Puja Days in the Ashram

Here in the ashram Puja Days are a quiet affair. There are no outer celebrations of any kind. The Mother’s chair is brought out for Pranam as the Mother used to give Darshan on the four Puja days, that is, Saraswati Puja in February, Durga Puja, Lakshmi Puja and Kali Puja in October / November. Many gods and goddesses would come when she would meditate, a truth not only confirmed by the Mother and Sri Aurobindo but also felt by some sadhaks. There are quite a number of conversations of the Mother on this subject. During the special Puja days, the corresponding Goddess would come, often a couple of days before and be more active in the atmosphere. In view of that, the Mother had started giving these special darshans on Puja days sometime during the mid-forties. Here is a report of the event.

“Once a newly-arrived sadhika from Calcutta felt the lack of festivities in the Ashram on such a great day as the Ashtami of Durga Puja. She meticulously decorated with flowers the staircase leading up to Sri Aurobindo’s room. Her earnestness had earned for all of us the special blessings of the Mother on this and other ceremonial days, e.g., Lakshmi Puja, Kali Puja, etc. At sunset, the Mother would appear at the landing of her staircase.

A year or two later she started coming down and the floor around her chair was decorated with coloured designs called alpana in Bengali. The lights of the Pranam hall were dazzling. This set time was altered to 10 a.m. in 1951 and continued up to 1961. With the beginning of 1962, these occasions have ceased to be observed.”

I feel the celebration of Durga Puja may have had something to do with the Second World war victory as well, though an outer occasion as mentioned became an excuse. For the Mother and Sri Aurobindo, the gods and goddesses are living realities and conscious forces, aspects of the One Supreme. However as in all things they did not much subscribe to the traditional forms of worship and insisted rather on an inner change which would be our true worship offered to the great cosmic powers. All this is described beautifully in the book The Mother. Similarly, the Mother was not in favour of air and sound pollution through crackers. She saw in outer festivities more of a vital thing whereas the celebration was more of a quiet inner observance of an inner event.

At the same time, as you can well see above, She was not attached to any fixed form and the Puja Pranams stopped since 1962. However something of that is still observed in the Ashram in the form of decorating the Meditation Hall and Her chair. Many sadhaks do read the portions on Mahalakshmi and Mahakali on these days. What I can say from my personal experience is that something does come down and there is indeed a special feeling a special atmosphere during those days. Sometimes when I had completely forgotten about the event or the special day, I felt suddenly and inexplicably drawn to the place where the Mother’s chair is kept. Maybe Her Presence is stronger due to the intense concentration of the disciples and the faith but nevertheless, it is felt to be a special day.

Of course, the integral yoga does not depend upon observing or not observing these events, yet the Divine Mother uses every little door as an opening through which the Divine can enter a sadhak’s consciousness and work within it.

 

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