INDIAN COUNCIL OF PHILOSOPHICAL RESEARCH
in association with
AUROVILLE FOUNDATION CENTRE FOR STUDIES IN CIVILIZATIONS, NEW DELHI
INDIAN INSTITUTE OF ADVANCED STUDY, SHIMLA
SRI AUROBINDO AND THE MOTHER: YOGA OF EVOLUTION
Chairman Indian Council of Philosophical Research, New Delhi
18-23 FEBRUARY 2004
There is a close connection between evolution and yoga; it may even be said that the evolutionary process is basically a yogic process and that yoga is the conscious application of the processes of evolution and principles underlying those processes in order to accelerate the process of natural evolution. However, Yoga and its processes leave behind the ordinary tardy method of slow and confused growth through the evolution of Nature. As Sri Aurobindo points out: “The natural evolution is at its best an uncertain growth under cover, partly by the pressure of the environment, partly by a groping education, and an ill-lighted purposeful effort, an only partially illumined and half-automatic use of opportunities with many blunders and lapses and relapses; a great portion of it is made up of apparent accidents and circumstances and vicissitudes – though veiling a secret intervention and divine guidance. In yoga we replace this confused, crooked crab-motion by a rapid, conscious and self-directed evolution which is planned to carry us, as far as can be, in a straight line towards the goal set before us.”
There are, according to Sri Aurobindo, three stages in the process of evolution. An involution of the spirit in the inconscience is the beginning. Evolution in the ignorance with its play of possibilities of a partial developing knowledge is the middle. A consummation in a deployment of the spirit’s self-knowledge and self-power of its divine being and consciousness is the culmination. It is admitted that the two stages that have already occurred seem at first sight to deny the possibility of the later consummating state of the cycle, but it is stressed that logically they imply its emergence. For, it is argued, if the inconscience has evolved consciousness, the partial consciousness already reached must surely evolve into complete consciousness. It is contended that it is a supramentalised, perfected and divinised life for which the earth-nature is secretly seeking, and that a progressive manifestation of this kind can only have for its secret of significance the evolution of a Being in a perfect Becoming.
These three stages of evolution and the processes that can be observed in these stages can provide with us with a clue as to how the processes of evolution can be applied scientifically on the evolutionary process itself. This scientific application is the central principle of yoga.
 Sri Aurobindo: The Synthesis of Yoga, Vol. 18, Centenary Edition, p.83
For the development of yoga depends on a scrupulous examination of the level at which evolution has reached in our present human consciousness and whether the psychological workings of the human being can be so handled that the causes of the slowness of the natural functionings can be eliminated for purposes of introducing into the evolutionary process those principles and methods which would facilitate its hastening. Yoga, as Swami Vivekananda has said, may be regarded as a means of compressing one’s evolution into a single life or a few years or even a few months of the bodily existence.
In this light, yoga no more remains as something mystic or abnormal which has no relation to the ordinary processes of the World-Energy or the purpose she keeps in view in her subjective and objective self-fulfilment. Yoga reveals itself rather as an intense and exceptional use of the powers that Nature has already manifested or is progressively organising in her less exalted but more general operations. As Sri Aurobindo points out, “Yogic methods have something of the same relation to the customary psychological workings of man as the scientific handling of the natural force of electricity or of steam to the normal operations of steam and of electricity. And they, too, are formed upon a knowledge developed and confirmed by regular experiment, practical analysis and constant result.”
In this light, all natural evolution and life is subconscious yoga, and all life can become in the human being a conscious yoga, co-terminus with life itself, so that one can say in a more perfect and luminous sense: “All life is yoga.”
The integral yoga that Sri Aurobindo and The Mother have proposed is thus a yoga of evolution, based on the perception that the human being is a transitional being and that the contemporary crisis through which humanity is passing today can be resolved only through even a farther evolution that could eventually bring about mutation of the human species. This Yoga has been developed by their experimentation carried on day after day for years and decades, so as to perfect it for purposes of the supramental manifestation on the earth. If we study the life and work of Sri Aurobindo and The Mother, we shall see that prior to their first meeting on 29th March 1914, both of them had a vast and laborious period of preparation. From that momentous date, when The Mother came from France to India and met Sri Aurobindo, they consecrated themselves entirely to the task of discovering the most effective means of meeting what seemed to be insuperable obstacles that the contemporary
 Ibid., p.3
crisis presented. From that day, they began to prepare new conditions on the earth so that humanity could not only survive the crisis but also arrive at the fulfilment of the deepest aspirations for lasting peace, unity and harmony.
