Sri Aurobindo and Integral Yoga - Sri Aurobindo

Sri Aurobindo

Sri Aurobindo

SRI AUROBINDO was born on 15 August 1872 at Calcutta. At an early age of seven, he was taken along with his elder brothers to England for education, since his father wanted him to have no Indian influence in the shaping of his outlook and personality. And yet, even though Sri Aurobindo assimilated in himself richly the best of the European culture, he returned to India in 1893 with a burning aspiration to work for the liberation of India from the foreign rule. While in England, Sri Aurobindo passed the ICS examination, and yet he felt no call for it, and so he got himself disqualified by remaining absent from the riding test. The Gaekwar of Baroda happened to be there at that time, and Sri Aurobindo accepted the proposal to be his personal secretary, and returned to India.

Soon thereafter, however, Sri Aurobindo switched over to the Baroda College as Professor of French and then of English, and when in 1905, he left for Bengal, he was the acting Principal of the College. It was during the Baroda period that he assimilated in himself the spirit and culture of India and prepared himself for his future political and spiritual work. Indeed, his political work had already begun in Baroda, but it was behind the scenes, largely of the nature of a preparation for an armed revolution for the liberation of India.

Sri Aurobindo was the first among the Indian leaders to declare and work for the aim of complete independence of India. In 1905, when Bengal was divided, he left Baroda and invited by the nationalist leaders he joined at Calcutta the newly started National College as its first Principal. It was here that he, while working secretly for the revolution, chalked

Sri Aurobindo

Sri Aurobindo

out also a plan of outer action. This plan consisted of the programme of Passive Resistance, Boycott and Swadeshi, which was later adopted as the policy of the struggle for freedom. It was here again that he wrote powerfully and boldly for Bande Mataram, and later for Karma Yogin, and electrified the nation and surcharged the people with a new energy which ultimately led the nation to her freedom. It was .therefore significant that when India attained her liberation in 1947, it was on 15 August, the birthday of Sri Aurobindo.

The pioneering work that Sri Aurobindo did for the liberation of India was evidently a part of his larger work for the entire humanity and indeed for the whole earth. For him, the liberation of India was an indispensable part of the new world- order. Moreover, the practice of Yoga, which he had started in 1902, led him, even while in the thick of intense political and literary activity, to major realisations of the Bramhic Silence, Nirvana and also of the universal dynamic presence of the Divine. And, in 1908, when he was in Alipore jail during his trial under the charge of sedition, he received through numerous experiences and realisations the assurance of the liberation of the country and also the knowledge of the initial lines on which his own future work was to proceed. For he saw that even in the field of Yoga something was still lacking, something radical that alone would resolve the problems of the world and would lead mankind to its next evolutionary stage. And so, in 1910, soon after his acquittal from the jail, he withdrew to Pondicherry to concentrate upon this new research work, to hew a new path. It has been a most dynamic work with the entire earth as its central field. It was in the course of this work that Sri Aurobindo declared that the Supramental is the Truth and that its advent on the earth is inevitable. To bring down the Supramental consciousness and power on the earth has been the central work of Sri Aurobindo.

Sri Aurobindo has explained the nature of this work, the nature of the Supermind, the necessity of its descent, the process of this descent and the dynamic consequences of this

Sri Aurobindo

Sri Aurobindo

descent for the solution of the problems of mankind, in his voluminous writings most of which were written serially in the philosophical monthly, Arya, which was started in 1914, immediately after the first arrival of The Mother from France to Pondicherry. Some of the most important of these and other writings are: The Life Divine, The Synthesis of Yoga, The Ideal of Human Unity, The Human Cycle, The Foundations of Indian Culture, Essays on the Gita, On the Veda, The Upanishads, The Future Poetry, The Supramental Manifestation on the Earth, and the epic Savitri.

It is well known that Sri Aurobindo had a thorough western education, and he had a period of agnostic denial. But from the moment he looked at yogic phenomena, he could never take the attitude of doubt and disbelief which was for so long fashionable in Europe. Abnormal, otherwise supraphysical experiences and powers, occult or yogic, always seemed to him something perfectly natural and credible.

