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At the Feet of The Mother

The Momentous Meeting (HH 114)

Nolini Kanta Gupta recalls

‘When it first came to be bruited about that a Great Lady like this was to come and live close to us, we were faced with a problem: how should we behave? Should there be a change in our manners? For we had been accustomed to a bohemian sort of life, we dressed and talked, slept and ate and moved about in a free unfettered style, in a manner that would not quite pass in civilised society. Nevertheless, it was finally agreed that we should stick as far as possible to our old ways even under the new circumstances, for why should we permit our freedom and ease to be compromised or lost? This indeed is the way in which the arrogance and ignorance of man assert the glory of his individuality!’

* * *


Amrita writes

‘The upper storey—its verandah, to be exact—was somewhat beautified. One old cracked table, two arm-chairs, four or five folding armless chairs with back-rest—these were borrowed and arranged there, luckily with no binding to return them. Moreover, four electric lights were put up, one in Sri Aurobindo’s room, another in the centre of the upper verandah, the third in the verandah downstairs, the fourth I do not remember where. There was no electric metre in the house. For each point the charge was one rupee and four annas per month. Whether the lights were kept burning or not, five rupees had to be paid and the charge would be the same even if they were kept on through all the twenty-four hours…

‘The weeds in the courtyard were pulled out. Daily sweeping of the house was now attended to. The house was put on almost a gay appearance because of these much-needed changes.’

* * *


Purani notes

‘During this year [1914] the Mother used to come to Sri Aurobindo’s house every day between 4 and 4.30 P.M. She brought sweets prepared from coconut. Moni and Nolini and others used to go to play football at five o’clock. The Mother used to prepare cocoa for Sri Aurobindo. Paul Richard used to come up and join them.

‘Every Sunday there was a standing invitation to Sri Aurobindo and all the members of the house to have dinner at the Mother’s house. Sri Aurobindo used to go to the Mother’s house (which was very near) at about 4.30 in the afternoon. The other members of the household joined after coming from the football ground. The talk used to be prolonged up to nine or ten at night.’

Mirra bid an emotional adieu to her house and her beloved belongings. On 3 March 1914 she noted in her spiritual diary: ‘As the day of departure draws near, I enter into a kind of self-communion; I turn with a fond solemnity towards all those thousand little nothings around us which have silently, for so many years, played their role of faithful friends; I thank them gratefully for all the charm they were able to give to the outer side of our life; I wish that if they are destined to pass into other hands than ours for any length of time, these hands may be gentle to them and know all the respect that is due to what Thy divine Love, O Lord, has brought out from the dark inconscience of chaos.

‘Then I turn towards the future and my gaze becomes even more solemn still. What it holds in store for us I do not know nor care to know; outer circumstances have no importance at all; my only wish is that this may be for us the beginning of a new inner period in which, more detached from material things, we could be more conscious of Thy law and more one-pointedly consecrated to its manifestation; that it may be a period of greater light, greater love, of a more perfect dedication to Thy cause. ‘In silent adoration I contemplate Thee…’

Two interesting incidents took place during this sea-voyage. The first incident has already been discussed in detail in one of the earlier chapters of this book. At Cairo she paid a visit to the museum where the toiletries of the Egyptian Queen Hatshepsut were displayed. Quite spontaneously she exclaimed that the objects were arranged badly and not at all the way she used to arrange them. It was only after she left the museum that she realized that she knew about the precise arrangements of the toiletries because she herself was Queen Hatshepsut.

‘We had to go down a few steps to this lounge… all the men had… put on their jackets, stiff collars, leather shoes; neckties well set, hats on their heads, and they went with a book under their arm, almost in a procession from the deck to the lounge. The ladies wore their hats, some carried even a parasol, and they too had their book under the arm, a prayer-book. And so they all crowded down into the lounge, and the Presbyterian made a speech, that is to say, preached his sermon, and everybody listened very religiously. And then, when it was over, they all came up again with the satisfied air of someone who has done his duty. And, of course, five minutes later they were in the bar drinking and playing cards, and their religious ceremony was forgotten. They had done their duty, it was over, there was nothing more to be said about it.’

On 27 March the Richards arrived at Colombo where they spent a day and visited Dharmapal, the noted Buddhist monk. The next day, on 28th, they set their feet on the soil of India at Dhanushkodi, boarded the Boat Mail train and after changing trains at Villupuram, arrived at Pondicherry in the morning of 29 March. They took a room in a hotel named Hôtel d ‘Europe situated in Rue Suffren Street.

