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Richard, Paul

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Paul Antoine Richard, (21.06.1874, Marsillargues — 1967), the second husband of Mirra Alfassa (the Mother). The Mother believed him an Asura’s incarnation — Asura of Lie. She liked to convert him but afterwards decided that it is impossible. A man with a high intellect. He insisted on acknowledgement him as Avatar by the Mother. Her denials were accompanied by violent scenes.

After finishing school, he enlisted in the army, and in October 1892 was sent to North Africa, where he served for four years.

Returning to his homeland in 1897, he settled in Montauban (in the South-West of France), where he took up the study of theology. He preached in Montauban for two years, and in 1900 published a book-length “metaphysical essay”, Le corps du Christ après sa resurrection. Later in 1900 he became a member of the Reformed Church of France in Lille (in the North-East of France, near the Belgian border). Around this time he married Wilhelmine van Oostveen, a young lady of Amsterdam.

Richard received his law degree from the Académie de Lille in July 1908. Mirrra Alfassa also studied Law at the Académie de Lille. Before long Richard became a barrister at the Paris Court of Appeals.

The Mother recollected: “He was a pastor at Lille, in France, for perhaps ten years; he was quite a practicing Christian, but he dropped it all as soon as he began to study occultism. He had first specialized in theological philosophy in order to pass the pastoral examinations, studying all the modem philosophy of Europe (he had a rather remarkable metaphysical brain). Then I met him in connection with Théon and the Cosmic Review, and I led him into occult knowledge. Afterwards, there were all sorts of uninteresting stories.... He became a lawyer during the early period of our relationship and I learned Law along with him – I could even have passed the exam! Then the divorce stories began: he divorced his wife; they had three children and he wanted to keep them, but to do so he had to be legally married, so he asked me to marry him – and I said yes. I have always been totally indifferent to these things. Anyway, when I met him I knew who he was and I decided to convert him – the whole story revolves around that.”

André, who was aged thirteen then, remembers: “They [Paul and Mirra] came to live at rue du Val de Grace and I used to go and have lunch with them every Sunday. After lunch, specially when the weather was bad, we went to the studio, Paul Richard stretched on a couch, lit his pipe, and they started working. That is, my mother wrote in her own handwriting what he dictated. I could not help but notice that Mother was rectifying most of Paul’s dictation. This small house, at the back of a garden, or more precisely of a fairly large courtyard, with a few trees, stretching in front of a big apartment house, was strikingly cosy and very comfortable.”

The Mother recollected: “As a matter of fact, the books he wrote (especially the first one, The Living Ether) were based on my knowledge; he put my knowledge into French – and beautiful French, I must say! I would tell him my experiences and he would write them down. Later he wrote The Gods (it was incomplete, one-sided). Then he became a lawyer and entered politics (he was a first-class orator and fired his audiences with enthusiasm) and was sent to Pondicherry to help a certain candidate who couldn’t manage his election campaign single-handed. And since Richard was interested in occultism and spirituality, he took this opportunity to seek a “Master,” a yogi. When he arrived, instead of involving himself in politics, the first thing he did was announce, “I am seeking a yogi.” Someone said to him, “You’re incredibly lucky! The yogi has just arrived.” It was Sri Aurobindo, who was told, “There’s a Frenchman asking to see you....” Sri Aurobindo wasn’t particularly pleased but he found the coincidence rather interesting and received him.”

In February 1910 Richard joined the Ligue de Défense et de Propagande Républicaine Radicale et Radicale-Socialiste. In April 1910 he visited Pondicherry to help Paul Bluysen in his attempt to be elected to the French Chamber.

On 5.05.1911 Richard married Mirra in Paris.

In March 1914 Richard, accompanied by Mirra, came again to Pondicherry, himself seeking election to the Chamber. Richards remained in Pondicherry until 22 February 1915. During this period Richard was director and one of the editors of Arya. The Mother recollected: “Frankly, it was a relief for Sri Aurobindo when we left; he even wrote to someone or other (but in a totally superficial way) that Richard’s departure was a great relief for him.”

Richards arrived in Paris on 18 March 1915; on 29 March 1915 at Lunel Paul Richard was summoned as a reservist. After he was freed from military service due to medical reasons, the Richards settled at Marsillargues. Richard continued writing and sending his manuscripts to Sri Aurobindo.

In March 1916, the Richards left for Japan where they arrived on 18th May.

