Guiding Light of The Month

I feel as though I have done nothing yet, as though I have not lived the spiritual life, only entered the path that leads to it, it seems to me that I know nothing, that I am incapable of formulating anything, that all experience is yet to begin. - The Mother

Happy new year 2009


Flowers of the month

Perfect New Creation

Clustered, manifold and complete, it asserts its right to be.

Common Name: White, double tuberose
Botanical Name: Polianthes tuberosa
Spiritual Name: Perfect New Creation

The new world


The result of transformation.

Common Name: Annatto, Lipstick tree, Achiote
Botanical Name: Bixa orellana
Spiritual Name: The New World

A New Year – A New Beginning

Each year a mile upon the heavenly Way,
Each dawn opens into a larger Light.



THERE IS ALWAYS LIGHT IN ME
BRINGS ME NEARER THE SUPREME
ONLY I CAN FEEL, SMELL, BREATHE
SEE THE BEAUTIFUL COLOURS
SPREAD OVER MY ENTIRE BODY
IT IS AN AURA AROUND ME, A SHIELD
THE LIGHT IN ME MAKES ME GLOW
MAKES ME SPARKLE DURING MY CONVERSATION WITH GOD ONLY HE CAN SEE THIS WONDERFUL BEAUTIFUL MIRACULOUS
LIGHT WITHIN ME
BEING ALONE WITH THE ALONE


I WAKE IN THE MORNING TO SEE THE BEAUTIFUL SUN
THE SUNRAYS PROVIDE VITAMIN D FOR ME
THE BIRDS AND THE BEES AND ALL THINGS SMALL AND BIG WELCOME THE SUN
THE TREES, FLOWERS AND BRANCHES SWAY TO AND FRO
BREATHING IN THE RAYS OF THE SUN
FROM MY PRIVATE DISCOVERY, IT BECOMES PART OF ME
LAUGHTER BUBBLES WITHIN TO SEE THE SUN SHINING ON ME
OH! HE IS SO GREAT AND MIGHTY THAT NOBODY DARES NEAR HIM
HE IS FIRM AND FRIENDLY TO ALL LIVING THINGS
HE IS SO BEAUTIFUL SPREADING HIS RAYS ALL OVER THE SKY
OH! BEAUTIFUL SUN I SIMPLY LOVE YOU
WITHOUT YOU I WILL SURELY DIE

Sri Rajes is a self-made artist who tries to express her inner movements on canvas, with mixed media. She paints for leisure and undertakes painting lessons for all those who wish to open themselves to a higher level of creativity through this art form. She believes that there is an artist hidden in everyone, without exception.

Mother's prayer: January 2nd 1915


It is true to say that the divisions of time are purely arbitrary, that the date assigned to the renewal of the year varies according to the latitude, the climate, the customs, and that it is purely conventional. This is the mental attitude which smiles at the childishness of men and wants to let itself be guided by profounder truths. And then suddenly the mind itself feels its powerlessness to translate these truths precisely, and, renouncing all wisdom of this kind, it lets the song of the aspiring heart arise, the heart for which every circumstance is an opportunity for a deeper, vaster and more intense aspiration…. The year of the West renews itself; why not profit by it to will with renewed ardour that this symbol should become a reality and the deplorable things of the past give place to things which must exist in all glory?

(An extract from Mother’s Prayers and Meditations of January 2nd, 1915)

Mother's prayer: January 1, 1914

To Thee, supreme Dispenser of all boons, to Thee who givest life its justification, by making it pure, beautiful and good to Thee, Master of our destinies and goal of all our aspirations, was consecrated the first minute of this new year.

May it be completely glorified by this consecration; may those who hope for Thee, seek Thee in the right path; may those who seek Thee find Thee, and those who suffer, not knowing where the remedy lies, feel Thy life gradually piercing the hard crust of their obscure consciousness.

I bow down in deep devotion and in boundless gratitude before Thy beneficent splendour; in the name of the earth I give Thee thanks for manifesting Thyself; in its name I implore Thee to manifest Thyself ever more fully, in an uninterrupted growth of Light and Love.

