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At the Feet of The Mother

Pranab-da (Dada): The Mother’s Shadow (HH 192)

Pranab Kumar Bhattacharya (18/10/1923 – 08/01/2010), affectionately known as Dada (elder brother in Bengali), was instrumental in organizing the Physical Education Department of the Sri Aurobindo Ashram, along with a few other disciples. However what marked him as an exceptional being was his straightforward fidelity to the Goal, a rare combination of strength and firmness in discipline along with a sweet stream of love that had its home in his magnanimous and generous heart. A yogi of rare caliber he was indeed among the chosen ones, called by the Divine Mother when the time drew near to start the work on the body and prepare it for the physical transformation. Pranab da had nurtured this dream from his early years of conquering disease, old age and death.

The Mother must have obviously marked this aspiration as is evident in some of Her notes written with regard to Pranab da:


My beloved child,
You are for me the living and perfectly representative symbol of the physical life ready for the transformation and wanting that transformation consciously. In all the plenitude of the Supreme Presence I say to you: “I love you.”
– Mother

22 June 1958

* * *

My beloved child,
Your consecration to the divine work is so total that you have given your life to save mine. With all the mighty ardour that I have, I pray that this offering may not be in vain. My will to overcome all obstacles and to triumph is complete and unshakeable. You can depend on it, it will not weaken.
– Mother

26 January 1954

* * *

To that one of my children who has entirely dedicated himself to the realisation of the miracle which for the ordinary, eye seems an impossibility.
Your psychic is wonderful in its loving consecration.
Your physical is most attentive and careful in its effort towards unselfishness.
Your vital submits and obeys, but unfortunately, could not do it through love, and that is why, until now, it is not happy and feels no joy, inspite of the great psychic achievement and the bliss it procures.
– Mother

03 June 1953

Today on his birthday we present just a few glimpses of his life from his book ‘I Remember’.

* * *

Words of the Mother

You know, mon petit, I said one day that in the history of earth, wherever there was a possibility for the Consciousness to manifest, I was there [[“Since the beginning of the earth, wherever and whenever there was the possibility of manifesting a ray of the Consciousness, I was there.” March 14, 1952. ]]; this is a fact. It’s like the story of Savitri: always there, always there, always there, in this one, that one – at certain times there were four emanations simultaneously! At the time of the Italian and French Renaissance. And again at the time of Christ, then too…. Oh, you know, I have remembered so many, many things! It would take volumes to tell it all. And then, more often than not (not always, but more often than not), what took part in this or that life was a particular yogic formation of the vital being – in other words something immortal. [Each of these formations had an independent, immortal existence.] And when I came this time, as soon as I took up the yoga, they came back again from all sides, they were waiting. Some were simply waiting, others were working (they led their own independent lives) and they all gathered together again. That’s how I got those memories. One after the other, those vital beings came – a deluge! I had barely enough time to assimilate one, to see, situate and integrate it, and another would come. They are quite independent, of course, they do their own work, but they are very centralized all the same. And there are all kinds – all kinds, anything you can imagine! Some of them have even been in men: they are not exclusively feminine….

Did I ever tell you? Last time I went down for the pujas (was it last year or the year before? I remember nothing any more, you know: it all gets swept away, brrt!)…. Yes, it was the year before last, in ’60, after that anniversary. [[First anniversary of the supramental descent: February 29, 1960]] (Durga used to come every year, two or three days before the Durga puja.) I was walking as usual and she came; that was when she made her surrender to the Supreme…. Those divinities don’t have the sense of surrender. Divinities such as Durga and the Greek gods (although the Greek gods are a bit dated now; but the gods of India are still very much alive!). Well, they are embodiments – what you might almost call localizations – of something eternal, but they lack the sense of surrender to the Supreme….

Some interesting things have been happening in that world [since the supramental descent]…. How can I explain? Those beings have an independence, an absolute freedom of movement (although at the same time, they are all a single Being), but they had the true sense of perfect Unity only with the supreme Consciousness. And now with this present intervention [Mother’s], with this incarnation and the establishment of the Consciousness here, like this (Mother makes a fist in a gesture of immutable solidity), in such an absolute way (I mean there are no fluctuations) … HERE, on earth, in the terrestrial atmosphere, this incarnation has a radiating action throughout all those worlds, all those universes, all those Entities.

