The Mother was born in Paris on 21 February 1878. She was named Mirra Alfassa. She was the daughter of Maurice Alfassa and Mathilde Ismaloun who had emigrated earlier from Turkey to Egypt and then to France with their son Matteo (born in 1876) one year before Mirra’s birth.
From her very childhood she became conscious that she had come on earth with a special mission. She felt that she was going to do some tremendously great work about which nobody knew. She started having spiritual experiences when still very young. She once told: “Between the ages of 11 and 13 a series of psychic and spiritual experiences revealed to me not only the existence of God, but man’s possibility of uniting with Him, of realising Him integrally in consciousness and action, of manifesting Him upon earth in a life divine. This, along with a practical discipline for its fulfilment, was given to me during my body’s sleep by several teachers, some of whom I met afterwards on the physical plane. Later on, as the interior and exterior development proceeded, the spiritual and psychic relation with one of these Beings became more and more clear and frequent.” At that time Mirra knew little about India and its culture but she called this Being ‘Krishna’. She had a firm conviction that she was going to meet him one day.
When Mirra was fifteen she joined one of the best art studios of Paris to learn drawing and painting. She had a natural talent for painting and soon became an accomplished artist. Some of her paintings were exhibited at the Paris Salon along with those of the noted artists of that period. Besides being a great painter she was a gifted musician and writer. She was well acquainted with some of the best artists of that time.
The Mother had a natural disposition for occult science and was having many occult experiences. In 1906 and 1907 she made two visits to Tlemcen, Algeria, for a systematic study and practice of occultism with a great adept, Max Theon, and his wife Alma. During these visits she practised occultism intensely and achieved a remarkable perfection in this field. But for her it was only a side issue, never an end in itself but only a help in her great spiritual mission.
On March 29, 1914, the Mother arrived in Pondicherry from Paris to meet Sri Aurobindo. About their first meeting the Mother later said: “As soon as I saw Sri Aurobindo I recognised in him the well-known being whom I used to call Krishna… And this is enough to explain why I am fully convinced that my place and my work are near him, in India.” Next day of this meeting the Mother wrote in her spiritual diary: “It matters little that there are thousands of beings plunged in the densest ignorance, He whom we saw yesterday is on earth; his presence is enough to prove that a day will come when darkness shall be transformed into light, and Thy reign shall be indeed established upon earth.” Fifteen years later, recollecting the first meeting with the Mother, Sri Aurobindo said: “That was the first time I knew that perfect surrender to the last physical cell was humanly possible…”
After a stay of about 11 months in Pondicherry the Mother had to leave India because of the First World War. She came back on April 24, 1920, this time never to leave Pondicherry again, and resumed her collaboration with Sri Aurobindo. It was after her final arrival in Pondicherry that the foundation of the Ashram was laid.
On 24 November, 1926, a major goal in Sri Aurobindo’s yoga was achieved. On this day the Overmind Delight Consciousness of Sri Krishna descended in the physical. It was the indispensable basis for the descent of the Supermind in the physical. After this day Sri Aurobindo withdrew completely to concentrate on his work of preparing the physical for the descent of the Supermind and entrusted the entire charge of the Ashram to the Mother. From now onwards, the Mother guided in details the Ashram life and the spiritual progress of the sadhaks. She became the nucleus of the Ashram life.
We may recall that the goal of Sri Aurobindo’s yoga was the descent of the Supramental Consciousness into the physical but it couldn’t be achieved in his life time. The purpose of his leaving his body was to facilitate this descent. After he left his body this momentous task devolved on the Mother. And due to their combined efforts, this boon of unparalleled importance for the earth came on 29 February, 1956. The Mother announced the Supramental Manifestation in these words:
“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.”
The Mother also founded the Sri Aurobindo International Centre of Education in 1951 and the international township Auroville in 1968. The Mother left her body on 17 November, 1973. In the last few years of her life she was occupied with the yoga of physical transformation i.e. the transformation of the cells of physical body.
(Some selections from Sri Aurobindo’s book ‘The Mother’)
“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… To the four we give the four great names, Maheshwari, Mahakali, Mahalakshmi, Mahasaraswati…”