Conversations with Sri Aurobindo recorded by Anilbaran Roy, Part 2

Dear Friends,

Apropos of the interviews of Anilbaran Roy (1890—1974) with Sri Aurobindo which were published in the online forum of Overman Foundation, we are publishing the conversations of Sri Aurobindo recorded by Anilbaran during his stay in Pondicherry from May to September 1926. The entire set of conversations—which was originally published in the Sri Aurobindo Circle from 1977 to 1986—has been divided into four parts—each part denoting the conversations of a particular month, that is, May-June, July, August and September.

We are thankful to Shri Debranjan Chatterjee, Librarian of Sri Aurobindo Ashram Library and Shri Raman Reddy of Sri Aurobindo Ashram Archives and Research Department for helping us to collect these conversations.

In the second part of the series, Sri Aurobindo’s conversations of July 1926 are published.

With warm regards,

Anurag Banerjee

Founder,

Overman Foundation.

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anilbaran

1 July 1926 (Evening)

Disciple: What is to be done with the existing national [educational] institutions which are struggling for existence?

Sri Aurobindo: If the workers have heart in the work and enthusiasm and if they can manage financially, let them go on, no matter if the number of students be very small. Generally the education in these institutions is only a repetition of what is done in official institutions — as the teachers have had no other education. The present system of education is rotten — it takes no account of the individuality of the students but thrusts upon them the routine work mechanically prepared by the authorities. This system represses and kills the best things in the students. Those who have exceptional merits can rise through all these resistance — but their number is small. Even they become much worse than they would have been under the proper system.

People require education only for a living and nothing else — hence they patronize institutions which are gateways to the services and professions. Again, to start national institutions for proper education you require sufficient financial resources. Under these circumstances it is not advisable to start national institutions at present.

But those who have begun an institution and have enthusiasm and resources, let them continue. They should keep three things before their mind:

(a) They should see that the students understand and not memorize.

(b) They should see that the students are teaching themselves and not the teachers are teaching them.

(c) They should be able to create interest in the students.

If these fundamental principles are followed a good beginning will be made. In Western countries they are carrying on all sorts of experiments to achieve these things. There is life there. In our country there is no life, hence no creation is possible.

Disciple: How can life be imparted to our people?

Sri Aurobindo: Just by yourself having life. Life gives life.

Disciple: The non-cooperation movement gave some life to the country?

Sri Aurobindo: Do you call that life? It was based on falsehood — how could you expect it to create anything? It was sought to establish Swaraj by spinning — could anything come from such a false ideal? Some life was given to the country during the Swadeshi days in Bengal. You ought to have seen what this Bengal was before the Swadeshi movement to understand what it has accomplished. At that time we gave forms and ideals which have since degenerated. Mahatma Gandhi took up these forms and distorted them. Mahatma Gandhi has a sort of force — by exerting it he advances to a certain extent but in reaction he goes back much farther. We ought to give some mantras to the people and let them work these out in their own way without putting all sorts of restraints on their activity. In the Swadeshi days the Vande Mataram acted as a real mantra.

The Satyagraha movement is only meant for Gandhi and a few men like him — it ought not to be thrust upon a whole people.

People talk of village organization — let them first bring life to the villages and they will organize themselves.

Disciple: The only life the villagers now have manifests in quarrelling with each other.

Sri Aurobindo: That is not life but absence of life.

Disciple: They show great energy and activity in petty quarrels.

Sri Aurobindo: That is energy disintegrated.

                                                               *

Disciple: Is it any good to have universal general education?

Sri Aurobindo: That depends on your standpoint. If you want a nation in the modern sense then there should be general education so that all people may act together for a common purpose. But for the development of the individual the present kind of general education does more harm than good.

In India the students generally have great capacities but the system of education represses and destroys them. The arrangement of the class room — the students must sit there for so many hours and pore over their books — all this is very injurious. What is needed is an atmosphere — a general atmosphere of learning; the student should imbibe that, find out his own aptitude and develop in that line. They should be taught reading and writing generally and then left to themselves to teach themselves.

Under a proper system of education I suggest, both the needs — the need of the individual and the need of the nation — can be reconciled. I do not say that such a system is now practicable — but that is the future education of the race if it is to make any real progress. The teacher must see that the student is not only learning things but that his intelligence is developing — all his powers are developing. If you can make them truly develop their capacities — their life — they will be able to make a place for themselves in the world.

                                                              *

Sri Aurobindo: Your national workers should now try to create life in the villages.

                                                               *

3 July 1926 (Evening)

Disciple: What is the place of the sentiments of duty towards one’s father, wife and so forth in Yogic life?

Sri Aurobindo: It is well known that these have no place in Yogic life.

Disciple: Is it a sign of fitness for Yoga, that the circumstances become favourable, e.g., the parents give permission?

Sri Aurobindo: The fitness does not depend on anything external — it depends on the inner call of the soul.

Disciple: Is it a sufficient basis for Yoga that one feels a certain peace of mind?

Sri Aurobindo: Mere peace is not sufficient — there must be some opening in the ādhāra for the higher power to work. To begin with, the mind is to be opened to the higher power and allotted to be changed.

Disciple: The delight of the heart, e.g., love or bhakti depending on some external object — can this delight be enjoyed before the purer delight of the soul comes?

Sri Aurobindo: Emotional delight is always dangerous — it is better to wait for the other.

                                                              *

Disciple: Is Yogic life compatible with political work?

Sri Aurobindo: At the beginning it is compatible — I myself did practise Yoga when I was doing political work. But politics as it is being carried on now-a-days is too low to be consistent with Yogic life…

Disciple: Cannot a Yogi keep himself intact even when taking part in this kind of politics?

Sri Aurobindo: If it becomes necessary for him to do political work he will have to do it — but he will keep himself detached, doing the needful but always keeping in mind the true dirty nature of the work. But he is inspired with a higher outlook, a higher ideal, than is ordinarily found in politics.

Disciple: Is not the political liberation of India a high ideal?

Sri Aurobindo: It is to be sought as being necessary for a higher purpose.

                                                             *

There are two kinds of work which should be distinguished —nation-building work and politics; the former should be kept apart from the latter; artificial organizations started to serve some political purpose die a natural death; national education should be done for the sake of education; village organization should be done for the sake of bringing life to the villages; if these centres of life are allowed to grow they will ultimately help the political advancement of the country. But along with nation-building work, political work is also necessary.

                                                              *

To be upright in politics is to do everything for the sake of the country and not for the sake of one’s own personal interest. When there is a conflict between personal interests and the interest of the country, an upright politician will give preference to the interests of the country. This is the only moral law which a politician need observe. Of course one should avoid dirty things as lying etc…. But politics is a fight and in a fight you must have secrecy, camouflage and so forth. Mahatma Gandhi’s dictum “Secrecy is a sin” has no place in politics.

                                                              *

Disciple: A Yogi can take up the work of national education.

Sri Aurobindo: Yes, that is not politics but education; and there is also what is called village organization.

Disciple: What is there in these kinds of work which is of help to Yogic life?

Sri Aurobindo: In these works he can express the truth of which he gets inner experience.

                                                              *

Disciple: There is a story that Sati — a chaste wife — can, through the force of love for the husband, ward off the death of a dying husband?

Sri Aurobindo: It is only a case of concentration — which is a force by which one cannot prevent death, but can push it off. But it is not every Sati, every loving wife who can do this.

These stories belong to the ideal world — they are not for guidance in practical life. They are only exaggerated illustrations of particular truths or ideas. There is the story of the Shiviraja who gave his own flesh to save a bird — that example is not to be followed in actual life.

When I read English books as a boy, I had an impression that there was no lying in England. But the fact is that most of them lie. As a matter of fact politics is full of lies.

                                                            *

A whole people cannot practise civil disobedience except for a very short time.

                                                            *

6 July 1926 (Evening)

Sri Aurobindo: Indian students are naturally very quick — whatever defects they show are due to defective education. Thus their want of knowledge about common objects is due to their constant poring over books on America and England. Then there is the medium of English; nothing can be more injurious to make children who have no sense of a foreign language to receive their education through it. But there can be no objection to their learning any foreign language at a tender age. This subject of education of Indian boys is as much jocose as lamentable. Let us turn to some other subject.

Disciple: Is want of health and sickness any help to psychic experiences?

Sri Aurobindo: No. What in such cases are known as psychic experiences are merely influences of the vital world. Only when the body is very crude it may be necessary to have some derangement of the body to have higher experiences, but such cases are exceptions.

Disciple: Is luxurious and sumptuous food detrimental to spiritual life?

Sri Aurobindo: I do not want to lay down any general rule for this; it must be determined in individual cases. As far as my experience goes I found no difference in varying or changing my diet.

                                                           *

8 July 1926 (Evening)

Disciple: About X and Y — what is it that is deranged in them?

Sri Aurobindo: The mind is deranged. They are possessed, they have lost control over themselves; their control has been taken up by some foreign powers and they act according to their suggestions.

Disciple: What is their chance of getting rid of this possession?

Sri Aurobindo: There must be something in them which wants to get rid of the possession. As a matter of fact, the possession left X sometime, but he again called it back. The cause of his breakdown is too much impatience in sadhana. He wanted to become a superman at once; he had vanity, ambition in respect of his sadhana and all these offered suitable conditions for the possession. If he could give up sadhana and take to ordinary life, he would have been successful in life; but he did not follow this advice. When Y had lucid intervals, he felt sad that all his sadhana had gone out of him — thus he called back the possession. Once their brain is injured, they have little chance of recovery.

                                                             *

10 July 1926 (Evening)

The Indians are only learning the A B C of politics. When I came back from England I was surprised to find how the Indians easily believed whatever was said by the British politicians. In politics, the golden rule is not to take any word at its face value — you may be sure that there is something else behind it.

When any accusation is made against you, boldly deny it if you can; if not, remain silent, until the matter is forgotten. Those who show temper in politics are only new-comers, e.g. the labourites in England. Expert politicians do not show any temper, why should they? They know that they are playing a game.

Disciple: A politician may not be so bad in character as an individual as he is as a politician.

