On 7 December 1973, Udar Pinto—the Mother’s Secretary—gave a talk at “Peace” (Matrimandir Camp) in Auroville on the Mother’s Mahasamadhi. The text of the talk was published in the January 1974 issue of Mother India, the monthly review of culture published by Sri Aurobindo Ashram, Pondicherry.
The said talk has been published in the online forum of Overman Foundation along with a statement issued by Pradyut Kumar Bhattacharya—the then Trustee of Sri Aurobindo Ashram Trust—on Sri Aurobindo Ashram and the Mother’s passing away.
With warm regards,
I have come at the invitation of Seyril and others to give a talk but I have come not to talk to you but with you and to find out things together.
First let us see what happened to the Mother on the 17th November and the events leading up to it. Pranab has given a talk at the Playground on this and as you were not allowed to attend I asked him to give me a typescript of his talk and he said he would but evidently forgot to do so. Pranab spoke largely of things that happened on the surface. He made it quite clear himself that he would speak only of what he saw and give his own impressions of it. So he talked of the Mother’s physical condition, of how She first retired on the 2nd April, 1973, and then started seeing some people again and finally stopped seeing anyone from the 21st May. Then the Mother became very withdrawn and was only concerned, if at all, with elementary things like food, walking, etc. All these matters are not so important to talk of now and, as Pranab’s talk will appear in print, all can read it some time. But it is important to look at his conclusions.
To begin with, I feel he made an omission which is very significant for me. He did not do this deliberately but it is nonetheless meaningful. He explained how the Mother, being quite withdrawn and fighting constantly from within for the physical transformation, was quite unaware of anything else happening around Her. Yet, on the morning of 15th August, I understand, She suddenly asked what date it was and when informed of it and asked if She would give Darshan that day, She agreed. So one can see how alive was Her consciousness to things that really are important. She was not occupied with elementary bodily needs.
Another point—and this is of the utmost importance—is Pranab’s conclusion that although the Mother fought to the very end for the transformation of Her present physical body, it was the natural process of death that finally prevailed.
On this point I would like to dwell. The Mother had always foreseen the possibility that She might have to leave Her body. This is clear in some of the things She has said as they appeared in the Bulletin. And also Sri Aurobindo has written of this clearly in The Supramental Manifestation upon Earth, in the chapter of “The Divine Body” and the next one. He has shown two possibilities. One is of transforming the present human body into a Superhuman body—a body still human but a super one. The other relates to a Supramental body. The Superhuman body would be a big step towards the Supramental body. But the Supramental body would be realised by a new process—not by that of birth and growth as now but by some sort of materialization into the physical from a subtle stuff, a kind of projection. The process has yet to be established and so is not yet known.
Now my own feeling is that the Mother first tried for Her body to become super-human almost up to the very end but at last She decided to give up the attempt and made the second choice. I base this feeling on what Pranab said of the Mother’s last moments: how She who had evidently and visibly been fighting for transformation suddenly became quiet and peaceful for sometime before the end. This, I feel, is the moment She took Her momentous decision. I myself cannot accept that what happened to the Mother was not the result of Her decision. It is quite contrary to all I knew of Her from personal intimate knowledge. You know that for many years together with Pranab we used to have our lunch with the Mother and, with Pavitra added, we had dinner with Her. At these times She told us many things—sometimes at dinner She spoke for an hour or two. Thus there are many things I know personally of what the Mother said. So I can affirm from this knowledge that She left Her body by Her own decision and not by the usual process of nature.
Now the question arises: “Why didn’t the Mother choose the second alternative in the first place but, instead, and for so long, the painful part of transforming Her present body?” I feel it was because the way of transformation, if once achieved by Her, would open the path to others to follow—those who were prepared to do so, whereas the other way of projecting a Supramental body is still unknown and that means it would be very delaying and so She deliberately chose a path easier for those of us who want to follow Her. This entailed a terrible and unbelievable physical suffering for Her body and this was Her Great Sacrifice for us for which we must be eternally grateful. The path of transformation is itself quite long. First, the physical cells have to stop decaying. Each cell, of which the body is built up, has an inbuilt principle of growth and then of decay—senility. The first step is to stop this decay and the second to establish again a regrowth. The whole process would take two to three hundred years, the Mother once explained to me, but even such a period would be quite short for so tremendous a change. The first step is itself very difficult and that is what She set out to do. But the task was formidable as the Mother had not only to contend with the established laws of nature but also with all the weaknesses and follies of all of us. We did not help Her at all but rather hindered Her with our troubles and problems and, worst of all, our quarrels. Our filth and dirt we threw upon Her and, as our Mother, She took everything upon Herself from Her children, blind and stupid though we were.
