Sir Aurobindo – 1907
EVENING TALKS wit SRI AUROBINDO
Recorded by A. B. PURANI
7th January, 1939
Disciple: Can the ego be removed by the psychic attitude
and by the realization of Self?
Sri Aurobindo: Psychic humility takes away the egoism but
not the ego; removing of the ego of the natural
individuality is not the work of the psychic. The psychic
depends upon and maintains the natural individuality. The
psychic is there, so that the natural individuality would
turn to and progress towards the Divine.
Disciple: How is the ego removed?
Sri Aurobindo: Ego is removed by the realization of the
Spirit; that is, by attaining to the spiritual consciousness
Above, which is independent of Nature, which is
self-existent. That Spirit is One in all. Realization of
removes the ego, because then one identifies himself with
Disciple: What then replaces the “I” in the divine
individual? What is the nature of the psychic
Sri Aurobindo: In the case of psychic individuality the
man may feel the ego of the Sadhu-the Saint-the Bhakta-the
devotee, or the virtuous man. He may also get rid of egoism
by imposing on the nature one Spirit and a feeling of
sympathy for all humanity. But that is not the same as
getting rid entirely of the ego. The psychic clears the way
for the removal of the ego.
Disciple: What happens when one realizes the Spirit?
Sri Aurobindo: Generally, when one realizes the Spirit,
it is the mental sense of the ego that is
abolished; but the vital and the physical still retain
their egoistic movements. That is what most
Yogi’s mean when they say “It is nature”. They mostly
allow it to run its course and when the body drops, it also
drops; but, it is not transformation. That is what
Vivekananda meant when he said that “human nature cannot be
changed, that it was like a dog’s tail, you can straighten
it if you like, but as soon as you leave it, it is curved
Disciple: What is really meant by this “nature”?
Sri Aurobindo: It means that the subconsciousness has in
it certain gathered powers which impose themselves on the
Disciple: How to transform or change this human
Sri Aurobindo: In order to change human nature you have
to work from level to level; you reject a thing from
the mind, it comes to the vital. When you reject it from
the vital, then it comes to the physical and then you find
it in the subconscient.
There is a central point in the subconscient that has to
be changed. If that is done, then everything is done. It is
from there that resistance rises from Nature–that is what
Vivekananda meant. To effect complete transformation you
have to bring down everything to the subconcient, and it is
Disciple: How can one replenish the exhausted nervous
being? Can it be done by drawing energy from the Universal
Vital or by the help of the Higher Power?
Sri Aurobindo: Both ways can be combined: One can draw
from the Universal Vital and the Higher Power can also work.
But there should be no Tamas, inertia, and other
Disciple: Was there a time when these things were
Sri Aurobindo: When we were living in the Guest-house, we
passed through a brilliant period of Sadhana in the vital.
Many people had dazzling experiences and great currents of
energy were going round. If we had stopped there–like other
Yogis–we would have given rise to a brilliant creation, or,
would have established some kind of religion; but that would
not have been the real work.
Disciple: Could a great person in the conquest of the
physical being have been made at that time?
Sri Aurobindo: If the Sadhaks had taken the right
attitude, then with the gain in the vital it would have been
easy in the physical, in spite of difficulties. But that was
done. Then we came down to the physical. Those brilliant
experiences disappeared and the slow difficult work of
physical transformation remained. There–in the
physical–you find the truth of the Vedik rik–censurers are
always ready telling–“you can’t do the thing, you are bound
Disciple: Would it then mean that the new people who
would come to the yoga would have no experience of the
mental and the vital planes?
Sri Aurobindo: They can have, if they hold aloof. Only,
they can’t help the pressure on the physical nature as it is
in the atmosphere.
There are cases that differ: there is some one X who made
very good progress in the mind. In another case the Sadhak
became aloof and progressed; but the moment he came to the
vital, the whole thing seemed to have stopped.
