Guiding Light of The Month

THE result of all my reflections of yesterday is the finding that the only disturbance I experience comes from my fear of not having been or of not being perfectly identified with Thy law. - The Mother

The Avatar



Above the painting, The Mother wrote....

                                                                     The Avatar
                                                                   Sri Aurobindo

- 2nd February, 1940

(painting by Champaklal)

From the Editor’s Desk

This is the second of the two editions on Sri Aurobindo commemorating his 141st Birth Anniversary. In this issue, we continue with the article written by Swami Shuddhananda Bharati. We also take a look at excerpts from two letters exchanged between Sri Aurobindo and Mahatma Gandhi, with the latter requesting for an audience with Sri Aurobindo, who declines. Sri Aurobindo’s cryptic reply to Gandhiji is worth a read. The topic of the “vow of abstinence” is particularly insightful, albeit amusing, and shows up on the markedly different views of the two. We also include in the pages to follow some expressions of sadhaks who came face to face with Sri Aurobindo during darshans. 

These articles are timely reminders to us to explore within ourselves what the approaching Darshan Day means to each one of us. On the larger external  front, Darshan Day unites all the children of Sri Aurobindo and The Mother across the world in spirit and we thrive in knowing that the air is indeed filled with a certain joyous vibration, a subtle feeling of some connection with Sri Aurobindo, with everyone around us, the air is filled with some divine perfume and a particular silence suffuses, more than on other days. The heart is at peace and a certain joy dances around and everyone who passes one is deserving of a hug. Then there may be some of us who experience none of these but feel a monotonous bareness and emptiness, a state in which nothing really matters. Or the day could be as any other.

Then, what does the Darshan Day really mean to us in the internal spheres, away from the surface movements, deep, deep down in our own cores.

As one looks forward to the approaching day, something in the consciousness may gather itself and focus on these questions and other links may start forming - on Sri Aurobindo’s birth anniversary, his birth, his entry into one’s life in a quiet, spectacular way – and something happens inside. A quick succession of existential questions later, one may plunge into another realm that barely surfaces. One is all too familiar with this self, the secret self that none sees or is allowed to see, however it may be from time to time. Sri Aurobindo seems to certainly have access to this space and we communicate often, very often, sometimes about him, and usually about oneself and one’s raison d’etre. One may be brought face to face with the questions of the purpose of one’s existence. Then an opening comes, as if in prayer. The being kneels down and asks the Lord of the secret space for guidance in walking the maze that is one’s life, seemingly, to ask for Light where all is pitch dark and to ask for a refreshing life breath to live a meaningful life, befitting him who occupies that secret space within. This Darshan Day certainly fuels the flame of aspiration, nurtures the seeds within those who want to become trees, reaching out to the light from the Sun.
Sahana Devi succinctly summarises the significance of Darshan Days : “It brought to us the golden opportunity to reach out to the unattainable. He (Sri Aurobindo) instilled into us something that no one else could. Thus, as the Darshan Day approached, our minds too, leaned to a self-gathering, with a view to receiving rightly.”

It seems very much in place that a self-gathering of this heap called “oneself” be made and placed at the foot of the master to be made good.

Savitri


Life was a marvelous journey of the spirit,
Feeling a wave from the universal Bliss.
In the kingdom of the Spirit’s power and light,
As if one who arrived out of infinity’s womb
He came new-born, infant and limitless
And grew in the wisdom of the timeless Child;
He was a vast that soon became a Sun.
A great luminous silence whispered to his heart;
His knowledge an inview caught unfathomable,
An outview by no brief horizons cut:
He thought and felt in all, his gaze had power.
He communed with the Incommunicable;
Beings of a wider consciousness were his friends,
Forms of a larger subtler make drew near;
The Gods conversed with him behind Life’s veil.
Neighbour his being grew to Nature’s crests.
The primal Energy took him in its arms;
His brain was wrapped in overwhelming Light,
An all-embracing knowledge seized his heart:
Thoughts rose in him no earthly mind can hold,
Mights played that never coursed through mortal nerves:
He scanned the secrets of the Overmind,
He bore the rapture of the Oversoul.
A borderer of the empire of the Sun,
Attuned to the supernal harmonies,
He linked creation to the Eternal’s sphere,
His finite parts approached their absolutes,
His actions framed the movements of the Gods,
His will took up the reins of cosmic Force.

(Savitri, Book 2 Canto 15)

The Mother’s Explanation of Sri Aurobindo’s Symbol



The descending triangle represents Sat-Chit-Ananda.

The ascending triangle represents the aspiring answer from matter under the form of life, light, love.

The junction of both- the central figure – is the perfect manifestation having as its centre the Avatar of the Supreme- the lotus.

The water- inside the square- represents the Multiplicity, the Creation.



"Sri Aurobindo came to tell us: "One need not leave the earth to find the Truth, one need not leave life to find his soul, one need not abandon the world or have only limited beliefs to enter into relation with the Divine. The Divine is everywhere, in everything and if He is hidden, it is because we do not take the trouble to discover Him."

Sri Aurobindo – Vast like the Blue above and the Blue below (contd.)

The following is a continuation of the article on Sri Aurobindo and his Yoga compiled from the book, ‘The Yoga of Sri Aurobindo’ by Swami Shuddananda Bharati. The first part was featured in our July 2013 issue. ‘The Yoga of Sri Aurobindo’ is one of the books selected and preserved for future generations in the Crypt of Civilization in the U. S. A., to be opened six thousand years hence.


