Search for Light
.....Creation by the Word.... - Sri Aurobindo

The Ashram's Spiritual History ->Immortality Day

 

Our Light and Delight


Recollections of Life with The Mother
 


"The Mother is not a disciple of Sri Aurobindo. She has had the same realisation and experience as myself."

"The Mother's sadhana started when she was very young. When she was twelve or thirteen, every evening many teachers came to her and taught her various spiritual disciplines. Among them was a dark Asiatic figure. When we first met, she immediately recognised me as the dark Asiatic figure whom she used to see a long time ago. That she should come here and work with me for a common goal was, as it were, a divine dispensation.

"The Mother was an adept in the Buddhist yoga and the yoga of the Gita even before she came to India. Her yoga was moving towards a grand synthesis. After this, it was natural that she should come here. She has helped and is helping to give a concrete form to my yoga. This would not have been possible without her co-operation."

There could be no better tribute to our Mother than these words of Sri Aurobindo written in his letter of August 17, 1941 to Arabinda Basu through Nirodbaran.¹

The Mother herself, in various places, has alluded to the truth of occultism and spirituality compassed by her both before and after coming to take her place by the side of Sri Aurobindo. In a many-faceted article entitled Spiritual and Occult Truths ², Huta has included, amidst a host of other new material, a most astonishing piece of information the Mother conveyed to her in 1961. The Mother disclosed "how she had achieved in her tender age the highest occult truths, how she had realised and seen all the visions set forth in Savitri". Here is indeed a marvellous flash of psychic autobiography. Huta continues the report based on the Mother's words: "Actually, she had experienced the poem's fundamental revelations before she arrived in Pondicherry and before Sri Aurobindo read out Savitri to her early in the morning day after day at a certain period of the Ashram. She also said to me that she had never told Sri Aurobindo all that she had seen beforehand."

I am especially interested in this information, for it touches on an unforgettable phase of my own life in the Ashram. Owing to my sustained aspiration to write what Sri Aurobindo has termed "overhead poetry", that is, poetic inspiration caught from secret levels of consciousness above the mind, levels of a superhuman light and delight, Sri Aurobindo generously granted the incredible favour of letting me see portions of his epic, which was then still in the making. Without letting anyone know, he started sending me, every morning, in sealed envelopes the opening cantos. On October 25, 1936, written in his own fine and sensitive yet forceful hand, there burst upon me the beauty and amplitude of the first sixteen lines of the poem's prelude of "symbol dawn" as it stood at that time. The precious gift of passages kept coming to me in private for months and months and a happy discussion of them went to and fro. Before enclosing them, usually with the Mother's "Amal" inscribed on the covers, Sri Aurobindo must have daily read the verse out to her prior to breaking up their joint sessions of correspondence with the sadhakas late at night and through the small hours of the morning. Some time in early 1938 the Amal-ward stream of Savitri ceased like the fabled river Sarasvati of the Rigvedic symbolism. I went on a visit to Bombay. Sri Aurobindo still wrote to me about the poem, mentioning its progress, but no passages were sent. Not long afterwards, he suffered an accident to his right leg and his old routine of sitting with the Mother to tackle the copious correspondence stopped and so did letter-writing, except to Dilip and me. Now the poet was surrounded by a small number of attendants, to one of whom —Nirodbaran — he accorded a privilege whose gloriousness I most envy, for he started dictating to him revisions and extensions of the poem. The year and a half from nearly October's end in 1936 to almost the close of February 1938 must have been the "certain period of the Ashram" to which Huta's article refers, a period of shining surprise not only to the Grace- inundated disciple to whom Savitri was sent but also on a far deeper plane to the Mother for the wonderful language in which the Master unveiled his high visions and to the Master himself because the Mother had anticipated them in mystic silence some thirty years in advance.

Side by side though Sri Aurobindo and the Mother stood, she often took the position as a of a "disciple" and spoke of carrying out a work allotted to her and of promulgating his message to the world. On the other hand, he never tired of declaring her to be not only equal to him but also indispensable for his mission and even suggested that if she were not there as his counterpart he would be incomplete. Many of his utterances about her are well known, but a few of an extremely illuminating kind are liable to be over- looked because they have not yet formed part of any published collection. I shall concentrate on them as well as on one or two which, though they have had a better fate, may not have caught everybody's eye.

