SRI AUROBINDO : A Profile
SRI AUROBINDO was born on August 15,1872, in Calcutta, India. At the
tender age of seven, his father, a country doctor, sent him to England
for "serious studies," as was the custom of the day among certain
anglicized Indian families. For 13 years Sri Aurobindo would be immersed
in Western culture - which would eventually reward his academic prowess
with abundant laurels. In 1893, at the age of twenty, his Cambridge
degree in his pocket, he returned to India to find a profoundly
revolting political and social situation in his country (under British
rule). After a few years spent between a teaching post of French and
English at the College of Baroda and the private secretariat of the
local maharaja, Sri Aurobindo moved to Calcutta and entered the
political fray. Simultaneously, he set out on his inner quest not to
escape into higher worlds of consciousness, but as a means of sharpening
his revolutionary action against the British occupation. As editor of
the daily Bande Mataram (Hail to Mother India) and leader of the
Extremist Party, he would soon be suspected of participating in a
criminal attempt against a British magistrate, and he would spend a year
in prison while awaiting trial. That year of forced isolation made him
realize that the occupation of his country by a foreign power was but
one aspect of a much vaster problem: the transformation of human nature.
"It is not just a revolt against the British empire that we must wage,
but a revolt against the whole universal Nature!" he exclaimed.
Acquitted but still pursued and spied on by the British police, he had
to take refuge in French India, in Pondicherry, where he arrived in
1910. This is where he spent the rest of his life until 1950, in the
"ashram" that gradually formed around him under the supervision of
Mother, who joined him in 1920. His written work, mostly composed
between 1914 and 1920, comprises poetry, plays, "philosophy" and an
enormous body of letters to try to explain to his disciples what he
was doing in the silence of his room.
MOTHER, otherwise known as Mirra Alfassa, was born in Paris in 1878,
of an Egyptian mother and a Turkish father. She was a year older than
Einstein, and a contemporary of Anatole France, with whom she shared a
sense of gentle irony. This was the century of "positivism"; her father
and mother were "all-out materialists," he a banker and a first-rate
mathematician, she a disciple of Marx until the age of eighty-eight.
Yet when she was very young, Mirra had strange experiences involving
past history and perhaps the future; she met Sri Aurobindo "in a dream"
ten years before going to Pondicherry and took him for "a Hindu God
dressed in the garb of a vision." Equally at ease with higher
mathematics, in front of an easel, or sitting at a piano, she befriended
Gustave Moreau, Rodin and Monet. She married a painter, whom she later
divorced to marry a philosopher who took her to Japan and China at the
time Mao Tse-Tung was writing his first political essays, and to
Pondicherry, where she met Sri Aurobindo, with whom she stayed
thereafter. She spent thirty years beside him -- he who, at the turn of
the century, was announcing "the new evolution" : "Man is a transitional
being." After Sri Aurobindo's death in 1950, left in charge of a huge
ashram that seemed to represent all the human resistances of the world,
she plunged into the "yoga of the cells" and finally discovered "the
great passage" to another species. Isolated, misunderstood, and
surrounded by human resistance and ill will, she left her body in 1973
at the age of ninety-five.
"I don't think there was ever anyone more materialistic than I, with all
the practical common sense and positivism," she would tell me in the
midst of her dangerous experiences in the consciousness of the cells,
"and now I understand why I was that way! It gave my body a wonderful
sense of balance. All the explanations I sought were always of a
material nature; it seemed so obvious to me: no need for mysteries or
anything of that sort -- you must explain things in material terms.
Therefore, I am sure there is no tendency for mystical dreaming in me!
This body had nothing in the least mystical in it, thank God!"
Sri Aurobindo On Himself
The following quotes are from Volume 26, Sri Aurobindo Birth
Centenary Library, "On Himself"
I see that you have persisted in giving a biography -- is it
really necessary or useful? The attempt is bound to be a failure,
because neither you nor anyone else knows anything at all of my
life; it has not been on the surface for men to see.
Q: How did your intellect become so powerful even before you
A: It was not any such thing before I started the Yoga. I started
the Yoga in 1904 and all my work except some poetry was done
afterwards. Moreover, my intelligence was inborn and so far as it
grew before the Yoga, it was not by training but by a wide haphazard
activity developing ideas from all things read, seen or experienced.
That is not training, it is natural growth.
