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Udar Pinto

One of the Mother’s Children

26.4.1907 – 7.12.2001

Udar, one of the Mother’s Children. 26.4.1907 – 7.12.2001 / Edited by Gauri Pinto.– Pondicherry: Sri Aurobindo Udyog Trust, [2007?].– 167 p.



The August Darshan of 1937

Udar’s Name

Some Letters

Harpagon Workshop

Purchasing Department


Night Patrol

Furniture for Sri Aurobindo’s Room

Henri Cartier-Bresson

Sri Aurobindo’s Passing

The Samadhi

The School

Opening of S.A.I.C.E


Exhibition Hall



Tennis Ground

Sports Ground

Swimming Pool


First December

Le Voyage de Monsieur Perrichon

Le Grand Secret

Les Femines Savantes

Le Bourgeois Centilbomme

The Viziers of Bassora


Perseus the Deliverer

The Prince of Edur

Noël – Cristmas




H. E. C. (Honesty Engineers and Contractors)

Handmade Paper Unit


Service Station

Cabinet dentaire

Nursing Home

Tresor Nursing Home

Precast Concrete Works

Watch Repairing Department

Gardens and Farms


Gliding – Interest in Aviation

Solar Energy



Sri Aurobindo Ashram Press

Log Lifting

New Horizon Sugar Mills



Sri Aurobindo’s Action

Youth Camp

Commerce Under Sri Aurobindo’s Guidance

Low Cost Housing

The Drought in Orissa

Envoy to the US



Aravind Eye Hospital



Mother’s New Room

Meditation Gong

Anecdotes of the Mother

The Mother’s Secretary


They were moved by her towards great unknown things,

Faith drew them and the joy to feel themselves hers



This book commemorates the birth centenary of Udar, Laurence Marshal Pinto, who was one of the Mother’s children.

Udar was an aeronautical engineer by education and early training. But he was such a multifaceted personality that the Mother would often involve him in all sorts of work that she want done.

This is the story of Udar and his various tasks, his many interesting incidents and his memories of life with the Mother.

This book is not autobiographical nor dose it fit into the format of a formal biography. it is an interesting collection of facts, stories, incidents and photographs that slowly unfold the story of Udar’s life. These have been culled from various sources and friends.

We hope that the book, presented as a collage of many colours, shapes and materials, does blend into a well-knit narrative that unfolds smoothly and seamlessly. We hope you enjoy it as much as we enjoyed putting it together.

The Editor

The August Darshan of 1937

From 1934 to 1937, though I had been in Pondicherry (now called Puducherry), most of the time and had many friends in the Ashram, I had never entered the Ashram main building or felt like going for a ‘Darshan’. I was just busy making money and having a good time. My friends in the Ashram were first Amal (K. D. Sethna), Purani, Ambu, Dr. Ramchandra and some others.

I finally got married to Mona in February 1937 and then we had several more friends in the Ashram. They suggested that we should go for a Darshan and it was arranged for us to go on August 15th 1937. I n those days those who went for Darshan had their names listed and the time for each person to be present was indicated on it. Our time was just before noon.


We dressed up in our best clothes and went upstairs and were led into the Darshan room and then I received a shock, which I had not at all expected.

It was my first sight of Sri Aurobindo and the words that came into my head were, «I have seen majesty at last!» – This word, ‘majesty’, had attracted me, both for its sound and meaning, and I had often regretted not ever having seen it. I had seen majestic robes and crowns, but no majestic person. Here I saw – no wonderful robes or any crown – just a simple dhoti and chaddar, but such a wonderful figure of Majesty. I was also a bit awed. Then I looked at the Mother and saw there so much sweetness and love that I just went up to Her and put my head into Her lap. Mona did the same.

I may mention here that our entry was specially noted by Sri Aurobindo. I saw that when we entered he looked at the list and asked the Mother about us. She confirmed all this later. We were a fine-looking pair. The Mother even remarked to Datta that she did not know English girls could be so beautiful. She was referring to Mona, of course.

Then, after the Mother had blessed me and caressed my head in Her lap, I took up courage to put my head in His lap and felt His love and sweetness that went with His majesty. Then I put my head between Them and both blessed me together. Such a marvellous experience! I feel I must share the thrill of it with others so I write about it in so much detail.


This was the turning point in his life. Slowly he came closer to the Ashram and more particularly to the Mother.

Golden Chain

Udar’s Name

Then I come to my name. My name was formerly Laurence Marshal Pinto. I asked the Mother for a new name and I received the name of ‘Udar’ from Sri Aurobindo Himself, in His own handwriting, which was given to me by the Mother. There He wrote the name as follows:

Udar – Sanskrit उदार Udara –

Noble, generous, upright and sincere –

Sri Aurobindo
26th April 1938

To Udar with blessings –

Sri Aurobindo
The Mother’s signature



‘Udara’ – the Sanskrit name for a divine quality – Generosity. (Giving and Self-Giving without bargain). The Mother gave this name to the flowers of the Impatiens Balsamina and Sri Aurobindo had given this name to one of his early disciples, Mr. Pinto, who recently passed away. Now, since a few years, we have been sending flowers from Promesse for the Ashram Samadhi and the Master’s room, by the power of Her Grace.

During 5th December till the 9th of December 2001, we programmed a regular flower offering for all the days except the 7th. But, on the 7th of December, my amma brought me a lot of the Generosity flowers. I was a bit upset, as I had not thought of giving flowers to Her that day. But then, Varadhrajan volunteered to take me to the Samadhi and offer the flowers himself. We started for Pondy by 3:00 p.m. Varadhrajan went and offered these with a prayer: «Lord give Udar to all».

As he came out, a well-wisher met us and conveyed to us the news of Udar’s passing away.

We humbly remembered Sri Aurobindo giving him the name; his consecration to the Lord and the Mother’s work; his relation to the Samadhi and his early morning readings of Savitri which many Aurovilians would remember.

Shyamala and Varadhrajan

The story of his life after he came to the Ashram runs parallel to the story of the Ashram’s growth. He was involved in practically every new project. When we started putting his story together we soon realised how difficult it was going to be because he was a man of so many facets that no one knew all of them, not even his family.

Golden Chain

Mother could not have built this world-within-a-world with only poets and artists. She needed people with sound technical knowledge and a head for organisation. The whole edifice stood on columns like Pavitra, Dyuman, Purani, Udar and others, all men of action. They came to Her, through strange twists of Fate, pulled towards Her by an invisible force. Udar and the others had all the skills needed for Her work but above all they had an unshakable devotion to Her.

Golden Chain

Some Letters

Udar 8th Oct 1933

Blessing, Mother

1st January 1946

Prostrate at your feet I beseech you, my beloved Mother, to grant me this my most earnest prayer.

Be with me and of me always and in all things. In work and in play, asleep or awake, be always the sole object of my delight, of my very existence. When I am sad, console me with Thy Divine Presence. Answer my every doubt with Thy Beautiful Smile. Have compassion in my weakness and pardon my numerous mistakes. Take me. Mother, and make of me what you will, a thing of Thine own.

That is my aspiration. Grant me Thy Divine Grace that it may remain before me throughout this year and for all the years to come.


Yes, my dear child, I shall always be with you, in success and in failure, in joy and in sorrow as an eternal and unfailing presence. – with my love and blessings,

The Mother’s signature


31st December 1946
1st January 1947

My beloved Mother,

This last year has been for me, indeed, a year of Grace in which the Promise of Thy «Eternal and unfailing presence» has been amply fulfilled.

For the year that is coming, I beseech Thee, my sweet Mother, to still keep open to me the fountain of Thy Grace that I might continue to find solace and strength in the stream of Thy Love and Compassion.

Please give me your blessings for the year 1947 and obtain for me also, I pray Thee, the benediction of Our Lord.


Indeed last year has given you the opportunity of being drawn much closer to us, and thus in many occasions we could appreciate fully your faithfulness and ability. In this regard we enter with full confidence the New Year which begins to-night.

With our love and blessings

The Mother’s signature




If there is an order of the kind to give, Mother will be glad to do it through you. She sends you her blessings for your work which you are starting tomorrow.

Sri Aurobindo

Harpagon Workshop

Spray-painting at Harpagon workshop, 1947, Udar, Workers

Harpagon office in 1947, Udar, Amulya, Panu

Making Golconde furniture. Carpenters, Amulya, Panu, Udar

The Mother entering Harpagon 26th April 1954 Niranjan, Viswanath, Pranab, Chandrakant, Udar

The Mother opening Harpagon’s new building 26th April 1954. Niranjan, Viswanath, Pranab, Chandrakant, Udar, Pavitra

The origin of the name is in itself interesting. This property, so near to the Ashram, had very little building on it and what was there was old and dilapidated, but Mother wanted it because of its position.-The owner of the property, a very rich person, knew our need and so demanded a very high price and wouldn’t budge from his demand. Finally Mother agreed to pay him his price but said that She would name the property after the owner’s nature and so She called it Harpagon. In French literature ‘Harpagon’ is the name of the chief character in Molière’s play L’Avare (The Miser).

The question of fitting up the asbestos cement louvres for Golconde came up and for that a large number of brass fittings had to be made and thousands of brass bolts, nuts, etc. We needed a foundry, as the blade handles had to be cast to the special shape designed by the architects. Harpagon became the workshop where we manufactured all these accessories for the Golconde.


I had been given some workmen, very good ones indeed, with a traditional competence, who turned their hands well to modern machine parts. The Mother gave me a large heap of old brass vessels which had to be broken down and melted and cast in the foundry and machined. I asked Her for some machines and She turned to Pavitra who was present and he said he could spare a hand drill. That is all the machine I started with. But Pavitra was indeed most helpful as he did all the machining work very, very well indeed in his Atelier in the Ashram main building.


I had to make the bolts and nuts. Mother had given me a strict order that I should not alter a single line or specification fixed by the architects. Now in drawing the bolts I do not think they were conscious of being very accurate in showing the threads and just made a nice drawing. When I counted these threads I found that there were 5 1/2 to the centimetre which is not standard at all. One can have 5 or 6 but 5 1/2 is out. So what to do? Where could I get the taps and dies for this odd thread? And yet I was not to alter the architects’ specification. So I finally decided to make our own taps and dies and this I did—very largely by hand and helped a great deal by Pavitra who had a lathe in his Atelier. I worked about 18 hours a day and did so much work with small files (without handles) that there grew a small hole in the palm of my right hand which is still there. It is my «glorious scar» of the Divine’s work.


So that is how I came to be set up at Harpagon and put up a foundry there. This foundry has now been shifted to the Coco Garden. We made all the Golconde fittings at Harpagon, cast them in the foundry and hand-finished them in the adjacent shed.


Mona and I joined the Ashram in 1937. The Golconde building was being built at the time. So, even before it was finished, Mona and I had been associated with it. I was given the fine work of preparing the furniture.


Then I told the Mother that I would need some money to buy certain tools etc. because when I joined the Ashram I had given all my money to the Mother as most sadhaks had done. She went into Her room and brought out one rupee which She gave me saying with a smile: «Here is the money.» Though I was fairly new at the Ashram, I did not protest and understood at once what a great gift She was giving me, and I took it as a compliment.

It was a challenge and given by The Divine Mother to me who, She felt, could rise to it. Most foreign- trained engineers are desk workers and give orders. I had no desk and no one to give orders to and so had to do most of the work with my own hands – and with one glorious rupee from the Mother as a channel of Her Force into me.


Later when the work for Golconde increased I felt that I needed some machines. Mother agreed but said She could not spare any money for this. All She could give was an allowance of Rs. 200/- per month. How to start a workshop on this small allowance? Nevertheless I did not press for more but accepted what She gave with joyful gratitude. Pavitra kindly gave me one small hand-drill on a stand. All the others machines that were needed I made myself. Later I understood the wonderful gift Mother had given me—the challenge! It is not difficult to set up a nice workshop when one has enough money for it but Rs. 200/- a month is really a glorious challenge and I am so happy now that I took it up, even not understanding it then, and succeeded. It is now a source of perpetual joy of fulfilment.


All sorts of work was done at Harpagon and as the Ashram developed so too its needs increased and with that the activities at Harpagon. Panu was a big asset to Udar. Udar himself had trained him. He too loved challenges. He could work day and night if required and most of the time that was the case. Later on Sati also joined Harpagon.

Udar had already established the smithy, foundry, carpentry, fitter shop, machine shop, stone polishing section – all that was required for Golconde work and also stone repair work that was done before at Pavitra’s Atelier (now Chum’s office) was shifted there. As the residents increased so did the cycles and hence a department for cycle maintenance was added at Harpagon.

With the inauguration of the Playground and Tennis Ground, the shoe- making and tennis racket stringing also were taken up and later gymnastic equipment like parallel bars, uneven bars, horizontal bars, spring boards etc. as well as athletic equipment. So with the starting of the Sports Ground, equipment such as – javelin, discus, hammer, shot put etc. – were manufactured in Harpagon.

As Harpagon grew and they started taking orders from the public for business purposes a Trust was formed ‘Harpagon Workshop Trust’ with Udar as sole Trustee, with all the profits going to the Ashram.


Purchasing Department

As Udar had lived in the outside world and knew how to deal with the world of commerce he was put in charge of the Purchasing Department. Anything that needed to be bought for the Ashram was done through this department so that everything was centralised. Even things that needed to be repaired were brought to him. He was given the work of construction too. Whenever there was anything Mother wanted to get done which was a bit complicated or new, She often called Udar.

Golden Chain

In the mid-fifties, in the Ashram, we had a centralised Purchasing Department. All the departments of the Ashram including Dispensary, Building Service, Electric Service, Furniture Department etc. had to route their purchases through Udar who was in charge of the Purchasing Department. The person in charge of his department would get Mother’s sanction for his requirement and would pass it on to Udar who would order the material and after receiving it pass it on to the person concerned. This also included imported material and equipment. Udar would get the licenses, open a letter of Credit after receiving the Proforma invoices from the firms abroad and when the material arrived in India, arrange for the clearing through Customs, etc. All this and many other things were done from his office with Wilfy and Lilou working with him.


Udar was the strong, solid backbone of various services he provided to the Mother and the sadhaks.


Once a notice was put up in the Ashram that those interested in extra work between 1 p.m. and 2 p.m. could give their names either to Udar or Ravindra. That was normally the resting time, but quite a few names came in. 1 started working in Harpagon. This was a new work. Sheets of plastic or rolls of plastic were bought and I used to make plastic covers for books or for anything whatsoever. This I did for a pretty long time, quite a few years.


Plastic work started with making book covers for the Deluxe edition of ‘The Mother’. This work like some of the others was done at night in the office. It was mainly the same batch that came for athletic groupings. Afterwards it became a regular work in our department.



Golconde, View from the rear – 1948

Golconde construction – 1940 view from the back

Golconde roof construction – August 1940

Antonin Raymond Architect of Golconde

George Nakashima (named Sundarananda by Sri Aurobindo)

George Nakashima (named Sundarananda by Sri Aurobindo)

François (František) and Agnes Sammer

Franticek Sammer Czechoslovakian architect and artist

Golconde workers preparing shuttering for laying concrete

Golconde construction North-East View – 1940

Chandulal Ashram engineer of Golconde

Chandulal Ashram engineer of Golconde

Golconde construction-25th Nov. 1940 Cement vibrator

Golconde construction View from Golconde roof.

View of Goconde from the Ashram terrace – 1948

Golconde construction Back stairs, East view Shanti in front

Golconde construction – 1942

Golconde construction South-East view, June 1942

Golconde, piano top and stairs view of the front garden

Golconde side view with artesian well

Golconde fountain

Mona of Golconde

Umberlla stand in concrete designed and made by Udar

The Golconde team Maniben, Kusum, Lilou, Pushpa, Chandrakant, Gauri, Mona, Mridula, Millie, Wilfy, Udar

Golconde staff in the 1940’s 1st row: gardeners and gardener’s boys. 2nd row: Shivalingam, Mona, Kusum, Kumud, Maniben, Gauri, Lilou, Pushpa, Mridula, Udar. Back row: Maids, gate-keeper

Golconde room with funiture

The Mother at the Japanese exhibition Amyio, Gautam -15th Aug. 1955

The Mother looking at the Japanese garden at the back of Golconde Pavitra, Gautam, Udar

The Mother with the Japanese group 15th Aug. 1955

Maids hand-washing clothes

Golconde tea basement in the 40s Mona, Mridula, Maniben, Kusum, Udar, Beauty

Golconde tea basement Bob, Udar, Sudarshan Nagpal, Eckhard, Mahender

Indira Gandhi visit to Golconde Nov. 1955

Golconde room interior, louvres opened

Golconde room interior, louvres closed

Jawaharlal Nerhu visit to Golconde 18th Jan. 1955

Golconde inside corridor – 1948

Golconde – 1948

Early 40s – View of a street and one of lightning conductors with the Bay of Bengal at the back

In one of the most remote parts of India, one of the most advanced buildings in the world was constructed under the most demanding of circumstances concerning material and craftsmen. This reinforced concrete structure was completed primarily by unskilled volunteers with the most uncertain of supplies, and with virtually every fitting custom-fabricated. Yet this handsome building has a world stature, both architecturally and in its bio-climatic response to a tropical climate 13 degrees North of the equator. It has the reputation of being the most comfortable building in Pondicherry, although it has no mechanical cooling system.

‘Solar World’ Congress, Perth

Golconde needs no introduction. People who understand architecture have widely acclaimed this construction in concrete. The work commenced in October 1937 and it took almost a decade to complete. The final finishing of some parts of the floor was done sometime in the early 1960s. The history of the construction of this building has no analogy with others where a large number of labourers worked under the supervision of engineers and contractors to build a big structure in the shortest possible time. This building however, had on the contrary, a slow growth and almost an organic one, where the individuals working there poured in their love and dedication to build a concrete structure. They were few in number – a handful of labourers working in harmony with a small number of engineers, supervisors from divergent walks of life. Many were sadhaks. This was their way to serve the Mother. All through these years of construction the Mother gave her guidance and help for the physical problems of constructing the building. Simultaneously She sorted out as well, the human problems of the disciples working there. The people and the building developed together.

Chitra S.

The realisation of Golconde was not merely the construction of a beautiful modern building in reinforced concrete for sadhaks, but a vehicle for the spiritual awakening and development of innumerable people who otherwise might not have been touched by the Light for a long time to come.

It was the first practical means of contact and communication of any important size between East and West that the Ashram had. From many points of view Golconde was a milestone in the spiritual growth of the sadhaks and the Ashram. In its way, it too is a temple, joining men and women of all the world irrevocably to the Divine, like a jewel from the original mine that gave it its name.

Agni (Agnes Sammer)
wife & collaborator of Francois Sammer

Our eight months at the Ashram (in 1938) were extremely fruitful and instructive. Not only was the life in this Indian monastery the revelation of another way of life, but the conditions under which the work of the building was done were so remarkable when compared with those we had known in this materially bewildered world, that we lived as in a dream. No time, no money, were stipulated in the contract. There was no contract. Here indeed was an ideal state of existence in which the purpose of all activity was clearly a spiritual one... Time and money were of secondary value. The situation was quite other than the usual one of being pinched between a client and a contractor. Here everything was done to free the architect completely so that he might give himself entirely to his art and science.

Antonin Raymond

My particular task was to design and help construct Golconde, a multi-storey dormitory for the disciples. This was to be the major structure in the Ashram. It was to be one of the first high-strength, reinforced concrete buildings in India. Since the design was to be completely open, the task was to build a straightforward structure that would solve the problems peculiar to this type of architecture in a tropical country. Since ventilation was important, large horizontal louvers were installed. These could be closed during the rains, which at times would come in horizontally. All of our architectural problems had to be solved within the spirit of Sri Aurobindo’s teachings.

Sundarananda Nakashima

Chandulal, who was then the chief engineer, was the most devoted worker of all; his life was dedicated to the service of the Mother. He ate only the Ashram food, slept on a mat and pillow on a bed, dressed always in shorts and Ashram sandals, and had no other hobbies than the Building Service. The Mother had great confidence in him. Yet he had never had any experience with reinforced concrete, or with such a big building as Golconde. His junior engineer, Jatindranath Bal, who came a little later, knew much more in this field.


“Golconde, was something of a ‘do-it-yourself project. I found myself not only the designer, but something of a general contractor,” said George Nakashima, who along with Franticek Sammer had been sent by Antonin Raymond to build Golconde. He worked in close collaboration with Chandulal, the Ashram engineer. It was the first high-strength reinforced concrete building in India.

Normally, in reinforced concrete work where large areas are cast in form work, when the form work is, removed, the faces of the cast areas are plastered over and made level and smooth. But for this work at Golconde, Francois insisted that the surfaces be left as they were, after the form work was removed and only smoothed over with a carborundam stone. In this way, the quality of the work could be seen and so the work had to be done very carefully, there should be no holes, no blank spaces and this was done by having the concrete vibrated at the time of casting. This was quite a new technique to us. The details of the form work could be seen, the joints of the planks, the screw heads and even the grain of the wooden planks. All this was part of the aesthetic detail in the architecture and those who visit Golconde are impressed by it.

The other example was in the use of the wooden planks for the staircase hand-rails. Francois insisted that the planks should be left with all the defects in them, defects which all planks have and which are normally covered over. These small defects add to the beauty of the wood and show its intrinsic value.


Sanjivan recounted later to some of his art students and to a few friends something interesting. He had told them that the Mother had instructed them to choose only the ‘living pebbles’ for the concreting work – and that is what they did.

