Essay in "The Mother"
(The four Powers of the Mother)
by Sri Aurobindo
[Summary - each link leads to a part of the essay:
- 3 ways to be aware of the Mother: Transcendent
Shakti - Universal Mahashakti - Mahashakti
of the world of Ignorance
- The 4 aspects: Maheshwari,
- Other great Personalities (Ananda)
- Advice for personal transformation
- The supramental change and the Mother's power ]
The four Powers of the Mother are four of her outstanding Personalities,
portions and embodiments of her divinity through whom she acts on her
creatures, orders and harmonises her creations in the worlds and directs
working out of her thousand forces.
For the Mother is one but she comes before us with differing aspects;
many are her power and personalities, many her emanations and Vibhutis
that do her work in the universe.
The One whom we adore as the Mother is the divine Conscious Force
that dominates all existence, one and yet many-sided that to follow her
movement is impossible even for the quickest mind and for the freest and
most vast intelligence.
The Mother is the consciousness and force of the Supreme and far above
all she creates. But something of her ways can be seen and felt through
her embodiments and the more seizable because more defined and limited
temperament and action of the goddess forms in whom she consents to be
manifest to her creatures.
There are three ways of being the Mother of which
you can become aware when you enter into touch of oneness with the
Conscious Force that upholds us and the universe.
- Transcendent, the original supreme Shakti, she stands
above the worlds and links the creation to the ever unmanifest mystery
of the Supreme.
- Universal, the cosmic Mahashakti, she creates all these beings
and contains and enters, supports and conducts all these million processes
- Individual, she embodies the power of these two vaster ways
of her existence, makes them living and near to us and mediates between
human personality and the divine Nature.
The one original transcendent Shakti, the
Mother stands above all the worlds and bears in her eternal consciousness
the Supreme Divine.
Alone, she harbours the absolute Power and the ineffable Presence; containing
or calling the Truths that have to be manifested, she brings them down
from the Mystery in which they were hidden into the light of her infinite
consciousness and gives them a form of force in her omnipotent power and
her boundless life and a body in the universe.
The Supreme is manifest in her for ever as the everlasting Sachchidananda,
manifested through her in the worlds, as the one dual consciousness of
Ishwara-Shakti and the dual principle of Purusha-Prakriti, embodied by
her in the Worlds and the Planes and the Gods and their Energies and figured
because of her as all that is in the known worlds and in unknown others.
All is her play with the Supreme; all is her manifestation of the mysteries
of the Eternal, the miracles of the Infinite. All is she, for all are
parcel and portion of the divine Conscious-Force.
Nothing can be here or elsewhere but what she decides and the Supreme
sanctions; nothing can take shape except what she moved by the Supreme
perceives and forms after casting into seed in her creating Ananda.
The Mahashakti, the universal Mother works
out whatever is transmitted by the Supreme and enters into the worlds
that she has made; her presence fills and supports then with the divine
spirit and the divine all-sustaining force and delight without which they
could not exist.
That which we call Nature or Prakriti is only her most outward executive
aspect; she marshals and arranges the harmony of her forces and processes,
impels the operations of Nature and moves among them secret or manifest
in all that can be seen or experienced or put into motion of life.
Each of the worlds is nothing but one play of the Mahashakti of that system
of worlds or universe, who is there as the cosmic Soul and Personality
of the transcendent Mother.
Each is something that she has in her vision, gathered into her heart
of beauty and power and created in her Ananda.
But there are many planes of her creation, many steps of the Divine Shakti.
At the summit of this manifestation of which we are a part there are worlds
of infinite existence, consciousness, force and bliss over which the Mother
stands unveiled eternal Power.
All beings there live and move in an ineffable completeness and unalterable
oneness, because she carries them safe in her arms for ever. Nearer to
us are the worlds of the supramental creation in which the Mother is
the supramental Mahashakti, a Power of divine omniscient Will and
omnipotent Knowledge always apparent in its unfailing works and spontaneously
perfect in every process.
There all movements are the steps of the Truth; there all beings are souls
and powers and bodies of the divine Light; there all experiences are seas
and floods and waves of an intense and absolute Ananda.
