Sir Aurobindo – 1907
EVENING TALKS wit SRI
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
But the European influence has
spoiled all that. They are now very materialistic. Now how
brutal they have become, which is thoroughly
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
Disciple: But without brutalities
(killing innocent inhabitants) it would be difficult to win
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
Disciple: Foreign help to China e.g.
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?
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
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
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
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 desires.
Disciple: How to get the intuition?
By calmness of mind?
Sri Aurobindo: Calmness is not
enough. Mind must be silent.
Disciple: It will then take a long
Sri Aurobindo: Can’t say. Can take a
short time, or a long time.
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
Mother had departed by 7 P.M., we
rallied around Sri Aurobindo. He looked once or twice at
Disciple: M. is beaming
Disciple: That must be Kundalini
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
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
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
18th December 1938 (4-30 P.
Disciple: It is surprising that
Swami Nikhilananda should write about you. (There was an
article in the Hindu by Swami Nikhilananda)
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 open?
Sri Aurobindo: Yes, because they are
a new nation and have no past tradition to bind them. France
oslovakia also are open. Many are
writing from there to do yoga. Disciple: Nisha was in
communication with you for some time?
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 Baroda.
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. Punjab, Behar.
(The talk then passed on to
Disciple: I hope we shall live to
see the glorious day of the Supermind. When will it descend,
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
Disciple: Have you realized
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
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 difficult business.
Disciple: We hear that there will be
a selected number of people who will first receive the
Sri Aurobindo (made a peculiar
expression with his eyes and asked): Selected by whom?
Disciple: By the Supermind, Sir?
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
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
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
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
(At this time Mother came and asked
what were we talking.)
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 cold etc.
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 not?
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 fear death?
Besides fear has no place in yoga.
The soul is immortal and the body passes. The soul goes from
one life to another.
Disciple: We fear because of our
Sri Aurobindo: One must have no
attachments in yoga. Disciple: How to conquer
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
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 suggestions.
Disciple: Is Barin still doing
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
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
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
may produce bad results etc.
emission and other disturbances.
Disciple: Yes. He had
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 won’t last.
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
Disciple: Barin in his paper “Dawn”
began to write your biography.
Sri Aurobindo: I don’t know that.
Did he publish a paper?
I would have been interested to see
what he writes about me.
Disciple: It ceased after a short
Disciple: You wrote back exclaiming
great surprise that what everyone knows I do not
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
Disciple: Then why did you not check
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. But
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 test?
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 action.
Disciple: We heard that you and C.R.
Das used to make plans of revolution in India while in
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 Resident personally.
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
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 editing it.
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
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
Disciple: You have reviewed
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
Disciple: When some one asked Tilak
what he would do when India got Swaraj, he said he would
again become a professor of Mathematics.
Disciple: What about A. B. Patrika?
It was also an extremist paper.
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? 39
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 Pondicherry.
Disciple: Why to
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
Disciple: You took the certificate
under a false name. (I was a little surprised to hear he
disguised under a false name. So the
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
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
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
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
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 Mother.
After her departure at about 7 P.M.
Sri Aurobindo asked X. “What is the idea behind your
question? Something personal or a general
Disciple: I meant, for instance, how
to see good in every body, how to love all and have
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
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 resistance.
Disciple: Sometimes one feels a sort
of love for everybody, though the feeling lasts for a second
it gives a great joy.
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
adopt the Sahaja Marga, it is
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
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
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 nature.
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
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
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
Disciple: Would not the inner
realization stop because of these outer
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
Then Sri Aurobindo asked: Do you
anything about M.?
Disciple: My impression was not
favourable. I was not personally attracted by
Sri Aurobindo: When I saw his photo
I had an impression that he is a man with strong vital
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
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
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
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
Disciple: Was he working on your
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
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
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
Sri Aurobindo: Descent of
This primary breaking of the ice
made the atmosphere a little encouraging So, X catching the
chance shot the following question with a beaming
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
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
Disciple: Asoka helped in
Sri Aurobindo: Anybody could have
Disciple: But it is through his aid
that it became all-powerful.
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 is lost.
Disciple: Raman Maharshi was known
to no one. It was Brunton who made him widely
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
The talk turned to
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 without mosquitoes!
There are reports that those who
stay there permanently are not all in agreement with each
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 Arunachala.
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
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
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 by Dayananda.
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
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
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
Disciple: X. had his usual outburst
Sri Aurobindo: Oh, it was the
descent of Vishnu’s ananda.
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 not?
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
The topic was changed at this
Disciple: What is meant by
self-offering? How to do it?
Sri Aurobindo: How to do it! One
offers one’s vital, mind and heart, attachment, passions,
and grows into the Divine consciousness.
Disciple: What time is more
propitious for meditation,–day-time or night-time? I get
more concentrated at night.
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 meditation.
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
Disciple: Sometimes meditation is
Sri Aurobindo: At that time you must
sit, otherwise you feel uneasy.
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
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
Sri Aurobindo: The thing is, the
physical being has got a limit. The vital being can feel the
energy, peace, etc. but
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
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 different.
(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
Disciple: How do you
Sri Aurobindo: By the inclination of
your head, perhaps.
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
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 they come.
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 resistance.
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.
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 or meditation.
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
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
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
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
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 Democracy.
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
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
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
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
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
Disciple: His idea is of gathering
all great men together.
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
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
Disciple: He made that rule perhaps
to enforce discipline?
Sri Aurobindo: Discipline is all
right but once you centralize you go on
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
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
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
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 like that.
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
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
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
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
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 another.
Disciple: But things will improve, I
Sri Aurobindo: If this goes, you may
be sure that the Golden Age is coming! All my opinions
of course on the basis of the
present conditions. But the things would be quite different
if the Supermind came down.
Disciple: You are tempting us too
much with your Supermind. But will it really benefit the
whole of mankind?
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
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 it comes.
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 the same.
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
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
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
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 part.
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 and
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
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
No. no, all that is a superficial
view of things. One has to consider the whole civilization
before one can pass opinion.
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
Sri Aurobindo could hardly fail to
notice it. He asked: “What is the joke?”
Disciple: “X” is mocking at my
Sri Aurobindo: He does not know that
yawning may be a fatal symptom.
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
Disciple: That is a
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
Disciple: The French can also
organize the Abysinians against Italy. Sri Aurobindo: There
won’t be time for that.
Disciple: The Italians do not seem
to be good soldiers.
Sri Aurobindo: No, I will be greatly
surprised if they can defeat the French. In that case
Mussolini must have changed the Italian character
Disciple: They had a hard time in
Sri Aurobindo: Yes. It was by their
superior air-bombs, mustard-gas poisoning that they
Disciple: But they will be aided by
Sri Aurobindo: Yes, Italy can’t do
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
Even so during the last war the
Germans could not throw up any remarkable military genius
Foch. If Foch had been the
Commander-in-chief before, the war would have ended much
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
Disciple: I don’t understand why
Germany joins Italy in attacking France. According to
European astrology Hitler’s stars are with him till Dec.
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
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
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 enjoying Christmas.
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 say.
Disciple: In case there is a general
war India will have an opportunity for independence. Sri
Disciple: She will refuse to
co-operate. I think the Congress Ministries were due to the
threat of war in Europe.
Sri Aurobindo: Yes It was in order
to conciliate the Indians.
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
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
Disciple: It is the Superconscious
existence that later on is called “Self” in Vedanta.
According to some people Raman Maharshi has realized the
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
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 question.
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 this “I”.
Disciple: Different spiritual
persons say different things. How to find out which is the
choice is not necessarily that of
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
Disciple: But one can know what they
mean by some criterion.
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 Nirvana.
Disciple: But there is a fundamental
realization of some kind?
Mother: That is to say, there is a
fundamental truth of consciousness. But that is not so easy
Disciple: How to choose a master,
then? We must know whom to choose.
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
Disciple: If the choice is right one
feels happiness and satisfaction.
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
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 of?”
Disciple: They are common and found
everywhere. They are given in the Gita: Equality, Love for
others, even-mindedness etc.
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 more comprehensive.
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 right.
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, reaching
higher and higher, stopping at none
as final, till I arrived at the glimpses of the Supermind.
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 the Truth.
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 for me.
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
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 beyond.
Disciple: How can one succeed in
Sri Aurobindo: By quietude of the
mind. Above the Mind there is not only the Infinite in
itself but infinite sea of peace, joy, light, power
etc.–above the head. The golden lid–Hiranmaya
patra–intervenes between that which is above Mind and what
is below. Once one can break that lid those elements can
come down at any time one wills, and for that, quietude is
necessary. There are people who get those things without
quietude, but it is very difficult.
Disciple: It is said that there is
also a veil in the heart, is it true?
Sri Aurobindo: Yes, a veil or a
wall, if you like. The vital with its surface consciousness,
the emotional with its disturbances and veils and one has to
break through these and get to what is behind them. There,
one finds the heart. In some people the higher force works
behind the veil because it would meet with many obstacles if
it worked in front; it builds or breaks whatever is
necessary till one day the veil is withdrawn and one finds
oneself in the Infinite.
Disciple: Does the Higher Force work
all the time, even when there is no aspiration in the
Sri Aurobindo: Yes. In those who
have the inner urge, the intermittent action of aspiration
itself may be due to the action of the Higher Force from
Disciple: We want to know how to get
the infinite peace, etc.
Sri Aurobindo: First, to want only
that. It is difficult, is it not? In that case you have to
wait; yoga demands patience. The old yogas say that one has
to wait twelve years to get any experience at all. After
that period one can complain; but you said that you had many
experiences. So, it is not so bad.
Disciple: Yes. I told you that
meditation used to come to me at my place spontaneously,–at
any time and I had to sit down and meditate. Sometimes, it
used to come to me while I was just going to my office and
the experience of peace etc. used to last for some days. But
sometimes for a long period nothing happens. One should get
some experience at least once in a fortnight.
Disciple: Sometimes I feel a pull on
the head upwards. What is it due to?
Sri Aurobindo: Of course, it is not
in the physical head but in the subtle body, the Mind trying
ascend towards the Higher
Disciple: If one dreams or sees
visions of seas, hills, etc.,–what do they mean?
Sri Aurobindo: These are symbols;
the sea of energy, the hill of the Being with its different
planes and parts,–the Spirit at the summit. These visions
are quite common,–one sees them as the mind and the heart
Disciple: I felt at one time that my
head was at the Mother’s feet. What is it, Sir!
