I was living in Singapore with my husband and five young children. My life was busy (I was doing freelance editorial work and some teaching) but I was becoming more and more aware that something important was missing from my life – something I had to do.
One day, while watching my children swimming at the Singapore Island Club, a small leaflet, which had been placed among the ‘Life Saving Manuals’ on a nearby shelf, caught my eye. I pulled it out: the first page showed a photo of Sri Aurobindo (an arresting face, I thought); the second page was about his role in the struggle for India’s independence from British rule (never been interested in politics); the third page gave a brief account of the Integral Yoga (??); and the fourth page changed my life – with seven lines from Savitri.
A magic leverage suddenly is caught
That moves the veiled Ineffable’s timeless will
A prayer, a master act, a king idea
Can link man’s strength to a transcendent Force.
Then miracle is made the common rule,
One mighty deed can change the course of things;
A lonely thought becomes omnipotent.
The date was May 1st, 1973. In the Ashram at Pondicherry the Mother had retired to her room, but looking back to that day I feel that something of her force had swept over the world and caught up people here and there in the wake of her comet trail, for although I had never heard of Sri Aurobindo or the Mother before, those few lines struck me with the power of a revelation and I knew that I needed to discover more. It is not easy at this distance in time, to recapture the sudden illumination that flooded into my mind as I read what this unknown poet had written. Some special grace must have prevented me from trying, out of habit, to submit it to some sort of critical analysis at first glance, for that might have prevented the experience of an overwhelming certainty that this message of hope, with its implicit rejection of human powerlessness and incapacity, was the way out of our human dilemma. There was no internet available to me in those days, no address on the leaflet, and a trawl of bookshops yielded no result; so I had to wait until July 1976 for the next stage of my journey to begin.
The whole family had gone with friends on a boat trip to an off-shore island. A picnic lunch was prepared as the children played on the beach. Then history seemed to repeat itself as my eye caught sight of a two-line item in the local newspaper announcing that Shri M.P. Pandit from Sri Aurobindo Ashram would be giving a talk that very evening at the Ramakrishna Mission. Here was the opportunity I had been waiting for!
However it took all my powers of persuasion to convince the rest of the party that their hostess needed to call an end to the picnic and return immediately to Singapore. Persistence was rewarded for I not only learned who Sri Aurobindo was but also met many members of the Singapore Indian community who had close links with the Ashram. Some of them had been to Auroville in those early years, and it was from this first contact that my interest developed, until in the late nineteen-seventies I was finally able to visit India, Pondicherry and Auroville itself for the first time. In later years, my work with AVIUK has brought me into closer contact with Auroville and with dedicated people throughout the world who have understood the importance of its destiny to be the cradle of a new consciousness.