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March 01

 

"The Mother - the Story of Her Life"

Book review by Carel

 

In 1997 HarperCollins India published Georges van Vrekhem's Beyond Man, the Life and Work of Sri Aurobindo and The Mother. "After that book appeared I realized I had to write a biography in homage to The Mother," says Georges, "for too many people are unaware of what She stood for and has done. In India only Sri Aurobindo is known, not The Mother of whom Sri Aurobindo has stated, 'The Mother's consciousness and mine are the same, the one Divine Consciousness in two bodies because that is necessary for the play'. Amongst the published biographies, I could not find any unbiased or complete one."

HarperCollins has now published this biography, titled The Mother: The Story of Her Life. Like Beyond Man, the book is based on the premise that whatever Sri Aurobindo and The Mother have written and said is unquestionably true - and who can question statements which are beyond the normal human consciousness?

Compared to the material already published in Beyond Man, the biography stands on its own. Making use of all that has been published on The Mother, Georges has written a biography that reads like a novel - not surprisingly in view of his background as a dramatist before joining the Ashram in 1970 and later Auroville in 1978.

Typical of this biography is that the events in the Mother's life have been put against their historical background. The Paris of the Mother's youth with its circuses and artistes, her sojourns with the occult masters M. and Mme. Théon in Algeria, her first arrival at Pondicherry and her meeting with Sri Aurobindo, the years in Japan, and her life after her return to India in the Sri Aurobindo Ashram: it all comes alive, sketched with a sense of detail and sprinkeled, where suitable, with a pinch of humour. The description of the people around Sri Aurobindo and the Mother is also interesting, for "the Avatar," writes Georges, "never comes alone".

The biography contains much new material, for example, the meaning of the church murals in Pau which Mother painted together with her first husband Henri Morisset; the activities of the Théons before they moved to Algeria; the writings of Mother's second husband, Paul Richard, in Japan; and the refusal of some of Sri Aurobindo's disciples to accept a French lady as their guru. In the chapter "Explorations of the Occult", one reads that in the beginning of the twentieth century the Mother established the "pathways for the dead", whose existence has now been documented in the records of near-death experiences.

Another chapter concerns the Mother's previous incarnations. The Mother explicitly mentioned some of them and the biography gives details of these incarnations and puts them in their historical context. The stories of the lives of Queen Tiy, "King" Hatchepsut, the Maid of Orleans, Mona Lisa, the Virgin Queen, and Catherine II of Russia, are intriguing and reading them alters one's view of history, to say the least.

But the main value of the book is that it provides an insight into what The Mother came on earth to manifest. The descriptions of the descent of the Supramental on earth in 1956, the Mother's work on the cells of the body, the manifestation of the consciousness of the Overman in 1969 and the realization of the Supramental in a new subtle body are among the most fascinating parts of this biography.

 

The Mother, The Story of her Life

545 pages
by Georges van Vrekhem
HarperCollins Publishers, India
ISBN 81-7223-416-3
Price in India: Rs 495

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