Someone from my study and discussion group had directed me to your website for a discussion on Aurobindo’s poem, the Savitri, and I have since then been occasionally visiting your website, every now and then.
About two decades ago, I had the fortune of spending eight months at the Aurobindo Ashrame in Pondicherry. Due to unfavorable climatic conditions, health and personal issues I had to unfortunately return to my native place in France and continue my work first as a translator and later as an assistant editor in a multinational publishing firm from which I have now retired. I now spend most of my free time studying and reading Aurobindo’s and Mother’s writings, which gives me immense satisfaction.
While I am not really interested in the quality or the content of the debate that is going on in your website, I was drawn by and interested in an observation that S (email@example.com) made about the misuse of Mother’s words, particularly to further one’s personal opinions and beliefs.
In that regard it would be appropriate for me to make an additional observation, which I believe would be pertinent and could positively contribute to this discussion.
You see, I have been studying various forms of poetry as well as the Savitri for a long time now, and more recently, have been interested in the Mother’s references on the Savitri that are contained in «l’Agenda de Mère» or as it’s called in english: «The Mother’s Agenda».
I am fully aware of the fact that «The Mother’s Agenda» is regarded as controversial, particularly in the context of discussions related to the Aurobindo Ashrame.
In fact, I also share the view that «The Mother’s Agenda» is best used for the personal discovery of the incredible universe and wealth of knowledge that Mother has personally shared with Satprem. And, while it is a piece of work that I treasure and value, I also recognize that the largely personal dimension and nature of this work and the information it contains should be used with a certain degree of discernment, and I would also say with an even larger amount of discretion.
For example, I am quite familiar with the controversy revolving around the editing of theSavitri, and the use or rather should I say misuse of Mother’s words from «The Mother’s Agenda» that are used to criticize Mr. Nirodbaran and Mr. Amal Kiran in order to try and discredit and find fault with the latest edition of the Savitri that was published in 1993.
I have observed that the critics of Mr. Nirodbaran and Mr. Amal Kiran often attempt to quote the Mother and allege that she had called them «imbéciles» or as has been translated in english: «morons».
With regards to these false and fabricated allegations I would like to make some pertinent observations. I am reproducing here (copied further below) the complete original french version as well as the translated english version of the passages that the critics of Mr. Nirodbaran and Mr. Amal Kiran are attempting to refer to in «The Mother’s Agenda» for the benefit and reference of other readers. I have also noted that a certain Mr. Jitendra Sharma has recently reproduced only selected parts of the conversation, which, out of the real and full context, give a completely misleading, false and wrong impression. Let me please explain:
Firstly, I would like to draw the attention of all readers, particularly those who are not familiar with «The Mother’s Agenda», that when Mother did not want certain information to be recorded, the recording of her conversation with Satprem or others present would be stopped or omitted. Now, with this background, one should pay great attention to the footnotes that accompany the text in «The Mother’s Agenda».
In this particular instance, footnote no. 2 (see copied text below) clearly indicates that «The following paragraph has been omitted from the recording». Interestingly, surprisingly and bizarrely the paragraph that has been omitted from the recording is none else than the notorious paragraph in which the Mother has supposedly referred to two un-named individuals and she has referred to them as «imbéciles» or as has been translated in english: «morons».
The first obvious question that makes this passage rather suspicious, is why is there no recording available of this passage and why has this passage has been included and published in «The Mother’s Agenda» when it was omitted from and is not available in the recording of Mother’s conversation? If it wasn’t supposed to be recorded, why did Satprem publish it? Could it be that Satprem had something personal against these two unnamed individuals and therefore chose to publish some of Mother’s personal remarks to fulfill some of his personal wishes? Satprem is by the way suspected or known to give his personal flavor to specific instances in or references to «The Mother’s Agenda» every once in a while.
Once again, if the following paragraph had been omitted from the recording or if there is no recording of this passage available, did Satprem produce the given text from his memory? Can we therefore really trust Satprem’s memory? And more importantly, can we use Satprem’s own words and say that they are Mother’s words?
Under these suspicious, doubtful and unclear circumstances, therefore, shouldn’t those learned «scholars» such as Mr. Jitendra Sharma, who refer to and use this incident to criticize Mr. Nirodbaran and Mr. Amal Kiran exercise some restraint knowing that Mother did not record or, even if she said it, did not want this passage to be recorded, even if Satprem went ahead and indiscriminately reproduced it in his own words and published it?
The second observation is that Mother allegedly makes reference to two unnamed individuals, one of which could, perhaps be identified as Mr. Amal Kiran, because she allegedly refers to one of them as a «poet». As alleged, supposing Mother was actually referring to Mr. Amal Kiran, Mr. Nirodbaran however is not specifically mentioned or described anywhere. So why do the same learned «scholars» and critics just assume that Mr.Nirodbaran is being referred to by Mother? Once again, shouldn’t those learned «scholars» who refer to and use this incident to criticize Mr. Nirodbaran and Mr. Amal Kiran, exercise some restraint, when no names have been clearly mentioned?
