February 21,  2024

The Mother's 146th Birthday

(Mirra Alfassa, The Mother, was born in Paris, France, on 21 st February 1878)

'Since the beginning of the earth wherever and whenever there was the possibility of manifesting a ray of consciousness, I was there.’

—The Mother, 14 March'1952

Sri Aurobindo on the Mother

The Mother had been spiritually conscious from her youth, even from her childhood upward and she had done Sadhana and had developed this knowledge very long before she came to India.

There is one divine Force which acts in the universe and in the individual and is also beyond the individual and the universe. The Mother stands for all these, but she is working here in the body to bring down something not yet expressed in this material world so as to transform life here — it is so that you should regard her as the Divine Shakti working here for that purpose. She is that in the body, but in her whole consciousness she is also identified with all the other aspects of the Divine.

You have only to aspire, to keep yourself open to the Mother, to reject all that is contrary to her will and to let her work in you — doing also all your work for her and in the faith that it is through her force that you can do it. If you remain open in this way, the knowledge and realisation will come to you in due course.

The Mother's symbol

Chart of the colours given by Sri Aurobindo for the Mother's symbol on 20.3.1934.

"Centre and four powers white, the twelve all of different colours in three groups, top group red passing through orange towards yellow, next group, yellow passing through green towards blue, and third group blue passing through violet towards red."

"The central circle represents the Divine consciousness; the four petals represent the four powers of the Mother, the twelve petals the twelve powers of the Mother manifested for Her work."

The four aspects of the Mother are Maheshwari (Wisdom), Mahalakshmi (Harmony), Mahakali (Strength) and Mahasaraswati (Perfection). The central circle in the Mother's symbol represents the Supreme Mother, the Mahashakti. The 12 petals in the symbol represent the 12 aspects :

  1. Sincerity : Simple sincerity is the beginning of all progress. A sincere heart is worth all the extraordinary powers in the world.
  2. Humility : The true humility is humility before the Divine, a precise, exact living sense that one is nothing, one can do nothing, understand nothing without the Divine…
  3. Gratitude : Gratitude opens all the closed doors and allows the saving Grace to enter.
  4. Perseverance: Perseverence is patience in action.” “The decision to go to the very end.
  5. Aspiration: Aspiration is one of the marvelous gifts of grace given to human nature.
  6. Receptivity: Receptivity is the capacity of admitting and retaining the Divine Workings.”
  7. Progress: The purpose of earthly life is progress.
  8. Courage: Courage is to be able to face everything in life without the slightest emotion in any part of the being and with a constant awareness of the Divine Presence.
  9. Goodness: You must be good for the love of goodness…then you are sure to advance on the way.
  10. Generosity: Generosity gives and gives itself without bargaining. Gives for the joy of giving.
  11. Equality: Equal in all circumstances, keeps a perfect mastery of himself and remains peaceful in the presence of whatever happens.
  12. Peace: Nowhere will you be able to find peace unless you have peace in your heart.

The Mother's Childhood (1878-1896)



Blanche Rachel Mirra Alfassa, The Mother, was born in Paris on 21 February 1878 and was the daughter of the banker Maurice Alfassa (born in Adrianople, Turkey, in 1843), and Mathilde Ismaloun (born in Alexandria, Egypt, in 1857). Maurice, his wife, and their son Matteo (born in Alexandria in 1876) emigrated from Egypt to France a year before Mirra’s birth. Her early education was given at home.

“I started contemplating or doing my Yoga from the age of 4. There was a small chair for me on which I used to sit still, engrossed in my meditation. A very brilliant light would then descend over my head and produce some turmoil inside my brain. Of course I understood nothing, it was not the age for understanding. But gradually I began to feel, ‘I shall have to do some tremendously great work that nobody yet knows.’

From the age of five she was conscious that she did not belong to this world and did not have a human consciousness. At this age she began her spiritual discipline, her sadhana. But her mother, who was a rationalist, knew little of what was going on in Mirra’s mind. Once she asked her, when she was meditating in her small chair, “Why do you sit thus with a set face, as if the whole world were pressing upon you?” And prompt came the answer, “Yes, indeed, I do feel the weight of the world’s miseries pressing upon me!”

