Sir Aurobindo – 1907
EVENING TALKS wit SRI AUROBINDO
Recorded by A. B. PURANI
remarkable. They would never lose temper in front of
anybody. If his honour is injured he would stab, but he must
not lose self-control. They can work so silently and
secretly that no one knew anything before the Russo-Japan
war broke out, how they had prepared themselves. All on a
sudden they broke out into war. They are Kshatriyas and
their aesthetic sense is of course well
But the European influence has spoiled all that. They are
now very materialistic. Now how brutal they have become,
which is thoroughly un-Japanese.
Look at Japanese soldier slapping the European officers,
though they deserve it. The Japanese commander challenging
Chiang-Kai-Sheik to come out in the open field. The Japanese
men attacking their political leaders–all this is
unconceivable. This sort of swaggering is not at all
Japanese. In old times, the Japanese, even while fighting,
had perfect sympathy with those with whom they fought.
Disciple: But without brutalities (killing innocent
inhabitants) it would be difficult to win the war.
Sri Aurobindo: God knows. They are such fine warriors and
a patriotic and self-sacrificing nation that one would
believe the contrary. But they are doing these things
because of two reasons probably: 1. Financial shortage which
is not very convincing because of their immense power of
sacrifice. 2. Population of China.
Disciple: Foreign help to China e.g. Soviet?
Sri Aurobindo: That is a possibility but the Soviet’s
internal condition is such that it can’t think of giving
much help from out side.
Disciple: What about India’s independence? Is it
developing along your lines? 27
Sri Aurobindo: Surely not, India is now going towards
European Socialism which is dangerous for her; while we were
trying to evolve true genius of the race along Indian lines
and all working for independence.
Take the Bengal movement. The whole race was awakened
within a short time. People who were such cowards and
trembled before the sight of a revolver were in a short
period so much changed that police officials used to say
“Insolent Barisal”. It was the soul of the race that woke up
throwing up very fine personalities. The leaders of the
movement were either Yogis or disciples of Yogis e.g.
Monoranjan Guha Thakurate disciple of B. Goswami.
Disciple: Was he a nationalist?
Sri Aurobindo: Good Lord. He was my fellow-worker. He
also took part in secret society. Then Brahmo Bandhava
Upadhayay etc. Ramkrishna and Vivekananda’s influence worked
from behind. The movement with the secret society became so
formidable that in any other country with a political past
it would have led to something like the French Revolution.
The sympathy of the whole race was on our side. Even
shopkeepers were reading Yugantar. I will tell you an
instance; while a young man was running away after killing a
police officer in Shambazar, he forgot to throw away his
revolver. It remained in his hand. One shop-keeper cried
out: “Hide your revolver, hide your revolver.” Then you have
heard of Jatin Mukerjee’s exploit.
Disciple: Yes Sir.
Sri Aurobindo: A wonderful man. He was a man who would
belong to the front rank of humanity. Such beauty and
strength together I have not seen, and his stature was like
that of a warrior.
Disciple: You told me Dr. R. uses mental intuition. So
there may be various levels of intuition.
Sri Aurobindo: By mental intuition I mean the Intuition
which comes from Above. Don’t get mixed in the mind. I don’t
say that mental intuition is not correct but it is always
limited because of the mixture. There is also the vital
influence which very often becomes mixed up with one’s
Disciple: How to get the intuition? By calmness of
Sri Aurobindo: Calmness is not enough. Mind must be
Disciple: It will then take a long time.
Sri Aurobindo: Can’t say. Can take a short time, or a
Disciple: But it won’t be possible to keep the silence
until one has realized the spirit. Sri Aurobindo: One can
train one’s mind to be silent.
(Dr. X took his leave and as Mother lapsed into
meditation we all tried to do the same. Then after
Mother had departed by 7 P.M., we rallied around Sri
Aurobindo. He looked once or twice at M.)
Disciple: M. is beaming to-day.
Disciple: That must be Kundalini then.
Disciple: I don’t believe it. Is this vibration the
Higher Force, Sir?
