Born as Bernard Enginger on 30 October 1923, Satprem was a member of the French Resistance during the Second World War and was arrested by the Gestapo in 1943. He was released after spending one and a half years in German concentration camp. He visited Pondicherry for the first time in 1946 and came to know of Sri Aurobindo, the Mother and Their evolutionary yoga. After travelling to French Guiana, Brazil and Africa, he settled in the Sri Aurobindo Ashram at the age of thirty in 1953 and earned the new name of ‘Satprem’ from the Mother in 1957. He went on to become one of Her most trusted confidants. In 1978 he was expelled from Sri Aurobindo Ashram after which he—along with his collaborator, Sujata Nahar—settled in a little known place in South India and devoted his time to the publication of Mother’s Agenda in thirteen volumes and his other books like Sri Aurobindo or The Adventure of Consciousness, By the Body of the Earth or the Sannyasi, The Great Sense: Sri Aurobindo and the Future of the Earth, On the Way to Supermanhood, Mother or The Divine Materialism, Mother or The New Species, Mother or The Mutation of Death (these three books form a trilogy on the Mother), The Mind of the Cells, The Revolt of the Earth, Evolution II, The Tragedy of the Earth—From Sophocles to Sri Aurobindo, Neanderthal Looks On, The Philosophy of Love, The Veda and Human Destiny and Notebooks of an Apocalypse (in multiple volumes). A charismatic figure who had considerable influence on the seekers of the Path, he played a pivotal role in introducing innumerable people to the works and philosophy of Sri Aurobindo and the Mother and his books inspired many seekers to take up the stupendous task of physical transformation begun by Them. He left his physical body on 9th April, 2007.
The Mother’s Agenda, consisting of six thousand pages and published in thirteen volumes, is the account of the Mother’s exploration in the body consciousness and of her discovery of a “cellular mind” capable of refashioning the nature of our bodies and the laws of the species as drastically as, one day, an infant “thinking mind” transformed the nature of the ape. It is a veritable document of experimental evolution and speaks of a revolution in consciousness that alters the laws of the species. Like a scientist working in his laboratory, the Mother goes back to the origin of the formation of Matter, to the primordial code, and where, “by chance,” She stumbles upon the mechanism of death — upon the very power that changes death — and upon a “new” Energy, which curiously parallels subatomic physics. In other words, the key to Matter contains the key to death as well as the key to the next species.
Although The Mother’s Agenda has led many people to Sri Aurobindo and the Mother, it is not free from controversies. We present before the readers certain views of Nirodbaran, Amal Kiran alias K.D. Sethna and Udar Pinto (three prominent disciples of Sri Aurobindo and the Mother) on the Agenda which had appeared in print in the early 1980s.
With warm regards,
Nirodbaran’s Rejoinder to a Footnote of Satprem’s in the Agenda Vol. XI
My attention was drawn by a disciple to a talk of the Mother on 9 September 1970, in the Agenda (Vol. XI), about Sri Aurobindo’s physical suffering during his last illness, and to the Editor Satprem’s footnote apropos of that talk. I could make out the meaning of the Mother’s talk: it was quite straightforward as was always the case with whatever she said or wrote. The footnote, on the other hand, was not so, and therefore threw me into a great confusion and caused much pain. It seemed to carry for me a double meaning. Here is the relevant portion (p. 334) of the Mother’s talk and the footnote connected with it:
“J’ai eu (et ça, c’était effrayant) j’ai eu la conscience de tout ce qu’il a souffert physiquement. Et ça, ça a été l’une des choses les plus… (Mère a la voix couverte de larmes) les plus difficiles á supporter. Comme si… physiquement… Et nos inconsciences physiques á côté de ça et l’espèce de TORTURE physique qu’il a subie. Ça a été l’une des choses les plus difficiles, les plus difficiles.
“La torture qu’il a supportée et que nous traitions si légèrement comme si… s’il ne sentait rien. Ça, ça a été l’une des choses les plus effrayantes.”
