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

Illumined Mind Centre

In the peace that comes from the perfect light.
- The Mother

Common Name: Canna lily
Botanical Name: Canna Xgeneralis
Spiritual Name: Illumined Mind Centre

There are vasts of vision and eternal suns,
Oceans of an immortal luminousness,
Flame-hills assaulting heaven with their peaks,
There dwelling all becomes a blaze of sight.
- Sri Aurobindo in ‘Savitri’

From the Editor’s Desk (Feb 2013)

In the last few editions, we have been touching on parts and planes of the being. In this edition, we stand on the rung of the Illumined Mind, greater then the Higher Mind in its lustre and power and capacities. These are zones of our being which have to be lived to know and known, in the truest sense, in order to be lived. It is best to leave the lines from Sri Aurobindo and The Mother to illumine us as much as we would allow and as much as we are ready for.

What is the state of this little or less illumined mind? What is the nature of an illumined mind?

Attempting these questions will hopefully put things into perspective. They will help us to start the enquiry process from where we are, eventually helping us to touch the epitome of the illumined mind with an intellect consciously sharpened for this purpose. However, there is so much that the intellect can perceive. Perhaps we may carry with us the two unfailing torches of aspiration and sincerity, just to arrive closer to the truth than not. The answer to the second question gives us some intimation of what more lies ahead of us or above against the backdrop of what is as we perceive. The fact remains that vistas there are to be traversed and conquered.

The mind in its little illumined state is characterised by an “imperfect intelligence” ruled by ignorance and a limited view of things. Sri Aurobindo, in ‘Synthesis of Yoga’ (p.g 231) writes that man’s nature of ignorance comprises the ignorant mind, the ignorant heart and the ignorant urge and instinct of the flesh. As his mind is replaced by the spiritual and illumined mind, he will “no longer act from his nature of the Ignorance…. but first from a spritualised self and nature and, last, from a

supramental Truth-consciousness and its divine force of Supernature.” Sri Aurobindo explains in a later part of the book that thought, a feature of the mental being, “if not truly their best and highest, is at least their most constant, normal and effective means for enlightening their ignorance.”

Sri Aurobindo describes the functions of the mind as those of “gathering and reflection, meditation, fixed contemplation” with the ability of “the absorbed dwelling of the mind on its object… thought is only a scout and pioneer; it can guide but not command or effectuate.” As such, “.. it stands at our tops as an indispensable aid to our realisation of that which we pursue, and it is not surprising that it should claim to be the leader of the journey and the only available guide or at least the direct and innermost door of the temple.” (SOY, P.g. 289).

The mind in its illumined state is definitely different, certainly glorious, gleaning from Sri Aurobindo’s casual and candid description. We may move on with these lines that seem to leave quite a mark in the receiving mind:

The illumined mind is of “… an intense lustre, a splendour and illumination of the Spirit: a play of lightings of spiritual truth and power breaks from above into the consciousness and adds to the calm and wide enlightenment and the vast descent of peace which characterize or accompany the action of the larger conceptual – spiritual principle, a fiery ardour of realization and a rapturous ecstasy of knowledge. A downpour of inwardly visible Light very usually envelops this action;”


Our inner Mind dwells in a larger light,
Its brightness looks at us through hidden door.

(Savitri, Book 7 Canto 2)
A wisdom-cry from rapt transcendences
Sang on the mountains of an unseen world;
The voices that an inner listening hears
Conveyed to him their prophet utterances,
And flame-wrapt outbursts of the immortal Word
And flashes of an occult revealing Light
Approached him from the unreachable secrecy.

(Savitri, Book 1 Canto 3)

Sri Aurobindo on the illumined mind

A greater Force (than that of the Higher Mind) is that of the Illumined Mind, a Mind no longer of higher Thought, but of spiritual light. Here the clarity of the spiritual intelligence, its tranquil daylight, gives place or subordinates itself to an intense luster, a splendor and illumination of the Spirit: a play of lightings of spiritual truth and power breaks from above into the consciousness and adds to the calm and wide enlightenment and the vast descent of peace which characterize or accompany the action of the larger conceptual – spiritual principle, a fiery ardour of realization and a rapturous ecstasy of knowledge. A downpour of inwardly visible Light very usually envelops this action; for it must be noted that , contrary to our ordinary conceptions, light is not primarily a material creation and the sense or vision of light accompanying the inner illumination is not merely a subjective visual image or a symbolic phenomenon: light is primarily a spiritual manifestation of the Divine Reality illuminative and creative; material light is a subsequent representation or conversion of it into Matter for the purposes of the material Energy. There is also in this descent the arrival of a greater dynamic, a golden drive, a luminous “enthousiasmos” of inner force and power which replaces the comparatively slow and deliberate process of the Higher Mind by a swift, sometimes a vehement, almost a violent impetus of rapid transformation.

(‘Our Many Selves - Selections from the works of Sri Aurobindo and the Mother’, Compiled, with an Introduction ,by A.S. Dalal, Sri Aurobindo Ashram, Pondicherry)


There are many planes or zones of the mind, from the plane of the physical mind, the lower zone of ordinary thoughts, full of error and ignorance and falsehood, to the plane of the higher mind which receives, in the form of intuitions, the rays of the supramental truth. Between these two extremes there is a gradation of countless intermediate planes that are superimposed one upon another and which influence each other. In one of the lower zones lies the practical reason, the common sense of which man is so proud and which, for ordinary minds, appears to be the expression of wisdom, although it still works wholly in the field of ignorance. To this region of practical reason belong the "polysyllables" of which Sri Aurobindo speaks, the commonplaces and clichés, all the ready-made phrases which run about in the mental atmosphere from one brain to another and which people repeat when they want to appear knowledgeable, or when they think themselves wise.


A ladder of delivering ascent
And runs that Nature climbs to deity. – ‘Savitri’

One discovers in this yoga that there are a series of graded steps of consciousness in the being. It is part of yoga to become more and more conscious of each of these levels of existence and forge an ascent step by step. Each successive climb delivers one into a larger freedom, a greater puissance. This is the course adopted by Nature in its progression from Inconscience to Superconscience, from Matter to Spirit and this also is the way for him who seeks to fulfil man’s mission in life - to arrive at his Godhead. From Matter to Life, from Life to Mind, from Mind to Higher Mind, from Higher Mind to Illumined Mind and thence to Infinite Mind, Overmind , Supermind, Bliss, Consciousness and Exitence- this is the broad evolutionary landscape spread before man.

Light Flames Up

As knowledge grows Light flames up from within:
It is a shining warrior in the mind,
An eagle of dreams in the divining heart,
An armour in the fight, a bow of God. – ‘Savitri’

As one grows in consciousness and the Knowledge of the inner being grows more and more, the Light of the soul flames up illumining all within and without. It presents itself in the mind as a luminous power spotting and driving away false and wrong formations of ignorance; in the intuiting heart it casts itself as a flashing ray of omniscience, in the incessant battle with the nether elements and adverse forces, it acts as an unfailing armour, a far flinging weapon of God.