But here where we dwell are the worlds of the Ignorance, worlds
of mind and life and body separated in consciousness from her source,
of which the earth is a significant centre and its evolution a crucial
This too with all its obscurity and struggle and imperfection is upheld
by the Universal Mother; this too is impelled and guided to its secret
aim by the Mahashakti.
The Mother as the Mahashakti of this triple world
of the Ignorance stands in an intermediate plane between the supramental
Light, the Truth life, the Truth creation which has to be brought down
here and this mounting and descending hierarchy of planes of consciousness
that like a double ladder lapse into the nescience of Matter and climb
back again through the flowering of life and soul and mind into the infinity
of the Spirit.
Determining all that shall be done in the universe and in the terrestrial
evolution by what she sees and feels and pours from her, she stands there
above the Gods and all her Powers and Personalities are put in front of
her for the action and she sends down emanations of them into these lower
worlds to intervene, to govern, to battle and conquer, to lead and turn
their cycles, to direct the total and individual lines of their forces.
These Emanations are the various divine forms and personalities through
which men have worshipped her under different names throughout the ages.
But also she prepares and shapes through these Powers and their emanations
the minds and bodies of her Vibhuthis, even as she prepares and shapes
minds and bodies for the Vibhuthis of the Ishwara, that she may manifest
in the physical world and in the disguise of the human consciousness some
ray of her power and quality and presence.
All the scenes of the earth play have been like a drama arranged and planned
and staged by her with the cosmic Gods for her assistants and herself
as a veiled actor.
The Mother not only governs all from above but she descends into this
lesser triple universe. Impersonally, all things here, even the movements
of Ignorance, are herself on veiled power and her creations in diminished
substance, her Nature-body and Nature-force, and they exist because,
moved by the mysterious fiat of the Supreme to work out something that
was there in the possibilities of the Infinite, she has consented to the
great sacrifice and has put on like a mask the soul and forms of the Ignorance.
But personally too she has stooped to descend here into the darkness
that she may lead it to the Light, into the Falsehood and Error that she
may convert it to the Truth, into this Death that she may turn it to godlike
Life, into this world-pain and its obstinate sorrow and suffering that
she may end it in the transforming ecstasy of her sublime Ananda.
In her deep and greater love for her children she has consented to put
on herself the cloak of this obscurity, condescended to bear the attacks
and torturing influences of the powers of Darkness and the Falsehood,
borne to pass through the portals of the birth that is a death, taken
upon herself the pangs and sorrows and sufferings of creation, since it
seemed that thus alone could it be lifted to the Light and Joy and Truth
and eternal Life.
This is the great sacrifice of the Purusha, but much more deeply the holocaust
of Prakriti, the sacrifice of the Divine Mother.
Four great Aspects of the Mother, four of her leading
Powers and Personalities have stood in front in her guidance of this Universe
and in her dealings with the terrestrial play.
- One is her personality of calm wideness and comprehending wisdom
and tranquil benignity, inexhaustible compassion and sovereign and surpassing
majesty and all ruling greatness.
- Another embodies her power of splendid strength and irresistible
passion, her warrior mood, her overwhelming will, her impetuous swiftness
and world-shaking force.
- A third is vivid and sweet and wonderful with her deep secret
of beauty and harmony and fine rhythm, her intricate and subtle opulence,
her compelling attraction and her captivating grace.
- The fourth is equipped with her close and profound capacity of
intimate knowledge and careful flawless work and quiet and exact perfection
in all things.
Wisdom, Strength, Harmony, Perfection are the several attributes
and it is these powers that they bring with them to the world, manifest
in a human disguise in their Vibhuthis and shall found in the divine degree
of their ascension in those who can open their earthly nature to the direct
and living influence of the Mother.
To the four we give the four great names, Maheshwari, Mahakali, Mahalakshmi,
Imperial Maheshwari is seated in the wideness
above the thinking mind and will and sublimates and greatens them into
wisdom and largeness or floods with a splendour beyond them.
For she is the mighty and wise One who opens us to supramental infinities
and the cosmic vastness, to the grandeur of the supreme Light, to a treasure-house
of miraculous knowledge, to the measureless movement of the Mother's eternal
Tranquil is she and wonderful, great and calm for ever.
