Guiding Light of The Month

IN Peace and Silence the Eternal manifests; allow nothing to disturb you and the Eternal will manifest; have perfect equality in face of all and the Eternal will be there. . . . - The Mother

Editorial

Dawn is perhaps one of the high points of the day. It is a brief moment that appears just before sunrise, when the first rays of light appear just above the eastern horizon for the day. In fact, at the time of dawn, the sun is said to be 6 degrees below the horizon. During that moment of dawn, the sky undergoes a spectacular change from a thick and dense darkness into something spectacular. A page opens for expression, an unseen Artist hand whips out brushes and colours and according to the turns of its moods, splashes across the sky multi-hued shades of colours and patterns which leave the watcher spell-bound. It is like an unveiling of immaculate beauty before one’s eyes, and all the more intriguing because of the brevity of the experience. Then the glorious sun rises and the brightness of that light erases all other shades on the eastern sky. But the wonder that dawn would have etched in one’s mind and heart does not die.

Dawn is the theme that adorns this issue of our Newsletter as we pay homage to the past decade and stand on the verge of a brand new decade, the second of this millennium, about to be born. In our everyday lives, dawn marks the end of night and physical sleep and the birth of a new day, renewed energy, a day that marks a progress or advance in what we know as time, a changeover into a new day, a moment that marks our shedding of the pages of the past represented by the “yesterday” . Perhaps because of this significant and constant mark of change after a night of sleep and rest, and because of the spectacular way in which she appears, Dawn has fired in man a sense of wonder, respect, even worship, and features naturally in his expressive and creative works such as in art and literature and philosophy. The Vedic literature, especially, seems to harbor a great reverence for dawn as the bringer of glory and enlightenment. Dawn takes on a feminine form, described as one who comes on a chariot and one who represents rays of consciousness. In Vedic literature, the Sun is taken to be Truth and dawn is that which appears before the rise of that Truth. It is an outbreak of higher consciousness and rishis are said to have several such dawns in their life-times. Let us dwell a while on the following mantra that reveals something of the Vedic reverence and awe for dawn, also known as Usha in Sanskrit:

adhi peshāms vakşha usreva barjaham;
i vapate nŗtūriv āporņute
jyotir vishvasmai bhuvanāya kŗņvatī
gāvo na vrajam vyuşhā āvartamaĥ.

Sri Aurobindo’s translation:

“Like a dancing-girl she lays bare her clear forms of beauty, like a paramour she opens her breast, casting aside its defences, creating Light for the whole world. The radiant herds have left their open; Dawn has uncovered herself of her robe of darkness.'' (From website, Sri Aurobindo-Kapali Shastry Institute of Vedic Literature)

It is this symbol of dawn that Sri Aurobindo takes up as he begins the epic poem Savitri with a canto entitled The Symbol Dawn. In the darkest of nights, both physical and psychological, Savitri meets her dawn (spiritual awakening) on the night before Satyavan was to die.

For any revolution, a seed is cast somewhere in Time. This is the beginning of things to come, a revolution to be. Dawn is this beginning, this seed therefore embodies the hope, even the certainty of a particular future, a future as beautiful, high and uplifting, like the Symbol Dawn. May the dawning decade be a new beginning for all and everything.

IEP walk at South Ridges



IEP children pose at the iconic Merlion atop Mount Faber before entering into the jungles of Singapore

=================================
On Sunday 26th December, we went to Mt. Faber for IEP. We were very excited. It was raining, so we had to use umbrellas or raincoats. I was very excited to climb a hill in the rain. It was new for me.

When we started, slowly the rain started to stop. After a while, the rain stopped. Finally, I could take off my raincoat. I didn’t want to wear my raincoat because the sleeves were tight.

After about two hours of walking, we finally reached the top of the hill. I was very tired. We all had our dinner at the top of the hill. I had Pasta and Cheese for dinner. It was scrumptious!!!!!!!!!!

Lastly, we sat down on the mat and drew pictures. That was fun. I drew hills on one side of the page and on the other side, I drew myself wearing my pink raincoat in the rain.

