Text of the Bhagavagd Gita (Mother's Institute of Research) - Session 27: Chapter 8—Verses 1-4 (18 July 1999)

Questions, one was put by you about Purusha; and the second question was by you. I think both questions can be connected, so let me first answer those two questions.

The first question was: is Purusha mobile or immobile, or both? And the second question was: what is the origin of Apara Prakriti? You put it in a different way; I am putting the same question in a different way: how does Para Prakriti, which is the divine Prakriti, which is luminous Prakriti, how does that Prakriti become Apara Prakriti? Or how does Apara Prakriti originate from Para Prakriti? Does Para Prakriti itself become Apara Prakriti? Or even when Para Prakriti remains what it is, there is still something that becomes Apara Prakriti out of her? These are the different nuances of the question as far as I can understand, but now if you have any further thing…Is this all right? Is this your question? And I told you that in the Bhagavad Gita there is no direct answer to this question.

In fact, this was my question in my own personal life for a long time, and I studied a good deal of philosophy to find an answer to this question; so, I value this question tremendously. This question has played a great role in my life. I read so much at that time and ultimately I came to the conclusion that ‘nobody’ has answered this question. This is the conclusion I arrived at after reading so much on this subject and yet I found this question is perhaps the most important question until I came to read Sri Aurobindo where I found that He is the first one, the only one who has raised this question pointedly, sharply, and answered it extensively in all its aspects. So, from the point of view of the literature on this subject, I can only say that Sri Aurobindo is the only one, ‘The Life Divine’ is the only book where this question has been answered. Even in The Synthesis of Yoga this question is not answered. It is only in The Life Divine this question has been answered.

Long question:?

When Sri Krishna speaks of that, He speaks of the Apara Prakriti:

prakṛitiṁ yānti bhūtāni nigrahaḥ kiṁ kariṣyati ||3.33||

So, that is only about Apara Prakriti. In the Bhagavad Gita, in the first 6 chapters wherever the word Prakriti has been used, it is Apara Prakriti. In the 7th chapter Sri Krishna speaks of Para Prakriti. Till that time He had not spoken of Para Prakriti at all. In the 7th chapter Sri Krishna speaks of Para Prakriti and then naturally the question arises, when Sri Krishna says that “I have got two natures”. This itself is a startling statement. It is when He says: “I have got two natures, the higher and the lower”.

Now, naturally the question arises: the Divine being the Supreme, how can He have a lower? He is the Supreme, He is the Divine. How can He have something that is lower? So, there must be some kind of a link and that link has to be found. Now, since Sri Krishna spoke of it, and He also said there is a link between the two, Sri Krishna knows the answer, but the question is not raised either by Arjuna or by Himself and in that rapid conversation there is no time where this question can be addressed. So, you can simply say that although there is an answer to this question there is no scope for getting this answer within the four limits of the Bhagavad Gita. We have to read the Bhagavad Gita several times and you do find somewhere the answer but still you do not get that satisfaction of having found the answer in the Gita.

If you look back into the Upanishads the same question can be asked, because the Upanishads also speak of two vidyās: para vidyā and apara vidyā. It also makes a distinction between jñāna and ajñāna, and you ask the question: how does the phenomenon of ignorance arise at all, if there is only one Reality? And this is the basic proposition of the Upanishads: ‘the Reality is only one’; that Reality is Divine; it is self-luminous; it is all luminous. If that is so, where can ignorance exist at all? If the Divine is the only reality and the Divine is everywhere, then knowledge should be everywhere! So how can there be the presence of ignorance at all?

So, this question is certainly a very important question. But even in the Upanishads, I must say, I could not find the raising of this specific question and the answering of this question. Again, Upanishads are not philosophical works. In philosophical works, one can say that a philosophy should raise all possible questions and should answer all of them. But since the Upanishads are not primarily philosophical books, philosophy can be derived, but they are not themselves philosophical, we can only look for some hints.

Now, what is the hint that you find in the Upanishads? The one very great hint that you get in the Upanishad is in the Isha Upanishad, where it is said that “The face of the Truth is covered by a golden lid” (īśa u.15). Now, this is a very important clue that “The face of the Truth is covered by a golden lid”. Now, this golden lid has to be removed, apāvṛṇu, that is the prayer: ‘Please remove this golden lid’. Although it is golden, it is a lid, it is a cover and cover has to be removed and when you uncover it, then it is said: kalyāṇatamaṁ rūpam (īśa u.16): “The most auspicious form of the Divine is then seen, where thousands rays of the sun meet together and the highest form of the Divine is revealed and I realise so ’ham, I am He.” Now this realisation depends upon the golden lid being removed, but then the question arises: how did this golden lid arise? From where did it come, if there is one Reality? If there were two realities, we can imagine that there is another reality which was mischievous and put the lid there. But if there is only one Reality, then you have to find some other deeper answer. But there is an admission in the Isha Upanishad that there is a golden lid.