Sri Aurobindo: Yes. It was trying to cure your lumbago,
perhaps, and the first sign was a little aggravation (we all
laughed). You don’t believe in Kundalini?
Disciple: No, Sir.
Sri Aurobindo: But you were telling about your “ascent
and descent” experience.
Disciple: Is that Kundalini? I did not know it
(laughter). But Kundalini is not the line of our yoga and
you have not mentioned about it any where.
Disciple: Oh yes, he has in the “Lights on Yoga”.
Sri Aurobindo: Yes. Kundalini is, of course, the Tantrik
idea: The Shakti lying coiled in Muladhara awakes, rises up
and carries the consciousness upward opening all the chakras
up to Brahmarandhra and then meets the Brahman, and then the
descent begins. The Tantrik process is more technical.
It is curious to see the action of the Force in some
cases. Some feel as if a drilling were being done in the
brain. Some people can’t keep the Force in. They sway from
side to side, make peculiar sounds. I remember one
practicing Pranayama rigourously and making horrible sound.
I did not hear of his getting any good results. Sometimes
the Force raises up what lies below–in the lower nature–in
order to be able to deal with it.
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
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.
Disciple: Can one act when one has the silence?
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 inner silence.
Disciple: Is the silence static and dynamic both?
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. It depends.
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
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
Sri Aurobindo: That is what is called Asuric Tapasya:
Titanic askasis. Disciple: Can one gain something by Asuric
Sri Aurobindo: Yes; all Tapasya can give you
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 divine
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 defects.
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
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
Disciple: Can it be that the man would not feel anything?
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 object.
Disciple: What is that capacity due to?
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
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
Disciple: But something of the property of the object
persists, like the effect of medicine in homeopathic
doses,–the smallest quantity retains the quality.
Disciple: But what is your conclusion, Sir?
Sri Aurobindo: I don’t know.
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 impose
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 that language.
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 Jewish Cabala
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
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
Disciple: Can this nervous envelope be seen in the
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 irregularities.
In the case of exteriorization done by the Tibetans, a
thin thread is maintained when one leaves the body
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 the lama.
Sri Aurobindo: These are known phenomena.
Disciple: There are so many miracles reported about Sj.
Bijoy Goswami. Do you think they are all true?
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
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
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
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 attention.
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
Disciple: What is the effect of fasting on yoga? Sri
Aurobindo: On what?
Disciple: The effect of fasting on yoga.
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 healthy.
I fasted twice: once in Alipore jail for ten days and
another time in Pondicherry for twenty-three
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 food.
Disciple: How is it possible to have such energy without
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
Disciple: Can fasting be a cure for diseases also?
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 accordingly.
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 sheath.
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 envelope,–the subtle
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 mind.
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 head-ache?
The body is a mere mass of responsive vibrations;
everything comes from outside and finds a
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
Disciple: The other day I could not understand what you
said about fundamental personality. What is the truth behind
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 personalities and
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 possible.
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 quality.
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 Laya.
Disciple: Is it true that illness comes from Sadhana?
Sri Aurobindo: From Sadhana? Not necessarily.
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
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
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 to
Disciple: If a thing happens due to our negligence, can
we say that it happened by the Divine’s sanction?
Sri Aurobindo: I say, “neglecting the intermediate
Disciple: Would there not be some danger in that
attitude? We may shirk our responsibilities and lay it on
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 light.
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 conquer.”
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 times.
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
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 knowledge of
i. Going inwards, and,
Those two are not possible without yoga.
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 years.
Disciple: When did you begin yoga?
Sri Aurobindo: Somewhere in 1905.
Disciple: How did you begin?
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 real.
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 Power
why not use it for the freedom of the country?
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 over.
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 moment
I want to write, it is there. (4) My health
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
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 wrong.
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 there.
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 happens
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 me!
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 heart.
Disciple: What is the difference?
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 Cosmic Divine.
