Now we come to today's programme.
You know, I was told that there was a difference of opinion in the house. Should we follow the study of the Gita, or should we follow the study of the Upanishads? But we'll take no ready position. We shall do both, in the sense that we shall do first the first four chapters of the Essays on the Gita. Then we shall see and review whether we can change the plan.
In any case, the Gita itself is regarded as the quintessence of the Upanishads, so the study of the Gita actually, is a kind of a study of the Upanishads. And Upanishads themselves are the quintessence of the Vedas, so you might say it is even a study of the Veda.
But you know the reason why I was truly inclined to deal with the Bhagavad Gita now was that Sri Krishna is rather too pressing. That is to say He is around us as it were and we need to deal with Him. So that is why I thought, at present, in the present state of consciousness, it is better to invite Sri Krishna and to be with Him.
Very often it is said that there is no evidence that Sri Krishna ever lived at all on the Earth ─ this is said about Jesus also, whether Jesus lived at all one does not know. There are legends, there are stories, but historically, whether he lived on the earth, there are people who doubt the whole idea of Sri Krishna having ever lived on this earth. They believe that Mahabharata itself is a story, a fiction, that Puranas in which Sri Krishna's life is described are all legends, symbolic stories. And this is a question which very often troubles the minds of those who would like to be in the fold of the Bhagavad Gita or Bhagavat, in the fold of the spiritual tradition of India.
Now there is no doubt about the fact that many things that are told about Sri Krishna may be legends, may be symbolic. But in the Upanishads, there is a reference to Sri Krishna. In the Chandogya Upanishad (3.17.6) it is said, "Krishna, the son of Devaki, the pupil of Rishi Ghora who gave lesson to Krishna, who at once realised the Divine." That is a reference in the Chandogya Upanishad. Now Chandogya Upanishad is no legend, it’s not a fiction, therefore there is some historical evidence of some Krishna who lived at one time and so well known that merely referring to him as "son of Devaki" (Chandogya Upanishad 3.17.6) was enough to identify that man. But most importantly, the reality of Sri Krishna is even the continuous experience of Sri Krishna through the ages. In India, we can have a galaxy of saints who can testify that they had direct experience of Sri Krishna.
Even the Mother, who came from France and who had up to 1904, hardly any idea about India, when she entered into the Indian experience, she began to have the experiences. There is a very interesting conversation of the Mother in the Agenda of 1964. Do you have an English translation? It is one paragraph which is very, very, interesting. This is in French, so I cannot read it out to you but Anjali has got an English translation; so I shall read out to you the paragraph, which is very interesting about Sri Krishna. She says the following:
You understand, when I was giving meditations in the hall downstairs, they were all there: Shiva, Krishna, all the gods of the Indian pantheon were there, seated like this (gesture in a circle) to follow the meditation.
The Mother, Mother's Agenda — 1964: January 4, 1964
Mother used to give meditations in Pondicherry, in the Ashram, for many years in a hall below her room, so she is referring to that.
Now about Krishna, Mother says:
Krishna… sometimes I walked with him for hours in conversation. At night, when I was very tired from my work, he would come and sit on the edge of my bed, I would put my head on his shoulder and fall asleep. And it lasted for years and years and years, you know—not just once by chance.
The Mother, Mother's Agenda — 1964: January 4, 1964
Now, this is the experience of the Mother for years!
It is experiences of this kind ─ when Mirabai for example used to talk to Sri Krishna, ─ it was not some imaginary being or there was not some kind of hallucination when she was experiencing day after day, but it was a concrete experience of Sri Krishna. It is the concrete experience of Sri Krishna throughout the ages, we people have experienced, that gives us the basis of the reality of Krishna.
We have for example, the experience recorded by Sri Aurobindo himself. Just now, I read out the experience of the Mother of Sri Krishna, but there is a very famous speech given by Sri Aurobindo called ‘Uttarpara Speech’. Sri Aurobindo was arrested in 1908 on charge of sedition, of conspiring to blot out the British Government. That was the charge. On that charge he was put into the prison. Now, this was the period when Sri Aurobindo had already attained to Brahmic consciousness, a complete state of silence, and already he was advancing in his yoga, to such an extent that he could converse and seek guidance from the Divine directly. Now he describes his experience in the speech that he gave in 1909, after his acquittal when he was acquitted from the jail, from the whole charge of sedition. He was taken to give a lecture at Uttarpara – Uttarpara is a town in West Bengal. He went there to give a speech there, and as he was sitting to give a speech, he was directed to give an account of some of the major experiences that occurred to him in the jail. I would like to read out to you a few portions of this account because it gives again a very concrete proof of the experience of Sri Krishna that Sri Aurobindo himself had. He says:
When I was arrested and hurried to the Lal Bazar hajat I was shaken in faith for a while, for I could not look into the heart of His intention. Therefore I faltered for a moment and cried out in my heart to Him, “What is this that has happened to me? I believed that I had a mission to work for the people of my country and until that work was done, I should have Thy protection. Why then am I here and on such a charge?” A day passed and a second day and a third, when a voice came to me from within, “Wait and see.” Then I grew calm and waited. I was taken from Lal Bazar to Alipore and was placed for one month in a solitary cell apart from men. There I waited day and night for the voice of God within me, to know what He had to say to me, to learn what I had to do. In this seclusion the earliest realisation, the first lesson came to me. I remembered then that a month or more before my arrest, a call had come to me to put aside all activity, to go into seclusion and to look into myself, so that I might enter into closer communion with Him. I was weak and could not accept the call. My work was very dear to me and in the pride of my heart I thought that unless I was there, it would suffer or even fail and cease; therefore I would not leave it. It seemed to me that He spoke to me again and said, “The bonds you had not strength to break, I have broken for you, because it is not my will nor was it ever my intention that that should continue. I have another thing for you to do and it is for that I have brought you here, to teach you what you could not learn for yourself and to train you for my work.” Then He placed the Gita in my hands. His strength entered into me and I was able to do the sadhan of the Gita. I was not only to understand intellectually but to realise what Srikrishna demanded of Arjuna and what He demands of those who aspire to do His work, to be free from repulsion and desire, to do work for Him without the demand for fruit, to renounce self-will and become a passive and faithful instrument in His hands, to have an equal heart for high and low, friend and opponent, success and failure, yet not to do His work negligently.
