The Mother’s Withdrawal – a Talk by M P Pandit

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It was last week that a friend spoke to me of certain mental perplexities that had been created by what happened on the 17th of November, and she desired that I should come at the earliest and share my faith and certitude with you all. Somehow it could not be done earlier, but I have been thinking of friends here and desiring to put certain facts before you all. After all, any event has to be seen in the proper perspective of all that has gone behind it, of the immediate circumstances, no doubt, but also, of the horizons it opens up.

I have to take you back to a casual encounter that I had on the footpath of the main Ashram building some ten years ago. As I was passing, a lady who has grown up here from her very childhood stopped me, and I don’t know what made her ask, “Do you think that the mission of Sri Aurobindo and the Mother will be successful this time?” Spontaneously I replied to her: “What do you mean? It has already succeeded.” She was pleasantly surprised to hear me talk that way, and I explained; this explanation I shall elaborate.

Those of you who have read the writings of Sri Aurobindo and the Mother know that their main objective has been to bring down the Consciousness of the Truth-World — what they call the Supramental Consciousness and Power — on earth. They declared, a hundred times, that their object was to manifest the Truth-Consciousness on earth, fix it on the earth as an operative principle, and enable it to gradually transform human life into a divine life. They pointed out that no other power except the Truth-Power, the Truth-Will, could do it. For thousands of years man has tried to perfect himself, his life and his environment, but has not been able to succeed for the simple reason that every power that he marshalled and put into action happened to be an inferior power – not a power of Truth but a power derived only indirectly from Truth.

In the long course of evolution there have been previous manifestations to bring down from the supernal heights the highest power conceivable in those times, at each evolutionary juncture, and establish it on earth. We know that Rama came to evoke and set in motion the law of the sattvic mind, the enlightened mind. He was followed ages later by Krishna who manifested the Overmind-consciousness and, through it, the delight-consciousness of the Lord. Ages had to elapse before the next step had to be taken; and that was to bring down the vijnāna, the Truth-Consciousness, the Supermind, the Supramental Power, on earth, not as an individual siddhi, which the Vedic sages had done thousands of years ago, but for the entire collectivity – something that could operate as a fixed power on earth, not as an individual realization valid only for the particular individual.

This objective got clarified in Sri Aurobindo only after he came to Pondicherry. He first formulated it, spelt it out, in the Arya. Before the Mother joined him here, the Mother also had spoken of the Divine Consciousness in her Prayers and Meditations. The Mother has never spoken in terms of philosophy, she put it plainly: it is the Divine Consciousness that has to manifest and transform life. So both he and she, in the manifesto that was printed in the Arya, announced that to make a new age possible, to make a perfect life possible, to make a perfect man possible, a new consciousness that has been hitherto unmanifest has to be brought down and made active on earth. It was with that object that the Mother joined him in 1920 and Sri Aurobindo accepted those who felt called upon to accept his ideal and strive for it. You all know how the Ashram came to be started in 1926, on November 24th, when the Overmind-consciousness (originally brought down by Krishna) descended into the physical body of Sri Aurobindo and he felt the need to retire completely to prepare for the next step, to concentrate all his energies and faculties on the next step: to bring down the Truth-Consciousness.

There are letters from 1926 onwards — he kept up con­tact through correspondence from 1926 till 1938, the year he had the unfortunate accident — he carried on correspondence, wrote detailed replies, for eight hours a day during nights; sometime in 1934 or so he says that he is catching the tail of the Supermind. Later he speaks somewhere that it comes and goes; the Mother also has said somewhere that she had seen the Supramental Light coming into Sri Aurobindo, staying there for a while, and then withdrawing. As years went by, their efforts continued. They did not consider anything that happened in the world as irrelevant to their purpose. They paid full attention to cataclysmic events like World War II, the political movements and revolutions in India, as part of the cosmic plan. And they strove.

