THE MOTHER: HER LIFE AND WORK
(A Brief Outline)
The Mother (Mirra Alfassa) was born in Paris on the 21st February, 1878. Her mother was Egyptian and her father was Turkish - both of them were perfect materialists. As a result, although she had inner experiences, including that of the divine presence, right from her childhood, she was in her external life an atheist until she entered into adulthood. In her early years, she had a good grounding in music (piano), painting and higher mathematics.
By the age of eighteen, she had begun to feel an intense need to KNOW, but all that she learnt and studied would explain nothing. Her need to know led her into two directions. The first was the world of painting. She mingled with the artists and widened her horizons. She married a pupil of Gustave Moreau, Henri Morisset, and she came to know Rodin and the great impressionists of that era. The second direction in which she turned was opened up when she heard of Max Theon and his teachings.
At this stage, she had a series of visions, and in several of these visions she saw Sri Aurobindo just as he looked physically, but glorified. She was to meet Sri Aurobindo ten years later in 1914 when she came to India from France, and it was then that she came to identify Sri Aurobindo of the vision with Sri Aurobindo as she saw him then.
Around this time, she came into contact with Bhagavadgita through an Indian who had come to Europe. He had told her, "Read it with THAT knowledge - with the knowledge that Lord Krishna represents the immanent God, the God within you." She not only studied the Gita, but within a month, she attained to the realization of the immanent Supreme.
Soon thereafter, she went to Tiemcen in Algeria to work with Max Theon and his wife Madame Theon. Theon was well versed in the Rigveda and he was the first to talk to the Mother of the idea that the earth is symbolic where universal action is concentrated allowing divine forces to incarnate and work concretely. Madame Theon was an extraordinary occultist, having incredible faculties. She could leave one body and enter the consciousness of the next plane, fully experiencing the surroundings and all that was there, describe it... twelve times. The Mother learned to do the same thing and, with great dexterity. In one of her experiences, while entering into the last stage before the Formless, she experienced total Unity. And she found herself in the presence of the "Principle" of the human form. It did not resemble man as we are used to seeing him, but it was an upright form, standing just on the border between the world of forms and the Formless, like a kind of standard or archetype. Afterwards, when Mother met Sri Aurobindo and talked to him about it, he said, "It is surely the prototype of the supramental form."
Soon after her return from Tiemcen in Algeria, there was in 1908 divorce from Henri Morisset. From 1910 to 1920 - these ten years were a period of intensive mental study for the Mother. This mental development in all its comprehensiveness
led her to the conclusion that while all ideas are true, a synthesis has to be made, and that there is something luminous and true beyond the synthesis. In her philosophic studies, she was accompanied by Paul Richard who, in his visit to Pondicherry in 1910, had met Sri Aurobindo. In 1914, Mother accompanied Paul Richard to Pondicherry and met Sri Aurobindo on 29th March. In her very first meeting, both Sri Aurobindo and Mother, felt, at exactly the same moment, "now the Realisation will be accomplished." In one of his letters Sri Aurobindo wrote on the Mother as follows:
Mother was doing Yoga before she knew or met Sri Aurobindo, but their lines of Sadhana independently followed the same course. When they met, they helped each other in perfecting the sadhana. What is known as Sri Aurobindo and the Mother?1
After the outbreak of the World War I in August, 1914, the Mother had to return to France along with Paul Richard and then she spent four years in Japan; but she returned for good to Pondicherry in 1920 in order to work with Sri Aurobindo.
On 24th November 1926, Sri Aurobindo attained to a decisive stage and the Overmind was brought down into Matter, and an overmental creation came into view. But the aim was to bring about the supramental creation. As Sri Aurobindo became too occupied with the descent of the supermind, he did not have the time to deal with people, and he put The Mother in charge of all the disciples and external activities of the Sri Aurobindo Ashram. This was in 1926.
1 Sri Aurobindo on Himself, Centenary Library, Volume 26, page 459
Sri Aurobindo has spoken of the four personalities of the Mother, namely, those of Wisdom (Maheshwari), Power (Mahakali), Harmony (Mahalakshmi) and Perfection in works (Mahasaraswati). In all her activities, these four personalities of the Mother could be seen at work. The work was microscopic; it was complex; it was both external and internal. It became clearer that the task of fixing the Supermind in the physical had to be done by opening up the physical cells. Just when the descent of the supermind reached a critical point, the Second World War broke out. This war was perceived by Sri Aurobindo and the Mother as a fierce resistance to the task of the Supramental descent. Hence, they put all their yogic force against Nazism and the war ended in 1945, with the victory for the Allies as Sri Aurobindo had willed. In early 1950, Sri Aurobindo told the Mother: "One of us must go. We cannot both remain upon earth." And when Mother said, "If one of us must go, I want that it should be me." "It cannot be you," he replied, "because you alone can do the material thing." He forbade the Mother to leave her body. "It is absolutely forbidden," he said, "you cannot, you must remain."
After Sri Aurobindo left his body on 5th December 1950, the Mother continued Sri Aurobindo's work. In 1951, she established the Sri Aurobindo International University Centre, which conducted extraordinary educational experiments to invent a new method of educating children from early childhood upwards so as to prepare them for the supramental work. On 29th February 1956, the Mother declared that the Supramental Light and Force and Consciousness rushed down upon earth in an uninterrupted flow. She wrote: "The manifestation of the Supramental upon earth is no more a promise but a living fact, a reality."
In 1958, the Mother entered into a new phase of Yoga, which aimed at fixing the supramental consciousness in the cells of the body so as to establish in the world, the conditions of the emergence of the next species, the supramental species that would manifest the Supermind in the supramental body.
It was in the course of this "Yoga of the Cells" that the Mother discovered the "Mind of the Cells" which has the necessary capacity to reconstitute the physical body. This great yogic process has been described in thirteen volumes entitled "The Mother's Agenda", which consists of Mother's conversations with Satprem, one of her disciples, who had become her confidant.
In 1968, Mother founded "Auroville", an international township, a few kilometers away from Pondicherry, as a "laboratory of new evolution."
On 14th March, 1970, Mother declared that the work that Sri Aurobindo had given to her was accomplished. She said, "The physical is capable of receiving the Superior Light, the Truth, the True Consciousness and to manifest it."
Thereafter, she continued to accelerate the evolution of the new species, a task which is still continuing, even though she left her physical body on 17th November, 1973.
Sri Aurobindo: The Mother, volume 25 of the Centenary edition, published by Sri Aurobindo Ashram, Pondicherry.
The Mother: 15 volumes of Collected Works of the Mother (published by Sri Aurobindo Ashram, Pondicherry).
13 volumes of Mother's Agenda (both in French and English, published by Institut de Rescherches Evolutives, Paris).
Satprem: Mother or the Divine Materialism (1980)
Mother or the New Species, 1982
Mother or the Mutation of Death, 1987.
Sri Aurobindo or the Adventure of Consciousness (1984).
On the Way to Supermanhood (1986).
Sujata Nahar: Mother's Chronicles, 7 volumes (published by MIRA Aditi Centre, Mysore).
Kireet Joshi: Sri Aurobindo and The Mother (published by Mother's Institute of Research and Motilal Banarsidass Pvt. Ltd.)