Author: Amal Kiran

Amal Kiran

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February 21, The Mother’s Birthday

A Look Behind and Ahead On one 21st of February in the last 1950’s, I repeated to the Mother the usual English formula for a birthday: “Many happy returns.” Immediately, half-jocular, half-serious, she exclaimed: “What! You want me to return again and to the earth still further? Haven’t I had enough of being born so far?” I was taken quite unawares by such a response. I mumbled something like: “No, Mother, I don’t at all wish you a rebirth. I have only used the customary words meaning that you should enjoy numerous future birthdays in this very life.” She answered: “That’s all right.” But her response set me thinking. My first thought was of her own statement made a little earlier in that decade: “Since the beginning of the earth, wherever and whenever there was the possibility of manifesting a ray of consciousness, I was there.”  Then it struck me that though the work done each time had been glorious, the labour must have been heavy and that the need to carry on this illuminating toil from age to age must have taxed the human embodiments for it grievously. The Mother must have passed through her frequent births with a graceful heroism but there could be no denying the fact that for the sake of the world’s uplift she repeatedly: Assaults of Hell endured and Titan strokesAnd bore the fierce inner wounds that are slow to heal. In the wake of this second thought followed the sense that the Mother was carrying even in her present embodiment a tremendous burden whose recurrence she did not want in another incarnation – a burden she wished to dispose of by a supreme victory. The victory was, of course, for the earth’s good. Like Sri Aurobindo who once said that the mighty task he had undertaken was not for himself since he did not require either liberation or supramentalisation, the Mother as the Avatar of the Highest Divinity had nothing to accomplish for her own sake: she had shouldered the luminous load of the Integral Yoga in order to lighten humanity’s evolutionary travail. But the load was immense and such as nobody else could endure and it had become greater after the passing of Sri Aurobindo: now the concentration of the Supermind’s transformative pressure was wholly on the Mother’s body. Sri Aurobindo has well summed up the Avatar’s situation: “It is only divine Love which can bear the burden I have to bear, that all have to bear who have sacrificed everything else to the one aim of uplifting earth out of its darkness towards the Divine. The Gallic-like ‘Je m’en fiche’-ism (‘I do not care’) would not carry me one step; it would certainly not be divine. It is quite another thing that enables me to walk unweeping and unlamenting towards the goal.” (April 1934). Obviously, if her remark to me was to be fully understood, the Mother desired the Divine Love, which was sustaining her, to fulfil its aim of supramental descent and transformation in this very birth of hers: she had no inclination to write “To be continued” to the story of her present life. What is more, she did not think in terms even of her disciples being reborn for success. Not only to me did she say at one time: “When I speak of total realisation for any of you, I mean in this very life.” Her vision is expressed to others also when Sri Aurobindo wrote to a sadhak on 15 January 1934: “The Mother has never spoken of anything to be done in the next birth…. Naturally the vital has to be transformed if one is to succeed.” Yes, it was as she told me on one occasion: “Death is not in our programme.” The Mother’s birthday was meant to repeat year after year, with her work moving from strength to strength. In 1953 she expressed in general terms her vision as well as her will: “The transformation of the material body has not been done nor even attempted perhaps in the past. It can be done only if life is sufficiently prolonged; you do not leave the body unless you will it so and thus have the necessary time at your disposal to bring about this change. Sri Aurobindo once said – and he said it without the least hesitation, that it would take about three hundred years to do it; I can add, from the time when the last stage of union with the Divine is reached…. “To prepare such a body, three hundred years is nothing; even a thousand years will not be too much. Naturally, I am speaking of the same body. If you change your body in between, it will no longer be the same body. At 50, the body already begins to wear out. But, on the contrary, if you have a body that goes on perfecting itself, if each passing year represents a step in progress, then you can continue indefinitely….” After the Supramental Manifestation on 29 February 1956 in the subtle-physical layer of the earth, her hopes took a still more concrete shape. No doubt, she did not envisage a quick change in general world-conditions and said on 5 September of the same year: “Before the effects of the supramental manifestation become visible and tangible, perceptible to the whole world, thousands of years have perhaps to pass.” However, she had a shorter view for the small world of sadhaks around her. On 10 October 1956 she declared: what Sri Aurobindo has promised and what evidently interests us who are here now is that the time has come when some chosen beings out of the present-day humanity who fulfil the conditions of the necessary spiritualisation would be capable of transforming their body with the help of the Supramental Force, the Supramental Consciousness and the Supramental Light and would no longer be animal men but become supermen. This promise he based on the knowledge he had that the Supramental Force was about to break upon earth. In point of fact, the supramental Force had come down into him long ago.” The meaning of the last statement about Sri Aurobindo is evidently, as she explained to Monsieur Roger Anger one day and later to me on 25 November 1970, that Sri Aurobindo’s embodied being had experienced the Supermind’s descent but that the Supramental Force had not entered sufficiently and permanently his physical substance so as to start supramentalising it. She told Roger that because the physical supramentalisation had not been there Sri Aurobindo’s body could undergo death. To me she said: “Clearly, Sri Aurobindo did not have the supramental body, and neither do I have it. But that does not mean that the Supermind was not in his body. The two things are quite different. One can have the Supermind in the body without the body being supramentalised.” What applied to Sri Aurobindo in the past applied with some difference to the Mother in 1970. The Supermind had not only been in her body for a long time: the process of preparing the physical supramentalisation had also advanced further in her instance. Still, the exteriorising phenomenon was absent. The Mother never made claims for her own person. She did not say that her Yoga had perfected her body in the external sense of the word. Her body possessed certain qualities marking it out, it could transmit the inner divinity by a subtle ambience which all sensitive disciples and sometimes even sheer outsiders felt. It had also an unusual stamina: up to her eighty-second year she could play tennis every afternoon for about an hour. But purely material shortcomings she never concealed and latterly there was an avowed drop in the health of particular organs or parts. However, on 25 November 1970, there was no impression on me that she had given up the goal of supramental transformation. After she had asked me how old I was and I had replied “Sixty-three years complete” and then added: “Mother, I want to hang on till I see your Victory”, she at first looked a bit surprised at the tall order, but in a second she laughed and said, “Bien.” This signified that the Victory – that is, total physical transformation – was accepted as possible, if not certain, for her body in the long run. Over a year and a half earlier – to be precise, on 15 February 1969 – she had expressed, for the first time as far as I know, something less than certainty about the upshot of her lengthy spiritual endeavour. She said:  “…the work is becoming more and more ‘exacting’. But I feel (that is to say the body feels very well) that it is part of a training. It looks like that: it must hold on, the body: or otherwise, so much the worse. It will be for another time.” Here the closing phrase conceives the possibility of giving up the body and getting reborn: a passing through the experience of death is not ruled out. Yet