Sri Aurobindo: They seek to keep up a pretence, that is all.

                                                             *

I do not understand what the Swarajists can do by taking office at this time. They represent the extreme party in the country and by accepting office they will play into the hands of the Government. If the Government fulfil certain conditions, e.g. the release of all political prisoners and the allotment of more money to the transferred departments, the Swarajists can allow the independents to form a ministry.

But mere obstruction is useless. There must be sufficient backbone in the Swarajists to stick to their policy of not accepting office until there is a real change in the system; they should be able to take advantage of the changes in British politics; but they should carry on a movement in the country, so that the Government may feel that there is strength behind the Swarajists.

                                                             *

Disciple: As there are forces which are opposed to Yoga, are there not forces which help a Yogi?

Sri Aurobindo: Yes, on every plane there are beings who profit by our Yoga and help us so far as they are profited, but when you want to go beyond they become a hindrance. As our goal is the highest truth, we should depend for help on the highest divine power, the power of Truth. The gods may help us if they like, but they have their conditions which must be fulfilled, e.g. worship. So we should not rely upon them.

When the gods help us in our Yoga they work under the highest power. But they help from behind; their work is not so marked and prominent as that of the hostile attacks.

                                                               *

In the course of my Yogic evolution, I came to know some of my personalities in my past lives. The elements of character I had in those previous personalities are still working in this life. My capacities and incapacities come from those personalities. My active work in the political field and my Yogic work came from different personalities of my own in the past. There are other elements in my character which have not been derived from my past personalities — they have been derived by association with other personalities.

There is the incident of the personality of Vivekananda visiting me while I was in jail. He explained to me in detail of the work of the Supramental — not exactly of the Supramental, but of the intuitivised mind, the mind as it is organized by the Supramental; he did not use the word Supermind, I gave the name afterwards. That experience lasted for about three weeks. You may not believe this and regard all this as imagination — but in that case you will not be able to make any progress in this Yoga; you will have experiences, and you will have to trust them.

Disciple: Was that a vision?

Sri Aurobindo: No, it was not a vision. I would not have trusted vision.

                                                             *

11 July 1926 (Evening)

Sri Aurobindo: The vital brutal forces have a tendency now to descend on India. This is shown in the vital productions in Art; also in politics, e.g. the labour movement, Bolshevism, etc.

Disciple: Also in the fanaticism of the Mussulmans.

Sri Aurobindo: Oh!…

Disciple: What is there in their religion or culture which makes the Mahomedans so brutal?

Sri Aurobindo: It is not their culture, but their lack of culture. There are fine elements in their religion though there is nothing great or high in it. The religion was meant for the uplift of a desert people. It has suited and helped many people in the lower stage of civilization. But the religion got the stamp of barbarism and brutality from the ādhāra or receptacles. Without a few exceptions, e.g. the Persians, the religion was not adopted by cultured people. In Persia it produced poetry and Sufism — though the philosophical elements were taken from the Hindus. Even in Persia, the Persian culture greatly deteriorated by coming in contact with Islam. The Africans seem to be the most suitable people for the Mahomedan religion.

When Islam came to India, the stamp of intolerance and barbarity was already fixed on it and it could not be improved by the lower strata of the Hindus who were taken into the fold of Islam by conversion.

The fine elements of Islam are found in the creations of their art and also literature —but the whole culture lacks in the psychic element; it draws all its inspiration from the vital world.

The Hindus have lost their vitality in the same way as the Greeks — they became too civilized; they forcibly suppressed the vital by the mental; at every turn, the movement of life was hampered by rules and orders. Then the teaching of asceticism and Mayavada did immense harm. The attempt to push Mayavada upon a whole people resulted in their losing all zest in life; the higher movements of life were choked; the vital being thus suppressed began to move in narrow channels — e.g. the family, husband and wife and children, service and so forth; people were not attracted by the higher plays of life. Mayavada is all right for a limited few who by their nature are capable of deriving some benefit from it but it should not have been so vigorously preached to the masses. The Ramakrishna Mission people once tried to meet this charge by saying that very few people did accept Mayavada in their life, very few people left the world in pursuance of it — thus the evil effected by Mayavada is an exaggeration. This is a vicious argument. People did not realize Mayavada but all the same they were sufficiently influenced by it to lose all zest in life and work.

Then there were the Pundits who through their Shastras sought to put all sorts of restrictions on life. Thus the Brahmin Pundits and the ascetic philosophers crushed the vitality out of the Hindus. Our work is to recreate that life.

Disciple: We should then begin by burning the Shastras?

Sri Aurobindo: You should not only burn the Shastras but also burn them out of the mind of the people.

Disciple: Should this change be brought about gradually or all at once?

Sri Aurobindo: When these bindings become rotten, the whole thing collapses at once. Some confusion is likely whenever any such change is brought about. But there should be some great idea behind these changes.

Disciple: Perhaps the intermarriage of Hindus and Mahomedans will improve the situation (laughter).

Sri Aurobindo: Let the Hindus first intermarry among themselves.

Disciple: The purity in marriage has been carried to a ludicrous extent.

Sri Aurobindo: There is some justification for trying to keep the purity of the race when there is vitality; mixture brings confusion. But when there is lack of vitality, the defect should be sought to be made up by intermarriage and intermixture of blood; this truth is embodied in the saying — bringing of fresh blood.

Disciple: Are the methods of worship in any way responsible for the loss of vitality of the Hindus?

Sri Aurobindo: The methods of worship have nothing to do with the loss of vitality. The methods of the Catholic Christians were as stupid as possible, but that did not interfere with their vital growth. What injures are the hampering restrictions on the free movement of life.

Disciple: What is the remedy of the brutality often shown by the Mahomedans?

Sri Aurobindo: That should not be met by equal brutality. We should not try to be as “vital” as the Mahomedans. The brutal outbursts should be met with disciplined force; brutality is always checked by such show of disciplined force which it learns to respect and fear.

                                                             *

Disciple: Did Islamic culture contribute to democracy?

Sri Aurobindo: Why then no Islamic country has been able to evolve democracy? Democracy in the sense of brotherhood is never achieved by politics. Look to the French Revolution — their cry of liberty, equality and fraternity, and then “or death”. What Islam preached was a sort of equality of all before God.

                                                             *

Gandhi’s doctrine of meeting violence by soul-force is most unpracticable [impracticable]. The oppressor’s soul will respond only when he has a soul, but in most cases there is no soul to respond.

                                                              *

Asceticism has a beauty of its own; there is a spiritual life behind it — the lower life is renounced for a higher life. But as pleasure suppressed gives rise to pain, so beauty suppressed leads to ugliness. Gandhi has made asceticism ugly. That is not asceticism but Puritanism.

                                                              *

Judaism as a religion was more intolerant than Mahomedanism.

                                                               *

13 July 1926 (Evening)

Disciple: Is the supramental power a power of the divine nature?

Sri Aurobindo: Yes.

Disciple: Gita distinguishes the lower prakriti from the higher prakriti. Is the supramental power the higher prakriti?

Sri Aurobindo: It is only a part of the higher prakriti; it is that part of the higher divine nature which is ready for manifestation in man. Above the supramental is the Ananda and the Sachchidananda.

Disciple: Is there no Ananda in the supramental?

Sri Aurobindo: Yes; there is Ananda even in the mental. But the higher Ananda is not yet for man.

Disciple: Does the supramental power belong to the Jiva?

Sri Aurobindo: The supramental is a higher power and the Jiva is an instrument of it. Otherwise there would be no meaning in surrender to that power.

                                                              *

Disciple: The difficulties external and internal that beset the sadhak in the path of this supramental Yoga — why do they occur and what is the proper attitude to be adopted towards them?

Sri Aurobindo: At first some forces press down which are not the supramental, and these give rise to the difficulties. When the supramental begins to work in that field, all difficulties disappear, there is peace and harmony, knowledge and power. But until the ādhāra is prepared for the direct action of the supramental, difficulties arise in two ways: (1) the hostile forces create all sorts of obstacles; (2) the higher power tests the sadhak, shows his strength and weakness, the forces that play around him and thus prepares him for the upward march.

There are two ways of meeting these difficulties — immediate and ultimate. The immediate remedy is to refer these difficulties to the higher power (if you have already some opening to it), receive the solution and calmly follow it and meet all the troubles and difficulties with a detached attitude. The ultimate remedy will come when the ādhāra will be organized by the supramental and you will be able to control yourself and external circumstances.

                                                             *

The Yogin can exert his influence on the external world through somebody as an instrument — he can throw some force on the instrument and achieve an end, provided that there is the sanction of the higher power.

Disciple: Can the Yogi control the world-forces which help or retard the progress of the world?

Sri Aurobindo: The Yogi makes no such rigid classification — there are forces which sometimes help, sometimes retard what you call progress. These forces only seek to have their own play.

Disciple: Can the Yogi control these forces?

Sri Aurobindo: The Yogi under the direction of a higher power can utilize these forces for some divine purpose. But if there is some egoism left in the Yogi, his work will be imperfect to that extent.

Disciple: The Yogi, you say, can work through somebody as an instrument. Is that work limited by the defects of the instrument?

Sri Aurobindo: Yes, there is some limitation. Yet, the Yogi can achieve his purpose even with faulty instruments, although undoubtedly difficulties arise from the defects in the instrument.

                                                             *

14 July 1926 (Evening)

Disciple: Is there any truth in the belief that capacity differs in different castes?

Sri Aurobindo: Like everything in this world, this is both true and not true. No general rule can be laid down; men born in the higher classes have greater chances on account of heredity and environment; thus a Brahmin understood more quickly the subtle points in the Vedanta than Rajendralal Mitra, though the latter possessed great capacity. But there is no incapacity in the lower classes which cannot be overcome. It is very difficult to say anything very definite on this point. Take the case of the Negroes in America — they have often received equal education with the whites but as yet they have not produced any first-class men.

Disciple: Booker T. Washington was a Negro.

Sri Aurobindo: Do you call him a first-class man?

Disciple: The Mahomedans in India have not produced any first-class men.

