Every human activity, including the Sciences and the Arts, trace their origin to some celestial deity, according to the Indian mythology. There is a subtle truth to it when we look at the cosmogony of creation. Today we take up one such branch, that is mathematics, especially with reference to the number twelve.
Words of Sri Aurobindo
I have frequently been thinking of the Mother’s symbol (chakra) and its significance.
I have understood it as follows:
Central circle—Transcendental power. Four inner petals—Four powers working from the Supermind to Overmind. Twelve outer petals—Division of four into twelve powers from Overmind to Intuition and mind.
Is my conception at all tenable?
Essentially (in general principle) the 12 powers are the vibrations that are necessary for the complete manifestation. These are the 12 seen from the beginning above the Mother’s head. Thus there are really 12 rays from the sun, not 7, 12 planets etc. As to the exact interpretation of the detail of the powers, I see nothing against the arrangement you have made. It can stand very well.
15 April 1934
Words of the Mother
1— The One
2— Decision for Creation
3— Beginning of Creation
8— Occult Formation
9— Power of Static Fulfilment
10— Power of Expression
12— Perfect Manifestation Stabilised
1— The Origin
2— Appearance of the Creative Consciousness
6— New Creation
8— Double Enclosure (protection from inner and outer enemies)
9— New Birth
12— Double Perfection (spiritual and material)
CWM, First Edition, 15: 37-40
* * *
(Mother refers back to the last conversation, where she spoke of her different stages of development.)
I have seen that the different stages of my development occurred in twelve-year periods, though I don’t recall the exact dates. The first period, from the age of five (I can’t start earlier than five!) to about eighteen, dealt with consciousness. Then came all the artistic and vital development, culminating in the occult development with Théon (I met Théon around 1905 or ’06, I think. Then right around this time an intensive mental development began – from 1908 to 1920, or a little before; but it was especially intense before coming here in 1914.
And 1920 marked the beginning of full development. Not spiritual development – that had been going on from the very start – but ACTION, the action with Sri Aurobindo. That was clearly from 1920 on; I had met Sri Aurobindo earlier, but it really began in 1920.
And the realization of the inner Divine?
The dates … I am no good at dates! And I don’t have any papers left to give me precise details. But the realization of the inner Divine must have been in 1911, because that’s when I started writing my Meditations. But since my earliest childhood, you know, this presence was always there, with an initial emphasis on consciousness, then on the vital and aesthetics, then on the mind … and culminating here, in 1920, with action.
From 1911 or ’12, up to 1914, there was the whole series of inner experiences, psychic experiences, preparing me to meet Sri Aurobindo (so this ran parallel to my mental development).
In practice, these periods overlap, but approximately every twelve years a particular type of development predominated, in this order: consciousness first, then the vital (mainly from the aesthetic point of view, but a study of sensations as well), then the mind, then spiritual realization. And in between the vital and mental phases came the brief period of occultism, serving both as a transition and a basis for spiritual development.
July 28, 1962
* * *
You understand, I am supposed to keep squatting for two hours over those blessed scribblings (concerning a kind of tantric sadhana advised by the disciple’s tantric guru).
But tell me, couldn’t you be allowed to do that sitting on a chair, at a table?
I don’t know.
Why not? It doesn’t occur to him because he’s used to sitting and writing on the ground. It’s the same as if I thought it impossible to meditate unless I sat cross-legged and bolt upright! … Fortunately, I lived with Sri Aurobindo, who never used to sit cross-legged. He told me right away that it was all a question of habits – subconscious habits. It has no importance whatsoever. And how well he explained: if a posture is necessary for you, it will come by itself. And it’s perfectly true, for instance, that when necessary, the body will suddenly sit up straight – it comes spontaneously. As he said, the important thing is not the external frame but the inner experience, and if there is a physical necessity and your inner experience is entirely sincere, that physical necessity will come ALL BY ITSELF. This is something I am absolutely sure of. And he gave me his own example (I had mine, too) of certain things considered dangerous or bad, which we both did independently and spontaneously, and which were a great help to us! Consequently, all those stories of posture and so on are the petty mechanical bounds of the human mind.
