A Unique Little Girl

A Unique Little Girl

— Pournaprema

Publisher: Sri Aurobindo Ashram Publication Department, Pondicherry

Biographies of the Mother and reminiscences by disciples about their contact with her are numerous and always fascinating because the Mother’s personality and her way of working for this earth are riveting in their power and grace. This slim volume, A Unique Little Girl, by the Mother’s granddaughter Pournaprema, is unique among such biographical accounts. Drawn from notes she had made during conversations with the Mother, these stories and anecdotes were recounted to the Ashram schoolchildren in 1978, just five years after the Mother had left her body. Originally published in French under the title Une drôle de petite fille, this English translation brings to a wider audience a charming and intimate narrative that will appeal to readers of all ages.

In the initial pages, family details provide the background of Mirra Alfassa’s childhood. Mirra’s mother, who was born in Egypt, and her father, who came from Turkey, were both from families of bankers. Mirra and her older brother, Mattéo, were raised in a staunchly materialist home.  Although the family had lived in wealth and comfort, a turn in their fortunes soon left them nearly ruined financially. Amid these unusual circumstances Mirra and Mattéo had many of the expected childhood experiences, but always with a marked difference. Clearly a wider and higher consciousness was at play in their development, and each anecdote brings this to light.

In addition to her school subjects, Mirra studied music and painting, and became adept in both these arts. She married the painter Henri Morisset, and the book has reproductions of several of his paintings and sketches with the Mother, and often their son, André, as subjects.

As Pournaprema’s narrative progresses, we read about the Mother’s group of spiritual seekers in Paris, her two visits to Tlemcen in Algeria, where she studied occultism with Max Théon and his wife, her first journey to India aboard a Japanese ship, and her meeting with Sri Aurobindo:

She went to the rue François Martin, went up the little staircase of the house which is now the Guest House at the corner of the Playground, and for the first time saw Him whom in her childhood visions she used to call “Krishna”. Sri Aurobindo was waiting for her; it was the 29th of March 1914.

She rented a house close by—now it has become the Archives office. From its roof terrace she could see Sri Aurobindo in the evenings during sunset, walking in the veranda of his house.

After spending about a year in Pondicherry, the Mother had to return to France due to the outbreak of the First World War. From France she then travelled to Japan in 1916, and the book recounts her voyage, going around the Cape of Good Hope instead of passing through the Suez Canal, which was closed because of the war. After four years in Japan, she returned to India, to Sri Aurobindo, and, as Pournaprema ends her story:

And little by little

She became MD,

She became Douce Mère.

———

This review is the copyright of Sabda. You can find out more about the book here