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Sanjay Dixit

Sanjay Dixit

About the Author

Sanjay Dixit, Additional Chief Secretary to the Government of Rajasthan, has many feathers in his cap. He graduated as a marine engineer, and sailed the high seas for a few years before changing course to civil services. He is also well-recognised as a cricket administrator who once defeated Lalit Modi in a famous election for the post of the president of the Rajasthan Cricket Association. He considers Rajasthan's first Ranji Trophy title triumph as his crowning achievement. He is also credited with bringing a revolutionary new technology for production of date palms on a large scale in western Rajasthan, transforming livelihoods.

Dixit is a prolific columnist on contemporary topics. He has a deep interest in Indian languages, culture, economics, history, philosophy and spirituality. His six-part series - 'All Religions Are Not the Same' - has won critical acclaim. He also heads The Jaipur Dialogues as its Chairman, creating an India-centric think tank in the process, and hosts the YouTube series 'Weekly Dialogues'.

Francois Gautier

Francois Gautier

About the Author

François Gautier was born in Paris, France. He was South Asia correspondent for Le Figaro, one of France’s leading newspapers. He also wrote columns for Indian newspapers: the ‘Ferengi’s column’ in the Indian Express, then the “French Connection” column in the Pioneer, as well as regular contributions for Rediff., New Indian Express, Times of India blogs, etc.

François has written several books – amongst the latest : A New History of India (Har Anand, 2008), The Art of Healing (Harper Collins, 2011), Quand l’Inde s’éveille, la France est endormie (Editions du Rocher, 2013), « Apprendre à Souffler (Hachette Marabout, 2016) & « Nouvelle Histoire de l’Inde » (Editions de l’Archipel, 2017), « Les Mots du Dernier Dalaï-lama » (Flammarion, 2018), « In Defense of a Billion Hindus » (Har Anand, 2018) & « Hindu Power in the 21st Century » (Har Anand, 2019)

Francois, who is married for 30 years to Namrita, shuttles between Pune and Delhi. He is building a Museum of (real) Indian History in Pune (factmuseum.com).

Makarand Pranjape

Makarand Pranjape

About the Author

Author, poet, and humanities professor. He has been the Director of the Indian Institute of Advanced Study, Shimla since August 2018. Prior to that he was a professor at the Jawaharlal Nehru University in New Delhi, India for 19 years.

Maria Wirth

Maria Wirth

About the Author

Maria Wirth, a German, came to India on a stopover on her way to Australia after finishing her psychology studies at Hamburg University and an internship with Lufthansa. By chance she landed up in spiritual India, realised the great value of Vedic wisdom, and never went to Australia.

She shared her insights with German readers through numerous articles and two books, as she felt this wisdom is lacking in the West. Only some 15 years ago, she became aware that even many Indians don’t know about their amazing heritage and worse, they look down on it and often consider Christianity and Islam as preferable. This shocked her and she started to compare on her blog the three main religions and also wrote her first book in English, titled “Thank you India”. For her it is clear that Hindu Dharma is the best option for humanity and she keeps explaining why.

Dr. Omendra Ratnu

Dr. Omendra Ratnu

About the Author

Dr Omendra Ratnu from Jaipur is an ENT surgeon who runs a hospital.

He runs an NGO, Nimittekam, with the purpose of helping displaced Hindu refugees from Pakistan and integrating Dalit Sahodaras into Hindu mainstream.

Issues of Hindu survival and conflict with violent faiths are his core concerns for which he roams around the world to raise funds and awareness.

He is also a singer, composer, writer, Geeta communicator and a ground activist for Hindu causes.

He has released a bhajan Album and a Ghazal album composed and sung by him.

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The Sun of Divine Laughter

Only to be was a supreme delight,Life was a happy laughter of the soulAnd Joy was king with Love for minister.The spirit’s luminousness was bodied there. – Sri Aurobindo, Savitri In fact, even the greatest difficulties, even the greatest sorrows, even the greatest physical pain—if you can look at them from that standpoint, from there, you see the unreality of the difficulty, the unreality of the sorrow, the unreality of the pain—and there is nothing but a joyful and luminous vibration. In fact, this is the most powerful way of dissolving difficulties, overcoming sorrows and removing pain. The first two are relatively easy—I say relatively—the last one is more difficult because we are in the habit of considering the body and its feelings to be extremely concrete, positive; but it is the same thing, it is simply because we have not learnt, we are not in the habit of regarding our body as something fluid, plastic, uncertain, malleable. We have not learnt to bring into it this luminous laughter that dissolves all darkness, all difficulty, all discord, all disharmony, everything that jars, that weeps and wails. And this Sun, this Sun of divine laughter is at the centre of all things, the truth of all things: we must learn to see it, to feel it, to live it. And for that, let us avoid people who take life seriously; they are very boring people. As soon as the atmosphere becomes grave you can be sure that something is wrong, that there is a troubling influence, an old habit trying to reassert itself, which should not be accepted. All this regret, all this remorse, the feeling of being unworthy, of being at fault—and then one step further and you have the sense of sin. Oh! To me it all seems to belong to another age, an age of darkness. But everything that persists, that tries to cling and endure, all these prohibitions and this habit of cutting life in two—into small things and big things, the sacred and the profane…. “What!” say the people who profess to follow a spiritual life, “how can you make such little things, such insignificant things the object of spiritual experience?” And yet this is an experience that becomes more and more concrete and real, even materially; it’s not that there are “some things” where the Lord is and “some things” where He is not. The Lord is always there. He takes nothing seriously, everything amuses Him and He plays with you, if you know how to play. You do not know how to play, people do not know how to play. But how well He knows how to play! How well He plays! With everything, with the smallest things: you have some things to put on the table? Don’t feel that you have to think and arrange, no, let’s play: let’s put this one here and that one there, and this one like that. And then another time it’s different again…. What a good game and such fun! So, it is agreed, we shall try to learn how to laugh with the Lord. From The Mother’s On Thoughts and Aphorisms, CWM volume 10.
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Sri Aurobindo and Indian Philosophy

We do not realize even today the upheaval Sri Aurobindo brought into Indian darshana although he based his philosophy only on the most integral Vedantic vision and in line with the scriptural discoveries of the Vedas and Upanishads.  By the time he returned to India in 1892, Vedanta had come to mean the Mayavada of Adi Sankaracharya (most likely even Sankara was deeply misunderstood or misinterpreted) or the Vishisht Advaita of Ramanujacharya or the Dvaitavada of Madhvacharya. The ancient findings of the Vedic rishis, and their original spirit of fearless exploration into the nature of consciousness, had been forgotten in the oppression of a physical colonization, a torpor and inertia of vital energy and the lack of clarity and perception across the nation. Sri Krishna’s message of an Integral Vedanta was forgotten, and Indians had forgotten his exhortation not to reject the world of action but to embrace and be victorious through skill in works.  India had become colonized not only in body but also in spirit. Swami Vivekananda had initiated the process of awakening the nation and making the world aware of India’s spiritual heritage. He worked hard towards a spiritual renaissance of the nation. Sri Aurobindo took it further by transforming Indian Darshana in many ways and completed the task that Swami Vivekananda had begun.  What is Sri Aurobindo’s contribution to Indian Darshana? To my mind, these are his greatest achievements that re-energized Vedanta and Tantra, reconciled Indian darshana with Western philosophy and prepared for the advent of a new age of a true creative evolution. Sri Aurobindo brought back to us an integral understanding of Vedanta along the line of Sri Krishna. If there is one work of his that would have the greatest impact on India’s spiritual rebirth, it would be Essays on the Gita, a bhashya, or commentary, that not only brings to light Sri Krishna’s great philosophic and metaphysical achievement but gives us a path forward in Sri Krishna’s light. Sri Aurobindo continued in the great tradition of Sri Krishna and harmonized and synthetized the various Indian darshanas into a coherent, comprehensive, methodical and systematic whole that was yet not dry and intellectual but arose from his own realizations and being.Sri Aurobindo brought Indian darshana, which is the karana sharira or causal body of India’s physical and psychological bodies, back to its people in its original purity and intensity. It was essential for Indians to realize their svadharma and realize India’s central place in the comity of nations and in mankind’s future. By bringing back India’s dharma to itself, so to speak, awakening it to its own higher purpose and the true reason for svarajya, he may be said to be the true Father of India’s Independence or svarajya. What was only a theoretical construct or an aspiration of a few leaders of the country at the dawn of the 20th century, he turned into direct action and crystallized certain critical events in the politics of India that precipitated the ideal into the nation’s consciousness and eventually made it a reality four decades or so later. The ability to bring a deeper principle into reality, what is called ritam in the ancient Vedas, is what distinguishes him from theoretical philosophers. His realizations were later brought into reality by Mirra Alfassa, the Mother of Pondicherry Ashram, once again showing that darshana is not just for abstract thinkers and idealists but may be brought into the practical dimensions and practice, vyavhara, exactly what Sri Krishna did when he exhorted Arjuna to fight in the war of Mahabharata to establish the rule of truth and righteousness. The Universal Illusionism of Sankara thus was restored to a Universal Realism that was all-embracing, life-affirming and truly rooted in the human condition on earth rather than being transcendental and other-worldly.  Sri Aurobindo gave us an integral vision of Vedanta, or perhaps one should say, an integral reinterpretation of Vedanta. For Vedanta is already integral in each foundational great sayings or Mahavakyas. When a darshana can boldly utter that ‘All is Brahman’ (sarvam brahma), what aspect of life or existence may we leave out of the equation? And when it can say, with even greater boldness. that ‘I too am Brahman’ (ayam atma brahma) and ‘That Brahman is who I am’ (tat tvam asi and so’ham) then we are given the widest possible platform that any philosophy can give us in our consideration, scope and scale. And when can say that ‘This too is That’ (etad vai tat) then where are we allowed the opportunity to deduct out of our universality or be reductionistic? Perhaps one might say that Sri Aurobindo effectively restated, or explained, Vedanta in an integral manner. This contribution, in my opinion, has to possibility to reconcile the various lines of spirituality not only in the Indic domain but also in the Western spheres, giving us the opportunity to transform our religions, metaphysics and theologies. Sri Aurobindo absorbed the Darwinian theory of Evolution and Bergson’s concept of Creative Evolution into a Vedantic framework as a fitting and just completion of their theories. The contradictions and paradoxes of Darwin and Bergson were resolved in his concept of Involution of Brahman which is a restatement of the ancient Indian principle of Satkaryavada that the cause already contains the effect within it and that which is universal and eternal in the cause and effect continues to abide in their unfoldings. The chance element in Darwin’s theory was thus laid to rest and the duality in Bergson’s system was addressed. Sri Aurobindo, in his elaboration of the principle of the Avatar in the Hindu pantheon, also showed how each avatar successively traced the evolutionary line of development on earth and how further growth of consciousness, form and spirit might be envisaged. Vedanta was thus made dynamic, affirmative, and adaptable to the new theories coming out of the west as a crucial element in understanding the partial paradigms of modern sciences.The concept of the Chaitya Purusha of the Vedas, or the Psychic being, was brought to the fore by him and the Mother of Pondicherry Ashram to complete the fullest understanding of the theory of Evolution in a Vedantic paradigm. The Psychic principle also makes it easier to understand the various spiritual lines of development in the bhakti or devotional realm, thus encompassing all its various manifestations in various societies, religions, literatures, cultures, and mythologies of the human saga. It also gives a practical path of development for an integral growth and evolution of each human being. By showing that Jesus Christ was an avatar of the psychic principle, Sri Aurobindo created lines of connectedness between Christian and Vedantic  spirituality.  Sri Aurobindo synthesized Tantra with Advaita Vedanta in a practical approach towards an individual’s wholistic transformation and psychological askesis. The Vama Marga which reflects a great truth of human existence was thus elevated to an equally exalted status as that of Vedanta in Indian metaphysics with an integration of the two into one system of yoga called the Integral Yoga or Purna Yoga. Such an integration had been attempted earlier even by Adi Sankaracharya in the Saundarya Lahiri and Guru Gorakhnath, and later Sri Ramakrishna Paramhansa, but they did not create a philosophical and metaphysical basis for the synthesis per se. Sri Aurobindo in his own articulation brought in the elements of the Leftist and Rightist paths in one synoptic vision and practical yogic development.Sri Aurobindo clarified the question of Vishishta Advaita expounded by Ramanujacharya who insisted that while Brahman is one and unitary it is characterized by multiplicity, and it has elements with vishista or unique attributes. But Ramanuja insisted that Bhakti was the sole means of liberation. Sri Aurobindo with the larger and synthetic view of the Gita holds that jnana and karma are equally valid means of liberation and that Brahman is not only nirguna or without quality but also saguna, with qualities, and that the Oneness in Diversity is not a contradiction in terms. The qualified monism of Ramanuja and the pure monism of Sankara are reconciled and restated in Sri Aurobindo’s purna yoga as the principle of All in One and One in All being the secret of universal manifestation.Sri Aurobindo researched deep into the literary devices and etymological significances of the Vedas to understand their significance and how they related to the later developments of the Upanishads. He discovered in his own personal experience, and by interpreting Vedic symbolism and metaphors that the Vedas had indeed been the repository of advanced spiritual knowledge of ancient Indian rishis and not the babblings of a primitive humanity as had been claimed by some European scholars. In fact, through his study, Sri Aurobindo was able to validate his own spiritual realizations and show that the advancements in the Vedas needed to be understood with a sympathetic and truly scientific scholarship in the modern context. He showed us that India and the whole world share a great heritage in these srutis and an unbiased though not uncritical study was needed in interpretation and translation. Since most Indian darshanas derive their lineage from the Vedas, this was a critical step in understanding India’s early beginnings as a civilization that was fearless in its exploration and bold in its conclusions, open in its adventure and wide in its embrace of all possibilities. Sri Aurobindo made the intuitive rational and the rational intuitive. He did not believe in eschewing the mind with its myriad complications but refining it to higher levels of illumination and intuition. His elaboration of the Supramental consciousness, or what was called the RitChit by the Vedas, shows that he linked the various layers and sublayers of consciousness into one interconnected spectrum that was in essence too a manifestation of the same Truth or Sat. Sri Aurobindo used the mind and its methods to ascend above its own limitations and become subtler, capable of handling the finer perceptions and abstractions or realities. Nor did he reject matter or the body since he acclaimed like the Vedic rishi, ‘This too is Brahman’. This jada or inert Brahman is so only in appearance but holds within its dark inconscience too the Sun of Light or the Sadchidananda just as the highest levels of rarified consciousness do so. This finding too had been discovered by the Vedic rishis before him, and he brought it once again to the fore creating a vast consistent system that explained the various paradoxes of our existence. Sri Aurobindo not only built upon the great exposition of Sri Krishna, he also contextualized the Buddha and his realization of Nirvana and Shunya in the Vedantic understanding and explained that the Buddha only restated Vedanta in a new terminology and framework and made it available to the general populace in a simpler language. This is critical since the simple and practical truths of the Buddha are an integral part of his Purna Yoga, thereby reconciling the last two avatars in the Indian lineage.   Sri Aurobindo made nationalism a spiritual enterprise and invocation in his famous Uttarpara speech. In his vast understanding of India not just as a geographical landmass but as a living Shakti, a civilization that was the bearer of the earth’s spiritual heart, he enjoined upon us to live Sanatana Dharma, what was called the Perennial Philosophy by Aldous Huxley, for the true nationalism was to serve the Eternal and the Universal among us. In one stroke, he had widened the challenge of India’s self-existence and struggle for freedom as a universal movement with a vast significance for humanity. Perhaps no better understanding of his genius can be gained than by identifying that he articulated the issue at the heart of India’s, or any country’s, colonization and servitude. That freedom of the human spirit is at the core of our ultimate liberation and evolution into a new level of organization, whether locally or internationally. Thus, the most fervent nationalism is turned into a service of a larger philosophy and vision, the secular made sacred, the worldly made spiritual.  He brought back ancient Indian principles of an Integral Education to replace the Macaulay system of creating babus and automatons and helots of the English empire. An approach to the total development of a child or any student in holistic manner that would be the true basis for any future creation of a greater race of humans. Not via eugenics or some such sense of racial superiority but by insisting on what is the truth in each human and what the significance of each component of our life and personality. His ashram, open to both men and women, boys and girls, was itself a revolution in the traditional and conservative Indian system of spiritual living; so was the insistence that his ashram was a lab that was not divorced from life and cut off from the world but was an instrument towards its eventual transformation towards greater harmony and ascent along the evolutionary ladder.  Sri Aurobindo is the meeting point of spirituality and metaphysics, esoteric religion and universal and true humanitarianism, and dare I say, the coming together of the essence of Socialism and Communism and the most flagrant and independent individualism, of Marx and Nietzsche, of Hegel and Sartre, but in an Indic paradigm. He was also a social, cultural, and linguistic philosopher of the highest order, a nationalist as well as internationalist, a classicist as well as a thorough modernist, a revivalist as well as a futurist.  Excerpted from Dr. Pariksith Singh’s new book, Sri Aurobindo and Philosophy, published by Kali, an imprint of BluOneInk, and released on August 6, 2022 at the Pondicherry Literature Festival.
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Religion and Yoga

In many respects, Yoga may appear to be identical with religion, and yet the distinction is very vast. If Yoga is a quest, religion, too, is a quest; if yoga aims at the practice of a discipline which aims at uniting the individual and his faculties with the operation of the universal and transcendental consciousness and being, religion, too, has a similar discipline. Where then is the difference? The answer lies in the fact that although religion at its core and at its highest aspiration aims at the spiritual experience, although great religions have their origin in discipline and experience, they tend to develop systems of dogma and to prescribe belief in the dogma. Whatever spiritual discipline is proposed, it becomes encrusted and overlaid with ceremonies, rituals, and institutional prescriptions regarding conduct, both individual and collective. In this situation, religion may be seen as the first approach to yoga, but even then it may not be an indispensable gate to yoga. Yoga proceeds directly by a change of consciousness, a change from the ordinary consciousness, ignorant of the true self, to a greater consciousness in which one finds one’s true being and into a direct and living contact by experience and then a union with the Divine. For the yogic seeker, this change of consciousness is the one thing that matters and nothing else — belief, dogma, rituals, and ceremonies. Yoga not only aims at the total change of consciousness, but even its methods are derived from gradual increasing entry into a domain higher than the body, life, and mind. In other words, Yoga is an exploration of consciousness through consciousness. Religion is seen to be a source of moral values, and the absoluteness of the moral values is sought to be derived from some religious sanction. Thus religions have attempted to erect systems and declared God’s commands through Avatar or the Prophet. Such systems have proved more dynamic and more powerful than the dry ethical idea. But quite often these systems conflict with what reason supports or else they are so ingrained in certain religious dogmas that they do not have an appeal to those who do not accept those dogmas. Besides, there is, too, a conflict among the dogmas. These systems are often framed that they prove unworkable and are, therefore, rejected by Nature. Or, sometimes, they are turned into a series of compromises and become obsolete in the march of Time. In the Yogic consciousness and in the knowledge and the effectivity that it produces the highest elements that morality in the deepest core seeks are fulfilled. But Yoga replaces the moral law by a progressive law of self-perfection, spontaneously expressing itself through individual nature. The spiritual law that yoga presents respects the individual nature, modifies and perfects it. And in this sense, it is flexible for each individual and can be known and made operative only by a gradual progression of consciousness and, more and more, by an entry into the real self. In its progressive movement, it may, if necessary, permit a short or a long period of governance by a moral law but always as a provisional device. It always looks forward to a time when one can arrive at a higher plane of consciousness in which the Right and the Good can find spontaneous expression. To the yogic consciousness, moral virtue is valuable as an expression of certain qualities which are for the time being necessary and useful for a given individual in an upward journey. Again, these qualities become modified and enriched as the higher consciousness develops higher levels of attitudes and stabilizes higher states of consciousness in which the divine qualities manifest more and more spontaneously. Yoga is not confined merely to the aspect of conduct; the conduct dealt with by ethics is only a minor aspect of the totality of works, inner no less than the external. Yogic consciousness includes all these works and strives by the method of a progressive change in consciousness in the perfect expression of all aspects of works, and in these strivings it realizes also the unity of works with the highest knowledge and profoundest love. It is true that religion too is an attempt to include all aspects of works and to arrive at some sort of unity of works with knowledge and love; but once again, its methods are largely mechanical and dogmatic, and it is only at the highest level of religion that the methods of spiritual disciplines that are prescribed are found suitable to some of the adherents, while to most adherents they remain more less mechanical. The progressive law of yogic development may approve, if necessary, a short or a long period of governance if the individual or of the race by a religion, but only as a provisional device; it always makes room for a passage beyond into the plane of a larger consciousness where distinctive religious methods melt into higher and spontaneous methods appropriate to larger consciousness. To the yogic consciousness religion is not valuable as a form, but only in so far as it may aid the ordinary consciousness of man to turn towards something that is deeper and higher and, even there, it stresses the necessity for every man to have his own distinctive spiritual discipline. It may also be mentioned that yogic consciousness welcomes agnosticism, skepticism, atheism, positivism or free thinking and sees behind them a concern and a demand for authentic knowledge. It recognizes that if these are rightly understood, respected and fulfilled, they would become a powerful complement to what lies in consciousness behind the commonly accepted religious qualities of faith and unquestioning acceptance of dogmatic teachings and injunctions. Yoga always looks behind the form to the essence and to the living consciousness; and in doing so, it brings to the surface that which lies behind in its ultimate truth. Yoga transcends the forms and the methods of morality and religion and creates and recreates its own living and progressive forms. Yogic methods are distinctive and must not be confused with either morality or religion. A mere learning about Yoga is not Yoga, and even the most catholic book cannot be a substitute for the direct yogic practice of an inner change of consciousness by which one can perceive and realise the inner and higher self and transform the workings of the outer instruments of Nature. Nor can Yoga be practiced in a casual way or only as a part-time preoccupation. Yoga, to be properly practiced, must be taken as a sovereign and central occupation and must govern and permeate every aspect of life and every pursuit. With gratitude to Sri Kireet Joshi
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Myths and Legends: Holistic View

A tendency of the modern mind is to deconstruct Reality encoded in myths and legends. The logic of it is that by doing so they can uncover the truths behind them. That in itself is, at best, a myth and, at worst, a superstition of the mind. No amount of breakdown and analysis of parts can awaken within us the sense we get when we view the whole. This is true of a humble blade of grass, of the more daring rose as much as of the galaxies and the stars. However, much we may analyze the contents of an ocean, we will never be able to comprehend its vastness, delight, beauty and magnanimity unless we gaze at it, behold it with our intuitive eye, and eventually, dare to plunge into it.  For everything comprises two elements—quantity and quality. Quantity is something that is measurable and can be analyzed but quality is subjective, intrinsic and not subject to analysis or measure. We can, of course, try to define quality and, to that extent, make it seem more objective.  But this effort to define, though necessary for clarity of mind, should not be considered a substitute for the real experience of coming into contact with the truth that the quality embodies. Thus, we have to understand the total truth of things through a combination of the quantitative and the qualitative aspects.  There is, of course, a third aspect behind these two which perhaps cannot be spoken of—the aspect of Consciousness that has assumed different quantities and qualities and yet is essentially the same everywhere.  In fact, after we have deconstructed the different phenomenal aspects of Reality as we perceive it, the last barrier that stands is Consciousness. One cannot deconstruct it by virtue of its very nature. It is One and Infinite, as the sages say. We can identify with it and understand something of it, as is reflected in our mental mirrors, provided the mirror itself is clean and the glass free of the stains of conditioning.  Symbolic representation of Reality  It is with this background that we delve into the nature of things, but when it comes to myths and legends, this becomes more obvious. To start with, most of us try to understand a myth from the lens of our present mentality. This is to decontextualize it. It is not necessary that the ancients thought, felt and experienced life the same way we do today. Their value systems need not be the same and hence cannot be comprehended accurately by us with our present values.  Besides, the same value itself shifts and clothes itself in different forms with the passage of time. To judge and evaluate a myth through the lens of our modern upbringing is not only unfair but also very misleading. This is a common and frequent occurrence when we try to probe and understand the myths of any country that is not ours. Instead of deconstructing and decontextualising a myth, we need to decode it. Decoding implies that a myth is a symbolic story. Its characters and the storyline itself are representative of some reality that is not easy to verbalise. Hence, the person has taken not just poetic liberty but used a story to give out subtle and salient truths through the use of symbols. The person has perhaps even tried to evoke certain emotions, to awaken certain impulses, through the use of images just as a painter may try to do. The painting is like an open door for us to enter the painter’s consciousness. Similarly, a myth is like another door opening into the author’s consciousness. But for that, we have to steer clear of all preconceived notions. The mirror of our mind must be clean and receptive so that the deeper reality contained in the myth may reveal or reflect itself in the mind. While deconstruction often destroys the intrinsic value of the myth by taking away its very soul, the act of decoding gives it a universal value that is applicable for all times to come.  Let us take the example of a dissection of a body part by part to understand its functions. It is a deconstruction, in a sense. But when one has unravelled the body and analysed and understood its physicality, one has missed the most important thing—the soul that animates the body. The physical body is an instrument, a vehicle, to express the deeper soul. But when we decode the body, we understand how each organ is symbolic of some deeper reality, at once psychological and occult, thereby enabling us to understand not only the how but also the why behind its functioning.  Many layers of a myth  In practical terms, it means that a myth has at least three layers to it. The first is of course the visible outer body, the story. This story itself is modified over time, just as the human body undergoes changes. However, there are two kinds of modifications that take place, one that preserves the basic truth of the myth and hence keeps some essential continuity with its central thought, at least to a large extent. Thus, for example, we have the two prominent versions, among many, of the Ramayana—Valmiki’s Ramayana which is the original and its later version by Tulsidas.  Although both details and style differ in the two versions, the essential story remains the same; the fundamental truth is also undisturbed. It is just the approaches that are different. While Valmiki seems to approach the personality, life and times of Lord Rama from great spiritual heights, Tulsidas’ Ramayana approaches it from a deeper psychic heart. They beautifully complement each other. But there are now newer versions of the story being written and screened where the author is not at all in sympathy with the times or the character and has often given his own unique twist to suit his ideological or political purpose.  Take for example this twist that since all history is written by victors, Ramayana too suffers this distortion. The next logical step is that Ravana was actually the good guy, the hero of the plot, whereas it was Rama who was the actual villain. So too with the Mahabharata, where we see some intellectual versions that suddenly turn Krishna and the Pandavas into villains while extolling the Kauravas and Karna and the rest.  One can only laugh at the puerile and motivated thinking of such readings that take almost a malicious interest in distorting history. To start with, neither Valmiki nor Vyasa, leave aside Tulsidas and many others, were court philosophers appointed by the victors and had no reason or business to distort history. If at all, they were seers and revered in the plot itself. Secondly, if we take a closer look at the characters, we will discover, sometimes to our moral dismay, that the story is not black and white as the modern mind would like to portray it. There are many shades of grey through which the characters and the actual narrative move and evolve. That is one reason why these great scriptures have endured the rub of time since they are closely woven with the psychological fabric of our life where there is no clear division between black and white but there are shades of grey through which we evolve towards the truth of our being.  It is, in fact, as the Bhagavad Gita itself affirms about Sri Krishna’s mission, about the evolutionary march of mankind, about a stage in the collective advance of mankind rather than a simple moral science book preaching us about the dos and don’ts. The word often used is dharma, which is the term used to denote this evolutionary struggle that runs as the central theme of this plot, and not moral or ethical, a term that is at best its intellectual and modern distortion in an alien language.  One may even say that if one does not understand dharma then it is difficult to decipher these epics. Often the modern readers are not in sympathy with this profound term because they have lost contact with it, and tend to turn these wonderful epics merely into stories with social and moral themes. Naturally, when the stories do not neatly fit into these definitions, all kinds of explanations are built either to justify or to denounce the epic! This is so because we have failed to decode the real sense of the word, and we cannot, unless we sympathise with the times and life of the people as it was organised then. That is why the elaborate explanations given by intellectuals trained in foreign universities break down with the first proper scrutiny by someone who has delved into the spirit of these scriptures.  Physical and psychological dimensions of an epic  The story exists at a symbolic and psychological level as well. But this is not the usual psychology that we are accustomed to reading today. These ‘spiritual psychologists’ or yogis, who wrote these enduring epics were not satisfied with superficial explanations of human behaviour nor content with simply erecting a theoretical construct around human life.  We see these constructs and theories frequently, often built by studying pathological human behaviour. But even those who study ‘normal’ human behaviour are content with studying it on the surface rather than diving deep within it to discover new possibilities and the hidden capacities of nature. To put it briefly, while much of modern psychology tends to be a projection and derivative of the subnormal and the abnormal, ancient wisdom derived its truths from the supernormal and the a-normal.  The physical story becomes a nucleus, a pedestal for the author to launch into a depiction of human nature in all its varieties and shades. That is how the epics become universal in their quality and contemporary in their appeal. The characters we find in the Ramayana and the Mahabharata, and for that matter even in the Iliad and the Odyssey, are archetypes that continue to exist within us, driving us towards the heights and abysses of human nature. But this psychology, in the Indian setting, was also a means of cultural transmission, a means to inspire the generations to come with the highest thoughts and possibilities of mankind. It had little to do with outer customs, dress codes and other paraphernalia which were symbolic of those times and had much more to do with the thoughts, feelings and actions of a group of humanity.  Myths became a means to portray and present before man a living ideal which can become a force multiplier much more than any mere abstract idealism can do. We should be like Rama in strength and courage, like Bhishma in will and statesmanship, like Arjuna in skill and power of concentration, like Karna in generosity, like Abhimanyu in sacrifice and so on.  There are female personalities who place before us the ideal feminine. Draupadi, the powerful empress who brought down an empire to uphold the dignity of a woman, Sita who was a warrior in the outer as well as the inner life, forgiving, patient and gentle, despite her suffering. Savitri, steadfast in love and wisdom, who by the strength of her tapasya took on Death itself as her opponent and won.  We need these characters to inspire us even today. They are greatness personified. It may be mentioned here that Indians always strived for greatness and revered it wherever it was found. The Arya, the srestha, the noble is their ideal. This way, generation after generation was nourished by the sap of idealism and the spirit of sacrifice. It was only when burdened under the reign of alien rulers, with the gradual invasion of escapist philosophies and extreme practices such as asceticism, that we drifted away from the Ideal. However, the memory of it is still preserved and continues to haunt us in popular culture, awaiting its hour of revival.  This revival cannot be brought about by vigilantes and self-proclaimed Hindus but by those who live the truth of the Vedas and the Gita, who realise the deep teachings of the Upanishads and use them in their daily thoughts, feelings and actions. Not mechanical customs and rituals but spiritual awakening, not religion and philosophy but living straight from the deeper intuitive heart is what is most needed. And if we do that, we shall find the secret code of the myth unlocked before us and the script self-revealed in the light of a growing intuition and illumination.  Occult mysteries of existence  There is a third layer to the myth. It relates to the occult dimension of our existence. Those who wrote the significant mythologies—the Ramayana, Mahabharata, Bhagawata Purana were not just ordinary storytellers. It was not imagination that they indulged in, nor were they historians in the sense in which it is understood today. They were not interested in merely reporting outer details and apparent ‘facts’ which, in any case, are not likely to be an accurate account of events. Even if, in some way, someone could record not only what was happening but also what was being spoken during an event, there would be no way of knowing all that was going on in the thoughts and feelings of the characters involved.  It is this fundamental inability that makes all history, whether by an interested or disinterested party, to some extent questionable. It is not about who wrote it or for whom, it is simply the fact that human consciousness is essentially limited in knowing what goes on in creating any event. It records only the surface details and keeps multiplying it as primary and secondary source materials but through all this painstaking collection of information it keeps circling around the Light of Truth that it can neither see nor touch.  Sometimes, if the historian is sensitive and inwardly developed, he may intuitively sense the Light that is trying to shine through the thick garb of circumstances. The authors of these great and wonderful epics which are believed to be true events by millions of adherents were seers and had found the way to know the hidden forces that move humanity, events and circumstances. Like Homer and Dante, but on a much greater scale and penetrating depth, the Ramayana and the Mahabharata are full of beings from various worlds creating panoramic universes where several parallel yet interlacing universes exist within the framework of a story. Those who disregard these stories interposed in the legends as mere imagination, or simply symbols, miss out on a whole world that exists beneath our surface awareness and acts upon us—a world that is sealed to our normal vision and experience. These epics, therefore, contain a wealth of direct knowledge about the workings of occult forces often presented as titanic and godly beings. By reading these epics we understand the total mystery of creation.  Spiritual core  However, this is not all. The real value of these epics lies in their divine core and the spiritual substance that runs through the epic nourishing our souls rather than merely informing our minds or stimulating our vital. This spiritual element is what remains in the end as an essence or an aftertaste of the epic.  The Vedas, the Upanishads, the Gita, and various other shastras bring home profound spiritual truths for mankind. Books such as the Gita beautifully combine spiritual philosophy, spiritual practices as well as spiritual vision and experience. What we still miss is a living example, an embodiment of spiritual reality or its seeking and realisation, a living personality that can inspire rather than instruct. We require a living philosophy that seeps into our very veins rather than it solely awakening the mind, a practice that is brought home merely by the fact that someone lived that way.  It is this deeper need of humanity that is fulfilled by these epics and narratives. Not only do they contain profound spiritual philosophy and practice of spiritual truths but above all, they set before us an example of God Himself when He descends clothed in our humanity. It becomes the new standard, the yardstick to be applied to the way one follows it and lives it.  We normally categorize stories based on their essence or rasa as it is called in Indian thought, like that of love, bravery, horror, etc. Or we label them as history or fiction based on whether or not it is true. We also classify them depending upon the subject, such as philosophy, the occult, psychology, science, art. But this is still a divisive vision. When a book combines all these contrasting opposites and much more, we have a grand epic, a story of the human soul, its struggle and battle against forces that oppose and deny its passage, its rise and fall and eventual victory where forces tangible and occult join hands for or against the triumphant march of God in humans. Above all, we see in them the very image of God stepping forward into the play, in its very midst and thereby we can understand something of His ways of working in us. What is hidden is laid bare, the occult and what is concealed stand revealed in the light of the seer-vision. It is this totality that we find in a ‘myth’.  A myth is neither fiction nor fact. It is rather a superb attempt to reveal a many-sided, layered, multi-dimensional reality as revealed to the seers. It addresses at once the heart and the mind, the senses and the soul; the vital and the physical itself get engaged as the myth proceeds. At least that is how most Indian myths and legends, especially the Ramayana, the Mahabharata, the Bhagawata Purana come alive in the consciousness of the reader. Therefore, we need to engage with a myth of such great value as the Ramayana or the Mahabharata, not just with our analytical minds but with our entire beings.  A myth, like any well-written story, discloses its meaning directly to our inner being. In this sense, it is more like a proverb that conveys profound or subtle truths without needing to be literally true. But it needs a holistic rather than an analytical reading to arrive at its intrinsic sense. With a myth, there is much more than an intrinsic meaning, there is a vision as well. Identifying with the myth through the act of reading, we can share this vision and grow into its subtlety and profundity. But analysing it on the surface with its heavy reliance on data and outer images, we lose the meaning and the essence of what the myth represents.  Seer-vision and imagination  Thus, we need to approach these myths differently. We need to understand that it is not just a story but one written by a seer. It is how those with a deeper vision of reality saw things and gladly shared their vision with us in words that are easily comprehensible. By reading these mythological tales we come into contact with the characters they contain, we identify our minds with the mind of the seer; and, above all, we are inspired by the unfolding of the sense of the Divine in our lives. This is their supreme value and contribution to mankind in its multifaceted progress.  Often a myth is not just a tale of the past but a doorway to the future. The seers saw a far-off possibility, like that of a scientist gazing through the telescope, spotting a distant star and studying its spectrum and arriving at an understanding of the remote luminous body that our naked eyes do not behold. Yet by revealing the star, the scientist not only brings information useful to the mind but also fires our imagination. This imagination is very often a creative energy that can foresee a possibility not manifested yet. Have not quite a few of our science fictions become realities? The seers used various faculties to deftly weave a myth which the analytical mind is only too quick to demolish or label as a work of fiction. Yet time cancels our verdicts and while scholars and their research vanish without a trace, the myth and sacred lore survive, return and continue to enlighten and empower the human race!  Latent faculties in man  The modern mind lays excessive stress on the evidence of our outer senses while modern science itself has busted this erroneous conception as we realise that there is a whole world that completely escapes and eludes our senses. This world, or possibly these worlds within worlds, surround our physical reality. Even what we describe as physical reality is only a fragment that we inadequately grasp through our limited senses. The senses, in this sense, do not reveal reality. They rather hide it by conjuring before us an image that we take to be true. The practice of yoga, however, releases within us certain other latent faculties which we have either lost or are yet to develop.  This is easy to understand if we take the evolutionary process into cognisance. Animals have an instinctive way of knowing things, a way of knowing also present in early humans, who were closer to the animal state. Red Indians, for instance, can tell the distance and direction of where a sound comes from by simply putting their ears to the ground. Certain tribes can predict physical events as noticed during the 2004 Indian Ocean earthquake and tsunami whence certain animals and tribes in the Andaman Islands became aware and took shelter in high uplands much before the technocrats picked up the signals. Some faculties that lie hidden and asleep in our bodies can awaken and show us what we ordinarily do not see. Thus, for example, some people can read accurately even with their eyes completely blindfolded.[1] How they do it is a mystery, but it is quite possible that they pick up light signals through touch and smell with their brains developed in a way that enables them to read as if it was normal sight.  The seers however had what is generally called subtle sight and subtle hearing in yoga. It was possible in an age when humanity was not going through hyper-rationality— that which has killed not only our imagination but also every other faculty of knowing within us. Imagination and faith are powers given by nature through which we can know things that are beyond the limit of our senses. But in our present times we hardly develop these gifts of nature; if anything, we decry and deride their presence. Even emotions have a way of knowing that reason does not. The heart, and love, may use dreams, imagination, and almost anything to accomplish its purposes. That the coming together of two hearts may not always result in a happy life together is no proof that the heart knows not. Even rationally-decided and well thought out decisions do not often work out. Mathematical models and convincing statistical analysis too may be proved wrong as time passes and new observations come into the field. To discard the vision of the rishis merely because it does not conform to our rational notions and possibilities is another kind of dogma that prevents human progress.  Sri Aurobindo and the Mother, who were yogis and seers of the highest order themselves, refer to the story of Sri Krishna in the Bhagawata Purana and reveal the following:  Some say Krishna never lived, he is a myth. They mean on earth; for if Brindavan existed nowhere, the Bhagavat could not have been written.[2] Sometimes one is led to think that only those things really matter which have never happened; for beside them most historic achievements seem almost pale and ineffective.[3] Does Brindavan exist anywhere else than on earth?  The whole earth and everything it contains is a kind of concentration, a condensation of something which exists in other worlds invisible to the material eye. Each thing manifested here has its principle, idea, or essence somewhere in the subtler regions. This is an indispensable condition for manifestation. And the importance of the manifestation will always depend on the origin of the thing manifested. In the world of the gods, there is an ideal and harmonious Brindavan of which the earthly Brindavan is but a deformation and a caricature. Those who are developed inwardly, either in their senses or in their minds, perceive these realities which are invisible to the ordinary man and receive their inspiration from them. So the writer or writers of the Bhagavat were certainly in contact with a whole inner world that is well and truly real and existent, where they saw and experienced everything they have described or revealed. Whether Krishna existed or not in a human form, living on earth, is only of very secondary importance (except perhaps from an exclusively historical point of view), for Krishna is a real, living and active being; and his influence has been one of the great factors in the progress and transformation of the earth.[4] The data that is used to write history is open to interpretation—often the documentation on which it is based is incomplete, the information they supply is poor, and prone to distortion. At best, human history is a long, almost unbroken record of violent aggressions: wars, revolutions, murders, or colonisations. Some of these aggressions and massacres have been adorned with flattering terms and epithets—they have been called religious or holy wars, civilising campaigns—but they nonetheless remain acts of greed or vengeance.  Rarely in history do we find the description of a cultural, artistic or philosophical flowering. That is why, as Sri Aurobindo indicates in the quoted extract above, in the legendary accounts of things which may never have existed on earth, of events which have not been declared authentic by official knowledge, of wonderful individuals whose existence is doubted by scholars in their dried up wisdom, we find the crystallisation of all the hopes and aspirations of humans, their love of the marvellous, the heroic and the sublime, the description of everything they would like to be and strive to become. That, in essence, is what Sri Aurobindo means in the quoted aphorism.  Mystic key embedded in the story  This brings us to the important point that only a seer can understand the writings of a seer. What we see today, however, is a tendency of the unchaste human mind to deal with these profound works and in doing so, often either throw the baby out with the bathwater or else cover the baby with all kinds of decorative social and psychological garments, often ill-fitting or force-fitted into shape to suit a particular line of interpretation. This itself would not matter so long as the basic premise is kept intact. The basic premise is that, first and foremost, these myths have been written from a spiritual consciousness that is other than a mental or social consciousness.  The mind may think that it can understand spiritual things, but the plain fact is that it cannot. At best, it may see some vague shadowy reflection through an obscure and broken glass. It may get a few pieces right here and there but the main body will escape it. Hence the real sense is lost. One needs to feel and reach out for the soul of the epic with an eye to fully comprehend the main body. That must remain intact. Of course, no one can say with any guarantee as to what the seer who wrote the epic had seen, felt and experienced. But in an epic, there are enough luminous hints that provide us with the central theme and the core. It is around this core that the story has been woven and one cannot tamper with that core because that is its soul.  If one has a problem with what the author has written, one can always let one’s creativity run and write another epic with other characters which may become as real to those who read them. Whether or not these characters born out of human imagination, not in touch with deeper profound truths, will endure is something that only time can tell. But as far as the ancient epics go, one has to keep the soul of the epic intact if one wishes to find its secret. To see this soul, it is important that one should have found one’s own soul or at least opened to spiritual domains.  To illustrate, in Valmiki’s story of Lord Rama, Sri Rama is described as an Avatara, a conscious descent and manifestation of Lord Vishnu in humanity. He arrives somewhere in the middle of a chain of ten Avataras. The one preceding him is Parashuram while the one who follows is Sri Krishna. To the spiritually awakened and intuitive mind, wherein this epic is born, these things were quite tangible and real. The whole story is woven around Lord Rama as an Avatara of Lord Vishnu who is the great preserver of dharma.  We are also told that Ravana was a devotee of the Lord, the being who kept a watch over the gates of Lord Vishnu. He fell due to a curse and one of the purposes of Lord Vishnu to take upon a human body was to redeem Ravana and bring him back to his original place in the celestial world of Lord Vishnu. If we keep these fundamental truths intact then the rest of the story becomes spiritually comprehensible. This core is the secret of the entire myth. Let us see how this decodes the story.  We all have some divine aspect within us that has fallen from the divine heights. That is our true Home but we have fallen from these heights. Our return journey can take one of two roads. One path that we can traverse is of a devotee of the Lord who is also the guardian of dharma. It is the clasp of love. It will liberate us and restore us to the divine heights from where we fell but the journey will be full of delight. The other path is to wrestle with, and seemingly oppose, Him. Whatever path you take, whether that of love for the Divine or an opposition to it, you cannot escape His embrace and an eventual merger with Him in the arena of the world.  The first coming together will be through delight, the other through pain and struggle necessitated because of the strong ego that resists. We see an interesting correspondence between the story of Ravana, once an angelic being in the courts of God who falls due to pride, and the Christian myth of Lucifer, the angel of Light who falls from Heaven.  The initial cause of the fall is much the same in both myths. They fall because of pride, forgetting that all Glory belongs to God and not to an individual however high his status may be, even if he is right next to God. The fall itself is the wall of pride and ego that creates a separation between God and man, creating the illusion of a separate personality independent of the Creator. It is an illusion since it is impossible for such a thing to come into existence. However, unlike the Christian myth which starts similarly, the Hindu myth has a remarkable ending.  While Ravana has forgotten his origin, Lord Vishnu has not. The Divine descends upon earth to redeem the fallen by His infinite Grace. But this Grace is not limited to a group of faithful followers who subscribe to a fixed and formal belief system. It reaches out even to the ones who revolt and to those who oppose His plan; in fact, they serve His cosmic purpose by opposing the divine plan.  No one has fallen so deep that God’s grace cannot redeem them. Thus, the story of the Ramayana takes a very different hue than what we ordinarily think of as a victory of good over evil. True victory is not merely the killing or destroying of one Ravana or many like him, true victory is to destroy one’s ego so that one can recognise the Lord and be redeemed by His Grace. Anyone who has walked a spiritual path in earnest can see the profound mystic truth in this story. Even those who have not walked the path can intuitively sense something about the Grace of God, who takes a human form to redeem mankind. That is the reason why the epic has endeared itself to mankind for so long and continues to do so. There are many other stories, each a profound mystic truth which we shall have occasion to return to. But in the absence of this kind of spiritual intelligence one tends to completely disregard this spiritual core as nothing but superstition, a hyperbole, or hagiography.  When the story is read without this mystic key it is reduced either to pulp fiction or a story of a social or civilisational struggle between two racial types. The key is lost and with it the soul. What then remains is merely an outer body, a shell that is filled up with all kinds of human fancy to suit our political ideologies or social theories.  It is with this background that we can now start looking at some of the myths and legends of India, especially with respect to the Eternal Feminine, the Goddess, the Devi.  Excerpted from Dr. Alok Pandey’s new book, The Eternal Feminine, published by Kali, an imprint of BluOneInk and released on June 19, 2022.
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Life as a Yajna or Sacrifice

In the middle of the fourth chapter of the Gita, certain instructions are given on the performance of different kinds of sacrifice, known as yajnas. The word ‘yajna’ is a very significant one throughout the Bhagavadgita, perhaps through most of the scriptures in India, indicating that the principle of life consists of sacrifice of some sort or the other. The philosophy of India may, in a way, be summed up by the word ‘yajna’ – sacrifice. Every moment of our life is a sacrifice that we perform in the direction of a higher fulfillment, and a sacrifice is therefore a gain and not a loss. In ordinary language we praise a person who has performed a sacrifice, thinking that sacrifice involves a sharing of one’s joy with others, in a sense a sort of loss which one has voluntarily incurred for the welfare of other people. “Oh, what a sacrifice he has done,” thus we ejaculate. This is our point of view – whenever we give something, we feel we lose something. Sacrifice, no doubt, means giving something, but it does not mean losing something. In giving, we do not lose. Give and it shall be given back a hundredfold. It is difficult to understand the meaning of sacrifice, and a knowledge of it is absolutely necessary to understand the teachings of the Bhagavadgita. The whole of karma yoga, or any yoga for the matter of that, is centred around this principle governing all life and existence – the principle of yajna, sacrifice. In the fourth chapter, indications are given of the possibility of performing different kinds of sacrifice. A purely philosophical and spiritual touch is given to this description of the different forms of sacrifice here, because the Bhagavadgita is pre-eminently a spiritual gospel, a gospel of all life, and thus very comprehensive in its treatment of the basic values of life. Dravyayajna, yogoyajna, tapoyajna, jnanayajna are some of the terms used in this connection. Without going into the verbal or linguistic meaning of these terms, and without confusing you too much with the academic interpretations of these enunciations of the forms of sacrifice, I can clinch the whole matter by bringing you back to the process of cosmology, evolution – a thing we can never afford to forget throughout our studies because the story of creation or the procession of the cosmological event also suggests acutely the position we occupy in this world, our status in this universe, without which we can do nothing correctly, nor can we know anything properly. Yajna – sacrifice – whatever the form it may take, is a summoning of the higher power into one’s own self, and a consequent surrender of the lower self for the higher dimension of one’s own being, known as the superior Self. It is also not easy to understand what this higher Self means; nor can we know what the lower self is. Though we may repeat these words again and again, and to some extent know their literal meanings, their practical suggestiveness is hard for the mind to grasp. The higher Self is not a spatially located, ascending series, but a more intensely inclusive and pervasive nature of our own self – something like the superiority of the waking consciousness over the dream consciousness. The waking mind is not kept over the dreaming mind, as one thing is kept over another thing. The superiority, the transcendence of one thing over the other, or one thing being higher than the other, should not and does not suggest a spatial distance, but a logical superiority which is to be distinguished from spatial transcendence as someone sitting over another person’s head. The cosmological scheme, to which we have made reference earlier, enlightens us into the fact that we as individuals or human beings are basically inseparable from the whole of creation, the five elements: earth, water, fire, air, ether; the five tanmatras: sabda, sparsa, rupa, rasa, gandha; and the whole of space-time itself. We are not outside this large complex of the expanse of the universe. Though this may be the fact, this also seems to be the conclusion that we are driven to by a study of the cosmological process. We, in our daily life, seem to be totally ignoring this fact; and by a complete violation of this principle, asserting our individuality, seem to be totally disconnected from everything else as if we have nothing to do with anybody else. We have various types of selfishness – attachment to one’s own body is the grossest form of it, and it has subtler forms of egoism, such as psychological self-assertiveness. Attachment to anything that is connected to one’s self also comes under the purview and the gamut of selfishness. Anything that would not accept the basic organic relations of one’s self with what is external to one’s self, should be considered as a form of selfishness, whatever be the height it has reached; it may be a national egoism or even an international one, but it is nothing short of it. One cannot easily escape this predicament because of the perception of the world by the senses. The yajnas or the sacrifices mentioned here in the Bhagavadgita in the fourth chapter are, to some extent, gradational attempts on the part of the seeker to overcome selfishness and increase their dimension of one’s self by attuning one’s self to the larger Self, which is nothing but the establishment of an en rapport with a wider area of our relationship than the one to which we are limited at the present moment, due to our sensory outlook. Physically, psychologically, and even intellectually, we are somehow connected to other people and even the five elements, the tanmatras, the ahamkara, the mahat and the other things we have mentioned in the Samkhya cosmological scheme. So sacrifice, yajna, should therefore mean an inward transmutation of our consciousness in its apprehension of relationship with these layers or levels of cosmological descent and ascent; and there are, perhaps, as many types of sacrifice as we would recognise layers in the cosmological scheme. If we say there are infinite series, there can be infinite types of sacrifice. It depends upon our understanding of what the universe is and how the creation process has taken place. Again, I wish to bring to your memories our earlier studies concerning the structure of our personality and its connection with the outer world – namely, that internal to the body we have other types of apparatus like the sense organs, the pranas, the mind and the intellect, which have a tendency to affirm the physical individuality of the person, and affirm also all the attachments and aversions consequent upon this affirmation in respect of the outer world of persons and things. So, one kind of yajna or sacrifice would imply self-control, a restraining of the movement of the senses of the mind and the intellect, because an unrestrained set of senses, uncontrolled mind, and unsubdued intellect would mean a personality that is engulfed in a desire for spatial contact with persons and things outside, while really, persons and things are not outside. The reason for self-control arises because of the fact that the usual perceptions of the senses are erroneous perceptions, because the senses have no other work to do than to din into our minds the externality of the world, the outsideness of things, and the isolation of our self from other people. There is a continuous brainwashing process going on in our relationship to the senses; and we have no other relationship in the world, unfortunately. We are totally sense-ridden, and the world that we live in is a sense world. Our thinking process and our intellection also is conditioned by the knowledge provided to us by means of sense perception. There is a total misfortune descended upon us, as it were, considering the state of affairs in which we are now – socially, physically and psychologically. Socially we are in a misfortune because of a wrong understanding of our connection with other people, and psychologically so, because of our dependence, inwardly also, upon what we know by means of the senses, which is erroneous. So, self-control, which includes sense-control, is also mind-control, intellect-control, reason-control – the total control of one’s own self. The control of one’s self is the essence of yoga. Here a word of explanation may be necessary as to what is meant by control of one’s self. What do we do with ourselves when we try to restrain ourselves? For that we may need to know what we are. This again brings us to the point of the cosmological scheme. We can know, to some extent, what we are, by placing ourselves in the cosmological scheme, and we do not require instruction of any kind in this context, because the moment we know how we have come, we can also know where we are sitting. Our duties become explicit and perspicacious the moment we know our condition and the atmosphere in which we are living. The control of one’s self – sense-restraint, self-control – is the restraint of consciousness, finally; it has little to do with our physical limbs. It is not tightening the legs, plugging the ears or closing the eyes physically speaking, because our joys and sorrows are the outcomes of a movement of a consciousness in a particular way. Thoughts are joys and sorrows; so joys and sorrows are nothing but thought processes, which is another way of saying the whirling of consciousness in a particular manner. Our individualised consciousness, for the purpose of easy understanding – we may identify it with our mind in a more generalised sense – this individualised consciousness is the principle of the affirmation of individuality. The ego, the intellect, the reason, and what we think we are at the present moment – all these are inseparable from this type of activity of consciousness. Thus, self-control would mean a bringing back of the surging individual consciousness in the direction of external things, and enabling it to settle in its own self. This is the whole yoga of Patanjali, for instance, which summarises in two sutras – yogaś citta vṛtti nirodhaḥ and tadā draṣṭuḥ svarūpe avasthānam (Y.S. 1.2-3): “The restraint of the mind is yoga, and then there is establishment of self in its own self.” Here is the whole of yoga in two sentences. Now, the establishment of consciousness in its own self is simultaneous with and inseparable from the restraint of consciousness from its movement in the direction of objects; and vice-versa – the restraint of consciousness in its movement in this form would be a movement in the other direction, for establishment in its own self. Every perception involves a degree of loss of self-consciousness. Whether we love a thing or hate a thing, we have lost ourselves in that measure and to that degree. An amount of ourselves, a quantum of our personality, moves out of itself towards that which we like or hate, and to that extent, we are weakened. One who loves or hates is a weak person, because of the fact that some part of one’s self is borne in the direction of that which is liked or hated. So to strengthen one’s mind for the purpose of higher concentration, to free one’s self from this weakness that has arisen on account of love and hatred, one has to bring the mind or consciousness back from that centre, which is the source of its like or dislike, and then there is a rejuvenation of ourselves. We feel an inner strength arising from a source unknown, due to the mere fact of our coming back to our own selves. Mostly, we are not in our own selves – we are other than what we are. This being other than what we are is the malady of life – we are always conscious of somebody else. There is no other work for us except to be aware that others are and to deal with others – with other people and other things. This so-called ‘otherness’ harasses us so much that we seem to be living in a world of destruction, death – mrityuloka as it is called – and nothing can be worse than this condition of ours. To be brooding over what is not there, and to be totally oblivious of what is there, seems to be the great business of this world. That things are not totally outside us is obliterated from our consciousness by the vehemence of this surge of ourselves in the direction of things. Yajna or sacrifice as yoga or self-control implies therefore an inner training, a sort of educational activity going on inside, enlightenment as it is, by which we become filled with strength with our inward bond with things – not as the senses tell us, but as things really stand. The world of sense-perception is conditioned by space-time and the various categories of the psychological process; while the thing, the person, the being, the substance as it is in itself, is behind this curtain of space-time. Our real being also is behind this curtain of the psycho-physical individuality. Thus we are living in a phenomenal world, both subjectively and objectively. The thing-in-itself, as they say, the substance as such, eludes the grasp of this phenomenal process – thus no man can see God, and the intellect of man is not fit enough to contact reality. Unless we develop a mechanism within our own selves to go deeper into this large area of phenomenality – subjectively as well as objectively – the plumbing into one’s own self is also the plumbing through space and time. Modern science says the inward, subjective, subatomic philosophy of quantum theory is identical with the spatio-temporal theory of relativity – Tat tvam asi: That is this and this is That. The inward depth is also the outward plumbing of the abyss of space and time. The deeper we go inwardly, simultaneously there is a going deep into the outer cosmos – and vice-versa, the plumbing into the cosmos objectively would also imply a going deep into one’s own self. Knowledge of the self is the knowledge of the universe, and the knowledge of the universe is the knowledge of the self. Atman is Brahman. This is a profound philosophy that is hidden behind the performance of sacrifice, self-control, the practice of yoga, the control of senses, the restraint of the mind and the stabilising of the intellect and the reason. We have to perform a double process – sometimes mentioned in the Bhagavadgita and also in Patanjali – of vairagya and abhyasa, a dual action of withdrawal and union. The performance of this dual function may be said to be a simultaneous action taking place, as recovering from illness is also the regaining of health and the going away of night is the coming in of day. There is no temporal successiveness in these processes; they happen to be a simultaneous occurrence. Thus, the vairagya that we speak of in yoga, the dissociation of consciousness from erroneous thinking and contact, is simultaneously a concentration of consciousness on that which lies above itself – the lower self concentrates itself on the higher. Now I am coming to that point as to what the lower self is and what the higher Self is. The lower self is that state of consciousness which is conditioned by the urge in the direction of objects. The higher Self is that which is the condition of freedom, attained by even a single step taken by this involved consciousness in the direction of disentanglement with objects. Thus every ascent is a regaining of one’s Self, and an asset on the side of strengthening of one’s personality. Vairagya and abhyasa mean detachment and communion. Here, many people may get misguided due to the difficulty in understanding the true meaning of these terms, vairagya and abhyasa – renunciation, abrogation, detachment or non-attachment, going together with concentration, meditation, etc. We have to correctly understand what detachment means in order to know what communion is; and the whole of yoga is this much. If we commit an initial error, then we would be piling error over error in our subsequent actions or performances. Thus, we have to be vigilant at the very beginning. Detachment is a success that we achieve in freeing our consciousness from involvement in any kind of objectivity – whether it is the form of intense liking or intense dislike, or finally even in the complacency that things really are outside. The initial step or stage in self-control would require us to free ourselves from emotional involvements, either in the form of intense like or intense dislike. But even if we are emotionally free and there is no great passion for things either positively or negatively, we may yet be unfit for the higher requirements in yoga. A mere good man need not necessarily be a fit person for yoga, because while goodness is a great thing indeed, a highly valued thing, it is itself not sufficient because yoga is super-ethical – it goes beyond the morality of mankind. It is not merely goodness, charitableness and a humanitarian feeling, though all these things are wonderful in themselves. So, when there is a freedom achieved to some extent from emotional involvements in the form of love and hatred, we might have attained a great thing indeed – it is a very important success – but yoga is something deeper and more difficult to grasp because, as we make a distinction between abnormal psychology and general psychology or rather, the psychoanalytical process and the study of ordinary psychological functions, we may have to make a distinction between two types of involvement of the mind in objectivity – the one emotional and the other perceptional. Emotional involvements are studied in psychoanalysis, sometimes known as ‘abnormal psychology’. By a deep understanding of our own self, we may be a healthy person psychically, and psychoanalytically we are perfectly hale and robust. But from the point of view of yoga, we may still be an abnormal person – because abnormality does not necessarily mean being a psychoanalytic patient. There can be a ‘metaphysical error’ as philosophers would put it, apart from a mere social, political or emotional mistake that we commit. Here it is that yoga goes beyond mere human ways of thinking, much less social and political ways. It is a cosmic way of envisaging everything, which will inject a sort of shock into us. We may begin to shudder even to think of the possibility of there being such a way of encounter with things, and this is the reason why sometimes we feel tremor in the body when we go deep into meditation – a shock which the pranas receive by the impact of the mind upon them, due to the intensity of our concentration on a supernormal level, which goes beyond ordinary human thinking. So even if we are emotionally free and a good individual indeed, well adored and respected in humanity, we may not be prepared for yoga; because yoga is a preparation to embrace a reality, which is not necessarily a human world. This is also touched upon, pithily, in some of the aphorisms of Patanjali, which is not my subject at present – I am concerned with the Bhagavadgita. So, coming to the point of yajna, sacrifice, self-control, we seem to conclude that every sacrifice which is true to its spirit involves a metaphysical injection that we give to the psychological process of the mind, a spiritual adventure more than any other kind of human activity or a religious routine. We ascend into a supernormal degree of comprehension in our adventure of vairagya and abhyasa – withdrawal and union. From what do we withdraw ourselves, and with what do we commune ourselves? The withdrawal, as I mentioned, is not from the substance of the persons and things or the five elements, but from the way, the manner in which they are perceived by the senses, the mind and the intellect. Our opinion about things is what is important, rather than the things themselves. Our understanding is what is our concern, and not what we are understanding – the thing as such. The world, physically speaking, is not so much our concern in yoga as the way in which we are understanding it, and the manner in which we react to it. Thus the process of vairagya, or detachment, is more a psychological activity rather than a physical performance. It is something that is happening inside the mind. So we can detach ourselves from things even in the midst of things. Even in the thick of the bustle of people and the noises of the world, we can be detached, because the bustle and the haste, the movement and the noise are not the things that trouble us; the trouble arises from our reaction to them. The world is what it was, and perhaps it will be what it was – nobody can change it, and perhaps there is no need to change it, but there is a necessity to change our understanding of it. It is possible to be free from concern with the external events in the world by a modification or an amendment of our outlook or perspective in life, even in the midst of thick activity. Here is the principle of karma yoga coming again: in the midst of intense activity one can be in a state of deep communion with the Ultimate Reality because of the fact that the mind is in the state of vairagya – completely withdrawn from erroneous associations with the events taking place with persons, with things, with activities. On the other hand, one may be at the top of Mount Everest, yet one may be involved in the world process. The thick of the jungle is not necessarily a safe place for the practice of yoga, because the absence of the presence of things, though it is an important thing indeed, is secondary considering our attitude toward them. A deeply involved person may be involved even in the thickest forest – and an inwardly detached person may be detached even in the thick street of a large city. If we are honestly intent upon achieving true success in what is called ‘yoga’, we should not merely pat ourselves on the back and imagine that we are in a state of yoga or religious activity merely because it appears to be so, and people also say so. People may say anything – the saying of the people is no matter with us; it is another thing altogether that worries us and perhaps is our concern. So, the yoga, the sacrifice – which is control of the senses, restraint of the mind, and the stabilising of the reasoning process, which is the yajna, the various types of yajna mentioned in the fourth chapter: prana, manas, indriya etc. mentioned there – all these suggest a single action on the part of our consciousness, namely an awakening into a higher Self. We may wonder why we should go on using the word ‘Self’ again and again, as if there is nothing else and no other word will connote what is our intention. The word ‘Self’ is a very important thing, because it suggests the true nature of things. We are not likely to understand the meaning of it because we are accustomed to identify self with our personality: ‘yourself’, ‘ myself’, ‘himself’, ‘herself’, ‘itself’. These grammatical words that we use suggest a wrong meaning of the term ‘Self’. Self does not mean a person or a thing, though it is associated with a description of persons and things, yourself and others. The word ‘Self’ actually means the non-objective status occupied by everything in the world. Here is a sentence on which we have to bestow deep thought. A non-objective status which everyone enjoys and everything enjoys – this is called the Self. The Self is that which cannot be externalised, cannot be objectified, cannot become other than what it is; it cannot know itself as an ‘other’. It is not an ‘other’ – it is just what it is. The real ‘you’ or the ‘I’ is what we call the ‘Self’. This ‘I’ cannot become a ‘you’, a ‘he’, ‘she’, ‘it’ – it is just what it is. Inasmuch as this is the condition of everyone and everything, in a way we may say the whole universe is just the Self. The whole universe is a Self, only to be understood in its proper significance. If the whole universe is a Self and it cannot be objectified, because a Self is a non-objectified status, it would mean the universe is an intense self-consciousness; actually, what you call God is nothing but this. It is a highly enhanced condition of universal self-consciousness. This Self, which is principally and primarily a universal being, gets conditioned, by degrees, into lower forms of experience, until it descends into our personality-consciousness of the so-called physical ‘I’, the physical ‘you’, the physical ‘it’. Thus it is self-control – I am coming to the point again – self-control means the restraining of the lower experience of the self by uniting it with the higher experience of its own Self. It is not a communion with somebody else. You are communing with your own self only in a larger, pervasive form than the condition in which you are at present. Your connectedness with things ascends in a series of larger pervasiveness until it reaches the apex of this pervasiveness in God-consciousness or Universal-realisation. So, self-control begins with a little action of restraining the senses, and then becomes wider and wider, by degrees. These are the samapattis or samadhis mentioned in the sutras of Patanjali. These are the seven stages of knowledge. These are the communes attained with the levels of being, the realms of consciousness, the planes, etc. – these are the forms of Self. Gradually we get united with them until we become wider and wider, deeper and deeper, heavier and heavier, more and more comprises us, and nearer and nearer to our own self than we are now. Now we are far away from us. What a pity, we are far from our own selves. In the sense we are not this self we are thinking ourselves to be, as conditioned by this body; there is a larger kingdom in which we are residing, even now, from which we are apparently exiled into this grossness of the prison-house of this body consciousness. These are the fundamentals, and this is the background of all forms of self-control, which is the final meaning of any form of sacrifice – yajna. [With deep gratitude to Swamiji] Read Original here
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The Satyameva Dialogues

