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

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