December and January had rolled on smoothly. We were now looking forward
to the removal of the splints. Dr. Rao on his weekly visits was pressing
his case for the removal and was laughed at by all of us till he promised
not to raise the issue again, only to break his word the next time.
About the first week of February, some disquieting symptoms appeared.
There was pain in the knee-joint and a mild swelling of the leg. We
were very much perturbed by this unexpected intrusion. The specialist,
informed about it, replied that such minor complications were not
rare in fracture cases and would soon clear up. Now Rao got his chance:
he argued that the unduly long immobilisation had caused the symptoms
and urged the removal of the splints. Poor doctor! Nobody listened
to his lonely voice. We all clung to the authority of the specialist
and waited for his second visit. But Pondicherry to Madras was then
no flying motor-drive! We had no cars, buses still belonged to the
dreamland and the train service was as slow as it is today. I do not
remember exactly when the specialist came and removed the splints,
probably in the third or fourth week of February.
As soon as it was done, the entire limb from the thigh downwards swelled
up, to our deep consternation. The thigh looked frightful, almost
double its size. The Mother kept an ominous silence, but Sri Aurobindo
was as unconcerned as ever. The specialist repeated his view that
such complications do set in in some cases, so we need not worry.
The oedema was of no consequence and would gradually subside. He was
satisfied that a firm union of the bone had taken place. With proper
and careful treatment, massage, compress, gradual walking, etc., the
leg would return to its normal size. The Mother was not however so
easily satisfied. She questioned him very closely on the cause of
the oedema, its pathology, complications and danger, or other possible
sequels. When the specialist stated that sometimes movements might
dislodge a venous clot and bring about serious complications, the
Mother caught him at once and asked how then could he recommend massage
and passive movements. The doctor was not prepared for such an astute
question from a "woman" and said that the Mother was a very
intelligent person! We reported this remark to Sri Aurobindo; he simply
All of us were very much depressed by this adverse manifestation,
since it would delay his recovery. I was particularly disturbed and
worried, for I had not met with such a situation before and had to
face it all alone as a doctor. I needed much strength and faith. So
far it was Sri Aurobindo who had been giving me his constant spiritual
support in my medical work. Now the Divine Physician himself was the
patient. Whom should I approach for help? Though I did not openly
ask him to cure himself using my poor self as the physical instrument,
as I did in my other medical cases, still with the conviction that
his and the Mother's force would be there, I proceeded with the instructions
left by the specialist. But I was not free from anxiety. Meanwhile,
I wrote to Dr. Manilal about the complication, asking him to come
down and bring with him two or three pairs of crutches from Bombay.
Then there was the right foot that drew our attention. It had shrunk
and shrivelled up, due to impeded circulation and inactivity, to almost
half its size. The skin of the sole had become dry like parchment.
The Mother brought some fine white cream and asked me to apply it.
Sri Aurobindo sat up, his right leg extended and the Mother stood
by, watching the application. Her presence affected my self-confidence
and I began the work rather clumsily. "No, no not that way! "
she cried out. Her protest put me at once on to the correct method.
Then she smiled and said "Yes, that's right!" Sri Aurobindo,
as usual, was enjoying the scene. The whole layer of skin of the sole,
thin, candle-white, peeled off like a cast. How small and tender looked
the foot! He has written of his inner fight saying, "My gaping
wounds are a thousand and one", in his poem A God's Labour.
Here was an outer wound added to his physical being. Still, no
complaint! War is war!
His hair also caused some trouble, for it was in a terribly tangled
"intrinsicate" mess due to its prolonged fixed position
- a network as complicated as its definition by Dr. Johnson. How to
untangle it? I do not know what made us bold enough to tackle that
feminine problem instead of placing it in the Mother's proper care.
We had no idea then that she would be only too glad to do the job;
neither did she offer to do it. And Sri Aurobindo, of course, kept
quiet. It is we who must ask, must "open"! It took us about
an hour's desperate and delicate handling to disentangle that conglomerate
skein like Lord Shiva's matted locks and bring all into a decent order.
