Motilal Roy

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Motilal Roy - Light to Superlight.jpg

(Editors' note, “Autobiographical Notes”:) “After leaving Chandernagore for Pondicherry in April 1910, Sri Aurobindo kept in touch with Motilal Roy by letter. It was primarily to Motilal that he was referring when he wrote: “For some years he kept up some private communication with the revolutionary forces he had led through one or two individuals.” In these letters, which were subject to interception by the police, he could not of course write openly about revolutionary matters. He developed a code in which ‘tantra’ meant revolutionary activities, and things connected with tantra (‘yogini chakras’, tantric books, etc.) referred to revolutionary implements like guns. The code sometimes got rather complicated. Sri Aurobindo did not use his normal signature or initials in the first 22 letters. Instead he signed as Kali, K., A. K. or G. He often referred to other people by initials or pseudonyms.”[1]

(Sri Aurobindo letter to Motilal Roy, August 1912:)
“Dear M
         P.S. has sent to his brother an address for sending Yogini Chakras. He says it is approved by you. Now we want to know, not only whether they are religious people there — he says you have assured him of that — but whether there is any likelihood of their being taken by the P.O. authorities for anything else. There are religious people who are openly mixed up with politics. We do not think it wise to send our purely religious Tantric instruments to any such. Kindly answer by return post. If the answer is satisfactory & we get the money promised, we will send Chakras. [According to an associate of Motilal's, the “Yogini Chakras” were revolvers that Motilal wanted Sri Aurobindo to send to Chandernagore via the French post.]
         15th August is usually a turning point or a notable day for me personally either in sadhana or life — indirectly only for others. This time it has been very important for me. My subjective sadhana may be said to have received its final seal and something like its consummation by a prolonged realisation & dwelling in Parabrahman for many hours. Since then, egoism is dead for all in me except the Annamaya Atma, — the physical self which awaits one farther realisation before it is entirely liberated from occasional visitings or external touches of the old separated existence.
         My future sadhan is for life, practical knowledge & shakti, — not the essential knowledge or shakti in itself which I have got already — but knowledge & shakti established in the same physical self & directed to my work in life. I am now getting a clearer idea of that work & I may as well impart something of that idea to you; since you look to me as the centre, you should know what is likely to radiate out of that centre.

  1. To reexplain the Sanatana Dharma to the human intellect in all its parts, from a new standpoint. This work is already beginning, & three parts of it are being clearly worked out. Sri Krishna has shown me the true meaning of the Vedas, not only so but he has shown me a new Science of Philology showing the process & origins of human speech so that a new Nirukta can be formed & the new interpretation of the Veda based upon it. He has also shown me the meaning of all in the Upanishads that is not understood either by Indians or Europeans. I have therefore to reexplain the whole Vedanta & Veda in such a way that it will be seen how all religion arises out of it & is one everywhere. In this way it will be proved that India is the centre of the religious life of the world & its destined saviour through the Sanatana Dharma.

    1. On the basis of Vedic knowledge to establish a Yogic sadhana which will not only liberate the soul, but prepare a perfect humanity & help in the restoration of the Satyayuga. That work has to begin now but will not be complete till the end of the Kali.
    2. India being the centre, to work for her restoration to her proper place in the world; but this restoration must be effected as a part of the above work and by means of Yoga applied to human means & instruments, not otherwise.
    3. A perfect humanity being intended society will have to be remodelled so as to be fit to contain that perfection.

             You must remember that I have not given you the whole Yogic sadhana. What I have given you is only the beginning. You have to get rid of ahankara & desire & surrender yourself to God, in order that the rest may come. You speak of printing Yoga & its Objects. But remember that what I have sent you is only the first part which gives the path, not the objects or the circumstances. If you print it, print it as the first of a series, with the subtitle, the Path. I am now busy with an explanation of the Isha Upanishad in twelve chapters; I am at the eleventh now and will finish in a few days. Afterwards I shall begin the second part of the series & send it to you when finished.
             I have also begun, but on a very small scale the second part of my work which will consist in making men for the new age by imparting whatever siddhi I get to those who are chosen. From this point of view our little colony here is a sort of seed plot & a laboratory. The things I work out in it, are then extended outside. Here the work is progressing at last on definite lines and with a certain steadiness, not very rapid; but still definite results are forming. I should be glad to have from you clearer knowledge of the results you speak of over there; for my drishti is not yet sufficiently free from obstruction for me to know all that I need to know at this stage.
             As to other work (Tantric), I am not yet in possession of knowledge. The Shakti is only preparing to pour herself out there, but I don’t know what course she will take. You must remember I never plan or fix anything for myself. She must choose her own paddhati or rather follow the line Krishna fixes for her.”[2]