Thirdly, one needs to also pay close attention to the context of this conversation. Once again Mr. Jitendra Sharma, and other similar people, wrongly quote this conversation, out of its real context.
If one reads the conversation carefully, Mother refers to these individuals while describing something that happened during Aurobindo’s life, and not in the year 1963 when the alleged conversation with Satprem took place. The context of this conversation has nothing to do with the editing of the Savitri, which she herself oversaw throughout her life along with Mr. Nirodbaran and Mr. Amal Kiran to come out with the 1950-51, 1954 and 1970 edition. And in this regard, the Mother’s favourable attitude and approach has been clearly recorded in Mr. Amal Kiran’s book Our Light and Delight[p. 23].
Moreover, this specific conversation refers to the understanding of the Savitri’s poetry and how Aurobindo had to take the trouble of explaining his poetry for the sake of most, if not all of those who read it. To quote the rest of the passage in «The Mother’s Agenda»:
«Hence all those Letters on Poetry Sri Aurobindo wrote. I've always refused to read them – I find it outrageous. He was forced to explain a whole "poetic technique" – the very idea! It's just the contrary: it comes down from above, and AFTERWARDS you explain. Like a punch in sawdust: inspiration comes down, and afterwards you explain why it's all arranged as it is – but that just doesn't interest me3! »
Therefore, this passage has very little to do with these two un-named individuals (who are only allegedly mentioned by the way) or the editing of the Savitri and is merely about Mother’s observations on the general understanding, or the lack of it, of the Savitri poetry.Thus, those people and learned «scholars» who use these words of Mother out of its real context to show that she didn’t think highly of Mr. Nirodbaran and Mr. Amal Kiran are merely misusing Mother’s words out of context certainly only to promote their own personal motives or beliefs.
Fourthly, Mother appears to have used the word «imbéciles» to describe these two un-named individuals in «The Mother’s Agenda». As one who has considerable experience in translation from french to english, it would be pertinent to add that in the french language the word «imbéciles» does not necessarily get translated to «morons» in english. In french, the word «imbéciles» is also used in an affectionate manner that is not meant to offend or insult anyone. Just as one sometimes uses the tongue in cheek expression «stupid fellow» in english when one says for example «this stupid fellow is my friend».
Additionally, from my extensive readings of the «The Mother’s Agenda» as well as several of her other publications, I just cannot imagine that Mother would have meant to insult or injure some of her disciples and followers. Therefore, I would also be rather suspicious of the translation to «morons» as has been carried out in the translated english version of «The Mother’s Agenda», which is frequently and deliberately misused by the critics of Mr. Nirodbaran and Mr. Amal Kiran.
And this brings me to my last and final point.
Under all of the circumstances indicated above, none of us can be absolutely sure what Mother said, meant and whom she referred to, if at all she really uttered those words when she called some un-named individuals «imbéciles» as indicated in «The Mother’s Agenda».
But I would like to ask, if Mother really said so, is this really such an important issue? Does this incident overshadow all the rest that Mother has said and done, particularly with regards to the specific instance of Mr. Nirodbaran and Mr. Amal Kiran? Mr. Nirodbaran spent about FOUR DECADES alongside Mother. During this entire time, did Mother show any sign of disrespect to Nirodbaran? Didn’t she work with him and Mr, Amal Kiran to publish all of theeditions (1950-51, 1954, 1970) of the Savitri that got published during her life? If Mother really thought that Mr. Nirodbaran and Mr. Amal Kiran were «morons», why did she let them do the work of editing of all the editions of the Savitri that were published during her life?
What is equally striking in all this affair is the fact that in the entire 13 volumes (!) of «The Mother’s Agenda», consisting of thousands of pages and hundreds of thousands of words, Mother has allegedly and only oncevaguely commented on two un-named individuals in relation to a specific discussion on the understanding of the Savitri. Nowhere else in «The Mother’s Agenda» or elsewhere is it known or recorded that Mother referred to two unnamed individuals who could be remotely identified as Mr. Amal Kiran and Mr. Nirodbaran. And on the other hand, Mother has worked closely with Mr. Nirodbaran as well as Mr. Amal Kiran not only on the Savitri but in other areas as well and there is nothing to suggest that Mother ever disrespected, insulted or treated them harshly, particularly Mr. Nirodbaran.
Therefore, is this one, single, alleged, indirect and doubtful reference to Mr. Nirodbaran and Mr. Amal Kiran sufficient to annul four decades of work that they did alongside Mother and with her approval? Isn’t there a bizarre, biased and completely illogical and contradictory reasoning behind the critics of Mr. Nirodbaran and Mr. Amal?
