Two tendencies of development of Yoga
The history of yoga as developed in India brings out two tendencies in the development of yoga through the ages:
(i) Complex effort of yoga, after arriving at a synthesis, seems to break up in the development of specialised systems of yoga;
(ii) These specialised systems tend towards the development of a new synthesis.
The Vedic Samhitas
Historical documents suggest that the earliest synthesis of yoga can be found in the Vedic Samhitas. The very first hymn in the Rig Veda speaks of the old and the new, pÅ«rvebhih nÅ«tanaih, and this suggest that there was an earlier tradition to which the beginnings of yoga can be traced. According to the ancient tradition, there was an earlier period, — pre-Vedic period, — during which there was a great striving to fathom the mysteries of the existence of the world and of the purpose of human life on the earth.
The important point about the Vedic Samhitas is that the voluminous texts have remained uncorrupted for over 2000 years. Even though these texts are supposed to have an almost enormous antiquity, a supreme importance was attached to the accuracy of the text. That is the reason why today we find accuracy in respect of every syllable and of
every accent. It is true that at an earlier stage, there was a greater freedom in the use of the principle of euphonic combination of separate words and sańdhi; the Vedic Rishis, therefore, combined sometimes the separate words, and sometimes they left them uncombined. But when, in due course, the Veda came to be written down, the law of euphonic combination had assumed a much more despotic authority over the language, and the ancient text was written by the grammarians as far as possible in consonance with its regulations. They were careful, however, to accompany it with another text, called the pada pātha, in which all euphonic combinations were again resolved into the original and separate words and even the components of the compound words indicated. As Sri Aurobindo points out, it is a notable tribute to the fidelity of the ancient memorizers that, instead of the confusion to which this system might so easily have given rise, it is always perfectly easy to resolve formal text into the original harmonies of Vedic prosody. As a result, we have today a very reliable Vedic text. Sri Aurobindo states:
"We have, then, as our basis a text which we can confidently accept and which, even if we hold it in a few instances doubtful or defective, does not at any rate call for that often licentious labour of emendation to which some of the European classics lend themselves. This is, to start with, a priceless advantage for which we cannot be too grateful to the conscientiousness of the old Indian learning."1
While the authenticity and accuracy of the Vedic texts constitute a valuable asset as apart of the valuable heritage of ancient humanity, there has been a wide difference in regard to the interpretation of the Veda. The original scholastic work on the Veda had begun with Yaska and his Nirukta, and even
Yaska acknowledges that there were in his times at least three alternatives, — ādhibhautika, ādhidaivika and ādhyātmika. In due course, the ritualistic interpretation of the Veda tended to become more and more predominant, and when we come to Sayana, whose commentary closes the period which began with Yaska, we find his interpretation obsessed always by the ritualistic formula. It is true that Sayana admits the spiritual, philosophical or psychological element in the Veda, but this element is insignificant in bulk and in importance. The element of naturalistic interpretation preponderates. Sayana's interpretation influenced greatly the modem scholarship, which tended to look upon the Veda as the hymnal of an early, primitive, and largely barbaric society, crude in its moral and religious conception, rude in its social structure and entirely childlike in its outlook upon the world that environed it. The modem theories are in harmony with the scientific theories of early human culture and of the recent emergence from the mere savage. But they do not accord well with the recent discoveries of the remarkable civilisations that existed in China, Egypt, Chaldea and Assyria many thousands of years ago. These discoveries have also spoken of the Age of Mysteries that is found to have developed among these civilizations. It becomes, therefore, more and more reasonable to suppose that the development of history has not been purely linear but has been cyclical; it has therefore been suggested that history in its spiral movements passed, during the period of infra- rational stage of early times, through periods of Intuition and Reason. Only within such a framework, can we explain the profundity of the concepts that we find in the Vedic intuitions and in the Platonic rational insights.
The modem theories rely upon comparative mythology which is the creation of the Hellenists interpreting un-Hellenic
data from the standpoint which is itself founded on a misunderstanding of the Greek mind. The modem theories also rely completely on philology, but in spite of its valuable contributions, comparative philology has failed to create a science of language. The cumulative result of the deficiencies of the modem theories is that the problem of interpreting of the Veda still remains an open field in which any contribution that can throw light upon the problem should be welcomed.
At this juncture, therefore, the contributions that have proceeded from Indian scholars starting from Maharshi Dayananda Saraswati who handled his materials with remarkable power and independence, and made creative use of that peculiar feature of old Sanskrit tongue, which has come to be known as the 'multi-significance of roots'. There is no doubt that the right following of this clue is of capital importance for understanding the peculiar method of the Vedic Rishis. Bal Gangadhar Tilak in his Arctic Home in the Vedas has established at least a strong probability that the Aryan races descended originally from the Arctic regions in the glacial period. T. Paramasiva Aiyar has attempted to prove that the whole of the Rig Veda is a figurative representation of the geological phenomena belonging to the new birth of our planet after its long-continued glacial death in the same period of terrestrial evolution. The theories of Bal Gangadhar Tilak and Aiyar have stimulated fresh speculations and, whatever may be the defects of their works, they seem to serve as a starting-point for a new external interpretation of the Veda which may explain much that is now inexplicable and recreate for us the physical regions, if not the actual physical environment, of the old Aryan world.
There is also the interpretation of the Veda that we find in the writings of Pandit Madhusudan Ojha, who has relied
largely upon the interpretations of the Brahmanas. In many respects, this interpretation seems to coincide with that of Sayana but also departs from it significantly and is able to throw light on the inner and spiritual meaning of the Vedic texts. The hypothesis that Sri Aurobindo has put forward proceeds from a basis that clearly emerges from the language of the Vedas itself. It avoids, therefore, the danger of manufacturing a system out of the scholar's imaginations and preferences instead of discovering the real purport of the figures chosen by the Rishis. This hypothesis has given rise to the Psychological Theory of the Veda, and a close study of this theory leads us to the conclusion that the Rishis arranged the substance of their thoughts in a system of parallelism by which the same cosmic powers and beings were at once internal and external powers and beings of universal Nature, and that they managed their expressions through a system of double values by which the same language served for their systems of the practice of yoga in both aspects. According to this psychological theory, the psychological sense predominates and is more pervading, close-knit and coherent than the physical. According to Sri Aurobindo, the Veda is primarily intended to serve for spiritual enlightenment and self-culture. The Veda is, therefore, primarily a book of yoga, and when we study this system of yoga, we find in it a complexity and a synthesis of many lines of enlightenment and self-culture that had developed earlier. In due course, the Vedic synthesis broke down in specialised lines of Jnana Yoga, Karma Yoga and Bhakti Yoga, as also those of Mantra Yoga and of several other esoteric systems.