His flaming aspiration to see God face to face is revealed to us in one of his most popularly known letters. He was mad after God and divinity. Perfect was his faith, and unreserved his surrender to the Highest Divine.

The ardent aspiration of Sri Aurobindo to see God face to face was fulfilled during his one year’s tapasya in Alipore Jail:

“His strength entered into me and I was able to do the Sadhana of the ‘Gita’… to be free from repulsion and desire, to do work for Him without the demand for fruit, to renounce self-will and become a passive and faithful instrument in His hands, to have an equal heart for the high and low, friend and opponent, success and failure… He made me realize the central truth of the Hindu religion.. It was while I was walking that His strength entered into me..”

It is in the ‘Arya’, the veritable Gospel of Poorna Yoga, the one wonderful work that deserves to be the scripture of the present and the coming humanity, started after four years of silent Sadhana, that we meet the Superman, the God-man, the Poorna Yogi that Sri Aurobindo is.

Every sentence of Arya, so rhythmic, so well-balanced, so replete with the Spirit’s highest promises, so eloquent with its divine optimism, deserves to be inscribed in the heart of humanity in letters of gold.

 “To know, possess and be the divine being in an animal and egoistic consciousness, to convert our twilit or obscure physical mentality into the plenary supramental illumination, to build peace and a self-existent bliss where there is only a stress of transitory satisfactions besieged by physical pain and emotional suffering, to establish an infinite freedom in a world which presents itself as a group of mechanical necessities, to discover and realize the immortal life in a body subjected to death and constant mutation.”

This is the limitless scope of his wonderful synthetic Yoga and its fulfillment in his entire preoccupation. To divinize man and heavenise existence, to universalize the individual, to be God in man and godlike in God’s universal play- this is the ideal with which he was born.

(concluded)

Reproduced from :‘Mother India’, August 1997

(‘All India Magazine’ Dec 1997, “The Greatness of the Great”. Sri Aurobindo Society, Pondicherry)

Darshan Days at the Ashram – Some reminiscences

August 15th every year is celebrated as one of the Darshan Days at the Sri Aurobindo Ashram, Pondicherry, August 15thbeing Sri Aurobindo’s birthday. This August, we celebrate Sri Aurobindo’s 141st birth anniversary. The following is an extract from K. R. Srinivasa Iyengar’s book, ‘On The Mother’, and speaks of the experiences of sadhaks, receiving blessings from Sri Aurobindo and The Mother, on DarshanDays at the Ashram.


For the sadhaks and disciples, the Darshan days came to acquire the character of milestones on the great journey to the Supramental Light and Force. There was hope and high expectancy in the air, the small room on the first floor of the Meditation House where the Darshan was to take place came to be decorated with loving care, and for the Ashram they were festive days as also days of fulfilment. "Each Darshan in our life," wrote Sahana Devi, "was an experience, nearly a supra-realisation." From Darshan to Darshan the heart yearned once again for the mystic face, the magic touch, and when another Darshan day dawned over the Ashram, there was a new elation and joy:

It brought to us the golden opportunity to reach out to the unattainable. He (Sri Aurobindo) instilled into us something that no one else could. Thus as the Darshan day approached our minds too, leaned to a self-gathering, with a view to receiving rightly.

And here is Narayan Prasad's remembrance of these regular occasions of benediction and grace:

To each the Master gave a penetrating and gracious look and then blessed him .... In those days the Master's Grace would rain over us like Amitabha Buddha's. As through glass windows the things in a room are visible, so the Master's yogic eye would penetrate our being and read our possibilities. Newcomers would return with a new energy to fight the battle of life.

The Sri Aurobindo-Mother-sadhak relationships in the Ashram acquired a focus and a clarification at the time of the Darshans. Although the sadhak could see the Mother daily, when he saw her on a Darshan day sitting by side of Sri Aurobindo, it was an enriching and revealing moment for him. On one such occasion, in August 1934, Nirodbaran "felt a great dryness", instead of the expected Ananda, Force or Light. On the next Darshan, in November, Nirod thought that it was Shiva he was seeing, and felt Ananda too, and "these happy impressions and recollections were with me vividly for 2 or 3 days. Then I found that all that consciousness has evaporated - and I have passed these days most passively, without any strong aspiration. But I marked that there was no depression." On yet another occasion, while Nirod found Sri Aurobindo "grave and austere", he found the Mother smiling seraphically. But a more vivid index to Nirod's opening and reception is his poem:

A moment's touch - what founts of joy arise
Running through dull grains of my life's dead sands
Like a cool stream where once never was shade!
The finite for this one moment brief drinks
The Infinite.

Kapali Sastry's notes are brief but suggestive. Thus, after the Darshan on the Mother's birthday in 1936: "Sri Aurobindo gave recognition-smile. The Mother was gracious, putting a seal on his blessings." Again, on the same day next year:

“The Mother looked long into me with a very benign smile and blessed me longer while my right cheek rested on her lap. Sri Aurobindo, majestic as usual, but not serious.”

Darshan was always a seminal moment, an act of divine insurance, a moment in time and out of time when something that was truly timeless was sought and won. About the sort of instantaneous effect the Darshan could produce there is this testimony by a visitor:

One look of Sri Aurobindo at a man's heart, and it is conquered. There is a lustre in his eyes that infuses itself into the soul of man and sets it aflame. The flame goes on growing in intensity. He puts into the heart of man the flower-seed of Divine love that is sure to grow.

