Estd : 4th November , 1964
" Matrimandir " -- This name is given by THE MOTHER
First of all we shall have to know the events and situation related to establishment of
And for this reason we shall follow the foot steps of Late Hemlal Mitra.
Let us follow him.
A few years after the partition of Bengal, Hemlal Mitra immigrated from East Pakistan (now Bangladesh) to India and settled down with his family at Habra, a small town of West Bengal, situated in the district of North 24 Parganas. He and his family had been renowned businessmen in East Pakistan. His move to India was a result of a devastating fire which had broken out in the market place, burning many shops to ashes, including all the shops of the ‘Mitra Family’. In those days businessmen used to keep all their money and precious belongings in iron safes. Those heavy iron safes, situated within their shops, were traditionally considered to be very secure. So Hemlal’s family too had all the business money stored there. As no fire brigade existed then, Hemlal watched with helplessness as their shops were devoured mercilessly. The fire burnt for three whole days, demolishing even the safes. Ultimately it subsided, leaving Hemlal and his brothers completely ruined, both financially and mentally. So to start anew his living, Hemlal came over to West Bengal with his wife and children.
Being a businessman, and with almost no capital, he started a very modest shop of sarees and readymade garments in Habra. But no matter how much labour he put into it there was no gain. Instead of profit, the business continued to run at a loss, until he felt he had to return to East Pakistan. It was a very low moment.
However just then his old acquaintance from Bangladesh, Bhupesh Sen, dropped by the shop for his occasional visit. He too was an immigrant, now settled in West Bengal and was a witness of Hemlal’s struggle against misery and poverty.
He noticed the shop devoid of stock. So he inquired, “Hemda, why don’t I see any sarees and garments?”
“I cannot keep up with the business, nor can I support my family with what I am earning”, Hemlal complained, "I have no choice but to go back to my old homeland; may be I will be luckier there.”
Bhupesh listened attentively to all his complaints, then talked to him about the Sri Aurobindo Ashram in Pondicherry, situated in the south of India; he further told him about the Divine Mother residing in the Ashram.
“Would you be able to take refuge in Her? Can you hold Her close like a child to a mother? Then write to Her everything – about all your problems – and ask for Her blessings. Surrender yourself at Her feet. Pray to Her ardently.”
Hemlal agreed to write to Her. But he was so much troubled that he could not express his thoughts on paper. Emotionally moved, he broke into tears, “I cannot write.” Those were his only words. Bhupesh took the pen and paper and penned down Hemlal’s feelings. The letter soon drafted was sent to THE MOTHER. In a few days he received an answer from THE MOTHER with Her Blessings.
From then onwards his business improved and a change came over him. He was a man saved as if from drowning by the Divine’s Grace. He totally surrendered himself to THE MOTHER.
Habra is situated close to the border between Bangladesh and India. Most of the Bengali Muslims along the border were farmers, well acquainted with Hemlal from East Pakistan days. Those farmers would come to Habra Bazar to sell their cattle and agricultural products. At the end of the each day they used to keep their money secured with Hemlal as he was well known for his honesty. At the end of the week the farmers used to collect the money from him. During the week Hemlal would invest that money in his own business but by the end of week the farmers’ money was kept ready for them pie to pie. With THE MOTHER’s Grace, this system brought a new turn to his business.
His first shop had been situated in a narrow lane of the Bazaar. Now he was able to rent a new shop on the main road, very ideal for business. After shifting he added new dress materials, shoes, slippers and umbrellas with his previous inventories of sarees and readymades. He named his shop after THE DIVINE MOTHER, “Mahalakshmi Bastralaya and Mahalakshmi Shoe House.”
Maheshwari , Mahakali, Mahalakshmi and Mahasaraswati are the four aspects of THE DIVINE MOTHER.
After receiving THE MOTHER’s blessings his new business increasingly flourished. Grateful to THE MOTHER from the care of his heart, Hemlal became greatly devoted to Her. Like a child clinging to his mother, he took total refuge under Her blessings and protection.
Hemlal’s family deity was Kali and for many generations this goddess had been worshipped. It is well understood in Bengal, that when Kali becomes the family deity she is not to be replaced by any other idol, otherwise disaster will follow.
But Hemlal went ahead and made arrangements for the worship of THE DIVINE MOTHER at his residence. THE MOTHER Herself being the Mahashakti, why should he worship an idol? Everyone opposed this move, even his relatives. But Hemlal was sincere in his devotion and firm in his belief. Despite all adverse reaction he installed THE MOTHER’s photo, his Mahakali. Thus began THE MOTHER’s puja in Hemlal’s home.
In the early of 50’s, accompanied by Bhupesh Sen, Hemlal first visited the Ashram in Pondicherry. The morning after his arrival by Madras Mail he entered Her presence. He knelt at Her feet and She caressed the crown of his head – and the back of his neck, as well. The child Hemlal had found his true Mother. His soul reached out to her. It was a feeling of profound ethereal joy. He was Hers forever more.