In developing the psychological theory, Sri Aurobindo has taken the help of ancient and modem systems of
interpretations. As Sri Aurobindo points out:
"Sayana and Yaska supply the ritualistic framework of outward symbols and their large store of traditional significances and explanations. The Upanishads give their clue to the psychological and philosophical ideas of the earlier Rishis and hand down to us their methods of spiritual experience and intuition. European scholarship supplies a critical method of comparative research, yet to be perfected, but capable of immensely increasing the materials available and sure eventually to give a scientific certainty and firm intellectual basis which has hitherto been lacking. Dayananda has given the clue to the linguistic secret of the Rishis and re-emphasised one central idea of the Vedic religion, the idea of the One Being with the Devas expressing in numerous names and forms the many-sidedness of His unity."²
Psychological Theory of the Vedic Interpretation
The psychological theory of Sri Aurobindo has been explained and illustrated in two volumes, 'The Secret of the Veda’ and 'Hymns to the Mystic Fire’. A close study of these volumes provides convincing soundness of the method and the results. As Sri Aurobindo points out, it becomes clear that the principal ideas of the Vedic Rishis around which the entirety of the Vedic thought in its spiritual aspects is grouped are those of Truth-Consciousness, supramental and divine, the invocation of the gods as powers of the Truth to raise man out of the falsehoods of the mortal mind, the attainment in and by this Truth of an immortal state of perfect good and felicity and the inner sacrifice and offering of what one has and is by the mortal to the Immortal as the means of the Divine consummation.³
It is also clear that the Vedic Rishis investigated three powers of Consciousness, — cognition, conation and affection, — in their highest and widest possibilities and achieved a great synthesis and harmony of these three powers of Consciousness. By the development of the powers of cognition, the Vedic Rishis were able to arrive at victorious illuminations; similarly, by the development of the powers of conation, they were able to arrive at supreme all-achieving puissance; and similarly, again, by the purification and perfect development of the powers of affection, they were able to arrive at the highest spiritual ecstasies.
When we study the above mentioned two volumes of Sri Aurobindo, we find ourselves persuaded of the justification of the tribute that Sri Aurobindo has paid to the Vedic Rishis in the following words:
"They may not have yoked the lightning to their chariots, nor weighed sun and star, nor materialised all the destructive forces in Nature to aid them in massacre and domination, but they had measured and fathomed all the heavens and earths within us, they had cast their plummet into the inconscient and the subconscient and the superconscient; they had read the riddle of death and found the secret of immortality; they had sought for and discovered the One and known and worshipped Him in the glories of His light and purity and wisdom and power. These were their gods, as great and deep conceptions as ever informed the esoteric doctrine of the Egyptians or inspired the men of an older primitive Greece, the fathers of knowledge who founded the mystic rites of Orpheus or the secret initiation of Eleusis. But over it all there was the "Aryan light", a confidence and joy and a happy, equal friendliness with the Gods which the Aryan brought with him into the world, free from the sombre
shadows that fell upon Egypt from contact with the older races, Sons of deep-brooding Earth. These claimed Heaven as their father and their seers had delivered his Sun out of our material darkness."4
Significance of the Vedic Synthesis of Yoga
The reason why so much space has been devoted in this book to the exposition of the synthesis of Yoga in the Veda is that the entire history of the synthesis of yoga would remain inexplicable if the Vedic synthesis of yoga is not properly grasped and underlined. The Upanishads and the synthesis of yoga that we find in the Upanishads would remain incomprehensible if we cannot trace their origin in the Vedas. Similarly, the synthesis of yoga that we find in the Gita can be properly understood only if we can relate it to the Upanishads and the Veda. Moreover, the Upanishads and the Gita form the entire basis of different schools of Vedanta, and the synthesis of yoga that we find in each school of Vedanta and Puranas and Tantra can be understood only if the Vedic knowledge, as developed through the Upanishads and the Gita, gets related to these later developments.
It is also significant that although the synthesis of yoga that is found in the Tantra has, behind it, a history in which non-Vedic ideas seemed to have played a role, recent studies made by Kapali Shastri and M.P. Pandit have traced the origin of the Tantric concept of Shakti to the Vedic concept and experience of Aditi, who has been described in the Veda as the Mother of the gods or the cosmic powers and beings of the Truth. Tantric philosophy and Tantric yoga have influenced both Jainism and Buddhism, and thus, the Tantric Buddhism and Tantric Jainism bear the stamp of the Vedic yoga. The Shaiva Siddhanta and various forms of Shavism
can also be understood only when we have a true grasp of the Vedic synthesis of yoga and the Tantric synthesis of yoga. It may also be mentioned that, in the history of yoga, every system of synthesis has gradually broken down into specialized systems of yoga, and these specialized schools of yoga have again come to be combined in a new synthesis. This entire movement of specialised systems has behind it the large canvas of the original synthesis that we find in the Veda. It is also remarkable that the latest new synthesis of yoga that Sri Aurobindo and The Mother have given in our own times has brought back the knowledge contained in the Vedic syntheses and, even though their new synthesis breaks a new ground, this yoga cannot be understood if the Vedic synthesis of yoga is not understood. It may, therefore, be said that the Vedic synthesis of yoga pervades the entire atmosphere of the development of yoga in India, and even in this Introduction, it would be useful to expound, in some broad terms, the Vedic roots of the Indian history of yoga.
