Saturday, August 10, 2013

Sri Aurobindo's Birthday and India's Independence Day

The Kalki Avatars-Napoleon Bonaparte

Sri Aurobindo was known in his ashram as the rebirth of Napoleon. Napoleon’s birthday was also August 15th.... In his previous births, it was believed he was Leonardo da Vinci, Michelangelo, Krishna and many other persons too. Someone asked Sri Aurobindo whether he had been Shakespeare as well, but could not elicit an answer. Read.

NIRODBARAN: Aldous Huxley says Napoleon and Caesar were bandits.
NIRODBARAN: He also says all evil, economic and otherwise, of the modern age are due to Napoleon..
PURANI: That is going too far.
SRI AUROBINDO: If he does say so, it shows a mind that is pedantic and without plasticity.
PURANI: Anatole France, though not an imperialist, says Napoleon gave glory to France.
SRI AUROBINDO: Not only glory. He gave peace and order, stable government and security to France. He was not only one of the conquerors but also one of the greatest administrators and organisers the world has seen. If it had not been for him, the whole idea of French Revolution would have been crushed by the European Powers. It was he who stabilised the ideas of the Revolution.
The only trouble was that he was not bold enough. If he had pushed on with the idea of unification of all Europe, which he had at the back of his mind, then the present Spanish struggle would not have been necessary. Italy would have been united much earlier and Germany would have been more civilised. If instead of proclaiming himself Emperor he had remained the First Consul, he would have met with better success. But, he was not like Hitler, he could not carry out things in a ruthless fashion. Even after his overthrow, the Germans on the Rhine were unwilling to give up the Code Napoleon and the institutions he had brought into existence.
Satyeyndra: They say his Russian Campaign was a proof that he was not a military genius. It is Tolstoy who belittles him in his War and Peace.
SRI AUROBINDO: War and Peace is a novel after all.
Satyeyndra: There Tolstoi says that Napoleon blundered by burning Moscow.
SRI AUROBINDO: But, history says that the Russians themselves burnt Moscow to deprive Napoleon of the gains of his victory. He conquered Moscow though he couldn't conquer Russia. Even his retreat at Leipzig is regarded as a feat of military genius. But, there is now a tendency to belittle even his military genius. They say it was his generals who were the military genius of his campaigns and not he. In the same way they belittle Genghis Khan and call him a cut-throat.
He organised the whole of Asia and part of Europe and made commerce safe. He was successful because he was supported by all the trading agencies who badly wanted safe commercial highways along the banks of rivers.
It is true about Napoleon that his physical capacity failed towards the end owing to his disease.
NIRODBARAN: Napoleon had a pituitary tumour, as a result of which his mental powers declined.
SRI AUROBINDO: History says it was cancer of the stomach. But who says he lost his mental powers? It is an historical fact that his mind remained clear and powerful up to the last. All talk of his mental decline is nonsense.
Nirodbaran read out to Sri Aurobindo some passages from Aldous Huxley's Ends and Means. They were on war, passive resistance, non-attachment, the Jacobins, Caesar, Napoleon and dictators in general. The last was: "More hooks have been written about Napoleon than about any other human being. The fact is deeply and alarmingly significant. . . . Duces and Fuhrers will cease to plague the world only when the majority of its inhabitants regard such adventurers with the same disgust as they now bestow on swindlers and pimps. So long as men worship Caesars and Napoleons, Caesars and Napoleons will duly rise and make them miserable."

SRI AUROBINDO: All that is shallow, it is mere moralising. If Caesar and Napoleon are not to be admired, then it means that human capacity and attainment are not to be admired. Caesar and Napoleon have been admired not merely because they were successful: plenty of successful people are not admired. Caesar has won admiration because it was he who founded the greatness of Imperial Rome which gave us one of the greatest periods of human civilisation. And we admire Napoleon because he was a
great organiser and he stabilised the French Revolution. He organised France and, through France, the whole of Europe. His immense powers and abilities - are these things not great?
PURANI: I suppose men admire them because they find in them the realisation of their own potential greatness,
SRI AUROBINDO: Of course. But Huxley speaks of Caesar and Napoleon as if they were the first dictators the world had seen. There have been dictators since the beginning of the world. And they are of various kinds. Kernal, Pilsudski, all the kings of Balkan states, as well as Stalin and Hitler, are all dictators. Even Gandhi, if he were put at the head of a free India, could be a dictator. My own father can be called the dictator of Rangppur or Khulna! The dictators come in answer to the necessity of the hour. When men and nations are in conflict with their surrounding conditions, when there is confusion all about, the dictators come, it set things right and pull the race out of its difficulties.
As for the Jacobins, with whom Huxley finds fault, I have been thinking of Laski's view. Laski is perfectly right in saying that the Jacobins saved the Republic. If they had not concentrated power in their hands, the Germans would have marched on Paris and crushed the new Republic at the very start and restored the old monarchy. It was because of the Jacobins that the Bourbons even when they returned, had to accept constitutional monarchy. Louis XVIII and all the kings in Europe were obliged, more or less, to accept the principles of democracy,
It is true that in Napoleon's time the Assembly was only a shadow, but the full Republic, although delayed for some time, was in fact already established. Politics is only a shadow at the top: the real changes that matter are those that come in society. The social laws introduced by Napoleon have continued till this day. It was he who made for the first time all men equal before the Law. The Code Napoleon bridged the gulf between the rich and the poor. This kind of equality seems very natural now, but when he introduced it, it was something revolutionary. The laws he laid down still hold. What he established may not have been democracy in the sense of government by the masses, but it was democracy in the sense of government by the middle class, the bourgeoisie.
On the topic of war, Huxley speaks as if there were always an alternative between military violence and non-violent peaceful development. But things are never like that: they don't move in
a perfect way. If Napoleon had not come, the Republic would have been smothered in its infancy and democracy would have suffered a setback. No, the Cosmic Spirit is not so foolish as to allow that. Carlyle puts the situation more realistically when he says that the condition was, "I kill you or you kill me. So it is better that I kill you than get killed by you."
PURANI: Huxley says war is always avoidable.
SRI AUROBINDO: When intellectuals talk of these things, they get into a muddle. How is war avoidable? How can you prevent war so long as the other fellow wants to fight? You can prevent it only by becoming stronger than he or (smiling), as Gandhi says, by changing his heart by passive resistance. And even there Gandhi has been forced to admit that none has understood his passive resistance except himself. It is not very promising for Satyagraha; in fact, it is a condemnation of it, considering that it is intended to be a general solution for all men. What some did in several places in India is not Satyagraha but Duragraha (obstinacy).