Sri Aurobindo: Why, there are the big brothers! Then there is Sir Syed Ahmed in politics, also Abdur Rahim — Quazi Nazrul — as a poet.

Disciple: Quazi’s songs, some of them were greatly appreciated by Deshabandhu.

Sri Aurobindo: What poetry is there in his songs? That is all appeal to the vital emotions — there is nothing high, nothing psychic.

Disciple: The young men of Bengal now-a-days are very fond of the songs of Quazi.

Sri Aurobindo: So much the worse for them. In the Swadeshi days, the songs produced were much better and higher.

                                                             *

During the French Revolution at first all the generals came from the aristocracy, as it was then believed that only the aristocracy could produce good generals; but when the restriction was removed, very good generals were found out among the common people.

                                                             *

15 July 1926 (Evening)

Disciple: When we surrender our ādhāra to the higher power, what is it in us which makes that surrender?

Sri Aurobindo: The mind or the vital being may surrender itself.

Disciple: There is something in us which regards the mind etc. as outer instruments.

Sri Aurobindo: The central being in mind may regard the activities as something outside itself. The mental being may surrender itself to the higher power for knowledge, the vital being may make similar surrender for greater powers. But these surrenders need not be real. Hence it is that so many persons fail in this Yoga. The surrender is real only when it comes from the psychic being.

Disciple: Is the psychic being a part of nature as the mind?

Sri Aurobindo: The psychic being is not a part of nature, nor the mental being — these beings represent the Purusha. The formulations of these beings are parts of nature.

Disciple: What is the relation between the mental being and the psychic being?

Sri Aurobindo: There are the different planes — the mental, the vital, the physical; the psychic is behind all these.

Disciple: Is there also a psychic plane?

Sri Aurobindo: Yes, you can call it a plane — but it is a sort of plane which cuts through all the other planes from behind, — it enters into the other planes — mental, etc. as something like rays.

There is a direct connection between the psychic being and the higher Truth.

Disciple: Do the mind, etc. derive their light from the psychic?

Sri Aurobindo: The mental, the vital, the physical — they have their own light.

Disciple: Is there a psychic consciousness?

Sri Aurobindo: Yes, but it is simple and direct, not like the mental consciousness.

Disciple: How does the psychic help the mental, etc.?

Sri Aurobindo: The psychic touch helps to bring out the deeper potentialities in the mental, the vital and the physical and make these more fit for receiving the higher Truth and Power.

Thus the mental love is egoistic and depends on mutual interchange and enjoyment. By the psychic touch the love becomes nobler and purer — the egoistic element vanishes.

Disciple: Does the development of the mind in any way help the development of the psychic being?

Sri Aurobindo: Not necessarily. There are many persons with mental powers greatly developed, but in whom the psychic being is very weak. The reverse also is true in many cases.

Disciple: There are persons who are quite fit for this supramental Yoga, yet do not accept this Yoga (are not attracted by this Yoga), while less fit persons accept it; what is the explanation?

Sri Aurobindo: There are fitter persons outside this Yoga only in this sense that they have materials in their personality which if dealt with by Yoga may give good results. But they may not feel the call towards the Yoga and may use those materials in other ways.

Take concrete instances. X was a far superior ādhāra to Y. X had a great mind, the vital being was strong, there was nothing mean in the physical, the psychic being was strong. She was encouraged to practise this Yoga, but she could not stick to it. While Y, with a much inferior ādhāra was discouraged, yet she stuck to it.

Disciple: Whether a person will take up Yoga or not does not depend so much upon the capacity as upon the higher will—the will of God.

Sri Aurobindo: Yes, everything ultimately comes to that.

                                                            *

Disciple: In what sense is all life a Yoga?

Sri Aurobindo: The divine is involved in Nature and Nature is trying to bring out the union between the involved being and the higher free divine. This process is unconscious. This process is generally called evolution. When Nature succeeds in becoming conscious and the effort of union goes on consciously, then is the beginning of real Yoga.

                                                             *

The thoughts which go in our mind ordinarily come from outside. Sometimes we get the substance from others and it takes form in our mind, sometimes the form even is taken from other minds. Suggestions and hints are always coming from the universal. When all these work out in our mind, we suppose that “we are thinking”, but this egoism is an illusion due to ignorance.

                                                              *

The purification and transformation of the ādhāra requires patient and persevering sadhana, it cannot be performed by a miracle; but the descending of the higher truth is itself a miracle.

                                                              *

16 July 1926 (Evening)

Disciple: When a person rises to the Supermind, does he know the past, the present and the future?

Sri Aurobindo: Certainly.

Disciple: Then there is everything settled and pre-arranged—there is no question of potentialities and possibilities.

Sri Aurobindo: But, as long as we are in the lower plane of existence, these statements are meaningless to us. Only what is true in the plane of existence in which we live is of practical validity to us.

Disciple: How does a man become liberated from the bondage of predetermination by nature, niyati karma?

Sri Aurobindo: A man lives in the mind; as long as one lives in the mind there is no liberation. One must rise above the mind in order to attain real freedom.

Disciple: Sankhya says it is Nature which works out the liberation of Purusha.

Sri Aurobindo: Yes, but what Nature? Everything is done by Shakti, the power of the Purusha.

                                                             *

Sankhya says Nature somehow begins movement, Purusha consents to reflect that movement and the world-play goes on; then somehow Purusha ceases to reflect, Prakriti somehow loses its movement and then the Purusha is liberated. But how does Prakriti begin? What is after the liberation of the Purusha? All these metaphysical determinations are arbitrary.

Sankhya says Purushas are many, Vedanta says there is only one Purusha. Which is true? When Vedanta says there is only one Purusha, Sankhya says that one Purusha is only you; there are many other absolute Purushas, like your one absolute. These metaphysical doctrines only express half-truths. I for myself have experience of many Purushas, as well as of one Purusha — so now it is very difficult for me to give definite answers to these questions. What I can say is, there is the infinite, and there is to be an upward endeavour to reach it. As one rises, so he enters into different levels of experience. Philosophy is of little help in getting true knowledge, which must come from experience and actual realization. It serves as a mental gymnastic — it makes the mind supple and clear, it gives ideas to the mind that there is something higher than the mind to which it should aspire — thus it serves as a sort of a springing board.

At a certain stage of my sadhana, I experienced all intellectual truths to be false. Then I came to know that they are incomplete truths. Now I am in a position to put these truths in their proper place. I have written many things before which I must reject or revise now. That is the disadvantage of writing books — it is a record of one’s imperfections.

When I wrote the Arya, most readers did not properly understand it and the author himself was not satisfied. Now if I have to write out all the truths I have experienced it will be necessary to write 100 Aryas for 70 years. But I am not going to do that. I only write what will be of immediate use.

                                                              *

In the course of evolution Nature has brought forth the mental consciousness. The next stage is the manifestation of the Supramental. The bringing down of the supramental consciousness is the object of our Yoga. One may only rise to the Supramental — that will be only a kind of Samadhi — but our object is to transform this life by the help of the Supramental.

                                                               *

Disciple: May we use symbols as aids in our Yoga at the beginning, as is done in other Yogas?

Sri Aurobindo: Yes, provided you remember the meaning of the symbols. The central symbol in our Yoga is the Sun — the different planes may be regarded as seas.

                                                              *

17 July 1926 (Evening)

Disciple: Our thoughts seem to rise from the subconscious region of our memory — by the law of association thoughts rise from the past experience stored in our memory. How is it then that thoughts come from the outside?

Sri Aurobindo: The impact comes from the forces that are playing in the universal —the movement of these forces suggest thoughts, sometimes only the substance, sometimes the forms are given. What is in the mind is certain formed habits — the mind carries on this habitual activity under the impact of the external forces. Sometimes the thoughts formed in other minds enter into it. The Yogi has to attain freedom from this influence of external forces — he must be able not to allow these forces to make any formations in the mind. It is for this reason that you are advised to observe these thoughts as they come from the outside and also the thought forces that are playing outside you.

Disciple: Do these forces acquire experience by working upon our mind?

Sri Aurobindo: Forces acquire experience! Experience has reference to consciousness. Only beings have consciousness and they alone can have experience.

Disciple: Are these forces in any way changed or modified by their action on us?

Sri Aurobindo: If the Yogi has acquired a certain power, he can change the disposition of these forces. This is what is meant by creating an atmosphere. The Yogi can create an atmosphere in which certain kinds of forces will have full facilities, while others cannot have any play. When the Yogi is sufficiently advanced he feels that his consciousness is not confined to the physical body — he has a sort of environmental being which he keeps calm so that the play of passions there may not affect his central being.

The atmosphere of cheerfulness etc. that surrounds many individuals is a vital atmosphere. This vital atmosphere is very common. There may similarly be a mental atmosphere. Around a Yogi there is an atmosphere of calmness which can be felt by others — which may either attract or dispel others; there is nothing vital in it.

Disciple: What is the atmosphere of the person who lives in the supramental consciousness?

Sri Aurobindo: That contains everything, vital, mental and so forth.

Disciple: Some hatred attracts the object of hatred, some hatred dispels — how is it?

Sri Aurobindo: There are different kinds of hatred — as there are different kinds of fear. One may run away from the cause of terror or feel attracted towards it.

                                                               *

18 July 1926 (Evening)

Disciple: In the first chapter of the Gita Arjuna speaks of kula dharma, jāti dharma —what is meant by kula dharma here?

Sri Aurobindo: Kula is the family or clan as the kuru kula. Each clan had its own standards and ideals of conduct, which were known as the dharma of the clan. It is difficult to say what Arjuna exactly meant by jāti; its root meaning refers to birth — those who were originated from the same stock. It might mean caste or race.[1] But the distinction is not important — what Arjuna referred to were the current social standards.

Disciple: Arjuna speaks of the consequent unchastity of the women — he does not refer to unchastity as an evil in itself but rather to the disastrous consequences to the kula which would result from unchastity.

