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Visit to the Rooms of the Mother and Sri Aurobindo
January 12, 2006
A Visit to the rooms of Sri Aurobindo and The Mother
Nothing could have prepared us (Ron and me) for the impact of physically being in the rooms where the Double Avatar lived and breathed and worked ceaselessly to transform this plane of existence. Thanks to Aster Patel, this was made possible on Thursday, January 12, 2006. Our group was six and when we made our way slowly up the staircase to Sri Aurobindo’s room, I kept thinking of the number of times the Mother must have taken this very path as she ascended to attend him, and plotted with him that greater Supramentalization which was to come some six years after his death. At the top of the stairs we see a spry older woman whose name we later learn is Kumud, who attended the Mother for many years.
Sri Aurobindo’s room is crowded with devotees, each on their own form of pilgrimmage, so we gather quietly with our group just outside the door. These outer chambers are equally remarkable and I notice particularly two tiger rugs up on a chest or credenza and wonder whether one of these is the rug the Master stumbled over when he fell and fractured his right thigh on November 24, 1938.
Slowly we are ushered into Sri Aurobindo’s room and I am most struck by the chair on the left side of the room, made known to many through the photographs taken later in his life. The chair is actually smaller than I imagined, smaller still without the Avatar in it. From the photographs I had an idea that it was much larger, but realize now the largeness came from the one who occupied it and not from the chair itself. We are not allowed to spend much time here - perhaps five minutes inside the room - and we are not allowed to freely walk around in it, but follow a designated path, a narrow corridor cordoned off from the rest of the room. I want to spend more time in the room, but am gestured to move along by an older Indian man. As we exit, we are handed a beautiful golden yellow hibiscus with a blood red center along with a Darshan card - everyone gets a slightly different one according to his needs. Mine says,
“To the soul that wholly gives itself to him, God also gives himself altogether. Only the one who offers his whole nature, finds the Self. Only the one who can give everything, enjoys the Divine All everywhere.”
~ Sri Aurobindo
As we exit, to the left, just outside the door is that equally famous small sofa where the Mother and Sri Aurobindo sat so often for Darshan. This is quite overwhelming to see it and I wonder how many thousands streamed past the two of them in those earlier auspicious days.
Next we pass over the same stair landing from which we came and rather than following the large group being directed down the stairs back to the public area of the Ashram, our small group of five are unexpectedly led farther along the landing by Kumud and Aster into what turns out to be the Mother’s room. No one else is there. I learn later that there are only two times per year that her room is open to the public - on her birthday and I believe on Darshan day - so for us to be able to visit on this day is wonderful. The magnitude of the moment does not escape us.
We rove about the room under the watchful, loving, and I think somewhat mischievous eye of Kumud. The Mother’s room is altogether different in feeling from Sri Aurobindo’s and I am suprised at the clutter of items in it. I imagine, whether it is accurate or not, that these are gifts from devotees, as I somehow can’t picture the Mother owning anything. There is an astonishing number of carved elephants, for example, and everywhere you look there is some shelf or etage crowded with disparate paraphenalia, even including a couple of stuffed animals. One of these toys, a particularly cute, soft white stuffed animal, Kumud brings down off the shelf and proceeds to kiss each one of us with it. We are told that the stuffed animals are recent gifts.
At the far end of the room is the Mother’s chair and her ottoman where I imagine she did so much work on the transformation of the cells of her body. There is a picture of the Mother on the ottoman - a particularly radiant one - and a tray with roses and smaller envelopes with Darshan flowers and a youthful looking picture of the Mother and Sri Aurobindo. I kneel before the ottoman and touch it with my hands, gazing into the Mother’s eyes in the photograph. I am at once overwhelmed with the power of what she did and the sacrifice she made for humanity, and for me. That I am privileged to be present in the room where she lived is overwhelming to me and I am presently unable to describe the feeling of utter peace that came over me in that moment, powerful and pressing from somewhere behind and above my head. I was at once emptied - a slate wiped clean - it is up to me to continue the process so that the supramental dispensation may come through in whatever form it is able to take in one as inexperienced with this work as I.
Tears come to my eyes - or rather press out from them. There is no crying, but a force from behind which presses the liquid out somehow. It is an odd feeling of being compressed and expanded at the same time. Kumud walks over and hands me a card with a phrase written by the Mother which simply says, “I am near you” and signed by her. It is printed in gold ink and there is a gold edge around the card. I will keep it close always.
On the wall facing the ottoman is a remarkable set of four photos taken of Sri Aurobindo lying in repose after he left the body in 1950. What is astonishing about these photos is that Sri Aurobindo shows no signs of death or decomposition - the skin is luminescent and very alive looking. The photos are very powerful as a result. I stare at these photos for a very long time and come back to them after gazing upon other objects in the room. They draw me back again and again. Aster has one a copy of one of them in her home, and this had an equally powerful affect.
After we have been in the room for some time, and Kumud has offered an arthritic remedy to another of our group, I am wondering if our time is up or whether we have outstayed our welcome. Just as I am having that thought, Kumud walks over to a cabinet where I am standing with a key in her hand. She places a strong hand on my shoulder and says, “You stay,” and opens a cabinet which has several shelves filled with the Mother’s artifacts. She proceeds to show us these objects and we all gather around.
There are her mirror and brushes for her hair, feather boas which belonged to her grandmother, and there is even a lock of the Mother’s hair in there, clipped after her death! So many treasures and to be in such close proximity - particularly to see the hair - reminds me that the Supreme was among us and in recent history. What miracle or Divine machination has brought Ron and me to this point in our histories that we are standing before the objects of the The Supreme Mother? How amazing.
Ron and Kumud get into a playful mode and as Ron is thanking Kumud, she holds out her palm and says, “How much?”. She teases Ron for some payment for her services. One banter leads to the next and before you know it, Ron and Kumud are in a sort of arm wrestle, as Kumud shows off her strength. It is surprising how strong she is, actually. She rather wins the arm wrestle.
After some warm goodbyes, we all shake hands and leave. We go downstairs to Darshan and spend some time there. Then Ron and I take our leave of Aster and go to the book shop where we find some wonderful pamphlets written by Sri Aurobindo.
The visit is very powerful for both of us. We don’t understand the privilege of it, being two Americans who are far less learned and experienced in this tradition than most who make the pilgrimmage here. But we are grateful for the opportunity to dwell for a little while in the rooms of the Mother and Sri Aurobindo and ever thankful for what may come from the infusion of the Divine we have just received.
~ written down Sunday, January 15, 2006
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