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The Mother was born in Paris on 21 February 1878. Mirra, as the child was named, was the daughter of the banker Maurice Alfassa (born in Adrianople, Turkey, in 1843), and Mathilde Ismaloun (born in Alexandria, Egypt, in 1857). Maurice, his wife, and their son Matteo (born in Alexandria in 1876) emigrated from Egypt to France a year before Mirra's birth. Her early education was given at home. In 1893 she joined an art studio in Paris where she studied for several years. Besides being an accomplished painter (some of her works were exhibited at the Paris Salon), the Mother was a talented musician and writer.

Concerning her early spiritual life, the Mother has said: "Between 11 and 13 a series of psychic and spiritual experiences revealed to me not only the existence of God but man's possibility of uniting with Him, of realising Him integrally in consciousness and action, of manifesting Him upon earth in a life divine." Around 1905 the Mother journeyed to Tlemçen, Algeria, where she studied occultism for two years with a Polish or Russian adept, Max Theon, and his wife. Returning to Paris in 1906, she started her first group of spiritual seekers. Between 1911 and 1913 she gave many talks to various groups in Paris.

At the age of thirty-six the Mother came to Pondicherry. Here, on 29 March 1914, she met Sri Aurobindo. At once she recognised him as the master who for many years had inwardly been guiding her spiritual development. After staying in India for eleven months, she was obliged to return to France because of the First World War. She left France after about a year, and lived for almost four years in Japan. On 24 April 1920 the Mother returned to Pondicherry and resumed her collaboration with Sri Aurobindo. She remained in India for the rest of her life.

At the time the Mother rejoined Sri Aurobindo, a small group of disciples had gathered around him. After her coming the number of disciples increased. Eventually this informal grouping took shape as an ashram or spiritual community.

From its very beginning in November 1926, Sri Aurobindo entrusted the full material and spiritual charge of the Sri Aurobindo Ashram to the Mother. Under her guidance, which extended over nearly fifty years, the Ashram has grown into a many-faceted community which at present consists of about 1500 persons. The Mother also founded the Sri Aurobindo International Centre of Education in 1951 and the international township Auroville in 1968. On 17 November 1973, at the age of ninety-five the Mother left her body.

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