Sir Aurobindo – 1907
EVENING TALKS wit SRI
Recorded by A. B. PURANI
Disciple: How can one succeed in
Sri Aurobindo: By quietude of the
mind. Above the Mind there is not only the Infinite in
itself but infinite sea of peace, joy, light, power
etc.–above the head. The golden lid–Hiranmaya
patra–intervenes between that which is above Mind and what
is below. Once one can break that lid those elements can
come down at any time one wills, and for that, quietude is
necessary. There are people who get those things without
quietude, but it is very difficult.
Disciple: It is said that there is
also a veil in the heart, is it true?
Sri Aurobindo: Yes, a veil or a
wall, if you like. The vital with its surface consciousness,
the emotional with its disturbances and veils and one has to
break through these and get to what is behind them. There,
one finds the heart. In some people the higher force works
behind the veil because it would meet with many obstacles if
it worked in front; it builds or breaks whatever is
necessary till one day the veil is withdrawn and one finds
oneself in the Infinite.
Disciple: Does the Higher Force work
all the time, even when there is no aspiration in the
Sri Aurobindo: Yes. In those who
have the inner urge, the intermittent action of aspiration
itself may be due to the action of the Higher Force from
Disciple: We want to know how to get
the infinite peace, etc.
Sri Aurobindo: First, to want only
that. It is difficult, is it not? In that case you have to
wait; yoga demands patience. The old yogas say that one has
to wait twelve years to get any experience at all. After
that period one can complain; but you said that you had many
experiences. So, it is not so bad.
Disciple: Yes. I told you that
meditation used to come to me at my place spontaneously,–at
any time and I had to sit down and meditate. Sometimes, it
used to come to me while I was just going to my office and
the experience of peace etc. used to last for some days. But
sometimes for a long period nothing happens. One should get
some experience at least once in a fortnight.
Disciple: Sometimes I feel a pull on
the head upwards. What is it due to?
Sri Aurobindo: Of course, it is not
in the physical head but in the subtle body, the Mind trying
ascend towards the Higher
Disciple: If one dreams or sees
visions of seas, hills, etc.,–what do they mean?
Sri Aurobindo: These are symbols;
the sea of energy, the hill of the Being with its different
planes and parts,–the Spirit at the summit. These visions
are quite common,–one sees them as the mind and the heart
Disciple: I felt at one time that my
head was at the Mother’s feet. What is it, Sir!
Sri Aurobindo: It is the experience
of the psychic being. So, you had the psychic
Disciple: I told you how I had it
and lost it through fear that I was dying. But I could not
recognize this experience as psychic (Laughter).
Sri Aurobindo: It is this “I” that
comes in the way. One must forget it and experience as if it
were happening to somebody else. If one could do that it
would be a great conquest. When I had the Nirvana experience
I forgot myself completely. I was a sort of
What is the use of your being Mr. so
and so, son of so and so? If your “I” had died it would have
been a glorious death.
Disciple: What happens when the
human consciousness is replaced by the Divine
Sri Aurobindo: One feels perpetual
calm, perpetual strength,–one is aware of Infinity, lives
not only in Infinity but in Eternity. One feels the
immortality and does not care about the death of the body,
and one has the consciousness of the One in all. Everything
becomes the manifestation of the Brahman. For instance, as I
look around the room I see everything as the Brahman–it is
not thinking, it is a concrete experience,–even the wall,
the book is Brahman. I see you not as X. but as a divine
being in the Divine. It is a wonderful
2nd January 1939
Disciple: I think the Mother is
Mother: That is not the habit here.
It is the play of the forces, or rather the play of adverse
forces, that tries to test the Sadhak. If you refuse to
listen to them or remain firm, then they withdraw. People
here have plenty of difficulties already. Why, add new ones?
To say that we purposely test them is not true. We never do
Mother came in for meditation and
went away early at 6-45. But she did not go to the evening
meditation before nearly 7-25 or 7-30.
Disciple: How far is it desirable
for the Ashram to be self-sufficient? Sri Aurobindo:
Self-sufficient in what way?
Disciple: In meeting the needs of
the daily life, say for instance, preparing our own cloth
here; my friend who has come from Bombay wants that we
should introduce spindles and looms to prepare our clothes.
Whether and how far such self-sufficiency is desirable in
Ashram like ours?
Sri Aurobindo: It is not a question
of how far it is desirable, it is also a question of how far
it is practicable? No objection to spinning or weaving. How
would “N” like to go on spinning?
Disciple: I am already spinning
Sri Aurobindo: There are all sorts
of mental ideas, or rather mental formations which can be
carried out and which are being carried out at the other
places but this Ashram is not the fit place for carrying
Disciple: In what way it is not
Sri Aurobindo: There are many
They all point out to institutions
like Dayalbagh. In that case you have to direct all your
energies in that channel (leaving the Sadhana on one
In other organizations they impose
discipline and obedience from outside by rule of force.
There people are obliged to take their orders from some
But here we don’t impose such
discipline, (from outside) and therefore you can hardly get
people to work together. It is because of their ego and
their idea of mental independence. Even if you want to do
that kind of work there are two things you must guard
1. The tendency to degenerate into
mere mechanical and commercial activity.
2. You have to guard against
ambition. There is a natural tendency to cut a figure before
the world, to hold that the Ashram and the Ashramites are
some thing great, that must go.
Lastly there is health–unless the
doctor promises to homeopathise them (Sadhaks) into
Work as a part of Sadhana is all
right, but work as a part of spiritual creation we cannot
take up unless the inner difficulties are overcome. It is
not that we do not want to do it but here it is not
mental-construction that we want but spiritual creation. It
is here left to the Mother’s intuition. Even then there are
Disciple: What is the difference
between peace and silence?
Sri Aurobindo: What do you
Disciple: Is peace included in
silence or vice versa?
Sri Aurobindo: If you have silence
you have peace, but the opposite is not true. That is to
say, you may have peace but not silence.
Disciple: Is silence mere
Sri Aurobindo: No. Not necessarily.
It may be full of the positive presence of the Divine.
Disciple: Is it not a dull and dry state?
Sri Aurobindo: No. Not necessarily.
As I said, it can be full of the presence of the Divine or
may be Mental peace–accompanied by
a sense of emptiness which may be dull to the mind but it is
the emptiness for something higher to come in and fill
Disciple: In that
emptiness–Shunyam–there is a great release. Is it
Sri Aurobindo: Oh yes. It is a very
pleasant state. These people, like Russell, don’t understand
what this emptiness means. They try to go in and immediately
they find themselves empty. They do not like it. They think
that all that comes into the consciousness comes from
outside. They have no idea that there are inner things with
which the being can be filled.
Disciple: But you said in one of
your letters to “D” that one must be prepared to pass
through the period of dryness.
Sri Aurobindo: There is an
experience of neutral peace of mind which may be dry and
dull to the ordinary man.
Disciple: Can one act when one has
Sri Aurobindo: Certainly; why not?
When I talk of silence I mean inner silence. It is perfectly
possible to hear and do all sorts of things and retain that
Disciple: Is the silence static and
Sri Aurobindo: It is not silence
that is dynamic–but you can become dynamic having that
inner silence. You can also remain without doing anything.
People who are dynamic can’t remain
without doing something. They do not realize that if they
have the inner silence the effectivity of their work is
increased a hundred fold.
