Guiding Light of The Month

To Thee, supreme Dispenser of all boons, to Thee who givest life its justification, by making it pure, beautiful and good, to Thee, Master of our destinies and goal of all our aspirations, was consecrated the first minute of this new year. - The Mother

The Quest - Journey on the path to destiny


Botanical Name: Coffea 
Common Name: Coffee
Spiritual Significance: Perfect Path


The bosom of our mother kept for us still
Her austere regions and her musing depths,
Her impersonal reaches lonely and inspired
And the mightinesses of her rapture haunts.

-          Savitri, Sri Aurobindo

From the Editor’s Desk (Jan 2018)

This newsletter edition bids a grateful farewell to 2017 and welcomes the new birth of 2018 with the theme, The Quest. This is an important Canto in Savitri. Sri Aurobindo throws light on the reason for all the trials and tribulations that Savitri goes through hereafter, in the epic poetry. Outwardly, Savitri is seen as one who leaves her palace in search of him who is meant for her. Though romance there is in this, it is not to be merely taken at face value. Since Savitri, as Sri Aurobindo declares, is a Legend and a Symbol, there is a need to look at this significant canto in its depth, from that light. Savitri is the daughter of the Sun, Light Supreme. Aswapathy is the Lord of the Horse and Satyavan is the soul carrying the divine truth of being but descended into death and ignorance. Divine in his origin, bearer of divinity, there is in him a Divine seed waiting to manifest itself in all its splendour in this human body upon this material earth. Savitri is the Light who subsequently confronts the darkness, shadow and ignorance in the guise of Death. She stands steadfast in saving the human soul from its clutches so that God may reveal Himself. Let us now take a closer look at The Quest. 

In the previous issue of the newsletter, we saw how Savitri was shown an inkling of the quest at hand. She hears the first call (or Adesh) to the quest as Aswapathy sounds it, as received from the stillness of heights above, to seek out her soul-mate so that a greater episode, of immense significance to the whole of humanity, may unfold. While giving a very vivid description of Savitri on her quest, from terrain to terrain, across changing climes, we also come to know of inner changes coming over Savitri, at the level of her Consciousness. 
Lets meditate on these lines awhile:

But as she moved across the changing earth

A deeper consciousness welled up in her:
A citizen of many scenes and climes,
Each soil and country it had made its home;
It took all clans and peoples for her own,
Till the whole destiny of mankind was hers.

Savitri remembers her past selves upon earth as she recognized each element set on this journey, with gods in attendance, as she moved to fulfill her quest. 

Traveller to a prefigured high event,
She seemed to her remembering witness soul

To trace again a journey often made.

Here are hints of Savitri’s high mission upon earth. She is no ordinary child on earth to live as others do. A fiery spirit was hers out on a mission to conquer a Divine life for humanity. 

From Savitri, the Legend and Symbol, let us now turn towards our own selves – our lives within our own spheres, both inner and outer. What is that high mission upon which we may be set upon? Is our life’s quest clear and open before us? Have we asked for it? As the bountiful year of 2017 ticks into a trickle to merge with the slowly emerging tide of 2018, let us sit together at the portal of a new birth, where the quest of our lives are known to us and where everything in the being is in readiness to open to that Light and Love and Life Divine that seek to manifest. May we all call for these more and more and be in readiness and receptivity to receive the streaming forces of Grace coming our way always.

Savitri, a journey of Love and Light


Ascending and descending twixt life’s poles
The seried kingdoms of the graded law
Plunged from the everlasting into time…
Climbed back from time into undying self,
Up a golden ladder carrying the soul,
Tying with diamond threads the Spirit’s extremes.

 (Savitri)
                                                                                           
(Meditations on Savitri, by Huta, Havyavahana Trust, Puducherry)


The world-ways opened before Savitri

From the shelter of her parents' home and city, Savitri loses herself in the wide world's unchartered ways, and feels dazzled by the unfolding panorama of "new brilliant scenes" and diverse soil and country, clans and peoples. She is a part of all she meets, the very stars and winds are her dear comrades, and she feels sometimes as though she is but tracing "again a journey often made". She sees and remembers, or she remembers and sees, and from her silent heights she can peer through the dim play of appearance. She sees multi-foliate Nature and million-hued humanity, and winds her way through the still untravelled world:

Her carven chariot with its fretted wheels
Threaded through clamorous marts and sentinel towers
Past figured gates and high dream-sculptured fronts
And gardens hung in the sapphire of the skies,
Pillared assembly halls with armoured guards,

Not populous far-famed cities only but the humbler haunts of common folk also draw Savitri's attention and affectionate gaze. The virgin silences of unfrequented hills and valleys have a deep purpose of their own for it is there the great Creatrix nurses "her symbol mysteries" and guards for "her pure-eyed sacraments":

The valley clefts between her breasts of joy,
Her mountain altars for the fires of dawn
 And nuptial beaches where the ocean couched
And the huge chanting of her prophet woods.

      Deep in the woods' recesses are the hermitages of the wise, and Savitri visits them too and studies the lives of the "strong king-sages" and their "young grave disciples". They are not as other men, but live "immaculate in tranquil heights of self"; and their ministry makes their neophytes "comrades of the cosmic urge/No longer chained to their small separate selves”. They are masters of knowledge, and "vessels of the cosmic Force"; they are pacifiers and harmonisers, and they are the healers of the "hard and wounded world". And when they lisp in numbers, they sing "Infinity's names and deathless powers/In metres that reflect the moving worlds”. Active or passive, in speech or in silence, in creation or in contemplation, these wise children of the forest help the world in its toils and guard and extend the immaculate treasures of the spirit.

      As Savitri glides in and out of these hermitages and haunts of the wise, her sensibilities are quickened still further and she feels "the kinship of eternal calm". Yet her quest keeps her moving on and on, for she is yet to find what she has set out to seek. She calls the Powers to her help, and hopes that she may not be "overwhelmed by the immensity" of the world stretching before her. Still Nature lures her on, still she wanders, gazes, communes; the crickets' cry rings in her ears, the serpentine road seems an endless coil; the desert sands are bleak, the jungle voices are eerie; yet she will persevere in her quest, however hard the earth and torridly oppressive the sky:

      The months had fed the passion of the sun
      And now his burning breath assailed the soil.
      The tiger heats prowled through the fainting earth;
      All was licked up as by a lolling tongue.
      The spring winds failed; the sky was set like bronze.


(“Sri Aurobindo’s Savitri – A study of the cosmic epic”, Dr. Premanandakumar, Sri Aurobindo Ashram Trust, Puducherry)

Flowers Speak….


Sweetness of Thought turned Exclusively towards the Divine

Lovely, joyful, sweet, and calm, sheltered from all conflicts.

August, exulting in her Maker’s eye,
She felt her nearness to him in earth’
s breast,
Conversed still with a Light behind the veil,
Still communed with Eternity beyond.
(Savitri)

***


Successful Future under the Supramental Influence


Full of promise and joyful surprises.
                                               
Upon her silent heights she was aware
Of a calm Presence throned above her brows
All was the working of an ancient plan,
A way prepared by an unerring Guide.
(Savitri)

***


Road to Divine
  
Always long, apparently dry at times, but always abundant in its results.

The mountains in their anchorite solitude,
The forests with their multitudinous chant
Disclosed to her the masked divinity’
s doors.
(Savitri)

(Flowers and messages, Sri Aurobindo Ashram Trust, Puducherry)




Happy New Year, 2018


A glamour from the unreached transcendences
Iridescent with the glory of the Unseen,
A message from the unknown immortal Light
Ablaze upon creation’
s quivering edge,
Dawn built her aura of magnificent hues
And buried its seed of grandeur in the hours.


(Savitri)

***


Bonjour! My dear little child,
I hope this day will be a good one for you with my love always near you. This is the picture of the soul coming out victoriously from all the ordeals. I want this realisation for you.

My soul silently prayed to the Mother: “Let your will be done”. It was the last day of the year 1955. So much had happened – so much was still to happen. Let us see what 1956 unfolds.

(An excerpt from Story of the soul, By Huta, Havyavahana Trust, Puducherry)

Evenings…

A few days ago, I had a glorious evening as I watched the children of Mother’s International school perform a play on Sri Aurobindo’s life. The play had the energy of passionate hearts, the spirituality and humor of his beautiful life and the calm hands of The Mother moving from one scene to the next.