It required a supreme boldness on the part of the Mother to push through her idea, knowing very well the limited and obscure conditions in which it had to be worked out – through an inexperienced engineer, a handful of assistants with little or no technical training, and a few unskilled labourers who had never even seen a reinforced concrete building, let alone worked on constructing one.


The purpose of the dormitory was not primarily the housing of the disciples: it was the creating of an activity, the materialisation of an idea, by which the disciples might learn, might experience, might develop, through contact with the erection of a fine building... On the job perfect order was maintained. Among the various disciples chosen to work on the building, this one engrossed in the business of testing the soil might have been a retired dentist, that one responsible for the opening and closing the gate – he actually had been a banker – did his job with a conscientiousness impossible to obtain in a world where a man listens for the sound of the five o’clock whistle.

Antonin Raymond

All nails used for the frames for concreting would be straightened, counted and used again. Hundreds of nails were required every day. The store was maintained with scrupulous care, where every nail was counted.

Antonin Raymond

The lines of the building were so beautifully designed, with the roof made of large curved cement-concrete tiles, that the whole is truly a masterpiece of architecture. Mr. Raymond brought with him his team of architects, consisting of George Nakashima, a Japanese, and Franticek (Francois) Sammer, a Czechoslovakian. George Nakashima made the first drawings of Golconde and even made a model of a room. Work was started on 10th October 1937.1 had the very happy opportunity of working with Francois and learning so much from him. He was a perfectionist and, very much in the manner of the Mother, believed in ‘perfection in detail’. The perfection of the work done at Golconde added to the fame of this building.


In every single thing, François insisted on the utmost perfection and to me this was a wonderful training and such a great help in my own sadhana. I informed the Mother about all this and she was very pleased with this way of working.


During the concreting days we had to be on the site more than twelve hours a day. Instead of six months, it took about six years to finish the concreting; it ended somewhere towards the end of 1945. (Meanwhile, by the end of 1942 all the three architects had left, due to the deterioration in the international situation.)


As many sadhaks as possible were pressed into service there; to anyone young or old asking for work, part time, whole time, the Mother’s one cry was: «Go to Golconde, go to Golconde.» It was one of Mother’s daily topics with Sri Aurobindo who was kept informed of the difficulties, troubles innumerable, and at the same time, of the need of his force to surmount them. Particularly when rain threatened to impede or spoil some important part of the work, she would invoke his special help; when for instance, the roof was to be built. How often we heard her praying to Sri Aurobindo: «Lord, there should be no rain now.» Menacing clouds had mustered; strong, stormy west winds blowing ominously; rain imminent; and torrential Pondicherry rain! We would look at the sky and speculate on the result of the fight between the Divine Force and the natural force. The Divine Force would of course win: slowly the Fury would leash her forces and withdraw into the cave. But as soon as the intended object was achieved, a deluge swept down as if in revenge... During the roof construction, work had to go on all night long and the Mother would mobilise and marshal all the available Ashram hands and put them there. With what cheer and ardour our youth jumped into the fray at the call of the Mother, using often Sri Aurobindo’s name to put more love and zeal into the strenuous enterprise...

And that is how this beautiful structure could be realised on the physical plane.

(Twelve Years with Sri Aurobindo)

Udar was closely connected with the Golconde work from the very beginning. The main concreting work of Golconde was over somewhere towards the end of 1945. Still a lot of work for completing the building such as fixing of the louvre blades, the doors, the other fittings, completing the floor etc. were remaining. This work was taken up by Udar and his team of workers. Golconde is built in three parts: East, West and middle portion. Little gaps are left in between these parts which are covered with copper plates. This is to avoid cracks due to heat. Golconde is also earthquake proof and is provided with lightning conductors. As soon as this building was ready, the Mother appointed Mona as the overall in-charge of Golconde. Due to pressure of visitors during the World War 11, this building which was to be a dormitory to house special sadhaks for their sadhana, was obliged to be opened to visitors, even before it was fully completed.


Why the name ‘Golconde’? To set up such a large building required quite a lot of money and, in those days, much money was not available. So the Mother spoke to Sir Akbar Hydari about it, and as he was the Dewan to the Nizam of Hyderabad he was able to get from the Nizam a donation of one lakh of rupees for this building through the Finance Department which was under Raja Shamraj. Today, one lakh does not seem much, but in those days it was indeed quite a large sum, as its buying- power was over twenty times what it is now, especially at Pondicherry where things were remarkably cheap. A ton of cement, good Japanese cement, cost only around Rs. 25/- and steel about Rs. 200/- per ton. Pondicherry was then a free port and there were absolutely no Customs or Import duties or restrictions. And as we had then a good off- loading pier, shipments from Japan could come directly to Pondicherry. Hence with this large sum of money the building work was taken up. Now because the first money came from Hyderabad, the Mother wanted to give a name to the building which had some connection with Hyderabad and so she chose the name Golconde, the French rendering of Golconda, the famous diamond mine in Hyderabad.


In the catalogue, ‘Festival of India’, Golconde is singled out as ‘the finest example of modern functional architecture built in India in the pre-lndependence period.’

Charles Correa
(an outstanding Indian architect)

The floor is a layered limestone found in several places in India. Here in the South it is known as Cuddapah Stone, as it comes from that district. It has been used for ages – but not as we have done in Golconde: highly polished, and with the sides cut by machine to a very straightedge. As the machines to do this were not available here at that time, I had to design and make our own machines at as low a cost as possible. The architects had specified that the floor slabs should be laid ‘butt-jointed’ – as is done with glazed tiles in bathrooms and so on. But for such large slabs, this meant very high-precision edge-cutting, which my machine could not manage. So Sammer, who was the architect in charge, and truly an artist, said that they should be laid with wide joints. This was done, and the result is much more beautiful than a butt-joint would have been.

This is how Mother works. She has often created difficulties so that in overcoming them we arrive at a much truer and more beautiful result.


The Mother asked us to drill an artesian tube-well, and she indicated where it had to be done. When we were drilling this well, generally clay and sand were extracted; but once some black material came up, which was quite intriguing. As I then had free access to Sri Aurobindo, I took a handful of this stuff to show it to him and he asked me what it was. I said that it looked to me like half-formed coal. On hearing this, Sri Aurobindo smiled sweetly and said, «Ah then! You want to pull down Golconde and have a coal mine there?» It was truly wonderful to hear him joke. One would, perhaps, expect such a Mahayogi to be serious, but he was always ready with a joke and a smile. He once said that one could be serious about a few small things, but about the rest, one should always laugh at them. Years later we learnt that this black stuff was lignite and that it stretches over a wide area, stretching well-beyond a hundred kilometers. In fact lignite is mined at Neyveli and is used for power generation.


«... As regards Golconde and its rules – they are not imposed elsewhere – there is a reason for them and they are not imposed for nothing. In Golconde Mother has worked out her own idea through Raymond, Sammer and others. First Mother believes in beauty as a part of spirituality and divine living; Secondly she believes that physical things have the Divine Consciousness underlying them as much as living things; and thirdly that they have an individuality of their own and ought to be properly treated, used in the right way, not misused or improperly handled or hurt or neglected so that they perish soon or lose their full beauty or value;...»

25th February 1945
an excerpt from a letter of Sri Aurobindo

There is a nice story about how the Mother chose Mona to manage Golconde:

Mona was a model housekeeper. Datta (Miss Dorothy Hodgson), a sadhika, once visited her. She was very much impressed by her spotless house. When the Mother was looking for someone to look after Golconde, Datta told her, «I have been to Mona Pinto’s house. She keeps her home spotlessly clean. She may be the one to look after Golconde.»


Golconde, today, a guest house of the Ashram, was not originally intended for that purpose. The Mother wanted a big building to lodge some of her sincere and serious disciples. But circumstances changed that. Golconde turned into a guest house long before it was completed, during the middle of the Second World War when visitors began to pour in and many people wanted to settle in Pondicherry with their families to be under the protection of the Mother and Sri Aurobindo. The Mother reluctantly permitted it, and once started it continued until the building was completed after the war. Then the Mother put Mona in charge, an English lady with a hospitable heart and an excellent organising capacity. The maintenance and orderliness of Golconde under her personal supervision and hard work has gained a great reputation at home and abroad.

Here is an interesting comment by the Mother: «Mona’s birthday is on the eleventh. She was born on the eleventh day of the eleventh month of 1911. Eleven – that is the number of progress... she is someone who truly loves to do things well, and wants to do them well and whatever she does, she does lovingly and very well.»


Each room was provided with a set of furniture of simple beauty made out of Burma teak, with the inside of the cupboard drawers made of red cedar. The furniture was designed by Sammer, one of the architects of Golconde, and was manufactured by Udar.


«In the afternoons after the servants left I remember Mona and myself cleaning the toilet bowls which had yellow marks due to water stagnating. We two would also do gardening when necessary.»


It was a joy to step into the laundry. It was well designed, always neat, clean and well maintained. All the washing was done by hand, and the jobs ere distributed: there were soapers, washers, rinsers. On sloping cement benches the servants sat scrubbing the already soaped clothes. Soaping was done by one worker and supplied to four scrubber, each o them with their own seat and our basins or rinsing- first in hot water in one basin and them three times in cold water.»


I really don’t know how many years it took, but it went on and I had very fine workers. I can’t say I had any kind of genius but everything came from the Mother. I couldn’t do it myself, I know that. I look back and I see that I was not a very great engineer but I tell you, if somebody is asked to solve any big problem and he comes to Mother, you can’t imagine how She can solve problems.


About the tea at Golconde: When we were working there we were so engrossed in our work that we did not even think of taking a tea-break. But the Mother, in Her marvellous sweetness, though She Herself did not drink tea, knew our habits and our preferences, so She asked Mona to see that we got tea at 3:00 p.m. every day. This was the start of the Golconde tea time.


Afternoon teas at Golconde were filled with stories that brought me insights into life with Mother as only Udar could recount them.


When the regular playground groups were formed Mother used to encourage even the ladies to join the group. When I went to ask the Mother if I could join the group, She asked me, «Have you got the time?» I was quite disappointed and told Mother, «Yes, Mother, my work is over by 5 p.m. and the Playground groups start at 5.30 p.m.» Then She told me that I could join the Playground group activities. But by 1958 I had to leave the group as there was so much work the whole day and I was getting tired by the evening. I wrote to the Mother that I would like to leave the group, the Mother said, «Yes, you leave the group and rest in the evening.»


My visit this time for the Darshan of Sri Aurobindo and the Mother has been unforgettably revealing, about things that I was quite unaware of. I am a practical man, dealing with sand, stone, steel and cement all the time; that has almost hardened my life. But here during these few days I discovered a new thing in life. It is not the Divine aloof in the temple, not just Sri Aurobindo in his room, but the Divine in action, making the material plastic and submissive for a new creation. You people are lucky to be tools in the hands of the Mother. I shall come again on a pilgrimage to see the building when it is ready.

A professional engineer

Times were different. Attitudes were different. Means were less but meanings were more. The sadhaks therefore achieved much with very little. Their assets were faith, devotion and persistence or perseverance... They, whether engineer or plain worker, poured not only their sweat but also their heart-felt love into the job. They took great pride and derived greater joy working. They could, after long years, say with the same pride and joy: «I was there.»


All this reminds us that Golconde was conceived as a dormitory for sadhaks – and for sadhaks of an Integral Yoga; forty individuals who would be willing to put reverence for the divine consciousness in matter into the smallest details of their daily life. Clearly, to live amid these surroundings is at once a privilege and an education. Most of us are not yet ready for that; but to all who value beauty and order in daily living, and who sense the consciousness in material things, Golconde remains a lasting inspiration.


The Mother said: «Golconde is not a guest house. It is a dormitory (dortoir) in which those who reside there can meditate and do their sadhana in beautiful surroundings, in very fine rooms and with many of the little daily jobs done for them, to keep them more free for their sadhana... In the old days, the Rishis used to live in the mountains and their disciples lived in caves in these mountains. Golconde is the modern equivalent of the caves for the integral yoga of Sri Aurobindo.»


Night Patrol

On the night of 15 August 1947, when the Ashram was attacked, Kusumben and myself were preparing tea at Golconde to help the volunteers who were guarding the Ashram area and other places at night. The cakes which were prepared for next day’s celebration which could not take place due to this attack and Mulshankar’s murder, were served along with tea that night.


In the evening of August 15th, 1947 when the whole of India was celebrating her Independence, the Ashram was attacked by a violent mob, instigated by a local political party. A disciple, Mulshankar, was fatally stabbed. For a few days after this tragic incident, the Ashram was put on a state of alert. Guidelines were put up on the Ashram Notice Board regarding our code of conduct during those tense times. Always to be calm, never to get excited, to behave in a dignified manner, to remain within the Ashram area and to have a companion while going anywhere; always to be conscious and be specially alert while turning a corner, etc.

Every night male inmates of the Ashram were posted in strategic areas around the Ashram to observe and report on the hostile activities, if any, and to guard the various Departments. Udar and Pranab went patrolling in Millie’s famous Jeep (the old war horse is still giving service in Gloria Land), moving from check-post to check-post.


Furniture for Sri Aurobindo’s Room

Sri Aurobindo’s room was old and rather dilapidated and the Mother decided that it should be redone. So it was done up by all of us, Building Department, Harpagon, Electric and Water Service, Golconde Service, etc. But the furniture was also old and made of boxwood painted green or brown, quite useful at one time but now become shabby. So the Mother suggested to Sri Aurobindo that we make new furniture for Him and He agreed. I was given the wonderful opportunity of designing the furniture and having it made under my direction at Harpagon.


Sri Aurobindo’s Room furniture

Sri Aurobindo’s bed designed and built by Udar

Writing tables to fit Sri Aurobindo’s bed

The sadhaks who were attending on Sri Aurobindo had become so used to the existing furniture that they insisted 1 keep before me the dimensions and conveniences to which they had been accustomed. This demand restricted the design potential and the existing spaces had to be considered such as those between the doors and the windows, niches, etc. This was good as it gave some concrete dimensions on which to base the designs. I had been reading Le Corbusier’s book Modular and had been quite taken up with his ideas based on the Golden Ratio of proportions and so I used the principle in my design so as to be sure of a harmonious blending of the furniture with the room itself. Then with regard to the material, with the Mother’s happy approval, it was decided to have a blend of two of India’s best woods: teak and rosewood.

We had a fairly good supply of very high quality rosewood which I had purchased some time back when someone had offered an old stock for sale. But teakwood we had to buy and, as Pondicherry merchants did not stock such a good quality at that time, I said to the Mother that I would have to get it from Cuddalore, twelve miles away. At that time the Mother had started going out for drives in Her car, with Pavitra (Phillipe Barbier St.-Hilaire) driving. She said with joy that She Herself would go to Cuddalore with me and watch me select the timber. I was thrilled.

We went on to the Cuddalore timber depot and I spent quite some time there selecting the teak logs that I needed. The Mother sat quietly in the car watching me all the time. Then, when my selection was complete and the price, etc. settled, She called me to Her and asked if I had all I needed. I said, «Yes.» Then She pointed to a very large log lying in a far corner, a log of wide girth but not square. I had not chosen that log because of this reason and it was really not what I wanted. But the Mother said that the log had spoken to Her and had pleaded to be taken as it wanted to go to Her. I was again thrilled to hear this and immediately included that log in our selection at a special price. It was so large that I needed two carts to transport it to Pondicherry. I did not cut up the log. But some years later when I was to make furniture for the Mother’s new room on the second floor, I cut up the log as I knew it would be happy to go to Mother.


When the furniture, well polished with wax (not French Polish) was installed, Mother gave me another great privilege – that of looking after, cleaning and polishing the furniture. I was permitted one hour a day for this. This is how I came into daily persona] contact with Sri Aurobindo. Except at the Darshans I had not had personal contact before with Him.

Mother didn’t fix any time, so I chose my own, nobody objected and Sri Aurobindo didn’t object also. Every day I used to go for about an hour or so. And sometimes – not always – he would be dictating Savitri and I would be listening. Of course at that time I had not become so familiar with Savitri myself. Later on I became very much involved with Savitri, but not at that time. It was really very beautiful to hear him dictating; line after line, line after line, from a powerful inspiration; and Nirod was taking it down in long hand. And he would be reading it back to Sri Aurobindo.

Sri Aurobindo did not speak much or often but I heard Him on several subjects. He did not speak to me directly except a few times and the memory of this is very precious. I had, however a great good fortune of being able to make my private pranams to Him on Darshan days and lay my head in His lap and look closely into His eyes. But otherwise, except for being in His immediate presence for an hour each day I did not have close contact with Him.

One day, however, I found Him looking at me very closely and intensely with a love and compassion that surpasses all description. I was alone with Him at the time. I did not know why He was looking at me so, but I was so carried away with the joy and the love He showered on me in His look that I did not bother about the reason for it. It is only later, when comparing notes with others who served Him personally, that I discovered that He was bidding me a physical good-bye. He had done the same to others – each differently and, it seems, each one was puzzled at the time. But when He left us physically soon after that, we guessed the reason.


Henri Cartier-Bresson

When Cartier-Bresson was permitted by Mother to photograph Sri Aurobindo, Udar was the only other person present. Mother asked Udar to go to help him shift the apparatus. Sri Aurobindo sat throughout absolutely immobile, without even once blinking. Mr. Bresson said he had never seen such a model in his life.


From 1926 to 1950 no photographs had been taken of Sri Aurobindo. And in 1950, the year that He left his body – I’ll tell you the Divine play – that famous French photographer, Cartier- Bresson, he came to the Ashram. The Divine arranged it for some reason or the other. He came to the Ashram and he asked Mother to allow him to take photographs. And then Mother called me and told me that She had permitted Henri Cartier-Bresson to take photographs of Sri Aurobindo. The Mother wanted me to help him with the handling of the equipment in the room and to assist him. She said, «Cartier-Bresson is going to take photographs. I am giving him permission. So you look after him. Do whatever he wants you to do.»

He took photographs of the Darshan. Mother had specified that no flash was to be used. At that time we didn’t have such powerful lenses. And he said to Mother, «I regret that our present technology has not advanced so much to take a full beautiful picture in insufficient light. I’ll do the best I can.» And then he went to take pictures of Sri Aurobindo sitting in the chair. It was a wonderful and sweet experience, Sri Aurobindo sitting in the chair and I was by the side of the photographer. And he said, «Turn your head like this, look up, look that side, look this side...» Cartier-Bresson said he had never had a model like this who never moved or even blinked.


Mother was so helpful and She convinced Sri Aurobindo and I came to his bedroom with my camera. The room was so neat and tidy and impersonal. Sri Aurobindo did not blink an eye during the entire ten minutes I was watching him, he did not seem to belong to that impersonal setting.

Henri Cartier-Bresson

...when I had the privilege of seeing Sri Aurobindo, I had the impression that he was beyond time...

Henri Cartier-Bresson

Sri Aurobindo’s Passing

Regarding Sri Aurobindo’s passing we know now that He had decided to leave this physical world because, as Mother explained to us later, it was the only way that the final conquest of Death could be made; Mother said that Sri Aurobindo had told Her that one of them would have to cross the barrier and work from the other side – so that death, the greatest obstacle to the physical transformation, could be finally overcome. Mother offered to be the one to cross over but Sri Aurobindo said to Her that She had the more difficult task to perform and must continue to remain, while He would go across and work from the other side. That is why His presence is constantly felt by all of us.


Because He had taken a decision to leave His body, He chose to do it in a ‘natural’ way and allowed His body to be subjected to an ‘illness’. I suppose that normally such an illness could have been cured by suitable treatment but in His case, the illness did not respond at all to any treatment. Mother had given the doctors full permission to try any medical treatment they wanted and they tried everything. Dr. Sanyal, Dr. Satyabrata and Dr. Nirod were all in attendance and they were constantly trying out different medicines which I had to procure for them at any time of the day or night. This I was able to do with the assistance of a very mysterious person who had come to the Ashram at that time and was staying at Golconde. He called himself Dr. Kaplan – a German. I remember him with gratitude as he was able to get, somewhere, somehow, all that was asked from him.


In spite of all medical treatment, there was no improvement in Sri Aurobindo’s physical condition and it became worse from day to day till He came to a state when oxygen had to be administered. I was asked to arrange for it.

It was not available in Pondicherry and had to be obtained from Cuddalore. At that time, Pondicherry being still a French colony, there was some tension between the Indian Union and the Pondicherry Government. At the frontier, movement was restricted. It was here that Mr. R.K. Tandon helped us so much. He was the Indian Consul General at Pondicherry and was very helpful to us at this difficult time. He sent me to Cuddalore in his own car to get the oxygen equipment. When I brought it, I was shown how to work it also. Hence, when I took it to Sri Aurobindo’s room it was understood that I would be sent for if and when the equipment was needed.

It was about 10:00 on the night of 4th December 1950 that I got a call to go to Sri Aurobindo’s room to work the oxygen equipment. I went at once and so I was present throughout the night, that fateful night when Sri Aurobindo left His physical body, and I was a witness to His last moments on earth.

Mother said that She would retire for the short rest of two hours or so that She used to take each night. She said to Dyuman that She should be called if there was any sudden deterioration in His condition. He continued to be in a comatose state from which, I understand, one does not come out as it precedes the final moment of death.

But at about 1 a.m. Sri Aurobindo suddenly came out of this condition and asked Nirod the time. Nirod told Him the time and gave Him a drink, then He went back into His previous condition, which I then understood to be that of a deep meditation and not a coma which/ I think, is a state of unconsciousness.

