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A skeptic feels the Mother’s Force – Dilip Kumar Roy

by on April 13, 2012

[The episode of how a skeptical Vivekananda was granted a direct experience of the Divine by a touch from Sri Ramakrishna is well known to all and continues to inspire many a modern, rational “educated” person to venture into a greater world of inner experiences and spiritual truths. Less well known, but equally inspiring, is this account from “Sri Aurobindo Came To Me” by Dilip Kumar Roy, Chapter XIII, “The Mother”, in which he describes his first experience of the Mother’s Force]

In the preceding chapters I kept the Mother somewhat in the background because to the superficial view hers must appear a personality very distinct from that of Sri Aurobindo. But one who has won to the deeper vision and tried to follow the phenomenal growth of the Ashram cannot but be persuaded that without her dominant presence, superhuman patience and genius for organization (not to mention her ineffable personality of light and grace and courage) Sri Aurobindo’s Synthetic Yoga would never have found the convincing shape it has: in other words, his gospel could not have found an adequate medium of expression in the practical field. But even this is by no means the whole story. For none can hope to understand Sri Aurobindo fully without a basic understanding of his estimate of the place of the Mother’s divinity in his Yoga. One of his oldest and staunchest disciples, Rajani Palit, wrote to him (in August, 1938):

There are many who hold that the Mother was human once upon a time — to judge from her Prayers — but has outgrown her humanity through her sadhana. But to my psychic feeling, she is the Mother Divine herself, putting on the cloak of obscurity and suffering in order that we, humans, may be delivered out of our ignorance into knowledge, and out of our suffering into bliss.”

To that Sri Aurobindo replied categorically: “The Divine puts on an appearance of humanity, assumes the outward human nature in order to tread the path and show it to human beings, but does not cease to be the ‘Divine”. It is a manifestation that takes place, manifestation of a growing Divine consciousness, not human turning into divine.The Mother was inwardly above the human even in childhood. So the view held by ‘many’ is erroneous.

It will serve no useful purpose to go into the why and wherefore of it all. For after all the recognition of the Mother’s greatness or her Yogic Force is not like the positing of a scientific hypothesis to be ‘assumed and accepted tentatively’ subject to revision and modification as new data come to light. Still, as one of the major aims of my reminiscences is to testify to Yogic truths and experiences as I and others have realised them in the Ashram, a personal impression of the Mother may well be recorded here as germane to my purpose. Naturally, I hesitate to  deal with a personality such as the Mother’s in such a summary fashion, but she will, I hope, pardon such babbling tributes knowing that even in our inspired moods we can hardly expect to express more than a fraction of what we owe to her.

I shall describe in brief my first experience of her Force since it may help my readers to glimpse in her what we ourselves did intermittently in the course of our day-to-day struggles with our obstinate egos opposing her will. When I met her for the first time in August 1928,1 was struck by her sweet personality and felt a deep exhilaration which I could not account for. The joy left a cadence of music in my heart though, of course, there could be no question of surrendering my will to hers. The first question I asked her was whether what Sri Aurobindo called the Yogic Force acting through her personality could achieve anything “tangible”.

She gave me an amused smile.

“What do you mean by ‘tangible’?”

“You see, Mother,” I answered, “I have been praying daily before Sri Ramakrishna’s photograph for years — since my adolescence. But though I have often felt an upsurge of bhakti, I have never yet felt anything else, far less seen any gardens of gleam, letters of light, figures of flame etc. I have therefore come to the conclusion that I am too opaque to the inward ray of the Spirit. I know really less than nothing about Yogic Force. Let me add that though my interest in life as it is is fast petering out.

I cannot yet make up my mind to take the plunge — breaking away from my moorings. To cut a long story short, I would ask you if you could possibly initiate me in your Yoga — for I understand I have to obtain initiation, first and last, from you. I can accept to wait till I feel more sure about your Yogic Force being a living reality. My position is this: I can stake everything I still cherish — but only for something real and concrete, not something vague and apocryphal. In short, I cannot take a leap blindfold into the unknown. So I have come to ask you very simply — but trenchantly — whether you can possibly give me a trial so as to convince me about the reality of your Yogic Force. But mind you, I want the Force to speak to me in a way which cannot possibly be explained away as auto suggestion, wishful thinking or hallucination.”