Satprem’s footnote to the phrase containing the word “TORTURE” runs thus:
“‘Nous insistions sur des remèdes dangereux…’ avoue l’un des médecins qui soignait Sri Aurobindo (Nirodbaran, I am here). Sri Aurobindo refusait—une fois. Mère refusait. Puis ils n’ont plus rien dit. ‘Il savait, note l’un des médecins, que [ces remèdes] ne seraient d’aucune utilité et il les rejetait catégoriquement, mais comme nous n’avions pas la compréhension et que nous n’étions pas capables de juger de la valeur des mots lorsqu’ils sont prononcés d’un ton habituel, nous insistions sur des remèdes dangereux en lesquels nous avions foi et confiance.’ Ibid., p. 20. Notons que le meme phénomène se reproduira avec Mère.”
The English translation of the Mother’s talk:
“I was conscious (and it was frightful) of all that he physically suffered. And it was one of the most difficult things to bear. (The Mother’s voice was choked with pain)… As if… physically… And our physical unconsciousness beside it and the kind of physical TORTURE he went through. It was one of the most difficult things, most difficult.
“The torture which he bore and we took so lightly as if he felt nothing. It was one of the most frightful things.”
Satprem’s footnote in English:
“We insisted on dangerous remedies…’ admits one of the doctors who attended upon Sri Aurobindo. (Nirodbaran, I am here). Sri Aurobindo refused—once. Mother refused. Then they said nothing farther. ‘He knew’, notes one of the doctors, ‘that [these remedies] would be of no avail and he emphatically ruled them out, but as we had not the insight nor the proper appraisement of the value of the words when they are clothed in the common language we are habituated to use, we insisted on the dangerous remedies in which we had faith and confidence.’ Let us note that the same phenomenon will be repeated in the case of the Mother.’
Satprem, quoting a passage from my booklet, “I am here, I am here”, has linked it with the word “torture”, which he has put it capital letters, in the Mother’s talk. At the end he says that the Mother was dealt with exactly as Sri Aurobindo had been. My confusion and pain arise from the fact that he appears to imply that we gave dangerous remedies, thus causing torture to Sri Aurobindo’s body against his consent. He mentions that Sri Aurobindo refused, the Mother did the same and then they said nothing farther. The last phrase would mean that without their permission or taking it for granted we applied the remedies. But in my booklet I have very clearly stated that only with their explicit consent we started the treatment. Why has Satprem left out this important part from the quotation? He has surely read my Twelve Years with Sri Aurobindo and Dr. Sanyal’s A Call from Pondicherry where both of us have given a precise detailed picture of the case and our agonizing predicament. Satprem’s final sentence, which drags the Mother’s illness into the picture, leaves me in no doubt that there is a hostile insinuation throughout. I have been confirmed in my impression by more than one source. At any rate, I fear that many readers are likely to be misled. Therefore I feel called to write this article in order to remove whatever misunderstanding may be created by the statement.
I remember how a similar written allegation was made against the doctors by a sadhak soon after Sri Aurobindo’s passing. When I referred to it to the Mother, she said, “Why don’t you write something?” And I wrote the booklet, “I am here, I am here.” It is true that I have used the word “torture” there, having been then in an emotional state of mind and strongly influenced by my knowledge of the great sensitivity of Sri Aurobindo’s body where even a mosquito-bite would cause a red swelling. But all that was done had the Mother’s and the Master’s consent.
Another point: when the Mother speaks of the “physical torture” that Sri Aurobindo underwent, does she at all mean that it was the doctors who inflicted it? Satprem’s linking his footnote with that word suggests this to us. But she cannot mean it. For it is not only we who saw the physical torture which Sri Aurobindo suffered and which had nothing to do with the doctors: the Mother herself saw it. On the other hand, Satprem never saw it. Sri Aurobindo’s suffering was indeed intolerable. It surely forms part of the Mother’s statement about him, his work and his achievement, which is engraved on the side of the Samadhi. The statement includes the words: “Thou who hast suffered all…”
Let me more reluctantly recall the painful episodes to which we were witness and give again a brief account of them. Sri Aurobindo had two periods of acute distress. One was when the urine stopped. It made me run at midnight to Dr. Satyabrata Sen. The other time was when Sri Aurobindo was suffering from acute breathing difficulty so much so that he asked me twice, “Nirod, do something.” In the first case, the obstruction of the urine was relieved by a catheter and, in the second, Sri Aurobindo withdrew himself into the inner consciousness and thereby obtained temporary relief from the suffocating respiration; but as soon as he would come to the surface it would show itself with all its acute symptoms. However, when he moved from the bed to the sofa, before he called for the commode, we were astonished to see that he was breathing in a normal way and it gave us no small measure of joy. For we thought that a miracle had happened, and hoped for further miracles. But alas, if was only a short respite and as soon as he came back to the bed the breathing distress renewed itself. He then plunged within and remained so most of the time till he passed away.