[The Satyameva Dialogues consist of a series of recorded and transcribed conversations between Sri Manu and Acharya Nirankar. Acharya Nirankar is a practitioner and teacher of Vedanta; Sri Manu likes to regard himself as a seeker of Truth and studies Vedanta.   These conversations are spread over many months, reflecting many moods and thoughts. We have tried to retain, as far as editorially possible, the original bhava and flavor of the conversations. — Editors.] Dialogue 2: Yajna M: You had once said that there are two paths of ascension by which one can attain to the supreme Self — by jnana and by yajna. Jnana, as I understand, Acharyaji, is attained through a relentless pursuit of the highest truth, by intense and profound self-enquiry and contemplation, by constant and unbroken dwelling on Krishna as one’s inmost Self. As a student of Vedanta, I understand well the path of jnana. But what, indeed, is the path of yajna? Pray, elucidate, Acharyaji! AN: Yajna, simply, is that by which the lower self is raised to the supreme Self, purushottama, and by which we grow into oneness with it. The idea of yajna runs deep through the Gita, and indeed, the whole of the Vedic dharma, and is regarded by many as the necessary adhara for the dharmic life. It is through sacrifice, the seers declare, that one attains to the nectar of Immortality. Sri Krishna himself declares to Arjuna — they who enjoy the nectar of immortality left over from the Sacrifice attain to the eternal Brahman. [1] M: Is this yajna a symbolical offering of self to the Divine? A giving up of the lower life for the higher? AN: Yajna is sacrifice in the sense of consecration, not giving up, renouncing – to make sacred, to dedicate to the highest within us. Born mortal, it is by yajna that we raise ourselves to godhead, to divinity — the rahasya guhyam of the Gita, the progressive transformation, and restoration, of the human to the divine through sacrifice and consecration.  M: Restoration? AN: Because this ‘transformation’ is not a change into something new or different but a restoration of the original, the true. Think of the metamorphosis of the caterpillar into a butterfly: it seems that the butterfly is very different from the caterpillar but it is not; the butterfly was always there, embedded, in the caterpillar’s DNA. Likewise, the divine is embedded in our human DNA. The yajna is the process through which the divine emerges from the human! M: So, the outer ceremonial ‘sacrifice’ practiced in Hindu dharma symbolizes this inner process?   AN: True. The external sacrifice is symbolical – the symbols reveal the inner or yogic process to the outer eye. To give you just one example, the ghee that one pours as oblation into the sacred fire represents the illumined mind, the power of Indra, so crucial to the process of transformation. So you see, without an understanding of the symbology, the external will have no real meaning and will look like mere ritualism and superstition.  M: Which is how many of us so-called modern intellectuals see it! AN: Which is unfortunate. M: So, how does one begin this inner yajna Acharyaji? AN: As Krishna himself says, with the offering of the self to the Self — the lower, mortal self gives itself up to the higher, immortal Self which is Ishwara, the true Purusha. It is only by ‘sacrificing’ the lower ego-self to the higher divine Self that one will attain to the status of the Divine. M: What does this ‘lower’ and ‘higher’ exactly mean, Acharyaji?  AN: When one’s consciousness is limited to the sense-mind and identified with the namarupa,[2] and when it is subject to the forces of nature, moved by the gunas of prakriti, then it is known as the lower self. And when the consciousness is liberated from its limitations, from the forces and the gunas of prakriti, when it is identified with the Purusha, or Ishvara, then it is known as the higher Self. Purushottama is the highest Self of all, and one can attain to that Purushottama when the consciousness is perfectly identified with the supreme Ishvara, Sri Krishna, seated in the psychic heart. But for all this, a certain degree of purification is needed, a fundamental suddhi. One must first give up all that one considers or believes to be one’s own, all that one possesses. But then, that is the first ahuti [3] only. One quickly realizes that renouncing objects and relations that one possesses is pointless if one does not renounce possessiveness itself, that deep-seated idea of me and mine, mamatva. So the deeper ahuti that must follow is of possessiveness itself, of mamatva, of the me and mine.  But how is one to purify oneself of possessiveness, of mine-ness, without first getting rid of the idea of ‘me’? And here is the crux of the matter: the sense of a personal self, a ‘Me’, an adamant and almost inherent sense of being somebody – this is the root of all sense of possessing and belonging.  M: And this ‘sense of personal self’ is our identification with mind and body, is it not? AN: Yes, that it is.  M: And where is the source of the identification, Sir?  AN: For me, it was in the prana – the feelings, the life force, the vital being. It is there that I found the most stubborn knots of personal identification and identity. It was in my deepest feelings and volition that I found the seat of my ahambhava. [4] M: And I always thought that the source of identity was in the mind, the buddhi! AN: Maybe that’s true for some, but I speak here of my own experience. Even when I had largely managed to purify myself of the ego in the buddhi and the chitta, it remained stubbornly sticking to the feelings, refusing to budge. I discovered within myself that the essential ego-sense is almost inseparable from the prana and the feelings. Trying to get out of the ego in the prana was like trying to get out of my skin.  M: You once spoke of detachment as the master key. AN: Detachment, yes; but more than detachment, identification with Krishna seems to be the master key. You see, all our difficulties arise from identification with the mind-body-ego complex, the namarupa, and, therefore, it would seem that the master key would be to turn the identification around, from namarupa to that which is behind namarupa, and supporting all namarupa. M: Ishvara? AN: Exactly. Sri Krishna gives us two mahavakyas [5] in the Gita — ahamatma sarvabhutayeshayasthita:[6] which means that  I am the Self, atman, abiding within all beings; and ishvarah sarva-bhutanam hrid-desherjuna tishthati,[7] which means that Ishvara, Sri Krishna himself, resides in the hearts of all living beings. The import of these statements is perfectly clear: that Ishvara, Sri Krishna himself, resides in us as our inmost self, the atman, and thus, it is the atman that we must identify with, it is the atman that is our true self, the true person that we are. The external namarupa, the ego, is a shell – why identify with the shell when we can identify, and eventually unite, with the kernel, the true self? M: In a practical sense, Acharyaji, how does one identify with Krishna? After all, the sense of being myself is not so easy to shake off, is it?  AN: One has to understand this mystery of identification. M: As Sri Ramana used to ask – who is identifying, and with whom? And who is questioning?  AN: One has to enter deep into the phenomenon. It is not as difficult as it may seem. What is needed is the spirit of enquiry, atma vichara. Find out who is the one conscious in our consciousness, who is the knower, the experiencer? It’s all here, [Acharyaji points to his heart] the whole mystery is here, to be unravelled. All you need is silence of mind, na kinchidapi chintayet – no activity of mind, just awareness all the time, who’s thinking, who is aware?  M: Easier said, Acharyaji! For this kind of deep atma vichara, one needs equally deep sraddha and samarpan. Yes, Krishna says that he is residing in us as our own inmost self, but how many of us worldly beings can live that as the truth of our existence? AN: I agree: there is no point if one cannot live these things; mere theoretical knowledge is of no use. M: How does one get the samarpan, Acharyaji? AN: [After a long pause] Samarpan comes when the yogi sees through the mithya of the ego, when the yogi understands that the individual is non-real, that behind all seeming individuality is the oneness of Ishvara. Till then, samarpan, in its true sense, does not come. What one can have is a mental bhava of surrender but the real thing happens when the avidya of separative existence drops.  M: There is no separative existence, no real ego? AN: No, the ego or separative existence is mithya — that which appears to be there but is not really there, like a mirage. M: And what produces this mithya? AN: What produces a mirage? M: It’s an optical illusion, Sir. AN: So is mithya. Actually, an illusion of the outward-going senses. When one learns to draw the senses into the buddhi, and the buddhi into the chaitanya,[8] the mithya disappears, and one then sees the true as true, the appearance as appearance, the false as false – then there is no confusion, the whole thing becomes crystal clear in one’s antar drishti. [9] M: So, if I understand correctly, samarpan is possible only to the enlightened, one who has gotten rid of avidya? AN: If all you know and live is the ego, why will you surrender? Some kind of working enlightenment is necessary, Sir: enough to know that the ego is mithya, and so is this world of namarupa. M: But enlightenment is always of the higher buddhi in us, isn’t it, while samarpan can also be a bhava of the heart?  AN: Certainly; but there is no real division between what you call the heart’s bhava and the buddhi’s understanding. The deeper and more long-lasting bhava always arises from the buddhi’s understanding. What the buddhi does not, or cannot, understand, the heart cannot live or follow. When the mind’s knowing and the heart’s bhava converge, you have something of the sraddha and samarpan that are needed – the psychic bhava in the heart and the psychic knowing in the buddhi. M: Is there a process to speed up all this, Sir? The psychic seems too far for most of us. AN: There is no single process – fortunately – and no hard and fast rules. Yoga is an inner unfolding, and much depends on your swabhava! M: And swabhava is given to you, isn’t it? AN: Given? By whom? M: Divine dispensation? Karma? I’m not sure. All I know is that you are born with your swabhava.  AN: What is swabhava? What do you think? M: One’s innate nature? AN: Which is what? The play of the gunas? Or something deeper than all that? M: I would think something deeper, Acharyaji. I don’t think swabhava is acquired through karma or is subject to the play of the gunas.  AN: Swabhava is our spiritual nature; as Sri Aurobindo says, it is the basic stuff of our existence, the spiritual Nature which has become these multiple personalities in the universe. [10] M: But it is unique to each, is it not? I mean, it is not universal… AN: This spiritual nature is one but expresses itself in prakriti variously, multiply, each expression a unique formulation of the Divine in the infinite namarupa of prakriti. It is this divine expression in us that we become, or manifest, as we pass through the experiences of lifetimes. In Sri Aurobindo’s words again, our swabhava is our truth of being which finds expression in our various becoming in the world. M: But swabhava is also related to our outer nature, is it not? To the layers of conditionings, our basic tendencies and habits, we have acquired in this lifetime? AN: The outer person, the namarupa, also has a swabhava: for sure! Everything has a swabhava, even birds and insects. The swabhava of a scorpion, for instance, is to bite. Remember the story? M: Yes, Acharyaji — the scorpion and the sage. AN: But the truth of our being is the swabhava unconditioned by outer forces and circumstances, the suddha swabhava, which is a portion of the Supreme, of Purushottama, Sri Krishna. This divine portion of the Supreme in us is the jivatma. It is in the jivatma that one finds the true swabhava. The namarupa, the outer conditioned personality, is only the shell.  M: This jivatma is the psychic being, Acharyaji? AN: When you are conscious of the psychic, you also become aware of the jivatma. The psychic, as Sri Aurobindo has often said, is the representative of the jivatma behind the outer mind, life and body, behind the namarupa. But these are matters of inner understanding and realization — academic definitions don’t help.  M: So, as I can now see, the yajna of the Gita is our self-sacrifice, the sacrifice of the lower and the outer, to Sri Krishna, our supreme Self, so that all in us is progressively transformed into his consciousness, his divine swabhava. AN: That, indeed, is the supreme purpose, param uddeshya, of our existence. M: And what is the sign, Acharyaji, of the attainment of this param uddeshya? How does one know that one is doing the yajna in the right way, in the right spirit? AN: There are definite inner signs of the fruition, Sir. More and more, one attains to an unshakeable poise of equanimity and equality — samabhava. Nothing within or without disturbs, one is no longer subject to the play of the gunas, of the dualities, the dwandvas. One becomes increasingly udasina — seated above the play of prakriti, above the play of people and personalities, of events and circumstances. One begins to see Sri Krishna’s hand behind all things, all events good or bad or evil, fortunate or unfortunate, pleasant or unpleasant. This whole universe becomes Sri Krishna’s playfield. We see everything as his will and play and we no longer desire this or that outcome, we no longer resist or anticipate: whatever comes, comes from Krishna, whatever goes from us, goes back to Krishna. Life becomes supremely easy, effortless. More and more, we grow desireless, nishkama. Not because desire is a bad thing but because desire is so unnecessary, so useless. We outgrow it, as we outgrow so many of our old human habits and tendencies. 
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Be So Far Away That They Can’t Find You

You should never be here too much; be so far away that they can’t find you, they can’t get at you to shape, to mould. Be so far away, like the mountains, like the unpolluted air; be so far away that you have no parents, no relations, no family, no country; be so far away that you don’t know even where you are. Don’t let them find you; don’t come into contact with them too closely. Keep far away where even you can’t find yourself; keep a distance which can never be crossed over; keep a passage open always through which no one can come. Don’t shut the door for there is no door, only an open, endless passage; if you shut any door, they will be very close to you, then you are lost. Keep far away where their breath can’t reach you and their breath travels very far and very deeply; don’t get contaminated by them, by their word, by their gesture, by their great knowledge; they have great knowledge but be far away from them where even you cannot find yourself. For they are waiting for you, at every corner, in every house to shape you, to mould you, to tear you to pieces and then put you together in their own image. Their gods, the little ones and the big ones, are the images of themselves, carved by their own minds or by their own hands. They are waiting for you, the churchman and the Communist, the believer and the non-believer, for they are both the same; they think they are different but they are not for they both brainwash you, till you are of them, till you repeat their words, till you worship their saints, the ancient and the recent; they have armies for their gods and for their countries and they are experts in killing. Keep far away but they are waiting for you, the educator and the businessman; one trains you for the others to conform to the demands of their society, which is a deadly thing; they will make you into a scientist, into an engineer, into an expert of almost anything from cooking to architecture to philosophy. They have a thing called society and family: these two are their real gods, the net in which you will be entangled. Keep far, far away; they are waiting for you, the politician and the reformer; the one drags you down into the gutter and then the other reforms you; they juggle with words and you will be lost in their wilderness. Keep far away; they are waiting for you, the experts in god and the bomb-throwers: the one will convince you and the other [show you] how to kill; there are so many ways to find god and so many, many ways to kill. But besides all these, there are hoards of others to tell you what to do and what not to do; keep away from all of them, so far away that you cannot find yourself or any other. You too would like to play with all of them who are waiting for you but then the play becomes so complicated and entertaining that you will be lost. You should never be here too much, be so far away that even you cannot find yourself. With deep gratitude to J. Krishnamurti.
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Achieving The State of Cosmic Experience

The condition of the vritti, or the particular modification of the mind in respect of objects, is the condition of our life. Whatever the vrittis are, that we are. We are almost inseparable from the situations through which our mind passes because life is experience, and experience is associated so intimately with the stages and states of our mind that, we may say, mind is life and life is mind. If this is the fact, the mind is, again, inseparable from its constituents, and these constituents of the mind are known as the vrittis. Thus, by a gradual reduction to the minimum of the processes involved in our life as a whole, we conclude that the modifications of the mind are an explanation of everything. Now, what are these modifications? As we studied earlier, they are certain transformations which the mind undergoes on account of stimuli which it receives from outside. The term ‘object’ that we use here in yoga psychology has a peculiar significance that is slightly different from the commonsense definition of it. In this psychology of yoga, the object before the mind or before the psyche is not necessarily something physical outside, but it is any kind of form that is presented to the mind. The object is better put as ‘form’ rather than any kind of concrete substance. The shape presented before the mental operation is its object. Thus, the object of the mind may be external or it can be purely internal. A concept also is an object. Just as when a physical object is perceived it casts the mind into the mould of that particular form of the object, in the same way, when a thought arises in the mind, the mind gets cast into the mould of even that concept. So the vritti of the mind studied in yoga is that modification of the mind into which it is cast by either an external perception of a physical object or by purely the rise of a concept within itself. We will not go into the question of how concepts arise in the mind, as that is not our subject today. Suffice it to say that whenever an idea, concept or notion arises in the mind, that becomes an object for the mind. The mind temporarily is cast into the formation or the mould of that concept, and there is a vritti even in internal perception. Even if we close all our sensory avenues, shut our eyes and plug our ears and have no sensations outside, there can be an object for the mind, which is samsara or existence binding us to temporal life even if our senses are not operating. Hence, the yoga psychology tells us that the study of the mind is a more difficult task than merely an analysis of sensory perception. Though it is true that the mind depends upon the senses for its knowledge, it does not always depend on sensory activity for undergoing any transformation into a vritti. It is not true that the vritti of the mind takes place only when there is sensory perception. Even a mere thought can cause a vritti. Concisely speaking, a vritti is any kind of modification of the mind into a particular form. What is a form? The form which we call an object for the purpose of our study here is a location of consciousness. It is the tethering of our thoughts into a particular spot, the fixing of our attention on a particular notion in terms of space and time. The form is inseparable from the space-time concept. As a matter of fact, there is no form without space-time, and the very idea of the operation of a limiting adjunct such as space-time is the determining factor of any form. The mind cannot escape transforming itself into vrittis under any circumstance. Even if there be no physical objects, it will be in samsara; it will be in a process of vritti. Therefore, the study of yoga is a very deep-rooted subject which is not merely a theoretical formation of ideas concerning the outer structure of objects, but is primarily a study of the inner structure of the mind. We may wonder why yoga is so concerned with the mind rather than with objects, while the world is such a vast reservoir of physical objects. The philosophy of yoga itself is the explanation, through which we have passed sometime back. It is not the objects of the world that are our concern. This is the great dictum of Yoga, Sankhya and Vedanta. We are not to concern ourselves with the things of the world so much as what happens inside us. Our experiences are our concern, not the objects outside. The objects are merely agents in creating a stimulus in our mind, but what sort of stimulus will be created within us depends upon our makeup. This means that the manner in which we react to the presence of an object outside is our concern, and this not entirely dependent on the nature of things. Things stimulate the mind, it is true, and create a vritti in the mind, but what sort of formation or vritti is created in the mind depends upon the stage of evolution of the mind. A particular word that is uttered, a single sentence that is spoken may create different senses and emotions in different people’s minds according to the way in which they understand them and the meaning that it conveys to them. The meaning that the objects convey to the mind is thus the factor that determines the character of the formation of the mind into the vritti. What meaning does the world convey to our mind? We now very subtly come from objects to forms, from forms to space-time concepts, and from there to the meaning that the things have for our mind. What is the meaning that we read into things in general when we observe things? That meaning is our form, that is our object, and that is the cause of the vritti. So whatever be the meaning that we read into things in general, that would be our experience, that would be our psychological world, and that would be the subject of yoga. We are happy or unhappy, as the case may be, in accordance with the nature of the reactions the mind sets up in respect of the meaning it reads in the objects of the world. This is why everyone cannot be in the same state of mind, even though a single object may be presented before them. If one uniform object is placed before an audience of a hundred people, it will set up different types of reactions from different minds, so we cannot say that the object as such is wholly the cause of pleasure or pain. Much depends upon the reading of the mind in respect of that object based upon various factors, both of which constitute the mind itself. Thus, the practice of meditation is a study of the relationship of the mind to objects. The study of yoga is not the study of objects, though it began with a study of the structure of things. From this study of the structure of objects in general in the world we came to the study of the mind, and we found that the study of the mind is inseparable from the character or the nature of the relationship that it has with objects. We have thus a threefold nexus of the object, the mind, and its relationship with the object, which is called the granthi in yoga parlance. We have so many granthis or knots in our psychological setup, called Brahma-granthi, Vishnu-granthi, Rudra-granthi, etc. These granthis, or knots, are nothing but the ties into which the mind gets involved in respect of the formation, or vrittis, generated within it. Therefore, yoga psychology is a very complicated subject, and a study of it is a study of everything, for the matter of that, externally as well as internally. Now we come to a very important phase in meditation. You have to recall what you have heard last time, because I am only continuing the subject from where we left earlier; otherwise, it will look entirely new to you. The particular phase of meditation which is so important to the student of yoga is expressed in a very pithy aphorism of yoga: kṣīṇavṛtteḥ abhijātasya iva maṇeḥ grahītṛ grahaṇa grāhyeṣu tatstha tadañjanatā samāpattiḥ (Y.S. 1.41). This is one sutra, or aphorism, which describes the condition of a very high state of meditation. It has a world of meaning in it though the aphorism is so short. All aphorisms are short, no doubt, but they convey a depth of meaning. What happens to the mind when it enters into a deep state of meditation is what is told to us in this sutra, in this aphorism. The literal translation of this aphorism would be: When the mind becomes transparent due to the reduction of the vrittis or transformations of the mind in meditation, the nature of its object gets reflected through it and the character of the object gets so absorbed into the transparent structure of the mind that the mind and the object become inseparable, as the colour of an object brought near a pure crystal gets absorbed into the crystal itself and the colour and the crystal become indistinguishable. This would be the meaning of this aphorism. In the earlier stages of meditation we have to struggle hard to fix our attention on a particular chosen object because the object always remains outside the mind. It will not enter into the mind in any manner whatsoever. Neither will the mind agree to get identified with the object, nor will the object be amenable to this attempt on the part of the meditator. The object and the mind always remain isolated and cut off in every respect, so that the initial stages of meditation consist of struggle and intense effort on the part of the meditator to identify the characters of mind and object. But the state described here is a little different one, and much higher. The difference – or rather, to put it more plainly, the physical separation of the object from the mind in ordinary perception – is due to the fact that the mind has vrittis which are not wholly transparent but are disturbing and also inert, torpid, tamasic. The vrittis are of three kinds: sattvic, rajasic and tamasic. The modification of the mind is, therefore, of a threefold character: it can be transparent, which is called sattvic; it can be distracting, which is called rajasic; or it may be stagnant, which is called tamasic. The vritti that is tamasic is incapable of any action. The mind stands stupid, as it were, knowing nothing, in the state of tamas. It gets confounded, bewildered, and knows not what to do. That condition is the tamas vritti of the mind, which is wholly unsuited for meditation because when the mind is confounded and stands in a state of ignorance, it cannot act. Tamasic vrittis are unsuited for meditation. Nor are the rajasic vrittis wholly conducive because they are distracting, pulling the mind in different directions. When we try to fix the mind in one direction, it is pulled in another direction. This is what we call the rajasic vritti. That particular form of vritti which is conducive to meditation is the sattvic one, which stands still and yet is not confounded or ignorant. It is this sattvic vritti, wherein the rajasic and the tamasic vrittis are reduced to the minimum, though not wholly abolished, does the object get reflected properly. In muddy and shaky water, the sun is not properly reflected. If the water is wholly muddy there will be no reflection at all; this can be compared to the tamasic condition. If the water is shaking too much, we cannot see the sun properly; this is rajasic. But if the water is clear and still, we will see the reflection properly. This is sattvic. Now in this sutra we are told that in an advanced state of concentration of mind the vrittis stand harmonised among themselves; they do not war with one another, and it is in the harmony of the vrittis that there is the possibility of the nature of the object getting reflected. We have to remember that the object, as far as the mind is concerned, that it is actually the form of the object cast into the mind as a picture rather than the existence of the physical object outside. The form of the object so gets absorbed into the vritti that the vritti is the form and the form is the vritti. Here a very indescribable state of satisfaction arises in the mind. When the object stands in unison with the mind, we feel satisfaction inside. This is the satisfaction, this is the joy, this is the ananda or the bliss spoken of in meditation. We are unhappy when our desired object is outside us, when there is bereavement from the object, when the object refuses to come into our possession and be enjoyed by us, or when the object is wholly alien to our nature. Happiness is the union of the object with the subject. Where the two are separate, there is pain; where they are one, there is joy. This state of union does not come quickly. There are various stages through which we have to pass, and we can mention at least three of them. The first stage is isolation, separation, distinction; the second stage is harmony and equilibrium, and the third stage is actual merger or unity. The state of isolation is what we experience ordinarily. Every object is outside us. We have nothing to do with them, and they cannot be said to be our property. We do not possess objects, because they are already outside us. Inasmuch as the objects are outside us, we can lose them at any time, and so we are in a state of insecurity and unhappiness. No one can be happy in the world as long as the objects are outside the mind, and there is no knowing as to what the objects will do to the person, or what will happen. Any catastrophe can break out at any moment. But when things stand in harmony or mutual agreement, there is what we call a good government of things. There is no insecurity or fear because everything is in unison, in harmony. We mutually cooperate with one another and work for a common cause. This is a good society, a good administration. Then we are secure and happy. But there is a higher stage where we need not simply cooperate as if we are different persons. We stand united as a single person. This is humanly impossible to conceive, but this is what yoga achieves. So in this condition of the meditative process, the isolation of the object from the mind ceases, is put an end to, and the relationship of the mind to the object is enhanced in its intensity. There is a very intense consciousness of the object on account of not merely the proximity of the object to the mind but also the qualitative enhancement of the perception. The nature of our knowledge of objects is ordinarily superficial. We do not have a thorough insight into anything in the world. The study of the subjects to which we are introduced in our educational institutions is a gathering up of information about things; it is not really a knowledge of things. That is why with all our knowledge and education we remain unhappy. An educated person need not necessarily be a happy person because happiness is quite different from education and the knowledge that we have of things. This is unfortunate. So we do not have a real knowledge. Though it is said that knowledge is happiness and knowledge is power, we see the reverse is the case. The knowledge that we have does not give us any power, nor are we happy about it. We are miserable with all our qualifications. The reason is that we do not have real knowledge. We have only information of the outer form of things rather than an insight into their real nature. When the object stands outside our ken of perception, we have a life of struggle, hardship, sweating, and insecurity. When there is a proximity of the object to the perceiving subject, namely, the mind, there is a sense of security. “Oh, the thing that I want is coming near me and there is a chance of my getting it.” The harmony between the mind and the object is, therefore, the cause of the sense of security and the freedom from fear and unhappiness. The nature of the object and the nature of the mind contradict each other in the initial stages. They do not agree at first, but later they become similar. They run parallelly like two persons walking together thinking the same thought. This can be given as a sort of example – not two persons walking together fighting with each other, but thinking the same thought and agreeing with each other in every respect. This is a parallel movement of thought and objects. But the third condition, as I said, is humanly inconceivable. It does not take place in ordinary life. It takes place only in supernormal perception. That is the achievement of yoga, the union of the object with the subject. The sutra here cited does not necessarily speak of the union, but of such an intense absorption of oneself with the other that the two remain indistinguishable for practical purposes, like the crystal and the colour of the object brought near it. It is here that the mind has an insight into the nature of the object. This is what they call intuition or direct knowledge, immediate apprehension, and entering of the mind into the object rather than a study of the object by the mind. The mind does not study the object. It enters into the object and partakes of the nature of the object. This is the condition of the mind described in this sutra: kṣīṇavṛtteḥ abhijātasye iva maṇeḥ grahītṛ grahaṇa grāhyeṣu tatstha tadañjanatā samāpattiḥ. Samapatti means the achievement which comes to one in yoga. There grahita, grahana, grahsya, the three terms used here indicating the perceiver, the perceived and the process of perception, come together so that we do not know who is the perceiver, which is the perceived, and where the perceptional process lies. It is like having three connected water tanks on a common level: the water moves from one tank to another because they are on the same level, and we cannot know to or from where the water is actually moving. There is no up and down here, no irreconcilability between the mind and the object. The character of the object has become the character of the mind, and vice versa, so we do not know which is the thinker, which is the thought-of object, and which is the process of thinking. This is the penultimate state of yogic achievement. The mind becomes absolutely calm, undisturbed by the thought of any object. The mind need not think of any object here because it has become the object, assumed the form of the object. That which we wanted has already come to us, so we need not worry about it anymore. We do not worry about an object which is already in our possession, but we are disturbed by that which is outside us and which we would like to have. When the mind assumes this condition and reaches this state of the capacity to absorb the nature of the object into itself, it is endowed with a specific type of power. It is not that it can merely assume the form of any particular object; it can enter into the nature of any object so that it can become omniscient, knowing all things. Though there are millions of objects in the world, their essential structure is the same. Human nature is the same wherever we go. If we study one human being thoroughly, we have studied all human beings. If we know that one grain of rice in a vessel of boiling water is cooked, we know that every grain is cooked. We need not squeeze every grain to know that it is cooked. So the study of one object thoroughly, to the very root, is the study of the whole universe. Therefore, the mastery that the mind acquires or achieves over one object, thoroughly, root and branch, is actually the mastery that it acquires of the whole world. By concentration on a single object, the mind can master the structure of every object in the world because all objects are constituted of the same pattern and, ultimately, of the same substance. The variety we see in the world is a false variety; it is not true. It is like the many kinds of shirts that we have in the shops, all made of the same cotton fibre. Whatever be the colour or the shape or the size or the pattern of the cloth or the shirting, it is all cotton fibre ultimately. We know that very well. So the variety is only a superficial variety; it is not essential. Likewise, the very manifold objects of the world are only an outward variety that is presented before the senses. When we go deeper into their structure we will find they are uniform. So the mind has entered into the object, not merely an object – the object as such in its essential characterisation. Yogic meditation is, thus, an entry into the nature of the object. Ultimately there is only one object before the mind. The whole universe is a single object. The universe is not a variety of different patterns before the mind, but a single object confronting the mind, arousing in itself various kinds of vrittis. Now, the variety of vrittis that arise in the mind is due to the variety of forms that the mind perceives, which is another aspect of the matter. We are unable to recognise the common background of the various objects of the world. We are disturbed by different persons and things because of the difference that we see through the senses and which the mind accepts. If we are to recognise the common basis of these various forms, we would not be disturbed in a variegated fashion. Different things will not disturb us in different ways. The vrittis are manifold in the beginning because of the inability of the mind to see the background of the various forms. It sees variety. ‘A’ is different from ‘B’, ‘B’ is different from ‘C’, and so on; therefore, if ‘A, B, C, D, E’ all are to come and disturb the mind, varieties of emotions and vrittis will arise in the mind. There will be a medley of confusion in thought. So the man of the world is misery incarnate merely because of the fact he finds himself in a world of various different sources of distraction because he has not yet gone into the depth of things. In the higher form of meditation where this variety is boiled down to a harmony, as I mentioned, the mind is more secure and happy. But when it finds that the object before it is only one, the whole prakriti or the whole universe, it has one vritti before it. In deeper forms of meditation we have only one object, not because we have chosen one object out of many but because there is really only one object, so the question of choosing one from the many does not arise. Then there will be a single vritti in the mind. That single vritti is that of the single object. This is a state which cannot ordinarily be reached by people. I cannot say that any one of us is in this condition of meditation. This is only an ideal that is placed before us which we have to reach, and which will be the solution of all our problems. We are still in a stage of conflict between the mind and the object. The character of the object is different from the character of the mind, and therefore, every day we have to struggle with our mind so that it may fix its attention on the object. This state of insight is very far from us, but that is the goal to which we are heading. Without reaching this state, our questions will not finally be answered and our goal cannot be said to have been achieved. Now I am coming to a single object, not many objects, which is the world taken as a whole. The more we approach an object, the more we approximate our nature to that of the object; the greater is our proximity to the object, the greater is the energy that we receive from the object. The weakness of our personality is due to a conflict between mind and object – as psychologists would tell us, the conflict with reality. The conflict or the irreconcilability of the mind with the object is the cause of the daily struggle of life, and this struggle weakens our psychological system. We need not actually fight with hands and feet in order to have this struggle. We may be sitting quietly in our room and yet we may be struggling in our thoughts to reconcile ourselves to the atmosphere outside. It is the difficulty involved in this irreconcilability of ourselves with the world outside that is the cause of the trouble and the depletion of energy, the weakness of our system and our unhappiness in general. The yoga psychology, as I mentioned, is far more general than the usual themes of our psychological systems. The thought of an object is a conflict, according to yoga. The conflict is not merely the friction that physically takes place between two persons and things, but it is a disturbance caused in the mind by the presence of an object in front. As the radar system can get disturbed by the proximity of an object coming near it though the object may not dash upon the radar, the mind gets disturbed by the presence of the object, by the consciousness of the object, even if the object is far away physically. The conflict between the mind and the object, therefore, is a state of consciousness. The consciousness of an object is the opposite of the yoga consciousness. In yoga, there is no consciousness of an object, but consciousness as the object. The presence of the object, therefore, is the reason for the disturbance of the mind and the cause of conflict. The object should cease to be an alien or a foreign element to the consciousness. This is the final objective of yoga meditation. The moment we become aware of an object outside us, we have started the battle. The war starts in our mind, in our consciousness, as soon as we become aware of a world outside. From the moment we get up in the morning till we go to sleep at night, we are in a state of warfare with the world from the point of view of yoga psychology. We cannot be happy for a single moment of the day, however much we may struggle. As long as the army is there arrayed in front of us, we cannot be happy. Either the army has to vanish, or we have to make peace with it. If they are up in arms in front of us, how can we be happy? The philosophy behind the psychology of yoga, which we have studied previously, will tell us how the unity of the object with the perceiving consciousness becomes the source of perfection, power and happiness. The universe is ultimately not bifurcated into the subject and the object. The world has no inside and outside. It has no within and without. It has no seer and seen. From the point of view of the universe taken as a whole, there is no such thing as a seer isolated from the seen. Which is the seer and which is the seen in the world? From the point of view of a particular unit of individuality, there can be the seer from its own point of view and the seen from the other’s point of view. But here we study reality, not mere individuality. Nature, the universe, prakriti, has no distinction of drasta and drishya, seer and seen. Thus, the difference that we create in our perception as the seer and the seen is false, and because of the false state of consciousness in which we are, we live an unnatural kind of life. Nature does not help us. The perfection that is in nature is outside us. Perfection is unity, harmony, whereas imperfection is conflict, isolation, separation. We are talking in a different style and a new kind of language altogether when we speak of psychology of yoga. We are not speaking the ordinary tongue or the usual grammar of our language. These terms, these ideas, these concepts and this subject is entirely novel and has a new connotation altogether. The nature of the object, the nature of perception, and the nature of the subject may all be grammatically intelligible to us, but their connotation is much deeper than the dictionary meaning. So in yoga meditation we are rising into a wider expanse of our consciousness. The location of an object to a pinpointed spot in space and time is the cause of the limitation of consciousness. We remain limited to a particular form of an object on account of our assumption that the object is only in one place, so we have no knowledge of other things. We have this attitude in respect of our own body also. Our consciousness is lodged in this body, and we are under the notion that it is inside the body and there is nothing outside. That is why we are so fond of this body, limiting our reality to the body alone while regarding everything else as auxiliary to the satisfactions of our body. But consciousness cannot be so limited. By nature, consciousness is unlimited, and to limit it to the body or to any particular object is to introduce a kind of unnaturalness to it. This is called vritti. The limitation of consciousness to a particular form, either of an object outside or of one’s own body, is to make the mind assume a form, or a vritti. When the vritti diminishes in content and number, the limitation of consciousness is also slowly lifted up, and vice versa. When we delimit consciousness by the study of the nature of the form that has caused the vritti in a greater profundity, the limitation is slowly lifted up and consciousness assumes a gradually widening expanse; then, in the higher forms of meditation, there is only one object, which is the universe, and consciousness becomes all pervading. The consciousness is limited to that extent, as is the nature of the object. When the object is expanded, lifted above the smaller limitations of isolated things, consciousness also gets equally expanded so that the wider is the object, the wider also is the consciousness, and in the widest form of the object, which is the universe or prakriti taken in its completeness, consciousness becomes sarvato mukha, all-formed, all-faced, omniscient. This is the state described in this sutra cited just now: kṣīṇavṛtteḥ abhijātasye iva maṇeḥ grahītṛ grahaṇa grāhyeṣu tatstha tadañjanatā samāpattiḥ. Here, in this condition, all seeds of suffering get dried up. We will not anymore be suffering in this world. We will always be happy under every circumstance because all circumstances cease to be alien features to the mind. They become absorbed into the mind so that the mind knows how to handle them, whatever they be. This is mastery over things. The mind becomes happy because of the mastery it acquires over things in general. It becomes a master of everything, every situation, every object. It can handle anything with ease because here the object does not remain outside the mind. The seeds or samskaras of pain and suffering cease to be. There is thus an indescribable joy. It is not the joy of introversion or isolation of the mind like the artificial joy that we may feel inside our house when we are free from the teeth of a tiger in a jungle. If we are pursued by a tiger, we may run gasping into our house and feel happy because we are safe, but this is not the sort of happiness that yoga bestows upon us. The tiger is still in the jungle and if we go there, it will attack us again. But here the tiger has gone. It has become our own friend. So there is a difference between two kinds of happiness. Escape from the enemy is one kind of happiness, but the enemy becoming our own friend is a different kind of happiness. It is larger and more permanent. So in yoga happiness, yoga delight, we are not escaping from an enemy. It is not introversion of the mind from reality, but the absorption of reality into the mind so that there is no further cause of unhappiness, no more attack from outside factors. Wonderful is this condition. This state of affairs, this condition of concentration of mind does not always come to us. It comes very rarely, we do not know how. Some say it is by the grace of God. Some say it is by the fructification of our previous karmas. Sometimes it looks like a miracle. Whatever it is, our thoughts are feeble when they confront this problem. A wonder takes place. All this is a wonder, finally. We do not know what it is and how it is. As the Upanishads and the Gita tell us: āścaryavat paśyati kaścid enam (BG 2.29). We have to look on it as a miracle. Our whole life is a miracle. It is not a mathematical equation or a logical deduction. In this condition we are in a state of blessedness on account of the unification of the objective nature with the subjective, and consciousness tending towards the universal. The three stages of the mind are sarvarthata, ekagrata and ekatva. Sarvarthata is multi-faced activity of the mind in a state of distraction. Ekagrata is the state of mind where it stands in unison with the object, and ekatva is merger into the object. All that is the power of the cosmos enters the consciousness here. Purusha and prakriti become one. The world and consciousness do not anymore stand separate. The resources and the strengths that we have in nature become a part of consciousness, and consciousness becomes powerful, endowed with all the resources of nature. Bodily and psychologically we become stronger. While yoga gives us this grand description of the goal, it also gives us a caution and a warning: Do not think that this is easy of attainment. A very humorous but pertinent analogy of Gaurapada, the great Grand-guru of Acharya Sankara, says, “Hard is this control of the mind like the emptying of the ocean with a blade of grass.” How can you empty the ocean with a blade of grass? How many years will it take? Some such difficulty is this difficulty in controlling the mind. Do not think that it is your mind and, therefore, you can do anything with it. Rather, you belong to it instead of its belonging to you. It will make you dance to its tune. Yoga states come and go, and therefore, you have to practise meditation every day. You should not miss even one day. If a single day is missed, the thread of concentration breaks, and to bring it again to that state is very difficult. The sutra of the yoga system also gives us another advice in this connection, that not only do we have to practise yoga incessantly for a long period, but also with great love, ardour, affection and longing for it. We must long for yoga as we love our own child. As a mother loves her child or the child loves its mother, we have to love yoga. It should be impossible for us to live without it. That longing is the precondition of success in yoga. If we weep for it and cry for it and cannot live without it, it will come because mumukshutva, or spiritual longing, is regarded ultimately as the final condition of success in yoga. While we may have all qualifications, such as the intellectual, the ethical and even the moral to some extent, if this yearning for it is not there, our heart is tending in some other direction, then success will not come. Thus, we are given a practical suggestion and a hint from all aspects of the matter as to how we can deal with our environment, which is our object in yoga, how the conflict with it can cease and become a cooperation or a harmony, and how this harmony can deepen itself further and become a unification, a veritable insight into the nature of things. This is what is usually called the state of samadhi, which means equilibrium of consciousness. When the nature of the object and that of consciousness stand in a state of equilibrium, it is samadhi. When they are opposed to each other, it is perception. That is the difference. They must have a state of harmony with each other and become one with each other. This is the state of cosmic experience where we do not live anymore as an individual or a human being. We are no more a person, and we will want nothing. The question of want does not arise. The word itself becomes meaningless there. This is the state of being, satta, of consciousness in a state of deep meditation of yoga. [With deep gratitude to Swamiji] Read original here
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Disconnect And Start Appreciating Life

In a world where everyone is using “smart” technology, just how smart is that? It’s time to reduce the negative effects of technology and make safer, and smarter choices — putting your life and health first. We live in a world inundated with smart technology. Smart devices such as cell phones, Kindles, laptops, iPads, Alexa, not-so-smart watches, Fitbits, and other AI servants surround us daily. These devices also include things like security alarms, baby monitors, wireless internet routers, smart appliances, smart doorbells, smoke alarms and a variety of other “home helper” devices. All of these devices are using radio frequencies that emit radiation at levels that can can cause disturbances in biological systems – human, animal, insect, fish, and plant. WiFi and bluetooth devices are constantly two-way signaling when turned on, moving through our biological pathways and frequencies. What is WiFi? WiFi is not exactly what you may think. It is not an acronym for wireless fidelity, but the idea did come from “hi fidelity” or “hi-fi.” Remember this? Sound quality was what everyone wanted — and so it happened. WiFi is a marketing term created by a wireless alliance network that considered this term easier for the public to digest than “ieee802.11b direct sequence.” This is a standard by which all devices are communicating with each other. In other words, wi-fi is referring to the interoperability of things. Every appliance that you own, or work with, that is not corded and is working via “wi-fi” and this means radiation emissions from them are coming through all biological systems. Cell towers, those large unsightly structures, are totaling more than 310,000 thousand and the numbers rise every year to serve over 300 million cell phone in this country. They have receiving and transforming capacities in their structures perched on the tall poles or stands. Often they are camouflaged to look like trees, crosses, or other structures to hide their unsightly appearance. Covering four major carriers — AT&T, T-Mobile, Verizon, and Sprint — these towers can cover up to 45 miles of transmission to devices. And, you can see at least one every half to one mile in larger cities. Towers are even being placed on ocean floors! 5G Technology and Beyond 5G, the carriers newest hi-speed technology, is untested by the FCC or telecom for safety in biological systems, however it is still present in most cellphones in the US today. It emits frequencies in the realm of 10-20 gigahertz, or 10 to 20 billion cycles per second speeds. 5G requires dense infrastructure in order to work as the industry would like. This means millions of small cells will need to be installed near homes and businesses for the connections to be intensified. To compare the speeds and frequencies by generation, consider this: 1G = 2.4 kilohertz (this was audio only, at 2.40000 cycles per second) in the 1980’s2G = 50 kilohertz (which brouhg us calls, texts, SMS, and messaging) in 19912.75-3G = 384 kilohertz (this meant faster broadband) in 19984G = 100 megahertz up to 1 gigahertz (fast, HD, videos, gaming, conferencing) in 20085G = Up to 20 gigaherz and rising as big tech increases to 6G and beyond Keep in mind, in 2011 cell phone technology was designated as a Class 2B Carginogen, which means that is could possibly cause cancer. Wired technology is just simply safer. Unlike wireless devices, there is virtually no radiation coming from a wired tech device. Consider using wired phones and ethernet cables for the safest environment. Your life and the rest of the world around us matters! The first step to taking back your life and health is recognition of the issue. Knowing that this is serious and is affecting your life, it is time to change how you approach wireless technology and your phone habits. Cell Phone Addiction Addictions are often associated with things such as illegal substances, food, gambling, etc. Currently there is no medical disorder listing for “cell phone addiction,” however research shows the 10 to 20 percent of the general population reports feeling addicted to, or at least lost without, their cell phones. In fact nomophobia is the colloquial for smartphone addiction and means the “fear of not having your phone.” And, textaphrenia is the “fear of not being able to send or receive texts.” A report released in October 2019 by the nonprofit organization Common Sense Media found that 8- to 12-year-olds in the United States now use screens for entertainment for an average of 4 hours, 44 minutes a day, and 13- to 18-year-olds are on screens for an average of 7 hours, 22 minutes each day (The Common Sense Census: Media Use by Tweens and Teens, 2019). These numbers don’t count time using screens for schoolwork or homework. You may have a cell phone problem if you: Use phone most of your day outside of work or homeHave significant distress as a result of non-use of your phoneHave unsuccessfully tried to limit your use or refuse to limit your use of your phoneHave “phantom vibrations” — feel your phone ringing, even if it is not truly ringingNeglect your personal relationships due to constant use of your phoneContinue use your phone despite ill effects on your health Cell phone addiction can lead to things such as depression, anxiety, loneliness, social isolation and withdrawal, loss of relationships, insomnia, and motor vehicle accidents. Medical conditions such as cardiac rhythm issues, hypertension, coagulation or clotting, hormone disruptions, neurological problems, and cancer can occur. Breaking a Phone Habit The first step to taking back your life and health is recognition of the issue. Knowing that this is serious and is affecting your life, it is time to change how you approach wireless technology and your phone habits. Some important moves to help reduce exposure to dangerous radioactive elements and to addictive tendencies include: Keeping your distance — it makes a differenceKnowing to turn off your phone or put in airplane mode, with WiFi and bluetooth turned off as wellTurning of wifi and routers when not is use and at nightLimiting your use of devices to an absolute need onlyDon’t use your phone near your head — use the speaker or hands-free optionsAvoid phone use in bedrooms and for a few hours before sleepDo not put wireless devices into children’s handsTry to use wired devices and ethernet cables when at all possibleAvoid use in cars, elevators, or other enclosed “metal” placesObtain an EMF meter to check the amount of radiation that you are exposed toResearch all mitigation tools like pendants, bracelets, crystals, stones to wear or have in your home or workplaceAvoid living anywhere near a cell towerMake a concerted effort to be closer to natural surroundings such as water, woods, and open spacesEngage your kids in more activities that eliminate cell phone useStop paying for the phones and let your kids know that they will need to pay their wayHave device-free mealtimes — no phones at allStop the phone use at home and especially in evenings; turn off in evening and encourage reading books and/or other activitiesCheck a website called Environmental Health Trust (environmentalhealthtrust.org) for most information that is truthful, scientific, and up-to-date It’s imperative that you start connecting back to real living and interacting with people, animals, plants, and nature in general. This is all critical for a life of robust health and fulfillment. If you or a loved on or friend may be in need of help. it is worth taking time to obtain this from a qualified provider of care. This may include: A naturopathic physician who recognizes and can assist/guide you for ameliorationA holistic care center with behavioral/mental health providersA wellness coach to assist in planning lifestyle Community Wide Changes What is happening around us daily is affecting us all. This is a planet that was once free of artificial intelligence, and now it id enveloped by it. If you want to be a part of the salvation of the planet, you can’t hide behind the doors. Make a commitment to help your neighborhood and surrounding areas. Talk to your HOA committees and let them know this is a concern. Resources include Environmental Health Trust, a non-profit organization founded by Dr. Devra Davis, PhD, MPH, who has collaborated with other non-profits to help spread the science and alert people globally on the dangers inherent and rampant in the realm of wireless technology. Help yourself and your world today! References and Recommended Reading 1. EMF Practical Guide: The Simple Science of Protecting Yourself, Healing Chronic Inflammation, and Living a Naturally Healthy Life in our Toxic Electromagnetic World, by Lloyd Burrell 2. Disconnect: The Truth About Cell Phone Radiation, by Dr. Devra Davis, PhD, MPH Dr. Maria Scunziano-Singh is a board-certified physician with a medical degree from New York Medical College who also holds a diploma from Clayton College of Natural Health as a naturopathic medical doctor. For over 20 years in practice, her passion of bringing health to others through her practice at Access Healthcare Physicians has been expanded to Naturopathic Medicine at the newly opened WellCome OM Integral Healing & Education Center in Spring Hill, Florida.
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Exploring Faust in the 21st Century