Disciple: Did he lose the contact with the Brahmic
Sri Aurobindo: No, it is only apparently lost. But if he
cannot go further, then his yoga stops there, that is
Disciple: Can the new comers make rapid progress?
Sri Aurobindo: Certainly they can. I know cases, where
they go on very well making good progress.
Disciple: Will the yoga be more easy for the lucky new
Sri Aurobindo: Yes, in a sense; but the conditions may be
more exacting, and the demands made on them may be
high. You had an easy time. You were left to do, more or
less, as you liked in your mind, and the vital and other
parts. But when the change in the subconscious has to come
about, many will find it difficult; there will be some who
will progress and others who will not and will drop out.
Already some like X had dropped out, when the Mother took a
decision about his vital being-“you will have to change”.
Before that he was swimming in his art and other things, but
as soon as this came he dropped out. All these
things–attachments, sex-impulse etc.–finally find refuge
in the subconscient. One has to throw it out from
there–destruction of the seed in the subconscient is
necessary, otherwise it would sprout again, as we see in the
case of some Yogis.
Disciple: Can one have these things in him when there is
complete union with the Divine?
Sri Aurobindo: What is the “complete union”? For
instance, Ramakrishna asked the Divine Mother not to send
him “Kama”–sex-impulse–and he succeeded, but all cases are
not like that. It is quite possible to reject something
centrally and totally–that is to say, completely–but one
can’t make general rule about these things.
Our yoga is like a new path made out in the jungle and
there is no previous road in the region. I had myself great
difficulties; the suggestion that it was not possible was
always there. A vision which the Mother has sustained me:
the vision of a carriage moving towards the highest peak on
a steep hill. The higher summit is the transformation of
Nature by the attainment of the Higher consciousness.
Disciple: Is there nothing that can be taken as
established informally in all the yogas?
Sri Aurobindo: In this yoga you have to go on working out
again and again the same thing. Thus it becomes a long drawn
out struggle, one falls and rises, again falls. Take for
instance, Nirvana, quietude and samata. I had to go on
establishing them again and again till when I had done it in
subconscient this accident came. It can be a test.
Disciple: What made the attack possible?
Sri Aurobindo: There were gaps in the physical. Disciple:
Can one take this as a part of Lila or game?
Sri Aurobindo: Well, it is the ignorance and the Divine
is working out from there. If that was not so, what is the
meaning of the life?
Everything looked all right and it appeared as if I was
going on well with the work, then the accident came. It
indicated that it is when the subconscient is changed that
the power of Truth can be embodied; then it can be spread in
wave after wave in humanity.
8th January, 1939.
Disciple: Can one way that snoring is the protest of the
subconscient against somebody’s presence? (Laughter)
Sri Aurobindo: Against whom? against whose presence when
one snores alone! (Laughter)
Disciple: We read in the papers about the conversion of
John Middleton Murry to theism. It was Hitler’s statement
after the purage that he “embodies justice and law”,
that, he dispenses with “trials”–which made Murry
consider him as the Anti-Christ. It seems Gandhian
non-violence has also appealed to Hitler. He wants to become
a village pastor and stop the flow of villagers to the
cities. Gandhi has written about Hitler’s regime that the
sufferings of Bishop Nicmuller are not in vain. He has
covered himself with glory. Hitler’s heart may be harder
than stone, but non-violence has power to generate heat that
can melt the stonier heart. What do you think of that?
Sri Aurobindo: I am afraid, it would require quite a
furnace! (Laughter) Gandhi has mainly to deal with
Englishmen and the English want to have their conscience at
ease. Besides, the Englishman wants to satisfy his
self-esteem and wants world-esteem. But if Gandhi had to
deal with the Russian Nihilists–not the Bolshevites–or the
German Nazis then they would have long ago put him out of
Disciple: Gandhi is hopeful about the conversion of
Hitler’s heart or about the German people throwing him
Sri Aurobindo: Hitler would not have been where he is if
he had a soft heart. It is curious how some of the most
sentimental people are most cruel. Hitler, for instance, is
quite sentimental. He weeps over his mother’s tomb and
paints sentimental pictures.
