Thursday, May 30, 2013

Rebirth: Explanations by the Mother of Sri Aurobindo Ashram

Courtesy: Growing up with the Mother by Tara Jauhar, pp. 196-201, Sri Aurobindo Ashram - Delhi Branch Trust, New Delhi, 1999.

Tuesday, May 28, 2013

Speech of Mrs. Indira Gandhi at Sri Aurobindo Ashram

"The Spirit of Storm" painted by Promode Kumar Chatterjee

Promod Kumar Chatterjee-a painter and a seeker

Promod Kumar Chattopadhyay (1885-1979) was an interesting personality who travelled through many vicissitudes in his life. He was a traveler and travelled extensively all over India, Nepal and Tibet for pilgrimage. But it was not merely for the purpose of pilgrimage –though its spiritual significance was not absent in his psychology-but for his passionate seeking for meeting the enlightened yogis and sadhus, he spent a considerable period of his early and middle life in the paths of the Himalayas and other places of India like a barefooted sannyasin. But he was not a sannyasin. He was already married then and his wife was a loving and dutiful woman. He was a painter of high quality. However, nothing could bind him with the normal familial life and ordinary world. Actually, for an indomitable aspiration for realizing the spiritual truth he became a little restless. This moved him to the dusty path of eternal India. He met innumerable spiritual personalities of almost all the disciplines of the spiritual kingdom of India in the course of his frequent travelling. His love and respect for sacred India and his thirst for India’s spiritual treasure were the predominant factors that determined and shaped predominantly the course of his life. Eventually, he became a realized person, a siddha in Vrindavan –a sacred pilgrimage place of North India- famous for Lord Krishna and Radha’s lila there on the bank of river Yamuna from time immemorial. He then returned home and pursued his career as a painter to earn a livelihood. He joined Baroda School of Arts as its Principle in the Twenties of the last century. Later he founded National Art Gallery in Masilipattanam in Andhra Pradesh in South India and became its President. He wrote many books on his experiences in the course of his extensive travelling in Bengali. His thirst to know about Tantric philosophy and practice led him to visit many renowned places of Tantric sadhana and he met many enlightened yogis and sadhaks of Tantra-discipline. He will be remembered for his renowned book “Tantrabhilasir sadhusanga” which is rich with the history, philosophy and the past glory and present decadence of Tantric sadhana in India and other places. Later he joined Sri Aurobindo Ashram in Pondicherry in 1958. He painted some portraits of Sri Aurobindo which were highly praised by the Mother as they reflected the inner being of Sri Aurobindo to a great extent. He was amongst a very few who saw a vision of Supramental consciousness in the form of a winged bird. He came to Calcutta again for some personal work in 1975. But he did not return to Pondicherry as his daughters wanted his presence amongst them for the remaining days of his life.*He left his body on 22 September 1979 at the age of 94.
Once when Promod Kumar was returning home after visiting the Kailash Mountain and the lake Manas sarovar in Tibet he, by mistake, walked through a wrong path near Chmpawati in Almora district and entered into a deep forest. He was to reach Tanakpur to catch the train the next day with an elderly person with whom he was travelling. He was detached from his companion who was much behind Promod Kumar in the path. Promod Kumar as was natural to him was walking faster than his companion and was deeply engrossed in the beauty of the surrounding nature. After an hour he came to realise that he was following the wrong path which led him in the deep forest in stead of his destination. He was to reach Tanakpur before the evening. Then it was already evening in the forest and there was no path found for coming out of it. Then to worsen the situation, rain began to fall from already thickly overcast sky. It became gradually severe and the darkness became absolute. He fell from a height on a boulder, which hurt him badly. He was horrified in that dangerous and frightful situation. Leeches clung to his both feet and legs up to the thighs and were sucking his blood. He was bleeding and became extremely weak.
He lost his sense, remained there in the severe cold, and got completely drenched. After sometime he woke up only to suffer consciously. In the middle of that night he cried out to the God, “Why have you put me in such a situation?”Then all of a sudden he heard someone telling clearly in grave voice “Do you regard God as the doer of all your work?” Instantaneously an inner lightening struck him and by a flashing light he realized that he always thought himself as the doer of all his works and enjoyed the results himself, good or bad, that ensued from his works and regarded God as a separate and vast collective consciousness who was not anyway related to his individual work arising out of his personal initiatives. He said to himself “Then why do I call the God to come to my rescue for coming out of this danger that befalls on me for my wrong work? Actually it is the mechanical response of my vital nature. In childhood we call our parents for help and later we call the God whenever we get troubled as consequence of our own works. It becomes as spontaneous as our breathing lungs!”
Perhaps he knew it before but never before was so much aware of this fact. **
The writing of this article is based on this realization of Promod Kumar Chattopadhyay. We all know from our reading of The Gita that we should not expect the fruits of our work. We do not have right for the fruits or results of our work. So we should work not for ourselves but for the Divine. In the same way we do not have any right to work by ourselves. We are mere instruments through whom the Divine is working for something only known to Him. The basic principle of Sri Aurobindo’s Yoga is not to attain Brahman or God but to make oneself open to the Divine so that He can work through us. One does not know what is to be achieved from his life. What one is to become. So what makes the feeling that it is I who is working? It is the ego that so feels. But one may raise a point that one does many wrong and heinous works for narrow self satisfactions. Are all these works are done by God? Yes. There is none except Him in His creation. He is evolving i.e. he is in the process of attaining or achieving in myriad ways in all things and beings including the sadhus and murderous criminals. In this journey of evolution everything is progressing towards Him through Him. There is no wrong act. It is the ego only that defines. According to the status of ego in the evolution the work or karma is done in ignorance. We started to compare good and bad karma from the time we started to get in touch of consciousness higher than the general or ‘normal’ in enlightened beings and also in times even in ourselves. There is only one divine pressure behind the evolutionary urge. In some it is less hindered and so we meet a yogi or a poet or great visionaries and in some it is to move through obstacles and we are met with criminals or a Hitler. Every wrong act is an upheaval or catastrophe from the perverse point of ego.
But a bhakta may well ask where does he stand personally in this evolutionary process? He may obviously want to be justified of his individual dignity in his existence! Yes –the Divine approves and acknowledges his want.
But before that one must consecrate all his work and life to the Divine until one feels that it is the Divine that works through him and moves through him. When one consciously feels that the Divine is absolutely established as the driver in his being and one acts from the status of his union with the divine then only he will feel his individual justification in the vibration of the delight of unfolding of the supreme Divine will in this infinite creation. But one must be aware of one’s individual soul first as it is the individual link of the divine that exists within one.
The first essential work in this yoga is to give the right and the fruit of one’s work to the Divine. So the Mother tells us to work with a prayer “Grant that I may do as well as I can the best things to do.” She insists to be in our best in all our works so that she may face less hindrance in her work in us. Sri Aurobindo and the Mother always insisted on the perfection of our instrumentality.
*As told to me by Promod Kumar in presence of his daughter.
**Promod Kumar was able to come out from that jungle and caught the scheduled train on the next day at Tanakpur.

