An interview with Santosh ben (Gupta) by Narad, recorded in 2014. In memory of Santosh ben, who has left us today, September 30, 2018.
INTERVIEW 1 (2014)
Narad: Today is the first day of March 2014. The first day of spring in Russia and we are very honored to have Santosh with us and to hear from her own lips many of her experiences. Santosh, welcome. How did you first hear about Mother and Sri Aurobindo?
Santosh: So far as I remember, I was in 6th class when I started reading their literature. Some books were there in our house and at that very age I never felt that I didn’t understand anything. It was all as if it was known to me before, so that was my experience in the 6th class when I was at the age of about 12 years. And then I continued, when I came to 8th class and Sri Aurobindo left is body in 1950 and I got the news in the school itself. I remember still that day that I went into a corner and wept bitterly. Not knowing what happened to me but I was telling myself there was only one place in the world where I could go now. Where will I go?
Narad: Santosh where were you going to school at that time? Where were you in school?
Santosh: That was in Haryana Ambala Cant
Narad: Ok and you were 12 years old when you heard that SA had left his body.
Santosh: And I cried bitterly, that where will I go now? There was only place in the world where I thought to go. I didn’t know about Mother at that time. Although I read her books, but I thought probably after his leaving there won’t be any ashram or any such arrangement that you could go there. So I cried, anyhow time passed, I did my matriculation. Then after passing my intermediate it so happened that my elder sister was in some center of Mother and Sri Aurobindo, I went there in my holidays and from there the manager of that ashram came to Pondy, so I came along with him. I had an urge inside that I had to go.
Narad: What year was this?
Santosh: Hmmm that will be
Narad: Early fifties
Santosh: Yeah early fifties, about 52 maybe 53. When I came here it was 55 first time when I came. So I decided to at that time Mother’s permission was necessary for any darshan whosoever wanted to come. So it was granted and I came without telling my father that I am leaving. While boarding the train I just put a post card that I am going. He was shocked naturally. Young girl, but anyway I had a deep urge for seeing Mother coming to the ashram. And the first meeting with the Mother I can tell just tell you. That is still, till now it is so much thrilling for me. That I still remember with gratitude what she had given me at that time. First we had balcony darshan in the morning when we reached and then in the evening playground face to face. Somebody gave me flowers, that when you are going you can do pranam today, take this flower. And I didn’t know anything, to bow down or how to offer flowers even. I kept it in the pocket and went to the Mother and when I wanted to give, I just took it out and she was smiling. It was not the way of course but she didn’t say, but she taught me how to give and how to receive. She put her gown like this you know. And then I had to give like this. And the way she looked and even then I didn’t bow down because I was constantly looking at her. Then when I left, a line was there behind me, two three steps ahead I went I felt somebody pulled me by a rope. I turned it was she who was looking and who me by her looks. I came back and then she held both my hands and started gazing, I don’t know how much time lapsed but she opened she awakened my soul within and I could see my real mother in front of me after many many many births. That was my first meeting with the Mother.
Narad: Then you went upstairs to have interview with her.
Santosh: I talked very little with Mother, because always she gave me from within everything. It’s a very little correspondence of talk with the mother, but whenever I went or in dreams or otherwise when I prayed or meditated always from within I got the answers. And that’s why even after her withdrawal I don’t feel her physical absence. She is still with me every moment. She is always there a constant presence a constant grace a constant protection that I always feel. In such a big span of life 75 years I never feel lonely, never feel helpless. Never feel unprotected even my recent operations, 6 operations I had and I had the unique experience for each operation. How she was with me so much so that ultimately in my, this brain operation doctor had to say who did not know anything about the ashram about me first time we met. It is not the operation that I did, somebody has made me to do this. When the doctor could feel, three doctors, they still come here after that. They are in contact. Started reading, one doctor said, senior most doctor, you have changed the course of my life. It was not you who was standing before us it was Mother who was standing. We saw mother in you. First she gives you the, not only feeling not only a perception but a clear experience that she is with us.
Narad: So you were 17 roughly when you came to the ashram. When did you settle in the ashram?