Such, then, were the gains of the Darshan for the sadhaks, disciples and visitors who filed past Sri Aurobindo and the Mother, and received the touch of their palms as the concrete symbol, as the electric currency, of their benedictions. It was certainly worth waiting for weeks, months and (with some) even for years; - but when would they be vouchsafed that grace again?

(‘On The Mother’, Chapter 25, K.R. Srinivasa Iyengar Sri Aurobindo Society, Pondicherry)

The Mother’s first meeting with Sri Aurobindo



In 1914, Mirra (later The Mother) voyaged to Pondicherry to meet Sri Aurobindo. After disembarking at Colombo, Mirraand Paul Richard (Mirra’s husband) reached Pondicherry in the early hours of March 29, 1914. While approaching, the Mother had a vision of a huge column of light in the centre of Pondicherry and there was such a change in the physical quality of the atmosphere that she knew they were entering the aura of Sri Aurobindo. They met Sri Aurobindo on the very same day in the afternoon, and everything changed. The Mother saw in front of her the Krishna of her vision, who had been guiding her all along. She knew immediately that her place and work were at his side, here in India.

The next day The Mother wrote in her diary:

“It matters little that there are thousands of beings plunged in the densest ignorance, He whom we saw yesterday is on earth; his presence is enough to prove that a day will come when darkness shall be transformed into light, and Thy reign shall be indeed established upon earth.”

- The Mother, 30thMarch, 1914.

Sources : http://www.sriaurobindoashram.org and http://www.aurosociety.org

Mahatma Gandhi’s letter to Sri Aurobindo & Sri Aurobindo’s reply to Mahatma Gandhi


Not many people are aware of the fact Mahatma Gandhi had visited Pondicherry on 17 February 1934. Ever since his return to India from South Africa in 1915, he was desirous of meeting Sri Aurobindo. For the purpose of arranging a meeting with Sri Aurobindo, the Mahatma had written to Govindbhai Patel, a follower of Sri Aurobindo who was initially associated with him. But when the permission for an interview was refused by Sri Aurobindo, the Mahatma wrote directly to Sri Aurobindo on 2 January 1934.

Below we take the opportunity of sharing with you a portion of the letter Mahatma Gandhi had written to Sri Aurobindo and Sri Aurobindo’s reply to him dated 7 January 1934.

Mahatma Gandhi’s letter to Sri Aurobindo

…Perhaps you know that ever since my return to India I have been anxious to meet you face to face. Not being able to do that, I sent my son to you. Now that it is almost certain that I am to be in Pondicherry, will you spare me a few minutes &see me! I know how reluctant you are to see anybody. But if you are under no positive vow of abstinence, I hope you will give me a few minutes of your time…

Sri Aurobindo’s reply to Mahatma Gandhi

Dear Mahatmaji,

It is true that I have made no vow, for I never make one, but my retirement is not less binding on me so long as it—and the reason for it—lasts. I think you will understand that it is not a personal or mental choice but something impersonal from a deeper source for the inner necessity of work and sadhana. It prevents me from receiving you but I cannot do otherwise than keep to the rule I have adhered to for some years past.

( Source :The above article has been sourced in it’s entirety from : http://savitrieradevotees.blogspot.in/2013/06/sri-aurobindos-letter-to-mahatma-gandhi_2808.html )

July Sunday Activities at Centre – A glimpse


7th July 2013 – Readings of The Mother’s words from “Steps to Freedom and Mastery” and OM Choir

About five of us gathered at the Centre this day. Following the reading of two prayers from The Mother’s ‘Prayers and Meditations’ by Ganesh, we settled down to make ourselves a little more receptive to our inner world, even if on the fringe. We continued with the reading of The Mother’s writings that direct us inwards. On this day, we began with a new book that contains The Mother’s and Sri Aurobindo’s writings on going within and “Becoming Conscious”.  This book will be used during our 1st Sunday evening sessions for the next many weeks. The book is entitled ‘Steps to Freedom and Mastery’, a compilation of Sri Aurbindo’s and The Mother’s work by A.S. Dalal. The book contains 6 parts, of which Part 2 is on “Being Conscious – The First Step”. What does being conscious really mean? What does it entail? What is its importance in our lives? We may be able to find some answers to these questions in the next few months and practice some practical steps for our inner growth. To this effect, we read the first five passages meditatively, as far as this was possible. We then settled for our OM chanting. Narad’s voice exercises, recorded in CD format, were played and then we started with our OM chanting. It is amazing that a single syllable should have such a noticeable effect on our being. A quietness inevitably creeps in with each chant of the OM. And OM in collectivity is another ball game altogether. But again, inevitably, it has all the potential for a harmonious working amongst everyone who forms the circle.

14th July 2013 - Talk by Jared Quek- “The Ascent to Supermind-Part 3”

Two prayers from The Mother’s ‘Prayers and Meditation’ were read by Shailaja. Then Jared began the day’s session by summarising what was done in the previous month on the 2nd week, namely, The Higher Mind. Though the higher mind is the closest to our current mind of cognition which is said to operate on the level of ignorance, by no means can it be assumed to be within easy reach and functioning in our normal day to day live. We started the current session with the next level of mind, The Illumined Mind. Sri Aurobindo writes about this plane, “a play of lightning 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 characterise or accompany the action of the larger conceptual-spiritual principle, a fiery ardour of realisation and a rapturous ecstasy of knowledge.” (‘The Life Divine’, Pg. 978-979)

We can only contemplate silently on these mega lines from Sri Aurobindo’s illumined and vast and crystal clear consciousness.

