Conversation with Michel Danino (20 March 1997, Kotagiri) - Audio

Michel: Another thing you mentioned was that Mother said the first thing to do is to change the constitution. So I would like you to tell me if you remember certain important things like that because they're not noted anywhere.

In 1970, permit me to speak in English, Mother told me live for India 24 hours out of 24 hours every day and this inspired me to make a study of India and along with some other colleagues. We discussed several problems of india and then at a certain time, I had the privilege of putting some questions to the Mother and she very kindly answered these questions. As I told you at one time She told me that She wanted to bring a large number of women in the parliament. She even said that we should organize all over the country centers of women. She even gave the name and said they should be called Shakti Centers. She had also told me that we should all read Sri Aurobindo because Sri Aurobindo had given solutions to all the problems but to find these solutions we have to read both extensively and intensively and this had also inspired me to read once again many books of Sri Aurobindo which I did earlier but now in the new light and with new inspiration, I began to read them. I read particularly The Foundations of Indian Culture, The Ideal of Human Unity, The Human Cycle, Essays on the Gita and the Life Divine.

In The Life Divine I'd come across a very important sentence, which had struck me very much. And based upon that sentence, I made a statement to the Mother that we should create in the country a number of communes, small Aurovilles, all over the country and it should have the basic principle which Sri Aurobindo has stated in The Life Divine of which I spoke earlier. And that statement was, I'm not able to go exactly word by word but I'll tell you the basic meaning of that sentence, 'man should not live for himself, nor for his family, nor for the group, nor for the society, nor for the country, nor for humanity but for the Divine and Divine alone.

I added that in addition to this basic proposition, we should have in each commune collective property so that nobody claims any property as his own and that everyone should be given the facility to grow towards self perfection and society must serve the individual and the individual should serve society for their mutual perfection.' And when I said this Mother was so pleased and She said: 'Excellent, excellent, excellent'. And She said, so enthusiastically, that Champaklal Ji who was just near the Mother, standing near Her he said: 'Kireet, make thousands of copies of this statement and distribute all over'. So this was a very inspiring moment in my life.

Mother told me that I should bring together all that Sri Aurobindo has said on 'materialism'1. This was in the context of a statement I made to the Mother that I felt that the youths of India need our urgent attention. And She said: 'Yes, it is extremely important'. And then I said that I would like to make a compilation from the writings of Sri Aurobindo on this subject. So She said that I should go to her every evening and read my compilation to Her. And in that context She said that I should first begin with what Sri Aurobindo has said about materialism.

Then I prepared my compilation on this subject and read out to her and She listened to my compilation very, very attentively and suggested even the placement of paragraphs so that everything reads logically and in regard to a few statements, when I had doubt whether a certain statement should be given or not, then She even pointed out, which one of them should be accepted which one of them should not be; it was in detail that She guided me to make this compilation on materialism. For this purpose I had to read once again the whole of The Life Divine to make this compilation. There was one sentence which I had taken from The Life Divine to begin with the whole compilation and the following sentence Mother liked so much, it was from Sri Aurobindo and She repeated this statement, twice. Once I spoke, that sentence was 'all life must be accepted but all life must be transformed'; when I uttered this sentence Mother said 'truth ela' and She repeated and She said: 'All life must be accepted but all life must be transformed'; and She repeated again: 'all life must be accepted but all life must be transformed'.

I felt extremely happy when Mother spoke these words again. And then I thought that I will present to the youth in my compilation Sri Aurobindo's statements on the psychology of the human being, starting from the inconscient to the superconscient and my idea was to read first of all on this inconscient, subconscient and then the surface consciousness and then the subliminal consciousness and then the superconscient and right up to the Supermind. So on one day I had taken all the statements on the inconscient and I read them out, She approved all the quotations that I had put before her but as it were to criticize me, or to put me on the right road, She said: 'Is there nothing that Sri Aurobindo has written on the Supermind'? I was immediately corrected and then I said: Mother he has written so much on the supermind, so Mother said bring to me what Sri Aurobindo has said on the supermind.

So from that time onward I took to the Mother, several quotations on the Supermind and all the quotations that I took to her, She approved all of them. And I felt that She was very happy with every statement on the Supermind. There was one statement in The Life Divine which describes the superman as distinguished from the asura and rakshasa. This is towards the end of The Life Divine. And when I read this whole passage She said this is so important and She said can you give me a copy of this statement. So I said Mother I will bring tomorrow so She said: 'I want to send this to Yvonne and She said that I will write a letter to Yvonne' and She wrote that letter in my presence to Yvonne saying that 'I have here a statement on the Supermind and I thought it will interest you very much' and then Mother signed it with her blessings and She put it in the envelope and She said as soon as you can. (I had typed it out the previous night; it was ready with me and I gave it to him.) But I must say that all the quotations I had taken on the Supermind, She was very happy with all of them but my full compilation was never fully read out to the Mother, it remained only at that stage still on the Supermind. So that booklet has never come out all that I had compiled for the youth. So that remains yet to be, one day to be yet to be brought out and even now I feel it is the most urgent work and one has to be brought up.

