Amrita (Aravamudhachari Iyengar)

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(Shyam Sunder:) “On another occasion when Amrita was late in coming to the class, Mother told him that he won't be allowed to enter unless he answered the question, “How far is the Divine from you?” But he went straight to Mother counting his steps and said, “Three steps, Mother.” ”[1]

(Amrita on meeting Sri Aurobindo:) “It was the first time I got up to the first floor of Sri Aurobindo's house [1914]. In the long verandah overlooking the wide courtyard below, there were big windows giving a wide view southwards; all the doors of all the rooms were open. Everywhere and on everything there fell an all-revealing light, nothing but light; nothing was seen covered or screened, nothing was unrevealed, no spot hidden from light. My heart too, unwittingly, with no doors to close or conceal anything, free of confusion or perplexity, wide-open, soared up in sheer delight! I was in this state and Sri Aurobindo stood there, his eyes gazing southwards. His small feet appeared to my eyes as two red lotuses. His hair partly hung on his chest, partly on his back. It was still wet from his bath; water dripped from its ends. His bare broad chest shone in great beauty. His divine gaze did not yet turn towards me.
         Bejoykanta got up first. I followed him, reached the head of the long corridor and, as I just stood there, Sri Aurobindo, who was about twenty feet away, turned his eyes upon me. Whether I walked to him or took a leap to him, I do not know. What I remember is that a lamp was lit everywhere in me and I saw in a spontaneous and automatic movement in front of me an intense celestial beauty. My being unknowingly swam, as it were, in a sea of silence; it fell prostrate at the lotus-feet of the Master; it did not utter “My Refuge, my Refuge”, but lay there body, life and mind all together a single block. Sri Aurobindo touched me with his flower-like hands and made me stand up. I drank the drink he gave me. That eternal sight still lives in my memory in the same form. I do not know why I burst into sobs as I clasped him. Tears streamed down from my eyes. Were they tears of delight now that I had attained the celestial joy of Indra-loka, or were they the regrets of my ego watching the imminent end of its life? I cannot say.”[2]

(Amrita:) “I saw Sri Aurobindo the second time thus [1914]:
         He was in his room seated in a wooden chair beside a table, writing something in a book, facing west. He moved his book a little, faced south and welcomed us both with a gleam of kindness in his eyes. I looked at him and when after a minute I turned I found Bejoykanta was no longer by my side.
         He and I alone! None else! Solitude! Seated he kept on looking at me and I too drowned myself in his sacred look.
         In those days I could not speak English well. With Bejoykanta I had to talk in English. He struggled to speak Tamil. His knowledge of Tamil was, however, confined to a few words like rice, salt, tamarind, pulse, some names of vegetables. A few verbs in addition such as ‘come’, ‘go’, ‘take’ he had picked up for his purpose. He employed these for all purposes while instructing the cook to make purchases. I saw him manage other needful things by gestures.
         I endeavoured to speak in English with Sri Aurobindo as I used to do with Bejoykanta. At that time even one or two English words that I knew well would get stuck in my throat. With an herculean effort I could just say:
         “I want come daily see you!”
         This I struggled to finish with bated breath. I was able at that time to read and understand short stories written in easy English. But I had no habit of speaking English. I could follow others when they spoke simple sentences in it. …
         He complied with that request of mine for seeing him daily and asked me to come after five in the evening. His compliance filled my heart with joy and I did not know then if I were on earth or in heaven.
         From the very next day, I began going straight from school at 5 p.m. to Sri Aurobindo's house to see him. Before I reached there – a little later than five-fifteen – Sri Aurobindo would come out of his room and sit on the west side of the southern terrace. I used to stand before him and go on talking. I would forget then that I knew little English. Day after day I would tell him fluently and unwaveringly my home-story, etc., trying to make the details as vivid and elaborate as possible. I knew no halt. In his presence my heart would flow out like an undammed flood either out of deep love for him or inspired by his supreme grace. It cast aside all human measures of what ought to be said and what ought not to be said. Today I may venture to call it bhakti. At that time I did not know its name. My heart was full to the brim with the rasa of sweetness.
         Every day I talked with Sri Aurobindo from five-thirty to six-thirty and returned home.
         I played the role of the speaker. I poured out to him everything without exception. He would hardly ever put in more than a word or two. In this way days passed into weeks, weeks into months. The feeling that, because of this intimacy, his unfailing grace would hasten the change that had already been taking place in me cheered me up. Does ego possess any sight? It is indeed blind. I realised afterwards that his grace was equal, impartial, pure, as constant as an eternal truth.
         In a month or two, without my noticing the fact, it became easy for me to speak English. I acquired also a confidence in myself.”[3]

(Gauri Pinto:) “It was during the Mother's evening translation class[4]. We four young upstairs [helpers] were given a special place on the Mother's right and so we were in the midst of all that happened there. Amrita-da, who was always overburdened with work, had come late and was trying to sneak in unnoticed to his place at the back. The Mother was discussing the Overmind and the Supermind with Pavitra-da for a certain part of the translation. When the Mother saw Amrita-da trying to slip in quietly, She said teasingly in French, “Ah, Amrita, there you are! Perhaps you can tell us what is the relation between the Overmind and the Supermind.” Pat came his answer, “Very good relation, Mother. Very good relation.” ”[5]

(Shyam Sunder:) “On 28th February 1968 Amrita was there at the Auroville Foundation Ceremony to read Mother's Charter of Auroville in Tamil. The Tamil translation was done by him. Mother liked his Tamil intonation.”[6]

  1. Shyam Sunder Jhunjhunwala, Down Memory Lane, p.36
  2. K. Amrita, A Pilgrimage to Sri Aurobindo, p.33
  3. Ibid., p.36
  4. Mother translated into French certain books of Sri Aurobindo: The Ideal of Human Unity, The Human Cycle, the last six chapters of The Life Divine and the first part of The Synthesis of Yoga.
  5. Remembering the Mother with Gratitude, p.57, “She Held Their Hands...”
  6. Shyam Sunder Jhunjhunwala, Down Memory Lane, p.36