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2. Sri Aurobindo

Born on August 15, 1872  in Calcutta and educated in England, Sri Aurobindo came back to India with only one aim: liberating India from the foreign yoke. His father was a doctor who never wanted his three sons to inherit anything of the Indian culture, including their mother tongue Bengali. He admitted all his sons into an English school in Darjeeling from where they were taken to England and put in St. Paul's and later Cambridge. Sri Aurobindo was of a unique mould. Darjeeling and its British atmosphere were not a source of pride for him. Instead he had a vision of a dark force entering him which remained until he returned to India about 20 years later. He was meant for the Indian Civil Service, but his anti-British feeling did not allow him to serve the British masters. By absenting himself from the compulsory horse-riding test, Sri Aurobindo disqualified himself from the I.C.S.

The Maharaja of Baroda was looking for an administrator for his state and spotted in Sri Aurobindo a suitable candidate. It was thus Sri Aurobindo landed in Baroda, served the state, taught in the college and returned to Bengal. India was in a ferment. Sri Aurobindo organised the youth under the Congress and voiced radical ideas from several journals he contributed to. Their nationalist activities embraced founding a journal "Vandemataram", founding a National College, worshipping Kali, and experimenting with several ideas as well as procuring chemicals with which bombs were made. Sri Aurobindo did not believe in terrorism, even though he was a radical to the core. The British police arrested him and clapped him in Alipore jail, implicating him in a bomb throwing case.

When his brother came down with a severe hill fever, Sri Aurobindo watched as a Naga Sanyasi chanted a mantra, crossed a cup of water with a knife and gave it to his brother. The fever vanished. Sri Aurobindo was interested in acquiring such a power to liberate India from the British domination. In pursuit of this goal, he approached several yogis for help. What he got in return was a silent mind, advaitic realisation and the vision of the Cosmic divine.

He sought the help of Vishnu Lele, a Maharashtrian Yogi. The yogi accepted Sri Aurobindo and offered to initiate him into silence. "Sit down, close your eyes. You will see thoughts entering your mind from outside. Refuse them entry," he said to Sri Aurobindo. Sri Aurobindo did so and found Lele's words to be true. He could, after considerable effort, reject the thoughts. In three days Sri Aurobindo succeeded in establishing silence in his mind. To Lele this was unbelievable, since success in this experiment would normally be achieved only after several years. As Sri Aurobindo was an avatar, a great yogic realisation came to him in a few days. So also, later the yogic attainment of Nirvana, the hallmark of a great avatar, came to him. While in Alipore Jail, he used to be visited by Swami Vivekananda in his meditation. The swami guided Sri Aurobindo's yoga and helped him to scale great heights. It was there Sri Aurobindo saw the convicts, jailers, policemen, the prison bars, the trees, the judge, the lawyer etc., as Narayana. Sri Aurobindo saw compassion, honesty and charity in the hearts of murderers.

After Sri Aurobindo was found innocent in the trial, his inner voice instructed him to go to Chandranagore, a French territory. The same voice led him to Pondicherry later. His heart was burning with one passion, the release of Mother India. God held a parley with him and told him that Indian freedom was assured and accomplished in the subtle plane. God had another work assigned to Sri Aurobindo. To accomplish that work on earth, He was commanding Sri Aurobindo to go to Pondicherry. During the trial Sri Aurobindo was prompted to help the lawyer with facts, opinions, etc., but his inner voice advised him to desist from giving advice to the lawyer. "The case is in my hands, do not interfere, keep quiet" was the dictum that was whispering from inside. Now, after the trial and release, Sri Aurobindo's impulse was in the direction of the freedom movement. God had to interfere with Sri Aurobindo's preference and insist on his fulfilling god's other mission.

Sri Aurobindo arrived in Pondicherry in 1910. Following him a few of his associates arrived. Sri Aurobindo was examining his God-given mission and was contemplating the best possible course for him to follow. With the Inner Guide leading silently, Sri Aurobindo mapped out his yogic course and fixed its landmarks.

