There is an autobiographical statement that I would like to make: ‘I had had read world history quite a good deal before I ever happened to read this book. And my study of history, ancient civilization, medieval times, modern times, I was thinking a lot after reading history and I asked the question, ─ what is in history the most important theme, historically, without any kind of bias or prejudice?’
If you read the historical pages of the world, at least I found the most recurrent theme is God, in the history of mankind. Recurrent theme, wherever you go, Egyptian civilization starts with God, Greek civilization is full of God and Gods, Persian civilization is full of Gods, Assyrian civilization, Indian civilization and throughout if you ask the greatest number of pages devoted in history, it is man’s search for God. It is the most significant theme in the history of mankind. It’s an incontrovertible statement, whether you believe in God or not that is a different matter but the fact is that man is preoccupation with God is the fundamental theme of human history. You cannot avoid, you may say that man is mad after God but so he is, that is why he returns again and again, even after saying that I don’t want God and he quarrels with God and he yet comes back to him and says, ‘I Love you so much’, I can’t avoid you, that is the significant theme of human history.
Sri Aurobindo captures the whole thing, therefore when I read the very first sentence of ‘The Life Divine’, I said, here is the truth.’ I had come to the conclusion, which is stated in the very 1st statement, you can imagine how much this book immediately captured me as soon as I looked. Nobody had told me that this book is one of the greatest books; nobody had said that it’s the greatest book. It simply happened to come in my life suddenly at one time and when I opened the book the very 1st sentence captured me thoroughly, because of this statement, that here is somebody who has seen as it were both telescopically and microscopically the whole human history and captured the whole fundamental theme in one sentence, very powerful sentence in which you can’t question. Where there is question he puts the word ‘seems’, you can’t controvert it. Where there is no question he puts the affirmative ‘is’. So, it is a complete, perfect statement.
Sri Aurobindo explains, ‘what is that preoccupation’, in two lines, “It manifests itself in the divination of Godhead”, man has it as it were divined, felt the secret presence of God, this is of ultimate knowledge, a kind of a magic of human history. Nowhere do you see God and yet man divines him that is as if the magic of man, man’s consciousness. So, “It manifests itself in the divination of Godhead, the impulse towards perfection, the search after pure Truth and unmixed Bliss, the sense of a secret immortality.” You read the whole history of mankind and these five words constantly occur everywhere,─ the search for Truth, the search for Bliss, the search for perfection, the search for Immortality, the search for the most beloved God. This is a constant theme as it were. Nobody even if the greatest critic of God cannot controvert this basic statement that historically this is true.
Sri Aurobindo gives some kind of a proof, a very clinching proof in the very 1st paragraph of all the statements that he has made so far. He says, “The ancient dawns of human knowledge have left us their witness to this constant aspiration…” If you want a proof of this aspiration, then take up the most ancient records, scientifically, we should not merely go by mythologies, stories which are told, which are current, which were told that they were told,─ No! The greatest proof is to go to the records. What are the records? Are there the most ancient records available in the world, ─ it is the Veda. It’s a record available to us and if you read the Vedas, what do you find in it? It’s nothing but a hymn of God, Immortality, Truth and Bliss. It is ‘Soma’, the wine of immortality that you drink, that is the aspiration in the Veda. So, this is the truth of the ancient, earliest preoccupation of the awakened human thought.
Sri Aurobindo says if you come to the present day; what do you see? “...today we see a humanity is satiated but not satisfied by victorious analysis of the externalities of Nature preparing to return to its primeval longings.” Today we are passing through a long period of scientific investigation and science has been trying to examine the externalities of nature. This is the speciality of the modern science. It does not go into the occult truth of things, spiritual truth of things but the externalities of nature and rigorously, it does not want to enter in the so-called non-sense of spirituality or religious. It simply wants to keep completely aloof from it so that it simply wants to examine the externalities of nature.
These externalities of nature when you examine, Sri Aurobindo says, we have reached the climax of it, as it were. Then if you ask the humanity are you now satisfied? You have supersonic speed, you can converse, and you have the magic of cinema and TV, so many things you have conquered, are you now happy, and satisfied? Sri Aurobindo uses the words, “Humanity is satiated but not satisfied”, which is a fact. If anybody wants to controvert, controvert it but it is a fact. “…..humanity satiated but not satisfied” and since it is not satisfied, what are the latest trends of humanity?
Why could Vivekananda, young man going from India to the West and speaks of Vedanta, simply speak, “Brothers and sisters of America” and there is applause, what is the magic of this man, why should this happen? It’s an expression of an appetite, a hunger for brotherhood and here is a man who expresses that brotherhood so simply, so spontaneously, from the bottom of the heart, from the soul, as it were. Godhead coming and speaking to mankind and there is an immediate response. Mankind is preparing, it’s only one small example, how mankind is preparing itself to return to the primeval longings, once again a tryst with God and man is returning to embrace God. That is his search for satisfaction has not been fulfilled.
So, Sri Aurobindo says “...today we see a humanity is satiated but not satisfied by victorious analysis of the externalities of Nature preparing to return to its primeval longings.” Then the last word, “The earliest formula of Wisdom promises to be its last, ─ God, Light, Freedom, Immortality.” He summarizes, who humanity is, the great aspiration of man written at large throughout the pages of history, everything that is in human history is recorded in five lines. A complete summary as it were to start with. This is what I call a ’dong’. ‘Dong’ of the orchestra from where all the strings of the music, begin to vibrate and if you read ‘The Life Divine’ as a musical composition, you will see how one movement gives rise to another movement, one harmony is giving rise to another harmony and a symphony of harmonies simultaneously and again falling into a hush and again giving rise to numerous harmonies.
If you read only ‘The Life Divine’, not from a logical, or psychological, or scientific, or philosophical point of view, but merely as a notation of music one can compose a new kind of music which will be breath-taking in the world. Even if one follows the rhythm of this book and produces a music, it will be most breath-taking and therefore if you read ‘The Life Divine’ in that sense you will get not only the greatest intellectual happiness and satisfaction but also artistic exposition and its satisfaction and the deepest musical stirrings of your being, so, that we can play with the spheres of the universe, simultaneously. This is the experience that we get from this great magnum opus of Sri Aurobindo.
We shall stop here today. I will be very happy if you could read the 1st chapter, when we meet next time.