    (Sri Aurobindo to Motilal Roy, c. January 1913:)
    “... All these [money] matters, as well as the pursuance of my work to which you allude in your last (commercial) letter, depend on the success of the struggle which is the crowning movement of my sadhana — viz the attempt to apply knowledge & power to the events and happenings of the world without the necessary instrumentality of physical action. What I am attempting is to establish the normal working of the siddhis in life ie the perception of thoughts, feelings & happenings of other beings & in other places throughout the world without any use of information by speech or any other data. 2nd, the communication of the ideas & feelings I select to others (individuals, groups, nations,) by mere transmission of will-power; 3rd, the silent compulsion on them to act according to these communicated ideas & feelings; 4th, the determining of events, actions & results of action throughout the world by pure silent will power. When I wrote to you last, I had begun the general application of these powers which God has been developing in me for the last two or three years, but, as I told you, I was getting badly beaten. This is no longer the case, for in the 1st, 2nd & even in 3rd I am now largely successful, although the action of these powers is not yet perfectly organized. It is only in the 4t.h that I feel a serious resistance. I can produce single results with perfect accuracy, I can produce general results with difficulty & after a more or less prolonged struggle, but I can neither be sure of producing the final decisive result I am aiming at nor of securing that orderly arrangement of events which prevents the results from being isolated & only partially effective. In some directions I seem to succeed, in others partly to fail &partly to succeed, while in some fields, e.g., this matter of financial equipment both for my personal life & for my work I have hitherto entirely failed. When I shall succeed even partially in that, then I shall know that my hour of success is at hand & that I have got rid of the past karma in myself & others, which stands in our way & helps the forces of Kaliyuga to baffle our efforts.

    The Kingston Daily - Bomb Thrown at Viceroy of India - 23 Dec 1912.jpg

             About Tantric yoga; your experiment in the smashâna [the attempt to assassinate the Viceroy, Lord Hardinge, in Delhi on 23 December 1912] was a daring one, — but it seems to have been efficiently & skilfully carried out, & the success is highly gratifying. In these kriyas there are three considerations to be held in view, 1st, the object of the kriya. Of course there is the general object of mukti-bhukti which Tantriks in all ages have pursued, but to bring it about certain subjective results & conditions are necessary in ourselves & our surroundings & each separate kriya should be so managed as to bring about an important result of the kind. Big kriyas or numerous kriyas are not always necessary; the main thing is that they should be faultlessly effective like your last kriya or the small one with which you opened your practices. That is the second consideration viz the success of the kriya itself & that depends on the selection & proper use of the right mantra & tantra, — mantra, the mental part, & tantra, the practical part. These must be arranged with the greatest scrupulousness. All rashness, pride, ostentation etc, the rajasic defects, — also, all negligence, omission, slipshod ritual, — the tamasic defects, must be avoided. Success must not elate your minds, nor failure discourage. 3rdly, angarakshana is as important as siddhi. There are many Tantriks in this Kaliyuga who are eager about siddhi, careless in angarakshana. They get some siddhi, but become the prey of the devils & bhutas they raise. Now what is the use of a particular siddhi, if the sadhakas are destroyed? The general & real object, — mukti & bhukti, — remains unfulfilled. Angarakshana is managed, first, by the selection & arrangement of the right siddhi-mantra & kriya, secondly, by the presence behind the sadhaka of one who repeats what is called an angarakshaka mantra destructive of the pretas & Rakshasas or prohibitive of their attacks. The last function I have taken on myself; it is your business so to arrange the kriya that the bhutas get no chance for প্রবেশ or for the seizure & destruction of the sadhaka. I have found that my mantra has been more & more successful in protection, but it is not yet strong enough to prevent all উপদ্রব of a dangerous character. It will take some more আবৃওি to increase its power. It is for this reason that I do not yet tell you to go on swiftly in your course of practices. Still there is no harm in quickening the pace in comparison with the past. Remember always the supreme necessity of mauna in Tantric practices. In Vedantic & Puranic exercises expansion is not dangerous, but the goddess of the Tantra does not look with a favourable eye on those who from pride, ostentation or looseness blab about the mantra or the kriya. In Tantric sadhana secrecy is necessary for its own sake. Those who reveal mantra or kriya to the unfit, suffer almost inevitably; even those who reveal them unnecessarily to the fit, impair somewhat the force of their Tantric action.


