(Satprem:) “As far back as I can remember, I see a child, on the seashore, gazing out.... Gazing at what? I don't know, but gazing. His gaze is already a question. And our whole life is made of that very same thing which was there at the beginning, when we were looking at the little wave on the beach. It's that same... yearning TOWARD something.”
(Mother to Satprem, 1956:) “So far, your whole life has revolved around yourself; all you have done, even the apparently most disinterested or least egoistic act, has been done with a view to your own personal growth or illumination. It is time to live for something other than yourself, something other than your own individuality.”
(Satprem, 7 April 1959:) “Sweet Mother,
I come to renew before you the resolution that I took this morning at the Samadhi.
Henceforth I refuse to be an accomplice to this force. It is my enemy. Whatever form it may take, or whatever supports it may find in my nature, I will refuse to yield to it and will cling to you. You are the only reality: that is my mantra. Anything that seeks to make me doubt you is my enemy. You are the only Reality.
And each time I feel the shadow approach, I will call to you, immediately.
May you never again suffer because of me. O Mother, purify me and open my heart.”
Satprem's earlier life
- (Interviewer:) “You were in Brittany when you gazed at that little beach?
(Satprem:) Oh, yes! That's where I spent my childhood. I lived by the sea. And in fact, I only felt comfortable when I was on a boat. Whenever I was at sea, I had the feeling of everything vanishing, of there being only the waves, the wind, and no longer any ‘me’ at all – the feeling of being spread out everywhere, as it were, lost in an expanse of light. And it was very pleasant. But the moment I returned to land, it suddenly felt like returning to a prison. I had no idea why, of course; I just felt terrible. Returning to land was the moment when things started to feel terrible.”
- (Interviewer:) “You might be taken to task for refusing to put up with the constraints of everyday life, which everybody has to face: teachers, school, discipline....
(Satprem:) I found all that absolutely unbearable.
I found it absolutely FALSE. Well, I am again putting a value on it: it's ‘false’ because what is good and true should be able to be breathed easily.
Every quest for – we use abstract words, but what, after all, is truth? It is what feels good and can be breathed easily. It has nothing to do with metaphysics, you know.
Well, the only life I knew – which, I think, is the life of any young Westerner – felt suffocating to me. All the education they drum into you – Latin declensions, Greek verbs, boarding school. They stuck me into one boarding school after another because I was insufferable. I was an absolute nuisance! I was put into one boarding school, then a second one, then a third one, and everything seemed... dreadful to me. I couldn't bear even my family.
Looking back on all that, one might say: Well, that's ‘growing pains’. People give all sorts of so-called psychological explanations. But there is only one thing: a WANT... the child feels a WANT of something. And every human being, whether he is aware of it or not, feels a WANT of something, which he clumsily tries to fill with one thing or another, and then another. But it never gets filled. And in my case, what was missing was missing in an excruciating way. Why, I don't know. But it was a fact.”
- (Interviewer:) “And then there were the camps.
(Satprem:) Oh, yes... That was a brutal grace dealt to me. Precisely because I had such a need of... of truth – ‘truth’, well, I don't know what word to use. Or, let's say, a need to BE. Yes, a need to be.
Because of that need, I think I was given the grace – brutally – to begin to touch a real answer!
- The concentration camps made you touch the heart of certain things?
Oh, in a sense they helped me wonderfully – by shattering all human values in me. Everything was torn to pieces, devastated. And not only by what I saw, but by what I went through myself. I was just... twenty, you see, just twenty when I went there.
- How did it happen, Satprem? You were arrested by the Gestapo because you were a member of the French Resistance?
I was arrested by the Gestapo.
Yes, without warning. We had been betrayed. There was a man from the German counterespionage in our ranks and we didn't know it. … Two men came out, pistols in hand, and arrested me on the spot.
Well, it was rather like in the movies, you know. But...
- Where did they take you?
They took me to prison. And then it began.
Those are not things that... They are not things one should talk about.