Some Maraths came when I came to
Pondicherry, inquired what I was doing: when he heard I was
doing “nothing”, he said “it is a great thing if one can do
it. It is a capacity to do nothing”!
Disciple: There is one gentleman who
actually sealed up his lips with something so that he may
not be able to speak.
Sri Aurobindo: That is what is
called Asuric Tapasya: Titanic askasis. Disciple: Can one
gain something by Asuric Tapasya?
Sri Aurobindo: Yes; all Tapasya can
give you something.
Physical and vital tapasya can give
you something. It can give you physical and vital control,
though that is more a Nigraha–repressed control–rather
than anything else.
Disciple: Is it not a part of Divine
realization–? What is Divine realization?
Sri Aurobindo: Experience of peace
and bliss is a spiritual realization. If one gains control
of the vital being by the influence of the Self–that is a
Disciple: But one can have the
necessary control by the mind–rather than try such physical
and outward control.
Sri Aurobindo: These things may be
steps to the Divine; for example Hatha Yoga and Raja Yoga.
Disciple: Our friend “X”, finds that Yogis have
Sri Aurobindo: It is not the defects
that are important but whatever leads to the upward growth,
to the Divine, adding something to his stature, is a gain to
the human progress towards the Light. No upward progress is
to be despised.
3rd January 1939
There was hearty laugh over the
thesis of a Marathi writer with Socialistic tendencies who
tried to prove that Swami Ramdas was a socialist!
Disciple: Some of the Sadhaks seem
to become too delicate,–a small cut or even smell of
burning ghee upsets them. Sometimes other people who cannot
understand this say this is mere fainting.
Sri Aurobindo: They used to brand
the body with hot iron to see if the man was in trance or
not! They thought perhaps that it might be only deep trance
and not Nirvikalpa Samadhi! (Laughter)
Disciple: Can it be that the man
would not feel anything? 84
Sri Aurobindo: There are cases of
people who, when under hypnotic influence, are unaffected by
pins being introduced into their bodies. And also there are
cases where the man is made to stretch out his hand and even
two or three strong people cannot bend it. There are also
cases in which sugar tastes bitter under hypnotic influence.
And the question is whether sweetness or any other property
is in the subject–as in the sense of beauty–or in the
Disciple: What is that capacity due
Sri Aurobindo: There are no physical
causes, these phenomena are due to supraphysical causes and
there the laws of the physical do not apply.
Disciple: But then what is sweetness
due to–in the case of sugar?
Sri Aurobindo: The question is
whether experience of sweetness is a common reaction of all
human beings, or has the object anything in it corresponding
to the experience of sweetness.
Disciple: But something of the
property of the object persists, like the effect of medicine
in homeopathic doses,–the smallest quantity retains the
Disciple: But what is your
Sri Aurobindo: I don’t
At this point the Mother came and
the subject matter was reported to her.
Mother: I do not believe that the
phenomena were due to hypnotism. In hypnotism you
control on another man, the subject,
i.e., your will replaces his will.
But I know what I have seen. In most
cases I have seen that both the hypnotizer and the
hypnotized lend themselves unconsciously to the influence of
occult forces. Anything that takes place in that condition
is due to the influence of those forces. I know one
case,–an extraordinary case, of exteriorization in which
almost the material,–the vital and the vital-material, form
of the subject was separated from the body of the hypnotized
person. If the hypnotizer controls the man and if he has
good will it may do the “subject” no harm. But in most cases
he keeps himself aloof to direct the person and cannot take
charge of the body and in the interval it is some other
forces that take possession of the body.
It is dangerous to do these things
except under guidance, or in the presence of somebody who
knows these things. You find people speaking languages in
that unconscious condition which they do not know at all. It
is because some of their being in the past, or
subconsciously, knows the language and in that state, a
contact is established between the part of the subconscient
and the man speaks the language. It is not as if the
hypnotist willed that: “the man shall speak a particular
language” and the man begins to speak that language even
though there may be no part in him that knew the language.
Such a thing is impossible. Only, if there is a part that
knows and if one can establish a contact then he can speak
Disciple: Is this knowledge
indispensable for yoga?
Sri Aurobindo: Not necessarily. It
is useful for knowledge of the physical and also for mastery
over death, it is essential.
There is an ancient prophesy in the
that the kingdom of God would be
established in humanity when the man will come who would
have the power to die and come back, i.e. take up his body
again,–after death. It is essential to know what is death
if you want to conquer it. That shows that the ancients
foresaw the need for the knowledge and also that of
transformation of the physical.
It is curious how some people can
easily separate their subtle bodies from the physical, say
in three or four days even. They go out of the body and see
their body lying in front of them, while in other cases they
do not succeed.
This knowledge is also useful in
curing diseases. For instance, it is perfectly easy to
prevent diseases and to cure them if you have the knowledge
of these planes. There is what is called “the nervous
envelope”, which is an intermediary between the subtle and
the gross body. It is that which acts as a sheath protecting
you against all attacks of diseases. If the nervous envelope
is intact no disease can come to you. In most people, with
aging, this envelope wears out and then gradually the forces
are able to penetrate and pierce it. That is one of the
causes of death.
Disciple: Can this nervous envelope
be seen in the patient?
Sri Aurobindo: Yes; and if you can
see what is necessary you can put it in. In order to keep it
in tact you must have quiet, a balanced life, rest, etc.
People generally spoil it by excitement and other
In the case of exteriorization done
by the Tibetans, a thin thread is maintained when one leaves
and if that is snapped the man may
not be able to return to his body.
Disciple: There are cases of
Tibetans who expose themselves to ice without any bad
reactions and also there was report of the messenger who
practically flies throughout Tibet carrying the tidings of
Sri Aurobindo: These are known
Disciple: There are so many miracles
reported about Sj. Bijoy Goswami. Do you think they are all
Sri Aurobindo: I have no personal
knowledge of them. But I believe most of the miracles
attributed to Bijoy Goswami are more possible with the
subtle than with the physical body.
Sri Aurobindo then recounted the
story of how Mother was once on the point of death in
Algeria when she was practicing the yoga with Theon and his
wife both of them great occultists. Madame Theon
particularly was a remarkable woman.
The Mother exteriorized and visited
Paris and met her friends. The exteriorization was
sufficiently material to enable her to write on a piece of
paper with pencil. The Tibetans are more familiar with
occultism than with spirituality.
The Europeans are more taken up with
the occult things. They either believe everything or
nothing. That explains their attraction for Tibet, Bhutan
and other places of occult atmosphere. Now-a-days stories
and novels are being written with these themes. Japanese Zen
Buddhism, and also Chinese Laotze have also attracted their
I also wrote some stories but they
are lost; the white ants have finished them and with them
has perished my future as a story-teller. It is a pity that
the translation of Megh Duta which I did is lost. It was
well done. Most of my stories were occult.
4th January 1939.
Disciple: X’s expression showed the
usual gesture which to the company present indicated the
coming of a question.
Disciple: What is the effect of
fasting on yoga? Sri Aurobindo: On what?
Disciple: The effect of fasting on
Sri Aurobindo: Oh, on yoga? It gives
a sort of excitement or an impetus to the vital being but
the general effect does not seem to be sound or
I fasted twice: once in Alipore jail
for ten days and another time in Pondicherry for
days. At Alipore I was in full yogic
activities and I was not taking my food, and was throwing it
away in the bucket. Of course, the Superintendent did not
know it, only two warders knew about it and they informed
others saying: “The gentleman must be ill; he will not live
long”. Though my physical strength was diminishing I was
able to raise a pail of water above my head which I could
not do ordinarily.