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
As I said, humility helps in the removal of the vital
ego, but one must remember that it is not outward
There are many people who profess and show the
utmost outward humility, but in their hearts think: “I am
Disciple: “X” when he came for a short day, he found that
you lacked the virtue of humility or modesty.
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 nothing.
Disciple: Were you modest when you have not taken to
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 people.
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 from
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 unity the
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 realize
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
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 life”.
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. Banerji.
The constitution of Aundh was brought in by a
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
Sri Aurobindo: Co-operative farming is an excellent
thing; it would develop agriculture. But dictatorship of
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 think
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 liquidated.
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 leader.
III. All the Jews are wicked persons.
IV. All the people in the world must be Nazis.
I do not understand how humanity can progress under such
Disciple: The tendency of all governments is to increase
Sri Aurobindo: All governments are robbing, some with
legislation, some without. You can well
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 too heavily.
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 Germany!
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 war.
Smuggling there almost seems a virtue, because it is
robbing the robber! (Laughter) Even some of the princes are
Disciple: There is now a movement for separating the C.P.
Marathi-speaking and Hindi-speaking. It has weakened the
Sri Aurobindo: Nagpur was a very good centre of the
Nationalists. The two portions–Marathi and Hindi–should
have been separated to begin with.
7th January, 1939
Disciple: Can the ego be removed by the psychic attitude
and by the realization of Self?
Sri Aurobindo: Psychic humility takes away the egoism but
not the ego; removing of the ego of the natural
individuality is not the work of the psychic. The psychic
depends upon and maintains the natural individuality. The
psychic is there, so that the natural individuality would
turn to and progress towards the Divine.
Disciple: How is the ego removed?
Sri Aurobindo: Ego is removed by the realization of the
Spirit; that is, by attaining to the spiritual consciousness
Above, which is independent of Nature, which is
self-existent. That Spirit is One in all. Realization of
removes the ego, because then one identifies himself with
Disciple: What then replaces the “I” in the divine
individual? What is the nature of the psychic
Sri Aurobindo: In the case of psychic individuality the
man may feel the ego of the Sadhu-the Saint-the Bhakta-the
devotee, or the virtuous man. He may also get rid of egoism
by imposing on the nature one Spirit and a feeling of
sympathy for all humanity. But that is not the same as
getting rid entirely of the ego. The psychic clears the way
for the removal of the ego.
Disciple: What happens when one realizes the Spirit?
Sri Aurobindo: Generally, when one realizes the Spirit,
it is the mental sense of the ego that is
abolished; but the vital and the physical still retain
their egoistic movements. That is what most
Yogi’s mean when they say “It is nature”. They mostly
allow it to run its course and when the body drops, it also
drops; but, it is not transformation. That is what
Vivekananda meant when he said that “human nature cannot be
changed, that it was like a dog’s tail, you can straighten
it if you like, but as soon as you leave it, it is curved
Disciple: What is really meant by this “nature”?
Sri Aurobindo: It means that the subconsciousness has in
it certain gathered powers which impose themselves on the
Disciple: How to transform or change this human
Sri Aurobindo: In order to change human nature you have
to work from level to level; you reject a thing from
the mind, it comes to the vital. When you reject it from
the vital, then it comes to the physical and then you find
it in the subconscient.
There is a central point in the subconscient that has to
be changed. If that is done, then everything is done. It is
from there that resistance rises from Nature–that is what
Vivekananda meant. To effect complete transformation you
have to bring down everything to the subconcient, and it is
Disciple: How can one replenish the exhausted nervous
being? Can it be done by drawing energy from the Universal
Vital or by the help of the Higher Power?
Sri Aurobindo: Both ways can be combined: One can draw
from the Universal Vital and the Higher Power can also work.
But there should be no Tamas, inertia, and other
Disciple: Was there a time when these things were
Sri Aurobindo: When we were living in the Guest-house, we
passed through a brilliant period of Sadhana in the vital.
Many people had dazzling experiences and great currents of
energy were going round. If we had stopped there–like other
Yogis–we would have given rise to a brilliant creation, or,
would have established some kind of religion; but that would
not have been the real work.
