Suprabha Nahar: In Memoriam by Anurag Banerjee

Dear Friends,

With the passing away of Suprabha Nahar on 7 October 2020 at 2.45 p.m. at the age of ninety, not only has the Aurobindonian community of Pondicherry lost one of its senior-most members and a most dedicated and sincere worker who was in charge of the Department of Philately but also the last surviving inmate of Sri Aurobindo Ashram who was blessed with the physical touch of Sri Aurobindo. Counted among the last of the Mohicans, she witnessed not only the golden era of the Ashram when Sri Aurobindo and the Mother were physically present adorning the firmament of the Ashram like the Sun and the Moon but also the development of the Ashram from a small community to the massive institution that it has blossomed into today. The phrase ‘end of an era’ has become quite cliché these days due to its frequent usage but the demise of Suprabha Nahar has indeed marked the end of a glorious era in Sri Aurobindo Ashram.

Born on 9 August 1930 Suprabha was the youngest child and third daughter of Prithwi Singh Nahar (1898—1976) and Suhag Kumari (1900—1932). Having lost her mother at the tender age of two, her early years were spent at Santiniketan where Prithwi Singh stayed till 1935. Following the death of Suhag Kumari in 1932, Prithwi Singh Nahar had gone on a pilgrimage to South India in 1933. On his way back from Rameshwaram, he had stopped at Pondicherry in November 1933 and was blessed with the Darshan of Sri Aurobindo and the Mother on the 24th. The impact of this Darshan was so stupendous that he realized that he had found the spiritual guide he was seeking and so he decided to become an inmate of the Sri Aurobindo Ashram. In September 1934 he was formally accepted as a member of the Ashram although he permanently settled down at Pondicherry in 1938 along with his eldest daughter Sujata Nahar.

Every year Prithwi Singh would visit Pondicherry with some of his children and relatives to have the Darshan of Sri Aurobindo and the Mother. Thus in August 1936, Suprabha — then aged six — arrived at Pondicherry for the first time with her elder brother, her sister-in-law and her elder sister, Sumitra. For the Darshan she was made to wear a red georgette sari and instructed what she should do before Sri Aurobindo and the Mother. In those days, the inmates of the Ashram as well as the devotees of Sri Aurobindo and the Mother coming from outside were allowed to touch the feet of Sri Aurobindo during Darshan. On entering the small Darshan Room on the first floor of the Ashram main building, Suprabha had placed her head at the feet of Sri Aurobindo who blessed her with His ‘soft, compassionate hands’. In the same way, she offered her obeisance to the Mother who also bent down and blessed her. Then she placed her head between Sri Aurobindo and the Mother on the sofa (on which They sat) and received Their simultaneous blessings. On being asked once how she felt when she had her first Darshan of Sri Aurobindo, Suprabha had replied: “I was a child and did not understand anything, I only had a feeling of quiet happiness and measureless joy.”

Suprabha visited Pondicherry again in 1937 and 1938 for the August Darshan. Before returning to Kolkata, she would always meet the Mother in the Darshan Room or in the Meditation Hall situated on the first floor of the Ashram main building and receive biscuits and chocolates from Her as Prasad. She visited Pondicherry again in August 1939 with her elder sister Sumitra but by that time the Darshan rules had changed. Following Sri Aurobindo’s accident which had fractured his thigh-bone on the eve of the Darshan in November 1938, the devotees were no longer allowed to enter the Darshan Room and make their obeisance. When the Darshan was resumed on 24 April 1939, a box was placed in front of the Darshan Room and the devotees were asked to place their flower offering on the right side of the box and monetary offering on the left and after paying their obeisance with folded hands, one had to leave. Both Suprabha and Sumitra were given the aforesaid instruction before the Darshan. However, despite going separately for the Darshan, both the sisters had knelt and bowed down before Sri Aurobindo and the Mother and offered their pranams. While recalling this incident several decades later, Suprabha would remark: “Of course we were not reprimanded for that act of ours, no displeasure was shown to us, rather the Mother was amused by our action and later mentioned this to our father.”

In 1939, Noren Singh, Suprabha’s third elder brother, joined the Ashram as an inmate and was followed by Abhay Singh, Prithwi Singh’s youngest son, in 1940. Young Suprabha was also very keen to join the Ashram. She would write to the Mother in bold letters praying for Her permission to stay in the Ashram but everytime the Mother would refuse and convey orally: “Not now, later, when you grow up.”

