Guiding Light of The Month

O Lord, how ardently do I call and implore Thy love! Grant that my aspiration may be intense enough to awaken the same aspiration everywhere: oh, may good- ness, justice and peace reign as supreme masters, may ignorant egoism be overcome, darkness be suddenly illu- minated by Thy pure Light; may the blind see, the deaf hear, may Thy law be proclaimed in every place and, in a constantly progressive union, in an ever more perfect harmony, may all, like one single being, stretch out their arms towards Thee to identify themselves with Thee and manifest Thee upon earth. - The Mother

Flowers of the month

Pure spiritual surrender

Candid, simple, spontaneous and complete in its multiplicity.

Common Name: Rose
Botanical Name: Rosa ‘Prosperity’
Spiritual Name: Pure Spiritual Surrender

Loving Surrender

A state that can be obtained by surrendering to the Divine.

Common Name: Rose
Botanical Name: Rose
Spiritual Name: Loving Surrender

Walking in Light

Continuing from last month’s discussion, Sri Aurobindo, in Letters on Yoga, points out Falsehood as anti-divine, as a creation of the “Asuric power” and a power which is in revolt against the Truth, a divine force. Falsehood itself is stated to be an extreme result of Ignorance. The nature of this falsehood is directly antithetical to divinity, its consciousness is perverse but puts itself forward as true knowledge and deceives.1

A vast difference there is therefore, between the force of divinity and the force of darkness. Sri Aurobindo states that Falsehood begins with the “beginnings of mind still involved in Life or appearing out of it.” Sri Aurobindo has pointed out, “Falsehood is a great barrier in the path of this Yoga. Falsehood of any kind must not be given a place in thought, speech or action.” The following have been pointed out as not belonging to the true nature of the Divine and as obstacles to sadhana – desires, jeolousy or envy, hatred or violence, greed, depression and despondency, ambition and vanity and attachment. Then, it follows that, in the case of the physical, material self of the being, traits to watch out for are laziness, an obstinacy to open to the discipline of physical culture, overly seeking bodily comfort and pleasure, indulgence in desires, and related to this, lust, greed and succumbing to addictions such as smoking and alcohol consumption and a refusal to give up on these or any other indulgences for that matter or in the least, practice stringent moderation, even against one’s own good judgment.

The Mother writes, “The body is a being of habits. But these habits should be controlled and disciplined, while remaining flexible enough to adapt themselves to circumstances and the needs of the growth and development of the being.”2

Physical culture then demands two things. One is to change the old and non-progressive physical habits of the past and traits and to develop those habits and traits that would contribute to the firm and robust building of the physical that would serve as a solid and reliable base with which an integral approach to Yoga can be.

How does one change an old habit or create a new habit? The Mother has an answer ready: “To change one’s body one must be ready to do millions of times the same thing, because the body is a creature of habits and functions by routine, and because to destroy a routine one must persevere for years.”3

When we take a serious stand to take up Integral Yoga, then it would serve well to map out all in us that we would consider habits, and in this case, physical, and take a good look at each habit and ask ourselves how these habits have contributed to our well-being and how they may not have. Then begins the arduous task of undoing the less progressive habits built over the years. Naturally, undoing an age-old habit implies that one takes upon oneself a new habit. Be absolutely sure that this new habit is a progressive habit. How does one ensure success in this endeavour of changing old habits and acquiring new, progressive ones? Aspiration.

Excerpts from:
1. Sri Aurobindo Ashram (1970). Letter on Yoga, Sri Aurobindo Ashram Trust, Pondicherry
2. Sri Aurobindo Ashram (1955). A Practical Guide to Integral Yoga, Sri Aurobindo Ashram Trust, Pondicherry
3. Sri Aurobindo Ashram (2006). Towards Perfect Health, Sri Aurobindo Ashram Trust, Pondicherry

Four great events in history, part 2

The exile of Krishna in Brindavan created devotional religion (for before there was only meditation and worship) – Sri Aurobindo

Love is one of the four aspects of the Supreme Purusha's manifestation in the material Prakriti. Devotional religion promotes transformation of the human love by directing it towards the Divine and helps us to realize and love all in the Divine and the Divine in all.

"…bhakti of ecstatic love is at its roots psychic in nature; it is vital-emotional only in its inferior forms or in some of its more outward manifestations" Essays on Gita page 284.

