Amrita was the name given by Sri Aurobindo to Karlapakam Aravamudachari Iyengar (19 September 1895—31 January 1969), a Tamil Brahmin who became a close disciple of Sri Aurobindo whom he met in 1912. He was the Manager of Sri Aurobindo Ashram and later became one of the first Trustees of Sri Aurobindo Ashram Trust. He is remembered for his delightful sense of humour.
19 September 2015 marks Amrita’s 120th Birth Anniversary. As our humble homage to him, an article on him authored by Krishna Chakravarti has been published in the online forum of Overman Foundation along with some of his photographs.
Born in December 1943 to Justice Santosh Kumar Chakravarti and Bokul Rani, Krishna Chakravarti joined the Sri Aurobindo International Centre of Education as a student in 1956. After completing her education in 1966, she joined the Central Office of Sri Aurobindo Ashram. A dedicated worker and prolific writer, her published works include Sri Aurobindo Laho Pronam (2006), A Garland of Adoration (2007) and Judge Saheb O Maharanir One-Third Dozen er Kahini (2009).
With warm regards,
“Charana dhorita deo go amare neo na neona saraye“
‘All on a sudden the door opened and was left ajar. Sri Aurobindo had come quietly and turned back immediately as the door opened—it looked as if he did not want us to let us have a glimpse of his face. In that fading twilight only his long hair hanging gracefully upon his back and his indescribably beautiful small feet caught my eye sight.’
That was the first glimpse of Sri Aurobindo that Amrita-da had—those feet, like two red lotuses captured his heart strings as if in a net and never could he shatter that tie. He was barely in his teens then, later in1919 he joined Sri Aurobindo’s house hold and served at those feet for fifty years before leaving his body.
Amrita was born on 19th September 1895 at Kazhipervembakkam, a village near Pondicherry and was named Aravumuda Iyenger. Amrita was the name given by Sri Aurobindo. Born in an orthodox Brahmin family, performing all the rituals, keeping a shikha covering nearly three fourths of his head, he was a village boy pampered by his mother. In that village the cry of independence had also reached and Lal-Bal-Pal and Arabindo were familiar names and respected. Of the four names the name Sri Aurobindo caught his heart and soul. In 1905 he came to Pondicherry to study. Sri Aurobindo landed in Pondicherry on 4th April 1910. Very few were aware of his arrival, among them was Amrita-da’s uncle who was in politics. Within three days Amrita-da knew about the arrival and his joy had no bound and a desire to see Sri Aurobindo grew in him. He became friendly with those who frequented Sri Aurobindo’s house and would take long walk after school, on beach with them and would learn from them what they discussed. Thus two years passed and there was no glimpse of Sri Aurobindo. One day in 1912 while proceeding towards beach with Krishnaswami Chettiar, who wanted to keep his cycle in Sri Aurobindo’s house which was on Mission street, that he had the glimpse of those two delicate soft red lotus like feet and was caught.
By his association with Bharathi, Srinivaschari, Krishnaswami Chettiar and others who frequented Sri Aurobindo’s house and had discussions, his mind too was shaping in the light of Sri Aurobindo’s view. ‘There was hardly any subject which they did not talk about in their meetings at night. They discussed literature, society, politics, the various arts; they exchanged stories,even cracked jokes, and had a lot of fun.’ Amrita-da’s teenage mind tried to grasp everything, the narrowness of orthodox mind started widening. Though he performed all the rituals and rites at home, but slowly the realization dawned that a pariah or a shudra was as much of a man as his neighbours, and started treating them as such, which in that era was blasphemous. The untouchability has almost disappeared at present, but in that era what havoc it created can make one shiver. He ‘realised that the disappearance of the sense of division from within me had been the effect of a continuous shedding of light upon my heart imperceptibly by Sri Aurobindo.’
Though he became familiar with other inmates of Sri Aurobindo’s household, he still had no darshan of him face to face. Three years have passed and his eagerness to get introduced to Sri Aurobindo fell as if in deaf ears. Sri Aurobindo’s Birthday was approaching, his appeal to Iyenger for the Darshan was granted. He felt an immense joy.
On 15th August some twenty people gathered in Sri Aurobindo’s house in the evening. Sri Aurobindo came someone garlanded him with a rose garland, then he spoke something in English. Thereafter they sat down in front of banana leaves. Sri Aurobindo stood in front of each banana leaf and looked at the person and one person then served the sweets. Later at night, he approached Sri Aurobindo’s table with folded hands and did pradikshina. ‘Sri Aurobindo’s eyes, it seemed, burnt brighter than the lamp light for me, as he looked at me, in a trice all gloom vanished from within me, and his image was as it were installed in the sanctum sanctorum of my being… I felt within that he had accepted me though I did not quite know it.’
At the first sight of Sri Aurobindo, his beautiful feet ensnared him, then the face to face meeting, his eyes brighter than light captured him. After this meeting he became a familiar face in Sri Aurobindo’s house hold, and became friendly with the other members of the house. Thus Bejoy Kumar gave him the work of posting letters. That was his first work and in 1969 when he left his body, he was the Trustee and Manager of the Ashram.
In December 1913 Sri Aurobindo shifted to another two storied house situate on François Martin Street, with a spacious courtyard in front. Here too Amrita-da paid a daily visit but as Sri Aurobindo lived on the first floor and no one was allowed to go up without permission, he had the misfortune of not seeing Sri Aurobindo at all. In the previous house though not meeting him, he at least could get a glimpse of Sri Aurobindo whenever he took a walk around.His heart thirst for a meeting with him. It was through Bijoy Kanto that he had the darshan of Sri Aurobindo on the corridor of the first floor.
‘Bejoykanto got up first, I followed him, reached the head of the long corridor and, as I stood there, Sri Aurobindo who was about twenty feet away, turned his eyes upon me… What I remember is that a lamp was lit every where in me and I saw in a spontaneous and automatic movement in front of me an intense celestial beauty. My being unknowingly swam as it were in a sea of silence, it fell prostrate at the lotus feet of the master…body life and mind all together in a single block. Sri Aurobindo touched me with his flower like-like hands and made me stand up. I drank the drink he gave me.’ The unquenchable thirst to see Sri Aurobindo again made him to request Bijoykanto and after fifteen days or so he saw Sri Aurobindo alone, Amrita-da did not quite know English, but somehow managed to utter “I want come daily see you”. Sri Aurobindo granted his request .Everyday he would stand in front of Sri Aurobindo who would be sitting on a chair on the terrace, and talk in English, from five thirty to six thirty in the evenings He would pour out to him everything without exception. Sri Aurobindo wanted him to pass the matriculation and in 1915 he went to Madras and as he was short of Rs.9, Sri Aurobindo gave the money. After he cleared the exam Sri Aurobindo wanted him to study further. With a heavy heart he went to Madras for a long stay but his heart was at the feet of Sri Aurobindo. He would visit Pondicherry from time to time and renew his intimacy with Sri Aurobindo’s house hold. Thus years passed and one day in 1917 when he was staying in Sri Aurobindo’s house for a few days that he lost the last sign of orthodoxy at his feet. Nolini-da as per Sri Aurobindo’s instruction cut off his already shrinking shikha at night when he was fast asleep. Amrita-da shivered at the consequence and went back to Madras found a new place to stay, so that he would not meet any familiar person. But his father soon came looking for him found out the new residence and was shocked at his shikhaless head. He had brought the news of his marriage to a rich girl, and went back disappointed. Did the lord play this trick to save his disciple from alienating him! The Guru asked for Guru Dakshina which was given unknowingly by Amrita-da and the Guru saved him from a mundane life. The shishya whom the Guru was shaping from behind veil when he was a mere teenager, settled at the feet of the guru from1919 never to leave the Master and The Mother, where as other disciple went to their native place from time to time. And how did he spend all these years up to 1969, that is another story.
Sri Aurobindo shifted from the house on Mission St. to the house on François Martin St. called Les Hotes end of 1913. Though the rent was high but rumours spread that because he wanted to pay due respect to the guests from foreign. Amrita-da used to visit daily there too. It so happened that one day when he went there he found the courtyard very clean and not a single person was visible, then someone came out of the room told him to go away as Sri Aurobindo was expecting the two foreign dignitaries and only the inmates were allowed to stay inside. With a heavy heart Amrita-da returned, he was not an inmate! He considered himself to be one of them. But one incident made him very happy. The foreigners came to pay their respect to Sri Aurobindo, in those days to pay any homage to an Indian by any foreigner was unthinkable. India was under foreigner rule England France etc. to pay respect to an Indian!
He saw the Mother in Dupleix house, diagonally opposite to Sri Aurobindo’s house, and was introduced as a student of Calve College, poor Amrita-da not an inmate! His first impression of the Mother was that she was one of the others, but his heart felt the magic power of the Mother. He approached the Mother in the spirit of a seeker of knowledge. She was an image of immeasurable power. “She however, held that power in herself without allowing the least display of it. On some occasions the great power would shine forth irresistibly. Our inner sense would perceive this radiation if it was awake.”
Amrita-da was a witness to the launching of Arya, a monthly review both in English and French, by Sri Aurobindo, Paul Richard and the Mother on 15th August 1914. One day Amrita-da started reading the first issue of Arya sitting in the verandah upstairs of Sri Aurobindo’s house, loud enough for himself to hear. He did not understand anything but found it sweet to read and re-read. Unknown to him, Sri Aurobindo stood in front of his table listening. When Amrita-da looked up and saw him, he told that he did not grasp anything but the reading was delightful. Sri Aurobindo replied, “It is not necessary to understand it all at once. Go on reading. If you find joy in reading you need not stop it.” When Amrita-da saw Sri Aurobindo every day in the afternoons, he wanted to know about Yoga. Sri Aurobindo would explain and he would write them down later. Much later Sri Aurobindo asked for that notebook, and it was never returned. Perhaps that was his wish. He studied the book Yogic Sadhan with the Mother, sitting on chairs facing each other, almost as equals. That’s how the Mother was looked upon as one of them.
