Home Page | Followers and Disciples | Champaklal Speaks


Champaklal Speaks


Sri Aurobindo in Guest House, 1915-18


Be simple1,

Be happy,

Remain quiet,

Do your work as well as you can,

Keep yourself always open towards me.

This is all that is asked from you.

– The Mother


In the night as in the day be always with me2.

In sleep as in waking let me feel in me always the reality of your presence.

Let it sustain and make to grow in me Truth, Consciousness and Bliss constantly and at all times.

– Sri Aurobindo


“My Lion” — The Mother (1960)


Preface to the present edition

Champaklalji was very fond of his book Champaklal Speaks. “It is the Ramayana of my life,” he would happily tell me.

In the early 1970s, Nolini-da used to meet Champaklalji every morning and they would sit together for a few minutes. On 18th March 1975, soon after the book came out, Nolini-da said with a beautiful affectionate smile, “Champakbhai, your book is extremely nice.” He said it three times and then added, “I have not read it fully, but from what I have seen, the substance is very good.”

Here is what Champaklalji himself once wrote about his book: “Whatever Champaklal has written is not from a literary point of view. This writing is neither for intellectuals nor for ‘advanced sadhaks’ but is written only for those who are by nature and attitude like Champaklal. From the very beginning all these incidents were inscribed in Champaklal’s memory; that is why now he can write about them. Champaklal’s life is Sri Aurobindo and the Mother only. To write down their sweet memories is Champaklal’s worship. It makes Champaklal most fortunate and his heart is filled with gratitude and bliss.” No wonder, M.P. Pandit concluded his preface to the first edition with these words: “For what Champaklal Speaks is, is nothing but Mother Sri Aurobindo, Mother Sri Aurobindo”.

Champaklalji was not satisfied merely with reading and rereading his Ramayana and losing himself in the memories they rekindled. He made corrections and added marginal notes in his copies of the first two editions, for he wanted to perfect his book as far as possible. Later, when he permitted me to translate the book into Gujarati, he showed me those copies so that his revisions could be included there. Whenever I sought clarifications and details, he wrote down his answers, often rectifying the published episodes. And fortunately for us, as the translation work proceeded, he wrote more than forty new episodes for inclusion. For the first time he wrote in detail about his childhood, his upbringing and the influences of saints and yogis – about all that gave form and force to his aspirations and imparted the training that proved very useful in his long service to Sri Aurobindo and the Mother. When the manuscript was ready he willingly went through it with his usual conscientiousness. Finally, he himself decided which photographs were to be printed. Throughout the work, both in preparing the manuscript and seeing the book through the press, I received much help from Dr. Ashvin Desai. The book came out under the title Champaklalna Sansmarano.

A few months before leaving his body he asked me to collect and hand over all the original papers in his possession to the Ashram Archives. Here I wish to mention that Bob (Robert Zwicker), with exemplary dedication and patience, helped me to organise and put everything in files and boxes specially manufactured to best preserve such documents. It was during those final days that Champaklalji gave me his copies of the previous English editions of Champaklal Speaks and asked me to edit a third edition whenever the publishers decided to print it. Following his instructions, I have incorporated the following material: the revisions he made in the first two editions; translations of the new episodes published in the Gujarati edition; and eleven reminiscences and Sri Aurobindo’s correspondence with Champaklal, published in Champaklal’s Treasures.

In preparing this new edition, I have checked the texts of Spiritual Games, Birthday Messages and Correspondences with the originals kept at the Archives. I have also added footnotes to help the reader to understand the background of certain episodes and the persons and places mentioned in them. In everything, I have made a sincere effort to follow the guidelines Champaklalji gave me. But, I have greatly missed his physical presence, which would have made my task as deep a joy as it had been during the years we worked together.

