Sunday, May 30, 2010

I read Sri Aurobindo to find some light in our difficult days

Professor Samuel Hugo Bergman
 (1883-1975)

In a recent conversation[1], I mentioned that in 1972, as a guest of the Hebrew University for lecturing on Savitri, I made the acquaintance of Yehuda Hanegby, editor of the monthly Ariel. During this visit, Madame Themanlys, commissioned to interview me for Kol Israel, the official radio, revealed her identity as the daughter-in-law of a personal friend that the Mother had in Paris, belonging to Max Théon’s group.  I would like to speak of a third interesting personality whom I met in Jerusalem : Professor Schmuel Hugo Bergman, commonly known as Samuel Bergman.

On the eve of my talk, during a dinner, Dr Poznanski, the Rector of the University, informed me that  Professor Bergman, Dean of the University, was hoping to listening to me but, owing to his health (running 89), he could not be present at my lecture; he would appreciate if I went to have breakfast with him on the next morning.

I was staying with my friend, Professor Joseph Sadan, and had my meals with his parents at the picturesque Hayim Nahman Bialik Street : Joseph's father Dov Sadan was a well-known scholar in Ladino, and his mother treated me with refined traditional dishes from Central Europe. Yehuda came to pick me up for going to see Bergman. Yehuda knew him pretty well and informed that Bergman had been a school-mate of Franz Kafka in Prague, and  a zealous friend and translator of Rudolf Steiner (1861-1925). In 1920, Bergman along with Martin Buber (1878-1965) had founded in Palestine a "dual national" area to house peacefully Jews and Arabs, before joining the Hebrew University.  

On entering the impressive library where sat the venerable scholar, I discovered rows of books by Sri Aurobindo. Amused by my reaction, he asked me to take the seat in front of him and commented on showing me the set : "This was our food for thought; David and I read Sri Aurobindo to find some light in our difficult days."

Yehuda whispered : "By David, he means Ben Gurion !"


[1] "Meeting Prithwindra Mukherjee", Article and Interview by Sunayana Panda, The Golden Chain, August 2009, p.13 

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