The following passages are excerpted from the book ‘Flowers and their Messages’ by The Mother (Mirra Alfassa) :
Sweet Mother , how do you give a significance to a flower?
By entering into contact with it and giving a more or less precise meaning to what I feel…… by entering into contact with the nature of the flower, its inner truth; then one knows what it represents.
Each flower has its special significance, hasn’t it?
Not as we understand it mentally. There is a mental projection when one gives a precise meaning to a flower. It may answer, vibrate to the touch of this projection, accept the meaning, but a flower has no equivalent of the mental consciousness. In the vegetable kingdom there is a beginning of the psychic, but there is no beginning of the mental consciousness. In animals it is different; mental life begins to form and for them things have a meaning. But in flowers it is rather like the movement of a little baby – it is neither a sensation nor a feeling, but something of both; it is a spontaneous movement, a very special vibration. So, if one is in contact with it, if one feels it, one gets an impression which may be translated by a thought. That is how I have given a meaning to flowers and plants – there is a kind of identification with the vibration, a perception of the quality it represents and, little by little, through a kind of approximation (sometimes this comes suddenly, occasionally it takes time), there is a coming together of these vibrations(which are of a vital-emotional order) and the vibration of the mental thought, and if there is a sufficient harmony, one has a direct perception of what the plant may signify. In some countries (particularly here) certain plants are used as the media for worship, offering, devotion. Certain plants are given on special occasions. And I have often seen that this identification was quite in keeping with the nature of the plant, because spontaneously, without knowing anything, I happened to give the same meaning as that given in religious ceremonies. The vibration was really there in the flower itself…. Did it come from the use that had been made of it or did it come from very far, from somewhere deep down. From a beginning of the psychic life? It would be difficult to say.
The Fragrance of Flowers
The fragrance of flowers is Physical Nature’s offering to the Divine, her most subtle offering.
It’s largely the fragrances that have made me give flowers their significance………… I find these studies quite interesting; it corresponds to something really true in Nature.
Once, without telling me anything, someone brought me a sprig of Tulsi (Ocimum sanctum). I smelled it and said “Oh, Devotion!” It was absolutely a ……… a vibration of devotion. Afterwards, I was told it is the plant of devotion to Krishna, consecrated to Krishna.
Another time, I was brought one of those big flowers (which are not realy flowers) somewhat resembling corn, with long, very strongly scented stalks (Spiritual Perfume). I smelled it and said Ascetic Purity!……….. just like that, from the odour alone. I was later told it was Shiva’s flower when he was doing his tapasya.
These people have an age-old knowledge which they have preserved. In other words, it is something concretely true; it doesn’t depend at all on the mind, on thought, or even on feelings – it is a vibration……….
Yes, this flower is Shiva, doing his Tapasya.
And interestingly enough, its smell is fantastically attractive to snakes; it makes them come from far away to nest in the shrubs. And, as you know, the Serpent is the power of evolution, it is Shiva’s own creature; he always puts them on his head and around his neck because they symbolise the power of evolution and transformation. And snakes like this flower; it often grows near rivers, and wherever there is a cluster of the plants, you are sure to discover snake nests.
I find this very interesting, for we didn’t decide that it should be like this: these are conscious vibrations in Nature. The fragrance, the color, the shape, are simply the spontaneous expression of a true movement.
Is there a relation between the perfume of a flower and its significance?
Certainly there should be one, but so far I have not studied it.
Scientists explain that flowers have perfume in order to attract insects. What do you think about that?
It is men who see and find a reason for everything – but I doubt if the Supreme has any such preoccupation.
Terminology of Sri Aurobindo and the Mother
Mental: the part of the being which has to do with thinking and intelligence.
Vital: the life-nature of the being, made up of life-energy, sensations, instincts, impulses, feelings and desires.
Psychic Being: the individual soul; when the soul-principle, s spark of the Divine which is present in all life and matter, begins to develop an individuality in the course of evolution, that psychic inviduality is called the psychic being.
Integral: all parts of the being.
Supramental: The Truth Consciousness , the highest Divine consciousness and force operative in the universe. A principle of consciousness superior to mentality.