Answering a disciple's question, "Is complete transformation possible without having a Shakti³?", Sri Aurobindo, after some general remarks, jocular at one place, indicated the Mother's inevitable counterpart-role:³

"Why not? Transformation would be complete if one could bring down the thing that you have got in the mind and the vital being into the physical also, into the very cells of the material body. The conditions are that you should be able to keep the same deep peace, wideness, strength and power and plasticity from the mind downward to the very cells. When that basis is ready, the working from above begins. The transformation does not require a Shakti. Incarnating the Divine in the body means incarnating your own Divine Self that is in the Supermind. . . Transformation is a personal affair. I do not quite see what a Shakti has to do with it. Is your question about Shakti a prologue to an application for marriage? I do not object to a Shakti if there is a genuine case. You should not mix up your case with me.

"The function of the shakti is something special. In my own case it was a necessary condition for the work that I had to do. If I had had to do only my own transformation or give a new yoga or a new ideal to a select few people who came into personal contact with me I could have done that without having any Shakti. But, for the work that I had to do, it was necessary that the two sides must come together. By the coming together of Mirra **; and me certain conditions are created which make it easy for you to do the transformation. You can take advantage of these conditions. But it is not necessary that everybody should have a Shakti just because in my case it was necessary. You cannot generalise like that from one case. It is not a question of great or small. It is a question of your being less complex than I am. If you had to do all the things that I have done you would never be able to do it. And before you can have a Shakti you must first of all deserve a Shakti. The first condition is that you must be master of all the movements of Kama, lust. There are many other things. One thing is that there must be complete union on every plane of inner consciousness."

Further light on what Sri Aurobindo has considered the necessity of the two sides coming together is shed by the closing part of a letter in which, on March 29,1926, Amrita communicated to a disciple Sri Aurobindo's answers to his questions:*¹

"...it will be a mistake if you make too rigid a separation between A. G.*² and Mirra. Both influences are necessary for the complete development of the Sadhana. The work of the two together alone brings down the Supramental Truth into the physical plane. A. G. acts directly on the mental and on the vital being through the illumined mind; he represents the Purusha element whose strength is predominantly in illumined knowledge (intuition, supramental or spiritual) and the power that acts in this knowledge, while the psychic being supports this action and helps to transform the physical and vital planes. Mirra acts directly on the psychic and on the emotional vital and physical being through the illumined psychic consciousness while the illumined intuitions of the supramental being give her the necessary knowledge to act on the right lines and at the right moment. Her force representing the Shakti element is directly psychic, vital, physical and her spiritual knowledge is predominantly practical in its nature. It is, that is to say, a large and detailed knowledge and experience of the mental, vital and physical forces at play and, with the knowledge, the power to handle them for the purposes of life and of yoga."

A very crucial pointer to the Mother's central place in Sri Aurobindo's world-work is in four pronouncements of his over and above the one to Arabinda Basu. In a letter of September 16, 1935 he writes: *³ "It is not clear what your Guru meant by my sitting on the path; that could have been true of the period between 1915 and 1920 when I was writing the Arya, but the sadhana and the work were waiting   for the Mother's coming. In 1923 or 1924, I could not be described as sitting on the path, so far as the sadhana was concerned, but it may perhaps be only a metaphor or symbol for the outward form of the work not yet being ready." Another letter, dated July 27, 1934, says among other things:¹*** "Before the Mother came... I was still seeking my way for the transformation and the passage to the Supramental (all the part of the Yoga that goes beyond the ordinary Vedanta) and acted very much on a principle of laissez faire with the few sadhaks who were there." Nirodbaran, in the talk of December 10, 1938 between Sri Aurobindo and his attendants after the accident seventeen days earlier, said to him: ²*** "The Mother's coming must have greatly helped you in your work and in your sadhana." Sri Aurobindo answered enthusiastically: "Of course, of course. All my realisations — Nirvana and others — would have remained theoretical, as it were, so far as the outer world was concerned. It is the Mother who showed the way to a practical form. Without her no organised manifestation would have been possible. She has been doing this kind of work from her very childhood." No wonder that at the end of the letter to Basu Sri Aurobindo added: "One of the two great steps in this yoga is to take refuge in the Mother" — the other great step being, as Sri Aurobindo afterwards clarified to Nirodbaran: "Aspiration of the sadhak for the divine life."³*** But perhaps the most sweeping as well as startling compliment to the Mother — a compliment charged with a humility possible only to a supreme instrument of the Divine such as Sri Aurobindo — occurs in one of the months just before the Descent of the Overmind into the physical beings of both Sri Aurobindo and the Mother. He is recorded as saying: 4*** "The inner guide may fail after a time in the sadhana. I had attained an inner calm, before J took help from Lele. But when I came to Pondicherry, there was no help from within, and I was seeking for some illumination from an outside thing or person. Then Mirra came; and, had she not come here, I would have been still fumbling..."