A sweet flute music as of Krishna’s coming lifted the screens. On the stage was set a Bengali household and was heard the cry of a little new babe. Sri Aurobindo was born. The spirit of Bengali culture and religion was portrayed in the songs and dance that followed, it brought a joy in everyone’s hearts. His adventurous and colorful life at England came next with the poems, the joy of three brothers, their life and their friendly discussions. The audacity in Sri Aurobindo’s decision to get back to India, perhaps a passionate one, to serve the nation was shown with great vigor and fervor. A sweet smile played on our lips as we watched the scene where Sri Aurobindo interacted with the Maharaja of Baroda and a secret tear, perhaps, rolled down our cheeks when we saw him arrested and taken to jail. To watch Sri Aurobindo sit in the little cell and write the poetry ‘Who’ touched all hearts and his Uttarpara speech set everyone on an inner search.

And then, he was right there where the waves of oceans wash the feet of God, at Pondicherry, and Sweet Mother came in to hold his hands in his beautiful journey to his Divine destiny.

The day next to the play dawned with the light of The Mother. It was the day when Sri Aurobindo’s Mahasamdhi was remembered with gratitude. All day, the space was preparing for an evening that was glorious than the previous one. An evening of Savitri, meditative dance, golden lights and prayers.

The winds were chill, night was a deep velvety blue and all gathered there in the lawn. A depth of silence occupied the space and lines from Savitri were read for a meditative dance movement. Everyone carried a little diya in their hands, close to their hearts and offered it at Mother’s feet. Music and meditation ended the day and everyone ate quite happily at the dining hall.

After dinner, with just a shawl around me, the winter winds chilling my spine, I walked to the shrine lawns. It was just me and the space. The shrine was like Mother Saraswati clad in a white saree and decorated with golden jewels. The diyas were placed all around and on the lawns. It was as though golden stars had fallen from the sky on the ground and it spoke to me of something so magical, something so joyous and beautiful. It was like music.


Sandhya

November- December Sunday Activities at the Centre - A glimpse

Month of November – A self-dynamising meditation

Through the Savitri session on November 26th, we attempted to integrate most of the key events of the month. We fondly recalled the mantric recitation of the Symbol of Dawn canto by Mr. Kiran Sule while hosting us for brunch after our Nov 3rd first Sunday morning walk. We meditated on The Mother’s explanation for the Savitri’s opening line

It was the hour before the Gods awake

“There is an ancient tradition which describes the creation as done by some first emanations of the Supreme Mother, which were four emanations. In the sense and the feeling of their supreme Power, they cut connection with their Origin and became independent. And then, these emanations, being separated from their origin, entered into darkness.

The first was Consciousness, Consciousness in Light,
and by cutting Himself from His Origin He went
down and down towards Unconsciousness.
The second was Bliss and turned into Suffering.
The third was Truth and turned into Falsehood.
The fourth one was Life and turned into Death.

This happened after they came down into the vital level. When this was seen, it was decided that some second emanations would be made to repair the mistake of the first; and the second emanations were the Gods. This first line refers to the condition of the world before the Gods were born. Sri Aurobindo says, “It was the hour before the Gods awake.” – Mother’s Explanation

This formed the base for linking to our meditations of November 17th, Mother’s Mahasamadhi day and November 24th, Siddhi day. As the second emanations progressed with their mission, matter began to slowly reveal its involved life and mind. Until the emergence of mental choice, our earth was a paradise as fondly recalled by The Mother (this is with reference to our meditation on Mother’s answer to the question ‘Is it true that there was an earthly paradise? Why was man driven out of it?’ on Nov 17th.

According to what I remember, there was certainly a moment in earth’s history when there existed a kind of earthly paradise, in the sense that it was a perfectly harmonious and natural life; that is to say, the manifestation of the mind was in accord, was still in complete accord with the ascending march of Nature and totally harmonious, without perversion or distortion. This was the first stage of mind’s manifestation in material forms.

How long did it last? It is difficult to say. But for man, it was a life that was like a kind of outflowering of animal life. I have a memory of a life in which the body was perfectly adapted to its natural environment and the climate adapted to the needs of the body, the body to the needs of the climate. Life was wholly spontaneous and natural, just as a more luminous and more conscious animal life would be; but there were none of the complications and distortions that the mind brought in later in the course of its development. I have the memory of that life—I had it, I relived it when I became conscious of the life of the earth as a whole.

