Sir Aurobindo – 1907
EVENING TALKS wit SRI AUROBINDO
Recorded by A. B. PURANI
18th December 1938 (4-30 P. M.)
Disciple: It is surprising that Swami Nikhilananda should
write about you. (There was an article in the Hindu by Swami
Sri Aurobindo: It is Nishha (Miss Wilson) who arranged
for its publication through him, her friend, before she came
here. (After some silence) It is peculiar how they give an
American turn to everything (Ref. to the article)
Disciple: How is that the Americans seem to be more
Sri Aurobindo: Yes, because they are a new nation and
have no past tradition to bind them. France and Czech-
oslovakia also are open. Many are writing from there to
do yoga. Disciple: Nisha was in communication with you for
Sri Aurobindo: Oh yes, for three or four years she has
been in touch with us. She has very clear ideas about Yoga
and is practicing it there. (At this point X. arrived and
remarked that she must be very disappointed because there
was no Darshan this time.)
Sri Aurobindo: No. She has taken it in the right yogic
attitude, unlike others.
Then X. went on asking how is it that there are no
Maharashtrian Sadhaks here in spite of Sri Aurobindo’s being
in contact with Tilak and remaining a long time in
Sri Aurobindo: Yes; it is strange. They are more vital in
their nature. The Bengali, Gujarati and Tamil people are
more in numbers. It is now spreading in other parts C. P.
(The talk then passed on to Supermind)
Disciple: I hope we shall live to see the glorious day of
the Supermind. When will it descend, Sir?
Sri Aurobindo (remained silent to this question and
said): How can it descend? The nearer it comes the greater
becomes the resistance to it!
Disciple: On the contrary the law of gravitation should
pull it down.
Sri Aurobindo: That theory does not apply to it for it
has levitation tendency and if it comes down in spite of
that it does so against tremendous resistance.
Disciple: Have you realized Supermind?
Sri Aurobindo: You know I was talking about the tail of
the Supermind to Y. I know what it is, I had flashes and
glimpses of it. I have been trying to Supramentalize the
Overmind. Not that the Supermind is not acting. It is doing
so through Overmind and Intuition and the intermediate
powers have come down. Supermind is above the Overmind (He
showed it by placing one palm above the
other) so that one may mistake one for the other. I
remember the day when people here claimed to have got it. I
myself had made mistakes about it in the beginning, and I
did not know about the many planes. It was Vivekananda who
used to come to me in Alipore Jail and showed to me
Intuitive plane and for about two to three weeks or so gave
me training as regards Intuition. Then afterwards I began to
see still higher planes. I am not satisfied with only a
part, or a flash of Supermind but I want to bring down the
whole mass of the Supermind pure, and that is an extremely
Disciple: We hear that there will be a selected number of
people who will first receive the Supermind.
Sri Aurobindo (made a peculiar expression with his eyes
and asked): Selected by whom? Disciple: By the Supermind,
Sri Aurobindo (Laughingly): Oh, that is for the Supermind
to decide. Whatever is the Truth will be done by it, for
Supermind is Truth-Consciousness and things are established
in the course by it so that your complaint about the
disappearance of calm etc. will disappear, for they will be
established by the Supermind.
Disciple: Will the descent of Supermind make things
easier for us?
Sri Aurobindo: It will do so to those who receive the
Supermind, who are open to it; for example, if there are
thirty or forty people ready it could descend.
Disciple: You said that in 1934 Supermind was ready to
descend but not a single Sadhak was found prepared. So it
withdrew. But you told me once that the descent of Supermind
does not depend on readiness of Sadhaks.
Sri Aurobindo: If none is ready to receive how will the
Supermind manifest itself? But instead of thinking of
Supermind one has first to open oneself to Intuition.
(At this time Mother came and asked what were we
Sri Aurobindo: About intuition etc. (Then as Mother
lapsed into meditation we all joined. Mother departed for
meditation at about 7 P. M.)
Sri Aurobindo: “Does any one know about S.? I am curious
to know how his blood came out drop by drop from the body.
He seems to have Elizabethan turn of expression”. Then the
topic turned to the question of fear of death with S. and
N’s example. How they cover their body for fear of catching
Sri Aurobindo told a story that at Cambridge they were
discussing about physical development. Then one fellow in
order to show his own courage began taking out his genji one
after another and they found that there were about 10 or 12
on his body!!
Disciple: There are people who think that as soon as they
have entered the Ashram they have become immortal! We must
develop our consciousness in order to conquer death, is it
Sri Aurobindo: People think so, because for a long time
no death took place in the Ashram. Those who died were
either visitors or who had gone back from here. In the
beginning people had strong faith but as the number
increased, the faith began to diminish. But why one should
Besides fear has no place in yoga. The soul is immortal
and the body passes. The soul goes from one life to
Disciple: We fear because of our attachments.
Sri Aurobindo: One must have no attachments in yoga.
Disciple: How to conquer fear?
Sri Aurobindo: By mental strength, will and spiritual
power. In my own case, whenever there was any fear I used to
do the very things that I was afraid of even if it entailed
a violent death. Barin also had much fear while he was in
the terrorist activity. But he would compel himself to do
those things. When death sentence was passed on him he took
it very cheerfully. Henry IV, King of France, had a great
physical fear but by his mental will he would compel himself
to rush into thick of the battle and was known as a great
warrior. Napoleon and Caesar had no fear. Once when Caesar
was fighting the forces of Pompeii in Albania, Caesar’s army
was faring badly. Caesar was at that time in Italy. He
jumped into the sea, took a fisherman’s boat and asked him
to carry him there. On the way a storm rose and the
fisherman was mortally afraid. The Caesar said “Why do you
fear? You are carrying the fortunes of Caesar.”
I remember one Sadhaka under an attack of hiccoup saying
“If it goes on I will die.” I told him “What does it matter
if you die?” and the hiccoup stopped! Very often, these
fears and suggestions bring in the adverse forces which then
catch hold of the subject. By my blunt statement the Sadhaka
realized his folly and did not, perhaps, allow any more
Disciple: Is Barin still doing yoga?
Sri Aurobindo: I don’t know, he used to do some sort of
yoga even before I began. My yoga he took up only after
coming to Pondicherry. In the Andamans also he
was practicing it. You know he was Lele’s disciple. Once
he took Lele to Calcutta among the young people of the
secret society. Lele did not know that they were
revolutionaries. One day Barin took him into a garden where
they were practicing shooting. As soon as Lele saw it he
understood the nature of the movement and asked Barin to
give it up. If Barin did not listen to him, Lele said, he
would fall into a ditch and he did fall.
Disciple: Barin, I heard, had a lot of experiences.
Sri Aurobindo: They were mere mental and he gathered some
knowledge, much information or understanding out of them. I
heard that when he had begun yoga he had an experience of
Kamananda. Lele was surprised to hear about it. For he said
that experience comes usually at the end. It is a descent
like any other experience but unless one’s sex centre is
sufficiently controlled it
may produce bad results etc. emission and other
Disciple: Yes. He had brilliance.
Sri Aurobindo: But he was always narrow and limited. He
would not widen himself, (SriAurobindo showed it by the
movement of hands above the head) that is why his things
e.g. he was brilliant writer and he also wrote devotional
poetry. But nothing that will last because of this
limitation. He was an amazing amateur in many things e.g.
music, revolutionary activity. He was also a painter, though
it did not come to much in spite of his exhibitions. He did
well in all these but nothing more.
Disciple: Barin in his paper “Dawn” began to write your
Sri Aurobindo: I don’t know that. Did he publish a
I would have been interested to see what he writes about
Disciple: It ceased after a short time.
