Reading and writing are uniquely human activities; they connect us to each other in complex and myriad ways. People read for many different reasons: most simply to gain information and augment their mental, vital, and material lives but more deeply to discover and define their individuality, to seek answers to the more difficult existential questions that confront them, to prepare themselves for change. People may write for similar reasons. Or perhaps they have seen a light that illumines the way, some answers to those perplexing questions. Serious readers are likely to share with the best authors a profound need to know themselves better.
The books presented in these newsletters cover social, philosophic, and literary subjects and are written by scholars, sadhaks, poets, social commentators, and educators, all connected in one way or the other with the integral Yoga of Sri Aurobindo and the Mother. A book review or a book jacket blurb can give a snapshot view of the book's theme or contents, but rarely do we get to see the genesis of the book, the inspiration that moved the author to share the inner visions of mind and heart. In the short account that follows, Sunanda Poddar recalls how her book Stories and Plays for Children, which is in its tenth impression, came to be written and published in 1956.
My book of stories and plays began in a very unusual way. When I was sixteen years old and staying at Golconde, I would each night scribble some words and phrases on a scrap of paper. These ideas for stories came to my consciousness without any mental activity or effort but just as if someone was telling me a story or describing a scene. I felt compelled to jot down whatever I received in this manner. The next morning I would tear up these pieces of paper and toss them into the trash. One day Mona, who was in charge of Golconde, asked me what I was doing with all those bits of papers that filled the waste basket each morning. In those days, the early to mid-1950s, we were still conserving paper very carefully.
I was a bit upset at this apparent scolding and decided to “confess” to the Mother. While explaining to her what was happening at night in my room at Golconde, I asked her to help me to stop this activity. Then she told me that anything that comes like this is not my writing at all. I should continue to note down these stories and bring everything to her. This was the beginning of my daily visits to her.
The Mother kept all the stories I brought to her and never said anything to me. However, one evening in the Playground where I had gone as usual for prasad, she asked me to stay behind. She made a sign to her attendant and then suddenly he came and put a book in her hand. She asked for a pen, opened the flyleaf, and put the date, 23.4.56, and her signature. She moved her finger over the date several times, as if to show me its importance. Then she handed me the book. To my surprise the book was called Stories and Plays for Children and my name was at the bottom of the cover. It took me quite some time to realise just what had happened. I found out later from Nolini-da that the Mother had given him a stack of my papers, remarking that there seemed to be some good stories among them. She asked him to go through the pile and see what could be done. Nolini-da reported back that there were quite a few complete stories. Then it was decided to bring them out as a book. These stories and plays were written between 1952 and 1955. During this time the Mother gave me the work of telling stories to young children (aged six to eight years). When I asked her if I should tell them fairy tales or Indian myths, she replied, “None of those. You go to the class and whatever has to be told will come to you.” Sometimes the children and I waited quite a while until something came! This was the beginning of my work with children which continued for many years.
In this issue we present two new publications that offer readers engaging perspectives on the nexus between literature and yoga.
NEW PUBLICATIONS To order any book, click on the title, which will locate the book in our online catalogue. Next, add it to the shopping cart. You may then proceed to pay by credit card online.
The Sun and the Rainbow
Approaches to Life through Sri Aurobindo's Light: Essays, Letters, Poems, Short Stories— Amal Kiran (K. D. Sethna) ISBN: 978-81-87916-08-6 Publisher: Clear Ray Trust, Pondicherry Binding: Soft Cover Pages: 214 Price: Rs 150
This book is a collection of essays, letters, poems, short stories, and experiences, most of which appeared previously in the monthly journal Mother India. Their author, who was also editor of the journal, has written widely on poetry, literature, history, and philosophy, and is well known as a poet. In the writings collected here, he presents insights into Sri Aurobindo's thought, historical perspectives, remembrances of life in the Ashram, guidance to fellow seekers, poetry, and a special supplement highlighting aspects of the Mother's relation with his wife Sehra.
This new edition has come out after many years.
Sri Aurobindo's Yogic Consciousness & Poetry
— Dr Nikhil Kumar ISBN: 978-81-86931-71-4 Publisher: Novelty & Co., Patna Binding: Hard Cover Pages: 107 Price: Rs 150
The premise for this book is essentially a statement Sri Aurobindo made in one of his letters on Savitri, wherein he says that the poem was a “field of experimentation to see how far poetry could be written from one’s own yogic consciousness and how that could be made creative”. The author attempts to explore how the higher planes of consciousness as described by Sri Aurobindo, especially in Savitri’s yogic journey, manifest in a sublime poetic consciousness and likewise how the writing of the highest form of poetry demands an essential change in the inner poise of the poet.
Prashna aur Uttar 1929–31 va Dhammapada par Teekayen
— Sri Mataji ISBN: 978-81-7058-864-1 Publisher: Sri Aurobindo Ashram Publication Department, Pondicherry Binding: Soft Cover Pages: 358 Price: Rs 175
Early conversations of the Mother with disciples, as well as Commentaries on the Dhammapada.
This new edition has come out after a long time.
Jeevan Jeene ki Kala
— Jyoti Thanki Publisher: Sri Aurobindo Society, Ujjain Binding: Soft Cover Pages: 66 Price: Rs 15
Prarthna hai, Antah-Karan ki Pukar
— Jyoti Thanki Publisher: Sri Aurobindo Society, Ujjain Binding: Soft Cover Pages: 40 Price: Rs 40
— Priti Das Gupta ISBN: 978-81-86413-45-6 Publisher: Sri Mira Trust, Pondicherry Binding: Soft Cover Pages: 275 Price: Rs 75
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