At any rate, all that broke... broke me, CLEANSED me wonderfully – dreadfully, but wonderfully. Because how many years would I have spent getting rid of all the social, familial, intellectual, cultural clothing – everything that has been heaped on me for twenty years?
Well, everything that had been heaped on me was shattered, me included (what I thought was me).
But that is the point: what I thought was me.
I thought I was a lot of music, poetry, this and that. And it was all suddenly shattered. All that was left was a sort of human residue, suddenly face to face with death, fear, the horrible human wretchedness, and saying to itself, “But what... what... what is this?” You see, at that moment in life, there are no more barriers between the man who abuses and the one who is being abused. There are no more a ‘man from the Gestapo’ and a ‘victim of the Gestapo’, an SS man and a prisoner – just a sort of horror in which you are plunged. There aren't ‘others’, you see. You are... totally immersed in horror. The horror is not others; it's something within which you are.
So everything I might have been, everything I thought I was was so radically shattered that I was suddenly thrust into... well, into the only thing left: my own flesh.
Yes, all of a sudden, I felt a fantastic joy. All of a sudden, I was as if above it all, almost ‘laughing’. As if, all at once, I came out of that devastation into a place that was... ‘royal’. I was no longer a prisoner, I was no longer assaulted, I was no longer... I was above, looking at all that with... almost with laughter.
And suddenly it was like being that kid on the sea again, on his boat, feeling like a king.”
(Satprem:) “What was left was: what's-left-when-nothing-is-left.”
(Satprem:) “In the midst of all that frightful nullity, I suddenly emerged into an inexpressible joy... (I can't explain; I don't know what word to use, because it isn't ‘joy’). All of a sudden, I emerged into something that was extraordinarily pure and strong – STRONG, you know. STRONG – nothing could touch me anymore.
- (Interviewer:) A sense of serenity, perhaps?
Oh, no! … Serenity... Certainly not serenity!
A force – a force, you understand. Something that made me suddenly invulnerable. And nothing could harm me.
That was my first contact with... (how I understand now!), the first contact with the truth, with what one IS – what every human being IS, in fact, because when you touch that core of BEING, you touch what is everywhere. Whether it's another person, a plant or an animal, you are in touch with the very being of the world. And the very being of the world is something that's full, powerful and... ‘regal’.”
(Satprem:) “And afterwards you have only one thought – only one thought: may what came be there ALL THE TIME.
Your only thought is to find the secret or the mechanism of that minute, when it was suddenly so absolute and invincible. You want to understand it – not just understand; you want to TOUCH it again.”
- (Interviewer:) “Now you've left the camps. And the question is still there?
(Satprem:) Well, I don't know. For me, the period after the camps may have been more dreadful than during the camps. … It was like a shattered life. What was there to look for? What could the West offer me?
I had enrolled at École Coloniale because I kept thinking that adventure was to be found in the colonies, primarily because they were so far away. But I found myself dealing with school programs and fellow students... It's as if I had landed from another planet among all those people who seemed so confident about their life... for whom life was natural! While, for me, nothing was natural anymore.
Once, I remember, something had deeply struck me.
It was the first time I was taken in a police van from the prison in Fresnes to rue des Saussaies [a Gestapo headquarters], where we were interrogated. And the police van followed a certain route. It passed very close to where I used to live, in the Latin Quarter. Down the street... then Boulevard Raspail... right there. Suddenly, in the moving police van, through the grille, I saw that street – the very street where I used to go walking. I saw the housewives with their baskets going to get bread at the bakery, and all of a sudden it all looked so FRIGHTENING to me, you know, that place where I lived... those women with their baskets going to get bread... It all looked... nothing had reality anymore! It was frightening.
I can't explain.
That was one of the most powerful moments of my life.
It was as if the reality of the world as I knew it had been destroyed.
- Things had lost their reality for you?
It was... I was on the side of the dead! I don't know. Or on another side.
I was on another side.
From that minute on, life could no longer be natural, as people understand ‘natural’. One could no longer go with a basket and get bread, you know.