Be the sovereign Master of our thoughts, our feelings, our actions.

Thou art our reality, the only Reality.

Without Thee all is falsehood and illusion, all is dismal obscurity.
In Thee are life and light and joy.
In Thee is supreme Peace.

(“Mother’s Prayers and Meditations”, Sri Aurobindo Ashram, Pondicherry)

Question of the month

Q : The world is preparing for a big change. Will you help?

How should we help the big change in the world, about which
your New Year’s Message speaks?


The best way of helping is to let the Consciousness that has come down upon the earth work in you for transformation


(9th January, 1970- CWM- Centenary Edition, Sri Aurobindo Ashram Trust 1980, published by Sri Aurobindo Ashram, Pondicherry 605002)

From Savitri

Source, http://photo.plasmanet.tv/

The middle path is made for the thinking man.
To choose his steps by reason’s vigilant light,
To choose his path among the many paths
Is given him, for each his difficult goal
Hewn out of infinite possibility.
Leave not thy goal to follow a beautiful face.
Only when thou hast climbed above thy mind
And livst in the calm vastness of the One
Can love be eternal in the eternal bliss
And Love divine replace the human tie.
There is a shrouded law, an austere force:
It bids thee strengthen thy undying spirit;
It offers its severe benignances
Of work and thought and measured grave delight
As steps to climb to God’s far secret heights.
Then is our life a tranquil pilgrimage,
Each year a mile upon the heavenly Way,
Each dawn opens into a larger Light.

Editorial

We are approaching an important landmark in time with the close of this year and the beginning of the next. The 1st decade of the 2nd millennium would draw to a close soon, in two years’ time, before the blink of an eye. However, before that, one more full year has to be lived and lived well. As 2009 stands poised at our door steps with all her bounties, 2008 cries for a review and a valediction. As all years, this too has been a unique year, in its own right. As usual, many wars were fought, both up front and from the back door. Many casualties in terms of deaths and injuries added up, as usual, to mere numbers on some politician’s desk, or in the print of a journalists’ well meaning article; scientific discoveries were made, paving the path for miraculous cures some years down the road, as patents are sought and the drugs subject to a series of tests, both on animals and on humans alongside battles against human and animal rights activists; natural catastrophes were faced, with some countries gravely unprepared and some, a little more prepared through lessons of the past; environmental issues appeared to be getting into the limelight in many more countries with significant changes in physical structures of the earthly terrain and climate; a brave new attempt at recreating a replay of the Big Bang was launched; a historic nuclear pact was signed and the first ever Olympic Games of its kind was hosted in an Asian country with unprecedented pomp and grandeur. These are some in the many events that dotted the world scene in 2008. In many ways, these events served to portray humanness at its greatness as well as its baser levels, with whatever lens we choose to examine each event. There will always be many sided opinions on each of these issues that confront us. But the final say on an issue comes back to us after a 360 degrees turn.

Did one have a part to play in any of these events? In what direct or indirect way has one been responsible in shaping world events and the responses to them? Did all these contribute to an eventual growth, and a sense of self-fulfillment within one or did any of these events that meant much to us leave a strangely obnoxious after-taste?

This is perhaps that time of the year to stringently, mercilessly and honestly cross-examine oneself, in relation to one’s individual self and others around us and make resolutions along the lines of progression. The rule for the measure of ‘progress’ need only be, perhaps, a tiny little voice within which would tell us whether we have been worthy of ourselves or not. The next task that would naturally fall in place here would be a resolution to right the imbalance that we perceive in the way we conduct our lives, if there was one.

An aspiration is said to be the beginning of all great things. If peace and harmony are what the world at large is in need of now, then that peace and harmony need to be cultivated in each of us. It is in place here and now to begin with the highest aspiration, and reach out for that high, luminous and mighty state of life on earth as echoed in these prophetic lines:

Life’s tops shall flame with the Immortal’s thoughts,
Light shall invade the darkness of its base.
Then in the process of evolving Time
All shall be drawn into a single plan,
A divine harmony shall be earth’s law,
Beauty and Joy remould her way to live:
Even the body shall remember God,
Nature shall draw back from mortality
And Spirit’s fires shall guide the earth’s blind force;
Knowledge shall bring into the aspirant Thought
A high proximity to Truth and God.