I had no urge toward spirituality in me, I developed
spirituality. I was incapable of understanding metaphysics, I
developed into a philosopher. I had no eye for painting -- I
developed it by Yoga. I transformed my nature from what it was to
what it was not. I did it by a special manner, not by a miracle and
I did it to show what could be done and how it could be done. I did
not do it out of any personal necessity of my own or by a miracle
without any process. I say that if it is not so, then my Yoga is
useless and my life was a mistake -- a mere absurd freak of Nature
without meaning or consequence. You all seem to think it a great
compliment to me to say that what I have done has no meaning for
anybody except myself -- it is the most damaging criticism on my
work that could be made. I also did not do it by myself, if you mean
by myself the Aurobindo that was. He did it by the help of Krishna
and the Divine Shakti. I had help from human sources also.
But what strange ideas again! -- that I was born with a
supramental temperament and that I know nothing of hard realities!
Good God! My whole life has been a struggle with hard realities,
from hardships, starvation in England and constant and fierce
difficulties to the far greater difficulties continually cropping up
here in Pondicherry, external and internal. My life has been a
battle from its early years and is still a battle: the fact that I
wage it now from a room upstairs and by spiritual means as well as
others that are external makes no difference to its character. But,
of course, as we have not been shouting about these things, it is
natural, I suppose, for others to think that I am living in an
august, glamorous, lotus-eating dreamland where no hard facts of
life or Nature present themselves. But what an illusion all the
You think then that in me (I don't bring in the Mother) there was
never any doubt or despair, no attacks of that kind. I have borne
every attack which human beings have borne, otherwise I would be
unable to assure anybody "This too can be conquered." At least I
would have no right to say so. Your psychology is terribly rigid. I
repeat, the Divine when he takes on the burden of terrestrial
nature, takes it fully, sincerely and without any conjuring tricks
or pretence. If he has something behind him which emerges always out
of the coverings, it is the same thing in essence even if greater in
degree, that there is behind others -- and it is to awaken that that
he is here.
The psychic being does the same for all who are intended for the
spiritual way -- men need not be extraordinary beings to follow it.
That is the mistake you are making -- to harp on greatness as if
only the great can be spiritual.
Q: We have been wondering why you should have to write and
rewrite your poetry -- for instance, "Savitri" ten or twelve times
-- when you have all the inspiration at your command and do not have
to receive it with the difficulty that faces budding Yogis like us.
A: That is very simple. I used Savitri as a means of ascension. I
began with it on a certain mental level, each time I could reach a
higher level I rewrote from that level. Moreover I was particular --
if part seemed to me to come from any lower levels I was not
satisfied to leave it because it was good poetry. All had to be as
far as possible of the same mint. In fact Savitri has not been
regarded by me as a poem to be written and finished, but as a field
of experimentation to see how far poetry could be written from one's
own Yogic consciousness and how that could be made creative. I did
not rewrite Rose of God or the sonnets except for two or three
verbal alterations made at the moment.
Q: The Overmind seems so distant from us, and your Himalyan
austerity and grandeur takes my breath away, making my heart
A: O rubbish! I am austere and grand, grim and stern! every
blasted thing I never was! I groan in an un-Aurobindian despair when
I hear such things. What has happened to the common sense of all you
people? In order to reach the Overmind it is not at all necessary to
take leave of this simple but useful quality. Common sense by the
way is not logic (which is the least commonsense-like thing in the
world), it is simply looking at things as they are without inflation
or deflation -- not imagining wild imaginations -- or for that
matter despairing "I know not why" despairs.
You say that this way is too difficult for you or the likes of
you and it is only "Avatars" like myself or the Mother that can do
it. That is a strange misconception; for it is, on the contrary, the
easiest and simplest and most direct way and anyone can do it, if he
makes his mind and vital quiet, even those who have a tenth of your
capacity can do it. It is the other way of tension and strain and
hard endeavour that is difficult and needs a great force of Tapasya.
