Guiding Light of The Month

One must be always vigilant, attentive to the least call, so as not to be asleep or inert when Thou givest the signal for action, whether with the mind, the feelings or the body. - The Mother

Supramentalized Wealth


Wealth placed at the service of the Divine.

- The Mother

Common Name: Water lily
Botanical Name: Nymphaea
Spiritual Name: Supramentalized Wealth

From the Editor’s Desk

Sri Aurobindo describes the Power of Mahalakshmi as that which embodies an abundance of sweetness, harmonies, grace, charm and tenderness; a Power that poses an irresistible attraction to the heart that looks upon her, even for a fleeting second. It is an aspect of this Power of Mahalakshmi that we have included here as our theme for the month of March -Money or Material Wealth.

How does one view money which is in one’s hands? What is this money used for? Does it acquire for one all of one’s heart’s desires? Does it make one feel powerful? Does it assure one of security? Is it one which helps one get by in life, to live, to survive? Is the money used for a life consciously planned? Is part of the money one acquires, besides being used to ensure one’s survival, channeled into nobler ends, for the realization of higher ideals? Or is this money used integrally for a life given to higher aims, without any reservation?

If we think simply enough through the maze of events that is shaping the unfolding saga of financial crisis around the world, one will find that at the root of the whole issue of these failing financial structures (which has inevitably thrown the world into chaos many times over), is individual psychology at work feeding the collective psychology. At the root of the problem could well be an untamed ego and greed and an unparalleled urge for power and an exaggerated hunger for security – all forces from the lower nature.

If at some point, the kind of relationship we have with money thus far gives rise to a sense of disgust, a sense of incompleteness, a sense of discomfort as if one is missing something very important in life while in pursuit of this power of wealth, then it is time one puts oneself on the dock of self-examination and get to the root of the problem in one’s own life.

Are there amongst us those who are averse to the touch of money and would rather push it away for all the trouble the money power is foreseen to bring? If so, then too it is time to climb that dock of self-examination. The reason for this aversion though opposite to the earlier case of a fervent desire for money, stems from the same root of desire, this time the desire to be not acquainted with money.

In a timeless piece of writing, The Mother, Sri Aurobindo has succinctly referred to money power as the rightful possession of Mahalakshmi, and those with money are its custodians and not possessors; that the money power can serve the adverse forces for Asuric activities, prolonging the reign of the ego or it could serve the divine purpose, used for a spiritual cause and life on earth.

He stresses that it is timely that money is seized from the asuric forces and re-directed to the Divine, for divine works. Inevitably, we seem to be at the cross roads. Only, it seems, we can be instrumental in making a difference; in putting the money force at the service of The Divine.

When we switch our mental framework even a little, to start with, to think of ourselves as custodians of money force, rather than its possessors, and live out this thought into an attitude, and an action, a significant change will inevitably come about in the world scenario. All will depend once again on our aim, our highest aim in life, and accordingly, money will find its place in our own and collective lives.

Savitri

A heavenlier passion shall upheave men’s lives,
Their mind shall share in the ineffable gleam,
Their heart shall feel the ecstasy and the fire,
Earth’s bodies shall be conscious of a soul;
Mortality’s bond-slaves shall unloose their bonds,
Mere men into spiritual beings grow
And see awake the dumb divinity.
Intuitive beams shall touch the nature’s peaks,
A revelation stir in nature’s depths;
The Truth shall be the leader of their lives,
Truth shall dictate their thought and speech and act,
They shall feel themselves lifted nearer to the sky,
As if a little lower than the gods.

(Savitri, Book 11 Canto 1)

Question of the month

Q: Divine Mother, could we have a message from you to pass along to those in the United States who may be ready to aid in the fund-raising work we are doing?

A: The Mother: Money is not meant to make money; money is meant to make the earth ready for the New Creation.


(‘CWM, Volume 13’, Sri Aurobindo Ashram Trust, 1980, Sri Aurobindo Ashram, Pondicherry)


”You must neither turn with an ascetic shrinking from the money power, the means it gives and the object it brings, nor cherish a rajasic attachment to them or a spirit of enslaving self-indulgence in their gratifications.

Regard wealth simply as a power to be won back for the Mother and placed at her service.

All wealth belongs to the Divine and those who hold it are trustees, not possessors. It is with them today, tomorrow it may be elsewhere. All depends on the way they discharge their trust while it is with them, in what spirit, with what consciousness in their use of it, to what purpose.

In your personal use of money look on all you have or get or bring as the Mother's. Make no demand but accept what you receive from her and use it for the purposes for which it is given to you. Be entirely selfless, entirely scrupulous, exact, careful in detail, a good trustee; always consider that it is her possessions and not your own that you are handling.

On the other hand, what you receive for Her, lay religiously before Her; turn nothing to your own or anybody else's purpose.”

The Mother on Money

In 1953, as Dyuman recalls it, a Bombay firm which had a branch in Pondicherry wanted to close their shop here. The Mother took it with its entire stock, called Dahyabhai, a disciple in Bombay, to take charge of this shop and gave definite instructions about every detail of its working and management. That was the beginning of Honesty Society. In November-December 1960, a time of acute scarcity, the Honesty Society was among the dealers entrusted by the Government with the sale of rice at fair price, and rendered meritorious service to the town-community.

It was the Mother's view that although, like politics, money too perversely resisted any influence that aimed at transforming its ends and means, both had sooner or later to be brought under supramental action. The power of money was in the hands or under the control of the forces and beings of the vital world that were using the power against the cause of the Truth and the interests of the Divine. Sri Aurobindo too had said that money was the visible sign of a universal force which, although it was being exploited and put to evil uses by the Asuric forces, must be reconquered for the Divine to whom alone it belonged and should be used "divinely for the divine life". Should there be a single victory for the Divine somewhere, it would have its reverberations elsewhere, and ultimately everywhere. The problem was to make a decisive start and that was what the Mother did in the Ashram itself and through some of her disciples. In such alliance with the Divine, money could achieve wonders, increase wealth, improve distribution, and bring about a general diffusion of prosperity and happiness. In explanation of her own business initiatives the' Mother said:

"First of all, from the financial point of view, the principle on which our action is based is the following: money is not meant to make money. This idea... is a falsehood and a perversion.

Money is meant to increase the wealth, the prosperity and the productiveness of a group, a country or, better, of the whole earth.... And like all forces and all powers, it is by movement and circulation that it grows and increases its power, not by accumulation and stagnation.

What we are attempting here is to prove to the world, by giving it a concrete example, that by inner psychological realisation and outer organisation a world can be created where most of the causes of human misery will be abolished."

On 15 September 1960, the Mother inaugurated the New Horizon Sugar Mills set up by Laljibhai Hindocha, a Gujarati businessman with large business holdings in East Africa who - like his sister "Huta" - had come under the Mother's influence since the mid-fifties. When he asked the Mother's permission for buying up the Savana Mills in Pondicherry, she replied, "No, start a sugar factory instead." And when he argued about it, she said:

“Have faith in the Divine, and everything will be all right.... This will be my yoga in the material world and I want you to do it.”

He had received the establishment license from the Government of India on 24 November 1956 and within six months, with the cooperation of the cane-growers, he brought 6,500 acres under cultivation. The construction of the factory was taken up in November 1959. The Mother christened the factory "The Sacrur Sugar Factory", deriving the name Sacrur from the Tamil word for sugar and combining it with Ariyur, the name of the village where the factory was situated.

On 9 December 1960, the Mother opened the New Horizon Stainless Steel Factory. "These and other industrial and commercial units, whether run by her disciples or by the Ashram itself, were meant to demonstrate that the spiritual could be infused into the material, that Yoga could purify business operations and make them efficient. Acknowledging the infinite gain accruing from a total dependence on the Divine, Laljibhai is reported to have said, "My feeling is that the Mother puts a force which does everything, breaking all obstacles. One must have faith - faith in the Divine's way of working, faith which draws a spontaneous flow of Grace."