Michel: Anything that was too highly not philosophical because someone is never philosophical but which is too much out of the reach of the normal in the life, and in fact readers have been able to read, many readers for the first time felt they couldn't understand Sri Aurobindo. Whereas if they take The Life Divine or if they take even the Synthesis they are lost, usually.)

At one time I had the opportunity of editing a journal called Sri Aurobindo's Action for a few months and during that period I had the privilege of asking the Mother as to what I should put into the journal? So She said two or three things which are very important. She said: 'Do not put anything that Sri Aurobindo has said before 1910 because after coming to Pondicherry Sri Aurobindo had completely changed. This was the first thing She told me. Secondly She said that I should put the photograph of Sri Aurobindo in every issue on the first page and She told me that it should be Sri Aurobindo, this picture which Satprem has put on his book The Adventure of Consciousness that is the picture that Mother showed me and She said you should put this picture.

And then I collected citations from Sri Aurobindo on social and political life. And this I had collected mainly from The Life Divine, The Human Cycles and The Ideal of Humanity Unity and I had at one stage collected nearly 60 or 70 quotations and to each one or each group of quotations, I had given my own headings. And I was very particular that Mother approved of those headings which I had written so that there is no distortion and I wanted to be very scrupulous. So Mother was very kind and I read out to Her all the headings that I had put and also read out to Her all the quotations that I had collected over a few days and that has been published later on, the entire booklet. It is on the title of Social Change or something like that but the entire booklet has been published. (Towards a New Social Order)2. And the entire thing that I had collected I had brought out in one single issue of Sri Aurobindo Action, it was an enlarged issue. And there one was one very important remark She had made at that time and after having read the entire compilation, She said: 'You will give this little by little, no'? So I said Mother, if I gave little by little there is a big difficulty because in Sri Aurobindo's writing unless you see whole, very often it may seem as if Sri Aurobindo is advocating the opponent's point of view and unless one brings in other elements, the subsequent quotations and writings the entire sense does not become very clear.

So She said: 'Yes, that is true'. So I said Mother I would like to put the entire compilation in one go, in one issue. So She approved of this but my own feeling afterwards was that I made a mistake. My own feeling was that if you put this whole thing at one stroke, people do not read the whole thing, they don't have that patience to go through the whole thing; so I concluded that Mother's remark that She had made of bringing out little by little had great wisdom and although She approved of what my proposal to bring all in one issue, I thought it was only a concession She made to my feeling. But today for example, I fully see that it would have been much better if I had to bring out that compilation little by little and in answer to the idea that I had that unless you put totality, you may do injustice to Sri Aurobindo's views. I feel personally that that is true but then you have to select in such a way that within a short span you bring the totality but to give the totality at one stroke in so many pages, I felt that that was not really wise. And I would like to say that what Mother had remarked in the beginning had really the wisdom and if Mother permitted me to do according to my suggestion, it was only her concession to me. During that time I had also the opportunity of presenting to the Mother certain specific problems, in regard to India.

Michel: What problems?

These problems, first of all for example I had put one question: 'Mother what is the most important thing that we should do in India'? So She said: 'The first thing that you ought to do is to change the constitution in such a way that only those people who combine honesty and capability should come to power', and She added that 'normally people who are honest are not capable and those who are capable are not honest' therefore She said: 'It is very important that people who combine these two, they should be able to enter into the seat of power.' This was a very great revelation to me and I felt that we should all work for the change in the Constitution of India

In fact I must tell you that for 25 years thereafter I have been in search of those formulas by which the Parliament and our Constitution can be changed and I am still on that work actually. The other thing that I had asked the Mother was about education. And I had said that the most important thing is to give a new aim to the educational system of India. So when I put this question as to what should be the aim of education She said give me a piece of paper and I shall write on it and then She wrote the following words on that, She said: 'There is a Divine Reality wanting to be manifested, we aim at knowing this Reality and working for its manifestation'. In fact this particular statement has helped me personally in my life, very much, because later on when I was asked to be Education Advisor to the Government of India, in my mind, in my heart, in my spirit, I was guided throughout by this statement of the Mother.