And that's the state I was in when I came out of the camps. I was truly on another planet, and it was... unbearable.”
(Satprem:) “But there again, a grace came knocking on my door.
I had a cousin who had just been appointed governor of Pondicherry, in French India, and he said to me, “How would you like to come with me to India?” It was my salvation, because I really don't know what I would have done in Paris. It was my salvation. He took me along with him [in 1946]... And I saw Sri Aurobindo.
And the day I saw Sri Aurobindo, all of a sudden... well, I was filled by that same thing I had... gropingly experienced as a child, that I had touched in the camps.
And it was RIGHT THERE. It was looking at me and filling me – right in front of me.
It was in front of me, alive. It was right there, in a gaze.”
(Satprem:) “To me he was still a ‘thinker’. And suddenly, I was before something that was not a ‘thinker’, before a being unlike any I had met on earth. A being who was a BEING, living. Not a man in a three-piece suit, or even with a white chaddar on his back. Something that was... that embodied in a gaze, in a body, in his atmosphere, what I had experienced on the open sea, in my boat. That whole immensity was there, in a being. And IT was looking at me.”
Satprem with Mother
(Mother:) “You never met him [Sri Aurobindo], did you?
- (Satprem:) Yes, I had a darshan.
Ah, you saw him!
- I also had an experience the first year I stayed here (although I didn't know it was an experience)....
- One night during my first year here, he came and placed his hand over my heart, and in my dream I wept and wept and wept.... Afterwards I told myself, “What a strange imagination!” I took it for imagination!
Oh, mon petit, how wonderful!
- He put his hand on my heart and I wept. I wept in my dream, just as hard as I could.
It's psychic, the psychic contact.
Oh, then ... it's not going to be so difficult.
Good ... good.”
(Satprem to interviewer:) “I was very, very sad when I learned he had ‘died’, as they say. That gaze was no longer there. But the ‘Mother’ was still there. She was with Sri Aurobindo. She was his companion.
I said to myself, “After all, there may be a secret for me there?...” Because I could see the picture, as it were: you add one adventure + one adventure + one adventure, but sooner or later the circle closes and you end up as a professional of the jungle, or a professional of plantations, a professional of sailing... You confine yourself, you see. You close yourself in, as it were. You put on another suit of clothes.
Was it conceivable that they had the... PERMANENT secret over there?
- (Interviewer:) Over there, where?
With Sri Aurobindo, in Pondicherry.
I thought, “How about going there and seeing for myself?”
But I was also scared, because it was an ‘ashram’. It was more walls. But I felt, “At least, there's one person there. There's the ‘Mother’, Sri Aurobindo's companion. Perhaps there is a secret awaiting me?”
So I bought a plane ticket with my remaining money, and I left... to go back to India... and try to find the secret. But not just a fleeting secret – the Thing that would be THE way of breathing each minute of the day. Something constant, something free of any clothes – something natural!
Nobody lives naturally.
Everything in life is artificial. Everything. The moment you become integrated in something, that thing, no matter what it is, becomes artificial.
I had to find... the state where you live without artifice, where something in you just THROBS, just gives out the human ‘sound’, as it were. And therefore you experience the plenitude of what you are.
So I went back to India.
I was thirty.”
(Satprem:) “I was actually very scared.
I was scared... I knew that – I had gone through many adventures and I thought, “Well, this one...” To see the Mother, to go to that ashram – I sensed one couldn't afford to bungle that adventure. And if it was bungled or unsuccessful, then it would mean an endless round of dead-end adventures. Something... something had to happen.
But Mother... I had seen her with Sri Aurobindo before that whole circuit of mine. And she had... she had a different kind of gaze from Sri Aurobindo.
A different kind of gaze.
In fact, what had overwhelmed me when I had seen Mother was her gaze... It seemed that, for the first time, someone was looking at me with love.
It was a gaze that... went deep into your chest and pierced something open there – a rather overwhelming experience, and a bit... scary, you know. I was leery of it.
But nobody ever looked at me that way.
