The Mother (Mirra Alfassa)
The Mother was born Mirra Alfassa in Paris on 21 February 1878. 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.
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.
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 l7 November 1973.
The Mother Books Download:
The Mother on herself
The following quotes are from Collected Works of the Mother. Volume and page number follow each quotation.
When and how did I become conscious of a mission which I was to fulfill on earth? And when and how I met Sri Aurobindo?
These two questions you have asked me and I promised a short reply.
For the knowledge of the mission, it is difficult to say when it came to me. It is as though I were born with it, and following the growth of the mind and brain, the precision and completeness of this consciousness grew also.
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.
In the year 1910 my husband came alone to Pondicherry where, under very interesting and peculiar circumstances, he made the acquaintance of Sri Aurobindo. Since then we both strongly wished to return to India — the country which I had always cherished as my true mother-country. And in 1914 this joy was granted to us.
As soon as I saw Sri Aurobindo I recognised in him the well-known being whom I used to call Krishna…. And this is enough to explain why I am fully convinced that my place and my work are near him, in India.
from Volume 13, Words of the Mother, p.38
* * *
I belong to no nation, no civilisation, no society, no race, but to the Divine.
I obey no master, no ruler, no law, no social convention, but the Divine.
To Him I have surrendered all, will, life and self; for Him I am ready to give all my blood, drop by drop, if such is His Will, with complete joy; and nothing in His service can be sacrifice, for all is perfect delight.
from Volume 2, Words of Long Ago, p.166
(February, 1920, Japan)
* * *
…The most important thing for an individual is to unify himself around his divine centre; in that way he becomes a true individual, master of himself and his destiny. Otherwise, he is a plaything of forces that toss him about like a piece of cork on a river…. It is a rather unpleasant sensation to feel yourself pulled by the strings and made to do things whether you want to or not — that is quite irrelevant — but to be compelled to act because something pulls you by the strings, something which you do not even see — that is exasperating. However, I do not know, but I found it very exasperating, even when I was quite a child. At five, it began to seem to me quite intolerable and I sought for a way so that it might be otherwise — without people getting a chance to scold me. For I knew nobody who could help me and I did not have the chance that you have, someone who can tell you “This is what you have to do!” There was nobody to tell me that. I had to find it out all by myself. And I found it. I started at five.
from Volume 5, Questions and Answers 1953, p.139
(1 July 1953)
* * *
For example, once when I was walking in the mountains, I was on a path where there was only room for one — on one side the precipice, on the other sheer rock. There were three children behind me and a fourth person bringing up the rear. I was leading. The path ran along the edge of the rock; we could not see where we were going — and besides, it was very dangerous; if anyone had slipped, he would have been over the edge. I was walking in front when suddenly I saw, with other eyes than these — although I was watching my steps carefully — I saw a snake, there, on the rock, waiting on the other side. Then I took one step, gently, and indeed on the other side there was a snake. That spared me the shock of surprise, because I had seen and I was advancing cautiously; and as there was no shock of surprise, I was able to tell the children without giving them a shock, “Stop, keep quiet, don’t stir.”
from Volume 10, On Thoughts and Aphorisms, p.131
* * *
At the beginning of my present earthly existence I came into contact with many people who said that they had a great inner aspiration, an urge towards something deeper and truer, but that they were tied down, subjected, slaves to that brutal necessity of earning their living, and that this weighed them down so much, took up so much of their time and energy that they could not engage in any other activity, inner or outer. I heard this very often, I saw many poor people — I don’t mean poor from the monetary point of view, but poor because they felt imprisoned in a material necessity, narrow and deadening.
I was very young at that time, and I always used to tell myself that if ever I could do it, I would try to create a little world — oh! quite a small one, but still… a small world where people would be able to live without having to be preoccupied with food and lodging and clothing and the imperative necessities of life, so as to see whether all the energies freed by this certainty of a secure material living would turn spontaneously towards the divine life and the inner realisation.
from Volume 8, Questions and Answers 1956, p.161
(30 May 1956)
* * *
Is it useful to note down one’s dreams?