Disciple: You wrote back exclaiming great surprise that
what everyone knows I do not know.
Sri Aurobindo: In fact it is not true. That is, what it
is. Barin does not give the true state of things. I was
neither the founder nor the leader. It was P. Mittra and
Miss Ghosal that started it at the inspiration of Baron
Okakura. They had already started and when I visited Bengal
I cam to know about it. I simply kept myself informed of
their work. My idea was an open armed revolution in the
whole of India. What they did at that time was very
childish. e.g. beating magistrates and so on. Later it
turned into terrorism and dacoities etc. which were not at
all my idea or intention. Bengal is too emotional, wants
quick results, can’t prepare through a long course of years.
We wanted to give battle through creating a spirit in the
race through guerrilla warfare. But at the present stage of
warfare such things are impossible and bound to fail.
Disciple: Then why did you not check it?
Sri Aurobindo: It is not good to check such things that
press for strong expression, when they have taken a strong
step, for, something good may come out of it.
Disciple: You did not appear in the riding test in your
I. C. S.? Sri Aurobindo: No, they gave me another chance.
again I did not appear and finally they rejected me.
Disciple: But why then did you appear in the I.C.S.? Was
it by some intuition that you did not come for the riding
Sri Aurobindo: Not at all. I knew nothing of yoga at that
time. I appeared for I.C.S. because my father wanted it and
I was too young to understand. Later I found out what sort
of work it is and I had disgust for administrative life and
I had no interest in administrative work. My interest was in
poetry and literature and study of languages and patriotic
Disciple: We heard that you and C.R. Das used to make
plans of revolution in India while in England.
Sri Aurobindo: Not only C.R. Das but many others.
Deshpande was one.
Disciple: You used to write very strong memoranda for the
Gaikewad; you once asked him to go and give it to the
Sri Aurobindo: That is legend. I could not have said so.
Of course, I wrote many memoranda for the Maharajah.
Generally he used to indicate the lines and I used to follow
them. But I myself was not much interested in
administration. My interest lay outside in Sanskrit,
literature, in the national movement. When I came to Baroda
from England I found out what the Congress was at that time
and formed a contempt for it. Then I came in touch with
Deshpande, Tilak, Madhav Rao etc. There I strongly
criticized the Congress for its moderate policy. The
articles were so furious that M.G. Ranade, the great
Maharashtra leader, asked the proprietor of the paper
(through Deshpande) not to allow such seditious things to
appear in the paper, otherwise he might be arrested and
imprisoned. Deshpande approached me with
the news and requested me to write something less
violent. I then began to write about philosophy of politics,
leaving aside the practical part of politics. But I soon got
disgusted with it.
Along with Tilak, Madhav Rao, Deshmukh and Joshi who
became a moderate later, we were planning to work on more
extreme lines than the Congress. We brought Jatin Banerji
from Bengal and put him in the Baroda army. Our idea was to
drive moderates from the Congress and capture it.
As soon as I heard that National College had been started
in Bengal, I found my opportunity, threw off the Baroda job
and went to Calcutta as the Principal. There I came in
contact with B. Pal who was editing the “Bande mataram.” But
its financial condition was precarious and when B. Pal was
going on a tour he asked me to take up the paper. I asked
Subodh Mullick and others to finance the paper and went on
Then some people wanted to oust Bipin Chandra Pal from
the Bande Matram and they connected my name also with it. I
called the sub-editor and gave him a severe thrashing, of
course metaphorically. But the mischief was done. Bipin Pal
was a great orator, and at that time his speeches were
highly inspired, a sort of a descent. Later on his power of
oration also got diminished. I remember he never used the
word independence but always said “Autonomy without British
control.” Later on when after Barisal Conference we brought
in the peasants in the movement, forty to fifty thousand of
them used to gather to hear Pal; Suren Banerjee can not
stand comparison with Pal. He has never done anything like
it. But he also lost his power later on. He was more an
orator. He had not the qualities of a leader. Then
Shyamsundar and some other people
came in. It soon drew the attention of large number of
people and became an All-India paper. One day I called the
Bengal leaders and said, “It is no use simply going on like
this. We must capture the Congress and throw out these
moderate leaders from it.” Then we decided to follow Tilak
as the All-India leader.
They at once jumped at the idea. Tilak who was not well
known in the Northern parts was chosen
for leadership. He was a real great man who was
disinterested and a rare great man. Disciple: What do you
think of his Gita? Was it inspired?
Sri Aurobindo: I must say I have not read it.
Disciple: You have reviewed it.
Sri Aurobindo: Then I have reviewed it without having
read it (loud laughter). Of course I might have glanced
through it and I don’t think it is inspired. It is more a
mental interpretation and he had a brilliant mind.
Disciple: When some one asked Tilak what he would do when
India got Swaraj, he said he would again become a professor
Disciple: What about A. B. Patrika? It was also an
Sri Aurobindo: Never, it was impossible for A. B. Patrika
to write openly like the “Bande Mataram” and Jugantar about
independence, guerrilla warfare, day after day in a paper.
It wanted safety first. At that time three papers were
running in Bengal 1. “Jugantar” 2. Bande Mataram 3. And
Sandhya. Brahma Bandhava. Upadhyaya editor of Sandhya was
another great man. He used to write so cleverly the
Government could not charge him; and our financial condition
was so bad and yet we carried on for five to six years.
Disciple: But did the Government not try to arrest you?
Sri Aurobindo: It could not. There was no such law and
the press had more liberty. Besides there was nothing in the
papers that could be directly charged against–so cleverly
were they written. “Statesman” used to complain that the
paper Bande Mataram was full of seditious matter from end to
end. But yet so cleverly was it written that one could not
arrest the editor. Moreover the name of editor was never
published. So they could arrest only the printer. But when
one was arrested another came to take his place. Later on
Upen Banerjee, Sub-editor, published some correspondence for
which I was arrested on sedition charge, but as nothing
could be proved I was acquitted. But in my absence as they
were disastrously up against finance they wrote something
very strong and the paper was suppressed. After another
arrest I published the “Karmayogin”. There I wrote an
article “Open letter to my countrymen.” for which the
Government wanted to prosecute me. While the prosecution was
pending I went secretly to Chandranagore and there some
friends were thinking of sending me to France. I was
thinking want to do next. There I heard the Adesh to go to
Disciple: Why to Pondicherry?
Sri Aurobindo: I could not question. It was Sri Krishna’s
Adesh. I had to obey. Later on I found it was for the Ashram
and for the Work.
I had to apply for a pass-port under a false name. The
Ship Company required Medical Certificate by an English
Doctor. After a great deal of trouble I found out one and
went to his house. He told me that I could speak English
remarkably well. I replied that I had been to England.
Disciple: You took the certificate under a false name. (I
was a little surprised to hear he had
disguised under a false name. So the question.)
Sri Aurobindo: Of course. If I had given my name, I would
have been at once arrested. With due respect to Gandhi’s
truth I could not be exactly precise about my name,
otherwise you can’t be a revolutionary.
Accompanied by Bijoy and preceded by Moni and followed by
my brother-in-law I arrived in Pondicherry but had to assume
false names for some time.
22nd December 1938.
(All of us assembled in hope of hearing something from
Sri Aurobindo. I was actually praying for it. But he did not
seem to be in a talking mood. So we were forced to keep
quiet at the same time thinking how to draw him into
conversation and by what question. Suddenly we find X.
beaming with a smile and looking at Sri Aurobindo. Then he
takes a few more moves nearer to Sri Aurobindo and we
automatically follow him, he still nears and then he bursts
out with a question: “To attain right attitude what
principles should we follow in our dealing and behaviour
Sri Aurobindo could not quite catch the question so it
was repeated and he replied: It seems to me the other way
about. If we have the right attitude other things come by
themselves. Right attitude is necessary; what is important
is the inner attitude. Spiritual and ethical principles are
quite different, for every thing depends on whether it is
done for the sake of the Spirit or ethical reasons.