Last time we looked at Thomas Mann’s Doctor Faustus and the destruction that ripped through Europe in the 1940s. Europe was rebuilt over the following decades and the American empire rose to dominate the world. But the destruction and nihilism that Mann described in his novel didn’t go away. The spiritual sickness is still with us. So who, or what, is Faust in the 21st century? There are many modern stories and films that feature a Faustian bargain or deal with the devil, but none carry the power of the original Faust myth. Some examples include obvious ones like The Devil’s Advocate, Angel Heart, the comedy Bedazzled, and Ghost Rider who acts as a bounty hunter on behalf of Mephistopheles. And the less obvious ones like The Box, Limitless, and The Prestige, or films about compromised characters like Michael Clayton. These stories don’t seem to touch us anymore. We watch a character sell their soul on screen and think it doesn’t apply to us – it’s just entertainment. Nobody believes in anything anymore and our souls are mostly consumed by consuming. This decline in the culture was a central theme in Mann’s Faust, in which the devil mentions Oswald Spengler’s The Decline of the West, published at the end of the first world war. Spengler divided history into different cultural epochs and was heavily influenced by Faust, saying he owed the philosophy of the book to Goethe. Faust is a specifically Western myth and Joseph Campbell says it reflects European man with his “yearning, striving, creative spirit.” This spirit is also afflicted with a tendency for colonialist imperial ambitions and a will to power that has spread itself around the world. In Goethe’s Faust, he was still striving towards the divine. But by the 20th century, God was dead or effectively ignored as irrelevant, especially in secular Europe. So it’s no surprise that Spengler named Western civilisation as Faustian. A Faustian culture is one that sacrifices spiritual values for worldly knowledge, power and material gain. The Faustian culture focuses on infinity and limitless knowledge, while the Apollonian classical culture focuses on the present, as Rollo May explains in The Cry for Myth: “the Apollonian stands for cultures characterised by reason, harmony, balance and justice. The symbol for Apollonianism is the circle. The symbol for Faustianism, on the contrary, is the straight line, always moving ahead in progress…” But our progress only applies to technical and material things. We don’t apply it to the spiritual and aesthetic realms – religion, philosophy, art and literature – which thrive in the Apollonian culture. The Faustian culture is also more extroverted and focused on competition and materialism. This has created a destructive form of progress as it undermines all the best values of the ‘West’. Rollo May asks: “Will our ending be self-chosen destruction like Marlow’s Faust? Or will we experience some deus ex machina, like Goethe’s Faust, and be given the chance to repent before the fatal bell tolls at midnight?” Or are we like Mann’s Faust, cynical and nihilistic and given over to unconscious despair which we act out by destroying everything good? We’ve gone from wanting to be God like Marlowe’s Faust, to wanting God-like power like Goethe’s Faust, to the denial of God and transcendence like Mann’s Faust. What’s next? To deny humanity and life itself? In Religion and the Rebel, Colin Wilson says that Spengler: “prophesises an age of complete scepticism, which will be the last stage of Western civilisation.”  It appears we have arrived. weak men abound The root of the problem can be found within the ‘Western’ psyche, which has split itself in two and declared war against nature and itself – Hobbes’ “war of all against all.” We divided science and art, the head and the heart, with terrible consequences. It’s this division that Goethe explores in Faust, as Colin Wilson explains: “At the beginning of the poem, Faust stands precisely where the modern world stands. He has followed the scientific method to its limit – studied philosophy, medicine, law, and now, he admits, he ‘stands no wiser than before.’ … His knowledge is vanity and futility. It makes him cleverer, but no wiser. His only way to escape is to summon up the devil, and ally himself with him, although he knows the devil is stupider than he is.” This is an example of the ego doubling down and refusing to admit its limitations. Fast forward to the 21st century and the scientific method is regularly thrown out in exchange for enough money, prestige or power. This kind of stupidity leaves us wide open to exploitation, as Wilson continues: “Here is modern man – for all his scientific knowledge, as stupid as his forefathers, and turning to all kinds of political charlatans for leadership – wanting only to be possessed, possessed by anything, by the latest politician or the latest crooner or film star – anything to escape his own futility and emptiness.” You can see this in our hysterical reaction to almost everything over the last few years. The latest wheeze in science is the use of computer models of reality that are riddled with biases and unconscious assumptions. These models are proved wrong time and again, and yet we keep using them to justify our hysteria – as if we can force reality to conform to our models. The arrogance is stunning. The assumption that every problem can be fixed with a rational solution, with enough data; that we can solve the problem of being human, conquer death and disease, and become gods! There are many modern Fausts who think like this, for example: Jeff Bezos hires top scientist to defeat death! And then there’s the transhumanist maniacs, like Yuval Noah Harari, who believe that humanity should be erased because it’s just a story we tell about ourselves. He believes that any meaning we attach to our lives is a delusion and he bastardises Buddhism to prove it. In an interview, he said: “Humans are now hackable animals. The whole idea that humans have this ‘soul’ or ‘spirit’, and nobody knows what’s happening inside them, and they have free will – that’s over.” Harari is wedded to scientism and reductionist materialism and believes that the future of humanity is to become one with machines. We’ll ‘upgrade’ ourselves until we turn into gods and then humanity will be no more. However, his grasp on history and truth is tenuous – read this from Morten Tolboll. the delusion is strong with this one! This kind of ideological thinking is dangerous as well as stupid. When you believe that you’re rational and that history only goes in one direction you can justify unspeakable acts of evil in the name of the greater good. Whatever you do, it’s not evil because evil doesn’t exist – it’s just a story – therefore you can do what thou wilt. The delusions of scientism arise from our belief in a machine universe devoid of meaning. And this belief is rooted in fear and/or hatred of life (and death, because death is part of life). It also creates an obsession with technology and the mechanical. In The Anatomy of Human Destructiveness, Erich Fromm discusses the nature of malignant aggression, which includes “the passion to destroy life and the attraction to all that is dead, decaying, and purely mechanical.” This can be expressed as necrophilia, the love of death and machines, which: “threatens to become the secret principle of a society in which the conquest of nature by the machine constitutes the very meaning of progress, and where the living person becomes an appendix to the machine.” Necrophilia isn’t only a sexual perversion, but includes the worship of speed and the machine, the glorification of war, hatred of women, the destruction of culture, and seeing things like cars and planes as living forces. We could also add the preference for computer models of reality over reality itself. This has become the philosophy of the ‘West’ – if we can call it philosophy, as there’s not much love of wisdom to be found. Goethe described it like this: “The Godhead is effective in the living and not in the dead, in the becoming and the changing, not in the become and set-fast; and therefore, accordingly, reason (Vernunft) is concerned only to strive toward the divine through the becoming and the living, and the understanding (Verstand) only to make use of the become and set-fast.” The ‘West’ no longer seems interested in the living and becoming, but only in what it can nail down and hold on to – the set-fast. The set-fast is the world of Mephistopheles: the fixed, empirical machine world of facts and logic. Colin Wilson in Religion and the Rebel again: “All things are discovered by intuition, as the lives of the great mathematicians and scientists prove again and again. Logic plods after intuition, and verifies discoveries in its own pedestrian way. Logic is a mere servant of the imagination. To exalt it – as modern thinkers tend to – is to invite spiritual anarchy.” Anarchy used here in the sense of chaos or disorder. He continues: “Most Western philosophers have been spiritual cripples. The West has exalted the reasoning power above all other faculties, and the scientists and doctors can get away with anything. And yet we know that a man can have an extraordinary reasoning power, and yet still be a fool.” Our rational mind has got as far as it can in its understanding of the world because it’s locked inside a box of its own making. The box is reinforced by postmodernism which locks us into a self-referential loop that denies objective truth, rooted in a denial of transcendence, like Mann’s Faust. Ironically, the denial of objective reality is deeply unscientific and irrational. Everything that we don’t like or can’t explain using science has been stuffed into the subconscious from where it causes havoc from our shadow. The collective unconscious is now bursting with trauma and pain and fear and denial of death. We desperately need to break out of the box or we’ll go mad and destroy ourselves. Our obsession with technology makes this situation worse. Perhaps technology has become our Mephistopheles, sitting on our shoulder, leading us up the garden path and off a cliff. But there’s a twist. As with Mann’s Faust, it may be that the devil is a figment of our own imagination and a product of our shadow. Algorithms and machine learning act as feedback loops that reflect our own beliefs and behaviour back to us. Social media could be a useful tool for shadow work, if we grow up: For Mann, the flaw in the culture was the trivialisation of art, i.e. the loss or devaluing of the soul. We all lose part of our soul when we’re born into a system that conditions us to hate ourselves and life. We’re all Faust now, and like Faust, we have access to almost unlimited knowledge and yet we’re bored out of our tiny minds – anaesthetised. We blame the technology when things don’t go the way we imagined they should. But we were the ones who created the technology. We blamed God because we couldn’t understand him. So we killed him to hide from our failure. In Beyond the Occult, Colin Wilson says we shouldn’t blame God for the problems of human existence. The real problem is in the limitations of our senses which prevent us from seeing reality as it is. Plato explained this problem in his cave allegory, and William Blake understood, saying: “Man has closed himself up, till he sees all things through the narrow chinks of his cavern.” Even Goethe’s Faust says: “The spirit world is not closed: Your senses are: your heart is dead!” Some feel trapped in this narrow prison – the gnostic view – but this prison is self-created. That means it can be uncreated. You can free yourself from the wheel of rebirth and suffering, but it takes effort. You can’t just make a deal with the devil for an easy life, like the miller in the Handless Maiden tale. The trick to overcoming the negation of Mephistopheles and his lies is to see God in all things, like a mystic. Open your senses and your heart to life, and say YES! Jessica Davidson — This article is reprinted from Jessica Davidson’s website under Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International License. No alterations have been made in the content except for the removal of some images. Ed. Originally published here
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The Satyameva Dialogues

[The Satyameva Dialogues consist of a series of recorded and transcribed conversations between Shri Manu and Acharya Nirankar. Acharya Nirankar is a practitioner and teacher of Vedanta; Shri Manu likes to regard himself as a seeker of Truth, and studies Vedanta.   These conversations are spread over many months, reflecting many moods and thoughts. We have tried to retain, as far as editorially possible, the original bhava and flavor of the conversations. — Editors.]  Dialogue 1: Na kinchidapi chintayet M: Perhaps the best point to start our explorations into dharma would be with the Bhagavad Gita, arguably one of the most widely read religious texts in Bharat. The Gita, as we know, is considered an upanishad of the Vedantic tradition — the Gitopnaishad. It is generally regarded as the Word of God.  AN: The word of God? Yes, in a manner of speaking. It is the directly revealed knowledge, vijnana. You may say “word of God” to make it easier for the ordinary person to grasp, but it’s vijnana or the supreme knowledge descending into the enlightened buddhi. Sri Krishna and Arjuna, Mahabharat and the battlefield of Kurukshetra, are interwoven contexts to give a historical background to the vijnana.   M: When you say ‘supreme’, Acharyaji, do you mean the highest, the perfect? AN: I mean truth descending from the supreme source that is Sri Krishna, in response to Arjuna’s inner state, the existential conflict and angst that really marks the beginning of the dharmayuddha. This too is a context, a psychological setting. M: But the knowledge of the Gita is not specific to its historical context, is it? It goes far beyond its historical setting, reaching out into the psyche of the ages to come.  AN: The Gita is a mantra of the eternal Yoga that Sri Krishna imparts, through the instrumentality of the noble Arjuna, to the whole of humanity, through all space and time. In that sense, the revelations of the Gita are timeless and universal, sanatan.  The knowledge of the Gita, the supreme secret, rahasyam uttamam, was not imparted to Arjuna alone. As the great Teacher himself declares— This imperishable Yoga I gave to Vivasvan, the Sun-God, Vivasvan gave it to Manu, the father of men, Manu gave it to Ikshvaku, head of the Solar line.[1] Whatever be the profounder meaning of this verse, it indicates one thing very clearly — the Gita’s knowledge does not begin with Arjuna on the battlefield of Kurukshetra nor does it end with Arjuna’s enlightenment and his going into the great battle.  M: This is a very mystical verse…it is not easy to grasp its real significance. Going by Sri Krishna’s words, it begins before human civilization, with the Sun-God receiving it from Sri Krishna, perhaps, at the dawn of cosmic Time. So, obviously, the message of the Gita is not specific to an age or an event.  AN: The teachings of the Gita are sanatan — eternal and universal. This is sanatan dharma, Sir.  M: Yes, I understand. The Gita, I’m aware, is one of the foundational pillars of the sanatan dharma.  AN: Yes, along with the knowledge of the Vedas, the Yogas, and the Upanishads, are the foundational pillars of our sanatan dharma. Whosoever shall embody this fourfold knowledge shall be known as the true keeper and votary of sanatan dharma.  M: And this ‘knowledge’ is obviously not intellectual knowledge, gathering of information and recitation? AN: No, this knowledge is adhyatmik, a higher or subtler spiritual knowledge. M: But one always begins with intellectual knowledge… AN: So, when you say ‘intellectual knowledge’, what exactly do you mean? We learn physics, for instance, intellectually, by using the intellect and the methods of the intellect. But when it comes to adhyatma jnana, knowledge of the self or spirit, we need to go beyond the intellect and its methods and activities. The intellect can serve, at best, a very limited purpose in adhyatma jnana. One has to open oneself to intuitive perception, spiritual experience, self-realization. It’s a different order of jnana altogether – vijnana, prajnana. M: Is there some way to get past the whole intellectual machinery, Acharyaji, and open oneself directly to adhyatma jnana? AN: First of all, we need to understand that adhyatma jnana is not the ordinary ‘jnana’ the buddhi gets by reading, analyzing and reciting. The domain of intellectual knowledge, the ordinary jnana, always lies outside of oneself, dependent on external sources. One can gather intellectual knowledge by reading about the sun but one can never get to the direct perception or experience of the sun by reading about it. You can go on reading and talking about honey, but you will never know it till you taste it. And once you taste it, you will no longer need to read or talk about it.  M: I understand that! AN: Now when you taste the honey, you know it, don’t you? You get the immediate and direct knowledge of it, right? That is akin to adhyatma jnana, spiritual knowledge. You know the honey because you have experienced it. But that too is a stage. Finally, you become the honey. When you become the honey, you know it because you are it. It’s not even taste, then. Taste is still a duality. It is knowledge by identity, by self-becoming. That is akin to vijnana or supramental knowledge.  M: So, Acharyaji, how does one like me get to, at least, the taste of the honey? I don’t wish to read or talk about it. AN: We all have desires… the first thing to do is to turn all our desires to the one single, all-consuming desire for Krishna. Desire Sri Krishna alone, nothing and none else. As Sri Aurobindo wrote in one of his aphorisms — Turn all things to honey; this is the law of divine living. Take ‘honey’ to be Sri Krishna, and you have the master formula.  M: At once so simple and so difficult. We all have so many distractions and preoccupations of the mind and heart! AN: And these ‘distractions’ and ‘preoccupations’ keep us in a perpetually disturbed state, a state of inner disequilibrium. Asamata. Desires, preferences, self-will, needs…these are the causes of asamata. All this must be turned to just one desire, one will, one preoccupation — Sri Krishna and Sri Krishna alone. That is yoga. Gather all of your being and consciousness in the inmost heart, and then offer all to Sri Krishna, keeping nothing back, however radiant or noble, or however dark or evil. Give all of your being and consciousness, down to the tiniest vibration, down to the last cell of your body. That is yoga.  M: Samatvam yog uchhayate?[2] AN: Yes, indeed. When all of your being and consciousness, everything in you that moves outward, is self-gathered and concentrated on Sri Krishna, you attain the condition of samata which itself is yoga. There is much more to it, of course, but this is all you need to get to the  ‘taste of the honey’.  M: So, if I’m getting this right — this would mean that I remain inwardly absorbed, or concentrated, on Sri Krishna all the time, my whole  being, my entire consciousness? AN: Yes, that is a condition of the Gita’s yoga.  M: So, then, how do I remain active in the world? I have things to do — job, family, society etc. how do I remain active in samsara and immersed in Sri Krishna at the same time?  AN: When you’re in love, doesn’t that happen effortlessly? You remain active in the world but inwardly you are immersed in the thoughts of the one you love. So you just have to learn to be in love with the divine all the time. That too is yoga of the Gita. To be always and entirely in love with Sri Krishna.  M: Sarva dharman parityajya mamekam sharanam vraja…[3]This seems to me the perfect condition of one’s love for Sri Krishna. Give up all dharmas for Sri Krishna…like Radha. AN: This sloka really sums up the yoga of the Gita, it is the supreme secret. If only we can give up all dharmas — all that holds us, binds us, makes us what we are — for the sake of the divine beloved, for Sri Krishna, and give ourselves entirely to him — for that is what mamekam sharanam vraja means — then we would need nothing more: all would be attained in a trice, no yoga, no tapasya! M: This then is the master formula, Acharyaji? AN: It is the supreme secret, the rahasya, that the Gita reveals. All this that we are, and experience, this whole manifest universe is Sri Krishna alone: sarvam vasudevah iti. Sri Krishna is the friend, the support, the guide and philosopher, the teacher and the indwelling Guru, the divine beloved, the supreme Self, the alpha and the omega, the beginning, the middle and the end… Once this is known, all is known.  But this does not come easy… the delusion of the ego is deep and persistent. Very rare are the great souls who know that Vasudeva is all that exists and there  is none other — vasudevah sarvam iti, sah mahatma sudurlabhah.[4] M: How then is the delusion of the ego to be conquered, Acharyaji? AN: The ego, the sense of separative identity, is not a real thing, it is mithya — a thing that does not really exist but appears to exist. Pure delusion. And the only way out of delusion is the seeing of truth. That is the whole function of the Gita — to bring us to the truth, not through reasoning or philosophy but through direct inner experience and realization. This is the beauty and power of the Gita’s yoga. M: So there is nothing to be conquered, really? Only the seeing of the truth? For the moment one perceives the truth, all falsehood and ignorance disappear.  AN: Precisely. And the more you reflect or meditate on the Gita, the more you begin to see, intuit, understand. You grow into Krishna’s consciousness, he himself leads you, guides you, supports you. Each step you take towards him, he takes two towards you.  M: Are there any conditions to be fulfilled for all this, Acharyaji? Like suddhi that the yogis talk about.  AN: Suddhi? Yes, suddhi — but then suddhi is to be understood in the right way.  M: Is it not self purification?  AN: The only condition, really, is sraddha.  M: Faith? AN: Sraddha is a fundamental spiritual quality in Hindu Dharma: without sraddha, no realization is possible; with sraddha, no realization is impossible. Sraddha is not merely psychological faith but intuitive faith,  faith born of inner knowing.  M: The word itself, in common usage, means faith or trust.  AN: Not common usage here. You will have to reflect on the word itself. The inner meaning of the word is in the word itself. Sraddha consists of two root sounds — srat and dha. Srat, as used in some of the Rigvedic hymns, means truth and dha is the same root sound in words like dharma, dharan etc. and means to hold. So sraddha is that which holds, or bears, in itself the truth, and brings that truth to realization. As Krishna says in the Gita, sraddha mayo yam purusho yo yachchhraddhah sa eva sah.[5] M: Whatever one’s faith is, that is what one becomes? AN: Yes, indeed; self-becoming of that which you hold to be your highest aspiration, your deepest faith, your sraddha.  M: I understand. So sraddha is the first condition? AN: An essential condition: there is no numerical order here.  M: How does one develop this sraddha, Acharyaji?  AN: But sraddha in whom, or what? Don’t we need to establish that first?  M: Yes, of course.  AN: So, sraddha first in yourself — atma-sraddha: the living and burning faith that you are meant for the divine, that you will realize the divine in this very lifetime. You have to have that atma-sraddha, without that, you will not move very far, you will be assailed by self-doubt and anxiety all the way.  M: But isn’t that a given, Acharyaji? Without the faith that I am meant for the path, why will I ever take to the path? AN: You will be surprised, Sir, to see how few have that faith in their own spiritual destiny. It is an old conditioning, we are made to believe that we are sinful, impure, petty and the Divine is far away, inaccessible to most, too high, too vast. M: That’s an Abrahamic idea… AN: Many Hindus believe that firmly. Even many pundits. Mortals are not worthy of the Divine. That’s it. Unless you go to a guru, or become an ascetic, or do penance, or offer ceremonial sacrifices to some god or goddess. All these are childish notions.  M: Vedanta tells us that we are divine, that we are that Brahman, tat twam asi. AN: What good use is the Vedanta or its revelations if we do not believe in our own spiritual potential? Look into yourself, Sir; dive deep into your own consciousness, be a fervent explorer, do not rest till you have touched your own divinity, even a brief spark of it, in your depths. Then Vedanta makes sense. Or else, it is all noise of the intellectual mind.  M: So, sraddha in one’s own spiritual potential comes from a mental notion or belief, or do we wait till we have touched that inner spark?  AN: It comes from the heart, Sir. The inmost heart. You intuit it, you just know it. You cannot rationalize or explain it, you just know it. That is intuition. You have to have that intuitive knowledge of your deepest destiny, your adhyatmik uddeshya. [6] M: And if it’s not there? AN: What is not there? The destiny, the uddeshya, or its intuition? The destiny is there: it is what we are all destined for. It is the very purpose of existence: to find, realize, become the divine. The intuitive knowledge of it may not be there, in the conscious buddhi. It is there, in the psychic, but it may not be there in the conscious buddhi.  M: How to bring it then to the conscious buddhi? How to draw it out of the psychic? AN: It is like love. It is there in everyone, but dormant, veiled by the ego. When you meet the right person, the right object, that veiled or dormant love erupts, comes to the surface, whether you like it or not, whether you can handle it or not.  M: I am a bit lost here. If it is there, you progress in the sadhana, all the other things become possible. If it is not there, you can’t do much, you remain lost your mental mazes. But there is nothing you can do to get it. It comes on its own. Have I got all that right? AN: Yes, more or less. It comes by the Lord’s Grace. The divine Grace. None can begin the spiritual journey without that. The fact that you are here, talking to me, wanting to understand the Gita, wanting to live that spiritual or yogic life, is because the divine Grace has already touched you, awakened you. So all these questions about having or not having that faith in your destiny is irrelevant. It’s already there, and it has brought you here. The question is, how completely are you going to accept that faith, that inner knowing?  M: Yes, I can see that. I can now see two essential conditions: the divine Grace and atma-sraddha. AN: Divine Grace cannot be spoken of as a condition. You cannot attain divine Grace, you cannot do anything to get the divine Grace. It comes to you. Don’t ask me how or why. I don’t know. I don’t think anyone, except the Divine, knows. But yes, atma-sraddha is a fundamental condition. But along with atma-sraddha, one needs sraddha in the object and purpose of one’s sadhana — the Divine itself. For the object of all our sadhana is the Divine, and without an active and fervent sraddha in the Divine, how does one do any sadhana at all for the Divine? M: Is there anything we can do to develop such sraddha in the Divine? We’ve all heard and read that the Divine exists, but how many of us have had the experience?  AN: Therefore, the scriptures; therefore, the Bhagavad Gita. When you read the Upanishads, the Bhagavad Gita, you learn to think and feel differently, a deeper or a higher reasoning grows in you. Your perspective widens, you begin to see and feel and understand more. This is how sraddha begins to develop. Mind you, you still do not have the experience, the anubhava, but at least you now have a certain inner knowing which becomes your sraddha. Remember that the true sraddha is your inner knowing. Faith is a word we give to this inner knowing but all true faith is foreknowledge. Or eternal remembrance.  M: Is this swadhyaya of the scriptures? AN: Yes: for swadhyaya means two things — studying by oneself and studying oneself. It is by studying the scriptures that one learns of the nature of reality, and it is by studying and understanding oneself that one experiences the reality.  M: For the self is portion of the one reality?  AN: The self is the reality, the part is the whole. As our Vedantins declare, a drop of the ocean is the ocean. How do you break up the reality, which is infinite and indivisible, into parts? Purnamada purnamidam, purnat purnam udachyate… Purna may be translated as whole, complete or perfect and stands for the Divine, for the Divine alone is whole and perfect. Thus, that (purnam adah) which we experience as cosmos, the outer universe, is the whole, the Divine; and this (purnam idam), the inner worlds, the self, the entire subjective experience, is also the whole, the Divine; from that whole, this whole arises, or, from that one Divine, this manifest universe, and all existences, arise (udachayte). [7] M: There is a mathematical expression of this as well — infinity plus X equals infinity, and infinity minus X equals infinity.  AN: Indeed; our sages were amongst the first to intuit this relationship between that, the outer, and this, the inner.  M: This is wonderful! I can see how this understanding can develop into deep sraddha. If all this, and all that, is the one Divine, and if I am indivisibly one with that Divine, then the fulfillment of my sadhana is inevitable, nothing or none can prevent an eventual fulfillment of my aspiration. For behind every aspiration and effort of mine is Sri Krishna himself. And is this not what he himself tells Arjuna?  AN: That indeed is the leitmotif of the Bhagavad Gita — that all is Sri Krishna, inside and outside, far and near, in all the terms of our existence on earth, in all the movements of our being, in all our works, in the gunas of nature, in that which transcends nature, in all name and form… once you truly understand this of Sri Krishna, the Divine, once you comprehend his omnipresence, his totality, then all doubt, anxiety, fear, desire, pettiness, everything falls off and you become his devotee in heart, mind and body, an integral sadhak of his universal Yoga. This is the true basis of sraddha, sraddha that is not just faith but an inner knowing, an inner certainty, the knowing of the soul. It is with such sraddha that one can go higher and deeper in the yoga of the Gita.  M: So, can I then say that atma-sraddha and sraddha in Sri Krishna are the fundamental conditions to practice the Gita’s sadhana?  AN: Yes, it’s simple. If the object of the sadhana is to realize the Divine, unite with the Divine in one’s being and consciousness, then the Divine, to say the least, has to be a real thing for us, not an ideal or a notion. Sri Krishna is real and can be realized — is that not the whole basis of the sadhana? M: Yes, agreed. But I have a problem here: as long as I have not realized Sri Krishna within myself, how can he be real to me? Will Sri Krishna, or the Divine, not be a mere notion or an ideal for me till then? Seems a bit of Catch-22 situation to me! AN: I understand the difficulty. To do sadhana for the Divine, I must know the Divine to be real, but till I make a certain progress in the sadhana, I will not know the Divine to be real.  M: Exactly, Acharyaji. AN: So what is the way out of this conundrum?  M: You tell me.  AN: I tell you? (Acharyaji laughs) M: I mean, how does it work? Is it completely on faith then, till you get the knowledge? And getting the knowledge may take years! AN: See, the knowledge is inside you already. There is no knowledge to be got from the outside. You just have to get to that inner knowledge, that supremely secret spiritual knowledge, paramam guhyam adhyatma jnana, hidden in the folds of your inmost being, your psychic center.  M: But how, Acharyaji? How to get to that knowledge which is so completely hidden, guhyam? AN: By diving deep into one’s one consciousness. M: Again, Acharyaji, how? What does this diving deep exactly mean? AN: Still your ever-active and reactive surface mind, cease utterly from all thought. Let your mind and heart fall silent. The deeper the silence, the deeper the dive…na kinchidapi chintayet![8] Having fixed the mind in Sri Krishna, one should not think of anything at all. M: How does one fix the mind in Sri Krishna when one has not yet realized Sri Krishna?  AN: Fix the mind in the thought of Sri Krishna; let Sri Krishna be your one and only thought. Fix the mind in the aspiration and desire for Sri Krishna, let Sri Krishna be your sole desire and preoccupation. Can you do that? M: Yes, absolutely.  AN: Do that then. Fixing your mind in a silent and unbroken aspiration for Sri Krishna, fixing your mind in that one thought of Sri Krishna, think of nothing else, nothing at all. This is the import of the sloka — atmasansthanam manah kritva na kinchidapi chintayet: the atma, the Self, is Krishna. Know that, and be free of all delusion this very instant, Sir! [To be continued] 
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Sri Aurobindo The Philosopher

August 15th will be celebrated the world over as Sri Aurobindo’s 150th birth anniversary  Sri Aurobindo is perhaps the greatest philosopher that India has produced since Ramanujacharya. And when I use the term philosopher, I mean by that term a seer, thinker, or metaphysician who has a systemic view of the world and is able to organize his perceptions and give us a coherent, consistent, comprehensive paradigm of the world. Or at least an approach to resolving the questions of human existence, the mystery of the world, and how a man may approach the challenges of life and existence.  He is a genius at the same level as Sri Krishna since he too integrated the various and often seemingly contradictory darshanas extant at their times into a unified metaphysics and vision in a manner that revitalized each darshana and contextualized them within a larger Vedantic understanding. Just like Sri Krishna integrated Vaishnava Bhakti traditions with Sankhya, Yoga, and Vedanta in an overarching vision, Sri Aurobindo too synthesized Tantra, Sankhya, Bhakti, Jnana, and Karma Yoga in a wider understanding of Vedanta. In addition, Sri Aurobindo also unified the Western philosophies in the Eastern darshana, including those of Nietzsche and Evolution, pre-Socratic thinkers, and Plato. He took the latest developments in Western thought and put them in perspective in a larger Indic frame of reference.  He also created a program for national revitalization and brought India’s darshana back to its own people that they had forgotten under the centuries of foreign rule and subjugation. A true understanding of Vedas and Upanishads based on his own spiritual experiences and investigations, linguistic research, and insights was brought to a people who had forgotten their own svadharma and had become slaves not only outwardly but also inwardly. This intellectual, cultural, and spiritual freedom that he aspired for his people created the svarajya movement in the early 20th century in India at a time when it was considered an impossibility and a delusion.  He gave an integral interpretation and expostulation of Vedanta as a synoptic vision for all humankind, rejecting Mayavada as an aberrant understanding of Vedanta and returned to the life-affirming worldview of the Vedas, Upanishads and the Gita. One may say that he brought Adi Sankaracharya and Ramanujacharya, the Buddha, and Sri Krishna, together in what may be considered a purna Vedanta. He integrated spirituality with philosophy, arts, and literature, culture and education, nationalism, and politics in a consistent approach that was not parochial or chauvinistic.  He articulated Indian darshana to the West in the tradition of Swami Vivekananda with an even greater dialectic and rigor and helped trigger the Indian renaissance that was already in the making with the advent of great writers and poets such as Bankim Chandra Chatterjee, Michael Madhusudan Dutta, and Rabindranath Tagore. He made philosophy alive and dynamic, resonant with the rhythms of classical prose, and was able to bring elements of his philosophy into his poetic oeuvre, an effort as vast and overwhelming as his voluminous prose.  Sri Aurobindo redefined philosophy by bringing in elements of seerhood and darshana of the Indian civilization. And he redefined Indian darshana by bringing in elements of Western thought that gave it additional vigor and suppleness. It is my submission that Sri Aurobindo wrote not just for his age but for the future generations and quite aptly may be considered a philosopher of the future and human teleology.  He is one of the unique philosophers in Eastern or Western traditions. While being a darshanik in the traditional Indic mold, one who is a beholder and a revealer of truth, he is also an anti-philosopher. While creating one of the most elaborate and comprehensive philosophies of all time, he is also able to constantly step out of it, as it were, and transcend it at each consideration. This gives him unique freedom to integrate diverse and even seemingly contradictory visions into a harmonious coherent whole that is bolder, truer, and wider than traditional reductionistic metaphysics.  The Indian approach to philosophy is darshana, which means to see. At a very fundamental level, darshana is not philosophy at all, at least the way it is understood in the Western tradition. Philosophy means love of knowledge and usually implies an analytical approach to problems and is mental. Darshana, on the other hand, requires a radical psychological and cognitive refinement and personal evolution from the seeker of truth that is a lifetime journey of exploration and liberation. Thus, philosophy remains abstract, speculative, and always apart from real-life experience while darshana is transformative and eternally free of thought.  All Indian philosophies are, in essence, transcendental, in the sense that the philosophy constantly transcends the framework or paradigm it uses to elaborate and structure its contents. The Sankhya philosophy describes the Purusha principle as pure consciousness that is eternally free of any movement, identification, or features. And this arrival to the concept of Purusha was not mental speculation but a verifiable universal experience as discovered by the ancient Indian rishis and darshaniks. Even as Sankhya was modified variously by the later developments of Indic ‘thought,’ the foundation upon which it was based, the direct experience of pure consciousness, remained as the basis of all future excursions and philosophies. Thus, awareness that is growing more and more untrammeled of all names and forms is a requisite, and the true darshanik constantly returns and eventually establishes himself in its sthanu or stability.  We see this principle of consciousness as the bedrock of Vedanta, Buddhistic metaphysics, Jainism, Yoga and even the fundamental understanding of Vaishnavism or Shaivism, Karma Yoga, or Bhakti Yoga, and no true approach to Indic philosophy is possible without this key insight. Great as Greek philosophies are, they never base themselves entirely on Chitta or consciousness, and this difference continues through the long history of developments in Western and Eastern philosophies.  What makes Sri Aurobindo truly unique even among Eastern philosophers is his avowed rejection of all mentalism and abstractions. His entire system is based upon what he saw and lived, was and became, and beheld in his awareness as the shining reality behind all creation. He is a true rishi who reveals what he sees or hears or sees-hears. And his means of beholding the truth are supra-intellectual, intuitive, synthetic, and experiential. In a famous letter to D.K. Roy, he protested that he was not a thinker or philosopher, ‘And philosophy! Let me tell you in confidence that I never, never, never was a philosopher – although I have written philosophy which is another story altogether. I knew precious little about philosophy before I did the Yoga and came to Pondicherry – I was a poet and a politician, not a philosopher! How I managed to do it? First, because Richard proposed to me to cooperate in a philosophical review – and as my theory was that a Yogi ought to be able to turn his hand to anything, I could not very well refuse: and then he had to go to the War and left me in the lurch with 64 pages a month of philosophy all to write by my lonely self. Secondly, I had only to write down in terms of the intellect all that I had observed and come to know in practicing Yoga daily and the philosophy was there, automatically. But that is not being a philosopher!’  What kind of a philosopher is this who translated the Vedas, the Upanishads, and the Gita, discussed metaphysics over more than a thousand pages in The Life Divine, resolved the inconsistencies or difficulties of some of the greatest darshaniks of all time, such as Adi Sankaracharya and the Buddha even as he synthesized them into a larger framework, who created one of the greatest systems of metaphysics in the history of humankind, who insisted that he is not a philosopher at all! And this is what makes Sri Aurobindo stand out as a philosopher and a non-philosopher.  As a philosopher, he always stands outside his philosophy. As a non-philosopher, he creates an elaborate systematic, methodical consistent edifice that is at once towering and breathtaking in scope and significance. And in this, as mentioned earlier, the only visionary genius that I can compare him with in the entire history of India is Sri Krishna, who brought about a grand synthesis of diverse streams of thought in the Gita.  Sri Aurobindo took a similar approach of synthesis based on his vision and built on Sri Krishna’s darshana and brought in a Greek spirit of deep questioning and almost Socratic discourse in his discussion along with the radical breakthroughs of higher tantra in his elaborate all-embracing orchestral harmony. And this is his uniqueness. Even as one of the greatest integrators of philosophy, Sri Aurobindo is always free of philosophy, like Sri Krishna.  Perhaps this is also because he was a poet and knew that reality can always be seen and described in other ways that are not restricted by intellectualism and logic. But as a poet, he was not a bard in the ordinary sense of the word, one who deals with emotions and rhythms of verse. He was a poet in the ancient Indic tradition of the kavi, one who can see through and beyond and can reveal and share in his sound- harmonies the weight of the realization and can transmit his experience to the listener or reader.  To be inside the metaphysical system and yet be outside is a feat very few Western philosophers have been able to accomplish. Perhaps, Parmenides and Heraclitus, Plato and Plotinus were able to pull it off, but not with such an elaborate detailed system. Perhaps Wittgenstein, who demolished his earlier approach to philosophy as developed in The Tractatus, and moved on to the word-plays that philosophers indulge in but there is a crucial difference. Sri Aurobindo builds and constructs even as he liberates in a vast holistic vision. Wittgenstein bulldozes, decimates, and nuclearizes and leaves nothing in his wake.  Sri Aurobindo is also not just philosophy. Following the ancient Indian ideal, he does not separate philosophy from psychology, literature from politics, individual salvation or mukti from the evolution of the society and the communities, and the secular from the religious. He connects them all in an effortless manner and does not exclude anything of significance or value in life from his consideration. He is the most catholic of philosophers, including even the rejections of the materialists and the realists, the agnostics, and the atheists, in his consideration of all human divagations. For he is a true Vedanti, who lives the ancient tenet of sarvam brahma, all this is the Brahman. And once you accept the truth of every manifestation, every aspect of life, how would you reject or exclude its essence or reality in your paradigm? Sri Aurobindo stayed consistent and allowed each aspect or order of life to find its place in his comprehensive vision.  Thus, Sri Aurobindo is a true pragmatic philosopher in that he believed in applying his knowledge and accomplishments to practical purposes like liberating his country from the yoke of foreign rule or charting a course for future human evolution. And yet, he is also a transcendentalist and an idealist. He is the greatest interpreter of ancient systems and is thoroughly modern in his classical approach. He is a philosopher of linguistics, whose discoveries are only now being discovered, while also a philosopher of Literature and Languages who elaborated on the historical development of English verse from a spiritual evolutionary perspective.  He is an aphorist in the tradition of Heraclitus and Bhartrihari, who reveals his philosophy in concise, sometimes playful, sometimes profound apothegms. Mind is always subservient to his vision, and his precepts can hold an entire universe in a few lines, like Vedantic Mahavakyas or sutras. He is a Vedantic evolutionist who transformed Charles Darwin and Henri Bergson into a deeper explanation of the course of earth’s history. He is a Vedantic Neoplatonist who makes Plato and Plotinus understandable and, dare I say, more profound in his elucidation. He is methodical like Patanjali, intuitive like Sri Ramakrishna, advaitic like Swami Vivekananda, and a Shakta in the highest lights of ancient tantra. He is able to hold polar opposites in a singular view and assimilate them in one sentence. He may be compared to the best philosophers in the East and the West, and instead of being contextualized by them, he contextualizes them since he is always higher, deeper, and wider.  His insights can resolve the contradictions and dualisms in Abrahamic theology and the Western worldview. He is a futurist, and a systemic thinker whose message is sure to reverberate down the ages till the last man stands on earth or till humanity raises itself beyond its present imprisonment and discovers itself as the harbinger of a new leap in its evolution.  Excerpted from Dr. Pariksith Singh’s new book Sri Aurobindo and Philosophy, published by Kali, an imprint of BluOne Ink, and released on August 6, 2022 at the Pondicherry Literature Festival.
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Invoking Sri Aurobindo’s Truth

There are moments when the Spirit moves among men and the breath of the Lord is abroad upon the waters of our being; there are others when it retires and men are left to act in the strength or the weakness of their own egoism. The first are periods when even a little effort produces great results and changes destiny; the second are spaces of time when much labour goes to the making of a little result. It is true that the latter may prepare the former, may be the little smoke of sacrifice going up to heaven which calls down the rain of God’s bounty. Unhappy is the man or the nation which, when the divine moment arrives, is found sleeping or unprepared to use it, because the lamp has not been kept trimmed for the welcome and the ears are sealed to the call. But thrice woe to them who are strong and ready, yet waste the force or misuse the moment; for them is irreparable loss or a great destruction. In the hour of God cleanse thy soul of all self-deceit and hypocrisy and vain self-flattering that thou mayst look straight into thy spirit and hear that which summons it. All insincerity of nature, once thy defence against the eye of the Master and the light of the ideal, becomes now a gap in thy armour and invites the blow. Even if thou conquer for the moment, it is the worse for thee, for the blow shall come afterwards and cast thee down in the midst of thy triumph. But being pure cast aside all fear; for the hour is often terrible, a fire and a whirlwind and a tempest, a treading of the winepress of the wrath of God; but he who can stand up in it on the truth of his purpose is he who shall stand; even though he fall, he shall rise again, even though he seem to pass on the wings of the wind, he shall return. Nor let worldly prudence whisper too closely in thy ear; for it is the hour of the unexpected, the incalculable, the immeasurable. Mete not the power of the Breath by thy petty instruments, but trust and go forward. But most keep thy soul clear, even if for a while, of the clamour of the ego. Then shall a fire march before thee in the night and the storm be thy helper and thy flag shall wave on the highest height of the greatness that was to be conquered. These are words from The Hour of God written by Sri Aurobindo. This is Sri Aurobindo’s clarion call to another dharmayuddha, the one that must be fought and won within, as the dharmayuddha of old was fought and won within, long before adharma was conquered on the battlefield without. A dharmayuddha is a battle for the soul. This is what makes it infinitely more critical than the outer battles for wealth or territory. The future of civilization on earth will be determined by who conquers the spiritual space – the devas or the asuras. The devas are the forces of Light, the asuras are those who deny the Light. Dharma is the establishment of the Light of the highest Truth. In an earlier spiritual epoch, when the last dharmayuddha was fought, this Light was Sri Krishna’s, for Sri Krishna embodied that highest Truth and its Force. Today, in the twenty-first century, it is Sri Aurobindo who embodies this highest Truth and Force. It is Sri Aurobindo’s Truth and Light that must be brought down into the soul, and established in the battlefield which is civilization itself. These are not abstractions: these are hard realities that every one of us is confronting in our day to day lives, across the world. There are many who are calling this a civilizational battle, a battle of narratives, and it may very well be so. The details change with the spirit or dharma of the age. But the fundamentals remain the same. And they have remained the same since the first great devas fought the first great asuras, equal in strength and force and will, in that primeval mystical event we call the great churning.  Such a churning, intense and profound, is happening today as well. If one is even a bit open to the play of forces in this universe, one will feel the vast swells of this churning, like an ocean right beneath one’s surface consciousness. And it is everywhere, raging in everyone, only the intensity of consciousness varies.  If this dharmayuddha has to be won again, if we are to ascend to our next evolutionary plane, we must ask for a higher intervention, a higher and more potent Truth-Force. We need to invoke, as consciously as we can, the Light and Force of the highest Truth that we can access. This Truth was brought down for us, through a lifetime’s intense tapasya, by the Maharishi of this spiritual age, Sri Aurobindo. Many know him inwardly as the avatar of the new age; many know him intimately as the Jagat Guru; many know of him as the great Yogi and Sage of Pondicherry. It does not matter how one knows him, or of him: what matters is the fact that there is such a vast Presence of the Divine amongst us, guiding and aiding all those who are sincerely open to the truth of the future, and carrying forth those who give themselves willingly to the Truth that he represents and embodies, what he calls the Supramental Truth.  This is the time to invoke the Supramental Truth for earth and humanity, for it is this Truth that will be our armor and our great astra in our battle for the eternal dharma. This is the Truth that we need to invoke. Sri Aurobindo’s Truth. In invoking Sri Aurobindo’s Truth, we will invoke the Force and Light at multiple levels simultaneously: the inner psychic, the higher spiritual, the all-comprehensive supramental, and the all-transcending, integral Sachchidananda where all consciousness, and all existences and universes merge into a single stream of eternal Light and Bliss.  Let us remember that this invocation does not need mental knowledge. We do not need to know in order to invoke. Invocation itself brings the knowledge. No embodied consciousness, anyway, can know Sri Aurobindo’s Truth. But we can, using our deeper power and faculty of psychic intuition,  invoke Sri Aurobindo’s Truth, without needing to mentally know or understand. Invocation is the deep secret of all mysticism and religion: nothing can exceed the power and effectivity of invocation. To invoke is to give oneself to what one invokes. The truly effective invocation is when the one who invokes becomes the invocation. Our Rishis of old knew that. Thus, they became flames of invocation themselves, beings of Agni, and plunged into the very forces of the dark and the obscure. The Vedic Rishis used the power of Yajna to invoke the great Gods, the Devas, the embodiments of  Light and Truth. All invocations of the Divine needed the concentrated power of the Yajna. Indeed, the Yajna is the key to all higher realizations. In this day and age, Yajna has lost its truth and power and has become an external ritual without much inner significance. Therefore, the Yajna has to be restored to its original Vedic significance. To invoke the higher Truth and Shakti, we must resort to Yajna, for that remains  the most effective and efficient tool.  To undertake Yajna, we must first stand as the Yajman, the initiator of the Yajna, and the one who must preside over the Yajna. To stand as the Yajman, only one condition needs to be fulfilled: sacrifice of the personal. As the yajman, one has to take the stride from the personal to the terrestrial. The yajman cannot be an individual: she or he must be representative of the collective, the samuha, one who stands for earth and represents the race. The Yajna demands the absolute and utter sacrifice of the personal consciousness in the Vast of Brahman.  This is the deep import of the mantra Om Svaha…To Thee I give and give utterly… not as myself, a small and limited personality, but as the vast, the terrestrial, the one who stands for human consciousness itself. All that is petty and limited in me, I offer to the Vast… Om Svaha…  This Yajna for Sri Aurobindo’s Truth must be terrestrial, for Sri Aurobindo’s Truth is of the brihat, the divine Vast. Sri Aurobindo’s own Yoga was for the Divine and for the earth, not for himself. He paved the way for those who would follow as the forerunners of the Luminous Future. Thus, our own Yajna must be impersonal, terrestrial, cosmic. Any trace of self-interest or expectation of personal gain, material or spiritual, would be an asuddhi and would instantly corrupt the Yajna and turn the fires downward, into patala instead of svarga. Patala, as we would know, is the domain of the asura, where all darkness rests self-gathered. By sacrificing one’s personal self, the greatest and most difficult of all sacrifices, one recovers from the ancient sleep of the unconscious and awakes to the luminous, the true, the eternal. This is the essential condition for the invocation of Truth and Light. He who must invoke the Light must first be awake to the Light. Thus the yajman, as representative of the tribe or the race, presides over the Yajna and lights the sacrificial fire to the resounding sounds of the old Vedic hymn…  May all this go to Thee, for all this we offer to Thee…nothing of all this, neither the Sacrifice, nor the oblations, nor even the fruits of the Sacrifice, belong to us… idam na mama… nothing of this is mine, nothing of this is mine… The Yajna is a self-giving and self-emptying. All must be offered and nothing kept back. With each offering, the yajman must affirm that he or she gives utterly of himself or herself — Om Svaha. Then, indeed, the yajman is no longer an external agent presiding over the Yajna but has himself become the sacrifice and the priest who offers the sacrifice; his own physical body has become the havan-kund, the sacrificial pit, the core of the Yajna, and his own inner movements have become the various oblations to Agni, the undying Shakti of the Divine.  And each time one offers oneself to the Divine, one receives a portion of the Divine: this is the ancient law, and the beauty of the Yajna. Ishvara or the Self seated within, our inmost Narayan, receives the offering, sanctifies it by His touch, and returns it to our consciousness, made whole and holy. This loop of giving and receiving between the yajman without and Narayan within is the sacred process of the Yajna, and it is only by Narayan’s sanctification and blessings that the Yajna proceeds from one stage to the next. As one gives of one’s mind and will, one’s desires and actions, one receives into oneself a little of the Divine Light, for, by the occult laws of the Yajna, what one gives is returned sanctified, as Light and Substance of the devas. And thus, the devas descend, bit by bit, sacrifice by sacrifice, into our human terrestrial substance.   Understanding something of all this, we understand a little bit of the profound mystery of Sri Aurobindo’s Truth and Light. At least, a first ray of understanding descends into the mind and heart.  सत्यं श्री अरविन्दस्य आविर्भवतु पृथिव्याम् May Sri Aurobindo’s Truth manifest upon earth And may this understanding and knowledge spread in all directions, be scattered with the winds and waters, and reach all those who thirst for the divine Truth and Light… may such be our prayer and our aspiration.. Om Svaha. 15th August, 2022
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Sri Aurobindo and India’s Destiny