Sri Aurobindo accepted this torture with his usual submission. At
the end of the perpetration, he simply asked, "Have you left
some hair?" We laughed. True, this was meant as a joke, but he
was not indifferent to physical grace and beauty. Later on when the
Mother took up his toilet and attended to his hair, after each combing,
tufts of the precious glossy hair, were loosened off, and enriched
Champaklal's treasury. Sri Aurobindo on being informed of this loss,
did something to stop the falling, and till the end the hair retained
its glistening abundance.
When Dr. Manilal arrived, I breathed a sigh of relief! He was not
very happy to see the new development, but hoped that everything would
be all right. He was confronted with three problems: the swelling,
educating the patient to walk and the bending of the knee, all of
which he dealt with in his characteristic efficient manner. The swelling
according to him would subside in due course. Gentle massage and hot
and cold compress continued, followed later by hot douche. We used
to note its diminution week by week. But it took some months to disappear
completely. The bending of the knee would also take some time in view
of the adhesion of the patella to the underlying tissues, in spite
of passive movements. The re-education in walking seemed to be rather
a straightforward job, though it was the most awkward and difficult
one, for Sri Aurobindo had to walk with crutches! All that was needed
was a patient and persistent effort. For Sri Aurobindo's nature, unaccustomed
to physical or mechanical contrivances, and the narrow space in the
room made the venture somewhat risky. The first day he got up to use
the crutches was a memorable one for us. In the presence of the Mother
we made him stand up, handed him the crutches and showed him how to
use them. He fumbled and remarked, "Yes, it is easy to say."
Two or three different pairs were tried out, but as he could not handle
them properly, the Mother proposed that he had better walk leaning
on two persons - one on either side. It was certainly a bright suggestion,
for Sri Aurobindo walking on crutches would have reminded us of his
own phrase about Hephaestus' "lame, omnipotent motion",
- an insult to his shining majestic figure.
Purani and Satyendra were selected by Dr. Manilal as his human supports,
much less incongruous than the ungainly wooden instruments! That was
how the re-education started. The paradox of the Divine seeking frail
human aid gave food to my sense of humour. However, both men proved
unequal in stature; the Mother made Champaklal replace Satyendra on
the left side. Now the arrangement was just and perfect and Champaklal
had his aspiration fulfilled. His was the last support Sri Aurobindo
was to give up. For, as his steps gained in strength and firmness,
he used a stick in the right hand, and Champaklal on the left. Finally
he too was dropped. As soon as it came to be known that the Master
was using a walking stick, several were presented to him and there
was one even of tea-wood from Assam! Thus everyday after the noon
and night meals the Mother would come to his room and present the
stick, and he would walk about for half an hour in her presence.
While waiting for the Mother's arrival, he would practise various
bending exercises for the knee which had been improvised by Dr. Manilal.
He did them sitting on the edge of the bed. He actively obeyed whatever
was demanded of him. One of the exercises was hanging of the leg -
which later became a common joke amongst us.
It was not an unreasonable fear that the slightest inattention in
walking on his part might upset his balance and cause a fall. He had
to walk with his head bent, looking at the ground, and had to be very
careful, particularly at turnings, by checking his speed. We were
posted at these turnings to prevent any possibility of a mishap. His
steps were now not like those of Zeus on Mount Olympus! They had naturally
lost that resounding force we were accustomed to hear, when he used
to pace up and down above, during our meditation in the hall below.
He told us that it was during those walks that he used to bring down
the highest Force. As the walking progressed with the recovery of
his former strength, we expected a return to his God-like steps.
The days were getting hotter and he used to perspire profusely. There
was no ceiling fan. We started fanning him as he walked, but what
were two small hand-fans the wing-wafts of tiny birds in the sultry
heat of the closed room? Sri Aurobindo did not seem to be concerned
at all, though we were. Purani hit upon brilliant idea. He came up
with a huge palm leaf fan festooned with a red cloth border, as used
for the temple Deities. The Mother smiled approvingly. Stationed near
the door, he began fanning with all the vigour of his bare muscular
arms and a miniature storm would sweep by. We enjoyed the grand sight.
It was so becoming to his giant's nature! He handled it very well.