Soon the World War started, the Mother left for France with Paul Richard. Amrita-da too left for Madras for further studies and Sri Aurobindo wrote the monthly review all by himself. In Madras Amrita-da visited the theosophical society, met Gandhiji and other prominent leaders of the time but none could capture his heart. Solely the Mother enveloped it with her captivating looks. On and off he visited Pondicherry, when with family members, he performed all the rituals but in Sri Aurobindo’s house all was forgotten—no taboos, no cast barriers, no untouchability. Finally in 1919 he settled permanently at Sri Aurobindo’s feet not only saw the formation of Ashram and its growth but was a whole hearted participant in its formation and growth. In 1920 on 24th April the Mother came to Pondicherry and settled permanently and Amrita-da was fortunate to be with her all along—a submissive energetic helper in her work.
The household shifted in 1922 to a new premises on Marine St. a rented house, though the previous one was also kept on rent as Sri Aurobindo’s house hold was growing bigger. Here he acted as the Mother’s messenger, carrying letters attending to visitors etc. On the afternoon of 24th November 1926 he was sent by the Mother to fetch all the inmates of the house and all witnessed the glorious scene of Sri Aurobindo keeping his left hand over the Mother’s head and with the right blessed the inmates. It was the descent of Krishna consciousness. Sri Aurobindo completely withdrew from all outward activities on 26th November leaving the responsibility of the Ashramites in the Mother’s hands and instructed all to address her as the Mother. Amrita-da was one of the first ones to address her thus. The evening meditations with the inmates continued only with the Mother. She rearranged their sitting arrangements, some sat left of her represented her Shakti and those on right hand side represented her Jyoti. Amrita-da sat on left of the Mother and Nolini-da on right.
Early next year the Mother with some inmates shifted to their newly purchased house named Meditation. Amrita-da room cum office was just below the room of Sri Aurobindo. Here from early morning to late night one would see a frail figure, little bent signing the money orders replying to letters, writing a chit for somebody who needed two pillows, though she had grown up sons who should have written that chit, looking after the houses, the inmates, the servants, the quarrels to settle, go to the bank to open an account for Huta-ben as Mother so desired always relaxed, his soft voice never betraying any anxiety, disturbance. He would take the work up to the Mother and to Sri Aurobindo too occasionally, when some important document required his signature, Amrita-da would ask for permission to enter, Sri Aurobindo would sit up on his bed Amrita-da squatted on the floor and then the role reversed, the Guru obeying the shisya in all submission. Amrita-da pointed his finger on the spot where His signature had to be put, full signature or initials, the Guru obeyed without hesitation and then would ask “Is there anything else”, the shisya would reply in negative and leave. The lad who was a mere teenager in 1913, had now grown to be a responsible, relentless instrument of the Mother. He would come down and give the Mother’s reply, and if the reply was not according to the wish of the inmates then gulp down their bitterness with a sad smile. He was Amrita but could have been Neelakantha too. Yes sometimes he was hurt and sad too. Some took advantage of his soft nature but his noble nature would not allow him to be strict or use any harsh words. Only once did I see him annoyed when an ex-student who settled outside came and talked to him about his work outside. Amrita would look up to him with a sad smile, put his head down to look at his papers. When after half an hour the ex-student left he mumbled, “These people think we have no work to do.” It was the delay in the Mother’s work which he could not tolerate. He joined the Physical Education group, was clumsy and trailed behind during marching. He would accompany Nolini-da for film shows but come back with him in the middle of the show because Nolini-da left, though he liked the film.
His relationship with the Mother was very close, affectionate and dependent as a child. His humorous nature would not spare the Mother also from fun. Once she chided him and gave a slap his immediate reply was ‘Good that I had a shave today otherwise my stub would have hurt you”. He started a magazine in Tamil, Vaikarai, and laboured for its circulation, he wanted the Tamilians to grow in the light of Sri Aurobindo. But alas the response was poor. Now that magazine has the highest circulation among all the magazines published by Ashram. He knew Tamil, English, French, Sanskrit and Bengali too, even wrote a poem in Bengali. His love for his mother tongue was so deep that once when somebody asked why is the Sanskrit called Devnagari, his reply was that Sanskrit was not invented by men but by gods. It was They who worked out the letters which are supposed to be among the most perfect in the world. When asked what about Tamil? He replied with a twinkle in his eyes, “Oh, the gods invented Sanskrit for the world to use but amongst Themselves They spoke in Tamil.” That is Amrita-da—short fair with Grecian features refined with soft voice pouring out love and affection for one and all. He was a bridge between us and the Mother, a child to her but elder brother to us looking after our needs, settling our quarrels working from early morning till late at night, the door always open for one and all and his soft voice calling, “Come”. He often used to go for hair cut. With hardly any hair on his head what was the need? When asked his reply was I go for after hair cut. That was the massage given by Manodhar-da to his neck and back-his only recreation. How much he worked hard after Sri Aurobindo’s passing for the formation of the trust can slightly be guessed by the volume of correspondence and legalities. The Mother formed Sri Aurobindo Ashram Trust on 1st May 1955 and made Amrita-da one of the Trustees and Manager. Once when a visitor asked him what was his work his reply was, “I look after the needs of the people.” Much later the gentleman came to know that he was the Trustee and Manager of the Ashram. And this is where many were deceived by his unassuming friendly humorous nature.
With heavy load of work he still found the time to write his thoughts “visions and voices”. But he could not devote any more of his precious time to literary vagaries. He too heard voices music when sitting all alone on the sea shore. Like Dwijendra Lal Roy who heard Maha sindhur opar theke, ki sangeet bhese ashe, “Besides hearing voices, he got the eyes to see visions of things and happenings as if on a celluloid screen”. Thus he wrote on Beauty:
“Beauty standing motionless in meditation is beauty of forms,
Beauty moving and shining in meditation is beauty of life,
Beauty thinking in meditation is beauty of thought—
The spirit of beauty is thus standing, moving and thinking from the far off beyonds.”
That he had such deep realizations early in his years make one bend ones head in reverence and also remorse for thinking of him as one of us.
One of the experiences he had when still a teenager, “One day it was noon. I proceeded as usual to Sri Aurobindo’s house. No human voice was heard as I walked down the street. The sun was at meridian; it was all luster So extraordinary was its light that nothing could keep hiding in the places lit up wide by it; all must come to light. Not a speck of dust in that broad day light; it was as though the presence of Lord Krishna behind the sun, pervading the whole sky was there to enhance a hundred fold with its dark blue the light of the sun shining therein.”
Another of his vision was futuristic when he was about nine year old. Along with some Brahmins he was doing night rituals near a pond. “In that dim darkness of the evening, just two or three stars twinkled in the western sky. And then in front of me at a short distance and gradually drawing nearer and rising above as it came close to my head, there appeared a shining ball, a big ball of the size of a palm fruit. Its luster was dark blue. My eyes fixed on it, I kept looking at it. That ball soothing my eyes, comforting my body, seizing my heart and, as it slowly swam up, proceeded far to the south; my sight followed its course till it disappeared.”
Ten miles away from this village was Pondicherry. Sri Aurobindo had not yet arrived. When in the house at François Martin St. Amrita-da had the first Darshan of Sri Aurobindo and lay prostate at His feet that he saw that glowing ball, seen years back, appearing in the dark blue sky within him which slowly brought him to his destination at Sri Aurobindo’s feet. Thus the visionary accomplished his life’s mission on earth, the life prolonged by the Mother’s grace to achieve his destined goal, as the Mother wrote on his birth anniversary:
“After 44 years of faithful service I greet you at the threshold of Realisation, with love and confidence.”
Sri Aurobindo with Amrita (right)
The Mother with Amrita on 25 October 1954
The Mother with Nolini Kanta Gupta, Robi Ganguli, Amrita and Udar Pinto
The Mother with Amrita and Pavitra
The Mother with Amrita, Pavitra and Udar Pinto
The Mother with Nolini Kanta Gupta, Amrita, Pavitra and Udar Pinto
The Mother with Amrita and Pavitra
The Mother with Amrita, Pavitra, Nolini Kanta Gupta, Pradyot Bhattacharya, Abhay Singh Nahar and Udar Pinto
The Mother with Amrita and Nolini Kanta Gupta
The Mother with Amrita, Nolini Kanta Gupta, André Morisset and others at the Playground
The Mother with Amrita and Nolini Kanta Gupta
Amrita and Nolini Kanta Gupta with Chinmoy and Kalipada
The Mother with André Morisset, Pavitra and Amrita
The Mother with Nolini Kanta Gupta, Champaklal and Amrita
Photographs courtesy: Ms. Tara Jauhar, Ms. Gauri Pinto and Sri Aurobindo Ashram, Pondicherry.
45 Replies to “Amrita-da by Krishna Chakravarti”
very enlightening article on his birthday , true founders of the ashram…their only aim was the Lord and Mother and their command to be fulfilled at all cost at all times
So nice of you. Though I know about this article as I know the author who was learning sanskrit from Shri Pujalalji. I took some of her experiences with Shri Pujalal in my Book on Shri Pujalal. Krishna didi is all praise for Shri Pujalal and my book on him.You are doing wonderful work. Keep it up.
I was deeply touched by the homage to Sri Amrita. He was a dear friend of my father. When I published my first book on Subramania Bharati, I sent him a copy and he wrote a detailed letter reminiscing about his days with Bharati. This was in 1958. It has always been a joy to go to his Tamil writings. Shri Shankar Gowda (Parubai Patil’s father) told my father that there was an ethereal music when Sri Aurobindo called out, “Amrita!”
Incidentally Aravamudhan is the Tamilised form of Aparyapta-amruta (nectar that does not satiate).
WIth renewed thanks for all the postings
This is simply a fabulous tribute .-..Amrta-da was an epitome of all that we have come to understand as what it means to be a true child and true servitor of the Supreme ..His was a life turned In ineffable adoration and Para – Bhakti of our Lord and the Divine Mother..
Thank you .Krishna for sharng with us this great ” Amrit tulya ” life .
Thank you , Anurag ..