But I cannot say how long it lasted nor what area it covered. I do not know. I can only remember the condition, the state, what material Nature was like, what the human form and the human consciousness were like at that time and this kind of harmony with all the other elements on earth—harmony with animal life, and such a great harmony with plant life. There was a kind of spontaneous knowledge of how to use the things of Nature, of the properties of plants, of fruits and everything vegetable Nature could provide. No aggressiveness, no fear, no contradictions nor frictions and no perversions at all — the mind was pure, simple, luminous, uncomplicated.

It is only with the progress of evolution, the march of evolution, when the mind began to develop in itself, for itself, that all the complications and distortions began. So that the story of Genesis which seems so childish contains some truth.

And the symbol of the tree of knowledge represents the kind of knowledge which is no longer divine, the material knowledge that comes from the sense of division and which started spoiling everything. How long did this period last? Because in my memory too it was like an almost immortal life, and it seems that it was an accident of evolution that made it necessary for forms to disintegrate... for progress. So, I cannot say how long it lasted.

And it was... it was something so simple, so luminous, so harmonious, beyond all our preoccupations— precisely beyond all these preoccupations with time and place. It was a spontaneous, extremely beautiful life, and so close to Nature, like a natural flowering of the animal life. And there were no oppositions, no contradictions, or anything like that — everything happened in the best way possible. (Silence)
Repeatedly, in different circumstances, several times, I have had the same memory. It was not exactly the same scene or the same images, because it was not something that I saw, it was a life that I was living. For some time, by night or by day, in a certain state of trance I went back to a life that I had lived and had the full consciousness that it was the outflowering of the human form on earth—the first human forms capable of embodying the divine Being. It was that.

It was the first time I could manifest in an earthly form, in a particular form, in an individual form —not a “general” life but an individual form—that is to say, the first time that the Being above and the being below were joined by the mentalisation of this material substance. I lived this several times, but always in similar surroundings and with a very similar feeling of such joyful simplicity, without complexity, without problems, without all these questions; there was nothing, absolutely nothing of the kind! It was an outflowering of the joy of living, simply that, in universal love and harmony— flowers, minerals, animals: all were in harmony.

The Mother, On thoughts and aphorisms, pp.88-94

Our mental ego divides, limits and decides creating contradictions and conflicts. Evolution for Sri Aurobindo is the dissolution of the ego and the self-discovery followed by the growth of the inner psychic flame. Competition represents ego and cooperation the psychic. Love, Beauty and Delight are so near and yet so far. Our Master pleads for
  • Reconciliation of every possible opposites or different aspects; at the peak of this journey is the reconciliation of Being and non-Being and this opens us to the very source of THE INFINITE – THE ABSOLUTE as well as to the 
  • The integration of
    • Matter and Spirit
    • Universe and the Individual
    • Mind and Vital
    • One and the Many

We explored the Savitri Book 3 (The Book of The Divine Mother) - Canto 3, “The House of the Spirit and The New Creation” using the Huta paintings and The Mother’s voice. We had a rare glimpse – just for a moment- of the reconciliation alluded to above – The New Creation experienced by our Master and The Mother.

The great world-rhythms were heart-beats of one Soul,
To feel was a flame-discovery of God,
All mind was a single harp of many strings,
All life a song of many meeting lives;
For worlds were many, but the Self was one.

This knowledge now was made a cosmos’ seed:
This seed was cased in the safety of the Light,
It needed not a sheath of Ignorance.

Then from the trance of that tremendous clasp
And from the throbbings of that single Heart
And from the naked Spirit’s victory
A new and marvellous creation rose.

We also momentarily experienced again the Overmental ecstasy of the November 24th Siddhi day meditation as we rejoiced further passages

None was apart, none lived for himself alone,
Each lived for God in him and God in all,
Each soleness inexpressibly held the whole.

In these new worlds projected he became
A portion of the universal gaze,
A station of the all-inhabiting light,
A ripple on a single sea of peace.

A mystery drama of divine delight,
A living poem of world-ecstasy,
A kakemono of significant forms,
A coiled perspective of developing scenes,
A brilliant chase of self-revealing shapes,
An ardent hunt of soul looking for soul,
A seeking and a finding as of gods.