Sri Aurobindo: It is the experience
of the psychic being. So, you had the psychic
Disciple: I told you how I had it
and lost it through fear that I was dying. But I could not
recognize this experience as psychic (Laughter).
Sri Aurobindo: It is this “I” that
comes in the way. One must forget it and experience as if it
were happening to somebody else. If one could do that it
would be a great conquest. When I had the Nirvana experience
I forgot myself completely. I was a sort of
What is the use of your being Mr. so
and so, son of so and so? If your “I” had died it would have
been a glorious death.
Disciple: What happens when the
human consciousness is replaced by the Divine
Sri Aurobindo: One feels perpetual
calm, perpetual strength,–one is aware of Infinity, lives
not only in Infinity but in Eternity. One feels the
immortality and does not care about the death of the body,
and one has the consciousness of the One in all. Everything
becomes the manifestation of the Brahman. For instance, as I
look around the room I see everything as the Brahman–it is
not thinking, it is a concrete experience,–even the wall,
the book is Brahman. I see you not as X. but as a divine
being in the Divine. It is a wonderful
2nd January 1939
Disciple: I think the Mother is
Mother: That is not the habit here.
It is the play of the forces, or rather the play of adverse
forces, that tries to test the Sadhak. If you refuse to
listen to them or remain firm, then they withdraw. People
here have plenty of difficulties already. Why, add new ones?
To say that we purposely test them is not true. We never do
Mother came in for meditation and
went away early at 6-45. But she did not go to the evening
meditation before nearly 7-25 or 7-30.
Disciple: How far is it desirable
for the Ashram to be self-sufficient? Sri Aurobindo:
Self-sufficient in what way?
Disciple: In meeting the needs of
the daily life, say for instance, preparing our own cloth
here; my friend who has come from Bombay wants that we
should introduce spindles and looms to prepare our clothes.
Whether and how far such self-sufficiency is desirable in
Ashram like ours?
Sri Aurobindo: It is not a question
of how far it is desirable, it is also a question of how far
it is practicable? No objection to spinning or weaving. How
would “N” like to go on spinning?
Disciple: I am already spinning
Sri Aurobindo: There are all sorts
of mental ideas, or rather mental formations which can be
carried out and which are being carried out at the other
places but this Ashram is not the fit place for carrying
Disciple: In what way it is not
Sri Aurobindo: There are many
They all point out to institutions
like Dayalbagh. In that case you have to direct all your
energies in that channel (leaving the Sadhana on one
In other organizations they impose
discipline and obedience from outside by rule of force.
There people are obliged to take their orders from some
But here we don’t impose such
discipline, (from outside) and therefore you can hardly get
people to work together. It is because of their ego and
their idea of mental independence. Even if you want to do
that kind of work there are two things you must guard
1. The tendency to degenerate into
mere mechanical and commercial activity.
2. You have to guard against
ambition. There is a natural tendency to cut a figure before
the world, to hold that the Ashram and the Ashramites are
some thing great, that must go.
Lastly there is health–unless the
doctor promises to homeopathise them (Sadhaks) into
Work as a part of Sadhana is all
right, but work as a part of spiritual creation we cannot
take up unless the inner difficulties are overcome. It is
not that we do not want to do it but here it is not
mental-construction that we want but spiritual creation. It
is here left to the Mother’s intuition. Even then there are
Disciple: What is the difference
between peace and silence?
Sri Aurobindo: What do you
Disciple: Is peace included in
silence or vice versa?
Sri Aurobindo: If you have silence
you have peace, but the opposite is not true. That is to
say, you may have peace but not silence.
Disciple: Is silence mere
Sri Aurobindo: No. Not necessarily.
It may be full of the positive presence of the Divine.
Disciple: Is it not a dull and dry state?
Sri Aurobindo: No. Not necessarily.
As I said, it can be full of the presence of the Divine or
may be Mental peace–accompanied by
a sense of emptiness which may be dull to the mind but it is
the emptiness for something higher to come in and fill
Disciple: In that
emptiness–Shunyam–there is a great release. Is it
Sri Aurobindo: Oh yes. It is a very
pleasant state. These people, like Russell, don’t understand
what this emptiness means. They try to go in and immediately
they find themselves empty. They do not like it. They think
that all that comes into the consciousness comes from
outside. They have no idea that there are inner things with
which the being can be filled.
Disciple: But you said in one of
your letters to “D” that one must be prepared to pass
through the period of dryness.
Sri Aurobindo: There is an
experience of neutral peace of mind which may be dry and
dull to the ordinary man.
Disciple: Can one act when one has
Sri Aurobindo: Certainly; why not?
When I talk of silence I mean inner silence. It is perfectly
possible to hear and do all sorts of things and retain that
Disciple: Is the silence static and
Sri Aurobindo: It is not silence
that is dynamic–but you can become dynamic having that
inner silence. You can also remain without doing anything.
People who are dynamic can’t remain
without doing something. They do not realize that if they
have the inner silence the effectivity of their work is
increased a hundred fold.
Some Maraths came when I came to
Pondicherry, inquired what I was doing: when he heard I was
doing “nothing”, he said “it is a great thing if one can do
it. It is a capacity to do nothing”!
Disciple: There is one gentleman who
actually sealed up his lips with something so that he may
not be able to speak.
Sri Aurobindo: That is what is
called Asuric Tapasya: Titanic askasis. Disciple: Can one
gain something by Asuric Tapasya?
Sri Aurobindo: Yes; all Tapasya can
give you something.
Physical and vital tapasya can give
you something. It can give you physical and vital control,
though that is more a Nigraha–repressed control–rather
than anything else.
Disciple: Is it not a part of Divine
realization–? What is Divine realization?
Sri Aurobindo: Experience of peace
and bliss is a spiritual realization. If one gains control
of the vital being by the influence of the Self–that is a
Disciple: But one can have the
necessary control by the mind–rather than try such physical
and outward control.
Sri Aurobindo: These things may be
steps to the Divine; for example Hatha Yoga and Raja Yoga.
Disciple: Our friend “X”, finds that Yogis have
Sri Aurobindo: It is not the defects
that are important but whatever leads to the upward growth,
to the Divine, adding something to his stature, is a gain to
the human progress towards the Light. No upward progress is
to be despised.
3rd January 1939
There was hearty laugh over the
thesis of a Marathi writer with Socialistic tendencies who
tried to prove that Swami Ramdas was a socialist!
Disciple: Some of the Sadhaks seem
to become too delicate,–a small cut or even smell of
burning ghee upsets them. Sometimes other people who cannot
understand this say this is mere fainting.
Sri Aurobindo: They used to brand
the body with hot iron to see if the man was in trance or
not! They thought perhaps that it might be only deep trance
and not Nirvikalpa Samadhi! (Laughter)
Disciple: Can it be that the man
would not feel anything? 84
Sri Aurobindo: There are cases of
people who, when under hypnotic influence, are unaffected by
pins being introduced into their bodies. And also there are
cases where the man is made to stretch out his hand and even
two or three strong people cannot bend it. There are also
cases in which sugar tastes bitter under hypnotic influence.
And the question is whether sweetness or any other property
is in the subject–as in the sense of beauty–or in the
Disciple: What is that capacity due
Sri Aurobindo: There are no physical
causes, these phenomena are due to supraphysical causes and
there the laws of the physical do not apply.
Disciple: But then what is sweetness
due to–in the case of sugar?
Sri Aurobindo: The question is
whether experience of sweetness is a common reaction of all
human beings, or has the object anything in it corresponding
to the experience of sweetness.
Disciple: But something of the
property of the object persists, like the effect of medicine
in homeopathic doses,–the smallest quantity retains the
Disciple: But what is your
Sri Aurobindo: I don’t
At this point the Mother came and
the subject matter was reported to her.
Mother: I do not believe that the
phenomena were due to hypnotism. In hypnotism you
control on another man, the subject,
i.e., your will replaces his will.
But I know what I have seen. In most
cases I have seen that both the hypnotizer and the
hypnotized lend themselves unconsciously to the influence of
occult forces. Anything that takes place in that condition
is due to the influence of those forces. I know one
case,–an extraordinary case, of exteriorization in which
almost the material,–the vital and the vital-material, form
of the subject was separated from the body of the hypnotized
person. If the hypnotizer controls the man and if he has
good will it may do the “subject” no harm. But in most cases
he keeps himself aloof to direct the person and cannot take
charge of the body and in the interval it is some other
forces that take possession of the body.
It is dangerous to do these things
except under guidance, or in the presence of somebody who
knows these things. You find people speaking languages in
that unconscious condition which they do not know at all. It
is because some of their being in the past, or
subconsciously, knows the language and in that state, a
contact is established between the part of the subconscient
and the man speaks the language. It is not as if the
hypnotist willed that: “the man shall speak a particular
language” and the man begins to speak that language even
though there may be no part in him that knew the language.
Such a thing is impossible. Only, if there is a part that
knows and if one can establish a contact then he can speak
Disciple: Is this knowledge
indispensable for yoga?
Sri Aurobindo: Not necessarily. It
is useful for knowledge of the physical and also for mastery
over death, it is essential.
There is an ancient prophesy in the
that the kingdom of God would be
established in humanity when the man will come who would
have the power to die and come back, i.e. take up his body
again,–after death. It is essential to know what is death
if you want to conquer it. That shows that the ancients
foresaw the need for the knowledge and also that of
transformation of the physical.
It is curious how some people can
easily separate their subtle bodies from the physical, say
in three or four days even. They go out of the body and see
their body lying in front of them, while in other cases they
do not succeed.
This knowledge is also useful in
curing diseases. For instance, it is perfectly easy to
prevent diseases and to cure them if you have the knowledge
of these planes. There is what is called “the nervous
envelope”, which is an intermediary between the subtle and
the gross body. It is that which acts as a sheath protecting
you against all attacks of diseases. If the nervous envelope
is intact no disease can come to you. In most people, with
aging, this envelope wears out and then gradually the forces
are able to penetrate and pierce it. That is one of the
causes of death.
Disciple: Can this nervous envelope
be seen in the patient?
Sri Aurobindo: Yes; and if you can
see what is necessary you can put it in. In order to keep it
in tact you must have quiet, a balanced life, rest, etc.
