worships.
Work or service expressing harmonisation needs to be based, as I have said, upon a higher and higher consciousness. Work done as prayer is the best means of effecting an ascent in consciousness. This is the lesson that each individual of a centre must learn from the very outset and ever afterwards. He must always try to rise in consciousness, reach an ever higher status of being and from there let the work flow, as it were, from a spontaneous spring. As one rises in consciousness and being, naturally and inevitably this consciousness widens and one feels naturally and spontaneously kinship and union with all others. Work or service is then only a dynamic means of achieving and realising the sense of perfect unity of oneself with all other selves.
Work is not meant to show or express one's capacity or skilfulness or cleverness, nor is it a mere mechanical execution of outward acts performing certain duties however conscientiously or meticulously. It is indeed a ritual of prayer and self-dedication, adhesion and surrender of the most dynamic and material parts of our being -the most unresponsive and insensible elements -to the One Divine Will.
And this brings us to the major, the cardinal mantra of a centre, the mantra which Sri Aurobindo gives about the constant and living presence of the Mother. The very core of a centre is this Presence. A centre grows and can grow perfectly only around the Mother's Presence and Consciousness. As the ideal for the individual is to be conscious of its central inner being and relate all its parts and all its movements to that central reality, organise itself in perfect harmony around this core of its being, even so a group-centre has to organise itself in perfect harmony around the central reality of the Mother: only so can it grow and grow harmoniously. Indeed a group, that is to say, a centre, like the individual can successfully grow into a living and harmonious dynamic Truth only when it has in its consciousness at every moment and in every movement of its life the never-failing Presence of the Divine Mother, for thus only a centre can become a divine embodiment and incarnation of the Supreme Mother for the expression and realisation of her truth upon this earth.
              -      Nolini Kanta Gupta

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

When were Aurobindo Ghose and Mirra called “Sri Aurobindo” and the “Mother”?

