Shobha Mitra

Shobha Mitra

Biography

Shobha Mitra was born in 1933. Musician, Composer and In-charge of the music section of the Ashram School, a teacher of vocal music in Last School, Auroville in the 1970s. She had learnt music from the likes of Dilip Kumar Roy and Sahana Devi and had kept the glorious legacy of Sri Aurobindo Ashram Music alive with her soul-touching compositions.

 
 
 
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“She was chosen as an instrument to set up the Music Section in the Ashram and her journey of yoga was to be through music only. This was not easy to say the least. It was an arduous task that needed a deep surrender. How she was given the necessary strength and how the Mother prepared her — I would rather say chiseled her inch-by-inch with Her grace is an incredible story of high sincerity and surrender.

‘Music is the language of the soul’, says the Mother. Every year Shobha-di made us students of vocal music, write this quotation on the 1st page of our note book. These were not mere words but living seeds planted by Shobha-di in us at the tender age of 12, by the example she is, by the loving guidance she gave and continues to give — stressing always to go beyond skill and talent to express that something from deep within and offer it to the Divine.”

Shilpa Desai

 
 
 

“Born on 14 December 1933 to Amarendranath and Ashalata Mitra, Shobha Mitra visited Sri Aurobindo Ashram for the first time in August 1942. At the age of seventeen, on Wednesday 15 June 1951 she joined Sri Aurobindo Ashram with her mother. The Mother had arranged for their accommodation at Red House which was located near the Ashram Library. She was given work in the Publication Department under Prithwi Singh Nahar. A year later she was made a permanent inmate of Sri Aurobindo Ashram. She joined the Ashram School when its new session began in December 1952. Following the instruction of the Mother, she opted to study English, French, Philosophy and the works of Sri Aurobindo. She also began to learn music from Dilip Kumar Roy and Sahana Devi. From 1957 she started teaching French in the Ashram School. She was an accomplished dancer and had given several dance-recitals before the Mother. She had also given dance-form to Sri Aurobindo’s The Hour of God in 1964. She also composed the dance-drama The Rhythm Eternal which was staged thrice in May 1967. She has also played a pivotal role in organizing musical programmes of artists like Birendra Kishore Ray Choudhury, Tara Ghoshal, Jyotsna Bole, Chandralekha and Pankaj Kumar Mullick to name a few who visited the Ashram. On 14 December 1965 — on Shobha’s birthday — the Mother asked her to start a Music Section in Sri Aurobindo International Centre of Education which she built up from scratch. Inspired by the Mother, she also began to compose music. In 1972, on the occasion of Sri Aurobindo’s Birth Centenary, she conceptualized a special programme titled Sri Aurobindo and the Mother on India and Her Future. In that very year, a long-playing record of her musical compositions titled Loving Homage was brought out by Sri Aurobindo Society. For quite some time she had conducted singing classes in Auroville. Her memorable compositions include titles like Adoration, All We Owe to Thee, Aspiration, Century’s Salutations, Durga Stotra, Esho Gahi Gaan, Invocation to Mother India, Laha Pronam, Our Gratitude, Om Namo Bhagawate, Salutations, Towards a Luminous Future, Vandanam and Vers un avenir lumineux (the last being a musical presentation on the occasion of the unveiling of Sri Aurobindo’s statue at UNESCO, Paris, on 16 September 2009) to name a few.

… On 31 July 2019, she left her body… With Shobha Mitra’s demise not only did the Ashram community lose a senior member but the Aurobindonian community across the globe too lost a stalwart whose life acted as an inspiration to many. But she — whom M. P. Pandit had called a “worthy child of the Mother” — cannot die — she is not dead. She has only cast away her frail physical sheath. She has just passed on to the other world leaving behind a rare legacy. She has been immortalized by her compositions. And she would continue to live in her creations and in the hearts of those whom she loved and who loved her.”

Anurag Banerjee

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“What I find and appreciate in Shobha: not only has she a good grounding in Indian Classical Music but the way she has trained practically any student you name in the Centre of Education who has learnt music, singing — they have been a student of Shobha. And she has done her work very quietly, without any fanfare. So that is what is appreciable. But what I personally like about Shobha’s compositions: I seem to have a glimpse of the influence of Sunil-da’s music, that there is an opening to the New Music which Mother always spoke of; that is certainly the influence of Mother’s music. In many of her compositions, if you listen carefully you will find many of the chords are reminiscent of Mother’s music. And that is the main thing for me. One must have a good grounding in Classical Music but in our Centre of Education we are looking forward to something new. And Shobha has done her job and is doing her job. Thank you.”

Manoj Das Gupta

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“Dear Shobha-di, no words can express what alchemy your music does to me. I can only say what I feel. It stirs the heart, the soul and the thirst for the light and love of the Mother because your music carries with it your love and dedication to the service of the Mother and that is what I feel whenever I listen to your music — the stirring of the soul for some more light and love for the Mother.”

Krishna Chakravarty

Photos

MUSIC

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All we Owe to Thee

From a musical offering presented in January 2000

Music: Shobha Mitra

Century’s Salutations

A musical offering by the Students and Teachers of Vocal music section of the Sri Aurobindo International Centre of Education on 3rd April 2010 in the Playground.

Music: Shobha Mitra

Durga Stotra

Sri Aurobindo’s Durga Stotra (in Bengali)

Read by Manoj Das Gupta

Music: Shobha Mitra (recorded in 1972)

Esh Gahi Gaan

Songs in Bengali for Children

Lyrics and Music: Shobha Mitra

India And Her Future

38 Songs to the music of Shobha Mitra. The album “India And Her Future” is a compilation of spoken words, hymns and devotional songs based on the teachings of “The Mother” and performed by the artists of Sri Aurobindo Ashram, Pondicherry.

Kavi Nishikanto (Poet Nishikanto)

Songs and Poems of Poet Nishikanto in Bengali and English in 2 parts. Commentary in English

Music: Shobha Mitra

Laha Pranam (We bow to Thee)

Songs in Bengali on the Mother and Sri Aurobindo

Lyrics & Music: Shobha Mitra

Om Namo Bhagawate

Hymns in Sanskrit on the Mother and Sri Aurobindo by T.V. Kapali Sastri

Music: Shobha Mitra

Our Gratitude

The music recorded here is based on a programme entitled “Our Gratitude”, which was performed at the Ashram playground by the vocal music section of the Ashram School on 30 March 2014. The programme was organised to commemorate the one hundredth anniversary of the Mother’s first meeting with Sri Aurobindo, which took place on 29th March 1914.

Music: Shobha Mitra

Towards a Luminous Future

A Musical presentation on the occasion of the unveiling of Sri Aurobindo’s statue at UNESCO (Paris) on 10th September 2009

Text: Sri Aurobindo and the Mother

Hymns in Sanskrit

The concluding piece taken from 1972 New Year music by Sunil Bhattacharya

Music: Shobha Mitra

Vandanam

14 Songs in Sanskrit on the Mother and Sri Aurobindo

Lyrics: Pujalal

Music: Shobha Mitra

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