Pencil drawing of Sri Aurobindo by The Mother, 1935 A day will dawn when people of all classes in my country will band together as one living mass at the sacred altar of the World-Mother, represented here by our Motherland and face the rest of [the] world with heads held high. ( Sri Aurobindo ) Rarely in the history of nations has a single person’s spiritual influence shaped so profoundly a nation’s destiny as Sri Aurobindo’s has shaped India’s. Yet, this is not a widely known or understood fact as the modern Indian mind has lost its connection with the spiritual dimension of life. This is somewhat ironical because the Indian civilization has been influenced and shaped through millennia by some of the greatest spiritual seers ever to have walked the earth. Before Sri Aurobindo, and in recent history, the redoubtable Swami Vivekananda caused seismic shifts in Indian civilization by his enormous spiritual force. Indians are no strangers to spiritual and Yogic phenomena. Some of the greatest influencers and architects of Indian civilization and culture have been the Rishis and the Yogis, the great preceptors of the Sanatan Dharma. It is because of this that the Indian civilization has always been nurtured by the perennial streams of living Dharma. Dharma has thrived in India and grown in power because of these legendary seers and prophets. Most of these seers lived and worked in complete seclusion and anonymity, influencing a million lives and events from their mountain caves or forest ashrams.  Sri Aurobindo was amongst the last great Maharishis of the Sanatan Dharma who occultly influenced and shaped India’s destiny from his seclusion in Pondicherry. His life and his Yoga were not for all to see or know. What he himself revealed to disciples of his Yoga was only the tip of a massive iceberg. What he did for humanity, and what he did for India, will take several centuries to unfold, for the results of a Yogic mission such as his become embedded in the very fabric of universal time and evolution.  Yet, Sri Aurobindo remains a peripheral, somewhat mythical, figure of Indian history for most educated Indians. This has been the unutterable tragedy of modern India — the educated Indian has been alienated from his own dharma through several generations, first by our erstwhile British rulers and then by our own thought leaders, since 1947, hell-bent on transforming Indian polity and society to western secularism, liberalism and socialism. As a consequence, generations of Indians have grown up floundering, rootless and groundless, with little or no knowledge of their own heritage or destiny.  Most young Indians do not learn much of Sri Aurobindo from their history books. The most that they are taught is that he was a political revolutionary who quit politics and retired to Pondicherry to do Yoga. But then, they are not given any further knowledge of India’s vast Yogic tradition or of the rich national politics of those times either. They have no idea of why Sri Aurobindo left politics and what he did after leaving politics. The history of Indian nationalism, within years of Sri Aurobindo’s retirement, became overshadowed by Gandhi, and most other luminaries of the freedom struggle were reduced to footnotes.  Few amongst us would know that Sri Aurobindo was the first political leader to proclaim that India was not merely a landmass but a living consciousness, a Divine Shakti, that needs to be awakened. Sri Aurobindo was indeed the great purohit, the High Priest, who lit the sacrificial fires of the great Yajna for India’s freedom; he was the first to invoke India as Shakti, as the divine Bhawani Bharati —  What is our mother-country? It is not a piece of earth, nor a figure of speech, nor a fiction of the mind. It is a mighty Shakti, composed of the Shaktis of all the millions of units that make up the nation, just as Bhawani Mahisha Mardini sprang into being from the Shakti of all the millions of gods assembled in one mass of force and welded into unity. The Shakti we call India, Bhawani Bharati, is the living unity of the Shaktis of three hundred million people….  Sri Aurobindo’s own deeper Yoga began with his quest for spiritual power that he could place at the service of his motherland. For Sri Aurobindo, the fight for India’s freedom was spiritual first and then political, for political freedom would mean little without spiritual freedom. Only as a spiritually free nation would India be able to fulfill her destined role as jagat-guru amongst the nations of the world. This was Sri Aurobindo’s dream for India, and this was the seed of future greatness that was planted in the very bosom of India, the truth that India had borne in her soul since the beginning of her ancient civilization. India’s freedom as a nation and a civilization was thus inevitable in the divine scheme of things, but what still had to be worked out was the way, the process, the details of the Mahayajna. Sri Aurobindo, as the great devas and maharishis of old, spoke of India’s future from the highest planes of truth-consciousness: India cannot perish, our race cannot become extinct, because among all the divisions of mankind it is to India that is reserved the highest and the most splendid destiny, the most essential to the future of the human race. It is she who must send forth from herself the future religion of the entire world, the Eternal Religion which is to harmonize all religion, science and philosophies and make mankind one soul. This future religion of the entire world that Sri Aurobindo reveals is the religion born of Man’s timeless spiritual quest for Truth, Unity and Perfection, the religion of the soul, that which will unify and harmonize all humanity, synthesize all civilizations and cultures and lead the human species to a higher consciousness. In other words, the eternal religion India has to bring to the world will be the religion of an integral Yoga, a religion that will finally bridge the chasm between life and spirituality, matter and spirit, body and soul.  It is for this ultimate purpose of world transformation that India has birthed, and nurtured through millennia, the Sanatan Dharma; and it is for this that Sri Aurobindo himself embodied the Sanatan Dharma and brought it into the collective consciousness of Indians in those formative years of India’s nationhood and established the Sanatan Dharma as the true basis and framework for a pan-Indian spiritual nationalism. Or dharmic nationalism, if you will. Let us recall those profound and mighty words from his Uttarpara speech: I say that it is the Sanatan Dharma which for us is nationalism. This Hindu nation was born with the Sanatan Dharma, with it, it moves and with it, it grows. When the Sanatan Dharma declines, then the nation declines, and if the Sanatan Dharma were capable of perishing, with the Sanatan Dharma it would perish. The Sanatan Dharma, that is nationalism. Sri Aurobindo, thus, was the first prophet of spiritual or dharmic nationalism. He, by his work, his speeches and writings, and his own active leadership spiritualized Indian nationalism and politics; and in doing so, he also paved the way for dharmic politics and economics in India, the old concept of Ram Rajya, the kingdom of God on earth. The culmination of political governance will have to be in a Ram Rajya of the future, and the culmination of economics and business will have to be a dharmic or spiritual blend of capitalism and communism, purified of the distortions of the unregenerate human nature driven by egoistic fear and greed. This is yet another aspect of Sri Aurobindo’s creative vision for India and the world. It must be remembered that spiritual nationalism is not the same as the self-limiting, self-aggrandizing exclusivist nationalism the world is used to; being spiritual, this form of nationalism will be an expression of a nation’s soul, its spiritual and civilizational essence, and will necessarily be in harmony with all other nationalistic expressions and aspirations, even as various notes of music blend to create symphony. As Sri Aurobindo would say, harmony is the law of spiritual life. Sri Aurobindo saw clearly that India, of all nations in the world, with her enormous cultural heritage and spiritual and Yogic knowledge, would be the best equipped to lead this change to a new and more conscious world order. But spiritual nationalism must be founded on spiritual consciousness, for it cannot be an intellectual ideal or a mere philosophical system. The individual, therefore, must first find in himself or herself the spiritual consciousness and truth, and then make that the basis for a wider social and national life. In other words, the framework and basis for the individual, the society and the nation will have to become increasingly dharmic, spiritual. And therefore, Sri Aurobindo’s insistence on spiritual freedom and truth consciousness as the foundation for social and national existence. How many amongst us today realize the enormous significance of spirituality and dharma in our daily lives and action? Spirituality, once the vital life-force of Indian civilization, has now shrunk to facile new age practices and the psychobabble of self-proclaimed and self-marketed gurus, or worse, has been reduced to practices and mindless rituals of the pandit. In our social and national life, spirituality has all but disappeared. From the high ideals of dharmic politics and governance that Sri Aurobindo held in his vision for a future India, we have been reduced to intractable systemic corruption that has sapped the lifeblood of our nation. A return to some semblance of Dharma in the nation’s political life has just started, but there is still a long way to go. It is now, in these circumstances raging around us, that we need to return to Sri Aurobindo’s Truth and Light. Each of us needs to do this, for each of us individually will add to the gathering force of the Truth. Small waves make a tsunami. Again, in Sri Aurobindo’s words: India of the ages is not dead nor has she spoken her last creative word; she lives and has still something to do for herself and the human peoples… [T]hat which must seek now to awake is…still the ancient immemorable Shakti recovering her deepest self, lifting her head higher towards the supreme source of light and strength and turning to discover the complete meaning and a vaster form of her Dharma. In a very real sense, Sri Aurobindo is the custodian of India’s eternal Dharma; he, more than anyone else, saw how absolutely indispensable was India’s Dharma to India’s future and proclaimed the urgent necessity to recover and rejuvenate India’s Dharma. But, in an ironical twist of fate, even as Sri Aurobindo labored to awaken the nation’s Shakti, the then political leaders of our nation and the arbiters of her destiny were turning away from the Dharma and vigorously replacing it with newfangled notions of social justice, economic equality and political sophistication, overlooking the simple fact that without a Dharmic base and framework, no political, economic or social edifice would stand for too long. Unbeknownst to most Indians of that time, our national leaders were steering India away from her essential Indianness towards westernized universalism.  Far from awakening the Shakti within, the common Indian, the aam aadmi, has slipped into an enervating materialism while the intelligentsia, the buddhijeevi, has turned to half-baked ideals of secular socialism. Instead of turning to Dharma, India has turned to dharma-nirapekhsata. Dharma-nirapekhsata is the Hindi word commonly used for secularism. The word ‘nirapeksha’ in its truest sense implies disregard, indifference, independence. It is a beautiful word when used in its Yogic or spiritual sense, but when used with Dharma (to denote the western concept of secularism), it turns on its head. Once again, as we enter the 74th year of our life as a free nation, there are visible the first definitive signs of a return to the true dharma of India and a definite rejection of the western idea of secularism. But here too, we have a long way to go and must turn more consciously and resolutely to Sri Aurobindo’s Truth, for in his Truth alone we will recover the key to balance and harmony. But turning to Sri Aurobindo’s Truth is not always easy or even possible. The old falsehoods will inevitably stand in the way. As it has happened before, in more critical times. In 1942, five years before Independence, the British government had sent the famous Cripps Proposal to the then Indian leadership under Gandhi. Had this proposal been accepted, it would have paved the way for Indian independence without partition. Sri Aurobindo, still very much in inner touch with all political developments in India and the world, had seen that possibility immediately and had publicly expressed his support for the Cripps proposal. He had sent his emissaries to Gandhi and other leaders to persuade them to accept the proposal. But Gandhi refused, purportedly with the comment that Yogis should have nothing to do with politics. This, from a leader who claimed to be a follower of the Sanatan Dharma; and this, in a country that traditionally honors and respects the counsel of its seers and prophets! However, India missed a historical chance when her leaders did not pay heed to the words of the Jagat Guru, and hurtled headlong towards disaster, a blunder for which each successive generation of Indians has paid an exacting price. It is worth recalling Sri Aurobindo’s words from the message he broadcast to the nation on 15th August 1947 — For if it [the partition] lasts, India may be seriously weakened, even crippled: civil strife may remain always possible, possible even a new invasion and foreign conquest. India’s internal development and prosperity may be impeded, her position among the nations weakened, her destiny impaired or even frustrated. This must not be; the partition must go. Contemporary India continues to live through the malaise of economic reservations, minority appeasement, communalism and corruption, all of which could have been avoided had India’s leadership aligned itself to the true Dharma when it mattered most. However, all nations, like individuals, have a certain karma that even the Divine cannot alter. But we can learn and grow more conscious. As Sri Aurobindo says, by our stumbling the world is perfected. So we need to grow conscious not only of our strengths but also of our frailties, not only of our high destiny but also of all the forces ranged against us, determined to thwart that destiny. The resistance to a dharmic India is still strong and adamant. Much more needs to be done if India has to awaken to her truth. Indians, or at least those who carry India in their hearts and minds, must turn to the highest truth, the highest dharma, that they can access. And that which they can access, with only a little labor of love, is the Truth that Sri Aurobindo embodies and represents. Sri Aurobindo needs to be read, researched, discussed, debated, understood and applied widely, across the country. Sri Aurobindo’s vast vision and work has still not found place in Indian public or academic discourse, even decades after independence. Our schools and universities hardly touch Sri Aurobindo at any depth. Only a superficial and cursory mention is made of him as the freedom fighter who renounced political life. Hardly anything beyond that. Few students of Indian history today know of Sri Aurobindo as the prophet of Indian nationalism, as the first radical revolutionary in India’s struggle for freedom, as a poet and writer of rare eminence, as a Mahayogi and Maharishi of Indian spirituality. This is a historical anomaly that needs to be vigorously corrected.  We need to learn and understand deeply how Sri Aurobindo, from the 1870s to 1950, right through the critical formative years of India, shaped India’s destiny by his Yogic force and will. This may be difficult to grasp for most, but we owe ourselves this knowledge and understanding. Sri Aurobindo is India’s inestimable heritage and he must be presented to the educated Indian and to the Indian youth objectively, rationally, cogently.  Let us recall Sri Aurobindo’s message to the Indian youth — Our first necessity, if India is to survive and do her appointed work in the world, is that the youth of India should learn to think, – to think on all subjects, to think independently, fruitfully, going to the heart of things, not stopped by their surface, free of prejudgments, shearing sophism and prejudice asunder as with a sharp sword, smiting down obscurantism of all kinds as with the mace of Bhima… These are not mere words, this is an invocation of yuvashakti, the power of the young, and not just the young in age but the young in mind and spirit. To understand and live Sri Aurobindo’s Truth, we need to be clear as crystal in the mind and strong as lion in the heart, and ageless in spirit; we need to make of ourselves the true hero-warriors of the Divine Shakti.  In the words of the Mother, Sri Aurobindo’s divine collaborator in his Work and Yoga — Sri Aurobindo always loved deeply his Motherland. But he wished her to be great, noble, pure and worthy of her big mission in the world. He refused to let her sink to the sordid and vulgar level of blind self-interests and ignorant prejudices. This is why, in full conformity to his will, we lift high the standard of truth, progress and transformation of mankind, without caring for those who, through ignorance, stupidity, envy or bad will, seek to soil it and drag it down into the mud. We carry it very high so that all who have a soul may see it and gather round it. It was obviously no coincidence that India’s independence day fell on Sri Aurobindo’s birthday, the 15th of August. In his message to the nation on 15th August, Sri Aurobindo had said:  August 15th, 1947 is the birthday of free India. It marks for her the end of an old era, the beginning of a new age. But we can also make it by our life and acts as a free nation an important date in a new age opening for the whole world, for the political, social, cultural and spiritual future of humanity. August 15th is my own birthday and it is naturally gratifying to me that it should have assumed this vast significance. I take this coincidence, not as a fortuitous accident, but as the sanction and seal of the Divine Force that guides my steps on the work with which I began life, the beginning of its full fruition. Indeed, on this day I can watch almost all the world-movements which I hoped to see fulfilled in my lifetime, though then they looked like impracticable dreams, arriving at fruition or on their way to achievement. In all these movements free India may well play a large part and take a leading position. Let us remember that though Sri Aurobindo struggled all his life for India and India’s highest and widest freedom, he was not limited in his vision and will to India alone. For him India was the starting point of a human transformation, the hub of a universal evolution of consciousness. I have always held and said that India was rising, not to serve her own material interest only, to achieve expansion, greatness, power and prosperity,.. though these too she must not neglect.., and certainly not like others to acquire domination of other peoples, but to live also for God and the world as a helper and a leader of the whole human race, he had said in his message to the nation.  To limit Sri Aurobindo to India alone would be a disservice to his work and his legacy. Sri Aurobindo labored for all humanity; all that he attempted and attained was for all humanity and for the Divine in humanity. If there is one who can be said to belong to the world, it is Sri Aurobindo. Sri Aurobindo’s Truth is the future of the human species, it is the path to the true Kingdom of God on earth, it is the Truth of the Divine still to be realized in the mind, life and body of earth. Sri Aurobindo opened for us life’s highest possibility and hope. Even the briefest glimpse of his Truth can uplift the spirit and mind in a trice to the highest.  The world needs such a vision and an inspiration, and desperately so; and India, most of all. सत्यं श्री अरविन्दस्य आविर्भवतु पृथिव्याम् ॥May Sri Aurobindo’s Truth manifest upon earth
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Who is Sri Aurobindo ?

Once in the early years of my life in the Ashram I wrote to Sri Aurobindo, “How people calling to Shiva or Krishna or their Ishta Devata get responses from you I don’t understand,” he replied, “Who is Shiva? and who is Krishna? and what is an Ishta Devata? There is only one Divine, not a thousand Divines.” Myself: “It would mean that wherever a sincere heart is aspiring for the Divine, his aspiration reaches your ears.” Sri Aurobindo: “Why my ears? Ears are not necessary for the purpose. You might as well say, reaches me by the post.” I then protested, “No, Sir, I am satisfied with you as Sri Aurobindo pure and simple. I don’t need anybody else.” He wrote back, “No objection. I only suggested that I don’t know who this Sri Aurobindo pure and simple is. If you do, I congratulate you.” Since then, my relation with him had become very intimate. I gradually came to know many aspects of his personality, but never who he really was. My correspondence with him has shown that I dared to take liberties with him (which was considered unthinkable by other sadhaks). Once I wrote to him, “Cut me or beat me, Sir, but don’t forsake me.” And the answer he wrote back startled me and filled me with a sudden delight and assurance beyond measure. He wrote. “Never. But beat you, a lot.” This assurance has sustained and will sustain me even in my future life, if I may say so. Once I dared to ask him, “Where do you get so much sense of humour?” His cryptic reply: “raso vai sah” (verily He is Delight.) Then one day when I asked him “Why are you so soft and free as if I’m your comrade?” he gave an enigmatic answer: “Find out for yourself.” When I failed to find out, he wrote, “It is not by the mind that you can find out.” Till now I have failed to discover why. The enigma remains unsolved and I live with the hope that perhaps he will divulge the secret as he had divulged to Dilip the cause of his intimacy with him. But he has made me stick to him till now and perhaps forever. But my knowledge of him has grown as far as my small human understanding can allow. And I have come to this conclusion that what he has written about Sri Krishna in fact applies to him too. In his estimation Sri Krishna had an unfathomable mind of knowledge. However, Sri Aurobindo remains an enigma to the world. The Mother herself has admitted that she had failed to know him though she had lived with him for more than 30 years. To a disciple who wished to write his biography, he remarked that his life has not been on the surface for people to see. The vast world of knowledge he had possessed remains unparalleled. He has himself admitted to us that what he knows will remain untold even if he goes on writing for twelve years. We asked him, “Will all that knowledge remain unknown to us and posterity?” “Learn first of all what I have written,” he replied with a sweet smile, and added. “I am afraid I have come perhaps before my time.” Comes to mind a mighty line from one of his poems: “I have drunk the Infinite like a giant’s wine.” Only with the help of such a Wine could he have given to India and the world his four major contributions: a national awakening and fiery thirst for total independence, a new and deeper interpretation of the Vedas, the rediscovery of the Supermind, and a life-embracing system of Integral Yoga. The question that makes us marvel with wonder is how within a short span of years he could gather so vast a knowledge, and even record it, which would need at least a hundred years. The Mother holds an answer to that enigma. She said that he had only to sit before the typewriter and knowledge would pour down like a stream from above. And is it only knowledge? What about the beauty of expression, perfection of style and masterly composition? We remember that when his immortal book ‘The Life Divine’ had been published, the Times Literary Supplement’s front page article described Sri Aurobindo as “an author who writes with the sky for page and the constellations as his company,” and as “a new kind of thinker who combines the serenity of the East and the alacrity of the West.” Romain Rolland, a great French savant, said about Sri Aurobindo, “The old leader of the Bengal revolt, who is now one of the greatest thinkers of modern India, has realized the most complete synthesis achieved up to the present between the genius of the West and of the East.” He also said that Sri Aurobindo is the last of the great Rishis who holds the creative bow in his hand. If this is about the Man of Knowledge, what about the human being he was? What has he not done for the human race? We know he sacrificed his inestimable life for the incalculable benefit of man. In the Mother’s revelation to Dr. Sanyal, a famous surgeon who was called to treat Sri Aurobindo, “People do not know what a tremendous sacrifice he has made for the world. About a year ago, while I was discussing things I remarked that I felt like leaving the body. He spoke out in a firm tone, ‘No, this can never be. If necessary for the transformation I might go, you will have to fulfil our yoga of supramental descent and transformation’.” She also said, “As soon as Sri Aurobindo withdrew from his body, what he called the Mind of Light got realised in me.” And his human body turned a golden colour for five days to the surprise of the public. But his immortal consciousness is ever with us guiding the destiny of the world, remaining with us in all our trials and tribulations and leading this woe-begotten race to its divine destiny for which he came to the world – a colonist from Immortality! What shall we then think of him? That he is as God himself is? Have we got the answer to his Question “Who is Sri Aurobindo?” Or will he remain a marvellous enigma forever? Our deep gratitude to Nirodbaran, fondly known amongst his students and followers as Nirod-da.
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In Sri Aurobindo’s Words

August 15th, 1947 is the birthday of free India. It marks for her the end of an old era, the beginning of a new age. But we can also make it by our life and acts as a free nation an important date in a new age opening for the whole world, for the political, social, cultural and spiritual future of humanity. August 15th is my own birthday and it is naturally gratifying to me that it should have assumed this vast significance. I take this coincidence, not as a fortuitous accident, but as the sanction and seal of the Divine Force that guides my steps on the work with which I began life, the beginning of its full fruition. Indeed, on this day I can watch almost all the world-movements which I hoped to see fulfilled in my lifetime, though then they looked like impracticable dreams, arriving at fruition or on their way to achievement. In all these movements free India may well play a large part and take a leading position. — Excerpted from the the 15th of August 1947 Message by Sri Aurobindo which he wrote at the request of All India Radio, Tiruchirapalli, India, for broadcast on the eve of India’s independence.  India cannot perish, our race cannot become extinct, because among all the divisions of mankind it is to India that is reserved the highest and the most splendid destiny, the most essential to the future of the human race. It is she who must send forth from herself the future religion of the entire world, the Eternal Religion which is to harmonize all religion, science and philosophies and make mankind one  soul. We are no ordinary race. We are a people ancient as our hills and rivers and we have behind us a history of manifold greatness, not surpassed by any other race. We are the descendents of those who performed tapasya and underwent unheard-of austerities for the sake of spiritual gain and of their own will submitted to all the sufferings of which humanity is capable. We are the children of those mothers who ascended with a smile the funeral pyre that they might follow their husbands to another world. We are people to whom suffering is welcome and who have a spiritual strength within them, greater than any physical force. We are a people in whom God has chosen to manifest Himself more than any other at many great moments of our  history. Why should not India then be the first power in the world? Who else has the undisputed right to extend spiritual sway over the world? This was Swami Vivekananda’s plan of campaign. India can once more be made conscious of her greatness by an overmastering sense of the greatness of her spirituality. This sense of greatness is the main feeder of all patriotism. This only can put an end to all self-depreciation and generate a burning desire to recover the lost ground.  It will be well when every Indian, instead of taking a waxlike stamp from his foreign surroundings, is able to carry India with him wherever he goes. For that will mean that India is destined to conquer and place her stamp upon the whole world.  India can best develop herself and serve humanity by being herself and following the law of her own nature. This does not mean, as some narrowly and blindly suppose, the rejection of everything new that comes to us in the stream of Time or happens to have been first developed or powerfully expressed by the West. Such an attitude would be intellectually absurd, physically impossible, and above all unspiritual; true spirituality rejects no new light, no added means or materials of our human self-development. It means simply to keep our centre, our essential way of being, our inborn nature and assimilate to it all we receive, and evolve out of it all we do and create. Our first necessity, if India is to survive and do her appointed work in the world, is that the youth of India should learn to think, – to think on all subjects, to think independently, fruitfully, going to the heart of things, not stopped by their surface, free of prejudgments, shearing sophism and prejudice asunder as with a sharp sword, smiting down obscurantism of all kinds as with the mace of Bhima…  It is only the Indian who can believe everything, dare everything, sacrifice everything. First, therefore, become Indians. Recover the patrimony of your forefathers. Recover the Aryan thought, the Aryan discipline, the Aryan character, the Aryan life. Recover the Vedanta, the Gita, the Yoga. Recover them not only in intellect or sentiment but in your lives. Live them and you will be great and strong, mighty, invincible and fearless. Neither life nor death will have any terror for you. Difficulty and impossibility will vanish from your vocabularies.  That is all settled. It is a question of working out only. The question is what is India going to do with her independence? The above kind of affair? Bolshevism? Goonda-raj? Things look ominous. “Have I not told you that the independence is all arranged for and will evolve itself all right? Then what’s the use of my bothering about that any longer? It’s what she will do with her independence that is not arranged for — and so it is that about which I have to bother. — On being questioned about India’s independence, September 1935  As regards Bengal, things are certainly very bad; the conditions of the Hindus there are terrible and they may even get worse in spite of the interim mariage de convenance at Delhi. But we must not let our reaction to it become excessive or suggest despair. There must be at least 20 million Hindus in Bengal and they are not going to be exterminated,— even Hitler with his scientific methods of massacre could not exterminate the Jews who are still showing themselves very much alive and, as for Hindu culture, it is not such a weak and fluffy thing as to be easily stamped out; it has lasted through something like 5 millenniums at least and is going to carry on much longer and has accumulated quite enough power to survive. What is happening did not come to me as a surprise. I foresaw it when I was in Bengal and warned people that it was probable and almost inevitable and that they should be prepared for it. At that time no one attached any value to what I said although some afterwards remembered and admitted, when the trouble first began, that I have been right; only C. R. Das had grave apprehensions and he even told me when he came to Pondicherry that he would not like the British to go out until this dangerous problem had been settled. But I have not been discouraged by what is happening, because I know and have experienced hundreds of times that beyond the blackest darkness there lies for one who is a divine instrument the light of God’s victory. I have never had a strong and persistent will for anything to happen in the world — I am not speaking of personal things — which did not eventually happen even after delay, defeat or even disaster. There was a time when Hitler was victorious everywhere and it seemed certain that a black yoke of the Asura would be imposed on the whole world; but where is Hitler now and where is his rule? Berlin and Nuremberg have marked the end of that dreadful chapter in human history. Other blacknesses threaten to overshadow or even engulf mankind, but they too will end as that nightmare has ended. I cannot write fully in this letter of all things which justify my confidence — some day perhaps I shall be able to do it. — The Communal Problem, 19 October 1946  Sri Aurobindo is in no way bound by the present world’s institutions or current ideas whether in the political, social or economic field; it is not necessary for him either to approve or disapprove of them. He does not regard either capitalism or orthodox socialism as the right solution for the world’s future; nor can he admit that the admission of private enterprise by itself makes the society capitalistic, a socialistic economy can very well admit some amount of controlled or subordinated private enterprise as an aid to its own working or a partial convenience without ceasing to be socialistic. Sri Aurobindo has his own view as to how far Congress economy is intended to be truly socialistic or whether that is only a cover, but he does not care to express his view on that point at present. — Capitalism and Socialism, 15 April 1949. Sri Aurobindo dictated this note to his secretary, who replied to the correspondent.  We have to awaken the true soul of India and to do everything in accordance with it. For the last ten years I have been silently pouring my influence into this foreign political vessel, and there has been some result. I can continue to do this wherever necessary. But if I took up that work openly again, associating with the political leaders and working with them, it would be supporting an alien law of being and a false political life. People now want to spiritualise politics — Gandhi, for instance. But he can’t get hold of the Right way. What is Gandhi doing? Making a hodgepodge called satyagraha out of “Ahimsa parama dharma”, Jainism, hartal, passive resistance, etc.; bringing a sort of Indianised Tolstoyism into the country. The result—if there is any lasting result—will be a sort of Indianised Bolshevism. I have no objection to his work; let each one act according to his own inspiration. But it is not the real thing. If the spiritual force is poured into these impure forms—the wine of the spirit into these unbaked vessels—the imperfect things will break apart and spill and waste the wine. Or else the spiritual force will evaporate and only the impure form remain. It is the same in every field of activity. I could use my spiritual influence; it would give strength to those who received it and they would work with great energy. But the force would be expended in shaping the image of a monkey and setting it up in the temple of Shiva. If the monkey is brought to life it may grow powerful, and in the guise of the devotee Hanuman do much work for Rama—so long as the life and strength remain. But in the temple of India we want not Hanuman but the Godhead, the Avatar, Rama himself.  We, however, are not worshippers of power; we are worshippers of the easy way. But one cannot obtain power by the easy way. Our forefathers swam in a vast sea of thought and gained a vast knowledge; they established a vast civilisation. But as they went forward on their path they were overcome by exhaustion and weariness. The force of their thought decreased, and along with it decreased the force of their creative power. Our civilisation has become a stagnant backwater, our religion a bigotry of externals, our spirituality a faint glimmer of light or a momentary wave of intoxication. So long as this state of things lasts, any permanent resurgence of India is impossible. — Excerpted from Sri Aurobindo’s letter to his brother, Barin I realised what the Hindu religion meant. We speak often of the Hindu religion, of the Sanatan Dharma, but few of us really know what that religion is. Other religions are preponderatingly religions of faith and profession, but the Sanatan Dharma is life itself; it is a thing that has not so much to be believed as lived. This is the Dharma that for the salvation of humanity was cherished in the seclusion of this peninsula from of old. It is to give this religion that India is rising. She does not rise as other countries do, for self or when she is strong, to trample on the weak. She is rising to shed the eternal light entrusted to her over the world. India has always existed for humanity and not for herself and it is for humanity and not for herself that she must be great. This then is what I have to say to you. The name of your society is “Society for the Protection of Religion”. Well, the protection of the religion, the protection and upraising before the world of the Hindu religion, that is the work before us. But what is the Hindu religion ? What is this religion which we call Sanatan, eternal ? It is the Hindu religion only because the Hindu nation has kept it, because in this Peninsula it grew up in the seclusion of the sea and the Himalayas, because in this sacred and ancient land it was given as a charge to the Aryan race to preserve through the ages. But it is not circumscribed by the confines of a single country, it does not belong peculiarly and for ever to a bounded part of the world. That which we call the Hindu religion is really the eternal religion, because it is the universal religion which embraces all others. If a religion is not universal, it cannot be eternal. A narrow religion, a sectarian religion, an exclusive religion can live only for a limited time and a limited purpose. This is the one religion that can triumph over materialism by including and anticipating the discoveries of science and the speculations of philosophy. It is the one religion which impresses on mankind the closeness of God to us and embraces in its compass all the possible means by which man can approach God. It is the one religion which insists every moment on the truth which all religions acknowledge that He is in all men and all things and that in Him we move and have our being. It is the one religion which enables us not only to understand and believe this truth but to realise it with every part of our being. It is the one religion which shows the world what the world is, that it is the Lila of Vasudeva. It is the one religion which shows us how we can best play our part in that Lila, its subtlest laws and its noblest rules. It is the one religion which does not separate life in any smallest detail from religion, which knows what immortality is and has utterly removed from us the reality of death. This is the word that has been put into my mouth to speak to you today. What I intended to speak has been put away from me, and beyond what is given to me I have nothing to say. It is only the word that is put into me that I can speak to you. That word is now finished. I spoke once before with this force in me and I said then that this movement is not a political movement and that nationalism is not politics but a religion, a creed, a faith. I say it again today, but I put it in another way. I say no longer that nationalism is a creed, a religion, a faith; I say that it is the Sanatan Dharma which for us is nationalism. This Hindu nation was born with the Sanatan Dharma, with it it moves and with it it grows. When the Sanatan Dharma declines, then the nation declines, and if the Sanatan Dharma were capable of perishing, with the Sanatan Dharma it would perish. The Sanatan Dharma, that is nationalism. This is the message that I have to speak to you. — Excerpted from Sri Aurobindo’s Uttarpara Speech, 1909  Self-sacrifice involuntary or veiled by forms of selfishness is, however, the condition of our existence. It has been a gradual growth in humanity. The first sacrifices are always selfish—they involve the sacrifice of others for one’s own advancement. The first step forward is taken by the instinct of animal love in the mother who is ready to sacrifice her life for the young, by the instinct of protection in the male who is ready to sacrifice his life for his mate. The growth of this instinct is the sign of an enlargement in the conception of the self. So long as there is identification of self only with one’s own body and its desires, the state of the jiva is unprogressive and animal. It is only when the self enlarges to include the mate and the children that advancement becomes possible. This is the first human state, but the animal lingers in it in the view of the wife and children as chattels and possessions meant for one’s own pleasure, strength, dignity, comfort. The family even so viewed becomes the basis of civilisation, because it makes social life possible. But the real development of the god in man does not begin until the family becomes so much dearer than the life of the body that a man is ready to sacrifice himself for it and give up his ease or even his life for its welfare or its protection. To give up one’s ease for the family, that is a state which most men have attained; to give up one’s life for the honour of the wife or the safety of the home is an act of a higher nature of which man is capable in individuals, in classes, but not in the mass. Beyond the family comes the community and the next step in the enlargement of the self is when the identification with the self in the body and the self in the family gives way to the identification with the self in the community. To recognize that the community has a larger claim on a man than his family is the first condition of the advance to the social condition. It corresponds to the growth of the tribe out of the patriarchal family and to the perfection of those communal institutions of which our village community was a type. Here again, to be always prepared to sacrifice the family interest to the larger interest of the community must be the first condition of communal life and to give one’s life for the safety of the community, the act of divinity which marks the consummation of the enlarging self in the communal idea. The next enlargement is to the self in the nation. The evolution of the nation is the growth which is most important now to humanity, because human selfishness, family selfishness, class selfishness having still deep roots in the past must learn to efface themselves in the larger national self in order that the God in humanity may grow. Therefore it is that Nationalism is the dharma of the age, and God reveals himself to us in our common Mother…. There is a yet higher fulfillment for which only a few individuals have shown themselves ready, the enlargement of the self to include all humanity. A step forward has been taken in this direction by the self-immolation of a few to humanitarian ideals, but to sacrifice the interests of the nation to the larger interest of humanity is an act of which humanity in the mass is not yet capable. God prepares, but He does not hasten the ripening of the fruit before its season. — Nationalism as a step in the enlargement of human consciousness, 24 July, 1909 Spirituality is India’s only politics, the fulfillment of the Sanatan Dharma its only Swaraj. I have no doubt we shall have to go through our Parliamentary period in order to get rid of the notion of Western democracy by seeing in practice how helpless it is to make nations blessed.” We have to create strength where it did not exist before; we have to change our natures, and become new men with new hearts, to be born again … We need a nucleus of men in whom the Shakti is developed to its uttermost extent, in whom it fills every corner of the personality and overflows to fertilise the earth. These, having the fire of Bhawani in their hearts and brains, will go forth and carry the flame to every nook  and cranny of our land. Everyone has in him something divine, something his own, a chance of perfection and strength in however small a sphere which God offers him to take or refuse. The task is to find it, develop it & use it. The chief aim of education should be to help the growing soul to draw out that in itself which is best and make it perfect for a noble  use. Man is a transitional being. He is not final. The step from man to superman is the next approaching achievement in the earth evolution. It is inevitable because it is at once the intention of the inner spirit and the logic of nature’s process.  The ascent to the divine Life is the human journey, the Work of works, the acceptable Sacrifice. This alone is man’s real business in the world and the justification of his existence, without which he would only be an insect crawling among the ephemeral insects on a spec of surface mud and water which has managed to form itself amid the appalling immensities of the physical universe.  The one aim of [my] yoga is an inner self-development by which each one who follows it can in time discover the One Self in all and evolve a higher consciousness than the mental, a spiritual and supramental consciousness which will transform and divinize human nature. Sri Aurobindo’s 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. Signed: The Mother
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Startups, Intuition and Sri Aurobindo

This article is an attempt to look at my relationship and my journey with Sri Aurobindo, on the occasion of his 150th birth anniversary. To be perfectly honest, I do not know for sure when this journey began and how far back in time, or lifetimes, it goes. So I share what I am presently conscious of. First visit to Pondicherry – 2007 Around June 2007, the first startup I had cofounded with Nandini was acquired by a company in Bangalore. As part of the acquisition we moved to Bangalore. That year, Christmas was part of a long weekend. Everyone around was making travel plans. I also felt an inspiration to travel and looked online for suitable destinations. Quite serendipitously, I discovered the website of an Eco Resort located by the beach side close to Pondicherry. It was a large green property that seemed close to nature. They had some beautiful cottages spread across the property, each one designed with a unique theme. The food they served was grown and raised by them on the same property. We really liked the option and confirmed our bookings. After we reached the resort, we spent our time relaxing and reading at the resort and exploring Pondicherry. Back in those days, I was a staunch atheist, possibly because I grew up with an atheist father and was fairly influenced by modern western ideas and culture. I was totally closed to religion and spirituality of all kind, with no interest whatsoever. I guess this was the reason that even after spending a few days in and around Pondicherry I never even came to know about Sri Aurobindo or his ashram. Someone did talk to me about Auroville and suggested a visit but I dismissed the idea almost immediately.  Overall, the trip was very good. I still have a very vivid memory of the peace that I felt during the trip: the whole experience was, as if, made of peace and stillness. And this sense of peace became part of me and stayed with me, and it was this that brought me back to the same resort, and to Pondicherry, exactly a year later, on the Christmas weekend of 2008.  Looking back now, I can say with certitude that, during my first trip, even though on the surface I did not learn about Sri Aurobindo or visited his ashram or Auroville, at a deeper level, without my knowledge, Sri Aurobindo and the Mother had touched my soul and initiated me on to a path that would lead me towards them over the years. It was not yet time for me to step out of active worldly life, I still had to take up the work of setting up the “Morpheus Gang” — the first startup accelerator in India and a contributor to the startup revolution in India. And, hence, I am not at all surprised that within a week of returning to Bangalore from Pondicherry the idea of the Morpheus Gang began to manifest.  The idea of intuition  From 2008 January onwards, I got busy with the work of Morpheus Gang — which  was quickly growing into a community-driven startup accelerator, and a pioneer in the field. By 2011 our portfolio had grown to 36 startups. Sometime in the middle of 2011, while I was traveling by train from Delhi to Chandigarh, I began to wonder why certain startups in our portfolio would take off successfully and why some of them would fail to take off, even though all of them were backed up equally by intelligent hardworking founders. It became clear to me that startups were nothing but the extensions and reflections of the founders. Thus, I was moved to study the behaviours and working styles of the founders of the startups. As I had spent a lot of time working closely with almost all the founders, I began my research analyzing the data I already had with me.  It was during this process that I noticed a phenomenon that was common amongst founders of all startups that took off — an intuitive style of problem solving. This meant that while they were working on difficult problems in their startups, they were receiving certain insights or inspirations seemingly out of nowhere which were leading them to the best solutions. And even though these solutions could not be confirmed as being valid via any rational framework, they had the confidence to go ahead with them, and in almost all cases, these intuitive solutions turned out to be the most effective. So, intuition, to my mind, was the key behind startups that took off.  There were, of course, many questions — how does intuition work? Why does it work only in some founders and not in all? Why does it work at certain times but not always? Understanding the nature of intuition quickly became a passion in me. And much later I understood that this was a direct call by Sri Aurobindo, and it was the pursuit of intuition  that led me to him.  The first contact I was still an atheist who looked towards modern science as the source of knowledge. So, to understand the workings of intuition , I started reading the mind sciences like neurology and psychology. While these broadened my understanding of the workings of the brain, they categorically denied the existence of intuition. But, in my own experience, the presence of intuition was ever clearer and increasingly important. As I broadened my research, I saw that not only startup founders but all human pioneers across diverse fields had received their key ideas and insights through intuition. Based on publicly available information I studied the lives of pioneering men and women across disciplines like business, sciences, art, music, and sports, and for each one of them I found that the mystical phenomenon of intuition played a key role. So, if intuition as a phenomenon did exist and the sciences so far had not understood or acknowledged it, what could be done? I decided to take up the matter, create a scientific white paper based on my understanding on the workings of intuition and then collaborate with leading researchers and labs across the world to confirm my ideas.  That was early 2012 and my daughter Sanaa was then 3 years of age, ready to start her education. We did not want her to go through mainstream schooling and hence were looking for other possibilities. That is when a friend informed us about a school in Chandigarh, where we lived at that time, that followed an open and holistic pedagogy. This school was inspired by the educational philosophy of Sri Aurobindo, Integral Education. We soon joined this school community.  One particular day in the school library, I came across a book, Integral Education — Beyond Schooling, written by one of the founders of the same school. Out of curiosity I picked up the book and started flipping through it.  On page 5 there was a picture of the Mother dressed in a sari, and on the next page there was a picture of Sri Aurobindo, dressed in white dhoti. Both came across to me as some sort of spiritual gurus. The atheist in me did not feel good, so it wanted to close the book and put it back. But another part of me somehow convinced me to give the book a try. And so I continued reading.  It was this book that gave me the first direct contact with Sri Aurobindo and his ideas and philosophy. The book explained how the capacities and powers of the limited intellectual mind could be surpassed by accessing the ranges of “the Intuitive Mind”. As I read through the pages on intuition, my mind went silent. It was all beginning to make sense. Right at the beginning of these pages was this line, “Except in instances of yogic development, there has been no sustained work done on intuition”. And this is the line which communicated to me that to go deeper into intuition, I would need to  read and learn more about ancient Indian yogic systems. Suddenly I remembered the picture of Sri Aurobindo, who was mentioned by the author as his own Guru and a great Yogi, whose system was called Integral Yoga. I went online and ordered five well known books written by Sri Aurobindo and began by reading The Life Divine. From reading to practice For the next six months or so I was mostly reading The Life Divine. It was a difficult read, the sentences were very long and there were many unknown words. Each paragraph needed to be read multiple times, the dictionary had to be referred to  frequently. But once I started gaining an intellectual grasp of the concepts of the Yogic worldview, its understanding of intuition and the processes to develop intuition, I decided to give myself a year to practice these concepts and verify them. The central practice in the early part of my journey was the practice of self observation through the witness consciousness. Within one to two months of the practice, I began to experience clear changes in myself, which led me deeper into the practice. In December 2012, I visited Auroville and the Sri Aurobindo Ashram, Pondicherry for the first time. This had a profound effect on me. I was in Auroville for eight days, and I visited Matrimandir on almost all the days, switched off my mobile phone and walked around alone in Auroville, reading The Life Divine and exploring many other things. Later on, during that stay in Auroville, I realized that I had come to surrender myself to the Mother, and many transformational experiences had come as a result. This was also the decisive period of my journey where my commitment to the path of Sri Aurobindo became absolute and irreversible.  Stepping out of the world of Startups  As my journey continued, my readings and practice, both, grew, leading to more awareness and sensitivity. In my work within the startup ecosystem, more and more I started to notice the lack of sensitivity that was now dominating the startup world. There was a growing and almost exclusive focus on fund raising and increasing the valuation of the startup, all other aspects were deemed unimportant. The health and wellbeing of the founders were neglected, stress levels were rising rapidly, teams were working inhuman hours and were burning out. Customer quality was low, as one only required a customer to stay on for six months so that one could raise money to show the numbers; beyond that, the customer did not matter.  This reality of startup culture brought me to a point where I could no longer continue to participate actively in the startup ecosystem. As a result, around the middle of 2013, in a core team discussion, we decided to shut down our acceleration program and step out of the startup ecosystem. It took us about a year to properly wind down things and tie up the loose ends. By the middle of 2014 we were ready to start a new chapter of our lives. This was a great opportunity for me to plunge full time into the ideas, teachings and philosophy of Sri Aurobindo and that is exactly what I did. For the next six years, I was exclusively dedicated to the study of Sri Aurobindo and the Mother’s teachings and practice. I was extremely lucky to have the ongoing guidance of my mentors and the company of many friends as companions on this wonderful journey. Together we formed a community called Oneness and had frequent retreats, satsangs, conversations, travels and more.  This period also gave me a great opportunity to spend a good amount of time with my daughter as she was growing up. In fact it was by following her into the school in Chandigarh that I had the first contact with Sri Aurobindo. From 2013 to 2019, each year, during the winter vacations, we traveled as a family to spend at least one month in Auroville and with each year our connection with Auroville and Pondicherry deepened. Moving to Pondicherry and into the world of Conscious Startups  In November 2020, my daughter decided to quit the school in Chandigarh as she was no longer happy in it. Almost immediately we took a decision to explore options for her education in Auroville / Pondicherry. We stayed in Auroville during most of 2021, where she went to a school in Auroville. In December 2021, she joined the Ashram School and along with that we moved to Pondicherry. It was like coming home. Between 2014 and 2020, while I stayed almost completely out of the startup ecosystem, some old friends from the startup world who were beginning to explore the spiritual dimension would reach out to me for discussions and support. I was always happy to have these conversations and invited them to be a part of our Oneness Community. Many startup folks became part of the Oneness Community and continued their spiritual explorations. By 2020, many of us with a startup background were beginning to explore ways in which the idea of startups and the idea of consciousness could be combined. It felt like the right time to try out an experiment to see what would work.  We began in a small group consisting of entrepreneurs who wanted to create “conscious” startups — startups with a base in a higher or deeper consciousness. One of them was looking to raise some capital and I made a modest investment along with a few friends to see whether or not such a thing would work out. But things moved well, and the startup grew in numbers, revenues and size without compromising on values and consciousness. This experience gave us the confidence to make more investments while the group was gradually expanding to include more like-minded people. Our conscious startup movement grew slowly but steadily gaining momentum with every passing month.  By August 2021, a mainstream community-based ecosystem for conscious startups — Supermorpheus — grew  and now has more than eight hundred curated members from the startup world. Each one of these joined the community following detailed conversations around the philosophy of conscious startups. Supermorpheus, for us, was like a laborartory through which we were trying to bring the vision and ideas of Sri Aurobindo into practice in the startup world, a most critical part of current and future human society.  In Jan 2021, during a bike ride from the ashram in Pondicherry to Auroville, I got the inspiration to write the book about conscious startups. The inspiration came clearly from Sri Aurobindo and it continued as the writing happened. Over the next two months, while staying in Auroville, I completed the first draft, shared it for review with a good number of friends, and based on their feedback, completed the second draft by July 2021. It was during the process of writing this book that I clearly saw the possibility and process of combining startups and consciousness in a manner that would lead to a creation of next generation startups, startups which would achieve tremendous operational and financial success along with being successful in terms of growth of consciousness.  And it is not a coincidence that the second draft of the book got done in July 2021 and the idea of Supermorpheus came up in August 2021. I am now back in the world of startups, and my role is to facilitate the creation of more and more conscious startups by being a worthy instrument of the grace, wisdom and love of Sri Aurobindo and the Mother. I am eternally thankful to them for giving me this opportunity to come close to them and to work for them. I offer my heartfelt gratitude on occasion Sri Aurobindo’s 150th birth anniversary.
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To Sri Aurobindo

On His 150th Birth Anniversary Who is Sri Aurobindo?  In the Indian dharmic tradition, we consider him to be a maharishi, a great Seer, one who has attained complete consciousness and has passed beyond death, into the realms of immortality. Note, in the dharmic tradition, immortality is not of the body but of consciousness. We are consciousness much more substantially than we are bodies or nervous systems. The body, the mind and nervous system, the life force, are all tangible externalizations, manifestations, of consciousness. The one who realizes himself or herself as consciousness becomes one with consciousness: whatever one realizes, one becomes. And since everything is consciousness, this universe itself is consciousness, the one who becomes consciousness becomes everything and everyone — cosmic or all-consciousness. This all-consciousness is called Brahman. The word Brahman signifies the infinite, the ever-expanding, the perfect, that which surpasses all but itself cannot be surpassed, that which contains all but itself cannot be contained.  Imagine then for a moment a human being living this Brahman, identified in every plane, part and movement with this Brahman, embodying and expressing this supracosmic brahmic consciousness perfectly and infallibly in mind, life and body. For us earth-bound mortals, such a being would be divine, a God in human form.  Sri Aurobindo was such a being, an epitome of human evolution, an exemplar of what the human consciousness can attain and become. It is easy to deify such a person, and place him on a pedestal so high that he becomes irrelevant to our common humanity and concerns. After all, it is far more comforting to regard such beings as outliers, or aberrations of nature, than to see them as one of us. For to see one such as Sri Aurobindo as one of us would challenge our most fundamental social and religious assumptions of being human. We are fine with the divine as ideal, something far up there, but to accept it in flesh and blood is quite another matter. We are good with prophets and seers of legend — we even worship them from a safe distance — but to accept one amongst us, as one of us? A human who attains godhead? And stands as tall as our messiahs and gods, perhaps even reaching a bit beyond them? That defies both, reason and faith. How can the gods and avatars of the Great Past be surpassed? Spiritual attainments are static things, fixed for all time. The last Word has been spoken, the last Savior has come. There is no passing beyond.  Such beliefs, however dominant across religions and theologies, are spiritually reactionary. Human consciousness is supremely dynamic and evolving all the time. Were it not so, the human species would already be at an evolutionary dead-end. No spiritual being, far less a seer or a prophet, worth his or her salt would ever erect barriers to future spiritual evolution.  This is the barrier of the old religions that Sri Aurobindo broke through. Without any noise or fuss, without any grand epochal proclamations and declarations, quietly, humbly, sitting in a corner of a room in a remote French town in India, largely unknown to the world, unknown even to those who claimed to live in his immediate physical proximity, he broke open the heaven of the ancient gods and brought down to earth from beyond a Force that would precipitate the birth of a new species — a species that would live as naturally in the truth-consciousness as we presently live in falsehood and ignorance, a species that would live as instinctively in love, beauty and harmony as we now live in squalor, violence and cruelty. Sri Aurobindo called this future species gnostic beings — and he himself, with his spiritual collaborator, the Mother, offered humanity the first glimpses of the gnostic being in their own minds and bodies. Whosoever can look long and close enough at Sri Aurobindo and the Mother will look upon the future of humanity.  The human is still not the last word of Life’s evolution. Life has still not attained perfection — it continues its timeless struggle for more consciousness, more truth, more force and light. And this is a struggle that cannot be quashed by any earthly force or entity: not by the aggression of the old religions, nor by the power of the capitalists and politicians, nor even by global disasters. In fact, in the deeper truth of things, all these may actually be the signs of an increasing evolutionary pressure for more truth and harmony. For those who are not familiar with the nature and dynamics of consciousness, who do not yet know what is behind and beyond this known, tangible universe, who have not yet touched their own inner lives and beings, all this may sound poetic, or hyperbolic. But for those who have, in some measure, been able to touch, or even glimpse, the inner and higher worlds, all this would be perfectly and elegantly logical — if not this, then what?  The earth consciousness — and there is one, as real as our personal consciousness —  grows weary of the endless childish battles for dominance and power. The age of the animal-human is decisively over and another age is upon us, the age of the truly and completely human. For if we can grow completely human, it will be enough for now.  Enough, at least, to touch that vast truth that Sri Aurobindo is. 
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Sanatan Dharma and Hinduism

Sanatan Dharma and Hinduism are NOT the same things. I have been observing that the words Sanatan Dharma and  Hinduism are used by many well-intentioned writers and bloggers almost interchangeably. And while I am ready to accept that modern usage doesn’t always honour the meanings of words, and indeed, changes the meanings of words, I tend to agree with our ancient Grammarians that while the speech of clarity brings blessings and prosperity, misleading speech (such as that of our politicians & advertisers) does not.  Sanatan Dharma and Hinduism are not the same.  Far from it.  My purpose here is neither to define Sanatan Dharma nor Hinduism but to demonstrate a clear difference in meaning. I often read that the translation the traditional Hindu might provide for Hinduism would be Sanatan Dharma, or that the traditional Hindu expression Sanatan Dharma could be translated as Hinduism. The word Hinduism is often used today, both inside and outside of India, as more of an identifier of the indigenous religion of India and even I use it for the sake of simplicity and economy of expression.  But let’s consider for a moment the difference between the words, with a bit of history, and in terms of the metaphysics of the words themselves. It’s the suffix ism attached to the word Hindu that catches my eye.  As all English language speakers instinctively know as part of their meta-language is that ism signifies a particular and somewhat singular idea or belief. Communism, vegetarianism, pacifism, consumerism, ethnocentrism. All these words lead back to believing or following a particular idea. The word Hindu has been used to mean Indian until the suffix ism was attached by the British in the 19th century.  Almost immediately, the West shifted the meaning of Hindu away from its geographical identity and towards a particular and singular religious identity, which in the post-enlightenment West meant a belief, a doctrine.  Even the Imam Bukhari of Jama Masjid in Delhi has described how he was registered at the gate of Mecca during his Haj as a Hindu Muslim, not for a second considering the word Hindu to be anything other than a geographical signifier. So, it is reasonable for anyone speaking English to conclude that Hinduism is the “belief” of the Indians, and it would be reasonable for a non-Hindu or non-Indian to ask a Hindu, “What do you Hindus believe in?” The Sanatan Dharma, on the other hand, is not overly concerned with ideas and beliefs. Traditionally Sanatan Dharma signifies the dynamic sum of ALL the knowledge of ALL the diverse traditions of Bharat Mata, or Greater Hindustan, if you will, since the beginning of time. It is not the subject of knowledge (or the means by which it may be obtained – as in an ism), but the object of knowledge. It is not something one man or woman can put their hands around, or know or master in a lifetime.  There are no ideas I know of that address the Sanatan Dharma as a whole, but rather interpretations and commentaries of small parts of it.  Even the word dharma is used today very largely within the framework of the European post-enlightenment category of religion, while, actually, traditional people think of dharma much in the same way modern people think of science. The British added the ism to Hindu as a means of representing the Hindu, homogenizing, standardizing, and reducing the Hindu to a defined set of beliefs (the doctrine), defined scriptures (the text), and deity (measured against a monotheistic standard). And thus, Hinduism, as defined by the British and others (certainly with a great deal of Indian indigenous, read Brahmin, input), could comfortably fit within the Euro post-enlightenment categories, and on the Imperial grid of all things. We know, on these pages, that the Hindu culture, or in these times, the Indian culture, is probably the most intellectually robust culture ever. What one would expect to find in such a culture is diversity, which is the name of Indian culture today as it was thousands of years ago in the time of the Rishis. The uniformity and obedience to the doctrine that the monotheist religions demand have always been conspicuously absent from Hindustan, as great thinking has always been marked by great debates and commentaries, and oral tradition has avoided the rigid limitations and authority of the printed text. Shastra, of course, does not refer to a limited text, nor a printed text, even if a printed text may be included in Shastra.  Shastra and most, if not all, sacred texts and Hindu scripture in the traditions of the Sanatan Dharma come from Oral Tradition. There is no uniform belief, doctrine, or set of beliefs that all Hindus accept. This is completely obvious. There is no ism; it was invented for the purposes of empire. The Sanatan Dharma addresses this nature of diversity constituting the whole. Om purnamadah purnamidam purnat purnam udachyate purnasya purnamadaya purnameva vashisyate That is Whole – this is Whole The Whole comes out of the Whole If the Whole is subtracted from the Whole Still the Whole remains…  With gratitude to Baba Rampuri Originally published here 
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The Future of Religion

Dialogues On Sri Aurobindo’s Work & Vision – 1 ED: Sri Aurobindo’s vision of humanity’s future is both, evolutionary and revolutionary: both, Sri Aurobindo and the Mother have, on several occasions, declared that the end of religion is near, and that a future humanity will outgrow religion. What does this mean, what are the implications of such a vision? The one thing that stands in the way of the spiritual realization of humanity is formal religion as practiced today. Because, however well-meaning a religious practitioner maybe, religion, at the end of the day, divides. Every religion believes that it is the only true one, and this is the whole tragedy. There is no single individual or group of individuals that can own the truth because the truth is vast, infinite and far exceeds our human reach. So, there is no logic in the belief that truth can be yours or mine, or only mine.  Spirituality, on the other hand, has nothing to do with beliefs, rituals or practices. Those all things of the mind, and spirituality is moving beyond the mind. This is the first important thing about spirituality — it takes you beyond the thinking mind, the conditioned mind. So, it necessarily takes you beyond religion, because religion is finally a conditioning of the mind. If you look deep enough into all religions, you will find the conditioning of the mind. And spirituality goes beyond all conditionings, it de-conditions, deconstructs.  The Mother famously said, when she was establishing Auroville, that the age of religion is over. Religions and religious thinking will remain for a while exhausting their past momentum but eventually, will drop off. The religious mind will be replaced by the psychic, religious devotion will be replaced by spiritual knowledge and faith.  What about the Sanatan Dharma? Sanatan Dharma is not religion, as we know and practice it. It is our deeper law of being, the inner truth in action.  ‘Dharma’, as in ‘Sanatan Dharma’, is not religion. It is the inmost and the highest force that binds you from within to the one Truth, the one Law — ‘satyam, ritam’. The word ‘sanatan’ simply means that which is timeless. The timeless law, the eternal truth. So Dharma is spiritual. Unlike religion, it is not given, it has to be found, realized.  ED: If we go by Sri Aurobindo’s thinking, understanding Sri Aurobindo’s worldview, then religion was needed at a certain point in social and cultural evolution, it was needed for bringing about stability, social and individual, giving a cause to live for a purpose higher than one’s own immediate satisfaction and gratification, raising the human consciousness a bit over the immediate physical-vital. The human race had to go through a phase where religion was necessary. In that sense, to use Sri Aurobindo’s phrase- ‘religion was the helper’, but after a certain stage of evolution, ‘religion becomes a bar’.  At some point in evolution, humanity outgrows the need for religion as it outgrows the need for all kinds of social equilibria. Because, if we have to attain higher spiritual equilibria, we have to disturb and outgrow the lower-order equilibria. This is obvious. The human race has already come to a point where we have to surpass our religions and replace our religious beliefs with direct experience of the divine. Persisting with faith or beliefs based on past forms and truths of spirituality, without the direct inner experience and knowledge of the divine, is no longer tenable. ED: It is interesting that all our religions are expressions of past realizations…and we cannot remain wedded to our past, however glorious that may be.  Spirituality means transcending lower and simpler truths and growing into larger, higher and deeper ones. The spiritual journey towards truth is an endless one, and it is evolutionary because truth is infinite. A religion evolved by an earlier humanity would express the realities of a younger, less sophisticated humanity whereas the spirituality of a more evolved humanity would open up to higher possibilities and vaster vistas. ED: We see and understand this on a daily basis: the old religions have divided humanity and fractured the world body. Most of our conflicts are rooted in faith, one faith against another, the totally artificial schism between believers and non-believers, the destructive practice of conversions…how is Sri Aurobindo’s work going to impact all this? Sri Aurobindo did not speak of religion at all, not even of the Hindu religion. His whole work was based on the realization of the psychic, of the soul, of the Divine in human…if his work is understood in a non-religious context, it can lead to a revolution. The psychic is the future of humanity. See, this has nothing to do with religion. Just as the mind, the thinking mind, has led our evolution so far, the psychic will lead the next evolution. From being mental creatures, we will become psychic beings, beings growing in the light of the divine truth in us. That divine truth will lead the dynamics of our earthly existence, reshaping and moulding our social and political lives. Everything we now are and know will change…it will be an inner transformation that will affect every aspect and movement of our lives.  ED: And is that kind of inner transformation inevitable? Or is this merely an ideal held by a few — just as the religions of old? This is a difficult question to answer. At one level, it is a matter of faith for sure. Not everyone who follows Sri Aurobindo has directly realized his truths. But at another level, and this is far more significant, anyone who has touched his or her psychic being, has realized even a little of her psychic life, will know how critical this is for the evolution of human consciousness, the evolution of the human species.  And it is not that we will dismiss the mind altogether, like some of the old ascetics. We will transform the mind too, make it more subtle, more plastic, far wider in its scope, more enlightened, so that it too can collaborate with the psychic, transform itself in its light. One of the functions of such a mind will be to understand Sri Aurobindo’s work and bring that understanding to all its activities and movements.  ED: The yogis talk of an enlightened intelligence that is the leader of human evolution, the prakashmaya buddhi.  Sri Aurobindo talks of the higher mind, the intuitive mind — ranges of the mental consciousness that will replace the lower thinking mind.  So you can see that once all this comes to fruition, once we begin to work out of the higher or the intuitive mind, and we are firmly established in the deeper psychic consciousness, religions will simply fall away without much struggle. It will be quite effortless.  ED: Along with that, so much more will fall away — our politics, the way we earn our livelihood, our social lives, our relationships… An important effect of the psychic change will be the establishment of oneness and unity in humanity. This will not be an external, political unity but human unity born of psychic oneness.  Remember, ’psychic consciousness’ is the consciousness of one’s inmost truth, the essential reality of one’s being, which is at once profoundly and uniquely individual, timeless and universal. A realization of psychic consciousness will be the foundation for a true and lasting oneness and unity of being on earth. In psychological reality, we are different personalities, different people but in psychic reality, we are aspects of the same being, sparks of the same consciousness-fire. As Sri Aurobindo’s vision and work spread on earth, as more and more beings tune in to his evolutionary frequency, and learn to look beyond the fragmented and petty reality of present humanity, our collective attention will shift progressively from the external to the internal, from the mental to the psychic, from formal religion to spiritual quest and realization, from divisive politics and exploitative economics to collaboration and harmony, from spiritual isolation to oneness and inclusiveness, from material technology to a technology of consciousness. It’s a beautiful vision, worth aspiring for. In Sri Aurobindo’s words — we do not belong to the past dawns, but to the noons of the future.  ED: The noons of the future…that is an evocative expression, and profoundly true. Which religion can surpass its past dawns and reach out to the noons of the future? For a religion to surpass its own teachers and teachings, its old prophets and revelation, it has to become evolutionary. Yes, religion has to be evolutionary, it must keep growing and outgrowing itself, it must constantly create spiritual masters instead of just religious followers, it must create and sustain deep spaces of spiritual enquiry and continuous learning instead of repeating the old masters and the old teachings. This is not to denigrate in any way the masters and the revelations of old but to point out the absolute necessity of building a vaster and profounder spiritual future worthy of a species evolving towards higher and vaster consciousness and truth.  ED: At present, it is not so. Our religions and theologies are designed for immature and fearful minds. What we need is a religion, if we must have one, growing organically out of living spiritual quest, self-discovery and self-realization. Swami Vivekananda used to say that Vedanta is the religion of the future.  Vedanta is the quest for self-realization and culminates in truth-consciousness. Once that happens, there is no further need for any religion or faith — one becomes one’s own prophet or messiah, as it were. One becomes the rishi, the seer. And there we have it: a religion that extinguishes itself in the individual’s highest spiritual attainment.  [Excerpted from a recorded dialogue between our executive editor and Nirankar. Nirankar is a devotee of Sri Aurobindo & the Mother.]
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The Myth of a Hindu Way of Thinking

