Shyam Sunder Jhunjhunwala

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(Editors, Ashram Press:) “Shyam Sundar was a disciple who, after visiting the Ashram regularly from the age of 22, in 1949, gave up his practice as a lawyer in Calcutta in 1963 to become a member of the Ashram. In 1971 the Mother entrusted him with the responsibility for Auroville.
         The letters published “En Route: The Mother's Correspondence with Shyam Sundar” were written at a time when the Mother had stopped almost all extended correspondence with disciples; only one or two others shared Shyam Sundar's privilege of receiving regular letters from her during these late years (1967-1970). After the end of 1970 Shyam Sundar was seeing the Mother daily in connection with Auroville and the written exchange took another form.”


(Shyam Sundar, January 1969:) “A confession: I could not yet receive from You the complete realisation of the Divine within myself.

(Mother:) Yes, I know it, nor am I surprised.
         Your mind is strong and well organised; it is so to say ‘the chief of the house’. It is very active and has the habit of directing everything. And for having the realisation of the Inner Divine, the mind must fall quiet and hold itself tranquil – at least for a time.
         It will come.”[1]


(Shyam Sundar, January 1969:) “My mind knows well that it has to become silent, but it continues its old habit. Obviously it is very dishonest.

(Mother:) It is not dishonesty, it is rather weakness, for it has to be very strong in order to dominate the old habit. True silence is a great power.”[2]


(Shyam Sundar, April 1969:) “Is my mind less noisy now?

(Mother:) Yes.
         Your mind is capable of transformation.
         It should first silently open upwards to receive the Light of the Supreme Consciousness.
         Then, remaining peaceful and plastic, it has to let this Light penetrate in all the intellectual activities and mould them according to the Truth.
         I expect it to be so.”[3]


(Shyam Sundar, August 1969:) “Doesn't my ego deserve a frontal assault?

(Mother:) I do not feel so. Your ego seems to me to be mental above all, with some rather fixed ideas. But with the growth of consciousness this will disappear.”[4]


(Shyam Sundar, January 1970:) “Yesterday, Mother, while before You, I was not thinking of my health but You said to me, “I wish you good health”, and I felt the presence of a person of big size behind me.

(Mother:) Yesterday, I saw behind you the Consciousness that wanted to enter into you and which needs a solid body for its manifestation; that is why I insisted on the necessity of good health; and it is the Presence of the Consciousness concentrated on you that you took for a person of big size.
         This is good.
         Blessings.”[5]


(Shyam Sunder:) “One afternoon, referring to the Ashram, Mother remarked that the number of inmates doing Yoga could be counted on fingers. And then she asked me, “According to you, how many here are doing Yoga?”
         “Thirty,” I made a guess and told her.
         She smiled and said after some moments, “But you are doing Yoga.”
         Vasudha, who was nearby, heard these words of Mother and reminded me of them in later years when I was in difficulties.”[6]


(Shyam Sunder:) “Pournaprema came to see me one evening, early February 1971, with a message from Mother to see her next morning. It was something very important and in connection with Auroville. She knew what I will be told, but thought it would be better if I heard it first from Mother herself.
         Mother had stopped seeing people from early December, and in the latter part of January, Nolini had resumed going to her and then Madhav also. But it was just coming and going, work was not yet resumed yet.
         There was some natural suspense in my heart. Never before Mother had sent for me and on the way I felt its importance.
         I did my pranam to her as usual and when I lifted my head, she smiled and asked, “Will you do what I say?” It was an unexpected start, but I immediately answered, spontaneously, “Yes, Mother.”
         She was still very weak and her voice feeble, but clear. She first spoke of the sad state of Auroville and of the way things were being done there. She specifically mentioned the name of Nava and wanted a change.
         “I have none else in view,” Mother said. “You are my last chance for Auroville.”
         Then she spoke of the hard and difficult work that was being assigned to me, in spite of my weak health of which she would take care.
         She also said, “Don't think I am giving you a big and comfortable chair to sit on. You will have lots of difficulties, but I will be with you. You will not give up saying that you are incapable.”
         She added, “And I will hold you morally responsible for all that happens in Auroville.”
         In the end she said that if I agree to do the work, she would see me daily with my report and problems, and with her divine solicitude and humility, she added, “I will try to help you.”
         I repeated, “Yes, Mother.”
         The very next morning she asked with expectant smile, “So, what did you do yesterday?” I reported to her, and for further steps suggested to wait for Navajata's return. Mother did not like to wait, and we started in full gear.”[7]


(Shyam Sunder:) “The Auroville work was a full-time occupation. Mother relieved me of several activities, mainly concerning Sri Aurobindo Memorial Fund Society, Sri Aurobindo's Action, and the non-Auroville part of Sri Aurobindo Society.
         A sort of Auroville office was there at Navajata's residence and people were called there by him for meetings. We then needed a bigger place for the Auroville Office and shifted to a big hall owned by Sri Aurobindo Society on the sea-side. It came to be known as the Beach Office of Auroville. When Mother told me that meetings should not be held at somebody's house, but in the office, I arranged accordingly and informed Navajata about it.
         The land for the Matrimandir building had not yet been purchased. Its construction was a priority of which Mother had been reminding before. Land purchase for the other zones of Auroville was another neglected priority. Regulating the admission of people to Auroville and making the people aware of the needed discipline for the Auroville life was another. Financial management was absent.
         I had to look after almost every detail.”[8]


(Shyam Sunder on a meeting with Mother, 1 January 1973:) “Nowadays many requests are coming for joining Auroville. But most of them are not acceptable to us. Is each case to be referred to Mother?
         Mother said, “No.”
         “We will refer cases where we have doubt or where we accept.”
         “Yes.”
         “And before accepting, I am now giving them a chance of two to three weeks to see Auroville and choose their work and settle their financial position, otherwise they say something but forget it when Mother's approval comes.”
         “Have I not said that the first condition to live in Auroville is not to tell a lie?”
         “Yes, and Mother has on several occasions recently written on truth and explained about it.”
         “Show it to them.”
         “Yes, Mother, but they call me a policeman when I do so.”
         “You can tell them,” Mother said laughing, “that you are Mother's policeman.”
         After a pause, Mother said,
         “There is no need to build another ordinary city in Auroville; already there are so many. If people are like that, it will become an ordinary city and our money and efforts will be wasted. You have to be strict.” ”[9]


(Shyam Sunder:) “The work went on as before, up to May 20, 1973 when Mother received me for the last time.
         Then during the six month period from May to November that year, when Mother had retired from outer work, I continued to work on the lines set by her.
         After her passing on 17.11.73, for some time, things went on as before, but then started a long chapter of dissension, revolt, quarrels and intrigues.”[10]




  1. En Route (On the Path): The Mother's Correspondence with Shyam Sundar, p.68
  2. Ibid., p.70
  3. Ibid., p.86
  4. Ibid., p.101
  5. Ibid., p.122
  6. Shyam Sunder Jhunjhunwala, Down Memory Lane, p.85
  7. Ibid., p.89
  8. Ibid., p.90
  9. Ibid., p.263
  10. Ibid., p.92


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