On 15 August 1973, the Mother—who was not keeping good health since May 1973—gave Her last darshan to Her devotees and followers from the terrace situated at the second floor of the Ashram main building. Three months later She left Her physical body on 17 November 1973.
15 August 1973 marked the 101st Birth Anniversary of Sri Aurobindo. Dr. K. R. Srinivasa Iyengar writes about the Darshan of 15 August 1973:
‘The morning collective meditation around the Samadhi and the pilgrimage to Sri Aurobindo’s Room conditioned the mind to a mood of heightened receptivity and prepared the soul for the Grace of the Darshan. After lunch—and even before—people started taking vantage positions on the pavements and, presently—as the hours passed—on the streets, the windows and terraces commanding a view of the Terrace where the Mother was to appear in the evening. Many had their cameras and binoculars, and some had their baggage with them. There was a cripple in a wheel chair; there were also the old and the infirm. As the seconds sped on, the sun was on the decline, and at 6 there was a sharp shower as if to cool the atmosphere. But nobody shifted his position, and the shower too came to an end. People watched and waited, and some… marvelled at the mystery of the ineffable Divine enacting a recognisable redeemer-role.
‘When She appeared at last above the human sea, she was like the brief nectarean dawn. Although She had needed help to come, She now held on to the railing and walked slowly, surveying with her arching magnificent glance the surging mass of humanity below. Like a bubble on the brim of a cup, a faint smile lingered on Her face, and the stilled human sea of forms and faces received that downpour of Grace. “With the appearance of the Mother,” a member of the vast congregation later recalled, “there came an inscrutable peace, and all seemed to be gripped by an unknown power. There reigned an absolute silence. The silence was so intense that one could never imagine 8000 people were packed together on the road.” And he added:
“How momentous was that instant when we stood before the blazing gaze of the Mother’s eyes! One look and we felt twice blessed. That timeless instant can never be forgotten. Many felt it was on them in particular that the gracious look was cast.”’ (On the Mother, pp. 818-819)
Pranab Kumar Bhattacharya, the Mother’s attendant and Director of the Department of Physical Education of the Ashram, recalls:
‘… during that period, the Mother used to remain most of the time in trance. She wasn’t in Her body. We weren’t sure if the darshan would take place that day. When She returned for a while to Her physical consciousness, I asked Her: Mother, will You give darshan?
‘The Mother answered: “Yes.”
‘That was at eight in the morning. I informed everybody that the Mother would give darshan.
‘The Mother was in the habit of getting ready well ahead of time for any engagement. It was about half past one then. She asked me: “Is the darshan over?” “No, Mother,” I answered, “there is plenty of time. Take some rest until then. I’ll call you when it is time.”
‘The Mother was in trance then. At darshan-time I accompanied the Mother and helped Her to reach the railing. She gave Her darshan. Then She asked:
‘“Is the darshan over?”
‘“Yes, Mother”, I answered.
‘And once again I held Her and slowly brought Her back to Her bed. The Mother was elsewhere. In total trance. Her eyes were always closed and She remained indrawn.’ (By the Way, Part II, p. 48)
Dr. Nirodbaran Talukdar—who was Sri Aurobindo’s scribe and attendant—also recalls:
‘The months rolled on and the August Darshan was at hand. Speculations were rife as to whether there would be any Darshan at all. But the Mother did appear at the Balcony and we were deeply stricken by what we saw. Instead of elation, a profound sorrow and anguish seized our hearts. It was a sheer act of grace on her part to give us her darshan, which proved to be the last. The condition began to deteriorate from that day.’ (Memorable Contacts with the Mother, p. 164)
Many thought that no photographs of the Mother’s last Darshan exist. But thanks to Ms. Tara Jauhar of Sri Aurobindo Ashram Delhi Branch, we have obtained thirteen photographs of the Mother’s last Terrace Darshan which have been published in the website of Overman Foundation. We are indeed extremely grateful to Ms. Tara Jauhar for these rare photographs.
With warm regards,