(M.P. Pandit ‘Yoga in Sri Aurobindo’s Epic, Savitri’, published by Dipti Publications)

The Foundations of Psychological Theory in the Veda

System of the Worlds

Sri Aurobindo found the clue to this (the psychological significance of the Vedic mantras) in the Vedic conception of Vya̅hṛti’, mystical utterance of the names of the seven worlds. The first three symbolic words of the Gayatri mantra – Bhu (Earth), Antariksha (Middle region) and Dyau (Heaven) and in the connection of the fourth vyahrti ‘Mahas’ which is a greater Heaven (Brihat Dyau).

Above these, there are three higher worlds (making a total of seven), whose concepts have come down from the perception of the riṣhi̅s. They realised that the entire manifestation is like a multi-tiered hill constituting the seven planes of existence. The aim of life is to reach the higher planes step by step.   Corresponding to each step, there is a principle of consciousness and an associated world (lo̅ka). For every world here, there is a corresponding sheath of consciousness (ko̅sha) within every human being; thus reflecting the correspondence between the microcosm (the structure within a human being) and the macrocosm (the outside cosmos).

The following table gives the names of the ‘Seven worlds’ in English, their corresponding names in Veda, Upanishad or Pura̅ṇa  and the corresponding realm in a human being:

The Seven worlds are also naturally divided into three groups:

i. The upper triple (three worlds)
ii. The Fourth (Mahas)
iii. The bottom triple (three worlds)

The following graphic representation shows greater details

Note:   * Indicates respective symbolic connections between Outer and Inner worlds
Sri Aurobindo was convinced that the Vedantic and Puranic systems are identical and depend on the same idea of seven principles of subjective consciousness formulating themselves in seven objective worlds, thus giving him a total clarity on the symbolism.

It is essential to understand that these worlds are not the physical worlds but in reality are different states of consciousness. These are not reachable by physical means. If a human being is conscious only of matter, at this particular time he is living in the world of matter. If his consciousness is dwelling on desires, feelings, emotions etc., he is living in the vital world. When immersed in thought, he is in the mental world.

Though the Veda refers to all these seven principles, they constantly speak of the three outer worlds only. Relatively, they are of direct concern to us. This is the reason why more riks are devoted to Agni, who is nearest and presides over Earth. Many riks laud Indra as he is the lord of all the Gods of this triple. In contrast Savitr or Surya (Sun) , who is One God among all the Gods in the effulgent Upper half and worthy of being attained through strict austerity measures and sacrifices, the riks devoted are very few in number. Thus the Gods of our triple world are the main hosts in all our sacrifice.

(to be continued)
- C. Krishnamurthy (

Trip to Pondicherry in Commemoration of The 40th Anniversary of the Sri Aurobindo Society, Singapore Reminiscences and Reflections – Part 2

From the diary of Dhana…..

My son Vishnu and I had the blessing to be part of this historical trip to Pondicherry. The opportunity to meet and interact with some senior Sadhaks of the Ashram was interesting. One of them, who used to work closely with Nirod-da shared some wonderful memories with us. I happened to meet her again outside the Ashram dining hall the next day morning & received lovely flowers from her as Prasad. She gave them mentioning the spiritual name The Mother had given to those flowers. Another senior Sadhak from the Ashram shared about the Tamil books that he had written and also about another new book that he is about to write. He gave some blessing packets to be distributed to devotees in Singapore together with Agarbathi’s from New School Crafts, Auroville. These were placed at the altar at our centre and distributed on New Year’s Eve. Some of our members got the opportunity to meet up with another senior Sadhak Mona Sarkar at his residence. He shared with us on how his father was associated with Sri Aurobindo in the Alipore Jail case and their family moved to Pondicherry thereafter. He also shared with us about his experiences as a sportsman. . I heard that he was one of the Sadhaks at the Ashram who used to joke with The Mother & make Her smile always.

Another opportunity that some of us got are the visits to some of the Ashram Departments such as Laundry, Bakery, Playground, Corner House, Painting Dept and Dining Hall to know more about their daily functioning. Last but not least, the visit to “Sri Smriti” where articles and items used by Sri Aurobindo and The Mother are displayed.

During this trip, almost everyday I received one specific flower “tree jasmine” for which The Mother has given the spiritual name “Transformation”. Either I would find it on the roads on the way from The Ashram to the guest house or receive it from someone else. I feel that this is not just another ordinary happening but a hidden message that The Mother wanted to convey during this tip. This trip was indeed a small step towards “Transformation”. Here’s a picture of the flower & the significance that our Masters have given to it:

Transformation - The goal of creation.
This is what Sri Aurobindo wrote about Transformation:
There are different statuses of transformation. First is the psychic transformation, in which all is in contact with the Divine through the individual psychic consciousness. Next is the spiritual transformation in which all is merged in the Divine in the cosmic consciousness. Third is the supramental transformation in which all becomes supramentalised in the divine gnostic consciousness. It is only with the last that there can begin the complete transformation of mind, life and body - in my sense of completeness. – Sri Aurobindo

I used to think that my 17 year old son was always playful and did not spend enough time praying or meditating. However, seeing his enthusiasm in doing service at the Ashram dining hall, The Mother gave me another most important message of this trip - that his way of yoga is Karma Yoga! We are so much engrossed in the material life and build our beliefs based on our thoughts/assumptions that circle around with a small radius. We think that our beliefs are always right and sometimes we even get upset with others that they are not the way we want them to be. Experiences like this strike a chord to remind us that everyone has their own way to reach/serve the Divine and just the paths are different (Gnana Yoga, Bhakthi Yoga, Karma Yoga, and Raja Yoga).

I believe that this particular trip to Pondicherry would be one of the most memorable & meaningful ones in our lives.

- Dhanalakshmi

From the diary of Mr Lok …..

During our recent trip to the Sri Aurobindo Ashram and Auroville, I had a few unforgettable experiences especially at the march-pass before the mass display in the sports ground, singing with the Om Choir and visiting Sri Aurobindo’s room on 5 Dec Darshan.

I was at first sceptical about the Om Choir. I believe in the power of Om but why it is called a choir? The answer was revealed to me during the Om Choir session held at the Savitri Bhavan.

The Om Choir of about one hundred people who were mostly non-professional singers began with singing of the first five notes of the western music major key as warming up exercises. This is to prepare our voice for singing the Om like any other athletes or singers who need warming up.

I was able to recognise the five notes of the warming up exercises because there was a structure. But when the choir started to sing, there was no structure. There was total freedom.

In western music and eastern music, musicians try to achieve freedom with improvisation. However, what they achieve is improvisation within a structure. There is no total freedom.

Because there is no structure, each member is free to sing the Om in any pitch and no one is able to sing “out of tune”. Yet, there is harmony. This is the mystery of the OM Choir.

Another mystery is that I discovered that the sound I heard that evening was more beautiful than any other I have heard before.