There was also a question regarding the place of patriotism in our plan of action in regard to India. And there was a conflict among some of us who were working together and there was one view that we should have only internationalism as our aim, to be universal and that when you are universal then there is no place for patriotism. And in my own heart, while I appreciated very much the ideal of universality, I had felt that patriotism is not contrary to universality and therefore I had drafted particularly a statement so that I may have from Mother herself directly, a solution to this problem. And this is what I wrote I read out to her and She approved of that statement in which I had tried to justify patriotism, which would not be contrary to internationalism.

So if you like I can read out to you what I drafted. I had written: 'When man grows in consciousness he will live more by laws of unity and harmony than by preferences and conflict. Internationalism and human unity will then be possible, so also multi-citizenship and world government. The spirit of patriotism as it is understood today is that competition and domination is wrong but to love one's country and to work for the highest expression of one's country is true patriotism. It is fully justified and should always remain.' I was very happy when Mother approved of this statement.

I had also asked a question when the Dalai Lama had come to the Mother. It is recorded but there is one question which is not there in the Agenda. And it is given to some extent but not in its fullness. She had been asked by the Dalai Lama and I was present at that time. India is very helpful to us who have come from Tibet but in what way would India be even more helpful to us? So Mother had said: 'that actually India should work for the federation of Tibet with India and then She had told me that Sri Aurobindo had the vision of a great federation of Afghanistan, Nepal, Bhutan, Tibet, Burma, Ceylon and Pakistan; so that all these countries would be united under one large federation. And this also has been very helpful to me in my work in India, throughout my career in the Education Ministry because very often I had to go to UNESCO and speak of the principle of federation and unity of India and other countries, which are neighbouring countries and how they can collaborate, cooperate and so on. So this was another important insight that Mother had given me. And then of course there are many other problems regarding religion.

Michel: Did Mother speak to you about religion?

About religion She had told me, when I had written something on religion and I had presented that draft on religion, She added to the draft. 'That religions and religious organizations will prove to be the greatest obstacle in our world'. And it is true that I have found subsequently in all my work in the Government of India that the greatest difficulty has come from this quarter. Whenever I wanted to bring about a change in the system of education on the lines of true spirituality, so that our children come to know of what may be called the true spiritual knowledge, then all the claims of religions, all the claims of exclusivism, all forms of fundamentalism whether recognized or not, they all have come in full play and obstructed the smooth passage of that kind of education which would have really been very beneficial to the country and to the children because children would have been able to see that exclusivism of religion can be transcended; and that one can be truly spiritual without being bound by any narrow exclusivism or claim.

Michel: Yes.

She had also told me about education for the country and She had said that you should have two systems of education, not one system. One system of education which would be for those students who cannot study by themselves, and another system of education where students can learn by themselves' and this again helped me very much in future, in the subsequent years because I always strove to create a condition in which while the ordinary system need not be disturbed too much; I tried to create conditions in which the second system of education could be created. And much effort was put in to create that second system of education and although it has taken no concrete shape but many ideas have been put, have been afloat and were put into the system so that in due course under favourable circumstances this new system of education can come into existence.

She had also told me one very important thing in the context of a question that was put by one of the teachers. What is Mother's real view about the importance of French in India? and She told me in answer to this question, She said: 'I may not be able to say this very clearly to people but I am telling you' She said that: 'The English that has come to India through the Britishers has brought with it a great dose of commercialism and this has been injurious to the spirit of India. this commercialism is not the genius of India, therefore She said that: I've always felt that there should be another foreign language which would counteract against the commercialism of the British and She added that: among the other foreign languages, French is a language which has great qualities; which is aristocracy of the intellect, and purity and clarity and precision that it can successfully counteract against the commercialism that is brought in by Britishers through English. So She said:' I do not know if you can realize this aim but this is my view about it.'

In fact, after receiving this answer from Mother, I myself had been inspired very much to study French and whatever little French I have studied thereafter is because of this great message that Mother gave. And in fact in subsequent years, I have really been convinced by what Mother has said. And very often when people have asked me this question, I always told them that there is a great weakness in the present Indian mind, namely to be influenced by the foreign. English is a foreign language which has these great demerits of commercialism. Therefore, if India has to revive back again to the purity of its genius then another foreign language has to be used. And therefore I am completely convinced that without bringing French into India in a very large way and putting French along with English we will not be able to regain our true genius.