Sri Aurobindo, Karmayogin: Uttarpara Speech
And then, Sri Aurobindo gives a long account which I am not going to give just now, and then He continues and he says:
He [Sri Krishna] turned the hearts of my jailers to me and they spoke to the Englishman in charge of the jail, “He is suffering in his confinement; let him at least walk outside his cell for half an hour in the morning and in the evening.” So it was arranged, and it was while I was walking that His strength again entered into me. I looked at the jail that secluded me from men and it was no longer by its high walls that I was imprisoned; no, it was Vasudeva who surrounded me. I walked under the branches of the tree in front of my cell, but it was not the tree, I knew it was Vasudeva, it was Srikrishna whom I saw standing there and holding over me His shade. I looked at the bars of my cell, the very grating that did duty for a door and again I saw Vasudeva. It was Narayana who was guarding and standing sentry over me. Or I lay on the coarse blankets that were given me for a couch and felt the arms of Srikrishna around me, the arms of my Friend and Lover. This was the first use of the deeper vision He gave me. I looked at the prisoners in the jail, the thieves, the murderers, the swindlers, and as I looked at them I saw Vasudeva, it was Narayana whom I found in these darkened souls and misused bodies. Amongst these thieves and dacoits there were many who put me to shame by their sympathy, their kindness, the humanity triumphant over such adverse circumstances. One I saw among them especially who seemed to me a saint, a peasant of my nation who did not know how to read and write, an alleged dacoit sentenced to ten years’ rigorous imprisonment, one of those whom we look down upon in our Pharisaical pride of class as chhotalok. Once more He spoke to me and said, “Behold the people among whom I have sent you to do a little of my work. This is the nature of the nation I am raising up and the reason why I raise them.”
When the case opened in the lower court and we were brought before the Magistrate I was followed by the same insight. He said to me, “When you were cast into jail, did not your heart fail and did you not cry out to me, where is Thy protection? Look now at the Magistrate, look now at the Prosecuting Counsel.” I looked and it was not the Magistrate whom I saw, it was Vasudeva, it was Narayana who was sitting there on the bench. I looked at the Prosecuting Counsel and it was not the Counsel for the prosecution that I saw; it was Srikrishna who sat there, it was my Lover and Friend who sat there and smiled. “Now do you fear?” He said, “I am in all men and I overrule their actions and their words. My protection is still with you and you shall not fear. This case which is brought against you, leave it in my hands. It is not for you. It was not for the trial that I brought you here but for something else. The case itself is only a means for my work and nothing more.”
Sri Aurobindo, Karmayogin: Uttarpara Speech
And then in this fashion, his experiences continued and the message that he received ultimately while doing the sadhana of the Gita is what Sri Aurobindo gives in the two messages that he received.
I said, “Give me Thy adesh. I do not know what work to do or how to do it. Give me a message.” In the communion of Yoga two messages came. The first message said, “I have given you a work and it is to help to uplift this nation. Before long the time will come when you will have to go out of jail; for it is not my will that this time either you should be convicted or that you should pass the time as others have to do, in suffering for their country. I have called you to work, and that is the adesh for which you have asked. I give you the adesh to go forth and do my work.” The second message came and it said, “Something has been shown to you in this year of seclusion, something about which you had your doubts and it is the truth of the Hindu religion. It is this religion that I am raising up before the world, it is this that I have perfected and developed through the rishis, saints and avatars, and now it is going forth to do my work among the nations. I am raising up this nation to send forth my word. This is the Sanatana Dharma, this is the eternal religion which you did not really know before, but which I have now revealed to you. The agnostic and the sceptic in you have been answered, for I have given you proofs within and without you, physical and subjective, which have satisfied you. When you go forth, speak to your nation always this word that it is for the Sanatana Dharma that they arise, it is for the world and not for themselves that they arise. I am giving them freedom for the service of the world. When therefore it is said that India shall rise, it is the Sanatana Dharma that shall rise. When it is said that India shall be great, it is the Sanatana Dharma that shall be great. When it is said that India shall expand and extend herself, it is the Sanatana Dharma that shall expand and extend itself over the world. It is for the dharma and by the dharma that India exists. To magnify the religion means to magnify the country. I have shown you that I am everywhere and in all men and in all things, that I am in this movement and I am not only working in those who are striving for the country but I am working also in those who oppose them and stand in their path. I am working in everybody and whatever men may think or do they can do nothing but help on my purpose. They also are doing my work; they are not my enemies but my instruments. In all your actions you are moving forward without knowing which way you move. You mean to do one thing and you do another. You aim at a result and your efforts subserve one that is different or contrary. It is Shakti that has gone forth and entered into the people. Since long ago I have been preparing this uprising and now the time has come and it is I who will lead it to its fulfilment.”