Hinduism is a myth. There is no religion such as Hinduism at least in the way we understand religion. It does not have one prophet, set of unchanging beliefs or rituals, a single scripture, or any mandatory requirement. In fact, the word Hindu was used by Persians for the people who lived about the Sindhu or Indus river. If that is true, then it is only a local or regional tag.  But if we go deeper into this so-called Hinduism, we will find all kinds of contradictory practices or beliefs, rituals, and denominations, that there might be only a few assertions made. That Hinduism is not a religion in the ordinary sense of the word. That a better word for it might be Sanatana Dharma, the Eternal Way, although the term has been abused lately by some zealots without understanding it fully. That the Rig Veda has influenced a large part of Sanatana Dharma and its various darsanas, although there may be exceptions with the so called anastika traditions. That the underlying theme of the Vedic way was a journey into the inner worlds. No other record of the time from any other part of the world describing such Mysteries exists. And, most importantly, that this inner journey, relentless and fearless, confirmed the underlying unity of the whole Universe in the strictest Monism ever articulated by mankind to this day.  The term absolute monism is usually reserved for Advaita Vedanta, propagated by Adi Sankara. But absolute monism not only of the origin of things, but also their substance and essence, may be seen in all the Srutis. Perhaps a better term for this monism is non-dualism, what the word advaita truly means.  So, the myth of Hinduism is that there is really no such thing as Hinduism if by that we mean a single religion. We may perhaps call it a way of seeing and being where the Many is One and the One is Many.  It is due to this non-dualism taken to its completest understanding that we see the whole plethora of completely contradictory and opposite philosophies being taken as valid in the practices that form the corpus of Sanatana Dharma. And each individual is free to create and live his own. In a sense, this is completely liberating. And yet, it puts the entire responsibility on the individual to take the onus of his or her own understanding, development, refinement, and eventual direction. If this is understood, one can understand the confusion that one sees among even some of the most astute thinkers of our times.  In his essay Is There an Indian Way of Thinking? An Informal Essay, published in Contributions to Indian Sociology (1989), A.K. Ramanujan complained of the trait of inconsistency in the Modern Indian way of life. And that modern Indian intellectuals “seemed to agree on one thing: the Indian trait of hypocrisy. Indians do not mean what they say, and say different things at different times.” And he wondered if they “may be using a different ‘logic’ altogether. Some thinkers believe that such logic is an earlier-stage of ‘cultural evolution’ and that Indians have not developed a notion of ‘data’, of objective facts.” And he quotes Sudhir Kakar, a psychoanalyst, to note that “Generally among Indians, there seems to be a different relationship to outside reality, compared to the one met with in the West. In India, it is closer to a certain stage in childhood when outer objects did not have a separate, independent existence but were intimately related to the self and its affective states…. The Indian ‘ego’ is underdeveloped; the world of magic and animistic thinking lie closer to the surface; so the grasp of reality is relatively tenuous.” He also noted a third trait to the inconsistency and ‘the apparent inability to distinguish self and non-self’ and that was ‘the extraordinary lack of universality’ among Indians. And he surmises that “Indian philosophers do not seem to make synoptic systems like Hegel’s or Kant’s.” And he concludes that “In cultures like India’s, the context-sensitive kind of rule is the preferred formulation.”  There may be some truth to Ramanujan’s observations although it cannot be said that Indian philosophers cannot or do not generalize. One only has to look at the formulae of the Upanishads, ‘tat tvam asi’ and ‘so hum’ to realize that the Indians generalized at the far deeper and unitary levels than those of western philosophers. In fact, there is none more unitary than the Indian when he says, ‘sarvam khalvidam brahma’ or ‘etad vai tat.’ The difficulty with the Indian generalizations or consistency is that it goes beyond intellectualism and speculation to psychological and experiential formulations that are not conceivable to the average human mind. And if the generalization is so general that it is applicable everywhere and anywhere, it tends to get overlooked in the practical world unless one is practicing intensely the spiritual disciplines called yoga in India. And thus, it means nothing in vyavhara, and is not noticed.  There are no external rules, moral or ethical dicta, no edicts or farmaans. And such a profound unitary rule gives paradoxically the utmost freedom and latitude to the individual. And thus, there is no abstract reality out there; it is all lived intensely, personally by the practicing seeker. Thus, all subsequent declarations that deal with more superficial matters become nuanced and seem applicable only to a particular situation or time-space or to a particular kind of person.  The Indian paradigm belongs to another order of experience that underlies the Western approach to blanket universalisms without being universal. This is almost akin to the Einsteinian world being another order to the model of the Newtonian world. Or the paradigm of quantum mechanics that forms the substrate in the modern understanding to the Rutherfordian, atomic model in physics.  Obviously, any such generalizations as mine about India itself would be flawed and self-contradictory since Indians defy generalizations at least on the surface. And if it is true, that the Indian culture even today is together because it springs from the artesian wells of Vedas and Vedanta, then this too is easy to understand.     India confuses, confounds, and confronts with its myriad array, that are spiritual and materialistic, subtle, and gross, cultured, and gross. Even time and space, the universal frames of reference, are inconstant. Rules change by yugas and kula, jati and ritu. And ritu, as Louis Renou points out, in Sanskrit et Culture, is not just a season, but also a crucial moment in Vedic sacrifice (the word ritam meaning right and the dynamic aspect of Sat). There is a constant flowing together in samsara (which is the literal meaning of the word) and the body too is not just physical, it has also subtle and causal aspects.    Perhaps one may say here that any generalization about the Indian way of thinking itself would be, paradoxically, an error.  The Indians traditionally have thought a lot (and even argued a lot), the more qualified understanding of an Indian way of thinking at the highest level is that it is not only immensely refined but also one that comes after a long preparatory development in self-refinement. Unfortunately, this refinement was restricted to only a select few in the Vedic times perhaps due to the nature of the society. And any attempt to spread the word had to use simplifications with its national epics, music, arts, darsanas, mythology, education, social and political sciences, and economic theory. This is where it began getting confusing. For the epics such as Mahabharata included multiple and diverse viewpoints of powerful personages in unique situations. Epics such as the Ramayana had almost 300 various tellings, each with its own storyline and interpretations, and the only common theme among all of them was perhaps the central place of the protagonists, Rama and Sita, and the tectonic shift in human society and evolution with their incarnation. It does not faze me that in some of these Ramayanas, the narrative changes. What is most unnerving is that the Indian mind of today does not understand the event that Rama’s life was in the national consciousness, and how it transformed humanity at a crucial juncture of its development. Those who need to understand Rama have no clue; they either turn into zealots or fiery partisans, blind to who Rama truly is. And those who have no clue about Rama write tomes on him and his human limitations. Nor does it disappoint me that the original impetus of thought and its energies are now lost in the confusion of modern India. For such is still latent and subterranean in my opinion and can always resurface, if we were to understand what it truly is.   Ramanujan concluded his essay with the projection that “One might see modernization in India as a movement from the context-sensitive to the context-free in all realms; an erosion of contexts, at least in principle.” He also criticized the generalizations of “a Hindu view of life by apologues like Radhakrishnan for the benefit of both the Western and modern Indian readers.” Personally, I would hope that if India moves to a context-free way of thinking, it would be through the discovery of its own innate genius and the tremendous discoveries of its ancient past, although, necessarily, the modern formulation would be different. And if the generalization of a Hindu view of life by Radhakrishnan is too facile and superficial, so is Ramanujan’s hope that India would lose its unique way of seeing the world by getting modernized in the Western mode.  William James with his sub-universes and Alfred Schutz with his ‘finite provinces of reality and relevance’ as central concepts, the paradoxical theories in modern physics with its wave and particle theories of light, and economic theories, micro- or macro- after E.F. Schumacher’s Small Is Beautiful, according to Ramanujan, might be worthy of being re-read in the light of these context-sensitive and context-free modes. Yet, in the same breath, he argues against the inconsistencies of Indian thought or, shall we say, Indian thoughts.  It is the same bias towards looking outward for one’s salvation. Ramanujan looks towards the modern West even for his theories about the Indian way of thinking. The colonial mindset continues to haunt even the best and brightest of Indian minds. This might be a clue to the Indian way of thinking.  There is none at present, actually. What we need perhaps to do is to retrieve it. To be able to question anything and everything in the original Indian manner, to be able to reject everything and start afresh perennially, neti neti (not this, not this), to never be satisfied and be complacent, to experiment and explore boldly. For if there was ever an Indian way of thinking, it was this. Not proceeding from fear but with innocence and profound questioning. And not rejecting one’s own way of being even if it meant rejecting the more successful and superficially enticing thinking models of the est. To articulate clearly and simply. Calmly and directly.   Perhaps there is no bigger question facing the nation today than what Hinduism truly is, if it is not a religion, and how must it grow or be replaced by something greater, stronger, truer. And how does defining Hinduism or thinking about it change Bharata, which designation literally means a people deeply involved in discovering the Light and its manifestations. This self-lit way, this thinking lit by the glow of the Self or Atman, is the Indian way of thinking. This is our genius. And it can be recovered and re-discovered into the modern life. 
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The Bourgeois and the Samurai

From Bande Mataram Political Writings And Speeches (1890-1908) Two oriental nations have come powerfully under the influence of Western ideas and felt the impact of European civilization during the nineteenth century, India and Japan. The results have been very different. The smaller nation has become one of the mightiest Powers in the modern world, the larger in spite of far greater potential strength, a more original culture, a more ancient and splendid past and a far higher mission in the world, remains a weak, distracted, subject & famine-stricken people politically, economically, morally & intellectually dependent on the foreigner and unable to realise its great possibilities. It is commonly said that this is because Japan has assimilated Western Science and organization and even in many respects excelled its teachers; India has failed in this all-important task of assimilation. If we go a step farther back and insist on asking why this is so, we shall be told it is because Japan has “reformed” herself and got rid of ideas & institutions unsuited to modern times; while India clings obstinately to so much that is outworn and effete. Even if we waive aside the question whether the old Indian ideals are unfit to survive or whether all our institutions are really bad in themselves or unadaptable to modern conditions, still the explanation itself has to be explained. Why has Japan so admirably transformed herself? why has the attempt at transformation in India been a failure? The solution of problems of this kind has to be sought not in abstractions, not in machinery, but in men. It is the spirit in man which moulds his fate; it is the spirit of a nation which determines its history Describe the type of human character which prevails in a nation during a given period of its life under given conditions, and it is possible to predict in outline what the general history of the nation must be during that period. In Japan the dominant Japanese type had been moulded by the shaping processes of an admirable culture and when the Western impact came, Japan remained faithful to her ancient spirit; she merely took over certain forms of European social & political organization necessary to complete her culture under modern conditions and poured into these forms the old potent dynamic spirit of Japan, the spirit of the Samurai. It is the Samurai type which has been dominant in that country during the nineteenth century. In India the mass of the nation has remained dormant; European culture has had upon it a powerful disintegrating and destructive influence, but has been powerless to reconstruct or revivify. But in the upper strata a new type has been evolved to serve the necessities and interests of the foreign rulers, a type which is not Indian, but foreign—and in almost all our social, political, educational, literary & religious activities the spirit of this new & foreign graft has predominated & determined the extent & quality of our progress. This type is the bourgeois. In India, the bourgeois, in Japan, the Samurai; in this single difference is comprised the whole contrasted histories of the two nations during the nineteenth century. What is the bourgeois? For the word is unknown in India, though the thing is so prominent. The bourgeois is the average contented middle class citizen who is in all countries much the same in his fundamental character & habits of thought, in spite of pronounced racial differences in temperament & self-expression. He is a man of facile sentiments and skin-deep personality; generally “enlightened” but not inconveniently illuminated. In love with his life, his ease and above all things his comforts, he prescribes the secure maintenance of these precious possessions as the first indispensable condition of all action in politics and society; whatever tends to disturb or destroy them, he condemns as foolish, harebrained, dangerous or fanatical, according to the degree of its intensity and is ready to repress by any means in his power. In the conduct of public movements he has an exaggerated worship for external order, moderation and decorum and hates over-earnestness and over-strenuousness. Not that he objects to plenty of mild & innocuous excitement; but it must be innocuous and calculated not to have a disturbing effect on the things he most cherishes. He has ideals and likes to talk of justice, liberty, reform, enlightenment and all similar abstractions; he likes too to see them reigning and progressing around him decorously and with their proper limitations. He wishes to have them maintained, if they already exist, but in moderation and with moderation; if they do not exist, the craving for them should be, in his opinion, a lively but still well-regulated fire, not permitted to interfere with the safety, comfort and decorum of life,—the means adopted towards acquiring them should be also moderate and decorous and as far as may be safe and comfortable. An occasional sacrifice of money, leisure and other precious things for their sake, he is always ready to meet; he has a keen zest for the reputation such sacrifices bring him and still more for the comfortable sense of personal righteousness which they foster. The bourgeois is the man of good sense and enlightenment, the man of moderation, the man of peace and orderliness, the man in every way “respectable”, who is the mainstay of all well-ordered societies. As a private man he is respectable; that is to say, his character is generally good, and when his character is not, his reputation is; he is all decorous in his virtues, decent in the indulgence of his vices or at least in their concealment, often absolutely honest, almost always as honest as an enlightened self-interest will permit. His purse is well filled or at any rate not indecently empty; he is a good earner, a conscientious worker, a thoroughly safe & reliable citizen.1 But this admirable creature has his defects and limitations. For great adventures, tremendous enterprises, lofty achievements, the storm and stress of mighty & eventful periods in national activity, he is unfit. These things are for the heroes, the martyrs, the criminals, the enthusiasts, the degenerates, geniuses, the men of exaggerated virtue, exaggerated ability, exaggerated ideas. He enjoys the fruit of their work when it is done, but while it is doing, he opposes and hinders more often than helps. For he looks on great ideals as dreams and on vehement enthusiasms as harebrained folly; he distrusts everything new & disturbing, everything that has not been done before or is not sanctioned by success & the accomplished fact; revolt is to him a madness & revolution a nightmare. Fiery self-annihilating enthusiasm, noble fanaticism, relentless & heroic pursuit of an object, the original brain that brings what is distant & ungrasped into the boundaries of reality, the dynamic Will and genius which makes the impossible possible; these things he understands as matters of history and honours them in the famous dead or in those who have succeeded; but in living & yet striving men they inspire him with distrust and repulsion. He will tell you that these things are not to be found in the present generation; but if confronted with the living originator, he will condemn him as a learned idiot; face to face with the living hero, he will decry him as a dangerous madman,—unless & until he sees on the head of either the crown of success & assured reputation. He values also the things of the mind in a leisurely comfortable way as adorning and setting off his enlightened ease and competence. A little art, a little poetry, a little religion, a little scholarship, a little philosophy, all these are excellent ingredients in life, and give an air of decorous refinement to his surroundings. They must not be carried too far or interfere with the great object of life which is to earn money, clothe and feed one’s family, educate one’s sons to the high pitch of the B.A. degree or the respectable eminence of the M.A., marry one’s daughters decently, rank high in service or the professions, stand well in the eye of general opinion and live & die decorously, creditably and respectably. Anything disturbing to these high duties, anything exaggerated, intense, unusual is not palatable to the bourgeois. He shrugs his shoulders over it and brushes it aside with the one word, “mad”, or eccentric.2 (Such is the bourgeois and it was the bourgeois of the mildest & most inefficient type who reigned in India in the nineteenth century. It was the bourgeois which University education tended, perhaps sought to evolve; it was the bourgeois which the political social conditions moulded and brought to the front. In India the bourgeois; in Japan the Samurai, that one enormous difference explains the difference in the histories of the two countries during the second half of the last century.)3 It is undoubtedly this type which has dominated us in the nineteenth century. Of course the really great names, those that will live in history as creators & originators are men who went beyond this type; either they belonged to, but exceeded it or they departed from it. But the average, the determining type was the bourgeois. In Senate & Syndicate, in Legislative Council & District Board or Municipal Corporation, in Congress & Conference, in the services & professions, even in literature & scholarship, even in religion he was everywhere with his well-regulated mind, his unambitious ideals, his snug little corner of culture, his “education” and “enlightenment”, his comfortable patriotism, his comfortable enlightenment, his easy solution of the old problem how to serve both God & Mammon, yet offend neither, his self-satisfaction, his decorous honesty, his smug respectability. Society was made after his model, politics moulded in his image, education confined within his limits, literature & religion stamped with the seal of the bourgeois. The bourgeois as a distinct & well-evolved entity is an entirely modern product in India, he is the creation of British policy, English education, Western civilization. Ancient India, mediaeval India were not a favourable soil for his growth. The spirit of ancient India was aristocratic; its thought & life moulded in the cast of a high & proud nobility, an extreme & lofty strenuousness. The very best in thought, the very best in action, the very best in character, the very best in literature & art, the very best in religion and all the world well lost if only this very best might be attained, such was the spirit of ancient India. The Brahmin who devoted himself to poverty & crushed down every desire in the wholehearted pursuit of knowledge & religious self-discipline; the Kshatriya who, hurling his life joyously into the shock of chivalrous battle, held life, wife, children, possessions, ease, happiness as mere dust in the balance compared with honour & the Kshatriya dharma, the preservation of self-respect, the protection of the weak, the noble fulfilment of princely duty; the Vaishya, who toiling all his life to amass riches, poured them out as soon as amassed in self-forgetting philanthropy holding himself the mere steward & not the possessor of his wealth; the Shudra who gave himself up loyally to humble service, faithfully devoting his life to his dharma, however low, in preference to self-advancement & ambition; these were the social ideals of the age. The imagination of the Indian tended as has been well said to the grand & enormous in thought and morals. The great formative images of legend & literature to the likeness with which his childhood was encouraged to develop & which his manhood most cherished were of an extreme & lofty type. He saw Harischundra give up all that life held precious & dear rather than that his lips should utter a lie or his plighted word be broken. He saw Prahlada buried under mountains, whelmed in the seas, tortured by the poison of a thousand venomous serpents, yet calmly true to his faith. He saw Buddha give up his royal state, wealth, luxury, wife, child & parents so that mankind might be saved. He saw Shivi hew the flesh from his own limbs to save one small dove from the pursuing falcon; Karna tear his own body with a smile for the joy of making a gift; Duryodhan refuse to yield one inch of earth without noble resistance & warlike struggle. He saw Sita face exile, hardship, privation & danger in the eagerness of wifely love & duty, Savitri rescue by her devotion her husband back from the visible grip of death. These were the classical Indian types. These were the ideals into the mould of which the minds of men & women were trained to grow. The sense-conquering thought of the philosopher, the magnificent achievements of the hero, the stupendous renunciations of the Sannyasin, [the] unbounded liberality of the man of wealth, everything was exaggeration, extreme, filled with an epic inspiration, a world-defying enthusiasm. The bourgeois though he existed in the rough of course, as in all civilized societies he must exist, had no real chance of evolution; on such a height with so rare an atmosphere, he could not grow; where such tempests of self-devotion blew habitually, his warm comfortable personality could not expand. The conditions of mediaeval India suited him little better,—the continual clash of arms, the unceasing stir & splendour & strenuousness of life, the fierceness of the struggle and the magnificence of the achievement, the ceaseless tearing down & building up which resulted from Mahomedan irruption and the action & reaction of foreign & indigenous forces, formed surroundings too restless & too flamboyant. Life under the Moguls was splendid, rich & luxurious, but it was not safe & comfortable. Magnificent possibilities were open to all men whatever their birth or station but magnificent abilities and an unshaken nerve & courage were needed to grasp them or to keep what had been grasped. There was no demand for the stable & easy virtues of the bourgeois. In the times of stress and anarchy which accompanied the disintegration of mediaeval India, the conditions were yet more unfavourable; character and morals shared in the general disintegration, but ability & courage were even more in demand than before and for the bourgeois there was no place vacant. (The men who figured in the revolutions in Bengal, the Deccan, the Punjab & the North were often, like their European allies & antagonists, men of evil character, self-seeking, unscrupulous & Machiavellian, but they were at least men.) It was not till mediaeval India breathed its last in the convulsions of 1857 that entirely new conditions reigned and an entirely new culture prevailed with an undisputed sway wholly favourable to the rapid development of the bourgeois type and wholly discouraging to the development of any other. This emergence and domination of the bourgeois was a rapid transformation, not unparalleled in history, for something of the same kind seems to have happened in the provinces of the Roman Empire under the Caesars, but astonishing in a people whose past history & temperament had been so supremely unPhilistine. That a society which had only a few decades ago prostrated itself before the naked ascetic and the penniless Brahmin, should now wear the monied man and the official as the tilak on its forehead, was indeed a marvellous revolution. But given the new conditions, nothing else could have happened. British rule necessitated the growth of the bourgeois, British policy fostered it, and the plant grew so swiftly because a forcing-house had been created for his rapid cultivation and the soil was kept suitably shallow and the air made warm and humid for his needs. It was as in the ancient world when the nations accepted peace, civilisation and a common language at the cost of national decay, the death of their manhood and final extinction or age-long slavery. The Pax Britannica was his parent and an easy servitude nursed him into maturity. For the first need of the bourgeois is a guaranteed and perfect security for his person, property and pursuits. Peace, comfort and safety are the very breath of his nostrils. But he gravitates to a peace for whose preservation he is not called on to wear armour and wield the sword, a comfort he has not to purchase by the discomfort of standing sentinel over his liberties, or a safety his own alertness and courage must protect from the resurgence of old dangers. The bourgeois in arms is not the true animal; the purity of his breed is sullied by something of the virtues and defects of the soldier. He must enjoy the fruits of peace and security he has not earned, without responsibility for their maintenance or fear of their loss. Such conditions he found in almost unparallelled perfection in British India. He was asked to stand as the head of a disarmed and dependent society, secured from external disturbance & tied down to a rigid internal tranquillity by the deprivation of all functions except those of breadwinner and taxpayer and to vouch himself to the world by a respectable but not remarkable education and achievement as the visible proof of England‘s civilising mission in India. Such conditions were to the bourgeois as the moisture & warmth of the hothouse to the orchid. He grew in them, rank & luxurious. Then again, for his perfection and dominance, the society he lives in must honour his peculiar qualities above all others and the substantial rewards and covetable distinctions of life [be] reserved for them chiefly or for them alone. The British rule gave him this honour, showered on him these rewards & distinctions, and Indian society, more & more moulded by British ideas, followed as a society almost inevitably follows the lead of the rulers. Under the new dispensation of Providence there was no call for the high qualities of old, the Aryan or noble virtues which, whatever else failed or perished, had persisted in Indian character for thousands of years, since first the chariots rolled on the hither-side of the Indus. What need for the Rajpoot’s courage, the robust manhood, the noble pride of the Kshatriya, when heroic and unselfish England claimed the right of shedding her blood for the safety of the land? What room for the gifts of large initiative, comprehensive foresight, wise aspiration which make the statesman, when a Bentinck or a Mayo, a Dufferin or a Curzon were ready & eager to take & keep the heavy burdens of Government out of the hands of the children of the soil? The princely spirit, the eagle’s vision, the lion’s heart, these were things that might be buried away with the memories of the great Indian rulers of the past. Happy India, civilised and cared for by human seraphs from over the sea, had no farther need for them. So from sheer inanition, from want of light, room and air, the Kshatriya died out of the soil which had first produced him and the bourgeois took his place. But if room was none for the soldier & the statesman, little could be found for the Brahmin, the sage or the Sannyasin. British rule had no need for scholars, it wanted clerks; British policy welcomed the pedant but feared, even when it honoured, the thinker, for the strong mind might pierce through shows to the truth and the deep thought teach the people to embrace great ideals and live and die for them; British education flung contempt on the Sannyasin as an idler and charlatan, and pointed with admiration to the strenous seeker for worldly goods and success as the finest work of the creator. So Vyasa & Valmekie were forgotten for weavers of idle tales and Smiles and Sir Arthur Helps took their place as an instructor of youth, the gospel of Philistinism in its naked crudeness was beaten into the minds of our children when most malleable. Thus Ramdas was following Shivaji into the limbo of the unreturning past. And if God had not meant otherwise for our nation, the Sannyasin would have become an extinct type, Yoga been classed among dead superstitions with witchcraft & alchemy and Vedanta sent the way of Pythagoras & Plato. Nor was the old Vaishya type needed by the new dispensation. The Indian mechanician, engineer, architect, artist, craftsman got notice of dismissal; for to develop the industrial life of the country was no part of England’s business in India. As she had taken the functions of government and war into her own hands, so she would take that of production. Whatever India needed, beneficent England with her generous system of free trade would supply and the Indian might sit at ease under his palm tree or, gladly singing, till his fields, rejoicing that Heaven had sent him a ruling nation so greedy to do him good. What was wanted was not Indian artisans or Indian captains of industry, but plenty of small shopkeepers and big middlemen to help conquer & keep India as a milch cow for British trade & British capital. Thus all the great types which are nurtured on war, politics, thought, spirituality, activity & enterprise, the outgrowths of a vigorous and healthy national existence, the high fruits of humanity who are the very energy of life to a community, were discouraged and tended to disappear and in their place there was an enormous demand for the bourgeois qualities. The safe, respectable man, satisfied with ease and not ambitions of command, content with contemporary repute and not hankering after immortality, the superficial man who unable to think profoundly could yet pose among his peers as intellectual, who getting no true culture, wore a specious appearance of education, who guiltless of a single true sacrifice for his country, yet bulked large as a patriot, found an undisputed field open to him. The rewards of life now depended on certain outward signs of merit which were purely conventional. An University degree, knowledge of English, possession of a post in Government service or a professional diploma, a Government title, European clothes or a sleek dress and appearance, a big house full of English furniture, these were the badges by which Society recognized its chosen. These signs were all purely conventional. The degree did not necessarily denote a good education nor the knowledge of English a wide culture or successful living into new ideas, nor the Government post administrative capacity, nor the diploma special fitness for the profession, nor the title any merit in the holder, nor the big house or fine dress a mastery of the art of social life, nor the English clothes, European grit, science and enterprise. They were merely counters borrowed from Europe, but universally taken, as they are not usually taken in Europe or any living nation, as a sufficient substitute for the reality. Wealth, success, and certain outward signs of a facile respectability had become to our new civilised & refined society the supreme tests of the man. All these were conditions unusually favourable to a rank luxuriance of the bourgeois type, which thrives upon superficiality and lives by convention. The soil was suitably shallow, the atmosphere sufficiently warm & humid. The circumstances of our national life & the unique character of our education hastened & perfected the growth. Both were characterized by the false appearance of breadth covering an almost miraculous superficiality. Our old Indian life was secluded, but lofty & intense, like a pine-tree on the mountain-tops, like a tropical island in unvisited seas; our new life parted with the loftiness & intensity when it lost the isolation, but it boasted in vain of an added breadth, for it was really more provincial & narrow than the old, which had at least given room for the development of all our human faculties. The news of the world’s life poured in on us through the foreign telegrams & papers, we read English books, we talked about economics and politics, science & history, enlightenment & education, Rousseau, Mill, Bentham, Burke, and used the language of a life that was not ours, in the vain belief that so we became cosmopolitans and men of enlightenment. Yet all the time India was as much & more outside the great life of the world than it was in the days of Mahomad Tughlak or Bahadur Shah. The number of men in educated India who had any vital conception or any real understanding & mastery of the great currents of life, thought & motive which sway the vast world outside, was always wonderfully small. It could not be otherwise; for the life of that world was not our life, nor was our life any part of the world’s, any more than the days of a prisoner in a gaol or reformatory are part of the free activity of society. The thunder of great wars, the grand collision and struggle of world-moving ideas and mighty interests, the swift & strong currents of scientific discovery and discussion, the intellectual change & stir, the huge & feverish pulsation of commercial competition from China to Peru, all this was to us as the scenes in the street to a man watching from his prison bars. We might take a deep & excited interest, we might almost persuade ourselves by the vividness of our interest that we were part of the scene, but if a voice within cried to us, “Out, out, you too into the battle & the struggle and the joy & stir of this great world’s life,” the cold iron of the window-bars and the hard stone of the prison walls stood between. The jailer might not jingle his keys obtrusively nor the warder flourish his baton, but we knew well they were there. And we really believed in the bland promise that if we conducted ourselves well, we should some day get tickets of leave. We read & thought but did not live what we read & thought. So our existence grew ever more artificial and unreal. The fighter and the thinker in us dwindled & the bourgeois flourished and grew. Contentment with an artificial existence, the habit of playing with counters as if they were true coin of life, made the old rich flood of vitality, strong character, noble aspiration, excellent achievement run ever shallower & thinner in our veins. So we accepted and made the best of an ignoble ease. Our education too had just the same pride in a false show of breadth and the same confined and narrow scope. In our schools & colleges we were set to remember many things, but learned nothing. We had no real mastery of English literature, though we read Milton & Burke and quoted Byron & Shelley, nor of history though we talked about Magna Charta & Runnymede, nor of philosophy though we could mispronounce the names of most of the German philosophers, nor science though we used its name daily, nor even of our own thought & civilisation though its discussion filled columns of our periodicals. We knew little & knew it badly. And even we could not profit by the little we knew for advance, for origination; even those who struggled to a wider knowledge proved barren soil. The springs of originality were fast growing atrophied by our unnatural existence. The great men among us who strove to originate were the spiritual children of an older time who still drew sap from the roots of our ancient culture and had the energy of the Mogul times in their blood. But their success was not commensurate with their genius & with each generation these grew rarer & rarer. The sap soon began to run dry, the energy to dwindle away. Worse than the narrowness & inefficiency, was the unreality of our culture. Our brains were as full of liberty as our lives were empty of it. We read and talked so much of political rights that we never so much as realized that we had none to call our own. The very sights & sounds, the description of which formed the staple of our daily reading, were such as most of us would at no time see or hear. We learned science without observation of the objects of science, words & not the things which they symbolised, literature by rote, philosophy as a lesson to be got by heart, not as a guide to truth or a light shed on existence. We read of and believed in English economy, while we lived under Indian conditions, and worshipped the free trade which was starving us to death as a nation. We professed notions of equality, and separated ourselves from the people, of democracy, and were the servants of absolutism. We pattered off speeches & essays about social reform, yet had no idea of the nature of a society. We looked to sources of strength and inspiration we could not reach and left those untapped which were ours by possession and inheritance. We knew so little of life that we expected others who lived on our service to prepare our freedom, so little of history that we thought reform could precede liberty, so little of science that we believed an organism could be reshaped from outside. We were ruled by shopkeepers and consented enthusiastically to think of them as angels. We affected virtues we were given no opportunity of assimilating and lost those our fathers had handed down to us. All this in perfect good faith, in the full belief that we were Europeanising ourselves, and moving rapidly toward political, social, economical, moral, intellectual progress. The consummation of our political progress was a Congress which yearly passed resolutions it had no power to put in practice, statesmen whose highest function was to ask questions which need not even be answered, councillors who would have been surprised if they had been consulted, politicians who did not even know that a Right never lives until it has a Might to support it. Socially we have initiated a feeble attempt to revivify the very basis of our society by a few petty mechanical changes instead of a spiritual renovation which could alone be equal to so high a task; economically, we attained great success in destroying our industries and enslaving ourselves to the British trader; morally, we successfully compassed the disintegration of the old moral ideas & habits and substituted for them a superficial respectability; intellectually, we prided ourselves [on] the tricking out of our minds in a few leavings, scraps and strays of European thought at the sacrifice of an immense and eternal heritage. Never was an education more remote from all that education truly denotes; instead of giving the keys to the vast mass of modern knowledge, or creating rich soil for the qualities that conquer circumstance & survive, they made the mind swallow a heterogeneous jumble of mainly useless information; trained a tame parrot to live in a cage & talk of the joys of the forest. British rule, Britain’s civilizing mission in India has been the record success in history in the hypnosis of a nation. It persuaded us to live in a death of the will & its activities, taking a series of hallucinations for real things and creating in ourselves the condition of morbid weakness the hypnotist desired, until the Master of a mightier hypnosis laid His finger on India’s eyes and cried “Awake.” Then only the spell was broken, the slumbering mind realised itself and the dead soul lived again. But the education which was poison to all true elements of national strength and greatness, was meat & drink to the bourgeois. The bourgeois delights in convention, because truth is too hard a taskmaster and makes too severe a demand on character, energy & intellect. He craves superficiality, a shallow soil to grow in. For to attain depth requires time & energy which would have to be unprofitably diverted from his chief business of making his individual way in the world. He cannot give up his life to his country, but if she will be grateful for a few of his leisure hours, he will give in those limits ungrudging service & preen himself on his public virtues. Prodigal charity would be uncomfortable & unwise, but if he can earn applause by parting with a fraction of his superfluities, he is always ready for the sacrifice. Deep scholarship would unfit him for his part in life, but if figuring in learned societies or writing a few articles and essays, an occasional book guiltless of uncomfortable originality, or a learned compilation prepared under his superintendence and issued in his name will make him a man of letters, he will court & prize that easily-earned reputation. The effort to remould society and rebuild the nation is too huge and perilous a task for a comfortable citizen, but he is quite prepared to condemn old & inconvenient institutions & superstitions and lend his hand to a few changes which will make social life more pleasant and comfortable. Superficiality, unreality of thought & deed thus became the stamp of all our activities. Those who say that the new spirit in India which, before nascent & concealed, started to conscious life in the Swadeshi agitation and has taken Swadeshi, Swaraj and Self-help as its motto, is nothing new but a natural development of the old, are minds blinded by the habits of thought of the past century. The new Nationalism is the very antithesis, the complete and vehement negation of the old. The old movement sought to make a wider circle of activity, freer living-room and a more comfortable and eminent position for the bourgeois, to prolong the unnatural & evil conditions of which the subject nations died under the civilizing rule of Rome and which British rule has recreated for India; the new seeks to replace the bourgeois by the Samurai and to shatter the prison house which the nineteenth century made for our mother and build anew a palace for her glory, a garden for her pleasure, a free domain for her freedom & her pride. The old looked only to the power & interests of the educated, enlightened middle class, and shrank from the ignorant, the uneducated, the livers in the past, the outer unilluminated barbarian, drawing aside the hem of its robes lest it should touch impurity. The new overleaps every barrier; it calls to the clerk at his counter, the trader in his shop, the peasant at his plough; it summons the Brahmin from his temple and takes the hand [of] the Chandala in his degradation; it seeks out the student in his College, the schoolboy at his books, it touches the very child in its mother’s arms & the secluded zenana has thrilled to its voice; its eye searches the jungle for the Santal and travels the hills for the wild tribes of the mountains. It cares nothing for age or sex or caste or wealth or education or respectability; it mocks at the talk of a stake in the country; it spurns aside the demand for a property qualification or a certificate of literacy. It speaks to the illiterate or the man in the street in such rude vigorous language as he best understands, to youth & the enthusiast in accents of poetry, in language of fire, to the thinker in the terms of philosophy and logic, to the Hindu it repeats the name of Kali, to the Mahomedan it spurs to action for the glory of Islam. It cries to all to come forth, to help in God’s work & remake a nation, each with what his creed or his culture, his strength, his manhood or his genius can give to the new nationality. The only qualification it asks for is a body made in the womb of an Indian mother, a heart that can feel for India, a brain that can think and plan for her greatness, a tongue that can adore her name or hands that can fight in her quarrel. The old shunned sacrifice & suffering, the new rushes to embrace it. The old gave a wide berth to the jail and the rods & scourges of Power; the new walks straight to meet them. The old shuddered at the idea of revolution; the new is ready to set the whole country in turmoil for the sake of an idea. The old bent the knee to Caesar and presented him a list of grievances; the new leaves his presence or dragged back to it, stands erect and defies him in the midst of his legions. The initial condition of recovering our liberty meant a peril and a gigantic struggle from the very possibility of which we averted our eyes in a panic of bourgeois terror. It was safer & easier to cheat ourselves into believing in a contradiction and living a lie. Yet nothing could be more fatal, more insidiously destructive to the roots of manhood. It is far better to fall and bleed for ever in a hopeless but unremitting struggle than to drink of that draught of death and lethe. A people true to itself, a race that hopes to live, will not comfort itself and sap its manhood by the opiate of empty formulas and specious falsehoods; it will prefer eternal suffering & disaster. For in truth, as our old thinkers used always to insist, the whole universe stands; truth is the root and condition of life and to believe a lie, to live in a lie, is to deliver oneself to disease and death. The belief that a subject nation can acquiesce in subjection and yet make true & vital progress, growing to strength in its chains, is a lie. The idea that mitigations of subjection constitute freedom or prepare a race for freedom or that anything but the exercise of liberty fits man for liberty, is another lie. The teaching that peace and security are more important and vital to man than liberty is a third lie. Yet all these lies and many others we believed in, hugged to our hearts and made the law of our thoughts throughout the nineteenth century. The result was stagnation, or a progress in weakness and disintegration. The doctrine that social & commercial progress must precede or will of themselves bring about political strength & liberty, is a fourth & very dangerous lie; for a nation is no aggregate of separable functions, but a harmony of functions, of which government and political arrangement is the oldest, most central and most vital and determines the others. Our only hope of resurgence was in some such great unsealing of the eyes to the Maya in which we existed and the discovery of some effective mantra, some strong spiritual impulse which should have the power to renovate us from within. For good or for evil the middle class now leads in India, and whatever saving impulse comes to the nation, must come from the middle class, whatever upward movement begins, it must initiate and lead. But for that to happen the middle class must by a miracle be transfigured and lifted above itself; the natural breeding ground of the bourgeois, it must become the breeding ground of the Samurai. It must cease in fact to be a middle class and turn itself into an aristocracy, an aristocracy not of birth or landed possessions, not of intellect, not of wealth and commercial enterprise, but of character and action. India must recover her faculty for self-sacrifice, courage and high aspiration. Such a transformation is the work which has been set before itself by the new Nationalism; this is at the back of all its enthusiasm, audacity & turbulence and provides the explanation of all that has shocked and alarmed the wise men and the elders in the movement in Bengal. The new Nationalism is a creed, but it is more than a creed; it is a method, but more than a method. The new Nationalism is an attempt at a spiritual transformation of the nineteenth century Indian; it is a notice of dismissal or at least of suspension to the bourgeois and all his ideas and ways and works, a call for men who will dare & do impossibilities, the men of extremes, the men of faith, the prophets, the martyrs, the crusaders, the […] & rebels, the desperate venturers and reckless doers, the initiators of revolutions. It is the rebirth in India of the Kshatriya, the Samurai. [ word ] – word(s) omitted by the author or else lost through damage to the manuscript or printed text that are required by grammar or sense; used also to expand abbreviations.[ . . . ] – Illegible word(s), one group of three spaced dots for each presumed word.
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Beyond Name
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Beyond Name

Parables from the Upanishads Rishi Sanatkumara was once approached by Narada (evidently not yet become a Rishi), who said, “Lord, I desire to be taught by you. Please teach me.” The Rishi replied,”Very well, but first tell me how much you know; then I shall tell you if you need more.” Narada thereupon made out an inventory of his learning; it was a formidable list.  “My Lord, this is what I have learnt: Rigveda, Yajurveda, Samaveda, Atharvaveda, the Fifth Veda comprising History and Mythology; next, Grammar, Mathematics, Logic and Politics, the Science of Computing Time, Theology, Fine Arts and the Ritual Lore; Demonology, Astrology, and the Art of Predicting Fate; the Knowledge of Ancestors and of Serpents. I know all this, my Lord, and very well. This has made me master of the Word, but has not given me knowledge of the Self. I have heard that only by the knowledge of the Self can one pass beyond sorrow and pain. I am immersed in sorrow and pain, please help me reach the other shore.” Sanatkumara said, “All that you have studied and learnt is nothing but ‘Name’, no more than words. You have reached as far as ‘Name’ can take you, giving you as fruit the power to roam at will, that is, you can go unimpeded where you will. But that is about all.”  Then Narada asked, “Is there anything superior to Name?” “Of course, there is,” replied Sanatkumara. “Then tell me about it.” “Superior to Name is Speech, that is, Name with form and meaning.” Thus he went on replying to the series of Narada’s questions. Speech, Mind, Will, Thought, Meditation, Knowledge — these are the ascending grades, each higher than the one preceding. And each carries with it the power to move at will. The goal of this ascending series is, to use our own terminology, a widening of the consciousness. As we rise from grade to higher grade, our consciousness gains in width and depth and intensity. But after Meditation comes Power.  It seems that marks the end of one series and the beginning of another. The first seven of the earlier series represent the line of our externalized consciousness already manifest. But these powers or functions cannot get their full play by remaining confined to the field of our inner being. In order to make them active and fruitful and effective in practice, Power is needed, the power of work. Hence, under this category of Power, are grouped the fourfold series that constitute in essence the material world in its forms of solids, liquids, energy and air — the fifth or ethereal element is omitted for it is not relevant here. The solids form the body’s material substance, the liquids give it life and mobility, energy is stamina and prowess, air gives it the sense of width and expansion. What sustains them all as their basic support has been termed Power, which ordinarily conveys the sense of capacity and strength. But beyond this second series there is a fresh turn which takes us round to the third. Here we get to the realm of the subliminal, with its silent movements behind our ordinary consciousness. This series consists of Memory, Hope, Life-force and Truth. In our language, Memory is constant remembrance, Hope is aspiration, Life-force is energy at work, and Truth means the rejection of falsehood and the unreal and the acceptance of what is real and true. Beyond this there is yet another series, the ascent to which lies in taking a further turn from behind. The first step on this path is Knowledge, that is, knowledge of the Vast and the Particular. The second step is Contemplation, implying a concentrated one-pointedness.  The third is Faith, an unwavering trust. Faith implies steadfastness and, to make the latter effective, there is need of action, its application in life, making it concrete. Finally, action leads to joy, it is indeed the mainspring of action. We know that joy alone is the essence of creation, joy is its source, joy the ultimate end. But the Rishi says, this joy is no ordinary pleasure; its other name is the Vastness — the Vast, verily, is the Delight, there is no joy in smallness, says the Text. Starting from “Name”, the outermost expression and most concrete figure of gross physical substance, we have risen by stages to another Name of substance, to the Supreme Name, into the Highest Consciousness, from the uttermost division of the individualized ego to the endless infinity of Being. This progress or ascent of the consciousness or being has not been in a simple straight line, it has taken a zigzag serpentine path.  First to develop were, as I have said, the parts of the externalized or manifest being; this is the stage of the waking mentality. On this level, the highest attainment is Knowledge. From Name or gross physical Word as our starting-point, we arrive in the end at its culmination as the knowledge of particulars, what we call the power of discrimination. But the growth and cultivation of the mind alone is not enough. For its sufficient development and capacity there is needed a physical capacity that has the body as its base. That is why, in the second stage of our progress, there is a turning back from the mind down to a lower level, for the cultivation of this physical base, in order to attain mastery there.  Once the base got firmly established, the consciousness had to take another turn and enter upon a new stage of its progress. This was in the realm of the inner being. In this stage, there was gained the acquaintance and control of the functions and powers that work from behind the physical mind. From here there is the ascent to the fourth step while still keeping behind the veil, on to the gates of the spiritual consciousness, crossing beyond the limits of our ordinary state. Already, as we reached the level of the life-force, the Rishi had something new to say : one who gained entry into the inner or universal life became “extraordinary”, in that he had passed the limits of his ordinary consciousness, crossed over to the other side. And one who got firmly established in the integral Truth of the final stage attained the state of superconscience. According to our present-day Science there is no such thing as motion in a straight line, all movement has to take a zigzag serpentine path. The reason is that the created universe is actually spherical in shape, all lines on it must be curves. And because of the gravitational pull, all motions in it must be wave-motions. All progress or forward movement in the consciousness of man or in the lines of creation must likewise be a spiral movement. In the course of an ascent or forward movement, one can notice one thing, namely, that one has to pass again through the same place or condition which one has already crossed once. In actual fact one does not return to precisely the same place or condition, but certainly to an analogous place or situation: it is as if a replica of the earlier state appearing once again in the next higher stage or forward position. We know that the same process applies to our spiritual endeavour or even in ordinary training, when a particular quality or state has to be made more firmly and fully established. If, for example, peace is established in the first state of mind, in its physical functioning, the same state of peace has to be established over and over again in the depths of the inner being and on its ascending peaks. A somewhat similar method or process of working is noticeable in the path shown here by Rishi Sanatkumara to Narada. At the beginning of the series is the physical mind, at the end is the spiritual mind. The physical mind is the slave of sense, the spiritual mind is to become centred in God. The first series ends with Knowledge, Knowledge again begins the last series. It seems that the first is the knowledge of particulars, the last is that of the Vastness. Narada started on the march of consciousness with “Name”. He has passed from stage to stage, from level to higher level, till at last he has crossed beyond the material “Name” to the Supreme Name, Brahman. Thus surpassing the state of mortal man, he has, at last, attained the status of Rishi.   With deep gratitude to Nolini Kanta Gupta of Sri Aurobindo Ashram, Pondicherry, or Nolini Da, as he was fondly known to all in the Ashram.  More on Nolini Da here 
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A Consciousness-based Approach
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A Consciousness-based Approach