We were very tired. We went down the hill and took a cab home. It was tiring but, also lots and lots of fun. My favorite part was drawing.
Priyanka

Flower of the month

New creation

Strong, lasting and fragrant, it rises straight towards the sky.
- The Mother

Common Name: Tuberose
Botanical Name: Polianthes tuberosa
Spiritual Name: New Creation

Savitri

Ablaze upon creation’s quivering edge,
Dawn built her aura of magnificent hues
And buried its seed of grandeur in the hours.
An instant’s visitor the godhead shone:
On life’s thin border awhile the Vision stood
And bent over earth’s pondering forehead curve.
Interpreting a recondite beauty and bliss
In colour’s hieroglyphs of mystic sense,
It wrote the lines of a significant myth
Telling of a greatness of spiritual dawns,
A brilliant code penned with the sky for page.

(Savitri, Book 1, Canto 1)

*****************

A divine force shall flow through tissue and cell
And take the charge of breath and speech and act
And all the thoughts shall be a glow of suns
And every feeling a celestial thrill.
Often a lustrous inner dawn shall come
Lighting the chambers of the slumbering mind;
A sudden bliss shall run through the limb
And Nature with a mightier Presence fill.

(Savitri, Book 11, Canto 1)

Question of the month

In the entry dated 24.8.1914 in ‘Prayers and Meditations’ Mother speaks of “the Dawn that never ends.”


Thy grace is with us, Lord, and it never leaves us, even when appearances are dark; night is sometimes necessary to prepare more perfect dawns. But perhaps this time Thou hast placed us in the presence of the Dawn that does not pass away.

- The Mother, ‘Prayers and Meditations’, August 24th 1914


“What spiritual state does this marvellous dawn represent?” I asked her.

She answered: “Perpetual renewal.”



(Selected from, Shyam Sunder Jhunjhunwala, ‘From The Editor’s Desk, Some Socio-Spiritual Perspectives’, ‘Sri Aurobindo Action’, Pondicherry)

Dawn: A poem by Amal Kiran

How earth-strange on the ethereal way
Travels the first wing-carillon
A-tremble with the silver dawn
Ere rush the golden day!

Across slow-widening brightness, still
A dim-disclosured secrecy,
Quivers the foliage-tracery
Apart, inscrutable.

As though their breath was made divine
By dew of contemplative hours,
There hangs an aura round the flowers
A nameless shadow-shine.

The heart, a hovering consciousness,
Thrills on some paradisal verge
As if awakening to merge
With beauty sorrowless.

Familiar hues are yet unborn,
A veil half-hiding them lays bare,
Shimmering through the mystic air,
An alchemy of morn,

Wherein the sense of earthly eyes
If soul could only learn to steep,
Out of the human dross of sleep
A golden god would rise!

-Amal Kiran

Spiritual Dawn

In the entry dated 24.8.1914, in ‘Prayers and Meditations’ Mother speaks of “the Dawn that never ends”.

“What spiritual state does this marvelous dawn represent”?, I asked her.

She answered: “Perpetual renewal”.

Sri Aurobindo begins his book ‘The Life Divine’ with the following lines from the Rig Veda:

“She follows to the goal of those that are passing on beyond, she is the first in the eternal succession of dawns that are coming. Usha widens, bringing out that which lives, awakening someone who was dead…. What is her scope when she harmonises with the dawns that shone out before and those that now must shine? She desired the ancient mornings and fulfills their light; projecting forwards her illumination she enters into communion with the rest that are to come.”

Usha is the illumining dawn; she is gomati, luminous, radiant.

“Dawn comes divine repelling by the Light all darknesses and evils.”

Usha is also, asvavati she has conquering energy and force of vitality.

“True with the gods who are true,
Great with the gods who are great
She breaks open the strong places
And gives of the shining herds.”

The herds which Usha gives are, as Sri Aurobindo explains, “the shining troops of the Light”.