In the Veda, when you read the Veda, you find a clear admission in what is called the Aghamarṣaṇa Mantra. I have spoken of it earlier but it needs repetition. Aghamarṣaṇa Mantra says:

ऋतं च सत्यं चाभीद्धात् तपसो ऽध्य् अजायत |
ततो रात्र्य् अजायत ततः समुद्रो अर्णवः ||

ṛtaṃ ca satyaṃ cābhīddhāt tapaso 'dhy ajāyata |
tato rātry ajāyata tataḥ samudro arṇavaḥ ||

The Veda 10.190.1

(ṛtam-ca-satyam ca-abhi-iddhāt-tapasaḥ-adhi-ajāyata)

(tataḥ-rātri-ajāyata tataḥ samudraḥ araṇavaḥ)

It gives you a description that first there is Tapas: Tapas is the force of the Light of the Divine. So, let us say, there is first the one Light, the supreme Light emanating from the supreme Being. Now, from that Light it says that the first thing that came out was ṛtam-ca-satyam, ‘the Truth and the Right came out’ and there is no surprise in it because from the supreme Light, only Truth can come out, the supreme Light can only give the Right. So there is no mystery, no question about it. But then it says very clearly, tato rātryajāyata, from there… rātri in the Veda is the symbol for ignorance; tataḥ-rātri-ajāyata, ‘From there Ignorance arose’; tataḥ samudro araṇavaḥ, ‘from there arose the ocean of complete Darkness’: Inconscience. Now, this is a very great clue given in the Rig-Veda, in the 10th Mandala, the last chapter of the Rig-Veda. So, it says that Tapas which is the force of the Light of the Supreme, in its tasks of creativity first gives rise to ṛtaṁ ca satyaṁ, the Truth and the Right. What is ṛtam and satyam* is further described in the Veda, we shall come to it later on. But this is the first step of the Tapas movement.

After that, the next step is the rise of rātri. Now, that is a mystery: how from the Truth and the Right, how can rātri arise? But it says that it is out of this that rātri has come out. Reality is only one, there are not two realities, it is not as if somebody else put rātri. So, the Rig-Veda is perfectly clear, the Reality is one: ekaṁ sad viprā bahudhā vadanti,(R.V. I, 164, 46) that is the great sentence of the Rig-Veda, Reality is one. That Reality which is one, which is luminous, which has a force, which is called Tapas, out of that Tapas’s action, the first thing that comes out is ṛtaṁ ca satyaṁ. Then out of this comes ‘Ignorance’. And then comes out the complete ‘Darkness’. It goes further, but for our purpose this is most important statement that the Rig-Veda recognises that Ignorance has not come out from somewhere else, it has come out from ṛtaṁ ca satyaṁ. But how and why should it come about? That question is not answered in that particular Mantra. So, even there I could not find the answer to my question.


How from ṛtaṁ ca satyaṁ, from there how can ignorance come out? And then Ignorance is the parent of error, the parent of falsehood, exactly the opposite of the Truth and the Right. How can this happen? And then comes out complete darkness, samudro aranavaḥ: that is the symbol of complete Darkness. In the Rig-Veda samudra is used for 3 oceans: the ocean of ‘Darkness’, the ocean of ‘human consciousness’, and the ocean of the ‘supreme Light’. There are three oceans according to the Veda. So, out of the Ignorance, tato rātryajāyata tataḥ samudro aranavaḥ*, ‘…Then came out a complete Darkness’. Now, this is what you find in the Rig-Veda.

So, when I could not find the answer to this question, at that time I did not know Sri Aurobindo at all. I was only reading all this, trying my best to find out where to find the answer to this question, and I came to the conclusion that nobody had answered this question. It was then that ‘The Life Divine’ happened to come to my hands, and when I read this book, I came to a real explanation and understanding of this question.

So now let me come rapidly to the answer to this question. What is the explanation of this? Now, to understand the question and the answer we must go back to the Rig-Veda. The Rig-Veda speaks of Tapas from which arises the Truth and the Right. Now, this is a very important clue: the Reality according to the Veda is not merely immobile; if it was only immobile then Tapas which is the force of the Light creating something would not arise. Immobile cannot create anything. So, the first thing to be noted is that according to the Vedic knowledge, the Reality is not merely immobile: it has also mobility.

Now, that reality is both mobile and immobile. It is affirmed also in the Upanishad. It is also affirmed in the Bhagavad Gita. So we are on a sound footing: when all the three great ‘statements’ are available to us, confirming each other, it is very clear that the Reality is both the immobile and the mobile. The Isha Upanishad says: tad ejati tannaijati (Isha U.5); tad ejati means ‘that which is one’, ejati, it moves; tad-na-ejati, it does not move. So, it is very clear that the Isha Upanishad recognises that Reality is both immobile and mobile. Sri Krishna says in the Bhagavad Gita that there is a Purusha which is mobile kśaraḥ, there is another Purusha which is akśara, and that ‘I’, ‘Purushottama’, ‘I am above both mobile and the immobile’, Purushottama. So, this is exactly what the Veda says that Reality is both mobile and immobile. It is very rightly said that the Bhagavad Gita is a summary of the Vedic knowledge and this is one of the examples to show how the Vedic Knowledge is fully reflected in the Bhagavad Gita.


And then He says about Himself that “I am Purushottama”.

So, we start with this basic statement that there is Reality which is at once mobile and immobile. Now, normally we think that mobility and immobility are opposed to each other. But Purushottama in the Gita says that they are not opposed to each other. In our normal experience we feel that mobile and immobile are opposed to each other. Now, what is opposed to each other is normally judged by us, by words that we use, mobile, immobile, the words themselves are contradictory to each other. Immobile means ‘that which is not mobile’. So, when you say that Reality is both mobile and immobile, we really feel very constrained, and many people who are not prepared to speak or to understand, or to reflect, or to meditate, or to go into the depths with seriousness, it is very easy for them to pronounce that the Vedic teaching, the Upanishadic teaching, Gita’s teaching is self-contradictory, logically untenable and therefore false. It is very easy to say for anybody who plunges into these propositions.

It is now in recent times that people have become more cautious. Why? Because recently some discoveries have been made by Physics which are very surprising. For example they have discovered that when they break the atom, down and down and down to the lowest element, you find that it is from one point of view a particle, from another point of view it is a wave. So, you have got to say that the utmost, smallest onoḥ oniya, that which is smallest, smaller than the smallest is at once a particle and a wave. Now, a particle is non-wave, and a wave is non-particle. So, now they have been obliged to say that we cannot help it. When we come down to the most basic reality, we find the reality surprising: it is self-contradictory; it is at once a particle and a wave.