The former Incarnations of Sri Aurobindo and the Mother—by Anurag Banerjee

Sri Aurobindo was once asked by one of his young disciples Nagin Doshi what he and the Mother had been doing in their former births. “Carrying on the evolution” was the answer that he received from his Guru. When asked to elaborate, Sri Aurobindo wrote back: “That would mean writing the whole of human history. I can only say that as there are special descents to carry on the evolution to a farther stage, so also something of the Divine is always there to help through each stage itself in one direction or another.”

Both Sri Aurobindo and the Mother took birth to foster the progress of evolution of mankind and in each birth they played a very significant role. Each birth was unique in its own way: sometimes they came as rulers, sometimes as warriors and sometimes as artists or philosophers. As artists, their artistic creations are still admired; as philosophers, their works are still read even after the passing of several centuries. As rulers and warriors, their contribution to the society is still remembered. But what remain unknown are the former incarnations of Sri Aurobindo and the Mother. Sri Aurobindo has always been very silent about his past births but compared to him the Mother was more expressive and she spoke about her former births only in passing. As a matter of fact she, along with Nolini Kanta Gupta, has been the primary source of information about hers and Sri Aurobindo’s previous incarnations. In the following pages we shall discuss about their former births based on the information they themselves have provided.

As mentioned before, Sri Aurobindo has hardly spoken anything about his previous births; only from his letters we can get certain hints about some of his former incarnations. But through the conversations of the Mother and Nolini Kanta Gupta and writings of KD Sethna we have come to know that Sri Aurobindo, in his previous births, was the prominent and influential statesman, orator and general of Athens during the ‘Golden Age’ of the city Pericles (495—429 BC) who was hailed as the ‘first citizen of Athens’, the Classical Greek philosopher Socrates (469—399 BC), Emperor Augustus Caesar (23 September 63 BC—19 August 14 AD) of the Roman Empire, King Louis XIV (5 September 1638—1 September 1715) of France and Navarre who was popularly called the ‘Sun King’ and Leonardo da Vinci (15 April 1452—2 May 1519), the greatest genius of all time who was a scientist, mathematician, engineer, painter, sculptor, architect, botanist, musician and writer. But even then some contradictory statements has arisen which we shall also discuss in the following pages.

Regarding Sri Aurobindo’s former incarnations KD Sethna alias Amal Kiran writes: “The two certainties about Sri Aurobindo’s past, as deducible from his correspondence with me, were Augustus Caesar and Leonardo da Vinci.” [1] About Augustus Caesar and Leonardo da Vinci, he once asked Sri Aurobindo in one of his letters: “Is it true that the same consciousness that took the form of Leonardo da Vinci had previously manifested as Augustus Caesar, the first emperor of Rome? If so, will you please tell me what exactly Augustus Caesar stood for in the history of Europe and how Leonardo’s work was connected with his?” Sri Aurobindo replied (29 July 1937): “Augustus Caesar organised the life of the Roman Empire and it was this that made the framework of the first transmission of the Graeco-Roman civilisation to Europe—he came for that work and the writings of Virgil and Horace and others helped greatly towards the success of his mission. After the interlude of the Middle Ages, their civilisation was reborn in a new mould in what is called the Renaissance, not in its life-aspects but in its intellectual aspects. It was therefore a supreme intellectual, Leonardo da Vinci, who took up again the work and summarised in himself the seeds of modern Europe.” [2] Elsewhere KD Sethna adds: ‘I used to pester Sri Aurobindo with all sorts of questions, dangling a long string of names: “Were you Homer, were you Shakespeare, were you Valmiki, Dante, Virgil, Milton?” And he stoutly said “No.” I asked him also whether he had been Alexander and Julius Caesar. He replied that Alexander was too much of a torrent for him and, as for Caesar, he said: “You have forgotten that Mrs Besant claims Julius Caesar. I don’t want to be prosecuted for misappropriation of personality…But, while he said “No” to all, he didn’t answer in the negative to my proposal of Leonardo and Augustus Caesar.’ [3] And again: ‘An interesting bit of occult news I heard in the early days of my stay here…was that, when in a past of theirs Sri Aurobindo had been Leonardo da Vinci and the Mother Mona Lisa.’ [4]