My wife asked me, “Is the music from the CD player?”

I had another strange experience. After listening to the music, I chose a pitch to sing the Om but the Om I produced was different from what I had prepared mentally to sing. This made me realise that the Om Choir produced music that was beyond the mind.

In Singapore, we have started the OM Choir. It will be great if we can have an annual international Om Choir meeting when one thousand people from all over the world gather under the Banyan tree in Auroville to sing the Om.

Along The Way……Reflections on the January 2013 Morning Walk

It was a fresh start to the New Year and on the first Sunday of the year on a bright sunny morning at the East Coast Park. The sea was calm, unlike what we had seen and experienced at Pondicherry the previous month, and it brought to mind all the great experiences that we had by the beach in Pondy. About 15 people had come for the walk. It was great to catch up with members of the society especially after the year end break, and I shared my experiences in Pondicherry with those who were unable to attend the retreat. Surrounded by joggers, cyclists and campers, the park had a vibrant atmosphere that made the walk a pleasant experience. Along the way, we saw a mass exercise session in one of the open field areas as well. On our way back to the starting point, we met the others who had joined us for the walk slightly later.

After we concluded the walk, we proceeded to Nisha Aunty’s house for the meditation and brunch. This was the first time that I was meeting many people after the retreat in December, so I got to catch up with many people. One of the main topics of discussion was about the O-level results that Pradeeptha and Vishnu were due to receive in 4 days. A regular feature of the January brunch over the years has been the cake-cutting for Vishnu’s Birthday, which falls on January 2nd. As we watched Ananya, Anjali, Sophia & Deepika thoroughly enjoying themselves with the cake cutting and the celebrations, I thought to myself that the Society has a wonderful new set of cute kids who would be doted upon over the next decade. As they say in sports, it is time for us to step back and let the young talent take over the field. We enjoyed a sumptuous brunch and took leave of Aunty and Ashish.

- Pranav

December-January Sunday Activities at Centre – A glimpse

6 January 2013: Reading of “The Mother and Sri Aurobindo on themselves” and OM Choir

It was the first Sunday of the first month of the New Year. There was a beautiful walk as part of our Monthly Walks in the morning. A few of us gathered at the Centre in the evening after the walk and brunch in the morning.. After the Opening Meditation, a prayer from ‘Prayers and Meditations’ was read out. After this, we picked up copies of the book “The Mother and Sri Aurobindo on themselves”. We read out 2 pages from this precious book which gives us an insight on what The Mother and Sri Aurobindo wrote about their own lives. After a brief discussion, we all formed a small circle for the OM choir around a candle glowing in all its glory. We had a quick voice exercise session and then began offering our best OMs in a group. The harmonious OMs offered have a beautiful calming effect on all of us present.

13 January 2013: Talk by Jared Quek- “The Kingdoms of the Little Mind-Part 1”

The second Sunday is when we have been having talks by Jared at the Centre. The topic this time was “The Kingdoms of the Little Mind”. As always, we were each given a handout with precious excerpts from ‘The Life Divine’. Jared started with a very comprehensive analogy to help us all understand “The Evolution of Man”. He spoke about how man, after having made his place for himself in the physical and vital world of earth, now has that little bit of leisure required to consider his farther possibilities of art, music, aesthetics etc. With the help of this background, we started on our journey of traversing the different facets of the Mind. We began with the lowest sub-plane of the intelligence—The Physical Mind. Here, one is the physical man who attaches most importance to the most objective things—food, shelter, sleep etc. and to his outer life. Man is most comfortable in this zone, with little or no ambition. He has a mental part also, but this too is traditional, customary and objective. We then moved on to the Vital Mind, the basis to life. The Vital Mind is the one which is dynamic, vital, nervous, capable of desires, emotions and many such things. It is the Vital mind which drives a leader of any magnitude. This triggered off an interesting discussion on how and which mind we mostly spend our day-to-day lives in.

20 January 2013: Talk by Jared Quek- “The Kingdoms of the Little Mind -Part 2”

This being the Third Sunday, we were to continue the talk on “The Kingdoms of the Little Mind”. Today, we were to deal with the next topic—The Mental Mind. Jared quickly summarised what was discussed the previous Sunday for the benefit of people who were not present the previous Sunday.

He gave a simple yet powerful analogy comparing the human mind to a Radio set. The Radio is nothing without the battery which powers it, just as the Human Body is nothing without the life and spirit in it. The Radio can have the capability to tune to just one essential frequency. Similarly, we can just live with the Physical Mind, in our comfort zone, with no aim or aspiration. The Radio may be advanced enough to tune to other frequencies. Likewise, we can tune our minds to be in the Vital, Mental etc. Not to forget that the Physical mind is still present in us and shall manifest itself from time to time.

After this, he spoke about how the more complex a personality, the higher the state of mind, illustrating this with examples such as geniuses like Leonardo Da Vinci, Sri Aurobindo etc., who have multiple facets to their personality.

The Mental Mind is above the level of vital mentality and is a mind-plane of pure thought and intelligence. The thinker, philosopher, scientist, dreamer, idealist, to name a few, are all under the influence of the Mental Mind. He is powerful enough to control and harmonise his nature and lay it forth as a mental ideal.

After reading the excerpts and discussing them, we sat down for our Closing Meditation.

- Preethi

Higher Mind

Its superiority lies in its capacity to open to the Divine Light.

- The Mother

Common Name: Yellow Bells

Botanical Name: Tecoma stans

Spiritual Name: Higher Mind

From the Editor's desk

We start the new year, 2013, with an 18-paged issue of our Newsletter. Having explored the physical, vital, mental as well as the psychic aspects of our being, we move on to explore regions above the mind, here the torch which can lead our way forward through an enlightened reason. However reason has to give way to aspects of the being above and beyond reason if one were to climb further up the ladder of consciousness. The theme that we touch upon in this issue, through the writings of Sri Aurobindo and The Mother is “Higher Mind”.

In the hierarchy of the various planes of the being, the higher mind appears situated above the mind and itself is succeeded by the illumined mind, the intuitive mind and the overmind. Above the overmind blazes the sun of the Supermind or the Supramental, a region inhabited by the Supreme, pervaded by Satchidananda, whose intensity, it is constantly stated, this mind, in its present state, cannot even imagine. From the higher mind onwards, one enters the realm of the higher worlds as opposed to the lower worlds represented by the triple worlds of mind, vital, physical and the subconscient and the inconscient.

A good portion of the Newsletter has been devoted to reports on our landmark trip to Pondicherry as a society with 25 people from Singapore to mark the Society’s 40th Anniversary. The trip was also timed to coincide with our Sunday Walk, the 328th, which became a special walk in Auroville. This walk gets a good airing in this edition of our Newsletter together with the walk in Singapore which nevertheless continued, to cater to all those who could not make it for the trip for some reason or other. Many more activities, some planned, some unplanned, miraculous came our way in Pondicherry/Auroville. The beach experience was one such. The strong waves piled on us one after the other and even a casual sitting posture on the beach sand some distance away from the water mark was altered considerably as waves hit us and threw us gently upon the sand. We received the waves with glee and some amount of reticence but standing there, with co-travellers, holding one another’s hands and experiencing the moments brought us closer. This must stand true with everyone on that journey to the seat of a sadhana we have all been drawn to, the place where the presence of those we have accepted as our Guides remains strong.

