If we are to formulate a satisfying answer, we must set the enigma itself in its proper terms. These terms can only be as follows: “Sri Aurobindo willed — and his willing was in tune with the nature of the Supramental Avatarhood — that from their assumed human bodies a centre would result of a supramentalised physicality for the supramentalisation first of a few of their children and finally of all humanity. He focused his vision of such a centre in the Mother. Now that she has made her exit without actualising his vision, how will she yet manage, as she must, to be in a divine body amongst us to continue carrying the travail of evolution towards the grand finale prophesied by Sri Aurobindo? And what, after her exit at the age of ninety-five, should we understand by fulfilment not in a later age but in the present time?”
Our statement has two “posers”: to adopt Sri Aurobindo’s own brief categories for the original plan, “the question is as to the when and how.” The challenge of the “when” can be immediately met. By the present time, the “now”, we have to understand the period which would have been covered by the progress of the Mother’s body if, animated more and more by the Supermind, it had persisted on earth in its originally planned course of concentrated evolution towards the supramental completeness. How long would that period be? The Mother has reported Sri Aurobindo as saying that perhaps three hundred years would be needed for the complete transformation of the body. She has also expressed her own feeling that it might take longer but an intense speeding-up of the supramental action may keep the time within the lower limit. So we cannot calculate in terms of less than three centuries. The oblique and paradoxical yet authentic success we have to attribute to the Mother must be allowed this time-span to realise itself. With the Supermind as her guard, her life could have been prolonged to that stretch for the full realisation. Logically, we cannot insist on a smaller stretch for the novel “how” of her fulfilment.
All the same, we may not rule out a shorter duration by virtue of the very novelty involved. Who knows if, just to avoid those three centuries which were the inevitable minimum under the old dispensation, she has struck out a new path which may seem to us a plunge into darkness but is actually a streak of light too rarefied for us to see until it issues once more into our common day? Should we not have faith that she would never do anything except for our advantage — that is, for the purpose of bringing about the Life Divine for us by means of her pioneering fulfilment?
The question would yet remain: “In what form is this fulfilment to be now conceived?” There are only two modes of conceiving it.
One is with reference to the “new body” which the Mother spoke of on several occasions as existing in the subtle-physical plane and acting upon the body in the gross-physical with a view to emerge into it and materially manifest a corps glorieux, “a body of glory”, a divinely radiant form. The gross-physical, in order to effectuate the emergence in it of the new body, would have to get transformed to a high degree. Transformation must imply the assumption of the central difficulties of corporeal life and the conquest over them. The tendency to age, to deteriorate in faculties, to grow weak, to harbour the process of decay and run the risk of death — this tendency had to be faced in right earnest and then conquered. The Mother, in her ninety-fifth year, stood evenly balanced, as it were: the difficulties of the human condition were sufficiently borne and the power to prevent them from becoming dominant was in enough exercise but there seemed to be a standstill, a kind of stalemate.
We have to say “seemed” because the Supramental Avatar holds by the right of a direct transcendent origin, the capacity to counter and annul all cosmic laws. The Mother could have brought that capacity into play and moved forward, but the reversal of the problem she had admitted into herself — the problem of “this mortal coil”, the tumultuous trouble of the human condition — would probably have taken an inordinate length of time — very much past what would be advantageous to her children. In response to a sudden call from the Truth above and to the hidden requirement of the World-Play, she consented to the dissolution of a body whose cells where passing through the sublime suffering of a radical recast under the Supermind’s pressure. The Transcendent, that was her own highest Self, overruled in the interests of His earth-creatures His own planned triumph in a chosen vehicle.