Liberation, moksha, came to him earlier but he did not accept it. Obviously that was not his course or goal. God's intention was different. God intended Sri Aurobindo to become a pure Divine Instrument that would hasten the descent of the Divine into earthly life making it Divine Life. In sum, the Yoga of  Sri Aurobindo is as follows:

When moksha is accepted, the yogi leaves the Earth, which remains in misery. The yogi who attains moksha for himself must renounce the world. He must endeavour to bring the high heavens into the daily life of humanity and all life on earth. To accomplish that mission the yoga cannot be partial. It has to be integral. The yogi cannot exclude life or even the body from his yogic purification. It is not the Divine intention that the embodied soul should seek release from the cycle of birth and death. The embodied soul should seek total release from falsehood and ego in all parts of its being and, rising into the higher worlds of Spirit, bring down the spiritual force and truth to life on earth, so that death, suffering and disease can be abolished forever.

In the context of Indian yogic tradition this is an adventure and a departure from the tradition. Sri Aurobindo developed new terminology to explain the tenets of his yoga, which he called Integral Yoga or Purna Yoga. All this acquired special and full significance when Mother arrived. She was keen on a plan of action and had her own original ideas for redeeming the earth from falsehood. Sri Aurobindo and Mother shared their approaches and finally arrived at the future course of action.

If creation as a whole is considered, the lower part is of life and mind and body, while the higher part is of Spirit. The spiritual part is known as Satchidananda, which is comprised of Sat above and Ananda below with Chit in the middle. Mind rises so high as to include the worlds of gods. Between mind's highest reach, which is above the gods, and the spiritual worlds of Satchidananada lies a zone which is known to our rishis as vijnana loka. Sri Aurobindo calls this, in his own phraseology, Supermind and the supramental world. He calls the home of the gods Overmind. Mother was of the opinion that the power of the overmental world would serve the aim of their yoga, namely the abolition of death, falsehood and suffering. Sri Aurobindo explained to her that in the overmental world Truth was not self-existent. Overmind could build a partial world of truth uniting all available truths and excluding ignorance. Should the power of this world descend on earth, a great transformation would occur, but it would still leave a base of ignorance, which means the body would be left untouched. In the Supermind, Truth is self-existent. The Truth of Supermind can penetrate ignorance and reach its basis of truth (nothing on earth can exist without a seed of Truth) and unite all such truths and build upon them. The body and its inconscient base would not yield to the overmental force, but could not resist the onslaught of the supramental truth. Sri Aurobindo also showed her that Krishnavatar already came from overmind. Mother saw the profundity of Sri Aurobindo's experience and gave up her preference. In 1926 the overmental force descended into the mind, vital and very physical depths of Sri Aurobindo. After that momentous victory, he retired to win further laurels in the yogic adventure.

From 1926 to 1950 Sri Aurobindo lived in complete retirement and total silence, constantly raising himself to the level of the Supermind. Even his experience while in Alipore jail, of Narayana in the hearts of everyone, was a supramental experience according to Mother. As his yoga is one of ascent and descent, he had to raise himself first to the level of the Muni (higher mind) and wait for the force of that level to descend into him and reach down to the very physical after saturating his nerves and mind. According to Sri Aurobindo, each level of the ascent is followed by the descent of forces of that level, which integrates the experience of the sadhak i.e., fully illumines all parts of his being, viz. mind, vital (nerves) and physical. The next higher level is that of the rishi who is endowed with vision, jnanadrishti. Sri Aurobindo's description of this level is illumined mind. The yogi, who is above this, receives the divine intuition directly without the aid of sight, drishti or thought. The world of the gods, Shiva, Brahma, Vishnu, Indra, Lakshmi, Saraswati, Narada, Ganesh, etc., is known to us as Swar or swarloka. Sri Aurobindo calls this world the overmind. These levels of muni, rishi, yogi and the gods belong to the lower hemisphere of creation. The higher hemisphere begins with vijnana, the supramental world. It is followed by ananda loka, chit loka and sat loka. Creation ends with this. Outside creation is the Absolute, the Transcendent, the unmanifested Divine.

In 1926, the overmental force descended into Sri Aurobindo on all levels. After that he was engaged in the yogic adventure of raising his being to the supramental world and bringing the power of that world into the earth through the instrumentation of his own body. Before 1950, he accomplished this feat fully. His yoga was realised. The high heavens were reached. They had answered the CALL of humanity represented by Sri Aurobindo. The FORCE was ready to move from its origin, descend on earth and abolish death and suffering.