According to Sri Aurobindo, Vedic knowledge and subsequently also the Upanishadic knowledge was attained, not by a process of ratiocination but by the operation of the faculties of the supermind or of Intuition. As he points out, Intuition is our first teacher, and reason comes in afterwards to see what profit it can have of the shining harvest. In this light, the history of Indian philosophy can be seen as beginning with the age of intuitive knowledge, which, beginning with the Veda, was subsequently represented by the early Vedantic thinking of the Upanishads. This age gave way to the age of rational knowledge, when inspired scriptures made room for metaphysical philosophy, even as afterwards metaphysical philosophy had to give place to experimental science. Sri Aurobindo, in the following
passage, describes briefly but illuminatingly the course of the development of Indian thought:
"Intuitive thought which is a messenger from the superconscient and therefore our highest faculty, was supplanted by the pure reason which is only a sort of deputy and belongs to the middle heights of our being; pure reason in its turn was supplanted for a time by the mixed action of the reason which lives on our plains and lower elevations and does not in its view exceed the horizon of the experience that the physical mind and senses or such aids as we can invent for them can bring to us. And this process which seems to be a descent, is really a circle of progress. For in each case the lower faculty is compelled to take up as much as it can assimilate of what the higher had already given and to attempt to re-establish it by its own methods. By the attempt it is itself enlarged in its scope and arrives eventually at a more supple and a more ample self-accommodation to the higher faculties. Without this succession and attempt at separate assimilation we should be obliged to remain under the exclusive domination of a part of our nature while the rest remained either depressed and unduly subjected or separate in its field and therefore poor in its development. With this succession and separate attempt the balance is righted; a more complete harmony of our parts of knowledge is prepared."5
Salient Features of the Vedic Synthesis of Yoga
Sri Aurobindo's interpretation of the Veda enables us to look upon the Veda as possessed of the highest spiritual substance of the Upanishads but as a body of knowledge that is yet insufficiently equipped with intellectual and philosophical terms. Sri Aurobindo finds in the Veda a system and a
doctrine, whose structure is supple and whose terms are concrete, and whose cast of thought is practical and experimental. In the Veda, he finds an ancient psychological science and the art of spiritual living of which the Upanishads are the philosophical outcome and modification and Vedanta, Sankhya and Yoga and other intellectual philosophies are late results of the labour of the rational logical endeavour.
The Vedic doctrine, as enunciated by Sri Aurobindo, describes a cosmology, and he compares the seven principles of Vedic cosmology with the seven Puranic worlds with sufficient precision in the following way:
|Pure Existence - Sat
|World of the highest truth of being (Satyaloka)
|Pure Consciousness - Chit
|World of infinite Will or conscious-force (Tapoloka)
|Pure Bliss - Ananda
|World of creative delight of existence (Janaloka)
|Knowledge or Truth - Vijnana
|World of the Vastness (Maharloka)
|World of light (Swar)
|Life (nervous being)
|World of various becoming (Bhuvar)
|The material world (Bhur) 6
Indeed, in the Vedic system, cosmic gradations are differently grouped, — seven worlds in principle, five in practice, three in their general groupings:
|The Supreme Sat-Chit-Ananda
|The Triple divine worlds
|The Truth, Right, Vast, manifested in Swar, with its three luminous heavens.
|The triple lower world Pure Mind
|Heaven (Dyaus, the three heavens)
|The Mid-Region (Antariksha)
|Earth (the three earths)
Our earth, according to the Veda, has been shaped out of the dark inconscient ocean of existence, and our physical life lifts its high formations and ascending planes towards the heaven of mind having its own formations. The streams of the clarity and the honey ascend out of the Subconscient Ocean upwards and they seek the Superconscient Ocean above. That upper ocean sends downwards its rivers of the light, truth and bliss even into our physical being. Thus, in the ocean of physical Nature, the Vedic poets sing the hymn of our spiritual ascension.
The science and practice of that spiritual ascension is the secret science of the Veda or of the Vedic Yoga, the aim of which is immortality. This science assigns a great importance to Agni, the Mystic Fire, which causes growth, and which increases the power and forges and welds relations among vegetations, plants and herbs and which pushes forward the greater forces of Intelligence and of the higher world of light, Swar. Agni represents warmth and heat of the Yogin that creates the right condition for the path of sacrifice which, in the secret teaching of the Veda, is the path of the offering of
the works to the highest Object of light, knowledge and bliss. The entire significance of sacrifice and its practice, when examined properly, turns out to be the Karma Yoga of the Veda which is also, as explicitly stated in the Bhagavadgita, a synthesis with Jnana Yoga and Bhakti Yoga. Agni is not only the fire of the sacrifice, the fire of the journey of life, the élan of evolution, but also it is its leader and priest (purohita). Agni leads man in his search of the Truth (satyam). It is he who connects man with the cosmic forces and with all the gods of the three worlds (triloka), of earth (bhur), mid-world (bhuvar) and heaven (swar). At the head of swar is Indra, the god of Illumined Intelligence. It is Indra who shows man the path to the still higher realms and to the Supreme Reality. But before one can reach the Supreme or the Supreme Light, (Savitri), one has to cross the four gods: Varuna, Mitra, Aryaman and Bhaga. They are to be embraced and to be fulfilled before they lead the seeker to his goal.
Varuna represents vastness, infinite wideness, limitlessness. The Truth that the Veda worships is infinite; it is spaceless and timeless and yet is all Space and Time. This truth cannot be possessed without the widest wideness in our consciousness and in our being. The seeker has to learn to comprehend and to contain all, — all without limits. He has to grow in the wideness of Varuna, worship him and be as wide as he is.
But this is not enough; Mitra, the lord of Harmony is also to be fulfilled. The seeker must learn the secret of relations; know the threads that bind each to all and all to each. He must learn to be the friend of all creatures, of all men, of all gods. With the wideness of Varuna, he must combine the harmony of Mitra; wideness and relationships are both to be mastered. The Supramental Light is wideness but not empty
of contents or relations. Hence, the necessity of the union of Varuna and Mitra.
But even this is not enough. In all human endeavour, there is the stress and strain of effort. There is a struggle, and it is through struggle, through intense effort, that the narrowness of consciousness is overpassed, the conflicts are resolved, wideness is achieved, and harmony is established. One must have therefore the capacity for the highest effort, the intensest tapasya, a perfect mastery over all that needs to be done. Aryaman is the god of this mastery. Through him the highest effort is accomplished. He is total endurance. Without this endurance, we are like the unbaked jar, which will be broken at the touch of the Supreme Light. It will not be able to hold the nectar of immortality. The jar, our instrument, our body, our entire being, has to be baked, — baked fully by the heat and austerity of Aryaman.
But there is still Bhaga to be fulfilled. The Supreme Light is joy and we must learn to bear not only the intensest effort but also the highest degrees of delight. The Supreme Reality itself is supreme delight. Bhaga is to be approached, and in unity with Varuna, Mitra and Aryaman, he has to be embodied.
Highest Achievement of the Vedic Synthesis of Yoga
In his upward journey, the seeker then proceeds to Savitri, the lord of the Supreme Light, the sun in which 'all the gods unyoke their horses', the supreme in which gods cease to be entities and become His aspects.
This marks the victory of the Aryan seeker. He is now in the very home of the gods (swe dame). This is the home of the Truth, the Right and the Vast (satyam, ritam, bhrihat).
This is the supramental Truth-Consciousness (Rita-Chit), the highest cosmic consciousness. It is that by which reality expresses itself, and in which expression, even the Idea- Expression, is the concrete body of the Truth itself. It may therefore be described as the Real-Idea.
