There is a question here, in fact it is a series of questions not one question, they are all very good questions. First is:
Question: Are Vedas history?
Answer: The word history has many meanings so I cannot immediately say: yes or no but if history by is meant something that has happened, a story of what has happened then there does not seem any doubt that the Vedic text do exist now before us and they could not be supposed to have arrived before us without their having been somewhere in the past their origin. In that sense Vedas form part of a long past history of the world, Vedas are supposed to be the most ancient texts available in the world. When they were composed, how they were composed, where they were composed are still questions being debated and they are very interesting questions but I do not like to enter into controversies of this kind because I find there are no crucial facts and people who are debating they are debating on conjectures, based upon conjectures. So it becomes a somewhat a futile exercise unless we get some crucial facts before us then it becomes very interesting but for our purpose it is enough to know that history of India is traced back to a time when Vedic lore was abroad in India and there are legends and there are stories which have been told regarding Rishis, their lives and so on and then there are commentaries available on the Vedas and the earliest of course are the Brahmanas themselves are the first commentaries on the Vedas and then Upanishads also are supposed to be a kind of a commentary on the Vedas. And therefore it is clear that Vedas pre-dated Brahmanas and Brahmanas pre-dated Upanishads, this much is quite clear if you study the history of India and Indian culture. Of course there is a theory that Vedas are eternal and they were always there, it’s not as if they came into being one day or over a certain stretch of time. To my mind this is a truth but a spiritual truth in the sense that the word that is used is the eternal Veda and it is said that the eternal Veda is secret in the heart of every living human being and that the knowledge that is in the Veda is not merely the text of the Veda but it manifests itself whenever there is a certain stage of development of man and he is in need of moving forward and then it manifests itself. This is a theory and if I accept the lives of many spiritual people and what they have said I am inclined to accept in that sense Vedas are eternal. The Vedic truths are manifested. There is also a view that Vedas are not only eternal but also infinite Vedaha anantaha. So to say that these Vedas are only these four texts that we find is also not actually spiritually true, in a sense you might say that whenever a human being develops into a certain state of consciousness, attains Rishihood the truths of eternal life, the truths of movement and truths of what ought to be done in a given situation is also revealed. So in that sense you may say that Vedas are eternal and infinite.
Another question is:
Question: Is it possible that some Agastya is talking even today to Indra and getting similar responses?
Answer: I personally think that Vedic texts are records of certain experiences and these experiences happen to be repeated in the human cycle and therefore they are very useful to the human beings in the journey. They do pass through stages which have been described in the dialogue between Agastya and Indra and we do go through. In fact it is said that the pitraras the fathers, the forefathers accomplished the yagya a kind of a sacrifice and they brought about certain results but they again get repeated, you have to do it again and again and again because there is in this world a cycle and this cycle moves in such a way that a certain principle is worked out and the details are worked out and the further details are worked out and then further details are worked out. It is said for example Durga comes every year to destroy the demons. She destroys the demons now this year and then again, there is a story that demons have the capacity to give birth to their further progeny and then they again begin to disturb the world and again Durga comes back and again she destroys them and she protects the bhaktas. Now this is a belief in India and it is a fact that until all the details of asuric progeny is worked out this has to be repeated. So in that sense you might say that even today Agastya is talking to Indra and Indra is replying.
Third question is:
Question: The knowledge in Vedas is supposed to be inclusive of everything. When something is discovered by modern science people say it is already mentioned in the Vedas.
Answer: This is a question of which I have no answer in one way or the other. If you say that knowledge means Veda then it is true. To me Veda means knowledge then there is a problem because of the text that we have of the Veda, that text how can we say that it is the full text. Even historically we know that this text is only an anthology. Vyasa made an anthology at a given time, out of the prevalent richas which must have been very widely circulating at that time. And Vyasa gave four visions of the time that were to come and to protect that knowledge he made a Samhita, he made an anthology. So I cannot say that all that is to be known is in the Veda and at the same time to say that Vedas are only barbaric prayers that also is a falsehood and to say that Vedas contain only spiritual knowledge and no other knowledge that also is not true. There is for example. I always refer to this interesting verse in the Rigveda. There is the Mandala six of Bhardwaja and there is a very interesting statement. It is addressed to Agni, it is a very interesting statement it says:
आ भानुना पार्थिवानि ज्रयांसि महस्तोदस्य धृषता ततन्थ ।
स बाधस्वाप भया सहोभिः स्पृधो वनुष्यन् वनुषो नि जूर्व ॥६॥
6) Thou hast spread out the earthly speed-ranges by thy light and the violence of thy mighty scourge. Repel by thy forceful powers all dangerous things; turn to conquer those who would conquer us, shatter our confronters.
Sri Aurobindo, Hymns to the Mystic Fire: Mandala Six
You take only one sentence of this kind Thou hast spread out the earthly speed-ranges by thy light... It is a very interesting statement, it is the sixth Mandala, sixth sukta and sixth verse, easy to remember from that point of view - 6,6,6. Thou hast spread out the earthly speed-ranges by thy light that is to say that all the other speed ranges in the world which are earthly are lesser than the speed of light. So the speed of light as far as the physical speed is concerned, maybe other speeds even higher than the physical speed as it is said that consciousness has a speed greater than the speed of light but it is parthivan the earthly speed ranges, it is very significant word Thou hast spread out the earthly speed-ranges by thy light. Now how did the Vedic Rishis, how did they come to know that there are earthly speed ranges that itself is a wonderful statement. To say that there was a concept of earthly speed ranges and it says all the speed ranges, it is not only a few speed ranges, all the earthly speed ranges that means they are aware of all kinds of speeds in the world. And then they are also aware of how they could have been spread out by the light, what’s the connection between light-speed and other speeds. Now whatever may be the meaning that one may derive out of it and one is free to whatever way one can say but this is a statement, it's a text already available.
