Guiding Light of The Month

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

Psychic offering

It is the spontaneous attitude of the psychic towards the Divine.- The Mother

Common Name: Hollyhock

Botanical Name: Alcea Rosea

Spiritual Name: Psychic Offering

“Each time that the soul takes birth in a new body it comes with the intention of having a new experience which will help it to develop and to perfect its personality. This is how the psychic being is formed from life to life and becomes a completely conscious and independent personality which, once it has arrived at the summit of its development , is free to choose not only the time of its incarnation, but the place, the purpose and the work to be accomplished.”

- The Mother


This year we observe with gratitude and joy forty years of the existence of Sri Aurobindo Society here in Singapore, having been inaugurated in 1972 with The Mother’s blessings. A variety of activities have dotted the scene over the years, such as regular talks by eminent members like the late Prof Nadkarni and Mr Krishnamurthy and invited guests from ashram, such as Manoj-da, Alok Pandey and Shradhalu and other Aurobindonians such as Prashant Khanna, Prof. Rath and Dr Prema Nandakumar giving inspiring and illuminating talks at our centre. The centre has also been blessed with the presence of Champaklal. The few 10-day courses on Sanskrit by Dr. Anuradha Choudary and the health talk cum demonstration by Kalu-da were other activities. Currently, during the 6-7pm slots on Sundays, we have readings from the works of The Mother and Sri Aurobindo, including ‘Savitri’, Talks on Vedic Yoga, Meditations on Savitri, with paintings by Huta and the OM choir. These activities bring members together in collective aspiration. We also have a fortnightly Integral Enrichment Programme (IEP) with young children.

One of the most unique features of our society is the uninterrupted monthly walk conducted on the first Sunday of each month to mark the importance of physical culture in supporting a truly integral life. This month marks the 328th walk and what better way of observing this than to have our walk in Auroville! This is exactly what is happening for our December walk (Refer to the page on walk details).

This edition of our Newsletter is also intended to be a special one. Co-incidentally (or not!) the theme for this month fell in place naturally without much thought or manipulation. We started a theme of the Physical some 4 months ago and went on to incorporate other aspects of the being in the subsequent months, with the theme “Psychic Being” sitting naturally and squarely on the December issue.

The editorial will make no attempts at describing the Psychic Being, neither would it describe experiences of this. Sri Aurobindo and The Mother have elaborated on this most important aspect of our being in their numerous works. Picking up these and knowing from them, at least mentally to start with, what the Psychic Being is would be the best way forward. The Master and The Mother have cautioned us that attaining even knowledge, let alone an experience of The Psychic Being is no mean feat. It has taken ages for some to realise this and for others, life times.

If something within is convinced of the importance of finding this hidden being within as the only solution to a better life, then we will have to embark on that journey and stay on the search, stay on course, picking up the many hints strewn along the way. We probably will also be convinced to an extent, even if we have been on the path for a short while, that this mind that hinges on the rigidity of its formation, this heart that lets out longing gasps of desire, this body that dances to the rhythm of the blind heart and boxes in to the rigidity of the surface mind cannot be fit instruments to find that special being within. It has to be something else.

The Psychic Being appears to be like a treasure hid deep within a cave of rocks. Perhaps an attempt at true silence that facilitates an inward gaze may help. The path has to be something other than that fathomed by the measuring mind and the heaving heart; a path yet trodden in each of us, perhaps.

From Savitri

A Person persistent through the lapse of worlds,

Although the same for ever in many shapes

By the outer mind unrecognizable,

Assuming names unknown in unknown climes

Imprints through Time upon the earth’s worn page

A growing figure of its secret self,

And learns by experience what the spirit knew,

Till it can see its truth alive in God.

(Savitri, Book 2 Canto 14)

Our soul from its mysterious chamber acts;

Its influence pressing on our heart and mind

Pushes them to exceed their mortal selves.

It seeks for Good and Beauty and for God;

We see beyond self’s walls our limitless self,

We gaze through our world’s glass at half-seen vasts,

We hunt for the Truth behind apparent things.

(Savitri, Book 7 Canto 2)

Question of the month

Q: How is one to be sure that an inner guidance is coming from the psychic being?

A: M.P. Pandit : It is an experience of many that when they begin to live a kind of inner life, they become aware of an new personality within themselves, and it is very tempting to believe that this new entity is the psychic being. But in ninety-nine percent of the cases, it is not. The psychic takes a long time to express itself.

People mistake the vital being, the mental being, or any subtler formation for the psychic being. When the psychic emerges and begins to express itself, it carries about it an unquestionable conviction. There is a solid peace, a feeling of purity, an absolutely new dimension added. One knows that it does not answer to any personal preferences or desires. It is something fresh; it is a new experience at least for the moment when the psychic voice is heard. But one has to be extremely discriminating one has to be sure of one’s purity and non-involvement in the problem, before taking the voice that one hears as the guiding voice.

(M.P. Pandit, ‘Sat-Sang’, Vol.2, Edited by Vasanti Rao, Dipti Publications 1982)

Q: What are the two birds sitting on the same tree in Katha Upanishad? Are they the witness soul and the psychic being? If not , what are they?

A: M.P. Pandit : The lower bird is the soul identified with Nature, lost in its workings. It feels enslaved. In its anguish it looks up at the other bird sitting serenely on the higher branch of the tree of life. When the suffering soul realizes that he who is above, the jivatma, not involved in the movement yet presiding over it from his high station, is none other than its own self all sorrow passes away from it.

Q: Isvarah sarvabhutanam hrdaya-tisthati. Is this isvara the supreme Divine or God? And who is to surrender to Him“tameva saranam gaccha ?” Is this the psychic soul? Does Gita admit the Psychic being?

A: M.P. Pandit : The Gita makes no mention of the psychic being of our conception. In the context, Ishwara is the individual Divine who stations himself in each person and who can be reached by a concentrated inward plunge. He who surrenders is the human personality constituted of so many selves and evolving towards godhead. What surrenders is not merely the soul but the entire complex which is upheld, governed and led by the psychic purusha within.

(M.P. Pandit, ‘All Life is Yoga’, Dipti Publications)

The “Psychic Being” in ‘Savitri’ – An Initial Exploration

Savitri, the book of revelations, is Sri Aurobindo’s magnum opus, the book of secrets into inner worlds and worlds above, holding the key to their discovery, to self-mastery and more. The Psychic Being, a central being within, whose discovery in life is pivotal to self-growth and discovery, a widening of consciousness which embraces all, is a ever-recurring theme in Sri Aurobindo’s philosophy. Does Sri Aurobindo mention the term “Psychic Being” in Savitri? Does he describe it? If so where and how? These questions led to this initial exploration in Savitri, seeking the “Psychic Being”. An idea of the “Psychic Being” as glimpsed from literature on Integral Yoga is presented, followed by an examination of part of Canto 5, Book 7: “Finding of the Soul” for reference to the Psychic Being. Some conclusions are then drawn from the brief study.

The Psychic Being and the Soul - Some Explanations

The Psychic Being is one of the central themes in Sri Aurobindo’s Integral Yoga which seeks the transformation of matter such that it would be capable of revealing the face of the Divine immanent in all of creation and beyond. The agent whose task it is to bring about that transformation of nature - the physical, vital and mental - is the Psychic being, which is a portion of the divine put into all life, and in man being given the opportunity to express itself and take over his nature, effecting a gradual transformation of all of his nature such that Divinity may express itself through the “divinised mud”.

What is the relationship between the soul and the psychic being? Is there any essential difference between them? Further reading reveals an essential difference between the Soul and the Psychic Being. In Integral Yoga, the soul state is differentiated into two states, namely “the soul in its essence” and “the soul in its evolved, individualised form”. The soul in its essence is what is referred to in various terms in this yoga as “psyche, psychic essence, soul spark or soul element” (Sri Aurobindo, 1989, p. iii). It is by this soul spark or soul element that “we exist and persist as individual beings in Nature” (Aurobindo, 1970a, p. 891). The soul in its evolved, individualized form is referred to variously as “psychic being, psychic personality, soul-form… or soul personality” (Sri Aurobindo, 1989, p. iii). This is the soul personality that evolves with the growth of consciousness during each life-time. The Psychic Being then is the evolving soul.

The term “Psychic” is derived from the Greek term, “psukhe”, which means the soul. In the many layers that make up the being, the Psychic Being is the innermost being which lends its support to all the other parts of the being, both inner and outer, the layers belonging to both the Purusha (Self) and Prakriti (nature or manifested self). It is described as a “spark or portion of the Divine” present in all forms of creation. The Psychic Being is a flowering of what is called the Psyche or Psychic entity or soul. This psyche grows, in the course of its evolution and through its various experiences in life-times into an individual psychic personality in the human. This individualized personality is termed the Psychic Being (Dalal, 2007, p. 204).