After THE MOTHER’s darshan he met Sri Nolini Kanta Gupta, The Secretary of the Ashram, known to the inmates as Nolinida. Nolinida received him with love and affection and gave him honest advice. Gradually a fraternal relationship developed between them. Hemlal respected and adored him as his elder brother. And Nolinida reciprocated the brotherly feeling, for he treasured Hemlal’s truthfulness and childlike simplicity. Nolinida became his only advisor in relation to both business and family. Whatever decision had to be made Nolinida was always there to help him out. Hemlal Mitra’s every step was made with Nolinida’s consent. But Nolinida never gave advice on his own. He first mentioned everything to The Mother, then let Hemlal Mitra know her wish. And it was obyed accordingly, Even Hemlal Mitra’s Children knew Nolinida as their own “Jyathamashai“ (Uncle, elder to father), and called him so. From then on Hemlal went to Pondicherry for almost every darshan.
On 21st February, 1955, the Sri Aurobindo Karmi Sangha was founded by Sri Shanti Ranjan Chakraborty and Sri Pramod Ranjan Sen in Habra. The sangha will ever be grateful to them for their selfless and dedicated work. Pramodda was at that time the editor of “Srinvantu” Patrika, a well respected Bengali publication. He was also president of Nabajibon Andolon. From the beginning of Sri Aurobindo Karmi Sangha, Hemlal Mitra was an active member. He also participated in all of Pramodda’s other work related to THE MOTHER and SRI AUROBINDO.
In the 1960’s Hemlal, along with the help and collaboration of his wife Ashalata, bought a plot in Prafullanagar, a village in Habra. It was their sincere desire to build a temple for the Divine Mother there.
During this period Hemlal had been elected Sabhapati (President) of the Sri Aurobindo Karmi Sangha. But as the Sri Aurobindo Karmi Sangha had no permanent headquarters, the single room office had to be shifted many times in its first few years. This was very tiresome and distracting. So one day in a meeting of the committee it was decided that the Sri Aurobindo Karmi Sangha must have a private office. President Hemlal Mitra suggested that an office could be built in the plot that he had bought in Prafullanagar. All the members warmly welcomed this proposal.
Prior to that Hemlal had already established a temple of the Divine Mother at his own residence, where each year during Kalipuja he would celebrate the ‘Mahakali Puja' of THE MOTHER. All the members of the sangha had participated in this. In fact, the whole village attended the ceremony receiving THE MOTHER's prasad. Anil Mukherjee, a sadhaka, of the Sri Aurobindo Ashram, along with his family never failed to attend this event.
In the year 1963, Hemlal took a leading role when the actual construction of the center in Prafullanagar began. As he was much loved and respected by all, members of the Sri Aurobindo Karmi Sangha and even persons from outside contributed for the completion of the building, whether financially or with their sincere labour or with both. Those who participated in achieving this goal, will always be remembered by us, are
Shanti Ranjan Chakraborty, Pramod Ranjan Sen, Hemlal Mitra, Narayan Chandra Pal, Sushil Das, Sudhir Ghosh, Jagannath Banerjee, Sushil Basu, Phanibhushan Roychowdhury, Anil Chatterjee, Makhan Lal Sarkar, Ashima Ghosh, Bithika Ghosh, Gaurango Biswas, Sankar Das, Phanibhushan Nath, Sachindra Nath Bose and many others.
Those members who had volunteered from the very origin of the foundation of the Sri Aurobindo Karmi Sangha and still participating in it are :
Ashit Ranjan Das, Narayan Majumder, Anil Sarkar, Prabhat Chandra Chandra, Lohit Banerjee, Gobindo Lal Chakroborty, Renugopal Das, Bimal Das, Sekhar Ghosh, Bhupesh Sen, Santosh Adhikary.
At last, in August 1964, the building of the Karmi Sangha was completed.
A photo of the structure was taken to THE MOTHER for Her blessings. She, dated it 15th August, 1964, gave Her blessings and put Her signature to it.
Now though no one had thought to request a name for the centre, THE MOTHER Herself wrote that its name was to be “MATRIMANDIR“.
It was deemed a great privilege for the Sri Aurobindo Karmi Sangha to be first “MATRIMANDIR" of THE MOTHER.
That same year on the 4th of November THE MOTHER gave permission for the opening ceremony of Matrimandir to take place. Bhaktas from many other centres of THE MOTHER and SRI AUROBINDO in West Bengal attended the ceremony. Residents of Habra and Ashoknagar and even many of those staying at quite a distance also came.
Sri Aurobindo Karmi Sangha’s first dream was fulfilled. They had at last a centre of their own, blessed by THE MOTHER. On that memorable occasion THE MOTHER had sent a very special message to the centre, a divine mantra, which will always remain aflame in the hearts of the Karmis.
To open a centre is not sufficient in itself. It must be the pure hearth of a perfect sincerity in a total consecration to the Divine.
Let the flame of this sincerity rise high above the falsehoods and the deceptions of the world.