Surendra – SAICE ’69
my heart is filled with love on reading this article.
a story about money..agenda..October 5, 1966- Amritada
”About the financial situation, I have a little story to tell you, which took place on Sunday or Monday. I told you that the situation was quite… to ordinary consciousnesses, it was critical. And there was a payment to be made. I don’t remember the material details, but something had to be paid very urgently (I think it was to the workers: they were hungry and hadn’t been given their money). And I needed a certain amount—which I didn’t have: I had nothing. Then a sort of compassion came into me for those people who didn’t have any money. I saw it wasn’t right, and I couldn’t do anything because there was none. So, in the evening while I was walking (I have an hour of meditation and quiet, of concentration), I presented it all like this (gesture upward), and with an almost childlike attitude I said to the Lord (He was there, of course, I was with Him) something that can be translated (I don’t know, I don’t speak but it could be translated into words) roughly like this: “I know You are with me and behind everything I do and everywhere, but I’d like to know whether what I do, the work I do, interests You or not! (Mother laughs) And if it does interest You, well, I must have this money.”
It came like that, in a quite childlike form, but very, very pure. And two days later, when it was necessary for the money to come, for me to have money, just as everything seemed quite impossible, Amrita suddenly came in, telling me, “Here, so-and-so has sent a cheque for such-and-such an amount.”—Exactly the amount needed. And I think it was the first time that person had sent money. It was quite unexpected, absolutely a miracle—a miracle for children. The required amount, just at the required time, and absolutely unexpected. Then I had a good laugh. And I said to myself, “How silly we can be! We don’t know that everything happens exactly as it has to.”
I can’t say that I worry (I never do), but I was wondering… sometimes I wonder, “Is it going to go on, or…” I am not quite sure of what’s going to happen, because… I never try to know nor do I desire to know, but I don’t feel I am “told.” (I think this is another mental stupidity and when nothing is formulated, it means things are all right and as they should be.) But, of course, there is a childishness that would like to be “told,” “Do this this way and that that way, and this…” But it doesn’t work! It’s not like that!
I don’t receive any command: when I have something to say, I receive the exact word or sentence, in an absolute way; but for action, I don’t receive any command, because… I don’t think I have any hesitation, I never wonder, “Should I do this or should I do that?” Never. My whole effort is to live from minute to minute. I mean, to do every minute exactly what should be done, without making plans, without thinking, without… because it all becomes mental; as soon as you start thinking something out, that’s no longer it. But quite instinctively and spontaneously, I do what needs to be done: this, that, this…. When something needs a response, it comes. As for money, it’s the same thing; the only thing I am led to do is to say, “So-and-so has asked for so much, such-and-such Service needs so much,” like that (not a long time in advance, but when it becomes imperative). And that’s all. It’s like that. So I don’t know what will happen tomorrow; I don’t at all seek to know what’s going to happen. But on that day, I seemed to be asking, “Well, give me proof that You are interested.”—Poff! it came just at the right time. So I laughed, I said to myself, “What a baby I must still be!”
And for two days, just when I needed to give some money, it came. So I said, “All right, that’s fine.” But now it’s no longer so amusing! It was really amusing.
There is now a kind of trust there, behind: well, it will come when it has to, that’s all.
The spirit of organization, maybe not quite on an ordinary level but on a human one (maybe not just human, but anyway), the spirit of organization likes to have everything in front of it like a picture, and then to make plans, to organize, see: this comes here, that comes there…. All that is useless. We must learn to live from minute to minute, like that. It’s much more comfortable. And what prevents things from being so is (I think) that it’s exactly contrary to the reasonable human mind, and that everyone around me expects me to make plans and decisions and… So there is a pressure; I think that’s it. Otherwise, it would naturally and spontaneously be like that: the miracle every minute. My tendency is always to say, “Oh, don’t worry! The more you worry, the more difficult you make things—don’t bother, don’t bother.” But they stare at me with a kind of horror (Mother laughs): I don’t “plan ahead,” you see.
That’s my little “story”—my little miracle. It was as though to tell me, “Oh, you’d like to see a miracle?—Here it is, ready-made!” (Mother laughs) It’s a good lesson.
another story which I heard from Anupda who used to work at Irumbai farm with Jaladda. One day Amritada in his last days asked Anupda if he could take him to his ancestral village , to which he replied I do not know the way to your village, to which Amritada said I will show you the way. And so one afternoon both left by jeep for Irumbai and on the way they took some turns and drove on till they finally arrived at his village. He saw the house and went to the pond sat there a few minutes, looked happy and asked to be driven back after sometime. A few days later he left his body.
another anecdote that comes to mind was recounted to me by Ranidi
( Basanta Mukherji’s sister) who used to come to ashram since 1956, and was very close to Amritada, and used to sit in his room to meditate in the evenings, and she observed that Amritada was reading ”the Life Divine” every day and never turned the page, so out of curiosity she asked him which chapter was he reading to which he replied the first . Ranidi told him she had read the whole of it ,but did not see Amritada turn the page from the first one to which the SAGE replied I haven’t gone beyond the first paragraph yet.
Amrita-from the agenda of 11th oct.1960…”The mental silence Sri Aurobindo gave you in 1914, about which you were speaking the other day …
It has never left. I have always kept it. Like a smooth white surface turned upwards. And at any moment at all … You see, we speak like a machine, but there nothing moves; at any moment at all it can turn towards the heights. It’s ALWAYS turned like that, but we can become aware of it being like that. Then, if we listen, we can hear what comes from above. My active consciousness, which was here (Mother points to her forehead), has settled above, and it has never again moved from there.
I told this to X—or rather had someone tell him—to see his reaction. And I realized that he did not understand in the least! Once Amrita asked him how he himself SAW and KNEW things. So he tried to explain; he told Amrita that he had to pull his consciousness upwards by a gradual effort, to go beyond the heart, beyond the throat center … to pull it right up here (the top of the head), and once there, you’re divine, you know! All of a sudden, I understood that when I said it was there, above the head, it must have seemed absolutely impossible to him! For him, it’s the crown of the head1 (what they call the thousand-petalled lotus), just at the top of the head, whereas in my experience it opens, it rises and you go above, and then you settle there … For a number of years it even changed my [physical] vision—it was as if I were looking at things from above. It returns from time to time, too, as if suddenly I were seeing from above instead of from here, at eye level.
agenda of 19th april 1969 Regarding the departure of Amrita, who looked after the Ashram’s finances.)
(Laughing) Here are soups!
We’re in a dreadful confusion, dreadful!
For years there was a whole side of things, the side of money and all the arrangements, which I wasn’t told about, and it was quite fine, I didn’t look after it, didn’t bother myself with it. Now, they suddenly tell me things (half tell me, and without telling me what used to be done before), and I realize… Everything is in a dreadful confusion, dreadful! Because… I can’t understand what they do because I don’t know the reason, I don’t know how things are arranged.
Now a weight has been lifted, but… They quarrel… oh!
I had things to tell you… but I don’t remember—I don’t remember at all! On Wednesday, after you left, I realized I had things to tell you, but now I don’t remember—so many things have taken place that I don’t remember.
You see, previously, Amrita used to centralize many things. He had organized them, and I didn’t concern myself with them; he would only tell me where I needed to intervene, and all the rest was arranged. But now, for the least thing they come to me, and as they don’t know what he used to do and how, everything needs to be done. It has caused a lot of difficulty.
agenda of May 24, 1967-(Amritada)
Yesterday, someone wrote to me and asked:
“In the end, what is the Divine?”
I told him that I gave one answer to help him, but that a hundred could be given, each as good as any other:
“The Divine can be lived, but not defined….
Here, I added, “But anyway, since you ask me the question, I will answer you.”
“The Divine is an absolute of perfection, eternal source of all that exists, whom we grow progressively conscious of, while being Him from all eternity.”
Once, Amrita also told me that for him, the Divine was something simply unthinkable. So I answered him, “No! That way, it won’t help you. Just think that the Divine is everything (to the fullest possible extent, of course), everything we want to become in our highest, most enlightened aspiration. All that we want to become—that’s what the Divine is.” He was so happy! He told me, “Oh, that way it becomes easy!”
(Amrita )agenda of sept 7 1967-(Then Mother sorts out flowers and keeps one aside for the Ashram’s cashier.)
I don’t have any money either. I owe him 15,000 rupees and the poor man has to pay all the rents…. I have debts everywhere! (Mother laughs)
That’s how it is, it doesn’t matter!
In the past, when I had money problems, I always had money from here or there, it was easy: I would take it, and as soon as money came, I’d put it back. But now it no longer works! I owe Amrita 20,000 rupees; I owe H. 13,000 rupees; I owe the cashier 15,000 rupees. That’s how it is. It doesn’t matter, I don’t attach any importance to it.
from agenda of may 17,1969..
Apart from that, in Amrita’s case, it was something different again.7 Amrita used to come in spite of his illness, he used to come and see me every day; he would come upstairs in the morning and sit down here, and once again in the evening (you saw how much work it was to climb the stairs). In his case, when he left… The doctor had told him, “You can’t go upstairs for a month,” and it’s after that, later on that day, that he came: he didn’t accept, he left his body and came—he came straight to me. But he was IN HIS OWN FORM, more subtle, but precisely defined (Mother draws an outline showing Amrita’s form), it was his form, in his likeness. And he remained there, now active and now at rest (he rests more than he is active, but now and then he is still active). It’s like… like a shadow, you understand, which is wholly in my atmosphere. And he has stayed there—he stays there, rests there.
.CWM vol13, general- 25th may 1969…” Amrita is different. He is there outside, one of you, one among you people moving about. At times, of course, when he wants to take rest and repose he comes and lodges here. ”
”stones that were thrown.” Some disciples (Amrita for instance) kept them for several years.”.agenda of july 26 1969
(Amrita).CWM vol6-..talk of 10th march 1954 How many of us were there in that house?… Amrita was there (turning to the disciple), weren’t you, Amrita, do you remember that day? (Laughter) We had a cook called Vatel. This cook was rather bad-tempered and didn’t like being reproved about his work. Moreover, he was in contact with some Musulmas who had it seems, magical powers—they had a book of magic and the ability to practise magic. One day, this cook had done something very bad and had been scolded—I don’t know if any of you knew Datta, it was Datta who had scolded him—and he was furious. He had threatened us, saying, “You will see, you will be compelled to leave this house.” We had taken no notice of it.
Two or three days later, I think, someone came and told me that stones had fallen in the courtyard—a few stones, three or four: bits of brick. We wondered who was throwing stones from the next house. We did exactly what we forbid children to do: we went round on the walls and roofs to see if we could find someone or the stones or something—we found nothing.