Sri Aurobindo, Karmayogin: Uttarpara Speech
These are the two messages that Sri Aurobindo received while in the jail. And that contact with Sri Krishna continued. And in 1926, the Mother had given a special conversation on this subject about this particular date of 24th November 1926 when she said, "I used to see Sri Krishna all the time around Sri Aurobindo. Then I told Sri Krishna, ‘Why do you not enter into his very body and settle yourself into his body?’ And then Sri Krishna agreed and he entered into the very body of Sri Aurobindo."
After a while, I too began having meditations with people. I had begun a sort of ‘overmental creation,’ to make each god descend into a being—there was an extraordinary upward curve! Well, I was in contact with these beings and I told Krishna (because I was always seeing him around Sri Aurobindo), ‘This is all very fine, but what I want now is a creation on earth—you must incarnate.’ He said ‘Yes.’ Then I saw him—I saw him with my own eyes (inner eyes, of course), join himself to Sri Aurobindo.
Then I went into Sri Aurobindo’s room and told him, ‘Here’s what I have seen.’ ‘Yes, I know!’ he replied (Mother laughs) ‘That’s fine; I have decided to retire to my room, and you will take charge of the people. You take charge.’
The Mother, Mother's Agenda — 1961: August 2, 1961
So, this is, you might say the connection between Sri Krishna and Sri Aurobindo. As Sri Aurobindo said, "It is Sri Krishna with whom I have become one" – not only an influence, but "I have become one".
Actually therefore, to read what Sri Aurobindo has written on the Gita has a very special significance. It is not an intellectual discussion; it is as if it were Sri Krishna himself speaking ─ what he has intended to speak through the Gita. Actually, if you read the Gita, "Essays on the Gita", this great book, if you really read it with a tremendous quietude, you will yourself feel that it is Sri Krishna who is whispering into your ears the real message of the Gita. There have been so many interpretations of the Gita that if you read them, you feel as it were in a field of pedantry, and you will not know whether this or that is right, or that is right. So instead of being enlightened and inspired, you become confused.
I myself, before I came to meet Sri Aurobindo, I had read several commentaries on the Bhagavad Gita and I was so much confused that I really felt that our children should not be told the Gita, because it creates so much of confusion in the minds of the children, and there are so many opinions ─– Advaitic interpretation, and Vishisht advaitic interpretation, and Dvaitic interpretation, and so many others. Almost every great teacher in our country has written on the Gita and has given one message or the other, emphasizing one or the other. We did not really know what exactly is the Gita's teaching.
It was at that time that I happened to get this book, Essays on the Gita. I was in that state at that time that in four days I read the whole book. It is a physical fact in my life that I read this whole book in four days time. I was reading about twenty one hours every day and it was such a tremendous experience of a flow; it was as if I really felt that Sri Krishna was telling me, “This is what I have meant in the Gita, this is what I have meant in the Gita, this is what I have meant in the Gita...” And that is why with confidence I can tell the people, "if you really want to learn on the Gita, please read this book." It is not because of my reading the message of the Gita in this book but it is what I feel, my real experience that Sri Krishna himself had to speak what is the Gita’s teaching, it is in this book that it is given. Instead of giving all kinds of opinions and controversies I would simply like to put everyone in direct contact with this book and that is, to my mind, a tremendous service to humanity. If Sri Krishna can tell you directly what He had to say without controversies, so that you are absolutely sure this is what He meant.
Now, in the very first paragraph of this great book, Sri Aurobindo deals with one very important problem, and that must be raised in the context of today.
There are today in the world several great universal religions. There is Hinduism for example which claims to be a universal religion; there is Judaism; there is Christianity; there is Islam; and then there was also Zoroastrianism, and so many other religions. Now, each one of them claims the truth, the highest Truth, the only Truth is to be found, each one says in my religion and ‘this book’ or ‘that book’ contains the whole of the Truth, and nothing farther is to be needed in order to find the Truth.
This is a very big problem for all of us, who are not partisans to this or that; we are all seekers of the Truth. We want to know the Truth as it is. So, for all of us there is a big problem: which claim to accept, and to accept one to fight against others? It is a big battle as it were.
So, if you take this book the Gita, you also have a similar claim. You hear this claim: ‘the Gita is a quintessence of the Vedas, a quintessence of the Upanishads, it is the last word of Wisdom, the greatest and the only Truth that has been revealed and nothing farther needs to be known. Once you know this, all that is to be known is known.’
This also a claim!
And then, if those who hear this message and read it, they become partisan soldiers of this army which is ready to fight against others and claim, ‘Here is my Bible, my Truth, and something that is supreme’.
In fact, there was a time, when for the sake of religious beliefs people used to quarrel and kill people. The famous example of crusades in the West, where wars went on for decades and decades, just to show that Islam is the highest truth and Christianity is the highest truth and the whole Truth was to be decided on the battlefield and by killing people! Even today from time to time, you know that in the name of religion, people are ready to kill each other. Of course, the situation has greatly changed now and people don't take to guns or to swords in the name of religion. But they still believe that even though there are many other religions, may be many other religions also give some truth, but ‘My truth is superior; the religion that I practice is superior to all other religions.’ This tendency is still present in mankind very largely in spite of many movements of conflict resolution, of meeting of religions, synthesis of religions. In spite of new movements which are realised, this tendency remains: ‘exclusivism’ of one religious truth against another.