In the last days Dr. Sanyal arrived and saw that the condition was taking a serious turn. It was then that he proposed to use medical remedies with complete sanction from the Mother and Sri Aurobindo. And what we did was the utter minimum that was necessary.
Even if the medical resort be considered torturous, could anyone, seeing the suffering before his very eyes, humanly remain passive and abstain from any action to give prolonged relief by temporary discomfort?
About the phrase, “the same phenomenon will be repeated in the case of the Mother”, I take it to mean that the Mother was also subjected to torture by the doctors. I inquired from one of the closest attendants of the Mother how far she had been given painful treatment. Strongly refuting any allegation of torture, he said that there were two periods of gravity in her illness. In the first one, Dr. Sanyal was treating her with oral medicines, but when there was no improvement Dr. Bist was called in and a great change was the result of what he gave her by mouth. In the second period there was no question of the application of medicines at all.
This is my answer by way of exonerating ourselves from any charges implied in Satprem’s statement.
Incidentally, going through the Agenda volumes is like entering into a domain of sudden unpleasant surprises whenever the Editor intrudes. One cannot but be pained to notice many indiscretions and inaccuracies committed by his bringing in his own judgments and prejudices and dislikes which have no place in a book of the Mother’s talks. I shall not give the full list. I shall confine myself to a few instances which appeared to me as a flagrant breach of confidence and, above all, a deliberate disobedience which is an unpardonable action on the part of a disciple.
First of all, the Mother asked him not to publish some talks, but he has done it, giving at one place the reason, “we considered it right…” Can a disciple justify himself in this manner? Could it be alleged that, because the Mother was no longer in her body, matter forbidden by her can be published? Let me cite a personal example to indicate the sanctity of the words of the Guru. Sri Aurobindo gave me a long reply on politics to refute some charges levelled against his political leadership. The reply was extremely illuminating, but he wrote: “Subject Politics. Taboo. Extremely confidential.” After his passing I asked the Mother if the letter could come out. She replied, “How can it when Sri Aurobindo has said it is confidential?” There was the end of it.
Secondly, the Mother has talked freely to Satprem about people, countries, nations, institutions, politics, etc., which any sensible person would regard as said in confidence. To others also she has expressed certain views which were unmistakably meant to be kept private as well as to be understood only in a particular context.
Thirdly, the footnotes carry biased snap-judgments without any assessable evidence.
I cannot really understand what was the motive that impelled Satprem to make unwarranted disclosures. When in all her work the Mother’s insistence all the while was on harmony among ourselves and among nations, will they not tarnish her image in the eyes of the public? Will they not produce more mutual bitterness, discord, misunderstanding and thereby hamper and delay the purpose her Agenda would be meant to serve? We must understand that between our criticism of persons and the Mother’s there is a vast difference. Her consciousness is far higher than ours. Even when she criticizes, she works for our well-being and subtly moves to make us less criticsable. “When Durga kills, she kills with compassion and for the soul’s good,” says the Shastra. Are not all of us her avowedly beloved children for the advancement of whose souls she worked?
Lastly, one most deplorable indiscretion is the publication of the Mother’s talk about one C in her relation with Sri Aurobindo. The Mother pointedly told Satprem that it was private and to be kept aside. Yet he publishes it saying that it was a long talk and that he was giving just a summary of it! The summary is incriminating enough and does not exonerate him in the least from the gravity of his disobedience.
I am certain that the Mother would have strongly disapproved of the disclosures and the disciple’s gratuitous remarks. Our long association with her and with Sri Aurobindo allows me to make this assertion.
From these and other instances not mentioned here, we can now see why the Trustees wanted Nolini (the Mother’s secretary) and André (the Mother’s son) to go through the talks before they would be printed, and I know on good authority that the Mother herself also wanted things to be done that way.
