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“That’s why Sri Aurobindo left his body.”—the Mother

by on May 14, 2012

There’s just one thing… I don’t know… it’s when you say Sri Aurobindo “succumbed” on 5 December 1950. He didn’t “succumb.” It’s not that he couldn’t have done otherwise. It’s not the difficulty of the work that made him leave; it’s something else. You can’t mention this in your book, of course, it’s impossible to talk about for the moment, but I would like you to use another word. What was your sentence again? 

He didn’t succumb. 

We have to use another word, not “succumb.” It was truly his CHOICE—he chose to do the work in another way, a way he felt would bring much more rapid results. But this explanation is nobody’s business, for the moment. So we can’t say that he succumbed. “Succumbed” gives the idea that it was against his will, that it just happened, that it was an accident—it CANNOT be “succumbed.” 

You could simply say that he did the work up to that moment… that’s all, giving no reason. … Can’t you just put “that’s why,” without giving any explanation? … That’s why Sri Aurobindo left his body. That’s much more powerful. You said “even death,” so just put: “That’s why Sri Aurobindo left his body.” 

25 December 1962

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  1. RY Deshpande permalink

    [A friend sends the following from the Agenda, 26 July 1969]

    The mystery is always why he left.

    I remember quite clearly and precisely (I still see the whole setting, in his room) a conversation I once had with him—in what connection, I don’t know …. It was … (I forget what preceded, you understand), he told me, “We can’t both remain upon earth, one must go.” Then I said to him, “I am ready, I’ll go.” Then he told me, “No, you can’t go, your body is better than mine, you can undergo the transformation better than I can do.”

    And the strange thing is that … It took place just before all his physical difficulties.

    But I didn’t attach too much importance [to that conversation]; it’s only when he left that it suddenly came back, and I thought, “So there, he knew! …” It was … I don’t know. It was almost like a speculation, you understand, which he was just mentioning. It was at the time of our moving from the other house to this one, [in February 1927] because it took place one day in that room, here [downstairs], and it was before his accident, before he broke his leg [on 24 November 1938]. In what connection, I forget. That’s gone. But I remember clearly, so clearly, I still see the room and everything, how he was, how he told me, “We can’t both remain upon earth.” That’s all.

    But why can’t “both” remain?
    Ah, that’s the question.

    But when he said it to me, I found it so obvious that I didn’t even ask him. So it must have followed something, and that something is gone.

    Because I remember, I told him, “I am absolutely ready, I’ll go.” Then he looked at me, and he said, “No, no, your body is better than mine, it can undergo …”

    Why? … How many times since then I have asked myself that question.

    Yes, one would be tempted to think that with two, one can better support each other…
    These last few days it came once again; once again I looked and looked, and … (a gesture expressing that she does not know).

    It depended on something, but what? I don’t know.

    I remember another thing, but then much more recent. After he left, long ago, years and years ago (it was not very long after he left, maybe a year or two), I was downstairs, in the bathroom downstairs, and in that bathroom, early in the morning I was taking my breakfast on the corner of a table, like that. Then, while I was beginning to eat, he came and stood there (gesture beside her), and he was so concrete that I felt as if … it would take VERY LITTLE for him to become material again. So I said to him, “Oh, you are coming back!” Like that. And then … he answered me, “I’ll be with you, but I can’t come back materially—I MUST NOT come back materially.”

    It was so material that I suddenly felt, “Oh, nothing, a mere nothing would be enough … [for him to materialize].”

    But doesn’t it mean that your presence here could help him, one day, to materialize in another body?
    Yes, yes …. That he said clearly (I asked him), he clearly said, “I’ll come back only in a supramental body.”

    That was before what I have just told you.

  2. RY Deshpande permalink

    The withdrawal of Sri Aurobindo will always remain a mystery to us. It is too luminous, too occult, too profound for any human faculty to comprehend or feel or grasp. Yet in our own foolish way we can continue to narrate it as an ordinary mundane story or event, give a “factual” account. The best example of this foolishness is in The Lives of Sri Aurobindo. This is what its wise biographer writes:

    Monday, December 4, Sri Aurobindo felt much better in the morning. The doctors noted with relief that the respiratory distress was gone. His temperature was close to normal. He went to his armchair and sat serenely for a while. The doctors asked whether he was using his yogic power to cure himself. He replied with a simple no. "Why not?", they insisted. "Can't explain. You won't understand." Around noon, his respiratory difficulty reappeared, and his temperature rose above 100 degrees. He rested for a few hours, got up, went to the bathroom, then sat for a while in his armchair. After returning to his bed, he went within. Champaklal sat disconsolately at his feet. From time to time Sri Aurobindo emerged from his drawn-in state, leaned forward, and kissed his faithful attendant on the cheek.