These few days must have touched a chord in all of us. First, we were united as a group, moving about space together, experiencing together, questioning and learning together. This trip also marks another milestone for the Society. What is in store for us next, as a group embracing the principles of integral yoga and somewhat attempting to practice it in our own ways, in our own places, both individually and collectively?

We left Pondicherry with renewed aspiration to build in our midst opportunities and the environment that will enable us to progress together in the yoga, individually and collectively, internally and externally. There is a sense of the renewal of energies that are to be directed towards making for ourselves a progressive setting and a brighter future that brings us from stage to stage of the ladder of consciousness that Sri Aurobindo has mapped out for us.


In Nihil’s gulf his mighty Puissance wrought;

She swung her formless motion into shapes,

Made Matter the body of the Bodiless.

Infant and dim eternal Mights awoke.

In inert Matter breathed a slumbering Life,

In a subconscient Life Mind lay asleep;

In waking Life it stretched its giant limbs

To shake from it the torpor of its drowse;

A senseless substance quivered into sense,

The world’s heart commenced to beat, its eyes to see.

In the crowded dumb vibrations of a brain

Thought fumbled in a ring to find itself,

Discovered speech and fed the new-born Word

That bridged with spans of light and world’s ignorance.

In waking Mind, the Thinker built his house.

A reasoning animal willed and planned and sought;

He stood erect among his brute compeers,

He built life new, measured the universe,

Opposed his fate and wrestled with unseen Powers,

Conquered and used the laws that rule the world,

And hoped to ride the heavens and reach the stars,

A master of his huge environment.

Now through Mind’s windows stares the demi-god

Hidden behind the curtains of man’s soul:

(Savitri, Book 10 Canto 3)

Sri Aurobindo on the Higher Mind

I mean by Higher Mind a first plane of Spiritual Consciousness where one becomes constantly and closely aware of the Self, the One everywhere and knows and sees things habitually with this awareness; but it is still very much the mind level although highly spiritual in its essential substance; and its instrumentation is through an elevated thought-power and comprehensive mental sight - not illumined by any of the intenser upper lights but as if in a large strong and clear daylight. It acts as an intermediate state between the Truth-Light above and the human mind; communicating the higher knowledge in a form that the Mind intensified, broadened, made spiritually supple, can receive without being blinded or dazzled by a Truth beyond it.

(‘Our Many Selves - Selections from the works of Sri Aurobindo and the Mother’, Compiled, with an Introduction ,by A.S. Dalal, Sri Aurobindo Ashram, Pondicherry)

“Transformation demands a total and integral consecration. But isn’t this the aspiration of all sincere sadhaks?

Total means vertically in all the states of being, from the most material to the most subtle.

Integral means horizontally in all the different and often contradictory parts which constitute the outer being, physical, vital and mental.”

Sri Aurobindo on the Superconscient

.. there is a superconscient ( something above our present consciousness) above the head from which the higher consciousness comes down into the body…

The higher consciousness is above the ordinary mind and different from it in its workings; it ranges from higher mind through illumined mind, intuition and overmind up to the border line of the supramental

In this higher consciousness there are many degrees, of which the supramental is the summit or the source.

From the point of view of the ascent of consciousness from our mind upwards towards through a rising series of dynamic powers by which it can sublimate itself, the gradation can be resolved into a stairway of four main ascents, each with its high level of fulfillment. These gradations may be summarily described as a series of sublimations of the consciousness through Higher Mind, Illumined Mind and Intuition into Overmind and beyond it; there is a succession of self-transmutations at the summit of which lies the Supermind or Divine Gnosis.

Ancient Indian wisdom divided the human being, the microcosm, as well as the world-being , the macrocosm, into a higher hemisphere, Parardha and a lover hemisphere, Apararadha. The higher hemisphere is where the Spirit reigns perfectly and eternally; in the lower hemisphere, the Spirit is veiled by mind, life and body. Overmind is the intermediary plane dividing the two hemispheres.

(‘Our Many Selves - Selections from the works of Sri Aurobindo and the Mother’, Compiled, with an Introduction ,by A.S. Dalal, Sri Aurobindo Ashram, Pondicherry)

Sri Aurobindo on the Higher Mind, in Life Divine

Our first decisive step out of our human Intelligence, our normal mentality, is an ascent into a higher Mind, a mind no longer of mingled light and obscurity or half-light, but a large clarity of the Spirit. Its basic substance is a unitarian sense of being with a powerful multiple dynamisation capable of the formation of a multitude of aspects of knowledge, ways of action, forms and significances of becoming, of all of which there is a spontaneous inherent knowledge. It is therefore a power that has proceeded from the overmind, -- but with the supermind as its ulterior origin, -- as all these greater powers have proceeded: but its special character, its activity of consciousness are dominated by Thought; it is a luminous thought-mind, a mind of Spirit-born conceptual knowledge.

An all-awareness emerging from the original identity, carrying the truths the identity held in itself, conceiving swiftly, victoriously, multitudinously, formulating and by self-power of the Idea effectually realising its conceptions, is the character of this greater mind of knowledge.

This kind of cognition is the last that emerges from the original spiritual identity before the initiation of a separative knowledge, base of the Ignorance; it is therefore the first that meets us when we rise from conceptive and ratiocinative mind, our best-organised knowledge-power of the Ignorance, into the realms of the Spirit: it is, indeed, the spiritual parent of our conceptive mental ideation, and it is natural that this leading power of our mentality should, when it goes beyond itself, pass Into its immediate source.

(‘The Life Divine’ (10th ed.), , pp.939-940)

The Foundations of Psychological Theory in the Veda

Two types of hymns exist in the Veda, which raises two questions:

a) Where the idea of the ‘yajna’ or of the victim is openly symbolical.

b) Where the veil is quite transparent.

Case i) Whether the hymns were later compositions just to develop a symbolism of an initial stage and generating out of old superstitious practices.

Or Case ii) An occasional plainer statement of a sense carefully veiled by the figure.

Case i) need only to be accepted if there were no constant recurrence of psychological passages. However, Sri Aurobindo found, not in isolation but in the whole hymns containing large number of verses, that the psychological sense prevailed and coherency continued from verse to verse.

Having realised thus, Sri Aurobindo proceeded further by a perfectly straightforward and natural method of interpretation based on the surface meaning of the words and sentences. But at one stage he came to an element in which the surface meaning had to be overridden. Here he thought that even with the utmost care no one can always be sure of hitting the right clue and the just interpretation. In order to set a process for this, he deals in great detail the following features of Vedic symbolism.