He has put a question which is very interesting.
Question: When something is discovered by modern science people say it is already in the Vedas.
Answer: This I know that rather, not very fair. Whenever somebody says: look this is what now modern science says is, but why then Vedic people not did come forward and say: look many things are still there and this is what is given there and we can tell in the future modern science will discover it, I do believe it is not very fair but if it happens I mean sometimes you are not struck by certain piece of knowledge, even if you read it when somebody puts out and then says: Oh! My lord, this was the meaning here, then you can say how it is also in the Veda. So it is also quite understandable. But it is true, in fact one of my friends used to say that all you Vedic scholars they are very unfair to the modern world or to the world because if they have read the Vedas quite well, if they know all that Veda contains, why don’t they tell out and why do they come out only when somebody else discovers then they say: Oh, it is already here. A friend of mine says that now you prepare a list of things which are in the Veda and foretell that modern science will discover these things because they are already in the Veda. Why don’t you do that kind of thing, it’s a big challenge, I know that, there is no doubt about it but I have no answer to that question. I have only to say that it is not very fair.
Question: Is it possible to use knowledge in Vedas for experiments, inventions in modern science?
Answer: It could be because I have heard the story of somebody who wrote a book on aeroplanes and I have seen that book, it is published by somebody and the story is that somebody got direct intimations in his trance and he wrote down and it is published and he says that he received it from Bharadwaja. Now it is true that Bharadwaja is very famous in the Vedic tradition as the discoverer of many scientific truths. Now if you read this book, you will find that the author mentions different kinds of planes then the planes that we now know. One of the planes that is described is that as it flies above it has a machine below which can see what is under the earth, not on the earth but what is under the earth. So that as you fly you can also x-ray the earth and you can find out what is below the earth. Now if this kind of experiment of whatever is said there is available, it is in the book, it is not secret. Now such an invention I don’t know could be possible. If the human body can be x-rayed, why should not earth be x-rayed and why should therefore not be possible for us to find out what is below the earth. In which case where petroleum lies and where diamonds are lying and where gold is lying below the earth could be seen by an x-ray machine while flying in the plane. It has also given some kind of metals, which metals can be combined together to produce that kind of metal which can x-ray that also is given in that book. It is very interesting but now a friend of mine was in Bombay and he was experimenting upon a discovery or invention of that kind of metal, he claimed that he had almost come to the conclusion but this was about fifteen, twenty years ago and thereafter I have not met him. But some people may be working, one does not know and maybe that someday, somebody may find out but personally I don’t deal with speculation and that is not my field and I simply am interested in the psychological development of man and from whatever I have learnt in the Veda so far is extremely helpful to the psychological development and therefore I can simply say the Veda does contain verifiable scientific knowledge in regard to the development of human being and possibility of man to rise to higher levels of consciousness, is all that my claim is. Physics, chemistry, biology and other sciences one has to dig out, I cannot say it doesn’t contain. Our friend here has written a book on Vedic physics and I am eager to read it when it is published. So there are many books which are being suggested, in fact at one time I had undertaken a big programme of digging out all that can be called scientific knowledge, - jalvidhya and thalvidya and so on and even in agriculture for example a friend of mine wrote a book on agriculture in the Veda, it’s a good book by itself, it’s a very interesting book. So as you make inquiry into the Veda you do find very many elements which are very interesting, very surprising. So what kind of knowledge, what is the wealth of knowledge in the Veda, I cannot say but at the same time I don’t make a claim of what I do not know, of what one has not experienced and many of the things need to be proved also because I have seen many claims for example even here in Rajasthan one Dr M.L Gupta, he gave me a thesis in which he has said modern physics in the Veda and he has tried to show many astronomical facts and so on. A friend of mine in Hyderabad, Dr Siddhartha, is a physicist but he has a great interest in the Vedic literature and he finds a lot of astronomical knowledge in the Veda. Of course that Veda has astronomical knowledge is known but there are many facts of astronomy which are still unknown and which can still be dug out if one takes trouble and this is the claim of the friend of mine Dr Siddhartha, he says there is lot of astronomical knowledge which is still not uncovered by the modern scientists this is all I can tell you about the subject but I cannot say I know about it, I can claim about it. I can only say that scientific spirit demands that whenever you make a statement you should be able to prove it, do not make a statement which you cannot prove, be modest, there may be many, many things as Sri Aurobindo has said that there is a science in the Veda which even the modern days, which is even not recognised as science. So today our scientific range is only a small range, tomorrow scientific range may be expanded. Sri Aurobindo says there is a science in Veda which is not even recognised as science today. So this is how I can only inform you of what I have told, whatever little study I have made, share with you and I can only say that there is a definite yogic knowledge in the Veda and this is my field and I can say that much.
Today is my last day of the present series and I was describing yesterday the Yoga of the Veda and I had almost completed the whole description of this yoga of the Veda in very brief summary form, starting from Agni and reaching up to Surya and Ananda the triple seat of the Reality Satchidananda. Now there is one very important question which is still to be covered. In this brief statement that I have made and this is the question of what ultimately is said to have been achieved by the Vedic seers, what was their highest realisation and the word that is used in the Veda for the highest realisation is immortality. The one thing that the Vedic Rishis have put forth before mankind is the goal of immortality. We are all mortal and we are all in need, in search, whether we like it or not, whether we want it or not, whether we aspire for it or not; ultimately all human beings are aiming at immortality and according to the Veda the Vedic Rishis attained to immortality and therefore they have laid out the path by which this immortality can be won. In fact that path by which immortality can be attained is what has come to be called vidhya; the real knowledge is that knowledge by which you can rise from mortality to immortality, - vidya amritam ashnute that is in the Ishopanishad. By avidya you cross over the death and by vidhya you attain to immortality and enjoy immortality − ashnute, that is Ananda of immortality. So I would like to dwell upon this concept of immortality in the Veda and I have with me here a short statement from Sri Aurobindo which gives one statement on immortality, there are many statements but here I would like to refer to only one for the sake of brevity. This is what Sri Aurobindo says is actually a full chapter written by Sri Aurobindo called ‘The Victory of the Fathers’, what the Vedic Rishis attained. In the second paragraph of the passage which I have given you, I’ll read with you:
In order to hold clearly in our minds at the start what that great achievement was we may put before ourselves the clear and sufficient formulas in which Parashara Shaktya expresses them. “Our fathers broke open the firm and strong places by their words, yea, the Angirases broke open the hill by their cry; they made in us the path to the great heaven; they found the Day and Swar and vision and the luminous Cows,” cakrur divo bṛhato gātum asme, ahaḥ svar vividuḥ ketum usrāḥ, (I.71.2). This path, he tells us, is the path which leads to immortality; “they who entered into all things that bear right fruit formed a path towards the immortality; earth stood wide for them by the greatness and by the Great Ones, the mother Aditi with her sons came (or, manifested herself) for the upholding” (I.72.9).
And this is a very important statement.
“they who entered into all things that bear right fruit formed a path towards the immortality; earth stood wide for them by the greatness and by the Great Ones, the mother Aditi with her sons came (or, manifested herself) for the upholding” (I.72.9).
I have put down in Sanskrit:
आ ये विश्वा स्वपत्यानि तस्थुः कृण्वानासो अमृतत्वाय गातुम् |
मह्ना महद्भिः पृथिवी वि तस्थे माता पुत्रैर् अदितिर् धायसे वेः ||
ā ye viśvā svapatyāni tasthuḥ kṛṇvānāso amṛtatvāya gātum |
mahnā mahadbhiḥ pṛthivī vi tasthe mātā putrair aditir dhāyase veḥ ||
The Veda 1.72.9
Now Sri Aurobindo makes a slight comment on this statement which is very illuminating. He says:
That is to say, the physical being visited by the greatness of the infinite planes above and by the power of the great godheads who reign on those planes breaks its limits, opens out to the Light and is upheld in its new wideness by the infinite Consciousness, mother Aditi, and her sons, the divine Powers of the supreme Deva. This is the Vedic immortality.
Then Sri Aurobindo says:
This is the Vedic immortality.
Now I may refer to two or three words of this statement of Sri Aurobindo, one is that the physical being, this immortality has something to do with the physical being. Then the second point is that this physical being breaks its limits, this is the second point. The normal limits of the physical being are broken and thirdly that when the limits are broken then it opens out to the light, the physical being opens out to the light and then it is upheld in its new wideness, there is a physical consciousness which is limited, the limits are crossed and are broken and it opens out to the light and it is upheld in its new wideness. It becomes very wide in its consciousness but by what, by the infinite consciousness and that infinite consciousness the Veda says is the Mother Aditi and her sons that is to say the divine powers or the supreme Deva that is devahi that is the gods. Aditi and the gods uphold that new wideness which has now become the nature of the physical being because it has crossed its limits. So this is a cryptic statement of what is Vedic immortality.
Now that in India we know that we have moksha, a word which is very well used as the highest aim, we aim at moksha and the question is whether moksha means this, what is given here. It is for philosophers and seekers of knowledge to make a comment on it but this is the exact text, the text says it speaks of the physical being prithvi vitaste that’s the important point. In the immortality the physical being becomes widened and in the widening of this a role is played by the gods and by the Supreme Divine Mother and it is because the body comes to be upheld in its wideness that the state of immortality is achieved. There are many speculations one can have and one can dispute one meaning or the other and I do not normally like disputes, I like to see the exact text and to try to see what the text itself says and nothing more and nothing less and the rest if you do, you should say these are speculations, these are our interpretations and they may be quite interesting and they may be very illuminating and we should do it. But these disputations have a limit and we should not take one position against the other. When we examine the question of moksha as it is described in various systems of yoga and various philosophical systems in India, I do not find that they refer to physical being, I do not find they refer to the wideness attained by the physical being. And that is why I say there is a difference between what is said here and what is normally spoken of in the text regarding moksha and that is why did the Veda aim at moksha or aim at something different, or higher, or something quite different. Now this is a study which I have been doing for quite some time and in Sri Aurobindo also I have made a study particularly in the Life Divine because there also there is one full chapter is given in the Life Divine to Rebirth, Soul, Karma and Immortality this is the title of the chapter - Rebirth, Soul, Karma and Immortality. So it is certainly connected with this question of the soul, immortality and the whole theory of karma as interpreted by Sri Aurobindo and of course this theory of karma is put forward by Sri Aurobindo is not the kind of theory which we normally come across in our popular understanding of the karma theory. Now when you study this Sri Aurobindo speaks of essential immortality and consequential immortality. Essential immortality according to Sri Aurobindo is the realisation of the Supreme Satchidananda. It is the knowledge of the infinite and eternal being, which is immortal because in its very nature, it is eternal and infinite and when one realises identity with that then one is immortal. Sri Aurobindo maintains that that is essential immortality, if you do not know that immortality then consequential immortalities are not possible. But the consequential immortalities are three, mental immortality, vital immortality and physical immortality. And there is also a fifth immortality and that is the immortality of the soul as distinguished from the immortality of the infinite and eternal Reality. So let me explain this concept as I find in Sri Aurobindo.