Here is an extract of Sri Aurobindo’s description of these terms in ‘Synthesis of Yoga’ (Aurobindo, 1997, p. 141):

“But the true soul of man is not there; (heart of desire) it is in the true invisible heart hidden in some luminous cave of the nature: there under some infiltration of the divine Light is our soul, a silent inmost being of which few are even aware; for if all have a soul, few are conscious of their true soul or feel its direct impulse. There dwells the little spark of the Divine which supports this obscure mass of our nature and around it grows the psychic being, the formed soul or the real Man within us. It is as this psychic being in him grows and the movements of the heart reflect its divinations and impulsions that man becomes more and more aware of his soul, ceases to be a superior animal, and, awakened to the glimpses of the godhead within him, admits more and more its intimations of a deeper life and consciousness and an impulse towards things divine. It is one of the decisive moments of the integral Yoga when this psychic being liberated, brought out from the veil to the front, can pour the full flood of its divinations, seeings and impulsions on the mind, life and body of man and begin to prepare the upbuilding of divinity in the earthly nature.”

The Psychic Being in Savitri

We have a sense of the significance of the Psychic Being and its emergence in man as a decisive action in the course of individual evolution. However, in ‘Savitri’, Sri Aurobindo’s magnum opus, it is quite a wonder that the term psychic being occurs nowhere in the 24,000 odd lines that constitute this epic poem, as revealed by a word search. However, its closest root, the term “Psyche” occurs once, as described below (Aurobindo, 1970b, p. 487).

But for such vast spiritual change to be,

Out of the mystic cavern in man’s heart

The heavenly Psyche must put off her veil

And step into common nature’s crowded rooms

And stand uncovered in that nature’s front

And rule its thoughts and fill the body and life.

The Psyche, in Sri Aurobindo’s yoga is a direct reference to the “soul” or “innermost part of the being”(Sri Aurobindo, 1989, p. iii) as opposed to the psychic being. In other words, it is “the soul; the essence of the soul; spark of the Divine which is there in all things.”

Going through the first 201 lines (in the first 5 pages, from pg. 522-527) of Canto 5; Book 7, there is some indication that Sri Aurobindo was referring to the Psychic Being, although the term psychic being was never used. These following lines especially hold the clue to the fact that Sri Aurobindo was referring to the Psychic Being (Aurobindo, 1970b, pp. 526, 527):

But since she knows the toil of mind and life

As a mother feels and shares her children’s lives,

She puts forth a small portion of herself,

A being no bigger than the thumb of man

Into a hidden region of the heart

To face the pang and to forget the bliss,

To share the suffering and endure earth’s wounds

And labour mid the labour of the stars.

The key to the fact that Sir Aurobindo was indeed referring to the Psychic Being appears in the line, “A being no bigger than the thumb”. This line is a direct reference to the Upanishadic principle of the caitya purusa (Sri Aurobindo, 1989). It is in the ‘Katho Upanishad’, that the Caitya Purusa is described as a being no bigger than the thumb. The subsequent lines give ample description of the being that is no bigger than the thumb is an out flowering or the putting out of this being in question by “The Spirit’s conscious representative”, referred to in the feminine in order to bear nature’s pangs and toil with her. The Soul-Psychic being relationship echoed in these lines above are taken up again in ‘Synthesis of Yoga’. Sri Aurobindo points out (Aurobindo, 1997, pp. 153-154) that even when a semblance of the Psychic Being is present, “it is still in all but a few a smaller portion of the being—“no bigger in the mass of the body than the thumb of a man” was the image used by the ancient seers..” He is referring here to the Caitya Purusa pointed out by the ancient seers, referred to him as the Psychic Being in later works.

Elsewhere too, in ‘Synthesis of Yoga’, Sri Aurobindo makes a direct reference to the Psychic Being as the Caitya Purusa (Aurobindo, 1997, p. 238 - 239) as in :

“ …—this veiled psychic entity is the flame of the Godhead always alight within us, inextinguishable even by that dense unconsciousness of any spiritual self within which obscures our outward nature. It is a flame born out of the Divine and, luminous inhabitant of the Ignorance, grows in it till it is able to turn it towards the Knowledge. It is the concealed Witness and Control, the hidden Guide, the Daemon of Socrates, the inner light or inner voice of the mystic. It is that which endures and is imperishable in us from birth to birth, untouched by death, decay or corruption, an indestructible spark of the Divine. Not the unborn Self or Atman, for the Self even in presiding over the existence of the individual is aware always of its universality and transcendence, it is yet its deputy in the forms of Nature, the individual soul, caitya purusa, supporting mind, life and body, standing behind the mental, the vital, the subtle-physical being in us and watching and profiting by their development and experience.”

We can be quite assured that Sri Aurobindo was referring to the Psychic Being through these cross-references. A further confirmation of this can also be drawn by analyzing the content in the following lines (Aurobindo, 1970b, pp. 526 -527) as follows:

A being stood immortal in transience,

Deathless dallying with momentary things,

In whose wide eyes of tranquil happiness

Which pity and sorrow could not abrogate

Infinity turned its gaze on finite shapes:

This being is the soul, transcendent, “Observer of the silent steps of the hours, Eternity upheld the minute’s acts And the passing scenes of the Everlasting’s play….. The Spirit’s conscious representative,..” However, to help the natural portion of man to receive and bear the impacts of life,

She puts forth a small portion of herself,

A being no bigger than the thumb of man

Into a hidden region of the heart

To face the pang and to forget the bliss,

To share the suffering and endure earth’s wounds

And labour mid the labour of the stars.

This being, “no bigger than the thumb of man” is an out-flowering of the Soul entity or soul element, as described in these lines, something put forth by the Soul. Savitri gains proximity with The Soul through her Psychic Being. It is likely that in Savitri, her Psychic Being was fully formed and therefore eventually opened the gateway to the Soul, with which she merges, as the forthcoming lines depict.

Here in this chamber of flame and light they met;

They looked upon each other, knew themselves,

The secret deity and its human part,

The calm immortal and the struggling soul.

Then with a magic transformation’s speed

They rushed into each other and grew one.

It is to be understood that the soul spark or psychic spark is present in life forms, but in the more evolved human nature it is given a chance to step forward, influence at first the development of the nature - the physical, mental and vital - and eventually, use perfected nature as its means of self-expression which is a crucial step leading to the divine manifestation upon earth. The mental mind perceives this in a somewhat crude chronological order. It appears that soul states flow over each other, although there is apparent an evolutionary development. In this canto, it appears that Sri Aurobindo describes the psychic being as something that is encountered on the way to the Soul, something that aids the eventual soul contact.

The experience of diving into these few lines of Savitri cannot be described in words. It was a momentary dip into an ocean of delight and wonder, something in one knowing fully well that the best and brightest treasures were far, far away, beyond the clutches of this mind or this intellect. There was a sense of silence in the lines that continuously led and also trailed behind the search, there were deeper voices that hummed the secret of the route and the surface being knew itself ill equipped for that journey. A surrender total was demanded, nothing more, nothing less, to open oneself and wait in silent aspiration. One perhaps never finishes with Savitri. Fresh windows open each time something within us reaches out to Savitri. So it is with this initial exploration. It continues.


Aurobindo, S. (1970a). Life Divine. Pondicherry: Sri Aurobindo Ashram Trust.

Aurobindo, S. (1970b). Savitri. Pondicherry: Sri Aurobindo Ashram Trust.

Aurobindo, S. (1997). Synthesis of Yoga (Vol. VOLUMES 33 and 34). Pondicherry: Sri Aurobindo Ashram Trust.

Dalal, A. S. (2007). Sri Aurobindo and The Future Psychology - Supplement to A Greater Psychology. Puducherry: Sri Aurobindo Ashram Trust.

Huppes, N. (2001). Psychic Education. New Delhi: Sri Auriobindo Education Society.

Sri Aurobindo, A. (1989). The Psychic Being, Soul: Its Nature, Mission and Evolution (First ed.). Pondicherry: Sri Aurobindo Ashram Trust.


Tring-Tring. The phone clattered, breaking the quietness of the house. Shwetha who picked up the phone was overwhelmed by the news her husband gave her regarding his long-awaited promotion with an overseas offer. Shwetha belonged to a small, loving family, with her husband Mahesh and two daughters, Shreya and Shruthi. In the evening, during a family discussion, a wave of queries arose regarding the transfer for which Mahesh answered that prior arrangements have been done only the school admissions and house hunting still remains, and that they had to leave by the end of the month.

Before heading toward a new experience, they visited the Sri Aurobindo Ashram to seek blessings of the Sri Aurobindo and The Mother. Soon after they left for Hong Kong, which greeted them with it's magnificent buildings and roads which caught the children’s fancy. Very soon they found a convenient house where they settled down, but before they could breathe a sigh of relief, they had another big responsibility - to sort out the school admissions. They applied to 2-3 schools who asked them to wait and lookup the results soon through email, Shwetha thought, “Oh my children are just brilliant, no one can afford to deny admission to my kids.”

Days rolled by, slowly Shwetha started worrying about the school admissions as no intimation was received yet. Both Mahesh and Swetha were disturbed.

