He was living in the house that’s now part of the second dormitory, the old Guest House. I climbed up the stairway and he was standing there, waiting for me at the top of the stairs…. EXACTLY my vision! Dressed the same way, in the same position, in profile, his head held high. He turned his head towards me… and I saw in his eyes that it was He. The two things clicked (gesture of instantaneous shock), the inner experience immediately became one with the outer experience and there was a fusion—the decisive shock.
But this was merely the beginning of my vision. Only after a series of experiences—a ten months’ sojourn in Pondicherry, five years of separation, then the return to Pondicherry and the meeting in the same house and in the same way—did the END of the vision occur…. I was standing just beside him. My head wasn’t exactly on his shoulder, but where his shoulder was (I don’t know how to explain it—physically there was hardly any contact). We were standing side by side like that, gazing out through the open window, and then TOGETHER, at exactly the same moment, we felt, ‘Now the Realization will be accomplished.’ That the seal was set and the Realization would be accomplished. I felt the Thing descending massively within me, with the same certainty I had felt in my vision. From that moment on there was nothing to say—no words, nothing. We knew it was THAT.
The Mother, Mother's Agenda — 1961: December 20, 1961
The next day also they met, and that is also very interesting. I’ll read out to you:
He was sitting there on the verandah. There was a table in front of him, and Richard was on the other side facing him. They began talking. Myself, I was seated at his feet, very small, with the table just in front of me—it came to my forehead, which gave me a little protection … I didn’t say anything, I didn’t think anything, try anything, want anything—I merely sat near him. When I stood up half an hour later, he had put silence in my head, that’s all, without my even having asked him—perhaps even without his trying.
Oh, I had tried—for years I had tried to catch silence in my head … I never succeeded. I could detach myself from it, but it would keep on turning … But at that moment, all the mental constructions, all the mental, speculative structures … none of it remained—a big hole.
And such a peaceful, such a luminous hole!
Afterwards, I kept very still so as not to disturb it. I didn’t speak, above all I refrained from thinking and held it, held it tight against me—I said to myself, ‘make it last, make it last, make it last …’
Later on, I heard Sri Aurobindo saying that there were two people here to whom he had done this and as soon as there was silence, they panicked: ‘My God, I’ve gone stupid!!’ And they threw it all overboard by starting to think again.
Once it was done, it was done. It was well-rooted.
For years, from 1912 to 1914, I did endless exercises, all kinds of things, even pranayama—if it would only shut up! Really, if it would only be quiet! … I was able to go out (that wasn’t difficult), but inside it kept turning.
This lasted about half an hour. I quietly remained there—I heard the noise of their conversation, but I wasn’t listening. And then when I got up, I no longer knew anything, I no longer thought anything, I no longer had any mental construction—everything was gone, absolutely gone, blank!—as if I had just been born.
The Mother, Mother's Agenda — 1951-1960: September 20, 1960
This is her second experience, but the first day when she had this experience she had written.
He whom we saw yesterday is on the earth and his very presence proved the thousands of men who live in ignorance but because of his presence the divine advent is certain.
This was her experience when she met Sri Aurobindo for the first time. And then, of course, during that time they lived for a year from March 14th, and it was at that time that a decision was taken; in fact it was taken because of Mother’s prayer to Sri Aurobindo. And her prayer to Sri Aurobindo was that the sea of knowledge which was pouring on him should be brought out and given to the world. So it was in answer to that prayer that Sri Aurobindo agreed, and then they decided to start a monthly journal that is called the Arya, and this is a most momentous period of the history of the world.
On the 15th of august, 1914 was the first issue of Arya. It was not ordinary; it was about 60 pages to be published, to be brought out and of what high level. But then, when the war broke out, then there was a need for Richard and the Mother to return to France, for all the citizens of France were required to come back, to make part of the war effort, so both of them had to go, so they left. But then this was launched already. So Sri Aurobindo said that the promise of collaborating in that work collapsed and only he was left to fill all the sixty pages of the Arya, all alone.
Now, what was the program of this writing because this was an extremely important work. You have to remember that in 1907, when Sri Aurobindo met Lele, in those three days he had meditation in which his mind had become completely silent, from that day onwards he did not think. Now to write 60 pages and no thought at all this was the biggest attempt in world history and it continued on and on and on because, as Sri Aurobindo says, all that he wrote was not from the mind at all, it was all from the silent mind, everything was pouring down. Now how that must be happening, one can only think but it surpasses our understanding. There have been people who, in a certain state of consciousness they hear and were revealed to the world, but this steady light pouring constantly in writing what? If anybody reads Life Divine, it is one of the books that he wrote through Arya. These thousand pages of hard philosophy and all argumentation, which nobody can do that kind of argument without thinking and to see that kind of exposition, and the widest and the largest philosophical system that the world has ever seen that system he expounded in the pages of the Arya, that was one, but that is not enough. He wrote seven books simultaneously. This is another miracle, to write one such book, itself would have been a miracle but to write seven books at the same time, each on a different subject. It is as if somebody was playing on a thousand tuned orchestra simultaneously and without any pre-planning and all the time automatically, as it were being played and relayed.
