Back to top

Series Four

Letters to a Sadhak

To the sadhak in charge of the Sri Aurobindo Ashram’s cows, bullocks and carts during the 1930s.fnThis correspondence was written entirely in English.

Special new ropes for the bullocks have been prepared by the milkman. When the bullocks are working, it may be safer to use those ropes. As soon as the work is over, the ropes will be removed. Those ropes are not tight; they are loose, so it is no hardship to the bullocks.

Pray sanction them.

I thought they have strongly refused to have the ropes put upon them. The ropes may not be tight, but most probably they will spoil the nose of the bullocks. There again it seems to me that it is a matter of training.

8 May 1932


I beg to submit some facts for your gracious consideration. The weakest and smallest of the bullocks used by X’s cart-men are carrying more than 600 Dem of sand.

How can you speak of that! Do you know how the cart-men here kill their bullocks in a few months or in even less time?

11 May 1932



Tomorrow is a holiday. The day after, these repairs can be made to the cart.

As there will be a big crowd tomorrow in town, you will have to be very careful when taking to and bringing back the bullocks from the Agricultural Garden.

13 July 1932


The coolie did not come last night. He simply put the feeding tubs before the bullocks and went away. He is not working satisfactorily. He does not keep things clean. As there is no better man I am trying to get on with him.

The bullocks seem to like this man and this is the most important point.

For cleanliness it is a matter of supervision.

15 July 1932


No wonder that OjasfnA bullock. gave some trouble. These bullocks are quite intelligent enough to feel the change of people. This new man is not an expert and moreover he has something of a brute around him. You will have to look carefully after him, for I do not like his way of dealing with the bullocks.

I object strongly to his way of twisting the tails of the beasts. If somebody twisted one of his limbs like that, what would he say? And I am pretty sure that our bullocks are more sensitive than he is.

3 September 1932



I have watched the thing from the roof, and saw with the inner sight also. There is absolutely no doubt about what is happening and once more I shall try to make you understand it.

The bullocks are not mischievous. On the contrary, they are very good and peaceful creatures, but very sensitive—unusually sensitive perhaps—(of this I am not sure as I have not followed other bullocks so closely). The truth is that they dislike and distrust the present driver, and not without reason. When they were working under the previous one they were happy and cheerful and worked well. Since this one is driving them they are sad and dejected and work reluctantly. I see no solution but to change the man and to find a better one.

The proposal to frighten them in order to master them is unacceptable. Some kind of submission can thus be obtained perhaps, but of the worst kind. The beasts lose more and more confidence and joy and peace and finally their strength and even their health goes.

What is the use of being a sadhak if, as soon as we act, we act like the ignorant ordinary man?

I can tell you this to finish with the subject, that from the roof I concentrated the power on the bullocks ordering them to yield and obey and I found them quite receptive. To use a quiet, steady, unwavering conscious will, that is the way, the only true way really effective and worthy of an aspirant for Divine Life.

I hope that this time I have made myself clear.

14 September 1932


It seems to me that, at least for a time, it would be better not to try to turn out much work every day, as Ojas may truly need rest. I do not find the new man better than the previous one. He is far too nervous and restless. If he could be a little more quiet and peaceful in dealing with the bullocks they would surely work much more willingly.

22 September 1932



I think that Chakki workfnMilling work. is very disgusting for the bullocks; it brings down their vitality because of that, and makes them become old very soon. That is why I do not wish them to be given that work.

11 January 1933


Saturday the 14th is cattle festival day. Generally in all the places, many things are observed on that day. Horns are painted in red and blue colour, no work is given and so on. I am not submitting all this to have permission to do like that for our cattle. But I am tempted to beg you for your kind gracious permission to use this kind of necklace which I am enclosing herewith for our darling RafnA bullock calf. on that day.

Yes, the necklace is nice, you can put it on; but no painting of the horns; it is so ugly! And I think you must be careful not to take out Ra in the street that day as usually children run after the calves and frighten them very much; they even hurt them sometimes.

12 January 1933


Is not 19 trips too much for the bullocks? It seems to me that they are not getting much rest.

8 June 1933


What is this? If the cart-man made a mistake or misbehaved with the bullocks, I must know and will tolerate none of these mysteries.

7 August 1933


I will explain what happened. X was with the cart, but as he himself says, he was fully merged in solving a problem of chess play. So till the cart was turned over and touched the ground, he did not know.

I do not see what a chess problem has to do either with work or with sadhana. Is X here to solve chess problems? He could do it just as well elsewhere.

26 August 1933


I am sorry to submit to Thee the following about X. For no reason he has beaten Ra with the back of his sandal in her shed at 5.10 p.m. I saw it from Ba’s shed. He removed one sandal from his foot, took it into his hand, turned it over and beat on Ra’s mouth and face. He had put two baskets, one of plantain peels and another of vegetable cuttings, beside the feeding tub. Ra did not take the feed as he wanted her to. This was her mistake. When I ran and questioned him he did not care to answer. Servants tell me that he has beaten Ra like that with a sandal before too and it seems he wants to control her like that.

If truly he does it, it is brutal and stupid; apart from spoiling her head, which is bad enough, he will make her vindictive and violent which is worse.

18 November 1933


I find TejfnA bullock. very much reduced. He is certainly ill and needs some close attention. I would like to know from the doctor if it would not be good for Tej to let him move freely in a pasture for some time, so that he may have air, sun and movement without doing work. This question must be put clearly to the doctor asking for 110a precise answer. It is well known now, that there is no better cure for illnesses, whatever they are, than air and sun.

1 February 1934


I thought there would be no objection from the Municipality or others to fixing rings on foot-path walls to tie the cows. I wanted to have one ring fixed.

All this is absolutely forbidden by the Municipal rules, and if any of these things were done by us it was a great mistake and I intend that it should never be renewed.

10 March 1934


The boy X who was working in the Building Department was dismissed some two days back, not for the crime of theft but for some rash dragging of a cart and thus causing some slight hurt to a dog. So may I keep him as a substitute for his brother?

Certainly not.


If you are pleased to permit, as it is only for a day, I have no objection. He works very satisfactorily. Awaiting orders.

No, he is very rude and a boy who can almost willingly hurt a dog is likely to do the same with the cow and calf.

This boy has been dismissed by my orders and will not be given work in the Ashram.

A man who is cruel with beasts is worse than a beast.

2 April 1934