Sunday, September 09, 2007

It will be wrong to lay too much stress on the early formulations that set the pace of the Avataric mission

Record: A Comment by RY Deshpande on Sat 08 Sep 2007 08:07 AM PDT Profile Permanent Link Instead of talking about the aspect of the authentication and the controversy about the publication of the Record of Yoga, I will rather say something about the historical perspective which we must keep in mind while going through it. It must be emphasised that many things, many great and radical things of a fundamental nature happened in the yoga-tapasya of Sri Aurobindo and the Mother as their work advanced. It will therefore be wrong to lay too much stress on the early formulations that set the pace of the Avataric mission. Let me make here a brief comment in that respect.
Two great events had preceded the arrival of Sri Aurobindo in Pondicherry, in 1910. He had just in one year experienced both the passive and active aspects of the Brahman, something that takes years and years of yogic sadhana. The first was during his brief visit to Baroda in January 1908 when he was actively engaged in the independence movement of India. Here the Yogi Vishnu Bhaskar Lele gave him some instructions about silencing the mind. Within three days he had the realization, of the static Brahman. The other happened not too long afterwards, in Alipore Jail. Sri Aurobindo was charged for acts of sedition and from May 1908 was an undertrial prisoner for one year. In the Jail he had experience of the dynamic nature of the Brahman. During the same period something more remarkable happened. The spirit of Vivekananda would visit him for a fortnight and point out at a bright star up in the sky. Sri Aurobindo came to know the working of the Higher Consciousness leading to Supermind.
It was in the Jail that Sri Aurobindo saw Vasudeva everywhere, in trees, plants, men, in the prisoners, in the court, in all. Here the Gita was placed in his hands and here he received the spiritual guidance directly from its author. This incarceration had for a while shaken his faith in the protection he believed he unfailingly had while he was in the midst of his political activities. But an assuring voice advised him to wait and see. In truth, however, there was something else that was foreseen and planned for him. He grew calm in that reassurance. He was to renounce all self-will and become the Divine’s passive and faithful instrument. It is in that total submission that his tapas-will began to grow. It became an intense flame blazing in the day as much as in the night. The course of his life was now chartered for a different purpose altogether.
Not too long after his arrival in Pondicherry, and perhaps before 16 January 1912, a detailed programme of Yoga was given to him. This was called Sapta Chatushtaya or the Seven Tetrads,—a system consisting of twenty-eight elements put in seven groups. In their natural and logical order these Chatushtayas are the Chatushtayas of Samata (Equality), Shakti (Force or Power), Vijnana (Truth-Knowledge), Sharira (Body), Karma (Action), Brahman (Reality), and Siddhi (Accomplishment or Perfection). Later in the monthly Arya these seven Chatushtayas were briefly presented in the Yoga of Self-Perfection forming the fourth part of The Synthesis of Yoga. But soon when the yoga-tapasya of Sri Aurobindo and the Mother started to arrive at the nitty-gritty of the physical transformation, the Will of the Divine in the active dynamics became more and more luminously assertive. However, there was always the sense of robust pragmatism in the whole approach. For instance, in his noting dated 13 November 1913 of the Record we have rather a baffling statement of far reaching consequences. While on the one hand it clearly foresees great possibilities of the Avataric work, on the other there is also an unambiguous definition with regard to the results. Sri Aurobindo writes:
A clear distinction must now be made between the vidya-avidya-siddhi [Siddhi of Knowledge-Ignorance] which is constituted by the seven chatushtayas and the higher Amrita [Immortality] in which all limitation is removed and Death etc entirely cease. Only the first will in this life be entirely accomplished.
This could as well imply the limitation of the Seven Chatushtayas in so far as the higher Amrita is concerned. But then that was precisely the problem both Sri Aurobindo and the Mother were addressing in their long yogic pursuit. In this connection we may also recall the note Sri Aurobindo had written on 28 October 1934 apropos of his book The Yoga and its Objects which was first published in 1921. He clarifies that it represents just the early stage of sadhana and “only a part of it is applicable to the Yoga as it has at present taken form.” The clarification that only a part of it is applicable to the Yoga as it has at present taken form is significant. As this book and the Seven Chatushtayas belong to the same period 1912-1921, we should be cognizant of the historical perspective of these yogic formulations. We should also be aware of the fact that the sadhana of transformation was actually waiting for the Mother’s final arrival at Pondicherry. For the larger collective sadhana involving the difficulty of the lower nature and in view of the hostility that is there all around, it is very necessary that the psychic being emerge as its unfailing guide.
Belonging to the same early period we have a particularly significant prayer of the Mother, which is dated 15 December 1911. This was quite before she met Sri Aurobindo, which happened two years later in 1914. The prayer is an aspiration soliciting the Sun of Truth, the Supreme Light to

… pervade us entirely and illumine with its great brilliance our minds and hearts, all our thoughts and our actions.

