The Iron Chain

A talk given to the students of the Higher Course of the Sri Aurobindo International Centre of Education on October 27, 1977

How many of you have been here since the beginning, I mean from the kindergarten classes — any? One, two, three, four — oh, a good many! Very creditable, very creditable indeed, that so many have continued so long and passed through. This is really something creditable.

I will tell you a story in this connection. A young man who was an aspirant, a seeker of spiritual or religious life, once upon a time went to Gandhiji. He wanted to remain there. He said, “I am a seeker of spiritual life. I want to remain with you.” Gandhiji saw the person and accepted him. “It is all right, you may try,” he said. The young man remained there some time, a pretty long time, perhaps even a year. But at the end of the year he approached Gandhiji and said, “Please permit to go away from here. Somehow I feel I cannot remain any longer.” Then he went away and came here to the Ashram. The Ashram he liked very much and remained here. After some years Gandhiji thought of the young man. “Where is he? He was a nice man. Where has he gone?” Then he learned that the young man was here in Sri Aurobindo Ashram. How many years? “Seven years!” Gandhiji was astounded. “How is it? I know the young man. I know he was a restless person, so uncertain about himself, about his movements — he could not stick to one place or one occupation for long. And he has been in Sri Aurobindo Ashram for seven years! It is a great credit to Sri Aurobindo Ashram for being able to keep him so long!” And I may add: he is still here! So I may say that those of you who have continued to remain here may claim some credit for your performance, or does the credit go to the Ashram?

I have an idea. You have heard very much of the golden chain that the Mother puts on whoever comes near her and touches her — an unbreakable eternal chain we all have known and experienced, the golden chain with which she ties everyone who comes in her embrace. Now I feel she has another chain also in her wallet — a chain with handcuffs and fetters — with which she binds some people physically to her, to her material presence. She also takes up the physical destiny of the person. The golden chain belongs of course to the soul, which is eternal, beautiful and glorious; this is another matter. Bur even the very body, this material carcass, can belong equally to the Mother. With the golden chain you are the beloved of the Mother, or her lover, but with the iron chain you become her physical slave.

Yes, I am trying to hint that those who have been here for long, many from their infancy, have earned a particular merit: from the spiritual point of view this continuance, this continuity, is itself something significant; it is an achievement. Even if you do not pass any examination — that is, move up, promoted from class to class after a hard test — even if you simply glide through, pass along ambling and at ease, that is sufficient. There is something that remains; something very valuable sticks to the consciousness. You may not be aware of it now, but one day you are sure to know and recognise it. So I congratulate you all for your happy achievement which is indeed the sign of her signal Grace.

 

The Two Chains of the Mother

A talk given to the students of the Higher Course of the Sri Aurobindo International Centre of Education on October 25, 1978

Well, I have talked a lot in my rather long life, have I not? I have talked a good deal, and written much more. All that forms now my Collected Works: eight volumes in English and as many volumes in Bengali.

All of you are leaving our Centre of Education, a Centre where you have been for so many years. To complete your course and come out of the Centre, it’s all

 

right; but to go where? It seems you have already come to a decision; there are many amongst you who have made their choice. That’s good, for it means choosing one’s life.

I want to tell you only one thing: you are going out, but wherever you go, you carry something within you, something that is permanent and eternal since the

 

beginning of the world. I have sometimes spoken of the golden chain of the Mother; I have said too that Mother has two chains, one of gold and the other of iron. These two chains are your eternal companions; wherever you may go, you will carry these two with you. You are bound to the Mother for ever — for ever, be sure of that. It’s the prop of your life, it’s your aspiration. These are not chains of bondage but chains of freedom and entire satisfaction. You may ask: “What are these chains of gold and of iron?” The golden chain is in your soul and the iron one is in your body. The body, your body, is also bound to the Mother, to her Presence and Influence. “Body” means not only the material body, but the subtle physical body, the inner body. Now, the imprint of the Mother’s Presence you carry in this subtle physical body. You may not always be aware of it, but this makes no difference, none at all.

Here I may refer to something pertinent. One day someone went to see the Mother on his birthday; it was our Prithwi Singh. Now Prithwi Singh, who was blind, plaintively said to the Mother, “Mother, here I am, so near to you; it’s my birthday, a day so nice and precious to me, but I cannot see you, for I am blind in both of my eyes.” Then the Mother answered, “What does that matter? You cannot see me but I am seeing you.”

And this is always so. You cannot see it with your physical eyes, but the Mother’s look is always upon you, her look of love and protection: be sure and certain of that. You carry that within you for all time and wherever you go, wherever in the entire world. You carry in you a portion, a spark of her Love; and that will save you from many difficulties, from much danger. If you can keep that in your active memory, it will be still more beneficial. That’s all.

 

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