In remembering Sri Aurobindo during this special August edition, also the month of His birth, the mind swiftly moved back in time, about 6 months ago, to a place in India that observed its 50th Anniversary of the First Enshrinement of Sri Aurobindo’s Relics. Amongst all the relic centres that exist today, this particular organsiation was blessed with the first relics all the way from Pondicherry, and that too by The Mother. The year of its first enshrinement was 1957, on the 5th of Dec, 7 years after Sri Aurobindo left his body. Some magical moments of those Winter days in Delhi are relived in the following article.
The 50th Anniversary of the First Enshrinement of Sri Aurobindo’s Relics here at the Sri Aurobindo Ashram – Delhi Branch was a spectacular event in its magnitude, in its movement across the 5 magical days, and beautifully magnificent in the dignity with which each one involved in it carried it through. It was out of this world, ethereal, surreal, in some ways. It seemed and felt as if a subtle presence manifested itself and hung over the entire stretch of the 5 magical days. As this piece is being written on the 13th of Dec, the magic is still hanging over ashram, and the blessed souls who are connected with it, whether they are physically here or not, continue to bathe in the shower of the austere silence that rains upon us continuously.
The occasion was marked by workshops, seminars, talks, musical offerings, morning invocations, Q and A sessions and distribution of Prasad every day. Sadhaks from Pondicherry and around India graced the occasion and shared gleanings of their learnings and experiences with the aspirants who gathered at the Hall of Grace and at the Hall of New Creation (Library) at Mirambika. Besides public functions like these, there were the sideline gatherings arranged on the spot, where aspirants met up with specialists from various fields to have sessions tailored to their immediate needs.
The musical offerings brought us into another dimension as each soul called out to the divine for aid and sustenance, to lead us from darkness to light, from ignorance to knowledge and from death to immortality. The renderings were soul stirring and brought quiet tears to the eyes, or they were deeply engrossing, pulling one to the seat in the centre of the being, even if for split seconds before the mind took over and blazed in its circuit only to be pulled out of its route, silenced and offered again, with the next invocation that shot into the internal spaces.
The Lights of Aspiration that took place every evening were a fitting culmination to a day of offerings and a heightened collective aspiration. It was a salute to an atmosphere charged with the powerful presence intangible but which something within knew and felt. It was for me, the highlight of the day and probably for many ashramites, aspirants, followers and devotees who had gathered in the heart of the city for this grand occasion.
Each evening, at 7 pm the slow procession would start, The Mother’s flag leading the way, with an able flag bearer at the helm. The line of candle bearers would snake their way very slowly and steadily on the path circumventing the lawn that surrounds the shrine, past Sri Aurobindo’s bust in front of Fakir Kutir, and then into the shrine premises and around the lawn. In the darkness of the winter night, the flickering lamps alone were visible. A marked silence arose from the sideline of onlookers. This was prominent and reflected on how, perhaps, everyone became deeply involved participants in the whole process. This fervour, this silence probably emerged from the collective aspiration that inevitably flowered in all of us while in the presence of the shrine and all that it means in our individual consciousness. And perhaps, something more was present on occasions such as these.
Each night, while many diyas are laid on the lawn, a portion of the diya bearers would quietly march into the shrine premises and place the candles on the periphery of the tiled area around the shrine, and carry away with them another lighted diya and proceed towards Tapasya courtyard to lay the brilliant lamps on the petalled symbol at the courtyard, to the accompaniment of invocatory music. Each night, the atmosphere was charged with a presence indescribable, and starkly real and palpable to our individual consciousness, however so it was ready to sense that presence. The moments spent there around the fountain were magical.
Taking a walk around the shrine later at night, when the crowds had thinned, was to invoke another magical experience. In the cool silence of the night, the mist hanging over the lawn with the flickering lamps on the ground added a beauty to the silent presence that was perceivable. Those magical moments cannot be expressed and neither would one have been satisfied with a click of the camera to capture the beauty. The beauty was there to be lived in deep association, each fraction of the second bearing the beauty was there to be lived and nothing in the whole wide world, in all of time, would have been able to capture those moments magical … except for that something within, that graciously and very quietly accepts the feast offered, consumes it and locks the essence of the experience away safely for assimilation. The entire magic of the period becomes interiorized and one with the experiencer. A salutation silent and still can be the only reciprocation possible.