Sri Aurobindo therefore when starting with the study of the Gita wants to make clear as to in what spirit we are going to study the Gita: to become members of a partisan army or what? What is the purpose for which we should learn the Gita? I do not know if you have got the book with you (Essays on the Gita), but if you open the first page of this book, which is called: ‘Our Demand and Need from the Gita’; it reads:
The world abounds with scriptures sacred and profane, with revelations and half-revelations, with religions and philosophies, sects and schools and systems. To these the many minds of a half-ripe knowledge or no knowledge at all attach themselves with exclusiveness and passion and will have it that this or the other book is alone the eternal Word of God and all others are either impostures or at best imperfectly inspired, that this or that philosophy is the last word of the reasoning intellect and other systems are either errors or saved only by such partial truth in them as links them to the one true philosophical cult. Even the discoveries of physical Science have been elevated into a creed and in its name religion and spirituality banned as ignorance and superstition, philosophy as frippery and moonshine. And to these bigoted exclusions and vain wranglings even the wise have often lent themselves, misled by some spirit of darkness that has mingled with their light and overshadowed it with some cloud of intellectual egoism or spiritual pride. Mankind seems now indeed inclined to grow a little modester and wiser; we no longer slay our fellows in the name of God’s truth or because they have minds differently trained or differently constituted from ours; we are less ready to curse and revile our neighbour because he is wicked or presumptuous enough to differ from us in opinion; we are ready even to admit that Truth is everywhere and cannot be our sole monopoly; we are beginning to look at other religions and philosophies for the truth and help they contain and no longer merely in order to damn them as false or criticise what we conceive to be their errors. But we are still apt to declare that our truth gives us the supreme knowledge which other religions or philosophies have missed or only imperfectly grasped so that they deal either with subsidiary and inferior aspects of the truth of things or can merely prepare less evolved minds for the heights to which we have arrived. And we are still prone to force upon ourselves or others the whole sacred mass of the book or gospel we admire, insisting that all shall be accepted as eternally valid truth and no iota or underline or diaeresis denied its part of the plenary inspiration.
Sri Aurobindo, Essays on the Gita: Our Demand and Need from the Gita
This is the psychology which today rules over the whole world, except in a few individuals who have grown out of this exclusivism; but otherwise this is the general tendency today even those who hold religious conferences in order to arrive at understanding – even when they claim that others have got some truth or much truth – they still try to believe in their own life, in their own meaning that after all, ‘My religion is superior to all the others; that I have a truth which none others have got.’ This is the psychology which divides the world today very seriously. It is in this context that the Gita is being studied now by us. So let us not fall into this kind of a pit, because all these exclusivists, when they study their own religious Scripture, they want people to accept every word written there, as Sri Aurobindo says, even a comma, or a diacritical mark which is there, they would not like it to be changed, as if it is the last word in the Truth.
This raises the question as to what is the authority of truth. How do you know that truth is Truth? And why is it that so many people in the world have upheld one book, one scripture, as containing the highest truth? What is the reason for this? And it is in that context we have to ask ourselves whether the Gita that we are going to study, are we going to make the same kind of claim that the highest Truth is here and no other truth anywhere exists, and that every word that is given here is absolutely final and there has been no expansion at all?
Fortunately, in India we have a tradition, it says: ananta Veda, the Vedas are infinite. And this is a very great liberating truth, so that we may say that even the Vedas that we read are not claimed to be ‘the' Truth or the only truth exclusively, something that is confined in the four corners of the Scriptures that we read as Rig Veda, Yajur Veda, Sama Veda, Atharva Veda. If the Vedas are ananta, then there are so many things still remaining to be told, to be revealed, to be brought out: then, if that is true of the origin of the Gita, then what to talk of the Gita itself?
So, this is a fortunate circumstance in India that right from the beginning, our minds are free from this kind of bigotry – although this bigotry exists, but basically in our own tradition there is an opening of a gate which can liberate us from this bigotry. Now it is in that spirit that we are going to study the Gita, not as something which is finally true, for all times to be true, but to see what truths it contains, and if the whole of the Gita is nothing but the truth, to keep in consciousness that there are many things which are not in the Gita, many other truths, which are not in the Gita. There are even for example many truths of the Veda, which are not in the Gita. The Gita may be regarded as a quintessence of the Veda, but the richness of the Veda is not in the Gita. The Gita is an episode, at a given occasion, and whatever was relevant to that occasion has been answered. But although it is called the quintessence of the Upanishads, the richness of the Upanishads is not in the Gita. Therefore, we cannot make a claim that all that is true is in the Gita, that the Gita gives you the final word of the truth and that there is nowhere any truth anywhere else or whatever truth anywhere else exists is subordinate to this truth. This is not the attitude with which we are going to study the Gita and this is to be very clear in the minds of everyone that if you study the Gita from other point of view, we shall be blinded by truth but not enlightened.