Here then, are prayers for a year of discoveries of all that lies within us and without; to new make these in beauty’s form and truth’s substance, a joyous expression and a living in light and love. Happy New Year to all and wishes for A Glorious New Birth and Beginning.

Flowers of the month

Remembrance of Sri Aurobindo




Botanical Name: Lobelia erinus
Common Name: Lobelia
Spiritual Name: Remembrance of Sri Aurobindo

Let us strive to realise the ideal of life that Sri Aurobindo has shown us.

Opening to Sri Aurobindo's Force




Botanical Name: Thunbergia kirkii
Common Name: Lavender
Spiritual Name: Opening to Sri Aurobindo's Force

The help of Sri Aurobindo is constant; it is for us to know how to receive it.

Sri Aurobindo's last darshan

The following selection is taken from pp. 198-202 of “The Radical Thinkers”, a book published in 1969 by the Sri Aurobindo Ashram Press and now out of print. The account describes the ashram atmosphere during November and December 1950, immediately preceding and subsequent to Sri Aurobindo's leaving the body.

At last it was the morning of November 24. At Golconda, rumors flew. Although thousands had now arrived for this darshan, it was said that Sri Aurobindo was ill and might find it impossible to appear. Then at the last minute, we were told he was well enough.

A long line led from the main building around the block: people of every color, every style of dress, government officials and high-ranking professors, young and old, from dozens of countries, wanted to see the philosopher-sage. Each of us finally climbed the stairs to the floor where, at the end of a long narrow room, Sri Aurobindo in white and the Mother in a gold sari sat side by side upon a slightly raised platform.

As a westerner, the idea of merely passing by these two with nothing being said had struck me as a bit ridiculous. I was still unfamiliar with the Hindu idea that such a silent meeting could afford an intensely spiritual impetus. I watched as I came up in line, and I noted that the procedure was to stand quietly before the two of them for a few silent moments, then to move on at a gesture from Sri Aurobindo. What happened next was completely unexpected.
As I stepped into a radius of about four feet, there was the sensation of moving into some kind of a force field. Intuitively, I knew it was the force of Love, but not what ordinary humans usually mean by the term. These two were 'geared straight up'; they were not paying attention to me as ordinary parents might have done; yet, this detachment seemed just the thing that healed. Suddenly, I loved them both, as spiritual 'parents.'

Then all thought ceased. I was perfectly aware of where I was; it was not 'hypnotism,' as one Stanford friend later suggested. It was simply that during those few minutes, my mind became utterly still. It seemed that I stood there a very long, an uncounted time, for there was no time. Only many years later did I describe this experience as my having experienced the Timeless in Time. When there at the darshan, there was not the least doubt in my mind that I had met two people who had experienced what they claimed. They were gnostic beings. They had realized this new consciousness, which Sri Aurobindo called the supramental. Later, this same experience made me understand what Heidegger meant by 'standing presence.'

Several days later, an English doctor staying at Golconda warned me that the condition of Sri Aurobindo's health was becoming worse. At 1:30 in the morning on December 5, 1950, he passed away of a kidney infection. About 3:30 that same morning, this was announced to everyone in the ashram. With great sorrow, I realized I had been at the last darshan at which both of them would appear together!

During the day of December 5, I hovered about the ashram grounds, feeling desolate. Already it has been decided, despite the objections of the French colonial governor, that Sri Aurobindo would be buried in the courtyard of the main building beneath a huge spreading tree. The male ashramites, including the visiting doctor, began to build the tomb. I watched the doctor, who had confided to me that he expected Sri Aurobindo to 'reveal himself as an avatar,' and he beat with his sledgehammer on the concrete slab as if he would destroy death itself.

