God could not be everywhere, and therefore he made mothers.
- Rudyard Kipling
This year, we celebrated May 9 as Rabindranath Tagore’s Birth Jayanti. He is among the most revered iconic poets of India. A poet, writer, playwright, composer, philosopher, social reformer and painter, Tagore was awarded the Nobel Prize in Literature in 1913, “because of his profoundly sensitive, fresh and beautiful verse, by which, with consummate skill, he has made his poetic thought, expressed in his own English words, a part of the literature of the West.”
Rabindranath Tagore wrote the following inspiring poem in Bengali in 1907 when he heard about the arrest of Sri Aurobindo. The poem was translated into English by Kshitish Chandra Sen.Read More
Tagore describes Sri Aurobindo as ‘the Voice Incarnate of India’s Soul’ in this poem.
Rabindranath, O Aurobindo, bows to thee!
O friend, my country’s friend, O voice incarnate, free,
Of India’s soul! No soft renown doth crown thy lot,
Nor pelf or careless comfort is for thee; thou’st sought
No petty bounty, petty dole; the beggar’s bowl
Thou n’er hast held aloft. In watchfulness thy soul
Hast thou e’er held for bondless full perfection’s birth
For which, all night and day, the god in man on earth
Doth strive and strain austerely; which in solemn voice
The poet sings in thund’rous poems; for which rejoice
Stout hearts to march on perilous paths; before whose flame
Refulgent, ease bows down its head in humbled shame
And death forgetteth fear; – that gift supreme
To thee from Heaven’s own hand, that full-orb’d fadeless dream
That’s thine, thou’st asked for as thy country’s own desire
In quenchless hope, in words with truth’s white flame afire,
In infinite faith, hath God in heaven heard at last
This prayer of thine ? And so, sounds there, in blast on blast,
His victory-trumpet? And puts he, with love austere,
In thy right hand, today, the fateful lamp and drear
Of sorrow, whose light doth pierce the country’s agelong gloom,
And in the infinite skies doth steadfast shine and loom,
As doth the Northern star? O Victory and Hail!
Where is the coward who will shed tears today, or wail
Or quake in fear? And who’ll belittle truth to seek
His own small safety? Where’s the spineless creature weak
Who will not in thy pain his strength and courage find?
O wipe away those tears, O thou of craven mind!
The fiery messenger that with the lamp of God
Hath come – where is the king who can with chain or rod
Chastise him? Chains that were to bind salute his feet,
And prisons greet him as their guest with welcome sweet,
The pall of gloom that wraps the sun in noontide skies
In dim eclipse, within a moment slips and flies
As doth a shadow. Punishment? It ever falls
On him who is no man, and every day hath feared,
Abashed, to gaze on truth’s face with a free man’s eye
And call a wrong a wrong; on him who doth deny
His manhood shamelessly before his own compeers,
And e’er disowns his God-given rights, impelled by fears
And greeds; who on his degradation prides himself,
Who traffics in his country’s shame; whose bread, whose pelf
Are his own mother’s gore; that coward sits and quails
In jail without reprieve, outside all human jails.
When I behold thy face, ‘mid bondage, pain and wrong
And black indignities, I hear the soul’s great song
Of rapture unconfined, the chant the pilgrim sings
In which exultant hope’s immortal splendour rings,
Solemn voice and calm, and heart-consoling, grand
Of imperturbable death, the spirit of Bharat-Iand,
O poet, hath placed upon thy face her eyes afire
With love, and struck vast chords upon her vibrant lyre, –
Wherein there is no note of sorrow, shame or fear,
Or penury or want. And so today I hear
The ocean’s restless roar borne by the stormy wind,
Th’ impetuous fountain’s dance riotous, swift and blind
Bursting its rocky cage, – the voice of thunder deep
Awakening, like a clarion call, the clouds asleep.
Amid this song triumphant, vast, that encircles me,
Rabindranath, O Aurobindo, bows to thee!
And then to Him I bow Who in His sport cloth make
New worlds in fiery dissolution’s awful wake,
From death awakes new life; in danger’s bosom rears
Prosperity; and sends his devotee in tears,
‘Mid desolation’s thorns, amid his foes to fight
Alone and empty-handed in the gloom of night;
In diverse tongues, in diverse ages speaketh ever
In every mighty deed, in every great endeavour
And true experience: “Sorrow’s naught, howe’er drear,
And pain is naught, and harm is naught, and naught all fear;
The king’s a shadow, – punishment is but a breath;
Where is the tyranny of wrong, and where is death?