Sri Aurobindo saw at this point that the transformation of the earth presupposed one other condition. He saw the Golden Light of the supramental world when he left the blue light of the  overmind. If the Golden Light were to remain on earth forever after the descent, it would require about ten yogis who had realised Supermind fully. At the time of Sri Aurobindo's realisation that condition remained unfulfilled. Even if the power of Supermind descended through the siddhi of Sri Aurobindo, the light could not remain on earth. Sri Aurobindo needed another ten accomplished yogis. They were not there. He spoke to Mother and said one of them had to leave the earth and continue the yoga from the subtle plane to expedite the ADVENT. Mother offered to go. He showed her the unique constitution of her body which alone could accomplish the transformation at the physical level. He decided to withdraw and continue his work from the subtle plane.

In 1956, Sri Aurobindo's work from the subtle plane bore fruit. In 1950, he had offered his own body to the descending supramental light as a fit receptacle. At the time he left his body, the Golden Light invaded it and remained there for three full days. All the other yogic powers he had gathered, he deposited in Mother before he withdrew from his body. In six years, Sri Aurobindo's work prepared the Earth Consciousness as a whole to receive the supramental force, power and light. During the meditation in the playground on February 29, 1956, Mother saw Her subtle body enlarging to the size of the universe and becoming golden. Before her appeared a massive golden door and beside her was an equally massive golden hammer. With one blow Mother smashed the door, the curtain between earth and the golden supramental heavens. Floods of living light of golden colour poured down onto earth. Earth realised the Supermind. Instantaneously, the tamas, the inertia of the earth rose up in equally great floods and swallowed up the descending Grace. Following this great event, Divine Love descended on earth in 1962. The Supramental force advanced in 1967 by manifesting itself in the earth consciousness. Again on January 1st, 1969 the force further evolved and became superman consciousness and appeared before The Mother. Mother says that since its advent in 1956, the force is effectively determining the course of earthly events. The diffusion of the Cuban crisis and the inexplicable withdrawal of the Chinese from the Indian border took place because of the presence of this force. She also says children born after 1962 have greater receptivity to this force.

Sri Aurobindo received a visitor in Pondicherry who introduced himself as a lawyer from Madras that had been asked by Chittaranjan Das of Calcutta to meet Sri Aurobindo. He was the great nationalist S. Duraiswamy Aiyer, a friend of Mahatma Gandhiji. There was nothing to be transacted and Sri Aurobindo wondered why Duraiswamy had called on him. But Duraiswamy repeated his call after some time, this time ostensibly to consult Sri Aurobindo on legal matters. Saying he was no lawyer, Sri Aurobindo declined to evince interest in the consultation. On the insistence of the visitor Sri Aurobindo agreed to listen. The lawyer opened his file and Sri Aurobindo put his finger on some point and said that would be helpful. Duraisamy explained that it was an important case and the client had promised a lakh of rupees in fees should he win. During his next visit, Duraiswamy explained how he won the case on the strength of Sri Aurobindo's advice and offered him the lakh of rupees fees he had received. Sri Aurobindo said he had no use for money and refused to accept it. Duraiswamy's feeling was that the fees should go to Sri Aurobindo as the case had been won on the strength of his advice. The lawyer was not one who could accept a 'NO' even from Sri Aurobindo. With the insistent visitor unwilling to take a 'NO', Sri Aurobindo called Mother and asked for her opinion. As a compromise she agreed to accept Rs.10,000.

Later Sri Duraiswamy joined the Ashram as a sadhak. Mother said he had been a French King in one of his previous births. It is an unspoken tradition in Pondicherry from the days of the colonial regime that the rulers of the settlement kept close contact with the Ashram. Almost all the Governors had met Mother. A speaker of the Goa Assembly was once posted as Governor here. Contrary to the tradition, he maintained little contact with the Ashram. After a year or two, he broke his habit and started visiting the samadhi of Sri Aurobindo regularly on Sundays punctually at 10 a.m. The Governor's sudden change of mind intrigued observers. His own friends sought an explanation from him. He said Sri Aurobindo had appeared in his dream once and since then he had changed his mind.

