Sri Aurobindo as I knew Him. A talk by Nirodbaran (September 1993, AVT 56)
Franz: For me was the September issue 1993 was a very special issue. Nirodbaran was the first speaker from the Ashram who spoke to us and it was the beginning of Auroville's opening up towards the Sri Aurobindo Ashram in Pondicherry .
On 14th August, Nirodbaran, one of Sri Aurobindo's personal attendants for many years, gave a talk in Pitanga Hall in which he shared his memories of Sri Aurobindo.
Your invitation came to me as a mystic surprise – I call it ‘mystic' because I feel that this occasion has been ordained by Sri Aurobindo – and I readily accepted it. It has made me think of Sri Aurobindo very much in the past month, and to pray to him to give me the inspiration so that I can truly convey to you something of what Sri Aurobindo is.
What I observed of his outer life over these years [1938-1950] – for I had no inkling of his inner life – can be divided into two categories; the impersonal and personal aspects… He started revising The Life Divine for hours on end, without referring to any books, like a machine that had been set going. He did not notice us – we were like shadows – and he was completely impervious to his bodily needs or the intense heat. In this way he completed the three volumes of The Life Divine before beginning to work again on Savitri.
This, then, was the impersonal aspect of Sri Aurobindo, which was the hallmark of his being and consciousness. But there were times also when he came down from his high consciousness, and would talk and joke with us; and these, for us, were the most beautiful times. We could ask anything, and he would answer slowly, in a few words, with a very sweet smile. But he would never look at us, and hardly ever call any of us by our name.
His humour encompassed everything. For example, during the war everything was rationed. And we, his attendants, among our other duties had to see that he cleared his bowels daily. One day we noticed he had passed very little. ‘Sir', we said, ‘What is this? Please try harder.' ‘It's war economy!' he replied. He was not one of these stiff, high and dry yogis!
“At the very end his personal aspect was also there. Before he passed away he embraced his great bhakta, Champaklal, three, four, five times in a vast recognition of his service. We were amazed. Then, a few minutes before the end, he called me. ‘Nirod, give me some water.' It was the first time he had called me by my name, and those few, sweet words are imprinted on my soul…..He was always poised, serene, above all attachments, perfectly free. He himself said, ‘There is nothing human in me'. But it wasn't inborn. He told us he had had many faults in his nature, but he had transformed his nature by sheer tapasya, by the practice of yoga, by identification with the Divine. For nobody can become a perfect man by his own efforts.
“So, brothers and sisters, you are indeed very lucky to come to Auroville, to do Sri Aurobindo's and The Mother's work through their Force. There are many wonders in the world today, but Matrimandir and Auroville will surpass all the other wonders because they are spiritual – and you will be the instruments of their creation.” Home > Journals & Media > Journals > Auroville Today > Current issue > The most memorable of the last 20 years