June 27, 1962

* * *

(A little later, Mother refers to a passage from the preceding conversation in which she said that her present incarnation on earth didn’t have a merely terrestrial effect but an effect on all the other worlds as well – and particularly on the gods.)

None of those beings, those gods and deities of various pantheons, have the same rapport with the Supreme that man has; for man has a psychic being, in other words, the Supreme’s presence within him. These gods are emanations – independent emanations – created for a special purpose and a particular action which they fulfill spontaneously; they do it not with a sense of constant surrender to the Divine but simply because that’s what they are, and why they are, and all they know is what they are. They don’t have the conscious link with the Supreme that man has – man carries the Supreme within himself.

That makes a considerable difference.

But with this present incarnation of the Mahashakti…. She is the Supreme’s first manifestation, creation’s first stride, and it was She who first gave form to all those beings. Now, since her incarnation in the physical world, and through the position She has taken here in relation to the Supreme by incarnating in a human body, all the other worlds have been influenced, and influenced in an extremely interesting way. [Some days later, Satprem again brought up the above passage, asking whether the Mother hadn’t been active on earth since the beginning of time and not merely “with this present incarnation of the Mahashakti.” The reply: “It was always through emanations, while now it’s as Sri Aurobindo writes in Savitri – the Supreme tells Savitri that a day will come when the earth is ready and ‘The Mighty Mother shall take birth’…. But Savitri was already on earth – she was an emanation. So they were all emanations? They were all emanations, right from the beginning. So we have to say: ‘With the PRESENT incarnation.’] I have been in contact with all those gods, all those great beings, and for the most part their attitude has changed. And even with those who didn’t want to change, it has nonetheless influenced their way of being.

Human experience, with this direct incarnation of the Supreme, is ultimately a unique experience, which has given a new orientation to universal history. Sri Aurobindo speaks of this – he speaks of the difference between the Vedic era, the Vedic way of relating to the Supreme, and the advent of Vedanta: devotion, adoration, bhakti, the God within.

Humanity has undergone a spiritual evolution. Vedism is in contact with the gods and, through the gods, with the Supreme; but it is not in direct contact with the Supreme – there is no inner, psychic contact. That’s what Sri Aurobindo says. But with the Vedanta and the devotees of Krishna, it is the god within: they had a direct contact with the god within (as in the Gita).  Well, this aspect of rapport with the Supreme could exist only with Man, because man is a special being in universal History – the divine Presence is in him. And several of those great gods have taken human bodies just to have that…..

June 30, 1962

* * *


Extracts from Dada’s book ‘I Remember’


I am asked: “Will she come back in a new body amongst us?”

 To this I must say, “Certainly.” Throughout the ages, from the beginning of creation, she has come several times, many many times, to help us progress, to help us go forward, and I think and I am sure, and all of you will agree with me when I say this, that she will come again in the future to lead us further.

 Then somebody has asked me: “Before, whenever we were in trouble, we wrote to her and she helped us. Now what should we do?”

 To this I must say what she used to tell us constantly. She said “I am installed in all of your hearts. Just be quiet, try to hear what I say inside you and act according to the Directions I give. But for that you must be very, very sincere and you must allow only the right type of vibrations in you.” I think there can be no other solution but this.

And the last question that I am often asked is: “Do you think we shall able to go through on the path she has laid down for us?”

 To this I must say: “Yes, if we have a strong aspiration, a strong will, and the maximum of sincerity. Mother and Sri Aurobindo came to us and they have shown us our goal. They have brought down the necessary powers into this world so that this goal may be reached. They have given instructions, which if followed will surely take us forward, and they have given all their support and blessings to us. So, being Mother’s children, I don’t see why we should not be able to go through. Truly speaking, the Truth and the Power, the Truth that they have established upon earth and the Power they have brought down for the implementation of that Truth, are spread throughout the length and breadth of our country and the whole world, and I am sure that wherever there will be sufficient sincerity, sufficient aspiration, this Truth will work itself out, and this Truth will be realised.

