16. SRI AUROBINDO’S ROOM KARMAYOGI The Mother's Service Society Pondicherry 605 011 India
One day I was starting for the Ashram with my family. When we were about to lock the front door, my sister-in-law arrived with her husband. We had planned to be out of the town for the day. To receive them just at the moment of starting was embarrassing. We could not leave them behind alone, nor did I feel free to invite them to the Ashram, as it would amount to introducing them to my faith. Sensing my embarrassment, my brother-in-law asked if they could accompany us to Pondicherry. That was a great relief.
Our visit to the Ashram was not for any special occasion there such as Darshans. But it was special to my family, as Mother had permitted us to visit Sri Aurobindo’s Room on that day. Now-a-days Sri Aurobindo’s room is open to all visitors, but in those early days Mother Herself was giving permission to visit the Room. She used to permit only a few people and, that too, not on all days. That was why I could not stay behind postponing my visit.
My brother-in-law was a superintendent in the Regulated Market. He had been there for four years temporarily and was trying to take a permanent post in the government through the public service commission. He had applied for various jobs and he was selected for the cooperative department as an officer. When he received the order of appointment, he and his wife came to our place to give us the good news and make arrangements for his training period, etc. I was happy that on his fresh appointment he would add Mother’s Blessings to it, as he had volunteered to visit the Ashram.
At the Ashram the sadhak in charge of such arrangements asked us if my guests too would like to visit the Room. I considered this as a special Grace. They agreed and the sadhak extended us the kindness of securing special permission for our guests too at that last moment.
We visited the Room guided by an elderly sadhak who was with Sri Aurobindo for 30 years. The Room was full of peace and silence. His Presence was marked. Having taken us through the Room, the sadhak came out and explained in a soft voice the details, showed us the place where Mother and Sri Aurobindo used to give Darshan until 1950, the seat of Mother from which She had been giving Darshan after 1950, and how the visitors used to go to them one by one to receive their Blessings. Sri Aurobindo’s aura was so full of peace that even during a raging cyclone neither wind nor rain entered into his Room. Inside the Room was his chair, his bed with a tiger’s skin spread out on it, and several shelves with his books and papers. We returned home that night feeling elated with the peace of his Room.
The next morning while I was reading the newspaper, my brother-in-law drew my attention to a news item which said the government had raised the basic salary of the Market Committee Superintendents to Rs.200 from the present Rs.140. He was excited about the rise in salary and explained enthusiastically the steps the superintendents’ organisation took to represent to the government that the salary should be raised. He wound up saying, “It is all very exciting and good, but I am leaving the department. I am not going to benefit by this raise. In the Cooperative Department again I will start afresh at Rs.140.” He was disappointed that he could not share the benefit for which they had all worked for so long and so successfully.
For me the news item was another confirmation, perhaps the thousandth one, of Mother’s Grace that is showered on all, if only they come into contact with it consciously or unconsciously. I wished he had stayed in this department and enjoyed the higher scale. As he was a relative and the husband of my sister-in-law, I could not express all the thoughts that crossed my mind. The situation called from some restraint. He was younger to me and, therefore, I had some freedom of expression, but it had its own limit. He was not a devotee of Mother and did not understand Mother’s ways, nor did I feel free to share my full understanding of the situation, which might look like an imposition of my faith on him. I could only speak about the relative merits of the scales, departments and jobs.
He was alternately overjoyed at the new permanent job and frustrated at not being able to benefit by the new scale in the old job. During the conversation I asked whether he would not like to stay on in the old job and benefit by the higher scale. His cryptic reply was, “I would very much like to, but my probation there has not been completed and job confirmed.”
Later, when he was not at home, my sister-in-law referred to the subject in detail, expressing the same mixed sentiment of joy and disappointment. I sought a clarification from her for his cryptic statement that he was not confirmed in his old job. Her reply was more concise and explained, “He has not passed the account test.” I ventured to suggest that he could reappear and complete it. She said, “He took even the second attempt.”
Obviously he and she were very anxious to remain in the old job, now that there was a higher salary, but it was no longer possible. Being a touchy subject, I stopped all my conversation with them on this topic.
In private I spoke to my wife that, if he applied for an exemption, the department might grant it, and he could still complete the exam. Bang came the reply, “Through my uncle, who is a high officer in the department, that exemption was secured last year and that too was not helpful.” As my wife is very knowledgeable about Mother’s ways of life, I explained to her how this opportunity came from Mother’s Blessings and, if pursued, would certainly bear fruit, even if the case appeared to be hopeless. I told my wife that in certain extreme cases the department might grant an exemption a second time. As he has earned a reputation in the department for efficiency, he might still get that exemption. He and his wife discussed with us arrangements for his family during his training, his stay at the training, and several other things before finally deciding on his profession and he left for his native village, leaving my sister-in-law with us.
My wife privately asked me not to be concerned about his job and his future prospects, etc., as it was a sensitive issue. She also heard from her sister that a second exemption too had been secured through some political influence. That too was in vain. My wife added that it seems there was another agriculture test also in arrears. What had so far been a riddle to me was now very obvious. There was not even a ghost of a chance for him to remain in the old department.
I mused, “Mother has given them unasked a blessing. For him to arrive at this new salary at the new job will take six years after training. Also he would lose the four years of service in the old department. Ten years of service in the government is no mean thing. Even a day matters. Mother who has given the new scale would also remove all further obstacles, if he only had faith and took the necessary effort fully. He does not understand it and I do not feel free anymore to approach this topic. But I don’t think this is the end of the matter. Let me await and see, without taking any further initiative from my side.”
Just then a man came to report how he had miraculously saved his six acres of crop, after losing all hope by praying to Mother. In the afternoon my sister-in-law, who was engrossed in some needle work, put it aside and addressed me, "Do you have something to tell my husband about this new job? What would be your advice?” I explained my understanding briefly and emphatically said that he would steer clear of all the difficulties, if he only had faith and did his part.
A few days later he returned. He came to me and announced that he and his wife had decided to reject the new appointment and try his best to remain in the old job, completing his arrears. Obviously his wife had spoken to him prior to that. I was happy.
After he took this bold decision, life became different for him. Everywhere he went, life was supportive. There was a kind officer who gave another exemption. Someone took interest in him and helped him to prepare for the examination. Contrary to his previous life experience, wherever he went to get a work accomplished in this connection, he found an old classmate, a friend, a relative, etc. All went smoothly and he passed both the exams. He was confirmed in the old department on the new scale.
For a couple of years we did not meet. Again he came, this time alone, to tell me he had been transferred to Ramnad District. I wondered why a transfer to such distant place. He explained that he had been promoted and transferred. He was now promoted as the Secretary for a whole district, under whom all the superintendents worked. He said this was possible because the department was rapidly expanding, many new posts had been created, and he had ten years’ experience! Ordinarily this promotion was not his due for another six or seven years.