                                                                                        by Raman Reddy
Barring a few exceptions, it was only towards the end of 1926 that the disciples in Pondicherry began  referring to Aurobindo Ghose and Mirra  as “Sri Aurobindo” and the “Mother” in their diary notes, etc. Aurobindo Ghose was first referred to as “Sri Aurobindo” before Mirra  came to be known as the “Mother”, and there was a period of  transition (longer for the Mother than for Sri Aurobindo) when some of  the disciples used both names simultaneously.
A.B. Purani’s handwritten notes of Sri Aurobindo’s Evening Talks show this change of name. This is not apparent from the published text, nor sometimes from the typed copies of the handwritten notes, because “A.G.” and  “Mirra” had become “Sri Aurobindo” and the “Mother” by the time the typed copies were made and the book published.  The former names were replaced by the latter for the sake of  consistency. Purani first used the abbreviation “Shri A” in his rough notes of Sri Aurobindo’s Evening Talk of 16 September 1926 after using “A.G.” until that date. Haradhan Bakshi, another sadhak of the time, began using the name “Shri Aurobindo” in his diary on 19 September 1926. Both then went through a short  period of transition during which they kept switching between “A.G.” and “Sri Aurobindo” (sometimes even on the same day),  and finally settled for the latter by October 1926.
In the case of the Mother, Haradhan Bakshi  referred to her as “Mother” for the first time on 24  September 1926. Until then he had referred to her as “Mira” or “Mira Devi”; he would also use the variant “Shri Mirra Devi” after the Siddhi Day. Though by the beginning of 1927, Haradhan mostly referred to her as “Mother”, it was not until the end of 1928 that he stopped using altogether the name “Mira”. For Anilbaran Roy, there was no period of transition at all.  After coming back from Bengal on 10 December 1926,  he wrote in his diary, “Sri Aurobindo has retired and Mirra Devi has taken charge of creating a new world.” The following day Sri Aurobindo instructed him in an interview to surrender himself to “Mirra Devi”. The very next day, that is, on 12 December 1926,  Anilbaran referred to the Mother as “Mother” and never again as “Mirra Devi”.  Other documents show that Barin, Amrita and Bejoy also started using the name “Mother” by the beginning of 1927.
          When did Aurobindo Ghose sign as “Sri Aurobindo”?
 Sri Aurobindo first signed as “Sri Aurobindo” (and not “Aurobindo Ghose” or “Sri Aurobindo Ghose”) in a  letter written to Tirupati on 22 March 1926. However, it was under exceptional circumstances. The next known letter signed by him “Sri Aurobindo” is dated 1 August 1927 — this was later published as Chapter 3 of the book The Mother. Though there are a few more letters signed similarly in 1927 after this date, it was not until 1928 that Sri Aurobindo consistently signed his letters as “Sri Aurobindo” and even referred to himself in the third person as such. The final form of his name was continued into the last decade of his life, during which he made several public declarations. His support for the Allies during World War II (1940), the Independence Day Message (1947), the messages to the Andhra University(1948) and America(1949), were all issued in the name of “Sri Aurobindo”. However, Sri Aurobindo retained his original name “Aurobindo Ghose” to sign legal deeds such as property titles, etc.          
                         JAYA DEVI’S  REMINISCENCE
‘I used to visit him [Sri Aurobindo] every day. He would make me sit near him and listen to everything carefully. After four or five days I asked A.G. : “Why are these chairs here?” “They are for people who listen to my words and practise meditation – they sit in these chairs.” Somehow I didn’t like the idea. So I said: “Lord, this doesn’t look proper. That the sadhaks, your disciples, should be sitting in the chairs along with you doesn’t look nice. Better to have mats or carpets on the floor. While you sit in the chair, the rest can sit below.” He only smiled a little and kept quiet. Two days after, I noticed that the chairs had been removed and a durrie spread out on the floor.
‘In those years the Ashram was less crowded and I used to go and see him every day. One day I asked him: “Lord, why do they call you A.G.?”  “A.G.? Who says A.G.?”, he counter-questioned. “These sadhaks speak like that, I have heard it.” Then he said, with a smile: “Well, it’s a good idea of yours.”  Seven or eight days later, I found on the notice-board: “Sri Aurobindo.” I was told the Mother had given that name. This made me rather happy.
‘After two days, I went to see him with a pair of garlands which I had woven with my own hands and rolled inside a handkerchief. Looking at the hidden object in my hands he asked: “What is it you have brought?” “A pair of garlands,” I answered. “What will you do with garlands?” “One I shall place round your neck and the other at your feet,” I chirped gaily. Pleased with my reply, he said: “Well, give me one, and there, within the house, is your Mother, go and give her the other garland.” “Lord, where is the Mother? In which room? I do not know anything; please guide me a little.” He then explained: “As you go up the inner staircase you will find a room in front. The Mother lives there. You will give the garland to her.” “Lord, permit me to go there,” I said. Smilingly he agreed: “Yes, now go.”