There is in us according to Sri Aurobindo a soul. Now according to several theories like Buddhism does not admit the existence of a soul, it admits only a conglomeration of karma which is formed by continuous development, momentarily developing but creating a sense of continuity and therefore felt as something that is continually present, the same thing but according to the Buddhism is not the same thing. In the Advaita Vedanta there is a belief in Jiva but this Jiva is nothing but the Brahman itself which is seen by avidya as Jiva but just as avidya is illusion, so similarly the Jiva also is illusion therefore what is real is only the Brahman and when this Brahman is realised, by whom that is question mark but when this Brahman is realised that state of realisation of Brahman maybe regarded as state of immortality, state of moksha. In the philosophy of Jainism there is a recognition of the soul, it is that which is conscious, a being which is conscious but a conscious being which is caught in the game of karma and these karmas on this earth as we live by have to be exhausted, have to be worked out, have to be destroyed and when they are destroyed then one attains to a state of consciousness, pure consciousness and since the soul is always immortal, it is eternal that immortality is realised and now it is free from all limitations of karma, it is free and it is immortal. In some other philosophies where soul is recognised as an entity like in Dvaita philosophy or Vishishta Advaita philosophy, in many systems of Bhakti yoga the soul as an entity which can have relationship with the Supreme is recognised and this soul is however according to these philosophies is at present engulfed by the agyana, some avidya, ignorance and therefore it is bound and when one is able to throw away this agyana and one becomes aware of its eternal existence in the Supreme then one is supposed to be mukta, moksha and one attains that state of immortality, you might say.
Now Sri Aurobindo maintains that the soul, this is very much like in the Bhagavad Gita where the Jivatman is described as para prakritir jiva bhuta and another statement where Sri Krishna says that Jiva is, mam eva amsha sanatana that Jiva or the soul is my eternal portion - mam eva amsha sanatana. Now these two statements are the key to Sri Aurobindo’s description of the individual, each one of us is an individual here on the earth and developing from stage to stage and when he realises, when the soul realises his oneness or his being a portion of the Supreme then he realises his immortality and that is moksha. In this respect Sri Aurobindo’s view of moksha is not different very largely from many views of moksha which are prevalent in India. But Sri Aurobindo finds this idea further developed in the Veda and this concept of the physical being experiencing its wideness and upheld by Aditi is also accepted by Sri Aurobindo when he speaks of three other immortalities - mental immortality, vital immortality and physical immortality. The mental immortality according to Sri Aurobindo is the immortality of the mental being, when that mental being on its surface becomes individualised by the power of the psychic consciousness, soul consciousness or psychic consciousness that is to say each psychic being or each individual has an individual consciousness. This individual consciousness is not normally reflected in our mental, vital and physical being. Our mental formation is a fluctuating development, our mind develops, grows and then it disintegrates sometimes, sometimes integrates, sometimes even our memories fail and even in this body itself our mind becomes disintegrated. Similarly, our life force also becomes disintegrated from time to time again repaired, body also gets disintegrated and repairs and so on. Now all this happens because according to Sri Aurobindo there is a double movement in the world, there is a movement by which our small little formations constantly strive to become as universal as possible, this is the fundamental process of growth. All our formations attempt to grow as far as possible and try to become as universal as possible. Normally our movement of universality comes about by external expansion. Even in mental being I come to get this information, that information, further information and further information and I feel that now I have a large body of information and then I try to do still more and still more and in this way I try to grow in my mind. It’s an attempt to become as universal as possible. Now according to Sri Aurobindo this is an external process of growth which is very helpful but by no means of constant expansion of this kind can you really be universalised. There is an inner way of becoming universal and that is to say to discover your true individual, not the egoistic consciousness but the true individual which is much deeper, which Sri Aurobindo calls the psychic being, the psychic entity within us, that psychic entity within us is a manifestation of the Jivatman that which is the eternal portion of the Supreme, it is eternal and since it is eternal portion it is immortal and its manifestation is therefore immortal; it’s a true individual which is immortal. Now even to recognise this individual immortality is a very difficult process. Normally we are external consciousness, we are bahirmukha, we are not antarmukha and that is why it is very difficult for us to become aware of our true psychic entity and psychic being.
According to Sri Aurobindo, the yoga is largely to be concentrated on the growth of our body, life and mind externally as much as possible. In this growth many forces are at work and many cosmic beings are at work and these cosmic beings are what the Veda calls the gods. So in the process of growth and development we can take the help of the gods and they can increase our body, life and mind. We become increased as it were. This is the word vardhmana, we constantly go on increasing. Now this increasing goes on until a point is reached when we begin to become aware of an internal being in us, of which body, life and mind are partial expressions or partial instruments. The process by which we begin to be aware of that individuality is the central part of the yoga. Outer growth of body, life and mind is also yoga but it is the preliminary you might say but when you begin to become aware of that internal part of our being, our psychic entity turning towards it and trying to catch it as it were that is the is the internal part, the central part of yoga.