Attainment of the truth-consciousness, Rita-Chit, implies a process of finding and expanding vision of light which leads to immortality. First, the truth is held and enriched in thought; next, it is diffused in the entire being, as explained by Parashara in Rig Veda 1.71.3,
dadhan ṛtam dhanayan asya dhītim,
ād id aryo didhiṣvo vibhṛtrāḥ
And Parashara speaks of the path which leads to immortality in the following words:
"They who entered into all things that bear right fruit formed a path towards the immortality; earth stood wide for them by the greatness and by the Great Ones, the mother Aditi with her sons came (or manifested herself) for the upholding" (RV 1.72.9).
Commenting on this statement of Parashara, Sri Aurobindo states:
"That is to say, the physical being visited by the greatness of the infinite planes above and by the power of the great godheads who reign on those planes breaks its limits, opens out to the Light and is upheld in its new wideness by the infinite Consciousness, mother Aditi, and her sons, the divine Powers of the supreme Deva. This is the Vedic immortality."7
The secret knowledge of which the Indian tradition speaks is contained in the Vedic descriptions that relate to the human journey starting from the awakening of Agni which lifts us up
to attainment of immortality. It can be said that it is the Vedic science of the human journey in its upward rising towards truth-consciousness that has moulded Indian philosophical thought towards the goal of spiritual liberation and perfection, and this distinctive feature of Indian Philosophy owes its origin to the Veda.
When we study the yoga of the Veda, we find a great difficulty, since our mentality is governed by modern rationalism; the idea of God is itself in question, and since there are conflicting notions of God, we find the Vedic reference to God as the creator, and yet God Himself as the stuff and substance of creation as a matter of uncomfortable perplexity. But our discomfort increases greatly when the Veda speaks of a number of gods and goddesses and the curious relations that these gods and goddesses enjoy with the One Supreme God. Each god is described as the Supreme God, each god as interchangeable with other gods, and each god as having specific position in the hierarchy of the gods. The Vedic system is thus neither clearly monotheistic nor pantheistic, nor deistic; it is not even clearly polytheistic. European scholarship has called it henotheistic. But when we examine this system, we find it ultimately to be monotheistic and monistic. The polytheism of the Veda is subordinate to monotheism and monism. The gods in the Veda are cosmic frontal faces of God; they are distinguishable from each other by the cosmic domain in which they have their specific position and function. But that specific position and function is really speaking the position and the function that God Himself occupies in the cosmos. Hence, each God is really the supreme God; and since God is omnipresent, each god is interchangeable with the others, and yet since God Himself occupies all that is Space and
Time and all that is in Space and Time, the same God relates Himself in different positions of Space and Time in varying relationships with Himself.
Such, indeed, is the discovery of the nature of God; this is not philosophical speculation; this is what is discovered to be the nature of God when one enters into direct and experiential relationship with God by pursuit of the Vedic integral process of yoga. In the light of the Vedic knowledge, therefore, one can say that God exists; the multiplicity of God and the peculiar nature of His complexity is a fact manifesting itself as the multiplicity of gods, human beings and creatures and the peculiar nature of each being and each creature. The Vedic Rishis, through the processes of yoga, discovered the gods; they also discovered the functions of each of these gods that they have described in the Vedic hymns; it is for the seekers to verify through their own experiences, and the long traditions of yoga in India stand out as a recurring testimony of these gods, although the names by which they are called have often varied in different traditions. The affirmation of the Veda is that the methods, which have been identified and which have been practised again and again by a number of Rishis, and which have been described in the Veda itself, can be made available to each individual, if the seeker is keen to know them, and is ready to undertake the processes of enquiry and the processes of application. The polytheism, monotheism and monism of the Veda are not articles of dogma; they are articles of discoveries of a well-developed methodical science of yoga.
The Vedic experience of human journey underlines the concept of Ignorance, which has been a major concept in the subsequent systems of philosophy. In the second hymn of the fourth Mandala, we find the Rishi's prayer in the
"May he the knower discern perfectly the Knowledge and the Ignorance, the wide levels and the crooked that shut in mortals; and O God, for a bliss fruitful in offspring, lavish on us Diti and protect Aditi" (RV. IV.2.11).
The state of knowledge here is compared to the wide open levels of consciousness, which are also termed as the states of citti, and Ignorance, which is indicated by the word acitti, is described as a state of crookedness (vrjnā). The connection of Knowledge with Aditi and of Ignorance with Diti is also significant. Aditi refers to the power that is undivided and infinite, who is also considered in the Veda as the mother of the Gods or the Beings endowed with light. Diti is also called in the Veda Dānu, which etymologically means division and whose powers are described in the Vedas as obstructing powers or vritras. These obstructing powers are referred to as Dānus, Dānavas and Daityas. It is also significant that Knowledge is associated with the concept of bliss, and with the off springs of bliss, which obviously are manifestations of the Divine consciousness and which are effective through the conquest of Diti. But what is the meaning of the prayer that aspires to be lavished by Diti and which aspires the protection of Adit? This prayer may become clearer when we read the Ishopanishad which declares the possession of the Knowledge and Ignorance, the unity and the multiplicity in the one Brahman as the condition of the attainment of Immortality.
The central concept of the Veda, it may be said, is that of the conquest of the Knowledge of the Truth that rises out of the darkness of Ignorance, and by the conquest of the Truth, the conquest also of Immortality. Inherent in this conception is the discovery of Ṛtam, which is the forerunner of the
concept of Dharma and the law of Karma which are so prominent in the subsequent development of Indian philosophical thought. Ṛtam is the true being, the true consciousness and the true delight of existence which manifests the right action. The right action results from Truth- consciousness which has to be attained, as also the process of that attainment. That process is a process of thoughts, emotions and works in their upward journey, which is guided by the growth of true consciousness, true being and true delight of existence. This process is also the process of sacrifice which consists of giving by man of what he possesses in his ignorant consciousness to the higher or the Divine Nature. The sacrifice is governed by the law of the Ṛtam which causes the ripening of the sacrifice into its corresponding fruits which consist of the gradual enrichment of the Faculties of Knowledge and the lavish bounty of the cosmic Divine, which can culminate in the total replacement of the Ignorance, and in the total possession of the Knowledge and of the attainment of Immortality. This process of sacrifice is conceived in the Vedic experience as a journey and as a progression, and the sacrifice itself is viewed as a travel led by Agni, the Mystic Fire, the burning aspiration and the zeal of self-giving. This journey is also described in the Veda as the battle, for it is opposed by the powers of evil and falsehood which are the results of Ignorance. The entire human life has been regarded in the Veda as a journey from darkness to higher light and still higher to the highest light - ud vayam tamasapari svaḥ paśyanta uttaram, devam devatrā sūryamaganma jyotir uttamam.. (Rig Veda, 1.50.10; see also Chhandogyopanishad, III 17.6,7)
Connected with the process of the attainment of Knowledge is the Vedic concept of Usha, which is the Divine
Dawn. Her coming signals the rising of the Sun, which is the symbol in the Veda of the Supreme Knowledge. The Sun brings the day, the day of the true life in the true Knowledge, and the night he dispels is the night of Ignorance which yet conceals the dawn in its bosom.
