The Life Divine—Chapters 1-7 (New Delhi, at Shubhra Ketu Foundation) - Q&A: 22 April 2008

The Evolutionary Ordering of Planes of Being

Today I felt that the basic material as far as today's lecture is concerned, and even yesterday is like that, it's the same as that of Veda vijnana. The basic material is the same, and the interpretation of Sri Aurobindo is very interesting, because when I compare it with the interpretation that Pandit Madhusudan Ojha gave, there appears to be two points because of which there is a difference. In the first place Madhusudan Ojha had no background of western philosophy at all. That is the first reason because of the difference, for example, this theory of evolution and Hegel, etc. He was unaware of it. Secondly, he didn't read any foreign literature. Sri Aurobindo had read much of it, even Latin and Greek, and all that, in spite of that, they are running parallel. Mana pranavada, this is very interesting. These are the three things and I am putting my first question about this, about which I have this confusion, and I have been asking this question to many scholars of Veda vijnana, maybe that you are able to solve the problem. The problem is like this: in Brihadaranyaka Upanishad the order is the same as given here, mind, life and matter, or rather matter life and mind, but in Yajurveda the order is a bit different. They start with matter all right. They call it var, but then they bring in mind first and then comes life. That is the order given in the Yajurveda. These two types of order have been puzzling me. How is it that the Upanishad is following this order and the Yajurveda is following another order? And, interestingly, sir, Yajurveda is identifying these three with three: matter with Rigveda, mind with Yajurveda, Mind comes next in Yajurveda, and this prana life with Samaveda, and the reason for that is this - that, since all objects which are solid and visible, are product of Agni according to Vyas and agni, is the devata of Rigveda and therefore matter is connected with Rigveda. Since mind is the most swift moving object and Vayu is the devata of Yajurveda, therefore mind has been identified with Yajur Veda and Sama Veda, sam means lustre, illuminate, and pran it is supposed that prana is something which goes beyond matter in my body, the halo or the aura that is prana, and that is Sama also. That is an order given in the Yajurveda and in the Brihadaranyaka Upanishad follows the same order. Can you solve this problem why this order is reversed in Yajurveda and in Brihadaranyaka Upanishad? Can we justify matter, mind and prana, this order also somewhere?

Tell me first what the nasadiya sukta says about prana and mind.

कामस् तद् अग्रे सम् अवर्तताधि मनसो रेतः प्रथमं यद् आसीत् |
सतो बन्धुम् असति निर् अविन्दन् हृदि प्रतीष्या कवयो मनीषा ||

kāmas tad agre sam avartatādhi manaso retaḥ prathamaṃ yad āsīt |
sato bandhum asati nir avindan hṛdi pratīṣyā kavayo manīṣā ||

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 10.129.4

The desire comes first and desire is the seed of the mind.

So according to me in the nasadiya sukta first is the tamas, matter, then is kama, desire, and kama is the seed of mind. Therefore, mind comes later on.

This order is also followed in Brihadaranyaka Upanishad but I do not know why Yajurveda gives a different order. That problem is left. The order is:

(95) richam vacham pra padye mano yajuhu pra padye sama pranam pra papadye chakshuhu shrotram pra papadye vagojaha sahojo mayi pranana nao

(36/1, Yajurveda)

So the order has been a bit changed.

But I have a big problem with Madhusudan Ojha on this question.

No sir actually Madhusudan Ojha gives the same order as it is given here. It is only in the Yajurveda itself that the order has been reversed, not by Madhusudan Ojha.

But are you sure that the description given there is a chronological description?

See it is not, it is not chronological.

So that's what I’m saying. In the case of nasadiya sukta, there is a chronological order given. Afterwards, when you describe things, you can describe it many different ways unless it is an evolutionary description in which one after the other is ordered, then I would say there is a problem.

Do you support identifying Agni with matter?

There also I have a problem to say that Agni is the source of matter is in a sense true, but it is also the source also of life. It is also a source of mind. It is not merely of matter, because Agni is the real force of evolution, everything that evolves is evolved out of because of the presence of Agni. Agni was seen by the gods in the waters of the supreme. This is what Vishwamitra describes in his third chapter, that Agni was seen by the gods in the waters of the supreme.

Now Sri Aurobindo said the waters of the supreme, so those waters are the supramental waters of Punjab as western scholars want them to be described. So those waters are the supramental waters of mahat, these waters are the waters of which have been described separately as mahati or Bharati, Ila, Saraswati, Daksha, Sarama. At least five names have been given. There are seven rivers according to them, saptavani. So these are the seven waters in the supreme consciousness. In that supreme consciousness, Agni was found to be present. It’s a very special element which was seen by the gods, and it is that agni, which was laid into the tamah tamasa asit that which was dense darkness in that densest darkness Agni was laid. As a result of that the evolutionary force emerged, so that Agni is the propelling force of matter, life and mind and even beyond and as Sri Aurobindo points out Vishwamitra describes the development of all these one after the other. As Sri Aurobindo says, in the first place, there is a description of ashwa, of the mares. These seven powers when they foster Agni over here, they take the form of prana, meres, ashwah, ashwah is the sign of prana, at the higher level they became vani at the mental level and the mind is described as something that is transparent, neither clad nor naked. There’s a description given by vishwamitra that the forces or the powers which were fostering Agni at the mental level are in the form of seven youthful damsels. It is said they devour not, at the vital level the forces devour each other. At the mental level they don't devour, and it is they who foster Agni at the mental level. Then these forces rise up, Agni also is fostered at a higher level until Agni reaches back to its sve dame up to its own home.

This whole description is given by Vishwamitra in the third chapter, third mandala. So there also the description is first matter, then life, then mind and then the higher levels. So to identify Agni only with matter, I always find it difficult. It is ritualistically so said, but I don't see any proof of it.

*..What is the interpretation of the seven number by Sri Aurobindo?

The three divine principles at the highest level are Sat, Chit and Ananda; fourth is Mahat; then is Dyauh, then Bhuvah, and Bhu. These are the seven principles. Sri Aurobindo says there is a great correspondence between these seven and the same seven described in the puranas. So this maha is the same as swaha, which is the highest beyond Dyauh is Swara. If you count Dyauh as a principle, then Swaha is the highest level of Dyauh, but otherwise It is the principle of truth, the principle of vast, the principle of the right, the truth, right and the vast. So Sri Aurobindo has very clearly stated.. in volume number 10.

So these seven principles and seven principles of puranas and even if you read the Taittiriya Upanishad, you find the same classification in Taittiriya Upanishad also, it goes up to ananda and ananda is supposed to be the union of sat and chit, that is to say ananda by itself is a union of sat and chit, so that is why ananda is considered to be the highest in the Taittiriya Upanishad. But below the ananda is vijnana and vijnana is the fourth principle, which Taittiriya Upanishad itself says is what the rishi Chaiman has discovered beyond the physical, vital and mental. The fourth principle has been this. So Sri Aurobindo founds out that vijnana is the supermind, vijnanamaya is supermind. So body, life and mind and the supermind and then comes ananda and ananda is union of both sat and chit, therefore that is the highest principle. So the Taittiriya Upanishad says that the moment you enter into ananda, that's the supreme state you achieve.

So there is some difference of opinion amongst the scholars about this ananda because ananda is said to be a kosha, a sheath, therefore ananda is not so, it is only a sheath, just as others are koshas, it is also a kosha, anandamaya kosha only. Now one school of scholars think that, no, anand is the very essence of soul. It is the soul itself. The other says that no, since it is a kosha only, therefore, anand is not really the soul, it is just a sheath which covers the soul. What does Sri Aurobindo say about this thing?

What is the meaning of a sheath? What is the stuff of the sheath? What is the stuff of it? That is where the problem lies. When we speak of the physical sheath, the substance is matter. When you speak of pranamaya sharira, the sheath is itself made of prana. In the manomaya sheath also, the stuff is mind, it's a mind substance. Vijnanamaya is also supramental substance. Similarly, ananda also the stuff is anandamaya, so both sheath and that which is covered is also of the same nature, because after all what is it that is covered? What is covered is the powers and each packet of power is covered by sheaths, and the sheath corresponds to this power which is covered. So Sri Aurobindo speaks of the seven-fold substance. Substance itself is sevenfold, the ascending series of the substance that is the whole chapter Sri Aurobindo has written.

In fact, then we say that in non-dualism the question whether ananda is identical with self or just its power is irrelevant, because there are no two in a sense.

In a sense, it is only in Jainism that this question becomes very very important, because the soul and body are regarded to be two separate realities. So you are right in the non-realistic philosophy the problem is not so acute.