O fool, O coward, raise thy head that’s bowed in fear,
I am, thou art, and everlasting truth is here!
Lights on Life
Pulses of truth that clears up life’s pathway and makes it a joyful and confident journey
Questions and Answers
Our ordinary life is fraught with doubts, confusions and questions on its various aspects. Our Questions and Answers section is a compilation of questions on multiple subjects, asked by aspirants to Sri Aurobindo and The Mother and the answers given by Them. Please visit - an answer may be awaiting you, even if you do not have a question.
Humility and sincerity are the best safeguards. Without them each step is a danger; with them the victory is certain.
On life’s journey, we are sometimes struck by a distressing obstacle in our path, numbing our strength and capacities to move ahead. Or it could also be a strong aspiration that blindly seeks an expression. At these times, if we concentrate and sincerely search for an inner guidance, it does somehow reach us through some means and a path opens up, almost like miracle! If you are in a situation like this, try our Guidance section and see if it helps. Do share your experience with us.
Events and Announcements
Glimpses of recent activities at SAS
Sri Aurobindo and the Constitution of India
Hon’ble Union Minister of Home Affairs, Shri Amit Shah, officially launched the inaugural celebrations of Sri Aurobindo’s 150th Birthday Celebrations on 24 April 2022 at the Pondicherry University Convention–cum–Cultural Centre, Pillaichavady. Sri Aurobindo and the Constitution of India – a research study done by the Sri Aurobindo Society, was released on the same day.
SARVAM students undergo intensive English training
As part of improving their English-speaking skills, SARVAM students underwent a two-day training programme. The students visited Auroville and Pondicherry Botanical garden where they immersed themselves in nature while practicing what they had learned in their classrooms.
Ego: Perspectives & Implications for Human Growth
Enroll for this six-day online workshop organized by NAMAH, the Journal of Integral Health from May 23 to 28, 2022 facilitated by Dr. Soumitra Basu. Dr. Basu will help resolve the conflict that emerges between soul and ego which becomes a major source of psychological suffering. This course is dedicated to those who yearn to unify their being
Experimental Learning Workshop for Army Public School Teachers
Eight Army Public school teachers from the Southern Zone attended a five-day pilot training workshop that was aimed to introduce innovative methods in education via theatre, music, arts, puppetry, therapeutic movements and yoga which were the main highlights of the workshop for all-round development of students. Twenty-four teachers from the Dakshin Bharat Area and six teachers from Pondicherry Government School and Satya Special school participated in this workshop. The valedictory function was presided by Col. Anuj of Dakshin Bharat Area.
Book launch: Living Lights: Mine, and Yours
Avani Patel’s debut book Living Lights: Mine, and Yours. co-hosted by The Brown Critique, was launched on 25 April, 2022 at the AURA Shoppe in Pondicherry. The book was launched by Gayatri Majumdar – a devotee, writer, editor and founder of ‘The Brown Critique’, a critically acclaimed literary journal and publishing house. Apart from reading some of her favourite and powerful poems from her book with immense honesty and transparency, when describing her metaphorical journey from the U.K. to India, Avani, a long-time devotee and teacher, regaled the audience with her characteristic humour. Her book is available for sale at Aura Bookstore, Pondicherry.
Geetaamritam-paanam - Drinking the Nectar of Geeta
AuroYajna is conducting weekly Gita chanting classes on all Saturdays from May 7, 2022. Those who wish to participate in this ‘Gita Chanting’ can join both online or drop by at Society House, Sri Aurobindo Society, Pondicherry. The chanting is from 7 a.m. to 7:45 a. m. on all Saturdays. Let’s all join to live a life of purity, disciple, honesty, kindness and compassion.
Animation Film – A New Dawn
Script to Storyboarding Stage
An animation film ‘Sri Aurobindo: A New Dawn’ is being made by Sri Aurobindo Society, to inspire the youth of India and the world, through the story of Sri Aurobindo and his immense contribution to the renaissance of India. This is our offering for the 150th year of Sri Aurobindo’s birth.Read More
We are happy to inform you that the script development stage of the animation film is finished and now we have moved on to the storyboarding stage and the training of the artists has also started. To know the details of the progress of the film, please visit our website.