Sri Aurobindo: In those times prominence was not given to individual morality — the welfare of the society was paramount. The individual had to obey the social standards and laws prescribed by society. The idea of individual liberty came into prominence through the influence of Buddhism and Christianity which taught individual salvation and laid down rules of morality for individuals who wanted salvation. The present prominence given to individuals shows that society has become individualistic.

                                                              *

The artistic taste of the Indians has greatly degenerated. The pictures they find amusement in are worthy only of the South Sea Islanders. In England also, real artistic appreciation is confined only to a very few. This shows that civilization, after all, is only polish on the crude humanity that has persisted all along.

                                                               *

19 July 1926 (Evening)

Sri Aurobindo: All monasteries have a tendency to degeneration. It is due to the incapacity and incapability of human nature. Whatever it receives from above it spoils very soon. As long as the influence of the founder lasts, his teaching remains pure, but then his disciples who cannot fully grasp it or grasp it only intellectually deform the whole thing.

                                                               *

Mantras are vehicles through which the Guru at the time of initiation conveys his influence to the disciple; the disciple may feel the influence at once or at some future time. When the disciple recites the mantra in the proper manner, there is set forth a vibration which helps him in spiritual experience. But the mechanical repetition of words is useless. The popular belief that the very utterance of a name — e.g. Hari or Rama —purifies all the sins is quite unfounded.

Disciple: The word OM is said to represent Brahman.

Sri Aurobindo: Yes, the word OM is of great power — the utterance produces a sound-force which contains in itself all the sound-forces in the world and thus it is said to represent the Brahman.

Disciple: Is there any force in the sounds of words?

Sri Aurobindo: Why not? Is not sound a force? If sound can produce physical vibration — it also produces spiritual effects.

Disciple: How does the shouting in Kirtan help?

Sri Aurobindo: That depends on the sort of help you want. If you want to enter into emotional ecstasy, the physical excitement of shouting and dancing helps you to attain that. If a man is fit, he may through these attain spiritual experiences. But these are generally vital movements and thus double-edged — in most cases they have a downward tendency.

Disciple: Ramakrishna was very fond of songs and Kirtans.

Sri Aurobindo: Ramakrishna was Ramakrishna; in 90 p.c. cases these devotional ecstasies do no good.

                                                              *

20 July 1926 (Evening)

Disciple: J. C. Bose had a vision of Mother India on the eve of an important lecture when he first went to England. He was at a loss about what to say in his lecture; there was great opposition against him. A force came on him with the vision and under the influence of that force he delivered his lecture. How to explain this vision?

Disciple: Mother India came as a force?

Sri Aurobindo: Is not Mother India a force, a Shakti?

Disciple: What sort of Shakti?

Sri Aurobindo: Shakti is Shakti, there is one Shakti.

Disciple: Is Mother India an individualized Shakti?

Sri Aurobindo: I think I have spoken on it before.

Bose’s vision, which came as an emaciated widow, can be explained in three ways. First, it might have been only a mental image, produced from the idea of the condition of India as she at present is. Secondly, it may have been a vision from the vital world. Thirdly, it might have been the real Shakti — Mother India appearing in the form of an emaciated widow.

Disciple: People get inspirations — what is the source and nature of these inspirations?

Sri Aurobindo: They are generally activities of the mind; substances and forms prepared by the mind itself often appear as inspirations, but those which come from above are quite different. The mind must be made calm and receptive before these higher inspirations come. I first had this experience when at Baroda. My Yoga had come to a critical point and I did not know how to proceed. Before that I had no higher movement except some activity of the mind and manifestations in the physical, e.g. health (?); I was doing prānāyāma and so forth. But I was at a loss how to proceed. At this time I met Lele. He advised me to sit with him and to make the mind calm — by watching every thought as it came and throwing it off. Following this advice I completely emptied my mind in three days; and then I experienced the silent Brahmic consciousness and all things and events of the world appeared only as names and forms — mere māyā. This condition lasted for several months, during which I had to deliver about 30 lectures at Poona, at Bombay and on my way back to Calcutta. That was the time of my political career. I said to Lele, “My mind is empty. I have no thoughts. How shall I deliver lectures?” He said, “Never mind. You go to the meeting, bow to the audience as Narayana, and you will be able to speak.” I followed his instructions. When I stood on the platform, I had absolutely no idea as to what I should speak or on what subject. Then a force came on me and began to speak through me. It was quite a new style, quite different from mine — short effective sentences. This lasted for many months. Whatever I wrote at this time, also came in the same way from above.

Disciple: You acted there as a medium, as a Yantra for a higher force.

Sri Aurobindo: The object of our Yoga is to make ourselves a medium and a Yantra.

Disciple: What is the difference between the Yogi as a medium and the ordinary mediums we speak of?

Sri Aurobindo: So long you are practising Yoga and you do not know this distinction? In the case of the Yogi he is the instrument of his own higher Self; in other cases they are instruments in the hands of forces quite foreign to them.

Disciple: The inspirations which come to the poets and artists — wherefrom do they come?

Sri Aurobindo: In most cases they come from the vital world. The vital has a great power of creating beautiful forms. These poetic creations generally appeal to the senses and emotions — they more often debase than purify. The theory that poetry purifies and ennobles is a cant. But there is poetry which has a higher source of inspiration—under this influence the vital feelings and emotions are so transformed as to make them sublime.

Thus the drinking songs of Anacreon, the poetry of Kalidas—they are very good poetry but all belonging to the vital plane. The Upanishads come from a higher plane.

Disciple: Give us some specimens of English poetry which answers to your description of higher poetry.

Sri Aurobindo: There is Shakespeare, Milton, Mathew Arnold.

Disciple: The figures of Buddha and Nataraja — are they symbols of the spiritual condition?

Sri Aurobindo: Not symbols — symbols are intellectual things. These artistic sculptures are expressions of the spiritual. They help you to come into touch with the spiritual. That is the characteristic of real Indian Art. If you assume the proper attitude, if you open yourself before it with calm and passive receptivity, you will realize the absolute and the infinite which is behind the art. Indian Art neglects aesthetic features because it seeks to express the infinite and the absolute.

                                                              *

Sri Aurobindo: When you open your being to the universal, you open yourself to the lower forces also and they get a chance of working on you if there is something in you which responds to them. Hence it is that the Yogin has to clear his ādhāra of all sorts of impurities.

                                                              *

21 July 1926 (Evening)

Sri Aurobindo: I want to add something to what I said yesterday about the cant regarding the purifying and ennobling value of poetry and art. There is in these things an upward movement, an aspiration to the high and so far these serve as experiences to the soul in its upward march. But there is no much impurity mixed up with these that they do not go very far. The flame of aspiration is mingled with the mist and the soil of the earth. What they cannot get in true light, they try to make up by mental glamour which only hides the true light. It is for this reason that I do not like the word love to be spoken of so freely. Generally the emotions and sentiments keep one bound to the lower plane, the vital plane, and so the Yogin has to leave behind and go in direct search of truth —unbridled by the samskāras or conventions of the mind and the heart.

Take the case of patriotism. In real patriotism there is an element of self-giving and so far it helps. But you have experience how this patriotism easily degenerates. In most cases patriotism is nothing but selfishness — it is only an enlargement of the ego which is sought to be satisfied. This kind of selfishness is most insupportable. I experienced this when I sought to combine Yoga with politics. I had all sorts of interests; the service of the country was not at all disinterested, though of course I was not actuated by such narrow self-interest as hoping to become the President or some such thing.

The philanthropic work that is ordinarily done is of this lower kind — the work is in the vital plane. There is very little of upward endeavour here. That was also the mistake of Vivekananda. He departed from the teaching of Ramakrishna, being influenced by the Christian missionary idea of the West. Of course, at first he had in his mind the idea of Buddhistic service, but it soon degenerated and the work that is being done by his followers contains very little spirituality.

Disciple: What is the distinction between Buddhistic philanthropy and Christian philanthropy?

Sri Aurobindo: In Buddhism, it was sought to be an expression of the inner spiritual life. Compassion was regarded as a part of Nirvana and philanthropy was its outward expression. The Mahayanists developed the ideal of service as an aid to Nirvana and as an expression of spiritual life. In Christian philanthropic work as it is, the whole thing is a satisfaction of the vital being in work and enlarged egoism. The ego or selfishness can never be got rid of in that manner.

It was of tremendous advantage to Ramakrishna that he had not received any Western education and the Western ideas did not spoil the truths which he received in his own way. He had a central intuition from which he could see the truth, though he had his own limitations on account of his past personalities.

Disciple: The description of Avatarhood that you have given in the Essays on the Gita does not tally with what is heard of Ramakrishna. Was he an Avatar?

Sri Aurobindo: It is not necessary that you should regard Ramakrishna as an Avatar. When I wrote about Avatarhood in the Essays, I tried to express the idea of the Gita about it. Avatar may be understood in many senses. The term is so loosely used now-a-days that it has almost become meaningless. X once asked me whether I was an Avatar; I replied to him, “Avatarhood is too small for my ambition.” (laughter)

                                                              *

Disciple: There is the lower triplicity of the mental, the vital and the physical. Does it in any way correspond to the three gunas Sattwa, Rajas and Tamas?

Sri Aurobindo: In each of the planes there is the play of all the three gunas. But when the mind is illumined and becomes greatly developed, it shows the dominance of the sattwa. The vital can be sattwic but the rajasic play is the most suitable to it; while tamas — inertia and ignorance — is a characteristic of the physical.

                                                             *

                           (There was a question regarding memory.)

Sri Aurobindo: The memory is a phenomenon only of the mind and not of the Supramental. In the mind when we want to remember anything which is in the mind, we grope about and stumble on it, but in the Supermind everything is ever present; whatever it wants to know, it knows at once.

It is very difficult to say anything about the Supermind because here we speak the mental language which cannot adequately express the Supramental.

                                                               *

22 July 1926 (Evening)

Disciple: You have not yet replied to the letter of the inspector of co-operative societies.

Sri Aurobindo: Ask him whether the slokas and mantras he recites give any glimpse to the mind, create new waves there. It is only in such cases that they are of any use. He feels a quiet of the mind — that is to be increased. All thoughts should be thrown outside, at least must not be allowed to enter into this quiet. Let him practise these — he need not be anxious, his sadhana his all right.