The Veda speaks of the Angirasas, the forefathers who had traced the whole Path from Ignorance to Knowledge. In 1.83.4,5, of the Rig Veda, we have the description of the Angirasas, of Atharvan, and Ushanas Kavya, in their process and in their attainment of the Knowledge of the Truth: "The Angirasas held the supreme manifestation (of the Truth), they who had lit the fire, by perfect accomplishment of the work; they gained the whole enjoyment of the Pani, its herds of the cows and the horses. Atharvan first formed the Path, thereafter, Surya was born as the protector of the Law and the Blissful One, tataḥ sūryo vratapā vena ājani. Ushanas Kavya drove upward the Cows. With them may we win by the sacrifice the immortality that is born as a child to the Lord of the Law."
Attainment of Knowledge is seen in the Veda, not as the possession of the intellectual knowledge, but as the direct experience, direct perception, which is not sensuous but super-sensuous, which can properly be called Darshana. It is against this background that we can understand rightly why Indian Philosophy has come to be regarded as Darshana, and it is significant that all the systems of Indian Philosophy except the system of Carvakas, contend that they constitute a preliminary intellectual preparation for surmounting the ordinary consciousness so that it can be refined, subtlised and ultimately transcended into supra-intellectual vision, Darshana. We see here once again the close connection between the Veda and the Indian Yoga and Philosophy.
Synthesis of Yoga in the Upanishads
The history of yoga marks a significant stage of the Vedic development, when after the period of Brahmanas and Aranyakas, Upanishads emerged as the culmination of the Vedic knowledge and thus they are known as the Vedanta. The secrets of the Veda which were lost during the intermediate period were recovered by the Rishis of the Upanishads. While the Brahmanas laboured to fix and preserve the minutiae of the Vedic ceremony, the Rishis of the Upanishads followed another method. They sought to recover the lost or waning knowledge contained in the Veda by the method of meditation and spiritual experiences. They used the text of the Vedic Samhitas as a prop or an authority for their own intuition and perception. These Rishis were like the Vedic Rishis; they were seekers of higher than the verbal truth and they used words merely as suggestions in the illumination towards which they were striving. As a result, the Upanishads are invaluable for the light they shed on the principal ideas and on the psychological system of the ancient Rishis. Their work' is contained primarily in the twelve principal Upanishads, and when we study them, we find that they tended to subordinate more and more completely the outward ritual, the material utility of the mantra and the sacrifice to a more spiritual aim and intention. The Vedic Rishis had preserved a synthesis between the material and the spiritual life; but the Upanishadic Rishis developed a new synthesis, leaning finally towards asceticism and renunciation. The Vedic Rishis had developed a symbolical language which abounded with the veil of concrete myth and poetic figure; the Upanishadic Rishis adopted less symbolic language and arrived at a clearer statement and more philosophical
language. In due course, Upanishads became a fountainhead of the highest Indian thought and replaced the inspired verses of the Vedic Rishis.
The Upanishads are not philosophical speculations of the intellectual kind; they do not present systems of metaphysical analysis labouring to define notions and to logicise truth or else to support the mind in its intellectual preferences by a dialectical reasoning. The Upanishadic Rishis realized the Truth rather than merely thought it; they clothed it with a strong body of intuitive idea and disclosing image. When we read the Upanishads, we find in them a body of ideal transparency through which we look into the illimitable, because the Upanishadic seers fathomed things by processes of yoga in the light of self-existence and saw them with the eye of the Infinite. The words of the Upanishads have remained always alive and immortal and they have carried an inexhaustible significance, an inevitable authority, a satisfying finality that is at the same time an infinite commencement of truth. There are in the Upanishads, as in the Vedas, epic hymns of self-knowledge and world-knowledge and God-knowledge. Even though they are mainly concerned with an inner vision and not directly with outward human action, we find in them the sources of the highest ethical systems that developed in the later periods as the Indian idea of Dharma.
The Upanishads constitute a continuation and development of the Vedic system of yoga. There are a number of passages which are at once poetry and spiritual philosophy of an absolute clarity and beauty. There are others in which subtlest psychological and philosophical truths are expressed with an entire sufficiency without falling short of a perfect beauty of poetical expression; in several passages,
the Upanishads repeat the Vedic images and ideas almost in the same terms, and when we read the Vedic texts and the principal Upanishads and study the later period of Indian history, we find that they are not only the fountainhead of Indian yoga and philosophy and religion, but of all Indian art, poetry and literature.
Sri Aurobindo points out:
"It was the soul, the temperament, the ideal mind formed and expressed in them which later carved out the great philosophies, built the structure of the Dharma, recorded its heroic youth in the Mahabharata and Ramayana, intellectualized indefatigably in the classical times of the ripeness of its manhood, threw out so many original intuitions in science, created so rich a glow of aesthetic and vital and sensuous experience, renewed its spiritual and psychic experience in Tantra and Purana, flung itself into grandeur and beauty of line and colour, hewed and cast its thought and vision in stone and bronze, poured itself into new channels of self-expression in the later tongues and now after eclipse re-emerges always the same in difference and ready for a new life and a new creation."8
The greatest significance of the Vedas and the Upanishads is that they are ready for a new life and for a new creation in our own times. It is the scientific and the yogic trend in the Vedas and the Upanishads that have ensured the development of fresh minds of investigation and development of new knowledge. The Vedas have themselves celebrated the discovery of new knowledge. In a hymn addressed to Agni or the flame of aspiration, the Rigveda prays for the increase of the glorious treasures of those who from age to age speak the word that is new, the word that is a discovery of new knowledge:
yuge yuge vidathyam
grnadbhyah agne rayim yaśasam dhehi navyasīm. (RV. VI.8.5)
Synthesis of Yoga in the Gita
The synthesis of yoga that we find in the Vedas and the Upanishads broke down in course of time, and there arose a period of the development of specialized systems of yoga. That there was a sharp conflict between the Jnana Yoga and Karma Yoga at the time of the Mahabharata can be clearly seen in the colloquy between Arjuna and Sri Krishna in the battlefield of Kurukshetra. The Jnana Yoga as developed in Sankhya and the Karma Yoga which was to be found in what Sri Krishna refers to as yoga were in such a sharp state of conflict that Sri Krishna was required to dissolve this conflict through a long colloquy with Arjuna. The colloquy between Arjuna and Sri Krishna, which we find in the Gita, brings back the ancient Vedic synthesis as also the synthesis that we find in the principal Upanishads, although those systems of synthesis are reformulated with a sharper and assured knowledge of the Karma Yoga. Fortunately, the gospel of Karma Yoga as formulated in the Gita was itself a synthesis in which the powers of knowledge were synthesized with the powers of will and emotion, and this synthesis ensured a constant return in the history of yoga to the continuation of the spirit of synthesis that we find in the Vedas and the Upanishads. It is true that the synthesis of yoga that we find in the Gita broke down again in due course of time. There have arisen a number of specialised systems of yoga, such as Hatha Yoga, Raja Yoga, Jnana Yoga, Bhakti Yoga, Karma Yoga, Mantra Yoga, Laya Yoga, Kriya Yoga, and many others. Buddhistic yoga and the yoga of Jainism are also specialized systems of yoga.