The same luminous humility overwhelms us in the words Amrita once reported to me in the early days of my Ashram-stay. He told me that after the Mother's arrival in Pondicherry Sri Aurobindo declared to the young men with him at the time, of whom Amrita was one: "I never knew the meaning of 'surrender' until Mirra surrendered her- self to me."

The extremism of this declaration is confirmed by Barindra Kumar Ghose, Sri Aurobindo's youngest brother. When he had just come back from the Andamans, to which he had been banished for implication in the Alipore Bomb Conspiracy, he asked Sri Aurobindo: "the Mother has written in her Prayers what she felt after she saw you. But what was your feeling when you saw the Mother?" Sri Aurobindo thought for a moment and told him: "That was the first time I knew that perfect surrender to the last physical cell was humanly possible; it was when the Mother came and bowed down that I saw that perfect complete surrender in action."¹*¹

We might assert that in the first meeting of the Mother and Sri Aurobindo at 3.30 p.m. on March 29,1914 the typical Aurobindonian Yoga, with its insistence primarily on Surrender to the Divine, found for the wide world the true seed of its call to life to break from the common hold of earth and thrust upward in self-abandonment towards the Light without yet losing its root in terrestrial existence, so that ultimately the Light may be drawn into the very depths of Matter and transform them.

Balancing this fact, we can discern in that inner gesture of the Mother throwing her whole self at the feet of Sri Aurobindo — a gesture which often took an outer shape in the days to come — her recognition of his absolute mastery over her life and of the beginning of a new epoch of spirituality even for so extraordinary and so richly experienced a Truth-seeker as she. What she felt about him could be seen every time she spoke his name. A taste of some ineffable nectar seemed to be on her lips when with a musical blend of invocation of his presence from afar and evocation of it from her own profundities she pronounced it like a Mantra of mantras in a half French half English accent — the S of "Sri" becoming invariably Sh and the r of it as well as of "Aurobindo" emerging with a kind of golden gurgle from the throat. Utter devotion and utter identification appeared to be simultaneous in the sound. Her governance of the Ashram which he had put totally in her hands and which she moulded and expanded and brought to a multi-aspected creativeness was as if that Great Name were taking on Great Form everywhere. Although from the evening of November 24, 1926 he withdrew into a back- ground of "dynamic meditation" to expedite his work of bringing about the descent of the hitherto-unmanifest Supermind into the blind-seeming long-suffering physical substance of the world and, although the Mother was to all intents and purposes our sole Guru, she ever acted out the verity enshrined in the letter of probably 1930 which was recently published in Mother India,¹¹* a letter written by a sadhak under Sri Aurobindo's directions and corrected by him:

"I am afraid that you labour under a fundamental misconception regarding the Ashram. It is not an institution planned by Sri Aurobindo with certain rules of management, laws or regulations fixed and made to order. It has grown up of itself out of the force of the Truth he manifests and can follow only the movements of that Truth. Sri Aurobindo and the Ashram form one integral whole. His being is spread out in the Ashram, gathers and takes up the entire life of the latter into itself and into one harmonious spiritual unity. Its life is the life of the Spirit; its growth is the growth of the Spirit. It is entirely wrong to look at the Ashram as a group or collection of Sadhakas or to look at it as having a life or an aspiration or an aim that does or can exist apart from Sri Aurobindo. Its life and movements and activities are an expression, integrally, of its growth and development from within. It has no laws, rules or regulations, except the one law of spiritual growth and development in and through Sri Aurobindo."