Santosh: Settled in 1958 at the age of 20. And before that of course I was quiet sure about myself from within about my decision also but I had to reply to my parents who were pressing me to come back. But once for all if I could say something categorically to them, then I asked mother. And I didn’t ask, we used to go to mother daily in the playground; I just wrote a line on a slip I didn’t know the envelope or how to give the letter also I just wrote on a slip of paper just only one line and that is, “What particular mission have you assigned for me Mother, will you tell me.” And she read in front of me and nodded her head like that to go. So I thought probably she doesn’t want to or she may give the answer afterwards. Next day also I waited no reply she looked at me she gave as usual not replied. Third day also passed and then I also forgot that probably she doesn’t want to give. Fourth day unexpectedly she caught hold of my hands. “You know English?” I was intermediate at that time, passed it. I said “Yes mother.” Then she said very emphatically holding my hands, holding with her eyes. “The only mission in life, in your life is to serve the divine.” That was all, and she blessed me she asked me to like this so I understood this is the answer for me, final answer for me. So I could reply to my parents. And then while going, when I asked, and I told her and that also and that also not with words, I went I just prayed to her, call me back soon and she said, she understood without telling and she said yes and she called me within a year, next year, I stayed on.
Narad: And your parents were accepting?
Santosh: In the beginning yes, but they came also afterwards, then my father said, now I am seeing the place I am now at least, I have no worries, only thing is we cannot come so far often to see you but I am at least not worried now. With mother also quite impressed and all that. Then my father put the question to me, you are so young, I was twenty only. You have accepted Mother it’s all right, you adore her it’s all right, but after mother? He asked me at that very time. Because in Indian families first father then husband, then son, somebody is there to look after isn’t it? So life, runs like that. But now as you don’t want to marry? What do you think of your future? So then I asked my father, it’s all right you are thinking in those terms, but as you know we are not going to marry even if we don’t stay there we are not going to marry. What will happen if you are not there? Have you ever thought of that? And Mother we have accepted as god in the form of god by our experience not by anybody’s telling or saying. That was the most decisive point for us. We always went with our feeling, not with anybody’s saying and as you are worried that you think she is god everybody is aware, what will happen then? Then I said in that young age without any much experience what I replied to him is “Mother is like an air flowing everywhere, you cannot catch that air in a glass, in a bottle and say only this is Mother, nowhere else mother. So we must take mother god in that way. She is ever present, she is everywhere, even if she leaves physically it’s not for us that she is away from us. Then he said, “So now I am assured that you have chosen in a very right way a right path.
Narad: You told me you had some special remembrances and experiences with Mother. Can you share any of those with us?
Santosh: The first thing that I asked from the Mother about the mission of my life, you know. Three days she took me to answer it as I told you
Santosh: In those three days at home in my room I could see Mother all the time always around me. Looking me searching me from everywhere. Even from the body! She was probing, I could feel and it was very delightful thing and she was doing it. And what automatically spontaneously came from within the lines of Mira bai bhajan, a song,? “mane chakar rakho ji” ? that is, keep me as your slave. That was the line that came out and that is what she replied after three days. Isn’t it an experience of love?
Narad: Yes yes.
Santosh: The same way she replied to serve the divine. So more and more I was assured that I am right, what I am choosing what I am doing what I am deciding.
Narad: What work did mother give you in the Ashram?
Santosh: Well when I sent my photograph for the permission to stay here, Ravindra-Ji told. Seeing the photograph she told Ravindra-ji from photograph she looks like a teacher. But don’t give her teaching work. Give her some more useful work, as if teaching is not so useful. So naturally all the teachers who were asking for me for a Hindi teacher, so they were disappointed. And then Ravindra-ji with her permission, with her sanction gave me in the press, ashram press, in the Hindi section. And this I can just point it out to you, that when she said more useful work, that I am realizing now after 55 years what for she said so. At that time I was an apprentice to learn all the work of the proof reading and printing books and now I am the in charge of that section and learnt everything. But now on my own independently I am doing translation now with the proof reading. Translation revising also, previous translations revision of that and independently some translation also. And that is, has become so useful that I still remember Her so gratefully that what work you have given to me. This work has sustained me during all my illness of these five years which I have undergone five operations. And while the brain work after the brain operation in these five years I have finished Mother’s fifteen volumes of division of translation.
