Victoire à la Douce Mère! Vande Mataram!
Loud and clear rang his voice as we halted after the March-past, and all of us, our blood tingling, repeated Vande Mataram three times, and each time the salute to our Motherland and to our divine Mother grew more powerful. On every Darshan day and on the 2nd of December, Mona-da’s commanding voice inspired us to march or perform with more vigour and perfection in front of the Mother. We remember Mona-da, the captain. Always spick and span, his posture and gait soldier-like; his sharp look and crisp commands whipped us into being smart and strong as we marched. And when we were in the younger group and did vaulting, he removed all fear in us as he stood at the spotter’s place, and we jumped or vaulted freely, knowing he would not let us fall or get hurt.
He was the captain for the young men’s group, group ‘C’ as it was called then. There are stories galore about their adventures. Whenever the Mother wanted young people to do something for her she would tell Mona-da, and he would be ready with his battalion of boys to accomplish the Mother’s wish. Among many incidents, one comes to my mind — the building of the room for Parikshit-da, a member of his group. The Mother wanted her boys to construct it. Mona-da and his team took up the task and completed the work.
Mona-da conducted the 2nd December
programme at the Sports Ground
We grew up with the Mother’s assurance that she was always among us, watching over us. She particularly emphasised how minutely she followed and guided all that was happening for the 1st and 2nd December programmes on the anniversary of our school. Most of us felt the atmosphere charged with her presence even after she had retired. We felt very happy. When I read Mona-da’s book, The Supreme, and I came across his conversation with the Mother relating to this, I felt elated:
The 2nd of December is the anniversary of our school. Every year, on that day, we have a programme of drills and demonstrations…. The Mother not only took keen interest in the preparation and execution of these programmes, but for many years she was present on both the occasions.
She considered the physical demonstration to be a great occasion for collective progress, for receiving physically, through our efforts, Her Grace and Her Power….
In 1966 … She gave me a prayer and the assurance that She would be amongst us. She spoke at length about the importance of the day and at the end She added: “I hope that everything will be all right today.”
… “I have said that I will be with them. When I say I shall be there, be sure that I shall be there with all my will. I shall be there to participate and to assist in all that is going on.”
Two days later, when Mona-da went to see the Mother, she asked him in detail about the programme and what he had done with the prayer she had given him. I was amused to find how the Mother teased him. It reminded me of the talks and correspondence Sri Aurobindo had with Nirod-da: that sweet relation between the divine Master and his very human disciple with all his faults and foibles. It is heart-warming and encouraging for all of us. I felt a similar sweetness while reading The Supreme.
Mona-da just before the 2nd
December programme in 2018
Mona: Bonjour, Douce Mère.
Was everything all right on the 2nd?
Mona: Yes, Mother, everything was all right.
How long did it last?
Mona: An hour and a half.
Did the Band play for the drills?
Mona: Not much, only for the March Past, Mass Exercises and Au revoir.
They did not play the Bande Mataram?
Mona: Yes, just after the March Past.
And what did you do with the prayer* I gave you?
Mona: I read the prayer after March Past.
(In a teasing tone) In front of everybody?
Mona: Yes, Mother.
And how did you read it?
Mona: Why, Mother? I read it in front of the mike.
(Still teasing) How I would like to hear it! (Mother laughs) You reading a prayer? This is really something … (Mother laughs and continues teasing) I would very much like to hear how you read it!
Mona: Mother, would you like to hear it now?
No, not now. I do not have the time. I was only teasing you.
During this same conversation, the Mother talks about her voice:
My voice is not ordinary. This voice, clear, pure, tranquil, is filled with love and light and above all, an infinite compassion which extends towards all those who hear it….
My voice awakes the calm certitude in all hearts…. My voice comes from the Supreme and He expresses himself through me…. It vibrates and gives an impetus to our aspiration…. dispels the cloud of ill-will.
This voice — tender, clear, pure, powerful, vigorous and energetic, — gives an amplitude and calm lucidity…. It is like a gentle peace … and resounds like a note of music.
… it gives an assurance, a will for launching towards the unknown.
The Mother continued describing her voice, then consoled Mona-da, saying she knew he had read the prayer well. Mona-da suggested that one could record the prayer in the Mother’s voice. From then on, when the Mother gave a prayer for the occasion, it was recorded and then played at the Sports Ground after the March-past.