While on earth great souls behave in strange fashions that baffle the human intellect. Thinkers dwell on such points and discover the greatness of the personality that is otherwise lost. Thieves entered Sri Ramanashram and finding no valuables there sought out the chief 'culprit'. They questioned the Maharishi why there were no valuables for them to steal. In the process the Maharishi was beaten by the rogues. His disciples rushed to the rescue of their master to prevent this heinous crime. Maharishi, in his own inimitable fashion declared, "Do not interfere. Let them continue. They are doing their puja to me!"  Certainly the human mind is not constituted to decipher this mystery. In the early days of Sri Aurobindo Ashram, a bread delivery boy was found to have stolen Rs.5 and was beaten by the disciples. Sri Aurobindo heard the noise from the next room, came out, asked his disciples not to beat the boy, and ordered them to 'return' the Rs.5 to the boy. Strange are the ways of great men.

Sri Aurobindo gave up nationalism and the freedom movement at the behest of the inner voice. The British government, which had not heard Sri Aurobindo's inner voice, hounded him up to 1937 fearing that he was a great potential danger to the stability of the Royal Crown. Five times, attempts were made to kidnap Sri Aurobindo and take him to British territory. Through the most strange ways of the Almighty, each time the thugs who consented to this heinous crime fell out among themselves and ended in mutual killing. Once it was a highly placed politician who was anxious to oblige the British authorities. He was shot dead in his own house by a relative before he could lay his hands upon Sri Aurobindo.

Rabindranath Tagore came to see Sri Aurobindo. During his 24 year silence, Sri Aurobindo had broken the rule a few times to meet visitors. Tagore was one of them. He came and saw Sri Aurobindo resplendent with the supramental energy. Tagore wanted Europe to know of Sri Aurobindo's yoga and his work. Before he left he pronounced, "The word is with you."

Several Nobel Laureates have commented on Sri Aurobindo's magnum opus The Life Divine. Some said he was the foremost thinker of mankind. Times Literary Supplement of London said that Sri Aurobindo wrote as if he was planted amid the stars. His major works are (1) The Life Divine, a philosophical exposition of his yoga and ideal; (2) The Synthesis  of Yoga, where he explains his yoga from the point of view of knowledge, works, love and self-perfection; (3) The Ideal of Human Unity, a treatise on the course of the world's historic currents; (4) The Human Cycle, his thoughts on human social evolution; (5) Savitri, an epic poem of 12 books with the story of Satyavan and Savitri as its core; (6) The Future Poetry; (7) The Foundations of Indian Culture; and other writings running into 23 more volumes.

A French writer commented that Sri Aurobindo was the only writer in the history of world literature who had started writing all of his five major works simultaneously and finished them within five years.

His writings embrace all subjects on earth right from the composition of the atom down to the most mundane subject of cruelty to animals. Mother says that in his writings she saw intuition pouring down from above and saturating his thoughts and language.

A short time before Sri Aurobindo arrived in Pondicherry, a yogi from Tamil Nadu said that an uttara yogi would be coming to Tamil Nadu soon and he could be recognized by the three famous declarations he had made. He said that yogi was coming here for great yogic accomplishments. The three madnesses Sri Aurobindo described in his letter to his wife were considered to be the three declarations, and Sri Aurobindo was recognised in those days as the uttara yogi that had been prophesied.

Sri Aurobindo was known in the Ashram as the rebirth of Napoleon. Napoleon's birthday was also August 15th. In his previous births, it was believed he was Leonardo da Vinci, Michelangelo, Krishna and many other persons too. Someone asked Sri Aurobindo whether he had been Shakespeare as well, but could not elicit an answer.

Mother spoke to Shiva and Krishna requesting them to incarnate in the body of Sri Aurobindo to expedite his yoga. Mother said Shiva declined the invitation and said he would come after the advent of the Supermind. Mother succeeded with Krishna who agreed. She said she saw with her own eyes Krishna entering into Sri Aurobindo's body. When she reported it to Sri Aurobindo, he evinced no interest in it. In another context, Sri Aurobindo said he did not want his work to be limited by the gods.

Sri Aurobindo said that the world forces had always fulfilled his will, sooner or later.

After he attained samadhi, his body was laid on his bed. It was kept thus for over four days, almost five days. Over 100,000 people had Darshan of the Master. The Golden Light slowly entered his body and stayed there for three full days, then gradually withdrew. On those days, Mother said she 'saw' him sitting on his bed -- of course the body was lying flat on the bed -- fully supramental and golden.