Nobody had shown me that love.
I had met... first, there was my own mother, who loved me very much. A wonderful – wonderful – woman, truly my mother, and not just in terms of passports and birth certificates.
But in all the gazes I had seen, deep down, there was always something trying to ‘take’ or EXPECTING something of you.
But here, with Mother, it was quite strange. There was mainly a sort of ‘power’ of love. And you felt that it didn't seek to take anything, just plunged deep, deep, deep inside you, like a... SWORD, as if seeking to TOUCH the roots of your being.
That gaze had very much struck me.
It was not like Sri Aurobindo's. Sri Aurobindo looked at you... and you felt immensity, infinity. You felt as if you were melting there, moving through centuries and centuries, and it was soft, and it was like a great snow. And you lost yourself there, and it was... Oh, there were no more words; it was all over, and you felt so... so comfortable! You felt so at home, in a country you had known forever.
But with Mother it was... it was quite extraordinary – it was a sword. But a sword filled with love. It wasn't something trailing into infinity; it went straight down into matter, into the ‘heart’ (for me, at least).
It was very, very perplexing, fascinating, and... a real question for me. Because there was no mistaking the truth of that gaze – it went too deep. And in fact, I came back BECAUSE of that gaze. I wanted to understand. That sort of sword she drove into your innermost being – I wanted to know where exactly it went. If it went anywhere! And I was ready to go there as well. That's what interested me.
So I arrived in Pondicherry.
I was thirty.
And I really didn't feel comfortable. I dreaded that ashram.
I remember walking to the seashore. There were catamarans beached on the sand, and I hid behind one of them to smoke my cigarette. I thought to myself, “Well, my dear fellow, this is your last cigarette. You're about to join an ashram.” (laughter) I didn't feel terribly at ease in that... situation. But anyway.
In the evening, I went to the ashram Playground, where all the disciples gathered. And Mother used to go there, too.
It was an ashram where they did a lot of physical exercises. And I watched while all the disciples formed into ranks and practiced an ‘exercise-march’. I was terror-stricken. I said to myself, “I'm taking the first train out of here. I'm getting out of here! I can't take this. I can't stay here!”
But... I am very stubborn. I am Breton. I had told myself, “You'll try for two years. You're not going to give up at the first obstacle.”
So I stayed.”
(Sujata:) “Then Satprem arrived on the scene. By this time Mother was getting pretty fed up with the unresponsiveness of the youth in the Ashram. She had wanted to mould them into a new shape, but these young people were not much interested in the Life Divine that Sri Aurobindo and Mother wanted to embody upon this earth. So Mother was glad when Satprem came.
He was fresh from the Amazonian jungle, with a rebellious heart for all existing human ways — had he not suffered inhumanly in the Nazi concentration camps where he was imprisoned as a member of the French Resistance, just as he turned twenty? He was ready to give anything a try. He was hungry for something ELSE. In Satprem, Mother found the stuff she could mould — a stuff honest enough to let itself be moulded.”
(Satprem:) “But I must say that I fought for YEARS – for YEARS. And only Mother could... keep me there. Because it was so contrary to my nature – the world of an ashram was so contrary to my whole sense of freedom, open sea, vastness.... Only Mother could keep me and make me understand.
Make me understand something else.
But I fought with her. Really – I can't call it anything else – I fought for... one, two, three years. Actually, I fought for almost six years. And I would leave the ashram. And I would come back. And leave again.”
(Satprem to Mother, June 1955:) “If only I could see a distinct ‘error’ blocking my path which I could clearly attack ... But I feel that I am not responsible, that it is not my personal fault if I remain without aspiration, stagnating. I feel like a battlefield of contending forces that are beyond me and against which I can do NOTHING. Oh Mother, it is not an excuse for a lack of will, or at least I don't think so – I profoundly feel like a helpless toy, totally helpless.
If the divine force, if your grace, does not intervene to shatter this obscure resistance that is drawing me downwards in spite of myself, I don't know what will become of me ... Mother, I am not blackmailing you, I am only expressing my helplessness, my anguish.