Disciple: It is “the London cabman’s psychic” as you said
the other day.
Sri Aurobindo: Yes. Men like Hitler can’t change, they
have to be bumped out of existence: There is no chance of
their changing in this life. He can’t get rid of his
cruelty–it is his blood.
Not that the British can’t be brutal and sentimental too.
But they can’t persist as the Germans and the Russians in
their brutality. The Englishman may be sentimental, but he
likes to show off that he is practical, prosaic and brave.
In the Russian, you find a mixture of cruelty and
sentimentalism. He can break your neck and in the next
moment embrace you. The English man behaves quite well, if
you give him blows on his face when he treats you badly.
Disciple: In Fiji islands there was the case of a Punjabi
from a good family, who went there as an indentured
labourer. An Englishman was his supervisor and used to beat
him every day, in spite of his doing the hard allotted
One day the Punjabi got fed up and caught hold of him and
threw him on the ground and went on giving him blows. Then
the Englishman said “that will do!” He got up and shook
hands with him and the two became great friends!!
Disciple: There was the case of Shamakant, the
tiger-tamer, an athlete of Bengal. While he was traveling
some Tommis came and tried to show their strength. He
knocked them so well that they were extremely glad to get
out of the compartment at the next station. They did not
expect a Bengali to be so strong.
Another time the train at Howrah was stopped, as there
was a fight between an Englishman and a Bengali. There was a
cry of “Bande Mataram” and the whole train came out.
Sri Aurobindo: That was the sudden transformation during
the Swadeshi days. Before that the people used to
tremble before an Englishman in Bengal. The position was
I remember when I wanted to do political work I visited
Bengal and toured the districts of Jessors, Khulna etc. We
found that the people steeped in pessimism, a black weight
of darkness weighing over the whole country. It is difficult
now a days to imagine those days. I was traveling with Deva
Vrata Bose; he was living on plantains and speaking to
people. He had a very persuasive way of talking. It was at
Khulna, we had a right royal reception, not so much because
I was a politician, but because I was a son of my father.
They served me with seven rows of dishes and I could hardly
reach out to them, and even from others I could eat very
My father was very popular at Khulna; wherever he went he
became all powerful. When he was at Rangpur he was very
friendly with the magistrate-there. We went to his cousin’s
place in England afterwards, the Drewettes. It was always
the doctor (i.e. K.D. Ghose) who got things done at Rangpur.
When the new magistrate came he found that nothing could be
done without Dr. K.D. Ghose. So he asked the Government to
remove him and he was transferred to Khulna. It was since
that time that he became a politician. That is to say, he
did not like the English domination. Before that every thing
Western was good! He wanted, for example, all his sons to be
great; at that time to join the I.C.S. was to become great.
He was extremely generous. Hardly anyone who went to him for
help came back empty handed.
Disciple: Did you see him after coming from England? Sri
Aurobindo: I could not. In fact, I was the cause of his
death. He was having heart-trouble and the Grindleys sent
a wire to him that I had started by a certain steamer. In
fact I had not; and that steamer was sunk near Portugal and
so when he heard the news he thought that I was drowned and
he died of that shock.
Disciple: But when you were in England was he sending you
Sri Aurobindo: In the beginning. But afterwards he sent
less and less and ultimately he stopped altogether. I had my
scholarship at Cambridge but that was not enough to cover
the fees and other expenses. So once the tutor wrote to him
about money. Then he sent the exact sum for the fees and
wrote a letter lecturing to me about extravagance!