Because they have now come to realise that there can be such things, it is easier for us now to go back to these statements, where the Vedic Rishis and the Rishis of the Upanishads, and Sri Krishna, they have not been shy at all of telling two things which are contradictory at the first sight. They also knew no contradiction as far as you and I know; and they knew that well they would be charged of self-contradiction and therefore of being wrong, and yet they did not shy at all, get ashamed of it at all, they have said it very clearly: tad ejati tannaijati, and I am both kṣara and akṣara at the same time, and even beyond it.


It is, it is, and even if you go to the lowest atom it is like this; when you go to the highest it is like that.

It is also said that the wave and particle form ?few words? status of the observer, does it somehow link the consciousness and the force?*

That is a further question which has now arisen. Previously it was said that physics can be learnt without bringing consciousness at all into the picture. Now, it is found that you can’t learn physics without bringing consciousness into the picture. Previously it was taught that matter and consciousness were opposed to each other: where there is matter there is no consciousness, where there is consciousness there is no matter. And now they are obliged to say that it is not anymore so. So, even the dichotomy of matter and consciousness is now being questioned. In fact one of the most important things of today in physics is consciousness. The nature of matter has been examined quite a great deal and when now they study more and more the nature of matter, they are obliged to study the question of consciousness: this is the modern mood, modern ??? , and therefore what we are saying does not seem so very jarring to the modern mind today. Twenty years ago it was very jarring, but during the last twenty years the progress made by physics is so great that this dichotomy of body and mind, which was very powerful, has gone overboard. This dichotomy between matter and consciousness is also now thrown away. The dichotomy between wave and particle is also thrown away. Actually speaking, this difference between wave and particle is that wave is movement, and particle is stable,(not movement): immobile and mobile you find at the root of the whole thing. ??? atom is at once particle and wave, which means it is tad ejati tannaijati at the same time: ‘it moves, it does not move’. Particle is that which you can catch at one point, and wave is something that moves out: so, it is at once mobile and immobile.

So, Sri Aurobindo has said at length in ‘The Life Divine’ that our normal concept of mobility and immobility by which we judge whether they are contradictory or not is itself very inadequate. If you really go into the depth of the experience of mobility and immobility, you will really find that the two must coexist at the same time. There can be no mobility without immobility behind. It is impossible for mobility to be mobile without an immobility behind. The greater the immobility at the back, the greater is the force of mobility.

Even for eloquence, you can be eloquent in your speech, when your mind is full and there is a complete stability of your mind which knows all the fullness of your ideas and then you can manifest, the flow of the speech goes on. That unless there is a big reservoir which is very quiet, without the fullness, there can’t be the force of action. This is even an ordinary experience. It is only the strong who can remain quiet, which is a fact: the weak goes on trembling all the time, but the strong…and the strength meaning something that is solid, unmovable, unshakable. Only the strong can be powerful in his action. So, when we go into the depths of our psychology we find that it is only when there is a tremendous quietude, or complete quietude that you can really be dynamic.

The supreme Purushottama is, at once, static and dynamic ‘at the same time’. It is not as if ¾ is quiet and ¼ is dynamic, even ‘that’ distinction cannot be made. It is not as if when the dynamism moves out, the staticity diminishes little by little. That also does not happen, the staticity remains perfect. When a strong man acts, it is not as if his strength is therefore weakened: his strength remains constant. The quietude of a Yogi is not lost even for one moment when he goes on making eloquent speeches; it is not as if when he is speaking his quietude is lost. When he is speaking he is at the same time completely quiet in his consciousness. You might even say that the quietude increases in fact, not only does it not decrease, it even in a sense increases: “rama dhana payo”, as Mirabai says, it is such a wealth that the more you spend, the more it comes, it increases.

Such is the nature of this quietude and its expenditure; it is not the ordinary way of expending: you spend it therefore the reservoir becomes less; the reservoir remains. Therefore purṇam adaḥ purṇam idam, ‘this is perfect and that is perfect’. The quietude, the staticity remains perfect, there is complete immobility. The only point is that mobility ‘depends’ upon immobility; and immobility ‘does not depend’ upon mobility. It is a very special relationship: mobility depends upon immobility, but immobility does not depend upon mobility although mobility must somehow be in the immobility, because if it is not in immobility, from where does it arise? So, immobility must have within it the mobility.

Now, this is our starting point, our first premise: Reality is at once static and dynamic. Although ‘dynamic’, it is not necessarily that it must become manifesting dynamically; it is such a relationship that it does not obligate the immobility to manifest into mobility: it may, it may not. That is called real freedom. The real freedom of the Divine is that He is free to remain immobile if He so wants. He is free to be mobile if He so wants.

And when He decides to become mobile, what happens? There is a force of movement, Tapas, that is the idea of Tapas. The force by which the mobility is, as it were, projected is ‘Tapas’. So, you might say that there is a power in the Supreme which becomes projected by power of the force: it gets projected. The Reality if it is not merely immobile and not merely mobile, but both at the same time. How is this to be expressed?

Now, in our Indian literature this has been expressed in many ways. One of the ways by which this is been expressed is the concept of ardhanārīśvara; that half of Him is Ishwara and the other one is nāri, but the same reality at once masculine and feminine meaning there by that that masculine is immobile and the other one is mobile: this is one way of conceiving it; all analogies are imperfect. But this is one way of understanding. So, there is a concept of ardhanārīśvara.