At Pondicherry while fasting I was
in full mental and vital vigour. I was even walking eight
hours a day and not feeling tired at all, and when I broke
the fast I did not begin slowly but with the usual normal
Disciple: How is it possible to have
such energy without food?
Sri Aurobindo: One draws the energy
from the vital plane instead of depending upon physical
substance. Once in Calcutta I lived for a long time on rice
and banana. It is a very good food.
Disciple: The trouble is that one
can’t draw conclusion from your case.
Sri Aurobindo: At best one can draw
the conclusion that it can be done. Once R. C. Dutt called
me to dinner and was surprised to find that I was taking
only vegetarian diet; while he said he could not live
without meat. With the vegetarian diet I was feeling light
and pure. It is only a belief that one can’t do without
meat; it is a question of habit.
Disciple: Can fasting be a cure for
Sri Aurobindo: Yes, if you know the
process. The Europeans sometimes fast for that purpose but
in their case it is the mental idea that works. You start
with the idea of being well or ill, and it happens
Disciple: Can neurasthenia be thrown
off like that?
Sri Aurobindo: In the case of
neurasthenic and hysteric persons the nervous envelope is
damaged. Disciple: Then it is the question of the nervous
Sri Aurobindo: All the diseases come
from outside. The force of the disease pierces, what the
Mother calls, “the nervous envelope” and then enters the
physical body. If one is conscious of the nervous
nervous sheath, then the disease can
be thrown away before it enters the physical body, as one
throws away the thoughts before they enter the
Disciple: “X” told us once that she
used to have the headache which was just above the head and
it was very severe. We laughed at it because we could not
believe that head-ache could be above the head.
Sri Aurobindo: How do you know there
can’t be such a head-ache? If the consciousness can be
lifted above the head and remain there why not the
The body is a mere mass of
responsive vibrations; everything comes from outside and
response in the body.
Disciple: If everything comes from
outside then what are we? What belongs to us?
Sri Aurobindo: In one sense nothing
belongs to you. The Physical is made up, one can say, of
various predispositions, energies of the past, and what you
have acquired in this life. These are there ready to act
under favourable conditions, under the pressure of nature.
It is Universal Nature that gives the sense of “I” or “I am
doing everything”. This “I” and ‘mine’ have no meaning
except in another sense.
Disciple: The other day I could not
understand what you said about fundamental personality. What
is the truth behind personality?
Sri Aurobindo: There are two things:
Personality and the Person, which are not the same. The true
person is the eternal Divine Purusha assuming many
it is thrown in Time as the Cosmic
and the Individual for a particular purpose, use or work.
This true Person is all the time conscious of its identity
with the Cosmic. That is why liberation is
Disciple: Is Cosmic liberation
static or dynamic?
Sri Aurobindo: It is either, or
both. In the static aspect one realizes the pure Self as the
Infinite, One, without movement, action or
In the dynamic liberation, it
depends upon where and how you experience the unity. If it
is in the mind you feel your mind as one with the Cosmic
Mind; in that case your own mind does not exist. If you feel
the unity in the vital, then your vital being becomes a part
of the cosmic vital, one with cosmic life. You can
experience the Unity on the physical plane; then you feel
your body as a speck of Universal Matter. Or, the identity
can be above the Mind, by breaking open the lid that divides
the Mind from the Infinite. Just as there is a wall that
separates the psychic being from the outer nature, so also
there is a wall above the head. You break the wall or, what
is called the lid, and you feel yourself as the Infinite,
and your individual self in the Infinite. That opening can
be either vertical or horizontal. This realization makes
dynamic liberation possible,–not merely a liberation of
Disciple: Is it true that illness
comes from Sadhana?
Sri Aurobindo: From Sadhana? Not
Disciple: I think he means that
illness may come in the course of Sadhana for purification.
Sri Aurobindo: That is a different thing. It can be a
circumstance in the sadhana.
Disciple: When I was a new-comer
here and used to have physical trouble, people said it was
due to Sadhana and so I used to hide it from you lest you
should stop the use of your Force.
Disciple: Some Sufis and Bhaktas,
devotees, take illness and other troubles as gifts from the
Beloved,–the Divine. So, can one say that everything comes
from the Divine?
Sri Aurobindo: They are right in a
way. They take everything as coming from the Divine and it
is a very good attitude if one can truly take it. Whatever
happens is with the sanction of the Supreme. If you neglect
the chain of intermediate causes there is a Superior Cause
Disciple: If a thing happens due to
our negligence, can we say that it happened by the Divine’s
Sri Aurobindo: I say, “neglecting
the intermediate causes.”
Disciple: Would there not be some
danger in that attitude? We may shirk our responsibilities
and lay it on the Divine.
Sri Aurobindo: I said about the
Bhakta–the Devotee, not about everybody. For the Bhakta
what happens is the best and he takes it in that
For the Yogi who has to conquer
these things they will come, otherwise there would be
nothing to overcome. It would be no real conquest at all.
One can always feel the difficulties as opportunities, and
in one sense one can say that whatever happens is for the
best. Hostile forces also are recognized as hostile, but
from another standpoint they become the Divine power
throwing out attacks for the work to be done. Ultimately all
powers are from
the Divine, they assist in the work.
They throw up difficulties to test the strength. It is the
Divine that has created the opposition and it is the Divine
who sends you the defeat so that you may conquer the
difficulties hereafter. This is necessary also to counter
the ego’s sense of responsibility. At one time I experienced
the hostile forces as the gods trying to test my strength.
You have to act not for success but for the sake of the
Divine, though it does not mean that you must not work for
success. Arjuna complains to Sri Krishna in the Gita that he
speaks in “double words”: saying “do not be eager for the
result” but at the same time he said “fight and
Disciple: There was a letter from
our friend “X” in which he has tried to show that the Gita
is a book on psychoanalysis and that Sri Krishna was a great
psycho-analyst! He psycho-analyzed Arjuna and worked out his
complexes. He was very much perturbed at your denunciation
of Freud’s psycho-analysis in the ‘Basis of Yoga.’ You have
run down the greatest discovery of the modern
Sri Aurobindo: Psycho-analysis means
that the subconscient is there in man and it influences the
consciousness. It means to say that if you suppress anything
it goes down into your being and comes up in queer and
Disciple: What, according to them,
is this subconscient?
Sri Aurobindo: They say it is
inconscient. Then how does it throw up everything and raise
symbols in your consciousness? Modern psychology is only
surface deep. Really speaking a new basis is needed for
psychology. The only two important requisites for real
i. Going inwards, and,
Those two are not possible without
5th January 1939.
Disciple: How long does human bone
continue to grow?