the insistence is upon holding on and facing the test, the hard discipline of enduring the more and more difficult conditions under which the body lived in its attempt to assimilate the Supramental Force, Consciousness and Light directly into its cells. The next occasion on which we hear of something less than certainty is, paradoxically, in the very talk of 24 March 1972 telling us her inner experience of “a body altogether new”, a subtle perfection of shape – “sexless … very white…very slim… pretty… truly a harmonious form”. She exclaims: “If that were to materialise…” Apparently, all was ready on the subtle-physical plane to precipitate itself in the gross; but the mode of precipitation, the technique for materialising the new body, was unknown. Feeling acutely the disparity between the waiting future perfection, so close yet so far, and the aspiring actuality, the Mother turned from the prospect of that glory, pointed to her partly handicapped frame and cried out: “Is that going to change? It must change or it has to follow the old ordinary process of undoing itself and remaking itself.” The possibility of having to follow this process became an actuality on 17 November 1973. But this is a way of speaking from the ordinary outer point of view. The Avatar of the Supermind cannot be said to be compelled to any course by a necessity of Nature. Whatever course is adopted is freely accepted: the Supramental Consciousness belongs to the Transcendence and is above all cosmic conditions even when it elects to work under them. What determines its future is its own transcendent Knowledge and Will. A moment must have come of such Knowledge and Will in the first week of December 1950 to Sri Aurobindo; and the instrumental being, put in front for world-action, obeyed. A period of crisis must have preceded this moment. We can discern it distinctly in a letter of May 1949 in which Sri Aurobindo writes that “things are getting too serious” for him “to waste time” on “inconclusive intellectualities”: he did not care for any distraction from his Yogic work.  We see a similar crisis in the Mother’s sadhana. In 1972 she said: “It is becoming terrible. It is like a pressure, a frightful pressure to bring about the desired progress; I feel it in myself for my body. But my body is not afraid, it says: ‘Very well, if I am to end, it is the end.’ Every minute it is like that: the true thing or the end. The body knows that this is the way for the supramental body to be formed. It must be wholly under the influence of the Divine…” The formation of the supramental body: there is no mistaking the goal envisioned and sought. What was held in some doubt a few years earlier was simply whether the goal would be reached. In 1969 we get a glimpse of the sensitive situation. She states about her body’s future: “( … as if the world put the question) – Will it continue or will it get dissolved? .. But the body knows that it has been decided, and that it is not to be told to the body. It accepts, it is not impatient, it accepts, it says, ‘It is all right, it is as Thou wilt’….” Obviously, a little before 17 November 1973, the body must have been told the final decision of the Divine, the Mother’s own highest transcendent self – a decision guided by the two factors which, according to Sri Aurobindo, alone matter in the Avatar’s life and alone mould it: the Truth above which has to be manifested and the need of the world-play below. As a result, there was on 17 November a clear phase of great distress in the body, a marked painful difficulty for quite a time in breathing, the usual accompaniment of a severe heart-attack. Every sign showed that she was letting the body suffer the final stage of the prolonged disorder she had undergone with the unobstructed entry of the immense Supermind-power into a representative body for the first time in all history. When the end came, the doctor who had been summoned gave a closed-chest heart-massage but to no avail. Once the definite departure from the body had been ascertained, the vehicle that had striven and suffered and achieved even more than Sri Aurobindo had done twenty three years before was made ready to lie in state for the last darshan by those who had loved it. Not for long could it be kept. The Mother would seem to have got the utmost service out of it and willed that it should soon be put into the same Samadhi-vault which held the physical remains of the Master. Shortly after the body had been brought down from the Mother’s room, rapid and extensive deterioration was observed. On 1 February 1969, in a series of questions and answers on death, when she had been asked: “How can one tell for certain that the physical body is dead?” her reply was: ·”Only when it decomposes.” Now no doubt could remain as to what she had allowed to happen. This does not mean that the goal she had originally set up was anything else than physical supramentalisation. Up to almost the end she worked for it, just as Sri Aurobindo had done up to the eve of 5 December 1950. But even as he changed his course, so too did she – both of them for their own occult purposes. Let us repeat that the Supramental Avatar, the Incarnation from the Transcendence, is not forced by any cosmic law: an utter freedom goes hand in hand with the play of its action. The Mother has hinted at this freedom several times. On 26 December, three weeks after Sri Aurobindo had passed away, she declared: “Our Lord has sacrificed himself totally for us. He was not compelled to leave his body, he chose to do so for reasons so sublime that they are beyond the reach of human mentality.” On 2 April 1972 she said about herself: “The body has some difficulty, so I can’t be active, alas. It is not because I am old – I am not old. I am younger than most of you. If I am here inactive, it is because the body has given itself definitively to prepare the transformation.” In the same talk she added: “If you believe that I am here because I am bound – it is not true. I am not bound…” On 30 August the same year we see again the supramental instrument and the Supramental Transcendent in their free relationship. “Very often, very often,” she disclosed; “I ask the Lord: How can I help now that I can no more see clearly nor speak clearly? It is a state… the body does not feel the decline! It is convinced that if tomorrow the Lord wanted it to take up again its activities, it would be able to do so. The strength is there (the Mother touches her arms, her muscles), at times a mighty strength!… Why?.. The condition is willed so that … I might be left quiet.” With her acceptance of an exit from the body, we hark back to the subject of 21 February, the day of the Mother’s birth. And for this day the central question is: “When will she be reborn?” She has unequivocally announced that Sri Aurobindo will not be born in the human manner again: his return will be in the first supramental body built in the supramental way – through the extraordinary power the human body’s attainment of supramentalisation will win to bring about the entry of higher beings without the ordinary process of sex. About her own future, the Mother has not denied “another time” and a self-undoing and self-remaking as in the common run of human generation. 21 February is especially an occasion of spiritual spellbinding for me. My first darshan of the Mother side by side with Sri Aurobindo was on this date in 1928 when she was exactly at her half-century. And my last well-remembered darshan of her was also on 21 February in 1973. The April darshan is vague in my mind and on 2 May I left for Bombay for a cataract operation. Owing to unavoidable circumstances the operation was long delayed. I had to miss the darshan of 15 August when the Mother was seen as an embodied divinity for the last time by the Ashramites. I returned to the Ashram on hearing in the early morning of 18 November that she had renounced her embodiment. On the preceding night she had appeared to me in a vivid dream, with a bunch of red roses which she has told me to put on my head. Last year, on her birth-centenary, there was a very strong experience of her coming extremely close to our physical space-time, as if she were on the verge of taking up a body once more. If on every birthday of hers we could feel with increasing strength her proximity to the earth-scene, one day in the near future the thin veil will be rent and her supreme sweetness and power, instead of guiding us invisibly, will stand again intimate to our seeking gaze and eager touch.   From Amal Kiran’s Book, Our Light and Delight With deep gratitude to Amal Kiran, aka K.D. Sethna, of Sri Aurobindo Ashram, Pondicherry