In one place in the Agenda the intention of the Trustees is grossly misconstrued. There is a reference to a good number of pages torn out of Pavitra’s diary before its publication. The comment is to the effect that the Agenda would have been similarly treated in several places if it had been in the hands of the Trustees. If the Editors of Pavitra’s diary have excluded certain portions it could be only because of two reasons. One is that they contained some matter too personal to Pavitra himself to be laid before the public—matter which he, a reticent and sensitive soul, would certainly have liked to withhold. The other reason could be that Sri Aurobindo and the Mother had expressly forbidden divulgement of the contents or else, without openly banning publication, had counted on Pavitra’s knowledge of his Guru’s standing wishes for non-disclosure of the material concerned.
The Trustees can surely be taken to have a sense of the preciousness of whatever Sri Aurobindo and the Mother meant for the spiritual and material good of the disciples. If they had not possessed this sense, the Mother would have never appointed them Trustees. To impute to them a conspiracy to censor or suppress their Guru’s truth is to be completely carried away by personal animosity.
As things are, how does one know that nothing has been censored or suppressed in order to suit the present Editor?
One cannot help regretting that irresponsibility and private grudges have smirched so illuminating a document as the Agenda which the Mother had intended—as we know from more than one source—to be handled with reverence and obedience by those whom she considered her children.
Udar Pinto’s Comment Apropos of Nirodbaran’s Rejoinder
I must congratulate Nirodbaran on his article… He has written with strength and dignity and well expressed the pain he feels at the way things have been misrepresented by the editor of the Mother’s Agenda. He has also clearly shown how a lot of material which, as we know quite well, the Mother would never have permitted to be published and even some which was expressly forbidden by Her has been broadcast with arrogance and a complete indifference to Her wishes. I should like here to go a little further in the subject than Nirodbaran.
I may draw attention to a fact which is not generally known. The first copy of the transcript of the Mother’s tape-recorded talks used to be kept in safe custody in Her own room and, pointing to the place where it was, She gave instructions to some veteran disciples not to let anything be published without careful scrutiny as to what was suitable or not for publication. This copy disappeared from the Mother’s room and what was meant to belong to the Ashram Trustees is no longer there.
The Ashram Trustees have unanimously and distinctly written to the editor of the Agenda that all the words of Sri Aurobindo and the Mother are the sole copyright of the Sri Aurobindo Ashram Trust formed by the Mother Herself and so he has no right to publish the Agenda without permission from the Trust. He has ignored this declaration, as he knows that the Ashram will not, of itself, initiate legal proceedings. But curiously, when the Journal of Sri Aurobindo’s Action started to publish certain chosen extracts from the Agenda in English translation, he is known to have consulted legal opinion on proceeding against it for copyright infringement. I really hoped that such proceedings would be started, as then we would defend ourselves and expose the whole racket. But, unfortunately, no action was taken: he seems to have been advised not to proceed.
One may wonder with what face the present editor could have proceeded against Sri Aurobindo’s Action. The Agenda which he is publishing contains an amount of material which originally appeared with the Mother’s sanction in the Ashram Bulletin of the International Centre of Education, with copyright vested in its editor and publisher, Nolini Kanta Gupta, and subsequently it was brought out in copyrighted book-form. Without reference to the copyright-holder and without any permission being taken, it is impudently appropriated and set before the public again.
I shall now give an extract from the introduction to the Agenda, Vol. I (1951-60), which will show the editor’s hostility towards the Sri Aurobindo Ashram and its members and his arrogance as well as his ugly intentions. Here are his words, translated officially by his own people into English. I have only italicized some phrases to better focus the reader’s mind on the drift of the extract:
‘This mystery we call Mother, for She never ceased being a mystery right to her ninety-fifth year, and to this day still challenges us from the other side of a wall of invisibility and keeps us floundering fully in the mystery—with a smile. She always smiles. But the mystery is not solved.
‘Perhaps this AGENDA is really an endeavor to solve the mystery in the company of a certain number of fraternal iconoclasts.
‘Where, then, was “The Mother of the Ashram” in all this? What is even “the Ashram”, if not a spiritual museum of the resistance to Something Else. They were always—and are still today—reciting their catechism beneath a little flag: they are the owners of the new truth. But the new truth is laughing in their faces and leaving them high and dry at the edge of their little stagnant pond. They are under the illusion that Mother and Sri Aurobindo, twenty-seven or four years after their respective departures, could keep on repeating themselves—but then they would not be Mother and Sri Aurobindo! They would be fossils. The truth is always on the move. It is with those who dare, who have courage, and above all the courage to shatter all effigies, to demystify, and to go TRULY to the conquest of the new.’