Nothing can move her because all wisdom is in her; nothing is hidden from
her that she chooses to know; she comprehends all things and all beings
and their nature and what moves them and the law of the world and its
times and how all was and is and must be.
A strength is in her that meets everything and masters and none can prevail
in the end against her vast intangible wisdom and high tranquil power.
Equal, patient, unalterable in her will she deals with men according to
their nature and with things and happenings according to their Force and
truth that is in them.
Partiality she has none, but she follows the decrees of the Supreme and
some she raises up and some she casts down or puts away into the darkness.
To the wise she gives a greater and more luminous wisdom; those that have
vision she admits to her counsels; on the hostile she imposes the consequence
of their hostility; the ignorant and foolish she leads them according
to their blindness.
In each man she answers and handles the different elements of his nature
according to their need and their urge and the return they call for, puts
on them the required pressure or leaves them to their cherished liberty
to prosper in the ways of the Ignorance and perish.
For she is above all, bound by nothing, attached to nothing in the universe.
Yet she has more than any other the heart of the universal Mother.
For her compassion is endless and inexhaustible; all are to her eyes her
children and portions of the One, even the Asura and Rakshasa and Pisacha
and those that are revolted and hostile. Even her rejections are only
a postponement, even her punishments are a grace.
But her compassion does not blind her wisdom or turn her action from the
course decreed; for the Truth of things is her one concern, knowledge
her centre of power and to build our soul and our nature into the divine
Truth her mission and her labour.
Mahakali is of another nature.
Not of wideness but of height, not wisdom but force and strength are her
There is in her a overwhelming intensity, a mighty passion of force to
achieve, a divine violence rushing to shatter every limit and obstacle.
All her divinity leaps out in a splendour of tempestuous action; she is
therefore swiftness, for the immediately effective process, the rapid
and direct stroke, the frontal assault that carries everything, before
Terrible is her face to the Asura, dangerous and ruthless her mood against
the haters of the Divine; for she is the Warrior of the Worlds who never
shrinks from the battle.
Intolerant of imperfection, she deals roughly with all in man that is
unwilling and she is severe to all that is obstinately ignorant and obscure;
her wrath is immediate and dire against treachery and falsehood and malignity,
ill-will is smitten at once by her scourage.
Indifference, negligence and sloth in the divine work she cannot bear
and she smites awake at once with sharp pain, if need be, the untimely
slumberer and the loiterer.
The impulses that are swift and straight and frank, the movements that
are unreserved and absolute, the aspiration that mounts in flame are the
motion of Mahakali.
Her spirit is tameless, her vision and will are high and far-reaching
like the flight of an eagle, her feet are rapid on the upward way and
her hands are outstretched to strike and to succour.
For she too is the Mother and her love is as intense as her wrath and
she has a deep and passionate kindness.
When she is allowed to intervene in her strength , then in one moment
are broken like things without consistence the obstacles that immobilise
or the enemies that assail the seeker.
If her anger is dreadful to the hostile and the vehemence of her pressure
painful to the weak and timid, she is loved and worshipped by the great,
the strong and the noble; for they feel that her blows beat what is rebellious
in their material into strength and perfect truth, hammer straight what
is wry and perverse and expel what is impure or defective.
But for her what is done in a day might have taken centuries; without
her Ananda might be wide and grave or soft and sweet and beautiful but
would lose the flaming joy of its most absolute intensities.
To knowledge she gives a conquering might, brings to beauty and harmony
a high and mounting movement and imparts to the slow and difficult labour
after perfection an impetus that multiplies the power and shortens the
Nothing can satisfy her that falls short of the supreme ecstasies, the
highest heights, the noblest aims, the largest vistas.
Therefore with her is the victorious force of the Divine and it is by
grace of her fire and passion and speed if he great achievement can be
done now than hereafter.
Wisdom and Force are not the only manifestations
of the supreme Mother; there is a subtler mystery of her nature and without
it Wisdom and Force would be incompetable things and without it perfection
would not be perfect.