21st July 2013 - Talk by Jared Quek- “The Ascent to Supermind--Part 4”

This session concluded the series of talks conducted by Jared on aspects of the Yoga. We went through the nature of the Overmind first. Like the rest of the levels of consciousness, this too was the manifestation of The Mother herself. This is the region linking the lower worlds to the high Supramental. When the Overmind descends into the human receptacle, there is a subordination of the “ego-sense”. There is a “wide cosmic perception and feeling of a boundless universal self ..”. It is a centre of luminosity, like the sun. However, what is it that distinguishes this from the Supramental? Sri Aurobindo provides the answer, “In the terrestrial evolution itself the Overmind descent would not be able to transform wholly the inconscience.” Of the Supermind, this is what he has to say in comparison, “The liberation from this pull of the Inconscience and a secured basis for a continuous divine or gnostic evolution would only be achieved by a descent of the Supermind into the terrestrial formula, bringing into it the supreme law and light and dynamis of the spirit and penetrating with it and transforming the inconscience of the material basis.” (pages 988, 989 of ‘The Life Divine’).

We appreciated that it was this point that differentiated integral yoga from the other traditional systems of Yoga.

This was a wonderful evening, when we contemplated together on the necessity of the Supramental Change.

- Jayanthy

Along the Way……Reflections on the July 2013 Morning Walk


It was a nice, bright Sunday morning, and another occasion to gather for our monthly Sunday Walk. This time, we had something really special to look forward to, as the venue for the Walk was a new place. It was to happen at the Punggol Promenade Riverside Walk. Since Punggol is on the East, and since there aren’t too many high-rises around the River, it tends to get extremely bright and sunny, hence, our thoughtful host, Sanjay, had advised us to come prepared with our hats/sunglasses. Most of us were first-timers at the place and were trying to soak in the complete experience of our first glimpse of the Riverside. The Promenade was alongside the river Sungei Serangoon. At the backdrop of the river is this huge patch of greenery with a lot of nice big green trees. The entry point was Picture Perfect. We decided to capitalize on the backdrop and took a couple of pictures, after which we started the Walk.

This riverside promenade has a separate track for cyclists and joggers. On one side of the tracks, you have the river flowing by peacefully, and on the other side, you have a lot of beautiful flowering plants, with flowers of different colors, dotting the place. As we walked, at our own paces, we caught up with different people. There were many Lookout Points along the track which enabled us to have a closer look at the river. Each of these Lookout Points also had something educative—a map with the names of all the reservoirs in Singapore, a write-up about the ecosystem at the Reservoir and a note about Reducing, Reusing and Recycling. The information was tastefully displayed. There were many steel installations on the way, which were artistic as well as utilitarian, as they typically had chairs beneath them, providing shade as well as a spot to sit and relax for anyone who chose to. All in all, the place had something new and fresh about it, which made us all feel good and rejuvenated. Once done with the walk, we proceeded to our hosts’ (Sanjay, Ami and Akash) place in Tampines. We started off with the Opening Meditation. After reading out the Significance of Birthdays (according to The Mother), and the names of people who were to celebrate their birthdays/anniversaries in July, we had a cake cutting session for our dear Akash, followed by a delicious, healthy brunch cooked lovingly by Ami. I am already looking forward to the next month’s Walk.

-          Preethi Saroja

Remembrance of Sri Aurobindo

 

Let us strive to realise the ideal of life he has set before us.
- The Mother

Common Name:Edging lobelia

Botanical Name:Lobelia erinus

Spiritual Name: Remembrance of Sri Aurobindo

From the Editor’s Desk

Affiliated to cosmic Space and Time
And paying here God’s debt to earth and man
A greater sonship was his divine right.

These are lines from the epic poetry of ‘Savitri’, penned by Sri Aurobindo. These lines alone appear the most appropriate, in this instance, to describe one of his magnitude and stature. In observation of Sri Aurobindo’s 141st Birth Anniversary on 15th August 2013, we dedicate two issues, July and August, to contemplate on Sri Aurobindo, his birth, his life and its meaning in the larger scheme of things. In this issue, we particularly pay some attention to the perception of two noted personalities on Sri Aurobindo.

One of them is Swami Shuddananda Bharati, who wrote ‘The Yoga of Sri Aurobindo’ and which book has been preserved for future generations in the Crypt of Civilisation in the USA, to be opened six thousand years hence. We present an excerpt of his writings in this issue. Swami Shuddhananda Bharati’s life spanned from 1897 to1990, twenty-five years of which he spent in silence in Pondicherry. He was awarded the highest Tamil literary award, Raja Rajan, from the Thanjavur Tamil University for his ‘Bharata Shakti’ which he wrote during this 25 years of silence in Pondicherry.
(from http://www.christianpiaget.ch/centre/anglais/Association/Shuddhananda _Bharati. .pdf).

The next personality is Nobel Laureate, Rabindranath Tagore. Tagore met Sri Aurobindo twice. The first meeting was in 1907, after which he dedicated a poem, ’Namaskar’, to Sri Aurobindo,. We reproduce here the English translation by Kshitishchandra Sen as ‘Salutations’.

