Sunday, December 7, 2014

Mother of Sri Aurobindo Ashram had a vision of Auroville : Mrs. Bilkees Latif

     It was in 1948 or 1949. Mother used to go for drives and on a number of occasions she asked me to accompany her. On this particular occasion, the car stopped somewhere near the sea. She got out and sat on a small folding stool, while we sat on the ground around her. First of all, she looked at one of my portraits --- I was sketching at this time --- and made some corrections. Then she looked around and said, “I have a strong feeling. I envisage a time when there will be people from all over the world here, living together in harmony.” There was a very strong atmosphere, a sense of peace. And although I drove with her on other occasions, this is the one that stays in my memory.
     Many years later, when I heard that Auroville had been founded. I wondered if it was in this place. So last year, when I came for the Governing Board Meeting, I described to Aster the place where we stopped, and she recognized it as being on the path to Auroville, not far from her house in ‘Auromodel’.
     My family used to visit the Ashram frequently. When my mother, who was French, first saw Sri Aurobindo, she said there was a golden light around him so strong that she fell at his feet. I remember seeing Sri Aurobindo at ‘darshan’ time. He sat there, very very peaceful and distant --- as if he was seeing something else. Whereas Mother would take us children up to her room in the afternoons, and read to us from Prayers and Meditations, explaining each prayer. She told us so many things about herself, including occult experiences --- I wish somebody had noted them down… Auroville is a fantastic concept. That’s why any disharmony brings a lot of sadness, because I know that people have given up so much and come from all over the world because of a belief in this place. It means so much to so many people, but, somehow, it has to be realized that Auroville is something above the ego, something above everything else, if it is to succeed. And nothing comes easily. Mother said there are forces which always fight against something like this. And that we must always be conscious, and not let these forces descend into us. We must all work together to make a success of Auroville.

(Mrs. Bilkees Latif in an interview for 
Auroville Today, September 1992)

(A young French girl, straight out of finishing school in Switzerland, falls in love with a handsome Nawab from Hyderabad and finds herself in a new life, amidst the grandeur of the aristocratic Nizams. She is drawn to the sun-filled skies of her new land, the fragrance of its jasmine, the spirituality of its people. Yet, despite the splendour that surrounds her, she feels isolated and lonely. She begins to visit godmen and their ashrams, becoming involved in the cultural ethos of the rural and urban poor.
In this touching biography, Bilkees Latif, against the milieu of the historical city of Hyderabad, depicts the joys, disappointments and dreams of her French mother.

Bilkees I. Latif is an author who has written three books and numerous articles on the city of Hyderabad, as well as on women. She has also been invited to lecture in France, Indonesia and the United States of America. Bilkees has been involved in social work in India's largest slums, for which she has received several national and international awards. She was awarded the Padma Shri by the President of India in 2008.)


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