This could be illustrated further by a reference to what happened, some years later, when Manibhai Patel, another of the Mother's disciples, wanted to install the factory for his "Aurofood Products" near Pondicherry. The machinery ordered arrived at Pondicherry port aboard a Greek ship. The cranes available at the port had each a capacity of only 3 tons whereas the biggest machine to be unloaded weighed 6 tons. Inspite of the ship's captain being sceptical of its feasibility, Udar Pinto and Manibhai decided to use two cranes working in tandem. What happened next was thus recorded by Udar: "The cranes slowly lifted up the box till it came to the level of the quai-deck and then something happened and both the cranes tipped over. The cranesmen jumped out of the cranes and the whole box and the two cranes were falling into the sea. It would have been a major accident involving the loss of 20 boatmen, the boats, the machine and the two cranes. But, in falling over, the crane jibs swung inwards and the box came over the deck and landed on it as on a cushion. Both the cranes then came back upright again. At that time we came back from our lunch and found a great state of consternation and panic and then relief."

The Mother had said that the machinery could be landed at Pondicherry, rather than at Madras and then brought by road; and with implicit faith in her word further action had been taken - even in defiance of logic and common sense. Here was an instance of Faith really moving mountains!

(K.R. Srinivasa Iyengar in ‘On The Mother’, Chapter 50, ‘Wings of Exapnsion’, Sri Aurobindo Ashram Trust, Pondicherry)

The Descent of Knowledge in Savitri – Part Two (continued from February 2012)

Author’s Note: In Part Two, we continue to follow Aswapathi's progress through the undiscovered “inner countries” of consciousness. He explores the subtle physical plane and endures the turbulence of the Kingdoms of Life and the flat plains and high peaks of the Mind. In his pursuit of absolute knowledge he descends even into the nether darkness, from which he is projected suddenly into the paradise of the Gods. As his being widens with each new discovery, his longing for “our sweet and mighty Mother” increases and urges him on towards the surrender of his entire being to Her.

Part 1

The opening cantos of ‘Savitri, The Book of Beginnings’, contain some of the most beautiful poetry ever written in English, created by the need to put an inexpressible experience into words. The beauty of the language points to something wonderful that eludes our grasp like a dream half-remembered on waking, especially when the subject is Savitri herself as the embodiment of a spiritual Truth. A warm radiance emanates from the passages where Sri Aurobindo describes the glory of the natural world, pointing to the unique importance of the Earth in the cosmic scheme, for Man is the chosen vehicle of a great evolutionary leap culminating in the establishment of a divine Life on Earth. Aswapati undergoes a transformation which enables him to see and experience the cosmic forces at work. He feels a oneness with everything encountered on his path, the first manifestation of a new kind of knowledge, a promise of power to come - knowledge by identity. But human aspiration alone cannot take Aswapati into the inner countries, a sanction is needed from the heights:

His being towered into pathless heights,
Naked of its vesture of humanity.
As thus it rose, to meet him bare and pure
A srong Descent leapt down. A Might, a Flame.
A beauty half-visible with deathless eyes,
A violent ecstasy, a sweetness dire,
Enveloped him with its stupendous limbs
And penetrated nerve and heart and brain
That thrilled and fainted with the epiphany:
His nature shuddered in the Unknown's grasp.
In a moment shorter than Death, longer than Time
By a power more ruthless than Love, happier than Heaven,
Taken sovereignly into eternal arms,
Haled and coerced by a stark absolute bliss,
In a whirlwind circuit of delight and force
Hurried into unimaginable depths,
Upbourne into immeasurable heights,
It was torn out from its mortality
And underwent a new and bourneless change.

Thus it was that Aswapati “broke into another space and time”. Nearest to Earth in the hierarchy of planes is the world of subtle matter, where Knowledge sleeps in the perfection of form. It is a world of extraordinary beauty:

Whatever is here of visible charm and grace
Finds there its faultless and immortal lines;
All that is beautiful here is there divine.

That perfect world of crystal air is in many ways the template for our fallen Earth, but its very fixity, shutting out the possibility of error, also shuts out “the shadows of the immeasurable” and in this closed space Knowledge cannot build a house for limitless mind:

Assigned as force to a bound corner Mind
Attached to the safe paucity of her room,
She did her little works and played and slept
And thought not of a greater work undone.

The Seeker does not linger here. In his search for “hidden powers and other states” he will pass through the kingdoms of life and mind and even go down into the dark nether world of falsehood where true knowledge is twisted and deformed to serve the ends of hostile and non-human agencies. This darkness is presented in ‘Savitri’ as a terrible basement of the house of Life, the prototype of all the hells that Man has imagined or created.

The Kingdom of Life opens to him in all its turbulence and unrestrained creative power. There he encounters the archetypal energies and forces that have shaped the evolution of the Earth, and enters into other worlds bordering our own. The whole history of life on Earth is displayed to his witness eye; he understands the immense creative power of thought and its role; he uncovers the mystery of the fall of Life from its divine origin. Life was not meant to be a vale of tears, it was created to express an infinite delight and joy:
Smiling like a new-born child at love and hope,
In her nature housing the Immortal's power,
In her bosom bearing the eternal Will,
No guide she needed but her luminous heart:
No fall debased the godhead of her steps,
No alien Night had come to blind her eyes.

How then had mortal Life fallen under the influence of an alien Night? How had suffering and death found their way into the divine plan? In his need to know, Aswapati probes the depths of hell. Armed only with the light of his own divine soul, he is confronted by the dreadful inhabitants of that darkness: “Vast minds and lives without a spirit within”. He endures the attack of weapons designed to bring about an inner death more radical than physical mortality - the separation of life and mind from the soul:

Captured and trailed in Falsehood's lethal net
And often strangled in the noose of grief,
Or cast in the grim morass of swallowing doubt
Or shut into pits of error and despair,
He drank her poison draughts till none was left.
In a world where neither hope nor joy could come
The ordeal he suffered of evil's absolute reign
Yet kept intact his spirit's radiant truth.

Suddenly from the impenetrable blackness there comes a marvellous release: Aswapati understands the “secret key of Nature's change” - the darkness is revealed as a lie, having no right of existence in an ultimate Reality. Falsehood is the shadow cast by the divine freedom to exhaust all possibilities of existence, and by bringing the light of Truth down into those depths the terrible illusion is dispelled: ''Night opened and vanished like a gulf of dream''. Like Shiva, he has drained the ocean of poison and now he awakens as from a nightmare, opening his eyes to a paradise, an Overmind kingdom of the gods, where he tastes an immortal bliss that generates the worlds. This too must be left behind, for ahead the stair still climbs upwards and he must follow it until his work is done and the highest Knowledge gained. In the far distance, “large lucent realms of Mind from stillness shone.”

Aswapati finds himself in a borderland, where he is a witness to the dawning of knowledge and the slow emergence of Mind in Nature and evolving Man. He follows the progress of the instruments devised by Nature in those parts, the “dwarf three-bodied trilogy” of a limited power of thought, a chaotic unrestrained intelligence driven by desire and greed, and finally reason. This latest instrument of Knowledge, reason, attempts in vain to master and codify into ''word-webs of abstract thought'' the tumultuous phenomena of life. In this region of the mind-plane, which in many ways resembles our own world, there is hardly room for the greater Knowledge to come down:

There comes no breaking of the walls of Mind,
There leaps no flash of absolute power,
There dawns no light of heavenly certitude.
A million faces wears her knowledge here
And every face is turbanned with a doubt.