Sri Aurobindo: Cranium fifty-five
years, Madulanta fifty years. Disciple: What was your age
when you entered politics (openly)? Sri Aurobindo: 33
Disciple: When did you begin
Sri Aurobindo: Somewhere in
Disciple: How did you
Sri Aurobindo: God knows how! It
began very early perhaps. When I landed on the Indian soil a
great calm and quiet descended on me. There were also other
characteristic experiences–at Poona on the Parvati hills
and then in Kashmir on the Shankeracharya hill,–a sense of
a great infinite Reality was felt. It was very
Then at Baroda Deshpande tried to
convert me to yoga; but I had the usual ideas about it–that
one has to go to the forest and give up everything. I was
interested in the freedom of the country. But I always
thought that the great figures of the world could not have
been after a chimera and if there was such a
why not use it for the freedom of
Barin used to do automatic writing
at Baroda. Once the spirit of my father appeared on being
called. He gave some remarkable prophecies. When asked to
give proof about his identity he mentioned the fact of
having given a golden watch to Barin–which none in the
company knew. And then he spoke of a picture in Devdhar’s
house. They tried to check up and found no picture there.
The spirit when told about it repeated it and asked us to
look again. On consulting the old mother of Devdhar she said
there was an old picture which had been now plastered
About Tilak, when questioned, the
spirit said: “He will be the man who will remain with the
head unbent when the work will be on trial and others will
bow.” Then we called Ramkrishna. He did not say anything.
Only at the end he said: “Mandir gado”–“build a temple”,
which we at that time interpreted as starting
Mandirs–temples–for political Sanyasis, but which I later
interpreted correctly as, “make a temple in yourself.” I
began Pranayama–breathing exercises–in about 1905.
Engineer Devdhar was a disciple of Brahmananda. I took
instructions from him on Pranayama and started on my own. I
practiced Pranayama at Khasirao Jadhav’s place in Baroda.
The results were remarkable: I used to see many visions,
sights and figures; (2) I felt a sort of electric power
round my head. (3) My powers of writing were nearly dried
up, after the practice of Pranayama, they revived with great
vigour. I could write both prose and poetry with a flow.
That flow never ceased since then. If I have not written
afterwards it is because I had something else to do. But the
I want to write, it is there. (4) My
improved,–I grew stout and strong
and the skin became smooth and fair and there was a flow of
sweetness in the saliva. I used to feel a certain aura round
the head. There were plenty of mosquitoes there but they did
not came to me.
I used to sit more and more in
Pranayama but there were no more results. It was at this
time that I gave up meat–diet and found a great feeling of
lightness and purification in the system. Meat is a Rajasic
food. Vivekananda recommends it to the Indians. It gives a
certain force and energy in the physical. It was for that
the Kshatriyas did not give up meat in India. From Tamas you
pass to Rajas and Vivekananda was not quite
There came a Sanyasi who gave me a
Stotra of Kali,–a very violent Stotra ending with “Jahi”
“Jahi”–“kill”, of securing Indian freedom. I used to repeat
it but it did not give any results.
Once I visited Ganganath (Chandod)
after Brahmananda’s death when Keshwananda was
With my Europeanized mind I had no
faith in image-worship and I hardly believed in the presence
of God. I went to Kernali where there are several temples.
There is one of Kali and when I looked at the image I saw
the living presence there. For the first time, I believed in
the presence of God.
At one time–in Sadhana–I used to
try all sorts of experiments to see what happens and how far
they are related to the truth. I took Bhang-Ganja-hemp-and
other intoxicants as I wanted to know what
and why Sanyasis and Sadhus take
these things. It made me go into trance, and sometimes sent
me to a superior plane of consciousness. (But reliance on
these outer stimulants was found to be the greatest drawback
of this method.)
I met Lele when I was searching for
some guidance and practicing meditation under his guidance.
I had the Nirvana experience in Sardar Majumdar’s house in
the room on the top-floor. After that I had to rely on inner
guidance for my Sadhana. In Alipore the Sadhana was very
fast–it was extravagant and exhilarating. On the vital
plane it can be dangerous and disastrous. I took to fasting
at Alipore for ten or eleven days and lost ten pounds in
weight. At Pondicherry the loss of weight was not so much,
thought the physical substance began to be reduced. It was
in Shanker Chetty’s house. I was walking eight hours a day
during twenty-three day’s fast. The miraculous or
extraordinary powers acquired by Yogis on the vital plane
are not all true in the physical. There are many pit-falls
in the vital. These vital powers take up even a man like
Hitler and make him do things by suggesting to him–“It
shall happen”. There are quite a number of cases of Sadhaks
who have lost their Sadhana by listening to these voices
from the vital-world. And the humour of it all is that they
all say that they come either from the Mother or from
6th January, 1939
Disciple: What are the methods in
Sadhana for removal of the ego? Sri Aurobindo: There are two
methods of effacement of the ego:
1. By realization of the spirit
above and of its nature of purity, knowledge etc.
2. By humility in the
Disciple: What is the
Sri Aurobindo: The second method
does not remove the ego but makes it harmless’ it would
therefore help one spiritually. Complete removal of the ego
takes place when one identifies oneself with the Spirit and
realizes the same Spirit in all. Also when the mental, vital
and physical nature is known to be derivative from the
Universal Mind, universal vital and the universal physical
then the same result ensues. The individual must realize his
divinity i.e. his identity with the Transcendent or the
Generally, when one realizes the
Spirit, it is the mental sense of the ego that goes, not the
entire ego-sense. The dynamic nature retains the
ego–especially the vital ego. So, the best thing would be
to combine the two–for the psychic attitude of humility
helps in getting rid of the
The complete dissolution of the ego
is not an easy thing. Specially important is the removal of
mental and vital ego, the other ego of the physical and of
the subconscient can be dealt with at leisure. That is to
say, they are not so absorbing.
As I said, humility helps in the
removal of the vital ego, but one must remember that it is
not outward humility.
There are many people who profess
and show the
utmost outward humility, but in
their hearts think: “I am the man!”
Disciple: “X” when he came for a
short day, he found that you lacked the virtue of humility
Sri Aurobindo: How does he know?
Perhaps I did not profess like some other people that I was
nothing. I could not do that because I know I am not
Disciple: Were you modest when you
have not taken to yoga?
Sri Aurobindo: There was a sort of
voluntary self-effacement, I liked to keep myself behind.
But I can’t say that I was more modest within than most
Disciple: Mahatmaji, when he finds
somebody in disagreement with him on principle, would say:
“He is superior to me, he is my elder, etc.; but I differ
Sri Aurobindo: Does he really
consider the other one superior, that is the question. When
I differed from some one I simply said ‘No’ or “I don’t
agree” and kept to my view. The answer given to Suren
Banerji when he approached me for a compromise at the
convention of Moderates and Nationalists, was “No” and I
kept stiff. Perhaps one may not call me modest.
At the Hugli Conference we, the
Nationalists, had the majority. But in order to keep up
Nationalists were asked by me not to
oppose the compromise resolution. The Nationalists all went
out. The Moderate leaders were very angry that the people
did not follow their tired and veteran old leaders and so
completely obeyed young leaders. Suren Banerji could not
difference between old, upper middle
class leadership, due to their influence and money and the
new leadership of those who stood for a principle and
commanded a following.
It was at that time that people
began to get the sense of discipline and of obeying the
leader’s orders. They were violent, but at the word of the
command they used to obey. That paved the way for the
Mahatma. Ashwini Kumar Dutt used to jump and say: “This is
Suren Banerji had a personal
magnetism and he was sweet-spoken, he could get round
anybody. His idea was to become the undisputed leader of
Bengal by using the nationalists for the sword and the
moderates for the public face. In private he would go up to
and accept the revolutionary movement. He even wanted to set
up a provincial board of control of the revolutionaries!
Barin once took a bomb to him and he was full of enthusiasm.
