Sri Aurobindo Institute of Indian Culture. (SAIIC) Shillong workshop, 26,Oct -7 Nov, 2006 - 7. India’s fall into a state of inertia

You can ask a question: was there no historian in India who could ask this question? What is happening, who can foresee what is coming. So part of my answer to your question is that we have still not come out of the state in which we were engulfed in the 18th century. This is a big task for India. It’s a very difficult task. Britishers came when India was actually speaking that darkness and in many respects it has become more dark today. Our minds have become so knowledgeable, enslaved to certain patterns of thought, and we are not able to come out of it. Which leader of India today sees India and to make a discovery of India he will have to make a tremendous effort to arrive at what Sri Aurobindo discovered. You look at the book Foundations of Indian Culture and see how Sri Aurobindo discovered India. It's also available and at the same time contemporary and yet nobody seems to know that such a great book exists in the world, in India today. Nobody seems to understand that, decide. It was because, by the 18th century the sap of India had already been drained. Look who fertilised that land, it required such a giant as Ramakrishna the Avatar, it required a mighty soul like Vivekananda. They were all engulfed.

Somebody asked: where are they? Why Bengal suffers so much? Not only Bengal, the whole tendency of India is to be narrow and to be slavish. We have not been able to come out of it. Even today when I discuss questions about India, you don't see this analysis that India is suffering from these basic troubles and unless India arises from these three important deficiencies, we cannot rise. It is in that context that I see what Sri Aurobindo has said, it is so important for India. But Sri Aurobindo is not read because nobody has curiosity, nor that zeal, nor that questioning mind which can go through all kinds of dogmas which are running about today. They will look only to the immediate present and nothing else. We are not seeing even now the history being written on the wall and nobody is preparing oneselves to look at India that well. Look at our political scene, everyday you read the newspaper, what do you read? Nothing that is important.

This is what I feel in Bengal, it is actually the hotbed, in a sense you might say it is better in than other provinces of India in numerous respects. Still I find in Bengal a great super will. This is my feeling, you might disagree. The force of Vivekananda is not gone and it will not go. If we can prepare ourselves rightly even now we have got time. At least 20 years we have got in our hand. This is how I understand it. If in 20 years we do not deal with the problems of India rightly, I don't see how India can survive as it is. We have a big problem if we cannot rise and think very seriously. But this is what my little contribution to our thinking and this question, but I’ll be happy to know your reaction. I will ask Abhay to answer. I will actually like a big discussion on this subject.

New Session: Avatarhood

Father of the Mother was a banker, a very good mathematician. Her mother, her name was m-a-t-h-i-l-d-e, Mathilde. She was a daughter herself of a very powerful personality in Egypt, she had got a tremendously forceful personality and Mathilde was a very powerful personality. Both were completely materialists. Her mother was such an atheist that she would not tolerate the name of God and Mother herself says that until she reached adulthood, she herself was an atheist, in spite of the fact that she had many experiences which are purely spiritual and she could not account for these experiences herself. Right from her childhood she felt herself to be other than herself. We know Sri Krishna’s stories from VIshnu Purana and many of these things we think are all mythologies. But when you read Mother's life, you will find that behind the mythologies there was much that was entirely accurately true.

There is the phenomenon of what is called Avatarhood. The concept of Avatarhood is something extremely difficult for the modern mind to accept, just as it is difficult to accept the idea of god first of all, and then to go forward to accept the idea of Avatarhood is even more difficult. In India this idea of Avatarhood has been present in the tradition and became much more powerful in the writings of the Purana. Historically we do not know when exactly Puranas were composed. According to one tradition, Puranas are as old as the Veda, that they were not composed. The stories were told before, only at the time of Puranas, that is to say somewhere around 200 or 300 BC up to about 800 AD, this is the period which is counted to be the period when Puranas were composed, but traditionally the stories themselves are antiquated. It is quite possible that in the Vedas also, this idea of Avatarhood was present and if you read very closely some of the things in the Veda, you can collaborate with that idea. But this is not our subject, but at some other time one can also enter into that very important subject, because whenever we talk of Sri Aurobindo and the Mother and Mother recognised Sri Aurobindo as the supreme Lord and Sri Aurobindo recognised her as the Avatar of the supreme Mother. It is a mutual recognition and the meeting number two is extremely important for the world history. So we who really want to understand the Mother and Sri Aurobindo truly, we need to understand this Avatarhood.