But it was not true; I and my eldest brother at any rate,
were living quite Spartan life. My brother worked with Henry
Cotton’s brother in the Liberal association (Kensington) and
used to get 50 shillings a week. On that and little more we
two managed to live. We had bread and a piece of bacon in
the morning; at night some kind of pastry. For the winter we
had not overcoat. After one year like that to talk of
extravagance was absurd. But Mono Mohan could not stand it;
he went out and lived in boarding house and ate nicely
There was a tailor at Cambridge who used to tempt me with
all sorts of clothes for suits and make me buy them; of
course, he gave credit. Then I went to London. He somehow
traced me there and found Mono Mohan and canvassed orders
from him (!) Mono Mohan went in for velvet suits, not
staring red but aesthetic and used to visit Oscar Wilde in
Then we came away to India but the tailor was not to be
deprived of his dues! He wrote to the Government of Bengal
and to the Baroda State for recovering sum from me and Mono
I had paid up all my dues and kept £4/–or so. I did
not believe that I was bound to pay it, since he always
charged me double. But as the Maharajah said, I had better
pay it, I paid.
Disciple: Did Mono Mohan follow your political
Sri Aurobindo: He was very proud of our political career.
He used to say: “There are two and a half men in India–my
brother Aurobindo and Barin–two and half is Tilak!”
Disciple: How was Mono Mohan in England?
Sri Aurobindo: He used to play the poet: he had poetical
illness and used to moan out his verses in deep tones. Once
we were passing through Cumberland and it was getting dark.
We shouted to him but he paid no heed, and came afterwards
leisurely at his own pace. His poet-playing dropped after he
came to India.
Disciple: How as the eldest brother?
Sri Aurobindo: He was not at all poetic or imaginative.
He took after my father. He was very practical but very easy
to get on with. He had fits of miserliness.
The question of Barin when he came to Baroda and stayed
for sometime was: How can I stay with Khaserao or Madhave
Rao for months and years without quarreling?
10th January 1939.
Disciple: My friend “X” has begun to give medicine to
some of my patients. Sri Aurobindo: So, you have your
“Homeo-Allo” alliance or axis!
Talk on Homeopathy was going when the Mother came.
Mother: Do you know about a school of Homeopathy in
Switzerland which is very famous in Europe? It prepares
medicines also. They have books in which symptoms are
grouped together and remedies are indicated for a group of
symptoms. It is a very convenient method; only, you have to
have the book; or good memory. But are you allowed to
practice Homeopathy without license?
Disciple: Oh, yes. No license is required in India.
Disciple: But Dr. S was telling that using great
potencies might harm, or even kill the patient. It is
dangerous if everybody beings to practice it, they say.
Disciple: In Bengal it is practiced everywhere.
Sri Aurobindo: Is Yunani medicine practiced in India?
Disciple: Yes, in cities where there is Mohammedian
population, and in Muslim states. In Delhi there is the
Tibbi college founded by Hakim Ajmal Khan. It seems, it is
the only school of Unani medicine in the whole of Asia.
Students from Turkey, Egypt and Afghanistan used to come
there to learn. Ajmal Khan was the direct descendent of the
court Hakim to the Mogul Emperors. Where from is it
Sri Aurobindo: It is from the Greek school. They use
animal products and salts. Besides curing which is common to
all the systems the Unani lays claim to rejuvenate the human
system. Many diseases which require operation for their cure
in Allopathy are cured by Unani and Ayurvedic medicines
There were many specific cures known in India but I am
afraid they are getting lost. I remember the case of
Jyotindra Nath Banerji who had a remedy for sterility from a
Sannyasi and he used it with success. Many cases of
barrenness for ten or fifteen years were cured within a
short time. The direction for taking the medicine were very
scrupulously to be observed. He knew a remedy for
Mother: Do you know about the Chinese medicine? Once they
had a rule that you paid the doctor so long as you were
well. All payment stopped when one became ill, and if the
patient died they used to put a mark on the doctor’s door to
show that his patient had died.
But the Chinese method of pricking the nerve and curing
the disease is very remarkable. The idea is that there is a
point of nerve where the attack of the disease is
concentrated and if you prick the point, or the Devil, on
the head, the disease is cured. They find out this nervous
point from the indications that the patient gives, or
sometimes they find out by themselves also.
Disciple: I do not think that any system of medicine can
succeed in curing all diseases. I believe
that only yogic power can cure all diseases.
