During the lifetimes of Sri Aurobindo and the Mother, a number of people gathered around them to receive guidance in their yoga. Today the Masters are no longer in the physical but these recipients of their Grace are "anchors of the Light and an inspiration to countless many who have never been in their physical presence".
"The author has selected twelve such disciples and, in these interviews, has drawn out the thread of the spiritual life that has grown in them through their contact with the Masters."
This is indeed a gem of a book. I have been enthusiastically recommending it to people who want an insider's view of the integral yoga of Sri Aurobindo and the Mother. It is neither a handbook of the philosophy of integral yoga nor a guide to the practice of it. It does something special; it opens for you a whole new world which very few know exists the world illumined by Sri Aurobindo's light and the Mother's love. It gives you the imaginative experience of directly bathing in the effulgence of their grace.
Anie Nunnally's book is a set of interviews with twelve people whose lives have been transformed by Sri Aurobindo and the Mother. It has answered for me several questions I have always wanted to ask but would never have been able to ask. This is because my questions pertained to the inner lives of sadhaks, some of whom I have observed from a distance for many years now, but a sadhak's inner life is always very private and personal. Most of the people whom the author has interviewed in this book are brilliant people in their own right and would have won outstanding success in the world outside. What is it that held them captive for life to this yoga and what is it they have achieved by their single-minded pursuit of a spiritual life under Sri Aurobindo and the Mother? These were my questions and I find them answered here in a large measure. You get here some idea of what treasures of inner felicity and fulfilment have been bequeathed to each one of them by Sri Aurobindo and the Mother.
Anie herself has been a follower of this spiritual path and has spent some years both in Pondicherry and at Auroville. She is gentle with her subjects and has a genuine admiration for them. By using sympathetic and non-intimidating questions, she invites her subjects to open up and the result is twelve different short `autobiographies' dealing primarily with their inner growth and psychic blossoming. This book also shows how even today when the two Gurus of this Yoga are no more with us in their physical bodies, they continue to respond as before and guide their disciples.
Anie's subjects are all illustrious Aurobindonians. Amal is an outstanding poet and critic, and is one of the most brilliant academic minds India has produced in our time. Udar had a degree in aeronautical engineering from the London University; he founded the Harpagon Atelier and was one of the personal secretaries to the Mother. Gauri Pinto, his daughter, has been a teacher in the Sri Aurobindo International Centre of Education. Tehmi Masalawalla was a poet, translator and teacher all her life. Sunanda Poddar was associated for years with SABDA and is currently the caretaker of "Srismriti", the Mother's Museum. Richard Pearson is a teacher, botanist, and editor of Flowers and Their Messages.
Jhumur Bhattacharya is a teacher at Knowledge (the Higher Course of the Centre of Education) and has taught for many years Savitri, The Life Divine
, and the Mother's Entretiens.
Anurakta (Anthony David Rochelle) has for decades been the manager of the Sri Aurobindo Hand Made Paper factory. Anu Purani has been a teacher, writer and dancer. Aster Patel received a Ph.D. from Sorbonne and has taught at Knowledge and worked for Auroville for many years. Krishna Tewari is a retired two-star major general of the Indian army and is in charge of Auroville Archives. Amrit Iriyama, a Japanese American, has worked for many years at the Matrimandir Gardens and Nursery. Each one of the interviewed disciples is like a quarry of precious stones and the author has delved deep into their yogic beings and brought out for us many a diamond of dazzling beauty. I am afraid we may not have space for more than one of them here.
Listen to Tehmiben, then eighty-four, answering the question what yoga has done for her: "To live constantly in the consciousness of the Divine, to live consciously with the Mother and in the Mother at all times, no matter what I am doing, what I am thinking, has been the goal. To know that it is all her doing and not ours and that she is molding us and shaping us and will not turn away from us. That has been my constant experience all these years and remains so. That is why I have always been reluctant to go outside the Ashram or Pondicherry... I have found complete fulfilment in the Ashram life and am absolutely happy here."
Mangesh Nadkarni is a retired professor of Linguistics, who loves to read Sri Aurobindo and the Mother and to speak and write about them.