Then, there is another concept which is called: “Purusha and Prakriti”, meaning there by that Purusha is immobile and Prakriti is mobile, from where it has given rise to the idea that whenever we speak of Purusha, it is always immobile. That is why the question arises: is Purusha immobile alone? Now, again this is an image, therefore it should not be taken analogically too far: we should go back to the real fact. When we say there is something like Purusha and something like Prakriti, the question is: is Prakriti different from Purusha? Can Purusha not be described as Prakriti? Can Prakriti not be described as Purusha? If Reality is only one, then it should be possible to say that Purusha is Prakriti, and Prakriti is Purusha.

Therefore in the Bhagavad Gita, Sri Krishna says that Purusha is both mobile and immobile: there is kṣara puruṣa, and there is akṣara puruṣa. So, this distinction that we make between Purusha and Prakriti as if the two are opposite of each other, even that is rubbed out by this description of Sri Krishna: Purusha is one; it is at once static and dynamic. Therefore you say: puruṣa is kṣara; puruṣa is akṣara; and puruṣa is puruṣottama.


By Purusha, He is uttama puruṣa, He does not cease to be Purusha, but is only uttama puruṣa, He Himself says: I am uttama puruṣa. He is Purusha: the word Purushottama itself means puruṣaḥ yaḥ uttamaḥ, sa eva puruṣottamaḥ. That Purusha which is uttama, that is Purushottama.


uttama puruṣa: kṣara puruṣa is also Para Prakriti. As yet Apara Prakriti has not yet come into the picture at all. In the origin of all things that we are talking now…We are talking now at the highest level, in the very first premise. The first premise itself says: “There is one Reality: ekaṁ sad.” Now, that Reality is a very curious reality, it is adbhūtam, that Reality is not like an ordinary reality. So, it is very well known that the description of that Reality is a shocking statement: it is at once static and dynamic. There is something in that nature. Reality is such, it is not like an ordinary thing that if something is stable, it remains stable, it will not move. If it is moving it is not stable: such is not the nature of Reality, it is something quite different. Of all that we see, there is no analogy of it. That is why the Supreme is called anupamā, anupamā means: that of which there is no upamā, there is no simile of it. Reality is anupamā because there is only one reality which is like this, which is at once static and dynamic. That is why Sri Aurobindo says: Reality is complex even when it is simple. So His description is that Reality is simple-complex. Now this itself is so important that I have anticipated many things. We are not studying merely chapter by chapter. We are studying the Bhagavad Gita as a whole and while dealing with one chapter, if we need to anticipate something that is in later chapters, we need to bring it, so that we can answer the question at the right time when the question arises. The one principle of pedagogy is: you should not postpone curiosity; you should answer the question when it arises. You can say that this question can best be answered when I will have finished everything; that also could be said. But as far as possible it is best to answer the question when it arises, because otherwise all that you are going to say will always go on jarring, because that question is not answered. Until it is answered, how can you move forward? That is why I have taken the link at this stage. In any case, Bhagavad Gita has to be read as a whole, and Sri Krishna when He starts His teaching, it is not as He comes to know what is in the 15th chapter only at the 15th chapter. He knows even when He speaks of the first chapter; He knows what he is going to say later on. So, we can enter into His consciousness, as it were, and when the question arises we can bring out what He is going to say later on. In any case, this question requires a holistic answer; it is such an important question, such a difficult question that we have to put all the premises first of all very clearly.

So, we have now a starting point that there is a reality which is wonderful, which is something quite different from what we see in the world around, and one wonder of it is that it is ‘simple-complex’: it is at once static and dynamic. Now, this dynamism at the very source is dependent upon akṣara, or you might say depends upon Purushottama, but depends in a very special manner, namely that although it depends upon Purushottama, it is one with Purushottama. This is also a kind of the mystery and one of the wonders of Reality: usually that which depends is not one, identical, it has to be different. That Reality is only one; there is nothing other than the Reality, that this power cannot be something other than that Reality. So, it is that which is ‘in’ that Reality but one ‘with’ that Reality. Why do you say it is ‘in’ that reality? Because that power may manifest, may not manifest, and it depends upon the Purushottama Himself. There is something which is Purushottama, which is more than the power, although the power is one with Him, still it is something more than that. Such is the nature of reality. Therefore it is wonderful. It is anupamā: there is no simile of it. It is such a reality that it is more than power and yet power is inherent in it and power is one with Him. We start with these startling statements.

In any case, this is the teaching of the Veda, the Upanishads and the Gita. And what is stated is that if this is the nature of Reality when you experience it; not when you think of it. When you experience it, such is the nature of Reality. This is something similar to what happened to modern physicists. When they were thinking of atoms they said it can be only a particle or a wave but not both. But when they experience that very atom, they are obliged to say that in experience you find it is at once ‘particle’ and ‘wave’. What can we say about it! It is like that. So, on the basis of the experience it is found that the nature of Reality is such that it is only one, in which the elements of mobility and immobility are present; one does not negate the other: when mobility takes place, immobility is not exhausted, is not diminished, it remains the same. And yet the force flows from it: we speak of the conservation of energy; that energy spent or not spent always remains the same. That is physics telling us.

And you can ask the question: if the energy is spent, how can the energy remain the same? But such is what the physics says that even if the energy is spent, the total energy always remains the same. That is also a mystery. Such is the nature of Reality. You can determine the nature of Reality only by knowing what it is. You cannot decide on your own that the Reality must be like this. You cannot dictate the Reality must be like this. If Reality is like that you have to describe that Reality is like this, even though it may give a great shock to your brain, but Reality is not in respect of your brain: the brain has to respect the Reality because it is that which is trying to understand the Reality. But such is the nature of Reality. I am speaking at length on this because the question that you have raised requires that everything should be made perfectly clear in the very first premises; then other things will follow much more easily.