And I also felt and this helped me very much when I was working in the UNESCO where I found that French is one of the six official languages of UNESCO. And I found how much useful it would be for Indian students to study French and even from a purely utilitarian point of view, it would be extremely useful if Indians studied French quite well. And I also understood because then I came into contact with France quite a lot, and I really understood that when we study French the qualities of purity of the mind, clarity of the mind, precision of expression, these are really the hallmarks of French culture. Whatever may be the present condition of French culture, or European culture as a whole but this method becomes extremely clear because I really realized that to the French the terminal point of thought is clarity. To the British the terminal point of thought is commercial gain. If you can show to the British − it pays, it is the final argument. To the French when you say it is clear, it is the final argument. And then I could see that the Indian genius which is spiritual is much more harmonious with what the French spirit represents through its clarity and purity. And therefore I understood why Mother spoke of the need for French to be given to the Indian students but this is my experience thereafter and today I am convinced about it.

Michel: If I remember very precisely, a formula of three languages consisting of one a foreign language. She didn't think that, for instance She didn't specify all that you have just said. Two, the mother-tongue. And three, a form of simplified Sanskrit, can you tell me more.

Well this is what She said when this question had arisen about languages; She had told me if you have to teach only one language to the students, it should be international language. Secondly, She said that for general development of students you should teach several languages. And She said the best way of teaching languages would be to have a kind of a comparative table in which you say that this word in this language has this meaning, in this language is this meaning, or equivalent to this word in this language this is the word, in another language this is the word, in another language this is the word, so that five, six languages children can learn very well.

In regard to Sanskrit, She said that it should be the real official language of the country and She said that it is only Sanskrit, which will be ultimately acceptable to the people of India. She said that Sanskrit is the only language which creates equal handicap for all the parts of the country. Yes, so that nobody has a special advantage over the others by adopting this language or that language, if Sanskrit is accepted everyone will have the equal handicap to learn it; so that nobody will have a natural advantage over the others and therefore nobody will have a complaint against it. Then She also added that when I speak of Sanskrit, it should be simple Sanskrit but not simplified. She made a distinction between the two. She said that it should be simple Sanskrit but not simplified. She did not specify how to distinguish between the two but She said that only Sri Aurobindo could have given that language because Sri Aurobindo had written. But I do not know where it is now. and then She referred to our colleague Jagan Nath Ji and Mother said that perhaps he can write something that is relevant to this.

On this subject again I have myself given a lot of thought, and I find that there are three or four elements in Sanskrit, which can be thought of as simplified and which should be distinguished from simple. For example there is a proposal that you should omit the dual in Sanskrit language, now this will simplify this language very much. But I personally feel that there could be real simplification but not making it simple.

Michel: It will be a loss.

It will be a loss. Then there are in the Sanskrit language there are many optional forms, which is only a matter of richness. Now omitting all of them there would be a loss, and it will simplify but it will not make the language simple. On the other hand there is a lot of difficulty in learning Sanskrit language because of sandhi, liaison. Now if you can remove sandhi, I think the language can become quite simple, very easy to understand and it does not do any harm to the language itself.

Michel: I do not know Sanskrit, sorry. Sri Aurobindo complained a lot about, increasingly complex compounds, compounded words because of course Sanskrit and in fact all Indian languages have that capacity to club words together but he says that in at a certain stage of Sanskrit, of classical Sanskrit it reached an exaggerated point, where compounds figures.....

Well that is true. Actually both in The Foundations of Indian Culture and elsewhere, Sri Aurobindo has written this and said that actually Sanskrit language itself was replaced by many other new languages of India because of the fact that Sanskrit began to become very ornamental, it became full of compounds and there was tremendous emphasis upon complexity of structure and construction. And that is very true even in Kalidasa, we find this ornamental value, in making it so ornamental and so full of compounds that it really becomes very overburdened.

Michel: I am told for instance that the Gita is a very simple Sanskrit basically.

Very true. In fact the Gita is the language of Vyasa. And the whole of Mahabharata has his great merit: it is simple, terse, serious. Simple and moves very smoothly.

Michel: So in fact for instance students were to be taught Sanskrit they could be taught the Gita simply.

I am told that Sri Aurobindo used to give to many beginners the Nalakhayna from the Mahabharata, the story of Nala and Damayanti because that is also a Sanskrit which is very simple and which can be understood very easily. Actually to learn Sanskrit we have to create new types of books. For each province you should have a special group. Take for example, Guajarati which I know very well because it is my mother-tongue. I would like to write, if I have time, a book in which I would give all the words which are in Gujarati the same as Sanskrit words. So that Gujarati students know that half the vocabulary is already known to them.

Michel: In fact Indian students should not learn Sanskrit through English that would be a big mistake. They should learn Sanskrit through their mother-tongue.

Through their mother-tongue or directly through Sanskrit with the help of their mother-tongue.

