Sri Aurobindo while paying tribute to the Vedic Rishis, said that they were able to plummet into the densest darkness of consciousness and climb up to the highest pinnacle of consciousness, who measured all the depths and the widths of consciousness. This is the great achievement of the Vedic Rishis in the early times, and that is why the Veda is a book of knowledge. So now in Sri Aurobindo’s own language therefore, there are at least three levels of consciousness. In fact in The Life Divine is very largely a commentary on the Veda. It follows very much the Vedic psychology and the Vedic philosophy or ontology. So first is the superconscious, then is the conscious and then there is unconscious or the inconsistent. Between the inconscient and the subconscient there are two levels: inconscient is complete darkness, in the Veda there is a famous Sukta called Nasadiya Sukta, it is called Nasadiya because the first word of the Sukta is na asat that is nasad therefore it is called Nasadiya Sukta, because it begins with the word called nasad. It says in the beginning there was neither non-being nor being, it was tamas tamasā gūḍham:
तम आसीत् तमसा गूऌहम् अग्रे ऽप्रकेतं सलिलं सर्वम् आ इदम् |
तुच्छ्येनाभ्व् अपिहितं यद् आसीत् तपसस् तन् महिनाजायतैकम् ||
tama āsīt tamasā gūḷham agre 'praketaṃ salilaṃ sarvam ā idam |
tucchyenābhv apihitaṃ yad āsīt tapasas tan mahinājāyataikam ||
Darkness hidden by darkness in the beginning was this all, an ocean without mental consciousness … out of it the One was born by the greatness of Its energy. It first moved in it as desire which was the first seed of mind. The Masters of Wisdom found out in the non-existent that which builds up the existent; in the heart they found it by purposeful impulsion and by the thought-mind. Their ray was extended horizontally; there was something above, there was something below.
Rig Veda 10.129.3
It was a darkness wrapped in darkness. It is the great description given in the Nasadiya Sukta and it is that state of darkness wrapped in darkness that is inconscient then that inconscient rising a little more is what is called subconscious trying to awake as Sri Aurobindo says it tries to be awake but never getting awake. It is our subconscious trying to get awake but never awake. Then comes a slow development of consciousness as we find in life. Matter is subconscious, it is not complete inconscience. Complete inconscience gives rise to subconscious is matter, out of matter comes life, and that is some kind of some consciousness arising and then all different forms of life until we come to the mind, ‒ that is conscious, but all that is conscious is always having a kind of a tail which is subconscious and inconscient. Our consciousness is constantly besieged, as it were by the subconscious and the inconscient.
In modern psychology which was developed by Freud and others, they discovered the subconscious, not the inconscient as yet, they only discovered the subconscious. That’s why Sri Aurobindo says they discovered the ABC and said now we have found everything; the subconscious is only the ABC of psychology. But apart from this subconscious, there is the inconscient on one side, then there is consciousness here and above that is a huge world of superconscious, but even behind the conscious Sri Aurobindo speaks of subliminal consciousness, it's a very important distinction between conscious and subliminal consciousness. Subliminal is neither subconscious nor inconscient, nor superconscient. It is something that is behind the consciousness. I shall explain what Sri Aurobindo means exactly by the subliminal. It is as if supposing I am sitting here, he is behind me, whereas there is somebody below me that is subconscious, not behind, below. You have to imagine that this consciousness is spherical. Consciousness is not linear, it's a spherical consciousness. Therefore, while I’m here, there can be behind me something of which I am not aware, but that is aware of me, if he stands behind me I will not be aware of him, but he is aware of me. Subconscious is below, it is trying to become awake, but never awakes and there is absolute inconscient which is absolutely unconscious ‒ complete darkness in darkness. Now this one, which is behind me, is what Sri Aurobindo calls subliminal.