The Vedic and Upanishadic periods in Indian history were enlightened with the lore of great Rishis who had retreated themselves to the sylvan Ashrams, some of them after fulfilling their Dharma as Grihastas (house holders), and totally dedicated to yogic Sadhana by concentrating upon the knowledge aspect of the Supreme Purusha. They opened themselves to psychic consciousness through mental transformation and complete control of their vital being and its sense organs.

Sri Krishna planted the seeds of love for the Divine on the path of Karma and Bhakthi and showed us to transform the vital emotions of human love into love for the Divine. We often hear about the mystic anecdotes of his Divine adventures amid the rural folk of Brindavan. It is another aspect of the Divine statesman who gave the gospel of the Bhagavad Gita in the battle field of Kurukshetra. He also preached to Arjuna to pursue selfless action with unconditional surrender to the Supreme's will and become its conscious instrument.

We may recollect the childhood of Sri Krishna filled with divine charisma permeating in the rustic beauty of Brindavan (situated near Mathura - 200 km from New Delhi), the originator of devotional religion among the naive and innocent folk leading a life of transparent simplicity. Until then the guiding force behind spirituality in India was based on the growth of higher mental faculties and wisdom.

It was this devotional under-current of our Sanatana Dharma that has provided water to the drying fountain of Indian spirituality during its difficult periods of political and economic degradation, foreign invasion (Islamic, British rule) wherein the country was completely demoralized, fragmented and suppressed under the yoke of local feudal governance when even minimum education was inaccessible to the masses and knowledge of scriptures was confined to a few in the higher strata of the society (8th to 20th century).

The foundation stones for the devotional religion are the episodes of Sri Krishna's life in Brindavan passed on to generations by oral narration. There is a strong belief that the Gopis of Brindavan attained spiritual salvation as a result of their unconditional love for Sri Krishna. The mutual attraction of the embodied soul for the Divine from whom it is separated is depicted in the love of Radha (human soul) and Sri Krishna (incarnate Divine) by the rhythmic expressions of the inspired poets across all corners of India.

“The Gita brings in bhakti as the climax of the Yoga, sarvabhutasthitam yomam bhajati ekatvamasthitah (this may almost be said to sum up the whole final result of the Gita's teaching - whoever loves God in all and his soul is founded upon the divine oneness, however he lives and acts, lives and acts in God.” Essays on Gita page 246

From Kashmir to Kanya Kumari (North to South) and Dwarka to Puri (West to East) on the cloudy and stormy sky of India, there repeatedly appeared twinkling seer poets or Vibhutis (direct sparks of God in human form) who sang and composed immortal poetry in their local vernacular languages mostly comprehensible to the illiterate or semi literate common folk and reinterpreted the profound truths of Vedanta in practical and direct terms easily adaptable for all.

For deeper understanding of the immortal statement of our Master Sri Aurobindo, we need to browse the annals of the cultural history of India from 8th to 20th century and pay homage to all those seers of Devotion who have made our literature, art and music eternally self regenerating itself without which there would hardly exist anything that we can call Indian cultural heritage today.

The Acharyas (philosopher teachers) Ramanujacharya, Madhvacharya, Nimbarka, Vallabhacharya, Ramananda walked across Indian soil recommending everyone the path of Bhakthi as the shortest means to attain union with the Divine. Even Adi Shakara the great philosopher of Advaita (Non dualism) gave due importance to Bhakthi for it transforms the most powerful and resistant vital being into a Divine instrument by slowly triggering the dissolution of individual ego by the attraction for the personal God.

Devotional religion began with Vaishnava Alwars from 6th century and culminated to perfection in the devotion of Sri Ramakrishna Paramahamsa at Dakshineswar in 20th century India. A large number of Vaishnava Alwars (2nd to 8th AD) and the Shaiva Nayanars (5th to 10th AD) in southern India kept the lamp of spirituality un-extinguished. Jayadeva chanting the Gita Govindam in Orissa, Chaitanya Mahaprabhu singing and dancing in his trance on the pious soil of Bengal, Mira's melodious voice vibrating with love for Sri Krishna quenching the thirst in the sandy deserts of Rajasthan, Goswami Tulasi Das and the Surdas narrating through their couplets the stories of Sri Rama and Sri Krishna imparting wisdom to the struggling plains of northern India, Namdev and Tukaram rendering a strengthening hand in the battling fields of Maharastra, Tyagaraja, Annamayya, Purandara Dasa along the banks of Krishna and Kaveri repeatedly echoing in the households of Andhra and Karnataka, Narsi Mehta fertilizing the arid fields in Gujarat with his Bhajans (songs in praise of god) were some of the philosopher poets who had nourished the continuous flow of devotional religion for centuries. Like the cows in Brindavan responding to the magnetic attraction of the melody of Sri Krishna’s flute, the people from village to village followed them in huge crowds and in search of true Divine love that would be the only healing balm for their daily toiling wounds of life.