Once for some days he could not come up, and the fan lay idle, like
the mythical bow in the cave. With much trepidation I took it up,
a pigmy to the giant, but seeing no question on the Mother's face,
I set to work. The performance was not bad. I felt rather proud, but
alas, pride had its quick fall! By some faux pas, or should
I say fausse main, one day I struck Sri Aurobindo's back with
the fan, as he was just turning my corner! He immediately looked around
with an indulgent smile, and the Mother smiled graciously to lift
me up from the crushing shame. But fortunately for the Guru and the
disciple, it was not repeated. Afterwards both Champaklal and Mulshankar
used the fan with a greater skill.
When at the end of the walk he would stand in the middle of the room
with the stick in his right hand, his upright figure with the flowing
beard on his broad bare chest, his two plaits of silken hair in front,
and a far away look in his calm wide-open eyes, he would kindle a
soft glow of love and adoration in our hearts. The Mother would then
take the stick from him; after an exchange of sweet smiles between
them, she would go away. Champaklal would then step in and wipe away
the dripping perspiration.
Then he would sit in the chair and sponging of the divine body would
begin. This practice was continued for several years till a bathroom
was built nearby. Our complaint about this crude mode of cleansing
was received with a disarming serenity. Neither one arrangement nor
another made the slightest difference to his composure. He did not
seem to be living in the body at all; or he left it completely into
the Mother's care.
Along with the sponging the talks would start: Purani from behind,
I from the front, Dr. Manilal sitting on one side and Satyendra standing
on the other. We all took part in the talk and worked at the same
time. And Sri Aurobindo, perhaps melting by the touch of hot water,
would release his silence into a many-hued speech. Sometimes Purani
hurled a question from behind, Satyendra took it up, then I answered,
and so the question went round with Sri Aurobindo sitting at the centre,
listening quietly, answering, or to our delight, springing a surprise
by a sudden joke! At times he sat still, leaning against the chair
with two fingers of his right hand on his lips, as if musing on something.
After a while he would relax and the talk would follow. Once in the
midst of our engrossed talk, there was a mild tap at the door. Sri
Aurobindo looked at us, and we wondered who could be violating the
privacy. Another tap, and the door was opened by one of us; to our
surprise it was the Mother who came with a piece of paper in her hand
and said, "For Sri Aurobindo." It was some important war
news that had just been relayed over the radio. This little incident
is a pointer to the Mother's and Sri Aurobindo's vital interest in
The last thing to be done was the bending of the knee. As I have mentioned,
there was an exercise called hanging the leg. Manilal's approaching
visit for the Darshan would make, Sri Aurobindo utter, "Oh, Manilal
is coming, I must hang my leg!" or when Manilal would enquire
from Baroda about it, he would reply with a smile, "It is still
hanging!" The bending exercise was apparently an ineffectual
one, but Sri Aurobindo persisted and we too encouraged him as if he
were a little child. At any rate the result was not proportionate
to the effort. Dr. Rao who was very happy to see the Master at last
free from the tyrannical shackles of the splints took the opportunity,
whenever he came, of massaging his leg. "May I do it, Sir?"
he would ask and would never forget to praise Sri Aurobindo as an
Another imposition placed on him by the doctor was that in order to
tone up his body he had to do some free-hand exercises. Every morning
while still in bed, he would, without fail, practise them vigorously
- the flexion and extension of his arms and the raising and lowering
of his legs. Sometimes the arms overcome by sleep would sink into
feeble, mechanical movements and then would wake up with a start to
resume their duty!
The summer heat or an uncomfortable position in bed could not persuade
him to break the rule. When I entered the room for my morning work,
this assiduous application would greet my eyes. His leg would rise
and fall like a hammer, and I could not contain my feeling of amusement
and admiration at this hard Tapasya to achieve the supramental perfection
of the body. Perhaps this semi-blasphemy has come upon me like a boomerang,
now making me undergo physical Tapasya even at this age [= 68]! It
cannot be denied, anyway, that Sri Aurobindo was not meant for such
hard and rough gymnastics. There are some things which cannot be conceived
of, for instance Tagore or Dilip courting jail during the Non-cooperation
Manilal's prescription did some good all the same; for the soft and
mellow frame got a firm nervous tone and the muscles developed fine
contours, to his great satisfaction.
