The Life and Work of Sri Aurobindo and the Mother
The book “Beyond Man” by Georges van Vrekhem is based on documents which have never been presented before as a whole by other authors. It gives a surprising look behind the scenes of the history of this century. It presents a positive evaluation of the crisis our Earth is subject to at this very moment and it opens a vertiginous but hopeful perspective on the coming of a superhuman species and a divine life upon Earth.
Evolution is not finished; reason is not the last word nor the reasoning animal the supreme figure of Nature. As man emerged out of the animal, so out of man the superman emerges. – Sri Aurobindo
“Beyond Man” begins with Sri Aurobindo’s youth in England and his years in India as a freedom fighter against British colonial rule. This is followed by a description of the youth of Mirra Alfassa (the Mother) among the painters and artists in Paris and of her evolution into an accomplished occultist in Algeria. Both discovered their spiritual destiny, which brings them ultimately together, in Pondicherry. Around them disciples gathered into what would evolve into the Sri Aurobindo Ashram. There they worked together, towards the realization of their integral yoga and their lives mission: the establishment of the supramental consciousness upon Earth, the spiritual transformation of the world and the coming of a new species beyond man.
After Sri Aurobindo’s Mahasamadhi in 1950, the Mother continued the work. In November 1973, having realized a supramental embodiment, she too left her physical body. But before that, in 1968, she had founded Auroville, an international township created for those who want to participate in an accelerated evolution. Today, over 2000 people from all over the world reside permanently in Auroville.
Author: Georges Van Vrekhem
Print Length: 544 pages
Publisher: Stichting Aurofonds
Sold by: Amazon.com
Book format: Kindle
Part One: Aurobindo Ghose and Mirra Alfassa
- 1. A Perfect Gentleman
- 2. The Most Dangerous Man in India
- 3. A Backdoor to Spirituality
- 4. Of Painters and Occultists
- 5. Twelve Pearls
- 6. The Arya
- 7. Sri Aurobindo’s Vision
- 8. Homo Sum
- 9. From Man to Superman
- 10. The Two-In-One
- 11. All Life is Yoga
Part Two: Sri Aurobindo and the Mother
- 12. Krishna and the World of the Gods
- 13. Sri Aurobindo and the ‘Laboratory’
- 14. The Mother and the ‘Laboratory’
- 15. A Night in November
- 16. The Lord of the Nations
- 17. The Five ‘Dreams’ of Sri Aurobindo
- 18. The Confrontation with Death
Part Three: The Mother Alone
- 19. Twelve Quiet Days
- 20. The Golden Day
- 21. The Ship from the New World
- 22. Making Possible the Impossible
- 23. Two Rooms
- 24. The Transfer of Power
- 25. The New Utopia: Auroville
- 26. In the Crucible
- 27. The New Body
- 28 The Caterpillar and the Butterfly
Epilogue: The Sun For Ever
History very seldom records the things that were decisive but took place behind the veil; it records the show in front of the curtain.
— Sri Aurobindo
It looked as if the advance of the German armies was unstoppable in those days of August 1914, and the fate of Paris and the whole of France seemed sealed. The Germans had followed the von Schlieffen Plan to the letter and with spectacular success. Their right flank, fast advancing parallel to the Channel coast, still had to march in a southerly direction for a couple of days and then turn left to encircle what remained of the apparently defeated French and British troops. They would then march triumphantly into Paris, the capital and symbol of Western civilization. The French government had fled to Bordeaux under cover of darkness. The weak Paris garrison, commanded by General Joseph Galliéni, expected that it would be exterminated along with the city.
It was then that Madame Richard, née Mirra Alfassa, thirty-six years of age, was sitting in meditation near the window of a house in Dupleix Street in Pondicherry, a small French port with some surrounding territory on the Coromandel coast in South India. The Parisian Madame Richard, was an accomplished occultist and advanced in spirituality. She had accompanied her second husband, Paul Richard, to Pondicherry in order to meet Aurobindo Ghose, the revolutionary extremist politician from Bengal, who had sought refuge in that sleepy French town to escape the grip of the British and work out his still more revolutionary yoga. Their meetings had been up to Mirra’s highest expectations and she now sat near that window with a view of the house where Aurobindo Ghose resided.