That happened, I believe, between four and five in the afternoon. As the day declined, the number of stones increased. The next day, there were still more. They started striking specially the door of the kitchen and one of them struck Datta’s arm as she was going across the courtyard. The number increased very much. The interest was growing. And as the interest grew, it produced a kind of effect of multiplication! And the stones began falling in several directions at the same time, in places where there were neither doors nor windows; there was a staircase, but it had no opening in those days: there was only a small bull’s-eye. And the stones were falling on the staircase this way (vertical gesture); if they had come through the bull’s-eye, they would have come like this (slantwise movement), but they were falling straight down. So, I think everyone began to become truly interested. I must tell you that this Vatel had informed us that he was ill and for the last two days—since the stones had started falling—he hadn’t come. But he had left with us his under-cook, a young boy of about thirteen or fourteen, quite fat, somewhat lifeless and a little quiet, perhaps a little stupid. And we noticed that when this boy moved around, wherever he went the stones increased. The young men who were there—Amrita among them—shut the boy up in a room, with all the doors and windows closed; they started making experiments like the spiritists it (laughing): “Close all the doors, close all the windows.” And there was the boy sitting there inside and the stones began falling, with all the doors and windows closed! And more and more fell, and finally the boy was wounded in the leg. Then they started feeling the thing was going too far….
agenda of 10th may 1969..People write to me… Previously, all kinds of things were going on downstairs [in the Ashram’s offices]; people would speak with Amrita and they would “sort it out”; now, they’re writing to me!… I’ve just heard a load of it, you know… (gesture like a truckload being dumped). I did have a kind of sensation that things weren’t right, but I’d never have thought they were like that.
agenda of 21st may 1969..”I told you, with Amrita, it’s a sort of not too precise form; it’s always there, now resting, now waking up, but he doesn’t seem to be particularly interested in material things.”…
agenda of 23rd july 1969..’ I saw Purani, I saw Mridu, and the other day (I told you) I saw Amrita and Chandulal talking together. That whole place looks like downstairs, but it’s not downstairs. So it’s the place all right.
Very long ago (very long, a few years after Sri Aurobindo left), one night (because I was already seeing him), I saw him: I had gone to his place, and I found him sitting on a sort of bed… with a truss: three or four bandages like that on his body! (Mother laughs) So he called me and said (in English), “Look! Look what they’re doing with me! Look, they’re putting bandages all over me!” So I inquired—and found that they wanted to make cuts in his writings”….
Dear Benny … you have done and are doing a tremendous job in offering us the readers all the facts , ancedotes and recollections from everywhere ..we owe you deep feeling of thankfulness ..
Surendra -saice ’69
This is on Saroja-di’s uncle Amrita-da. He was a real sadhak.
Kudos to our beloved Benida (Benimadhav Mohanty of Sri Aurobindo Ashram, Pondicherry) for the invaluable compilation from “The Mother’s Agenda” and “Collected Works of the Mother” on K. Amrita. Excellent work. Thank you very much.
thanks all, some left still…12th march 1969
”.…Since Amrita left, Nolini has had much more work. Because we’ve had to divide the work….
Me too, I have a good deal of it!
Ah, it’s quite difficult…..
An old and very faithful disciple whose body was found on the beach. This is the continuation of the series that began with Bharatidi, then Amrita, Pavitra…. Rishabhchand was the author of Sri Aurobindo—His Life Unique. ↩ ref to agenda
from agenda of 12th jan 1963…”You understand, there are only 365 days in a year, and we are… including the visitors who come specially for their birthdays, nearly 1,300 people. Most people I don’t see, but some I have to: people like Nolini, Amrita, Pavitra, Champaklal,2 I can’t but give them a moment. Then there are people who come from Africa, from Europe, and who ask to see me before leaving, so…”
from agenda of sept 20 ,1960..”When Amrita,5 seized with zeal, wanted to make him understand what we were doing here and what Sri Aurobindo had wanted, it almost erupted into an unpleasant situation. So after that, I decided to identify myself with him to see—I had never done this, because normally I only do it when I am responsible for someone, in order to truly help someone, and I’ve never felt any responsibility in regard to X. So I wanted to see his inner situation, what could and could not be done. That was the day you saw him coming down from our meditation in an ecstatic state, when he told you that all separation between him and me had dropped away—it was to be expected, I anticipated as much!
agenda of july19, 1969..”There’s a new phenomenon during the night. One phenomenon was there before, but has grown more precise: it’s a place in the subtle physical where those with a body and those without a body are mingled without difference. They have the same reality, the same density and the same conscious, independent existence. There I see… Last night (or the night before, I don’t know), there were things like that: Chandulal8 was there, Amrita too, they met and talked, made plans together, just as they would have done physically on earth. It wasn’t the first time they were meeting, and they said to each other, “I’ll tell you tomorrow…” like that, regarding their ideal. Interesting things. There’s another… (Mother tries to remember) Ah, yes, Purani9 also. They go about there. There’s an extraordinary likeness to material life, except that you can feel they’re freer in their movement. But that’s not new, it’s just growing more concrete and precise. What’s new is what has taken place these last few nights…”
agenda of 1968 jan 12..”For the little one… no. I don’t know if I told you about the little one: I hadn’t seen anything, hadn’t foreseen anything, above all hadn’t formed anything, I was simply looking at these two [the child’s father and mother]; she hadn’t yet got her divorce, anyway they were living on the fringe of society; so I thought the best was to have the child born in Auroville, where there is full freedom. That was all. It began there and ended there. I never thought it would be an “extraordinary being,” nothing of the sort—just a child. But then, the evening before the child was born (he was born around one in the morning, I think), the evening before, I got a telegram from America announcing Paul Richard’s death. Now, I don’t know what became of him, but I had taught him occultism: he knew occultism, he knew how to enter another body. And I also knew (through other people) that for a long time he had had a sort of ambition to come back here. So the two things together made me… “Well,” I said, “this is surprising!” You understand, just enough time to go out of his body normally and enter another normally. I didn’t say anything, but it was Amrita who brought me the telegram; we looked at each other, and I said, “Well, well!” That’s all. The next day, the whole Ashram knew that Paul Richard had reincarnated in R.! Someone even wrote to me, “I hear you have reincarnated Richard…” “Oh,” I said, “enough, enough!” (Mother laughs) There.
When I said to Pavitra that Les Misérables was one of the great works of art he replied “Faugh! What a shallow thing.” But I believe I heard from Amrita that you used to regard it as one of the world’s great novels.
It is not one of the masterpieces of “art”, but I regard it as the work of a powerful genius and certainly one of the great novels. It is certainly not philosophically or psychologically deep, but it is exceedingly vivid and powerful.
25 April 1937..CWSA
from record of yoga CWSA-2) A lottery is arranged for the distribution among the sadhaks of articles of small value—in order to see how the forces work on different people. Before the distribution of tickets Amrita sees in vision the number 61; he gets actually the number 62. On inquiry he learned that by mistake two tickets had been distributed to one sadhak, otherwise he would have received No 61. Telepathic vision of the thing that was about to happen,—not prevision.
Nirodbaran on K. Amrita:
“Speaking about Amrita, the first picture that comes to one’s mind is his sense of humour, even at the age of 70 years, his wisdom, experience and the intense responsibility of yoga, instead of blunting his sense of humour only enhanced it as time passed. Here I could not draw a similarity between him and Sri Aurobindo. I once asked Sri Aurobindo about the source of his tremendous humour to which he replied in a mysterious manner ‘Raso vai Sa’ (He is indeed the Rasa). It looks as though Amrita had found an access to that secret. In the beginning, as I didn’t know him closely, I was not aware of his deep sense of humour. Later his ‘divine levity’ totally charmed me. I used to wonder at the source of his eternal fountain of Rasa. At all times, in all activities, in everybody’s company and even in the company of the Mother, his humour would burst forth. Not just jokes, nor fun but pun and wit sprang out of him as if Godess Saraswati herself supplied him with that. In front of the Mother when everyone was serious, silent and self-controlled, only Amrita was full of rasa always looking for a chance for humour. Mother responded to him sometimes with a smile, other times with a mock serious look and yet other times with an objection. And of course with other sadhaks around he used to be full of humour which brought smiles to depressed people and simple solutions to serious problems. Everyone always looked forward to his joyous company.
“Does it simply mean that he had less work or less responsibility? Enter his room at any time and you’ll see him seated working at his table in a white banian, slightly bent in his back with a serious bright forehead, a radiant face featured like a Deccan Brahmin. He had on his table many pens and pencils, bunch of keys and flowers adorning Mother’s photos—all kept immediately arranged. Waking up early in the morning he would carefully make his bed, then go out to wash his dhoti and after his bath he would come out of the bathroom wearing a fresh dhoti in Tamil style. I’ve noticed a few washing their own dhotis regularly—Nolini, Amrita and Bula. Amrita started his work early at 6 a.m. in the morning and continued till 9 or 10 p.m. in the night. Bank work, M.O. work, letters from the sadhaks, responsibility of the domestic servants, taking houses on rent for the Ashramites, listening to innumerable complaints of the sadhaks, placing those before the Mother and bringing her answers orally or through letters were his works. If ever you had seen him at work, you would have had a lot of fun. One after another, persons would enter his room and come out of it. His room was rather a small one filled with almirahs and tables. Added to these was the constant flow of people some of whom would sit here and some would stand there while he sat on his small chair speaking to someone or signing a cheque or instructing some fellow sadhak. Someone worked on the typewriter beside him while on another table M.O. account was being done. It was as if he worked with hundred hands and mouths at a time. In all this he, however, kept up his inimitable humour with all those whom he received or bade farewell to. Everyone was happy and contented. “Amritada, Amritada, my letter Amritada.” “Not as yet, tomorrow.” “What again a servant problem?” “Not happy with your room?” “Not yet fully cured?” “Do you need to consult a doctor or not?” “Okay I shall ask the Mother.” In all matters big or small we used to often hear him say, “I shall ask the Mother.” We were reminded of Sri Ramakrishna who always said, “I shall ask the Mother.” If you want to know about Karmayoga, sit for a while in Amrita’s room. I am talking not of Karma, but Karmayoga. Without any fatigue or strain and without any relaxation he would untiringly maintain a warm friendliness with all, listening patiently to their innumerable demands and complaints and giving them simple solutions. It was his large- heartedness and kindliness that attracted all sadhaks and sadhikas towards him. Once when he was unwell, I heard a female voice in his room around 6 a.m. Incredible! Can’t they spare him even at such times! I thought.