Usha, “Mother of the Gods, form (or, Power) of Aditi”, is always the dawn of the Truth, “Following effectively the path of the Truth”. “Dawn born in heavens opens out things by the Truth, she comes manifesting the greatness.”

Dawn is not only rtavari, full of the Truth, she is also sunrtavari, she comes uttering true and happy words.

In ‘Savitri’ also, in the very beginning, Sri Aurobindo writes:

Ablaze upon creation’s quivering edge,
Dawn built her aura of magnificent hues
And buried its seed of grandeur in the hours.
An instant’s visitor the godhead shone:
On life’s thin border awhile the Vision stood
And bent over earth’s pondering forehead curve.
Interpreting a recondite beauty and bliss
In colour’s hieroglyphs of mystic sense,
It wrote the lines of a significant myth
Telling of a greatness of spiritual dawns.

Later, Sri Aurobindo says that, for one who lives in the calm vastness of the One, who climbs on the steps to God’s far secret heights, life becomes a tranquil pilgrimage.

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

Then each dawn becomes a precursor of a greater dawn! And each dawn becomes more beautiful!

Is this not the secret of the eternal charm of the dawn for the poets and mystics?


(Selected from, Shyam Sunder Jhunjhunwala, ‘From The Editor’s Desk, Some Socio-Spiritual Perspectives’, ‘Sri Aurobindo Action’, Pondicherry)

A new beginning

Bharat, a qualified young and aspiring individual in his late 20’s, was sitting outside a nationalised bank manager’s cabin waiting for his new project loan to get sanctioned. After a long wait, the bank manager with a low tone called Bharat inside and told him that unfortunately his project plans could not be cleared and he will not be able to sanction loans for that type of project.

Bharat returned home with disappointment and sat on the couch with a blank mind; meanwhile his father entered the room and asked him why he was so gloomy and dull. Bharat replied in a very disheartened voice that life was full of failures and problems for him and he added that nothing was going right for him despite him spending 15 minutes a day praying.

His mother Parvati, an ardent devotee of the Mother and Sri Aurobindo, came out listening to what Bharat mentioned about the prayer and mentioned a quote of the Mother which said “It is always a mistake to complain about the circumstances of our life, for they are the outward expression of what we are ourselves.”

She also said that it was no use spending even a whole day in prayer without realizing the mistakes we commit everyday. She went back to the kitchen again quoting “There is no greater courage than that of recognising one’s own mistakes.”

And she asked him to look back and understand why he had resigned the previous job.

Bharat suddenly felt a lightning strike in front of his eyes and all his mistakes appeared on a screen in front of him.

First, he concluded that he had resigned his job only because of his ego. Secondly, he realized that in spite of his regional manager requesting him to stay on, he was overconfident that he would definitely find another job and hence he left the job.. He also recollected that he had done the project plan for the bank with an arrogance and ego that he knew what he was going to do.

After this sudden realisation of his mistakes, he went and stood in front of Mother and Sri Aurobindo with tears in his eyes. He bowed down in shame and did a pranam surrendering all his mistakes.

The next day was the 31st of December. He felt very light when he woke . At 9.30 a.m, he received a phone call which carried the message that he was selected as National Sales Manager in a multinational company. Surrender had opened new doors for Bharat.

The New Year was a new dawn of realisations and hopes for Bharat.

- Saradha

The Secret of the Veda’ – A First Attempt: Commentaries or Bhāṣhyās on the ‘Vedās’ (contd.)