People generally spoil it by excitement and other
In the case of exteriorization done
by the Tibetans, a thin thread is maintained when one leaves
and if that is snapped the man may
not be able to return to his body.
Disciple: There are cases of
Tibetans who expose themselves to ice without any bad
reactions and also there was report of the messenger who
practically flies throughout Tibet carrying the tidings of
Sri Aurobindo: These are known
Disciple: There are so many miracles
reported about Sj. Bijoy Goswami. Do you think they are all
Sri Aurobindo: I have no personal
knowledge of them. But I believe most of the miracles
attributed to Bijoy Goswami are more possible with the
subtle than with the physical body.
Sri Aurobindo then recounted the
story of how Mother was once on the point of death in
Algeria when she was practicing the yoga with Theon and his
wife both of them great occultists. Madame Theon
particularly was a remarkable woman.
The Mother exteriorized and visited
Paris and met her friends. The exteriorization was
sufficiently material to enable her to write on a piece of
paper with pencil. The Tibetans are more familiar with
occultism than with spirituality.
The Europeans are more taken up with
the occult things. They either believe everything or
nothing. That explains their attraction for Tibet, Bhutan
and other places of occult atmosphere. Now-a-days stories
and novels are being written with these themes. Japanese Zen
Buddhism, and also Chinese Laotze have also attracted their
I also wrote some stories but they
are lost; the white ants have finished them and with them
has perished my future as a story-teller. It is a pity that
the translation of Megh Duta which I did is lost. It was
well done. Most of my stories were occult.
4th January 1939.
Disciple: X’s expression showed the
usual gesture which to the company present indicated the
coming of a question.
Disciple: What is the effect of
fasting on yoga? Sri Aurobindo: On what?
Disciple: The effect of fasting on
Sri Aurobindo: Oh, on yoga? It gives
a sort of excitement or an impetus to the vital being but
the general effect does not seem to be sound or
I fasted twice: once in Alipore jail
for ten days and another time in Pondicherry for
days. At Alipore I was in full yogic
activities and I was not taking my food, and was throwing it
away in the bucket. Of course, the Superintendent did not
know it, only two warders knew about it and they informed
others saying: “The gentleman must be ill; he will not live
long”. Though my physical strength was diminishing I was
able to raise a pail of water above my head which I could
not do ordinarily.
At Pondicherry while fasting I was
in full mental and vital vigour. I was even walking eight
hours a day and not feeling tired at all, and when I broke
the fast I did not begin slowly but with the usual normal
Disciple: How is it possible to have
such energy without food?
Sri Aurobindo: One draws the energy
from the vital plane instead of depending upon physical
substance. Once in Calcutta I lived for a long time on rice
and banana. It is a very good food.
Disciple: The trouble is that one
can’t draw conclusion from your case.
Sri Aurobindo: At best one can draw
the conclusion that it can be done. Once R. C. Dutt called
me to dinner and was surprised to find that I was taking
only vegetarian diet; while he said he could not live
without meat. With the vegetarian diet I was feeling light
and pure. It is only a belief that one can’t do without
meat; it is a question of habit.
Disciple: Can fasting be a cure for
Sri Aurobindo: Yes, if you know the
process. The Europeans sometimes fast for that purpose but
in their case it is the mental idea that works. You start
with the idea of being well or ill, and it happens
Disciple: Can neurasthenia be thrown
off like that?
Sri Aurobindo: In the case of
neurasthenic and hysteric persons the nervous envelope is
damaged. Disciple: Then it is the question of the nervous
Sri Aurobindo: All the diseases come
from outside. The force of the disease pierces, what the
Mother calls, “the nervous envelope” and then enters the
physical body. If one is conscious of the nervous
nervous sheath, then the disease can
be thrown away before it enters the physical body, as one
throws away the thoughts before they enter the
Disciple: “X” told us once that she
used to have the headache which was just above the head and
it was very severe. We laughed at it because we could not
believe that head-ache could be above the head.
Sri Aurobindo: How do you know there
can’t be such a head-ache? If the consciousness can be
lifted above the head and remain there why not the
The body is a mere mass of
responsive vibrations; everything comes from outside and
response in the body.
Disciple: If everything comes from
outside then what are we? What belongs to us?
Sri Aurobindo: In one sense nothing
belongs to you. The Physical is made up, one can say, of
various predispositions, energies of the past, and what you
have acquired in this life. These are there ready to act
under favourable conditions, under the pressure of nature.
It is Universal Nature that gives the sense of “I” or “I am
doing everything”. This “I” and ‘mine’ have no meaning
except in another sense.
Disciple: The other day I could not
understand what you said about fundamental personality. What
is the truth behind personality?
Sri Aurobindo: There are two things:
Personality and the Person, which are not the same. The true
person is the eternal Divine Purusha assuming many
it is thrown in Time as the Cosmic
and the Individual for a particular purpose, use or work.
This true Person is all the time conscious of its identity
with the Cosmic. That is why liberation is
Disciple: Is Cosmic liberation
static or dynamic?
Sri Aurobindo: It is either, or
both. In the static aspect one realizes the pure Self as the
Infinite, One, without movement, action or
In the dynamic liberation, it
depends upon where and how you experience the unity. If it
is in the mind you feel your mind as one with the Cosmic
Mind; in that case your own mind does not exist. If you feel
the unity in the vital, then your vital being becomes a part
of the cosmic vital, one with cosmic life. You can
experience the Unity on the physical plane; then you feel
your body as a speck of Universal Matter. Or, the identity
can be above the Mind, by breaking open the lid that divides
the Mind from the Infinite. Just as there is a wall that
separates the psychic being from the outer nature, so also
there is a wall above the head. You break the wall or, what
is called the lid, and you feel yourself as the Infinite,
and your individual self in the Infinite. That opening can
be either vertical or horizontal. This realization makes
dynamic liberation possible,–not merely a liberation of
Disciple: Is it true that illness
comes from Sadhana?
Sri Aurobindo: From Sadhana? Not
Disciple: I think he means that
illness may come in the course of Sadhana for purification.
Sri Aurobindo: That is a different thing. It can be a
circumstance in the sadhana.
Disciple: When I was a new-comer
here and used to have physical trouble, people said it was
due to Sadhana and so I used to hide it from you lest you
should stop the use of your Force.
Disciple: Some Sufis and Bhaktas,
devotees, take illness and other troubles as gifts from the
Beloved,–the Divine. So, can one say that everything comes
from the Divine?
Sri Aurobindo: They are right in a
way. They take everything as coming from the Divine and it
is a very good attitude if one can truly take it. Whatever
happens is with the sanction of the Supreme. If you neglect
the chain of intermediate causes there is a Superior Cause
Disciple: If a thing happens due to
our negligence, can we say that it happened by the Divine’s
Sri Aurobindo: I say, “neglecting
the intermediate causes.”
Disciple: Would there not be some
danger in that attitude? We may shirk our responsibilities
and lay it on the Divine.
Sri Aurobindo: I said about the
Bhakta–the Devotee, not about everybody. For the Bhakta
what happens is the best and he takes it in that
For the Yogi who has to conquer
these things they will come, otherwise there would be
nothing to overcome. It would be no real conquest at all.
One can always feel the difficulties as opportunities, and
in one sense one can say that whatever happens is for the
best. Hostile forces also are recognized as hostile, but
from another standpoint they become the Divine power
throwing out attacks for the work to be done. Ultimately all
powers are from
the Divine, they assist in the work.
They throw up difficulties to test the strength. It is the
Divine that has created the opposition and it is the Divine
who sends you the defeat so that you may conquer the
difficulties hereafter. This is necessary also to counter
the ego’s sense of responsibility. At one time I experienced
the hostile forces as the gods trying to test my strength.
You have to act not for success but for the sake of the
Divine, though it does not mean that you must not work for
success. Arjuna complains to Sri Krishna in the Gita that he
speaks in “double words”: saying “do not be eager for the
result” but at the same time he said “fight and
Disciple: There was a letter from
our friend “X” in which he has tried to show that the Gita
is a book on psychoanalysis and that Sri Krishna was a great
psycho-analyst! He psycho-analyzed Arjuna and worked out his
complexes. He was very much perturbed at your denunciation
of Freud’s psycho-analysis in the ‘Basis of Yoga.’ You have
run down the greatest discovery of the modern
Sri Aurobindo: Psycho-analysis means
that the subconscient is there in man and it influences the
consciousness. It means to say that if you suppress anything
it goes down into your being and comes up in queer and
Disciple: What, according to them,
is this subconscient?
Sri Aurobindo: They say it is
inconscient. Then how does it throw up everything and raise
symbols in your consciousness? Modern psychology is only
surface deep. Really speaking a new basis is needed for
psychology. The only two important requisites for real
i. Going inwards, and,
Those two are not possible without
5th January 1939.
Disciple: How long does human bone
continue to grow?
Sri Aurobindo: Cranium fifty-five
years, Madulanta fifty years. Disciple: What was your age
when you entered politics (openly)? Sri Aurobindo: 33
Disciple: When did you begin
Sri Aurobindo: Somewhere in
Disciple: How did you
Sri Aurobindo: God knows how! It
began very early perhaps. When I landed on the Indian soil a
great calm and quiet descended on me. There were also other
characteristic experiences–at Poona on the Parvati hills
and then in Kashmir on the Shankeracharya hill,–a sense of
a great infinite Reality was felt. It was very
Then at Baroda Deshpande tried to
convert me to yoga; but I had the usual ideas about it–that
one has to go to the forest and give up everything. I was
interested in the freedom of the country. But I always
thought that the great figures of the world could not have
been after a chimera and if there was such a
why not use it for the freedom of
Barin used to do automatic writing
at Baroda. Once the spirit of my father appeared on being
called. He gave some remarkable prophecies. When asked to
give proof about his identity he mentioned the fact of
having given a golden watch to Barin–which none in the
company knew. And then he spoke of a picture in Devdhar’s
house. They tried to check up and found no picture there.
The spirit when told about it repeated it and asked us to
look again. On consulting the old mother of Devdhar she said
there was an old picture which had been now plastered
About Tilak, when questioned, the
spirit said: “He will be the man who will remain with the
head unbent when the work will be on trial and others will
bow.” Then we called Ramkrishna. He did not say anything.
