Publisher: Sri Aurobindo Ashram Publication Department, Pondicherry ISBN: 978-81-7058-036-2
About On the Mother
In this biography of the Mother, published in February 1978, the author presents her life story as the unfolding and manifestation of a profound inner history, and a far-ranging ministry for man and the earth. He delineates how the Mother developed the Ashram as an experiment in collective yoga, established the Centre of Education as a means of preparing the future humanity to receive the new consciousness, and inspired the founding of Auroville as a place to work out the ideal of human unity. Interwoven with these narrative threads are accounts of the Mother's spiritual nurturing of the disciples and the ongoing saga of physical transformation that she undertook to fulfil Sri Aurobindo's yoga.
One would recall Kalidasa, the genius of a poet, having invoked the Supreme Lord, Parameshwara, with His inseparable Power, both as One, for a perfect accomplishment in the creative knowledge of the Word with its Sense, expressing his hesitation and humility while impelled by the temptation to sing the glory of Raghuvamsha: kva surya-prabhavo vamsah kva calpavisaya matih…". What a great contrast, he says, between the splendid glory of the solar dynasty on the one hand and, on the other, his own petty intelligence, roaming around sense-objects! Could he cross an ocean by a tiny boat? Or is it not, rather, a dwarf's vain temptation to pluck a high hanging fruit? And yet, it is due to the irresistible longing of the aspiring poet to ascend to supernal heights, freed in his humility from self-complacency, that we have today amongst our literary treasures the immortal ‘Raghuvamsham' which we may regard as a consequence not only of the venture of Kalidasa but more subtly of the answering Grace flowing through him as inspiration.
A sister sentiment finds its expression in Prof. K. R. Srinivasa Iyengar, when he first set himself to writing On the Mother: "But wouldn't it be like attempting History of Infinity or a biography of Eternity? A ‘Life' of the Mother! What did one know about her except that she was the Mother?" "And yet — why not?" An infant human attempt becomes not only ‘permissible' but even sanctioned by Grace. The first edition of the book appeared in 1952. It was, however, destined to be greatly enlarged and thoroughly revised in two volumes in 1978, the Mother's Birth Centenary Year. The author's personal experience that his ‘formidable task' was completed within a year to become his offering by Grace is more than valuable. His writing becomes for him an occasion to received and feel and see the Mother as revealed to his consciousness: "A unique 95-year human chronicle, a spacious temporal history scooped out of Eternity, an inspiring drama of the flowering of the Divine in the human, a nectarean promise and process and spectacle of the dialectic of integral change and transformation, a decisive evolutionary movement from the brilliant past dawns to the supramental noons of the Future — all this is involved in the recital of the Mother's wonder-story. And the story is yet to be concluded." (p.iv)
The ‘story' certainly is much more than an individual's biography and includes within itself perhaps the agenda of a whole age. Regarding the common biographical details, the Mother's own words decide the whole issue: "Do not ask questions about the details of the material existence of this body; they are in themselves of no interest and must not attract attention." But the most important declaration made by her about her life simply overwhelms: "I have been what the Lord wanted me to be. I have done what the Lord wanted me to do. That alone matters." The narrative that Prof. Iyengar, our reputed author makes of the Mother's ‘story' is much wider than that of the events of her life-career; it comprehends varied dimensions of a richly complex inter-relatedness of external happenings with inner meanings and nature's occult laws and psycho-spiritual significances.
Prof. Iyengar shares his experience with his readers in his ‘Preface': "…it became increasingly clear to me that, not only was the Mother's life-history closely interwoven with Sri Aurobindo's and both with history of Sri Aurobindo Ashram and the lives of its growing number of inmates, but there were also invisible links, correlations and creepers of causal relationship between the Mother's ministry and the evolutionary destiny of man spanning two World Wars and over-flowing into the present, and even pointing towards the far horizons of the Next Future." (p.iv)
Consistently, his presentation of the Mother's ‘wonder story' is delightfully tapestried with significant threads of factual life-events of the Mother, her experiential reminiscences, hints of occult workings of Nature, World-life, progressive development of the Ashram life in consciousness of sadhana, meaningful life-experiences of the inmates, Sri Aurobindo and his Grand Vision of Reality and Life and Future Evolution, closely connected passages from Savitri and other important writings of Sri Aurobindo, interesting references to various other works of many authors, and so on and so forth. One feels there is a rhythm of movement of consciousness permeating the entire narrative that carries the reader into rich and enriching plenitude of the ‘wonder story', and may perhaps make him feel that he too is somewhere there in it, not only to witness, but to receive the touch of the Mother's Love and Light, her Work and her Ministry, her dealings with the Present for the emergence of a New Tomorrow.
