Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Satprem, the Age of Adventures

While Sri Aurobindo may have been a highly
educated and trained Greek scholar, Satprem was a Frenchman, a Catholic, born Bernard  Enginger, who participated with the French Maquis movement during World War II; as a young man he also was in the company of the infamous French Surrealists (and the overlapping movement, Existentialism) such as Gide and Malreaux. Mirra Alfassa, later known as the Mother to him, was more than a little acquainted with these ideas and these Frenchmen. She herself, from a small child had trusted her intuition in all matters and was highly perceptive as an adult. The Surrealist movement centered in Paris, her hometown, was something with which she also held acquaintance, an extension of her other natural inclinations. The poets and writers who made the core of this salon are extensive in 20th century French Literature.

Many believed that Alfassa could "read minds," that she was Clairvoyant. She, herself, was without doubt of the importance of her perceptive abilities. Her interests lay in auto-writing, the Dada and  those persons who were influenced by the new social study of psychology and the mind, especially the unconscious mind. Indeed when she first arrived in Pondicherry and found her way into the presence of Aurobindo, she impressed upon him with the activity of her mind and its sheer agility. Upon making the acquaintance of Enginger, later whom she dubbed, Satprem, meaning "true love," she shared parts of her life with him, especially after the passing of Aurobindo in December 1950. Satprem was about age 27 at this time.

Satprem, formerly a French colonial, posted to the French concession of Pondicherry, first came into contact with Auroville while there. He was enchanted; his previous Maquis idealism was re-ignited upon his discovery of the small Auroville community in 1953. Leaving the French Foreign Service, he engaged himself fully with the community, especially with the Mother, for whom he declared himself devoted and completely at her service. A skilled writer, Satprem came to write many of the Mother's suggestions, teaching and ideas into articles and books, published first in French.

However all was not well in Auroville; in 1973, a short time before the Mother's passing, another group of Aurovillians abruptly barred Satprem from seeing the Mother. Later they confiscated many of his manuscripts and assailed his intentions. It seems there was much political intrigue within the Auroville community.

As for his contributions to the general knowledge and fame of Sri Aurobindo, Satprem's participation is without doubt. Dedicating his book, The Adventure of Consciousness to the Mother, Satprem commences  by saying that its publication is intended to acquaint the western reader with the most practical side of the master, Sri Aurobindo... to lead the reader to find the perfect harmony, inner freedom and outer mastery... He writes that  "the age of adventure is over... children in front of death, living beings who do not know very well how they live or where they are going... as always... our best opportunities... leading us to greater light.... before the last adventure that remains for us to explore, ourselves." paraphrased
His book covers topics such as "An Accomplished Westerner," "The Silent Mind," "Consciousness," The Psychic Center," "Sleep and Death," "Oneness," "The Secret," and "The Transformation," all of which are elements of Sri Aurbindo teachings and the work of the Mother, who first relayed them to Satprem.

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