During the day, I live more or less calmly in my little morass, but as evening and the moment to meet you draw near, then the forces pinning me to the ground begin raging beneath your pressure, and I feel at times an unbearable tearing that burns and constricts in my throat like tears that cannot be shed. Afterwards, Truth regains possession of me – but the following day it all begins again.
Mother, it is an impossible, absurd, unlivable life.”
(Mother's answer:) “My dear child,
Your case is not unique; there are others (and among the best and the most faithful) who are likewise a veritable battlefield for the forces opposing the advent of the truth. They feel powerless in this battle, sorrowful witnesses, victims without the strength to fight, for this is taking place in that part of the physical consciousness where the supramental forces are not yet fully active, although I am confident they soon will be. Meanwhile, the only remedy is to endure, to go through this suffering and to await patiently the hour of liberation.”
(Satprem from Bangalore, October 1955:) “Sweet Mother, during the three days since I left the Ashram, I have never ceased feeling your Presence deep within me like the one thing essential, the only thing solid in the midst of all these hazy appearances. As I entered more and more into this outer world, I seemed to be entering a world without depth, without consistency, where all sorts of things and beings were fluttering like a very thin veil in the wind; and as I entered into this wavering world, you seemed to grow within me with an irrefutable self-evidence, like the only real thing, my only reason to be in this world – without you, everything withers away and loses its Meaning.
Mother, never before have I felt with such force how much you are part of me, nor how much I belong to you, irreversibly. And this I felt not only in my mind or even in my heart, but physically. Moreover, during the several weeks when I went through this latest ‘crisis’ in the Ashram, it seemed to me, sweet Mother, that a physical link was being built between you and me. Am I wrong? ...
Sweet Mother, my experience is over. Will you allow me to return to the Ashram towards the middle of next week? There is no more struggle or conflict in me, it is my entire being, right down to the physical, that needs you, that wants to return and aspires to serve you – joyfully, peacefully. And not only do I aspire to serve you, but also to fight against these dark, ignorant and deceptive forces so as to be worthy of your Light, the true Light of my being. I see no other meaning for my life, for all life.
Mother, I know now what the word ‘consecration’ means. I want to consecrate myself wholly to your work, with my heart, my mind, my body and my soul. I belong to you irrevocably, unreservedly. I know that nothing else exists in the world that is worthy of being lived, except you.”
(Satprem, December 1956:) “Mother, what can I do with my life? I feel absolutely alone, in a void. What hope remains since I have not been able to integrate into the Ashram? I am goalless. I am from nowhere. I am good for nothing.
I have wanted to remain near you, and I love you, but there is something in me that does not accept an ‘Ashram ending’. There is a need in me to DO, to act. But what? What? Have I something to do in this life?
For years I have dreamed of going to Chinese Turkestan. Should I head in that direction? Or towards Africa?...”
(Satprem, July 1957:) “Sweet Mother,
I have just received a letter from my friends in charge of the French Archaeological Expedition to Afghanistan. They need someone to assist them on their next field excavations (August 15 December 15) and have offered to take me if I wish to join them.
If I must have some new experience outside, this one has the advantage of being short-termed and not far away from India, and it is also in an interesting milieu. ...”
(Satprem, October 1957:) “Mother,
I come to ask your permission to leave India. For more than a year now, I have been fighting not to leave, but this seems to be the wrong strategy.
There is no question of my abandoning the path – and I remain convinced that the only goal in life is spiritual. ...
I doubt that a new experience outside can really resolve things, but I believe it might help me make it to the next stage and consolidate my inner life. And if you wish, I would return in a year or two. ...
It is not because I am unhappy with the Ashram that I want to leave, but because I am unhappy with myself and because I want to master myself through other means.”
(Mother's reply:) “My dear child,
This is not an answer, but a comment.
There is a joy to which you still seem completely closed: it is the joy of SERVING.
In truth, the only thing in the world that interests you, directly or indirectly, is YOURSELF. That is why you feel imprisoned within such narrow, stifling limits.