The Mother in France / Algeria (upto 1912)






A pupil at the Academie Julian, she became an accomplished artist, and also excelled as a pianist and writer. Interested in occultism, she visited Tlemcen, Algeria, in 1905 and l906 to study with the adept Max Theon and his wife. Her primary interest, however, was spiritual development. In Paris she founded a group of spiritual seekers and gave talks to various groups.

“Between the age of eighteen and twenty I had attained a conscious and constant union with the divine Presence and… I had done it all alone, with absolutely nobody to help me, not even books, you understand! When I found one – I had in my hands a little later Vivekananda’s Raja Yoga – it seemed to me so wonderful a thing, you see, that someone could explain something to me! This made me gain in a few months what would have perhaps taken me years to do.”

Paris (1897-1904)

At the age of nineteen, on 13 October 1897, she married Henri Morisset, a disciple of the painter Gustave Moreau. Her son Andre was born on 23 August 1898.

When the Mother was about 21, she met an Indian who gave her a copy of the Bhagavadgita. It was only a very inadequate French translation, but she could perceive, by intuition, the true content of this Indian scripture. The Indian advised her to envisage Krishna as the immanent Godhead, as the Divine within ourselves, and to read the Gita with this knowledge. The Mother followed his advice and “… in one month the whole work was done”: she had got the experience of Krishna as immanent God. The Mother later explained to her students that the Gita was an important scripture which elucidated an important Truth, and yet one thing was missing in it: the idea of the transformation of the outer nature of man, which is one main object of Sri Aurobindo’s Integral Yoga.

Paris and Tlemsen (1905-1912)

The Mother’s high inner realization and spiritual radiance soon attracted towards her many seekers. In 1906 a small group was formed under her guidance, which was named Idea. They met regularly on Wednesday evenings at her house, first in rue Lemercier, later in rue des Lévis and after 1910 in rue Val de Grâce. Apart from spiritual topics they also discussed occult experiences. The Mother herself had many occult experiences, but she never made them an end in themselves: they were strictly subordinated to her main object, spiritual realization and manifestation. The following quotation clarifies her attitude towards the occult: “Occult knowledge without spiritual discipline is a dangerous instrument, for the one who uses it as for others, if it falls into impure hands. Spiritual knowledge without occult science lacks precision and certainty in its objective results; it is all-powerful only in the subjective world. The two, when combined in inner or outer action, are irresistible and are fit instruments for the manifestation of the supramental power.”

The Mother once had an experience in Paris which illustrates how powerful the inner protective wall can be if spiritual discipline is combined with occult knowledge. Once when she was walking in the Luxembourg Gardens and crossing a dangerous intersection, while being absorbed in deep inner concentration, she suddenly received a kind of blow and jumped back instinctively. The next moment a tram passed by – “it was the tram that I had felt at a little more than arm’s length. It had touched the aura, the aura of protection – it was very strong at that time, I was deeply immersed in occultism and I knew how to keep it – the aura of protection had been hit and that had literally thrown me backwards, as if I had received a physical shock.”

The Mother’s natural disposition for occult experiences was at a later stage perfected by systematic training. Some time between 1905 and 1906 she met in Paris Max Théon, a Polish Jew who was highly advanced in occultism. He had a house in Tlemcen in South Algeria, at the border of the Sahara. His wife Alma too was a highly gifted occultist. She was from the Isle of Wight.

"I don't know if he was Russian or Polish (a Russian or Polish Jew), he never said who he really was or where he was born, nor his age...

He had assumed two names: one was an Arabic name he had adopted when he took refuge in Algeria...After having worked with Blavatsky and having founded an occult society in Egypt, he went to Algeria, and...called himself `Aia Aziz' (...meaning `the beloved'). Then, when he began setting up his Cosmic Review and his 'cosmic group', he called himself Max Théon, meaning...the greatest God! And no-one knew him by any other name than these two...

He had an English wife.

He said he had received initiation in India (he knew a little Sanskrit and the Rig-Veda thoroughly), and then he formulated a tradition which he called the `cosmic tradition' and which he claimed...(predated) the Cabala and the Vedas."

— The Mother
[Mother's Agenda vol 1, p.219]

1910 - 1920

After a few years the Mother had dissolved her marriage with Henri Morisset and she married Paul Richard in the year 1911, a well-known and well-read philosopher who was keenly interested in Eastern and Western spirituality as well as Vedantic Yoga. He had also political plans and so in 1910, in connection with an election campaign, he came to Pondicherry, which was at that time part of French India. He also wanted to consult an advanced Yogi about the symbolic meaning of the star of David and therefore went to see Sri Aurobindo who was in exile outside British India.