I climbed the staircase and he was standing there, waiting for me at the top of the stairs: exactly my vision! Dressed the same way, in the same position, in profile, his head held high. He turned his head towards me and I saw in his eyes that it was He.’

‘I sat down near him and he began talking with Richard, about the world, yoga, the future—all kinds of things—what was going to happen (he already knew the war would break out; this was 1914, war broke out in August, and he knew it towards the end of March or early April). So the two of them talked and talked and talked—great speculations. It didn’t interest me in the least, I didn’t listen.

I was just sitting there, not listening. I don’t know how long they went on, but all at once I felt a great Force come into me—a peace, a silence, something massive! It came, did this (Mother sweeps her hand across her forehead), descended and stopped here (gesture at the chest). When they finished talking, I got up and left. And then I noticed that not a thought remained—I no longer knew anything or understood anything. I was absolutely BLANK. So I gave thanks to the Lord and thanked Sri Aurobindo in my heart.

‘And I was very careful not to disturb it; I held it like that for I don’t know how long, eight or ten days. Nothing—not one idea, not one thought, nothing—a complete BLANK. In other words, from the outside, it must have looked like total idiocy.

….as a proof of Sri Aurobindo’s power it’s incomparable! I don’t believe there has ever been an example of such a (how can I put it?)… such a total success: a miracle. It has NEVER left me… And it was he who did it, entirely. I didn’t even ask him, there was no aspiration, nothing… But on that day I hadn’t mentioned it to him, I wasn’t thinking about it, I wasn’t doing anything—just sitting there. And outwardly he seemed to be fully engrossed in his conversation about this and that and what was going to happen in the world…

‘It’s fantastic! It was stupendous! Truly we can say that only the Lord can do such a thing, He alone. Without the slightest effort, without even seeming to… he didn’t even seem to concentrate, nothing, just like that.’

And on 30 March she wrote: ‘In the presence of those who are integrally Thy servitors, those who have attained the perfect consciousness of Thy presence, I become aware that I am still far, very far from what I yearn to realise; and I know that the highest I can conceive, the noblest and purest is still dark and ignorant beside what I should conceive. But this perception, far from being depressing, stimulates and strengthens the aspiration, the energy, the will to triumph over all obstacles so as to be at last identified with Thy law and Thy work…

‘It matters little that there are thousands of beings plunged in the densest ignorance, He whom we saw yesterday is on earth; his presence is enough to prove that a day will come when darkness shall be transformed into light, and Thy reign shall be indeed established upon earth.

And again on 1 April: ‘I feel we have entered the very heart of Thy sanctuary and grown aware of Thy very will. A great joy, a deep peace reign in me, and yet all my inner constructions have vanished like a vain dream and I find myself now, before Thy immensity, without a frame or system, like a being not yet individualised. All the past in its external form seems ridiculously arbitrary to me, and yet I know it was useful in its own time.

‘But now all is changed: a new stage has begun.’

And finally on 3 April: ‘It seems to me that I am being born to a new life and all the methods, the habits of the past can no longer be of any use. It seems to me that what I thought were results is nothing more than a preparation. I feel as though I have done nothing yet, as though I have not lived the spiritual life, only entered the path that leads to it, it seems to me that I know nothing, that I am incapable of formulating anything, that all experience is yet to begin. It is as though I were stripped of my entire past, of its errors as well as its conquests, as though all that has vanished and made room for a new-born child whose whole existence is yet to be lived, who has no Karma, no experience to learn from, but no error either which has to be set right. My head is empty of all knowledge and all certitude, but also of all vain thought. I feel that if I learn how to surrender without any resistance to this state, if I do not try to know or understand, if I consent to be completely like an ignorant and candid child, some new possibility will open before me. I know that I must now definitively give myself up and be like an absolutely blank page on which Thy thought, Thy will, O Lord, can be inscribed freely without danger of any deformation.

….several years later Aurobindo told his younger brother Barindra Kumar that he had never seen an instance of absolute surrender until he had seen Mirra. ‘In Her he saw the complete surrender down to the very cells of the body, and thus he was convinced that now the time had come for the Supramental to manifest.’5 Nolini Kanta Gupta observes:

‘[Sri Aurobindo] had added a comment that perhaps it was only women who were capable of giving themselves so entirely and with such sovereign ease. This implies a complete obliteration of the past, erasing it with its virtues and faults…

Another observation that Aurobindo made just after meeting Mirra for the first time was that Mirra was ‘born free.’

