Guiding Light of The Month

Tell me, wilt Thou grant me the marvellous power to give birth to this dawn in expectant hearts, to awaken the consciousness of men to Thy sublime presence, and in this bare and sorrowful world awaken a little of Thy true Paradise? What happiness, what riches, what terrestrial powers can equal this wonderful gift! - The Mother

Walking in Light: Dreams Continued

How does one give attention to dreams? It is apparent that one would first need to make an effort to remember one’s dreams. The Mother has suggested that dreams be recorded each time we awake after one. Making a conscious effort in the night, telling oneself quietly to record mentally all dreams that take place and to record them physically upon waking helps a lot. However, most often, we tend to continue to sleep on after dreams and pass on to the next dream after conveniently forgetting the earlier. For this waking up after a dream, the sleep state needs to be injected with more and more consciousness. The Mother has suggested cutting up sleep into sections, i.e., awakening from sleep after the first 3 odd hours, and then subsequently, every one or two hours, and infusing our consciousness into it. Instinct and probably experience will tell us that this cutting up of sleep into chunks cannot be if our sleep pattern is erratic, irregular and inadequate. It appears that only after one has set sleep on its right path can one proceed on to embark on dreams. It is recommended that readers read the books referred to in the foot note below. Each one needs to find his or her own footing in this issue as in everything else about this sadhana.

The first effort appears to be our aptitude for remaining conscious about of dreams and sleep. The Mother has aptly pointed out, through a quotation she makes from a “a passage in a book devoted to the study of inner life” in the year 1912, 25th March “For where there is no consciousness, there can be no memory.” A revealing statement! Many of us need not try too hard to weed out for scrutiny such forgotten states without consciousness in our day-to-day lives. It goes without saying how important it is to cultivate the faculty of memory in order to remember dreams we have had during the nights. Once dreams are remembered and recalled then comes the task of understanding them according to their categories. The Mother says, “We must therefore learn to know our dreams, and first of all to distinguish between them.” So what then are these categories or types that The Mother speaks of?

The first type, according to The Mother, are dreams resulting from a “purely mechanical and uncontrolled activity” of the physical brain. During sleep, certain cells continue to function, generating “sensory images and impressions” related to input of pictures received from our exterior environment. As these are caused by the physical circumstances surrounding our lives, such as the food we eat, our position in bed or our state of health, these dreams have a good chance of being controlled, by altering that which causes them. The Mother marks these out as useless activities which can be controlled and eliminated.

The next type of dreams are those “which are nothing but futile manifestations of the erratic activities of certain mental faculties, which associate ideas, conversations and memories that come together at random.” These perhaps accounts for some of our dreams that incorporate childhood associations with something of present times, creating sometimes an interesting storyline or else a meshwork of mixed episodes without much coherence, except for some items and articles we can associate with as being in our lives at one time or another.

The Mother calls these “erratic” activities as significant, as they reveal the confusion within in the mental being which is not organized or ordered, existing as an independent and unordered entity.

The Mother refers to a third category of dreams as those which arise from the inner being freed from the constraints imposed on it by the active will. These are the dreams that reveal to us our “tendencies, inclinations, impulses, desires” which may not necessarily be revealed in our ordinary waking state, kept in check by our “will to realize our ideal”.

The best use of these dreams appear to be their potential in revealing to us that part of our inner being which is presently obscure to our own vision and knowledge, cognition and comprehension. Is it possible to know our dreams intimately? We take this up in our June issue.

1. The Mother (1978). Words of Long Ago. Sri Aurobindo Ashram Trust, Pondicherry
2. Sri Aurobindo Society, AIM Booklet (1999 - 2004). How to Sleep Well, Sri Aurobindo Society, Pondicherry
- Jayanthy

IEP: reflections from children

(I)

I joined today’s IEP Class. I liked very much joining back the class and it was very interesting. We all learned a new game called “GO” taught by Adi Uncle. The game was very challenging and we had to use our brains to play the GO Game. We should concentrate and use our knowledge to play the game well. We got the print outs of the game details and also the website address where we could go and play too. We were all really thankful to Adi Uncle for sharing this new game with us.

Naveen and I played this game for a while and after that we went out for outdoor play. We all enjoyed a lot playing the blind fold game. Shree Valli akka was the “blinded” and she was trying to catch us. Later after completing the outdoor game we came back to Mother’s room and discussed our feelings on that day’s IEP class.

My younger sister came, she played with Anjali, Sofia and other kids outside the room doing stuff with some sand, colour painting. They too enjoyed playing with mud, water and paints. Other younger groups made aeroplanes using Styrofoam and flew it out on the open field.

Finally, we did mediation with Mother’s music and departed to our homes. I am glad I attended IEP class, and learnt new things with friends.
- Kishore
(II)

In I.E.P., I did five things. First, aunty Jaishree read a story of many animals fighting for the king tree. During the story I felt that the animals were not sharing the king tree because each one of them had their own reasons for keeping the king tree alive. But at the end the animals worked together and managed to save the king tree. During the reflection and sharing time, we shared what we learned. I learned to share and work together.

Thirdly, we did a house plan using recycled pages from magazines. It was a lot of fun and I liked it very much. After that, we went out to play. First, we played `Soldiers’. I learned to care and help my team members. Next, we played ‘Go Past The River On a boat’. I was once going to fall into the river with lots of crocodiles. Finally, we went back to the room for a magic trick. During the magic trick I was thinking of what the answer could be. I tried to answer the questions. The questions were difficult but also fun.

My favourite parts in I.E.P. were the games and the magic trick. It was a lot of fun and I enjoyed it as it was very interesting. I had a great time and lots of fun in I.E.P. that day.

- Priyanka

Walk review

We met on the morning of 21st March, at 8am at the visitors’ center of Bukit Timah Nature Reserve. We did meditation and some warm up exercises and learned the route. We headed along South View Path. It was very tiring. Then we went on to the main road. After that we turned on to Rock Path. We climbed a very steep pile of rocks. It was challenging. Once again, we turned on the main road. Soon, we reached Summit Path. When we reached the end of the path, we went to summit hut and rested our legs. We had some snacks and drinks and a closing meditation. Then, we went down the main road towards the starting point.

We watched the monkeys. Vignesh was scared and he threw a piece of red bean bun to them. They delightfully ate it up. In the meantime, Dheeraj and I went up to the museum. We saw it all by the window. Finally, it was time to go home. Everyone went home happily.
We were all exhausted but elated.

- Pranav

Being a young IEP facilitator

Every alternate Sunday is a much awaited time for me. It means going for IEP and spending useful time there. Being the youngest facilitator I enjoy sharing what I have learnt. IEP gives me a time out of my studies and time to put my mind into something that I enjoy doing. Shree Valli and I conduct the aspect of physical education.

I enjoy doing this as it involves games and team-building activities. I usually take the bigger kids as I know what their expectations are and Shree Valli takes the smaller kids because she knows the likes and dislikes of those children much better than I do. We usually get the kids to do physical education from 4pm to 5pm during the 3pm to 5pm class. As you see, we get almost half of the session to ourselves.

Shree Valli and I are very thankful for the time given and try to make the best use of it. We change the games to the likes of the kids. For example when we were playing Captain’s Ball, the game did not attract the small kids so we came up with the ‘passing policy’ which made it compulsory for the big children to pass it to the small ones before scoring.

These are some situations where facilitators are made to think and change the activity immediately to fit the kids’ interest. I had also learnt many things from the kids. I truly say from my heart that I love IEP and I will always not take this as mere work but as work I love doing.

In offering to The Mother
Vishnuraj, IEP Facilitator, Age 14

Sanskrit: The Language of the Gods and a way of life.

A 10-day ‘Spoken Sanskrit’ course, beautifully designed by Samskrita Bharati was conducted by Dr. Anuradha Choudry from the 13th of March 2010. Anu, as she is fondly known by members here was an instant draw, with her unmatched vibrancy.

This course was attended by a wide range of age groups, with participants ranging from 4 to 50 years in age. However, all were students of the same level trying to grasp all that was being taught in a multi-sensorial approach. It was a vibrant classroom where the power of words was being rediscovered through speech, action, songs, interactive drama and puzzles and games and stories. Authentic scientific facts to support the effect of the language on our mind and brain were also shared together with an explanation of their benefits.

Four classes was all it took of the 10-day course for the children, whose minds were like sponges, to start emailing and sending text messages in Sanskrit. One can envisage the effect of the course in the lives of these children.

The sessions were very interactive and this could be a reason for its grand success and its effectiveness. We had Chinese classmates who made simple poems and elaborate sentences. There were also calls for a repeat of this course in future.

We all came away so happy at the end of the 10 days. There was no examination pressure but the indicated objectives were met even so. All pre-conceived notions about Sanskrit being an exclusive language that was difficult to learn were shattered to pieces. There was great enjoyment and a sense of achievement which spoke well for the course of this nature. Participants showed great enthusiasm in wanting to master this language.

Here is a big THANK YOU to Anuradha for being such an effective facilitator.
- Jaishree

Reflections on the 4th of April 2010

Everyone who attended had a very solemn experience journeying through an hour-and-a-half- long programme, starting with readings from ‘Savitri’ and The Mother’s ‘Prayers and Meditations’.