Now how to become aware of the psychic entity is a very big question and it has been dealt with at length in Sri Aurobindo’s literature, how to become aware of the psychic being. But if one becomes aware of the psychic being then one is able to reflect the powers of the psychic being in the body, life and mind. This is what is called the process of psychicisation of the body, life and mind. It’s a long process and it’s a great process of yoga and the processes are full of perils of many kinds because between the outer body, life and mind and the psychic being there are many kingdoms of the universal mind, universal life and universal matter and if you enter into them, it’s a long process. In fact Sri Aurobindo in his Savitri, he has devoted several cantos to this description. There is a very important canto in Sri Aurobindo’s Savitri, Search of the Soul that is to say that Savitri at a certain stage of her yoga enters into the search of the soul and Sri Aurobindo describes this search of the soul, and describes in detail and it is a very illuminating chapter in Savitri and there as a preliminary of the entry into the psychic consciousness or soul consciousness there is a description of what Sri Aurobindo calls The Travel in the Inner Kingdoms. When you turn inwards then there are many inner kingdoms to come across and these inner kingdoms also have to be crossed and then you enter into psychic consciousness. So the true individual is as the Kathopanishad and Sri Aurobindo confirms this experience of Kathopanishad that there is in us a being which is seated in the deep cave of the heart - hridaya guhayam, it is in the deep cave of the heart and to enter into the deep cave of the heart is a long process. You might say that Kathopanishad is a very secret teaching and in fact the question which has been asked by Nachiketas, whether man remains or does not remain after the death and then answer of Yama is a long answer and it is not merely the statement that – yes, there is a man who lives after the death that is actually not basically as Sri Aurobindo points out that since Nachiketas reached Yama after death there was no question in his mind whether one lives after death or not, he knows that and that was not his question. His question is whether there is a real immortality, to remain, survival after death is one kind of existence, not necessarily immortal. But his question was whether there is a real immortality or not and it is that question and then Kathopanishad says: Yes, there is an immortal reality of which it describes. But if you read it closely you will find in Kathopanishad several times it says: ‘etatdvetat’ there are several times Yama ends by saying: ‘etatdvetat’, and if you analyse it, it describes all that is immortal, not only the Supreme Being that is immortal and he says you ask me what is immortal, is there immortal or not, so he says this was your question and I am giving that answer: ‘etatdvetat’. Aditi is also described there as that who is immortal, the soul is also described as that which is immortal, the gods are also described as that which are immortal. So actually Kathopanishad is a wonderful statement of the science or knowledge of immortality and Sri Aurobindo confirms all that, angusthamatra that which is not bigger than the thumb, as a description of that inner being, the psychic being that is to say when you enter into it, it is found to be a kind of an entity, very small entity because it is in the ocean of ignorance so much and there it is one thing jutting out as it were, although it is that entity which is a manifestation of the sanatana Jiva which is a portion of the Supreme Reality, which is infinite and eternal. So it is when you enter into this consciousness of the psychic entity that one begins to have the experience of immortality.
Now there are many descriptions of the experience of immortality in our literature and when you read the literature of India in regard to moksha and immortality and so on there are many descriptions, sometimes varied descriptions and therefore one can’t say whether this is this one, or this one, or this one. In Sri Aurobindo’s description therefore all of them are described and you might say that all of them may be regarded as a stage of moksha and yet real moksha is when you attain to the realisation of the Supreme. But in between this realisation of the Supreme and the realisation of the psychic entity also as an immortal there is this question of the body, life and mind. The true individuality, psychic consciousness is the true individual consciousness which is unegoistic. So usually our individuality is measured by our egoistic consciousness and Sri Aurobindo makes a distinction between egoistic consciousness and true individuality. The true individuality is not egoistic, the true individuality is always an eternal portion of the Supreme, as a portion it is individual but a portion of the Supreme it is the Supreme itself and this Supreme is not only transcendental but also universal. Therefore this individuality by nature is universal and transcendental, by its very fundamental nature. It's not egoistic. So individual consciousness which is universal and transcendental at the same time is the true experience of individuality, so that experience of the true individuality which is realised by universality and transcendence is the experience of psychic immortality. The experience of individual immortality and when you attain to this experience, Sri Aurobindo calls it moksha. But when that individuality is able to reflect itself in the outer formation of the mind and how that can happen it is a long process but according to Sri Aurobindo it can happen. The individual consciousness of the psychic being can go on reflecting itself in the mind in such a way that that mind also becomes individualised, is able to participate in the individuality of the psychic consciousness. In other words when that formation of the mind is also universalised, just as individual psychic consciousness is also universal, when mind formation is also universalised and is able to harmonise with universalisation, not by expanding, we normally do by expanding but inwardly when you attain to this inner connection of the individual and the universal, when that happens according to Sri Aurobindo then that mental formation, whatever that mental formation has grown without disintegration it can continue on and on and on that is mental immortality.
Similarly our vital consciousness if it is also individualised in the same way then that vital being also becomes immortal. And when Sri Aurobindo says that Hanuman is the immortal vital force dedicated to the Divine, it is that vital being is immortal. And these are some of the examples as to how some mental beings are immortal, some vital beings are immortal, as far as the physical being, being immortal and that is a big question mark. According to Sri Aurobindo and the Mother this state of consciousness which is described here, physical being widens itself, is also a question of universalisation of the physical consciousness; if the physical being becomes widened and is upheld by the gods and by the Supreme Aditi, then that physical being can become immortal. And in one of the talks Mother has said it is quite possible that some of the Vedic Rishis are even now alive, even physically. It is quite possible because here it is spoken of immortal and physical being, so it is quite possible.