The second meeting took place in 1928, after 21 years, when Sri Aurobindo was already into seclusion and he made an exception to meet him as soon as he learnt that Tagore had halted in Pondicherry on his way to Europe. They met for only a few hours. After this meeting, Tagore wrote his tribute to Sri Aurobindo which too is re-produced in this edition. Here is a quote from the article, which explains it all, summarising the two momentous meetings of 1907 and 1928:

“Years ago I saw Aurobindo in the atmosphere of his earlier heroic youth and I sang to him,

"Aurobindo, accept the salutation from Rabindranath."

Today I saw him in a deeper atmosphere of a reticent richness of wisdom and again sang to him in silence,

"Aurobindo, accept the salutation from Rabindranath.”

As we sink into the sweetness of the experiences of Sri Aurobindo in two souls entrenched in an ardent quest for the Spirit, we may be able to hear a poignant whisper sounding in our own depths. If we pursue this whisper, it may reveal to us the secret of our contact with Sri Aurobindo, hero, visionary, master, guide and what all we may take him to be. There is something exceedingly special in finding this out, in knowing it, however we may choose to.



Savitri

But all is screened, subliminal, mystical;

It needs the intuitive heart, the inward turn,

It needs the power of a spiritual gaze.

(Savitri, Book 1 Canto 4)


Far-wandering seekers on the Eternal’s path

Brought to these quiet founts their spirit’s thirst

And spent the treasure of a silent hour

Bathed in the purity of the mild gaze

That, uninsistent, ruled them from its peace,

And by its influence found the ways of calm.

One souled to all and free from narrowing bonds,

Large like a continent of warm sunshine

In wide equality’s impartial joy,

These sages breathed for God’s delight in things.

Assisting the slow entries of the gods,

Sowing in young minds immortal thoughts they lived,

Taught the great Truth to which man’s race must rise

Or opened the gates of freedom to a few,

Imparting to our struggling world the Light

They breathed like spirits from Time’s dull yoke released,

Comrades and vessels of the cosmic Force,

Using a natural mastery like the sun’s:

Their speech, their silence was a help to earth.

(Savitri, Book 4 Canto 4)

Question of the month

Q: Many people say that the teaching of Sri Aurobindo is a new religion. Would you say that it is a religion?

A: The Mother:People who say that are fools who don’t even know what they are talking about. You only have to read all that Sri Aurobindo has written to know that it is impossible to base a religion on his works, because he presents each problem, each question in all its aspects, showing the truth contained in each way of seeing things, and he explains that in order to attain the Truth you must realise a synthesis which goes beyond all mental notions and emerge into a transcendence beyond thought.

So the second part of your question is meaningless. Besides,if you had read what was published in the last Bulletin ("What Sri Aurobindo represents in the world’s history is not a teaching, not even a revelation; it is a decisive action direct from the Supreme." Bulletin of Sri Aurobindo International Centre of Education, April 1961, p. 169), you could not have asked this question.

I repeat that when we speak of Sri Aurobindo there can be no question of a teaching nor even of a revelation, but of an action from the Supreme; no religion can be founded on that.

But men are so foolish that they can change anything into a religion, so great is their need of a fixed framework for their narrow thought and limited action. They do not feel secure unless they can assert this is true and that is not; but such an assertion becomes impossible for anyone who has read and understood what Sri Aurobindo has written. Religion and Yoga do not belong to the same plane of being and spiritual life can exist in all its purity only when it is free from all mental dogma.

- 26th April 1961

Sri Aurobindo – Vast like the Blue above and the Blue below


The following article on Sri Aurobindo and his Yoga is compiled from the ‘The Yoga of Sri Aurobindo’ by Swami Shuddananda Bharati. This is one of the books selected and preserved for future generations in the Crypt of Civilization in the U. S. A., to be opened six thousand years hence.

“O Fosterer, O sole Seer, O Ordainer, O illuminating Sun, O power of the Father of creatures, marshal thy rays, draw together thy light; the Lustre which is thy most blessed form of all, that is Thee I behold. The Purusha there and there, He am I.”(Ishopanishad)

It is with this rapture of the Vedic seer that a conscious heart sees Sri Aurobindo today, grand like the Himalayas, vast like the blue above and the blue below…

His has been a life moulded into the Spirit’s perfect image by the Divine within, in the illuminated passivity of utter surrender and the infinite strength of dynamic silence and inner peace.

All that the world knows of him- his brilliant Cambridge career, his distinction in the open competition for the I.C.S, his fourteen years study in England (1879-1893), his wonderful mastery of the Classical languages and the strenuous efforts he made to assimilate the Oriental genius into his profound Western culture, his unparalleled renunciation of everything that man holds dear at the flaming altar of the Great Mother, his prodigious services for the cause of National education, the dauntless hero in him who awakened the Mother-consciousness in the country and inflamed it from the press and platform to noble acts of service and sacrifice, the national prophet who voiced forth the messages of the Mother from the columns of the ‘Bande Mataram’, ‘The Karmayogin’, and ‘The Dharma’, the definite shape he gave to Nationalism and the fadeless luster he shed upon the movement for eight years (1902-1910)- all these and many more things that the public know about him are only sprays of that profound deep.

(to be continued)

(‘All India Magazine’ Dec 1997, “The Greatness of the Great”. Sri Aurobindo Society, Pondicherry)

Rabindranath Tagore on Sri Aurobindo

In a comparative study of Tagore & Sri Aurobindo, 'The Rainbow Bridge' (2007), Goutam Ghosal writes: "Tagore met Sri Aurobindo twice, very humbly, recognizing in him the light unerringly."

