Guiding Light of The Month

THERE is a great difference between being in the midst of active work, of external action, while keeping one’s thought constantly fixed on Thee, and entering into that perfect union with Thee which leads to what I have called “absolute Consciousness, true Omniscience, Knowledge”. - The Mother

A note on Aswapathy’s yoga

From the legend we know that Savitri was born to the queen of Aswapathy as the result of a boon by the Goddess Savitri. Here the poet introduces Aswapathy and while explaining the cause of Savitri's birth asserts that her birth was compelled by "a world's desire". Savitri had to take mortal birth in order to meet the intense desire of a whole world. The subsequent portion of the poem up to the end of the third book deals with the vast background which compelled her birth.

Aswapathy's character as a seeker of the Divine and as an adept of the great spiritual and mystic realisation of the past gives us a wonderful picture of man's growth from mental consciousness through various intermediate stages to the Supreme Divine Mother Consciousness.

"The Yoga of the Soul's Release" is the subject of this Canto. Here for the first time it becomes clear that this great epic deals with the spiritual odyssey of the soul. The poet here openly discloses himself as the poet of divine life by beginning in this Canto the song of the soul's liberation. The whole poem becomes the song par excellence of man's growth on earth from the inconscient through the vital and the mental stages to the realms of the Spirit, the realms of the Divine. It is the epic of man's ascent from level to level of consciousness rising from world to world, from peaks of mind to the peaks of the spirit till he reaches the supreme Divine and by his unfailing aspiration invokes the Divine to descend into himself so as to create divine life on earth. But this cannot be so long as human soul is tied like an animal with the triple cord of mental, vital and physical ignorance to the sacrificial post in the vast cosmic sacrifice to be offered as a victim. As long as human consciousness lives in the ego, lives subject to desire, conflict, dualities, suffering and pain, so long he cannot fulfil' the deepest longing and the highest aspiration of his being. He must liberate himself from the bondage of ignorance. The first release comes to man when he can go beyond his animal propensities, when he can free himself from the reign of desire and wake up to some ideals in his life. Therefore, we see Aswapathy,—who symbolises man as the Lord of Life,—waking to the higher potentialities of his nature: he is "a thinker and toiler in the ideal's air". It is in his conception and pursuit of higher intellectual, moral and spiritual ideals that man begins to fee! that he is not merely an animal driven by the goad of hunger and thirst and a slave of desires, but that he has come to this earth from some higher spiritual plane,—at least, that there is something in him which is free from the inertia, inconscience, grossness and coarseness of earth nature and is akin to the pure Spirit. Aswapathy felt that he was "a colonist from immortality", and as such he tended to grow towards, or into, the likeness of his spiritual Self. In this intense aspiration to grow into the likeness of spiritual being "his mind was like a fire assailing heaven".

Aswapathy's spiritual growth began by his realising that the external being of man is not the whole of himself. There are hidden "celestial powers" in man, immense spiritual potentialities lie dormant in the human being. There is an immortal ineffable Spirit in man that creates here the forms for his own manifestation. It is that spirit that "in the worm foresees the coming god". It sees the finite that is actual and knows the infinite that is potential and even' certain. It is when man accepts his higher possibilities of spiritual life that he is able to outgrow his present state of ignorance, leave behind him the limited planes of his mental, vital and physical consciousness and rise beyond them. Then, like Aswapathy, he "Arrive on the frontiers of eternity". He who has heard this call of the Beyond is unable to remain satisfied with the ordinary life of ignorance. His heart seems to be smitten by "a beam of the Eternal", and his mind wants to expand into Infinity. When he succeeds in realising his aspiration then the Divine begins to work overtly in him.

Then a different government of his nature begins for the individual. The divine power that descends in him begins to “turn this frail mud-engine to heaven-use". The insignificant human being is utilised by the divine for a divine purpose. Aswapathy found then that the whole movement of cosmic evolution which appears on the surface like a purposeless activity of the inconscient is in reality controlled by a secret Craftsman who works from behind the veil of ignorance to realise here "his dreamed magnificence of things to be". He saw that "a. mystery of married Earth and Heaven" was a part of the divine dream. He saw the vision of the divine life on earth and henceforth he became a seer, and he knew that he was here as "a shining Guest of Time" from Eternity. After the vision of the Truth to be realised here Aswapathy's limited mind became boundless, his little ego-self completely disappeared, "The island ego joined its continent". He was liberated from the yoke of the laws of Nature's ignorance, from the limitations of the intellect. Before him "there gleamed the dawn of a spiritual day”.

After this spiritual awakening "Humanity framed his movements less and less". It was no longer possible for him to allow the human elements in him to govern his life, and to accept as final the limitations of human nature. He awoke in himself latent powers, faculties that lay dormant in him—powers of pure perception, intimate vision, and also of spiritual experience. He could know the motives, ideas and wishes in other men and he felt also world thought-streams running into his own mind. He could hear secret voices and the "Word that knows". He came in contact with planes of consciousness other than the consciousness of the earth and contacted beings on occult planes. In fact, his consciousness ceased to be limited in the individual nature, and began to widen out into the cosmic. He voyaged from plane to plane till he came to the end of the world of symbols and signs.

