Such affection for his disciples!3

Sri Aurobindo used to affectionately call my eldest brother “philosopher,” because he studied the Vedas, the Upanishads and all the scriptures. He was a real philosopher! Very often he received blessings and affection from Sri Aurobindo. When he had a headache, Sri Aurobindo used to enquire how he was doing.

There is a funny story that I have told many times, but no matter how many times I tell it, there will be people who have not heard it!

In the Ashram there was a particular singer. My brother and that singer were good friends. My brother developed a desire to learn how to sing, but he had to take permission from the Master, Sri Aurobindo. When my brother asked for permission, Sri Aurobindo wrote to my brother, “Music? It is all vital, vital. It has nothing to do with spirituality. Music is all vital.” My brother was so happy that he did not have to learn singing!

To the singer, who was going to be my brother’s teacher, Sri Aurobindo said, “He will not be able to carry one note correctly. He is useless. Do not waste your time.”

To the teacher Sri Aurobindo said one thing, and to my brother he said something else. Since the two were friends, they were exchanging their notes. My brother said, “You see, music is vital. I am not going to enter into the vital world.” And the teacher said to my brother, “You are a useless singer! Sri Aurobindo has said it.”

Like that, there were many, many affectionate letters from Sri Aurobindo. So many of the ashramites’ letters I had to read because I was the secretary of Nolini. Sri Aurobindo acted like their grandfather, not like their father. When complaints came, to one party Sri Aurobindo would say, “This person is so bad. It is beneath your dignity even to speak to him.” Then the other party got a similar letter. At times they showed each other their letters. How many letters I read! To both parties Sri Aurobindo wrote in the same way, like a grandfather.

I also do that sometimes. I have the same habit. When one individual criticises another, I may agree with the first one. Then the other individual gets the same message from me. In that way, both parties get joy. I do not know whether my disciples go and tell each other what they have heard from me. In Sri Aurobindo’s case, his messages were all in writing, so they preserved those letters. When two individuals quarreled, they could exchange their letters. One person would say, “You see, it is in Sri Aurobindo’s own handwriting. You can show me your letter, and I can show you my letter.” In my case there is no proof, but in Sri Aurobindo’s case there was proof in writing.

Such affection, such concern Sri Aurobindo had for his disciples!

PIP 3. 5 February 2002, Nexus Resort, Karambunai, Kota Kinabalu, Sabah, Malaysia