A word about the photograph before this preface. Champaklalji was extremely fond of this photograph of his with the Mother which she captioned “My Lion”. While choosing it as the cover for the Gujarati edition, he noted this incident: Once, on seeing this photo, Pranab’s uncle Charubabu exclaimed, “Mother, here Champaklal looks like Durga’s lion!” And Mother forcefully replied, “He is my lion!”

Champaklal Speaks illustrates how his first and foremost aspiration – to spend every moment of his life and all his energy in the service of his Lord Sri Aurobindo and the Divine Mother – was amply fulfilled by Their infinite Grace. In fact, as Champaklalji might have put it, it is more appropriate to say that he was chosen by Sri Aurobindo and the Mother who themselves moulded him into a fit instrument for their work. It is worth noting some of his reminiscences on this subject.

On 20 November 1926, the Mother told him: “The Being whom we want to manifest in you demands complete surrender. He is one of four brothers; out of them one wants to manifest in you and he is waiting for you to be ready. And that Being wishes that I should work in you.” Another day she said: “The Being has entered into you.” And the next day: “To bring down Immortality four pillars are needed. Of them… Aspiration is Champaklal.” Once the Mother told him, “Champaklal, your time will come and you will get everything. You will be fully conscious.” This comment was made during the “game of the apron”. Later he realised that “it was not a game to amuse me. It was such a Grace!” To get an idea of the vast consciousness They granted him, we only have to turn to his experiences reproduced in The Visions of Champaklal, 1990. “All was revealed there none can here express.” (Savitri, p. 30.)

Another significant incident:

“Every morning the Mother used to say to me, «Bonjour!» This day, she picked up a flower, Eternal smile, took my hand, put the flower in the centre of the palm, pinched my palm, kept her hand pressed over my hand for sometime and said,

«Champaklal, smile always,

smile in difficulties,

smile in pain,

smile in suffering,

smile in sorrow,

smile always, smile always,


I believe that the predominant memory of those who saw him was his disarming smile.

Champaklal Speaks inspires us to ponder over his extraordinary life and fills our hearts with reverence for his Lord and the Mother. We can see that his observations are the expressions of profound truths revealed to him through experiences in his daily life. Let us take an extract from his correspondence of 25 May 1935. He wrote, “Where am I going, what am I doing?” Sri Aurobindo replied, “… Where you are? In the Mother’s presence here and close to me. Where you are going? Towards union with the Divine through dedication and service. What you are doing here? Service and self-giving to the Divine.”

For twelve years, from 1938 to 1950, Champaklalji and Nirodbaran served Sri Aurobindo together and “became sweet friends for long decades”. Champaklalji passed away on 9th May 1992. In 1993, Nirodbaran concluded his long talk on Champaklalji with this statement: “Two sadhaks of recent time stand apart from all others, whose image will always remain untarnished in our memory. One is Nolini-da and the other is Maharaj Champaklal, two true yogis – one predominantly a homo intellectualis, the other essentially a homo psychicus. Both of them attained rare heights of consciousness, each following his own path indicated by his swadharma.” Nirod-da also noted, “To be like Hanuman, an absolute servitor, was the raison d’être of Maharaj’s existence3.” And when Champaklalji’s health was deteriorating, Nirodbaran inwardly heard Sri Aurobindo say, “I have been waiting. He will come straight to me4.”

I shall never forget even for a moment all that Champaklalji has made available to me, materially and spiritually. I am especially grateful to him for entrusting this work to me for it has inspired me to attempt to transform my consciousness. These reminiscences recreate the atmosphere of the days when Sri Aurobindo and the Mother worked together on this earth to transfigure the consciousness of their disciples and all mankind, as well as to reveal a new future for the entire earth.

I am deeply grateful to Kamalaben for taking a keen interest in this book and to Jayantilal, Apurva and all my friends for their help and goodwill. My heartfelt thanks go to Ganapatibhai and Bob of the Archives, who in spite of their busy schedules patiently went through the manuscript and offered valuable guidance. Above all I thank Sunjoy, who assisted me in preparing this book. He meticulously scrutinised the previous editions as well as the drafts for the present one, and did much of the research for the footnotes. I greatly appreciate his help.