In his article on Amrita, KD Sethna writes: “…as reported, Sri Aurobindo had been Pericles and a little later Socrates (as declared by Nolini).” [5] In his bookAspects of Sri Aurobindo, he writes about the said proclamation: “Nolini has reported that two of Sri Aurobindo’s incarnations in the past were Pericles and Socrates—Pericles who stood at the sovereign centre of the Classical Age of Greece which was one of the finest efflorescences of the human spirit, literary as well as political—Socrates who came at the end of this Age and initiated most brilliantly and profoundly the reign of the inspired reason in European history.” [6] And elsewhere he notes: “In the age of the siege of Troy, Sri Aurobindo is taken to have been Paris, the Mother Helen and Nolini the husband of Helen, King Menelaus of Sparta from whom Trojan Paris seduced away Helen.” [7]

The Mother was asked by a student: “It is said that Sri Aurobindo in a past life took an active part in the French Revolution. Is it true?” The Mother wrote back: “You can say that all through history Sri Aurobindo played an active part. Especially in the most important movements of history he was there and playing the most important, the leading part. But he was not always visible.” Sri Aurobindo’s presence during the French Revolution was disclosed (and confirmed) to KD Sethna by K Amrita who informed the former: “Sri Aurobindo told us that he could still feel the edge of the guillotine across his neck. The memory was so vivid.” [8] KD Sethna observes: “This would indicate that his [Sri Aurobindo’s] birth immediately before the present one was associated with the French Revolution. If he was a guillotined front-liner, we can think only of Danton and Robespierre. But the Mother has seen Debu, Pranab’s brother, as having been the latter. So Danton has to be our choice.” [9] However, when Nolini Kanta Gupta was asked whether Sri Aurobindo was born as Danton during the French Revolution, he had replied: “No, Sri Aurobindo did not incarnate during the French Revolution. He was guiding the revolution from behind.” So in a way, Nolini Kanta Gupta ruled out KD Sethna’s assumption of Sri Aurobindo being Danton in his previous birth.

In Champaklal Speaks, we find an interesting note dated 6 February 1940 where the Mother reveals the fact that Sri Aurobindo was born as Leonardo da Vinci. Let’s read the note:

‘Mother was arranging flowers. It was an understanding that in order to save time I could show to her paintings, etc., at that hour when she arranged flowers. Champaklal: “Can I show the plate now?” Mother smiled and said: “Yes, yes.” After seeing the painting Mother said: “This is the best.” Champaklal: “Is that so?” Mother: “I think so. We shall see. Sri Aurobindo was the artist.” Champaklal: “Leonardo da Vinci?” Mother smiled sweetly and said: “Yes.” Then I pointed to the picture [Mona Lisa’s painting] and said: “Mother, it seems this is yours?” Mother: “Yes.”’ [10]

The Mother confirmed Sri Aurobindo’s incarnation as Leonardo da Vinci to Udar Pinto as well. Udar, who craved a Sanskrit name for his wife Mona from Sri Aurobindo, was told by the Mother that Sri Aurobindo wanted her to keep her name unchanged as it reminded him of Mona Lisa. Then the Mother told Udar: “You know, Udar, I was Mona Lisa, and Sri Aurobindo, as Leonardo da Vinci, painted me in that famous picture.” [11] With reference to this context KD Sethna too writes in his article on K Amrita: “On one occasion when I remarked to the Mother that the way she had poised her arm and hand a moment earlier reminded me of the depiction of Mona Lisa’s in Leonardo’s famous painting, she said that at times even physical characteristics were carried over from one life to another.” [12] In Mother’s Agenda we find her saying (on 30 June 1962): “And then, for the Italian Renaissance: Leonardo da Vinci, Mona Lisa and for the French Revolution: François I, Marguerite de Valois and so forth. Twice I knew that it wasn’t just images but something that had happened to ME…” [13] KD Sethna too observes: “As Mona Lisa, she was a mysterious inspirer of the greatest art.” [14]

But surprisingly in Mother’s Agenda again, we come across a passage where the Mother contradicts the declaration made by her regarding Sri Aurobindo being Leonardo da Vinci. On 10 May 1969, she told Satprem: “It has been said that Sri Aurobindo was Leonardo da Vinci…but Sri Aurobindo never told me so. I don’t know. Just as it has been often said that I was Mona Lisa, but I know nothing about it (!)”[15]
As discussed earlier the Mother, unlike Sri Aurobindo, has spoken about her past incarnations, some of which she has described in some detail. According to her, her very first birth in a human form was in the earthly paradise about which she has spoken in detail in her On Thoughts and Aphorisms. She has spoken of having ‘at least’ three births in Egypt; among them she has spoken at length about two and the source of the information regarding the third birth is KD Sethna. The incarnations were Queen Hatchepsut (1504—1483 BC), Queen Tiy (1397—60 BC) and Queen Cleopatra (January 69—12 August 30 BC), the Hellenistic ruler of Egypt who shared power first with her father Ptolemy XII and later with her brothers/husbands Ptolemy XIII and Ptolemy XIV. We have an interesting passage in Glimpses of the Mother’s Life which is as follows:

“Standing in front of a portrait of Queen Hatchepsut, the Mother told the following story when she came to the Ashram’s University Centre Library to open an exhibition on ancient Egypt in August 1954. When she was a girl of about eight or ten, she and her brother were taken one day by her teacher to the famous Museum of the Louvre in Paris. On the ground floor are galleries of Egyptian antiquities. As they were slowly passing through the collections, the Mother was suddenly attracted by a beautiful toilet case inlaid with gold and lapis lazuli, which was exposed in one of the museum cases. An attendant noticed her great interest and explained to her that the toilet case had belonged to the Egyptian Queen Hatchepsut. He also showed her a fine portrait of the Queen as a young girl and smilingly remarked that she had a striking resemblance to that ancient Queen. The toilet case and particularly the comb appeared to be strangely familiar to the Mother.” [16]

Pournaprema, the Mother’s granddaughter also writes in her book on the Mother: ‘During this journey [from Paris to Pondicherry in March 1914] which led her towards Sri Aurobindo, she had to pass through the Suez Canal, and the Japanese ship in which she travelled stopped at Cairo in Egypt. She got off the ship there and went to visit the Cairo museum. Here in a glass show-case were exhibited the toilet-set of a great queen of Egypt: a comb, hair pins, perfume bottles and a jar for cosmetic cream. And looking at them, Douce Mére said, “How badly they’ve all been arranged. Not at all the way they were when I used to arrange them myself. The hairpins should have been there, the comb here and the bottles kept in this order…” She was used to seeing her things kept in a certain way, so she felt extremely annoyed now to find them placed differently…

‘Not until she was in the carriage, going back to the port after leaving the museum, did the real significance of what happened strike her—she had been this great Egyptian queen.’ [17] ‘This great Egyptian queen’ was none other than Queen Hatchepsut.

About her birth as Queen Tiy (whose son Amenhotep IV [1376—47 BC] would become the future Akhenaton), the Mother has said in May 1956: ‘About two years ago I had a vision in connection with Z’s son. She had brought him to me—he was not quite one year old—so I had just seen him in the room where I receive people. He gave me the impression of someone very well known to me, but I didn’t know who or what. Then, in the afternoon of the same day, I had a vision. It was a vision of ancient Egypt, and I was somebody there: I was the High Priestess, or whomever. I didn’t know whom, for one doesn’t tell oneself “I am so-and-so.” The identification is complete, there is no objectivation, so I don’t know.

I was in an admirable building, immense! so high!—but quite bare. There was nothing, except a place with magnificent paintings, which I recognized as the paintings of ancient Egypt. I was coming out of my apartments and entering a kind of large hall. There was a sort of gutter all along the walls, for collecting the water. And then I saw the child, half-naked, playing in it. I was quite shocked. I said: “What is this! This is disgusting!” (The feelings, ideas and all that were translated into French in my consciousness.) Then the tutor came—I had him called. I gave him a scolding. I heard the sounds. I don’t know what I said, I don’t remember the sounds any more. I heard the sounds I was pronouncing, I knew their meaning, but the translation was in French and the sounds I didn’t remember. I spoke to [the tutor]. I told him: “How can you let the child play in there?” He answered—and I woke up with his reply—saying…I did not hear the first words, but in my thought it was [translated as]: “Amenhotep likes it.” “Amenhotep” I heard and I remembered. Then I knew the little one had been Amenhotep.

So I know that I spoke. I spoke in that language, but I don’t remember it now. I remembered “Amenhotep” because I have kept that in my active consciousness: “Amenhotep.” But the rest, the other sounds did not remain. I have no memory for sounds. And I know I was his mother. Then I knew who I was, for I know that Amenhotep was the son of so-and-so. Besides, I looked at it up in history.’ [18]

Georges Van Vrekhem has included a personal communication to him from Tanmaya, a French teacher who taught at the Ashram School for many years, in his biography of the Mother where the latter remembers: “In reply to a question (concerning Akhenaton) I had put her, Mother let it clearly be understood that she had been Queen Tiy, the mother of Akhenaton…She specified that Akhenaton’s revolution was intended to reveal to the people of that time the unity of the Divine and his manifestation. This attempt, the Mother added, was premature, for the human mind was not yet ready for it. It had, however, to be undertaken in order to assure the continuity of its existence in the mental plane.” [19]

And Georges Van Vrekhem himself observes: “Tiy was a ‘Vibhuti’ of the Universal Mother, a fact which endowed her with the awareness of her eternal soul within, and thus of the Divine. She had probably become an initiate of the mysteries of Heliopolis, keeper of the secrets of the Sun. Here it is worth mentioning that Sri Aurobindo said that the Sun is the symbol of the Supramental, which is the Divine upholding all creation. (This upholding and blessing is graphically represented in Akhenaton’s iconography of the Sun disk.) Having become a high occult initiate, Tiy may have had the vision or inspiration—or a series of visions or inspirations—of the supramental Truth. The word ‘supramental Truth’ is nothing but a verbal abstraction for a divine Reality which surpasses everything an ordinary human being can feel, imagine and experience. It is the One Reality present in all that exists and of which the gods are the cosmic powers.” [20]

According to KD Sethna, the Mother was also born as Queen Cleopatra [21] but we don’t know whether the Mother herself has said anything about this particular incarnation of hers.