In August 1941, Suprabha visited Pondicherry with Dhir Singh Nahar (her eldest brother), Nirmal Nahar (her fourth elder brother) and Ashalata Mitra (Shobha Mitra’s mother) to have the Darshan of Sri Aurobindo and the Mother. After she returned to Kolkata, quite unexpectedly, her aspiration to join the Ashram was fulfilled. What happened was: Rajsena Nahar (Dhir Singh’s wife) who had visited Pondicherry in February 1941 was asked to stay back by the Mother who had foreseen some serious accidents to her. She obeyed the Mother but began to miss her three infant children (Pratip, Prabir and Lucy) dearly. When it was brought to the Mother’s notice, She permitted Rajsena’s children as well as Sumitra and Suprabha to join the Ashram. Thus in October 1941, all the five children settled in the Ashram. A big house named ‘Michel House’ was allotted to them and a servant was also provided by the Mother to clean the rooms, fetch drinking water, etc. On the Mother’s instruction, Rajsena began to cook at this house and accordingly vegetables, cooking oil, rice, groundnuts and oranges were supplied daily.

Soon after the Nahar children had joined the Ashram, the Mother arranged for their studies. Sisir Kumar Mitra and Prabhakar Mukherjee would visit Michel House to teach them various subjects. Some time later, Suprabha began to learn Mathematics from Sunil Bhattacharya, English from Sisir Kumar Mitra, Bengali from Ila Sen, French from Chandulal Shah and Hygiene from Dr. Nripendra. Her notebooks in French were corrected by the Mother. In fact, the Mother would meet Suprabha and Sumitra in Pavitra’s office in the first floor of the Ashram main building and would give them dictation in French. She also taught the two sisters to draw. When the Ashram School was formally started in December 1943, the Mother asked Suprabha to join it. Thus she became a student of the very first batch of the Ashram School.

As was the practice in those days, one had to work in various departments of the Ashram while pursuing their education. Initially, Suprabha worked with her two elder sisters Sujata and Sumitra at the residence of Kiran Kumari where they repaired stoves and polished them, washed old postage stamps, made chit pads, repaired fountain pens, etc. Suprabha also helped an old sadhak named Benoy to pump water manually (from an underground tank, water was pumped to the filter in the Dining Room). She also cleaned the filter-tanks of the Ashram main building and the Cycle House. When the Ashram Press was started in 1945, the Mother asked Suprabha to join it. Along with Sujata Nahar, Chitra Sen, Priti Das Gupta and Tapati Das Gupta (the last two were the elder sisters of Manoj Das Gupta, the present Managing Trustee of Sri Aurobindo Ashram Trust), Suprabha worked in the hand-composing section. Later she worked in the monotype machine on which manuscripts were typed. She also devoted some time to the binding section and helped her second elder brother Bir Singh who was in charge of the accounting office of the Press. When Bir Singh asked for a typist, the Mother suggested Suprabha’s name. Amrita sent his typewriter to the Press and it was on this machine that Suprabha’s early lessons in typing began. For a while she was also in charge of the Store.

After the completion of the ‘classe de seconde’ and midway through ‘première’ Suprabha stopped her studies but continued to learn French from Satprem and Suzanne Karpelès (better known as Bharati-di in the Ashram community). Having finished the study of school-level French, Suprabha had asked the Mother: “Who would teach?” The Mother had replied that She Herself would teach. Thus, the Mother started taking Her ‘Questions and Answers’ classes in the Ashram Playground and afterwards these classes were changed into ‘Translation Classes’ in which the Mother would read passages from Sri Aurobindo’s The Life Divine, The Synthesis of Yoga and other books and translate them into French. When Suprabha completed her school education in 1949, the Mother asked her to teach French and Mathematics in the Ashram School. Thus, at the age of nineteen, Suprabha became a teacher. She received ample encouragement from the Mother for teaching. Although she was not quite interested in teaching, she continued to teach for a decade. In 1959 she joined the Laboratory which Pavitra had set up in the Ashram main building and worked with her eldest sister, Sujata. In this Laboratory, which the Mother had named ‘Alchemy’, several items like Pastilles (peppermint lozenge), bath salts, powder, face cream, shaving cream, tooth powder, hair lotion, blue water for eye wash, etc. were prepared according to Pavitra’s formulas. Suprabha also assisted her elder brother Noren Singh Nahar in the Department of Philately while continuing her work at the Ashram Press where she worked from 1.30 to 4 p.m. every day. Years later she would recall: “While working upstairs, in the lab or with the stamps, I had the privilege of seeing the Mother whenever She passed by, especially when She had some work with Pavitra-da. On Her way or in his office I could see Her. She would sometimes ask what we were doing.

