The Inhabitant of Balcony Street
By Anurag Banerjee
Sri Aurobindo and the Mother both were very fond of animals, especially cats and dogs. In Champaklal Speaks, we have read how the Mother used to prepare a pudding of which she would keep aside a small portion in a dish and add milk to it and stir it till it became liquid. Then it was served to the cats. Sri Aurobindo too kept fish ready for them by removing the bones for their convenience. Nolini Kanta Gupta writes in his Reminiscences:
“The style in which these cats were treated was something extraordinary. The arrangements made for their food were quite a festive affair; it was for them alone that special cooking was done, with milk and fish and the appropriate dressings, as if they were children of some royal family.” (p. 78)
The stories of the Mother’s cats Kiki and Bushy are still quite well-known in the Aurobindonian circle. Kiki, who was a special creature, used to meditate. The Mother has also said that Kiki used to go into a trance where it stayed for hours and had visions as well. Difficult to believe, isn’t it? But it is a fact. Often it used to occupy Sri Aurobindo’s chair during the daily meditation and no one could remove it from the chair. Sri Aurobindo never disturbed the cat and sat on the little border place that was vacant. Goldie, the Labrador of Lakshmibai (a sadhika) ran quite freely in the first floor of the Ashram main building (where Sri Aurobindo’s apartments is situated) and entered Sri Aurobindo’s room as well.
Gauri Pinto has recalled in one of her conversations that when her Dalmatian named Beauty gave birth to her pups, the Mother took them to Sri Aurobindo’s room; one of them whom the Mother named Beau kept on gazing at Sri Aurobindo instead of playing like the others. We’ve also read letters of Sri Aurobindo where he speaks about treating Ojas and Tejas (the two oxen of the Ashram) with more kindness and instructing the receiver of the letter not to put ring in their nose or to hit them.
I have also heard from Vasanti Rao about a cat that was quite different from the other cats which lived in the house where Vasanti-di stays. It never stole food or disturbed others for food; if something was offered to it only then did it eat. When the mating time came it showed no interest in it.
From the works of Sri Aurobindo and the Mother we have come to know that even animals have vital beings and psychic elements. Coming back to Kiki once again, the Mother has said that it wanted to be a human being so when it met with an untimely death a portion of its vital being was reincarnated in a human being. The Mother has said about him: “It was a cat doing yoga…to become a human being.”
Coming to my own experience, I had the opportunity to see a dog which was very special and extremely different from the other ones of its species. It was in August 2007 during one of my visits to the Sri Aurobindo Ashram. Whenever I found time I used to sit on the footpath facing the balcony from where the Mother gave Darshan for thirty years. For those who do not know, that street is known as the ‘Balcony Street.’ There was a dog that loitered in the Balcony Street. It was just like any other street dogs and had a yellow skin. Whenever I visited the street, I saw it there. When I sat on the footpath, sometimes it used to come and sit near me and sometimes it just walked in the street.
It was a very quiet creature but at times it used to get violent and would chase some cyclist or pedestrian who passed by and they used to run swiftly to protect themselves. I found it quite interesting when I observed that it never barked at those who were elderly people or ‘real’ sadhaks of the Ashram. Not all but certain local residents and at times some students of the Ashram School were its targets. As soon as those at whom it barked moved out of its sight, it ceased barking and became sober. But at times its anger became limitless and uncontrollable and it went on barking even the departure of its ‘target’. Then sometimes Kumudben admonished it gently and then it became silent. And it received a gentle pat from her. Its silence was noteworthy for I felt as if it knew the purity of the place.
For a number of days I observed its behaviour. One day I told someone who was a student of the Ashram School and is now a resident of Pondicherry about that dog. He told me that even he had noticed its behaviour and he claimed that he knew the reason. One evening, both of us sat at my fixed place. The dog was there as usual moving beneath the balcony. We were observing it. It did not bark at all at everyone who passed by the street. But when a young Tamil boy came on his bicycle, it started barking aloud and began to chase him. That boy who almost fell down cycled fast and fled. After he left it became silent once again.
Then again it began to bark at a young girl who got so frightened that she screamed aloud and ran back towards the direction from where she came. After a while my companion asked me: “Did you understand anything?” I answered in the negative. He said: “This dog gets vibration. When some people pass by this place with certain bad thoughts, like that of sex, etc. it barks at them as it is able to feel and catch their thoughts. But it never barks at the sincere sadhaks and sadhikas because it knows who is a genuine practitioner of the Integral Yoga.” Then he called the dog to him; it came and received loving pats from him and it sat with us for sometime until it found its next target.
Initially I found it difficult to accept whole-heartedly what my companion had said about that dog but afterwards when I observed it minutely I could no longer disbelieve him. And it became a ‘special attraction’ to me. My companion told me later (even I felt so) that the present birth of this dog would be its last as an animal; there is a strong possibility that it would be reborn as a human being.
When I visited Pondicherry this year during the February Darshan, I did not see that dog at the Balcony Street. Some other dogs were there but not my ‘special attraction’. And during the three weeks I spent there not even once did I see it. Its absence pained me to some extent. Who knows whether it is alive or dead! I missed it dearly because I admired it for its receptivity and sensitivity. To me, it was much more sincere than those people (not all but some) who claim to be sadhaks but they do anything but sadhana. They nurture the demands of the lower vital and does not give any effort to bring their psychic being in front. Hypocrisy is something that is absent in animals and perhaps that’s why Sri Aurobindo and the Mother loved them so much.
One of the senior and most dedicated sadhikas of the Ashram had told me once: “The Mother’s presence is so strong that even the sinners can feel it.” By living in the Balcony Street for a considerable period and by living in the vast presence of the Mother, the dog must have had received the touch of the divine gift of realization and revelation. Since the manifestation of the Supermind in 1956 a new world has taken birth and this new world will give rise to the new species. And I strongly feel that it will certainly be among those who will constitute the new species after it takes birth as a human being for its future can be predicted on the basis of the present course of its evolution.
Born on 13 October 1984, Anurag Banerjee is an essayist, biographer, poet and researcher. His first book, Nirodbaran: The Surrealist’s Journey was published in December 2006. He wrote the biography of Dilip Kumar Roy at the age of twenty in 2005 and translated 100 poems of Sri Aurobindo into Bengali at the age of twenty-one in 2006. His published works include Nirodbaran: The Surrealist’s Journey (2006), Achinpather Dibyapathik (2008), and Debotar Shrom (2008). Anurag Banerjee Amal Kiran on the Mind of Light Arjava Aspects of Amal Kiran Attaining immortality Avatarhood Dilip Kumar Roy Krishna Chakravarti Nishtha Pournaprema Prithwi Singh Nahar Sri Aurobindo’s Birth Place Suresh Chandra Chakravorty (Moni) 4:12 PM