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A Pathway towards Immortality
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A Pathway towards Immortality

November 24, 1926, was the day on which Sri Aurobindo went into seclusion for concentrated Yogic work towards the creation of a new humanity. In the forefront he put, as guru and guide to his disciples, one whom he regarded as the spiritual Mother of the greater world that was to be. On this day, when the Mother’s genius of spiritual organisation took up the group of souls dedicated to the Aurobindonian ideal, the Ashram was conceived and set growing to be the nucleus-light of the divine Consciousness into which mankind was intended to be reborn. In the years that followed, this day was one of those few on which Sri Aurobindo, seated side by side with the Mother, used to give darśan to the hundreds who gathered in Pondicherry to pay them homage.  But since 1950 the Mother alone has been visible on this day as on others like it. For, Sri Aurobindo who had retired for twenty-four years from common outer contact with the world chose to retire still further and, on December 5, 1950, withdrew from even his body. Then followed those five days of magnificent mystery when he lay in state, with not a sign of decomposition, and men and women in their thousands filed past that picture of imperial repose which was yet to the deep-seeing soul the dynamo of a divine energy let loose on the earth. Also, to the deep-seeing soul, on every darśan day after the great withdrawal the Mother has never sat alone: Sri Aurobindo, conscious and alive though not in the corporeal sheath, has been there, unmistakably felt in the double intensity of spiritual light that the Mother’s bodily presence has manifested in Sri Aurobindo’s physical absence. It is as if the wonderful work that was his could be, after a certain point of progress, best done by packing the whole force of it into one form instead of two. Two can indeed be glorious company for revealing what the Upanishads have called “the Light by whose shining all this shineth”, but sometimes a solitude of one can be a more potent focus for setting aflame what the Vedas have termed “the darkness which is enwrapped within darkness”.  To get a glimmering of what happened on November 24 in 1926 and what lies behind the Mother’s apparent solitariness on the same date after 1950 and what Sri Aurobindo brought about on December 5 in that year, we must understand this Vedic phrase. While the Rishis saw an absolute and perfect Spirit that is all and more than all, a transcendent and a universal Godhead, at once personal and impersonal, while they saw also within all a divine dweller ever developing forms higher and higher, they did not fail to see that this development (which we now recognize as evolution) is often a most paradoxical story because the transcendent and universal and immanent Godhead has worked out the dynamics of our cosmos from a first foundation of gigantic unconsciousness, a vast welter of blind brute energy. Hidden in the energy are all omniscience and omnipotence, but the secret divinity is formidably locked and breaks out by a most difficult process. Hence the rise of life and mind in a context of enormous randomness and devious waste, as though it were an emergence through layer on obstructive layer, through labyrinth on misleading labyrinth of gloom.  Yes, the Rishis recognized the immense obstruction at the roots of life and mind. They recognized too the necessity not only of ascending to the domains of knowledge and bliss beyond earth but also of disclosing in its full splendor the Sun, as they put it, lost in the Cave of Night. To bring about that disclosure, the cave-walls must be demolished. But how were the ancient barriers to be broken down? The question seems to have met with no positive answer. Hence the later Indian masters of Yoga read, in that irreducible opposition which introduced some ever-resistant element of the undivine into all our parts of nature, an enigmatic māyā which, being unconquerable, has to be evaded by a world-exceeding absorption of the inner being into an infinity that has no form, an eternity that has no movement. Even the less intransigent masters felt that ultimately the world was the field of a play, līlā, without a denouement, a play which could be inwardly ecstatic to a God-lover but never completely resolvable in its outward terms to God’s freedom and light and beatitude and immortality.  Sri Aurobindo harks back to the Vedic endeavour. Not only the Godhead above, around and within but also the Godhead below is the object of his Yoga. Unless the Godhead below is compassed and set free completely in the forms of evolution, there can be no overcoming of those resistant elements that have made mysticism a magnificent failure, the grandest human achievement that yet could not bring heaven to earth. Of course nothing else than mysticism can hope to build a perfect life fulfilling man to the innermost and the outermost. However, mysticism must open its eyes to the darkness enwrapped within darkness and find some means of irradiating it.  If the old spirituality fell short, it was because the means remained undiscovered. Sri Aurobindo’s teaching is that there must be in the infinite Divine the power that put forth the formula of a huge involution as the starting-point of an endless evolution and that in this power must reside the key to the irradiation of the Vedic darkness so that the Godhead may stand manifest in the very atoms of matter, secure in them as in its own home since matter would release in its own terms the Supreme Spirit crypted within it. This power he calls Supermind, Truth-Consciousness, Gnosis. To make the Supermind descend into earth-life, to carry it down into the Cave of Night and, by making the “Sun on the head of the Timeless” join the Sun immured below the feet of Time, render possible a perfect existence here and now, an existence no longer open to invasion from the nether glooms nor liable to slip down into their abyss: this is the epic of the Aurobindonian Yoga. Its uniqueness lies, on the one hand, in the full realisation of the hitherto unexplored and undynamised Supermind where the Truth is wide-awake and, on the other, in the full fathoming of the hitherto evaded and untransformed “inconscience” of matter where the Truth is deep-asleep. This uniqueness leads us to look upon Sri Aurobindo as, in the most literal sense, the Scientist of the Spirit — one who in the light of the highest spiritual Knowledge grapples with the plane of matter, the basic sphere of Science, and asserts that, until the heart of matter’s mystery is spiritually entered and possessed, the Life Divine can never become for embodied souls an assured reality, an established and consolidated evolution. For evolution means not just the emergence of the higher from the lower: it means also the transformation of the lower by the higher, the integration of it into a richer value. To evolve is to climb to the top of the scale and then turn back to the bottom in order to master it with the peak’s puissance.  But the significance of mastery must be properly grasped. There is the old word siddhi doing duty for it in spiritual parlance. It is not sufficient, as ordinarily interpreted. For, it suggests a gripping and shaping of recalcitrant substance — the substance itself regarded as alien to the force that grips and shapes. Such siddhi can never have permanence inherent in it nor can it reach down to the very essence. Whatever it does is by way of sustained miracle and constitutes a splendid superimposition: it is not something natural, intrinsic, inevitable. The latter is possible only if the gripped and the shaped is not essentially different from the gripper and the shaper, but is the same being in a phenomenal form put out of the original Perfection for a particular process of self-loss and self-finding. The utter concealment, the absolute involution, comes as the last step of a graded devolution from the Supermind and serves as the first step of a graded evolution due to an expressive push upward from below by the hidden powers and an evocative pressure downward upon them and a progressive entry into them by the same powers — life, mind, Supermind — which have their planes above. What Sri Aurobindo, therefore, means by mastery of the black nadir of existence by the golden zenith is nothing super- imposed by a miraculous seizure: it is the Supreme coming into His own and fulfilling in evolutionary Time a figure of the perfect that He is in His Truth-Consciousness, His plane of creative archetypes which joins the eternal to the temporal. That is why Sri Aurobindo has said that the supramental manifestation is in the very logic of earthly things and is the final sense of the developing terrestrial nature. As such it will be intrinsically sustained, permanent — matter itself crystallising as Spirit.  