I arrived in the Ashram on December 16, 1927. It was a little more than a year after November 24,1926, the Siddhi Day, the Day of Victory marking the descent of what Sri Aurobindo has called the Overmind, the Krishna Consciousness, the plane of the Great Gods, into the physical being of Sri Aurobindo and the Mother. This Victory was to prepare the descent of the supreme divine dynamism that has never directly worked in the world and that Sri Aurobindo has termed the Supermind, the Truth-Consciousness, the spiritual Power holding the secret of Matter's total transformation.
The first sadhak I met was Pujalal who had come to the Pondicherry station to receive me and the girl I had married two months earlier and who afterwards came to be known in the Ashram as Lalita. We were taken to the room of purani through whom I had corresponded with Sri Aurobindo. Purani had not yet returned from the main Ashram building where he had gone for some daily work entrusted to him. He came soon after. And, along with him and Pujala, we watched from a north window the Mother take her morning walk on the flat roof of the house some distance away, in which she and Sri Aurobindo had their rooms. She had her long brown hair down and in the morning light she looked a vision of wonderful beauty. Immediately she won our hearts and turned us into disciples.
When she had finished her stroll we sat for a while in Purani's room before being taken to the house close to the main Ashram block, which the Mother had engaged for us. I noticed that a big white tomcat was sitting on Purani's bed. It was introduced to me as "Amar", the name signifying "Immortal". An unusual name—but I never knew its relevance till November 25,1975, my seventy-first birthday.
It would seem that this beautiful cat was born on November 26,1926 and got its name from the event that signalised that day, between which and the Day of Victory my date of birth was sandwiched. I came to know also that "Amar" had been given to Champa, the resident wife of a visiting sadhak, Punamchand, with some definite purpose and that later, when it died by falling into a well, the Mother, on learning the news, said, "Oh!"—an exclamation which meant as if the death had somehow been connected with her work as well as with the person to whom the tomcat had been given.
"Immortality Day" was an occasion mentioned to me by a few inmates of the Ashram during the early months of my stay there. But it soon fell into oblivion. Just some weeks back I referred to it in a letter to Udar who has been here for the last thirty-five years or so. He did not know what I was talking about and, when I told him a few things I had heard, he was surprised that nobody had even hinted to him of them in the past. At the moment, perhaps, I must be one of the two or three who alone remember that a great occasion led to the designation "Immortality Day". On observing the almost universal ignorance about it I made up my mind to have a talk with Champaklal who, according to my memory of the Ashram's early days, had been a participant in the ceremony which had taken place on November 26 forty-nine years before.
A natural chance came when I went up to meet him on my own "bonne fête". In the course of our conversation on various matters relating to his years with the Mother I asked him to tell me all he knew of the "Immortality Day". When I said that hardly anybody recalled it, he replied: "How could people know of it when Datta and I were most probably the only persons present on the occasion?" What I gathered from Champaklal, in addition to what I have already said on "Amar", is as follows:
At that time (1926) Sri Aurobindo and the Mother were living in the "Library House", the building to which the principal Ashram gate directly leads. A day or two before November 26, Champaklal arranged flowers on the floor of the Mother's room in the form of the Swastika. The Swastika is the sign of Immortality. The Mother commented that it was remarkable that he should have chosen to make this particular sign on that particular day. Her words seemed to suggest an inner spiritual movement going on, significant of what the Swastika represented. Then on the 26th, in the passage-room where soup used to be prepared, the Mother stood before a basin of water and, holding her hands over it, appeared to pass into the water a spiritual consciousness and power descending into her. She declared that a most important and fundamental event had occurred but it was both very sacred and secret. She asked for some small glass bottles. When they were brought, she poured the occultly charged water into them and gave them to those who where there. According to her, the divine principle of Immortality had been brought down on that day.
How should we understand the message of the event? Just as November 24 promised with the descent of the delegate consciousness of the Supermind the advent of the true Supramental Divinity, November 26 confirmed to the very last particular of supramentalisation what the earlier occasion had betokened in general: the very last particular is the divinisation of the body. In Indian spirituality, from the beginning. Immortality has stood for much more than personal survival of physical death: it has stood for a realisation of the Divine Consciousness which is infinite and eternal, the supreme God-Self both within and beyond the changeful series of birth and death in which our common terrestrial existence is caught. Immortality, in the Integral Yoga of Sri Aurobindo, necessarily includes this experience. When the Overmind came down into his body and the Mother's, the highest range of past realisation of the Immortal Being was compassed not only in the inner consciousness but also in the outermost, with wonderful consequences in the material sheath itself and an earnest of the full and final result which would come by the arrival of the Supramental Truth. The total earnest of the Godlike future was revealed on November 26—a signal almost incredible to the human mind haunted and obsessed by millennia of mortality. That is why the Mother considered the revelation not only sacred but secret and that is why the memory of it was allowed to hide in the background.
However, in the interests of spiritual history it needs to be brought forward now. Besides, a broad suggestion of the ultimate goal sought for was always given by the writings of the Mother as well as Sri Aurobindo. We may end with a quotation from the Mother:
"When it is said that by the union with the Divine one attains the consciousness of immortality/ it means that the consciousness in us is united with that which is immortal and therefore feels itself immortal. We become conscious of the domains where immortality exists. But that does not imply that the physical substance is transformed and becomes immortal; for that quite another procedure has to be followed, and you must not only let it work out the transformation of the physical consciousness, but also the transformation of the physical substance which is quite a considerable work."¹
The "Immortality Day" was the seed assurance that this "considerable work" which has been going on ever since will bear flower and fruit on the earth in the time to come.
*Mother India, February 21,1976.
¹Path to Perfection, Compiled from the Writings of the Mother by Keshavmurti (Dipti Publications, Sri Aurobindo Ashram, Pondicherry, 1967), p. 79.
- K. D. Sethna
All extracts and quotations from the written works of Sri Aurobindo and the Mother and the Photographs of
the Mother and Sri Aurobindo are copyright Sri Aurobindo Ashram Trust, Pondicherry -605002 India.
The only way to come a little close to him is to love him sincerely and give oneself unreservedly to his work. Thus, each one does his best and contributes as much as he can to that transformation of the world which Sri Aurobindo has predicted.
(Vol. 12, pp. 398-99)