From there he crossed beyond into the world of the Formless where there is no object cognizable either by the sense or by the thought. There he found that the whole world became a single Being which felt everything as its own Self. There
"The Supreme's gaze looked out through human eyes
And saw all things and creatures as itself".
There "...oneness is the soul of multitude". It was a realm of knowledge in which eternal calm prevails. It is a realm where one experiences boundlessness;
"While there, one can be wider than the world;
While there, one is one's own infinity”.

With this experience Aswapathy entered a still Consciousness that sustains all, and a peace that passes all understanding. There he found all contradictions of life resolved, sorrow, pain and conflict ceased, because there the Truth was living its own real life. He, thus, realised the origin of the spirit and established his being in the Infinite and his life upon the Eternal. When he looked at the world from his new spiritual poise he saw that the world was only "A small result of a stupendous force". But the ordinary instruments of human nature are incapable of supporting these higher states of being. They hanker after their normal littleness, they want to go back to their petty activities. The gravitational pull of the lower consciousness brings down the consciousness from its height and, at times, man sinks even lower than the normal consciousness during such periods of downward movement. But even these periods of spiritual set-backs are utilised by the Divine within for his own work and are made to contribute to man's growth. The lower ignorant nature of man also has got to receive the divine in order to undergo a change, otherwise soul alone would reach its perfection and nature remain imperfect and earth unfulfilled. He found that, at times, the higher consciousness came down like rain from above, sometimes a flood of illumination descended and he could retain the Light for longer periods. During these periods of ascent and descent, his being was integrated in the process and attained complete equality, tranquil purity, serene strength and lasting peace. He also saw that this tranquillity, was not merely a static condition, but a dynamic power which helped the toiling world by its silent working. He saw from the height of his spiritual consciousness a new self-creation
"A transfiguration in the mystic depths,
A happier cosmic working could begin
And fashion the world-shape in him anew,
God found in Nature, Nature fulfilled in God.”

The light of this higher consciousness penetrated his lower consciousness, or the lower parts of his nature. And knowledge used to come to bun by an act of intuition.

Inspiration also came down into him often in silence. The closed Beyond was opened with "A stab of flame". When the light of intuition came, the mind overlapped itself and his spirit pursued knowledge like a hound. The sparks of intuition and lightnings of inspiration led him to and gave the knowledge of the various realms of the Infinite, and though he saw the play of ignorance and chance in the world, he saw also, through the veil, and comprehended, the world-design behind its outer appearance. He saw the logic of the infinite Intelligence working in. the finite ignorance. In fact, he saw the origin of the world as it is in the spirit— the Divine builder in sleep behind the world. Beyond his plane of inspiration, he could glimpse the Overmind.

When inspiration came down into him, it was like a divine messenger coming with its own rhythm. Sometimes like a bliss pouring down, or a wordless thought, an all-seeing ray, or at times the closed Beyond was opend with "a stab of flame". At other times it became an eye that awakes in trance, or he felt as if inspiration was plundering the vast estate of the Superconscient for him. It became a "gleaner of grains" or worked like a "sheaf-binder" gathering up parts of knowledge and making them into a whole. At times it worked as a reporter, or like a hound pursuing knowledge. It opened the vision of the Truth or brought the word of the Supreme. Its action made Aswapathy comprehend the world-design and behind the apparent working of chance he saw the unfolding of a world-idea.

In the light of his spiritual experience he saw the tree of cosmos supported by the Spirit. He knew the original divine Desire that gave rise to this creation. He could then understand the wisdom that permits this long game of evolution and even feel the Love that sanctions these workings. From his height he saw that the energies of the lower nature had many occult and spiritual powers hidden under their ignorant workings which, if awakened, would be a very precious acquisition for man. He felt a divine presence and greatness everywhere. This universe became
"...a living movement of the body of God."
The world was a conception and a birth of Spirit in matter from where rose
"The divine Dwarf towered unconquered worlds".
His spirit was the witness-spirit and
"Existence a divine experiment
And cosmos the soul's opportunity."
All the suppressed powers of the subconscient and the ignorant instruments of Nature began to blossom into manifestation in him.
Thus, was he released from ignorance. Knowledge of the Divine poured upon him from above and world-knowledge welled out from within "Lonely his days and splendid like the sun's."
All his actions sprang out of Light and all his thoughts referred to the True and the One. He saw other worlds, other forms, other gods, other beings and he deafly experienced that his life had emerged from the Divine. Now, his only work in life was to help mankind by raising it to this higher level and "Feeling earth's smallness with their boundless breadths," and for this "He drew the energies that transmute an age."

(Sri Aurobindo’s Savitri, An approach and a study, Sri Aurobindo Ashram Trust, Puducherry)

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