Both Sri Aurobindo and The Mother insisted on the scientific rigour with which research and experimental work needed to be conducted. They required, therefore, a laboratory, a laboratory where experimentation could be carried on for human evolution through the yoga of evolution towards the eventual transformation that would be needed to lift humanity towards its highest possible development and its eventual mutation into a new humanity or superhumanity.
They created the needed laboratory, at Pondciherry, which came to be known as the Sri Aurobindo Ashram from 1926 onwards, and it became a place of an unprecedented experiment in evolution. To this laboratory came men and women, who offered themselves to undergo a process of active support and collaboration and to respond to the evolutionary and yogic demands of the experiment under the constant guidance of Sri Aurobindo and The Mother. Outwardly, this laboratory provided to each one a specific work that would be suitable to the integral development of personality. Inwardly, this work provided to each one the maximum challenge of the difficulties which have to be overcome and thoroughly replaced by a new consciousness of mutuality, goodwill and harmony. Each individual came with his or her possibilities but also with the obstinate difficulties of the un-regenerate nature. This laboratory, its work and its history, reveals a continuous burning of the fire of aspiration and a continuous movement of achievements. When the work reached a certain point of achievement, it was decided to expand the work of the laboratory so as to include the task of educating children in a new way so that right from early stages of formation, they would breathe the atmosphere of the yoga of evolution, the yoga of universal peace and harmony and the yoga of the ideal of perfection. This nucleus of children and teachers is what came to be known in 1959 as the Sri Aurobindo International Centre of Education.
In the meantime, in 1950, Sri Aurobindo left his body, purposely and deliberately, as a strategic means of hastening the process of the yoga of evolution. In 1956, the work reached a culminating point when the Supermind descended on the earth and began to manifest. The Mother’s supreme majesty, power and force are manifest in the declaration that She made of that momentous event. She described this event in the following text:
This evening the Divine Presence, concrete and material, was there present amongst you. I had a form of living gold, bigger than the universe, and I was facing a huge and massive golden door which separated the world from the Divine.
As I looked at the door, I knew and willed, in a single movement of consciousness, that “THE TIME HAS COME”, and lifting with both hands a mighty golden hammer I struck one blow, one single blow on the door and the door was shattered to pieces.
Then the supramental Light and Force and Consciousness rushed down upon earth in an uninterrupted flow.”
On 3rd February 1958, The Mother had a radical experience, with reference to which, she made a long statement, in which she said:
“The supramental world exists in a permanent way, and I am there permanently in a supramental body. … I now know that for the two worlds to join in a constant and conscious relationship what is missing is an intermediate zone between the existing physical world and the supramental world as it exists. This zone has yet to be built, both in the individual consciousness and in the objective world and it is being built. …”
Towards the end of 1958, The Mother came to a precision and formulated the central question that she was exploring: “”How does one FIX the supermind in the body?”
Then on July 24, 1959, she had a radical experience, in respect of which she stated:
“For the first time the supramental light entered directly into my body, without passing through the inner beings. It entered through the feet (a red and gold colour – marvellous, warm, intense) and it climbed up and up. And as it climbed, the fever also climbed because the body was not accustomed to this intensity. As all this light neared the head, I thought I will burst and that the experience would have to be stopped. But then, I very clearly received the indication to make the Calm and Peace descend,
to widen all this body-consciousness and all these cells, so that they could contain the supramental light. So I widened, and as the light was ascending, I brought down the vastness and an unshakeable peace. And suddenly, there was a second of fainting.
