KARMAYOGI The Mother's Service Society Pondicherry 605 011 India
17. THE TOUCH OF HER FEET
Mother is an avatar. Sri Aurobindo says She is universal Mother Devi who has come down in her individual aspect. She has lived amongst us for nearly 100 years, during which She headed Sri Aurobindo Ashram for 47 full years. As Devaki saw the whole creation in the mouth of Krishna, we see every aspect of creation in Mother’s life in the Ashram. Those who have joined the Ashram have given up family, career, worldly life and all their worldly wealth, seeking only Her Grace in good measure. She had the unique capacity of being over-generous and also a strict disciplinarian. Her Love embraces all mankind and all creation. There are several legends of Her infinite compassion to the dozen cats She reared. Also She is known for very strict disciplinary measures. I would like to relate an incident in Her life that may be considered unique in spiritual history.
People who join the Ashram generally enjoy good health, rather better health than before. Their faces acquire the shine of the inner light. Even in old age most are in good health and are moving about without help or even the customary walking stick. The life span granted to one by destiny itself is given a longer lease when one takes to Mother. All this, Mother says, is because She is centrally lodged in their hearts.
Soon after World War I, an elderly sadhak who had joined Sri Aurobindo at the turn of the century fell ill. He was old by any reckoning. Though there were minor diseases, he was not disabled by any serious disease. The Ashram doctor who attended on him said he was suffering the infirmities of old age that arose out of the wearing out of the parts of the body. In such a general condition of deterioration, it is likely that minor ailments get lodged in the system. Doctors, co-sadhaks, volunteers attended on him in turn with love and devotion. His condition grew worse day by day. He lost speech. Movements were nil. The little food he was taking was replaced by a liquid diet, which was not easy to administer. It was obvious that his days were numbered. Those around him were eager to serve him and do any little thing that would please him or cheer him. He was not in a coma. He was awake and conscious. But it was hard to know his present thoughts as he did not speak. His earlier spartan habits did not leave much room to guess what things he would like. The question of calling for his relatives did not arise. Suddenly, one day there was a moment of intensity in the sadhak’s look. It was obvious he had something in mind. Communication was not easy. Sign language was used by the sadhak in a broken way. His mind seemed to be clear and his face was bright. Unfortunately his understanding could not be communicated back to those around. After some exercise in sign language, guess work, inference, etc., it was discovered that he wished to be taken to Mother. After fully ascertaining that this was his wish, Mother’s advice was sought and She readily agreed to bless the departing soul.
He was put on a stretcher and was taken to Mother’s Room upstairs. As soon as he came into the Presence of the Mother, his face brightened and his eyes became moist with gratitude. Though he could not move even a little, he appeared as if he was no longer a dying man. Mother left the chair and came near his stretcher, bending over him. His condition was becoming better with every second, but perhaps he was not thinking of death or his dying condition. It became apparent that he wanted to communicate something to Mother. The difficulty of communication that had been there between his co-sadhaks and him did not seem to be there between him and The Mother. Each seemed to understand the other very well. There was a gleam of a smile on his dry lips. Suddenly he mustered enough energy to point at his chest and then at Mother’s foot. She beamed with a smile which She alone can give. It was clear that the sadhak was asking Mother to put Her foot on his chest.
Though Mother is generous beyond measure in showering materials gifts on visitors and conferring spiritual blessings on sadhaks, for Her own reasons She had many discriminations to make. Often, She responded not to the expressed prayer but to the highest aspiration of the devotee which was unspoken and, perhaps, a wish the devotee was not even fully aware of. For instance, a visitor who was childless for ten years came to Mother and prayed for a child. He was rewarded with a rare promotion in his job, which was unusual for that job. Later the devotee explained that this promotion was closer to his heart than anything else. When devotees or sadhaks start any work and ask Mother for blessings and an emblem for their department, She gives different types of emblems. The State Bank emblem was given by Her. When sadhaks insist on something of hers, She gives her symbol modified, a message, etc. There is a drawing of Mother’s feet and a photograph of Her feet. This She rarely gives as an emblem to a department. She did give this as an emblem to a few whose aspiration She knew to be very pure. It is Grace to see Her, which is Darshan. Sadhaks know it is supreme Grace when She touches their heads for blessings. When we go to Her for pranams, the most auspicious moment is when we touch Her feet. This dying sadhak had asked Mother for something unknown in spiritual history, Mother’s foot on his chest.
She was gracious and consented to the prayer by a broad smile. The sadhak melted in emotion to know of this divine consent. Large drops of tears of gratitude collected in his eyes. She touched his chest with Her foot. The appearance of the sadhak became transformed. In a trice his eyes which had tears became flowing streams of tears. A very bright light leaped onto his face and quickly spread all over his body. He was in ecstasy. His soul was in front receiving the physical expression of Divine Grace. There was an intense descent of Peace in the room and a strong jet of joy entered the devotee. While he was being carried away from Her room, his eyes stayed on Mother meeting Her gaze, which was turned toward him. He returned to the Nursing Home. His last wish had been graciously fulfilled, but he did not die. Health began to return and he felt better day by day. Every activity, such as speech, motion, etc., which had been lost, now returned. After a week he was up and about. He lived for another 20 years to a very ripe old age.