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Satprem

Satprem

image from Satprem and Sujata; © Mira Aditi

Satprem is a French author and an important disciple of The Mother. He was born Bernard Enginger on 30 October 1923 in Paris and had a seafaring childhood and youth in Brittany. During World War II he was a member of the French Resistance. He was arrested by the Gestapo in late 1943 and spent one and a half years in German concentration camps. Scarred by the experience, hew after the war became interested in the existentialism of André Gide and André Malraux. He travelled to Egypt and then India, where he worked briefly as a civil servant in the French colonial administration of Pondicherry, on the Bay of Bengal in India. There he discovered Sri Aurobindo and The Mother and their "new evolution". He resigned from the civil service, and went in search of adventure in French Guiana, where he spent a year in the Amazon (the setting for his first novel The Gold Washer), with his copy of The Life Divine (10th ed.), , then Brazil, and after that Africa.

In 1953, aged thirty, he returned to India and Pondicherry to put himself at the service of The Mother and settle in the Ashram. He taught a little at the Ashram school, and was in charge of the French copy for the quarterly Bulletin of the Department of Physical Education which was The Mother's publication, and is still printed in English and French. During this time he met his companion Sujata Nahar.

Then travelled once more — Congo, Brasilia, Afghanistan, Himalayas, New Zealand, sailed round the world, before once again returning.

In March the 3rd 1957, The Mother gave him the name Satprem (‘the one who loves truly’). (Agenda vol.1, p.48 n.2, and p.100).

Satprem remained restless and dissatisfied for some years, torn between his devotion to the Mother and to Sri Aurobindo's teachings and his wanderlust, and in 1959 he again left the ashram. He became the disciple of a Tantric, a priest of temple at Ramesvaram. Then as the disciple of another Yogi he spent six months and wandering around India as a mendicant sanyasi practicing Tantra, which formed the basis of his second novel, Par le corps de la terre, ou le Sanyassin (Engl. By the Body of the Earth, or The Sanyasi).

After this he returned again (as he put it, "the bird flew back once more" (Agenda vol.1 p.327)), to the Pondicherry Ashram and the Mother, who started inviting him from time to time to her room, originally for work in connection with the Bulletin. As their relationship developed, he asked more questions, and eventually decided to to record their conversations, taking a tape-recorder to her room. The result of this collaboration was The Agenda, the first volume of which (which covers 1951 to 1960) also contains Satprem's letters to The Mother during his wandering days. Also, under The Mother's guidance he wrote Sri Aurobindo, ou l'Aventure de la conscience (Engl. Sri Aurobindo, or the Adventure of Consciousness), which became the most popular introductory book to Sri Aurobindo and The Mother (published 1964). In 1972 and73 he also wrote under the Mother's guidance the essay La Genèse du surhomme (On the Way to Supermanhood), which she regarded very highly. This was published in 1974

Satprem relates that on 19 May 1973, six months before The Mother's death he was barred admission to her room (Satprem 1982 p.200, and Agenda vol.13), the beginning of a serious falling out between the Ashram leadership and himself. Moreover he claimed that the Mother did not actually die but rather entered a "cataleptic trance" or state of suspended animation in which there would not even be a detectable heartbeat (Mind of the Cells pp.198-202). One might argue that this may simply have been Satprem's rationalisation in the face of the death of a being he believed could not die (an analogy may be made with the death of Christ and resulting myth of resurrection). In any case, there seems to be no generally agreed view regarding this among devotees of Sri Aurobindo and The Mother.

After the Mother's passing, all his correspondence from 1962 to 1973 with the Mother was confiscated, and Satprem was expelled from the ashram, escaping with the tapes of the Agenda to Auroville, and he became persona non grata in the Ashram (Titlebaum, 1985-1986). There, at the age of fifty, he edited and published the 13 volumes of the Agenda, while at the same time writing a trilogy At that time and wrote the trilogy Mère (Mother) - The Divine Materialism, The New Species, The Mutation of Death - both a biography of the Mother and his own analyses and commentary on the Agenda material.

According to the biography on the Institute for Evolutionary Research website (see Satprem and Sujata under "links", below), in 1978 the Ashram trustees "expelled" Satprem, because of the trilogy he had written. Satprem and Sujata left Pondicherry in that year.

In 1980 Satprem wrote Le mental des cellules (Engl The Mind of the Cells), a synopsis and introduction of the whole Agenda, with many fascinating and important excerpts, and written with great passion, even if his frequent Darwinian metaphors hardly bear resemblance to the actual scientific theory of Darwinism. He also refers to personal experiences, including an attempt upon his life, which he only survived by going into a state of complete non-resistence.

In Paris, the Institut of Recherches Evolutives (Institute for Evolutionary Research) was established for the publishing and dissemination of the Agenda.

In 1983 Satprem and Sujata decided to withdraw completely from public life to devote themselves exclusively to Sri Aurobindo's and Mother's work of the transformation of the cellular consciousness of the body and realisation of the new evolution, and the search for the "great passage" in the evolution beyond Man. The 1985 book La vie sans mort (Life without Death) is a follow-up to Mind of the Cells, co-written with Luc Venet, and provides a glimpse of Satprem in his post-Ashram life in this period.

After seven years, Satprem emerged and began producing a steady stream of books on his experiences, Sri Aurobindo and the Mother's teachings, and the future evolution of man. In 1989, he wrote The Revolt of the Earth, in which he describes his years "digging" in the body. This was followed in 1992 by Evolution II, where he asks "After Man, who? But the question is: After Man, how?" In 1994 came his Letters of a Rebel, two volumes of autobiographical correspondence. In 1995 he wrote The Tragedy of the Earth - From Sophocles to Sri Aurobindo, an urgent message for mankind to take action against the cycle of death. This was followed in 1998 The Key of Tales, and in 1999 The Neanderthal Looks On, an essay on the betrayal of Man in India as in the West. This was followed in 2000 by The Legend of the Future. In 1999, Satprem also started the publication of his Notebooks of an Apocalypse (in French, five volumes published, in English, vol.1, 1973-1978, dealing with the years and his experiences immediately after the pasisng of the Mother, has just been released), which records his work in the depths of the body consciousness.



References

Mother's Agenda (1979- ) (Engl. transl) Institute for Evolutionary Research, New York, NY (13 vol set)

Satprem (1982) Link to Amazon com The Mind of the Cells (transl by Francine Mahak & Luc Venet) Institute for Evolutionary Research, New York, NY

Satprem (1989), The Revolt of the Earth (transl. by Luc Venet) Mira Aditi, Mysore

Luc Venet (1985) external link Life without Death, Institute for Evolutionary Research, New York, NY


Web links Links Web links

external link Satprem as seen by Georges van Vrekhem in ''Beyond the Human Species'' Chapter 23 "Two Rooms" pages 370-373

external link Satprem and Sujata - biography

external link English titles published by Mira Aditi

external link Satprem

external link Sri Aurobindo or the Adventure of Consciousness - extracts

external link On-line texts translated into Russian

external link Name Index - page includes brief bio



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page by M.Alan Kazlev
The text of this page is from the Wikipedia link Wikipedia article, "Satprem" http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Satprem, used under the Wikipedia link GNU Free Documentation License. Apart from a few typos that have been corrected, this is the same as the original review I wrote on 29 March to the 13 June 2005. However, since it also appears on Wikipedia this page is here presented under the same licence
this page uploaded 19 August 2005