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 the sadhana was going on in the mental and vital planes. The result was even a physical change in her appearance.
“... after a month's yoga I looked exactly eighteen. And someone who had seen me before, who had lived with me in Japan and came here, found it difficult to recognise me. He asked me, 'But really, is it you?' I said, 'Obviously.'”
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. Shri Nolini Kanta Gupta, one of the earliest disciples, said of the Mother:
“The Mother taught by her manner and speech, and showed us in actual practice, what was the meaning of disciple and master; ... It was the Mother who opened our eyes...”
The foundations of the Ashram were being laid. In 1920, a great event occurred which put the seal of certainty on the work of Sri Aurobindo and the Mother. 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.
There were then twenty-four disciples. On that eventful day, they gathered in the verandah of Sri Aurobindo's room. On the wall behind Sri Aurobindo's chair was a black silk curtain showing three Chinese dragons. The tail of each dragon reached up to the mouth of the other. There was an old prophecy in China that Truth would manifest on earth when the three dragons would meet: They symbolize the regions of earth, mind and sky. After a short meditation, Sri Aurobindo and the Mother, for the first time, together blessed all the disciples. From that day, Sri Aurobindo handed over the complete spiritual and material charge of all the disciples to the Mother and withdrew into seclusion to concentrate on his sadhana of the Supermind.
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. For some time Sri Aurobindo and the Mother had discussed this possibility and Sri Aurobindo had told the Mother:
“If necessary ... I might go. You will have to fulfil our Yoga of Supramental descent and transformation.”
The descent of the Supermind took place on February 29, 1956. The Mother has described how this came about:
“This evening the Divine Presence, concrete and material, was there present amongst you. I had a form of living gold, bigger than the universe, and I was facing a huge and massive golden door which separated the world from the Divine. As I looked at the door, I knew and willed, in a single movement of consciousness, that, ‘the time has come', and lifting with both hands a mighty golden hammer I struck one blow, one single blow on the door and the door was shattered to pieces. Then the supramental Light and Force and Consciousness rushed down upon earth in an uninterrupted flow.”
A message was distributed, in which the Mother significantly modified one of her earlier prayers from the future to the present tense:
“Lord, Thou hast willed, and I execute:
A new light breaks upon the earth,
A new world is born.
The things that were promised are fulfilled.”
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 1954, Pondicherry merged politically with India. The Mother made an open declaration:
“I am French by birth and early education; I am Indian by choice and predilection. In my consciousness there is no antagonism between the two, on the contrary, they combine very well and complete one another. I know also that I can be of service to both equally, for my only aim in life is to give a concrete form to Sri Aurobindo's great teaching and in his teaching he reveals that all the nations are essentially one and meant to express the Divine Unity upon earth through an organised and harmonious diversity.”
The Ashram has now nearly 1200 members. With the number of devotees increasing all over the world, the Mother started the Sri Aurobindo Society in 1960. She was its Executive President. In 1964, the Mother launched the project of Auroville, the city of human unity, named after Sri Aurobindo. It is a city for 50,000 inhabitants, and is hailed by people from all over the world. In 1968, the foundation stone of Auroville was laid and the Mother read out the charter herself.
In 1972, the Birth Centenary of Sri Aurobindo was celebrated. The Mother took a personal interest in every part of the preparation and gave the following message:
“One more step towards Eternity.”
In 1973, on 17 November, after a brief illness, the Mother left her physical body. She was ninety-five. Nolini Kanta Gupta made the following declaration:
“Mother once told me—'If ever I leave my body, my consciousness will remain with you.'
Mother is present amongst us and Her work continues. Let us once more dedicate ourselves for work of transformation with utmost sincerity & faithfulness.”
Who is the Mother? Sri Aurobindo has declared in no uncertain terms:
“The One whom we adore as the Mother is the divine Conscious Force that dominates all existence, one and yet so many-sided that to follow her movement is impossible even for the quickest mind and for the freest and most vast intelligence.”
The Mother is One but manifests in the world through her many personalities. In the words of Sri Aurobindo:
“Four great Aspects of the Mother, four of her leading Powers and Personalities have stood in front in her guidance of this Universe and in her dealings with the terrestrial play. One is her personality of calm wideness and comprehending wisdom and tranquil benignity and inexhaustible compassion and sovereign and surpassing majesty and all-ruling greatness. Another embodies her power of splendid strength and irresistible passion, her warrior mood, her overwhelming will, her impetuous swiftness and world-shaking force. A third is vivid and sweet and wonderful with her deep secret of beauty and harmony and fine rhythm, her intricate and subtle opulence her compelling attraction and captivating Grace. The fourth is equipped with her close and profound capacity of intimate knowledge and careful flawless work and quiet and exact perfection in all things. Wisdom, Strength, Harmony, Perfection are their several attributes and it is these powers that they bring with them into the world, manifest in a human disguise in their Vibhutis and shall found in the divine degree of their ascension in those who can open their earthly nature to the direct and living influence of the Mother. To the four we give the four great names, Maheshwari, Mahakali, Mahalakshmi, Mahasaraswati...”
To the disciples, Sri Aurobindo has said:
“The Mother herself is the destination, everything is in her. When you find her you find all.”
Sri Aurobindo has revealed that the Mother is also Savitri who has descended here “into the Darkness that she may lead it to the Light, into the Falsehood and Error that she may convert it to the Truth, into this Death that she may turn it to godlike Life, into this world-pain and its obstinate sorrow and suffering that she may end it in the transforming ecstasy of her sublime Ananda.”
We can end this narration of the Mother’s life with a few lines from Sri Aurobindo’s epic Savitri,
“At the head she stands of birth and toil and fate,
In their slow round the cycles turn to her call;
Alone her hands can change Time's dragon base.
Hers is the mystery the Night conceals;
The spirit's alchemist energy is hers;
She is the golden bridge, the wonderful fire.
The luminous heart of the Unknown is she,
A power of silence in the depths of God;
She is the Force, the inevitable Word,
The magnet of our difficult ascent,
The Sun from which we kindle all our suns,
The Light that leans from the unrealised Vasts,
The joy that beckons from the impossible,
The Might of all that never yet came down.
All Nature dumbly calls to her alone
To heal with her feet the aching throb of life
And break the seals on the dim soul of man
And kindle her fire in the closed heart of things.”