Now, this subliminal what is called a sheath, what is in our Taittiriya Upanishad, it says ‒ that this body is the outer sheath of our consciousness. But behind it is the sukshma. This is the gross (sthula), behind is the sukshma. Now that sukshma is also a body but not the gross body, it is sukshma and that sukshma consists of subtle physical, subliminal vital and subliminal mental, ‒ annamaya kosha, pranamaya kosha, manomaya kosha, they are also koshas. So you have to imagine that every human being that we see is one of the outer face that you are seeing, every one of us has got behind him a larger being. That shows how much our Vedic psychology was so right, it’s all lost. Even now we read Taittiriya Upanishad, everybody can read it, but where it is, what is it really means? One doesn't know. It says even manomaya prana sharir neta these are very clear words. Manomaya is prana sharir neta; it is the leader, so there is something behind it, which is leading; our outer body and our life first are both led by the manomaya. We are not simply what we are as Sri Aurobindo says: ‘we are not the little self that we appear to be.’ In Savitri very often you will find this kind of expression where Sri Aurobindo describes an individual ‘we are not the little self that we seem to be.’
A deathbound littleness is not all we are:
Immortal our forgotten vastnesses
Await discovery in our summit selves;
Unmeasured breadths and depths of being are ours. ||10.6||
A portion of us lives in present Time,
A secret mass in dim inconscience gropes;
Out of the inconscient and subliminal
Arisen, we live in mind’s uncertain light
And strive to know and master a dubious world
Whose purpose and meaning are hidden from our sight. ||117.67||
Above us dwells a superconscient god
Hidden in the mystery of his own light:
Around us is a vast of ignorance
Lit by the uncertain ray of human mind,
Below us sleeps the Inconscient dark and mute. ||117.68||
But this is only Matter’s first self-view,
A scale and series in the Ignorance. ||117.69||
This is not all we are or all our world. ||117.70||
Our greater self of knowledge waits for us,
A supreme light in the truth-conscious Vast:
It sees from summits beyond thinking mind,
It moves in a splendid air transcending life. ||117.71||
Now let me explain to you a little more because it is a very important element to understand what you are asking. Sushumna nadi is one of the currents in the subtle body; it's not in the physical body as we understand it. It is in the subtle body, it is annamaya but it is inner annamaya, it is a subliminal subtle physical body. Physical body if you try to dissect the body, you won’t find it there.
What Tantra has discovered is a rediscovery of the Vedic knowledge but it is a profound knowledge. Tantra knowledge is a profound knowledge, it’s a science, it's a scientific knowledge of the subliminal.
Now from where these sheaths have come? We are born out of the physical body of our parents, that is known, but these, our subliminal body, our vital body and our mental body, from where have they been born? Where did they come from? Now for that we have to realise that there are already in the process of development when consciousness came down, certain worlds were created between the highest and the inconscient in the process of going down into the inconscient there was an intermediate period where as the consciousness went down to the mind, a mental world was created, then it came down to life and life world was created, then subtle physical world was created corresponding to matter, then it fell into inconscience (inconscience has no matter) so there is no world as such, it is only a portion of darkness ‒ samudro arnavah. When Mother said I went out of one body into another body and turned to another body, she spoke of twelve bodies not only seven. These bodies are themselves projections from these worlds. You have to imagine, for example, that these are so many worlds here, there is a subtle-physical world behind you, a vital world, mental world above it, then there is a supramental world above it and then the supreme seed, imagine all this is there behind you, they are not abolished by your existence, they all exist.
Now you come down from the inconscient, from the bodies of your parents we are born, physically. As you are born, this physical birth itself is prepared by something that is a representative of the Supreme Lord himself. Yesterday, I spoke to you about the individual, the Jiva, each one of us is a Jiva. I said that according to the Vedic knowledge, the knowledge of the Gita, according to Sri Aurobindo we are the Supreme but portion of the Supreme ‒ mam eva amsha. So we are all amshas.