After Sri Aurobindo withdrew from his body, the Mother may be said to have become physically even more Aurobindonian than before. Once, when some recent photographs of her were under scrutiny, she told us that her very face and particularly the manner in which she smiled were becoming like Sri Aurobindo's. Before his passing, there were two bodies to establish the Superminds victory; now there was only one and Sri Aurobindo was packing everything into it as if it were at the same time his own and the Mother's. A clue to this biune fact came to me on my birthday in 1968. She had occasion to mention the event of December 5, 1950. She said:

"You see, when he left his body, he gave his whole supramental force to me. It came to me most concretely."

Then she touched the skin and flesh of her left arm to convey the sense of the concreteness, as if even flesh and skin had felt that supramental force. She added: "His force passed from his body into mine. Its passage was like a wind blowing upon and into my body."

The point about the intensified and redoubled presence of Sri Aurobindo in her was driven home to me on two other occasions. On April 30, 1953 I spoke to the Mother about a friend who had left the Ashram "he claims that Sri Aurobindo is all the time present with him, communicating with him and guiding him." The Mother replied: "The fact simply is that Sri Aurobindo made an emanation of himself for him. And this emanation Sri Aurobindo has not withdrawn. That is an act of Grace. It does not mean that the central Sri Aurobindo, Sri Aurobindo himself, is there. He is here with me all the time and working through me."

The book Champaklal Speaks quotes a direct letter to the person concerned, written on 5.5.1953:¹**

"I do not deny that you have got a connection with something of Sri Aurobindo, the something that was interested in you and in what you are doing. This something might have remained with you to inspire and help you in your work in America and elsewhere. But it is only a part, a very, very small part of the Sri Aurobindo whom I know and with whom I lived physically for thirty years, and who has not left me, not for a moment — for He is still with me, day and night, thinking through my brain, writing through my pen, speaking through my mouth and acting through my organising power."

The truth expressed here came to be reaffirmed by her in general when I raised an issue apropos of a message she had given on her birthday in 1958. Both the French and the English versions were published in the March issue of Mother India. The message consisted of three sentences. In the original the first ran:

"Fêter la naissance d'un corps transitoire peut satisfaire certains sentiments fidèles."

The Mother's English translation was:

"To celebrate the birth of a transitory body can satisfy some faithful feelings."

The remainder of the message in English read:

"To celebrate the manifestation of the eternal Consciousness can be done at every moment of the universal history."

"But to celebrate the advent of a new world, the Supramental, is a marvellous and exceptional privilege."

Evidently, the Mother was pulling us beyond the disciples' devoted urge to make overmuch of the annually returning single day on which the Guru's physical being had been born. With a natural modesty and an impersonal insight her emphasis fell more on the entry into time of the larger non-individual reality of the everlasting inner Divine within that being, and most on the transcendent Supermind's becoming now, through this reality and that being, a part of the earth's future and creating the possibility of an earthly heaven. The last allusion was to the Supramental Manifestation that had occurred on February 29,1956 in the earth's subtle-physical layer. But I was rather disturbed by the word "transitory", I wrote to the Mother that it suggested that her present body would pass away from our midst. I added: "Such a suggestion cannot but be quite upsetting to your disciples. Surely if Sri Aurobindo were here to guide us he would never let you use the adjective 'transitory'." I concluded with my conviction that Sri Aurobindo, who had asked her, as she herself had stated, to fulfil the Yoga of Supramental Descent and Trans- formation, would choose the French equivalent of "transitional".

After the Mother had read my note, she came to me where I sat on the floor as usual, waiting for her to finish her lunch and then meet me before she took her short siesta and I left for my house. Very quietly she looked at me and said in a low yet firm voice: "You have been impertinent. How can you dare to say what Sri Aurobindo would choose or not choose? Do you know where Sri Aurobindo is?" I saw in a flash the mistake I had committed. I said: "I am sorry, Mother. I did not realise the truth, I know where he is." At once she had tenderness in her eyes. She said quite simply: "He is all the time with me and directing my actions."