In Essays on the Gita, page 2-3, Sri Aurobindo says:
It may therefore be useful in approaching an ancient Scripture, such as the Veda, Upanishads or Gita, to indicate precisely the spirit in which we approach it and what exactly we think we may derive from it that is of value to humanity and its future. First of all, there is undoubtedly a Truth one and eternal which we are seeking, from which all other truth derives, by the light of which all other truth finds its right place, explanation and relation to the scheme of knowledge. But precisely for that reason it cannot be shut up in a single trenchant formula, it is not likely to be found in its entirety or in all its bearings in any single philosophy or scripture or uttered altogether and for ever by any one teacher, thinker, prophet or Avatar. Nor has it been wholly found by us if our view of it necessitates the intolerant exclusion of the truth underlying other systems; for when we reject passionately, we mean simply that we cannot appreciate and explain. Secondly, this Truth, though it is one and eternal, expresses itself in Time and through the mind of man; therefore every Scripture must necessarily contain two elements, one temporary, perishable, belonging to the ideas of the period and country in which it was produced, the other eternal and imperishable and applicable in all ages and countries. Moreover, in the statement of the Truth the actual form given to it, the system and arrangement, the metaphysical and intellectual mould, the precise expression used must be largely subject to the mutations of Time and cease to have the same force; for the human intellect modifies itself always; continually dividing and putting together it is obliged to shift its divisions continually and to rearrange its syntheses; it is always leaving old expression and symbol for new or, if it uses the old, it so changes its connotation or at least its exact content and association that we can never be quite sure of understanding an ancient book of this kind precisely in the sense and spirit it bore to its contemporaries. What is of entirely permanent value is that which besides being universal has been experienced, lived and seen with a higher than the intellectual vision.
Sri Aurobindo, Essays on the Gita: Our Demand and Need from the Gita
There are two important things at this stage which need to be mentioned. The claim to Truth that is made in regard to any Scripture rests upon the psychology of revelation; in fact, every Scripture is named as a revelation. What Moses got in the Ten Commandments were supposed to be revelations; what Christ has said is supposed to be a revelation; the Veda is called sruti, a revelation, "That which is heard"; Upanishads are supposed to be revelations. It is on the basis of the psychology of revelation that it is said that anything that is revealed is necessarily true. This is as distinguished from thinking. Anything that you think is subject to error; it may be true but it is also possible that it is erroneous. But what is revealed is 'supposed' to be true – this is the psychology – and this is a claim. Now the problem is, for us who are all seekers, we are told that what is given in the Bible is a revelation, what is given by Moses is a revelation, what is given in the Koran is a revelation, what is given in the Veda is a revelation. And yet they don't say the same thing! This is a fact.
So sometimes we are told, it is true that they will not use the same words, but basically what they all say is the same thing. But factually, we do not find it to be so. It is true that there are certain things which are factually so, but we can’t say that everything that is said, is said in every other Scripture: a same revelation although different words, it is not the case. Therefore, we must have a correct knowledge of this psychology of revelation.
In the very second line of this book, Sri Aurobindo speaks of ‘revelations and half revelations’, so that means that there can be revelation, there can be half revelation, there can be greater revelation, and that is the real truth of the psychology of revelation. Instead of quarrelling that ‘my revelation is true’ and then claiming that another revelation is false, the best thing is to say that all revelations are true. Even if they differ, the Truth expresses itself in many ways, ekam sad vipra bahudha vadanti, (Rig Veda 1.164.46) the same reality which is expressed by different sages differently. Or else the truth that is revealed here is not necessarily a complete truth which is revealed: there are many aspects of the Truth, the Truth is infinite. That’s why the Indian tradition speaks of ananta vedah, the revelations are infinite and no particular revelation will catch the whole: the whole idea that one revelation or a body of revelations reflect the whole thing, is itself an erroneous idea when we examine the fact of revelations; the data of revelations will tell us that there are many revelations and each revelation has its own place; and there is a truth in it which perhaps may be is not elsewhere, but there are truths elsewhere which are not here. Therefore, the right attitude is to see that even if you claim that a revelation gives you the Truth, we have to accept the fact that revelations are of many kinds, there are many revelations and each revelation may contain a truth but not the whole of the Truth and that no particular revelation can catch the whole of the Truth. This is the first thing to be noted.
The second thing is: how the revelation is expounded, is expressed? Now, this is a very difficult subject. How is a revelation expressed? Even if you have a revelation, is it expressed in a specific language, with specific words? Is revelation merely a kind of a general enlightenment which afterwards is expressed by you, in your own language – in the language of the vehicle through which the revelation is expressed?
Here also we find that there are varieties of experiences. Sometimes, the revelation is given in a specific language, exact words are given; you really see the revelation before your eyes as you can see this page, similarly when your inner eyes are opened, you can sometimes, you can see exactly as you see the book written before you. Now some people might reject this claim altogether saying this is all bunkum, but such experiences exist, and there are records of people who have no reason to tell lies. In fact, such are the things which they have seen and they have worked. Sometimes it is explained in words, you hear, you don’t see, but you really hear the words, the exact words you hear, that is why it is called śruti. It is heard, that also happens. Revelation is done by hearing. And again, these things are actually actively pursued and they have produced results.