It came to me while I was walking [for the japa]. I had a kind of vision of you squatting askew and writing. And I thought, “But that’s awful! He’ll ruin his health!”
What is needed is to have the inner attitude.
Well, precisely, the inner attitude … I kind this new work empty and mechanical.
Don’t you feel the words you write?
They’re figures. Figures and one Sanskrit letter. But you can’t say there’s much soul in figures, can you?
Will you show it to me? I’d like to see.
I’ll write it for you.
(S. draws the Tantric diagram he has been instructed to do 72 times a day for three times 72 days. It is a square divided into 9 smaller squares which contain figures and one Sanskrit letter. The first thing Mother does is to add up all the figures.)
Did you add them up? No? Whatever way you do it, it adds up to 72…. 9 is the figure of birth.
It should be done 72 times for 72 days, and three times over.
And 72, that means 7 + 2, or 9.
(Mother remains concentrated)
It is clearly taken as a symbol of the gestation of the new birth, the second birth, the divine birth. That’s certain. He said 72 days?
Three times 72 days…. A little more than eight months, that is.
That’s it. It’s … ([laughing! I’ve just asked him!) it’s the work of gestation for the birth of the divine consciousness.
And 7 (7 and 2) is interesting. 7 is the realization; 2 is dual: a dual realization. If you put both together, you get the figure of gestation.
You see, Mahalakshmi is the Divine Mother’s aspect of love, the perfection of manifested love, which must come before this supreme Love (which is beyond the Manifestation and the Nonmanifestation) can be expressed – the supreme Love referred to in Savitri when the Supreme sends Savitri to the earth:
For ever love, O beautiful slave of God! (Savitri: 702)
It’s to prepare the earth to receive the Supreme’s manifestation, the manifestation of His Victory.
Seen in that way, it becomes clear – comprehensible, and comprehensive, too: it has a content.
(Mother suddenly points to a piece of paper on the table beside her, on which the figure 8 is written)
Did you notice this figure?… There’s a line in Savitri (I can’t quote exactly): “Wherever Nature is, He (the Supreme) too is there, for, in truth, He and She are one.” I was asked to find an illustration for this line, and I found the 8.
The drawing starts here (Mother draws the first half of the 8): it’s the Supreme leaning forward. Then, Nature in its base, Nature in sleep (the base of the 8). And here (the top of the 8), I put two little drawings (as if to symbolize an eye, a nose and a mouth) to evoke the summit of consciousness. So the Supreme is leaning forward like this and Nature rises like this (Mother draws the second half of the 8). All this (the top of the 8) is golden, then it becomes prismatic (the middle of the 8), and deep blue here (the base of the 8), in the most material part of the creation, and the blue becomes lighter and lighter (going upward again), and finally golden. Perpetually.
Eight is the symbol of infinity for mathematicians (oo).
Exactly. It’s very interesting.
(Then Mother considers one by one the various figures of the Tantric diagram:)
4 is the figure of the Manifestation (the square is the figure of the Manifestation). So here you have the manifestation of the Infinite: 4 + 8 = 12.
6 is the figure of the creation.
12 is the perfection of the creation: perfect creation.
30 is … The 3 is Sachchidananda and the 30 its external expression (because 10 means something expressed). So 30 is the manifestation of Sachchidananda.
Thus we have first 6, then 12 (a perfection of manifestation), then 30, the manifestation of Sachchidananda, and 48, the manifestation of the Infinite. You see, it’s beginning to come alive!
Afterwards comes 42: it’s the dual manifestation, that is to say, the Supreme and Nature.
Then 18 … The 10 (unless it’s 12 … 12 is two times 6; also 10 plus 2, but that has another meaning), but the 10 in itself is something established (the 11 is something beginning, while the 10 is something established). So if you have 18, it means that the Infinite is established.
Then 36, which is 3 times 12: it’s the union of 30 (Sachchidananda) and 6, the creation.
The 12 is the figure of the Mahashakti. It’s the essential creation, the creation in its essence – the creative Power. And perfection, too: the perfection in the execution. The 12 is a very important figure (24 is two times 12, and 36, three times).