The sole course open to the Mother was to let fall the body she had worn so long and so carefully prepared. This would mean letting someone else’s body in the future achieve the fundamental Aurobindonian goal of changing evolutionarily into a divine one. Since both she and Sri Aurobindo had basically sought the supramentalisation of others, such a shift-over of achievement was altogether welcome. But none could be supramentalised without the dynamism of the Avatar who had descended from the Supermind to give supramentalisation to the world: either the Mother or Sri Aurobindo had to be the instrument for the divinisation of earth-creatures. This was the proviso of their very mission. Long ago — on April 20, 1935 — Sri Aurobindo laid down the terms of his work: “I have no intention of achieving the Supermind for myself only — I am not doing anything for myself… If I am seeking after supramentalisation, it is because it is a thing that has to be done for the earth-consciousness and if it is not done in myself, it cannot be done in others…” Sri Aurobindo’s supramentalisation was the sine qua non. And when he left his body, it could not be done in others if it was not done in the Mother whom he had elected as a compact field for his victory. When she left her body, the need still held for a centre which somehow or other would not be different from herself. Someone else’s body would naturally have to be divinised now instead of her own, but the proviso of their mission would be satisfied only if to divinise someone else’s body she yet worked from a poise on the earth itself. That poise would be indispensable to the pioneering Avatar-spirits that she and Sri Aurobindo were. Hence the question confronting the Mother in her ninety-fifth year of Supramental Avatarhood was: how, while obeying the Transcendent Will and giving up the body she had entered nearly a century before, was she to establish an earth-poise of divinising power?
We can reach an understanding of her answer through an insight into the transformation she was undergoing. On the one side the transformation was meant to render the gross-physical form increasingly subtle by the action of the subtle-physical Supramental Shape, so that it might be fit to house the latter. On the other side the transformation was meant to render this Shape increasingly dense by the reaction on it of the gross-physical form, so that it might be fit to be housed in the materially visible and tangible. Embracing the decision of the Transcendent, the Mother appears to have abandoned further subtlising or supramentalising the dense stuff of her evolutionary frame and to have concentrated on drawing up into this frame’s non-evolutionary counterpart — into the subtle-physical Supramental Shape — the conscious essence of whatever subtlisation the dense evolutionary substance had acquired. By means of such a drawing up, she endowed the non-evolutionary counterpart with some of the “virtue” of the dense matter that had been passing through the transformative travail. The deathless Light proper to the new body waiting behind the scene took on an extra density and, when the old body gave itself up to death, the extra-densified new one got charged with the sense of the other’s function and was pulled towards the materially visible and tangible, as if it were henceforth meant to stand not beyond but right over the frontier between its own world and ours.
The Mother we were familiar with is now the new secret body, a superhuman ensheathing. Such a transference from the old body is nothing inconceivable. She actually had the experience, on March 24, 1972, of living as the new body with a continuity of consciousness from the old. She says: “I had a body altogether new in the sense that it was sexless… It was very white… It was very slim (gesture of slenderness) — it was pretty. Truly a harmonious form… I was like that, I had become like that… It was quite natural…” At the time of the transference the old body had not been dropped: it had just been kept aside. Now it has been allowed to dissolve, and the Mother has only a divine ensheathing. But she has assimilated into it all the attainments of the dissolved sheath in terms of “body-mind” and thereby brought it closer to our longing human arms than it ever could be without the assimilation of those attainments. A veritable Goddess, the Mother is yet within concrete reach of us — we have only to stretch our arms more intensely ripae ulterioris amore, “with love of the other shore”, to get the Truth-touch we need for our integral Godward growth. The greater proximity of this compassionate Perfection to our body’s soulful cry is what the Mother has accomplished through the apparent withdrawal from us that was her death.
With its greater proximity comes a greater force to carry us towards the Supramental goal. But this proximity is not the whole aim of the Mother’s strategy. The earth-poise the Avatar of the Supermind must have in order to supramentalise earth is no more than approached by the proximity. It has yet to be fully realised. And the extra-densified new body has the power to realise it in full. To obtain that power for this body was the final victory won by the Mother. The new body’s extra density provides the Mother with the possibility of materialising that body and making it visible and tangible, a supreme Presence in our midst to bring about our evolutionary completion.
But, just as the Mother’s sadhana before her passing away was linked with our receptivity to the higher consciousness and could be to a considerable extent quickened or slowed down by the state in which we were, so also her progress towards materialisation from the boundary between two worlds is conditioned in a substantial measure by our response to her stand on that boundary. She cannot materialise herself soon unless we hasten to spiritualise ourselves.
The sudden shock we have received with the Mother’s departure and, along with it, the sense that departure has given us of a greater impact from her new body have caused a forward spurt in our Yoga. If we can keep up the intensified aspiration we may hope to see the new body materialised in the near future — in less than a century. Even if our effort for progress gets relaxed the Mother will press for the manifestation. Her children then may not have to wait very long.