A situation arose in 1950 or thereabouts when Sri Aurobindo found that the earth conditions were still resistant to the descent of the Supramental Force. If the Supramental Force were to come down at that stage, things would break. We have a hymn in the Veda which speaks of the unbaked jar: unless the jar is baked enough, brought to sufficient consistency and strength, it cannot hold the descent of God; the Rishis speak in symbolic terms. Sri Aurobindo found that physical Matter was not yet ready to hold the descent. It was then that he took a decision, for the genesis of which I have to take you back to the years somewhere between 1923 and 1926. In one of the evening conversations (I do not remember if this particular one has been published) Sri Aurobindo was asked, “Have you conquered death?” He replied, “Even if I take a cup of poison it cannot kill me.”

“That means you can’t die?” someone asked. He answered, “There are only three conditions under which I would leave my body: one, successful completion of my mission; two, it being shown to me that it is not to be this time; three, accident.” Well, by 1950 he saw, it was shown to him, that the final descent was not to be in his body. He took a decision to withdraw.

He had cured innumerable people of so many diseases by his spiritual power, but when disease attacked him in 1950 he refused to cure himself. When one of his attendants asked him, “Sir, why don’t you cure it?” he said, “You will not understand.” He had taken the decision to withdraw but simultaneously — characteristic of his heroism — he decided to make a purposeful sacrifice of his body. As the hour was approaching, he was seen pulling the Power down and down. The Power came down and he laid down his life. That was his sacrifice. No other material vehicle could have received the descent that came that day. And as it penetrated, as it got fixed in his body, the Mind of Light got formed in the Mother; she had an equally developed ādhār. The Mind of Light, as you all know, is the physical mind taken control of by and suffused with the Supramental Consciousness. That was in 1950.

Those of you who were not here at that period can have no idea of the gloom that settled over the Ashram com­munity, the shock that friends and well-wishers all over the world received — totally an unexpected event. But there was the Mother. She assumed control. She radiated the confidence, the faith, the cheer, that revived everyone; and she conveyed the assurance of Sri Aurobindo that he would not leave the earth atmosphere till the Truth-Consciousness was established on earth.

Thereafter, heroically, stoically, the Mother continued the work. And somewhere before 1956 she was confident that that year would see the manifestation of the Supra­mental Consciousness on earth – not in one body or in two bodies, but generally on earth. She said in the New Year Message of that year:

The greatest victories are the least noisy.
The manifestation of a new world is not proclaimed by beat of drum.

But events took her and everyone by surprise. All were sitting for meditation after the Wednesday class, it was the 29th of February. You all have read how, that day, in meditation, the Mother came face to face with a door and, as prophesied in Savitri, she broke open the “dual door” and let in the stream of Truth-Consciousness which flooded the earth. The Mother said privately to some that when she opened her eyes she had expected that by the sheer impact of the descent all the people in the playground would be flat, but she saw, all were packing their bags to go. However, as she said once, she was never disappointed because she never depended on humanity for success in her work. She slaved for humanity, but she did not expect the slightest return. I have seen her at very close quarters; she has never, never complained. She has sympathized, she has tried to help, but never complained of lack of response, lack of support, from anybody. That happened in 1956.

Now the point I want to make is that with the manifesta­tion, the flooding manifestation, of the Truth-Consciousness on earth on the night of February 29th 1956, the declared objective of Sri Aurobindo and the Mother to bring down on earth the Power of the Supramental Consciousness so as to make it form a part of the earth, attainable by anybody who strives for it, was accomplished. Still, the Mother did not announce it. A few days thereafter news got around and, as in confidence, it was passed from one person to another. And when I told the Mother, “Mother has not said anything but the word is going around that the Supramental Con­sciousness has descended,” she didn’t express any surprise but said, “Ah!” It was about then that, for distribution on the 29th of March, an Ashram artist’s painting, “The Golden Purusha,” was printed with a passage from the Prayers and Meditations:

The Lord has willed and Thou dost execute:
A new light shall break upon the earth,
A new world shall be born,
And the things that were announced shall be fulfilled.