Before his complete retirement in 1926, Sri Aurobindo used to meet those who came to see him in the evening when he met his disciples and answered their questions. There were two exceptions. S. Srinivasa Iyengar, who later became the President of the All India Congress, and the Tamil poet Subramania Bharathi. They would go to him at any time of the day for a consultation. Sri Aurobindo studied the Vedas with Bharathi. He did some translations of the Divya Prabhandam with the assistance from Bharathi. Bharathi's entire period at Pondicherry was one of great inspiration.

A minister of culture in the French cabinet visited Pondicherry and was introduced to Sri Aurobindo's thought. He fully appreciated it and proposed that an Indo-French Cultural Institute be founded with Sri Aurobindo as President.

Peace and silence are said to be the very body of the transcendent Divine. Yogis receive them at different levels according to the type of yoga they do and according to the goals they set themselves. Ramana Maharshi was known to be an ocean of Peace. The depth of peace in a sadhak depends upon the height from which he receives it and the depths in his own being where he integrates it.

Though the force Sri Aurobindo used was from the Supermind, because his being was in direct contact with the transcendent whose intention he was trying to realise in the universe and the earth, peace descended into him from the transcendent unmanifest levels of the Divine. His purna yoga opened all parts of his being down to the physical to the incoming force. The peace that descended from the transcendent heights seeped down into the very depths of his being in the physical body. Hence its intensity as found in him was of the greatest dimension.

One day when a cyclone was raging, Mother went to his room to shut the windows so that rain water would not come in and spoil the room. To her utter astonishment she found neither the raging wind nor the rain had found entry into the Master's room. What ruled there was his solid supramental peace. To her greater surprise, she found him sitting at his table next to a window lost in writing and unaware of the storm outside.

During the period of transfer of power to India from Britain, the Princely states were in a turmoil since each state was supposed to take its own decision whether to join India or Pakistan or to remain independent. In Mysore, there was a commotion and the Maharaja was undecided. He sought an interview with Sri Aurobindo hoping to get some good counsel as well as the blessings of the yogi. The Maharaja was very much aware of his royal position and was not aware of Sri Aurobindo's yoga or its power and expression. Sri Aurobindo assented to the request and asked the Maharaja to come on August 15. The Maharaja on his arrival was unable to comprehend the affairs when he realised he was to have a Darshan of the Master by going in the queue. All that passed the royal comprehension. Sri Aurobindo in deference to the situation suggested the Maharaja could come at the head of the queue. Mother and Bhagavan silently blessed the troubled soul of the royal house and finished with him in a few minutes. After the Darshan the royal personage found his nerves in ecstasy, his mind in a daze, his being steeped in eternal peace. He was scarcely able to walk steadily. His disappointment at the short interview melted away. The one thing that was bothering him all the while -- the affairs of Mysore -- now no longer bothered him. When he returned to Mysore, he found that the bother disappeared in real life as it had done from his mind and nerves at the Darshan.


When Mother joined Sri Aurobindo, there were about a dozen or more people around Him. Six years later in 1926, she founded the Ashram in his name around the time He withdrew completely. It was Mother's dream from the beginning of the century that there should be a place on earth where MAN could devote all his energies to seek the Divine without having to work for food and shelter. In founding Sri Aurobindo Ashram, She was trying to create such a place. Mother and Sri Aurobindo have said that they had been on earth since the beginning of creation and at every critical juncture of the earth's evolution they have intervened and played a crucial role. Addressing the children of the Ashram school, Mother once said that everyone in the Ashram had been with her in previous births and in those births had prayed to her that they must be with her at the time of Divine fulfilment of the earth. That was why they were there in the Ashram. Sri Aurobindo said that this is the Hour of God when the awakened soul can accomplish in a short time what would normally take centuries in other periods. The Ashram was founded in an atmosphere of such beliefs. Mother also said that if anything new should take place on earth, it should first happen in the Ashram. In short, Mother conceived of the Ashram as a micro-unit of the world. It is her philosophy that earth is a micro unit of the universe. By extension, the Ashram is a representative pioneer of the future world.

Conceived thus, she organised the ashram accordingly. She was a pre-eminent disciplinarian fused with the Mother in her. Organisation had a premier value in her scheme of things. Nothing was too low even as nothing was too sacred for her. She herself came to cook for the sadhaks and served them their food. She began teaching sadhaks how to keep the books orderly and neat and clean!