However, the luminous crystallisation cannot take place without unprecedented labour on the part of those whose mission it is to turn the potentiality of it into actuality. The promise that the potential would be the actual as a result of his Yoga is the significance of November 24, 1926, when the towering ascent that Sri Aurobindo had accomplished was matched by the crossing of a critical point of descent. This day was the culmination of year on long year of travel along uncharted ways of the inner life — travel far beyond the goals of Nirvana, Moksha, Cosmic Consciousness, Krishna-realisation, union with the World-Creatrix which were reached before he withdrew from the political field of British India to Pondicherry in 1910. It is known as the Day of Victory because it marked a decisive turn pregnant with the divinisation of material existence. But between the casting of the seed and the advent of flower and fruit there must again be a mighty passage through the unknown. And here the unknown was the penetration more and more of the Vedic darkness with the supramental Gnosis. All the old Yogas move out of the gloom of mortal ignorance into the Immortal’s light. The Aurobindonian discipline alone wants the illumined soul not to pause there but to adventure into a gloom of which mortal ignorance is only an attenuated form — the abyss from which evolving life and mind have sprung and which must be conquered if life and mind are to be completely divinised, for, unless matter is also divinised, the embodied deity will always have feet that are fragile. The promise of Victory could grow a realised Triumph only by Sri Aurobindo’s becoming at the same time a Pilgrim of Day and a Pilgrim of Night.  The pilgrimage through occult regions of consciousness totally involved within matter is the stupendous sacrifice Sri Aurobindo was giving for decade on decade from the time the Victory had been promised, bearing – as a line of Savitri phrases it — “the fierce inner wounds that are slow to heal.” Nothing save Divine Love in the supreme degree could support him in such a journey — Divine Love that throws itself out infinitely to lead the evolving world, sparing itself no struggle however dangerous, no self-immolation however exorbitant. A body that housed the illimitable power of the Supermind and could become permeated with the Light beyond this universe of death took upon itself not the mere task of an extraordinary individual transformation but the giant labour of being representative of all bodily life and hence accepting a universal responsibility so that the hope of an entire transformed mankind might result from its achievement. In a Yoga thus representative and responsible the greatest apparent advantages, the most striking personal benefits can be thrown away in a dire strategy of losing the immediate all to gain the ultimate all for the race.  Understanding this, we have to view the events that occurred in the first week of December in 1950 — the attack by a fearful malady, uraemia, symbolic of the “inconscience” of the depths surging to drown the heights, the acceptance of it in spite of the Supermind’s inherent ability to ward off all disease, the day-to-day aggravation on the one hand and on the other the response of the descending Supermind to the sacrifice being given by a leader of the evolution for the whole earth’s sake, the deadly suffusion of the leader’s body with the uprising poison and yet the lack of the least trace of discolouration and decay for over 111 hours in the tropical climate, the spectacle at once of death and of its transcendence, as though to proclaim in a convincing parable that through the aspect of defeat a triumph was being worked out in the future that lay with Sri Aurobindo behind the visible scene and, here before us, with his companion in the creation of a super-humanity: the Mother.  We await the flaming up of that future from the tenebrous fuel offered to the imperishable Splendour by the strategic sacrifice of Sri Aurobindo. What marvels the flaming will lay bare none can fully gauge. But, if the words of one who incarnated the Truth-Consciousness can be believed, the flaming is certain, arid the Mother’s eyes are a mirror of the things to be. They bear ever brighter witness to the prophetic close of that poignantly profound sonnet written by the Master of the Supermind’s everlasting Day:  I made an assignation with the Night; In the abyss was fixed our rendezvous: In my breast carrying God’s deathless light I came her dark and dangerous heart to woo.I left the glory of the illumined Mind And the calm rapture of the divinised soul And travelled through a vastness dim and blind To the grey shore where her ignorant watersroll.I walk by the chill wave through the dull slime And still that weary journeying knows no end; Lost is the lustrous godhead beyond Time, There comes no voice of the celestial Friend,And yet I know my footprints’ track shall be A pathway towards Immortality.   With deep gratitude to Amal Kiran, aka K.D. Sethna, of Sri Aurobindo Ashram, Pondicherry 
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The Passing of Sri Aurobindo
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The Passing of Sri Aurobindo

5th December marks the day Sri Aurobindo, the Maharishi of Sanatan Dharma and the Guru of Integral Yoga, left his body in a supreme act of Yogic sacrifice. While it may take many years for the inner significance of his passing to be understood by most of us, we may catch a few glimpses of that profound truth even now. We reprint here an article written by Amal Kiran, also known as K.D. Sethna, in January 1951 in the journal ‘Mother India’ published by the Sri Aurobindo Ashram, Pondicherry. The Mother herself liked the article and got it reprinted as a booklet which was then distributed to all members of the Ashram. (Ed) “No one can write about my life because it is not on the surface for men to see” – this is what Sri Aurobindo said when the idea of a definitive biography was mooted. There is no doubt that, except perhaps for his brilliant academic career in England and the early phases of his fiery political period in India, his life was too deeply inward for its utmost sense and motive and achievement to be unravelled by a narration of external events supplemented by a psychological commentary. To arrive at some vision of it one would have to catch an inkling of not only the vast mysteries of traditional spiritual realisation but also the dazzling immensities of the new earth-transforming light which he called the Supermind and which he endeavoured for forty years to bring down in toto for suffering humanity. As with his life, so too with the phenomenon which the world has reported to be his death. Sri Aurobindo’s “dying” cannot but be as inward, as profound as Sri Aurobindo’s living. No Yogi dies in the ordinary meaning of the word: his consciousness always exceeds the formula of the physical body, he is beyond and greater than his material sheath even while he inhabits it, and his action on mankind is essentially through his free and ample spirit to which both life and death are small masks of a fully aware immortality in the limitless being of the Divine and the Eternal. All the more inapplicable is the term “death” to the passing of a Master of Yoga like Sri Aurobindo. For, it is well known that the transformative power of the Supermind was at work in the very cells of his body and that it commanded an efficacy physical no less than psychological, to which hundreds of his disciples can testify because of the wonderful curative impact of it on their own ailments. This efficacy was not confined to his Ashram: telegraphic offices all over India will bear witness to the daily flashing of appeals for help in various illnesses – including those that often defeat medical science – and then messages of thanksgiving for relief and remedy by spiritual means. No, Sri Aurobindo, the Yogi of the Supermind, descending into the outer as well as the inner being and bringing a divine life on earth in addition to the infinite immortality of the Beyond, cannot be looked upon as passing away on account of old age and physical causes. Whatever the purely clinical picture, it must have behind it a significance integral with his highly significant and immeasurably more-than-physical life of spiritual attainment. That there should be a clinical picture instead of a miraculous vanishing trick is exactly in keeping with Sri Aurobindo’s Yoga. His Yoga was meant to be a process and a progression of the evolutionary method: it aimed not at a bewildering superimposition of divine qualities which still left the grain of human nature unchanged, but at a spiritually organic luminous growth, an assimilation by nature of supernature, a marvellous and yet no freakish transfiguration, an intense working out within a life-time of what is not foreign to the purpose of terrestrial evolution but its inmost meaning whose unfoldment is in the very logic of things, though that unfoldment may ordinarily take aeons. The evolutionary was always fused with the revolutionary in Sri Aurobindo’s Yoga of the Supermind and, just as his life’s audacities, like those of his art of poetry and prose, were always felicitous, full of ease and aptness, gloriously adapting nature rather than violating it, so too the adventure of his death would be no utter supernormality but carry for all its profound import and exceptional mode some semblance of the common passage to the stillness and the shadow. What medical science would try to describe as physical causes are, therefore, far indeed from being any contradiction of the thesis that Sri Aurobindo did not pass away as a result of them. And this thesis, we may now add, is based not only on Sri Aurobindo’s special spiritual status but also on a number of remarkable physical facts. Doctors have declared, on the strength of typical non-response to stimuli, that he entered into deep coma in consequence of an extreme uraemic condition following upon a failure of all treatment. As every medical tyro knows, such a state of uraemic coma admits of no return to consciousness. Yet to the surprise of the doctors attending on him, Sri Aurobindo opened his eyes at frequent intervals and asked for a drink or inquired what the time was! This repeated occurrence of the scientifically impossible leads one to believe that the deep uraemic coma was intermixed, as it were, with a very conscious Yogic self-withdrawal from an instrument which was too damaged to be kept for common use but which yet could not quite bar the uncommon will of its master. Here was no brain of mere carbon and iron and phosphorus: here was the subtilised servitor of a mind that had sat on the peaks of God and from there could command response in the midst of all material determinism. Even half an hour before the breathing ceased and the heart stopped beating, Sri Aurobindo looked out from his calm com­passionate eyes, spoke the name of the doctor by his side and drank some water. This was the strangest uraemic coma in medical history. Nor did the extraordinary character of the passing of this Yogi of Yogis end there. In a case certified to be one of complete pervasion of the system by the accumulation in the blood of body poisons which should be thrown off by the kidneys, the system gets discoloured in a short time, a blackening grows apace and then decomposition sets in. But when there was a consultation of doctors, both French and Indian, two and a half days after the death-certificate had been signed, Sri Aurobindo’s body was found to have retained the beautiful white-gold colour that had distinguished it during his life and there was not the slightest trace of decomposition. It was just as it had been at the moment of his passing – 1.26 a. m. on December 5 – and also just as it had been 41 hours later when instead of the scheduled burial the famous announcement was made by the Mother, indefinitely postponing it: “The funeral of Sri Aurobindo has not taken place today. His body is charged with such a concentration of supramental light that there is no sign of decomposition and the body will be kept lying on his bed so long as it remains intact.” It lay intact for several days in a grandeur of victorious quiet, with thousands upon thousands having darshan of it. Only at 5 p. m. on December 9, in a rosewood case lined with silver and satin, it was buried most simply and without any sectarian religious ceremony in a vault specially prepared in the centre of the Ashram courtyard. Even when the body was put into the case, there was neither actual decay nor the odour of death, though marks were present to indicate that the miraculous preservative light had begun to depart. The light may be said to have remained in full for over 90 hours – a period more than double the record time which Lyons’ Medical Jurisprudence gives of a body keeping undecayed in the climatic conditions of the East. When during the transition to life’s close and even after, in the very thick of death, a challenging lordship is manifested over Matter and the transformative power of the Supermind that was ever increasingly Sri Aurobindo’s is not denied but paradoxically proved, it is, to say the least, reasonable to see the whole event of his passing as the culmination of a momentous deliberate fight whose implications must be read only by understanding a little the supramental light. But here the question arises: If the fight was deliberate, did he give any signs of its forthcoming? The answer is: Yes. It is indeed true that, though the great illuminating letters to his disciples had not quite ceased nor the fine humour forgotten altogether its leap and flash, nor yet the wide look on the world’s move­ment turned away, he had been for the last couple of years rather reticent about his plans for the future and more and more absorbed in his own inner spiritual work and in literary creation, especially his epic poem Savitri: a Legend and a Symbol. But through the reticence and the absorption a few hints did glimmer out of a strange and dire possibility he might have to confront in the course of his mission. Some time in November the predictions of a Gujarati astrologer were read out to him. Their focal points were the years 1950 and 1964. The astrologer wrote: “In 1950, as the sun and the moon are in conjunction and the moon is the master of the twelfth house, there is a chance of Sri Aurobindo’s self-undoing.” About 1964 he opined: “In that year some mighty miracle of Sri Aurobindo’s power will be witnessed. Aged 93, he will withdraw from the world at his own will after completing his mission.”  On hearing this, Sri Aurobindo raised his hand and half jocularly said: “Oh, ninety-three!” as if he had found that age too far away for his mission’s achievement. With regard to 1950 a disciple remarked that it must be a year of importance, since important things had happened in Sri Aurobindo’s life at intervals of 12 years. 1926 was an outstanding landmark in Sri Aurobindo’s spiritual career: it is called the year of assurance of victory and marks practically the beginning of the Ashram with the Mother radiantly presiding over it. In 1938 -12 years after that landmark- Sri Aurobindo passed through a physical crisis by falling and fracturing his thigh-bone. 1950 – with its indication of a possibility of “self-undoing” – makes again a 12 years’ lapse. And, though the astrologer took only his forecast of a memorable ninety-third year in Sri Aurobindo’s life very seriously, Sri Aurobindo seemed to regard his statements as not quite fantastic. He said: “The man has got hold of some truth.” Then he was asked: “Isn’t the prediction about your ‘self-undoing’ this year nonsensical? Surely, you are not going to leave us?” In his grand unhurrying way came the calm counter-query of just one mysterious word: “Why?” A most surprising word, this, to all who had expected that an unusual longevity as a result of the Supermind’s increasing descent was part of Sri Aurobindo’s programme. Another surprise was fraught with a strange foreboding joy. To those who looked after him or worked in his room he gave a sign of sudden personal tenderness. Sri Aurobindo was not exactly of a demonstrative nature: he had the subtle kindness as of an all-enveloping ether and though his extreme compassion is evident both in the labour he undertook and in many letters written to his disciples in difficulty, physical expressions of his great paternal attitude were rare. But now for a brief moment there went out to his attendants, ­to each in a different way and on a different occasion­, a distinct outward gesture of affection, as if he had wished them to know before it might be too late his appreciation of their service. The gesture, exceedingly sweet and welcome though it was, appeared to hold vaguely in it the poignancy of a possible leave-taking. A third surprise may be recorded: a remark which fell oddly on the ear of the disciple whose job it was to take down whatever Sri Aurobindo dictated by way of letter or book. The Master had been busy with his Savitri for several years, revising the text he had composed earlier and constantly adding to it, amplifying the significances, enriching the story, extending the symbolism, catching­ more and more intensely the vision of the superhuman planes of existence and consciousness to which he had access, breath­ing with an ever-truer thrill the vast rhythms of the move­ments of the Gods with which he had grown familiar.  Out of some unfathomable silence he would draw out golden phrase and apocalyptic line—wait as if he had eternities to throw away—proceed with splendid bursts of occult imagery and revealing description—hark back to expand or amend, with an eye to the tiniest detail of punctuation or sequence, and again press forward with a comprehensive yet meticulous inspiration.  A lordly, a leisurely labour was Savitri, conceived with something of the antique temperament which rejoiced in massive structures—especially the temperament of the makers of Ramayana and Mahabharata which take all human life and human thought in their spacious scope and blend the workings of the hidden worlds of Gods and Titans and Demons with the activities of earth. A kind of cosmic sweep was Sri Aurobindo’s and he wanted his poem to be a many-sided multi-coloured carving out in word-music of the gigantic secrets of the supramental Yoga. More than fifty thousand lines were thought necessary to house the unique vision and the unparalleled experience. A patience as vast as that vision and that experience characterised always Sri Aurobindo’s dealings with this epic. Even the version on which he was engaged was the eleventh or the twelfth. Time without end appeared to be at his disposal when he sat dictating lines like those about the central figure of the poem: As in a mystic and dynamic danceA priestess of immaculate ecstasiesInspired and ruled from Truth’s revealing vaultMoves in some prophet cavern of the Gods,A heart of silence in the hands of joyInhabited with rich creative beatsA body like a parable of dawnThat seemed a niche for veiled divinityOr golden temple door to things beyond. But all of a sudden a couple of months before the fateful December 5 Sri Aurobindo startled his scribe by saying: “I must finish Savitri soon.” Of course, all this does not fix the very date of his passing nor does it show any desire to depart, but clearly, the grim struggle in which he got involved and which came to a close on that date had loomed already as a likelihood in the near future. And a certain fact about Savitri  fits in here with the aptest symbolism. Though he strove to finish his epic soon, it just fell short of completion. It had been projected in twelve Books, with an epilogue, but while even the epilogue got written -at least as a general first draft- and the Book of Beginnings, the Book of the Traveller of the Worlds, the Book of the Divine Mother, the Book of Birth and Quest, the Book of Life, the Book of Love, the Book of Fate and several other Books are either in print or in manus­cript, the one single Book which does not exist in any form at all -except for a short piece written a long time ago and meant to be revised and included in a much larger whole- is the Book of Death. Most suggestive is this fact, as if that Book could not be composed until the Grim Spectre had been grappled with in actuality and as if Sri Aurobindo had been waiting for some mighty crisis of his own bodily existence before he could launch on this part of his Legend and Symbol. Everything goes to prove that what happened in the small hours of that December day was no purely physical casuality, no fell accident to the seeker of the life divine on earth, but a dreadful gamble freely accepted, an awesome trial undergone for a set purpose, a battle faced in every wounding detail with open eyes and joined with the explicit possibility threatening him of losing in it the most gifted and glorious bodily instrument forged by the manifesting Spirit that is for ever. But the question still stands to be answered: What could be the reason of the perilous experiment? It is doubtful whether any answer expressible by the mere mind can be entirely satisfying. Perhaps none ought to be attempted and we might rest with the conviction that Sri Aurobindo of his own will did what he deemed most neces­sary for the advancement of his work and we might leave it to the Mother -Sri Aurobindo’s partner in that work- to unroll the supreme rationale of the Master’s will in the actual developments of the Integral Yoga in the future. However, the Master himself never completely discouraged the effort of the mind to comprehend the Spirit’s manifold action. Intellectual formulation of direct inner knowledge or else of intuitive seizures of the Unknown was a thing he fostered, and if by some rapport with his own luminous philosophy we could arrive at a mental glimmer of the Aurobindonian Supermind’s intention we should be doing what he himself from beyond our gross senses would perhaps not refuse to sanction. The core of Sri Aurobindo’s philosophy and Yoga is the dynamic Truth-consciousness that is the Supermind. By “Truth-consciousness” is meant that status and force of the Divine which brings out of the Divine’s absolute Transcendence into a perfect manifestation of Self-being and self-becoming the potentialities of the play of the One who is at the same time the Many. This manifestation is a complete harmony in which exist and function the creative truths, the flawless originals, the golden archetypes of all that is in our imperfect cosmos in which the Divine has posited a difficult evolution of matter, life-force and mind -with a soul supporting them- out of a vast Incon­science, a primal darkness set by Him as the nether pole to the transcendent Absolute. Between the two poles and above the evolving earth and below the archetypal Supermind are various occult planes -Subtle Matter, Vitality, Mind, Overmind and, at the back of the first trio, Psyche,- with their beings and movements and there is a complex interaction in the whole system of cosmos on cosmos. All this was known in general to the ancient seers and they saw in man who is the microcosm, a threefold reality concretised into what they termed three sheaths or shariras – the gross outer, the subtle inner, the causal higher. The last is the substance of the Supermind, compacted of its creative light of total knowledge, infinite power, immortal bliss. But the ancients did not realise that the earthly evolution is not meant only to release the being into the Cosmic Self and into ever more deep, ever more high poises of consciousness and into some eternity beyond birth and death but also to bring into earth-terms the dynamic modes of the widths, the depths and the heights and ultimately the supreme perfection of the Truth-plane­ -the karana sharira, the causal body- so that earth-terms themselves may be fulfilled and not merely serve as bright points of departure into the wide and the deep and the high. In short, the ancients lacked a full and organised possession of the Supermind’s purpose and power: the fusion of the supramental light with the inmost soul and the descent of it into mind and life-energy and even the physical body, transforming and divinising them in entirety, are Sri Aurobindo’s special discovery and Yoga. With the supramental descent Sri Aurobindo aimed at creating a new humanity enjoying true self-consummation and living divinely in every field, and it is with this aim that he sought to form an initiating double centre for the new humanity by his own supramentalisation and the Mother’s. Supramentalisation involves, among its final elements, freedom from disease, duration of life at will and a change in the functionings of the body – all, of course, as a material expression of the divine nature emerging in the human and not as an outer aggrandisement of an expanding inner egoism. But to compass these final elements which alone would found with utter security a supramental earth-existence, the Yogi has to tackle at last the bed-rock of the Inconscience, the dark basis of the submerged Divine from which evolution seems to issue. Sri Aurobindo and the Mother, taking upon them­selves