The separation and the anguish

This is one of a series of essays written about the Mother's Prayers and Meditations. The first volume, about 120 essays, is due to be published in book form in January 1998.


by Shyam Kumari
Tn her introduction to the entire series, Shyam says:

Let me humbly say that these are my individual reflections upon the Prayers and Meditations. They do not explain, nay even attempt to explain, the prayers which are a sublime record of the Divine Mother's spiritual experiences: her ascents to the highest Spirit Planes, her intimate communions with the Supreme.

Yet, even if one may not be able to dive to the core of these Divine Communions and Revelations, one can, according to the measure of one's sincerity and preparation, bathe and exult in their divine ambience.

On August 6, 1994, in the holy hush of the pre-dawn hour, in an indrawn state, I pulled out the Prayers and Meditations from the shelf and read the prayer of March 4, 1914. Something stirred deep within. There was a descent of inspiration and as if in a meditative state I typed the incoming words; thus was formed an essay “The Separation and the Anguish” on that particular prayer. 

Shyam Kumari can be reached at:

    Sri Aurobindo Ashram
    22 Lally Tollendal Street
    Pondicherry 605002 India
or via email at

On the prayer of March 6, 1914

In the first week of March 1914, the Mother left her country of birth, France, on a voyage to India believing that most probably she would not return. She took leave of her family and friends. Amongst those she left behind was her young son André who was about sixteen years old. The members of her family and her friends were naturally grieved at parting from their cherished one. Though the Mother was forced to return to France in March 1915 due to the outbreak of the First World War, and lived there for about 15 months, this in fact, was the effective separation. Divine in her essence, the Mother was even in her outer consciousness, as early as 1914, worlds apart from ordinary human beings. She had, by then, scaled great heights of spirituality, and had risen above suffering in the human way. This fact is amply proved by one luminous page of her Prayers and Meditations, written in Geneva on March 6, 1914. In an obvious reference to her family and friends, she wrote:

    After having suffered acutely from their suffering, I turned towards Thee, trying to heal it by infusing into it a little of that divine Love which is the source of all peace and all happiness. We must not run away from suffering, we must not love and cultivate it either, we must learn how to go deep down into it sufficiently to turn it into a lever powerful enough for us to force open the doors of the eternal consciousness and enter the serenity of Thy unchanging Oneness.

Her words show that the Mother suffered acutely not from her own suffering but from that of those she was leaving behind. She did not look down from the exalted heights of her serene Consciousness on the emotional suffering of her family and friends. Rather, she pierced the outer seeming and went to the very core of the problem of pain of parting:

    Surely this sentimental and physical attachment which causes an agonizing wrench when bodies are separated, is childish from a certain point of view, when we contemplate the outer forms and the reality of Thy essential Oneness.

Tut then the Mother identified herself with the human viewpoint. She looked deep to find out the raison d’être of attachment and its resultant sorrow. And having identified it she wrote:

    but, on the other hand, is not this attachment, this personal affection, an unconscious effort in men to realize outwardly, as far as possible, that fundamental oneness towards which they always move without even being aware of it?
And then the Mother revealed the secret of making suffering a means of ascension:
     And precisely because of that, is not the suffering that separation brings one of the most effective means of transcending this outer consciousness, of replacing this superficial attachment by the integral realization of Thy eternal Oneness?
Though herself above such anguish and pain, she appreciated this “beauty of affection and tenderness” in others. Thus, in such a lofty frame with sweet compassion and total detachment and integral calm, the Mother on that day of March, 1914, left all that is held dear by human hearts, without a backward look, without tears, offering her dear ones in total trust to the Lord, praying that their suffering might be healed:
    This is what I wished for them all; this is what I ardently willed for them, and that is why, assured of Thy victory, certain of Thy triumph, I confided their grief to Thee that by illuminating it Thou mayst heal it. O Lord, grant that all this beauty of affection and tenderness may be transformed into glorious knowledge. Grant that the best may emerge from everything and Thy happy Peace reign over the earth.
Conscious yet calm, understanding yet unmoved, on the above exalted note of invocation and trust the Mother closed this prayer.

Turely this was the sublimest parting that was ever recorded in the spiritual history of the world. When Sri Rama left Ayodhya his father, the great King Dashratha, died of a broken heart due to the departure of his son. Actually Sri Rama thought it advisable to leave while his father was in a swoon. Vaishnava literature records in detail the unbearable pangs of separation of Ma Yashoda, Sri Radha and the Gopis when Sri Krishna left Vrindavan. Even the animals and the plants have been said to have suffered intensely and nobody can doubt those seer poets of Sanskrit and later of other Indian languages who wrote of this pain. The great renunciation of Buddha is called Mahabhinishkraman and looked upon with holy awe, and rightly too, by the whole world. Yet Buddha had to leave while his wife was sleeping, and he left without informing his parents. His parents were beside themselves with grief when they came to know of his departure. Along with his wife, sweet princess Yashodhara, they wept throughout the long years of his Tapasya, until he came home and enlightened them. The great Shankara had to take his mother's permission by a ruse and Sri Chaitanya Mahaprabhu left behind a heartbroken mother and a hardly reconciled wife. Probably the Time Spirit was not advanced enough for it to be otherwise.

The Mother, the Supramental Mahashakti, acted in a different way. We see in the sole record of that noble parting how the Mother was not only above suffering, she also healed the suffering of all those she left behind, amongst them her only son and parents whose only daughter she was, and the friends who must have held her dear because none could have helped loving her. Thus the Mother wrote a finis to the reality of emotional suffering by offering it to the Divine for transforming it into a compassionate and universal greatening. That day the dramatic intensity of human suffering at parting was conquered “in its essence,” and not only was a victory made possible for all those who wished to overcome it, but also a diminishing and sublimation of the pain and anguish of lesser mortals.

August 6, 1994

Shyam Kumari has lived at the Sri Aurobindo Ashram for the last twenty-nine years and is a teacher of language and literature (English and Hindi) at the Ashram's school, the Sri Aurobindo International Centre of Education. In 1982, she began writing poems, lyrics, literary and social essays, stories, reviews, and plays, several hundred of which have appeared in print. Among her books are the four volume series of How They Came to Sri Aurobindo and The Mother and the three volume series of Vignettes of Sri Aurobindo and The Mother. She is also the author of a number of books of rhymes and stories for children.

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