The next known incarnation of the Mother is that of Joan of Arc (1412-1431 AD) who liberated Orleans from the clutches of the English but was burnt to death by them when she was captured. The Mother speaks about her incarnation as Joan to Satprem on 30 June 1962: ‘As a child, when I was around ten or twelve years old, I had some rather interesting experiences which I didn’t understand at all. I had some history books—you know, the textbooks they give you to learn history. Well, I’d read and suddenly the book would seem to become transparent, or the printed works would become transparent, and I’d see other words or even pictures…my brother and I were great chums…so I would tell him: “They talk nonsense in history, you know—it is LIKE THIS; it isn’t like that: it is LIKE THIS!” And several times the corrections I got on one person or another turned out to be quite exact and detailed. And (I see it now—I understood it later on) they were certainly memories… I found out many, many things about Joan of Arc—many things. And with stunning precision, which made it extremely interesting. I won’t repeat them because I don’t remember with exactness, and these things have no value unless they are exact.’ [22]

On the same day (30 June 1962), the Mother revealed to Satprem that she took birth in four different bodies during the Italian and French Renaissance. When Satprem tried to clarify this statement by informing her that Mona Lisa and Marguerite de Valois were contemporaries, the Mother told him: “Four at once. And, in general, they were the different states of being of the Mother—the four aspects. Generally one aspect in each embodiment (when there were four). Or else this or that aspect might have been less present in one embodiment and more present in another. Sometimes there was a fairly central presence and then at the same time less central, less important emanations. But that has happened several times—several times. On two occasions it was particularly clear. But I have often sensed that there wasn’t merely ONE embodiment, that the course of history may have been crystallized around this or that person, but there were other embodiments…less conspicuous somewhere else.

They are the different aspects of the Mother.” [23]
Among the four different bodies in which the Mother took birth we have discussed Mona Lisa and Joan of Arc. The third and fourth incarnations were Queen Elizabeth I (1533—1603) of England and Marguerite de Valois (1553—1615), Queen of France and Navarre. Twice in the Agenda, the Mother has spoken about her birth as Queen Elizabeth I. On 12 September 1964 the Mother informs Satprem: ‘Again this whole story of Elizabeth came back to me a few days ago! Since then, a part of the consciousness has been more self-assured, but it hasn’t changed its attitude…Its attitude towards the Divine, towards the Work and towards life, is the same, but there is a greater clarity and a greater certainty—and a sort of integrality in the experience…This remark, “We shall die afterwards,” [It is said that when Elizabeth, who was in her death-bed, received a delegation from the people she rose to listen to them despite the protest of her physicians to whom she said: “We shall die afterwards.”] is my own experience, it wasn’t a “dream”—in fact, it’s never dreams: it’s a sort of STATE you enter VERY CONSCIOUSLY, and all at once you relive a thing.

‘Even now I can see the picture: I see the picture of the people, the populace, myself, the gown, the person who nursed me—I see the whole scene. And I answered… It was so obvious! I felt so strongly that things are governed by the will that in answered, “We shall die afterwards,” quite simply.

‘In English, not in French!’ [24]
And again on 15 July 1967 the Mother says: “…memories of Elizabeth, memories of two lives at the same time in the age of Francis I, memories…innumerable memories, and quite diverse. Each one…It’s not that you were in such or such persons for his or her whole life: you were the important psychic MOMENT in those lives.” [25]

Regarding the Mother’s incarnation as Marguerite de Valois, Pournaprema writes: ‘While she [the Mother] was married to Henri [Morisset], she used to go on holidays to Beaugency, on the banks of the Loire, where they had a country house. It was a very lovely place, and here they practised painting. This is a region in France where, during the Renaissance, the kings had built their chateaus which are now visited as historical monuments. Once, she went visiting one of these chateaus, I think it was the Château de Blois, where there is a series of portraits of the royal family, painted by Clouet. She stopped before one of the portraits and she said, “But why has he put such a coiffure on me? ...” and she then noticed that people round her were looking somewhat oddly at her…and she kept quite. She had been this lady in a past life, and in front of the painting, the past memories had suddenly come alive and she could recall that she was not wearing this robe, that her hair was not dressed this way…And she has added, “I stopped myself from speaking aloud, because otherwise those around would say ‘This woman has gone crazy.’” [26] Years later the Mother recalled: ‘But I told my friends, “Listen, it was definitely me! It was MY portrait, it was ME!’ [27] The portrait that the Mother saw was of Marguerite de Valois.      