The Tent-House of Matter The modern scientific view of the human body is taken so much for granted that we hardly ever pause to consider that the body could be viewed from so many other standpoints. There is little doubt that modern medicine has been remarkable in making accurate observations about the material processes that govern the body. The grey area however is the inferences it has drawn from those observations. The inferences suffer the serious lacuna of being drawn upon a presumptuous premise of the sole reality of matter as we know it and its processes. The material world-view seen in isolation is much like a tent house hanging in mid-air with a vast and frightening unknown space within and around it. It is neither rooted to the ground below nor supported by a rope from above. Such is the figure of the human body drawn by our present day Science. Thus, we are told today of the inevitable fatalism of our genetic makeup. Convincing voices from some of the most sophisticated laboratories shout at us (or hypnotise us in believing) that our minutest reactions, from the first rush of love to the fits of post-partum blues, the immune response and the allergic response, the excess proliferation of cells as in Cancer or their under development, are all written somewhere in the genetic script of our destiny waiting for its hour to unfold. We are but our genes and our true identity is our genetic identity. Sounds familiar, like the racism of the old world in a new guise. And yet, ask the astute geneticist about identical twins that are Nature’s clones in a way and you have elaborate theories to explain (or explain away) the difference in psychological makeup, self-experience and the world-view of these genetically identical but psychologically different people. Multifactorial, we are told, a term no better than guess work. A guessing within boundaries of course. The boundaries are the walls of matter; the tent-house hanging in mid-air. The space within and around, the forces at play that hold and support and even build the fabric of the tent-house are as yet a forbidden territory. To probe them, even to question about them is a taboo, an unscientific speculation. But not for long! The materialist view of matter itself has led us to the point where fact and fantasy, the tangible and the intangible begin to mingle. The solidity of matter vanishes into the atomic void. The atomic void in turn collapses into a world of energy dancing in empty space. The seeming orderliness, the fixity of sequences, the links of cause and effect, the so called laws are nothing else but a trick of the brain, an illusion woven by the senses and supported by a limiting mind that cannot observe the totality and the whole as one movement. Or perhaps they are habits mimicking cause and effect! The mind only perceives events successively and divides them on the basis of the time of observation into a past, present and future. Thus it sees a person coming in contact with someone having flu, it sees next this person himself begin to show signs and symptoms of flu. It therefore feels it logical to presume that flu is contagious and spreads from one person to another. Further based upon the nature of the physical contact it feels that it can safely conclude about the mode of transmission. Finally, it administers a drug to the patient and sees a curative response repeated in a ‘statistically significant way’ and again feels confident in patenting a physical remedy to cure us of a physical illness with a physical cause. But this is incorrect. We can imagine or even consider a scenario as vast as Time itself — at least from the time since man appeared upon earth. Then, if we could somehow see how the symptoms of illness and ‘illnesses’ itself are a pattern thrown up during certain spaces of time, we may observe many new and unknown factors. The upsurge in the flu virus, the lowering of our body defences, the epidemic, may all be linked to a third or fourth factor, for example war, that we fail to see or co-relate since we observe things in small spaces of time. This third or fourth factor that we fail to see is the other side of physical phenomenon. In other words each phenomenon has its physical and its occult side. These do not cancel each other, they often complement and explain each other. This occult side is composed of certain psychological states or rather conditions that exist in the cosmos parallel to the physical world which is simply one kind of organisation of Reality or rather our experience of it. Ischemic heart disease is another case in point. It is barely a few decades back that the medical pundits were convinced about smoking, obesity and dietary habits as being the prime factor in causing or precipitating a heart attack. The pattern however changed soon enough within a few decades. The clinician began to see more younger people, appearing physically quite fit with no history of smoking, suffering from major coronary blocks. And consequently they discovered a new factor — the type A personality. It was the kind of person created by the competitive world of today; a person driven by time, critical of everyone and everything with no time to release his emotional life. These persons had blocked their emotions, at least the positive ones and the blocked coronaries well reflected and recorded this inner state. So things began to fall in place. Smoking, wrong eating habits and IHD were all common symptoms of an unknown factor — an impoverished and constricted emotional life driven by the mad rush of ambition. It is then that one began to observe and understand why quite a few people escaped an assault on their hearts despite the intake of high fat content, despite the nicotine and of course, despite being as obese as Sumo wrestlers. But then, where are the limits of the behind and the beyond? Our physical probes, even the most accurate and the minutest ones, stop at the threshold of the mind. They paused at the doorsteps of that grey passage where thoughts, feelings, attitudes mingle with molecular currents and electro-magnetic waves within the brain and reach out from there through a complex neuro-circuitry to the remotest cell, perhaps penetrating even deeper, touching the nucleus with its genetic core? We yet do not know and may never know as long as we limit our science to a study of physical vibrations alone. The vibrations of thoughts and feelings may and do affect our cells without the necessary support of a material medium just as the feelings aroused in one person can awaken and engulf another person who is emotionally or physically close without the aid of a physical medium. Or, perhaps like the vibrations of an ‘ultrasound’ which can go right up to the cells and resonate back without any visible physical evidence of penetration. So much for ‘Evidence-Based Medicine’. Evidence, yes, but is physical evidence alone enough is the question. We need to dig deeper into the dumb and dark depths of matter, beyond the cellular mechanisms and processes, beyond genes and electrical currents, beyond molecules and electrons, beyond the vast unknown that almost frighteningly occupies with a fathomless emptiness our physical atomic and sub-atomic space. The seer-poet probing thus, illumining by the inner Light of the Self the fathomless dark unknown, beautifully observes: I saw the electric stream on which is run The world turned motes and spark-whirls of a Light, A Fire of which the nebula and sun Are glints and flame-drops, scattered, eremite; And veiled by viewless Light worked other Powers, An Air of movement endless, unbegun, Expanding and contracting in Time’s hours And the intangible ether of the One. The surface finds, the screen-phenomenon, Are Nature’s offered ransom, while behind Her occult mysteries lie safe, unknown, From the crude handling of the empiric Mind. Our truths discovered are but dust and trace Of the eternal Energy in her race. [Sri Aurobindo, Collected Poems: ‘Discoveries of Science’] Probing Deeper A day may well arrive when we are able to map each and every gene that determines some physical attribute and psychological event. We may also find the key that triggers into an amazing and unbelievable order the genetic concert and fine tunes the music of life down to the minutest details of its melody. We may, with stretches of imaginative fiction filling the factual gaps, relate each mental event to a precise neurochemical pathway. Perhaps, we may rather discover the varying intensity of molecular movements and electrical currents in the same pathway correlating with forming the material basis for an essentially mental experience. Having done that and thereby manipulating the chemistry to alter physiological events and psychological experience, we may sit back and congratulate ourselves at the wonders of molecular biology and its extreme limits! But where are the limits? The extreme limit is only a limit of our creative insight. As the horizons recede, the unknown is pushed a little further. And so will it be as long as we extend our gaze outward and outward. But where is the centre of this ever expanding circle of infinity? For having answered all questions about the mechanism we would still have the most fundamental question left unanswered: ‘Who or what is this Self that experiences the mental events?’ ‘Who is the witness, the thinker, the dreamer, the doer, the seer?’ Confining ourselves to the chemistry we may move within the confines of a closed system with no issue or scope of any authentic evolution and certainly none of a Self-experience. A group of cells, tissues, organs and even a totality of all these functioning in perfect order and harmony does not lead to the sense of Self. Just as a conglomeration of all the atoms and elements in the physical universe does not explain a single movement of life. However life can and does explain the movement of the cosmos, the forces holding it, the forces moving it apart — the breath of life expanding and contracting the living pulsating universe. So too with the entire physiological processes and events of life. Mind can explain the logic behind the magical movements of life. Yet all the processes of life, in plants and animals and all the genes from the yeast to the ape cannot explain the logic of logic itself. And what lies beyond the logic of logic itself and holds the key to the magic of the Infinite and the finite in a single embrace? What is it that can explain the gaps in our mind’s logic, the gaps in the rhythms of life and the gaps in our understanding of matter itself? This gap in our knowledge as well as the gap within the atom is filled by consciousness. Consciousness explains thought and mind and life and matter itself. Since it is Consciousness that has become these things — in the deeper view of things — it is indeed Consciousness that becomes all these myriad phenomenon, physical, psychological or any other. How are we to probe consciousness? It is evident that if consciousness is anterior and superior to phenomenon then naturally any amount of investigation of one phenomenon by another phenomenon will not lead us to any definite conclusion. Consciousness would always escape the grasp of phenomenon. Or we may at most understand only that much of ‘It’ as is involved in the process of the phenomenon, yet it is possible to study and understand consciousness and, having done that, it is possible to understand and know each and every phenomenon from the perspective of consciousness. Not only can one understand better, one can relate better, master better, this phenomenal world with the help of consciousness because consciousness is, in its essence, not only awareness or knowledge but also the force, the primal Conscious-Force that assumes and becomes the limited mind force and awareness and consciousness or life force and body force, etc. We have an analogy here. When the physical scientist began to perceive matter not as matter alone but as one pole of matter-energy continuum, he could understand better, manipulate better, the world of physical phenomenon. So too when we begin to understand physical matter not just as matter-energy but as matter-energy-consciousness, we would understand even better. For consciousness is neither just in the mental world, nor is it a chance by-product of an aberrant gland acting in conjunction with the brilliant babble of a billion neurons. Consciousness is there in the instinct of the beast holding it in a cyclic chain of oneness with the rest of the biological world. Consciousness is also there in the gaps between atoms and molecules and in the seemingly empty space within the atom upholding this ocean of quarks and electrons and drifting particles of energy and weaving them all together with the fabric of ether. Properties vs. Quality: The Unseen Factor If matter is nothing else but a condensation of consciousness (just as ice crystals are condensed vapour), each and every form has its correlate in terms of consciousness as well. While a phenomenal study of matter, can give us its quantitative attributes (for example weight, shape, properties, etc.), the qualitative aspects of matter or any material form can only be rightly and fully understood in terms of consciousness. The ancient seers knew it well. So, when they worshipped a stone idol they saw in it a living expression of the deity behind the form. It was not just another stone for them that can be hurled to hurt or huddled with other stones to build a wall. By appeal to the attribute of consciousness, they could use the stone idol to receive earthly and unearthly boons as if the stone suddenly came alive and were charged with a power that exceeded even the limited average human consciousness. On its obverse side, totems and amulets were charmed (charged) by people through an inner act of consciousness giving it properties to harm or heal. Elaborate studies exist that even classified metals and stones into categories that could attract and hold helpful or harmful vibrations of consciousness. The use of marble in places of worship because of its property to receive and hold spiritual vibrations is well known. Of course, it is understood that the object had to be charged by those who had a capacity to do so. And when a patient having faith and receptivity in the method used the amulet or the stone he could receive the vibrations of consciousness entrapped in it. So much so that instances are on record wherein a glass of plain water, a small leaf of Tulsi (a sacred plant), a flower, a thread, or for that matter any material object could be used to heal even difficult cases. We all have witnessed these things but choose to ignore since the bandage of a material science had covered our eye. But the bandage does get ripped off, the scales begin to fall off, the dust is cleared and we begin to truly see and know instead of, as we do now, know and see or rather still worse, think and see. Most of the time we see only the heap of dust thrown into our eyes as facts of truth but fail to see the force of wind behind and the luminous sun above. Or else we give the name of chance to our ignorance (or unwillingness to probe and know). Perhaps we feel safe within the limits of our material well till it collapses into the water underground and we suddenly see a very different, much vaster horizon and the world. The walls of the well are nothing else but the limits of our faith for in the end it is faith that precedes knowledge and not vice versa. Thus, we see and observe what we wish to see and observe. We draw inferences based on what will strengthen and support our basic belief about life. We see matter as matter alone because it absolves us of all except a minimum material responsibility. If we look deep into matter, we shall see that it is composed of electric charges spinning in 99% empty space (the ‘Nihil womb’). It is strange that something that is so unsubstantial gives rise to the sense of solidity. It is due to a complex interplay of material forces (the five subtle forces of Indian thought that corresponds to similar material forces in modern physics). The point is whether these forces, delicately balancing themselves and creating the atomic foundation of solid substance, are unconsciously driven or else are the result of Consciousness reducing Itself to form and qualities. The Nihil womb of atom is after all a cosy place to rest if we wish to pass off the burden of our life to a mechanical inconscient force of Nature. But we can equally and with greater force of mastery see matter as an act of consciousness and thereby open doors of our science to a conscious handling of the forces of life. Thus, we can use pure material means to master a sea-storm, a flood, an earthquake, or rain and gale. We can equally approach these seemingly material phenomenon from the pole of consciousness. We can then master the sea, the wind, the rain, the earth and the sky by an appeal to the consciousness behind these phenomenal forms. Or else, we can integrate both using matter as an instrument and means to hold and convey a particular mode of energy, a certain vibration of consciousness. Matter and material means are like a vehicle carrying different personages and housing different personalities. And in each age mankind has used it differently. It has observed the same matter from one or the other of many points of views and supported by the faith of the age-created mental systems, sciences and philosophies. After all each age had its own unique and successful system of science, valid for that epoch of time but denied and denounced in another age. Each system of science, of medicine, is nothing else but a special way of looking at the same phenomenon. The real truth however escapes unobserved since it is not trapped in the phenomena at all. Each system is valid and invalid depending upon the age and the faith mankind puts into it. Each system is nothing else but a certain bridge thrown across to fill the gap between the mental consciousness of man and the higher consciousness that is present everywhere but unseen and unfelt by us. The system is more like a movement in the wind that makes us aware of the air upon which our very existence depends, even though unseen and unfelt by us routinely. The ‘movement’ makes us sense what is otherwise insensible to our crude and limited senses. We however start relying too much on the ‘movement’ and not on that which moves and that which is the movement. Now it blows in one direction, now from another. And we look helplessly for the direction and search with a hopeless despair if the direction changes. But the thing that gives life is always there. Perhaps, we would do better if we stopped looking for directions and rather looked at the thing itself. Perhaps, we would recover much faster and better if we stopped relying so much on this or that system and rather put our trust in ‘That’ which acts through all the systems and acts even when we have dispensed away with them. For at the end of our search we discover only two things holding as an indispensable and solid pillar the different bridges and roads we take towards health and wholeness. On this side, it is the pillar of ‘Faith’, while on the other side it is the pillar of ‘Grace’. All the rest is a dispensable necessity in between. Systems are interim truths that change from time to time. But Faith and Grace are the eternal unchangeables that forever endure. Towards a Holistic View Neither is complete without the other. We need to understand matter afresh in terms of consciousness. We also need to extract the latent possibilities of consciousness and translate them in material terms. Not just consciousness as we know it today — that is the limited mental awareness. And not just the material matter or physical matter that our limited senses are accustomed to experience through evolutionary conditioning but also subtler matter appropriate to other planes of existence. The consciousness approach (if one may say so for want of a better term) therefore opens the doors to a much vaster understanding and mastery of the forces around us. It is a completer understanding and therefore truly holistic. All other forms of knowing are limited and therefore valid within a limited range and for a limited time. Even a combination of all the systems is not holistic since there will always be many other systems that are undiscovered or forgotten and lost through which consciousness can travel or has travelled once. Many pathways and by-lanes are yet to manifest since the One Consciousness is potentially infinite and can use all methods. To know the One Consciousness is therefore to know all in essence and principle. To know the parts is only to know intermediary details whose ends are missing from our sight. And to know the One Consciousness, the only known way is to identify with ‘It’ through whatever method. True knowledge therefore begins with knowledge of the One Consciousness that has become the many. And true science accordingly is the knowledge of the relationships of the One Consciousness in its application with the many. In other words, not only our self-view and world-view but also our understanding and means of mastery over phenomenon depend largely upon the level of consciousness with which we are habitually or instinctively identified. This identification varies from species to species, from race to race, from one period of Time to another; but also varies from individual to individual. The variation can sometimes be so marked as to make some individuals very distinctly different (for better or worse) from the age and the environment in which they are born or live. This creates one kind of disequilibrium at a social and psychological level and continues in the form of a seeking, (sometimes even a restless seeking or rebellion with its own share of experimentation and error) till the individual consciousness either discovers its own type in the world, or if a rarer variety, isolates himself or creates its own kind around it. Our extension into other bodies and minds is not only through the physical unit and genes but also and perhaps even more commonly and importantly through consciousness. Consciousness reproduces itself into other bodies through a continuous interchange of which we are largely unaware. That can explain many things about individual and group psychology if we wish to. Also many of the seeming anomalies of life arise because of an apparent dislocation of our inner consciousness from the outer; or the consciousness of the different parts of our being. A wide and generous heart may find itself stifled when surrounded with mean and selfish thoughts, within or around it. A high and clear thinking mind may get pulled back by narrow and limited perceptions and feelings arising within or in those around it. A strong and noble vital may feel frustrated when its natural impulse is curbed in a cramped up environment or a weak and fragile body. And, of course, a body full of natural ease and grace may lose its innate beauty due to a rough vital misusing it. All these and so many other forms of disequilibrium of consciousness may arise in a human being leading to various forms of inner and outer maladies of the body and mind. A disease, from a consciousness perspective is essentially an inner disequilibrium. This inner disequilibrium sometimes translates itself as the aberrant movement of molecules, genes, chemistry and physiology. Whether this disequilibrium is triggered by inner or outer causes matters little for in essence it is always an inability of the inner to respond to the challenge from outside. And at a certain point, the sharp distinctions we draw between inner and outer, within and without, ourselves and others begin to fall and we see all as a single extension, a single oneness and a single plan. Yet, for convenience we speak of individual pathologies and individual diseases. In reality it is not only the individual’s but also a larger disequilibrium within the humanity of which he is a part. No man is an island and that is much truer of our inner being. All the same, the human body is a symbol and an instrument. As a symbol it reflects faithfully the truth of our inner being, our inner strengths and weaknesses, our unique inheritance (psychological as well) and constitution; above all, it reflects the changes in our thoughts and feelings and impulses in the pattern of our consciousness. As an instrument it can be likened to a machine (as science does see it but unfortunately as an inconscient machine alone) driven by various forces — physical, vital, mental, spiritual forces of consciousness. When it opens too much to the forces of a lower order, in short, forces of division, and disintegration, it falls ill. The nature of illness then becomes a symbolic pointer to the level of consciousness at which the forces of disintegration are active. Thus, when we use our mouth and tongue to project very harsh and crude vibrations, the teeth and oral cavity become susceptible to decay and illness. When we hold tight our feelings and let ourselves be governed by excessive ambition, we develop tight and choked coronaries hurting our heart. The stifling smoke of anger (and proneness to it) can stifle our lungs. Depression depresses every healthy function in general but specifically the immune and the cardiovascular system. Anxiety erodes the stomach and gastrointestinal (GI) tract in general. The fire of desire finishes the bodily fuel much too early than warranted. Unkindness, jealousy, hate, fear, greed and lust in general attack the abdominal organs just as a weak and selfish sentimentalism adversely affects our liver. And so on and so forth. Equally, an opening of the body and mind to a higher spiritual or a deeper soul-consciousness can protect and heal and strengthen and succour. One may do it through prayers, meditation, contact with someone inwardly developed, but it works best when the opening comes naturally and spontaneously as an inner need of the soul. This way, the illness can itself become one of the gateways to a deeper consciousness, a turning point that helps us depart from our ordinary mental to a higher spiritual consciousness. To put the whole thing in an apparent paradoxical reconciliation, we may say that the price of opening to the lower forces is illness and the prize of illness is a possibility of opening to the higher forces, out of sheer necessity. This alone (and not the theories of God’s curse and punishment) justifies the presence of pain and illness in a world built by an all compassionate God and woven by His consciousness with the fabric of Love. This alone justifies our passage through the hell of suffering as a shortcut to heaven, a rough and bumpy road through which we move ahead when our feet are unwilling to tread the smooth and sunlit path. The Healer and the Healed The healer therefore has a threefold task. First, to understand the truth and level of inner dislocation from the outer illness. By doing so, he assists the patient’s entry into his own inner life and its unique features. Second, to induce faith and assist in opening the patient through the rickety and narrow wicket gate of illness to the higher and deeper forces of health and healing. Here he may use whatever means or system comes naturally to him and to which the patient himself may be receptive. Thirdly, and most importantly, he cannot accomplish the first two tasks unless he himself is open and progressing towards deeper and higher zones of consciousness. If the physician is himself entrapped in a narrow and limited self-view and world-view, he obviously cannot become a truly powerful catalyst for the inner change. To work upon others one has to work upon oneself for in fact there are no others but the One carrying the all. And each particle and unit of all that liberates itself from its fears and bondage automatically helps liberate others. Besides, we can give to the world only that which we have. Only one who has peace and harmony can potentially impart these to others. Only the strong can give strength to others. Only who save themselves can others save. [Sri Aurobindo, Savitri: Canto III, Book 4] For the rest there is the usual physical view of health and illness, physical remedies and drugs, physical doctors knowing and replacing body parts with astounding precision but who miss the ‘One’ and the ‘whole’. Just as we have the individual consciousness of the doctor and the patient so also there is the collective consciousness of the environment in which each of us dwells (our psychological dwelling place). The vibrations of consciousness and the quality of forces that cohabit and surround our inner dwelling are of importance in health and healing. This environmental consciousness may exist in a certain place as a formation from the past. Or else and in addition it is largely created by the consciousness of the patient and the people around him including the health care personnel. Interestingly, there is a reciprocal effect between our physical and psychological environment. A clean and simple environment full of sunlight and fresh air may well be conducive in attracting forces of beauty and harmony and health. So can certain colours and patterns and designs attract vibrations of peace and strength. The lighting of incense is not just a symbolic act of worship but a concrete physical means to purify the atmosphere. Equally, and in an obverse way, dirt, smoke, alcohol may make us ill not just by physical means alone but even more through a secret affinity to forces of disorder, confusion and disintegration. A whole world of consciousness based preventive hygiene is waiting to be explored! The End or the Beginning? Finally, at the end of this day, the debate continues about which came first — consciousness or matter. The ghost of Phineas Gage still haunts the scientific world [1]. And so the miracle cures and sudden conversions of history like St. Paul and King Ashoka. The phenomena of a Hitler and Bin Laden on the one hand and that of a Buddha and Christ on the other hand continue to baffle the average humanity. Not to speak of the various hue and range though which the spectra of this world moves reflecting the shades of the viewer’s glass. Like the subjective-objective and the impersonal-personal dilemma it is unlikely to be resolved at the level at which we stand today. The mental consciousness of man stands at a strange crossroad. The problem and the solution move in a narrow arc of a modicum of few necessities. The animal does not carry the burden of its past or the load of a future destiny. Likewise, beyond man there is no need of answers just as there are no questions since all is self-explained, self-known in the light of a luminous Self. But here, in man, the mental self is like a blind man moving through a virgin forest with sometimes the staff of faith and at other times the touch of a half-lit ignorance full of reasoned guesses as his support. The eye of knowledge is however missing and therefore he knows not his map or his compass. He feels ever unsure in the midst of a thousand million cosmic forces around him. He sees nothing in the atomic space and stumbles over each idea that holds him for a while. His knowledge only pushes the unknown further and the ‘Thing’ always escapes his infant grasp. He knows not who he is or why he is or perhaps even where he is. Yet, unlike the animals he is aware that he is. And this is the source of his misery. He therefore has questions but no definite answers; problems with temporary solutions but no resolution of the enigma’s knot which ties his fate. He is defeated in the midst of his conquests and having fallen and failed finds himself victorious. Diseases and germs multiply even as drugs and remedies do. He only plays at pushing death for a while till it stares at his face again in another form mocking at his efforts. The issue cannot be resolved at the level of the mental man. The mental man must rise and become the spiritual man or man-divine to undo the Gordian knot. The script of the earth indeed seems to be written in double terms — the material and the spiritual. Both must embrace each other to complete each other. And that seems possible only in the common matrix of consciousness. Otherwise we have to rest content with playing with the mud of the earth or the mud of the stars and forget about the path of light that links the two. This however cannot be. The debate over ‘Consciousness’ may now be divided 50-50 in two camps. But there is a growing effort to genuinely link the two. The debate and the effort are themselves indicative that the resolution is near. It may not be just around the corner. And truly speaking how do 20, 40, 50 or a 100 years matter so long as we as a race are moving forward? How does it matter whether we, as we know ourselves today, would live to see the resolution? In the consciousness view of things, we all will be there as we have always been speaking and working and sensing through one body or another, through one form or another. The worm is nothing else but a forerunner and precursor of the now extinct dinosaur. So too, the dolphin and the ape are nothing else but humans in disguise awaiting the hour of an evolutionary knock that would shatter the simian mask and disclose the human face of analysis and reason from behind. And who or what is man? The Infinite wearing a finite mask; God denying his godhead; the Divine wearing the shape of a limited intelligence and power! On the answer to this question rests the future of science and of man. The Sphinx calls to man and to his science: … Thou thinkest term and end for thee are not; But though thy pride is great, thou hast forgot The Sphinx that waits for man beside the way. All questions thou mayst answer, but one day Her question shall await thee. That reply, As all we must; for they who cannot, die. She slays them and their mangled bodies lie Upon the highways of eternity. Therefore, if thou wouldst live, know first this thing, Who thou art in this dungeon labouring?” [Sri Aurobindo, Collected Poems: ‘A Vision of Science’]   Reprinted with permission from Dr. Alok Pandey’s book “Veda of the Body” Publications
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The Future of Earth
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A Dream

There should be somewhere on earth a place which no nation could claim as its own, where all human beings of goodwill who have a sincere aspiration could live freely as citizens of the world and obey one single authority, that of the supreme Truth; a place of peace, concord and harmony where all the fighting instincts of man would be used exclusively to conquer the causes of his sufferings and miseries, to surmount his weaknesses and ignorance, to triumph over his limitations and incapacities; a place where the needs of the spirit and the concern for progress would take precedence over the satisfaction of desires and passions, the search for pleasure and material enjoyment. In this place, children would be able to grow and develop integrally without losing contact with their souls; education would be given not for passing examinations or obtaining certificates and posts but to enrich existing faculties and bring forth new ones. In this place, titles and positions would be replaced by opportunities to serve and organise; the bodily needs of each one would be equally provided for, and intellectual, moral and spiritual superiority would be expressed in the general organisation not by an increase in the pleasures and powers of life but by increased duties and responsibilities.  Beauty in all its artistic forms, painting, sculpture, music, literature, would be equally accessible to all; the ability to share in the joy it brings would be limited only by the capacities of each one and not by social or financial position. For in this ideal place money would no longer be the sovereign lord; individual worth would have a far greater importance than that of material wealth and social standing. There, work would not be a way to earn one’s living but a way to express oneself and to develop one’s capacities and possibilities while being of service to the community as a whole, which, for its own part, would provide for each individual’s subsistence and sphere of action.  In short, it would be a place where human relationships, which are normally based almost exclusively on competition and strife, would be replaced by relationships of emulation in doing well, of collaboration and real brotherhood. The earth is certainly not ready to realize such an ideal, for mankind does not yet possess the necessary knowledge to understand and accept it nor the indispensable conscious force to execute it. That is why I call it a dream. Yet, this dream is on the way of becoming a reality. That is exactly what we are doing on a small scale, in proportion to our modest means. The achievement is indeed far from being perfect, it is progressive; little by little we advance towards our goal, which, we hope, one day we shall be able to hold before the world as a practical and effective means of coming out of the present chaos in order to be born into a more true, more harmonious new life.   The Mother of Sri Aurobindo Ashram wrote this in 1954 and called it a “dream” because she felt that the earth is certainly not ready to realize such an ideal.  To realize such an ideal, humanity has to outgrow many of its mental constructs and concepts, its old ideologies and beliefs, its destructive politics and greed-driven economics, its separative religions and creeds and its soulless models of education. One by one, systematically, we will need to demolish all our old moulds of thought and belief and soar upward into a free and unconditioned consciousness. It is in a free and unconditioned consciousness that the deepest and highest will truly blossom. We don’t need more education or religion, we need more consciousness, more harmony, more beauty.  It is in this light that we ask you to read Swami Vivekananda’s talk being published this week. 
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The Goal
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The Goal

(Excerpted from a talk delivered in San Francisco, March 1900. The format of this article has been slightly altered for convenience of reading — Ed.)  Monism  We find that man, as it were, is always surrounded by something greater than himself, and he is trying to grasp the meaning of this. Man will ever seek the highest ideal. He knows that it exists and that religion is the search after the highest ideal. At first all his searches were in the external plane — placed in heaven, in different places — according to his grasp of the total nature of man.  Then man began to look at himself a little closer and began to find out that the real “me” was not the “me” that he stands for ordinarily. As he appears to the senses is not the same as he really is. He began to search inside of himself, and found out that . . . the same ideal he had placed outside of himself is all the time within; what he was worshipping outside was his own real inner nature. The difference between dualism and monism is that when the ideal is put outside of oneself, it is dualism. When God is sought within, it is monism.  Individuality Many want pleasure as the goal. For that pleasure they seek only the senses. On the higher planes much pleasure is to be sought. Then on spiritual planes. Then in himself  —  God within him. The man whose pleasure is outside of himself becomes unhappy when that outside thing goes. You cannot depend for this pleasure upon anything in this universe. If all my pleasures are in myself, I must have pleasure there all the time because I can never lose my Self. . . . Mother, father, child, wife, body, wealth — everything I can lose except my Self, my bliss in the Self. All desire is contained in the Self. This is individuality which never changes, and this is perfect.  Who is born and who dies? You are having fun, playing with worlds and all that. You keep this body as long as you like. If you do not like it, do not have it. The Infinite is the real; the finite is the play. You are the infinite body and the finite body in one. Know it! But knowledge will not make any difference; the play will go on. . . . Two words — soul and body — have been joined. Partial knowledge is the cause. Know that you are always free. The fire of knowledge burns down all the impurities and limitations. I am that Infinite. . . .  God & Me What becomes of God and worship and all that? They have their place. I have divided myself into God and me; I become the worshipped and I worship myself. Why not? God is I. Why not worship my Self? The universal God — He is also my Self. It is all fun. There is no other purpose.  What is the end and aim of life? None, because I know that I am the Infinite. If you are beggars, you can have aims. I have no aims, no want, no purpose. I come to your country, and lecture — just for fun. No other meaning. What meaning can be there? Only slaves do actions for somebody else. You do actions for nobody else. When it suits you, you worship. You can join the Christians, the Mohammedans, the Chinese, the Japanese. You can worship all the gods that ever were and are ever going to be. . . .  I am in the sun, the moon, and the stars. I am with God and I am in all the gods. I worship my Self.  There is another side to it. I have kept it in reserve. I am the man that is going to be hanged. I am all the wicked. I am getting punished in hells. That also is fun. This is the goal of philosophy — to know that I am the Infinite. Aims, motives, purposes, and duties live in the background. I am One I am One, alone, through all eternity. Whom shall I fear? It is all my Self. This is continuously to be meditated upon. Through that comes realisation. It is through realisation that you become a blessing to others.  “Thy face shines like that of one who has known God.” (Chhândogya Upanishad. IV. ix. 2.) That is the goal. This is not to be preached as I am doing.  “Under a tree I saw a teacher, a boy of sixteen; the disciple was an old man of eighty. The teacher was teaching in silence, and the doubts of the disciple vanished.” (Dakshinâmurtistotram, 12.)  And who speaks? Who lights a candle to see the sun? When the truth dawns, no witness is necessary. You know it. That is what you are going to do: realise it. First think of it. Reason it out. Satisfy your curiosity. Then think of nothing else. I wish we never read anything. Lord help us all! Just see what a learned man becomes.  “This is said, and that is said. . . .”  “What do you say, my friend?”  “I say nothing.” He quotes everybody else’s thought; but he thinks nothing. If this is education, what is lunacy? Look at all the men who wrote! These modern writers, not two sentences their own! All quotations.   There is not much value in books, and in second hand religion there is no value whatsoever. It is like eating. Your religion would not satisfy me. Jesus saw God and Buddha saw God. If you have not seen God, you are no better than the atheist. Only he is quiet, and you talk much and disturb the world with your talk. Books and bibles and scriptures are of no use. I met an old man when I was a boy; he did not study any scripture, but he transmitted the truth of God by a touch.  Silence ye teachers of the world. Silence ye books. Lord, Thou alone speak..  Truth Within If there is this truth, if there is God, it must be within us. I must be able to say, “I have seen Him with my eyes,” otherwise I have no religion. Beliefs, doctrines, sermons do not make religion. It is realisation, perception of God which alone is religion. What is the glory of all these men whom the world worships? God was no more a doctrine for them. Did they believe because their grandfather believed it? No. It was the realisation of the Infinite, higher than their own bodies, minds, and everything. This world is real inasmuch as it contains a little bit of the reflection of that God. We love the good man because in his face shines the reflection a little more. We must catch it ourselves. There is no other way.  That is the goal. Struggle for it! Have your own Bible. Have your own Christ. Otherwise you are not religious. Do not talk religion. Men talk and talk. “Some of them, steeped in darkness, in the pride of their hearts think that they have the light. And not only that, they even offer to take others upon their shoulders, and both fall into the pit.” (Katha Upanishad, I. ii. 5.) . . .  No church ever saved by itself. It is good to be born in a temple, but woe unto the person who dies in a temple or church. Out of it! It was a good beginning, but leave it! It was the childhood place . . . but let it be! . . . Go to God directly. No theories, no doctrines. Then alone will all doubts vanish. Then alone will all crookedness be made straight.   In the midst of the manifold, he who sees that One; in the midst of this infinite death, he who sees that one life; in the midst of the manifold, he who sees that which never changes in his own soul — unto him belongs eternal peace.
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The Human Body: A Mystery’s Workshop
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The Human Body: A Mystery’s Workshop

We are so used to seeing the body so much as organs, tissues, cells and their functions that we fail to observe any consciousness inherent in it.  Is the body something unconscious, a machine driven by mechanical energy?  It may appear so at first, but a deeper probe reveals that a consciousness stands behind the seemingly unconscious machine.  The first impression itself is of a battalion of cells that has repeatedly rehearsed their drill and execute it to the minutest perfection.  Or of an orchestra playing a concert with various musical instruments.  What we see is the final performance, but what we do not see are the years of patient practice.  This programming of each cell (in our body’s case) to perform a certain drill or strike a certain note in the concert of the body’s movements has come through aeons of conditioning.  The fixity of laws and processes are the result of an adaptive conditioning over the years. Whether this conditioning and memory is passed down through the genetic mechanism or in some other way is open to discussion. But the fact of adaptation in one body acquired through years being transmitted to others of the species in a rapid and spontaneous way is an undisputed thing. Whatever be the mechanism behind this evolutionary adaptation this conditioning has its advantages. It provides stability essential for useful and coordinated function.  It also provides a rapidity of response to known environmental cues and so enhances survival.  But the flip side of this is a fixity, which prevents us from discovering new ways of understanding and meeting the challenges of life. The horns and the tail so useful to animal life become meaningless at the human level with the full development of hands and its power to hold and grasp. Again, for example, even when we eliminate fear of an object or social situation from our mind, the body still gives the response of fear in the form of a tremor.  But once this fear is deconditioned from the physical body, it is done for good.  The body is difficult to decondition but once done, the lesson is permanent.  The memory of the mind may fail but the body’s imprints remain. The Physical Consciousness So where is the seat of physical imprint and memory? Where is the blueprint which registers all the changes and transmits it down the line and even horizontally? One can still stretch one’s imagination to conceive of reverse t-RNA, a strand of RNA that carries information from the cell surface to the nuclei. Its importance is that it is perhaps the micro-chip linking the outside world with the inside of a cell. Thus our environment (physical and psycho-spiritual) can induce changes within the cell itself, carrying messages from the outside to the nucleus and effectuating genetic changes to be subsequently passed down the generations. What is not so easily conceivable is the transmission of the evolutionary changes horizontally as if our very physical being extended into one another as a single continuum! The only way to understand this is that behind the gross and visible physical body is a layer of subtle physical consciousness extending as the archetype holding the imprints and images of our past as well as the present and the future. It is this physical consciousness that mingles with the gross physical body and becomes one with it. In fact the gross body is nothing but a derivative product precipitated through the condensation of this physical consciousness. The physical consciousness is like the healthy background against which the changing patterns of our physical being are matched and certified as healthy or sick. A consequent directive follows to correct the imbalance and the entire body’s processes adjust to its dictates. Or else we may visualize the physical consciousness as the uncorrupted original file containing the plans and processes of the gross body. Genes, chemical reactions, the various functions are only intermediary processes that adjust of themselves in accordance with the central directive. The real map and contours, the inner geography and history of each form is there in the individual physical consciousness. Perhaps, considering the great importance of this subtle body, Nature has kept this original file in secrecy lest our all too human curiosity corrupts it. Yet Nature does lend all its secrets if we pursue it rightly. So too the physical consciousness can be studied, awakened and called upon to assist in the healing as well as the evolutionary process. It is the last frontier where the sense of a separate body is preserved without losing the innate sense of oneness behind all physical existence and within the different parts of the body itself.  Just as computer programming is not on the display screen or circuits, but in the mind of the programmer, the fixity of patterns in body movements and functions is not in the gross structure or genetic code (which are mainly transcripts), but in the physical consciousness that receives and transmits influences from subtle levels of consciousness. If subtlety and an incessant urge to progress are the hallmarks of mind and fluidity and an ever expanding plasticity are the hallmarks of life, then it may well be said that fixity and inertia are the hallmarks of the physical consciousness and the body. It is only natural that this be so because the very purpose of the body is to provide a stable basis for our individual existence. The human body is much like the take-off field for various types of aircrafts in the form of thoughts, feelings, desires, impulses, etc. If the field is not good then the forces of life and mind suffer a diminution and labour under great duress. The solidity of the field may not guarantee an equally robust and healthy life and mind but it does open such a possibility. In contrast, a handicap at the physical level generally (exceptions apart) does limit the possibilities. To take a common experience, while it is possible for us to turn our thoughts and emotions upwards or downwards when we are in a state of physical health, our thinking and feeling get grossly constricted when we are sick, say with fever! The significance of the body can therefore never be underestimated. The hardware has to be commensurate with the software we wish to install. The Hardware of the Body and its Future Possibilities Much of the body’s evolutionary hardware still pertains to our animal past and life in the jungles. If developed we can still recover many of the lost capabilities of animal life. A methodical programme of physical exercises can turn our muscles into steel, our legs into powerful wheels and our heart into an extraordinary pumping machine. But that would not really be a forward march but a sliding back to a left behind past. The physical consciousness has however not only the imprints of the past but also and more importantly the blueprints of the future. Any evolutionary change must first transit itself through the subtle physical consciousness and then trickle to the gross body through a complex system of nerves. The subtle body has many other possibilities than merely those of our animal past. It can, for example, escape the laws of gravity, change its size according to need, create additional covering for itself as a cloth wrapped around us, extend a portion of itself into other things, prolong its existence, reconstitute itself into different shapes, reach out through the subtle senses far beyond our limited sense, draw energy directly without food, transmute the experience of pain into delight, multiply itself and possibly exist indefinitely. We find these exceptional and higher possibilities manifested in the case of rare yogis. These rare possibilities, often mocked by our arrogant and limited science as fantasy and myths, are yet the things that would manifest in the future. The hidden possibility must one day come out and the concealed and latent energies release themselves. The human body may have an animal past; it yet has a god’s future. It is in this evolutionary direction that we need to develop the hardware of the body. This would need a twofold effort. First, an awakening and development of the body to its own highest human possibilities, that is, to bring the now automatic functions under a wilful, conscious and voluntary control. Next, to further sublimate the possibilities by the pressure of higher and higher energies accessible to us. The body consciousness has first to be awakened out of its animal sleep and next opened to the spiritual influences from above. It would need again a twofold labour. A deconditioning of the body from many of the animal instincts, which hinder the full play of higher energies in us, is the first requirement. The next requirement is to link our thus purified physical consciousness with the spiritual existence above through an aspiration and surrender. In fact, all physical culture properly pursued, awakens physical consciousness, makes it subtler and less obscure, introducing into it a certain plasticity and control, thereby making it more receptive to higher influences.  Dancing is one such ‘exercise’ that reintegrates body, mind, life energy and even the higher consciousness.  Yogasanas also reintegrate body, mind and deeper levels of consciousness. It is no easy task and needs persistence and perseverance. What is of utmost importance however is not the fact of doing this or that exercise but rather adopting a certain attitude within us and a concentrated aspiration in the physical consciousness towards its own higher future. Key to Educating the Body The mind with its dogmas, its rigid and arbitrary principles, the vital with its passions, its excesses and dissipations soon destroy the natural balance of the body and create in it fatigue, exhaustion and disease. It must be freed from this tyranny and this can be done only through a constant union with the psychic centre of the being. The body has a wonderful capacity of adaptation and endurance. It is able to do so many more things than one usually imagines. If, instead of the ignorant and despotic masters that now govern it, it is ruled by the central truth of the being, you will be amazed at what it is capable of doing. Calm and quiet, strong and poised, at every minute it will be able to put forth the effort that is demanded of it, for it will have learnt to find rest in action and to recuperate, through contact with the universal forces, the energies it expends consciously and usefully. In this sound and balanced life a new harmony will manifest in the body, reflecting the harmony of the higher regions, which will give it perfect proportions and ideal beauty of form. And this harmony will be progressive, for the truth of the being is never static; it is a perpetual unfolding of a growing perfection that is more and more total and comprehensive. As soon as the body has learnt to follow this movement of progressive harmony, it will be possible for it to escape, through a continuous process of transformation, from the necessity of disintegration and destruction. – The Mother, On Education: ‘The Science of Living’ Evolutionary Transformation or Disintegrative Destruction This therefore is the real challenge before the human body and every body. The animal body faced this challenge in its earlier leap towards the human form. The human body faces the same challenge today leading to an upsurge in the many forms of illnesses. Seen outwardly these illnesses are threats to survival to be crushed out by powerful medicines that eliminate germs and toxins (and perhaps the body itself in the long run). We forget that animal life knew nothing of all this consciously and yet it overcame the challenges and evolved to a greater possibility of life. The same evolutionary force is once again active in the earth atmosphere calling us to exceed our human limitations. Disease is merely a shadow showing us where we stand in this process. It is an inability of the physical parts to respond with a sufficient plasticity to the evolutionary pressure, firstly due to inertia and secondly due to the long standing habit of response to forces of a lower order. Unfortunately much of our present culture continues to strengthen our animal instincts and thereby making things even more difficult for the body that obeys these extravagances of our vital life of night clubs and late parties with the docility of a tamed animal and an obedient slave. The only way it can make noise or make itself heard is through the agency of illness. But do we listen and make the corresponding change in our lifestyle that precipitated the illness in the first place? The final conquest would not be therefore in eliminating the outer causes of illnesses or our ability to contain them through powerful drugs. The real conquest would be to eliminate the inner causes of illnesses by a spontaneous immunity to every force of disease and disintegration. This demands an evolutionary transformation of the body itself without which we will only replace one illness with another, create one mutant strain of virus after another, substitute one powerful chemical by another, change one form of illness into another without really eliminating them. The inner reasons for physical deterioration and aging therefore are: (i) An inability of the body to follow, due mainly to its fixity the progressive movement of other parts of the being.  The body has learnt to obey the vital impulses (from its animal past) and thought-movements (in our human present).  It does not yet respond to the forces of the higher consciousness (the superconscience). There are yet no centres in the body to respond to the higher touches.  The superconscient is not yet organised in the body. In fact that is why traditionally, the body is required to be stilled so as to escape into a trance of superconscience. However the future body will be able to directly manifest the superconscience without resistance, in its waking, active state.  Governed by the truth above, it will be able to respond much more surely and effectively. (ii) A conditioning of the physical consciousness due to past programming. (iii) A secret necessity of life to have infinite experience on a finite basis can also be the cause of aging and death.  No form, however great and powerful, can provide this varied opportunity for infinite growth.  Therefore, death is used as a device to assume new and different forms under different psychological and physical conditions.  This cyclical return of growth through experience is the rationale for rebirth.  In effect, nothing dies – all returns and reconstitutes itself, so that one day each element can manifest the highest harmony.   Reprinted with permission from Dr. Alok Pandey’s book “Veda of the Body” Publications
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She Whom We Adore as the Mother

The Mother In Her Own Words I belong to no nation, no civilization, no society, no race, but to the Divine. I obey no master, no ruler, no law, no social convention, but the Divine. To Him I have surrendered all, will, life and self; for Him I am ready to give all my blood, drop by drop, if such is His Will, with complete joy; and nothing in His service can be sacrifice, for all is perfect delight. 15 August 1954 I want to mark this day by the expression of a long cherished wish; that of becoming an Indian citizen. From the first time I came to India — in 1914 — I felt that India is my true country, the country of my soul and spirit. I had decided to realise this wish as soon as India would be free. But I had to wait still longer because of my heavy responsibilities for the Ashram here in Pondicherry. Now the time has come when I can declare myself. But, in accordance with Sri Aurobindo’s ideal, my purpose is to show that truth lies in union rather than in division. To reject one nationality in order to obtain another is not an ideal solution. So I hope I shall be allowed to adopt a double nationality, that is to say, to remain French while I become an Indian. I am French by birth and early education, I am Indian by choice and predilection. In my consciousness there is no antagonism between the two, on the contrary, they combine very well and complete one another. I know also that I can be of service to both equally, for my only aim in life is to give a concrete form to Sri Aurobindo’s great teaching and in his teaching he reveals that all the nations are essentially one and meant to express the Divine Unity upon earth through an organised and harmonious diversity. My way of seeing is somewhat different. For my consciousness the whole life upon earth, including the human life and all its mentality, is a mass of vibrations, mostly vibrations of falsehood, ignorance and disorder, in which are more and more at work vibrations of Truth and Harmony coming from the higher regions and pushing their way through the resistance. In this vision the ego-sense and the individual assertion and separateness become quite unreal and illusory. When and how did I become conscious of a mission which I was to fulfill on earth? And when and how I met Sri Aurobindo? For the knowledge of the mission, it is difficult to say when it came to me. It is as though I were born with it, and following the growth of the mind and brain, the precision and completeness of this consciousness grew also. 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. This, along with a practical discipline for its fulfilment, was given to me during my body’s sleep by several teachers, some of whom I met afterwards on the physical plane. Later on, as the interior and exterior development proceeded, the spiritual and psychic relation with one of these beings became more and more clear and frequent; and although I knew little of the Indian philosophies and religions at that time I was led to call him Krishna, and henceforth I was aware that it was with him (whom I knew I should meet on earth one day) that the divine work was to be done. In the year 1910 my husband came alone to Pondicherry where, under very interesting and peculiar circumstances, he made the acquaintance of Sri Aurobindo. Since then we both strongly wished to return to India — the country which I had always cherished as my true mother-country. And in 1914 this joy was granted to us. As soon as I saw Sri Aurobindo I recognised in him the well-known being whom I used to call Krishna…. And this is enough to explain why I am fully convinced that my place and my work are near him, in India. Now remember one thing. Sri Aurobindo and myself are one and the same consciousness, one and the same person. Only, when this force or this presence, which is the same, passes through your individual consciousness, it puts on a form, an appearance which differs according to your temperament, your aspiration, your need, the particular turn of your being. Your individual consciousness is like a filter, a pointer, if I may say so; it makes a choice and fixes one possibility out of the infinity of divine possibilities.   The Mother In Sri Aurobindo’s Words There is one divine Force which acts in the universe and in the individual and is also beyond the individual and the universe. The Mother stands for all these, but she is working here in the body to bring down something not yet expressed in this material world so as to transform life here — it is so that you should regard her as the Divine Shakti working here for that purpose. She is that in the body, but in her whole consciousness she is also identified with all the other aspects of the Divine. The Mother not only governs all from above but she descends into this lesser triple universe. Impersonally, all things here, even the movements of the Ignorance, are herself in veiled power and her creations in diminished substance, her Nature-body and Nature-force, and they exist because, moved by the mysterious fiat of the Supreme to work out something that was there in the possibilities of the Infinite, she has consented to the great sacrifice and has put on like a mask the soul and forms of the Ignorance. But personally too she has stooped to descend here into the Darkness that she may lead it to the Light, into the Falsehood and Error that she may convert it to Truth, into this Death that she may turn it to godlike Life, into this world-pain and its obstinate sorrow and suffering that she may end it in the transforming ecstasy of her sublime Ananda. In her deep and great love for her children she has consented to put on herself the cloak of this obscurity, condescended to bear the attacks and torturing influences of the powers of the Darkness and the Falsehood, borne to pass through the portals of the birth that is a death, taken upon herself the pangs and sorrows and sufferings of the creation, since it seemed that thus alone could it be lifted to the Light and Joy and Truth and eternal Life. This is the great sacrifice called sometimes the sacrifice of the Purusha, but much more deeply the holocaust of the Prakriti, the sacrifice of the Divine Mother. The Mother’s consciousness is the divine Consciousness and the Light that comes from it is the light of the divine Truth; the Force that she brings down is the force of the divine Truth. One who receives and accepts and lives in the Mother’s light, will begin to see the truth on all the planes, the mental, the vital, the physical. He will reject all that is undivine; the undivine is the falsehood, the ignorance, the error of the dark forces; the undivine is all that is obscure and unwilling to accept the divine Truth and its light and force. The undivine, therefore, is all that is unwilling to accept the light and force of the Mother. What people mean by the formless svarupa of the Mother, — they mean usually her universal aspect. It is when she is experienced as a universal Existence and Power spread through the universe in which and by which all live. When one feels that Presence one begins to feel a universal peace, light, power, bliss without limits — that is her svarupa. One meets this more often by rising in consciousness above the head where one is liberated from this limited body consciousness and feels oneself also as something wide, calm, one self with all beings — free from passion and disturbance in an eternal peace. But it can be felt through the heart also — then the heart too feels itself wide as the world, pure and blissful, filled with the Mother’s presence. There is also the Mother’s personal and individual presence in the heart which brings immediately love and bhakti and the sense of a close intimacy and personal oneness.  The Gita does not speak expressly of the Divine Mother; it speaks always of surrender to the Purushottama — it mentions her only as the Para Prakriti who becomes the Jiva, i.e., who manifests the Divine in the multiplicity and through whom all these worlds are created by the Supreme and he himself descends as the Avatar. The Gita follows the Vedantic tradition which leans entirely on the Ishwara aspect of the Divine and speaks little of the Divine Mother because its object is to draw back from world-nature and arrive at the supreme realisation beyond it; the Tantrik tradition leans on the Shakti or Ishwari aspect and makes all depend on the Divine Mother, because its object is to possess and dominate the world-nature and arrive at the supreme realisation through it. This Yoga insists on both the aspects; the surrender to the Divine Mother is essential, for without it there is no fulfilment of the object of the Yoga. In regard to the Purushottama the Divine Mother is the supreme divine Consciousness and Power above the worlds, Adya Shakti; she carries the Supreme in herself and manifests the Divine in the worlds through the Akshara and the Kshara. In regard to the Akshara she is the same Para Shakti holding the Purusha immobile in herself and also herself immobile in him at the back of all creation. In regard to the Kshara she is the mobile cosmic Energy manifesting all beings and forces.  It is a matter of realisation. In the yoga of the Gita the cosmic Divine is realised as Vasudeva (Krishna). The Vaishnavas realise it as Vishnu, the Shaivas as Shiva. The Tantrics (Shaktas) realise the Devi (Goddess) as the Cosmic and even as the Transcendent Divine. It is the Divine who is the Master — the Self is inactive, it is always a silent wideness supporting all things — that is the static aspect. There is also the dynamic aspect through which the Divine works — behind that is the Mother. You must not lose sight of that, that it is through the Mother that all things are attained.  You are seeking for Self-realisation — but what is that Self if not the Mother’s self? There is no other. 21st February is the Mother’s birthday. 
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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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At the Feet of the Mother
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At the Feet of the Mother

There are two statements, which I hear from many of my friends in the ashram, around here and many places. “We are all doing the Mother’s work”, this one statement I hear very often. The second is, “The Mother will do everything.” And I tell you, with both the statements, I fully disagree.  There was one disciple who wrote a letter to the Mother, I had taken it to the Mother. It said “Mother, I’m traveling all over India to do the Mother’s work”. So the Mother told me, “You cannot do the Mother’s work, you tell him. You first of all aspire to offer; secondly, you begin to offer your work to the Mother; don’t say I am doing the Mother’s work”.   It is at a very high level, when you reach a kind of union with the Divine’s will and the Divine’s will manifests through your consciousness, when you receive the rays of the Mother’s work straight coming from above, transmitted to you, and when you are simply moved, then you can say, perhaps, if you at all want to say, if you still remain you, — that you are doing the Mother’s work.   Similarly the statement, “The Mother will do everything”, It is also a great statement. I don’t want to discourage anybody when people say “The Mother will do everything”. But Sri Aurobindo himself has written very clearly, that this is very connected to being “at the feet of the Mother”. If you should think that the Divine will do everything, you remain what you are; do not be deceived. This is a big illusion; inert passivity is the one thing which has to be exiled if you really want to be “at the feet of the Mother”.  Sri Aurobindo, while speaking of the threefold labor of personal effort — the aspiration, rejection and surrender — even the word surrender is used by Sri Aurobindo for personal effort. It requires personal effort to surrender. It is only when personal effort comes at a very high level, high intensity, that a real submission begins to take place.  Sri Aurobindo has put down three great conditions to arrive at that condition; it is a condition of glad and strong submission, an obedience of an illumined disciple of truth; secondly, an inner warrior who fights against obscurity and falsehood; and thirdly, a faithful servant of the Divine. When these three things are combined together then we can say we are now approaching what is called “the submission and the surrender to the Divine”. It is when that surrender becomes perfect that you can truthfully say “The Mother will do everything”.  To be “at the feet of the Mother”, according to me, is a long process of sadhana, which requires tremendous effort at getting illumination of the mind, and that illumination speaks all the time of truth and truth and truth and nothing but the truth; and to be a courageous hero and a warrior who fights against obscurity and falsehood. It is a tremendously difficult task to be a servant, and a faithful servant, and that also of the Divine. These three conditions put together, when they can be combined, then only one can say that one is fit to be “at the feet of the Divine Mother”.    Excerpted from a talk given at the Gnostic Centre, New Delhi in 2007.  A few sentences have been slightly altered for clarity of meaning. For the full talk  
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Pseudologia Fantastica
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Pseudologia Fantastica

“It is true, O Rama, that the study of the scriptures is not the cause for the attainment of self-knowledge. Scriptures are composed of diverse expressions; the supreme being is indescribable” explained Rishi Vashisht to Shri Ram, as the 16-year-old seeker sat at his Guru’s feet for his journey to enlightenment. The Guru then goes on to say that the realization of Brahman is beyond description. That is why it cannot be found in the teachings of scriptures. However, he says that the precepts of scriptures and their practice create conditions for a sattvic or pure mind, which Rishi Vashist still calls “sattvika part of ignorance.” Sattvik is the purity of mind, but within the realm of spiritual ignorance nevertheless. Tamasik is the dull part of ignorance. Sattvik destroys that. In that action of moving from the dull side of ignorance to ignorance harbored by a pure mind, one is readied to move on to the spiritual path. A path that will eventually take one to the complete realization. A spiritual path in the Dharmic traditions, therefore, has always been more than just scriptures. For scriptures have a limitation – the curse of interpretation. By the mind that reads it. You see, no book is ever greater than the reader. The reader’s interpretation is what any writer’s work becomes. What Shri Ram attained to in his life was far beyond scriptures. His name, his energy, and his life left an imprint on the ether and the planet that we breathe in and walk upon. His presence, if tapped into, has the ability to transform life energies. When Nanak sang “टेक एक रघुनाथ” (Ram is the only support) that was exactly the dimension that he was referring to. The world of today is being interpreted by minds that are not just ignorant. But vile. They have no remorse nor guilt. They will readily fabricate lies backed by their own conscience. Or so they think. It is up to each one of us to seek the truth. At least intensify the effort to do so. Wading through the murky waters of falsehoods.   Curated from दृष्टिकोण’s Newsletter Original article here
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Republic Day Violence
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Republic Day Violence

“We have to make it unequivocally clear that public ways and public spaces cannot be occupied in such a manner and that too indefinitely. Democracy and dissent go hand in hand, but then the demonstrations expressing dissent have to be in designated places alone. The present case was not even one of protests taking place in an undesignated area, but was a blockage of a public way which caused grave inconvenience to commuters. We cannot accept the plea of the applicants that an indeterminable number of people can assemble whenever they choose to protest.” This is not some kind of peroration from me, but merely an extract from the Supreme Court judgment on the Shaheen Bagh disruptions. Directing that the protests must be held only in designated places, the court further said, “We have, thus, no hesitation in concluding that such kind of occupation of public ways, whether at the site in question or anywhere else for protests is not acceptable and the administration ought to take action to keep the areas clear of encroachments or obstructions.” The ugly violence that erupted in Delhi on Tuesday merits not just condemnation of the hooligans masquerading as farmers, but also of the failure of all the four pillars of democracy–legislature, executive, judiciary, and media. Democracies are under siege everywhere as the radicals march forward to subvert them by using their strengths, free speech and free assembly. I am not surprised as I have been talking about American community organizer Saul Alinsky’s ‘Rules for Radicals’ on my talk show quite regularly. These are: 1. “Power is not only what you have but what the enemy thinks you have.” 2. “Never go outside the expertise of your people.” 3. “Whenever possible go outside the expertise of the enemy.” 4. “Make the enemy live up to its own book of rules.” 5. “Ridicule is man’s most potent weapon. There is no defense. It is almost impossible to counterattack ridicule. Also it infuriates the opposition, who then react to your advantage.” 6. “A good tactic is one your people enjoy.” 7. “A tactic that drags on too long becomes a drag.” 8. “Keep the pressure on.” 9. “The threat is usually more terrifying than the thing itself.” 10. “The major premise for tactics is the development of operations that will maintain a constant pressure upon the opposition.” 11. “If you push a negative hard and deep enough it will break through into its counterside; this is based on the principle that every positive has its negative.” 12. “The price of a successful attack is a constructive alternative.” 13. “Pick the target, freeze it, personalize it, and polarize it.” Add to this, the well-rehearsed Communist theory of 4-stage takeover of other States, used so artfully in many countries by the Soviet Union, through demoralization, destabilization, creation of crisis, and normalization after takeover (euphemism for finishing class enemies and collaborators, and also free speech and rights). Go back and trace the pattern woven by the cabal of the so-called progressives–the Mulla, the Missionary, the Marxist, the Media, and Macaulay’s children (the anglophile elite), and you can see the play of these strategies and tactics to bring down not just the government, but also the entire democratic structure. The English-speaking elite, that deracinated class that know little about the country’s past, its culture, its traditions, and even lesser about its people, gets drawn into spinning romantic tales to further undermine the integrity of the country. The summum bonum of my assertion is that a routine condemnation of the Republic Day violence by anti-nationals masquerading as farmers serves little purpose unless we are willing to go behind the causes. The farm laws were merely the smokescreen behind which the larger machinations were being played out. The Congress, as usual, is clueless, but the Aam Aadmi Party is really the diabolical force that understands these concepts and has been supporting one anarchical movement after the other. The farm laws are the proverbial red herring in this scheme. We know that at least 95 per cent farmers are firmly behind the laws. The group that is affected by these laws is the big landlord, middlemen and the drug mafia nexus. If it were not the farm laws, there would be some other excuse for creating similar anarchy. Look at the leadership involved in the agitation, from Hannan Mollah to Gurvinder Singh, and Gurnam Chaduni, and you can figure out that this is going to be a regular affair. People tasked with the governance of the country must get hold of this narrative and devise counters, otherwise we will see frequent repeats with increasing ferocity. Remember, there can be no victory without winning the narrative.   Original article  Reprinted with permission of the author from https://www.news18.com
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Khalsa and India
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Khalsa and India

Identity establishes the attachment for survival. If you identify with something, anything for that matter, its loss will define your existence. In your mind. One, who is free and liberated has no time or need for that. Protection can never be of a person, for that which is sure to die can never be saved, even by the Divine. Aspiration can only be to dissolve what is divine into the Divine in every perceptible way. Mata Gujri and her two grandsons had died in the custody of Wazir Khan – who was pursuing and attacking Guru Gobind Singh’s panthis. At that time, the Guru turned to his Guru, the Formless, Stainless and Self-reliant. Primal, Blemishless, Endless, and Birthless. That which was the manifestation as Brahm, Vishnu, and also Shiva, the Adi Yogi. To understand the panth of the Khalsa, one needs to understand its architect. The Khalsa and India – how the path was formed The foundation of Khalsa Panth, not religion, was laid down by Guru Gobind Singh. Not because it was a new way to be, but because it was the need of the hour. Many Spiritual Masters have understood the contemporary situations with clarity that only unencumbered beings can. Clearing out the nonsense, they can see what is needed. When Guru Gobind Singh’s family – his father, his kids, his mother – and his colleagues had been tortured and killed by Aurangzeb’s associates and generals, he was praying to the one eternal consciousness and divinity. In his powerful poem titled Benti Chaupaee, he calls out the enemy and what he would prefer happened to those inimical forces. ਦੁਸ਼ਟ ਜਿਤੇ ਉਠਵਤ ਉਤਪਾਤਾ ॥ ਸਕਲ ਮਲੇਛ ਕਰੋ ਰਣ ਘਾਤਾ ॥੩੯੬dusht jitai uthvat utpata skal mlaich kro run ghataदुष्ट जीतइ उठवत उत्पाता सकल मलेछ करो रन घाता The evildoers who arise to create destruction, kill all those Mlechh (Islamic invaders*) in the battle. *Mlechh was the Sanskrit word used for foreign invaders, specifically those who did not follow Dharma. Not as in a religion, but in its social and spiritual construct. Rules of wars being one component. This word was used for the Greek invaders in earlier times and later in Guru Gobind Singh’s time it was used for the Islamic Invaders. He was asking for strength from the Supreme Eternal consciousness, also known as Hiranyagarbha in most scriptures, for the destruction of अधर्म – Adharma. Entities that did not follow the rules and laws which align with the one eternal being. The reason for creating the panth – which essentially means a path and not religion – was to raise a group of co-travelers on the difficult but necessary journey that he had undertaken. Gurus, you see, are not doing things for others or for a frivolous exhibition. They do what is needed for those times as their offering to life and the life-force that pervades the existence. It is needed so they do. For, think about it – what needs of others or even yours are important enough to give away the lives of your kids and mother after your father has been publicly tortured and beheaded? That which is temporary – body – cannot be protected. To ask for help for that – his mother or his kids – was a waste of time for the Guru. What he was raising his voice for was for the life force to align against that which was the source of destruction. The disgust for Mlechhas came from that understanding. The co-travelers who laid the foundation of the पंथ that Guru Gobind Singh set out to create were not chosen by him at all. When he asked for five people who could give their lives for the पंथ as he took them inside the tent one by one, emerging every time with blood on his sword, he was sharing the intensity that his band of co-travelers had to possess. When Bhai Daya Ram from Lahore went in, he could do so when the love and trust in the integrity and the purity of his Guru’s way was greater than his own need for survival. His walk up to his Guru was a walk away from survival. To a step into eternity. When his Guru was greater than his own physical existence. Similarly, Bhai Dharam Das from Hastinapur (Meerut), UP and Bhai Himmat Singh from Puri, Odisha and Bhai Mohkam Singh from Dwarka, Gujarat and finally Bhai Sahib Singh from Bidar, Karnataka walked up, as the certainty of their physical end and birth into eternal path became crystal clear. Not everyone took those steps. Only five did that day. The test – give up the need for the physical temporary existence and align with the eternal. The Khalsa – खालसा पंथ – or the path to the pure and eternal. Except one, none of those who held Guru Gobind Singh higher than every possible security in life was from Punjab. One spoke Brij bhaasha, one Oriya, one Gujarati, and the final one Kannada. That is what made the first set of co-travelers of Guru Gobind Singh. Singh is not born. Singh is one who holds the eternal dharma higher than even his death. Birth is not what defines a Khalsa, his intensity for dharma does. For, that goes beyond death. What started the first band of travelers on the Khalsa Panth was not allegiance or narrow relationship to Punjab or Punjabiyat, but the intensity to give up all for the lofty work of the Guru. If the Sikhs, who imagine Khalistan as their goal and some synthetic concept of Sikhi as their ideal, and trample on the concept of India as the way to establish their allegiance, think they have anything to do with Guru Gobind Singh or his path, they can’t be more dishonest. In fact, they are doing the most spectacular job of trampling on the very being of Guru Gobind Singh. Just as Adi Shankara established the four centers of Dharma in the four corners of this land called India, Guru Gobind Singh established his path with the induction of four amazing beings also from the four corners of India. The Guru who was born in Patna and left his physical existence in Nanded, Maharashtra had as much importance for an establishment linked to Punjab as his life’s work did for that piece of land.   With gratitude to दृष्टिकोण’s Newsletter Original Article Here
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Health – The Spiritual Perspective
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Health – The Spiritual Perspective