1. Vedic sacrifice (yajña):

a) Persons who offer b) Offerings & c) Fruit of the offerings

2. System of the worlds

3. Function of the Gods

a) Persons who offer: -

The main person who initiates and performs the ritual is called ‘Yajamāna’. If yajña is the action consecrated to gods, he is the doer of the action and giver of the sacrifice. Yajña is works, internal or external, and the Yajamāna is the individual living soul with personality engaged in the sacrifice. However, there are also ‘Officiating Priests’. There given names are Hotṛ, Adhvaryu, Udgāta & Brahma (their functional details are given below) and they represent Rig, Yajur, Sama and Atharva Vedas, respectively. What could be their part in the symbolism? When we suppose a symbolic sense for the sacrifice, we must also give a symbolic value for each feature of the ceremony.

Sri Aurobindo found that the gods were continuously spoken of as priests of the offering and in many passages it was clearly a non-human power or energy that presided over the sacrifice. He also perceived that throughout Veda, the elements of our personality are continuously personified. By simply applying this rule inversely, he supposed that the person of the priest in the external figure, represented in the internal activities figured, a non-human power or energy or an element of our personality.

To fix the psychological sense of the different priestly offices, he found that the Veda itself presented a clue by philological indications. For example ‘Purōhita’- in its separated form with the sense of the representative ‘put in front’. Also, constant reference is made to the god ‘Agni’ who symbolises Divine Will or Force. He is the action behind in all consecration of works.

Officiating Priests (also called ‘Ritvik’) : There are four orders or groups of these ‘Ritviks’ in the soma yāga (worship) viz., Hotṛ, Adhvaryu, Udgāta and Brahma. Each of these groups has four ‘Ritviks’ making a total of 16. The function and the significance of the terms applied to the main four priests are described here.

i) Hotṛ priest: He is the one who summons. Being the first of the four, he recites the ‘riks’, accomplishes summoning of the Gods and brings to proximity their presence. The import is clear in the inner sacrifice. Such a hota or hotṛ is no human but a Divine priest. The brāhmana books consider the divine being to be the real priest or purōhitā, placed in front.

• The yājñikās speak of the three worlds, Earth, Sky and Heaven, as the supporters in front, and of Agni, Vayu and Āditya as the purōhitās placed in front.

• Aitareya school hold: “He who knows the three purōhitās and three purodhās (those who are placed and those who place in front), that person is the purōhita ”. The meaning here is - “Only he who realises that the function of the purohita to be really of the Gods, is fit to be a ‘priest’. Incidentally this clearly serves to illustrate that such profound truths can be found in the so called ritualistic texts such as Brāhmana books. Unfortunately, this was not even considered by the modern translators of the Veda.

• God Agni is praised as ‘divine ritvik, hota in the front’ in the very first rik of the Rig Veda. Seer ‘Madhuchchandas’ is credited for this. And it is this Agni who is sung hundreds of times in the Veda as the messenger of the Gods. Being the closest to the mortals he is the ‘Immortal in the mortals’. It will be of interest to go through this important verse in some detail:

agnim ile purohitam (1) yajñasya devam ṛtvijam (2)
hotaram ratna dhatamam (3)

Word for word meaning: Agni I adore, placed in front (1), the God of Yajña, ṛtvik or one who has the ecstasy of Truth (2). He is the summoning priest and he activates (in human beings) the dormant ecstasies excellently. (3)

Purport: “I aspire intensely for Agni, the adorable, the leader who carries out the yajña. He does and also gets the yajña done in due time. He, as the summoning priest, is capable of bringing in Gods to the yajña performed. He establishes excellent felicities in the aspirant”.

Composed several millennia earlier, we can recognise the seed of the Vedantic thought. For instance, Agni is himself the priest and Agni is also the deity called for. He actively helps the human aspirant in the march towards perfection. We see here the idea of, ‘worshipping the spirit by spirit ’, later developed extensively as the ‘Yoga of Knowledge’. In the ‘Bhagavad Gita’ (Chapter 4 and verse 24), it is stated that “Brahman, the supreme principle, is the offering in yajña, Brahman is the sacrificial fire, Brahman is the thing offered ......”

ii) Adhvaryu priest: Adhvara means Journey. Being the second priest, he takes his stand on the Yajur Veda. He sees to the performance of the yajña by means of the yajus, leads the other ritviks in accordance with the manual of yajña. He is the active chief functionary on whom the entire performance of sacrifice rests. He will take charge of the physical details of the sacrifice too, like measure the ground, build the altar, prepare the sacrificial vessels, fetch wood and water and to light the fire. He too is god, Mātarishvan-Vāyu, who as the life breath of the world makes all activities possible.

The inner significance: It bears on the deity of all of our vital or prāṇic energy, Life-God, Vāyu (the Adhvaryu), who executes in the inner sacrifice all actions favourable to the activity of the Gods. Though the word Adhvara means sacrifice, yajña, is described as a journey or pilgrimage. The diligent Adhvaryu is he who desires or takes to such an Adhvara journey. Among all the Gods in the form of ritviks, it is he who carries out all the actions in the journey signified by the term Adhvara.

All the vital and nervous activities of the human being fall within the definition of Prana, and belong to the domain of Vayu. Rig Vedic hymns describing Vayu are not many. However he is always in common with Indra or the Maruts, the children of Vayu.

A verse on Vayu as an example: (Credited to the Ṛishi Ula Vatayana)

vata a vatu bheṣhajam (1) shambu mayobhu no hṛde (2) praṇa ayugumṣhi tariṣhat

Meaning: May Vayu breathe into hearts (hṛde) a balm (1) which is healing and brings happiness (2). May he prolong our lives (3)

c) Udgata Priest: The Udgāta delights the Gods by chanting the mantrās from Sāma Veda Samhita. In the inner sense, he is God Āditya. His role is special in the major soma sacrifices, by singing in praise of the invigorating properties of ‘soma pavamāna’, the freshly pressed juice of the soma plant. He reverberates with his chant of music, or the lofty song udgīta which is pleasing to all the Gods. He averts the many dangers, harms and lapses from the yajamana, and makes him self-restored and finally leading him on to Immortality, Truth and Ānanda.

A verse on Surya (Aditya) as an example:

udu tyam jatavedasam devam vahanti ketavaḥ (1) dṛshe vishvaya suryam (2)

Meaning: The all-knowing Sun God, is carried up by the rays of wisdom (1), so that all may behold him (2).

Here, we are not referring to the Sun we see in the sky. Surya in the Veda primarily stands for the Supreme Divine Sun. This Surya is reserved for his passive aspects as the body of infinite light. The physical solar orb seen in the morning is considered by the Seers as a physical symbol of the great God head, the beginning and end of all the Gods. This spiritual Sun, carries the human to the highest state of consciousness, from the ocean of inconscience or tamas.

d) Brahma Priest: He is the superintendent and witness of the entire sacrificial ceremony and gives his sanction for the commencement of the ritual. He also gives the word of assent. OM (O yes) at the appropriate moment and place. He will not move from his seat, always silent and guards the sacrifice to its very end. He protects against every sin of commission and omission, of deficiency or excess of mantra or any untoward action in the ritual. The person representing this priesthood is from the school of Atharva Veda.