The next known incarnation which is said to be the Mother’s last incarnation before she took birth as Mirra Alfassa was that of Queen Catherine II of Russia (1729—96). On 15 July 1967 she revealed to Satprem that she was born as Catherine the Great and that “memories of Catherine the Great” were coming to her. [28] And in Mother’s Chronicles, we find the Mother saying: ‘I remember acutely a resolve I made in my last life as an empress [that is, Catherine II]. I said: “Never again! Enough is enough, I want no more of it! [In the next birth] I want to be a commoner, in an ordinary family, free at last to do as I want.”’ [29]

Though Queen Catherine II is considered to be the Mother’s last incarnation, she did take birth before she was born as Mirra Alfassa. And she was born inIndia as Rani Lakshmibai, the ruler of Jhansi who fought against the British during the Sepoy Mutiny in 1857. It is interesting to note that Lakshmibai (19 November 1835—18 June 1858) who was born as a ‘commoner’ in a Maharashtrian Brahmin family as Manikarnika became the queen of Jhansi when its ruler Gangadhar Rao married her when she was fourteen years of age. When a film on Lakshmibai was being shown in the Plaground, the Mother who was watching it had remarked: “I was Lakshmibai, Queen of Jhansi.” Chandradeep, a sadhak who was sitting near her overheard the Mother’s statement. When Nolini Kanta Gupta was informed about it, he said: “It is probable.”  

It is said that the Mother had also appeared, apart from the incarnations mentioned in this article, as Mirabai (who lived between 1498 and 1547; she was the daughter of Raja Ratan Singh and was married to Bhoj Raj Rana, the ruler of Mewar; her songs on Krishna are sung even today) Marie Antoinette (2 November 1755—16 October 1793; she was the wife of King Louis XVI of France and was deposed during the French Revolution; she was eventually guillotined; she is known for her infamous statement: “Let them eat cakes.”) and Josephine (23 June 1763—29 May 1814, Empress of France and wife of Napoleon Bonaparte). The source of information regarding the Mother being Mirabai is KD Sethna who mentions it in his book Our Light and Delight: “The Mother is supposed to have been Mirabai.” (p. 48) And according to Nolini Kanta Gupta, “a part of the Mother had manifested as Marie Antoinette” and “Josephine was a Vibhuti of the Mother. A part of Her had manifested [in her].” A few words regarding the Mother being Mirabai would not be irrelevant. First of all, the fact that the Mother was Mirabai in one of her previous births was not corroborated by Nolini Kanta Gupta who had the most reliable knowledge regarding the former births of both Sri Aurobindo and the Mother. Secondly, the Mother never said anything regarding her birth as Mirabai in her conversations which happens to be the primary and the best source of knowledge about her past births. Thirdly, Mirabai lived during such a period when the Mother was already present on earth in four different bodies.  Moreover, in 1949 Mirabai had manifested herself through the trance of Indira Devi (the disciple of Dilip Kumar Roy) and started to dictate songs to the latter whenever she was in a trance.  About this phenomenon Sri Aurobindo wrote to Dilip Kumar Roy (on 2 June 1950) that the consciousness of Mirabai was collaborating with Indira Devi’s consciousness “on some plane superconscient to the ordinary human mind.” [30] So the claim of the Mother being Mirabai is somewhat doubtful.
So far we have discussed the Mother’s former incarnations. Now we shall read what she has said about the memories of her former births and how the memories came to her. On 27 June 1962, she tells Satprem: ‘You know mon petit, I said one day that in the history of earth, wherever there was a possibility for the Consciousness to manifest, I was there; this is a fact. It’s like the story of Savitri: always there, in this one, that one—at certain times there were four emanations simultaneously! At the time of the Italian and French Renaissance. And again at the time of Christ, then too… Oh, you know, I have remembered so many, many things! It would take volumes to tell it all…And when I came this time, as soon as I took up the yoga, they came back again from all sides, they were waiting. Some were simply waiting, others were working (they led their own independent lives) and they all gathered together again. That’s how I got those memories…And there are all kinds—all kinds, anything you can imagine! Some of them have even been in men: they are not exclusively feminine.’ [31]

And the Mother also clarifies how ‘some of them have even been in men’ in the following words: ‘One of them was in Murat, on the day of his great victory. It was a vital force that took possession of him and remained just for that victory; and it came into me, so I saw it all! I saw its entry into Murat’s body and the whole battle scene—I lived through it all. And once the battle was over, it left him. It was very interesting.’ [32]

Three days later, the Mother told Satprem about the memories of her past births: ‘Once (when I was older, around twenty) it happened at Versailles. I had been invited to dinner by a cousin who, with no warning, served me dry champagne during dinner—and I drank it unsuspectingly (I who never drank at all, neither wine nor liquor!)…Then we went to a place near the chateau, with a view of the whole park. And I was staring at the park, when I saw… I saw the park filling up with lights (the electric lights had vanished), with all kinds of lights, torches, lanterns…and then crowds of people walking about…in Louis XIV dress! I was staring at this with my eyes wide open, holding on to the balustrade to keep from falling down…I was seeing it all, then I saw myself there, engrossed in conversation with some people (I don’t remember now, but there were certain “corrections” here too)… I mean I was a certain person (I don’t remember who) and there were those two brothers who were sculptors…and all kinds of people were there and I saw myself talking, chatting…

‘Almost all my memories of past lives came like that, the particular being reincarnated in me rises to the surface and begins acting as if it were all as its own. Once in Italy, when I was fifteen, it happened in an extraordinary way. But that time I did some research. I was in Venice with my mother and I researched in museums and archives, and I discovered my name, and the names of the other people involved. I had relived a scene in the Ducal Palace, but relived it in… such an absolutely intense way (…a scene where I was being strangled and thrown into a canal!) that my mother had to hurry me out of there as fast as she could! But that experience I wrote down, so the exact memory has been kept.’ [33] She was, in that birth, the daughter of a Venetian doge who was killed on the commands of her father as she loved the son of a doge whose position her father was usurping. 