After two days they received a phone call from a school asking them to come for an interview the next day. Hoping for the best, the family set out to the school, where they were informed of a problem regarding the change of the board, and they would be provided provisional admission as the formalities would take time. If they were willing to take the risk, they could pay the fees and start the academic year.

Her mind rushed with pessimistic thoughts, remorse of shifting from India and imagined how easy life would have been back home. Suddenly she seemed lost in an unknown land and Mahesh as if suggesting a solution asked her to introspect as to what they might have done wrong during the transfer.

Later in the evening after meditation and complete surrender, Mahesh realized that the defect was within them and not in the circumstance, that they never stepped back even for a second when things flowed smoothly to thank The Mother, but when there came a sudden jerk only then they remembered The Mother. Feeling ashamed of their conduct, they stood before The Mother with tears rolling down and asked for forgiveness.

“A mistake recognized is a mistake pardoned.”

With a certitude that The Mother would take care of the problem, they slept peacefully. The next day, the phone rang giving them news of approval of admission. Oh, how grateful they were to The Mother!!! With a sigh of relief they thanked The Mother for making them understand that “Every circumstance comes to reveal a hidden weakness.”

Om Namo Bhagavate Sri Aravindaya Sharanam Mama.


‘Rays of Light’, pg 95, pg 85 Sri Aurobindo Ashram, Pondicherry.

- Sharadha

October/ November activites at our center

4 November 2012: Talk on “The Relevance of Integral Education Today” by Partho

We were privileged to have Partho bhai at our centre on this day. He began the session inviting questions from those who attended the talk. Clearly, he did not want to lecture but rather, be engaged in a dialogue session with everyone. Having gauged our understanding on the topic, he proceeded to summarise the concept of Integral Education. In order to accomplish this, he touched on Integral Yoga and what it essentially entailed. Then he brought us into the realm of Integral Education. As he shared his knowledge and experience in this field, many questions followed and some of them, clearly burning questions from parents on the way of bringing up a child. Partho bhai was forthright with his answers. He mentioned that there were no short cuts but for one and all to aspire for and practice a more and more true living. The talk extended to about two hours. It felt as if Partho bhai had kindled some sparks in all of us that day.

11 November 2012: Talk/Discussion on Vedic Yoga

The second Sunday of the month is when we have the Talk at the Centre. And this Sunday, Jared was to speak on the topic Vedic Yoga (Part II), as Part I was covered the previous month. After the Opening Meditation, we formed a circle. As always, we picked up one copy each, of the handout prepared by Jared.

The session started with a few participants sharing their personal experience about how they were initiated into Vedic chanting and its significance in their lives. It was enriching to hear each of these experiences. With that in the backdrop, we started off with our first topic for the day-- “The Inner War”. This is a topic which is relevant to our everyday lives! We all have our constant inner conflicts, inner wars within ourselves every moment, every day. It had beautiful lines on the soul of a man and how it is a world in itself, what with there being positive forces or The Gods and then the negative forces or the demons trying to establish themselves.

The second topic was “The Hostile Forces”. This topic dealt with the hostile forces Man encounters during his spiritual quest, the multiple roles that he has to don during the course of the journey and how all along he is constantly encountering the Dasyu, the natural enemy. This triggered off an interesting discussion about how the Vedic philosophy quotes “Yad Pinde Tad Brahmande” as the important principle which loosely translates to “You are a Universe within the Universe”. One could draw a parallel to this with the Egyptian phrase: “As above, so below. As within, so without” as Jared highlighted. With this enlightenment, and a good discussion later, we sat for our Closing Meditation.

17 November 2012 : The Mother’s Mahasamdhi Day

We gathered at the Centre from 6pm onwards. More flowers arrived at the Centre and these were quietly arranged and offered at the altar. We began with meditation on Sunil-da’s music and read two entries from ‘Prayers and Meditation’. Venkatesh Rao described in brief what Nirod-da had described about Mother’s last few days. Shailaja then read the message from ashram which touched us all in our cores. It asked us to hold always the highest and only goal of knowing the truth of our being before us, in all that we do, feel and think. The lines took us naturally into silent meditation. The poignant session came to a close after about 10 minutes on Sunil-da’s music.

18 November 2012 : Talk/Discussion on Vedic Yoga

This week, we continued with the second part of Jared's talk on Vedic Yoga, based on Sri Aurobindo's The Secret of the Veda. The discussion involved the nature of the Gods, the great Aspects of the Divine that assist us in our evolution. After Jared's explanation, an extract on one of the main Gods was read. Mr Krishnamurthy then chanted Vedic mantras that invoked the particular God we were reading about (either Agni, Indra, Surya or Soma), before group discussion commenced. The group not only sought to grasp the nature of the Gods intellectually, but also tried to experience some of their Radiance through the Vedic mantras. The session ended with the Mother's reading of the 'Adoration of the Divine Mother' - an invocation to the mother of the Gods, Aditi.

23 November 2012 : Musical Offering by Mr. and Mrs. Bhattacharjee

We were privileged to have with us Mr. and Mrs. Bhattacharjee from the Sri Aurobindo Society, Bangalore (otherwise known as Sri Aurobindo Bhavan at Ulsoor) who were on a short stop-over visit to Singapore en route to Australia. They treated us to an evening of deep devotional music. The simplicity in the offering, the devotion, the total involvement, the utter care with which each rendition was offered had its effect on all of us. The silence that pervaded the room when the offering concluded was deeply felt by one and all. We could only refer back to The Mother for the blessings bestowed upon all of us. It was indeed a most fitting way to welcome Siddhi Day.

24 November 2012 : Siddhi Day

We gathered on Siddhi day in our centre. The flowers offered at the altar spoke many sweet words silently. Following meditation with Sunil-da’s New Year music and reading off Prayers and meditation by Shailaja, the Siddhi Day message from ashram was read by Jayanthy. It was another poignant message following the one a week before. Then the significance of Siddhi day as narrated by Purani was read out by Sundari. Jared led us in reading a page each of Canto 15, Book 2: ‘The Kingdoms of the Greater Knowledge’. The hour-long gathering concluded with a short meditation with Sunil-da’s New Year music.

- Jayanthy, Jared and Preethi

Aspiration for Silence in the Mind

It is the spontaneous attitude of the psychic towards the Divine.- The Mother

Common Name: Blue Sage

Botanical Name: Eranthemum pulchellum

Spiritual Name: Aspiration for Silence in the Mind

From the Editor's desk

The theme that we are exploring for the month of November is “The Mental” (or The Mind). This is one of the three planes (though there are numerous planes between these planes, in numerous shades, mixes and combinations) of nature, the other two being The Physical and The Vital, which we explored in the last two months.

The Mind. What is it? How is it unique? Though it may appear to us that the mind is very much “us”, the thinking acting individual, the sensing and knowing individual, integral yoga explains that the mind is that part in us that has to do with “cognition and intelligence, with ideas, with mental or thought perceptions, the reactions of thoughts to things, with the truly mental movements and formations, mental vision and will, etc., that are a part of his intelligence.” These descriptions of the mind can be understood a little more clearly, the moment we place these attributes of the mind alongside that of the vital, made of, “desires, sensations, feelings, passions, energies of action, will of desire, reactions of the desire-soul in man and all that play of possessive and other related instincts, anger, fear, greed, lust, etc”.

The mind would appear now more of an instrument that receives information from around us, and also from within us, to formulate a needed corresponding reaction in line with or in opposition to the information thus received and to organise other faculties at our disposal and to co-ordinate them such that a certain response is effectuated. This is a very, very complex process, it appears, and how many such cycles we are put through in our daily lives, from moment to moment! When we stop, step back and look at these movements, another world inevitably unlocks itself before our watching eyes. Mind need not be just a faculty, going on its random motion with the rest of the being in the pattern and movements that the wind takes. The mind can be an

instrument at our disposal, to realise conscious goals, consciously. The reasoning mind would immediately understand this proposal as a time-saver and an efficiency booster.

It has to be more than just this. The Mother has said that the mind “is not an instrument of knowledge”. The true role of the mind is in being a “formative and organising power”, for putting inspirations into organised action for its realisation. One need not go far to understand that our realisations in life will be as high as our inspirations and secondly, that the quality of inspirations depend on the state of our consciousness. Thirdly, another truth that dawns on us is that when the mind is not clear and settled and calm, than what it plans and organises are effectuated with much of confusion, lack of clarity and precision and what results out if this is similarly mediocre and we short-change ourselves and our progress in whichever field that is our focus.

With this realisation comes an understanding of the need for a crystal clear mind that can receive intimations from higher, deeper regions and with an equal calmness and precision, effectuate an action in the most efficient manner for a needed action. The Mother sums the whole action of the mind in the following words: “And if it would only confine itself to that role, receiving inspirations – whether from above or from the mystic centre of the of the soul – and simply formulating the plan of action – in broad outline or in minute detail, for the smallest things of life or the great terrestrial organisations – it would amply fulfil its function.”(‘Our Many Selves, Practical Yogic Psychology’, Sri Aurobindo Ashram Trust)

Something opens in us, quietly, and a search, a seeking begins. One takes a small step forward on the path.

