The Mantra of Life was discovered by the Mother during her Algeria days, 1905-07, when Théon was giving her instructions in occultism. He wanted her to reveal it to him, but she refused. Later she gave to Sri Aurobindo. When did this happen? We do not know. There is an indirect allusion to it in one of Sri Aurobindo’s talks in 1926. But when did she actually give it to Sri Aurobindo, during her first visit 1914-15 or after 1920 when she came here and settled permanently? Perhaps this happened sometime during 1920-26. Well, here is one of the tasks cut out for the authentic historians dealing with many lives of the Master. In fact the aspect of Sri Aurobindo as an occultist has remained quite unexplored. But let us get back to the Mantra of Life and the mystery of Death. To begin with I’m reproducing in the following the relevant part from my book Sri Aurobindo and the New Millennium.
The problem of death is an existential problem and not an essential problem. Yet its origin lies beyond the immediate scope of life of which death is an aspect. It is a perfectly valid perception that death is in the midst of life. In other words, the problem of death gets shifted to the modus and organisation of life in the purpose of its appearance in this inconscience of existence. Talking about the twofold mystery of what we witness as birth and death Sri Aurobindo tells us:
Birth is the first spiritual mystery of the physical universe, death is the second which gives its double point of perplexity to the mystery of birth; for life, which would otherwise be a self-evident fact of existence, becomes itself a mystery by virtue of these two which seem to be its beginning and its end and yet in a thousand ways betray themselves as neither of these things, but rather intermediate stages in an occult processus of life. At first sight birth might seem to be a constant outburst of life in a general death, a persistent circumstance in the universal lifelessness of Matter. On a closer examination it begins to be more probable that life is something involved in Matter or even an inherent power of the Energy that creates matter, but able to appear only when it gets the necessary conditions for the affirmation of its characteristic phenomena and for an appropriate self-organisation. But in the birth of life there is something more that participates in the emergence, -- there is an element which is no longer material, a strong upsurging of some flame of soul, a first evident vibration of the spirit. (The Life Divine, p. 742)
Explaining earlier about the fundamental necessity of the nature and object of embodied life seeking infinite experience on a finite basis, Sri Aurobindo said that for this to happen "change of form is essential" which means that there has to be the dissolution of the body. In it is the occult indispensability and justification of Death.
Therefore death is presently a habit, a bad habit as the Mother says, and habits can be changed. A new law of the material nature to allow the infinite of the Infinity to emerge can dispense with death as a mechanism for it to be achieved.
If death is but a minor though not a very happy means of immortality, immortality itself proves to be insufficient in the scale of possibilities of the infinite unfolding infinitely. When the question was raised to this effect, Sri Aurobindo clarified it as follows:
What is vital is the supramental change of consciousness—conquest of death is something minor and… the last physical result of it, not the first result of all or the most important—a thing to be added to complete the whole, not the one thing needed and essential. To put it first is to reverse all spiritual values. (Letters on Yoga, p. 1233)
In response to the invocation of this Yogi par excellence the supreme, She accepts the mortal birth, takes the human form, mānuşim tanum as the Gita would say. There is no doubt that this human form is full of defects and it is subject to decay and disintegration, and the way a worn-out garment is discarded, vāsānsi jīrņāni yathā vihāya, so is this worn-out body abandoned, śarīrāņi vihāya jīrņāni. But it is precisely to change this indignity of the human body that Savitri accepts the travail, the time-condemned mortality. That rare being comes, á la Wordsworth, from somewhere else:
The soul that rises with us, our life's Star, Hath had elsewhere its setting And cometh from afar.
In the case of Savitri, absolute indeed is that 'afar'—and is altogether beyond our ken.
Yes, she is human but in that humanity of hers awaits the hour of God. At the same time she is challenged and told that she, the frail priestess of imagination, should not attempt that dubious and imaginary thing, of bringing together the two irreconcilable opposites, Spirit and Matter. And yet the truth of God has to surprise human life. But for that to happen Darkness must see God's living Reality. It does not. Therefore Savitri waits for the Word that in its command, and in its conquering Force, she may deal with dire Death.
