Monday, November 5, 2012
The Mother of Pondicherry first met Sri Aurobindo in 1914 when she came to Pondicherry. Mirra Alfassa, who became the disciple of Sri Aurobindo and later referred to simply as 'Mother' wrote volumes of letters and essays and her spiritual talks had all been combined for a special edition of publication. Mirra had to leave Pondicheery, immediately after reaching it in 1914 due to the first World war. She took asylum in Japan where she happened to meet Rabindranath Tagore. Her sojourn in Japan was productive as she spent her free time in writing essays and letters. 'Woman and the War' is one of her interesting essays that were written in Japan that show how savvy Mirra was in current affairs of her time. The essay begins with a self-imposed question to put Mirra's idea on Feminism and its recent developments. Mirra compares the first world war's impact with the growth of feminism. The war is seen as a dispenser of scum that has been masking the eyes of the world. It has peeled off the pseudo upper layer to show the world how the sexes could complement each other for a better world. The war shows the world of the uselessness of the fight between the sexes and reserving jobs for the woman folk. When men were at the front, the women stepped into their shoes perfectly. Women were considered an object of pleasure, a distraction to productive work and a tender of family heretofore. The war provided an opportunity to women to prove their mettle and calibre. When women could assist the wounded at the war front, could they be termed as the weaker sex. Mirra quotes of the ancient Indian life where the women were allowed to govern and she also reflects that such a system is also in vogue in France, when it comes to administering the house-hold chores. However women are not allowed to hold public offices and govern a public body. She ruminates on a true incident that happened at the time of the first world war. An American society had requested its English counter part to help to save a few villages from famine that were on the Belgian soil under the German occupation. The request fell in the deaf ears of men. Fortunately a nurse heard it and with tremendous skill and organisational act she accomplished the act with her woman friends. Mirra is not too proud of the capabilities of women. She is wary of their weaknesses too that also get exposed by the first world war. She wants women to extricate themselves from the grip of emotions and sentimentality if they want to succeed in their position. Of course women are capable of love and humility and abstain from brutality and vulgarity. However they must getaway from passionate nature and partisanship to sustain themselves as successful administrators. Mirra appeals to the world to include women to achieve more. Women are for the interior and men for the exterior shall no longer be fructifying. The sexes must be put together for a sustainable progression. The hostility between the sexes must be put aside in the obsolete category. The war has destroyed the old structure and in their places must rise structures that are jointly built by men and women. Mirra feels that it can only be achieved through spiritual energy. All humans ought to grow spiritually. The Dhammata, the divine world of Buddhism is at the basis and on it is built other structures that sees all equally and does there remain no distinction. The feminist problem is spiritual problem and in recognising the spiritual equality can it be solved.