(Satprem:) “I now understand that I had to overcome all my... phobias about walls, structures, systems... for HER, that is. I couldn't have cared less about the ashram.
But SHE was there.
SHE is the one I wanted to see.
And that's where another grace was given to me. But I think we all have the grace commensurate with our call. All depends on what we call!
And she probably felt that call in me.
And with her... smile, her irony, her challenge – there was always a challenge deep down in Mother's eyes. She always seemed to challenge you: “Let's see if you can. Try!”
There was really a ‘challenge’ (I like the English word for it).
There was a challenge deep down in those eyes.”
(Satprem to Mother, 27 May 1959:) “A love for you might have held me here. And indeed, for you I have devotion, veneration, respect, an attachment, but there has never been this marvelous thing, warm and full, that links one to a being in the same beating of a heart. Through love, I could do all, accept all, endure all, sacrifice all – but I do not feel this love. You cannot ‘give yourself’ with your head, through a mental decision, yet that is what I have been doing for five years. I have tried to serve you as best I could. But I am at the end of my rope. I am suffocating.
I have no illusions, and I do not at all suppose that elsewhere my life may at last be fulfilled. No, I know that this whole life is cursed, but it may as well be truly cursed. If the Divine does not want to give me his Love, may he give me his curse. But not this life between two worlds. Or if I am too hardened, may he break me. But not this tepidness, this approximation.
I am not really bad, Mother, but I can no longer bear this life without love. That is all.
There is someone here who could have saved me, whom I could have loved. Oh, it has nothing to do with all those things you might imagine! My soul loves her soul. It is something very serene. We have known each other for five years, and I had never even dreamed of calling it love. But all the outer circumstances are against us. And I do not want to turn anyone away from you. Anyway, if I sink into the depths of the pit, or so I tell myself, it is no reason to drag someone else along with me. So this too is one more reason for me to leave. I cannot continue suffocating all alone in my corner. (It is useless to ask her name, I will say nothing.)”
(Satprem to Mother, 25 June 1959:) “Sweet Mother,
Panditji told me to tell you what he has seen of my previous lives...
He told me the story of my last three existences: three times I committed suicide – the first by fire, the second by hanging, and the third by throwing myself into the void. During the first of these last three existences, I was married to a ‘very good’ woman, but for some reason I abandoned my wife ‘and I was wandering here and there in search of something.’ Then I met a sannyasi who wanted to make me his disciple, but I could not make up my mind, I was ‘neither this side nor that side,’ whereupon my wife came to me and pleaded with me to take her back. Apparently I rejected her – so she threw herself into the fire. Horror-stricken, I followed her, throwing myself into the fire in turn. That was when I created ‘a connection’ with certain beings [of the other worlds] and I fell under their power. For two other lives, under the influence of these beings, the same drama was repeated with a few variations.
During the second of these last three existences, I was married to the same woman whom I again abandoned under the influence of the same monk, and I again remained between two worlds wandering here and there. Again my wife came to plead with me and again I pushed her away. She hung herself, and I hung myself in turn.
During my last existence, the monk succeeded in making me a sannyasi, and when my wife came to plead with me, I told her, ‘Too late, now I am a sannyasi.’ So she threw herself into the void, and horror-stricken by the sudden revelation of all these dramas and of my wife's goodness (for it seems she was a great soul), I threw myself in turn into the void.
As for this last existence, you already know.
Panditji told me, “Now it is your last birth. I have received ORDER to deliver you.” So be it. “I shall give you a white cloth,” he added, “with my own hand.”
Panditji gave me a new mantra. My body is exhausted from too much nervous tension. I am living in a kind of cellar with four inches of filth on the floor and walls, and two openings, one onto the street of the bazaar the other onto a dilapidated courtyard with a well. On my right lives a madwoman who screams half the day. There is only my mantra which burns almost constantly in my heart, and who knows what hope that some day the future will be happy and reconciled. There is also Sujata and you.
