April 12, 1961
(The disciple asks for permission to poison some cats who have been disturbing him every night. Mother replies.)
I once had a cat with almost a child's consciousness, and someone poisoned it. And when he came back poisoned, dying, I cursed all people who poison cats. And that's serious, so you mustn't do it. It was a real curse – I was with Sri Aurobindo, so it was serious – so don't do it.
But there is a way....
You know, I made a pact with cats, with the King of the Cats – it goes back very, very far. And it's extraordinary (it happened in Tlemcen, entirely on the occult plane), extraordinary! For certain reasons, the King of the Cats gave me a power over these creatures – and it's true. Only I have to see them.
We shall try.
What do these animals represent in the terrestrial manifestation? They're so strange....
Cats are vital forces, incarnations of vital forces. The King of the Cats – that is, the spirit of the species – is a being of the vital world.
For instance, cats can very easily incarnate the vital force of a dead person. I have had two absolutely astounding experiences of this.
The first was with a boy who was a Sanskritist and had wanted to come to India with us. He was the son of a French ambassador – an old, noble family. But he learned that his lungs were bad, and so he joined the Army; he enlisted as an officer, just at the start of the 1914 war. And he had the courage of those who no longer cling to life; when he received the order to advance on the enemy trenches (it was incredibly stupid, simply sending people to be slaughtered!), he didn't hesitate. He went. And he was hit between the two lines. For a long time, it was a no man's land; only after some days, when the other trench had been taken, could they go and collect the dead. All this came out in the newspapers AFTERWARDS. But on the day he was killed, of course, no one was aware of it.
I had a nice photo of him with a Sanskrit dedication, placed on top of a kind of wardrobe in my bedroom. I open the door and... the photo falls. (There was no draft or anything.) It fell and the glass broke into smithereens. Immediately I said, “Oh! Something has happened to... Fontenay.” (That was his name: Charles de Fontenay.) After that I came back down from my room, and then I hear a miaowing at the door (the door opened onto a large garden courtyard1). I open the door: a cat bursts in and jumps on me, like that (Mother thumps her breast). I speak to him: “What is it, what's the matter?” He drops to the ground and looks at me – Fontenay's eyes! Absolutely! No one else's. And he just stayed put, he didn't want to go. I said to myself, “Fontenay is dead.”
The news came a week later. But the newspapers gave the date when they had moved out of the trenches and been killed – it had been on that day.
The other story dates farther back. I was living in another house (we had the whole fifth floor), and once a week I used to hold meetings there with people interested in occultism – they came to have me demonstrate or tell them about occult practices. There was a Swedish artist, a French lady and... a young French boy, a student and a poet. His parents were decent country people who bled themselves white to pay for his life in Paris. This boy was very intelligent and a true artist, but he was depraved. (We knew about it, but it was his private life and none of our business.) One evening, when four or five of us were to meet, this boy didn't turn up, although he had said he would. We had our meeting anyway and didn't think much about it – we thought he must have been busy elsewhere. Around midnight, when the people were leaving, I open the door. A big black cat was sitting in the doorway and, in a single bound, it jumps on me, just like that, all curled up in a ball. So I calm it down, I look at it – “Ah, the eyes!” They were this boy's eyes. (I no longer recall his name.) Right away (at the time we were all involved in occultism), we knew something had happened; he had been unable to come and the cat had incarnated his vital force.
The next day, all the newspapers were full of a vile murder: a pimp had murdered this boy – it was disgusting! Something utterly vile. And it had happened at the very moment he should have come – the concierge had seen him going into the house with this pimp. What happened? Was it just for money or for something else – vice? Or what?
But both times, the incarnation was so (how to put it?) powerful that the eyes changed; the eyes of the cat changed completely into the eyes of the dead person. Unmistakable. Both came to me and both times there was the same movement, the same kind of feline howl – you know how they sound.
But I have had some cats.... I had a cat who was the reincarnation of the mind of a Russian woman. I had a vision of it one day, it was so strange – this woman had been murdered at the time of the Russian Revolution, along with her two little children. And her mind entered a cat here. (How? I don't know.) But this cat, mon petit.... I got her when she was very young. She would come and lie down, stretched out like a human being, with her head on my arm! (I used to sleep on a Japanese tatami on the floor.) And she would stay there, so well-behaved, didn't stir all night long! I was really amazed. Then she had kittens, and wanted to give birth to them lying stretched out, not at all like a cat. It was very difficult to make her understand that it couldn't be done that way! And one night after she had had her kittens, I saw her... I saw a young woman in furs, with a fur bonnet – you could just see a tiny human face; she had two little ones and she came to me and placed them at my feet. Her whole story was there in her consciousness: how she and the two children had been murdered. And then I realized she was the cat!