We have our own abode in what Sri Aurobindo calls as the psychic world. All the jivas have got their own worlds, this is called the psychic world. So the psychic world is also behind, behind, behind you might say. The inmost behind is the psychic world and we all reside there. It’s a spherical consciousness, so it is behind, its location is behind. That is why, when this body is being formed, it is not an ordinary thing that is happening. It’s an occult phenomenon. As we have used the word occult, the occult phenomenon is actually secret. So secretly what happens is that a body is formed, the physical gross body is formed but it is actually a projection. According to the ordinary theory of evolution the body is formed from the body. But according to this occult psychology body is not merely formed by body, something much more than body is constantly taking place, its soul secretly according to the need of his development formulates the kind of the mind from the mental world, from the vital world it borrows the vital principle, from the subtle physical it borrows the subtle physical. These three are projected into the embryo which is being formed, and it is the interaction of these three with this that our external form is really formed. So a gross body is not merely a gross body right from the beginning. But this is the whole point, how does it select the kind of mind is because of the past. The past karmas take you to determine what kind of mind now you need for your further development and so on. This is how the law of karma actually acts. Nothing is lost, the soul is immortal.
Impressions are of two kinds. Samskaras are of two types. Samskara come from heredity, my father, my brother being what they are; their temperament, their nature, it is all included in my physical body, that is one kind of samskara. Second samskaras are the samskaras which I receive from my environment, ‒ people talking, cultural impressions but deeper than that samskaras of your own atmosphere of the past life, of your karma. So it's a conglomeration of three things, the new samskaras which I inherit from my father and mother, which were not my father and mother in my past birth, these are my new father and mother and whatever is their samskaras of their body, their mind, everything is imprinted on me. Then when I am born I have my own influences but apart from this I have my own atmosphere coming from the past, the earlier samskaras, earlier impressions.
Now this is the inner psychology of rebirth. You cannot conceive of the way in which evolution takes place merely by accounting for physical evolution; that's why Sri Aurobindo says that the Darwinian theory of evolution is incomplete. It only speaks of physical being formed by the physical only by the influence of the environment. A physical form reacts to the environment and certain things are formed in my body. They begin to be more and more impressed, more and more impressed, more and more impressed, and the struggle that this organism has to battle with the environment, it learns out of it and it is transmitted by heredity into the new body. So heredity is the only cause of the development of species, more and more influences of the environment, more and more experience of the struggle and my physical form tries to overcome, to the extent to which I succeed is transmitted by heredity to the next offspring that is how evolution proceeds.
Sri Aurobindo does not deny this factor, it's an important factor, it does play a role, but it is not the decisive role, it doesn't take place merely by physical heredity. There is behind it, in fact, there is a work of the soul. I have to tell you a story now because this is a very important point in the Veda.
There is some kind of a debate somewhere between the gods and Aditi. And Aditi is told by the gods: we see in your waters agni. So it is said in one of the verses that agni was discovered by the gods in the waters of the Supreme. Who is this agni? There is another verse in the Veda.. I am only telling you what I have read myself, there are many things which I have not read. The Supreme himself was both Purushottama and paraprakriti. Aditi as the supermind is paraprakriti. Aditi is the paraprakriti. Aditi is the Divine Mother.
So there is a conversation between the gods and the Divine Mother, Aditi. So Aditi was discovered already by the Vedic Rishis, so Aditi is not a new discovery. It’s a very important discovery, to find out in the whole world there is the Aditi consciousness somewhere. Sun gods are called Adityas. These adityas are direct first children of the divine Mother. Aditi is the divine Mother from whom the first four cosmic gods are brought out. There are many gods but they are not all at one stroke as it were. They are the first adityas, ‒ Varuna, Mitra, Pushan—Pushan is also part of Savitri itself—then Aryaman and Bhaga. These four are called in Veda the kings, the rajanah. Whenever there is an address to Varuna and Mitra they are called rajanah, O! Rajan. They are the supreme guardians of the supreme Mother. So they are adityas but they are also called cosmic gods, but all gods are not adityas, so you are right in saying that Aditi is the mother of Adityas. The word aditya comes from Aditi. The sons of Aditi are called Adityas. So it is true that these Adityas, all these gods were there, but then they discovered that there was Agni in the waters of the Aditi herself. It is something very special as it were. Gods were there but that one was still special.