There was another privilege which the Mother had granted to Suprabha and her brothers and sisters. (It is worth mentioning that Prithwi Singh’s children were deeply loved by the Mother and Sri Aurobindo. In the Ashram community they were known as the ‘Divine Family’.) In those days, early in the morning, the Mother would arrive at the balcony at the back of the Ashram main building to give Darshan to all the inmates of the Ashram. After this Balcony Darshan, Suprabha — along with her brothers and sisters — would have Her Darshan in the Laboratory through which the Mother passed to reach the balcony and return from it. When the Mother would come to the Laboratory, the Nahar brothers and sisters would offer their obeisance to Her one-by-one. “At that time”, recalls Suprabha, “we enjoyed the Mother’s nearness for quite some time. We spoke to Her about many things and She would answer our queries; and also, on Her own, She would speak to us on several subjects, including our performance during the competition the previous day, our faults and weaknesses and also our good points; and naturally on other topics too.”

Once, Suprabha was selected by the Mother to enact the role of Athene in Sri Aurobindo’s drama, Perseus the Deliverer. The Mother watched the rehearsals of the scene — which featured Amita Sen, Arati Das Gupta and Suprabha — in the office of Pavitra. Suprabha had delivered her dialogues in a sweet voice. But the Mother disapproved of her style of dialogue-delivery and demonstrated how to speak on stage. The Mother said that the voice of the actor should come not only from the throat but also from the depth, near the stomach. After practising for a few days, Suprabha delivered her dialogues before the Mother who Herself read the part of Andromeda. “This time She was satisfied”, recalls Suprabha. Not only acting but Suprabha’s initial learning of table tennis too had started at the Mother’s hands.

Following the Mother’s wish, Suprabha had joined the Publication Department to help her father Prithwi Singh Nahar to run the department. She continued to work in this department till 1975. From 1975 she devoted her time exclusively to the Department of Philately which had flourished under the able supervision of Noren Singh Nahar. She worked in Pavitra’s Laboratory whenever her help was asked for but gradually discontinued it. It is important to note that Suprabha was the President of the Indo-French Philatelic and Numismatic Association.

The present author was introduced to Noren Singh and Suprabha Nahar in 2007. When Satprem and Sujata Nahar left their bodies in April and May 2007 respectively, he had written to Suprabha requesting her to inform him about the details of their last days. Also in August 2007, he met Noren Singh and Suprabha at Pondicherry when he was working on the biography of their father, Prithwi Singh Nahar. This marked the beginning of a long association and a most intimate relationship which continued till the very end. Whenever the present author would be in Pondicherry, every evening he would be at the Nahar residence for he was a permanent invitee to their famous evening tea session. A sumptuous meal followed by an equally delightful chat in which Noren Singh, Suprabha and Sudha Rai (of the Embroidery Department who had joined the Ashram in 1952) participated was the highlight of such sessions which went on till 6 p.m. when the Nahars would retire for the day. It was also courtesy Suprabha that the present author was introduced to senior members of the Ashram like Kiran Kumari Kothari (Jiji), Samir Kanta and Robi Gupta (sons of Nolini Kanta Gupta) and Dr. Kireet Joshi to name a few.

Suprabha was a treasure-chest of memories of old Ashram life. When she talked of the Mother, one could feel the vibration of her profound love and respect for Her under whose loving care and company she had grown up. It was a joy to listen to the stories of the Mother and unknown but interesting episodes of Ashram life from her. And whenever she spoke in her calm, affectionate yet firm voice, something beautiful and pure would penetrate the innermost core of one’s heart. She had the rare ability to love all and spread love abundantly. Whenever asked about her own sadhana, she would say with a smile that she hardly did sadhana. Once she had told the author: “I myself don’t give much effort in sadhana. It is Sri Aurobindo and Mother who makes me tread the Path. But I’ll be quite happy if I am able not to give any hindrances to the Mother. It’s not that I do a lot of sadhana. Perhaps many people would be shocked to hear this but I’ll be truthful.” But those who knew her well are aware of the fact that through her work and dedicated service which was the prayer of her body as well as of her soul to the Divine, she maintained a rich, spiritual but silent, inner life. The author remembers once when he had visited the office of Philately Department in the morning, Suprabha had told him: “There was a strong presence of Sri Aurobindo today in this office. It was there for quite some time.” Interestingly, the Stamp Office was Sri Aurobindo’s room from 1922 to February 1927 before He retired into complete seclusion. As far as her work was concerned, Suprabha was dedication personified. Till her 88th year, she would visit the Department of Philately six days a week although her eyesight had weakened considerably and she found it difficult to climb the stairs. But her spirit was that of a divine soldier who refused to give up the fight.