Now, this Reality when it manifests, you will find that there is nothing to restrict it. All restrictions come only from something else. I can be restricted by outside force; if I am the only one, then I have no restriction; nobody can limit it. Therefore the movement of forces is unlimited: it can move in many ways, in different ways, there are no restrictions at all. That is what is called ‘free will’: the free will is that which has no restriction in its movement: it can remain immobile if it wants to remain immobile; it can be mobile if it wants to be mobile; it can be mobile in unlimited way if it wants; it can be mobile in hundred different ways, or millions ways: all these are possibilities of that energy, of mobility.

Of these different ways of mobility, the determining force is Tapas. It is the force, the way by which this energy is guided, is monitored, you might say, is what is called tapas. Tapas is nothing but ‘force of concentration’. Even in our own ordinary mental consciousness, you will find that when you gather your energy on a particular point, which you call concentration, then that energy becomes more powerful. It becomes less powerful when it is dispersed: each energy which is a dispersal is less effective; but when the energy is focused, brought together, then it is very powerful. So, the original movement of the divine energy is tāpasi, is very concentrated.

Now, whenever there is a concentration, it can give correct shapes, formations. All formations are results of Tapas: you concentrate one way, it gives one result, concentrate another way, you do another result. All shapes, all shaping is done by the power of Tapas.

One big force moving by itself without restriction and limitation is what is called ‘universal’. I am now introducing a new term. So far I have spoken only one, which is complex; one that is two that is Purusha and Prakriti, or Ishwara or Shakti, or ardhanārīśvara, in images, to indicate that there is a reality which is complex and there is an inherent duality in it, duality which is more than duality, a duality which is in itself an identity. Now, I am introducing a new term: the term ‘universal’. ‘Universal’ is also a shape, a formation. The Supreme in Himself is more than the ‘universal’. When we speak of Purushottama, we speak of Him as ‘Transcendental’. ‘Transcendental’ means that which is more than ‘cosmos’, more than ‘universal’; it transcends the universe. Therefore it is Purushottama, supra-cosmic. Cosmic is only a ‘term’: term means that which is a terminal, ‘boundary’. So, universal is a term, it is a very peculiar term. Again, there is a contradiction when you use a term to describe it, but there is no other way of describing it. It is ‘boundless finite’: universal is ‘boundless finite’. This is the term that we can use for the universal.

Why is it ‘boundless’? It is boundless because there is no end of the universe. Today we speak of the ‘expanding universe’; this is the new concept of physics: ‘expanding universe’. The universe is constantly expanding. Where? In what? These are the mysterious questions which physics is not able to answer. If it is expanding, it should be expanding somewhere. But Indian thought had already a concept that the ‘universe’ is ‘by-itself’…its very nature is ‘boundless finite’: it is a finite which is constantly expanding. There is no end of it, it is called anādi ananta. These two terms which are used very often in our Indian thought: the universe is anādi, and ananta. It has no beginning and no end. Therefore it is boundless, and yet at any given moment there is a boundary. It expands only when there is a boundary otherwise how can it expand? Expansion means that there is a boundary which is not expanding. So the only way by which the universe can be described is that it is ‘boundless finite’.

Now, in this boundless finite, there are millions of finites, each one having a boundary all around. Universe by itself has no boundary; it has a boundary which is constantly expanding. But in this boundless finite, there are millions of finite boundaries; so many bounded things which are called ‘forms’.

The universe is nothing but a huge manifestation of force, of Tapas, in which millions and billions of forms are released as it were, and they go forth. This is what is called in Sanskrit nāma rūpa. Millions and billions of nāma rūpa, everything having a name and everything having a rūpa, a form, are released. Now, in this manifestation, apart of nāma rūpa, this Tapas is also capable of forming something very peculiar. That peculiar manifestation is called Jiva, ‘the individual’. There is a difference between ‘particular’ and ‘individual’.

?Long question?

That’s right. That is the same reality. Yes that’s true, that is quite true. All metaphysics, which is very difficult, is expounded in our poems of India in a very simple manner, like familiar songs; so many great things are told in a very simple way; but metaphysically they seem to be very difficult, and we are now doing some metaphysics.

So…but we have to make it very clear; so there are formations, which you can call particular formations.


We shall come to that because then I have to explain what is ‘Mundaka Upanishad’. It will be a real digression, but we shall come to it if you want, Mundaka Upanishad some day.

?Question about ‘universal and individual’?

Yes, that’s right, it is brought out quite clear, but we shall come to it.

So, there is a formation which is ‘universal’; there is a formation which is ‘particular’; and there is a formation which you can call ‘individual’. Now ‘individual’ formation is a very peculiar kind of a formation: that is neither a ‘universal’ formation nor a ‘particular’ formation: it is a category by itself. And that is very important for us because each one of us is ‘that’. Most intimate to us is our own individuality; and what we are, can be understood best only when you understand this formation called ‘individual’. Since each one of us is that ‘individual’, for us the most intimate knowledge that we require is that ‘individual’.

‘Particulars’ are those formations which can be broken: you make an image out of clay and you can break it; you make another image out of the same clay: these are all ‘particulars’. Secondly each one of them has a limit, beginning and an end. The ‘universal’ is also a formation, but it has no beginning and no end; it is a different kind of formation.

Now, the ‘individual’ is a ‘finite’ whose ‘centre’ can be determined, but whose ‘circumference’ is everywhere. It is a very peculiar kind of individual formation. You know normally there is a circle form; a circle form has a centre (every circle has centre) and that centre, around it, there is at equidistance a kind of a circle which has a limitation. Now, the ‘individual’ is a centre, but whose circumference is not limited, whose circumference can always be expanded. Such is the nature of the ‘individual’. It is different from the universal, but without the universal formation, this individual formation cannot come into existence.