I will give one small example in my personal experience: I was once assigned, in 1980, a task – I do not give the details of this because they are not very important. But I was given a task in the month of November, which I was supposed to accomplish within a day or two through the High Court of Calcutta. Now, this task had to be completed because the Parliament of India was opening its winter session on the 17th November in that year, and this task was connected with the promulgation of an ordinance, a very important ordinance had to be promulgated by the Government of India. And no ordinance can be passed when the Parliament opens, when the Parliament is in session, no ordinance can be passed. And the Government's idea was this should be passed through an ordinance, so that before the Parliament discusses it, it is already a fait accompli. It was a very important decision to be implemented, so the dating was very important. Now, on the 5th of November, we were about to issue the ordinance – I was one of the principal persons in charge of this ordinance, it had to be promulgated on the 5th of November. Just at the time when the President was about to sign, I was in the room of the President, next to his room, when the Law Secretary of the Government of India rang him up and said, "Sir, please do not sign the ordinance".
It was like a bombshell on the President and on me. It was something which was planned and the plan was being broken. And then the President said: "What is the reason?" and the Secretary said, "Calcutta High Court has stayed the powers of the President and President shall not sign this particular ordinance." He said: “There is no law where a President cannot sign an ordinance if he wants to." So, the Law Secretary said, "You are right, Sir, but the judge has gone mad and he has issued a stay order. As long as a stay order remains in operation, it binds the President. It is a wrong decision, but wrong or right, as long as it is the decision of the judge, it binds you. Therefore, please, my advice is: do not sign it."
Now, we had a great need to get it signed as soon as possible, so the Prime Minister heard of it, she told me: “You fly to Calcutta and get this stay lifted, so that the ordinance can be issued.” So, on the 7th November I was in Calcutta and I went to meet my lawyer, a government lawyer, and I explained to him the importance of the ordinance that was to be issued, the necessity of it, and the decision taken by the Cabinet in pursuance of which this was to be done.
To my mind, it was an ordinance connected with a very important Divine's work, therefore I was directly involved in it personally. My lawyer said: “The High Court of Calcutta is in a 'Puja holiday' just at that time, and the High Court will reopen on the 17th November. And as soon as the Court opens, I assure you that I will take up your case first and plead for your case.” So, I said: “17th November is completely useless for me, because even if the stay is lifted the Parliament will be in session on that day, and the moment the Parliament is in session, no ordinance can be passed. So, it is of no use to me.” So, my lawyer said: “Sir, what can I do now? This is the situation; nothing can be done before 17th of November.”
So, we were completely blocked. Then I told him, “Look, there must be a vacation judge who can hear it.” So, he replied: “It is this very vacation judge who has put the ban on it!” So, I said, “it does not matter, even if he has done it, the argument can be put before him and he can change his own opinion after hearing the argument.” “All right”, he said, "I'll just now ring him up and find out if the judge is prepared to listen to the argument."
He went inside his office room and then rang him up and came back after three minutes and said, "Sir, I tried and he says that he will not hear this case until 17th November. But he promises that on 17th November he will take this case first.” So, this was of no use!
The internal feeling at that time that arose in me was that of a ‘burning fire' in my being. This was an impossibility, which was staring my eyes, my whole being, and I wanted that this has to be done! That was my fundamental will, you might say, it had got to be done, it was a part of the Divine's work which had to be done. And then I prayed and I said, “Oh, Lord, if it is not Your will that this should be done, please make me defeated. I'll be absolutely uncomplaining whether this thing happens or does not happen.” And in this prayer of complete dispassionate equality I said, “I put the whole question at Your feet.” And then I heard a voice, which said, “Speak to the judge yourself.” These were the words I heard. And immediately I turned to my lawyer – I do not think anybody else heard these words but I can testify to the fact that I did hear these words “Speak to the judge yourself.” I turned to the lawyer and said to the lawyer: “Can I speak to the judge myself? Can you tell the judge that I want to speak to him myself?” And the lawyer laughed, he said, “Mr Joshi, what are you talking? I have just now spoken to the judge and it will be prejudicial if you speak to the judge yourself.” So, I said, “does not matter, but I must speak to the judge, I am at an impasse now. I do not know really what has to be done but I must do my best.” So, he went inside once again under my great pressure after ten or fifteen minutes of a debate, he went inside. And in two minutes he came back and he said, “Mr Joshi I have experienced a miracle.” These were his first words. “The judge has told me that he will listen to the argument today at four o'clock and he will lift the stay order.” These were the two lines that the judge said in reply to this request made by my lawyer who said, “I simply told the judge, 'Mr Joshi wants to speak to you', he said before I could even finish the sentence he said ‘You tell Mr Joshi that I'll hear the case today at four o'clock and I will lift the stay.’”
This actually really has happened!
At four o'clock (there were of course many things that happened thereafter we cannot go into now. One day I'll tell you the whole story which is a very interesting story), but at four o'clock the judge came in his own house to listen to the case and by five o'clock, the case was finished and he gave me the order in writing lifting the ban on the ordinance! I came back here and on the 9th morning, the ordinance was issued!
These are the concrete facts, so that nobody can say that there is a kind of an imaginary story. There was a fact that the judge had said he will not hear the case and there were circumstances in which he was quite free to make these statements, yet the ordinance was passed on the 9th of November – which is a fact of history! And what is it that had happened, how did it change? It is śruti that changed the whole thing. I had not even an idea that I must say I wanted to speak myself! It is what I heard, “Speak to the judge yourself.” And I merely mentioned to my lawyer and he mentioned these words to the judge on the phone and this was the reply. So, I personally believe that there can be śruti.
