Some disciples of Sri Aurobindo and the Mother

These are life-stories and interviews of some disciples of Sri Aurobindo and the Mother.

Judith Tyberg (Jyotipriya)

She was the founder of the Sri Aurobindo center of Los Angeles.   Read her biography here

Judith Tyberg (Jyotipriya)

Gauri Pinto

Anie: What was your earliest recollection of the Mother and Sri Aurobindo? What were you told about the Mother in early childhood and when did you realize she was someone special, not like everyone else?

Gauri: When we used to go for the balcony darshans when I was still very small, I would say “Big Mama is coming, Big Mama is coming.” I was brought up essentially with no religion. I was very close to nature and animals. When I thought of God, I saw Sri Aurobindo’s image. Also, I did not think of the Mother as a human being. It wasn’t planned out for me that she would appear as a Goddess, but that’s how it was in actuality. The Mother told my mother that I was a very old soul.

When we would go up to see Mother on darshan days, she was like a mother to all of us. She taught us children so much. We would sit down before her and she would pet us on the head. We would go to the Mother and have lunch with her. The queues were long waiting to see Sri Aurobindo. We would see him four times a year. I saw him up to the age of thirteen, at which time he left his body in 1950. He was for me the personification of compassion. There was always so much light around him. I always saw this light around him and a loving, compassionate smile on his face….

Click here to read the full interview

Tehmi Masalawalla

Anie: Would you describe your first darshan with Mother and Sri Aurobindo, or share any of the darshan experiences you had with them?

Tehmi: I saw the Mother twice a day. She used to give darshan in the mornings in the meditation hall. In the evenings we would go up for darshan to the top of the staircase. My first darshan with Mother I saw her sitting at the top of the stairs wearing the most exquisitely beautiful blue sari. Her eyes were something indescribable. I was overwhelmed by the experience. She took us over immediately.

Sri Aurobindo’s power was quite different. I saw him only when he gave dar-shans four times a year. We passed by him quickly one by one, but he transferred so much force into each of us in such a short amount of time. I remember one April darshan in the afternoon sitting in the courtyard waiting to go upstairs. I could feel, palpably, the entire courtyard rocking back and forth from the amount of force emanating from his presence. This is one of the reasons children were not allowed in the Ashram until a certain age. The force was too strong and they would often fall ill.

During my first darshan, as I was approaching the inner room, when I reached the door I could feel two rays of light entering my chest. I was still standing at the door when I felt this. When I stood in front of Sri Aurobindo it was as though I was in a trance. I walked away still in that state…..

Click here to read the full interview with Tehmi.

Sunanda Poddar

Anie: Have you ever seen Mother and Sri Aurobindo in the subtle worlds?

Sunanda: Yes, I have seen them on the subtle planes. They appear as human forms, but when they “walk” they advance without taking steps. They move as though in a gliding motion over the subtle surfaces. Generally Sri Aurobindo is seen in white, blue, and gold. The Mother has all the subtle pastel colors.

Click here to read the full interview.

Richard Pearson

Anie: Will you please share your experience of the first darshan with Sri Aurobindo?

Richard: In the early days, there was no line except from the Meditation Hall. Everyone sat in the courtyard. We had a three-day holiday from school: the day before darshan, Darshan Day, and the day after, which was called Garland Day. It felt as though one walked in some other world. We entered the darshan room and it felt like a cool, dense forest, intense and quiet. Although I was short and there were tall people in front of me and I could not see, I could feel a solid peace—something very solid . . . a force, a light, intangible but inexpressible.

Even though they sat in the anteroom, one had a sense of being in the same room with Mother and Sri Aurobindo. For me as a child, Sri Aurobindo was like viewing a mountain. He was so majestic. When I was still quite young, I used to wonder what he was doing in his room all day and why we only saw him four times a year. The Mother seemed like a queen when she sat next to Sri Aurobindo. Sri Aurobindo was truly regal. His presence was felt even before standing in front of him. There was a great coolness in the room. The very first time I entered the Ashram, I could feel this coolness and peace in the atmosphere. To this day when I am in a state of deep quietude, I can still feel this atmosphere of Sri Aurobindo’s darshan strongly. Sri Aurobindo looked austere and impassive. The Mother was radiant and smiling!