The most striking feature of Suprabha’s personality — apart from her ability to love all — was her unshakeable faith in the Mother. “I have prayed at the Samadhi for you” or “I have prayed to the Mother for you” or “The Mother is there, don’t worry” — such utterances from her lips would rejuvenate a broken heart or a demoralized soul. To illustrate this point, the author takes the liberty of narrating an anecdote. Once, Suprabha came to know that a fellow-sadhak who had joined the Ashram in the same year she had become an inmate was somewhat depressed and was expressing his wish to leave his body. She told the present author to convey to that sadhak that his body had been seen by the Mother and Sri Aurobindo and touched by the Mother so he should see to it that such a body is taken good care of and that thoughts related to death must be thrown aside. These words of Suprabha motivated the sadhak so much that he almost got back his former self and soon paid a visit to Suprabha in her office.

Another salient feature of Suprabha’s personality was that she never criticized. The Mother had advised that one must never compare, criticize and judge. Suprabha had followed the Mother’s advice to the letter. At times she did express her resentment in certain matters but never did a word of disdain for anyone escape her lips. It is indeed a noteworthy observation that in a society where one has numerous critics and a handful of genuine well-wishers, Suprabha was one of those rare beings who had no critics at all. She was loved, adored and respected by all.

The present author is indebted to Suprabha for not only accepting him as a part of her extended spiritual family but also for what she had done for Overman Foundation. She has enriched the Archives of the organization with her gifts of photographs of the bygone era of the Ashram and letters written to her by senior Ashramites as well as celebrities like Hemant Mukhopadhyay and Harindranath Chattopadhyay. She also donated to the same organization the gifts she had received from the Mother.

Following a fall at her residence in February 2019 for which she had to undergo a hip-replacement surgery, Suprabha became somewhat confined to her apartments. She would occasionally visit the Ashram main building to offer her obeisance at the Samadhi and would also drop it at the Department of Philately. But she was mentally alert right till the end. At regular intervals the present author would converse with her over the phone and also met her almost daily during his stay in Pondicherry from 19th February to 3rd March 2020.

On 14 September 2020, at 8 p.m. the present author received a phonecall from Suprabha. After an exchange of pleasantries, she asked whether he would like to receive three audio cassettes (the details of which she duly disclosed) from her collection. The author replied that anything from her would be a cherished treasure. She also asked when did he intend to visit Pondicherry next. He replied that he would be visiting Pondicherry in February 2021 if the ongoing Covid-19 pandemic normalizes. She said: “But before 21st February 2021, you have your birthday in October, then the Durga Puja, then Kali Puja, Diwali, Christmas and the New Year. 21st February is still far off.” The author was somewhat surprised. He replied that if the present situation slightly improved he would certainly make it a point to visit Pondicherry in November 2020. It seemed that Suprabha was pleased with his response. She bid him good-bye over the phone. Who could have ever imagined that this was to be her final farewell!

Suprabha’s gift duly arrived on 24th September. The present author sent her a message through Whatsapp thanking her for the gift. On 5th October, Suprabha sent to him a photograph of the Mother with her elder brother Abhay Singh Nahar through Whatsapp. It was her last communication with him.

Wednesday, October 7, 2020. Suprabha was at her residence. She had a talk with her elder sister Sumitra in the morning and later forwarded video messages and inspirational messages to some of her dear ones through Whatsapp. Around 2 p.m. she suddenly felt a pain in her chest. She immediately rang up Sudha Rai, her dear and faithful friend who had taken care of her with motherly affection for the past several decades, and informed her about her pain. Sudha Rai rushed to Suprabha’s flat. The doctor too came within no time. But at 2.45 p.m. Suprabha left her body calmly and peacefully.