Synthesis of Yoga in the Systems of Vedanta, Purana and the Tantra
It is remarkable that each one of these specialized systems of yoga developed greater subtleties and each one fathomed deeper profundities of specialized lines of yoga. It is also important to note that even though these specialized systems of yoga made claims and counter-claims, and even though each one claims superiority over the others, they still strove to arrive at some image of synthesis. We see this trend in the development of the synthesis of yoga of the systems of the Vedanta,. those of Śańkara, Rāmānuja, Madhva, Vallabhācāry and Śri Caitanya. In due course of time, we find Puranic elements in yogic systems of Bhakti and a synthesis that assigned to Bhakti the synthesising role. With the emergence of the yoga of Tantra, Siddhanta, Siddha, and Shaivism, a new synthesis came to be built up and this synthesis had far reaching consequences in imparting a fresh spirit of synthesis in various specialized systems of yoga. Hatha Yoga borrowed certain elements of Tantra; even Raja Yoga, which is historically the yoga of Patanjali and has in recent times been expounded by Swami Vivekananda, contains the concept of kundalini and chakras, which are special features of Tantra. Tantric Buddhism and Tantric Jainism are also systems of synthesis; and various forms of Shavism and Vaishnavism, whatever their specialized differences, reflect a good deal of Tantric system and spirit of synthesis. The yogic system of Sri Chaitanya adds a most precious contribution to the path of the Divine Love. The yogic system of Guru Nanak, too, manifests a synthesis, and it is a remarkable development that aimed at the assimilation of Hinduism and Islam. Guru Nanak also aimed at purifying the yogic life of his own time.
Later Systems of the Synthesis of Yoga
The Tantric system itself broke down into two parts and this division illustrates how the Indian history of yoga has been developing complexity into divisions and divisions into fresh synthesis; and in the last decades of the nineteenth century, Sri Ramakrishna and Swami Vivekananda developed a new synthesis of yoga. This synthesis provided a new impetus to the theme of the unity of religions and to the development of the knowledge that opened up important gates to Sri Aurobindo's new synthesis of yoga. There have been other developments of the synthesis such as that of Kaviraj Gopinath whose synthesis of yoga has been called the Akhanda Yoga.
The New Synthesis of Yoga: Sri Aurobindo and the Mother
The supreme significance of yoga, of the history of synthesis of yoga, as also of the history of specialized systems of yoga comes out clearly in the new synthesis of yoga or Integral Yoga of Sri Aurobindo and The Mother. There is, we come to realize, a secret intention behind the entire endeavour of yoga. Yoga is a methodized effort towards self-perfection, by the expression of the potentialities latent in the being, and a union of the human individual with the universal and transcendent Existence that we see partially expressed in man and in the cosmos; it derives its significance from the fact that all life, when we look behind its appearances, is a vast yoga of Nature attempting to realize her perfection in an ever- increasing expression of her potentialities and to unite herself with her own divine reality. In this light, yoga ceases to appear something mystic and abnormal which has no relation to the
ordinary processes of World-Energy or the purpose she keeps in view in her two great movements of subjective and objective self-fulfillment. A given system of yoga, it can be seen, is nothing more than a selection or a compression into a narrower but more energetic form of intensity. The general methods of yoga are already being used loosely, largely, in a leisurely movement in the unconscious evolutionary movements of life; the leisurely movement of life permits a profuser apparent waste of material and energy; yoga and various systems of yoga aim at substituting the leisurely and unconscious movement and its apparent waste by self- conscious means and willed arrangements of activity by which the highest purposes of life can be attained more swiftly and puissantly. Swami Vivekananda has rightly said that yoga may be regarded as a means of compressing one's evolution into a single life or a few years or even a few months of bodily existence. In this view, yoga reveals itself, Sri Aurobindo points out, as an intense and exceptional use of powers that life and World-Energy have already manifested or is progressively organising in a less exalted but in a more general operation. In the light of Sri Aurobindo's Integral Yoga, we find that the earlier systems of yoga, specialised or synthetic, have prepared a vast background, and each one of them has fathomed some secret truth of the potentialities of human nature, and each of them can be studied for purposes of integral enrichment. At the same time, it can be seen that the exceptional results which each specialised system utilise have their disadvantages and losses. As Sri Aurobindo points out:
"The Yogin tends to draw away from the common existence and lose .his hold upon it; he tends to purchase wealth of spirit by an impoverishment of his human activities, the inner freedom by an outer death. If he gains
God, he loses life, or if he turns his effort outward to conquer life, he is in danger of losing God. Therefore, we see in India that a sharp incompatibility has been created between life in the world and spiritual growth and perfection, and although the tradition and ideal of a victorious harmony between the inner attraction and the outer demand remains, it is little or else very imperfectly exemplified. In fact, when a man turns his vision and energy inward and enters on the path of Yoga, he is popularly supposed to be lost inevitably to the great stream of our collective existence and the secular effort of humanity."9
But this turn of effort in which other-worldly attainment tends to be fixed as the aim of yoga has to be seen as a temporary necessity under certain conditions or a specialised extreme effort imposed on the individual so as to prepare a greater general possibility for the race. A stage has been reached when the past yogic effort of humanity can be taken as a foundation to build up a new synthesis of yoga in which a true and full object and utility of yoga can be accomplished; the conscious yoga in man can become outwardly coterminus with life itself. In the new synthesis of yoga, therefore, we find the full application of the dictum that all life has to be accepted in yoga and that in doing so all life has to be transformed so that the totality of life manifests perfection even in the bodily existence on the earth. The new synthesis of yoga recognises the value of the past developments of yoga, and the specialising and separative tendencies have been seen in their justifying and even imperative utility; but it also finds it inevitable to seek a synthesis of specialised aims and methods which have come into being, as also of those which the new needs of evolution demand.
