Birthday: February 21, 1878
Spiritual & Religious Leaders
Died At Age: 95
Sun Sign: Pisces
Also Known As: Blanche Rachel Mirra Alfassa, The Mother
Born Country: France
Born in: Paris, France
Famous as: Spiritual Guru
Spouse/Ex-: Henri Morisset (m. 1897–1908)
father: Moïse Maurice Alfassa
mother: Mathilde Ismalun
children: Andre Morisset
Died on: November 17, 1973
place of death: Pondicherry
education: Académie Julian
Mirra Alfassa, known to many simply as ‘The Mother’, was a famous yogi and a spiritual guru. Belonging to a bourgeois Jewish immigrant family, she was born and brought up in France and had a unique upbringing. If she ever complained about something her mother would always remind her that she was born to realize the highest ideal, not to bother about small things. Indeed, starting at the age of four, she had numerous supernatural experiences. About her childhood years, she had later said, “There was a small chair for me on which I used to sit still, engrossed in meditation. A very brilliant light would then descend over my head and produce some turmoil inside my brain”. However, her full potential was developed only after she visited India, where she met Shri Aurobindo, who immediately recognized her to be of equal yogic stature. Eventually, she settled down in Pondicherry, where she began to run the Ashram with her mentor, establishing integral yoga with him. She died in Pondicherry at the age of ninety-five.
Childhood & Early Life
Mirra Alfassa was born on 21 February, 1878 in Paris, France, as Blanche Rachel Mirra Alfassa. Her father, Moïse Maurice Alfassa, was a Turkish banker while her mother, Mathilde Ismalun, was Egyptian. Born second of her parents’ two children, she had an elder brother named Mattéo Mathieu Maurice Alfassa.
An extraordinary child, Mirra began to contemplate at the age of four and by the age of five, she was exasperated by the ways of the world and strived for a different way of life. She also knew that she would have to find out the truth all by herself.
Mirra began her academics rather late, learning to read at the age of seven. Around the same time, she began to have many miraculous experiences. One day, a thirteen-year-old boy was mocking her and when he would not stop, she picked him up bodily and threw him down.
Another day, while climbing up a steep hill, her feet slipped and she began to tumble down. But suddenly she felt that somebody was supporting her. When she reached the level ground ,she found herself standing safely on her feet.
In 1887, she began her formal education at a private school. Thereafter, she became engrossed in learning not only by reading books, but also by observing nature. By the age of fourteen, she had read all the books in her father’s collection.
Apart from studying, she also became interested in various extracurricular activities such as tennis, singing and drawing. Concurrently, she started having a series of psychic experiences, which not only convinced her of the existence of God, but also of the fact that union with Him was possible.
Between the age of eleven and thirteen, she received instructions from several teachers in her sleep. One of them was quite dark and she later began to call him as Krishna. Very soon, she began to look forward to meeting him in person.
Around the age of twelve, she started visiting the forest of Fontainebleau, located in the metropolitan area of Paris. Here, she would sit under a tree to meditate, often feeling one with nature. Also, from this period, she started practicing occultism, enabling her to move about in the subtle world.
Every night, around the age of thirteen, she began to have a unique dream, in which she rose far above in the sky, clad in a magnificent golden robe. Then she would see many people gathering under the robe, asking for help. In answer, the robe would touch each of them, comforting them.
In 1893, Mirra graduated from school and thereafter went on a tour of Italy, where she had a glimpse into her past life. Nonetheless, she returned to Paris and entered Académie Julian where she studied art till 1897.
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On 13 October, 1897, Mirra Alfassa married Henri Morisset, an artist. They remained together until their divorce in 1908, meanwhile having a son called Andre, born in 1898. All along, she continued to paint, some of which were accepted by the Salon d'Automne and were exhibited in 1903, 1904 and 1905.
The early 1900s was a confusing time for Mirra, which became somewhat clearer after she came across two Hindu scriptures; ‘Raja Yoga’ and ‘Bhagabat Gita’. Meeting Max Théon and Alma Théon, the founders of the Cosmic Movement, also helped to some extent.
In 1911, she married Paul Richard, who had some interest in theology. Also, an aspiring politician, he hoped to be elected to the French Parliament from the French colony of Pondicherry, India.
Paul and Mirra sailed for India on 7 March 1914, reaching Pondicherry by 29 March. There they met Shri Aurobindo, whom Mirra immediately recognized as the person who had been teaching her in her dreams.
Although Richard lost the election, they continued to live in Pondicherry. Shortly on 15 August 1914, they launched a journal called ‘Arya’, publishing the works of Shri Aurobindo.
In 1915, as the First World War began to hot up, the couple was forced to leave Pondicherry, moving first to France and then to Japan. Eventually, they returned to Pondicherry on 24 April 1920. But very soon, Richard left the town, eventually returning home after divorcing Mirra.
On 24 November 1920, Shri Aurobindo asked Mirra Alfassa to move into his house, where she was initially treated as an outsider by his other disciples. But as the Master began to call her “The Mother” and treat her as a revered yogi, they too began to accept her as one.
By 1924, Mirra Alfassa was able to take control of the house, organizing regular talks and group meditations, slowly turning it into an ‘Ashram’. By 1926, the number of inmates had increased and the house became a centre of spiritual activities. Also, in the same year, they established ‘Integral Yoga’.
On 24 November 1926, Aurobindo experienced the direct manifestation of Consciousness onto himself. Thereafter, he began to withdraw from daily activities, leaving Mother in charge of the Ashram, which she continued to do till 1958.
From 1959, she began to spend more and more time on her spiritual practices, slowly being immersed in it. She had the ultimate experience by 1962. Thereafter on 21 February 1963, she gave her first darshan from the terrace, especially built for the purpose.
On 28 February 1968, she drew up the charter of Auroville, a proposed international city, which continues to grow even today. This was possibly her last major project.
While Mirra Alfassa is known as the founder of ‘Auroville’ she is equally revered as the co-founder of ‘integral yoga’, which seeks to transform one’s fragmentary way of being into spiritual consciousness, turning his/her ordinary existence into the divine life. Her teachings have been compiled in ‘Collected Works of The Mother’.
Death & Legacy
Mirra Alfassa became critically ill by the end of March 1973. She attending her last meeting on 20 May 1973 and gave her final darshan on 15 August 1973. She passed away three months later on 17 November 1973.
On 20 November 1973, she was buried in the courtyard of the main Ashram building, next to the Samadhi of Shri Aurobindo.