From Savitri

He looked at heaven and saw his comrade stars;

A vision came of beauty and greater birth

Slowly emerging from the heart’s chapel of light

And moved in a white lucent air of dreams.

He saw his being’s unrealized vastnesses,

He aspired and housed the nascent demi-god.

Out of the dim recesses of the self

The occult seeker into the open came:

He heard the far and touched the intangible,

He gazed into the future and the unseen;

He used the powers earth-instruments cannot use,

A pastime made of the impossible;

He caught up fragments of the Omniscient’s thought,

He scattered formulas of omnipotence.

Thus man in his little house made of earth’s dust

Grew towards the unseen heaven of thought and dream

Looking into the vast vistas of his mind

On a small globe dotting infinity.

(Savitri, Book 7 Canto 2)

Question of the month

Q: Because the tiger acts according to his nature and knows not anything else, therefore he is divine and there is no evil in him. If he questioned himself , then he would be a criminal.

What would be the truly natural state for man? Why does he question himself ?

A: The Mother : On earth (This precise detail is not superfluous; I said "on earth" meaning that man does not belong merely to earth: in essence man is a universal being, but he has a special manifestation on earth) man is a transitional being. Therefore, in the course of his evolution, he has had several natures in succession, which have followed an ascending curve and will continue to follow it until he reaches the threshold of the supramental nature and is transformed into the superman. This curve is the spiral of mental development.

We tend to call "natural" any spontaneous manifestation which is not the result of a choice or a preconceived decision, that is to say, without the intrusion of any mental activity. This is why when a man has a vital spontaneity which is very little mentalised, he seems more "natural" in his simplicity. But this naturalness is very much like that of the animal and is at the very bottom of the human evolutionary scale. He will only regain this spontaneity free from mental intrusion when he attains to the supramental stage, that is to say, when he transcends mind and

emerges into the higher Truth.

Until then all his behaviour is, naturally, natural! But with the mind evolution has become, one cannot say twisted, but distorted, because by its very nature the mind was open to perversion and almost from the beginning it became perverted, or, to be more precise, it was perverted by the Asuric forces. And this state of perversion gives us the impression that it is unnatural.

Why does he question himself ? Simply because this is the nature of the mind !

With the mind individualisation began and a very acute feeling of separation, and also a kind of impression, more or less precise, of freedom of choice --- all that, all these psychological states are the natural consequences of mental life and they open the door to everything we see now, from aberrations to the most rigorous principles. Mind has the impression that it can choose between one thing and another, but this impression is the distortion of a true principle which would be completely realisable only when the soul or psychic being appears in the consciousness and if the soul were to take up the governance of the being. Then man's life would truly become the manifestation of the supreme Will expressing itself individually, consciously. But in the normal human state this is something extremely exceptional which to the ordinary human consciousness does not seem at all natural --- it seems almost supernatural !

Man questions himself because the mental instrument is intended to see all possibilities. And the immediate consequence of this is the concept of good and evil, or of what is right and what is wrong, and all the miseries that follow from that. One cannot say that it is a bad thing; it is an intermediate stage --- not a very pleasant one, but still... one which was certainly inevitable for the complete development of the mind.

- 17 March 1961

(The Mother, ‘CWM’, Vol. 10, Sri Aurobindo Ashram Trust, Pondicherry)

When physical conditions are a little difficult ...

When physical conditions are a little difficult and some discomfort follows, if one knows how to surrender completely before Thy will, caring little for life or death, health or illness, the integral being enters immediately into harmony with Thy law of love and life, and all physical indisposition ceases giving place to a calm well-being, deep and peaceful.

I have noticed that when one enters into an activity that necessitates great physical endurance, what tires one most is anticipating beforehand all the difficulties to which one will be exposed. It is much wiser to see at every moment only the difficulty of the present instant; in this way the effort becomes much easier for it is always proportionate to the amount of strength, the resistance at one’s disposal. The body is a marvellous tool, it is our mind that does not know how to use it and, instead of fostering its suppleness, its plasticity, it brings a certain fixity into it which comes from preconceived ideas and unfavourable suggestions.

But the supreme science, O Lord, is to unite with Thee, to trust in Thee, to live in Thee, to be Thyself; and then nothing is any longer impossible to a man who manifests Thy omnipotence.

Lord, my aspiration rises to Thee like a silent canticle, a mute adoration, and Thy divine Love illumines my heart.

O Divine Master, I bow to Thee!”

- 17-March-1914.

Sri Aurobindo on Stilling the Mind

Solid nerves means patience, vigilance, endurance, capacity to break stones.... You must make your nerves strong by cultivating these qualities, and by bringing down quiet and peace. To get the stillness and peace you must first have silent aspiration in all the being for peace, then separate yourself from your mind, draw back and look at it from above. Actively watch the mind as it runs along. Don't give sanction to the thoughts; if they are persistent reject them centrally, calmly, steadily, without struggle or effort or strain. Don't involve yourself in the act of rejecting the thoughts. A vigilant will is essential lest you lose hold of self. You must be able to inwardly seize the mind and hold it...this is also necessary for active concentrated thinking. Both movements are mutually helpful.... With practice the mind comes under control, there will be quiet and stillness. After stillness is established, concentrate silently, consciously on the peace.

Emptiness of mind is something deeper than the normal void of the inert, tamasic mind, it is a preparation for a higher movement in consciousness. One must be vigilant and drive away all weakness and impurity, lest in this emptiness the force that is in the atmosphere may take advantage of the weak spot and overturn him. I have reached a stage where there is something in the atmosphere around me, and the Sadhaks may feel the effects of its pressure on all the levels of being.... Unless one has a strong hold on the self there is every danger.

The external things do not much matter, it is the restlessness and the inertia of mind that are the real obstacles. The body is not so much of an obstacle as the mind with its activity and its desire for results. Don't engage yourself in a duel with the mind. Don't fight with the thoughts. You must stand back from the mind and like a spectator watch its activity. Even in the act of watching the mind as it runs, you are passively rejecting the thoughts.... Unless you do this, you will not get the peace and the force. Even in my own case mind was the obstacle in the path of my progress to Vijnana.... Silently command the mind to be still. There must be an inner central concentration.

The stillness is of the mind.... The melancholy may be due to the sentimental part of the mind. The mind raises up the melancholy to enjoy it. It is the melancholy of the poets, Tagore, for example, Or it may be due, as you say, to imagination. You have to still the sentimental mind, the sensational mind by calling down the peace. When the peace descends, you feel it within you in the body descending from centre to centre, and around you. The peace is the foundation and the beginning of Yoga. Later come Ananda, vastness of Brahman, Purusha consciousness, etc.

You have to look at the thoughts, cast out the false, receive the true.... The will should be silent intuitive will, a force that is not mental.... If the melancholy is corrosive, it must be rejected.... If it is soothing, as for example, such as is induced by certain melodies, it is psychic sadness, and this can be utilised in the Sadhana....

There is no harm in summarily rejecting the thoughts, only you should not involve yourself in the act of rejecting them.... In the act of watching your mind, you are passively rejecting the thoughts, but you are not involving yourself.... Though the quiet is not disturbed by the thoughts, you must not allow them to rise often lest it become a habit. Try to silence them as completely as possible. Otherwise they may be coming up like this (with a gesture of the hand).... The quiet must not depend on any external causes for e.g., music.... You must lay down the mind as freely as you do a tool.

You must have equality under all circumstances. If your mind gets out of control even for a moment and gets disturbed or troubled, then all troubles follow, mental unrest, suggestions, etc. Be vigilant always, more vigilant in other hours than during meditation.... You must see the One Infinite everywhere. Always you must try to see everything as the manifestation of God. Aspiration in the heart, (i.e. the psychic mind,) and will in the higher mind, — prayer is only the making precise of the aspiration - will bring down the peace. The peace you will feel as a Presence about you, within you.... Silence is a very powerful weapon and comes only after long Sadhana to those whose mental development does not become an obstacle to the silence, generally it does.... It depends on one's Samaskara, temperament. Thought is a form of consciousness. And in the near future since there would be no silence, thoughts would arise and make their impression on the consciousness before they are dismissed.... Separate yourself from mind, and quiet the mind. Be one with the Witness. Separate yourself from Prana later.... You don't find the obstacles in your path now. As the peace and force descend, they reveal the obstacles, and they also show you how to get over them. The will in the Higher Mind you cannot reach so soon. Till it is awakened, resort to aspiration purified and strengthened more and more.

(V. Chidanandam, ‘’Sri Aurobindo and The Mother, As I Saw Them’, Sri Aurobindo Ashram Trust, Pondicherry)

To a question on the way to think, The Mother gives a luminous illustration on what it is like thinking with ideas and not just words.