“Then it was time to go to the Mother. Satinath carried various flower vases, plates, trays, etc. Then followed the tray of important documents to be given to the Mother. Finishing all the work Amrita came down about an hour later from the Mother. Few waited downstairs for the reply; to some others replies had to be sent. To take their letters, to bring information about the sick, to get permissions for interviews, to give blessing packets—this was his daily routine. In all this sometimes a letter regarding illness or some other matter got misplaced in the great pile of letters and there followed a desperate search for the missing letter.
“The most fascinating aspect, however, was his relation with the Mother. How and when this relationship began can be known from his records in ‘Smritikatha’. One thing that hasn’t been mentioned but of which I heard was that when Sri Aurobindo asked the sadhaks when he had gone into seclusion to address her as ‘Mother’, Amrita was among the first few sadhaks to do so full-heartedly. His intimacy with the Mother ensued since then. His surrender to the Mother was like a child’s. He accepted her instructions without a question or doubt. I’ve heard that the Mother very often reprimanded him but there was never any sign of gloom on his face. Just as much was her unending love and care for Amrita which was visible in all her words. How else could he radiate such an amount of sweetness to everyone around? He was childlike, always desirous of the Mother’s touch. He would not do any work without asking the Mother, big or small. When sick he would depend totally on the Mother. Calling the doctor, giving medicine was all the Mother’s responsibility. Long before, around 1930, I saw him offering his Pranam to the Mother. Chandulal and he were like brothers. Both used to do pranam at the Mother’s feet, sharing her feet. It was an interesting scene—Amrita like a child. Likewise, I saw him in the later years, not offering pranams but discussing with the Mother details about property documents etc. He spoke French slowly, halting in between and often repeated ‘Oui douce Mere’ and added a few humorous touches here and there.
“X used to ask a lot of money for his expenses. Mother used to grant it grudgingly. One day she expressed her dissatisfaction to Amrita. Next time when X came to Amrita’s office for collecting the money, he saw Amrita leaving the office. X asked him, “When will you return?” Amrita answered, “When you would have left.”
“One day Mother told Amrita, “Whomever you see first in the morning, send him to call Dr. X.” “All right Mother”, replied Amrita. A little later he returned to the Mother who asked, “What’s the matter?” “Mother, if it so happens that you are the first one I meet in the morning?” Mother laughed.
“In his personal life he wouldn’t take a single step without asking the Mother. What is to be done when he was sick, whether he should accept gifts from others etc.—even such small details he would ask the Mother.
“He seems to have had little knowledge about his body unlike Nolinida. ‘He didn’t know or may be he was indifferent about what to eat when he was sick or how not to tax his body when he was ill. Sometimes when I used to enquire about his health when unwell, his replies confirmed that he wasn’t much bothered about his body. When he was suffering from heart-trouble, he once climbed up a three-storeyed building in order to attend a house-warming ceremony. I was flabbergasted!
“It was hard to control one’s laughter when he did his exercise. I remember, after the passing away of Sri Aurobindo, there was an awakening among the sadhaks that physical perfection has to be achieved. Thus Nolini, Amrita, Dilip, etc. took a firm decision to succeed in this unsurmountable yogic discipline. I heard that when Amrita first asked the Mother regarding this, she replied, ‘stupid’.
“A few days later when he asked the Mother a second time, he got the same answer. Attracted by others’ example, he approached the Mother a third time, when she agreed. But before long his enthusiasm waned away. Mother had known about it obviously, hence she refused to permit him. However, the sight of Dilip and Amrita doing their exercise in the playground was so enjoyable that people used to gather specially to see them. In their shorts they did marching following neither any beat nor the line and hence were left behind. Instructed to turn right they would invariably turn to left.
“Especially, it was quite an ordeal for them to get up quickly when squatting on the ground, leave alone the question of running along with others. Very soon they had to give up their well-intended plans. They were ready to forget their hopes of gaining the Supermind.
“Towards the end his ponch protruded a little. He once asked me, “Is my ponch protruding? What is to be done?” His hesitant Bengali was very sweet to hear. It seems in the early years, Sri Aurobindo not only inspired him to learn Bengali but he even insisted that he must learn it. Likewise he had forced Amrita to cut off his tuft. There is an interesting anecdote regarding his tuft. Sri Aurobindo had deputed a couple of boys to cut off his tuft. Coming from a traditional Brahmin family, Amrita considered it a sin to cut it off. So, he managed to maintain its honour by escaping here and there. One day while he was fast asleep, it was cut off by Nolinida. Along with it the boundaries of his staunch orthodoxy too were destroyed. But the real benefit of this sacrifice was his liberation from marriage. It seems that Amrita’s father was so depressed by this incident that he had to cancel his confirmed marriage proposal. Therefore it has to be concluded that having foreseen the possibility of a terrible tragedy, Sri Aurobindo did his best to get rid of Amrita’s tuft.
“This humourous yet deeply insightful incident throws enough light on the sweet relationship between the Guru and the sadhak. Actually Amrita was then just a kid. It is simply amazing to think of his secret attraction for Sri Aurobindo even at that age! Just the very utterance of Sri Aurobindo’s name gave him inexplicable joy. Disregarding the famous National leaders like Lal, Bal and Pal, he was enchanted by the very name of Sri Aurobindo. He longed to see him, to touch him, to be close to him—this inexplicable restlessness right at that tender age only goes to show that it was the result of his intimacy with Sri Aurobindo for several lives together. We cannot but believe this. This feeling gets confirmed when we read his ‘Smritikatha’. His wonderful vision, standing beside the pond at dusk—reminds us of the Magis of the Bible. I had occasion to see him a couple of times with Sri Aurobindo. I remember once he had come with all his papers to Sri Aurobindo for his signature. He waited at the door for permission. Without it he wouldn’t enter. He entered. Sri Aurobindo sat up. He squatted on the ground beside his bed just like a child, forwarding the papers. He said, “You have to sign here.” “What should I write?” “Full name.” Then showing several other places on different papers he said, “Only initials have to be given, A.G.” Finally, after it was over, Sri Aurobindo asked him smilingly, “Is there anything else?” “No”, he answered in a grave tone. He had controlled his eternal humour. I didn’t understand why he did so. But I felt that as many times as he was pointing with his fingers at the places to be signed, his fingers were eager to have a little touch of Sri Aurobindo’s finger. I’ve heard that in the early days of Ashram life, he used to pour water for Sri Aurobindo to wash his hands. Once, for some reason, when he got late, Sri Aurobindo kept waiting for him. A few months ago, I saw a dream: Amrita entered Sri Aurobindo’s room; quite a healthy body, with his usual kurta on him. Sri Aurobindo was seated on his bed. Amrita said, “I want to do pranam.” “All right.” “No, not just pranam, I want to embrace you.” Then Sri Aurobindo stood up and held him so tightly in an embrace that I was reminded of the embrace of Bheema.
“This was our Amrita, so generous and kind-hearted, always eager for God’s love and a devotee. His hunger for love got somewhat fulfilled when two of his nieces came to live here close to him. Whoever has seen this weakness of his heart, hridaya daurbalyam, I’m not using it in the sense of Gita—has realised how deep a love could be hidden in the cave of a Yogi’s heart! One day when I entered his room all on a sudden, I saw him holding the hands of his niece who was upset for some reason. Seeing me he took off his hand. A bit embarrassed, I came out quickly, a little surprised.
“His niece used to learn English from me. Very often he would enquire about her. One day he said, “You please teach her to write correct English so that she could assist me in my work.” I don’t know how much he was helped in his work but she had served him most faithfully during his illness. Talking about illness, when I first heard about his heart-trouble, I was worried, I knew that he had blood pressure and prostate problem but now there were signs of both. Towards the end, seeing his pale face, we used to discuss about him. Second time when I heard about his heart-attack, I felt very uneasy. That too passed. One day seeing him seated in his room early in the morning, I enquired about his health. “Quite well, but at times my sweet heart gives me some trouble.” I laughed. That was his last humour. I didn’t feel he was well at all. He looked very weak, pale, diminished. About two or three days later, around dusk, when I was studying, Bula suddenly came in and said, “Doctor, quick, quick. Amrita has fainted.” I went and saw that everything was over. The bird had flown out of the cage.
“Within moments the news reached everywhere. One and all started coming to visit him. Finally, the crowd of people had become so heavy that we had to close for the night and reopen in the morning. His last darshan went on for the whole morning—all the people of the Ashram, youngsters, children, important people from outside the Ashram and more importantly all the servants and the workers of the Ashram too. Everyone expressed their sadness through tears and flowers so much so that his deathbed had turned into a flowerbed.
“Likewise, I remember his birthday. It was so memorable. Flowers, garlands and various gifts used to fill his room and he sat amidst all like the King of Spring with a smiling face, humorous speech and sweets in hand—as if it was a festive time of Ananda all around.
“Mother said that when Amrita was 50 years of age, his soul wanted to leave his body and go back to its own kingdom. Mother arrested his departure for 20 more years and kept him engaged in Her work. Could he finish his assignment or owing to lack of strength in his old age his soul left the body? Whatever the reason, it seems he is always with the Mother and he feels satisfied to see his two nieces in close association with the Mother. His soul must be very happy with Mother but having lost him physically Ashram is sad and depressed. His office no more radiates as before. Tearfully eyes turn away from there. No more do we hear his warm salutation “Bonjour” inside the Ashram courtyard nor see him clad in a Bengali-styled dhoti and a clean banian. His sacred uncovered body in summer is not there any more. Ashram is now serious and solemn. Incessantly at work, yet ever- smiling, ever-greeting and fun-loving, Amrita’s place will perhaps never be filled.”