It is remarkable that even before Sri Aurobindo and the Mother met, in the afternoon of 29 March 1914, there was already an identity of objective in their divine undertaking. This is important. As Sri Aurobindo writes in one of his letters, they were in material and spiritual contact with each other since his coming to Pondicherry. But the identity was in fact at a much deeper level. Even before the actual meeting took place she was significantly speaking of “us” in a few contexts. Thus we have the Mother’s revealing prayer of 11 January 1914:
I know that a day will come when Thou wilt transform all those who come to us (emphasis added); Thou wilt transform them so radically that, liberated completely from the bonds of the past, they will begin to live in Thee an entirely new life, a life made solely of Thee, with Thee as its sovereign Lord.
Again, on 11 August 1914 the Mother speaks of their being sent upon earth to prepare the Unknown’s ways. The Unknown One, she says, is waiting for the propitious hour of manifestation in which His Will will be done. Indeed, behind their coming together there was the Divine Will itself. It was in that Will, in that high samkalpa that everything was going to be worked out. That Will became dynamic in their wonderful undertaking.
In that Will was to be born the propitious hour. The gleaming foundation of the Integral or Purna Yoga is present in it. It is the Yoga that aims at divine perfection in this evolutionary creation and it is for that they had come. It is for that they passed through the portals of death, that there be life not governed by death but by the manifesting truth.
It means that as more and more the Tapas-Will of the Divine Yogi grew in course of the Sadhana, more and more did the Divine Shakti pour her transcendental powers in the spirit of the work. Not Knowledge, which in reality was already there, but Action of the luminous executive Force was what had to be brought into the operational mechanics. All his siddhis including even those of the early days truly pertain to this aspect of Action.
If in these siddhis of Sri Aurobindo we see an ascending series, then we also begin get an idea about the nature of the Integral Yoga of the Future itself. To make ourselves ready for the freer and greater functioning of the Divine Shakti in us is what we should be occupied with. Our life, life that is presently governed by Ignorance and Death, has to become an expression of the truth-conscient Being who is also the Being of Ananda. This has to happen even to the last bit of our physical existence. Even as we go from death to immortality, so too must that immortality rush into a thousand workings of this presently death-bound creation. Not the Vedantic power as the giver of liberation nor the eminent Tantric force to get mastery over nature, but the conscious superintendent Energy has to take charge of our being and our becoming, our swabhāva and swadharma.
We may mention here en passant what Sri Aurobindo wrote to Motilal Roy sometime in the middle of 1913. “Tantric Yoga is not yet of the first importance for us, the perfection of the basis of Vedanta is the one thing supremely important; for that cannot be perfect until this has been developed at least to a certain point.” Sri Aurobindo’s “not yet” is significant. His own focus was on Vedic-spiritual approach: His was the Purusha Yoga. But it is also true that control over the occult gives a definite precision to the spiritual. While the Mother herself acquired those siddhis of the occult in the earlier phase, her own approach was towards the psychic coming forward and taking charge of the sadhana. Later in the deeper context of the physical transformation the luminous occult had to be dealt with when the spiritual siddhi could provide the needed support or ādhāra. Ultimately it is the Shakti who is going to do the alchemic miracle of the physical transformation; it is her work. She has to be allowed to work in us. That indeed is the entire thrust of the sadhana.
There entered, as the sadhana and the siddhis progressed, newer dimensions which give another meaning and which carry other contents in the rush of the manifestive Will of the Supreme in this mortal creation. The Mind of Light and the Mother’s Japa-Yoga with the Mantra of Om Namo Bhagavate have a significance that cannot be gauged by the earlier formulations. In fact we should be appreciative of these factors while looking at the Record of Yoga. It has a very important place in the Yoga of Self-Perfection, but in the Yoga of Transformation it is the dynamic Will of the Supreme that becomes more and more operative in every place including the physical. The Record does not speak much of the psychic which is absolutely necessary, is indispensable, for the work to be done in the context of the evolutionary earth. RYD

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