February 26, 2007

Three days (or two or “really in one” day) of meditation with Vishnu Bhaskar Lele

“Aurobindo’s Spiritual Initiation” [Excerpts from a chapter of Barin Ghose’s book From “Sri Aurobindo (As I Understand Him)”]
After the break up of the Congress at Surat Aurobindo came to Baroda, the capital city of His Highness the Gaikwar. A few months back while searching for a spiritual guide for our political workers I had been to Swami Brahmananda’s Asram at Chandote on the banks of the river Nurbada. At that time there was a dawning sense growing in us — the young dedicated workers — that the deliverance of India was not possible without spiritual power. An idea of a Bhawani Mandir in the hills (a temple dedicated to that aspect of the Shakti which was worshipped by the great Sivajee of Aurangzib’s time) was in the air among the secret workers. I was sent along with another friend1 to Northern India to look for a Guru or spiritual guide who could guide India’s destiny and train us — the future builders of the nation — along spiritual lines.
Deeply imbued with the cult of violence, learnt from the Irish Seinfeinners and Russian secret societies, and equally ignorant of what spiritual power actually meant, we in our blindness wanted to harness Divine power to our dark mission.… It was no wonder then that we wished to take to spiritual means for a holy war against the British, this idea of God helping the righteous even in murder and bloodshed being ingrained in man from his savage days.
The great Yogi Brahmananda of Nurbada had passed away some years before and I found his disciple Keshavananda to be a dry as dust pedant and a mechanical Hatha Yogi knowing no higher yoga at all. But quite accidentally I had met for a few minutes a Maharashtra Brahmin, Vishnu Bhaskar Lele by name, in the Chandote Asram. I did know that this man was a great and real Yogi. While returning to Bengal quite disappointed in my quest. I met Lele again in a friend’s house at Navasari. He made me sit in a dark room with him for a few minutes and as a result three days afterwards I had my first glimpse of spiritual awakening, my first psychic experience.
Aurobindo hearing about him from me had expressed a desire to meet this wonderful devotee of love. As soon as the Surat Congress was over I wired to Lele requesting him to come to Baroda to meet Aurobindo. Crowds with flags and national cries followed us from the station and students unyoked a carriage and putting Aurobindo, myself and a Sannyasi, Sakhariaswami, on it, pulled it for some distance. In the midst of a surging crowd we reached Khasirao’s [sic] Bungalow at 8 a.m. and immediately after Vishnu Bhaskar Lele arrived. I left Aurobindo alone with him for half an hour. When he had left I asked my brother how he found him so far as Yoga was concerned. Aurobindo said in his characteristic cryptic way, “Lele is a wonderful Yogi.”
The next day Lele came again and requested Aurobindo to sit with him continuously for seven days all alone and in silence in a quiet place. At that time nothing was more difficult than this to arrange. Aurobindo had become the idol of the nation and a wonderful halo surrounded him producing a mysterious magnetic attraction for him in the hearts of our young men. Anybody, who was in national work anywhere, needed and sought his advice and guidance. Day in and day out, crowds surrounded our house and programmes of public meetings were being arranged for him.
Lele suddenly spirited Aurobindo away from the midst of all this commotion to a lonely old place tucked away in the heart of the city. There, day in and day out, the two of them sat wrapped in deep meditation facing each other. Their simple needs were looked after by Vishnu Bhaskar’s wife, a matriculate girl of small stature of very subdued nature. I was also there and used to sit in meditation with them morning and evening in my restless and perfunctory way. My mind was divided between my ambitious national work and this inner life of Yoga.
Seven days passed almost in continuous and silent meditation2 while batches of young men traversed the town in search of their newly-found leader who had so suddenly and mysteriously disappeared from among them upsetting all their crowded programmes and arrangements. When Aurobindo was at last permitted to come out and attend a meeting in the famous gymnasium there among his ardent admirers, a great and abiding peace had descended on him which from thence forward formed the basis of all his future Sadhana.…
2 According to Sri Aurobindo he obtained the experience of the Silent Brahman in three days (or two or “really in one” day) of meditation with Lele. See On Himself, pp. 49, 82, 84, 85. He may have remained in seclusion with Lele for some days more before going out to give lectures etc.
3 Not necessarily this day. Barin seems to have been writing under the impression that Sri Aurobindo and Lele parted at the station, but Lele in fact accompanied Sri Aurobindo to Poona and Bombay.
SRI NOLINI KANTA GUPTA (A Life Sketch): It would not have been far out to call it an Ashram And it was precisely because of this that Barin got Lele Maharaj down here for our initiation and training in Sadhana, the discipline of Yoga, the same Lele who had been of a particular help to Sri Aurobindo at a certain stage of his own sadhana.

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