But staying in the Ashram, we are in a more privileged position. We have seen them, we have heard them, we were personally guided by them and I am sure that it would be easier for us to walk on their path here in the Ashram where they have created a suitable atmosphere. I think two things are absolutely necessary. We can already feel there are people who want to see us disintegrate, they would be very happy if we were all demolished. To them we can give a fitting answer if we remain strictly on the path of Truth. This will enable us to get the maximum protection from Mother and Sri Aurobindo and there is no power on earth that can harm us in any way. The second thing that we must do is to remain strongly united, forgetting “I” and “Mine” and replacing them by “We” and “Ours”.


* * *


Supramental Process of Action

Formula given by Mother

  1. Remain absolutely quiet in all parts of your being.
  2. Aspire and call.
  3. You will get a response from above.
  4. Place your problem before it and wait peacefully.
  5. The direction will come from above.
  6. Receive it and implement it through your mind, life and body.
  7. There should be no likes and dislikes and preferences.
  8. Help will come. The right man will come. The resources will come.The material will come and the right action will take place.

Note: Absolute surrender, no personal reaction, no personal preference and absolute detachment, and have no fear whatsoever.

Observation: Tried many times and obtained wonderful results.

February 26, l990

* * *

Physical Transformation

 Steps Towards Transformation

  1. Consciousness
  2. Control
  3. Mastery
  4. Transformation

 Steps Towards Physical Immortality

  1. Prolongation of youth and maintenance of the health and physical fitness of the body for a very long period – to stop or slow down the process of deterioration.
  2. Ichha Mrityu – death only when wished – Example of Bhishma in the Mahabharata – He must have reached the first step also.
  3. Physical Immortality.

 The Process

  1. The psychic Contact – this is the very first step.
  2. Putting the whole being under the psychic guidance.
  3. The vital and the mind must not rule over the body. They spoil it by their ideas, their impulses and their desires (their excessive demands spoil the body).
  4. Cooperation from the mind and the vital (a long process). They are a great force.
  5. The body has to be protected and taken care of by an application of the knowledge of health, hygiene, physical exercise, preventive and curative medicine.
  6. Growth of the body consciousness – the special role of physical education leading to gradual control, mastery and transformation of the body.
  7. Physical education can help a lot in developing body consciousness. The body must be kept in a perfectly balanced state – Physical Sat-Chit-Ananda.
  8. Integral progress – this is the aim of life. It helps to keep one young; both inwardly and outwardly.
  9. Ananda is our prime mover. It is the rejuvenator and must saturate our whole physical being.
  10. Love which is the source of Joy, is pure and desireless. It gives freely without any demand or bargain. Hatred and jealousy, which destroy the body, have no part in love.
  11. Each individual has to find out his own way. It is a dangerous pursuit and there is no set method. Utmost sincerity and a clear vision are the guiding and protective factors.

* * *

Mother once said that the one whom she accepts and envelops in her spiritual embrace, his destiny is invisibly stamped. And when adverse forces see this stamp they understand at once that this person has been accepted by the Divine. And then they begin their terrible assaults on him in order to waylay him from the divine path or to destroy him.

 But if he can have total faith in her, if he can keep her love and compassion close to his heart, then he can overcome all obstacles and difficulties. The adverse forces cannot harm him in any way.

 The adverse forces attack only those who have taken to the divine path. That is why the first condition for” “taking this” path is to be full of fearlessness and courage.

* * *

From my childhood I had been a lonely child. It is since then that I would often feel extremely lonely. Right from the time I was 14 or 15, I felt that something was pushing from within, something was trying to come out into the open. But what this was I could not understand. As I grew up, this feeling increased in me even more.

 My family had been in touch with the Ashram since very early. At the age of 19, in 1942, after passing my Intermediate Examination, I came to the Ashram for the first time to spend my vacation here. I wanted to see the Ashram with my own eyes and to try and understand Mother and Sri Aurobindo’s ideal and vision.

 From then on, I started feeling this push of something that wanted to express itself very intensely, so much so, that it would make me feel uneasy. It was difficult to be in direct contact with Mother during those times. One had to go through Nolini-da.

 One day I told Nolini-da about my condition and asked him what it was that I was really seeking.

After a little thought Nolini-da replied: “You want to remain absorbed in a permanent state of contentment.”

I understood, but I still could not get out of my problem.

After spending four months in the Ashram, I returned to Bengal. There I finished my studies and three years later came back to the Ashram. This time it was for good.

I began my life at the Ashram. Mother poured her affection, encouragement and help on me. She drew me close to her at once.