Disciple: Could a great person in the conquest of the
physical being have been made at that time?
Sri Aurobindo: If the Sadhaks had taken the right
attitude, then with the gain in the vital it would have been
easy in the physical, in spite of difficulties. But that was
done. Then we came down to the physical. Those brilliant
experiences disappeared and the slow difficult work of
physical transformation remained. There–in the
physical–you find the truth of the Vedik rik–censurers are
always ready telling–“you can’t do the thing, you are bound
Disciple: Would it then mean that the new people who
would come to the yoga would have no experience of the
mental and the vital planes?
Sri Aurobindo: They can have, if they hold aloof. Only,
they can’t help the pressure on the physical nature as it is
in the atmosphere.
There are cases that differ: there is some one X who made
very good progress in the mind. In another case the Sadhak
became aloof and progressed; but the moment he came to the
vital, the whole thing seemed to have stopped.
Disciple: Did he lose the contact with the Brahmic
Sri Aurobindo: No, it is only apparently lost. But if he
cannot go further, then his yoga stops there, that is
Disciple: Can the new comers make rapid progress?
Sri Aurobindo: Certainly they can. I know cases, where
they go on very well making good progress.
Disciple: Will the yoga be more easy for the lucky new
Sri Aurobindo: Yes, in a sense; but the conditions may be
more exacting, and the demands made on them may be
high. You had an easy time. You were left to do, more or
less, as you liked in your mind, and the vital and other
parts. But when the change in the subconscious has to come
about, many will find it difficult; there will be some who
will progress and others who will not and will drop out.
Already some like X had dropped out, when the Mother took a
decision about his vital being-“you will have to change”.
Before that he was swimming in his art and other things, but
as soon as this came he dropped out. All these
things–attachments, sex-impulse etc.–finally find refuge
in the subconscient. One has to throw it out from
there–destruction of the seed in the subconscient is
necessary, otherwise it would sprout again, as we see in the
case of some Yogis.
Disciple: Can one have these things in him when there is
complete union with the Divine?
Sri Aurobindo: What is the “complete union”? For
instance, Ramakrishna asked the Divine Mother not to send
him “Kama”–sex-impulse–and he succeeded, but all cases are
not like that. It is quite possible to reject something
centrally and totally–that is to say, completely–but one
can’t make general rule about these things.
Our yoga is like a new path made out in the jungle and
there is no previous road in the region. I had myself great
difficulties; the suggestion that it was not possible was
always there. A vision which the Mother has sustained me:
the vision of a carriage moving towards the highest peak on
a steep hill. The higher summit is the transformation of
Nature by the attainment of the Higher consciousness.
Disciple: Is there nothing that can be taken as
established informally in all the yogas?
Sri Aurobindo: In this yoga you have to go on working out
again and again the same thing. Thus it becomes a long drawn
out struggle, one falls and rises, again falls. Take for
instance, Nirvana, quietude and samata. I had to go on
establishing them again and again till when I had done it in
subconscient this accident came. It can be a test.
Disciple: What made the attack possible?
Sri Aurobindo: There were gaps in the physical. Disciple:
Can one take this as a part of Lila or game?
Sri Aurobindo: Well, it is the ignorance and the Divine
is working out from there. If that was not so, what is the
meaning of the life?
Everything looked all right and it appeared as if I was
going on well with the work, then the accident came. It
indicated that it is when the subconscient is changed that
the power of Truth can be embodied; then it can be spread in
wave after wave in humanity.
8th January, 1939.
Disciple: Can one way that snoring is the protest of the
subconscient against somebody’s presence? (Laughter)
Sri Aurobindo: Against whom? against whose presence when
one snores alone! (Laughter)
Disciple: We read in the papers about the conversion of
John Middleton Murry to theism. It was Hitler’s statement
after the purage that he “embodies justice and law”,
that, he dispenses with “trials”–which made Murry
consider him as the Anti-Christ. It seems Gandhian
non-violence has also appealed to Hitler. He wants to become
a village pastor and stop the flow of villagers to the
cities. Gandhi has written about Hitler’s regime that the
sufferings of Bishop Nicmuller are not in vain. He has
covered himself with glory. Hitler’s heart may be harder
than stone, but non-violence has power to generate heat that
can melt the stonier heart. What do you think of that?