Courtesy and Link:

Monday, May 27, 2013

Darshan of the Mother of Sri Aurobindo Ashram

March 7,197O

He sat, it seemed, for eons on the porch outside her room. He
had been waiting already for years, then months, then those
days since he was told he could go up to her on his birthday,
sitting in his solid little block of a Peace Corps house, trying to
concentrate on a name, a tiny face glimpsed above a railing;
eyes that blinked at the brightness of the Bay of Bengal then
swept silence over the sea of faces below. Too soon she returned
into the mysterious inner world of which he knew nothing.
Reclusiveness held a fascination, especially for a restless
American given somewhat to seclusion himself. That first year
in India had been a reading binge, a trunk full of books devoured
during the day’s heat and night’s boredom. Without the yoke of
formal education he drifted from field to field, grazing indiscriminately.
 If he could not speak much Tamil, he could at least

talk English with his books. Yet every night he would bike out
into the bazaar on some useless errand, an excuse to lose
himself in the noisy river of the marketplace. He thought often
of Sri Aurobindo remaining in one room for years on end,
sitting still for hours in the heat.
It was very hot in the veranda outside her room. He hadn’t
brought a cloth for the sweat. The crows were obnoxious as
usual, louder and more present than the distant hum of the
Ashram below. He wondered if the others waiting with him
were as easily distracted. They seemed so sunk into themselves,
silent and unconcerned about the more than two hours they had
been there. It was two hours, wasn’t it? He snuck a look at his
watch. After eleven.
This was a test of course. Like the would-be Zen student who
sits motionless in the snow for days trying to persuade the
master to open his door. He wished ruefully that he could sit still
for five minutes, but he was just a gangly North American
wilting in the humidity. If only he could hunker down anywhere
like any Tamilian, easing the body down over the flattened feet
as if settling into an overstuffed chair; at home in waiting,
unworried about whether a bus would come in two minutes or
two hours. He lasted less than a minute, rocking back and forth
on the balls of his feet, his mind a runaway express plunging
through the dust of India.
He remembered the instructions given in clipped, hushed
tones: “Go in front of her, kneel, and give her your flowers
(rapidly wilting, he noticed). Then make pranam. She will be
looking clearly at you. You should open yourself and let her
look inside through your eyes. You may be staying for some
time. Then she will give flowers and blessing packet.”
Some time. . . the eyes! Back in Midwest USA people didn’t
look into each other’s eyes. He knew from taking speech in
college that “eye contact” was important, but its only purpose,
it seemed, was to make the other person shift their glance.
Man’s superiority over the other animals is proved by the fact
that not one of them, dog, cat, horse, can hold a human’s gaze.
But what about the wild ones staring at us from the shadows of
the forest. . . the door opened.
Someone stepped outside and motioned them to come. He
followed the others into the welcome dimness of an incense
fragrant room. He looked eagerly around-saw paintings, statues,
cases of knicknacks, books, carvings-a museum of a

