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At the Feet of The Mother

The Passing of the Mother

The Mother of the Sri Aurobindo Ashram left her body on November 17 at 7.25 p.m. Clinically, her departure has been attributed to heart-failure. Spiritually, we may assert that there could never be a failure of the Mother’s heart in the sense either of ceasing to work or of falling short of its goal. Her physical heart was only an outer expression, under self-imposed limits, of a power that was endless in its working. We may well describe it in Sri Aurobindo’s words about the central character in his epic Savitri — she who was figured as the incarnation of the Supreme Shakti:

A heart of silence in the hands of joy
Inhabited with rich creative beats
A body like a parable of dawn
That seemed a niche for veiled divinity
Or golden temple door to things beyond.[1]

What this heart of a Yogini par excellence, this living echo of the Divine Consciousness, represented by its physical pulsation is revealed in another passage in the long description of Savitri:

A deep of compassion, a hushed sanctuary,
Her inward help unbarred a gate in heaven;
Love in her was wider than the universe,
The whole world could take refuge in her single heart.[2]

Surely, the fate of such a heart cannot be designated in clinical language. And what its import may be is best discerned from the Mother’s own pronouncement to the present writer after Sri Aurobindo left his body on December 5, 1950.

When she was shown the Note giving a short account of the puzzling unexpected event, she paused over the expression: “the mortal remains of Sri Aurobindo.” She said: “There was nothing ‘mortal’ about Sri Aurobindo. You must write only ‘remains’.” A moment later she added: “Sri Aurobindo did not die of physical causes. He had complete control over his body.”

The writer asked: “Will you not throw some light on the mystery of his passing?”

The Mother replied: “It is all quite clear to me. But I am not going to tell you anything. You must find out the truth yourself.”

“Mother, give me then the power to find it out.”

At this, she blessed her disciple.

Appealing to the Master for inspiration, the disciple spent nearly a fortnight preparing himself for his editorial in Mother India. The light dawned at last and he wrote his piece: The Passing of Sri Aurobindo — Its Inner Significance and Consequence. The Mother gave her full approval to it and later ordered 15,000 copies to be printed in pamphlet form. On the first anniversary of Sri Aurobindo’s departure the disciple wrote a second article, which again had the Mother’s sanction. From these two compositions, clues may be drawn in general to understand something of the step the Mother took twenty-three years afterwards along the same lines as the Master.

We may briefly say that in the interests of her work for the earth’s transformation, for the ultimate divinisation of the very cells of the human body with the power of that great discovery of Sri Aurobindo and herself, the truth-conscious all-illuminative Supermind, she chose to give up her physical sheath. The advantage resulting from such an act, under the challenging circumstances prevalent in earth-life, is suggested in an utterance of her own.[3]

There she conveys to us that Sri Aurobindo now possesses more power for action than when he was in his body and that only by means of his so-called death could he get the increased capacity which had become necessary. We may further mark that the Mother characterises the action of Sri Aurobindo as “concrete” and almost “material”. The same holds for her own action today. If we are to understand her passing in the terms she has herself set up vis-à-vis Sri Aurobindo’s, there can be no other conclusion.

And when we think of both her and Sri Aurobindo — once joint Avatars of the Supermind — working together from a greater coign of vantage, there should be no grief or despondency on losing sight of that marvellous embodiment of divine love and loveliness that the Mother was for ninety-five years upon earth. The integral transformation of the world’s evolutionary life, down to its most material aspect, for which she toiled with the smiling “God-touch” that can accomplish all, shall take place as promised in God’s good time.

In the meanwhile we may rest our souls in the assurance she gave when the writer of these lines expressed his bewilderment on losing the physical presence of Sri Aurobindo — the gracious Master to whom he had turned for literary as well as spiritual progress and who had commented on almost everything written by his pupil. The Mother, pressing the pupil’s hand, said: “Nothing has changed. Ask for help as you have always done and it will always be there. Nothing has changed.”

Who knows if the Mother’s physical presence itself will long be absent! We are aware that the Supramental Body was already with her, waiting to fuse with the human form she had worn for our sake. We are aware also that the lengthy struggle she recently went through was only the Yogic endeavour of the human form to open completely to the Supramental Body. Perhaps this form did enough and its exalted agony was needed no more to enable the Supramental Body to manifest. Perhaps that Body, having assimilated the achievement of the other and thereby gained sufficient density for its subtle-physical substance, can now materialise itself on its own in a not too distant future.

Whatever be the case, most certainly we have not seen the end of the Mother’s earthly mission. A gigantic labourer of love like her does not leave her children in the lurch. All her movements, however enigmatic, are bent on bringing the empyrean into the abyss. A Body of immortal knowledge and force and bliss — a visible and palpable divinity — must be assumed to be the objective of every activity of the Mother as of Sri Aurobindo, even though our mind may fumble and see nothing but a luminous haze.

We must not merely say: “All will be well.” We must even say: “All is well — and shall be still better!”

Amal Kiran

[originally appeared in Mother India, December 5, 1973.]

[1] Savitri: A Legend and a Symbol, SABCL, Vol. 28, p. 15.
[2] Ibid.
[3] Bulletin of Sri Aurobindo International Centre of Education, February 1973, p. 89.

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