Perfection is the supramental key-word. Any imperfection, however
slight, was foreign to Sri Aurobindo's nature. I give a minor example:
one day, while talking about snoring, one of us was tactless enough
to tell him that he too had the habit. It must have been an awkward
side-effect of the accident due to a malposition of the body. But
it came to him as a great surprise. And I was astonished to mark that
from the very next day the physiological aberration stopped for good!
Even while correcting our poems, he would always do it perfectly.
If he was pressed for time, he would ask the poem back and make it
flawless. Any perfection achieved in any field by him was a cosmic
conquest. "One man's perfection still can save the world."
Dr. Manilal advised us to massage Sri Aurobindo's body too, particularly
the lower part. Early morning was thought by common consent to be
the most suitable time for it. Three of us would massage him part
by part, as he lay in bed, and we would go on talking at the same
time. To some of our queries he would often answer "perhaps,
perhaps". Much amused, we asked him one day, "Why don't
you say 'yes or no', instead of this uncertain 'perhaps'?" "Because",
he replied, "the Supermind alone has the certainty." We
all laughed. Thus we were merrily massaging him and chatting away
without ever considering his comfort or discomfort. After quite a
few days' torture at our hands he asked me one day most gently, "Is
the massage really necessary? You see, this is the only time when
I have some sleep." I replied somewhat guiltily, "We shall
stop it, it is not necessary." He could have easily dropped it
earlier, but the doctor had to be obeyed!
Thanks to all these arduous and assiduous exercises, the limb gained
in solid strength, and the body its requisite tone. He began now to
read the daily papers himself. One day as I was passing a rapid glance
over the morning paper, assuming that he was not yet ready, he inquired,
"The paper hasn't come?" I promptly handed it over to him.
"Have you digested the news?" he asked. I smiled abashed!
Quiet casual humour, characteristic of Sri Aurobindo.
We reached the month of April. Sri Aurobindo's rapid progress became
widely known and people began to clamour for a Darshan; they had already
missed two of them, and for the next one in August it would be too
painfully long to wait. The Mother also began to plead on behalf of
the bhaktas, though not much pleading was needed. For we know that
when the Mother's heart had melted, the Father's would not take long
to do so. Besides, the Mother probably wanted Sri Aurobindo to take
up his regular activities as soon as possible. Even for him she would
not make any exception. Her dynamic nature cannot brook too long an
April 24th was then fixed for the Darshan, as it was the day of the
Mother's final arrival in Pondicherry. Thenceforth the April Darshan
became a permanent feature. The date well suited the professors and
students, since it fell within the span of the summer holidays. But
the darshan time had to be changed from the morning to the afternoon
and it would be a darshan in the true sense of the word. For the devotees
would simply come and stand for a brief while before the Mother and
the Master, have their darshan and quietly leave. Sri Aurobindo tersely
remarked, "No more of that long seven-hour darshan!"
Formerly the Darshan was observed with a great ceremonial pomp. Starting
at about 7.30 a.m., it ran with one breathing interval, up to 3 p.m.
The devotees offered their garlands and flowers, did two, even three
or four pranams to the Mother and the Master who remained glued to
one place throughout the ordeal, and endured another martyrdom under
this excessive display of bhakti even as Raman Maharshi suffered from
the "plague of prasads". Now, all that was cut down at one
stroke by the force of external circumstances, and all expression
transformed into a quiet inner adoration which is a characteristic
of this Yoga. Sri Aurobindo's accident made the ceremonial Darshan
a thing of past history.