Therefore Bhagavad Gita says: parā prakṛti. Para Prakriti is the ‘universal’ formation. You might even say that Para Prakriti is the real cause of the universal formation out of which jīvabhūta, “parā prakṛtir jīvabhūtā”, it is that which becomes Jiva. And yet various particular forms can be opened and can be broken, can be formed and can be broken. This ‘individual’ is not of that nature; this individual is eternal: that is the Supreme Himself ‘is’ the individual. Just as when we say that the Supreme is ‘transcendental’ and yet ‘universal’, similarly it can be said the Supreme is at once ‘transcendental’, ‘universal’, and ‘individual’. Such is the nature of the individual. The Supreme Himself ‘is’ the individual.

In other words Supreme Himself can take the position in the dynamic formations where He can be a ‘centre’ and therefore ‘finite’ and yet capable of becoming ‘universal’. That is the reason why the ‘individual’ can become as vast as the universe. When we tell anybody: “Do not become narrow, become universal, be one with whole humanity”. How can you become one with humanity if by the very nature you are limited to its finitude? But that is not so, the individual is by itself of such a nature, such a finite that the circle of it can always expand to the whole universe. And it is such a finite that the depth of the circle, if you go into the depth of the circle, it can unite with the transcendental, so it becomes one with the transcendental. Such is the peculiar nature of this formation, and the Divine is capable of this kind of formation also, very surprising but such is the formation. We are only describing the nature of it.

Is it the virāṭ svarūpa?

No, *virāṭ svarūpa is the universal, but this is the individual; you and me all of us are individuals: Jiva.

*It can unite with the transcendental but never become the transcendental.

In unity there are two terms: unity in the dynamic, and unity in the static, because reality is both static and dynamic. Since an individual is nothing but the Supreme, it also has both static and dynamic aspects. In the dynamic aspect, it always remains united but not become one; but in the static aspect, it attains complete identity.

What are the means of becoming infinite; the individual becoming infinite?

This is the big process of Yoga. I will come to that later on, because we are at present concentrating now upon one question: how the Supreme which is self-luminous, how in that supreme luminosity, the phenomenon of ignorance has arisen? This is the question we are dealing with. Your question is: how can ignorance ultimately become luminous again? So, that will be another process; so, we shall come to that a little later. We are at present considering the process by which ignorance arises. At present still ignorance has not come about. All this is still a process of formations.

This first formation which is ‘universal’ and in which ‘individual’ has formed in this peculiar way, is what is called “supramental manifestation”. The first step of this manifestation is called ‘supramental step’, in which there is no ignorance anywhere at all. And this is what the Rig-Veda says: ṛtaṁ ca satyaṁ. In the first manifestation there is nothing but ṛtaṁ ca satyaṁ, only satya and ṛta. As a result of Tapas, what has first come out is only this. In this entire realm, all formations which are particular, in all formations which are infinite, the universal, in all formations which are individuals, there is nothing but the vibration of the sat, one sat is all manifestation of the Light. And ṛtaṁ: ṛtaṁ means not only Truth but the Right; there is not only Light but also the Right. Everything is in the right place. Here there is no error; there is no mistaking, no misplacement, no illusion, no delusion of any kind. Now, ‘this’ is the first ṛtaṁ ca satyaṁ. Without this you cannot explain the origin of ignorance, if you don’t grant this basis.

Ignorance can arise only as a subordinate movement of ‘this’. Ignorance is not ‘original power’: original power is Para Prakriti. It is not as if the Divine’s power is ignorant. Sometimes it is argued that ignorance is original: it is anadi and ananta. It is argued that the whole world is a manifestation of ajñāna; that if you come out of ajñāna, the world vanishes. But this is not what the Gita says; this is not what the Veda says. The Veda says: the first manifestation is ṛtaṁ ca satyaṁ, not ignorance! This is very clear, the Vedic teaching is: the first manifestation is “Truth and Right, and Light”. Ignorance is afterwards: tato rātryajāyata. Ignorance is not original. This is the Vedic teaching: tato rātri-ajā*...: ‘Thereafter comes the ignorance’.

Now, we are in search of the “Golden Lid”: this is the supreme face of the Divine: satyasya mukham. What is satyasya mukham? mukham is a form. What is that form? A form which is ‘universal’, the form in which there are billions of forms, particulars, and a form in which the individualities have been formed, which are all centres without any circumference: this is a satyasya mukham. This is where thousands of lights, raśmi(s), the rays of Light are all united together, so there is perfect perfection.

Now, there happened something as a result of which the ‘Golden Lid’ is created. And your question was: how did this come about? What is the origin of it? The answer is: ‘Tapas’. Tapas brought out all this. Tapas is the capacity of formation. It can formulate. But it can formulate this, what is called the ‘Golden Lid’ only when the complete face of the Truth is already manifested; without it, even this Golden Lid cannot come; it is a subordinate movement. And how does this movement arise? Now for that purpose Sri Aurobindo explains that we have to realise that the individual plays the capital role by the help of Tapas. The individual, each individual is nothing but the Supreme Himself looking at Himself from a specific point of view. When we say that an individual is a centre, what does it mean? It only means that there is a very specific point of view: the Supreme looking at all these things, looking at His own supreme Light, supreme face, kalyāṇatamaṁ rūpam, the supreme most auspicious form.

