A Brief Life-Sketch
of Sri Aurobindo and The Mother
Sri Aurobindo was born on the 15th August, 1872 at Calcutta. At an early age of seven, he was taken along with his elder brothers to England for education, since his father wanted him to have no Indian influence in the shaping of his outlook and personality. And yet, even though Sri Aurobindo assimilated in himself richly the best of the European culture, he returned to India in 1893 with a burning aspiration to work for the liberation of India from foreign rule. While in England, Sri Aurobindo passed the I.C.S. Examination, and yet he felt no call for it; so he got himself disqualified by remaining absent from the riding test. The Gaekwar of Baroda happened to be there at that time, and Sri Aurobindo accepted the proposal to be his Personal Secretary, and returned to India.
Soon thereafter, however, Sri Aurobindo switched over to the Baroda College as Professor of French and then of English, and when in 1906, he left for Bengal, he was the acting Principal of the College. It was during the Baroda period that Sri Aurobindo assimilated in himself the spirit and culture of India and prepared himself for his future political and spiritual work. Indeed, his political work had already begun in Baroda, but it was behind the scenes, largely of the nature of a preparation for an armed revolution for the liberation of India.
Sri Aurobindo was the first among the Indian leaders to declare and work for the aim of complete Independence of India. In 1905, Bengal was divided, and Sri Aurobindo left Baroda and, invited by the nationalistic leaders, he joined at Calcutta the newly started National College as its first Principal. It was here that Sri Aurobindo, while working secretly for the revolution, chalked out also a plan of outer action. This plan consisted of the programme of passive Reisstance, Boycott and Swadeshi, which was later adopted as the policy of the struggle for freedom. It was here again that Sri Aurobindo wrote powerfully and boldly for Bande Mataram, and later for Karma Yogin ; through his writings, he electrified the nation and surcharged the people with a new energy which ultimately led the nation to her freedom. It was, therefore, significant that when India attained her liberation in 1947, it was on the 15th August, the birthday of Sri Aurobindo.
The pioneering work that Sri Aurobindo did for the liberation of India was evidently a part of his larger work for the entire humanity and for the whole earth. For him, the liberation of India was an indispensable part of the new world-order. Moreover, the practice of Yoga, which he had started in 1902, led him, even while in the thick of intense political and literary activity, to major realizations of the Brahmic Silence, Nirvana, and also of the universal dynamic Presence of the Divine. And, in 1908, when he was in Alipore jail during his trial under the charge of sedition, he received through numerous experiences and realizations the assurance of the liberation of the country and also the knowledge of the initial lines on which his own future work was to proceed. For he saw that even in the field of Yoga something was still lacking, something radical that alone would help resolve the problems of the world and would lead mankind to its next evolutionary stage. And so, in 1910, soon after his acquittal from the jail, he withdrew to Pondicherry to concentrate upon this new research work, to hew a new path. It has been a most dynamic work with the entire earth as its central field. It was in the course of this work that Sri Aurobindo declared that the Supramental is the Truth and that its advent
on the earth is inevitable. To bring down the Supramental consciousness and power on the earth has been the central work of Sri Aurobindo.
Sri Aurobindo has explained the nature of this work, the nature of the Supermind, the necessity of its descent, the process of this descent and the dynamic consequences of this descent for the solutions of the problems of the mankind, in his voluminous writings, most of which were written serially in the philosophical monthly, "Arya", which was started in 1914, immediately after the first arrival of the Mother from France to Pondicherry. Some of the most important of these and other writings are : The Life Divine, The Synthesis of Yoga, The Ideal of Human Unity, The Human Cycle, The Foundations of Indian Culture, Essays on the Gita, On the Veda, The Upanishads, The Future Poetry.
The Mother, Mirra Alfassa, was born in Paris on 21 February 1878 in a very materialistic, well-to-do family. A pupil at the Academie Julian, she completed a thorough education in music, painting and higher mathematics and became an accomplished artist.
Concerning her early spiritual life, the Mother has said: "Between 11 and 13 a series of psychic and spiritual experiences revealed to me not only the existence of God but man's possibility of uniting with Him, of realising Him integrally in consciousness and action, of manifesting Him upon earth in a life divine." Around 1905 the Mother journeyed to Tlemcen, Algeria, where she studied occultism for two years with a Polish or Russian adept, Max Theon, and his wife. Her primary interest, however, was spiritual development. In Paris she founded a group of spiritual seekers and gave talks to various groups.