Click here to read the full interview.

Margaret Woodrow Wilson (Nishtha)

She was the daughter of the 28th President of the United States  Woodrow Wilson.  She went to Pondicherry in 1938 to live in the Ashram.  Read about her here.

Margaret Woodrow Wilson (Nishtha)

See Also

  1. Anie Nunnally’s book The Golden Path: Interviews with Disciples of Sri Aurobindo and The Mother from which many of these interviews are excerpted.

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16 thoughts on “Some disciples of Sri Aurobindo and the Mother

  1. kalpana

    Thanks Sandeep- reading these posts shows the love and care that Sri Aurobindo and Mother showed to disciples- there is a warmth in those little,personal details.

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  5. uma

    Thank you so much ji, really how blessed are the disciples to be near to the Mother and the Master. And thanks to read the experiences of the great souls.

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  8. Sandeep Post author

    Extracts of Margaret Woodrow Wilson’s letters to her friend Lois – written from the Sri Aurobindo Ashram, Pondicherry.

    ‘But Mother leaves us free to follow our own promptings. She told me in the first interview that there were no pledges of any kind here as they are “not true”. “Here it is only the Divine”, she said.

    That pregnant saying I am only gradually learning to recognise, the significance of this place. I am beginning to see that all the bondage here as elsewhere and everywhere are our own making – that the Divine imposes no bondage of any kind whatsoever.’

    ‘Sometimes I feel as if the Divine were whispering to my soul and I, in order to catch the faintest word, am listening as I have never listened before. Sometimes it is as if the Beloved and I were telling each other secrets that none can share except in a wordless communion with “us”.’

    ‘But I will note, simply as one notes a ‘happening’, that the closer I feel to Mother and Sri Aurobindo, the closer I feel too as an immediate result sometimes, to those other dear ones.’

    ‘.. I was transported into an inner plane of being which I recognise as the same one I was in inwardly at certain moments when my singing was more than ordinarily subjective.’

    ‘But when I look at the Mother in the morning sunlight on her terrace from which she sends each of us a shaft of love more brilliant than any light that was ever seen on snowy crests, or when in the evening I see her standing in the meditation hall, still in the immutable calm, the Unchanging One, I know that the vast stillness of Mont Blanc is but a faint imitation of that other Peace that She is.’

    ‘Oh Lois, one cannot talk about Sri Aurobindo and the Mother – one can only suggest in some such words as these that they are what we are seeking, that which we will be in the outer man as now we are in the inner Reality. They are consciously that.’

    ‘.. One day in a California garden, when the intensity of my enjoyment provoked the rather humorous thought – “I wonder if God enjoys this in exactly this way – if he doesn’t, I’m sorry for him” – then came the idea as a kind of realisation, “it is He that is enjoying this way – perhaps that is the reason for me.’

    ‘..I think I can say that some kind of ‘experience’ has began for me, for I strike a quiet nearly every day now in meditation in which the consciousness is purer, more whole than in the ordinary state. One of the disciples says that I am beginning to touch the Purusha. The consciousness that I touch, just barely touch (it seems), is situated in the heart centre and Lois, it is so sweet and so clear that now-a-days I feel that those moments are my only conscious moments of the day. That the rest of the time, which is of course most of the time, I am in a sort of unconscious state! If I can have this feeling when I have barely touched something, still thru a veil, what must the unveiled Purusha consciousness be! There is such a thing as getting near the central psychic being and feeling its influence. And the luminousness of mind that comes afterwards makes me feel as if I have never lived or understood anything at all before! I feel like a discoverer every day. The other day in amusement at myself for my excitement over my “petites decouvertes” I said to myself “Why, little Christopher Columbus is discovering India at last!” It is true that America must discover India’s secrets before she can discover herself.