You have asked the teachers “to think with ideas instead of with words”. You have also said that later on you will ask them to think with experiences. Will you throw some light on these three ways of thinking?

Our house has a very high tower; at the very top of that tower there is a bright and bare room, the last one before we emerge into the open air, into the full light. Sometimes, when we are at leisure to do so, we climb up to this bright room, and there, if we remain very quiet, one or more visitors call on us; some are tall, others small, some single, others in groups; all are bright and graceful. Usually, in our joy at their arrival and in our haste to receive them well, we lose our tranquility and come galloping down to rush into the large hall which forms the base of the tower and which is the store-room of words. Here, more or less excited, we select, reject, assemble, combine, disarrange, rearrange all the words within our reach in an attempt to transcribe this or that visitor who has come to us. But most often the picture we succeed in making of her is more like a caricature than a portrait. And yet if we were wiser, we would remain up there at the summit of the tower, quite still, in joyful contemplation. Then, after a certain length of time, we would see the visitors themselves descending slowly, gracefully, calmly, without losing anything of their elegance or their beauty and, as they cross the store-room of words, clothing themselves effortlessly, automatically, with the words needed to make them perceptible even in the material house. This is what I call thinking with ideas. When this process is no longer mysterious to you, I shall explain what is meant by thinking with experiences.

When you think with words, you can express what you think with those words only. To think with ideas is to be able to put the same idea in many kinds of words. The words can also be of different languages, if you happen to know more than one language. This is the first, the most elementary thing about thinking with ideas. When you think with experience, you go much deeper and you can express the same experience with many kinds of ideas. Then thought can take this form or that form in any language and through all of them the essential realization will remain unchanged.

(‘The Mother on Education’, Cent.Ed. Vol 12. Pp.187-188)

The Foundations of Psychological Theory in the Veda, Contd

At this stage, it will be beneficial to fully understand what the word ‘yajña’ means. More than 1000 verses are dedicated to this in the Rig Veda. It will be a fundamental mistake to regard this as a mere ritual or rite. The Veda clearly describes it as i) Journey ii) Climbing a hill iii) A battle and also (iv) Worship or Rite. The central idea is very clear that the worship or rite is not done by a human being. Agni, the deva is invoked to perform all the functions associated with various human priests. Interestingly, Agni is called upon to worship on behalf of the ṛishi, not merely the other devas, but also the human beings who have attained perfection (described in the following Mantra 1, Suktha 45 and Mandala 1 of Rig Veda Samhita).

“tvam agne vasun iha rudran adityan uta , yaja svadhvaram janam manujatam ghrutaprusham”

Detailed meaning: Worship not only Gods like Vasus, worship also the illumined men who adore the Gods through the offerings of knowledge. Such men are like Gods and their lives dedicated to the Gods. (Since Agni is the priest, he is requested to worship these men along with the Gods).

Rig Vedic mystics realised that a human being performs an effective action only through the assistance he gets from the devas, where as his own contribution is nominal. In fact, even the greatest Vedic poets obtained inspiration from superior planes and their contribution was restricted only to transcribe the revealed verses. With this it is very clear that yajña is an activity recognising the collaboration between the deva and the human. The much later scripture ‘Bhagavad Gita’ specifically mentions the different yajnãs by name such as yajña of obtaining material objects, obtaining knowledge, involving self-study etc.,

i) Yajña as a ‘journey’: The word Adhvara’ is used here. It is derived from ‘adhva’ (path) and ‘ - ra’ (to move). Taking this as an advantage, pure ritualists regarded this as a synonym for rite, since one of the principal priests performing the worship is called ‘Adhvaryu’. However, for a proper interpretation one need to ask: What is this journey? Every action in our life is a step in our journey towards realising the goal called bliss, an all-sided perfection of not just the physical body, but the vital and mental ones too. This can also be extended to mean, not just individual perfection but for a society at large. Veda uses the imagery of voyage to say that a person doing yajña, reaches different states of consciousness, gets priceless experiences and brings them back to the ordinary living conditions too, thus making the human life Divine.

ii) Yajña as ‘climbing from one peak to another’: It is going to be a steady climb going from one degree of perfection to another. Rig Veda explicitly states that no one can be consciously aware of the entire journey. One can at best know what can be done at that stage. Only when one peak is reached, the other can be seen and to realise as to how much more is to be accomplished. Whenever help is needed, the devas will again manifest and guide us along.

iii) Yajña as a battle: The devas are the helpful powers of the nature. However, there are powers such as dasyus, Vṛtra and Vala too and they are the thieves and destroyers. They impede our progress and do not recognise the principle of collaboration. They influence human beings and bring out bad qualities like jealousy, greed etc. The human collaborators need to call upon the devas to battle out them. Thus Yajña becomes a battle too.

iv) Yajña as a rite or ritual: This is a symbolic physical representation of various steps involved in the collaboration. The ritual begins with the invocation of Agni by lighting of the physical fire. The dry fuel called ‘samit’ is fed to the fire, representing all the qualities that are not necessary or inappropriate. The fire is nourished by the ghee or clarified butter, representing mental clarity. The Soma herb which stands for the bliss released in all actions, is also offered to Agni besides rice and grains. These are some of the steps taken during the famous Soma rite.

(to be continued)

- C. Krishnamurthy (

September-October Sunday Activities at Centre – A glimpse

30 Sept 2012 : Video: The One whom we adore as The Mother.

It was the fifth Sunday of the month, and hence a bonus Sunday. In order to make full use of it, we decided to watch a video on The Mother. It was called “The One whom we adore as The Mother”. The name itself seemed suggestive that it would divulge unseen and unheard of things about the Mother—and it was something we were all looking forward to. After the Opening Meditation, the lights were dimmed and we were all set to watch the video that was to be played for the next 60 minutes. The video was set in a narrative format, to give a feeling that the Mother was speaking about her own self. And this was interspersed with a voice used to depict Sri Aurobindo speaking about The Mother. It started off with The Mother’s early childhood days in Paris wherein The Mother speaks about her inner experiences as a child. This narration was accompanied by a good display of photographs ranging from quite well known ones to rather rare and uncommon ones. It was followed by the narration of The Mother’s days in Algeria, Japan and how she came to Pondicherry. The video offered us an insight into the initial days of the Ashram when it had just about a handful of Ashramites. It also had a few commentaries from the Ashramites themselves (Nirodbaran, Champaklal etc.) It was a very enriching experience to watch the video.

7 Oct 2012 : “Elements of Yoga” by Sri Aurobindo with The Mother’s Commenteries.

The chapter from “Elements of Yoga” (by Sri Aurobindo) that we read and discussed for the day was also the last in the series of readings on “Elements of Yoga”. After reading the chapter, we proceeded to read The Mother’s commentaries on “Elements of Yoga”. We discussed the question, “What happens if one eats meat?”

14 Oct 2012 : Talk on Vedic Yoga

The second Sunday of the month is when we have the Talk at the Centre. And this Sunday, Jared was to speak on the topic Vedic Yoga. After the Opening Meditation, we formed a nice big circle. The number of people participating was quite a big number. As always, we were given a handout which consisted of precious little nuggets from the book, picked out by Jared.

He started with a beautiful introduction about the Vedas and how the mantras in the Vedas, in actuality, have much deeper meanings and relevance than what they seem to appear on the surface. This was apparently done in order to prevent it from being misused. So, in order to reap the fullest benefit of the Vedas, one is supposed to read it with a higher level of Consciousness. Jared started off with the topic “Death and Immortality”. This sparked off an interesting discussion on the topic on what happens to the soul after Death and what is the importance of Immortality.

21 Oct 2012 : Talk on Vedic Yoga – Continuation with OM Choir

Jared summarised what was discussed in the previous week on Death and Immortality. The great sense that prevailed after reading the three quotes on The Divine was that the Divine was paradoxical, because all-pervading and immanent. How would one realise this Divine who was all of the Gods, all of Ideals, Liberator, the Knower, The Seer or “the White Steed in the front of our days who gallops towards the upper Ocean”? We then went on to read the quotes on The World Stair. We dwelt awhile on the quote, “As above, so below; as within, so without” and shared out thoughts on this. Consciousness is spread out in layers of different worlds – Sat-Chit-Ananda; Supermind; Pure Mind; Life-Force and Matter. The same layers are prevalent in man, we learnt, the same gradations existed, “from the mortal condition to the crowning immortality”. There is an invitation (because there is a possibility since the seed is inherent) for man to transcend the limited sphere of his mind and climb into “solar glories beyond mind”. Thus can man be “no longer this mental creature but a divine being.” With these uplifting words, we moved on to OM Choir. Everyone was ingathered, exploring vistas within quietly as the syllables were offered, one after the other, seeking after perfection. It was a most fulfilling day, as we concluded the session with Sunil-da’s music.

