Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Arjava’s demise freed the Ashramites from the spell of the myth of becoming immortal

By Anurag Banerjee

As mentioned earlier, both Nirodbaran and Nolini Kanta Gupta had described Arjava as ‘stiff but polite’ and ‘dry as dust’ respectively. They were under the impression that Arjava was bereft of any emotion. And they thought so due to his extremely introvert nature. But it was untrue! He had once told Dilip Kumar:

“Do not think that the English as a race baulk at emotion…Quite the contrary. We are a race with a rich background of profound emotion, the stuff poets are made of. But we are shy. What I mean is that while you, Bengalis, sail exultantly on the crest of your emotion—we, English, don’t like to be caught expressing our feelings too vividly. If you do not understand that, you miss something very important about our inner make-up.”[46] ...

Arjava’s life, though brief, was significant as it showed what Yoga was capable of doing and so was his demise. Many disciples and followers of Sri Aurobindo and the Mother had expected to see their Gurus in a divinized and immortal body and had also expected themselves to become immortal as well. Even senior sadhaks like K. Amrita too were under such an impression. Amal Kiran writes about this notion of attaining immortality:

“He [Amrita] used to be often in my room. Once when he was there we heard the sound of a funeral passing in the street. In a whisper as if conveying a secret, he said: “I have the feeling that this will not happen to me.” I did not raise my eyebrows in the least, for most of us who understood the originality of Sri Aurobindo’s spiritual vision and his reading of the Supermind’s implications could not help the expectation of a radical body change.[69]

Though death did visit the Ashram in 1936 when Dahi Lakshmi, the wife of a Gujarati sadhak named Tulsi passed away which shook a lot of sadhaks, yet the general perception remained the same. On 18 December 1938, Sri Aurobindo was informed by a disciple: “There are people who think that as soon as they have entered the Ashram they have become immortal!” Sri Aurobindo replied: “People think so, because for a long time no death took place in the Ashram. Those who died were either visitors or who had gone back from here.”

But Arjava’s demise freed the Ashramites from the spell of the myth of becoming immortal to a great extent; great extent but not completely because Arjava had died outside the Ashram. It was only when Chandulal, the Ashram engineer left his body in November 1945 in the Ashram that the futility of the myth was totally revealed. But that is a different story. The Mother’s Lasso

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