Sir, interestingly, this line which you try to explain today in some detail also but yourself you said that it is a difficult problem in which the condition of activity itself seems to be inertia. You yourself said that this is difficult to understand and you try to explain it also. Now I would give how Pandit Madusudan Ojha explains this thing, and you will verify whether it corroborates with what you understand, or is it different from them. He says that the quantity of inertia as it becomes less, the activity becomes greater. For example, if I have to reach the station, I take one speed and reach there in one hour. If I reach there in half an hour, the inertia portion becomes less and activity becomes greater and he says in a mystical way that if the inertia is zero, then the activity is cent percent. If I reach the station in zero time, that means that there is no inertia at all. It is all activity. Does this example solves this problem of this line which you find difficult?

I think so. What you say is very true. Basically the distinction between matter and life is not so great as it is made out. Both are active, Matter is also active, Life is also active, but the principle of inertia is the very principle of activity in matter in the sense that I described that first of all, it requires to be pushed as in physics. In modern physics matter is that which has no motion of its own. It needs to be pushed, and, secondly, once pushed it can't be stopped. That is how Newton explains the movement of planets. They are all pushed, they go on moving and they cannot be stopped. That is the principle of inertia.

In the case of life, it is not so, you can stop by yourself, you can grow by yourself. You can push, you can restrain by yourself. So that principle of inertia is transcended in the movement of life force.

According to Newton who pushed these planets?

God. It is true. Newton believed in God. Afterwards, his children did not believe but Newton the father, he believed in God, and he said that we require God to start the universe, but once started, then you don't need God afterwards.

Sir, in the way how this earth moves it has been said, it may be nearer to Newton that Indra kicked earth and therefore it started moving. That is what he said there. Now Indra could be the sun and could be that they are thinking that it is because of the sun that the earth is moving. If there were no sun, the earth would not move and that is understandable also. So that is what they say.

Sir, you said one thing that the speed of mind is slow, the speed of life is greater and somehow they have to be reconciled or there should be accordance between the two. How that accordance comes, will the mind start working swiftly, or will the life slow down to have reconcile between the two or will both of them contribute to it mind will be a little swifter and life will be becoming a little slower? How will the reconciliation come?

What I said is only relatively true, actually manas is described in the Yajurveda as you know:

(अथ शिवसंकल्प मन्त्र)
 यज्जाग्रतो दूरमुदैति दैवं तदु सुप्तस्य तथैवैति ।
दूरंगमं ज्योतिषां ज्योतिरेकं तन्मे मनः शिवसङ्कल्पमस्तु ॥३॥

  1. Yaj jaagrato dooram udaiti daivam
    tadu suptasya tathai-vaiti.
    Doo-ranga-mam jyotishaam jyoti-rekam
    tan-me manah shiva-sankalpam astu.

That far-going light of all lights that flies to distances in one's wakeful state, and even so, in one's sleep, may that my mind be filled with beautiful and benevolent thoughts.

So it is not true that the mind is slow. It is in the evolutionary movement that the principle of the mind effects a kind of balancing results. If you take the sankhya, for example, and equate tamas with matter, rajas with life and satva with the mind, and if you say that according to samkhya sattva is the power of balance, rajas is the power of force. It is dynamic, pushing forward, tamas restrains it. So tamas is a force of inertia, you might say rajas is a force of movement and sattva is the power of balancing, not of restraint but of balancing. That’s why the satwik mind is a balanced mind. It balances things.

Now this badance is not exactly restrictive of movement, but it is a kind of power of tempering the excesses of the movement of rajas. In the evolutionary movement therefore we do find that people who think they take time to act, those who don't think much, they start acting and they act even rashly. Now you might say that therefore the mind has an effect of restraining the force of the mind. In that sense, we might say that the mind is a power which acts slowly, but actually speaking, what happens is that the mind is very near the staticity of the soul.

The purusha, which is behind the mind, is nearer to the mind, mind is nearer to the purusa and purusha, although it is both shara and akshara, in our movement of inward development, the akshara consciousness is more easily experienced. Therefore, the mind happens to become more and more stable, not slow, but more and more stable and mental consciousness achieves its height when it is greatly stabilised in the silence of the mind because of this nearness to the akshara purusa. In that sense, you might say that the mind is slow. It is only from a psychological point of view, but otherwise, originally the mind is the parent of the entire movement of involution.

Mind is a child of the supermind, the supermind, when it begins to become involved, it becomes mind first of all. Sri Aurobindo calls mind as the last action of the supermind, the last operation of the supermind. It is the supermind itself, but in its last operation, it is in the mind that the principle of exclusive concentration of consciousness begins to act most powerfully, as a result of which there is a downward movement as a result ultimately it comes down into the inconscience. What is called tamaha, which was shrouded in tama, it is itself a result of the downward movement of the mind. Therefore, you might say the mind is the parent of the inconscience.

So supermind and mind are in that sense very powerful, very dynamic, but because of the movement which has taken place in the inconscience and mind which is shrouded in the tamas, it becomes slowed down. But otherwise mind itself is very, very powerful. It moves very fast. In fact, as it is said, mind’s speed is greater than the speed of light, which is quite true. But psychologically it is true that when you think our dynamic action is greatly reduced and therefore mental beings happen to be very slow and they take time even to take decisions. Those who are very dynamic people that take decisions on the spot, very decisive and they immediately rush into action. But those who are mental beings, they take a lot of time to consider various alternatives, and then they weigh the consequences of all the alternatives and then take a decision. It becomes like an Arjuna when he's overpowered by his mental indecisions, his decisive power of action is gone. It is only when this mind becomes enlightened, and mind and force are combined together that he becomes very powerful thereafter.

So a time would come in the development of the mind when it transcends the limitations which are ordinarily there in our ignorant consciousness that it becomes kavikratu, then it is extremely dynamic, very, very powerful and that's a supramental state.

But sir, this conflict between people who are speculative and those who are active dynamic, what could be the golden mean between the two? Can we lay down some principle for finding out the means that one doesn't become so slow in speculations, contemplations that he almost acts nothing, on the other hand, a man who doesn't think anything and is always active? This is, I suppose, a question of generation gap also in modern times. The older people, they want to go slow; the younger people, they want to be rash and therefore there is a conflict between the two. Now can this conflict be resolved or say: can a golden mean be found, some criteria that, to that extent, dynamism is all right, to that extent, this speculative mind is all right?

Ultimately the mind consciousness has to be transformed into supramental consciousness, and life principle has to accept obedience to the higher level of consciousness. This is the only law which can harmonise. The mental beings have to be dynamic much more instead of saying, let me now think, take decisions after a lot of deliberations. The modern mind will not stop if you are going to take time, you take your own time. In the meantime, action will be done. If you therefore want to guide the young people, your mental consciousness should be very, very powerful, so as to rise into a higher level of consciousness. Therefore, supramental being can direct the modern young people better, this true supramental being it immediately connects with the young rush of the heart and can directly say instead of doing this, why don't you do that and he will give the reasoning also very clearly, because it's a clear sighted consciousness, it's not, but and if and all that. The vital mind doesn't like buts and ifs, it says you tell me decisively what is right and tell me this result will come out, then I’ll do it. So if you have the capacity, then only you can direct the young people.

Ethics of Shastra and Higher Ethics

Sir, what about a man who depends more on the scriptures, whenever there is a problem I look into the scripture what would be the solution and whatever solution to my mind appears in the scripture, I guide people according to that. I do not know whether that guidance is right or wrong. I don't apply my mind. I think that what lord Krishna said in the Gita - I am not wiser than him that I should apply my mind and do all that. Well, maybe that my interpretation of scripture could be wrong at that time, that is my weakness, but I, for example, hold what lord Krishna said:

तस्माच्छास्त्रं प्रमाणं ते कार्याकार्यव्यवस्थितौ
ज्ञात्वा शास्त्रविधानोक्तं कर्म कर्तुमिहार्हसि ॥ 16.24

Therefore let the Shastra be thy authority in determining what ought to be done or what ought not to be done. Knowing what hath been declared by the rules of the Shastra, thou oughtest to work in this world.

Bhagavad Gita 16.24

You depend on your mind. It has no limitation. You may take another decision, I may take another decision. There is no end to it if we go on thinking in our own mind, therefore, there is a school, a very well known school, we can say that it depends on scripture and it is a dead school because it doesn't move with the times because what he said was 5 000 years back. It may not be an updated decision. That is one view. The other view is that if we go individually taking decisions, what is the authority that our decision is correct unless we have a supermind which we don't have. So when I say that I take decisions according to scriptures, where do I stand?

