Who is the Mother
Sri Aurobindo writing about the Supreme Mother, the Mahashakti, in his small but important book The Mother, says:
The One whom we adore as the Mother is the divine Conscious Force that dominates all existence, one and yet so many-sided that to follow her movement is impossible even for the quickest mind and for the freest and most vast intelligence. The Mother is the consciousness and force of the Supreme and far above all she creates. But something of her ways can be seen and felt through her embodiments and the more seizable because more defined and limited temperament and action of the goddess forms in whom she consents to be manifest to her creatures.
And he further continues:
There are three ways of being of the Mother of which you can become aware when you enter into touch of oneness with the Conscious Force that upholds us and the universe.
Transcendent, the original supreme Shakti, she stands above the worlds and links the creation to the ever unmanifest mystery of the Supreme. Universal, the cosmic Mahashakti, she creates all these beings and contains and enters, supports and conducts all these million processes and forces. Individual, she embodies the power of these two vaster ways of her existence, makes them living and near to us and mediates between the human personality and the divine Nature. (CWSA vol 32 pg14)
Sri Aurobindo says that the Mother is the Conscious Force or Chit-Shakti of the Supreme and dominates all existence and is far above all that She creates. Her movements are impossible to be grasped or understood by the quickest mind or it is impossible to know her by the mind but something of her ways, her methods can be grasped and seen and felt through her embodiments, her goddess forms through whom she consents to manifest to her creatures, for these forms are more tangible, more defined and limited and thus more seizable, more comprehensible.
He further says that there are 3 ways of being of the Supreme Mother, her triple status, her 3 poises—Transcendent, Universal and the Individual—the 3 ways, in which we can relate to Her, become aware of Her, enter into contact with Her.
Further talking of her universal status, Sri Aurobindo says:
Four great Aspects of the Mother, four of her leading Powers and Personalities have stood in front in her guidance of this universe and in her dealings with the terrestrial play. One is her personality of calm wideness and comprehending wisdom and tranquil benignity and inexhaustible compassion and sovereign and surpassing majesty and all-ruling greatness. Another embodies her power of splendid strength and irresistible passion, her warrior mood, her overwhelming will, her impetuous swiftness and world-shaking force. A third is vivid and sweet and wonderful with her deep secret of beauty and harmony and fine rhythm, her intricate and subtle opulence, her compelling attraction and captivating grace. The fourth is equipped with her close and profound capacity of intimate knowledge and careful flawless work and quiet and exact perfection in all things. Wisdom, Strength, Harmony, Perfection are their several attributes and it is these powers that they bring with them into the world, manifest in a human disguise in their Vibhutis and shall found in the divine degree of their ascension in those who can open their earthly nature to the direct and living influence of the Mother. To the four we give the four great names, Maheshwari, Mahakali, Mahalakshmi, Mahasaraswati. . ( CWSA vol 32 pg 17/18)
These four aspects, powers and personalities of the Universal Mother are actively involved in the manifestation and creation of these worlds and universes, through the universal forces and the human vibhutis, and though there are other great Personalities of the Divine Mother, they await their time for a fuller manifestation in the earth spirit.
The above is what Sri Aurobindo has said about the Divine Mother, the Mahashakti, the Supreme Mother, the Mother of all creation and the Mother of the Gods.
And in answer to a question by a disciple “pls explain to me what is meant by the Divine Mother”, Sri Aurobindo replied “The Divine Mother is the Consciousness and Force of the Divine—which is the Mother of all things” (CWSA vol 32 pg 55)
Based upon what Sri Aurobindo has written in his book ‘The Mother’, some extracts of which I have quoted above, a disciple asked Sri Aurobindo the following questions in a letter dated 17.08.38:
Disciple: Do you not refer to the Mother (our Mother) in your book ‘The Mother’?
Sri Aurobindo: Yes.
Disciple: Is She not the “Individual” Divine Mother who has embodied “the power of these two vaster ways of her existence” – Transcendent and Universal?
Sri Aurobindo: Yes.
Disciple: Has She not descended here (amongst us) into the Darkness and Falsehood and Error and Death in her deep and great love for us?
Sri Aurobindo: Yes.
Disciple: There are many who hold the view she was human but now embodies the Divine Mother and her Prayers, they say, explain this view. But to my mental conception, to my psychic feeling, she is the Divine Mother who has consented to put on herself the cloak of obscurity and suffering and ignorance so that she can effectively lead us—human beings—to knowledge and Bliss and Ananda and to Him.
Sri Aurobindo: The Divine puts on an appearance of humanity, assumes the outward human nature in order to tread the path and show it to human beings, but does not cease to be the Divine. It is a manifestation that takes place, a manifestation of a growing divine consciousness, not human turning into divine. The Mother was inwardly above the human even in childhood, so the view held by “many” is erroneous.
Disciple: I also conceive that the Mother’s Prayers are meant to show us—the aspiring psychic—how to pray to the Divine.
Sri Aurobindo: Yes.
(CWSA vol 32 pg 31/32)
And when on 25th September 1957 questioned by a child:
When the Supreme Lord told you to make the world, how did you know what had to be done?