A very striking passage from Savitri makes very clear the Mother’s work for the transformation. There Narad speaks about Savitri to the Queen whose daughter she is. I shall recite the passage to you:
A day may come when she must stand unhelped
On a dangerous brink of the world’s doom and hers,
Carrying the world’s future on her lonely breast,
Carrying the human hope in a heart left sole
To conquer or fail on a last desperate verge.
Alone with death and close to extinction’s edge,
Her single greatness in that last dire scene,
She must cross alone a perilous bridge in Time
And reach an apex of world-destiny
Where all is won or all is lost for man.
In that tremendous silence lone and lost
Of a deciding hour in the world’s fate,
In her soul’s climbing beyond mortal time
When she stands sole with Death or sole with God
Apart upon a silent desperate brink,
Alone with her self and death and destiny
As on some verge between Time and Timelessness
When being must end or life rebuild its base,
Alone she must conquer or alone must fall.
No human aid can reach her in that hour,
No armoured God stand shining at her side.
Cry not to heaven, for she alone can save.
For this the silent Force came missioned down;
In her the conscious Will took human shape:
She only can save herself and save the world.
O queen, stand back from that stupendous scene,
Come not between her and her hour of Fate.
Her hour must come and none can intervene:
Think not to turn her from her heaven-sent task,
Strive not to save her from her own high will.
Thou hast no place in that tremendous strife;
Thy love and longing are not arbiters there,
Leave the world’s fate and her to God’s sole guard.
Even if he seems to leave her to her lone strength,
Even though all falters and falls and sees an end
And the heart fails and only are death and night,
God-given her strength can battle against doom
Even on a brink where Death alone seems close
And no human strength can hinder or can help.
Think not to intercede with the hidden Will,
Intrude not twixt her spirit and its force
But leave her to her mighty self and Fate.
Here I should like you to mark the words: “Even though… the heart fails.” As you know, the cause of the Mother’s passing is officially declared to have been heart-failure.
Now rather than dwell too long on what has happened let us see what we have to do. This, you will all agree with me, is much more important. So I shall stop at this stage and invite questions on the first part before going on to the next. All right? Questions, please.
Question: Can it be said that, by the Mother’s not transforming Her present body, there is a setback for man?
Answer: I do not feel it so. Because we did not collaborate, the Mother had to take the other alternative. So there is no setback. It is only that we have to wait for the new process to be developed.
Question: Should we now stop trying for physical transformation ourselves?
Answer: I do not see it that way. The Mother has constantly stressed the limitless possibilities that exist. She has said that it is a habit of the human mind to pose two alternatives—this or that—but the spiritual view is global and sees endless possibilities. In this view there is no reason why someone should not now succeed in transforming a human body to a Superhuman one. The Mother has opened a pathway for us to follow, by Her great work. The Divine may take someone to His end.
Question: Why did not Mother announce Her decision?
Answer: It is not the way of Sri Aurobindo or the Mother to make announcements. The Mother has given messages to this effect: “No words—Acts”, “Don’t announce. Realise”, etc. Sri Aurobindo also did not announce to us His decision to leave His body though He had told the Mother about it. He said that He had to pass through the experience of death to be able to work on this side. That is why all the medical treatment given to him was quite ineffective against His decision.
Now let us come to what we have to do. But first let us see what we should not do though this way seems a negative approach.
The Mother has given several warnings on what we should avoid and I remember many things She said. But I will, for this meeting, reduce it to three serious warnings.
First, the Mother warned us against trying to see and judge things and happenings by the mind. This is what we continue to do—even here at this meeting. We should rather go deep within ourselves, right to the Soul or Spirit, and try to understand, or rather experience, from there. Let this be our constant aspiration.
The second warning is that we should avoid strictly the dangerous tendency of turning all of Sri Aurobindo’s and the Mother’s work into a religion. This tendency is pretty strong now. Also, talking of the formation of priest sects, the Mother often pointed out to me how priest sects were already in formation here for arranging flowers on the Samadhi, for sweeping around the Samadhi, etc.
The third and most serious warning, in my view, is that some of us will try to become Gurus. I remember once Pranab and I, while taking food with the Mother, were making, by way of a joke, a list of “Guru types” in the Ashram. The Mother saw us laughing and asked us to tell Her what we were doing. We were caught and had to tell Her. She laughed. Later She said to me, “And what about you, Udar?” I said, “Mother, please save me from this pit. It is not in my nature to become a guru but please see that I do not ever fall into such a pit.” The Mother answered, “Yes, Udar, it is not in your nature but I warn you that if ever you do fall into such a temptation then wherever you are I will come and break your head.” “Mother,” I prayed, “please do so. I will deserve to have my head broken.” This warning also may go unheeded by some.
