“The Mother. An inner story by Auroville pioneers”. Episode with Tapas Bhatt.
In English. Directed by Fred Cebron.
Please find below an essay on The Mother by Tapas. It was earlier published in a compilation
“DARSHAN: Remembering Sweet Mother and Sri Aurobindo”, SAIIER 2006, p 187.
Everything Happened around the Mother’s Movements and Her Timetable
The life at the Sri Aurobindo Ashram was a unique experience. To be a student in the Ashram School from my early age of four is a special privilege to be educated under the direct guidance of the Mother.
How did I happen to be there in the year 1956 with my parents, older sister Chetana, my younger brother Manan and my grandfather Dr.Becharlal Bhatt?
Short background of my family
Dadaji, as I used to call my grandfather was already connected to Sri Aurobindo and the Mother’s Yoga from many many years. He had first met Sri Aurobindo in Baroda and later joined the Ashram in Pondicherry around 1928. He served as a doctor in the Dispensary and as one of the attendants to Sri Aurobindo in his room, when He could not walk anymore because of his injured foot. My father known as Vibhu visited and stayed at the Ashram several years from his young age of 15 onwards.
My first childhood memories begin from 1956 when I joined the Ashram school. The first language we learnt was French and the Mother’s prayers. The images that remain fresh in my heart and mind are those of the early mornings of Mother’s Darshan at the Balcony, the School, daily evening meetings with the Mother at the playground where She would offer us little gifts which I used to receive with lots of joy and excitement.
Later on, the regular Darshan Days, and our special individual Birthday meetings with the Mother in her living room.
Everything happened around the Mother’s movements and her timetable. Our life was organized by Her for our school classes and sports. The Physical spaces known to us were: the main Ashram building, with its two balconies where Sri Aurobindo and the Mother lived; the Tennis-ground, the Playground, the Ocean, the Beach and the canal road of Pondicherry that divided the town into two distinct areas of life and atmosphere. This was my whole universe.
The early morning waking up, rushing out of the house with a neem-stick in the mouth towards the Ashram Balcony to see the Mother. Then, my sister and I would run to the Beach for a swim, secretly sneaking out from the crowd. Every evening we met the Mother again at the Playground. We would be waiting in line impatiently to receive Her blessings and some sweets from Her. My father had to run behind us to catch us. In the evening at the playground, after the sports, I remember the long line where I stood impatiently waiting for my turn to receive Mother’s Blessings and the gift. Our sports captain’s job was to supervise us and maintain the silence while waiting. Sometimes, even during the sports, the Mother would be around, watching us and talking to the captains.
1962-1975 – Life at the school
My parents had taken us back to Gujarat for some reason where we stayed about four to five years and then in 1962 we were brought back to the Pondicherry Ashram School. The Mother had accepted us again. I was then 10 years old. The two shifts of places and schools, the change of life style, atmosphere and the education system left an impact on us. Even the languages: being taught first in French, then the shift to learning everything in Gujarati in Gujarat, and then again back to French, English, Gujarati and Sanskrit at the Ashram School. It was indeed a great joy to be back in the Mother’s school. The evolution that took its own turn and gave shape to our life’s vision came indeed directly from the Mother’s guidance, love, Grace and Her day to day involvement in our growth, our aspiration, our dreams, our joy to learn everything that we wished to do in the school, the additional curriculum activities such as regular daily sports, weekly activities of ballet, theatre, piano, painting, tennis, Indian dance and music, languages, films, cycling, the special Christmas days, the Darshan Days, the Birthday special private meetings with the Mother, holidays, the dance and theatre performances. For everything and every decision/ step, we consulted Her and sought her permission.
Our life was kept busy all the time, throughout the day, right from early morning at 6 AM. All the activities in which I took part, I did with full discipline, joy and interest. I did have my moods of revolt and irritation, especially when I wished to see a country side sun-set landscape outside Pondicherry town, I could never go as I had to attend, in a compulsory manner the physical education activities on a daily basis from 4.30 to 7 PM. The best part was: we had no exams or heavy home-works to do at home. The experiment the Mother tried out at the Free Progress Section of the school was to allow a child to grow in freedom with a sense of responsibility of oneself while being in a well organized frame-work of school discipline. It is an experience which has left such a deep impact on me, that it feels like I have never left that school, and I am always thirsty for knowledge that can help me to grow constantly, both inwardly and outwardly. It seemed like a life of Paradise on Earth, in Spirit and in Matter.