We also recalled the reading on the November 17th and 19th from ‘The Mother’ by Georges Van Vrekhem, pp.357-359:

“Then what happened on that fateful 17 November 1973? The best way to understand it may be a smile: the pupation of the caterpillar into a butterfly. When the time comes, the caterpillar spins itself into a cocoon. In this cocoon the pupation takes place, a miraculous transformation into a completely different being: a butterfly.
Can one say that the caterpillar dies in the cocoon? Transformation is not death, it is a change into something else. The butterfly has originated in the caterpillar, from the caterpillar. In a way, the butterfly contains the essence of the caterpillar within itself, and the dried up ‘residue’ in the cocoon is what has to be discarded.
The human body of the Mother existed in the world of the humans. As her Yoga progressed, that body belonged less and less to this world — except for the residue in the cells. It was impossible for this residue to transcend the world of the humans. In the meantime, the supramental transformation, the supramental pupation was taking place. The butterfly — the prototype of the supramental body in the Mother—came into existence. She signaled its presence several times in the course of the final years and eventually perceived and described it in 1972.
On 17 November 1973, the Mother laid down her residual human body while she continued to exist forever in a body consisting of a supramental substance. The supramental substance as worked out by the Mother is a material substance— otherwise the earthly evolution would then have no meaning— though it is composed of a substance more refined than the Matter known to us. Generally speaking, the gross Matter of our Mother the Earth is still in the process of transformation. This process is now in an advanced stage thanks to the avataric Yoga of Sri Aurobindo and the Mother. When gross Matter will have become sufficiently subtle and receptive, i.e. transformed, the mature souls, ready and waiting in their soul world, will descend and incarnate in it. The formation of their bodies will be moulded by the existence of the Mother’s supramental body, the prototype of the new species.”

We rejoiced the link to the Savitri passage below:

There Matter is the Spirit’s firm density,
An artistry of glad outwardness of self,
A treasure-house of lasting images
Where sense can build a world of pure delight:
The home of a perpetual happiness,
It lodged the hours as in a pleasant inn.
The senses there were outlets of the soul;
Even the youngest child-thought of the mind
Incarnated some touch of highest things.
There substance was a resonant harp of self,
A net for the constant lightnings of the spirit,
A magnet power of love’s intensity
Whose yearning throb and adoration’s cry
Drew God’s approaches close, sweet, wonderful.

Sri Aurobindo, enlightened by the Divine voice and light of Vivekananda, conceptualized, perceived and experienced through his senses the triple transformation; he has gifted them to the world respectively through ‘The Life Divine’, ‘Synthesis of Yoga’ and ‘Savitri’. Mother, joining our Master in this adventure, spearheaded the Yoga of Physical Transformation and continues to guide us through her Supramental Body – The Prototype of the new species. They have gone through the very tough paths, in order to simplify the whole yoga for us. Receptivity, sincerity, opening and surrender from our part can accelerate our progress on the path of the Life Divine.

December 10th and 17th – The future poetry

It was a Divine Will for enhanced delight that must have prompted Jared to initiate our exploration of The Future Poetry work of our Master. We commenced meditating on Jared’s carefully chosen sections in the Chapter II ‘The Essence of Poetry’ and Chapter III ‘Rhythm and Movement’.

Sri Aurobindo explores the grand possibility of poetry - the discovery of a closer approximation to what we might call the mantra in poetry, that rhythmic speech which, as the Veda puts it, rises at once from the heart of the seer and from the distant home of the Truth, — the discovery of the Word, the Divine movement, the form of thought proper to the reality. It is accomplished through the stress of soul-vison (Soul-idea, soul of emotion for the delight of the soul and embodied Truth of life or Truth of Nature) behind the surface view of words; it is a spiritual excitement of rhythmic voyage of self-discovery among the magic islands of form and name in the inner and outer worlds. It is the greater Truth and its delight and beauty it is seeking. It is true joy for ever with beauty which is truth and Truth-beauty supporting each other in ever increasing fashion.

There is perhaps a truth in the Vedic idea that the Spirit of creation framed all the movements of the world by chandas (The study of poetic metres and verse in Sanskrit), in certain fixed rhythms of the formative Word, and it is because they are faithful to the cosmic metres that the basic world-movements unchangingly endure. A balanced harmony maintained by a system of subtle recurrences is the foundation of immortality in created things, and metrical movement is nothing else than creative sound grown conscious of this secret of its own powers.