Suprabha was never afraid of death. But she was apprehensive that due to her failing eyesight and frail health she might have to become dependent on others for her movements and physical sustenance. But the Divine had some other plans for her. As she had always led a quiet and peaceful life, she chose to leave her physical body in the same way as she had lived. With her physical departure, we have lost someone with whom everything could be shared. She was a brilliant listener; one could pour his heart out to her and relieve himself of his inner anguish. Being a most devoted worker and a faithful and sincere child of the Mother and Sri Aurobindo, Suprabha has gone to be with the Mother and work for Her in the world beyond ours. But with her departure she has made this world even more poor.

Seasons would come and go. Mother Nature would continue with her work of creation and destruction. Life will certainly move on but it would never be the same without Suprabha Nahar.

With warm regards,

Anurag Banerjee

Founder,

Overman Foundation.

What follows is a pictorial tribute to Suprabha Nahar chronicling her life from her early years till her ninetieth birthday.


In the following three photographs, Suprabha Nahar is seen working in the paddy fields of the Ashram.

Suprabha Nahar with Bonolata Sarkar, daughter of Sudhir Kumar Sarkar and elder sister of Mona Sarkar.

Suprabha Nahar with Sahana Devi (extreme left), Priti and Tapati Das Gupta waiting for the Darshan of Sri Aurobindo.

The following photographs of Suprabha Nahar with the Mother were taken on 1 December 1952 at the prize distribution ceremony held at the Gymnasium Hall in the Ashram Playground due to rain. Suprabha is seen standing next to her sister, Sujata Nahar. Also seen in these photographs are Pavitra, Chimanbhai Patel, Sisir Kumar Mitra and Pranab Kumar Bhattacharya.

The Mother on 6 January 1952 after inaugurating the Centre of Education. Also seen in this photograph: with the Mother are Sumitra Nahar, Amrita, Suprabha Nahar, Lilou, Sujata Nahar, Krishnakumari, Sisir Kumar Mitra, Norman Dowsett, Pavitra, Chandrakant, Udar Pinto, Dakshinapada Bhattacharya, Shanti Doshi, Dyuman, Jyotin, Vishwanath Lahiri, Soli Albess. Suprabha is seen standing behind K. Amrita on the right.

Same as above. Also seen with the Mother are: Udar Pinto, Sisir Kumar Mitra, Lilou, Amrita, Suprabha Nahar, Sumitra Nahar, Sujata Nahar, Tara Jauhar, Parul Chakraborty, Krishnakumari, Nolini Kanta Gupta, Shane, Norman Dowsett, Dakshinapada Bhattacharya, Shanti Doshi, Usha M, Ajji, Dhanavanti Nagda, Dyuman, Bibhash, Sunil Bhattacharya, Narendra Jauhar, Arun, Mrityunjoy Mukherjee, Soli Albess, Bubu Ganguli and Jhumur Bhattacharya.

Same as above. Also seen with the Mother: Jitendra, Amiyo Ranjan Ganguli, Amrita, P. Counnouma, Sisir Kumar Mitra, Chandrakant, Pavitra, Deb Kumar Sarkar, Soli Albess, Suprabha Nahar and Vijendra.

Suprabha Nahar with Parichand Kothari (standing in the middle), Sujata Nahar and Umirchand Kothari (seated).

Suprabha Nahar (seated extreme right) with Tapati Das Gupta, Sumitra Nahar and Kumud-ben.

Suprabha Nahar (extreme right) with Kusum Nagda, Kumud Patel and Vishwanath Lahiri (seated).

The Nahar Sisters (from left to right) : Suprabha Nahar, Sujata Nahar and Sumitra Cazade.

(From left to right): Suprabha Nahar, Kumud Patel, Kusum Nagda and Sumitra Cazade.

Noren Singh Nahar (extreme left), Sumitra Cazade, Sujata Nahar and Suprabha Nahar.

Suprabha Nahar with Ratna Chakrabarti (third from left) at Gingee Fort.

In the following three photographs, Suprabha Nahar is seen with Tara Jauhar and Lata Jauhar.

Suprabha Nahar with Bhavatarini, sister of R. Prabhakar (Batti).

(From left to right): Nirmal Nahar, his wife Prova Nahar, Sujata Nahar, Satprem and Suprabha Nahar.

(From left to right): Rajsena Nahar, Noren Singh Nahar, Suprabha Nahar, Satprem, Sujata Nahar and Abhay Singh Nahar.

