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Boaz Huss Public Lecture at Paideia Feb 2014: The (Jewish) Mother in an Indian Ashram

Mirra Alfassa’s Road from the Cosmic Movement to Sri Aurobindo’s Ashram

The lecture examines the history and ideas of Mirra Alfassa (1878-1973), a Jewish artist of Sephardic origins, who became one of the most famous spiritual leaders in India, know, as the Mother. In the first decade of the 20th century Mirra Alfassa became active in the Cosmic Movement, an esoteric movement headed by a mysterious Jewish teacher, Max Theon (Eliezer Biemstein , c. 1848-1927). Later, Mirra Alfassa traveled with her second husband, Paul Richard, to Pondicherry, India and became affiliated with Sri Aurobindo (1872-1950), the radical political activist who became a spiritual leader. Mirra, who cooperated with Aurobindo in the publication of the journal Arja, in which he presented the first formulations of his Integral Yoga, was recognized by Aurobindo as the incarnation of the divine female power, the cosmic Mother. Mirra Alfassa who established Sri Aurobindo’s Ashram, and later, the international spiritual city Auroville, became one of the most venerated spiritual teachers in India, and around the world. She resided in Pondicherry until her death in 1973.

The lecture will examine the life of Mirra Alfassa and her road from the cosmic movement to Sri Aurobindo’s ashram. It will discuss the impact of Max Theon’s esoteric ideas on Mirra Alfassa, her perceptions of Kabbalah, and the question of her Jewish identity.

Boaz Huss teaches Kabbalah at the Goren-Goldstein Department of Jewish Thought at Ben-Gurion University of the Negev. He is an expert of various areas of Kabbalah, including the Zohar and contemporary Kabbalah.

Read the related materials here: The (Jewish) Mother in an Indian Ashram