Sri Aurobindo: I am afraid, it would require quite a
furnace! (Laughter) Gandhi has mainly to deal with
Englishmen and the English want to have their conscience at
ease. Besides, the Englishman wants to satisfy his
self-esteem and wants world-esteem. But if Gandhi had to
deal with the Russian Nihilists–not the Bolshevites–or the
German Nazis then they would have long ago put him out of
Disciple: Gandhi is hopeful about the conversion of
Hitler’s heart or about the German people throwing him
Sri Aurobindo: Hitler would not have been where he is if
he had a soft heart. It is curious how some of the most
sentimental people are most cruel. Hitler, for instance, is
quite sentimental. He weeps over his mother’s tomb and
paints sentimental pictures.
Disciple: It is “the London cabman’s psychic” as you said
the other day.
Sri Aurobindo: Yes. Men like Hitler can’t change, they
have to be bumped out of existence: There is no chance of
their changing in this life. He can’t get rid of his
cruelty–it is his blood.
Not that the British can’t be brutal and sentimental too.
But they can’t persist as the Germans and the Russians in
their brutality. The Englishman may be sentimental, but he
likes to show off that he is practical, prosaic and brave.
In the Russian, you find a mixture of cruelty and
sentimentalism. He can break your neck and in the next
moment embrace you. The English man behaves quite well, if
you give him blows on his face when he treats you badly.
Disciple: In Fiji islands there was the case of a Punjabi
from a good family, who went there as an indentured
labourer. An Englishman was his supervisor and used to beat
him every day, in spite of his doing the hard allotted
One day the Punjabi got fed up and caught hold of him and
threw him on the ground and went on giving him blows. Then
the Englishman said “that will do!” He got up and shook
hands with him and the two became great friends!!
Disciple: There was the case of Shamakant, the
tiger-tamer, an athlete of Bengal. While he was traveling
some Tommis came and tried to show their strength. He
knocked them so well that they were extremely glad to get
out of the compartment at the next station. They did not
expect a Bengali to be so strong.
Another time the train at Howrah was stopped, as there
was a fight between an Englishman and a Bengali. There was a
cry of “Bande Mataram” and the whole train came out.
Sri Aurobindo: That was the sudden transformation during
the Swadeshi days. Before that the people used to
tremble before an Englishman in Bengal. The position was
I remember when I wanted to do political work I visited
Bengal and toured the districts of Jessors, Khulna etc. We
found that the people steeped in pessimism, a black weight
of darkness weighing over the whole country. It is difficult
now a days to imagine those days. I was traveling with Deva
Vrata Bose; he was living on plantains and speaking to
people. He had a very persuasive way of talking. It was at
Khulna, we had a right royal reception, not so much because
I was a politician, but because I was a son of my father.
They served me with seven rows of dishes and I could hardly
reach out to them, and even from others I could eat very
My father was very popular at Khulna; wherever he went he
became all powerful. When he was at Rangpur he was very
friendly with the magistrate-there. We went to his cousin’s
place in England afterwards, the Drewettes. It was always
the doctor (i.e. K.D. Ghose) who got things done at Rangpur.
When the new magistrate came he found that nothing could be
done without Dr. K.D. Ghose. So he asked the Government to
remove him and he was transferred to Khulna. It was since
that time that he became a politician. That is to say, he
did not like the English domination. Before that every thing
Western was good! He wanted, for example, all his sons to be
great; at that time to join the I.C.S. was to become great.
He was extremely generous. Hardly anyone who went to him for
help came back empty handed.
Disciple: Did you see him after coming from England? Sri
Aurobindo: I could not. In fact, I was the cause of his
death. He was having heart-trouble and the Grindleys sent
a wire to him that I had started by a certain steamer. In
fact I had not; and that steamer was sunk near Portugal and
so when he heard the news he thought that I was drowned and
he died of that shock.