Then there is a verse in the Rigveda which says that when Agni was put into darkness it looked resplendent. The beauty is described in the Veda when Agni was planted into the inconscient it was resplendent. So there was something which happened, they saw the agni there and then agni was planted into the inconscient.
Now this agni is fundamentally having two aspects in the Veda ‒ a cosmic aspect and an individual aspect. The individual aspect is the sparks of agni. Cosmic God is a universal God, so there is a universal God ‒ Agni, and there are sparks of Agni, but both of them are special manifestations of Aditi. In our language, we call it psychic being, ‒ the sparks. All of us are souls. Jivas are, as it were, when the Jivas come down, Jiva is this child of the supreme Aditi, ‘mam eva amsha’, ‘para prakriti jiva bhuta’. So Jiva is Para Prakriti’s son but individual son, Gods are cosmic sons, we are all individual sons because reality is transcendental, universal, individual, so we are also transcendental Purushottama but individual.
Now, when the inconscient came down, there is also Mother’s talk about it. I am connecting Vedic verses which are available to me and what Mother has said which is very interesting. Mother has said that when the darkness came about in the process of involution, evolution had not yet come about; only involution took place and darkness came out. When the darkness came out, then the supreme Mother went to the Supreme Lord and said this has come about, inconscient darkness has come about, what shall we do? So supreme God said: Now you create other gods. This inconscient came out of the first four gods that were created, they became unconscious. Now you create other cosmic beings but don't allow them to go into the inconscient, it was a restriction put upon her, that don't give them the freedom to choose to go into the inconscient themselves, but ask them to work on the inconscient so that they can be recovered. Inconscience can again become conscious gradually. So the conscious beings were created by the divine Mother and they are cosmic gods. What you call the devas are therefore called second creation, even the Veda says that the devas are second creation, it is confirmed in the Veda. Gods are second creation. Why? Because in the Nasadiya Sukta the description of inconscient is given. and the last sentence of the Nasadiya Sukta is: who knows how this came about, even Gods do not know because even they were not there at that time. This is stated already in the Nasadiya Sukta.
First four beings were created according to Mother's story, there was Truth, Light, Life and Delight. These are the first four beings which have been put out, and they decided to deviate from the supreme to experience what happens, they made an experiment and that experiment led them to become completely unconscious. If you deviate from the supreme light, what happens? Complete darkness came about? This is the whole story of creation as it were, it is corresponding to a Vedic story which says as I told you, first was the Tapas, then Truth and the Right and then came the darkness and then came complete darkness. It’s in the Veda itself.
All right, now Mother's story is that first these four beings were created and then they decided to deviate from the divine supreme consciousness to alienate themselves to see what happens. It’s an experiment only, it was possible and they made an experiment on this possibility and this happened. Then the divine Mother went to the Supreme Lord saying this is what has happened, now what to do? So the Supreme Lord said now you create other beings, so the second creation was the creation of the gods, and they were told this task, now you don’t deviate; you remain gods therefore they are called devas. Devas means div (luminous), you remain luminous and work on this inconscient to reverse it so that again consciousness comes back, this is the task given to them.