Now, as to what we should do, I feel that first we should try to establish a harmony in our working together, all of us, in the Ashram, in Auroville and between the Ashram and Auroville and all else. But the harmony should not be attempted on the level of ideas however noble. See the example of the United Nations Organisation. It will never succeed at that level. Nor will it succeed for long at the level of the heart which, Sri Aurobindo says, is the seat of conflicting passions—love but also hate and jealousy. It is only on the basis of the Spirit that it will succeed, for the very characteristic of the Spirit is its universality. The Spirit is like an ocean where no one can say that this is my drop and that is yours.
So we must try from that basis, but we must try with all sincerity. This is most important, as the Mother has so often stressed the paramount need of a pure sincerity as a first step towards spiritual growth. But how to get this sincerity which must be very pure—how to get it in ourselves and in others? It can only be if each one of us takes it up as a great work in our Yoga Sadhana. I am reminded of an occasion when I took to the Mother a very high officer of the Ministry of Finance who asked Her, “How are we to remove corruption from the country?” The Mother replied, “There is only one way, by example.” The man was rather disappointed by what he considered perhaps a platitude. Maybe he expected a Mantra or something like that. But then, several months later, he came back and I took him to the Mother again, and once more he asked the same question and still the Mother gave an identical reply. But She added, “When there is something false I want to change in the Ashram, I work on it in myself first.” This gave me a great shock—to know that our Divine Mother should work on something false within Herself! The shock made me go deep within myself and then an understanding came. It came in a form suitable to my own scientific background though to another it might have come differently.
If, say, I wanted to remove corruption, then I would have to find some stain that is surely there of this corruption within myself and to work hard to remove it. This would set up a certain vibration. Now, at this point, there may be some eyebrows raised when I say vibrations, yet it is very scientific. All power is transmitted and becomes effective through waves which are vibrations. Sound, light, electricity are transmitted by waves. We have also cosmic waves, etc. There are an infinite number of such waves which are vibrations with a wave length and frequency and amplitude. So if I created a wave with a particular length and frequency attuned to the phenomenon called corruption, this wave would naturally go round the world. Wherever it met a similar phenomenon it would work on it also. If such a wave with a sufficiently large amplitude could be made broadcast it would attack corruption wherever it existed even without the people concerned wanting to be uncorrupt. It may even kill a person if his resistance was too strong.
When I put this view before the Mother, She said, “Ah, Udar! at last you have understood.”
So it is how we have to strive for a strong and pure sincerity.
There again, we can open ourselves to the new force that is now acting in the world and with that strength take up some work or project which is based on the Truth, and we shall have unimaginable support and force behind us. But it must be based on the Truth as it is a Truth-Conscious force and not an unconscious one like, say, nuclear energy—a very powerful material force which can be properly used or misused by man.
This new force came into effective action from 1970. I remember that at about 4 o’clock in the morning I felt a tremendous force in me. I wanted to sing and shout with exuberance. I felt I could shake the house to its foundations. When I told this to the Mother later in the day, She said, “Ah, so you felt it too! It came down at midnight. You received a slightly delayed action of it.” Then it was that the Mother said that the time might now come to tell India and the world of this new force so that those who received the message could open to it and do marvellous things to change the world. The Mother said we should go out at once and She proposed the organisation of “Sri Aurobindo’s Action” because, the Mother said, it was Sri Aurobindo Himself in Action that is this great force.
Question: Was not the fact of the Mother leaving Her body a form of insincerity?
Answer: Insincerity to what? The Mother always obeyed the Divine Will. “Not my will but Thy Will be done” was Her constant prayer and aspiration. So when She obeyed the Divine Will and left Her body, is that an act of insincerity? We should ourselves now follow the Mother’s supreme example and surrender ourselves to the Divine Will always.
Question: Was the Mother’s retirement a preparation for this event?
Answer: Yes, I think so. She prepared us well. If She had left Her body while in full activity—say, when playing tennis or something like that—it would have been a great shock. But our sweet compassionate Mother thought of Her children always and prepared us in a gradual way for Her leaving.
Question: Is not Pranab’s refusal to allow Aurovillians to attend his talk an act of insincerity?
Answer: How am I to judge? I have told Pranab I want to discuss this with him one day. So let us see what happens. We must know all sides.
Question: How did you feel when Sri Aurobindo left His body?