As for the Mother and myself, we have had to try all ways, follow
all methods, to surmount mountains of difficulties, a far heavier
burden to bear than you or anybody else in the Ashram or outside,
far more difficult conditions, battles to fight, wounds to endure,
ways to cleave through impenetrable morass and desert and forest,
hostile masses to conquer -- a work such as, I am certain, none else
had to do before us. For the Leader of the Way in a work like ours
has not only to bring down and represent and embody the Divine, but
to represent too the ascending element in humanity and to bear the
burden of humanity to the full and experience, not in a mere play or
Lila but in grim earnest, all the obstruction, difficulty,
opposition, baffled and hampered and only slowly victorious labour
which are possible on the Path. But it is not necessary nor
tolerable that all that should be repeated over again to the full in
the experience of others. It is because we have the complete
experience that we can show a straighter and easier road to others
-- if they will only consent to take it. It is because of our
experience won at a tremendous price that we can urge upon you and
others, "Take the psychic attitude; follow the straight sunlit path,
with the Divine openly or secretly upbearing you - - if secretly, he
will yet show himself in good time, -- do not insist on the hard,
hampered, roundabout and difficult journey."
The Mother's consciousness is the divine Consciousness and the
Light that comes from it is the light of the divine Truth, the Force
that she brings down is the force of the divine Truth. One who
receives and accepts and lives in the Mother's light, will begin to
see the truth on all the planes, the mental, the vital, the
physical. He will reject all that is undivine, -- the undivine is
the falsehood, the ignorance, the error of the dark forces; the
undivine is all that is obscure and unwilling to accept the divine
Truth and its light and force. The undivine, therefore, is all that
is unwilling to accept the light and force of the Mother. That is
why I am always telling you to keep yourself in contact with the
Mother and with her light and Force, because it is only so that you
can come out of this confusion and obscurity and receive the Truth
that comes from above.
When we speak of the Mother's Light or my Light in a special
sense, we are speaking of a special occult action -- we are speaking
of certain lights that come from the Supermind. In this action the
Mother's is the White Light that purifies, illumines, brings down
the whole essence and power of the Truth and makes the
transformation possible. But in fact all light that comes from
above, from the highest divine Truth is the Mother's.
There is no difference between the Mother's path and mine; we
have and have always had the same path, the path that leads to the
supramental change and the divine realisation; not only at the end,
but from the beginning they have been the same.
The attempt to set up a division and opposition, putting the
Mother on one side and myself on another and opposite or quite
different side, has always been a trick of the forces of the
Falsehood when they want to prevent a Sadhak from reaching the
Truth. Dismiss all such falsehoods from your mind.
Know that the Mother's light and force are the light and force of
the Truth; remain always in contact with the Mother's light and
force, then only can you grow into the divine Truth.
The Mother On Sri Aurobindo
All quotes are from the Collected Works of the Mother.
from Volume 12 On Education, p.116 (24 July 1951)
Sri Aurobindo came upon earth to teach this truth to men. He told
them that man is only a transitional being living in a mental
consciousness, but with the possibility of acquiring a new
consciousness, the Truth-consciousness, and capable of living a life
perfectly harmonious, good and beautiful, happy and fully conscious.
During the whole of his life upon earth, Sri Aurobindo gave all his time
to establish in himself this consciousness he called supramental, and to
help those gathered around him to realise it.
from Volume 6, Questions and Answers 1954, p. 14 (3 February 1954)
On the other hand, there was someone (I shall tell you who
afterwards) who had in his room hundreds of books, countless sheets of
paper, notebooks and all sorts of things, and so you entered the room
and saw books and papers everywhere -- a whole pile, it was quite full.
But if you were unfortunate enough to shift a single little bit of paper
from its place, he knew it immediately and asked you, "Who has touched
my things?" You, when you come in, see so many things that you feel
quite lost. And yet each thing had its place. And it was so consciously
done, I tell you, that if one paper was displaced -- for instance, a
paper with notes on it or a letter or something else which was taken
away from one place and placed in another with the idea of putting
things in order -- he used to say "You have touched my things; you have
displaced them and created a disorder in my things." That of course was
from Volume 8, Questions and Answers 1956, p.275-6 (22 August 1956)
I incidentally could tell you that in all kinds of so-called
spiritual literature I had always read marvellous things about this
state of trance or samadhi, and it so happened that I had never
experienced it. So I did not know whether this was a sign of
inferiority. And when I came here, one of my first questions to Sri
Aurobindo was: "What do you think of samadhi, that state of trance one
does not remember? One enters into a condition which seems blissful, but
when one comes out of it, one does not know at all what has happened."