The Mother replied in a manner addressed to a child, though very revealing at the same time:
I had nothing to learn for that, because the Supreme Lord contains everything in Himself: the whole world, the knowledge of the world and the power to make it. When He decided that there should be a world, He first brought forth the knowledge of the world and the power to make it and that is me, and then He commanded me to make the world. (CWM vol 13 pg 52)
This is then who our Mother is, the Divine Mahashakti, the Supreme Mother come amongst us in an embodied form, a physical body and who has consented to put on herself the cloak of obscurity and suffering and ignorance, in her great love for us, so that she could lead us to our Divine heritage our true Self. For the sake of her children, for us, She descends into this ignorant world, this world of darkness and falsehood, so that She could lead us to light, to truth and to immortality. This is the great sacrifice of the Divine Mother which Sri Aurobindo describes so beautifully in ‘The Mother’:
In her deep and great love for her children she has consented to put on herself the cloak of this obscurity, condescended to bear the attacks and torturing influences of the powers of the Darkness and the Falsehood, borne to pass through the portals of the birth that is a death, taken upon herself the pangs and sorrows and sufferings of the creation, since it seemed that thus alone could it be lifted to the Light and Joy and Truth and eternal Life. This is the great sacrifice called sometimes the sacrifice of the Purusha, but much more deeply the holocaust of Prakriti, the sacrifice of the Divine Mother.
( CWSA vol 32 pg17)
This is the supreme sacrifice which the Divine Mother makes, this is the supreme act of grace and love, of which we are so little conscious and about which we know so little.
The secret of the embodiment
What is the secret of the Mothers embodiment? We know that she takes birth for the great love of her children and to bring them to the Divine but cannot that be done by her, from the world of truth? Does she have to descend into this world of darkness, falsehood, ignorance and suffer pain and the torturing influences of the dark forces? What is the significance of her embodiment?
Sri Aurobindo points out the great grace that is there in embodiment of the Mother, in her physical presence on the earth, in answer to some questions put to him. In a letter of 12.8.33, when asked
“Being sincere to the Mother demands communication of all our secret thoughts. There should be no secrecy between the mother and the child. But apart from this, is there any other utility of confessions?” replied: “There is the utility of the physical approach to the Mother—the approach of the embodied mind and vital to her embodied Power. In her universal action the Mother acts according to the law of things—in her embodied physical action is the opportunity of a constant Grace,—it is for that that the embodiment takes place.” (CWSA vol 32 pg51)
And in continuation of the same Sri Aurobindo, on 13.08.33, was asked:
“Is there any law of the working of the Mother’s Grace? Why does the Mother in her universal action act according to the law of things, but in her embodied physical by constant Grace?” He replied “It is the work of the Cosmic Power to maintain the cosmos and the law of the cosmos—transforming it by a slow evolution. The greater transformation comes from the Transcendent above the universe, and it is that transcendent Grace which the embodiment of the Mother is there to bring into action.” (CWSA vol 32 pg 51/52)
And still continuing on the same lines, Sri Aurobindo was asked:
“Am I right in thinking that the Mother as an individual embodies all the Divine Powers and brings down the Grace more and more to the physical plane…..” replied “Yes” and on further being questioned “ and that her embodiment is a chance for the entire physical to change and be transformed?” replied “
It is a chance for the earth-consciousness to receive the supramental into it and to undergo first the transformation necessary for that to be possible. Afterwards there will be a farther transformation by the supramental, but the whole earth consciousness will not be supramentalised—there will be first a new race representing the supermind, as man represents the mind.” (CWSA vol 32 pg 32)
The great grace that is the Mother’s physical presence, her embodiment and the secret behind it is revealed by the Mother in her own words:
“When I speak, I live what I say and I communicate the experience together with the words—no machine can record that. That is why the text seems completely different when it is heard or read, the main thing has gone, for it is beyond all notation. Even when what I have written myself is printed in a book or an article, the intensity of the experience I had while writing it escapes, and the text seems flat, although the words are identical.
This is the real reason for the physical Presence, its incontestable importance.” ( CWM vol 13 pg 53)
And when she was asked:
“You put something in Your words which enables us to see the Truth that words cannot convey. What is it that accompanies your words?” Replied in one word “Consciousness” (CWM vol 13 pg 53)
Further the embodiment of the Mother has a secret, hidden and an important truth behind it which is not generally appreciated or understood. This is brought out in the following correspondence of disciple with Sri Aurobindo:
Disciple: The Mother does not work on the sadhak directly from her own plane above, though she can do so if she wants to—she can even supramentalise the world in a day, but in that case the supramental Nature created here would be same as it is above, and not the earth in Ignorance, evolving into the supramental earth, which will not be quite the same in appearance as what the supermind is.”
Sri Aurobindo: That is a very important truth.”