He even had a letter from Suren Banerji, when he was
arrested at Manik Tola. But in the court they hushed up the
matter as soon as Norton pronounced S. N.
The constitution of Aundh was
brought in by a disciple.
Disciple: Aundh State has given a
very fine constitution to the people. It has conferred wide
powers on the Panchayats. Such constructive work among the
villages would prevent communism. They are thinking of
introducing co-operative farming.
Sri Aurobindo: Co-operative farming
is an excellent thing; it would develop agriculture. But
dictatorship of the
proletariat is a different thing. It
may have a very fine constitution on paper, but it is quite
different in practice. In such a system all men are made to
Religion is a different affair, it
is voluntary; but country is quite different from the
church. You can’t choose your country. If you make all
people think alike there can’t be any human progress. If you
were to differ from Stalin or Lenin you would be
These dictators have remarkably few
ideas: Take for example Hitler. He believes that:
I. The Germans are the best people
in the world.
II.Hitler should be the
III. All the Jews are wicked
IV. All the people in the world must
I do not understand how humanity can
progress under such conditions.
Disciple: The tendency of all
governments is to increase taxes.
Sri Aurobindo: All governments are
robbing, some with legislation, some without. You can
imagine the condition in which you
have to give 50% of your income as taxes and have to manage
with the rest as best you can.
Disciple: The Customs also charge
Sri Aurobindo: It is another form of
robbery and yet in spite of it all, I don’t understand how
France produces only 250 aeroplanes as compared to 1000 of
I don’t know what these governments
do with huge sums they get. There is a sufficiently honest
administration in England. The public are uneasy about the
Smuggling there almost seems a
virtue, because it is robbing the robber! (Laughter) Even
some of the princes are caught smuggling.
Disciple: There is now a movement
for separating the C.P. Marathi-speaking and Hindi-speaking.
It has weakened the Congress.
Sri Aurobindo: Nagpur was a very
good centre of the Nationalists. The two portions–Marathi
and Hindi–should have been separated to begin
7th January, 1939
Disciple: Can the ego be removed by
the psychic attitude and by the realization of
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
Disciple: How is the ego
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 that
removes the ego, because then one
identifies himself with the Spirit.
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
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
abolished; but the vital and the
physical still retain their egoistic movements. That is what
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 again.”.
Disciple: What is really meant by
Sri Aurobindo: It means that the
subconsciousness has in it certain gathered powers which
impose themselves on the human being.
Disciple: How to transform or change
this human nature?
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
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 very difficult.
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
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 excuses.
Disciple: Was there a time when
these things were experienced?
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
Disciple: Could a great person in
the conquest of the physical being have been made at that
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 not
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 to fail”.
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
Disciple: Did he lose the contact
with the Brahmic consciousness entirely?
Sri Aurobindo: No, it is only
apparently lost. But if he cannot go further, then his yoga
stops there, that is all.
Disciple: Can the new comers make
Sri Aurobindo: Certainly they can. I
know cases, where they go on very well making good
Disciple: Will the yoga be more easy
for the lucky new comers?
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
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
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
Disciple: Is there nothing that can
be taken as established informally in all the
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 the
subconscient this accident came. It
can be a test. Disciple: What made the attack
Sri Aurobindo: There were gaps in
the physical. Disciple: Can one take this as a part of Lila
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
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
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 over.
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
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
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
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 even reversed.
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 little.
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
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 money regularly?
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
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 without money.
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 that suit.
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 Mohan.
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
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!” (laughter)
Disciple: How was Mono Mohan in
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
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
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
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
Disciple: In Bengal it is practiced
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 without operation.
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
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
Disciple: I do not think that any
system of medicine can succeed in curing all diseases. I
that only yogic power can cure all
Disciple: Even that is not
unconditional; otherwise, it might be very nice. There are
conditions to be fulfilled for the yogic power to
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
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 world! (Laughter)
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
Some Evening-Talks refer to this
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 age.
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 outside.
Sri Aurobindo: But she wrote to us
that she is never happy outside!
Disciple: In the papers we find that
Stalin has made allegations against Trotsky; can there be
any truth in them?
Sri Aurobindo: Not
Disciple: But the confessions of the
generals were dramatic.
Sri Aurobindo: That they did to save
Disciple: A Japanese general
predicts a hundred year war to civilize the
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:
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
Sri Aurobindo: That is not so easy.
Naval equipment is not enough; without a strong army it is
very difficult to conquer India.
Disciple: Congress ministers are
trying to introduce military training in U.P., C.P., and
Bombay. But Sir Sikander
Hayat in the Panjab is counting the
distinction between martial and non-martial
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
Disciple: The problem is of the
Sri Aurobindo: They also want
independence; only they want” “Mohammedan
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
Disciple: But why France depends so
much upon England?
Sri Aurobindo: Because she has no
Disciple: It is the short-sighted
policy of the Allies, that has given chance to
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 always wants to placate
Italy; but England came in the way with “sanctions”. They
could not save Abyssinia and made an enemy of
Disciple: The cry of Tunis was to
divert the attention from Spain.
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
Sri Aurobindo: Russia is too far and
I don’t know if it is trustworthy. Disciple: But the
newspapers report that America is preparing
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.
13th January 1939.
The Mother was present when X put
the following question to her. Disciple: Mother, is it a sin
to kill bugs, mosquitoes, scorpions etc.?
“Ask Sri Aurobindo”; The Mother
replied smiling. “When I came here I used to drive them away
by yogic force. Sri Aurobindo did not approve of
Sri Aurobindo: Because one is making
friendship with the in that way. What is the sin? If you
don’t kill them they will go and bite some other people and
won’t it be a sin to you?
Disciple: But they have life, Sir?
Sri Aurobindo: Yes, they have. 119
Disciple: And, if one kills
Sri Aurobindo: Well, what
Disciple: He will be liable to sin
of course. I don’t mean we don’t kill at all, for instance,
we are breathing microbes.
Mother: The doctors don’t
Disciple: Yes Mother. But I mean
their killing is not intentional. Disciple: It is said that
the Jains hire people to feed bugs! Disciple: No. That is
only a story.
Sri Aurobindo: At any rate, I know
of a story in history. When Mahmed of Gazni invaded (West)
India he defeated a Jain king through the help of his
brother. The dethroned king was left in charge of his
brother, who was now the king. He did not know what to do
with his brother; so, he dug a pit below his throne and
threw him in it and closed it up. As a result he died: so
that his brother did not kill him! (laughter)
Mother: Then, in order to be true
Jain, one must be a yogi and then with yogic power he can
deal with these animals and insects?
Disciple: Is one justified in
killing snakes and scorpions?
Sri Aurobindo: Why not? One must
kill in self-defense. I don’t mean that you must hunt out
the snakes and kill them. But when you see that they are
endangering your or other lives, then you have every right
to kill them.
Mother: The plants have also life.
So, you mean to say
that mosquito is more precious then
rose? You don’t know perhaps how the plants feel. Disciple:
There are people who say that killing a dog or a cat is not
so sinful as killing a man.
Sri Aurobindo: Life is life–whether
in a cat, or dog or man. There is no difference in that
between cat or man. The idea of difference is a human
conception for man’s own advantage perhaps.