Then Dr. Sanyal said that it was better to call the Mother. Dyuman went to Her room and called Her. She came in a few moments and stood again by the side of Sri Aurobindo’s bed. After a while Sri Aurobindo woke up once more and asked Nirod to give him something to drink. Then He sank back. At 1:26 a.m. His breathing ceased. Everyone and everything was completely still and silent. The Mother was like a rock of strength.


At this most grave moment in the history of the world, She stood erect, unmoved, a tower of peace and fortitude. At that moment I saw in Her the fullness of Her Divinity and loved and worshipped Her in my heart to an extent I had never been able to do before.

The Mother then said Sri Aurobindo had lived so long in the Supramental Consciousness «lat it had come down into His body and made it shine with a golden light. But She added ^at one could not be sure how long the light would remain and in case it remained for a long time it was necessary to protect the body against dust and air-borne insects. So She asked me to prepare a large glass covering to go over the whole body in a way which would not disturb it. Immediately a man was sent to Madras to get the necessary large sheets of glass and through Dyuman we arranged for the silver angle strips to join them to form a cover.


In the meantime we thought it would be good if we could keep the room temperature low by arranging large blocks of ice round about with fans to blow over them. We did this without consulting the Mother. As soon as She saw it, She asked us to remove everything at once: She did not want any artificial measure to be taken at all. If the body was to remain without perishing, it would be by His will alone.

Meanwhile the news had spread in the Ashram and as soon as Sri Aurobindo’s body was properly laid out, people began to come in. All the doors were opened and everyone was free to enter. It was the morning of 5th December. We were now constantly going to the Mother for instructions. It was at this time that She told us many important things and particularly about Sri Aurobindo’s decision to cross over.

When the Mother saw that I was protesting so strongly about placing Sri Aurobindo’s body in the Samadhi, She took me by the hand and led me to His body, then asked me if I could still see the golden light that had been there all these days. I had to admit that it had gone. Then the Mother said that it was because Sri Aurobindo Himself had given the sign to Her that it was now time to bury His body. I had to accept this and the burial was fixed for the evening of the 9th.

When the rosewood case was ready, we had the inner sides lined with pure silver sheets and over them a white satin covering was put. Cushions were placed on the bottom of the case.


The Samadhi

Samadhi work in progress 6th Dec. 1950

Carrying Sri Aurobindo’s casket 9th Dec. 1950

Carrying Sri Aurobindo’s casket 9th Dec. 1950

Detail plan of the Samadhi

Laying marble the Samadhi, Viswanath

Laying marble the Samadhi, Viswanath

Taking the Samadhi’s sand – 17th Nov. 1973

Placing the Mother’s casket into the Samadhi 20th Nov. 1973

Mother gave me instructions for the casket which was made of solid wood and lined with silk. Sri Aurobindo was still lying on his bed and there was the most marvellous golden light emanating from his body, and a scent like a celestial perfume. The Mother told me how deep to go into the Samadhi and how to design it.

We built the Samadhi not as a hole in the ground but as a vault with thick concrete walls nine inches thick with cement floors and a cement roof. We went down eight feet and built a four-foot room with cement slabs. Over that the Mother instructed me to build another room also with walls, a floor, and a roof. She told me to fill it with clean river sand and to put a large slab on the top. Thus was the Samadhi built.


Mother wanted Sri Aurobindo’s ‘Samadhi’ to be under the Service Tree in the Ashram courtyard. She gave detailed instructions, saying how deep we should go and that we should construct a waterproof chamber down below with a waterproof cement slab cover and then an air-space with another waterproof cement slab cover. Then earth was to be filled over this till it came above the surface of the ground, and around it the walls of the Samadhi were to be built.

The Mother also told us to prepare a fine case for His body. I got the Harpagon Workshop to start making one in solid thick rosewood with brass straps and brass rings on the side to take the ropes.

We started working from the morning of the 5th. We decided to build the Samadhi ourselves without paid labour. The ground was hard – very hard – and breaking it was quite a job. It was decided that the burial would take place on the evening of the 5th. Discoloration of the body generally sets in within 24 hours, 35 hours is the outside limit. But when it was about time for the burial there was no sign of decomposition at all. In fact, even though life had left the body, it was suffused with a golden light and Sri Aurobindo’s face shone with it.


On the morning of the 9th, Mother decided that the body would be put into the Samadhi already prepared. The body was placed in the casket and covered with a bed sheet but the face was uncovered. The Mother stood over it and concentrated for quite some time in order, as She explained to us afterwards, to free the physical body from the subtle body and other conscious parts of the being that normally continue to stay with a body for several days after death.

Then Mr. R.K. Tandon, the Indian Consul General at Pondicherry, whom I have mentioned earlier, was called in to witness the closing of the casket with the body of Sri Aurobindo inside.


In Savitri, ‘The Book of Death’ is short. When Sri Aurobindo was asked about this he said, «You cannot be expected to write about something you have never consciously experienced.» So he experienced death consciously and will return to complete the Book of Death.

After the Mother passed away, we opened up the top chamber. We took the clean river sand that had been lying over Sri Aurobindo’s tomb from 1950 to 1973 and put it into barrels. We made packets from the sand and gave them out to many people and it helped them in sickness and pain and in times of trouble.


Even though Sri Aurobindo has left His body, His Presence is very real and powerful in the Ashram and even outside it. We have also His assurance to the Mother that He will come back to us in a Supramental Body built in the supramental way. How this will happen we do not know, but He will certainly come and then, along with The Mother, He will lead us to the Glorious age of the Supra- mental Transformation of humanity.


The School

The Ashram school started in 1943 because some disciples brought their young children during the war (WW II) to the Ashram and some education was needed for them. In December 1950, after Sri Aurobindo left His body, the Mother wanted to have a University in His name. So a Convention was held in April 1951 to work out the procedure. This university was later renamed ‘Sri Aurobindo International Centre of Education’. Thus SAICE came into being.

24th April 1951 The Mother at the convention Pavitra, Pranab, Udar

Inauguration Speeches at the Convention – 24th April 1951 Sri Aurobindo International Centre of Education. Surendra Mohan Ghosh, S. Jauhar, Navajata, Shyama prasad Mukherjee, Madhav, Soli Albless, Nolini, Pavitra, Amiyo, Pranab, Udar

Inaugural Message for the Sri Aurobindo Memorial Convention. 24th April 1951

Sir Aurobindo is present in our midst, and with all the power of his creative genius he presides over the formation of the University Centre which for years he considered as one of the best means of preparing the future humanity to receive the supramental light that will transform the elite of today into a new race manifesting upon earth the new light and force and life.

In his name I open today this convention meeting here with the purpose of realising one of his most cherished ideals.

The Mother
(CWM 12.112)

Opening of S.A.I.C.E.

The Mother cutting the ribbon Inauguration of SAICE – 16th Jan. 1952. Front: Counouma, Jotindra, Tara, Laxshman, Udar, Soli. Back: Gauri, Bubu, Jhumur, Nolini sen, Chandubhai

Inauguration of SAICE – 16th Jan. 1952. Front: Counouma, Jotindra, Tara, Laxshman, Udar. Back: Nolini, Gauri, Bubu, Pavitra, Jhumur

Mother at the school – 6th Jan. 1952 Shane, Ajjt, Sisir, Udar, Pavitra

Mother at the school – 6th Jan. 1952 Shane, Ajjt, Sisir, Udar, Pavitra

The Mother on 16th Jan. 1952 in the school

The Mother at the School – 16th Jan. 1952 Pratip, Ajjt, Chitra, Pavitra, Sisir, Udar

Scientific Experiment – Dec. 1971

At Knowledge

Sri Aurobindo has taught us that knowledge exists within us and has only to be awakened. That is the main approach of our whole system of education. The teacher is there not to put knowledge into the students but to help awaken that which is already there in each of them. The teacher is really the guide rather than the instructor. Our present Course of Engineering is envisaged as of six years’ duration after the equivalent of pre-university course... Above all, it must be remembered that the science of engineering deals with material objects and material forces which are not really automata following inexorable laws but which have their own secret consciousness. It is our endeavor to discover these inner mystic recesses and sources of action and by identifying our own consciousness with theirs to serve and be served by them.

(extract from his talk to the students)

There were so many things Udar did that it would make a long list to enumerate them all. He loved to start an activity and when things were established he moved on to other things. But, what is important for us to remember is that he was a teacher too. For a number of years he taught engineering in the School. He was always in touch with the activities of the school since he wrote about all the cultural events, and in general about anything that happened in the Ashram, in the quarterly reports of the Bulletin of the SAICE.

Scientific Experiment – Dec. 1971
Golden Chain


Prime Minister Indra Gandhi visiting the school. Also Udar, Andre

Prime Minister Indra Gandhi visiting the school 12th Dec. 1972

This bringing down of a new consciousness into the world and the awakening of even the consciousness of Matter is one of the high aims of our Yoga. It is the greatest adventure and experiment the human race has ever attempted. Is not this an object worthy of the support and encouragement of all men of vision? Our country has no dearth of such men. The great achievements of our Rishis in the past were possible because of the benign conditions which surrounded them. That inheritance cannot wither and our sacred land will blossom into a new richness and the realisation that Matter and Spirit are not divided but only two poles of the same Reality.


Exhibition Hall

The Mother coming to inaugurate the exhibition of Photography. 15 August 1955

Exhibition Hall. 15 August 1955

A salt godown was bought and transformed into an Exhibition Hall to house the numerous photographic and art exhibitions that were, and still are, put up by members of the Ash ram or visiting artists.


Astronomy – Library terrace

In the early days of the Ashram in the evenings there were no programs or television to watch. I became interested in star gazing. Udar started helping me to know and recognise the stars and the constellations. This activity turned into regular classes. I bought some elementary books and Udar ordered some books with more detailed information in astronomy. Sometimes he used to fix a telescope on the Ashram terrace to study the galaxies. Later the telescope was shifted to the library terrace and everybody could go to see the solar or lunar eclipse whenever there was one.



How involved he was with the physical education can be understood when we know that it was his idea to get the very first batch of gymnastic apparatus, such as the parallel bars, vaulting box, pommelled horse and uneven bars from England. Subsequently Udar manufactured these apparatus here itself in the Harpagon workshop.

Golden Chain

Shooting the Ball

Arranging for the 1st Dec. 1948 Udar, Chandrakant

Udar in the Playground – 1950 He Measures, Announces, Calls out Title given by the mother for the Bulletin – Nov. 1950

Ashram Cricket Team at the Pondicherry Military ground – early 50s

2nd Dec. 1950 – March past

March past

Udar announcing results

The Mother watching the children’s programme

March past – 24th April 1953

Prize Distribution – 1st May 1953

The Mother Opening Ambu’s Asanas Room – 24th April 1953

The Mother seeing the results Udar, Pranab, Lilou, Lata

Weight Lifting – 24th April 1952

The Mother watching a programme. 21 February 1960.

Children’s Programme

The Mother taking the Salute

March past – group D

March past with audience and – 2nd Dec. 1954

The Mother watching a children’s programme

The Mother meeting the Russian gymnasts, 2 April 1956

The Mother meeting the Russian gymnasts, 2 April 1956

The Mother giving prizes

We have known Udar as small kids – waiting to hear his order to begin the long jump, high jump and the hop, step and jump. His voice still rings and lingers in our ears even to this day. That’s the power of our childhood at the Ashram and he was a part of our growing up.

The Mother started the department of physical education because, She said, «The time has come for our force to enter the physical field.»

The Mother always said ‘our’ force. The Mother gave importance to sports because She felt it encourages one’s own effort to progress. She gave importance to competition, but She didn’t want that you should beat somebody else, but that you should beat yourself. «Try to do better today.»


Udar was the captain of the Blue Group and led the group in the daily and special March Past. Upto 1959 he was the main person in physical education in the Ash ram... I must say that because of him physical education in the Ashram is what it is today.

(I Remember p. 292)

Another aspect of Udar’s work was the organisation of the Physical Education Department. When this Department was started by the Mother, Pranab was named by Her as Director and he asked Udar, with Mother’s full support, to organise the new venture. So the Physical Education Department was organised entirely by Udar and managed by him and his group for several years. It was then that he set up the Sports Ground with the Swimming Pool etc.


Another important work which Udar undertook and which very few now know about is the organisation of the Physical Education. He and Pranab worked together to set up a whole system which today looks so perfect. Udar’s job was planning and organisation. He made the competition schedules and noted down the results, then worked out the points and positions. By the end of the day the results would be on the notice board.

Golden Chain

Amiyo once mentioned to the Mother that they played Table Tennis in their house in Calcutta. Could they have a Table Tennis table at their place so that they could play in the evenings? Mother answered that she too used to play Table Tennis and was quite good at it. Yes, they could have a table where all could play. She talked to Udar about it. For Udar to hear the Mother was to obey Her. Working non-stop he got a very good table made and installed it in ‘Nanteuil’.

Every evening Mother, dressed in a beautiful, embroidered sari, went there to play table tennis. Chinmayee accompanied her but would sit outside and design Mother’s veils. Minou and some other girls watched Mother’s game. One day Mother asked them if they would like to play. They answered that they would like it very much but they had never played before. Mother asked Amiyo to teach them and eventually they even played with Mother.

Soon there were more and more people, young and old, who wanted to take up the game. Udar made some more tables and placed them in ‘Fenêtres’, in the hall downstairs, and in ‘Michel House’ (the house in the corner opposite Lalji-bhai’s). In order to improve the standard of the players, Udar organised Inter-Table competitions. All the paper work «? was done in his office in Harpagon. The matches were played in the evenings after the Play- ground activities, or in the mornings on Sundays.


Tennis Ground

The mother playing Tennis - kalyan, Udar

Udar joined me when we acquired the Tennis Ground in 1948 and were extending our physical education programme. We were at that time an inseparable pair. Both of us were guided by Mother.

(I Remember p. 292)

The first athletic competitions were held in the tennis ground and the running races on the Cours Chabrol (Beach Road). Udar was always present organising everything and holding the finishing tape or at the start or the take off for the jumps.


The Playground was adjacent to the Dortoir [the ‘Boarding’ dormitory] and we used to play games and have running races etc. under the guidance of Purani. Sea-bathing was also introduced in the physical education activities. That is where I had my first contact with Udar. He used to bring a rubber tube and teach us how to float on water. It was a great feeling, the first experience of keeping afloat, as I did not know swimming. I remember that I could keep afloat the longest.


Among other activities, Udar organised the Tennis and Table Tennis Tournaments, keeping Mother informed about the results. He also organised the Athletic tournaments where Mother used to hold the tape at the finish. The earlier sports events were held at the Tennis Ground and the Playground. The races were held along the ‘Cours Chabrol’ what is now Goubert Avenue (Beach Road) with the finish at the main gate of the Tennis Ground. The throwing and jump events were held at the Tennis Ground where earlier they were held at the Playground. He organised Table Tennis at ‘Nanteuil’, ‘Fenetres’ and also at other locations.


Udar had a special skill in organisation. He drew up programs for table tennis and tennis. He also drew up plans for athletics. He took part in some items and excelled in shot put.


In the beginning Udar was fully involved with the Physical Education Department. Apart from manufacturing sports equipment etc. he also had to arrange the Tennis tournaments, make schedules for matches and work out groupings for the Athletic Competitions.


Mother used to talk of tennis and mother liked to play it. So because of that i had these two tennis courts built. I don’t say I built them myself. I know it was a specialised job so I asked an expert from the concrete Association of India to do the first court. Manoranjan Ganguli watched them and built the second court.


The Sports Ground

The Mother opening the sports ground 1st July 1951 Udar, Pranab, Abhay Singh

March past. 1.7.1951

March past. 1.7.1951

March past. 1.9.1952

March past. 1.7.1952

Udar in a relay race - 1951

The Mother arriving at the Sports Ground - 9th July 1952

The Mother arriving at the Sports Ground - 9th July 1952

The Mother arriving at the Sports Ground - 1952

Little one’s races and results

The Mother with the sports’ results - 1952

Showing the mother the running race results

measuring the throws - 1952

Children’s Rabbit race

The Evening’s programme - 1st July 1958

The Sports Ground was Jalad’s fodder field for the cows at his Dairy. The Ashram did not have a football ground. Some young people had gone there for an outing and they thought this could be a nice ground for football. They told Mother about it and She gave Her consent. Thus the Sports Ground came into existence.


Jalad and Kameshwar had spent several years looking for suitable land to grow fodder for the Ashram dairy. This piece of land measuring 4 acres was bought for Rs. 4,000.

One evening Mother asked Jalad during groundnut distribution, “Jalad, children are asking me for more place to play. Can you spare the fodder land?”

He replied spontaneously, “Mother it is all yours. Why are you asking me?” Mother was pleased and gave him an extra helping of groundnuts.

Gopal D.

He (Udar) laid the cinder track and produced our football ground with a beautiful lawn from the fodder land of our dairy. Even the plan for our swimming pool complex was made by him.

(I Remember p. 292)

The groups were made according to individual capacity; so that made the timetable very complicated and a lot of work was involved in it. All this was done at night after the group activities with the help of some students.


Udar worked out the whole layout and made the cinder running tracks, long jump and high jump runs, shot put and Hammer rings etc. according to the Olympic specifications after obtaining the same from the International Olympic Committee. The swimming pool was built by Louis Alien with Udar’s help.


When the Mother began to give much attention to physical education in the Ashram, it was Udar who manufactured the table tennis tables; the dumb-bells, barbells and other apparatus for body-building, weight lifting and gymnastics; the discus, javelin, shots, hammer and even the spiked running shoes required for athletics - all in the all-purpose Harpagon Workshop! Even the running tracks and the Swimming pool in the Sports Ground were constructed under his direct supervision. During the athletics season in the early fifties, the entire organisational work was carried out in his office in Harpagon. It was a most familiar sight in the athletics season to see Udar in the Sports Ground, always hovering near the Mother, maintaining a meticulous record of the performance of each participant (and there used to be some six hundred of them!) - and this after his eight-hour stint of supervising the work in each and every department under his care.


Whenever there were competitions of athletics or gymnastics, Udar used to record the results and he had his team of workers who used to calculate the marks (records) and the average and the same evening the results were displayed on the notice board. We used to do this at night.


The children wanted to do their best because Mother was watching them. One girl broke the all India record in the 200 metres race. I told Mother about it Mother, she broke the 200 metres record, should we announce it?


This work, programming of the Sports, was stopped when Mother asked Udar to help Laljibhai for the Sugar Factory. Udar said he could not manage both, that and the Sports programming. Mother told him that now he had organised the Sports, the younger ones could continue doing it and he could now fully help with the Sugar Factory.


Swiming Pool

Novelty races

Keeping records – Yogananda, Udar, Lata, Lilou

Keeping records – Vishnu, Udar, Krishnalal

On the megaphone – 1960 Udar, Lata, Lilou

Fun time! – 1959

After the dip – 1959

When we were building the swimming pool at the Sports Ground 1 wanted to have our own independent supply of water from a tube well so as not to depend on the town supply. Now 1 know that sinking a tube well is a risk. There are narrow underground streams and if the well hits one of these then it will give a regular and constant supply of water. But if one misses it by even a few feet then the water supply is intermittent and can fail in summer. So we had to hit the right spot and for this I remembered what Sri Aurobindo had said and I asked the Mother to come and choose the spot for us. So Mother came to the place, meditated a while and then put Her foot on a spot, which we marked at once.

We went ahead and had the bore well at the exact spot and now we get ample water all the time.



The Mother taking the salute on Her 80th birthday – 21st feb.1958

The Mother reading out Message to the All India Radio 21st feb.1958

The Mother at the flower Exhibition – 21st feb.1958

The Mother with visiting artists Suramandir from Bengal – Nov. 1958

Another place which was associated with Udar was the Theatre. We are told that there was a series of warehouses where our theatre stands today. He arranged for its purchase and construction. And on February Darshan, on Mother’s 80th birthday, it was inaugurated with a March Past and a perform Some years later, Udar would stand there, on that stage and play many roles – in the Bourgeois Centilhomme, Perseus the Deliverer and others.

Golden Chain

Mother’s Message of 21st February 1958 – on the occasion of Her 80th Birthday:

To celebrate the birth of a transitory body can satisfy some faithful feelings.

To celebrate the manifestation of the eternal Consciousness can be done at every moment of the universal history.

But to celebrate the advent of a new world, the supramental world, is a marvellous and exceptional privilege.

First December

Anniversary of the School

The Mother and spectators at the 1st Dec. programme – playground

Le Voyage de Monsieur Perrichon – 1st Dec. 1948

Le Voyage de Monsieur Perrichon – 1st Dec. 1948 M.Toussaint, Hriday, Mme Toussaint, Udar, Atindra, Amita

Le Grand Secret – 1st Dec. 1954 Debu, Udar, André, Pavitra, Manoj, Hriday, Satprem

Le Grand Secret – 1st Dec. 1954 Debu, Udar, André, Pavitra, Manoj, Hriday, Satprem

Les Femmes Savantes Debdas, Jhumur, Promesse, Uadr, Andre, Arati, Srimayee, Amita, Chhanda

Le Bourgeois Gentilhomme – 1959 Chhanda, Arati, Udar

Le Bourgeois Gentilhomme – 1959 Srimoyee, Udar, Mukul, Brajkishor, Bhai, Prabhakar

Le Bourgeois Gentilhomme – 1959 Gama, Amarendra, Jhumur, Udar, Prabhakar

Le Bourgeois Gentilhomme – 1959 Manoj – the Philosopher; Udar – the gentilhomme

The Viziers of Bassora – 1964 At the King’s court Anjana, Promesse, Udar

The Viziers of Bassora – 1964 Udar as Emperor

The Viziers of Bassora At the King’s court – 1964 Ranajit, Mina, Kokila, Vishweshwar, Udar, krishna, Jules, behram.

