On Saturday, 26 January 2019, Overman Foundation had inaugurated its wing — a house of memorabilia, entitled the Sri Aurobindo Smriti Mandir — with over two hundred objects used and touched by Sri Aurobindo and the Mother. These objects were gifted to Anurag Banerjee, the Founder of Overman Foundation, by various members of Sri Aurobindo Ashram, Pondicherry. 26 January 2023 marks the fourth anniversary of Sri Aurobindo Smriti Mandir which presently houses more than a thousand objects used by Sri Aurobindo and the Mother while some are gifts given by the Mother to various individuals who had preserved them with great care and later gifted them to Anurag Banerjee.
On the occasion of the fourth anniversary of Sri Aurobindo Smriti Mandir, we are happy to share with you a brief article on this house of memorabilia authored by Shri Goutam Banerji.
With warm regards,
Sri Aurobindo Smriti Mandir
When one associates oneself with spiritual sadhana or penance and realises Truth within, it so happens that the material objects he or she used, receive the touch of the vibrations of his Truth-Consciousness and become the carriers of such vibrations. Especially, the Mother and Sri Aurobindo — through their exceptional sadhana brought the Divine Consciousness down to the level of humanity, becoming themselves the receptacles for such Consciousness. They transformed their physical bodies so as to become the fields of physical manifestations of the divine Consciousness through Yoga. As a result of this, all the things that they used when they were in physical bodies, those material objects received the vibrations of the invaluable Supramental Consciousness — they had within themselves. Each of such objects, which we be able to reach in close vicinity with, brings before us the opportunity of receiving the divine Consciousness through self-opening. In Pondicherry we can see such things in the rooms of the Mother and Sri Aurobindo and in Sri Smriti also. Such objects are reverentially kept and exhibited in the Sri Aurobindo Ashram, Delhi Branch, as well.
In the southern part of Kolkata — the metropolitan city where Sri Aurobindo was born — there is an exceptional institution engaged in the study and culture of the Mother and Sri Aurobindo and many of the spiritually enriched sadhaks who came in contact with them. At Bansdroni in Tollygunge, the centre named the Overman Foundation is housed in calm serenity and in a highly charged spiritual atmosphere. The centre is exceptional because, unlike all other Sri Aurobindo centres, the Overman Foundation does not emphasise on observance of Darshan Days through lectures and meditation, on conducting study circles on the Mother and Sri Aurobindo, or on running a school etc.; its activities are concentrated on collection of data on the lives and works of the Mother, Sri Aurobindo, and the ashramites and the ashram connected people of Sri Aurobindo Ashram in Pondicherry, and research on the various aspects of the Yoga of the Mother and Sri Aurobindo from the books, letters and various other documents taking help of the electronic media to the greatest extent possible. The Overman Foundation is thick and thinly connected with quite a few overseas Sri Aurobindo Centres. Sri Anurag Banerjee, the main driving force behind the working of this centre has, almost single-handedly built up quite an enriched collection of items connected with the Mother, Sri Aurobindo and their disciples. It has been named as Sri Aurobindo Smriti Mandir. As the centre is regularly connected with Sri Aurobindo Ashram, Pondicherry and many of its associates, it has, in the list of its collections, invaluable articles viz. several saris and blouses of the Mother, scarf, gown, handkerchieves, footstool, bottles of perfumes, tray covers, lap cloths, door mats, torch, power-box, bags, — all used by Her as well as several objects used in Her room when She was physically present. Two handkerchiefs, one table cloth, a kurta and a footstool used by Sri Aurobindo are also in its collections. Several unpublished letters of the Mother and Sri Aurobindo in Their own handwritings are preserved and displayed at Sri Aurobindo Smriti Mandir.
One wonders to come across many photographs signed by the Mother Herself, umpteen numbers of Darshan Cards and Darshan Messages signed by the Mother and scores of books autographed by Sri Aurobindo and the Mother. Previously the Mother Herself used to prepare the cards, badges and certificates issued to the position-holders amongst the competitors of sports and physical culture. Many recipients of these invaluable tokens have bequeathed those to the institution. All of such items, more than a hundred in number, are exhibited nicely. Money-order receipts and donation-receipts signed by the Mother, scores of birthday cards given by Her, manuscripts and typed documents corrected by Her, several cheques issued by Her, a telegram sent by the Mother and the copy of Her birth certificate have given the Smriti Mandir a rare edge. More than a thousand of such articles have been collected and are on display.
In 1950, on the 5th December, Sri Aurobindo left his Divine Body; and on the 9th of December His body was interned in a Samadhi which was double chambered, the upper chamber was filled with sand. After the passing away of the Mother from Her physical existence to the Supramental Fine existence the sand filled upper chamber was vacated to house the Divine Body of the Mother. Portion of the sand vacated from the upper chamber has been kept for display here.
Sri Aurobindo Ashram Trust has given the institution a pair of the Mother’s sandals which the visitors can see while in the Smriti Mandir. Just before the outbreak of the Covid-19 pandemic in 2020, Sri Aurobindo Smriti Mandir organised a very special exhibition of photographs of many of the pairs of footwears used by the Mother.
Apart from all these exhibits the Smriti Mandir has in its display original letters of poets and litterateurs like Rabindranath Tagore, Satyajit Ray, Dilip Kumar Roy, Nishikanto Roychaudhury, Nolini Kanta Gupta, Tarashankar Bandyopadhyay, Bibhutibhushan Mukhopadhyay etc.
The room where this rich collection is displayed is endowed with palpable spiritual vibration. The exhibits are arranged systematically. When one stands in front of the bottles of the essences that had received the touches of the Mother, one feels not only the nearness of the Mother, the flow of touch of Her Grace also. The certificates adorned with Her sketches and writings conveys unerringly Her Divine Power to the viewers. The arrangement reflects sincerity and humility; nowhere is it boastful of its richness. Exactly what the Mother wants from us through our work.
Outside the Ashram, such a collection centre is really rare.
About the Author: An ardent devotee of Sri Aurobindo and the Mother and an extraordinary scholar with avid interests in philosophy, spirituality, literature, music, mysticism and photography, Goutam Banerji has served the banking sector for over thirty years. A noted speaker and one of the finest exponents of Aurobindonian philosophy in West Bengal, he has authored several articles in Bengali and English which have been published in journals of repute.