14th January 1939
The topic of Homeopathy came up. It
was said that it has cures for religious depression and
Disciple: Anger, the scientists say,
is due to the reaction of glands. But can “egoism” be cured
Disciple: If it can be cured, I
would be the first to apply for it.
Disciple: “The fact you are
conscious about the “ego” makes half the cure–is it not?”
he said turning to Sri Aurobindo.
Sri Aurobindo: Not necessarily. But
it is the first step. Disciple: And what is the
Sri Aurobindo: To detach oneself
from all these things; to think as if all these things
belong to the other being, or some one else. As one goes on
doing this the Purusha gradually withdraws its sanction from
the Prakriti and
the Prakriti looses its hold over
nature till a spiritual control takes place. But if one
associates oneself with Nature, Prakriti, then the Purusha
becomes slave to it. Rejection, of course, is the stronger
way. One has to reject these things before they enter, as I
did the thoughts. It is more powerful and the result also is
There is also a mental control; but
there too it is the nature of Mind trying to control the
nature of the Vital. It has only a temporary and partial
control. The thing is rather suppressed within and can come
out at any opportunity.
I heard of a Yogi in Benares bathing
in one of the Ghats. In the neighbouring ghat a Kashmiri
woman came to bathe. As soon as he saw her he fell upon her
and tried to outrage her. That is evidently a case of mental
control. But by Sadhana–yogic effort–sometimes things
which have not been there come up. I have heard about it
from many persons.
In my case, I saw anger coming up
and possessing me. It was absolutely uncontrollable when it
came. I was very much surprised as to my nature. Anger has
always been foreign to me.
At another time while I was a
undertrial prisoner at Alipore jail, a terrible catastrophe
was avoided. Prisoners had to wait outside for sometime
before entering the cells. As we were waiting a Scotch
Warder came and gave me a push. The young men around me
became very excited, and I did nothing but gave him such a
look that he immediately fled and called the jailer. It was
a communicative anger and all the young men rallied round to
attack him. When the jailer, who was rather a religious man
arrived, the Warder said, I had given him
a “subordinate look”. The jailer
asked me and I told him that I have never been used to such
treatment. The jailer pacified the whole group and said
while going, “we have all to bear our cross.”
Disciple: Is Rudra Bhava something
like Ramakrishna’s story about the snake, where anger is to
be shown without really feeling it.
Sri Aurobindo: Not at all. It is
something genuine, a violent severity against something very
wrong. e.g. the Rudra Bhava of Shiva. Anger one knows by its
feeling of sensations, it rises from below, while Rudra
Bhava rises from the heart. I will give you an instance.
Once X became very violent against the Mother and was
shouting and showing his fists. As I heard the shouting, a
violent severity came down, that was absolutely
uncontrollable. I went out and said: “Who is shouting at the
Mother? Who is shouting here?” As soon as he heard it he
became very quiet.
Disciple: I heard X had a very
Sri Aurobindo: Yes, he was otherwise
an earnest Sadhaka, became conscious of many things and made
progress. But these fits used to come to him now and then.
Some Asuric forces used to catch hold of him and he could
not control himself. It is these forces that have failed him
in the yoga, for I hear he does not have these attacks now
outside. When under the grip he could not see that he was in
the wrong. He blamed me and the Mother, though we had been
very lenient and considerate to him. After sometime he was
able to recognize his faults, admit it and promise that he
would not do it again. But again he would be swept away by
the forces. Sometimes his vanity and self-respect would come
the way of his admitting the fault
immediately. That is the mistake. One must not justify one’s
wrong. If one does that, it comes again and makes it more
difficult to get rid of it.
Disciple: ‘Y’ after doing so much
Tapasya is thinking of leaving the Ashram and that too after
twelve years of stay.
Sri Aurobindo: What Tapasya? If
complete control was given to him he would have stayed
Disciple: He says, he is helping the
Sri Aurobindo: Helping only? I
thought he was conducting the Ashram? (Laughter)
Disciple: but these kinds of
people–will they ever realize the Divine?
Sri Aurobindo: Everyone will arrive
at the Divine. ‘A.’ once asked the Mother if he will realize
God. The Mother replied that he will, unless he did
something idiotic and cut short the life, and that is what
he has done.
15th January, 1939
Sri Aurobindo opened the topic by
referring to a letter from an American.
Sri Aurobindo: There is a job which
perhaps “X:” would like to attend to. The letter is
addressed to Sri Aurobindo Ashram under the belief that it
is a person. The man wants sporting items, and
“predictions”. He says:
As you are a Yogi you “can go into
trance” and we will share the profits!! Let me know your
terms. Then he says: “If you don’t want to take the money,
you can give it to the poor! (turning to X.). You can go
into trance or send “Y” into it. I will be a hard
I have no objections to sharing
profits, only we share in profits not in loss!! Besides, we
class ourselves among the poor, so we won’t have to find
All sorts of half-crazy people are
writing to us from every where, from Germany, America etc. I
wonder how they manage to get the address.
Disciple: It must be from the
magazine in which A wrote an article giving his Ashram
address from which he thought “Aurobindo Ashram” was a man!
In that case, A must take up the matter and reply to this
Disciple: I am afraid, we won’t get
anything in spite of the proposal to share profits. In
Gujarat there was–I believe even now is–a small group of
seekers under the guidance of late Narsimhacharya who got an
offer from American promising fabulous returns from small
investments. The followers were all taken in, Lakhs of
rupees were sent and nothing was heard
Disciple: On the other hand some
Indian Sannyasis are making good business in America. One of
them has modernized yoga; his method is a combination of
business and yoga, “sets of lectures and courses of
Sri Aurobindo: “R” was telling “M”
that if he went to America he would be a great success. I
think “R” was right. Some of these people have the character
of a charlatan.
Disciple: But coming to his
question: is it possible to predict sport items and cotton
prices and share-fluctuations?
Disciple: I knew an astrologer who
impressed my cousin very much and when he acted under his
guidance his predictions did not at all come
Sri Aurobindo: But I had a
remarkable experience at Baroda, not of an astrologer but of
one who knew thought-reading. His predictions as an
astrologer were all wrong. The manager of my house,
Chhotalal, took me to this man and asked me to have some
questions in my mind.
As we entered his room he told me
all the four questions that were in my mind; and the curious
thing is that three questions were clearly formulated in my
mind, but the fourth one had escaped me; but he caught that
also; it was remarkable.
Disciple: Is anything being done to
get some of your books published in America?
Sri Aurobindo: No. Besides, I don’t
know if the Americans are interested in profound questions.
Swami Nikhilananda, I heard, wrote an article about me which
Miss Wilson Nishta says, was profound. The editor of the
paper returned it saying, “it won’t interest the Americans,”
and he had to change it and made it what it is.
Disciple: But the Americans are open
to new ideas.
Sri Aurobindo: Yes. If they would
not want sensation and change the openness to new ideas
would be very great advantage. As it is all one can say is
that there are more people in America interested in these
things than in
Europe, though in Europe also the
number of people who are interested in these things is
increasing now a days.
Disciple: One Thompson, graduate
from Oxford, according to his own statement, came to the
gate and I had some humourous exchange of sentences with
him. He was very queer.
Sri Aurobindo: It must be he, who
recently sent me a long letter on philosophy. I don’t think,
he himself was clear about what he wrote. What was your
exchange with him like?