( CWSA vol 32 pg 33)
The earth when supermentalised through evolution and unfolding of the consciousness, overcoming ignorance and inconscience , will have a much more vibrant, richer, deeper hue and vibration and quality in its supramental consciousness than if the same was imposed from above as if by a fiat, a decree by the Divine Mother. The joy of the struggle, of the great adventure of consciousness would not be there and the rationale of this Lila, this play would be lost. And it is precisely for this reason, that the progress, the evolution of consciousness is so slow, for the limitation is not in Her power or Shakti, it is in us, the earth consciousness, which can only go so far, so fast, without falling apart or breaking down. This is a profound truth which Sri Aurobindo indicates in his reply above and one which in not generally appreciated. And it is for this that the Mother comes to assist, guide and help in the unfolding of this consciousness, from one great stage to another stage, which we call evolution and which would not be possible without her embodiment. It is to quicken this pace of evolution, to make it more rapid that the Mother comes here, becomes embodied and this is the supreme grace.
The Mother has stated the same in an answer to a disciples question. When asked
Mother, suffering comes from ignorance and pain, but what is the nature of the suffering and pain the Divine Mother feels for her children—the Divine Mother in Savitri?
She replied in a rather long and elaborate answer which is reproduced her in full for the great importance it has for understanding the reason for her embodiment and the great grace it is:
It is because she participates in their nature. She has descended upon earth to participate in their nature. Because if she did not participate in their nature, she could not lead them farther. If she
remained in her supreme consciousness where there is no suffering, in her supreme knowledge and consciousness, she could not have any contact with human beings. And it is for this that she is
obliged to take on the human consciousness and form, it is to be able to enter into contact with them. Only, she does not forget: she has adopted their consciousness but she remains in relation
with her own real, supreme consciousness. And thus, by joining the two, she can make those who are in that other consciousness progress. But if she did not adopt their consciousness, if she did not suffer with their sorrow, she could not help them. Hers is not a suffering of ignorance: it is a suffering through identity. It is because she has accepted to have the same vibrations as they, in order to be able to enter into contact with them and pull them out of the state they are in. If she did not enter into
contact with them, she would not be felt at all or no one could bear her radiance…. This has been said in all kinds of forms, in all kinds of religions, and they have spoken very often of the divine Sacrifice, but from a certain point of view it is true. It is a voluntary sacrifice, but it is true: giving up a state of perfect consciousness, perfect bliss, perfect power in order to accept the state of ignorance of the outer world so as to pull it out of that ignorance. If this state were not accepted, there would be no contact with it. No relation would be possible. And this is the reason of the incarnations. Otherwise, there would be no necessity. If the divine consciousness and divine force could work directly from the place or state of their perfection, if they could work directly on matter and transform it, there would be no need to take a body like man’s. It would have been enough to act from the world of Truth with the perfect consciousness and upon consciousness. In fact that acts perhaps but so slowly that when there is this effort to make the world progress, make it go forward more rapidly, well, it is necessary to take on human nature. By taking the human body, one is obliged to take on human nature, partially. Only, instead of losing one’s consciousness and losing contact with the Truth, one keeps this consciousness and this Truth, and it is by joining the two that one can create exactly this kind of alchemy of transformation. But if one did not touch matter, one could do nothing for it. (CWM vol 5 pg 386/387)
And the same truth is expressed by the Mother in reply to a child’s question.
The Mother on being asked by a child “why did you come like us? Why did you not come as you truly are?” replied: “Because if I did not come like you, I could never be close to you and I would not be able to tell you: “Become what I am.” (CWM vol13 pg 52)
And Sri Aurobindo has also expressed the same truth in Savitri:
But when God’s messenger comes to help the world
And lead the soul of earth to higher things,
He too must carry the yoke he came to unloose;
He too must bear the pang that he would heal:
Exempt and unafflicted by earth’s fate,
How shall he cure the ills he never felt?
He covers the world’s agony with his calm;
But though to the outward eye no sign appears
And peace is given to our torn human hearts,
The struggle is there and paid the unseen price;
The fire, the strife, the wrestle are within.
He carries the suffering world in his own breast;
Its sins weigh on his thoughts, its grief is his:
Earth’s ancient load lies heavy on his soul;
Night and its powers beleaguer his tardy steps,
The Titan adversary’s clutch he bears;
His march is a battle and a pilgrimage.
(CWSA vol 33 pg 446)
The importance and the meaning of the Mother’s descent are again brought out by Sri Aurobindo in answer to sadhak’s question. When asked “Is there any difference between the Mother’s manifestation and the descent of the supramental? He replied: “The Mother comes in order to bring down the supramental and it is the descent which makes her full manifestation here possible.” (CWSA vol 32 pg 33/34)
And again in answer to another question “Is the attitude that I am the Brahman not necessary in the Integral Yoga?
He replied: “It is not enough to transform the whole nature. Otherwise there would be no need of the embodiment. It could be done by simply thinking of oneself as the Brahman. There would be no need of the Mother’s presence or the Mother’s force.”