Then he looked at me, saw what I meant and told me, "It is
unconsciousness." I asked him for an explanation, I said, "What?" He
told me, "Yes, you enter into what is called samadhi when you go out of
your conscious being and enter a part of your being which is conpletely
unconscious, or rather a domain where you have no corresponding
consciousness -- you go beyond the field of your consciousness and enter
a region where you are no longer conscious. You are in the impersonal
state, that is to say, a state in which you are unconscious; and that is
why, naturally, you remember nothing, because you were not conscious of
anything." So he reassured me and I said, "Well, this has never happened
to me." He replied, "Nor to me!" (Laughter)
from Volume 8, Questions and Answers 1956, p.282 (29 August 1956)
I am going to give you two examples to make you understand what true
spontaneity is. One -- you all know about it undoubtedly -- is of the
time Sri Aurobindo began writing the Arya, in 1914. It was
neither a mental knowledge nor even a mental creation which he
transcribed: he silenced his mind and sat at the typewriter, and from
above, from the higher planes, all that had to be written came down, all
ready, and he had only to move his fingers on the typewriter and it was
transcribed. It was in this state of mental silence which allows the
knowledge -- and even the expression -- from above to pass through that
he wrote the whole Arya, with its sixty-four printed pages a
month. This is why, besides, he could do it, for if it had been a mental
work of construction it would have been quite impossible.
from Volume 4, Questions and Answers 1950-51, p. 223 (17 March 1951)
But to have this precise perception...listen, as I had when I came
from Japan: I was on the boat, at sea, not expecting anything (I was of
course busy with the inner life, but I was living physically on the
boat), when all of a sudden, abruptly, about two nautical miles from
Pondicherry, the quality, I may even say the physical quality of the
atmosphere, of the air, changed so much that I knew we were entering the
aura of Sri Aurobindo. It was a physical experience and I guarantee that
whoever has a sufficiently awakened consciousness can feel the same
from Volume 4, Questions and Answers 1950-51, p.275-6
The other story is of the days Sri Aurobindo had the habit of walking
up and down in his rooms. He used to walk for several hours like that,
it was his way of meditating. Only, he wanted to know the time, so a
clock had been put in each room to enable him to see the time at any
moment. There were three such clocks. One was in the room where I
worked; it was, so to say, his starting-point. One day he came and
asked, "What time is it?" He looked and the clock had stopped. He went
into the next room, saying, "I shall see the time there" -- the clock
had stopped. And it had stopped at the same minute as the other, you
understand, with the difference of a few seconds. He went to the third
room...the clock had stopped. He continued walking three times like that
-- all the clocks had stopped! Then he returned to my room and said,
"But this is impossible! This is surely a bad joke!" and all the clocks,
one after the other, started working again. I saw it myself, you know,
it was a charming incident.
from Volume 3, Questions and Answers, p.155 (1930-31)
You remember the night of the great cyclone, when there was a
tremendous noise and splash of rain all about the place. I thought I
would go to Sri Aurobindo's room and help him shut the windows. I just
opened his door and found him sitting quietly at his desk, writing.
There was such a solid peace in the room that nobody would have dreamed
that a cyclone was raging outside. All the windows were wide open, not a
drop of rain was coming inside.
from Volume 9, Questions and Answers 1957-58, p.254 (8 January 1958)
I have seen Sri Aurobindo doing this in somebody's head, somebody who
used to complain of being troubled by thoughts. It was as if his hand
reached out and took hold of the little black dancing point and then did
this (gesture with the finger-tips), as when one picks up an
insect, and he threw it far away. And that was all. All still, quiet,
from Volume 11, Notes on the Way, p. 328 (20 December 1972)
I had asked myself a question about Sri Aurobindo. I wanted to
know at what point he had arrived when he passed away -- at what point
of transformation. What difference in the work, for example, is there
between what you are doing now and what he was doing at that time?
He had gathered in his body a great amount of supramental force and
as soon as he left... You see, he was lying on his bed, I stood by his
side, and in a way altogether concrete -- concrete with such a strong
sensation as to make one think that it could be seen -- all this
supramental force which was in him passed from his body into mine. And I
felt the friction of the passage. It was extraordinary -- extraordinary.
the remaining quotes are from Volume 13, Words of the Mother, "Sri
What Sri Aurobindo represents in the world's history is not a
teaching, not even a revelation; it is a decisive action direct from the
14 February 1961
Sri Aurobindo has come on earth not to bring a teaching or a creed in
competition with previous creeds or teachings, but to show the way to
overpass the past and to open concretely the route towards an imminent
and inevitable future.