Disciple: But when you were in England was he sending you
Sri Aurobindo: In the beginning. But afterwards he sent
less and less and ultimately he stopped altogether. I had my
scholarship at Cambridge but that was not enough to cover
the fees and other expenses. So once the tutor wrote to him
about money. Then he sent the exact sum for the fees and
wrote a letter lecturing to me about extravagance!
But it was not true; I and my eldest brother at any rate,
were living quite Spartan life. My brother worked with Henry
Cotton’s brother in the Liberal association (Kensington) and
used to get 50 shillings a week. On that and little more we
two managed to live. We had bread and a piece of bacon in
the morning; at night some kind of pastry. For the winter we
had not overcoat. After one year like that to talk of
extravagance was absurd. But Mono Mohan could not stand it;
he went out and lived in boarding house and ate nicely
There was a tailor at Cambridge who used to tempt me with
all sorts of clothes for suits and make me buy them; of
course, he gave credit. Then I went to London. He somehow
traced me there and found Mono Mohan and canvassed orders
from him (!) Mono Mohan went in for velvet suits, not
staring red but aesthetic and used to visit Oscar Wilde in
Then we came away to India but the tailor was not to be
deprived of his dues! He wrote to the Government of Bengal
and to the Baroda State for recovering sum from me and Mono
I had paid up all my dues and kept £4/–or so. I did
not believe that I was bound to pay it, since he always
charged me double. But as the Maharajah said, I had better
pay it, I paid.
Disciple: Did Mono Mohan follow your political
Sri Aurobindo: He was very proud of our political career.
He used to say: “There are two and a half men in India–my
brother Aurobindo and Barin–two and half is Tilak!”
Disciple: How was Mono Mohan in England?
Sri Aurobindo: He used to play the poet: he had poetical
illness and used to moan out his verses in deep tones. Once
we were passing through Cumberland and it was getting dark.
We shouted to him but he paid no heed, and came afterwards
leisurely at his own pace. His poet-playing dropped after he
came to India.
Disciple: How as the eldest brother?
Sri Aurobindo: He was not at all poetic or imaginative.
He took after my father. He was very practical but very easy
to get on with. He had fits of miserliness.
The question of Barin when he came to Baroda and stayed
for sometime was: How can I stay with Khaserao or Madhave
Rao for months and years without quarreling?
10th January 1939.
Disciple: My friend “X” has begun to give medicine to
some of my patients. Sri Aurobindo: So, you have your
“Homeo-Allo” alliance or axis!
Talk on Homeopathy was going when the Mother came.
Mother: Do you know about a school of Homeopathy in
Switzerland which is very famous in Europe? It prepares
medicines also. They have books in which symptoms are
grouped together and remedies are indicated for a group of
symptoms. It is a very convenient method; only, you have to
have the book; or good memory. But are you allowed to
practice Homeopathy without license?
Disciple: Oh, yes. No license is required in India.
Disciple: But Dr. S was telling that using great
potencies might harm, or even kill the patient. It is
dangerous if everybody beings to practice it, they say.
Disciple: In Bengal it is practiced everywhere.
Sri Aurobindo: Is Yunani medicine practiced in India?
Disciple: Yes, in cities where there is Mohammedian
population, and in Muslim states. In Delhi there is the
Tibbi college founded by Hakim Ajmal Khan. It seems, it is
the only school of Unani medicine in the whole of Asia.
Students from Turkey, Egypt and Afghanistan used to come
there to learn. Ajmal Khan was the direct descendent of the
court Hakim to the Mogul Emperors. Where from is it
Sri Aurobindo: It is from the Greek school. They use
animal products and salts. Besides curing which is common to
all the systems the Unani lays claim to rejuvenate the human
system. Many diseases which require operation for their cure
in Allopathy are cured by Unani and Ayurvedic medicines
There were many specific cures known in India but I am
afraid they are getting lost. I remember the case of
Jyotindra Nath Banerji who had a remedy for sterility from a
Sannyasi and he used it with success. Many cases of
barrenness for ten or fifteen years were cured within a
short time. The direction for taking the medicine were very
scrupulously to be observed. He knew a remedy for
Mother: Do you know about the Chinese medicine? Once they
had a rule that you paid the doctor so long as you were
well. All payment stopped when one became ill, and if the
patient died they used to put a mark on the doctor’s door to
show that his patient had died.