In 1914 the Mother voyaged to Pondicherry to meet Sri Aurobindo, whom she at once recognised as the one who for many years had inwardly guided her spiritual development. The Mother had already by then attained to the Supramental
Consciousness. Her question was whether the Supermind can descend on the earth. When she put this question to Him, Sri Aurobindo replied: "Yes". And the Mother at once noticed Sri Aurobindo's power of realizing what He willed. It was from that moment that Sri Aurobindo and The Mother joined together in the task of the descent of Supermind on the earth.
After a stay of eleven months, she was obliged to return to France due to the outbreak of the First World War. A year later she went to Japan for a period of four years. In April 1920 the Mother returned to Pondicherry to work with Sri Aurobindo.
In 1926, when Sri Aurobindo entered into a new phase of work for concentration on the work of the Descent of the Supermind on the earth, the Mother collaborated with the task of the descent, and also organized and developed his Ashram.
Under her guidance, which continued for nearly fifty years, the Ashram grew into a large, many-faceted spiritual community.
In 1943, a school for the education of children was founded, and after the passing of Sri Aurobindo in 1950, the Mother developed that school into an International University Centre, where numerous original and bold experiments of education were carried out under Her guidance. This educational work was a part of the Supramental Yoga, and we have rare insights into education and yoga in the volumes entitled Questions and Answers, which contain conversations of the Mother that took place in Her classes. In 1958, the Mother entered into a new phase in order to concentrate on the yoga of the body, and the supramental transformation of the physical consciousness at the cellular level. In 1968, the Mother founded Auroville, an International city as a collective field for the material and spiritual researches required for realizing human unity as a part of the Supramental action on the earth.
The Mother's exploration into the body-consciousness and her discovery of a 'cellular mind' capable of restructuring the nature of the body is contained in a document of more than 6000 pages, published in 13 volumes. This is L'Agenda de Mere (Mother's Agenda), an account of her extraordinary exploration
narrated by the Mother to Satprem (a French disciple) covering a period of more than twenty years, during which the Mother slowly uncovered the 'Great Passage' to the next species by the Supramental transformation of the physical consciousness and fulfilled the work that Sri Aurobindo had given to her, namely, that of fixing Supramental consciousness in the mind of the cells of the material body.
The Mother left her body on 17 November 1973.
Ideals of Human Aspiration are echoed by
the latest dreams of Science
♦ Ideals of Human Aspiration
The earliest formula of Wisdom promises to be its last, — God, Light, Freedom, Immortality.
... To know, possess and be the divine being in an animal and egoistic consciousness, to convert our twilit or obscure physical mentality into the plenary supramental illumination, to build peace and a self-existent bliss where there is only a stress of transitory satisfactions besieged by physical pain and emotional suffering, to establish an infinite freedom in a world which presents itself as a group of mechanical necessities, to discover and realise the immortal life in a body subjected to death and constant mutation,— this is offered to us as the manifestation of God in Matter and the goal of Nature in her terrestrial evolution.i-iv
— Sri Aurobindo
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♦ Ideal Aims that Science is seeking to fulfill
In fact, we do pursue as an ideal, so far as we may, the elimination of all these negative or adverse phenomena. We seek constantly to minimise the causes of error, pain and suffering. Science, as its knowledge increases, dreams of regulating birth and of indefinitely prolonging life, if not of effecting the entire conquest of death. But because we envisage only external or secondary causes, we can only think of removing them to a distance and not of eliminating the actual roots of that against which we struggle. And we are thus limited because we strive towards secondary perceptions and not towards root-knowledge, because we know processes of things, but not their essence. We thus arrive at a more powerful manipulation of circumstances, but not at essential control. But if we could grasp the essential nature and the essential cause of error, suffering and death, we might hope to arrive at a mastery over them which should be not relative but entire. We might hope even to eliminate them altogether and justify the dominant instinct of our nature by the conquest of that absolute good, bliss, knowledge and immortality which our intuitions perceive as the true and ultimate condition of the human
— Sri Aurobindo