One may observe mental control in dealings etc. but the
inner state may be quite different e.g. he may not show
anger, may be humble externally, but internally he may be
proud and full of anger. For
example A. when he came here he was full of humility
outside. It is the psychic control that is required and when
that is there right attitude follows in one’s external
behaviour. Conduct must flow from within outwards and the
more one opens to the psychic influence the more it gains
over the outer nature. Mental control may or may not lead to
the spiritual. In people of a certain type it may be the
first step towards psychic control.
Disciple: How to get psychic control?
Sri Aurobindo: By constant remembrance, consecration of
ourselves to the Divine, rejection of all that stands in the
way of the psychic influence. Generally, it is the vital
that stands in the way with its desires and demands. And
once the psychic opens it shows at every step what is to be
done. (At the later stage of the conversation Mother came
and soon after we all lapsed into meditation with the
After her departure at about 7 P.M. Sri Aurobindo asked
X. “What is the idea behind your question? Something
personal or a general question?”
Disciple: I meant, for instance, how to see good in every
body, how to love all and have good-will
Sri Aurobindo: One has to start with the idea of
good-will for all; to consecrate oneself to the Divine, try
to see God in others, have a psychic good-will and in
oneself reject all vital and mental impulses, and on that
basis proceed towards the realization. The idea must pass
into experience. Even then, it is easy in static aspect, but
when it comes to the dynamic experience it becomes
difficult. For example, when one finds a man behaving like a
brute it is very difficult to see God in him unless one
separates him from outer nature and sees the Divine
One can repeat the name of the Divine and come to divine
consciousness. Disciple: How does name do it?
Sri Aurobindo: Name has a power like Mantra. Everything
in the world is power. There are others who do Pranayama
along with the name. After a time the repetition behind the
Pranayama becomes automatic and one feels Divine presence
etc. Here people once began to feel tremendous force in
their work. They would work without fatigue for hours and
hours, but they began to overdo it. One has to be reasonable
even in spirituality. That was when the Sadhana was in the
vital. But when it began in the physical then things were
different. Physical is like a stone, full of inertia and
Disciple: Sometimes one feels a sort of love for
everybody, though the feeling lasts for a second it gives a
Sri Aurobindo: That is the wave from the psychic. But
what is your attitude towards it? Do you take it as a
passing mood or does it stimulate you to further experience
of that sort?
Disciple: It stimulates but sometimes vital mixture tries
to come in. Fortunately I could drive it out.
Sri Aurobindo: That is the risk. The fact that mixture
tried to come in means that the wave came through the inner
vital and thus took something from the vital. One has to be
very careful in order to avoid these sex impurities. In
spite of his occasional outburst of violence X was a very
nice and affectionate man; but he used to get these things
mixed up with sex-impulse and the experience was spoiled.
This happens because sometimes one gives a
semi-justification to sex-impulse. But sex is absolutely out
of place in Yoga. In ordinary life it has a certain place
for a certain purpose. Of course, if you
adopt the Sahaja Marga, it is different.
While in jail I know of a man who had a power of
concentration trying to make everyone love him and he
succeeded. The warder and all the people around him were
drawn towards him.
Disciple: That is what we don’t know (laughter)
Sri Aurobindo: The mind must be made quiet and the
consciousness turned-not mentally-towards the aim. It no
doubt takes time but that is the way. There are no devices
for these things.
Disciple: What difference is there between modification
of nature and its transformation?
Sri Aurobindo: Transformation is the casting of the whole
nature in the mould of realization. What you realize you
project out in your nature. Christian Saints speak of the
presence in the heart. That presence can change the
I speak of three transformations: 1. Psychic, 2.
Spiritual and 3. Supramental. Psychic transformation many
had; spiritual is the realization of the Self, the Infinite
above, with its dynamic side of peace, knowledge, ananda
etc. That transformation is spiritual transformation and
above that is the Supramental transformation. It is
Truth-consciousness working for a Divine aim or purpose.
Disciple: If one has inner realization does
transformation follow in the light of the realization?
Sri Aurobindo: Not necessarily. There may be some
modification in the nature-part but the transformation is
not automatic. It is not so easy as all that. My experience
of peace and calm in the first contact with Lele has never
left me, but in my outer nature there were many agitations
and every time I had to make an effort to establish peace.
From that time onwards the
whole object of my yoga was to change nature into the
mould of the inner realization. I had to try to change or
transform these by the influence of my realization.
Disciple: Even then a man with inner realization,–I
don’t mean experience–won’t have grave difficulties such as
sex in his nature.
Sri Aurobindo: Why not? There can be anger, like
Durvasa’s or sex. You have not heard of the fall of Rishis
through anger or through sex? The Yogis pass beyond the
stage of good and evil. Ordinary questions of morality don’t
arise in them. They look upon outer nature as a child
behaving according to its wants. I think X’s fall came in
that way. He had gone into the higher mind, I do not know,
if not even to the overmind state; he used to be guided by
an inner voice which he accepted as the voice of the Divine
and did everything in the light of that voice. When people
were asking him about his conduct I am told he replied that
it was by the voice of God and that every Siddha had done
that. You have heard of Agymananda Swami who went to London?
He was arrested in England for making love to girls.
Disciple: Would not the inner realization stop because of
these outer indulgences.
Sri Aurobindo: It depends on how far one has gone in the
path in spiritual realization. There are any number of
passages, crossways and paths; one may be at liberty to
whatever yoga one likes. But in our yoga we insist on the
transformation of outer nature as well. And when I say
something is necessary in yoga, it means in “our yoga”; it
does not apply to yoga with other aims.
(There was lull for some time after this.)
Then Sri Aurobindo asked: Do you know
anything about M.?
Disciple: My impression was not favourable. I was not
personally attracted by him.
Sri Aurobindo: When I saw his photo I had an impression
that he is a man with strong vital power.
When I saw that he was advertising about himself as
Messiah I began to doubt his genuineness. His sadhana seems
to be in the vital and it is in these cases that the power
descends and unfortunately people are attracted by these
powers. In the spiritual and the psychics even in mental
sadhana, power can come, but it comes automatically without
one asking for it.
Y. was another M. with a powerful vital being. At one
time I had strong hopes about him. But people whose sadhana
is on a vital basis pass into what I have called the
Intermediate Zone and hardly go beyond the vital. It is like
a jungle and it is comparatively much easy with those people
who are weak and have no such power. He used to think that
he had put himself in the Divine’s hand and the Divine is in
him. We had to be severe with him to disillusion him of his
idea. That is why he could not remain here. He went back and
became a guru with about thirty or forty disciples around
him. Gurugiri (Master-ship) comes very often to these
people. He did all that in my name which I heartily
disliked. Unfortunately his mind was not equally powerfully
developed as his vital. He had the fighter’s mind not the
thinker’s. We often put a strong force on him and as a
result he used to become very lucid for a time and he could
see his wrongs. But immediately his vital rushed back and
took control of his mind, it all used to be wiped out. If
his mind had been as developed perhaps he would have been
able to retain the clarity. The intellect helps one to
separate oneself from the vital and look at it
dispassionately. The mind also can deceive but not so much.
M. is another of this type.
Disciple: Why did he go away from here?
Sri Aurobindo: Because he wanted to be an Avatar and
because he could not get rid of the attachment to his work.