Only at the end he said: “Mandir gado”–“build a temple”,
which we at that time interpreted as starting
Mandirs–temples–for political Sanyasis, but which I later
interpreted correctly as, “make a temple in yourself.” I
began Pranayama–breathing exercises–in about 1905.
Engineer Devdhar was a disciple of Brahmananda. I took
instructions from him on Pranayama and started on my own. I
practiced Pranayama at Khasirao Jadhav’s place in Baroda.
The results were remarkable: I used to see many visions,
sights and figures; (2) I felt a sort of electric power
round my head. (3) My powers of writing were nearly dried
up, after the practice of Pranayama, they revived with great
vigour. I could write both prose and poetry with a flow.
That flow never ceased since then. If I have not written
afterwards it is because I had something else to do. But the
I want to write, it is there. (4) My
improved,–I grew stout and strong
and the skin became smooth and fair and there was a flow of
sweetness in the saliva. I used to feel a certain aura round
the head. There were plenty of mosquitoes there but they did
not came to me.
I used to sit more and more in
Pranayama but there were no more results. It was at this
time that I gave up meat–diet and found a great feeling of
lightness and purification in the system. Meat is a Rajasic
food. Vivekananda recommends it to the Indians. It gives a
certain force and energy in the physical. It was for that
the Kshatriyas did not give up meat in India. From Tamas you
pass to Rajas and Vivekananda was not quite
There came a Sanyasi who gave me a
Stotra of Kali,–a very violent Stotra ending with “Jahi”
“Jahi”–“kill”, of securing Indian freedom. I used to repeat
it but it did not give any results.
Once I visited Ganganath (Chandod)
after Brahmananda’s death when Keshwananda was
With my Europeanized mind I had no
faith in image-worship and I hardly believed in the presence
of God. I went to Kernali where there are several temples.
There is one of Kali and when I looked at the image I saw
the living presence there. For the first time, I believed in
the presence of God.
At one time–in Sadhana–I used to
try all sorts of experiments to see what happens and how far
they are related to the truth. I took Bhang-Ganja-hemp-and
other intoxicants as I wanted to know what
and why Sanyasis and Sadhus take
these things. It made me go into trance, and sometimes sent
me to a superior plane of consciousness. (But reliance on
these outer stimulants was found to be the greatest drawback
of this method.)
I met Lele when I was searching for
some guidance and practicing meditation under his guidance.
I had the Nirvana experience in Sardar Majumdar’s house in
the room on the top-floor. After that I had to rely on inner
guidance for my Sadhana. In Alipore the Sadhana was very
fast–it was extravagant and exhilarating. On the vital
plane it can be dangerous and disastrous. I took to fasting
at Alipore for ten or eleven days and lost ten pounds in
weight. At Pondicherry the loss of weight was not so much,
thought the physical substance began to be reduced. It was
in Shanker Chetty’s house. I was walking eight hours a day
during twenty-three day’s fast. The miraculous or
extraordinary powers acquired by Yogis on the vital plane
are not all true in the physical. There are many pit-falls
in the vital. These vital powers take up even a man like
Hitler and make him do things by suggesting to him–“It
shall happen”. There are quite a number of cases of Sadhaks
who have lost their Sadhana by listening to these voices
from the vital-world. And the humour of it all is that they
all say that they come either from the Mother or from
6th January, 1939
Disciple: What are the methods in
Sadhana for removal of the ego? Sri Aurobindo: There are two
methods of effacement of the ego:
1. By realization of the spirit
above and of its nature of purity, knowledge etc.
2. By humility in the
Disciple: What is the
Sri Aurobindo: The second method
does not remove the ego but makes it harmless’ it would
therefore help one spiritually. Complete removal of the ego
takes place when one identifies oneself with the Spirit and
realizes the same Spirit in all. Also when the mental, vital
and physical nature is known to be derivative from the
Universal Mind, universal vital and the universal physical
then the same result ensues. The individual must realize his
divinity i.e. his identity with the Transcendent or the
Generally, when one realizes the
Spirit, it is the mental sense of the ego that goes, not the
entire ego-sense. The dynamic nature retains the
ego–especially the vital ego. So, the best thing would be
to combine the two–for the psychic attitude of humility
helps in getting rid of the
The complete dissolution of the ego
is not an easy thing. Specially important is the removal of
mental and vital ego, the other ego of the physical and of
the subconscient can be dealt with at leisure. That is to
say, they are not so absorbing.
As I said, humility helps in the
removal of the vital ego, but one must remember that it is
not outward humility.
There are many people who profess
and show the
utmost outward humility, but in
their hearts think: “I am the man!”
Disciple: “X” when he came for a
short day, he found that you lacked the virtue of humility
Sri Aurobindo: How does he know?
Perhaps I did not profess like some other people that I was
nothing. I could not do that because I know I am not
Disciple: Were you modest when you
have not taken to yoga?
Sri Aurobindo: There was a sort of
voluntary self-effacement, I liked to keep myself behind.
But I can’t say that I was more modest within than most
Disciple: Mahatmaji, when he finds
somebody in disagreement with him on principle, would say:
“He is superior to me, he is my elder, etc.; but I differ
Sri Aurobindo: Does he really
consider the other one superior, that is the question. When
I differed from some one I simply said ‘No’ or “I don’t
agree” and kept to my view. The answer given to Suren
Banerji when he approached me for a compromise at the
convention of Moderates and Nationalists, was “No” and I
kept stiff. Perhaps one may not call me modest.
At the Hugli Conference we, the
Nationalists, had the majority. But in order to keep up
Nationalists were asked by me not to
oppose the compromise resolution. The Nationalists all went
out. The Moderate leaders were very angry that the people
did not follow their tired and veteran old leaders and so
completely obeyed young leaders. Suren Banerji could not
difference between old, upper middle
class leadership, due to their influence and money and the
new leadership of those who stood for a principle and
commanded a following.
It was at that time that people
began to get the sense of discipline and of obeying the
leader’s orders. They were violent, but at the word of the
command they used to obey. That paved the way for the
Mahatma. Ashwini Kumar Dutt used to jump and say: “This is
Suren Banerji had a personal
magnetism and he was sweet-spoken, he could get round
anybody. His idea was to become the undisputed leader of
Bengal by using the nationalists for the sword and the
moderates for the public face. In private he would go up to
and accept the revolutionary movement. He even wanted to set
up a provincial board of control of the revolutionaries!
Barin once took a bomb to him and he was full of enthusiasm.
He even had a letter from Suren Banerji, when he was
arrested at Manik Tola. But in the court they hushed up the
matter as soon as Norton pronounced S. N.
The constitution of Aundh was
brought in by a disciple.
Disciple: Aundh State has given a
very fine constitution to the people. It has conferred wide
powers on the Panchayats. Such constructive work among the
villages would prevent communism. They are thinking of
introducing co-operative farming.
Sri Aurobindo: Co-operative farming
is an excellent thing; it would develop agriculture. But
dictatorship of the
proletariat is a different thing. It
may have a very fine constitution on paper, but it is quite
different in practice. In such a system all men are made to
Religion is a different affair, it
is voluntary; but country is quite different from the
church. You can’t choose your country. If you make all
people think alike there can’t be any human progress. If you
were to differ from Stalin or Lenin you would be
These dictators have remarkably few
ideas: Take for example Hitler. He believes that:
I. The Germans are the best people
in the world.
II.Hitler should be the
III. All the Jews are wicked
IV. All the people in the world must
I do not understand how humanity can
progress under such conditions.
Disciple: The tendency of all
governments is to increase taxes.
Sri Aurobindo: All governments are
robbing, some with legislation, some without. You can
imagine the condition in which you
have to give 50% of your income as taxes and have to manage
with the rest as best you can.
Disciple: The Customs also charge
Sri Aurobindo: It is another form of
robbery and yet in spite of it all, I don’t understand how
France produces only 250 aeroplanes as compared to 1000 of
I don’t know what these governments
do with huge sums they get. There is a sufficiently honest
administration in England. The public are uneasy about the
Smuggling there almost seems a
virtue, because it is robbing the robber! (Laughter) Even
some of the princes are caught smuggling.
Disciple: There is now a movement
for separating the C.P. Marathi-speaking and Hindi-speaking.
It has weakened the Congress.
Sri Aurobindo: Nagpur was a very
good centre of the Nationalists. The two portions–Marathi
and Hindi–should have been separated to begin
7th January, 1939
Disciple: Can the ego be removed by
the psychic attitude and by the realization of
Sri Aurobindo: Psychic humility
takes away the egoism but not the ego; removing of the ego
of the natural individuality is not the work of the psychic.
The psychic depends upon and maintains the natural
individuality. The psychic is there, so that the natural
individuality would turn to and progress towards the
Disciple: How is the ego
Sri Aurobindo: Ego is removed by the
realization of the Spirit; that is, by attaining to the
spiritual consciousness Above, which is independent of
Nature, which is self-existent. That Spirit is One in all.
Realization of that
removes the ego, because then one
identifies himself with the Spirit.
Disciple: What then replaces the “I”
in the divine individual? What is the nature of the psychic
Sri Aurobindo: In the case of
psychic individuality the man may feel the ego of the
Sadhu-the Saint-the Bhakta-the devotee, or the virtuous man.
He may also get rid of egoism by imposing on the nature one
Spirit and a feeling of sympathy for all humanity. But that
is not the same as getting rid entirely of the ego. The
psychic clears the way for the removal of the
Disciple: What happens when one
realizes the Spirit?
Sri Aurobindo: Generally, when one
realizes the Spirit, it is the mental sense of the ego that
abolished; but the vital and the
physical still retain their egoistic movements. That is what
Yogi’s mean when they say “It is
nature”. They mostly allow it to run its course and when the
body drops, it also drops; but, it is not transformation.
That is what Vivekananda meant when he said that “human
nature cannot be changed, that it was like a dog’s tail, you
can straighten it if you like, but as soon as you leave it,
it is curved again.”.
Disciple: What is really meant by
Sri Aurobindo: It means that the
subconsciousness has in it certain gathered powers which
impose themselves on the human being.
Disciple: How to transform or change
this human nature?
Sri Aurobindo: In order to change
human nature you have to work from level to level; you
reject a thing from
the mind, it comes to the vital.