The Divine is capable of looking at this form from millions of points of view; each point of view is a centre. Now, each one of them is what is called Jiva. Jiva is nothing but the individuation which can look at the Supreme, at the Universal from millions point of view, and each point of view is what is called Jiva. Each one of us is a position in this totality and from that point of view, you look at the whole. It is like having a totality which has walls, which has so many mirrors, and then you look at each mirror; each mirror gives a view of the whole. But what is the difference between this mirror and the other mirror? His position…from which position it mirrors the whole.

Each one of us is actually nothing but a centre of looking at the whole from one specific point of view. But since we are also one with the Supreme, we can look at the whole from all points of view. We have a specific point of view; we can also become the Universal; we can also look at the whole world from other points of view also. Therefore, this individual does not have the limitation that we as individuals have now. The original individual in us is capable of universalising automatically, and is capable of looking at the whole from a specific point of view, and also capable of viewing the whole universe, and the Divine, everything, from any other point of view, from all points of view. It has no limitation. Therefore it is a centre without circumference; it has no limitation; it can go anywhere; it can make anywhere its own centre.

Deepti can look at me from her point of view, but she can also look at herself from my point of view. That is why our ordinary limitation is not present in the true individuality. In our present condition, when I am ‘I’, I cannot identify with yourself and look at me from your point of view: that is because of ignorance. But in the original condition there is no ignorance.

This is poetically described and mystically described in the rāsa of Sri Krishna: every Gopi has Sri Krishna with Him, and the whole of Sri Krishna, not a part of Sri Krishna, the whole of Sri Krishna. Therefore no Gopi is jealous of the other, saying ‘you have more of Sri Krishna and I have less of Krishna’, and every Gopi when she moves, she gets a different experience of Sri Krishna. Whatever experience she wants, she can have; she can take any position with Sri Krishna and can have any experience as she has. She can have specific Love for Sri Krishna; she can have universal Love for Sri Krishna; she can have any specific multiplicity of Love forms of Sri Krishna, whatever she wants. Such is the condition in the original satyasya mukham, there is no golden lid at all.


That’s right.

Now, this Jiva is, you might say, its fundamental functioning, in its dynamic movement, is that of ‘play’. Jiva is in essence identical with the Supreme. In its dynamism, it is a portion of the Divine, therefore mamaivāṁśaḥ, one centre of the Divine, a centre which is so peculiar that it can become universal; it can become specific; it can interchange with other specificities: such is the nature of this individual. And that being so, this individual is capable of a play: play with the Supreme as His portion; play with the Universal; play with other individuals; and play with so many multiple forms. This is the nature of the individual. What is the individual really doing, that each individual is nothing but a centre of movement, having its own specific standpoint which is called svabhāva: svabhāva, is nothing but a ‘specific standpoint’ of that centre which is peculiar to it, but which is interchangeable with anybody. Therefore at the highest level, even svabhāva is not something that limits that individual; it is only a specific standpoint it takes for the sake of the play. If it wants another play it can take another; therefore even svabhāva is not a limited concept.

Now, that which is the essential principle of its movement, its specific point of view, from there arises its act of play: that is called karma. From the specific movement of svabhāva, the act of play is karma. In Gujarat, we have the concept of ‘Gandiaras’ where you play with Sri Krishna with sticks. Now, these sticks are put forward in a rhythmic manner: each rhythm may be called a ‘Karma’, the specific way you play. And you play with what? You play with the whole universe, you play with other Gopis, you play with Sri Krishna, anyway you like, and everyone of them is an ??? is Karma. In this play there is the possibility of one subordinate play.

Now, we come to the precision point where exactly ignorance starts. In the act of play there are three things: the player, that with which you play, and the act of play. The three things are involved. Now, in the play, you can play leisurely, very slowly, or you can play very fast if you like or any other rhythm you like, many ways of your play. In the play you can remain very far from the object with which you are playing, or you can come very near the object of your play, that also is possible, no restriction.

Now, you can also have such a movement, that you can come absolutely close to the object of the play. You can have only hastamilana, from far you can shake with the object of your play; or you can have even āliṅgana, you can have even embrace with the object of play.

Now, in that play the Jiva can decide what kind of play it wants: Jiva itself means the Supreme can decide through the Jiva, because Jiva is nothing but the centre of the supreme Divine Himself. He can decide to enter into a play in which He can identify Himself with the object. Now, the Divine Himself can do this ‘only through the individual’: this is the important point. This āliṅgana, this complete embrace with the object, it is only through the individual this experience can be obtained, because the Divine being universal and everywhere, identification with only one, can be possible only through that individual centre.

Now, suppose that this particular individual, of many individuals who are playing, all of them decide to embrace the play, the object of the play. Supposing they decide that now we shall identify ourselves, or embrace the object of play, that ‘a new kind of play’ will start: it is not the same kind of play which you can have only with shaking hands. It is a different kind of rhythm, a different kind of play will come about as a result of embrace; new kind of joy, new kind of experience. Now, in that experience you can so concentrate upon the object of the play that you not only embrace, but you feel identified with it. Now, in this process of identification, something can happen, not necessarily, but optionally: you can identify with the object knowing very well that you are identifying yourself with the object; but you can also, if you so wish, in order to enjoy the complete identity, you might even decide to forget that you are different from the object, this is a play, but it is a possibility. It is possible by force of Tapas; Tapas is only concentration, force of concentration. By force of concentration…..

You can, by force of identity, you can so identify yourself with the object of the play that for a moment you are so much engaged in the identity that you forget yourself by force of Tapas. You concentrate upon the object so much that you become completely identified with the object. Of course the next moment you can again recover and you know that it is you who is identified with it. But this power exists: this is the power of Tapas.