Rodogune – 1968 Back: Datta, Klya, Padmakar, Norman, Udar, Jhumur, Kanu, Debobrato, Kabul, Victor, Promesse. Front: Ravi, Bhudutt, Subhash, Chitra, Amita, Chhanda, Gene, Arati, Gita, Maria, Kanaklata

Rodogune – 1968 Chhanda, Gene, Bhudutt, Subash, Chitra, Kalya, Udar, Bipin, Ashwin, Abhijit, Kanu

Udar as Nicanor in Rodogune 1968

Perseus the Deliverer – 1966 Chhanda, Svetlana, Behram, Udar, Amita

Perseus the Deliverer – 1966 Portrait of the King

Perseus the Deliverer – 1966 King Cepheus – Udar, Queen Cassiopeia – Amita

Perseus the Deliverer – 1966 Kanu, Subhash, Udar, Amita

The Prince of Edur – 1970 Prem Malik, Kirti, Chitra, Chhanda, Udar, Shobha

The Prince of Edur – 1970 Udar, Kirti

The Prince of Edur – 1970 Chitra, Udar, Kirti

Le Voyage de Monsieur Perrichon

A farcical 19th century comedy by Eugène Labiche about a retired manufacture who goes on a holiday to Switzerland with his wife and daughter, followed by two friendly suitors who devise stratagems to please the father and get the daughter’s hand.

Le Grand Secret

A play by the Mother – 1st December 1954: Six monologues and a Conclusion. Six of the world’s most famous men have been brought together, apparently by chance, in a life-boat in which they have taken refuge when the ship that was carrying them to a world conference on human progress sank in mid-ocean. There is also a seventh man in the boat...

Les Femmes Savantes

This comedy of Molièrés, written in 1672, makes fun of the intellectual cult of the day in the ridiculous figure of Trissotin who backs out of a proposed marriage to the charming daughter of his fashionable followers -a domineering woman and her hen-pecked husband – when he hears the rumour that the family has lost its fortune.

Le-Bourgeois Gentilhomme

A comedy of Molière that is about a rich merchant who aspires to become a gentleman and hires tutors to acquire the superficial accomplishments of the 17th century Man of society.

The Viziers of Bassora

A Play by Sri Aurobindo – 3rd December 1964: The Play is a depiction of the conflict of good and evil in which victory comes to the good. The play has another theme, that is, of love, though a minor one. Love is presented by Sri Aurobindo, in his play after play, as a benevolent force which destroys evil and conflict and paves the way for harmony and peace.

In the play The Viziers of Bassora I was given the role of Shaikh Ibrahim, the sweet told drunkard. I was told that since I had no real experience of being drunk Udar would teach me the part. So I use to go in the evenings to his house and learn from him. One day he said that I should get drunk to truly understand how it felt. «Tomorrow I’ll get you some wine and make you drunk, «he said. i was very excited since I was young and eager to have this new experience.

The next evening however, when I went to him, Udar told me sadly that he had asked Mother about getting me drunk but Her answer was a categorical «No!» He was sorry but could give me no wine.

«Oh no!» I said to myself.



A Drama by Sri Aurobindo – 1st December 1968: A tragedy set in Antioch, the ancient capital of Syria. Rodogune, which underlines the purposiveness of suffering, is a parable of the working of Fate and also a celebration of the supremacy of love, its power and glory.

Perseus the Deliverer

A Drama by Sri Aurobindo – 1st December 1966: Here the stage is the human mind of all times: the subject is an incident in its passage from a semi-primitive temperament surviving in a fairly advanced outward civilisation to a brighter intellectualism and humanism – never quite safe against the resurgence of the dark or violent life-forces which are always there subdued or subordinated or somnolent in the make-up of civilised man – and the first promptings of the deeper and higher psychic and spiritual being which it is his ultimate destiny to become.

When we were rehearsing the drama of Sri Aurobindo, Perseus the Deliverer, we all went to Her in our stage costumes to show them to Her. I was dressed as a King since the role I had was that of King Cepheus, the father of Andromeda. When the Mother saw me She exclaimed, «Ah, now I remember seeing you dressed like this, one of the times we were together in a previous life. You were then a Roman Emperor.» She did not specify which one and I was too thrilled to ask Her and the moment passed.


The Prince of Edur

A play by Sri Aurobindo – 1970: Written in 1907, incomplete.

Historically, Bappa the hero of the play was the founder of the great- ness of Mewar. He had spent his childhood among the Bheels (Bhils) of the forest, become their chieftain, and ultimately founded a kingdom around Chitor. In Sri Aurobindo’s play, Bappa of the Bheels – who is really the Prince of Edur in exile – manages to thwart the designs of all his enemies including the usurper, Rana of Edur, and marries his daughter as well. The clash of interests and the heady march of events make for dramatic excitement, but Sri Aurobindo seems also to have visualised Bappa in the prototypical image of patriot and deliverer, a fiery son of the Mother issuing from his ‘Bhavani Mandir’ in the hills to cause confusion among the enemies of the country.

K.R. Srinivas lyengar
(‘Sri Aurobindo’ 2006 ed. p. 154)

Noël – Cristmas

Noël 1939 in the Little house Udar, Nishtha (Margaret Woodrow Wilson), Gauri, Ambu, Mona

Noel – 1947

Noël – 1947 scramble for balloons Alice, Lakshmibai, Pavitra

The Mother distributind gift

Udar dressed as a chef, offering the Mother a gift-Pie for Noël

The Mother at Sodalicious booth – Noël 1961 Udar, Pavitra

The Mother Noël – 1960

Noël – 1960 The Mother looking at the decorations

Papa Noël – Udar


Papa Noël – Udar


Baudet with Christmas hat Noël – 1945 in the Red House


In England Christmas is a very happy family affair, so Mona, Udar’s wife, also followed a simple Christmas celebration with her friends and family in the Ashram and sent gifts for the Mother and Sri Aurobindo.

In 1944, during the war years, when all of a sudden there was a large influx of children, Mother asked Mona to organise a little celebration for them. Games were organised and presents were distributed. All this was done in the ‘Red House’, facing the Ashram Main Library, where Udar lived with his family.

The children enjoyed the celebrations so much that it was decided to hold it the next year also. The Christmas celebration was then held at Fenetres after Udar, Mona and Gauri moved there a few years later. Mother decided that henceforth the distribution of presents would be for everyone in the Ashram and that it would be held in the Playground. For the next 10 years or so the Christmas tree was decorated and lit up at the Playground; it was a simple affair, and young and old participated in the cheerful mood of the celebration. Mother herself sat near the tree and distributed presents.

In those days the Ashram’s finances were very limited, so the presents which were given to the children were not new toys which were bought. What the children got in their little packets from Mother was re-cycled material. The tennis balls with which Mother played were afterwards passed on to the other players. When the balls were completely worn out they were dyed in bright colours and distributed to the children at Christmas. And small eggless cakes, with chocolate topping, made in the Ashram bakery, were also one of the gifts.

Golden Chain

I first met Udar on December 24th, 1968. That night Maggi, Udar and I joined Kusum at her new shop ‘Fleurs en Flacon’, a few doors from the back of the Ashram on Rue St. Gilles. Our mission was to sing Christmas carols to the Mother. Udar brought his harmonica. After a few practice songs, we walked over and stood under Mother’s window on Rue St. Gilles. And there in the empty street, under the South Indian sky – with Udar’s soulful accompaniment on the harmonica we sang silent Night to the Mother of the stars and the earth.


Even though everyone enjoyed this little celebration, the Playground, as it turned out, was not the ideal place. Sometimes it rained and everything had to be hurriedly taken in to one of the rooms and at other times there were strong winds and the decorations on the tree would get blown away. In 1956 the Theatre Hall was constructed and it was then the biggest covered space in the Ashram. From 1958 the Christmas tree was decorated at the Theatre and Mother distributed the gifts there. Probably the last time that Mother came to the Theatre for Christmas was in 1961.

Golden Chain

Every Wednesday the Mother held classes for a group of children. Since it was Christmas time Mother was telling us about the origins of this Festival of Light and why we celebrated it here, in the Ashram.

Long, long ago, She said, some wise men noticed that the days were getting shorter and the nights longer at that time of the year. They felt that the increasing darkness might soon engulfthe world and life would suffer. So they sat together in meditation and prayed and prayed. They then noticed that the days were slowly becoming longer and the stark nights shorter. Since then the Return of Light was celebrated in Ancient Egypt.

«That is why the 25th of December was a festival of Light long before fesus Christ. This festival was in vogue long before Christianity and originated in Egypt and probably the birth of Christ was fixed on the same day as that of the return of Light.»

The Mother

We remember how happy we were to find a present on top of our mosquito nets on the morning of 25th December and how Udar would come in his red Father Christmas costume and a big white beard, ringing a bell.


And how can we forget him and his involvement in our joyous evenings by the Christmas tree?



Mother was giving balcony darshans on the first floor, before She went up to live on the second floor. And as She was darshan a baby donkey left his mother and came and joined the people looking at the Mother upstairs. Now I did not go 1 darshan and I used to wait upstairs because She used to give me a rose every morning. That morning She said, «Udar, I w, show you something. You see, there is a baby donkey there, he left his mother and joined the crowd to have my darsha wants to come to me, so you go and get me the donkey.»

I went without question, but I tell you, Mother arranged the circumstances and everything went off so easily. I went t saw the donkey; it took me to his mother, then a man came with a stick; I asked him, «Is it your donkey?»

He said «Yes.» I said, «I want to buy your donkey!» «Yes,» he said. The donkey was very docile, he followed me bad 1 brought it through the Ashram front gate, around the Service Tree and attached it in front of Dyuman’s room. Then I upstairs and told the Mother. Mother came down and started caressing the donkey so much!

At that time we were staying in the Red House. We had a small garden. We had a beautiful dog named by the Mother ‘Beauty’. The dog and the donkey became good friends. The dog would make the donkey run up and down the garden. The donkey enjoyed running. Then I asked the Mother what to do with the donkey.

She said, «Put it to work!»

Well, what other work is there for donkeys beside pulling a carriage. So I had a specially small carriage made. You may say that donkeys are stupid but this donkey was not stupid, he knew the difference between play and work. He absolutely refused to move. So I reported to the Mother. She said She would ask Sri Aurobindo. When She came back. She said, «Sri Aurobindo said, ‘Typical sadhak!’»

Mother called him Baudet – Richard Pearson used to ride on that donkey’s back. Every year there used to be a donkey race. So we registered that donkey for the race. This donkey-came first. He ran like a race horse! That kind of thing he liked to do. But work. No!




The Mother Opening Senteurs Sept. 1958 Tanmaya, Udar, Nolini, Gautam

The Mother at Senteurs -Sept. 1958 Nolini, Minoo, Udar, Dyuman, Millie

The Mother at Senteurs – Sept. 1958. Mona, Gautam, Udar

The Mother at Senteurs -Sept. 1958. Nolini, Pranab, Tanmaya, Udar, Panu

Udar, under Mother’s direction, started several units like the Handmade Paper Unit, the Laboratoires Senteurs. He also took up and developed the Coco Garden Cement Concrete Works, and managed Honesty Engineers and Contractors. He also helped establish the New Horizon Sugar Mills and the New Horizon Stainless Steel factory.


When the Mother was in France She had a lady friend, Madame Lucienne Merle who was a manufacturer of perfumes and toilette products. One of her best products was an alcohol based lotion called Friction de Foucaud. It was stated to have 60 uses and really it was so, and very good. Mother asked me to get in touch with the Company of Lucienne Merle in France and import their Friction de Foucaud.

Then, after Pondicherry merged with India, difficulties arose. The import of Friction de Foucaud was banned. The Company suggested that we import the basic essences and add the alcohol here. Mother asked me to accept the suggestion and as a chemical laboratory was necessary for the work, the Mother asked me to start the Laboratoires Senteurs.

Now, it was the Mother’s practice to get me to start many things in the Ashram and when these were well established She put me on to something else. So I did not remain to run any one unit but started several. To this end, I had to train someone each time to carry on the work when I had to go to start something else. In this case, I found a very capable and dedicated worker in Kusum, and she took over the work I was doing at the Laboratoires Senteurs but I remained as the Sole Trustee, according to the Mother’s instructions.


After the Merger of Pondicherry with the Indian Union, as it was difficult to get foreign goods, Udar started the perfumery specially for Friction de Foucaud which Mother used daily. As usual because we were busy with office work during the day time, we worked at night. Udar started it at Fenetres (his house) and when more help was required a few students also came. As in the daytime no one was at Fenetres, perfume and other toilette products were kept in his office for those who wanted to buy. Later on as it grew it was necessary that it become a separate full-fledged unit.


When Udar started making perfume, at their house Fenetres where they had shifted I used to accompany Lilou, mostly after work and group activities, to help in the preparation and bottling of perfumes.


H. E. C. (Honesty Engineers and Contractors)

The Mother opening new power generator at Atelier – 12th Oct. 1954 Udar, Vishnu

The Mother at Aroumé. Ravindra, Dyuman, Udar

The Mother at H.E.C. Anil, Pranab, Pavitra, Udar, Minoo

It was started by Manoranjan Ganguli but as he could not cope with the work he asked Udar through Mother to be his partner. Later on as Manoranjan became involved in other businesses he left H.E.C. and Udar had to run it. Udar turned it into a Trust so that all profits would go to the Ash ram.


Handmade Paper Unit

Opening of Ayurvedic Section – 22nd Feb. 1957

Handmade paper Unit – 9th Dec.1959. Prabhakar, Udar, Tarachand, Pavitra, Kiran, Nolini

Opening of H.M.P. by the Mother – 9th Dec.1959

Handmade paper 9th Dec.1959 Panu, Nolini, Amrita, Dayakar, Prabhakar, Pavitra, Udar

Handmade paper 9th Dec.1959. The Mother watching hand lifting of paper Nolini, Panu, Amrita, Dayakar, Prabhakar, Udar, Kiran, Pavitra

Handmade paper 9th Dec.1959


H.M.P. Opening of the new section – Dec.1967 Anurakta, Gulabbhai, Udar, Someshwar, Reba


H.M.P. meeting – Oct.1961. Dyuman, Wilfy, Charupada, Udar, Anurakta


The Mother at the Stainless steel Factory Inauguration – 9th Dec.1960


The Mother at the Stainless steel Factory Inauguration – 9th Dec.1960


«Why don’t you start a hand-made paper department, we’ll give you all help, «said the Khadi and Village Industries Commission. I told them, «I am not interested in paper, I am an aeronautical engineer. We have no paper specialist, but I will ask the Mother.» And Mother was very enthusiastic, She said, «Take it up. I don’t want any profit, I want you to make me good paper.» Then I became enthusiastic, and I began to study, to read all the books. And again it so happened, – when you begin to work for the Mother, all the circumstances begin to collaborate – even the best material for the best paper is very close to us here. I soon realised that the best paper, called rag paper, is made from tailor cuttings.


The Khadi and Village Industries Commission (K.V.I.C.) had approached us through one of their officers with a proposal to start a Hand- made Paper Unit in the Ashram. I took the proposal to the Mother who was very pleased with it and asked me to take it up at once.

So we took up the proposal in that spirit. It was decided to set up the largest size unit of the K.V.I.C.’s range and to use the best material. This was the bleached, not heavily twisted rag cuttings from the hosiery Opening of H.M.P. by the Mother – 9th Dec. 1959 units in South India. This was the best material anywhere, we were informed; so we made arrangements to buy all that we could get from the many hosiery and banian factories nearby.


The K.V.I.C. were very generous and most helpful. They gave us a substantial grant and, besides, a loan at low interest and sent their best man to set up our unit here. We tried to get the best of all the things necessary – the washers, the beaters, the paper-lifting vats, the driers, etc. Then we made the paper and soon arrived at a very good quality. Mother was very happy with our product. The K.V.I.C. were also very pleased with us because we took up the work with so much enthusiasm which they had found lacking in the other units they had set up all over the country. At that time, they informed us that they had set up about 600 units of different sizes. Because of the Mother’s Force supporting us, which gave us all the enthusiasm, ours soon became the foremost unit in the whole of India and today our unit is considered as one of the best in the world, including even japan where handmade paper has a high standard.


As there was no H.M.P. office at that time everything was done by Udar from his Harpagon office. He also arranged to have the first All India Hand Made Paper Industries Conference under the auspices of Khadi and Village Industries at the Ash ram. Mother gave the message for the Conference:

«In work aspiration towards perfection is true spirituality»



The Mother after tasting the Sodalicious drink – 25th Dec.1961. Pavitra, Ajit, Asher, Udar

So that people could get good soft drinks, Sodalicious was started. It was made using filtered water and natural ingredients. Mother told Udar not to use sugar through it was more expensive.


Service Section

Petrol bunk opening – 1964

Cabinet dentaire

Opening of Dental Clinic – 29th April 1965. Gangaram, Indrasen, Udar, Neel, Navajata, Richard, Laljibhai

Nurshing Home

Nursing home foundation – 9th Aug. 1969

The new Nursing Home of the Sri Aurobindo Ashram was declared open on the 29th March 1981 by Dr. Nripendra in a simple but solemn ceremony. It was on that day in 1914 that the Mother first came to Pondicherry to see Sri Aurobindo and She had arrived here at 4 p.m. and so the opening was done on that auspicious date and at that hour. This Nursing Home is situated at the south-eastern corner of the Boulevard, facing the sea. It is in a very fine location. Here is the story of how it came to be.

The plot of Land on which it is built was once rented by our Trust, Messrs. Honesty Engineers and Contractors as a place for doing mosaic works. It was put by me under the charge of Asher with Santosh to take up mosaic contracts. One day a request came to the Mother for a Nursing Home and Mother spoke of it to Amrita and me who were with Her at the time. She said that if we had to have a Nursing Home it should be on the sea-front and She asked me if I knew of any place that was available. I told Mother of the place that Shri Vora had bought and Mother asked me to find out if he would offer it to Her. I sent word to him through Asher and suggested that he offer to Mother at least half the land. He said that he would consult his family and let us know. Then a day or two later the Mother told me Shri Vora had offered Her the whole land. I was very happy to hear this and told Asher about it. When Asher spoke to Shri Vora he was quite surprised for though it had been decided by him and his family to offer the whole place to the Mother they had not yet informed Her or anyone else about it and so he could not understand how Mother knew. What had happened was that Shri Vora’s psychic being had gone to Mother and had offered the land to Her and so She knew about it. When Shri Vora came to know this he was very happy.

The plan for the Nursing Home was drawn by an Italian architect but Mother Herself had indicated the curved form it should take.

The foundation stone was laid by Nolini as directed by the Mother ‘ on the 9th August 1969 and Mother sent Her message for the occasion as follows:


Finally it is faith that cures Blessings

The Mother


Tresor Nurshing Home

Tresor Nursing Home opening 2nd Jan. 1970

Precadst Concrete Works

The construction work of New Horizon Sugar Mills was taken up by H.E.C. they required a lot of building material like hollow blocks (nine lakhs were supplied), R.C.C. door and window frames and lime mortar etc. As Coco Garden (Precast Concrete Works) was at that time only an Ashram department (under Khirod and Kalikumar), they were not authorised to do business. Udar applied for and obtained the license in the name of Precast Concrete Works and from 1963 the manufacture and sale of concrete products commenced.


Udar started «Precast Concrete Works» where they made pre-cast cement articles like slabs, rings etc. Also made there were flooring tiles. Much of Jipmer Hospital has flooring and walls clad with Precast Concrete tiles.


Watch Repairing Department

In 1976 when I joined the Watch Repairing Department I saw there were lots of good tools and on enquiring I came to know that they had all been given by Udar.

It was Udar who started repairing Mother’s watches and got the necessary tools. So I went to him and heard a few stories about how it all began and how he got the tools through friends abroad. Then he gave me some tools, still left with him, and a 400 days clock «Jaeger Le Coultre» which used to be in Mother’s room. He wanted me to repair it and show him how good I was. I managed to repair it and he was very happy and gave me the clock. He said Mother had given it to him and now I could keep it. How happy I was!


Garden and Farms

The Mother at the Le Faucheur Island – 1957 Ananta, Udar, Amiyo, Pavitra, Purnima, Marie Abel

The Mother visiting Cazanove Sudhir, Udar, Niranjan, Debu, Pavitra, Amiyo, Dayakar

The Mother Looking at the Cazanove cows – 5th Dec.1960 Sudhir, Amiyo, Dayakar, Khirod, Pavitra, Himanshu, Debu, Udar, Sumantra, Pradyut

The Mother at Parc à Charbon (Park Guest House) March 1957

The Mother at the Island – 1958 Ananta, Amiyo, Udar, Nolini, Eleanor, Huta, Amita

Crossing the river to Ananta’s island Pavitra, Amita, Udar, Amiya, Ananta

Mother watching the peacock at the Island – 1958 Huta, Eleanor, Amiya, Nolini, Nolini, Pavitra, Udar, Anata

The Mother going to the Island by bird-boat-1960 Manoranjan, Pavitra, Pranab

The Mother on the boat to Ananta’s Island – 1960

The Mother going to the Island by bird – boat – 1960 Manoranjan, Pavitra

Sometimes mother would visit the Ashram gardens and farms. Also every year she would go to the ‘Le Faucheur’ Island and Ananta, who lived there and looked after it, would show her around. Some people would show Her around. Some people would be invited to go with Her, first across the river in a boat and then on to the Island.