On 24 April 1920 the Richards returned to Pondicherry accompanied by Dorothy Hodgson (Datta). In November 1920, Richard left Pondicherry, and spent the rest of his life in various parts of India, France, and America. The Mother recollected: “It was certainly Sri Aurobindo’s power that made Richard decide to leave. For twelve years I had been Richard’s “guru” (that’s where our relationship stood), but I hadn’t succeeded in converting him, and when we came back here I said, “I’m through with it. I’ve tried and I’ve failed. I’ve failed completely. Ask Sri Aurobindo.” When Sri Aurobindo took him in hand, that was another story.... He couldn’t take it – he left... Right after he left here he spent some time in the Himalayas and became a Sannyasi.”

At 1927 Paul Richard told to Dilip Kumar Roy that he often thought on suicide. He told that never can reconcile himself to his incapability to accept Sri Aurobindo. “Sole man at my life, before whom I bow as before higher being... He and nobody else possesses a key to what world must be, and my tragedy is that my love to self-will compels me left his cohort and choose another alternative, aimless life... life apart from sole man, whose company I prize above everything, all together.”

The Mother recollected: “Then he went to France and from France to England. In England he married again – bigamy! I didn’t care, of course (the less he showed up in my life, the better), but he was in a fix! One day I suddenly received some official letters from a lawyer telling me I had “initiated divorce proceedings against Richard.” it seems I had a lawyer over there! A lawyer I had never asked for, whose name I didn’t know, a lawyer I didn’t even know existed – “my lawyer”! The trial was taking place at Nice, and “I” was accusing Richard of abandoning me without any means of support! (That was nothing new – I had paid all the expenses from the first day we met! But anyway ....) Naturally, he couldn’t plead that he was a bigamist; nor could he have me accuse him of being a bigamist, because it was true! So it seemed he hadn’t been paying my expenses; but then I wasn’t claiming anything from him in the case, no alimony – a little incoherent, all that.... After a few months I was finally informed that I was divorced, which was rather convenient for me as far as the bank was concerned. I had a marriage contract stipulating that our properties were separate; since I was the one with the money (he had nothing), I wanted to be free to do with it as I pleased. But the French were impossible in such matters: the woman was considered the minor party, so even if the money was the wife’s and not the husband’s, she couldn’t withdraw it without his authorization. I don’t know if it’s still like that, but in those days the husband always had to countersign – an annoying situation! I got around this in Japan (the banker there found the rule stupid and told me to ignore it), but the bank here can be a pain in the neck, so it was good to get this cleared up.”

Later he went to the United States of America where he taught as a university professor. On 5 November 1961 the Mother told to Satprem: “He remarried two or three more times. By now (I believe) he is the father of quite a large family, with grandchildren and perhaps great-grandchildren. He lives in America.”

Richard died in the United States in 1967.

He is the author of more than a dozen books. Sri Aurobindo, in his Record of Yoga of 1914, refers to him mostly as “R”.



In English

Richard, Paul

India, the peacemaker; a solution of the Kashmir problem

•   .— Madras: Ganesh, 1951.

Richard, Paul

Messages from the Future

Richard, Paul

New Asia

Richard, Paul

The Challenge of the Future

Richard, Paul

The Dawn over Asia

•   / Translated from French into English by Sri Aurobindo.— Madras: Ganesh and Co., 1920.

Richard, Paul

The Eternal Wisdom

•   / Translated from French into English by Sri Aurobindo.— Madras: Ganesh, 1922

Richard, Paul

The land of the rising sun

•   .— New York : Paradox Publications, 1966.

Richard, Paul

The Wherefore of the Worlds

•   / Translated from French into English by Sri Aurobindo

Richard, Paul

In English

The lord of the nations

•   / Translation revised by Samuel Evans Stokes.— Madras: Ganesh and Co., 1923.- 157 p.

Richard, Paul; Richard, Linda

In English

The Scourge of Christ

•   .— New York: A. A. Knopf, 1929.

Richard, Paul

The Seven Steps to the New Age

Richard, Paul

The twin space of “quasars”

•   .— New York: Paradox Publications, 1966.

Richard, Paul

To India; the message of the Himalayas

•   .— Madras: Ganesh, [1921]

Richard, Paul

In English

To the nations

•   .— New York: J. B. Pond, 1917.

Richard, Paul

In English

Without passport

•   : the life and work of Paul Richard / Translated from French into English by Linda Richard; edited and abridged by Michel P. Richard.— New York: P. Lang, 1987.- 137 p.

In French

Richard, Paul

Le corps du Christ après sa resurrection

•   .— 1900.

Richard, Paul

The Gods

Richard, Paul

The Living Ether

In Russian