From this extract one can judge for oneself the intentions of the editor of the Agenda without much explanation from me. I have only a few things to point out. What is the “little flag” that he ridicules? It is the flag of the Mother over Golconde that the Mother said should always be kept flying. Now it becomes a subject for fun by this person. Then, who are the “fraternal iconoclasts” and what are the “effigies” that they will “shatter”? The most important effigy, in the sense of a memorial image, we have at the Ashram is the Samadhi of Sri Aurobindo and the Mother. Does that company of “fraternal iconoclasts” propose to break it up? Are some of them planning this? Are they already installed in the Ashram as a fifth column?
Amal Kiran’s Statements Apropos of Udar’s Comment
A Letter to a Friendly Critic
I am sorry Udar’s article in Mother India has proved so offensive to you. I know it hits hard at places but it does not seem to me more offensive than the extract Udar has quoted from the Introduction to Vol. I of the Agenda. Perhaps your reaction is really to what he has said in reply to that extract? As you have singled out this reply, let me first say something about it.
Obviously it is subjective in most part but the provocation is to be understood before one judges it. It is very likely that the “flag” Satprem has mentioned in a derogatory way is metaphorical, but surely he must know that this metaphor happens to answer to a very concrete and significant reality in the Ashram. Possibly you are unaware of the circumstances associated with the Mother’s flag. On the Independence Day in 1947, the Mother had her flag hoisted over the building where Sri Aurobindo and she were staying. She said it would fly for 3 days, including August 15. There was an anti-Ashram riot and in it a sadhak was murdered, the sadhak who used to massage Sri Aurobindo’s right leg every day. There was even a threat given that the hostile elements would climb up the building and pull the flag down. The Mother refused to take it off until her 3 days would be over. Udar was prominently involved, by the Mother’s own orders, in organizing the Ashram defence. I was on a visit to the Ashram from Bombay on this occasion. The Mother’s flag was the centre of the whole conflict. At that time Golconde too was in great danger of attack: the Mother’s flag was flying there also. It still flies and is meant never to be taken down. You should be able to imagine Udar’s feelings about it. Besides, doesn’t the Mother attach to it in the Agenda itself a great symbolic importance?
You consider as “nonsense” Udar’s suggestion that there may be a fifth column in the Ashram planning to break up the Samadhi. I do not know anything about breaking up the Samadhi. A friend abroad has been asking that the Samadhi be opened so that one may know whether the Mother’s body is really lifeless or is a radiant living presence in spite of the decomposition which was going on while it was lying in state. What put the idea of a plan to break up the Samadhi into Udar’s mind was Satprem’s reference to “fraternal iconoclasts” who would have “the courage to shatter all effigies”. We may think Udar jumped to a wrong conclusion by taking Satprem’s menacing words literally. But I am surprised at your implied disbelief in “a fifth column” in the Ashram. The description could well cover certain numbers. They want the present Trustees—who were appointed by the Mother—to be thrown out and themselves or their supporters installed in their place. They would be very happy if they could persuade—after Nolini has departed—the Government to take over the Ashram in their interests. They do not disapprove of Satprem’s hostility to the Ashram.
Before I published Udar’s article I sent for all the relevant documents—the Trustees’ letter to Satprem and the letter sent to him by the Mother’s son André telling him that the Mother had explicitly asked André to edit the Agenda. Evidently she had confidence in André and not in Satprem. This point brings me to your theme—broached in good faith, I am sure—of people looking at the negative instead of the positive side of Satprem’s work. The basic negative side is that he has not attended to the Mother’s wish that André should read and judge things. To avoid this wish from being carried out he managed to take charge of the typed copy of the Agenda which used to be kept in the Mother’s room and towards which she had pointed when giving André her instructions. When the basis is an absolute falsehood, what you call the positive side is bound to be a specious splendour.