When you reject it from the vital, then it comes to the
physical and then you find it in the
There is a central point in the
subconscient that has to be changed. If that is done, then
everything is done. It is from there that resistance rises
from Nature–that is what Vivekananda meant. To effect
complete transformation you have to bring down everything to
the subconcient, and it is very difficult.
Disciple: How can one replenish the
exhausted nervous being? Can it be done by drawing energy
from the Universal Vital or by the help of the Higher
Sri Aurobindo: Both ways can be
combined: One can draw from the Universal Vital and the
Higher Power can also work. But there should be no Tamas,
inertia, and other excuses.
Disciple: Was there a time when
these things were experienced?
Sri Aurobindo: When we were living
in the Guest-house, we passed through a brilliant period of
Sadhana in the vital. Many people had dazzling experiences
and great currents of energy were going round. If we had
stopped there–like other Yogis–we would have given rise to
a brilliant creation, or, would have established some kind
of religion; but that would not have been the real
Disciple: Could a great person in
the conquest of the physical being have been made at that
Sri Aurobindo: If the Sadhaks had
taken the right attitude, then with the gain in the vital it
would have been easy in the physical, in spite of
difficulties. But that was not
done. Then we came down to the
physical. Those brilliant experiences disappeared and the
slow difficult work of physical transformation remained.
There–in the physical–you find the truth of the Vedik
rik–censurers are always ready telling–“you can’t do the
thing, you are bound to fail”.
Disciple: Would it then mean that
the new people who would come to the yoga would have no
experience of the mental and the vital planes?
Sri Aurobindo: They can have, if
they hold aloof. Only, they can’t help the pressure on the
physical nature as it is in the atmosphere.
There are cases that differ: there
is some one X who made very good progress in the mind. In
another case the Sadhak became aloof and progressed; but the
moment he came to the vital, the whole thing seemed to have
Disciple: Did he lose the contact
with the Brahmic consciousness entirely?
Sri Aurobindo: No, it is only
apparently lost. But if he cannot go further, then his yoga
stops there, that is all.
Disciple: Can the new comers make
Sri Aurobindo: Certainly they can. I
know cases, where they go on very well making good
Disciple: Will the yoga be more easy
for the lucky new comers?
Sri Aurobindo: Yes, in a sense; but
the conditions may be more exacting, and the demands made on
them may be
high. You had an easy time. You were
left to do, more or less, as you liked in your mind, and the
vital and other parts. But when the change in the
subconscious has to come about, many will find it difficult;
there will be some who will progress and others who will not
and will drop out. Already some like X had dropped out, when
the Mother took a decision about his vital being-“you will
have to change”. Before that he was swimming in his art and
other things, but as soon as this came he dropped out. All
these things–attachments, sex-impulse etc.–finally find
refuge in the subconscient. One has to throw it out from
there–destruction of the seed in the subconscient is
necessary, otherwise it would sprout again, as we see in the
case of some Yogis.
Disciple: Can one have these things
in him when there is complete union with the
Sri Aurobindo: What is the “complete
union”? For instance, Ramakrishna asked the Divine Mother
not to send him “Kama”–sex-impulse–and he succeeded, but
all cases are not like that. It is quite possible to reject
something centrally and totally–that is to say,
completely–but one can’t make general rule about these
Our yoga is like a new path made out
in the jungle and there is no previous road in the region. I
had myself great difficulties; the suggestion that it was
not possible was always there. A vision which the Mother has
sustained me: the vision of a carriage moving towards the
highest peak on a steep hill. The higher summit is the
transformation of Nature by the attainment of the Higher
Disciple: Is there nothing that can
be taken as established informally in all the
Sri Aurobindo: In this yoga you have
to go on working out again and again the same thing. Thus it
becomes a long drawn out struggle, one falls and rises,
again falls. Take for instance, Nirvana, quietude and
samata. I had to go on establishing them again and again
till when I had done it in the
subconscient this accident came. It
can be a test. Disciple: What made the attack
Sri Aurobindo: There were gaps in
the physical. Disciple: Can one take this as a part of Lila
Sri Aurobindo: Well, it is the
ignorance and the Divine is working out from there. If that
was not so, what is the meaning of the life?
Everything looked all right and it
appeared as if I was going on well with the work, then the
accident came. It indicated that it is when the subconscient
is changed that the power of Truth can be embodied; then it
can be spread in wave after wave in humanity.
8th January, 1939.
Disciple: Can one way that snoring
is the protest of the subconscient against somebody’s
Sri Aurobindo: Against whom? against
whose presence when one snores alone! (Laughter)
Disciple: We read in the papers
about the conversion of John Middleton Murry to theism. It
was Hitler’s statement after the purage that he “embodies
justice and law”,
that, he dispenses with
“trials”–which made Murry consider him as the Anti-Christ.
It seems Gandhian non-violence has also appealed to Hitler.
He wants to become a village pastor and stop the flow of
villagers to the cities. Gandhi has written about Hitler’s
regime that the sufferings of Bishop Nicmuller are not in
vain. He has covered himself with glory. Hitler’s heart may
be harder than stone, but non-violence has power to generate
heat that can melt the stonier heart. What do you think of
Sri Aurobindo: I am afraid, it would
require quite a furnace! (Laughter) Gandhi has mainly to
deal with Englishmen and the English want to have their
conscience at ease. Besides, the Englishman wants to satisfy
his self-esteem and wants world-esteem. But if Gandhi had to
deal with the Russian Nihilists–not the Bolshevites–or the
German Nazis then they would have long ago put him out of
Disciple: Gandhi is hopeful about
the conversion of Hitler’s heart or about the German people
throwing him over.
Sri Aurobindo: Hitler would not have
been where he is if he had a soft heart. It is curious how
some of the most sentimental people are most cruel. Hitler,
for instance, is quite sentimental. He weeps over his
mother’s tomb and paints sentimental pictures.
Disciple: It is “the London cabman’s
psychic” as you said the other day.
Sri Aurobindo: Yes. Men like Hitler
can’t change, they have to be bumped out of existence: There
is no chance of their changing in this life. He can’t get
rid of his cruelty–it is his blood.
Not that the British can’t be brutal
and sentimental too. But they can’t persist as the Germans
and the Russians in their brutality. The Englishman may be
sentimental, but he likes to show off that he is practical,
prosaic and brave. In the Russian, you find a mixture of
cruelty and sentimentalism. He can break your neck and in
the next moment embrace you. The English man behaves quite
well, if you give him blows on his face when he treats you
Disciple: In Fiji islands there was
the case of a Punjabi from a good family, who went there as
an indentured labourer. An Englishman was his supervisor and
used to beat him every day, in spite of his doing the hard
One day the Punjabi got fed up and
caught hold of him and threw him on the ground and went on
giving him blows. Then the Englishman said “that will do!”
He got up and shook hands with him and the two became great
Disciple: There was the case of
Shamakant, the tiger-tamer, an athlete of Bengal. While he
was traveling some Tommis came and tried to show their
strength. He knocked them so well that they were extremely
glad to get out of the compartment at the next station. They
did not expect a Bengali to be so strong.
Another time the train at Howrah was
stopped, as there was a fight between an Englishman and a
Bengali. There was a cry of “Bande Mataram” and the whole
train came out.
Sri Aurobindo: That was the sudden
transformation during the Swadeshi days. Before that the
people used to
tremble before an Englishman in
Bengal. The position was even reversed.
I remember when I wanted to do
political work I visited Bengal and toured the districts of
Jessors, Khulna etc. We found that the people steeped in
pessimism, a black weight of darkness weighing over the
whole country. It is difficult now a days to imagine those
days. I was traveling with Deva Vrata Bose; he was living on
plantains and speaking to people. He had a very persuasive
way of talking. It was at Khulna, we had a right royal
reception, not so much because I was a politician, but
because I was a son of my father. They served me with seven
rows of dishes and I could hardly reach out to them, and
even from others I could eat very little.
My father was very popular at
Khulna; wherever he went he became all powerful. When he was
at Rangpur he was very friendly with the magistrate-there.
We went to his cousin’s place in England afterwards, the
Drewettes. It was always the doctor (i.e. K.D. Ghose) who
got things done at Rangpur. When the new magistrate came he
found that nothing could be done without Dr. K.D. Ghose. So
he asked the Government to remove him and he was transferred
to Khulna. It was since that time that he became a
politician. That is to say, he did not like the English
domination. Before that every thing Western was good! He
wanted, for example, all his sons to be great; at that time
to join the I.C.S. was to become great. He was extremely
generous. Hardly anyone who went to him for help came back
Disciple: Did you see him after
coming from England? Sri Aurobindo: I could not. In fact, I
was the cause of his
death. He was having heart-trouble
and the Grindleys sent a wire to him that I had started by a
certain steamer. In fact I had not; and that steamer was
sunk near Portugal and so when he heard the news he thought
that I was drowned and he died of that shock.
Disciple: But when you were in
England was he sending you money regularly?
Sri Aurobindo: In the beginning. But
afterwards he sent less and less and ultimately he stopped
altogether. I had my scholarship at Cambridge but that was
not enough to cover the fees and other expenses. So once the
tutor wrote to him about money. Then he sent the exact sum
for the fees and wrote a letter lecturing to me about
But it was not true; I and my eldest
brother at any rate, were living quite Spartan life. My
brother worked with Henry Cotton’s brother in the Liberal
association (Kensington) and used to get 50 shillings a
week. On that and little more we two managed to live. We had
bread and a piece of bacon in the morning; at night some
kind of pastry. For the winter we had not overcoat. After
one year like that to talk of extravagance was absurd. But
Mono Mohan could not stand it; he went out and lived in
boarding house and ate nicely without money.
There was a tailor at Cambridge who
used to tempt me with all sorts of clothes for suits and
make me buy them; of course, he gave credit. Then I went to
London. He somehow traced me there and found Mono Mohan and
canvassed orders from him (!) Mono Mohan went in for velvet
suits, not staring red but aesthetic and used to visit Oscar
Wilde in that suit.
Then we came away to India but the
tailor was not to be deprived of his dues! He wrote to the
Government of Bengal and to the Baroda State for recovering
sum from me and Mono Mohan.
I had paid up all my dues and kept
£4/–or so. I did not believe that I was bound to pay
it, since he always charged me double. But as the Maharajah
said, I had better pay it, I paid.