Rāmānujāchārya :
Important saint of ‘Sri Vaishnavisam’ and one of the most dynamic characters of Hinduism. He was both a philosophical as well as a social reformer. His celebrated system of philosophy known as ‘Vishishṭādvaita’ or ‘Qualified monism’ is ‘Advaita’ or ‘non-dualism’ with a ‘Visēsha’ or ‘qualification’. It admits plurality. Sri Ramanuja’s ‘Brahman’ or ‘Lord Narayana’ subsists in a plurality of forms as souls (Chit) and matter (Achit). His most famous books are:
1. Sri Bhashyam - The commentary on Brahma Sūtrās that establishes Vishishtādvaitic Siddantham.
2. Vedānta Sāra 3. Vedānta Deepa 4. Vedānta Sangraham - These three provide shorter and intermediate versions of the commentary on the Brahma Sūtrās.
5. Gitā Bhashyam,- Self explanatory.
6. Sharanāgathy Gadhyam - Prose type composition on his ultimate surrender to Lord. Recommendation, assurance and the Lord's reply.
7. Sri Ranga Gadhyam- Does not contain detailed philosophical debates. Instead it is a pure expression of devotion and gives a detailed description of the God ‘Sri Ranganatha’ as the repository of countless gunās, that he calls as Kalyāna guna meaning ‘virtuous’.
8. Sri Vaikunta Gadhyam- The Jivā's travel to Sri Vaikuntam and the beautiful narration of the Parama Padham.
9. Nityam- The Nitya Karma Anushtāna, Recommended daily ritual practices.
Madhvāchārya - (1238-1317):
Also known as Ānanda Tīrtha, he is the founder of the ‘Dvaita’ or dualistic school of Vedanta. Dvaita Philosophy proclaims that God and individual souls are different entities. The souls are eternal but are dependent on Vishnu and co-exist with Him eternally, supported by His will and entirely controlled by Him.
He has written two commentaries on Vedic hymns. The first, ‘Rig Bhāshya’ (in Sanskrit) deals with the first forty sūktās of Rig Veda. He stresses on the ādhyātmic interpretation which is expanded in the works of the disciples of his school namely Jayatīrtha and Rāghavēndra Swāmi. Like in his other works, here too he has upheld the supremacy of Lord Vishnu, and the dependence of all the dēvatās on Him. He has also explained the importance of Rishi, Dēvata and Chandas, in reciting Veda mantrās. The second is ‘Karmanirnaya’ dealing with Karma Kanda.
He has written commentaries on 10 Upanishads, Gita Bhāshya, Gita Tātparya , Brahmasūtra Bhāshya, 4 Purānās, 4 Vedānta Sutrās and about 20 other writings.
On Rig Veda Samhita: Madhvāchārya wrote a commentary on the first 40 sūktās of the first Mandala to illustrate how the meaning of the riks is to be grasped. He holds that in as much as performance of rituals is a necessary part of the Vedic Dharma, a ritualistic interpretation of the hymns is justifiable, but it is wrong to say that the fundamental message of the hymns is observance of ritual. He maintains that the spiritual interpretation gives the central meaning of the mantrās and that all the Vedās point to the supreme object of life which is to attain the sublime status at the feet of Vishnu. His Bhashya is small in volume and barring a few Pundits in the Madhva tradition, most students of the Veda are hardly aware that such a Veda-Bhashya is available, though incomplete.
Sāyana Āchārya - (1315-1387 CE):
A great medieval scholar, who wrote voluminous commentaries on all the Veda Samhitās and on ‘Shatpatha’, ‘ Aitareya’, ‘ Taittirīya’, ‘Talavakāra’ and ‘Chhāndogya’ Brāhmaņās. He flourished under King Bukka I and his successor Harihara II, in the Vijayanagar Empire of South India and has employed a different style for works on each Veda. His commentary on the Rig Veda Samhitā running to over 3000 pages and was edited by Max Müller. It is likely that the core portion of this commentary was written by Sāyaṇa himself, but contributions from his brother Mādhava and other disciples have been noted too. His works consist of invaluable topics dealing with mantrās of the Samhitās along with their ‘Pada Patha’- citations from ancient texts of authority, various traditional accounts, lexicons, meaning of the words of the hymns, at times possibility of other meanings, metre, grammar, accent and etymological derivation of the words of the mantrās. But for his ‘Bhāshyās’, our entire Vedic literature would have been impenetrable and scrutiny of the meaning of the Vedās hardly possible.
Quote from Sri Aurobindo, showing his appreciation to the works of Sāyana, despite completely differing from the basic approach and interpretation to Vedās given by him. “The commanding merits of this great legacy of the past are obvious. Composed by Sāyana with the aid of the most learned scholars of his time, it is a work representing an enormous labour of erudition, more perhaps than could have been commanded at that time by a single brain. Yet it bears the stamp of the coordinating mind. It is consistent in the mass inspite of its many inconsistencies of detail, largely planned, yet most simply, composed in a style lucid, terse and possessed of an almost literary grace one would have thought impossible in the traditional form of the Indian commentary. Nowhere is there any display of pedantry; the struggle with the difficulties of the text is skillfully veiled and there is an air of clear acuteness and of assured, yet unassuming authority which imposes even on the dissident. The first Vedic scholars of Europe admired especially the rationality of Sāyana’s interpretations.”