It was after a long stay in India at Baroda, that Sri Aurobindo turned decisively to Yoga in 1904. He had, however, a few spiritual experiences even in his pre-yogic period. The first was in London in 1892, the year of his departure from England. The next experience was when he set foot on Indian soil at Apollo Bunder, Bombay, on his return from England. A vast calm descended upon him and surrounded him and stayed with him for months afterwards.

Then, in the first year of his stay in Baroda in 1893, an experience came to him at the moment when there threatened to be an accident to his carriage. He has described this experience later on in the poem, 'The Godhead ¹.

'I sat behind the dance of Danger's hooves

In the shouting street that seemed a futurist's whim,

And suddenly felt, exceeding Nature's grooves,

In me, enslaving me the body of Him.

Above my head a mighty head was seen,

A face with the calm of immortality

Sri Aurobindo

Sri Aurobindo

And an omnipotent gaze that held the scene

In the vast circle of its sovereignty.

His hair was mingled with the sun and breeze;

The world was in His heart and He was I:

I housed in me the Everlasting's peace,

The strength of One whose substance cannot die.

The moment passed and all was as before;

Only that deathless memory I bore.

Here is a description of a vision of Sri Aurobindo. 'Once when Sri Aurobindo was on a visit to Chanded he went to one of the temples of Kali on the bank of the Narmada. He went there because of the company. He never had felt attracted to image worship if anything, till then he was averse to it. Now when he went to the temple he found a presence in the image. He got a direct proof of the truth that can be behind image-worship.

Sri Aurobindo in one of his letters, written much later, seems to be referring to this experience in the following words:

'Or, you stand before a temple of Kali beside a sacred river and see what? — a sculpture, a gracious piece of architecture, but in a moment mysteriously, unexpectedly there is instead a Presence, a Power, a Face that looks into yours, an inner sight in you has regarded the World-Mother'.¹

He has described this experience in the poem, 'The Stone Goddess'.²

'In a town of gods, housed in a little shrine,

From sculptured limbs the Godhead looked at me,-

A living Presence deathless and divine,

A Form that harboured all Infinity.

The great World-Mother and her mighty will

Inhabited the earth's abysmal sleep,

Voiceless, omnipotent, inscrutable,

Mute in the desert and the sky and deep.

Sri Aurobindo

Sri Aurobindo

Now veiled with mind she dwells and speaks no word

Voiceless, inscrutable, omniscient,

Hiding until our soul has been, has heard

The secret other strange embodiment,

One in the worshipper and the immobile shape,

A beauty and mystery flesh or stone can drape.'

In 1901, Sri Aurobindo witnessed some occult phenomena during his younger brother Barin's experiments with the planchette. There were also some experiments of automatic writing. A direct proof of the power of Yoga came to him when a Naga sadhu cured Barin of mountain fever by mantra. The sadhu took a glass full of water and cut the water crosswise with a knife while repeating the mantra. He then told Barin to drink it saying he would not have the fever the next day. And the fever left him.

In April 1903, Sri Aurobindo was on a tour of Kashmir and he visited the hill of Shankaracharya (also known as the Takhti-Suleman-Seat of Solomon), and experienced the vacant Infinite in a very tangible way. He has described this experience in his poem, 'Adwaita'.³

'I walked on the high-wayed Seat of Solomon

Where Shankaracharya's tiny temple stands

Facing Infinity from Time's edge, alone

On the bare ridge ending earth's vain romance.

Around me was a formless solitude;

All had become one strange unnamable,

An unborn sole Reality world-nude,

Topless and fathomless, for ever still.

A Silence that was Being's only word,

The unknown beginning and the voiceless end

Abolishing all things moment-seen or heard,

On an incommunicable summit reigned.

A lonely Calm and void unchanging Peace

On the dumb crest of Nature's mysteries.'

Sri Aurobindo

Sri Aurobindo

In 1904, Sri Aurobindo began practising Yoga on his own account, starting with prānāyāma, as explained to him by a friend, a disciple of Brahmananda. The purpose of this yogic practice was to find the spiritual strength which would support him and enlighten his way.