Yes, for more than a year I applied myself to this kind of self-discipline. I noted down everything — a few words, just a little thing, an impression — and I tried to pass from one memory to another. At first it was not very fruitful, but at the end of about fourteen months I could follow, beginning from the end, all the movements, all the dreams right up to the beginning of the night.
from Volume 4, Questions and Answers 1950-51, p.62
(27 January 1951)
* * *
Is there anyone here who has fainted suddenly, as if by accident? You see your body, don’t you? and you ask yourself, “But what is it doing there in that ridiculous position?” And you rush back into it! That happened to me once in Paris. I had been treated to a good dinner, and then I went to a conference hall, I believe. There were many people, it was very hot, I was standing there with the good dinner in my stomach, and suddenly I felt ill at ease. I told the person who was with me, “I must go out immediately.” Once outside (it was in Trocadero Square) I fainted away completely. I saw my body there, stretched out, and I found it so ridiculous that I rushed into it and I gave it a good scolding, saying, “You must not play such tricks with me!”
from Volume 4, Questions and Answers 1950-51, p.125
(19 February 1951)
* * *
Once, I remember, four of us had gone on a walking tour across the mountains of France. We had started from one town and had to reach another. It was about an eight or ten days’ journey across the mountain. Naturally, each of us carried a bag slung across our back, for one needs a few things. But then, before starting we had a little discussion to find out what things we really needed, what was quite indispensable. And always we came to this: “Let us see, that thing we can manage in this way” and everything was reduced to so little…
from Volume 4, Questions and Answers 1950-51, p.385
(5 May 1951)
* * *
[Mother is about to begin reading the first pages of Quelques Paroles, Quelques Prieres]
The first texts were written in 1912. Many of you were not yet born. It was a small group of about twelve people who met once a week. A subject was given; an answer was to be prepared for the following week. Each one brought along his little work. Generally, I too used to prepare a short paper and, at the end, I read it out.
from Volume 5, Questions and Answers 1953, p.352
(11 November 1953)
* * *
I can tell you one thing, that is, when I began with Sri Aurobindo to descend for the yoga, to descend from the mind into the vital, when we brought down our yoga from the mind into the vital, within one month — I was forty at that time, I didn’t look old, I looked younger than forty, but still I was forty — and after a month’s yoga I looked exactly eighteen. And someone who had seen me before, who had lived with me in Japan and came here, found it difficult to recognise me. He asked me, “But really, is it you?” I said, “Obviously!”
from Volume 6, Questions and Answers 1954, p. 303
(25 August 1954)
* * *
On Sundays, when you play, do you decide beforehand from what region the music has to come?
Before sitting down I don’t even know what notes I am going to play. The region? It is always the same region. This is why I can speak with some experience about the origin of Berlioz’s music, because it is a region very well known to me, one I frequent assidously. But I do not know what will come. Nothing at all, nothing. I don’t even decide what feeling or idea or state of consciousness is going to be expressed, nothing. I am like a blank page. I come and sit down, concentrate for a minute and let it come.
from Volume 6, Questions and Answers 1954, p.384
(20 October 1954)
* * *
In the meditations we formerly used to have there [at the Ashram], when we had a morning or evening meditation, my work was to unify the consciousness of everyone and lift it as high as I could towards the Divine. Those who were able to feel the movement followed it. This was ordinary meditation with an aspiration and ascent towards the Divine. Here, as the Playground, the work is to unify all who are here, make them open and bring down the divine force into them.
from Volume 4, Questions and Answers 1950-51, p.106
(12 February 1951)
* * *
[In this period Mother used to give Darshan every morning from her balcony. This was known as “Balcony Darshan”. In the evening She was present in the Playground to receive the salute at the March Past and conduct the Concentration at the end of the “Marching.”]
Sweet Mother, every day we go for the Balcony Darshan, and here at the Playground we come for the March Past and the Concentration. What should be our approach to each one of these things?
The most indispensable thing in every case is receptivity.