Clarifying the word to which I had objected, she wrote on a small piece of paper: "All body in course of transformation is by this very fact transitory. Transformed' means being changed into something else." This by itself might not mean the non-perishing of her own body: she was generalising, and transformation might stand broadly for evolutionary progress of the human physical vehicle through the ages. But, in my opinion, the Mother could not have implied that her present body was only a part of that general progress and might have to be given up at some point of time at a certain stage. In the circumstances of the Yogic process going on in the period immediately succeeding the event of February 29, 1956, death was not envisaged as a possibility. On September 25,1957, the very year of the February Message, she asserts in connection with a passage in Sri Aurobindo's book. The Supramental manifestion:¹*

"I think — I know — that it is now certain that we shall realise what he expects of us. It has become no longer a hope but a certainty. Only the time necessary for this realisation will be longer or shorter according to our individual effort, our concentration, our goodwill and the Importance we give to this fact. For the inattentive observer things may appear very much what they were before, but for one who knows how to see and is not deceived by appearances things are going well.

"Let each one do his best and perhaps not many years will have to elapse before the first visible results become apparent to all."

The general reference is to what in the same talk she has termed "the Superman" who must serve as a link "between humanity as it is and the supramental being created in the supramental way" — that is, created not by the animal mode of birth to which all of us, including the Mother, have owed our bodies, but by a direct "materialisation", an occult method to be found by the transformed human being. The talk of April 16 in the next year returns to the theme of discovering "the means of producing new beings without going through the old animal method," and says: "these beings — who will have a truly spiritual birth — will constitute the elements of the new race, the Supramental race"¹¹¹ rather than a race of intermediate beings. In this talk too the Mother looks forward to the superman's rapid advent: "This new realisation is proceeding with what one might call a lightning speed."²¹¹

Here, as in the earlier conclusion, she must have had in mind not a general reference but a particular one — namely, her own body moving onward to commence a super-humanity, the human supramentalised as distinct from the supramental assuming a human-looking shape. Not that she attached any importance, in a self-regarding way, to the body she possessed nor that she considered it a paragon of health and on that account a just claimant for the physical divinisation which is the crowning consequence of the Integral Yoga. True, many of the illnesses she went through came of her dealings with the world's impurities and of her throwing herself wide-open to contacts with the unregenerate consciousness of the people she was nurturing towards the Life Divine. But she never made any secret of certain defects in her health. They were inevitable, for "la condition humaine” had been accepted by her in right earnest: the aim was to cope with actual physical nature in both its strength and its weakness in order to take Mr. Everyman to the status of Superman. The "human condition" could be seen clearly from a remark she made in my presence. Navajata had had a severe attack of renal colic. One morning, when he met her/she asked him how he felt. He answered in a somewhat sad tone that a little pain still persisted in the kidney-region. The Mother, wanting to take, away his attention from this slight symptom, calmly declared: "From the beginning of this century there has not been a day when I haven't had a pain in my abdomen."

Sri Aurobindo has written of some deep-seated chronic troubles in his body, which he had Yogically tackled. The Mother's body had, besides this abdominal weakness, two abnormal characteristics. Udar once reported to me that she had told him of her body's tendency to dizziness at a height and a spontaneous aversion to the proximity of fire. Possibly the latter characteristic was the subtle-physical being's "carry-over" of the intense experience of burning at the stake to which Joan of Arc had been condemned: the Mother is believed to have been in one of her past births the Maid of Orleans who had come inwardly charged with the Soul of France. The Mother had herself hinted to me at the possibility of some sort of "carry-over" of even very outward physical formations when I on one occasion remarked how in a certain position her hands looked exactly like Mona Lisa's in the painting by Leonardo. ;