I found myself in another world, but not far away (I was not in a total trance). And this world was almost as substantial as the physical world. There were rooms – Sri Aurobindo’s room with the bed he rests on – and he was living there, he was there all the time: it was his abode. …
And Sri Aurobindo was there, with a majesty, a magnificient beauty. He had all his beautiful hair as before. It was also concrete, so substantial – he was even being served some kind of food. I remained there for one hour… I spoke to Sri Aurobindo, for I had some important questions to ask him about the way certain things are to be realised. He said nothing. He listened to me quietly and looked at me as if all my words were useless: he understood everything at once. …
I remained in that state for two full days, two days of absolute felicity. And Sri Aurobindo was with me for the whole time, the whole time – when I walked, he walked with me, when I sat down, he sat next to me. …
Sri Aurobindo gave me two days of this – total bliss. But all the same, by the end of the second day I realised that I could not continue to remain there, for the work was not advancing. The work must be done in the body; the realisation must be attained here in this physical world, for otherwise it is not complete. So I withdrew from that world and set to work here again.”
In the psychological system, which has been developed by Sri Aurobindo and The Mother, there are, in the physical, several distinguishable elements: the gross physical, the subtle physical, the physical mind and the cellular mind. The gross physical is what we see with our physical eyes and what we touch and perceive with our physical senses. The subtle physical is what lies behind our gross physical – that which Mother has described in her experience of Sri Aurobindo in his abode of the subtle physical. The physical mind is that part of our mentality which is entirely at the service of the physical, which is rooted in the physical, which makes our perception of sensations possible. It is also called mental-physical, since it is the mind that sub-serves the physical, and it is as mechanical and repetitive as the physical. The cellular mind is the mind of the cells, the mind which is overtly active in the animals, but which has been overlaid in our human psychology by the physical
 Ibid., pp.327-9
mind. The physical mind, as a product of evolution, evolved in Matter under the pressures of difficulties, even, of suffering; hence, there is in it an imprint of pessimism and defeatism, which is the greatest obstacle in the task of fixing the supramental consciousness in the body. The physical mind is like a layer on the mind of the cells, it covers up the normal dumb occult consciousness of the cellular mind; the cellular mind, too, under the magic spell of the physical mind betrays a reflected pessimism. But as The Mother discovered, pessimism and the resultant illness, disease or death do not form a normal part of the mind of the cells.
This was a major discovery, paving the way for FIXING the supermind in matter. If the activities of the physical mind can be clarified, controlled, mastered, silenced, and if the mind of the cells can be allowed to function in its purity without being overlaid by the magic spell of the physical mind, and if the mind of the cells can receive and fix the supramental vibrations, a new rhythm of supramental functioning in the body can be established. The cellular mind is, in fact, a link between the purely material substance and the physical mind, and it is the real fixer. Under the influence of the physical mind, it fixes in its movement the repetitive operation of pessimism and of defeatism; but if – and it is here that the repetition of the mantra finds its justification in the yogic process – a new vibration is applied in the cellular mind, it will fix that new vibration.
The Mother’s experiences, after the 29th February 1956, related increasingly to the physical mind and to her experiences of fixing the Supermind in the mind of the cells and in the body-consciousness and of the transformation of the body. After 1959, The Mother met Sri Aurobindo daily in the subtle physical. Her discoveries were momentous, particularly in regard to the nature and origin of Pain and Death. Gradually, she was building a new body – material body – of the supramental light and power. And this entire field of experiences and discoveries was like a virgin forest, and it was in this forest that The Mother hewed a path and a curve of development. There were experiences from day to day, from hour to hour, and many of them have been recorded in the volumes of The Mother’s Agenda.
Between 1959 and 1968, three simultaneous and interrelated processes were going on in The Mother’s body. Firstly, there was a progressive dissolution of the inconscience at its utmost bottom. Secondly, there was infiltration, permeation and invasion of the Supermind in the cellular consciousness and in the physical consciousness so as to counteract Falsehoods in Matter, Life and Mind. Thirdly, there was the gradual transformation of the body by means of the collaboration and change of the physical and cellular mind and by means of radical changes in
various functionings of organs and faculties. At the collective level, too, some radical changes were appearing in the functioning of the Ashram. The Mother was placing individuals more and more into conditions where synthesis, unity and harmony would become imperative. A greater and greater stress was laid on the creation of collective consciousness.
