A service-flame and a service-sun

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To my beloved Nolini-da-Sun from his Chinmoy-flame

Eternally grateful,


Part I — 1962

13 January

Nolini-da's birthday. Four-thirty a.m. I offered my pranam to Nolini-da with some flowers and gave him a poem I had written about him. Around five o'clock in the afternoon he said to me: "I showed your poem to the Mother and She was extremely pleased. By the way, I do not recall if I have given you any sweets."

"Yes, you did," I said. "You gave me some yesterday."

He said: "Yesterday? Come in. Come inside my room." And then he gave me more sweets to eat.

14 January

Amrita-da: "Chinmoy, you have done a great service to Nolini by writing a most significant poem.

"Chinmoy, don't think that people are not jealous of Nolini. There are many people in the Ashram who are extremely jealous of him. I pity them. God alone knows when they will realise, let alone reach, his height. But to be sure, you and I are not jealous of Nolini. To me Nolini is not only my elder brother and adviser, but also my eternal friend.

"Chinmoy, how old are you?"

"I am thirty."

"You are not even half my age!"

17 January

Nolini-da said to me: "Chinmoy, did you enjoy the story of Amrita's life?"

I said to him: "I enjoyed it a great deal."

Nolini-da said: "I am sure everybody learned much from it."

19 January

I was typing in the flower-room when Nolini-da came in.

"This morning I misplaced the file containing my new articles to be added for the new edition of Banglar Pran (the heart of Bengal). Can you look for it?"

Immediately I stood up and rushed into his room. For about half an hour I searched. Finally I found it and gave it to him. With a smile he said to me: "Chinmoy, in this world some people are meant to misplace things and some people are meant to find them."

22 January

I asked Amrita-da: "Please tell me in what language the Mother used to speak with Sri Aurobindo?"

He said: "It was always in English."

"And in what language did you speak to Sri Aurobindo?"

"I spoke almost always in English, only at times in Bengali."

"And what about the Mother? What language did you use to speak to Her?"

He said: "Ah, that you know: English, French and what-not."

23 January

Nolini-da said to me: "Chinmoy, today you have to do two things for me. First of all you have to find an article I have misplaced. This article is going to be included in the new edition of my book Narir Katha, which the Ashram Press is going to print. I don't remember the name of the article, but I am sure you will be able to find it."

I searched for fifteen minutes and found the article, which was entitled E Juge Narir Adarsha.

"Now, your second task, Chinmoy, is to try to find the third part of Matri Bani. As far as I remember, I wrote it in a grey notebook."

I searched for the notebook in various places, ransacking all the drawer files and bookshelves. But Matri Bani was not to be found.

"Where could it have gone? Where could it have gone?" he exclaimed.

I said to him: "Nolini-da, perhaps you have given it to someone."

He concentrated for two minutes and then said: "No, definitely not! I have not given it to anyone. Look for it. You will find it."

He was right. In five minutes, to his great joy, I did find it.

26 January

In the morning, while I was going through the money order coupons, Nolini-da said to me: "This evening I shall read out something very special and significant about my first meeting with Sri Aurobindo and then I shall read out Amrita's autobiography. Sisir has asked me to read out the English version of my meeting with Sri Aurobindo. Sisir feels that if it is read in English, the non-Bengalis can also enjoy it. What do you think of this idea?"

"Your Bengali will always be matchless," I said. "When you read out your articles in Bengali, I get tremendous joy, and when you read out your English articles, I also get tremendous joy. But when you read out others' translations of your Bengali articles, unfortunately I do not get the same joy. I feel something is missing, though I don't know what it is."

He said: "You do know what is missing from my writings which have been translated by others. It is my original depth. Anyway, what can I do? This time I shall listen to Sisir's request. Next time I shall definitely read in Bengali.

"Today is Republic Day. More than half a century ago we tried to bring about independence in our own way. I shall read out to the Ashramites about our revolutionary activities."

After reading out his article he said: "Now I am going to read out Amrita's story of how he met — rather, did not meet — Sri Aurobindo for the first time."

At the end of his reading, Nolini-da's comment: "Indeed, it is an excellent experience, but Amrita stops very abruptly. It is just like eating half a rasgulla. I hope later on we will be supplied with a full one."

On the way back to Nolini-da's room, Yogananda-da and I were following him. I was carrying his thermos. He said to me: "I am glad that you brought the thermos today, and I am also glad that Yogananda gave me water to drink the moment I needed it so badly."

29 January

X said to Nolini-da in the morning: "Nolini-da, when I was in Calcutta, I heard a rumour that the Mother is extremely sick and has decided to stop giving interviews. They say She won't even give her darshan four times a year. Is it true?"

Nolini-da said: "This is the discovery of some of the Ashramites. Since they don't meditate, how will they get realisation? God had to bless them with a fertile imagination; otherwise, He would have had nothing to give them. I personally wrote to Pathamandir (Calcutta) that they must not pay any attention to such destructive rumours."

30 January

I said to Nolini-da: "It seems that you have immortalised Sahana-di in your recent writings."

"Chinmoy, I don't write anything false. She deserves my sincere appreciation."

"Will you please tell me how old you were when you passed your matriculation?"

"Ah, I was only fourteen. My father thought I was too young for the matriculation examination. He wanted me to wait a year or two so that I could pass the examination without any difficulty, but my uncle did not agree with him. My uncle was very wise. He told my father that I would definitely do well in the examination. So I did take the examination. Unlike my uncle, my father did not know how ripe and clever I had already become."

Then he burst into laughter.

2 February

I said to Nolini-da: "Yesterday at the playground you told us that you were sharing with us your last life experience. I was so sorry to hear that."

"Tell me, what else do I have to write? Have I not completed my life-story?"

"I don't think so. You have not told us about your sports life in your younger days. I have heard so many stories about you as a great football player."

"I see, I see. But you know that in those days there was neither Mohan Bagan nor East Bengal to inspire us. Anyway, I shall try to write about my football and sports capacity."

4 February

"How is Nirmala today? Have the doctors decided when they are going to operate?"

"Arpita-di told me that the doctors have given Nirmala-di a blood transfusion and that she is looking fine. Arpita-di asked me to tell you something else."

"What is it?"

"She says that Nirmala-di is sad that the Mother has to spend fifteen rupees a day to keep her in the hospital."

"Chinmoy, you tell your sister to inform Nirmala-di that she does not have to think of such things. Instead of thinking of the Mother's financial problems, she must think only of her own health problems."

At that point Amrita-da happened to pass by and he overheard the phrase 'health problems'. He said to Nolini-da: "I overheard your conversation. You were telling Chinmoy about Nirmala's health problems. What are you going to do about my ignorance problem?" Then, without saying another word, he just walked away.

Nolini-da burst into laughter and said: "Amrita, our eternal Amrita." Then he said: "Come with me. I have something for you to give to Nirmala." I followed him into his room, where he gave me some of the Mother's prasad for Nirmala-di.

8 February

Nolini-da said: "Chinmoy, I have fulfilled your desire. I have written about the sportsman in me. This evening I shall read it at home in my room."

9 February

"How did you find my sports activity?"

"Excellent," I said.

Nolini-da said: "I thought you young people wouldn't like old stories about an old man." Then he changed the subject. "I believe Nirmala's operation took place this morning at eight o'clock. Now it is nine-thirty. Do you feel like going to the hospital? Try to bring me an accurate account of her condition."

I went to the hospital and came back with the message that the operation had been quite successful.

Amrita-da happened to be with Nolini-da. Amrita-da said: "That is what the doctors always say. Did you see her? What is your opinion?"

"I saw her sleeping."

Nolini-da said: "I feel now that the operation was quite successful."

12 February

"Please let me know if what you have written in your book Sadhaker Patra is all imagination."

Nolini-da said: "No, not at all. I wrote all that to my most intimate friend Shachin."

"I thought they were like Suresh Chakrabarti's Hasanter Patra."

"No, mine are serious. It seems to me that you want to translate them into English."

I gave him a smile and said: "Who can hide anything from you?"

16 February

I was working in Amrita-da's room. Amrita-da said: "I understand that Nirmala is not doing at all well today. Last night she didn't sleep at all."

I said to him: "Amrita-da, she talks too much."

"Ah, for that I do not have to go very far. How easily I could say the same about your Amrita-da."

18 February

Nolini-da said to his eldest son: "Ranju, what about Desh? Are they going to publish my article or not?"

"I have no idea," Ranju-da replied, "Even in the latest issue they did not publish your piece. I am thinking of not sending any more of your writings to Desh."

"I agree with you. Don't send any more."

Ranju-da said: "There are many magazines which are eager to publish your writings. I shall be sending that article to Amrita."

"That's a nice idea," Nolini-da said.

23 February

I said to Nolini-da: "Arpita-di asked me to inform you that Nirmala-di is not doing at all well in the hospital. She said there are only three persons on earth who care for her: the Mother, you and Lila."

Nolini-da said: "Poor Amrita! Even he is excluded from the list. He has such concern for her."

27 February

"Chinmoy, how is it that I don't see you nowadays on the sports field?"

"Nowadays I only play volleyball and practise running just to keep my body fit, since I shall not compete anymore in athletics."

"You have done more than your share of competition. Nobody expects you to compete anymore. Only try to keep your body fit. This is essential."

28 February

A young girl named Minu came to offer her pranam to Nolini-da early in the morning. She was born in Chittagong and I had studied with her for about eight months at the Sri Aurobindo Vidya Pith there. She was quite a brilliant student. She came to Nolini-da for his blessings. After she left, he asked me what her name was. I told him that I had studied with her for a few months in our village and that her name was Minu.

"That cannot be her real name. What is her real name?" he said.

"I don't remember what her real name is."

"You studied with her and you do not know her real name?"

Quite embarrassed, I went out looking for Minu. I found her near Sri Aurobindo's Samadhi. I asked her what her real name was and she said it was Amiya.

When I told Nolini-da, he said with a smile: "There is no dearth of Amiya (nectar) at the Ashram, but God alone knows when He will bless us with divine nectar."

In the afternoon, while I was typing in the flower-room, Nolini-da came up to me and said: "Did Rajan tell you that I had enjoyed your article "Ramakrishna, Soul of the East" in the Amrita Bazar?"

"Yes, he did."

"It seems that you worked hard on that article. It is always good to work hard when you write something, especially before you send it for publication."

11 March

Two American ladies were having an interview with Nolini-da in his room. I had finished my typing and was about to enter his room to return the typewriter. But when I noticed that he was giving an interview, I hesitated and moved away. He called to me: "Why are you not coming in? I have no idea how long our interview will last. Can you take this letter and give it to Amrita?"

While I was putting the typewriter in its proper place and covering it, I overheard part of their conversation. One of the ladies asked Nolini-da: "Sir, please tell me the difference between the Divine Mother and an ordinary human being."

Nolini-da said: "The difference is very simple. We ordinary human beings talk and the Divine Mother acts. We talk and talk. We are empty vessels sounding continuously, while the Mother Divine plays Her role, Her supreme role, in Eternity's Silence."

13 March

"Yesterday while we were playing volleyball, the ball went out of the court and dropped near you. You stopped it with your left foot with perfect ease. I was amazed to see it. Your position was right wing. You stopped the ball with your left foot and kicked it to us with the same foot. You had such control that you could kick the ball even with your left foot!"

"Ah, you didn't know that my left leg and right leg were perfect rivals. I was always extremely good with both legs. My corner kick was marvellous. It appeared like a rainbow and always dropped the ball near the goal post The ball used to go very high and it created a kind of delightful sensation. Again, when it was necessary, I used to use my left foot for what you call a grass-cutting shot. Sometimes I feel like writing more about my sports life."

I said: "How I wish you would do that! We would all be deeply moved and grateful."

16 March

Before he read out one of his articles in his room, Nolini-da said: “Bonne fête à Tapati, bonne fête à Madhuri. Today I shall read out something of mine and something of Amrita's. Mine is not serious but Amrita's is."

The audience burst into laughter because it was always just the opposite.

After reading out his article, Nolini-da said: "We love our country dearly and our country has also loved us dearly and it always will. India's independence is nothing short of our soul's triumphant smile."