‘I came down, wondering with whom to go. But, I also thought, what was there to worry about in going to the Mother? “Oh my mind, take me there. When the Lord has said so, I will certainly be able to meet her.” On reaching down with this thought, I found Purani’s wife, Lilavati, standing in front. I said to Lila: “Dear sister, please accompany me a little,” “Where to?” inquired Lila. “First let us go up the inside staircase. Then I shall tell you,” I said. “Then let us go,” she answered. After we had gone up the stairs we saw a room in front. I went inside with the garland in hand. Then I saw the Mother standing, in a red-bordered sari. She came a little closer to me and I offered the flowers and made my pranam to her. The Mother had a veil on, and when I gave her the garland she was smiling, but since I didn’t know any English I couldn’t speak with her. After a while, I came away. Lilavati followed suit. When she had come we went to our respective places….
‘It was the month of  Asvin in 1926. At the time of Sri Aurobindo’s daily darshan I said: “Lord, the month of Asvin is here. Every year I celebrate Mahashtami puja. I am wondering what to do now; shall I return home or what?” “Why, won’t there be puja here?” he asked. “Yes, it’s possible: the worship of Shiva-Durga. If I can perform your worship and the Mother’s, then perhaps I need not go from here. That is why I am wondering…”
‘“Well, you can do that.”
‘On the day of Mahashtami Sri Aurobindo and the Mother sat in two chairs side by side. With the usual offering I performed the puja. I put garlands round both. Oh, it was as if Shiva and Durga had come down to accept the worship! It is impossible to describe all that I felt. It was ineffable, beyond thought.’
                                                                                 [August – October 1926]  
Source: Mother India, August, November 1970, pp 403-404, 623
Jaya Devi’s story is so beautiful that a historian  might doubt its authenticity. How is it that such an important event as the Mother writing Sri Aurobindo’s name on the notice board was missed out by the more well-known sadhaks of the time, namely, Purani, Nolini and Champaklal? The chronology in the story is also vague—no precise dates, except that of the Siddhi Day, have been given by her. But the dates can be found with a little effort. According to old records, Jaya Devi (Nonibala renamed) and her younger brother, Dr. Upendranath Bannerji (Dr Babu) arrived  in Pondicherry on 7 August 1926. Jaya Devi met  Sri Aurobindo the following day. Taking into account her objection to the chairs “four days” later, and their removal “two days” after that, we arrive at the date 14 August 1926. The next  available date is that of the Mahasthmati, which was on 14 October in 1926. Between these two dates, the Mother wrote Sri Aurobindo’s name on the notice-board, urging the disciples to address him henceforth as “Sri Aurobindo” instead of “A.G.”. That it had the desired effect is shown by Purani’s notes of the Evening Talks and Haradhan’s diary, which reflect the same period of transition with regard to Sri Aurobindo’s name.  Jaya Devi’s story becomes at once credible, and, perhaps, the lesson that we learn is that beautiful stories need not be untrue.
                                 ARCHIVAL NOTE
The first two diary entries of Haradhan Bakshi recall that something special happened, or rather began happening to him, from 15.08.1926 onwards.  It coincides with Haradhan bowing down to Mirra Devi on the same day. On 20.10.1926, he uses the word “Mother” for the first time.  He asks Sri Aurobindo  for “Mirra Devi’s direct help” on 8.11.1926. Sri Aurobindo gives him an appointment to meditate with the Mother on 18.11.1926. After his first meditation with the Mother, he tells Sri Aurobindo, “You are my Father and Truth, so She is my Mother and for me She is the manifestation of Love, Knowledge, Power and Mastery.” Though Haradhan’s diary shows the smooth transition from regarding Mirra as another disciple of Sri Aurobindo to Mother as a spiritual guide in her own right, he doesn’t stop using the name “Mirra” even after having started to refer to her as “Mother”. He sometimes refers to both “Mirra” and “Mother” on the same day and within a single paragraph of his diary notation, not to mention the usage of other variants such as “my Mother”, “Mirra Devi”, “Shri  Mirra Devi, etc. The matter is not so puzzling as it seems after reading the quote below of what Mother told him about her name:
About Her name She [Mother] said, ‘My name is all powerful in the vital world and against any hostile attack. I asked Sri Aurobindo to change my name. He concentrated and then said to keep it on – perhaps it has a meaning that is not yet revealed. Once I went into the vital world to prepare the way of spiritual realisation for those who start from that plane, I heard the adverse forces flying said, ‘It is Mirra, it is Mirra.’
                                                                        Haradhan,NB 3, pp 266-67

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

The Divine Will

‎"You say, 'I give my will to the Divine... Let the divine Will work it out for me'. Your will must continue to act steadily, not in the way of choosing a particular action or demanding a particular object, but as an ardent aspiration concentrated upon the end to be achieved."
                                                                                              - The Mother