"I belong to no nation, no civilization, no society, no race, but to the Divine. I obey no master, no rules, 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." - The Mother
Early years of the Mother
Mirra Alfassa, more popular as ‘The Mother’, was born on the 21st of February, 1878, in Paris. She was the first Westerner to become an Indian Guru; worshipped by the Indians as a reincarnation of the Divine Mother herself. She was born to Maurice Alfassa, a banker and Mathidle Ismaloun. Her family was non-religious but she began experiencing spiritual bliss and spell right from the age of five. Her mother found this behavior of Mirra Alfassa very embarrassing. Between the age of 11 and 13, The Mother experienced a sequence of spiritual and psychic experiences.
Mother’s early education was at home; she learnt drawing and painting at a studio in 1892 and later studied at Paris Salon. The Mother was a talented painter and musician. In her late twenties, she traveled to Tlemcen, Algeria and studied occultism from a Polish adept. She returned to Paris in 1906 and worked with various spiritual groups and started giving speeches between 1911 and 1913.
When ‘The Mother’ turned 36, she traveled to Pondicherry, India to meet Sri Aurobindo. She got to know of Sri Aurobindo from her friend Alexandria David-Neel who had visited him in 1912. In 1914 The Mother traveled to Pondicherry with her husband to visit Sri Aurobindo. Once she saw him, she realized that he was her mentor whom she has envisioned in her earlier visions and made up her mind to work with him for the rest of her life. She lived in Pondicherry for eleven months and traveled back to France owing to the First World War.
The Mother at Pondicherry
The Mother returned to Pondicherry in 1920 and lived there the rest of her life. Sri Aurobindo believed that she was the reincarnation of the Divine Mother and thus named her ‘The Mother’. The Divine Mother is considered to be the feminine aspect (creative energy) of the Divine consciousness and spirit.
Growing number of disciples for Sri Aurobindo led to the birth of the Sri Aurobindo Ashram in 1926. The Mother, as Sri Autrobindo’s ‘Shakthi’ helped in organizing the ever increasing number of followers. From the beginning, The Mother was entrusted the material and spiritual charges of the Ashram. She lived here until she was 95; she left her body on 17th November 1973.
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The Mother set up the ‘Sri Aurobindo international centre for education’ in 1952 - this was established to fulfill the wish of Sri Aurobindo in providing a new class of education for the Indian youth. This education centre proved to be a boon for children who came to seek shelter in ashram along with their parents during World War II. The Indian Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru extended complete support for this cause. The Mother founded the International township project of Auroville in 1968, showcasing collective living of all communities.
The Mother wore saris as Sri Aurobindo encouraged her in doing so, her collection included 500 saris. She was once offered Rs. 1, 00,000 for one sari that she wore; this prompted her to sell and distribute all her saris and jewelry to raise funds for the ashram after the Master’s Samadhi. The Mother attached spiritual significance to flowers and presented them to her disciples when they visited her.
Works of The Mother
A lot of work by The Mother has been published. The list includes:
Overview of Works by the Mother: Quotations taken from introductions to the works in ‘Collected Works of the Mother’.
Prayers and Meditations: Prayers and meditations selected by the Mother from her diaries of 1912 to 1919. The Mother says of them, "This book is meant for those who aspire for an utter consecration to the Divine."
Words of Long Ago: This volume contains works by the Mother before she settled in Pondicherry in 1920.
Questions and Answers: The Mother met with disciples over the years, sometimes after meditation, sometimes for more structured talks and classes. Many of the questions and answers were copied down. These form a large and important portion of the Mother's detailed instructions on the spiritual life.
On Thoughts and Aphorisms: The Mother's commentaries on Sri Aurobindo's Thoughts and Aphorisms given over the twelve year period extending from 1958 to 1970.
The Agenda: The Mother had conversations in French with Satprem during the period 1961:1973. These were tape:recorded and subsequently transcribed. The work of translating them into English still continues. The Agenda forms an important part of the published words of the Mother during this period, and is regarded by many as a key to her later spiritual work.
Notebook on Evolution (compilation): An anonymous, selected compilation of the words of the Mother on transformation, taken from The Agenda.
On the Dhammapada: From August 1957 to September 1958, in a weekly class with the children of the Ashram school, the Mother read from and commented on the Buddhist teachings as contained in the Dhammapada. The Mother based her commentaries on a French translation of the Pali text. The commentaries, given in French, were tape-recorded at the time.
Notes on the Way: Volume 11 of ‘The Mother's Collected Works’. Comprises conversations of the transformation of the body, documenting Mother's own experiences from the years 1961 - 1973. This is an unparalleled account of the actual process of supramentalisation and the transformation of the physical body.
On Education: Volume 12 of ‘The Mother's Collected Works’ contains the Mother's articles and talks on education. Many first appeared in the Bulletin of Sri Aurobindo International Centre of Education.