Michel: Yes, that's what I think.

Yes, that's quite true but in every province as I said you should have a book in which you have the list of all the words which are the same as in Sanskrit, so the student has first of all a great encouragement because he will see that at least for fifty percent or sixty percent or seventy percent even eighty percent their words in their own mother-tongue are the same as in Sanskrit.

Michel: Even in terms of grammar yeah Indian languages have a lot in common, there's a lot in common with Sanskrit.

Yes, quite a lot.

Michel: varying degrees but quite a lot even Tamil which is supposed to be Dravidian language. I have a friend here in Kunur who is a brahmin from Tanzavu and he has the foreign knowledge of literary Tamil and of Sanskrit. He's the disciple of the late Paramahansa Swami and he said that Tamil is supposed to be a highly grammatical language, you told me there is no such thing as Tamil grammar, it is all Sanskrit.

Oh! Really I see, so that's why it is one language which has to be studied by everybody. I think actually Mother said: 'When India will discover her soul Sanskrit will naturally become India's national language and official language'. Actually She said this to me. It's a very important statement. When India comes back to her soul then Sanskrit will automatically, will naturally become its national and official language. Therefore She said that in our school She wanted all children to be taught Sanskrit and we started with that. And when Auroville was established Mother put down Sanskrit as one of the languages to be done by everybody, whether it was Indian or foreigner. So that is the great importance Mother has laid upon Sanskrit and it is very, very important.

Michel: Now coming to the mother-tongue Sri Aurobindo said many times and even as late as 1920, if I remember when he wrote about national education, he insisted that for an Indian child to learn in English, led to his mental capacities to be automatically distorted. And many times during his revolutionary days but also after. Maybe even later I don't know. He said many times that an Indian student of course, could learn English but should follow his studies in his mother-tongue that was extremely important so that his mental makeup would not be distorted otherwise learning through English which is not a natural medium for him, would automatically lead to a great impoverishment of his mind capacity.

Well, on this question also I had put down three sentences for the Mother's approval and She approved. The following three sentences: the first sentence was the mother-tongue should be the medium of instruction. Second one was simple: Sanskrit should be the national language and third English should be the international language for the time being.

Michel: Yes, that makes sense.

And Mother approved of all the three statements. But I have given a lot of thought on this subject later on and although it is not relevant to your asking questions to me I would like to say the following that the word mother-tongue is to be rightly understood. I have many friends in Delhi and ask the question: what is your mother-tongue? And of course the answer is, − Hindi. Because most of these children belong to Delhi originally and their parents have Hindi language as their mother-tongue but when you really probe further you find that many Mothers speak to their children in English.

So if I ask a child very honestly, what is your mother-tongue? The language that the child has understood from his mother or her is English and Hindi both. So my question very often is that as we make a transition from the present day to the future our concept of mother- tongue has to change. And while it is true that mother-tongue is the most important instrument of education, it need not necessarily be that everyone should have only one mother-tongue. If the world is going to be multilingual, as it is going to be whether we like it or not, this is true not only of India but also France, where many parents will speak English along with French, it will happen in England where apart from English; many languages in England for example today children of Indian families have English and one of the Indian languages as their mother-tongue. So many Indian children in England have got two or three mother-tongues and so in the case of America where also people from all the world have come there. So what is the mother-tongue of a child? The languages in which the mother speaks, the languages through which the mother is putting the ideas into the tender brain of the child this to my mind is the definition of mother-tongue. Therefore the formula is correct that the mother-tongue should be the natural medium of instruction but in case the mother has got two or three languages in which she has been communicating to the child then I would say that the child has two or three mother-tongues. And therefore in the system of education this should be given its recognition and utilization.

Not only a choice, not only freedom of choice but it will mean that a child should have multilingual instructions, because then the child has a natural capacity for several languages at the same time

Michel: In any case several languages must be told but I still feel that today in India even today the vast majority of children, what you say the phenomenon you described, might be in the other classes of society or maybe in the urban classes of society. I look for instance here in Tamilnadu, even if with Tamilians we know very well English, the mother she will not speak English to the child, except if the family is Christian or Anglo-Indian or both. I know some Anglo-Indians in Kotagiri, they know only English and nothing else. They hardly know any language. Even though they are racially speaking, if the world has any meaning the roots are damaged already, their mother-tongue is English and nothing else. But in the last century if you go except perhaps the big cities, if you go to the small towns.....