So what are the real bases and the real merits that the critics of Mr. Nirodbaran and Mr. Amal Kiran really have, if it’s not driven by some of their own personal motives or beliefs?
«The Mother’s Agenda» is a treasure of great, valuable and unique information that cannot be found anywhere else in this world. I therefore do not understand why some people behave like scavengers, or some inferior animals, and go digging around, looking for «filth» to feed on, such as some personal remark allegedly made by Mother, so that they can use it disparagingly against the people that they do not like and to promote their personal opinion or beliefs.
Isn’t the misuse of Mother’s words a shameful and wasteful use of her precious words, and a complete betrayal of what she worked for and her «raison d’être»?
Nevertheless, those learned « scholars» and their admirers who wish to criticize Mr. Nirodbaran and Mr. Amal Kiran, hold on to this vague, doubtful and alleged reference to «imbéciles» and «morons» as if it were a sacrosanct and universal Truth, and a label that Mother forever stamped on Mr. Nirodbaran and Mr. Amal Kiran, which these two individuals had to carry with them for as long as their critics lived.
Such a deliberate, perverse and malicious intention to selectively pick out, twist and misuse one dubtful word out of the vast multitude of Mother’s words in order to malign Mr. Nirodbaran and Mr. Amal Kiran is not only shameful and unethical, but goes to show how low some people are willing to go to try and position themselves above other people.
It therefore clearly goes to show that those who adopt such cheap methods, also demonstrate the real level of their consciousness, even though the same people may go around lecturing about their enlightenment and pretend to be realized souls. And it of course makes it worse when such people belong to or are associated to the Aurobindo Ashrame and pretend to be serving and defending the work of the Divine.
At the service of Light and Truth,
Françoise de Nielly
Passage from «l’Agenda de Mère» in french (13 mars 1963):
Eh bien, c'est un beau choix! C'est ça, sûrement.
Quand il se réveille de là, il a la vision de la Mère universelle et il reçoit la mission. Tout ça, c'est très bon, c'est une bonne indication2. C'est passionnant,Savitri!
Je crois que c'est son Message – tout le reste, ce sont des préparations, maisSavitri, c'est le Message. Malheureusement, il y a deux imbéciles ici qui se sont amusés à vouloir le corriger – de son vivant! (surtout A, qui est un poète). C'est pour cela que Sri Aurobindo a écrit toutes ces Lettres sur la poésie. Je n'ai jamais voulu lire ça – ça m'outrage. Il a fallu qu'il explique tout un «principe poétique» – qu'est-ce que ça a à voir! C'est le contraire: ça descend d'en haut, et puis, APRÈS, on explique. C'est comme le coup de poing dans la sciure de bois: l'inspiration descend, et après, alors, on explique que tout est arrangé comme ça – ça ne m'intéresse pas du tout3!
Alors tu es venu (tu vois, c'est la réponse) pour manifester (c'est très bien, j'aime beaucoup cette réponse), manifester the bliss above [la béatitude nouvelle]. Tu as compris?... Il dépasse tout ce qui a essayé de s'unir au Suprême, parce que rien de tout ça ne lui suffisait – il avait l'aspiration à quelque chose de plus. Alors, tout ça, c'est annulé, il est entré dans un Néant, et, de là, il est sorti avec la capacité de s'unir à la Béatitude nouvelle. C'est ça,
1. Voir traduction en addendum.
2. Le paragraphe suivant a été omis de l'enregistrement.
3. L'enregistrement reprend ci-après.
Passage from «The Mother’s Agenda» in english (March 13, 1963):
Well, this is certainly a beautiful choice!
That's it, there's no doubt.
When he wakes up from that state, he has a vision of the universal Mother, and receives his mission.
This is very good, a very good indication2.
It's captivating, Savitri!
I believe it's his Message – all the rest is preparation, while
Savitri is the Message. Unfortunately, there were two morons here who fancied correcting him – while he was alive! (A. especially, he's a poet.) Hence all those Letters on Poetry Sri Aurobindo wrote. I've always refused to read them – I find it outrageous. He was forced to explain a whole "poetic technique" – the very idea! It's just the contrary: it comes down from above, and AFTERWARDS you explain. Like a punch in sawdust: inspiration comes down, and afterwards you explain why it's all arranged as it is – but that just doesn't interest me3!
So you came (you see, it's the answer) to manifest (it's very good, I like this answer very much), to manifest the bliss above. You understand? He goes beyond all past attempts to unite with the Supreme, because none of them satisfies him – he aspires for something more. So when everything is annulled, he enters a Nothingness, then comes out of it with the capacity to unite with the new Bliss.
That's it, it's good!
1. See translation in appendix.
2. The following paragraph has been omitted from the recording.