There was weeping but no hysteria. By afternoon, men and women passed baskets of earth from hand to hand, as the digging continued beneath the tree. Then there was a new announcement. For all of us there, there would now be a second darshan. In lesser numbers, we filed through to view the body of the poet-philosopher lying upon his couch in the upper chamber.

Again, the following morning on December 6, we all filed past. The 'force field' which I mentioned earlier seemed to remain about the body and throughout the room. Dressed in white, upon a white couch before the windows, Sri Aurobindo now lay in state. Bowls of flowers stood around the couch; and at the bed's head and foot, disciples of long standing sat quietly, heads bowed.
Unexpectedly, in the afternoon, there was another darshan. Sri Aurobindo's face still did not look deathlike. The skin was golden in color, the white hair blowing on the pillow in a breeze from a fan. The aquiline profile continued to have a prophetic look. There was no odor of death and little incense was burning. To my astonishment, the repeated viewings of his body had a comforting effect.

By December 7, everyone momentarily expected the funeral. This was, after all, a tropical climate. Bodies were usually burnt as quickly as possible in India. Even the planned burial in earth was a major departure from the usual Hindu custom. The grave had now been completed with large cement blocks lining the tomb. But instead of the burial, an announcement came from the Mother:

'The funeral of Sri Aurobindo did not take 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.'

From the French colony, already exploding with disapproval and its officials much disturbed by the burial plans, came the rumor that the body must have been 'shot with formaldehyde' secretly, to preserve it. Moreover, said the officials, the ashram was not only breaking the law in burying anyone in the garden, it was worse to keep it so long unburied. (The legal regulation was that no body should be kept unburied longer than 48 hours.)

On the morning of December 7, therefore, a French doctor representing the government, a Dr. Barbet, arrived to inspect the body of Sri Aurobindo. At the end he reported it was a 'miracle'; there was no deterioration, no rigor mortis. It was an unheard of occurrence; the weather had continued to be hot during the entire time. After this official and scientific approval, nothing further could be done to prevent another darshan.

Visitors were flocking from all over India; and the Indian newspapers now proposed that Sri Aurobindo be suggested, posthumously, for the Nobel Peace Prize.

This time, I suspected it might be the last time. Everyone and anyone was allowed into the ashram to pass by Sri Aurobindo's body: beggars in rags, curiosity seekers, villagers, ashramites, and visitors.

By December 8, silence was observed throughout the ashram grounds. Only latecomers who had just arrived in Pondicherry were allowed to view the body.

Tension grew among the ashramites, and incredible speculations became the order of the day. An Indian representative of Life magazine came around, wanting to talk to those of us from America. He told us that this phenomenon of bodily preservation after death had never taken place anywhere in India. Why, even yogis who specialized in 'live' burial had never performed such a feat. No Indian 'living saint' in history had preserved his body after death in this fashion. The Indian magazine representative wondered if Sri Aurobindo was not, after all, still alive and only in some kind of trance state or coma.

On December 9, at noon, a notice was posted that there would be a final darshan for those in the ashram at one o'clock. Later the time was changed to 2:30 p.m. and visitors from outside were allowed in first. The night before, a plane chartered by 19 people from Darjeeling had flown in. By now, in Golconda, everyone was sharing his or her room; bedrolls crowded the floors and halls of the guest house.

I had, of course, postponed my planned departure date. All of this, I realized, was a situation which would remain entirely unduplicated in my own life. I intended to remain until the end.
On the afternoon of December 9, at 5:00 p.m., the burial service finally took place after another final darshan. A feeling of force and energy remained in the atmosphere around Sri Aurobindo's vicinity, but that force had now weakened. Afterwards, in absolute silence, everyone in the ashram sat in the courtyard. The gates were locked against further curiosity seekers.

There was no orthodox religious service at the burial. The coffin, of rosewood with metal gold rings, much like an old and beautiful sea chest, was borne from the ashram and lowered into the earth. French officials, all dressed in white, made a line to the left, their faces stern, a bit superior in expression and definitely disapproving of the entire affair. Over the coffin, concrete slabs were laid. Then everyone lined up and, one by one, we scattered earth from wicker baskets. It was dark under the spreading tree when each of us had made this last farewell.
On the morning of December 10, when I visited the grave, it was already covered with flowers, incense sticks burning. It was announced that the Mother would carry on at the ashram and that a new International University would be opened.