Even if somebody says, "There can't be śruti, can't hear." But I personally believe that there can be experiences of śruti. You can hear, the words can be heard and they need not be the words of scripture, need not be something which has to be, but of course, from that day one thing I learnt as a kind of a Scripture: when you want to do the Divine’s, work do not delegate it, you do it yourself! This is what I have derived afterwards in my life.
So that there can be a 'revelation' and revelation need not be something of the kind that we read in the Vedas or the Upanishads, but can be connected with ordinary things, like do ‘this’ or do ‘that’, and actually the Bhagavad Gita is of that kind: Sri Krishna tells Arjuna, “kill these people.” It is a revelation of a very special kind! Something that is so drastic and something so alarming, something so troubling but that such revelation can be, this I cannot doubt at all. It is a fact, it can happen.
The condition is that you should be in a state as I had experienced. It is a fact that my body was ‘on fire’, my whole body was burning. It is a fact that I said to the Divine in my heart that “I do not want to succeed. If that is the will of God that I must not succeed, please let me not succeed. But if it is the Divine's will that it should succeed, please see that it succeeds, and I will have no complaint either way.” And I could see that in that condition, there was this revelation: a way was opened up as it were and a further development took place. It was very important, actually to my mind that was a very important event in my life and in the life of the Divine's work in the world. Now this is a very small event, a negligible event in the history of the world, but it is an example that revelations can be of various kinds. Therefore, if I claim that now once revelation has come, all that I am thinking is a revelation is madness!
And many people in the world history, sometimes taken up by this kind of experience, which happens once quite rightly but it does not mean that every experience of his will be of the same value, because in every case, he will not be 'on fire' in every condition of his life. In every condition he may not have this state of equality that defeat or success makes no difference at all, and a prayer that only the Divine Will must manifest and nothing else: personal considerations are absolutely abolished. And that too, what is revealed at that time will not be revealed tomorrow, in the meantime the situation might have changed. So, one must be ready to see that revelations can be of yesterday are true revelation, and next day the same revelation may be wrong; a new revelation may come and supersede the revelations of yesterday.
I think if the ordinance was to be lifted it could have been lifted in any way, it was perhaps to give you the experience it was sort of happening that way.
That could be, but the point is: maybe that the judge would not have issued the ban at all, right from the beginning. That also could have been possible.
So, it's perhaps for your pers...
May be. But I cannot interpret in any way. I simply say that I had this experience, that is all, and I was greatly benefited, greatly profited by this experience, and I was extremely happy the way in which it happened. But it is true that after it succeeded, I was not in a state of exultation: it was a state of equality still, whether I succeeded or I failed. It was a real fact that I was neither happy nor unhappy about it. It was given as it were, at the feet of God and it was God's action. I can simply say there was no role that I played. And as you could see in the story, I was not even required to speak to him [the judge] on the phone, ultimately. I simply got this inspiration that I must speak myself and it was only communicated to him and this was the reply, in two minutes there was a complete change in the mind of the judge.
But you never enquired what happened to the judge?
How can I ask him? Because I never met him actually! I met him only at the court in his house since the Court was closed in the real court, he had taken vacation room in his own house. I simply met him there and my lawyer spoke to him simply and he gave the order simply, saying that the ban is lifted.
What were you saying?
Uncle, doesn’t the Truth get established when it is a personal experience, is it the definition of Truth that we have to see it and establish in our very own being, otherwise it is just like as you said, so many books, so many literatures, so many opinions. Don't we establish that Truth within us by experience?
Very true, very important. That is why one should never tell anybody, "Look, here is a truth. Accept it," This is what is called 'dogmatic teaching': 'Here is a revelation, it is given by a great spiritual seeker and a spiritual siddha, therefore now take it for granted to be true'. You should always verify your own experience and establish it in yourself, but there is an intermediate position also. When somebody is seeking seriously, sincerely, he has still not established the truth in himself, but you can tell him, “In your search, I give you this which might help you, this is claimed to be a revelation, this is claimed to be a truth, and if you want to consider it, consider it, it may help". Even before you realise it in your own being, a revealed word can help. There is another way by which it can be helpful.
Question: The revelations can come in dreams also.
Yes, it can come in many ways, many different ways. This came to me in my waking life actually I heard. But it can come in many forms. There is another way by which also revelation can be useful.
You may be in a position, in a state, where you believe that the truth that you hold in your hand is so important for the other one that if he does not believe in it, it will be harmful to him. Secondly, you are convinced that there is not much time available for him to consider this rationally or otherwise, or arrive at his own personal experience where he can be sure of this truth; a situation is such that you don't have so much time, that person has to do something, and he has to do it now within a short time. He doesn’t have time to verify whether it is true or not. Then you are justified in that condition to tell him that “Look, this is the revelation, this is Truth as I understand it, as I believe it, as I experience it. For you it is very useful, and since you are obliged to do action right now and you don't have the time to make an experiment by which you can verify it in your experience, I simply tell you, please believe in it; act on it, simply by an act of faith.” This also is a justified way of presenting a revelation. As far as you are concerned, according to you it is Truth.