The Vedic chanting of ‘Purusha Suktam’ and ‘Sri Suktam’ by Sri Krishnamurthy and Sri Ramanathan gave the listeners immense joy of feeling the PARAMA PURUSHA in their hearts where goddess Lakshmi resides to open the channels of love and devotion.

I perceive the ‘Durga Stotram’ by Sri Aurobindo to be a power-packed plea if chanted in real yearning, transforming us from Human to Divine.
‘Mother Awakens’ read by Smt. Sundari was very inspirational.

Bhajans by Smt. Padmini on Guru and The Divine Mother were a fitting finish to the sacred evening. The melodious music made us sway in ecstasy.
Overall, I felt the occasion was indeed a fertile moment to nurture the growth of God in us to transform our body, mind and the vital.
- Jayalakshmi

Flowers of the month

Skill in Works


Must be used consciously.
– The Mother

Common Name: Annual phlox
Botanical Name: Phlox drummondii
Spiritual Name: Skill in Works


Perfect Planning of Work


Can only be obtained with the consciousness of the Divine.
- The Mother


Common Name: Indian privet
Botanical Name: Clerodendrum inerme
Spiritual Name: Perfect Planning of Work



The Human Race in Light of Sri Aurobindo’s Integral Yoga: ‘Three Stages of Society’ - Towards spiritualized society


‘Human knowledge and power manifest in many ways in the course of evolution. Three stages of it can be noticed - a natural state dominated by the body and controlled by life force, an intermediate and more advanced state predominantly rational, and the last highest state in which the soul is predominant’ – ‘From dominance of life to reason, from reason to the suprarational love, these are the steps of man’s ascent to the peaks of God’ (‘Dharma’ by Sri Aurobindo). ‘Man, when he is dominated by the body and driven by life-force is a slave of desires and interests. He knows only inherent selfishness, ordinary instinct and impulse’ (ibid.).

In several parts of the world, at the dawn of civilizations, as the mental faculties of thinking and reasoning evolved, human beings learnt to associate themselves into small groups or tribes for exchange of their physical needs like food, water, shelter. The earliest tribal life primarily consisted of hunting, growing food, construction of shelters and finding mutual means of protection from environmental threats. Major interaction, commitment within its members was predominantly for fulfillment of physical needs. Desire to preserve their resources for future, motivated them to learn agriculture, construction of shelters and protection from natural calamities. Living together and equally sharing pleasure and pain, they experienced the first emotional attachment that culminated in group identity. Major social interactions in the modern age are also based on these materialistic necessities and mutual dependencies.

‘The man who is primarily intellectual always tries to regulate his desires and interests by reason.’ (‘Dharma’ by Sri Aurobindo)

The development of mental capacities did not stop after fulfillment of bodily needs. Dissatisfaction with the existing achievements motivated continuous search for better means of life. Probing into the mysteries of nature around them and finding means to overcome the hurdles for their physical existence continued uninterrupted. The psychological and emotional bonding gradually resulted into formation of a family, a group or a tribe and a society dissolving the individual egos into that of the group. These societies together formed into clans, kingdoms and states and further expanded into nations. People communicated and exchanged their ideas as languages began to develop. Rational mind with its questioning power has resulted in advancements in science and technology that could provide more comforts of life. Art and poetry were the outcome of the subtle and aesthetic mind finding great joy in self expression. Intellectual and rational thinking plays a predominant role even in present times in our social interaction.

When did this concept of spirit and God, the perception of the divine spark begin in the human societies? In spite of physical growth and intellectual or rational progress, man was still searching for the secret that would reconnect him with his origin, the power that would give him true joy. Death and impermanence of the material world always puzzled him. His love for life motivated him to search for means of attaining immortality and control the unknown laws of nature.

‘To the primitive man everything is living in the first place, and to him death in the sense of annihilation has no meaning at all. People come to him, go away, and come again. Sometimes they go away and do not come. Therefore in the most ancient language of the world death is always expressed by some sort of going. This is the beginning of religion. Thus the primitive man was searching everywhere for a solution of his difficulty — where do they all go?’(‘The Complete Works of Swami Vivekanada, Volume 8’).

The early Egyptians mummified their dead bodies and built pyramids in quest of immortality. Their entire religion was in search of a spirit imperishable and immortal. They dreamed of living eternally and desired that life should not cease. The ancient Chinese did intensive research to invent the elixir of life for longevity and immortality. This quest for immortality or prolonging of life is being carried out incessantly throughout ages across the world both by science and metaphysics.

The endeavors to perceive the spirit behind all existence and the inner spiritual experiences of enlightened souls gave birth to all religions that aimed at realizing this inherent oneness of spirit and Divine spark within as well as around us. Establishing a society nurtured on spiritual Oneness and Divine laws is the primary purpose of all faiths.

‘A spiritualized society would live like its spiritual individuals, not in the ego, but in the spirit, not as the collective ego, but as the collective soul. (‘Human Cycle’, by Sri Aurobindo, page 255)’. ‘For the perfectly spiritualized society will be one in which, as is dreamed by the spiritual anarchist, all men will be deeply free, and it will be so because the preliminary condition will have been satisfied. In that state each man will be not a law to himself, but the law, the divine Law, because he will be a soul living in the Divine Reality and not an ego living mainly if not entirely for its own interest and purpose. His life will be led by the law of his own divine nature liberated from the ego. (‘Human Cycle’, by Sri Aurobindo, page 259)’.

In spite of great advancements in all spheres of life, we see around the world today extreme discontentment, disharmony, conflict and mutual hatred between different groups that often compel us to think pessimistically about the possible annihilation of human species. The combined egos of different people based on ethnic or religious groupings are expanding enormously. The clash of these egos is creating disharmony in human societies preventing their very peaceful coexistence and joy of life. On the positive side, simultaneously there is also growing awareness about the spiritual oneness of humanity and a conscious aspiration for a spiritualized society as envisioned in last Mantra of Rigveda (10-191-4) ‘Samani Vha Aakuti, Samana Hrudyani Vha, Samanam Astu Vo Mano, Yatha Vha Su Saha Asti’ (Unite your resolve, unite your hearts, may your spirits be at one, that you may long together dwell in unity and concord).
‘A spiritualized society can alone bring about a reign of individual harmony and communal happiness; or, in words which, though liable to abuse by the reason and the passion, are still the most expressive we can find, a new kind of theocracy, the kingdom of God upon earth, a theocracy which shall be the government of mankind by the Divine in the hearts and minds of men.’ (‘Human Cycle’, by Sri Aurobindo, page 182).
Note : Sri Aurobindo’s first article on human society written in his weekly ‘Dharma’, in 1909, gives us an initial glimpse of his visions on spiritualized human society expressed in ‘Human Cycle’ and ‘Ideal of Human Unity’ .

- Sundari KBT( kbt.sundari@gmail.com)

Sri Aurobindo on the veda

“In the Vedic idea of revelation there is no suggestion of the miraculous or the supernatural. The Rishi who employed these faculties, had acquired them by a progressive self-culture. Knowledge itself was a travelling and a reaching, or a finding and a winning; the revelation came only at the end, the light was the prize of a final victory. There is continually in the Veda this image of the journey, the soul's march on the path of Truth. On that path, as it advances, it also ascends; new vistas of power and light open to it's aspiration; it wins by a heroic effort it's enlarged spiritual possessions.”

“The Vedic poets are masters of a consummate technique, their rhythms are carved like chariots of the Gods, and borne on divine and ample wings of sound, and are at once concentrated and wide-waved, great in movement and subtle in modulation, their speech lyric by intensity and epic by elevation, an utterance of great power, pure and bold and grand in outline, a speech direct and brief in impact, full to overflowing in sense and suggestion so that each verse exists at once as a strong and sufficient thing in itself and takes it's place as a large step between what came before and what comes after.”

The secret of the vedas - a first attempt: History and the Preservation of the vedas


Researchers are still struggling to fix up the exact period of the Vedās. Many Hindus believe that the Vedās were transmitted orally for up to 8000 years. Most Western and a few Indian commentators see this as an exaggeration and date the earliest part of the Veda, the Rig-Veda Samhita, to around 1800–800 BCE. However, it is acknowledged by most that the Vedās did indeed have a long oral tradition and were passed from teacher to disciple for at least many centuries before first being written down. Accordingly, some have estimated that the earliest part of the Vedās may date to 2500–2000 BCE.


For several centuries, the Vedās had to be committed to memory and were passed on orally from generation to generation. Without the use of writing, a fool-proof method was used to chant each mantra in various patterns and combinations such as Pada, Krama, Jata and Ghana Pāṭhas to prevent any errors creeping into the Vedās. The modes of chanting prescribes the basics, like how much time one has to take for reciting a syllable / word, how to regulate breathing while reciting so that required vibrations are produced in the specific parts of the body which will yield pure word-sound.