He is very unscrupulous.
Disciple: Has he some power?
Sri Aurobindo: Yes. But not an occult power like the
others. Before that he was quite an ordinary man with some
possibilities. When I came out of the jail, you know, I was
staying in his house and I was full of certain force. He got
a share of it.
Sri Aurobindo: He was doing some kind of yoga. I gave him
some instructions. From them he got his power.
Disciple: Was he working on your idea?
Sri Aurobindo: When I was leaving Bengal I thought it
might be possible to work through him on condition that he
remained faithful to me. That he could never be. His own
self came to the front though the original push was from me,
now it is not my force that is working there. These things
become easily unspiritualised.
Disciple: In his “Jivan Sangini” he makes a lot of fuss
over his wife.
Sri Aurobindo: She struck me as a common-place woman
though a good woman. She was a better woman than he as a
man. I saw her only once by chance as she was not used to
come out before people.
Disciple: He had developed a powerful Bengali style.
Sri Aurobindo: Is that so? He was once Translating the
Veda in Bengali.
Disciple: His Bengali, you know, was like Christian
Missionary’s Bengali. You know what it is like.
23rd December 1938
We have assembled as usual, and are eager to resume the
talk. But nobody could begin without some hint or gesture
from Sri Aurobindo. He was lying calmly in his bed.
A disciple made an approach to Sri Aurobindo
half-hesitatingly. This made another disciple roar with
laughter (Sri Aurobindo heard the laughter)
Disciple: X. is roaring with laughter.
Sri Aurobindo: Descent of Ananda?
This primary breaking of the ice made the atmosphere a
little encouraging So, X catching the chance shot the
following question with a beaming face:
Disciple: Because the hostile forces offer resistance to
the Divine manifestation in the world and some of them
become sometimes victorious (at least for the time being)
can one logically say that the Divine lacks Omnipotence? It
is not my question but somebody else’s.
Sri Aurobindo: (turning his head to him) It depends on
what you mean by Omnipotence. If the idea is that God must
always succeed then we must conclude that he is not
Omnipotent. Do you mean to say that he must always succeed
against the resistance and then only he may be called
Omnipotent? People have very queer ideas of Omnipotence.
Resistance is the law of evolution. Resistance comes from
ignorance and ignorance is a part of inconscience: the whole
thing starts from
ignorance that is inconscience. At the very beginning
when the opposition between ignorance and knowledge was
created, there was the very denial of the Divine. It is his
Lila that the manifestation shall proceed through resistance
and struggle: what kind of Lila, or play, it is in which
side goes on winning? Divine Omnipotence generally works
through the universal law. There are forces of Light and
forces of Darkness. To say that the forces of Light shall
always succeed is the same as saying that truth and good
shall always succeed, though there is no such thing as
unmixed truth and unmixed good. Divine Omnipotence
intervenes only at critical or decisive moments.
Every time the Light has tried to descend it has met with
resistance and opposition. Christ was crucified. You may
say, “Why should it be like that when he was innocent?” and
yet that was the Divine dispensation. Buddha was denied;
sons of Light come, the earth denies them, rejects them in
substance. Only a small minority grows towards a spiritual
birth. It is through them the Divine manifestation takes
place. What remains of Buddhism today except a few decrees
of Asoka and a few hundred thousand Buddhists?
Disciple: Asoka helped in propagating Buddhism.
Sri Aurobindo: Anybody could have done that.
Disciple: But it is through his aid that it became
Sri Aurobindo: If kings and emperors had left Buddhism to
those people who were really spiritual it would have been
much better for real Buddhism. It was after Constantine
embraced Christianity that it began to decline. The king of
Norway, on whom Longfellow wrote a poem, killed all people
who were not Christians
and thus succeeded in establishing Christianity! The same
happened to Mohammedanism. When it succeeded the followers
of the Prophet became Khalifas, then the religion declined.
It is not kings and emperors that keep alive spirituality
but people who are really spiritual that do so.
Disciple: Asoka sacrificed everything for Buddhism.
Sri Aurobindo: But he remained emperor till the end. When
kings and emperors try to spread religion they become like
Asoka i.e. make whole thing mechanical and the inner truth
Disciple: Raman Maharshi was known to no one. It was
Brunton who made him widely known.
Sri Aurobindo: It is a strange measure of success, people
adopt in judging people by the number of disciples. Who was
great–Raman Maharshi who did his Sadhana in seclusion for
years or Raman Maharshi surrounded by all sorts of
disciples? Success to be real must be spiritual. At times,
when some spiritual movement begins to succeed then the real
thing begins to be lost.
The talk turned to Ramanashram.
Sri Aurobindo: (related a story here) Mrs. K. went to see
Maharshi and was seen driving mosquitoes at the time of
meditation. She complained to him about mosquito bites. The
Maharshi told her that if she couldn’t bear mosquito bites
she couldn’t do yoga. Mrs. K. could not understand the
significance of the statement. She wanted spirituality
There are reports that those who stay there permanently
are not all in agreement with each other.
Do you know that famous story about Maharshi “when being
disgusted with the Ashram and the disciples,” he was going
away into the mountain. He was passing through a narrow path
flanked by the hills. He came upon an old woman sitting with
her legs across the path. Maharshi begged her to draw her
legs but she would not. Then Maharshi in anger passed across
her. She then became very angry and said “Why are you so
restless? Why can’t you sit in one place at Arunachala
instead of moving about, go back to your place and worship
Shiva there?” Her remarks struck him and he retraced his
steps. After going some distance he looked back and found
that there was nobody. Suddenly it struck him that it was
the Divine Mother herself who wanted him to remain at
Of course it was the Divine Mother who asked him to go
back. Maharshi was intended to lead this sort of life. He
has nothing to do with what happens around him. He remains
calm and detached. The man is what he was. By the way, I am
glad to hear Maharshi shouting with the Indian Christian (we
all laughed with him); it means he also can become dynamic.
The only Ashram in which there
was great unity, I heard, was Thakur Dayanand’s. There
was a strong sense of unity among them. I wrote an article
on the “Avatar” in Karmayogin. Mahendra Dey, Dayanand’s
disciple, seeing the article wrote to me “he is the
Avatar”. He was very enthusiastic about it. And when
there was police firing and arrests, Mahendra Dey after his
imprisonment became changed and said that he was hypnotized
Disciple: Why are the Gurus obliged to work with
imperfect and defective people like us? Here the difficulty
seems to be more keen.
Sri Aurobindo: That has been a puzzle to me also. But it
is so. Our case is a little different. Our aim is to change
the world, not universally, of course. Hence every one here
represents human nature with all its difficulties and
capacities. That’s how your difficulties are explained, (He
said looking at X).
26th December 1938.
Four disciples were seated on the carpet talking in low
whispers at about 5. 30 P. M. One of the group broke into
suppressed laughter in course of talk.
At 6. 30 P. M. we all assembled by the side of Sri
Aurobindo, He looked round and referring to the laughter
asked: “What was the divine descent about?”
Disciple: X. had his usual outburst of laughter.
Sri Aurobindo: Oh, it was the descent of Vishnu’s
Disciple: It is very peculiar how I break out into
uncontrolled laughter so easily. Formerly, I used to weep at
the slightest provocation. I think because I live in the
external consciousness only I laugh so easily. Is it
Sri Aurobindo: It is the reaction of the superficial
vital which is touched easily by simple, outward things;
there is a child in nature that bursts out like that. It is
the same as the Balabhava–the child-like nature. The deeper
vital being does not get so easily touched.
The topic was changed at this point.