as representative pioneers the age-long difficulties of all human nature, have been striking against this bed-rock for the last decade and a half. “No, it is not with the Empyrean that I am busy,” wrote Sri Aurobindo in 1936 to a disciple and added: “I wish it were. It is rather with the opposite end of things; it is in the Abyss that I have to plunge to build a bridge between the two. But that too is necessary for my work and one has to face it.” In the course of this plunge, as layer after layer of the occult Inconscient is torn open and the supramental light sought to be called down into it, various dreadful possibilities rise up and great inner wounds as well as severe bodily tensions have to be endured. But throughout the fight the Master of the Supermind carries the talisman, as it were, that can ward off the fatal blow. Immense, in spite of the sublimest light within his very body, are his trials and yet he has also the capacity to emerge finally the victor and blaze a path of ultimate triumph for the men who follow him. Thus to emerge had been Sri Aurobindo’s plan, so far as the plan can be read through his philosophical writings and his personal letters. Both the plan and the non-egoistic world-wide attitude of an Avatar find voice in a letter of 1935: “I am not doing anything for myself, as I have no personal need of anything, neither of salvation (Moksha) nor supra­mentalisation. If I am seeking after supramentalisation it is because it is a thing that has to be done for the earth­-consciousness and if it is not done in myself, it cannot be done in others.” Yes, Sri Aurobindo, in his published pronouncements, appears to have envisaged the need and therefore the prospect of himself constituting together with the Mother the starting ­point of supramental humanity. But in the same pronouncements he leaves also a small margin for a different denouement. A letter of 1934 speaks in general about the ways of a vessel of God: “The Divinity acts according to the consciousness of the Truth above and the Lila below and It acts according to the need of the Lila, not according to men’s ideas of what It should do or should not do.” A clearer hint of unexpected turns in the Divine’s dealings is contained in a letter of 1935: “Why should the Divine be tied down to succeed in all his operations? What if failure suits him better and serves better the ultimate purpose? What rigid primitive notions are these about the Divine!” This suggests that apparent defeat of the Divine’s grandest goal could even be a concealed victory, a way precisely to reach that goal with greater swiftness by means of a paradoxical strategy. And, all conditions considered, it is truly such a strategy that seems to have been employed by Sri Aurobindo when to the superficial gaze he succumbed to a renal disorder. The whole supramental Yoga was indeed like a great general’s campaign against forces that had never been com­bated before by any spiritual figure. In the teeth of every common experience, every posture of human living down the ages, even every articulate spiritual tradition, this Yoga hoped to change the very foundations of Matter and pro­ceeded into an embattled darkness: only a fearless fighter like Sri Aurobindo, only a genius like him of the Spirit militant could have intuited the mighty secret of the epi­phany in evolution and planned the transformative onslaught on established nature and moved ahead in the frame of mind that is disclosed in yet another letter of 1935: “It is not for personal greatness that I am seeking to bring down the Supermind. I care nothing for greatness or littleness in the human sense…If human reason regards me as a fool for trying to do what Krishna did not try, I do not in the least care. There is no question of X or Y or anybody else in that. It is a question between the Divine and myself – whether it is the Divine Will or not, whether I am sent to bring that down or open the way to its descent or at least make it more possible or not. Let all men jeer at me if they will or all Hell fall upon me if it will for my presumption – I go on till I conquer or perish. This is the spirit in which I seek the Supermind, no hunting for greatness for myself or others.” A splendid heroism of selflessness is here, the vividest picture of a warrior Yogi who would take any risk, if thereby he could press closer to his objective – and though the formula is “I conquer or perish” the frame of mind is one that might easily avail itself of a yet more audacious formula: “I perish to conquer.” To embrace this formula what would be required is simply the sense that, by sacri­ficing in a final grapple with the black powers of the Inconscient a wonderful body tinged with supramental light, those powers would be terribly exhausted and the golden godhead above tremendously pulled towards earth and into this body’s partner in the Yoga of the Supermind. As soon as the momentous sense would dawn, Sri Aurobindo would be ready -supreme general that he was- to alter his entire scheme of battle, relinquish his whole line of previously prepared forts, abandon the old method of advance, change suddenly his well-plotted direction and, instead of attempting to supramentalise his physical existence in every detail, move imperturbably towards some titanic ambush, cast away the very guard given him by the Supermind and go down fighting to win all in secret, while losing all on the surface. Nothing except a colossal strategic sacrifice of this kind in order that the physical transformation of the Mother may be immeasurably hastened and rendered absolutely secure and, through it, a divine life on earth for humanity may get rooted and be set aflower – nothing less can explain the passing of Sri Aurobindo. There would also be implied in the holocaust a world-saving action by the sweet power of which Sri Aurobindo speaks in a letter as far back as 1934: “It is only divine Love which can bear the burden I have to bear, that all have to bear who have sacrificed everything else to the one aim of uplifting earth out of its darkness to the Divine.” We may say that some undreamt­ of catastrophe would have overwhelmed the world if the vast poison had not been drawn away into the body of this one man whose spiritual consciousness, armed with divine Love, had made him a universalised individual incarnating the Transcendent’s Will. And here we may refer again to the fact that the obstacles confronting Sri Aurobindo in his Yoga were not really personal. They were representative of the race and he gladly accepted their retarding perilous load in spite of or perhaps because of his own exceptional gifts and abilities. Apropos a query about some temporary complaint in the Mother’s body many years ago, he wrote: “We have not sought perfection for our own separate sake, but as part of a general change – creating a possibility of perfection for others. That could not have been done without our accepting and facing the difficulties of the realisation and the transformation and overcoming them for ourselves. It has been done to a sufficient degree on the other planes – but not yet on the most material part of the physical plane. Till it is done, the fight there continues… The Mother’s difficulties are not her own; she bears the difficulties of others and those that are inherent in the general action and work for the transformation. If it had been otherwise, it would be a very different matter.” Obviously, then, whatever sacrifice is made by Sri Aurobindo or the Mother cannot be one imposed on them by personal defects. Theirs the unique adhars or vehicles of Yoga which could, if left to themselves, surmount every obstacle. This, in the present context of Sri Aurobindo’s departure, means that death is not anything he was obliged to undergo on account of some jack in himself. It is some stupendous crisis of the evolving earth-consciousness -some rebellious clouding upsurge of the divinely attacked Inconscient- that has been diverted to his own life, concentrated in the mortal risk of the uraemic coma and utilised by the master strategist for an occult advantage to the work he had assumed – the work which was always more important than direct personal consummation. But it would be of the essence of the sacrifice and the strategy, as well as typically Aurobindonian, that a keenly struggling resistance should be there together with the large and tranquil acceptance. That is why we have said that Sri Aurobindo has gone down fighting. Never to acquiesce in any shortcoming of earth-nature was his motto, for he saw the very secret of