Tagore wrote of his significant experience in 1928 (below), and even wrote an entire poem, ‘Salutation’, dedicated to Sri Aurobindo.

"..For the great poet interprets to man his present or reinterprets for him his past, but can alsopoint him to his future and in all three reveal to him the face of the Eternal."

- Sri Aurobindo in ‘The Future Poetry’



For a long time I had a strong desire to meet Aurobindo Ghosh, It has just been fulfilled. I feel that I must write down the thoughts that have come to my mind.

In the Christian Scripture it has been said: "In the beginning, there was the Word.”.The Word takes form in creation. It is not the calendar which introduces a new era. It is the Word leading man to the path of a higher manifestation, a richer reality.

In the beginning and end of all great utterances in our scriptures we have the word Om. It has the meaning of self acknowledgement of Truth, it is the breath of the Eternal.

From some great sea of idea, a tidal wave tumultuously broke upon Europe carrying on its crest the French Revolution. It was a new age, not because the oppressed of that time in France stood against their oppressors, but because that age had in its beginning the Word which spoke of a great moral liberation for all humanity.

Mazzini and Garibaldi ushered in a new age of awakening in Italy, not because of the external fact of a change in the political condition of that country, but because they gave utterance to the Word, which did not merely enjoin formal acts, but inspired an inner creative truth. The feeling of touch, with the help of which a man gathers in darkness things that are immediate to him, exclusively belongs to himself; but the sunlight represents the great touch of the universe; it is for the needs of every one, and it transcends the needs of all individuals. This fight is the true symbol of the Word.

One day science introduced a new age to the Western world, not because she helped man to explore nature's secrets, but because she revealed to him the universal aspect of reality in which all individual facts find their eternal background, because she aroused in him the loyalty to truth that could defy torture and death. Those who follow the modern development of science know that she has truly brought us to the threshold of another new age, when she takes us across thing to the mystic shrine of light where sounds the original Word of Creation.

In ancient India, the age of creation began with the transition from ritual practices to spiritual wisdom. It sent its call to the soul, which creates from its own abundance; and men woke up and said, that only those truly live, who live in the bosom of the Eternal. This is the Word spoken from the heart of that age :"Those who realise Truth, realise immortality."

In the Buddhist age, also, the Word came with the message of utmost sacrifice, of a love that is unlimited. It inspired an ideal of perfection in man's moral nature, which busied itself in creating for him a world of emancipated will.

The Word is that which helps to bring forth towards manifestation the unmanifest immense in man. Nature urges animals to restrict their endeavour in earning their daily wages of living. It is the Word which has rescued man from that enclosure of a narrow livelihood to a wider freedom of life. The dim light in that world of physical self-preservation is for the world of night; and men are not nocturnal beings. Time after time, man must discover new proofs to support the faith in his own greatness, the faith that gives him freedom in the Infinite. It is realised anew every time that we find a man whose soul is luminously seen through the translucent atmosphere of a perfect life. Not the one who has the strength of an intellect that reasons, a will that plans, the energy that works, but he whose life has become one with the Word, from whose being is breathed Om, the response of the everlasting yes.

The longing to meet such a person grows stronger when we find in men around us the self-mistrust which is spiritual nihilism, producing in them an indecent pride in asserting the paradox that man is to remain an incorrigible brute to the end of his days, that the value of our ideals must be judged by a standard which is that of the market price of things.

When, as today, truth is constantly being subordinated to purposes that have their sole meaning in a success hastily snatched up from a mad scramble for immediate opportunities our greed becomes uncontrollable. In its impatience it refuses to modulate its pace to the rhythm that is inherent in a normal process of achievement, and exploits all instruments of reckless speed, including propaganda of delusion. Ambition tries to curtail its own path, for its gain is at the end of that path, while truth is permeatingly one with the real seeking for her, as a flower with its stem. But, used as a vehicle of some utility, robbed of her love's wooing, she departs, leaving that semblance of utility a deception.

It takes time to prove the spirit of perfection lying in wait in a mind that is yet to mature. But a cruel urgency takes the quick means of a forced trial and the mind itself disappears leaving the crowd to admire the gorgeousness of the preparation. When we find everywhere the hurry of this greed dragging truth tied to its chariot-wheels along the dusty delusion of short-cuts, we feel sure that it would be futile to set against it a mere appeal of reason, but that a true man is needed who can maintain the patience of a profound faith against a constant temptation of urgency and hypnotism of a numerical magnitude.

We badly need today for the realisation of our human dignity a person who will preach respect for man in his completeness. It is a truism to say that man is not simple, that his personality consists of countless elements that are bewilderingly miscellaneous. It is possible to denude him of his wealth of being in order to reduce him to a bare simplicity that helps to fit him easily to a pattern of a parsimonious life. But it is important to remember that man is complex, and therefore his problems can only be solved by an adjustment, and not by any suppression of the varied in him or by narrowing the range of his development. By thinning it to an unmeaning repetition, eliminating from it the understanding mind and earnestness of devotion we can makeour prayer simple and still simpler by bringing it down to a mechanical turning of the prayer wheel as they have done in Tibet. Such a process lightens the difficulty of a work by minimising the humanity of the worker. Teachers who are notoriously successful in guiding their pupils through examinations know that teaching can be made simple by cramming and hushing the questioning mind to sleep. It hastens success through a ruthless retrenchment of education.