You see, since you are describing the Gita, we must go to the next chapter. After what you say, there's a next chapter in which Arjuna puts the question that if there is sraddha on account of which I deviate from shastra, then he says tell me what are the qualities of shraddha in which my deviation from shastra would be justified. So there is in the Gita itself a kind of an opening into going beyond shastra. As long as you follow shastra, it is all right, but it also says that there is also another way by which you can act provided you act on shraddha and provided you act on sraddha and provided it is sattvik because he distinguishes between three kinds of sraddha—tamasik, rajasik and satwik, and he says if you take your recourse to satwik shraddha and if you act accordingly, you can deviate from shastra because he says:

सत्त्वानुरूपा सर्वस्य श्रद्धा भवति भारत ।
श्रद्धामयोऽयं पुरुषो यो यच्छ्रद्धः स एव सः ॥ 17.3

The faith of each man takes the shape given to it by his stuff of being, O Bharata. This Purusha, this soul in man, is, as it were, made of shraddha, a faith, a will to be, a belief in itself and existence, and whatever is that will, faith or constituting belief in him, he is that and that is he.

Bhagavad Gita 17.3

So there is a higher authority than shastra, and that is why this is a very important qualification in the Gita. In the previous scriptures, it was said that you should always follow. shastra and Gita also gives that injunction, but Gita is also revolutionary and says that you can deviate from shastra, provided you act on the shaddha. Now this is a very important qualification and he describes that as not a belief. That is a normal idea that sraddha is a belief, astha jisme hai. It’s not that. According to the Gita shraddha belongs to the para prakriti. This is in the Gita, a very important perception. Last six chapters are actually devoted to trigunatita. You go beyond the three gunas.

Now when you go beyond the three gunas and be still active, it can't be apara prakriti. Three gunas belong to apara prakriti, but Sri Krishna says there is also para prakriti. Sri Krishna himself says I have got two prakritis, apara prakriti and para prakriti and the last six chapters are actually devoted to the state of trigunatita. Therefore, if you examine all the aspects of the six chapters, they all refer to para prakriti. Therefore shraddha, if it is only shraddha which emerges out of satwik, rajasik and tamasik, it is apara prakriti. But if you rise up to satviki shraddha, then there is an opening. You go beyond the three gunas and there is a light which comes from above, which is a dynamic will of the divine himself, para prakriti’s decision, not apara prakriti’s decision. The will of the supreme is manifest.

Now that will of the supreme acting in our consciousness, which comes in the form of shraddha, it comes in many forms, it comes in the form of kartavyam karma, it is also a manifestation of para prakriti. It comes in the form of swabhava. It is also a manifestation of para prakriti, swabhava is not the swabhava of sattva, rajas and tamas. The real swabhava is the bhava of the swa, swa is the soul, and soul is a child of the supreme:

para prakriti jiva bhuta

ममैवांशो जीवलोके जीवभूतः सनातनः ।
मनःषष्ठानीन्द्रियाणि प्रकृतिस्थानि कर्षति ॥ 15.7

It is an eternal portion of Me that becomes the Jiva in the world of living creatures and cultivates the subjective powers of Prakriti, mind and the five senses.

Bhagavad Gita 15.7

Therefore, the soul is a child of the supreme, so swabhava is the real becoming of the soul, not of apara prakriti. Therefore, swabhava is not the swabahava of sattva, rajas and tamas. Similarly swadharma is not the dharma of sattva, rajas and tamas, but dharma of this swa, that which comes from a law of self-development. Therefore, the last six chapters give you the description as to how para prakriti when you try to go from three gunas upward and try to meet the para prakriti. Then the force of para prakriti begins to descend in you. It descends first in the form of sraddha. It descends in the form of kartavyam karma, it descends into the form of swabhava, in the form of swadharma. These are the different methods by which para prakriti begins to manifest.

So Sri Krishna transcends this whole what he says in the earlier chapter of shastra, he transcends it in these chapters and says: shastra is all right as long as you are bound by three gunas. You don't have a higher light, but you must transcend that light and if you can transcend, then shastra is not binding on you, provided you act upon sraddha.

So the problem is that if one transcends the trigunas, how shall we act because all activities come from rajo guna only?

No, that is what Sri Krishna says. Not all activity is prakriti's activities. Para prakriti also is activity. Para prakriti is not a silent being, it is the divine force. There is a difference between apara prakriti which consists of sattva, rajas and tamas, but apart from these three gunas, there is another power of action which is the nature of divine nature. It is not trigunatmak, it is trigunatita, it is active, it is a divine action. The divine will is dynamic. It’s not rajasik, the divine will is the divine's consciousness, the divine shakti, that is where the Veda and the Gita meet together. The Vedic teaching is that you discover the divine's Will.

Sir, is there an example in history where the person is acting and going beyond the three gunas? Can we have some model?

Krishna himself. He doesn't act according to sattva, rajas and tamas. His action is seated much higher. You see Sri Rama acted on the sattva. His highest actions were all determined by sattva, therefore he is called maryada purusha, but Sri Krishna goes beyond, and his station of action is much beyond. That is why he is called anandamaya, he is the lord which is anandamaya, and he is the Avatar of anandamaya and his action is higher than the three gunas.

Is Arjuna’s action after vishwadarshan also comes from above?

That is to say in his case the impulsion comes from above the three gunas, Because it is a divine will, it is revealed what is the divine's will, but as it acts in him, it is still at the lower nature. So you can't give him as an example. You can say that there is impulsion which he received was from above. In that sense, you might say that he receives the command not from trigunatmak prakriti. He got the command from the higher will, para prakriti. The vishwaroop darshan that Sri Krishna shows is the action of the divine of para prakriti, and he says in my para prakriti I am myself participating in the war. I am myself the one who is the devourer of things, that is para prakriti and having seen it Sri Krishna says now you join your will with that Will, therefore you obey that will and when you obey that Will, you are actually doing an action which is blameless, because that action is without blame.

Sir, about Sri Krishna, there are two objections from two sides, not two objections, rather two perspectives from which Sri Krishna is being seen. One is that of Arya Samaj. Whenever there is something in his character, for example raslila, Arya Samaj denies it that this is just a myth. A higher person cannot do raslila. This is one perspective. I do not know whether we accept this or not. The other perspective is, unfortunately, that of the Jains who think that Sri Krishna, since he instigated argument to fight, he is responsible for all violence and therefore, perhaps you know according to the Jains, they don't say it on the platform, but in the shastras is there that he is in the third head at the moment, because of the great violence that he inspired through Gita. Now, these are the two things. One thing that whenever we find that lord Krishna's activities are not in harmony with the activities of lord Rama which is sattvik, Sri Krishna is also sattvik. It is not beyond the three gunas. That is what appears to me to be the Arya Samaj’s interpretation of Sri Krishna's life. Another interpretation which is antagonistic of the Jains and the Buddhist, also, perhaps that no, you cannot act like that, which is against common morality, and if he did it, it was a sin. He cannot say that I am beyond all this. Now what would Sri Aurobindo say about these things about lord Krishna? How would he interpret all these, because these are two very debatable things?

Sri Aurobindo's point of view is how do you judge an individual? What is your measurement of your judgment? Have the Jains seen Sri Krishna in spiritual life? This is the question you have heard about Sri Krishna, you have read about Sri Krishna. Have you seen Sri Krishna? Have you met him? Have you had contact with him spiritually? In fact, Jains and Buddhists or Arya Samajis would deny the possibility of seeing Sri Krishna or Rama or any one of them.

Jainism is based upon one very fundamental, spiritual experience, which is undeniable, it is the experience of the jivatman, the individual soul, when it is absolutely quiet, free from all blemishes, free from all boundage to matter, that experience is a varied experience and all that Jainism says about that and all it says about whatever consequences of that experience is valid because you can verify it. Sri Aurobindo says that all statements about spiritual matters must be capable of being judged on the ground of spiritual experience, not because it is written. What is written is only an indication, but what is written should have two elements in it. An accurate description of the experience and, secondly, methods by which that experience can be attained. Unless these two things are given, that statement may be regarded as a statement without much value. Now, Jainism describes the experience of kaivalya very clearly. It also describes the methods by which you can have it. Now these methods can be cultivated by you and me, and you can also arrive at the same experience. So far, it is perfectly well. In the same way, can any Jain say that Krishna has described a certain experience, namely Vishwarupa darshan, he has described the methods by which you can have Vishwarupa darshan as described in the Gita, the methods by which you can arrive at Vishwarupa’s reproduction, have you practised those methods? That is the question? Have you attempted to have that experience? Have you seen Vishwarupa darshan? Have you tried to verify whether it's right or wrong? If you're not verified, then you have no right to judge it. On what ground do you judge? What is the ground of saying that Sri Krishna is like that? What is your ground? How do you judge?

