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Hidden in Sri Aurobindo’s symbol is the key to understanding His Purpose

by on March 30, 2008

The Mother described the meaning behind Sri Aurobindo’s symbol in the following words

Sri Aurobindo Symbol

“The descending triangle represents Sat-Chit-Ananda.

The ascending triangle represents the aspiring answer from matter under the form of life, light and love.

The junction of both – the central square – is the perfect manifestation having at its centre the Avatar of the Supreme – the lotus.

The water – inside the square – represents the multiplicity, the creation.

Compare this to the way the Hexagram symbol has been used in India since ancient times


Within Indic lore, the shape is generally understood to consist of two triangles–one pointed up and the other down–locked in harmonious embrace. The two components are called ‘Om’ and the ‘Hrim’ in Sanskrit, and symbolize man’s position between earth and sky. The downward triangle symbolizes Shakti, the sacred embodiment of femininity, and the upward triangle symbolizes Shiva, or Agni Tattva, representing the focused aspects of masculinity. The mystical union of the two triangles represents Creation, occurring through the divine union of male and female.” (

Admittedly this sounds a lot earthier and less exalted than what the Mother says. But what struck me was not so much the significance of the union of the upward and the downward triangles as much as what is supposed to happen as a result of the union: CREATION, even according to Mother.

Geometrically what is it that is created by the union of the two triangles? Not the central square. Strictly speaking it is a hexagon. However the effect of superimposing the square is that it almost becomes like a gate or an opening within the hexagon. More importantly the square has been universally used as a symbol of perfection. This square then, according to the Mother, is the perfect manifestation. And almost as if to make the whole thing as explicit as possible there is the water within the square which symbolizes “the multiplicity, the creation”. We could just as easily substitute the word “Supramental” for “Perfect” and say that it is the Supramental Manifestation. I find it truly incredible that this one symbol represents not just Sri Aurobindo the person, the Avatar of the Supreme – the lotus, but also the Divine Phenomenon that He initiates and leads, the union of spirit and matter opening into the new divine creation, the Supramental Manifestation.

There is also another parallel to the symbolism of the intersecting triangles, which is the union of the Divine and His Shakti, and some of us may have already seen this in the Lingam-Yoni image found in all Shaviate places of worship.

Lingam Yoni

Often those who know Ma Sri Aurobindo ask themselves why a dual avatar when in the past it has always been just one avatar at a time? Sure there are many possible explanations, my favorite one so far being the integral synthesis of east and west. But then there are many other possible syntheses to choose from which could also be considered effective explanations, that of the masculine and the feminine, the spiritual and the occult, yoga and tantra, etc. etc. The list goes on.

Ma Sri Aurobindo

But what if the purpose of the Avatar here is not, as in all past Divine Descents, simply to impart another teaching or to rescue the world and rejuvenate the Eternal Dharma temporarily until the next major crisis hits? What if the purpose here is a new creation analogous to the cosmological notion of a big bang, to conceive and to give birth to a whole new world? Does that not seem to be the one condition where the full manifestation of both the Supreme Divine and His Shakti would be required? Is that not indeed what Ma Sri Aurobindo have repeatedly stressed They were here to do? And somehow that one fundamental Truth gets obscured when people take them for mere Gurus or Spiritual Teachers like so many others, if they even know about them.

This same point is reinforced by noting that when Sri Aurobindo left for Pondicherry in 1910 He intended to return to politics and resume the leadership of the Indian independence movement eventually, when the time was right and He had advanced sufficiently enough in His Sadhana. However, something changed along the way. Let me repeat part of a life-sketch of Sri Aurobindo issued by the Ashram after it was reviewed by Him. It gives the following reason for His staying back indefinitely in Pondicherry:

Sri Aurobindo had left Bengal with some intention of returning to the political field under more favourable circumstances; but very soon the MAGNITUDE of the spiritual work he had taken up appeared to him and he saw that it would need the exclusive concentration of all his energies. Eventually he cut off connection with politics, refused repeatedly to accept the Presidentship of the National Congress.

What was the magnitude of this spiritual work that it could even lead Him to refuse the leadership of the independence movement? Surely the whole history of India and the world would have been dramatically different had He chosen to accept. Partition would not have happened and instead of a half-blind nation groping in the dark we would have had a powerful, self-aware and confident India ready to take her rightful place as the spiritual leader and guide of the world. Was this not one of Sri Aurobindo’s dreams even in 1947 and beyond? The true magnitude and scope of His spiritual work must refer to this new creation, the Divine manifestation. It is the only explanation that satisfies in the end. This work was not just the creation of a new Yoga like any other. Continuing from the same life-sketch of Sri Aurobindo:

Most ways of Yoga are paths to the Beyond leading to the Spirit and, in the end, away from life; Sri Aurobindo’s rises to the Spirit to redescend with its gains bringing the light and power and bliss of the Spirit into life to transform it… It is only by the descent of this supermind that the perfection dreamed of by all that is highest in humanity can come.

Here again, in another form, we return to the rising and descending movements uniting to manifest the perfect creation, as figured in Sri Aurobindo’s symbol.

The central significance of this idea of the creation of a new world is powerfully brought out in the following words from Mother:

People sleep, they forget, they take life easy — they forget, forget all the time…. But if we could remember… that we are at an exceptional hour, a unique time, that we have this immense good fortune, this invaluable privilege of being present at the birth of a new world, we could easily get rid of everything that impedes and hinders our progress.

So, the most important thing, it seems, is to remember this fact; even when one doesn’t have the tangible experience, to have the certainty of it and faith in it; to remember always, to recall it constantly, to go to sleep with this idea, to wake up with this perception; to do all that one does with this great truth as the background, as a constant support, this great truth that we are witnessing the birth of a new world. We can participate in it, we can become this new world. And truly, when one has such a marvelous opportunity, one should be ready to give up everything for its sake.

I will try to remember this great Truth whenever I am able to (which may not be very often), but at the very least every time I look at Sri Aurobindo’s symbol and remember who He and the Mother really are, not just Yogis or Gurus, Saints or Mystics, but the progenitors of a whole new Divine World, here to initiate and give birth to a perfect creation that shall fulfill and justify all the struggle and the suffering of the present imperfect one.

Let me conclude with the following words that the Mother wrote in her dairy, the day following her first meeting with Sri Aurobindo on 29th March 1914:

It matters little that there are thousands of beings plunged in the densestignorance, He whom we saw yesterday is on earth; his presence is enoughto prove that a day will come when darkness shall be transformed into light,and Thy reign shall be indeed established upon earth.

Some interesting historical info. on the symbol is provided by Alan Kazlev at his site:

The whole life-sketch cited above can be read at

Govind Nishar

From → Ma Sri Aurobindo

  1. This is a beautiful writeup.

    I have 21 Categories in my Site Blog, and Aurobindo Philosophy is one of the Categories.

    Nice to have met you !

    G Kumar

  2. Nice. I am also a disciple of Sri Aurobindo and the Mother

  3. ned permalink

    Excellent and very interesting post! I agree that Mother and Sri Aurobindo seem to have represented something very unique in the occult history of our world — a true synthesis and reconciliation between many different dualities of existence, which is probably why a dual Avatar was needed for this particular manifestation.

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