(Satprem, 10 July 1959:) “Mother,
Please excuse me, but I cannot come to meet you. My heart is broken. I would not know how to speak to you.
A moment ago I barely found the strength not to kill myself. Destiny has repeated itself once again, but this time it was not I who rejected her, as in past existences, it is she who rejected me: “Too late.” For a moment, I thought I was going to go crazy too, so much pain did I have – then finally I said, ‘May Thy Will be done,’ (that of the Supreme Lord) and I kept repeating, ‘Thy Grace is there, even in the greatest suffering.’ But I am broken, rather like a living dead man. So be happy, for I will never wear the white robe that Guruji gave me.”
(Satprem, 14 July 1959:) “Sweet Mother,
This is what I should have told you this morning, but I was afraid. For the last month I have been afraid of you, afraid that you might not understand. But I cannot leave with this weight on me. I beg of you to understand, Sweet Mother. I want nothing bad, nothing impure. I feel I have something to create with Sujata, I feel she is absolutely a part of something I have to achieve, that we have something to achieve together. For the five years we have known each other I have never had a single wrong thought – but suddenly she opened my heart, which had been so completely walled-off, and this was like a wonder in me and at the same time a fear. A fear, perhaps because this love has been thwarted for so many lives.
... ... ... ...
Mother, I need Sujata like my very soul. It seems to me that she is a part of me, that she alone can help me break with this horrible past, that she alone can help me to love truly at last. I need peace so much, a quiet, PEACEFUL happiness – a base of happiness upon which I could use my strength to build, instead of always fighting, always destroying. Mother, I am not at all sure of what must be, but I know that Sujata is part of this realization.
That's all, Mother. Forgive me, but I am so afraid. For how is this possible in the Ashram? What would people say?
Mother, my whole soul writes you this. I swear there is in me a single great need of Love, beauty, nobility, purity. And we would work for you together in joy at last.
Your anxious child,
(Mother, 1962:) “Yours is more than a psychic being. As I have told you, your psychic being is accompanied by something which has come for a special purpose, with a particular intellectual power – a luminous, conscious power – which has come from regions higher than the mind, regions Sri Aurobindo calls the Overmind, to do a special work. It is here (gesture enveloping the chest and head) and, along with the psychic, it's trying to organize everything. This, in your psychic, is what you are feeling. It must have great power.... Don't you feel a kind of luminous force?
- (Satprem:) Oh, yes, I feel it!
Well, that's what it is.”
Satprem with others
(Amrit:) “In 1959, Satprem began in earnest his period of Tantric practice. As affirmed to me by Panditji, he was given the Mantra Diksha of Bala Saraswati to augment the power of expression, particularly through writing. ...
Leaving Rameshwaram, Satprem wandered India for six months in 1959 as a sannyasin wearing the orange robes of a renunciate, often in the company of another Tantric named Jeevan Jyoti. These experiences were to result in his book, By the Body of the Earth, or the Sannyasi. The Tantric described in the book was, in fact, the intermingling of two images, that of Panditji and Jeevan Jyoti, with accompanying references to Panditji's family, particularly his son Balu. Through his Tantric discipline, Satprem gained the power of the word and the ability to influence others.”
(Amrit:) “Many letters [were] sent to Panditji by Satprem. … The letters evoked a Satprem tormented and confused, a personage whose pain could not but elicit sympathy – especially his cry from the heart, “Everything I touch goes bad.” Insistent on living with Sujata – clearly disapproved by the Mother – Satprem complained to Panditji about what he considered the Mother's obstruction of the relationship. Even going to the extent of rejecting Her, he writes, “Mother will not allow me to live with Sujata. She has betrayed me. She is not my guru, you [Panditji] are my guru.” Panditji, in his own inimitable manner, sent all the letters to the Mother. Upset, Satprem admonished Panditji, “Guruji, I am very disappointed that you have shown these letters to the Mother.”
In possession of this file of letters from Satprem to Panditji for some time, especially during meditation I experienced an overhanging cloud of doubt and despair which suddenly dissipated after removal of the file.”