Although the Mother had announced there would be two weeks of meditation during which she would see no one, she graciously granted me a farewell interview on December 15, at 6:00 p.m.
At 5:30 I went into the meditation hall, still very much mentally and emotionally upset by everything that had occurred. She appeared at the top of the stairs, dressed in white. When I smiled, she nodded and said: 'Come on up.'

All the questions I had meant to ask seemed to vanish. I was intensely aware that the interview itself was an imposition, when she had so recently lost the companion of 30 years. 'They say you wish to see me,' she said quietly.

Before I could think I blurted out that I seemed to be full of fears, fears of new wars, fears of this or that in my personal life.

'One must not fear,' she said. 'By fear you bring about what you fear.' I nodded, then she added; and I had a feeling she spoke to the world, not just to me: 'It's ego! Ego!'

Several personal matters were discussed, and then of spiritual development she said: 'One must have a spirit of adventure all this, you know.'

When our brief talk was over, she took a double French marigold from a bronze bowl on the edge of a small dark table, against which she had leaned an elbow while we talked. With a long look, she handed the flower to me.

Only much later, many years later, did I realize how fortunate I had been. Within the space of a year, far from my own shores, I had met three of the world's greatest human beings: Jung, the Swiss psychiatrist, who had said that man had outgrown his concept of God; and these two: Sri Aurobindo and Mira Alfassa, or the Mother, who together, had attempted to give the world that new needed concept of God, as those of spiritual genius always do.
Because of them, life continues to have hope and meaning.

* * *
Rhoda LeCocq received a degree in philosophy from the California Institute of Integral Studies.

Sri Aurobindo and Savitri


Some months before his passing , Sri Aurobindo, as if in foreknowledge of the event, said: "I want to finish Savitri soon." The words took by utter surprise the disciple, his scribe, who had been used to the grandly patient way in which so far it had been composed and frequently retouched and amplified. Even when, in the past, composition had been extraordinarily swift - once four to five hundred lines needing hardly any change were dictated in succession - there had been no hurry in the poet's attitude to his work. But now he increased immensely the general tempo of composition and revision. There seemed a race with time. And it was almost towards the end that, after rapidly revising the long second Canto of the Book of Fate, he paused with some satisfaction. Then he inquired what still remained to be written. On being told about the Book of Death, and the Epilogue entitled The Return to Earth, which were yet to be caught up into a larger utterance, he remarked: "Oh , that?" We shall see about that afterwards".
Savitri, as the footnote to the Book of Death indicates, was not completed in the common meaning of the term and indeed Sri Aurobindo's original plan was to give this part of the poem as well as the Epilogue a thorough recasting. But his strange remark suggests that later, for reasons of his own, he was not anxious about them and that what he had thought necessary had been done. So it is impossible to say definitely that he did not wish Savitri to be, on the whole, just as he left it after making corrections and additions in the Canto already mentioned of the Book of Fate.

These corrections and additions were the last things he wrote in this epic of twenty-three thousand eight hundred and thirteen lines, over which he spent so many years. Among them, in view of subsequent circumstances, three newly written passages in the speech of Narad stand out most significantly. The first is about the sacrifice of the God-Man given in history:

He who has found his identity with God Pays with the body's death his soul's vast light His knowledge immortal triumphs by his death.

The second dwells on the inner meaning with which Satyavan's departure from the earth is packed:
His death is a beginning of greater life... A vast intention has brought two souls close And love and death conspire towards one great end. For out of danger and pain heaven-bliss shall come, Time's unforeseen event, God's secret plan.