 However, the inner pressure and pull remained. On the contrary it went on increasing and sometimes became so acute that occasionally I fell into a terrible depression. During this attack of depression I used to experience an intense pain for a week or two. Then it would pass and everything would become clear again.

 Mother kept a close watch on me and several times she tried to get me out of these depressions. Once my condition got so bad that Mother dragged me to Sri Aurobindo and left me at his feet. Sri Aurobindo looked at me with immense love and I felt a great hope and peace within me. Everything would get all right, he assured me.

From then on Mother would keep repeating: “I’ll give you a present. With that, you’ll see, everything will become all right. You will experience such a peace and ananda in life that you will be able to overcome all obstacles with ease.”

 But she never told me what the real problem was. Neither could I understand where this depression was coming from as externally there was no apparent cause for it.

At that time two things helped me a lot. One, I tried to do my work as best I could from morning till night. I never tried to shirk any of my responsibility. And two, I exercised my body vigorously for two to two-and-a-half hours every day. Through this solid work and exercise routine I kept my body happy and with a healthy and strong body I could confront life much better.

Then from 1968 onwards, that is after 23 years of staying in the Ashram, I started feeling as if I had begun at long last to receive Mother’s “present”. Within me I felt a peace and ananda filling up. And as they increased they pervaded my entire being. I told Mother that I had received her present. She was very happy to hear this.

After coming out of my depression I finally found out the reason for it.

 Right from my childhood I had hitched my life to an ideal. My discipline was very severe. I lived through this discipline. But at the unconscious levels of my being, my mind and vital yearned for the hopes, desires, joys and satisfactions of an ordinary life. As I had no connection with this .unconscious part I’ could not in any way control it. And so, unable to satiate their desires, my mind and vital would revolt and not cooperate and as a result I would fall into a depression.

 Mother illuminated this dark part of my being and by purifying it she saved me. And I became rightfully a vessel of pure ananda and peace. And then I began walking on Mother and Sri Aurobindo’s true path.

* * *

Our contact with the Ashram began in 1934. It is from then that we started receiving news from the Ashram, books and letters, Sri Aurobindo’s and Mother’s messages, etc.

 Once during this period, we went from Calcutta to Berhampore. On entering the Chandi-mandapa (an altar to Mother Chandi) I noticed that in place of Mother Kali’s statue photographs of Mother and Sri Aurobindo had been placed. I was furious when I saw this. How was this possible? To keep Mother’s and Sri Aurobindo’s photo graphs in Mother Kali’s place? They may be great yogis, advanced souls, spiritually realised, but still… . I was really angry. However, I kept mum. The elders of the family had done this so I repressed my own feelings.

A few days later, I realised to my astonishment that quite unknowingly I myself had begun following their path. A strange change had taken place deep within my being almost imperceptibly. It happened all by itself. And then I realised how right everything was. This is exactly how it ought to be. During the whole period that I spent in Berhampore, I used to take “Kamini” flowers (botanical name – MurrayaPuniculata) along with their leaves and arrange them in front of Mother’s and Sri Aurobindo’s photographs. And I experienced a great sense of joy doing this. When I was decorating Mother’s and Sri Aurobindo’s photographs with these flowers, I did not know the spiritual significance Mother had given to this flower: Peace in the Vital, the result of abolition of desires.

 Now I understand how Mother and Sri Aurobindo eliminate and disperse all obscurity and hostile feelings in this silent, imperceptible, secret way through the light of their Grace and Love. This is perhaps what is called Divine Alchemy.

* * *

In the course of a conversation, I spoke to Mother about the Kalki avatar. Kalki was lame and he was supposed to come on a white horse, holding an unsheathed sword. After ending the Kaliyuga he would pave the way for the advent of the Satyayuga. What was the meaning of the white horse, the sword and ‘his slight limp?

Mother replied that the horse was a symbol of force and the white horse represented divine force. The unsheathed sword symbolised unhindered divine knowledge. But she could not tell me why he was lame. She said it was probably due to this collective suggestion from olden times that Sri Aurobindo too broke his leg.

* * *

India became free in 1947. All around the country there was celebration: fireworks, illuminations, singing processions in the morning, parades, etc.

