Champaklalji was very fond of his book Champaklal Speaks. "It is the Ramayana of my life," he would happily tell me.
In the early 1970s, Nolini-da used to meet Champaklalji every morning and they would sit together for a few minutes. On 18 March 1975, soon after the book came out, Nolini-da said with a beautiful affectionate smile, "Champakbhai, your book is extremely nice." He said it three times and then added, "I have not read it fully, but from what I have seen, the sub stance is very good."
Here is what Champaklalji himself once wrote about his book: "Whatever Champaklal has written is not from a literary point of view. This writing is neither for intellectuals nor for 'advanced sadhaks' but is written only for those who are by nature and attitude like Champaklal. From the very beginning all these incidents were inscribed in Champaklal's memory; that is why now he can write about them. Champaklal's life is Sri Aurobindo and the Mother only. To write down their sweet memories is Champaklal's worship. It makes Champaklal most fortunate and his heart is filled with gratitude and bliss." No wonder, M.P. Pandit concluded his preface to the first edition with these words: "For what Champaklal Speaks is, is nothing but Mother Sri Aurobindo, Mother Sri Aurobindo."
Champaklalji was not satisfied merely with reading and re-reading his Ramayana and losing himself in the memories they rekindled. He made corrections and added marginal notes in his copies of the first two editions, for he wanted to perfect his book as far as possible. Later, when he permitted me to translate the book into Gujarati, he showed me those copies so that his revisions could be included there. Whenever I sought clarifications and details, he wrote down his answers, often rectifying the published episodes. And fortunately for us, as the translation work proceeded, he wrote more than forty new episodes for inclusion. For the first time he wrote in detail about his childhood, his upbringing and the influences of saints and yogis - about all that gave form and force to his aspirations and imparted the training that proved very useful in his long service to Sri Aurobindo and the Mother. When the manuscript was ready he willingly went through it with his usual conscientiousness. Finally, he himself decided which photographs were to be printed. Throughout the work, both in preparing the manuscript and seeing the book through the press, I received much help from Dr. Ashvin Desai. The book came out under the title Champaklalna Sansmarano.
A few months before leaving his body Champaklalji asked me to collect and hand over all the original papers in his posses- sion to the Ashram Archives. Here I wish to mention that Bob (Robert Zwicker), with exemplary dedication and patience, helped me to organise and put everything in files and boxes specially manufactured to best preserve such documents. It was during those final days that Champaklalji gave me his copies of the previous English editions of Champaklal Speaks and asked me to edit a third edition whenever the publishers decided to print it. Following his instructions, I have incorporated the following material: the revisions he made in the first two editions; translations of the new episodes published in the Gujarati edition; and eleven reminiscences and Sri Aurobindo's correspondence with Champaklal, published in Champaklal's Treasures.
In preparing this new edition, I have checked -the texts of Spiritual Games, Birthday Messages and Correspondences with the originals kept at the Archives. I have also added footnotes to help the reader to understand the background of certain episodes and the persons and places mentioned in them. In everything, I have made a sincere effort to follow the guidelines Champaklalji gave me. But, I have greatly missed his physical presence, which would have made my task as deep a joy as it had been during the years we worked together.
A word about the photograph before this preface.Champaklalji was extremely fond of this photograph of his with the Mother which she captioned "My Lion". While choosing it as the cover for the Gujarati edition, he noted this incident: Once, on seeing this photo, Prahab's uncle Charubabu exclaimed, "Mother, here Champaklal looks like Durga's lion!" And Mother forcefully replied, "He is my lion!"
Champaklal Speaks illustrates how Champaklalji's first and foremost aspiration - to spend every moment of his life and all his energy in the service of his Lord Sri Aurobindo and the Divine Mother - was amply fulfilled by Their infinite Grace. In fact, as he might have put it, it is more appropriate to say that he was chosen by Sri Aurobindo and the Mother who themselves moulded him into a fit instrument for their work. It is worth noting some of his reminiscences on this subject.
On 20 November 1926, the Mother told him: "The Being whom we want to manifest in you demands complete surrender. He is one of four brothers; out of them one wants to manifest in you and he is waiting for you to be ready. And that Being wishes that I should work in you." Another day she said: "The Being has entered into you." And the next day: "To bring down Immortality four pillars are needed. Of them ... Aspiration is Champaklal."
Once the Mother told him, "Champaklal, your time will come and you will get everything. You will be fully conscious." This comment was made during the "game of the apron". Later he realised that "it was not a game to amuse me. It was such a Grace!" To get an idea of the vast consciousness They granted him, we only have to turn to his experiences reproduced in The Visions of Champaklal, 1990. "All was revealed there none can here express." (Savitri, p.30.)
Another significant incident: "Every morning the Mother used to say to me, 'Bonjour!' This day, she picked up a flower, Eternal smile, took my hand, put the flower in the centre of the palm, pinched my palm, kept her hand pressed over my hand for sometime and said, 'Champaklal, smile always,
smile in difficulties,
smile in pain,
smile in suffering,
smile in sorrow,
I believe that the predominant memory of those who saw him was his disarming smile. Cbampaklal Speaks inspires us to ponder over his extraordinary life and fills our hearts with reverence for his Lord and the Mother. We can see that his observations are the expressions of profound truths revealed to him through experiences in his daily life. Let us take an extract from his correspondence of 25 May 1935. He asked, "Where am I going, what am I doing?" Sri Aurobindo replied, "Where you are? In the Mother's presence here and close to me. Where you are going? Towards union with the Divine through dedication and service. What you are doing here? Service and self-giving to the Divine."
For twelve years, from 1938 to 1950, Champaklalji and Nirodbaran served Sri Aurobindo together and "became sweet friends for long decades". Champaklalji passed away on 9 May 1992. In 1993, Nirodbaran concluded his long talk on Champaklalji with this statement: "Two sadhaks of recent time stand apart from all others, whose image will always remain untarnished in our memory. One is Nolini-da and the other is Maharaj Champaklal, two true yogis - one predominantly a homo intellectualise, the other essentially a homo psychicus. Both of them attained rare heights of consciousness, each following his own path indicated by his swadharma." Nirod-da also noted, "To be like Hanuman, an absolute servitor, was the raison d'etre of Maharaj's existence."! And when Champaklalji's health was deteriorating, waiting. He will come straight to me.
I shall never forget even for a moment all that Champaklalji has made available to me, materially and spiritually. I am especially grateful to him for entrusting this work to me, for it has inspired me to attempt to transform my consciousness. These reminiscences recreate the atmosphere of the days when Sri Aurobindo and the Mother worked together on this earth to transfigure the consciousness of their disciples and all mankind, as well as to reveal a new future for the entire earth.
I am deeply grateful to Karnalaben for taking a keen interest in this book and to Jayantilal, Apurva and all my friends for their help and goodwill. My heartfelt thanks go to Ganapatibhai and Bob of the Archives, who in spite of their busy schedules patiently went through the manuscript and offered valuable guidance. Above all I thank Sunjoy, who assisted me in preparing this book. He meticulously scrutinised the previous editions as well as the drafts for the present one, and did much of the research for the footnotes. I greatly appreciate his help.
My sincere thanks are due to the Sri Aurobindo Ashram Trust, the Publication Department, SABDA, and the Archives. I owe special thanks to all those at Sri Aurobindo Ashram Press who have collaborated with goodwill and efficiency in printing the book.
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