                                                              *

         (There was a talk about the organization of the physical sense-organs.)

Sri Aurobindo did not accept X’s assertion that the touch organ is not as elaborate as the organs of sight or hearing. The senses do not see, hear and so forth—there is something behind these which actually perceives and that need not depend on the physical senses.

There are psychic visions of light and sound. There is the psychic nature of colours. Thus when you see an inner light of rosy colour, that indicates the psychic feeling of love; the colour blue indicates spiritual power and so forth.

                                                             *

23 July 1926 (Evening)

The disunion between the Hindus and Mahomedans helps to perpetuate the British rule.

                                                               *

Philip talked about an old woman in Japan who is said to have had a revelation. She declared that Japan was destined to rule the world, the village in which she lived would be the centre of all activities in the world and so forth. There was some talk about prophets. Y talked about an elementary school-teacher who thought himself to be a prophet. There was some humourous talk about teachers becoming asses after some years and thereafter becoming Avatars. Sri Aurobindo said he was some sort of a teacher. Myself said I was a professor for 8 years.

Disciple: But you are neither an ass nor an Avatar.

Sri Aurobindo: But he may have the material in him.

Disciple: Many great men in the world came from teachers, e.g. Mussolini, Kamal Pasha.

Sri Aurobindo: They were different kinds of teachers.

                                                              *

24 July 1926 (Evening)

X read a letter from Y who appeared to have misunderstood what is meant by prāna and by coming down from mana and buddhi to the prānastara.

Sri Aurobindo: The vital plane is a plane of desires — not only of sexual or physical desire, but desire for activity, ambition, pride — all these are of the vital plane. The vital plane consists of two parts — one in the mind, where the play consists of emotions, and another in the vital itself which consists of physical desires. Descending into the vital plane means that he should closely observe the vital movements of desire and egoism and stand aside, thus attaining calm and keeping an attitude of aspiration to the higher truth.

Disciple: What about his feeling that he should give up all activities of the world and select a retired place for sadhana?

Sri Aurobindo: Why should I say anything about that? He must decide that for himself.

Disciple: What is the value of the shrāddha ceremony and offering on pindodak?

Sri Aurobindo: That is a very old superstition.

Disciple: Arjuna refers to gupta pindodak kriyā.

Sri Aurobindo: Yes, but that is nothing but a social superstition.

Disciple: Cannot persons in the other world be helped by men living in this world?

Sri Aurobindo: Cannot persons in this world be helped by others to pass from one stage to another?

Disciple: Yes.

Sri Aurobindo: Similarly, persons in the other world can be helped in their passage to the place of rest. But I am sure that help cannot be given by pindas.

Disciple: How can that help be given?

Sri Aurobindo: By the power of tapasya you can create a force which may help the departed.

Disciple: When a lover commits suicide expecting to get her love —

Sri Aurobindo: That will be a stupid attempt.

Disciple: Tell us what happens in the next world.

Sri Aurobindo: Do you think you can learn everything simply by putting questions to me?

Disciple: But you encourage us to put questions?

Sri Aurobindo: Yes, I can give you only those answers which your mind will be able to understand to a certain extent.

Disciple: What do you mean by a place of rest?

Sri Aurobindo: It is supposed that after death, men have to pass through different planes of consciousness, called lokas, according to their activities in life; here they have to work out their desires, attachments; after that they find a place of rest where they sleep for sometime and assimilate past experiences and prepare for a new birth.

Disciple: Do all persons go to sleep in that manner?

Sri Aurobindo: Those who are more developed need not go to sleep — they come directly to a fresh birth.

Disciple: Those who are less developed have very little to assimilate and thus may come down very soon.

Sri Aurobindo: On the other hand, less developed persons may take greater time to assimilate whatever experiences they might have gathered.

Disciple: Can persons below in any way impede the progress of the departed soul?

Sri Aurobindo: Yes, by weeping and sorrowing, relatives and friends of the departed soul can make his passage to his abode of rest difficult.

Disciple: What is the distinction between heaven and hell?

Sri Aurobindo: People enjoy or suffer there according to their activities in this life. If they had unrest in this life, that continues after death. This is the origin of those fanciful stories about heaven and hell.

Disciple: Can any person on this earth, by the force of his love call any departed soul from his place of rest to take a fresh birth?

Sri Aurobindo: I do not think that such a force can be exerted. But a part of his being may be brought down into some other person.

Disciple: A case happened where a mother had eager desire that a dead son should again take birth in her family. After a lapse of time the mother had dreams that the son was coming; she conceived and gave birth to a child which in features and formation was very like that departed son.

Sri Aurobindo: That proves nothing. The dream might have been due to the great mental activity of the mother and the similar features might have been produced as the mother was too much full of thought of her departed son.   

Disciple: Do two souls unite life after life?

Sri Aurobindo: Yes, such a phenomenon often occurs.

Disciple: It is not with every husband and wife (laughter).

Sri Aurobindo: Then too many life would be an eternal torture.

Disciple: Do men become women and vice versa when they change their birth?

Sri Aurobindo: This may happen, but so far as my knowledge goes, the tendency is to continue in the same sex.

Disciple: Do human being always take birth as human beings?

Sri Aurobindo: They may become cats and dogs and any other animal. But generally human beings become human beings. Some part of their being may be born in animals, but the human soul does not go back to an animal birth.

Disciple: If one practises Yoga in this life, will it be possible for him to take up Yoga early in next life?

Sri Aurobindo: That depends upon the progress achieved. No general rule can be laid down. If the higher truth came down and partly transformed the lower being, in the next life that will certainly be a help. But the Yoga will not be necessarily taken up at once. The call will come easily and when the Yoga is taken up, the former personalities touched by Yoga may come to the front and pursue further development. Or the crude parts may come to the surface and the whole of the next life may be taken up in working these out, and Yoga may not be taken at all. All sorts of things may happen according to individual conditions.

Disciple: Is there any tendency that Indians will be born in India, Europeans in Europe and so forth?

Sri Aurobindo: There is no such law. As a matter of fact, there are very few here who have not the stamp of a foreign birth. You were a professor at Heidelberg (laughter). A in a previous birth lived at the foot of one of the pyramids of Egypt. B must have been a Japanese. C might have been a Slav, I know not of what country. D was a Gaul, E might have been a Turk or a Persian.

                                                             *

26 July 1926 (Evening)

X described how some Japanese crew had saved many shipwrecked Englishmen at the risk of their own lives.

Sri Aurobindo: That is quite like the Japanese. They would rather perish than neglect their duty.

Disciple: What has made the Japanese so dutiful?

Sri Aurobindo: It is their ancient culture — the splendid organization and the discipline of the Samurai which has reached the whole people. That discipline consists in great self-restraint and sacrifice at the call of duty. A Japanese lives for the sake of the Mikado or the country; there cannot be a traitor in Japan; then they show extraordinary powers of endurance; there is no shouting and screaming anywhere; if they are angry, they may kill their enemy but will not give vent to their anger in any other way. Whatever you have to do, do it without speaking or bragging about it. During the last big fire, forty thousand people met death but surrounded by flames they showed no impatience — they sang hymns and calmly met death, all those forty thousand! If anybody dies no one will weep. In face of duty they either accomplish it or commit suicide.

In all this they are conscious of the support of their ancestors. All this discipline is due to organization in the mental, the vital and the physical plane. But their rigid discipline has made them rigid — they have no plasticity; a Japanese never does well if taken away from his own proper environment. Also, the soul cannot develop spiritually under such rigid conditions. Thus the Japanese have never been spiritual. Whatever spiritualism appears there is chiefly intellectual. But, apart from spiritualism, this rigid discipline of the race has been of great help to them in all other spheres of life. The Russians were absolutely no match for them in the last war. They were prepared to give any number of lives to win their cause. With their splendid organization and spirit of sacrifice and devotion to the country, they carried everything before them.

The want of plasticity in their nature accounts for the fact that the Japanese can think of only one thing at a time and cannot co-ordinate their attention on several things together. Thus they have not been a success in aircraft.

Disciple: The Kshatriyas of India had a similar discipline as the Samurais of Japan.

Sri Aurobindo: The Indian discipline was more psychic and more plastic; the Japanese is confined to the moral and mental sphere and is extremely rigid. If the Indians had such discipline, no one would have been able to touch India.

Disciple: The Japanese have kept up their ancient discipline, but how did the Indians lose theirs?

Sri Aurobindo: They allowed foreign people to enter into their land and also they were very individualistic.

Disciple: Japan is not a vast country like India — it is an isolated island and so it was possible for the Japanese to discipline and organize themselves in that manner.

Sri Aurobindo: That is not the case — there are many other islands in isolated position without the discipline of Japan; it is something peculiar in their race. They are not Mongolians — they are a race apart.

Disciple: England can compare with Japan.

Sri Aurobindo: Certainly not. The manufacturers of arms in England sell them to those who used them against England. Of course, the English are more disciplined than the Indians; and they have the political instinct. The French have less and the German greater discipline than the English, but in political instinct Germany is inferior to England.

Disciple: Is there anything in the nature of the Indians which makes it impossible for them to have the Japanese discipline?

Sri Aurobindo: The Indians are capable of a good deal of discipline. But they are too plastic — they have tried to assimilate everything that comes from outside.

Then, Japan is perhaps the only country where the Government is really for the people. There is a parliament in name, but still the word of the Mikado is a law to the Japanese. But the Mikado stands for the country and the people. This popular nature of the government is maintained as the people will at once throw away anybody who will go against the people.

Disciple: Has Buddhism done anything to build up the unique discipline of the Japanese people?

Sri Aurobindo: Buddhistic discipline might have contributed something — but their main characteristics were derived from their own ancient religion, Shintoism.

Disciple: As a people the Japanese are very aesthetic.

Sri Aurobindo: Yes.

Disciple: What has made them so aesthetic?

Sri Aurobindo: That is in the race. What made the Greeks or the Italians so aesthetic?

Disciple: I mean, whether there is any connection between the discipline of the Japanese race and their aesthetic sense?