In the following photographs, Suprabha Nahar is seen with her elder sisters Sujata Nahar and Sumitra Cazade as well as with Satprem.

(From left to right) Suprabha Nahar, Sumitra Cazade, Sujata Nahar and Noren Singh Nahar.

Suprabha Nahar and Noren Singh Nahar at work in the office of Department of Philately.

Suprabha Nahar at her residence with Abhay Singh Nahar and Noren Singh Nahar.

Suprabha Nahar with Abhay Singh Nahar at the latter’s room in the Ashram main building.

(From left to right) Noren Singh Nahar, Suprabha Nahar, Sumitra Cazade and Abhay Singh Nahar.

Suprabha Nahar with Dolly and Bani Mutsuddi (nieces of Dr. Nirodbaran Talukdar).

Suprabha Nahar with Noren Singh Nahar at the office of the Department of Philately.

Suprabha Nahar with Bhavatarini (seated at the centre) and Gauri Pinto (on the left) at an event.

Suprabha Nahar with Girija Devi Rai, mother of Sudha Rai.

Suprabha Nahar with the grand nephew of Sudha Rai.

Suprabha Nahar at work in the Department of Philately with Bani Mutsuddi.

Suprabha Nahar at her residence with Bernard Cazade and Sumitra Cazade in February 2009.

Suprabha Nahar, Sumitra Cazade and Noren Singh Nahar in February 2009.

(From left to right) Bernard Cazade, Sumitra Cazade, Suprabha Nahar and Noren Singh Nahar.

Suprabha Nahar, Sudha Rai and Noren Singh Nahar in August 2009.

Suprabha Nahar and Noren Singh Nahar with Anurag Banerjee.

Noren Singh Nahar, Chitra Sen, Dolly Mutsuddi and Suprabha Nahar on 10 August 2010.

(From left to right) Dolly Mutsuddi, Ratna Chakravarti, Prof. Kittu Reddy, K. D. Sethna alias Amal Kiran, Krishna Chakravarti, Suprabha Nahar and Dr. Dilip Dutta at the Ashram Nursing Home on 27 August 2010 when Amal Kiran was presented with the inaugural “Auro Ratna Award”.

Suprabha Nahar, Dolly Mutsuddi, Prof. Arabinda Basu, Anurag Banerjee and Ratna Chakravarti at the residence of Prof. Basu on 27 August 2010 when he was presented with the first “Auro Ratna Award”.

Ratna Chakravarti, Suprabha Nahar, Krishna Chakravarti and Jhumur Bhattacharya at Care Nursing Home on 20 August 2011 during the second “Auro Ratna Award” ceremony.

In the following photographs, Suprabha Nahar is seen presenting the second “Auro Ratna Award” to Robi Gupta, Dr. Kireet Joshi and Togo Mukherjee who accepted the award on behalf of his brother Dr. Prithwindra Mukherjee. Also seen in the photographs: Dr. Ananda Reddy, Krishna Chakravarti and Jhumur Bhattacharya.

The following two photographs were taken on 15 November 2012 on the occasion of ‘Bhai-Dooj’. Suprabha Nahar is seen with Sumantra Kothari and Noren Singh Nahar.

(From left to right): Indu Rai, Achyut Patel, Lata Jauhar, Anurag Banerjee, Sushilaben, Suprabha Nahar and Noren Singh Nahar on 1 December 2012. The occasion was the ninety-second birthday of Noren Singh Nahar.

Suprabha Nahar with Shri Manoj Das Gupta, Managing Trustee of Sri Aurobindo Ashram Trust.

Three Friends in December 2016: Suprabha Nahar, Lata Jauhar and Sumitra Cazade.

Suprabha Nahar with Sudha Sundaram, Bernard Cazade in February 2018.

Suprabha Nahar with Anurag Banerjee in November 2018.

Suprabha Nahar at the Ashram Nursing Home where she was recuperating after her hip-replacement surgery.

Suprabha Nahar with Dr. Prabhjot Kulkarni after the former’s discharge from Nursing Home.

Suprabha Nahar with Jishnu Guha, Sudha Rai and Sumitra Guha (Jishnu Guha’s mother and grand-daughter of noted Bengali author Premankur Atorthy).

Suprabha Nahar with Jishnu Guha, Sudha Rai and Swati Chowdhury (Jishnu Guha’s aunt and grand-daughter of noted Bengali author Premankur Atorthy).