    In the evening the Mother returned from her activities. The doctors gave their report, adding that they wanted to arrange for intravenous transfusions. She said: "I told you this is not necessary. He has no interest in himself. He is withdrawing." Around eleven o'clock she came again, gave him some juice, and went away. When she returned an hour later, Sri Aurobindo "opened his eyes and the two looked at each other in a steady gaze." She again left the room, but came back at around one o'clock in the morning of December 5. This time Sri Aurobindo remained withdrawn. "What do you think?" she asked Sanyal. "Can I retire for an hour?" The doctor did not know what to say. "Call me when the time comes," she said, and went to her room. At this point Sri Aurobindo's breathing was so labored that he had to be given oxygen. Around 1:15, he roused himself, inquired about the time, and asked Nirodbaran for something to drink. After sipping a bit of juice, he plunged within. His attendants huddled anxiously around him. Nirodbaran and Champaklal massaged his feet while Sanyal brushed his hair. Suddenly a tremor ran through his body. He drew up his arms and placed them across his chest. At 1:26 his breathing ceased.


    For a half-hour after Sri Aurobindo's death, his attendants sat stunned around his bed. The Mother joined them and stood silently at his feet. Seeing Champaklal sobbing, she silenced him with a look. After a while she went out, and Sanyal, Nirodbaran, and others began to prepare the body for public viewing.

    The claim is, the author would maintain, to be just objective. But in the objective realm itself even the most scientific thinking is governed by values. To say that facts are all is a fallacy for the simple reason that they do not mean much. There is always the driving urge to get at the underlying principles of things and processes. In the combination of two atoms of hydrogen and one of oxygen is the appearance of water which carries none of the values of the constituents. Science is not in a position to tell anything about the coming of new qualities, new properties. But the quest of science is to get down to it. However, we have absolutely no notion of any such quest in the Lives though its author is living in a spiritual institution for about four decades and is writing an account of a spiritual colossus. The pity is, he is not even open to the spiritual revelations made by him or his collaborator, the Mother. He seems to be oblivious of what the Mother has all along been saying about Sri Aurobindo. One may ask the question “why?”; but unless that opening, that call is there one cannot expect to see the “value” as against the “fact” in the life of the Yogi. It is this lack of deeper and intuitive perception which makes The Lives of Sri Aurobindo a bogus biography. I can affirm this even if a thousand Ashish Nandys and Debashish Banerjis and Gautam Chikermanes and Pratap Bhanu Mehtas are going to applaud it, drum it up in the public and in the frivolous non-scholarly media bazaars for propagandist gains. Who cares about the drumfish when they start applying the doctrine of Freedom of Expression selectively? I’ll simply advise them, if they care to heed it, to read the Mother carefully and perceptively if they value values. What wonderful depths are there in her revelations about Sri Aurobindo’s withdrawal! their evolutionary meaning and consequences! Who knows? Who knows?

  3. RY Deshpande permalink

    In 1952 Amal Kiran asked the Mother about Sri Aurobindo coming back and taking up the Divine work again. The Mother with a quiet steady voice replied:

    The return of Sri Aurobindo very soon is not likely. His going was connected with world-conditions. If world-conditions had been such as could so soon change and be suitable for his presence amongst us, his going itself would have been unnecessary.

    Also, the return cannot be in a startling miraculous manner. That would not be consistent with Sri Aurobindo’s method and our work. A more probable way of return would be: the present occasional visions of Sri Aurobindo which some people see—the almost material appearance he makes now to some people at certain times—may increase; the manifestation may be more frequent and more general, until one day a permanent reappearance takes place.

    One can’t fix the precise time of his return. It may even be five hundred years later. I can’t say anything, since the knowledge has not come to me. I only say things when I get them. This much I have said: Sri Aurobindo will be the first to have the supramental body.

    People keep asking me: “When Sri Aurobindo comes back in a supramental body, will he need to eat or drink or do other usual things?” All these questions are silly.

    Sri Aurobindo’s leaving the body makes no essential difference. Sri Aurobindo is after all a certain consciousness, the divine consciousness, and this consciousness was there even before the earth came. The question of his ‘absence’ has little meaning.

    A world war may destroy civilisation, but it won’t destroy the Divine’s work. Sri Aurobindo once told me that he had so arranged things that nothing would interfere with his work.

    On another occasion she revealed what Sri Aurobindo had told her: “It is purposely that I have left my body, I will not come back into it, I will return in a new body, the first body built in the supramental way.”

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