Disciple: Even that is not unconditional; otherwise, it
might be very nice. There are conditions to be fulfilled for
the yogic power to succeed.
Sri Aurobindo: Do you expect that the yogic power, or
consciousness will simply say “Let there be no disease and
there will be no disease”?
Disciple: Not that way. But cases of miraculous cures are
known, that is, cures effected without any conditions.
Sri Aurobindo: That is another matter. Otherwise, the
Yogi has to get up every morning and say “Let everybody in
the world be all right” and there would be no disease in the
12th January 1939
There was a controversy about a child who was underage
and had an intense aspiration to remain in the Ashram, i.e.
to be under Mother’s protection and guidance. But being
under the guardianship of her parents the child could not
carry out her inner wish. Ultimately the parents,
particularly the mother, took the child away.
Some Evening-Talks refer to this incident.
Sri Aurobindo: She–the child–has developed character
and intelligence quite beyond her age. When she wrote to us
she used to cast reflections on the world and on people that
was even beyond a grown up woman. She is remarkable for her
The mother has found it difficult to bend her. It is
true, the mother does not love her. It is an accident that
she is born in that family; she is quite unlike her parents.
Besides, she has found out that the mother used to manage
her by lying.
Disciple: They say that the child is very happy
Sri Aurobindo: But she wrote to us that she is never
Disciple: In the papers we find that Stalin has made
allegations against Trotsky; can there be any truth in
Sri Aurobindo: Not creditable.
Disciple: But the confessions of the generals were
Sri Aurobindo: That they did to save their relatives.
Disciple: A Japanese general predicts a hundred year war
to civilize the world!
Sri Aurobindo: The idea is first to drive out the
European from Asia, but the Japanese will go about it
silently without bragging.
Disciple: Will Indian freedom come long time after?
Sri Aurobindo: Not necessarily; it will not come by arms
but without arms. Disciple: How?
Sri Aurobindo: There is a prophesy among the Sannyasis
and also Lele used to tell us that there is no chance of
freedom by fighting.
Disciple: Italy or Japan can come to help India.
Sri Aurobindo: That is not so easy. Naval equipment is
not enough; without a strong army it is very difficult to
Disciple: Congress ministers are trying to introduce
military training in U.P., C.P., and Bombay. But Sir
Hayat in the Panjab is counting the distinction between
martial and non-martial races.
Sri Aurobindo: That was introduced by the British to keep
down India by depriving her of military races except the
Pathans, Gurkhas, Panjabees etc. But every part of India had
its empire in the past. The whole of India can have military
equipment and training in a short time.
Disciple: The problem is of the Muslims.
Sri Aurobindo: They also want independence; only they
want” “Mohammedan independence”.
Disciple: Spain in Europe seems to be like India. But if
France gets Spain it would be difficult for England.
Sri Aurobindo: It will be worse for France; by the spring
the intentions of the Axis powers will be known.
Disciple: But why France depends so much upon
Sri Aurobindo: Because she has no other ally.
Disciple: It is the short-sighted policy of the Allies,
that has given chance to Hitler.
Sri Aurobindo: No, it is England that got afraid of
France ascendancy on the continent and encouraged and
pressed Germany into power. She wants to maintain the
balance of power. Hitler aims at France.
France always wants to placate Italy; but England came in
the way with “sanctions”. They could not save Abyssinia and
made an enemy of Mussolini.
Disciple: The cry of Tunis was to divert the attention
Sri Aurobindo: I don’t think Blum’s Socialist government
is for non-intervention. The Socialist in France did nothing
when they were in power.
Disciple: Perhaps Russia can render some help.
Sri Aurobindo: Russia is too far and I don’t know if it
is trustworthy. Disciple: But the newspapers report that
America is preparing armaments.
Sri Aurobindo: Yes, perhaps Roosevelt has secret news
about the intentions of Nazis. It is not a question of
meddling in European politics, but of being eaten last!
(Laughter) There are at least some people in America who
understand this thing.