Answer: I was by His side when it happened and I knew that He was leaving His body. So I kept very calm and objective as I kept reminding myself that I was standing at a great moment of history. Because I was so calm—the only one then perhaps besides Dyuman—Dr. Sanyal said that I should look after all arrangements and the Mother gave me charge of them all. I remember it all so clearly—how it was decided to put His body next day in the Samadhi. We had worked night and day to get everything ready. Then it was found that there was no sign at all of decomposition, and the Mother said we should wait till we had a sign from Him. So it continued from the 5th to the 9th. Then the doctors who had examined His body twice a day said they had found signs and so the body should be put in the Samadhi. I objected strongly, since, though a layman, I knew that the most definite sign would be the smell and of that there was no evidence at all. But the Mother showed me how the Golden Light had faded from His face and that was the sign from Him that guided Her. So I had to accept. Even when, on the evening of the 9th, I lifted His body with my own hands to place it in the box, I was covered with the liquid that had come out and normally it would be a very foul-smelling liquid but in His case it was a liquid with a wonderful perfume which I carried on me for two days. Even His mattress, which was soaked with it, had this wonderful perfume in it for months. You can ask Mona [Udar’s wife and the Manager of Golconde] if she is here. The mattress was kept at Golconde.
I may here bring in St. Francis Xavier in connection with Sri Aurobindo. I have seen and touched the body of Francis Xavier that has been kept in Goa for several centuries. It was of flesh and bone and not a wax image. But it was of a bluish colour and the body seemed shrunken though all the features were clearly delineated. In Sri Aurobindo’s body I saw a similar bluish colour coming. That is why the Mother said the Golden Light had left His body. Also the giving out of so much liquid would naturally make the body shrink. From all this I conclude—and it is only my own private view, with which I have no concurrence from others—that His body is also intact in spite of all the doctors have said and is still today in the condition in which St. Francis Xavier’s is after about 400 years.
Question: Is it not a fact that Sri Aurobindo’s leaving His body was expected? You say He did not announce it.
Answer: Expected by whom? How then was everyone in such a state of shock? This I saw myself. It is not hearsay.
Question: How did you feel about the Mother’s leaving Her body?
Answer: For me it was a shock. I will admit that I had not expected it. Also, I was not at Her side as at Sri Aurobindo’s and so I did not see it coming. Thus it was a shock. But fortunately I had immediate work to do, to send telegrams to the President of India, the Prime Minister and others, and so I recovered quite quickly. I, with many, was told of Her leaving only at 3 a.m. on the morning of the 18th. Later the shock was gone and I even began to feel joy. Especially after the Mother’s body was laid in the Samadhi I felt a very great joy. I felt She was now free to do Her great work for the whole world, no longer tied to Her body.
Question: Did you feel relief or release?
Answer: Both. Relief to know that the Mother was no longer suffering but release because of the great joy of which I have spoken. That joy continues, not only with me but with so many others.
So now we have to take this force and this joy and make a real progress. We have a marvellous opportunity. That reminds me of Dr. Bisht. He was another doctor who had looked after the Mother but he was in Delhi. He came down flying to see the Mother, and attended to Her physically. Then the Mother said something about his pronouncing on the way Her inner being was working towards the transformation of Her outer body. Dr. Bisht said, “Mother, to be able to do that I must make a great progress.” “Then make a great progress,” the Mother said, “what is stopping you?”
So what is stopping us in the great opportunity that the Mother has placed before all of us? Let us take up the challenge and go forward—ever forward—in Her Light and Love and Strength.
Now, to end, I will recite, if you like, Sri Aurobindo’s poem “A God’s Labour”. I remember the Mother saying that when She first read this poem She went to Sri Aurobindo and said, “What have you done? You have exposed all my secrets to the whole world!” He smiled. Yes, this is Her poem, written by Sri Aurobindo about Her and for Her—so let us end on that—all right?
All: Yes, Yes.
Sri Aurobindo Ashram and the Mother’s Passing Away
Question: There is justification for the Ashram’s existence only if it continues to be, even after the Mother’s passing away, a centre or a laboratory for the Supramental descent, bringing about a Supramental change of human nature.
To achieve this object, Sri Aurobindo tells us, the Divine Mother’s Presence and Power are necessary. The Mother has left Her body. If Presence means physical presence, the Mother will have to come in a New Body.
Is there any other way?
Or is the Mother’s physical presence unnecessary because the Supermind manifested in 1956 and is working more and more powerfully?
Answer: The Mother’s physical presence on the earth was an indispensable condition for the descent of the Supramental and for its manifestation in the earth-consciousness. The Supramental manifestation on the earth took place in 1956 and has been working more and more powerfully. A careful study of “Notes on the Way” which have appeared in the issues of the Bulletin from 1965 to 1973, will show how the Supramental has been working and how it is fixed in the earth-consciousness. This ensures the continuance of the work for the Supramental change of human nature, and therefore the continuance of the Ashram as a centre or laboratory for the growth and fulfilment of this work.
If the Mother’s physical presence had been still indispensable for the continuance of this work, She would not have left Her body. Besides, Her leaving the body does not mean that She is not with us. Her Presence is actively there and is working dynamically behind the visible phenomenon.
The New Body will come as a certain climax of the working of the Supramental manifestation, and as a sign of the complete victory of Spirit over Matter.
Pradyut Kumar Bhattacharya