28 Oct 2012 : Meditation with ‘Savitri’ Video

The fourth Sunday of every month is when we have the ‘Savitri’ Reading Circle at the Centre. We were to read selected lines of Book 2 Canto 10—“The Kingdoms and Godheads of the Greater Mind”. Huta’s paintings act as a powerful visual aid and help us absorb bit by bit the gems of ‘Savitri’. After having watched the video, we formed a circle and read the selected lines a couple of times and shared our thoughts and ideas on the same.

- Preethi and Jayanthy

Along The Way……Reflections on the October 2012 Morning Walk

One pleasant morning we were at the right time in the right place “Gardens By the Bay”. It was a bright day, I could see the rising sun and it felt as if the morning rays were penetrating thorough my body. Everybody gathered at the visitors’ centre to do some warm up exercises followed by the chanting of the mantra “OM” as a group. Our walk through the garden then started. That was a real awesome time for everybody to chat and have a brisk walk at the same time. We went to Nobong Island, Dragonfly Bridge and had a good photo session. While walking over the bridge my mid was thinking about the rapid growth of Singapore and its transformation into a first world country. Then we walked through Fragile Forest, Super Tree Grove, Heritage Gardens, World of Plants, from there we reached back to the starting point, “Visitor Centre”. My heart felt wishes to Singapore and the people behind it for developing such a garden. I plan to spend half a day here in the near future just to capture nature’s beauty on my camera.

We had a warm welcome at Mr. and Mrs. Shashilal Kashyap’s house, which started with a peaceful meditation. We enjoyed the beautiful dance of their grandchildren. They were good performers. The October month birthdays are celebrated in a fantastic manner. We were served an extraordinary brunch at their place. Last but not the least, I would like to extend my hearty thanks to all my “Sri Aurobindo” family members for giving me such a memorable day.

- Lokesh.

Peace in the Vital

The result of the abolition of the desires.

- The Mother

Common Name: Orange jessamine, Satin-wood

Botanical Name: Murraya paniculata

Spiritual Name: Peace in the Vital

“He tore desire up from its bleeding roots

And offered to the gods the vacant place.”

- Sri Aurobindo in ‘Savitri’

From the Editor’s Desk

We encounter it in every sphere of life - around us, in our own day to day life, much of it abounds – in the pages of our newspapers, in news footages from across the world, colours of this prevail. When we flip the pages of the newspapers and keep ourselves glued to stories therein, when we listen to the radio with rapt attention, or watch a movie on the coloured screen and react in ways strange and unexpected or expected – we are indeed in touch with this aspect of our being responding to the like in the sources of information at our disposal. When we retract ourselves from outer sources and flip the pages of our own being, and scrutinize the hours, the minutes and the seconds, interacting with our own self and with others, we meet up with this force again, perhaps more intimately, this force which seems to animate us in multitudinous ways. Welcome to the World of the Vital. This is the theme of this month’s issue of Newsletter - The Vital.

What is the vital? Sri Aurobindo enlightens us:

“Vital… is a thing of desires, impulses, force-pushes, emotions, sensations, seekings after life-fulfillments, possession and enjoyment; these are its functions and its nature…”

A useful exercise in understanding the vital force in us would be to take a step back and cheerfully place ourselves under the hand-lens and even the microscope of self-observation and catch all the instances in us of desires, vehemence, emotions, sense of possession, a running after sense satisfaction, enjoyment, and seek after the origin of these instincts or impulsions and their aim. The next step would be to contemplate on the need of the Vital in the general scheme of things. Who or what does the Vital serve? There must be nothing fundamentally despicable about Force, including the Vital force. Force is needed for life, for the drama of life and force is also needed to move forward, to progress, to evolve. It becomes clear that there is more to the Vital than meets the eye.

What is the use of the Vital in “ordinary life” and also a life less ordinary? Sri Aurobindo’s statement here and The Mother’s that follow is worth a ponder, “In the ordinary life, people accept the vital movements, anger, desire, greed, sex, etc. as natural, allowable and legitimate things, part of the human nature.” The Mother says, “In ordinary life it is something very useful but when one decides to do yoga, to find the Divine, it becomes a little cumbersome.” (‘Our Many Selves’, compiled by A S Dalal, Sri Aurobindo Ashram Trust, 2001).

Is the Vital like a horde of wild horses that can lead one astray, especially one who aspires for a higher life, but leaves his vital untamed, and ‘natural’, as it were?

Then there is the proposition of keeping the Vital subservient to another force other than itself, such as to have the Mental being rule over the Vital and strap over it the leathers of restraint, control and discipline. However, in a life that seeks after a higher principle, then mere restraint and control may prove detrimental to that spiritual growth upwards. What is demanded, in Sri Aurobindo’s words, however is a “…conquest and complete mastery of these things…” and therefore, not a suppression or an effacement of the vital force.

Let’s read on and discover the secrets of the Vital within ourselves, its many gradations and how it can be utilised for a movement towards the High and Mighty, The Divine. There is a need to know the Vital intimately, to know its strengths and use to which it can be rightfully put for a work of collaboration with the Divine.


Invading the small sensitive flower of the throat

They brought their mute, unuttered resonances

To kindle the figures of a heavenly speech.

(Savitri, Book 3 Canto 4)

Desire, the troubled seed of things

(Savitri, Book 3 Canto 4)

He tore desire up from its bleeding roots

And offered to the gods the vacant place.

(Savitri, Book 3 Canto 5)

An abyss yawned suddenly beneath her heart.

A vast nameless fear dragged at her nerves

As drags a wild beast its half-slaughtered prey.

(Savitri, Book 7 Canto 6)

There crawled through every tense and aching nerve

Leaving behind its poignant quaking trail

A nameless and unutterable fear.

(Savitri, Book 2 Canto 7)

Question of the month

Q: Sweet Mother, is desire contagious ?

A: The Mother : Ah, yes, very contagious, my child .It is even much more contagious than illness. IF someone next to you has a desire immediately it enters you; and in fact it is mainly in that way that it is caught. It passes from one to another.. Terribly contagious, in such a powerful way that one is not even aware that it is a contagion. Suddenly one feels something springing up in oneself; someone has gently put it inside .Of course, one could say “Why aren’t people with desires Quarantined? Then we should have to quarantine everybody. (Mother laughs)

(‘Our Many Selves: Practical Yoga Psychology, Selections from the works of Sri Aurobindo and The Mother’ Compiled by A.S. Dalal, Sri Aurobindo Ashram Trust, Pondicherry)

Q: The desire one feels or the vibration one has on an empty stomach when one passes by food- is it physical or vital or mental ?

A: The Mother : It can be purely a physical response when there is hunger. The vital desire is something more. IT is there even when the food is not there and even when the stomach is full. Mental, of course, is a reflection of the vital desire in the mind.

M.P. Pandit : The real problem is to distinguish when it is a desire and when it is a need, a necessity. Here comes in the question of sincerity. I will tell you a story. An inmate of the Ashram once felt that his health was going down. And he wrote a letter to the Mother that for many years he had not asked for anything; he never took butter or cheese; but now that his health was low, could he have some butter every week ?And then at the end he said that if Mother thought it was not necessary for him, then he would not have it. As the letter was being read to the Mother, she said: Yes, give him what he wants. But when the last para was read, the Mother said :” Since, he has asked me tell him that I don’t think it is necessary.” Naturally after that, the sadhak changed his mind.

(‘Sat-Sang with M.P. Pandit’, Vol. 2, Dipti Publications, Sri Aurobindo Ashram Trust, Pondicherry)

Stepping Back

The emperor Augustus asked the Greek philosopher for a parting advice.

Sire”, answered the philosopher, “don’t take any important decision when you are angry or feel nervous, without having said all the letters of the alphabet.”

The same advice has been tendered by others in other anecdotes with variations like holding oneself until one counts to a hundred. The principle remains the same, i.e., not to act out of anger or fear.

In other words, any state of excitement is not a right state for taking any important decision. Broadly speaking, the decision may be one of two kinds. Either by way of giving a reply in words or by way of some action.

For the first category there is the famous instance from Lincoln’s life. A very high officer, peeved by another high ranking officer, wrote a stinking letter to the latter and showed it to Lincoln, the President. Lincoln said, “Nice. Now what are you going to do with it?”

“Why? I am going to send it.”

“No”, advised Lincoln, “tear it off.”

For the seeker of the higher life the distinction between the so-called important and unimportant matters is not there from the point of view of consciousness. The seeker has to speak and act always from not below a certain level of consciousness. For him, whenever there is anger or fear or excitement, what is recommended is stepping back.

To step back from the vibration of anger, fear, excitement, and the like, whenever it occurs, and to go within and get the equipoise, and only then to speak or act- that is the way for the seeker.