My sincere thanks are due to the Sri Aurobindo Ashram Trust, the Publication Department, SABDA, and the Archives. I owe special thanks to all those at Sri Aurobindo Ashram Press who have collaborated with goodwill and efficiency in printing the book.

Sri Aurobindo Ashram, Pondicherry
Mother India, Sept. 1993, pp. 632, 631.
Mother India, March 1993, p. 173.

Preface to the first edition

Champaklal does not write. He may draw, he may paint, he may design new perspectives drawing encomiums from even such a profound artist as the Mother, but writing, no. He will tell you that he is not used to it.

Champaklal will not speak either. For did not Sri Aurobindo ask him as long back as in 1934 to be careful in what he speaks? He wrote to him: Be more guarded in your speech. You are in a special position and one of great trust and whatever you say is taken up and commented on, so you must be careful that nothing should go out from you which ought not to be said or known. To talk less and not be too unguarded in your speech should be part of your discipline of sadhana.

And yet who would leave him alone? Certainly not one like myself who has been used to his casual remarks revealing unsuspected depths, opening new dimensions, while waiting by his side for my turn to be called by Mother. For years I have listened and grown wiser.

For many of us he has been a model in more ways than one. I recall an occasion when someone said to Mother: Make me your child, like Champaklal. Mother replied: If you want to become like that you must undergo a very hard discipline. Ask him how hard a discipline I have given him.

Much later she was to tell Champaklal: When people ask for work and want to live with me, I give them your name and say, ‘First you become unselfish like Champaklal.’

Some years ago I had occasion to write a birthday tribute to him under the title, “The man I love”. I seek the indulgence of the reader to reproduce it here as I cannot improve upon it:


Someone had asked Mother for the meaning of her message, “Cling to Truth”. What is truth was the query.

The Mother turned to each one who was around and looked for the answer; She passed from person to person till the turn came of this one. He replied:

“There is no need to define truth; if one is sincere, one knows what truth is.”

“Exactly,” said the Mother who was pleased with the straight answer.That is my man. Straightforward in nature, he always goes straight to the heart of things. He may protest that he is not learned in philosophy and other such high subjects. But that is his virtue. Give him any piece of writing, make him listen to any discourse, he will immediately react to the right note if there be one.

Raso vai sah. Nothing is too high or too low for him. He will listen to the talk of a child with as much concentration and glow on his face as to a profound conversation by the Mother, music, painting (classical and futurist), handwork, manual labour – all claim his impartial and entire attention when they come before him. He exercises no preferences; to him all is samam brahma, the watchword of every yoga.

He will again protest that he does not know yoga and say that he is only a worker whose Mantra is Service. True, he is the embodiment of Service and the manner and the extent to which he has been privileged to serve both Sri Aurobindo and the Mother for over five decades has no parallel. Neither food nor sleep has a claim over his time. But the quantum of service has no value for him. Did he not one day say to the Mother in the anguish of his soul: Mother, all these years, I have served as I wanted to serve; now I want to serve as you would want me to do.

And why has he chosen to serve? Because it is his spiritual Dharma. In his very childhood he perceived that Service to the Divine was the mould of his soul. He serves the Divine in and as the Guru, the Mother Supreme; but he also serves the Divine in the endless humanity that comes to the Mother’s Feet. Yes, he serves you and me also. He will never allow a wrong to pass unrighted, however humble be the victim involved. I have always held that he is the one man in our world here who stands for principles and who will fight for them, no matter what the consequences be.

No doubt certain elements tend to exploit his nature and at times do succeed. But that is not because he is really deceived. He deliberately allows the benefit of the doubt to others, sees some good or deliverance coming to them through whatever apparent evil.