The inner sense - He is the God of the mantrās and in the Veda, the mantra is also known as Brahma. Hence Brahmaṇaspathi is the deity presiding over the mantra. The causal material of all metrical mantra is praṇava, known by the symbol OM, the word of assent. It is this deity that sanctions in supreme silence the inner yajṇa of the yajamāna by a single syllable, at the beginning, at the end and all through. This deity, known as Gaṇapathi in Rig Veda itself, is identified in the Purāṇa with the elephant-face God, the tusk of the elephant representing the word OM. He is the remover of all the obstacles in the path.

b) Offerings: – Also called ‘dravya’ or substances of offerings. These are also to be understood symbolically. Like the derivation of names of Ritviks giving us the symbolic meaning of Gods in the inner ‘yajna’, so too for the substances that are offered to the Gods in the ritual. Even things like ‘ghṛta’ (ghee or clarified butter) that belongs to the ‘yajamāna’ are symbolic and are to be grasped through the meaning of the component parts of the terms.

A few illustrations showing as to how one ‘common root word in Sanskrit’ gives several derived terms: From the root word ‘Ghṛ ’ which means ‘to shine’ comes three different words ‘gharma’- heat, ‘ghṛni ’- ray and ‘ghṛta’- ghee or clarified butter or the yield from the cow. Hence in the symbolic sense ‘ghṛta’can be interpreted as ‘brilliance of an inner grace and Light indicating knowledge’.

In Sri Aurobindo’s own words, an explanation for sensing the inner meaning of a verse, whose literal translation goes thus: “Ghṛta or clarified butter dropping from heaven or dripping from the horses of Indra or dripping from the mind”:

“Obviously, this was grotesque nonsense, if the sense of ghṛta as clarified butter was anything more than a symbol used with great looseness, so that often the external sense was wholly or partly put aside in the mind of the thinker. It was possible of course to vary conveniently the sense of the words, to take ghṛta sometimes as butter and sometimes as water and sometimes as manas or the mind, sometimes as food or a cake. But I found that ghṛta was constantly used in connection with the thought or the mind, that heaven in Veda was a symbol of the mind, that Indra represented the illuminated mentality and his two horses double energies of that mentality and even that the Veda speaks plainly of offering the intellect (manīṣa) as purified ghṛta to the gods - “ghṛtam na putam maniṣam”. The word ghṛta counts also among its philological significances the sense of a rich or warm brightness. It was by this concurrence of indications that I felt justified in fixing a certain psychological significance for the figure of the clarified butter. And I found the same rule and the same method applicable to other features of the sacrifice”.

But what is a ghee-pouring mind? What the Rishi means here is a "mind pouring the light" - the clarity of an enlightened or illumined mind. It is the inner Flame.

To summarize, the yield of the cow, that stands for the brilliant light indicating knowledge and intimately belongs to yajamana, should be taken as offering to the Gods. Similarly other substances like ‘ havis’ (an oblation to fire) what all are offered to the Gods and eaten by ‘Agni’ are also outwardly symbolic of knowledge, action, happiness, etc.

Let us take the literal translation of another verse: “.... they smashed the hill with the cow.” Sanskrit word ‘adri ’ has two meanings a) hill or b) force or beings of inconscience and ignorance. Since ‘go’ also stands for knowledge the esoteric meaning would be that the forces of ignorance were overcome by the forces of knowledge.

Or from another similar verse; “.....they smashed the hill with their sound”. Here the sound is referred to ‘the mantra’ - Meaning the forces of ignorance were destroyed by the power of the mantra.

c) Fruit of the offerings (Phala)

Sri Aurobindo explains in psychological terms the two chief fruits of the Vedic sacrifice - viz., wealth of cows and wealth of horses. Each cow (‘go’) stands for a particular light or knowledge. For him, the enigmatical ‘Vedic cow’, could not have come from an earthly herd. Coming from the ‘Cow of the Sun’ and ‘Cow of the Dawn’, they should mean ‘Light’or ‘Divine knowledge’. The horse (‘ashva’) stands for the vital energy which the ‘devas’ can bestow. Hence both of them are symbolic of the richness of mental illumination and abundance of vital energy.

By inference, all the other fruits always associated with these two chief ones, they too must have psychological significance. Examples – gold, offspring, men, physical strength, victory in battle.

To prove the above possibility, Sri Aurobindo analysed a number of passages, where all the surrounding context was psychological and only the image of the cow interfered with material suggestion.

In the passage “Indra is invoked as the maker of perfect forms to drink the wine of ‘ Soma’; drinking he becomes full of ecstasy and a giver of cows; then he can attain to his most intimate or his most ultimate right thinking, then we question him and his clear discernment brings us our highest good”. Here these cows neither can be material herds nor capable of giving physical Light, as they do not fit into context.

Usha, the Dawn, is described as ‘ gomatī, aṣvavatī; and the Dawn gives to the sacrificer horses and cows. As applied to the physical dawn gomati means bringing the rays of light and is an image of the dawn of illumination in the human mind. Therefore, aṣvavatī too cannot merely refer to physical steed; it must have a psychological significance. Upon study of the Vedic horse, Sri Aurobindo concluded that go and aṣva represent two companion ideas of Light and Energy, (Consciousness and Force). In fact for the Vedic and Vedantic mind these are the twin aspect of all activities of existence. Thus the entire yajña or Vedic sacrifice, with all its limbs need to be understood this way.

(to be continued)

- C. Krishnamurthy (

November-December Sunday Activities at Centre – A glimpse

2 December 2012 - OM Choir

It was the first Sunday of the month. This was a special month as were having 2 walks simultaneously, one in Pondicherry, and one in Singapore—commemorating 40 years of the Society’s existence in Singapore. A few of us gathered at the Centre in the evening after the walk at Bukit Batok Nature Reserve. After the Opening Meditation, a prayer from ‘Prayers and Meditations’ was read out. Once done, we all formed a small circle for the OM choir around a candle glowing nice and bright. We had a quick voice exercise session and then began offering our best OMs in a group. The Overpowering calm that engulfs us while chanting the OM in a group is indescribable and is to be experienced.

5 December 2012 - Darshan Day - Sri Aurobindo's Mahasamadhi Day

It was a Darshan Day - Sri Aurobindo's Mahasamadhi Day. There was a special meditation at the Centre in the evening. The evening started with an Opening Meditation, after which we read out a Prayer from ‘Prayers and Meditations’. The Darshan message was read out aloud a couple of times so that we could absorb the golden words to our best capacity. We formed a circle and read a few pages of the ‘Savitri’. We silently reflected on the significance of the Darshan Day during the Closing Meditation.

