The Life Incarnate and the Life Divine: Spiritual evolution, androgyny, and the grace of the goddess in the teachings of Mirra Alfassa, the Mother of Integral Yoga

Mercredi 17 février 2021, à 12h00

Mirra Alfassa (1878-1973), better known as the Mother, was Sri Aurobindo’s spiritual partner and co-founder of Integral Yoga, a global movement based in South India and currently numbering multiple centres around the world, from St Petersburg to Montreal. Affectionately addressed by her devotees at the Ashram as Sweet Mother or Douce Mère, Alfassa is understood to be an incarnation of the Universal Mother, or Shakti, come down to earth to facilitate the spiritual—and physical—evolution of humanity to its next stage of development. At the same time, Alfassa deemed celibacy necessary for advanced spiritual practice, and she herself renounced biological motherhood and physical intimacy even before her collaboration with Aurobindo. Her attitudes towards gender and normative gender roles were equally complex; for example, she taught that the ‘luminous’ bodies of the divinized (future) humanity would be genderless, or androgynous. In this paper, I will explore the tensions between the various elements of the highly gendered creative and spiritual powers attributed to the Mother (e.g. her role as Aurobindo’s shakti and as grace-bestowing living goddess), and her own ambivalent discourses around gender, embodiment, and motherhood.

Cette conférence sera donnée en anglais. 

Nika Kuchuk, Department for the Study of Religion, University of Toronto

Nika Kuchuk est candidate au doctorat au Department for the Study of Religion à l’Université de Toronto. Sa recherche explore comment les échanges d’idées entre l’Inde et l’Occident ont contribué à la formation de mouvements religieux transnationaux à la fin du 19ème et au début du 20ème siècle, en particulier la Théosophie et le Yoga Intégral. Elle s’intéresse particulièrement aux questions de genre et de traduction, ainsi qu’aux façons plus générales dont les visions synthétiques et universalistes de ces movuvements continuent à influencer la spiritualité et la politique au niveau global.

mother                                         Crédit photo: Govinda Wang sur Wikimedia Commons, CC