Now, what was the other book? The other book was Upanishad, the two commentaries he has written, one on Ishopanishad and the other on Kenopanishad. They are masterpieces of interpretation of the Upanishads. In fact, both these commentaries explain all the Upanishads basically, and that is a remarkable act of exegesis. Life divine is an original interpretation of the whole world's system of philosophy in which east and west both meet together in a grand symphony. This was exegesis, interpretation and all the canons of interpretation were completely, thoroughly determined and followed because you cannot interpret a book or any text, without fulfilling the canons of interpretation, you cannot say I feel like this or if you like, that, you have to apply certain standards of interpretation. It is these standards of interpretations you apply and if you read even today, you find all of them completely fulfilled and systematically, methodically. In all the works of Sri Aurobindo one of the most important thing is method. He gave a great importance to method and methods means that there is a system and a principle of the system and the steps of the system and all of them have to be fully satisfied?
The other one was the Veda, Secret of the Veda. Now anybody who has read even a little bit of Veda will realise that this is the one work which it is impossible to understand. Here Sri Aurobindo was bringing out a new interpretation of the Veda, a secret knowledge which was lost soon after the period of the Upanishads, slightly recovered in the Gita by Shri Krishna, when he says that all this was lost and I am now giving you again. So it was not as if Sri Aurobindo maintained that the Vedic knowledge was lost. Whereas in the Gita, the big authority says that knowledge was lost when Shri Krishna himself narrated some portion of what was the meaning of that Veda but even that what he has written, what is in the Gita does not quote anything from the Veda it is simply a kind of a restatement of some of the basic ideas, whereas here it is a real exegesis, a real interpretation, starting from the very a,b,c as it were, starting from the first steps of the Veda. The secret of the Veda is one of the most remarkable works in the history of the world. Starting from the very first hymn of the Rig-Veda, starting from the agni and the truth. What is the meaning of agni, what is the meaning of truth, as given in the Veda and then started right up to the Parashara's doctrine of immortality and all the aspects of Vedic knowledge expounded so authoritatively and so persuasively? What he says is that I am only putting the hypothesis. A scientist when he proves a hypothesis, a hypothesis is still to be proved further, it’s only an exposition of the hypothesis. And he says if I were to prove the hypothesis, I should interpret every verse of the Rig Veda which he had no time at that time, to do it, but later on, he translated in the same series, (between 1914 to 1921) Hymns to Mystic Fire. All these hymns, addressed to Agni in the Rig-Veda, were all brought out. It’s a wonderful translation of all the hymns which testify to the hypothesis that he had put forward and later on he translated many other hymns so now it is no more a hypothesis. If anybody now reads all that he has written on the Veda, it is a proof that was really the secret of the Veda. So all this work was finished by 1921 when Arya came to an end, but all this was going on simultaneously with the writing of The Life Divine.
Then there was Essays on the Gita. This is the book, which is read by many people. It is such an extraordinary interpretation of the Gita that it brings out when you read the Essays on the Gita, you feel as if Shri Krishna tells himself ‒ this is what I mean. This is what I mean. This is what I mean; it is that much revelatory as if you hear Shri Krishna himself saying this is what I meant when I said these words. This is his interpretation of the Essays on the Gita.
Then another work that he wrote during this period was The Future Poetry. It’s a completely different subject altogether. The Future Poetry is actually interpretation of what is poetry, what is the meaning of poetry? What is a specific vision of poetry? What is the imagery in poetry, style of poetry, vision in poetry, and then not only philosophy of poetry but exposition of this philosophy through an example of the entire history of English poetry, right from Chaucer the first poet of English poetry, up to the present day, up to Whitman in fact, a complete analysis of the course of English poetry, a masterly interpretation. When you read his comments on Shakespeare, for example, you can feel that Shakespeare himself is commenting upon himself. Even Shakespeare would not have understood what Sri Aurobindo understood of him. When Sri Aurobindo says: ‘Shakespeare was a life itself, pouring out itself through his poetry, life itself’. It is not as if Shakespeare was thinking and writing poetry. It was a life force which was churning in him and pouring it out and writing poetry. And then he has interpreted Shelley and Keats, and Byron and Wordsworth and then right up to Yeats and Tagore right up to Whitman. It’s a wonderful interpretation and mind you he had no library around him to say now Byron poem here, Shelley’s poem here, not at all. When you read, it's an amazing phenomenal feat of consciousness; it's a direct proof of supramental consciousness at work, it’s a proof. How do you know that supramental consciousness is working? because of the fact there was no library around him and he was quoting poems after poems he was quoting and foreign and when he speaks of Milton, for example, in his Future Poetry, he is a marvel. When he speaks of Wordsworth, even the poems that he has taken and quoted is a masterly exposition of Wordsworth and so on. So this is another domain all together and mind you all this being written simultaneously.