This is something what happens to very often is the experience of patients who are about to die. There is a decision to be taken whether he should take this kind of medicine or not, this treatment or not. Now, what should be the attitude of the doctor or friends in regard to a treatment in regard to which the patient has scepticism and his consent is necessary before you can undertake this treatment? What should be the attitude, how can you prescribe it? In this circumstance utmost you can do is the following, you can say, “Look you are free to decide for yourself, whether you should take this treatment or not, I do not want that you should be led by a dogma. You don't have the time now to examine whether this treatment is really good or not, but there is an experience of many doctors who find this is quite useful. There is no other alternative just now. Have therefore the faith and undertake the treatment. We believe that we are doing our best by presenting this treatment to you but even then, although I recommend that you should have trust in it, faith in it, I leave it to you now. I recommend very strongly that you should have faith in it. Don’t try now to find out whether it is true or not, you don’t have the time for it, yet you have got to do it right now, so what will you do” In this circumstance even to tell others: have faith in it.
Therefore the claim of those who believe in faith is not entirely wrong, there are circumstances in which you can give to the people and say, “On faith, you take it now, and even while you do your experiments, sometime you may have time for experimentation but even there you have to tell some people that look if you don't do experimentation at all it will be harmful to you, experimentation will take time, if you don't do experimentation at all then afterwards it will be too late when you can make an experimentation therefore just now have faith in this. And make experimentation and find out for yours if whether it is right or not.”
As far as we all are concerned we are in a situation of this kind. When the teaching of the Gita is given to us, we all have time to experiment with it; we are not like the patients who are on the death bed, we are all patients if at all, patients who have the time to make experimentation. But it may be that from a particular point of view we must accept all this as faith, experiment it on that basis, so that we may be quickly relieved. Or you may even say to the people concerned that “Look, this is a revelation, this is true, it is worthy of faith, whether you should keep faith in it or not, I do not know, it is up to you. In any case; my argument to you is that do not accept it until by experiment you are convinced that it is true, because that is the highest way of verifying and following any truth.” But there are circumstances in which you can present the highest truth either as a proposal to be followed or not, or even sometimes advising strongly to have faith in it.
So, there are three attitudes towards the truth, revealed truth. One is to present a revealed truth and to say, “You listen to it and right now perhaps by listening, it might affect you. It is quite possible that your mind is so ripe that the revelation just comes in and the right word is spoken at that time and you get enlightened. It is quite possible.”
It is said of Kabir, that as a boy he was sleeping on the ghats of Benares. One great saint at night, early morning, it was still dark, and he came to take his bath on the ghat of Ganges. And by mistake his foot fell upon this boy who was sleeping and he simply said, "Ram, Ram". And this boy heard his words and he felt as if a great light broke in him, and from that day his whole life changed. So, it is quite possible a revelation of this kind merely by hearing, the seal of ignorance is broken and the whole life gets completely changed. That is possible.
So that is first is that you simply say, “Look, listen, and listen to it very quietly.” Secondly, “I don't say you should believe in it, make an experiment and only when you are completely in the state of experience of it, then you accept it.” This is the highest ideal of presentation of any truth.
Comment: Like said Lord Krishna on ........
Yes. "Yathechhasi tatha kuru” “Now, you decide what you have to do." Correct absolutely, very true. That is the spirit. In fact, that's what I said that fortunately in India we have a tradition that revelations are many; infinite in fact, therefore you can never claim that this is the last word. In fact Rig Veda itself says that, “As you begin to rise higher and higher, newer and newer truths will reveal themselves”. So even if you say Rig Veda is a revelation then that revelation itself says that my revelation is not the final one. As you will climb onwards newer and newer truths will appear before you, will reveal themselves to you. It is a fortunate thing in India, that is why in Indian tradition this kind of freedom is so great and dogmatism has not played such a great role as elsewhere.
So we have now two propositions before us. One is the psychology of revelation and where we say that revelation certainly gives you the Truth. But secondly, that one revelation may be valid only for that time, may not be valid for another time. There are revelations which contain a lot of truth, there are other revelations which are half-revelations.
In fact, there can be a good science of revelations. People normally think that revelation is simply a matter of illumination suddenly, and that is the end of the matter. But there is a body of revelations, there is a growing body of revelations in fact. All of them are true or some of them are true, some of them have lost that validity or directness at present. There were certain which are only revelations in action. Mother has written one very important statement after writing something on a particular book, she said: “Do not make dogma of what I have said. All my words are words of ‘force of action’. My words have come out in the anvil of action, and therefore they are true only on the process of action.” So, there can be revelations which are only valid today, and may be surpassed tomorrow and there may be other kinds of truths. This is the first point.
The second point is the language in which the revelation comes may be quite different in different languages. There was a belief in India that revelation must come only in Sanskrit. But that is not true. The language is simply a vehicle in which a revelation clothes itself. In one of the verses of the Rig Veda, there is a description as to how the Vedic hymns were composed, in which it is said, “The Truth comes travelling from above, selects its clothing (of words) and then finds utterance.” So, words are as it were the intermediate field, the truth comes from above, not in words, words are secondary, first is the truth revelation. There is a light, what we call the real knowledge, not verbal knowledge, not something in words but knowledge, knowledge which can be known independent of words that knowledge is revealed. It travels down to the field of words and then appropriately the knowledge itself selects the right words and takes utterance. So it depends upon your atmosphere of your words. Out of your storehouse of your words, that revelation takes a clothing and is uttered. Therefore, to say that this word is a final word, an ultimate word of which an iota can't be changed, that rigidity is not right.
I think we can stop here today, we shall continue as soon as I come back from Madras ...l may be going tomorrow.