Now, these gods looked into the darkness, how to fulfil this big task? The darkness was so dark, so dark, so dark, they came back to the divine Mother saying this is not our work; we won’t be able to do it. Then they said unless you yourself come down, we shall help going back again but unless we see the great light in you, only that light when it is put forth can we do. Now what was that light? Mother has said that light is the light of love. So the supreme Mother's love descended, that love is called agni in the Veda. Gods saw agni in the waters of the divine Mother and they said you put that agni into here. If you bring that divine love into this darkness then we shall help you also and we all gods will help agni. Inconscient is more than ignorance, ignorance is only, as I said, is a night where there are stars. It's not complete inconscience, it’s a parent of inconscience, you might say. Then the inconscient in which this came down, the divine light came down, Sri Aurobindo makes a remark: the sacrifice of the divine Mother is also the sacrifice of the Lord, but there was one and that is why in the Veda, there is what is called Purusha Sukta. It is famous sukta in the Rigveda which speaks of the sacrifice of the Purusha. It is actually this story. What is the sacrifice of the Purusha and Prakriti, sacrifice of the divine Mother? It is the planting of love into this. It is the power of love.
Now this love has sparks. These sparks are individual sparks. We jivas are now sparks here in the inconscient. So we also, along with the divine Mother, we also came down as her children. These are our psychic entities as they are called. These are bulbs as it were. We are all small bulbs into this inconscient darkness. Along with Agni we also entered here. Agni was given a promise in the Veda that whenever agni is invoked all the gods will come to help him. That is why in the Veda it is said devo deverbir agamat when agni is addressed, agni hota kavikratuh, satas chittra shravas tamaha, devo deverbir agamat ‒ this is a description of agni.
What is Agni? Agni is the priest; he has now become the priest in this inconscient, he has brought the light and is now being the priest there, but he himself is satya, completely truthful, he is chitra; he is truthful not only in a rigid manner he is a complex truth. The idea of the Veda’s truth is not a monotone truth, it's a complex truth, the truth is complex. So satas chittra shravas tamaha is: the highest knowledge that can be obtained is obtained by Agni. And it is that Agni devo deverbir agamat, whenever he is invited, all the devas come immediately. That is why it is said that you don't need to invite all the gods separately. You just invite agni, all the gods will come immediately. This is the key, Vedic Rishis found out that if you want all the gods to work at the same time, how will you do it? ‒ call agni, all others come. That is why symbolically havan is the symbol, you light the fire, it’s an outer physical symbol but actually it is invoking the agni; and when you invoke agni all the gods come. So if you need the help of gods, you call agni, all the gods will come and they begin to help you.
Now, we are also that agni actually. We are the sparks of the very same love, same power of the divine Mother. So we are also promised that whenever we want anything, we just call Agni and all the gods will come. That is why we are told that you should become yajaman. You should invite agni. All this is part of the occult knowledge. So there is a psychic consciousness, there is the mental consciousness, vital consciousness, subtle physical consciousness, gross consciousness, subconscious and inconscient and above all this is the superconscious and superconscious has also many levels,‒ higher mind, illumined mind, intuitive mind, overmind, supermind and the supreme. So that is all superconscious, but these are all the planes of consciousness.
Now Sri Aurobindo has given a complete survey of the entire realm of consciousness in the most precise terms, so that that psychological knowledge that we have now is the most precise psychology. You can study man most thoroughly now, in the light of this psychology, every human being can be explained, whatever man is, you can access through this psychological apparatus.
Question: What about western psychology?
There is so much of darkness in it. It has so much filth in it, but it is very, very dangerous actually.
The soul is this psychic being which has been put there; it’s quite different from the mind. Western psychology use soul and mind interchangeably. Which is wrong. We do not actually understand a man. A man is basically a psychic consciousness.
So we have reached this point and this story is to be understood properly. Once we know that psychic entities, not psychic beings, in the first place when agni is put forth and the sparks begin to work on the inconscient they are all psychic entities. Now what was the task of the psychic entity? Why are we here?
First of all, it is because the divine decided that inconscient should be drawn back to consciousness, it is the first decision. Secondly for that task the gods were asked to help in that task. Gods said: please we are alone, it is too dark we can't do it. So we all came down along with the divine Mother. So divine love is burning, as it were, with the hearth of divine love in the inconscient. We have a beautiful image of Vishnu sleeping below the ocean; this is the sign of it. You have perhaps seen Vishnu lying in the bottom of the ocean and asleep, it is that which has come down. Along with it we also have come down and we are like architects or masons doing the same work, which was given to agni, to awaken this inconscient. This task of agni is verified in the Rigveda.