But big cities mean not only like Delhi or Calcutta but even small cities today like Surat, Ahmadabad, Jamnagar parents speak to them in English and the mother-tongue. There are several families whom I know this is a fairly recent phenomenon. It's a phenomenon which has to be reckoned with. Take for example Zee channel of television, if you listen to the newscast they use so many English words now that you might say that even Hindi itself is changed, which is a great pity. To my mind the children should be taught to speak each language in the chaste language and when he speaks one language, he should not mix it up with some other language. This should be the norm and one should insist upon it and the national character is built by this kind of chastity. But instead of that, what is happening today is a terrible hotchpotch.

Michel: Yes, absolutely. Even in France there are lots of English words coming in, some French people are protesting saying that we should be on our guard and we should not let.....

But in India there is no such movement at all. I find surprising that people have taken up this Zee channel very easily and in fact some of them prefer it because there is so much mixture of English and now if this is on the Zee channel you can imagine how many people must be listening to it. It's not only the upper class or only a few elites, a large number of families today speak this language. In fact there is a great weakness in India and this was present even when I was a boy. That is to say when I was 10 years old and my own mother used to feel proud when she could use while speaking Gujarati, some words of English. This phenomenon is widespread in India that if you could speak some words even in foreign language, especially English particularly, you would feel that you are very modern, very progressive, very fashionable and this has increased now. So even the ordinary families are not necessarily of elite category but ordinary families this phenomenon is increasing quite a lot.

Michel: That is also a result of the poor level of education for the past years.

Also, because of the fact that we have not been able to cultivate our own mother-tongue as fully, as we ought to there are many words for example, I point out to my friends in Delhi, give me an equivalent of this particular word and they are they have to scratch their head for quite some time before they can answer me that means that the words don't come readily to them. I often ask the to give me a Hindi word which would be expressed exactly by the word, scarcely, rarely and they are not able to give me the word. If I say 'rarely' it happens, they give some words but they do not exactly correspond with the word 'rarely'. In Gujarati we have a word exactly. In Gujarati but in Hindi I've asked many people if they have a word for 'rare individuals' but if I say 'this rarely happens', they don't have an exact word for it. They have a word which says it does not happen often or it happens less times.

Michel: These things of course across languages.

But you know you want to make your language chaste, you should have these words come to your mind very readily.

Michel: Yes, of course but you see each language of India has its own genius as we know and it has developed its own literature but again since independence the Government has done very little to encourage the growth of regional literatures and to really help genuine good writers. Good writers have always made their names by themselves, never with the help of the government or only once they had already become known. So here also the Government is responsible because the original languages have been neglected, with the exception possibly of Hindi.

The point is that the government did something and they have tried to develop the languages but they have not underlined the importance that languages are never imposed officially in any country. If you want to develop a language you should encourage people and that encouragement has to be given not through a government machine but by various other non-governmental machineries, by general encouragement and this particular aspect has been neglected thoroughly. So that there is no movement in India to protect the chastity of any language, all the languages today in India after the independence have become transitional languages, within 50 years all the languages of India become transitional languages; there's so much mixture of English with our native languages that everywhere you find this phenomenon.

Michel: Once cultural life is really influenced. If the cultural life is in identity which it will relate to then the literature naturally follows. Then the languages are aligned but if the cultural life is not encouraged, not nurtured like a delicate plant then it tends to just dry up.

No, you have always in your country some very good writers, good authors who themselves love the chastity of the language so well and these people have to be encouraged. I have for example before me the example of Professor Higgins in Bernard Shaw's story, which has been made into a very big film 'My Fair Lady'. Where Professor Higgins is the hero and he has mastered the English language that by listening to anybody speaking English he would be able to say from which quarter of Great Britain a person hails and in fact the whole story starts with this and he was so particular that everyone should speak chaste English. And the whole theme you might say the whole film is this chastity of the language and he teaches one girl, who was selling flowers and this is a challenge he has taken upon himself then within a few months, six months, he said I will teach her English language proper so that She can stand among the royal families of the world speaking in English and he did it. So anyway, there should be an encouragement of this kind that there are some great authors and great linguists, who really want their languages to be chaste and to remain chaste and they should be encouraged. But there is no encouragement of this kind at all. There should be a real recognition of such people.

Michel: Usually they are recognized once they are dead with the exception of a great genius like Tagore but you don't see a single one like Tagore what he did in Bengali, how he set flowing.

In Bengal you really find that even in the elite people speak Bengali in a chaste manner, which is a tremendous tribute to the people of Bengal and tribute to some of the writers like Tagore and some others, so that is a very great example.

Michel: Anyway. So Kireet bhai, unless you remember something else very in a striking way we have covered quite a few things and basically of course politics we have not discussed multiple because that's probably too much linked to the events of the time and in any case we have all of Mother's messages, where She spoke about what India stands for and what She worked for and what She must represent in the world.