Disciple: Did Mono Mohan follow your
Sri Aurobindo: He was very proud of
our political career. He used to say: “There are two and a
half men in India–my brother Aurobindo and Barin–two and
half is Tilak!” (laughter)
Disciple: How was Mono Mohan in
Sri Aurobindo: He used to play the
poet: he had poetical illness and used to moan out his
verses in deep tones. Once we were passing through
Cumberland and it was getting dark. We shouted to him but he
paid no heed, and came afterwards leisurely at his own pace.
His poet-playing dropped after he came to India.
Disciple: How as the eldest
Sri Aurobindo: He was not at all
poetic or imaginative. He took after my father. He was very
practical but very easy to get on with. He had fits of
The question of Barin when he came
to Baroda and stayed for sometime was: How can I stay with
Khaserao or Madhave Rao for months and years without
10th January 1939.
Disciple: My friend “X” has begun to
give medicine to some of my patients. Sri Aurobindo: So, you
have your “Homeo-Allo” alliance or axis!
Talk on Homeopathy was going when
the Mother came.
Mother: Do you know about a school
of Homeopathy in Switzerland which is very famous in Europe?
It prepares medicines also. They have books in which
symptoms are grouped together and remedies are indicated for
a group of symptoms. It is a very convenient method; only,
you have to have the book; or good memory. But are you
allowed to practice Homeopathy without license?
Disciple: Oh, yes. No license is
required in India.
Disciple: But Dr. S was telling that
using great potencies might harm, or even kill the patient.
It is dangerous if everybody beings to practice it, they
Disciple: In Bengal it is practiced
Sri Aurobindo: Is Yunani medicine
practiced in India?
Disciple: Yes, in cities where there
is Mohammedian population, and in Muslim states. In Delhi
there is the Tibbi college founded by Hakim Ajmal Khan. It
seems, it is the only school of Unani medicine in the whole
of Asia. Students from Turkey, Egypt and Afghanistan used to
come there to learn. Ajmal Khan was the direct descendent of
the court Hakim to the Mogul Emperors. Where from is it
Sri Aurobindo: It is from the Greek
school. They use animal products and salts. Besides curing
which is common to all the systems the Unani lays claim to
rejuvenate the human system. Many diseases which require
operation for their cure in Allopathy are cured by Unani and
Ayurvedic medicines without operation.
There were many specific cures known
in India but I am afraid they are getting lost. I remember
the case of Jyotindra Nath Banerji who had a remedy for
sterility from a Sannyasi and he used it with success. Many
cases of barrenness for ten or fifteen years were cured
within a short time. The direction for taking the medicine
were very scrupulously to be observed. He knew a remedy for
Mother: Do you know about the
Chinese medicine? Once they had a rule that you paid the
doctor so long as you were well. All payment stopped when
one became ill, and if the patient died they used to put a
mark on the doctor’s door to show that his patient had
But the Chinese method of pricking
the nerve and curing the disease is very remarkable. The
idea is that there is a point of nerve where the attack of
the disease is concentrated and if you prick the point, or
the Devil, on the head, the disease is cured. They find out
this nervous point from the indications that the patient
gives, or sometimes they find out by themselves
Disciple: I do not think that any
system of medicine can succeed in curing all diseases. I
that only yogic power can cure all
Disciple: Even that is not
unconditional; otherwise, it might be very nice. There are
conditions to be fulfilled for the yogic power to
Sri Aurobindo: Do you expect that
the yogic power, or consciousness will simply say “Let there
be no disease and there will be no disease”?
Disciple: Not that way. But cases of
miraculous cures are known, that is, cures effected without
Sri Aurobindo: That is another
matter. Otherwise, the Yogi has to get up every morning and
say “Let everybody in the world be all right” and there
would be no disease in the world! (Laughter)
12th January 1939
There was a controversy about a
child who was underage and had an intense aspiration to
remain in the Ashram, i.e. to be under Mother’s protection
and guidance. But being under the guardianship of her
parents the child could not carry out her inner wish.
Ultimately the parents, particularly the mother, took the
Some Evening-Talks refer to this
Sri Aurobindo: She–the child–has
developed character and intelligence quite beyond her age.
When she wrote to us she used to cast reflections on the
world and on people that was even beyond a grown up woman.
She is remarkable for her age.
The mother has found it difficult to
bend her. It is true, the mother does not love her. It is an
accident that she is born in that family; she is quite
unlike her parents. Besides, she has found out that the
mother used to manage her by lying.
Disciple: They say that the child is
very happy outside.
Sri Aurobindo: But she wrote to us
that she is never happy outside!
Disciple: In the papers we find that
Stalin has made allegations against Trotsky; can there be
any truth in them?
Sri Aurobindo: Not
Disciple: But the confessions of the
generals were dramatic.
Sri Aurobindo: That they did to save
Disciple: A Japanese general
predicts a hundred year war to civilize the
Sri Aurobindo: The idea is first to
drive out the European from Asia, but the Japanese will go
about it silently without bragging.
Disciple: Will Indian freedom come
long time after?
Sri Aurobindo: Not necessarily; it
will not come by arms but without arms. Disciple:
Sri Aurobindo: There is a prophesy
among the Sannyasis and also Lele used to tell us that there
is no chance of freedom by fighting.
Disciple: Italy or Japan can come to
Sri Aurobindo: That is not so easy.
Naval equipment is not enough; without a strong army it is
very difficult to conquer India.
Disciple: Congress ministers are
trying to introduce military training in U.P., C.P., and
Bombay. But Sir Sikander
Hayat in the Panjab is counting the
distinction between martial and non-martial
Sri Aurobindo: That was introduced
by the British to keep down India by depriving her of
military races except the Pathans, Gurkhas, Panjabees etc.
But every part of India had its empire in the past. The
whole of India can have military equipment and training in a
Disciple: The problem is of the
Sri Aurobindo: They also want
independence; only they want” “Mohammedan
Disciple: Spain in Europe seems to
be like India. But if France gets Spain it would be
difficult for England.
Sri Aurobindo: It will be worse for
France; by the spring the intentions of the Axis powers will
Disciple: But why France depends so
much upon England?
Sri Aurobindo: Because she has no
Disciple: It is the short-sighted
policy of the Allies, that has given chance to
Sri Aurobindo: No, it is England
that got afraid of France ascendancy on the continent and
encouraged and pressed Germany into power. She wants to
maintain the balance of power. Hitler aims at
France always wants to placate
Italy; but England came in the way with “sanctions”. They
could not save Abyssinia and made an enemy of
Disciple: The cry of Tunis was to
divert the attention from Spain.
Sri Aurobindo: I don’t think Blum’s
Socialist government is for non-intervention. The Socialist
in France did nothing when they were in power.
Disciple: Perhaps Russia can render
Sri Aurobindo: Russia is too far and
I don’t know if it is trustworthy. Disciple: But the
newspapers report that America is preparing
Sri Aurobindo: Yes, perhaps
Roosevelt has secret news about the intentions of Nazis. It
is not a question of meddling in European politics, but of
being eaten last! (Laughter) There are at least some people
in America who understand this thing.
13th January 1939.
The Mother was present when X put
the following question to her. Disciple: Mother, is it a sin
to kill bugs, mosquitoes, scorpions etc.?
“Ask Sri Aurobindo”; The Mother
replied smiling. “When I came here I used to drive them away
by yogic force. Sri Aurobindo did not approve of
Sri Aurobindo: Because one is making
friendship with the in that way. What is the sin? If you
don’t kill them they will go and bite some other people and
won’t it be a sin to you?
Disciple: But they have life, Sir?
Sri Aurobindo: Yes, they have. 119
Disciple: And, if one kills
Sri Aurobindo: Well, what
Disciple: He will be liable to sin
of course. I don’t mean we don’t kill at all, for instance,
we are breathing microbes.
Mother: The doctors don’t
Disciple: Yes Mother. But I mean
their killing is not intentional. Disciple: It is said that
the Jains hire people to feed bugs! Disciple: No. That is
only a story.
Sri Aurobindo: At any rate, I know
of a story in history. When Mahmed of Gazni invaded (West)
India he defeated a Jain king through the help of his
brother. The dethroned king was left in charge of his
brother, who was now the king. He did not know what to do
with his brother; so, he dug a pit below his throne and
threw him in it and closed it up. As a result he died: so
that his brother did not kill him! (laughter)
Mother: Then, in order to be true
Jain, one must be a yogi and then with yogic power he can
deal with these animals and insects?
Disciple: Is one justified in
killing snakes and scorpions?
Sri Aurobindo: Why not? One must
kill in self-defense. I don’t mean that you must hunt out
the snakes and kill them. But when you see that they are
endangering your or other lives, then you have every right
to kill them.
Mother: The plants have also life.
So, you mean to say
that mosquito is more precious then
rose? You don’t know perhaps how the plants feel. Disciple:
There are people who say that killing a dog or a cat is not
so sinful as killing a man.
Sri Aurobindo: Life is life–whether
in a cat, or dog or man. There is no difference in that
between cat or man. The idea of difference is a human
conception for man’s own advantage perhaps.
14th January 1939
The topic of Homeopathy came up. It
was said that it has cures for religious depression and
Disciple: Anger, the scientists say,
is due to the reaction of glands. But can “egoism” be cured
Disciple: If it can be cured, I
would be the first to apply for it.
Disciple: “The fact you are
conscious about the “ego” makes half the cure–is it not?”
he said turning to Sri Aurobindo.
Sri Aurobindo: Not necessarily. But
it is the first step. Disciple: And what is the
Sri Aurobindo: To detach oneself
from all these things; to think as if all these things
belong to the other being, or some one else. As one goes on
doing this the Purusha gradually withdraws its sanction from
the Prakriti and
the Prakriti looses its hold over
nature till a spiritual control takes place. But if one
associates oneself with Nature, Prakriti, then the Purusha
becomes slave to it. Rejection, of course, is the stronger
way. One has to reject these things before they enter, as I
did the thoughts. It is more powerful and the result also is
There is also a mental control; but
there too it is the nature of Mind trying to control the
nature of the Vital. It has only a temporary and partial
control. The thing is rather suppressed within and can come
out at any opportunity.
I heard of a Yogi in Benares bathing
in one of the Ghats. In the neighbouring ghat a Kashmiri
woman came to bathe. As soon as he saw her he fell upon her
and tried to outrage her. That is evidently a case of mental
control. But by Sadhana–yogic effort–sometimes things
which have not been there come up. I have heard about it
from many persons.