Their immortal lyrics were composed by Divine inspiration and psychic experiences and not by rational thinking or intellectual analysis. They mostly were born into middle or lower economic strata of society with limited exposure to the study of Indian scriptures. However their upbringing gave them a realistic approach to life and empathetic heart to sense the suffering of humanity around them. They were indeed born for a higher purpose on this earth. Their ego free hearts were spontaneously opened to Divine grace uninterrupted by any external constraints or prejudices. We would often wonder at the profoundness of their philosophical statements lyrically expressed in simple words. They travelled widely across the breadth and width of the country and became true instruments in spreading the message of love Divine and strewing the flowers of grace on the thorny path of life.

Sri Aurobindo says that it is a common belief that this event of Sri Krishna's exile in Brindavan never actually took place on the physical plane. We cannot understand with our limited physical mind in what level of consciousness this most inspiring event in the history of mankind’s evolutionary growth actually took place.

The path of bhakti or devotion leads to a transformation of the vital, “….illuminations of the heart by love and devotion and spiritual joy and ecstasy…” Life Divine page 908

- Sundari

Preaching the Gita to the hungry

The last three years have been quite rewarding for me in terms of getting to know better the faith I was born into. It has largely been a matter of serendipity and the time and guidance that some elders have very generously offered me in exploring the ancient tenets of this amorphous “way of life” called Hinduism. It means different things to different people but a very substantial portion of this faith is now associated with forms of worship and the idiosyncracies of the various Gods and Goddesses in the Hindu pantheon. And we have enough of them. Each with a colourful past and interesting events/character-attributes that mark them from the rest. Lord Shiva, rumour has it, is the one most easily appeased. Epithets such as “bhola”, it seems, are well-earned in his case. And one must admit he does have a formidable track-record when it comes to granting problematic boons, even to asuras. And then, we have a bevy of Gods and Goddesses who seem to have a special fondness for getting married…over and over again, year after year, every year. Such is their fondness for marital bliss that they deign us mortals good enough to sponsor their weddings. I remember my parents having performed one such kalyaanam a few years ago. I’m hoping, on Judgment Day, when their numbers are called, their small contribution to divine marital bliss will not be entirely forgotten.

Customs, forms of worship, superstitions continue to be shepherded into the tent of Hinduism to this day. Yet, perhaps, this was not how the bold Vedic rishis and the sages and mighty men and women who followed in their order had envisioned Sanatana Dharma to be. The myriad of rituals and customs that for many equates to the practice of Hinduism hides behind it the fount of spiritual realization that has been the singular contribution of Sanatana Dharma to humanity. The core of this contribution – the Prasthana Traya – the Upanishads, the Gita and the Brahma Sutras – form a body not just of knowledge, but of mystic spiritual experience where the focus is entirely on spiritualizing each human being through the realization of the Divine within each one of us. And within this tradition of mystic realization, the Gita stands out as a handbook that in its sheer vigour and clarity, attempts not just to spiritualize our lives but each act that we perform. Admittedly, this is an onerous task and letting the Gita take over our actions can be a lifelong exercise, but a very fulfilling one at that. As, Sri Aurobindo said, “All life is yoga” and as a student of the Gita (a very junior one), I believe the true tribute to the mighty philosophy of the Gita can only be paid by its practice in our everyday lives. It is, after all, a very vigorous, deep, practical and liberating philosophy – delivered by the purna avatar of Sri Krishna to a mighty warrior and friend, at a deeply distressing moment – the commencement of the most terrible activity engineered by humankind – full-scale war.