Codification / Classiification of the Vedās:

Originally the Veda was a single (oral) book of mantrās (‘ekō vedāh). It is a belief that the potency of the Vedās started decaying with the departure of Lord Sri Krishna from this world. This is also considered as a Divine Plan for the Kali Yuga for which only a part of the glory and effulgence of the Vedās is to be left over from total extinction. This Divine arrangement was accomplished through Sage Veda Vyāsa. This sage was then not known under this name. His name was Dwaipāyana as he was born in an island (Dweepa- in Sanskrit). He was considered as a manifestation of Bhagawān Sri Krishna himself for fulfilling a specific purpose in this world and hence he was known as Krishna Dwaipāyana.

The word ’Vyāsa’ in Sanskrit means an essay, composition or splitter. It also means dealing with a matter, subject wise and classifying it suitably. As Krishna Dwaipāyana did all these tasks for the proper study and understanding of the Vedās he became famous as Sage Veda Vyāsa. He collected all the Mantrās in existence during his period, edited, codified and organized them into four groups which he taught to his four chief disciples, whose names are given below:

The Rig veda was taught to Paila
The Yajur veda* was taught to Vaishampāyana
The Sāma veda was taught to Jaimini
The Atharva veda was taught to Sumantu


*Note: Yajur Veda has two major recensions – ‘Shukla Yajur Veda’ and ‘Krishna Yajur Veda’
Krishna or the ‘Taittirīya’ is the older book and the Shukla or the ‘Vājasanēya’ is a later revelation to sage ‘Yājnavalkya’ from the resplendent Sun-God.

These collections are called Samhitās. They bring out the purport of a Veda in the shape of ‘mantrās’ methodically arranged. Samhitā means that which is collected and arranged. There are three types of mantrās in all the four Veda Samhitās. They are rik or rk, yajus and sāman. Some of them are metrical and others not.

• rk mantra is a verse of illumination which is in one of the various meters such as Gāyatri, Anustup, Trishtup. The metre is determined by the number of syllables ending with a vowel. A mantra in Gāyatri metre should have 24 such syllables.
• yajus mantra is a short rhythmic phrase such as ‘namah shivāya. It is appropriate to characterize the Yajus mantrās as prose. A popular misconception is that Yajur Veda has only yajus mantras. In fact, a third of the total number of mantras in any of its recension are in rks.
• A sāman is a metrical mantra sung in a prescribed manner, which is elaborate. Usually the text of a sāman mantra is the same as that of a rk mantra.

It is to be noted that Rig Veda Samhitā is a collection of only ṛk mantrās; Sāma Veda Samhitā is made of only sāman mantrās. However, Yajur Veda and Atharva Veda Samhitās contain both the rk and yajus mantrās.

There is also a substantial overlap among the four Veda Samhitās. In fact, Rig Veda provides its text to others in the proportions such as 95% to Sāma Veda Samhitā, 50% to Shukla Yajur Veda Samhitā and 30% to Atharva Veda Samhitā. The total number of mantrās in all the four Samhitās (Rig, Shukla-Yajur, Sāma and Atharva) is roughly 20,000.
Rig Veda Samhitā: It is a book of about 10,552 mantrās, each in a specific metre, arranged in 10 mandalās (chapters). Each mandala has several Sūkthās or hymns. On an average, each Sūktha has about 10 mantrās. All these were revealed to over 1000 sages or seers. Some of them were women seers too like Vāk Ambrni, Lopamudrā, Sūrya, Apāla etc.

Yajur Veda Samhitā: In its two recensions (Shukla and Krishna) both metrical and non-metrical poems are present. Shukla Yajur Veda has about 1600 mantrās; It is made of 40 chapters, the last one being the famous ‘Īshāvasya Upanishad’. Krishna Yajur Veda’s ‘Taittirīya Samhitā’ has 4773 mantrās of which 3248 are Yajus mantrās in rhythmic prose and 1525 mantrās are ‘rks’ (metrical).

Sāma Veda Samhitā: It is a book of about 2000 metrical verses, all but 75 of them are in Rig Veda Samhitā. These verses are chanted in an elaborate way labelled ‘udgīta’. The text used for chanting is an expanded version of the basic text found in Sāma and Rig Veda Samhitās. The chanting notation of its text involves 7 symbols, unlike the 3 in Rig Veda Samhitā, thus providing the foundation for Indian music with its basic 7 notes.

Atharva Veda Samhitā: It has verses both metrical and non-metrical. The metrical verses are 6000 of which 1200 are in Rig Veda Samhitā. It has a total of 731 sūkthās, 80 of which are non-metrical. It has several interesting hymns dealing with different branches of knowledge. It has the first definition of mathematical infinity stating that ‘Infinity is that which is left after subtracting infinity out of it’. Has hymns like ‘Bhumi Sūktha' to cover ecology and others to deal with society at large.

It will now be very clear to realize how important and antique the Rig Veda is and why Sri Aurobindo had selected the same for the study of its deeper understanding and contemplation.

References
1. ‘ The Light of Veda – A Practical Approach ’ – by Sri T.V.Kapāli Sastry
2. ‘ A New Light on the Veda ’ – by Sri T.V.Kapāli Sastry
(Originally written in Sanskrit under the name ‘Siddhānjana – Bhūmika’, translated into English by Sri M.P.Pandit and thoroughly revised by the author himself, in 1952. Published by Sri Aurobindo Kapali Sastry Institute of Vedic Culture, Bangalore. (SAKSI) )
3. ‘ Agni in the Rig Veda ’ - by Dr R.L.Kashyap
4. ‘ Why read the Rig Veda ’ – by Dr R.L.Kashyap

The yoga of Divine works - the four aids

Yoga-Siddhi, the perfection that comes from the practice of Yoga, can be best attained by the combined working of four great instruments. There is, first, the knowledge of the truths, principles, powers and processes that govern the realization - sastra. Next comes a patient and persistent action on the lines laid down by this knowledge, the force of our personal effort - utsaha. There intervenes, third, uplifting of our knowledge and effort into the domain of spiritual experience, the direct suggestion, example and influence of the Teacher - guru. Last comes the instrumentality of Time - kāla; for in all things there is a cycle of their action and a period of the divine movement.


(‘The Synthesis of Yoga’, Sri Aurobindo Ashram Trust 1980, published by Sri Aurobindo Ashram, Pondicherry)

Mahasaraswati

The science and craft and technique of things are Mahasaraswati’s province. Always she holds in her nature and can give to those whom she has chosen the intimate and precise knowledge, the subtlety and patience, the accuracy of intuitive mind and conscious hand and discerning eye of the perfect worker. This Power is strong, the tireless, the careful and efficient builder, organizer, administrator, technician, artisan and classifier of the worlds. When she takes up the transformation and new-building of the nature, her action is laborious and minute and often seems to our impatience slow and interminable, but it is persistent, integral and flawless. For the will in her works is scrupulous, unsleeping, indefatigable; leaning over us she notes and touches every little detail, finds out every minute defect, gap, twist or incompleteness, considers and weighs accurately all that has been done and all that remains still to be done hereafter. Nothing is too small or apparently trivial for her attention; nothing however impalpable or disguised or latent can escape her.

- Sri Aurobindo on Mahasaraswati in ‘The Mother’

On working silently

  • For the sake of sadhana and for the sake of work, it is always better to work silently.
  • When there is some work to do, the less one speaks of it the better it is.
  • Talk as little as possible, Work as much as you can.
  • Do not worry about the work; the more you will do it quietly and calmly, the more it will become effective.
  • Work for the Divine and you will feel an ineffable joy filling your being.

Sri Aurobindo and The Mother on work


Work for the Mother done with the right concentration on her is as much a sadhana as meditation and inner experiences.

Those who work for the Mother in all sincerity are prepared by the work itself for the right consciousness even if they do not sit down for meditation or follow any particular practice of Yoga. It is not necessary to tell you how to meditate; whatever is needful will come of itself, if in your work and at all times you are sincere and keep yourself open to the Mother.

To go entirely inside in order to have experiences and to neglect the work, the external consciousness, is to be unbalanced, one-sided in the sadhana- for our Yoga is integral; so also to throw oneself outward and live in the external being alone is to be unbalanced, one-sided in the sadhana. One must have the same consciousness in inner experience and outward action and make both full of the Mother

It is not our experience that by meditation alone it is possible to change the nature, nor has retirement from outward activity and work much profited those who have tried it; in many cases it has been harmful. A certain amount of concentration, an inner aspiration in the heart and an opening of the consciousness to the Mother’s presence there and to the descent from above are needed. But without action, without work, the nature does not really change; it is there and by contact with men that there is the test of the change in the nature. As for the work one does, there is no higher or lower work; all work is the same provided it is offered to the Mother and done for her and in her power.

There is nothing small in God’s eyes; let there be nothing small in thine. He bestows as much labour of divine energy on the formation of a shell as on the building of an empire. For thyself it is greater to be a good shoemaker than a luxurious and incompetent king.

The ideal of the Karmayogin


Mam anusmara yudhya cha, is the motto of the Karmayogin. God manifests himself in the individual partially, but He stands behind the progress of the world wholly. We are bound to use our own intellects, we cannot help it if we would, but we must remember that it is a limited intellect and be prepared for the failure of our schemes and plans, for calamity, for defeat, without making these things an excuse for abandoning His work, laying our principles on the shelf or sending out a cry to discourage steadfastness and self-sacrifice. Our plans may fail, God's purpose cannot. That is why we laid so much stress on the fact that this has been a movement which, as the man in the street would say, has led itself, in which individuals have been instruments and not the real shapers and leaders. We have faith and we believe in the great rule of life in The Gita, "Remember me and fight".