Of course, heredity too is responsible for some bodily traits and we do not know what she derived from parent- age when she took birth in 1878 in the family of Maurice Alfassa, a Turk from Adrianople who had come to settle in Paris two years before with his wife Mathilde Ismaloun of Cairo, who had Egyptian Pharaonic blood in her veins. But, whatever the inheritance or the "carry-over", negative or positive, we can have no doubt that her body had been so organised in its subtle qualities as to be the fit field for the supernormal experiment of supramental transformation. It had an openness in nerve and cell to the spiritual light, a supple strength which allowed her to play tennis every afternoon even when past eighty, and a resolute endurance which made light of the common ills of the flesh. Above all, it was a body responding to the Divine's demand for surrender, a demand met in its entirety by even the physical consciousness and not only the inner self. Both its humility and its uniqueness come through in that passage written on September 8, 1954:¹¹

"The body repeats constantly and with a poignant sincerity: 'What am I to demand anything whatsoever from anyone at all? Left to myself I am nothing, I know nothing, I can do nothing. Unless the truth penetrates into me and directs me, I am incapable of taking even the minutest decision and of knowing what is the best thing to do and to live even in the most insignificant circumstances. Shall I ever be capable of being transformed to the point of becoming What I ought to be and of manifesting What wants to manifest upon earth?' But why does this answer always come from the depths, from You, Lord, with an indisputable certitude: 'If you cannot do it, no other body upon earth can do it.' There is but one conclusion: I shall persist in my effort, without giving in, I shall persist until death or until victory."

The last two sentences remind us of two statements of Sri Aurobindo in 1935: "... If I am seeking after supramentalisation, it is because it is a thing that has to be done for the earth-consciousness and if it is not done in myself, it cannot be done in others...²¹ It is not for personal greatness that I am seeking the Supermind. I care nothing for greatness or littleness in the human sense. I am seeking to bring some principle of inner Truth, Light, Harmony, Peace into the earth-consciousness ...if greater men than myself have not had this vision and this ideal before them, that is no reason why I should not follow my Truth-sense and Truth-vision...Let all men jeer at me if they will or all Hell fall upon me if it will for my presumption, — I go on till I conquer or perish. This is the spirit in which I seek the Supermind, no hunting for greatness for myself or others."**¹

In the article which I wrote after Sri Aurobindo had passed away and which received the Mother's full approval, I tried to lay out the objectives and details of what I termed the Sacrifice of Sri Aurobindo marking a change of Yogic strategy to accelerate humanity's evolution. I said that Sri Aurobindo had changed his old formula "I conquer or perish" into a new paradox: "I perish to conquer." The Mother's cry of "death" or "victory" can lead an Aurobindonian worker like her to nothing save the same paradox in a new key. But her change mystifies us, in spite of all that the inner vision can descry, because there is none to confirm what is seen and because it is difficult to reconcile with it the fact that Sri Aurobindo, unlike the Mother, could afford to sacrifice himself knowing his counterpart was there for him to pack in that unique survivor the Supermind's final triumph.

Let me not, however, end this chapter about the relationship between the two Avatars on a semi-tragic note. Apropos of the supernormality of the bodies they occupied and used, I should like to touch on a topic which within a limited area at the same time illustrates this supernormality and brings the two personalities together. I take my point of departure from that extremely valuable book, Champaklal Speaks, on which I have already drawn and which, along with its sequel Champaklal's Treasures, conjures up the Mother and Sri Aurobindo to our hearts and minds in the most vivid and intimate way, while evoking without intention the instinctively wise, expansively warm and ever-helpful figure of the life-long disciple himself, ever-helpful not only to the Master and the Mother but also to the groping and stumbling humans who sought their saviour feet.

Yes, the books have extreme value, yet here and there one may take the liberty to fault them. At places, Sri Aurobindo is reported as talking not as a born master of English would but in a mode of Champaklalese. The editing should have been more careful. At one place at least, there is a wrong attribution: an early poem of mine/ which Sri Aurobindo had corrected and commented on, has assumed Radhanand as its author! At another place I believe there is an inaccuracy owing to a misunderstanding, and my closing anecdote starts from the event concerned in it.