My introduction to the Gita came a little later in life than I would have wanted it to. But I believe The Mother sends the right things in our path at the right time, and so it is with the Gita. While I have been trying to learn the message of the Gita, thanks again to efforts of the elders in whose company I happen to be and the works of so many mystics that India has produced, I have often wondered why it seems a very large section of people who call themselves Hindus seem either to be detached or very peripherally involved with the Gita. This question became even more troubling as I heard of the aggressive conversions being undertaken by some Christian evangelicals in India. Apparently, these conversions to the Christian faith (or more pertinently, to the Church that the particular evangelical represents), particularly amongst those who lead an impoverished existence, are being done against a barter of basic goods of subsistence. If this is true, and I have personally witnessed such attempts at conversion, as have several people I know, then I think it behooves us to ponder a while as to what exactly is a poor person in need of the very basic necessities of life giving up in this conversion? If it is indeed Hinduism, then how exactly does the converted describe his/her erstwhile faith? I doubt if the ones converted by these means have ever said “I believe the Gita is wrong” or “I disown the Upanishads”. Their daily, gruelling struggle for survival or a better quality of life to their impoverished existence is such that the message of the Gita or the Upanishads does not even reach them throughout their liftimes. And it could not either. Exceptions like Sri Ramakrishna and Ramana Maharshi are just that – exceptional souls who could rise above the human body’s struggle to survive and reach pinnacles of spiritual experience that they have passed down to us. For the vast majority of us, however, an attempt at spiritualizing our lives in the light of the Gita can only be undertaken after the basic necessities of life are met. Material security can engender a state of mind that is at peace with itself while it pursues the higher calling of life. The intellectual Hindu who expresses righteous indignation at aggressive evangelical conversions would do well to keep this in mind.

Abraham Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs has served as a useful framework in understanding basic human motivations and the hierarchy through which these motivations or needs move. Briefly, Maslow stated that human needs progress in a hierarchy, from lower to higher as – biological and physical needs, safety needs, belonging and love needs, self-esteem needs and finally, self-actualization. This framework can provide a fairly simple insight in trying to understand both the relatively low penetration of the practice of the Gita and the Upanishads amongst Hindus and also the bartered conversion into evangelical Churches. Both the Gita and Upanishads attempt the ultimate transformation of a human being – from a mere existence to spiritualized being. Maslow’s self-actualization is their endeavour, nothing less. They are both intensely personal in their message and catholic in their approach. But for those of us for whom the Gita has had an impact, even a peripheral impact, it probably would be easy to recognize that for the vast majority of us, lower hierarchies need to be fulfilled first, particularly the lower three, before the lofty ideals of the Gita can be undertaken. And recognition of this fact can open up an opportunity for us Hindus to contribute, in whatever small way we can, to alleviate the impoverished and less fortunate to a level of security and existence where they can begin to ponder the deeper existential questions and use that as a prop to take up the understanding and practice of the Gita.

Why is this important? Individual transformation aside (and this would mean the transformation of both the benenficiary and the one who gives), this is important in a wider social context. The philosophy of the Gita, in true Upanishadic spirit, has at its core, a value that is a hallmark of a mature and deep thinking, a value that can only be derived from quiet, knowing strength – liberalism. There is no attempt in the Gita to frighten the sadhak into submission or a simplistic moral, religious or social code. Ancient Hindu philosophy had, in its remarkable prescience, recognized social law to be a temporal product of the times and so relegated them to the status only of a smrti, subservient to the eternal, timeless message of the shruti. The focus, therefore, of the Gita and the Upanishads is to elevate the consciousness of each individual to ultimately, through persistent sadhana, become one with the Divine, cosmic Consciousness. There is no attempt at converting to a faith or institution that claims a monopoly over Truth and derides followers of other faiths. Not for the Gita the “My God is better than your God” argument that, in the light of the true Vedic tradition of “Ekam Sat, viprah bahudha vadanti (Truth is one, wise men call it by different names)”, can be viewed as childishly amusing, at best.