Sāyana’s interpretation of Vedās is one of practical approach. His intelligence was characteristically led by trust in the ideas or words of others such as Yāska etc., for after all he shared the superstitious beliefs of his age. As a result, the Veda was looked upon as a source-book for ritualism, as a sanction for intellectualism and as a justification for crude materialism. The Mīmāmsakās had already encouraged this outlook, and their preference for the books of Brāhmanās giving ritualistic tracts prevailed all along. The Samhita by a curious reversal of values, became secondary to the Brāhmanās. Sāyanā’s approach to Rig Veda Samhita in his famous Bhashya (commentary) is only through the Brāhmana ideology. He did not accord an independent status to the Samhita, but viewed it only as an appendage to the Brāhmana tracts. Though he did not deny the spiritual view point (like the Mīmāmsakās), his entire focus was on the rituals detailing the performance of rites like the ‘Bōdhāyna Shrauta Sūtrās.
He neither considered the Vedic seers to be mere children or men at their primitive stage, nor did he lay any stress on the explanation based on the sights and scenes of physical Nature. He observed and understood the Veda from the standpoint of sacrificial rites. His endeavor was to discover from the Veda the nature of sacrifice and give a full account of the ceremonies conducted during a sacrifice. The performance of sacrifice is a part of the spiritual life and its aim is to bring about progress of the soul and welfare here and hereafter. The Gods dwell in a world known as Heaven. The forces of Nature are backed by their powers. A particular God presides over a particular force of Nature. All the Gods are combined in the Universal God, and all the Gods are only the different manifestations of the same Universal God. It is the power of the Gods which endows men with power, and men too on their part propitiate the Gods through their sacrifices offered to them. The Gods are satisfied with and nourished by men's humble obeisance and their offering of Soma Rasa, while men in their turn attain to prosperity in this world and secure a better status in the other world.
The Western Indologists who took great interest in Vedic studies, unfortunately followed the ritualistic interpretations of Sāyana to a great extent, ignoring the earlier commentator Yāskāchārya with regard to the three levels of interpretation to Veda Samhitās. Max Muller’s publication of Rig Veda Samhitā along with Sāyana’s commentary provided high academic acceptance value. In turn it influenced more commentators including some leading Indian scholars to the misconception that Rig Veda Samhitā is devoid of wisdom. Also, the Western mind after finding it more logical and understandable, applied their tools of language, grammar, philology etc., to determine the antiquity and crudeness of the ‘Veda’, showing a clear contrast to the modernity and the refined state of ‘Vedānta (Upanishads). Unfortunately, this evolutionary technique appealed to recent thinkers, who thought it to be the safest standard for determining the historical portrait of the entire Vedic literature.
Quotes from Sri Aurobindo: “Yet, even for the external sense of the Veda, it is not possible to follow either Sāyaṇā’s method or his results without the largest reservation. It is not only that he admits in his method licenses of language and construction which are unnecessary and sometimes incredible, nor that he arrives at his results, often by a surprising inconsistency in his interpretation of common Vedic formulae. These are defects of detail, unavoidable perhaps in the state of the materials with which he had to deal. But it is the central defect of Sāyaṇā’s system that he is obsessed always by the ritualistic formula and seeks continually to force the sense of the Veda into that narrow mould. So he loses many clues of the greatest suggestiveness and importance for the external sense of the ancient scripture”………….. “It is the final and authoritative binding of the Veda to this lowest of all its possible senses that has been the most unfortunate result of Sāyaṇā’s commentary. The dominance of the ritualistic interpretation had already deprived India of the living use of its greatest Scripture and of the true clue to the entire sense of the Upanishads. Sāyaṇā’s commentary put a seal of finality on the old misunderstanding which could not be broken for many centuries. And its suggestions, when another civilization discovered and set itself to study the Veda, became in the European mind, the parent of fresh errors”.