Already we find, in the Agenda of 1961, certain indications of the idea of an ideal city which could be a habitation of a collective life and which could serve as the embryo or seed of the future supramental world. In the words of The Mother:
“What I myself have seen … was a plan that came complete in all details, but that does not at all conform in spirit and consciousness with what is possible on earth now (although, in its most material manifestation, the plan was based on existing terrestrial conditions). It was an idea of an ideal city, nucleus of a small ideal country, having only superficial, extremely limited contacts with the old world. One would already have to conceive (it is possible) of a power sufficient to be at once a protection against aggression or bad will (this would not be the most difficult protection to provide) and a protection (which can just barely be imagined) against infiltration and admixture… From the social or organisational standpoint, these problems are not difficult, nor from the standpoint of inner life; the problem is the relationship with what is not supramentalised – preventing infiltration or admixture, keeping the nucleus from falling back into an inferior creation during the transitional period.”
She added: “The realisation under community or group conditions would clearly be far more complete, integral, total and probably more perfect than any individual realisation, which is always, necessarily – necessarily – extremely limited on the external material level, because it is only one way of being, one mode of manifestation, one microscopic set of vibrations that is touched.”
In due course, something of the idea of an ideal city began to take shape. In 1968, she found the world preparing itself to permit the launching upon a crucial experiment in the task of the realisation of human unity. And she inaugurated a new laboratory for conducting this experiment. This laboratory has been named by her “Auroville”. On February 28, 1968, at the time of the inauguration, she announced the Charter for Auroville through which she gave Auroville to humanity as a whole and called upon people wishing to come to Auroville to consecrate themselves
to unending education, constant progress, and to the material and spiritual researches for a living embodiment of an actual human unity.
UNESCO welcomed this laboratory, which was designed for the meeting of the East and the West, and it declared its support, through several resolutions of its General Conference, to the aims and objectives of Auroville. With the founding of this township, doors were opened to the entire humankind to participate in the unique experiment initiated and developed by Sri Aurobindo and The Mother.
While Auroville continued to grow, the experiences and realisations of the momentous process of the supramental manifestation continued to follow its inevitable march.
On the 1st January 1969, The Mother had an experience of “new consciousness”, which was later on described by her as the consciousness of the superman, an intermediate between the human and the supramental being. Speaking of this, Mother said:
“It was luminous, smiling, and so benevolent, BECAUSE OF POWER; I mean to say that kindness, in human beings, is generally rather weak, in the sense that it does not like to fight, it does not like to struggle; but it is not that at all. A benevolence which imposes itself. …
It interested me because it was totally new. And so concrete! Concrete like that … like what, usually, the physical consciousness considers as “the others,” concrete like that. It means that it did not pass through some inner being, through the psychic being, it came DIRECTLY to the body.”
The advent of this New Consciousness may be regarded as a crucial development of The Mother’s yoga of the Body. Indeed, this consciousness was a superman consciousness working through The Mother’s body, – a body, human in origin but thoroughly purified and refined, right up to the cellular level and thus capable of the operations of the Supermind – directly in the physical body.
It is true that the entire physical body was not yet fully transformed, but it was yet a vehicle in which the subtle physical was so much supramentalised that its real matter – which The Mother had described as something much more dense and compact and plastic than the gross physical that we see – could manifest, operate and produce results in and through the outer body.
 Mother’s Agenda, Vol. 10, 4.1.1969
In the beginning of 1970, The Mother spoke of the replacement of knowledge-processes in her body by a new perception which was total, something that comprehended at the same time hearing, vision, and knowledge. There was, she said, no differentiation among her organs. She pointed out that new consciousness insisted on surpassing all divisions and all exclusiveness, including the great division of life and death. The Mother discovered “over-life” which is at once life and death, or which is rather something that cannot be described either as life or as death but some other third state in which contradiction between life and death is overcome.