This book has gathered many precious thoughts and truths with which the Mother has woven our lives. Her luminous gaze and Sri Aurobindo’s penetrating and compassionate look have been a solace to us all. We have been drawn by the magnetic power in the Mother’s look. As she explained to Mona-da the power behind that look, she concluded by saying:
Do you know, my child, the thing that I do through my look, … very gently, full of affection and sympathy… wherever I have looked, I have planted an aspiration of the Transforming Force, I have sent a vibration of the Divine Consciousness, I have transmitted the power of an Eternal Joy… This look is filled with Love, Light, Grace and Divine Compassion.
I am grateful to Mona-da for writing down his interviews with the Mother, bringing precious truths more easily within our reach. In addition to The Supreme, we can also draw inspiration from his books, Sweet Mother: Luminous Notes and Blessings of the Grace.
On Reading Savitri
Mother has told us we should read, every day, from Sri Aurobindo’s Savitri, even if we don’t understand it. “It does not matter if you do not understand Savitri, read it always. You will see that every time you read it, something new will be revealed to you. Each time you will get a new glimpse, each time a new experience; things which were not there, things you did not understand … suddenly become clear … it is a revelation at each step.” (Sweet Mother: Luminous Notes, p. 45)
Sports and Games
Sports and games form an important part of our life. Football was a very popular game, but unfortunately every day there was some accident or an unpleasant story. The Mother chided the players saying, “Can’t one be a little more conscious?” Then she described how flawless was the game played by Mohun Bagan’s team: “To me, it seemed to be a complete game in itself. I liked it very much.” The Mother continued:
And you know, the best way of protecting oneself or avoiding accidents, is to have the right attitude, and a correct attitude towards the game and the opponent…. the game has to be played well, as a sportsman, without hurting the others,… or without being frightened, without getting nervous or irritated, above all not to get excited … keep the inner calm … concentrate a little before the game, … then one will never be a victim. Because my protection is always there.
(Sweet Mother: Luminous Notes, p. 146)
The Eternal Presence at the Samadhi
The Mother told Mona-da:
If you are in difficulty or you want an answer … bow down your head at the Samadhi and speak frankly to Sri Aurobindo all that you have to say, without hesitation, without doubt, as you come to tell me — and you have seen so many times that your difficulties have disappeared….
You know, earlier, when He was in His body, people used to say He was very far, remote and inaccessible to men … During that period He had hardly any time to occupy Himself with the people or hear their complaints. But now He has universalised himself, become vast, very intimate and close. There is a bond with everyone …
It is formidable. His presence vibrates, concrete, all round the Samadhi.
(Blessings of the Grace, pp. 119-122)
What She Has Done for Us
“You will be astonished to see the work I have done for you all — for each one, … all the obstacles, all the impediments removed, all that was blocking the way demolished, — so that you may walk freely towards the Truth in the frill light of the New Consciousness. Once there, you have nothing to worry about, you can walk straight ahead.
… you know nothing of what I have done for you …”
(Sweet Mother: Luminous Notes, pp.169-170)
With gratitude to the Mother, and to Mona-da for sharing these very precious conversations with the Mother, we bid Mona-da good-bye. The sickle of Time will spare no man — “Sceptre and Crown must tumble down”, but as Sri Aurobindo wrote in one of his poems:
Is this the end of all that we have been,
And all we did or dreamed, —
A name unremembered and a form undone, —
Is this the end?
There is no end …
The Mother once teased Mona-da that she could hear his strong commands during Marching drill even in her room. We will always hear Mona-da’s resounding Vande Mataram ringing across the wide plains of our memory, and our echoing cries will follow him as he marches on — on his luminous journey.
— Krishna Dundur
Krishna Dundur came to the Ashram in 1949. She teaches at SAICE, the work given to her by the Mother after she completed her studies here.
Mona-da executing a swan dive in 1958
The Mother witnessed the dive and the following day told Mona-da: “My child, you deserved to be first in execution and also in your attitude…. It seemed that you were diving into the Inconscience to explore it.”
* The prayer was, “Be courageous, enduring, vigilant; above all, be sincere, with perfect honesty. Then you will be able to face all the difficulties. And victory will be yours.”