To say the Mother was a French lady, she came from France to India is, of course, a matter of fact story, but we are interested in the deeper story of the Mother and Sri Aurobindo. And, as he pointed out, what is the role of the Mother in Sri Aurobindo’s sadhana, it’s an extremely important part of his sadhana, therefore we ought to know what is this Avatarhood. Now in the Puranas themselves we do not know what Avatarhood means. Puranas are stories of which Avatarhood is assumed. Indian people normally accept, they don't even ask. they feel Ram was god, Krishna was god and we worship and as a matter of fact we relate ourselves with them.

It is the Gita that some elaboration is made. When Sri Krishna tells Arjuna in the very beginning of the fourth chapter, he says to Arjuna that what I have taught you so far, that is upto the third chapter, what I have taught you so far is something that was taught at a very beginning to Vivasvan and then it was taught to Manu and then it was taught to Ikshvaku and then through the singings of his poem. In due course of time that teaching was lost, it is now that I am now telling you again. So Arjuna is surprised when he hears this story on the battlefield. Up till now Sri Krishna, of course he regarded him as very high, noble, wonderful, sakha as a friend and they used to sit together, to eat together, to work together, to gossip with each other, to make fun of each other and suddenly, when this is told to him, he finds it extremely intriguing. What is this? So he says: stop now here, tell me Vivasvan and all these were so ancient and you are now here. How could you manage to speak to Vivasvan and Manu and Ikshvaku and all these ancients?

So Sri Krishna says that you also had many past births and I too had many past births and I taught Vivasvan at a very ancient birth. It could be said that Avatar is not a phenomenon which starts only with Ram or Krishna, does not even show that in Dashavatar and so on many a things which have been told in the Puranas, but it is quite true at least there is a very ancient time, maybe even before, in the pre Vedic period. Actually, one of the talks Mother herself has said that she was present when the first human being came on the earth. She herself says. So in one of the talks that she was herself one of the first human beings on the earth, so it was as if an Avatar as it were. So Avatarhood is not something that happens only when the Puranas revealed, it's a phenomenon on the earth.

Now this is a very hard saying to the modern man where I said even if you don't accept even god, then what about the Avatarhood? It’s part of the story. And then Krishna says: you have been a human being and I have been an Avatar, he himself says that I have been here as an Avatar, not only as a human being. And then he said even further than you had past births and I had past births, alright because at that time the theory of rebirth was accepted in India. So there was not much of controversy, but to say I was myself an Avatar at that time and then he says that one who knows what is an Avatar, he knows the best, and this is a very big qualification. If you want the highest knowledge, your knowledge does not reach the highest point unless we reach this point of asking what is Avatarhood and unless you know the Avatarhood you don't understand the world. It’s very important, just as we should know what we are, from where I have come, where I am going. These are eternal questions of man. Similarly, you have to if you want to understand this—What is this world? What is the mechanism of this world? How the world moves? What is our role? What is God's role in this world? Unless you know the secret of this, you don't have the key.

And then he says that whenever there is a difficulty in this world:

परित्राणाय साधूनां विनाशाय च दुष्कृताम् ।
धर्मसंस्थापनार्थाय संभवामि युगे युगे ॥ 4.8

For the deliverance of the good, for the destruction of the evil-doers, for the enthroning of the Right, I am born from age to age.

Bhagavad Gita 4.8

That in order to destroy the evil people, for the establishment of dharma, for the protection of the good people, I come sambhavami yuge yuge, I come in every age.

Now this is the proposition made in the Gita itself, so even there you cannot say that you understood what is this Avatarhood. The only work in the world where Avatarhood has been explained is in Essays on the Gita by Sri Aurobindo. It’s a great secret that he has revealed. Nobody has understood the Avatarhood in the world according to me unless you come to Sri Aurobindo, you will not find a true understanding of what is the meaning of Avatarhood. So one day when you have time, you should really open these three chapters in the Essays on the Gita where Sri Aurobindo has explained—The Purpose of Avatarhood and The Process of Avatarhood.