22 February 1967
Sri Aurobindo is constantly in the subtle physical, very active
there. I see him almost daily, and last night I spent many hours with
If you become conscious in the subtle physical you will surely meet
21 December 1969
Today is the first day of Sri Aurobindo's centenary year. Though he
has left his body his is still with us, alive and active.
Sri Aurobindo belongs to the future; he is the messenger of the
future. He still shows us the way to follow in order to hasten the
realisation of a glorious future fashioned by the Divine Will.
All those who want to collaborate for the progress of humanity and
for India's luminous destiny must unite in a clairvoyant aspiration and
in an illumined work.
15 August 1971
Sri Aurobindo came upon earth to announce the manifestation of the
supramental world and not merely did he announce this manifestation but
embodied also in part the supramental force and showed by example what
one must do to prepare oneself for manifesting it. The best thing we can
do is to study all that he has told us and endeavour to follow his
example and prepare ourselves for the new manifestation.
This gives life its real sense and will help us to overcome all
Let us live for the new creation and we shall grow stronger and
stronger by remaining young and progressive.
30 January 1972
When in your heart and thought you make no difference between Sri
Aurobindo and me, when to think of Sri Aurobindo will be to think of me
and to think of me will mean to think of Sri Aurobindo inevitably, when
to see one will mean inevitably to see the other, like one and the
same Person, -- then you will know that you begin to be open to the
supramental force and consciousness.
4 March 1958
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Others On Sri Aurobindo
The following is from the last chapter of The Essence of Yoga,
by Georg Feuerstein:
"Sri Aurobindo...whose integral philosophy is today
recognised and appreciated as a monumental synthesis of the
highest cultural values of East and West. ...There is an immense
wealth of outstanding psychological and spiritual discoveries
embedded in his voluminous writings, which stand at the
watershed of a new era of yogic culture."
The following quotes are from The Integral Yoga, Sri
Aurobindo's Method and Teaching of Practice (1993):
Michael Murphy, Founder, Esalen Institute, author of The
Future of the Body:
"Sri Aurobindo's yoga points the way toward the kind of
transformative practice we need to realize our greatest
potentials. No philosopher or contemplative of modern times has
done more to reveal our possibilities for extraordinary life."
Stephen Phillips, Professor of Philosophy, University of
"Sri Aurobindo is not only the most original philosopher of
modern India -- he was also an accomplished yogi who based his
metaphysical vision on his own inner discoveries."
Robert Johnson, author of He and She:
"Sri Aurobindo is one of the most important and influential
spiritual figures of our time, whose work deserves to be better
Robert McDermott, President, California Institute of Integral
"Sri Aurobindo serves humanity as a spiritual master who
directs and sustains all seekers whose inner aspiration leads
them to a yoga as wide and deep as life itself."
The following quotes are from The Integral Philosophy of Sri
Charles A. Moore, co-editor, A Sourcebook in Indian
Philosophy, The Essentials of Buddhist Philosophy, and
Philosophy -- East and West. :
"Sri Aurobindo has thus arrived at a comprehensive and, to
all intents and purposes, all-inclusive view of the universe and
life, providing a world philosophy which in effect brings
together the East and the West."
Ninian Smart, author of numerous books on religion and
"The massive yet intricate beauty of The Life Divine can
conceal itself from us how a paragraph, a sentence even, may
contain within itself a vast range of thought. It is part of the
genius of the work that its doctrines are exhibited not in a
dry, and therefore unilluminating, sequence, but in the manner
of a painting: each new brush-stroke gives novel significance to
the others, and the features emerge not by being mechanically
filled in, but by a kind of patterned growth."
"It is Sri Aurobindo's genius that he has provided a
framework of thought which, while it grows out of such ancient
concepts as Brahman, purusa, prakrti, prana, etc., yet does not
have merely a static view of things, but absorbs the sense,
gained from both science and history, of the unfolding of man's
Swami Sivananda, founder of the Life Divine Society,
Rishikesh; author of about 200 books, including Raja Yoga;
Hatha Yoga; Kundalini Yoga; Yoga Vedanta Dictionary:
"And it needed the supreme cultural genius of a Sri Aurobindo,
the like of whom the spirit and the creative vision of India
alone can create, to give a yet bolder or rather the boldest
manifestation to a synthesization of insights in philosophic,
cultural and religious or spiritual wisdom and experience and to
an invaluable integral conception of the triple Reality".
