Sri Aurobindo, through his innumerable illuminating writings has left to the world a vast mass of his actually experienced living knowledge, which is a priceless treasure for all who want to tread the path of the evolution of human consciousness. He was a ceaseless explorer, not only delving deep into the "past dawns" but also lifting the veils that withhold our vision of the "noons of the future." He stands out, therefore, as a Supreme Teacher, Mahã Guru of the entire human race, who came to reveal to man the higher and higher peaks of consciousness that he has to conquer through his ever new experiments in this "thinking and living laboratory" of human life and mind, until he reaches or attains the Supermind, where the purpose of creation will be fully revealed ultimately to him one day.
As is well known to all, in the first part of his life, Sri Aurobindo dedicated himself completely to the one task of freeing his motherland from foreign domination, as he felt that this land and this nation has a mission to fulfill by giving a call to all in the world to realise that they are the children of Immortality. Later on, having made sure of the country's freedom, he left the political scene to turn his eyes to the freedom of the world by removing the shackles of death, desire and incapacity. So long as he was in his body, Sri Aurobindo kept himself totally absorbed in this single superhuman task of making "matter lit with the spirit's glow," and withdrew himself from all public contacts to dedicate himself absolutely for intense sadhana in utter seclusion. But he was ever awake to the needs of all wayfarers towards the same goal, who had gathered around him in Pondicherry for guidance and help, and he used to answer all their queries with his own hand, sometimes spending the entire night sleeplessly in fulfilling this one task. His luminous letters have also become a legend and have since been published in the books like Bases of Yoga and also included in his complete works, running into volumes.
Naturally some may question the propriety of publishing them over again. The purpose, first of all, is to highlight the context in which these letters were written-to what particular query the particular answer was given. Secondly, the unique personal relationship between the teacher and the taught, the Guru and the sisya is absolutely missing in all that has been published, which alone makes these priceless letters so vibrant and living. Fortunately for us all, the disciple, in this case, Dilip Kumar Roy, had preserved his Master's letters with meticulous care and the Hari Krishna Mandir, which he later established in Pune, where these letters were enshrined, has now taken up this task of publishing them, with the collaboration of Mira Aditi.
Of all the disciples of Sri Aurobindo, Dilip Kumar Roy was one to whom the Guru gave the utmost indulgence, possibly because he was ever aware of this disciple's utterly sensitive nature and lest he should leave the path in disgust or dismay, the Guru took him closest to his breast, owning him as a child and a very part of his being, through his wide heart and sympathies, much to the chagrin of his other disciples. As this disciple happened to be a man of intense feeling by nature, the Guru took particular care to guide him along the path of music and poetry because he knew that the entire being of this disciple would vibrate and resonate as soon as he would start singing, transporting him and others to a level far beyond the mundane sphere. The Mother took special care in encouraging his music, so that he could transform it into an art for the Divine's sake, instead of pursuing it as just an art for Art's sake. Through Sri Aurobindo's constant encouragement and meticulous guidance his poetic faculty too, especially in writing English verse, flowered beyond comprehension. At every step, day in and day out, this great master of English poetry would teach his beloved disciple through his letters the intricacies of the different metres in which English poems are written, even penning new poems to illustrate some metrical point. Dilip's translations of many Bengali poems and songs the Guru corrected at every step. In a word, Sri Aurobindo happened to be the constant companion and guiding light in all his literary adventures.
To none else perhaps did Sri Aurobindo write so many letters in his life as he wrote to Dilip Kumar, as he could never refuse to answer any query that came from Dilip. Sometimes, it was about a Bengali book by a promising writer, who at that time happened to be almost unknown, though his genius was unmistakable and the disciple wanted this to be verified by the Guru. The Guru was his touchstone in every matter in life and at every step, the disciple would refer all matters under the sun to him and him alone for verification and the Guru would readily acquiesce to each and every request that came from this importunate disciple.
As such, these pages of illuminating letters stand out as an unique document of the ideal Guru-sisya, teacher-student relationship, in which the infinite patience of the loving guru on the one hand, as well as the infinite impatience of the doting disciple on the other, are both equally revealed. The tie of eternal love that bound these two souls could never be snapped, either in this life or hereafter.
Before I conclude, I am tempted to recount the story which I had the privilege of hearing from a great mystic soul, Sri Krishnaprem, who had, according to Sri Aurobindo, a "seeing intellect" (pasyanti buddhi). A bosom friend of Dilip Kumar's, this Sri Krishnaprem was invited by the former to visit Pondicherry to have a darshan of Sri Aurobindo, and so he went there just a day or two prior to the day fixed for darshan and was staying with Dilip. On the previous night before the darshan, Dilip sent a note to Sri Aurobindo to inform him that the next day, Sri Krishnaprem will also be accompanying him for Sri Aurobindo's darshan and in the line of devotees assembled for the darshan, the man next to Dilip will be Sri Krishnaprem. "If possible, please give him a smile, when he approaches you, O Guru." "Just think," Sri Krishnaprem told me, "how he dares order or command the Guru to oblige him! And what the ever-obliging Guru could do? He could not refuse any request coming from Dilip! As soon as I stood before him, he gave me a very beautiful broad smile!"
Such was the unique relationship between the Guru and the sisya, of which possibly there is no parallel in the world of living memory. By reading the letters exchanged between the two, may we all try to have such a living and loving relationship with our Guru, which lasts through all eternity.
Gobindo Gopal Mukhopadhyaya