Purani and Udar in the 1930s

The practice of dowsing is a very ancient one. In England this used to be done with a hazel twig in the form of a Y. This twig had a natural springiness. One holds the Y facing outwards, level with the ground. The method was used largely for finding sources of water. The dowser walked slowly over the ground being investigated and if and when he came over a source of water the twig would move suddenly and forcefully, either up or down.

Sometime during the last war we had the visit of an officer of the British Royal Air Force. He had come to see us and ask questions with regard to dowsing. Instead of a hazel twig he used a V made by sticking the tips of two steel cored knitting needles into a piece of rubber. But he mostly used a pendulum. He explained that this was also an old tradition for prospecting for precious metals and stones. The pendulums had a small chamber and screwed-on tip. A small piece of the metal or precious stone sought for was put into the pendulum bob that was hung by a silk string. Prospecting was done at the place itself or even over a map at a place far removed from the actual site. The pendulum would show its reaction by circular movement either clockwise or anti-clockwise. He himself used mostly the pendulum.

The officer told us that there are many people who are open to the forces that act in these matters. He discovered his own prowess quite by accident. He asked me to try out his knitting needle V. We were living, at that time at the Red House, opposite our library, the house which we shared with the young donkey Baudet and with our lively Dalmatian, Beauty, and later, with her son Beau. All the three names had been given by the Mother Herself. We were, at the time, upstairs in our sitting room and I took the V as directed and walked slowly the length of the room. Really I expected nothing to happen but when I reached one place, the V shot up quite violently and gave me a bump on the nose. I tried it again and even tried to stop the V from moving but each time I got the bump, always at the same spot. Later we found that this spot was just over a water tap downstairs. So evidently I had the opening and the man encouraged me to develop it further but I was not interested. I have felt that such things tend to lead one away from the true path of the Yoga into byways and hold one there. Mother confirmed this to me later.

Now, he explained, the Royal Air Force had taken him up seriously and they employed him to trace missing airmen who had been shot down and forced to bail out over enemy-occupied territory. The R.A.F. would send him a piece of clothing of the airman he had to locate and would indicate the area to be investigated. He had large-scale maps of all the areas. He said that he was able to locate quite a number of men, and rescue parties would be sent out to bring them back.

Now the officer had two questions for which he wanted answers.» First, he wanted to know what was the force that acted in such matters and from where it came. Next, he asked why the results were not always true. Purani was with us at the time and neither he nor any of us felt we could answer these questions. So Purani took the V and the pendulum to Sri Aurobindo and showed the things to Him and asked Him the questions.

This is the answer given by Sri Aurobindo. He said that such knowledge as is revealed to those who seek for it through these and other means exists in a certain plane of consciousness and persons can open to this plane. When one gets reactions through the instruments such as those taken to Him it shows that one is open to this plane. But because the knowledge is transmitted through physical material instruments which are themselves not conscious, error can often come in and often certain mischievous forces purposely give false information just for the fun of it, and because they can use the material instruments. So the best thing to do, said Sri Aurobindo, was to try and open more towards that plane of knowledge for a direct revelation and not through an instrument. Then each revelation would be always true.


Gliding – Interest in Aviation

Udar had qualified as an aeronautical engineer from the UK in the early thirties. However there was little aviation in India at that time and hence no scope for the utilisation of his education and skills. I first met Udar in the summer of 1959. I was then serving as a fighter pilot on active duty in the Indian Air Force. I was flying the French ‘Ouragan’ (called Toofani in India) aircraft and as a hobby I used to do gliding (sailplane flying) on weekends. We just clicked from the very beginning. His interest in aviation was rekindled through our association and for me he always remained a father-figure.

During my visit to Pondicherry in the summer of 1966 Udar expressed a wish to fly in a small plane over Pondicherry and the Ashram. So we went to Meenambakam Airport in Madras and the Chief Flying Instructor of the Madras Flying Club very kindly arranged two separate Pushpak aircraft for us to fly over Pondicherry and back. The two yellow Pushpak aircraft appeared over Pondicherry and Udar was indeed very thrilled to wave to the people in the Ashram below. After that whenever we were together in Delhi he always prompted me to fly him. It was for me a great privilege to take him up in the air, seated beside me, and to feel the enthusiasm that he radiated.


There was an U.F.O., I don’t know how the newspaper people came to know about it, but it was announced that an U.F.O. will fly over Pondicherry at about 11 or 12 o’clock, because the U.F.O. had been sighted by some people and they made some kind of calculation. So I told Mother. Both of us went on the terrace and looked up at the sky from the first floor. Truly, the U.F.O. came over. They called it a flying saucer, but I would call it rather a flying discus. It was fairly big but not massive, double the size of this room. It flew slowly, there was no smoke, no noise. I am an engineer, I could see that there were no wings, no jets. Clearly it was coming from somewhere else. Mother and I saw it. And then when I looked up she was in meditation. So I kept quiet. And then after that I asked Mother about it,

«I am not sure whether it is a friendly or an unfriendly object», she said.

I thought Mother would be surprised, but no! She said, «Udar! People don’t know we are surrounded by all kinds of objects, some physically visible, some not, we are not the only world created in the process of manifestation. Some of them are very bad but some are wonderfully advanced. But all these worlds are static, whatever they are they remain like that, there is no movement, no idea of progress. So they like to visit the earth because they feel some sense of movement, of evolution.»


Solar Energy

The utilisation and the harnessing of energy is essential for any progress – not only material but, through the physical, to other areas in our world, having an impact even on spiritual growth. Actually growth, to be true, must be integral and global. Hence the drive towards more powerful sources of energy is essentially valid but we must have the vision to see in what direction we should move in our investigations. Fossil fuels are also of the darkness but not of much danger and have served us for several centuries. It is in the spiritual ordering of the progressive march that they now become scarce and more and more difficult and expensive to get and use. We are being driven towards other sources.

And we have an unlimited source before us all the time, the energy from the sun. The sun is the spiritual symbol of a very high realisation, seen as such from very ancient times and its beneficence has been sought to be availed of in various ways. But the utilisation has been very, very marginal. There are now growing efforts for a greater and more effective utilisation. This must be encouraged and supported to the fullest by all of us, particularly in India.


The 12th World Energy Congress ended at Delhi on 23rd September 1983 with the participation of 62 nations in the deliberations on the important question of energy.

What interested me most is that this is part of the Mother’s vision. Mother had» told me very forcefully that the days of the fossil fuels were over and it had to be so. We were living on our past, our dead past as the word fossil itself indicates. We should now move to our future, our glorious future, to an energy from the sun, the physical symbol of the Supramental. Mother had had a vision jn which She saw a very large area covered with some kind of flat panels and from this there was a constant supply of electric power coming.


I must mention the very important and dedicated work in solar energy that is being done here by Dr. Chamanlal Gupta, one of the members of the Ashram, under the aegis of the Tata Energy Research Institute, and his fine collaborator, his wife Shipra. Presently they are setting up, in several places installation of solar water heating systems and they are manufacturing very efficient solar cookers. They had also set up a solar pond in one of our estate; but it was a small pond for experiment and they were able to collect valuable data. Now for the big pond that we propose to make in Pondicherry it ii they who will help prepare the scheme.

Here are some general facts about solar ponds’ electric generation: 1 sq. metre will generally produce 3 to 4 watt-hours. The solar pond keeps its hea even during the night, so the power generation is for 24 hours.


«I am an engineer, «he used to say, but one could see that he had the attitude of a true scientist. For example, once Mother told him that Nuclear fission i’ not the way of the future for energy because it has an occult flaw as it profits from division; there might be a good future for Nuclear fusion because it is the opposite. So Udar went and searched and showed the Mother all other possibilities like biomass, hydroelectric etc. including a picture of solar panels foi solar electricity. Mother, he claimed, had a vision of large installations of such a kind in desert lands. She said, «Yes, this is the way.»

Olivier P.


I gave Mother the whole explanation about photovoltaics, and She said, «Do whatever you can to push research in that line, this is the way of the future for the world. Because the Sun is the sign of the supramental and the iupramental is pouring power on earth, a tiny fraction of it is enough, and this is the way we can have it.»

She said that Nuclear power is the power of the Asura, the titan. It comes out of destruction and out of destruction you get power. So the whole character is destructive and even for peaceful purposes it will give no 2nd of troubles.

And She said India should be the one country notto take to nuclear power, but we are using it as much as 3ossible.


... The more important thing to state is something which physical science will not accept and that is that energy has characteristics. They maintain that energy is neutral and can be well used or ill used but the Mother has said very strongly that nuclear energy is evil in its very base. It comes from the destruction of the basis of matter, the nucleus of the atom and so its very characteristic is destructive. Even the so-called peaceful purpose is a blind. It can never be peaceful and, somehow or the other, will cause great damage. On the other hand, the Mother has shown that the true spiritual energy in the physical comes from the sun. It is the physical symbol of the Supramental and it pours down on us enormous quantities of wonderful energy of which we now use only a very, very small fraction. So our whole attention must be concentrated on using solar energy, in all its forms.



In the 1950s Udar also experimented with Hydroponics, Soil-less culture. Though agriculture was not his field, after reading about ‘the miracle of making the desert bloom’ in the book by. Sholto Douglas, he took copious notes and for the first time in Pondicherry, grew plants in sand and gravel with chemicals as nourishment. He won the horticultural prize that year in the Pondicherry Flower Show for his hydroponics cultivation of tomatoes and roses.

The book that inspired him was Hydroponics, the Bengal System – with notes on other methods of Soilless Cultivation by J. Sholto Douglas (1951) where the author shows how even with poor soil and very limited income one could grow enough food.

Sri Aurobindo Ashram Press

The Mother at the press – 23rd Aug. 1961 Udar, Amiya, Prabhak

The Mother at the press – 23rd Aug. 1961 Udar, Bula

The Mother at the press – 23rd Aug. 1961 Nolini, Robi, Amrita, Udar.

The Mother leaving the press – 23rd Aug. 1961

Foundation stone laying for press extension – 1980. Viswanath, Udar, Kalyan, Counoums, Ranganath, Himanshu, Dyuman, Chinu

In the early days when any urgent work had to be done, students and inmates always came forward to help without disturbing their department work. So mostly they worked at night, like we did for the Press.

Once Mother called Udar and told him that no books were coming from the Press. The printing had been done and stacked but the material was not collated, cut, stitched and bound into book- form. So much backlog was there that the printed material was stacked right to the ceiling. Udar took up the job and organised with the Press workers and volunteers to work at night. They cleared the complete backlog in 6 months and brought into book form all that was printed. The Press was then running day and night.


Udar was often organising extra work whenever this was needed because often there were either not enough paid workers or the workers were on strike. I remember how we had worked almost through the night on a Saturday at the Press in different sections, like binding.. It used to be so much fun and the work was done at a good speed. We were children so we enjoyed a night out and we could have tea which we normally did not drink

I can say that we really enjoyed our life in those days. Fun was work and work was fun can mention that Udar was the organiser always for such occasions. He was the Divine Worker.


Log Lifting

We received a consignment of huge logs from the Andamans and they were unloaded near Parc-a-Charbon. They had to be shifted to Coco Garden. There was no local transport available to shift such huge logs. The Government was pressing us to clear their space. Udar told Mother about it. She asked Mona (Captain) to go with his group (he was at that time captain of what was then called ‘C group) to help shift the logs. They used to work from 4.30 p.m. in the afternoon till about 10 at night and sometimes even later than that. Some other volunteers also joined them sometimes to help. Mother used to send them groundnuts daily.

It took about 2 to 3 months to shift all the logs to Coco Garden, as the logs were huge and heavy and only one log could be put on the trolley at a time. The boys pushed the trolley right from Parc-a-Charbon to Coco Garden. It was very strenuous work. Udar was very much there. He used to choose the logs and help with a crane to lift the logs and put them onto the trolleys. Millie with her jeep and trailer was also a big help. Udar was there throughout, helping Mona and his group.


New Horison Sugar Mills

The land for the new Horizon Sugar Mills

The Mother arriving at the New Horizon sugar Mills Udar, Laljibhai, Pavitra

The Mother’s Visit to new Horizon sugar Mills – 12th April 1959. Kesarimal, Dayabhai, Chandrakant, Amrita, Nolini, Udar, Laljibhai

The Mother’s message on the foundation stone: «Faithfulness is the true basis of success

The Mother laying the foundation stonef or the new H.S.M

New Horizon Sugar Mills Office


New Horizon Sugar Mills Office 12.04.1959

New Horizon sugar Mills, 15.09.1960

When Laljibhai decided to put up a sugar factory here Mother asked Udar to help him. But as Laljibhai was not here and he had no office, everything fell on Udar. There was a lot of paper work to be done for obtaining the license and putting up the factory. All this was done from his office and by Honesty Engineers and Contractors in whose name the license was obtained. The construction work was taken up by H.E.C. and Udar used to go daily to the site to inspect personally the work.



Manibhai Patel, came back to India from East Africa, where political and racial turmoil forced out Indians who had settled in Africa since long. When he came to Pondicherry, he wanted to start a flour mill. The Mother asked me to help him in his projects.

The first thing was to acquire the land. And we had to buy it from the small farmers, in small plots; we had to go to the farmers, we had to bargain with them, arrange to buy it. I had to do everything, and a friend called Asher was helping me. We had to go to buy the land, go to the registrar and get the name registered. Tremendous work from morning till night, which went on for days!

Mother asked me to buy land outside Auroville. I went to see Roger Anger and asked him, «But tell me what is Auroville?» He said, «You go twelve miles outside Pondicherry and do what you like.»

So I took the driver and drove in the car, told him to drive slowly. Suddenly I felt a flash and asked the driver to stop. A man was ploughing a rice field. We asked him if he was ready to sell his land fore good price, he said, «I am not getting much out of it, so if you offer a good price I’ll be ready to sell it to you.» We asked him, «But what is a good price?»

He told us something quite reasonable, he was not greedy; so I didn’t bargain with him and he told his neighbours and little by little we bought the land. It meant a lot of work at the registration office, gathering signatures etc. and my friend Asher was of great help.


There was the question of getting the machinery, which was coming from abroad. There were two possibilities for the import of these machines – at Madras port or at Pondicherry. I felt we should bring the goods to Pondicherry – both because it would cost much less and it seemed wrong to off- load at Madras while we had our own port. The Mother supported my view and Manibhai ordered the ship to Pondicherry.

When the ship arrived, it was a Greek ship, the captain was very disappointed to see the very inadequate crane facilities on the pier. He said it would be impossible to off-load the machinery with them. Now we had occasion to have many talks with the captain and spoke a great deal on Yoga and spiritual matters. He was inclined to be skeptical and finally said, «If you can off-load all the machines onto that pier, I will believe this talk of spiritual force. Seeing is believing.» We left it at that.

Among the machines there was one piece that weighed about 6 tons and the question was really about that piece as the cranes were only of 3 tons capacity each. I had said that we would lift it with two cranes working in tandem but the captain was rather doubtful. He said that tandem working was very difficult and needed highly trained cranesmen. Anyway, the work was taken up and Manibhai and I were present throughout. All the machines were unloaded without any hitch till we came to the last 6 ton piece. We decided that we would have a rest and do the work after lunch. When we went for lunch, those present felt they should continue and try to lift the big machine even in our absence. So a special double boat-lighter brought this machine to the quay-side and the two cranes were hitched on to the box. The captain, with his officers, was in the boat, far away, to watch the drama. All this we were told later as we had not been present. present.

The cranes slowly lifted up the box till it came to the level of the quay-deck and then something happened and both the cranes tipped over. The cranesmen jumped out of the cranes and whole box and two cranes were falling into the sea. It would have been a very major accident involving the loss of 20 boatmen, the boats, the machine and the two cranes. But, in falling over, the crane jibs swung inwards and the box came over the deck and landed on it as on a cushion. Both the cranes then came upright again. At that time we came back from our lunch and found a great state of consternation and panic and then relief.

We looked for the captain. He went back at top speed to his ship and raised anchor and went off in a great hurry, cutting out his dinner engagement and sent a message to say that there was something very strange here. He had never seen anything like it in his life and he wanted to get away from it all as soon as possible.

I told the whole thing to Mother, «Yes, Udar! I know the whole thing.» Then, I said, «Mother, but why did it happen in my absence?»

«I also wondered about it. Udar, you have got a wonderful faith in me, but that particular moment when you would have seen the crane tip over, you might have lost your faith. So I took you away from the scene.»

Once Sri Aurobindo was asked if faith had necessarily to be blind and He said, «If it is not blind, it is not faith.» That is how Aurofood started.



Udar was very closely connected with Auroville in the beginning. On the inauguration day he was the «Master of Ceremonies». There was no one in the Ashram who could translate the ‘Charter of Auroville’ into the Russian language so Mother sent him to Madras to the Russian Embassy to get this done. Mother had also put him on the committee for Industries at Auroville.



Auroville Charter

28 February 1968

1) Auroville belongs to nobody in particular. Auroville belongs to humanity as a whole

But to live in Auroville one must be the willing servitor of the Divine Consciousness.

2) Auroville will be the place’ of an unending education, of constant progress, and a youth that never ages.

3) Auroville wants to be the bridge between the past and the future. Taking advantage of all discoveries from without and from within, Auroville will boldly spring towards future realizations.

4) Auroville will be a site of material and spiritual researches for a living embodiment of an actual human unity.

The Mother’s sign

Mother asked me to be the Master of Ceremonies for the Inauguration because She wanted somebody there through whom Her Force could act. One day, prior to this, She called me. She wanted every country to accept the Charter of Auroville and to send a representative to the Inauguration ceremony. But all the communist countries, led by Russia, refused to participate, because they could not accept the line in the Charter about «willing servitors of the Divine Consciousness.»

She told me, «I want you to go to the Consul-General of Russia and speak to him about this.»

«What shall I say?» 1 asked.

«I’ll put in your mouth what you have to say.»

So I went to meet him and he told me, «We like the idea of Auroville very much, but can’t accept that line because we don’t believe in God.»

So I said, «Let’s see what you can accept. Do you believe in progress?»

«Yes, of course. But progress towards what?»

«Just progress. What about progress toward Perfection?» I asked. He liked that one very much.

«This could be a new slogan for the Communist Party!»

So then I said, «What about progress towards Ultimate Perfection?»

«These are just big empty words,» he answered.

«Well, what is the meaning of zero or infinity?

They have no meaning, but they are essential for mathematics.»

«All right,» he said, «I’ll accept Ultimate Perfection.»

«But that is the Divine,» I explained.

«Is that so?» he answered. «Then we’ll accept it.»

That is how the two Russian children came to the Inauguration ceremony.


One morning Mother came down and told me, «Udar, I had a wonderful vision last night.» She told me to take notes and She described it: She called it the «Temple of the Soul.» Then She told me to make a drawing of it. When I brought it back, She told me, «You’ve got it exactly.» She gave it to Roger Anger to work upon. This was the beginning of Matrimandir.


Sri Aurobindo’s Action

On the 29th February 1956, the Mother announced the manifestation of the supramental consciousness and light and force. Later Mother said that it was an event forerunner of the birth of a new world. I recommend that all should read what Mother has said on this, ‘The Great Adventure’. This can be found in part from The Bulletin of the Sri Aurobindo International Centre of Education, Nov. 1957, p. 93 and another part in Questions and Answers 1957-1958 pp. 129-131. It is after reading this that you will realise what an exciting and important moment is now on us.

Then on the 1st January 1970 this force came into a definite phase of action, the first step as it were, the force to create the Superman. The descent of this force was felt by me and others at the Ashram and it was then that the Mother explained what it was and said that Sri Aurobindo had Himself come into Action in the world. The movement ‘Sri Aurobindo’s Action’ started from that day.


In 1970 when Udar had been speaking to Mother about the degeneration of India, Sri Aurobindo’s Action was founded in June that year with Mother as its Permanent President and Udar as the Secretary. Mother gave him the Mantra for the country:

Supreme Lord, Eternal Truth

Let us obey Thee alone

And live according to Truth.

A man of action, he toured various parts of the country with others to give talks on Sri Aurobindo’s Action.

Sri Aurobindo’s Action journal
Jan 2002

Udar and I travelled together all over India and shared our aspirations and work together. And as my elder brother, he extended loving care and guidance to me at every step of our joint work. During our tour he delivered nearly 250 lectures-all extempore – with force of inspiration and leonine courage.

His devotion to the Mother was and is exemplary, and whenever I think of him, I feel as though he is imparting to me this sincerity and the delight of that devotion.


Udar came the other day to explain the genesis and aims of Sri Aurobindo’s Action. He quoted Mother as saying: Conditions in India are critical and a foreign conquest and domination is possible. No amount of military and other preparations can avert the danger. That is because these difficult conditions have been deliberately created – to force a change...

The change has to be in individuals. Leaders also have to change, but as individuals... Sri Aurobindo’s teachings show the way. His word has to reach the people. Its Power is active and it will work. The aim of this Movement is to carry this Word of Power to the country.

Thus the work of this movement is totally different from that of other units so far. They aim to bring people here; this works to take Sri Aurobindo to them.

