When I was only one year and three months old, my eldest brother, Hriday, left the house and went to join the Sri Aurobindo Ashram in South India. It was a terrible shock to my parents. My brother had just graduated from Chittagong University, and he was thoroughly versed in Indian philosophy. Right from his childhood, Hriday had been spiritually inclined, and he used to pray and meditate all the time. So he disappeared and became a disciple of Sri Aurobindo.
When my parents came to know his whereabouts in two weeks’ time, my mother begged my father to take her to the Sri Aurobindo Ashram. She was convinced she would be able to change her son’s mind and bring him back.
My father was so sad and mad that he refused. He said, “He can desert us. I don’t need him. I don’t want him.”
When my father did not want to go to the Ashram, my mother started fasting. She fasted a day and a half. Then my father’s heart melted. A day and a half was enough; then he agreed.
He brought the whole family to the Ashram. My father used to get free railway passes since he was head inspector of the Assam-Bengal railway line. He would get free passes for eleven in our family plus two servants. On other occasions, people who were not our relatives became our relatives for the ride. Young girls and boys from our village would pass as daughters, sons and cousins. After my father’s death, we went only once to the Ashram, and at that time we had to pay.
In those days, if you were not seven years old, you were not allowed to come to the main building of the Ashram. We stayed in a rented place, and I was not allowed to come to the main building. Every day the Ashram Mother used to come to the balcony and people used to meditate with her. I used to cry a lot, so my cousin Nirmala-di would take me three or four blocks away, making the sacrifice so that my mother could see the Divine Mother.
My mother was overjoyed to see my brother, but my brother was miserable because he knew my mother had come to take him away. The day came for my mother to have an interview with the Divine Mother. My mother was all prepared to beg the Divine Mother to give her eldest son back so that she could take him home. My mother didn’t know English. But luckily one of my sisters who knew English was behind her. With the Mother was her General Secretary.
My mother said in pure Bengali, “I am so grateful to you, Divine Mother, that you have taken responsibility for my eldest son. He is now at your feet. Now I am praying to you to take care of all my children. They are still quite young, but when they grow up, please promise me that you will take full responsibility for all of them, as you have taken my eldest son under your protection and guidance.”
The Mother of the Ashram immediately said, “Yes, they are all mine.”
Look what happened! My mother had gone only to take her son back. Instead of that, she was begging the Divine Mother to take care of the rest of her children when they grew up.
When my sister and mother came back to the house where we were staying, my mother said, “Look what I did! I went to take my eldest son back home. Instead of that, I have offered all my children to the Mother.”
Everybody laughed and was so deeply moved. Even my father was deeply moved that his wife was so devoted to the Mother.
So the heart says one thing; the mind says something else. I always say that the heart will eventually win. The mind came to take the eldest brother away, and what did the heart do? The heart did just the opposite.
And the Divine Mother did keep her promise. Over the next eleven years, all of us went to the Sri Aurobindo Ashram and became permanent members.