Above them is the miracle of eternal beauty, an unseizable secret of divine
harmonies, the compelling magic of an irresistible universal charm and
attraction that draws and holds things and forces and beings together
and obliges them to meet and unite that a hidden Ananda may play from
behind the veil and make of them its rhythms and its figures.
This is the power of Mahalakshmi and there is no aspect of the
Divine Shakti more attractive to the heart of the embodied beings.
Maheshwari can appear too calm and great and distant for the littleness
of earthly nature to approach or contain her, Mahakali too swift and formidable
for its weakness to bear; but all turn with joy and longing to Mahalakshmi.
For she throws the spell of the intoxicating sweetness of the Divine:
to be close to her is a profound happiness and to feel her within the
heart is to make the existence a rapture and a marvel; grace and charm
and tenderness flow from her like the light from the sun and wherever
she fixes her wonderful gaze or lets fall of the loveliness of her smile,
the soul is seized and made captive and plunged into the depths of an
Magnetic is the touch of her hands and their occult and delicate influence
refines the mind and life and body and where she presses her feet course
miraculous streams of an entrancing Ananda.
And yet it is not easy to meet the demand of this enchanting Power or
to keep her presence.
Harmony and beauty of the mind and soul, harmony and beauty of the thoughts
and feelings, harmony and beauty in every outward act and movement, harmony
and beauty of the life and surroundings, this is the demand of Mahalakshmi.
Where there is affinity to the rhythms of the secret world-bliss and response
to the call of the All-Beautiful and concord and unity and the glad flow
of many lives turned towards the Divine, in that atmosphere she consents
But all that is ugly and mean and base, all that is poor and sordid and
squalid, all that is brutal and coarse repels her advent.
Where love and beauty are not or are reluctant to be born, she does not
come; where they are mixed and disfigured with baser things, she turns
soon to depart or cares little to pour her riches.
If she finds herself in men's hearts surrounded with selfishness and hatred
and jealousy and malignance and envy and strife, if treachery and greed
and ingratitude are mixed in the sacred chalice, if grossness of passion
and unrefined desire degrade devotion, in such hearts the gracious and
beautiful Goddess will not linger.
A divine disgust seizes upon her and she withdraws, for she is not one
who insists or strives; or, veiling her face, she waits for this bitter
and poisonous devil's stuff to be rejected and disappear before she will
found anew her happy influence.
Ascetic bareness and harshness are nor to her not the suppression of the
heart's deeper emotions and the rigid repression of the soul's and the
life's parts of beauty.
For it is through love and beauty that she lays on men the yoke of the
Life is turned in her supreme creations into a rich work of celestial
art and all existence into a poem of sacred delight; the world's riches
are brought together and concerted for a supreme order and even the simplest
and commonest things are made wonderful by her intuition of unity and
the breath of her spirit.
Admitted to the heart she lifts wisdom to pinnacles of wonder and reveals
to it the mystic secrets of the ecstasy that surpassed all knowledge,
meets devotion with the passionate attraction of the Divine, teaches to
strength and force the rhythm that keeps the might of their acts harmonious
and in measure and casts on perfection the charm that makes it endure
Mahasaraswati is the Mother's Power
of Work and her spirit of perfection and order.
The youngest of the Four, she is the most skillful in executive faculty
and the nearest to physical Nature.
Maheswari lays down the large lines of the world-forces, Mahakali drives
their energy and impetus, Mahalakshmi discovers their rhythms and measures,
but Mahasaraswati presides over their detail of organization and execution,
relation of parts and effective combination of forces and unfailing exactitude
of result and fulfilment.
The science and craft and technique of things are Mahasaraswati's province.
Always she holds in her nature and can give to those whom she has chosen
the intimate and precise knowledge, the subtlety and patience, the accuracy
of intuitive mind and conscious hand and discerning eye of the perfect
This Power is the strong, the tireless, the careful and efficient builder,
organiser, administrator, technician, artisan and classifier of the worlds.
When she takes up the transformation and new building of the nature, her
action is laborious and minute and often seems to our impatience slow
and interminable, but it is persistent, integral and flawless.