M.P. Pandit
diary notes 11.8.1970

In India we know that souls are not equal. From ancient times we have known that there are very highly evolved souls, but the largest number of souls are those just emerging out of the animal consciousness. So if you go by majority you will take the lowest consciousness of the people. That is why this democracy for India is completely false.


It’s not easy to predict who will open to Mother’s. Force. When China attacked India, our army was in utter disarray. There was nothing to stop the Chinese forces advancing deep into India. Mother was displeased and kept repeating, «They must go away». But then, to everybody’s surprise,-they turned round and went back. When I asked Mother what had happened, she said, «They were more open to me than the Indians.»


Income tax is based on all kinds of rules and regulations and whatever they do people are cleverer than the government, they find ways to cheat and circumvent the rules. But in India if you ask them to give to the Divine, they are very willing – for that people must be made conscious that India is not a country, a piece of land, but the Divine Mother, the one they worship as Bharat Mata.- Don’t ask them to give to you, but to give to the Mother. They will give, money will just pour in, in unbelievable quantities.


Mother told me on another occasion what would be a spiritually guided government and what it would do. The first thing this government would do is to declare India a free country, free of many regulations. No passport, no visa; anybody can come, anybody can go. No import/export restriction; anything can come in and go out.

Let things come in and out freely. All these duty restrictions are hampering the trade. People are afraid of such freedom but it will be a marvellous thing and people will benefit from it. Even if wrong people come in, what does it matter? Such a spiritually guided government will stamp out the wrong movements automatically.


Udar says that Mother told him this morning that the situation in India was grave. A great calamity threatens the country. He asked if we could do anything. Mother answered that the time for doing had gone. She was concentrating upon it all the 24 hours. Then Udar asked Mother to give a Mantra with which we could pray. She went into trance and then gave the Prayer:

«Supreme Lord, Eternal Truth

Let us obey Thee alone and live according to Truth»

Udar wants it in Sanskrit before he leaves for Delhi tomorrow. I am taking it to Jagannath to express it in Sanskrit verse. Mother said She wanted to hear it. I read it. She nodded... Udar met me again. He said Champaklal has asked Mother what was the difference between mantra and prayer. Almost the same, – but with the difference; prayer is from the psychic, mantra in the mind.

It struck me how close She is to the derivation: manana trayate mantrah...’ She told me that there is a vibration in the mantra, mental understanding and stability are brought upon it. In prayer there is intensity of aspiration, canalisation of emotions. If both are combined, the results are wonderful.

M.P. Pandit
diary notes 6.6.1971, pp. 191-192

Youth Camp

At the present moment we are busy with the arrangements of the First Youth Camp being organised by us in co-operation with the Government of India in connection with the Sri Aurobindo Birth Centenary Celebration program.

This scheme is briefly as follows. It is proposed to have one camp every month for fifteen days. Twenty selected youths will participate in each camp, drawn generally from one particular zone of the country in each camp. This is to give some cohesiveness and yet to make the camps broad-based.

The youth will generally be selected from colleges, but there will also be a proportion for non-student youth. It is suggested that the selection will be made from chosen high schools and colleges by the principals as a result of oratorical or essay contests on the five works of Sri Aurobindo connected with this movement, i.e. The Ideal of Human Unity, The Human Cycle, The Foundations of Indian Culture, A System of National Education and the first three chapters of The Supramental Manifestation Upon Earth.

An Appeal to the Youth:

Let us get together and work together for a new world. It is now pressing to be born so let us together see how we can bring about the most favorable conditions for the new life which, after all, you yourselves are going to inherit and then pass on to future generations.

Let us first see what each of us has to offer in this dialogue which we now propose. On your side you have energy, vitality, zest, a deep dissatisfaction with the existing state of things and a burning wish for a change – for a revolution. On our side we bring a sense of direction and a great inspiration and guidance combined with the drive of a great force for realisation. If these can be put to work together there is nothing that can stop us. Please let us try to do this – for our country and for the world, for the present and for the future.

The great force for realisation, which we have mentioned, is that given to us by Sri Aurobindo. That is why we call this movement as His Action.

(in his address to the Youth Camp)

Commerce under Sri Aurobindo’s Guidance

Truth, Surrender, Business

Such a mix up, at first sight! What have these three in common? Let us find out by first defining, or rather getting at the essence of the meaning of these three words. About Truth first. In Savitri Sri Aurobindo says,

«And Truth has her throne on the shadowy back of doubt.» p. 4

This is not very encouraging for the seeker of Truth. It is indeed so that the moment one speaks of Truth, doubt first throws its shadow. In the book, Champaklal Speaks, he recounts the story of Mother asking those with Her what each understood by this very word ‘Truth’, and She liked best the answer given by Champaklal which was:

C.U.S.A.G. – 6th March 1973. Commerce under Sri Aurobindo’s Guidance, blessings,

«There is no need to define truth; if one is sincere, one knows what truth is.»

This can also be seen in the little story that follows. There was once at Madras an American scientist with a very keen and highly developed mind who was in charge of a large project there. He was a good friend of mine and we had had several discussions on Yoga, particularly the Integra] Yoga of Sri Aurobindo. But he always affirmed with great insistence that unless his mind could fully comprehend a thing he could not accept it as true. But once he did make an admission to me which, he said, he had never made to anyone else. There had been certain brief moments in his life when he came face to face with something which he knew with absolute certainly, was the Truth and yet could not understand with his mind why it was so. Hence he did grudgingly admit that there may be a higher instrument of knowledge than the mind, although he was not prepared to agree with what I explained to him quoting from Sri Aurobindo and the Mother that the mind is not at all an instrument of knowledge; it is an instrument for using and organising the knowledge that comes in through a higher faculty.

So much for Truth. What of surrender and how does it come in? Again turning to Sri Aurobindo in Savitri we find:

«This Light comes not by struggle or by thought; «

In the mind’s silence the Transcendent acts

And the hushed heart bears the unuttered Word.

A vast surrender was his only strength.»

How does surrender bring strength? It is because one does not have to depend on one’s own direction which most often is obscure and leads to difficulties and defeat. In surrendering to a higher knowledge and guidance one can be certain of the way and is not afraid or worried. Then, as Sri Aurobindo has written in the Karmayogin «one works perfectly and with love and zeal and casts away the anxiety for results and is neither eager for victory nor afraid of defeat.»

Here is an example:

Once there was an American lady in the Ashram who became mentally deranged and Mother asked me to take her at once to the hospital at Vellore, about 150 miles from Pondicherry. They have a fine psychiatric department there and also it is run by Americans. So I arranged to take the lady there at once by car. There was another American lady who accompanied us as she also wanted some medical treatment. This other lady asked me if I had telephoned the Vellore Hospital and made an appointment etc. I said that there was no time for all this. Mother had said to go at once and so I was going as quickly as possible. The lady gave me a long lecture on what she said was the wrong way I was doing Mother’s work. I should do it as perfectly as possible and make all arrangements ahead etc., etc. In short, she gave me a lecture on how I should do the Yoga, I replied that I was just following Mother’s orders implicitly and that was my way. The lady was not satisfied. When we reached the Vellore Hospital, I saw a man coming down the stairs and asked him to direct us to the psychiatry department. He smiled and said that he was the doctor concerned and if I had come earlier or later I would not have met him. The mentally deranged lady was admitted within a few minutes. The other lady who had given me the long lecture was silent and saw clearly now how an act of unquestioning acceptance and surrender can work.

But what has all this to do with business? This can be again best explained by another story. Early in 1973 someone wanted to start a chain of stores as work for the Mother and asked for Her Blessings through me and for a name for the business. The Mother gave Her Blessings and a wonderful name ‘Commerce Under Sri Aurobindo’s Guidance’. Later on, when I found that this was not being taken up seriously Mother told me that She had given that name for me to use and further explained that it was an extension of Sri Aurobindo’s Action whereby His Light and Force would enter into what was a dark and false area and so bring the power of money under the direction of the Light of the Truth. There was a still darker area beyond this, Mother said, that of politics and She asked me if I was ready for that. I prayed to Mother to please save me from this pit. Mother laughed and said, «All right, not now, Udar. But later, the day will come when His Light must enter there also. No part of human life can be left out of His work of transformation.»


Low Cost Housing

The Orissa Mining Corporation wanted houses for the miners at their Iron Ore Project at Daitari. The plan that I eventually made was for a single Prototype House with two rooms, 340 x 260 cms in size, a kitchen cum dining room of 480 x 140, a bathroom of 110 x 140 and W.C. of 90 x 140, the whole covering a plinth area of 34.04 square meters which is 386 square feet.

The plans called for the foundations and plinth in solid cement – concrete blocks and the walls in hollow blocks. The roof design was the most interesting part as we proposed to make them in Ferro-Cement, catenary curved. Now Ferro-Cement for roofing is being used very widely in other countries but has not yet been introduced into India. As far as I know, except at Auroville and in the Ashram, it has not been done anywhere in India and several engineers have not even heard of it. So it is really a new technique for India.

To build these roofs and learn the technique myself I had to request the help of Pierre who had worked on this in France and then at Auroville and now also at the Ashram. He came with Gerard to build the two roofs of the house. Anil pf H.E.C. also sent his supervisor, Mr. lyer, to help me. Then, again, the Concrete Association of India, Calcutta, were most helpful. They sent me first their technical expert and then their demonstrator to actually have the blocks made at the site.

The roofs were made in Ferro-Cement cast in-situ, with the steel mesh etc. also placed and tied in-situ. It has a thickness of only 3 cms. Then over this we gave a plaster coat made from iron ore dust, sand and mica. This gives it not only a waterproof surface but also a heat and cold insulation. The roofs were then painted white.

The house looks really beautiful – all dark red, with white roofs against the deep green of the forest. One can get some idea from the photograph but not as much as if it were a coloured print.


The Drought in Orissa

1 have a very positive proposition to make on the subject of drought in Orissa. I had already foreseen this drought in 1975 and had made my proposals very forcefully but they were turned down or shelved by the powers that be because they were quite unusual and different from traditional thinking. So now I repeat, in brief, my proposals here so that the people affected may know of them and press for their implementation after they have been proved by trial.

The proposal I have made is that which is known as Soilless Culture. This system is being largely used in other countries particularly in Israel and the desert areas of the USA so why should it not be used in India? Much research has already been done in this system and it is quite well known but all these experiments have been on a small scale or in demonstration units. It has never been taken up for actual implementation anywhere in India. So Orissa can give a lead to the whole country if it takes it up soon.

By this method, large quantities of food grain and vegetables can be grown with the use of very little water when compared with normal soil farming. This is because the water used is constantly recycled and not v j lost into the soil as in ordinary farming.

The plants are grown in beds constructed in masonry above the ground, filled with inert material like sand and gravel which is thoroughly washed and sterilised. The food for the plants is dissolved in water stored in a Nutrient Tank. The nutrient solution is pumped into the beds and brought back at once into the tank. So once the tank is full it serves for one full crop season and needs only a little make-up water daily. Hence the system is quite independent of rain or irrigation canals or bore wells etc.

28th December 1976

Envoy to the US

In 1972 the Government of India decided that as part of Sri Aurobindo’s Centenary Celebrations they would finance the overseas visit of two persons, one eastwards and one to the West. The Mother chose me to be sent out west and I began to get ready for the long tour to Europe, America and Canada, which would be for about 3 to 4 months. Then when I was ready to leave I informed the Mother of it and She suddenly asked me how I felt about going out. I answered that I was happy to do so because She had given me this task and it was always a joy for me to do such things as the Mother Herself had asked me to. But She insisted that She saw some hesitation in me all the same.


The Mother then asked me why I had this hesitation and I had to give the real reason which was that ever since I had come to Her, more than 30 years back, I had never left Her for so long a time and this made me a bit sad. Then She said in a very serious tone, «Udar, I give you my solemn promise that wherever you are and whenever it is needed I shall be closer to you than I am now, sitting in front of you.» Then when I was in the USA. She sent me by post, of Her own accord, a card on which She had written


13.10.72 Always with you Udar with my love and blessing.

(Signed) The Mother.

The Mother had sent Udar to America in 1972/1973 and I had the grace and the great good fortune to hear him speak on behalf of Her at the University of Colorado that winter. I walked into the auditorium when Udar was reciting ‘The Hour of God’. I’ll never forget his nobility of bearing and tremendous dignity. In the United States at that time, there were a great many vain impostors and charlatans who were posing as gurus and I had become cynical about the whole lot of them!

But then there was Udar, and I understood that he was transmitting something that was true. This was a pivotal moment in my life, which eventually led to my coming to the Ashram.


When I reached America, they began to call me ‘swamiji’. I looked to see if there was anyone else around! I told them, «I am not a swami, I am just an ordinary person whom Mother has sent to speak on Sri Aurobindo.»

I had a wonderful trip to America. I found the people generous and warm. We were often treated as guests at restaurants. People helped us freely on the road when our van broke down. In private homes we were received with gracious hospitality.


While I was visiting America, there was a three-day seminar at Cornell University – an inter-religious conference. Leaders of all the world religions were invited. My hosts tried to get me on the program, but the offer was declined because the conference had been planned two years earlier. However, they said, I could come and participate in the discussions, so I agreed.

Suddenly 1 received a call from them that the main speaker had fallen ill. Could 1 come and replace him? I said, «Yes.» They asked me to send a speech, but I wrote that I only spoke extempore.

This was accepted, and all throughout I felt Mother’s presence and help, even saw Her face before me. The Mother had told me before I left India, «You have ‘; only to call me and I will be with you at once, at every moment 1 will be with you.»


Pamphlet Text

Guest Speaker: UDAR PINTO

Udar Pinto has boon sent to America by the Indian government’s Council for Cultural Relations as part of the centenary celebration of Sri Aurobindo, the great Indian revolutionary,, poet and sage.Udar Pinto 3,3 an Indian from the state or Goa. Ho Is a physicist with a degree from the University of Bombay and also a decree in Engineering from the University of London, along with a diploma in aeronautical design and construction.

He joined the Sri Aurobindo Ashram in 1937. He established many of its industrial departments and other projects, and is now its secretary. He has a long-standing personal and political friendship with Indira Gandhi.

Since 1970 Udar has been developing a movement called Sri Aurobindo’s Action. He has been travelling, widely through India talking to groups of people of all social and economic levels on the various social, political, economic and educational matters that they are concerned with, in an effort to help them approach these areas of life with a spiritual consciousness.

Udar’s talks, based on the vision of Sri Aurobindo, will stress the importance of the relationship of America with India in mankind’s quest for a better world.

Public Meeting, Web. Oct 18th, 8:00pm, Oct 18th, 8:00pm, Arlingto St. Church, !free!

One day I asked her, before going to America, when She told me She would be with me at all times, «But Mother how will I know it is you?»

She said, «You have asked me a very good question. Because there are forces, which will immediately try to deceive. But if you ask me in all sincerity, then be sure that I will come. Falsehood cannot pass through the veil of sincerity.»


Informal discussion, USA – 1972

Udar always said that he had seen aristocrats, great men and kings, but he had never seen majesty until he saw Sri Aurobindo. I believe that that day in winter 1973 Udar communicated some of our Master’s majestic qualities. I am ever grateful.


Guest Speaker, USA – 1972


Guard of Honour for prime Minister J.Nehru – 16th Jan.1955

Prime Minister J.Nehru – 16th Jan.1955. Playground

The Mother with prime Minister J.Nehru – 16th Jan.1955. Playground


Visit of K.M. Munshi Madhav, Nolini, Udar, Charupada

Visit of C.C. Deshmukh – 1955 at Golconde

Visit of Rajkumari Amrit Kaur – 1956 at the Samadhi

Visit of Sardar Swaran Singh – 1st March 1956 at the Samadhi

Visit of Vinoba Bhave – Auge. 1956 Udar, Madhav, Volini, Indra Sen

Visit of Laxmi Menon, Vice Minister of Foreign Affairs

Visit of Savitri Ganesan Ashram courtyard

Visit of General Carriappa – 1st April 1960

Visit of Manubhai Shah Udar, Nolini, Surendra Mohan Ghosh, Manubhai Shah, Navajat

Visit of M.E. Allen, Col. Rathaswamy, K.S. Sesham, M. Macdonald, Udar – 3rd May 1960

Visit of American Ambassador Bunker – Aug. 1960

Visit of Prime Minister J.Nehru to the Library; 13th June 1963 – Nolini, Medhananda,Ke

Visit of Prime Minister J.Nehru with Nolini – 1963

Visit of Prime Minister J.Nehru to the Sports Ground – 13th June 1963

Visit of Prime Minister J.Nehru with Udar – 1963

Mme Kobayashi and friends

Mme Kobayashi and friends

Udar, Rutledge B.Tompkins (Rear Admiral, Retd.US Navy

Visit of the Princess of Greece

Visit of American students – Jan.1970

Visit of General Chowdhury – March 1966

Sri Aurobindo Exhibition in Delhi Chief Guest – Prime Minister Indira Gandhi – 6th Oct.1967 Yuvarani Karan Singh, Himanshu Neogi, Udar, Arindam

Yuvaraj and Yuvarani Karan Singh at the Savitri Exhibition

Visit of Yuvaraj and Yuvarani Karan Singh 22nd Oct.1970. Udar, Kireet, Charupad

Prime Minister Indira Gandhi’s visit to the Mother – 12th Feb. 1971

Prime Minister Indra Gandhi’s after seeing the Mother – 12th Feb. 1971

George’s Nakashima’s visit – 1986

Visit of a French Minister

Prime Miniter Indira Gandhi – at the Dining Room – 17th Feb.1974

Visit of madam Jivkova, Minister for Cultural Affairs, Bulgraria – 1976

Many guests visited the Ashram over the years. Some sadhaks were asked by the Mother to look after them and show them places of interest in the Ashram and answer any questions they might have. Udar was often one of these guides. Here are some of the guests who came.

Vinoba Bhave was known for his great moral qualities and his selflessness in the Bhoodan movement but his spiritual qualities were not appreciated. This was seen by us when he visited us here, and when he went to the Mother. She also confirmed it. He made a significant remark to Her which shows his spiritual understanding. He himself being an ascetic type with a very simple style of living could well have been shocked by the apparent luxurious living in our Ashram. The Mother’s expression of beauty and harmony in our material surroundings is mistaken for luxury.

But Vinoba said to the Mother that to do Yoga in bare simple surroundings is difficult enough but to do the great Yoga of Sri Aurobindo in such surroundings as His Ashram, surroundings of beauty and material comforts, is much more are in difficult, and he appreciated the Mother’s great endeavour in this.


The Mother’s replies to visiting students from America, January 1970:

After Blessings and flowers had been received from the Mother, some questions were put and the Mother gave answers.

Q: They want to know what is the true meaning of Confidence.

The Mother: You must have confidence in the right thing. To have confidence in the wrong thing is dangerous.

Q: But they want to know the meaning of Confidence.

The Mother: The meaning of the word?

Q: Yes.

The Mother: Confidence means trust. Have trust in the Divine Grace. But you must know what it is in which you are having trust.

Q: Then Mother, the question arises: what is the Divine?

The Mother: They want to know the meaning of the Divine?

Q: Yes.

The Mother: (After some silence) The Perfection that you have to realise, not necessarily in this life, that Perfection is the Divine.

Q: What should be the aim of our life?

The Mother: Materially speaking, to be clever, spiritually speaking, to be sincere.

Q: What is the nature of responsibility?

The Mother: Power and sincerity and also straightforwardness.

Report by Udar, approved by the Mother

Mother sent Udar several times to Delhi to convey messages to Indira Gandhi. The first time Udar asked, «But how should I introduce myself?» So she wrote, «Udar is one of my secretaries...» He was on friendly terms with Indira and that must have stirred many discussions with Mother about politics. Once She told him, «India’s true spiritual party may come with a one-line program only: ‘come and join us and work for the Divine’. People in India have the inner sight to recognise such a true movement and they will join by the thousands and give whatever they have; so no law, no tax, no rule save one: serve the Divine».

Olivier P.


Long years ago, Champaklal preserved very carefully Sri Aurobindo’s and the Mother’s hair and their nails when they were trimmed. He preserved them carefully in small boxes with the date marked on them. Later, after 1950 when Sri Aurobindo was no more in the physical body slowly the centres from all over the country and even the world started requesting the Mother for these ‘relics’.

The relics were installed at the Bangavani centre in Nabadwip, West Bengal, on 21st February 1959. There is an account of it by one of the devotees present. They were nails and hair taken from Sri Aurobindo on August 25th, 1950. The Mother herself sewed up the Relics into a brocade bag with a brocade thread, then put it into a small gold box, the symbol of Supermind; then put the gold box into a silver box, the symbol of Over- mind; the silver box into a sandal wood box, the symbol of Higher Mind; the sandal wood box into a rose wood box, the symbol of Material Mind; hen Mother tied it up with a silk handkerchief used by Sri Aurobindo during his last Darshan. Then Mother covered it up with a piece of red silk cloth, put it into a plastic bag, made it airtight. Then she put the whole thing into a stone casket made for the purpose and Udar cemented it up. «Sri Aurobindo sharanam mama» chanted Champaklal. Mother presented each of us with a card with Sri Aurobindo sharanam mama [Sri Aurobindo is my refuge] printed on it and with blessings written by her own hand. We were twelve of her Selection for the ceremony.

Later Udar himself took the relics to many places, including the Aravind Eye Hospitals.