There are 13 or 14 verses in the third Mandala of Rigveda. It is very, very interesting; Sri Aurobindo has himself translated all the 13 verses and commented upon them. It’s a wonderful gift of Sri Aurobindo to mankind. This is attributed to Vishwamitra. These verses are written by Vishwamitra. prancham yagyam chakrama this is the beginning, vardhtam ghihi,‒ we have accomplished a great task, as a result that our voice increased. It’s a triumphant voice of Vishwamitra and says we have discovered what is this agni, what is working and he says how agni evolves, works out, ‒ first matter, then life and the mind, and then Agni goes back again to its own home. This entire journey is described by Vishwamitra, so this theory of evolution of matter, life and mind is fully described in Vishwamitra’s 14 verses in the third Mandala. It’s very, very interesting and Sri Aurobindo himself has translated and has given his own comment on it, all the 14 verses, it is one of the most illuminating stories in the Rigveda.
So anyway, our task is to awaken the inconscient. It is we who have gradually developed out of matter, out of life, mind, and reached where we are now. All of us are digging, digging as it were and we have come up to the present level. But our present level is a result of all the past that we have done. So each one of us has got some share in this work and that share continues with us. All the work that we have done is our karma. Real karma is this karma, the work that we've been doing; our soul is basically a worker. In the Veda agni is described as a worker, he's a worker, he toils, God may be above they don't come and toil down unless they are demanded by the agni, otherwise agni is the toiler and along with agni we are also toilers in this world.
Now whatever each one of us has done is carried by us. This is our samskara as you said; these are the samskaras which you carry right from that time. Our baggage is quite a big one, like all the experiences we have gathered, we continue and when one dies, all this continues with us. Sri Aurobindo has described the entire process of rebirth very elaborately. It’s very, very instructive, also a part of occultism. So I’m speaking about it.
So I have to deal with every matter elaborately. If I don’t, …otherwise it remains all fluid. So I am going through the details so I sometimes tell stories about it so that it becomes more graphic as it were and also bring from Veda some allusions so that in our mind it becomes quite confirmed that this is a knowledge already available in the Veda, Upanishads, Gita, all this is there but all lost and now Sri Aurobindo has discovered it and put before and mankind in a glowing light. It’s a great gift that Sri Aurobindo has given to mankind and it's so useful to us, because without that knowledge we can't move forward. We have come to such a point of evolution that unless this knowledge is given to us, we won't be able to move forward. So far we have done it ignorantly, we have gone on tilling, tilling, tilling, toiling, toiling, toiling, digging, digging, digging, but we have reached this point.
Now what are we, what are we at present? Each one of us therefore carries with him a baggage. As Sri Krishna says: ‘not a single effort is lost’. He himself has said in the Gita, when Arjuna says I do many efforts here, when I die what happens? So Sri Krishna says: remember, not a single effort is lost. All that you do, he even says that even yoga bhrashta is born again into a family of wise people, learned people, of rich people, so that all the circumstances he gave are conducive to his further evolution; so nothing is lost.
Now, when we are born again after our death, but first I’ll tell you what Sri Aurobindo has said: when one dies, then our subtle body is cut from our physical body, the cord is cut as Mother said, the cord is cut, that is snapping, this snapping takes place and our other parts of the being they do not die, only physical body dies, that is to say it is cut from the life principle, mental principle, psychic principle, for the time being they all stand above. This entire story in Savitri for example, when Satyavan dies what happens thereafter? Satyavan's soul is taken. So it's a real fact, the whole thing comes out and we make a travel, after death there is a travel, it's also journey. Now this journey is done in a very systematic manner. In the first place we go to the subtle physical plane.