Explaining the results of this practice, Sri Aurobindo has written: 'What I did was four or five hours a day pranayama.. .. The flow of poetry came down while I was doing prānāyāma, not some years afterwards. If it is the flow of experiences, that did come after some years, but after I had stopped the prānāyāma for a long time and was doing nothing and did not know what to do or where to turn once all my efforts had failed.'4

'After four years of prānāyāma and other practices on my own, with no other result than an increased health and outflow of energy, some psycho-physical phenomena, a great outflow of poetic creation, a limited power of subtle sight (luminous patterns and figures, etc.) mostly with the waking eye, I had a complete arrest and was at a loss.'5

In another letter, Sri Aurobindo has explained an interesting aspect of the subtle sight experiences. 'I remember when I first began to see inwardly (and outwardly also with the open eye), a scientific friend of mine began to talk of after E-Library/-03 Disciples/Kireet Joshi/-01 English/Sri Aurobindo and Integral Yoga/-images "these are only after E-Library/-03 Disciples/Kireet Joshi/-01 English/Sri Aurobindo and Integral Yoga/-images", I asked him whether after E-Library/-03 Disciples/Kireet Joshi/-01 English/Sri Aurobindo and Integral Yoga/-images remained before the eye for two minutes at a time he said, "no", to his knowledge only for a few seconds; I also asked him whether one could get after E-Library/-03 Disciples/Kireet Joshi/-01 English/Sri Aurobindo and Integral Yoga/-images of things not around one or even not existing upon this earth, since they had other shapes, another character, other hues, contours and a very different dynamism, life-movements and values he could not reply in the affirmative. That is how these so-called scientific explanations break down as soon as you pull them out of their cloudland of mental theory and face them with the actual phenomena they pretend to decipher.'6

The first decisive turn and experience came to Sri Aurobindo in 1907, when he was groping for a way. At this juncture he was induced to meet a Maharashtrian Yogi, Lele, who showed him

Sri Aurobindo

Sri Aurobindo

the way to silence the mind. Through meditation with him at Baroda, Sri Aurobindo attained complete silence of thought and feeling and freedom from all the ordinary movements of consciousness just within three days.

Describing this meditation and experience, Sri Aurobindo wrote in one of his letters: 'It was my great debt to Lele that he showed me this. "Sit in meditation", he said, "but do not think, look only at your mind, you will see thoughts coming into it; before they can enter throw these away from your mind till your mind is capable of entire silence." I had never heard before of thoughts coming visibly into the mind from outside, but I did not think either of questioning the truth or the possibility; I simply sat down and did it. In a moment my mind became silent as a windless air on a high mountain summit and then I saw one thought and then another coming in a concrete way from outside; I flung them away before they could enter and take hold of the brain and in three days I was free. From that moment, in principle, the mental being in me became a free Intelligence, a universal Mind, not limited to the narrow circle of personal thought as a labourer in a thought factory, but a receiver of knowledge from all the hundred realms of being and free to choose what it willed in this vast sight-empire and thought empire.'7

Elaborating upon the same experience in another letter, Sri Aurobindo wrote: 'There was an entire silence of thought and feeling and all the ordinary movements of consciousness except the perception and recognition of things around without any accompanying concept or other reaction. The sense of ego disappeared and the movements of the ordinary life as well as speech and action were carried on by some habitual activity of Prakriti alone which was not felt as belonging to oneself. But the perception which remained saw all things as utterly unreal; this sense of unreality was overwhelming and universal. Only some underfinable Reality was perceived as true which was beyond space and time and unconnected with any cosmic activity, but yet was met wherever one turned. This condition remained

Sri Aurobindo

Sri Aurobindo

unimpaired for several months and even when the sense of unreality disappeared and there was a return to participation in the world-consciousness, the inner peace and freedom which resulted from this realisation remained permanently behind all surface movements and the essence of the realisation itself was not lost.'8

In his poem, 'Nirvana', 9 we have vivid description of this experience.

'All is abolished but the mute Alone.

The mind from thought released, the heart from grief

Grow inexistent now beyond belief;

There is no I, no Nature, known — unknown.

The city, a shadow picture without tone,

Floats, quivers unreal; forms without relief

Flow, a cinema's vacant shapes; like a reef

Foundering in shoreless gulfs the world is done.

Only the illimitable Permanent

Is here. A Peace stupendous, featureless, still,

Replaces all, — what once was I, in It

A silent unnamed emptiness content

Either to fade in the Unknowable

Or thrill with the Luminous seas of the Infinite.'