On the eve of the Darshan, the Mother washed Sri Aurobindo's hair
with our help. It was such an elaborate and complicated affair that
had it been left in our hands, it would have ended in confusion, particularly
because it had to be done in the bedroom. Hot and cold water, basins,
soap, powder, etc., etc., had to be kept ready. What a ceremony really,
this washing was! No wonder ladies go in for bob or shingle. Formerly,
Sri Aurobindo, it seems, used to wash his long hair every night, but
I am sure he did without all this paraphernalia. His secluded life
had, of course, simplified the whole complex process. Later on when
a bathroom adjoining his living room was built, washing lost its formidable
character. Sri Aurobindo bore all this torture as a part of the game,
The Darshan day at last! In the morning, the Mother arrived in his
room with a flower, probably a red lotus, knelt before the Lord, placed
the lotus on his bed and bowed down to receive his blessings and his
sweet smile. This was the second time I saw her doing pranam to him.
The first time was on her birthday, February 21. It was a revelation
to me, for I did not expect her to bow down in the Indian way. On
every Darshan day since then I enjoyed the sight. On other days she
used to take his hand and lightly kiss it.
With her customary drive, she chalked out the Darshan programme, the
time for Sri Aurobindo's lunch and of her coming for the Darshan.
We had to be ready and keep the Master ready too. From the early morning
time began to move fast, the Mother was seen rushing about, she had
so many things to attend to! Everything finished, clad in a lovely
sari, a crown adorning her shapely head, looking like a veritable
Goddess, she entered Sri Aurobindo's room with brisk steps, earlier
than the appointed time, as was her wont. She gave a quick glance
at us. We were all attention. The entire group was present, it being
the first Darshan after the accident. She was pleased to find us ready.
Sri Aurobindo was dressed in an immaculate white dhoti, its
border daintily creased, as is the custom in Bengal; a silk chaddar
across his chest and his long shining hair flowing down - a picture
that reminded us of Shiva and Shakti going out to give darshan to
their bhaktas; Sri Aurobindo was in front and the Mother behind. They
sat together as on other Darshan days, she on his right, a glorious
view, and the ceremony began.
It was, however, a simple Darshan. One by one the sadhaks stood for
a brief moment before the One-in-Two, and passed on quietly thrilled
and exalted by their silent look and gracious smile. The feelings
of the sadhaks can be imagined when they saw their beloved Master
restored to his normal health! The Darshan was over within an hour,
and when Sri Aurobindo was back in his room Dr. Rao remarked in his
childlike manner, "Sir, you looked grand at the Darshan!"
Sri Aurobindo smiled and we retorted, just to tease him, "At
other times he doesn't?" Rao, non-plussed, replied, "No,
no, I did not mean that."
Truly, Rao had expressed the sentiments of hundreds of devotees who
had a glimpse of him during the Darshan. What a grandeur and majesty
in his simple silent pose! What a power, as if he held the whole world
in the palm of his hand! If ever a human being could attain the stature
of a god, he was there for all to see and be blessed by. Many have
had a deep change after just one touch of his God-like magnificence.
"A touch can alter the fixed front of Fate." Many had visions
and boons they had long been seeking for, and for the sadhaks each
Darshan was a step to a further milestone towards the Eternal. Sri
Aurobindo had said: "Darshans are periods of great descents!
" It was not for nothing that Hitler chose the 15th of August
for his royal ascension in Buckingham Palace and got the first heavy
blow. Nor was it for nothing that India gained her independence on
that immortal day.
Now that Sri Aurobindo was physically all right, the Mother must find
some work for him too! Most opportunely came a demand from the Arya
Publishing House, Calcutta, for a book from Sri Aurobindo, preferably
The Life Divine. The work had appeared long ago in the
Arya and it could now be published in book form. The Mother
caught hold of the idea and asked for his approval. Sri Aurobindo
wanted to write one or two new chapters. So he set to work. A new
writing table was made and placed in front of him across his bed,
provided with three pens, two pencils and paper. For me it was a moment
of great curiosity to see him at work. We had heard so much about
the silent mind through which ideas, leaping down from above, passed
directly into the pen, that I thought I could now put it to the test;
as if one could see the silent mind as well as the invisible ideas
descending one by one from above the ranges of the mind! At least
I could see how he wrote. Was it at all like us, human beings, scrapping,
There he was, then, sitting on the bed, with his right leg stretched
out. I was watching his movements from behind the bed. No sooner had
he begun than followed line after line as if everything was chalked
out in the mind, or as he used to say, a tap was turned on and a stream
poured down. Absorbed in perfect poise, gazing now and then in front,
wiping the perspiration off the hands - for he perspired profusely
- he would go on for about two hours. The Mother would drop in with
a glass of coconut water. Sometimes she had to wait for quite a while
before he was aware of her presence. Then exclaiming "Ah",
he took the glass from the loving hand, drank it slowly, and then
plunged back into his work! It was a very sweet vision, indeed the
Mother standing quietly by his side with a smile and watching him,
and he forgetful of everything, writing away; then a short exchange
of beatific glances. At the end of the writing, the place where he
sat would be completely drenched - there was so much perspiration
in the summer months. But remarkably free from any odour! We used
to wipe his body and change the bed sheets.