All at once, immersed in deep concentration but with her eyes open, she saw Kali, the naked, black goddess of battle and destruction, wearing a garland of skulls around her neck, entering the room through the door. ‘She executed her dance, a really wild dance. And she said to me: “Paris is taken! Paris will be destroyed!” We had no news at all [about the war situation] … I was in meditation. I turned towards her and said: “No, Paris will not be taken, Paris will be saved,” quietly, without raising my voice, but with a certain emphasis.’ That was how Mirra Alfassa told the incident to the children of the Ashram many years later, when everybody called her the Mother.
The extreme German right wing was under the command of General von Kluck, the very model of the Prussian military man. So thoroughly convinced was he of a debacle in the enemy ranks, that he deemed it unnecessary to follow von Schlieffen’s strategic plan any longer. Instead of marching on towards the south and then moving left, straight towards Paris, he intended to execute the left turn at once in order to cut off the withdrawing, exhausted enemy, and to deal with Paris afterwards. German headquarters, informed too late about von Kluck’s intentions, approved of the plan — a blunder which would cost the Germans victory and eventually the war, as vividly narrated in Barbara Tuchman’s book, The Guns of August. What nobody had thought possible happened: the physical and moral resources of the French were still sufficient to reorganize their battered armies; for once the British cooperated with them readily; and the garrison of Paris, reinforced in the meantime, attacked the Germans in their virtually unprotected right flank. The situation developed into the Battle of the Marne, and the war of the quick marches became a war of the trenches. Paris was not taken, Paris was saved.
Another crucial historical event. In May 1940, the Germans, this time led by their Führer, Adolf Hitler, again looked unstoppable. Their tanks rumbled through the low countries and through the Ardennes towards the French Channel ports. By this manoeuvre they would, again, try to cut off the withdrawing French forces and the British Expeditionary Force. The Blitzkrieg would then be over in less than no time, and Hitler would reign as the supreme lord and master of the greatest part of Europe and maybe of the world.
However, ‘That evening [of 24 May] four Panzer divisions were stopped at the Aa Canal. The tank crews were astounded. No fire was coming from the opposite shore! Beyond, they could make out the peaceful spires of Dunkirk. Had Operations gone crazy? The division commanders were even more amazed. They knew they could take Dunkirk with little trouble since the British were still heavily engaged near Lille. Why weren’t they allowed to seize the last escape route to England?’ Thus writes John Toland in his standard biography of Adolf Hitler. The hesitation would eventually cost the Germans dearly: it would cost them the war. Goering had requested from Hitler the honour and the pleasure of being allowed to smash with his Luftwaffe the enemy troops, densely and helplessly packed on the beaches of Dunkirk; for reasons as yet incomprehensible, Hitler had given his consent. ‘But fog came to the rescue of the British. Not only was Dunkirk itself enshrouded but all the Luftwaffe fields were blanketed by low clouds which grounded their three thousand bombers.’ In the meantime an unbelievable ragtag fleet of about 900 ships and boats of all shapes and sizes carried 338,226 British and Allied troops across the Channel between 24 May and 4 June. ‘Oddly, the continuing evacuation did not seem to perturb Hitler,’ remarks Toland, and his prey had escaped before he realized what was going on.