Her rule was everyone should rise at 3 a.m. She herself would come to the balcony at 6.15 a.m. to infuse into the sadhaks the necessary spiritual inspiration for the day's work. Again she would meet all of them in the forenoon for another blessing. In the evening she went to the playground, took the salute at the march past and blessed them all once more with her Grace. Meditation was of secondary importance to her. She even declared that work done in the right spirit made one progress more than meditation. She could not conceive of two different lives, one ordinary and the other a spiritual life. To her all life is spiritual, one less organised and the other more centrally focussed. She visited all the departments of the Ashram, discussed the work with the heads of the departments and evinced interest in the minutest detail. She saw that the descending force was finding expression in every little work, be it planting of a jasmine sapling or writing the presidential speech for the Indian Philosophy Congress.

Mother created a department for each activity and made the Ashram a mini-universe. She created the dining room, laundry, bakery, reception service, publication department, prosperity, press, auto workshop, key service, furniture service, homeopathy section, massage centre, playground, library, music room, photographic lab, embroidery division, art gallery, guest house, concrete casting factory, wood works, flower garden, restaurants, agarbathi department, handloom weaving, bindery and several others, totalling 52 departments in all. She created all these departments not so much because work needs to be done but because places were needed where work would be done as sadhana.

It is Mother's belief that a sadhak's soul is very much on the surface, much more open and receptive, on his birthday. Man passes through a cycle of experience between two birthdays and on the birthday itself he is most open to the Divine influence. Therefore, Mother meets every sadhak on his birthday to saturate his soul with the Divine Grace and spiritually equip him for the rest of the year.

Work done here, the spiritual atmosphere in which it is done, directly leads to spiritual progress. For those who are not sadhaks but are simple devotees, this work has a beneficial effect on their careers and lives. A first class MA in mathematics was languishing in a small press for an unenviable salary during the war. A sadhak told him to resign that job and serve Mother in the dining room. After six months of service, he was recruited as an officer at four times his press salary by a newly floated automobile company where in the next 30 years he rose to the post next only to that of the chairman. That is the power of service to Mother.

What we call Ashram today appears to be a single building but really consists of four different buildings. This houses now the room where Sri Aurobindo did his silent tapas for 24 continuous years, the two rooms where Mother stayed in succession, the double-vaulted samadhi, the meditation hall, the fruit room, the reception service, the publication department, the safety vault, the garage for Mother's car, the Bulletin room, the reading room, etc. The jasmine at the entrance is over 60 years old. The tree that sheds its shade on the samadhi is called service tree.

At the entrance of the main building of the Ashram is a spacious hall for reception. The office of the reception service is in the room next to this hall on the west. Inside the hall on the eastern side three photographs of Sri Aurobindo are kept. In the middle is the photo taken of him at a young age. On either side are the photos taken when he attained samadhi. Mother had attached significance to the photo of early days. No one knows the reason for the significance. When a sadhak made pranams to this photo and got up, he saw Sri Aurobindo coming out alive from the photo. When this was reported to Mother, She commented that it was a powerful photograph of Sri Aurobindo.

There are as many aspects to Mother's conduct of the Ashram as there are aspects in the universal life. Not all come to our attention. Nor do we fully understand the true significance even when it catches our attention.

An Ashram department purchased a sophisticated machine from London and once it went out of order. The department contacted the supplier firm and awaited the engineers to come and attend to the repair. In the meantime, they suspended a few operations and carried on certain minor operations so that the part in disrepair would not be disturbed. One morning when the sadhak in charge of the machine opened the room, he found someone cleaning the machine and was taken aback. He saw a figure about two feet tall. When he mentioned it to his colleagues, doubts were raised in their minds about the man's soundness of mind. Not desiring to evoke laughter, he stopped mentioning the topic. But he continued to see the figure at the machine on subsequent days. He solved the problem for himself by knocking at the door before opening it. The engineers from London arrived, examined the machine, heard the history of its breakdown but were surprised to know the machine was being used. They asked for a demonstration and it was given. They opened the part that was broken and saw it was in several pieces. Normally in that condition the machine could not move an inch. They reported it to Mother, including the presence of the small being. Mother explained there were several benevolent beings in the atmosphere taking care of Her people and materials.