room. ‘Another test,’ he thought, ‘to distract my already distracted thoughts.’
What was strange was the combination of

objects: exquisitely carved ivory and wood figures next to
sea-shell necklaces, toy elephants, the kind of things found in
tourist shops at Mahabalipuram.

Monday, May 20, 2013

Bilkees Latif reminisces Sri Aurobindo and the Mother

Courtesy: "The Fragrance of Forgotten Years" by Bilkees Latif, pp. 159-165, Rupa & Co.,
New Delhi, 2009.

Saturday, May 18, 2013

An Aurovillian: Energy but it is not my energy...

                                    Roy in the seventies     
 Energy…It is not my energy...

When I came to Auroville, it was like an extension of that existence I already was living.
"Here is your ticket for Sunday."
"But I can't leave on Sunday, I don't have a visa!"
On Friday I go to the Indian Consulate. The Indians there hate India, they really try to discourage you.
"Why are you going to India? We spent so many years trying to get out of India. You don't want to go to India!"
"Yes I want to go to India. What kind of visa application?"
They told me to go into another room to find the Visa Applications which were on the floor in a pile.
"Here it is".
"Come back tomorrow," the guy said.
So I came back Saturday. The plane left on Sunday February 28th, 1971.

For me it all started when I was four or five. At that time I had an experience which later I called my "Sri Aurobindo chair experience". It is hard to describe, but after that I started speaking a language that only my cousin, Justine understood. She was a year younger than me and I bossed her around in that language. Later my sister asked me, "Do you remember that language you spoke?", which I didn't, as I didn't know I wasn't speaking in English, but the only word of that language that I remembered was what I used to call my cousin: "Didi", and afterwards I learned that this is Bengali for sister.
I often asked my mother, "Why did you call me Roy?" and she replied ,"Because it is a short name". Much later, when Imet Nolini Kanta Gupta he told me, "My name used to be
I thought this was very special until I discovered later that everybody in Bengal is called Roy. So I felt for a very long time that I had a connection to Sri Aurobindo and very much to the Mother from some earlier times. As a child I was very secretive because my family was hostile to anything having to do with spirituality. There was just so far I could go with them in discussions because they were very sarcastic. They have a New York sense of humor which is sarcasm, which I did not share.
So I was waiting to grow and leave, living in my own private world, and finally at 18 I left home. I was really happy when the sixties happened; it was such a great thing having a community of people that I could identify with. I hated the fifties. The beginning of the hippie thing was great: communities, no money, everything was free; you would just go from place to place. I assumed this was the beginning of the new age. And it was not only the beginning but it was going to expand. Itwas so obvious, you could see it everywhere. So when I came to Auroville it was like an extension of that existence I already was living.
During the sixties, I was looking for a spiritual commune to live in, and people of my own kind. I went to Harvard square, where there was a bookstore where I picked up the latest copy of a magazine called Modern Utopia. On the cover, there was the Lama Foundation which was started by Ram Dass (Richard Alpert). I thought, "Ah, great! A spiritual community, in New Mexico. Perfect!" On the back cover, there was a picture of the galaxy of Auroville, but it didn't really register. So I took off for New Mexico, which was a big adventure and quite interesting, and there I met somebody who had actuallybeen to Pondy, and as he was describing Pondicherry, I visualized something, a weird building with green shutters.
My first discovery of Sri Aurobindo was in 1968, and I got seriously into yoga. I had a kind of opening into the vital world which was really unpleasant. I had these occult experiences many of which were quite frightening: being pulled out of my body, things like this. So I came
specifically to see the Mother to get patched up again. I had studied Tibetan Buddhism, and all those deities they talk about in their texts, I met them, but when you meet them outside your body, it is much scarier than the way they look in tankhas.
So I came here to see her. I was reading Sri Aurobindo. I read in Letters on Yoga that if you want the transformation, you have to see the Mother. Of course he wrote this in 1936, so that wasn't exactly relevant, but I took it as an indication that I had to come and see her. Before I left for India, I was living at Tail of the Tiger at this Tibetan Buddhism place. I don't know if you have ever been to a meditation center, but after a couple of months, you become very addicted to meditation. I got really into it. You keep on increasing your hours until eventually you are living in a kind of monastic life in which all you do is meditate. When you turn the brain off, it is really nice. I was quite happy there, but I had no money as usual. Meanwhile I went down to Boston visit my yoga teacher, who instructed me on Sri Aurobindo. He opened the door and he said, "If you have been thinking of going to India, go!" And he closed the door in my face. So I said okay.