All this has rendered to the work an encyclopaedic character, its big size of about a thousand pages being packed with not only well-documented information but inviting significances and bearings. The varied dimensions of the Mother's roles vis-à-vis the Ashram's multifaceted evolutionary growth oriented to a new Age and a divine Future, and also in respect of the world-situations to be subtly conducted towards a new Destiny speak of her immense dynamism inviting to ‘Infinity'. Her life with its missions declared to be inextricably one with Sri Aurobindo's: "Without him, I exist not; Without me, he is unmanifest." To turn to her and to speak of her would necessarily imply calling in Sri Aurobindo, his Vision and Light and Inspiration. To turn to her, again, would imply a subtle insight into the Ashram-life, a comprehension of countless details of its multifarious activities since each activity was charged by her intimate creativity. Hence the essential inevitability of Prof. Iyengar's free and elaborate references to Sri Aurobindo, naturally to the great advantage of the reader.
The book is laid in three Parts: Part One is captioned "Mirra", running in fifteen chapters, spread over the Mother's birth and childhood and education, her explorations into the occult realms of life and her innate spiritual experiences, her artistic flowerings and free and futuristic openings, her subtle contact with the Divine, her ‘Krishna', the mystique of her meeting and recognition of Sri Aurobindo, the launching of the Arya as a powerful instrument of Sri Aurobindo's direct action for the future, her round back to France and her visit to Japan before coming permanently to Pondicherry, the Descent of Krishna, — all a prelude to her rearing and bringing up the Sri Aurobindo Ashram as a great experiment for the emergence of a divine life upon this earth and a new humanity.
Part Two is captioned "Mother", running into twenty chapters. It recounts the Mother's superhuman labour for ‘doing Sri Aurobindo's Work' in establishing and bringing up the Ashram in its life-wide sadhana and all-life Yoga, initiating and conducting its growing multifarious activities, helping and guiding the inner as well as the outer life of the inmates, not only as a whole community organised around high principles and working rules, but even each individual being looked after and guided and inspired into his or her unique self-excellence in every part of the being. ‘Mirra' comes to be revealed now as ‘Miramba', the Sweet and Divine Mother to one and all. Her being, her life, her superhuman capacity and her force, her role and her ministry, guiding and attending to every minute detail of the growing departments and their activities, assume dimensions that would surprise all human intelligence. The reader, while going through these chapters, feels enriched and inspired as if he had been a child in the Ashram receiving the Mother's touch of Grace and Protection. This portion of the book speaks of the period between the years 1926 and 1950, inviting one to the Divine Drama designed to determine the destiny of the Future, with a decisive turn in the ‘Mysterious Sacrifice', Sri Aurobindo's ‘Plunge'.
Part three of the book is captioned "Aditi", running into twenty-five chapters. It presents divine dimensions of the Mother's being and her creative genius, unfathomable in its depths, immeasurable in its size, inconceivable to human mind, unbelievable to customary mentality. This part of the wonder-story pertains to the period after ‘Sri Aurobindo's plunge into the Inconscient' in the year 1950 resulting in his physical absence on the outer scene, recounting projects after projects in the Ashram life promoting futuristic creativity in numerous dimensions. Intellectual, educational, artistic, productive, attitudinal, spiritual disciplines for perfecting all aspects of life were initiated and inspired by the Mother through all such projects, resulting into a very rich heritage that promises a superhuman change of man's life in the world. One feels there have been initiated new movements in consciousness with regard to everything in life, personal or communal or international, all directed to divine perfection and ‘supramental change' which has been declared by Sri Aurobindo as "decreed, inevitable and irresistible", every movement put on wheels by the Mother to insure the Divine Emergence.
At the close of the book is the ‘Epilogue' — ‘The Saga of Transformation'. The remarkable feature of the book is that one might start reading anywhere and, it becomes absorbing, making little demand of acquaintance with what has preceded. The Infinite is infinite at any or every point of its manifestational finitude. While going through it, one feels both fascinated and engrossed in everything related to the Mother. One would marvel at not only the details of events but also at the informational quotations from innumerable sources.
The second edition of the book received the 1980 Sahitya Akademi annual award, for its ‘deep and sensitive insight into a great life, its authenticity, artistic vision and evocative creative language."
Prof. Iyengar's recital of the "yet to be concluded" story, On the Mother induces in the reader a movement in consciousness which may be characterised as ‘On To The Mother'.