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
to be continued……

Gratitude

It is you who open all the closed doors and allow the saving Grace to enter.
- The Mother

Common Name: Funnelform Flower
Botanical Name: Ipomoea carnea
Spiritual Name: Gratitude

Editorial

Gratitude - A feeling of gratefulness, a spontaneous feeling of thankfulness...perhaps these are some weak phrases one can use to describe the term “gratitude”? In it appears to be a subtle vibration of an egoless, thankful appreciation of bounties offered to one, for which nothing is expected in return, either from man, nature or God or all three of these entities. Perhaps it is a feeling that arises from one’s depths in response to the fulfilment of a need? One can probably do nothing about it; it comes of its own and remains in one’s heart, glowing. It is perhaps a response quite remote from the domain of the measuring mind? Whatever gratitude may be, it definitely breeds an atmosphere of wideness, wellness, warmth and “rightness”, something to be cherished, nurtured.

The Mother has categorically singled out gratitude as a special movement, one that is, more than other desirable movements, capable of drawing “you most out of your ego.” It is no wonder than that Gratitude is a necessary condition in the psyche of the sadhak on the way towards a spiritualised life. If ego stays one too long on the path, very far away from the attainable goal, then gratitude is that which aids in the diminution of that ego. The Mother also singled out gratitude as a movement that can give “the most joy, an unalloyed joy, untainted by egoism.” It is, together with the quality of enthusiasm, referred to as a “lever to enter into contact with the Divine in one’s psychic being.”

It therefore appears imperative that Gratitude deserves more attention in one’s life.

Where does one start? It is indeed a formidable question. The story, “Les Virtues” by The Mother discloses gratitude as the least ostentatious, the most ill recognised and rare of all virtues, and yet, it is one that has the power to link one to the core of one’s being, to the psychic. In order to appreciate ‘gratitude’ better, it may do us good to go through experiences of “ingratitude”, preferably in oneself. A few silent moments with memories of these experiences will quickly paint a pretty picture of which of the two is a more desirable state of affairs, the most elevating and therefore, worth keeping, nurturing and letting grow into fullness in our day to day life, only because it feels like the thing to be held within, quite naturally in harmony with the deeper self.

The Mother also points out something that we tend to miss, and that is, to feel gratitude when everything goes well without event. We tend to be grateful when we have a narrow brush with danger or are touched by an adverse force by way of an accident that we happen to survive. So it appears that living with gratitude in one’s heart may not be quite an easy task for beings accustomed to a certain way of looking at the world, especially from the surface of the egoistic and egotistic personality.

It is possible that when one contemplates on one’s life, very quietly, and the many routes it would have taken, as in a journey, one may marvel at the way it has been actually meticulously arranged for some progress in the nature. This inevitably brings about a certain feeling of gratefulness towards the Preceptor Force. It appears that it is in stepping back that the sense of gratitude flowers within and not when one lives on the surface, where the ego most often reigns as king.

The Mother beautifully paints a picture of this special vibration called Gratitude:

When you can enter this vibration in its purity, you realize immediately that it has the same quality as the vibration of Love: it is directionless.

Gratitude, be with us, always!

From Savitri

A secret air of pure felicity
Deep like a sapphire heaven our spirits breathe;
Our hearts and bodies feel its obscure call,
Our senses grope for it and touch and lose.
If this withdrew, the world would sink in the Void;
If this were not, nothing could move or live.
A hidden Bliss is at the root of things.
A mute Delight regards Time’s countless works:
To house God’s joy in things Space gave wide room,
To house God’s joy in self our souls were born.