(CWSA vol 32 pg 34)
And in a letter dated 6.12.30, Sri Aurobindo has given the reason for the great importance of surrender in Integral yoga and also the reason for the Mother’s and his own embodiment:
“The supramental creation, since it is to be a creation upon earth, must be not only an inner change but a physical and external manifestation also. And it is precisely for this part of the work, the most difficult of all, that surrender is most needful; for this reason, that it is the actual descent of the supramental Divine into Matter and the working of the Divine Presence and Power there that can alone make the physical and external change possible. Even the most powerful self-assertion of human will and endeavour is impotent to bring it about; as for egoistic insistence and vital revolt, they are, so long as they last, insuperable obstacles to the descent. Only a calm, pure and surrendered physical consciousness, full of the psychic aspiration, can be its field; this alone can make an effective opening of the material being to the Light and Power and the supramental change a thing actual and practicable. It is for this that we are here in the body, and it is for this that you and other sadhaks are in the Asram near us.” (CWSA vol 32 pg 86)
Above human even in childhood
We have seen earlier Sri Aurobindo say that the Mother was inwardly above the human even in childhood. The Mother herself has said about her early life:
“This happened to me…. I was five or six or seven years old (at seven the thing became quite serious) and I had a father who loved the circus, and he came and told me: “Come with me, I am going to the circus on Sunday.” I said: “No, I am doing something much more interesting than going to the circus!” Or again, young friends invited me to attend a meeting where we were to play together, enjoy together: “No, I enjoy here much more….” And it was quite sincere. It was not a pose: for me, it was like this, it was true. There was nothing in the world more enjoyable than that.” (CWM vol 5 pg 197/198)
And what was it that she was doing, which was more enjoyable than going to circus or playing with friends or anything else in the world? She was busy organising her being around her inner aspiration, around her psychic, putting everything in its place, or in her own words “organise in such a way that you begin to have a straight movement with an inner meaning” (ibid). And in order to do that, one must first of all know what one’s inner aspiration is. As the Mother says this is what is probably meant when the sages said “know thyself” and She was doing it at age five and six.
At the ages between 11 and 13 the Mother had a series of psychic and spiritual experiences which revealed to her the possibility of realising and manifesting the Divine on the earth. During her body’s sleep several teachers would come to her and give her practical discipline to realise and manifest the Divine. This is how she has put it in her own words:
“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. This, along with a practical discipline for its fulfilment, was given to me during my body’s sleep by several teachers, some of whom I met afterwards on the physical plane. Later on, as the interior and exterior development proceeded, the spiritual and psychic relation with one of these beings
became more and more clear and frequent; and although I knew little of the Indian philosophies and religions at that time I was led to call him Krishna, and henceforth I was aware that it was with him (whom I knew I should meet on earth one day) that the divine work was to be done.” (CWM vol 13 pg 39)
And when the Mother met Sri Aurobindo for the first time on 29th March 1914, she immediately recognised in him the well-known being whom she used to call Krishna.
And again in her Prayers and Meditations, in an entry dated 14th February 1914 She records the following:
WHEN I was a child of about thirteen, for nearly a year every night as soon as I had gone to bed it seemed to me that I went out of my body and rose straight up above the house, then above the city, very high above. Then I used to see myself clad in a magnificent golden robe, much longer than myself; and as I rose higher, the robe would stretch, spreading out in a circle around me to form
a kind of immense roof over the city. Then I would see men, women, children, old men, the sick, the unfortunate coming out from every side; they would gather under the outspread robe, begging for help, telling of their miseries, their suffering, their hardships. In reply, the robe, supple and alive, would extend towards each one of them individually, and as soon as they had touched it, they were
comforted or healed, and went back into their bodies happier and stronger than they had come out of them. Nothing seemed more beautiful to me, nothing could make me happier; and all the activities of the day seemed dull and colourless and without any real life, beside this activity of the night which was the true life for me. (CMW vol 1 pg 81)
Between the ages of 18 and 20, the Mother had all alone, attained constant and conscious union with the Divine and when she got a copy of swami Vivekanada’s Raja Yoga and later, of the Gita, they helped her realize in a few months what would have otherwise taken years. Once the way was shown, she says, she plunged into it like a cyclone, till the thing was realised. Here are her own words in a conversation dated 25th August 1954:
“….I said that between the ages of 18 and 20, I had attained a constant and conscious union with the Divine Presence and that I had done this ALL ALONE, without ANYONE’S help, not even books. When a little later I chanced upon Vivekananda’s Raja Yoga, it really seemed so wonderful to me that someone could explain something to me! And it helped me realize in only a few months what would have otherwise taken years.
I met a man (I was perhaps 20 or 21 at the time), an Indian who had come to Europe and who told me of the Gita. There was a French translation of it (a rather poor one, I must say) which he advised me to read, and then he gave me the key (HIS key, it was his key). He said, ‘Read the Gita …’ (this translation of the Gita which really wasn’t worth much but it was the only one available at the time – in those days I wouldn’t have understood anything in other languages; and besides, the English translations were just as bad and … well, Sri Aurobindo hadn’t done his yet!). He said, ‘Read the Gita knowing that Krishna is the symbol of the immanent God, the God within.’ That was all. ‘Read it with THAT knowledge – with the knowledge that Krishna represents the immanent God, the God within you.’ Well, within a month, the whole thing was done!” (Mother’s Agenda vol. I pg 26).
And at this time, when she was about 20 years old, she was helping and guiding conscious people who had just died, cross the infernal and often treacherous pathways across the vital worlds by building pathways between the material and psychic worlds. About this work the Mother says:
“They must form part of the work for which I have come on earth. Because even before meeting Theon, before knowing anything, I had experiences at night, certain types of night activities caring for people who had just left their bodies — and with a knowledge (although I didn’t know the process nor did I seek to know): but I knew exactly what had to be done and I did it. I was about twenty.
