She was drawn to his presence and the Ashram took shape.

“Why do you sit thus with a set face, as if the whole world were pressing upon you?” a mother asked her little daughter, christened Mirra, sitting in her tiny chair oblivious to the world around her. The fashionable Paris in the latter half of the 19th century certainly had much to interest a child of an aristocratic family!

But the child’s answer, charged by her sincerity, must have come as a shock to the fond mother: “Yes, indeed, I do feel the weight of the world’s miseries pressing upon me!”

Different perceptions

She was radically different from her relatives and all contemporaries, in her perception of events and values. As she recollected later: “Between 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 different teachers… Later on, as the interior and exterior development proceeded, the spiritual and psychic relation with one of these beings became more clear and frequent…” She called this being Krishna, without mentally realising the term’s significance.

Despite her splendidly different Inner life, she adjusted herself well with her environment and always led groups of young men and women in their quest for the ultimate goal of life.

As is well-known, Sri Aurobindo had come over to Pondicherry in 1910, after a turbulent phase in politics that included a year’s incarceration. It was chance, “the pseudonym God uses when He does not wish to put down His signature” that brought Mirra to Sri Aurobindo’s presence on March 29, 1914, in the afternoon. In him she saw at once the Krishna of her childhood vision. She wrote in her diary, “It matters not if there are hundreds 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, when Thy reign shall be indeed established upon earth.”

The breaking out of World War 1 obliged her to return to France, but she was back in 1920 to be amidst the small group of disciples residing with Sri Aurobindo. Like children gathering around their mother, more and more people joined the community of seekers and indeed they found in her their Mother, both human and spiritual. It was under her enlightened care that the Ashram took shape.

Sri Aurobindo passed away in 1950. But his ideal of humanity transcending all religious or ideological bias, aspiring for a transformed consciousness, found a daring expression in the Mother’s launching the City of Dawn, the Auroville.

All these and much more remained inbuilt in that glorious moment of the Mother meeting Sri Aurobindo. She declared, “Without him I exist not; without me he is unmanifest.”