Introduction The recognition of a spiritual dimension of health by the World Health Organization (WHO) has indeed been a landmark event. It is doubtful, however, that the full import and significance of this fundamental aspect of human existence has been grasped even by well-intentioned persons.  The reason is very simple. The spiritual dimension is still a concealed possibility in the race as a whole. Even though its emergence is the inevitable next step in Nature’s scheme of things; yet it is a slow emergence. There have been individuals no doubt, who have experienced a greater spiritual consciousness. It is also true that such individuals have cut across the barriers of race and gender, language and culture. Yet for the majority of humankind, the spiritual dimension still remains a possibility which many do not care to explore. Most of us confuse it with philosophy, religion, morality and occultism. While these four approaches can prepare man and even throw open a window to the spiritual truth, in themselves they are insufficient to solve the riddle of man and conquer for him freedom from suffering, limitation, death, disease and incapacity. Philosophy, religion and ethics prepare man’s thoughts, emotions and will for an awakening to the true spiritual impulse. Occultism explores the inner hidden dimension of existence and its forces and powers and faculties. All of these however miss the deepest truth.  At best they throw some reflection or hint and thereby act as a preparatory catalyst. At worst they distract and confuse us by offering an imitation in lieu of the real spiritual truth. Defining the Indefinable The first need is therefore to get rid of this misconception of confusing the spiritual dimension with philosophy, religious values, ethical morality and even occultism. When we thus get rid of these elementary misconceptions and understand the spiritual reality by self-identification, we discover that there is a unity of experience that cuts across the barriers of time and space. The real figure is seen only if we sound the depths ourselves and try to fathom the vastness that hides behind the human persona of those who have truly experienced and lived a spiritual life. Since such men have been few and scattered (though always present), it is doubtful if the statistical approach of interviewing the average or even an above average intellectual can help us understand this dimension better. Such a process may even be counterproductive by diluting or, worse still, falsifying or replacing the real thing by an imitative mimicry. “The spirit is other than the mind” affirm the seers. It is unity and oneness while the mind is duality and division.  It is peace and bliss while the mind dwells in pain, pleasure and indifference. It is harmony and truth while the mind fumbles through error and ignorance. It is easy to understand from this that the spiritual dimension defies any simple definition. In fact, the spiritual reality does not necessarily need a language to communicate itself. Rather, it is best communicated and understood in the silence and stillness of our being. This inability to define and describe the spiritual reality is not any limitation as many suppose. It stems because firstly speech itself is a lesser term and faculty. Secondly, since it belongs still to the mental domain in its manifestation, it evokes different meanings and images in different human beings. To obviate this dual difficulty, we can attempt to define the spiritual dimension as the highest perfection man is capable of through self-evolution. This too, however, runs the risk of contamination by the mind which constantly confuses the human ideas of perfection with a spiritual one. Human perfection is a quantitative thing. It is the development of human capacities to their utmost pitch. Spiritual perfection is however a qualitative thing. It is the emergence of new faculties and capacities better and superior to what the human mind can at present imagine. For example, the Sanskrit word for health –  ‘Swasth’ – literally means “rooted in the (true) self”. That is to say, true health exists only when man’s consciousness is firmly fixed in the spiritual self, the ‘sva’. Short of it, there can be absence of disease ‘Arogya‘ or, physical prowess and fitness ‘bala’ but not health. As Dr Bisht rightly pointed out in his recommendation to the WHO that “a pack of wolves are physically strong, mentally alert and socially well-knit but there is something more in man which marks him apart“. And that ‘something more’ in him is not just the maximum development of his mind through education and learning but the wisdom and power of his soul. Spirit and Body: A False Opposition We have also to understand spirituality not as an escapist-illusionist tendency but the awareness of a fundamental spiritual Reality behind every form and name. This is supported by the experience that it is the spirit that has become all beings and things including matter. This is well reflected in the evolutionary Indian parable of the ‘Dasavatara’ where the incarnation of the One Divine becomes the fish, the tortoise, the boar, the half-animal, half-man etc., through evolution to a perfect mental man. The missing link in our evolutionary journey may not be the Archaeopteryx but the mediatrix Consciousness that runs as a common thread through all phenomena. The story of evolution is still a half-told tale. The adventure of the Spirit upon earth is not yet over. It will continue till Nature evolves a body capable of manifesting the Perfect Consciousness. Unless we grasp this, we will continue the mistake of regarding the spiritual dimension not only as a separate but also an exclusive dimension that exists in isolation without any hold upon the creature that inhabits it. If that is so then all hope of spiritual health remains a chimera and the great utterance of the spiritual dimension of health becomes only an idealistic doctrine. The spiritual dimension includes the material and can and does intervene subtly to alter the laws and processes of the material universe and to change the course decreed by the so called purely material and biological forces. Measuring the Immeasurable If defining spiritual reality is difficult, studying its complex effects is even more difficult. Statistics are useful for recording phenomena. The present scientific methods and equipments register gross events. To pursue and discover subtler truths and spiritual laws we have to follow another method whose usefulness has been verified since ancient times. Firstly, we need to trust the word of those who have awakened the spiritual consciousness in themselves. Secondly, we must begin to observe ourselves and the movements of subtler levels in us.  The effects of those subtle movements escape conventional data collection since most of us are not conscious of these subjective psychological events. ‘We are asleep there’, to use an Upanishadic image.  The scientist must first and foremost make himself the field of his observation and record his experiences.  Such cumulative records over a period of time would be very helpful for all who wish to explore this dimension. But simultaneously we should avoid the rash attempt to codify too rigidly the experiences.  Our mind always likes to formulate laws but the spiritual field being very subtle and plastic escapes the rigidities of human logic.  Thus, if in a certain state of consciousness, say ‘peace’, the patient recovers faster or is even cured of an acute emergency like a heart attack or appendicitis, we can truthfully record it. We can equally record the effect of negative emotions on health and disease. But we should not rush to reduce it into a system.  Peace for example may not always cure.  It may not always be readily accessible either. But even though not reproducible, a single event of ‘cure by peace’ is significant and opens doors of enormous possibilities for those who can and will. The Law of Averages The method of studying, analysing and understanding physical phenomena has its great utility in the physical domain.  The accuracy and predictability are somewhat more reliable here because in gross matter, there is not the free play of other subtler domains.  But to extrapolate the same method mechanically in the spiritual domain may lead to gross errors. The reasons are threefold. Firstly, our equipments are not yet geared to register and record subtler energy impacts.  However in these we can find the presence of the anomalous and the unpredictable.  As all practitioners of medicine know, medicine is not an exact science like mathematics. Secondly, there is a whole range of phenomena which are subjective and cannot be measured. And yet these may be quite crucial in matters of health and healing. For instance, peace and faith are two such non-measurable units that do determine our state of health. Thirdly, and most importantly, scientific methods deal with phenomena.  But as spiritual experience constantly affirms, behind the phenomena of name and form there is a supporting and sanctioning consciousness and force.  It is difficult to envisage how we could possibly measure the quantum of spiritual consciousness and force in units of grams or kilograms or god-knows-what, that goes into healing a malady. Even where a method is used, there is always the secret force and consciousness that makes all the difference. The force can use one particular method or another.  It may even dispense with all methods and techniques. A given method is after all only one condition of spiritual awakening. Just as clouds and lightning are one condition for the emergence of electricity.  Besides, the force and power of electricity exist as principles even if we have not discovered the method to tap them and likewise, spiritual force and power are a latent possibility in every human being. They can be awakened and brought to the fore by a number of methods. The method is however only an excuse for the emergence.  The real essence escapes the technique. When human evolution reaches a certain crucial and critical inner point the pressure of the spiritual consciousness bursts the limited bounds of our ego and we emerge in a larger and freer consciousness. Spirituality is essentially this change of consciousness from the human to that which is greater than man and beyond him. The Truth that Escapes Us It is a fact that human consciousness is not the highest and man not the last word of creation. Man is a transitional being to be surpassed by a more perfect being. Till that new step in evolution happens, man’s life will be riddled with death, his efforts at outer conquest marred with inner defeats, his glorious successes sum up into specious failure. Man’s commerce with life and forces around him will remain precarious at his own level of evolution. Even at best, he may arrive at a healthy equilibrium with his environment as a pack of wolves or a species of plants.  But Nature would not allow this. It is thus that disease, death and infirmity pursue man. All stress and strain that besieges this race is in essence a call to evolve. All crisis is a challenge and stimulus to growth and liberation. All pain and suffering is Nature’s hint and reminder that the joy we experience is imperfect and the power we command is yet a narrow and limited one. Each limitation we experience is a pointer towards our own incomprehension and ignorance.  To remove this stamp of death and seal of suffering, we must remove ignorance and divinise this dust that wakes to life in plant and climbs to thought in man. This is the inner significance of disease and illness as seen from a spiritual consciousness. The Central Disease The central root of our difficulty lies mainly in our sense of separateness and its attendant problems of want, greed, lust and desire. It is this that translates itself physically and psychologically as self and not-self. The sense of ‘not-self’ leads to effort for adaptation as well as imbalances of various kinds at physical, vital and mental levels leading to disease and death. Our true identity is neither physical nor psychological but a spiritual one. And this spiritual individuality is not opposed to other spiritual individualities but is conterminous with a sense of universality and oneness. It widens us and by widening liberates us from suffering and makes us more capable of receiving the peace and bliss that heal our maladies of body and mind. For spiritual health to emerge we have to dissolve the false sense of ego-self and replace it by the true “I”, the soul in us. The emergence brings, as testified by all who have had the contact, its attendant effects of peace and fullness and joy, and openness towards truth and harmony and light, a freedom from the stress and strain of want and desire. This spiritual change has a positive effect on our entire constitution bringing health and fitness in the body, quietude and goodwill in the vital, clarity of understanding, generosity and broadness as well as balance in the mind. Overall it results in progress and harmony and a general sense of well-being, security and satisfaction. The effects are there so long as the contact remains. But it is difficult for most of us to retain a constant contact. The old person that we are comes back to the surface with all its habits, conditioning and unhealthy preoccupations and preferences. The peace is replaced by restlessness, clarity by confusion, generosity and goodwill by narrowness and bigotry, and health by want of balance and illness. These periods of light and darkness alternate till the spiritual element is fully freed in us and once purified of all egoism it sets the other parts of our nature to its own harmonious rhythm.  The spiritual self holds the key to release the forces of progressive harmony and health in us.  Under the stress of the soul the human consciousness begins to grow deeper, wider and higher. All our values of understanding, sensing, feeling and living start undergoing a marked qualitative change which is superior to the mere philosophising idealism, ethical and moral piety, emotional fervour and exalted sentimentalism. The mind opens to intuition, illumination, visionary revelation and prophetic inspiration. The heart opens to a deep, pure and calm capacity to love without possessiveness and turbulent attachment.  The life-force and will, bereft of the heaving disturbance of desire, becomes a dynamo for selfless Divine work in the world. Even the body shares the spiritual touch which translates itself in terms of calm and balance, trust and an absence of fear, things that help us immensely in healthy living and even cure us of disease.  Yet this is not enough. More is needed. A greater perfection can emerge by the total transformation of nature wherein an immunity from all types of diseases is possible, not just for a few exceptional individuals, but as a potentiality for the entire race. Search versus Research How are we going to do that?  By research or by search, by convincing statistical proofs or by living example?  This is a question everyone has to answer for oneself.  However, history shows that one example in this regard is far more convincing than a whole mass of data and statistics. Data and statistical analysis reach out only to a small section of the human mind — the scientific one.  Often, it only helps to convince the already convinced. The sceptic continues to disbelieve, for such is the nature of mind that it can interpret the same truth differently, and by a subtle twist of logic and change of premises arrive at totally different and even opposite conclusions.  But example touches much deeper and has a wider range of action. It is like fire. Talking about fire can ignite only curiosity but actual contact with it can light up a similar fire and convince one of the mass of heat and light that fire is.  One such living fire is of far greater value than a whole pile of figures that often gather dust in our libraries. Thus it is the pressure of the spirit that wakes up the sleeping soul of man. There are no other means for it. A Practical Programme for the Future How are we going to implement all this in our collective health programmes? This is not a simple question and perhaps there are no easy answers. A few approaches can however help us integrate the spiritual dimension with the others.  Here are some suggestions: Subjective psychological experiences like peace, joy, faith, etc. should be included in our research designs. So far, scientific studies have largely ignored personality factors of the patient and therapist in health and illness. These need to be included.There is a need for health education programmes creating greater awareness about the role of our psychological states in health and illness. This awareness needs to reach both physicians and health educators as well as their clientele.From a scientific point of view it may be better to approach the spiritual dimension through a better understanding of our subjective psychological states than through an understanding of religion. Psychological states are universal whereas religions have become a source of misunderstanding, confusion and division rather than being one of the means of arriving at higher states of consciousness.At least, a minimum stress should be put in our medical education curriculum on the spiritual aspects of human existence. This can be done by inviting guest speakers to give lectures or perhaps going on experiential tours for a couple of weeks to places which carry a spiritual atmosphere.Medical training should include knowledge of self-help techniques that would help physicians develop greater calm and confidence. They can in turn extend and apply it to patients. Many such methods for self-development and self-mastery exist but need implementation.Individuals and institutions with expertise in the field of self-mastery and self-growth and willing to help impart the necessary knowledge and skills to selected workers can be identified. These trained workers can then serve as a link between the community and the public health system.A serious and sincere study of the psychic sciences and their interface with other aspects of our biology and psychology needs to be undertaken. So far, mainstream science has only maintained distance, seeing it with a sceptic’s eye and denying it even before exploration.Above all, a paradigm shift is needed about our concept of man himself. One could work towards this end by inviting more constructive debates amongst leading men in each field, who feel the necessity to go beyond the present notion of man and life. These alternative views need to be publicised and presented to the health workers. At present they are made aware (as if almost deliberately) only about the physical side of man even though enough data and material already exist to show that man is not just a biological organism but something more.An open minded study of ‘consciousness’ and ‘self-experience’ will be of great help. The study and corresponding literature and publications could be funded through world bodies dealing with health and education, like the WHO and UNESCO. The persons identified to study this must be those having a reasonably good understanding about these aspects.We have to understand that even a highly qualified person with good standing in his specialised field may know next to nothing about ‘consciousness’ and ‘spirituality’. His opinion carries little or no meaning. On the contrary, there are specialists in ‘consciousness’ and ‘spirituality’ just as in other fields.  It is on these that initially the responsibility for a deeper exploration of the spiritual dimension must rest.Finally, serious efforts should be made to study the psychological evolution of the human race, especially as it is happening now. The key to the spiritual dimension may well be found there. Conclusion The task therefore before us as physicians is not just the relief of symptoms but to seek deeper into the layers of our psychology where the roots of health and illness lie.  The illness is a crisis point which leads us, as if by Nature’s irony, to the doors of our own concealed possibilities.  We suppress one form of illness but another returns.  It is so because we have failed to take note of the hint and refused to learn from the wisdom of Mother Nature. We can avoid this responsibility of learning what Nature intends to teach, only at our own peril. We can ignore the lesson and the leading, only to face the threat of extinction. But if we are to not only survive but progress and evolve beyond our religions and ideological cults, then we must open the doors to this greater and vaster spiritual consciousness and allow its influx in us. It is in this spiritual emergence that lies our hope and future as a race. The spiritual dimension holds the key to the enigma called ‘man’ and the solution to the paradox called ‘life’.   Reprinted with permission from Dr. Alok Pandey Publications
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But I Had To Accept Her At Last!
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But I Had To Accept Her At Last!

How I used to hate Kali! And all Her ways! That was the ground of my six years’ fight — that I would not accept Her. But I had to accept Her at last! Ramakrishna Paramahamsa dedicated me to Her, and now I believe that She guides me in every little thing I do, and does with me what She will. Yet I fought so long! I loved him, you see, and that was what held me. I saw his marvelous purity. I felt his wonderful love. His greatness had not dawned on me then. All that came afterwards, when I had given in. At that time I thought him a brainsick baby, always seeing visions and the rest. I hated it. And then I too had to accept Her! No, the thing that made me do it is a secret that will die with me. I had great misfortunes at that time… It was an opportunity… She made a slave of me. Those were the very words — “a slave of me.” And Ramakrishna Paramahamsa made me over to Her. Strange! He lived only two years after doing that, and most of the time he was suffering. Not more than six months did he keep his own health and brightness. Guru Nanak was like that, you know, looking for the one disciple to whom he would give his power. And he passed over all his own family — his children were as nothing to him — till he came upon the boy to whom he gave it, and then he could die. The future, you say, will call Ramakrishna Paramahamsa an Incarnation of Kali? Yes, I think there’s no doubt that She worked up the body of Ramakrishna for Her own ends. You see, I cannot but believe that there is somewhere a great Power that thinks of Herself as feminine, and called Kali, and Mother.   Excerpted from The Complete Works of Sister Nivedita Sister Nivedita
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The Hour of God
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The Hour of God

There are moments when the Spirit moves among men and the breath of the Lord is abroad upon the waters of our being; there are others when it retires and men are left to act in the strength or the weakness of their own egoism. The first are the periods when even a little effort produces great results and changes destiny; the second are spaces of time when much labour goes to the making of a little result. It is true that the latter may prepare the former, may be the little smoke of sacrifice going up to heaven which calls down the rain of God’s bounty. Unhappy is the man or the nation which, when the divine moment arrives, is found sleeping or unprepared to use it, because the lamp has not been kept trimmed for the welcome and the ears are sealed to the call. But thrice woe to them who are strong and ready, yet waste the force or misuse the moment; for them is irreparable loss or a great destruction. In the hour of God cleanse thy soul of all self-deceit and hypocrisy and vain self-flattering that thou mayst look straight into thy spirit and hear that which summons it. All insincerity of nature, once thy defence against the eye of the Master and the light of the ideal, becomes now a gap in thy armour and invites the blow. Even if thou conquer for the moment, it is the worse for thee, for the blow shall come afterwards and cast thee down in the midst of thy triumph. But being pure cast aside all fear; for the hour is often terrible, a fire and a whirlwind and a tempest, a treading of the winepress of the wrath of God; but he who can stand up in it on the truth of his purpose is he who shall stand; even though he fall, he shall rise again; even though he seem to pass on the wings of the wind, he shall return. Nor let worldly prudence whisper too closely in thy ear; for it is the hour of the unexpected, the incalculable, the immeasurable. Mete not the power of the Breath by thy petty instruments, but trust and go forward. But most keep thy soul clear, even if for a while, of the clamour of the ego. Then shall a fire march before thee in the night and the storm be thy helper and thy flag shall wave on the highest height of the greatness that was to be conquered. Sri Aurobindo (in “The Hour of God”, Section One)
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The Unfinished Agenda of Spirituality
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The Unfinished Agenda of Spirituality

I wish to discuss here a new spirituality, a spirituality which has discarded its old limitations and inhibitions but still draws on its ancient roots and whose aim is the perfection of human life on earth. Sri Aurobindo and his collaborator the Mother were the pioneers of this new spirituality. They have been, in my opinion, the greatest revolutionaries in the spiritual annals of mankind. The intellectual elite in many parts of the world have already taken note of their contribution. The time has surely come for us as Indians to throw away the coloured glasses of our inherited and borrowed prejudices and to make an honest attempt to understand what they have been saying. The world is preparing for a great change; and Sri Aurobindo and the Mother are our safest guides to this new world. My own discovery of Sri Aurobindo took place when as a university student I chanced upon a statement of his which read: “Heaven we have possessed, but not the earth; but the fullness of the Yoga is to make, in the formula of the Veda, ‘Heaven and Earth equal and one’.” The word ‘heaven’ is used here to symbolise perfection and this goal of achieving perfection of life here on earth has always appealed to me. Later, I came across a more definitive statement from him on his commitment to this goal: “I am concerned with the earth, not with worlds beyond for their own sake; it is a terrestrial realisation that I seek and not a flight to distant summits.” (Sri Aurobindo: On Himself) This emphasis on bringing perfection to life on earth and this preoccupation with this world, would be regarded by many as ‘unspiritual’ and ‘unyogic’, for they suppose that yoga and spirituality are primarily modes of acting on our inner being, leaving the world to its own devices. And for the most part, spirituality has either refused to concern itself with making this world a happier place or, when it has tried, it has been ineffectual. Sri Aurobindo sought to make spirituality capable of acting on the world and transforming it. Sri Aurobindo received a totally Western education, and knew its civilisation very well. His discovery of India and of its spiritual heritage came about later, after he returned to India in 1893. He had by then spent the formative years of his life, from the age of seven to 21, in England. Because he knew the West so well, he was keen to avoid the excesses and pitfalls he had seen in the Western approach to life, although he had a deep appreciation for all that was progressive and liberal in Western humanism. Western civilisation is supposed to be characterised by three features: a strong drive towards action, a scientific world-view, and a philosophy of enlightened self-interest. Western civilisation has been one of action; it has sought to act on human history through politics and it has sought to act on the world through knowledge of the laws of nature which it has transformed and bent to man’s needs. This has been true of most of its thinkers from Plato to Karl Marx who have always sought to put their thoughts into action. Inventions like the steam engine, the telescope and the microscope, the use of electricity and nuclear energy— all these technological achievements have brought about a real change in the world we live in. The Western model of acting on the world has a global appeal today and everywhere there is a frenzy not only to copy this Western model of action but also to adopt Western notions of happiness and lifestyle. To describe Western culture as scientific may not be entirely correct since very few people even in the West take part in science, although everyone benefits from it. There is no denying, however, that the West has tried to use practical reason and modern science to find solutions to the problems of the world; it has tried to eliminate from human life error, sorrow, pain and death. But it has largely failed to do so because the West envisages only external and secondary causes, and tries to remove them; it is unable to eliminate the roots of the malady against which we struggle. Its science is hampered in reaching its goal because of its excessive subjection to apparent fact and its refusal to look into the profounder facts of man’s inner life. On the whole, it has some times managed to manipulate circumstances and alleviate pain and suffering but it cannot exercise essential control over them. In spite of the spectacular successes of the West, a widespread weariness, a malaise seems to have affected it which makes a significant minority of people in these countries thirst for a more spiritual concept of happiness. There is a growing realisation that although the so-called Western methodology is a major contribution to satisfying elementary, physical needs, its obsession with improving living conditions through technological progress helps only to solve secondary problems. This spectacular material progress is a deceptive facade that masks the meaninglessness of modern life. What is the point in trying to double the length of human life if we fail to give meaning to that life? This would only condemn us to a life of 200 years of depression and bad moods. Thus a significant minority in the West is now looking for a happiness which is beyond that defined by a Harvard degree, a large stock portfolio, a flat stomach, an international credit card and an agreeable live-in companion. If Jesus and Marx have proved to be gods that failed, it may be time to turn to the Buddha. If the traditional church and Marxism haven’t delivered, a spirituality which is sufficiently secular may be the answer. The Western value system is said to be based on enlightened self-interest; but often this self-interest is selfishness glorified as the enhancement of the self. The strengthening of individuality as a primary agent in decision-making seems to be yielding diminishing returns. There is a growing dissatisfaction with the ability of the Western value system to govern individual lives. In its American variety of this value system, money has become a sublime good and has become a surrogate for love, work, art, play and thought. As Lapham points out we can buy everything that anybody can buy in the department store of the free world: “the Ferrari, the third husband, the F-16, the villa at Cap d’Antibes, the indoor tennis court and the Strategic Defence Initiative. But, no, it is not enough. We are not happy. Somehow we deserve more.”[1] Western civilisation in general has also come under serious criticism at the hands of thinkers like Aldous Huxley, Arthur Koestler and Konrad Lorenz as the harbinger of the various crises humanity is facing today. Since these critiques are well-known, I do not wish to repeat them here. There is another aspect of the Western civilisation which the rest of the world is trying to emulate, although with diminishing enthusiasm. The West has tried fervently to bring happiness to man, primarily by transforming the outer world. This is the materialist approach, which seeks to perfect humanity by using outward means and one of its main efforts has been to construct a perfect social and political system which will train men to be what they ought to be. I am referring here to the large-scale attempts made in the West to build utopias through social reform and revolution. Since the early 18th century, Europe sought to attain justice and happiness by organising a society that delivered happiness to its members through collective justice. The study of political systems became a new branch of ethics and revolution became the mode of establishing a utopia by building a new political, economic and social system from top to bottom. The first major attempt of this sort was the French Revolution in which the modern concept of a revolution emerged. Now whenever the authors of a revolution have conceived a model of society they consider perfect, they feel that they have the right to impose it on others, and, if necessary, to eliminate anyone who resists their attempts. This took place in Russia when the Marxist-Leninist theory was put into practice after the Bolshevik revolution, and later in China under Mao. In the Pol Pot in Cambodia the logic of such systems was pushed to the extreme; the result was grotesque and deadly excesses. All of these systems share a central idea—building a utopia through the revolutionary transformation of society. But all of them failed in practice. Social reform was supposed to replace ethical reform, but it has led to disaster; the West is now distraught by the failure of its social systems and is faced with an ethical vacuum. Hence the widespread interest in wisdom doctrines and Eastern spirituality. We see a growing tendency in the West to look up towards Eastern spirituality to learn how to act on oneself and on the world. But what has spirituality to offer? In its essence, spirituality is an awakening to the inner reality of our being. The spiritual way is to work outward from within the way of materialism is to work inward from without. Materialism makes the inner a result of the outer, and therefore fundamentally a phenomenon of matter. Spirituality works inward by opening the mind, vital and physical to the inner reality in us. The spiritualist believes that transforming the outer world has its limits and the effect of outer transformation on our inner happiness is limited. For man is not a machine and it is his mind that makes him feel happy or miserable. The spiritualist thus believes that trying to act on the outer world without having transformed oneself inwardly can’t lead to long-term or lasting happiness. If we have the necessary inner power, we should try to act on the outer world, but the inner transformation is the indispensable first step. To eliminate long-term suffering, we should reflect on the origin of suffering and become aware of the ignorance which brings us suffering. Our identification with the ego or a separate self is the root cause of our suffering. We cherish this ego-self, with all its desires, and suffering comes when it does not get what it wants. This ego-self is believed by some spiritualists to be a fictitious thing with no real existence, while others believe that it is only a mask or a surface self which hides our true self. But both agree that we must detach ourselves from it. Once we develop a detachment from this limited self, we are no longer afraid of not getting what we want or being subjected to what we don’t want. This then leads to a state of inner illumination. And all are unanimous about the positive, blissful and abiding nature of the experience that comes from this state of egolessness. Once you are in that state, you find yourself engulfed in infinite peace, infinite knowledge, infinite bliss and immortality. The efficacy of spirituality in acting on oneself and removing the real causes of our suffering permanently is a proven fact of subjective experience. It is not surprising, therefore, that a growing number of people in the West are attracted by the various kinds of meditation practices and to Eastern spirituality in general. Here we must pause for a while and raise a few questions about the value of this spiritual enterprise. For one thing, it is necessary to recognise that this enterprise has a fairly low rate of success. In spite of the popularity of spiritual establishments in the West, genuine spirituality is a very arduous undertaking and success in it demands an inner call, patience, perseverance and total commitment. It is worthwhile, therefore, to bear in mind the caution voiced by the Bhagavad Gita, that among the many who strive to follow the path only a rare individual reaches the destination. Secondly, we must ask, isn’t spirituality in the final analysis a selfish undertaking? I am only one person, while others are countless; how significant then is what happens to me, whether good or bad, to the happiness of others? Third, spirituality seems to be concerned only with the suffering caused by what are called the shad ripus, by our own failings, wrongs and weaknesses, our excessive anger, pride and greed. But what about malnutrition, famine, torture by tyrants or being put to the sword by a hostile population? There is evil all around us playing havoc with our world. How are we going to deal spiritually with situations like the ones we had in Auschwitz and in Bosnia? Surely, to eliminate evils like these we need remedies which are more outwardly effective than enlightened Buddhahood or the poised consciousness of a sthitaprajna. Many spiritualists would agree that to free oneself alone from suffering is a severely limited goal. One should have the intention of attaining enlightenment for the sake of all beings. You transform yourself in order to acquire the capacity to help others free themselves from suffering. But the question is: what power does this give us to prevent the kinds of evil that I have just mentioned? In other words, does spirituality enable us to act on the world and make it a better place? Of course, the enlightened spiritual person has the power to help others take to his path through his example, influence and teaching. But how far does this go towards alleviating the world’s suffering? There has been no dearth of spiritual luminaries in this world and most of them have tried vigorously to propagate their teachings to the world at large. What has been its tangible effect on the human mass ? As a character in Sri Aurobindo’s great epic Savitri puts it:       The Avatars have lived and died in vain,       Vain was the sage’s thought, the prophet’s voice;       In vain is seen the shining upward Way.       Earth lies unchanged beneath the circling sun;       She loves her fall and no omnipotence       Her mortal imperfections can erase,       Force on man’s crooked ignorance Heaven’s straight line       Or colonise a world of death with gods. The non-spiritualists have tried to solve the problems of war, poverty, famine and ecological destruction, but we have seen that their solutions are temporary in effect because they do not go deep enough in their search for the roots of these maladies. But the spiritualist does not seem to fare any better here since he has an almost impracticable agenda before him. For he believes that it is never going to be possible for groups of humans to stop killing each other, as in Bosnia, until individuals change themselves—that is, until the individuals themselves one by one give up anger, hatred and violence. Many thinkers and ideologies base their hopes of universal peace on a transformation of human nature. All the systems of wisdom, the great Utopias and the main religions have reckoned on that hypothesis. But we haven’t yet found a way of changing human nature that really works on a wide scale. There is another ideological stance some spiritualists take—an isolationist one—and many varieties of Indian spirituality proudly proclaim their adherence to it. In essence, this ideology asks you to reject the world as a source of falsehood, corruption and imperfection in order to save yourself from being contaminated by it. The lure of moksha, liberation from the world-illusion, has caught many in its net. The world in which we live, they say, is like the crooked tail of a dog; it can never be made straight. The only wise course of action is to reject this world and turn within to the consciousness of Brahman which is the only reality. But withdrawing from the world in the name of spirituality is tantamount to saying that the creator has made a blunder in creating this world, and we in our wisdom have decided to correct it by opting out and uniting inwardly with the divine. This kind of spirituality has been the bane of our nation; it has made life seem not worth living, and so we have neglected it. The question is not whether Mayavada, the name by which this philosophy is known, is logically sound or not, but whether it is a worthy ideal for mankind, for it fails both man and God and makes this marvellous creation a pointless exercise. It is against the background of such a world-negating spirituality that the new spirituality propounded by Sri Aurobindo has to be seen. Sri Aurobindo does not reject the Indian spiritual tradition. He only extends it in such a way that it ceases to be merely an endeavour for personal fulfilment and becomes instead a means of bringing perfection to life on earth as a whole. His starting point is the perception of the ancient sages of India that behind the appearances of the universe there is the reality of a being or a consciousness, a self of all things, one and eternal. To put his teaching briefly in his own words: … this One Being and Consciousness is involved here in Matter. Evolution is the method by which it liberates itself; consciousness appears in what seems to be inconscient, and once having appeared is self-impelled to grow higher and higher and at the same time to enlarge and develop towards a greater and greater perfection. Life is the first step of this release of consciousness; mind is the second; but the evolution does not finish with the mind, it awaits a release into something greater, a consciousness which is spiritual and supramental. The next step of the evolution must be towards the development of Supermind and Spirit as the dominant power in the conscious being. For only then will the involved Divinity in things release itself entirely and it become possible for life to manifest perfection. (Sri Aurobindo: On Himself) The early steps in evolution were taken by nature since there is no conscious will in the plant and animal life. In man, nature at last has a conscious instrument since it has evolved in him a conscious mind and will. This self-reflective consciousness has brought with it the ability to direct its own destiny. But for further evolution, the mind in man is not enough because after a point it can only move in a circle. A conversion has to be made, a turning of the consciousness by which the mind may change into a higher principle. The method to do this is the ancient psychological discipline and practice of yoga. In the past, yoga meant drawing away from the world and it culminated in merging into the self or the spirit. Sri Aurobindo teaches that a yoga is possible which will enable man to acquire a consciousness which is higher than the mind; he called it the Supermind, or the ‘supramental truth-consciousness’. This new consciousness will have sufficient power not only to release man inwardly into the highest spirit but also to enable him to grow out of his animal humanity into a divine being. His claim is that this supramental consciousness will be able to change human nature and bring to all the parts of our being, mind, life and body, a divine perfection. This briefly is Sri Aurobindo’s thesis. My concern here is not with the scientific certitude of this thesis. In The Life Divine Sri Aurobindo has shown that this new consciousness is a logical inevitability in evolution. On the basis of his own spiritual experience and vision, he has proclaimed the inevitability of man’s further evolution to this level of consciousness. Now to go back to our basic question: how will this new consciousness change human life on earth? Let me begin with a brief quotation from one of Sri Aurobindo’s letters in which he explains what effect this consciousness will have on human life in general. It is likely that as the supramental principle evolved itself the evolution would more and more take another aspect—the Daivic nature would predominate, the Asuro-Rakshaso-Pishachic prakriti which now holds so large a place would more and more recede and lose its power. A principle of greater unity, harmony and light would emerge everywhere. It is not that the creation in the ignorance would be altogether abolished, but it would begin to lose much of its elements of pain and falsehood and would be more a progression from lesser to higher truth, from a lesser to a higher harmony, from a lesser to a higher light, than the reign of chaos and struggle, of darkness and error that we now perceive.[2] Each level of consciousness is a power. The mental consciousness, for example, is a power which has enabled us to take in the experience of the physical world, subject it to the processes of induction and deduction and reshape it. Not even the chimpanzee, which among the higher primates is closest to man, has been able to do this because it does not possess the mental consciousness which man has. Again, consider the acquisition of human language which is a complex means of communication. It has been shown that even when systematic efforts are made a chimpanzee’s capacity to acquire human language is extremely limited, may be a few 100 words and less than 1,000 sentences after several years of training. But a human child effortlessly acquires the language to which he is exposed by the time he is around four years old. This is once again because the human child has a mental consciousness. In the same way, the supramental consciousness will bring to us powers which will change human nature by breaking down its present limits. Its greatest promise is that it will enable us to change human nature at all levels. And there is no doubt that a radical change in human nature holds the key to our very survival on this planet. In Janus, one of the last books he wrote, Arthur Koestler lamented that humanity is a doomed species. He was convinced that the species suffers from a paranoid streak and this is seen in the way man has always used his powers to harm himself. Now with the acquisition of nuclear power he has acquired the awesome capability of destroying the whole of human species. And it may be only a few more decades before man actually succeeds in committing this final holocaust. Koestler attributed this to a fundamental flaw in the evolution of the human brain as maintained in the Papez-Maclean theory of emotions. This theory states that man has a tripartite brain structure; at the bottom he has a reptilian brain, on top of it the brain of a horse and on the topmost level, the human aspect, the neo-cortex. The two old brains have remained un-evolved for some reason while the neo-cortex has evolved tremendously during the last half a million years. As a result of this evolutionary confusion, our reasoning powers, which reside in the new brain are unable to control our instincts, passions and biological drives which are controlled by our reptilian and mammalian brains. Thus the raging fury of passionately held irrational beliefs and attachments drives us to savage behaviour while reason sits unable to control that part of our life. Sri Aurobindo spoke about an evolutionary crisis that humanity is facing today. He pointed out that in certain directions the mind has achieved enormous development but in others it stands bewildered and no longer knows the way. There is nothing in the mental consciousness that makes man look beyond the stress of economic and physical needs. He is presently engaged in cultivating a multiplication of new wants and an aggressive expansion of his collective ego. Science in the meanwhile has put into his hands great powers of the universal Force and has also made the life of humanity materially one, but what uses this universal Force is a little human ego, individual and communal. Whether we accept Sri Aurobindo’s analysis or Koestler’s analysis of the human predicament, it is clear that the human mind today stands arrested. Everybody is convinced that until human nature is changed there is no future for mankind. Koestler believes that human nature cannot be changed because the evolutionary flaw in the making of the brain cannot now be rectified, except partially through medication. But Sri Aurobindo takes this evolutionary impasse as an indication that a leap in to a higher consciousness has to be taken, beyond the mind to the supermind. He believes that with this new consciousness man will be able to do what the mental consciousness has been unable to do, namely, change human nature. Here is an example of what this might mean. More and more people have come to the conclusion that the limitations on human happiness are not primarily external limitations any more, they are inner limitations. If people still die today of malnutrition, and children in large numbers are crippled for life for lack of elementary health care and safe drinking water it is not because we do not have adequate resources to prevent these tragedies but because we do not have the heart and the will to share with our unfortunate brothers what we have in plenty. The limits of our happiness are essentially the inner ones—our narrowness, selfishness, ego, our greed and possessiveness and the tendency to exploit people who are weaker than us. The older spirituality recognised this, but the means it had were not adequate for transforming human nature completely and permanently. All that the religious teachings and moral exhortations have given us is the thin veneer of a satwic nature. But at the first opportunity, the beast in us is ready to come out and rule us. At present the grades of consciousness above the ordinary mind can only act as influences; they can indirectly influence the human mind and consciousness but cannot do more. Therefore, there is no permanent change in human nature yet. This explains why the efforts of the saints and the old spirituality have so far not produced permanent results. For this we have to grow into a greater spiritual consciousness—what Sri Aurobindo called the supramental consciousness. The supramental consciousness is a consciousness of unity, a consciousness that is not ego-bound like the mental consciousness. Harmony and oneness with all are natural to it because it is a spiritual consciousness. Just as the consciousness of a chimpanzee does not have a natural aptitude for acquiring a human language, the human mind too does not seem to have a natural aptitude for spiritual attributes. Only the supermind has a natural propensity for what are called the daivic qualities like love, brotherhood, charity and compassion. The manifestation of the supermind outwardly, visibly and physically, is a long process, or at least a process with a long preparation. The yoga-tapasya of Sri Aurobindo and the Mother was aimed at hastening the descent of the supramental consciousness in the earth-atmosphere and the Mother has assured us that the new consciousness has descended. It is now a living force on earth just as the thinking mental consciousness and the higher mental consciousness are already at work here. Its effects on individuals and earth-life will be slowly worked out in the course of time just as the effects of the mental consciousness were worked out over time. During the initial stages a few human beings will succeed in acquiring the new consciousness and they will be the pioneers. In course of time an increasing number of people on earth will be able to manifest this consciousness. However, it is not likely to overpower the earth in a moment. All those who aspire for the transformation of consciousness will now find the earth-atmosphere more favourable for their progress. As time passes, more and more people will be able to acquire this consciousness and eventually a race of supramental beings will appear on this earth. Sri Aurobindo’s vision of the future is the vision of a divine life on earth. As he says in the concluding part of Savitri: Nature shall live to manifest secret God,The Spirit shall take up the human play,This earthly life become the life divine. Even among those who accept this vision there is the question: how soon will this change happen? Students of evolution have told us that evolution is continuing to accelerate and that wherever we are going, we are going there fast. Many who have watched the cross-catalytic progress in biology, atomic physics, energy sources, mobility and communication have come to the conclusion that we are today passing through a jump in evolution far more concentrated and intense and of far greater evolutionary importance than any we have so far seen. Those of us who are impatient to see the manifestation of the new consciousness would do well to remember that we are now on the threshold of an evolutionary leap as significant as the evolution of life from inanimate matter, which took billions of years. The change I have described above is not expected to take billions of years, but it may take centuries. On the other hand, for those of us who are sensitive to such things evidence is already gathering thick and fast indicating that the new force is at work in our midst. Finally, people often wonder whether this marvellous light of the new consciousness can ever really descend on our sordid earth. For many, Sri Aurobindo’s vision for man may appear more like a scenario in a fairy tale than in real life. As he himself said in Savitri:        A few shall see what none yet understands;       God shall grow up while the wise men talk and sleep;       For man shall not know the coming till its hour       And belief shall be not till the work is done. Thus we must ask, can earthly life be made really perfect? I cannot do better than quote a few lines from Sri Aurobindo’s Savitri which answer a similar scepticism: How sayst thou Truth can never light the human mind And Bliss can never invade the mortal’s heart Or God descend into the world he made? If in the meaningless Void creation rose, If from a bodiless Force Matter was born, If life could climb in the unconscious tree, Its green delight break into emerald leaves And its laughter of beauty blossom in the flower, If sense could wake in tissue, nerve and cell And Thought seize the grey matter of the brain, And soul peep from its secrecy through the flesh, How shall the nameless Light not leap on men, And unknown powers emerge from Nature’s sleep? Even now hints of a luminous Truth like stars Arise in the mind-mooned splendour of Ignorance; Even now the deathless Lover’s touch we feel: If the chamber’s door is even a little ajar, What then can hinder God from stealing in Or who forbid his kiss on the sleeping soul? Already God is near, the Truth is close: Because the dark atheist body knows him not, Must the sage deny the Light, the seer his soul?10   From an edited transcript of a talk delivered at the Indian Institute of Management, Kolkata, in September 2001. Originally printed in the book “India’s Spiritual Destiny: Its Inevitability and Potentiality” (2006).   Our deep gratitude to the Late Sri Mangesh V Nadkarni More of Nadkarniji’s talks & writings
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Yoga: The Union of Subject and Object
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Yoga: The Union of Subject and Object

(Spoken on September 15, 1995) Our subject will be what is known as the System of Yoga. As you are all aware, the word ‘yoga’ has been exercising a kind of mesmerising effect on the minds of people; everyone seems to be attracted towards it, whatever their reason may be. There is an unknown enigmatic power exerted by the very word ‘yoga’, due to which everyone wants to know what it is, under the impression that it is apparently going to shower upon them immense blessings of an unknown character. People feel it is something wonderful, and very necessary. This word yoga comes from a Sanskrit root, yug, meaning ‘uniting’ or ‘the union’. Yoga is the attainment of union, and also the process of achieving this union. It is the end, as well as the methodology involved in achieving the end known as union. But union with what? What is to be united with what? This question is, perhaps, not easily answered. There is a nebulous feeling about the nature of this union, and a clear-cut answer will not be easily available from any quarter which seems to be concerned with the teaching of yoga. Hundreds of definitions will be provided, all which look perfectly sensible and logical; yet, you may not feel that you have obtained anything. You will be still searching, moving from one Guru to another Guru, one institution to another institution, and trying every blessed method of practising yoga. The answer to this great question of what this union is will take you deep into the very nature and structure of existence itself. Very profound is this science because it goes deep into the very nature of what is called existence itself. The meaning of the word ‘existence’ will be clear to you all because of the fact that everyone exists, everything exists. Existing is a common denominator, a factor that is at the back of the very meaning of all life. There is no meaning in anything unless it exists. That which does not exist has no value. Inasmuch as existence is a common background of every person and every thing in the world, it has to be considered as covering the whole structure of life. Everywhere is existence, but in our day-to-day life, we seem to be psychologically creating a sort of rift in this otherwise-generalised definition of existence. For instance, everyone feels, “I exist; you also exist.” Here, when you conceive your existence as a ‘myself’, you will automatically distinguish this existence of ‘myself’ from the existence of what you call ‘yourself’. My existence is not actually identical with your existence. If it were identical, there would be no ‘you’. For every ‘myself’ there is a counter-correlative known as ‘yourself’. Now, who is this ‘myself’? Every person in the world is a ‘myself’, because every person refers to oneself as ‘me’. Who is ‘yourself’ or ‘itself’? Anything that is not ‘myself’ is ‘yourself’ or ‘itself’. Please remember this peculiar subtle enigma before you: Anything that is not ‘myself’ is ‘yourself’ or ‘itself’, but this ‘yourself’ is also a ‘myself’ from its own point of view. While I may regard you as ‘yourself’ from my feeling of myself as a subjective existence, you are also in a position to consider yourself as a ‘myself’, and consider me as a ‘yourself’. Is there a distinction between myself and yourself? You will find that here we are in a strange difficulty that eludes ordinary understanding. Who is this ‘myself’, and who is the ‘yourself’? Everyone seems to be ‘myself’, and at the same time everyone is a ‘yourself’, though these two terms are totally contradictory. How can these contradictions seem to be existing in one person simultaneously? I am ‘yourself’ and ‘myself’ at the same time, though the characteristics of the existence of ‘myself’ and ‘yourself’ are two different things altogether. The existence of ‘myself’ cannot get identified with your existence; else, there will be no difference between people. Are you able to recognise the great problem before you? Are you justified in regarding anyone as a ‘yourself’? Why do you call somebody as ‘yourself’, or call something as ‘itself’, when that ‘itself’ also is a ‘myself’ from its own point of view? If you are going to live in the world with this kind of contradiction in your own way of thinking, you should think thrice before saying, thinking or doing anything. It is a tremendous mystery that you are facing in your day-to-day life, and you have taken it for granted, as if it is perfectly clear. Why do you regard another person as a ‘yourself’, if you are able to conceive that person called ‘yourself’ to be a ‘myself’ from its own point of view? So, the basic philosophical question is, “Is there an object in the world, apart from the subject?” The ‘yourself’ is an object, the ‘myself’ is a subject. The ‘myself’ observes the ‘yourself’ as an externally independently existing something. Are you justified in coming to this conclusion that there is someone who is not at all a subjective ‘me’ or ‘I’, but totally an object? Can you say that there is anything called an object at all, really speaking, inasmuch as every person and every thing cannot be regarded as an object from their own point of view? But, do you not make this distinction between the subjective perceiving consciousness and the object outside? Put a question to your own self: Why do you make this distinction? In what way can you consider yourself justified in calling yourself a determining factor in foisting a definition on someone else whom you regard as an object? There is something of a secret hidden behind all these things: How do you know that you are existing? What makes you feel that you are really there, in some place? Have you any proof? Do you not ask for proofs, nowadays, for anything to be accepted? Now, bring a syllogistic deduction, a logical argument, to establish that you are existing. You may be wondering, “The question is ridiculous. I am existing; it is very clear, and you want a proof for it?” There is a clarity which is a hundred-percent illumination that confirms the existence of oneself. But, you will not grant this concession that you are, which you give to your own self, to others. For any other thing you want a proof in order that you may establish their existence. You cannot know the nature of even an atom. You want laboratories, equipment, by means of which you can know the nature of the existence of a little thing called a material substance, an atom. If everyone and everything has a substantive characteristic and not an objective characteristic, there would be some fallacy in your asking for instruments to enable you to know the nature, existence, or the structure of something which you call an object. Why do you not apply the same logic to your own self? Why do you not subject yourself to a laboratory test of observation and experimentation to know that you are really existing? You will say, “It is meaningless. You want me to subject myself to an experiment in a laboratory so that I may know that I am existing?” But then, why should you apply this logic to another, which you regard as something different from you, though wrongly? There is a psychological rift between the operation taking place within yourself and the same operation that is taking place in regard to something that you regard as not yourself. The mind of a person divides itself into two segments of activity, knowing in a subjective way on the one side and characterising in an objective way another thing on the other side. You do not deal with another in the same way as you deal with your own self. Is it possible for you to deal with another thing or another person in the same way as you are likely to deal with your own self? Inasmuch as you will not be able to do this, and you would not like to do it also, for your own personal reasons, you are unjustly parading your competency in knowing all things perfectly, while in fact your knowledge of things is imperfect. You have created an unjustifiable dissection of the types of existence attributed to yourself and others. Yoga, as I mentioned, is an act of union. Now I am coming to the point as to what it is that is going to be united. Two realities cannot be united, because a reality is something which is valid by its own existence as a total independence. An independent thing cannot come in contact with another independent thing, because there is a total subjectivity characterizing the independence of a particular person or thing which differs from the same nature that you can attribute to another person or thing. Two ‘reals’ cannot join and become one, because both are ‘real’; if two ‘reals’ can join together and become one, there must be some mistake in the assumption that there are two ‘reals’ at all. In this sense, in the attempt to achieve the union known as yoga, you are dealing with vast existence itself, which stands before you as an object, from which you distinguish yourself as an observer. The world stands before you as something that is observed, and you are standing apart from it as an observing subject. But, do you not know that you are also a similar type of object that can be observed by other substantives, who also have the prerogative of judging you? Have you heard the very famous saying, “Judge not, lest ye be judged?” In the way you are judging another, you will be judged correspondingly. You will receive what you are meting out to another, the reason being that there is an undercurrent of uniformity between the subjective side and the objective side which is missed in ordinary sensory perception. The consciousness that is what makes you feel a ‘myself’ or ‘me’ in regard to your own self cannot be observed as operating in another person. You can experience the consciousness in you, but you cannot experience the consciousness in another person. You only concede the fact of there being consciousness in another person by the behaviour of that person, which indicates the presence of consciousness in that person, also. So, the conceding of the fact of there being a consciousness in another person is a conclusion drawn by inference; but in the case of yourself, it is a direct experience. You cannot know that there is consciousness in another person, because consciousness is pure subjectivity. The nature of consciousness is nothing but the capacity to know. That which knows cannot become what is known. That is to say, consciousness cannot become an object of itself. This is the reason why you are only inferring consciousness in other people by a deductive process of reasoning, while in your case it is a direct experience. If it is possible for you to adopt some method by which you can enter into the consciousness of another person, that person will immediately cease to be an object to you. There will be a commingling of consciousness, which is supposed to be the pure subject in you with the consciousness which also is a pure subject in another person. But practically, this is not possible to achieve. By any amount of effort on your part, you cannot enter into the consciousness of another person. The other person always stands as an object to be dealt with, while you do not want to deal with yourself. Here is a basic fundamental error in the process of perception and experience in which we are daily involved, and no one wants to go deep into this difficulty under the impression that everything is clear, and all things are going on well. The process of action and reaction, with which you are well accustomed, arises on account of this bifurcation of your existence as differentiated from another’s existence. There is something which the existence of another resents in your characterisation of its existence. It resents the definition of that existence, because it is not possible to dissect two segments of existence which otherwise is uniformly present in all people. Now, the Yoga System takes up this question in right earnest: How would you be able to solve this psychological malady that has crept into everyone, due to which you cannot truly know what is outside you? Even your knowledge of your own self is a perfunctory psychological appreciation, not a true knowledge. If you cannot have a true knowledge of your own in-depth essence, you cannot know the in-depth essence of anybody else, either. So, all knowledge received through our modern-day education is a make-believe. The characterization, the ‘how’ and the behaviour of a particular person or thing is given, but the ‘why’ of it is not known. You can know how a thing behaves, but you cannot know why it behaves in that manner. With your own self, you know why you are behaving in a particular manner. So, that ‘why’ which you are applying to yourself as something very clear should also be equally applied to the other, which stands on equal footing in the process of perception. The philosophical definition of this subjectivity in oneself standing as opposed to the existence of another is the correlation of the seer and the seen. How do you come to know that something is there in front of you? You will have a very easy answer: “Because, I see that there is something in front of me.” What do you mean by ‘seeing’? The light rays come in contact with the retina of your eyes and cast a reflection of what is in front of you. Opticians tell you that in the beginning it is a topsy-turvy reflection that is cast on the retina; later, it gets rectified into a vertically existing object. Yet, the primary question, how you have come to the conclusion that you know this object, is not answered. Knowledge cannot be identified with rays of light, because no one believes that a light ray is conscious. It is a physical phenomenon. An object which is far away, like a mountain, becomes an object of your knowledge. You are, of course, aware that the mountain cannot enter into your eyes; it is distant, and yet, you come to know that the mountain exists. The knowing process is actually the function of consciousness. Your consciousness establishes the existence of something in front which is called a mountain. It brings about a conscious relationship between the mountain and itself in the perception of this object called a mountain. Do you attribute consciousness to a mountain? Does it think in the manner you think? You say, “The mountain is a material substance.” If you cannot regard matter as having an element of consciousness, then matter stands always as an object of consciousness; and if there is always a difference between consciousness and matter, as well known to everybody, then there is a difference between the consciousness that knows the object known as the mountain, and the mountain itself. If there is such a difference between the material object called the mountain and the consciousness which is supposed to know the existence of that object, how do you come to know that it exists? The only apparent connection between your consciousness and the object which is known as the mountain is light rays, air and space. Neither light rays, nor the air, nor the space intervening between you and the mountain can be regarded as conscious elements. They are all material, one-hundred percent. If that which intervenes between your consciousness and the object outside is material in its nature, this consciousness which knows the object cannot be connected with that object, because the connection is made of material substance. What is the relation between this material connection existing between your consciousness and the object, and the knowing Self itself? No intelligible answer to this question is possible. A material connection cannot bring about a conscious apprehension of the object. We have to conclude that there is some other mysterious element operating between your so-called subjective consciousness and the object outside, because the object, such as the mountain, is material, as is well known; and matter and consciousness cannot come together, as they are of dissimilar characters. Similar things unite; dissimilar things divide. Now, the mountain being dissimilar to the nature of consciousness, it cannot be known under any circumstance that it exists, unless you appreciate that there is something of the nature of consciousness itself interlinking your subjective consciousness with the object outside. What is the conclusion? The conclusion is that your consciousness that knows the object is not connected to the object by any material content; it has to be, by an in-depth analysis of the situation, a conscious link only – which means to say, your mind has to exceed the limit of this bodily frame. The mind cannot go so far as the mountain outside if you believe the mind is inside the body only. Do you not think that the mind is inside you? Do you believe your mind is going outside into the marketplace? If the mind is locked up within the framework of your physical being, there is no way of knowing that there is an object outside – unless, by a logical deduction of the fact, you have to infer that this mind which apparently seems to be locked up within the body is really not so locked up. It has a wider connotation, which permits its existence outside the body, also. There is a larger mind than the individual mind, which is the reason why your so-called subjectivity is able to apprehend the object outside. Your mind is touching the object because of the fact that it is not really confined to the location of your physical body. I will give you an example to illustrate this point. Suppose there is a broadcasting station in Delhi or anywhere, and somebody speaks or sings there. That sound wave is carried through space to the receiving set somewhere far away, and that receiving set plays the voice of the person in the broadcasting station. Does it mean that the sound is travelling through space? But the sound itself does not travel through space; otherwise, we would all be hearing the broadcasted sound even without the receiving set. The audio structure of the speech or the song of the person gets converted into a vibration, an energy, which is ubiquitous, existing everywhere; and the medium of that energy which is everywhere is contacted by the process of the conversion of the sound into that very energy which communicates that vibrating force to the receiving set, which re-transforms that energy into the sound that you are hearing. So, between the sound in the broadcasting station and the sound that you are hearing through the receiving set, there is something that is not seen at all by any person and which cannot be contacted, but without which the connection between that sound and this sound is unintelligible. In a similar manner is this question of the perception of an object. There has to be a super-mind, a wider mind, a more comprehensive mind, you can call it the Universal Mind, which operates in an impersonal manner between your individualized mind, which is apparently locked up in your body, and the so-called object, which is apparently external to you. Now, here again a question arises: What is it that this extra-physical mind is doing when this individual mind vibrates in a manner contactable with this Universal Mind? What actually takes place? The mental faculty which is superior to the individual mental faculty, the wider mind, comes in contact with the object which is called the mountain. You can see even the stars, which are several light years away. How do you see them, when they are not entering your eyes? The same process takes place. There is a larger, wider, universalized mind through which the individual mind comes in contact, without knowing that there is this transparent intermediary operation taking place between the knowing mind and the object that is known. Another question automatically follows from this conclusion. The fact that the mountain is a material substance cannot be overlooked. Even the Universal Mind, which knows itself, which reflects consciousness, cannot identify itself with something which is totally material in its nature. Mind cannot contact matter, unless the matter also has some characteristics similar to the mind. If you cannot concede this fact, the reason why you are able to know an object outside cannot be explained. The conclusion, therefore, philosophically arrived at, is that there is some Over Mind operating everywhere, even inside the structural pattern of an object called matter, such as a mountain. There is a universal operative mind that is hiddenly present even in a so-called material object called the mountain, and it reacts in a conscious manner in respect of the conscious mind which is seeing the object outside, and a commingling of two centres of mind takes place. There has to be something of a similar character between the medium that broadcasts the sound in the station, and the receiving set. If they are totally dissimilar, they cannot come in contact with each other; there would be no hearing the sound at all. There is, therefore, for all practical purposes, a hidden content as a mysterious existence which operates universally and ubiquitously everywhere, which being unknown as an existing factor to the individual mind, creates the so-called bifurcation between the subject and the object. What does yoga do, then? It is a very subtle and adroit method adopted in the disciplining of the individual mind, by which it can directly come in contact with that Universal Mind intervening between itself and the so-called object outside. That is to say, you will directly come in contact with that object. The objectiveness, the ‘yourself-ness’ of the object ceases. It becomes a ‘myself’ in a different sense, and this ‘myself’ which is the observing factor unites with the ‘myself’ of that object. There is a larger ‘me’, a large ‘I’, which transcends the individual ‘I’, an experience which will include whatever you know about yourself and whatever you seem to be knowing about another. There is, therefore, an enhancement of perceptive capacity in this process, and when the attainment of this kind of union becomes an actual experience, you will find yourself in a flood of experience which inundates your total personality, and you will feel that what is outside you is not really outside you. The problems of life arise on account of the existence of ‘yourself’ contradicting ‘my existence’. That contradiction has to be resolved by adopting such subtle means of self-discipline by which the otherness of an object gets melted down to the true ‘myself’ aspect of what that object is. That is to say, yoga is a union of the true subject with the true subjectivity of another thing, which you erroneously and wrongly call the object. So, what is the union in yoga? It is the union of the subject with the object. But, in another sense, it looks that the two cannot be united at all, so I have to explain why, in one sense, the subject and the object stand apart and they cannot be united, and in what sense they can be united. You will find the Yoga System of Patanjali practically mentioning that the problem of life arises in the contradiction between the subjectivity and the objectivity of a thing, and the separation of the objective character in an object from the subjectivity in it – in its technical language, the prakriti aspect being separated from the purusha aspect in the perceiving consciousness. In that sense, there is a separation, but in a deeper sense, there is a union, as I have indicated to you briefly in this introduction to this great subject, to which we have to revert later on in greater detail.   Our gratitude to Swami Krishnananda of Divine Life Society
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Sankhya and Sri Aurobindo
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Sankhya and Sri Aurobindo