Narad: Oh my goodness!
Santosh: And that’s my joy, with joy but she has made of me.
Arvind: In which language?
Santosh: Hindi. So every moment is memorable with the Mother, what we spend, what we breathe, what we say, what we do was full of Her that’s what I can say.
Narad: Santosh, not many people have spoken to us about a dear friend of mine and yours Ambu. Could you tell us some stories about Ambu?
Santosh: Somehow when I came here before staying, for three times, two times I came before staying here permanently. I was attending his Savitri classes. He used to take for visitors, so I used to attend those classes. And somehow as I told you this literature never was foreign to me. I always understood every, each and every word of Mother and Sri Aurobindo and that Ambu-bhai noted in his classes and he inspired me also and I liked him also too much and I got his blessings also, many a times. And after that I worked with him also, I typed his correspondence, when he went outside and foreign world tour after his English friends and American friends he used to correspond, that I took up the job of typing his letters and through that I learnt much. What he used to write. Feeling was another thing but this was outwardly what I learnt much and then I studied Savitri also personally, when he was sick, he couldn’t take classes. I used to go him at night and study for half an hour. But individually he took the pains so much. But apart from all that what I got from him is, he had the power as Mother use to give us through her eyes, he had also that some power. He used to awaken that thing, that aspiration in you whenever I used to go to him. But the most wonderful thing was in-spite of doing that, he was doing it silently, without telling, without letting you know that he is doing anything. He cured me also many times from my illness whenever I told him. That power he had, but he never showed it, he never claimed it and he always turned us towards Mother not towards him, otherwise people have the ego of I am something that was the most wonderful thing about him I kept, I felt and I knew he is not for that, he always turned us towards Mother. And while leaving going out for the world tour for the first time, when I went to him for pranam, saying goodbye, for the first time then he uttered, ? sadhana me pragati karo, ?(progress in your sadhana) that was his blessing. But he loved me too much, in-fact I received from him, I like guardian, like a parent, like a friend and I hardly lived with him seven years, 58 I came 65 he left his body. And six months before he left I had the feeling he is withdrawing. Still that inner relation that is the very beautiful thing with the inner relations, you don’t feel the pangs of separation. You don’t feel the sorrow of separation but you see the person on some other level. Not only memories, not only guidance but constant presence with you as we had Mother and Sri Aurobindo. That reverence for him never left, I still revere him, it is not a sorrowful reverence, remembrance, it’s a very very joyful whenever I remember.
Narad: I wanted to ask…
Santosh: And he had the power to cure also. For instance, when he went to our place my brother, eldest brother, came to receive him at the station. He had asthma at that time and he didn’t tell anything he came home chatted, they had dinner and all that but he was observing that he had got trouble. He didn’t say anything as usual as was his way he did silently whatever he wanted to. At night while sleeping, going to sleep, my brother felt no, this is absolutely gone, he couldn’t believe it. But believe me in his whole lifetime he never had the second attack of asthma. That was Ambu-bhai.
Narad: I remember especially how joyous Ambu was…
Santosh: Yes, always bubbling, always bubbling.
Narad: Yes yes yes, I’d like to ask you about balcony darshans? Because you must have gone to balcony darshans for so many years? Can you say a little bit about that?
Santosh: That’s a very nice experience if you are not getting late.
Narad: Oh no, we have lots of time.
