Today I would like to share with you some stories among which two were narrated to me by Chitra-di (Chitra Sen, inmate of Sri Aurobindo Ashram since 1940) and Gauri-di (Gauri Pinto, daughter of Udar and Mona Pinto who was practically born in the Ashram; in fact, she received her name from the Mother).
The first story which is about Sri Aurobindo and narrated to me by Chitra-di requires a brief introduction. In the early years of the Ashram, Sri Aurobindo’s clothes were washed by Champaklal, Moti-ben (his aunt), Anjali and Bibha and ironed by Nalina and Anjali. The clothes were washed in the house of Datta (Dorothy Mary Hodgson who had accompanied the Mother from
to Japan and settled in the Ashram as an inmate; Sri Aurobindo had given her a new name—Vasavadatta—Datta in short). While the Mother’s clothes were washed in the morning, Sri Aurobindo’s clothes were washed at by Anjali and Bibha. In fact, it was from Bibha that Chitra-di had heard this story. Pondicherry
There was a napkin which was used to wipe a table in Sri Aurobindo’s room. In due course of time, the napkin got so worn out that it became impossible for the ladies to wash it because they were afraid that it might get torn as the threads might give way any time. When the matter was reported to Champaklal, he arranged for a new napkin. But when it was brought to Sri Aurobindo’s notice, he said: “Champaklal, how could you reject so easily something which has served you faithfully for so many years!” Those who served Sri Aurobindo always claimed that he had an impersonal nature but this particular remark of his reveal the magnitude of his compassion which didn’t ignore even a worn-out napkin.
I am reminded of another incident recalled by Sudhir Kumar Sarkar (Mona-da’s father) who was an associate of Sri Aurobindo during his political days. Once when he was staying with Sri Aurobindo at Deogarh in the residence of Raj Narayan Bose (Sri Aurobindo’s maternal grandfather), he had a severe attack of fever. He was lying on a thick cotton carpet spread on the floor on which Sri Aurobindo used to type his renderings of the Mahabharata in verse form. Due to his illness, Sudhir Sarkar spurred on the typed sheets. He had expected Sri Aurobindo to scold him or rush to save his manuscripts. But what did Sri Aurobindo do? He slowly got up and cleaned up the mess.
Another story: Pujalal used to clean Sri Aurobindo’s bedroom early in the morning while Sri Aurobindo took his bath. Once, Sri Aurobindo asked the Mother to tell Pujalal not to shake the door of the room because a bird was perching there. As long as the bird stayed there, the door was not touched.
The next story (narrated by Gauri-di) speaks of the Mother’s compassionate nature. Some devotees were travelling to
from Pondicherry in a train and they were talking among themselves about Sri Aurobindo, the Mother and the Ashram. A villager, who was listening to their conversation, went up to them, gave them a rupee and requested to offer the money to the Mother. When the money was offered to the Mother, she said: “How can I ever repay this man?” Calcutta
Such love and compassion can only be expressed by Sri Aurobindo and the Mother because in their eyes, all their children were equal. They descended upon the earth to love all without any discrimination. In the words of Sri Aurobindo:
“Thou who disdainest not the worm to be
Nor even the clod,
Therefore we know by that humility
That thou art God.”
With love and regards,