This experience and realisation of the utter reality of the Brahman and the unreality of the world is a recognised culmination of the classical path of Knowledge and Adwaitic Mayavada. For Sri Aurobindo, however, this turned out to be only one of the foundational experiences, and a series of spiritual experiences and realisations that followed led him to a new exploration and a new discovery. This is how he explained in one of his letters:

'Now to reach Nirvana was the first radical result of my own Yoga. It threw me suddenly into a condition above and without thought, unstained by any mental or vital movement; there was no ego, no real world — only when one looked through the

Sri Aurobindo

Sri Aurobindo

immobile senses, something perceived or bore upon its sheer silence a world of empty forms, materialised shadows without> true substance. There was no one or many even, only just absolutely That, featureless, relationless, sheer indescribable, unthinkable, absolute, yet supremely real and solely real. ... I lived in that Nirvana day and night before it began to admit other things into itself or modify itself at all, and the inner heart of experience, a constant memory of it and its power to return remained until in the end it began to disappear into a greater Superconsciousness from above. But meanwhile realisation added itself to realisation and fused itself with this original experience. At an early stage the aspect of an illusionary world gave place to one in which illusion10 is only a small surface phenomenon with an immense Divine Reality behind it and a supreme Divine Reality above it and an intense Divine Reality in the heart of everything that had seemed at first only a cinematic shape or shadow. And this was no reimprisonment in the senses, no diminution or fall from supreme experience, it came rather as a constant heightening and widening of the Truth, it was the spirit that saw objects, not the senses, and the Peace, the Silence, the freedom in Infinity remained always with the world or all worlds only as a continuous incident in the timeless eternity of the Divine.

'Now, that is the whole trouble in my approach to Mayavada. Nirvana in my liberated consciousness turned out to be the beginning of my realisation, a first step towards the complete thing, not the sole true attainment possible or even a culminating finale.'¹¹

Of the next major realisation we learn from Sri Aurobindo's Uttarpara Speech in which he has given a soul-stirring description of the experiences he had in the Alipore jail in which he was detained in May 1908 under a charge of sedition until May 1909 when he was acquitted. In the jail Sri Aurobindo spent almost all his time in reading the Gita and the Upanishads and in intensive meditation and practice of Yoga. It was here that the

Sri Aurobindo

Sri Aurobindo

realisation which had continually been increasing in magnitude and universality and assuming a large place took him up entirely and his work became a part and result of it and besides far exceeded the service and liberation of the country and fixed itself in an aim, previously only glimpsed, which was world-wide in its bearing and concerned the whole future of humanity.

The major realisation that he had here was that of the Universal Presence of the Divine. As he says:

'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 Sri Krishna 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 Sri Krishna around me, the arms of my Friend 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. . . .

'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 I saw; it was Sri Krishna who sat there, it was my Lover and Friend who sat there and smiled.'12

The following two interesting experiences in the Alipore jail may be noted:

'I... knew something about sculpture,' wrote Sri Aurobindo in one of his letters, 'but (I was) blind to painting. Suddenly one day in the Alipore jail while meditating I saw some pictures on the walls of the cell and lo and behold the artistic eye in me

Sri Aurobindo

Sri Aurobindo

opened and I knew all about painting except of course the more material side of the technique. I don't always know how to express though, because I lack the knowledge of the proper expressions, but that does not stand in the way of a keen and understanding appreciation."13

His other experience, that of Levitation, he has described as follows:

'I was ... having a very intense sadhana on the vital plane and I was concentrated. And I had a questioning mind: "Are such siddhis as utthapana (levitation) possible?" I then suddenly found myself raised up in such a way that I could not have done it myself with muscular exertion. Only one part of the body was slightly in contact with the ground and the rest was raised up against the wall. I could not have held my body like that normally even if I had wanted to and I found that the body remained suspended like that without any exertion on my part.'14

While in the Alipore jail, Sri Aurobindo was also on his way in his meditations to two other realisations: that of the Supreme Reality with the static and dynamic Brahman as its two aspects, and that of the higher planes of consciousness above the Mind leading up to the Supermind.