At the Balcony, for example. When I come on the Balcony I make a special concentration, you notice that I look at everybody, don’t you; I look, see, pass my eyes over every one, I know all who are there, and where they are, and I give each one exactly what he needs; I see his condition and give him what is necessary. It can go fast, because otherwise I would keep you there for half an hour, but I do it, that’s what I do. That’s the only reason why I come out, because otherwise I carry you in my consciousness. I carry you in my consciousness always, without seeing you, I do what is necessary. But here it is a moment when I can do it by touching the physical directly, you see; otherwise it is through the mind that it acts, the mind or the vital. But here I touch the physical directly through the sight, the contact of sight; and that’s what I do — each time.
from Volume 7, Questions and Answers 1955, p.257
(27 July 1955)
* * *
I want to mark this day by the expression of a long cherished wish; that of becoming an Indian citizen. From the first time I came to India — in 1914 — I felt that India is my true country, the country of my soul and spirit. I had decided to realise this wish as soon as India would be free. But I had to wait still longer because of my heavy responsibilities for the Ashram here in Pondicherry. Now the time has come when I can declare myself.
But, in accordance with Sri Aurobindo’s ideal, my purpose is to show that truth lies in union rather than in division. To reject one nationality in order to obtain another is not an ideal solution. So I hope I shall be allowed to adopt a double nationality, that is to say, to remain French while I become an Indian.
I am French by birth and early education, I am Indian by choice and predilection. In my consciousness there is no antagonism between the two, on the contrary, they combine very well and complete one another. I know also that I can be of service to both equally, for my only aim in life is to give a concrete form to Sri Aurobindo’s great teaching and in his teaching he reveals that all the nations are essentially one and meant to express the Divine Unity upon earth through an organised and harmonious diversity.
from Volume 13, Words of the Mother, p.43
(15 August 1954)
* * *
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.
from Volume 13, Words of the Mother, p.53
* * *
My way of seeing is somewhat different. For my consciousness the whole life upon earth, including the human life and all its mentality, is a mass of vibrations, mostly vibrations of falsehood, ignorance and disorder, in which are more and more at work vibrations of Truth and Harmony coming from the higher regions and pushing their way through the resistance. In this vision the ego-sense and the individual assertion and separateness become quite unreal and illusory.
from Volume 13, Words of the Mother, p.95
* * *
You see how it is, now I am nearing a hundred, it’s only five years away now. I started making an effort to become conscious at five years old, my child. This is to let you know…. And I go on, and it goes on. Only… Of course, I have come to the point where I am doing the work for the cells of the body, but still, the work began a long time ago.
This is not to discourage you, but… it is to let you know that it does not happen just like that!
from Volume 12, On Education, p.433
* * *
Now remember one thing. Sri Aurobindo and myself are one and the same consciousness, one and the same person. Only, when this force or this presence, which is the same, passes through your individual consciousness, it puts on a form, an appearance which differs according to your temperament, your aspiration, your need, the particular turn of your being. Your individual consciousness is like a filter, a pointer, if I may say so; it makes a choice and fixes one possibility out of the infinity of divine possibilities.
from Volume 13, Words of the Mother, p.77
Sri Aurobindo on The Mother
The following quotes are from Volume 25, “The Mother”, of Sri Aurobindo Birth Centenary Library
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.
* * *
Q: There are some Prayers of the Mother of 1914 in which she speaks of transformation and manifestation. Since at that time she was not here, does this not mean that she had these ideas long before she came here?
A: 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.
* * *
The Mother’s presence is always there; but if you decide to act on your own — your own idea, your own notion of things, your own will and demand upon things, then it is quite likely that her presence will get veiled; it is not she who withdraws from you, but you who draw back from her.
p. 117 (25-3-1932)
* * *
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 Force is not only above on the summit of the being. It is there with you and near you, ready to act whenever your nature will allow it. It is so with everybody here.
p. 157 (15-11-1936)
* * *
The lights are the Mother’s Powers — many in number. The white light is her own characteristic power, that of the Divine Consciousness in its essence.
p. 83 (15-7-1934)
* * *
It is quite wrong to say that the Mother loves most those who are nearest to her in the physical. I have often said this but people do not wish to believe it, because they imagine that the Mother is a slave of the vital feelings like ordinary people and governed by vital likes and dislikes. “Those she likes she keeps near her, those she likes less she keeps less near, those she dislikes or does not care for she keeps at a distance,” that is their childish reasoning. Many of those who feel the Mother’s presence and love always with them hardly see her except once in six months or once in a year; — apart from the Pranam and meditation. On the other hand one near her physically or seeing her often may not feel such a thing at all; he may complain of the absence of the Mother’s help and love altogether or as compared to what she gives to others. If the childishly simple rule of three given above were true, such outbursts would not be possible.