For the will in her works is scrupulous, unsleeping, indefatigable; leaning
over us she notes and touches every little detail, finds out every minute
defect, gap, twist or incompleteness, considers and weighs accurately
all that has been done and all that remains still to be done and all that
remains still to be done hereafter.
Nothing is too small or apparently trivial for her attention; nothing
however impalpable or disguised or latent can escape her.
Moulding and remoulding she labours each part till it has attained its
true form, is put in its exact place in the whole and fulfils its precise
In her constant and diligent arrangement and rearrangement of things her
eye is on all needs at once and the way to meet them and her intuition
knows what is to be chosen and what rejected and successfully determines
the right instrument, the right time, the right conditions and the right
Carelessness and negligence and indolence she abhors; all scamped and
hasty and shuffling work, all clumsiness and 'à peu près'
and misfire, all false adaptation and misuse of instruments and faculties
and leaving of things undone or half done is offensive and foreign to
When her work is finished, nothing has been forgotten, no part has been
misplaced or omitted or left in a faulty condition; all is solid, accurate,
Nothing short of a perfect perfection satisfies her and she is ready to
face an eternity of toil if that is needed for the fullness of her creation.
Therefore of all the Mother's powers she is the most long-suffering with
man and his thousand imperfections.
Kind, smiling, close and helpful, not easily turned away or discouraged,
insistent even after repeated failure, her hand sustains our every step
on condition that we are single in our will and straightforward and sincere;
for a double mind she will not tolerate and her revealing irony is merciless
to drama and histrionics and self-deceit and pretence.
A mother to our wants, a friend in our difficulties, a persistent and
tranquil counsellor and mentor, chasing away with her radiant smile the
clouds of gloom and fretfulness and depression, reminding always of the
ever-present help, pointing to the eternal sunshine, she is firm, quiet
and persevering in the deep and continuous urge that drives is towards
the integrality of the higher nature.
All the work of the other Powers leans on her for its completeness; for
she assures the material foundation, elaborates the stuff of detail and
erects and rivets the armour of the structure.
There are other great Personalities of the Divine
Mother, but they were more difficult to bring down and have not stood
out in front with so much prominence in the evolution of the earth-spirit.
There are among them Presences indispensable for the supramental
- most of all one who is her Personality of that mysterious and powerful
ecstasy and Ananda which flows from a supreme divine Love, the
Ananda that alone can heal the gulf between the highest heights of the
supramental spirit and lowest abysses of Matter, the Ananda that holds
the key of a wonderful divine Life and even now supports from its secrecies
the work of all the other Powers of the universe.
But human nature bounded, egoistic and obscure is inapt to receive these
great Presences or to support their mighty action.
Only when the Four have founded their harmony and freedom of movement
in the transformed mind and life and body, can those other rarer Powers
manifest in the earth movement and the supramental action becomes possible.
For when her Personalities are all gathered in her and manifested and
their separate working has been turned into a harmonious unity and they
rise in her to the supramental godheads, then is the Mother revealed as
the supramental Mahashakti and brings pouring down her luminous transcendences
from their ineffable ether.
Then can human nature change because all the elemental lines of
the supramental Truth-consciousness and Truth-force are strung together
and the harp of life is fitted for the rhythms of the Eternal.
If you desire this transformation, put yourself
in the hands of the Mother and her Powers without cavil or resistance
and let her do unhindered her work within you.
Three things you must have,
- plasticity and
- unreserved surrender.
For you must be conscious in your mind and soul and heart and life
and the very cells of your body, aware of the Mother and her Powers and
their working; for although she can and does work in you even in your
obscurity and your unconscious parts and moments, it is not the same thing
as when you are in an awakened and living communion with her.
All your nature must be plastic to her touch, - not questioning
as the self-sufficient ignorant mind questions and doubts and disputes
and is the enemy of its enlightenment and change; not insisting on its
own movements as the vital in the man insists and persistently opposes
its refractory desires and ill-will to every divine influence; not obstructing
and entrenched in incapacity, inertia and tamas as man's physical consciousness
obstructs and clinging to the pleasure in smallness and darkness cries
out against each touch that disturbs it soulless routine or it dull sloth
or its torpid slumber.