Suprabha Nahar with Sumitra Guha and Jishnu Guha.

The following three photographs were taken in February and March 2020. In the first two photographs, Suprabha Nahar is seen with Prova Nahar, Sudha Rai, Sumitra Cazade, Bernard Cazade and Anurag Banerjee. In the third photograph, she is seen with Sumitra Cazade, Nirupama Biswal, Sanjeev Patra and Auroshri Patra.

Suprabha Nahar with Aradhita Sinha on 9 August 2020. The occasion was Suprabha’s ninetieth birthday.

Suprabha Nahar on her ninetieth birthday on 9 August 2020.

31 Replies to “Suprabha Nahar: In Memoriam by Anurag Banerjee

  1. So beautifully depicted the description of Suprabhadi ‘s life alongwith rare photographs. A sweet remembrance of the beautiful soul !!

  2. The news of Suprabha-di´s passing away came as a real shock to me. I do not know why but a sudden stomach pain gripped me on reading the news. Although I am 15 years her junior, for years we used to play table-tennis together. Every and now and then I used to think of her without any reason or cause. Thank you Anurag for the precious photos, I will preserve them.

  3. Many thanks Anurag:
    A reservoir of Gold from the past to the present! You have been doing a great work through your Overman Foundation. Your posts have immense historical value with reference to the Ashram.
    Goutam Ghosal

  4. Dear Anurag – This wonderful tribute in the fragrant memory of ” Very dear Suprabha – di is by far the best ever reportage you have penned and shared with us – You have very thoughtfully and in deep reverence for ” Suprabha -di covered the entire gamut of her experiences through down memory lane – I was like you as one of the privileged person who could walk in her office any time when ever I visited the Ashram – She was so kind , generous and gracious – Always she would make it point to dispatch unfailingly” Darshan Greetings” to us by post –
    When I was working in China how sweetly she had acknowledged and appreciated when I had offered to her “a little rare cancelled envelope with stamp – she would always gift me some thing or other with much affection –
    She was a strong pillar to the large extended great family of ” the Nahars ” – In Wordsworthian vein we can say ” Suprabha-di was the sweetest thing that ever grew beside a Divine Door –
    Jai Maa … Salutations to Lord Sri Aurobindo

  5. So beautiful sketch of Suprabhadi’s life. We are blessed to be able to read it. It is written in such a beautiful way.

  6. Dear Anurag,
    Thanks truly.
    Suprabha Di was one of the sweetest and kindest persons in the Ashram. I received so much help from her. Once I was suffering from acute back trouble. I went to visit her and found the chair of her sofa set was the only chair which gave some relief to me in my intense pain. Imagine, the next day she sent that chair of the three piece sofa to me. It was with me for two years till the sofa set had to be reupholstered. A true aristocrat, gracious and loving was our Suprabha Di.
    What a treasure trove of photographs.
    Thanks Anurag
    Shyam Kumari

  7. Most relevant post.
    Thanks Anurag for your contribution. My first Pondicherry Darshan started with Suprava Di in the year 2005. Still She is alive to me and I will never forget her in my life.
    Atanu Chatterjee

  8. Such a cordial and helpful person, smiling and hard-working. Looked after the Mother’s stamp collection ever since her brother Norensingh-da became invalid. May Suprabha-di’s soul rest in peace.

  9. A beautiful write-up on Suprabha Nahar. The photographs are also age-defying. I and my wife had a brief meeting with Sumitra Cazade and Bernard Cazade in the evening of 17th December 2018, just in front of the main Ashram building, on a road-side. Mere mortals come and go without leaving a trace, but such has not been the case with Suprabha Nahar. And thanks to the collection of memorabilia at Overman Foundation, many Ashramites would now remain etched in our memory for a long time. Thank you, Anurag, you are doing a wonderful job.

  10. While going through this obituary, I had a constant feeling of an invasion of the peppermint lozenges that the Mother liked. Thanks for this gust of puNya-gandha. The photos bring back the psychic flashes of the intense Presence.

  11. What a living tribute to Suprabha di. You led us to a rich life bygone in Ashram with so many great souls. Many Thanks. Loved to see you young and ever smiling Anurag. N M Mukhi

  12. Thank you for such a loving and beautiful depiction of her life. She was indeed one of the dearest souls I have known. This tribute helps to remember the fullness of her life.