The present-day politics has become a menace to the world, because of its barbarous simplicity produced by the exclusion of the moral element from its method and composition. Industrialism also has its cult of an ascetic miserliness that simplifies its responsibility by ignoring the beautiful. On the other hand, the primitive methods of production attain their own simplicity through a barren negation of science and, to that extent, a poor expression of humanity. We recognise our true teacher when he comes not to lull us to a minimum vitality of spirit but to rouse us to the heroic fact that man's path of fulfilment is difficult, "durgam pathas tat.".

Animals drifting on the surface of existence have their life that may be compared to a simple raft composed of banana trunks held together. But human life finds its symbol in a perfectly modelled boat which has its manifold system of oars, helm and sails, towing ropes and poles for the complex purpose of negotiating with the three elements of water, earth and air. For its construction it claims from science a principle of balance based upon countless observations and experiments, and from our instinct for art the decorations that are utterly beside the purpose with which they are associated. It gives expression to the intelligent mind which is carefully accurate in the difficult adjustment of various forces and materials and to the creative imagination that delights in the harmony of forms for its own sake. We should never be allowed to forget that spiritual perfection comprehends all the riches of life and gives them a great unity of meaning.

While my mind was occupied with such thoughts, the French steamer on which I was travelling touched Pondicherry and I came to meet Aurobindo. At the very first sight I could realise that he had been seeking for the soul and had gained it, and through this long process of realisation has accumulated within him a silent power of inspiration. His face was radiant with an inner light and his serene presence made it evident to me that his soul was not crippled and cramped to the measure of some tyrannical doctrine, which takes delight in inflicting wounds upon life. He, I am sure, never had his lessons from the Christian monks of the ascetic Europe, revelling in the pride of that self-immolation which is a twin sister of self-aggrandisement joined back to back facing opposite directions.

I felt that the utterance of the ancient Hindu Rishi spoke from him of that equanimity which gives the human soul its freedom of entrance into the All.

I said to him, "You have the Word and we are waiting to accept it from you. India will speak through your voice to the world, 'Hearken to me'."

In her earlier forest home, Sakuntala had her awakenment of life in the restlessness of her youth. In the later hermitage she attained the fulfilment of her life.

Years ago I saw Aurobindo in the atmosphere of his earlier heroic youth and I sang to him,"Aurobindo, accept the salutation from Rabindranath."

Today I saw him in a deeper atmosphere of a reticent richness of wisdom and again sang to him in silence,

"Aurobindo, accept the salutation from Rabindranath.”

- May, 29, 1928.

Salutation

Rabindranath, O Aurobindo, bows to thee !

O friend, my country's friend, O voice incarnate, free,

Of India's soul ! No soft renown doth crown thy lot,

Nor pelf or careless comfort is for thee; thou'st sought

No petty bounty, petty dole; the beggar's bowl

Thou ne'er hast held aloft. In watchfulness thy soul

Hast thou e'er held for bondless full perfection's birth

For which, all night and day, the god in man on earth

Doth strive and strain austerely; which in solemn voice

The poet sings in thund'rous poems ; for which rejoice

Stout hearts to march on perilous paths; before whose flame

Refulgent, ease bows down its head in humbled shame

And death forgetteth fear;—that gift supreme

To thee from Heaven's own hand, that full-orb'd fadeless dream

That's thine, thou'st asked for as thy country's own desire

In quenchless hope, in words with truth's white flame afire,

In infinite faith, hath God in heaven heard at last

This prayer of thine? And so, sounds there, in blast on blast,

His victory-trumpet? And puts he, with love austere,

In thy right hand, today, the fateful lamp and drear

Of sorrow, whose light doth pierce the country's agelong gloom,

And in the infinite skies doth steadfast shine and loom,

As doth the Northern star ? O Victory and Hail!?

Where is the coward who will shed tears today, or wail

Or quake in fear ? And who'll belittle truth to seek

His own small safety ? Where's the spineless creature weak

Who will not in thy pain his strength and courage find ?

O wipe away those tears, O thou of craven mind !

The fiery messenger that with the lamp of God :

Hath come—-where is the king -who can with chain or rod

Chastise him ? Chains that were to bind salute his feet.

And prisons greet him as their guest with welcome sweet,

The pall of gloom that wraps the sun in noontide skies

In dim eclipse, within a moment slips and flies

As doth a shadow.Punishment ? It ever falls

On him who is no man, and every day hath feared,

Abashed, to gaze on truth's face with a free man's eye

And call a wrong a wrong; on him who doth deny

His manhood shamelessly before his own compeers,

And e'er disowns his God-given rights, impelled by fears

And greeds; who on his degradation prides himself,

Who traffics in his country's shame; whose bread, whose pelf

Are his own mother's gore; that coward sits and quails

In jail without reprieve, outside all human jails.

When I behold thy face, 'mid bondage, pain and wrong

And black indignities, I hear the soul's great song

Of rapture unconfined, the chant the pilgrim sings

In which exultant hope's immortal splendour rings,

Solemn voice and calm, and heart-consoling, grand

Of imperturbable death, the spirit of Bharat-land,

O poet, hath placed upon thy face her eyes a fire

With love, and struck vast chords upon her vibrant lyre,—

Wherein there is no note of sorrow, shame or fear,

Or penury or want. And so today I hear

The ocean's restless roar borne by the stormy wind,

Th' impetuous fountain's dance riotous, swift and blind

Bursting its rocky cage,—the voice of thunder deep

Awakening, like a clarion call, the clouds asleep

Amid this song triumphant, vast, that encircles me,

Rabindranath, O Aurobindo, bows to thee !

