The Mother: Supreme Nature That Manifests All Existence

The Supreme Divine is “One without a second”. Yet we can still make mental distinctions between the Transcendent, the Universal and the Individual aspects of the Divine, as that is the nature of the mental consciousness, and we can focus on one or another of these aspects without forgetting the unity and oneness that contains, constitutes and supports each aspect. To do this, we recognise that we cannot limit the Divine by any specific aspect or identification. “Not this, not that” is intended to remind us that these definitions cannot limit the Divine.

Similarly, the active nature in the individual, in the world, and in the cosmos, Prakriti, can be looked at as separate aspects of the Divine Shakti, but without limiting the Shakti through these identifications. There is the supreme nature Para Prakriti, which exceeds any limits or definitions we create to identify the action of nature in the universal creation.

Sri Aurobindo writes: “It is a mistake to identify the Mother with the lower Prakriti and its mechanism of forces. Prakriti here is a mechanism only which has been put forth for the working of the evolutionary Ignorance. As the ignorant mental, vital or physical being is not itself the Divine, although it comes from the Divine — so the mechanism of Prakriti is not the Divine Mother. No doubt something of her is there in and behind this mechanism maintaining it for the evolutionary purpose; but what she is in herself is not a Shakti of Avidya, but the Divine Consciousness, Power, Light, Para Prakriti to whom we turn for release and the divine fulfillment.”

Sri Aurobindo, Integral Yoga: Sri Aurobindo’s Teaching and Method of Practice, Chapter 4 The Divine, The Gods and the Divine Force, The Divine Mother pp. 88-90

The Divine Mother — the Consciousness-Force of the Divine

In his book The Mother, Sri Aurobindo writes: “In all that is done in the universe, the Divine through his Shakti is behind all action but he is veiled by his Yoga Maya and works through the ego of the Jiva in the lower nature.” The Divine Shakti, the creative force of the universe, the power that manifests all, is the Divine Mother. There are both static and dynamic aspects of existence. The static aspect is Eternal, Absolute and unmoving. It supports and contains all, but does not create. The dynamic aspect is the force of creation that acts in the universe. The Divine Mother is this dynamic power of creation.

Sri Aurobindo notes: “The Divine Mother is the Consciousness and Force of the Divine — which is the Mother of all things. ..– or, it may be said, she is the Divine in its consciousness-force. The Ishwara as Lord of the cosmos does come out of the Mother who takes her place beside him as the cosmic Shakti — the cosmic Ishwara is one aspect of the Divine. … The Supreme cannot create through the Transcendent because the Transcendent is the Supreme. It is through the Cosmic Shakti that the Divine creates.”

“it is the Divine who is the Master — the Self is inactive, it is always a silent witness supporting all things — that is the static aspect. There is also the dynamic aspect through which the Divine works — behind that is the Mother. You must not lose sight of that, that it is through the Mother that all things are attained.”

Sri Aurobindo, Integral Yoga: Sri Aurobindo’s Teaching and Method of Practice, Chapter 4 The Divine, The Gods and the Divine Force, The Divine Mother pp. 88-90

The Supreme Consciousness and the Creative Force of Manifestation

Indian spirituality and philosophy has recognized two primary aspects to existence, the Supreme Consciousness that creates, informs, constitutes and contains all that exists, and the Creative Force that actually manifests the universal creation. The Gita describes the Supreme Consciousness as the Purushottama, the ultimate Purusha, and the Creative Force as the Para Prakriti, the Divine Shakti, the supreme executive Nature. The Gita, as with other Vedantic texts, focuses primarily on the realisation of the Purushottama, as Vedanta generally sets the goal as the liberation of the individual from the cosmic creation. With the development of the Tantric tradition, the emphasis shifted to liberation through achieving oneness with the Divine Shakti. Sri Aurobindo accepts both aspects as real and has developed a unification that works to both achieve ultimate realisation of the Purushottama as well as with the Divine Shakti. The Divine Shakti is called the Divine Mother as it is the creative force that manifests and gives birth to the universes, galaxies, worlds, and all forms and forces that are experienced in this creation.

Sri Aurobindo observes: “The Gita does not speak expressly of the Divine Mother; it speaks always of surrender to the Purushottama — it mentions her only as the Para Prakriti who becomes the Jiva, that is, who manifests the Divine in the multiplicity and through whom all these worlds are created by the Supreme and he himself descends as the Avatar. The Gita follows the Vedantic tradition which leans entirely on the Ishwara aspect of the Divine and speaks little of the Divine Mother because its object is to draw back from world-nature and arrive at the supreme realisation beyond it; the Tantric tradition leans on the Shakti or Ishwari aspect and makes all depend on the Divine Mother because its object is to possess and dominate world-nature and arrive at the supreme realisation through it. This yoga insists on both the aspects; the surrender to the Divine Mother is essential, for without it there is no fulfilment of the object of the yoga.”

Sri Aurobindo, Integral Yoga: Sri Aurobindo’s Teaching and Method of Practice, The Integral Yoga and Other Systems of Yoga and Philosophy, pg.30