evolution to be the manifestation in earth-nature of what superficially looks impossible – the quivering forth of vitality and sensation in seemingly lifeless Matter, the glimmering out of mind and reason in apparently instinctive animality, the all-perfecting revelation of Supermind in ostensibly groping intelligence, stumbling life­-force and mortal body. So there never could be for Sri Aurobindo either a surrender to ordinary world-conditions or a flight into peace away from the world. An inviolable timeless peace he had always known ever since those three grand days in Baroda in 1908 when through a complete silencing of the mind the absolute experience of Nirvana, which has been the terminus of so many other Yogas, became his – not as a terminus but only as a base for further con­quests. As for surrender, he could surrender to nothing except the Divine. Consequently, he battled for the Super­mind’s descent till his last breath – calling the immortal Sun of the Spirit down, passionately packing his earthly envelope with the supramental light so much so indeed that he could keep for several days that envelope free from the taint of discolouration and decay. To battle thus in the very moments of the sacrifice was in tune with his whole life-endeavour. Has he not himself expounded in a letter the technique of triumph in the midst of seeming downfall? “Even if I foresee an adverse result I must work for the one that I consider should be; for it keeps alive the force, the principle of Truth which I serve and gives it a possibility to triumph hereafter so that it becomes part of the working of the future favourable fate even if the fate of the hour is adverse. “ With these far-seeing phrases of the Master we may close our attempt to elucidate a little the mystery of that look of magnificent meditation with which he lay from early morn­ing of December 5 for more than 111 hours in his simple bed in the room where he had spent over two decades of intense world-work. “Spiritually imperial” – this is the only des­cription fitting the appearance of his body: the heroic coun­tenance with its white beard and its flowing white hair above the massive forehead, its closed quiet eyes and its wide­ nostrilled aquiline nose and its firm lips whose corners were touched with beatitude, the broad and smooth shoulders, the arms flexed to place on the indomitable chest hand over gentle, artistic yet capable hand, the strong manly waist covered by an ample cloth of gold-bordered silk, even the legs stretched out with an innate kingship reminiscent of their having trod through seventy-nine years with holy feet at once blessing and possessing earth. The atmosphere of the room was vibrant with a sacred power to cleanse and illumine, a power which appeared to emanate from the Master’s poise of conquering rest and to invade the bodies of all the watchers with almost a hammering intensity from over their heads as if, in redoubled force because of Sri Aurobindo’s selfless physical withdrawal, there came pouring down to humanity the life-transfiguring grace of the Supermind. And we may add that somehow the personal presence itself of Sri Aurobindo grew intenser. He who had so long kept to a room for the sake of concentratedly hastening the Yogic process of transformation the wonderful bliss and dynamics of which the Mother had been canalising by her physical nearness to the disciples – he by setting aside his most exterior sheath broke out into a new intimacy with his followers and took them even more directly into his immense being. But it would hardly do justice to that being if we thought of it as merely a pervading greatness. Behind the material envelope are other organised vehicles -subtle and causal- and Sri Aurobindo had brought the remote causal effectively into the proximate subtle and was pressing it into the outer sheath at the time of his strategic sacrifice. To quote again his words, “The transformation has been done to a sufficient degree on the other planes.” This means that he held the Supermind embodied in his subtle sharira and that he was under no occult necessity, no law of subtle Nature, to give up the latter for the purpose of returning to some plane of the soul’s rest before being reborn with a new subtle body as well as a new gross one. Sri Aurobindo, at the hour of his physical withdrawal, was in a position to do much more than be the cosmic and transcendent Purusha that his supramental Yoga had made his incarnate personality. He could actually be that Purusha active in an indissoluble subtle body at once divine and human, in a far more direct constant touch with the material world than could the forms which mystics have visioned of past Rishis and Prophets and Avatars. In a most special sense, therefore, Sri Aurobindo the marvellously gifted and gracious person who was our Guru and whom we loved is still at work and a concrete truth is expressed by the Mother when she says: “To grieve is an insult to Sri Aurobindo, who is here with us conscious and alive.” The same concrete truth is ingemmed in the beautiful message of December 7, which she delivered out of her depths where she and Sri Aurobindo are one: “Lord, this morning Thou hast given me the assurance that thou wouldst stay with us until Thy work is achieved, not only as a consciousness which guides and illumines but also as a dynamic Presence in action. In unmistakable terms Thou hast promised that all of Thyself would remain here and not leave the earth­-atmosphere until earth is transformed. Grant that we may be worthy of this marvellous Presence and that henceforth everything in us be concentrated on the one Will to be more ­and more perfectly consecrated to the fulfilment of Thy Sublime Work.” So the work goes on, the Mother fronting the future, with the Master by her side in subtle embodiment. And for those who have faith in the work’s fulfilment and who understand what that would be, there is a hope that sees the future pregnant with a particular most heart-soothing possibility. Sri Aurobindo has written in connection with the time when the Supermind’s descent into flesh and blood will be complete: “In the theory of the occultists and in the gradation of the ranges and planes of our being which Yoga-knowledge outlines for us there is not only a subtle physical force but a subtle physical Matter intervening between life and gross Matter and to create in this subtle physical substance and precipitate the forms thus made into our grosser materiality is feasible. It should be possible and it is believed to be possible for an object formed in this subtle physical substance to make a transit from its subtlety into the state of gross Matter directly by the intervention of an occult force and process whether with or even without the assistance or intervention of some gross material procedure. A soul wishing to enter into a body or form for itself a body and take part in a divine life upon earth might be assisted to do so or even provided with such a form by this method of direct transmutation without passing through birth by the sex process or undergoing any degradation or any of the heavy limitations in the growth and development of its mind and material body: inevitable to our present way of existence. It might then assume at once the structure and greater powers and functionings of the truly divine material body which must one day emerge in a progressive evolution to a totally transformed existence both of life and form in a divinised earth-nature.” These words hold out the prospect that Sri Aurobindo who has already a divinised subtle physical sheath may employ the supramental mode of manifestation for the purpose of presiding in the domain of Matter itself over the new humanity which the Mother will initiate. In that dawn of God’s gold the Mother will be the first being to achieve the divine body by a progression through a body born in the natural manner, while through the support of her achievement Sri Aurobindo may be the first being to put on the physical vesture of transformation by a projection of substance and shape from supernature. Nothing, of course, is certain about what Sri Aurobindo may will to do, but the possibility we have figured is not out of accord with all that we have glimpsed of a quenchless and victorious light beyond the human in the very event which strikes the surface eye of the aspiring world as a universal sunset­ – the passing of Sri Aurobindo.   With deep gratitude to Amal Kiran, aka K.D. Sethna, of Sri Aurobindo Ashram, Pondicherry
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