Always the symbol is legitimate in so far as it is true, sincere, beautiful and delightful, and even one may say that a spiritual consciousness without any aesthetic or emotional content is not entirely or at any rate not integrally spiritual.
In my opinion, there is no symbol more sincere, beautiful and delightful than that of the Mother of Sri Aurobindo ashram. In paying homage to a lotus in full bloom, it resonates emotionally and aesthetically, but it is the symbol's spiritual consciousness that truly inspires.
I have read accounts that the symbol first appeared in Sri Aurobindo's short work, "The Mother," which was first published in 1928. The Mother herself explained the meaning of the symbol as follows:
The central circle represents the Divine Consciousness.
The four petals represent the four powers of The Mother.
The twelve petals represent the twelve powers of the Mother manifested for Her work.
The symbol is a sacred geometry of universal manifestation, embodying the Mother's divine work of creating, transforming and evolving matter to express, more and more, the Divine Consciousness. Let's look first at the three concentric circles that are the foundation of the design. These circles hold the three modes of being of the Divine Mother: the inner circle corresponds to her Transcendent nature; the middle to her Universal nature; the outer to her Individual nature. In "The Mother," Sri Aurobindo describes these three states:
So, that's a pretty big quote! Don't worry if it doesn't yet make complete sense to you. Focus on the feeling of a perfect Mother, creating and overseeing a flow of Divine Light from Source through the vastness of the universe and into your life. Without her, that Light would remain unmanifest, or, in essence, just the vague flicker of an intuition of something that might exist. With her, it becomes real, because she is the force of creation, evolution, and transformation. Without the Mother, love is a good idea. With her, it is a lived experience and a force creating change. "Nothing can be here or elsewhere but what she decides and the Supreme sanctions." Id. p. 30.
The actual process of creation and manifestation itself begins in the middle circle, which contains four petals representing the four powers the Divine Mother uses in her work, and the personalities she takes on when using those powers: Wisdom, in the guise of Maheshwari; Force, as Mahakali; Beauty, as Mahalakshmi; and Perfection, as Mahasaraswati. The middle circle is where the real work starts!
What does this mean for you? The above chart is a template for creation in your own life. If you want to create a life with beautiful attributes, then you should take a cue from the Divine Creatrix and cultivate the qualities and skills she uses in her work. Take a look at your life; what are you creating? How are you creating it? What type of results are you getting? What roadblocks do you need to overcome? If you are having trouble with your master plan, focus on cultivating, with Maheshwari's help, the attributes in the first column. If you have a plan, but can't seem to take action, or if you have a trait you need to get rid of to move forward, then work with Mahakali and the force in action she represents. If your life seems dull, mundane, and colourless, you need more Mahalakshmi in your life. If you have a plan, are working hard, but not getting the results you aspire to, focus on the last column and Mahasaraswati to perfect your efforts. Reading "The Mother" will be great help in this. (Link below.)
For most of us, the outer circle will hold the most practical utility, as its twelve petals represent the attitudes we must cultivate to translate the Mother's powers into daily action in our lives. These qualities will probably feel the most "real" and attainable for us; they are something all of us can, at least to some degree, begin to bring into our lives. When these qualities (or even one of them) are the basis (even in part) for our thoughts, words, and deeds, we become an active participant in the master plan of creation. We become a living component of the Mother's Symbol. We take a step towards our dharma (purpose).
Attitudes towards the Divine:
Attitudes towards others:
In March 1934, Sri Aurobindo assigned colours to the twelve petals of the symbol:
Centre and four powers, white (or gold powder can be used);
The twelve petals, different colours in three groups:
- top four, starting at noon: red, passing to orange towards yellow;
- next four: yellow, passing through green towards blue;
- last four: blue, passing through violet towards red.
So for each attitude you should cultivate, there is now an associated colour, as follows:
To help cultivate these qualities in my life, each month I am going to focus on the attribute and its colour for the corresponding month. (For example, we are in the sixth month of the year now, so I will spend June incorporating the green of gratitude into my life.) I will be posting on my Facebook page the Mother's thoughts on gratitude throughout the month and using shades of "gratitude green" in my social media, newsletters, etc. as a consistent reminder to let this aspect of the Divine Mother into my life, and to then act accordingly. The most important part? To FEEL the quality during my daily actions; I hope that by surrounding myself with and consistently sharing the colour and character of the petals, I will feel these qualities more in my life, which means that what I create will also hold the qualities. By cultivating the feeling of the twelve petals, I can bless my own life and also become a blessing to those around me.
Want to know the coolest incarnation of the Mother's Symbol I have experienced? The Matrimandir (Mother's Temple).
The Matrimandir is the Mother's Symbol turned into a sacred space for contemplation. You can meditate on the Divine Consciousness in its central chamber, or cultivate a specific quality in any one of the twelve "petals" surrounding the chamber.
I like to think of each atom of the universe as the Mother's Symbol in microcosm. Within each atom, there is a spark of the Divine Creator seeking expression. Through her powers of creation, evolution, and transformation, the Divine Mother is evolving each atom over time to more perfectly hold and express the Truth of the Creator. So what is the universe? Numberless trillions of Mother Symbols, pulsing with the force of Divine Creation, creating God in form. Our yoga is how we join the Divine Mother and participate in this miraculous process.
* all unattributed quotes are from "The Mother" by Sri Aurobindo
You can download a copy for free through Auro e-books. It's one of my all-time favourite works; a definite "deserted island" choice for me. I will leave you with one of my most-loved passages: