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.

Odisha has strong and long-standing connections with Sri Aurobindo and the Mother

Early report, Feb 3rd]   AVI International Meeting 2010

During the first two weeks of February Auroville International held its annual meeting 2010, first in Orissa and then in Auroville. The visit to Orissa was planned to make Auroville better known in this federal Indian state, which has strong and long-standing connections with Sri Aurobindo and the Mother. There are, for example, more than 600 Integral Educational Centers and 11,300 Sri Aurobindo Study Circles all over Orissa.
The Gajapati Maharaja Sri Dibyasingha Deb, former member of the Auroville Governing Board, had taken the patronage of the whole Orissa event, encouraging and supporting our main organizers and members of AVI France, Devasmita Patnaik, whose family comes from Orissa, and her husband Satyakam Karim. They meticulously planned the whole event, every single detail was thought of and carried out in the most beautiful way. Our gratitude to them is immense!
The Maharaja gave the opening speech at the public day in Bhubaneswar, capital of Orissa, stayed for the five hours of presentations cum music and dance interludes, had dinner with us later and invited us, during an outing some days later, to his palace in Puri for the Mahaprasad from the Jaganath Temple. His kind and open attitude impressed us all.
The main Auroville presentations took place in a big Bhubaneswar conference hall, adjacent to our lovely hotel. The presenters Deepti, Luigi, Joss, Toine and Uma spoke on Auroville´s way to realize human unity, on city planning and development, environmental work, sustainable energy and educational approach and on Auroville´s entrepreneurial and social outreach activities. They fascinated the audience of close to 500 people, triggering many interesting questions. An exhibition of Dominique Darr´s beautiful photos of 40 years Auroville experience was set up in the conference hall, giving the appropriate framework to the event.
Another presentation at KIIT Technical University the next day met with a smaller audience but some interested questions also followed.
Not only did our organizers give us a “state reception”, with an auspicious conch shell blowing, a music band and “Orissa greets Auroville International” banners welcoming us at the Bhubaneswar airport, but we were actually received by the Chief Minister of Orissa, Sri Naveen Patnaik. He gave us twenty minutes to explain the aim and purpose of our visit, kindly commenting on Auroville´s great mission for India and the world.
Valuable contacts with Orissa ministries, like with Mr. Debi Prassad Mishra, the state Minister of Tourism and Culture, with officials from the Ministry of Education, and other institutions engaged in cultural, social, educational and environmental work could be established from the Auroville presenters and the organizers.
Our experience of Oriya culture was extremely rich, we visited the beautiful temple sites of Bhubaneswar , Puri and Konarak, the caves of Khandagiri and Dhauligiri, the Tribal Art Museum and a tribal festival at Bhubaneswar , Raghurajpur, an artist village, which is on UNESCO´s World Heritage list and the Konarak Natya Mandap, the Dance Academy of Guru Gangadhar Pradhan.
Our gain in awareness about India´s extraordinary cultural wealth and diversity together with our bringing more awareness about Auroville and its aims, ideals and achievements to India encouraged us to start planning for a Gujarat experience in 2012, in combination with our next AVI meeting in Auroville.
On coming back to Auroville we were only given half a day to recover from this intense trip. An overly full week started immediately after, with two days of Auroville International Board meetings and General Assembly, during which our new Chairman was elected. Julian Lines (AVI USA ), who has served for two consecutive periods of two years, had to step back due to the rules of our statutes. Martin Littlewood (AVI UK ), well known to many Aurovilians through his long-standing involvement with Auroville and AVI, has been elected as new Chairman. Julian will start office as Executive Director, Sonia Dyne (AVI UK ) and Christian Feuillette (AVI Canada) will remain Vice-Chairmen, Friederike Mühlhans (AVI Germany) will remain AVI Secretary.
The remaining days and hours of the week were completely booked for two afternoons of interaction with the International Zone group, meetings with WC and L'Avenir and a long and extremely interesting row of presentations by Auroville groups, services and initiatives, like Green Center, AVIS, Entry service, Guest service, Outreach Media, Housing group, Health Clinic, Sadhana Forest and others. Special mention deserves Joss who gave us an extremely interesting presentation of his Adyar Poonga project, which some of us could visit on our way back from Chennai airport. He also spoke about some other great projects he is involved with, for the restoration and sustainable development of the whole coastal strip between Chennai and Puducherry. (The full meeting report will be published soon and Auroville Today has chosen our AVI meeting and center activities as its main focus for the March issue).
We can only congratulate all the dedicated people engaged with this wealth of projects and initiatives! One observation we would like to share with the Auroville community: According to our experience the awareness about all the great and important projects Aurovilians are involved with is extremely low among their fellow citizens. So it might be a good idea to have a regular “community day” where Aurovilians get to know about other Aurovilians' activities, learning to appreciate more what a vibrant, extraordinarily rich community in terms of skills, dedication, inventiveness and spirit this is.
Thanks a lot to our Auroville friends for all their attention and kindness and also to our AVI representative Vani who untiringly managed to navigate us through another great Auroville experience! Friederike (AVI Secretary)         Home > Organisation & Credentials > Auroville International > AVI Meetings > AVI International Meeting 2010