After he had read out Amrita-da's writing, he said: "Like last time, this time also Amrita's ending is abrupt. Amrita's writing is excellent but his conclusions are abrupt. It seems to me that this is Amrita's special speciality."

Amrita-da said: "Who else can or will bless me with a special speciality if not you, Nolini?"

17 March

"Until now people have known you as a Yogi, a great literary figure, a great philosopher and a great thinker. But after hearing yesterday's article, we have all come to realise that you have a good sense of humour as well."

He said: "I see. That means all of you enjoyed my sense of humour."

"Indeed, very much."

28 March

Kalipada-da, Rose-di and Satinath-da were working in Amrita-da's room. Around eleven o'clock in the morning Amrita-da said to me: "Chinmoy, yesterday I read your article on Raja Rammohan. You all are Bengalis here; I am the only non-Bengali. I must say that all you Bengalis are rajas and ranis (kings and queens) of imagination."

Rose-di said: "Amrita-da, what you say is perfectly true. But unfortunately we have all lost our kingdoms, so we are crownless kings and queens."

At this point Sahana-di entered the room. Amrita-da said: "Don't worry, Sahana can easily solve that problem for you. She can afford not only to buy you crowns but also to crown you."

Sahana-di said: "What? What? What kind of arrow, Amrita, are you hurling at me?"

"We are not aiming arrows at you. We are just admiring your supernatural capacities and qualities," he replied.

1 April

I was working in Nolini-da's room near his bed, sitting on the floor. Ranju-da came inside and said to his father: "X. Datta has criticised Rabindranath mercilessly."

Nolini-da said: "It always happens like that. People are so ungrateful. He and Basu have become well known in the literary world by virtue of Rabindranath's grace. Now look how ungrateful they are! They speak ill of Rabindranath." Then he turned towards me and said: "Chinmoy, I once got a few reprints of my article "Rabindranath, O Uttar Pakkha." Do you know where the article was published?"

"Yes, it was published in Rabindra Bharati and the editor of the magazine is A. K. Ghose."

"Ah," he said, "now it is your turn to retrace them."

It took me about fifteen minutes to find the reprints. He was very happy that I had found them. He said to me: "Why do I waste my time searching for things? Why do I not wait for you? Why do I make the same mistake again and again?"

4 April

"Chinmoy, my servant has done you a great favour. I asked him to clean the empty drawers. Now I see that he has done much more than that. He has opened up other drawers as well, which contain important files, and turned them topsy turvy. So put them back again properly in the proper place."

6 April

Nolini-da said: "Ranju, yesterday I received a letter from Ajit (Bose). He said he was one hundred per cent sure of winning the coveted President's prize. Today I received a telegram from him saying that he has indeed won the prize."

Ranju-da said: "Then shall we congratulate him by wire?"

"Yes. The Mother has asked me to wire him Her blessings. Do you know where his office is?"

"Yes. Aurora Film, and I know the full address."

Nolini-da said: "That's fine."

A few minutes later Robi-da (his youngest son) entered into the room and began talking with me while I was working with the files. Then Nolini-da came in and said: "Have you heard the good news?"

Robi-da said: "No, we haven't. What is it?"

"Ajit's Nivedita film has won the President's prize and also a gold medal. We all know that twenty thousand rupees is nothing for him. But the most important thing is that he started this film with the Mother's blessings and took my advice several times while making it."

8 April

Manoj's sister Priti-di came to Nolini-da and said: "How is the Mother?"

Nolini-da said: "Fine. The Mother is fine.

Nirod-da came in and asked: "Nolini-da, how is the Mother?"

Nolini-da said: "You, a doctor, are asking me this question?"

"True, I am a doctor, but you know perfectly well what kind of doctor I am. I wish to hear about her heart attack from your own inner vision."

"Only this much I can tell you: a tremendous fight is going on."

11 April

While going through the files, I found an incomplete article by Nolini-da on D.L. Roy. I said to him: "Would you like to complete this article?"

He said: "Ah, I had totally forgotten about it. Perhaps you were not even born when I started writing this article. Anyway, I am glad you have found it. Leave it in my front room on the table and I shall complete it. Tomorrow I shall tell you which of the files are important and which are unimportant. Keep them separate."

12 April

Eight-thirty a.m. I was entering the room to work. Nolini-da said to me: "Chinmoy, immediately find that Rumanian article! I need it badly. I do not know which file I put it in. This time I have really created a problem for you."

I gave him a smile and said: "No problem at all." It took me twenty minutes to find the article, which had been put in the wrong file. He was extremely happy that I had found it and he said to me: "I wanted to read it last night at the playground, but I shall read it next week. Now I shall tell you which are the important files and which are the unimportant files. As you see, there are about two hundred files. You have to take full care of them. Try to know them by heart."

I said: "I shall."

At this moment Champaklal-ji came in and said: "Nolini-da, Nolini-da, the Mother wants to dictate something." Nolini-da immediately grabbed a pencil and ran. Forty-five minutes later he came in with Amrita-da. Noticing that his face was very serious and grave, I immediately ran out of the room.

That afternoon, when I returned to the room, Ranju-da was working at his desk. As soon as I entered, Nolini-da said: "Let me tell both of you that the Mother's crisis is over." Ranju-da and I were overjoyed.

I said to Nolini-da: "I have heard that you had a very significant dream recently. Is it true?"

He said: "Yes, it is true. But I want to live in the world of reality and not in the world of dreams. For some time I wish to work on three or four things together. This red file I shall use. I shall work on my Smritir Pata, on the translation of Savitri and on the translation of the Rig-Veda. See that I don't misplace them."

14 April

Night. Nolini-da read out in his room the Mother's momentous message on Her recovery. Priti-di came up to Nolini-da and said: "If my father had been alive today, he would have been deeply moved by this message of the Mother's."

Nolini-da gave her a most sympathetic look and said: "Where is he, if not with Sri Aurobindo?"

15 April

"'She stands above death' — have I translated the section that has this most significant message?

"Yes, you have done it."

"Where is it? Why don't I find it in the file?"

"It has already been printed. That is why it is not in the file."

"Printed? Then show it to me."

I showed him the Bengali magazine.

19 April

"Nolini-da, yesterday while I was at the guest house I happened to meet two old American ladies. They said they were very deeply moved by the penetrating and illumining look of your eyes. One of them bought eight books of yours and has already finished reading them. She said to me that she has gained much wisdom and light, inner and outer, from your writings. Most of all she liked your book The Coming Race. I told her that that was your first book, which came out even before Sri Aurobindo's Siddhi, 24 November 1926 (when Sri Aurobindo attained his spiritual Perfection.) They would like a picture of you to take back to America."

Just then Rajen-da passed by and Nolini-da said to him: "Rajen, have you heard that two American ladies want to take my picture all the way to America? All right, if I cannot give them a good picture of mine I shall give them a copy of my Bengali book Kabir Manishi. They will find a very good picture of me in that book."

"They would like to visit Sri Aurobindo's room."

Nolini-da said: "That is Champaklal's job, so ask him. But I don't think it will be possible for him to show them Sri Aurobindo's room since the Mother is not feeling well and he has to remain with Her constantly."

Around four o'clock I was typing in the flower-room when Nolini-da came in and said: "I have spoken to Champaklal and he has agreed to show the American ladies Sri Aurobindo's room tomorrow at twelve-thirty. Go and inform them."

21 April

"Chinmoy, how did those two American ladies like Sri Aurobindo's room?"

"They were overwhelmed with joy and gratitude. They said Champaklal-ji allowed them to meditate for fifteen minutes in Sri Aurobindo's room and then gave them most beautiful blessing cards from the Mother."

Nolini-da said: "That's nice."

23 April

"Nolini-da, those two ladies will be leaving tomorrow for America. Could you not give them your picture?"

"What? I thought that you had already given them my picture?"

I said: "How could I? I don't have it. You have not given it to me."

"You don't know where I keep things in my room? Just go and give them two copies of my book Kabir Manishi. I am giving them my picture and I would like them to learn Bengali. So tell them that I am giving them this book to kill two birds with one stone."

Then he gave me a smile.

25 April

I said to him: "Nolini-da, the American ladies were extremely grateful to you for the books. They also asked me to tell you that your Bengali handwriting looks like English music notation."

He smiled and said: "Is that so? Then I must start composing songs."

1 May

At the playground Nolini-da said: "Today I am going to tell you about the last days of my life as a revolutionary. If you follow me I can take you right up to the jail."

At the end of his talk he said: "What I have just read out is profane, non-spiritual, but now I want to read something spiritual. I will now introduce Amrita to you. This is the second instalment. I must say that Amrita is always spiritual in his writings."

After reading out Amrita-da's talk he said: "Poor Amrita, he was not fortunate enough to dine with Sri Aurobindo. Indeed, this instalment has a tragic end, but soon he will tell us about his bright light."

10 May

"Chinmoy, can you go to Sisir (Director of the Sri Aurobindo International Centre of Education) and bring me a copy of the book of biographies of eminent scientists? I think he will have this book in the university library."

I immediately went to Sisir-da and told him that Nolini-da wanted to have a copy of that book.

He said to me: "Suniti is not here. When she comes back she will search for it, and if we have it she will take it to Nolini-da."

So I went back to Nolini-da's room and started working. Fifteen minutes later he came in and said: "Where is the book?"

"Sisir-da said he would send it with Suniti if they have a copy of it."

"What? Go immediately and see if he has that book. If he does not have it, then don't waste any more time. Go to Medhananda (the librarian of the Sri Aurobindo Ashram Library). I need that book urgently."

I went to Sisir-da. He said to me: "We don't have the book Nolini-da wants. Suniti says there is a book containing a few articles on the scientists, but it is a children's book. I am sure it will not serve Nolini-da's purpose.

I said to him: "You could have sent Suniti to Nolini-da. He has been waiting for the book and you promised to send it."

He said: "Well, I am sorry."

Then I went to Medhananda and got four different books entitled The Biographies of Eminent Scientists. Nolini-da was exceedingly glad to have these books and said to me: "Chinmoy, there was a special purpose in my asking you to go to Sisir."

13 May

"Chinmoy, have you read Subhash Bose's autobiography?"

"Yes, I have read it."

"Then tell me, which year did he strike this Professor Oaten?"

"I am sorry, but I don't remember the year. But I can easily find out for you. Let me go to the library."

I was about to leave for the library when he said: "Where are you going? It is raining too heavily!"

But my zealous vital did not listen to him. I went to the library and found that the year was 1916. I gave him the information and he noted it down with joy. He wanted to insert it in his book of reminiscences.

22 May

"Ida Patterson from America has written a letter to me. In her letter she says some very nice things about you. I shall show the letter to the Mother first and then let you read it."

Two hours later, while I was working in his room, he came up to me and said: "I showed Ida's letter to the Mother She is very happy that Ida has seen such nice things in you. She asked me if I had already shown you the letter. I said no. Then She asked me to show it to you. Here it is.

23 May

Playground. Nolini-da said: "Last time I took you from Manik Tola garden to the jail. Today I will tell you about the life we led there for a year. A certain court officer said to Sri Aurobindo: 'Aurobindo, so at last you are caught; you are caught. Sri Aurobindo said to him immediately: 'And yet I will escape; I will escape!'"

Nolini-da's account of this significant incident produced a most thrilling and illumining effect in my heart.

"To continue, I have divided my jail life into two parts. This time I shall tell you about our stay in the cell. I hope next time I shall be able to tell you about our court life.

26 May

Nolini-da was giving an interview to Ajit Bose in the front room while I was working in his bedroom. Suddenly he called me. He said to Ajit Bose: "Do you know Chinmoy? He translates my Bengali writings into English and they appear in the Mother India."

Then he said to me: "Chinmoy, Ajit wants to type an article of his. Can you give him your typewriter, since mine is not working too well? Your typewriter is also very old. You need a better machine. Let me see what I can do for you."

28 May

"The Nivedita film will be shown tonight at the playground for the second time," Nolini-da said to me. "Tell Sisir that if he wants to, he can read out Sri Aurobindo's note on Nivedita before they start the movie."

Sisir-da was not feeling well so Amita read out Sri Aurobindo's note.

31 May

At the playground. "So today, from inside the jail I shall take you to the judge's court. I am afraid next time it will be our last sitting."