Sri Aurobindo: (No answer recorded here).

Disciple: The Indian people have lost all aesthetic sense.

Sri Aurobindo: Yes, that is mainly due to the influence of the English with their utilitarian outlook and their puritanism.

Disciple: The Brahmos of Bengal have saved music in Bengal.     

Sri Aurobindo: Nonsense; they made it as ugly as possible. Music and art have survived through other agencies.

Disciple: The Tagore family has done much.   

Sri Aurobindo:  But the Tagores are not Brahmos, they are half-Hindus; the Keshabites are the real Brahmos.

                                                              *

Disciple: The rigid organization of the Japanese is bound to disintegrate in the course of time.

Sri Aurobindo: Why?

Disciple: Because this is a hindrance to their spiritual development.

Sri Aurobindo: They may not seek spiritual development.

Disciple: But their souls must seek.

Sri Aurobindo: Their souls also may not seek that development in Japan; for that purpose they may migrate to some other country as the soul of X has taken birth in India (laughter).

The Western influence has to a certain extent affected the ancient discipline of the Japanese.

                                                                       *

There was some talk about X — how he is starving, how can money be found for his passage home and so forth.

Sri Aurobindo: Let us pass on to some other subject.

Disciple: You said yesterday that in the progress of the soul, there is a tendency to keep to the same sex-line. What is it that determines the sex? Is it something in the vital?

Sri Aurobindo: No, it is not in the vital — the distinction is from the beginning; sex has its origin in the fundamental distinction between Purusha and Prakriti. The words ‘male’ and ‘female’ refer to the distinction in the physical plane, but that does not express the whole distinction. There are such phrases as active and passive elements; none of these adequately express the relation.   

Disciple: But Purusha is passive; how can it correspond to the male sex, which is rather active as distinguished from the female sex?

Sri Aurobindo: Purusha is passive according to the Sankhya; Purusha as described by the Gita is sāksī and īśvara — it sees all the workings of nature as well as is the lord of all; Prakriti only works out the will of the Purusha, hence it is called Shakti.

Disciple: It is said that on the physical plane, the man is active and the woman is passive — but on the higher planes, the man is passive and receptive while the woman inspires.

Sri Aurobindo: In the physical plane the woman is more active than the man. The woman is more practical — when the man beats about the bush as to what is to be done in a certain crisis, the woman instinctively perceives the right course and runs directly to it. Thus the male politicians are knocking their head about whether they should carry on co-operation, responsive-cooperation or obstruction—a woman in such a case would have found out something by intuition and gone directly to practical work.

Disciple: It is hoped that women will be more successful in politics.

Sri Aurobindo: Yes that is quite likely.

Disciple: But women have never been creators — there never have been great female poets or artists and so forth.

Sri Aurobindo: They have not got full opportunities — they have had to live in an atmosphere where they could not receive any push to do the best things they are capable of. So you cannot judge women from their past as to what they can do or cannot do. Let them have the open field for generations, and then it will be proper to judge them.

So far as can be seen, the women are more developed in the psychical being and the man in the mental.

Women can be great poets, but they cannot be philosophers — as they are not capable of high generalization and abstractions.

                                                             *

The instances that have been known show that a uniform sex-line is continued through various births. But a change of sex does not seem to be impossible — for each sex has to a certain extent the characteristics of the other sex. There is a classical example, how Sikhandi was a woman in the previous birth, who practised tapasyā so that she might become a man and kill Bhisma.

                                                             *

The theory of the evolutionists is very plausible, that there has been an upward evolution from the animal to the man — there may be inaccuracies in the details described by them, but on the whole it seems to be correct. The ancient Indians through their Yogic insight formed the idea of similar evolution, which the modern scientists are finding out by observation and research. In the Tantras this kind of evolution has been described in detail. Even they enumerate the exact number of births through which one has to pass in order to become a man. (“Travelling through eighty lac births, I have attained human birth.”)

Disciple: But that refers to different births and not to hereditary evolution.

Sri Aurobindo: Yes, that is a manner of expressing the same truth. The hereditary principle was very strongly emphasized by the Indians.

The Indian theory of evolution is: the Inconscient is gradually manifesting what is involved in it — there is first the material principle, then comes the vital, then the mental. The Upanishads speak of animals as the tamasic sarga out of which men have evolved.

Disciple: All this evolution is in the lower Prakriti?

Sri Aurobindo: What is lower? That is in the course of evolution of Prakriti.

Disciple: I refer to the distinction between aparā and parā — how does the one pass on to the other? We speak of the higher consciousness coming from the above — that is not involved in the lower Prakriti?

Sri Aurobindo: The mental and vital also have come from above. It is the pressure from above which brings forth these developments, these progressive manifestations. The material principle need not have changed — it would have continued but for the pressure from above, which evolved the vital in it. When the highest consciousness comes forth, it is not called a manifestation or evolution — it is always there, the same.

Disciple: It is not possible for the intellect to grasp all things.

Sri Aurobindo: The intellect cannot even grasp physical phenomena unless there is experience. You cannot grasp anything before having experiences.

                                                              *

We speak of the evil forces in the vital plane but we must remember that there are many things in the vital which open themselves to the higher forces.

Disciple: Are the vital forces — Rakshasas etc. — evolved from the physical principle?

Sri Aurobindo: No, these have no evolution.

Disciple: What then is their origin?

Sri Aurobindo: They come from the universal.

                                                             *

Disciple: There is a view that the sex-impulse contains in it a great creative power.

Sri Aurobindo: Sex-impulse is certainly the greatest force in the vital plane; if it can be sublimated and turned upwards, ojas is created which is a great help to the attainment of higher consciousness.

Disciple: The very term Brahmacharya implies that.

Sri Aurobindo: Yes, but mere restraint is not sufficient.

                                                             *

27 July 1926 (Evening)

X was despatched to Bengal this evening. Starvation had made him quite sane — at least temporarily.

Sri Aurobindo remarked that the force which possessed him did not evidently enjoy the starvation, so it withdrew.   

Disciple: We hope his cure will be permanent.

Sri Aurobindo: Let us not hope anything.

When his money was not forthcoming and he could not be sent back, I was thinking of placing him in charge of somebody who would starve him as long as he talked about psychic manifestations; then an association might have been formed between hunger and these manifestations and he could have a chance of getting rid of them, thereby getting rid of the possession also.

                                                             *

Y referred to the possibility of a sixth sense possessed by the plant, as J. C. Bose had suggested in a recent lecture that “some of his records showed a characteristic modification due to the presence of certain persons, a modification persisting even after the exclusion of the factor of radiation from the human body.”

Sri Aurobindo: This emotional reaction in plants can be felt if one can enter into the right consciousness, but it may not be possible to prove this scientifically; as for instance, our system of Yoga, we cannot prove the truth of it — Yoga is to be done and not proved.

The ancient Indians long ago had the idea of consciousness and feeling in plants.

Disciple: Is there consciousness and feeling in minerals?

Sri Aurobindo: Yes, but very much in the background; in the plant it is much nearer the surface. Every individual plant has a being behind it, which the Greeks called the Dryads, which takes pleasure in the life of the plant.

                                                             *

(A boy was going singing through the street.)

Sri Aurobindo: Do you think it is the body only who is enjoying that song?

Disciple: Then, human beings are nothing but playthings — mere stages where other forces enjoy themselves.

Sri Aurobindo: What do you mean by the human beings? The physical, the vital, the mental — these are certainly stages where all sorts of forces have their play.

Disciple: How can one protect himself from these forces?

Sri Aurobindo: By being careful — by establishing a harmony in your nature. You have to reach your central being from where you can take the help of whatever forces you like or throw away others.

Disciple: Have these forces no other serious business than amusing themselves by committing mischief on us? For example, do they not quarrel among themselves as the Hindus and the Mahomedans are quarrelling?

Sri Aurobindo: Don’t you think that there are other than human forces who enjoy these riots? Some goad on the Hindus, others incite the Mahomedans and thus they are having a good fight.

Disciple: Do they fight among themselves?

Sri Aurobindo: Why are you thinking of fighting only? They may cooperate and combine.

                                                             *

Sri Aurobindo: When something falls on you — say a pencil or pen — do you think it is quite mechanical? No, there is some being behind which pushes it upon you —the mechanical portion is only the portion you see. I sometimes have felt a push —without there being anything material.

Disciple: What is the purpose of such a push?

Sri Aurobindo: Amusement or enjoyment by some being. These beings are small — of very little power.

                                                              *

Referring to a recent statement of B, Sri Aurobindo said that whenever he likes he can be as stupid as anything. He has a sort of ingenious intellect and gives reasons for things, which constantly change. He has no courage, no stamina, absolutely no practical insight, so he has never been a leader. When in Calcutta Tilak was struggling against the Moderates like Pherozeshah Mehta, he had to do everything himself, B being of no use. I was then not in politics. B was contemplating to start his Bande Mataram — a daily paper, with Rs. 500 only as his capital — the thing could not have lasted for more than 20 days. When I came over to Bengal, I found the people had no practical ideas, absolutely no political programme. We had to destroy the prestige of the Moderate Party and establish a popular party — so I began to criticize Surendranath. B was then in the mofussil — doing propaganda for us that Tilak should be made the president of the Congress that year, which was eventually presided over by Dadabhai Naoroji. B complained of my attacks on Surendranath — but of course I did not mind that. Once we went to tour in eastern Bengal — B, Saroj Sen and myself; we wanted to know first hand what sort of people were they over whom Sir Bamfield Fuller ruled. At Comilla B gave a fiery speech — hinting at bullets and cannons and so forth. Our programme was to go to Brahmanberia. The Bengali magistrate there — too enthusiastic in the Government cause — threatened that he would arrest B if he came there to lecture. This unnerved B. He found out an ingenious argument for not going to Brahmanberia. He said we should befool the Government by going to places where they did not expect us and not going to places where they expected us. I said, “We were going nowhere, but to Brahmanberia.” Then B collapsed and consented to go with us.