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

The Life force in the vital

“The Life-Force in the vital is the indispensable instrument for all action of the Divine Power on the material world and the physical nature. It is therefore only when this vital is transformed and made a pure and strong instrument of the Divine Shakti, that there can be a divine life. Then only can there be a successful transformation of the physical nature or a free perfected divine action on the external world; for with our present means any such action is impossible. That is why you feel that the vital movement gives all the energy one can need, that all things are possible by this energy and that you can get with it any experience you like, whether good or bad, of the ordinary or of the spiritual life, – and that also is why, when this energy comes, you feel power pervading the body-consciousness and its matter. As for the contact with the Mother in the vital and your sense of the fine, the magnificent experience it was, – that too is natural and right; for the vital, no less than the psychic and every other part of the being, has to feel the Divine Mother and give itself entirely to her.”

The Foundations of Psychological Theory in the Veda

Starting this month, we begin a series, “The Foundations of Psychological Theory in the Veda” by Mr. C. Krishnamurthy, member, Sri Aurobindo Society, Singapore. Readers of this Newsletter would be familiar with Mr. Krishnamurthy from his series “The Secret of the Veda: A First Attempt” which probed the origins and structure of the Vedas, and their interpretations through the ages. The series, which ran from March 2010 to December 2011 was very well received by a discerning readership.

This month we start with the first part of “The Foundations of Psychological Theory in the Veda”. In this part, Mr. Krishnamurthy explores the consistency of word-meanings in the Veda that give clues to the deeper psychological and spiritual symbolism they represent.

Sri Aurobindo begins Chapter IV of ‘The Secret of the Veda’ thus: “A hypothesis of the sense of Veda must always proceed, to be sure and sound, from a basis that clearly emerges in the language of the Veda itself. Even if the bulk of its substance be an arrangement of symbols and figures, the sense of which has to be discovered, yet there should be clear indications in the explicit language of the hymns which will guide us to that sense. Otherwise the symbols being themselves ambiguous, we shall be in danger of manufacturing a system out of our own imaginations and preferences instead of discovering the real purport of the figures chosen by the Riṣhīs. In that case, however ingenious and complete our theory, it is likely to be a building in the air, brilliant, but without reality or solidity....”

While pursuing ‘Indian Yoga for self-development’, Sri Aurobindo got the first contact with Vedic thought indirectly and as a surprise. During this stage, though his intent was not in finding the meanings of the mantrās, the secret that lay hidden in the Veda stood revealed to him. Then with this prompt, he went into deeper pursuits of the hymns, traditional knowledge, ancient usages and the Shastrās. He thus broke the seal over the age-old secret embedded in the language of the Vedas.

The following are some of the important points he determined during the process of development of his own psychological theory.

1. To bring out a higher sense of the Veda, it is necessary to determine whether sufficient psychological notions exist in the clear language of the hymns, apart from just figures and symbols.

2. Find from the internal evidence of the Sūkthās, the interpretation of each symbol and image and the right psychological function of each of the Gods.

3. For each of the fixed terms of the Veda, a sound psychological justification fitting naturally into the context must be found. This is to ensure a sense that is firm and without fluctuation.

4. Language of the hymns is fixed, invariable, carefully preserved and scrupulously respected. If one infers that there are incoherence and uncertainty in the interpretation, then Vedic Riṣhīs must have used a language that is free, variable, shifting and uncertain. However the hymns, on their very face bear exactly the contrary testimony. This clearly proves that the problem lies with the interpreter, who has failed to discover the appropriate relations.

5. Finally it is necessary to show by a translation of the hymns that the interpretations that were already fixed must fulfil the following conditions:

a. Fit in naturally and easily in whatever context.

b. Illuminate what seemed obscure and create intelligible and clear coherence, where there seemed to be only confusion.

c. Hymns in their entirety, gives a clear and connected sense, not only by showing logical succession of related thoughts but also in the verses to follow thereafter.

d. Result as a whole is profound, consistent and contain antique body of doctrines.

To continue in Sri Aurobindo’s own words “.......then our hypothesis will have a right to stand besides others, to challenge them where they contradict it or to complete them where they are consistent with its findings. Nor will the probability of our hypothesis be lessened, but rather its validity confirmed if it be found that the body of ideas and doctrines thus revealed in the Veda are a more antique form of subsequent Indian thought and religious experience, the natural parent of Vedānta and Purāna.”

Genesis of Sri Aurobindo’s theory: He developed his own hypothesis containing appropriate reasons with conviction, purely for the benefit of those who followed through his writings and philosophy. Apart from giving out the clues he himself received, the path and its principal turnings, he has also clearly given the milestones achieved and solutions to overcome problems at various cross-roads.

1. Before reading the Veda, he was none the different from majority of educated Indians. For them, the Upanishads were the most ancient source of Indian thought and religion and the Rig Veda in its modern translations was only an important document of Indian national history, seldom carrying any value for a living spiritual experience.

2. The figures of three female energies, Ila, Saraswati and Sarama that were revealed to him, represented faculties of the intuitive reason - ‘revelation, inspiration and intuition’. It was at this stage that he got partial clues more towards identity of name rather than identity of the symbol.

3. Certainly his stay in South India helped him turn deeply towards the Veda, especially after two important observations. Through these, he received a serious shock to his earlier belief regarding the racial division between Northern Aryans and Southern Dravidians. Firstly, he did not find any difference between the physical appearance of Aryans and Dravidians. The faces and features of Southerners, be they Brahmins or from all other castes and classes, matched perfectly with those in the Northern States such as Maharashtra, Gujarat etc. Secondly, there was no expected incompatibility between the Northern Sanskritic and the Southern non-Sanskritic tongues.

4. Initially for him, the Tamil language appeared totally different to the Sanskrit form and character. However after deeper study and scrutiny, he found their commonality and was well guided by words or families of words. In fact through Tamil, he could even establish new relations between Sanskrit and Latin and also occasionally between Greek and Sanskrit. Beyond obtaining suggestion for the connection, it also proved the missing link in a family of connected words. It was through this Dravidian Tamil, he perceived the development of the Aryan tongues. Thus with certainty he could see the original connection between the Dravidian and Aryan tongues. This could only suggest that the two divergent families were derived from one lost primitive tongue.

5. The following quote from Sri Aurobindo summarises clearly as to how he was driven into looking up the Veda in the original. “It was, therefore, with a double interest that for the first time I took up the Veda in the original, though without any immediate intention of a close or serious study. It did not take long to see that the Vedic indications of a racial division between Aryans and Dasyus and the identification of the latter with the indigenous Indians were of a far flimsier character than I had supposed. But far more interesting to me was the discovery of a considerable body of profound psychological thought and experience lying neglected in these ancient hymns. And the importance of this element increased in my eyes when I found, first, that the mantrās of the Veda illuminated with a clear and exact light psychological experiences either in European psychology or in the teachings of Yoga or of Vedanta, so far as I was acquainted with them, and, secondly, that they shed light on obscure passages and ideas of the Upanishads to which, previously, I could attach no exact meaning and gave at the same time a new sense to much in the Puraṇas”.

6. Sri Aurobindo considered himself fortunate for his ignorance of Ṣāyana’s commentary. Ṣāyana has always given variable significances to the same words. To deliberately make the interpretation ritualistic, he removed all fine shades and distinctions between words and gave their vaguest general significance. This could have easily prevented Sri Aurobindo in freely attributing natural and psychological significance to many ordinary and current words of the Veda.

In total contrast, Sri Aurobindo showed great importance to fix and preserve the right shade of meaning. He gave precise association for different words, however close they may be in their general sense. Also in the verbal combination of words, he did not believe that the Vedic Ṛishis used words indiscriminately, without feeling their proper associations and exact force.

A few examples to show the differences:

Word Sri Aurobindo Ṣayana

dhi “ thought ” or “ understanding ” thought , prayer , action, food etc.,

ṛtam “ truth ” truth, sacrifice, water etc.,

Kratu “ wisdom in action ” or “ will with wisdom” wisdom, sacrificial ritual etc.,

Ketu “play of inner knowledge that illumines” “illumination”, rays of light to objective world

It is clear that Ṣāyana kept the options for the meaning of the words in such a way that he can bring them in as he wanted to make the sense ritualistic.

Sri Aurobindo’s approach was quite straightforward, not departing from simple and naturalistic sense of words or clauses. When this rule was applied, he found that not merely the separate verses but also the entire passages came into evidence. This made the whole character quite sound and the scripture presented the richest golden thought and the spiritual experience continuous.

Apart from giving a wealth of psychological significance to the context, the Veda has another perspective too. It is possible to give either an external and materialistic value or an internal and psychological one based on our conception.


• rāye, rayi, rādhas, ratna : may mean either a) material prosperity and riches applied to objective world or b) internal facility and plenitude as applied to subjective world. The word rāye to mean ‘spiritual facility’ is used in the Upanishads (from hymns imported from the Rig Veda) but the translators of Rig Veda have given it only a materialistic meaning.

• dhana, vāja, poṣa: may mean either a) objective wealth, plenty, increase of all external possessions or b) plenitude and growth in the spiritual life of the individual. ‘vāja’ which occurs frequently in a context in which every other word has a psychological significance. If this is translated as ‘physical plenty’ it will be incoherent and the homogeneity and totality of thought would be completely lost.

