Monday, May 19, 2008


The Mother

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


Gardenia said...

Thanks for a really interesting read. A great person, the Mother!

Indrani said...

Such close interaction!

We have been there sometime back, a nice and calm place.

Kamini said...

Very interesting - a first-person account from someone who actually met her.

Mohanraj Thangarasu said...

Mother and Aurobindo are a great wealth to Puducherry and humanity. I feel proud that I live where they spend their days to spiritauality.

Pradeep said...

Landed here from your other blog. Very interesting posts. Those trips down the memory lanes, I am sure, are invigorating.

Viji said...

My "Mother's School" days in Delhi - I treasure those memories so much .It so hapenned that both Vivek and Vinay too did two academic years there between their schooling in the US and Bombay where they went to Don Bosco in Matunga. They went to both "Mother's School" and Father's School.

Kartikeya said...

Dear Maiji,

My heart slumped in my belly at your first remarks about The Mother. But, as the narration went on....reading about the daily balcony darshan by Sri Babuji & your duty-bound visit with your guests to The Mother & your experience of the darshan, brought my grieving heart to cheer..! And, the finale of your getting the blessings from the Mother before your farewell to Pondicherry had a soothing effect on my being...Had I known you from closer quarters-like the very dear ones of whom you have talked in your memoir, I would have shown my anguish & fought with you with ‘love’. But, I admire you for your penning all the experiences & travel through various lanes in Life..! ( Geeta-my wife, too would love, when she has a chance to read your column.).
Very accidentally, I read the article in "The Hindu"..and ran to read more- of your experiences in Pondicherry-especially, of The Mother & Sri Aurobindo. But, they were a bit: ‘out of tune with my fervently drenched love & devotion, both for Sri Aurobindo & the Mother. I felt, had I been in a reversed role of a stay such as yours:”Oh! Lord, how sweet it would have been...” Nevertheless, all those occasions of many..many years of visits from Madras to the Ashram & darshan of the Mother are still as fresh as any newly bloomed flowers..! I am repenting at your great loss...( Out of sheer love that has been built over a reading of your column now in NJ !). But, we all are different..... Also, it looks, the picture of’‘ Balcony’ given in the article, where The Mother use to give ‘Darshan’, seems to be a wrong one. with love & kind regards.

Geeta & Kartikeya Amin
October 26, 2010 1:48 AM

Anonymous said...

Mother Give me a chance to visit the Ashram in Jan Pongal holidays

Anonymous said...

thanks a lot for this article..Mother pls call me in your ashram