According to Sri Aurobindo, the evolution of the spiritual man has two intentions. The first intention is to awaken the spiritual man to the supreme Reality and release him from his bondage to the complex nature of body, life and mind which are limited, obscure and ignorant; this intention is fulfilled when the spiritual man attains the capacity of a departure from Nature and its Ignorance into a higher status of being elsewhere. In essence, it can be said that this intention has been. already been accomplished because the ways have been built, the capacity to follow them has been developed, and the goal or the last height of the creation is manifest. With' the help of the systems of yoga which have been developed so far, what is left is for each soul to reach individually the right stage and turn of its development, enter into the chosen system of yoga and pass by its own path out of the inferior existence of bondage and enter into liberation. But, both rationally and spiritually, the second intention of Nature also becomes more and more evident. That intention is not only to arrive at a revelation of the Spirit, not only to arrive at liberation from Nature, but also to bring about a great victory of the Spirit which could result in a radical and integral transformation of Nature.
As Sri Aurobindo points out:
"There is a will in her (Nature) to effectuate a true manifestation of the embodied life of the Spirit, to complete what she has begun by a passage from the Ignorance to the Knowledge to throw off her mask and to reveal herself as the luminous Consciousness-Force carrying in her the eternal Existence and its universal Delight of being....What the evolutionary Power has done is to make a few individuals aware of their souls, conscious of their selves, aware of the eternal being that they are, to put them into communion with
the Divinity or the Reality which is concealed by her appearances: a certain change of nature prepares, accompanies or follows upon this illumination, but it is not the complete and radical change which establishes a secure and settled new principle, a new creation, a permanent new order of being in the field of terrestrial Nature. The spiritual man has evolved, but not the supramental being who shall thenceforward be the leader of that Nature."10
If we approach the problem rationally, we shall find that the movement of Nature can be viewed in terms of evolution, and even Science now affirms an evolutionary terrestrial existence. It may, however, be argued that the generalisations which science arrives at are short lived. It may be contended that Science holds these generalisations for some decades or some centuries, then passes to another generalisation, another theory of things. In the field of biology and psychology, the instability of generalisations is still greater. It may further be argued that in the field of psychology, the relevance of which is obvious since the evolution of consciousness comes into the picture, Science passes from one theory to another before the first is well-founded; it can even be shown that several conflicting theories hold the field together. It may further be argued that no firm metaphysical building can be erected upon these shifting quick sands.
A line of reasoning can be constructed to question the contention that Nature intends to develop on this earth a supramental being. Sri Aurobindo himself has stated this line of reasoning that can be constructed. That argument can be briefly summarised as follows:
(a) Heredity, upon which Science builds its concept of life- evolution, is an instrument for conservation rather than
for evolution; all the facts show that a type can vary within its own specification of Nature but there is nothing to show that it can go beyond it.
(b) It has not yet been established that ape-kind developed into man; for it would rather seem that a type resembling the ape, but has a characteristic of itself and not of apehood, developed within its own tendency of nature and became what we know as man, the present human being.
(c) The progress of Nature from Matter to Life, from Life to Mind may be conceded: but there is no proof yet that Matter developed into life or Life-energy into Mind- energy; all that can be conceded is that Life has manifested in Matter, Mind in living Matter.
(d) The constant creation of types is visible but that is no indubitable proof of evolution. In this light, man is a type among many types; he is one pattern among the multitude of patterns in the manifestation in Matter. To exceed himself, to create into a superman, to put on the Nature and capacities of God would be a contradiction of his self-law, impracticable and impossible.
(e) If a supramental being has to appear in the terrestrial creation, it must be a new independent manifestation; but there is no sign of any such intention in the operations of Nature.
(f) It may even be argued that the world can be explained as a self-organising dynamic Chance that is at work. An inconscient and inconsequent" Force acts at random and creates this or that by a general chance; a persistent repetition of the same rhythm of action appears as a repetitive rhythm. It is the work of Chance that elucidates
the free play of the endless unaccountable variations which are visible in the evolution. It may be concluded that there is no such thing as intention in Nature, and therefore, there can be no question of the intention in Nature to manifest a supramental being.
The above line of reasoning may seem at first to be cogent and even formidable, but that line of reasoning, in some of its aspects, assumes that the theory of materialism is unquestionable and even irrefutable. Sri Aurobindo points out that this assumption is unfounded. The premise on which materialism stands is that the physical senses are our sole means of Knowledge and that Reason, therefore, cannot escape beyond the domain of physical existence even in its most extended vigorous flights. But this premise is, Sri Aurobindo points out, arbitrary, and it assumes its own conclusion as its undeniable basis. Sri Aurobindo points out that the world of Matter is affirmed by the experience of the physical senses which, because they are themselves unable to perceive anything immaterial or not organised as gross Matter, would persuade us that the supra-sensible is unreal. But there are today increasing evidences, of which only the most obvious and outward are established in the name of telepathy and cognate phenomena, cannot long be resisted. As soon as we begin to investigate the operations of mind and of Supermind, in themselves and without the prejudgement that is determined from the beginning to see in them only a subordinate term of Matter, we come into contact with a mass of phenomena which escape not only from the rigid hold and the limiting dogmatism of the materialistic formula. Sri Aurobindo adds:
"And the moment we recognise, as our enlarging experience compels us to recognise, that there are in the
universe knowable realities beyond the range of the senses and in man powers and faculties which determine rather than are determined by the material organs through which they hold themselves in touch with the world of the senses, — that outer shell of our true and complete existence, — the premiss of materialistic Agnosticism disappears. We are ready for .a large statement and an ever-developing inquiry."¹¹
Sri Aurobindo points out that even though the Inconscient is discovered to be at the origin of the evolutionary movement, the emergence of consciousness of the Mind out of the Inconscient is a stumbling block in the materialistic theory of Chance. For, it is a phenomenon which can have no place in an all-pervading truth of the Inconscience. For it may be asked as to what this mind is, this consciousness which differs so radically from the Energy that produced it that for its actions is required to impose its idea and need of order on the world it has made and in which it is obliged to live. There would then be a double contradiction, Sri Aurobindo points out, of consciousness emerging from a fundamental Inconscience and of a Mind of order and reason manifesting as the brilliant final conclusion of a world created by inconscient Chance.