Although Sri Krishna has said somewhere that Avatarhood is for the purpose of dharma sansthapna but there is a difference between the world in which we human beings are born on the earth and how the Avatar is born on the earth. It says that when human beings are all born. Well, always the process of old movement in the world is power at the origin of thing, the most origin, absolute origin is this power. Now, if you examine the nature of power, you will find that power has a kind of a capacity of reservoir. It’s a natural condition of power. When you have a high powerhouse, you have better reservoir, then you can make it move, that is to say power potential and power which is dynamic. It is the nature of power. How is it so? You can only say it is so because it is the nature of power, which is the ultimate mystery, if at all you want to call it a mystery that the power is always in these two states: potential and dynamic. But even this potential power, this is also something very important, potential power is always something that is solid, whereas power is something that is moving like liquid, it’s mobile, the very basis is something solid. It’s in Sanskrit called sthanu. Now why is it so again? Why should it be so? The answer is: it is so. If anybody asks a question, why is diamond strong? And you are not so strong, why? It is so because it is the nature of it. When you find something’s fundamental nature, then all questions end at that point. As long as you're not come to the fundamental nature, you can ask the question: why is it so? How is it so? How is it become like this? Why is it become like this? But when you come to the most fundamental point, then your only only answer is: it is so. So when you say that I have reached the highest, when it is said in India, but there are rishis who reached the highest knowledge, they had the highest realisation, now what is the highest realisation that was reached after all including the Upanishads, the Veda and the Gita? Sri Aurobindo says that the highest experience of the Veda has never been surpassed, therefore if you want to read the highest, loftiest experience, it was given the Veda.

Now that which is sthanu, is called sat. The highest, the ultimate is sat, that which is. it is a kind of you might say the fact that there is such a thing as the highest as being and beyond it there is nothing. That’s why Upanishads says very clearly that beyond manifest is the supreme, beyond the manifest there is unmanifest, beyond the unmanifest is He, and beyond that there is nothing. So Upanishads says very clearly that you go right up to the end, and this is the end of it and there is nothing else in there. So what can you say now? You go and inquire anywhere, by any kind of experience, that is the highest. The same thing is said in the Gita when Sri Krishna says, I am akshara and I am kshara, I am immobile and I am mobile. Beyond these two is Purushottama—I am neither mobile, nor immobile, I am both mobile and immobile and yet something different beyond that. This is Purushottama. This is you might say the ultimate nature of reality is this. If you ask a question, why is it so? How is it so? How is it mobile? How is it mobile-immobile at the same time, how did this come about? The answer is: such is the wonder of the reality. When you see so many colours in the sunrise, and you see how many colours, how they can come out, so many colours? Such as the wonder! Similarly, with reality, if you want to know what is reality, it is not so simple as this flower, it is something that is really wonderful. It is immobile, it is mobile, it is something beyond mobile, beyond immobile.

There is a beautiful verse in the Rig Veda describing the Ultimate Reality. It says the Ultimate Reality is adbhutam.

न नूनम् अस्ति नो श्वः कस् तद् वेद यद् अद्भुतम् |
अन्यस्य चित्तम् अभि संचरेण्यम् उताधीतं वि नश्यति ||

na nūnam asti no śvaḥ kas tad veda yad adbhutam |
anyasya cittam abhi saṃcareṇyam utādhītaṃ vi naśyati ||

Rig Veda 1.170.1

Nna nūnam, it is not now; asti no śvaḥ, it is not tomorrow.|

This is the first sentence. Very small, the Vedic verses are interesting, very small, very short.

Kas tad veda yad adbhutam, it is wonderful!

This is the second sentence, very simple but says all that is, is adbhutam. Now what is adbhutam is revealed in the second part.

Anyasya cittam abhi saṃcareṇyam, this is the crux of the matter, It is not now, it is not tomorrow, that means it is eternal, yet it is abhi saṃcareṇyam, movable, it cannot move but it is movable, it is that which is eternal but it is movable. How is it movable? cittam. There is something in consciousness by virtue of which it is movable. So all movement is connected with cittam, so all that is movable is connected with cittam. Wherever there is a consciousness, there is a possibility of movement. But more important is that it is anyasya cittam, it is movable in another.