(Savitri, Book 10, Canto 3)

Question of the month

Q: Sweet Mother: What helps us to enter into contact with the Divine in one’s psychic being?

A: The Mother: There are two principal things. This, the capacity for enthusiasm which makes one come out of his greater or lesser inertia in order to throw himself more or less totally into the thing that rouses him. As for instance, the artist for his art, the scientist for his science. And in general, every person who creates or builds has an opening, the opening of a special faculty, a special possibility, creating an enthusiasm in him. When this is active, something in the being awakens, and there is a participation of almost the whole being in the thing done.

There is this. And then there are those who have an innate faculty of gratitude, those who have an ardent need to respond, respond with warmth, devotion, joy, to something which they feel like a marvel hidden behind the whole of life, behind the tiniest little element, the least little event of life, who feel this sovereign beauty or infinite Grace which is behind all things.

I knew people who had no knowledge, so to say, of anything, who were hardly educated, whose minds were altogether of the ordinary kind and who had in them this capacity for gratitude, of warmth, which gives itself, understands and is thankful.

Well, for them the contact with the psychic was very frequent, almost constant and, to the extent that they were capable of it, conscious – not very conscious but a little- in the sense that they felt they were carried, helped, uplifted above themselves.

These two things prepare people the most. They are born with one or the other, and if they take the trouble, it develops gradually, it increases.

We say the capacity for enthusiasm, something which throws you out of your miserable and mean little ego; and the generous gratitude, the generosity of the gratitude which also flings itself in thanksgiving out of the little ego. These are the two most powerful levers to enter into contact with the Divine in one’s psychic being. This serves as a link with the psychic being- the surest link.

(‘Emergence of the Psychic- Governance of Life by the Soul- Selections from the Works of Sri Aurobindo and the Mother’, compilation and introduction by A. S. Dalal, Sri Aurobindo Ashram, Pondicherry)

Words of The mother on Gratitude

There is nothing that gives you a joy equal to that of gratitude. You hear a bird sing, you see a lovely flower, you look at a little child, observe an act of generosity, read a beautiful sentence, look at the setting sun, anything whatever: suddenly this comes upon you, this kind of emotion, so deep, so intense, that the world manifests the Divine, that there is something behind the world which is the Divine.

And yet, of all movements, the one that perhaps gives the most joy, an unalloyed joy, untainted by egoism- is spontaneous gratitude.

It is something very special. It isn’t love, it isn’t self-giving. It is a very full joy. Very full.

It is a very special vibration unlike anything other than itself. It is something that widens you, that fills you, that is so fervent!

Of all the movements within the reach of human consciousness, it is certainly the one that draws you most out of your ego.

When you can enter this vibration in its purity, you realize immediately that it has the same quality as the vibration of Love: it is directionless.

Ultimately, gratitude is only a very slightly coloured shade of the essential vibration of Love.

- The Mother

(The Mother, ‘The Spiritual Significance of Flowers’, Sri Aurobindo Ashram, Pondicherry)

A poem by Nolini Kanta Gupta

Lord, thou hast heard our prayer,
And come down into our mortal ways-
Assumed the form, the flesh that build our weakness,
Thou hast deigned to be close to us and wear our make,
To be with us and to be of us.

But we have taken thy humanity in a too literal and familiar way,
We have forgotten the Aspiration and the Descent,
The answering Grace that took shape in thy advent;
And now we blame thee and slight thee, because thou art become like us - earthly and human.
Divine, thou art too far- human, too near!
For the aberration of our petty minds knows no limits!

But thou sufferest all,
And keepest thy unruffled and unabated benignity-
On thy lips is the smile of eternal and infinite Grace,
The smile that is thine alone.


(Nolini Kanta Gupta, ‘To The Heights’, Translated from ‘Vers Les Hauteurs’, SAICE, Pondicherry)

Gratitude


Gratitude is an uncommon virtue though taught from man’s childhood. Its opposite number ingratitude, even aggressive ingratitude, is quite common in the human race. It has been so from the earliest times. Scriptures, dramas, literary works speak of it. But the situation has not changed much, rather it has worsened, and now it is said that dogs and some other animals are more grateful than men.