But what shocked me most was when finishing the first chapter, he
asked us to tear it and throw it into the wastepaper basket! It needed
rewriting! I was very much tempted to keep it intact, but that would
be a violation of his order. Champaklal told me that he kept some
of the torn pieces as a souvenir. I noticed what a fine calligraphy
it was with hardly a scratch, almost without a scar or wound. Not
at all like his "correspondence" handwriting which he himself
could not decipher sometimes! We have cut many jokes with him about
his handwriting. Once I wrote, "Sir, will you take the trouble
to mark those portions of your letter that can be shown to others?"
He replied, "Good Lord, sir, I can't do that. You forget that
I will have to try to read my own hieroglyphs. I have no time for
such an exercise. I leave it for others." I do not know if all
great men write in this spotless and spontaneous manner. It seems
he wrote all his seven volumes of the Arya directly on the
How I wished I could one day write at this "aeroplanic speed",
to use Sri Aurobindo's own expression.
However the writing of Savitri was quite a different story.
There he had to "labour", change, chisel, omit, revise;
all this, of course, from a silent mind. Only a few poems like Rose
of God and A God's Labour just came down en bloc
and not a word was changed! The Mother must have been very pleased
to see him resume his activity after the passage through the long
With. the improvement of his health, he began to spend some hours
sitting in a chair and devoting his entire time to spiritual, intellectual
and creative activities. The accident had released him in a drastic
manner from the 8 or 9 hours' labour of "correspondence".
He could now take up the revision of all his major works, one after
another. The first to see the light of day was the first volume of
his magnum opus, The Life Divine. It was the end of 1939, the
year of World War II. The publication of the Arya of which
the Divine Life was the basic theme, started in 1914, the year of
World War I. Can we call these mere coincidences? The two other volumes
came out on the heels of the first one and were extensively rewritten.
He composed many sonnets also. We used to see his pen indefatigably
writing away page after page. We could not know what was being written,
because, except for the sonnets, he passed everything to the Mother.
She received it as a gift from God and sent it on to Prithwi Singh
for typing. Though his eye sight was bad, his typing was so neat and
clean, done with such minute care, that Sri Aurobindo was very pleased
with his work.
So long as Sri Aurobindo could use his own eyes, we had no direct
means of knowing what he was about. Of course, we could sometimes
overhear or he would himself tell us about the topics, how far he
had come, if something new he had added, etc. Purani and Satyendra
were interested in The Life Divine, and the former would try
to fish for some information regarding it. Sometimes Fate or Chance
or even necessity helped us in knowing what the Master was doing.
Srinivasa Iyengar sent his manuscript of Sri Aurobindo's life for
his perusal. Sri Aurobindo began to add to it a substantial portion
about his political life of which none had any authentic knowledge.
He was in the habit of using a small pad called "bloc" manufactured
in France and meant for writing short letters or notes. But as he
used it for, the former purpose, many sheets were needed. He tore
them out of the bloc and tried to pin them together, but because of
their bulk, he failed to do it. Neither would he call for our assistance;
he would go on fumbling. We would enjoy the scene from a distance
till Champaklal, unable to restrain himself, would rush up and take
the awkward business away from him. Thenceforth, recognising his limitations,
perhaps, he waited for Champaklal to do the job. Nolini who knew Sri
Aurobindo's ways from his early days, instructed us not to leave all
these slight material vexations to him. But how to spare him unless
he himself called, was the point! One had to be bold and "open"!