Mahendra Nandy and others tried their best to make a leader of him. Once there was a riot and he was told to go to the place of occurrence and pacify the people by his speeches. He refused by saying — “I am not going to step in that snare.”

His idea was that the Government had engineered that riot in order to have an occasion to arrest B. In this manner he lost his chance of leadership.

He was touring in South India and had a programme of lectures in different places, but as soon as he heard of deportation he fled to Calcutta leaving his tour unaccomplished.

When he came back from England and made an apology to the Government, he lost all prestige. It is for breaking the prestige of leaders that the Government exact apologies.

Why was B allowed to go to the Assembly?

Disciple: Das had a soft corner for him.

Sri Aurobindo: That old thing. He was all along supported by Das who gave him a lot of money, but he did not feel the least hesitation to turn round against him.

He is extremely selfish, weak and impractical.

Disciple: What about S?

Sri Aurobindo: S is S. He was a good subordinate. In my absence he wrote in the Bande Mataram — he somehow managed, but he did not write so well as he himself thought. He imitated my style. At that time he was not so hysterical as he is now. He has great vanity and has been spoiled by the people. This always happens when a person is placed in a position for which he is not fit.

Disciple: What about B. C.? Was he in politics at that time?

Sri Aurobindo: No, he was practising as a lawyer and used to arrange for apologies for his clients. He suggested to me that I could escape by giving an apology. I had no objection, but I was not going to do that. He arranged for the apology of Aswini Kumar and Banerji.

                                                             *

Disciple: Why should the communal question be allowed to be mixed up with politics? When we fight with the Government we should keep apart this domestic quarrel.

Sri Aurobindo: There, again, you ignore facts — that is the fault of people who depend only on their mind. The communal question has already been mixed up with politics and it a few of you take a united stand against the Government, of what avail will that be? The mistake was first committed in the Lucknow Pact and then by Gandhi in the Khilafat movement.

                                                             *

28 July 1926 (Evening)

Sjt. Gourhari Some through a letter asked several questions.

Sri Aurobindo: It would require a volume to answer all these questions.

Disciple: You can give short answers.

Sri Aurobindo took the list of questions[2]and went on answering one by one:

Q. 1: How does Vaishnava Sadhana lack in integrality?

Sri Aurobindo: I said that from the standpoint of my own Yoga. Vaishnava Sadhana is based on Bhakti — of course the other principles may be said to be included in Bhakti, but Vaishnavas depend on it directly; in my sadhana, stress is laid on all the principles and they are united in something higher.

Q. 2: In this Iron Age of Kali, is it proper to limit one’s sadhana to the repetition of God’s Name: “Nothing else but the Name of Hari”, harernāmaiva kevalam, as they say.

Sri Aurobindo: This is only one kind of sadhana and is not the only one, and in order to be effective must be done in the proper manner. Mere mechanical repetition of the name of God is useless.

Q. 3: If the declaration “Krishna is God Himself”, krsnstu bhagavān svayam, is at all true, what validity can there be in the worship of others than Krishna?

Sri Aurobindo: Krishna is one of many manifestations of God and the only meaning there can be in the phrase is that in Krishna, the manifestation of God was the fullest. When an Avatar comes, he comes to fulfil a certain purpose —and he sets flowing a stream which is to develop in many waves and to continue the worship of the same Avatar in the same form would defeat the purpose of Avatarhood. No Avatar was ever meant to be worshipped for ever.

Then again, worship of different manifestations of God may be suitable to different natures and thus there cannot be any hard and fast rule that the worship of Krishna only is justified.

Q. 4: Why do some men become ardent seekers of Swaraj and not of moksa or liberation?

Sri Aurobindo: The desire for Swaraj is only one of the many desires which sway men in the human plane. When a current comes for the struggle for Swaraj, people are carried by it. The desire for Moksha is the desire to rise above the human plane to a higher life. These two calls are quite distinct and come to men according to the state of development of their soul and personality.

Q. 5: Is the freedom of one’s motherland linked in any way with one’s personal salvation?

Sri Aurobindo: There is no indispensable connection between spiritual sadhana and patriotic work. A man may seek his individual salvation without thinking anything about his country or one may be a great patriot or a liberator of his country without doing any sadhana for his individual salvation; one can also combine the two — as some of us did before. We did political work in the spirit of Karmayoga, as a sacrifice to God; at least we tried to do political work as a part of our sadhana. Which course a man should follow must be decided by himself according to his needs and inner call.

Q. 6: What is there to prompt a man to belittle his personal salvation and take to the service of his motherland? If divorced from spiritual interest, will it not be well nigh impossible to find people who will genuinely devote themselves to a life-long service of their country?

Sri Aurobindo: As already said, everyone is not actuated by the same desire, same call. While some will be called to the spiritual life, there will always be others to carry on the work for the good of the country: such workers will never be wanting.

Q. 7: Is there any place in one’s spiritual sadhana for the effort towards the liberation of one’s country?

Sri Aurobindo: As already said, the two things are quite distinct — but one may work for the liberation of his country as a sacrifice to the highest, as Karmayoga. But there is no necessary connection between the two.

Q. 8: Can the sadhaks of the Yoga of Devotion and the Yoga of Knowledge help the process of the country’s liberation through some worldly action?

Sri Aurobindo: Yogis generally serve the world — and that is the best way for them —by exerting their Yogic force, which is too subtle to be apparent to all. But if they choose to work in the ordinary field of action, they will do whatever act is necessary for the object in view and will back that act by whatever spiritual force there is in them.

Q. 9: For a servant of the motherland what are the means to be adopted in order to acquire Shakti or Power?

Sri Aurobindo: That must depend on the kind of Shakti he wants — physical, moral or spiritual.

Q. 10: If the dīksā or spiritual initiation is found necessary, should one be guided by one’s family tradition? Works may be necessary till the purification of the heart, cittaśuddhi, is effected. Is not patriotic work a botheration after that?

Sri Aurobindo: The two questions seem to be quite different. As to the first question, one should consult his own nature and not be guided by empty conventions; thus if one feels called to the Vaishnavic Sadhana, he should accept that whether that be his family tradition or not.

As regards cittaśuddhi and work, my opinion is that no work can be done properly and perfectly unless there is purification or cittaśuddhi. Divine work can begin only after the purification of the ādhāra.

Q. 11: What programme should be followed at present in the field of patriotic work? Is there any other way apart from the programme of constructive activity as given by Mahatma Gandhi?

Sri Aurobindo: I am not in the political field and cannot answer this question.

Q. 12: So far as religions and political movements are concerned, it is seen that the rise and fall of a country and its people are linked with the advent or otherwise of some great men. How is the rise of India going to be effected in the near future?

Sri Aurobindo: I cannot answer this question.

It is not true that the rise and fall of nations is always accompanied by the rise of great men. There was no mahāpurusa (great man) during the Swadeshi movement in Bengal.

Q. 13: Is Sri Aurobindo’s sadhana directly received from a Guru? Does Sri Aurobindo consider any Tantric Sadhu of Bengal to be as his Guru?

Sri Aurobindo: No.

Q. 14: “At one time India will conquer and spiritualize the West”: every Indian expects from his heart that it is Sri Aurobindo who will accomplish this task. How is this fulfilment to come?

Sri Aurobindo did not answer this question.

Q. 15: If the sadhana as propounded by Sri Aurobindo is on new lines, should he not come out and publicly propagate it, following the examples of Sri Shankara and Sri Chaitanya?

Sri Aurobindo: I have no intention of going out for doing propaganda work like Shankara or Chaitanya. Moreover, I do not lay down plans for my future work — I depend on the higher consciousness and whenever in that consciousness I know that something is to be done, I do it.

Q. 16: Is there any hope of Sri Aurobindo coming out of his seclusion and participating in some political movement sometime in the future?

Sri Aurobindo: There is very little chance of it.

Q. 17: In which sense did he make this statement: “I possess strength in my feet to uplift this fallen nation.”

Sri Aurobindo: I have said thousands of things and it is not possible for me to explain now what I exactly meant by anything in the past. I think I said “in my body” and not “in my feet”. It must have been a misprint.

Q. 18: “Practise in your own life what you preach to others.” Is this principle of conduct still valid in this Kali Yuga? If so, should one seek to follow in one’s life all that has happened in the life of Sri Aurobindo?

Sri Aurobindo: He should ask himself and not me for an answer to this question.

Generally speaking, Sri Aurobindo said: The questioner is living in a certain plane of consciousness and I have to answer from a higher plane, so that all my answers can neither be intelligible nor useful to him. As regards my own work, I do not make plans but do things as they come to me in the higher consciousness. As regards his seeking after spiritual life, he must himself decide whether he should take to this life and from what Guru he should take his initiation.

                                                             *

29 July 1926 (Evening)

Disciple: What is the use and significance of celebrating the birth of Krishna, Radha, etc.

Sri Aurobindo: The same significance as any other religious festival.

Disciple: Is there any special spiritual possibility on such birthdays?

Sri Aurobindo: No; in the first place, these birthdays are quite conventional; nobody knows on what day or at what time they were actually born, if born at all. Thus the Christians settled by a conference in the 13th century the day on which they should celebrate the birth of Christ. Secondly, these religious festivals generally give occasion to a great play of the dark vital forces which are not at all helpful to spirituality.

Disciple: Are not these festivals in any way useful to the spiritual life of a people?

Sri Aurobindo: They are useful to the religious life (they develop a certain kind of Bhakti), not to the spiritual.

Disciple: What is the distinction?

Sri Aurobindo: There is a great distinction between the two — thus animals are sacrificed and the heart offered to the gods and many other similar ceremonies. What have they to do with the manifestation of the spirit or the higher power?

Disciple: Those are mere forms and ceremonies.

Sri Aurobindo: Do they not belong to religion?

Disciple: They are not the whole of it.

Sri Aurobindo: What else is there?

Disciple: Some sort of a relation with a higher being is sought to be established.

Sri Aurobindo: There is no relation to anything spiritual — generally the vital devils are worshipped in these festivals.

Disciple: But this is only when religion degenerates.