Haridas Chaudhuri, Professor of Philosophy, founder of the
Cultural Integration Fellowship, San Francisco, author of
numerous books on yoga, society, and philosophy:
"When a great idea is born, it shows limitless capacity for
transcending fixed moulds of thought, and for reconciling
diverse viewpoints. It goes on growing and expanding, refusing
to be confined within the stone walls of any rigidly fixed
thought structure. As a living spiritual force it goes on
fertilizing the spiritual soil of the world, giving rise to
varied forms of practically useful self-expression. ...Sri
Aurobindo has given to the world such a living spiritual force,
a dynamic truth-vision."
INTRODUCTION Sri Aurobindo Society
application of spirituality to life and all it's activities is what we
are trying to achieve at Sri Aurobindo Society.
Society is a registered society with its chief administrative office at
Pondicherry. It has about 300 centres, 50 branches and about
12,000 members in India and outside.
Mother is the founder and the permanent President of the
Society was started by the Mother in 1960. She is its guiding
force and its permanent President. She has nurtured the small instrument
that was created over 35 years ago and has made it an international
organisation working in diverse fields of life. The community of
consciousness has kept growing worldwide.
It is necessary
for us, from time to time, to remind ourselves of the source and intent
that brought the Society into existence, so that we may remain open to
that guidance and rededicate ourselves to the work of transformation,
taken up by
Aurobindo and the Mother.
Through the many
ups and downs, the many challenges and the apparently insurmountable
obstacles, the Society's history
has been a living testimony to the working of the Grace. At each step
one has remembered Sri Aurobindo's words:
"The Grace of the Divine Mother is the sanction of the Supreme... Its
touch can turn difficulties into opportunities, failure into success and
weakness into unfaltering strength."
It is the Mother's
love and action which have sustained the Society from the beginning..
The material published in the section on the history and origin shows
the Mother's involvement at every level of the Society's work, as also
several rare documents containing the Mother's directions and signature
as our Executive President. Some of these have been brought together
here which we offer to our browsers worldwide.
On 1st January
1972, the Centenary year of Sri Aurobindo, All India Radio had broadcast
a message of the Mother :
"Today is the first day of Sri Aurobindo's Centenary
year. Though he has left his body he is still with us, alive and active.
belongs to the future; he is the messenger of the future. He still shows
us the way to follow in order to hasten the realisation of a glorious
future fashioned by the Divine Will.
All those who
want to collaborate for the progress of humanity and for India's
luminous destiny must unite in a clairvoyant aspiration and in an
The message puts
beautifully in a nutshell the purpose and work of the Society.
We invite you to
in our efforts to work towards an integral perfection of man, both as an
individual and a collectivity. It is the Society's aim to bring together
all those who want to contribute to the advent of a new world where
human unity will blossom in the midst of a harmonious and organised
HISTORY & ORIGIN
It was the need of
the hour. The intense sadhana of Sri Aurobindo and the Mother had
raised the spiritual destiny of man to uncharted peaks. Their message,
full of hope and joy, is an affirmation of the divine possibilities of
life on earth. Their Integral Yoga is a striving for the perfection of
life itself, not its rejection. A synthesis of the spiritual and the
material. A quest to be undertaken individually and collectively.
Sri Aurobindo had
delivered the divine message. It was the task of the Mother to give it a
concrete shape and to carry this vision of a new awakening to all
corners of the world, to people who await the call. In 1960 she founded
the Sri Aurobindo Society.
The Mother herself
laid the foundation for the Society, a strong base on which it could
grow and spread like a banyan tree. It was she who supervised the
formulation of the constitution, and the main objective of the Society,
as laid down in its memorandum, is :
"To make known to the members and people in general
the aims and ideals of Sri Aurobindo and the Mother, their system of
Integral Yoga and to work for its fulfilment in all possible ways and
for the attainment of a spiritualised society as envisaged by Sri
The Memorandum of
Association of the Society is not a mere legal document. It bears the
mother's signature, dated 19th September 1960, and is a living
embodiment of her ideas, aims and objectives for revealing to the world
Sri Aurobindo's message and his agenda for human progress.
Many of the
official documents record Madame M. Alfassa, the Mother of Sri Aurobindo
Ashram, Pondicherry, to be the President of the Society. They carry her
signature as M. Alfassa, where she combines her surname with the symbol
of the soaring bird, so familiar to us.