Sri Aurobindo once wrote that he was “a poet and a politician” first, and only afterward a philosopher. Visit our Facebook page to look at some of the main stages in Sri Aurobindo’s life as reflected in his poems.
Join hands in the making of this film! Donate
Offering in Humility and Gratitude
We have stepped into an important year on 15 August 2021 as it starts the 150th birth anniversary of Sri Aurobindo and the 75th year of India’s independence. This section is our humble offering to this momentous occasion. We will bring a few golden glimpses from the Master’s avataric life as well as a few glorious achievements of independent India.
Excerpt from A. B. Purani’s ‘Life of Sri Aurobindo’ about an incident in England, when Sri Aurobindo was ‘saved’
Sri Aurobindo and His two elder brothers were sent to England when He was seven years old, for their studies. They stayed with Rev. William H. Drewett and his wife in Manchester.
A rumour was once current that Aurobindo was converted to Christianity. This was probably due to his name being registered at St. Paul’s and even at Cambridge, as “Aravinda Ackroyd Ghose”. But the rumour is not true.
Once, however, an amusing incident happened which Sri Aurobindo has himself described: “There was once a meeting of nonconformist ministers at Cumberland when we were in England. The old lady in whose house we dwelt [Mrs. Drewett] took me there. After the prayers were over nearly all dispersed, but devout people remained a little longer and it was at that time that conversions were made. I was feeling completely bored. Then a minister approached me and asked me some questions. I did not give any reply. Then they all shouted, ‘He is saved, he is saved’, and began to pray for me and offer thanks to God. I did not know what it was all about. Then the minister came to me and asked me to pray. I was not in the habit of praying. But somehow I did it in the manner in which children recite their prayers before going to sleep in order to keep up an appearance. That was the only thing that happened. I did not attend the Church regularly. I was about ten at that. He felt infinitely relieved when he got back to Manchester. A.B. Purani, [Evening Talks, Second Series, p. 141]
Once, however, an amusing incident happened which Sri Aurobindo has himself described:
“There was once a meeting of nonconformist ministers at Cumberland when we were in England. The old lady in whose house we dwelt [Mrs. Drewett] took me there. After the prayers were over nearly all dispersed, but devout people remained a little longer and it was at that time that conversions were made. I was feeling completely bored. Then a minister approached me and asked me some questions. I did not give any reply. Then they all shouted, ‘He is saved, he is saved’, and began to pray for me and offer thanks to God. I did not know what it was all about. Then the minister came to me and asked me to pray. I was not in the habit of praying. But somehow I did it in the manner in which children recite their prayers before going to sleep in order to keep up an appearance. That was the only thing that happened. I did not attend the Church regularly. I was about ten at that. He felt infinitely relieved when he got back to Manchester.
A.B. Purani, [Evening Talks, Second Series, p. 141]
It’s summertime, and this is the appropriate time for a vacation. From Kolli hills in the South the previous week, we are taking a diversion, and this week we are steering to Madhuban. For ordinary people, this is a vacation, but for people like Gayatri, it is a journey to find out the actual cause of life, an expedition to know the unknown and what not. Gayatri Majumdar – a devotee who loves travelling and has authored six books, contributes to this issue of Readers’ Column. She is associated with Sri Aurobindo Society and, as an editor, is a part of the AuroPublications team.
In a Madhuban State of Mind
– Gayatri Majumdar
The trek up to Madhuban (1) in the pitter-patter rain can hardly be described as strenuous; and the downhill Talla part of the Kumaon region of Ramgarh (2) in Uttarakhand‘s Nainital district is not difficult to negotiate.
