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(Sahana:) “Next day [23rd November 1928] at 5 p.m. the Mother came to my room, having already given previous notice of it. I had kept for her a chair beautifully arranged, in which she sat. I bowed at her feet. She asked me to sing. I sang a devotional song of Mirabai: “Lord, keep me as thy servant.” She wanted to hear a second song and I sang about four of Mirabai's bhajans. Before the Mother departed, I again did pranam. She told me very affectionately that I should not hesitate to inform her in case there was any discomfort or if I needed anything. She seemed the very embodiment of Grace and my entire being was full to the brim with love and gratitude.”[1]

(Sahana:) “Since 1931 I had quite often written letters to Sri Aurobindo. The correspondence started from 1930 and became regular from 1931 to 1938, the year of his accident. I expressed in these letters in detail all about my inner condition and movement of Sadhana, since he wanted it so. He wrote, “It is absolutely necessary to write everything freely and write daily.” So everything good and bad had to be written. The mind was not always willing to do so, it looked for many pretexts and means by which it could avoid telling the whole truth and let him know just was convenient to me: in short, only a partial truth. I wondered at the way the mind played no end of tricks and ruses with itself in my being. The letters were addressed to the Mother in both Bengali and English. But it was Sri Aurobindo who replied to them in English. Very rarely he wrote a few lines in Bengali. Most interesting it was to observe that, though the mind was reluctant to write, yet when I finished, whatever I had to write had come through, nothing was kept back. It was as if someone had propelled me from behind. One day, I was extremely unwilling to write and I knew that I should not encourage this reluctance, still I simply wrote: “Today I feel no inclination to write.” Sri Aurobindo sent back not a word in reply except simply three big signs of exclamation (! ! !) in the margin of my letter. I did not know what to make of it – to laugh or weep. ...
         While writing to Sri Aurobindo, I felt very often that I could not express myself precisely in English. I would then use Bengali terms at places and ask him their English equivalents. Sri Aurobindo would put their English renderings on the top of the Bengali expressions.”[2]

(Sahana:) “I took up embroidery work and started making a screen for the big door of the Mother's room. Sanjiban, a fine artist of the Ashram, had prepared the design according to her instructions. All the houses of the French Regime had very large doors and windows. For one of those doors I was preparing a huge screen which would hang down to the floor as we find in drawing-rooms. Since some embroidery work had to be done upon the screen, I went to see the Mother to receive instructions about it. She, after a moment's silence, asked, “Maurice Magre will be paying a visit to the Ashram. Can you finish the screen before he comes? You have still three months.” I replied with gusto, “Certainly, Mother, I can.” She was pleased and blessed me. With much joy I did pranam at her feet and received, along with her blessing, a big red rose, signifying ‘All human passion turned into love for the Divine’. I returned with the firm resolve that I must fulfil my promise. I surmised that if I had to do it I must work eleven to twelve hours a day. I started in right earnest. It was a great surprise that I never felt tired in the least after working at a stretch for many hours. Since the mind dwelt in the Mother's consciousness it brought deep concentration, and joy in the work, especially because I was fulfilling the Mother's wish.
         Let me give a little description of the detailed work upon the screen, so that one may appreciate it fully. First, one sees a part of a huge trunk of a tree against the body of the screen; thick branches stem out of it, mounting upwards, and on the top of one of e branches a white peacock is seated and looks downwards, while another white peacock perched below gazes at the upper one, stretching his neck. Each peacock is as big as a well-developed Bengali girl. Sanjiban's design was superb. I felt distinctly during the work where the flow of energy came from, abolishing all sense of fatigue. Not only so, I had spiritual perceptions of many kinds. I finished the screen in time and went to see the Mother. With close scrutiny and visible pleasure she examined all the details of the work. Her joy seemed to be much more than mine. Here was a new experience for me. I do not remember to have seen anyone who took so much interest, appraise the value and appreciate in this manner. I spread the whole screen on the floor and the Mother looked and looked, her face beaming, and then she said in French, “Oh, ça, c'est magnifique!” I felt my cup was full. Even now that screen is hung in Sri Aurobindo's room on each November-Darshan day. One has to see it in order to believe that something made fifty years ago could be preserved with so much care.[3]

Two dreams

(Sahana:) “Now I shall relate two strange dreams of mine. They were so clear and distinct that I took them to be more than dreams. Whatever significance they had for me, I communicated it to the Mother. The first dream:

         “I saw from inside a room the sea coming near the house and then beginning to swell into huge mountains. If these terrifying surges broke, I felt the entire town, at least myself, would be swept away. But death being so near could not frighten or disturb me at all. I felt somewhere quite secure and well-protected by an armour. Even if the waves surged in a flood, they would pass over my house and I would remain unhurt – that was my feeling. So I could quietly watch the waves from inside my closed windows. Now they came in rapid succession and burst into a vast sheet of water and then the flood rushed far beyond my house. I saw this deluge like a witness and was in no way involved in it. And what I called my house was not really so. When the flood had stopped and the water had drawn back, I began to inspect the outside and noticed that some portion of the house had crumbled down and a new building was coming up from within. I reflected, amazed, ‘Oh, I did not know that a new house was being built from inside the old one. As the wall is broken down in parts, I can see the new foundation.’
         I was observing closely and found it very strange and could not but admire the new method of construction. I went inside the house and when I came out, the entire old house seemed to have tumbled down and in its place stood a house with a different design, made of quite other materials.
         I have interpreted the dream in this way. In the first part, I felt completely safe in the midst of danger, because I lived under your protection. The danger, not being able to make any dent in the fort, pas passed over. I remained safe and sound. Would it mean that the flood of desires comes to carry us away, but if we live in our true being, guarded by the Divine, it passes without touching us and we can witness the dance of the stormy surges in a detached manner? This was the meaning I could gather from the first part of the dream. About the second part it was like this: the old house in which I lived was my external being with its old nature. From the very bottom of this old nature you had started building a new nature. We do not notice the new construction because we are not sufficiently conscious of the Divine's work, so that when the veil of darkness is partly dropped (corresponding to the partial collapse of the house), we become conscious of it. And with the growth of the consciousness, the light increases and finally is revealed the transformed being in the true light of the developed awareness. The new house is the symbol of the radical transformation of human nature.”

Sri Aurobindo wrote:

         “It was a good symbolic dream and your interpretation seems to me correct except for one detail. The sea cannot be the tide of vital desires; it must be the flood of world forces.” (9.1.32)

The second dream:

         A few of us were walking along a sea-shore. The sea was not at all like the one normally known. The very sight of it was fearful and terrible; its water was jet-black and crammed with frightful sea-creatures – each one of them most hideous and all pullulating in the dark water. The body felt terribly uneasy. Most of these beings were like huge snakes: long, thick and black. There were no waves. As far as one could see, it was a dreadful vast and dark expanse of water stretched, as it were, like a gigantic snake, giving a sense of terror. Far away could be seen a very exquisite island where the Mother and Sri Aurobindo lived. I had to go there, but no way could be found. One could not even think of swimming across; the sea was so packed with those strange animals. In trying to swim one would have to brush against them. But, strangely enough, when my companions had gone forward, I plunged into that sea and began to swim along with those pullulating beasts. Pushing them aside with both hands I made my way through them more than through the water, but my gaze was fixed towards the island where the Mother and Sri Aurobindo were. I felt I must reach there. Nothing else mattered. As I neared the island my feet touched the bottom and with a great joy I walked to the shore. Suddenly I saw Sri Aurobindo with his two hands outstretched and, lifting me up, he said, “You have crossed.” I was so happy to hear it that even after waking up from the dream, I said again and again to myself, “When Sri Aurobindo has uttered these words, cross I must.”

… I was to see the Mother the next morning. So I told her orally the dream. She heard intently and placed her hand for a long while on my head and said sweetly, “It is not a mere dream.” She said many other things besides, which cannot be told.”[4]

Experience singing

(Sahana:) “Mother mine,
         I had a wonderful experience. I cannot but write to you about it at once. There is a song of Kabir, ‘Conquering my heart, Sri Rama was seated within it’. I was singing it, sitting alone on the terrace at about 7 p.m. I wished to sing it to you on Friday. I had often had my good experiences during singing. I had felt then the descent of a being and its presence, and that I was just an instrument. All the movements of my song were led by it. Sometimes it gave me the perception of a wide opening of my inner self, and an aspiration rising from a deep source lifted my entire being to a summit height. But what happened today was unique. It was like this.
         When I had sung a part of Kabir's song, I could feel a power coming down and the volume of my voice increasing. The inner self opened entirely, and strange tunes and rhythms began to pour out spontaneously with such speed that I wondered how it was possible. There was a clear feeling that they owed nothing to me, that I was just a channel and they came tumbling down eager to express themselves. Suddenly I heard my voice gaining twice its volume – so much force was there. And I heard distinctly another voice expressing itself through my voice. When I experienced this, I felt it was no longer myself or my own desire that was singing. I could not stop, it did not depend on me. I had never sung a single song at such length, I was simply charmed and overwhelmed by these exceptional manifestations of sound, voice and tune.”
         Sri Aurobindo answered:
         “Yes, it was quite right and a very high experience.”[5][6]

  1. Sahana, At the Feet of the Mother and Sri Aurobindo, translated from the original Bengali by Nirodaran, 1985, p.85
  2. Ibid., p.20
  3. Ibid., p.28
  4. Ibid., p.30
  5. Ibid., p.30
  6. Ibid., p.33