Something is always missing, something half glimpsed in the pauses of thought, or felt in the heart's deep core. Aswapati continues to search for this Truth that has no name, but always it eludes him. Even on the loftiest summits of the Self of Mind, where he first discovers the divine origin of thought, he finds a corrosive doubt that “smote at the very roots of thought and sense”. He prepares to put behind him these planes of Mind: “Our sweet and mighty Mother was not there”. He will find Her at last in the Soul of the World:

At the beginning of each far-spread plane
Pervading with her power the cosmic suns
She reigns, inspirer of its multiple works
And thinker of the symbol of its scene.
Above them all she stands supporting all,
The sole omnipotent Goddess ever-veiled
Of whom the world is the inscrutable mask;
The ages are the footfalls of her tread,
Their happenings the figure of her thoughts,
And all creation is her endless act.
His spirit was made a vessel of her force;
Mute in the fathomless passion of his will
He outstretched to her his folded hands of prayer.

Aswapati has reached the first goal of yoga, a vision of the Divine Mother to whom he surrenders his whole heart and mind. The long pilgrimage is almost over, the mission soon to be accomplished. He enters at last the Kingdom of the Greater Knowledge as one who has become the voice of aspiring Earth, in the full consciousness of his role as the human instrument of the Mother. He has passed the limits of human thought and has earned the right to access not only the most luminous heights of the plane of Knowledge, but also, as a corollary to this right, to unseal the hidden powers of Knowledge within his own soul:

His privilege regained of shadowless sight
The Thinker entered the immortals' air
And drank again his pure and mighty source.
Immutable in rhythmic calm and joy
He saw, sovereignly free in limitless light
The unfallen planes, the thought-created worlds
Where Knowledge is the leader of the act
And Matter is of thinking substance made.....

On the summits of this supreme Knowledge-world, he finds the sovereign Kings of Thought ''surveying the enormous work of time”. All knowledge that reaches us emanates from this ultimate source:

A great all-ruling consciousness is there
And Mind unwittingly serves a higher Power;
It is a channel, not the source of all.
The cosmos is no accident in Time;
There is a meaning in each play of Chance,
There is a freedom in each face of Fate.
A wisdom knows and guides the mysteried world;
A Truth-gaze shapes its beings and events;
A word self- born upon creation's heights,
Voice of the eternal in the temporal spheres,
Prophet of the seeings of the Absolute,
Sows the Idea's significance in Form
And from that seed the growths of Time arise”
Glimpses of the supramental plane dawn upon his sight; and he feels himself ''an equal of the first creator seers'' - the Rishis of Vedic times. The mystery of the descent of Knowledge has been opened to him; he has reached the end of all that can be known. Knowledge, no longer veiled, is revealed in an original plenitude of Oneness with the divine Love:

Here came the thought that passes beyond Thought,
Here the still voice which our listening cannot hear,
The Knowledge by which the Knower is the Known,
The Love in which Beloved and Lover are one.

But there is more to be done, for now Love imposes its own claim upon his heart, and his destiny calls him towards a supreme sacrifice of all that he has gained:

On a dizzy verge where all disguises fail
And human mind must abdicate in Light
Or die like a moth in the naked blaze of Truth,
He stood compelled to a tremendous choice.
All he had been and all towards which he grew
Must now be left behind or else transform
Into a self of That which has no name.

He can know all things created by identity with them, but the self-existent Divine “the One by whom all live, who lives by none” he cannot know while any remnant of separate self remains. At this critical point in the poem we recall the luminous opening lines of Sri Aurobindo's ‘The Mother’:

“There are two powers that alone can effect in their conjunction the great and difficult thing which is the aim of our endeavour, a fixed and unfailing aspiration that calls from below and a supreme Grace from above that answers. But the supreme Grace will act only in the conditions of the Light and the Truth; it will not act in conditions laid upon it by the Falsehood and the Ignorance. For if it were to yield to the demands of the falsehood, it would defeat its own purpose.”

In Aswapati the conditions have been fulfilled by his final surrender of all that he is to the Mother. He has passed unscathed through the ordeal of the descent into Night; he has torn away the last veil of Ignorance. A supreme Grace answers his appeal and the Mother reveals her face. Although in her presence all the knowledge he has gained seems insignificant, still the prayer he has carried in his heart for so long can be spoken: “Mission to earth some living form of Thee”.

But now his being was too wide for self;
His heart's demand had grown immeasurable:
His single freedom could not satisfy,
Her light, her bliss he asked for earth and men.
But vain are human life and human love
To break earth's seal of ignorance and death;
His nature's might seemed now an infants grasp;
Heaven is too high for outstretched hands to seize.
This light comes not by struggle or by thought;
In the mind's silence the transcendent acts
And the hushed heart hears the unuttered word.
A vast surrender was his only strength.
A power that lives upon the heights must act...”
All the wisdom that knowledge can bring is summed up in these last five lines. Yet the question, How do I know? With which this enquiry started, has not yet been fully answered. We have discovered only that the real answer is not to be found by any process of thought or feeling: both mind and heart must fall silent.

(to be continued)
- Sonia Dyne

The Titanic Grip of Money-Power

“The Money-power belongs to a world which was created deformed... it belongs to the vital and material worlds. And so at all times, always it was under the control of the Asuric forces; and what must be done is precisely to reconquer it from the Asuric forces."

"Money is the visible sign of a universal force, and this force in its manifestation on earth works on the vital and physical planes and is indispensable to the fullness of the outer life. In its origin and its true action it belongs to the Divine. But like other powers of the Divine it is delegated here and in the ignorance of the lower Nature can be usurped for the uses of the ego or held by Asuric influences and perverted to their purpose."

- The Mother

We are in the midst of a great upheaval in our times. Entire firms, institutions and republics are being re-thought, re-examined & even re-created – right before our eyes. And unlike the centuries that have preceded “these changing names, these numberless lives”, these radical modifications of existing structures are being effected in a super-compressed time-span of weeks and months. From my little seat in the theater of finance, it appears to be a very concrete and tangible end of a chapter in human history, making the way for a new, inevitable beginning.

I could never have imagined these turn of events. When I first started out in finance, it took me months to just figure out where and what I was working on. It was all very new – the language, the culture, and of course, the scales of numbers. I used to be good at numbers, but I had trouble understanding a statement like “we lost $1.2 million today”, or “we now own $7 billion in assets”. What assets? I saw spreadsheets and numbers. I thought to myself – “How could six people sitting together on the 36th floor of a building in Manhattan be taking these numbers seriously?”

It would take me another two years to find my bearings, and I didn’t have a clue that my new-found understanding of just about everything was about to be flung around like a ping-pong ball on a daily basis.

The strangest, most bizarre outcomes were becoming everyday affairs, and I struggled to make sense of them. I read a lot, but it never seemed enough. I could hold a “financially-literate” conversation, but I still had plenty of questions – and there were only a handful of people whom I could subject my dumb questions to. At some point in early 2008, a veteran firm, Bear Stearns, went crashing down – and it broke the confidence of just about everyone. The morning after, I decided to walk past its doors on Madison Avenue. It felt strange alright. Nine thousand employees were jobless overnight. But this was just the beginning of the Asuric orgy of high-finance.
By September, another firm called Lehman was being stir-fried on high heat. The night before its bankruptcy filing, I called a friend who worked there, though there actually wasn’t a whole lot to say. We both knew that he'd likely lose his job the next day. A year before that phone call, we had criticized derivatives, CDOs, and many things that financial 'engineering' had made possible. And now, the entire market had woken up to the banking fraud and were ridding themselves of bank stocks. The world’s largest insurance firm had turned into a giant casino and was also about to go under. But its demise would cause some actual pain to a few key Asuras. Its collapse was being touted as a ‘world-changing event’, 'an event so devastating for everyday people that....'. And we laugh at Hollywood's annual 'end of the world' type movie trailers! If you’ve ever been interested in Propaganda - as a subject, this period could be used as a case-study.

