News & Notes 644:Rauf Ali – Reflections and Reminiscences

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644 icon.jpg   News & Notes 644
9 April 2016

Rauf Ali – Reflections and Reminiscences

According to Sri Aurobindo, a human being is a complex persona. Multiple elements, even individualities, exist within what appears a single human being with one name. Their interplay moulds the character and draws the boat of life in this or that direction. It also follows that some of us are more conscious of the relevance of our association with and presence in Auroville while some others are less conscious.

The fact that Rauf Ali came to Auroville in the mid-eighties to document forestation work on behalf of the Indian Institute of Science, Bangalore (as revealed by Mauna in her excellent write up), and thus begun the journey of his life long association with Auroville, could be inferred as the conscious choice of his higher mental being with the psychic being supporting it from behind the veil. Many years ago, Bindu wrote in her brief article on Rauf in Auroville Today that he was especially drawn to Sri Aurobindo’s The Synthesis of Yoga.

Having said this, several of his expressions, under the title of Roughspeak and his outright constant opposition of certain Aurovilians for many years, under the apparent reason of generating humour, were more an articulation of what I called at the start of this article: the nether, the obscure, unconscious or unwilling parts for the flowering and manifestation of Auroville. I repeat again that in each human being there are hidden or nether parts which say No to Auroville.

At one point he felt that he could write things in such a way that make people laugh. So, he begun to pursue this line and started publishing episodes that made fun of people and things in Auroville. Some laughed. Others kept quiet. The crowning moment of this activity came on 1st April (in 1996 or 1997 or 1998) when Hero was the editor of Auroville News. Almost an entire issue of Auroville News of that date contained the parody, the mockery of various working groups in Auroville. It was extraordinary and outrageously witty. Reading it, I quietly laughed a good deal one quiet afternoon. In the next issue of the News, Savitra from the USA and I (from Fertile Windmill within Auroville) complimented Rauf. In his note, Savitra wrote: “Laughed out loud” and then quoted from Sri Aurobindo’s ‘Thoughts and Aphorisms’: “God loves to play the fool in season; man does it in season & out of season. It is the only difference.” (Essays Divine and Human, p.446) - Savitra was alluding to the 1st April and saying that Rauf had made a good use of the date.

In my note of compliment, I compared his talent with that of Charlie Chaplin and then referred to the Mother’s words about the quality of Charlie Chaplin’s humor – probably in his early documentaries – which she termed as originating from “physico-vital” – and wondered if there could be humour originating from higher planes consciousness.

But that was (and that is) too much to expect. However, another point we must note here is that he, rather his psychic being, chose to leave the body on 1st April – the very date he had celebrated some 18 or 19 years ago in his own way by writing an entire issue of Auroville News, is almost mystifying. Perhaps Raul if making April Fool – hey, I died on 1st but well, that is just a joke. Nobody ever dies, they only change the rooms.

Also worth recalling are the Mother’s words in answer to a question: “For Sri Aurobindo, 'coincidences' do not exist. All that happens is the result of the action of the Divine Consciousness. The Force which is at work at this moment is a Force of harmony that makes for unity — the unification of all the symbols that express the Divine Truth.” (5 May 1967, Words of the Mother – III, p.104)

So, when we take out Roughspeak (in its broadest sense) from Rauf Ali, what comes out it something beautiful – ornithology (study of birds), environmental preservation, inventing and making available simple alternative technology to really needy people at Andaman and Nicobar. As Mauna tells us his details notes, “he had a doctorate in biology from Bristol, UK, and did research at Harvard and the Smithsonian in USA. In India he was a well-known ecologist who advised top environmental organisations and universities….”

(Abridged, Full article can be read on Auroville Intranet dt. 6.04.16 or write to aryadeep (at)