News & Notes 638:Mani rises
Generally, when someone dies, he or she is regarded as 'fallen'. But that is only a surface view of things. In the light of mystics such as Sri Aurobindo and the Mother, only the most material part has fallen while a number of elements have dispersed in the universal nature. What is true, what is united with the central spark or the psychic being, neither falls nor disperses but rises. It rises to a very high plane of consciousness and assimilates the experiences of life on earth, rests and decides about its next adventure so as to grow stronger in the aspiration for divine perfection. What is even more beautiful is that we who are still in a body can help with a fast and happy rising. Imagine the departed person as happily walking amidst charming meadows. Imagine him or her as rising in felicity, in luminous peace. See him in a joyful state. In short, concentrate on good thoughts and good sentiments about the person departed. That way you can help him or her in rising. It is only ignorants who mourn. Best thing to do when someone dies is to stay completely calm, peaceful and concentrate our imagination lovingly on the person departed. If you can’t concentrate, pray. If you can do neither, next best thing to do is forget him or her and move on with your life.
I first met Mani during my early days in Auroville in 1990. I was house-sitting at Diago’s place in Samriddhi when he came in connection with his work at the Land Service. He was quite forthright, earnest and enthusiastic.
Another picture of Mani I recall is that of his talking with Peter Clarence-Smith (Peter CS) one morning at the Land Service office at Bharat Nivas. What struck me at that time was the way he was talking to Peter CS. It was as if one Tamil man was talking to another in most fluent spoken Tamil. Peter would listen, nod and it seemed as both were getting on with each other perfectly well (As we know, Peter CS comes from England but he has grasped not just the language but also the spirit of the people of the place. I know several landowners in Auroville area who regard Peter CS as their trusted friend).
Earlier I said that I found Mani earnest and sincere. By this I mean that he really whole-heartedly wanted that Auroville should secure as much area as possible for a unified and harmonious development of the future city. He himself lived in a simple and, for some time, dilapidated house until Francis, as the then executive of Land Service, assisted him with funds for putting it in good shape. This means that he saw the good of Auroville above his personal comfort and convenience. Not many are capable of this beautiful trait. On another occasion, he even expressed to me his unhappiness over the skills of the executive in negotiating with the landowners. We can paraphrase John F. Kennady's words “Ask not what Auroville can do for you. Ask what you can do for Auroville”. Mani practiced these words without knowing them.
Tragedy is interwoven with human life largely due to our ordinary consciousness which is prone to misunderstanding, misjudgment, narrowness and the ignorant movements of mind. Mani had another Tamil colleague working with him in the Land Service. I also found him earnest, hardworking and sincere. But unfortunately, there grew distrust and antagonism between them and eventually both fell apart, both left. The other fellow even left Auroville under criticism while Mani more or less withdrew. But as long as he was there in the Land Service; many regarded him as an asset. Once, when he was sick, Edzart took note of it regretfully in a brief he published in Auroville News (now News & Notes) because his work at the Land Service might suffer. “Hey Mani” I called Mani when I saw him at PTDC about two years back. He smiled with a tinge of shyness to it. We then exchanged a few words by way of whereabouts of each other.
And now, Mani rises. Hold him in your imagination as smiling sweetly, a little-bit shy, walking on a charming orange lane laid between beautiful flowery trees. That is the image of his soul and that is the best thing we can do to the good brother to rise in felicity.
Aryadeep (Abridged version - For complete version see AV Intranet posting dt. 19th Feb.18)