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  Home > Excerpts from Other Books > Sri Aurobindo Came to Me

S r i   A u r o b i n d o    C a m e    t o    M e

IT is in our four capacities that I am related to this book of Dilip Kumar Roy's which I have been asked - or rather privileged - to introduce. As editor of the fortnightly review, Mother India, I had the delight of publishing it for the first time in serial form. I am also a friend of the author: I have known him for the last twenty three years and have valued his friendship from not only the personal standpoint but also the literary and the spiritual. Next, our friendship has resulted in a special relation on my part to his book: I actually figure in some vivid pages of it that are a most generous appreciation of me. This leads me to the fourth capacity, a pointer to which is already in the word "spiritual": we have sat at the feet of the same guru, Sri Aurobindo, in whose Ashram at Pondicherry I had been for nearly a year when Dilip Kumar Roy came there, "burning his boats" behind him but bringing with him the flame which had lit that bonfire - his colourful, many-shaded, complicated, questioning, impetuous, expansive and at the same time dreamily idealistic and Krishna-haunted personality.

We had several things in common. There was the intense love of literature, especially poetry. There was also the itch for writing, the urge in particular to write poems of a new beauty - what Sri Aurobindo, adapting a phrase of Meredith's, had called in The Future Poetry the expression of "our inmost in the inmost way". Like most people with the artistic turn we were very sensitive to the touch of earth and the deep call of the soul that had brought us here was no less a pang than a rapture, for, in our ignorance of Sri Aurobindo's all-embracing vision, it seemed to make renunciation of magic dawn and witching night and the heart-gripping loveliness that comes over things doomed to pass away, the price for the One who is infinite and eternal. Both of us had gone through emotional entanglements and had ached for the Divine after much of the bitter-sweet of human love. Then there was the pull of "career" resisted by either of us - he had the prospect of becoming a musician of note and the lime-light had already played upon him: I, with some lucky academic distinction, had looked forward to a little fame in the higher ranges of journalism. Finally, we had westernised minds which, though borne towards the spiritual life by an incalculable surge from beyond the normal self, carried a habit of controversy into even the quiet atmosphere of an Ashram of Yoga.

His intellect was indeed keyed to a different note of controversy than was mine: I was argumentative about problems like unity and multiplicity, free-will and determinism, the personal God and the Impersonal Absolute, and wanted the supra-sensible to be logically of a piece, amenable to analytic systematisation, while he had the sceptic's hesitation to accept what he could not personally verify and the positivist tendency to lay stress on perception by the outward-looking intelligence, something of the temper of Bertrand Russell whose cautions "clear-headedness" and poised "realism" he admired. But whatever the differences, we had a restlessness of thought often pursuing us in even "the moments when the inner lamps are lit". I, however, ceased argumentation after a time: close study of Sri Aurobindo's books took me with a convincing logic as far as thought could reach and, as for what lay beyond that bourne, I was fortunate - most to my own surprise - in discovering an abundant fount of faith unsealed in my heart at the touch of Sri Aurobindo and his radiant co-worker whom we addressed as the Mother. Of course, all this did not prevent the world and the flesh from constantly tripping me up, but I escaped the long tussle my friend had with the irrepressible doubter his sojourn in the West had set up in him strangely side by side with the spontaneous devotee that was part of him from his boyhood in post-Ramakrishna Bengal and that I who was not a Hindu by race but a Parsi and a resident not of Bengal but of Gujerat could hardly expect, for all my heart's faith, to find ready-made in myself.

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