“As soon as I came upon Theon’s teaching — even before meeting him personally — and read and understood all kinds of things I hadn’t known before, I began to work quite systematically. Every night, at the same hour, my work consisted in constructing between the purely terrestrial atmosphere and the psychic atmosphere a sort of path of protection across the vital*, so that people wouldn’t have to pass through it — for those who are conscious but don’t have the knowledge it’s a very difficult passage, infernal. It is infernal. I was preparing this path — it must have been around 1903 or 1904, I don’t exactly remember — and doing this work for months and months and months. All sorts of things happened during that time, all sorts, ex-tra-ordi-nary things. Extraordinary. I could tell long stories….
“Then when I went to Tierncen, I told Madame Theon about .it. ‘Yes,’ she told me, ‘it is part of the work you have come on earth to do. All those with even a slightly awakened psychic being who can see your Light will go to your Light at the moment of dying, wherever they may die, and you will help them to pass through.’
“And this is a constant work. Constant. It has given me a considerable number of experiences con-cerning what happens to people when they leave their bodies. I’ve had all sorts of experiences, all kinds of examples. It’s really very interesting.” (Mothers Chronicles III pg 61/62)
*refer to NDE (near death experiences) where people generally refer to passing through a tunnel with bright light at the end as described in the works of Elizabeth Kübler-Ross and Raymond Moody
Now we can get some idea of what Sri Aurobindo meant when he said ‘the Mother was inwardly above the human even in childhood. For she was the Divine Mother herself in embodied form. She was the Adya Shakti, the Mother of Gods and of all creation. She was THAT. Even the Gods aspire and strive, to get a glimpse of Her and upon her children She bestowed her bounty and love, so freely and easily. It was her work which led to the greatest event of the last century, even of all centuries, when the supramental descended on 29th February 1956, an event quite well known amongst Sri Aurobindo’s followers. It was also her work which led to the manifestation of the Overmental consciousness on 1st January 1969, an event of similar importance but not so well known, even amongst the disciples of Sri Aurobindo. The suffering, the pain, the difficulties she had to undergo for this endeavour are a unique record of her yoga of the cells, of the yoga of physical transformation, and a pointer on the way for all who seek to follow in her steps.
The Mother and Sri Aurobindo — one and the same
The human nature being what it is, full of ignorance, darkness and egoism, some of the earlier disciples failed to recognise the divinity of the Mother or had to struggle hard in accepting the same. Sri Aurobindo in many letters to the disciples, declared the truth of the Mothers embodiment. Thus in letter to a disciple, he wrote:
“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’s Yoga is the joint creation of Sri Aurobindo and the Mother; they are now completely identified—the sadhana in the Asram and all arrangement is done directly by the Mother, Sri Aurobindo supports her from behind. All who come here for practising Yoga have to surrender themselves to the Mother who helps them always and builds up their spiritual life.” (CWSA vol 32 pg 81/82)
Further in another letter he said:
“Mother and I are one but in two bodies; there is no necessity for both the bodies to do the same thing always. On the contrary, as we are one it is quite sufficient for one to sign, just as it is quite sufficient for one to go down to receive Pranam or give meditation.”
(CWSA vol 32 pg 82)
And in another letter he said:
“The Mother and I are one and equal. Also she is supreme here and has the right to arrange the work as she thinks best for the work, no one has any right or claim or proprietorship over any work that may be given him. The Asram is the Mother’s creation and would not have existed but for her, the work she does is her creation and has not been given to her and cannot be taken from her. Try to understand this elementary truth, if you want to have any right relation or attitude towards the Mother.” (CWSA vol 32 pg 82/83)
And in another letter when asked:
Very often Sri Aurobindo says one should allow the Mother’s force to govern. Does it mean that there is a difference between the two forces?
Sri Aurobindo replied: “There is one force only, the Mother’s force—or, if you like to
put it like that, the Mother is Sri Aurobindo’s Force.” (CWSA vol 32 pg 104/105)
And in still another letter he says:
“There is no difference between the Mother’s path and mine; we have and have always had the same path, the path that leads to the supramental change and the divine realisation; not only at the end, but from the beginning they have been the same.” (CWSA vol 32 pg 81)
And finally in a letter dated 17.8.1941, Sri Aurobindo has stated in crystal clear terms that the Mother is not his disciple but co-partner in the development and giving concrete form to his yoga:
“The Mother is not a disciple of Sri Aurobindo. She has had the same realisation and experience as myself. The Mother’s sadhana started when she was very young. When she was twelve or thirteen, every evening many teachers came to her and taught her various spiritual disciplines. Among them was a dark Asiatic figure. When we first met, she immediately recognised me as the dark Asiatic figure whom she used to see a long time ago. That she should come here and work with me for a common goal was, as it were, a divine dispensation.
The Mother was an adept in the Buddhist yoga and the yoga of the Gita even before she came to India. Her yoga was moving towards a grand synthesis. After this, it was natural that
she should come here. She has helped and is helping to give a concrete form to my yoga. This would not have been possible without her co-operation.
