Saturday, July 7, 2012

American President's Daughter had lived in Sri Aurobindo Ashram

(Thomas Woodrow Wilson (December 28, 1856 – February 3, 1924) was the 28th President of the United States, from 1913 to 1921.)

                                                            Margaret Woodrow Wilson in 1912

Religion: Dishta of Pondicherry

Monday, Feb. 08, 1943

On southern India's Coromandel Coast New York Times Correspondent Herbert L. Matthews last week stumbled on one of Woodrow Wilson's daughters.* The spirit and image of her father, she lives in the French town of Pondicherry (now occupied by De Gaullists). She told Mr. Matthews that she was very happy after three years as a sadhak (follower) of an Indian religious teacher, Sri Aurobindo. Said she: "In fact, I never felt more at home anywhere."
Margaret Woodrow Wilson, now 56, and a spinster, broke with her family's Scotch-Irish Presbyterian traditions years ago when she stalked from church during Communion service. Flicking through catalogue cards in the New York Public Library four years ago, she came upon Sri Aurobindo's Essays on the Gita. For no special reason she took out this 300-page commentary on India's famous religious and philosophic poem, whose origin is lost in history. She read how "the lower in us must learn to exist for the higher in order that the higher also may in us consciously exist for the lower, to draw it nearer to its own altitudes." Fascinated, she read on until the guards closed the library. Next day she was back again.
Aurobindo's ashram (a retreat for disciples of a religious leader) is only one of many in mystic-minded India. Best known is Mohandas Gandhi's. Much more worldly, and very pro-British is Aurobindo's, which he set up 33 years ago. There Margaret Wilson responds to the name Dishta, meaning in Sanskrit the discovery of the divine self.
Cambridge-educated, 70-year-old Aurobindo keeps to his own room, appears only four times a year to his followers. If they wish advice they write him a letter. He may reply, may not. Active management of the ashram falls on a 66-year-old French woman, Madame Alfassa, known to disciples as Mother of the Universe.
Since the ashram can hold only a handful of followers, many of them, including Margaret Wilson, live in up-to-date houses in the town. Her religion, not concerned with mortifying the flesh, permits her to wear American clothes, read magazines and newspapers, puff an after-dinner cigaret. When she first arrived in India she tried to be a vegetarian, but she lost so much weight that the Mother of the Universe put her back on meat. She spends most of her time trying to acquire "a state of serenity." Each evening she goes to the ashram to spend half an hour in meditation to achieve this purpose. She finds it "extremely hard."
* Woodrow Wilson's other daughters: Jessie, who died in January 1933, was the wife of Francis Bowes Sayre (U.S. High Commissioner to the Philippines, 1939-42); Eleanor ("Nellie"), divorced wife of the late Senator William Gibbs McAdoo, now living in Los Angeles, is regional adviser of women's activities for the Defense Savings Staff of the Treasury Department on the West Coast.

Courtesy: “Time” Magazine, Feb. 08, 1943


aurofrance said...

Thanks Blog master-a posting inspiring.
I am thinking how he would have written it differently now after knowing more.

- Aju Mukhopadhyay

pianomonika said...

Margaret Woodrow Wilson came from another denomination. and per chance she came upon Sri Aurobindo.s Essays on the Gita.
Meditation was hard for her,some habits she could not give up completely, like food and clothing, but she found her soul-luck.