And then to Him I bow Who in His sport doth make

New worlds in fiery dissolution's awful wake,

From death awakes new life; in danger's bosom rears.

Prosperity; and sends his devotee in tears,

'Mid desolation’s thorns, amid his foes to fight

Alone and empty-handed in the gloom of night;

In divers tongues, in divers ages speaketh ever

In every mighty deed, in every great endeavour

And true experience: "Sorrow’s naught, howe’er drear

And pain is naught, and harm is naught, and naught all fear;

The king's a shadow, - punishment is but a breath;

Where is the tyranny of wrong, and where is death ?

O fool, O coward, raise thy head that's bowed in fear,

I am, thou art, and everlasting truth is here."

- Rabindranath Tagore

(‘Sri Aurobindo Mandir’, 1944,Translated from the original Bengali by Kshitishchandra Sen)

June Sunday Activities at Centre – A glimpse

2nd June 2013 – Reading of “Looking from Within” and OM Choir

It was the first Sunday of the month. 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 ‘Looking from Within- A Seeker’s Guide to Attitudes for Mastery and Inner Growth’. We read out paragraphs from the chapter, “Looking at oneself and others”. The first topic in this chapter was aptly called “Discovering A Hidden Treasure”, which is what invariably happens when we look into ourselves and others. A few moments spent in skimming out the superficiality and looking within helps us in knowing the real treasure behind the fa├žade.

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.

9th June 2013 - Talk by Jared Quek- “The Ascent to Supermind-Part 1”

The second Sunday is when we have been having talks by Jared at the Centre. The topic this time was “The Ascent to Supermind”. As always, we were each given a handout with precious excerpts from ‘The Life Divine’ after the Opening Meditation.

We started off with the topic “Spiritual Steps”. This emphasized on how the spiritual evolution obeys the logic of a successive unfolding. Each and every step is as important as the previous and/or next step. There is no shortcut or bypassing to it. Each step is like the rung of a ladder—the only difference being that some of the steps can be discrete and some continuous, with the steps merging once in a while. At the summit of this ladder lies the Supermind or Divine Gnosis.

As with any kind of progress made, there are Obstructions and Obstacles on the way. The Inconscience creeps in from time to time trying to slow down our progress in the Ascent. The illumination is opposed by the Forces of the lower nature within us and around us. The real challenge lies in trying to overpower all these Forces with true aspiration for Progress.

After a quick discussion, we ended the day’s activities with a Closing Meditation.

16th June 2013 - Talk by Jared Quek- “The Ascent to Supermind--Part 2”

This being the Third Sunday, we were to continue the talk on “The Ascent to Supermind”. Today, we were to explore the next topic—The Higher Mind. Jared began by quickly summarizing what was discussed the previous Sunday for the benefit of people who were not present for the previous week’s talk.

The Higher Mind is the first and foremost step out of our normal human intelligence, wherein the level of clarity of spirit is so high that there is no slightest trace of mingled light or half-light. It is this level of mind, which is devoid of conclusion, deductions and reasons--As these are the very actions brought about by our limited reasoning capacity, as a movement of Ignorance searching for knowledge. The Higher Mind is an intrinsic Knowledge, which requires no proof or evidence or reassurance of its existence. It seeks to purify, deliver and create by the innate power of Knowledge only.

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

- Preethi

Along TheWay……Reflections on the June 2013 Morning Walk

Along East Coast Park

The bright and sunny Sunday morning of June brought us to the Walk that was held along the Tanjong Rhu Promenade running alongside the Marina reservoir.

When we reached the meeting point, we were greeted by enthusiastic cheers emanating from a game of cricket that was being played in the meadow alongside the river. Once we finished our warm-up exercises, we began walking towards the Marina Barrage. The reservoir is popular place for rowing enthusiasts and we could see a number of youngsters rowing with great energy. This sport requires a great deal of co-operation between the team members to keep up a steady pace throughout the length of the river. All through the walk, we marvelled at the strength and the zeal that the rowers showed while keeping a steady pace.

The promenade overlooks the river on one side and on the other side is the Marina Bay golf course dotted with gardens with pretty lakes & flowering shrubs. We could get a good view of the construction site of the new Singapore Stadium, Suntec City, and the Supertrees of the Gardens by the Bay. Our group kept a good pace and reached Marina Barrage in a matter of 45 minutes. With time on our hands, we decided to be a little more adventurous and instead of retracing our steps, we moved on to see where the road led to.

We walked alongside the Marina Bay sands and ended up at the helix bridge. The Helix bridge took us along the architectural marvels in Singapore like the floating platform, The Esplande, the Marina Bay Sands, the Olympic Youth Park and finally the Singapore flyer. From the flyer we walked along the Marina Promenade and while we could see our starting point on the opposite side, we realised that getting there by foot would take us longer than we anticipated.

For the first time, in the history of our walks we combined our walk with a short MRT ride on the circle line from Nicoll Highway to the Stadium station. This was the first time I rode the circle line in this route and I was awestruck with life-like posters of sportsmen displayed, that befitted the theme and purpose of the Stadium station.

Once there, we split up to Vrunda and Anand Patel’s residence for meditation followed by a sumptuous brunch that was enjoyed by all of us and charged us up after the long but satisfying walk.

- Swati