    (Sri Aurobindo to Motilal Roy, June–July 1913:) “With regard to the Tantric books, the Psalmodist [Parthasarathi Aiyangar, friend and associate of Sri Aurobindo’s from 1910, when the two met in Calcutta] was here, & wrote to you and went away, expecting to return in a fortnight; but several fortnights have passed without his return. He has written to us to say he has received money from you and we have written to him to come here. He is expected daily, but he does not arrive. He will, no doubt, be a good karmavira in time; but at present he is too rajasic, with intervals of tamas, has too much faith in European religions & the arms of the flesh & too little faith in Yoga & the arms of the spirit. He went northward on his own initiative; I could have told him his efforts there would be fruitless, but it is always well for a man to get experience for himself, when he will not take the benefit of superior experience. Your scheme about the books is impracticable under present conditions of which you are ignorant. When he comes, we will consult together & see if any blameless way can be found. But there is a time for all things & the time for free publication of Tantric works has not arrived. Still, your particular order may be met. Your letter to him, if addressed to Pd [Pondicherry], did not reach us; whether he got it in Madras or not, I do not know.
             Your working, remember, is not yet definitive working; it is still in the nature of experiment, with some minor results. When your sadhan of our tantric kriya has become more perfect and the necessary spiritual force can be sent from here, — then, real Tantra can begin. Meanwhile, don’t be over-eager; let nothing disconcert, discourage or perplex you. Eagerness, anxiety & discouragement are all different faces of one defect. I shall write to you on all matters connected with the Tantra after the Psalmodist arrives. Also about the Vedanta. If he does not come soon, I shall write all the same.”[4]

    (Sri Aurobindo to Motilal Roy, 1913:)
    “Dear M.
             I write only about 3 points today.
             1. Your R. S. Sharma I hold to be a police spy. I have refused to see him because originally when he tried to force his way into my house & win my confidence by his extravagances I received a warning against him from within which has always been repeated. This was confirmed afterwards by two facts, first, that the Madras Police betrayed a very benevolent interest in the success of his mission, secondly, that he came to Pondicherry afterwards as subeditor of a new Pondicherry paper, the Independent, subsequently defunct and replaced by another the Argus, belonging to the same proprietor who has been openly acting in concert with the British Police against us in Pondicherry. In this paper he wrote a very sneering & depreciatory paragraph about me, (not by name, but by allusion,) in which he vented his spite at his failure. Failing even so to get any footing here, for the Swadeshis were warned against him, he returned to Madras. He seems now to have tried his hand with you at Calcutta & succeeded, probably, beyond his expectations! I wonder when you people will stop trusting the first stranger with a glib tongue who professes Nationalist fervour & devotion. Whether you accept my estimate of him or not, you may be sure that his bhakti for me is humbug — as shown by the above newspaper incident — & you must accept at least the facts I have given you and draw any conclusions that common sense may suggest to you.”[5]