Another book he wrote at the same time is The Foundations of Indian Culture. Now this work by any standard is a superb interpretation of the entire history of India. It deals with the question of what is civilization, what is culture, in what sense India has been one of the greatest cultures of the world ever born, developed, flourished and which is still alive and a complete interpretation of the history of India therefore, incidentally. It also contains Sri Aurobindo's interpretation of Indian religion right from the Veda to the present day, including Arya Samaj and Brahmosamaj, and all the Samajas right up to this point, right from the Veda.
The interpretation of Indian spirituality, interpretation of Indian art, Indian sculpture, Indian painting, Indian architecture, all this knowledge himself, you are amazed to see Sri Aurobindo writing on Indian architecture, how much knowledge of architecture and authentic knowledge and again, there are no books around him. He is giving illustrations of architectural designs of the whole Indian temples, and many other architecture, even his statement on Taj Mahal, it’s a marvellous statement on Taj Mahal. And similarly, an interpretation of Indian literature, again from the Vedic period right up to the present day after Tagore and so on, right up to the present day Indian literature and then Indian polity. Indian polity is a masterly exposition of how Indian polity started in the Vedic times. What were the fundamental problems of India? Why India did not achieve political unity for such a long time, even though culturally it was achieved and the present problem of Indian polity and how the future polity of India can be developed. And this was supplemented later on by Essays on Indian Renaissance, which brings up right up to here, where Dr Dutta is talking of the Resurgence of India because residents of India we were part of that Indian renaissance, in fact, and without the Indian renaissance, the resurgence of India would be an impossible task. So this is another side altogether.
Then we wrote a book called The Human Cycle. The Human Cycle began with a commentary upon sociology of Lamprecht, a German sociologist who wrote a book on Interpretation of Sociological Development of Mankind and he divided the history of society in the world history under five special periods, the symbolic age, the typal age, conventional age, rationalistic Age and spiritual age. According to Lamprecht, every society which begins with these steps and Sri Aurobindo found in it a very important grain of truth, therefore, he took it out and expounded his own theory of sociology in this Human Cycle, leading right up to his vision of the future society ‒ spiritualized society. This is one book, when I read it for the first time, it was a great revolution in my mind and bombarded all the ideas of social development and established in my mind at least a vision which alone can explain what is happening in the world today and how the world can move forward. Therefore, Human Cycle is one of the greatest, rarest books in world history and that also he wrote simultaneously at this time.
He wrote another book at the same time, called The Ideal of Human Unity. The Ideal of Human Unity is an interpretation of history of the world that was sociology of the world history that is the development of society, whereas this book is the history of political thought, history of political development of mankind and once again such a masterly exposition of the idea of the state, idea of centralization, the idea of decentralisation, various kinds of constitutions and the ideal of constitution and the possibility of world union and what form the world union would take if it has to be established on a permanent basis and a secure basis ‒ whole vision. And then simultaneously, he was also writing from time to time several other essays and many of these are now to be found in volume number, 16 and 17 of The Collected Works of Sri Aurobindo, The Hour of God and The Supramental Manifestation on the Earth. But the last one The Supramental Manifestation on the Earth was written by him much later but all the other ones which are there in that book were written during this period.
He was writing at the same time many other things which were not even published, for example, he wrote a drama called Vasavadatta, in eight days time. He had written the beginning of the drama and the end of the drama, so we know it was done in eight days' time, ‒ whole of the drama called Vasavadatta. It’s a beautiful story of Udayana Vatsa and Vasavadatta and how the father of Vasavadatta wanted to conquer Udayana’s kingdom not by fight by but by enslaving him, inviting him and using his daughter to snare him and daughter was a willing servant of her father and wanted to snare Udayana and wanted to imprison him in the bargain she herself got imprisoned by him, and that was a romantic story and the whole story is a beautiful drama that he has written, it's a marvellous story.
Now all of this was being written by Sri Aurobindo from 1914 to 1921 and all alone, sixty pages every month to be written. It is something herculean, more than herculean. All this was done when the Mother was not there.
In 1920 Mother came back and in 1921 a new work started. When Mother came back and then began to occupy more and more time therefore, although Arya was running financially very well, it had to be terminated. 1920 to 1926, these six years Sri Aurobindo and the Mother prepared new ground for a new world. Now to understand these six years for hardly anything is known basically as to what happened during these six years. But to understand what was happening we must remember that by the time Mother came in 1914, Mother also had already reached the supermind. So we must speak about the supermind, because without understanding this supermind life of Sri Aurobindo and the Mother however, it would be impossible to understand. Sri Aurobindo has written on the supermind a great deal first of all in The Life Divine.