Santosh: As I told you in our childhood or in our family we never had worship or rituals or anything like that our family was like that, we never knew anything. Whatever I had whatever I did or whatever I achieved it was all from within and from Mother, she showed me everything. So balcony darshan, I still remember I used to sleep late at night, because Mother had given me eight hours work and I was tired also, night at 11 o clock I used to reach home. I had no clock when I came here, but I used to tell her that wake me up before balcony darshan. I used to sleep and she used to come at six o clock and wake me up can you imagine that how much work she had to do for us. And after getting up just washed and rushed. I never missed balcony darshan. I used to stand just below the balcony in front of her eyes. As heart full of devotion as I could. One day I felt as she looked from above at me as if a lotus in the heart started opening, this was my experience at that time. And after that all the devotion all the adoration.??? And I use to come to meditation hall after balcony darshan, I was absolutely daily it was used to be, how to meditate she taught me, after that I couldn’t get up. It was so naturally spontaneous. So one day in dream also she came when I was asking for the peace how to feel it, how to have the descent of peace I used to pray to her and she came in the dream you know. And what she did? I am sitting as if here on my head she put her head topsy-turvy like that both the heads meeting. And she drilled, she drilled my head and went inside at least six inches deep as if she went on and it was such a nice experience, full of bliss. So I thought today I will write at least to her what has happened but no, when I came to balcony she gave such a recognition, such a smile that I knew everything what I had done. And after that when I came to meditation hall, for half an hour it was a nice bird putting on my head. The descent of peace I could feel that day I could know that day what is descent of peace. That is how in balcony she used to give within ten minutes to thousands of people, each whatever he wanted. Is it not a miracle? Is it possible for a human being? Just by seeing, that also from a distance, all together at a time and to everybody according to his need, and that is not physical that is something more responsible for a Guru. To awaken him from within. That was her work. Can’t we accept her as a God we are bound to. She has seen our lives. And then I am relating, means relaying this experience to you, somebody from Golconde they approached Mother, that we want for one hour the gate duty if she can do it, I came new, so everybody was trying to take me for the work. So they wanted that I should go and, after the balcony darshan, six thirty to seven thirty, if I can go and sit there at the gate for duty. Mother didn’t ask me physically no body asked me physically but she came in my dream in the ashram itself when I was standing near the staircase, this first staircase opposite Samadhi, she held me like this, like a friend, and said looking at me, “would you like to work in Golconde?” and I spontaneously said, “no Mother, not with the present work”, I was already fully busy whole day, “no Mother”. She smiled and said “oh, yes, yes okay,” and she after just patting me left. And she gave the reply to the people who wanted me without telling me anything from any side. Then after few days I heard. Yes it was done actually, they tried, they approached Mother and what Mother had said that is important for me because I had seen in the dream what happened, but then she replied to them ” no, she won’t it is her time for meditation” so one could say that she was interested not in our big big things or big big experiences or in our big big sadhana part of it, she was interested for each of us in every detail. And that she knew everything without telling anything or asking me anything physically she would reply on my behalf. So whatever I got in my life, I got from within directly from her not, no interviews, no letters, just blessing or birthday blessings or going to her, doing Pranam and everything but I; because I have always got the answer without asking so personally.
Narad: You and I we were both here when Mother left her body. Can you speak about that day?
Santosh: That would bring tears to my eyes. Again, she gave me a wonderful thing which really upheld me, sustained me. Her body was laid down in the meditation hall on the couch you know that probably all of you. You used to go for darshan any number of times whenever we feel we can join the line and have the darshan so three days just continued like that, we didn’t go home also we sat there itself, that was another story. But one thing I can tell you, whenever I went for darshan I saw Mother’s different different postures. This nobody will believe. Sometimes face this side, sometimes face that side sometime straight. So all those three days I saw her in different positions. So it was not easy for me to believe that she has left. And when they were bringing her in the coffin I felt like from within that I should stop them. Anyway, I didn’t do anything just went on with the open eyes I went on seeing her feeling her. And then I saw her golden radiant body, it was nothing else, no blood, nothing else, all the veins even were full of light and it was flowing like that. That golden body I have seen. The Mother, and that golden body it had its warmth, it had its peace, tremendous peace, indescribable peace, the impact it has left seeing that body itself only. Then I asked her, when you have achieved so much, when you have done so much why did you leave? What was the necessity to leave the body when you could transform it so much? So much it was that when I got up after, all this ceremony I thought I am also transformed such was the impact why did you leave and then she said, “It was not enough, something more was necessary I still have to make abridge.” And with that she gave me the inner solace. Most probably experience like this happened to Madhav-ji also. He wrote afterwards in that same lines it was, so I could corroborate my experience also with that. It’s not an imagination of anybody.