So where does all this leave us Hindus with regard to what we can do to elevate the less fortunate so they can be physically, mentally and emotionally secure enough to take up the Gita? Well, the simplest, most direct and most effective contribution would be monetary contribution towards a cause. And there is no dearth of such causes. From the monstrosity of the caste system that has denied basic primary education to millions because of their birth and thus robbed them of a fulfilling life of achievements, to natural disasters that have wiped away for many even the most basic securities in life, to better facilities for healthcare, to orphans who are at the mercy of an unscrupulous society for their survival, to children who are born with disabilities and deformities, to men and women who, in their twilight years, have been abandoned by the very people they sacrificed so much for, to the plight of the widows in Brindavan. The opportunities at making a difference, in the true spirit of the Gita, are many. As Hindus, we spend quite a substantial amount each year in performing (or rather in getting someone else, usually a temple priest, to perform) various rituals. With due respect to the sentiments of the people involved in such rituals, in purely economic terms, they are almost always a consumption expenditure, whose impact, even on the ones performing or sponsoring the ritual, can fade away rather quickly. On the other hand, an investment at elevating the condition of another human being is a capital expenditure of the highest order. And for those of us earning in developed market currencies, the asymmetry in purchasing power with respect to India, has the potential to magnify the impact of such contributions. It has the potential to create a truly productive and evolved individual and, by extension, an evolved society.

And what does Sri Krishna have to say about worship?

Patram pushpam phalam toyam, yo me bhaktya prayacchti,
Tad aham bhaktyupahrtam, asnami prayatatmanah.

Whosoever offers to Me with devotion a leaf, a flower, a fruit, or water, that offering of love, of the pure heart, I accept.

“The colloquy at Kurukshetra will yet liberate humanity”, said Sri Aurobindo, who, while in prison, had used the Gita as a practical handbook of transformation. It would indeed be a homage to Sri Aurobindo’s and The Mother’s vision of transforming and spiritualizing humanity to an elevated state of consciousness, if each one of us can commit, dedicatedly, a small portion of our resources to making a difference to the material lives of the ones who are less fortunate than us, so they may later be inspired to take up the Gita and start living it. A greater offering of karma yoga to the feet of Sri Krishna can scarcely be found.

- Sumant Balakrishnan

Gita for the common man

What message can a philosophical treatise like the Gita have for the common man? The Gita has a message for everyman for the simple reason that it is not a philosophical or a religious text. It is a spiritual guide and in as much as the Divine Spirit informs everyone in some way or other, the Gita has a word to say, a direction to give to each man, be he a philosopher scaling the heights of Knowledge or a seeker plumbing the depths of his soul or the common man who is caught in the vortex of the currents and cross currents of work-a-day life. No one is too high for its vision, no one too low for its consideration.

Do not leave your station in life, calls the Gita, in order to find your weal elsewhere. There is a purpose, a design, in your being where you are. You are being moulded in the crucible of Nature and those circumstances are chosen for you by the guiding Spirit which best promote your development. Regard the work that comes to your share as God given. Whatever the work, it can be utilized for your progress, outer and inner, if only it is done in the right attitude. All work is equal, the true difference in value arises from the spirit in which each work is done.

Work done ignorantly forges the chain of Karma that binds; work done in the spirit of the Gita is a force for liberation. And what is the spirit of the Gita?

All work that you do, do it as a sacrifice, as a loving offering to God. And the true test of this offering is whether you entertain a claim for its fruits. Give up personal desire for the fruit and accept what comes with equality. But all the while do your work with all the care, all the zeal and perfection that a sacred consecration calls for. Slowly your capacity for disinterested work will grow and you will be less and less involved in the consequences of the work. In place of desire and ego, detachment and selfless devotion will grow.

The first step is to offer the works to God.

The next step is to give up the fruits of work to God.

The third is to realize that what works is not your own force, but the Power of God. You perceive that you are only an instrument and the real worker is the Power of Him who is seated within the chariot of your being. The personal element is gradually replaced by an impersonal spirit and the first gates of inner liberation are opened.

It is not necessary for man to retreat from the world and leave his appointed work in order to attain liberation. The Gita prescribes a bold and practical discipline which can be successfully practiced by everyone in the midst of life, in the center of Kurukshetra.

(A chapter from Sri. M.P. Pandit ‘s - All Life is Yoga, Dipti Publications, Sri Aurobindo Ashram, Pondicherry)