We were delighted exploring the rhythm, the imagery, the ideas and the spiritual power packed in some of the sample passages of Savitri. It is still a long way for us to comprehend our Master’s Savitri Mantra – The poetic expression of the deepest spiritual reality through the unison of the highest intensities of the Rhythm, the Style and the Soul’s vision of Truth; however, every step we take is an infinite delight exposing every time some of the subtle and immaterial elements even to the experienced devotee – truly packed with infinite possibilities in infinite dimensions as Brahma who is Sarvam, Anantam, Gnanam and Anandam
Ramadoss

Along the Way… December Walk Review (walk no 388)

Several members of SAS, Singapore take pride in being fitness and nature enthusiasts. Many of them gathered for the monthly walk at 8 am on Sunday, 3rd December. This time it was held at Coney Island Park situated within Coney Island, alternatively known as Pulau Serangoon, a 133-hectare island located off the northeastern coast of Singapore. The 50-hectare Coney Island National Park besides being rich in history, houses a wide variety of habitats, including coastal forests, grasslands, mangroves, and casuarina woodlands. It is home to a wide variety of fauna and flora, some of which are critically endangered. Some plants at the park are presumed nationally extinct in the wild.


It is worthy of mention that enthusiasm for participation in these walks, which had been dwindling earlier, has now been steadily rising. Let us give a loud shout-out for the sizeable group that enjoyed the walk at this park that has its rich bio-diversity in a rustic setting. The lush greenery offers much to explore for bird and nature enthusiasts.

This Sunday morning offered Singapore weather at its best. The morning rain shower having subsided, the sky was cloudy and the breeze was cool. After an exchange of cheerful greetings, we all set off at a brisk or comfortable pace that suited the individual walkers.

Our group covered an age range from 8 years to 70 years. Sophia and Anjali, the youngest amongst us strode ahead of all into the park. Kiruthika soon came rushing to keep a close watch on her daughters and ensure their safety.

During this walk we had the opportunity to chat with Sophia about her adventures so far and the one she liked the most. Most willingly she shared her experiences during two family trips: one to Mount Ophir in Johor and the other to Endau Rompin, Malaysia. She narrated, “At Mount Ophir, we went on a night walk where we saw spiders and then a whole lot of fireflies! And the next day we climbed over rocks. The height to which we climbed was around 50-60 feet. Our guide was surprised that we could do it!”  We discussed the terms ‘abseil’ and ‘rappel’ which refer to a controlled descent off a vertical drop, such as a rock face, using a rope.

Of the trek at Endau Rompin, Sophia shared this story, “We we returned to our camp, my father discovered leeches under his trousers, sucking his blood.” Anjali piped in knowledgeably, “We should sprinkle salt to get rid of leeches.” It was amusing to see Sophia constantly checking details with her mom, whom we labelled as her ‘encyclopedia”.

Conversation while walking is entertaining as well as informative, isn’t it? Candidly I shared with Sophia, “You have had so many more adventures than I have! You are lucky indeed.”

We had entered the park through the West gate and we walked on the footpaths that led to Beach A, Beach B; past Beach C and finally, towards the East Gate. Along the way, we saw the ocean waves lapping at the shores among the mangroves, beautiful flowers and colorful leaves, heard melodious birds’ songs.

But soon it was time to return to the assigned meeting point. In the playground nearby, I spotted an empty swing which beckoned to the child in me. Without hesitation, I sat on it and enjoyed taking it higher and higher into the air. The delightful breeze blew my grey hair wildly about. A young parent who was highly amused at this sight could not restrain from observing, “You are really enjoying the swing, aren’t you? How lovely!”

Assembling at at our hosts’ residence, we enjoyed the usual meditation followed by Sanskrit sloka recitations by Dr. Sheel Aditya and Jaishree as well as readings of the Mother’s and Sri Aurobindo’s writings.

The power of prayer cannot be underestimated. We all prayed to the Divine Mother for Shashi Bhai who is undergoing medical treatment. May She grant him physical and mental strength at this difficult time and bless him with an early and complete recovery.

The session adjourned after the sumptuous brunch lovingly arranged by our hosts Ritesh and Upali Thacker. We express our gratitude to them for their warm hospitality.

                                                                
-          Anju Aditya