9 December 2012 - Talk by Jared Quek- “The Planes of Existence-Part 1”

The second Sunday is when we have been having talks by Jared at the Centre. The topic this time was “The Planes of Existence”. As always, we were each given a handout with precious excerpts from the book. The first plane to be dealt with, during the talk, was The Material Plane. Jared started the talk with a simple question: What are the limitations we face in the Material World. It is not tough to answer this question, simply because the question is about us and the plane we live in, atleast most of the time. There were different answers from all of us: Death, Pain, Greed, Attachment etc. And “These limitations of his power, knowledge, life, delight of existence are the whole cause of man’s dissatisfaction with himself and the universe”. This sparked off an interesting discussion on other facets of the Material Plane. We wound up the discussion with a Closing Meditation.

16 December 2012 - Talk by Jared Quek- “The Planes of Existence-Part 2”

This being the Third Sunday, we were to continue the talk on “The Planes of Existence”. Today, we were to deal with topics such as “The Vital Plane”, “The Mental Plane”, “The Supramental Plane” etc. Jared quickly summarised what was discussed the previous Sunday for the benefit of people who were not present the previous Sunday. To start off, Jared posed an interesting question of how we quintessentially distinguish between living things and non-living things. This brought in a variety of answers. He took the example of a table present at the Centre and brought out the various differences.

“We are normally not aware of the vital world because we use only our corporeal senses and live almost wholly in the body and the physical vitality and the physical mind, and it is not directly through these that the life-world enters into relations with us.”

After reading several such enriching enlightening excerpts and discussing them, we came to realize that these planes are several layers/sheaths present in our being. It is important to traverse the depths of each plane before we hit the next higher plane. With this pearl of wisdom in our head, we sat down for our Closing Meditation.

Trip to Pondicherry in Commemoration of The 40th Anniversary of the Sri Aurobindo Society, Singapore, Reminiscences and Reflections – Part 1

From the diary of Shashilal Kashyap…..

The Sri Aurobindo Society, Singapore, decided to celebrate its 40th Anniversary by a series of events, the most significant being the trip by some of its members to Pondicherry. This took place from 30th November to 5th December 2012 and about 25 members participated. It took us about half an hours pleasure ride to reach or destination

In 1993, the Society had also made a similar trip with over 30 participants. The 100th walk took place there at that time. It was time for the 328th walk to take place in Auroville, during this trip.

The trip this time was indeed very memorable, full of exciting programmes throughout the stay. The preparations started some months back and followed through meticulously by some of our members.

The programme was very varied and we met a lot of people both at the Ashram as well as in Auroville.

Most of us stayed at the “Retreat Hotel” just adjacent to the Sri Aurobindo Society House. It was strategically and centrally situated, comfortable and very reasonably priced.

Upon our arrival the very first programme was to go for meditation in the late evening at the Samadhi. The place was very crowded with several Ashramites and us. There was pin drop silence throughout the meditation.

The next day was indeed very busy with various activities especially in the morning. We gathered at the Society House where we met Mr. Pradeep Narang and Mr. Manoj Das both of whom gave very interesting talks. This was followed by myself making a DVD slide presentation showcasing photos depicting the activities of the Sri Aurobindo Society Singapore from 1985 to 2012. Being fond of taking photographs, I have in my possession over 4,000 photos of our activities. However because of time constraint I had to carefully select the most important and interesting ones totalling just over 400. The presentation of these photos alone took almost 40 minutes.

The third day was again busy. We boarded the bus in very early morning and arrived at Auroville for a small breakfast before starting our 328th Morning Walk which took us right up to Matrimandir. While in Singapore I had been suffering from a lower back pain which some what resisted my movements. However I was so surprised that I was able to walk for almost 40 minutes up to Matrimandir without any pain. It was almost miraculous.

The visit to Matrimandir and especially the Inner Chamber was indeed the supreme highlight of our trip. Some of us were not sure if we would be allowed to go to the Inner Chamber because the regulations there were that they only allowed visitors to go there on the second visit and not the first. However after some negotiations all of us without exception were specially allowed to enter the Inner Chamber. The ambiance and feeling inside the Inner Chamber is very wonderful indeed, full of strong spiritual vibrations. I came out of the Chamber very emotionally charged.

The visit to Matrimandir was followed by a lunch at the Solar Kitchen, Auroville, hosted by Devdutt and Varsha. The venue was huge and it was meant for communal dining by the people settled in Auroville. I was told that the population of Auroville was over 2400.

In the evening we all went to the Sports Ground. On 2nd December every year there is a very special show lasting almost 3 hours in which a very large number of persons young and old participate in various sports activities. The Mother used to witness the whole show from a special stand. The empty chair where the Mother sat was still there for everyone to see. It was a very good experience watching the whole show which was conducted with great precision and grandeur.

The next day 3rd December in the morning we made a visit to Sri Aurobindo Room and also did meditation. It was a strongly charged spiritual experience to be in the actual room where Sri Aurobindo had spent so many years of his life doing intense yoga and writing profusely.

We adjourned to the Society House to hear a lecture and then adjourned for collective lunch at the Dining Hall. Taking lunch there was another unforgettable experience. The place is where many of the Ashramites take their breakfast, lunch and dinner. One can buy a coupon for all three meals for a total of only Rs 20/-. The meals comprise basic but highly nutritious food.

The next programme was a trip by bus in the afternoon to a lovely beach which was a few kilometres away from where we lived. It was indeed as good as a beach could be with clean lovely sand and very high waves. Everyone was in a mood to get into the water some fully clothed. Others were busy taking photos.

For dinner we were in a nice place called The Atithi Hotel. Dinner was hosted by Sundari. It was incidentally her 59th birthday and we celebrated it in style and good food.

We were now coming almost to the final phase of our trip. The fifth day 4th December was again quite active. Lunch was hosted at a beautiful restaurant by Anjana and Kalu Sarkar. We then took the bus to Auroville to visit a farm operated by Laxman Behn. It was indeed a large farm and after the tour we were taken to a shop within the farm to purchase all kinds of packaged food items including essential oils. From there we drove to “Savitri Bhavan” a very beautiful eomplex. One of the highlights of our visit there was to participate in the “Om Choir”. We were all well acquainted with a background experience of the Choir as we have done this several times at the Singapore Centre. However to do the same for almost forty five minutes with a much larger audience of almost seventy participants comprising residents of Auroville with well-trained voices and us was quite another experience.

The final sixth day of our trip concluded with a very early morning visit to Sri Aurobindo room. It was Darshan Day which comes only once a year. After that we all were on our own to organize and return back to Singapore.

To sum up, it was indeed a very deep spiritual journey for all of us. We went to the very source where Sri Aurobindo and the Mother spent their life. We together participated in so many activities. Besides the spiritual experience the trip also created a strong bond between the participants like a large extended family. I feel that those who did not join this trip have indeed missed out on a very wonderful experience.
Shashi Lal Kashyap

From the diary of Pradeeptha…..