- Sri Aurobindo in ‘Karmayogin’, 24th of July, 1909.

Question of the month

Q: Sometimes when I am absorbed in meditation I see and feel that my physical being aspires through work. Then I see a sun manifesting in my physical with its brilliant lights. All the gods and forces emanating from You are in this sun.

A: The Mother: Yes, it is true that in and through work one can enter into contact with the sun of divine light and force.


(CWM Vol 14, Sri Aurobindo Ashram Trust 1980, published by Sri Aurobindo Ashram, Pondicherry)


Q: I am always in touch with the Mother during work. Not only do I remember her but the contact with her remains during work. Her force constantly flows into the Adhar and the work is done automatically, but swiftly, perfectly, unhesitatingly - without personal anxieties and responsibilities; instead, there is confidence, sureness, strength, calmness. I feel that if I can do work in this attitude, it will be perfect, flawless, the work of the Mother’s child, not of an egoistic man. Kindly let me know if I am correct.

A: Sri Aurobindo: Yes, it is a very good progress and the first step towards the right use of the Power for action.

(Selected from ‘Sri Aurobindo on Himself and on the Mother’, Sri Aurobindo Ashram, Pondicherry 1953)


Q: What are the steps to follow for (1) sadhana and (2) silence of the mind?
A: The Mother:
(1) Do work as sadhana. You offer to the Divine the work you do to the best of your capacities and you leave the result to the Divine.

(2) Try to become conscious first above your head, keeping the brain as silent as possible.

If you succeed and work is done in that condition, then it will become perfect.


(CWM Vol 14, Sri Aurobindo Ashram Trust 1980, published by Sri Aurobindo Ashram, Pondicherry)

The Divine Worker

I face earth's happenings with an equal soul;
In all are heard Thy steps: Thy unseen feet
Tread Destiny's pathways in my front. Life's whole
Tremendous theorem is Thou complete.

No danger can perturb my spirit’s calm:
My acts are Thine; I do Thy works and pass;
Failure is cradled on Thy deathless arm,
Victory is Thy passage mirrored in Fortune's glass.

In this rude combat with the fate of man
Thy smile within my heart makes all my strength;
Thy Force in me labours at it's grandiose plan,
Indifferent to the Time-snake's crawling length.

No power can slay my soul; it lives in Thee.
Thy presence is my Immortality.


- Sri Aurobindo

From Savitri

This bright perfection of her inner state
Poured overflowing into her outward scene,
Made beautiful dull common natural things
And action wonderful and time divine.
Even the smallest meanest work became
A sweet or glad and glorious sacrament,
An offering to the self of the great world
Or a service to the One in each and all.


(Savitri, Book 7, Canto 6)

Editorial

The theme for this month’s issue revolves around “works”. Work could be taken to mean a meaningful action an organism undertakes towards an end. Our day to day activities are filled with work that we can divide accordingly based on the seat of its origin or the plane of its action, namely physical, mental or vital. Similarly, in the spiritual context, especially in the philosophy of Integral Yoga, work may also originate from other two planes, namely the psychic or spiritual. What may be the need of identifying the types of work, one may ask. Knowing the origin of our works may throw some light into the consciousness with which we approach work and complete a task. For those interested in an inner, luminous life ruling over the outer, an introspection upon this phenomena, “work” may throw some light onto one’s existing state of consciousness and the subsequent motivations and pave the way for some changes, small or phenomenal, or paradigmatic, in the way we conceive of and carry out works for the fulfillment of higher ideals that confront us, first as an individual and next as a race set upon the tracks of evolution.

In the works of Sri Aurobindo, he makes two distinctions of works. First, there is work that is done for the fulfillment of personal aims and goals and for the satisfaction of desires. Desires themselves can be controlled by some moral principle we adhere to, or mental control. At this level, at a higher level, some mental ideal may drive our works. But this type of work appears trivial in the shadow of another kind of work that is suggested, and that is work done for the Divine. In this context, the ego, which is a prime maker of desires retires or is apparently extinguished. The motive force of work becomes the Divine and Sri Aurobindo points out that the ultimate aim of this kind of work is to bring down the “Supramental Light and Force.” A natural result of this follows and that is the “transformation of the nature.”

It is this state of transformation that motivates the works of those who choose the spiritual path. It is to be an instrument of the Divine in the truest sense. However, this state does not come, usually, easily or swiftly. It calls for a turn of one’s consciousness away from the usual wants of life such as the seeking after power and position, fulfillment of desires, needs, a push to activity or a pleasure of manifesting one’s capacities. The replacing motivation comes from, rather, a simultaneous distaste in and shying away from anything pursued for oneself, be it one’s ambitions, or desires and mental goals. In a life given to Yoga, these elements lose their “full and free play”, and are replaced by the last two of the five we mentioned above, the psychic and the spiritual which assume the role of prime movers of work in a Sadhak’s advanced state.

There is a promise that for him who chooses the Divine, the Divine Himself shows the path of works and Himself accomplishes it for him, using his mental or vital forces to His own end. Now, this can be said to be the result of a life consecrated to the Divine. However, currently, for many of us, between our normal selves and this consecrated state may exist a gulf, big or small, according to where we are in this endeavour, and we ourselves, with our communion with the Highest Being residing in us can reckon and seek remediation through His help.

What are the ways of works for one set on this path? This issue takes up the discourse.

Walking in Light: A peek at physical culture

Dreams

A phenomenon that cannot be dissociated from sleep is ‘dream’. What does ‘dream’ or ‘dreaming’ mean? The conventional meaning of dream is “…a series of images or feelings that occur in your mind while you are asleep…” (Oxford Dictionary, 2002). ‘Dreaming’ is the verb form of dream. The study of dreams is known as oneirology. Studies indicate that daily, during our sleep, we spend about two hours dreaming. Most dreams are between 5 to 20 minutes. It is said that dreams that we have at the beginning hours of sleep are relatively shorter, and as we progress into sleep, the dreams get longer and longer. Also, we are, it appears, able to remember most of the dreams we have later in our sleep than those that we have earlier. Another fact about dreams is that, during the state of dream, the release of certain neurotransmitters are completely suppressed, hence preventing the motor neurons (that are responsible for all muscular movements and hormonal secretions) from being stimulated. This arrangement saves us from performing dangerous movements in the course of dream. One might have the sensation of running away frantically from a pursuing animal or human in the dream, but one hardly finds oneself actually running, physically in the course of that dream. What a clever mechanism of suppression of the release of neurotransmitters during sleep. One can imagine the repercussions if only the neurotransmitters are released as in our waking state!

It has been widely acknowledged that dreams are a cause of mental activity which rarely ceases during sleep. This is one evidence that points to the fact that while the physical body is in repose, the mind is not. A dreamless state where the mind too is in repose is possible, but for this, The Mother says that a perfect control over the mind must first be in place. More often than not, the activities during sleep are heightened because the mental control is laxed during this time and “..the sensory being……reacts all the more violently during the night when this constraint is no longer effective.” For many of us, it is in dreams that many suppressed tendencies, desires and inclinations seek their expression as the active will is dormant or asleep. It is no wonder than that it is in his sleep that man’s truest nature is revealed.

The Mother has given significance to dreams in that they can reveal to us what we are in our inner states. If dreams are a gateway to revealing what we are in our innermost regions, then they merit great attention in this endeavour of knowing ourselves, inside out. How does one give attention to dreams? This will be taken up during the May issue of the Newsletter.

1. The Mother (1978). Words of Long Ago. Sri Aurobindo Ashram Trust, Pondicherry
2. The Mother (1979). Questions and Answers 1954. Sri Aurobindo Ashram Trust, Pondicherry
- Jayanthy

The Values IEP Taught me and Changed me as a Person

IEP has moulded me into a courageous, outspoken person. Through IEP, not only have I learnt these 2 qualities, but many others needed for life as well, qualities like resilience, patience and respecting other people.
Each and every quality was injected into me, through different ways, such as stories, games, past experiences, and the importance of that particular value. It taught me the most important quality, which is taking everything in a positive manner.
In IEP, each and everyone is treated equally and given the same amount of importance. Because of this I felt respected as a child or a person. There is no such thing as the older you are the more respected you will be, since, you can learn from one another despite the age.
I was introduced to IEP at the age of 8. It is a programme that enables one to experience every nook and corner of life. As parents do, the facilitators do not advise or scold me if I exhibit an undesirable behaviour .Rather, they explain why I am not supposed to do that without hurting my feelings. After they explain to me about my act, I feel good, and emerge a cleaner person who has gotten rid of one bad quality or I feel that I have rectified my mistake. I know that every mistake committed is a stepping stone of success. Believe me or not, you will not repeat the same mistake again. Talk to the facilitators, you will know!
Although I do not attend IEP classes now, because of longer hours of school commitment, I really look forward to special occasions that everyone attends and I try go for these. I really love talking to people in Mother’s centre, that type of love they have for the rest and the way they behave, WOW!! I SALUTE THEM!!!
Each and every day, one can learn, something through observing, talking to others, and admiring them. Not only do you admire, but keep them as your role model and try to follow their footsteps. For example, I have admired a lot of people with patience since I get angry very easily. But, I can safely say that I have reduced my temper a little and I am still trying to reduce my temper, and I know that even a little makes a big difference .The happiest place that I can be in is the Mother’s centre, that place is filled with happiness, peace, love and beautiful vibrations. I really like the people there, who are in the community of divine love. When I am surrounded by them, I feel secure, respected and recognized. Everywhere that I would turn, a familiar face appears. The feeling is wonderful, fantastic.
I really hope that one fine day; I would be like these people! How I wish!!!

