I have never met The Mother. She died long before I was born. However, the first time I 'really' got a glimpse, both of her character and of an abstract vision we call 'love', was during a windy evening on the promenade at Pondicherry. At dusk, we were sitting against the backdrop of the Bay of Bengal as the sun entertained us with a spectacular display of defiant colours before it reluctantly beat a retreat. As the burnt caramels and purples merged with the horizon, I asked Veenapani Chawla what The Mother was like; what made her decide to stay on in Pondicherry?
And she said, "Meeting her was like falling in love forever." The simplicity of this answer contrasted with the cascade of emotions that ran through her face in that single moment - from passion, to devotion, to delight, to affection, to caring, to infatuation, and finally, to a sense of the sublime. That evening, she spoke into the night about this 'love' affair that has rooted her in Pondicherry ever since. It is still so pure and real in her mind... none of the passions that arise today from commerce, political issues, rights being fought or religion. This love she spoke about had no agenda. The Mother has both humbled and intrigued me since that evening. It is rare to find people who are still so loved long after they have died, and who continue to be so deeply unique that they cannot be replaced or duplicated. I can only suppose it's because their 'love' lives on timelessly as their real legacy and in the spirit and human examples of people who are all in some way similarly unique and special because of this love they have 'seen' with or through The Mother. And the greatest tribute to her memory is that people like Veenapani, and Jhumurdi, (a teacher at the Pondicherry Ashram School who was brought up as a young girl by The Mother), are able to reflect the soul of The Mother and pass this extraordinary sense of love to complete strangers who may never have known or cared otherwise... like me. By Meenakshi Doctor Indiatimes>Femina> Femina Archives> Cover Story