But the Chinese method of pricking the nerve and curing
the disease is very remarkable. The idea is that there is a
point of nerve where the attack of the disease is
concentrated and if you prick the point, or the Devil, on
the head, the disease is cured. They find out this nervous
point from the indications that the patient gives, or
sometimes they find out by themselves also.
Disciple: I do not think that any system of medicine can
succeed in curing all diseases. I believe
that only yogic power can cure all diseases.
Disciple: Even that is not unconditional; otherwise, it
might be very nice. There are conditions to be fulfilled for
the yogic power to succeed.
Sri Aurobindo: Do you expect that the yogic power, or
consciousness will simply say “Let there be no disease and
there will be no disease”?
Disciple: Not that way. But cases of miraculous cures are
known, that is, cures effected without any conditions.
Sri Aurobindo: That is another matter. Otherwise, the
Yogi has to get up every morning and say “Let everybody in
the world be all right” and there would be no disease in the
12th January 1939
There was a controversy about a child who was underage
and had an intense aspiration to remain in the Ashram, i.e.
to be under Mother’s protection and guidance. But being
under the guardianship of her parents the child could not
carry out her inner wish. Ultimately the parents,
particularly the mother, took the child away.
Some Evening-Talks refer to this incident.
Sri Aurobindo: She–the child–has developed character
and intelligence quite beyond her age. When she wrote to us
she used to cast reflections on the world and on people that
was even beyond a grown up woman. She is remarkable for her
The mother has found it difficult to bend her. It is
true, the mother does not love her. It is an accident that
she is born in that family; she is quite unlike her parents.
Besides, she has found out that the mother used to manage
her by lying.
Disciple: They say that the child is very happy
Sri Aurobindo: But she wrote to us that she is never
Disciple: In the papers we find that Stalin has made
allegations against Trotsky; can there be any truth in
Sri Aurobindo: Not creditable.
Disciple: But the confessions of the generals were
Sri Aurobindo: That they did to save their relatives.
Disciple: A Japanese general predicts a hundred year war
to civilize the world!
Sri Aurobindo: The idea is first to drive out the
European from Asia, but the Japanese will go about it
silently without bragging.
Disciple: Will Indian freedom come long time after?
Sri Aurobindo: Not necessarily; it will not come by arms
but without arms. Disciple: How?
Sri Aurobindo: There is a prophesy among the Sannyasis
and also Lele used to tell us that there is no chance of
freedom by fighting.
Disciple: Italy or Japan can come to help India.
Sri Aurobindo: That is not so easy. Naval equipment is
not enough; without a strong army it is very difficult to
Disciple: Congress ministers are trying to introduce
military training in U.P., C.P., and Bombay. But Sir
Hayat in the Panjab is counting the distinction between
martial and non-martial races.
Sri Aurobindo: That was introduced by the British to keep
down India by depriving her of military races except the
Pathans, Gurkhas, Panjabees etc. But every part of India had
its empire in the past. The whole of India can have military
equipment and training in a short time.
Disciple: The problem is of the Muslims.
Sri Aurobindo: They also want independence; only they
want” “Mohammedan independence”.
Disciple: Spain in Europe seems to be like India. But if
France gets Spain it would be difficult for England.
Sri Aurobindo: It will be worse for France; by the spring
the intentions of the Axis powers will be known.
Disciple: But why France depends so much upon
Sri Aurobindo: Because she has no other ally.
Disciple: It is the short-sighted policy of the Allies,
that has given chance to Hitler.
