Words of Long Ago (CWM Vol.2)

Words of Long Ago

Collected Works of the Mother Volume 2

Writings and talks from 1893 to 1920. The volume includes early essays, talks to seekers in Paris, essays written in Japan, and Tales of All Times, some stories for children. This volume contains all the writings of the Mother from the period before 1920, the year she settled in Pondicherry, with the exception of Prayers and Meditations. The book is divided into seven parts, according to the nature and date of the material. Most of the pieces were written originally in French and appear here in English translation.

Part 1. The essays and stories in this part were written by the Mother between 1893 and 1912. All the texts were written in French. All but two were first published in 1946 in the first part of a book entitled Paroles d’ autrefois. This book was reprinted in 1955. An English translation, entitled Words of Long Ago, was published in 1946 and reprinted in 1952 and 1947. In the 1978 edition of Words of Long Ago, the contents of Part 1 of the previous editions were rearranged according to date and two new pieces added: “A Sapphire Tale” and an unpublished note related to “On Thought”. “A Sapphire Tale” was first published in the original French and in English translation in the monthly journal Mother India in February 1957. At the time of its publication the Mother remarked to the journal’s editor that the story expressed “the ideal of the overmind creation”. The original translations of all the contents of Part 1 were revised for publication in 1978 in Words of Long Ago, Volume 2 of the Collected Works of the Mother. The same contents were brought out in the original French in 1983 in Paroles d’autrefois, the French counterpart of Volume 2 of the Collected Works.

Part 2. The essays in this part were written by the Mother for the meetings of “a small group of seekers” in 1912. All the texts were written in French. All but one were published in 1946 in the second part of Paroles d’autrefois. This book was reprinted in 1955. An English translation, entitled Words of Long Ago, was brought out in 1946 and reprinted in 1952 and 1974. In the 1978 edition of Words of Long Ago, one new piece was added: the essay for the meeting of 7 May 1914. This essay, which was restored to its original position in the series, was first published in 1939 in Quelques paroles, quelques prièrs and in English translation as the Foreword to the 1940 edition of Words of the Mother. The question at the beginning of this essay, taken from the Mother’s handwritten manuscript, was published for the first time in the 1978 edition of Words of Long Ago. The original translations of all the contents of Part 2 were revised for publication in that edition. The same contents were brought out in the original French in 1983 in Paroles d’autrefois.

Part 3. Between 1911 and 1913 the Mother gave a number of talks to different groups in Paris. Two of these talks, “On Thought” and “On Dreams”, appear in Part 1 of this book. Several other talks never published in the Mother’s lifetime are published here as Part 3. The Mother sometimes presented the same talk to different groups, with suitable additions and alteration. These variants, if significant and non-repetitive, have been given here in footnotes. A note relating to the Mother’s talks, which was found among her manuscripts, has been placed before the other items. The talks, notes and reflections in this part, all from the period 1912-13, were first published in English translation in 1978 as Part 3 of Words of Long Ago. The original French texts were first brought out in 1983 as Part 3 of Paroles d’autrefois.

Part 4. The writings in this part, similar to Prayers and Meditations, were not published in the Mother’s lifetime. Several of the pieces are dated between 1914 and 1916; the remainder seem clearly to belong to the period before 1920. These writings first appeared in English translation in 1978 as Part 4 of Words of Long Ago. The original French texts were first brought out in 1983 as Part 4 of Paroles d’autrefois.

Part 5. This part comprises several short essays and notes entitled by the Mother “Notes and Reflections”, and a few related writings. Several of the pieces are dated between 1914 and 1915; the rest appear to have been written around the same time. None of the writings were published during the Mother’s lifetime. They first appeared in English translation in 1978 as Part 5 of Words of Long Ago. The original French texts were first brought out in 1983 as Part 5 of Paroles d’autrefois.

Part 6. The letters, essays, etc. comprising this part were written in Japan between 1916 and 1920. “Woman and the War”, written originally in French, was published in an English translation seen and revised by the Mother, in the Fujoshimbun on 7 July 1916. “Woman and Man”, written in French around the same time and translated into English by the Mother, was never published in either language during her lifetime. “Reminiscences” also appears to have been written first in French and translated subsequently into English, very likely by the Mother herself. The other pieces in this part appear to have been written originally in English. They are among the Mother’s first compositions in the English language. “Impressions of Japan”, dated 9 July 1915, was written in Akakura and published in the form reproduced here in the Modern Review (Calcutta) in January 1918. “The Children of Japan”, an incomplete letter, was written shortly after “Impressions of Japan”, “Myself and My Creed” was written in February 1920. “To the Women of Japan” is undated. It exists in several versions, one of which has been chosen as the principal text; to this, passages from other versions have been added. Part of this talk was published as “To the Women of the World” in the annual Sri Aurobindo Circle of 1947. Some revisions, made by the Mother for this publication, have been included in the present text. A greater portion of the talk was published as “Talk to the Women of Japan” in 1967. The last part of “To the Women of Japan” incorporated passages from Sri Autobindo”s Human Cycle, Synthesis of Yoga, etc. The pieces in this part were published together in English in 1978 as Part 6 ofWords of Long Ago. The same pieces were brought out in French in 1983 as Part 6 ofParoles d’autrefois.

Part 7. The Mother translated and adapted some stories written by F.J. Gould which had been published in his Youth’s Noble Path in 1911. The Mother’s versions, written in French, were first published under the title Belles Histoires in 1946. English translations of the stories were first brought out in 1951 under the title Tales of All Times. These translations were revised for inclusion in Part 7 of the 1978 edition of Words of Long Ago. Several hitherto unpublished stories were translated and added as an appendix to that volume. All the stories were published in the original French in 1983 in Part 7 ofParoles d’autrefois and its appendix.