On 14 March 1970, The Mother spoke to Satprem, during which she made a momentous statement that the work that Sri Aurobindo had given to her was accomplished. Speaking of this accomplishment of the work, she said:
“Previously, those who had inner experiences used to say: `Yes, up there it is like that, but here…’ Now the `but here’ soon will not be any more. We are making the conquest of that, that formidable change: that the physical life must be directed by the superior-consciousness and not by the mental world. It is the change of the authority … it is difficult. It is laborious. It is painful. Naturally, there will be some damage, but … But really, one can see – one can see. And that is the REAL CHANGE. That’s what will allow new Consciousness to express itself. And the body learns – it learns its lesson – all the bodies, all the bodies. …
Obviously, it will take time for it to be truly established. There, it is the battle. From all sides, on every plane, there is an assault of things from the outside which come to say: `Nothing has changed’ – but it is not true, it not true, the body knows that it is not true. And now it knows, it knows in which sense. …
And now I see, I see how his (Sri Aurobindo’s) departure and his work so… so immense, indeed, so constant, in this subtle physical, how much, how much it has helped! How he has (Mother makes a gesture of triturating matter), how much he has helped to prepare things, to change the structure of the physical.
All the experiences that others had had, those of entering into contact with superior-worlds, they left the physical here as it is. (How to say?) From the beginning of existence until Sri Aurobindo’s departure, I was in the consciousness that one can climb up, one can know, one can have all
the experiences (in fact, one had them), but when one came in the body, … it was these old for-mi-da-ble mental laws which governed everything. And then, all these years have been years to prepare – to prepare – to free oneself and to prepare --, and these last days, it was … ah! The PHYSICAL confirmation, made by the body, that it had changed.
It must be “worked out” as one says, it has to be realised in all details, but the change IS DONE – the change is done. …
The physical is CAPABLE of receiving the Superior Light, the Truth, the true Consciousness and to ma-ni-fest it.
It took … a little more than one year for this consciousness to WIN this victory. And yet, naturally, it is visible only to those who have inner vision, but … but it is done.
This was that, the work that Sri Aurobindo had given to me. Now, I understand.
It seems … it seems like a miracle in the body. …
And everything becomes clear.
We shall see. …”
The Mother reiterated, during her conversation with Satprem on 29.4.1970, that the object to be accomplished was the change in the physical consciousness, that the change in the physical appearance was a secondary consequence, and that would be the last thing to change. She said emphatically, that the thing that had to be accomplished was accomplished. In her own words:
“… We believe that this, this appearance (Mother refers to her body), this is … this appears to be for the ordinary consciousness the most
 Mother’s Agenda: Vol. 11, 14.3.1970
important – it is evidently the last thing that will change. And it appears, for the ordinary consciousness that it will be the last thing to change because it is the most important: it will be the surest sign. But it is not that at all! … It is not that at all.
It is this change IN THE CONSCIOUSNESS, -- which has been produced, -- which is the most important thing. All the rest they are consequences. And here, in this world, this material world, this appears to us to be the most important because it is … it is all upside down, I do not know how to explain.
For us, when this (the body) will be visibly something different from what it is, one will say “Ah! Now thing is done.” This is not true: the thing IS DONE. This (the body), is a secondary consequence…”
As a result of this victory, The Mother was moving forward towards the change even of the gross physical, so as to manifest a new divine body. But this was the evolutionary adventure, and, as she said on 7th April, 1973, in a conversation with Satprem:
“Sometimes I wonder, “Does the Lord want me to leave?” I am quite … quite willing, you know, so that’s not the point; but does He want me to stay? ... No answer. No answer, except “Transformation”. And that is …”
The Mother had two visions of her “new body”. On 24th March 1972, while describing her second vision, She said:
“Yes, I WAS like that. It was me; I didn’t look at myself in a mirror, I say myself like this (Mother bends her head to look at her body), I was … I just was like that.
… It was around four in the morning, I think. And perfectly natural – I mean, I didn’t look in a mirror, it felt perfectly natural. I only remember what I saw (gesture from the chest to the waist). I was covered only with veils, so I only saw … What was very different was the torso, from the chest to the waist: it was neither male nor female.
But it was lovely, my form was extremely svelte and slim – slim but not thin. And the skin was very white, just like my skin. A lovely form. And no sex – you couldn’t tell: neither male nor female. The sex had disappeared.
The same here (Mother points to her chest), all that was flat. I don’t know how to explain it. There was an outline reminiscent of what is now, but with no forms (Mother touches her chest), not even as much as man’s. A very white skin, very smooth. Practically no abdomen to speak of. And no stomach. All that was slim.
I didn’t pay any special attention, you see, because I was that: it felt perfectly natural to me …
But this form is in the subtle physical, isn’t it?
It must be already like that in the subtle physical.