And from these talks only we come to know that a ‘petrified body of hers still existed somewhere in the Himalayas.’ [34]

In his wonderful biography of the Mother, Georges Van Vrekhem has pointed out some of the traits that were present in the former incarnations of the Mother. According to him, there were four major features, the first of which was that she was born to ‘accomplish the humanly impossible’ tasks; the second feature was ‘the all-embracing scope of the personalities she took on’; the third and the fourth features were ‘the unbending strength shown in every incarnation’ and ‘the multiple abilities’ that every incarnation exhibited. And he adds: ‘It is through its incarnations that the psychic being grows into the fullness of its divinity.’ [35] We must also keep in mind that in their former incarnations the Mother and Sri Aurobindo came, not as Avatars, but as Vibhutis. KD Sethna observes: ‘Sri Aurobindo and the Mother came as Vibhutis at the time of those-Avatars, and worked veiled either where these Avatars were or at some other place which served as the right context for whatever they had to do.’ [36]

But this is not the end of the series of the incarnations of Sri Aurobindo and the Mother. Shortly after his passing Sri Aurobindo had told the Mother that he would return in the first supramental body formed in the supramental way. The Mother who is present amid us in a supramental body will also return with him. But when would they return is not predictable. But what is definite is their re-arrival. Till then we have to wait and aspire for their arrival depends not merely on the world-conditions only but on our aspiration as well.

The author would like to thank Georges Van Vrekhem for pointing out the important incarnations of the Mother and also allowing him to quote from his The Mother: The Story of Her Life certain significant passages.

[1] Amrita: Birth Centenary Commemoration Volume, p. 82
[2] KD Sethna, Life, Literature and Yoga, p. 6
[3] KD Sethna, Light and Laughter, p. 33
[4] KD Sethna, Our Light and Delight, p. 84
[5] Amrita: Birth Centenary Commemoration Volume, p. 82
[6] KD Sethna, Aspects of Sri Aurobindo, p. 93
[7] Amrita: Birth Centenary Commemoration Vol. p. 83
[8] Our Light and Delight, p. 51
[9] Amrita: Birth Centenary Commemoration Volume, pp. 82-83
[10] Champaklal Speaks, p. 46
[11] Shyam Kumari, More Vignettes of Sri Aurobindo and the Mother, p. 200
[12] Amrita: Birth Centenary Commemoration Volume, p. 83
[13] Mother’s Agenda, Vol. III, pp. 150-151
[14] Our Light and Delight, p. 48
[15] Mother’s Agenda, Vol. X, p. 120
[16] Glimpses of the Mother’s Life, Vol. I, pp. 9-10
[17] Pournaprema, A Unique Little Girl, p. 28
[18] Georges Van Vrekhem, The Mother: The Story of Her Life, pp. 430-431
[19] Ibid., pp. 435-436
[20] Ibid., p. 435
[21] Our Light and Delight, p. 48
[22] Mother’s Agenda, Vol. III, p. 150
[23] Ibid., p. 153
[24] Mother’s Agenda, Vol. V, p. 127-128
[25] Mother’s Agenda, Vol. VIII, p. 150
[26] A Unique Little Girl, p. 18
[27] Mother’s Agenda, Vol. III, p. 151
[28] Mother’s Agenda, Vol, VIII, p. 150
[29] Sujata Nahar, Mother’s Chronicles, Vol. I, p. 151
[30] Anurag Banerjee, Achinpather Dibyapathik, pp. 144-145
[31] Mother’s Agenda, Vol. III, p. 145
[32] Ibid., p. 152
[33] Ibid.
[34] The Mother: The Story of Her Life, p. 450
[35] Ibid., pp. 448-449
[36] Our Light and Delight, p. 51

Link :

A Page from the Record of Yoga—undated Notes, c. January 1927

Record of Yoga (p. 1344) has the following entries about the past lives or associations of some of the early companions of Sri Aurobindo. It may be noted that The Lives of Sri Aurobindo which vouches so much about the Record is altogether silent regarding these entries and such matters. While it is difficult for us to get into the spirit of Sri Aurobindo’s occult knowledge of things, and events it is also perhaps necessary to get some idea in relation to it, notwithstanding the objections of the rationalist academic scholars. The Mother has spoken a propos of these aspects here and there, but a completer presentation will be rewarding in several respects. ~ RYD

Moses, Brihaspati, Hermes, Michael Angelo, Rudra, Pythagoras

Child Krishna, St Jean, Kartikeya, child Vishnu

Nefdi, Apollo-Aryaman

St Hilaire—
Ramakrishna—(The Four)


Sukadeva—one of the Vital Four

One of the Vital Four

Trita, The Angel of Peace—One of the Vital Four

Vivekananda—The “Fearless”

D [Durai] Swami—
François I, Chandragupta, Janaka

Link :