48 is four times 12. It’s an extremely important figure. Extremely important.
And finally, we have 9 here: gestation. Gestation in Matter – not on the heights: here, physically.
(Mother begins drawing herself the diagram with the figures and the Sanskrit mantra.)
Now, it has life, you understand. It has life. And it’s the correct drawing, I mean it should be a square (not a rectangle as you did), a square divided into nine smaller squares. It is the image of the realization (not realization – gestation), the birth of Mahalakshmi’s consciousness in Matter, that is to say, the form of divine love in Matter.
(Mother pores over the diagram for a long time. It should be noted that the figures of the diagram must be read and written in a particular order to have their full power.)
Oh, there’s a music!
(Mother starts humming the music or the vibration which has come to her and corresponds to the diagram and the birth of Mahalakshmi’s consciousness in Matter.)
Another point is unclear: after 30, do you go here or there?
After 30 it’s 48, then 42….
(Mother starts humming again)
There, mon petit. Now I would advise you to take a comfortable chair, a table on which you can write comfortably, put it before you and get on with it!
It’s a pity we can’t note the music down.
(Mother hums again)
But it’s full of meaning, it vibrates with meaning!
I am not positive, but when he gave you this diagram, had he had in himself the conscious meaning, he would have passed it on to you…. I have a feeling he is more like a scholar. He has perhaps more of an impression than an understanding.
But where does the significance of figures come from?
The deeper significance of figures … There are countless traditions, countless scriptures … which I took great care not to follow. But the deeper significance of figures came to me in Tlemcen, when I was in the Overmind. I don’t remember the names Théon used to give to those various worlds, but it was a world that corresponded to the highest and most luminous regions of Sri Aurobindo’s Overmind. It was above, just above the gods’ region. And it was something in accord with the Overmind creation – the earth under the gods’ influence. That was where figures took on a living meaning for me – not a mental speculation: a living meaning. That was where Madame Théon recognized me, because of the formation of twelve pearls she saw above my head; and she told me, “You are that because you have this. Only that can have this!” (Mother laughs) It hadn’t even remotely occurred to me, thank God!
But figures are alive for me. They have a concrete reality.
And this (the diagram) is meant to prepare for the “second birth” mentioned in the Vedas, the spiritual birth. Through it one becomes a complete being, consciously complete.
Of course, it’s the beginning of realization. But for many people it’s the ultimate term.
* * *
Thus we have twelve worlds: violet, red, blue (the Mind’s three blues), yellow, then the Overmind’s prismatic colors, which makes five lower worlds, then finally the three golds of the Supermind and the four whites of the supreme creative Joy or Ananda.
* * *
Madame Théon was the first to tell me what I was, what she saw: the crown of twelve pearls over the head. As for me, I had the experience of it, after which I could simply use it at will: I just had to summon it. And I would see it just as I see you, in a perfectly objective way.
* * *
Last time I told you I was looking for the twelve attributes (Mother takes out a sheet of paper). Here they are, someone found this.
Sincerity, Humility, Gratitude, Perseverance
Aspiration, Receptivity, Progress, Courage
Goodness, Generosity, Equanimity, Peace
The first eight concern the attitude towards the Divine, and the last four towards humanity.
And we also found a text from Sri Aurobindo (with a colored chart of the twelve petals):
Centre and four powers, white. The twelve all of different color in three groups: top group red, passing to orange towards yellow. Next group, yellow passing through green towards blue. And third group, blue passing through violet towards red. If white is not convenient, the center may be gold (powder).
January 19, 1972
* * *
The center is gold.
But what did you need these twelve attributes for?
They’re going to build twelve rooms around the Matrimandir, at ground level, and R. wanted each room to have a name: one of the twelve attributes of the Mother, and the corresponding color.
[Mother later ordered the list of the twelve powers or “qualities” in the following sequence: Sincerity, Humility, Gratitude, Perseverance, Aspiration, Receptivity, Progress, Courage, Goodness, Generosity, Equanimity, Peace.]
March 20, 1934