Mukhopadhyay, Aju. The Mother of All Beings. New Delhi: Authors Press, 2012. pp. 155. Rs. 195 (HB)
Aju Mukhopadhyay is a brilliant writer, poet, essayist and critic who has produced a good amount of literature on Sri Aurobindo and the Mother. The Mother of All Beings (2012) is his eleventh book in this series that deals with the life and works of the Mother. The writer makes “an attempt to present Mirra Alfassa, the artiste and genius of geniuses, the Mother of innumerable children, freeing her from the turbid flow of superstitious flocks, how she carried her divine self in her single breast, enacting the most courageous spiritual adventure of transformation of the body defying the dire clutches of death till she could endure, in accord with the supramental Yoga of Sri Aurobindo, as his sole collaborator assigned to carry on the work.”
There are eighteen chapters in the book that have been divided into three sections. The first section covers nine chapters that constitute the half part of the book. The remaining two sections are entitled ‘Dramas’ and ‘Short Stories’ respectively. The first section of the book deals with the essential elements of Mother’s life and spiritual experiences. Her original name was Mirra Alfassa. She was a French by birth and travelled with her family to Egypt, Spain, Turkey, Austria, Algeria, etc. Her name was abbreviated as M.A. by the nurse at the time of her birth that means mother (ma) in many languages. She came in touch with Sri Aurobindo in 1914 and finding in her the divine self, Sri Aurobindo also named her the Mother. She loved and liked India so much that despite a number of disturbances she returned to India and settled at Pondicherry. She was “a trained occultist, a musician, an artist, a speaker, a writer and a great organiser.” She played a pivotal role in establishing Sri Aurobindo Ashram at Pondicherry. “She became his collaborator in his efforts to bring down the supramental light and force upon earth.”
The writer discusses that since childhood days the Mother used to do sadhana unknowingly. While she was in deep meditation under a tree “Squirrels would sit on her shoulders and birds perch on her head, and after hours of such meditation she would open her eyes to find a gazelle intently looking at her.” At many times she encountered snakes during her meditations but by her eye contact the snakes got returned.
In 1951 Sri Aurobindo International Centre of Education was founded and after Aurobindo’s heavenly abode the Mother looked after the Ashram. The writer tries to inform the readers that “the spiritual consciousness around the Samadhi of Sri Aurobindo and the Mother is vibrant, as felt by innumerable devotees and followers of them.”
Being of French origin the Mother was an Indian by predilection. India was her spiritual abode where she carried out her philanthropic mission. “The Mother was the teacher who took Sri Aurobindo’s place and the Ashram reached the pinnacle of its glory during her lifetime.” She left for her heavenly abode in 1973.
Being an image of love and compassion, “Mother’s prayers, dialogues, realizations and experiences… take us to … divine heights or compel us to plunge so unfathomably deep inside that it becomes almost impossible to have a total understanding of them.”
The writer shows Mother’s acute fondness to animals. He exemplifies that man is crueler than animals in many ways. The hunting and caging of animals for the purpose of entertainment in olden days are its best examples. Mother’s flower sense has been depicted lively. “The blossoming of flowers is an act of love. It is a great force of universal love and consciousness which makes all things blossom in beauty, she felt. She entered into the nature of flowers, their inner truth by widening her consciousness in a mystic way. Thus she could know what they represented.”
It was her divine self that coming from a foreign land and widely travelled (to foreign countries) she knew and revered tulsi and dhatura used in worship to Lord Vishnu and Shiva respectively by the Hindus.
The writer discusses Mother’s artistic skills, love for music and literary compositions in depth and detail in the last three chapters of first section of the book.
In the beginning of the second section, Dramas, the writer explains Mother’s views on women as feeble, futile and submissive in patriarchal society. He elaborates Mother’s three plays: Towards the Future, The Ascent of Truth and The Great Secret. He compares the first book that of Henrick Ibsen’s Doll’s House. “If Doll’s House was a revolutionary drama which shocked and stunned the conservatives, Towards the Future was a greater in its silent revolution and its far reaching effects. If the problem of Doll’s House was moral and social, Towards the Future leads us to a spiritual solution.”
The second play, The Ascent of Truth, indicates infinity “in terms of time and space.” The characters of the play- The Philanthropist, The Pessimist, The Scientist, The Artist, The Students, Two Lovers, The Ascetic and Two Aspirants show that is has classical approach in which all characters “venture out to discover the truth, to complete their mission.”
Mother’s third play, The Great Secret, is about six men who have reached the peak of human success in their respective fields. Though being the least dramatic, in this play the Mother has tried to show the people “the Golden path, the sunlit path of Truth.”
The third section of the book is entitled “Short Stories”. This section deals with the stories that Mother chose the best way to teach her disciples in the Ashram. Some of them were extracted from the Panchatantra, Aesop’s Fables, Ramayana and Mahabharata. Mother used her own stories also to teach her children that were published in 1951 entitled Tales of All Times. Through stories Mother aimed to “help the young ones to discover themselves and to discover the path of truth and beauty.”
Besides all these, there are three more ending chapters namely- ‘Mother’s Work’, ‘Mother Said’ and ‘Towards a Glorious Body’ which make the book a complete one on its subject.
Throughout the book, the writer has used only facts. He does not believe in fiction. Though already he has written ten books on Sri Aurobindo and the Mother, the present book is a good work on the Mother that deals with her spiritual experiences, service to all beings and the path of truth. The writer has poured all elements of moral and spiritual transformation and has succeeded in making one realize the Mother as a human being with divine consciousness. The book is equally helpful to the students, teachers, scholars, spiritual masters and all those interested in attaining spiritual consciousness as well as study and research purposes.