In the volume 1 (1958) of her ‘Agenda’ (French for ‘Diary’), one can read how the Mother one day told her confidant Satprem about the Hindu god Ganesh (also called Ganeshan, Ganapati…), whom she at first couldn’t believe really existed as usually described, that is… with an elephant head on an otherwise human-like body.
How come such a strange appearance?!… Legend has it that his father, Lord Shiva himself, was coming to see his consort, the great goddess Parvati, but she was having her bath, and not wanting to be disturbed, she had asked their second son, Ganesh, to guard her door. When Ganeshan, faithful to his mother’s command, refused entry even to his own father, well, Shiva, infuriated, cut his son’s head off… and then immediately repenting of course, got the head of the first other being he saw – which happened to be an elephant – and stuck it on poor Ganeshan’s body so that he could live again!… But that little problem didn’t prevent Ganesh from becoming extremely popular everywhere in India, as the god not only of Knowledge, but also of Riches: the kind Giver of financial abundance and plenty.
The Mother was in charge materially as well as spiritually of the whole Sri Aurobindo Ashram in Pondicherry. As a preliminary to the text quoted below, let’s make it clear that every month, with all the money needed for the food, lodging, clothing, etc, of the more than two thousand disciples living there as Ashramites, in spite of the income from the Ashram-related guest-houses and businesses, plus the numerous donations from some rich devotees, the Mother had most often a hard time finding all the resources necessary to cover all those expenses… So here is what she had to say that day about Ganesh:
‘You see, this is how it happened: there’s this Ganesh2… We had a meditation (this was more than thirty years ago) in the room where “Prosperity”3 is now distributed. (…) And one day when the subject of prosperity or wealth came up, I thought (they always say that Ganesh is the god of money, of fortune, of the world’s wealth), I thought, “Isn’t this whole story of the god with an elephant trunk merely a lot of human imagination?” Thereupon, we meditated. And who should I see walk in and park himself in front of me but a living being, absolutely alive and luminous, with a trunk that long… and smiling! So then, in my meditation, I said, “Ah! So it’s true that you exist!” – “Of course I exist! And you may ask me for whatever you wish, from a monetary standpoint, of course, and I will give it to you!”
So I asked. And for about ten years, it poured in, like this (gesture of torrents). It was incredible. I would ask, and at the next Darshan, or a month or several days later, depending, there it was.
Then the war and all the difficulties came, bringing a tremendous increase of people and expenditure (the war cost a fortune – anything at all cost ten times more than before), and suddenly, finished, nothing more. Not exactly nothing, but a thin little trickle. And when I asked, it didn’t come. So one day, I put the question to Ganesh through his image (!), I asked him, “What about your promise?” – “I can’t do it, it’s too much for me; my means are too limited!” – “Ah!” I said to myself (laughing), “What bad luck!” And I no longer counted on him.
Once someone even asked Santa Claus! A young Muslim girl who had a special liking for “Father Christmas” – I don’t know why, as it was not part of her religion! Without saying a word to me, she called on Santa Claus and told him, “Mother doesn’t believe in you; you should give Her a gift to prove to Her that you exist. You can give it to Her for Christmas.” And it happened!… She was quite proud.
But it only happened like that once. And as for Ganesh, that was the end of it. ‘ (Mother’s Agenda vol.1, 6 July 1958)
Mother, some years later, on 4th January 1964 (‘Agenda’ vol. 5) explained why Ganeshan’s means were not sufficient anymore:
‘It was after the war, the children came and we spilled over; we became much more complex, much larger, and began to be in touch with foreign countries, particularly America. And I continued to be in contact with Ganapati; I can’t say I used to do a puja to him (!), but every morning I would put a flower in front of his image. Then one morning I asked him, “Why have you stopped doing what you had been doing for such a long time?” I listened, and he clearly replied, “Your need has grown too large.” I didn’t quite understand, because he has at his disposal fortunes larger than what I needed. (…) Then I turned to Ganapati and asked him, “What does all that mean?” And I clearly saw (it wasn’t he who answered, it was Sri Aurobindo), I clearly saw that Ganapati has power only over those who have faith in him, which means it’s limited to India, while I needed money from America, France, England, Africa … and that he has no power there, so he couldn’t help. It became very clear, I was at peace, I understood: “Very well, he did his best, that’s all.” And it’s true that I keep receiving from India, though not sufficiently; especially as since Independence half of India has been ruined, and all those who used to give me a lot of money no longer do, because they no longer can – it isn’t that they no longer want to, but that they no longer can.’