  13. This is an important contribution to the genre of institutional/period history, admirably curated by Anurag who seems to surpass himself by the day.
    The close up profile presented through rare photographs illuminate our understanding of the role families play in the life of spiritual communities.
    The intersection of spirituality and philately that the Mother uniquely brought to the Ashram was more than a hobby or a past time; it became a vital part of international living for the learners at the SAICE.
    Exchanging stamps from Monaco to Mozambique during the soup break became for us children a rite de passage from provincial insularity to avant garde cosmopolitanism.
    Congratulations Anurag ! Thank you for a wonderful Puja gift !!

    Prof. Sachidananda Mohanty
    Member, Governing Board
    Auroville Foundation,
    MHRD,Govt. of India.

  14. Thanks Anurag for bringing such a wonderful narration of a beautiful life, soaked in the Grace of The Mother and Sri Aurobindo. The trailing pictures enliven the story of the blessed life. And you are indeed blessed to have the personal affection of Suprabha di.
    Good Wishes
    –Prasenjit–

  15. Thank you ji for sharing
    She will ever live at the Feet of the Divine Mother and Sri Aurobindo.

    Regards
    Dhanasekaran A

  16. Dear Anurag Banerjee

    You have penned a very heartfelt note on the sad demise of great ‘Suprabha Nahar’ ji.
    It is very touching! Thanks a lot for sharing!

    I have composed a small poem as an offering to Suprabha Nahar ji which I am sharing with you.

    Suprabha Nahar

    The loving smiles, the sparkling eyes,
    The love filed heart, spreading cheer abound,
    The persona vast of the Divine Soul,
    Her aura enlightened numerous lives!

    Sri Aurobindo’s and The Mother’s blessings,
    Paved her path that she tread with love,
    Touching all hearts to the deepest core,
    With her kindest words, the soothing touch!

    Loved by all, revered, honored,
    For her selfless work, dedication, diligence exceptional,
    The moments spent in the humane cause,
    Filled with love, compassion, care for all!

    As the boundless ocean stretched far and wide,
    Her love for all knew boundaries none,
    With open arms she welcomed all,
    Into her ever widening spiritual family!

    As the fragrant bloom on the Lotus-feet,
    She offered her life in the service of humankind,
    With the strength, the vigor she overcame the odds,
    With the Divine blessings the impediments all shattered!

    A life to the fullest, devotedly she lived,
    Her guidance, compassion a path new opened,
    Elevating her to the highest realms,
    A humble, modest, self-effacing Divine!

    Regards
    Giti Tyagi

    M.A. (English), M.Ed, UGC-NET,
    Editor, Creative Artist, Author, Poetess,
    Book Reviewer, Translator
    Author of ‘Priceless Pearls’ and ‘Crossroads And Other Stories’
    Former Senior Lecturer
    MM University, Ambala, India
    Educational Consultant
    KARNAL, INDIA

  17. I used to see DIDI at ashram many times. She never failed to grace me with a smile of appreciation and recognition. If my memory is correct she visited Bharat Nivas with Asterdi. A source of inspiration with dynamic silence for me. Jai ma

  18. Dear Anurag,
    Your article on Suprabha Nahar transported me through time and space. While reading I felt I was walking down the Ashram lanes in Pondicherry on a bright sunny morning may be a decade or so ago. I almost felt that I too was stepping into her office to find her deeply engaged in some work and as I enter, she is just looking at me with a welcoming smile. No, I had never had the opportunity to meet her, but your article gave a precious glimpse of an outstanding individual, a true devotee of The Mother and Sri Aurobindo.
    Thank you.

  19. Simply wonderful, Anurag !
    I could meet her only once and remember her affectionate ways. She told me that I shouldn’t feel bad if she doesn’t recognize me next time as she being old was finding it difficult to remember faces. So simple and caring !

    Nilkanth

  20. Series of black and white photographs take us back into the lives of the inmates of the ashram at their times. The Nahars, beginning witth Prithvisingha Nahar, a very resourceful person, who came to Pondeicherry to settle in the Ashram linking Shantiniketan and Pondicherry; Sri Aurobindo Ashram and Visvabharati, were very old inmates, had blessings of the master sometimes. his touches. Suprabha-di was the last of them who was so blessed. I knew her and her brothers and sisters welll. Of them who most attracted me was Abhaysingha Nahar. I regret their passing away, as if I would be benefited more had Abhay-da lived more up to this day! And Suprabha-di, really so nice!

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