There is spiritual peace in the Ashram. It is not only there. Every article coming from the Ashram carries that peace, even though it is a book or even a brick. A business executive came to a rest house on one of the Ashram farms and was struck by the peace that prevailed there. He could appreciate the peace in the rest house and exclaimed that if peace, which he had not found in the hundreds of temples he had visited, was there in the rest house, how much more pronounced would it be at the main Ashram.

An orthodox man came to Pondicherry in connection with his official duties. He visited the Ashram out of general interest and had his lunch in the Ashram dining room. After the meal was over, he thought of taking paan and tobacco as usual. In his orthodoxy he had made an exception for paan. A new sensation in his stomach diverted his attention from the paan and he began to think aloud. "Constant travel necessitated by inspection duties and continuous hotel food had spoiled my digestion and stomach. After a meal, I used to have an uneasy sensation for some time. I have come to live with that. Today I have a new, different feeling. Food sits pleasantly in my stomach. My usual uneasiness is not there. Perhaps it is Mother's  prasad that cured my disorder in the stomach. Let me not take tobacco, at least, today."

The atmosphere of the Ashram is very pronounced. It cannot be missed or mistaken. Even walking on the roads adjoining it, one can feel it. Generally it is full of peace. But in truth the atmosphere carries peace, silence, joy and delight. One feels a sudden elevation in the atmosphere. Someone said, "Blindfold me and take me to several places in Pondicherry. I shall tell you when I come to the precincts of the Ashram."

A man of about 70 was intrigued by several youngsters taking serious interest in the Ashram. Out of curiosity, he came there one day. Being an old man, he took notice of sadhaks of his age. Their health and vigour struck him. He exclaimed, "It is unbelievable that aged people in the Ashram walk erect without a walking stick." Essentially, this is a yoga that aims at conquering death, disease and suffering. Sri Aurobindo says a first realisation is prolongation of life at will. It is natural that the sadhaks enjoy a sound health not comparable with others. When someone takes to Mother, automatically he gets a longer lease of life than was sanctioned at birth. That boon is part of the Ashram.

An adventurous young man from the Ashram undertook a tour of the Himalayas. He heard of a famous yogi and went to see him in a cave. The yogi was stark naked and was seated on a tiger skin. He told the boy, "You come from an Ashram near the sea and in that Ashram they are doing something difficult and new."  Mother was struck by the sincerity of the yogi who could know what was going on here and the genuine frankness with which he acknowledged it.

There was a government officer in Madras who was a devout worshipper of Shakti. By his pure devotion he had acquired several powers and hence a reputation among his friends. Once he commented about the Ashram and the unique work that was attempted there and prophesied that it would become internationally known. He also predicted that the Chinese invasion would end. It might be, he added, on their own initiative.

Some Indologists were pursuing a line of research to fathom the historical circumstances surrounding Rishi Agastya and his stay in Tamil Nadu in ancient days. Their research led them to believe that the very spot where Sri Aurobindo Ashram is situated today was the spot where Sage Agastya's hermitage once stood.

We said earlier that the Ashram represents the future achievements of the earth as a pioneer and as a microcosm. By the same token, Mother says the Ashram represents and embodies all the present difficulties of the universe. If those knots are loosened here, humanity would be freed in those aspects.

Occasionally ardent devotees in their early enthusiasm insist on joining the Ashram in spite of Mother's refusal or unwillingness. Mother relented in certain cases and admitted them. On joining the Ashram, they found their inner urges got out of hand and reared their rebellious heads. Not able to handle the situation they reversed their decision. Mother says each ashramite represents one possibility in the universe along with one difficulty. It is for the sadhak to throw his inner yogic weight on the side of the possibility and against the difficulty. In doing so, Mother comes to the individual's support. Work done for Mother purifies his physical depths and removes the difficulty, bringing the possibility to fruition. That is yogic progress. In handling the inner difficulty, the aspirants' part is to take the right side and refuse to allow the wrong side expression. This is the right attitude. Given the right attitude, Mother handles the power and strength of the rebellious material and wipes it out. Man by himself cannot conquer those vibrations. When Mother says that the sadhak's part is only surrender and the yoga itself will be done by her, this is what she means. In the later days after Sri Aurobindo's passing away and particularly after her own retirement, she did not encourage people to join the Ashram. In fact, after 1970, she advised a foreigner to do her yoga from where she was and not join the Ashram. She also explained that joining the Ashram at that stage might help the inner difficulties surface in an unmanageable way.


book | by Dr. Radut