    (Sri Aurobindo to Motilal Roy, April 1914:)
    “Dear M.
             I send you today the electoral declaration of M. Paul Richard, one of the candidates at the approaching election for the French Chamber. This election is of some importance to us; for there are two of the candidates who represent our views to a great extent, Laporte & Richard. Richard is not only a personal friend of mine and a brother in the Yoga, but he wishes, like myself, & in his own way works for a general renovation of the world by which the present European civilisation shall be replaced by a spiritual civilisation. In that change the resurrection of the Asiatic races & especially of India is an essential point. He & Madame Richard are rare examples of European Yogins who have not been led away by Theosophical and other aberrations. I have been in material and spiritual correspondence with them for the last four years. Of course, they know nothing of Tantric Yoga. It is only in the Vedantic that we meet. If Richard were to become deputy for French India, that would practically mean the same thing as myself being deputy for French India. Laporte is a Swadeshi with personal ambitions; his success would not mean the same but at any rate it would mean a strong and, I believe, a faithful ally in power in this country and holding a voice in France.
             Of course, there is no chance, humanly speaking, of their being elected this time. ... Still, it is necessary, if it can at all be done, to stir things a little at the present moment and form a nucleus of tendency &, if possible, of active result which would be a foundation for the future & enable us at the next election to present one or other of these candidates with a fair chance of success.
             I want to know whether it is possible, without your exposing yourself, to have the idea spread in Chandernagore, especially among the younger men, of the desirability of these candidatures & the abandonment of the old parochial & rotten politics of French India, with its following of interested local Europeans & subservience to their petty ambitions in favour of a politics of principles which will support one of our own men or a European like Richard who is practically an Indian in beliefs, in personal culture, in sympathies & aspirations, one of the Nivedita type. If also a certain number of votes can be recorded for Richard in Chandernagore so much the better; for that will mean a practical beginning, a tendency from the sukshma world materialised initially in the sthula. If you think this can be done, please get it done — always taking care not to expose yourself. For your main work is not political, but spiritual. If there can be a Bengali translation of Richard’s manifesto, or much better, a statement of the situation & the desirability of his candidature succeeding, — always steering clear of extremism and British Indian politics, — it should be done & distributed. I lay stress on these things because it is necessary that the conditions of Chandernagore & Pondicherry should be changed, the repetition of recent events rendered impossible and the cession of French territory put out of the question. There would be other & more positive gains by the change, but these I need not emphasise now.”[6]

    (Sri Aurobindo to Motilal Roy, 5 May 1914:)
    “Dear M —
             The election is over — or what they call an election — with the result that the man who had the fewer real votes has got the majority. As for M. Richard’s votes, they got rid of them in Pondicherry & Karikal by the simple process of reading Paul Bluysen wherever Paul Richard was printed. Even where he brought his voters in Karikal to the poll himself, the results were published “Richard — 0”. At Villenur people were simply prevented from voting for him or anyone else. As for the results they had been arranged on the evening before the election by M. Gaebelé & were made to fit in with his figures. The extent to which this was done you can imagine from the fact that at Nandagopal’s village where there is no single Bluysenite, there were only 13 ‘votes’ for Lemaire and all the rest for Bluysen. … Of course protests are being prepared from every side, & if Bluysen is not supported by the Cabinet which is likely to come in after the elections in France, the election may be invalidated. Otherwise, for some time, he may reign in spite of the hatred & contempt of the whole population by the terror of the administration and the police. This Madrasi population is so deficient in even the rudiments of moral courage that one cannot hope very much from it.
             Meanwhile Richard intends to remain in India for 2 years & work for the people. He is trying to start an Association of the young men of Pondicherry & Karikal as a sort of training ground from which men can be chosen for the Vedantic Yoga. Everything is a little nebulous as yet. I shall write to you about it when things are more definite.”[7]