To our way of
thinking today, it may appear that the Mother graced the Society as
President in a symbolic sense only. But the Mother was far more. Few
amongst us now remember and realise the great personal attention she
gave to every aspect of the Society's work, how her divine touch, at
once many-sided and all-embracing, reached down to the most material. It
was she who executed in the smallest detail, every task in this early
It was the Mother
who named the new organisation Sri Aurobindo Society. She created a
symbol for it taking the existing symbol of Sri Aurobindo and
enclosing it in a diamond. She gave a motto which contains a
complete programme, both for the individual and the collectivity :
It is the symbol of Sri Aurobindo, with lines joining the apexes of
the two triangles, to form a diamond.
The significance of the diamond, according to Sri Aurobindo, is the
Mother's light at its intensest.
"To know is good,
to live is better,
to be, that is
The Society was
registered in Calcutta. It could not be registered in Pondicherry
because the process of law-making was not yet complete in the former
French colony, which had gained independence only six years earlier.
Since there was no provision for such legislation in Pondicherry and
Calcutta had a large number of devotees, it was convenient to register
the Society there.
To carry out her
work the Mother chose Navajata, whom she called 'My faithful'.
His name appears in various documents both as Keshav Dev Poddar, his
earlier name, and as Navajata, a name given to him by the Mother,
meaning the 'New Born'. He was the Society's first General Secretary and
Treasurer and later, after the Mother left her body in 1973, became its
Along with the
Mother, the two other persons who sat on the first Executive Committee
of the Society were Navajata and Arunendranath Tagore of
Calcutta, an advocate and Notary Public. Significantly, the first few
meetings of the Executive committee were held in the Mother's room in
usual procedure, the Minutes noted the names of the persons who were
present, including that of the Mother, and she signed the Minutes as the
Chairperson of the meetings. Even the Balance Sheets and the Annual
Reports of the Society were signed by her - a rare privilege.
A tiny seed holds
the blueprint of a mighty tree. It was the divine Mother who planted the
seed of the Society's destiny and nurtured it. She provided the force
and the inspiration and encouraged each individual and each group to
grow in complete freedom, to progress and work in a spirit of service
and sadhana. But simultaneously she was always ready to come forward to
help and guide, whenever the need or the call was there.
Whether it was a
question of purchase of land and building, of starting schools and guest
houses, of organising conferences, of opening centres and branches in
India and abroad, of enrolling new members, of publishing books and
journals, the issues were referred to the Mother for guidance and
decision. She gave the names to the journals, chose the editors and
sometimes gave directions about the layout.
One of the
projects the Mother started through the society was the constructions of
her dream city of
Auroville. It was a dream the Mother had since the 1930s,
of a model city which would reflect the outward reality of the descent
of the Supramental and go on to become the centre of a perfect world.
She named it after Sri Aurobindo, calling it Auroville, The City of
The work expanded in
many fields and directions. Nothing escaped the Mother's attention: from
business and economics to even films, a wide spectrum of life's
endeavours were included in her agenda of social transformation.
Auroservice was founded to give a spiritual basis to
business and Aurofilms was set up for the production of films.
Sri Aurobindo has
revealed the true spirit of sadhana through work, the way of
Karmayoga in the Gita :
"Self-dedication does not depend on the particular
work you do, but on the spirit in which all work, of whatever kind it
may be, is done. Any work done well and carefully as a sacrifice to
the divine, without desire or egoism, with equality of mind and calm
tranquility in good or bad fortune, for the sake of the divine and not
for the sake of any personal gain, reward or result, with the
consciousness that it is the Divine Power to which all work belongs,
is a means of self-dedication through Karma".
And this was also
the recurring theme in all the directions given by the Mother, running
like a continuous thread through every action. What was important was
the sincerity. The inner attitude and the consciousness with which a
work was done. The results and the outer form of the activity were
For the Mother, no
work was small, no donation insignificant, no centre or branch too
remote. In the midst of her heavy schedule, she approved plans for the
work in Pondicherry and outside, went through pages of reports, signed
receipts, endorsed cheques, sanctioned expenditure of even sundry
repairs. It was a veritable labour of divine love, Mahasaraswati's way
of perfection in works. Sri Aurobindo has said of Mahasaraswati, in his
book "The Mother" :
"Nothing is too small or apparently trivial for her attention,
nothing however impalpable or disguised or latent can escape her.
