“After I Knew that God was a Woman” – Nolini-da comments on Sri Aurobindo’s Aphorism No 411

We find that in Sri Aurobindo’s Thoughts and Aphorisms, in the section on “Bhakti”, there is the following aphorism which may sound a little mysterious if not downright provocative:

“After I knew that God was a woman, I learned something from far-off about love; but it was only when I became a woman and served my Master and Paramour that I knew love utterly.” Aphorism 411, CWSA 12 – 481

At least it provoked someone to ask the Mother this question, which appears on page 330 of Volume 10 of the Collected Works of the Mother: What does Sri Aurobindo mean…when he says: “After I knew that God was a woman…”?

The Mother had replied:

“I cannot answer because, while he was in his body, he never told me anything about this. If anyone knows the exact date on which he wrote this, it might be an indication. Perhaps N could tell you when this was written, or whether Sri Aurobindo told him anything about it.”

I thought the N referred to by the Mother must surely be Nolini-da. So one day I read out just the aphorism to him and asked him what it meant. In response the usual Silence greeted me. I reminded him that it was the Mother who had actually suggested that one may ask N, and that I believed that he himself must be that knowledgeable N who was now trying to behave in an elusive manner. I then admonished him that if he chose to disregard the Mother’s choice…well…I would certainly leave him to his fate, unperturbed in his incommunicableness. (One could really take quite a few cheeky liberties of this kind with him, to our own and even to his delight too.)

Now the silence was broken with “…the meaning is very clear…” This did not help much, but I chose not to pursue the matter further.

However, in the evening when I returned and when nobody else was around, Nolini-da, without any word of introduction, went straight to the point, to the heart of the matter, one may say; without much ado this is how he began:

“You see, the Vedantic experience is essentially a masculine experience: Brahman is Anandamaya but not Premamaya. The masculine experience goes up to the level of the heart, up to even the soft and subtle emotions of the heart. But that is not Love. The origin of Love is from a centre behind the heart. In this universe the possibility of Love begins with the Parashakti—The Divine Mother. In this sense Sri Aurobindo is referring to the coming of the Mother here and the fusion of Her experience with His.”

There followed a few moments of silence and then:

“Of course Mother knew what He meant; She was only being modest. She just wanted to know if Sri Aurobindo had spoken about it some time.”

Silence again. After this, any further word or elaboration or elucidation would have only been redundant. I have deliberately used quotation marks in the passages above because, although I had heard them only once, the power of these words was such that they have remained permanently etched in my memory. I have just repeated his words verbatim.


[ Narrated by Matriprasad]

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