Within a few days, the mafia-lord Hank Paulson was at Capitol Hill, bullying the Congress into giving him an unlimited pot of money which he would then distribute as he felt like to his favorite banking buddies (officially, he was there to save the world). More, he asked for a blanket “ok”, and full secrecy in the matter. Congress hesitated, before signing him a check for $700 billion, and caving in to his other extra-constitutional demands. That check was now to be signed and paid for by ordinary citizens. The giant handouts would then be gifted to the supposedly ‘near-insolvent’ banks whose Lords would use that same cash to pay themselves the moon and back. I couldn’t believe the brazenness of the crime, but in retrospect, I should have expected it, if I knew any better. The Titans had systematically bought out the Congress, controlled the guys who wrote the accounting rules, and defanged all the regulatory bodies. It would make a very good movie. In fact, in 2010, Ferguson's excellent documentary, ‘Inside Job’ did just that.
In the two years since, trillions more in artificial money flooded the banking system, but this would still not satisfy the cravings of the crack-houses of finance. On the other side of the Atlantic, as I soon found out, the republics were equally addicted to debt. Every kind of social or financial commitment unto infinity is only seen as a string of 0s, some longer than others. The strange reality of my years on the 36th floor were mirrored in the phenomenal ponzi-scheme upheld by western central banks and the casinos they supported.
What is well known is that globally more than 50 million people lost their jobs. Manipulations in the commodities markets caused a food crisis that starved millions of families around the world, and put an additional 100-200 million people into poverty. What is missed in this narrative is – how much money was made? It is the act of asking this preposterous question in the light of the enormous social damage that leads us to the real nature of modern finance. The last few years of catastrophic failures have precipitated a colossal transfer of wealth, a transfer that continues unabated to this day. The Titans have made fortunes - even on the way down - at public expense, and they're about to do it all over again. Existing bubbles haven't been deflated and new ones are being created.
Seen in its right context, these past few years are already a 'historical' time-frame, one that ought to be studied, understood and hopefully – avoided in a more responsible future. But to get there requires electorates to have some financial literacy, being able to answer “How does money work?”, for example. “Is debt the new money?”, “What does printing money do for citizens? What does it do for banks?” Status-quo is admittedly a far more convenient option. There has to be a need to find out.
That need is around the corner. Massive structural changes are underway in at least four places - the US, UK, Europe & in Japan. And what this unfolding offers us, at the very least, is an unparalleled opportunity to learn from these events. In the dissolution of changing forms, of aging & tired republics, there is equally the creative genius of Nature at work, which sees beyond what our little eyes do, and manifests newer forms more fit to her forward march.

What remains to be seen is whether we will sleep through these upheavals, or observe and learn a thing or two.
"The Asura has no soul, no psychic being which has to evolve to a higher state; he has only an ego and usually a very powerful ego; he has a mind, sometimes even a highly intellectualised mind; but the basis of his thinking and feeling is vital and not mental, at the service of his desire and not of truth."
"A liquidation of the old bankrupt materialistic economism which will enable it to set up business again under a new name with a reserve capital and a clean ledger, will be a futile attempt to cheat destiny. Commercialism has no doubt its own dharma, its ideal of utilitarian justice and law and adjustment, its civilization presided over by the sign of the Balance, and, its old measures being now annulled, it is eager enough to start afresh with a new system of calculated values. But a dharmarajya of the half penitent Vaishya is not to be the final consummation of a time like ours pregnant with new revelations of thought and spirit and new creations in life, nor is a golden or rather a copper-gilt age of the sign of the Balance to be the glorious reward of this anguish and travail of humanity. It is surely the kingdom of another and higher dharma that is in preparation."
- Sri Aurobindo
Further reading
These three lines by the Mother ought to be made the preface to every study of Economics.
“Solution of the economic problem: Arriving at the synthesis of two problems: (1) adjusting the production to the needs; (2) adjusting the needs to the production.”
CWM, Vol 5, 11 Nov 1953
CWM Vol 3, pp 119-129
CWM, Vol 6, 2 June 1954 ; 28 July 1954
CWM, Vol 7, 16 Feb 1955
CWM, Vol 12, 10 Apr 1968

Sri Aurobindo's talk at Baroda : ‘The Revival of Industry in India’ (currently published in the Appendix section, ‘Early Cultural Writings’)
At a different level, Schiff's book is a fine and simple introduction. Schiff is among the few astute observers who saw the crisis and called it before it was mainstream. He has a page where he provides commentary every fortnight. The book uses stories throughout to convey ideas. It is well written & engaging.

Thoughts on center activities

15/01/2012: Reading of the Vignettes followed by OM Choir
It all started with a beautiful opening meditation with Sunilda’s ‘Savitri’ music playing in the background. With the same sense of calm, each of us gathered there picked up a copy of ‘Vignettes’. We were lucky to have found a very interesting Vignette that day---one about Sri Aurobindogram (a small village in Madhya Pradesh, India) which has been named after Sri Aurobindo. It was a revelation of sorts to most of us sitting there. A few of us had been to the place too. It was great to listen to their experiences and thoughts about the place.

After a quick discussion, we all formed a circle around a candle glowing nice and bright and the perfect setting for the OM Choir. Our collective effort to catch the music from the higher planes is always an experience to cherish and remember as each time is so unique and so beautifully different from the previous times. Words will never be able to do justice to what one experiences during the OM Choir.

22/01/2012: Collective Meditation with Music
The Mother always emphasized that along with reading the Works of Sri Aurobindo, we must also definitely try to achieve perfect Concentration in Silence. This is an essential element of aspiring to get in communion with The Divine. We, at the Singapore Centre, were to have a Collective Meditation for about 45 minutes. With the lights dimmed and The Mother’s Organ Music playing in the background, the experience was surreal. I was reminded of the words of The Mother I had read as a child, when the word MEDITATION used to weigh heavily on my head! The Mother made it seem so simple with her simple yet beautiful words. The White Pass at the Matrimandir (which used to be distributed until a few years ago for Meditation in the Inner Chamber) used to have The Mother’s words printed on it. It said

“…only for those who are serious---serious, sincere---who really want to learn to concentrate…”
“No fixed meditations…but they must stay there in silence, in silence and concentrate.”
“A place…for trying to find one’s consciousness.”

---The Mother

29/01/2012 & 05/02/2012: ‘Meditation with Savitri’ Video
The day of the month when we have our ‘Savitri’ Reading at the Centre, we were to read ‘The Secret Knowledge’ from Book 1 Canto 4. To enable us to understand ‘Savitri’ better with each attempt, we make use of the marvelous pictures by Huta and the descriptions for each of them. The reading was preceded by a ‘Savitri’ video we watched.


12 /02/2012: Elements of Yoga
Serenity reigned in the premises following our meditation on The New Year Music. Mr. Kashyap took up the ‘Prayers and Meditations’ of The Mother and read out 2 prayers, setting the stage for our explorations on ‘Faith’. We first read on faith from Sri Aurobindo’s ‘Elements on Yoga’ followed by a question posed to The Mother on the same work in ‘Commentary on Elements of Yoga’, by The Mother. We read the question a couple of times and then proceeded on to express our views on Faith.

Essentially the question we were addressing was ‘How can faith be increased?’. One of us was of the opinion that it could be nurtured with a gain in knowledge of any particular phenomenon, and in this instance, about faith in the divine. When one knows (mentally) about what the divine may mean, then it is possible to grow faith. Another devotee voiced on the contrary that knowledge of that sort may not be necessary, that faith can be nurtured just like that, like a seed, without any need to know or through experiences that continuously point one to a particular phenomenon as “truth”.