We do not belong to the past dawns but to the noons of the future

We of the coming day stand at the head of a new age of development which must lead to such a new and larger synthesis. We are not called upon to be orthodox Vedantins of any of the three schools or Tantrics or to adhere to one of the theistic religions of the past or to entrench ourselves within the four corners of the teaching of the Gita. That would be to limit ourselves and to attempt to create our spiritual life out of the being, knowledge and nature of others, of the men of the past, instead of building it out of our own being and potentialities. We do not belong to the past dawns, but to the noons of the future. A mass of new material is flowing into us; we have not only to assimilate the influences of the great theistic religions of India and of the world and a recovered sense of the meaning of Buddhism, but to take full account of the potent though limited revelations of modern knowledge and seeking; and, beyond that, the remote and dateless past which seemed to be dead is returning upon us with an effulgence of many luminous secrets long lost to the consciousness of mankind but now breaking out again from behind the veil. All this points to a new, a very rich, a very vast synthesis; a fresh and widely embracing harmonisation of our gains is both an intellectual and a spiritual necessity of the future. But just as the past syntheses have taken those which preceded them for their starting­point, so also must that of the future, to be on firm ground, proceed from what the great bodies of realised spiritual thought and experience in the past have given. Among them the Gita takes a most important place.

Our object, then, in studying the Gita will not be a scholastic or academic scrutiny of its thought, nor to place its philosophy in the history of metaphysical speculation, nor shall we deal with it in the manner of the analytical dialectician. We approach it for help and light and our aim must be to distinguish its essential and living message, that in it on which humanity has to seize for its perfection and its highest spiritual welfare.

-- Sri Aurobindo in Essays on The Gita


At last I find a meaning of soul's birth
Into this universe terrible and sweet,
I who have felt the hungry heart of earth
Aspiring beyond heaven to Krishna's feet.

I have seen the beauty of immortal eyes,
And heard the passion of the Lover's flute,
And known a deathless ecstasy's surprise
And sorrow in my heart for ever mute.

Nearer and nearer now the music draws,
Life shudders with a strange felicity;
All Nature is a wide enamoured pause
Hoping her lord to touch, to clasp, to be.

For this one moment lived the ages past;
The world now throbs fulfilled in me at last.

(“Krishna”, Sri Aurobindo, Collected Poems , Volume 2, Sri Aurobindo Ashram Trust 1970, published by Sri Aurobindo Ashram)

Sri Aurobindo's thoughts and aphorisms on Krishna

I am not a Bhakta, I am not a Jnani, I am not a worker for the Lord. What am I then? A tool in the hands of my Master, a flute blown upon by the divine Herd-Boy, a leaf driven by the breath of the Lord.

Devotion is not utterly fulfilled till it becomes action and knowledge. If thou pursuest after God and canst overtake Him, let Him not go till thou hast His reality. If thou hast hold of His reality, insist on having also His totality. The first will give thee divine knowledge, the second will give thee divine works and a free and perfect joy in the universe.

Beyond Personality the Mayavadin sees indefinable Existence; I followed him there and found my Krishna beyond in indefinable Personality.

Even the atheist ought now to be able to see that creation marches towards some infinite and mighty purpose which evolution in its very nature supposes. But infinite purpose and fulfilment presupposes an infinite wisdom that prepares, guides, shapes, protects and justifies. Revere then that Wisdom and worship it with thoughts in thy soul if not with incense in a temple, and even though thou deny it the heart of infinite Love and the mind of infinite self- effulgence. Then though thou know it not, it is still Krishna whom thou reverest and worshippest.

The divine Friend of all creatures conceals His friendliness in the mask of an enemy till He has made us ready for the highest heavens; then, as in Kurukshetra, the terrible form of the Master of strife, suffering and destruction is withdrawn and the sweet face, the tenderness, the oft­clasped body of Krishna shine out on the shaken soul and purified eyes of his eternal comrade and playmate.

(CWM Volume 10, Centenary Edition Sri Aurobindo Ashram Trust 1976, Published by Sri Aurobindo Ashram, Pondicherry- 605002) .


O Thou of whom I am the instrument,
O secret Spirit and Nature housed in me,
Let all my mortal being now be blent
In Thy still glory of divinity.

I have given my mind to be dug Thy channel mind
I have offered up my will to Thy will;
Let nothing of myself be left behind
In our union mystic and unutterable.

My heart shall throb with the world-beats of Thy love,
My body become Thy engine for earth-use;
In my nerves and veins Thy rapture's streams shall move;
My thoughts shall be Hounds of Light for thy power to loose.

Keep only my soul to adore eternally
And meet Thee in each form and soul of Thee.

(“Surrender”, Sri Aurobindo, Collected Poems, Volume 2, Sri Aurobindo Ashram Trust 1970, published by Sri Aurobindo Ashram)

Question of the month

Q: What does this mean “the colloquy of Kurukshetra will yet liberate humanity“?