    (Sri Aurobindo to Motilal Roy, June 1914:) “... An attempt should be made to keep up the [financial] arrangement with Das, if possible; for we do not know whether our attempt to provide otherwise will succeed.
             That attempt takes the form of a new philosophical Review with Richard and myself as Editors — the Arya, which is to be brought out in French & English, two separate editions, — one for France, one for India, England & America. In this Review my new theory of the Veda will appear as also a translation and explanation of the Upanishads, a series of essays giving my system of Yoga & a book of Vedantic philosophy (not Shankara’s but Vedic Vedanta) giving the Upanishadic foundations of my theory of the ideal life towards which humanity must move. You will see so far as my share is concerned, it will be the intellectual side of my work for the world. … Let us try 250 subscribers to start with, with the ideal of having 800 to 1000 in the first year. If these subscribers can be got before the Review starts, we shall have a sound financial foundation to start with. The question is, can they be got. We are printing a prospectus with specimens of the writings from my translation & commentary on a Vedic hymn, and an extract from Richard’s collections of the central sayings of great sages of all times called the Eternal Wisdom to show the nature of the Review. This is supposed to come out in the middle of this month, & the Review on the 15th August, so there will be nearly two months for collecting subscribers. How far can you help us in this work? There is always one thing about which great care has to be taken, that is, there should be no entanglement of this Review in Indian politics or a false association created by the police finding it in the house of some political suspects they search for; in that case people will be afraid to subscribe. My idea is that young men should be got as agents who would canvas for the Review all over Bengal, but there so many young men are now political suspects that it may not be easy to find any who will be free & active & yet above suspicion. In that case some other method must be tried. I should like to know from you as soon as possible how far you can help us & how many copies of the prospectus we should send to you.
             You have seen, for instance, that in recent political trials Yoga pamphlets & bombs seem to have been kept together everywhere with the queerest incongruity. That is a thing we could not control, we can only hope that it will not happen again. But meanwhile the work of publicity and spreading our yoga has got an unnecessary difficulty thrown in its way. Do not let any add to it by associating Vedanta & Tantra together in an inextricable fashion. The Tantric Yogins are few and should be comparatively reticent — for Vedanta is a wider thing and men may then help to fulfil it in all kinds of ways. Let the Tantriks then practise Vedanta silently, not trumpeting abroad its connection with their own particular school but with self-restraint and the spirit of self-sacrifice, knowing that they are only one small corps in a march that is vast and so meant to be world-embracing. The more they isolate themselves from the rest of the host that is in formation, the more they will be free for their own work & the more they will help without hampering the wider march.
             Then as to the work of the Tantric discipline & kriya itself. … The question I wish you to ask yourself, is whether you think that with its present imperfect basis it can really do the work for which it was intended. I see that it cannot. There have been two stages; first the old Tantra which has broken down & exists only in a scattered way ineffectual for any great end of humanity. Secondly, our own new Tantra which succeeded at first because it was comparatively pure in spite of the difficulties created by the remnants of egoism. But since then two things have happened. It has tried to extend itself with the result of bringing in undesirable elements; secondly, it has tried to attempt larger results from a basis which was no longer sufficient & had begun to be unsound. A third stage is now necessary, that of a preparation in full knowledge no longer resting on a blind faith in God’s power and will, but receiving consciously that will, the illumination that guides its workings and the power that determines its results. If the thing is to be done it must be done no longer as by a troop stumbling on courageously in the dark & losing its best strength by failures & the results of unhappy blunders, but with the full divine power working out its will in its instruments.
             What is necessary for that action? First, that the divine knowledge & power should manifest perfectly in at least one man in India. In myself it is trying so to manifest as rapidly as the deficiencies of my mind & body will permit, and also — this is important—as rapidly as the defects of my chief friends & helpers will permit. For all those have to be taken on myself spiritually and may retard my own development. I advance, but at every fresh stage have to go back to receive some fresh load of imperfection that comes from outside. I want now some breathing time, however brief which will enable me to accomplish the present stage which is the central [?__] of my advance. This once accomplished, all the rest is inevitable. This not accomplished, the end of our Yogic movement is, externally, a failure or a pitiful small result. That is the first reason why I call a halt.
             The second necessity is that others should receive the same power & light. In the measure that mine grows, theirs also will increase & prosper provided always they do not separate themselves from me by the ahankara. A sufficient Vedantic basis provided, a long, slow & obscure Tantra will no longer be necessary. The power that I am developing, if it reaches consummation, will be able to accomplish its effects automatically by any method chosen.”[8]

    (Sri Aurobindo to Motilal Roy, June 1914:) “You will remember what has been written, that the sadhana shall first be applied in things that do not matter & only afterwards used for life. This is not an absolute rule, but it is the rule of necessity to apply for some time now in this particular matter. I see that I have the necessary powers; I shall communicate them next to you and some others so that there may be a centre of irresistible spiritual light & effective force wherever needed. Then a rapid & successful kriya can be attempted.”[9]

