Medhananda, a disciple of Sri Aurobindo
Excerpts from an article of the Magazine Mother India, October 1994, written by Yvonne Artaud:
“[…] It was after the end of the Second World War, when the Messageries Maritimes resumed their shipping service to French Polynesia, that the only bookseller in Tahiti started receiving, along with the latest novels, works by or about Sri Ramakrishna, Vivekananda, Brahmananda, Shankaracharya […] and a list of books by Sri Aurobindo which could be ordered from the publisher Adrien Maisonneuve in Paris. So eventually, whatever books of Sri Aurobindo were available at that time started to arrive. Medhananda plunged into them, saturated himself with them.
Then he wrote to Sri Aurobindo. No copy of this letter seems to have survived, but we have the reply he received from Pavitra (a French disciple and secretary of Sri Aurobindo). This reply, dated 30th September 1949, starts with: ‘Sri Aurobindo me charge de répondre à votre lettre.’ […]
Here is an English translation of part of it: ‘Sri Aurobindo has asked me to reply to your letter. He agrees to help you and guide you on the path to divine realisation and supramental transformation […] For you, such a long journey [from Tahiti to Pondicherry] cannot be undertaken lightly. So Sri Aurobindo advises you to wait. If you know how to use profitably the time that is given to you, it will in no way be wasted. Do write from time to time to say how you are getting on…’
[Medhananda was writing to Sri Aurobindo several letters (which show that he intensely felt his spiritual force and support), and Sri Aurobindo in turn sent his answers to him through Pavitra. We are told:]
His [Medhanda’s] penetration into the Divine became integral. At the beginning of 1951, the ‘divine realisation’, promised to him by Sri Aurobindo (expressed in his poem Jivanmukta), reached its consummation.
For several months after his realisation the Ashram heard nothing from him, except orders for new books of Sri Aurobindo as they were published.
Then, on 31 August 1951, after receiving a brochure from Pavitra, Medhananda wrote:
‘I am enthusiastic after reading the prospectus of the School- and University-Centre in Pondicherry, I send you my best wishes for an early start. At the same time, I renew my offer of unconditional service, from cleaning the rooms to collaboration in higher studies of comparative mysticism. Meanwhile I could help you to lay bricks. All my aspiration lies behind these wishes. Please receive the expression of my total devotion.’
After that the Mother gave him permission to come to the Ashram.
Medhananda answered to Pavitra’s announcement of this news:
‘Soma [bliss] arrived at last with your letter. I am getting ready to leave.’ […]
In French Polynesia it was impossible for him to obtain a German passport, and therefore a visa. He left without either, carrying only a letter of recommendation from the Governor of Tahiti to the Governor of Pondicherry. Each time he was asked for his passport and had to explain his situation, the officer in charge exclaimed with a smile: ‘Oh! it is much simpler like that!’
After travelling for two months, he reached the Ashram, on the 15th February 1952. On the 26th of the same month ‘The Mother’ [Mira Alfassa] gave him his name Medhananda, signifying Bliss in the Mind, and with it a new life, a new programme, a new yoga: the integral yoga of Sri Aurobindo.”