1 June

"So, Chinmoy, Amal has spoken to you?"

I said: "Yes, he has."

"You had to wait for a long time," Nolini-da said.

"I am so grateful that you are finally allowing me to continue my play on Sri Aurobindo in the Mother India."

He gave me a significant smile.

I said to him: "Yesterday in the playground you told us that it would be your last sitting. How I wish that you would tell about your musical experiences and your sports life at the playground."

"Oh no, those are my personal experiences. They are too personal."

"Rabindranath, in his Jiban Smriti, and Nabin Sen, in his Amar Jiban, revealed quite a few personal experiences," I said.

"Chinmoy, as you know, I am neither Rabindranath nor Nabin Sen. I am your Nolini-da and I would be embarrassed to read out those experiences in the playground."

I said to him: "But I have heard from an authoritative source that your musical experiences and your sports life will be published in Vartika."

"I see, I see. If ever they are published in Vartika, then you must know that it was not my doing but Ranju's."

Then we both smiled.

9 June

Nolini-da said to Dikshit-bhai: "Ah, bonne fête à Dikshit-bhai. So how old are you? No! I must ask you how young you are."

Dikshit said: "I am only 72."

"Then you are younger than me by one year only."

Dikshit-bhai said: "We want to remain young; therefore the Mother has kept us young! We are Her children."

Nolini-da said: "You are right, absolutely right, Dikshit-bhai."

Both of them exchanged soulful smiles.

"Smriti's birthday"

Smriti's birthday. She made an artwork tapestry for the Mother which she showed to Nolini-da and Amrita-da. Both Nolini-da and Amrita-da deeply appreciated it, but she told them: "It has not come out well. There are mistakes. You two know nothing about embroidery, but Mother knows. She will easily find the mistakes."

Amrita-da said: "True, we do not know anything about embroidery, but we know everything about you. We judge your embroidery according to our affection for you."

Nolini-da gave Smriti a broad smile.

"Ranju-da offered two large slices of mango to Nolini-da"

Ranju-da offered two large slices of mango to Nolini-da. Nolini-da gave me a piece. At this moment Rajen-da came in. Ranju-da said to him: "Would you care for some mango?"

Rajen-da said: "Let me see."

"High quality, excellent taste," Ranju-da replied. "But only five mangoes are in good condition. The rest were ruined in the train."

Nolini-da said: "Who sent them?"

Ranju-da said: "Satya Bose."

"Rose-di's mother also had her birthday on that day"

Rose-di's mother also had her birthday on that day. She was waiting at the door for Nolini-da to come out; and when he came out, she presented him with an envelope and said it was her birthday.

Nolini-da said: "It seems that on this day many people have blessed the earth."

"Venkat was also waiting at the door"

Venkat was also waiting at the door, holding a copy of Bharati. He offered the magazine to Nolini-da and said: "Here is my translation of your Smriti Pata." (Venkat had translated a portion of Nolini's autobiograpphy into his mother tongue, Hindi.)

"Ah, I have already seen a copy of it. I liked it very much."

Venkat then said to Nolini-da: "Please tell me if you have ever written anything on Lord Krishna."

Nolini-da gave him a smile and said: "Well, I am the wrong person to ask. Go and ask Chinmoy."

I said to Venkat: "Although Nolini-da has not written an article specifically on Sri Krishna, he has written quite a few things on Sri Krishna at various places. I shall collect them and give them to you."

Nolini-da said to Venkat: "So you see, your problem is immediately solved."

"At three-thirty that afternoon"

At three-thirty that afternoon I was typing in the flower-room when Nolini-da came in and said: "Tomorrow I shall need a new file for I have started translating Sri Aurobindo's thoughts and aphorisms."

I said to him: "You already have one."

"Where? When?"

"I shall get it for you right now."

"No, it is not necessary now, but give it to me tomorrow morning."

At the time I was typing an article by Nolini-da for the World Union magazine. The title was "A Global Unity." He commented: "Unity we need, but division we want."

14 June

It was nine o'clock in the morning. Prahllad, a very good friend of mine (unfortunately God forgot to give him a sound brain), came up to Nolini-da and said: "Nolini, please me envelope."

Nolini-da said to him: "Come in the afternoon. Ranju will give you one."

Prahllad said: "I no come in the afternoon. Ranju no good."

Nolini said: "Why is Ranju no good?"

Prahllad said: "Ranju insulting me. He calling me compounder. You know I am a doctor and F.R.C.S."

Nolini-da said: "I am sorry. Since you are such a great doctor I must give you an envelope." He stood up from his chair and got an envelope for Prahllad and said to him: "Prahllad today I am going to ask Ranju to call you doctor from now on and not compounder anymore."

15 June

There was an envelope on Nolini-da's table. Nolini-da opened it and found that it was a story by Maupassant translated by Manju-da (Nolini's second son). He had sent it to some magazine and they had returned it. Nolini-da said. "Poor Manju. I read his translation before. It is a very good translation. He should have sent it to Uttara. They would have accepted it."

A few minutes later Wilfy (Wilfred) brought a few pictures of Nolini-da which he had taken at the tennis court. When Wilfy showed them to Nolini-da, Nolini-da said: "Wilfy you are really a good photographer."

17 June

Around ten-thirty a.m. five young boys came to Amrita-da and said: "We don't want to stay in the Tyanga House anymore. We don't like it at all. We want to move to some other place."

Amrita-da said: 'That is a good idea but I cannot be of real help to you. Go to Nolini."

The five young boys came up to Nolini-da and pleaded with him to find a new place for them.

Nolini-da said: "I sympathise with you, but you have come to the wrong person for help. Go to Amrita. He always deals with this kind of thing. It is his domain. I can't enter into his domain so easily."

The five boys came up to Amrita-da and told him what Nolini-da had said. Amrita-da replied: "I told you that I could not solve your problem. I thought Nolini could. Since even Nolini finds it difficult to solve your problem, there is only one person left and that is the Mother. Tomorrow I shall speak to her and she will take care of the matter."

18 June

Early in the morning Samar came to Nolini-da and prostrated himself before him. "Dada, may I go to church regularly?" he asked.

Nolini-da said to him: "Go! Go anywhere you want to, only don't come to me. Samar, I warn you, don't keep one leg in one boat and another leg in another boat, or you will fall into the sea of ignorance. Either go to church or remain in the Ashram."

Samar said: "But I go to church and repeat the Mother's name."

Nolini-da became furious. "For God's sake, leave me alone. Today I have most important things to do."

"Dada, to me you are like my own father."

"Indeed, what an honour to have a son like you!" Nolini-da replied.

29 June

Bibha-di said: "Nolini-da, while they were taking Nolini Sen to the hospital, Ila-di (Nolini Sen's wife) lost consciousness. Even now she is still unconscious."

"Bibha, unfortunate calamity after calamity! What can I say," said Nolini-da.

30 June

I was typing in the flower-room when Nolini-da came up to me and said: "Chinmoy, fifty years ago one of my toes was badly injured while I was playing football, but I recovered. Once I recovered, there was no pain at all, but now it seems that the pain has come back and I can't do athletics anymore."

I said to him: "Nolini-da, it seems your body does not want you to participate anymore in athletic competition."

"I see, I see. Chinmoy, I know that you are not going to participate in athletics this year; you have had enough of it. But you must practise every day without fail to keep your body fit."

"I do that. Prahllad is my witness."

"I don't need your best friend to support your case. I believe you. You know, Chinmoy, I don't like to participate in athletics anymore either, but there are various reasons why I still have to."

I said: "I fully understand that."

He said: "I am glad that you understand it."

1 July

In the afternoon I said to Amrita-da: "Yesterday I saw you fetching water from the tap and carrying the water jug into your room. There are so many young boys and girls who would be happy and proud to be of service to you. Please allow me to bring water for you every day."

"Chinmoy, it seems that you will not allow me to take even this little exercise. All right, starting tomorrow you have a new job. Come inside; I will show you where to put the kuja (water jug)."

11 July

"Nolini-da, I have received a letter from Dilip-da."

"From Dilip? To you?"

"Yes. Recently I wrote an article about his father, D.L. Roy. I asked him to correct my article. He did so and sent it back to me with a letter. He has written much about you."

"About me?"

"You may wish to see it."

Nolini-da read the letter and said: "Mad, mad! Dilip compares me with his most illustrious father. He is really mad. I am sure you have told him that I am writing an article on his father."

I said: "No, I have not told him that. He has heard it from some other source, it seems."

"Anyway, if you answer his letter, tell him that I shall try to write something about his father. But don't say that I am writing something. You know me well. I may not get the necessary time to complete it."

14 July

Nolini-da said: "Tomorrow the athletic competitions will start. Can you ask Albert to make shorts for me? I am sorry, I hope he can do it for me on such short notice."

I went to Albert-da and told him about Nolini-da's wish. Albert-da was always most affectionate to me and, in his usual way, he said: "Chinmoy, you fool, you have brought neither his measurements nor his shorts. How am I going to make them?" Then he said to me: "All right, I shall come with you to his room."

I told him: "Nolini-da hesitated a little about asking you on such short notice."

"You fool! You work with Nolini-da. Don't you know that he is always an exception? Even if he asks me to do something at the eleventh hour, I shall do it gladly."

"A book on the great men of the West"

Nolini-da said: "Chinmoy, you have to do something today. I want to prepare a book on the great men of the West. The title will be Pashchatyer Kabi O Manishi. Make a collection of all my writings on these great men."

I said: "You do not want to have a book on the great men of the East also?"

"Well, if you want to, you can also do that. My article on Pascal has to be translated into Bengali. Whom do you suggest?"

"May I try it?"

"You? You don't write in Bengali. You have been translating my Bengali writings into English."

"I have already translated your book The Malady of the Century into Bengali."

"How is it, then, that you have not shown it to me?"

Quite apologetically I said: "It needs a little bit of revision."

Nolini said: "In that case, if you translate it I don't have to worry.

That afternoon I left on his table my Bengali translation of one of his English poems.

15 July

"Who translated this? The translation is very nice. And who wrote the original?"

I said to him: "I translated it. You cannot recognise your own poem?"

"How do you expect me to remember everything that I have written?"

I said: "But you have made no correction."

"Do you mean that I have to correct even if it needs no correction? Put Pashchatyer Kabi O Manishi into chronological order."

"You mean according to their birth dates?"


To the heights

The lamp lies unlit and dismal dark —
Bring to it the spark of your morning love and life,
The lamp is lit and burns.

The lamp burns low and dim —
Bring to it your earnest loyalty and clear adhesion,
The lamp burns high and bright.

The flame mounts slow uncertain —
Bring to it your ardent yearning and unshakeable faith,
The flame mounts swift and firm.

The flame sweeps tireless ever upward —
Call unto it the bending Grace from beyond,
The lamp has become the Sun!

— Nolini Kanta Gupta

13 October 1936

17 July

I said to Nolini-da: "It is very strange that the birth dates of Nicholas, Saint John of the Cross, Danton and Hilton are not available in any book."

"Did you consult a good Webster's?"

"Yes, I did. Let me go to the library and make further investigations."

In an hour I came back and said: "Except for Hilton, I found the birth dates of all."

"I am sure you will find his, too," he said.

20 July

Nolini-da read out at the playground "My Acceptance of Sannyasa." Before he read it out, he said: "Today's episode is extremely amusing, almost hilarious, but I am afraid you will enjoy all this at my expense."

Afterwards, Rajen-da and I escorted him home. He said to Rajen-da: "Did you enjoy my talk?"

Rajen-da said: "Of course."

Nolini-da said: "Sometimes I am embarrassed to read out these kinds of things because they are too personal."

Rajen-da said: "Although they are personal, we learn much from them. It helps us a lot."

Nolini-da said: "Chinmoy also tells me the same." Then he said: "This coming Friday I shall read out Siddhi Dibas" (Sri Aurobindo's God-realisation day, 24 November 1926).

30 July

In Nolini-da's room. "Today's story will be about 24 November 1926. Most of you have read and heard of it from different persons. Today you will hear the story from me. First I shall read it out in English and then in Bengali."

After he read out the English version he said: "Next time I shall read it out in Bengali. Today I have a severe sore throat."

Needless to say, everybody was deeply moved and we all learned something new and special from his talk.