All of us know he will not suffer fools and knaves for a moment; they call out his wrath in an ample measure. But Rudra soon yields to Shiva. He feels immediately sorry for his temper and makes up for it abundantly and gracefully. Like a child, bâlavat, he will tell you how anger has been his curse, how he cannot help it until you begin to feel sorry for creating a situation that caused the flare-up!

Can you help loving such a man? So evolved, so privileged, and yet so transparent, so humble!

I have watched him from a distance, come into closer contact with him for some time, and what I have seen, felt and experienced made me exclaim one day, in his presence, to a friend: He is the one man who can be an âtmaratih (one whose delight and contentment is in the Self) of the Upanishad. He is so impersonal in attitude, he is attached to nothing5. He, however, came down on me. He started cataloguing all his supposed defects, and vehemently disclaimed what I said. I was moved by his humility and strengthened in my conviction.

Why don’t you tell us his name, you might ask. Is it really necessary to do so? Is there any other like him?


So that is Champaklal. Dear to all of us, as much on his own account as the rare recipient of the Grace of Sri Aurobindo and Mother for full five decades as their blessed child and privileged servitor. When I commenced work upon the book Breath of Grace containing testaments of some of the disciples of the Masters, some years ago, it was but natural that I should approach Champaklal first. But he was understandably reluctant to talk. I respected his feelings, admired his reticence and did not press him further. But my aspiration to record at first hand the impact of the Personalities of Sri Aurobindo and Mother on the spiritual world of today and to convey some idea of the God’s Labour they have put in for the elevation of man had its response ultimately and early this year he agreed to share with me his reminiscences, letters and notes. I was most grateful and took up pen and paper that very moment.

It has taken quite a few months to collect and sort out the vast material that is strewn in his innumerable papers, note-books, diaries etc. Everywhere the problem was what to say and what not to say at the present moment. However, with his patient cooperation and unobtrusive guidance some kind of shape has emerged. The material gathered and classified as approved by him – those who know his meticulous nature will appreciate my mention of this fact of approval – has been arranged as follows:

•   Recollections and Diary notes;

•   Spiritual Games that the Mother played with sadhaks;

•   Birthday Messages;

•   Correspondence with Sri Aurobindo and the Mother;

•   Letters on Champaklal;

•   Some letters written by Sri Aurobindo and the Mother mostly to devotees connected with Champaklal;

•   Some valuable notes and memos left by the Mother with Champaklal now and then;

•   Quotes from the Mother’s observations, remarks and replies, recorded by him.

A few years ago, when he received from Mother some colour pencils, Champaklal casually drew some patterns and wrote therein the Names so dear to him. On seeing the paper, Mother remarked that it would be very good for a book-cover. And naturally enough that design has been chosen for the cover of this book6. And it is apposite too. For what Champaklal Speaks is nothing but Mother Sri Aurobindo, Mother Sri Aurobindo.

M. P. Pandit
Sri Aurobindo Ashram, Pondicherry



1 When Champaklal started working with the Mother, during a conversation she told him what is written above. Champaklal requested the Mother to write it and the Gracious Mother wrote and gave it to him. – Champaklal’s note


2 Champaklal had requested Sri Aurobindo to give a prayer to him. In reply Sri Aurobindo wrote the above prayer. – Champaklal’s note


3 Mother India, Sept. 1993, pp. 632, 631.


4 Mother India, March 1993, p. 173.


5 Not even the standards by which he lays great store normally. In moments of crises, I have seen him overpass them, in deference to the Divine Will, without the least regret. He has not studied Sri Aurobindo’s Essays on the Gita, to be sure, but he acts spontaneously in the spirit of the Master’s Call.


6 I had shown it in the Music Room. When Mother said “It will be a beautiful cover for your book”, I thought she was joking. I had forgotten this until recently when G, to whom I had once mentioned it, reminded me. – Champaklal’s note in his copy of the 1976 edition.