We proceeded to read The Mother’s answer.

Ultimately, it is true, we would all agree, that faith, no matter how it is nurtured or what caused it to be, in the first place, is extremely necessary in life. It is what gives hope and a meaning to everything we do and perhaps actualizes an aspiration. In a state of faith, we may actually be psychologically preparing ourselves to realize a given experience which then becomes an actuality.

It leaves for us to explore further what faith may mean and how it could be increased by taking a plunge deeper into our inner worlds, with these books perhaps, as our first guides.

- Preethi / Jayanthy

A walk with a Meaning – Sunday Walk, 5 February 2012



Mother Nature was at Her best this quaint morning. Lots of people were there in the reservoir in different stages of their day's walk.

We from the Aurobindo Society assembled for a pre walk exercise session. For a reservoir so far away, lots of members took effort to assemble this morning. The exercises loosened our muscles, and the tree pose aasan, or exercise filled my lungs the fresh air and oxygen rejuvenating the cells in me. After offering the day’s mantara, “OM NAMO BHAGAVATE SRI ARAVINDAYA SHARANAM MAMA", we started the walk.

The walk on the bridge brought in the conversations about school and the NEW academic year.

Little Sophia and Anjali stepped off the boardwalk to look at some spiders.
Walking along the Boardwalk was enjoyable as I was on the edge of water and able to observe nature and be one with the calm reservoir at the same time.

It is a place that draws you inwards. The thick dense trees had birds chirping away after a hearty breakfast. The quote, "the Early Bird gets the worm" unfolded itself in front of me , giving a new meaning to ‘TODAY'.

I walked back refreshed for the week and the month ahead that I was to face in school............



- Pranav Venkat

Along the way



February, the second month of the English calendar dawns with this thought that it is a special month - Mother's Birthday, on the 21st. The 5th of February, the day of our Sunday Morning Walk also dawned as a beautiful day bringing lots of hope and aspiration for Peace within. The atmosphere nature manifests at the Lower Pierce is one of calm silence at its best. It was encouraging to see many nature enthusiasts join in for the pre-walk exercises. The walk that followed was definitely aimed at reaching the recesses of the inner self, the mind. The calm stillness of the reservoir waters started taking over the moment, reflecting the same in our mind, gradually. The sharing took an angle towards scriptures and its place in one’s life. We reflected on one of Sri Aurobindo’s Thoughts and Aphorisms: “Immortality is not the survival of the mental personality after death, though that also is true, but the waking possession of the unborn and deathless Self of which body is only an instrument and a shadow."

The gentle breeze fanned these thoughts towards the Divine which one could see manifested all around. We walked the board walk with the reservoir water on one side and the dense tropical forest on one side. The lone kingfisher, glistening, velvety blue, reflected Krishna himself, on a far away branch…its watchful, alert eyes darting her e and there, alert and totally AWARE OF THE MOMENT, trying to tune to the movement in the water to catch unawares the fish that might surface.

The perfect harmony of nature was felt. So the exclusivity to the DIVINE can easily bring us “IN TUNE WITH THE INFINITE" provided one seeks it with earnestness and sincerity. All the values converge in our minds......... SINCERITY, PERSEVERENCE, GENORISITY, HUMILITY.
Just a keen observation of nature teaches us all these and more.

Join us with family and friends to share what we experience every month year after year...........and watch the inner transformation Nature can bring.
- Jayashree Venkat

Descent of Light


It flows towards the earth in harmonious waves.

- The Mother

Common Name: Golden chain
Botanical Name: Laburnum anagyroides
Spiritual Name: Descent of Light



In a flaming moment of apocalypse
The Incarnation thrust aside its veil.
A little figure in infinity
Yet stood and seemed the Eternal’s very house,
As if the world’s centre was her very soul
And all wide space was but its outer robe.



- Sri Aurobindo in ‘Savitri’

From the editor's desk

The mention of the month of February would raise a sweet note in the heart of any child of The Mother and Sri Aurobindo. This is the blessed month that celebrates the advent of The Mother onto the earth scene in a physical body. Being born in Paris in the year 1878, The Mother enters the 134th year of her birth anniversary this year. The February issue of this Newsletter pays homage to The Mother on this occasion. This February also sees the 44th anniversary of the birth of Auroville, The City of Dawn. An added darshan special awaits us. This year, the Golden Day, also known as the Supramental Manifestation, will be observed on 29th February marking the 56th year of the descent of the Supramental Light on 29th February 1956.

Auroville, and Puducherry, for that matter, deserve some special mention in this editorial for another reason as well. The information in this section of the editorial is based on personal observation and interviews with some people from Auroville and Puducherry as well as the media.

On 30th December 2011, Auroville saw, together with Puducherry, the advent of a calamitous force in the guise of the Cyclone Thane, which struck at the wee hours of the morning and lasted for at least 6 hours unabated. There were casualties in terms of lives lost and damage to property and infrastructure. Even now, almost a month into the event, evidence of the carnage left behind by Thane remains stark and self-explanatory. Fallen trees, damaged trees, fallen wires, telephone poles…. These were common sights all along the coast of that part of South India.

However, above the damage to life and property, above the fear that was attempting to cast its spell on all, above the despondency of families still reeling from the shock of the loss and damage left behind, what is becoming more and more evident is the indomitable spirit of this place.

Inhabitants of Puducherry appear to recall the horrors of the cyclone with a smile now. Affected people speak of all the work before them in reconstructing damaged property with a new energy and enthusiasm. The work of clearing affected areas is moving on steadily. Many trees were uprooted during the cyclone which came upon the affected areas at a speed of 140 kmph. Some of the fallen trees were very old trees which had stood the test of time for a long, long time but which now had succumbed to cyclone Thane. Many trees which are standing now have lost many of their branches and leaves. But there is hope today, as tiny, tender, pinkish shoots make their way gently to the surface of these trees, at the nodes, breaking out into the vast space around them. There is a subtle but powerful message of hope in this. This is what we need to cheer and salute, for this spirit is what shall remake the places and cities washed clean of structures of an old era, perhaps. These tender shoots are to be celebrated. And visitors from all over the world need to recognize that it is a spirit that grows stronger each passing day. Pity and sorrow expressed cannot and will not be of any help here. The collective spirit of goodwill will stand hand in hand with the spirit of progress that is already firmly planted in Puducherry and Auroville. Speculations are rife. Why did this happen; what is the significance, what the message. Many are the explanations, interpretations and predictions. But the good news is, today, Puducherry and Auroville are marching forward, slowly but steadily, in their effort to restore and reconstruct anew.

February 21st, 28th and 29th will be especially significant days in both Puducherry and Auroville this year.

Savitri

As from the soil sprang glory of branch and flower,
As from the animal’s life rose thinking man,
A new ephiphany appeared in her.
A mind of light, a life of rhythmic force,
A body instinct with hidden divinity
Prepared an image of the coming god;

(Savitri, Book 4, Canto 1)

Celestial –human deep warm slumberous fires
Woke in the long fringed glory of her eyes
Like altar –burnings in a mysteried Shrine.

Even in her childish movements could be felt
The nearness of a light still kept from earth,
Feelings that only eternity could share,
Thoughts natural and native to the gods.

(Savitri, Book 4, Canto 1)

A marvelous brooding twilight met the eyes
And a holy stillness held that voiceless space.

(Savitri, Book 7, Canto 5)

Question of the month

Q: It seems to me that the very land of Auroville aspires. Is it true, Sweet Mother ?

A: The Mother: Yes, the land itself has a consciousness, even though this consciousness is not intellectualized and cannot express itself.

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


Q: What is the right thing that we should expect from You ?