1 August

Motakaka (Charupada) handed a letter to Amrita-da for the Mother, requesting him to read the letter. Amrita-da went upstairs and read the letter to the Mother. When he brought it back, he asked Rose-di to put the letter inside an envelope and seal it. A few hours later, when the sadhak came back to Amrita-da to learn about the letter, Amrita-da gave him the envelope and said: "Who says this is a letter? You must teach me English."

At that moment Nolini-da happened to enter Amrita-da's room. The sadhak said: "Nolini-da, Amrita-da always cuts jokes with me."

"What else can he do? Why do you forget that this is his nature?" Nolini-da replied.

"I must say that it is not my nature, but my poor fate," Amrita-da said.

2 August

Rajen-da brought a serious complaint against one of the Ashramites to Amrita-da. Rajen-da said: "Amrita-da, I know him, I know his parents, I know his grandparents, I even know his great-grandparents. Their nature will never be transformed. They are all rogues."

"Rajen, it seems to me that the transformation of nature is a little difficult. Otherwise, by this time my nature would have been totally transformed," Amrita-da replied.

13 August

I was working in Nolini-da's room on the floor near his bed. Suddenly he came and sat on his bed with a thud. "Do you know that yesterday I ran against Madanlal? (Madanlal was at least twenty years younger than Nolini-da.) I kept up with him for eighty metres, but the last twenty metres he drew ahead of me."

"That is nothing. At the start, perhaps you didn't have the determination to keep up your speed to the end. Otherwise, you could easily have kept pace with him to the end."

"I too think so."

"Moreover, recently you developed some pain in your leg. That, too, should be taken into consideration."

"Needless to say, you are my staunchest supporter and my best lawyer."

27 August

Early in the morning I went to Nolini-da and made my most devoted pranam to him. He was very pleased. At noon I went to Amrita-da and told him that I would like to have a group picture with him and Nolini-da.

Amrita-da said: "With Nolini? Has he agreed?"

"Yes, he has agreed. Only now I need you."

"Is Nolini ready?"

"He is," I said.

"If Nolini is ready, I am already ready. Come along. Let us make you immortal or let you make us immortal on your birthday."

Indeed, it was a classic picture. Nolini-da and Amrita-da were sitting in chairs. I was standing behind Nolini-da and Kalipada-da was standing behind Amrita-da.

30 August

I said to him: "I have translated your article on Goethe."

"But I had already translated it."

This translation is altogether a different one," I said.

He was pleased that it was a different article.

5 September

"Nolini-da, in the Puna Daily News there is an article severely criticising X. and his ashram."

"Yes, yes, I have heard all about it. Don't read that type of thing. It only lowers your consciousness, that's all. Now go to the dispensary and get some ointment for my leg."

Immediately I went to the dispensary and got his ointment. After I gave it to him he said: "Chinmoy, Janata needs an article from me. Can you get me an article from my old file? Ranju will mail it to them as soon as you find it. They need it for the Puja issue, so try to get it as soon as possible. Durga Puja is approaching fast."

8 September

In the afternoon at four o'clock, Nolini-da said to Amrita-da: "Amrita, today in the playground I am supposed to read out your reminiscences and my version of the 24th of November, 1926. Since morning it has been raining heavily. Now it seems the sky is clearing, so if I want to read it out, I can. But my throat is bothering me today. What do you suggest?"

"You are freed from the rain but not from your cough. One attack is over. Let this attack also end. It seems that rain is more compassionate to you than your cough. Such being the case, you may cancel your talk."

14 September

"Nolini-da, I have written a poem on Amrita-da. I would be extremely grateful if you would translate it into English."

"What is wrong with you?"

"Nothing is wrong, but if you would translate it I would be very glad, grateful and proud."

"In that case, leave it here on the table." Smiling, he said, "Sincerity always pays."

15 September

Early in the morning, while I was reading the programmes on the bulletin board, Nolini-da happened to pass by. He said to me: "Your translation is done. You can get it from my room."

Immediately I went to his room and got it. I was deeply moved by his inimitable translation and my heart overflowed with gratitude. A few minutes later he came in. He asked me whether or not I liked it. My face, embodying the reflection of my heart's gratitude, gave him the most adequate reply. The translation was greatly admired by all those to whom I showed it.

16 September

Nolini-da said: "Today at my place I shall read out two things. These items are meant for children. Here I see quite a few grownups, so I would like them to become children immediately." All burst into roaring laughter.

18 September

Amrita-da said to me: "Chinmoy, come into my room. Tomorrow is my birthday, but I have started observing my birthday today. I want to give you some special food since you are a special person."

"Amrita-da, tomorrow I shall have something special for you," I said.

His immediate reply: "Since it is not easy to become a special person, I have to be satisfied in getting something special from you."

"Who says that you are not a special person?"

"Well, he who is a special person knows it and feels it."

"Amrita-da, who can outdo you in an argument?"

"Ah, I see. In that case I withdraw my point. I am indeed a special person when it is a matter of argumentation!"

19 September

At eight-thirty a.m. I presented Amrita-da with my poem translated into English by Nolini-da. He was extremely moved. He was speechless and did not want to descend to his usual humorous consciousness. In a high, contemplative mood, he said: "In silence I am telling you what I want to say about this poem."

After a few moments he said: "Chinmoy, today I will give you the best sweets, made by the best sweet-maker. Do you know who she is?"

"How can I know? Please tell me."

"She is our Shibarani, the Ashram's Shibarani, the Mother's Shibarani."

Later, I entered Nolini-da's room to work. He said to me: "Today we must observe Amrita's birthday. Here is a huge cake. Go and give it to him. We shall invite his dear ones to his room."

Then I showed Nolini-da the group picture taken on my birthday. He was very pleased. He said to me: "I need three copies: one for the Mother and two for myself."

Robi-da also wrote a poem in Bengali about Amrita-da and asked his father to translate it into English. Nolini-da's translation of Robi-da's poem was also extremely beautiful.

Part II — Amrita


What we understand easily we believe we understand rightly,
We make a confusion between the face and its mask.
We think the horizon line is the finishing line,
We forget that a blue sky stretches still beyond.

The world is built with the tears and smiles of the gods...
A child is at play on the sandy beaches:
He is never to be met in the crowd...
A jewel knows not itself, nor does a pearl know that it is a pearl!

The goal fixed for ever, for ever he goes on,
The path offers no bar, no call reaches from behind:
The eternal voyager, eternally free,
Eyes ever turned to the dawning East, never to the setting West.

He hides behind a veil and moves on...
Is it the stream?
Is it the ocean vast?

— Nolini Kanta Gupta

Translated from the Bengali of Robi Gupta


The Creator in his dreaming has created
    This immortal thing in creation,
Figuring as a common creature,
    forgetful of his self:
A mystic reason makes him hide
    his own form and nature,
Ever at labour in working out
    the Impossible:
To transfigure Nature, to establish the Transcendent
    here on the bosom of material Earth,
To feed the divine sacrificial Fire
    with this human body,
With this bounded frame.
Lo, the timeless hero worker
    with this flaming faith,
Indifferent to the rude impacts of Reality,
Dreaming the victorious Mother's
    wonder dreams,
Shaping in his heart of hearts
    the golden garden of Paradise —
A faultless, sleepless, pure
Has built this life into a piece of

— Nolini Kanta Gupta

Translated from the Bengali of Chinmoy

22 September

I took a copy of it from Robi-da and gave Nolini-da's translations of both Robi-da's poem and mine to Sethna. He deeply enjoyed both poems and subsequently published them in the Mother India. Sethna said to me: "Chinmoy, Amrita's comment on Robi's poem is wonderful and what he said about your poem is also very, very nice. I do not know what you and Robi have done with your Bengali originals, but I must say Nolini's translations are extremely beautiful."

25 September

"I had quite a few ruled sheets. Where have they gone?" Nolini-da asked.

"I put them in a file," I said.

"You have to keep those sheets in a file?"

"I keep everything in a file," I said. Then I brought out file No. 104 and gave it to him.

He smiled and said: "It seems I will not be able to lose anything anymore even if I want to."

26 September

"Here are hundreds of Sri Aurobindo's letters to Mridu. Separate the letters that you feel are important from the unimportant ones and then give both files to me."


On the 22nd of September 1962 Mridu passed away.

Unwarned by the Grim Reaper, unweighted with years
In silence off she shuffled her mortal frame.
A ceaseless fount spraying pure joy was she,
Her heart all sweet with the zeal of a daring flame.

Her heavy boat plied from shore to shore unrhymed
Of blooming, quiescent or withering souls.
A snow-white train of humour with rosy thrill
Her presence called forth in persons of varied roles.

She served her Father divine, the Lord of the gods,
With earthly manna savoured with her soul's delight.
Her heart's up-brimming transport she shared with all.
Mridu, His dove, flew quick to His golden Height.

She bodied forth a climbing, sleepless love,
Her Parents blessed her life with bending Grace.
A unique prayer the child from Him received;
Behold, ecstasy's emblem grew her face.

— Chinmoy

Sri Aurobindo wrote for Mridu the following to be used by her as her prayer:

/"I pray to be purified from self-will and self-assertion so that I may become docile and obedient to the Mother and a fit instrument for her work, surrendered and guided by her Grace in all I do." /

30 September

In the evening Nolini-da met me at the Ashram gate. "Oh Chinmoy, I have been looking for you. Will you go to Amal's place and give him this?" he said, handing me something. "I had to write the introduction for Sri Aurobindo's The Human Cycle and The Ideal of Human Unity. Show it to Amal and ask him if he has any suggestions to make."

I went to Amal's house immediately and knocked at his gate. His wife opened the door. "I am so sorry to come to you at this hour," I said.

"Chinmoy, it is perfectly all right," she said. Then she called out: "Amal, Amal! Look, Chinmoy says he is sorry because he has come at this hour."

Amal said: "Chinmoy, you must know that you are always welcome. You can come at any time. Even if you have no specific reason, you can come and chat with me. You should have realised by now our mutual affection." Then he read Nolini-da's introduction.

I told him that Nolini-da wanted to see if he had any suggestions to make. He read it twice and said: "It is excellent. I have no suggestions to make." Then, with a smile, he said to me: "Sometimes when we offer suggestions to Nolini we just create unnecessary confusion for him."

"In that case, I am a real culprit. How often I offer suggestions! What is worse, sometimes they are unsolicited."

Amal said: "I have always admired your simplicity and modesty, but not your unnecessary and disproportionate humility."

4 October

"It seems that I gave the file containing Vaidic Kathopakathan to Nolini Sen. I have located two articles, but two are missing. Out of four, I have

1. Agastya,

2. Lopamudra.

The remaining two are Puroraba and Sarama. Try to trace them. God alone knows where you will get them from."

I went to Medhananda's library and found them: one in Prabartak and one in Bartika. When I handed them to him he gave me a very broad smile.

26 October

I said to Nolini-da: "You have been suffering so much from your cough."

"Yes, you are so right, Chinmoy. Yesterday the Mother asked me to read out something. After reading out only two pages, I had to stop. I felt very sorry. The Mother immediately gave me a pill. The effect of the pill continued for a few hours, but last night I suffered a lot."

I said to him: "I am sure it will go away soon."

Nolini-da said: "It has to."

27 October

Suren Bose offered Nolini-da a few flowers along with the Bengali translation of The Life Divine, Part Two. Nolini-da asked him how old he was, since it was his birthday. He said he was seventy-eight, remarking that he was the same age as Nolini-da.

Nolini-da said: "I am only seventy-three. You are much older than I, but I am glad that you are keeping good health."

"It is all the Mother's Grace. I just recovered from a most serious illness."

28 October

Nolini-da asked Nirmala-di to inform me that from now on I should carry birthday flowers from the Meditation Hall downstairs to the first floor every day.

2 November

On our way to the playground I said to Nolini-da: "Since you are still suffering from your cough, would you please try Sudhir-da's medicine?"

He burst into laughter. "Sudhir is my dear and real friend, but I cannot take him as my doctor."

At the playground Nolini-da said: "Today I shall read out to you two things; two, because they are short. One is a continuation of my previous reminiscences; the other one I won't tell you about right now."