Aravind Eye Hospital

One of India’s great visionaries in the field of medicine was Dr. G. Venkataswamy of Madurai. He is well-known all over the world for the wonderful work he has done to prevent blindness and restore sight. Aravind Eye Hospitals are the largest and some of the best run in the world with three fourths of the patients being operated free of charge. The cost of their care being subsidised by the patients who pay. His large and hardworking family support him all the way.

Udar was a close friend of Dr. Venkataswamy. He used to recite Savitri ‘to him whenever he visited Pondicherry. He also carried and installed the Relics of Sri Aurobindo at each new branch of Aravind Eye Hospital that was opened in South India.

In my life I have been blessed with my long contact with Sri Aurobindo Ashram. I had the privilege of having the Darshan of Sri Aurobindo on 24th April 1950. Since then I have been visiting the Ashram regularly. Sometime in 1956 or perhaps a little later I had the opportunity to treat some of the Ashram patients who had eye problems. We even did some surgery for some of the patients in the Tresor House. Gradually I made several friends at the Ashram and it was then that I met Shri Udar Pinto.

Dr. G. Venkataswamy

I enjoyed listening to him telling us about several incidents in his life with Sri Aurobindo and the Mother. Every year he would give us the Ashram diaries and calendars. We requested him to bring Sri Aurobindo’s relics to our hospitals to which he readily agreed. He brought the relics to the Aravind Eye Hospital in Madurai, Tirunelveli and Coimbatore. We felt really blessed on these occasions.

Dr. G. Venkataswamy

For many years Udar suffered from cataract in his eyes. Mother told him not to get operated and to try to find other cures and that it will help others that way. So he went out of his way to try all possible treatments. None worked and he bore the disease for many years. In the meantime he had become friends with Dr. Venkataswamy who told him one day that unless he gets his eyes operated he will lose his eyesight permanently. This convinced him to have an operation, yet one cannot but wonder how and why a sadhak with cataract meets the genius who gives back sight to cataract-stricken Indians by the thousands.

Olivier P.

He had both his eyes operated at Aravind, Madurai. I remember he was not the least bit afraid of surgery and kept his calm throughout. He surprised the surgeon operating on him by singing during the surgery. I remember the surprised surgeon saying that he had heard of surgeons singing during the surgery but this was the first time that he had heard the patient sing. At the time he was operated we had not yet introduced intraocular lenses. And so we gave him contact lenses.

Once he dropped one of the contact lenses and as we all bent down to look for it, he stopped us saying, «Now let me drop the 2nd one and you all watch where it goes.» And sure enough just an inch away from the second one lay the first one.

Dr. G. Natchiar


Laurence Marshal Pinto – later known as Udar, had his early education at St. Mary’s School at Hubli. Later he went to St. Joseph’s European and Anglo-Indian High School at Bangalore. After passing the Senior Cambridge and High School he joined the Karnatak College at Dharwar. (He was fond of acting on the stage and took part in many plays. This love of acting held his interest even while he was in the Ashram and he took part in several plays.)


I was brought up in a Roman Catholic family; I really wanted to practise my religion. Not out of fear but out of love. Therefore I prayed a lot to the Virgin Mary I didn’t get very much response. Then I began to take much interest in communion; I began to take interest in the body of Christ and I made a special effort to be what they called a ‘daily communicant’. I took communion every day for one full year. Imagine a young boy doing that. There were some questions that puzzled me but I put them aside. There must have been something in me, because when I got an attack of typhus fever – doctors say that it comes at a moment of crisis and if you come out of that crisis you are safe. I was coming to that critical moment, my mother was sleeping with me, my temperature had risen to 105.

«This is the critical point, if he passes that he will be saved,» said the doctors.

I was sleeping. In the middle of the night I woke up my mother, and cried «Ma, Ma, look!»

I was thrilled by my vision. My mother thought that my soul was going away. But I had some spiritual experience. They told me afterward that my eyes were shining, that 1 looked inspired. I wish I could remember. After that I recovered.

Aircraft designers were few in those days and Udar was offered very lucrative employment in England itself but he chose to return to India as he considered it his holy Motherland.

There was not even a hope of aeroplane construction in India then. There was only one Air Service, of two small planes, between Bombay and Karachi. So Udar had to look for other means of earning.

He tried to start Electric Supply Companies at Vijayanagram and at Behrampur (Ganjam) but these came to nothing. He spent several months in these two towns in 1934.

In 1935 he came to Pondicherry to do an export business in partnership with a local French firm. At that time Pondicherry was a free port and export business was easy and profitable.

I had come to Pondicherry around 1934 to earn money so that I could get married and Pondicherry was a good place for this. I joined Mr. Robert Gaebele in an export business and made quite enough money for my

So this is something which means that there must have been in my soul something that wanted to open. Then little by little that devotion cooled down. Practice became a habit rather than a faith. I began to have friends and do naughty things, just for the fun of it. I became a bit of a naughty boy. 1 wasn’t very happy with the priests, they beat us so much.


He was named Laurence Marshal Pinto. After getting his bachelor’s degree in Bombay he left for England where he studied aeronautical engineering. During the years there as a student he met and fell in love with Mona. They took the decision to get married though neither his family nor hers approved. So he decided to earn enough money to be able to get married and to live independently.

Golden Chain

Mona at 21

Mona and Udar’s wedding in Pondicherry 6th Feb.1937

Udar with his brothers and sister – Joe, Amy, Udar, Millie, Wilfy

Mona and Gauri – 1939

Udar and Gauri – 16th March 1938


Front (form left): Udar, Gauri, Ambu, Nishtha (UP President wilson,s daughter); behind: Meenakshi, Ansuya, Mona, Doraiswami


Little House during World war II. William (Mona’s brother), Ambu, Mona, Nishtha, Udar


On the way to put up a noice


Udar with challi Denise – 1968


... asked Mona to come out to India. She arrived in January 1937.

From 1934 to 1937, though I had been in Pondicherry most of the time and had many friends in the Ashram, I had never entered the Ashram main building or felt like going for a Darshan or anything like that. I was just busy making money and having a good time. My friends in the Ashram were first Amal (K.D. Sethna), Purani, Ambu, Dr. Ramchandra and some others. Amal was quite close and we had lots of good times together – so much so in fact that, as I learned later, the Mother Herself intervened. She told me this one day. She said that Amal would report to Her on all the things we did together and one day She said:

«This Pinto! He is leading my children astray. I will teach him a lesson!» And She certainly did – a great lesson and so wonderful. She tied me up, hands and feet and head and all, into a helpless bundle with the golden cords of Her Love and Joy. I said all this to the Mother and She laughed.

«The streams of heaven shall murmur in her laugh.» Savitri p. 346

Although I come from a Christian Roman Catholic family we are pure Indians, Saraswat Brahmins, who had been converted to Christianity long back, at Goa, by the Portuguese. Now, though my forefathers became Christian they kept very strictly to the old social customs. So, as Brahmins we live apart in Bhammon Vados and when marrying we have to marry strictly within our community. I was perhaps the first in my family to break that tradition.


The connection with the Ashram came 6th Feb. 1937 with the visits of Ambu and Amal Kiran to his house. His circle of friends from the Ashram began to grow and one day they suggested he should show the Ashram to his English wife. Amal got permission for them to go for the August Darshan of 1937. This Darshan became the turning point of his life. He had a wonderful experience when he saw Sri Aurobindo. «At last I have seen true majesty!» he said, for though Sri Aurobindo wore only a simple dhoti and chaddar he looked like an emperor.

Golden Chain

Slowly after this he came closer to the Ashram, more particularly to the Mother, he was caught irrevocably and totally in the magic of Her love. His family was assimilated into the larger family of the Ashram. On the 26th April 1938, Sri Aurobindo gave him his new name «Udar- Udara in Sanskrit- noble, generous, upright and sincere.»

Golden Chain

During the Second World War, Sri Aurobindo encouraged him to go to Delhi to help recruit and train the staff of the newly formed Indian Air Force. After a year there, he returned for good to Pondicherry, having sold off his property in Hubli and offering the money to the Mother. Now all his time and energy were for Her work.

Golden Chain

The stand taken by Sri Aurobindo and the Mother was that this war (WW II) was not really a war between nations but a great struggle between the forces of evolutionary progress-the Divine forces against the anti-evolutionary forces – the anti-Divine. And Sri Aurobindo made a public contribution towards the Allies War Fund to express His full support to them. He also asked His disciples to do all they could to help the Allied war effort.

It was in connection with this that Udar accepted the invitation from the Government of India to help organise a training scheme proposed to be set up by the Department of Civil Aviation to select and train young men and then send them to the Indian Air Force which was just then being built up. What was required was not only pilots but all sorts of other workers like ground engineers, mechanics, wireless operators, etc.

Udar, with Mona and Gauri, went to Delhi early in 1941 for this work. By the end of the year, the work had been so well organised that 12,000 young men had been selected, given a basic training of 4 months each and sent on to the India Air Force. Then Udar came back to the Ashram at the end of 1941 with Mona and Gauri.

This war (WW II) was a very crucial one. If the powers of Darkness were to win, the whole progress of the world in its evolutionary ascent would be put back for a very long time. And so it was most necessary that the forces of Light should win. That is why Sri Aurobindo and the Mother took so much interest in the way the war was moving and They had to be kept informed of the developments from day to day.

The news was broadcast daily by radio but there was no radio-receiver in the Ashram at that time. We had one at the house where I and my family were living at that time, the one near the Pare a Charbon, and every night Pavitra and Pavita would come to our house for the 9.30 p.m. news broadcast and Pavita would take it down in shorthand and later transcribe her notes and send them to Sri Aurobindo.


Once I said to the Mother, in Her room on the second floor, that I knew very clearly that whenever She asked any of us to do something, She gave us the power and the means to do it. The Mother replied that it was so. Then I said, «Mother, if you asked me to jump out of this window I would do it without a moment’s hesitation as I know that if you asked me to do so, I will not fall but float in the air.» The Mother replied that surely it would be so and then I said, «Please ask me to jump, Mother! I want to do it now!» She laughed and said, «Wait till the right time and I will ask you.» So I am waiting.


One day, in the morning, after Balcony Darshan when Mother would give some of us a flower each and talk at times, there was a mention of Sri Aurobindo’s poem A God’s Labour. Mother said that when She first read the poem She went at once to Sri Aurobindo and said to Him, «Lord, what have you done! In this poem of yours, you have exposed my secrets to the whole world.» Sri Aurobindo just gave a loving smile, Mother added.

This poem is truly a poem about the Mother.

Then Chinmayi asked me if I had read the poem myself. I said I most certainly had. She then asked me if I knew it by heart. I replied that I had not committed it to memory but could do so easily. I felt I could do it and said so. Chinmayi was surprised and turning to Mother she said, «Look, Mother, Udar says he can learn the poem by heart between now and lunchtime. Can he do it?» There were five to six hours in which to commit to memory the thirty-one stanzas, each of four lines.

Mother asked me, «Can you?»

«I feel that I can,» I replied.

Mother then said, «Very good! Go learn it by heart and then you will recite it to me.»

I went home and I began to learn the thirty-one stanzas by heart. It was not difficult. At lunchtime, Mother asked me if I was ready to recite the poem by heart. And I did without a single mistake or even any hesitation. Then I knew that in setting this task before me, She had given me Her Grace and the capacity to do it, and so I was able to do it so well. This is Her way of working. We must be ready to take up anything She says we could do and however difficult it is, She will give us the capacity to do it.


Udar was dressed today in Kurta, dhoti, chaddar etc. he says that every time he goes to Mother in this starts laughing and exclaims, «Who is this lady coming!» to make Mother laugh,» he adds.

M.P. Pandit
diary notes 1.1.1972

One day I asked the Mother, «I have been doing the yoga for many years but I am not absolutely certain how to do the yoga of Sri Aurobindo. I read all the books and try to do the yoga but 1 am not certain how far I have progressed.» I asked the Mother to help me.

«You are doing it all wrong,» She said.

«But what shall I do?» I asked.

She replied, «I will do the yoga for you.» I was thrilled! «What do I have to do?» I then asked.

«Give’ yourself over to me and I will do it for you,» She said.

I asked, «How do I surrender?» She asked me, «Do you sincerely want to?» I answered, «Yes, certainly Mother.»

Then the Mother asked, «When you get up in the morning what is the first thing you do?’

I said, «I brush my teeth.» She asked, «How do you brush your teeth?’

I wondered, «How?! Like everybody else does.»

She said, «Then you’re doing it unconsciously. Instead, think of me while you’re doing it. Think that I’m doing it. Or when you’re washing your face, think that I’m doing it with you, or when you’re eating that I’m eating with you, that I’m enjoying your food with you.» She added, «When you go to sleep that is the time when you should be very conscious of me. Let me put you to sleep and then the whole night you will have a conscious sleep. When you awake and begin your day you will then begin it in a more conscious way.» So one has to be always consciously aware of Her Presence and remain open to Her.


Memories of Udar – Red rose and radiant smile...


When we were having our meals with the Mother I used to tell Her many stories and She liked them quite a bit. One day She said to me, «You know, Udar, when I was a little girl in France I felt, even then, a great urge to go to India. For one thing I expected good stories, as it was said in France that Indians are great storytellers. But when I did finally come here I did not find the storytellers and I wondered why Indians had such a reputation. But when I met you, I knew.»


These She liked particularly. They are Arab stories, both of them.

There was a rich man who died and left his property to be divided between his two sons. The sons were honest and upright and though they tried very hard they could not arrive at a method of dividing the property between themselves that was satisfactory to both. After months of fruitless effort they finally went to the Sage for his advice and decision. The Sage said, «It is very simple.» Then addressing the elder son he said, «You as the elder, divide the property in two parts – in any way you wish,» and to the younger he said «You as the younger son, you have the first choice.»


Then again there was the rich man who had only two sons who were mad about horses. Each son had a magnificent horse that he boasted was the finest and fastest in the world. Their whole life was centred around their horses till it became an obsession with them. So the rich father, when he died, left his will bequeathing his whole property on the result of a race between the two horses – but not to the winner. It was to the loser of the race. This raised a great problem with the sons. How to have a race in which each one wants to come last. They tried to have it once – and neither horse left the starting line on the starting whistle. So again, in their difficulty, they went to the Sage. «It is very simple,» he said, «your father left his property to the one whose horse lost the race- not the rider. So each of you ride the other one’s horse and ride to win.»


Udar mentions how Mother once told him never to become a cynic and lose faith in others. If that were allowed, Mother said, «The world may call you wise, but spiritually you are dead.»

M.P. Pandit
diary notes 4.8.1972

Udar loved challenges and plenty came on his way. His first one was Harpagon Workshop. Mother gave him Rs.200/- a month and with that he had to buy material and fashion the bolts to make metal fittings for Golconde.

He was an aeronautical engineer and there was no challenge that he refused. He had to buy the raw material, design the bolt and metal fittings and manufacture them for the Golconde building. He did everything with minute detail and perfection. He would somehow find a way to do anything Mother wanted. He had a tremendous power of concentration and energy. Mother relied a lot on him.


This brings me to a very important remembrance of what the Mother said to me. This time it was about the heat. It was around mid summer and some of us were complaining of the heat when the Mother said, «Why do you complain? You feel uncomfortable with the heat, so you complain. But this is because you are fighting the heat. If you can make friends with it and not fight it you will not be uncomfortable and will not need to complain!» The Mother explained that one can make friends with all kinds of weather – not only the heat. One can be friends with the cold also and with rain and snow.

This advice I took very much to heart and I have always tried to be friends with whatever weather I have to face – the heat here, the cold in Europe and America. And I really did not suffer as others did because of my friendliness. Then there is, most particularly, the walking in the sun. Here when the sun is at its highest, and in summer, most people like to walk in the shade; but the Mother explained to me that this is not good. «The sun is our friend,» She said, «our very dear friend, our lover. If we did not have the sun we would suffer very much. So why hide from your lover? Walk in his fullness and let him embrace you with his love. Of course, I know, that sometimes his embrace is a bit too intense and warm, but what to do? If you let him embrace you, he will never harm you and, on the contrary, will give you strength and good health.» I pass on these wonderful words to others so that as many as possible may benefit from them.


An avid, lifelong, enthusiastic learner, Udar began to study Sanskrit at a rather ripe age, in 1980. Each morning he went to Pujalal’s room and learned to recite slokas with him. He was such an enthusiastic and joyous student. In that Udar really exemplified Mother’s adage about how to stay young by always having a progressive attitude.


Mother said that I had been with Sri-Aurobindo and Herself in many previous births. Once, in Delhi, I had been to someone who was supposed to have the capacity to tell you of your previous births. In my case he became very modest and offered to help me find this out myself. So we went together into a deep meditation and there I experienced my association with Sri Aurobindo and the Mother to be right from the beginning of this world, even when there was no life and there was only rock and sand and sea. When I recounted this story to the Mother, She confirmed it at once.


Once he had told me that Mother had recalled to him that in one of his past births he was a Roman emperor; and one could see how even in this life he lived in his inner life like an emperor and how he surrendered at the feet of Sri Aurobindo and the Mother his rich and powerful personality of the emperor. I always felt in his company a great comfort that only a born King can give to his dear ones. His love was aristocratic and generous and even in my difficult days he gave me the assurance of his help and support.

As Mother had said: «Udar has a golden heart» and 1 have experienced the gold of his heart at every important turn of my life. 1 remain indebted to him for ever and ever.


Shri Udar Pinto – his name brings to mind so many pleasant and delightful memories. What appealed to me most was his great sense of humour that accompanied his twinkling eyes and broad smile.

Dr. G. Natchiar

Mona did not want a Portuguese surname so I looked up the old records in Goa and to find our original name which had been changed by the conqueror. Then one day I told the Mother of all this and She said to me, «Why change the surname? It was my own grandmother’s name.» Mother’s own grandmother had the same surname. Indeed, Mother’s maternal grandmother was called ‘Mirra Pinto’ before she became ‘Mirra Ismaloun’ I was again thrilled to hear this and now the name Pinto has become very dear to me.

On Her father’s side She was of pure Arab stock and even Her surname, Alfassa, is Arabic.


«I will always be with you and look after you, constantly call me.» She told me, «People don’t call me enough, don’t ask me enough.»

That was something I never knew, I never thought before. She said, «Ask, ask, go on asking, it does not matter whatever you ask, it is your business to ask, whether I give or not is my business, but there is no harm in asking, ask anything.»

So from that moment, I started asking. I ask for anything, the most insignificant thing, it does not matter. When I go to sleep and want to get up at 3 o’clock, I ask Mother, «Mother will you wake me up at 3 o’clock?» I don’t need an alarm clock.


This promise the Mother is keeping wonderfully well. She is always with me, very, very close and, if I do not realise that sometimes, I have only to call Her and I feel Her presence at once. I have a very strong feeling, too, that the way it all happened shows that somehow the Mother must have been aware that the next year (1973) She would leave us physically and She took this occasion to show how She was not leaving us really but, on the contrary, making it easier for Her to come to us instead of our having to wait to go to Her.

I am also sure that this promise of the Mother is not for me alone. It is to all Her children.


l first met Udar when I was a student in 1974. I had come as Auroville’s first exchange student then. I was staying in Pondicherry at first and was told that Champaklal was going to the Matrimandir. I was told to come along in a jeep with Udar and some others. We missed Champaklal, but Udar suggested we climb the Matrimandir anyway. It was slowly creeping towards sunset and there was a mild breeze and when we got to some point, Udar started reciting Savitri. In one fell swoop I was introduced to Auroville, the Matrimandir, Savitri and Udar. The moment is still very much with me. It was beautiful. I only wish I could remember the lines.

Things till then had been a little confusing. Suddenly, there was a moment of stillness and beauty with a glimpse of something true in the place I was visiting.


«How is the sadhana different for you at this stage in your life? What new forms, if any, has it taken?» asked Anie.

«At this stage of my life, I just want to be always conscious of the Mother’s presence in me. I am always calling Her and She never refuses to come. If I ask Her for anything She gives it to me if it is useful for my sadhana. If not, then I know it is not and I accept that. I have no regrets about anything at all. I am happy to have served the Mother consciously, and I want to be like that up to the end.»



There was a boy and a girl in our Ashram who fell in love with each other and with Mother’s approval, wanted to get married. The girl’s mother wanted the marriage to be performed by one of the Purohits in the Ashram. But due to some reason, the Purohits refused to perform the marriage. The lady was sad about this and wrote to Mother for help and guidance. Mother turned to me and said, «Udar, you are a Brahmin and a priest. So why don’t you be the priest for this marriage?» I was quite taken aback and thought you perhaps Mother was joking but I found Her to be quite serious, so I just kept quiet. Then when I told the lady what Mother had said she was overjoyed and so I had, perforce, to accept the assignment and agree to perform the marriage.

Now I am quite ignorant of how these ceremonies are performed and know only something of the Christian system. So I felt that it would be foolish to try to learn anything about all this now and that it would be best if I made up quite a new ceremony with selections from Savitri. This is what I did.


Mother’s New Room

I will now write about our Sweet Mother’s new rooms, on the second floor. This is how it all started. She had no bedroom, not even a bed to sleep on for over forty years. She never actually slept. She would just ‘retire’ from 2 to 4 a.m. and all were asked not to disturb Her during those two hours. Mother would be working with some of us up to 2 a.m. and then She would start working with others again at 4 a.m. For those two hours, She would sit in Her chair in a meditation rather than sleep and so I say that Mother had not slept for over 40 years.