When Richard had returned to France, he told the Mother about Sri Aurobindo and they started some correspondence. In April 1914 Sri Aurobindo wrote to a friend that the Richards were rare examples of European yogins who had not been misled by aberrations on the spiritual path.

In 1914 her longing was at last fulfilled and she could embark on a journey to Pondicherry with Paul Richard. They left Paris on 5 March, 1914 and the next day they boarded the ‘Kaga Maru’, a Japanese steamer.

In a diary note of March 8 the Mother describes an inner experience, an inner movement which is characteristic of her being and points towards her future role: she takes all fellow-travellers on the boat into her consciousness and envelopes them in love, tries to awaken them to the Divine. In her inner experience the boat is “a marvellous abode of peace, a temple sailing in Thy honour over the waves of the subconscient passivity which we have to conquer and awaken to the consciousness of Thy divine Presence.”

In 1914 the Mother voyaged to Pondicherry to meet Sri Aurobindo, whom she at once recognised as the one who for many years had inwardly guided her spiritual development. After a stay of eleven months she was obliged to return to France due to the outbreak of the First World War. A year later she went to Japan for a period of four years.

Nobuko Kobayashi in Kyoto said about her former friend Mirra, "She came here to learn Japanese and to be one of us. But we had so much to learn from her and her charming and unpredictable ways... She revered a master from the ancient land of the Buddha... I loved her dearly. Have you seen those lovely wisteria flowers trailing down the roof of the Kasuga shrine at Nara? We call them hooji. My firend [Mirra] loved those flowers. She was one with them. She called herself Hoofiko when she thought of having a Japanese name."




1920 - 1973

In April 1920 the Mother rejoined Sri Aurobindo in Pondicherry. When the Sri Aurobindo Ashram was formed in November 1926, Sri Aurobindo entrusted its full material and spiritual charge to the Mother. Under her guidance, which continued for nearly fifty years, the Ashram grew into a large, many-faceted spiritual community.

In 1952 she established Sri Aurobindo International Centre of Education, and in 1968 an international township, Auroville.

The Mother left her body on 17 November 1973.

Mother's Agenda

This Agenda... is
my gift to
those who love me

—Mother

The Agenda, runs to about 6,000 pages in 13 volumes, is the day-to-day account with Satprem for over twenty-two years of Mother's exploration in the body consciousness and of her discovery of a "cellular mind" capable of refashioning the nature of our bodies and the laws of the species as drastically as one day an infant "thinking mind" transformed the nature of the ape. It is a veritable document of experimental evolution. A revolution in consciousness that alters the laws of the species. And this is the very question of our times, for whatever the appearances, we are not at the end of a civilization but at the end of an evolutionary cycle. Are we going to find the passage to the next species ... or perish ? As scrupulously as a scientist in his laboratory, Mother goes back to the origin of Matter's formation, to the primordial code, and there, "by chance," stumbles upon the mechanism of death-upon the very power that changes death-and upon a "new" Energy, which curiously parallels the most recent theories on Matter's subatomic structure. The key to Matter contains the key to death ... and the key to the next species.

Satprem

Bernard Enginger, renamed as "Satprem" by The Mother was a writer born in Paris in 1923. Spent much of his childhood sailing off the coasts of Britanny. Arrested at the age of 20 by the Gestapo, he spent a year and a half in a German concentration camp. His quest for "a deeper meaning of life" led him to Egypt, to the forests of Guyana, and finally to India, where he discovered the "new evolution" heralded by Sri Aurobindo : "Man is a transitional being." This is the theme of his first book, Sri Aurobindo or the Adventure of Consciousness (Harper & Row). After a few years as an errant monk on the roads of India (By the Body of the Earth, Harper & Row), he became Mother's confidant and for some 20 years recorded the account of Her cellular experiences.

Offerings


The 146th Birth Anniversary of the Mother started with invocation for the divine Presence in the Meditation Hall by Srila Basu. Recorded music of Karuna didi was played in the Meditation hall. The March past and Lights of Aspiration were followed by Book release on the Mother's symbol and musical offering by Ashram choir and reading by Tara didi.

Cultural programme and Physical demonstration


Cultural Programme and physical demonstration by the ashram youth in the Hall of Grace.