After he had read out the first one he said: "You are all familiar with the concept of 'Hymns to the Light' but you will be surprised to learn why I am writing 'Hymns to the Darkness'." He also read out his English translations of Rabindranath's Bengali songs and of some Bengali poems by modern writers.

On our way back from the playground he asked me and Rajen-da our opinion. Rajen-da said: "Excellent!"

I said to him: "I have learnt something new: at times there is a real need for darkness."

He said: "At times darkness is nothing but a future preparation for a brighter light."

4 November

Early in the morning he said to me: "Chinmoy, I am suffering from constipation. Go and get a few packets of lithiny (alka seltzer) from Nripen's dispensary."

I immediately went to the dispensary and brought a few packets for him. On my return he commented: "How quickly you brought it! Now, here is a letter for Kirit Joshi. Walk, don't run. Don't kill yourself!"

5 November

Dulali's complaints against Krishna: Dulali told Nolini-da that Krishna had beaten her. Nolini-da said: "So what was your reaction?"

"My reaction was to do nothing. I didn't strike her back because I did not come to the Ashram to do that kind of thing."

Nolini-da said: "Oh, I see, I see. Since you have come to do something else, do that very thing and become very good and devoted to the Mother."

7 November

Amrita-da gave me a new job in the evening. He said to me: "Chinmoy, beginning tomorrow you will help me work on the cheques that the Mother receives every day. Let me tell you what to do." Nolini-da came into the room and Amrita-da said to him: "Beginning tomorrow, Chinmoy will help me in my work."

"I do hope that my work will not suffer," Nolini-da said.

Amrita-da said: "I assure you that will never be." Then both of them exchanged amused and soulful smiles.

15 November

Amrita-da said to me: "Chinmoy, I have decided to learn mathematics from you, since you are an expert in subtracting two hundred rupees from two rupees."

I was simply shocked to see my mistake, but his compassionate smile washed away my feeling of guilt for being so careless.

22 November

Nolini-da entered Amrita-da's room and said: "We must not believe anything X says. He has created such problems for the Mother."

Amrita-da said: "Unfortunately you and I — especially I — have been taking that oath for a long time. Every day I promise myself that I will not believe him and every day I fail to keep my promise."

Nolini-da said: "I am sure one day you and I will succeed. For who wants to suffer unreservedly and undeservedly?"

Amrita-da said: "In your case, undeservedly is the right word; in my case, unreservedly is the right word. Let us really try not to believe anything that he says or does. He is such a disgrace to our Ashram!"

23 November

I was meditating in the Meditation Hall when I heard Amrita-da calling me. When I went to him he said: "What do you want?"

I said: "You called me."

He said: "No, no, you are wrong. This kind of message you get only from your meditation."

I was about to go away when he said to me: "Since you took the trouble of coming to me, I must give you something. Let me give you this fountain pen. Many, many years ago I got it from someone and I have used it myself for many, many years. If you hear who gave it to me, your ego will swell up. Therefore I shall not tell you." Then with a smile he said to me: "I was under the impression that you were a good meditator, but now I have changed my opinion. You are able to hear me call you during your so-called deep meditation."

26 November

X came and fell at Nolini-da's feet crying and sobbing like a little child. His pride had been smashed mercilessly by the Mother. He said to Nolini-da: "Now that the Mother will not see me anymore or give me any special attention, I have come to you for your forgiveness."

Nolini-da was surprised and said: "Only the Mother can forgive you; nobody else on earth can. Why have you become the embodiment of falsehood?"

He said: "I do not know. But I am praying to the Mother to give me an iota of sincerity. As you know, my life and sincerity are two perfect strangers; therefore I am an object of ridicule."

Nolini-da said to him: "The Mother has definitely forgiven you. But try to make Her happy by being constantly sincere to Her and to yourself. When you try to deceive Her, which you can never do, you deliberately go millions of miles away from Her Compassion. Afterwards, it is you who suffer, and it is you who make the Mother suffer for your unthinkable insincerity. I tell you, as you have made yourself the embodiment of falsehood, the Mother will be able to make you the embodiment of truth, if you only give Her a chance."

29 November

Nolini-da said to me: "How did Lily's X-ray go? Did the doctors find anything?"

"No. They said there was nothing. It was all unnecessary worry."

"What shall we do with the doctors? On the one hand we need them badly; on the other hand they help us dig our grave long before it is time."

5 December

Amrita-da said to me "From now on, Chinmoy, you have to go to the State Bank and the United Commercial Bank every day with the cheques since I have become old and Kalipada is extremely busy."

I expressed a little bit of hesitation. He said: "There is no cause for hesitation. I know you will be able to do it well."

6 December

I said to Nolini-da: "I would be extremely happy if you would write something on Vivekananda."

"Chinmoy, I have already told you many times that I do not write either under compulsion or by impulse. Even though the whole world will be dancing during the coming year to commemorate the Vivekananda centennial, I don't like the idea of joining them unless I get the inner inspiration. We always have to keep in front of us our divine ideal and supreme goal.

"Now, do me a favour. Go and bring gargling salt from the dispensary."

I went to the dispensary and brought him gargling salt. He was happy to receive it.

9 December

The first anniversary of Pramila's boarding house. All together there were eight students. They came to Nolini-da, who greeted them with a broad smile. "So, it is your first anniversary!" he said.

"Yes, it is," said Pramila.

"Then you are all one-year-old babies. And I tell you, if you eternally remain babies before the Mother, you will make the fastest progress."

In silence they all offered their deepest gratitude to Nolini-da for his blessingful advice.

21 December

Laljibhai handed a large envelope to Amrita-da for the Mother.

"Ah, it is a fine envelope. So big!" said Amrita-da.

"Since it is for the Mother, it must be sent properly," said Laljibhai.

"When it comes back from the Mother, it will be kept sacredly."

"Ah, Amrita-ji, you have become a poet. I said properly, and you said sacredly. It is a good rhyme. It seems that you have become a poet overnight."

"So you see how bright my future is! Unfortunately, nobody cares to know the poetic genius in me."

22 December

"Chinmoy, I have something for you to do. Go to Sahana and tell her that when they sing idam shrestham…, in that particular sloka they are making a mistake. I shall point out the mistake. You go to Sahana with my correction."

When I came back from Sahana-di, Nolini-da gave me a big orange and said: "Here is your reward. Now you have to do something else. Go and tell Hriday (my eldest brother) that I wish to have the eighth ashtaka of the commentary on the Rig-Veda by Sayana. I need it badly. I tell you, there are very few people in the Ashram who study the Vedas. Hriday's interest in the Vedas is considerable."

That afternoon when I gave him the book, he said to Rajen-da, who happened to be there: "With this book from Hriday, my collection of the Rig-Veda is complete." Then he said to me: "This morning I gave you a reward. Now I wish to give you a beautiful picture which shows the natural beauty of Japan. I am sure it will inspire you."

24 December

Anima-di made a fair copy of a certain article written by Nolini-da. He highly appreciated her Bengali handwriting.

29 December

"Chinmoy, Nirmala has been bothering me for the last few weeks. She wants me to give her my shoe measurements. I told her that right now I don't need any more shoes. If I had any more shoes, I think I could open up a shoe store. But you know Nirmala. When she wants something, she will not be satisfied until she gets it. So bring a piece of paper and let me place my foot on it. Then take the exact measurements of my foot. I believe size eight will fit me, but I may be wrong. But once you have taken the measurements, I am sure it will fit me. Now you can go and give it to Nirmala and tell her that at long last I have fulfilled her desire."

31 December

"Go and tell X that I would be happy if she could come to see me when she is free. I have something important to tell her."

I said, "Can I not ask her to come immediately?"

"Oh no. She is too sensitive. She is angry with the Mother. That is why she has not come to see the Mother even on last darshan day. I am very tired; otherwise, I would have gone to see her personally."

"Yes, she is great, but to us you are greater than the greatest with your compassionate love and concern for us."

He gave me a smile and said, "Stop, stop! Go and tell her that if she does not find it too inconvenient, then I would be glad and grateful if she could come and see me."

Part III — 1963

1 January

Sumantra's mother came with Munnu's little sister and said: " Bonne année" to Nolini-da. Nolini-da was extremely pleased with the child's French pronunciation. Himangshu Niyogi touched Nolini-da's feet and made his most respectful pranam. The poet Sundaram came with a Gujarati lady and offered something to Nolini-da. Dinesh came and made his pranam to Nolini-da. Rajen-da came with some beautiful flowers, which Nolini-da asked me to take upstairs.

Udar came with Lilu and gave twenty-five copies of the new diary to Amrita-da. Amrita-da said: "Udar, please don't cover Lilu. I want to appreciate her sari. She looks so beautiful today."

Udar moved aside saying: "Look, Amrita-da, look and appreciate Lilu's beauty."

In the afternoon Sisir-da came and said: "Nolini-da, please give me ten New Year's calendars."

Nolini-da said: "Ten! Sisir, I can't give you ten."

"But I need them."

"Then tell me the names of the people you need them for."

Sisir-da started giving the names. When he mentioned Sisir Ghose of Shantiniketan I said: "He is in Missouri in America."

Sisir-da said: "That I know. He will be back in March. On his return he will definitely expect one from me." He then mentioned a few more names.

Nolini-da said: "Enough enough, and handed ten calendars to Sisir-da with a smile.

Then Sisir-da said: "Please give me ten copies of the New Year's message which you have translated into Bengali. I wish to send them to some of my acquaintances in Calcutta."

"What will they do with that?"

"Why? I am sure they will appreciate God's Hour."

Nolini-da said: "Do you think that outsiders believe in what we say and do here? Sometimes it seems to me they don't believe in our spiritual activities at all."

2 January

"This evening I shall read in my room. Nowadays the incense that you are burning in my room has a very good fragrance. Do you have any idea how long each incense stick lasts?"

"I have no idea, since I sit outside," I said.

"By the way, invite Nitya Gupta."

"Shall I invite his wife as well?" I asked.

"Of course, of course," he said. In the evening, after a few people had gathered, Nolini-da said, "Has everybody arrived?"

Somebody said: "Sujata has not yet come."

Amrita-da said: "From now on we shall take attendance. People must give a good excuse if they don't come or if they come late." All burst into laughter.

"The other day I read out to you 'Hymns to the Darkness'. Today I shall read out 'Hymns to the Light'. Then I shall read out an English translation of Rama Prasad's Bengali poems and the English translations of modern Bengali poets."

12 January

Robibala's wedding. Robibala and her bridegroom came to pay their respects to Nolini-da. Nolini-da said: "I wish you all the good things of the world. Both of you are the Mother's children. Be happy, be dynamic and be true to Her."

Then they came to Amrita-da. Amrita-da said to them: "Ah, you are happy, I am happy, everybody is happy. Do you know why? In case you do not know, I shall tell you: two have become one, which is very unusual."

13 January

Nolini-da's birthday. Early in the morning, at four-thirty a.m., I came to Nolini-da to offer my pranam. He blessed me and said: "I am offering you my blessings." I was very surprised and delighted to hear this, for he never uses the term 'blessing' when he outwardly or inwardly blesses someone with his silent gaze. "You can start carrying flowers upstairs," he said.

"It is not yet five."

"So what? You can start now."

I immediately took quite a few beautiful flowers upstairs. Then I began meditating in the Meditation Hall. Around five o'clock Prahllad came in and said to Nolini-da: "Nolini-da, bonne fête."

Nolini-da said to him: "Merci, merci."

Prahllad said: "How much your age?"

Nolini-da said: "Ninety!"

Prahllad said: "Good."

Nolini-da said: "Very good."

Around six o'clock I went to give Nolini-da a book containing a poem I had written for his birthday, which had been translated into twelve languages. Norman-da came in to congratulate Nolini-da on his birthday. Nolini-da said to Norman-da: "You see what he has done for me?"

"Yes, I see it. It is very beautiful."

"In twelve languages!"

"In ancient times kings used to get things like this from their subjects and admirers. The people used to try their best to pay homage to the king in as many languages as possible."

"So today I am a king."

Both of them exchanged delightful smiles. While leaving the room, Norman-da said: "I should say it is wonderful."

Around eight o'clock Rajen-da came in. Nolini-da showed the book to Rajen-da, who said: "I don't want to see it all alone. I wish to bring some of my classmates (Nolini-da's French students)." Nolini-da's French students came in and expressed great joy when they saw the book.