If, however, she finds it unfitting that she should thus manifest, a second way is conceivable. Indeed, it would be the one inevitable way under the circumstances. And of this possibility too we have a glimpse in some words of the Mother. Three years before she had the experience of living in her new body as if it were the most natural sheath for her — to be precise, on February 15, 1969 — she said: “…the work is becoming more and more ‘exacting’. But I feel (that is to say the body feels very well) that it is part of a training. It looks like that: it must hold on, the body, or otherwise, so much the worse, it will be for another time.” Again, in the very talk about the new body the Mother pointed to her own and exclaimed: “Is that (Mother points to her body), is that going to change? It must change or it has to follow the old ordinary process of undoing itself and remaking itself.”
This can mean only one thing: as in the past, the Mother may utilise the usual mode of birth, assume once more a body like ours and be amongst her children at the head of earth’s evolution. An implication of this meaning is that for the body-supramentalising turn of evolution the rebirth of none except the Mother will do. But her rebirth will not involve going laboriously over the same field that she covered before. Rather, by force of all that her earlier incarnation has done and by the greater proximity it has brought about of her Supramental Shape, this second embodiment will have, despite its unavoidable nexus with world-conditions, a rare rapidity of sadhana and will soon be ready to house that Shape and uplift her children to spiritual supermanhood. When and where the hour of the re-embodiment will strike is left to the wisdom operating through the Supramental Shape in which she now abides. But we may be sure that it will not go beyond the limit of what we have stipulated as her extraordinary life-length if the original plan of supramentalisation had been followed. In saying “another time” she need not be construed as referring to a far-off date and negating the broad sense of “now”. The expression simply connotes a bodily existence other than the one that was hers from February 21, 1878. In fact, once she decides on this alternative way of securing her earth-poise, the “when” can be very near and the “where” is likely to be such as to let her appear amidst her erstwhile family without unnecessary delay.
What we must guard against is letting our imagination run riot. We must not start hunting for signs and make various self-gratifying mental constructions. Although we must keep our eyes open, we must be passive in our receptivity. If the Mother takes birth, she will declare herself in her own fashion and her own good time. We must not superimpose our ignorance-coloured “Lo here!” and “Lo there!”. The birth which she will bring about by her direct action will carry the clearest credentials. We shall not need to speak for it. We have merely to watch and wait.
Still, as regards the whole possibility of a second embodiment we have to remember the Mother’s expression: “so much the worse.” She did not favour “another time” and the mechanism involved: “the old ordinary process” of rebirth. It would have to be the last resort. The preference would undoubtedly go to the direct self-materialisation. Even though we have no open reference to such a mode of reappearance of the Mother, we know that she looked forward in general to an occult method of birth for human beings. This method was expected to come into force after the Mother had sufficiently divinised her body and established herself firmly for the new world she was building up, the world in which Sri Aurobindo was to come in the first supramental body built in the supramental way. But, with the evolutionary alteration of her course on November 17, releasing new powers of action, the will of Sri Aurobindo for supramentalisation in the present age, and not in a later one, would tend to bring this method into use far sooner.
However, if we take “so much the worse” in its own restricted context, we find “another time” to be disapproved as compared only to the birth the Mother accepted in 1878 and wanted to use for the utmost consummation. Then there would be nothing in particular against the usual process of birth. The two alternatives of reappearance would be on a par.
But neither can become an early reality without our co-operation. We should go all out to create the conditions that would facilitate the wonderful phenomenon of self-materialisation. For the Mother’s rebirth too our souls must keep devoted vigil. More than ever before we shall have to open our depths to the Light and Love that were lavished on us for so many years and that still waft to us from the joint Samadhi. Had we answered sufficiently to their call, the original plan might never have been changed. Indeed, to a high degree, it is our “estranged faces” that have made us “miss the many-splendoured thing” that for ninety-five years was our Mother, most divine, most human.
Mother India, November 1975.
- Sri Aurobindo on Himself, SABCL, Vol. 26, pp. 144-45.
- Bulletin of Sri Aurobindo International Centre of Education, August 1972, p. 75.
- Ibid., April 1969, p. 89.
- Ibid., August 1972, p. 81