he following incident took place in 1961.The gymnastics
Group in the Playground were reorganised. A propos of it a point
was raised about the need of a certain degree of compulsion for those
joined them. This was especially in the case of those above the age
forty, I believe. It was decided by the captains one day in a week,
preferably Monday, there should be compulsory marching for the "Blue
Group", i.e., the senior most male members. On other days the members
left free to do exercises as they liked. The word "compulsory" raised
small storm of indignation among us. Why should we, responsible sadhaks,
treated like school-children? This was the burden of the controversy.
of us left the Group on this account. I was one of those who had a
for any sort of compulsion. All the same, I thought I would take the
Mother's views on the matter, though I suspected that she had already
consulted before the step was taken.
It was the usual morning Pranam time and people who had gathered, among
whom were Nolini, Amrita, Pavitra, Champaklal, Madhav and others. The
Pranam being over, the Mother was on her way to her room on the top
when I asked her, "Mother, what should I do? Shall I join the Group?"
question led to a discussion lasting nearly half an hour, the entire
assembly listening with rapt attention and the Mother standing all
while. She replied, "That was what A was telling me about. He said
had been doing regular exercise; so he need not join the Group. Beside,
said, all his friends were keeping out. Of course, he can't carry the
(During the Darshan and 2nd December March Past, the Groups are led
standard bearers.). P says March Past will be done without the flag.
what I want is that everyone should do regular exercise, not doing
day only to drop it the next. It must be done regularly to keep the
fit. There is also a provision made for those who don't want to join
Group. All the facilities will be given to them except the March Past
special days. That also does not matter very much since it is held
four or five times a year.
Myself: People are making two objections to the scheme, one about the
Drill". It is neither interesting nor useful.
Nolini: (suddenly raising his voice) Why, I find it very interesting.
Myself: It seems more like some amusement; that was the impression given
Mother: I don't know why he gave that impression. The drill is meant
preparation for the December show. If one starts learning it very early,
then there is a chance of its being perfect. The previous ones had
defects. Though I am not an expert judge of these things, I have seen
photographs taken of them and there the defects can be seen. So they
to give training very early.
Myself: Next is the point of compulsion.
Mother: Compulsion is necessary. If you want to remain in the Group,
have to obey the Group discipline. That is quite reasonable. I will
you one thing: without discipline, strict discipline, no progress can
made in life. No yoga is possible without it. You can't take one step
forward without strict discipline. You may utter a mantra for a hundred
years, but without discipline you won't be able to see beyond the tip
point is about the uniform. You know it costs quite an amount of
money. Those who won't join shall not have uniforms. They don't need
besides. Not that a few uniforms cost much, but when it comes to a
number the expenses become quite heavy.
No, I have read the whole program; it is quite reasonable. You have
choice: you can go to the Non-Group. But once you have made your choice,
you have to stick to it till the end of the year. If you can't follow
discipline yourself, well, then submit to the discipline of those who
some experience of life. So make your choice. Au revoir!
With those words, the Mother went up, leaving us stunned
in an atmosphere charged with force and silence. As soon as I
touched upon the last question, that of discipline, the tempo of her
had begun to rise in a crescendo till it reached its peak at the end
advice. All the while, her gaze had been fixed on my eyes and the words
like bullets my vital nature's self-will in the name of freedom. The
assembly had listened, standing still like statues. Many years have
since then, but I am continuing my compulsory Monday attendance, so
force had been generated in that dynamic utterance. We named it "Black
Monday", a la Charles Lamb.
Nolini who was one of the listeners was also in our Group; he did not,
course, need any such compulsion from outside, neither was Monday black
him; it was golden. But Nolini is Nolini. He joined also the Mass Drill
which, as he said, he found interesting, and attended both the items
regularly till he retired due to age. There were others too who had
for other reasons, but somehow, however reluctant and antipathetic
I am to
this Black Monday, when the day arrives some force drags me on to the
hear very often that the Mother has given us freedom. Freedom and
discipline are therefore contradictions and people justified their
ways by quoting the Mother's authority. When it was referred to her,
vehemently protested and said, "Where and when have I supported
indiscipline?" Well, this strong admonition should now dispel all such
wrong ideas still going about in the Ashram.
Nirodbaran is a long-standing member of the Sri Aurobindo,
and has written
several books about Sri Aurobindo. This excerpt is
from his book Memorable
Contacts with the Mother, pp. 82-85.