(Amrit:) “Granted the profound love Panditji held for Satprem – observed in his eyes and general countenance at to which I can personally attest – it is inexplicable how this attentive care and tender affection, showered so liberally could be rewarded by such callousness and ingratitude. One explanation would be Panditji's description of him as a “split being, half Deva and half Asura,” pointing to an inconsistency of behavior, sometimes outrageous, yet in this light, understandable. Only once did I hear him make a midly critical comment, more an observation: “Satprem is a good man, but he has ambition and wants to be a guru.” ”
(Shyam Sunder:) “[André] was sad over the Auroville happenings and just repeated to me more than once what Mother had told him, “For God's sake, keep Satprem out of Auroville.” And we would find ourselves helpless.”
(Luc Venet:) “In point of fact, I noticed that being in touch with Satprem was innocuous for no one. It was not the kind of relationship one can store in one’s back pocket like a polished stone and extract from time to time to contemplate and caress with one’s fingers. Once a first contact had taken place (even a remote contact, through words in a book), once a kind of ‘magic’ rapport was established, it’s as if a little independent being took over and began to live its own life inside one — a life that often bordered on obsession. I have known people who traveled uninvited to the Nilgiris Mountains in the hope of catching a glance of Satprem at the bend of the road; others have spent months or years begging for a sign, a look, a letter, a word of approval or recognition.”
(Luc Venet:) “He had stood apart his entire life, from the time of his flights to the Amazon jungle or the Himalayas, to the Ashram in Pondicherry, where he was unable to strike a single friendship outside of Sujata, who became his companion. In Mother, he had found universal Revolt and had quieted his own revolt in the shadow of hers. But Mother’s revolt embraced the “love for all and faith for all” without any contradiction, while Satprem’s circled feverishly and endlessly about itself. This is the insurmountable obstacle that Mother had tried in vain to cure, which immediately resurfaced in him after her departure, ultimately to get the better of him.
The circumstances of Mother’s passing as well as his own expulsion from the Ashram (which incidentally he feigned to ignore) had driven a last nail into his already hardened convictions of rejection. It was evidently this inner feeling of utter isolation that had led him to form a little group of ‘brothers’ around him, to try to fill his isolation and drive back the walls of his confinement and loneliness. There was this marvelous instrument of the Agenda and a high mission to undertake, behind which he would be able to dissimulate his own inherent incertitude and failings. “Truth is always schismatic,” he told me one day, as if to reassure himself.”
- Satprem, My Burning Heart: Interview by F. de Towarnicky, p.4
- Mother's Agenda 1951-1960, 28 October 1956
- Mother's Agenda 1951-1960, 7 April 1959
- Satprem, My Burning Heart: Interview by F. de Towarnicky
- Ibid., p.5
- Ibid., p.12
- Ibid., p.15
- Ibid., p.16
- Ibid., p.18
- Ibid., p.20
- Ibid., p.21
- Mother's Agenda 1962, 25 July 1962
- Satprem, My Burning Heart: Interview by F. de Towarnicky, p.47
- Ibid., p.49
- Mother's Chronicles, Volume 1: Mirra
- Satprem, My Burning Heart: Interview by F. de Towarnicky, p.49
- Mother's Agenda 1951-1960, 9 June 1955
- Ibid., 11 June 1955
- Ibid., October 1955
- Ibid., 12 December 1956
- Ibid., 3 March 1957
- Ibid., p18 July 1957
- Ibid., 8 October 1957
- Ibid., p.74
- Ibid., 25 May 1959
- Ibid., 25 June 1959
- Ibid., 10 July 1959
- Ibid., 14 July 1959
- Mother's Agenda 1962, 25 July 1962
- Amrit, Children of Change: A Spiritual Pilgrimage, p.320
- Ibid., p.321
- Ibid., p.323
- Shyam Sunder Jhunjhunwala, Down Memory Lane, p.26
- Luc Venet, “End of illusions”, Collaboration, Summer 2008