Their own scripture.

Scripture means scripture simply is written by somebody. Has the scripture writer himself experienced it? or is it based upon some deductions? According to me, all the descriptions which are given are deductions. Deductions from the understanding of the principle of ahimsa. Ahimsa is a certain doctrine and application of a doctrine, the practice of which leads you to the experience of jivatman, which is perfectly alright, but what is the sanctity of the principle of ahimsa from where you derive it? What is the spiritual basis of ahimsa? If you ask this question, there is a lot of infirmity in Jainism, for example jivdaya, why should you have jivdaya? Myself and yourself, we both are jivas. Actually, you have to work out your own experience by yourself, I have to work out my own experience by myself. From where do you derive this idea that I should have jivdaya? The jiva does not have daya of its own, daya is not a part of jiva's experience of its nature. It is simply a method by which you are prescribing that if you do it, your tranquillity of mind will be greater if you don't bother about all the ahimsa and all that.

Therefore, there is also in the practice of Jainism a very big difficulty. We know that the moment you breathe, you are killing so many jivas. What do you do about it? Do you kill yourself? you don't. How do you reconcile with your ahimsa without breathing? Then they say that is at least allowed, that much breathing is allowed. But if you ask the question, why is it allowed even that much? Why not to kill yourself right from the beginning? all jivdaya? Why don't you do it? I mean if you apply that principle strictly and fully up to the end, and now if you say that to that extent you allow, then why don't you allow the killing of Duryodhana? he's also like mosquitoes, basically he's also like a mosquito. So if you kill him, what is wrong about it? If you can kill all the jivas around, because your breathing is to be allowed, why don't you do it? Therefore, if you go strictly, I mean, logically, you come to certain conclusions and unacceptable conclusions.

Now, if you allow on that basis and go forward and say, oh Krishna was wrong here there. How do you know? You can know right or wrong at that level of consciousness only when you have verified it by going into that state of experience? As Kant rightly said, you cannot judge a moral man without yourself being moral, whether somebody is moral or not, you can't judge the morality of a moral man unless you yourself are moral. How do you judge it?

Now Sri Aurobindo says that, in order to understand Sri Krishna, you try to go into the experience of Sri Krishna, which is described in the Gita. Sri Krishna himself has said: at what stage can you have Vishwaroopa darshan, practice all that has been said by him, attain siddhi pragya consciousness. That is one side. Then he speaks of the path of action, offer all your actions to the supreme divine. Then he says you arrive at a bhakti and give yourself, your heart, mind, body, everything at the feet of the divine. When you have achieved all this and then ask as Arjuna asked: tell me O Lord, what is your will? It is in that condition that you can have the vishwaroopa darshan. Let any Jain say I have practised all these paths and I have not found any such explanation. Let them say that, I’ll be satisfied. They can say that I have practised this siddhi pragya condition, I have practised offering of all my actions to the supreme lord. There itself is a problem with Jainism. God does not exist, so where is a question of offering the actions to the lord. So, on what basis do you think lord does not exist? Simply because in your experience you're not seeing the lord. Fine, I have no quarrel with it. But if you quarrel with somebody and say lord does not exist in your experience, has it found that God does not exist? Have you practised all the practises which have been prescribed for the experience of the lord?

The Veda, for example, describes the descriptions of experience of the lord. The Veda says that sacrifice is the means by which you can experience God; you can tune your will with the will of God. If you sacrifice all your actions to him and this sacrifice of many kinds, not one kind, there are levels and levels of sacrifices. Now Jainism simply washes out and says all that is what is the value? Why do you wash it out? There’s a big scripture given there, a big shastra is given. How can you wash it out? On what ground do you wash it out? That is my difficulty with the Jainistic approach to spirituality. As far as the experience of jivatman is concerned, it is conceded. Fine. This is good. There’s no dispute at all about jivatman experience, it’s a valid experience. Jivatman exists as against Vedanta which says jivatman does not exist. I fully agree that jivatman exists. Sri Krishna himself says jivatman exists. So, in that respect, both Krishna's teaching and the teaching of Jainism coincides.

Sri Aurobindo’s answer would be that in all spiritual matters, the judgment should be on the verification of spiritual experiences. Do not judge a spiritual experience by applying your mental criteria. Your own experience is not to be judged by mental criteria. Buddhist will throw away your experience by logic. Therefore your experience is wrong? How do you deal with the Buddhist experience that there is no jivatman at all?

Sir, that could be true about spiritual experience, but there is another problem with ethics. Ethics must lay down some rules which are applicable to all and if a person like lord Krishna acts in a way which may be not sinful for him at his stage. But what should the others who have not attained that situation do? Therefore, it appeals to the common sense that we should have some rules, common rules which can be applied to everybody. Lord Sri Krishna could be an exception because of the height that he has reached and which we all know cannot be reached by everybody, so some general rules should be there. This is one thing. What should be those general rules?

That is true. That is why Sri Krishna says: follow shastra. He does not deny, don't follow shastra only. He says that a time must come in your life when you should also say that this shastra is not all. There are higher principles, also do not disturb ordinary human beings and tell them you do this. Do that and don't even give reasonings and lectures, and all that you say do this.

Sir, forgive me for saying that that is the situation, and that is the situation with shankar. also, he says shastras are to be superseded at one stage, then shall it apply to this shastra also, because this is also a shasta?

No. This shastra is of such a nature that it gives room for life, Gita is a shastra but that shastra itself says there's a room for it.

sarvodharman paritajya

All dharmas are to be renounced, it's a part of shastra itself. It says shastras are valid to a certain point of development and until you have reached that point, don't give it up either, follow, but there are also higher modes of action. And, ultimately, when you reach that point, you will have some very big difficulties. Arjuna was actually following all the shastras when he came up with all the questions. His question was based upon shastra. His shastra said that you should enjoy only in partnership with your brothers, you should not enjoy alone by yourself. Shastra says that, of course for the sake of the right action, you can renounce many other enjoyments and all that for the right action, and he says it is true, I know that shastra and dharma requires that this unjust man should be killed. I understand it very well, but I have another shastra also. I am prepared to do that if that was the end of the matter, I have another problem that, if I fight there will be consequences, consequences will be that there will be a massive slaughter and a large number of young men would be killed and their women, the widows, will go on the wrong paths. As a result, they will take the wrong path and therefore I’ll be the creator of a wrong dharma, and it is said, he says, that we are hearing that one who is the perpetrator of the kula dharma nasha, he will go into the seventh hell and therefore I will not fight. This is his argument, so you might say that whatever he was saying was shastra.

Sri Krishna says that because when you follow shastras rigorously, a time will come in your life when you will face this dilemma, you are bound to face because human life is like that, human life is multi-sided. If it was only one-sided, then shastra of a limited kind will do and for most of the people it is enough because most of the people don't live multi-sided lives. Arjuna was a multi-sided personality and therefore his responsibility was multi-sided and therefore he was confronting three shastras at the same time: enjoy only in the company of your friends, one shastra; kill for the sake of justice without expecting to enjoy with your friends; thirdly, do not kill if your killing ultimately leads to kula dharma nasha. Three shastras. Now, what shall I do?

This kind of dilemma is bound to arise in human life. Then what is the answer? That’s why Sri Aurobindo says Gita is not a book of ethics. Gita’s teaching starts where ethics is about to end, and the very problem that Arjuna brings is based upon conflict of ethical standards, and he has no alternative to find a way by which decisively he should do one thing or the other. That’s why he says to Sri Krishna, don't bewilder my mind by saying that action is also all right, inaction is also alright and all kinds of arguments that you are giving, but you tell me decisively what is the right thing for me to do, I’ll do that. Therefore, Sri Krishna says:

सर्वधर्मान्परित्यज्य मामेकं शरणं व्रज
अहं त्वा सर्वपापेभ्यो मोक्ष्ययिष्यामि मा शुचः ॥ 18.66

Abandon all dharmas and take refuge in Me alone. I will deliver thee from all sin and evil, do not grieve.

Bhagavad Gita 18.66

You come to me and you do what I am doing. I am doing from a state of consciousness which transcends trigunas. All dharmas are transcended, it is pure divine will, para prakriti’s action, if you join your will with that will, and that is the climax of karma yoga, that by offering karma, ultimately, you reach a point where prakriti is transcended and the devi prakriti begins to manifest and then you get the right action, which is absolutely without blemish.