No doubt, the Mother’s talks are very illuminating—the Agenda in itself (minus the parts the Mother would never have published) is a divine gift to the world, but we cannot forget the ambitious and unfaithful hands that are offering it to us—not only with those parts included but also with malicious and misguiding footnotes. While benefiting as much as we can from the Mother’s wealth of wisdom we must not let ourselves be over-impressed and carried away by the labour which Satprem has spent on it and which you in your innocence want us to profoundly appreciate. Have we not always to look first at the sort of force at work behind a project? Constructive energy on a large scale lay behind both Hitlerism and Stalinism, but even though we may learn something from it we cannot get lost in admiration of it. Of course, Satprem is neither a Hitler nor a Stalin, yet a clear tinge of the totalitarian in him is evident from the intolerant, exclusivist, single-type mentality he has fixed in the group which follows him.
I have observed that people who are not steeped in Sri Aurobindo and the Mother turn against the Ashram on reading the Agenda. Even an old-time Swiss sadhika stopped coming to the Ashram for years because of the propagandist spirit which has moulded the Agenda. A friend of mine in Holland was also affected with anti-Ashramism by it. I who knew his warm and sincere heart wrote him a clarifying letter and he began to see differently. Apart from this there is the question: “What picture does it present of the Mother?” The Mother, complimentary or critical, spoke from a divine consciousness—and her personal comments were never meant to be carved in “monumental alabaster” for all time. They were made for a purpose and she could say the very opposite the next minute. Even people in the Ashram don’t always realize this but people outside who have no feel of the divine consciousness in the Mother are liable to be completely misguided both as to her aim and as to the level of being from which she spoke. While getting a bad opinion of those whom at a particular moment she has criticized they are likely also to see her as a repeatedly grumbling back-biter as well as a sower of discord between people and countries.
Then there is the question of fairness in the editor. On the strength of some tapes and letters, I have been assured of subtle manipulation and even of certain talks cut out because they were complimentary to a person who has fallen from grace in Satprem’s eyes. The spirit behind the Agenda is very far from being admirable. That is why Nolini refuses to encourage it and not just because Satprem has not let the Trustees have a hand in it.
It is not my intention to show Satprem as all black. I knew him very well for years, I have known his difficulties and his good points and I am sure the Mother has given him some genuine spiritual experiences. But I am afraid they have gone to his head and have failed to touch with refining fire the outer being, the lower part of him to which the Mother’s reference can be traced in the Agenda itself. And the Agenda has been turned by him into a powerful means of self-aggrandisement and self-advertisement: he uses it to make himself out to be the one and only apostle of the Mother.
Have you seen the folder he or someone inspired by him has prepared to go with the two English volumes of the Agenda? It smacks of sensational journalism and tries to focus the limelight on him and to present the Mother not as she was—a real Divine Mother working for the good of her children with deepest love and understanding—but as a kind of super-occultist bent only on one object with the help of her single confidant. Do you know that in a recent interview Satprem has allowed the impression to be made that the sole Yoga of the Mother and Sri Aurobindo and himself is to change the “programming” of the cells and reveal the Supermind in them by a certain inner process? Except for an endeavour to silence the intellect, the vital being and the physical mind, no sadhana is required. It is as if the numberless spiritual experiences which lay behind the final stage of the Mother’s sadhana for the world were of no importance and could be bypassed. What Sri Aurobindo called “the one thing needful”… is completely ignored in the new Gospel á la Satprem. To bring out the inmost Psychic Being, the true Soul, to experience the In-dwelling Deity and the immutable Self of selves and the Cosmic Consciousness, to realize the Transcendent Divine, to be filled with the Supreme Peace and Wideness and Illumination and Compassion and Dynamism—all these sine qua nons of the Supramental Yoga are never mentioned.
Do you believe it is possible to transform the cells of the body without a long process of psychic and spiritual Yoga? The Life Divine, The Synthesis, Savitri and Letters seem to have become superfluous just because the Mother towards the last part of her life was concentrating on supramentalising the cellular consciousness. Could she have hoped to succeed if she had not had behind her a plenary life of Yoga answering to all that is said in those books? What Satprem is preaching to his admirers is a mutilation of Sri Aurobindo and the Mother—a path that cannot lead the aspiring soul of the West anywhere near the “Divine Materialism” (to adopt a fine phrase of his own) at which the Mother was at work for the last 15 years of her stay on earth—without, of course, stopping to help us all the time towards the realizations which she herself had compassed and which alone can prepare us for the culminating Cellular Sadhana.