Involution and Evolution of Consciousness The Sankhya system begins with consciousness and shows how it systematically fragments and becomes more dense until it is fully involved in Matter. Sri Aurobindo reminds us that there is an intense, concentrated involved intelligence which we can see even in the atom. The mathematical precision and obvious interface between forces of attraction and repulsion, organized energy and the ability to develop from the atom to any number of complex structures, eventually leading to the development of life and mental action, shows that this consciousness is there, if hidden, in an involved state. Modern science in fact is now confirming that where they originally thought Matter was the origin, they then moved on to state that “matter is energy” and more recently “energy is consciousness”. We see therefore close agreement between the leading edge of modern scientific thought and the ancient teachings of the Sankhya. “In the evolution of the soul back from Prakriti towards Purusha, the reverse order has to be taken to the original Nature-evolution, and that is how the Upanishads and the Gita following and almost quoting the Upanishads state the ascending order of our subjective powers.” ‘Supreme,’ they say, ‘beyond their objects are the senses, supreme over the senses the mind, supreme over the mind the intelligent will: that which is supreme over the intelligent will, is he,’ — is the conscious self, the Purusha. Therefore, says the Gita, it is this Purusha, this supreme cause of our subjective life which we have to understand and become aware of by the intelligence; in that we have to fix our will. So holding our lower subjective self in Nature firmly poised and stilled by means of the greater rally conscient self, we can destroy the restless ever-active enemy of our peace and self-mastery, the mind’s desire.” The evolution of consciousness we see expounded here tracks, in reverse order, the involution that brought consciousness into Matter. The process of the yoga the Gita prescribes is to turn the focus and attention on that highest consciousness and see and experience it as the ultimate and first cause of all we experience. (Sri Aurobindo, Essays on the Gita) The Instruments of Our Subjective Experience In the Sankhya analysis, which the Gita by and large adopts, our interaction with the objective world is carried out by the instruments of subjective experience, which themselves are elements of Nature, Prakriti. Because the subtler, higher and finer consciousness precedes the gross outer material world, these elements develop starting with the Buddhi, the discriminating intelligence and will. The ego-sense is an outgrowth of the development of the Buddhi. From there, the sense-mind, Manas is developed, which develops the senses of perception and action to interact with the material world and its objective reality based on the 5 elements. Sri Aurobindo carries this analysis further by relating it to the role of the Purusha: “Reflected in the pure consciousness of Purusha these degrees and powers of Nature-force become the material of our impure subjectivity, impure because its action is dependent on the perceptions of the objective world and on their subjective reactions.” “Buddhi…takes for us the form of intelligence and will. Manas, the inconscient force which seizes Nature’s discriminations by objective action and reaction and grasps at them by attraction, becomes sense-perception and desire, the two crude terms or degradations of intelligence and will, becomes the sense-mind sensational, emotive, volitional in the lower sense of wish, hope, longing, passion, vital impulsion, all the deformations…of will. The senses become the instruments of sense-mind, the perceptive five of our sense-knowledge, the active five of our impulsions and vital habits, mediators between the subjective and objective; the rest are the objects of our consciousness…” We see here, then a mechanism whereby the 24 principles of Sankhya have undergone systematic transformations in order to create the conscious experience that we all have and take for granted. The forms of intelligence and will have undergone a step-down effect in order to interact with the elements, and the intervening steps of sense-reaction and desire, and the grasping after the objects of senses are the operative aspects of our subjective experience in the lower nature. (Sri Aurobindo, Essays on the Gita) The Supreme Purusha Of the Gita The Gita incorporates, in the first six chapters, most of the premises of the Vedantic concept of knowledge. Sri Aurobindo describes it: “The Gita takes it over at once and completely and throughout the six chapters quietly substitutes the still immutable Brahman of the Vedantins, the One without a second immanent in all cosmos, for the still immutable but multiple Purusha of the Sankhyas. It accepts throughout these chapters knowledge and realisation of the Brahman as the most important, the indispensable means of liberation, even while it insists on desireless works as an essential part of knowledge.” The Gita weaves together the concepts of Sankhya and Vedanta in a way that takes up, expands and harmonises their positions. In the way of knowledge, however, it is clear that the Vedantic viewpoint is predominant. At the same time, both Sankhya and Vedanta, in the sense that they were understood and practiced at the time, were unable to resolve the ultimate question that would be able to integrate action and inaction, the immobile and the mobile. The Gita addresses this by describing a supreme Purusha, Purushottama, which was able to hold within itself, without conflict or disharmony, both the unmoving and the moving concurrently. “The Brahman is its supreme and not in any lower aspect has to be presented as the Purusha with the lower Prakriti for its Maya, so to synthesize thoroughly Vedanta and Sankhya, and as Ishwara, so to synthesize thoroughly both with Yoga; but the Gita is going to represent the Ishwara, the Purushottama, as higher even than the still and immutable Brahman, and the loss of ego in the impersonal comes in at the beginning as only a great initial and necessary step towards union with the Purushottama. For the Purushottama is the supreme Brahman.” The concept is alluded to in the Upanishads, but it is the Gita which clearly sets it forth and positions it in such a way as to allow all the major schools of understanding to fit within it. (Sri Aurobindo, Essays on the Gita) The Challenges Facing the Gita’s Synthesis The Vedas, Upanishads and other texts of the ancient seers were vast storehouses of observation, information and analysis, along with practical guidelines for gaining an understanding through personal experience. They, in fact, started from the experience, observation and standpoint of a specific seer in many cases. While they focused on and moved toward the central unifying experience, they did so from multiple unique and individual views, and thus, came to the observation and the solution in multiple different ways. They were, therefore, a fragmented view of the unity, and more or less represented the attempt of the blind men to describe the elephant by each one touching a different part of it, and thereby coming up with vastly different descriptions. The Gita, on the other hand, is attempting to unify these different descriptions into a unified whole. The standpoint can be compared to the concept of the first time humans observed the planet earth from outer space, and began to recognise that the world is one unified eco-sphere and bio-sphere and that all human beings are one species and just one part of this unified biological and ecological whole. The Gita therefore does not outright dismiss any particular path or philosophical direction that was current at the time, but works to integrate it into a more complete web of understanding, eliminating thereby the most exclusive and rigid aspects of each one, and looking to find where it fits into the larger picture and thereby harmonises with the others. During this process, the Gita adds its own contributions which provide some of the unifying factors. Sri Aurobindo describes the process of the Gita: “The Gita has to synthesize the Yoga doctrine of liberation by works and the Sankhya doctrine of liberation by knowledge; it has to fuse karma with jnana. It has at the same time to synthesize the Purusha and Prakriti idea common to Sankhya and Yoga with the Brahmavada of the current Vedanta in which the Purusha, Deva, Ishwara,–supreme Soul, God, Lord,–of the Upanishads all became merged in the one all-swallowing concept of the immutable Brahman; and it has to bring out again from its overshadowing by that concept but not with any denial of it the Yoga idea of the Lord or Ishwara. It has too its own luminous thought to add, the crown of its synthetic system, the doctrine of the Purushottama and of the triple Purusha for which, though the idea is there, no precise and indisputable authority can be easily found in the Upanishads and which seems indeed at first sight to be in contradiction with that text of the Shruti where only two Purushas are recognised.” Other views are also harmonised along the way as the Gita addresses the main lines of Sankhya, Yoga and Vedanta in its integrating view. (Sri Aurobindo, Essays on the Gita) The Synthesis of the Gita If we look past the philosophical details to the underlying focus and action, we can see a lot of similarity between the Vedantic yoga of knowledge and the philosophy of the Sankhya. They both use the power of the intelligence, and the discriminating intellect to determine the underlying truth of existence, regardless of whether they consider that truth to be an illusory Maya or Prakriti consisting of the action of the 3 gunas. Each of them sees liberation as the result of a process of abstraction from involvement in the works of the world, leading to a quiescent opening to a vast, unmoving, silent Reality, however it is actually described or defined. This provides us a basis for the Gita taking up the Sankhya and integrating it with the Vedantic path that is at its core. The Gita adds to this path of knowledge, an emphasis on the value and importance of the Yoga of Works. Sri Aurobindo describes it this way: “But for the Yoga of the Gita, as for the Vedantic Yoga of works, action is not only a preparation but itself the means of liberation; and it is the justice of this view which the Gita seeks to bring out with such an unceasing force and insistence….” The Gita brings about the integration of these diverse paths through a re-defining of the meaning of renunciation: “Renunciation is indispensable, but the true renunciation is the inner rejection of desire and egoism; without that the outer physical abandoning of works is a thing unreal and ineffective, with it it ceases even to be necessary, although it is not forbidden.” Sri Aurobindo summarizes the integrated path of the Gita: “Knowledge is essential, there is no higher force for liberation, but works with knowledge are also needed; by the union of knowledge and works the soul dwells entirely in the Brahmic status not only in repose and inactive calm, but in the very midst and stress and violence of action. Devotion is all-important, but works with devotion are also important; by the union of knowledge, devotion and works the soul is taken up into the highest status of the Ishwara to dwell there in the Purushottama who is master at once of the eternal spiritual calm and the eternal cosmic activity.” (Sri Aurobindo, Essays on the Gita)     Our gratitude to Sri Aurobindo Studies  Originally published hereVisit here for more of Sri Aurobindo’s writings 
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The Evolution of Sankhya
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The Evolution of Sankhya

Sankhya darshana is a distinctive contribution of India to world philosophy. It is a pity that it is not studied globally since it impacts not only metaphysics, but psychology, cosmogony, epistemology and soteriology. And it is one of the singular leaps in human thought that eventually, I believe, led to the flowering of Indic civilization, its world-view, its arts and sciences and its continued uniqueness. Sankhya as propounded by sage Kapila (although we have no extant works from him) see the Universe as the continued interaction of two principles, the Purusha and the Prakriti. The Purusha is the conscious principle, which is inactive, aware and unblemished. The Prakriti is the principle of manifestation, whether in gross or subtle worlds, and all that is mobile and unconscious. There are various theories about its original relationship with Vedanta but it seems to be a precursor, or at least a parallel line of thought, to Vedanta. It is considered by some to be the most ancient Indian darshana that combines all the categories of Nyaya and Vaisesika, its precedent philosophies, into its dualistic framework. It comes to us in its most historical and traditional formulation in Sankhya Karika by Ishvara Krsna, with commentaries later from Gaudapada, Vacaspati Misra and Vijnana Bhiksu as being the most important tikakaars. Sankhya is not only experiential but metaphysical, granular and universal. Prakriti as conceived in its understanding is the eternal, all pervading and uncaused cause, which is subtler than mind and intellect and latent in everything. Prakriti creates mind, buddhi and ego, along with the five bhutas and five tanmatras and the ten senses. Its most important characteristics are that it is unlimited and independent, inherent and unchanged in everything, with same potential in every manifestation, the primal cause of all that exists and of infinite potential in its unmanifest state. It comprises of three gunas, satva, rajas and tamas, which can only be inferred, and are formless and omnipresent. These three gunas interact in each manifestation, change into one another, with the same principles of interaction in the human body as in the mind and the Universe. Rajas can convert satva into tamas and vice versa; satva can bring rajas into balance. Each guna is part of the whole and has its own significance. None may be eschewed, rejected or ignored. Sankhya accepts the principle of Satkaryavada, which means that the effect exists in the cause prior to its manifestation or appearance, says Rajmani Tigunait in his ‘Seven Systems of Indian Philosophy’. And it also accepts the proposition of Parinamvada, which implies that the transformation of cause into effect is real, not illusory. Unlike Charaka, Nyaya, Vaisesika, Buddhism and Jainism, Sankhya does not see Prakriti as comprising of material or subtle atoms but as a subtle cause that is constantly changing in expression.  This Sankhya, as originally propounded, was dualistic and atheistic. And it was Sri Krishna, as far as we know, who transformed it with his genius into a Theistic, pantheistic and monistic darshana. Sri Krishna widened the connotations of the technical terms of the original Sankhya and turned its enumerative and analytical approach into a part of his synthetic and vast vision. He saw the description of Prakriti as unconscious to be applicable only to its lower status, the Apara Prakriti. There is yet a higher Prakriti he said, that is conscious, divine, intelligent, wise, nurturing and intimate. And he called this higher status as the Para Prakriti. It is possible that the development of Tantra as a powerful flowering of Indian darshana was influenced by the introduction of the concept of Para Prakriti. For Tantra, as it developed, elevated this higher understanding of Prakriti, as Shakti or the Divine Mother, to be adored and worshipped and considered even more exalted than Shiva. Sri Krishna also further enumerated the status of Purusha that is involved in lower Prakriti as the Kshara Purusha. The Purusha that frees itself of Prakriti in the individual is that which can never be destroyed or divided, as the primal unit, the Akshara Purusha. Yet, there is an even higher status of the Purusha, the Uttama Purusha, that is universal, that subsumes all the multiple purushas of traditional Sankhya, into a higher unity. That one eternal and pure consciousness that is behind all consciousnesses of the Purushas, the cetanas cetananam of the Upanishads. The Uttama Purusha and the Para Prakriti as the higher stations of the original principles of Sankhya are yet unified in Sri Krishna’s person as the Purushottama, that supreme consciousness that is each and all, transcendent and universal and yet in each smallest atom of existence. Sankhya and yoga are thus brought together in Sri Krishna’s vast synthesis of the Gita. Sankhya, thus, is a yoga that proceeds by knowledge, as explained by Sri Aurobindo in his ‘Essays on the Gita’. And the intellectual, discriminatory, analytic approach of Sankhya is made inclusive, synthetic and malleable by the great Teacher. This permeation of Sankhya and Yoga into a unity of approach that does not exclude work or bhakti or knowledge is his unparalleled contribution to India. Sankhya became integral, poorna, and its principles applicable not only in intellectual realms that tended towards sannyasa, a detachment and movement away from the world, but also towards adoration and worship in bhakti and intense engagement of worldly activities as karma yoga. This was a significant achievement of Indian thought with far-reaching consequences towards making life richer and giving us an understanding of life that is not exclusionary but comprehensive and all-embracing. The final transformation of Sankhya came when Sri Aurobindo took Sri Krishna’s Vedanta forward and brought into it elements of the higher Tantra. When asked to describe his integral or Poorna yoga, Sri Aurobindo called it ‘advaitic in principle and tantric in execution’. He accepted the darshana of the Gita in its entirety and then brought into it the unity and dynamic aspects of Shakti, the Divine Mother, who is the executrix and makes his yoga truly universal and transformative. This introduction of Shakti into the Vedanta of the Gita is not an intellectual exercise but springs from his realization of Brahman in both its static and dynamic aspects and insight into how the Truth-Consciousness shall act on earth plane. Thus, Sankhya not only became even more poorna, but also an integral part of a more unified darshana, that incorporated all the important darshanas of Indic civilization into a single movement of self-transformation and yoga. And Tantra which had been shunned from Indian society as the leftist path, the vama marga, became established in all its dynamis in our lives as part of its own spiritual evolution. Sankhya has been modified and adapted over the last few millennia by some of our greatest spiritual figures, widened, expanded and deepened in their own more complete adhyatma. And it is to the credit of the Indian mind that these remarkable transformations have grown seamlessly in its own journey towards greater and greater establishment of truth in life, mind and body.
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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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Growth of Consciousness
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Growth of Consciousness

The body can change by the power of consciousness from within. In fact, we see this happening more often than we believe. A blind man performs the function of sight by the development of other organs. The consciousness involved in the organ of sight withdraws itself and puts a pressure on other centres and organs for them to develop. Even the normal functioning of the body reveals that the seemingly blind and mechanical movements of the organ-systems are secret with a tremendous intelligence. There is a conscious manipulation, an intelligent adaptation even at the most minute level, in the molecular dealings. Many organs even directly respond to thought suggestions, feelings, desires and emotions, movements which we associate with a certain degree of developed awareness. Quantitatively too, we have already alluded to the fact that the body can be made to do things which appear impossible. And this happens not only as a result of methodical training but also during moments of intense crises. A sense of danger or an overwhelming emotion (conscious experience) triggers a cascade of physical responses through glandular secretions. Perhaps the links are there through ‘nadis’ (subtle nerve sheaths) in the energy body. These subtle nerve sheaths serve to mediate between the universal forces and the individual. They are like so many knots or centres through which the physical consciousness and other levels of consciousness pass into the gross body and influence its behavior and change it. What we observe and record as symptoms are the end point of processes in a chain of events. This was well demonstrated by the famous experiment of Sanger. Two groups of subjects were injected adrenaline. One was shown a pleasant film while the other a horror movie. Adrenaline gave rise to joy in the former group and fear in the latter. Thus the body processes have common pathways to accommodate many types of experiences and forces and vibrations. The difference is not due to the pathways but due to the intensity of the energy-stimulus. The human body has been designed to interpret certain intensities of vibrations and leave out others. Sight for example responds to a very narrow range of visual energies; so with hearing and touch and other senses. Even the sense of pain, pleasure and indifference are a limitation, necessary for the body in our present stage of evolution but not an absolute truth in itself. It is possible to neutralise pain by conscious will. Instances are known wherein people could pierce their tongue with needles, walk on burning coal and not get hurt or burnt. It is also known that our conscious will can modify pain by a certain psychological process into joy. One can go as far as changing the action of a chemical through consciousness. In an experiment, saccharin was paired with cyclophosphamide (an immunosuppressant). Later, cyclophosphamide was removed and only saccharin given. The body still responded with immuno-suppression. Such a learning would not be possible if the body was a fixed structure. In fact the body is much more plastic than we usually believe it to be. It responds wonderfully to psychological forces. Only we do not utilise this capacity and disbelieve this knowledge. Growth – the Physical Dimension To learn how to alter the body processes to our advantage is therefore possible. But for this, two things are necessary. One, we must be able to disengage, discover and develop the powers of the hidden physical consciousness in us. Second, we must rediscover the now lost knowledge which links the body-organ systems to the different levels of consciousness and the effects of their corresponding movements. All physical culture and discipline is essentially a means to develop the physical consciousness and through it make the body strong and healthy, more plastic and adaptable. It is also a means to infuse consciousness into the very cells of the body. Many parts of the body are not yet under conscious voluntary control of the mind or will. It is however possible to do so through the power of suggestion and imagery. Over a period of time, through practice, the body can be made to respond to the power of thought-will in those parts also which are normally not under its control. Just as anastomoses develop to meet the increased demands of oxygen, so too new nerve channels can develop to link up the organ. This is not an impossibility – nerves too are known to respond to necessities of growth. New dendrites are known to develop in the brain to accommodate a greater pressure of information and learning. Yogis less restricted in approach and less conditioned to the idea of physical fixity know this very well. Elaborate techniques (pranayama, for instance) have been developed to clear the nerve channels, open them and create new ones. It is, thus, that through rigorous and painstaking discipline and practice even the most autonomous organs can be brought under conscious control. Not only that but the body can also draw energy directly through the senses and live without food. The art/science of converting this directly drawn energy into gross material substance was however not known and hence a minimal intake of food became necessary to provide the substance for the material stuff of the body. An instance is known in the life of Sri Aurobindo wherein during one such experiment with the body consciousness, he took nothing for 21 days and carried on with hours of walk, regular writing and all other activities without the least diminution of energy. One can also learn to conserve the energy normally lost through sex, speech and other forms of restless, incessant, meaningless dissipative activities transmute it into forms of emotional, vital, mental and spiritual energy for corresponding actions. Growth — the Spiritual Dimension But most of all the consciousness can grow and develop by opening itself to a consciousness higher than the mind. This it can do by two methods. One method is to first bring the body under the control of the mind. Next, one can use the mind as a mediating link by opening it to higher ranges of consciousness through faith, aspiration, invocation or offering. The mind of man can, instead of moving in fixed, narrow circles of conditioning, open to wider and higher movements. Thus, one can bring down the power of ‘peace’ and ‘stillness’ into the body through the mind. Peace and stillness are concrete forces that can actually alter the sense-perception, cancel pain, give a sense of rest and well-being, create conditions of harmony and the early return of balance and health, even effectuate a cure. A disturbance of the body’s normal rhythm can arise due to strong and violent internal forces like anger and fear (observe how our breath becomes irregular under the influence of these movements) or the impact of strong external forces impinging and crowding upon us. Peace, if invoked, restores the inner rhythm by calming the system and its violent upheaval. But it can also create a wall of stillness that separates us and our senses from contact with strongly violent forces that come from outside. Whatever enters the atmosphere of peace and wherever peace penetrates there it creates a quietening effect. Peace however is only one such higher force which our body-mind conglomerate is not normally aware of. There are other even stronger forces that can help the body consciousness to grow and develop—the forces of Wideness, Harmony, Strength, Love, Beauty, Delight and the mysterious and wonderful power of Grace. However the Mind is not the only way through which one can open the body-consciousness to the action of higher forces. The body contains in itself its own principle of divinity and if one can, through practice learn to still the body and concentrate its energy on a point, a moment comes when the physical consciousness is disengaged and can directly open to higher forces. This originally was the principle of Hatha Yoga. But it requires a very arduous, painstaking difficult and time-consuming labour. The method of opening through the mind is easier and swifter. Apart from these two methods is the discovery of the secret soul, the psychic being within oneself. This is the divine principle in man, the secret psychological centre which is the key to everything else. It holds all the movements of our complex nature together. Once discovered, the psychic being can spontaneously bring the body into contact with the highest forces to which even the mind and life in us has no access. Our body has learned to respond to ignorant forces like fear, desire, pain and pleasure, greed and lust. The price it pays for this contagion is a wearing out, exhaustion, premature decay, disease and illness. But it can also learn to open to the influence of higher forces and develop harmoniously and function smoothly under their pressure. For a fuller understanding of the process of a consciousness approach to health and healing, we have to turn for a while towards understanding of the principle and power of consciousness itself. Source of Consciousness We have been referring to a higher as well as lower consciousness and its action upon the body. All this may present a picture as if there are different types of consciousness and also that the body is different from the consciousness. This may be true from a strictly pragmatic point of view. It is also easier for our sense-experience mind to understand things by contrast and comparison. But it is not the whole truth of the matter and leaves many gaps and unresolved questions. The original truth is essentially oneness, whatever we call it. Yet, right up to the atom we find differentiation and differences (even the constituting charges are not one but two or three or more). This problem arises because we have been working the creation backwards. But once we open to the other end of the experience we see that the roots of creation are not in the atomic void but elsewhere. We then begin to discover through hidden faculties that at the origin there is something that nothing can describe. It is supremely undifferentiated, an infinite and eternal, concealing or showing itself through infinite ways. No law can be made of it, no symbol or language or formula describe it. It simply ‘is’ or ‘is not’. The ancients gave it the name of ‘Parabrahman’—the Reality that transcends all and yet contains all. Consciousness is the power of this Reality. The one consciousness becomes many by a process of differentiation and concentration or we may say absorption and involution. Thus, we have the many levels and layers of ‘consciousness’ arising out of the one consciousness, yet supported by it. Thus is also created a hierarchy of planes’ and substances’ and energies and systems of worlds that finally precipitate themselves into the atomic void or gross matter as we know it. Thus matter and its processes are the last step, in the process of differentiation and involution making them dense and limited. So an emergence out of it brings forth all the hidden possibilities. Each hidden possibility that emerges alters matter, making it more pliable, capable and subtle. This is another process of evolution. The Evolutionary Transformation of the Body A perfectly healthy body as we envisage it now is a body fit, open and receptive to higher forces. Short of it there is only an absence of disease or its presence. The concept of health has shifted therefore from a passive to a dynamic one. Passive adaptation is the equilibrium that Nature creates between the organism and the world around it. Evolution follows by a temporary dissolution of this equilibrium! An active adaptation would therefore mean the ability of the body to not only survive but also to evolve by a collaboration with nature. The stress of survival is born because of a sense of separateness. Each organism therefore tries to overpower or ‘outsmart’ others in the competitive game of life. This leads to an equal adaptive reaction in other forms of life that assert their right to existence. The individual unit, holds out for a while against the rest, but, sooner or later succumbs as it must, since no individual form of life can be greater than the whole. But while the individual form cannot be greater than the whole, the individual can rediscover its link with the whole and thus arrive at a new mode of mastery. Elimination versus Assimilation If we step back from our excessive preoccupation with the individual forms and their differences, we find that all life is essentially one. So, as evolution proceeds, clash and strife are replaced more and more by assimilation, accommodation and transmutation. Growth, at a lesser level assumes the appearance of eliminative competition. Growth, at a higher level, assumes the appearance of acceptance and assimilation. At present, our body has developed capacities to fight and reject whatever is to it ‘not self’. In future, the body will develop the capacity to absorb and change the disparate elements into a harmonious element. But for this, we have to discover a new station of consciousness. Out of the strong separative sense, we have to grow into wholeness and oneness. Out of division and knowledge based upon division we have to grow into oneness and knowledge based upon unity. Obviously, there will be a period of transition and its attendant difficulties but once the body has discovered the new mode of functioning based upon oneness, there will the power of spontaneous immunity rather than simply a power to cure. A Newer Reality Thus seen, we understand many happenings in this world in a new way. The human body, on the one hand is being forced to bear the onslaught of a large number of toxins and poisons as never before. Bacteria and viruses have taken a backseat. There are enough self-generated poisons: the industrial wastes, nuclear fall outs, drugs, insecticides, cosmetics (to name just a few), that threaten to eliminate the entire race. Or challenge it to evolve! At another level, there are scientific studies to work on the oneness of physical matter. Organ transplants, cloning, breaking of biological boundaries through cross matings are all obscure ways through which a subconscious foundation for oneness is being laid. All this should not be taken to mean that this crisis is a good thing for there are simpler, safer, direct and better ways to evolve towards oneness. But Nature has taken this risky, bumping course only because man refuses to admit a straight, smooth road to evolution. Everything in us resists the evolutionary pressure and most of this resistance comes from our notion of distinct separateness that makes us blind to everything else in the universe. Yet, man can collaborate in this great transition and evolutionary transformation of the body. How? That is the secret Sri Aurobindo had set about to discover in the ‘cave of tapasya’ at Pondicherry. He saw it with the lens of truth-vision that awakens in the yogi and the seer. The Mother practically applied this ‘secret’ on her own body. It is hardly possible to describe their yoga of the body-cells here. The true understanding however grows only through experience or identification with the truths thrown as powerful hints. Sri Aurobindo writes, “The essential purpose and sign of the growing evolution here is the emergence of consciousness in an apparently inconscient universe,…. As we rise we have to open to them our lower members and fill these with those superior and supreme dynamisms of light and power; the body we have to make a more and more and even entirely conscious frame and instrument, a conscious sign and seal and power of the spirit. As it grows in this perfection, the force and extent of its dynamic action and its response and service to the spirit must increase, the control of the spirit over it also must grow and the plasticity of its functioning both in its developed and acquired parts of power and in its automatic responses down to those that are now purely organic and seem to be the movements of a mechanic inconscience.”[1]   Reprinted with permission from Dr. Alok Pandey First printed here  Publications
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The Message of Sri Aurobindo
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The Message of Sri Aurobindo

Sri Aurobindo was a political and social rebel and in the process of his transformation to a sage delineated highly inspiring supramental pathways to the future and Indian resurgence. Why is it that of all the great civilisations that arose on this planet 5000-7000 years ago, it is perhaps the Indian civilisation alone that has continued unbroken down the long and tortuous corridors of time? There were other great civilisations that were even older, with magnificent structures and ruins, but these civilisations have disappeared. It is India alone and, to some extent China, that has maintained this continuity. The reason seems to lie in two remarkable facts. First, there has been a spiritual and philosophical foundation for Indian culture provided by the Vedas, Upanishads or the Vedanta that has sustained Indian culture even in the most terrible and tragic circumstances. This has constantly given Indian culture the capacity for regeneration and renewal over time. Second, a series of great men and women have articulated these truths. These philosophical truths are not merely intellectual constructs, but have been an inspiration for people in their daily lives. If one looks at Indian history from the very dawn of civilisation, one will constantly see this phenomenon of challenge and response – the Vedas, the Upanishads, the great teachings of Mahavira and Buddha, the South Indian acharyas, the Bhakti movement in the medieval times, and even down to the present age, there have been a series of resurgence, as it were. The latest one is known as the Indian renaissance, which began in the nineteenth century and swept to a triumphant conclusion by the middle of the twentieth century. The Indian Renaissance The Indian renaissance is a very complex set of phenomena. It was triggered off largely by the British rule, and at one stage after 1857 or the “Indian mutiny”, now called the “first war of independence”, India lay crushed and broken at the feet of the conqueror. It appeared as if Indian culture was at last going to be extinguished. But once again the miracle of regeneration took place, and within only 90 years, from 1857 to 1947, there was a whole movement of revival and renaissance and India became free. It is clear that all these movements had a spiritual background. Sri Aurobindo said, ‘All great movements of life in India have begun with the new spiritual thought and usually a new religious activity.’ To quote Jawaharlal Nehru’s foreword in the author’s book on Sri Aurobindo: ‘It is significant to note that great political mass movements in India have had a spiritual background behind them.’ The real inspiration has been spiritual. One cannot go into the details about the renaissance; there were many streams. There were the early social reformers, such as Raja Rammohan Roy, Devendranath Tagore, Kesub Chandra Sen, Ishwar Chandra Vidyasagar, R K Bhandarkar and M G Ranade in Maharashtra, Swami Dayanand Saraswati in Punjab. There were also Orientalists, great British scholars, who made tremendous contribution to the rediscovery of our heritage, namely James Prince, Monier Williams, Sir William James and Alexander Cunningham. There were the spiritual giants as well, such as Sri Ramakrishna, Swami Vivekananda and a whole group of fellow monks. It is interesting that the renaissance in India coincided with the setting up of the Indian National Congress in 1885 by an Englishman, Allen Octavian Hume. The Indian National Congress became the main vehicle for the renaissance movement and political freedom. This political movement saw two sets of great leaders. There were the early revolutionaries, and later a set of leaders led by Mahatma Gandhi who were ultimately responsible for bringing about freedom. While the latter set is better known, it is important to remember that the foundations for Gandhiji’s work were laid by the earlier stalwarts. The Congress was divided very quickly into two groups; the divisions in the Congress are not new but very old. One group was known as the moderates, among whom included Pherozeshah Mehta, Dadabhai Naoroji, Gopal Krishna Gokhale and other great but moderate people; the other group included the radicals led by Bal Gangadhar Tilak, Bipin Chandra Pal, Lala Lajpat Rai and Sri Aurobindo. Aurobindo’s Life: Political and Spiritual Activism Sri Aurobindo’s life can be divided into two clear phases. The first relates to political activism and the second to spiritual activism. He was born in 1872 in Calcutta. At the age of seven he was sent to study in England where he spent the next 14 years. He was a brilliant student and scholar at school and at King’s College, Cambridge, where he won prizes for Greek and Latin. While in England, he was deeply influenced by two well-known revolutionary movements. First, the Sinn Fein movement in Ireland that had spearheaded the movement for Irish freedom under Charles Parnell and Eamen de’Velara. Second, the resurgomento in Italy, the great movement for the reunification of Italy led by Matsini, Garibaldi and other great revolutionary leaders. Sri Aurobindo came under the influence of these revolutionary movements and started a society called “The Lotus and the Dagger” in Cambridge. Though he was urged by his family to take the ICS examination, luckily for all of us, he declined to do so; otherwise he would have probably ended up as a deputy commissioner of Thiruchirapalli. While this would have been good for Tiruchirapalli, India would have lost the greatest philosopher of this century. Maharaja Sayajirao Gaekwad of Baroda used to visit England every year to select outstanding young people to join his service. On meeting the 20-year Sri Aurobindo he immediately offered him a job in the Baroda College. Sri Aurobindo returned to India in 1893, a year of powerful synchronisation when Swami Vivekananda sailed from east to west to attend the Chicago World Parliament of Religions, and Sri Aurobindo sailed from the west back to the east. It was also the same year when Mahatma Gandhi sailed from London to Durban to start his career. Having returned to India to join the Baroda service, Sri Aurobindo immediately set about writing on politics. A brilliant writer, his first series of articles was published in a journal called Indu Prakash, in which he castigated the moderate leadership of the Congress. He said that their policy of prayer, petition and protest would lead nowhere. What was needed was a revolutionary movement against the British. A born revolutionary, Sri Aurobindo revolted against the British and the Congress leadership. While writing his articles he was secretly in touch with the revolutionary movement in Bengal. The revolutionary movement was the strongest in Bengal and Maharashtra. Since Bengal was the first state to feel the impact of the British rule, the genius of the Bengali people threw up an extraordinary galaxy of outstanding spiritual, scientific, intellectual, and literary figures, many of whom were revolutionaries. Sri Aurobindo’s brother Barindra Ghosh and Khudiram Bose were leaders of the revolutionary movement in Bengal. Sri Aurobindo led a double life: on the one hand, he was a professor in Baroda, while on the other hand, he was secretly in touch with revolutionary movements. In 1905 an event occurred that changed the course of Indian history and the freedom movement. This was the Partition of Bengal by Lord Curzon, known as Banga bhanga, which immediately created a tremendous reaction in the whole of India and particularly in Bengal. The whole of Bengal galvanised into activity. Sri Aurobindo resigned his job in Baroda and moved to Calcutta. For five years, from 1905 to 1910, he shone like a meteor in the political firmament of India. His writings in Bande Mâtaram and the Karmayogin are unparalleled in their power. He became a vociferous leader of the radical movement. The Congress moved towards a split in 1906 in Calcutta. In 1907 in Surat a crisis in the Congress led to a break between the moderates and the radicals. The moderates met under Pherozeshah Mehta, while the radicals met under Sri Aurobindo’s chairmanship; they continued their activities. The British came down very heavily upon the radicals, who were hostile towards them. Sri Aurobindo was arrested in the Alipore Bomb Conspiracy Case and was sent to jail for a year in 1908. In fact, it was in jail that he had his first major spiritual experience which later changed his life; after 1910 Sri Aurobindo moved on to a new realm. Spiritual Nationalism During these five years 1905-1910, he articulated a coherent and powerful theory of political action. The first part of Sri Aurobindo’s message could be called spiritual nationalism that is based on two or three key concepts. The first is the concept of the nation. For Sri Aurobindo, the nation was not only a political construct, it was in fact a divinity. It was Bhavâni Bhârati, Mother India. And it was a divinity into which one had to be prepared to offer everything as a sacrifice so that one could be freed from bondage imposed by foreigners. So his fiery and flaming nationalism was because he looked upon the nation as a living goddess. In his writings, he refers to Bhavâni Mahishamardini and how the power of the people of India is expressed in terms of the great goddess. In the story of the goddess in the Puranas, all the devas pooled their weapons when they were overcome by the asuras, but could not defeat the asura individually and independently. They pooled their weapons and out of that pool of energy, the goddess arose riding on the lion with ashtâdash bhujâ, eighteen arms, each arm holding one weapon belonging to the different gods. In other words, she was the symbol of the collective aspiration and power of the Indian nation. That was his concept of the nation. Sri Aurobindo’s concept of nationalism also was not merely political activity but a great and holy yajnya, as he put it for national emancipation. Everything that was done at that time was done as an offering to the divine. That is what made a tremendously powerful impact upon the younger generation, particularly at that time. He was the first thinker in India, who had a clear appreciation of the role of the masses, and the role of the proletariat. This was in 1893, long before the Marxist-Leninist revolution in the Soviet Union. According to him the proletariat may appear to be docile and immobile, but whoever succeeds in understanding the proletariat and arousing them will be master of India’s destiny. This was a very important concept, because sometimes the freedom movement has been called “bhadraloka movement” or elitist movement. Among the radical group, Sri Aurobindo was the first person to take the movement out of the drawing room and conference room on to the streets, minds and hearts of the Indian people. Previously, the moderates would draw up beautifully drafted resolutions requesting the British government to give them dominion status. That is not the way that the radicals saw it. As a radical Sri Aurobindo was the exponent of the ideological concept of the poorna swarâjya theme. As Lokmanya Tilak said, ‘Swarâj is my birthright and I will have it.’ Being a political theorist and having lived for 14 years in the west, Sri Aurobindo realised that political theory without a plan of action was meaningless for the achievement of this goal. Therefore he developed a two-pronged strategy to achieve this goal. One was a link with the revolutionary movement, namely a violent revolutionary movement. There is a great difference between Sri Aurobindo and Mahatma Gandhi. Mahatma Gandhi put non-violence as an absolute factor, an absolute imperative, but this was not so with Sri Aurobindo and the radicals. Sri Aurobindo once wrote that if one’s mother is being strangled and cannot breathe, then one is fully justified in using force in order to break that stranglehold upon her. Hence, Sri Aurobindo never had any hesitation about using force. While the radicals did not preach violence, the use of force as a legitimate instrument to achieve national freedom and national emancipation was justified as the basic tenets of the radicals. Sri Aurobindo was very clear that he was, in fact, the guru, the spiritual inspirer of this band of revolutionaries. At that time the power of the state was not as overwhelming as it is today. The possibility of some kind of a revolt in the army was still possible. It must not be forgotten that 1857 had taken place only 35-40 years before all this happened. And so this was one part of his programme. The other aspect of his strategy was an elaborate theory of boycott. The common perception is that boycott was something which Gandhiji invented. This is not true. The theory of boycott was first put forward by Sri Aurobindo in his luminous writings at the turn of the century between 1905 and 1910. He advocated economic boycott and the correlate swadeshi; educational boycott and the correlate national educational system. In fact, he was the principal of the National Education College, Jadavpur, now known as the Jadavpur University. He talked of judicial boycott and the setting up of national arbitration courts. At the same time he also referred to executive boycott and the setting up of a national organisation for self-government. As a sanction he talked of social boycott. In this way he evolved a whole theory. However, it did not work at that time, because he was far ahead of his times. It did not work but he had a complete theory of how to achieve independence. The theory revolved around the whole concept of boycott and the setting up of an alternative, not merely a negative boycott; with each negative boycott he had a positive plan as well. Consequently, his vision was a combination of remarkable idealism and a practical programme of action – a very rare combination. Usually people who are idealistic have very little time for the nitty-gritty of organisation, while those involved with the organisation do not have enough time to dream. Sri Aurobindo was one of those extraordinary minds who was able to comprehend both elements of the movement. Another point that is very important to remember is that Sri Aurobindo always placed India’s freedom in the larger context of the destiny of the human race. This fact is most remarkable because revolutionaries talk only about their own country. However, Sri Aurobindo always had a deeper vision of what India should do for humanity. In fact, he said that India has to be free in order that it can play its role in the emancipation of the human race. Sri Aurobindo was not chauvinist; he did not look upon Indian freedom as an end in itself. The remarkable coincidence is that India achieved independence on Sri Aurobindo’s seventy-first birthday, that is August 15, 1947. The first phase of Sri Aurobindo’s message is one of spiritual nationalism; the message that the nation is a spiritual power, the goddess, the message that nationalism is a spiritual imperative. It is not any longer a question of choice or another career, or another thing to do; it is something that has an inner imperative, because it is only possible to fulfil one’s dharma if one does it. It is a message of clear-cut political thinking and organisation of how to defeat the most mighty empire the world had ever known through a combination of activities, both violent underground and non-violent overground; a vision of a regenerated India, a vision that is the link between the first phase of Sri Aurobindo’s life and the second phase and image of India that would play a major role in the emancipation. The Alipore Bomb Conspiracy Case is an interesting event in Sri Aurobindo’s life. Oddly enough, the judge who tried him, Justice Beech Croft had been with him in Cambridge. It was a tribute to the British system of justice that although it was quite clear that Sri Aurobindo was involved, and there was no doubt about it, they could not find adequate proof, so they released him. However, Deshbandhu Chittaranjan Das was sitting in his room when he read in the papers that Sri Aurobindo was arrested. He moved the court and took up defence of Sri Aurobindo. Sri Aurobindo was totally detached, because when he went to jail (what he called his ‘âshram-vâs’), he had a great vision of Sri Krishna. The quote from C R Das: ‘my appeal to you is this, that long after the controversy will be hushed in silence, long after his turmoil and agitation will be ceased, long after he is dead and gone, he will be looked upon as the poet of patriotism, as the prophet of nationalism, and the lover of humanity. Long after he is dead and gone, his words will have echoed and re-echoed not only in India, but across distant seas and lands. Therefore, I say that the man in his position is not only standing before the bar of this court, but before the bar of the high court of history.’ It is easier to write about the first part of Sri Aurobindo’s life because it was on the surface, largely on the surface. The second half of his life is much more difficult. He suddenly left Bengal in 1910. He went first to Chandranagore and then to Pondicherry in 1910 and for 40 years he did not move out of Pondicherry. He lived the rest of his life there and in the course of these 40 years he produced some of the most remarkable works of this century. His Collected Works have been published in 30 volumes. His great books, The Life Divine, Essays on the Gita, The Human Cycle, Synthesis of Yoga and his great poem Savitri, stand as monumental literary and spiritual achievements. It is a formidable corpus of work which covers every aspect of life, because Sri Aurobindo always used to say, all life is yoga; there is no aspect of life which is not included in yoga because his yoga was an integral yoga covering all elements of the human personality. It is not easy to approach his work during this period. He was a poet. Apart from Savitri, which is a very long poem, he wrote short poems as well as a beautiful one called WHO. The great concepts of the Vedanta, all pervasiveness of the divine, the light of all lights – tameva bhântamanubhâti sarvam, tasya bhâsa sarvamidam vibhâti – all of these are projected by Sri Aurobindo in his own unique manner. Ever since he returned to India, he had a series of spiritual experiences – one in Baroda soon after he returned; and another one in Kashmir in the Shankaracharya temple while he was walking. He had a vision of “the vacant infinite” as he calls it. He started practising yoga in Baroda with a Maharashtrian yogi, Vishu Bhaskar Lele; he had this great transformative vision of Sri Krishna in the Alipore jail, when he looked upon everything, he saw – the jailer, wardens, fellow prisoners, the judge, the jury – all of them appeared to be animators of Sri Krishna. When he came to Pondicherry, he started developing his own comprehensive theory: his earlier work can be called “spiritual nationalism”, while his later work could be called “spiritual evolution”. He was par excellence “an evolutionary philosopher”. That is the key to an understanding of Sri Aurobindo’s work, and that is what sets him apart from the other great rishis and teachers that India has produced. Spiritual Evolution Aurobindo’s theory of cosmo genesis, his theory of the creation of the cosmos is that pure consciousness plunges into the other pole which is the inert matter, seemingly inert matter. It is the plunge of consciousness into matter that really starts the process of creation. It could be called a spiritual big bang because the big bang is not simply something coming out of nothing. Obviously if all of this is involved in consciousness, then consciousness must have existed; it plunges into the other extreme, and then the long flow of evolutionary development begins. Sri Aurobindo talks of the three billion years of pre-biological evolution, primitive life-forms and a billion years of biological evolution through various forms and then up through the ascending chain, when the mind begins to appear after a long, long gap. The human race begins to develop on this planet, consciousness begins to grow gradually and slowly consciousness begins to dawn. Stanley Rubric’s great film 2001 Space Oddysey, based upon a short story by Arthur C Clarke graphically shows the apes and the sudden leap into human consciousness. So from mineral, vegetable, animal to human forms, these are all developing on this planet. Sri Aurobindo lays great stress on the planet because he feels that this planet is a special crucible for the evolution of consciousness. With the advent of man or human beings, there is for the first time a being that is self-conscious. In other words, conscious of being conscious. With the development of the human mind, for the first time there is a creature that is self-conscious, and therefore, for the first time there is a new evolutionary possibility. The advent of human consciousness marks an important step in the adventure of consciousness on planet earth. According to Sri Aurobindo, man is not the end product of evolution. Man is simply an intermediate creature, between the animal and the divine. In the same way as evolution has come up for mineral, vegetable, animal to human consciousness, according to Sri Aurobindo, the evolutionary thrust will necessarily proceed to the next step which would be the movement from the mental to the supramental, and from man to superman. This is the critical point to understand in Sri Aurobindo’s philosophy; there are implications to it. The first implication is that whereas previously evolution was blind in as much as plants did not have any particular role to play in evolution, or fish did not have any real role to play, it was a sort of a natural instinctive evolution. But with the advent of man, for the first time, there is a creature on planet earth that can cooperate consciously with the force of evolution. This is the great difference. Evolution need no longer be blind and instinctive. Human beings are endowed with consciousness that enables them to cooperate with the evolutionary thrust. And thereby perhaps, speed up and telescope what, otherwise would have taken another billion years into a much shorter time span. The concept that has evolved is that man is an intermediate creature between the animal and the divine, and is endowed with consciousness that enables him to cooperate with the forces of evolution. A Practitioner of Integral Yoga In his political thought, Sri Aurobindo had put forward a brilliant theory of nation and nationalism and a methodology for achieving it. In the case of his spiritual theory he did the same thing. Basically, Sri Aurobindo was not a theorist, but a yogi; he was the pioneer of the supramental. In the first part of his life he was a prophet of Indian nationalism, and in the second half of his life, he was a pioneer of the supramental. Through his own sâdhana, and yogic practices and with the help of the Mother, who was a very powerful spiritual figure in her own right and his spiritual collaborator, Sri Aurobindo gradually developed and perfected what he called the “integral yoga”. According to him, it is the integral yoga which can enable us to move from the present fractured, fragmented and disoriented state of our consciousness to a much clearer and sharper focus of our psyche and ultimately a breakthrough into the higher consciousness. It is important to remember that Sri Aurobindo was not a theoretical philosopher. He was a yogi, a practitioner of integral yoga who looked upon himself as the path finder, as somebody who has gone where nobody else had ever been. In trying to clear the way, he had to undergo sâdhana and tremendous spiritual and psychological and physical strain. For 40 years he lived in one house, and in one room for 25 years without ever leaving the room. The astounding thing was that a man like Sri Aurobindo, with a brilliant mind, a great activist, effectively shut himself off from the rest of the world and with his sâdhana developed the whole concept of the integral yoga. In all his books, he describes in great detail the difficulties he encountered on his path, and what is to be done. Yoga cannot be described in words; it has to be experienced, but basically it involves the quest for what he calls the psychic being. The psychic being, in some way, would be what in traditional Hindu thought would be the atman, the divinity within us. Sri Aurobindo has analysed the physical dimension, the psychological dimension of what he calls a vital, emotional dimension, the psychological dimension and then the other deeper dimensions of the human body. His integral yoga brings together the four traditional yogas of Hindu philosophy and religious striving: the Jnana yoga (the way of wisdom), the Bhakti yoga (the way of devotion), Karma yoga (the way of words), and Raj yoga (the way of spiritual practices), and inner development. Sri Aurobindo brings these together in an extraordinary way and is able, therefore, to put before us the integral yoga with all its difficulties. He has never underestimated the difficulties involved. He talks about the negative, hostile and dark forces that are constantly trying to obstruct the descent of the light. And yet he has ultimately overcome it. Three movements in his yoga can be identified. The first would be an entire surrender of all the elements of life to a total and integral surrender to the divine, not only a psychological surrender, but a physical, emotional and a psychic surrender. Second, an ascent of consciousness to the supramental realm. The absorption of the light and the power of the supramental. Third, the return to earth with the light of the supramental. This is really where Sri Aurobindo’s teachings are different from most other traditional teachings. The concept of rising into higher levels of consciousness and going out in ecstasy is well established in Vedanta; it is not new. In fact, that is the goal of Vedanta, of spiritual striving, to join the atman and the brahman just as the dew drop slips into the shining sea to become one with the ocean of light. But it is important to remember and this is a key concept in Sri Aurobindo that his goal was not individual salvation. His goal was not even a collective salvation; it was nothing short of a divination of matter, a transmutation of terrestrial consciousness. It is an astounding goal, amazing in its audacity. He revolted against the British, the Congress, and the texture of matter itself. He was not satisfied with this matter and felt it had got to change, and the only way to change the texture of the matter, molecular or otherwise, is to bring down the light and the power of supramental to bear upon terrestrial consciousness. That was the key. And bringing down that light – a riddle like Prometheus in the Greek myth – brings down the first from heaven. Similarly, Sri Aurobindo sought to bring down the supramental fire and make it operative on earth. That was in fact his main task; nothing less than the creation of a new heaven and a new earth. That is why we have to understand the dimensions of what Sri Aurobindo was trying to do in collaboration with the Mother. The only parallel in our tradition is the story of Vishwamitra. Vishwamitra, dissatisfied with the present creation began his own srishti, a new creation, but of course, Menaka intervened and his new creation never took place. Bharat was born after whom our nation is called Bhârat, but the idea of Vishwamitra existed. Vishwamitra’s ideas were to create a new srishti, a new creation. Sri Aurobindo’s concept was not so much of a new creation, as a transmutation of this creation into a new dimension. This is the strength and a tremendous power and sweep of Sri Aurobindo’s writings. Sri Aurobindo’s Essays on the Gita is masterly; one does not have to accept his theory of supramental transformation to take advantage of his tremendously powerful writings on the Gita, the Upanishads, our social, political problems, education and health. His genius illuminated the intellectual landscape. But if you are to follow or understand what his peculiar contribution to philosophy has been, then one has to realise it has been this theory of evolutionary spiritualism, supramentalisation and consciousness on planet earth; it is only this ultimate according to Sri Aurobindo. When this new dimension comes about, there will be final reconciliation between matter and spirit, inner and the outer light, thinking and feeling, being and doing, and between the kinetic and the quiet elements of the human psyche. None of the problems of the world can be solved unless there is a leap in the new consciousness. There have been great rishis, seers and avataras who have done great things, but they left the world pretty much as it was when they came in. He said he was not satisfied with that. He wanted to create a new world, change the texture of this world, and change matter itself. Matter itself will be divinised according to Sri Aurobindo, once the supramental light begins its full efflorescence on planet earth. In this process, Madame Alfasa, Mira Alfasa, the Mother, was a remarkable woman, who was already involved in a great deal of spiritual activity. She came to Pondicherry and became Sri Aurobindo’s spiritual collaborator. When Sri Aurobindo passed away on December 5, 1950, the Mother continued his work for another quarter of a century. She, in fact, recorded that February 29, 1956, which is a leap day, was the golden day, a day on which supramental finally descended on the planet. Aurobindo Ashram, the new experiment of Auroville, an international, inter-cultural, multi-religious, multi-racial township in Tamil Nadu set up by the Mother is based on the teachings of Sri Aurobindo. Sri Aurobindo was a remarkable person who began his life as a student in England, came back as a teacher to Baroda, moved as a revolutionary to Calcutta, then went on to become the greatest philosopher of this century in Pondicherry. His shikshabhoomi was England, his karmabhoomi was Baroda, krantibhoomi Calcutta and his yogabhoomi Pondicherry. In his message on August 15, 1947, he says: ‘August 15, 1947 is the birthday of free India. It marks for her the end of an old era, the beginning of a new age, but we can also make it by our own life and acts as a free nation, an important date in a new age opening to the whole world for the political, social, cultural and spiritual future of humanity. August 15 is my own birthday and it is naturally gratifying to me that it should have assumed this vast difference. I take this coincidence not as a fortuitous accident, but as the sanction and seal of the divine force that guides my steps on the work with which I began life, the beginning of its full fruition. Indeed on this day, he says, I can watch almost all the world movements which I hope to see fulfilled in my lifetime; though then they looked like impracticable dreams arriving at fruition or on their way to achievement. In all these movements, free India may well play a large part and take a leading position.’ He then goes on to talk about his five dreams. The first dream was a revolutionary movement for a free and united India, and he laments the fact that although India is free, it is not united. He says the partition must go, and ultimately there must be unity. Whether that happens through SAARC which is my interpretation, or some kind of a regional organisation or whatever. The second was a resurgence and liberation of the peoples of Asia and he says that also was nearing completion since the colonial age has come to an end. The third was a world union for all mankind and that is what, in fact, we are all striving for now with a global society. The fourth was a spiritual gift of India to the world and he speaks about this, the spiritual gift, and finally, the evolutionary step to a higher and a larger consciousness.   Our gratitude to Dr. Karan SinghDr. Singh on FB 
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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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