Disciple: What is meant by self-offering? How to do
Sri Aurobindo: How to do it! One offers one’s vital, mind
and heart, attachment, passions, and grows into the Divine
Disciple: What time is more propitious for
meditation,–day-time or night-time? I get more concentrated
Sri Aurobindo: It may be due to the calm and quiet
atmosphere and also because you are accustomed to it. Nights
and early mornings are supposed to be the best for
We ask people to have a fixed time for meditation, for,
if they are habituated to it then the response comes at that
time due to Abhyas. Lele asked me to meditate twice but when
he came to Calcutta
he heard that I did not do it. He did not give me time to
explain that my meditation was going on all the time. He
simply said: “the devil has caught you.”
Disciple: Sometimes meditation is automatic.
Sri Aurobindo: At that time you must sit, otherwise you
Disciple: The other day I was having peace, and ananda,
and I saw many visions. But I had to go to sleep, for I
thought, if I kept up at night I might fall ill. I saw the
flower signifying sincerity in my vision.
Sri Aurobindo: Sincerity means to lift all our movements
towards the Divine. Disciple: That fear of falling ill by
keeping awake, is it not a mental fear?
Sri Aurobindo: The thing is, the physical being has got a
limit. The vital being can feel the energy, peace, etc.
the physical cannot be taxed beyond its capacity. That is
what happened to many Sadhaks here. They overworked till a
reaction took place. The force comes for your particular
work, not to increase the work and keep it for the other
purposes. If you go on overdoing it then the natural
reaction will come. There is a certain amount of
reasonableness even in spirituality.
Disciple: At one time I also used to feel a lot of energy
while I was working with the Mother and I was never fatigued
even working day and night, only one or two hours sleep was
sufficient and I would feel as fresh as ever.
Sri Aurobindo: Yes. That is because you opened to the
Energy. About sleep, even ten minutes of sleep may be
enough, but of course, it is not ordinary sleep but going
within. If you can draw the Force with equanimity and
conserve it, these things can be done. As I said many
Sadhaks felt that sort of thing when we were dealing with
the vital. But when the Sadhana came into the physical there
was not that push any more and people began to feel easily
fatigued, lazy, and unwilling to work. They began to
complain about ill-health due to overwork and were helped by
the doctor. Do you know the idea of “H?” He says people have
come here not for work but for meditation.
I dare say if we had not come down into the physical and
remained in the vital and mental like other Yogis without
trying to transform them then things would have been
(At this hour Mother came in and we meditated for
sometime. After she went away, our talk was resumed. Someone
remarked N. had a good meditation. He did not know that
Mother has gone.)
Sri Aurobindo: Good meditation?
Disciple: How do you know?
Sri Aurobindo: By the inclination of your head,
Disciple: I can’t say; I was having many incoherent
dreams and visions–that is all I can say, perhaps it was in
the surface consciousness.
Sri Aurobindo: Surface consciousness of the inner vital
being. Such things are very common; of course, when one goes
still deeper one does not see them. There is a point between
the surface consciousness and the deeper vital which is full
of these fantasies and dreams. They are apparently
incoherent. In the physical a mouse turning into an elephant
may have no meaning but it is not so in the vital. They have
no coherence of the physical plane but they have their own
coherence of the
vital plane. But when one gets the clue one finds that
everything is a linked whole. That I have seen many times in
my own case. It is this world from which Tagore’s painting
came,–what Europeans call the Goblin world.
Disciple: Does Tagore see them before drawing them?
Sri Aurobindo: I do not think so. Some see them but do
not draw them. But they come to him. Anybody who has the
least experience of these planes can at once say from where
Disciple: But how is it that people think and he himself
calls it great paintings?
Sri Aurobindo: Everybody calls it “great and wonderful”,
so he himself comes to think it so. Then we began to talk
about headache either due to physical cause or
Disciple: I have seen many times my headache start after
Mother’s touch at Pranam.
Sri Aurobindo: That may be because you passed from one
state of consciousness to another. Disciple:
Sri Aurobindo: Why not? When from a state of
concentration you mix yourself just after the Pranam you can
easily pass to another state. That is why Mother advises
people to remain calm and quiet for some time after Pranam
Disciple: I felt once as if the head were suspended in
the air and that parts of body did not resist. Sri
Aurobindo: That is separation of the mental
Disciple: Are you able to know what experiences Sadhaks
are having, especially if they are some decisive ones?
Sri Aurobindo: I don’t. But Mother knows. Whenever it is
a question of consciousness she can see in the Sadhak
whatever changes are taking place. When she meditates (with
the Sadhak) she can know what line he is following, the line
she indicates or the Sadhak’s own and afterwards what
changes have been brought in the consciousness.
Disciple: And when the Sadhaka experiences something, is
it imparted to you?
Sri Aurobindo: What is the use of giving our own things
to them? Let them have their own growth. I may put in a
Force for people who are in habitual bad condition, people
who are always going in the wrong and try to work it out so
that the condition might improve. If the
Sadhak co-operates then it is comparatively easy.
Otherwise, if the Sadhak is passive then the result takes a
long time, it comes, goes again, returns like that and
ultimately the Force prevails. In
case of people like “X.” we used to put in a strong Force
then he became lucid and then the whole vital used to rush
up and catch hold of him. Whereas if the Sadhak actively
participates then it takes only one-tenth of the time.
27th December 1938.
Sri Aurobindo himself opened the talk to-day by
addressing X and said “I hear D. going about in his car with
a guard by his side, two cyclist policemen in front and
back.” Then the talk continued regarding Pondicherry
politics, most of talk being by us. Then Sri Aurobindo
remarked. “When I see Pondicherry and Calcutta Corporation I
begin to wonder why I was so eager for democracy.
Pondicherry and Calcutta Corporation are the two object
lessons which can take away all enthusiasm for
Disciple: Was the Calcutta Corporation so bad before the
Congress came there?
Sri Aurobindo: No. There was not so much scope for
it,–at least we did not know of such scandals. It is the
same thing with other municipal Governments. In New York and
Chicago the whole machinery is corrupt. Sometimes the head
of the institution is like that. Sometimes a Mayor comes up
with the intention of cleaning out the whole, but one does
not know after cleaning which one was better. The Mayor of
Chicago was a great criminal but all judges and
police-officers were under his pay. In France also it is
about the same thing. It
is not surprising that people got disgusted with
England is comparatively less corrupt. The English are
the only people who know how to work the Parliamentary
system. Parliamentary Government is in their blood.
Disciple: It seems that our old Indian system was the
best for us. How could it succeed so well?
Sri Aurobindo: The old Indian system grew out of life, it
had room for everything and every interest. There were
monarchy, aristocracy, democracy. Every interest was
represented in the Government. While in Europe the Western
System grew out of the mind. They are led by reason and want
to make everything cut and dried without any chance of
freedom or variation. If it is democracy, then democracy
only. No room for anything else. They cannot be plastic.
India is now trying to imitate the West. Parliamentary
Government is not suited to India. But we always take up
what the west has thrown off. Sir Akabar wanted to try a new
sort of Government with an impartial authority at the head.
There, in Hyderabad, the Hindu majority complains that
though Mohammedens are in minority they occupy most of the
offices in the state. By Sir Akabar’s method almost every
interest would have been represented in the Government and
automatically the Hindus would have come in, but because of
their cry of responsible Government the scheme failed. They
have a fixed idea in the mind and want to fit everything to
it. They can’t think for themselves and so take up what the
others are throwing off.
Disciple: What is your idea of an ideal Government for
India? It is possible in Hyderabad which has a Nizam.
But how to do the same in an Indian Constitution?