The unreserved surrender of your inner and outer being will bring
this plasticity into all the parts of your nature; consciousness will
awaken everywhere in you by constant openness to the Wisdom and Light,
the Force, the Harmony and Beauty, the Perfection that come flowing down
Even the body will awake and unite at last its consciousness subliminal
no longer to the supramental superconscious Force, feel all her powers
permeating from above and below and around it and thrill to a supreme
Love and Ananda.
But be on your guard and do not try to understand and judge the
Divine Mother by your little earthly mind that loves to subject even the
things that are beyond it to its own norms and standards, its narrow reasonings
and erring impressions, its bottomless aggressive ignorance and its petty
The human mind shut in the prison of its half-lit obscurity cannot follow
the many-sided freedom of the steps of the Divine Shakti.
The rapidity and complexity of her vision and action outrun its stumbling
comprehension; the measures of her movement are not its measures.
Bewildered by the swift alteration of her many different personalities,
her making of rhythms and her breaking of rhythms, her accelerations of
speed and her retardations, her varied ways of dealing with the problem,
of one and anther, her taking up and dropping now of this line and now
of that one and her gathering of them together, it will not recognise
the way of the Supreme Power when it is circling and sweeping upwards
through the maze of the Ignorance to a supernal Light.
Open rather your soul to her and be content to feel her with the psychic
nature and see her with the psychic vision that alone make a straight
response to the Truth.
Then the Mother herself will enlighten by their psychic elements your
mind and heart and life and physical consciousness and reveal to them
too her ways and her nature.
Avoid also the error of the ignorant mind's demand on the Divine
Power to act always according to our crude surface notions of omniscience
For our mind clamours to be impressed at every turn by miraculous power
and easy success and dazzling splendour; otherwise it cannot believe that
there is the Divine.
The Mother is dealing with the Ignorance in the fields of the Ignorance;
she has descended there and is not all above.
Partly she unveils her knowledge and her power, often holds them back
from her instruments and personalities and follows that she may transform
them the way of the seeking mind, the way of the aspiring psychic, the
way of the battling vital, the way of the imprisoned and suffering physical
There are conditions that have been laid down by a Supreme Will, there
are many tangled knots that have to be loosened and cannot be cut abruptly
The Asura and Rakshasa hold this evolving earthly nature and have to be
met and conquered on their own terms in their own long-conquered fief
and province; the human in us has to be led and prepared to transcend
its limits and is too weak and obscure to be lifted up suddenly to a form
far beyond it.
The Divine Consciousness and Force are there and do at each moment the
thing that is needed in the conditions of the labour, take always the
step that is decreed and shape in the midst of imperfection the perfection
that is to come.
But only when the supermind has descended in you she can deal directly
as the supramental Shakti with supramental natures.
If you follow your mind, it will not recognise the Mother even when she
is manifest before you.
Follow your soul and not your mind, your soul that answers to the
Truth, not your mind that leaps at appearances; trust the Divine Power
and she will free the godlike elements in you and shape all into an expression
of Divine Nature.
The supramental change is the thing decreed and inevitable
in the evolution of the earth-consciousness; for its upward ascent is
not ended and mind is not its last summit.
But the change may arrive, take form and endure, there is needed the call
from below with a will to recognise and not deny the Light when it comes,
and there is needed the sanction of the Supreme from above.
The power that mediates between the sanction and the call is the presence
and power of the Divine Mother.
The Mother's power and not any human endeavour and tapasya can alone
rend the lid and tear the covering and shape the vessel and bring down
into this world of obscurity and falsehood and death and suffering Truth
and Light and Life divine and the immortal's Ananda.
In SABCL, volume 25, "The Mother and Letters
on the Mother" (pages 19-41)
The Mother has commented that text in 3 talks:
on August 11, 1954
in CMW, vol. 6, "Questions and Answers - 1954",
on August 18, 1954
in CMW, vol. 6, "Questions and Answers - 1954",
on August 25, 1954
in CMW, vol. 6, "Questions and Answers - 1954",
published by Sri
Aurobindo Ashram - Pondicherry
diffusion by SABDA