Organiser Home > 2004 Issues > March 21, 04 Woman of Substance From Mira Alfassa to The Mother of Aurobindo Ashram —Preeti
“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 intelligent.” —Sri Aurobindo
India is that divine nation which shows the path to salvation. No matter who the person is and to which country he or she belongs, it is India which takes one towards Divine Consciousness. Akin are the holy experiences of the divine and astonishing Mother, Shri Maa.
THE MOTHER: The Mother was born as Mira Alfassa, in Paris on February 21, 1878. She belonged to the royal dynasty of Faroa. Her father, Maurice Alfassa, was a wealthy Turkish banker from Adrianopolis and her mother, Mathilda Ismaloun, came from Cairo. A year before her birth, her parents settled in France—a nation that was then the fountainhead of Western culture. As a child she was named Mira Alfassa, with initials ‘MA’. Right since her birth she got the identity of the Mother.
EARLY SPIRITUAL LIFE: Mira Alfassa was a sensitive, thoughtful and solemn child. She once told her mother, “I have to bear the pain of the whole world.” Concerning her early spiritual life, the Mother has written: “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.” She got troubled by a question, “Why is this world like this? Where is our origin?” She had her own library at home of about 800 books. She read them all but none satisfied her quest. Mira Alfassa took interest in everything but was especially fond of music and painting. She grew up in Paris, the metropolis of the great painters of Impressionism. It was the time of Matisse, Manet, Cezanne, and Mira lived and moved in this rich and creative cultural milieu. At the age of sixteen, she joined one of the biggest studios in Paris to learn drawing and painting. She had completed her studies at the Ecole des Beaux Arts and some of her paintings were exhibited at the Salon. She also became a gifted musician. The dramatic society, Kaumudi Frances invited her. She was an ardent student of mathematics too.
THE YOUTH: In her late twenties, Mira Alfassa voyaged to Tlemcen, Algeria, where she studied occultism for two years from a Polish adept, Max Theon, and his wife. In 1905, she started a society, ‘Boddu Vichar’ for the people hungry for spiritual realisation. At a young age, she married an artist Shri Mauris and gave birth to a child Andre. She practised her sadhna and continued to study. Returning to Paris in 1906, she founded her first group of spiritual seekers. She often got busy in spiritual discussions initiated by the ‘Cosmic’ organisation, which she founded. By the year 1910, she got so engrossed in spiritualism that it became difficult for her to carry on the married life with Shri Mauris. At last, she got legally separated from him. Later, Mira Alfassa married Richard Paul. She gave many talks to various groups in Paris between 1911 and 1913. At the age of thirty-six, she journeyed with her husband to Pondicherry, India, to meet Shri Aurobindo. She met him on March 29, 1914 and at once recognised him as the one who for many years had inwardly been guiding her spiritual development. On their first meeting, an unusual relation was established between the two—one, an exquisite preacher and the other an exquisite novice. Mira Alfassa devoted herself totally in the holy feet of Shri Aurobindo.
SRI AUROBINDO is my preacher: Mira Alfassa in her spiritual quest in Pondicherry worked with Shri Aurobindo in taking the Divine Consciousness to the material plain. She stressed on man’s collaboration with the Divine to establish everlasting joy, peace and harmony on Earth. Mother has told us to strive for perfection in our work, thoughts and action. She said, “All depends upon your will and sincerity. If you have the will no more to belong to the ordinary humanity, no more to the merely evolved animals, if your will is to become men of the new race realising Sri Aurobindo’s ideal, living a new and higher life upon a new earth you will find all the necessary help to achieve your purpose.” The future of the earth depends upon the change in consciousness. “The only hope for the future depends in change of man’s consciousness and the change is bound to come. But it is left to men to decide if they will collaborate for this change or if it will have to be enforced upon them by the power of crashing circumstances. So, wake up and collaborate.” In 1914, Mira Alfassa, Richard and Sri Aurobindo organised a group with the name, ‘New Idea’. They also started publishing a monthly, Aarya, on August 15, 1914 (birthday of Sri Aurobindo), which was edited by three of them. Mira Alfassa’s spiritual powers developed notably during this period. She believed in praying on behalf of the whole world. Staying there for eleven months, she was obliged to return to France because of the First World War. She lived in France for about a year and then in Japan for almost four years.On April 24, 1920, she returned to Pondicherry to resume her collaboration with Sri Aurobindo and remained there for the rest of her life. At that time a small group of disciples had gathered around Sri Aurobindo.
FROM MIRA TO MOTHER: The increase of disciples led to the founding of the Sri Aurobindo Ashram on November 24, 1926. From the beginning, Sri Aurobindo gave Mira the name of the Mother and entrusted her with full material and spiritual charge of the Ashram. On December 5, 1950, Shri Aurobindo left his body. Standing alone at his feet, Mother saw him going. She felt some divine light entering from his body into hers and urging her to carry on with the sacred work. After almost 50 years of work at every level, the Mother left her body on November 17, 1973, at the age of ninety-five. The Divine Mother once said: “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 a sacrifice, for all is a perfect delight.”
Today, Sri Aurobindo Ashram is known as a great centre of spiritual learning. People from all over the world come to Pondicherry in South India, to bathe in an atmosphere full of peace, light and joy, to live a life of sadhana and yoga, to see how spirituality can embrace and perfect life. And the word they hear the most in the Ashram is ‘The Mother’. Her devotees believe that everything is her creation; everything draws inspiration from her and moves towards her.