The publication of the first volume of The Life Divine was
a great event and was hailed with delight. From all lips was heard
a jubilant chanting, "The Life Divine is out, The Life
Divine is out." Dara [a Mohammedan disciple] composed
some light verses to celebrate the event, Sri Aurobindo, informed
about it, asked, "What sort of a poem?
Full of wine?"
Purani answered, "Yes, you have caught it. It goes:
The book is out
Let us shout."
There was a rush to buy the book and get Sri Aurobindo's autograph
in the bargain! For a divine policy was announced - whose brain-wave
it was, I do not know - that all buyers would be favoured with the
autograph of the Master. Volume after volume began to pour in with
the names of the buyers appended to them. The names were sometimes
quite long, such as Purushottamdas Thakurdas Chintamani Patil, and
he would ask, "Am I to write all that?" And there were fanciful
spellings to boot! Dates as well! At times the names of the husband
and his wife together! If sometimes a name struck his fancy he would
ask, "Who the devil is he?" or "Who is this Lord Shiva?"
or we would ourselves say that he was so and so. Many were the bhaktas
who could not understand a word of the book but bought it for the
sake of his blessings.
For us sadhaks, who could not afford to buy it, the book was given
free on our birthday, with the autograph added to it. Later all the
books of the Mother and Sri Aurobindo when published, were given to
us according to our needs, on our birthdays. The Mother would ask,
"Do you want any book? Have you got this book?" One wonders
how much money was spent on this; and the custom continues even now,
though in a modified form.
When Vol. III came out, it being the bulkiest, Sri Aurobindo remarked,
"What a fat elephant!" And when they entered the room in
packs and were heaped on the side-couch waiting for the autograph,
they made an impressive herd and thrilled us with joy that The
Life Divine had at last been delivered on this woe-begone
planet of ours! But with the encroaching dimness of his eye-sight,
the Mother stopped the practice of giving autographs altogether.
Another significant event that was shaping itself in 1939 was the
political situation in Europe. Hitler's barking for Lebensraum
had been reverberating throughout the continent for some years
and the war-clouds seemed to be gathering. Sri Aurobindo was watching
the situation closely. In 1938 the war was almost imminent. Sri Aurobindo
told us that "for many reasons war was not favoured at that time",
and it did get stopped, as Sri Aurobindo wished.
We used to hold daily discussions on the fate of the nations, of India
and other dark consequences that would follow in the wake of Hitler's
mad ambition. Chamberlain's "peace mission" failed and within
a year of Sri Aurobindo's accident, the war broke out. We came to
learn from him that England had at last declared war on Germany. He
had learnt it from the Mother who had got the news from Pavitra. There
was then no radio in the Ashram. We shall deal further with the topic
of War in a separate chapter. [chapter 5]
These are the highlights of the first year following the accident.
Sri Aurobindo's leg had now become quite strong, he could walk without
any support. When at the end of the year 1939, Dr. Manilal asked Sri
Aurobindo if the accident had done any good, he replied, "Yes,
I have advanced much further since last November. I have found time
to complete some books. Now I get more time to concentrate!"
Owing to the accident, the Mother's programme also had changed a lot.
She had had to suspend all Pranams and personal interviews with the
sadhaks. But now they were resumed, though in a different form. Old
things as they used to be never come back. I remarked before the
Mother one day, "Now that Sri Aurobindo is all right we shall
soon be packed off!" She heard and gave a broad smile.
The year 1940 found us, on the contrary, firmly established in Sri
Aurobindo's service. He could not dispense with his old medical team.
Life had now taken a definite pattern and ran, with minor variations,
a regular course and our duties were fixed. The years that followed
brought him closer and closer to us at first, then took him farther
away at the end. The interlude will have as its theme the divine event
that had unrolled during the twelve years of our stay with the supreme
I shall begin with his external life.
in "Twelve years with Sri Aurobindo"
Chapter 2- pages 20-40
published by Sri
Aurobindo Ashram - Pondicherry
diffusion by SABDA