Book Details

Author: The Mother

Print Length: 303 pages

Publisher: Sri Aurobindo Ashram

Book format: PDF, Online

Language: English

Book Download


Part 1

  • The Path of Later On
  • The Virtues
  • A Sapphire Tale
  • A Leader
  • To Know How to Suffer
  • On Thought
  • On Dreams
  • The Supreme Discovery

Part 2. Meetings

  • 7 May 1912
  • 14 May 1912
  • 21 May 1912
  • 28 May 1912
  • 4 June 1912
  • 11 June 1912
  • 18 June 1912
  • 25 June 1912
  • 2 July 1912

Part 3

  • That Which is Speaking
  • On Thought – Introduction
  • On Thought – II
  • On Thought – III
  • The Central Thought
  • Charity
  • The Divinity Within
  • The Mother and Abdul Baha

Part 4

  • Prayers and Meditations
  • Part 5. Notes and Reflections
  • On the Mysteries of the Ascent towards God
  • Two Parallel Movements
  • Towards the Supreme Light
  • Three Dreams
  • The War

Part 6

  • Woman and the War
  • Woman and Man
  • Impressions of Japan
  • The Children of Japan
  • To the Women of Japan
  • Remembrances
  • Myself and My Creed

Part 7. Tales of all Times

  • One: Self-Control
  • Two: Courage
  • Three: Cheerfulness
  • Four: Self-Reliance
  • Five: Patience and Perseverance
  • Six: The Simple Life
  • Seven: Prudence
  • Eight: Sincerity
  • Nine: Right Judgment
  • Ten: Order
  • Eleven: Building and Destroying


  • Twelve: The Giver
  • Thirteen: The Conquest of Knowledge
  • Fourteen: Modesty
  • Fifteen: The Family
  • Sixteen: Sympathy

Book Sample

Words of Long Ago

To the Women of Japan

For we are living in an exceptional time at an exceptional turning point of the world’s history. Never before, perhaps, did mankind pass through such a dark period of hatred, bloodshed and confusion. And, at the same time, never had such a strong, such an ardent hope awakened in the hearts of the people. Indeed, if we listen to our heart’s voice, we immediately perceive that we are, more or less consciously, waiting for a new reign of justice, of beauty, of harmonious good-will and fraternity. And this seems in complete contradiction with the actual state of the world. But we all know that never is the night so dark as before the dawn. May not this darkness, then, be the sign of an approaching dawn? And as never was night so complete, so terrifying, maybe never will dawn have been so bright, so pure, so illuminating as the coming one…. After the bad dreams of the night the world will awaken to a new consciousness.

The civilisation which is ending now in such a dramatic way was based on the power of mind, mind dealing with matter and life. What it has been to the world, we have not to discuss here. But a new reign is coming, that of the Spirit: after the human, the divine.

Yet, if we have been fortunate enough to live on earth at such a stupendous, a unique time as this one, is it sufficient to stand and watch the unfolding events? All those who feel that their heart extends further than the limits of their own person and family, that their thought embraces more than small personal interests and local conventions, all those, in short, who realise that they belong not to themselves, or to their family, or even to their country, but to God who manifests Himself in all countries, through mankind, these, indeed, know that they must rise and set to work for the sake of humanity, for the advent of the Dawn.

And in this momentous, endless, many-sided work, what can be the part of womanhood? It is true that, as soon as great events and works are in question, the custom is to relegate women to a corner with a smile of patronising contempt which means: this is not your business, poor, feeble, futile creatures…. And women, submissive, childlike, lazy perhaps, have accepted, at least in many countries, this deplorable state of things. I dare to say that they are wrong. In the life of the future, there shall be no more room for such division, such disequilibrium between the masculine and the feminine. The true relation of the two sexes is an equal footing of mutual help and close collaboration. And from now, we must reassume our veritable position, take again our due place and assert our real importance—that of spiritual former and educator. Indeed, some men, perhaps a little vainglorious of their so-called advantages, may despise the apparent weakness of women (although even this exterior weakness is not quite certain) but: “Do what he may, the superman will have to be born of woman all the same”, someone said very rightly.

The superman shall be born of woman, this is a big unquestionable truth; but it is not enough to be proud of this truth, we must clearly understand what it means, become aware of the responsibility it creates, and learn to face earnestly the task which is put before us. This task is precisely our most important share in the present world-wide work.

For that, we must first understand—at least in their broad lines—what are the means by which the present chaos and obscurity can be transformed into light and harmony.

Many means have been suggested: political, social, ethical, even religious…. Indeed, none of these seem sufficient to face with any reliable success the magnitude of the task to be done. Only a new spiritual influx, creating in man a new consciousness, can overcome the enormous mass of difficulties barring the way of the workers. A new spiritual light, a manifestation upon earth of some divine force unknown until now, a Thought of God, new for us, descending into this world and taking a new form here.

And here we come back to our starting point, to our duty of true maternity. For this form meant to manifest the spiritual force capable of transforming the earth’s present conditions, this new form, who is to construct it if not the women?

Thus we see that at this critical period of the world’s life it is no longer sufficient to give birth to a being in whom our highest personal ideal is manifested; we must strive to find out what is the future type, whose advent Nature is planning. It is no longer sufficient to form a man similar to the greatest men we have heard of or known, or even greater, more accomplished and gifted than they; we must strive to come in touch mentally, by the constant aspiration of our thought and will, with the supreme possibility which, exceeding all human measures and features, will give birth to the superman.

Cathegory “The Mother”


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