- Meenakshi, Former IEP Child

The wire telephone

I joined the Integral Enrichment Programme (IEP) conducted by Sri Aurobindo Society, Singapore, as a facilitator this year after completing my GCE ‘A’ level Examinations. I came for the first week at my mom’s (also a facilitator) request to co-ordinate an activity on her behalf, but joined as a full-fledged facilitator after seeing all the friendly faces of the children and the facilitators. Though I have been involved with reading activity for children with SINDA since 2002, this is the first activity I have conducted for the IEP children.

To kindle the awareness and the knowledge that simple articles found in the house can be used to create creative and fun science experiments that can explain science concepts such as sound, light and states of matter, I chose to work on the ‘wire telephone’, which is made as follows:

Things you will need:

1. Three empty paper/plastic cups
2. A ball of thin, strong string
3. Scissors
4. A needle

Instructions:

Method:
1. Use a needle to make a small hole in the end of each cup. Thread an end of the string though.

2. Tie a knot on the inside to keep it in place. The plastic pot acts as both the mouthpiece and the earpiece.

3. If you make sure that the string is stretched tight, you can use the string telephone to talk to someone in another part of the room.

The string must be kept tight. If the string is loose, the vibrations from your voice are lost into the air. If it is tight, they cannot escape easily and so move down the string to the other end.

If there are three of you, you can make a third string telephone and use it as an extension. Tie the string to the first line in a convenient place.

On that day that I was to facilitate for the first time, not only the children but also the facilitators and even the accompanying parents took part where they were split into pairs and given the materials. Many of the children were doubtful if the contraption would work but after some demonstrations with a model I had prepared earlier, they got down to making their own ones with a little help from us. Although the older children knew how sound travels in air, they forgot that the same principles apply to solids which in this case was the thread stretched between the two cups. In fact they could feel the thread vibrate when they touched it while talking. In no time the children had their own models and the room was crisscrossed with threads as the they passed ‘secret messages’ and sounds. Even the 1+ year old child of one of our facilitators had fun saying “allo” to her older sister!

I was gratified to know that it even reached the toddler
- Aravind, Facilitator

1st Sunday, 7th march 2010

The Question - The role of logic and reason in our lives.

The APHORISM - Jnana 45.
Logic is the worst enemy of the Truth, as self-righteousness is the worst enemy of the virtue; for the one cannot see its own errors nor the other its own imperfections.

Members who attended this session had a very lively discussion on the above. To understand this aphorism we had to look at many hidden questions and meanings of key words. Our reason and logic led us on a process of unravelling and unpacking of the above but came to a nought very soon.

Then we took refuge in what Mother had said in response to that question. LOGIC in Mother’s words though helpful in deducing one idea from another and inferring from a fact all its consequences, does not itself possess the capacity to discern the Truth. The same holds true for SELF-RIGHTEOUSNESS, which is a feeling of virtuous superiority, to make one proud and disdainful of others, that makes one’s virtue completely worthless. Then a silence in the mind took hold of us and we concluded the session with meditation music. (The passage in the book gives a detailed explanation – The Mother (1984). The Mother on Thoughts and Aphorisms, Sri Aurobindo Ashram Trust, Pondicherry)

- Jayalakshmi

Sunday walk at Bukit Timah Nature reserve - my reflections

Fifteen of us, including the babies, Anjali and Sophia, duly assembled at the Visitors’ Centre and went through a very effective warming up session, led by Jayanthy.

This time, we took the South View Path leading to the 163-metres summit. The first plant that we encountered was the heritage tree, Artocarpus, one that must be hundred years old, having a trunk circumference of at least 6 metres. The next tree we saw was Terentang. It is explained that the ear-lobe design of its leaves is unique, helping them to fall and decompose close to the trunk, in order to supply maximum nutrients to the tree.

As we progressed deep into the jungle path, tall trees and their deep roots nestled in between other plants of various kinds. This was an experience that brought before me nature’s mute adoration for the Mother Divine! The ‘COBRAS’ of the roots of the giant trees criss-crossing everywhere, though an obstacle in our path also served as steps, if only we knew how to use them. Obstacles can indeed become a vital force in the progression of our spiritual journey.

Nature’s harmony and how it accommodates everything else around it is amazing. Vegetation of innumerable varieties in heights and types grow very close together in harmony. Amazing!

In such a state of exhilaration, I arrived at our dear hosts, Mr Rajah and his beloved wife Gnanambigai’s residence. It was a momentous occasion also as Mr Rajah’s entire family was gathered to celebrate his 80th Birthday.

After prayers and meditation, and a delicious lunch lovingly prepared and arranged, we bade adieu to Mr and Mrs Rajah with both full hearts and stomachs. Thank you Mr Rajah and Gnanambigai!
- Jayalakshmi

Flowers of the month

Call of the Divine Grace

Not loud but persistent and very perceptible to those who know how to listen.
- The Mother

Common Name: Wooden rose
Botanical Name: Operculina turpethum
Spiritual Name: Call of the Divine Grace


Joy's call



It is modest and rarely makes itself heard.
– The Mother
Common Name: Canterbury bells
Botanical Name: Campanula medium
Spiritual Name: Joy’s Call

The witness and the wheel

Who art thou in the heart comrade of man who sitst
August, watching his works, watching his joys and griefs,
Unmoved, careless of pain, careless of death and fate?
Witness, what hast thou seen watching this great blind world
Moving helpless in Time, whirled on the Wheel in Space,
That yet thou with thy vast Will biddest toil our hearts,
Mystic, - for without thee nothing can last in Time?
We too, when from the urge ceaseless of Nature turn
Our souls, far from the breast casting her tool, desire,
Grow like thee. In the front Nature still drives in vain
The blind trail of our acts, passions and thoughts and hopes;
Unmoved, calm, we look on, careless of death and fate,
Of grief careless and joy, - signs of a surface script
Without value or sense, steps of an aimless world.
Something watches behind, Spirit or Self or Soul,
Viewing Space and it's toil, waiting the end of Time.
Witness, who then art thou, one with thee who am I,
Nameless, watching the Wheel whirl across Time and Space.

- Sri Aurobindo

(‘The Witness and the Wheel’, ‘Collected Poems’, Sri Aurobindo Ashram Trust, Pondicherry)

The human race in light of Sri Aurobindo's integral yoga

Jagannath’s Rath – The Chariot of the Lord of the Worlds

In the 100th year of Sri Aurobindo’s arrival in Pondichery on 4th April 1910, we may recollect his first visions of Divine life on earth and journey of human race towards a higher consciousness.

We need to look at the world scenario to have a clearer glimpse of his vision. The 20th century was a period of greatest transformation, a major shift in the way that vast numbers of people lived, as a result of political, ideological, economic, social, cultural, scientific, technological, and medical progress. Efficient communication and faster transportation paved the way for future global concepts in all spheres.

The early arms races of the 20th century, imperialistic greed of the few to grab the world resources and their conflicting interests of becoming super powers escalated into two devastating world wars involving many powerful nations.( World War I from 1914 to1918, World War II from 1939 to 1945). The Russian Empire, the German Empire, the Ottoman Empire, and the Austro-Hungarian Empire dissolved in the first half of the century and the British Empire began to disintegrate after World War I. The world had experienced the greatest revolutionary and intellectual changes in their ideologies about governance, economic or social equality, rights and duties, distribution of wealth and religious beliefs. People began to cross the boundaries of their own ethnic surroundings and accept ideas from all corners of the world. The rise of nationalism in several parts of the world after a century of colonial and imperialistic domination kindled aspirations for peaceful coexistence, prosperity and progress. Many new nations were born on democratic, socialistic or communistic principles bridging the difference between the ruled and rulers and thus opening equal avenues of opportunity for all.

It was also at this juncture that Sri Aurobindo first showed to the world the ideals of future humanity in the Divine Plan. ‘The ideal society is the vehicle of the indwelling Godhead of human aggregate, the chariot of the journey of Jagannath. Unity, Freedom, Knowledge and Power constitute the four wheel of this chariot’ In his latter book ‘The Mother’ these four powers are also attributed to the prime forces of Universal Mother as Maheshwari, MahaKali, Mahalakshmi, Mahasaraswathi. Sri Aurobindo’s vision of human unity based on Divine principles of Nature and not external uniformity is being experienced today and its indispensability for the evolutionary growth of human race is equally becoming the need of the day, one century after he wrote those prophetic words in the Dharma Weekly in 1909. We always mention about overcoming the individual ego but Sri Aurobindo adds that group ego too in the form of ethnic communities, race or even nations adversely obstruct the human race on its path towards oneness. ‘The truth that the ego is the obstacle to the Divine fullness applies not only to the individual but holds equally good in the case of the collectivity’.