Sri Aurobindo: Sir Akabar’s is as good as any. My idea is
like what Tagore once wrote. There may be one Rashtrapati at
the top with considerable powers so as to secure a
continuity of policy and an Assembly representative of the
nation. The provinces will contribute to a Federation,
united at the top, leaving ample scope to local bodies to
make laws according to their local problems. Mussolini
started with a fundamental of the Indian System but
afterwards began bullying and bluffing other nations for the
sake of imperialism. If he had persisted in his original
idea, he would have been a great creator.
Disciple: Dr. Bhagwandas suggested that there should be
legislators above the age of 40, completely disinterested
like the Rishis.
Sri Aurobindo: A chamber of Rishis! That would not be
very promising. They will at once begin to quarrel. As they
say; Rishis in ancient times could guide kings because they
were distributed over various places.
Disciple: His idea is of gathering all great men
Sri Aurobindo: And let them quarrel like Kilkeni cats. I
suppose. (said laughing).
The Congress at the present stage–what is it but a
Fascist organization? Gandhi is the dictator like Stalin, I
wan’t say like Hitler. What Gandhi says they accept and even
Working Committee follows him. Then it goes to A. I. C. C.
which adopts it and then the Congress. There is no
opportunity for any difference of opinion except for
Socialists who are allowed to differ. Whatever resolutions
they pass are obligatory on all the
provinces whether the resolutions suit the provinces or
not. There is no room for any other independent opinion.
Every thing is fixed up before and the people are only
allowed to talk over it like Stalin’s Parliament. When we
started the movement we began with the idea of throwing out
the Congress oligarchy and open the whole organization to
the general mass.
Disciple: Srinivas Ayyanger retired from Congress because
of his difference with Gandhi. He objected to Gandhi’s
giving the movement a religious turn and bringing in
religion in Politics.
Sri Aurobindo: He made Charka a religious article of
faith and excluded all people from Congress Membership who
could not spin. How many believe in his gospel of Charka?
Such a tremendous waste of energy, just for the sake of a
few annas is most unreasonable.
Disciple: He made that rule perhaps to enforce
Sri Aurobindo: Discipline is all right but once you
centralize you go on centralizing.
Disciple: It failed in agricultural provinces and seems
to have succeeded in other places especially where people
had no occupation.
Disciple: In Bengal it did not succeed.
Sri Aurobindo: In Bengal it did not. It may be all right
as a famine-relief measure. But when it takes the form of an
All-India programme it looks absurd. If you form a programme
that is suited to the condition of the agricultural people
it sounds something reasonable. Give them education,
technical training and give them (Fundamentals or Principles
of) organization not on political but
on business lines. But Gandhi does not want any
such industrial organization and so comes in with his
magical formula “spin, spin, spin.” C. R. Das and others
could act as a balance against him. It is all a fetish.
Denmark and Ireland organized in the same way. Only now
they are going to suffer because other nations are trying to
be self-sufficient. I don’t believe in that sort of
self-sufficiency. For that is against the principles of
life. It is not possible for nations to be self-sufficient
Disciple: What do you think of Hindi being the common
language? It seems to me English has occupied so much place
that it will be unwise and difficult to replace it.
Sri Aurobindo: English will be all right and even
necessary if India is to be on an international state. In
that case English has to be the medium of expression,
especially as English is now replacing French as a
world-language. But the national spirit won’t allow it and
also it s a foreign language. At the same time Hindi can’t
replace English in the universities nor the provincial
languages. When the national spirit grows it is difficult to
say what will happen. In Ireland before the revolution they
wanted to abolish English and adopt Gaelic but as time went
on and things settled themselves their enthusiasm waned and
English came back.
Disciple: I do not understand why the Jews are being so
much persecuted by Hitler. Disciple: I understand that the
Jews betrayed Germany during the war.
Sri Aurobindo: Nonsense, on the other hand they helped
Germany a great deal. It is because they are a clever
race that others are jealous of them, for anything that
is wrong you point to the Jews! It is so much more easy than
finding the real cause, or because people want something to
strike and so the popular cry, “The Jews the Jews”. You
remember I told you about the prophecy regarding the Jews
that when they will be persecuted and driven to Jerusalem
that the Golden age shall come?
It is the Jews that have built Germany’s Commercial fleet
and her navy. The contribution of Jews towards the world’s
progress in every branch is remarkable.
But this sort of dislike exists among other nations also
e.g. the English do not like the Scots, because the Scottish
have beaten the English in commercial affairs. There was a
famous story in the Punch: two people asking themselves.
“Bill, who is that man?”, and Bill answered, “Let us strike
at him, he is a stranger.”
And then in Bengal the West Bengal people used to call
East Bengal people “Bangale” and composed a satire “Bangale
Manush nohe oe ekta jantu” At one time I used to wear socks
at all times of the year. The West Bengalis used to sneer at
that saying, “I am a Bangale”; they thought that they were
the most civilized people on earth. It is a legacy from the
animal world. Just as dogs of one street do not like dogs of
Disciple: But things will improve, I hope?
Sri Aurobindo: If this goes, you may be sure that the
Golden Age is coming! All my opinions are
of course on the basis of the present conditions. But the
things would be quite different if the Supermind came
Disciple: You are tempting us too much with your
Supermind. But will it really benefit the whole of
Sri Aurobindo: It will exert a certain upward pull but in
order that it may bring about a considerable change, that it
may be efficient, two hundred Sadhaks of the Ashram can’t be
enough. It must be thousands whose influence can spread all
over the world, who by actual test can prove that it is
something superior to the means hitherto employed.
Disciple: Will it have a power (corresponding to the
Universal Consciousness) over humanity? Sri Aurobindo: We
shall leave it to the Supermind to answer that question when
Disciple: The materialist and scientist say that Yogis
have done nothing for human happiness. Buddhas and Avatars
have come and gone but the sufferings of humanity are just
Sri Aurobindo: Did Avatar come to relieve the sufferings
of humanity? It was only Buddha who showed the way of
release from suffering. But his path was to get away from
the world and enter into Nirvana. Does mankind follow him?
And if they do not and cannot get rid of their suffering, it
is not Buddha’s fault!!
Disciple: They say that by scientific inventions and
medical discoveries they have been able to improve the
condition of the world. e.g. by cholera injections, smallpox
vaccinations the death rate is reduced.
Sri Aurobindo: And are they happy? Vaccination!
Intellectual people say that vaccinations have done more
harm than good.
Disciple: But that is the opinion of intellectuals and
not of doctors.
Sri Aurobindo: Why? The intellectuals have studied the
subject before they gave their opinion. They may have
reduced Cholera etc., but what about other things that they
have brought in? About suffering! Suffering cannot go as
long as ignorance remains. Even after the Supermind descends
the suffering will remain. If you choose to remain in
suffering how can it go?
Disciple: They say that they can compel people to take
injections even against their will, can spiritual force do
that? The Yogis have been busy with their own salvation
while the world has remained just the same.
Sri Aurobindo: Evolution has proceeded from matter
through animal to physical man, vital man, mental man and
spiritual man. When mental man or spiritual man appears the
others do not disappear. So, the tiger and serpent do not
become man. In this upward growth of the human consciousness
you cannot say that Buddha, Christ etc. have played no
I consider the Supramental the culmination of the
Spiritual man. When the Supramental becomes established I
expect that one will not be required to flee from life. It
is something dynamic that changes life and nature. It will
open the vital, mental even the physical to the intuitive
You want comfort and happiness; in that case, Truth and
Knowledge are of no value.
The discoveries of modern science have outrun their own
usefulness, the human capacity to use them. And the
scientists don’t know what to do with these discoveries.
