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Nirodbaran is a disciple of Sri Aurobindo who had the great privilege of serving him for twelve years as his literary secretary and, before this, of carrying on a ling correspondence with him. Sri Aurobindo often expressed himself in a humorous way, full of light-hearted banter and repartee. In this compilation only those extracts, which are exclusively humorous, have been taken. There are more than a thousand brief exchanges during 1933-1938 between master and disciple.
The front cover shows part of 'Laughter of the Sea's painting commissioned from Krishnalal by the Mother around 1935. Her request was for something to look at when she and Sri Aurobindo were giving Darshan and was hung on the wall opposite where they sat. The painting's title was given by Tehmiben.
There is a common belief that yogis and saints are grave and reserved by nature. They have no sense of humour. Sri Ramakrishna was probably the first among them who is known to have shattered this false notion. Sri Aurobindo was revered and accepted as a great yogi, philosopher and poet, but was considered to be dry and dreary. His sublime philosophical writings dating from the Arya-period were perhaps responsible for this popular misconception. During his political life too he was branded as ' the man who never smiles'. Even to us, his disciples who saw him only four times a year, he appeared grave and austere, yet with a quiet compassion which made him so lovable as a Guru. When I wrote to him complaining that his "Himalayan austerity and grandeur take my breath away, making my heart palpitate!" he replied: "O rubbish! I am austere and grand, grim and stern! Every blasted thing I never was! I groan in an un-Aurobindian despair when I hear such things. What has happened to the common sense of all of you people? In order to reach the Over mind it is not at all necessary to take leave of this simple but useful quality. Common sense by the way is not logic (which is the least common sense-like thing in the world), it is simply looking at things as they are without inflation or deflation-not imagining wild imaginations-or for that matter, despairing 'I know not why' despairs."
This single letter will prove how deceptive appearance is and how baseless popular belief. Sri Aurobindo's letters to some of us made people rub there eyes and says, "Well, what a delightful surprise!" But unfortunately the letters have not gained a wide circulation and Sri Aurobindo as a Yogi, devoid of his glorious humour, still lingers in the mind of the intelligentsia.
The present bunch of letters, brimming with humour, culled from my correspondence, will, I hope, dispel the mist of ignorance and reveral Sri Aurobindo as a Yogi who found rasa in every circumstance of life, for he himself was raso vai sah, "Verily he is the Delight." His many-sided playfulness bursting out on any trivial or serious occasion will make a delectable feast for all lovers of laughter. And these letters are just a fraction of his divine levity.
This book represents a new and to the general public, quite an unfamiliar aspect of Sri Aurobindo-his humour.
It was first published to mark the Birth Centenary of Sri Aurobindo in 1972 by Sri Aurobindo International Center of Education, Pondicherry under the title correspondence with Sri Aurobindo-Part II. It is now reprinted by Sri Aurobindo Ashram Publication Department, Pondicherry under its new title.
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