The date 17th November 1973 is a significant date in the history of the Sri Aurobindo Ashram, Pondicherry. The day carries the sense of a divine mystery that is beyond the reach of the human mind subject to its yardsticks and measures. When Sri Aurobindo withdrew from the limits of our sight, the Mother’s physical presence ensured that the loss was not felt. But the Mother’s physical withdrawal created a gap that could not be and cannot be filled in by anyone. However great a disciple may be, he or she cannot equal the Avatar. Even if he embodies some of the qualities or aspects of their divine nature, yet there is a difference between the conscious descent of the Divine upon earth, the Divine become human in the phenomenon of the Avatar and the human gradually transmuting into the divine through the normal evolutionary process.
On the outer surface level, it is the day of the Mother’s Mahasamadhi, the day when She withdrew from the material scene or more correctly from the limits of our sight into the secrecy of a divine silence that few if any could pierce. Of course, She always remains accessible to those who have turned to Her for Help, Protection and Grace. Those blessed with the aspiration for the Divine Life, the seekers of their soul, continue to receive all the Help and Support from Her for their journey. Those distressed and in difficulties continue to receive response to their prayers including miraculous instantaneous interventions of Her Grace completely changing the course of events in a most unexpected manner. These are not experiences of one or two persons here and there but of quite a good number of people cutting across different sections of humanity. In other words, nothing has changed practically as far as the practice of yoga is concerned. In a certain sense their ‘apparent physical absence’ has only intensified the soul’s aspiration to find the inner Presence. It does happen that when the Master is physically present, we connect more with the human persona than with the Divine Person within. Though, with Sri Aurobindo and the Mother even their outer life including their very physical appearance and outer personality itself radiated rays of divinity. None who had their darshan even for a moment, none upon whom they had set their gaze, none who had received their touch in anyway could ever forget the divinity shown in every gesture and action. And yet they often reminded us that the Divine Presence must first be found within. Their body was a help, a concrete help given to our sense bound humanity. But the necessity of discovering the Divine Master, the Lord, the Mother within remains a fundamental necessity.
If we take both these facts, – for both are facts in their own domain, the outer fact of physical departure of the Mother and the inner fact of her Help, Protection, Love and Grace, even sudden interventions, let alone devotees who see her in their inner vision and feel her guidance then we can draw only one logical conclusion. It is this that Sri Aurobindo and the Mother have worked out things in such a way that the yoga itself does not depend upon their physical presence in an earthly body. This of course is not new. The help and intervention of past Avatars is very much experienced by their devotees way beyond their physical departure. It is a fact of inner life to which a number of yogis stand in testimony. Of course, there is another line of thought and spiritual experience where the physical presence of the Master is considered mandatory or even indispensable for spiritual progress. But there are other lines of spiritual development where the disciples draw inspiration from the ever-living Presence as well as the Word of the Scripture given by the Master. Where the Scripture is not given but only few methods, techniques and anecdotes there perhaps the physical presence is more insisted upon. But the greater truth always remains that the Divine is seated in the heart of creatures and whoever calls Him by whatsoever name and through whatsoever form finds a response. The true Master has become one with the Divine within and hence his action continues even after he seems to withdraw outwardly.
Yet there is a purpose and meaning in the Divine assuming a physical body. It is to transform matter. The physical presence of the embodied Divine is necessary mainly to accelerate the process of physical transformation that has anyways got initiated by the supramental manifestation and the touch of their feet upon earthly soil. But for the rest nothing has changed unless we let our physical mind bound to the senses to draw its own hasty conclusions which the facts of spiritual life do not support. The spiritual life has always been primarily inner and it is this inner discovery that extends into the outer and changes it.
Even as they withdrew, Sri Aurobindo and the Mother went many steps further to ensure the continuity of the work of terrestrial transformation that they had initiated. They did what they had promised, that is to say, establishing the Supramental Consciousness as the new evolutionary principle, the New Force to facilitate the divine manifestation carrying it one step further beyond the mind and mental man. More than that, such as for example the transformation of the human body into a divine body was always foreseen as a last inevitable consequence.
But since the journey is long spanning through a couple of lifetimes to say the least, they ensured that we have all that we would need for the long unprecedented Journey. These are their gifts and acts of compassion, the kind of which is unparalleled in the spiritual history of mankind. These gifts and help through outward means, – the inner is always there and accessible to anyone who sincerely aspires for the yoga of transformation, include the wonderful body of luminous words, each a marvellous scripture in its own right. Together these works running through several volumes (35 for Sri Aurobindo and 31 for the Mother, apart from various others writings not included in their Collected Works) touch upon each every facet of human existence, life and yoga from every possible angle leaving only certain details to be worked out through evolution in real time for each individual and group life. The other invaluable gift is the creation of spaces that are charged with the Supramental vibration and their divine atmosphere to facilitate our progress in the yoga. Additionally, they have given to man their photographs where something of their occult presence is embedded, materials used and charged by their consciousness, several books and photographs with their signatures carrying something of their force through them, the Mother’s music and blessings in countless little ways to touch and transform our lives. And of course, the scripture of scriptures Savitri whose vibrations are unparalleled in vastness and range of spiritual legacy in the history of spiritual movements. They knew that time is needed and equipped us fully for the long journey.
Let us close with these luminous words, which emphasize the need for the inner contact and inner nearness that one can have anywhere and everywhere if one cares to discover and foster it:
‘If one has the close inner relation, one feels the Mother always near and within and round and there is no insistence on the closer physical relation for its own sake. Those who have not this, should aspire for it and not hanker after the other. If they get the outer closeness, they will find that it means nothing without the inner oneness and closeness. One may be physically near the Mother and yet as far from her as the Sahara desert.’ [Sri Aurobindo, CWSA 32:495]
‘It is a great mistake to think that physical nearness is the one thing indispensable for the progress. It will do nothing for you if you do not establish the inner contact, for without that you could remain from morning to night with me and yet you will never truly meet me. It is only by the inner opening and contact that you can realise my presence.’ [The Mother, CWM 13:79]