Sri Aurobindo: No, it is England that got afraid of
France ascendancy on the continent and encouraged and
pressed Germany into power. She wants to maintain the
balance of power. Hitler aims at France.
France always wants to placate Italy; but England came in
the way with “sanctions”. They could not save Abyssinia and
made an enemy of Mussolini.
Disciple: The cry of Tunis was to divert the attention
Sri Aurobindo: I don’t think Blum’s Socialist government
is for non-intervention. The Socialist in France did nothing
when they were in power.
Disciple: Perhaps Russia can render some help.
Sri Aurobindo: Russia is too far and I don’t know if it
is trustworthy. Disciple: But the newspapers report that
America is preparing armaments.
Sri Aurobindo: Yes, perhaps Roosevelt has secret news
about the intentions of Nazis. It is not a question of
meddling in European politics, but of being eaten last!
(Laughter) There are at least some people in America who
understand this thing.
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 it.”
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
Disciple: But they have life, Sir? Sri Aurobindo: Yes,
they have. 119
Disciple: And, if one kills them?
Sri Aurobindo: Well, what happens?
Disciple: He will be liable to sin of course. I don’t
mean we don’t kill at all, for instance, we are breathing
Mother: The doctors don’t kill?
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!
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
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
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
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
14th January 1939
The topic of Homeopathy came up. It was said that it has
cures for religious depression and anger also.
Disciple: Anger, the scientists say, is due to the
reaction of glands. But can “egoism” be cured like that?
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
Sri Aurobindo: Not necessarily. But it is the first step.
Disciple: And what is the second?
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 quick.
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
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
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 violent temper.
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 in
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
Disciple: ‘Y’ after doing so much Tapasya is thinking of
leaving the Ashram and that too after twelve years of
Sri Aurobindo: What Tapasya? If complete control was
given to him he would have stayed perhaps.
Disciple: He says, he is helping the Mother.
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 nut.
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 them! (pause)
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 man.
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 afterwards.
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 meditation” etc.
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
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 true.
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
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
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
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
Sri Aurobindo: Then what did he say?
Disciple: At last he said his name was Thompson.”
Disciple: I remember a difficult question: “Is it in
keeping with yoga to get oneself insured?”
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 Divine?
Sri Aurobindo: The force that supports the work, the
vital force, is different from the Divine Consciousness.
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 work.
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
Disciple: But he was a good lieutenant in the old
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
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
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 say?
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 other
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 Sadhana.
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
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
Disciple: I do not understand why he is asking for
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. (laughter)
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”! (Laughter)
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 say?
Disciple: They will say, it is all humbug. (turning to
Sri Aurobindo) But what does yoga say?
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
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 materializes.
Disciple: You have already cited the other day the case
of Lord Strethmore. But is it possible to materialize
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 pyramids.
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 perfor-
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 man.
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
Sri Aurobindo: Yes, if it has not gone away very far it
can be pulled back to the body. (The subject was
Disciple: There is chance of “C” coming.
Disciple: He has been coming for a long time.
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
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
Disciple: Yes. He seemed to have gathered all sorts of
false facts from all kinds of people. Disciple: Did you read
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 for humanity.
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 humanity.
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 their aims.
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 political work.
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 struggle.
Sri Aurobindo: I see, one can’t give up everything for
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 politics.
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, that, at
least, is something I know; whereas I would be only a bad
Disciple: Tagore narrowly escaped the Charkha. But it
seems Nandlal Bose is turning at!
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
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
But I left the negotiations to my elder brother and James
Cotton. I knew nothing about life at that time.
Disciple: What were the expenses in those days?
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
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.
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! (laughter)
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
Sri Aurobindo: It is good that some one raises voice
that when efforts are being made to make non-violence the
method of solving all problems.
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 province.
Sri Aurobindo: And what were they expected to do in case
there was an attack? Stand simply? Disciple: No. They should
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
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 you.
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 seems too
much. Such an application ignores the great principle of
Adhikar,–qualification even as the Europeans do. Also it
makes no provision for difference of situations.
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 killing.
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 pause)
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.