In my case, I saw anger coming up
and possessing me. It was absolutely uncontrollable when it
came. I was very much surprised as to my nature. Anger has
always been foreign to me.
At another time while I was a
undertrial prisoner at Alipore jail, a terrible catastrophe
was avoided. Prisoners had to wait outside for sometime
before entering the cells. As we were waiting a Scotch
Warder came and gave me a push. The young men around me
became very excited, and I did nothing but gave him such a
look that he immediately fled and called the jailer. It was
a communicative anger and all the young men rallied round to
attack him. When the jailer, who was rather a religious man
arrived, the Warder said, I had given him
a “subordinate look”. The jailer
asked me and I told him that I have never been used to such
treatment. The jailer pacified the whole group and said
while going, “we have all to bear our cross.”
Disciple: Is Rudra Bhava something
like Ramakrishna’s story about the snake, where anger is to
be shown without really feeling it.
Sri Aurobindo: Not at all. It is
something genuine, a violent severity against something very
wrong. e.g. the Rudra Bhava of Shiva. Anger one knows by its
feeling of sensations, it rises from below, while Rudra
Bhava rises from the heart. I will give you an instance.
Once X became very violent against the Mother and was
shouting and showing his fists. As I heard the shouting, a
violent severity came down, that was absolutely
uncontrollable. I went out and said: “Who is shouting at the
Mother? Who is shouting here?” As soon as he heard it he
became very quiet.
Disciple: I heard X had a very
Sri Aurobindo: Yes, he was otherwise
an earnest Sadhaka, became conscious of many things and made
progress. But these fits used to come to him now and then.
Some Asuric forces used to catch hold of him and he could
not control himself. It is these forces that have failed him
in the yoga, for I hear he does not have these attacks now
outside. When under the grip he could not see that he was in
the wrong. He blamed me and the Mother, though we had been
very lenient and considerate to him. After sometime he was
able to recognize his faults, admit it and promise that he
would not do it again. But again he would be swept away by
the forces. Sometimes his vanity and self-respect would come
the way of his admitting the fault
immediately. That is the mistake. One must not justify one’s
wrong. If one does that, it comes again and makes it more
difficult to get rid of it.
Disciple: ‘Y’ after doing so much
Tapasya is thinking of leaving the Ashram and that too after
twelve years of stay.
Sri Aurobindo: What Tapasya? If
complete control was given to him he would have stayed
Disciple: He says, he is helping the
Sri Aurobindo: Helping only? I
thought he was conducting the Ashram? (Laughter)
Disciple: but these kinds of
people–will they ever realize the Divine?
Sri Aurobindo: Everyone will arrive
at the Divine. ‘A.’ once asked the Mother if he will realize
God. The Mother replied that he will, unless he did
something idiotic and cut short the life, and that is what
he has done.
15th January, 1939
Sri Aurobindo opened the topic by
referring to a letter from an American.
Sri Aurobindo: There is a job which
perhaps “X:” would like to attend to. The letter is
addressed to Sri Aurobindo Ashram under the belief that it
is a person. The man wants sporting items, and
“predictions”. He says:
As you are a Yogi you “can go into
trance” and we will share the profits!! Let me know your
terms. Then he says: “If you don’t want to take the money,
you can give it to the poor! (turning to X.). You can go
into trance or send “Y” into it. I will be a hard
I have no objections to sharing
profits, only we share in profits not in loss!! Besides, we
class ourselves among the poor, so we won’t have to find
All sorts of half-crazy people are
writing to us from every where, from Germany, America etc. I
wonder how they manage to get the address.
Disciple: It must be from the
magazine in which A wrote an article giving his Ashram
address from which he thought “Aurobindo Ashram” was a man!
In that case, A must take up the matter and reply to this
Disciple: I am afraid, we won’t get
anything in spite of the proposal to share profits. In
Gujarat there was–I believe even now is–a small group of
seekers under the guidance of late Narsimhacharya who got an
offer from American promising fabulous returns from small
investments. The followers were all taken in, Lakhs of
rupees were sent and nothing was heard
Disciple: On the other hand some
Indian Sannyasis are making good business in America. One of
them has modernized yoga; his method is a combination of
business and yoga, “sets of lectures and courses of
Sri Aurobindo: “R” was telling “M”
that if he went to America he would be a great success. I
think “R” was right. Some of these people have the character
of a charlatan.
Disciple: But coming to his
question: is it possible to predict sport items and cotton
prices and share-fluctuations?
Disciple: I knew an astrologer who
impressed my cousin very much and when he acted under his
guidance his predictions did not at all come
Sri Aurobindo: But I had a
remarkable experience at Baroda, not of an astrologer but of
one who knew thought-reading. His predictions as an
astrologer were all wrong. The manager of my house,
Chhotalal, took me to this man and asked me to have some
questions in my mind.
As we entered his room he told me
all the four questions that were in my mind; and the curious
thing is that three questions were clearly formulated in my
mind, but the fourth one had escaped me; but he caught that
also; it was remarkable.
Disciple: Is anything being done to
get some of your books published in America?
Sri Aurobindo: No. Besides, I don’t
know if the Americans are interested in profound questions.
Swami Nikhilananda, I heard, wrote an article about me which
Miss Wilson Nishta says, was profound. The editor of the
paper returned it saying, “it won’t interest the Americans,”
and he had to change it and made it what it is.
Disciple: But the Americans are open
to new ideas.
Sri Aurobindo: Yes. If they would
not want sensation and change the openness to new ideas
would be very great advantage. As it is all one can say is
that there are more people in America interested in these
things than in
Europe, though in Europe also the
number of people who are interested in these things is
increasing now a days.
Disciple: One Thompson, graduate
from Oxford, according to his own statement, came to the
gate and I had some humourous exchange of sentences with
him. He was very queer.
Sri Aurobindo: It must be he, who
recently sent me a long letter on philosophy. I don’t think,
he himself was clear about what he wrote. What was your
exchange with him like?
Disciple: I was just going out when
the Sadhak at the gate-duty asked me to help him to
understand this new arrival, Thompson. I asked him: May I
know your name, please? He: “Name! I have no name”. “Apart
from philosophical considerations about the reality or
unreality of it, a name is a necessity in this
unphilosophical world” I said. He: “You can call me anything
you like–it matters very little to me”. I: “It is not a
question of my calling you anything. Unfortunately there is
the Police Department which will demand a passport with a
name, and that matters.”
Sri Aurobindo: Then what did he
Disciple: At last he said his name
was Thompson.” (laughter)
Disciple: I remember a difficult
question: “Is it in keeping with yoga to get oneself
Sri Aurobindo: Thakur Dayananda
would say “no”. He was always depending on God and did not
believe in storing things. If you don’t get anything, it
means, God wants
you to starve. The whole group used
to sing and dance, there was an excited expression of their
Sadhana, some kind of vital demonstration.
Later on he complained that the
disciples were drawing out his vital forces.
They had the faith that nothing
could happen to them; when the police came to arrest them
they were all singing and dancing. Seeing them in exaltation
the police went away. They thought that they were
invincible. The Government sent soldiers to arrest them.
Then their faith was shaken. One of the prominent disciples,
Mohindra De also lost his faith, though he was the victim of
his own enthusiasm.
Disciple: How can the vital forces
of oneself be drawn out when one is in contact with the
Sri Aurobindo: The force that
supports the work, the vital force, is different from the
Disciple: Do you remember one
Kulkarni who came and was complaining that his vital force
was being drawn out?
Sri Aurobindo: Yes. He was
surrounding by forces of disintegration, chaos, disaster and
death. And he was unconsciously throwing it out.
Disciple: One of us then told you
that Kulkarni had strength and intensity. Then you had said
something remarkable: “You call it strength? It is some wild
intensity of weakness–not strength!”
Sri Aurobindo: Intensity with
solidity pays; but without support below, it does not lead
to anything. ‘B’ was like that and so was ‘J.’
Disciple: But B did brilliant
Sri Aurobindo: Yes. What he did was
brilliant but slight, there was nothing below to support,
the intensity had no body, so to say. He went because of his
ambition, he wanted to be right-hand man. Mother put a
divine entity into him; it left him when he left the place.
He has failed all through.
Disciple: But he was a good
lieutenant in the old days.
Sri Aurobindo: There are some people
who are good as lieutenants, but by themselves they are
nothing. ‘B’ is like that. I supported him but he used to
leave one thing and go in for another. He spoiled his career
through his own fault.
Disciple: Some people say that now
he speaks unfavourably about the Ashram.
Sri Aurobindo: We know that. To ‘M’
who was coming here he said: “he has caught you by his
philosophy” meaning me.
But the Mother knows these things
even without any reports from outside.
Disciple: Our friend D who has the
“eternal doubter” in him met Upen Banerjee at Calcutta and
asked Upen whether he believes in God.
Sri Aurobindo: What did Upen
Disciple: He said: “How can I say I
don’t believe in God when I know Sri Aurobindo? I have a
measuring rod for men and I can measure them all right; but
in Sri Aurobindo’s case I cannot measure him. In case of
great people they reach a certain
point in their growth and then they stop, whereas in his
case he is always going on further and further.
Sri Aurobindo: (smiled) I see. Upen
also has intensity; he had agnosticism and faith. It is that
which makes his writing brilliant. But he could never
understand the “Arya”. Why, Rishikesh (Kanjilal) also was
one in whom doubt could never get the better of faith and
faith could not of doubt! (Laughter) He always wanted to fix
himself to some anchor,–he could not give up seeking, nor
pursue steadily and find an anchor. “The movement will not
grow” he used to say. (after pause) The revolutionaries were
quite an interesting lot and though not fit for yoga, one
could not feel dull in their company.
Disciple: “K” was enthusiastic about
Sri Aurobindo: He was. But he was
not able to stand the trial of yoga. I don’t think he had
the capacity to do the yoga; he had too tall an idea about
himself, and he is crude. And as to ‘Kh’ I wonder how he
could ever have done the yoga.
16th January 1939.
There was a humourous sequel to a
telegram requesting for “ashes”. It was a puzzle for some
time and after some effort the word “ashisha”, meaning
“blessing” was rightly understood.
Disciple: I do not understand why he
is asking for “ashes”.
Sri Aurobindo: I don’t understand
either. When I used to smoke I could have sent at least the
cigar ashes. But now I do not smoke?