I hail thee almighty and victorious Death, Thou grandiose Darkness of the Infinite. O Void that makest room for all to be, Hunger that gnawest at the universe… Live, Death, awhile, be still my instrument… But now, O timeless Mightiness, stand aside And leave the path of my incarnate Force.
Death remains unconvinced. She commanded him and every aspect of his existence and every part of his being succumbed to her enormous will:
He called to Night but she fell shuddering back, He called to hell but sullenly it retired: He turned to the Inconscient for support, From which he was born, his vast sustaining self: It drew him back towards boundless vacancy As if by himself to swallow up himself: He called to his strength, but it refused his call… Afar he fled shunning her dreaded touch And refuge took in the retreating Night.
Death is no more there now, but that does not automatically mean that the Everlasting Day has dawned. One who had assumed the form of Death is the Giver of that Boon and Savitri has to receive it directly from him. Dismissing Death, or dismissing the contingent aspect of Death of the Supreme, she has paved the path for manifestation of the divinity of life upon the Earth.
During the last phase of her work, of the physical transformation, the Mother speaks of the body having the experience of "dying without dying". This perhaps means that even in the event of death there is no dispersal of the physical. The body itself could appreciate the gain and hence could feel immortally happy. That is a tremendous progress indeed and it can be said that body's diffidence towards transformation is effectively removed. The Mother makes it explicit:
"The physical is capable of receiving the higher Light, the Truth, the true Consciousness and of manifesting it."
We should particularly notice the emphasis she adds to the aspect of manifestation in this entire sequel. And this knowledge of hers makes such an advance that she has now left everything to the Will of her Lord who will do whatever is needed to be done, she having put herself in his hands totally:
Without Thee it is death; with Thee it is life. By "death" I do not mean physical death -- it may be so; it may be that now if I lost the contact, that would be the end, but it is impossible! I have a feeling that it is… that I am That.
In her experience of 1 July 1970, the Mother narrates the role of the psychic being in the abolition of death presently holding its sway in the evolutionary process. To paraphrase:
It is the psychic being which will materialise itself and become the supramental being… The psychic being materialises itself and it is that which gives continuity to evolution. This creation gives altogether the feeling that there is nothing arbitrary, there is a kind of divine logic behind it… And it is precisely the psychic that survives. So, if it materialises itself, it means the abolition of death.
In the material world the immortality of the physical therefore means the materialisation of the psychic being. This can happen only in the evolutionary process and not in the typal worlds, not even in the transcendental worlds of Truth and Consciousness and Bliss. The clue to the materialisation of the psychic being was not available to the ancient seekers of immortality and the kind of immortality they had obtained was the immortality of the liberated spirit. When it comes to the physical-terrestrial it is the psychic that has to fully enter in.
This also would mean that if we are not concerned with the physical base of life at all, then that life cannot really change. To speak in a certain rhetorical way, we may as well say that that base of life is not quite the concern of immortality but is of death. It is death who will move it, take it towards physical transformation. That indeed seems to be the very raison d'être of its appearance here, a kind of a heavenly logic that knows what it is up to. What was being forced in a negative way by Death until now will have accomplished its purpose and it shall hand over the charge of its work to the affirmative agency of the Spirit in the felicity of interminable progress even in the march of Time. Transformation in the sense of the awareness of the manifesting Divine even in the cellular degree is the thrust of this entire creative delight. That also means that physical immortality is not just for the sake of its continuity without decay, disintegration, death. Psychisised matter will make matter grow, make it more and more an instrument for the manifestation of grades and grades of immortality, of light, beauty, peace, sweetness, joy, power, harmony in the sunlight of its presence. In it shall be the opening of possibilities of supramental manifestation. Immortality is indeed for this manifestation and not for its own sake. That is perhaps the greatest mystery concealed in the process of death. ~ RYD Reply