Nolini-da said to them: "Now I wish to feed you. I have some special sweets for all of you."

Anima-di immediately said: "Let me get them for you to distribute."

"No, I want Ranju to do it. Ranju, where is your mother? Go and call her. It is she who should distribute the sweets." Ranju-da went out to get his mother. Nolini-da said to his students: "Stand in a line."

Prahlad and Bholonath, who were not his students, also stood in the line. Rajen-da said to them: "What are you doing here? Since when have you two become students?"

But Nolini-da said to Rajen-da: "Rajen, let them stay in the line. They are my eternal students."

The photographer Vidya Brata came in to take pictures. He took two pictures of Nolini-da and then Nolini-da said: "Now I wish to have a picture with Amrita. Chinmoy, go and call him."

I called Amrita-da, who immediately came. When Amrita-da and Nolini-da stood side-by-side, Indu-di (Nolini-da's wife), standing at the door of Bula-da, said: "Look, look! Ram and Laksman being photographed together!"

Amrita-da immediately said: "True, we are Rama and Laksmana, but Laksmana has to deserve Rama."

Indu-di said: "You do deserve Ram."

Nolini-da gave a broad smile. Amrita-da immediately left for his Tamil class.

Indu-di had a strong desire to have her picture taken with Nolini-da. I pleaded with Nolini-da to let himself be photographed with Indu-di and he agreed. I then went into Amrita-da's room to work. Indu-di came in and said: "Chinmoy, what are you doing here? Your Dada wants you to be in a picture with him."

Sushila came to greet Nolini-da. Nolini-da said: "Sushila, join us, join us."

Sushila said to me: "Chinmoy, don't be so serious. You will ruin the picture. Don't be so serious! Smile!"

The photographer immediately echoed her. Before the photograph was taken, Nirmala-di and Anima-di came in. Nolini-da asked them also to join.

Nolini-da said to us: "This morning I received a blessingful message from the Mother. It says: 'Victory of the Truth'. I wish to say, 'Victory of the Mother'."

That evening Manoj read out the English original of my poem on Nolini-da in the playground.

January 13: Birthday of Nolini Kanta Gupta

Slowly Nolini petal on petal grows
    At the Feet of his Master Divine.
On him the Fount of moon-gold Vision flows;
    Through aeons its splendours shall shine.

He spreads in hush the Mother's nectar Light.
    In secret through the days
He bears the tears and smiles of our yearning's flight
    To the Mother's earth-humble Grace.

With the crescent souls a child of lucid thrill —
    They barter with his heart their bliss.
He lulls to sleep his mind's volcano-will
    In his eyes' unchanging peace.

Expunged is Ignorance-dream from his Ideal vast.
    Through the pen he bares his Soul.
He reaps the golden fruit of his tireless past;
    Now within grasp his Goal!

14 January

Nolini-da said: "Manoj read out your poem extremely well. His English pronunciation is excellent."

17 January

"Chinmoy, can you go and bring my new sandals from Govinda Raj? I think they are ready."

I went to Govinda Raj's shop, but the sandals were not ready. However, it was not his fault; his workers had unnecessarily delayed. Of course, they didn't know they were Nolini-da's sandals; otherwise, they would have done them as soon as possible. When I brought his sandals, Nolini-da complimented Govinda Raj's work.

26 January

"Chinmoy, can you go to the dispensary and bring me some gargling salt? I have used up what I had."

I brought gargling salt for him from the dispensary. He said to me: "Gargling does help my throat, but is does not cure it."

27 January

"Chinmoy, on my birthday Pradyut came and took a few pictures. You can go and get them from him."

I went to Pradyut-da's house and told him that Nolini-da wanted to have his photographs. Pradyut-da said: "The Mother liked them so much that She kept them for Herself. Please tell Nolini-da that today I am leaving for Calcutta. On my return I shall make another set for him."

When Nolini-da heard that his pictures were with the Mother he said: "I am glad that Pradyut knows who comes first and who is the only real in us."

7 February

Ranju-da's birthday. Sannyal-da (Dr. Sannyal) came in and said: "Bonne fête" to Ranju-da. Indu-di invited him to come to her place to celebrate Ranju-da's birthday. Sannyal-da said: "I shall come on one condition."

"What is the condition?"

"The outer cloak is big but the inner vessel is small. I am ready to come only if you give me very little to eat."

Both mother and son were terribly amused and delighted. Then Indu-di said: "Your desire is granted."

8 February

Amrita-da said to Kalipada-da: "Please keep aside four thousand rupees for Baburam's father."

Kalipada-da said: "Why? I don't think he will come on his own to take the money back. Pradyut has borrowed this money from him for the Ashram. He must return it to him. Whenever the Mother is in financial difficulty, Mehra (Baburam's father) helps Her. Who else would do this? He never thinks of himself or of his big family. He only thinks of the Mother and his spiritual family, the Ashram."

Around one o'clock Amrita-da took Kameshwar with him in a car and went to Baburam's place to return the money.

[I offer my most sincere gratitude to my Baburam for meeting with the expenses of my ticket from Madras to New York.]

17 February

After returning from his French class, Nolini-da relaxed on his cot and said to me: "I now have to examine you in something. Can you give me the address of Suhasini Bhaumik? I have no idea where I have put her address. She has just written me a letter and I wish to reply to her."

I searched for the address and found it mixed with the papers of an article he was writing.

In the afternoon a little boy named Mana came to Nolini-da with his mother. Nolini-da said to Mana: "Mana, is this the first time you have come to the Ashram?"

Mana said: "No, this is the second time."

Nolini-da said: "Ah, then you and I are old friends."

24 February

In the afternoon at around three o'clock I was typing in the flower-room. My friend Prahllad came in and started telling me all about his grievances against some of the dining room workers. Suddenly Nolini-da came in, surprising and frightening both of us. Nolini-da said to me: "Can you ask Sisir to come and listen to Anirvan's tape on Sri Aurobindo's Savitri? I shall hear it at my place. You can also invite a few more literary-minded individuals."

I invited Sisir-da. On the way I met Jugal-da, Parichand-da and Satinath-da. I invited them also to come at five o'clock to listen to Anirvan's tape. About fifteen lovers of literature came and Nolini-da played the tape. Nolini-da's comment: "I enjoyed it especially towards the end. I enjoyed it deeply."

26 February

I was working in his bedroom when Nolini-da, having finished his French class, came and sat on his bed in a relaxed way. "Look at the great achievement of your Chittagong," he said, showing me a brochure. They had a special celebration in honour of the Mother's birthday, 21 February. "This is all Mohini's doing (Mohini Naha). I am glad that she has not forgotten the Mother totally."

In the afternoon Nirmala-di said to me: "Nolini-da has received a letter from Roma. In the letter she mentions that she very much enjoyed your play on Sri Aurobindo: The Descent of the Blue."

Nolini-da added: "In the last issue of the Mother India it was not Chinmoy's play on Sri Aurobindo, but Chinmoy's play on me!"

27 February

A certain Mukherjee came to Nolini-da and said: "Nolini-da, Poddar is asking me to go out and give a few talks on Sri Aurobindo. What will the Mother think of it?"

Nolini-da said: "Why do you involve the Mother in this matter? If you feel it proper from within, then go. If not, remain in the Ashram peacefully."

Mukherjee said: "But I am staying in the Ashram. I cannot do anything without the Mother's permission or approval."

Nolini-da said: "Indeed, indeed, but I am afraid I don't appreciate that kind of sentiment. To have real devotion and love for the Mother is one thing, but to show this devotion and love to others is a totally different matter. Usually the Mother does not give an opinion when people want to go out and talk about Sri Aurobindo and the Mother. You make your own decision."

Mukherjee said: "In that case, I shall think it over."

In ten minutes' time he came back and said to Nolini-da: "I have weighed the pros and cons and I have come to the conclusion that Bengal needs my service. So I am going."

Nolini-da said: "That's fine. I am glad that you are not involving the Mother in this matter."

28 February

"Chinmoy, you wanted to have a special blessing from the Mother for your American friend Samie. Here is a blessing card for him from the Mother. So, you have an American friend, a good friend, too!"

5 March

In the evening at his place Nolini-da read out something on Sahana and then a story from the Rig-Veda about Indra's absence during a special jagna. He said: "The Mother told me that during the creation, the asuras came into the picture first; then the divine Grace came in to protect the world."

15 March

"Chinmoy, my mosquito net is torn in various places. Will you take it to Albert so he can mend it?"

I took it to Albert-da immediately. Albert himself fixed it, though he had many workers under him. Such was his love for Nolini-da.

On my return, Nolini-da said to me: "One thing is done. Now something more: the laces of my shoes are all torn. Can you get me some new ones?"

I went to Harpagon and got a pair of laces from Panu-da. When I came back Nolini-da lovingly said: "Your running speed and working speed are two great rivals." In silence, I offered him my inmost gratitude.

26 March

Baba-ji came to Nolini-da and asked: "Dada, please tell me if the married women should always wear the Mother's locket or just when they feel pure enough?"

Nolini-da said: "Only if they wear the Mother's locket will they get the opportunity and inspiration to remain pure. So I feel they should always wear the Mother's locket."

9 April

For some special reason Nirmala-di wanted to be photographed with Nolini-da. So she asked me to bring my photographer-friend Gopal. Gopal came about three-thirty in the afternoon to take pictures. Robi-da was taking his usual refreshment in Nolini-da's room. Nolini-da asked me to call Robi-da to be in the picture. Robi-da was exceedingly delighted that he was able to be in the photograph with his father. Gopal took two pictures of Nolini-da, Nirmala-di, Robi-da and me together. Afterwards, Nolini-da said to Nirmala-di: "So, Nirmala, I have fulfilled your demands, as I always do."

10 April

In the morning Nolini-da said to Rajen-da: "Rajen, how do you feel today?"

"Fine," said Rajen-da, "I am feeling much better today."

Nolini-da said: "We always give all importance to the soul, but not to the body. Only when the body revolts do we pay attention to it and give it some respect. But our body's contribution to our life of aspiration always deserves special gratitude."

14 April

Amrita-da said to me: "Chinmoy, I understand that Nolini has said much about me in his class. I am quite eager to know from your lips whether this is true."

"I am so sorry, I did not go to his class," I said.

"Why?" asked Amrita.

"I wanted to, but he didn't give me permission."

"That means he thinks that you know French well."

"No, it is the other way around, as far as I can tell. His students know French far better than I do and I would only create unnecessary trouble for him. That is why he does not want me to attend his French class."

"I am sure you have taken the divine attitude and are not upset at all."

"Of course, Amrita-da, I know that Nolini-da always knows what is best for me." I told Amrita-da that I would get firsthand information from a most reliable student and bring him the news about what Nolini-da had said about him.

"Chinmoy, whether I deserve it or not is one thing, but still I am eager to know it."

15 April

Nolini-da said to me: "Go and call Bishwabani."

I called Bishwabani, who was working at the Samadhi. Nolini-da very compassionately asked her to sit on the chair which was usually used by Ranju-da. Then he gave her a letter to read and went upstairs. Bishwabani read the letter and started crying most pitifully. I went to Amrita-da immediately and asked him what to do. "Shall I call a few girls her own age to console her?"

Amrita-da said: "That will not help much. Let us invoke the Mother's love for Bishwabani. It is Her love alone that will console her. Human consolation is useless. It is getting late. Go to the bank with the bankbooks."

19 April

"In the playground today, as you all know, I shall read out to you about my athletics. It is in Bengali. I hope to give you the English version next time, but that is all. You cannot expect me to read it in other languages as well. For example, I can't present the Chinese version, which can only be appreciated by my Chinese friend Hushu." The audience burst into roaring laughter.

Everybody greatly enjoyed his talk on athletics. On the way back he said to Yogananda-da: "I hope you enjoyed my article."

Yogananda-da said: "Of course. Not only did I enjoy it, but I also learned a great deal!"

Nolini-da said to me: "Chinmoy, I am sure you too liked it."

I said to him: "In my case, I not only like all your writings without exception, but I also learn much from your writings. Each article of yours is like a new illumining dawn to me. How I wish that everything you have written about relaxation could be translated into as many languages as possible!"