During this time I spoke to Mother about the national flag and the national anthem. I told her that even though Vande Mataram was the national hymn, jana Gana Mana had to be played by the band as the national anthem. Mother said that Vande Mataram was not merely a song, it was a mantra. We played to her a record of Rabindranath’s musical rendering of Vande Mataram and jana Gana Mana. Then I played to her Timirbaran’s rendering of Vande Mataram. Mother preferred Timirbaran’s rendering. It was also more suitable for the band. But we did not have its musical notation for the band. At first we tried to get our Hiru Ganguly to contact Timirbaran but we could not. Sahana-di wrote down a notation thanks to which we could at least sing Timirbaran’s Vande Mataram to Mother in the Playground and she really liked it.

 In the meantime, I found out that an English music conductor named Simpson had prepared a musical notation for a brass band. That tune was much better than jana Gana Mana. It was almost like a mantra and most appropriate for a national anthem.

 And so, before starting any programme in the Ashram, we always begin with that piece played by our brass band. And for those programmes that are also attended by people from outside the Ashram and from the government, we play Vande Mataram at the beginning andjana Gana Mana at the conclusion of the programme.

 I also spoke to Mother about the national flag at that time. The Indian government had asked many people and organisations just before our Independence about the design of the Indian flag. From the Ashram Jayantilal-da sent the Mother’s flag. Finally the Indian government chose the tricoloured Congress flag to represent the country. The central “charkha” was replaced by the “Ashoka-chakra”. The tricoloured flag was orange on top, white in the centre and green below. The three colours symbolised freedom, peace and progress. The dharma-chakra at the centre symbolised movement and union.

After seeing the national flag Mother told us that the chakra was there only on the white band in the centre and since it did not cover all the three colours the total life of all the communities of India, their movement and union were not symbolically highlighted. She thought that this would not help in making India’s unity and oneness symbolically stable. On seeing this flag, one gets the impression that India’s unity is slightly disturbed. If the chakra in the centre had covered all the three colours then it would have been much better.

Incidentally, in 1947, while the whole country was celebrating our Independence Day, Mother came out of Sri Aurobindo’s room and she seemed to be in a trance. I was standing under the covered verandah in front of her room. She came out and told me with a lot of intensity that in forty years from then India would go through a very bad time.

 Now when we think about it we realise that she had spoken truly. However, Mother has also repeated constantly that with her spiritual force India will become great again. And one day it will show the path to the earth’s future. India will be the guru of the world.

The partition of India prior to Independence had pained Mother very much. But she said: “Sri Aurobindo has said that India will become one again.” About India Mother said: “India is like a big pot in which ingredients have been brought from everywhere to cook a fine dinner.”

* * *

Dada’s message on his last birthday before he withdrew into the Mother

 Our Sacred Resolve

It is absolutely certain that we are extremely lucky to be born in the age of Mother and Sri Aurobindo. All their lives, Mother and Sri Aurobindo have worked untiringly for individual and collective progress. Their supreme contribution to the World-Consciousness is the glorious thought of Supramental Evolution. In unmistakable terms they have proclaimed that the Supramental is a Truth and its advent, inevitable.

Not only have they given us the ideal of Integral Supramental Transformation to live for, they have, through their various writings and sayings, shown us that the path to be followed is the path of self-purification through dedicated service, instructed us that the one thing needed to walk on this path is absolute and total surrender and armed us with the ‘Ma Mantra’ as the protection against all difficulties and dangers. And they have also created for us a place which takes care of all our needs so that, free from the burden of life’s responsibilities, we can turn all our energies to the practice of this Truth.

Mother and Sri Aurobindo, our gigantic leaders, have taken up all the responsibility of all those of us who have come to take part in this Supreme Adventure. They are with us all the time, helping us in every possible way.

So, as true followers, should we not concentrate on this work alone and do our best to bring about their Triumph?

Should we not as their children, be preoccupied with that alone, in waking and in sleep, in all conditions and states of being? Should we not forget our petty selves completely and make a sincere and mighty effort to fulfill their Dream? If we can do that, we are men; otherwise we are no better than animals.

 So, brothers and sisters, like true sadhaks, asking for nothing, not even success in sadhana, let us march on and fulfill our duty and responsibility, never forgetting all that we owe to them.

 Victoire à la Douce Mère!

Vande Mataram!



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