How does all this relate to my personal experience and evolutive inner growth, one might ask… Well, from my own early Auroville years on, I knew that Mother didn’t want pudjas (ceremonies, rituals) to be done there for any gods, as Auroville is no place for religion, being a place for spiritual evolution; but I had noticed that still, Mother seemed to somehow make an exception about Ganesh: she had allowed an old Indian lady devotee of hers, living in one of the earliest settlements, to keep the tiny Ganesh temple she had near her house, and even to go on having her pudja to celebrate Ganesh’s Chaturthi (birthday) every year; moreover, other Aurovilians too could join that lady for the occasion. I must have gone indeed once or twice over my first decade of Aurovilian existence, and that was all. Of course, later on, every year of the nearly two decades that I more recently lived at Repos, on the Auroville beach, as I had to employ a whole team of workers to take care of the place, I also joined them for that faithful yearly celebration they wanted to have right there in Repos itself – but that was actually to please the workers rather than Ganesh...
So, as one can see, I personally never despised, but also never gave much importance either to Ganesh.
That is, until last year’s Ganesh Chaturthi, on September 17th 2015…
I must have had really enough of a personal long string of dry, very dry years, that had seen me struggling again and again just to have enough to eat. I barely made it through each passing month with my ‘maintenance’, the amount Auroville could give me for my basic needs.
So on that specific Ganesh Chaturthi day, I did something I had never done before: I addressed myself inwardly to Ganesh.
Yes, Ganesh himself, in the form of the tiny standing picture of an adorable all pink Ganesh, which I had always kept together with an equally tiny and pink little book, tiny but thick with many real tiny blank pages between its cheerful pink covers. On that day, suddenly seized by an irresistible inner urge, I resolutely took hold of the tiny pink book, opened it, and on its very first page I wrote (in pink of course) my first real prayer to Ganesh. The words that came to me inwardly being somehow sacred, I will not repeat them here; they were just my own, anyway. All I can state is that I meant what I said, and said it with ardent fervor, and at the same time with utter simplicity: I just let my heart speak, like to a trusted friend…
And then, after that day had passed I forgot about it all.
But what, a few months later, made me think about it again, were … the results. The very obvious, stunning results that, looking backwards, I could see had happened since then: from nearly everywhere and nearly every friend I may have had there at some point in time, money or presents had started first trickling, and soon pouring in, as a practically constant flow, every time taking care of my every need just as it arose !… If I wrote the list here, you my dear visitors would be as astonished as I have become, by the quiet but undeniable power of Ganesh, manifesting at last in my life after I finally asked him to in all earnest, when really at the end of my rope…
From that September 17th 2015 to Christmas came the first rising wave, culminating on Christmas Eve itself, which I spent at my new home in Luminosity (see the full story in one of my recent posts, https://labofevolution.wordpress.com/2016/01/15/the-biggest-and-most-beautiful-christmas-gift-i-ever-got/) and on New Year’s Eve another wave rose, to still fill further whatever gaps may yet have been there in my life, where something was still materially lacking, and painfully so.
My needs are not much at all, mind you; but when even that isn’t being covered for a long time, it becomes a bit distressing, and one ends up wondering why one’s life has to be really so miserable: the Integral Yoga isn’t at all a path of deliberate asceticism and privations in the name of spirituality, the old poverty vows many of us may have pronounced in other lifetimes as nuns or monks, don’t have to endure in this lifetime too; we are not here to suffer, but, even in this world of Physical Matter, gradually revealing the Divine it actually is, we are here to ourselves manifest also better and better the Divine we all are in truth, since all eternity and for all eternity. But the Divine has to, some way or another, give us the material means for that!
Well, now, it seems that of Ganesh, Mother’s faithful ally for the evolutive work she had to do on a grand scale, I have finally made my ally as well, for my own little needs and evolutive work: as I will explain soon in some future post, my work too has benefited a lot from Ganeshan’s Christmas presents, so much so that nowadays I call him with a big friendly grin ‘Father Ganesh-Christmas’!…