A: The Mother: Everything.


Q: What have You been expecting from us and from humanity in general for the accomplishment of Your Work upon earth ?

A: The Mother: Nothing.
Q: From Your long experience of over sixty years, have You found that Your expectation from us and from humanity has been sufficiently fulfilled?

A: The Mother: As I am expecting nothing I cannot answer this question.


Q: Does the success of Your Work for us and for humanity depend in any way upon the fulfilment of Your expectation from us and from humanity ?

A: The Mother: Happily not.

(Note: On Feb 25, 1968 the New Age Association held a seminar given by the Mother: "What we expect from the Mother." ‘For a start the Mother herself was asked a series of questions, and pat came the answers.’ - K.R. Srinivasa Iyengar in ‘On The Mother’, Sri Aurobindo Ashram Trust, Pondicherry)

Herself and all she was she had lent to men

Herself and all she was she had lent to men,
Hoping her greater being to implant
That heaven might native grow on mortal’s soil
- Sri Aurobindo in ‘Savitri’


I was born with a consciously prepared body - Sri Aurobindo was aware of that, he said it immediately that first time he saw me: I was born free. That is, from the spiritual standpoint: without any desire. Without any desire and attachment if there is the slightest desire and the slightest attachment, it is impossible to do this work.

A vital like a warrior; with an absolute self-control (the vital of this present incarnation was sexless - a warrior) an absolutely calm and imperturbable warrior, no desires, no attachment. Since my earliest childhood, I have done things which, to the human consciousness, are ‘monstrous’; my mother went so far as to tell me that I was a real ‘monster’ because I had neither attachments nor desires.

If I was asked “would you like to do this?” I answered “I don’t care” (my father especially, it would make him furious). If people were nasty to me, or if people died or went away, it left me absolutely calm - and so: “You’re a monster, you have no feelings.”

And with that preparation, it’s eighty-six years since I came here, mon petit! For thirty years I worked with Sri Aurobindo consciously, without letup, night and day. We shouldn’t be in a hurry.

We shouldn’t be in a hurry.

And there was that experience, which of all experiences was truly the most…. I could say the most decisive: that was when Sri Aurobindo left his body. Because materially, for the body, it was the complete collapse of a sort of unshakable trust, a sense of absolute security, of certitude that things were doing to be done “ just like that”, harmoniously. Then his departure - the blow of a sledgehammer on the head… And the entire weight of the responsibility here, on the body. Voila.
That means quite a preparation - which is as wise as all the rest.

That is why Sri Aurobindo told me clearly (because, of course, he saw, he knew,)…..he said to me ”only your body can withstand THAT, has the power to withstand…”

All that I am doing, all that the body is doing, is the power to pass on to the others - that’s precisely what I am studying now. I am studying this it’s a sort of power to put people in contact with the vibration of the Consciousness which is concentrated on a number of people and things (all over the earth, naturally, but also on certain points). It’s the Power that came the night when there was that descent in the brain: at any moment I was able to direct a beam here, another beam there, touch a point here, another point there… (gesture like a beacon).

That’s why Sri Aurobindo never stopped repeating “Do not try to do it all by yourself, the Mother will do it for you, if you trust her.” I never say it, I am saying it to you just now. But it’s an absolute fact. It isn’t – you know this- it isn’t done for ONE body: it’s done for the earth.


(‘Mother’s Agenda’, Volume 5, 1964, published in France under the title L’Agenda de Mere- 1964, Institut de Recherches Evolutives, Paris, 1979).

The Divine Force

”There is one divine Force which acts in the universe and in the individual and is also beyond the individual and the universe. The Mother stands for all these, but she is working here in the body to bring down something not yet experienced in this material world so as to transform life here - it is so that you should regard her as the Divine Shakti working here for that purpose. She is that in the body, but in her whole consciousness she is also identified with all the other aspects of the Divine.”

”It is now long since Sri Aurobindo had this reminder, that you all know, put up everywhere in the Ashram : "Always behave as if the Mother was looking at you, for she is indeed always present." This is not mere phrase, not simply words, it is a fact. I am with you in a very concrete manner and they who have a subtle vision can see me.

In a general way my Force is there, constantly at work, constantly lifting the psychological elements of your being to put them in new relations, defining to yourself the different facets of your nature so that you may see what should be changed, developed, rejected.”

Greetings from Auroville to all men of good will.


The inauguration of Auroville took place in the forenoon of 28 February 1968, a week after the Mother's birthday. Almost every Nation, big or small, and all the States of the Indian Union were represented. The inspiring idea behind the dedication ceremony was that children from the different Nations and States should bring a handful of earth from their respective region and deposit it in the lotus-shaped urn at the centre of the Auroville site, to mix there and mingle with the others so as to symbolise the unity, solidarity and common destiny of the earth and its inhabitants. The Government of Pondicherry declared a public holiday to enable its citizens to participate in the unique festive ceremony of the birth of the City of Dawn. For several days previously, the Ashram and Pondicherry had become the centre of attraction, and thousands had come to witness the historic occasion. A newly made road led to the amphitheatre in the heart of Auroville where the vast concourse of humanity gathered on the 28th morning in exemplary silence in a mood of prayerful expectancy.

The dedication ceremony itself was memorably distinctive in its grand simplicity and symbolic sufficiency. There were no speeches, there was no visible presiding dignitary. But many were conscious of an invisible Presence that brooded with outspread protective wings over the mass of humanity as if nurturing their hope for the future. At last, at 10.30, the words of the Mother's message of welcome came with resonant vibration, transmitted from her room in the Ashram six miles away:

“Greetings from Auroville to all men of good will.

Are invited to Auroville all those who thirst for progress and aspire to a higher and truer life.”

Then as the Mother read the French version of the Auroville charter, two children of the Ashram, one carrying the Mother's flag, the other some earth from the Samadhi (the Mother had herself given them this sacred soil in a bowl) along with the charter in a stainless steel container, placed them at the bottom of the tall urn shaped like a lotus-bud. Following them, other children in groups of two, one holding the flag of the respective Nation or State blazoning its name, walked up to the urn carrying bowlfulls of the consecrated earth of their homelands, and deposited them likewise in the urn. As the children were advancing to the urn, the charter was read out in sixteen other languages: Tamil first, then Sanskrit, then English, followed by thirteen languages of the world in their alphabetical order: Arabic, Chinese, Dutch, German, Greek, Hebrew, Italian, Japanese, Norwegian, Russian, Spanish, Swedish and Tibetan. It was really the same song of human aspiration though coming in different notes, and the reiteration in the languages of the world was but the ringing peal of the coming global symphony. Here is the English text of the charter, a simple statement of the aims and hopes of Tomorrow's World:


Auroville belongs to nobody in particular. Auroville belongs to humanity as a whole. But to live in Auroville one must be the willing servitor of the Divine Consciousness.

Auroville will be the place of an unending education, of constant progress, and a youth that never ages.

Auroville wants to be the bridge between the past and the future. Taking advantage of all discoveries from without and from within, Auroville will boldly spring towards future realisations.

Auroville will be a site of material and spiritual researches for a living embodiment of an actual human unity.

Throughout the ceremony, which took about seventy-five minutes, the words of the charter rumbled in the rhythms of one language or another along the unseen corridors of the collective consciousness of the silently participating congregation comprising tens of thousands of aspiring humanity. In all, 124 Nations of the world and 23 States of the Indian Union - comprising the big and the small, the far and the near, the affluent and the underdeveloped - took part in the dedication ceremony, and the all-important common denominator was the universal human concern and aspiration for the future. After the accredited children from these Nations and States had fulfilled their appointed roles, some of the soil of Auroville also was added to the mingled earth, and Nolini Kanta Gupta went up last and sealed the urn, thereby bringing the ceremony of inauguration to an auspicious close.