Narad: Did you know him well also?
Santosh: Not well, but I went through him to Mother, when I approached to stay here. That contact of secretarial all that was there but not otherwise. But I use to respect him revere him.
Santosh: Not much, I had much with Ambu-bhai little Amrita-da, and Pavitra-da not much but sometimes he used to talk. From Pavitra-da we could feel always that he is such a direct channel from the Mother, that we won’t say anything mixing with it from his own side. He used to convey everything like as if Mother is telling you that is the most thing, you could feel it from his eyes, you could feel it from his words. And if you are little troubled or restless or something like that, you have some problem you get solace from him. This much contact only I had with him. Otherwise all the seniors sadhaks and members they are all our Guru bhais and prospectful (respectful) Mother’s children.
Narad: One last question about the ashram the atmosphere here in those early days.
Santosh: I am not so early, but I am lucky to have seen or felt both the phases in the ashram. That is again my personal feeling. When I came in 55 for the first time, I was only 17 years old and what I could feel at that time that Mother had full control of everything in her own hands. Everything was centralized each and every detail she had the control. From the finances, from the ashram management, from the running of the ashram to her other responsibilities, sadhana, everything she had the full control like that. But when I came in 57 in those 2 years I could feel the difference. Then I felt she had left the, like that, to different persons to the management, different management the central thing was not there, she distributed that. This I could feel very clearly so along with that naturally some differences will be there. Differences can be outwardly from the management point of view but this much I can say that I never felt difference, the basic inner thing if you are sincere if you are following it yourself. Atmosphere may be little diluted you may find it little difficult to concentrate as before but it is not gone. Ashram has not changed on those lines and it will remain so because that much sadhana Mother and Sri Aurobindo have done for us they have established the consciousness so much that nobody can tarnish that even in-spite of all this present drama. Whenever we feel near Samadhi really I feel like that sometimes, Samadhi is like a Yajna, flames are coming up and up and up, whosoever comes including all ourselves also whatever we throw in it like Ahuti Sri Aurobindo is there to burn it up and exhaust. He is still going on continually exhausting our errors our stumbling out (our) faults everything and then takes us up, this is my feeling.
Narad: I don’t think I we have anything to say after that except perhaps maybe you could say to young people who are seeking a few words. Who have not met Mother, who have just perhaps begun reading Sri Aurobindo and Mother.
Santosh: If they have not met Mother, they couldn’t have come here. Who has brought them here not you and I. That inside soul of everybody the moment it’s awakened by anything, by any influence, by any word, by any reading, by any scripture, by any following. Whosoever is awakened he will know for what he has come, where he has to go, and what he has to do. So nobody comes here, just that he came, he may not be able to stay that is another thing, he may not be very clear about his future about his aim and all that about himself so clearly in the beginning it can happen. But nobody comes herein just like that, just by chance no I don’t think. And I never leave hope when I see little children on Samadhi and sometimes some children see their eyes their feeling. Some children cry entering ashram and some children drag their parents inside to come they don’t want to go out. What is this? Who teaches them? Who asks them? So I am not despaired about the younger generation. It is her work it’s god’s work when she has created it, she will take care of us, each of us. And one day everybody has to go on this path today or tomorrow each is destined to follow the path. And he has given such a diversity that cannot predict his ways.
Narad: Arvind would like to ask a question.
Arvind: When you have been to Mother on your birthdays several times, can you speak something about that?
Narad: About birthdays
Arvind: Going to Mother on your birthdays and Mother giving you card.
