Mother of memories

Author: Francois Gautier
Publication: The Pioneer
Date: March 19, 2003

At a time when we see politicians, journalists, philosophers, and even spiritualists utter only what is “politically correct”, at a time when nobody really dares to call a spade a spade – whether it is the Chinese threat to India, the 20 millions Bangladeshis illegally staying in this country, or the bypassing of India as a democratic superpower by the West – it is time we went over what the Mother of Pondicherry, whose 125th birth anniversary falls this year, said on these subjects so long ago, but all of which is still very pertinent today.

What the Mother uttered is extremely interesting for several reasons. First, she was French, and embodied the best qualities of France: Forthrightness, courage and this same fearless frankness which kindled the French Revolution and heralded an era of democracy in Europe: “Liberti Igaliti, Fraterniti.” Second, the Mother was not only the spiritual companion of India’s great prophet, Sri Aurobindo, but also her most faithful disciple. Sri Aurobindo once said that nobody could match the surrender of the Mother. Thus, naturally, she espoused Sri Aurobindo’s ideals on India, particularly the political vision which he formulated, when he was the most ardent nationalist and revolutionary, an episode of his life which even some of his disciples have buried, forgetting that Sri Aurobindo had reenacted the Bhagavad Gita’s extraordinary message: That force and violence can also sometimes be dharma, duty. Indeed, many of Sri Aurobindo’s disciples have forgotten that he let his own brother fabricate bombs in his house.

Third, the Mother is also Durga. And it is under this form that her children still pray to her: “Mother Durga! Giver of force and love and knowledge, terrible art thou in thy own self of might, Mother beautiful and fierce. In the battle of life, in India’s battle, we are warriors commissioned by thee; Mother give to our heart and mind a Titan’s energy, to our soul.” Thus the Mother is extremely forthright and clear in her sayings and writings on the problems India is facing today at the hands of Pakistan, China, Bangladesh or the US. This is particularly true in her Agenda, her intimate conversations with her French disciple, Satprem, where she expressed herself freely.

On Bangladesh, the Mother said on the eve of the 1971 war with Pakistan: “Can you imagine that along with the refugees, Pakistanis have entered India, and they have poisoned wells and rivers. Some of them were caught in the act. It’s dreadful.” Then, Satprem asks: “But Mother, shouldn’t the problem of India and Pakistan be settled once for all?” And this is the Mother’s unequivocal answer: “That’s what I was hoping for. But they’ve made…such a mess with this whole Bangladesh affair, it’s dreadful – dreadful. Now, they have found a solution: The Americans are trying to come to an agreement with the Chinese – to help Pakistan massacre people. That’s the last straw!” (July 17 1971). She had also faith in the Indian Army, and much less faith in the Government. What she said 30 years ago could be applied even today: “The Army is ready to fight up there on the borders of India and Bangladesh, but it is forever waiting for the Government to give the order” (September 15 1971).

Has anything changed today? Bangladesh has not only forgotten that it owes its freedom to Indian soldiers, but has also turned inimical to India, giving shelter to Islamic separatists groups. And who can forget the horrible way India’s BSF soldiers were mutilated by the Bangladesh Rifles? It would be enough for India to close the Farakka dam for three days to bring Bangladesh to its knees, or for a few Mirages to fly over Dhaka. But as usual Indian leaders are trapped in the goody image of the big brother and the “Army is forever awaiting the Government’s orders”.

The Mother was equally forthright on Pakistan. When Satprem tells her: “Mother, it is obvious that India is the symbol of the New World in formation, so India must be ‘one’ symbolically, in order for the New World to see the light of day;” the Mother answers succinctly: “Yes.” Satprem continues: “Consequently, Pakistan has to disappear”. “But, of course,” is the Mother’s reply! And she adds: “India already missed one chance. But now… it shouldn’t miss this one” (April 7, 1971). And when she learns that the USSR is putting pressure on India to negotiate with Pakistan, she exclaims raising her arms: “Everything has to be started all over again.” We know the situation today: Every time the Indian Army has painfully made gains, the Indian Government, whether of the Congress or the BJP, has surrendered it. The latest was the mobilising of the entire Indian Army along the border with Pakistan at great cost, to finally call them back under pressure from the US. That day, Islamabad knew that it could get away with anything.

But it is probably for China that the Mother reserves her strongest words. Satprem: “The latest argument is that Pakistan wants India to declare war so she can call China to her aid.” Replies the Mother: “In any case the Chinese are on Pakistan’s side as they are already there in Pakistan.” Satprem: “Mother, don’t forget that India betrayed Tibet! When Tibet was invaded by the Chinese, India kept its mouth, ears and eyes shut and did nothing to help the Tibetans.” Mother: “Quite some time ago I had a vision of China invading India, even South India. And that would be the worst of catastrophes. It will probably take centuries before things can return to normalcy (silence). And the Chinese are very intelligent (Mother goes within for a long time).”

Today this might seem a little far-fetched, except that the Chinese are still claiming huge chunks of India such as Arunachal Pradesh or Sikkim, and have given the nuclear capability to Pakistan and are blocking India’s entry as a permanent member of the UN, whereas they got theirs because of India’s support. Yet, we still see Indian leaders talking about “the everlasting Indo-Chinese friendship”.

Finally, the Mother, although she had great hope from America, did not mince her words. Satprem: “Mother, do you know that the President of the United States (Nixon) is going to China?” Mother: “Yes, can you beat that!” Satprem: “They also have quietly started giving economic aid to Pakistan again; they are doing it discreetly, but they are doing it. Their intention is to put Pakistan back on its feet.” Mother: “They’re mad! India missed the first chance; it missed the second chance; now we don’t know when it will come again” (Mother strikes her forehead, then shakes her head several times). Today, we see that the United States, instead of choosing India – a democratic, pro-west, secular country – as a frontline state for its war on terrorism, has favoured Pakistan, a non-democratic, non-secular and often anti-west nation. How can Mr George Bush be so short-sighted? It is not Iraq he should target, but Pakistan!

Let us all then remember the Mother’s strong words (which might displease some of her disciples, who would rather, as Satprem aptly says, “lock Mother and Sri Aurobindo in their Samadhi, so that they can go on with their little spiritualised routine, instead of putting their vision into practice”) on the year of Her 125th birth anniversary. Let the strong spirit of Durga and Sri Aurobindo pervade India and make us the Kshatriyas of the 21st century.

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