The Auroville connection right from its inception
Around the period of 1965-1968, Roger Anger used to visit our Free Progress classes after visiting the Mother. Tanmay-da, (Late Ashram Member and Teacher/Director of the Free Progress System), would ask him to talk to us about Auroville. Roger Anger would then give us big white sheets of paper and drawing pencils, requesting us to use our imagination and mind to draw the Ideal city of Auroville as we would dream, design specially the center of Auroville. From this point onwards, we were later taken to the Auroville site, a space of barren red earth, blue sky and the ocean, traveling in a small bus on sandy roads, making new ones for the future city of Auroville. It was already then a feeling of great adventure, joy and fun to work together and dirty our hands in the red earth under the blue sky and sunny days.
28th February 1968, the Inauguration Day and the becoming of an Aurovilian
A week before the 28th of February’68, I had the privilege to go everyday to Auroville with Roger Anger and his team, to prepare the ground work for the opening day. There was a little water pond near the Banyan tree in which I joined the Tamil local village women to draw different colorful Kolams and return late evening at Pondicherry. I was fortunate to be selected by our Ashram School authorities to be one of the representatives of the absent countries : Syria: with another male student of the same school, we were to hold the banner of Syria’s name and a bowl of earth, symbolizing the human unity, pour it in the central Urn which stands in the middle of the Amphitheatre of the Matrimandir Gardens.
The Ceremony was indeed a grand, special and unique experience. More than five thousand people, children and adults, men and women coming from all over the world, gathered around the Urn, a delegation of 121 countries were represented, each one with its banner and bowl of earth/or salt from its respective country. My parents, my two sisters and brothers too. Chetana, my older sister represented Panama.The Ashram members had done a wonderful job of organising and planning every detail under the direct instruction of the Mother. It truly felt like the Vision of the Dream of Auroville that Mother aspired to realize for the humanity and allow every human being to take part in this adventurous unknown path that She called the City of Dawn: Auroville.
Today, Auroville is 36 years old. It has evolved and grown into a beautiful paradise of greenery, birds, children and adults of different colors and cultures. After I completed my Education in 1975, my next logical step was to join Auroville. But it took me two years to make that decision while trying out first other options, such as experiencing voluntary work in the Ashram Departments such as SABDA, later secretarial work under the Guidance of Dr.Chamanlal Gupta, and short-term training in Pottery at the Golden Bridge, with Ray and Deborah. I even tried going out for higher studies in Banaras and Baroda and in the US. But it turned out that my urge to join Auroville was stronger. The Mother gave me all the inner strength despite the resistance felt from the Ashram and my family ! So I joined on 1st November 1977. The inner call was strong enough to confront a new life, adventurous, challenging and difficult. The rupture with my family was painful but my inner link to the Mother and to my family grew stronger and evolved at another level.
After joining and plunging into the intense experiences of collective life of the first fifteen years, the Mother helped me to grow, evolve and learn news ways of dealing with life, discover freedom and my own individuality. How to become a perfect instrument for the Goal of Auroville and realize Her Dream and my Dream ? A great challenge to live the Integral Yoga indeed, and the becoming of an Aurovilian is still in its process of permanent search. A long way to go with full faith in the Mother.
So many people have received Her Call to come and try to realize Her Dream through their daily actions and activities, aspiring to become the ideal instruments for the Divine Will alone and build the City of the Future, live in Harmony, Peace, Beauty for a transformed and Divine life one day. The Mother has willed this City from the highest level of Consciousness and no doubt it will exist despite us, despite our little and big obstacles, resistances. She is always present in our midst to help us grow, learn and make the surrender of ourselves to merge in Her Consciousness and live through Her Vision alone.
Om Namo Bhagavate