The third is a passage of seventy-two lines, absolutely the last piece of poetry dictated by Sri Aurobindo, in which, with a sound as of massive repeating bells, Narad admonishes King Ashwapathy's wife when she protests against the fate of loneliness that will be her daughter Savitri's in consequence of the predestined passing of Satyavan, even as it appeared to be that of Sri Aurobindo's spiritual co-worker, the Mother, at the time the Master of the "Integral Yoga' withdrew from his body. Some lines may be quoted:

As a star, uncompanioned, moves in heaven Unastonished by the immensities of space, Travelling infinity by its own light, The great are strongest when they stand alone... A day may come when she must stand unhelped On a dangerous brink of the world's doom and hers, Carrying the world's future on her lonely breast, Carrying the human hope in a heart left sole To conquer or fail on a last desperate verge, Alone with death and close to extinction's edge, Her single greatness in that last dire scene, She must cross alone a perilous bridge in Time And reach an apex of world-destiny Where all is won or all is lost for man... For this the silent Force came missioned down; In her the conscious Will took human shape: She only can save herself and save the world... Even though all falters and falls and sees an end And the heart fails and only are death and night, God-given her strength can battle against doom... Think not to intercede with the hidden Will, Intrude not twixt her spirit and its force But leave her to her mighty self and Fate.

(An extract from Sri Aurobindo's “Letters on Savitri ", “Savitri”, Sri Aurobindo, Sri Aurobindo Ashram, Pondicherry 1954)

Sri Aurobindo's samadhi



The Samadhi itself, visited daily by hundreds in an attitude of devotion and prayer, seemed to testify to the reality of Sri Aurobindo’s continued Presence, bathed in the life-giving rays of the Everlasting Day. In Nirodbaran’s inspired language,

“Out of his Samadhi, a thousand flames seem to be mounting up and , lodged in our soul, burning in an ever rejuvenating fire, while His Presence enveloping and merging with and radiating from the Mother’s being and body is pervading the whole atmosphere. One can see His Presence, hear his footfalls, his rhythmic voice, ever vigilant, devoid of the encumbrance of the physical body.”

Still Nirod hears the Master’s whisper, “I am here, I am here”, and with the ear of faith we can hear the words too.

The mystic realization of his presence in our midst - for his nectarean presence and beneficence is not confined to the Samadhi environs or even the Ashram alone - is the Promise of preservation, liberation and transformation to humanity poised perilously on the edge of the precipice: the deep Abyss on one side, the steep ascent to truth on the other. In this phoenix hour, the hour of the unexpected, when the Asuric and Divine forces are fighting the battle of man’s future - the battle of Satyavan, the Soul of the World, Sri Aurobindo gives the all-suffering Word that his coming will not have been in vain, that his ministry, “ Sri Aurobindo’s Action”, is as pauseless and potent as ever.

“Come, O Creator Spirit, come,
And make within our hearts thy home;
To us thy grace celestial give,
Who of thy breathing move and love.”

(An extract from “The Mystery of 5th December 1950”, All India Magazine, December 1998)


Last night we (you and myself and some others) were together for quite a long time in the permanent dwelling of Sri Aurobindo which exists in the subtle physical (what Sri Aurobindo used to call the true physical). All that happened there ( much too long and complicated to be told) was, so to say, organized in order to express concretely the rapid movement with which the present transformation is going on; and Sri Aurobindo told you with a smile something like this: “Do you believe now?” It was as if he was evoking these three lines from Savitri :

“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.”
- The Mother (1963)
-
(“The Flame Of Truth” edited by V.K. Gokak and V. Madhusudhan Reddy, Institute of Human Study, Hyderabad, India)

“Sri Aurobindo is here with us, conscious and alive. “


“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 marvelous Presence and that henceforth everything in us be concentrated on the one will to be more and more perfectly consecrated to the fulfillment of Thy sublime work.”

- The Mother
(7th December 1950)


“We stand in the presence of Him who has sacrificed his physical life in order to help more fully his work of transformation.

He is always with us, aware of what we are doing, of all our thoughts, all of our feelings and all our actions.”

- The Mother
(18th January 1951)


“Sri Aurobindo's help is constant. It is for us to know how to receive it.”

