My sincerity speaks. At the Sri Aurobindo Ashram, I used to read. All the books by Sri Aurobindo I have read. Some books I have read many, many, many times. Two volumes are called Collected Poems. How many times I have read them, and how many poems they contain! Two books were difficult to understand, because they were based on Greek mythology. But they were Sri Aurobindo’s books, and out of devotion I read them.
When I started reading Savitri, hundreds of words I did not understand. I wrote down the words, and then I discovered the meaning. Again, the meaning can be totally different, if you do not understand it properly. Even scholars have had different interpretations. Let us take the English word “close.” Somebody has translated or interpreted it this way: “The door of Eternity is closed.” From Sri Aurobindo’s writing that person is getting the sense of the word. But someone else will understand the meaning this way: “The door of Eternity is very near.” These are scholars. One is saying that the door of Eternity is closed completely; another is saying that the door of Eternity is very close. You can choose whichever interpretation you like.
From Savitri I learnt the meaning of literally hundreds of words. Savitri helped me to acquire a very nice vocabulary.
Two poems in particular I liked. One was “Invitation,” and the other was “Who.” These two poems by Sri Aurobindo are absolutely immortal. At least five hundred times, if not more, I have recited them — in my own way, at home, at the top of my lungs. I was getting such joy from these two poems. And there are many others.
Sri Aurobindo’s last thirty or forty poems are so beautiful. After those poems, Sri Aurobindo did not write anything. On my birthday the Mother used to give me presents sometimes. On one of my birthdays she gave me a book by Sri Aurobindo, and she autographed the book. After giving me the book, she was very happy. I was also very happy. Then she said to me, “How do you find Sri Aurobindo’s handwriting?”
Sri Aurobindo’s handwriting was on one side and the typed poem was on the other side. The Mother said that I had to read the handwriting first, and if I could not make out the words, then only I could read the typed version on the other side. I was able to read most of the poems, but whenever I had problems, I looked at the typed version. I kept my promise.
Nolini’s handwriting was excellent. But by the time he was over sixty-five or seventy, when I was his secretary, the Ganges was flowing from his pen. When he reviewed my translations, even when his articles were seven or eight pages long, here and there he used to change words. I had to go to him even for one word if I could not figure it out. Afterwards I came to understand what he meant, and then I did not have to make changes.
Handwriting changes. I am no exception. In India I had nice handwriting. In America also I started with nice handwriting. I maintained it for five years. Now it is a different story.
DBM 11. 20 December 2004, Xiamen, China↩