Santosh: Everything is too personal and I don’t object to my sharing but then you may not feel that I am only talking about myself it is not myself but I want to tell is that how Mother used to work on us, that’s my main purpose of telling all these things. As you asked for my birthday, yes it was many times every year till she was seeing birthday people. Just one incident, like a story it may look but it was for me very deep. When I went to her for the first time in that interview room, birthdays I had before also but interview room it was the first time after the 63. I wanted to have, to offer garland, jasmine garland but I heard that nowadays Mother doesn’t wear it. But I had the wish to put in her neck. So hearing that also I took it, that garland. I gave it to her and she was little. ? jaise hota hai na non plus ho jana. She used to keep everybody’s garland whosoever brought on the arm of the chair, roll it like this, keep it like this, isn’t it. So that garland also she was going to put on the arm chair but somehow it didn’t go there. I took two photographs of Mother and Sri Aurobindo for the first time I hadn’t, so I took new photographs and took for her blessings so that I can take from her hand and then keep it framed. it is still there in my room. Those photographs were in her lap, like this, and that garland instead of going there went on the photograph. Nicely sat on her robe and she looked at me and smiled so mischievously that she knew that what was in my mind and she has done it. And she didn’t show it that she has done it consciously. But the way she smiled she made me felt that yes I knew what you wanted.
Arvind: One more question. Many people used to ask questions to Mother whenever they faced problem. So in your case you always got the answer from within.
Santosh: Most of the time, most of the time.
Arvind: So you never felt like asking Mother.
Santosh: No. no, always she answered me. If we go personally that time also without telling me anything she answered and if you didn’t go, the days were there not regularly when we were not going regularly she came in dream. So much so that I used to have very severe headaches when I joined the ashram and I had not the habit of working so much 8 hours, 10 hours. So severe headache and especially I had to go press walking from far of distance so always I used to vomit in the afternoon before going, so much it was troubling me. And then I prayed to her “what is this, I want to serve you and this doesn’t allow me to serve you well and thinking that, praying that after my lunch when I came home I spread the mat lay down on it. Immediately after my eyes are closed and I felt somebody has entered the room, but I didn’t open my eyes. Whosoever comes at this hour let him go I won’t open. Then I felt from the door to up to this mat she came sat near my head put the hand on my head even then, although I felt so nice that hand, that touch, but I didn’t open my eyes.
Arvind: So it was like a physical touch.
Santosh: Haan, bilkul mujhe mathe par laga aise aise haath dabaya hai kisine. Aur mujhe bahut accha laga woh touch. ? But I didn’t open my eyes. And I prayed once more, I am telling him, that hand that once more and she pressed again. And went like this taking the full round of my mat and went out, I just felt all that without opening my eyes and slept and got up and that headache was not there and after that it didn’t trouble me like that anymore.
Narad: One last question, because we have kept you a long time. Did you ever see Sri Aurobindo in your dreams?
Santosh: No, no. Not in that way as I saw Mother. But the other way the inner experience I get his presence his answers also at times, that is there, I could feel him. But not in such a concrete way that I can tell now.
Narad: Santosh, Mother has blessed us by your coming.
Santosh: Thank you, it is nice to remember her, to live those moments, to be with her.
Arvind: So I want to tell you about the transformation of the body, the Superman, coming of the new race. So you feel that Mother is working everywhere in the world and some new things are coming up, that changes are happening.
Santosh: Certainly, certainly. Feeling also but otherwise also if you see, even from Russia I have this article from there 3 people have done that you can recreate your cells and the full article is that with that, the method they got is direct from within and they have experimented on themselves and now they have generalized it and found out the ways we can do. And in that they have said a very powerful force is entering the planet. And they are not spiritual Yogis they are scientists and doctors. They are feeling that, so what about us? We can say only with our feelings but they are doing something physically they are proving something physically. Otherwise also, personally I am very very sure.
Arvind: So how many years will it take place, when it will happen?
Santosh: Arvind, years are very relative our time conception is very very limited these bigger things, these things of cosmos they should be taken in that perspective, so view of time is very limited. One thinks that they should finish one year or two years like that no. It may take some hundred years but definitely it has, the speed of nature is definitively expedited. Mush more expedited than people can think of even, that much is sure. For us it is not now open allow it to work in us. Just pray nothing else she has made things so simple that’s what I feel now even for the physical body, for our own body. It will not be a transformation you know. But we can still cure so many things, just by opening. She had made it very easy, you are not to do anything you just allow me to pass.