It is a fact that Sri Aurobindo received help from Swami Vivekananda in regard to a transition to some of the planes of consciousness above the Mind. In the words of Sri Aurobindo: 'It is a fact that I was hearing constantly the voice of Vivekananda speaking to me for a fortnight in the jail in my solitary meditation and felt his presence. . . . The voice spoke only on a special and limited but very important field of spiritual experience and it ceased as soon as it finished saying all that it had to say on the subject.'15

It was again in the Alipore jail that Sri Aurobindo received the messages from Sri Krishna which opened up before him a passage to a new work. And it was in this direction that he was moving after his release from the jail in May 1909 when he

Sri Aurobindo

Sri Aurobindo

got the Divine ādeśa in early 1910 to go to Chandernagore, and later another ādeśa to go to Pondicherry where he reached on 4 April 1910.

What was the nature of the new work can be glimpsed from a letter that Sri Aurobindo wrote in 1910:

'I need some place of refuge in which I can complete my Yoga unassailed and build up other souls around me. It seems to me that Pondicherry is that place appointed by those who are Beyond, but you know how much effort is needed to establish the thing that is purposed upon the material plane.'

'What I perceive most clearly, is that the principal object of my Yoga is to remove absolutely and entirely every possible source of error and ineffectiveness, of error in order that the Truth I shall eventually show to men may be perfect, and of ineffectiveness in order that the work of changing the world, so far as I have to assist it, may be entirely victorious and irresistible. It is for this reason that I have been going through so long a discipline and that the more brilliant and mighty results of Yoga have been so long withheld. I have been kept busy laying down the foundation, a work severe and painful. It is only now that the edifice is beginning to rise upon the sure and perfect foundation that has been laid.'16

This was a period of intense search and exploration.

On 29 March 1914, The Mother came to Pondicherry and met Sri Aurobindo. And what she said much later about this meeting indicates what a momentous day it was. She said: 'I was in deep concentration, seeing things in the Supermind, things that were to be but which were somehow not manifesting. I told Sri Aurobindo what I had seen and asked him if they would manifest. He simply said, "Yes". And immediately I saw that the Supramental had touched the earth and was beginning to be realised: This was the first time I had witnessed the power to make real what is true.'17

In one of the letters, Sri Aurobindo has written the following:

'Mother was doing Yoga before she knew or met Sri Aurobindo;

Sri Aurobindo

Sri Aurobindo

but their lines of Sadhana independently followed the same course. When they met, they helped each other in perfecting the Sadhana. What is known as Sri Aurobindo's Yoga is the joint creation of Sri Aurobindo and the Mother. . . .'18

That the world is not an illusion, that the phenomena of ignorance, suffering and evil in the world are temporary results of the evolutionary movement of Nature in which is concealed the superconscient Light which is intended to be fully manifested, that this manifestation is dependent upon the descent of the Supermind on the earth, that this descent was thing to be achieved that had not yet been achieved, not yet clearly visualised, even though it was the natural but still secret outcome of all the past spiritual endeavour these are the chief affirmations of Sri Aurobindo based upon his abiding experiences and realisations.

Stressing the novelty of the aim and method of the supramental descent upon the earth, Sri Aurobindo has written in one of his letters: 'It is the descent of the new consciousness attained by the ascent that is the stamp and seal of the Sadhana.". . . a method has been preconized for achieving the purpose which is as total and integral as the aim set before it, viz., the total and integral change of the consciousness and nature, taking up old methods but only as a part action and present aid to others that are distinctive. I have not found this method (as a whole) or anything like it professed or realised in the old Yogas. If I had, I should not have wasted my time in hewing out a road and in thirty years of search and inner creation when I could have hastened home safely to my goal in an easy canter over paths already blazed out, laid down, perfectly mapped, macadamised, made secure and public. Our Yoga is not a retreading of old walks, but a spiritual adventure.'19

Describing the difficulties of the hewing of the new Path, Sri Aurobindo has written in one of his letters: 'As for the Mother and myself, we have had to try all ways, follow all methods, to surmount mountains of difficulties, a far heavier burden to bear

Sri Aurobindo

Sri Aurobindo

than you or anybody else in the Ashram or outside, far more difficult conditions, battles to fight, wounds to endure, ways to cleave through impenetrable morass and desert and forest, hostile masses to conquer a work such as, I am certain, none else had to do before us. For the Leader of the Way in a work like ours has not only to bring down and represent and embody the Divine, but to represent too the ascending element in humanity and to bear the burden of humanity to the full and experience, not in a mere play or Lila but in grim earnest, all the obstruction, difficulty, opposition, baffled and hampered and only slowly victorious labour which are possible on the Path.'20

