It was in 1906 during my college life (when I was 20) that I attended some of the political meetings of Sri Aurobindo after the eventful Partition of Bengal. This Partition — a veritable act of God in disguise — had stirred the life and mind of Bengal, nay almost of the whole of India, after centuries of inertia and apathy. During those days there were no loudspeakers but voices of veterans like Surendranath Banerji and Bepin Chandra Pal reached the farthest ends of crowded meetings, sometimes over a lakh of people, amidst din and noise of the huge mass of humanity that had gathered. But when young Aurobindo Babu (Sri Aurobindo was known at that time as Aurobindo Babu or Aurobindo Ghosh) stood up there was a pin drop silence. He spoke but little but his lisping words carried a mantric force reaching to the core of the heart of the assembly. This was my personal experience in the few meetings that I could attend.
Laterly when I was out of Calcutta, I subscribed to the weekly Bande Mataram and afterwards — after his release from jail — to his Karmayogin and the Dharma (Bengali). Evidently I entertained some soft corner for Sri Aurobindo even at that time, though I do not know why. I even ventured to send a money order of Rs. 21 to his sister Sarojini as a small contribution towards the expenses for his defence at the Alipore trial. I had collected a rupee each from some of my friends and had added my own contribution, perhaps two rupees. At that time nobody even dared to utter Aurobindo Babu’s name for fear of police attention. One of my elderly cousin brothers, whom I respected much, took away almost forcibly all my copies of the Karmayogin and got them drowned in the river.
Sri Aurobindo left for Pondicherry in 1910. I completely lost touch and got engrossed in my mundane life for years together. It was only by the end of the 30s that I awoke again to Sri Aurobindo. That was occasioned by my younger brother visiting the Ashram and staying away there itself. I began to hear of Sri Aurobindo, the Ashram and the Mother. About the Mother I could not reconcile myself to how a European lady could establish herself as the Mother in Pondicherry Ashram and even more as the Divine Mother. I remember I once questioned a woman pilgrim on her way to Pondicherry whether Sri Aurobindo was greater or the Mother. This was my mental attitude at that time.
However, as I wished to see my brother I thought of paying a visit to the Ashram in 1943 and seeing things for myself. But that was not to be. I thought of it again the next year in 1944. I had heard that for the necessary permission one had to write direct to the Mother. I had heard also that the Mother was being addressed as the Divine Mother. I was in a fix when I took the letter pad to write for permission. I simply wrote “Mother” and added: “I want to go to Pondicherry for Darshan but I have no devotional heart, a Darshan may have a salutary effect on me having yearning to get a true knowledge of things.” Writing so far I stopped and thought to myself what an audacity it was to write thus. Then I felt that these words had come out through the pen without my thinking and so I had better let them remain as they were, whatever the consequences. I am glad to say that I received the permission.
I came to Pondicherry on the 6th of August 1944, early morning. I saw the Mother at about 11 a.m. the same morning walking on the terrace along with Chinmayi and looking at the devotees assembled in the Ashram courtyard. I was also in the crowd. Mother had worn a silken gown and Chinmayi had held a silken umbrella over the Mother’s head. I was not happy to see the Mother at that moment.
During those days Mother used to come on the terrace of Madhav’s office at dusk every evening and stand there for a short meditation. In the courtyard below mats were spread and sadhaks used to join the meditation. When the Mother appeared on the terrace I looked at her and immediately a kind of electric current passed through my body; I saw my own mother’s face appearing on the Mother’s but immediately that face changed into the image of Goddess Jagadhatri of our conception. This set me seriously thinking. I felt that as I did not want to recognise the Mother as Mother, she had appeared before me first as my own mother and then showed her divinity.
I stayed here for full 24 days and on three occasions I saw a bluish halo over the head of the Mother when she sat for meditation in the Meditation Hall at night.
My first Darshan of Sri Aurobindo along with the Mother was on the 15th of August 1944. Since then I had 10 Darshans but the impression formed at the first Darshan is still vivid in my mind although each subsequent Darshan was fruitful for me.
I may mention here an amusing episode. After my retirement from the Calcutta Corporation service in 1942 I was made a life-member of the Officers’ Club. On my return to Calcutta I had been to the Corporation Office to look up my friends there. One of the senior officers was very inquisitive about the Darshan and asked all particulars: whether Sri Aurobindo wore a chaddar, fatua, shirt etc., during the Darshan time. I said I had not seen all these but had simply looked at his face and the toes of his feet and nothing else, I had not even looked at the Mother sitting by his side. This created much amusement and he summoned all the older colleagues to hear me. I repeated my story and there was a good deal of merriment. To extricate myself from the situation I asked them what was wrong in what I had done. Did they not remember that Arjuna also did not see the whole body of the hanging fish when he shot at the eyes of the fish from his bow?
I have mentioned about the bluish halo around the head of the Mother. Now I may mention another experience. During the last year I could see for several months continuously, a circle of white light emerging over the head of Sri Aurobindo’s photograph in the Reception Room, every morning and evening when I looked at the photo with reverence before pranam. I used to see the same light over the Darshan photo in my room at night for some time. Now we all know that the blue light is the light of Sri Aurobindo and white that of the Mother. Why then have I seen just the opposite? Some may say that it is a hallucination or due to defect in my aging eyesight. May it not be that this experience is vouchsafed to me to show that Sri Aurobindo is in the Mother and the Mother in Sri Aurobindo?