Sri Aurobindo: It degenerates everywhere. Take the forms of the Roman Catholic religion. What is there but obscurantism and oppression? It is only a play of the dark vital forces. Of course there are those who are able to perceive the truth behind these festivals.

Disciple: As the Gita says, people worship demons or gods according to their śraddhā.

Sri Aurobindo: Yes.

Disciple: Thus the religious festivals are nothing more than so many national holidays. What is the national value of festivals?

Sri Aurobindo: Yes, there are occasions for vital enjoyment.

                                                             *

Disciple: What is the significance of the birthday celebration of a man?

Sri Aurobindo: It is little more than the other celebrations.

Disciple: Is not the birthday of any man of special importance to him?   

Sri Aurobindo: Why should it be so?

Disciple: Because, on that day the jīva takes the body and renews the process of his evolution.

Sri Aurobindo: From that standpoint, not the birthday, but the moment of conception should be of importance. But as that cannot be ascertained, the people have made a sort of convention to celebrate the day on which a person is born. There would be some meaning if the day on which the man gets the higher consciousness is declared.

Disciple: You say that on your birthdays you see a huge change in your consciousness.

Sri Aurobindo: I have never said that. As a matter of fact, the first great change in my consciousness occurred in Baroda in the month of January.

Disciple: Then what is the significance of celebrating the 15th August as your birthday?

Sri Aurobindo: That is little more than a convention — a mode of commemorating things. We concentrate on a certain day and thus a condition is created for some higher possibilities. As a matter of fact, I several times got some light on or near about the 15th August.

Disciple: We expect to get some illumination on the 15th.

Sri Aurobindo: That depends on the conditions to be created by those who are here. If they can have a widespread calm and a receptive attitude, then higher things may descend. But it does not depend on any particular day, it may occur any day when the proper conditions are created.

For the last two years, I found only dark vital forces playing on the 15th August —there was no spiritual illumination. There was a great disturbance due, firstly to the attention that is given to formalities and the kitchen affair and secondly to the fact that all sorts of men try to come here on that day — they cannot harmonize themselves with the atmosphere and create disturbance for others. I should like that the day should be passed calmly instead of subjecting myself to giving answers to intellectual questions, I should communicate with you in supramental silence.

Disciple: You have no objection to garlanding?

Sri Aurobindo: Very much.

Disciple: Then give us a plan for the 15th August.

Sri Aurobindo: I do not make plans.

                                                             *

30 July 1926

Disciple: What is the significance of trisandhyā?

Sri Aurobindo: These are joining points; at such times you are more open both to hostile forces as well as to higher influences. Especially the evening is the time for the Rakshasas.

Disciple: Why is this so?

Sri Aurobindo: That I cannot say, but it is a fact.

Disciple: Is there any time when we are safe from the attack of the hostile forces?

Sri Aurobindo: No.

Disciple: There is a view that the śuklapaksa is more favourable for spiritual sadhana, while the krsnapaksa is less.

Sri Aurobindo: Yes, there is truth in that; similar is the case with the Uttarāyana and the Daksināyana.

As a matter of fact, at all turning points the forces become very active.

Disciple: You were born at a turning point of time.

Sri Aurobindo: When?

Disciple: Just before sunrise on the last day of the month of śrāvana.

                                                             *

Disciple: What is the truth about omens — evil omens and good omens?

Sri Aurobindo: If you believe in these things, then forces are created which cause the events portended.

Disciple: There have been instances in my life when coming events were indicated to the mind beforehand.

Sri Aurobindo: That is quite common and is known as premonition. There are innumerable beings — beings of small power — who surround you and take interest in your affairs. Often they help. They know what is going to happen and often give warnings; if you have the power you can understand these communications. There are persons who are able to read these indications and they often suffer whenever they neglect these indications.

Disciple: There is a theory that the pineal gland in man serves as the receiver in telepathy. These glands are most highly developed in the high class Hindus.

Sri Aurobindo: There is this much truth in such theories that external forces communicate through special parts in the body. Thus the Westerners say that the brain is the seat of the mind, but the fact is that the brain is only the organ of communication between the mind and the body.

Thus fear attacks us at the bowels; if you observe it carefully you will find that it enters at the bowels and then rises upwards.

Disciple: I always felt fear as coming at my back.

Sri Aurobindo: What kind of fear?

Disciple: In my childhood I was afraid only of ghosts.

Sri Aurobindo: But that is nervous fear, and attacks through the back — (the spinal chord?). Vital fear always comes through the bowels.

Disciple: What about modesty of women?

Sri Aurobindo: Modesty is not an emotion — it is something mental.

Disciple: I got rid of the fear of ghosts when I began to understand that ghosts do not break out necks.

Sri Aurobindo: I had fear of ghosts when I did not believe in their existence; but when I came to believe in their existence, the fear of ghosts left me.

Disciple: What is the nature of ghosts? Do they appear with forms and figures — as apparitions?

Sri Aurobindo: Apparitions may arise from various causes.

Disciple: Do ghosts assume forms?

Sri Aurobindo: But you must distinguish between English ghosts and Bengali bhūta. Ghost indicates the spirit of a man who is dead; bhūta is of a much wider meaning.

                                                             *

31 July 1926 (Evening)

X read a letter of Y in which he had described how for hours together he sat for sadhana, also numerous visions he saw, about which Sri Aurobindo said, “He has a cyclone of visions.”

Disciple: These lead nowhere — people have been known to see these visions for years without making any progress whatsoever. He sees all sorts of changes going on in the ādhāra without there being any actual change anywhere — they are like dramatic representations.

Sri Aurobindo: Yes, if leaving aside these dramatic representations, he sets to real work, he may hope to achieve something.

Disciple: His visions are just like those of the Chittagong group.

                                                             *

Sri Aurobindo was shown certain resolutions passed by the Brahmin Sabha in Calcutta recommending that abducted and raped women can be taken to society after prāyaścitta as the body requires purification. If idols are broken, they are to be replaced and this prāyaścitta is absolutely essential for well-to-do Hindus.

Sri Aurobindo: Why only well-to-do Hindus?

Disciple: Thus, the Brahmins get something.

Disciple: What is the utility of prāyaścitta?    

Sri Aurobindo: It is a religious ceremony which has nothing to do with the spiritual.

Disciple: What is the religious element here?

Sri Aurobindo: Bathing in the Ganges, feeding the Brahmins — what else are they?

Disciple: What is the purifying effect of the Ganges water?

Sri Aurobindo: No particular sanctity belongs to any water, but the faith a man has in the purifying effect may cause this purification.

Disciple: Is there not a social element in prāyaścitta?

Sri Aurobindo: What is that?

Disciple: It helps to maintain order and discipline.

Sri Aurobindo: But what is the fault of the raped woman herself — that she should be made to undergo a prāyaścitta?

Disciple: Otherwise there will be laxity of morals.

Sri Aurobindo: But these women are not lax.

Disciple: As it will be very hard to distinguish between actual lapses or forged outrages, the society is strict on all kinds of bodily impurification.

Sri Aurobindo: But that will be punishing the innocent, to prevent lapses on the part of others; all that is nonsense.

Disciple: To uphold these false ideals, people resort to all sorts of falsehood and hypocrisy.

Sri Aurobindo: Yes.

                                                             *

Disciple: The Karmi Sangha is working to break the Congress.

Sri Aurobindo: They may only break themselves.

                                                              *


[1] Anilbaran’s Note: Most Probably Arjuna meant ārya jāti, as is evidenced from Sri Krishna’s answer where he explains the ideas of the Aryans.

[2] There were eighteen questions asked by Gourhari. Some of these questions were written in Bengali in the records of Anilbaran. They are reproduced here in English translation.

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9 Comments

  1. Dayanand Jamalabad said,

    February 26, 2013 at 9:15 am

    Very very precious Conversations…I am reading them again and again..Thank you, Anurag

    Sent from my iPad

  2. Bhagavandas Lahoti said,

    February 26, 2013 at 6:54 pm

    Great treasure !
    Thanks.

  3. Naba Krishna Muni, Dhaka, Bangladesh, Cell: +8801711-148-569 said,

    February 27, 2013 at 3:34 am

    Let me digest and internalize. Keep continue.

  4. March 1, 2013 at 8:20 am

    […] Conversations with Sri Aurobindo recorded by Anilbaran Roy, Part 2 […]

  5. Anurag Banerjee said,

    March 9, 2013 at 8:13 am

    What follows is a song of Anilbaran translated into English from the original in Bengali by Sri Aurobindo:

    MAHALAKSHMI

    In lotus-groves Thy spirit roves: where shall I find a seat for Thee?
    To Thy feet’s tread—feet dawn-rose red—opening my heart Thy throne shall be.

    All things unlovely hurt Thy soul:
    I would become a stainless whole:

    O World’s delight, All-beauty’s might! unmoving house Thy grace in me.
    An arid heart Thou canst not bear:
    It is Thy will—love’s bonds to wear:

    Then by Thy sweetness’ magic completeness make me Thy love’s eternal sea.

    This translation was first published in Gitashri, a book of songs authored by Dilip Kumar Roy and Nishikanto Rai Chowdhury, under the title “The Mother.” In November 1935 Sri Aurobindo had made the following remark about the translation of Anilbaran’s song: “Anilbaran’s song is best rendered by an Elizabethan simplicity and intensity with as little artifice of metre and diction as possible. I have tried to do it in that way.”

  6. David said,

    September 19, 2013 at 3:26 pm

    These interviews offer a glimpse into the brilliance of Sri Aurobindo.
    Just incredible.

    • Raj said,

      December 3, 2013 at 2:52 pm

      I agree. Absolutely brilliant. Sri Aurobindo is a life saver!

  7. Kuldip Singh said,

    February 23, 2014 at 7:10 am

    in which book this conversation could be found?

  8. July 30, 2014 at 5:05 am

    Please, see Complete set of Anilbaran Roy Conversations with Sri Aurobindo and the Mother published as eBook on Auro e-Books. Ebook free download: pdf, epub, Kindle. Web linlk: http://www.auro-ebooks.com/anilbaran-roy-conversations-with-sri-aurobindo/


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