There is a story from the Mother. Once upon a time there was an assembly of Virtues. Gods and goddesses representing the virtues came and were happy in the reunion. Suddenly there was someone, dressed in white, entering the hall. Who could it be? They had thought that they all were there. The stranger was Gratitude.

Yes, gratitude is a quality of the psychic.

Madame Suvrata Gaebele gave an instance of the Mother’s sense of gratitude. Her brother had once helped the Mother in her visa matter, and this help Mother would gratefully mention whenever someone would complain to her against them.

A perfect example of gratefulness for a single act of kindness.

In fact there are instances in abundance of Mother’s remembrance of kindness and help that would be easily forgotten by us.

Then there is another gratitude, a gratitude of another level. As there is gratitude of man to man, there is a gratitude of man to the Divine.

That is what is expected of the seeker of God.

A self –willed man has the ingrained nature of giving credit to himself, to his own capacity and worth for whatever he receives or achieves. So he remains far from feeling grateful. But the seeker of God has to overcome his self-will, his limited self-personality. In the process, he learns to be grateful.

Grateful to whom? To man, to Nature, to God.

Our psychic recognizes what the divine is doing for us, how the Grace is carrying us through. It is a recognition with humbleness and devotion. Gratitude is a spontaneous outflow from this psychic perception.


(Shyam Sunder Jhunjhuwala, From the Editor’s Desk, ‘Some Socio-Spiritual Perspectives’, Sri Aurobindo Action, Pondicherry)

Walking in Light: Body Weight

The column “Walking in Light” is back on track, after a few issues of absence, due to reasons already published. In the last few issues, topics ranging from food, sleep and dreams were cursorily visited. In this comeback issue, the topic examined is “Body Weight”.

It was reported in Pucher (2010) that over the last 30 years, the rate of obesity has increased and to date, the World Health Organisation puts the number on obese adults around the world at 300 million. This seems to be directly related to the growth of affluence, which puts at our easy disposal readily available calories-rich food for our consumption and at the same time, automation that reduces physical activities considerably. Obesity raises the alarm bell for several life-threatening diseases such as high-blood pressure or hypertension, diabetes, cardiovascular diseases, such as heart attacks and angina, gout, gallstones and fatty livers (Pucher, 2010). A healthy life-style rests on a healthy regime of food intake, exercises, rest and relaxation. With these will usually fall into place a healthy and acceptable body weight, together with a body that provides one with a firm material support and basis for all activities in life.

What is one’s acceptable weight? A useful measure of whether one is overweight or not is through the Body Mass Index (BMI). This is calculated based on Weight divided by the square of Height:

BMI
Underweight Below 18.5
Normal 18.5–24.9
Overweight 25.0–29.9
Obesity 30.0 and Above


Body Weight/ Height Squared = BMI

The Body Mass Index gives an approximation on how heavy an individual should be at different heights. BMI is also an estimate of body fat and can serve as a good gauge of fat related health risks. To compute your BMI using the BMI calculator, you can visit the following website by the American based National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute at http://www.nhlbisupport.com/bmi/bmi-m.htm.

The two most important determinants of weight are the intake of the right types and amounts of food and adequate measure of activities in the course of the day. Essentially, this translates into a formula of input equating output and not one in excess of the other, which spells either an underweight or an overweight condition.

Keeping the body trim and fit is an essential component of Integral Yoga, for the purpose of introducing more and more perfection in the way the body functions and to increase in it suppleness in order to be able to function in works dedicated to the Divine in increasing levels of perfection.

The future newsletters will examine weight related issues in some detail.
- Jayanthy

Reference
1. Pucher, J., et al. (2010). Walking and Cycling to Health – A Comparative Analysis of City, State and International Data. American Journal of Public Health, October 2010, Vol. 100, No 100 P 1986 – 1992.
2. National Heart Lung and Blood Institute, USA. Website: http://www.nhlbisupport.com/bmi/bmi-m.htm.