Sri Aurobindo and the Mother on Anandamayi Ma

Anandamayi Ma(1896-1982) was a spiritual personality from Bengal, India.  Her birth name was Nirmala Sundari.  She attended the village school for two years.  Although her teachers were pleased with her ability, her family thought she was dull-minded because of her indifference and constantly happy demeanor. When her mother once fell seriously ill, relatives remarked with puzzlement about the child remaining apparently unaffected.

In 1908 at the age of thirteen, in keeping with the rural custom at the time, she was married to Ramani Mohan Chakrabarti of Vikramapura, whom she would later rename Bholanath.  The marriage was apparently never consummated. On the full moon night of August 1922, at midnight, twenty-six-year old Nirmala enacted her own spiritual initiation. She explained that the ceremony and its rights were being revealed to her spontaneously as and when they were called for. She later stated, “As the master (guru) I revealed the mantra; as the disciple (shishya) I accepted it and started to recite it.   Further details of her life story can be read on wikipedia and the website dedicated to her.   The guidance she provided to her disciples has been covered in an earlier article: Anandamayi Ma as the Guru.

Anandamayi Ma

Both Sri Aurobindo and the Mother could determine the soul of a person by looking at the person’s photograph.  Sri Aurobindo was once shown a photograph of Anandamayi Ma by his disciple, the musician Dilip Kumar Roy.  Sri Aurobindo said she was in the Sachchidananda(highest triune plane) consciousness. The question came up how can you have Sachchidananda consciousness unless you have supramental consciousness? How did she get Sachchidananda without doing the grades? Do you mean to say she has realised super-mind, that was the question. Sri Aurobindo said: no, one does not have to pass through all these graded levels of consciousness to experience the Sachchidananda for the simple reason that Sachchidananda is not only up there but here throughout. It is behind all, supporting all. The Upanishads say sarvam khalvidam brahmaBrahman is all this. And Sachchidananda being part of Brahman is also behind everything. At every level there is Sachchidananda. So even at the physical level, even without being highly developed mentally, without knowing the Sastras(scriptures), without having to pass through all these, one can just deepen the consciousness and realise the Sachchidananda. So there is a realisation of Sachchidananda at the physical level, at the vital level, every level.  But if you want to realise it evolutionarily, confirming it in every part of the being, you have to go through the gradations. If one has realised Sachchidananda at the physical or the emotional level, it is only there; the mind need not be illumined by Sachchidananda, the person may be very crude, undeveloped, but at a particular level he has the Sachchidananda Consciousness. Now Sri Aurobindo and Mother have emphasised the necessity of evolving spiritually because the whole of the person, right from the body upwards, is to be enlightened, illumined, possessed by the highest Consciousness. So it is only if you want to go up the evolutionary ladder that you have to go through the supermind, but you can always withdraw from the course of evolution and realise the Divine where you are[1].

Anandamayi Ma visited Pondicherry on Nov 3, 1952.  At eleven in the morning that day she had a meeting with “The Mother”, who stood in the sitting room of Sri Aurobindo. Mother looked at her for a long time with a fixed gaze as Ma looked at her with a natural poise. Mother’s eyes blinked after a long time. She presented Ma with a rose, a ‘ball’ flower (globe lily) and two pieces of chocolate. Ma returned the rose and one piece of chocolate. Mother kept the chocolate but gave the rose back. This exchange of flowers was repeated twice or thrice after which Mother tore a portion off the rose and returned the rest to Ma.

The same evening the two had another meeting at the same place. Mother was distributing roasted peanuts to visitors with a spoon from a wooden container. She offered some to Ma who said, “This little girl is the youngest of all.” Mother said in English, “Forever a little child.” The singer-saint Dilip Kumar Roy, an inmate of Pondicherry, met Ma several times during her stay and sang before her[2].

Anandamayi Ma’s account of her meeting with the Mother was recorded by Gurupriya Devi, a disciple of Anandamayi Ma.   Gurupriya Devi writes in the Ananda Varta magazine :

One day, when a number of us were sitting in Her room, the conversation turned to Mataji’s visit at the Pondicherry Ashram. A Brahmachari(monk) of our Ashram who had spent some time in Pondicherry was among the people present. He told us that while there, he had questioned Satubhai about Mataji’s meeting with the Mother of Pondicherry and Satubhai had told him that when the Mother saw Mataji for the first time, the Mother perceived a huge light resembling lightning and on either side of that light there were what seemed to be dark clouds. When asked about the meaning of the clouds the Mother said they might perhaps signify obstacles.

During this conversation Professor Jyotish Das Gupta, the brother-in-law of Sri Nalini Sen, who is an inmate of the Sri Aurobindo Ashram, was present. He said: “Ma, I also have been to Pondicherry. There someone told me that tbe Mother looked straight at you with a steady gaze and you, unable to bear it, lowered your eyes.” Professor J. Das Gupta related more of the kind and wanted to know what Mataji had to say about it all.

Mataji listened to everything and then said with a smile: “She is the Mother and this ( pointing to Herself) Her little daughter. What more is to be said about it ?”

