Guiding Light of The Month

In this immense heroic struggle, in this sublime struggle of love against hatred, of justice against injustice, of obedience to Thy supreme law against revolt, may I gradually be able to make humanity worthy of a still sublimer peace in which, all internal dissensions having ceased, the whole effort of man may be united for the attainment of a more and more perfect and integral realisation of Thy divine Will and Thy progressive ideal. - The Mother

Mother of Wisdom : Maheshwari

Her personality of calm wideness and comprehending wisdom and tranquil benignity and inexhaustible compassion and sovereign and surpassing majesty and all-ruling greatness.

Sri Aurobindo begins his description of Maheshwari by calling her “Imperial Maheshwari” – she is the Divine Ruler. When I first read about her, I imagined a remote figure. She was beautiful, seated on a throne, and seemed far above my own world. In one sense, my first instinct was correct: she governs us – our inner being and its aspirations and, in true spirit of governance, she appears removed from the immediacy of our struggles. Yet, because she is also the embodiment of “inexhaustible compassion,” her throne, her seat of governance, is never inaccessible to us. Sri Aurobindo says “even her rejections are only a postponement; even her punishments are a grace.” How beautiful – I feel emboldened when I read that. She does not say “no” only “not yet.”

We see a measure of this compassion in ‘Savitri’,

Out of her hushed eternal spaces leaned
The great and boundless Goddess feigned to yield
The sunlit sweetness of her secrecies.
Book 2 Canto XI

When we seek to understand All-Wisdom, she “feigns to yield” her secret – much as when a child grabs her mother’s skirt and thinks that her grip is holding her mother in place. Instead, it is the mother’s love for the child which is allowing the child to believe that she can control her mother by gripping her skirt. It is the Mother’s love and Her compassion that permits my thought-bound experience to become aware of Her. Sri Aurobindo says that Maheshwari is seated “above the thinking mind.” I always imagined this seat as far away because so much of my day is spent in the thinking mind. What I value most in life is the excitement when encountering a new idea, the joy of going beyond a thorny perspective, and the satisfaction of recognizing a wider truth. All these seem to me entirely the right things to do if I am to grow. Yet, all of these activities happen within the thinking mind. All these activities are in the realm of knowledge, not wisdom. In the space above the thinking mind lies a field of awareness – of feeling as well as thinking. When I think of the word “Love” in that space, it is both an embodied concept (those I love) and a movement within me (what I feel). “Love” in this space is also an access to something greater than my physical, mental or emotional ability. I sense its largeness even if I cannot articulate it or enter the experience of it. This awareness of something greater – that is the beginnings of my understanding of Maheshwari’s presence. The nearest example is of my parents who are presently far from me geographically and yet, when I am speaking to them on the phone, or thinking of them, they are not far at all. I experience both their nearness and their physical distance at the same time. My awareness of the Divine Mother is much the same: when I am trying to articulate the experience, words fail and she seems remote; yet, when I move beyond merely articulating what I know into experiencing her, she is very near.

This distinction between knowledge and wisdom is central to my understanding of the Mother as Maheshwari. To know her, they say, is to love her. How beautifully we glide from the mental to emotional. Just so, if we know her within, we become aware of her and it is in this awareness that we begin our journey in the paths of wisdom. Sri Aurobindo describes how Maheshwari grants us access “to the treasure-house of miraculous knowledge.” The OED defines a miracle as “a surprising and welcome event that is not explicable by natural or scientific laws” and knowledge as “the theoretical or practical understanding of a subject.” These two elements (miracle and knowledge) in my mind have always been exclusive – if you understand something, how does it retain its wonder, how does it remain inexplicable? So when Sri Aurobindo tells us that Maheshwari gives access to miraculous knowledge, he challenges my easy categories. This passage reinforces something Professor Nadkarni once mentioned. He was quoting the Mother who talked about how our perception of a miracle needs to alter. We need to see even the ordinary as part of the miracle wrought by the Divine. Here is her response:

A miracle is nothing but a sudden descent, a bursting forth of another consciousness and its powers — most often it is the powers of the vital — into this plane of matter. There is a precipitation, upon the material mechanism, of the mechanism of a higher plane. It is as though a lightning flash tore through the cloud of our ordinary consciousness and poured into it other forces, other movements and sequences. The result we call a miracle, because we see a sudden alteration, an abrupt interference with the natural laws of our own ordinary range, but the reason and order of it we do not know or see, because the source of the miracle lies in another plane. Such incursions of the worlds beyond into our world of matter are not very uncommon, they are even a constant phenomenon, and if we have eyes and know how to observe we can see miracles in abundance.
–  ‘Questions and Answers (1929 – 31)

“To see miracles in abundance” is to be granted access to the treasure-house of miraculous knowledge; to know with a deeper knowledge that will encompass our senses and go beyond into an awareness of what lies beyond our perception.  So what holds me back from this knowledge? My own limited aspirations – distracting me from this treasure-house. I am like the explorer who discovers the vast treasure rooms and gets distracted by glories of the outer chambers instead of venturing to the heart where the greatest treasure will be available. But it is the grace and sweetness of Maheshwari that she ensures that despite distractions, we will all be granted this wisdom, this access to Divine Truth.

-          Ramalakshmi

Ramalakshmi Janamanchi has grown up in our Centre and was introduced to ‘Savitri’ by Professor Nadkarni and Mrs. Sonia Dyne. Now a mother of two, she lives in Cleveland, Ohio and is a member of our virtual community. We are glad to include another of her insightful articles in this issue of our Newsletter.   

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