The cat wouldn't leave her kittens for a moment! Not for anything. She wouldn't eat, wouldn't go outside to relieve herself, nothing: she stayed put. So I told her, “Bring me your kittens.” (If you know how to handle them, cats understand very well when they're spoken to.) “Bring me your little ones.” She looked at me, went and brought one of her kittens, and placed it between my feet. Then she went to fetch the other one and placed it between my feet (not beside, between my feet). “Now you can go out,” I told her. And out she went.
I had another cat named Kiki. He had a wonderful color and was just like velvet. We used to have meditations and he would come, get up on a chair and go into trance; he would make the brusque movements of trance during the meditation. And I had to rouse him out of it, otherwise he wouldn't wake up!
Once this cat was stung by a scorpion. A foolhardy youngster, he used to play with scorpions. I had to rescue him one day; I came onto the verandah just when he was playing with a big scorpion. I caught the cat, put him on my shoulder and killed the scorpion. But another time I wasn't there, and he was stung. He came inside, done for. I clearly saw the signs that he had been poisoned by a scorpion. I put him on a table and went to call Sri Aurobindo. “Kiki has been stung by a scorpion,” I said. (He was dying, almost in a coma.) Sri Aurobindo pulled up a chair, sat down facing the table and began to gaze at Kiki. This lasted about twenty or twenty-five minutes. Then suddenly the cat relaxed completely and... fell asleep. When he woke up, he was entirely cured.
Sri Aurobindo didn't touch him, he didn't do anything; he simply gazed at him.
I had another cat I called Big Boy. Oh, how beautiful he was! Enormous! A tail like the train of a gown. He was beautiful! Since there were all kinds of cats prowling around, including a big fierce tomcat who was extremely vicious, I was very afraid for this one when he was little and I got him used to spending his nights inside (which is hard for a cat to do). I forbade him to go out. So he spent his nights inside and when I got up in the morning, he got up too and came and sat down in front of me. Then I would say, “All right, Big Boy, you can go,” and he would jump out the window and go off – but never before. And this is the one who was poisoned.
Because later on he would go roaming about; he had become terribly strong and would prowl around everywhere. At that time I was living in the Library house, and he would go off as far as the Ashram street (the Ashram didn't belong to us yet, the house was owned by all kinds of people), but when I would go out on the terrace across from Champaklal's kitchen and call, “Big boy! Big Boy!” although he couldn't hear it, he could sense it, and he would come back galloping, galloping. He always came back, unfailingly. The day he didn't come back, I got worried; the servant went looking for him – and found him moaning, vomiting, poisoned. He brought him to me. Oh, really! it was.... He was so nice! He wasn't a thief or anything – he was a wonderful cat. Someone had laid out poison for god knows what cat, and he ate it. I showed him to Sri Aurobindo and said, “He has been killed.”
Before that, I lost another one from that kind of typhoid cats get. He was called Browny and he was so beautiful, so nice, such a marvelous cat! Even when utterly sick, he wouldn't make a mess, except in a corner prepared just for that; he would call me to carry him to his box, with such a soft and mournful voice. He was so nice, with something sweeter and more trusting than a child. There is a trust in animals which doesn't exist in humans (even children already have too much of a questioning mind). But with him, there was a kind of worship, an adoration, as soon as I took him in my arms – if he could have smiled, he would have. As soon as I held him, he became blissful.
That one too was beautiful, with such a color! Golden chestnut, I have never seen a cat like him. He is buried here beneath the tree I named “Service.” I put him beneath the roots myself. There had been an old mango tree there that was withering away. We replaced it with a little copper pod tree with yellow flowers.
These animals are so nice when you know how to handle them.