But some of us including myself begged of Mataji: “Should not the actual facts be disclosed? Do please speak, Ma! For in this case it cannot be as it would with ordinary people like ourselves.”

When we went on pressing Mataji to explain to us what had really happened, She laughed heartily and at last responded: “As you know, Sri Haribabaji took this small child with him when he went on a pilgrimage to South India. This is precisely how this little child went to see the Mother of the Sri Aurobindo Ashram. This body did not approach the Mother in quest of spiritual experience or the like; a little girl is simple and natural in the presence of her own mother. You well know that the behaviour of this body is quite Unpredictable (‘elomelo‘ in Bengali): here there is no question of giving or receiving power, of finding anything bearable or unbearable-whatever comes to pass at any time is as it should be. As this body feels here with you now, just exactly the same it felt at Pondicherry. What is the difference between this body, the Mother and you all ? From your angle of vision only they are different one from the other.

“Very well then, since you are eager to hear, listen. When the Mother came and stood before this body, this body out of its own kheyal (Divine Intuition) looked straight into the Mother’s eyes and for a moment, just as it looks at all of you ; but then the kheyal came that the sadhus who had come with us were all being kept standing and so this body for a second looked in their direction; then again there was the kheyal to respond fully to the blinkless gaze of the Mother. Thus this body of its own accord did look directly into the Mother’s eyes for some length of time, did it not ? Then the Mother herself lowered her glance and put a flower into my hand; an exchange of flowers followed.”

Turning to us Mataji added : “You all witnessed this yourselves. The Mother’s eyes did not even radiate intense light while focused on this small girl. In other words did my Mother attract and hold the eyes of this small girl with her glance as is done in the case of others? This is the exact truth of the matter.”

After pausing for a while, Mataji spoke again. “Some years ago, when this body met Satubhai, he talked about the Mother of the Sri Aurobindo Ashram and said that when one goes for her darshan she gazes straight and steadily into one’s eyes. At that time this body had the kheyal (Divine Intuition) ‘Very well, if ever circumstances bring about a meeting of this body with the Mother, this body will behave quite naturally according to its kheyal; whatever happens is as it should be’.”

Mataji laughed and then continued : “If someone had told this body that at the Pondicherry Ashram it was a rule to respond from the very beginning to the Mother’s gaze and look straight into her eyes, this body would have had the kheyal to do accordingly. Every place and every condition, wherever and whatever they may be, are but the ONE. If the kheyal had come, this body would spontaneously have acted (to whatever extent it might be) as consistent with the demands of that particular place. Where this body was made to stay, there it stayed. When and where it was taken to see (someone or something ) it did go and see at the appointed time and place. Further it sat down or stood up, etc. for precisely the length of time and at any particular spot that was in keeping with the ritual of the place, so far as it had been made known to this body. From your worldly point of view there are no doubt a great many different ways of expressing things. So long as the individual is what it is and has not been freed from its knots, how can a correct solution of any problem be arrived at ? Suppose the Mother’s gaze had been met by the gaze of this body from beginning to end, this might have given you the chance of saying : ‘Look, Mataji held the eyes of the Mother with such power that the Mother was incapable of averting her eyes.”

Here Mataji broke out into ringing laughter and then remarked : “This is the kind of thing you might have said, is it not ? Look, all forms are but the expressions of the Power of the One Lord; at different times He manifests in different ways.”[3].

Globe Lily (Calochortus albus), the flower presented by the Mother to Anandamayi Ma. Photo courtesy: yosemitehikes.com. Click image for source.

References

  1. M.P. Pandit’s account  (online)
  2. Buddhadev Bhattacharya.  Anandamayee – The Universal Mother.  (online)
  3. Gurupriya Devi.  “Pages from my Diary”.  Ananda Varta, Vol VII, No 4 1960. p 171  (online)

Related Posts

  1. The Mother Mirra Alfassa as a Guru
  2. Anandamayi Ma as the Guru
  3. How does a Guru act?
  4. Sri Aurobindo’s interaction with an American soldier during World War II
  5. The first meeting of Sri Aurobindo and the Mother Mirra Alfassa
  6. Silviu Craciunas has a dream of Sri Aurobindo
  7. Can I have more than one Guru?
  8. How can Sri Aurobindo smoke and drink while practising Yoga?
  9. Sri Aurobindo’s 1947 meeting with two French visitors
  10. Significance of places of worship, relics and prayer rooms
  11. On collective prayer and meditation
  12. Modalities of the Initiation process (Diksha)
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14 thoughts on “Sri Aurobindo and the Mother on Anandamayi Ma

  1. mike

    So. how does the Satchitananda realisation differ from Self-Realisation, or are they the same – can we realise the Self on different levels too?
    l think Ramana was supposed to be Self-Realised, but can’t remember what SA said. l know SA said that Self-Realisation is just the beginning of His Yoga.

    Reply
    1. Sandeep Post author

      Sri Aurobindo said: no, one does not have to pass through all these graded levels of consciousness to experience the Sachchidananda for the simple reason that Sachchidananda is not only up there but here throughout.