Nolini-da said: "Ah, I see. That is your headache, since that is your project. Then he added: "I wish to translate a few portions of this article and read them out loud to the Mother."

Both Yogananda-da and I said: "It is an excellent idea. We feel the Mother will deeply appreciate it."

2 May

"Chinmoy, go to Nolini Sarkar and tell him to give you the synopsis of Dada Thakur. We are going to watch that movie tonight."

I went to Nolini Sarkar for the synopsis. He said that he had already given it to Ranju-da. On the way to the Ashram post office I met Ranju-da and told him that Nolini-da wanted the synopsis. He happened to have it in his hand, so he gave it to me and I gave it to Nolini-da. Nolini-da started reading it and noticed that there were many words missing.

Nolini-da said to me: "Chinmoy, everybody thinks that I have a free access to the intuitive world."

I said: "I subscribe to their view wholeheartedly."

"You are all wrong. Anyway, I am not going to waste my intuitive power, which you all feel I have, in filling up the blanks. Go to Nolini Sarkar and tell him that he can use his own intuitive power this time, so that I can preserve mine!"

3 May

I was going through the money order coupons while Nolini-da was sitting on his bed reading a magazine. I said to him: "You have an article called 'Kabitwer Ekti Shutra'. What is the English word for 'Shutra'? May I use 'principle'?"

For a minute or two we meditated. Then Nolini-da said: "Yes, you can use 'principle' since I am not getting a better word."

"I have completed your book Madhuchhandar."

"What do you mean?"

"I mean that in the latest issue of the Mother India I completed the translation of your Madhuchhandar Mantramala."

Nolini-da said: "Oh, I see. What is next?"

"I am planning to translate your Vaidic Kathopakathan (Vedic Conversations), which are not yet out in book form."

Nolini-da said "That's fine."

8 May

"Chinmoy, can you go to the press and take these proofs to Amiya? How I wish our proofreaders were more thoroughly dedicated to their job!"

9 May

I was working on the checks in Amrita-da's room when Nolini-da came in. "Chinmoy, there is an urgent express letter from the Mother. Go immediately to Abhay Singh. Tell him that Mona can accompany Bhai up to Madras in Abhay Singh's car." I was about to go to Abhay Singh's when Amrita-da said to me: "Chinmoy, where are you going? Bhai is going to Germany. Where are you going?"

Rose-di, who was also in the room, immediately said: "Chinmoy will go deep within."

Nolini-da said: "That is what all our young boys and girls must do."

Amrita-da said: "In that case, I have passed my examination. I am no longer young. I have already gone deep within and am trying hard to come out. But something or someone is preventing me from coming out."

Everyone laughed and laughed, including Nolini-da. I immediately left for Abhay Singh's.

10 May

Amrita-da said to me: "Chinmoy, today you must type the birthday list for the Mother. She wanted it yesterday."

I said to Amrita-da: "Yesterday Champaklal-ji gave me two special messages to type for the Mother which he said were urgent."

"Chinmoy, don't involve me in your problems with Champaklal. I tell you, mine is much more important than his."

"Amrita-da, to be very frank with you, I have not yet had the opportunity of experiencing your anger, while I have had personal and impersonal, direct and indirect, experiences of our Champaklal-ji's divine outbursts. Therefore, I leave aside everything else whenever he asks me to do something for the Mother. True, I have experienced Champaklal-ji's divine outbursts, but I have also been inundated a good many times with his divine affection, love and concern."

"Chinmoy, you are not only right but also clever. You are a poet, but I can easily see that you could have become a good lawyer, too."

Around four o'clock I gave Amrita-da the birthday list, typed as neatly as possible. He said to me: "Chinmoy, yesterday you satisfied the Mother in Champaklal, today you are satisfying the Mother in me."

12 May

"Chinmoy, here is a telegram for our Pagla (mad) Sudhir-da." (Sudhir Sarkar, who was Nolini-da's lifelong intimate friend, was all love and admiration for his Nolini.)

I took the telegram to Sudhir-da. As he read it, tears of joy flowed from his eyes. He embraced me and showed me the telegram: "Arrived safely. Pray for Mother's blessings, Bhai."

13 May

"Chinmoy, do you know what is happening?"

"No; I do not. Will you tell me?"

"X. Kamani has bolted her door from inside. She left a note outside her door saying that she will open the door only after she has realised Sri Aurobindo. Dinesh feels that she left the note yesterday morning. Since then she has not come out of her room. I spoke to the Mother about her. The Mother has asked me to inform Dinesh to break open the door with the help of some strong boys, so go and ask Mona to do what is necessary."

At this moment Dinesh came running to Nolini-da and said: "X. Kamani has come out of her room, declaring that she has totally realised Sri Aurobindo."

Amrita-da was passing by. He overheard Dinesh's report to Nolini-da and immediately said: "So, she has totally realised Sri Aurobindo. Not only totally, but also unmistakably, I must add! Dinesh, make a list of all the mad people in the Ashram and submit it to me."

Dinesh said: "Amrita-da, it is so easy. I shall head the list."

"No, I don't think you can transcend X. Kamani. You don't deserve to be the first. However, you can take second place!"

17 May

"Chinmoy, do you know where Kanu Priya works?"

"Yes, I know. He works at 'Honesty'."

"Do you think he could go through some of my Bengali proofs?"

I said: "Certainly he could. Please let me take the proofs to him."

Nolini-da said: "Actually, I need more than one person."

"In that case I can go through some of the proofs."

"But do you have time for that? You have so many other things to do."

"Nothing can be more important than your work," I said.

"In that case, you see the proofs of the new edition of Banglar Pran and let Kanu Priya see Ma."

18 May

Early in the morning, Kanu Priya-da and I both returned the proofs. Nolini-da went through a few pages and said: "Both of you have done a good job." I conveyed Nolini-da's comment to Kanu Priya-da at noon in the dining hall. He was very happy.

24 May

Ranju-da asked his father what the Mother had thought of Sudhir Ghosh's presentation of Sri Aurobindo's books to President Kennedy. Nolini-da said: "The Mother was very pleased."

26 May

Early in the morning I submitted my essay on Nolini-da's athletics. A few hours later he said to me: “Chinmoy, it is extremely good. Since you have extolled me to the skies, I shall not be able to read it out at my place. So I shall ask you to read it out tomorrow.”

I was very happy to hear that.

27 May

I read out Nolini-da's athletics (Nolini's athletics).

Nolini's athletics

The utility of games and sports, especially in the spiritual life, has been brought home to us by the Divine Mother herself: 'By setting a personal example'… Had she herself not played table tennis and tennis, had she not given us direct encouragement by her presence day after day for hours on end during our sports season; had she not given each of us her smiling appreciation on every occasion, our athletic activities would not have attained the standard they now have. Seeing her take part in physical activities, elderly sadhaks like Nolini, Amrita, Pavitra, Purani, Anilbaran, the late Naren Das Gupta, Nolini Kanta Sen and others more or less of their age joined the marching exercises. Behind our girls' enthusiasm for sports and games and behind their equality with the boys in some items, even their superiority in certain events, there lies the Mother's particular concern for physical perfection.

There is no lack of foolish argument against sports in our country: "When did our ancient Yogis and saints take part in sports? If they had no such need, why should the Yogis of today have the need?" But the ancients were never without sports and amusements. The Rishi Jamadagni practised archery. It is recorded that one day he was shooting arrows and his wife, Renuka Devi, was helping him by bringing them back. The burning sun fatigued her so much that the Rishi fitted his arrow to the bow to hit the sun. Frightened, the sun-god came down. Appearing before the Rishi, he said that according to the divine dispensation his function was to give heat and light to the earth, but to save the lady from discomfort he would present her with a pair of sandals and an umbrella. It is said that since then the umbrella and shoes have been in use.

Not only did the women help their husbands and relatives in such sports; when necessary, they fought side by side with the men. When Queen Vishpala, wife of King Khela, lost her thigh on the battlefield, the twin divine physicians Aswinikumaras gave her an iron thigh at the request of the king's priest, Agastya. Was this the beginning of "artificial limbs"?

Even among the gods there was provision for happy competition. Surya, daughter of Surya, was to select the most successful competitor for her husband. The rule of the competition was that whoever reached the sun-world first would win her hand. The Aswinikumaras won the race and the prize.

Our beloved Captain, Manoj (himself a champion in athletics, an ace student of his time and an adept in histrionics, now a Professor at the Sri Aurobindo International Centre of Education), has most impressively dwelt at length on Physical Education in Ancient India in the April issue of our Bulletin of Physical Education.

We now come to Nolini's athletics. The difference between an ordinary athlete and Nolini is that he takes athletics as part of Sri Aurobindo's Integral Yoga. Even after stepping into his seventieth year he has made striking progress. This has been possible by his earnest personal effort and by the Grace of the Mother. He has proved that the main enemy of athletics is not age but lack of the sense of youthfulness.

In 1955, at the age of sixty-six, despite the fact that he had practised the long jump all year, he was disqualified in all three competitive jumps before the Mother. The three rounds of laughter from the spectators vanished in the air because Nolini remained the same unperturbed figure that he always is. But he knew how such defeats affect younger nerves.

"Can an ever-happy being even in a distracted moment sense the feeling of the afflicted?

How can one who has never been bitten by a venomous snake feel its tearing pain?"

Here in the test of merit the bite is frustration. Here the Yogi has to pay the highest price of his Karmayoga (Yoga in Action): sama jaya parajayo (equal in victory and defeat).

Just two years later, in his sixty-eighth year, Nolini won first place in the long jump and thus reminded us of the great words of Sri Aurobindo in Savitri:

"His failure is not failure whom God leads."

"Man can accept his fate; he can refuse."

If he could jump from the last possible point, then he could easily exceed his 1957 record of 3m 85cm, not by several inches but by two feet or more. For others of his age that would be an unimaginable feat.

Nervousness, though undesirable, is natural to us in the hour of competition. The goddess of sleep keeps her benign face away from us for even a week before that hour. It is a little difficult for sadhaks like us to admit that our nervousness is caused by the weakness of our vital being. Much to our surprise, Nolini has given us no chance to see him with the jitters.

Our Amrita became a member of the Blue Group. Marching exercises he did — unexpectedly, unbelievably, quite contrary to his nature. He left the Group a few years later. However, despite being swept up in a whirlwind of work, he would be present on the sportsground on the days of "his" Nolini's athletic competition. One can easily predict that wherever Nolini is present, Amrita is sure to be there also. Laksmana knew, and so do we, that he had no equal when he stood by Rama; Rama, too, felt in the depths of his heart:

Dese dese kalatrani dese dese ca bandhavah
Tattu desam no pasyami yatra bhrata sahodarah.

(Wives and friends can be found everywhere,
But at no place a brother of my own.)

On January 13, 1962, Nolini's birthday, an inmate of the Ashram wanted to know from Amrita if his relations with Nolini were friendly or brotherly. Amrita was silent for a while, taken aback. Then he said: "Is he my friend? You people may think so. But I always look upon him as my own elder brother." Two flowers on one stalk: such joint lives dedicated to the Mother are an example to all the Ashram.

Now for an anecdote which sounds like but is not a cock-and-bull story.

One day Abinash Bhattacharya, a fellow prisoner of our Sudhir (Captain Mona's father) in the Andamans, was witnessing the marching exercises in the Ashram playground. The sight of Nolini running upset the gentleman. He said to Sudhir: "Sudhir, stop Nolini from running. God knows when he may create a scene by falling. Is he not aware that he has long since passed his youth? I tremble at the sight of him."

"Dada," said Sudhir, "have you seen Nolini participating in the running and jumping competition?"

"Competition! At his age? If I were not an eyewitness here, I would not believe it. Of course, everything is possible for a Yogi. If I were asked to jump, I would jump over to the next world in a single bound, though I might pass the rest of my life in bed with broken limbs. Sudhir, you are laughing, but my heart skips a beat for Nolini."

Though it may sound unbelievable, in 1954, at the age of 65, Nolini breasted the tape in the 100 metre sprint with his best time of 14.9 seconds. He could easily have bettered it by one second had he been able to maintain his speed from start to finish. Alas, the last twenty metres of the race did not fully surrender to his flying feet. Of course, ninety out of a hundred suffer this fate. But never was Nolini compelled to cover the final twenty metres with the speed of a slow cycle race as did the Pakistani sprinter, of course unwillingly, in the World Olympics held in London in 1948.