Copies had arrived from the press; there were four or five of us present; she took the sheets and, along with other changes in her own hand — I still have my copy as a memento in my room — she turned the future into the present tense:

Lord, Thou hast willed, and I execute:
A new light breaks upon the earth,
A new world is born.
The things that were promised are fulfilled.

That was her answer to our implied question whether it was true. That was a milestone in the evolutionary journey of the earth, the achievement of the prime objective, for which Sri Aurobindo and the Mother had taken birth.

Thereafter it was a question of working it out, of working out the consequences. The main thing was done; she herself explained that once the Supramental was established on earth, thereafter it was a question of extension — larger and larger extensions so as to acclimatize the earth to the vibrations of the Supramental. This work she has been doing since 1956, for the last seventeen years, with many changes taking place in the earth atmosphere.

That very year one could see the repercussions of the descent of the Supramental Power, the Supramental Light, in the international situation. I had recently occasion to meet a senior statesman in India and he told me how from various pieces of information and his own deductions he had anticipated the Suez Canal crisis, the invasion by Britain and France, on the 9th of November, 1956. But certain things happened and the invasion took place on the 2nd of November. He was very much intrigued. So when he came here, while reporting things to the Mother he asked, “I have never been misled in my calculations; why is it that this time things have taken me by surprise?” The Mother smiled and told him, “True, you have taken all things into calculation except one important thing.” Then he asked the Mother what it was. She said, “You have not taken into account the new Force that has come.” Immediately he woke up to the new situation.

Since 1956 no situation that could easily have led previously to a general war has been allowed to develop into a world war situation because of this presence of the Supramental Force of harmony, of unity. A world war, a third world war is impossible. There may be local skirmishes, local battles, on other people’s territories, but a world war is impossible. The very basis of the forces of violence and war has been struck with the establishment of the original Truth of union, harmony, love. A new set-up has been created which enables us to confidently expect the world to move towards One World. This is but one consequence, there are many more. The manifestation of the Supermind has had many results, some are to be stabilised on a collective scale, some to be worked out individually, but all have to be organised.

There is the question of the perfection of the mind, an infallible knowledge; attainment of power which keeps pace with that knowledge; there is the change of human nature into divine nature after which alone the process of trans­formation is possible; there is the consequence of physical or terrestrial immortality. Now all these, mind you, are con­sequences of some central achievement, which have to be worked out slowly, gradually. The Mother said she had once asked Sri Aurobindo, “After the descent of the Supermind how long do you think the process of transformation will take?” Sri Aurobindo looked up and told her, “Perhaps three hundred years.” Now it doesn’t exactly mean three hundred years, it gives an idea of the long period of time that is required. The Mother, while she was recalling this, added, “He said three hundred years, but you know there is something like Grace — anything can take place.” But in her own mind she had no illusions; born fighter that she was, she always set about things with the faith that the things would surely be done.

For her there was no question of changing her human nature into divine nature, which for us is a lifetime pro­gramme. She did not have this question because she had already, during the course of the last fifty or sixty years, seen her human system — I wouldn’t say nature — taking on the divine nature. The process of physical transformation, she has explained, means taking up each cell, persuading it to change, coaxing it to change, exposing it to the force of change; and where it resists, it has a repercussion in the body as a pain which no medicine can cure – one has to endure. There are millions of cells in each body – that was a laborious and a patient process which she was undergoing. Nobody seriously expected that the entire process of trans­formation could be telescoped within a few years, barring, of course, a miracle; but the Mother’s way was never to work in miracles or to make her time-table in terms of miracles.

Side by side with her effort from here, from below, of the transformation of the various cells in her body step by step, work was going on from above. Sri Aurobindo, according to his promise, had been working. A new body was under formation, the supramental body, in which she was to take her embodiment as the end-result of the transformation of this body. The body was being prepared. She gave in “Notes on the Way” descriptions of this body, described how it looked. And about a year ago she told someone, “I am trying to fuse this material body into that body but I have not been able to get the clue.” She said, “Nobody on earth has tried this, the secret is not given to me.” On that point, she said, there was no help from above. She was searching.

