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At the Feet of The Mother

Editorial Preface – 3

Nirodbaran needs no introduction. To his ever-expanding circle of friends he is best known as ‘Nirod-da’, a dear elder brother and warm-hearted friend, ever ready to receive you with his winsome smile and scintillating humour. His long association with Sri Aurobindo and the Mother have invested his life with a magnetic charm, quiet grandeur and simplicity. A simplicity shorn of all pretensions. Age has not withered his mind; he is ever awake, ready to crack jokes and listen to anything interesting, corrects you when you quote wrongly or omit something while narrating some incident connected with the Mother and Sri Aurobindo. His deep intimate knowledge of the Master and the Mother and their disciples have endeared him to all; and to us he brings not only knowledge, but breathes the very atmosphere of his Guru, Sri Aurobindo, though apparently everything seems to be simple.

The idea of the present volume occurred to my mind as I stumbled upon, in the pages of “Mother India”, some old writings of Nirodbaran from time to time. As I read them, I was thrilled by the sheer beauty of his prose, the coruscating wit, the rich allusions, the iridescent poetry and the hidden depth of yearning; vision of a world within world, a sweetness that beckoned; and above all, his overabounding vitality, his sure eye for a significant detail, common sense and intuitive flashes; and a fine distillation in prose of the sweetness and light, of the eternal wonder that is Sri Aurobindo and the Mother. I have been reading his books for long, but in these writings I found something more intimate, more striking, more informative and revealing, and a splendid variety that grips you and lures you on. You have the feeling, while you read these pieces, of gliding along a smooth, flowing stream with its haunting smell and sound.

And not only that. In these writings, one gets a panoramic view, as it were, of the old Ashram-life, the beautiful lives of the disciples, an intimate picture of the unpretentious dedication of their life to the Master and the Mother, their little foibles, the experiences of their salad days, their tireless labour, courage and equanimity in the face of adversity, quiet wisdom, insight from their sadhana, and above all, their love and loyalty to Sri Aurobindo and the Mother. There are serious topics too, like the brilliant pieces on Sister Nivedita. There we get a glimpse of another facet of Nirodbaran’s talent: his analytical power. We have known Nirodbaran, the poet and Nirodbaran, the narrator; but in these pieces on Nivedita, the critic and analyst takes over and brings us rare insights. There are also light, charming pieces, like his description of a picnic where we discover Nirodbaran as one of those eternal children of whom Tagore said in one of his immortal poems: “On the seashore of endless worlds children meet…. They seek not for hidden treasures, they know not how to cast nets.”

These writings — some of them are essays and some were recorded as talks — were published in “Mother India” over a long period of time. We are grateful to Sri Amal Kiran, the Editor of Mother India and also to Sri. R. Y. Deshpande, Associate Editor, for giving us permission to reprint these writings and bring them in a single volume. We also thank Gabriel of Sri Aurobindo Ashram and Miss Manali Chakrabarty, Lecturer in French, St. John’s Church College, Secundrabad and also Mrs. Gopa Basu, Librarian, Sri Aurobindo Bhavan, Calcutta for helping me in ferreting out materials for this volume. Sri Dilip Chatterjee of Sri Aurobindo Pathamandir, Calcutta also deserves our thanks. Sri Aurobindo Bhavan, Barrackpore, decided to publish this volume on the memorable occasion of the bringing of the sacred relics of Sri Aurobindo to the Barrackpore Bhavan in early January, 2001. We are grateful to many other friends, particularly to Dolly, Bani and Jhumur of Sri Aurobindo Ashram; to Dr. Hriday Ranjan Haider, a long-time friend of Nirodbaran and a Senior Trustee of Sri Aurobindo Bhavan, Barrackpore, and also to Sri Dipak Gupta, a never-failing friend to us from the beginning.

These writings keep alive for us the voice of an old friend; these are published at the auspicious moment when Sri Aurobindo comes to Barrackpore in January 2001, the beginning of the new Millenium. May these wonderful pieces deliver us from the pale cast of thought, charge our mind with sparks of the imperishable fire and energy, open up new path-ways and vivify us with our Guru’s parting assurance:

“I shall leave my dreams in their argent air,
For in a raiment of gold and blue.
There shall move on the earth embodied and fair
The living truth of you.”