Now, Sri Krishna’s adesh is meant for everybody whoever has reached a point where he faces this conflict, and particularly today, today's man is multi-sided like Arjuna. What was true of Arjuna, we are all Arjunas today because we all face multi-sided responsibilities today. At one time, at that time, people were all following only one dharma, kshatriya dharma or brahman dharma or something. Today, all dharmas are mixed. You are a professor, you are also a friend, you are also an advisor, you have a multi-sided personality today and therefore your dharmas are varied and they tend to conflict. That is why Sri Aurobindo says Sri Krishna’s teaching is more relevant today than ever before, because modern man in a very large way represents Arjuna and all of us face similar problems. Therefore, the teaching of the Gita is directly relevant.

Now this question, however, of hinsa remains and that question with Jaina say that he ultimately preached the idea of hinsa.

What about brahmacharya sir, which Arya Samaji objects about raslila?

The question is: did Dayananda Saraswati practice the kind of yoga which is given in the Veda? He did not see in the Veda a yoga. He saw in the Veda only ethical principles laid down. He perceived in the Veda a description of the supreme lord and how we should lead our life. His philosophy was determined by purva mimamsa. If you read his philosophy, it is basically a philosophy of purva mimamsa, according to which you do the action, you will have the consequences and fruits of action. If you do good actions, you will have happy consequences. He also accepted that you will go to swarga. But according to purva mimamsa, swarga isn't a permanent home. As soon as there is shaya of your old punya karma, you come again and take rebirth. Coming out of the cycle of rebirth is not the aim of purva mimamsa. The aim of life is to go on and enjoy as much as possible, aspire to go to heaven as long as you like, you are bound to come down. Ultimately, this is all that his ultimate teaching is. It has nothing to do with either karma yoga or jnana yoga or bhakti yoga. There is no such yoga. There is only upasana, there is no yoga. Only yoga is a yoga of patanjali: asana, pranayama, a little bit of dhyana and every day you should do tapas, this sandhya and home. That is it, it's a good life you lead, it's a good ethical life.

There is no assertion in Dayananda Saraswati of the experience of God, seeing God face to face, that is why Arya Samaj do not even see Ramakrishna with kind eyes, even Ramkrishna. They laughed at him. He said he was a dancer. He was dancing. There is nothing great in him. He had all kinds of statements which are all bizarre. Suddenly he would go into a fit, suddenly he would go into trance, suddenly he would go and talk and then used some abusive language, very ordinary. What was in it? nothing. He didn't know shastra. He didn't know Veda, didn’t know Upanishads. What is great about him?

So Arya samaj is limited in a certain perception and therefore we cannot be guided. If you are real seekers of light, then we must understand what is the greatness of the Veda. Is it only ethical principles given in the Veda which are the greatest? no. Actually Dayananda Saraswati says there are no gods, which is the principal element of the Veda. He says that all Vedas are nothing but the names of vidwans, learned men, Indra is a learned man, Agni is a learned man, vidwan or you may say it's a different name of God, but there are no gods. The whole Vedic literature, which gives you the occult significance of the gods, existence of multiplicity of gods, that whole knowledge is completely blotted out. So, even when I try to understand from all points of view now, if in my own life, I see Indra, what can I do? Should I say Dayananda is right or my experience of Indra is right?

When I was preparing for my IAS examination, I happened to read Sri Aurobindo's the Secret of the Veda and he said that Indra is the lord of illumined intelligence. Now at that time I found that my intelligence was quite dull, so I said all right, I shall do this tapasya of Indra, and it is a fact I had an experience of a tremendous lightening in my brain, it is a fact that my brain underwent a change after that moment. Now Shall I say that what is written about Indra is wrong? It’s a fact of my personal life. Now whom shall I believe? There is a cold tradition which says that Indra is a lord of illumined intelligence. I have practised, and I saw it is true. The Veda itself describes Indra as gomat. The one full of light is described as gomat, Agni is never described as gomat. It’s very interesting. The scientific nature of Veda is so great, it never describes Agni as gomat, but Indra always as gomat. That means the Vedic rishis knew very well the nature of Indra as distinguished from the nature of Agni. Both are names of God. Therefore they should be interchangeable. Why Veda does not make that mistake at all? Why does Veda not describe Indra and Agni by the same adjectives? Why?

So I came to the conclusion that Dyananda never claims that he had ever experience of gods. So I must go to those who experience gods and ask them: have you seen gods? and I found some of them. Yes, I said yes, they have seen gods. Gods do appear. Now what do you do about it? Should I believe this or that? I was brought up in the Arya Samaj from my boyhood and rigorously. I was more Arya Samaji than my father’s Arya Samaj. He was also Arya Samaji, but I was more than them in the pursuit of Arya Samaj. I was a tremendous critic of puranas and all these stories and I used to say puranas should be burnt. All temples should be closed. That was my view up to the age of 16. And I genuinely believed it. It is only when I understood that there are deeper truths in Indian spirituality and which cannot be denied. For example, murti puja, against which Dayanada has spoken so much, I found that murti can be real reality. You can experience the presence of the supreme in your murti. What can you do about it? If Dayananda has not experienced it, I can only say thank you, but I can see in the murti of Sri Krishna the real image of Krishna. I feel my contact with him. I feel he's present with me. It helps me if I see this. What can I do about it? Shall I believe Dayananda or shall I believe my experience and not only my experience but the experience of thousands who have seen. If Mirabai experiences girdhar gopal, is she wrong? and she was worshipping the image of Sri Krishna, Surdas was praying to Sri Krishna. I mean hundreds and thousands of examples. Is Ramkrishna wrong when she says I see Kali, she's present here and when he tried to kill himself Kali came and stopped him. These are all myths? It’s a personal fact that he was about to kill himself really and he was stopped by kali. She manifested. When Vivekananda says I went to kali and prayed. I forgot my own prayer that I wanted a job and I simply prayed that I want only my karma, jnana, bhakti. That was my prayer. Now shall I say Vivekananda was quite wrong. There are thousands of experiences of gods and goddesses in this country. On this side this is the evidence. If I’m a true scientist of spiritual life, I must go by evidence not by somebody who has no himself never claims that he had any experience. If he had experience and then gone beyond, I would understand it, but he never claims himself. Therefore, Dyananda's views I do not count to be authentic in this regard. For example, Dayananda does not accept the possibility of Avatar at all. He says that Rama and Krishna were very great men. That’s all. Mahatma the bade—but that is not true.

There is avatarhood, first of all, a possibility of the avatarhood. There is the inevitability of avatarhood, and there is experience of avatarhood. When Sri Aurobindo says I was in the Alipore jail and Sri Krishna came to me. Shall I say it was all imagination? and why should he say that Sri Krishna told him that you'll be released from the jail? Don’t worry you do only yoga here. I have brought you here only for yoga, not for anything else. To give you time, you were not able to give up your work and your occupation, so I told the Britishers that you catch him and put him in jail, so they caught you and you are brought into jail but you'll be released. My intention is not to keep you in the jail. Ultimately, he was released at the end of the one year. When his work of yoga was over he was released. Now all the stories that he will say about Krishna, shall I say is all false?

I’m not able to reconcile those two things. On the one hand, there is Avatar and on the other hand, we say that supramental man is still to be born. Now, if an Avatar is also not a supramental man, then what is the meaning of Avatar? We say he is God himself and God himself is lower than the supra mental man?

Avatar is a supreme lord who takes birth in a vehicle. A vehicle itself may be limited to a certain consciousness therefore he uses that vehicle. That vehicle is not supramental. When we say there was varaha avatar, surely varaha was not supramental and yet the supreme lord was supreme lord in him. When we say narasimha, there was a supreme consciousness working through that vehicle. When the supreme consciousness acts through a vehicle in a very critical and the highest possible capacity of that vehicle, that is the real meaning of Avatar. Avatarhood does not mean that he always manifests a supreme consciousness supremely. When superman will come the necessity of Avatar also will cease because the vehicle is of the highest level and supreme lord will manifest fully through all the supramental beings. So there will be no special Avatarhood. That's why the Indian psychology and Indian thought says that Kalki will be the last Avatar. If Avatar was always necessary, then it'd be always going on, but our idea is that Avatar is necessary so long as the vehicle through which Avatar is to manifest, does not reach its highest level. When the vehicles are still in the evolutionary movement, then the Avatar descends into that lower form and does the highest that is possible at that time. That is the only thing.