That hour of dedication was also one of the Hours of God, and the ceremony was a solemn splendour of affirmation, a great gesture of beckoning that showed the way to the approaching Dawn and the future Noons of Fulfilment. In that year of the crossroads of human history, the Mother's supreme act of faith in launching Auroville into the uncertain Future was in some measure also a means of shaping that future towards the ultimate realisation of the noblest of human aspirations: the reign of "God, Light, Freedom, Immortality", and the "flowering of a new race, the race of the Sons of God". Indeed, the birth of Auroville was like the coming of a beam of shining light to an otherwise bleak and murky world.

It was a splendid beginning, indeed, under the happiest auspices. The children of the world, the soil of the earth in which all lands became one, the Mother's benedictions - the conjunction of these betokened the birth of Auroville, the Dawn City. If Marx once gave the strident call "Proletariat of all Nations, unite!”, the Aurovilian call may be phrased: "Children of all Nations, unite! You have nothing to lose except fear, insecurity, inequality - and waste; and you have everything to gain!" Children the world over are endowed with the qualities of innocence, generosity, humour, plasticity, curiosity, adventurousness and mysticism - a Franciscan mysticism that burns away the dross of self-defeating egoism or ahankara and soul-destroying hatred or dvesha. Didn't Christ say that one must be verily like a child to enter the Kingdom of Heaven? Certainly, one must be like a child to acquire and deserve the rights of citizenship in Auroville, the city that could one day house a planetary society governed and sustained by the True or Divine Consciousness.

(K.R. Srinivasa Iyengar in ‘On The Mother, Chapter 56, ‘Year of WondersS’, Sri Aurobindo Ashram Trust, Pondicherry)

The Descent of Knowledge in Savitri – Part One

We are pleased to present below ‘The Descent of Knowledge in Savitri’, and article written by Ms. Sonia Dyne that first appeared in the February 2011 edition of the journal, ‘Shraddha’, published in Kolkata by the Sri Aurobindo Centre for Research in Social Sciences. It appeared in the first of two issues of the journal devoted entirely to Sri Aurobindo's 'Savitri'. Due to the length of the original, the decision was made to divide it into four parts for reproduction in the Newsletter, with a brief introduction to each part provided by the author.

Part One begins with a general discussion of the question "What do we mean by knowledge?" and briefly compares past and contemporary ideas with the new concept presented by Sri Aurobindo in 'Savitri'. The point is made that in order to understand Sri Aurobindo's concept of knowledge, as it is gradually revealed to the seeker Aswapati, it is important to set aside all preconceived ideas and opinions derived from other sources.

Ms. Dyne needs no introduction in the Sri Aurobindo circle of Singapore. She was a former Chairperson of the Society and also the then editor of our Newsletter.


''The sign of dawning Knowledge is to feel that as yet I know little or nothing; and yet, if I could only know my knowledge, I already possess everything.'' Sri Aurobindo's brilliant aphorism is a sharp reminder that despite the avalanche of information available to us in the contemporary world, our ideas about knowledge itself are still rudimentary and largely unexamined. The 'dawning Knowledge' he refers to is the emergence into earth-existence of a supramental consciousness and its incalculable consequences for both the human and the natural world. This is the knowledge sought by King Aswapati in ‘Savitri’. Is veiled from us, and may be beyond our present ability even to conceive, for we do not 'know our knowledge' or have a satisfactory explanation of where it comes from.

'How do I know?' is a simple question on the face of it. However, it is a curious feature of English usage that even the slightest shift of emphasis to the 'I' transforms this question into an affirmation of ignorance. 'How do I know?' in everyday speech is commonly understood as an alternative way of saying 'I don't know'. Only philosophers, professors of linguistics and psychologists can expect a serious response to this question when speaking in the context of their own special expertise. It is as if we feel a little uncomfortable about asking ourselves how we know things - The ray of human intelligence, so eager to de-construct and analyse, does not like to be directed inwards upon itself. As a perceptive poet observed: “We are not very securely at home in our interpreted world.” Somehow we sense, but do not see, intangible energies at work over which we have no control. In a letter written to a disciple, Sri Aurobindo examines a root cause of our insecurity:

''What we know of ourselves, our present conscious existence, is only a representative formation, a superficial activity, a changing result of a vast mass of concealed existence. Our visible life and the actions of that life are no more than a series of significant expressions, but that which it tries to express is not on the surface; our existence is something much larger than this apparent frontal being which we suppose ourselves to be and which we offer to the world around us. His frontal and external being is a confused amalgam of mind-formations, life movements, physical functionings of which even an exhaustive analysis of its component parts and machinery fails to reveal the whole secret. It is only when we go behind, below, above into the hidden stretches of our being that we can know it; the most thorough and acute surface scrutiny cannot give us the true understanding or the completely effective control of our life, its purposes, its activities; that inability indeed is the cause of the failure of reason, morality and every other surface action to control and deliver and perfect the life of the human race.”

Traditions and myths handed down from past generations (the biblical story of Adam and Eve and the Tree of Knowledge is a good example) often warn against seeking greater knowledge, because it is perceived as somehow threatening to Man's well-being and contentment. That greater knowledge might bring about a calamity, as it did when Adam and Eve lost their divine gift of immortality and were plunged into our familiar world of suffering and death. Or it might turn out to be unbearable, a fierce wind from heaven demolishing our fragile conjectures and sweeping away familiar landmarks in the landscape of our thoughts until nothing remains but uncharted wilderness. No wonder we prefer to make a joke about it: “knowledge is knowing that the tomato is a fruit; wisdom is not putting it in the fruit salad “- so that any serious debate ends with laughter and relief.

What do we mean by 'knowledge? Is it only the sum total of all the information recorded and stored up over generations by the human mind? Most people would accept that it is, discounting future knowledge on the grounds that it does not yet exist. They might add that we have an inborn instinct for survival and we recognise the right of religious tradition to insist that knowledge comes ultimately from God in the form of natural law or by means of direct revelation. None of this prepares us for the radically different concept revealed by Sri Aurobindo in ‘Savitri’. He has taken an ancient legend and turned it into a potent symbol to express a truth of existence that cannot be fully grasped by the still evolving human mind or fully expressed in words. He does this by using the intuitive language of sight: a concrete imagery which evokes our living experience to 'bypass the ways of thought'. In his role of narrator, Sri Aurobindo relates the events of his story from a double perspective so that the action moves between the timeless reality of the spiritual planes and human existence in time, with the effect that all is presented as a seamless unity. The transition is always abrupt with the “suddenness divine events have”, reflecting a new and unfamiliar way of experiencing time.

Supermind is the name given by Sri Aurobindo to this highest formulation of knowledge; its descent into the plane of Earth and emergence in an evolving humanity is a major theme in ‘Savitri’. More than that, the poem itself is powerful illustration of the supermind-consciousness at work using the intuitive levels of mind to communicate through a threefold instrumentation: the legend of Savitri and Satyavan itself; a poetic language of powerful images and signs; a subtext of symbolism casting its light on the underlying spiritual meaning of the unfolding action and the many descriptive passages. All these together (and they cannot readily be separated) constitute “a revelation of spiritual significances, a support for our spiritual growth and the evolution of spiritual capacity and experience.”

Knowledge for Sri Aurobindo has its origin in a divine Omniscience, and is therefore eternally present in all the planes of existence, down to the most material. In ‘The Synthesis of Yoga’ he makes this clear: “If the spirit is everywhere, even in matter – in fact matter itself is only an obscure form of the spirit – and if the supermind is the universal power of the spirit's omnipresent self-knowledge organising all the manifestation of the being, then in matter and everywhere there must be present a supramental action and, however concealed it may be by another, lower and obscurer kind of operation, yet when we look close we shall find that it is really the supermind which organizes matter, life, mind and reason. And this actually is the knowledge towards which we are now moving.”