The spirit in which Sri Aurobindo pursued the Path is described in a letter as follows:

'It is not for personal greatness that I am seeking to bring down the Supermind. I care nothing for greatness or littleness in the human sense. I am seeking to bring some principle of inner Truth, Light, Harmony, Peace into the earth-consciousness; I see it above and know what it is -1 feel it ever gleaming down on my consciousness from above and I am seeking to make it possible for it to take up the whole being into its own native power, instead of the nature of man continuing to remain in half-light, half-darkness. I believe the descent of this Truth opening the way to a development of divine consciousness here to be the final sense of the earth evolution. If greater men than myself have not had this vision and this ideal before them, that is no reason why I should not follow my Truth-sense and Truth vision. ... It is a question between the Divine and myself whether it is the Divine Will or not, whether I am sent to bring that down or open the way for its descent or at least make it more possible or not. Let all men jeer at me if they will or all Hell fall upon me if it will for my presumption, -1 go on till I conquer or perish. This is the spirit in which I seek the Supermind, no hunting for greatness for myself or others.'21

Thus the aim that Sri Aurobindo pursued was to transform by the descent of the supramental Light the physical life into the

Sri Aurobindo

Sri Aurobindo

life divine. Not merely the liberation of the Spirit, but also the liberation of Nature, the transmutation, radical and complete, of the Aparā Prakriti into the Parā Prakriti, of the lower Nature into the Supreme and supramental Nature, this has been the aim and also the achievement of Sri Aurobindo's Yoga.

This achievement implies what Sri Aurobindo has called the triple transformation. In the words of Sri Aurobindo:'. . . there must first be the psychic change, the conversion of our whole present nature into a soul-instrumentation; on that or along with that there must be the spiritual change, the descent of a higher Light, Knowledge, Power, Force, Bliss, Purity into the whole being, even into the lowest recesses of the life and body, even into the darkness of our subconscience; last, there must supervene the supramental transmutation, there must take place as the crowning movement the ascent into the Supermind and the transforming descent of the supramental Consciousness into our entire being and nature.'22

This would also mean a complete synthesis of divine knowledge, divine love and divine action, leading to an integral perfection of all the members, parts and planes of being the divine supermind in the divine body, a temporal sign of the spirit's victory here over Death and Matter.

It is impossible to describe or even to give a faint or distant indication of the experiences and realisations of Sri Aurobindo that he had had in the pursuit of this aim. One may only refer to his works: The Synthesis of Yoga, The Life Divine, Letters on Yoga, The Supramental Manifestation upon Earth, and Savitri.

It needs to be stressed that Sri Aurobindo's Yoga is a collective Yoga, a cosmic Yoga. And so, every movement and experience and realisation of him has a most intimate connection with the world-movements and with the human progress. Not personal salvation, but the leading of the entire humanity to the surpassing of its limitations for a collective new order and harmony and unity, to fix the supramental consciousness in the earth-consciousness, to lead the evolutionary species of man to a new species, to lead man to the divine superman,- this wide,

Sri Aurobindo

Sri Aurobindo

world-embracing and world-affirming power, compassion, action, nay, the very Divine in all its integrality embodying the human form for a new evolutionary status this has been the wonderful mystery of the realm of the presence and experience and work of Sri Aurobindo on the earth.

If Sri Aurobindo had to withdraw from the body, it was because of the world-condition. The humanity was not sufficiently receptive to the supramental light, and it was thought necessary in order to hasten the process to make the supreme sacrifice. As the Mother said: 'People do not know what a tremendous sacrifice He has made for the world. About a year ago, while I was discussing things I remarked that I felt like leaving this body of mine. He spoke out in a very firm tone, 'No, this can never he. If necessary for this transformation I might go, you will have to fulfil our Yoga of supramental descent and transformation.'

It was on 5 December 1950 at 1.26 a.m. that Sri Aurobindo left his physical body, and yet for 111 hours the body remained intact and undecomposed. As the Mother announced:

'. .. His body is surcharged with such a concentration of Supramental Light that there is no sign of decomposition and the body will be kept lying on his bed so long as it remains intact.'