Then, one day, we suggested that She should have a proper bedroom with a bed and other furniture in it, where She could retire when She wanted to, and take rest. The money for this work was forthcoming and eventually Mother agreed. Then Her bedroom with the attached bathroom was designed, the one She used up to the end. Mother liked this room very much and used it happily but it meant Her having to go up and down the stairs.

Mother had been presented with a wonderful Wurlitzer Electric Organ on which She would play regularly. It was kept in Pavitra’s room. This also She could not use now. Then one day 1 said to Her that unless She played on the Organ from time to time it would get spoiled, and none of us would like to play on Her Organ. So Mother asked me what was to be done and I suggested that we bring the Organ up to Her new room. She refused to agree to this as She said that there was no space for the instrument in Her room: it would upset the balance of the furnishings of the room. So then I suggested that we build a special room next to Her bathroom as there was enough place on the terrace for it. Mother agreed to have a small room, specially for the Organ, and we set about to design it.


Now my Aunt Mary had given to Mother a beautiful carpet, an Aubusson, which she had herself received from the Maharaja of Mysore. Mother liked the carpet very much but did not know where She could use it. So we decided to put it into the Music Room that we were designing. We then did a strange thing: we designed the size of the room to fit the carpet instead of getting, as is usual, a carpet to fit a room. This made the room quite large and then there was still some space left between the end of the room and the eastern extremity of the building. That space, we felt, could well be used for a covered balcony which could be carried round to the south side also. This change we kept rather secret and did not even inform Mother about it. It also meant more expense. So Dyuman, who had to find the money for all the work, was annoyed at this additional expenditure which had not been sanctioned by Mother, and he expressed The Mother’s new room with the Aubusson carpet himself quite Strongly.

When all had been built I informed Mother that everything was ready for Her to see, and She came to see. she like the large Music Room very much in which we had already installed the Organ. Then She looked out east and saw the balcony and she me said, «Udar! What have you done? A balcony! Do you expect me to start giving Darshans again from here?

I replied, «Mother, I expect nothing but that you are happy with what we have done. So please come out and see this Balcony.» And Mother came out. In the meanwhile ,we had sent word around that Mother might come on the new balcony, and so there were people all about, on the street and on each surrounding terrace, etc. almost the whole Ashram had turned out and they all had a Darshan of Mother, after such a long time. Mother gave a real Darshan, standing some time looking at all as she did whenever She gave Darshan. All were so happy and Dyuman came to me and embraced me warmly and said, «Udar, forget all i said before. Our people have had Mother’s Darshan at last. This is worth all that has been spent and even more; I am very, very happy.


Meditation Gong

The Mother had asked Udar to sound the gong for the commencement and the end of the Darshan meditation.

Anecdots of the Mother

This is a story that Mother Herself told us when we were playing table tennis with Her at Nanteuil house. Mother used to visit the various table tennis locations but mostly She played at Nanteuil. When we played against Mother we generally tried our best to return the ball well within Her reach and in as easy a position as possible for Her to hit it well. This required a good control on our part and was of great value in our own training, as Mother herself commented one day.

This same day, She explained that the game was invented by the Chinese and was called ‘Ping Pong’. It was a very elegant game, generally played by the Mandarins. Then Mother showed us by beautiful gestures how they used to play it. First a Mandarin on one side hit the ball as we do now but in such a way as to make it easy for the Mandarin on the other side to return it. This was Ping. The receiver then made a courtly bow and returned it the same way – Pong. Then the first one bowed and returned it and so on. A very courtly game indeed and quite in character with their high culture, and entirely different from the Western concept of the game where one is determined to defeat an opponent.

The Chinese were known generally to do most things quite differently from the West. For instance, as Mother had also once explained, a family doctor was paid a monthly fee by each family on his panel but only so long as everyone in the family was well. If anyone fell ill, the payments stopped. So the doctor was always keen on keeping his patients healthy where as in our system, though it may be unkind to say so, doctors generally earn from our illness more than from our good health.

This, of course, relates to the China of ancient days. Much water has flowed under the bridge since then.


Once there was a great shortage of cement in the Ashram and as I was then in charge of purchases the responsibility for procuring it rested on me. So I asked our Mother to do something about it as really all our building work had come to a standstill. The suppliers of cement kept on regretting their inability to supply cement to us. The Mother said She would look into the matter.

Then the cement began to come, a regular flood. All our warehouses were full and we could not use the cement fast enough to meet the inflow. So the departments concerned asked me to stop the supply. I did this without consulting the Mother. The supply stopped. It stopped completely for such a long time that there was again a shortage, worse than before. I went once more to the Mother for Her help and told Her the whole story. She was displeased at my action in stopping the supply.

She said to me that when we go to the Divine for help we must be prepared to receive it in whatever measure it comes. If the supplies were large, we should have enlarged our capacity to use them. To have stopped the supply, as I did, showed a great lack of understanding of the Divine’s way of working and so was quite unspiritual.


There is another story which illustrates a divine working in another way. It was with relation to a great and very important contest between two powerful groups. First one group asked for the Mother’s blessings and help through me and this She gave in special cards which She asked me to take personally to Delhi and deliver to the persons concerned. Then, just as I was ready to leave, a message came to the Mother asking for Her blessings for the leader of the other group. The Mother was in a fix, as She Herself explained to me. She said that when anyone sincerely asks for Divine help, She cannot refuse to give it. That is the Law. But how to give Her blessings to both contending parties?

The Mother meditated for some time and prepared a blessings card for the other party also and told me to take all three cards to Delhi and added that I would be ‘guided’ there. I myself delivered the first two cards as I knew the people concerned personally. But to the third party, the contending leader, I could not go at once as I did not know him. 1 went to a friend who knew that party very well. He was much surprised to know of the request for the Mother’s blessings as it was quite out of character. Nevertheless he telephoned the party in my presence and I listened-in to the conversation. When my friend enquired from the party if he had asked for the Mother’s blessings, he denied it hotly and said, «I do not believe in all that nonsense!» evidently someone else had asked on his behalf.

The Divine guidance had worked and I did not take the card to that person. Needless to say he lost he contest.

For me what was important in this were two things. One, that the Mother cannot refuse Her blessings and help to anyone who prays to Her in all sincerity. The second is with regard to the way the Divine works. We look to a working only on the surface but the Divine works behind the veil and most often we cannot recognise this working till sometime after the work is done. Its way of working is its own and it does not follow our human logic. It has a logic of its own, though it may use some of our blunderings for its own working.


Once, when I was cleaning the radio in Pavitra’s room, a cockroach jumped out and I was going to kill it when Pavitra said, «No, no! Do not kill it, just drive it away.» I was then fairly new in the Ashram and so felt that perhaps it was not good here to kill living things – we must have Ahimsa. Later I asked the Mother about this, recounting the incident. She answered firmly, «You should have killed it. Pavitra is a sentimental person. The truth is that in creation, as it now is, there are forces of two kinds: those that are progressive in Evolution and those that oppose or obstruct the Evolution. Cockroaches and such insects that do harm belong to the latter kind. They can be destroyed without hesitation. There are other insects like bees that are helpful and they should not be wantonly killed.»


When Mother was about 12, she often went to the famous forest of Fontainebleau near Paris for a walk all by herself. It was a very old forest, where there were trees that were even 2,000 years old. Here the Mother would sit quietly under a tree, going deep into meditation. At that time she said, she felt very close, very near, to those trees. It gave her great joy. Her consciousness (her inner self) became one with those trees, and even the birds and squirrels, from the trees, would come down very close to her and fearlessly run across her body in a playful mood. «You can also have the same kind of experience if you make a habit of it. Just sit under a tree all alone; resting your back on its trunk and keep quiet, you will gradually begin to feel the tree’s life-vibrations and its inner mood. You will also find that they like to make friends with us human beings; they too have their affection, their sympathy, and they are open-hearted enough to give us shelter. They can feel in their own way. Once there was a talk of cutting down an old tree, and when I went under this tree, I distinctly felt that the tree had become aware of its danger and was requesting me to stop this cruelty.»


The Mother once said to me, «You know, Udar, all my life I have tried to take someone and work on him or her to raise the person to the skies. I have not yet succeeded but I will go on trying.»


Sri Aurobindo, reached levels of consciousness never attained before, yet his humility was extraordinary. Mother said He was the most humble man She ever met. He never showed the slightest trace of any superiority, He was so open to all. He never forced a conversation, but He never refused one either, and answered in a humorous way; it was a delight, only we didn’t want to disturb him too much.


As our Sweet Mother’s Centenary Year had just started I recalled a small incident which I feel to be very appropriate.

One day I asked the Mother about Sri Aurobindo’s return. 1 said that I could not imagine Him as a baby born to some earthly mother. The Mother replied, «No, Udar. He will not come back in that way. He will come in the new way, the supramental way, projected into this physical material world as a complete being. This being would be perfect and not age and not eventually die, as has been the case so far.. So let us wait for that to happen.» This immediately brought to my mind these lines from Savitri:

In these new worlds projected he became

A portion of the universal gaze,

A station of the all-inhabiting light,

A ripple on a single sea of peace.

(Book 3, Canto 3, SABCL 27:325)

Then I asked the Mother about Her own transformation and to this She said that there were two possibilities. The first was that this present body of Hers would be transformed. But for this to happen it would take 200 to 300 years and so first: the body must be made to exist for this period. The process of the cells of the body must change. Their process of aging and decay must be prolonged to give enough time for the transforming forces to act.

The other alternative would be for Her to leave this present body and come back, as Sri Aurobindo will, in a new supramental body.

«Which alternative would be chosen is entirely with The Lord to decide,» the Mother said. «It is The Lord’s Will that will prevail.»


The Mother’s Secretary

Initiator of several new activities at the Ashram and always helpful to others, the sadhak Udar later acted also as a secretary to the Mother. Called ‘Udar-da’ with love and respect by the younger generation, he was always young at heart.

Sri Aurobindo’s Action Journal
January 2002

Mother has often stressed the spiritual importance of not wasting anything as such acts only stop the flow of things coming to us. When I first joined the Ashram there was a wonderful organisation there to prevent waste. Bits of soap or candle, empty match boxes, even half burnt match-sticks, paper, old envelopes, pieces of cloth, all the things we normally throw away were collected at the Ashram in a very organised manner. There was a special place or a receptacle where each group of things had to be kept and they were then put to use in some form or other.


At dinner it was Pranab, Pavitra and I who ate with Mother, with Chinmayi again in the offing. At dinner Mother would say wonderful things, mostly addressed to Pavitra and in French. She once explained to me that She did this on purpose so that we, Pranab and I, could learn French in that way. That was really how I learned whatever French I now know. A truly wonderful way of learning from Mother Herself who spoke so clearly and distinctly and with such elegance. She sometimes spoke for one or two hours at a time.


Mother had told me once that She had never asked me to collect money for her, because it is not my swadharma. The name that Sri Aurobindo gave me ‘Udar’ is the name of one who gives, not the man who asks. And She said, «I have never asked you to go and ask people for money because you don’t know how to ask.»

But one day She told me, «Go and get me 10,000 rupees». For the first time She asked me to go and get her some money.

I did not ask, I did not question, I just got up and I walked out, wondering what to do, whom to ask; Mother did not ask me to go to any particular place.

And as I was coming out of the Ashram gate, I met a friend of mine from Bombay who had not come to Pondicherry for many years. I saw him for the first time after a long gap. I was very happy to meet him. He said, «How are you! But you are looking a bit worried, what has happened?» I said, «Not worried, puzzled!»

»Puzzled about what?»

«About what Mother has asked me; She wants to buy something, She has asked me to get her 10,000 rupees and for the life of me I don’t know whom to go to or what to ask.»

He said, «Oh, ten thousand rupees!» He opened his cheque book, and immediately wrote a cheque for 10,000 rupees for me to give to Mother.


Well you see; I’ll tell you the way Mother works. Whether people know it or not, I’ve had very, very good experiences. I don’t know what made me open, but am open to the Mother, I am grateful for that, what action, whatever happened I don’t know, I was never trained for it, but I have been an open instrument. An open instrument in the sense that when Mother asked me to do something, I went immediately and did it, without even thinking about it.

Thinking blocks you. You begin to think of things, wonder how to do it, how not to do it and you get stuck in that; but if you just go immediately and do it, it gets done with so much ease; you’d be surprised how easily things are done.

I began to find that things became so easy because if you went without any questions, everything fell into place; Mother arranges all the circumstances. You meet the right person, you do the right thing, you take the right step, everything will come right and everything will be done in the shortest time and that is the greatest relief; but it needs to be done without question and for some reason or the other, I had that ability, and that is why Mother found me to be a very good instrument.


The human instrument is weak and full of falsehood and Mother knows that we are imperfect, She knows that we cannot keep our aspiration for very long; She is full of compassion and love, She is the Divine Mother and She can understand that; but what She sees as important is that we want to do it, and for her that is important; and despite all our failures, She tries to lead us towards the Truth.


Passing the flag to Udar – 21st Feb.1958

«People ask my blessings for so many things – for business, for work, for going on journeys, for the help of the family, for their own help, and I give them. I don’t tell them, but from my side 1 give blessings for only one thing: the growth of the soul. All the other things that people ask don’t concern me.»

She told me «Even the greatest things of your life, you have to give up.» There is a line from ‘Savitri’:

«A vast surrender was his only strength.»

Two words: vast and only. Don’t forget that. ‘Vast’ means everything and ‘only’ means you don’t have to depend upon anything else.


Udar mentioned the other day how when he described the mess in the Government at Delhi , and spoke of their slow and haphazard way etc. Mother answered, «Are things any better in the Ashram?»

Udar said, «Yes, it must be very difficult for Mother.»

She shrugged Her shoulders and said, «The Divine has put me here for this work!»

M.P. Pandit
diary notes 6.6.1971

I know how wonderful Mother was, absolutely wonderful, with so much tolerance, so much understanding, so much compassion; above all she had compassion. She allowed all stupidity. I tell you nobody can understand her, unless they see her compassion, and that’s what really kept me going. I saw it, I saw how much she suffered, but she never complained once. She took all as a part of her own sadhana. Physically she suffered, but as Mother told me ‘this is my sacrifice to save the world’.


Udar says that today while writing a message for someone, Mother made a distinction between Divine Grace and Divine’s Grace. The latter means that one must first have faith in the Divine before receiving the Grace. The former acts irrespective of whether there is faith or not.

M.P. Pandit
diary notes 11.12.1971

The atomic bomb is in itself the most wonderful achievement and the sign of the growing power of man over material nature. But what is to be regretted is that this material progress and mastery is not the result of and in keeping with a spiritual progress and mastery which alone has the power to contradict it and counteract the terrible danger coming from these discoveries. We cannot and must not stop progress, but we must achieve it in an equilibrium between the inside and the outside.

The Mother
30th August 1945

India shall take her true place in the world only when she will become integrally the messenger of the Divine Life

The Mother

The time has come for the rule of falsehood to end. In the Truth alone is salvation.

The Mother

Our best help is faith – the Divine is all merciful. With love and blessings

The Mother

In the Mother’s room after the work Udar, Nolini

When the first use of nuclear energy was made public after the atom bomb was dropped on Hiroshima and Nagasaki in Japan , the Mother told me that this nuclear fission energy was an Asuric force. It comes out of the destruction of the nucleus of matter and hence its whole character was destructive. So this destructive energy must not be used at all for any purpose. «If we can use fusion energy» She said, «that would be a divine force as it comes from union.»

Then the Mother went on to speak about the four Yugas and how we are now at the end of the Kali Yuga which, by destiny, has to end the present creation by a ‘pralaya’. The instrument for this destruction is the nuclear bomb. But Sri Aurobindo and the Mother do not want that this creation should pass through such a destructive process and so They are doing Their best to prevent it by stopping the use of the nuclear bomb. This is very difficult as it is such a powerful weapon that it is very attractive to the world powers, as they love to have such a weapon in their hands. It is only India that can stop this as India has a spiritual base which, though not very apparent, is still very powerful.


I think gratitude is special. This is something I try to remember. I ask her for something and immediately I thank her. We think that things come from our own effort. It is a mistake. Nevertheless constantly I thank Mother for every movement, every action. Also I thank her for keeping close to me.



As this aeronautical engineer sat behind a cupboard or a chair wiping the furniture in Sri Aurobindo’s Room , he heard the words of this marvellous epic being recited by the Master. Years later this poem became his mantra and his whole life. For more than 15 years, starting in the 80’s, he recited Savitri every morning, at first in the school then in Golconde and finally at Harpagon and there were many who went regularly to hear him recite.

Golden Chain

Udar reciting Savitri for the Children’s Centre of Integral Education, Bhubaneshwar, 18th May 1976

VIDEO. Savitri readings at Harpagon


Every morning She used to give me a rose in the early days. And one day, in addition to the rose, she gave me a white flower. I was surprised, I didn’t know why. I was very happy, I didn’t ask why she gave me the flower. The second day, she again gives me the flower; third day when she gives me again, she asks: «Don’t you want to know why I am giving you this flower?»

I said, «Mother, you give me something, I am so happy, I don’t know why, I don’t ask.»

She said, «But you must know why!»

I said, «Then tell me?»

She said, «You know the meaning of this flower? It is a very beautiful flower, it means power of expression. This is a gift I am giving you and one day you will know why I am giving it to you.»

And after that I began to learn Savitri and to recite it.


Udar started learning Savitri by heart. Everyday he would memories one page and in the morning when he would come to the office he would recite it to me.


Udar had memorised the whole of Savitri at one time and could quote long passages from it with ease. Whenever there was an auspicious ceremony or an opening of a department etc. he recited from Savitri as an invocation.

He had recorded the whole of Savitri on tapes, cassettes and later on CDs many times. These recordings were passed around among friends or people who liked listening to them. During his last years this became his most cherished work.

Udar started getting interested more and more in the reading of Savitri. I think it was after the age of 80 that he even started memorising lines and passages of this epic poem. He could recite from memory, pages and passages nonstop. I too was looking for someone with whom 1 could read Savitri. I saw that a person who loved Savitri so much would be the best person for me. I requested him to read Savitri for me. He very readily agreed and we started the regular classes once a week in the school. He was always very, very punctual and even before time. 1 was feeling embarrassed to make him come especially for me as he had always so much work. So I suggested that I go to him and he asked me to come to Golconde during the tea time so that many others could join. This was not really the right place or time. It disturbed the normal running of the place, so we shifted to Harpagon in the mornings. Many more joined. Even those just on a visit during Darshan used to come while they were here.


Every afternoon, at tea time, those who stayed at Golconde would sit by Udar’s side and listen to his stories on various topics. To listen to his Savitri recitation, initially at his office and afterward at his home, and thereafter to sit by his side and listen to his reminiscences of the old days was also an uncommon privilege.

The Mother told him to make Savitri his life’s work. With his perfectly clear diction he daily read aloud the epic poem and began to memorise it. Later in his Harpagon office he would give daily readings to a group who came to listen. He knew most of it by heart and read with his heart, sharing and teaching the rhythm to others. Often he was moved to tears by certain passages, you could hear his voice break and then its strength flowed through him again. He tells of how he went to Sri Aurobindo’s room to polish the furniture that Mother had asked him to make and was able to quietly let his presence be forgotten while Sri Aurobindo dictated Savitri to Nirod. Savitri accompanied him through his life; even as he was in the Hospital in Madras in a state of shock, hearing Savitri read to him gave him back energy to live longer.

Olivier P.

Every time I see the book Savitri in my mind I hear the rich voice of Udar reading. It was always a blessing to hear him read from the book or to recite from memory.

When I first learnt about his reading sessions I went to the one in Harpagon where I believe he used to read everyday. After the first reading I decided I would never miss the opportunity every time I was in Pondicherry. These readings were really special and they always filled me with peace and energy.

Dr. Venkataswamy

Anie: Can you describe Sri Aurobindo’s voice and do you have other impressions of Him that you remember?

Udar: Sri Aurobindo’s voice was a beautiful, a well modulated sound. If you did not see Him, you would think you were listening to a Cambridge- educated Englishman speaking. Sri Aurobindo just sat there looking as though He were gazing out into eternity in His great lonely days of descent into mortal life in order to help humanity.

He will ever be remembered as the Mother’s hero, Her warrior soul, the Divine’s ideal karma yogin and the first of the supreme singers of Savitri.


Mother told me that the whole of Savitri is a Mantra for the transformation of the world.

«Udar, make Savitri your life!»

And after that day I took up Savitri as my life. I began to learn the whole of it by heart. I can’t say I know it by heart now, but at one time I knew twenty four thousand lines!

Truly my whole life is the Mother now; even Savitri for me is the Mother. When I read Savitri I read it to the Mother and I read it with so much feeling, so self- possessed. Savitri is the book of the Mother for me.


I believed in the Divine Mother. If I think of the Divine 1 think of the Mother. If 1 think of Sri Aurobindo, I think of Him in the background, supporting the scene. Even now She remains the Divine to me.


Mother told me that the whole of Savitri is a Mantra for the transformation of the world.


On Darshan day

The Mother giving Puja message to Udar 24.4.1953


The Mother distributing sweets at the Power House. 12.10.1954

Durga puja, 5.10.1954

Victory Day. 7.10.1954

Laksmi Puja, 11.10.1954


Kali Puja 25.10.1954


Merger Day 1.11.1954

Merger Day 1.11.1954

Merger Day 1.11.1954

The Mother at the Stainless Steel Factory. 9.12.1960

Udar – The Mother’s lamb