I went into New York. There was a bookstore which sold Sri Aurobindo's books. I used to go there and read. On the wall, there was an announcement: India, $350, one-way ticket. I said, "Oh! I can afford that". So the next day, Thursday, I go to this airplane place.
"I am interested in the ticket for India".
"How do you pay?"
"In cash".
"Here is your ticket for Sunday."
"But I can't leave on Sunday, I don't have a visa!"
On Friday I go to the Indian Consulate. The Indians there hate India, they really try to discourage you.
"Why are you going to India? We spent so many years trying to get out of India. You don't want to go to India!"
"Yes I want to go to India. What kind of visa application?"
They told me to go into another room to find the Visa Applications which were on the floor in a pile.
"Here it is".
"Come back tomorrow," the guy said.
So I came back on Saturday. The plane left on Sunday February 28th, 1971.
I left a chit to my parents: "I am going to India".
I arrived in the Ashram. I just came from that Tibetan Buddhism center in Vermont which was very cold, so I arrived at the Ashram with an Icelandic wool hat on, a woollen lumber jacket, back pack and a guitar, dressed for winter. At the Ashram gate they saw me and they freaked
"Go away, go away!"
"Where should I go?"
"Take him some place," they told the rickshaw.
The rickshaw took me to some lodge, Anavasyam Lodge, which turned out to be this ugly building with green shutterswhich I had visualized earlier at Lama Foundation.
So my trip coming here in hindsight was guided forcefully because I am still pretty stupid but I was really stupid then, really an unconscious person, and to get here took something else. I would never have made it.
I went to see her. Before we were allowed up there, her secretaries came down the stairs, like Counouma who came literally creeping down the staircase, and looked really scary. There seemed to be a very strange kind of cult thing surrounding her. It was hard to have access. But when she touched me, she changed my whole personality, from this uptight New-York Jewish guy into something else.
And lots of people who meet me say, "Roy has such a good energy".
It is not my energy they feel, it's hers. It has always been like that. If anything, because I am a simple person, she put something in me physically that people feel - those who are open to me,
they feel this.
The thing I am sure everyone who came early will tell you, is that the vibration of the Mother here was so strong and physical that you could not think of leaving. Now everyone goes out for the summer because it is hot. In those days we would not leave for a second because it was totally happening and you would not like to miss one moment.
You had these experiences, and after a few days Mother would say, "Oh, yes, something came down and did this..." You felt it. Her Being was so big and powerful and present that you would not even dream of... .
Why leave? So it is a lot different now than it was.
I stayed in Pondy for a couple of months, then I got directed to Auroville. I lived in Silence, where Bharat Nivas is now. There was Larry, who came the same day I did, and Jaap and Lisbeth who also came the same day I did. Black Krishna was there, big Jocelyn and
Constance and Daniel. Minu had a hut that was only big enough for a bed. She had a big framed sign that said "Sincerity", that the Mother wrote to her. When she left Silence, she moved over to Gene Maslow's place (which is where Sincerity is now), and she brought the sign Sincerity over to there. So they called the place Sincerity.
It was an interesting time.
I was very young when I came. In fact, the oldest persons in Auroville were Frederick and Shyama and Francis. They were the adults. The rest of the people were my age, like twenty. The whole place was run by kids basically.
Besides the other aspects, it was really fun. It was an amazing place where you would feel totally
comfortable as a young person. There was no one to tell you what to do. So we did every stupid thing you can imagine. It did not matter. It felt very experimental: we try this, it does not work, so what?
We were living in the middle of the fields, sleeping in the fields, there were no trees. The water used to come by kattavandi. We would wait and see in the distance the kattavandi coming with the water. It was timeless. There was no electricity, no village music. It was still the ragi
culture here; there was this amazing cycle of timelessness. I don't know if you have ever ploughed a field with bullocks, it is an amazing feeling. Watching them is different, but if you do it yourself, you feel an amazing security. This is a wonderful thing, ploughing the field. It is so
ancient. India was really incredible. Now with TV and everything it is totally ruined. It is not the same thing.
