Guiding Light of The Month

THERE is a great difference between being in the midst of active work, of external action, while keeping one’s thought constantly fixed on Thee, and entering into that perfect union with Thee which leads to what I have called “absolute Consciousness, true Omniscience, Knowledge”. - The Mother

Approaches To The Divine - A selection from ‘On The Mother’

On the threshold of a vast inner change and development, - a revolution and transformation in terms of the Spirit, - Mirra now sought other means than group discussions, more highly sensitised and delicate means than essays in persuasion, to prepare for the imminent inner change, to accelerate the spiritual growth and development. These new engines of Mirra’s sadhana- new only in the sense that they were now more frequently and fully brought into play- were prayer and meditation. With the spiritual seeker, prayer is no vulgar mendicancy for a material gift or advantage, say, success in an election or examination, business prosperity, or even mere release from physical distress or pain. Prayer has more fundamental aims, other resplendent potencies, and the true spiritual aspirant, conscious of these far aims, mobilizes by the power of prayer these supernal forces.

Mirra had already reached an advanced stage of occult knowledge and inner development when she commenced the new spiritual adventure of regular meditation and prayer, and their faithful transcription day after day. This was an individual opening out to the Unknown, an intimate dialogue with the Divine. Every day she sat at dawn near the window of her room in No. 9, Rue du Val de Grace, with a Kashmiri shawl wrapped closely about her. After a brief session of intense mediation, she set down on paper her ruminations feelings, hopes, aspirations, anxieties, visions and experiences. Being private and a spontaneous recordation, she kept this spiritual diary scrupulously under lock and key; it was, after all, a secret between the Divine and herself.

These diary-jottings, these articulate approaches to the Infinite, these pointer-readings of Mirra’s mystical life began “several weeks” before the keynote entry on 2 November 1912, and were to continue for a few years with a more or less sustained regularity; then the entries were to become fewer and far between, and at last stop altogether in 1931. In all they were to fill five stout notebooks, but it was only afterwards that their contents were to be revealed even to Sri Aurobindo who advised the publication of a selection. This was how they appeared in 1932 in the original French as ‘Prieres et Meditations de la Mere’. By a supreme act of self-abnegation, the Mother was later to consign to the flames in a boiler in the Ashram the rest of the work, perhaps the greater part.

The selected work as published in French has been described by the French poet and mystic, Maurice Magre, as “the highest perfection in style of which French is capable of,” an opinion shared by many who are entitled to speak with authority on French writing. In 1941, English translations of 61 of the prayers were published under the title ‘Prayers and Meditations’. These are manuscripts in Sri Aurobindo’s hand of several of them. For the rest, there are manuscripts written by a disciple and extensively revised by Sri Aurobindo. A fuller edition was published in 1948. Like the French, the English version is a classic in its own right. As Rishabhchand puts it:

“These Prayers are no glistening gossamer of imaginative idealism nor an imposing fabric of theological speculation, but undeniable facts of spiritual realization, - truths seen, words heard, forms touched, at least as concretely as the objects of our senses, but all in a world or worlds of light, sealed to the sense-bound consciousness of man.”

The English renderings perhaps miss here and there the simple beauty, the radiant native force, the inevitable glow of phrasing, the compelling insinuating rhythms of the French original. But the work of translation has been very sensitively carried out, and it is the general feeling that much of the fervour, the mystic élan and the poetic flavour of the original has been retained in the English version as well. There is no doubt that the work, whether in French or in English, is a superb embodiment of the lyra mystica, and a spiritual testament for all time.

(K.R. Srinivasa Iyengar, ‘On The Mother - The chronicle of A Manifestation and Ministry’, Sri Aurobindo International Centre of Education, Pondicherry.)

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