Friday, September 11, 2009

Sri Aurobindo’s psychological and psycho-spiritual thought

Moments Eternal, one of the new books introduced below, is a collection of reminiscences by Priti Das Gupta. The charm of the book lies in its wealth of intimate details and its candid and spontaneous style, for it is a record of how a young woman who comes to live in the Ashram learns to understand her own nature while learning how to live a life offered completely to the Divine’s work. Day by day she encounters the Mother not only as the Supreme Divine in all her multiple personalities but also as a best friend, a comrade at play, a teacher, and, of course, a loving mother. Interwoven with the vignettes of life in the Ashram are family memories from her childhood in Bengal, the two creating a kind of tapestry that when complete portrays the story of Priti’s growing awareness of her soul.
Each chapter reveals some “moments eternal”, as in the following excerpt which occurred not long after Priti came to settle in the Ashram and when she was feeling very shy in her new environment:

When I went to the Mother I would feel Her so exalted, so distant that I felt helpless. But then a strong attraction like a magnet would draw me to the Mother. Hardly had I entered Her room [when] She would greet me: “Bonjour, mon enfant” (Good morning, my child), and then lovingly give me a flower. She would keep smiling as she looked at me but I just could not forget that the Mother was that very Mahashakti (Supreme Power) that governed this world and the universe. The Mother strove to teach me to be simple and free but I was always in awe. I always felt that I was a most ordinary girl from a little town called Feni. And I just could not get over my diffidence. Suddenly, one day, I entered the Mother’s room and involuntarily exclaimed: “Bonjour, Douce Mère!” (Good morning, Sweet Mother!) But then immediately afterwards I felt a little ashamed. The Mother hugged me happily and said: “There! You’ve spoken! That’s very good, very good!” And in this way the wall of diffidence crumbled with that ‘Bonjour’. And in time a close friendship grew with the Mother.

In another incident Priti recalls how the Mother taught them to accomplish even the smallest work with perfection:
The Mother always expected from us work that was flawless and perfect. She did not tolerate any defect or imperfection. Here I am reminded of an amusing incident. Our press had just started printing books then. A few copies of these newly printed books were first sent to the Mother. The Mother’s eye fell straight on the page where a word had been misspelt: in place of a ‘t’ there was an ‘f’. Oh Lord, how upset She was! We had to open all the books and replace the ‘f’ with a ‘t’. We sat quietly rubbing out the ‘t’s and writing ‘f’s in their place. We did this with the utmost concentration. The Mother was naturally delighted with this response from us. It was quite astonishing that every time in proofreading a book or any other publication, the mistake that escaped our eyes would instantly be picked up by the Mother!
Also introduced in this issue is a new compilation from A. S. Dalal, The God-Touch, which takes its title from one of the often-quoted lines from Sri Aurobindo’s epic poem Savitri:
All can be done if the god-touch is there. Dalal admits in his Preface that in his several readings of Savitri from beginning to end, he noted down the passages that contained Sri Aurobindo’s psychological and psycho-spiritual thought, to which he had always been particularly drawn. He calls these collected passages his “Savitri Reader”. This book represents a small portion of that personal reader, organised under twenty captions, which include some of the major themes to be found in the poem.
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The God-Touch and Other Lights from Sri Aurobindo's Savitri
— Edited by A. S. Dalal ISBN: 978-81-7058-898-6Publisher: Sri Aurobindo Ashram Publication Department, PondicherryBinding: Soft CoverPages: 139Price: Rs 65
These selected passages from Savitri are arranged under twenty headings with the intent to present to readers, those new to the epic as well as those familiar with it, a thematic approach for reading the poem. The subtitle of each heading provides the general theme of the passages that follow, such as “This Enigmatic World”, “Fate and Destiny”, “Life—a Journey and an Ascent”, and “The Deeper Seeing”. Each passage expresses a more or less complete thought and represents a certain aspect of Sri Aurobindo's vision as revealed in the poem.
Moments Eternal
— Priti Das Gupta ISBN: 978-81-86413-53-1Publisher: Sri Mira Trust, PondicherryBinding: Soft CoverPages: 291Price: Rs 100
This book presents a series of vignettes from the author’s early childhood in Bengal, her first visit to Pondicherry, and her many years of life in the Ashram, where she settled in 1944. The stories convey how a young woman learned some essential truths of spiritual life, while communicating the warmth and intensity of the intimacy she and her companions shared as they matured under the Mother’s guidance. Through these reminiscences the author describes the significance of her life in the Ashram and evokes many aspects of the Mother’s personality.
The Story of a Soul
Volume Two, 1956—Part Two— Huta ISBN: 978-81-87372-22-6Publisher: The Havyavahana Trust, PondicherryBinding: Soft CoverPages: 230Price: Rs 350
The Story of a Soul, Huta’s journal of her progress on the spiritual path, runs from 1954 to 1973. This volume covers the second half of 1956 and records many of her conversations with the Mother, their private meditations in the Mother’s room at the Playground, and their correspondence. In her numerous cards and messages the Mother consoled Huta in her difficulties, appreciated her skill in various works, and promised to help her realise her true being. The book also includes the account of how the Mother introduced Huta to her future work as an artist.
Integral Yoga and Psychoanalysis - II
Suffering, Gratitude, and Joy— Miranda Vannucci Publisher: Miranda Vannucci, ItalyBinding: Soft CoverPages: 140Price: Rs 600
This book, similar in format to the previous volume Integral Yoga and Psychoanalysis - I, is an attempt to suggest possible points of contact between the disciplines of psychotherapy and the integral Yoga. In Part One of this book the author explores depression, pain, and the sense of guilt, offering analytical hints from her own work as a psychoanalyst as stimuli for the process of psychological purification which is so important to the practice of the Yoga. In Part Two she reflects on gratitude and joy, with some consideration of the antithetical roles of envy and jealousy and criticism and doubt. Numerous extracts from the works of Sri Aurobindo and the Mother are used to elaborate the author’s premise.
Sri Aurobindo's Message for Today and Other Articles
— Satadal Publisher: Sri Aurobindo Sthan, KolkataBinding: Soft CoverPages: 87Price: Rs 100
This collection of short articles includes pieces on some of the early disciples, descriptions of commemorative events in the Ashram such as the golden jubilees of the Ashram school and the Mother India journal, thoughts on musical and dramatic performances given in the Ashram, and several poems. The title essay presents the author’s thoughts on the present global crisis in the light of Sri Aurobindo’s message to humanity.
An International Volume of Sri Aurobindo's "Hymn to Durga" (Ten Languages)
— Sri Aurobindo Publisher: Satadal, PondicherryBinding: Soft CoverPages: 40Price: Rs 40
This booklet is a rendition of the short prose piece Hymn to Durga in ten languages: the original Bengali, English, French, Sanskrit, Oriya, Hindi, Tamil, German, Spanish, and Malayan. Sri Aurobindo, who wrote the piece in 1909, invokes Mother Durga to make herself manifest in India, giving her sons and daughters the courage, strength, and knowledge to fight the powers of darkness that keep her in bondage.

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