It‘s impossible to be in any hurry here when the air is heady with the fragrance of wild flowers, gurgling streams, mist-wrapped hills, calls of myriad birds and mooing of cows. When I first stepped on the holy grounds of resplendence that Madhuban is, built by Sri Aurobindo Ashram‘s Delhi branch almost 60 years ago, I was certain I was gliding along another realm overlooking the valley with its green-shed school and stable for horses. Indeed, it was thousands of miles away from all the cacophony and white noise I had grown accustomed to. I believed I had finally discovered my sangha (3) among plum, peach, pear and apricot orchards, pines and hundred species of flowers and birds; listening to Gharwali folk, bhajans (4) and Sufi songs under a bright September full moon around a bonfire with tabla and harmonium resounding the Himalayas.Read More
Gas lamps light up purple Hydrangea and Tulips along this pathway where fragrant honey suckles greet you every morning as bees and birds begin to stir to the sun‘s primordial rays.
Poets, singers, gardeners, Blue Jays, butterflies, brothers, beetles, clouds, magnolias, daffodils, cooks, the rain, the pious and the faithful – Honey-gatherers Inc. – converge in the lap of these mountains with great attention and pure intentions… their flute melodious; whistle-strains and prayers reverberating.
Skirting precarious mountain roads passing by women carrying heavy loads of twigs to burn for the evening meals, how far do we travel to arrive at a dream as unspoiled as this? In this pristine soul-scape, you are in the sangha of Chir Pine, Pindrow Fir, Cypress and sal or iron-wood, Common Peacocks and Brahma Kamal with narcissus flowers sparkling your morning walks, yellow finch, canary and river pebbles; unsoiled and enduring. Your senses now infused with so many hues and music surrounding you, all you can do is hold your breath and surrender to this sublimity of expansive overarching light.
The journey by train to this literally ‘nectar-forest‘ takes around five-and-a-half hours from New Delhi Railway Station to Kathgodam, followed by an hour-and-a-half taxi ride to Talla Ramgarh. From the heart however, it takes a split second!
For wherever I go, She is always with me – mother, The Mother; all mothers who depart and arrive on the 13th day of a waxing moon.
All day we wait for the prankish moon to rise; shift our toiling hours – when all life will explode into wind-rush cadence and reverie. Peace in Madhuban is a given; it‘s this garden‘s foundation. Where all seeking ends and the honey, abundant.
Tonight in Madhuban, the flames reach high as herbal chai is passed around and our companions – a dog named Tipu, snakes, trees, humans, birds, the occasional wolf congregate in this sangha of dreamers and lovers. The same agni (5) destroys illusions and all that is redundant; rising as our collective aspiration and affirmation to dwell in the placidity and beauty of our flowering heart.
No matter if I‘m unable to step out of these four walls these days, I‘m in a Madhuban state of mind.
- Madhuban is the place where the beekeeping association of India took birth more than 60 years ago.
- Also known as the ― ’Fruit Bowl of Kumaon’.
- Sangha: ‘community‘ or ‘association‘.
- Bhajan is a devotional song; adoration, worship.
- Agni: Sacred fire.
‘In a Madhuban State of Mind’ is taken from Gayatri’s book (non-fiction) The lotus of the heart (2021).
Dose of Sunshine
(…is all we need to embrace life with a smile!)
Potion of Laughter
It was ‘Mother’s Day’ a few days go. Day in and day out, mothers take many forms. There is nothing equal to the love of Mother.
We are trying to bring some smiles to their faces through some of these jokes. To all lovely mothers, these are for you.Read More
Teacher: Tell me, Johnny. Do you say prayers before eating?
Johnny: No, ma’am, I don’t have to. My mom’s a good cook.
Doug: I think my mom’s getting serious about straightening up my room once and for all.
Dan: How do you know?
Doug: She’s learning to drive a bulldozer.
A mother is trying to get her son to eat carrots. “Carrots are good for your eyes,” she says.
“How do you know?” the boy asks.
The mother replies, “Have you ever seen a rabbit wearing glasses?”
Daughter: Why is a computer so smart?
Mom: It listens to its motherboard.
Mother to son: I’m warning you. If you fall out of that tree and break both your legs, don’t come running to me!
A Capsule of Good News
‘It is not our disabilities; it’s our abilities that count,’ says Christopher John Burke, an American actor. It is time when all should understand that physical disability impairs the biological function of a part of the body and not a person’s mental ability. Physical disability is not a bar until the mental is disabled. Here is the success story of Husnain, who made people look at them from pity to pride, consolation to appreciation. Husnain, the founder of We Are One Dance Academy, has Persons with Disability as its crew members.Read this story