Here is an interesting history of how Russians came into contact with Sri Aurobindo during the time of the Soviet Union. This article was originally posted on the website of Varuna Energy & Water Pvt. Ltd., which is a unit based in Auroville.
Xu Fancheng (Chinese: 徐梵澄) was born in Changsha, Hunan province, on 26th October 1909. As a child he studied classical Chinese. In 1929 he went to Germany to study the History of Art at Heidelberg University. He also practiced wood engraving there and became the first Chinese artist of the new style wood engraving. He came back to China in 1932, and encouraged by Luxun (one of the most famous writers of modern China), he started to translate the works of Nietzsche from German into Chinese, and became the first expert of Nietzsche’s philosophy in China.
Dr. D. B. Bisht had a distinguished career in the medical profession. He was the Director-General of Health Services, Govt. of India, and upon retirement joined the World Health Organisation. While Dr. Bisht was posted at JIPMER in Pondicherry, he was called to attend on the Mother and served as her physician. He captured the interactions he had with her in a book titled “Mother and me“. I haven’t read the book but I am reproducing two reviews of this book in this post.
Mahabiplabi Arabindo is a 1971 Bengali film (don’t worry, it has English subtitles) which covers the life of Sri Aurobindo from his return to India in 1892 to his retirement to Pondicherry in 1910. Angel Television has uploaded the movie on youtube in 13 parts. The duration of this movie is about two hours. I have added brief descriptions of the content before each clip below.
Before she became the Mother of the Sri Aurobindo Ashram, Mirra Alfassa was a spiritual seeker like any other, reading books on mysticism, communing with nature, probing the recondite worlds of her dreams, meeting with fellow seekers, and generally assimilating the mysterious intimations of a vaster consciousness that were being disclosed to her from time to time. Along the way, she read Swami Vivekananda’s book on Raja Yoga and found it illuminating. Jnanendranath Chakravarty, who was visiting Paris, gave her a French translation of the Bhagavad Gita and asked her to read it with the understanding that Krishna was the symbol of the immanent God, the inner Godhead .
In 1934, Mahatma Gandhi, the leader of the Indian freedom struggle, sought to meet Sri Aurobindo because they had never met in person before. The latter declined the request because he didn’t want to break the seclusion that he had been observing since 1926. Strangely, the Mother who had no such restriction also declined to meet him. By combining the correspondence available in the Collected Works of Mahatma Gandhi with the records in the Collected Works of Sri Aurobindo, it is possible to build a complete picture of why this important meeting never transpired. One of Mahatma Gandhi’s letters seen below also furnishes us with a second-hand account of daily life in the Sri Aurobindo Ashram.