Now this yoga by which physical being can become immortal is one of the most important elements of the yoga of Sri Aurobindo. The aim that he has also put forward is not only moksha, he does not deny the moksha, moksha is a necessary part, necessary stage of development but it is not the aim. The aim is the immortality of the body. And here very clearly when this description is given in the Veda the immortality is referred to the immortality of the physical being - prithvi vitaste, this is the text, however much you try to interpret, you cannot come out of the word prithvi vitaste, it is the physical consciousness which has become wide and universalised and Sri Aurobindo confirms it that physical being, physical consciousness can be universalised. But here there is a question of visitation, Sri Aurobindo has in his interpretation has put the word physical being is visited, whether it can be stabilised and made permanent on and on, whether that becomes possible, this is the question. In fact you might say that Sri Aurobindo’s yoga can be rightly understood from this angle, what was the attempt of the yoga of Sri Aurobindo? Sri Aurobindo’s attempt was to deal with this question of death of the body and to ask whether physical body can be so individualised so that universality and individuality of the physical is identified and if that is done then the physical being without the law of disintegration, it can continue to live on and on. Sri Aurobindo says this is not for the glory of the body, it is not for the sake of an achievement and a kind of a great glorification, it is connected with the very aim, what is the intention of the soul in his state of bondage. Is the soul here only to return back to its own original condition from where it came or is the soul here on the earth for doing something which is a very special thing to be done on the earth, not to return. This is where Sri Aurobindo’s view of liberation differs from the many views of liberation that we find in Indian literature. According to the Indian philosophical systems the aim here of our life on the earth is to return and to liberate ourselves from the bondage of the world and to achieve our identity with the Supreme, or our dependence on the Supreme, or our bhakti to the Supreme and to remain in that eternal condition and that is all, that is the end that is moksha. According to Sri Aurobindo that is attainment of essential immortality but that is not the aim for which the soul is here on the earth. The soul is here on the earth for divinisation of the body, for the divinisation of life on the earth, as Sri Aurobindo says: if the aim was to return back, what was the point in its coming into the world it was already liberated; in its original condition the soul is always liberated. Why does it enter into this earth? Now this is a very important question and I’ll take a little more time on this because that is central also to the understanding of the Veda and this is the question for my own personal research at present in fact and therefore it can be very useful to share this idea with everybody who is learned in this matter.
According to what I understand of the Veda the individual soul is not so very clearly stated in the Veda but you get some glimpses of what is the view of individual in the Veda, there is clear idea of universal gods, clear idea of Aditi, clear idea of the Supreme but the individual, what is the individual, who is the individual, who is travelling, who is yajamana, on this one has to make a lot of research to be very clear about. But whatever I have studied I can share with you and my feeling is that according to the Veda the original unconsciousness of which we spoke earlier when the darkness was wrapped in darkness and when Agni was planted on the earth and along with Agni there was also the descent of Purusha and the Supreme Aditi and they also established themselves on the earth. And since the individual is the eternal portion of the Supreme, the individuals also must have come down along with Aditi and Supreme Purusha and Agni. Therefore, this we, what we call ourselves, the true individuals that we are, although now egoistic, limited, groping but originally we are those eternal portions of the Supreme and therefore we also have come down upon the earth. In fact, according to many Indian philosophies this question has remained obscure. According to some the bondage of the individual is eternal, anaadi, although they say that it is not ananta because you can break out of the bondage and you can get liberated. But on this question when I critically examine the theories of soul and bondage and evolution, I find a lot of confusion on this subject and yet it is the central subject. I mean we are all here on this earth for what, you must know what we are and what are we doing here and why are we here, it’s a central question and on this question unfortunately not only in Indian philosophies but also in all the religious philosophies there is a good deal of confusion. Actually our main trouble for any seeker who really wants to know - what am I and what is the highest thing, why am I here on this earth, what am I doing? This is the central question of everyone and when you study all this you find so much of conflicting views and so much confusion.
If you look at the story of Adam and Eve, the first Man and Eve created out of rib of Adam and then the fall because they eat the fruit of the tree of knowledge and then the whole movement and then the children of Adam and Eve, we are all children of Adam and Eve and we are here as it were under a sin which we have committed, original sin and we are born in sin and we are supposed to come out of it by the grace of Christ and this is one view. What is this true individual and I take the help of the Bhagavad Gita because I find in the Bhagavad Gita a clear statement para prakritir jiva bhuta, it’s a clear statement, mam eva amsha sanatana, it’s a very clear statement and there are no conflicting statements in the Bhagavad Gita. It certainly speaks of an individual, who is an eternal portion and he is para prakritir jiva bhuta, he is that which has been made of para Prakriti, Jiva is made of para Prakriti and it is the eternal portion of the Supreme. Now that individual in its originality must be one with the Supreme because being the eternal portion of the Supreme he must be one with it, it must be conscious, it must be in delight, it must be in the highest state of consciousness. In fact in The Life Divine there is a chapter Sri Aurobindo has written ‘The Divine Soul’ is the title of the chapter, it is called ‘The Divine Soul’ and in that chapter Sri Aurobindo describes how the soul in its original condition is, in its supramental existence because the first manifestation is ritam cha satyam - the supramental manifestation, ignorance comes later on according to aghamarshana mantra, so in the eternal condition of the Supramental consciousness how the individual would be that is described in that chapter of Sri Aurobindo. Now if the individual that we are all amritasya putraha, we are all children of immortality and we are all there as it were in the immortal plane; if now we find ourselves on the earth something must have happened to us so that we came down here, so the theory that we are originally all the time tied up with karma, I find it difficult personally to accept, does not seem to me to be acceptable. If the soul is in its nature conscious suddenly finds itself into bondage and we are always in bondage, I find it difficult and in the Vedic view of life I personally feel that an individual is not eternally in bondage, it is not eternally in ignorance. Ignorance is not anaadi according to what I understand of the Veda. Although in our Indian philosophical systems ignorance is considered to be anandi and ananta. Although sometimes one of the individuals can break out of it but otherwise the world continues. Now this aspect of Indian philosophy I find philosophically not understandable and not acceptable. In aghamarshana mantra as I had told you once tato ratri jayata therefore it says ignorance is not something original, if it was original ratri should have been anaadi but no tato ratri jayata therefore it says the night came afterwards, thereafter. So I accept what Sri Aurobindo says that ignorance is not an original ignorance. In fact Sri Aurobindo has written several chapters on this subject of the origin of ignorance and it is one of the most important chapters in The Life Divine when he has traced the origin of the ignorance. When exactly the ignorance arises and where is it, where is the root of it, where is the beginning of it and therefore how it can be ended because it has an origin it can be ended and that is why Sri Aurobindo says you can come out of the ignorance and then the question is who is ignorant? In Indian philosophies, who is ignorant, who is bound, there is a lot of confusion and that is why I feel very, very difficult to expound this philosophy. According to Jainism the soul is conscious yet it has found itself all the time in bondage. If it is conscious how does it find itself in the state of bondage? I have asked many Jain philosophers, please explain to me - how that conscious soul became bound by karma and I don’t find any answer to this question. Similarly, in Advaita philosophy it says avidya is eternal, anandi, somehow you are there and eternally you are there but you can come out of it. If eternally if ignorance is always there and if ignorance is always going to be there, how can I come out of it? It's a question and I don’t get the answer to it. Then it says actually speaking: no, no, you are not in ignorance because ignorance is an illusion and your being in ignorance is also an illusion and actually speaking none is bound, none seeks liberation, none is liberated because you are always in liberation.