- The Mother

Pilgrim of the night


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 traveled through a vastness dim and blind
To the grey shore where her ignorant waters roll.
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.


Sri Aurobindo

Question of the Month

How should one spend the Darshan days, December fifth and ninth, and one’s birthday?

In search of a knowledge truer than ordinary knowledge. The fifth and ninth on understanding what death is, the birthday in finding out the purpose of life.
- The Mother
(All India Magazine December 2000 )

Savitri


The Immortal bound to earth’s mortality
Appearing and perishing on the roads of Time
Creates God’s moment by eternity’s beats.
He dies that the world may be new-born and live.



*********

Earth shall be made a home of Heaven’s light,
A seer heaven-born shall lodge in human breasts;
The superconscient beam shall touch men’s eyes
And the truth-conscious world come down on earth
Invading Matter with the Spirit’s ray
Awaking the dumb heart to the living Word.
This mortal life shall house Eternity’s bliss,
The body’s self taste immortality.
Then shall the world-redeemer’s task be done.


(Book Six, Canto Two)

Editorial

Death. This term brings into our perception some sense of sombre solemnity, a despairing sadness, fear, separation, annihilation, disappearance and an end. The term “birth”, on the other hand, brings to our sensibilities hope, happiness, newness, and the semblance of a future. There is tension between these two terms apparently anti-thetical when viewed with the measuring mind and a vehement vital. But are these all that can be ascribed to birth and death? Are these all that we can understand with our humanness? Where was one before birth and where, after death? Can we know? Which part in us decides that death is an end? And an end to what? Pleasures, pain in life, joy, sadness, happiness, comfort, relations? What or who in one was hanging on to these? Who is this ‘one’?

However illuminating religious and spiritual explanations of death maybe, they will only flower as truths in our consciousness when we start to “see” and “know” from within, with our own being. Now, how is this “seeing” going to be part of the “being” or experience? Certainly it cannot come about in the way we take death to be in our ordinary consciousness that suffers a pang at the mention of the word “death”. The principle of ‘ego’ is probably at work here, as the ‘pang’ would well indicate to us. If we can imagine, just for a minute, of an egoless state within and how life would then turn out to be, then we may see a faint glimmer of another way of seeing death.

The theme of this issue centres on Sri Aurobindo’s passing and evokes some thought of the issue of Death. Sri Aurobindo himself has examined this phenomenon extensively in his writings and in nowhere do they appeal to our sensibilities more than in the way he dealt with it in Savitri, where Death is given a voice that rises against the voice of She who came down upon earth to reveal death in His utter truth, as a mask of the Divine. Let us not forget to fix a rendezvous with the revealing chapters of Savitri in our seekings on the meaning of death.

A Truth supreme has forced the world to be;
It has wrapped itself in Matter as in a shroud,
A shroud of Death, a shroud of Ignorance.

In response to a Sadhak’s question on how one could approach the darshan days of 5th and 9th Dec and one’s birthday, The Mother replied: “In search of a knowledge truer than ordinary knowledge. The fifth and ninth on understanding what death is, the birthday in finding out the purpose of life.”(Mother’s words italicised by editor) There is more to death than what we choose to understand or are capable of understanding.

In Dr Alok Pandey’s story, “The second coming”, the master, responds, to a devotee’s apprehensions of the master’s impending passing thus: “But where am I leaving you? Do you think I am this body? None of us are mere physical bodies alone. Only you are not conscious of it whereas I am fully conscious of my deathless Self and the many births before. And the deathless Self is immortal. It does not die.”

This could be the subject of meditation (or object) of one who may want to know what death is, in another dimension.

When Sri Aurobindo passed, his body was lowered into the earth and a Samadhi erected over it. 58 years have passed and the Samadhi continues to draw an ever increasing number of devotees who stand around it in silent reverence for a man the majority of whom had never seen before. What then is death with Sri Aurobindo, the avatar and what is it with a common man? Can death be a needed end for a glorious beginning? Where do the terms ‘mortal’ and ‘immortal’ fit in the scheme of things?