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  11. mike

    A Great Soul: l hadn’t heard of this disciple before, but what an example of humility.
    Picture here:

    “I have been thinking for sometime about a very great personality of the Ashram. He remains, so to say, an unsung hero, but a true child of the Mother and Sri Aurobindo.

    It appears one day, suddenly it was Sri Aurobindo who said: “Where is Gangadharan?”

    Nobody seemed to know.

    Sri Aurobindo: “All of you are centred around your own selves, and you don’t care about him because he is a simple man, but Gangadharan is constantly in our consciousness. He is a great soul. He is lying ill in his room, somebody kindly go and attend him.”

    Immediately, Arvamedu Iyengar alias Amrita-da went to his room. He found Gangadharan-ji lying on the floor. He was unable to get up even. From several days he had not even his food. But it did not in the least matter to Gangadharan-ji. He was simply calling the name of the Mother, and that’s about it!

    Sri Gangadharan-ji was a fisherman and a local Tamil boy, born on 24 of July 1913, in a small coastal village of Veerampattinam, south of Ariankuppam, some 6km south of Pondicherry.

    Now in the 1930s the Mother used to go out for long drives. Some of you may have even read in Bulletin the story of a temple that she had visited at Veerampattinam on one of those outings. However, after the visit as she was returning, a young man was strangely fascinated by the Mother and he ran behind Her car, all the way to the Ashram at Pondicherry. Naturally, he was not allowed in the Ashram premises. He went on insisting that he wanted to see the Mother and said he wanted to stay here in the Ashram. The parents of the lad came from Veerampattinam, and tried a lot and cried too. But the lad was steadfast in his resolve. Finally, the Mother advised the parents that, it is best he stays here as he wants to do.

    So on 24th of July, 1933, exactly at the age of 20, on his birthday, Sri Gangadharan-ji joined the Ashram.

    He was given the work of supervising the cleaning of all the WCs of the houses of Ashram in the Sanitary Department, which he did till 1987. He was addressed by everybody as brother Gangadharan, because he was always smiling and was from his heart a true brother to all.

    He stayed all his life in a very small room which was like a store, maybe 6’x12′, next to Manoj-da’s room. It is only at the very end we could give him a good room, which he accepted after a lot of persuation.

    As he advanced in age I was looking after his small needs, such as providing biscuits, bringing the money from cashier’s room meant for his servant, and so on. For that the gratitude he showered was unthinkable. Even now, tears roll down as I remember it.

    He was a great saint, and the spiritual experiences he wrote are of great value, written by a simple heart! Such was the simplicity and true greatness of this man that even his servant has become a saint!

    Towards the end, he was not keeping well for several years. His relatives from Veerampattinam wanted to take him back. But all that he agreed was they could do his last rites after his death at Veerampattinam. Permission was taken from Dyuman-bhai to that effect.

    Now, he had some urinary problem, and he had probably not passed urine for a couple of days. So I told him, on 16th of August, 1992, in the late morning, “Gangadharan-ji, let us go to the JIPMER hospital, so that this painful situation of the urine will be at least solved.”

    He replied: “Brother, my time has come.”

    I insisted, “Gangadharan-ji, that time comes for all of us, but why physically suffer now?”

    He would not listen. So, finally, I called Manoj-da to tell him. As soon as a senior like Manoj-da told him, he readily agreed to go to JIPMER.

    At 1.10 p.m. I took him to the hospital. On our way to the hospital we were talking all the while, and he talked normally, even when we were in front of the casualty ward. I went in and returned with the doctor in less than 2 minutes. The doctor declared, “You have brought us a dead body!”

    So I returned back to Ashram. Gangadharan-ji was taken to Veerampattinam. For three days there was no deterioration in his body. Finally, on the 4th day, he was cremated on the Veerampattinam beach, on the backdrop of the vast ocean and the infinite blue sky above.

    What a sublime and indescribable atmosphere there was!”

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