In 1954 Nolini came off not only first in the 100 metre sprint but also third in the 200 metre. His time for the latter race was 32.4 seconds. But one year later the athlete Nolini rose to his best time (31.6) in the 200m sprint.

A striking event: In 1958 while practising 200m he fell after having run 40m and was hurt in two or three places. He stood up and said to his co-runner: "Who but I should fall? I could not summon the full concentration that I should have had before the start." Here is the difference between Nolini and ourselves. In such a case we blame our fate, whereas he who believes in self-effort blames his personal lapse. In a few seconds Gangaram, our genial athletic coach (himself a matchless athlete in his time), ran up to the spot and gave Nolini first aid.

In 1955 Nolini took part in the most arduous of all the races, which demands both speed and stamina: 400m. His time: 1.20.6. To compete in a 400m race at the age of 66 is surprising — not only for an Indian, but for any athlete in the world.

Another surprise: Two years earlier he had chosen the most exacting and difficult of all the jumping events — Hop, Step and Jump. In this he won third place, beating his fellow-competitors of less than half his age.

A sample of Nolini's timings in the 100m sprint:

1955 — 15.2 s 1956 — 15.3 s 1957 — 15.3 s 1958 — 15.4 s 1959 — 15.4 s

To keep up the same standard with negligible variation for five years successively, especially in a 100m sprint, is unimaginable.

Here in the Ashram all work is part of our sadhana. To look upon success and failure with a steady eye is our first essential. Victory or defeat made no difference to Nolini, with his burning and lasting enthusiasm.

We have observed that indifference to the results cannot make for the perfection of anything. To have enthusiasm for an action whose results are of no concern to the doer is a very difficult matter.

"Thou hast a right to action, but only to action, never to its fruits."

On May 29, 1953, it is doubtful if Hillary and Tenzing could have scaled Everest and planted the banner of victory on its summit had they literally followed this principle of the Gita.

In 1955 two elderly sadhaks of the Ashram participating in the athletics competition took to the track to show their worth to the Mother. They entertained no thought of victory or defeat, honour or dishonour. They had never been seen in field practice. They presented themselves on the fixed day at the fixed hour and at the fixed place for an 80m race. The group ahead of them ran off. Now it was their turn. They took their positions with some difficulty without the help of starting blocks. The stentorian orders of Pranab (Director of Physical Education) went forth one after another: "Get on your marks," "Set," "Go." Strangely, there was no sign of a start. Those nearby asked: "Why the delay?"

Turning to his co-runner, one of the two said: "Let us start then."

"You go first."

"How can I? You are on my right. We have to run abreast."

During the everyday marching exercises they had heard Pranab say: "Keep in line by dressing right." How could it be otherwise here? At last, at the impatient shouts of the spectators, they got to the position of "attention." Then their race began, based on the principle of niskama-karma. The two reached the finishing line together, neither preceding the other. If one slowed down a bit, the other adjusted his speed accordingly, just to keep in line. Thus they came up to the Mother. This is how our niskama-karma is abused at times, reduced to a lifeless and ridiculous rule. But in every action of Nolini's one can see the full measure of his zest and enthusiasm. His interest, earnestness and enthusiasm in sports do not end with himself: he shared his feelings with all.

Nolini participated also in the hammer throw and shotput after regular and systematic practice. His coach in the hammer was his beloved Rajen, ever young, ever zealous and ever friendly to all sportsmen. Disregarding pain here and there in his body, Nolini carried on his daily practice in these two items without a break. Thoughtless fellows like us might read in this activity an ambition to win a high place. But the fact was that he was quite against pampering the pain by keeping to bed and persuading himself that he was helpless. His aim was to ignore pain and reject it altogether from his body. Indeed, herein lies the secret of a true sportsman.

There can be no shadow of a doubt that Nolini could have excelled in athletics in his school days as he did in football, had athletics been introduced in Bengal at that time.

While the author of Swapani (Robi Gupta) was a student at Nilphamari H.E. School in Rangpur District, one day his playmates were deeply admiring his skill in football before their games teacher, Sri Amulya Banerjee. With a smile he said: "You have not seen his father (Nolini Kanta) play. Had you seen him…"

In 1945, the late Monsieur Benjamin introduced our rising football player, Robi Gupta, to the patron President of Cercle Sportif Ground at the end of a football match. His immediate comment was: " Mais il ne joue pas comme son pere" ("But he does not play like his father").

Our Austin so liked Nolini's article on Football that he sent a copy of it, along with Nolini's autographed photo, to his Canadian friends, well-known football players.

Nolini was not only a brilliant sportsman but also an athlete of the mind. At the age of only thirteen he passed the matriculation with a scholarship. Because of his tender age his father had misgivings. But his uncle was well aware of the sharpness of his intelligence and memory. Hence he encouraged him to sit for the examination. And the result was success attained with a scholarship.

Relaxation in athletics

What Nolini has written on relaxation in athletics is not only the result of scientific research but also a deep spiritual truth regarding the body, mind and life based on the realisation of the Yogins. We use the word "relaxation" in athletics as one counts the beads of a rosary. But most of us do not know the real signification of it. Indeed, we can derive much benefit from Nolini's personal experience. This calls to mind the famous novelist Saratchandra's words to Dilip Kumar Roy: "Do you know our difficulty? Our readers are so lazy that they would refuse to go to Heaven if it meant toiling up the stairs and if a little somersault would land them in Hell."

Relay race

In our Ashram athletic competition it was the relay race that used to give the athletes an automatic élan. Competitors of all ages, from children to old men and women, would take part in this event. Tagore's immortal utterance, "There is a race about being the first to offer one's life," cannot be applied here. Here what holds is: "Who can outrun whom and win the first place?" Our former groups C and D were like East Bengal and Mohan Bagan, engaged in terrible rivalry. And their supporters also gave themselves over to wild excitement.

In 1954, Baburam and three other children of Group A outran Nolini's team and Baburam was beside himself with joy. A youth questioned him: "By outdoing old people you become so happy?"

"No, no," came the prompt reply from Baburam. "We are happy just because we were able to defeat the Secretary of the Ashram. Can you dare defeat him in anything?" The poor questioner could not find his tongue.

It was through sports that Nolini could so intimately mix with children. Even now he keeps up that capacity. There is an affinity of soft feeling between Nolini's heart and the children's.

Here is one unforgettable incident: On the first of March, 1961, at about 3 p.m., Nolini was standing in front of the room where incense sticks are lighted for us at Sri Aurobindo's Samadhi. A child named Gopal who enjoyed his affection happened to be there. He asked Nolini: "Such a big line, one is going behind the other to the Mother for her blessing. What do you call it in French?"

"Queue," came the answer from Nolini with a gentle smile.

"No, it's wrong. My teacher Jayanti-bhai told me something else."

"All right. Ask Jayanti-bhai about the French word for 'line' and tell me tomorrow," said Nolini, patting Gopal on the back.

"No, why should I tell you?"

"I shall learn it from you."

"Then I am ready to ask Jayanti-bhai and let you know the word tomorrow."

One day Gopal will grow old. By that time most probably Nolini's French poems will be brought out in book form and Gopal as well as the rest of us will have the opportunity to read those valuable works. One day he will hear the great French savant Sylvan Levi's high appreciation of Nolini's command of French. Gopal may one day study Plato and Aristotle. Plato's comment on Aristotle was: "My academy consists of two parts — the body of my students and the brain of Aristotle." Perhaps Gopal will then find no difficulty in pointing out the Aristotle of the Sri Aurobindo Ashram. Perhaps also he will know the Matthew Arnold of Bengal in our Ashram, the author of Adhuniki, one among the first hundred Bengali books, and Tagore's comment on its rival sister Sahityika: "Nolini Kanta Gupta's contribution to Bengali literature is unique." According to Barindra Kumar Ghosh, "Nolini is the intellectual son ( manas-putra ) of Sri Aurobindo."

Let us end this account of Nolini's athletic career on a symbolic link with his spiritual career.

Nolini beginning his sprint and finishing the race can be seen in a composite photograph which makes him start at the Mother's feet and arrive at Sri Aurobindo's — an illustration of his Master's advice: "Accept the Mother. She will bring you to me."

27 May [continued]

Nolini-da said: "But you forgot to mention about my best time for 200 metres: 31.6 seconds."

I said: "I am so sorry. I shall insert it."

I was glad that Amrita-da was present. Although I had asked him twice to come, he told me he was not feeling well that day.

After the meeting was over I was meditating in the Meditation Hall. Amrita-da called me and I went to him. He placed his hands around my shoulders and pressed very hard, saying: "Chinmoy, I am blessing you, I am blessing you," with tremendous affection and love.

19 June

Nolini-da gave me a written note for Chiman-bhai and asked me to bring back a few pictures from him. When I gave him the note, without reading it Chiman tore it to pieces and said: "Chinmoy, do you think I am such a rascal that I shall not believe you? And for whom do you want the pictures? For Nolini-da. Is there anything that my heart would not be happy to do for him immediately?"

16 July

"Amal wants to know the gender of methodus. He said he would be extremely grateful if you would consult your Latin dictionary."

Nolini-da immediately opened his Latin dictionary. " Methodus is now a decadent corruption of a Latin word. It is feminine."

18 July

Nolini-da said to Rajen-da: "Sisir (Ghose) speaks extremely well. Yesterday I heard him talk for the first time. He has given a vivid picture of American life."

18 July

"Instead of today, I shall read out my plays on Wednesday. I have to do this because Priti and Tapati have their Italian class tonight. Go and tell them that I have cancelled my talk today. Why don't you learn Italian?"

"I tried German for six months but then I had to stop," I said.


"I found it too difficult to learn."

"Nothing is too difficult unless you have some special problem. You should try to learn several languages."

24 July

Narottam Mhera passed away at seven minutes past ten this morning. Therefore, Nolini-da cancelled his reading that evening at his place.

5 August

"Amrita, I have been to Pranab's place for a medical check-up. Dr. Vyas says that I have improved in every way. Even my chest measurement has increased!"

"That is fine," said Nolini-da. "Wonderful, wonderful!"

"But you know, for a long time I have not been able to increase one thing."

"What is that?"

"My height. No improvement!"

"I know a good cure for it."

"A way to increase my height?"

"Yes. Just raise your heels slowly and secretly, but more secretly than slowly."

8 August

On Kiran's birthday (Mamaji's daughter), the Mother gave a most special blessing to Narottam's family.

Amrita-da held a bunch of ripe bananas in his hand and gave one to Kalipada-da and one to me. Then he said: "In Sri Ramachandra's time there was only one Hanuman. In my time I clearly see that there are two Hanumans."

15 August

Nolini-da said to me: "Chinmoy, go and ask Priti (Manoj's sister) if she and her sisters, her brother and her friends can come tonight to listen to my talk. If all of them can come, I am ready to read out my article."

I went to Priti-di's place and asked her. Priti-di immediately said: "Go and tell Nolini-da that his time is our time. Needless to say, we are all unworthy of his boundless affection and love. All of us will definitely come to his place tonight."

Then Priti-di lovingly reprimanded me. "Chinmoy, it seems to me that you don't have the right pronunciation. You are mispronouncing my name. My name is Priti. Pri is long and ti is short. You are pronouncing both as short. Anyway, I forgive you. Let me tell you about a most significant incident in my life. When I was in my freshman year at college in Bengal, I bought a copy of Nolini-da's Adhuniki and sent it to him for his autograph. Do you know what he wrote? He wrote ' Sneher Pritike pritir sange' (To dear Priti, with love). You simply can't imagine how happy and delighted I was when I received Nolini-da's blessingful affection and love. And then when I saw him here in the Ashram for the first time, he spoke to me with such heavenly affection, love and concern that the experience will always be with me."

19 September

Amrita-da's birthday. I paid my most respectful pranam to him and said: "Amrita-da, I shall always try to please you."

"You can do that easily, Chinmoy. This year I am allowing you and others to touch my feet. But beginning on my next birthday, you will notice a human being without feet. In God's creation, I will be the first human being without parallel."

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