A: The Mother: Sri Aurobindo considers the message of the Gita to be the basis of the great spiritual movement which has led and will lead humanity more and more to its liberation, that is to say, to its escape from falsehood and ignorance, towards the truth. .

From the time of its first appearance, the Gita has had an immense spiritual action: but with the new interpretation that Sri Aurobindo has given to it, its influence has increased considerably and has become decisive.

Q: Some say Krishna never lived, he is a myth. They mean on earth; for if Brindavan existed nowhere, the Bhagavat could not be written.

Does Brindavan exist anywhere else than on earth?

A: The Mother: 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 the 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 human form, living on earth, is only of very secondary importance (except perhaps from a purely historical point of view), for Krishna is a real, living and active being; for his influence has been one of the great factors in the progress and transformation of the earth.
- The Mother (8th June, 1960)

(CWM Volume 10, Centenary Edition Sri Aurobindo Ashram Trust 1976, Published by Sri Aurobindo Ashram, Pondicherry- 605002) .


The Immanent shall be the witness God
Watching on his many-petalled lotus-throne,
His actionless being and his silent might
Ruling earth-nature by eternity’s law,
A thinker waking the Inconscient’s world,
An immobile center of many infinitudes
In his thousand-pillared temple by Time’s sea.
Then shall the embodied being live as one
Who is a thought, a will of the Divine,
A mask or robe of his divinity,
An instrument and partner of his Force,
A point or line drawn in the infinite,
A manifest of the Imperishable.
The supermind shall be his nature’s fount,
The Eternal’s truth shall mould his thoughts and acts,
The Eternal’s truth shall be his light and guide.

(Savitri, Book 11, Canto 1)


Few scriptural works qualify as both smrti as well as sruti or ‘revealed text’. The Bhagavad Gita is held as such. It is revered as the rare ‘scripture of liberation’. What this liberation is, who seeks it, who is the giver of liberation, who, the enjoyer, through what methods is this liberation procured and what all the multifaceted results of such a liberation, is the subject of this colloquy between the main players of the Gita, Sri Krishna and Arjuna at Kurukshetra, the predestined battleground. Sri Krishna, the Supreme Teacher instructs his friend-turned-disciple, Arjuna, the embodied soul lost in the myriad works of maya, in the ways of liberation for right action along the path of Dharma. And what Dharma is too gets a good airing in this precious gem of a text.
Many commentaries there are on the Gita. The interpretations though, are variously coloured and treated, never steer away from the one suggestion that the embodied soul, that most of us can conclude we are, has another life in freedom and joy, an unlimited capacity in taking upon oneself all tasks that are divinely decreed, that the swabhava, or true essence within, knows to be its natural way towards fulfillment of its existence, its potentialities, its manifestation.
Sri Aurobindo, in his commentaries that take the form of Essays on The Gita, teases out the integral approach inherent in the Gita in dealing with human life, a life not very unlike one lived upon a battlefield, whether it is in one’s home, work place or within the heart of oneself or all three combined and more.
The Gita must be about the only scripture, one can, with a measure of confidence say, that addresses a man of action, as it were, positing him right in the midst of a battle-field, between two armies on the verge of war. The setting is of immense import, physically, psychologically, mentally, vitally. The sense of an immense conflict on every side sometimes floods in upon us too, at moments, intense moments of crises. In such a setting, the gallant warrior breaks down, drops his bow and falls upon his knees, refusing to fight the good fight, his excuses those that we too are likely to utter during moments of crises, and which crumple as feeble in the presence of The Immanent Teacher. This is a scripture that aims at transformation from within. We can state this somewhat valid assumption then, that where there is man, there is action and where there is action, there is strife and where there is strife, a guidance is called upon and wherever this cry is, a Gita appears, an Upadesh, so to speak, from the mouth of the realized to the seeking and calling spirit, bound, crying to be set free, liberated.

Sri Aurobindo, in his divine pragmatism, posits the Gita for us in its right place in our lives as he begins his Essays on The Gita, which were first published in the Arya: “..what we can do with profit is to seek in the Gita for the actual living truths it contains, apart from their metaphysical form, to extract from it what can help us or the world at large and to put it in the most natural and vital form and expression we can find that will be suitable to the mentality and helpful to the spiritual needs of our present-day humanity.”

Taking a daring step onto the battlefield, let’s hear out the Song of the Lord sounding deep in the din…