6. According to Sri Aurobindo, for the transformation to be complete one condition is necessary where we admit the symbolic character of the Vedic sacrifice. In the ‘Bhagavad Gita’ the word ‘yajña (generally translated as sacrifice) is used in a symbolic sense for all action, be it internal or external and consecrated to the gods or Supreme. This raises the question, whether such symbolic use of the word was inherent in the Vedic idea of sacrifice or was it born of a later philosophical intellectualism?

(to be continued)

- C. Krishnamurthy (

August-September Sunday Activities at Centre – A glimpse

1 September 2012: “Elements of Yoga” by Sri Aurobindo (Difficulties and Problems)

This was the first Saturday of the month, and according to our new schedule, we were to read the book “Elements of Yoga” by Sri Aurobindo. The chapter for the day was “Difficulties and Problems”. We all have days and times of our life when we think we are going through a rough patch and get completely bogged down by difficulties and problems, be it in our day-to-day activities or in our effort to tread the path to the Divine. This chapter was precisely about all that and more. It had honest open questions about why the Sadhak faces more and more difficulties while making his/her sincere attempt to remain unperturbed by the trivial problems of the outside world. While reading the chapter aloud, we realize that Sri Aurobindo says that it is nothing but natural to feel so, and that it is an inevitable part of Sadhana. After that we used the “Commentaries on Elements of Yoga” by the Mother as a guide to help us understand it better. Absorbing all the wise words on Difficulties and Problems, we sat for a Closing Meditation.

9 September 2012: Talk on The Synthesis of Yoga

We, at the Singapore Centre, have a nice new inclusion to our list of monthly activities at the Centre. We are fortunate to have Jared, who has come forward with a list of topics that he would like to speak on, every month on the second Sunday, at the Centre. Today’s talk was a step-up on the talk we had the previous month. We were to have an interesting continuation to the talk on The Synthesis of Yoga. As always, Jared had meticulously formulated a very nice handout which presented to us the precious gems from the book in such a succinct fashion. He was to speak on “Karma Yoga”. He started off with a very interesting topic: The Works of Knowledge, wherein he spoke about how any and every activity of knowledge that seeks after or expresses Truth is a complete offering. He gave very interesting examples of what really is true Divine Work and how we can transform any activity of ours into a Divine activity. Making our own deductions and interpretations of the talk is one thing. But in discussing all this with the others present there is a great possibility of having a beautiful blend of the various hues that everyone brings in. Such is the power of communication. As expected, this sparked off a very interesting discussion, so much so, that we had to carry forward some part of the Talk to the following Sunday.

16 September 2012 : Continuation of Talk on The Synthesis of Yoga followed by OM Choir

As mentioned earlier, the flow of the Talk that took place last Sunday was so beautiful that it would be unjust to leave it at that abruptly. So the first part of today’s session was about giving it a nice gentle end. Jared started off with a briefing of what was covered the previous Sunday, for the benefit of others who had just joined in. We started with the topic “The Works of Love”. It was about the possibility of turning life itself into an act of adoration to the Spirit. We had some knowledgeable participants who quoted the original saying from the Gita. The eclectic mix of the members we are blessed with makes this possible. After a small discussion, we formed a circle for the OM choir around a candle lit gloriously. We had a quick voice exercise session and then began offering our best OMs in a group. I can never do justice to the wave of calm that overpowers us by merely describing it in words.

23 September 2012:Meditation with Savitri Video

The fourth Sunday of every month is when we have the Savitri Reading Circle at the Centre. We were to read selected lines of Book 2 Canto 10—“The Kingdoms and Godheads of the Little Mind”. The lines were essentially about the 3 types of minds: firstly, the one that thinks of only the tangible things in the world, secondly, the one with a scientific bent of mind which wants to measure anything and everything and lastly, the one, which goes beyond the first two stages and thinks about things above all this. Each of us, at different points of time, even during the course of a single day, or even as small a window as an hour, keep shifting from one stage of mind to the other. The trick lies in acknowledging it and making an effort to keep that under control. Huta’s pictures, as always, are so descriptive in nature that it feels like she is almost bringing the lines of Sri Aurobindo to life in your mind’s eyes. Reflecting on these lines, we ended that day’s session with a good discussion and the Closing Meditation.


Along The Way……Reflections on the September 2012 Morning Walk

It was my first time at the Singapore Centre, and it was a very pleasant feeling to be there. I had heard so much about the Centre and the monthly walks in the last couple of years from my friends, Rama and Jayanthy as well as Sharadha and Ganesh, from the Bangalore Centre, and of late, from my daughter, Preethi too. So here I was, finally, all eager and all set for my first time at the monthly walk. The venue for the walk this month was Bedok Reservoir. Everyone gathered at the meeting point, which happened to be near a nice, big swimming pool. We started with some warm-up exercises after which we chanted OM in a group. The little ones who were present there chanted the Students’ prayer, in their very own charming manner. Then we all started walking around the reservoir. It was a bright and sunny day and the water in the vast reservoir was sparkling and had beautiful big trees all around it. It was very nice to see everyone walking briskly and chatting with one another on the way. I realized it is one thing to hear about it and a totally different thing to experience it. There was so much cheer and happiness around. I felt like I was part of one big family. In my one month’s stay in Singapore, I had met many of the members of the Centre on Sundays. And this was a momentous occasion where everyone came together to participate in the monthly walk. It was quite a long walk, spanning over 6km. Once we finished one full round around the reservoir, we started walking towards our hosts’, Mr. and Mrs. Lok’s house.

They gave us a nice warm welcome; we all sat down for the Opening Meditation. After this, the names of people who were going to celebrate their birthdays and wedding anniversaries in the month of September were announced. I thought this was a wonderful idea where everyone gathered there could heartily wish and pray for the best for the people celebrating their birthdays that month. After the announcements, we had a closing meditation and then we were all treated to a lovely sumptuous Chinese vegetarian meal, thanks to our pleasant hosts. I felt very fortunate to be part of this walk. Hope to be back soon!

- Amudha

Physical Thoroughness

The body takes a lively interest in life an action.

- The Mother

Common Name: Petunia

Botanical Name: Petunia X hybrida

Spiritual Name: Physical Thoroughness

From the Editor's desk

The Olympic Games are always a welcome feature, an occurrence vibrant, stimulating, informative, awe-inspiring. This event dots our calendar roughly twice in a decade or precisely, once every 4 years. Its origin dates back to 776 B.C., according to written records but it is believed generally to have been held Greece several centuries before the recorded 776 B.C., featuring mainly foot races and later on including others, starting with wrestling and pentathlon. The recently concluded Olympic 2012 featured competitions in 28 Olympic Sports which branched into 300 events with 205 nations taking part, throwing light on human artistry, mastery and excellence; It once again brought under the scrutiny of the huge floodlights of the stadium the limits to which the supposedly frail human frame could be pushed to and of course, what it had taken for that prowess displayed in many an athlete in the arena. From the East End of London reached the living rooms of many homes and public places all around the world, the song of praise of the physical body and its beauty and all the feats within its range. The scrutiny on physical culture always gets a boost, during the Olympic Games.

To become an athlete is the first steps towards becoming a true man. These words by The Mother keep ringing in the ears. And who is an athlete? Is he or she not an athlete who has mastered his or her body to an extent that reads “near perfection” in a bodily skill and ability? The Mother herself gives the method and the measure:

consciousness and control

discipline and mastery

Some mere words but what they hold in them! Even a moment of contemplation on these words indicate the mammoth task of working with one’s nature, a working with one’s habits, established thought patterns, one’s level of consciousness as to how one’s physical being functions, at each moment and so too one’s vital with all its desires and pulls and the movements of the mental nature, not devoid of its tricks and suggestions to follow the whims and fancies of the vital pulls. But then, once we see and become aware of these and also see and become aware that there must be awaiting for these elements of nature another fate more luminous, then we manage to turn around a clock within. To subject the physical being, together with the vital and mental, to the transforming rays of the Psychic Being is a way The Mother suggests, in a question and answer session. The habits are scrutinised, teased and found their knotted beginnings and new habits are worked in towards another more conscious gain, the vital puts her backing behind some high motive we keep for the being and provide support with her energy and force, and discipline sets in, with determination and a focussed mind. Then with continued movement in this direction, something called mastery comes in. What is this mastery? Mastery indicates some amount of flair, fluency, efficiency, a fine execution of a move, an action, a string of actions. These could be in any field accessible to the human, namely, sports, literacy, speech, culinary, art and craft and the thousand and thousand more areas of human scope.

This perfecting of the physical being is needed in order to express the divine principal more and more fully and wholly, in a body of beauty and suppleness and strength, a conscious body that is open to the Light. What does this spell for us, in our normal day to day existence? What does our body mean to us? What is its state now? How more could it be tuned and turned into an entity of Light through which a life of sadhana in whatever measure could be lived, and expressed the Divine Law?

Let us contemplate on this age old maxim:

Sarīram khalu dharmasādhanam