This is what happens even in our experiment of drama. You take the role of Portia in The Merchant of Venice and you act as a judge. When Bassanio comes and Antonio comes, Shylock is before you and you identify yourself with Portia so much that for a moment you forget that you are X, or Y, or Z. You are no more Deepti acting as Portia: it is Portia herself. Afterwards again you come back and say ‘Well, I acted as Portia’, but it is a force of concentration by which you forget: in fact it is by forgetting that you really become a good actress; so long as you remember that you are X, or Y, or Z, acting does not become so powerful.

So, this power of forgetting is a power of knowledge, power of activity, power of identity, power of experience, of a tremendous identity. So, if you really want to be very powerfully experiencing your object, you deliberately act in such a way that you forget. This act of forgetting is actually the fact of ignoring; you ignore that you are X, or Y, or Z and you stretch yourself towards the object of the play and identify with the object of the play (for the time being): this ‘ignoring’ is an act of ignorance. You ignore what you are and you identify with the object of the play, these two things happening simultaneously is the origin of ignorance.

Comment: Now it is very clear thatIgnorance’ came from Tapas.

Tapas, correct.

This is the origin of ignorance: the act of forgetting and the act of identifying yourself with the object of the play for the time being; but ‘for the time being’ may be quite long. We are all in that long process. Our true individual which is capable of all that I have told you, of universality, of playing with the Supreme, of identifying completely with the supreme Silence and with hundreds and multiple forms, instead of doing all this, one of the play was ‘this’, a possibility, and we decided to enter into it, saying: “let us experience this identity, let me embrace the object of the play so much that I forget myself, I enter into it and then see what happens”. So, tato rātryajāyata, ‘then arose Ignorance’.

And then what happens? If you go on identifying fully, and fully, and more fully, a stage comes when you forget totally everything, even that you identify, even that is gone. There is only embrace, but not even the knowledge that there is an embrace because even that knowledge does not give you that fullness of joy of that identity. There is so much of an embrace with the object of the play; that is the tataḥ samudro araṇavaḥ, complete darkness; there is only the experience of identity. There is not even awareness that there is an experience.


That is the opposite side, it is the opposite side.

This is misdirected Tapas, we have to redirect it

You can call it ‘misdirect it’; it is only…an essay, experiencing what happens: “suppose you do ‘this’ what happens”. All of us having reached that point are reversing from that: we have reached half the way now. Our present condition is one in which we have reached the half; but we are still not become aware that we had already plunged into this embrace. We are already in the state of an embrace; then we have to gradually become aware, that is why ‘Yoga’ is called ‘a process of reversal’. We ‘reverse’, realise what we are within: detach yourself.

I said earlier that Bhagavad Gita does not give you the answer as to what is the origin of ignorance; it is not entirely true. Sri Krishna says: all this happens because of jiva(‘s) āsakti. The answer is given: “jiva(‘s) āsakti”; āsakti means what? We call it merely ‘attachment’, but it is not really attachment: the experience of ‘identifying with the object of the play’ is “āsakti”;“anāsakti” is what? Withdrawing of that experience of identity: it is anāsakti. So, the cause of ignorance is āsakti, therefore the cause of the liberation from the ignorance is anāsakti. Then the whole process of Yoga becomes so easy and so simple. Why do we need to meditate, why do we need to go inward? And why do we discover when we go inward? Because within there is already so much play going on, if it was not going on, we would not find anything inside: we would find only blankness inside. But when we go inward, why do we discover that we discover the Divine’s play inside? Because it is already taking place: it is there. It is our identification, our ignorance, we are ignoring it; therefore, we are not aware that we are already dancing with Sri Krishna: but this dance is constantly going on, it has not stopped. Only in one portion of our being this has happened.

I think we will stop here today.

It was āsakti to the Supreme; it was āsakti in this form who was leading to Ignorance.

This also is ignorance. When you have complete āsakti with the Divine, this is also ignoring. So, that is why those who are absorbed entirely in the ‘immobility’ is also called ‘ignorance’. That is why the Isha Upanishad says that “Those who go only to knowledge, they enter into a greater darkness” (Isha U. 9). The real fullness, the plenitude is: jñāna vijñāna, both you combine together and then you have the full play: you can experience the Divine’s identity; you can experience the dependence on the Divine; you can experience your universality; you can experience your specificity; you can experience any other interchange with any other specificity, and multiple interchanges. That is the fullness and richness: that is the Gnostic life. We return to that actually.

But the process, while we are going through the process, each attachment to the Divine at the time when we are completely immersed in that and you cannot feel it and ?unclear question?

No, but the Divine Himself is moving in the universal, so you are where the Divine is; so you also come to the Universal, you are completely one with the Divine, so how can you do something else? If Divine is in the Universe, and He is the Universe, so you are also in the Universe: wherever the Divine is, then you are there.

But this āsakti and anāsakti are completely different from the ??? of Duryodhana.

No, that is also identity. Basically, psychologically, it is the same: āsakti is nothing but ‘process of identification’. There can be degrees of this identity but fundamentally psychology is the same. Even Dhritharashtra can come out of this āsakti when he withdraws from it. It may take many, many births for doing so, but it is possible.

So Arjuna’s āsakti with Krishna is also the same?

You can say āsakti by itself is not wrong, it is not bad: it is ‘exclusive identity’ that is the cause of ignorance. You can have āsakti, you can identify with the Supreme: at the same time you can identify with ‘all the forms’ of the Divine. If in that case you have identified with ‘all aspects’ of the Divine, it is called: ‘integral concentration’. Ignorance is called: ‘exclusive concentration’ in which all the rest is excluded. But when you concentrate upon the Divine, since the Divine is all, it cannot be ‘exclusive concentration’: you are already concentrated with everybody; so āsakti with Sri Krishna is the best, because then you can have integral concentration and identification, everything. This is where we are going towards. Instead of exclusive concentration of consciousness, we reverse it.