1910 – 1926 Pondicherry

1910 – 1926 Pondicherry

Sri Aurobindo reached Pondicherry on April 4, 1910. He was then 38 years old. He was received by several revolutionaries of Pondicherry. In fact some of them had been waiting for an Uttara Yogi, a yogi from the north. They had heard the prophecy that he would come as a fugitive and practise the Poorna Yoga. He would be recognized by three statements. These statements were made by Sri Aurobindo in a letter he wrote from Baroda to his wife Mrinalini Devi on August 30, 1905, where he spoke about his ‘three madnesses’. This letter was later found by the police and produced in court during the Alipore bomb trial.

“I have three madnesses. Firstly, it is my firm faith that all the virtue, talent, the higher education and knowledge and the wealth God has given me, belong to Him. I have the right to spend only so much as is necessary for the maintenance of the family and on what is absolutely needed...

The second madness has recently taken hold of me; it is this: by any means, I must have the direct experience of God. The religion of today, that is, uttering the name of God every now and then, in praying to Him in front of everybody, showing to people how religious one is—that I do not want. If the Divine is there, then there must be a way of experiencing His existence, of meeting Him; however hard be the path, I have taken a firm resolution to tread it. Hindu Dharma asserts that the path is there within one's own body, in one's mind. It has also given the methods to be followed to tread that path. I have begun to observe them...

The third madness is this: whereas others regard the country as an inert piece of matter and know it as the plains, the fields, the forests, the mountains and the rivers, I know my country as the Mother, I worship her and adore her accordingly. What would a son do when a demon, sitting on his mother's breast, prepares to drink her blood? Would he sit down content to take his meals or go on enjoying himself in the company of his wife and children, or would he rather run to the rescue of his mother? I know I have the strength to uplift this fallen race; not a physical strength, I am not going to fight with a sword or a gun, but with the power of knowledge. The force of the kṣatriya is not the only force, there is also the force of the Brahmin which is founded on knowledge. This is not a new feeling in me, not of recent origin, I was born with it, it is in my very marrow. God sent me to the earth to accomplish this great mission.”

Mrinalini passed away on December 17, 1918, in Calcutta, before she could come to Pondicherry.

From 1910, Sri Aurobindo had lived for several years with a few followers, depending entirely on donations to maintain them. Outwardly and financially these were very difficult times. Sri Aurobindo pointed out the precarious nature of their position in a letter to Motilal Roy written half humorously, but also half seriously:

“The situation just now is that we have Rs. 1½ or so in hand. Srinivasa is also without money. ... No doubt, God will provide, but He has contracted a bad habit of waiting till the last moment. I only hope He does not wish us to learn how to live on a minus quantity like Bharati.”

But the inner yoga, intense and unwavering, went on unaffected by outward circumstances. For four years it was a lonely and solitary journey. Sri Aurobindo’s sadhana and work were still waiting for the coming of the one who was to be his true collaborator, the Mother. She came from France in 1914. On March 29, a young French woman, Mirra Richard, arrived in Pondicherry with her husband Paul Richard and met Sri Aurobindo. Mirra was far along on her spiritual path and had already been inwardly in contact with a person whom she called Krishna and who had been guiding her.

When Mirra saw Sri Aurobindo she recognized him as the Krishna of her vision and knew that her place and work were with him in India. She wrote in her diary the next morning:

“It matters little that there are thousands of beings plunged in the densest ignorance, He whom we saw yesterday is on earth; his presence is enough to prove that a day will come when darkness shall be transformed into light, and Thy reign shall be indeed established upon earth.”

Immediately there was a greater impetus to the spiritual movement. On August l5, 1914, the monthly Arya was launched. Through the Arya, Sri Aurobindo presented to the world his great spiritual vision and the path to attain it. Nearly all the major works of Sri Aurobindo which were published later in book form—The Life Divine, The Synthesis of Yoga, The Human Cycle, The Ideal of Human Unity, On the Veda, The Upanishads, Essays on the Gita, The Foundations of Indian Culture, The Future Poetry—all of them first came out serially in the Arya. It was a veritable torrent which flowed, month after month, on a variety of subjects, words of surpassing depth and beauty, for seven years. And none of it was thought out; it did not even pass through his mind, but flowed straight from the Silent Consciousness into his pen.

In 1915, with the outbreak of the First World War, the Richards had to go back to France. Mirra went to Japan in 1916 and returned to Pondicherry in 1920, never to leave.