Never had any of my previous visits to Pondicherry been as memorable as this trip had been. Sri Aurobindo Society Singapore has been an integral part of my life. So visiting the Ashram with so many of our members was a beautiful experience. The whole atmosphere of our first gathering near the Samadhi for meditation brought about in me a sense of calm. On the second day, while watching Sashi uncle’s presentation of photos from our society’s many walks and activities, I was reminded of how much I had grown as an individual – from the one and a half year old that I had been on my first walk to the sixteen year old that I am now.

Some amazing experiences for me were our trips down to Savitri Bhavan for the OM Choir and to “Stillness” where we met Maggi (who used to be Mother’s personal secretary). Also Sports Display had been an entirely new experience for me. Here in Singapore schools, we simply had Sports Day where the final rounds of the various games would take place and a particular House would emerge overall champion. There it had been a parade of sorts with music being a fundamental part of the display. While they had some typical sports like Football, Athletics, and Gymnastics they also had segments like Movements on Platform and other dance routines in their sports day display.

Whether it was the meditation at the Maatri Mandir or simply laying down on the grass at the beautifully designed garden of Park Guest House, the trip gave me so many opportunities to pause and think of what I had accomplished and what I wanted to continue doing in my life. This visit would certainly be one that I would not forget.

- Pradeeptha

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

This month's walk was a truly unique one.

For the first time, it was held almost simultaneously at two different places, nearly 2000 miles apart. The first group had it at Pondicherry while the second group had it at Bukit Batok Nature Park, Singapore. The first is an account of the Bukit Batok walk, hosted by Mr. Ramanathan and family and the second, an account of the walk held in Auroville, hosted by Varsha and Devdutt.

Singapore walk

The walk began with a salutation to the sun followed by a round of exercising. We then commenced our walk on the rugged terrain of the nature park. This park is one of the smaller but more scenic ones in Singapore. Historically too, it is significant because of the memorial made by the Japanese as a commemoration for soldiers who died in World War II. The park, developed on an abandoned quarry, offers several interesting vistas for the nature lover. For example, there is a deep blue pond at the foot of a cliff. The paths in the park also tend to be steeper than most parks. The top of the park has a transmission tower which is near the war memorial.

We walked till the top after which we came across a green patch of jack fruits trees. We stood silently for a minute, listening to the sound of birds chirping. There was no other sound, and, for a moment, we felt that we were not in Singapore but a faraway grove. Moments like these make the walk truly remarkable.

Post-the walk we all made our way to Kiruthika's and Adrian’s house which was a couple of kilometers away. We found a beautiful flower arrangement awaiting us. We all sat down for silent meditation. Afterwards, Shailaja aunty read out the birthdays and anniversaries for the month. Post this, we had a sumptuous brunch consisting of both South Indian and European food. It was pleasantly surprising to have a large turnout at this walk, considering that so many of our regular members were at Pondicherry.

This is a very positive sign for the Society's future and hope we have an even larger participation the next time.

- Saurab

Auroville walk

On this special Sunday morning, the bus, with all of us (numbering about 30) on board left the lane near The Retreat at 6.45am and headed towards Auroville via the less crowded morning roads of Pondicherry. The skies were already promising good weather. We arrived in Auroville forest at about 7.15am. We proceeded to have our breakfast of idlies with sambar and chutney first, before starting our walk at 8am.

It was a special experience to walk in Auroville that morning. Eric, an Aurovillian, initially from France and a very good friend of the Singapore Society led the way, letting us into sweet secrets of the forests mindfully. We were deep into the forested area, far away from traffic noises of civilisation. Only the sound of nature reached us, very gradually flooding us. Occasionally, buildings architectured in ways different from buildings we see in towns and cities and even villages rose before us and seemed to fade away into the leaves as we proceeded further. To even think that one was on the ground designated by The Mother to manifest human unity, an integral feature of divine life itself, marking out 328th walk in commemoration of 40 years of the Society’s existence brought about a dance of awe and then of gratitude in the stage of the heart. Such was the atmosphere of the place. As we continued walking, as one’s breathing got deeper and deeper, the silence from the outside also infused within. There was a lightness within and lots of energy. A wideness was there that one would normally not experience in a cluttered landscape with high rise buildings built back to back. One wondered of the effect of nature on one’s psychology and the greater effect possible with a constant communion with Her.

We could walk for only 45 minutes, as other activities were lined up for us. Awaiting us was a trip into Maatri Mandhir for meditation. We fell into the queue outside the main gate leading to Maatri Mandhir at 9am and gradually made our way towards the Maatri Mandhir, The Temple of the Mother, the Soul of Auroville. A deep silence pervaded the compound immediately around the golden globe. The Divine Tree or the Banyan tree as it is commonly called was there, tall and robust, as usual beckoning us into her silent and warm embrace. In the garden surrounding Maatri Mandhir – and many were still under construction, still in the making - , on the many trees around, creatures made their presence known in varied ways. A gaiety reigned, joy and happiness were there and a deep reverence for Nature and Spirit. We walked quietly towards the Maatri Mandhir and soon found ourselves in the inner chamber. What a bang! Silence came to us with a big bang! In that silence we settled and most of us probably managed some moments of pure silence. The experience in the inner chamber, if described, is bound to suffer distortion, It would suffice to say that each lived his high and rich experience, whether known or unknown to his conscious being. The Mother had said that Maatri Mandhir is open to all those who sincerely wanted to learn how to fall silent within. We were offered one opportunity that morning.

After about half an hour, we streamed out to learn that all twelve petals were open for meditation that morning. This was a miraculous news for those of us accustomed to having seen one or two out of the twelve petals open most of the visits and sometimes, none. We went in and sat in selected petals or all, according to our hearts’ desire. Finally we gathered around the Lotus pool at the base of the golden globe. The breeze was streaming in from all the openings and in the middle was the centre-piece, with many petals arranged concentrically with water streaming over them and reaching towards the centre. Sitting there with the rest and observing the smooth movement of water over the tiles of petals was a mesmerising experience. It felt as if all in one was running towards the centre, offered to the centre for purification. It left one closely with oneself, thoughts did not arise as frequently and if they did, they did not touch the centred being within. Emotions and feelings were at a standstill, or rather, they seemed elevated, only with the moment’s experience. There was much gratitude arising from within but directed to nothing in particular. One left the scene feeling quite purified and wished for a prolongation of this state or its repeat.

Lunch was enjoyed in Solar Kitchen, known for its harvesting of Solar power utilised for the process of most of the cooking that goes on there. There was an interesting spread of food, both Indian and continental, all served with goodwill and enjoyed with gratitude.

At about 1pm, we boarded the bus, heading back to Pondicherry. It was a most significant walk for most of us, not only because it was the 328th walk of our 40th Anniversary but also because of what Auroville had in store for all of us, individually and collectively and offered to us without reserve.

- Jayanthy