There is one story regarding Bangladesh. And perhaps you may feel interested to know this. In the month of March or April 1971, Mother had given in writing a message for Mrs. Indira Gandhi and she had written: 'Recognition of Bangladesh is imperative and urgent.' This message was transmitted to Mrs. Indira Gandhi. And the message that Sri Aurobindo had given on 15th of August 1947, when Sri Aurobindo had spoken of the necessity of uniting India and Pakistan. So she felt that I should be able to speak to Indira ji, directly so she requested her husband to take me to Mrs. Indira Gandhi and we both went to Mrs. Indira Gandhi. And when I met her before June 1971 and then I gave her a copy of the message of Sri Aurobindo 15th of August 1947 and she read that message and she said: "Yes I know, but this will take a long time. I said: no, it need not take a long time, it can happen anytime and then I said about Bangladesh. I said Mother has given me the message about Bangladesh and she became quite ruffled she said: what do you know about Bangladesh, she said. I said I know nothing about Bangladesh but I know that the Mother has given a message, so I have only a spiritual feeling about it but she said: 'You know I have people whose families are in Bangladesh and they are all suffering and you all people take up responsibilities without knowing what is in Bangladesh. So I said 'no', I am only speaking to you as a brother, who speaks to his sister on this subject. So she said come with me and she took me into another room and then she said: I do not know how to communicate with the Mother. There are people who come to me and speak to me in the name of the Mother and nobody explains to the Mother my difficulty. So I said if you want to tell me, I will tell the Mother. So she said my difficulty is that not a single Member of Parliament is agreeable to the recognition of Bangladesh, not even Jai Prakash Narayan. In that condition how can I function, and people go and tell the Mother and She hears people whatever people tell Her. So I said it is not true Mother has told me that She listens only to what the Divine tells her and to nobody else. So do not be worried on that account. So she smiled and then she said: 'But you know Mother is not well, nowadays She's sick'. So I said that is also wrong. Mother herself has said that She is not sick. She is undergoing a process of physical transformation and all that is seen outwardly is a consequence of the process of physical transformation, She is not sick at all. So she again felt happy and she said: 'My only difficulty is that there is nobody to support me'.

When I went back I told Pavitra-da, no I’m sorry. I told this to Andre-da and I told him that this is what my conversation with Indira ji was. And he communicated all this to the Mother. Then I don't know what happened but there was a change in the situation thereafter and as we all know in December action did take place and to prepare for this action we also know that she went round different countries of the world and produced an argument that what is happening in Bangladesh is not an internal affair of Pakistan but it is a question of genocide, which is a universal issue. I think she got this argument very well conveyed to people and she got help or support from many, many nations of the world and then this action took place. And then Mrs. Indra Gandhi wrote a letter to the Mother soon after the Bangladesh war was over in which she said and this whole letter is reproduced in the Agenda, volume number 12, the entire letter of Indra ji is there and Mother's answer also is there. So this was one political event of which I know personally and it is, it was a very important event because this is regarded as the golden hour of Indira Gandhi. This particular event, it was such an important thing and it is the Mother who really helped her.

There is another thing which I had heard and it was a letter from Mrs Indra Gandhi to the Mother in which she had written to ask whether India should produce a nuclear bomb or not? And although I have not read the letter but Pavitra-da had shown that letter to me and on the text of the first page of the letter, Mother had herself written an answer in big hand 'NO'. And then Pavitra-da had told me that Mother had said that India is the only country, which is a balance between two camps of the countries of the world and therefore it has a unique position, which can keep the world in peace. If India also produces nuclear bombs, this balance would be lost. This is what Pavitra-da told me that Mother had said to Pavitra-da.

Michel: (inaudible.......)

And also the desire to utilize it and utilization of the nuclear weapons or even the intention to utilize it is suicidal to humanity actually. Anyway this is what Pavitra-da had told me. Similarly in 1967 when U Thant had made a statement that even a man in the street knows that the world has resources enough to feed all the people of the world. If this is not happening it is because the people are divided into blocks and therefore he said that the only solution is the change of consciousness and if this is understood, then change of consciousness is the most important thing to be worked for. Something to this effect the Mother quotes and then this was shown by Pavitra-da that to the Mother and Mother was very pleased to read this and then Mother had written a letter to U Thant, in which the Mother had said that appreciating what he had said, She had said that She was sending to him a copy of The Ideal of Human Unity.