Moulding and remoulding she labours each part till it has attained its
true from, is put in its exact place in the whole and fulfils its
1878 - 1950
||18 December, birth of Mira Pinto
(daughter of Saïd Pinto), in Cairo. Mother's future grandmother.
||Marriage of Mira Pinto to Matteo
Ismaloun, in Alexandria.
||5 July, birth of Maurice Alfassa, in
Adrianople (Turkey) . Mother's future father.
||18 December, birth of Mathilde Ismaloun,
in Alexandria. Mother's future mother.
||Marriage of Mathilde Ismaloun to
Maurice Alfassa, in Alexandria.
||13 July, birth of Matteo Alfassa, in
Alexandria. Mother's brother.
||Arrival of the Alfassas in Paris.
||28 August, French naturalization of
Mother and Sri Aurobindo
||15 August, birth of Sri Aurobindo, in
||21 February, birth of Mother, in Paris,
62 boulevard Haussmann.
||Departure of Sri Aurobindo for England.
||Mother lives at 3 square du Roule.
||Sri Aurobindo at King's College,
Mother's first experience: the "Revolution of Atoms."
||Sri Aurobindo returns to India.
||First revolutionary article.
||13 October, Mother's marriage to Henri
Morisset. Atelier, 15 rue Lemercier.
||23 August, birth of André Morisset.
||Beginning of Sri Aurobindo's
||Sri Aurobindo has the experience of the
||Mother has her first vision of Sri
||Beginning of Sri Aurobindo's yoga.
||Mother's first meeting with Max Theon.
||Voyages to Tlemcen.
||Mother founds her first group: Idea.
||First arrest of Sri Aurobindo.
||Divorce from H. Morisset.
||Mother moves to 49 rue de Lévis.
||January: Sri Aurobindo meets the
tantric yogi V. Lele.
Realization of mental silence and Nirvana.
||2 May, the "Alipore Bomb Case":
imprisonment of Sri Aurobindo, for one year.
||February, Sri Aurobindo escapes to
Chandernagor, in French India.
||4 April, Sri Aurobindo takes refuge in
||April, Paul Richard's first visit to
||Marriage of Mirra to Paul Richard, 7-9
rue du Val de Grâce.
||Beginning of Prayers and
||7 March, Mother embarks for India
aboard the Kaga Maru.
||29 March, meeting of Mother and Sri
||1 August, declaration of war.
||15 August, first issue of the Arya.
||22 February, Mother leaves Pondicherry
for France aboard the Kamo Maru.
||13 March, Mother embarks at London
aboard the Kamo Maru for Japan.
||April, Mother leaves Japan.
||24 April, arrival in Pondicherry
||24 November, Mother comes to live near
Sri Aurobindo in the Guest House.
||January, end of the Arya.
||October, Sri Aurobindo and Mother take
up residence at 9 rue de la Marine, the present Ashram building.
||Period of the "Evening Talks."
||24 November, Sri Aurobindo withdraws.
||Official founding of the Ashram.
||8 February, Sri Aurobindo moves to a
room in the East Wing that he will never again leave.
||August, Sri Aurobindo's "Mathematical
||October, the Supramental "will explain
||24 November, Sri Aurobindo fractures
his right leg.
||Sri Aurobindo revises The Life
||1 September, declaration of war.
||2 December, beginning of the Ashram
||15 August, Independence of India.
||21 February, beginning of the
Bulletin of Physical Education.
||10 November, end of the revision of
||5 December, Sri Aurobindo leaves his
||9 December, Sri Aurobindo's body is
placed in the Samadhi.
www.sriaurobindosociety.org.in : The official web site of
the Sri Aurobindo Society, Pondicherry, India.
site of information on Integral Yoga, a spiritual path founded by Sri
Aurobindo and the Mother.
www.sriaurobindoashram.org : the website of Sri Aurobindo
Ashram, a community in Pondicherry, South India.
www.aurobindobooks.com :Books by or on Sri Aurobindo and The
institute of culture is dedicated to the realisation of his ideal.
www.savitribysriaurobindo.com This website contains the complete text of Sri Aurobindo's
epic poem, Savitri, along with Sri Aurobindo's brief bio-sketch,
his Author's Note at the beginning of Savitri, and his extensive
"Letters on Savitri".
www.collaboration.org The Sri Aurobindo Association (SAA) of
America is a non-profit organization whose purpose is to assist groups
and individuals devoted to the realization of the spiritual vision of
Sri Aurobindo and
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