One of the two great steps in this yoga is to take refuge in the Mother.2 (CWSA vol 32 pg 36)
2 When Sri Aurobindo was asked, on a later occasion, what the second great step is,
he replied, “Aspiration of the sadhak for the divine life.”—Ed.
And then there are the Mother’s own words:
“Without him, I exist not;
without me, he is unmanifest.” (CWM vol 13 pg 32)
And also what she wrote to a disciple on 4.3.1958:
“When in your heart and thought you will make no difference
between Sri Aurobindo and me, when to think of Sri Aurobindo
will be to think of me and to think of me will mean to think of
Sri Aurobindo inevitably, when to see one will mean inevitably
to see the other, like one and the same Person, — then you will
know that you begin to be open to the supramental force and
consciousness” (CWM vol 13 pg 32)
The Mother has said: Since the beginning of the earth, wherever and whenever there was the possibility of manifesting a ray of the Consciousness, I was there. (CWM vol 13 pg 37)
Then was the Mother incarnated in earlier times upon the earth? Has she said anything about the same? Has she declared any of her previous incarnations? The answer is YES. Not only was the Mother incarnated on the earth many times but at certain periods there were 3 or 4 of her incarnations present at the same time.
In a conversation dated 27th June 1962, the Mother says:
You know, mon petit, I said one day that in the history of earth, wherever there was a possibility for the Consciousness to manifest, I was there; this is a fact. It’s like the story of Savitri: always there, always there, always there, in this one, that one – at certain times there were four emanations simultaneously! At the time of the Italian and French Renaissance. And again at the time of Christ, then too…. Oh, you know, I have remembered so many, many things! It would take volumes to tell it all. And then, more often than not (not always, but more often than not), what took part in this or that life was a particular yogic formation of the vital being – in other words something immortal.
And when I came this time, as soon as I took up the yoga, they came back again from all sides, they were waiting. Some were simply waiting, others were working (they led their own independent lives) and they all gathered together again. That’s how I got those memories. One after the other, those vital beings came – a deluge! I had barely enough time to assimilate one, to see, situate and integrate it, and another would come. They are quite independent, of course, they do their own work, but they are very centralized all the same. And there are all kinds – all kinds, anything you can imagine! Some of them have even been in men: they are not exclusively feminine.
At first, I used to think they were fantasies.
Before I met Sri Aurobindo they would come and come and come to me, night after night and sometimes during the day – a mass of things! Afterwards I told Sri Aurobindo about it, and he explained to me that it was quite natural. And indeed, it is quite natural: with the present incarnation of the Mahashakti (as he described it in Savitri), whatever is more or less bound up with Her wants to take part, that’s quite natural. And it’s particularly true for the vital: there has always been a preoccupation with organizing, centralizing, developing and unifying the vital forces, and controlling them. So there’s a considerable number of vital beings, each with its own particular ability, who have played their role in history and now return. (Mother’s Agenda vol. 3 pg 210/11)
And here is what she says about the presence of more than one incarnation at the same time, in a conversation dated June 30, 1962:
Disciple: I wanted to clarify something…. I don’t know if Mona Lisa and Marguerite
de Valois were your incarnations, but weren’t they contemporaries!?…
Mother: Yes, but I told you – four at once!
Four at once. And, in general, they were the different states of being of the Mother –
the four aspects. Generally one aspect in each embodiment (when there were four). Or
else this or that aspect might have been less present in one embodiment and more present
in another. Sometimes there was a fairly central presence and then at the same time less
central, less important emanations. But that has happened several times – several times.
On two occasions it was particularly clear. But I have often sensed that there wasn’t
merely ONE embodiment, that the course of history may have crystallized around this or
that person, but there were other embodiments less (how to put it?) … less conspicuous,
They are the different aspects of the Mother. (Mother’s Agenda vol. 3 pg 221)
The Mother has also said that all her previous incarnations were partial manifestations and the present one is full manifestation of the Mahashakti. While the action of the earlier incarnations of the Mother had terrestrial effect, the actions of the full incarnation, the present one, had effect on all the worlds especially the world of the gods.
As she says, in a conversation dated June 30, 1962:
But with this present incarnation of the Mahashakti…. She is the Supreme’s first manifestation, creation’s first stride, and it was She who first gave form to all those beings. Now, since her incarnation in the physical world, and through the position She has taken here in relation to the Supreme by incarnating in a human body, all the other worlds have been influenced, and influenced in an extremely interesting way. 125* I have been in contact with all those gods, all those great beings, and for the most part their attitude has changed. And even with those who didn’t want to change, it has nonetheless influenced their way of being. (Mother’s Agenda vol.3 pg. 222)
And the Mother’s above statement is further clarified in a footnote appearing in the same volume, where the following is stated:
*125Some days later, Satprem again brought up the above passage, asking whether the Mother hadn’t
been active on earth since the beginning of time and not merely “with this present incarnation of the
Mahashakti.” The reply: “It was always through EMANATIONS, while now it’s as Sri Aurobindo writes in
Savitri – the Supreme tells Savitri that a day will come when the earth is ready and ‘The Mighty Mother
shall take birth’…. But Savitri was already on earth – she was an emanation.
So they were all emanations?