So this was another event which I remember, which was quite interesting for me because this was a very important message of U Thant and he was Secretary General and then U. Thant had written a reply to that letter, in which he had thanked the Mother for the message and he had said that he is aware of Sri Aurobindo's writings. Yes, and he had appreciated very much that the Mother had sent a letter to him. This is what Pavitra-da had told me.

And there was another incident of which I am quite aware and that is that somebody reported to the Mother that Mrs. Indra Gandhi has become a communist. So Mother said this is not true at all, she is not a communist and She said: 'You give me a pen and paper, I want to write. I don't remember exactly what She wrote but what I can recollect is that She said: 'Indra Gandhi is not a communist, people ought to know that I stand behind her but it is true that rich people have put their faith in the wealth rather than in the Divine therefore in the irresistible march of time they will be crushed'.

Yes, I think the second part of this thing is there in the Agenda perhaps. This is what She had written.

Michel: Can I borrow this because I have never realized that it was written by you.

In fact I have looked at it; it is not Sri Aurobindo's language at all.

Michel: No, I knew I knew but since there is absolutely no indication as to who prepared it.

No, I think there was a mistake in printing because when I had given I had written this; you can see the preface what is written there.

Michel: The countries and the world are passing through a great crisis. Sri Aurobindo had foreseen this and gave solutions to the problems which confronted today some of these problems and the solutions in the light of Sri Aurobindo are including this.

That's right.

Michel: In the light or it's right, correct. Yes, it is but still it is not too explicit it sounds because I will go for it again. There is much material in fact this plenty of material.

It is quite beginning with the occupation, yes quite a lot even at the time of the Second World War we have all the missions of India and how India was previously protected from us but no longer so. The message which Mother Herself gave on this independence. So she's not going on and there are so many messages which are scattered here and there and I want to bring all this together. It will be wonderful together plus a few things from the other, not everything because some things are better left in the course of the Agenda. Yes so the context is known yes but wherever She speaks of this where She expresses that the need for change in India and the fact that India is wallowing in the mud that has to be changed because we say, even then, even then. Today we understand that India is not wallowing in the mud but in 62-63...."

Yes, absolutely there was also an interview, one at that time one Mr Raman Murty was the editor of illustrated weekly of India and he had asked some questions to the Mother. And then there's one important question: are you satisfied with the progress of India? Mother said not at all, or it was very unsatisfactory She had said. Even at that time there was a very big question and many people had felt because people were feeling that the world was moving so fast and there was so much of progress, very fast, but now when we read that Mother said it was unsatisfactory, we can now appreciate better that it was really unsatisfactory. One is now convinced that it was really unsatisfactory, now it is unsatisfactory, what to talk of 1967.

There was also a small anecdote: one Deputy Secretary of the Ministry of Education had come to visit our Centre of Education and the Ashram. And he had asked some questions during that time when he was there. And one question he had asked was: what is the research work which is being done in the Ashram? So Mother had said to read Sri Aurobindo's books. The second question that he had asked was: how do you measure the progress that one makes in research in Yoga? So Mother had said the extent to which an individual can remain perfectly equal in any circumstance, will give you the measure of the research in Yoga that that person is doing.

The next day this gentleman was to leave Pondicherry in the early morning and I was near the Ashram gate and was about to see off of this gentleman when suddenly somebody came looking for me and said that Mother has a message to give to this man She had just written and it has to be given to this man. So I got that message from the Mother and I delivered it to that man and this message was as follows: 'One question has to be asked of the Government of India, does it want to work for the future or does it want to remain obstinately clinging to the past.' And this man of course when he took the message showed the great respect for the message and later on when I saw that report that he had written, I found that this message written by the Mother in her own hand he had put on the very first page of his report which had been given to the government of India.

Michel: It's very interesting because the message is published in the Agenda but the context is not there.

There is one humorous anecdote. There was one minister in the department of education who had come to Pondicherry and he had asked for the darshan of the Mother. And he was taken to the Mother and instead of looking at the Mother, he looked through the window and said what a beautiful scene of the sea and then hurriedly he came and went away. Then Mother made a humorous remark that if he had to speak these words in French it would have made a better meaning.

Michel: Can't believe that he showed such disrespect.

No disrespect, such a negligent man but this is what he did in the presence of the Mother.

Michel: Very crude, crude, and he was the Minister of the Education of the Central Government. He should have begun with educating himself to start with.

His name I will give you but only for you. His name is Bhakta Darshan, he was the Minister of Education not the Cabinet rank but he was a Minister in the Ministry of Education. But you can see the consciousness of this man who came to meet the Mother. He only looked at the sea and made this remark. That's all, it was as if it was a social call where he had to say: what fine weather, how beautiful scenery was all around.

1. On Materialism
2. Towards a New Social Order