    (Sri Aurobindo to Motilal Roy, 29 August 1914:) “Since the last year, new forces have come into the world and are now strong enough to act, which are likely to alter the whole face of the world. The present war is only a beginning not the end. We have to consider what are our chances & what we ought to do in these circumstances.
             I want those of you who have the capacity, to consider the situation as I have described it, to think over it, enlarging our old views which are no longer sufficient, and accustom yourselves to act always with these new & larger conceptions in your minds. I shall write nothing myself about my views, just as yet, as that might prevent you from thinking yourselves.
             Only, two things you will see obviously from it, first, the necessity of seizing on any opportunity that arises of organisation or military training (not self-sacrificing charity, that has already been done); secondly, the necessity of creating an organisation & finding the means, if no opportunity presents itself. It will be necessary for someone from Bengal to come & see me before long, but that will probably not be till October or later.
             I shall write to you before long farther on the subject, as also on other matters.


    (Sri Aurobindo to Motilal Roy, after October 1914:)
    “Dear M –
             I have not written for a long time for several reasons. Our position here since the war has become increasingly difficult and delicate ...
             Your internal struggle in the Yoga has naturally its causes. I shall help you as much as possible spiritually, but you must get rid of everything that gives a handle to the enemy in ourselves. Your letters for a long time showed a considerable revival of rajasic egoism, contracted, I suppose, by association with the old Tantrics, and that always brings in our Yoga disagreeable consequences. If you could make yourselves entirely pure instruments, things would go much better.”[11]

    (Sri Aurobindo to Motilal Roy, 1916-18:)
    Dear M.
             I have not written for a long time because nothing definite came to me to be written. We are in a state of things in which every movement fails to come to a decisive result because everywhere and in everything the forces are balanced by contrary forces. At the present moment the world is passing through an upheaval in which all forces possible have been let loose and none therefore has a triumphant action. ...
             I had hoped that we should be much more ‘forward’ at this period, but the obstacles have been too great. I have not been able to get anything active into shape. Consequently, we have to go on as before for some time longer. Our action depends on developing sufficient spiritual power to overcome the enormous material obstacles opposed to us, to shape minds, men, events, means, things. This we have got as yet in very insufficient quantity.
             You have done well in confining yourself to Vedantic Yoga; you can see for yourself that the Tantric bears no secure and sufficient fruit without a very strong and faultless Vedantic basis. Otherwise you have a medley of good and bad sadhakas associating together and the bad spoil the Kriya of the good; for a collective yoga is not like a solitary one, it is not free from collective influences; it has a collective soul which cannot afford to be in some parts either raw or rotten. It is this which modern Tantrics do not understand, their aspiration is not governed by old Shastra founded on the experience of centuries. A chakra, for instance, must either be perfectly composed or immediately governed and protected by the spiritual force of some powerful guru. But our modern minds are too impatient to see to these things.”[12]

    (Sri Aurobindo to Motilal Roy, 1919:)
    “Dear M.
             About your scheme of a weekly paper — as for the name it is not difficult to find; it could be called the “Standard-bearer”. But are you quite sure you will be able to live up to the name and carry the thing on in the requisite manner? Nalini and Suresh are not likely to be able to write; one does not write at all in English, the other can do it if he likes, but is even more মন্থরগতি than in Bengali. To write for an English weekly would be beyond his present energies. As for myself, I am at present unable to write or do anything substantial, because of the extreme pressure of my Yoga, which has entirely occupied my time, — except for what I am obliged to give to the “Arya” and even that I have cut short as much as possible, — for the last few months. This state of things is likely to go on for the rest of the (English) year; whether it will be changed in the beginning of the next is more than I can tell with any certainty. The whole work might fall on your two Chandernagore writers. An English weekly cannot be conducted like a Bengali monthly or fortnightly. And it is not going to be a political paper of the ordinary kind which can be filled up anyhow. It will have to maintain a high reputation to be at all successful. These things however are for you to consider; you know your own strength and how far the field in Bengal is ready. As to the symbol, none has come to me. I am not altogether favourably inclined to the Uttara Yogi idea, nor anyone else here. It sounds too like the old style of spiritual pretension, and, when it is put in a current English production, suggests bujruki. Plain colours and as few symbols as may be are what we want at the beginning. Indian spirituality has lost itself in a jungle of symbols and shlokas and we have to get out of them on to the plain and straight ways and the open heights, where we can see the “much work that has still to be done”. Why any editor? Let the Shakti herself be the editor.”[13]