In the state of Orissa (Jagannath Puri) in India, a festival is celebrated every year during summer by pulling the chariot of Jagannath (Lord of the Worlds) by thousands of devotees. Months in advance the devotees begin to construct the chariot, decorate it until it is ready for taking Lord Jagannath. Sri Aurobindo mentions about this legendary festival to give us the hidden conceptual symbolism behind the external rituals and inspires us to aspire for building a perfect chariot of Jagannath on which the human race needs to continue its future evolutionary journey.

He classifies them into three varieties each built on one of the three Gunas namely Sattwa, Rajas, Tamas. For the first, ‘The Sattwic Ego is the owner-passenger’ and he says that as the temple of God is on a higher plane, the chariot cannot reach there and he has to get down and climb on foot. This may be the renouncing method in which man leaves the world of action for self realization. ‘The ancient Aryan society which came after the Vedic age can be called a chariot of this type’. The second type is driven by the Rajasic ego ‘whenever a new vista is seen not too far away, immediately the owner of the car, the Rajasic ego, drives in that direction shouting’ this is the goal’. One derives much pleasure and enjoyment in riding this car; yet the peril is unavoidable and to reach the Divine is impossible.’ The third type is driven by the Tamasic ego, ‘The name of the owner is Tamasic ego and that of the cart-man, book-knowledge.’ ‘The danger lies in the fact that it is beyond the knowledge and capacity of the Tamasic ego to recognize or admit the time for changing the vehicle’.

Sri Aurobindo further continues’ So long as the chariot of Jagannath is not built, the ideal society will also not take shape.’ Such was the profound vision and assurance from Sri Aurobindo. Humanity is continuously churning through the ocean of life and battling between negative and positive forces. We often become very pessimistic about the disturbing events around the world that are the consequences of actions driven by the expanding individual or group Rajasic egos. Sri Aurobindo has shown us that humanity is standing today at the threshold of the temple of Divine Life and is preparing itself for entry. We, with our limited perception of the hidden purpose and invisible Divine master plan, often tend to believe that humanity is moving towards extinction with its self-destructive tendencies.

Speaking about the true chariot of Jagannath, he gave us an assurance 100 years ago’, Hidden under many layers, this picture shines in the heart of the Universal Godhead. To manifest it, gradually through the effort of many divine Vibhutis, seers and creators and establish it in the material world is God’s intention’. This supreme optimism about the future of mankind by Sri Aurobindo is like a sanction from the Godhead itself. We should never analyze or try to interpret the external world situations negatively but learn to see the Divine purpose behind all. Our faith needs to remain unshaken in all circumstances. We too may contribute in the construction of this Chariot of Jagannath with an attitude of surrender and become conscious tools not only as individuals but collectively as groups of true aspirants.

‘The day of the Self-born unity will come into being by the harmony and integration of knowledge, devotion and work , as impelled by the Will of the Virat Purusha, the Universal Person, on that day the chariot of Jagannath will come out on the avenues of the world, radiating its light in all directions. Satya Yuga, The Age of Truth, will descend upon earth; the world of mortal man will become the field for the play of the Divine, the temple-city, the metropolis of Ananda’.

Let us all make a humble beginning to build the chariot for the Lord of the Worlds, Jagannath, on spiritual principles exceeding the limitations of the Gunas and drive it on the uneven terrains of material world until we reach higher levels of consciousness. Then true human unity and peace will reign upon this earth.

- Sundari KBT( kbt.sundari@gmail.com)


References:
1) ‘Chariot of Jagannath’ in ‘Dharma O Jatiyata’, Prabhartak Publishing House 1918.
2) ‘Bengali Writings by Sri Aurobindo’.

The secret of the veda - a first attempt


The Vedic Tradition

In the March issue of this Newsletter, the aim and topics for our study relating to ‘The Secret of the Veda’ were outlined. Invoking the blessings of Sri Aurobindo and The Mother, let us make a humble start and approach the subject with an attitude that is best described by the Master himself as follows:

“A new view of the Rigveda is being published in the ‘Ārya’ under the caption of ‘The Secret of the Veda’. The translations here have been done according to that view which maintains that the real meaning of the Veda is spiritual and, being extremely profound and secret, is wrapped in symbolic words, various images, and expressions used in the performance of sacrifice. Though impenetrable to the ordinary person, this covering was, to the initiate in the Veda, only a transparent object which revealed all the limbs of the Truth. We have to look for the spiritual significance behind the images. If we can discover the ‘secret name’ of the gods and their respective functions, the sense of the code words, gau, aṣva, sōmarasa etc., the works of the daityās the demons, and their inner meaning, the import of the Vedic metaphors and legends, then the significance of the Veda will become more or less clear. Of course, the true and subtle comprehension of its meaning comes only by a special knowledge and as the result of sādhana, and not by mere study of the Veda without any sādhana.”

For a start, it will be beneficial to familiarize ourselves with some of the commonly used terms and definitions, a brief history and codification /classification of the Vedās.

What is the Veda and its tradition?

The term ‘Veda’ comes from the Sanskrit verb root ‘vid’ –meaning ‘to know’. Hence Veda means knowledge. Here knowledge does not mean facts about the external world but those of the eternal, sacred, spiritual wisdom. It is about the nature of man himself and tells him who he really is. It is the knowledge of the changeless and Supreme Reality behind the ever changing objective world of men and matter. When it is applied to a scripture, it signifies a book of knowledge. Vedās are the fundamental scriptures of the Hindus.

The Vedās are the eternal truths revealed by God to the great ancient ‘Riṣhīs’ of India. The word ‘Riṣhi’ means a ‘Seer’. He is the ‘Mantra Dṛṣhta’, seer of Mantra or thought. The thought was not his own, but he saw the truths or heard them. Since Vedās are what are heard, they are also called as ‘Ṣruti’. He was not an inventor, but a spiritual discoverer of thought which was already existing.

Vedās are also called ‘Apauruṣhēya’ – meaning that they are not authored by any puruṣha or human mind. They were revealed to the Riṣhis in the depths of their meditation. The sages were merely the instruments of God. The Vedās are actually the breath of God. That is, after each deluge (pralaya) when the world is manifested again, Lord Nārayana remembers the Vedās and teaches them to Brahma and then it comes down the line through Rishis, Gurūs and students.

Vedās are also called ‘Nigama’ and ‘Amnaya’. Nigama means a settled text or work, which is handed down from the Guru to the student from time immemorial. Amnaya means what is learnt by the student, by frequent repetition of the text; and also by frequently thinking over the same.


The Veda is sometimes called as ‘BRAHMA’ (Masculine Sanskrit word) - different from Brahma the creator. By Veda we imply the eternal knowledge of the Omnipresent and Omniscient God, which is provided to humans at beginning of human creation. They are the eternal knowledge and if we have to represent them as per the senses that humans can perceive, they turn into four ‘Veda Samhitās’.

Quotes from Sri Aurobindo - ‘The Secret of the Veda’ – 1st para Ch.II

“Veda, then is the creation of an age anterior to our intellectual philosophies. In that original epoch thought proceeded by other methods than those of our logical reasoning and speech accepted modes of expression which in our modern habits would be inadmissible. The wisest then depended on inner experience and the suggestions of the intuitive mind for all knowledge that ranged beyond mankind’s ordinary perceptions and daily activities. Their aim was illumination, not logical conviction, their ideal the inspired seer, not the accurate reasoned. Indian tradition has faithfully preserved this account of the origin of the Vedas. The Riṣhi was not the individual composer of the hymn, but the seer (dṛṣhṭā) of an eternal truth and an impersonal knowledge. The language of Veda itself is Ṣhruti, a rhythm not composed by the intellect but heard, a divine Word that came vibrating out of the Infinite to the inner audience of the man who had previously made himself fit for the impersonal knowledge. The words themselves, dṛṣṭi and ṣhruti, sight and hearing, are Vedic expressions; these and cognate words signify, in the esoteric terminology of the hymns, revelatory knowledge and the contents of inspiration.”

Specifically, the word ‘vedāḥ’ refers not only to the books of that name but also to the tradition which they embody and exemplify. In the popular saying ‘anantō vai vedāḥ’ (the Vedās are indeed infinite), Veda clearly refers to the tradition and not to the books. No other book in India or elsewhere can claim greater antiquity than the Veda or a more far-reaching influence.

to be continued……
Krishnamurthi (chamathu2003@yahoo.co.uk)

The pre-pondicherry years


(Sri Aurobindo at the Surat Congress in 1907. The photo shows Sri Aurobindo seated at the centre of the table with Lala Lajpat Rai to his right and Bal Gangadhar Tilak to his left, addressing the gathering. Source: www.wikipedia.org)

A century since the arrival of Sri Aurobindo in Pondicherry

It will be a century since Sri Aurobindo stepped on the soil of Pondicherry and retreated into his ‘cave of Tapasya, not of an ascetic kind, but of a brand of my own invention.’