That’s why Sri Rama acted with the satwik mind and Sri Aurobindo says that Krishna acted with overmind. His actions was at the level of the overmind. Therefore, if you really see his actions, if you read Sri Aurobindo’s description of the overmind and then read the Mahabharata, then you will get a very good example of what is overmental consciousness in action. His vision of the whole country and the world at that time is perhaps widest of all the people of his contemporaries. He knew each and every maharathi of his time. It’s a fact. I mean he knew the story genealogy of every one of them. It’s a tremendous achievement for one man to know so much about each one of these maharathis and to see their interconnections and even to know what will be the reaction of this one. How do you speak to this one at this moment or that moment and how to reconcile different points of view at different times, it’s a very complex consciousness. Rama is not capable of that consciousness. Rama is much more simple maryada purushottama. Satvik mind is more easy for us to understand. Overmind is more complex and that's why Sri Krishna is a baffler. We don't understand him how he reconciles things. We call him cunning, mischievous, even without morals, all that, but actually it is not true. He is a yogi, yogeshwara and all his actions, if you read from that point of view, are actions of a very high level, all consciousness of the overmental level. He guided the whole Mahabharata yudha with a tremendous wisdom and craft which is possible only to a very complex consciousness.

So in any case, there are different levels at which Avatar manifests and our theory of Avatar itself recognizes it. I am not saying something that is different from shastra which says that there is kurma Avatar, there is Vraha Avatar, Narashimha Avatar and then Rama Avatar and Sri Krishna and then Buddha, Buddha also is an Avatar and then kalki. So this is every one of them is higher than the one preceding in the scale. It is an evolutionary story, as the evolution moves forward, whenever the evolution comes to a critical stage, and the next step is to be taken, Avatar is necessitated because he breaks the limits of the previous stage, which has been reached in evolution. He breaks the limitations and gives a lead to the development of a higher level of consciousness.

So about Avatarhood, Arya Samaj I don't agree with it, Jainism I don't agree with it, Buddhism I don't agree with it. Because Avatarhood is a fact, what can you do about it? That means when the scientific fact you find, it is not a theory. Avatarhood cannot be, Dayananda Saraswati has written an argument, he says how can omnipotent and omniscient being be incarnated in one human body, it's impossible, it's a logical argument. Is it really true? Is it really true that supramental or the highest consciousness cannot embody itself even at end? If reality is only present, it can be everywhere. Why can he not be in a single body? Therefore, this argument itself logically also is not tenable and his argument is only a logical argument. He doesn't say I have met an Avatar and I found he was a fake. He doesn't say that he says Avatarhood is impossible.

Sir, what is the explanation of Sri Aurobindo meeting Lord Krishna in that day? Lord Krishna was born 5000 years back. He had a body. Now what does it mean that he came? Of course the consciousness which was there in Lord Krishna at the time of Mahabharata would assume a body, another body. All right. But to say that it is Lord Krishna himself, does it mean that the same body?

It is not the same body but his other body. I mean the internal body, there are many bodies, all the bodies are not dissolved. Sri Rama, for example, he also is alive, but not in the physical body. Also in other bodies, sukshma sharira and they are still alive - even Buddha can be obtained. Mother herself says Buddha came and spoke to me.

You can see if your consciousness is very subtlised, you can see him in the subtle consciousness.

But the gross body is not there?

Gross body is not there. But you can see the form. You can see his movements and so on. This is how all darshan of saints take place. It’s not imagination as many people believe that it is an auto suggestion, and actually you do auto suggestions for a thousand years, nothing will happen. These are all explanations by people who do not understand the psychology of spiritual life.

So these other bodies survive only of a few personalities and not all of us?

Not all, because it depends upon your capacity. According to Sri Aurobindo, for example, if your mind has developed to a very great extent, then your mental body survives, your vital body will vanish, your physical body will vanish, but your mental body will survive and when you take birth in a new body that mental body can again come and help you in this body, because that is still surviving. That is why it is said nothing is lost. Whatever you study now will remain in your mental body and it continues to help you in the future. Nothing is lost. Excepting physical body, nothing is lost, all the efforts that you make in sadhana you did are not lost. Therefore Sri Krishna says whatever even the smallest effort you make is useful and you should keep it, you should do it. You should not feel that now your life is about to end and therefore now it is of no use, not at all. Up to the last moment you make an effort, it will help you.

So the idea which is there that the body would become immortal at a particular state. What does it mean if people become immortal and they do not die, will no births will take place? Otherwise, if births continue to take place and people don't die, it will be a horrible situation? or will the birth also stop?

No, there are three things. First of all, immortality means conquest of the necessity of death. Immortality does not mean necessity of continuation in the same body. You are not obliged. There is no conquest. Conquest of death is that death is at your command. If you want to come out of the body, you can come out whenever you want, but you are not necessitated. At present death is a necessity. You are obliged to die. Why? Because of the limitations of consciousness, you are not able to progress in the same body. Therefore you are required to give up this body, but a condition can be reached where you can continue in the same body without the necessity of dying, but it does not mean that another bondage that you should remain in the same body. Terminable at will, what is called iccha mrityu is really true of the immortal man.

Sir, there is another doubt as far as I can conceive of a supramental man, suppose that a new species is born. It appears that there will be no necessity of any purushartha because completeness, perfection has been attained and now there is no purushartha for anybody, so they will be sitting idle, doing nothing? Because we make an effort because there is imperfection, if I become perfect today, why should I make any effort?

No, you make an effort not only to attain what you don't have, you also make activity to express what you have. It is not true that all activities only to attain something which you have not attained is not true. You act also to express what you already have. So supramental being will be able to express all the powers that it possesses. It should be expressive, creative.

But they will be uniform?

No, each one has his own swabhava, swadharma, each one will have his own swabhava. Different personalities will manifest at will. Like Sri Krishna was an example. When he was needed to be a charioteer, he became a charioteer, when it was necessary for him to be lover with Radha, he was also dancing in the braja, when it was necessary for him to advise Arjuna as a teacher, he advised him also. He was different personalities, brahmin, kshatriya, vaishya, shudra—all the four at the same time. So supramental beings will be fourfold personalities automatically, capable of putting off any power that is needed at any given time. In fact Sri Aurobindo had already reached that point in his personality. He was a perfect personality, putting all the capacities simultaneously and any time whatever personalities were needed, like writing the Life Divine. He says writing in his autobiography: I am not a philosopher, but it was decided to write a philosophical journal. So since this was important. It had to be followed up, I wrote philosophy. So you can see what philosophy he has written. It's an example I mean, and he says I have used no mind consciousness at all in writing the Life Divine. It is written in a complete state of silence. Now what kind of achievement it was I and you cannot imagine, because we don't know first of all what is silence and then how consciousness can manifest itself in such chiselled manner, in which every coma and semicolon Is all measured so much correctly. What perfection can come we can't imagine, but it is written, it is before our eyes. The book is before our eyes, so we have got to believe that he wrote, even if he says he did not write with his mind. Even if he says that mind was not silent, but what he has written is certainly not like your mind and my mind. It’s a different kind of mind that at least can be said very truthfully.

*Sir, am I correct when I say that when a person like Sri Aurobindo was born or Mother was born and whatever they attained, the whole of the humanity was also benefited by it whether they know it or not?

In fact, that is the truth of not only his and her birth but anybody's birth. We never live alone. What you are doing is beneficial to me. It’s not only Sri Aurobindo and the Mother, there is in the totality of the life samashti is always present, no vyasti is really vyasti alone, except in Jainism, but that is the limitation of Jainism. Even in Jainism. Jivdaya, as I said, is inconsistent with its basic philosophy, but it is obliged to accept jivdaya there, because samashti cannot be eliminated. The whole life, the world is a collectivity.

Is it that Sri Aurobindo left the path of revolutionary activities and thought that leading a life of that kind which he led later on, would be more fruitful for humanity rather than making bombs and doing some revolutionary things for freedom of the country? is it that he preferred that path because of this consciousness that he will be doing greater service by doing this rather than following the revolutionary path?

I think that is true. That is true. It is not as if that path, his main aim was freedom of India. Sri Krishna promised him India will be free, but there are very few people who can take care of the world and the future of the world. You have the capacity, if you undergo a training, I’ll train you and you become fit for that work, in obedience to that order of Sri Krishna. That’s why Sri Aurobindo says Sri Krishna was my teacher and he doesn't say merely in any figurative manner. Sri Krishna himself taught the Gita's teaching, the whole yoga Gita. He has practised under the guidance of Sri Krishna, so he had a direct contact with Sri Krishna. In fact, in 1926 Mother said Sri Krishna physically entered into the very body of Sri Aurobindo. So that is the identity between Sri Krishna and Sri Aurobindo.

