The Mother’s brief life sketch

1878 – 1907 France & Algeria

  • The Mother was born in Paris on February 21, 1878.
  • Her father, Maurice Alfassa, was a wealthy Turkish banker from Adrianopolis and her mother, Mathilda Ismalun, came from Cairo.
  • A year before her birth her parents settled in France.
  • The Mother’s childhood name was Mirra. From the beginning Mirra was an unusual child. At a very young age she became conscious of her mission upon earth.
  • Mirra went to school in Paris. Even at the age of five, she felt that she must know herself and be master of herself and not a mere plaything in the hands of other forces.
  • With her studies Mirra started playing tennis, a sport she remained fond of throughout her life.
  • Mirra took an interest in everything but was especially fond of music and painting.
  • Mirra was always grave and busy with her work. Her fellow-students called her the Sphinx. They came to her for advice, to settle some quarrel or even to take up their case before the authorities.
  • Although Mirra knew little of Indian philosophy and religion at that time, she called this special Being ‘Krishna’. She was firmly convinced that one day she would meet him on earth.  This Being was none other than Sri Aurobindo.
  • During 1905, Mirra met a Polish Jew, Max Théon, and his wife Alma. Both of them were very advanced in occultism and lived at Tlemcen, near the Sahara in South Algeria. Mirra spent about two years at Tlemcen, practising occultism.

1907 – 1914 Paris

  • When in 1907 Mirra returned to Paris, Théon accompanied her. While at sea they were assailed by a violent storm. The sea became very rough with high waves and the ship was tossed about so badly that the passengers got panicky. Théon looked at Mirra and asked her to stop it and She did it using occult power.
  • After her return from Algeria, Mirra started another study group called ‘Cosmique’ with twelve dedicated members. She gave a talk to this group on “What is the aim to be achieved, the work to be done, and the means of achievement.” She spoke of the New Consciousness, which has to be brought down and of founding collectively an ideal society, in a place suited to the flowering of the new race, that of the ‘Sons of God’. Mirra was only thirty-four.

1914 – 1915 Paris to Pondy

  • Sri Aurobindo had come to Pondicherry in 1910. The same year Mirra’s husband, Paul Richard, also came to Pondicherry for some political work. He met Sri Aurobindo several times and on his return to France told Mirra about him. Mirra now felt irresistibly drawn towards India. At this time, she maintained a spiritual diary where she noted every day her aspirations and experiences. This was published later as the Prayers and Meditations.
  • On March 6, 1914 Mirra and Paul Richard boarded the Japanese ship Kaga Maru and sailed for Colombo. The moment was approaching which was to bring about a momentous change in the Mother’s life and the world’s history. The Mother was then thirty-six.
  • After disembarking at Colombo, Mirra and Paul Richard reached Pondicherry in the early hours of March 29, 1914. While approaching, the Mother had a vision of a huge column of light in the centre of Pondicherry and there was such a change in the physical quality of the atmosphere that she knew they were entering the aura of Sri Aurobindo. They met Sri Aurobindo on the very same day in the afternoon, and everything changed. The Mother saw in front of her the Krishna of her vision, who had been guiding her all along. She knew immediately that her place and work were at his side, here in India.
  • This was the beginning of a great spiritual collaboration. Its immediate outer expression was the publication of two journals, one in English and the other in French called the Arya. The Mother was the chief executive of the publications and took care of the smallest details. She wrote in her artistic handwriting the list of subscribers and maintained all the accounts. It was in the Arya that Sri Aurobindo poured forth, month after month, all the spiritual knowledge he had gained in the pursuit of yoga, and in which all his major works were published serially for the first time.

1916 – 1920 Japan

  • But then the First World War intervened. In February 1915, Paul Richard had to go back to France to join the French Reserve Army and the Mother returned with him.
  • The Mother was greatly impressed by the beauty of Japan. She learned several typical Japanese customs–the tea ceremony, the flower arrangements and to dress in the Kimono.
  • The Mother had many interesting spiritual experiences in Japan. Once she completely identified herself with the consciousness of a cherry-tree.

1920 – 1973 Pondicherry

  • In 1920 the Mother sailed for Pondicherry. Now the most important chapter in her life was to begin. She had found her chosen and appointed place of spiritual fulfilment.
  • The Mother reached Pondicherry on April 24, 1920. She was forty-two. She was pursuing an intense Yoga and thesadhana was going on in the mental and vital planes.
  • Until the Mother’s final arrival, a few of Sri Aurobindo’s followers had lived with him as members of the household. With the coming of the Mother, a collective life took shape. The things got better organized and regular collective meditations were started.
  • The aim of their Yoga is to bring down the highest Supramental Consciousness of the Divine and to establish it in the earth consciousness. But before this can take place, the Overmind Consciousness or the Krishna Consciousness, has to be firmly established. This descent took place on November 24, 1926.
  • The next few years saw great changes. The number of disciples increased and many new activities were started. This is a sadhana which tries to bring down the spirit into matter. All fields of human activity are accepted and the Mother took care of the smallest details. From an unknown experiment in a corner of India, the Ashram now grew into a great centre of yoga, attracting devotees and disciples from all over the world.
  • In 1950, Sri Aurobindo left his body in a supreme sacrifice to hasten the descent of the Supramental upon earth.
  • A most decisive step in the Yoga of Sri Aurobindo and the Mother had been taken. The goal was certain. Now it was a question of time and of preparing the earth for the full manifestation of the Supermind. There could be no more failure, no more falling back.
  • In the meantime, the Ashram continued to grow and expand under the Mother’s guidance. In 1952, the Sri Aurobindo International Centre of Education was started. The Mother was busy from morning to night–meeting the disciples, listening to their problems and queries, looking after the large number of departments, taking classes for the children, encouraging them in their sports and cultural activities, leading and guiding them and showing the way in everything.
  • In 1972, the Birth Centenary of Sri Aurobindo was celebrated.
  • In 1973, on 17 November, after a brief illness, the Mother left her physical body. She was ninety-five