Mother smiled once more.

“I can try'” she said simply. “You are at the Hotel? when do you retire for the night? At nine? Meditate at that hour in your room — try to open yourself to me and I will concentrate on you from here. Maybe you will get something which cannot be explained away even by such impressive names scientific or otherwise.”

(I have of course given here, as usual, only the gist of our talk. But as we did not talk of anything very profound I can claim to have given a fairly faithful description of what passed between us on the 16th August, 1928.)

The experience came in a most curious way. As, after dinner, I went up to my room in the Hotel, I sat down on the floor. It was quite cool with the fan whirling at top speed. I must here inform the reader that I have never been timid by nature, nor had I, hitherto, ever experienced anything eerie or even strange during my meditations. An old disciple had indeed once advised me, casually, to take the Mother’s name should anything ‘untoward’ happen. But I had only smiled at the word. How could anything untoward happen to me when I only wanted Krishna? Besides, ghosts and spirits were too fantastic to be able to exist except, of course, as vapours of a heated brain.

So, naturally, I sat down to meditation in a flawlessly confident mood. I did indeed expect to see so many things: lights, colours, some figures, with luck may be even a radiant form — who knows? But then, I told myself, I must be on my guard: strong desires and expectations might very well take shape as forms in one’s meditation and auto-suggestion must, above all, be staved off — and so on. In short, in my wise folly, I was unwittingly arming myself with vigilance against my Gurus.

Suddenly I found my body stiffening and I started perspiring profusely; then — to complete my discomfiture — my heart beat so fast that I got scared. What is all this? Suddenly I remembered and took the Mother’s name. At once the palpitation ceased. But I was wet all over with perspiration, and the tension in my body increased till my muscles became so stiff that I felt a positive pain.

As soon as the palpitation ceased, my fear left me but not my astonishment. For, palpably, some extraneous force was acting on my body — a force the like of which I had never experienced so vividly before! Also, obviously, it had nothing to do with auto-suggestion since I had never even imagined that an invisible Force could so convincingly twist the live, material muscles of a strong sceptic — healthy, wide-awake and normal to his fingertips! So I did not know what to make of it all: what came to pass was too outlandish to be true and yet wasn’ t it too concrete to be dismissed as fanciful!

But that was, alas, all. I saw nothing — not even a grasshopper, to say nothing of a benevolent deity — felt no joy, no peace, no strength, no bhakti. Most disappointing and yet in a way so utterly, overwhelmingly impressive! For a person almost inaccessible to fear was here getting scared, a heart which had never palpitated was fluttering causelessly! And last, though not least, profuse perspiration, in a cool room, attended by the sensation of one’s muscles being actually manhandled all over one’s body! I was convinced that a definite Force was taking liberties with me — albeit in an almost impertinent if not lunatic way!

Next morning, after relating to Mother the whole gamut of my curious experiences, I asked her why she had so oddly wanted to cause me this kind of meaningless pain when she could well have given me peace and joy and so many other things worth while.

“But I didn’t want to cause you pain at all,” she laughed, vastly tickled. “Only, you were resisting, so my Force could not give you the peace and joy which you would have felt if you had not opposed it tooth and nail, with all the weapons of your wise scepticism and assured ignorance. One must have trust in the Divine.”

“But you need not worry,” she added, mollifyingly, “for I have found you quite receptive. I will say no more now. Go on with your meditations: my help will always be with you. The tension and pain will disappear after a week or two — or perhaps sooner if you can manage to trust the Divine Grace which brought you to Sri Aurobindo.”

What she had foretold came to pass afterwards in due course. I was impressed, naturally. So there were, really and literally, “more things in heaven and earth” than could be dreamt of by the “philosophy” of reason and science! It is all very well to talk contemptuously of supernatural phenomena (didn’t the Christ castigate the itch for a “sign” as vulgar?) but when these fall within our ken and can be traced to the agency of one whom we sincerely esteem, an indelible mark is left, inevitably, on our minds. So hence-forth I began to look upon the Mother as superior to all of us put together, even though my highbrow reason wanted to dismiss such powers rather summarily. Besides, was she not primarily responsible for my heightened respect for the occult powers of Yoga which in its turn helped me weather the storm of opposition I had to pass through before I could come to port at her feet for good?

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