Now these statements philosophically, I find to be quite difficult for me to understand. In Sri Aurobindo however I find that Sri Aurobindo explains the origin of ignorance in the gradual diminution of consciousness. Sri Aurobindo says that consciousness has infinite powers, various kinds of powers and one of the powers of consciousness is self-limitation. Consciousness is a power of concentration and concentration means some kind of fixing upon a limited point on which you can concentrate, this is one of the powers of consciousness. Just as the power of diffusion, wideness is also power of it, to concentrate also is a power of consciousness and even in ordinary life we can see this power at work. I can concentrate, I can widen, I can again concentrate, consciousness becomes creative, consciousness becomes multiplying in many ways. Even in ordinary consciousness this is the nature. So if it is said that there is original consciousness which has a capacity of self-concentration, it is understandable and Sri Aurobindo traces the origin of ignorance into this process of self-limitation of consciousness.
Now in that self-limitation of consciousness there is a field which is created, which is a field of ignorance and the soul which comes down from above and participates with Agni to remove the darkness and to remove this limitation, he enters into it. So it is a self chosen bondage, it is not as if he is bound, it’s a self chosen, it is willed bondage. We all have agreed as it were to come down on this earth for this task of removing darkness from the earth that is our real purpose for which we are here and when we remove the darkness what happens thereafter. The physical is manifested out of darkness, what happens to the physical then and what are we to do with this physical consciousness and our task therefore is basically this - removal of darkness and dealing with products of consciousness, body, life and mind. What are we to do with them that’s what Sri Aurobindo says: not to return to the heavens as soon as possible but to work out a process by which this obscurity, darkness which has come about as a result of that limitation of consciousness, to remove that and to bring light, to uncover not to bring but uncover the light - that is our task on the earth and how do we do that task? According to Sri Aurobindo we do it, that soul by itself puts forth as it were its rays of light on different planes of consciousness, starts with the darkness itself, when matter is produced or evolved, it identifies itself with bodily consciousness, when it evolves into life - prana, identifies itself with prana consciousness, when mind is manifested it identifies itself with mental consciousness and that is where we have reached and that is why at our present state we have got our own true individual being Sri Aurobindo calls chaitya Purusha but this chaitya Purusha is supported by the annamaya Purusha, pranamaya Purusha, manomaya Purusha and it is through these Purushas that we are able to deal with the body, life and mind and the psychic Purusha, the psychic being, the true individual in us is working on matter, life and mind, or body, life and mind through the help of these Purushas and gradually they are also individualised and universalised. Body is attempted to be individualised and universalised, life is also individualised, universalised and so is the mind. But it is easier to universalise the mind by pure individuality earlier to attain that immortality, the body is the most difficult task. But our task here is to grow and develop the mind, life and body to psychicise them and to attain a kind of a formation of the mind which is continuously capable of universalising itself without disintegration. To create our life being of such a nature, which can continuously go on developing and universalising itself and individualising itself that is immortality of the life and similarly body also can be done. The purpose on the earth Sri Aurobindo says is we are here on the earth to build the divine temple on the earth, not to run away, not to go away from this world as soon as possible but to be on the earth and even when we get our own realisation of the psychic being as immortal, even when we realise the Supreme as immortal the knowledge that we gain from there that knowledge is poured into our working with the world and that is the meaning of entry into higher planes of consciousness to which the Veda refers that you go from mind to supermind. And according to Sri Aurobindo until the supermind is brought down on the earth the body cannot be immortalised. According to Sri Aurobindo the Vedic yoga is a testimony that Supramental consciousness was also brought down by the Vedic Rishis right up to the physical consciousness, in rare cases although it may be few cases but the text tells you that prithvi vitaste that the body attained to that universal consciousness. This is what they call immortal because this is connected with the immortal, the text itself says amritasya gatum, therefore it is connected with immortality. This gives a clue that Vedic Rishis had already achieved a great deal. Now a great deal means what and that is a question of precision.