They were all emanations, right from the beginning. So we have to say: ‘With the PRESENT
incarnation.'” (Mother’s Agenda vol. 3 footnote 125, pg 474)
And at another place she says in a conversation dated June 27, 1962:
And now with this present intervention [Mother’s], with this incarnation and the establishment of the Consciousness here, like this (Mother makes a fist in a gesture of immutable solidity), in such an
absolute way (I mean there are no fluctuations) … HERE, on earth, in the terrestrial atmosphere, this incarnation has a radiating action throughout all those worlds, all those universes, all those Entities. And it results in small events, incidents scaled to the size of the earth – which in themselves are quite interesting. (Mother’s Agenda vol. 3 pg 212)
And She further adds about her present incarnation in the same conversation of June 27, 1962:
During the whole time Sri Aurobindo was here, the four entities he speaks of, the four Aspects of the Mother, were always present. And I was constantly obliged to tell one or the other of them, “Now keep calm, now, now, calm down” – they were always inclined to intervene. (Mother’s Agenda vol. 3, pg 211)
The Mother says her earliest memory of life in human body was during the earthly paradise i.e. the time before the complication of the mind arose, when life was spontaneous and natural and everything was in harmony with each other.
As the Mother says:
Repeatedly, in different circumstances, several times, I have had the same memory. It was not exactly the same scene or the same images, because it was not something that I saw, it was a life that I was living. For some time, by night or by day, in a certain state of trance I went back to a life that I had lived and had the full consciousness that it was the outflowering of the human form on earth—the first human forms capable of embodying the divine Being. It was that. It was the first time I could manifest
in an earthly form, in a particular form, in an individual form—not a “general” life but an individual form—that is to say, the first time that the Being above and the being below were joined by the mentalisation of this material substance. I lived this several times, but always in similar surroundings and with a very similar feeling of such joyful simplicity, without complexity, without problems, without all these questions; there was nothing, absolutely nothing of the kind! It was an outflowering of the joy of living, simply that, in universal love and harmony—flowers, minerals, animals: all were in harmony.(CWM vol 10 pg 90/91)
In ancient Egypt she had at least 3 incarnations. One is supposed to be Queen Hatshepsut (ca. 1504-ca. 1483 bc) and the other is supposed to be Queen Tiy (1397-60 bc).
Another of her incarnations was Joan d’arc (1412/13-1431 ad ) who used to hear heavenly voices and who at a young age bravely led the French against the might of the English.
These are the Mother’s own words from a conversation dated 30th June 1962 :
As a child, when I was around ten or twelve years old, I had some rather interesting experiences which I didn’t understand at all. I had some history books – you know, the textbooks they give you to learn history. Well, I’d read and suddenly the book would seem to become transparent, or the printed words would become transparent, and I’d see other words or even pictures. I hadn’t the faintest idea what was happening to me! And it appeared so natural to me that I thought it was the same for everybody. But my brother and I were great chums (he was only a year and a half older), so I would tell him: “They talk nonsense in history, you know – it is LIKE THIS; it isn’t like that: it is LIKE THIS!” And several times the corrections I got on one person or another turned out to be quite
exact and detailed. And (I see it now – I understood it later on) they were certainly memories. About some passages I would even say, “How stupid! It was never that; THIS is what was said. It never happened like that; THIS is how it happened.” And the book was simply open before me; I was just reading along like any other child and … suddenly something would occur. It was something in me, of course, but I used to think it was in the book!
I found out many, many things about Joan of Arc – many things. And with stunning
precision, which made it extremely interesting. I won’t repeat them because I don’t
remember with exactness, and these things have no value unless they are exact. And then,
for the Italian Renaissance: Leonardo da Vinci, Mona Lisa; and for the French
Renaissance: François I, Marguerite de Valois and so forth.(Mother’s Agenda vol.3 pg 218/19)
The Mother was also Mona Lisa.(ca 1503 ad). In the book ‘Champaklal Speaks’, Champaklal, one of the earliest disciples and personal attendant of Sri Aurobindo, narrates the following conversation with the Mother:
In order to save her time Mother allowed me to show her paintings etc. while she was arranging flowers. Today when she was arranging flowers I asked: “Can I show the plates now?” Mother smiled and said: “Yes, yes.”
After seeing the painting of Mona Lisa Mother said: “That is the best.”
C: “Is that so?”
Mother: “I think so. We shall see. Sri Aurobindo was the artist.”
C: “Leonardo da Vinci?”
Mother smiled sweetly and said: “Yes.”
I pointed to the picture and asked: “Mother, it seems this is you?”
Mother: “Yes. Don’t you see the resemblance?” She put her finger on the lips of Mona Lisa (in the plate); she also pointed to the lower portion of the face. (Champaklal Speaks pg106)
The Mother has also declared Queen Elizabeth I of England (1533-1603) and Margaret of Valois (1553-1615), Queen of France and Navarre as being her incarnations. Another royal incarnation was
Catherine II, of Russia (1729-96), the Empress of Russia. And it was during this life The Mother said she made a firm resolve never to be born as royalty.