Whether one feels the Mother’s love or not depends on whether one is open to it or not. It does not depend on physical nearness. Openness means the removal of all that makes one unconscious of the inner relation — nothing can make one more unconscious than the idea that it must be measured only by some outward manifestation instead of being felt within the being; it makes one blind or insensitive to the outer manifestations that are there. Whether one is physically far or near makes no difference. One can feel it, being physically far or seeing her little. One can fail to feel it when it is there even if one is physically near or often in her physical presence.
* * *
Medicines have quite a different action on the Mother’s body than they would have on yours or X’s or anybody else’s and the reaction is not usually favourable. Her physical consciousness is not the same as that of ordinary people — though even in ordinary people it is not so identical in all cases as “science” would have us believe.
* * *
The Mother has had a very severe attack and she must absolutely husband her forces in view of the strain the 24th November will mean for her. It is quite out of the question for her to begin seeing everybody and receiving them meanwhile — a single morning of that kind of thing would exhaust her altogether. You must remember that for her a physical contact of this kind with others is not a mere social or domestic meeting with a few superficial movements which make no great difference one way or the other. It means for her an interchange, a pouring out of her forces and a receiving of things good, bad and mixed from them which often involves a great labour of adjustment and elimination and in many cases, though not in all, a severe strain on the body.
* * *
It is much easier for the Sadhak by faith in the Mother to get free from illness than for the Mother to keep free — because the Mother by the very nature of her work had to identify herself with the Sadhaks, to support all their difficulties, to receive into herself all the poison in their nature, to take up besides all the difficulties of the universal earth-Nature, including the possibility of death and disease in order to fight them out. If she had not done that, not a single Sadhak would have been able to practise this Yoga. The Divine has to put on humanity in order that the human being may rise to the Divine. It is a simple truth, but nobody in the Ashram seems able to understand that the Divine can do that and yet remain different from them — can still remain the Divine.
* * *
The Mother does not think that it is good to give up all work and only read and meditate. Work is part of the Yoga and it gives the best opportunity for calling down the Presence, the Light and the Power into the vital and its activities; it increases also the field and the opportunity of surrender.
It is not enough to remember that the work is the Mother’s — and the results also. You must learn to feel the Mother’s forces behind you and to open to the inspiration and the guidance. Always to remember by an effort of the mind is too difficult; but if you get into the consciousness in which you feel always the Mother’s force in you or supporting you, that is the true thing.
* * *
I do not find that the Mother is a rigid disciplinarian. On the contrary, I have seen with what a constant leniency, tolerant patience and kindness she has met the huge mass of indiscipline, disobedience, self-assertion, revolt that has surrounded her, even revolt to her very face and violent letters overwhelming her with the worst kind of vituperation. A rigid disciplinarian would not have treated these things like that.
* * *
It was the Mother who selected the heads [of departments] for her purpose in order to organise the whole; all the lines of the work, all the details were arranged by her and the heads trained to observe her methods and it was only afterwards that she stepped back and let the whole thing go on on her lines but with a watchful eye always. The heads are carrying out her policy and instructions and report everything to her and she often modifies what they do when she thinks fit.
* * *
The Sadhana is done by the Mother according to the Truth and necessity of each nature and of each plane of Nature. It is not one fixed process.
* * *
The Mother finds the pictures of X hideous and monstrous, she would not dignify them with the name of art. But it is not because they depart from tradition. The Mother does not believe in tradition — she considers that Art should always develop new forms — but still these must be according to a truth of Beauty which is universal and eternal — something of the Divine.
* * *
Mother never avoids opening letters or any other work because of abscence of time: she deals with all the work that comes to her even if she is ill or if she has no time for rest.
* * *
Mother prefers that when she walks on the terrace people should not be looking at her because it is the only time when she can concentrate a little on herself — apart from the necessity of taking some fresh air and movement for the health of the body. If she has to attend to the pull of so many people, that cannot be done. The interview she gives you is a different matter; she has to arrange it herself and it is part of her work, so there is no need to change.