They have been used for the purposes of destruction. Now
they are trying to kill men by throwing germs of small-pox
from aeroplanes; they at least end the suffering by death
but by bombing you mutilate for
life. Politics, science, even socialism have not
succeeded in finding a way out of suffering. They have
killed people, they kill each other and involve the state
into a peril unless you say that murders and massacres are
necessary. From this state of chaos and suffering there have
been ways of escape and people have been shown the way out.
You say they are not useful.
No. no, all that is a superficial view of things. One has
to consider the whole civilization before one can pass
It is because Western Civilization is failing that people
like A. Huxley are drawn to Yoga. December 28, 1938.
At about 5.30 P.M. “X” burst into a peal of laughter to
which Sri Aurobindo reacted by asking: “What is that dynamic
explosion?” There was no reply, only a silence of
suppression. But at 6.30 P.M. the laughter was repeated and
instead of Sri Aurobindo asking anything X himself
complained to Sri Aurobindo that “Y” was making him laugh.
The reply was: “Take care that he may not make you go off
like a firework!”
All assembled by the side of the cot and there was
complete quiet. One member yawned and another yawned in
response. The result was a subdued bubble of laughter.
Sri Aurobindo could hardly fail to notice it. He asked:
“What is the joke?”
Disciple: “X” is mocking at my yawning.
Sri Aurobindo: He does not know that yawning may be a
There was reference to a letter from another Sadhak
relating his symptom of yawning at night. Disciple: What
medicine has been given to him for his perennial
Disciple: That is a secret.
Sri Aurobindo: That reminds me of the science of Augurs
in Greece. There used to be Government Augurs who used to be
called in to interpret omens and signs; and from that a
college of Augurs came into existence. There–in the college
the professors used to be quite grave and serious,–they
gave lectures on Augury with grave faces; when afterwards
they met together they used to laugh among themselves.
By the way, we have got mutilated news to-day; they have
dropped two important words. Instead of saying “the Italians
are marching” (into Djibuti). If the Italians march into
Djibuti the French can
march into Tripoli as counter-attack.
Disciple: The French can also organize the Abysinians
against Italy. Sri Aurobindo: There won’t be time for
Disciple: The Italians do not seem to be good
Sri Aurobindo: No, I will be greatly surprised if they
can defeat the French. In that case Mussolini must have
changed the Italian character tremendously.
Disciple: They had a hard time in Abyssinia.
Sri Aurobindo: Yes. It was by their superior air-bombs,
mustard-gas poisoning that they succeeded.
Disciple: But they will be aided by the Germans.
Sri Aurobindo: Yes, Italy can’t do without Germany.
Disciple: Fisher (the historian) says that German army in
the last war was the greatest and the best army ever
organized in the world.
Sri Aurobindo: Yes. They are the most organized and able
soldiers in the world except the Japanese. But the Japanese
are numerically less and financially poorer.
Even so during the last war the Germans could not throw
up any remarkable military genius like
Foch. If Foch had been the Commander-in-chief before, the
war would have ended much earlier.
The Balkans and the Turks are also good fighters.
Disciple: What about the Sikhs and the Gurkhas? Sri
Aurobindo: They are unsurpassed but the war depends not on
fighters but on generals.
Disciple: The British consul here says that the Chinese
are no good as soldiers and the Russians are good in
defensive warfare. The Germans are trying to expand in the
Ukraine. After that Hitler might come to central Europe.
Sri Aurobindo: Yes. But that will at once combine Russia,
Poland, Rumania and Yugoslavia. These small minor powers
will be afraid of their own safety.
Disciple: I don’t understand why Germany joins Italy in
attacking France. According to European astrology Hitler’s
stars are with him till Dec. 1936.
Sri Aurobindo: Why! Hitler himself has said in his “Mein
Kemp” that Germany is not safe without the destruction of
France. And France says the same thing about Germany. They
have chosen this time, perhaps, because they think that
France has been weakened by the general strike. But they
lost sight of the fact that the invasion will bring the
whole France to-gether.
Disciple: I read in the paper to-day that a group of
people in England are shouting that America belongs to
them–as a counter move to Italian claims.
Sri Aurobindo: Yes, they can claim Germany, and also
Denmark and Italy too for that matter. Disciple: The way
these people are preparing seems that war is inevitable.
Sri Aurobindo: But we thought they would not do anything
till early next year. They are trying to strike now,
perhaps, because they think that France has been divided by
the General strike. But war will bring the whole nation
together at once. In any case, we find that the Germans are
Disciple: England, most probably, will have to ally
herself with France.
Sri Aurobindo: You have seen what Chamberlain has said?
“England is not obliged to help France in case of war with
Italy”. But if Italy combines with Germany one can’t
Disciple: In case there is a general war India will have
an opportunity for independence. Sri Aurobindo: How?
Disciple: She will refuse to co-operate. I think the
Congress Ministries were due to the threat of war in
Sri Aurobindo: Yes It was in order to conciliate the
29th December 1938.
To-day a question of a doctor (disciple) was conveyed by
one of the disciples. Disciple: What is the connection
between the causal body and the psychic being?
Sri Aurobindo: The psychic being is what is called
Chaitya Purusha in the heart, while the Causal body is at
present Superconscious. They are not the same.
Disciple: It is the Superconscious existence that later
on is called “Self” in Vedanta. According to some people
Raman Maharshi has realized the Self.
Sri Aurobindo: From what Brunton (Paul) has written it
does not seem so. He speaks of the “voice in the heart” that
would mean the Psychic Being.
At this point Mother came and asked: “What have you been
speaking about?” Sri Aurobindo: “X” has asked a question
which does not hang together. Then he repeated the
Disciple: I have heard about Raman Maharshi’s experience
from a direct disciple of his: “One day the heart centre
opened and I began to hear “I”, “I” and everywhere I saw
Disciple: Different spiritual persons say different
things. How to find out which is the highest? Our
choice is not necessarily that of the highest.
Mother: Each one goes to the limit of his consciousness.
I have met many persons in Europe, India and Japan
practicing yoga under different masters. Each claimed that
his realization was the highest, he was quite sure about it
and also quite satisfied with his condition, and yet each
one was standing at a different place in consciousness and
saying that he has attained the highest.
Disciple: But one can know what they mean by some
Mother: By what criterion? If you ask them they say “it
is something wonderful but can’t be described by the mind.”
I was with Tagore in Japan. He claimed to have reached the
peace of Nirvana and he was beaming with joy. I thought:
“here is a man who claims to have got the peace and reached
Nirvana. Let us see.” I asked him to meditate with me and I
followed him in meditation and found that he had reached
just behind the vital and the mind: a sort of emptiness. I
waited and waited to see if he would go beyond; I wanted to
follow him. But he would not go further. I found that he was
supremely satisfied and believed that he had entered
Disciple: But there is a fundamental realization of some
Mother: That is to say, there is a fundamental truth of
consciousness. But that is not so easy to reach.
Disciple: How to choose a master, then? We must know whom
Disciple: How are you going to know with your mind where
he has reached? Disciple: Is not our choice decided by the
psychic being in us?
Mother: That is another question. First you must realize
about the limit of consciousness and the difference of the
place where people stand.
The choice is mostly in answer to your need and it is
governed by your inner necessity. Sometimes, the choice is
made by instinct by which the animals find the right place
for their food. Only, in the human being it acts from
within. If you allow your mind to discuss and argue then the
instinct becomes veiled. When you have made the choice the
mind naturally wants to believe that it is the highest you
have chosen. But that is subjective.