Disciple: I was just going out when
the Sadhak at the gate-duty asked me to help him to
understand this new arrival, Thompson. I asked him: May I
know your name, please? He: “Name! I have no name”. “Apart
from philosophical considerations about the reality or
unreality of it, a name is a necessity in this
unphilosophical world” I said. He: “You can call me anything
you like–it matters very little to me”. I: “It is not a
question of my calling you anything. Unfortunately there is
the Police Department which will demand a passport with a
name, and that matters.”
Sri Aurobindo: Then what did he
Disciple: At last he said his name
was Thompson.” (laughter)
Disciple: I remember a difficult
question: “Is it in keeping with yoga to get oneself
Sri Aurobindo: Thakur Dayananda
would say “no”. He was always depending on God and did not
believe in storing things. If you don’t get anything, it
means, God wants
you to starve. The whole group used
to sing and dance, there was an excited expression of their
Sadhana, some kind of vital demonstration.
Later on he complained that the
disciples were drawing out his vital forces.
They had the faith that nothing
could happen to them; when the police came to arrest them
they were all singing and dancing. Seeing them in exaltation
the police went away. They thought that they were
invincible. The Government sent soldiers to arrest them.
Then their faith was shaken. One of the prominent disciples,
Mohindra De also lost his faith, though he was the victim of
his own enthusiasm.
Disciple: How can the vital forces
of oneself be drawn out when one is in contact with the
Sri Aurobindo: The force that
supports the work, the vital force, is different from the
Disciple: Do you remember one
Kulkarni who came and was complaining that his vital force
was being drawn out?
Sri Aurobindo: Yes. He was
surrounding by forces of disintegration, chaos, disaster and
death. And he was unconsciously throwing it out.
Disciple: One of us then told you
that Kulkarni had strength and intensity. Then you had said
something remarkable: “You call it strength? It is some wild
intensity of weakness–not strength!”
Sri Aurobindo: Intensity with
solidity pays; but without support below, it does not lead
to anything. ‘B’ was like that and so was ‘J.’
Disciple: But B did brilliant
Sri Aurobindo: Yes. What he did was
brilliant but slight, there was nothing below to support,
the intensity had no body, so to say. He went because of his
ambition, he wanted to be right-hand man. Mother put a
divine entity into him; it left him when he left the place.
He has failed all through.
Disciple: But he was a good
lieutenant in the old days.
Sri Aurobindo: There are some people
who are good as lieutenants, but by themselves they are
nothing. ‘B’ is like that. I supported him but he used to
leave one thing and go in for another. He spoiled his career
through his own fault.
Disciple: Some people say that now
he speaks unfavourably about the Ashram.
Sri Aurobindo: We know that. To ‘M’
who was coming here he said: “he has caught you by his
philosophy” meaning me.
But the Mother knows these things
even without any reports from outside.
Disciple: Our friend D who has the
“eternal doubter” in him met Upen Banerjee at Calcutta and
asked Upen whether he believes in God.
Sri Aurobindo: What did Upen
Disciple: He said: “How can I say I
don’t believe in God when I know Sri Aurobindo? I have a
measuring rod for men and I can measure them all right; but
in Sri Aurobindo’s case I cannot measure him. In case of
great people they reach a certain
point in their growth and then they stop, whereas in his
case he is always going on further and further.
Sri Aurobindo: (smiled) I see. Upen
also has intensity; he had agnosticism and faith. It is that
which makes his writing brilliant. But he could never
understand the “Arya”. Why, Rishikesh (Kanjilal) also was
one in whom doubt could never get the better of faith and
faith could not of doubt! (Laughter) He always wanted to fix
himself to some anchor,–he could not give up seeking, nor
pursue steadily and find an anchor. “The movement will not
grow” he used to say. (after pause) The revolutionaries were
quite an interesting lot and though not fit for yoga, one
could not feel dull in their company.
Disciple: “K” was enthusiastic about
Sri Aurobindo: He was. But he was
not able to stand the trial of yoga. I don’t think he had
the capacity to do the yoga; he had too tall an idea about
himself, and he is crude. And as to ‘Kh’ I wonder how he
could ever have done the yoga.
16th January 1939.
There was a humourous sequel to a
telegram requesting for “ashes”. It was a puzzle for some
time and after some effort the word “ashisha”, meaning
“blessing” was rightly understood.
Disciple: I do not understand why he
is asking for “ashes”.
Sri Aurobindo: I don’t understand
either. When I used to smoke I could have sent at least the
cigar ashes. But now I do not smoke?
Disciple: But we are burning here
the mosquito-coils. The ashes of the coils can be sent.
Disciple: But I think he is asking
for Blessings–the post office in receiving the Sanskrit
word Ashisha seems to have turned it into “ashes”!
Disciple: I read a paper written by
Prof. Somesh Bose, a mathematician, in which he mentions
that Bholagiri, a Sadhu had meditation with his wife who was
dead. He says that he saw them both, his dead wife present
“in flesh and blood”. The question is: Is it possible? Also,
whether Bholanath materialized his wife or she did it
herself? Somesh says, she was everyday present at the prayer
time. Can she remain like that in her materialized body
almost all the time? Does she live with Bholagiri all the
time, or does she come and go? What will materialists
Disciple: They will say, it is all
humbug. (turning to Sri Aurobindo) But what does yoga
Sri Aurobindo: “Many possibilities”.
This seems to be a case of temporary materializing, as
Bholagiri is present every time. I believe, there is always
a difference between material body and a materialized body.
This kind of materializing commonly takes place immediately
after a man dies. You find that he visits either a relation
or a friend. If the fact of his death is not known or if the
man is not known to be living far away, people mistake it
for an actual physical presence.
There are many authentic cases of
this kind. My poetic brother Mono Mohan’s friend Stephen
Philips said that his mother had visited him after her
death. Mono Mohan told me the story, ascribing the
experience to telepathic communication of the form. But I
think it is not mere communication of form or cast by the
mind only. There is the vital and the physical part which
Disciple: You have already cited the
other day the case of Lord Strethmore. But is it possible to
Sri Aurobindo: Theoretically, it
should be possible, though I have known no case of the same.
After the experience we had of the stone-throwing in the
Guest-house here, I believe, if the stones could be
materialized, why not a human being?
Disciple: The Egyptians preserved
the human body after death, with the belief that the soul
would return to it after some years. Paul Brunton claims to
have met some spirit hoary with age on the hill near the
Sri Aurobindo: The Egyptians
believed that at the time of death the Ka, the vital being,
went out of the man and after a thousand years, if the body
was preserved, it would return to it. Brunton, I suppose,
materialized the belief.
Disciple: Is it possible to
revitalize the dead? Sri Aurobindo: I can’t say.
Disciple: There is a reported case
of a Bey whom Brunton met and who revived a sparrow after it
was dead. Brunton says that he saw the same phenomenon
med by Vishuddhananda, “Gandhi
Swamy” as he was called. Is it possible?
Sri Aurobindo: That is possible.
Just as you can revive a drowned man by pulling his physical
organs into function again, that is, by resorting to
physical devices life can be restored. If you know how to
reintroduce the power that sets the organs to action, after
the body is wounded or dead, you can revive the
The real question is whether it is
the being of the man that comes back to life, or it is some
other spirit that wants to live and gets hold of the body.
Both are possible, because revival is done in two ways: One,
is to bring back the spirit of the man which is still not
far away, the other is to get some other spirit that
consents to come.
Disciple: Can the vital-being be
called back to the body?