She was apprehensive that her dream of establishing the Kingdom of Heaven on earth would, like previous efforts, fail but Aurobindo assured her: “This time it will not be so.” She further says while reminiscing about her first meeting with the Krishna of her dreams: ‘… I shall relate an experience of mine when I first met Sri Aurobindo in Pondicherry. I was in deep concentration, seeing things in the Supermind, things that were to be but which were somehow not manifesting. I told Sri Aurobindo what I had seen and asked him if they would manifest. He simply said, “Yes.” And immediately I saw that the Supramental had touched the earth and was beginning to be realised! This was the first time I had witnessed the power to make real what is true: it is the very same power that will bring about realisation in you of the truth when you come in all sincerity, saying, “This falsehood I want to get rid of”, and the answer which you get is “Yes.”’

And Aurobindo, on his part, felt relieved because at last there was someone who understood the true nature of the Yoga he was doing and also ‘to break his solitary tête-à-tête with the six-or seven-thousand-year-old Vedas. Oh yes, I know! exclaimed Mother, laughing, when He first told her about the supramental creation. I have seen it up there!’ Mirra was referring to her experiences that she had while she was staying at Tlemcen. And she, on realizing that the new world would be created through the joint efforts of Aurobindo and herself, wrote in her diary on 14 June 1914:

‘It is a veritable work of creation we have to do: to create activities, new modes of being so that this Force, unknown to the earth till today, may manifest in its plenitude. To this travail I am consecrated, O Lord, for this is what Thou wantest of me. But since Thou hast appointed me for this work, Thou must give me the means, that is, the knowledge necessary for its realisation. We shall unite our efforts: the entire individual being will concentrate in a constant call for the knowledge of the mode of manifestation of this Force, and Thou, supreme centre of the being, Thou wilt emanate the Force fully so that it may penetrate, transfigure and overcome all obstacles. It is a pact Thou hast signed with the worlds of individual life. Thou hast made a promise, Thou hast sent into these worlds those who can and that which can fulfil this promise. This now demands Thy integral help so that what has been promised may be realised.

‘In us must take place the union of the two wills and two currents, so that from their contact may spring forth the illuminating spark.

‘And since this must be done, this will be done.’

‘Identification with the Divine Mother, even in outer consciousness.’

‘Plunge into matter.’

The first question she had asked Aurobindo was: ‘Should one do one’s yoga and reach the goal and then later take up the work with others or should one immediately let all those who have the same aspiration come to him and go forward all together towards the goal?’

‘Well, the decision was not at all a mental choice; it came spontaneously. The circumstances were such that there was no choice; that is, quite naturally, spontaneously, the group was formed in such a way that it became an imperious necessity. And so once we have started like that, it is finished, we have to go to the end like that.’

Mirra’s second query to Aurobindo was about samadhi, the state which marks the union of the consciousness with the Divine Consciousness. ‘“What do you think of samadhi, that state of trance one does not remember? One enters into a condition which seems blissful, but when one comes out of it, one does not know at all what has happened?” Then he looked at me, saw what I meant and told me, “It is unconsciousness.”

This explains how Mirra, as the Mother, could reach her followers in different countries whenever they called her for help; her body used to become still but not in trance (as claimed by her), ‘I can be sitting and, even in the middle of a gesture, suddenly become immobile for a few seconds.’ But she would stress on the fact that it wasn’t quite necessary to have all those experiences. ‘Sri Aurobindo told me he had never really entered the unconsciousness of samadhi—for him, these domains were unconscious; he would sit on his bed or in his armchair and have all the experiences. Naturally, it’s preferable to be in a comfortable position (it’s a question of security). If you venture to do these kinds of things standing up, for instance, as I have seen them done, it’s dangerous. But if one is quietly stretched out, there is no need for trance.’

Another question that Mirra had put to Aurobindo was that why was she so mediocre? ‘“Everything I do is mediocre, all my realizations are mediocre, there’s never anything remarkable or exceptional—it’s just average. It isn’t low, but it’s not high either—everything is average.” And that’s really how I felt. I painted: it wasn’t bad painting, but many others could do as well. I played music: it wasn’t bad music, but you couldn’t say, “Oh, what a musical genius!” I wrote: it was perfectly ordinary. My thoughts slightly excelled those of my friends, but nothing exceptional; I had no special gift for philosophy or whatever. Everything I did was like that: my body had its skills, but nothing fantastic; I wasn’t ugly, I wasn’t beautiful … you see, everything was mediocre, mediocre, mediocre, mediocre. Then he told me, “It was indispensable.”