Amal Kiran on K. Amrita (slightly abridged) :
“I am starting with the day I reached Pondicherry: December 16, 1927—in my twenty-third year. When the metre-gauge train from Egmore touched its destination in the early morning, I and my wife Daulat (later renamed by Sri Aurobindo “Lalita”, signifying, in his words, “beauty of harmony and refinement” and also pointing to “the name of one of Radha’s companions”) were not quite ready to get down from it. She was still in her night-gown. As we did not wish to keep waiting the member of the Ashram (named Pujalal, as I learnt later) who had come to receive us, we alighted just as we were attired. The news of my wife’s informal dress reached Amrita’s ears and he said to the Mother in a somewhat ironical vein: “The Parsi lady who has come to do Yoga here is in a European dress.” The Mother replied:
“What has any dress got to do with Yoga?” There was never any other superficial remark by Amrita to reach me. He always kept himself in tune with the Mother’s judgments.
After Lalita and I had voluntarily separated in the interests of Yoga, and I had been shifted, from the house where now the Embroidery Department functions, to the rooms in the then-called “Guest House”—rooms which Sri Aurobindo had once occupied for nearly six years and were later Purani’s for about two and a half and went on being mine for over fourteen (1928-1942)—Amrita was a frequent visitor to them. It was on my typewriter that, day after day, he tried to master the touch-system with the help of Pitman’s exercise-manual. He arrived with a silent smile but left with a stock-formula, seeming to be a translation from the Tamil: “And then I go.”
Amrita was one of those with whom I came into close contact right from my early days in the Ashram. Once, when he was typing, a funeral passed in the street. In a low voice he said: “I feel that such a thing won’t happen to me.” These words did not strike me as either vacuous or vainglorious. For, in the whole period of the allotment of those rooms to me, the general conviction in the Ashram was that Sri Aurobindo and the Mother would completely transform and divinise their bodies with their “Integral Yoga” and that those who had joined them whole-heartedly would do the same. Even after the fracture Sri Aurobindo sustained of his right thigh because of a fall in late 1938 the conviction did not seem to change, for his comment was reported to have been simply: “It’s one more problem to be solved.” Only at the beginning of 1950 is Sri Aurobindo said to have remarked to the Mother: “Our work may demand that one of us should leave and act from behind the scene.” The Mother’s response was: “I will leave.” Sri Aurobindo decided: “No, you have to fulfil our Yoga of Supra- mental Descent and Transformation.”
Only during Amrita’s later days did I once hear him say apropos of some sadhak dying: “We all have to do the same one day.” When his own death took place, the Mother remarked that in the ordinary course of things he would have died fairly earlier but she had prolonged his life-span. Some time after the departure of Pavitra (Philippe Barbier St.-Hilaire) the Mother said to a sadhak: “Amrita and Pavitra are both within me, but time and again Amrita comes out in his subtle body and sits in front of me along with whoever is having an interview with me whereas Pavitra remains inside and keeps looking out half- amusedly.”
Right up to the time of his death, Amrita was a close companion of Nolini and they always had their meals together in Nolini’s room. However, the comrades differed much in temperament. Nolini, unlike Amrita, was far from being a good mixer, though quite genial with his few chosen associates. There was also an element of shyness in his nature plus the scholar’s distant air. I have heard the Mother say of him that he never spoke ill of anybody. At a certain period he appeared to be not close enough even to Amrita. Once I quoted to the latter my designation of Nolini after a phrase of Yeats’ with a punning play on the first half of his name: “A green knoll apart.” Amrita said: “Yes, and it is partly because of some aloofness by him even from me that I am pressing closer to you. Nolini has a psychic knack to get over his problems and doesn’t need much company.” I told Amrita that he was always welcome to be my friend. I had observed that he had considerable reliance on my judgment in several matters. He valued especially my so-called artistic sense. Thus, in rearranging his office-room’s furniture, he made it a point to consult me. He also trusted me to pluck out grey hairs skilfully from his moustache with a tweezer.
I was frequently in his room, often exchanging jokes. He was a witty chap. I recollect a quip of his when a woman, who often came to the Ashram in the company of a man, arrived accompanied by a child as well. Amrita said: “Formerly there were two of you. Now the two have become three!” He had a half joke about the word “nectar”: “Is it a drink that tars the neck?” He was witty with the Mother too. I have heard that once the Mother gave him a small slap. He smiled and said: “Luckily I shaved before coming to you. Other- wise your palm might have got hurt by my bristles!”
On one of his visits to me we talked of subtle bodies. He said: “The Mother has a huge vital body. Anything even distantly approaching it is the vital body of Purani.” Purani was another sadhak with whom I was in close touch. Indeed, with the exception of Pujalal, he was the first Ashramite I met. Pujalal had taken us to his room which, as I have said, had been Sri Aurobindo’s earlier. Purani was out. He was in the main Ashram-complex where—as I soon learned—his job at the time was to prepare hot water for the Mother’s early bath as well as to massage one of her legs which was not functioning in a fully normal way. I may mention in passing that for a long time Purani was to my wife and me the most impressive figure among the Ashram-members. In comparison to his energetic personality, both physically and psychologically, all the other Ashramites we met seemed rather colourless. I remember Nolini remarking after Purani’s death many years later that his personality had such force that he could have caught hold of anybody on the road and turned him to carry out what he willed. Nolini also used at that time the term “mahapurusha” (“great being”) for him. Purani had some occult powers and could go out in his super-forceful subtle body and act effectively. Once Vaun McPheeters, who with his wife Janet (renamed “Shantimayi” by the Mother) was the first American to settle in the Ashram, spoke a trifle lightly of India during a somewhat heated discussion with Purani. Purani, an arch-nationalist, could not stomach it. He told me that during the ensuing night he had found Vaun’s subtle form worrying him during sleep and he had gone out in his own subtle form and given Vaun a thrashing. Almost immediately there was a notable change in Vaun’s outer life. He went into retirement and was spiritually in a disturbed state. The Mother found her inner work on him getting difficult and did not know why until Purani narrated to her his encounter…
In the early days there was a good deal of talk about past births. The being who had been behind Jesus, Chaitanya and, most recently, Ramakrishna was said to be behind Pavitra now. St. Paul and Vivekananda were seen in the background of Anilbaran. In connection with Nolini we heard of Roman Virgil and the late-renaissance French poet Ronsard as well as the French-revolution poet Andre Chenier. As for Amrita himself, the forces in his past were Moses, Michelangelo and Victor Hugo, powerful personalities quite in contrast to his gentle, amiable present disposition. To help me in my historical researches I made sure from Amrita that the Egyptian princess mentioned in the Old Testament as getting her attendants to pick up baby Moses who had been left in a basket on the bank of the Nile was Hatshepsut before she became queen—Hatshepsut who was believed to be a past incarnation of the Mother. The only certainty announced about myself by both Sri Aurobindo and the Mother was that I had been an ancient Athenian. It is curious that I never inquired who the fellow had been. If, as reported, Sri Aurobindo had been Pericles and a little later Socrates (as declared by Nolini), I guess I must have belonged to the period of the one or the other. The two certainties about Sri Aurobindo’s past, as deducible from his correspondence with me, were Augustus Caesar and Leonardo da Vinci. To Amrita he said he still felt the edge of the guillotine on his neck. This would indicate that his birth immediately before the present one was associated with the French Revolution. If he was a guillotined front-liner, we can think only of Danton and Robespierre. But the Mother has seen Debu, Pranab’s brother, as having been the latter. So Danton has to be our choice. To me Sri Aurobindo wrote that he had “a psychic memory” of Dilip Kumar Roy as Horace, evidently a carry-over from the time he had been Augustus. The Mother, on one Pranam-occasion, saw two figures behind Dilip. When she described them to Sri Aurobindo he identified them as Horace and Hector. In the age of the siege of Troy Sri Aurobindo is taken to have been Paris, the Mother Helen and Nolini the husband of Helen, King Menelaus of Sparta from whom Trojan Paris seduced away Helen. On one occasion when I remarked to the Mother that the way she had poised her arm and hand a moment earlier reminded me of the depiction of Mona Lisa’s in Leonardo’s famous painting, she said that at times even physical characteristics were carried over from one life to another. I think Amrita told me that Doraiswamy, the well-known Madras advocate who was a staunch devotee of the Mother in those days, had been Francis I of France in whose arms Leonardo is said to have died.
Doraiswamy was as humorous and witty as Amrita. Once, soon after he had arrived from Madras in early morning, Amrita visited him in his room, saying he had hurried there before his own bath. Doraiswamy struck an attitude of awe and exclaimed: “What a privilege for us to see you in your unbathed grandeur!”
In the early days Amrita and Nolini served as emissaries from Sri Aurobindo to a prominent Indian political leader in the town, named David, who often asked for Sri Aurobindo’s advice. At 7.30 or 8 p.m. they would cycle to his house with the message and had the pleasure of a non-vegetarian dinner with him. It was to this person that in the first years of Sri Aurobindo’s stay in Pondicherry when British political agents were still at work against him, the manuscript of his English translation of Kalidasa’s Meghaduta (“The Cloud-Messenger”) was given for safe-keeping. The work was kept at the bottom of a trunk. Unfortunately, white ants got interested in it and finished it off before any human could start relishing it. It was Amrita who first told me that Sri Aurobindo had a private pamphlet prepared on simplified Sanskrit-learning but nobody has been able to trace it. Amrita told me also of Sri Aurobindo reading out to him portions of his play Eric which its author felt to be not at all badly created.
Referring to his earliest contact with Sri Aurobindo, Amrita mentioned how he used to come from school to Sri Aurobindo and at times lie on a mat, with Sri Aurobindo sitting by him and gently caressing his body with his hand. Amrita recollected a special odour coming from Sri Aurobindo’s body. In later years the Mother has mentioned a faint lotus-like scent emanating from it.
