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Department

 

    Philatelic activities began in the Ashram because Mother had an interest in stamps since her childhood. Pavitra-da (Monsieur St. Hilaire) was the first collector in the ashram. In France he had many albums, at least eight or ten. With the 

Mother’s approval he got his stamp albums from France and started the stamp collection work. This was in the late 1920s.

    This work was being done in Pavitra-da's own room in the main Ashram building, upstairs where Mother used to come daily. At times she would see the collection which was kept in Pavitra-da's bed room, the room through which Mother used to pass while going to give Balcony Darshan. There he had a small almirah where everything was  stacked.

    Noren Singh joined the Ashram in 1939 and started working with Pavitra-da , assisting him mainly in the stamp work. Later Noren Singh had been selected for the stamp collection work by the Mother.

    The philatelic department took shape in the present room when Noren Singh was in charge. In the beginning, for a long time, only Suprabha used to help him. Sri Aurobindo lived in this room for four years from 1922 to February 1927, till His  retirement. It was in this room that the  descent of Over mind took place. After that Anilbaran was given this room. Later when he left for Calcutta (Kolkata), in the mid 1960s, the Mother handed over the keys of this vacant room to Noren Singh in order to house the stamp collection. This shows how much she cared about it. By that time the collection had grown vastly and there was not enough space for it in Pavitra-da's room.

    This small collection of stamps grew fast due to the Mother's encouragement. Later, when Mother went up to live in her  second-floor rooms. She used to come downstairs with Pranab. At that time whenever Noren Singh received any stamp he would show it to Her. She would stand and see them and she definitely took great interest in the work. Sri Aurobindo also knew about this work.

    The stamp collection grew because Noren Singh would exchange stamps with other collectors. The stamps the devotees sent to the Mother were given to Noren Singh by the Mother herself. Even when She was not seeing many people, Sumitra used to go up to Her because she was secretary to Pavitra-da and so she took letters to the Mother. Seeing covers with stamps. Mother would say, 'You go and give these covers personally to your brother". Earlier all the letters which were coming were kept inside the drawer of Pavitra-da's office and  when it was full Noren Singh would sort them out for  stamps.

    The Mother's stamp collection, or the Department of Philately as it is now known, has stamps from many countries of the world. There is a good collection of post-independent India (British India not much), French India and some countries of Western Europe, such as France, Germany, Holland and Switzerland. There is also a good representation of modern stamps of Canada, U.S.A. Brazil and other countries. Coins and bank notes too are collected. The Mother was equally interested in them.

    The Telecarte collection, started only a few years back, say in the year 2000, is growing fast; an ardent collector in France helps.

    Previously there were no fixed timings as Noren Singh would work whenever he had time. At present, however, the timings are from 8 a.m. to 11 a.m. and 1.30 p.m. to 4 p.m. Regular handling for giving light and air to the stamps is very important. During the rainy season one cannot bring out the stamps due to high humidity but there are other work, such as catching up with correspondence and reading the stamp journals. This also is important. One also works with coins at that time.