“Why am I, as an individual being, so mediocre? I can do anything; all that I have tried to do I have done, but never in a superior way: always like this (gesture to an average level).” Then he answered me (at the time I took it as a kindness or commiseration), “That’s because it gives great suppleness— a great suppleness and a vast scope; because people who have perfection in one field are concentrated and specialized.” As I said, I took it simply as a caress to comfort a child. But now I realize that the most important thing is not to have any fixity: nothing should be set, definitive, like the sense of a perfection in the realization— that means a dead stop in the march forward. The sense of incapacity (with the meaning I said of mediocrity, of something by no means exceptional) leaves you in a sort of expectation (gesture of aspiration upward) of something better. So then, the most important thing is suppleness… Suppleness and breadth: reject nothing as useless or bad or inferior— nothing; set nothing up as really superior and beautiful— nothing. Remain ever open, ever open.’

It’s amusing: all the mental constructions men have tried to live and realize on earth come to me, like this, from every side, to be ordered, clarified, put in their own place, arranged, organized, synthesized. So all those supposedly “great” problems come to me, and immediately there is an indulgent smile, as at a child’s fumblings; but not at all with a sense of superiority, nothing like that, there’s only the feeling that an instrument is used that cannot solve the problem. And a kind of certainty, deep down in Matter, that the solution lies THERE – this is very strong, very strong. Oh, what fuss, what fuss, how vainly you have tried! – go deep enough within, stay quiet enough, and then THAT will be. And you cannot understand it: it only has to BE.

You cannot understand it, because you are using instruments that cannot understand. But it cannot be understood: it has to BE.

When you are that, then you will be it, that’s all, there won’t be any more problem.

And all this is down there, at ground level.

But all the great Schools, the great Ideas, the great Realizations, the great … and then the religions – that’s still lower down; all of it, oh, what childishness!

And that wisdom! … It’s an almost cellular wisdom (it’s odd). For instance, I was looking at the relationship I had with all those great beings of the Overmind and higher, the perfectly objective and very familiar relationship I had with all those beings and the inner perception of being the eternal Mother – all that is very well, but for me it’s almost ancient history! The me that exists now is HERE, it’s at ground level, in the body; it’s the body, it’s Matter; it’s at ground level; and to tell the truth, it doesn’t care much about the intervention of all those beings … who ultimately know nothing at all! They don’t know the true problem: they live in a place where there are no problems. They don’t know the true problem – the true problem is here.

It’s an amused way of looking at religions and all the gods the way you would look at … they are like theater performances. They’re pastimes; but that’s not what can teach you to know yourself, not at all, not at all!

You must go right down to the bottom.

And it is this, this descent to the very bottom, in search of … but it isn’t an unknown, it isn’t an unknown – a bursting (it really is like a bursting), that marvelous bursting of the Vibration of Love; that is … it is the memory. And the effort is to turn it into an active reality.

Maybe that feeling of threat is the expression of the resistance and ill will of all that doesn’t want to change – it’s possible. It’s possible. There is everything that doesn’t want to change, all that exists only through and for the Falsehood, and doesn’t want things to change. It’s like those sudden pains in the body, if you look at them, you always see something black, a sort of black thread or black dot – it’s something that is unwilling: “I don’t want any of it! I don’t want things to change, I am ATTACHED to my Falsehood.” So the threat may be from everything that doesn’t want to change.

Ultimately, we just have to smile. And one day, it will have to change anyway – we’ll have given it enough time, we have given it enough rein, no?

We shouldn’t take them seriously: they may shout, they may protest, they may grumble, they may threaten, they may play all sorts of nasty tricks on us – they last only a time, and when their time is up, it’ll be over, that’s all. We only have to last longer than they do, that’s all.

That makes our outer position clear. Many people think we are trying to establish a “new religion” or that we are against this or that religion; there are many ideas like that everywhere. But that doesn’t interest us at all! Those are all the human activities in every form – they are approximations.

All human hopes are approximations, all human realizations are approximations: it’s something that tries, that tries to express what isn’t expressible yet – we don’t have the means to express it.

And it’s precisely in order to create those means that we are endeavoring to enlighten consciousnesses.

The possibility is inside, very deep inside, but it’s still asleep.


Feb 6, 2015

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