When I moved here to the Ashram, I said, “We can't bring any cats into this house, it's quite impossible.” This was after Big Boy's death, and we had had enough of cats. I gave away the others, but the first one, the mother of the whole line, was old and didn't want to leave, so I felt her behind. She stayed in a house over there, within the Ashram compound. And one day – she was very old and could no longer move – I saw her come dragging in and sit down on that terrace on the other side. (Now you can't see it any more – the Service Tree has hidden it completely – but in those days you could see it very clearly.) She came and sat down over there where she could watch me... until she died. Quietly, without moving, she died watching me.
All these cat stories! If we had photographs, we could make a pretty little album of cat stories.
And extraordinary, extraordinary details! Showing such intelligence, oh!... This woman – I mean this cat who had been a woman – if you knew how she brought up her children, oh! With such patience, such intelligence and understanding! It was extraordinary. One could tell long, long stories: how she taught them not to be afraid, to walk along the edge of walls, to jump from a wall to a window. She showed them, encouraged them, and finally, after showing and encouraging them very often (some would jump, others were afraid), she would give them a push! So of course they would jump immediately.
And she taught them everything. To eat, to.... This cat would never eat before they had all eaten. She would show them what to do, give each one what it needed. And once they had grown up and she didn't have to look after them anymore, if they kept coming back she would send them away: “Go away! Your turn is over, it's finished. Go out into the world!” And she would take care of the new ones.
Once one of her kittens was ill. She was pretty and gray colored, clear gray like a very soft fur, very pretty. She had caught this cat sickness and was lying down. And the mother was teaching all the little ones not to come near her; she would make them go all the way around, as if her instinct told her it was contagious. And you would see them (the sick kitten was right in their way) going all the way around, never coming near.
These cat stories went on for years and years....
And it isn't true that they don't obey! It's just that we don't know how to handle them. Cats are extremely sensitive to the vital force, to vital power, and they can be made perfectly obedient – and with such devotion! Cats are said to be neither devoted nor attached nor faithful, but that's not true at all. You can have quite a friendly relationship with them.
And, an incredible thing... this cat was very pretty, but she had a wretched tail, a tail like an ordinary cat; and one day when I was with her at the window, one of the neighbor's cats wandered into the garden – an angora with three colors, three very prominent colors, and such a beautiful tail trailing behind! So I said (my cat was just beside me), “Oh! Just see how beautiful she is! What a beautiful tail she has!” And I could see my cat looking at her. My child, in her next litter she had one exactly like that! How did she manage it? I don't know. Three prominent colors and a magnificent tail! Did she hunt up a male angora? Or did she just will for it intensely?
They are really something, you can't imagine! Once, when she was due to give birth and was very heavy, she was walking along the window ledge and... I don't know what happened, but she fell. She had wanted to jump from the ledge, but she lost her footing and fell. It must have injured something. The kittens didn't come right away, they came later, but three of them were deformed (there were six in all). Well, when she saw how they were, she simply sat on them – killed them as soon as they were born. Such incredible wisdom! (They were completely deformed: the hind paws were turned the wrong way round – they would have had an impossible life.)
And she used to count her little ones. She knew perfectly well how many she had. I just had to tell her, “Keep only two or three” – although the first time there were only three, which was still too many, yet it was absolutely impossible not to let her keep them all. But later on I had to chide her. I didn't take them from her, but I would speak to her, convince her: “It's too much, you'll be ill. Just keep these. See how nice these two are. Take care of them.”
Oh, what lovely cat stories! That was a whole period... for many, many years.... Many years.
Mind you, I would never have considered having any, but two cats were already there when I came to the house. They were not very interesting cats, but they became the parents of the one I just told you about (those boys who were living with Sri Aurobindo had already had some experience; they knew quite a few things about cats), and that was the origin of all the cats I had here. But people (you know how simplistic they always are!) believed I had some special attachment for cats, so then of course everybody started keeping cats! It was no use my telling them, “No, it's a particular study we're making – I wanted to see, to learn certain things, and I learned what I had to – but now that I have moved to another house, the cat era is over; the old friends are gone, only the younger generation is left.” I gave them all away and said) “That's enough.” But it's hard to make people understand – some people here have 25 cats! That's unreasonable! It's not the way to deal with cats. You have to look after them as I did, and then it becomes interesting.
There was one – I know I SAW it: when he died there was already the embryo of a psychic being, ready for a human incarnation. I made them progress like wildfire.
1 Rue du Val-de-Grace (in Paris).