You ask me how my contact with Sri Aurobindo and the Mother started and when. Well, it is difficult to fix it. All that I would say is that when I was a small boy I remember standing as a volunteer witnessing a procession in Surat of Sri Aurobindo and the other national leaders of that time. Later as a student in the college I had occasions to read the Master’s books like Yoga and its Objects, Yogic Sadhan, Isha Upanishad, etc. My cousin (who later became Advaitananda) was a regular subscriber to the Arya and held Sri Aurobindo in very great regard; he introduced me to the writings of Sri Aurobindo. I was intensely interested in the deeper side of life from my very childhood. What I read in this literature strengthened my aspiration and filled me with happiness. It was while going through the Yoga and its Objects that one day I saw a golden sun rushing at me and pulling me out through the forehead centre. It was the first of such experiences that started during this period.
The Arya volumes came to me in an interesting way. I was once travelling in a local train and had the Essays on the Gita in my hand. Seated opposite to me was a Maharashtrian lawyer who queried what book I was reading. On coming to know that it was Sri Aurobindo’s work on the Gita he said that at one time he had been interested in the Arya and had in his possession the whole set excepting some five numbers. He offered to send the volumes to me as he was no longer so much interested in them and had taken to a study of Tukaram, his works being more simple, less complicated, suited to his taste. And he kept his word. Later when I came to Pondicherry the Mother gave me the missing numbers and helped to make the Arya set complete.
About nine months after the experience of the golden sun, I was lying quietly one night. Suddenly I became conscious of something bright and luminous in the form of a serpent with jewels studded on it, lifting and moving its head upward. Words came to me (which I heard distinctly) saying, “It is death.” I said “All right” and immediately I found myself above and outside the body, but not in my subtle body. I was conscious of myself as an entity of white light in the form of an egg or a lingam; I was conscious of the night around me and the stars above. A little later I came down into the body with a thud. From then on the feeling that I am not the body has been always with me, even if not always on the surface.
It was in 1922 or 1923 that I met my first guru. He was a householder living a simple life and I had been to see him along with a few friends. I remember that when I bowed to him and he patted my back there was a deep flow of peace and joy through his fingers. When I looked at him he said something cryptic in Gujarati which I can only roughly render as “maintain the Love.” Subsequently I sought initiation from him which he was pleased to grant. At that time he asked me to see the guru in everything. He also added that both the guru and the disciple are in the same boat that is being piloted by the Sadguru, the Lord. The same night I had a thrilling experience and it was this. I saw the guru coming towards me in his subtle body. He entered straight into my heart and described a circle with a small wand which he had in his hand and light flooded my heart accompanied by a sense of purity and joy.
I had many meetings with him but this is not the place to speak of those details. Suffice it to say that he clearly told me that sanyas was not for me and so I went back to my college for the studies that had been interrupted by my impulsive turn to spiritual life. The next memorable meeting with the guru was in 1928 in a dream. As he was coming, I heard the words: “He is coming to bid you goodbye. This is the severance of the link.” He sat down and I laid my head on his lap and wept and wept.
I should have mentioned that he had passed away two years earlier, i.e. in 1926. And though the link was snapped in 1928 this way, I had occasion to have his darshan again in 1932 when I had gone to his place at Godhra, where I met his niece for the first time though I had heard about her earlier, as specially devoted to him and who had received the most from him. I had not long to wait for confirmation of her status. For, in the evening when we were sitting in the courtyard below a neem tree and she was singing a bhajan in that half-lit place, I saw his beloved self standing behind her with a curtain of white light in between. I rubbed my eyes and made sure he was there.
I have not seen him thereafter.
Sometime in 1928 there was an interesting experience. I saw vividly a personage dressed as a Rajput coming towards me on a phaeton drawn by two white horses. He told me, thrice, “surrender to the Mahamaya”.
One night, in a vision, I saw the Divine Mother standing in front of me about twelve feet above the ground. But I did not see her full figure, I saw only her dark blue legs up to the knees. She had worn golden anklets and the soles of her feet were lotus red. I saw a silk cloth descending from her right side, — the kind of cloth she wears in traditional worship.
At the instance of certain friends I applied for permission to Sri Aurobindo for the Darshan of November 24, 1932, but the reply I received from the Secretary was to the effect that permission could not be granted as the November Darshan was meant only for disciples. Thereafter I did not think further of the matter and proceeded to Bombay to rejoin my work at the college.
There were, however, one or two striking vision-experiences which revealed their meaning to me later. The first was the vision of two feet with golden anklets. While seeing them I had the distinct feeling that they were the Mother’s feet. The second experience came to me in response to a telegram I had sent to Sri Aurobindo and the Mother conveying some good sentiments after I was refused permission for Darshan in November, 1932. I saw a marble staircase rising in front of me up to 8 or 10 steps then taking a turn to my right then turning again arising straight up into infinity. I saw a lady swiftly descending from its invisible top and coming and stepping in front of me at the first bend. She opened out her arms wide. Her face was European and her dress of the Greek type. It was difficult to judge her age, but no doubt she was young. This scene has remained stamped on my consciousness even four decades after.
It was in 1934 November that a friend wrote to Sri Aurobindo asking him whether I could come for the November Darshan that year and the request was immediately granted and I came for Darshan. On the 3rd or 4th day of my stay here, as I was lying down at night I had a peculiar experience. It was as if someone was drilling a hole in my head. In a spiral of light I saw a little figure entering through my head, entering into the heart and stopping there in the heart. Immediately I recognised the figure to be the same lady with a European face that I had seen two years earlier.
During that visit every time I approached the Mother for Pranam I experienced a strong impulse to give and give. If I had a gold button on my shirt I would take it out and place it at her feet. If there were a few coins in my pocket I would do the same thing. I could not resist the push.
You ask what was my experience at Darshan of Sri Aurobindo and the Mother. The moment I had sight of him from a distance, there was a surge of emotion and I strongly felt that I had known him for ages. There was such a joy that I could not contain myself and I embraced the man who was in front of me. When my turn came, Sri Aurobindo looked at the Mother and Mother looked at Sri Aurobindo and he nodded.
Before going back I met the Mother. She asked a few questions about myself and then asked “Will you come here?” “Yes, Mother” was my answer. And it was not long before I was back.
Once while speaking of some of my difficulties, I had asked Mother if she saw any possibility in me. “Yes, even exceptional possibilities”, Mother replied and added: “Would I have called you otherwise? There has been a descent of the Divine Will in you.”
I do not need to speak here of the various visions — some of them prophetic, some symbolic — that I had during my stay here after I came finally in February 1935; nor is it necessary to speak of the experience of the vast infinite that was given within a few years of my coming. The particular experience was this: A vast golden light with white masses in it descended and touched the crown of my head, then receded. At that moment of contact I became aware of its quality of peace, joy and freedom — each particle dancing with joy.
As a result, perhaps, soon afterwards I saw the heart lotus standing upright with some petals fully open. And then in a total stillness of the outer being I saw and felt the cool presence of a brilliant white flame, the size of a man’s thumb deep within the cave of the heart. This repeated itself for two or three days.
I wouldn’t say, with you, that I have arrived. Far from it, very far still. But the Grace of the Beloved Two has given me a feeling of certitude that my feet have touched the path that leads to Truth. And I hope and trust that my spiritual future, as that of the race, is safe, quite safe, in the hands of the Well-Beloved whose love and compassion know no bounds and whose Will has the sanction of the Supreme.
You may, if you like, see some of these letters from the Mother and Sri Aurobindo. They will give you an idea of their deep compassion, love and grace which have been vouchsafed to me in abundance. And I am no exception.