* * *
The Mother deals with each one in a different way, according to their need and their nature, not according to any fixed mental rule. It would be absurd for her to do the same thing with everybody as if all were machines which had to be touched and handled in the same way.
* * *
It is true that the Mother is one in many forms, but the distinction between the outer and the inner Mother must not be made too trenchant; for she is not only one, but the physical Mother contains all the others in herself and in her is established the communication between the inner and the outer existence. But to know the outer Mother truly one must know what is within her and not look at the outer appearances only. That is only possible if one meets her with the inner being and grows into her consciousness — those who seek an outer relation only cannot do that.
* * *
The Mother not only governs all from above but she descends into this lesser triple universe. Impersonally, all things here, even the movements of the Ignorance, are herself in veiled power and her creations in diminished substance, her Nature-body and Nature-force, and they exist because, moved by the mysterious fiat of the Supreme to work out something that was there in the possibilities of the Infinite, she has consented to the great sacrifice and has put on like a mask the soul and forms of the Ignorance. But personally too she has stooped to descend here into the Darkness that she may lead it to the Light, into the Falsehood and Error that she may convert it to Truth, into this Death that she may turn it to godlike Life, into this world-pain and its obstinate sorrow and suffering that she may end it in the transforming ecstasy of her sublime Ananda. 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 the Prakriti, the sacrifice of the Divine Mother.
Text originally published on
Sri Aurobindo Ashram website
COLLECTED WORKS OF THE MOTHER
In these writings and conversations, the Mother offers an uplifting vision of life and the promise of a luminous future. Drawing upon her wide occult, spiritual and practical experience, she explains the purpose of our life on earth, the Divine’s way of working in the world, the reason for our sorrows and struggles and the way to deal with them. In simple and direct language she speaks of the qualities needed to make inner progress, relate well with others, work effectively and lead a dedicated spiritual life.
- Prayers and Meditations – record of the Mother’s early spiritual life, from her diaries. Most entries are from 1912 to 1917. 395 pp.
- Words of Long Ago – Early writings from 1893 to 1920. Essays, reflections and talks in France, Japan and Pondicherry; with stories for children. 295 pp.
- Questions and Answers 1929-1931 – Early conversations on various aspects of spiritual life; and commentaries on the Dhammapada. 325 pp.
- Questions and Answers 1950-1951 – Conversations based on Sri Aurobindo’s book The Mother, the Mother’s essays on education and her conversations
- Questions and Answers 1953 – Conversations based on the Mother’s conversations of 1929. 439 pp.
- Questions and Answers 1954 – Conversations based on the Mother’s essays on education and three small books by Sri Aurobindo: Elements of Yoga, Bases of Yoga and The Mother. 478 pp.
- Questions and Answers 1955 – Conversations based on three works by Sri Aurobindo: Bases of Yoga, Lights on Yoga and The Synthesis of Yoga. 441 pp.
- Questions and Answers 1956 – Conversations based on two works by Sri Aurobindo: The Synthesis of Yoga and Thoughts and Glimpses. 424 pp.
- Questions and Answers 1957-1958 – Conversations based on three works by Sri Aurobindo: Thoughts and Glimpses, The Supramental Manifestation upon Earth and The Life Divine. 446 pp.
- On Thoughts and Aphorisms – Conversations based on Thoughts and Aphorisms by Sri Aurobindo; with his aphorisms. 381 pp.
- Notes on the Way – Conversations with a disciple about the Mother’s own sadhana between 1965 and 1973. 352 pp.
- On Education – Writings and conversations on education and self-development; with three plays. 525 pp.
- Words of the Mother – I – Short written statements on Sri Aurobindo, herself, the Sri Aurobindo Ashram, Auroville, India and nations other than India; and a few conversations. 393 pp.
- Words of the Mother – II – Short written statements on various aspects of spiritual life. 380 pp.
- Words of the Mother – III – Short written statements on various aspects of spiritual life; and thirty conversations. 424 pp.
- Some Answers from the Mother – Correspondence with fourteen sadhaks and students. 450 pp.
- More Answers from the Mother – Correspondence with seven sadhaks and students. 418 pp.