A year before Mother died, I was living in the Matrimandir workers camp. I had this very vivid dream where I went to the Samadhi and there was a long line of people. I waited in line, and I went in and there was the Mother lying dead. So I go up to her, I kiss her feet and all this energy comes out. I thought: She is not dead.
Then I woke up. Larry who was living next door came in, looking the way Larry looks when he is in a state of shock. He said: "I just dreamt that the Mother died!" I went to see Pandit and I said, "I just dreamed that the Mother died." –
"Ah! this is in the atmosphere, you know!"  like: forget about it.
One year later I was in Pondy. I used to play Go with this Chinese man, Fan Chan Hsu, who lived in the Ashram and was translating Sri Aurobindo into Chinese. He was a very special kind of person. He once told me he could look at somebody and tell if he was going to die or not. I said, "Oh it's interesting!" He said that well, it wasn't interesting, because when the Japanese had invaded China, everywhere he looked he saw people about to die.
He came to Pondy in 1949 to study Sanskrit. The Red Chinese took over and he could not go back to China because he came from an aristocratic background. He would have been executed or sent to a camp. I used to play Go, which is a Chinese game, with him.
On November 17th, in the middle of the game, he stands up and says, "Let's stop playing". I looked at the clock: it was7.25. He says, "It would be good if she could live up to a hundred." Then I went to a place called Aurovilla where little Jocelyn had a kind of guest-house. I was sleeping on the roof, billions of mosquitoes, it was impossible to sleep. When the sun rose I was so happy to get up and go to the Ashram.
There was a long line of people, it was like in my dream, she was lying in state... When I saw her, she looked totally different than the picture they show you now: she was quite erect and her head was up, and she was still in her trance. There was a picture [like this] that they posted in the Ashram briefly, but then it disappeared and they put the other one, where her head is down, on
her chest. I've always been trying to get that picture but no one knows where it is. In this picture, she looks incredible, in a different state - not dead, in a complete trance state. Satprem wrote about all that. It was my experience also, that she wasn't dead, she was in a trance. She
shouldn't have been touched or moved for a while at least but then they brought her downstairs and disturbed everything. 
After that happened, I was in a total state of shock, because that was not supposed to happen. We had a belief system that was total commitment at that time, so it was impossible. Then Nolini came out with his statement saying the transformation has been postponed! I freaked out a little more: like the whole thing is over, that's it.
Still we had this faith that it was not finished.
Then these incredible years began. The war with the Sri Aurobindo Society started in 1975. From that point on, another thing kept us here, which was this fight for freedom.
It was such a together thing. A lot of people got messed up, but at the time it was like no question, we felt so strong. When it started, it was a shock not only because of their hostility, but that it could even happen in Auroville.
Now I feel more compassion for Nava and everybody. Everyone is an instrument for the Divine, which uses whatever it can, so there is no blame. People did what they did.
I guess everybody was sincere.
But the attacks on Auroville - I felt they have been happening since the very early days. We used to have occult attacks that every night people experienced in their body. These were intense experiences. We had to stay really focused on Sri Aurobindo and the Mother, whoever one felt closest to, and shield ourselves, because the hostility was incredible, totally penetrating. Auroville has been under that kind of hostility since the time I came
In Letters on Yoga, Sri Aurobindo says "You should not criticize the Ashram, because it is a creation of the Mother." And it is the same thing for Auroville: It is Her creation and it is difficult to justify criticizing things because we are not really conscious of how She is developing Auroville.
When Krishna calls you to wish you a happy birthday, it is such a nice thing. Last time he called me, I told him, "As long as I can hear your voice say Happy Birthday, I know everything is good." I feel like that, because a little bit of personality makes such a huge difference. When
Kireet first came, he said that when one wrote to Sri Aurobindo, they used to bring his reply by hand to the person, so the people in the Ashram felt some contact with him, physically.
Kireet had the idea of a Unity Council: a group of people that would make everyone feel known. They would know your birthday; they would come and see you, like the Ganges flowing with goodwill into the community, all the time, all the time, all the time. Later it switched to
something else, but it was a great idea, a simple idea...
From a conversation with Roy
TURNING POINTS published by Auroville Press Publishers