So these are spiritual facts and Mother has her own experience of Sri Krishna apart from Sri Aurobindo's Mother, had no Indian background. You can say Sri Aurobindo at least had some Indian background, although he had gone over to England and he might have seen Sri Krishna and experienced Sri Krishna, but Mother she said that I used to walk every evening with Sri Krishna for one year at a given stage of her life. Every evening she used to walk with Sri Krishna. There was a time when Sri Krishna used to sit and she used to put her head on the lap of Sri Krishna and he used to relax her. So there is also the experience of Sri Krishna coming to the Mother on 29th of february 1960, it's a beautiful experience Mother has written down. She has spoken about that experience when Sri Krishna himself came and she said that he had won the same dress as is depicted in the Indian mythology, and he had the same mischievous twinkle in his eyes, as is depicted in the Indian mythology, so that mischievous Krishna is continuing here on this earth and he is working in the world. In fact Sri Aurobindo said, it is Sri Krishna’s work which is being done in the Ashram. The ashram itself was nothing but a continuation of Sri Krishna's work.

Purpose of Illness

Lord Krishna was so kind to these people. What was the purpose of their illness? Why didn't he cure them of the illness? Illness, of course, commonly couldn't help a man. It could only put an obstacle in the sadhana and both of them suffered seriously because of illness. It rather baffled me that is such great personalities are put such great obstacles in their sadhana, vyadi is an obstacle. I don't understand why. What is the purpose of nature of putting obstacles in their path?

Nature is not putting, the limitations of nature are present in the body. They are already existing in our body, by the help of these great personalities, they can be reduced. Ultimately, they have to be conquered. Finally, during the process of conquest, you have to go through this. But they are reduced, they are much reduced actually from what could happen. Sri Aurobindo says I have by my yoga destroyed hundreds of diseases of my body. The body is actually subject to hundreds of diseases. We are not aware, even if you cure one disease, maybe some other disease will start. We do not know how many diseases our body is subject to and Sri Aurobindo says I have eliminated so many diseases, but disease is inherent in the bodily matter itself. You can reduce them to a great extent. Ultimately, you can completely reduce them, provided supramental completely manifests in the body. But the fact is that still it was not manifested fully, diseases were there and they were subject to it, both Mother and Sri Aurobindo were subject to diseases. But that is true of all the great yogis. Sri Krishna himself, when he was wounded, ultimately died by the wound of an arrow. Sri Ramkrishna died of cancer. Raman Mahrshi also died of cancer.

Therefore, I am just inquiring whether this has some specific purpose, just illness of such great people..

No, illness has no purpose. It is there already in the body, it's not at least inflicted from outside.

But their sadhara couldn't cure it?

Not yet, that's the whole idea. Unless you do integral yoga in which supermind begins to act upon the mind of the cells, unless the whole work is done, disease will not go, but once it is done, it will be so easy for mankind. Therefore, they envisage a time when the world will be largely free from diseases, that will happen. Mother and Sri Aurobindo have cured so many diseases, its a fact. Yes, diseases of others.

I had myself an excruciating pain here on 10th of august 1971, I was removed to the hospital. They tried to find out what was my disease. They could not. On the 12th of august, I received a telegram from Karan Singh saying on 15th of august I have arranged your lecture in Sapru House, so kindly come and deliver a lecture here. I was in the time in the hospital, then I showed to the doctor, so doctors said forget about it because you can't go from here and the next day he said that we can't find what is your disease and we have to make your operation, just diagnostic surgery, not that we know what is it, only for diagnosis we want to do diagnosis surgery, so be ready tomorrow, and so I wrote to the Mother saying that I have here a diagnosis surgery tomorrow and Karan Singh has invited me to go to Delhi. What shall I do? So Mother sent a word to me: if you have faith in me, come out of the hospital and fly. This is what she told me and I told the doctor, the doctor said: you're a fool, you’ll die. This is not right. You should not go. So I said, but I must go. There is no other question now, so he said that you write your death warrant here, that you are doing on your own, so I signed it and I came out and I went to the Mother. I went to meet the Mother and I said, I have come out, so she said where is your pain, so I said: here. So she touched me here and the pain was gone immediately on the spot and I flew, I came here. I delivered a lecture here. There was no problem at all. So that they can cure, I have no problem, no doubt that if they really want, if you really are open to this force, this is one example. There are several other examples also my own life, where I have seen the disease can just disappear just like that. So I have no doubt about it at all. It’s a fact of personal experience.

But they don't apply that power to themselves to cure?

They do also. But there are diseases of various kinds. There are some grave diseases which are not yet conquered. At every stage there are depths and depths of diseases. Our body is nothing but a mind of diseases actually. The whole body and Jainism will come first to confirm it. So this there is no doubt about that. Jainism is quite right in saying what vyadhis are there in the body, the whole body is made of vyadhis. The conquest of this vyadhis is a tremendous yoga. Coming out of the body is one one one cure in the Jainism. You dissociate yourself from body and body in any case will remain what it is. It is you give it up, that's all, but to remain in the body and to transform the body and to conquer the disease that can be done only by integral yoga.

When you examine your whole complex of consciousness, it is true that you find a physical consciousness appropriate for the body, a vital consciousness appropriate to the vital plane, a mental consciousness appropriate to the mental play, a psychic consciousness appropriate to the psychic consciousness and then higher mental consciousness and higher levels of consciousness. Now all these are a complex in us and very often mixed together, and therefore we are constantly being guided by various kinds of consciousnesses. When we start doing yoga, you begin to see different levels of consciousness and distinguish one from the other. How do you distinguish, for example, vital consciousness and mental consciousness? A vital consciousness is connected with desire. Vital is connected with life-force. Life-force is dynamism. Now our normal dynamism consists of desires. You human beings, all their activities, are because of desires. Therefore, vital consciousness is widely fixed in desire.

Mental consciousness is connected with thought not with desire, but with thought trying to understand any effort and understanding is a mental consciousness. Now, even in the mental consciousness, there are many divisions. There is a rational mind, ethical mind, aesthetic mind. Ethical mind discusses the questions of what is right and wrong. The pure mind discusses the question of what is truth and what is false, not action but what is truth and what is false, ethical mind discusses what is right action and wrong action. Aesthetic mind discusses what is beautiful and what is not beautiful, so even in the mental consciousness there are different compartments and then there are crossings, mental consciousness affecting the vital consciousness, vital consciousness affecting the mental consciousness. Normally in yoga, we are supposed to overcome desire consciousness, and that is a difficult part of our sadhana.

Desire by which desire can be extinguished, it’s not a desire. It’s for experience, desire by means of which desire can be extinguished when you desire to see God, but when you see God desire is extinguished. It is called aspiration. It’s not actually a desire. Desire is that when it is obtained, there is a fuel of desire, a further desire arises. That is different, that is not aspiration, that is a pure desire. This desire of God is aspiration, so you should have aspiration, but not desire. So my desire doesn't enter into the yoga. The desire to see God is a good desire, but other desires which create more desires are to be eliminated.

Ethics: Knowing and Doing What is Right

Sir, in the morning today, you have cited the story of Duryodhana janami dharmam na cha me pravrttih, janamyadharmam na cha me nivrttih. It is the problem you raised. But still I find that a solution to this problem, as given by Sri Aurobindo or by your own experience, is still to be elaborated, because this is a universal problem. In fact, every one of us knows what is right and what is wrong, and in spite of that, we are not able to practice righteousness. Maybe in integral yoga a solution has been given to this problem because you must give a solution to this, but in short since you are a good teacher, you can tell us in a way which we can understand easily, rather than reading those classical texts which are sometimes difficult. What is the solution of integral yoga, or rather of Sri Aurobindo to this problem, how to strengthen our willpower so that we do not deviate from righteousness?

First of all, there is the knowledge of the right. This knowledge of the right cannot be assumed, even when somebody says I know what is right. It doesn't mean that he knows it. It cannot be assumed. Normally, people do not know what is right and what is wrong. Like Arjuna did not know what was the right action, he had a big problem, so you can't say that he knew what was right, so to assume that you know the right is also not absolutely correct. When Duryodhana says, I know what is right and yet I cannot do it, he only knew right in principle in a shastra, he had read shastra. Shastra says this is right and this is wrong, but to say that he knew what is right, it’s not absolutely correct. He knew the idea of the right; he did not know what is the right action. He has some idea of what is right, that kind of knowledge even Arjuna had. He knew three answers to the same question, all of them to be the right action, and yet he says I do not know what is to be done. In other words, Arjuna was more frank and said: I really do not know what is the right thing for me to do, but now, supposing that you really know, as she Krishna told arjuna, that for you to be in the battlefield is the right action for you and do as I am doing, I am also killing you also kill, fight.