Disciple: If the choice is right one feels happiness and
Mother: Satisfaction? One can’t depend upon feelings and
sensations. for, very often they misguide. Satisfaction is
quite a different thing. There are people who are not
satisfied in the best conditions, while in the worst
conditions some are quite satisfied.
Look at the people in the world around; they are very
happy with their conditions. Again, there are people whose
satisfaction depends upon their liver–a brutally
materialistic state. Also there are people who suffer
extremely and yet their inmost being knows that there is the
path for reaching the goal.
Disciple: There are certain signs given by the Shashtras
by which one can judge.
Sri Aurobindo: What Shashtras? One can’t believe in all
that is said in the Shashtras.
Mother: Besides, that may be all right for Indians; what
about the Europeans? You can’t say that they have not
realized any truth?
Then the Mother took her leave and went for meditation.
There was a pause of silence for some time. Then Sri
Aurobindo asked: “What are the Laxanas–signs–you spoke
Disciple: They are common and found everywhere. They are
given in the Gita: Equality, Love for others,
Sri Aurobindo: They are, rather, conditions for
realization. All experiences are true and have their place.
But because one is true one can’t say that the other is
false. Truth is infinite. There are so many ways to come to
the Truth. The wider you become the higher you go. The more
you find, there is still more and more. For instance,
Maharshi (Raman) has his experience of “I” but when I had
the Nirvan-experience I could not think of an “I”;–however
much I tried I could not think of any “I”. The world simply
got displaced. One can’t speak of it as “I”. It is either
“He” or “That”. That I call Laya. Realization of the Self is
all right; Laya was a part of a realization which is much
When I do not accept the Maya-Vada it is not that I have
not realized the Truth (behind it) or, that I don’t know
“the One in All” and “All in the One”,–but because I have
other realizations which are equally strong and which cannot
be shut out. The Maharshi is right and everybody is also
When the mind tries to understand these things, it takes
up fragments and treats them as wholes and makes unreal
distinctions. They speak of Nirguna as the fundamental
(experience) and Saguna as derivative or secondary. But what
does the Upanishad mean by “Ananta Nirguna” and “Ananta
Saguna”? They can’t be thought of as different. When you
think of Impersonality as the fundamental Truth and
Personality as something imposed upon it and therefore
secondary, you cut across with your mind something which is
beyond both. Or, is it not that Personality is the chief
thing and Impersonality is only one side, or one condition
of Personality? No. Personality and Impersonality are
aspects of a thing which is indivisible. Shanker is right
and so is Nimbarka. Only, when they state their Truth in
mental terms there is a tremendous confusion. Shanker says
“It is Anirvachaniya–indescribable by speech–and “All is
One.” Nimbarka says: There is Duality and Unity: while
Madhava says: “Duality is true.”
The Upanishads speak of “Him by knowing whom all is
known.” What does it mean? That Vignana [@insert
Sanskrit for Vignana] is not the fundamental realization
of the One. It means the knowledge of the principles of the
Divine Being; what Krishna (in the Gita) speaks of
“Tattvatah” [@insert Sanskrit for Tattvatah]: One
cannot know the complete Divine except in the Supermind.
That is why Krishna said that one who knows him in the “true
principles of his being” is rare, “Kashchit”. The Upanishads
also speak of the Brahman as Chatushpada “having four legs,
or aspects”. It does not merely state “All is the Brahman”
and it is over. The realization of the Self is not all.
There are many things beyond that. The Divine Guide within
me urged me to proceed, adding experience after experience,
higher and higher, stopping at none as final, till I
arrived at the glimpses of the Supermind. There I
found the Truth indivisible and there everything takes
its proper place. There, Nirguna and Saguna-Impersonality
and Personality don’t exist. They are all aspects of One
Truth which is indivisible.
In the Overmind stage knowledge begins to rush in upon
you from all sides and you see the objects from all points
of view and each thing from all points. All of them tend to
get related to each other and there the Cosmic Consciousness
is not merely in its static aspect but also in its dynamic
reality: it is the expression of something Above. When you
become Cosmic even though you speak of your self as “I” it
is not the “I,”–the ego, the “I-ness” disappears and the
mental, vital and the physical appear as representatives of
that Consciousness. Ramakrishna speaks of that state as the
form of ego left for action. When you reach the Supermind
you become not only Cosmic but something beyond the
Universe,–Transcendental, and there is indivisibility of
unity and individuality. There, the Cosmic and the
Individual all co-exist.
The same principle works out in science. The scientists
at one time reduced all multiplicity of elements to Ether
and described it in the most contradictory terms. Now they
have found the Electrons as the basis of Matter. By
difference of position and number of electrons you get the
whole multiplicity of objects. There also you find the One
that is Many, and yet is not two different things. Both the
One and the Many are true and through both you have to go to
When you come to politics, democracy, plutocracy,
monarchy etc. all have truth, even Hitler and Mussolini
stand for some truth.
This is a very big yoga,–one has to travel–I think “X”
will not take all that trouble–(Sri Aurobindo said
referring to a disciple.)
Disciple: Never, Sir. I have come here because I can’t
take so much trouble.
Sri Aurobindo: You are not called upon to do it. Even for
me it would have been impossible if I had to do it myself;
but at a certain stage heavens opened and the thing was done
The topic seemed to have ended. But “X” prolonged by
saying: my friend “K” asked Maharshi if attainment of
immortality was possible. But the Maharshi would not say
anything by way of reply. But “K” persisted then he said;
“It is possible by Divine Grace.”
Sri Aurobindo: That is hardly an answer. Everything is
possible by Divine Grace. There are two things about
immortality: one, the conquest of death. It does not however
mean that one would never die. It means leaving the body at
will. Second, it includes the power to change or renew the
body. There is no sense in keeping the same body for years;
that would be a terrible bondage. That is why death is
necessary in order that one can take another body and have a
fresh growth. You know Dasharath lived for sixty thousand
years. He did not know what to do with such a long life and
began at the end producing children! Have you read Shaw’s
“Back to Methuselah?” It shows how silly an intellectual can
become. And what a ridiculous farce he has made of Joan of
Arc? He speaks of her visions as projections of her own
mental ideas and decisions. Shaw is all right when he speaks
of England, Ireland and Society; but he can’t do anything
constructive. There he fails miserably.
These intellectuals like Russell when they talk of
something beyond their scope they cut such a poor figure:
you can see what he writes about the “introvert.” They can’t
tolerate emptiness or cessation of thought and breaking away
from outside interests! If you ask them to stop their
thoughts they refuse to accept it and at once come back from
emptiness. And yet it is through emptiness one has to pass
Disciple: How can one succeed in meditation?
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
Disciple: Does the Higher Force work all the time, even
when there is no aspiration in the individual.
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 behind.
Disciple: We want to know how to get the infinite peace,
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 to
ascend towards the Higher Consciousness.
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 expands.
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 experience.
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 nobody.
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
Disciple: What happens when the human consciousness is
replaced by the Divine Consciousness?
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 experience.
2nd January 1939
Disciple: I think the Mother is testing me.
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 it, never.
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
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 away.
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 them out.
Disciple: In what way it is not fit?
Sri Aurobindo: There are many difficulties here.
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 side).
In other organizations they impose discipline and
obedience from outside by rule of force. There people are
obliged to take their orders from some one.
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 against.
1. The tendency to degenerate into mere mechanical and
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 health.
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 difficulties.
Disciple: What is the difference between peace and
Sri Aurobindo: What do you mean?
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 emptiness?
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 it
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 it.
Disciple: In that emptiness–Shunyam–there is a great
release. Is it not?
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
Sri Aurobindo: There is an experience of neutral peace of mind which may be dry and dull to the ordinary man.