But how will it pass into the physical?
That’s the question I don’t know. … I don’t know.
I don’t know.
Also, clearly, there was none of the complex digestion we have now, or the kind of elimination we have now. It didn’t work that way.
But how? … Food is already obviously very different and becoming more and more so – glucose, for instance, or substances that don’t require an elaborate digestion. But how will the body itself change? … That I don’t know. I don’t know.
You see, I didn’t look to see how it worked, for it was completely natural to me, so I can’t describe it in detail. Simply, it was neither a woman’s body nor a man’s – that much is certain. And the outline was fairly similar to that of a very young person. There was a faint suggestion of a human form (Mother draws a form in the air): with a shoulder and a waist. Just a hint of it.
I see it but.… I saw it exactly as you see yourself, I didn’t even look at myself in the mirror. And I had a sort of veil, which I wore to cover myself.
It was my way of being (there was nothing surprising in it), my natural way of being.
That must be how it is in the subtle physical.
But what’s mysterious is the transition from one to the other.
Yes – how?
But it’s the same mystery as the transition from chimpanzee to man.
Oh, no, Mother! It’s more colossal than that! It’s more colossal for, after all, there isn’t that much difference between a chimpanzee and a man.
But there wasn’t such a difference in the appearance either (Mother draws a form in the air): there were shoulders, arms, legs, a body, a waist. Similar to ours. There was only….
Yes, but I mean the way a chimpanzee functions and the way a man functions are the same.
They are the same.
Well, yes! They digest the same, breath the same….
No, but here too there must have been breathing. The shoulders were strikingly broad (gesture), in contrast. That’s important. But the chest was neither feminine nor even masculine: only reminiscent of it. and all that – stomach, abdomen and the rest – was simply an outline, a very slender and harmonious form, which certainly wasn’t used for the purpose we now use our bodies.
The two different things – totally different – were procreation, which was no longer possible, and food. Though even our present food is manifestly not the same as that of chimpanzees or even the first humans; it’s quite different. So now, it seems we have to find a food that doesn’t require all this digesting…. Not exactly liquid, but not solid either.
And there’s also the question of the mouth – I don’t know about that – and the teeth? Naturally, chewing should no longer be necessary, and therefore teeth wouldn’t be either … But there has to be something to replace them. I haven’t the slightest idea what the face looked like. But it didn’t seem too, too unlike what it is now.
What will change a great deal, of course – it had acquired a prominent role – is breathing. That being depended much on it.
Yes, he probably absorbs energies directly.
Yes. There will probably be intermediary beings who won’t last, you see, just as there were intermediary beings between the chimpanzee and man.
But I don’t know, something has to happen that has never before happened.”
Indeed, Mother’s consciousness was clearer and greater than ever. She was the seer par excellence. She was living with a new mode of being that was turned exclusively towards the Divine with complete self-effacement right up to the cells in utter surrender. And yet, she had all the dynamism of a hero-warrior engaged in the battle to fight all that resisted or obstructed the effort to bring about the rule of the divine supermind on the earth. On November 14, 1973, at midnight, she began to feel that she might get paralysed. She asked to walk. She said: `I want to walk, otherwise I’ll become paralysed.’ She held on to the arm of one of the attendants and walked… until she turned blue.
During the next days, she would ask to be lifted from her chaise longue. On the night of November 16, she again asked to walk: `I want to walk,’ she said. She continued to fight till the very end. On the afternoon of the 17th, the signs of choking grew worse. At 7.10 p.m. her doctor massaged her heart. At 7.25 p.m. her breathing stopped.
Such is the account we can make, extremely briefly, of the one who had attained that victory, which consisted of the supramental change in the physical consciousness. We may say that as a result of this victory, a new supramental body was already built, – the body that could be visible to the inner vision which can see a new Matter that is more dense than subtle physical and yet less dense than the gross physical that we can see and touch with our gross physical eyes and gross physical tactile sensation. The body that stopped breathing was only that gross body which had been used as a pedestal for that new supramental body, which is at work and which is carrying on the yoga of evolution, for the multiplication of the intermediate bodies that need to appear as a transition between the human body and the divine body.
 Mother’s Agenda, Vol. 13, pp. 98-100