Disciple: But we are burning here
the mosquito-coils. The ashes of the coils can be sent.
Disciple: But I think he is asking
for Blessings–the post office in receiving the Sanskrit
word Ashisha seems to have turned it into “ashes”!
Disciple: I read a paper written by
Prof. Somesh Bose, a mathematician, in which he mentions
that Bholagiri, a Sadhu had meditation with his wife who was
dead. He says that he saw them both, his dead wife present
“in flesh and blood”. The question is: Is it possible? Also,
whether Bholanath materialized his wife or she did it
herself? Somesh says, she was everyday present at the prayer
time. Can she remain like that in her materialized body
almost all the time? Does she live with Bholagiri all the
time, or does she come and go? What will materialists
Disciple: They will say, it is all
humbug. (turning to Sri Aurobindo) But what does yoga
Sri Aurobindo: “Many possibilities”.
This seems to be a case of temporary materializing, as
Bholagiri is present every time. I believe, there is always
a difference between material body and a materialized body.
This kind of materializing commonly takes place immediately
after a man dies. You find that he visits either a relation
or a friend. If the fact of his death is not known or if the
man is not known to be living far away, people mistake it
for an actual physical presence.
There are many authentic cases of
this kind. My poetic brother Mono Mohan’s friend Stephen
Philips said that his mother had visited him after her
death. Mono Mohan told me the story, ascribing the
experience to telepathic communication of the form. But I
think it is not mere communication of form or cast by the
mind only. There is the vital and the physical part which
Disciple: You have already cited the
other day the case of Lord Strethmore. But is it possible to
Sri Aurobindo: Theoretically, it
should be possible, though I have known no case of the same.
After the experience we had of the stone-throwing in the
Guest-house here, I believe, if the stones could be
materialized, why not a human being?
Disciple: The Egyptians preserved
the human body after death, with the belief that the soul
would return to it after some years. Paul Brunton claims to
have met some spirit hoary with age on the hill near the
Sri Aurobindo: The Egyptians
believed that at the time of death the Ka, the vital being,
went out of the man and after a thousand years, if the body
was preserved, it would return to it. Brunton, I suppose,
materialized the belief.
Disciple: Is it possible to
revitalize the dead? Sri Aurobindo: I can’t say.
Disciple: There is a reported case
of a Bey whom Brunton met and who revived a sparrow after it
was dead. Brunton says that he saw the same phenomenon
med by Vishuddhananda, “Gandhi
Swamy” as he was called. Is it possible?
Sri Aurobindo: That is possible.
Just as you can revive a drowned man by pulling his physical
organs into function again, that is, by resorting to
physical devices life can be restored. If you know how to
reintroduce the power that sets the organs to action, after
the body is wounded or dead, you can revive the
The real question is whether it is
the being of the man that comes back to life, or it is some
other spirit that wants to live and gets hold of the body.
Both are possible, because revival is done in two ways: One,
is to bring back the spirit of the man which is still not
far away, the other is to get some other spirit that
consents to come.
Disciple: Can the vital-being be
called back to the body?
Sri Aurobindo: Yes, if it has not
gone away very far it can be pulled back to the body. (The
subject was changed)
Disciple: There is chance of “C”
Disciple: He has been coming for a
Disciple: He is coming after
organizing his property.
Sri Aurobindo: Is he still
organizing his property? Has he much property left?
Disciple: I am afraid he has lost everything.
Sri Aurobindo: He is a phenomenon!
Do you remember
the name of the person who
apologized to us? I wonder whether he offered the apology
because his public attack did not succeed.
Disciple: Yes. He seemed to have
gathered all sorts of false facts from all kinds of people.
Disciple: Did you read his book?
Sri Aurobindo: I simply glanced at
it! I don’t think he sold more than half a dozen copies.
(after a pause) It seems “M” has expressed sorrow for what
she did here and explained that she acted under the
influence of S and B.
Disciple: The attack by “R” was not
of any allegations. His objection was that the Ashram was
not doing what he calls public work.
Sri Aurobindo: What work?
Disciple: Say country’s work, work
Sri Aurobindo: It is quite a new
objection. Nobody expects an Ashram, a spiritual
institution, to do work!
Disciple: The Ramkrishna Mission,
Gandhi’s Ashram and some other institutions do some public
work and so people expect an Ashram to work for
Sri Aurobindo: Perhaps, because I
did political work they expect that I should continue doing
it all my life.
Disciple: Not only that, the
objection is that so many young men are being drawn away
from the field of work.
Sri Aurobindo: Oh, I see.
Disciple: But Gandhi’s Ashram is not
a spiritual institution. It is a group of people gathered to
be trained to do some work on Mahatma’s principles and
methods. One can say that service to the public is one of
But Subhas wrote against the Ashram
recently on the ground that it was attracting away some of
the best people from country’s work.
Disciple: I don’t remember if he
wrote “best” or “good” for those who came here. He quoted
the example of D.
Sri Aurobindo: But D was not doing
Disciple: Subha’s idea was that D
may not do political work now. But when the time came he
must be prepared to give up everything and join the
Sri Aurobindo: I see, one can’t give
up everything for God!
Disciple: But suppose one gives up
everything for country’s freedom, then what is he to do
afterwards, except perhaps going to jail.
Sri Aurobindo: D in jail! Perhaps he
would write off some stories about his agony. Disciple:
That, perhaps, would be a gain to literature, not to
Sri Aurobindo: At the time of the
Gandhi movement some one asked Abanindranath Tagore, why he
was not giving up his painting for the sake of the country
and take to politics. He said: I believe, I serve the
country through my painting in which I have some capacity,
least, is something I know; whereas
I would be only a bad politician.
Disciple: Tagore narrowly escaped
the Charkha. But it seems Nandlal Bose is turning
Sri Aurobindo: He is a man of
ascetic temperament. There was an enthusiast who even wrote
an article showing that the Chakra referred to in the Gita
was the Charkha!
Disciple: It was Vinoba Bhave, a
disciple of Mahatma.
The topic changed to Baroda. Dr. M.
mentioned that now the old race course is covered by fine
buildings constructed by co-operative Societies and that
doctor Balabhai was still alive staying in one of the new
buildings. He is nearly eighty-five.
Sri Aurobindo: (After a pause) The
mention of Baroda brought to my mind the connection with the
Gaekwad. It is strange how things arrange themselves at
times. I had failed in the I. C. S. and was looking for a
job. Exactly at the time the Gaekwad happened to be in
London. I don’t remember whether he called us, or we met
him, but an elderly gentleman, whom we consulted, was quite
willing to propose Rs. 200/- per month as a good sum. It
would be more than £10/- and it is surprising that he
thought it was very good!
But I left the negotiations to my
elder brother and James Cotton. I knew nothing about life at
Disciple: What were the expenses in
Sri Aurobindo: Before the war, it
was quite decent living for £5/-. Our landlady was an
angel. She came from
Somerset and had settled in
London–perhaps after she was widowed. She was long
suffering and never asked us for money even if we did not
pay for months and months. I wonder how she managed. I paid
her from my I. C. S. stipend.
It was father’s fault that I failed
in the riding test. He did not send money and the riding
lessons at Cambridge then were rather costly. The teacher
was also careless; so long as he got his money he simply
left me with the horse and I was not particular.
I tried riding again at Baroda with
Madhav Rao but it was not successful.
My failure was a great
disappointment to my father because he had arranged
everything for me through Sir Henry Cotton. A post was kept
for me in the district of Arah which is considered a fine
place. All that came down like a wall. (pause)
I wonder what would have happened to
me if I had joined the civil service. I think, they would
have chucked me for laziness and arrears of work!
Disciple: Do you remember Nana Saheb
Sinde of Baroda?
Sri Aurobindo: Yes, Madhav Rao
Jadhav, myself and Nana Saheb all of us held revolutionary
ideas at that time.
Disciple: He has spoken to the youth
conference emphasizing the need of military training for the
defense of the country. His speech was against the current
vogue of non-violence.
Sri Aurobindo: It is good that some
one raises voice like
that when efforts are being made to
make non-violence the method of solving all
Disciple: But the insistence on
non-violence has succeeded in disarming the Pathan of the
Frontier. It seems, Gandhi objected to armed volunteers
keeping guard over him while he was in the Frontier
Sri Aurobindo: And what were they
expected to do in case there was an attack? Stand simply?
Disciple: No. They should die resisting.
Sri Aurobindo: This non-violent
resistance I have never been able to fathom. I can
understand an attitude of absolute non-resistance to Evil,
as the Christians say “Resist not the Evil”. You may die
without resisting and accept the consequences as sent by
God. But to resist passively seems to me meaningless. And to
change the opponent’s heart by such passive resistance is
something I don’t
Disciple: And the “Modern Review”
put in another objection which is worth considering. The
article accepts that non-violence may be a good gospel for a
great Saint but for the ordinary man to allow evil to
triumph so easily–by passive resistance–would not be good
for the society. There is no reason to hope that the goonda
will change his mind, or heart, if you allow him to kill
Sri Aurobindo: I am afraid,
non-violence is being applied to other fields whereas its
extreme application is meant for spiritual life.
Non-violence or Ahinsa as a spiritual attitude and its
practice is perfectly understandable and has a standing. You
may not accept it in toto but it
has a basis in the Reality. You can
live it in spiritual life but to try to apply to all life
much. Such an application ignores
the great principle of Adhikar,–qualification even as the
Europeans do. Also it makes no provision for difference of
Disciple: Mahatma’s point is that in
either case, whether with arms or without, you are prepared
to die. Then, why not try to die without arms, since
armaments are piling up in all nations and there is no end
to where it will lead. In the other case you perpetuate
passive-resistance while in fighting you perpetuate
Sri Aurobindo: If you bring in the
question of expense then the reasons for non-violence, we
must admit, are economic and not ethical. (after a
It is a principle which can be
applied with success if practiced on a mass scale, specially
by unarmed people like the Indians, because you are left
with no other choice. But even when it succeeds it is not
that you have changed the heart of the enemy, but that you
have made it impossible for him to rule. That is what
happened in Ireland. There was in Ireland armed resistance
also but that would not have succeeded without the passive
resistance side by side. Such tremendous generalizations
like “passive resistance for all”, “Charkha for all”,
“celibacy for all” hardly work.