According to what I have studied of Sri Aurobindo and the Mother, the Mother said that the Vedic Rishis had not completed the task, it was incomplete and they reached this point where the bodily consciousness could be widened and universalised. But according to Sri Aurobindo and the Mother that is not enough and the evolutionary process does not end there. It is not the culminating point, there is a further point to be done, a further accomplishment to be achieved and that is where we speak of the novelty of Sri Aurobindo’s yoga. What is new in Sri Aurobindo is a question which is very often asked. What is new in Sri Aurobindo? Sri Aurobindo is not new in the statement that Reality is Satchidananda. It’s not new in saying that Satchidananda manifests in the universe, in fact Sri Aurobindo has confirmed himself all those experiences as I said in Ishavasya Upanishad, when you realise you are in all, all are in you and that one becomes all that experience is actually one of the basis of Sri Aurobindo’s yoga, it’s not denied. Sri Aurobindo does not say it’s new, it’s already realised in the Veda. As Sri Aurobindo says loftiest experience of the spirit are described in the Veda then the question was to bring down the Supermind on the earth and even here Sri Aurobindo and the Mother agree that the yoga described in the Veda is the yoga of assent to supermind and of the descent of the supermind. It’s a yoga of ascent and descent. And Sri Aurobindo’s yoga is also called the yoga of ascent and descent. The question was whether supermind can descend, descend in the sense coming down and going up is not descent, descent is fixing, establishment of the supermind in the physical consciousness.
There is a very interesting statement of the Mother that when she met Sri Aurobindo for the first time, Mother said she had already herself reached the supramental consciousness. At that time she had not known Sri Aurobindo. She came to know Sri Aurobindo around 29th March 1914, on that day she went to meet Sri Aurobindo and at that time the Mother asked this question to Sri Aurobindo, “ I see the supermind, can it come down on the earth.” And then Mother said Sri Aurobindo answered: “yes”; and as soon as he said ‘yes’ the supermind began to descend, and began to be fixed on the earth. Now the yoga of Sri Aurobindo and the Mother right from that time is fixed on this, to fix the supermind in the physical consciousness. The Vedic yoga speaks here of the widening of the consciousness of the physical being, fixing the supramental consciousness permanently and to be able to bring about the consequences of that fixing is new in Sri Aurobindo and the Mother. And this fixing is a very long and difficult process and the whole yoga of Sri Aurobindo and the Mother was designed towards that end. The question is what happens when the body consciousness is permeated by the supramental consciousness. There is a difference between the visit of the supermind in the body and the permeation of the supermind in the body, the cells of the body get injected by the supramental consciousness and that will make the supermind fixed on the earth. And then of course Sri Aurobindo has spoken of the consequences of this supramental fixing were and he has written several chapters on this subject under the title Supramental Manifestation on the Earth. And he has spoken of the evolution of the body itself, and he has said that our human body is not the final term because this body is not the ultimate and final best product of evolution. This body itself subject to disease and sickness of various kinds and disintegration, therefore the best if there is a Supreme Reality in the world and if it manifests fully in the body then the full manifestation of the body would mean a new kind of body, and therefore Sri Aurobindo has spoken of a divine body, and he has also given some characteristics of the divine body in his chapter on the Divine Body. Therefore the question is why are we here on the earth, what are we supposed to do here on the earth, our business on the earth is to aid in the process of the uncovering of the light. The whole world is a world at present as in the Veda says tamas is wrapped in tamas. And to uncover that light, by uncovering the tamas so the light can manifest, we are here for that task and that task is not accomplished merely by liberation. According to Sri Aurobindo liberation of the soul, liberation or moksha is only a state, important state, indispensable state but after the liberation much work has to be done and while commenting on the yoga of the Gita, Sri Aurobindo fixes his attention on the one word in Bhagavad Gita sadharmaya mukti, that is he says the mukti of the Bhagavad Gita is not the mukti of the ordinary kind, it is sadharmaya mukti, that is to say mukti not only of the soul but even in the manifestation, in our life activity our body should have the same dharma as the divine consciousness, if the divine consciousness is Satchidananda then our body also should manifest and when the body manifests Satchidananda fully that is sadharmaya mukti, this is Sri Aurobindo’s view of the aim that is given in the Bhagavad Gita, therefore you might say that the aim that is given, hinted in the Veda, the yoga which has been described more clearly in the Bhagavad Gita and the aim that is in Sri Aurobindo are in harmony.
I now take only five minutes more to say: why Sri Aurobindo considers restoration of the Veda to be so important. According to Sri Aurobindo, mankind today is passing through a crisis and he calls this crisis a very special crisis. There are many crises through which mankind has passed but he calls this crisis to be an evolutionary crisis, we are passing through an evolutionary crisis. What is the meaning of the evolutionary crisis? An evolutionary crisis is a crisis which occurs from time to time, when one term of consciousness is to be so developed that a higher level of consciousness, not only becomes manifest but becomes fixed. Now according to Sri Aurobindo the human cycle has been running for ages and ages, it has come to the end of what he calls rationalistic curve of human development. The age of reason according to Sri Aurobindo has ended. Whatever reason has to find out, discover by its rational powers, its highest, utmost, it has reached its climax, what reason can do. And it is now as it was not able to move forward and it is thrown back again to its normal groove where also it cannot stay longer. So it is constantly thrown out of gear and outside the gear it is not able to stabilise itself, it gets thrown back again into the original gear where also it cannot remain stable. Now this is where we are today, therefore Sri Aurobindo says at this stage we are obliged to realise what exactly is the aim of life and by what powers that aim of life can be realised and this discovery of the aim of life was greatly clarified in the Veda and that is why the recovery of the Veda is so important but recovery of the Veda is to be in terms of the psychological understanding of the Veda. Veda is not basically a book of ritualistic movements, Veda is basically a book of psychological knowledge and that knowledge is so relevant, so important and if that knowledge is brought back and then Sri Aurobindo himself has made new discovery, then that new discovery will find a great demonstration by virtue of the fact that what was done in the Vedic times, although incompletely, by new knowledge which was discovered by Sri Aurobindo and the Mother it has been culminated and a new consciousness has begun to manifest on the earth. Because of this reason Sri Aurobindo regards the recovery of the old spiritual knowledge of India to be an essential aspect of the new India that has got to be developed. If India has to move forward it will be able to move forward when this knowledge is recovered. Thank you