June 15, 1963
I've received a letter from a friend in France who speaks at length of someone who has written three volumes entitled “Gnosis.”
That person lives in Switzerland, he's a Russian named B.M. He has a center with disciples. I asked for his photograph and I'd like you to help me understand what type of man he is.
(Mother studies the photo) He is an intellectual, at any rate – clearly not a spiritual man. He may have some vital powers (that's generally what gets hold of people). Yes, an intellectual, an idealist. Do you have his handwriting?
He's terribly well-mannered, that's what bothers me! (laughing) A well-mannered gentleman!
I had the same feeling: a feeling of someone extraordinarily bourgeois.
A very “respectable” gentleman.
He must have some wit, a rather sharp wit. An ironist: he must be very clever at answering, really what we call esprit in French.
There is no sign of powers in the photo, but if he has any over people, it must be a vital power.
He is not a great mind; he doesn't go beyond the idealistic intellect. But that's more than enough for people, because true spiritual power is completely above their heads – of course, they are very sensitive to a little bit of vital power, mental-vital.
He's a man who could have practiced some Tantrism in the way Woodroffe did; I can't say. There are also many people of that kind who were converted to Sufism – they are very easily converted to Sufism. But true spiritual life, there aren't many....
He has written three volumes entitled “Gnosis.”
Quite an ambition.
But he's an intellectual, he may have received some inspiration on the intellectual level.
Is your letter from France?
Yes, from a friend, and as this B.M. seems to be spreading, for my own guidance I wanted to know if he is in good hands or dubious hands.
The ceiling isn't very high, but that doesn't necessarily mean “bad hands.”
An aristocrat 'your gentleman. Maybe a former aristocrat from Russia?
My friend is an aristocrat, a marquis “of something.” But he's no ordinary marquis: he's an adventurer.
Well, yes! It's part of the character. It's the Kshatrya1 element, it's part of the character: being an adventurer.
But this one is terribly well-mannered! (Laughing) Excellent manners, a refined man perhaps. An intellectual.
But is he humanitarian, does he work for the good of mankind?... Or for the good of his own glory?!
He says he has received a Message. He has a Message.
Ah, he has something to reveal to the world – Lord, poor world! How many revelations!...
Anyway, let's wait for the book, we'll see.
Because do you know the story of that Romanian who was tortured by the Communists and had visions of Sri Aurobindo2 (he didn't see him as he is, in fact, he saw him according to his own conception: thin and ascetic), and finally the apparition told him, “I am your soul,” and so on? But he had never read Sri Aurobindo's name, he only heard it, and he wrote it in a very odd way [“Aurobin Dogos”].... It SEEMS to be something of Sri Aurobindo. Anyhow it gave him the strength to go through all those tortures – appalling tortures, unimaginable. And he was able to escape, somebody helped him escape (now he is safe in England). But before that, he suffered so much that he thought of letting himself die, and that “voice,” that apparition which came and spoke to him for hours, was what gave him courage and told him that “the soul NEVER gets discouraged, it has something to do, and you must endure.” He endured thanks to that voice.
Well, similar things may have happened elsewhere and some people may have received inspirations – we cannot say.
It's clear that wherever there is a receptivity, the Force acts, there's no doubt.
(Mother returns to the previous conversation, in which she spoke of perilous periods of transition for the earth and for individuals, when everything hangs in a precarious balance.)
It keeps happening fairly often.
This morning again, for a stretch of several hours (it started at the end of the night, between 3 and 4 o'clock, and went on till 6:30 or 7 in the morning), there was a sensation of hanging in balance on a kind of ridge (gesture): you must be very careful, keep very quiet – not immobile but quiet.
It must be (on a much lower level) at such moments that you fall ill; when people fall ill, it must be (on their scale, of course, probably a very, very small scale), it must be due to that (gesture of precarious balance): they must be going from one moment to another, from one balance to another, and if they are not careful, they topple over. Then it's IN the illness that they find a new harmony – (laughing) either here or in another world!
(Then Mother comments on the visit Pandit Nehru paid to her two days earlier, on June 13:)
With the visit, which we could call presidential, naturally there was a lot of hullabaloo here: everybody was excited (most people were, at any rate). The visit was, so to speak, forced upon me, in the sense that I didn't want to see him – I didn't feel I was in such a state that the visit could have a paramount importance. Some people had high hopes in this visit (here and there, even in Switzerland, even in America), they thought I would be able to do something.... But practically speaking, it was an illusion, naturally.