The Mother’s Subtle Body

from Anurag Banerjee 

Follow up message
Dear All,
   Today I would like to share with you an occult experience which was narrated to me by Jhumur-di (Shrimati Jhumur Bhattacharya, one of the most pretty and elegant sadhikas of the Ashram who is an inmate since the early 1940s; she is a teacher in Sri Aurobindo Centre of Education and a fine actress who has taken part in Sri Aurobindo’s dramas like Vasavadutta, Rodogune, Perseus the Deliverer, Vikramorvasie to name a few but above all she is extremely caring and affectionate so much so that she radiates love). I had asked her whether she had met Sri Aurobindo and the Mother in the subtle physical or not and had also enquired whether she had seen them with her eyes open. She replied in the affirmative and narrated to me the following experience.
    During the Darshan of 24th April 1995 while Jhumur-di was standing in front of the Mother’s balcony, suddenly she saw that the Mother appeared in the balcony clad in white and she saw the march-past. Jhumur-di said that the very sight of the Mother made her forget the scorching heat of the sun and she lost the sense of hunger and thirst. In fact she forgot that the Mother was not actually present physically. She did not inform anyone about this experience and and kept it to herself. Three months later in August, when the Bulletin of Sri Aurobindo Centre of Education was published there was a photograph which clearly showed a figure dressed in white standing in the balcony. Some sceptics claimed that it was only a shadow but Jhumur-di knew that it was the Mother herself.
   I was quite intrigued when I heard this experience. I searched the August 1995 issue of the Bulletin and soon my eyes fell on the photograph that was taken on 24 April 1995. It was really the Mother! She was indeed dressed in white and was looking down at the inmates who were participating in the march-past. (Please find attached with this mail a copy of the said photograph.)
   Time and again the Mother has said that she would always be present with her children and that she will never leave them. She is indeed with us, always present to help us in our sadhana. I’m reminded of Kapali Sastry’s exclamation (when he was asked by a journalist what will be the future of the Ashram and the sadhana after the passing of Sri Aurobindo): “Passing, passing…who passed away and where?…The Master of Integral Yoga is here, as intensely and concretely as ever…Yes, those that have been looking up to him for guidance and aid in Yoga have not felt him gone, have not felt themselves orphaned, have not felt a void, though, of course, the physical pangs of separation are there…”
   We know that before the Mother left her physical frame, she was trying to coalesce her supramental body with her physical body but she was unable to do so. In M.P. Pandit’s book Mother and I there is an interesting paragraph on page 220 which runs: ‘This morning, while praying, it flashed on me that Mother might discard the physical body and assume the new body and function in it for the furtherance of the work from the subtler plane. She might get the work executed through her chosen instruments. But she would be here in that body close to the field of her work.’ This diary-note was dated 24 July 1973. In another book of his titled The Mother and Her Mission, he writes (pp. 16-17):
     ‘Then on the morning of 17th November at about nine o’clock, a particular friend of mine–he has a certain grounding in occult experience, occult knowledge, and normally when we meet we exchange notes–told me, “I have seen the Mother’s body of light.” I got interested. He said, “The new body is full of light but it is not yet dense enough to function in the earth conditions. It is there, and as I as looking at it I got the feeling that the Mother would enter this body the moment it became dense enough to stand and function in the earth atmosphere, seen or unseen. But there is no question of revival of the material body.” And he added, “Those who are capable of seeing the Mother’s halo, aura, they will be able to see that luminous body.” It confirmed what I had perceived some four months earlier; I told him as much.’
    Therefore we must note that on 17 November 1973 at 7:25 p.m. the Mother did not die; she just walked into her new, luminous body ‘without dying’, that is, there was no gap in consciousness. To quote M.P. Pandit’s words: ‘They say the cause [of the Mother's passing] was heart failure, but let me tell you the heart failure was not the cause, the heart failure was the result of her withdrawal. She had decided; the moment things were ready, she walked into that body.’ (The Mother and Her Mission, p. 17)
    So my friends, Jhumur-di’s experience corroborates the fact that the Mother is, all the time, with us and watching us and guiding us silently in our sadhana. Let’s all become a little more sincere so that she can manifest in us. Let’s all try to be her worthy children. 


pianomonika said...

And till in our days, the people in India and in great parts of the world remember this 15.of August, remember the great Sri Aurobindo and his significant work for the humanity.

pianomonika said...

The up date should be also read, it explains a lot of the history and incarnations.

Jitendra Sharma said...

The devatas are always looking for human bodies whose souls are uplifted or purified to posses them and assist their disciples or mankind for up keeping of divine will.Brahma, vishnu, sankara along with their cosorts exist separately and draw the power and get commands from the Supreme.A stage will be reached by a human that he merges with devatas and calls himself as Krishna, shiva or god.Many saints like shirdi sai and Lahiri mahasay,Raghavendra etc have reached this stage.This is a continuous process where devatas posses the bodies of humans and convert the pulse message of GOD into verbatum so humans can understand ie God is always possesing and acting thru humans who are merely puppets.Shri Aurobindo has rightly been choosen by divinity to express itself to mankind.

rajasekhar |

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Anonymous said...

"In his previous births, it was believed he was Leonardo da Vinci, Michelangelo, Krishna and many other persons too"

l think that needs to be ammended. Sri Aurobindo was not believed to be Michelangelo - as this was amrita, l understand.