His epic poem first follows the progress of the seeker Aswapati through all the planes where Mind has a form accessible to human intelligence, venturing even beyond into regions previously inaccessible to human experience, where Mind the thinker “sleeps in too much light”. His quest is to find the source of Knowledge in an absolute, not a partial Truth, first to satisfy his own aspiration, and later to release humankind from bondage to death. It is a journey full of surprises from the beginning, obliging us to review the conventional wisdom of our age and see ourselves and our world in an entirely new light.

The first revelation is to discover that Sri Aurobindo makes no clear distinction between knowledge and ignorance, choosing to view them, not as opposites, but as two aspects of single and eternal power, divine in its origin. As human beings, subject to the constraints of our three dimensional existence, we assume ignorance to be a condition that comes before knowledge. In contrast, Sri Aurobindo perceives an eternal Knowledge as the pre-existent condition, with ignorance only an illusion caused by our inability to receive it in its fullness. Throughout ‘Savitri’ we find that Sri Aurobindo speaks of knowledge and ignorance in the same context, as if, like pain and joy, they were “born in the same caul”. His vision, unlike human thought which thrives on division, tends always towards synthesis and admits no contraries. Just as death is only a disguise of the divine Love which alone exists, so too there is only one Knowledge, single and absolute, embracing and reconciling within itself all possible theories and interpretations.

Seemingly it was the omniscient Goddess, the Supramental Knowledge, in the guise of Ignorance and under the heaviest of veils, who first awakened our material universe when Earth “wheeled abandoned in the hollow gulfs”, ushering in the advent of a new evolution. The story of ‘Savitri’ opens with a powerful evocation of that significant moment, presenting our planet as it might appear in some remote past, to a witness eye far out in space. It is a planet apparently quite dead, but carrying within itself a buried seed of life and mind awaiting its destined hour:

Then something in the inscrutable darkness stirred;
A nameless movement, an unthought Idea
Insistent, dissatisfied, without an aim,
Something that wished but knew not how to be
Teased the Inconscient to wake Ignorance.

Seeking to know itself on the Earth plane, the divine Knowledge re-awakens a sleeping urge in Matter to build once again the spiral stair of intelligent life, so that the divine consciousness may be established there:
Ambassadress twixt eternity and change,
The omniscient Goddess leaned across the breadths
That wrap the fated journeyings of the stars
And saw the spaces ready for her feet.

Sri Aurobindo seems to imply that the experiment of human life on earth has been tried before. A distant memory of that long-forgotten past survives in the All-Knowledge transcending time:

It was as though even in this nought's profound,
Even in this ultimate dissolution's core,
There lurked an unremembering entity,
Survivor of a slain and buried past,
Condemned to resume the effort and the pang,
Reviving in another frustrate world.
The opening passage of ‘Savitri’ must be unique in literature, for no other poet has so effectively induced in us an experience of un-knowing. Opaque, impenetrable, fathomless, featureless, inscrutable - the list of descriptive adjectives goes on and on until it seems that he has exhausted all the resources of the language. He evokes not only a dark and lifeless planet but also a state of consciousness shrouded in ignorance. We are invited to experience directly for ourselves the absence of understanding, and to set aside all previous ideas and opinions in preparation for the new world-vision that will be revealed. Sri Aurobindo is illustrating in this opening canto some of the characteristics of the supramental consciousness – the wideness of vision embracing vast distances in space and time; the knowledge by identity which brings a concrete experience of the object of attention; the supramental sight which lends a special radiance to all things suddenly seen as forms of the Divine. It is a necessary preparation, for without a willing suspension of the mind's tendency to raise objections we will not be able to follow the yoga of Aswapati as he moves through ranges of consciousness closed to us in the present stage of our evolution. The higher knowledge will not reveal itself under the conditions of doubt and denial imposed by Falsehood. As Sri Aurobindo wrote: “By knowledge we mean in yoga not thought or ideas about spiritual things but psychic understanding from within and spiritual illumination from above.”

Experiencing for himself on each plane the form that conscious knowledge assumes there, the seeker Aswapati strips away one by one the veils of ignorance binding him to his mortal condition. He comes to see and experience Truth-Knowledge as an active creative force in the evolution of Mankind. We soon discover that he is no ordinary seeker: in him, powers that sleep unused within the human breast, Man's divine birthright, have come forward to be “annexed to the mortal scheme”:
A seer was born, a shining Guest of Time,
For him mind's limiting firmament ceased above,
In the griffin forefront of the Night and Day
A gap was rent in the all-concealing vault;
The conscious ends of being went rolling back;
The landmarks of the little person fell,
The island ego joined its continent:
Overpassed was this world of rigid limiting forms:
Life's barriers opened into the unknown.

Here, on our material plane, the action of Knowledge works always to reveal our full potential as human beings, to remind us that ''this deathbound littleness is not all we are''. As the inner countries veiled from our sight open to Aswapati; his gaze embraces at a single glance the “triple stride” of time which for us divides into past, present and future. The illusion of separate being is abolished and a seamless knowledge replaces the rigid sequences of mental logic. Release from ignorance is the first spiritual change, the beginning of the journey:

Thus came his soul's release from ignorance,
His mind and body's first spiritual change.
A wide God-knowledge poured down from above,
A new world-knowledge broadened from within:
His daily thoughts looked up to the True and One,
His commonest doings welled from an inner Light.
Awakened to the lines that Nature hides,
Attuned to the movements that exceed our ken,
He grew one with a covert universe.

(to be continued)
- Sonia Dyne

Thoughts on Centre Activities: December 2011 - January 2012

18/12/2011 … Reading of the Vignettes followed by OM Choir

After the opening meditation, we each picked up a copy of a book which is really close to all our hearts—“Vignettes”, after all, it consists of several heart warming stories about people who have been touched by The Mother and Sri Aurobindo in several ways. As always, each story brought a smile on our faces, many of us could relate to the experiences penned down in the book.

After the reading, we formed a small circle for the OM choir around a candle lit in all its glory. Words will never suffice to describe the ecstasy experienced by each and every person during the OM choir. We took home with us whatever may have descended, our subtle experiences.

25/12/2011… Savitri Reading

The day of the month when we have our Savitri Reading at the Centre, we were to read “The Secret Knowledge” from Book 1 Canto 4. To enable us to understand Savitri better with each attempt, we make use of the marvelous pictures by Huta and the descriptions for each of them. The paintings have a very unique quality about them. They seem to have a life of their own and we are drawn to them in strange ways and this, together with the Mother’s voice reciting lines of Savitri tend to bring us into another plane, a special one where we can dwell awhile, either in peace, silence, joy or in a state with all three of these co-existing. And as always, the lines seem to reveal to us something new every time we read them.

01/01/2012 …Meditation with Savitri Video

The New Year Special Meditation happened at the Centre in the morning. In the evening, we all gathered to watch the video for Book 1 Canto 4 of the Savitri, which was read the previous Sunday. This video along with the Meditation was the perfect way to start the first month of the New Year!

08/01/2012 … “Elements of Yoga” by Sri Aurobindo (Aspiration)

“Elements of Yoga” by Sri Aurobindo was the book we were to read at the Reading Circle. “Aspiration” was the chosen chapter for the day. After reading it aloud, we used the “Commentaries on Elements of Yoga” by the Mother as a guide to help us understand it better. Aspiration is important to one and all for any and every thing we want to accomplish in life. With an interesting discussion that followed it, we ended the evening with a beautiful closing Meditation.
- Preethi

Jan 2012 Walk and Brunch Photos