    (A. B. Purani, The Life of Sri Aurobindo:) “Motilal Roy came to Pondicherry in 1921. He had remained in Chandernagore after taking his spiritual initiation from Sri Aurobindo there in 1910. Between 1910 and 1916 he rendered financial assistance to Sri Aurobindo. People from Calcutta, Uttarpara, Falta and East Bengal who were sympathetic to revolutionary nationalism or who had a regard for Sri Aurobindo found it easy to render economic help through Motilal. They contacted him and he remitted the sums to Sri Aurobindo. After 1914 a centre of collective life under the inspiration of Sri Aurobindo, called the Prabartak Samgha, had taken form around Motilal. All Bengali books and many English books connected with Sri Aurobindo as well as the two journals Prabartak and The Standard Bearer were being published by the Prabartak Samgha.
             Motilal and others had been expecting that when Sri Aurobindo returned to British India to start his work in the external field he would make Bengal his centre of operations. It seemed natural that he would begin his work from the centre at Chandernagore. Sri Aurobindo would be the knowledge-aspect and Motilal the practical or Karma-aspect.
             Sri Aurobindo called Motilal to Pondicherry for intense spiritual sadhana in order to bring about the transformation of his nature. Motilal seems to have stayed at 2, Line Beach; Sri Aurobindo made one of his rare visits outside his house to visit Motilal at this place. During his stay in Pondicherry Motilal was apprehensive that the Samgha which he had started would not be able to carry on in his absence. Motilal, it may be said, had great attraction for and attachment to his work. While he was in Pondicherry he received letters from Chandernagore, especially from his disciple Arun Chandra Dutt, urging him to return. The question of whether he should return became acute as 15 August, the birthday of Sri Aurobindo, approached. Where should he celebrate the fifteenth, in Pondicherry or in Chandernagore? Motilal asked Sri Aurobindo what he should do. Sri Aurobindo told him to look within himself and get the inner guidance. After a few days Motilal had an experience in which he saw a black form of himself attacking him. When he met Sri Aurobindo he asked him the significance of the experience. Sri Aurobindo told him that the significance was clear.”[14]

    (A. B. Purani, The Life of Sri Aurobindo:) “The inner spiritual connection between the Chandernagore centre and Sri Aurobindo was gradually cut off. In later years Motilal tried three or four times to obtain an interview with him, but Sri Aurobindo, not seeing any real change in Motilal, never granted his request. “Commune, Culture and Commerce” became the motto of the Prabartak Samgha. Whatever spirituality there may be in the organisation owes its origin to Sri Aurobindo, but the present Prabartak Samgha is the creation of Motilal Roy and his associates. This explanation is considered necessary because the Prabartak Samgha is a well-known organisation in Bengal.
             In 1926 a sadhak asked Sri Aurobindo apropos of the Sangha, “When you spoke of vital forces coming in the way of the Supramental work, I suppose you had in mind the work at Chandernagore? Is that true?” Sri Aurobindo replied to him:

    “At that time I had some construction in my mind. Of course there was something behind it which I knew to be true. Even then I was not sure that it would work out successfully. Anyway, I wanted to give it a trial and so I gave it to Motilal. He took up the idea and, as you know, he took it up with all his vital being and in an egoistic way and so the vital forces found their chance. They tried to take possession of the work. As I told you it is only after several such lessons that I had to give up the idea of rushing into work. This yoga is not a cut-out system. It is a growth by experience and one has to grow by experience.” (Evening Talks, First series, p.186) [15]

    1. Autobiographical Notes and Other Writings of Historical Interest, p.577, “Note on the Texts”
    2. Ibid., p.177, “To Motilal Roy”
    3. Ibid., p.182
    4. Ibid., p.187
    5. Ibid., p.189
    6. Ibid., p.195
    7. Ibid., p.202
    8. Ibid., p.208
    9. Ibid., p.212
    10. Ibid., p.216
    11. Ibid., p.221
    12. Ibid., p.227
    13. Ibid., p.232
    14. A. B. Purani, The Life of Sri Aurobindo, p.179
    15. Ibid., p.180

    See also

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