Monday, March 01, 2010

Balcony Darshan began in 1938

The One Whom We Adore as the Mother (DVD) February is the Mother’s month and the Ashram is always full of visitors who come to experience the Darshan day on her birthday, February 21st. This year the Ashram has released an audiovisual presentation on DVD titled The One Whom We Adore as the Mother, which portrays the story of the Mother’s life and work through a series of photographs and a narration based on passages from the writings of Sri Aurobindo and the Mother. Various phases of the Mother’s life are enhanced by the projection of her paintings and drawings, done in Paris, Japan, and Pondicherry. Paintings of Ashram buildings and Pondicherry seascapes by Ashram artists lend colour and atmosphere, and Sunil’s music expresses a mood of gratitude and adoration. Through the course of the one-hour presentation, the power and presence of the Divine Mother are constantly invoked through cadenced recitations from Sri Aurobindo’s book The Mother. Included also are many old photographs that convey the intense and deeply concentrated atmosphere of the early years of the Ashram. We learn about the soup ceremony that took place in the Library House, the pranam ceremony held daily in what is now known as the Meditation Hall, and how in 1938 the early morning Balcony Darshan began—and remained a fixture in Ashram life until 1962. Reminiscences from disciples such as Nolini Kanta Gupta, Sahana Devi, A. B. Purani, and Amal Kiran add a special interest to these descriptions.
Also released this month is The Mother on Japan, a compilation from the Mother’s letters, talks, and messages. In the pages of this book we get a keen sense of the Mother’s impressions of Japan, the exquisite beauty of the land, and the unique qualities of the people, as well as some of the experiences she had while living there from 1916 to 1920. In this passage, which is taken from a letter written in 1917 from Akakura, Japan, she writes about the Japanese people:
But if you have – as we have had – the privilege of coming in contact with the true Japanese, those who kept untouched the righteousness and bravery of the ancient Samurai, then you can understand what in truth is Japan, you can seize the secret of her force. They know how to remain silent; and though they are possessed of the most acute sensitiveness, they are, among the people I have met, those who express it the least. A friend here can give his life with the greatest simplicity to save yours, though he never told you before he loved you in such a profound and unselfish way. Indeed he had not even told you that he loved you at all. And if you were not able to read the heart behind the appearances, you would have seen only a very exquisite courtesy which leaves little room for the expression of spontaneous feelings. Nevertheless the feelings are there, all the stronger perhaps because of the lack of outward manifestation; and if an opportunity presents itself, through an act, very modest and veiled sometimes, you suddenly discover depths of affection.
Although both the DVD and the book can be viewed or read in a single sitting, they are full of rich and elegantly presented glimpses of the Mother’s life.
The Mother on Japan Compiled from the Mother’s talks, messages, and letters as well as from her Prayers and Meditations, this work focuses on the Mother’s experiences of Japan, where she lived from 1916 until 1920. It begins with a long introduction extracted from Georges Van Vrekhem’s book The Mother: The Story of Her Life and includes photographs of the Mother in Japan and her paintings from that period. In these selections the Mother describes her impressions of Japan, Japanese art, and the children of Japan, and comments on the terrible flu that devastated Japan in 1919.
This compilation from the writings of Sri Aurobindo and the Mother deals with many topics concerning the psychic being: its place in the human being and its nature and mission, the growth and development of the psychic being and its role in the evolution, the psychic transformation, the psychic being and the sadhana, life after death, and reincarnation. These passages reveal the importance of knowing the nature of our soul, which shares in the inalienable delight of the Divine, and towards which we are growing through our ignorance.

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