More serious lessons too were taught. Once Amrita was watching a spider’s web in which some insects had been caught. He started amusing himself by throwing some ants into the web. Sri Aurobindo saw him and very forcefully forbade him to go on with the game. It was a warning against thoughtlessness and wanton cruelty towards lower creatures that Amrita never forgot. From him as well as other early Ashramites I have heard of Sri Aurobindo’s fast for about three weeks, during which he continued his daily routine of literary work and of walking across his rooms for six or seven hours. At the end of the fast he took a full normal meal instead of the usual orange juice and liquid food. Connected with Amrita is a special eating experiment by Sri Aurobindo—one with opium. Sri Aurobindo asked him to fetch from the bazaar a substantial lump of this stuff. Opium is usually eaten in small quantities as either a stimulant, intoxicant or narcotic. Sri Aurobindo ate the whole lump brought to him—with no perceptible harmful effect. I am reminded of a story by de Quincy, the author of the famous Confessions of an Opium-eater. He tells of a Malay who suddenly appeared at his quarters. As an act of hospitality de Quincy put before the Oriental a quantity of opium. The visitor ate up at one stroke the entire big piece and took his leave. De Quincy was horrified. Day after day he looked into the local newspapers to see if any foreigner had been found lying dead anywhere in the country. No trace of a laudanum-poisoned Malay was reported. Amrita saw Sri Aurobindo going merrily on in spite of the abnormal amount of the poppy-product consumed. No wonder the Mother, knowing of such feats, told me during an interview soon after Sri Aurobindo had passed away in the early hours of 5 December 1950: “Sri Aurobindo did not leave his body because of physical causes. He was not compelled to do it. He had complete control over his body.” On my asking her what had made him go, she said: “It is quite clear to me, but I won’t tell you anything. You have to find out the reason yourself.” I requested: “Please give me the power to do it.” She put her hand on my head to bless it. What lingered most in my memory was that, while countering the possible general impression that Sri Aurobindo had departed because of an illness, she had made the clear-cut assertion: “There was nothing mortal about Sri Aurobindo”—words uttered when I had read out the short note for the next issue of Mother India, in which I had employed the conventionally turned phrase: “the mortal remains of Sri Aurobindo.” In this mind-boggling denial, which would apply just as well to Sri Aurobindo’s partner in spiritual world-work—the Mother herself—lies the ultimate Avataric secret of the birth no less than the death of both of them.
In spite of the little romance Sri Aurobindo had jocularly encouraged in Amrita’s early days, Amrita was not considered by the Mother to have an experienced and seasoned “vital being” where sensual matters were concerned. Thus, while admiring Jules Romain’s psychological acumen along with his style in his famous series of novels, Les Hommes de la bonne volonté, she asked Udar to go through the books but did not advise Amrita to read them. Evidently he was considered as being still a bit of an “innocent”.
Once he proved to be an “innocent” in social contacts too. He sent a letter to Madame Vigie in a folded form without an envelope. She expressed her surprise to the Mother about this impoliteness on his part. The Mother put him wise about social niceties.
During several years of the Ashram’s early career the Mother put together as chums Amrita and the chief engineer of the Ashram at that time—Chandulal. Chandulal was quite a character both in physical appearance, which was a little deformed, and in working capacity: he could give himself to non-stop work almost the whole of the working day. He often called Amrita his brother and sometimes hugged him. Amrita always took the relationship with a twinkle of humour.
What on the whole struck everybody about Amrita was not only his extreme devotion to the Mother and Sri Aurobindo but also his sweet nature. He was ever ready with sympathy for whoever brought him a tale of woe. And he would be glad to convey to the Mother her children’s needs or grievances.
When he died, all of us felt the loss. I believe his niece Kumuda, of whom he was very fond, felt it most acutely. I was told she had fainted on hearing the news. He had spent a good amount of time with her, part of it in tutoring her in French. It is fitting that she should be prominent, together with her sister Saroja, in celebrating the centenary of his entry into this world to serve Sri Aurobindo and the Mother faithfully.
The Mother’s own words are: “He was a good servant of the Divine.” She has revealed that his “natural” life was only 50 years long. The rest of his span of 73 was due to the Divine’s intervention.
Connected with his death is tribute paid him by the Ashram’s employed workers. Along with Padmasini, he had been in charge of the department dealing with them. On hearing that he was to be cremated, they made the plea to the Trustees that they would like him to be buried so that they might be able to visit his grave and offer flowers to it. Hence his body lies in’the Ashram’s cemetery. His nearest neighbour there is Nolini who, before he passed away, expressed his wish to be laid to rest near his old-time friend.
Udar Pinto on K. Amrita:
We joined the Ashram in 1937 and we were then living at the end of Rue Dumas, opposite our present Park Guest house. We knew only a few Ashramites like Amal, Purani, Ambu etc. I did not meet Amrita then. In 1940 the Mother sent us to Delhi to work with the Civil Aviation Department of the Government to help in the war effort. The Mother brought us back in 1941 and we were given a house near the Ashram, opposite the Library, the Red House. She also gave me the work that had to be done for Golconde. Then I really came in contact with Amrita and I liked him at once. He took me to the place where I had to work, a place with only a tiled shed and some crumbling rooms which was called Harpagon. I was intrigued by the name and I asked Amrita why this name had been given to this place. He told me that this place belonged to a Chettiar, whom Amrita knew quite well. He was a very rich man but very greedy for money and he asked for double the going price. Mother wanted this place as it was just next to Golconde, across the street but the Chettiar would not reduce his price at all. Finally the Mother said that She would pay him his price and name it after him, calling it Harpagon. Amrita asked me if I knew this name which I did as it was the name of the Miser in the play by Moliere “L’Avar” which I had read in English many years back. But the great paradox is that the Mother put to work in this place called ‘The Miser’ a man by the name “Udar” given by Sri Aurobindo which means, “Generous”.
The work I had to do there was to make the furniture and the large number of brass fittings for Golconde. There was a good quantity of very good teak wood for the furniture but for the brass things, Amrita gave me, from the Mother a room full of old brass vessels which had to be broken down and melted. (In this, Amrita and I had a good laugh.)
I then asked Amrita why Mother had given the name of Golconde to the building that now has that name. He told me that this building was designed by a great architect, Antonin Raymond, a friend of Pavitra’s, whom he had met in Japan. It was a very fine design but money was a problem to build it. Sir Akbar Hydari, the Diwan of Hyderabad, had a great admiration for Sri Aurobindo and used to come here sometimes. Mother asked him to help get Her the money to build Golconde and it was he who arranged for the Nizem to give the money and so the Mother wanted the building to have a name connected with the Hyderabad State. The round hill which dominates both the twin cities of Hyderabad and Secunderabad is called Golconda. Hence this name was given by the Mother to this building.
Amrita was a very lovable person. He was always in good humour and joked and laughed with us and yet he did his work very well. He was very much loved by all the servants and they were happy to work under his charge. In fact, when he died the servants of the Ashram sent a petition to the Mother pleading that Amrita should not be cremated, as is the custom here with those that die, but that he should be buried. Great Rishis and other great souls are, by tradition buried and not cremated. So, he was buried at our Cazanove Cemetery, where is also buried Satyakarma, Pavitra, Nolini and Dyuman. Besides being a very good worker, he was a very learned person. He was quite a scholar in Sanskrit and in Tamil and he agreed to try and teach both these languages to me. I say he tried because we did not get very far. We would mostly laugh and have jokes and only a little of learning. But they were happy days for me. Amrita had a very precious gift which I envied much. It was the gift of “Repartee”. He would answer or say fine things at once, when this was called for and not like myself and others who would only think of fine things which we could have said but did not, as these words came to us too late. For example, one day when we were doing our class together, I asked Amrita why the letters in Sanskrit are called “Devanagri”, letters of the Gods, and he explained that Sanskrit was not invented by man but by the Gods. It was They who worked out the letters, which are supposed to be among the most perfect in the world, and so it is called the letters of the Gods. Now I knew how much Amrita loved and praised his own mother tongue, Tamil and so I asked him, “What about Tamil?” And he replied, “Oh! The Gods invented Sanskrit for the world to use but among Themselves They spoke in Tamil.” We had such a great laugh but, he said this at once and not as an afterthought.
There are some more examples about his gift of repartee, but this I have come to know of from others and is not first hand; but they are very fine. In the early days of the Ashram the Mother used to meet the Sadhaks and Sadhikas and hold talks with them, or Mother’s Classes as they were called. Of course, Amrita never missed going to these but, due to his work, he was, at times a bit late in arriving and he would try to slip in quietly so as not to be noticed. But the Mother who could see all around Her even when fully involved with Her talks would notice his sly arrival. Once, when the Class was discussing the relation between the Overmind and the Supermind and Amrita had just slipped in, the Mother said: “Ah, here is Amrita; we will ask him about it.” And She called out to him as he was just trying to be unnoticed, “Amrita, what is the relation between Overmind and Supermind?” and Amrita replied at once, waving his hands about. He said, “Veeery good relations, Mere, veeery good relations” and sat down. The whole class, with the Mother, were in roars of laughter.
On another such occasion Amrita showed the depths of his under- standing. Again when he was trying to slip into Mother’s Class the Mother asked him to comment on the subject they were discussing which was “The difference between Art and Yoga” and again Amrita replied: “Art can be Yoga but Yoga is Art.” A truly profound reply.
Well, these are some of the very fine things I remember about this very fine person, Amrita. What was his original name I do not know but the name Amrita, given to him by Sri Aurobindo is very, very apt. He is truly immortal and without death and will live for ever in our minds and hearts and, if our souls have a memory, in our souls also.
agenda of 31st jan 1960…”(A little later, concerning the Saraswati Puja photos that Mother first refused to send to X on the 21st, then decided to send on the 25th, with a kind of imperative ‘cubic certainty’.)
X has replied. He said something like this, which Amrita translated: ‘I have received the photos. It is a…’ I don’t know whether he said ‘illumination’ or ‘flame,’ ‘ascending towards the Truth, leading towards the Truth.’ That’s the impression it gave him: that it was leading somewhere.
That’s good—he received it as I sent it.
But would it really have made a difference to send these photos on the 21st, as Amrita wanted, rather than later?
Ah, yes! (How to explain?…) On the 21st, these photos could still have created a kind of difficulty in X’s consciousness (a semiconscious difficulty) because of all the obstacles, all the contradictions, all that was coming to put up a fight—he is very sensitive to these things and I didn’t want to put him in contact with that realm. Later, though… they had been given a good thump on the head (Mother abruptly bangs down both hands) and were keeping still. Then I said, ‘All right, now you can send them.’