      What he is saying here is that in each of the seven planes of consciousness, all other planes are latent by virtue of design and hence can be evoked. See this passage in the Life Divine:

      It follows that wherever Cosmos is, there, even if only one principle be initially apparent, even if at first that seem to be the sole principle of things and everything else that may appear afterwards in the world seem to be no more than its forms and results and not in themselves indispensable to cosmic existence, such a front presented by being can only be an illusory mask or appearance of its real truth. Where one principle is manifest in Cosmos, there all the rest must be not merely present and passively latent, but secretly at work. In any given world its scale and harmony of being may be openly in possession of all seven at a higher or lower degree of activity; in another they may be all involved in one which becomes the initial or fundamental principle of evolution in that world, but evolution of the involved there must be. The evolution of the sevenfold power of being, the realisation of its septuple Name, must be the destiny of any world which starts apparently from the involution of all in one power. Therefore the material universe was bound in the nature of things to evolve from its hidden life apparent life, from its hidden mind apparent mind, and it must in the same nature of things evolve from its hidden Supermind apparent Supermind and from the concealed Spirit within it the triune glory of Sachchidananda.

      (Life Divine, CWSA vol. 21-22, page 283, Chapter on “Sevenfold Chord of Being”)

      From what I understand, the basic plain-vanilla Self-realization can be gained by activating the Sahasrara Chakra. The chattering brain falls silent, the heart is at peace and the world feels like a dream. This is what Sri Aurobindo calls the “spiritualised mind“. In this stage, one may get flashes of intuition from time to time but one is not completely conscious of the world being permeated by the Divine.

      In the Synthesis of Yoga, he describes the three realizations of the Isha Upanishad (verse 6) which are necessary: “This is the realisation which the ancient Vedantins spoke of as seeing all existences in the self and the self in all existences; and in addition they speak of the crowning realisation of the man in whom the original miracle of existence has been repeated, self-being has become all these existences that belong to the worlds of the becoming. In these three terms is expressed, fundamentally, the whole of that real relation between the self and the world which we have to substitute for the false relation created by the limiting ego. This is the new vision and sense of infinite being which we have to acquire, this the foundation of that unity with all which we have to establish.” (Synthesis of Yoga, SABCL vol 20, p 353)

      In this context, Amal Kiran narrates a conversation he had with the Mother:
      Mother had once told me that one can realise the Divine in the vital plane and remain there only and think ‘this is it’ and not move, progress any more. And then one becomes a Guru! (Amal Kiran Poet and Critic, p 206)

      Reply
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    1. Sandeep Post author

      Mother on women mystics

      There have been many outstanding feminine figures in spiritual life. But on one side women are more interested by action than by mentalisation and intellectual expression, that is why very few women have recorded their spiritual experience and thus they have remained unknown (Collected Works of the Mother, vol. 14, p 289)

      Reply
  3. mike

    “In this context, Amal Kiran narrates a conversation he had with the Mother:
    Mother had once told me that one can realise the Divine in the vital plane and remain there only and think ‘this is it’ and not move, progress any more. And then one becomes a Guru! (Amal Kiran Poet and Critic, p 206)”

    l was walking down the street today and this quote came to mind. lt made me think that most of the so-called Guru’s and some so-called Avatars [notably Sai Baba, M.Meera, Chinmoy etc] probably fall into this category. l know we only have SA and Mother’s opinion about this [l haven’t realised anything so l don’t know] but l am inclined to believe what She says in that sentence].

    Reply
    1. Sandeep Post author

      These are some remarks by Sri Aurobindo on the same topic:

      Disciple : What happens when one realizes the Spirit?

      Sri Aurobindo : Generally, when one realizes the Spirit, it is the mental sense of the ego that is abolished; but the vital and the physical still retain their egoistic movements. That is what most Yogis mean when they say “It is nature”. They mostly allow it to run its course and when the body drops, it also drops; but, it is not transformation. That is what Vivekananda meant when he said that “human nature cannot be changed, that it was like a dog’s tail, you can straighten it if you like, but as soon as you leave it, it is curved again.”

      Disciple : What is really meant by this “nature”?

      Sri Aurobindo : It means that the subconsciousness has in it certain gathered powers which impose themselves on the human being.

      Disciple : How to transform or change this human nature?

      Sri Aurobindo : In order to change human nature you have to work from level to level; you reject a thing from the mind, it comes to the vital. When you reject it from the vital, then it comes to the physical and then you find it in the subconscient. There is a central point in the subconscient that has to be changed. If that is done, then everything is done. It is from there that resistance rises from Nature–that is what Vivekananda meant. To effect complete transformation you have to bring down everything to the subconcient, and it is very difficult.

      (A.B. Purani, Evening Talks, Third Series, 7th January, 1939)

      Reply
  4. mike

    As usual the Master makes perfect sense.
    lt’s this clarity that attracted me to Him in the first place.

    Reply
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  6. Pingback: Adventures in Consciousness with Sri Aurobindo: part 3 « Aaron Asphar

  7. Sanak Mishra

    Really enjoyed reading it.Being a novice in this path it has certain guidance to lift my Sadhana in a new way.
    With warm regards

    Reply

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