Vasudha Shah (6 January 1914—7 December 1983) was one of the earliest members of Sri Aurobindo Ashram. She visited Pondicherry at the age of fourteen on 19 February 1928 with her elder brother Chandulal Shah, who was the architect-cum-engineer of the Ashram in its early years. The Mother called Vasudha “My Little Smile” and showered on the latter Her infinite love and affection. On Vasudha’s birthday in 1962, the Mother wrote in a birthday card: “To Vasudha, faithful companion, skilled in service.” Next year, She wrote on her birthday: “To Vasudha whose precious help prevents my feet from being hurt by the stones on the way. With my love and blessings so that her aspiration may be realised this year.” Vasudha, too, had given her life to serving the Mother and from 1958 served Her as an attendant who stayed with Her day and night for years when She required physical help. She also embroidered numerous saris for the Mother and also started the Embroidery Department in the Ashram.
A set of the Mother’s photographs with Vasudha taken on various occasions has been published in the website of Overman Foundation.
With warm regards,
Photograph of the Mother with Vasudha taken on 20 February 1956
Photographs taken on 21 February 1966
The Mother with Vasudha on 21 February 1966 in Her apartments in the second floor of the Ashram main building. Also seen in the photographs, Pavitra and André Morisset, Her son.
The Mother with Vasudha and Lata Jauhar on 10 April 1967 on Lata’s birthday.
Photographs of the Mother with Vasudha taken on 15 August 1968 during the Terrace Darshan. Pranab Kumar Bhattacharya is also seen in these photographs.
Photographs taken on 5 July 1969 on the occasion of Tara Jauhar’s birthday.
Photographs taken on 14 September 1969 during the visit of V. V. Giri, the President of India.
Photographs taken on 6 October 1969 during the visit of Indira Gandhi, the Prime Minister of India. Also seen in these photographs, Nandini Satpatty, the Chief Minister of Orissa.
Photographs taken on 5 July 1970 on the occasion of Tara Jauhar’s birthday. Pranab Kumar Bhattacharya and Tara Jauhar are also seen in these photographs.
In the following photographs also taken on 5 July 1970, Dyuman, Champaklal and Dr. Prabhat Sanyal can be seen with the Mother.
Photographs courtesy: Ms. Tara Jauhar.
7 Replies to “The Mother’s Photographs with Vasudha”
Simply wonderful – warm and intimate – these pictures take us back to the down memory lane connecting us to ‘ the Golden Age’ when the Divine Mother showered Her Grace by Her beatific Presence ..Vasudha – Ben was very dear to ” Maa ” . What was Champaklal – Ji to
Sri Aurobindo – Vasudha – Ben was to ‘ the sweet Mother ‘ to a very large measure , so to speak . I was – like other countless persons – recipient of her many kind and gracious gestures .. She always radiated sunny smile and cheerfulness ” Everything in Her pointed to a nobler kind ” Savitri ”
We are sure Tara- di possesses many more such photos in her treasure trove —
Thank you , Anurag ,
Pranam maa. Very nice & exclusive. Thanks Anurag & Team.
Eternal Mother, Universal Mother full of love and compassion. Pranam to Thee with love and devotion
Grateful for sharing inspiring collection of photographs of the ever radiant divine Mother
with Vasudha Ben and others taken during the glorious years when the foundation of a
glorious Future foreseen by Sri Aurobindo were laid!
Salutations to Vasudhaben, Mother’s darling child.
Shyam Sundar Jhunjhunwala writes about Vasudha in his book “Down Memory Lane” (pp.27-29)
“Vasudha was the name she got from her parents. At the Ashram she was called Akka by the younger generation as well as the visitors. (Akka means sister in Marathi), In her letters Mother addressed her as “My little smile”. The letters have since been published as a book.
Vasudha was a girl of 14 when she came to the Ashram in 1928 and stayed on. She lived in an apartment next to the Ashram on the eastern side at the south-east corner. The same premises housed the Ashram Embroidery set up and looked after by her. In course of time she became a personal attendant of the Mother. Many a time I noticed her going to or coming from Mother at fixed hours with a shoulder-bag and flowers in hand. I felt envious at times of her good fortune of physical proximity to Mother.
Those who wanted to communicate with Mother through her would either go to her apartment or wait for her on the Ashram footpath. Kind, always smiling, she also felt concerned for the worldly problems of people around her.
Once my son didn’t come back home. When I went to her with the request to report the matter to Mother with prayer for his welfare and return, she asked for several details and made me write a letter to Mother. When the boy returned after two days, she personally shared our sense of relief.
Once, on her way to Mother’s room, Vasudha saw me sitting on the Meditation Hall staircase where I was trying to get over an intense toothache. She saw from my face that all was not well, inquired, and reported to Mother.
When the first rose flowered in our house, I felt the urge to offer it to Mother and gave it to Vasudha to hand it over to her. The next day there was a second flower and the same thing happened. Then I heard a remark on the staircase near Mother’s room that once given a chance people make a habit of it. Next day I did not go out of apprehension, but I was told by Vasudha in the evening that Mother was asking about my flower. This solicitous concern of Mother for a little known person broke a barrier in my relationship with her.
Later, when I started going to the Mother sometimes, once Mother returned my flower-glass with a transformation flower in it and very modestly she pointed to her heart and said that the little flower came from there. Vasudha, who was nearby, felt that I had not fully understood Mother’s words and gesture, and joyously told me next time that the flower I got from Mother was the one she had put on her gown’s buttonhole near her heart. Naturally I was elated over the privilege.
Once I made a bad mistake. That day instead of going to Mother when my turn came, I unwittingly allowed someone else to go who seemed to have been permitted to go to Mother through Madhav Pandit who had just come down from Mother. In fact, that man had been refused permission more than once before but that day he had managed to come in the line up the staircase and rushed up as soon as Mother passed him. Anyway, it was not my business to allow him to go in especially when it was my turn. Mother was expecting me as usual, instead that man appeared before her. There was confusion and shock of which I became aware only when Madhav Pandit came rushing up, ran into Mother’s room and pushed the unwanted visitor out. I confessed my role in it and Vasudha was naturally irritated and surprised over my error.
We missed Vasudha when she went to Bombay in August 1970 for treatment of cancer. On return, due to her sickness she gradually faded out of Mother’s company and was replaced by Kumud, but she continued to go to Mother to comb her hair.
After the passing of Mother nothing much was left to be done by her attendants in her room, but a sort of glamour remained with them in the eyes of many. Vasudha was surrounded by people who felt happy in maligning me in the post-1974 period and was impressed by their statements for quite sometime. She mentioned it to my wife and said that it had been difficult for her to imagine how I could have become so bad. Subsequently, she herself was bruised by ill-treatment and then she said that after that she understood what I had gone through.
Vasudha was one of those who would respect Mother’s remarks about people and I always enjoyed her affection. During her last sickness she was very attentive when I called on her. She had the hard pain of cancer, but she bore it well.
The “little smile” passed away in Dec. 1983, having lived about 45 years in the physical presence of Mother. If she had lived a month more, she would have been 70.
I remember her lovingly. Also how Nolini-da patted her on the cheeks every morning when she came out of Mother’s room and we waited for our turn to go in.
She had played her innings well.”
Longing to see your quiet face. love u ma