Compiled and edited by Supriya Bhattacharya
A collection of essays and talks published over a long period of time in the journal Mother India. Many of these relate to Nirodbaran’s recollections of his fellow-sadhakas during the early days of the Ashram, providing “an intimate picture of the unpretentious dedication of their life to the Master and the Mother”. There are also other articles on miscellaneous subjects.
The editor remarks that upon going through these writings when they appeared in Mother India, he was “thrilled by the sheer beauty of his prose, the coruscating wit, the rich allusions, the irridiscent poetry and the hidden depth of yearning; vision of a world within world, a sweetness that beckoned; and above all, his overabounding vitality, his sure eye for a significant detail, common sense and intuitive flashes; and a fine distillation in prose of the sweetness and light, of the eternal wonder that is Sri Aurobindo and the Mother.”
Supriyo Bhattacharya must be congratulated for taking the initiative in bringing out these two books (An Interview with Nirodbaran and Selected Essays and Talks of Nirodbaran), one a short interview with Nirodda and another a selection of some old essays and talks written over a long period of time.
The first one, which consists of an interview with Nirodbaran, is a small book of just a little more than 20 pages. In this short interview Nirodda illumines us on two aspects of Sri Aurobindo. The first one is the help he got from Sri Aurobindo in his poetic creation and the second some very illuminating aspects of the composition of Savitri. Both these aspects are very interesting and useful. To the budding artist and poet, there are profound hints, which will help him in his creative work. The second aspect regarding the composition of Savitri is a wonderful testimony to the creative genius of Sri Aurobindo. It depicts the way a Yogi goes about his creative work.
The second book Selected Essays and Talks of Nirodbaran is a very fine and timely production. It contains a series of talks and essays written by Nirodda spread over a long period of time. These writings are mainly descriptions and pen-sketches of the sadhaks who formed the backbone of the Ashram in the early days. Of course, there is a chapter on Sri Aurobindo as Guru and this is definitely the most inspiring chapter in the book.
The Ashram was formed or rather formed itself in 1926. It started with a small number of disciples. Over the years the numbers started increasing and quite naturally the outer form and structure also underwent great changes, sometimes even radical changes. But through all these changes the central spirit and ambience of the Ashram has always remained the same. However to be able to see and feel this central spirit is not always easy. For we human beings tend to be carried away by the external form and often miss the depths. It is in this context that this book serves a very useful purpose. Through the lives of the early sadhaks, through very interesting anecdotes and above all their interaction with the Mother and Sri Aurobindo, one is taken back to the old ambience and atmosphere of the early Ashram. To all those who are sensitive and open, it can become the starting point of a deeper contact with the Mother and the Master. Written in a simple and intensely personal style, this book can be a springboard for newcomers in particular to go back in time and feel the old atmosphere, which though apparently covered up is always there below the surface waiting to be discovered.
Starting from the apparently aloof spiritual personality of Nolinida, the witty and ever charming personality of Amritada, the author moves through a gamut of personalities, each one unique in his own way till we come to the dogged determination and ever faithful personality of Nishikanta. The author has traced some very interesting aspects of these early sadhaks; much more he has brought out some intimate aspects of the Mother and Sri Aurobindo, which are generally not known to most disciples. The selection of these essays and talks is also quite remarkable. For they throw a great deal of light on the Ashram of the early days. All the names selected have been stalwarts in their own way and have played their role in the great work and the formation of the Ashram. As one goes through the chapters one is taken back to the spiritual ambience when Sri Aurobindo and the Mother were in their physical body. For those who were fortunate to live in the Ashram during those wonderful days, it is a very sweet reminder of the past, and for those who were not fortunate to be physically present then, it opens the door to feel the atmosphere of those wonderful days.
This book is, to put it simply, a timely and fine contribution to kindling the fire of aspiration in the hearts of the devotees and disciples of Sri Aurobindo and the Mother.
? Kittu Reddy
Kittu Reddy has been teaching at the Sri Aurobindo International Centre of Education since 1958. He currently teaches History and Sri Aurobindo’s works.