“The year 1969 was special to me. Apart from all that was happening elsewhere in the world, it was also the year the first caravans came to Auroville from Europe. I like to believe that Mother had decided to pull on the golden chains that tied her children to her and drew them closer, inviting them to join the ‘Adventure of Consciousness’ called Auroville. I believe that my inner being made use of this tide of the Mother’s force and brought me home to where I truly belong, in the realm of The Mother.
My grandparents were disciples of Sri Aurobindo and The Mother who joined the Ashram at Pondicherry in 1940s. My biological mother told me that I was 1 year old when I saw The Mother for the first time . It was the wish of my grandmother that her grandchildren join the Ashram school founded by The Mother. In those days, The Mother would look at the pictures of each child, particularly their eyes, before giving her consent. My two siblings and I went through this test and received her blessings for admission into the Ashram school.
I studied under the Free Progress System. This system was introduced by The Mother in the Ashram school. Here I was free to choose my subjects, my teachers, and make my own timetable. My schooling at the Ashram was steeped in the atmosphere of The Mother and Sri Aurobindo. Their teachings have been the biggest influencing factor all along and continue to be so. One of my favorite quotations printed on the back cover of our notebooks at school was: ‘For thyself, it is greater to be a good shoemaker than a luxurious and incompetent king.’ The Mother often reminded us, the students, that our aim is ‘perfection’. Whatever we do we must do it as perfectly, as well as possible. It is also not what we do, but the attitude with which we do the work that makes the difference.
A special privilege used to be granted to us on our birthdays. We could meet The Mother in her room and receive her blessings. The last time I saw her was on my birthday, 21st August 1972. This visit remains imprinted on my memory for all times. As I entered her room with the tray of stuffed toys I had made for her at school, I remember this feeling of awe engulfing me. I stood there like an idiot, not knowing what to do, completely overwhelmed by her presence, while she smiled sweetly and said “ Bonne Fête! Bonne Année! Ah! Des poupees, des poupees!” It is difficult to say what happened to me, but I could not move. It was finally Champaklal, Mother’s personal attendant, who shook me out of my stupor by commanding, ‘Put the tray down!’ I jumped out of my stupefaction and followed his instruction. I put my head on her feet and felt her hands going over my head as she blessed me. Then came the bouquet of flowers and the birthday card with her handwritten birthday wishes. In retrospect, I realise what a tremendous grace it was to have been blessed by her.
Auroville is the special project of The Mother. I have always felt a sense of belonging to this place somewhere in the back of my mind. Just like my fellow Aurovilians, I am bound towards my service and concern with the city’s welfare. One could say that in many ways I am married to Auroville, and to its dreams. During the early years of Auroville, one of The Mother’s messages to Aurovilians that remains close to me is ‘…There is no bad work―there are only bad workers. All work is good when you know how to do it in the right way.’ This message should be the very essence of our life in Auroville. I believe all Aurovilians are to follow the Karmayoga.
I have beautiful memories of coming to Auroville during school days. The most memorable ones are of visiting Auroville for the first time and standing under the Banyan tree at Matrimandir along with the visiting president of India. Another important memory is of when as students, we helped with concreting, during the construction work at Matrimandir for two days. Also as youngsters, we used to cycle in the dark to attend the New Year midnight meditation under the Banyan tree, had early morning picnics on Sundays, and took part in the Auroville marathons.
Matrimandir, to me, is all about love. My work in the Access Team of Matrimandir is really a teamwork. We do our best to fulfill our role of receiving visitors to Matrimandir as per her guidelines. Each member of the Access Group is committed to The Mother in their own way. We are conscious of the fact that this is The Mother’s place and she is very much present. Events organized here are done in the spirit of offering to the Universal Mother.
I have often been asked what is my advise be to those who wish to join Auroville? I would tell them, to first thoroughly study the Mother’s vision of Auroville and understand what she expects of us in this experiment. Then, carefully consider if they would sincerely like to be part of this experiment that is being conducted. If so, then what would be their contribution to this project in taking it forward towards its intended goal? In what way can they be useful to Mother? Life is not easy in Auroville. But if one remains connected to the force here, it will carry us forward through all difficulties – towards the luminous future that awaits us. So lastly, I would advise newcomers not to lose the sense of adventure which is to be a part of this project. Not to forget why we are here, and where we are heading!”