And all at once, it came so clearly, as though the Lord Himself were arranging something, and it was translated into, “Give him a bath of the Lord.” You understand, to make an atmosphere (no need to speak, no need for words), an atmosphere that is a bath of the Lord. So that all those who enter the atmosphere automatically enter the bath of the Lord. It was so lovely! And so simple, so smiling, nothing showy, no big words: something very simple and natural. So, early in the morning, I went to the room over there; I had many people to see beforehand, a host of people who came to see me in the morning, but nevertheless early in the morning I had already started preparing my bath of the Lord! I was finished seeing people about an hour before Nehru's arrival, so I stayed in the room, preparing the “bath”.... It was very charming.
He may have felt something – they are very thick-skinned, you know, necessarily so: overworked, full of self-conceit, naturally, and convinced that they know everything and can do everything (and unfortunately they can do a lot), so the whole of life is organized so as to BLOCK all inner receptivity.
But he did have the bath!
He was supposed to stay two or three minutes – he stayed fifteen minutes.
I didn't say anything. Somebody who was there spoke. And towards the end, I could see (I had given him a comfortable armchair), I could see he wanted to get out of his armchair, as if to say, Now I must go. So I simply told him, You need a little rest – you should have seen the man's face: immediately everything relaxed. All the while, his fingers were fidgety like this (Mother drums her fingers on the chair's armrests), two fingers of his hand moving nonstop, even though I kept putting Peace and Quietness on him, but still his fingers were moving, because he was always active inside. And when I told him that, something relaxed in his face and the fingers stopped. But it was very late and everybody was waiting, so after a little while I let him go. It was very interesting: I simply told him, You need a little rest – everything stopped.
But mentally, you know ... (Mother makes a gesture: completely obtuse). There is a prince of Kashmir who came here once, a young man3; he went to England, and there he wrote a thesis on Sri Aurobindo's political life, Sri Aurobindo, Prophet of Indian Nationalism, with a preface by Jawaharlal Nehru. I read the preface, but afterwards, the day after I saw Nehru – it's awful! Understands nothing, he understands nothing, nothing, nothing, absolutely obtuse. It's very kind, but written by someone who understands nothing.... I will tell you the thing: between my first and second visits here, while I was away in Japan and Gandhi was starting his campaign,4 he sent a telegram, then a messenger, to Sri Aurobindo here, asking him to be president of the Congress – to which Sri Aurobindo answered “No.”
Those people never forgave him.
Yes, he never understood why Sri Aurobindo did not resume his political life.
No. And then, you see, he takes Gandhi's asceticism for spiritual life – always the same mistake! There's no way to pull them out of it. Unfortunately, the entire world has caught the same idea.
Then when there was that Cripps proposal,5 I believe it was Nehru (or Gandhi, I don't remember which of the two) who said, “He has withdrawn from political life, why is he meddling! It's none of his business.” They never forgave him. That is to say, completely obtuse, unable to understand that one can have a knowledge higher than practical knowledge.
There you are.
Do you see new threats hanging over India?
The Chinese?... I don't know. There's a lot of talk about them.
Anyhow, X had announced it would be April – nothing happened!
It came a few days ago, I started to think again of “up there.” So I looked, and I thought, “But April is behind us, isn't it?” It was just a few days ago – they may be preparing something, I don't know.
But the Chinese are fairly receptive, in spite of their Communism. They are receptive to an idea of human goodwill, in the sense that they think their political organization is the best from a human point of view, and therefore would like the whole world to adopt it – there is a sincerity in their conviction, they believe it's the best way of life. They are not entirely ill-willed. And they are very intelligent.
At any rate, they had the power to do whatever they liked [last October, at the defenseless northern borders of India], yet they did nothing.
Yes, that was extraordinary!
(Mother smiles) Not so extraordinary. But at any rate, it's proof of a certain receptivity.
They'd rather have a mental and political domination than wage war. They aren't bent on slaughtering people, you understand.
It seems (it's what I heard, I don't know) that all the prisoners (they had plenty of them – many of the Indians, unfortunately – and most of them were released), they all said they had been admirably treated. I heard that from all quarters.
And Nehru, you see (that's what Pavitra told me yesterday, he went to the town hall to listen to Nehru's speech), Nehru is an out-and-out social democrat who believes that the ideal organization for mankind, instead of only an “elite” being able to progress, is that the entire masses should progress (as if they wanted to!... but anyway). It's an idea – everyone has his own ideas. But then it seems that when the Chinese attacked, it was a violent blow to his conviction: he thought it impossible that the Chinese would do such a thing (!) He was very deeply shattered.
Naturally, they see no farther than the tips of their noses, and then they are surprised when circumstances (laughing) don't agree!