According to Sri Aurobindo, the evolutionary process cannot be explained unless Inconscience is conceived and realised as involved Superconscience, which, in turn, points to the higher and highest operations of the Supermind. The argument that he puts forward is stated as follows:
"We speak of the evolution of Life in Matter, the evolution of Mind in Matter; but evolution is a word which merely states the phenomenon without explaining it. For there seems to be no reason why Life should evolve out of
material elements or Mind out of living form, unless we accept the Vedantic solution that Life is already involved in Matter and Mind in Life because in essence Matter is a form of veiled Life, Life a form of veiled Consciousness. And then there seems to be little objection to a farther step in the series and the admission that mental consciousness may itself be only a form and a veil of higher states which are beyond Mind. In that case, the unconquerable impulse of man towards God, Light, Bliss, Freedom, Immortality presents itself in its right place in the chain as simply the imperative impulse by which Nature is seeking to evolve beyond Mind, and appears to be as natural, true and just as the impulse towards Life which she has planted in certain forms of Matter or the impulse towards Mind which she has planted in certain forms of Life. As there, so here, the impulse exists more or less obscurely in her different vessels with an ever- ascending series in the power of its will-to-be; as there, so here, it is gradually evolving and bound fully to evolve the necessary organs and faculties. As the impulse towards Mind ranges from the more sensitive reactions of Life in the metal and the plant up to its full organisation in man, so in man himself there is the same ascending series, the preparation, if nothing more, of a higher and divine life. The animal is a living laboratory in which Nature has, it is said, worked out man. Man himself may well be a thinking and living laboratory in whom and with whose conscious co-operation she wills to work out the superman, the god. Or shall we not say, rather, to manifest God? For if evolution is the progressive manifestation by Nature of that which slept or worked in her, involved, it is also the overt realization of that which she secretly is. We cannot, then, bid her pause at a given stage of her evolution, nor have we the right to
condemn with the religionist as perverse and presumptuous or with the rationalist as a disease or hallucination any intention she may evince or effort she may make to go beyond. If it be true that Spirit is involved in Matter and apparent Nature is secret God, then the manifestation of the divine in himself and the realization of God within and without are the highest and most legitimate aim possible to man upon earth."¹²
In regard to the infirmities of the scientific theory of evolution, Sri Aurobindo points out that the theory of spiritual evolution is not identical with the scientific theory of form-evolution and physical life. The theory of spiritual evolution may accept the scientific account of the physical evolution as a support or an element, but that support is not indispensable. What is common between the theory of spiritual evolution and scientific theory is the account of certain outward aspects of evolution, namely, that there is in the scale of terrestrial existence the development of forms, of bodies, a progressively complex and competent organisation of Matter, of Life in Matter, of consciousness in living Matter, and that in this scale the better organised the form, the more is it capable of housing a better organised, a more complex and a more developed or evolved Life and consciousness. In regard to these common aspects, there does not seem to be a basis for dispute, once the evolutionary hypothesis is put forward and the facts supporting it are marshalled. The dispute arises in regard to those aspects which are not indispensable for the theory of spiritual evolution, namely, the precise machinery by which the evolutionary process is effected or the exact genealogy or chronological succession of types of beings, the development of one form of life out of a precedent less
evolved form, natural selection, struggle for life and the survival of acquired characteristics. As Sri Aurobindo points out, this may or may not be accepted; what is of primary consequence is the fact of a successive creation with a developing plan in it. The essential point in the theory of spiritual evolution is the fact of evolution of consciousness, a progression of a spiritual manifestation in material existence, and that essential point follows naturally from the refutation of the materialism and from the consequent theory of consciousness and its involution in the original Inconscient.
In regard to the argument that man is a type among many types and therefore to suppose that man can exceed himself and can grow into a superman would be a contradiction of the law governing the types, Sri Aurobindo concedes that each type of pattern of consciousness and being in the body once established, has to be faithful to the law of being of that type to its design and rule of nature. But he points out that it may very well be that part of the law of the human type is its impulse towards self-exceeding, that the means for a conscious transition has been provided along with spiritual powers of man and that the possession of such a capacity may be a part of the plan on which the creative Energy has built him.
It has further been pointed out that there has been a tremendous human progress since man's appearance or even in his recent ascertainable history, and this progress suggests fresh steps of progression until the highest consummation is reached. It may, however, be argued that the progress that has been registered so far has not carried out the human race beyond itself, into self-exceeding. In reply, Sri Aurobindo contends that that was not to be expected until a critical stage
was reached and that it is only now that that stage is being reached. The action of evolutionary nature in a type of being and consciousness is first to develop the type to its utmost capacity by a stabilization and increasing complexity till it is ready for bursting the shell, ripened decisive emergence and universal turning over of consciousness on itself.
According to Sri Aurobindo's spiritual theory of evolution, what man has achieved is that he has sharpened, subtilised and made an increasingly complex and plastic use of his capacities. All that he has so far developed can be regarded as a process of developing the human type to its utmost capacity, and it is only now that it has ripened for a decisive emergence or mutation. It is not contended that the whole human race is ready to rise en masse to the supramental level. What is suggested is nothing so revolutionary or astonishing, but the capacity in the human mentality, when it has reached a certain level or a certain point of stress of the evolutionary impetus, to press towards a higher plane of consciousness and its embodiment in the being. It has been further suggested that the urge of man towards self-exceeding is not likely ever to die out totally in the race, and that the human mental status will always be there, not only as a degree in a scale but also as an open step towards the spiritual and supramental status.
According to Sri Aurobindo, man is a transitional being, and his mind is capable of opening to what exceeds it, and therefore, there is no reason why man himself should not arrive at Supermind and supermanhood or at least lend his mentality, life and body to an evolution of the supermind.
Sri Aurobindo's theory of spiritual evolution is not merely a philosophical theory, but the uniqueness of this
theory is that Sri Aurobindo and The Mother have developed this theory on the basis of a long and a difficult process of experimentation. During the course of this experimentation, they have found it necessary to develop new objects and new methods of yoga, even while incorporating in a suitable manner the objects and methods of yogic systems of the past. As a result, a new synthesis of yoga, involving a long programme of experiments by evolving supramental action in the body itself has been undertaken. It is also envisaged that even the human body will undergo mutation, so that it can be no longer a clamorous animal and impeding clod it now is, but become instead a conscious servant and radiant instrument and living form of the Spirit.