Now it may be that at that time he had three deficiencies: it's quite possible. He may physically fall ill at that time. Having known this, it's quite possible that he may fall ill. He can't even stand in the battlefield. Earlier he was not able to stand in the battlefield because of the duvidha in the mind, but now, even if he has no duvidha in the mind, his physical health suddenly is lost. That also could be a weakness. The second is that, even if he knows that his function is to fight, he may have the loss of his knowledge of archery as karna had when he was about to actually work, his knowledge was lost. That also can happen. The third is that, even if he knows that this is to be done, he has no inclination for psychologically. He cannot stand even physically before Bhishma and I said I want to kill you. Psychologically and physiologically cannot stand that weakness.

All these three weaknesses are present in all of us. That is why, even if you know what is right, you may not be able to do the right thing. Either inclination is not there even if what is right. There are overpowering powers. For example, I know that eating of ice cream for me is injurious, but my desire may be so strong that I must have ice cream and I eat it. I know it is wrong, and yet I eat it. What is the reason for it? That my nervous mentality, my desire mentality, is very weak. It overpowers my mental perception. Therefore, in yoga, you should constantly develop a tremendous willpower so that these disabilities do not trouble you. That is why in Jainism, many of the practises which are prescribed are very good: aparigraha, aswada, brahmacharya, satya, ahimsa. These are extremely important, very good principles by which the disabilities and inclinations of the mind and desire fall into the trap of the wrong action. They can be removed and Sri Aurobindo underlines those things. There is not that new principle, they are underlined, but what is further in Sri Aurobindo is that in this practice you should take this practice as a persistent practice as in Jainism. You should take vrata and the Vedic idea of vratam charishyami, that consciousness must be present. It is not a holiday experience that for two days I have experienced nivritti and then afterwards, three days I will indulge in it. If you do that, it will take you nowhere. Therefore, Sri Aurobindo says that you should be extremely resolute about your willpower.

Thirdly, if you do this, there is also a help from above. This is not a Jainism. There is also help from above that, if you say to the divine please protect me, he will help you. He will add his own energy into you, so that you are prevented from doing something wrong. So this is the other aspect of yoga which is not present in many other systems of yoga. There everybody is supposed to do by effort only, to conquer. In this yoga there is a great role given to the supreme shakti herself that she can help you and she can deliver you from the disabilities, so in this integral yoga, knowledge of the right has to be firmly established.

Our normal idea that I know what is right is also not correct. Very often, we really do not know what is right. You should really find out what is the right section and that's not easy. You see when Socrates said, for example, virtue is knowledge. He was quite right that, if your knowledge of virtue is really a true knowledge, you can't be but virtuous, your knowledge itself gives you the necessary power. So you can't deviate from virtue, and that was the Vedic idea of kavikratu that your knowledge of the right should be so powerful that once it is right, it is finished, it has got to be done. What is the question of nivritti from it? It must be pravritti the moment you know this is the right thing. It automatically follows. It needs to be done, so even the knowledge of the right should be ripened. Normally, our knowledge of the right is only shastra and nothing more than that. Shastrakti is not knowledge. He must really know.

For example, Othello murdered his wife. It was his own ignorance and he really felt overpowered by the sense of jealousy and he murdered his wife. After that the truth came to be known to him. Now, in that state of knowledge of the truth, he could have never murdered his wife if that force of consciousness was present at that time, his knowledge would be so vivid, so true, he could have never done it. It is that kind of knowledge which is needed. The knowledge which arises out of repentance, that knowledge is a ripened knowledge of what is wrong. So our knowledge of right should be ripened, which is not normally the case. That also, according to Sri Aurobindo, you must ripen the knowledge.

How to do that? Suppose I read in the book truthful is good. I think that I have got the knowledge, that's all, now how to ripen it? Of course, it is on the surface only that I can appreciate, but I do not know how to get it into my mind and my soul and how to get this knowledge into my soul? It is only at the intellectual level and therefore I am shaken.

There are several methods by which it can be ripened. One is to be in company of the truthful people and to see them in action, and when you see that these people, when they have spoken the truth, they have suffered, but they have not minded at all. Now this seeing a truthful man suffering because he has been truthful is one of the methods of ripening your own truthfulness, it gives you energy of truthfulness. That is why we have said we are told to read the stories of great heroes, once you've read those stories you are inspired, and that is one of the ways of ripening your consciousness in regard to yourself.

Second, is to ripen your consciousness as to why you should be truthful, merely because it is said in the book and then to be truthful is one kind of knowledge, but if you know what is truthfulness and how truthfulness is the only method of life, if you realise this point that truthfulness is the only method of life, you can't live if you are not truthful. When this state of consciousness comes about by thinking about the truth, that is also ripening.

The third is that you put yourself deliberately: it is like putting your finger into the fire so that you can bear the burning of the fire, and you do it again and again. Most of the Indian women are very good in putting their hand into fire, because in the kitchen it is a constant experience and they've got to do it and they learn it. So you've got to put yourself into the fiery things deliberately. You said that, even if I now I have to die, it is all right. I agree with it. Put yourself into it. Do it once, twice, thrice, four times. It will become natural for you. These are the three methods by which you can ripen your will.

So Sri Aurobindo speaks of all these three methods plus also to rely upon the higher force. If you tell the divine, please see that I don't fall into the pit of falsehood, even if I’m inclined to do it, he will come at the right moment and will protect you. This also is a fact, the divine is a helper, is a friend and our experience will give you the trust, because you will find that at the right moment he is always there, he is present, he comes. How can you deny when he comes? He really helps you at the right moment. Like Draupadi experienced Sri Krishna coming at the right moment and you cannot deny it, he comes if you really ask for his help. He is a true helper and by repeated experiences this faith is increased and if you say I don't mind at all, my God will save me, I don't bother at all whether I should be able to truthfully or not. If I am going to speak the untruth, God himself will tell and take over my tongue from my mouth, you have so much of trust. I have told you make me truthful and if I am going to speak a lie, he will come and take away my tongue because he's so good, he will surely come, that's a trust and that trust is answered and Sri Aurobindo says trust and trust will be answered. It’s a fact of yoga, trust is answered. So these are the different methods by which you can really do it, ripen your truthfulness, but this has to be done, I mean all the time this has to be practised.

So, since I have been writing also, my friends have been advising me that arguably this type of writing will not do, you talk things in a philosophical way and in a shastra language. People don't have time to read these long articles. You kindly write some short articles of 200 words in a simple language, so that your knowledge becomes useful for the common mass. Now, to my help, Sri Aurobindo is there I suppose. He is there in the sense that he doesn't care whether people will be able to read this or not. He wrote what was truthful to him but what he realised, not caring, whether it will be popular. It can't be a popular book. There are no stories, no jokes, nothing of that type. They are sincere friends and they have been telling me like that. I promise that I shall try my best, but I told them that this is a very difficult job for me in the sense that whenever I write technical terms automatically do come in, I can't help it, and I do not know how to resolve this problem. What is your advice in this sense? What my friends say and what I do, I do not know?

The point is that what they tell you, you should follow them and you are capable of doing tjat. The great help you can get from Sri Aurobindo is through his letters on yoga. They can give you a great help because they are also very short answers to questions, very practical and to the point and piercing actually. So if you take help of his letters, the question will be answered: you'll be able to do it, so kindly take help of Sri Aurobindo's letters. Also Mother's letters also are like this. There are hundreds of questions of this kind asked of the Mother and she has replied to them, for young children, for other ones and still higher ones and so on. They’re extremely enlightening letters, so you can do it and you should do it because you are in touch with many people who need that kind of brief answer to their questions. You should be able to do it. It’s possible. As Mother said once that no question should be postponed when it is asked, don't say: oh you won't understand. Mother said that is not true. You should be able to explain yourself to anybody who is going to listen to you, and it is always possible to answer in the way in which he can understand, and that is a mark of a good teacher. He doesn't say postpone. Abhi tayar nahi ho tum, kya karen, don't say that. You give an answer which is appropriate to his consciousness at that time, and you must rise to that point where you can meet him at his level. So you will be able to do it. You try to do it.