Thereafter — if I would be right in taking you into confidence — one day it flashed into me that as soon as that luminous body was ready, the Mother would just walk into it without dying; “without dying” means not necessarily keeping the body, but without the gap in consciousness; keeping up the continuity of the personality she would just cross into that luminous body. It just flashed, and the way it came I thought it was something more than just an idea; I noted it down in my diary. I looked it up the other day, it was dated the 24th of July 1973. I did not think it wise to speak of it to people except in my closest circle, which I did. And there­after one of the friends from here came to me and asked, “Why is it that for the first time I could detect a different note in your talk the other day in answer to questions regarding Mother?” I did not know what to reply but I told him the way in which my mind was working.

Then on the morning of 17th November at about nine o’clock, a particular friend of mine — he has certain grounding in occult experience, occult knowledge, and normally when we meet, we exchange notes — told me, “I have seen The Mother’s body of light.” I got interested. He said, “The new body is full of light but it is not yet dense enough to function in the earth conditions. It is there, and as I was looking at it I got the feeling that the Mother would enter this body the moment it became dense enough to stand and function in the earth atmosphere, seen or unseen. But there is no question of revival of the material body.” And he added, “Those who are capable of seeing the Mother’s halo, aura, they will be able to see that luminous body.” It confirmed what I had perceived some four months earlier; I told him as much.

That evening at 7.25 p.m., as you all know, the Mother withdrew from her body. They say the cause was heart failure, but let me tell you the heart failure was not the cause, the heart failure was the result of her withdrawal. She had decided; the moment things were ready, she walked into that body.

She has not passed away, she has just changed her body. Not changed in the manner of the Gita – soul changing bodies – but consciously; keeping the full personality she has gone into that body. And, as it was revealed to me on that day, she will function in that body, work through those instruments who are open to her, expedite the remaining work — the working out of the consequences — but her activity will not be confined to the Ashram or to Auroville; for her the whole world is her ashram. As I was led to put it on radio the next day, “The sea of Love that is the Mother swells into an ocean”: not a perception, not an idea, not an image, but an experience.

I am sure all of you feel her Presence. You can’t feel the presence of a dead person as you feel hers. Do you feel any panic in the Ashram atmosphere? Can you imagine two thousand people who have lost their leader breathing this peace, this calm? Is there grief? Of course there is a certain pang of physical separation, but she is there. Thousands of visitors who came afterwards have told us, “We were sad, we were grief-struck, we did not know what to do. We took whatever was available without thinking of the timings­ plane, train, bus, car.” They arrived and they said that within half an hour or one hour of their arrival their grief was completely taken away. They felt that it was worth coming, that she is here, she is not gone; “she is here” does not mean she is in the Ashram only but she is on earth.

Sri Aurobindo is there, the Mother has assured us, in the subtle-physical world in his supramental body waiting for the conditions under which alone he can manifest on earth; we do not know when. That body cannot function on earth till the earth substance has been changed. The Mother’s body, the body that she has assumed, is nearer the earth. She is going to be the bridge between Sri Aurobindo’s supramental body in the subtle-physical world and this material world. In Savitri, Sri Aurobindo says of the Mother:

She is the golden bridge, the wonderful fire.

Well, she is the bridge; she is the bridge for all that is to come from above, for all of us who are loyal to her and who owe it to her to devote every minute of our lives to the achievement of her ideal, to the perfection that she has desired of us. The only way in which we can repay our debt of gratitude to her for what she has done for us is to let her live in us, to let her manifest in ourselves — each in his own way.

She is there looming over the whole world. And for those of us who are open to her, who have love for her, who have devotion for her, these act like magnets to which her consciousness, her love, her force, come pouring down in floods. Keep that connection. Have a loving thought for her; think of her with love. Cheerfully, gratefully, joyfully, keep yourself at the disposal of the Mother’s Consciousness. For her there is no death.