Champaklal reports on page 85 of his first book that in the presence of Amrita and himself the Mother told Satyakarma that when in 1920 she had fasted for ten days she had not taken anything, "not even a drop of water." I expressed to Champaklal my doubt about this. I said a fast of such a kind was not possible. He countered by asking how I could consider anything to be impossible for the Mother. I still remain unconvinced, especially as Champaklal did not obtain a confirmation from either Satyakarma or Amrita. I hold that she must have said some- what dramatically; "nothing but a drop of water at times." Fasting/ as any dictionary will enlighten us, consists in not taking food. Water is always taken, unless the fast is a short religious one as at the Muslim Ramazan — from sunrise to sunset. The idea of not taking water during a prolonged abstention from food never arises — unless one deliberately risks death, as in some cases of hunger-strike. In most cases even of hunger-strike, it is imbibed, though perhaps on a small scale. Sri Aurobindo went on a fast twice/once in Alipore Jail and again in Pondicherry. At neither time was there any question of abstention from water. And I am all the more positive about the Mother because I have myself heard her speak of this fast of hers. Both Champaklal and Amrita were present when she spoke/but Champaklal has perhaps forgotten the talk. It was in the "Stores" (Prosperity Room) on the first floor of the Library House one evening before the Soup-distribution downstairs.

The Mother never referred to not drinking water. Had she kept away from water, she would certainly have emphasised that remarkable feat. Her story was concerned only with food. And she said that one of the effects of her fast was that when she held a cup or anything else with her fingers, the hand kept shaking. I think the word "cup" is rather significant for our controversy. But the drinking of water or any other liquid does not lessen the extraordinariness of the fact that, just like Sri Aurobindo, she continued her normal routine of daily activities all through the fasting period. I am sure she could have equalled Sri Aurobindo's number of fasting days — twenty-one or so — without feeling any debility. But she had to stop with a mere ten days for a special reason. A little shyly she told us that she ended her fast when Sri Aurobindo remarked: "You are not looking very pretty."

I surmise that if she had undergone a ten-days dehydration, Sri Aurobindo's comment would have been less of an understatement.

 

¹ The Mother — Sweetness and Light (Editions Auropress, Auroville, 1978), pp. 203-204.

² Mother India, February 21,1978, pp. 134-79

 ³ Spiritual feminine partner.

 ³ "Sri Aurobindo at Evening Talk: Some Notes of 1920-1926" by V. Chidanandam, Mother India, April 1970. pp. 147-148. 

** In the early days after the Mother's final arrival in Pondicherry in 1920 her name was still spelt this way according to its original form. She had also not yet taken charge of the Ashram.

Mother India, December 5,1970, p. 613.

The abbreviation for Aurobindo Ghose, which the disciples used at that time.

Sri Aurobindo on Himself and on the Mother (Sri Aurobindo Ashram, Pondicherry, 1953), p. 366.

**¹ Ibid., pp. 214-215.

¹¹ Champaklal Speaks, p. 92.

 ²¹  Sri Aurobindo on Himself and on the Mother, p. 216. 

¹¹¹ Ibid., p. 314.

²¹¹ Ibid., p. 315. 

¹* Questions and Answers 1957-58 (Collected Works of the Mother —The Centenary Edition, 1977), p. 191.

 ¹**Champaklal Speaks, Sri Aurobindo Ashram, Pondicherry, 1975, p. 25.

 ¹¹*November 1977, p. 780.

¹*¹Glimpses of the Mother's Life, Compiled by Nilima Das and edited by K.D. Sethna (Sri Aurobindo Ashram Mother India, Pondicherry, 1978), p. 253.

¹***Ibid., 367.  

 ²*** Talks with Sri Aurobindo (Sri Aurobindo Pathamandir, Calcutta, 1966), p. 6.

 ³*** The Mother —Sweetness and Light, pp. 204-205.

4*** "Sri Aurobindo at Evening Talk: Some Notes of May-to-November 1926" by V. Chidanandam, Mother India, August 1971, p. 453. 

- K. D. Sethna

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The Mother deals with each one in a different way, according to their need and their nature, not according to any fixed mental rule. It would be absurd for her to do the same thing with everybody as if all were machines which had to be touched and handled in the same way.

- Sri Aurobindo Volume 25,SABCL
p.300 (31-10-1935)