I always avoid putting him in contact with the realm of conflicts and contradictions because he is extremely sensitive and it causes him difficulties. That’s why I said, ‘No, don’t bother.’ Afterwards, it was fine!
agenda of dec13 1960..”Now X is coming, and these days of meditation with him.2 What is going to happen?… By the way, he no longer writes that he’s coming to ‘help the Ashram.’ He wrote to Amrita that he’s coming to have the opportunity (I can’t exactly remember his words)… anyway, to take advantage of his meditations with me so that he can make the necessary transformations!… Quite a changed attitude. I had several visions concerning him which I’ll tell you later.”…
agenda of sept 28th 1966..”And on top of it all, I am broke! Amrita will be coming this afternoon: I can’t give him his money, I don’t have it. I have to pay a certain amount every day: well, as it happens, I am broke. This afternoon, as every Wednesday, I should give 5,000 rupees to this poor Amrita in debt: I haven’t a penny. That’s how it is, it makes things still worse. If at least I could more or less meet the requirements, it would be all right, but that’s not the problem: there are complications arising all over the place! I owe the cashier astronomical amounts, and I can’t pay him…. I am beset by debts on every side—it weighs lightly on me, I don’t lose any sleep over it! But the fact is there.”…
20th june 1961…”No, it’s the old tradition—you step back from Nature and Nature does whatever she wants. It doesn’t concern you, you have no responsibility, ‘you are not that.’ It’s the old idea.
Sri Aurobindo was completely against it. Somewhere he makes fun of a man who said he was the Supreme and that whatever he did, it wasn’t he himself doing it—and then he was angry when his meal was late! But of course it wasn’t him: the stomach-nature was angry!2
It’s one of the most ironic things Sri Aurobindo has written.
I’ve known that and have always taken great care to avoid it, for it opens the door to all deformations. Lele3 was like that—Lele did the same thing: he behaved like a lout; he said it wasn’t himself, it was Nature—he had nothing to do with it. This is all very well, but still there’s a sort of affinity between your physical comportment and what you are inside, isn’t there?!
Sri Aurobindo didn’t accept this tradition at all.
For instance, X is completely caught up in all his family affairs; he said to Amrita, ‘In August the girls will go back home to their husbands, the boy will be at college, and I’ll be able to live tranquilly.’ But there will be something else! There is always something else, naturally!
Anyway, it doesn’t matter—I assure you that for the half-hour he is here with me he is splendid.
Oh, he is splendid! There is such a sweet warmth in him, so good, and a mastery (mastery of inner movements, of the vital movement) and the ability to bring into the physical this peace, this absolute immobility. It’s splendid! I have been doing this for something like forty years and you can’t imagine how difficult it is, how much effort it takes to achieve it! With him it comes all by itself. That’s the tantric mastery.
And to a certain extent it has a healing power (to a certain extent). But it’s not that supramental thing Sri Aurobindo had: he would pass his hand like this (gesture), and the disorder would be gone completely!
I have never seen anyone but Sri Aurobindo do that.
feb26 1964….”I have a feeling that people didn’t understand a thing in the last Bulletin1—they didn’t dare to say anything, but they didn’t understand a thing! Even those who, consciously, are supposed to understand: Nolini, Amrita, Pavitra, André… not to mention all the rest who are not as developed intellectually—understand nothing.
1…sept7 1963-”The other day, for some question of work, I was led to explain my position from the standpoint of the materialist conviction (I don’t know what their position is today, because that’s something I am not concerned with generally), but anyway I was led to do it because of a certain work.1
For them, all the experiences men have are the result of a mental phenomenon: we have reached a progressive mental development (they are at a loss to explain why or how!), anyhow it was Matter that developed Life, Life that developed Mind, and all of men’s so-called spiritual experiences are mental constructions (they use other words, but I believe that’s their idea). It is, at any rate, a denial of all spiritual existence in itself and of a Being or Force or Something superior which governs everything.
As I said, I don’t know what their position is today, what point they have reached, but I was in the presence of a conviction of that type.
Then I said, “But it’s very simple! I accept your point of view, there is nothing other than what we see, than mankind as it is; all the so-called inner phenomena are due to a mental, cerebral action; and when you die, you die—in other words, the phenomenon of agglomeration comes to the end of its existence, and it dissolves, everything dissolves. That’s all very well.”
(Quite likely, had things been that way, I would have found life so disgusting that I would have left it long ago. But I must add right away that it’s not for any moral or even spiritual reason that I disapprove of suicide, it’s because to me it’s an act of cowardice and something in me doesn’t like cowardice, so I did not… I would never have fled from the problem.)
That’s one point.
“But then, once you are here on this earth and you have to go to the end, even if the end is nothingness, you go to the end and it’s just as well to do so as best you can, that is to say, to your fullest satisfaction…. I happened to have some philosophical curiosity and to study all kinds of problems, and I came upon Sri Aurobindo’s teaching, and what he taught” (I would say “revealed,” but not to a materialist) “is by far, among the systems men have formulated, the most satisfying FOR ME, the most complete, and what answers the most satisfactorily all the questions that can be asked; it is the one that helps me the most in life to have the feeling that ‘life is worth living.’ Consequently, I try to conform entirely to his teaching and to live it integrally in order to live as best I can—for me. I don’t mind at all if others don’t believe in it—whether they believe in it or not is all the same to me; I don’t need the support of others’ conviction, it’s enough if I am myself satisfied.”
Well, there’s no reply to that.
The experience lasted a long time—for all details, to all problems, that’s what I answered. And when I came to the end, I said to myself, “But that’s a wonderful argument!” Because all the elements of doubt, ignorance, incomprehension, bad will, negation, with that argument they were all muzzled—annulled, they had no effect.
That work, I think, must have had worldwide repercussions. I was in it, in that state (with the sense of a very great power and a wonderful freedom) for certainly at least six or eight hours. (The work had started long before, but it became rather acutely present these last few days.)
And afterwards, everything was held in a solid grip—what do you have to say?
It’s much easier to answer out-and-out materialists who are convinced and sincere (“sincere” within the limit of their consciousness, that is) than to answer people who have a religion! Much easier.
With Indians, it’s very easy—they’re heaven-blessed, these people, because it takes very little for them to be oriented in the right way.2 But there are two types of difficult religion, the Christian religion (especially in the form of Protestantism), and the Jewish religion.
The Jews are also out-and-out materialists: you die, well, you die, it’s over. Though I haven’t quite understood how they reconcile that with their God, who moreover is Unthinkable and must not be named… but who, seen from the standpoint of a vaster truth, seems (I am not sure), seems to be an Asura. Because it’s an almighty and UNIQUE God, foreign to the world—the world (as far as I know) and he are two completely different things.”
9th march 1963…”It was the same thing when I made that overmental formation (we were heading for miracles!). One day Sri Aurobindo told me I had brought down into Amrita a force of the creative Brahma (it’s the creative Word, the Word that realizes itself automatically). And I don’t know what happened… something, I can’t recall what, that showed me it was working very well. Then a sort of idea occurred to me: “Why, we could try this power on mosquitoes: let mosquitoes cease to exist! What would happen?” (We were pestered by mosquitoes at the time.) Before doing it (the meditation was over, it would have been for the next time), I said to Sri Aurobindo, “Well, what if we tried with that force which responds; if we said, ‘Let mosquitoes cease to exist,’ we could at least get rid of them within a certain field of action, a certain field of influence, couldn’t we?” So he looked at me (with a smile), kept silent, and, after a moment, turned to me and said, You are in full Overmind. That is not the Truth we want to manifest…. I told you the story. It was on that occasion.
We could have done things of that sort.
He told me (Mother speaks with an ironic tone), “Oh, you can certainly perform miracles! People will be wonderstruck.”
CWSA to Motilal Roy…Jan 2. 1920
I write today only for your question about Manindranath and the other. We have been imprisoned in an inferno of rain for the last few days and I have only just been able to get a reliable answer. They have only to get a sauf-conduit from the Chandernagore Administrator and then, as they are called here by the French Government for government work, nobody can interfere with their going and coming. This is what I am told and it ought obviously to be so. How are your people going to vote? Martineau and Flandin are the two candidates at present and Martineau is impossible.
I note with some amusement the Secretary’s letter to Bejoy Chatterji. The logic of the Bengal Government’s attitude is a little difficult to follow. However, I suppose the King’s proclamation will make some difference, but I fancy the Govt of India is the chief obstacle in these matters and they will perhaps try to limit the scope of this qualified amnesty. Still I hope that the restrictions on your own movements will be removed before long. We have received a postcard from Bejoy notifying to the “Arya” a change of address which shows that after five long years he has been released from his quite causeless imprisonment, but he is now interned in or near Ramnagar in Birbhum. As for me, I do not see, if Lajpatrai is coming to India, how they can object to my going to Bengal. But, allowed or not allowed, I have not the least intention of doing that at present or for another year at the earliest. When I do go, this or that circumstance will make no difference. Mr.. Gandhi, like the man in Macedonia with St Paul, sent me a message to “come over and help”, but I had to say that I was not ready to join in the old politics and had no new programme formed for a more spiritual line of work, and it would be no use my going out till I saw my way.
As to the Standard-bearer, I cannot write now, as it would take too long and delay this letter. I shall write afterwards or send word. Your insured packet reached us yesterday. The increase comes in a good moment, as with Saurin in Bengal the Aryan Stores is simply marking time and the Arya is in a new economic phase which means for the moment some diminution of income.
[Postscript in another hand:]
In a few days you will be getting 50 copies of “War & S. D.”
Dear Anurag . A quick thought to share with you and the readers –.– .if one has enough patience to read through with adoring interest all the precious contents figuring herein I feel one could kindle one’s inner psychic fire ..as it is all drenched with love and devotion with the Supreme Mother as the central Figure .. what do you and the readers think ?
Surendra – saice ‘ 69 ..
Who will reject to quaff nectar? Especially when it is gathered with so much care and given in a golden cup?
It has been a remembrance of inspiration. Prema
thank you ma’am , value your opinion highest among our readers, am grateful to you and dad for giving us a lifetime of historical and biographical research and the only biography with the Lord’s permission along with Puraniji and Gabriel Monod Herzon in french
Thank you for such beautiful recollections, extremely thirst quenching.
In Their Light and Love Sohag Patel
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