But OUTWARDLY, there is nothing that can be done [to act on Nehru and the politicians]. It's only if you are sitting in your armchair, very quiet, that you can do something – provided not too many people are aware that you're doing something (!)
So there you are.
The other day, I had asked S.M. to come while Nehru was here (he is a friend of Nehru's and has his confidence), and S.M. did all the talking. But I saw that if he had been silent, if Nehru had been sitting in his armchair with me saying nothing and no one to listen to, he couldn't have stayed! He would have left. It would have been too strong, he couldn't have stayed. Whereas listening to S.M., he didn't pay attention, and slowly, slowly, I was able to do my work. Which means it can be done only in a COMPLETELY roundabout way, completely.
After he left, there was almost an invasion... a totally unexpected invasion [of Nehru's retinue]. When I saw that, I thought, “Well, well! That's how I am protected!” If anyone of those people had had some mischief in mind, he could have just walked in! An invasion of the whole Pondicherry government: the councilors. Like a crush of... I don't know, if I say “a rough sea,” I give them a compliment! I hesitated, I was about to say “a herd,” but a herd doesn't have the vulgar skepticism of those people; a herd is harmlessly unconscious, while these are unconscious but harmful.
I didn't know them (I know them, but I don't know them!), but I understood who the person was just from the way his face reacted to the atmosphere of the place! It was very funny. Two of them, in particular, when they came in, I thought, “Oh, it must be so and so,” and the other, “Oh, this is certainly so and so,” merely from the reaction on their faces – the contortion of their features on entering the bath! But in all that crowd there was one man, a sturdy fellow, in a military uniform – only one – whose face... (what's the word in French?) became dignified. A sense of dignity suddenly came over his face. He was the chief of the Madras police (!)
I wonder why they allowed that mob to come up, they shouldn't have left you...
I tell you, I am at the mercy of anything! Unless people give prior notice that they're up to some mischief, nobody will stop them from coming upstairs!
But people like G. are notorious bandits!
Yes, it was G. I recognized. G. and D. are the two I recognized. I thought, “Oh, this is G.,” and the other, “Oh, this must be D.,” just from what came over their faces!
Oh, you can't imagine the crush! Twenty people at the same time. I thought, “Indeed, I am not protected physically.” Unless a murderer comes and says, “I've come to murder,” (laughing) they wouldn't stop him from coming up!
Nolini felt a bit embarrassed; he told me, “I tried to stop someone from passing but he pushed me aside, saying, ‘I too am a Minister’”!! (laughter)
Oh, they're so ridiculous!... What a farce!
Is there nothing particular you'd like to eat?
No, Mother, I really have everything I need.
Are you sure?
Everything, but everything.
Except a bit of padding!... Though it's true that it's too hot to eat. Do you feel hot?
Oh, yes, but one gets used to it.
With me, it's a wonderful thing (I give thanks to the Lord): I feel neither hot nor cold nor anything any more. But I can see that people suffer from heat.
I suffer when I write. When I write, I burn. I burn, my body literally burns! When I wrote the book on Sri Aurobindo, I was exhausted – it burns me, you see, I am ablaze! And then I get covered all over with salt: I don't sweat but I get covered with salt!
Oh, you're really a man of the West.
It's true, people are generally built for the place where they are to live, but in my case, I felt comfortable only here. Up to the age of thirty, my whole childhood and youth, I always felt cold – always cold. And in winter... Yet I went skating, did exercises, I led a very active life – but cold, terribly cold! I felt as if I lacked the sun. But when I came here: “Ah, at last! (Mother takes a breath) Now I am comfortable.” The first year when I came here, bringing all that accumulated cold in my body, at the height of summer, in this season, I was going about in a woolen suit! A skirt, a blouse and a cloak. People would stare at me.... I didn't even notice it – it was my natural dress.
When I left again, I went by boat (people didn't travel by plane at the time), and when I came to the middle of the Mediterranean, I fell sick – sick from the cold, in the Mediterranean! So you see, I was built for the work here, (laughing) it was foreseen!
But couldn't we do something about that burning sensation?
Oh, as long as I don't write, it doesn't matter – I don't suppose I'm going to write books all the time?!
Next time, I'll give you a bottle of lotion. Before writing, rub yourself with it! (laughter) It keeps you cool.
1 Kshatrya: the caste of warriors and kings.
2 Silvius Craciunas, author of The Lost Footstep.
3 Yuvaraj Karan Singh.
4 Gandhi arrived in India in January 1915 from Africa. He started his “noncooperation” campaign in 1920.
5 See Agenda III, November 17, 1962, p. 420.