In another message, the Mother said:

'When I asked him to resuscitate, he clearly answered: "I have left this body purposely. I will not take it back. I shall manifest again in the first supramental body built in the supramental way." '

In a prayer. The Mother said:

'Lord, this morning Thou hast given me the assurance that Thou wouldst stay with us until Thy work is achieved, not only as a consciousness which guides and illumines but also as a dynamic Presence in action. In unmistakable terms Thou hast promised that all of Thyself would remain here and not leave

Sri Aurobindo

Sri Aurobindo

the earth atmosphere until earth is transformed. Grant that we may be worthy of this marvellous Presence and henceforth everything in us be concentrated on the one will to be more and more perfectly consecrated to the fulfilment of Thy sublime Work.'

It was on 9 December after the Light had begun to withdraw that the body was laid in a rosewood casket and placed in the Ashram courtyard.

A few days later, in one of the conversations with a disciple, the Mother said: 'As soon as Sri Aurobindo withdrew from his body, what he had called the Mind of Light got realised here....'

'The Supermind had descended long ago very long ago into the mind and even into the vital: it was working in the physical also but indirectly through those intermediaries. The question was about the direct action of the Supermind in the physical. Sri Aurobindo said it could be possible only if the physical mind received the Supramental light; the physical mind was the instrument for direct action upon the most material. This physical mind receiving the supramental light Sri Aurobindo called the Mind of Light.'

Sri Aurobindo's withdrawal from the body has therefore been a self-chosen step to hasten the supramental descent upon the earth. And, indeed, it has been affirmed by The Mother that Sri Aurobindo has been working constantly towards this end.

And on 29 February 1956, the descent of the Supermind on the earth took place. The Mother described it as follows:

'This evening, the Divine Presence, concrete and material, was there among you. I had a form of living gold, bigger than the universe and I was facing a huge and massive golden door which separated the world from the Divine. As I looked at the door, I knew and willed, in a single moment of consciousness, that "the time has come", and lifting with hands a mighty golden hammer I struck one blow, one single blow, on the door and the

Sri Aurobindo

Sri Aurobindo

door was shattered to pieces. Then the supramental Light and Force and Consciousness rushed down upon earth in an uninterrupted flow.'

On 24 April 1956, the Mother declared:

'The manifestation of the Supramental upon earth is no more a promise but a living fact, a reality.

It is at work here, and one day will come when the most blind, the most unconscious, even the most unwilling shall be obliged to recognise it.'

It has been affirmed that the supramental force has now come to a stage of decisive action on events and people, and that it is Sri Aurobindo Himself who is in Action that is omnipotent and irresistible.

Let us conclude with the Mother's message on Sri Aurobindo:

'Sri Aurobindo does not belong to the past nor to history.

Sri Aurobindo is the Future advancing towards its realisation.

Thus we must shelter the eternal youth required for a speedy advance, in order not to become laggards on the way.'


1. Collected Poems, Centenary Library, Vol. 5, p. 138.

2. Ibid., p. 139.

3. Ibid., p. 153.

4. Sri Aurobindo on Himself, Centenary Library, Vol. 26, p. 77.

5. Ibid., pp. 78-79.

6. Ibid., p. 90.

7. Ibid., pp. 83-84.

8. Ibid., pp. 85-86.

9. Collected Poems, Centenary Library, Vol. 5, p. 161.

10. 'In fact it is not an illusion in the sense of an imposition of something baseless and unreal on the consciousness, but misinterpretation by the conscious mind and sense and a falsifying misuse of manifested existence.' (Sri Aurobindo's note).

Sri Aurobindo

Sri Aurobindo

11. Sri Aurobindo on Himself, Centenary Library, Vol. 26, pp. 101-2.

12. Uttarpara Speech, Centenary Library, Vol. 2, pp. 4-5.

13. Sri Aurobindo on Himself, Centenary Library, Vol. 26, pp. 226-27.

14. Reported by A.B. Purani in The Life of Sri Aurobindo (1964), pp. 128-29.

15. Ibid., p. 129.

16. Sri Aurobindo on Himself Centenary Library, Vol. 26, pp. 423-24.

17. Words of the Mother, third series, 1959, pp. 31-32.

18. Sri Aurobindo on Himself, Centenary Library, Vol. 26, p. 459.

19. Ibid., p. 109.

20. Ibid., p. 464.

21. Ibid., pp. 143-44.

22. The Life Divine, Centenary Library, Vol. 19, p. 891.

Sri Aurobindo

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