I remember how on the Mother’s birthday, the 21st of February, 1973, when I met her, in the course of a few words that I had with her, I said on a spontaneous impulse, “If by taking my life thy physical life can be prolonged by a day, please take it.” She in-drew for a moment, held my hand and said, “Life is eternal.”

She lived in eternity. She did not and does not live only in earthly space and time. There was always a different dimension to her life and function. She once told some­one — one of the workers like me — “If I say something now please don’t quote it against me half an hour hence because within that half an hour I will have gone five hundred miles ahead.” That was years ago. That way she gave us a glimpse into her real personality. I was watching one day as someone was talking to her, and she said, “But don’t you see that only the part that belongs to this universe is here!” You know what she meant, there is no need for me to emphasize her supernatural aspects to you all. You all have faith in her, believe in her, but I mention this as something which you would love to know, it’s not to prove anything to you.

The Mother was a spiritual pragmatist par excellence: I claim to be a spiritual rationalist. I accept nothing unless it meets the demands of common sense, as much of common sense as I am gifted with. And I assure you, after thirty-five years of stay and service at the Mother’s feet, I am proud to tell you that she never, never asked me to accept anything only on faith. If I asked anything — not only I but anyone — she would explain as to a child; she would suspend everything and as if we had the whole of eternity before us, she would start explaining. She never denied an explanation either of her actions or of her words.

There is no problem for one who understands the Mother, who has understood her personality. The teaching is great, the masters have been great, there is no question of success or failure, it is a discharge of their mission, the mission with which they were sent here: they have done it. For seventeen years things have been spreading out all over the world, and that will continue. Each one of us, however, has a responsibility to keep up the great Ideal of perfection of life, transformation of human life into a divine life, embodiment of the Truth-Consciousness in however small a degree in the most developed part of us. More I do not say at this moment.

 

Questions

Q: In “Notes on the Way” and other sources the Mother often spoke of her body and the possibility of the physical transformation; now it has been said that her body was of the old creation and was never meant to be the transformed body. This has created quite a bit of confusion.

A: Well, I know what you mean. It was some years ago, before 1958, when the Mother was still going to the play­ground and holding classes, that she said that a body born in the normal way (what is normal at present) would have a normal end; secondly, a body born in the normal sexual way could not become supramental proper. A supramental body will have to come from above. What can be done with the human body is that it can be brought up to the level of the Superman, but not the Supramental Being straight away.

The stage of complete supramentalization is far, far ahead.

The word “transformation” has a big content, even physical immortality is not central to it; it is only a con­sequence of complete transformation. Sri Aurobindo gave very little importance to this immortality. He said all that is needed is conquest over death, freedom to keep or shed the body when one wants to change.

The Mother knew very well that in the normal process the complete transformation of the body was problematic. But she always put forth an unknown factor: Grace, the Supreme’s Will which brooks no opposition, which doesn’t care for our laws, processes; so that provision was always there.

 

Q: If we cannot reach the supramental body, those of us who are born in the usual way, what then is the function and what is the goal of humanity?

A: To arrive at our highest possible perfection. By arriving at our highest perfection we are opening the possibility of the intermediate race, the race of superman. That intermediate race, the superman, will prepare the field in which the supramental beings will manifest. How they will take birth is a secret that Nature or Supernature has not yet revealed to us.

. . . For us to arrive at the highest possible state of perfection means: first, psychicization — to bring the psychic being within ourselves to the front of our nature, let it govern all our movements of body, life and mind; then, extension, cosmicization, universalization of our consciousness — so that the heart-beats of the world can be felt in us; thereafter, spiritualization — above the mind, all the manifest levels of consciousness have to be scaled and normalised in us. After these three are done to their maximum — psychicization, universalization and spiritualization — after all these three processes are complete, then only can you say man has arrived at the highest possible perfection normally open to him. Thereafter arises the prospect of supramentalization and its farther consequence of transformation.

M.P.Pandit