Sri Aurobindo: Yes, if it has not
gone away very far it can be pulled back to the body. (The
subject was changed)
Disciple: There is chance of “C”
Disciple: He has been coming for a
Disciple: He is coming after
organizing his property.
Sri Aurobindo: Is he still
organizing his property? Has he much property left?
Disciple: I am afraid he has lost everything.
Sri Aurobindo: He is a phenomenon!
Do you remember
the name of the person who
apologized to us? I wonder whether he offered the apology
because his public attack did not succeed.
Disciple: Yes. He seemed to have
gathered all sorts of false facts from all kinds of people.
Disciple: Did you read his book?
Sri Aurobindo: I simply glanced at
it! I don’t think he sold more than half a dozen copies.
(after a pause) It seems “M” has expressed sorrow for what
she did here and explained that she acted under the
influence of S and B.
Disciple: The attack by “R” was not
of any allegations. His objection was that the Ashram was
not doing what he calls public work.
Sri Aurobindo: What work?
Disciple: Say country’s work, work
Sri Aurobindo: It is quite a new
objection. Nobody expects an Ashram, a spiritual
institution, to do work!
Disciple: The Ramkrishna Mission,
Gandhi’s Ashram and some other institutions do some public
work and so people expect an Ashram to work for
Sri Aurobindo: Perhaps, because I
did political work they expect that I should continue doing
it all my life.
Disciple: Not only that, the
objection is that so many young men are being drawn away
from the field of work.
Sri Aurobindo: Oh, I see.
Disciple: But Gandhi’s Ashram is not
a spiritual institution. It is a group of people gathered to
be trained to do some work on Mahatma’s principles and
methods. One can say that service to the public is one of
But Subhas wrote against the Ashram
recently on the ground that it was attracting away some of
the best people from country’s work.
Disciple: I don’t remember if he
wrote “best” or “good” for those who came here. He quoted
the example of D.
Sri Aurobindo: But D was not doing
Disciple: Subha’s idea was that D
may not do political work now. But when the time came he
must be prepared to give up everything and join the
Sri Aurobindo: I see, one can’t give
up everything for God!
Disciple: But suppose one gives up
everything for country’s freedom, then what is he to do
afterwards, except perhaps going to jail.
Sri Aurobindo: D in jail! Perhaps he
would write off some stories about his agony. Disciple:
That, perhaps, would be a gain to literature, not to
Sri Aurobindo: At the time of the
Gandhi movement some one asked Abanindranath Tagore, why he
was not giving up his painting for the sake of the country
and take to politics. He said: I believe, I serve the
country through my painting in which I have some capacity,
least, is something I know; whereas
I would be only a bad politician.
Disciple: Tagore narrowly escaped
the Charkha. But it seems Nandlal Bose is turning
Sri Aurobindo: He is a man of
ascetic temperament. There was an enthusiast who even wrote
an article showing that the Chakra referred to in the Gita
was the Charkha!
Disciple: It was Vinoba Bhave, a
disciple of Mahatma.
The topic changed to Baroda. Dr. M.
mentioned that now the old race course is covered by fine
buildings constructed by co-operative Societies and that
doctor Balabhai was still alive staying in one of the new
buildings. He is nearly eighty-five.
Sri Aurobindo: (After a pause) The
mention of Baroda brought to my mind the connection with the
Gaekwad. It is strange how things arrange themselves at
times. I had failed in the I. C. S. and was looking for a
job. Exactly at the time the Gaekwad happened to be in
London. I don’t remember whether he called us, or we met
him, but an elderly gentleman, whom we consulted, was quite
willing to propose Rs. 200/- per month as a good sum. It
would be more than £10/- and it is surprising that he
thought it was very good!
But I left the negotiations to my
elder brother and James Cotton. I knew nothing about life at
Disciple: What were the expenses in
Sri Aurobindo: Before the war, it
was quite decent living for £5/-. Our landlady was an
angel. She came from
Somerset and had settled in
London–perhaps after she was widowed. She was long
suffering and never asked us for money even if we did not
pay for months and months. I wonder how she managed. I paid
her from my I. C. S. stipend.
It was father’s fault that I failed
in the riding test. He did not send money and the riding
lessons at Cambridge then were rather costly. The teacher
was also careless; so long as he got his money he simply
left me with the horse and I was not particular.
I tried riding again at Baroda with
Madhav Rao but it was not successful.
My failure was a great
disappointment to my father because he had arranged
everything for me through Sir Henry Cotton. A post was kept
for me in the district of Arah which is considered a fine
place. All that came down like a wall. (pause)
I wonder what would have happened to
me if I had joined the civil service. I think, they would
have chucked me for laziness and arrears of work!
Disciple: Do you remember Nana Saheb
Sinde of Baroda?
Sri Aurobindo: Yes, Madhav Rao
Jadhav, myself and Nana Saheb all of us held revolutionary
ideas at that time.
Disciple: He has spoken to the youth
conference emphasizing the need of military training for the
defense of the country. His speech was against the current
vogue of non-violence.
Sri Aurobindo: It is good that some
one raises voice like
that when efforts are being made to
make non-violence the method of solving all
Disciple: But the insistence on
non-violence has succeeded in disarming the Pathan of the
Frontier. It seems, Gandhi objected to armed volunteers
keeping guard over him while he was in the Frontier
Sri Aurobindo: And what were they
expected to do in case there was an attack? Stand simply?
Disciple: No. They should die resisting.
Sri Aurobindo: This non-violent
resistance I have never been able to fathom. I can
understand an attitude of absolute non-resistance to Evil,
as the Christians say “Resist not the Evil”. You may die
without resisting and accept the consequences as sent by
God. But to resist passively seems to me meaningless. And to
change the opponent’s heart by such passive resistance is
something I don’t
Disciple: And the “Modern Review”
put in another objection which is worth considering. The
article accepts that non-violence may be a good gospel for a
great Saint but for the ordinary man to allow evil to
triumph so easily–by passive resistance–would not be good
for the society. There is no reason to hope that the goonda
will change his mind, or heart, if you allow him to kill
Sri Aurobindo: I am afraid,
non-violence is being applied to other fields whereas its
extreme application is meant for spiritual life.
Non-violence or Ahinsa as a spiritual attitude and its
practice is perfectly understandable and has a standing. You
may not accept it in toto but it
has a basis in the Reality. You can
live it in spiritual life but to try to apply to all life
much. Such an application ignores
the great principle of Adhikar,–qualification even as the
Europeans do. Also it makes no provision for difference of
Disciple: Mahatma’s point is that in
either case, whether with arms or without, you are prepared
to die. Then, why not try to die without arms, since
armaments are piling up in all nations and there is no end
to where it will lead. In the other case you perpetuate
passive-resistance while in fighting you perpetuate
Sri Aurobindo: If you bring in the
question of expense then the reasons for non-violence, we
must admit, are economic and not ethical. (after a
It is a principle which can be
applied with success if practiced on a mass scale, specially
by unarmed people like the Indians, because you are left
with no other choice. But even when it succeeds it is not
that you have changed the heart of the enemy, but that you
have made it impossible for him to rule. That is what
happened in Ireland. There was in Ireland armed resistance
also but that would not have succeeded without the passive
resistance side by side. Such tremendous generalizations
like “passive resistance for all”, “Charkha for all”,
“celibacy for all” hardly work.