The below is attributed to the Mother in The Mothers Chronicles I by Sujata Nahar (pg 151)
And the Mother said: ‘I remember acutely a resolve I made in my last life as an empress [Catherine II]. I said: “Never again! Enough is enough, I want no more of it! [Next time] I want to be a commoner, in an ordinary family, free at last to do as I want.”
The Mother has also mentioned about a body of hers lying in a Himalayan cave, preserved, as it was petrified by a mineral spring. (Mother’s Agenda vol. 3 footnote 43, pg 466)
These are just some of the incarnations about which the Mother has spoken but since , she has said wherever and whenever there was the possibility of manifesting a ray of the Consciousness, I was there, there are surely many more incarnations about which we do not know or about whom she has chosen not to speak or confirm.
Programme for surrender
This is then our Mother, the one whom we must aspire to serve and surrender. The programme for surrender is given by Sri Aurobindo as below:
“Let your sincerity and surrender be genuine and entire. When you give yourself, give completely, without demand, without condition, without reservation so that all in you shall belong to the Divine Mother and nothing be left to the ego or given to any other power.
The more complete your faith, sincerity and surrender, the more will grace and protection be with you. And when the grace and protection of the Divine Mother are with you, what is there
that can touch you or whom need you fear? A little of it even will carry you through all difficulties, obstacles and dangers; surrounded by its full presence you can go securely on your way because it is hers, careless of all menace, unaffected by any hostility however powerful, whether from this world or from worlds invisible. Its touch can turn difficulties into opportunities, failure into success and weakness into unfaltering strength. For the grace of the Divine Mother is the sanction of the Supreme and now or tomorrow its effect is sure, a thing decreed, inevitable and irresistible.” (CWSA vol 32 pg 8/9)
However at the same time Sri Aurobindo warns us to be on our guard and not let the mind and the ego judge the Mother or her actions or to try to understand mentally something, which are beyond its scope and norms. He says:
“But be on your guard and do not try to understand and judge the Divine Mother by your little earthly mind that loves to subject even the things that are beyond it to its own norms and standards, its narrow reasonings and erring impressions, its bottomless aggressive ignorance and its petty self-confident knowledge. The human mind shut in the prison of its half-lit obscurity cannot follow the many-sided freedom of the steps of the Divine Shakti.”
(CWSA vol 32 pg 25)
And in more practical terms is the advice to a sadhak who asked :
“When calling down the Force, should I concentrate on the embodied Mother or open to and concentrate on the consciousness of the Universal Mother?
He replied: “The embodied Mother must be the foundation of the concentration—even when you receive from the universal Consciousness above you, it is from her consciousness that you are receiving.”
(CWSA vol 32 pg 52)
Words of the Mother
In closing here are a few utterances of the Mother, which can be taken as pointers of the way:
- Do not take my words for a teaching. Always they are a force in
action, uttered with a definite purpose, and they lose their true
power when separated from that purpose. (CWM vol 13 pg 53)
- There is only one thing of which I am absolutely sure, and that
is who I am. Sri Aurobindo also knew it and declared it. Even
the doubts of the whole of humanity would change nothing to
But another fact is not so certain—it is the usefulness of
my being here in a body, doing the work I am doing. It is not
out of any personal urge that I am doing it. Sri Aurobindo told
me to do it and that is why I do it as a sacred duty in obedience
to the dictates of the Supreme.
Time will reveal how far earth has benefited through it.
(CWM vol 13 pg 47)
- My blessings are very dangerous. They cannot be for this one or for that one or against this person or against that thing. It is for… or, well, I will put it in a mystic way:
It is for the Will of the Lord to be done, with full force
and power. So it is not necessary that there should always be a
success. There might be a failure also, if such is the Will of the
Lord. And theWill is for the progress, I mean the inner progress.
So whatever will happen will be for the best.
(CWM vol 13 pg 60/61)
- In truth, I hold myself responsible for everyone, even for
those whom I have met only for one second in my life.
(CWM vol 13 pg 74)
- With those whom I have accepted as disciples, to whom I
have said Yes, there is more than a tie, there is an emanation of
me. This emanation warns me whenever it is necessary and tells
me what is happening.
(CWM vol 13 pg 74)
- I am with you because I am you or you are me.
(CWM vol 13 pg 73)
And I close the talk with reminiscences of her life, which the Mother herself has given in one short paragraph:
The reminiscences will be short.
I came to India to meet Sri Aurobindo. I remained in India
to live with Sri Aurobindo. When he left his body, I continued to
live here in order to do his work which is, by serving the Truth
and enlightening mankind, to hasten the rule of the Divine’s
Love upon earth.
(CWM vol 13 pg 44/45)
- Complete Works of Sri Aurobindo(CWSA), Vol. 32,The Mother
- Collected Works of the Mother (CWM), Vol.13, Words of the Mother Pt I
- Mother’s Agenda vol. 1 : copyright Institut de Recherches Evolutives, France
- Mother’s Agenda vol. 3 : copyright Institut de Recherches Evolutives, France
- Collected Works of the Mother (CWM), Vol.5, Questions and Answers 1953
- Collected Works of the Mother (CWM), Vol.1, Prayers and Meditations
- Mothers Chronicles vol III by Sujata Nahar : copyright Mira Aditi Centre, Mysore
- Champaklal Speaks