Photographs of the Mother taken at Tennis Ground

Dear Friends,

February is the month in which, on the 21st, the Mother’s birthday is celebrated in the Aurobindonian community.

To commemorate the said occasion, we would publish from this week onwards till the 28 February a series of photographs and documents related to the Mother’s life and works as our humble tribute.

As the first installment of the series of tribute, a set of photographs of the Mother taken during Her visits to the Tennis Ground has been published in the online forum of Overman Foundation.

With warm regards,
Anurag Banerjee
Overman Foundation












9 Replies to “Photographs of the Mother taken at Tennis Ground

  1. Nirodbaran describes how the Tennis Ground came into existence:

    “One day we heard that the entire wasteland along the north-eastern seaside was taken on a long lease from the Government and a part of it would be made into tennis courts and the rest into a playground. One cannot imagine now what this place was like before. It was one of the filthiest spots of Pondicherry, full of thistles and wild undergrowth, an open place for committing nuisance as well as a pasture for pigs! The stink and the loathsome sight made the place a Stygian sore and a black spot on the colonial Government. The Mother changed this savage wasteland into a heavenly playground, almost a supramental transformation of Matter. The sea-front was clothed in a vision of beauty and delight. If for nothing else, for this transformation at least, Pondicherry should be eternally grateful to the Mother…

    “To build a long rampart against the surges of the sea was itself a gigantic enterprise for a private institution like our Ashram without any income of its own… She did not count the expense; men and money were freely employed, for the courts had to be made ready within a minimum period of time. We have observed that when the Mother feels the need for a work to be done, she goes ahead, confident that the required resources will come. In the present case, there was also the question of the right worker to see the project through. The Mother said to Sri Aurobindo, “I know there is one man who can do it.” It was Monoranjan Ganguli, a sadhak. I saw him at this work and was really amazed at his wonderful devotion to the Mother, his determination to fulfil the trust she had placed in him. He supervised the operation with unfailing love and duty and cool temper, making the tennis ground his home and passing many sleepless nights sitting on a stool. When I asked him why he should be in such a hurry, he replied, “Mother wants it so. I must finish it within the appointed time.” “Is it possible? Only a few days are left!” I voiced my doubt. “Oh, I must!” and he did. A singular feat indeed, and again the Mother’s right choice.

    “When the courts were ready, there followed a change in our programme. Henceforth Sri Aurobindo’s noon meal was served earlier so that the Mother could go out by 5.00 p.m. She would come to Sri Aurobindo’s room dressed in her specially designed tennis costume. She played for about an hour with a number of young people in turn, even took part in tournaments. From there she came to the Playground and, after another bout of crowded activities, returned to the Ashram at about 8.00 or 9.00 p.m.

    “She played very well for her age, and her claim that she had become a champion in her youth was amply borne out by her steady, sharp forehand strokes which were above all a marvel of precision. Naturally she could not run a great deal, but her agility was remarkable. In her vision tennis is the best game spiritually and physically. She used it not only for her physical fitness, but as in everything else, as a medium for her spiritual action on the players. It was this inner movement that interested her as much as the outer one. For, playing with the Divine meant an aspiration, opening, right attitude, reception of her force through the game, as through other means like physical and mental activity. Here, of course, the manner is more direct and more joyful. In other words, it was used more as a means of sadhana. When someone had some inner difficulties, she would invite him for a game with her and the effect was almost miraculous. On the other hand, she would suddenly stop calling for many days or altogether, a person with whom she had played almost regularly. These are nothing but vagaries, one would be inclined to observe. But they were not; the person involved often knew very well the inner reason. Someone asked the Mother in another context which involved certain hardships, if she put people to test. She replied, “Never! people have already enough difficulties, why should we add more? But there are inner tests.” Too subtle, swift and mysterious are her ways to be grasped by our human mind… On our birthdays she used to invite us specially to play a set with her. The joy that she imparted to us by this means can be compared to the joy that we had in our talks with Sri Aurobindo, different in kind, of course.”

    Nirodbaran, Twelve Years with Sri Aurobindo, pp. 80—83, 1995 edition.

  2. Tennis with the Mother

    She seems but playing tennis—
    The whole world is in that game!
    A little ball she is striking—
    What is struck is a huge white flame
    Leaping across time’s barrier
    Between God’s hush, man’s heart,
    And while the exchange goes on speeding
    The two shall never part.

    In scoring the play’s progress
    The result of minds that move,
    One word in constant usage
    Is the mystic syllable “Love”.
    And the one high act repeated
    Over and over again
    By either side is “Service”
    And it never is done in vain.
    For, whether defeat or triumph
    Is the end, each movement goes
    Soulward: through this short pastime
    Eternity comes more close!

    K.D. Sethna

    1. Wonderful! Both Nirod da’s description and Amal’s poem. I remember Kirit Bhai saying somewhere that every time he watched the Mother play tennis it was like She was playing with the universe, with the ball signifying the universe. What profundity in a seemingly, small and mundane act!

  3. On visiting the Tennis Ground with the Mother playing a match, I often wondered whether the visionary Tagore had anticipated this wonderful sight before he wrote : “Children are busy playing on the cosmic shore” !

  4. Source:
    Home > E Library > Disciples > Nirodbaran > Memorable Contacts With The Mother > Light Interlude

    My “insight” now into all these bafflements is that the Mother was concerned not to let me get involved in occupations which would most probably interfere with my attendance on Sri Aurobindo. The more proficient I might become in other occupations the more would I be tempted to plunge into them — and this would surely take away something from the whole-hearted attention I was giving Sri Aurobindo.

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