17 December 1981
I have spoken of Satprem’s aim of self-aggrandisement and self-advertisement by means of the Mother’s Agenda. A note has come to me from an independent party—a keen-eyed disciple—drawing attention to a few points which acutely illustrate this very aim:
‘Perhaps the most ludicrous of the wild claims made throughout the Agenda, and in televised and published interviews given by Satprem, is in Vol. 13, p. 319—it would be in keeping with the psychological theorem that “If a lie is big enough, repeated often enough, it will come to convince the most unbelieving”.
‘Satprem twists the Mother’s remark that her body must have the conviction that “it is useful for something” into meaning that the single conceivable usefulness of the Mother’s body was not her unparalleled endeavour to supramentalise the corporeal consciousness but rather its usefulness consisted of the support and succor she afforded to her one and only true disciple, and to deprive her of physical meetings with him meant death.
‘Footnote assertion, p. 319:
‘“When Mother’s door was closed to us [the editorial ‘we’ he uses throughout] she was being condemned to death. This is the simple truth. But nobody, not a single person, understood or wanted to understand. No-one. Of what were their [her jailors’] hearts made?”
The facts are that André, the Mother’s son, who visited her every evening all through her self-imposed seclusion—except for the first few weeks—would have been entirely co-operative in summoning Satprem or anyone else she might ask to see, and so would her doctor and attendants, but she summoned no-one. The picture which Satprem paints of a woman encircled by malevolent and omnipotent conspirators, while Sri Aurobindo stood idly by and heeded not her abject helplessness in their hands, has been actually accepted by a considerable number of otherwise sane individuals in Auroville and abroad.
Perhaps the saddest part of the frequent misleading twists and the contrary-to-fact assertions rampant in the Agenda is their effect of denigrating the Mother’s stature in the juggler’s attempt to glorify his own. One thinks in particular of the heart-rending episode of the Mother’s suffering in 1970 (Vol. 10, September) when a small intimate detail is bared which was spoken in deepest confidence at the moment of a desperate plight, the Mother never dreaming Satprem would put it on a loud-speaker to the world to enhance his own glory while exploiting a moment’s weakness of the Mother at a time of unspeakable stress.
All the falsifications committed in the Agenda, both deliberate and/or unwittingly, diminishing and exploiting the Mother will one day fall away and the incalculable value of her experiments and experiences will be available, stripped of the dross of an errant disciple.
The greatest of falsifications is at the end of the 13th volume where the all-but-shouted drift is that the Mother was driven to her death by the Ashramites she had appointed to look after her. It is true that before her retirement she spoke more than once of some expedient she might employ of forcing the issue of physical transformation which did not seem to get solved in a normal progressive manner. She spoke of the possibility of entering into a cataleptic trance and warned against mistaking it for death. But side by side with this possibility she hinted that, if the body failed to endure and hold out, a new attempt in the future would have to be made. What she might actually do in the present life was never precisely announced. A general clue as to whether she would be in a cataleptic trance or had left the body Would be the fact of decomposition. She let it be understood that, unless decomposition started, the body was not to be put in the Samadhi-vault. Of course, departure from the body would be contingent on her receiving from her own Supreme Self the word that the venture to transform the body would not succeed in this birth. She had said about her body’s future: “(…as if the world put the question) Will it continue or will it get dissolved?… But the body knows that it has been decided, and that it is not to be told to the body. It accepts, it is not impatient, it accepts, it accepts, it says, ‘It is all right, it is as Thou wilt’…” [Bulletin of Sri Aurobindo International Centre of Education, April 1969, p. 87.]
What exactly happened on the evening of November 17, 1973? There were unmistakable symptoms of physical distress. The respiration was acutely in trouble. There was no entering into any kind of trance. A life-crisis was evident. And the upshot was as if the Mother had come to know that the work would not be completed and that no point remained in continuing in a body which was suffering intensely under the pressure of the first experiment in supra-mentalising flesh and blood and bone.
There was not the slightest doubt that the Mother had left her body. The proof of it came soon enough. Small spots of decomposition appeared after a day or so — and then the process increased its speed until the doctors came to the conclusion that the time had arrived for placing the holy and heroic body in the Samadhi.
It is high time a halt was called to the anti-Ashram propaganda whose agitated centre is Satprem — propaganda which can also be termed anti-Mother in the sense that it goes not only against her principal field of work but also against the spirit of Truth, the Truth-Consciousness, which she represented on earth.