And nothing happens in the cosmic play
But at its time and in its foreseen place

The auspicious time was 4 pm on April 4 1910, the foreseen place- Pondicherry. He arrived with Bijoy Nag with two trunks and was received by three friends Moni, Srinivasachari and Bharati at the port. In a poem which is autobiographical, ‘The Infinite Adventure’, Sri Aurobindo writes:

On the waters of the nameless Infinite
My skiff is launched, I have left the human shore.
All fades behind me and I see before
The unknown abyss and one pale pointing light.
An unseen Hand controls my rudder……


As one tries to picture this magnificent scene, Sri Aurobindo, The Sailor on the flow of Time, stepping on the soil of Pondicherry, leaving behind the last lands, crossing ‘ the ultimate seas ‘ and turning to eternal things his symbol quest, to his ‘cave of Tapasya’, one pictures this youthful Rishi, concentrated, immobile and vast..

As if a weapon of the living Light,
Erect and lofty like a spear of God.

His look was a wide daybreak of the gods,
His head was a youthful Rishi’s touched by light…


A public reception was planned but it was thought to be unwise as he was coming in secrecy. His three friends received him. There was no loud beat of trumpets or fanfare, one can hear the voice of The Mother’s …. ‘The greatest victories are the least noisy’. This port which remains intact after a century will witness the grand celebrations being planned by Pondicherry to mark this momentous event on April 4th.2010

Why did the master choose to go to Pondicherry?

“While the prosecution was pending I went away secretly to Chandernagore and there some friends were thinking of sending me to France. I was thinking what to do next. Then I got the Adesh- command- to go to Pondicherry.

I came away because I did not want anything to interfere with my Yoga and because I got a very distinct Adesh in the matter. I have cut connection entirely from politics, but before I did so I knew from within that the work I had begun there was destined to be carried forward, on lines I had foreseen, by others, and that the ultimate triumph of the movement I had initiated was sure without my personal action or presence. There was not the least motive of despair or sense of futility behind my withdrawal.”

The events that led to his arrival to Pondicherry has been narrated in ‘The Life of Sri Aurobindo’ by A.B. Purani. After Sri Aurobindo received the Adesh or higher command to proceed to Pondicherry, he conveyed the intention of departing from Chandernagore to a few friends who made the necessary arrangements.

It is said that as he was about to board the streamer, there were some anxious moments and restlessness among his friends but Sri Aurobindo was ‘unmoved, quiet, without the least anxiety, like a statue, as if in meditation.’

“The steamer left Calcutta in the early hours of the morning, April 1, 1910. Moni arrived in Pondicherry on the 31st of March. He met Srinivasachari and informed him of Sri Aurobindo’s expected arrival on the 4th of April. But Srinivasachari and others did not trust his word. They thought it was improbable that Sri Aurobindo should elect to come to Pondicherry, so far in the South instead of other places nearer to Bengal. Moni pressed upon them the need of having a house. But they were not keen on it. At last on the day of arrival Moni asked them to arrange for a house in advance. They said they would manage to put him up, when he came. All along, they suspected Moni to be a spy. But in the case that Sri Aurobindo actually came they said they would give him a public reception. Moni argued with them and prevailed upon them to drop such an idea as Sri Aurobindo was coming secretly and wanted to remain in seclusion. Moni, Srinivasachari and Bharati went to the port to receive Sri Aurobindo; they found Sri Aurobindo and Bijoy Nag with two trunks. The steamer arrived in Pondicherry at 4 0’clock on the 4th of April 1910. After tea, Sri Aurobindo was taken to the house of Shanker Chetty in Comty Chetty Street. Sri Aurobindo remained there till October as the guest of Shanker Chetty.”

We observe this significant Centenary of his arrival on April 4th 2010. It will be a special day full of the Presence of the Divine Master. The Buddha is said to have told ‘What I know is the entire Bodhi tree, what is given to you is one tiny leaf’. Similarly, one can never know the entire mystery of the Work of The Divine Master and Sri Aurobindo as it has not been on the surface for us to see. In the words of Sri Aurobindo,

‘Neither you nor anyone else knows anything at all of my life; it has not been on the surface for men to see’

As Sri Ramakrishna once said, ‘It is not necessary to know of the majesty of the River Ganga in its entirety from its source in Gangotri to the point it merges in the Ocean, but just a drop of it is enough to purify and sanctify our being’. Similarly, a drop of their Grace is enough to shed their grandiose ray on human life. In whatever manner those of us ‘touched by this tenant from the heights’ choose to observe this significant day either collectively or in one’s own unique way, may it be with gratitude for the light, knowledge and force which he has imparted to ‘our struggling world ‘, sowing in our minds immortal thoughts, and teaching us the great ‘Truth to which man’s race must rise… opening the gates of freedom’.

One souled to all and free from narrowing bonds,
Large like a continent of warm sunshine
In wide equality’s impartial joy,
These sages breathed for God’s delight in things.
Assisting the slow entries of the gods,
Sowing in young minds immortal thoughts they lived,
Taught the great Truth to which man’s race must rise
Or opened the gates of freedom to a few,
Imparting to our struggling world the Light
They breathed like spirits from Time’s dull yoke released,
Comrades and vessels of cosmic force
Using a natural mastery like the sun’s;
Their speech, their silence was a help to earth.

(‘Savitri’, Book 4, Canto 4)

- Sudha
References

1) A..B. Purani, ‘The Life of Sri Aurobindo (1872-1926)’, Sri Aurobindo Ashram, 1964.
2) Sri Aurobindo, ‘Collected Poems, Volume 5’, Sri Aurobindo Birth Centenary Library, Sri Aurobindo Ashram Trust 1972.
3) Sri Aurobindo, ‘Savitri’, Sri Aurobindo Ashram, Pondicherry-1954.

A century since the arrival of Sri Aurobindo in Pondicherry

It will be a century since Sri Aurobindo stepped on the soil of Pondicherry and retreated into his ‘cave of Tapasya, not of an ascetic kind, but of a brand of my own invention.’

And nothing happens in the cosmic play
But at its time and in its foreseen place

The auspicious time was 4 pm on April 4 1910, the foreseen place- Pondicherry. He arrived with Bijoy Nag with two trunks and was received by three friends Moni, Srinivasachari and Bharati at the port. In a poem which is autobiographical, ‘The Infinite Adventure’, Sri Aurobindo writes:

On the waters of the nameless Infinite
My skiff is launched, I have left the human shore.
All fades behind me and I see before
The unknown abyss and one pale pointing light.
An unseen Hand controls my rudder……


As one tries to picture this magnificent scene, Sri Aurobindo, The Sailor on the flow of Time, stepping on the soil of Pondicherry, leaving behind the last lands, crossing ‘ the ultimate seas ‘ and turning to eternal things his symbol quest, to his ‘cave of Tapasya’, one pictures this youthful Rishi, concentrated, immobile and vast..

As if a weapon of the living Light,
Erect and lofty like a spear of God.

His look was a wide daybreak of the gods,
His head was a youthful Rishi’s touched by light…


A public reception was planned but it was thought to be unwise as he was coming in secrecy. His three friends received him. There was no loud beat of trumpets or fanfare, one can hear the voice of The Mother’s …. ‘The greatest victories are the least noisy’. This port which remains intact after a century will witness the grand celebrations being planned by Pondicherry to mark this momentous event on April 4th.2010

Why did the master choose to go to Pondicherry?

“While the prosecution was pending I went away secretly to Chandernagore and there some friends were thinking of sending me to France. I was thinking what to do next. Then I got the Adesh- command- to go to Pondicherry.

I came away because I did not want anything to interfere with my Yoga and because I got a very distinct Adesh in the matter. I have cut connection entirely from politics, but before I did so I knew from within that the work I had begun there was destined to be carried forward, on lines I had foreseen, by others, and that the ultimate triumph of the movement I had initiated was sure without my personal action or presence. There was not the least motive of despair or sense of futility behind my withdrawal.”

The events that led to his arrival to Pondicherry has been narrated in ‘The Life of Sri Aurobindo’ by A.B. Purani. After Sri Aurobindo received the Adesh or higher command to proceed to Pondicherry, he conveyed the intention of departing from Chandernagore to a few friends who made the necessary arrangements.

It is said that as he was about to board the streamer, there were some anxious moments and restlessness among his friends but Sri Aurobindo was ‘unmoved, quiet, without the least anxiety, like a statue, as if in meditation.’

“The steamer left Calcutta in the early hours of the morning, April 1, 1910. Moni arrived in Pondicherry on the 31st of March. He met Srinivasachari and informed him of Sri Aurobindo’s expected arrival on the 4th of April. But Srinivasachari and others did not trust his word. They thought it was improbable that Sri Aurobindo should elect to come to Pondicherry, so far in the South instead of other places nearer to Bengal. Moni pressed upon them the need of having a house. But they were not keen on it. At last on the day of arrival Moni asked them to arrange for a house in advance. They said they would manage to put him up, when he came. All along, they suspected Moni to be a spy. But in the case that Sri Aurobindo actually came they said they would give him a public reception. Moni argued with them and prevailed upon them to drop such an idea as Sri Aurobindo was coming secretly and wanted to remain in seclusion. Moni, Srinivasachari and Bharati went to the port to receive Sri Aurobindo; they found Sri Aurobindo and Bijoy Nag with two trunks. The steamer arrived in Pondicherry at 4 0’clock on the 4th of April 1910. After tea, Sri Aurobindo was taken to the house of Shanker Chetty in Comty Chetty Street. Sri Aurobindo remained there till October as the guest of Shanker Chetty.”

