While we were in Pondicherry, Aurobindo Ashram was a force to reckon with, with the Mother running it with a soft fur-gloved iron hand. The ashram was founded by Sri Aurobindo in 1926. The Mother whose name was Mira Alfassa, was the main disciple of Sri Aurobindo, and after his time she took over the reins, and ran the Ashram on well oiled rails.
From a mere handful of Ashramites at that time, the number rose to more than 2,000 under the Mother’s care. All Ashramites had to do their share of work in the various departments. The Mother took care of their food, clothing, shelter and medical care.
The Ashram buildings were on the Eastern side of Pondicherry, nearly half of the ‘white city’ was occupied by the various institutions like their schools, factories, shops and stores. The Mother was highly respected and regarded as a divine personality, not only by the Ashramites, but also by many outsiders. People used to come to Pondicherry just to have a darshan of the Mother. But, personally, I felt no inclination to meet her.
The Mother used to give darshan to the public every morning and every evening. In the morning it was only for about 5 to 10 minutes, standing at the balcony of her residence. A large crowd on the road would be waiting below the balcony patiently for her darshan. Babuji used to stand a little away form the crowd every morning while taking his morning walk. He used to tell me seeing the Mother in the mornings made his day’s work easy and fulfilled. He never met her personally. The balcony where the Mother used to give darshan.
Even then the Mother knew all about Babuji and the way he handled many of the issues that came between the Government and the Ashram. If there were any difficult situations the Mother used to tell Mr. Pinto (Ashram’s spokesman) to consult Babuji and do accordingly. If Babuji was not seen by the Mother at his usual place in the mornings for three or four days (that is, whenever he went to Delhi on official visits) the Mother used to ask Mr. Pinto, with so much concern, “What happened to Mr. Ramakrishnan? I haven’t seen him for two days!”
Among our various guests and visitors who came to Pondicherry, only one couple wanted to see the Mother. As Babuji was busy and had no time to spare in the days the couple was with us, it fell to me to take them to see the Mother. In the evenings every day, the Mother used to receive those who came to see her, with a nod and a smile, standing in the garden of her apartment. I took the couple to the place and we had to join the long line of people in front us waiting to see her. When I came face-to-face with the Mother, the way she looked at me was full of love, affection and kindness. It was too much for me to bear. I had to bend down to touch her feet, like those in front of me did. Her look was so powerful I felt all my inhibitions slipping away and I felt blessed.
When the time came for us to leave Pondicherry, Babuji and I were in two minds whether to meet the Mother and get her blessings, and take leave of her personally. As if the Mother could read our minds, the very next morning, the Mother sent us her blessings along with a copy of 'The Gita' by Sri Aurobindo, an autographed photo of the Mother herself and a bottle of perfume. It was too much, and we were completely floored. The Gita and the photo are still with Viji. Viji and Raja joined the Mother’s School in Delhi to continue their studies, after we came back to Delhi.
Sri Aurobindo and the Mother had believed that the evolution of mankind is not complete, until he reaches through yoga and a conscious aspiration a higher state of mind called Supra natural. To prove that and to bring human unity in diversity, the Mother planned to build Auroville, the city of Dawn, and laid the foundation for it 1968. The Mother did not live long enough to see it completed. She passed away in 1973. Her mortal remains were laid to rest under a canopy of trees in the compound of the building where she had lived for many years, beside the Samadhi of Sri Aurobindo.
Photos: Courtesy Internet