In Pondicherry, Aurobindo Ghose, now called Sri Aurobindo, sat in the company of a few disciples for their daily conversation in his apartment, which he had not left since 1926. He had already pointed to the fact that the surrender of Belgium meant that the harbours of Dunkirk and Calais would fall to the Germans. ‘There is no hope for them [the Allies] unless Dunkirk can hold on or if they can rush through a gap in the French line.’ Remarkable strategic insight from a yogi who lived in apparent retirement but followed the war step by step with utmost attention. Nirodbaran noted down in his Talks With Sri Aurobindo what Sri Aurobindo had said on the evening of 31 May: ‘So, they are getting away from Dunkirk!’ A disciple had answered: ‘Yes. It seems the fog helped the evacuation.’ To which Sri Aurobindo had added: ‘Yes. Fog is rather unusual at this time.’ And Nirodbaran comments: ‘By saying this, it seemed Sri Aurobindo wanted to hint that the Mother and he had made this fog to help the Allies.’ The war events are discussed in the conversations throughout the book, and Sri Aurobindo twice confirms explicitly that Great Britain and her allies were saved ‘by divine intervention’. Afterwards he wrote in a letter (about himself although in the third person): ‘In his retirement Sri Aurobindo kept a close watch on all that was happening in the world and in India and actively intervened whenever necessary, but solely with a spiritual force and silent spiritual action … Inwardly, he put his spiritual force behind the Allies from the moment of Dunkirk when everybody was expecting the immediate fall of England and the definite triumph of Hitler, and he had the satisfaction of seeing the rush of German victory almost immediately arrested and the tide of war begin to turn in the opposite direction.’
These are but two of the many times Sri Aurobindo and the Mother intervened in the history of the twentieth century, as related by themselves and as documented in the literature which they have left behind. Never did they flaunt these actions; they mentioned their interventions most of the time casually in confidential conversations that were made public long afterwards. Putting all the facts together, one gets the impression that the historical unfolding of the twentieth century happened, as it were, in interaction with their spiritual endeavour. While this may sound nonsensical or grossly exaggerated, there can be no doubt about the consistency and the sincerity of their sayings.
There is a vast and rich literature in connection with this subject. The collected works of Sri Aurobindo comprise more than thirty volumes, many of them quite substantial; up to now, eighteen volumes of the collected works of the Mother have been published, consisting for the most part of tape-recorded conversations afterwards written out and approved by her; the Agendacontaining her conversations with Satprem is published in thirteen volumes; there is also their correspondence, countless conversations noted down by Nirodbaran Talukdar, A.B. Purani and others; and also reminiscences, collections of anecdotes, newly discovered and deciphered texts published by the Archives of the Sri Aurobindo Ashram, material in the commentaries of diverse authors, and so on. It is probably the most extensive literature available in connection with any spiritual personality.
The Life Divine, Sri Aurobindo’s philosophical magnum opus, was praised by Aldous Huxley and his epic poems Savitri and Ilion by Herbert Read. The latter wrote: ‘Sri Aurobindo’s Ilionis a remarkable achievement by any standard and I am full of amazement that someone not of English origin should have such a wonderful command not only of our English language as such, but of its skillful elaboration in poetic diction of such high quality.’ Golconde, a guest house for visitors of the Ashram, planned by the Mother in the Thirties and built under her direct supervision, was lauded by the great architect Charles Correa as ‘the finest example of modern functional architecture built in India in the pre-Independence period.’ The Swedish academy was examining Sri Aurobindo’s candidature for the Nobel Prize for literature in 1950, the year he expired; his nomination had been seconded by Gabriela Mistral and Pearl S. Buck. In December 1972 Newsweek magazine published in its international edition an article on the Mother under the heading, The Next Great Religion?
Yet, Sri Aurobindo and the Mother are but little known and, if known, usually misunderstood. Upon what did they base their claims of their occult influence on the historical processes which have carried the world to the threshold of a new millennium? What was the deeper meaning of the collaboration between a freedom fighter and yogi from Bengal and a Parisian painter and occultist, who had been living in the city of her birth for ten years among the impressionist and post-impressionist crowd of writers, painters and sculptors? If so much of their literary, philosophical and practical accomplishments have been appreciated by knowledgeable persons, could it be that what they considered their real Work was nothing but a delusion?
I have based this book on all available documents; these documents have, for various reasons, not yet been treated as a whole by previous authors. The truthfulness of the authentic writings, conversations and sayings of Sri Aurobindo and the Mother is not in question. The result of the convergence of these documents is important to all of us and may provide some insight into the things that were decisive but took place behind the veil. It is an insight that will enable us to comprehend the present planetary crisis and to cast a glance into the next century, into the new millennium.