We observe this significant Centenary of his arrival on April 4th 2010. It will be a special day full of the Presence of the Divine Master. The Buddha is said to have told ‘What I know is the entire Bodhi tree, what is given to you is one tiny leaf’. Similarly, one can never know the entire mystery of the Work of The Divine Master and Sri Aurobindo as it has not been on the surface for us to see. In the words of Sri Aurobindo,

‘Neither you nor anyone else knows anything at all of my life; it has not been on the surface for men to see’

As Sri Ramakrishna once said, ‘It is not necessary to know of the majesty of the River Ganga in its entirety from its source in Gangotri to the point it merges in the Ocean, but just a drop of it is enough to purify and sanctify our being’. Similarly, a drop of their Grace is enough to shed their grandiose ray on human life. In whatever manner those of us ‘touched by this tenant from the heights’ choose to observe this significant day either collectively or in one’s own unique way, may it be with gratitude for the light, knowledge and force which he has imparted to ‘our struggling world ‘, sowing in our minds immortal thoughts, and teaching us the great ‘Truth to which man’s race must rise… opening the gates of freedom’.

One souled to all and free from narrowing bonds,
Large like a continent of warm sunshine
In wide equality’s impartial joy,
These sages breathed for God’s delight in things.
Assisting the slow entries of the gods,
Sowing in young minds immortal thoughts they lived,
Taught the great Truth to which man’s race must rise
Or opened the gates of freedom to a few,
Imparting to our struggling world the Light
They breathed like spirits from Time’s dull yoke released,
Comrades and vessels of cosmic force
Using a natural mastery like the sun’s;
Their speech, their silence was a help to earth.

(‘Savitri’, Book 4, Canto 4)

- Sudha
References

1) A..B. Purani, ‘The Life of Sri Aurobindo (1872-1926)’, Sri Aurobindo Ashram, 1964.
2) Sri Aurobindo, ‘Collected Poems, Volume 5’, Sri Aurobindo Birth Centenary Library, Sri Aurobindo Ashram Trust 1972.
3) Sri Aurobindo, ‘Savitri’, Sri Aurobindo Ashram, Pondicherry-1954.

Correspondence with Sri Aurobindo

I cannot but dwell, at least for a while, in a reminiscent vein on that glorious past as I look again at this correspondence. Most men live in their past; we here live in our future, but the past contributes to the high consummation of that future, and such a past recorded through the correspondence is like a brilliant page of one’s ever-present life. The picture of the past floats again before my eyes: I look at his chamber from the corner of my eyes: I look at his chamber from the corner of my room and imagine that he must now be busy at our letters. Then passing through the corridors of dream, I wake up to wait at the threshold of the morning hours for the divine post. There it comes carrying the heavenly breath and bearing the Spirit- touch. I pore on it and seem for a moment to touch the very hands that struck those harmonious chords.

Moments pass, but I still taste the “strange-ecstasied fruit”. The aroma of His unbodied Presence recreates the “Darshan” before my vision- calm and serene, golden and majestic, eyes reflecting the Unfathomed, smile and gravity on the lips in succession as known and unknown pass by. Are these the hands that have culled from the vineyards of his luminous mind the luscious fruits of knowledge and filled our mortal jars with its sparkling wine? Those the eyes that have passed sleepless nights over our daily tales of joy and woe, our babbles and stupid reasonings? Is this the mouth that has uttered, through an eloquent pen, volumes of speech just to assure one single person of his spiritual destiny, or to promise all help and succour in the battlefield of Yoga?
Many other vivid associations renew the contact of the soul with the veiled summit-source. Who can exhaust these iridescent memories, who can extinguish their flames? Worship and prayer, work and an intense desire for the fulfillment of his mission-the things with which he has inspired our souls, and the path that he has hewn through the virgin forest of our life, are a tale whose beginning only is disclosed, but whose end waits to be revealed by the future development of events. Above all, how much of his inner consciousness he has transfused into our blood through the medium of this correspondence, no one will ever know; indeed, very few will be able even to appraise it correctly. Only those who have been the recipients of that rejuvenating energy of the Divine Consciousness will understand its action, slowly, in the gradual process of self-unfolding. Our heart repeats the marvel of his name and waits his arrival through the very pathway that he has built with so much labor of love and compassion.


(‘Correspondence with Sri Aurobindo’, Nirodbaran, Sri Aurobindo Ashram Trust 1969)

Question of the Month

Q: Why did you choose Pondicherry as the place for your sadhana?

A: Sri Aurobindo: Because it was by an Adesh- higher command- I was asked to come here.


(‘The Life of Sri Aurobindo (1872-1926)’, A.B.Purani, Sri Aurobindo Ashram, Pondicherry, 1964)

From Savitri

Beyond life’s arc in spirit’s immensities,
Apart he lived in his mind’s solitude,
A demigod shaping the lives of men:
One soul’s ambition lifted up the race;
A Power worked, but none knew whence it came.
The universal strengths were linked with his:
Feeling earth’s smallness with their boundless breadths,
He drew the energies that transmute an age.

(Savitri, Book 1, Canto 3)

**********

So he appeared against the forest verge
Inset twixt green relief and golden ray.
As if a weapon of the living Light,
Erect and lofty like a spear of God
His figure led the splendour of the morn.
Noble and clear as the broad peaceful heavens
A tablet of young wisdom was his brow,
Freedom’s imperious beauty curbed his limbs,
The joy of life was on his open face.
His look was a wide daybreak of the gods,
His head was a youthful Rishi’s touched with light,
His body was a lover’s and a king’s.
In the magnificent dawning of his force
Built like a moving statue of delight
He illumined the border of the forest page.

(Savitri, Book 5, Canto 2)

Editorial

This April issue of our Newsletter seeks to be a tribute to Sri Aurobindo as centres world over, led by Sri Aurobindo Society, Pondicherry, celebrate the 100th Anniversary of Sri Aurobindo's arrival in Pondicherry, on the 4th of April 1910.

An occasion such as this provides an occasion to celebrate a past significant event that spells much in the hearts of many, a celebration in recognition of the revolutionary change that would have taken over one's life and of humanity as a whole. It is also a celebration of the promise that the future would hold for one, a consolidation of all of our anticipations, aspirations and a renewal of faith into a more concrete knowledge and certainty of a future manifesting something of the grandeur that was promised. A momentous occasion like this that invites an outer as well as a deep-rooted inner involvement of the being calls for nothing less than a consecration, of our work, our effort, thought, aspiration, a consecration of our mind, life, body – of everything that one does and is – to this Entity that has taken control of our lives, moulding it more and more into the shape of perfection. It, in all likelihood, has to be a consecration that spells a readiness to receive what the Divine has to offer without distortion.

Back at Pondicherry (or Puducherry as it is now known), as I made my way to the third floor of Society's Beach Office, an expectancy filled the air. A sense of urgency was there too to see the completion a building called The Annexe in time for a grand consecration. Having its beginnings in the term 'the annexe to Sea Side Guest House', The Annexe, is a three-storied building of sixteen rooms and is an extension of Sea-Side Guest House adjoining the Society Beach Office.

Standing on the wide balcony of the beach office that fronts the mighty Bay of Bengal, the Chairperson of the Society, Pradeep da, his eyes twinkling and then taking on a soft gaze, as he focuses far ahead, sums up the significance of the 4th of April in one phrase, "It is a celebration from within". A little smile lights up his face, as he recounts, half in words and half silently, the trials and tribulations, the personal struggles and victories that came with the erection of The Annexe. Right from its inception some two years ago, The Annexe marked a work of sadhana and a labour of love. Each element, each stone, each fabric that will adorn The Annexe looks poised to reverberate with Sri Aurobindo's name, and as Sushila behn, secretary of the Society puts it, simply because the building was conceived of and attempted, "taking His name".

Just as The Annexe takes its regal form and approaches its completion in order to be consecrated to Him on the 4th of April 2010, this occasion too gives individuals tied up with Sri Aurobindo and The Mother in magical ways to prepare for an inner consecration, simple and absolute, of all we do and are to Him. Thus may be fulfilled in time, long or short, the quest arising from within, for the Divine to fill our lives. Just like The Annexe, many shapes and forms, moods and sensations, ups and downs, mental formations of all kinds, wants and desires, our opinions and insistences, our highest aspirations, our works of love and beauty, all of these await in our own being to be consecrated unto the open arms of the Divine.

It seems no co-incidence now that this editorial was conceived while gazing out at The Bay of Bengal, at the remains of the jetty on which Sri Aurobindo set foot 100 years ago and changed the face of Pondicherry or Puducherry, forever, and our lives as well and the course of evolution for the whole of humanity, forever.

There is cause to celebrate. May we seize the moment to rise to the occasion, from within.