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Sri Aurobindo

Sri Aurobindo to Dilip

Volume 2. 1934 – 1935

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Sri Aurobindo to Dilip: [Letters].- In 4 volumes.- Volume 2. 1934-1935 / Edited by Sujata Nahar and Shankar Bandyopadhyay.- Pune, 2005.- 405 p.- ISBN 81-85137-74-9 (4-volume set) ISBN 81-85137-99-4 (vol. 2)

This is the second of four volumes of correspondence between Sri Aurobindo and Dilip Kumar Roy, singer, musician, poet and writer. This volume scans only two years 1934-1935 as the correspondence between the Master and the disciple grew in volume, frequency and depth during this period.

What shines through these letters is Sri Aurobindo’s immense patience guiding Dilipda through his turbulence, his despondency, and nurturing with such tender care his latent talents. And the infinite love Sri Aurobindo and Mother poured on this over-sensitive but exceptional Being for his full blossoming. Here reason’s logic is countered with sounder logic. A gentle irony like a cool breeze blows away mind’s cobwebs. No insistence to toe his line. No judgment, always a clarity of vision. Comprehension. Compassion. Rarely a sigh escapes the Guru’s lips, “It is only divine Love which can bear the burden I have to bear.”

Note of Thanks

To: Mother and Sri Aurobindo

To: Revered Gobindo Gopal Mukhopadhyaya, Sanskritist, musician, who personally knew many spiritual personalities of the epoch. Without his constant affectionate encouragement we do not know when these letters would have seen the light of day. By the way, it was another Mukhopadhyay, Dr. Joygopal, who gave Dilip the final push when he was hesitating to take the plunge, because he had not got anything “tangible” from his Guru: “You are bargaining with the Divine?” The shaft went home, says Dilip.

To: Sri Shankar Bandopadhyay of Hari Krishna Mandir Trust, Pune, without whose sweet collaboration, nothing could have been properly done.

To: The Hari Krishna Mandir Trust for entrusting us with this work.

To: Sri Nirmal Nahar, for his prompt reply to our many queries. He shed light on many points and personalities for us.

Us means: Maryse Prat, Diane Lemoulant and me, yours truly. In fact, without Maryse’s attentive deciphering (not easy), typing and organizing the sequence of these letters, we would have been floating rudderless on a sea of papers. Because many of these letters were undated, and then some were scattered here and there in scrapbooks. A real jigsaw puzzle! Diane Lemoulant brought to bear her particular quality to this work by reading, checking, verifying. As for me, I added my bit, since I knew many of those then living in the Ashram.

We three made a good team. So again, at the end, our heartfelt gratitude to Mother and Sri Aurobindo who brought us together.

 

So as not to overdelay the publication of this second volume of letters, it became necessary to somewhat change our original plan. Instead of three, there will now be four volumes. The present volume has letters from 1934 and 1935 only. And when we could not fit in anywhere some undated, incomplete letters, we chose to put them in the Appendix along with the letters that should have gone in the first volume, but were omitted through oversight. Just a minimum of editing has been done. As we found many more of Dilip’s questions than for the first volume, they have been included. The reader will certainly enjoy his racy style of writing to Sri Aurobindo to which the Guru often replied in kind.

It may interest the reader to see the faces of the sadhaks whose names figure in several letters. We have included a few pictures.

To give the reader an inkling of the painstaking work needed, a page from one of the scrapbooks has been included.

Thank you all very much.

S.N.
6 October 2004

Preface

This is the second volume of Sri Aurobindo’s letters to Dadaji, Sri Dilip Kumar Roy. The first volume was published by us in August 2003. It covered the period between 1929 and 1933. This volume spans only two years 1934 and 1935 as the correspondence between the Master and the disciple grew in volume, frequency and depth during this period.

It will not be out of place here to highlight again the Divine force and Grace imparted concretely through these letters by a Guru, the Messianic “treasurer of superhuman dreams”1 to his cherished and receptive disciple who the Guru called “a friend and a son and part of his existence”. Sri Dilip Kumar illustrates this in his book “Sri Aurobindo Came to Me” which is a companion volume of reminiscence to these letters setting the context and circumstances, voicing his doubts and queries, stating his experiences and seeking the Guru’s help in his despondency which evoked, in response, these magnificent letters of his Gurudev. Sri Dilip Kumar writes:2

“The general reader, I feel, is likely to appraise the value of letters such as these in terms either of their weightiness of matter or profundity of wisdom. But to us, his disciples, every such communication was valued even more as a token of his Grace than for its other merits, as also because of the light it carried from the fount of his luminous personality, which we had grown to cherish. To me, personally, his letters radiating affection imparted something even more convincing – possibly because only such personal letters could convey to my sceptic mind the light of seerhood that hovered round him, through a receptive emotion which nothing short of an intimate contact with his soul of compassion could arouse. Besides, had he not written to me once: «I am certainly not helping you only with letters, but doing it whenever I get some time for concentration and I notice that when I can do it with sufficient energy and at some length there is a response.» Outsiders may not seize the import of this, but as I saw the effect of his concentration on and for me day after patient day, I had to believe in its concrete efficacy. Could it be otherwise when, time and time again, I experienced my glooms melting away like mists before sunrise and strength returning to me through his exhortation dripping every time the deep tenderness of his solicitude?”

The response of readers of “Sri Aurobindo to Dilip”, Vol.l has been heart-warming; we are positive that this second volume will be received with greater enthusiasm. Sri Aurobindo’s Grace and influence is not confined only to his direct disciples but it is far reaching. It is this vast influence of Sri Aurobindo across the Globe, for all time to come, that has been the motivating factor for the detailed publication of these letters.

In this context I would like to quote Madame Gabriela Mistral (Nobel laureate). She affirmed:

“In the midst of personal sorrow, Aurobindo brought me to religion. It may sound quaint that a non-christian should have opened the way to my religious consecration, but Aurobindo did.... Every people must have an Aurobindo, a man far above the people and yet identified with the aspiration of the people... My debt to India is very great and is due in part to Aurobindo.”

In bringing out these Letters Dr. Gobindo Gopal Mukhopadhyaya’s guidance, inspiration and encouragement are invaluable. We are grateful to him. We also gratefully acknowledge the dedicated work of “Mira Aditi” team under the guidance of Revered Satprem and Sujata Didi.

We offer our humble pranams to Sri Aurobindo and the Mother, Dadaji Sri Dilip Kumar Roy and Ma Indira Devi. We seek their blessings for our journey of the Spirit.

Dol Purnima
26th March 2005
Shankar Bandopadhyay
Hari Krishna Mandir

Dilip-Da

Sri Aurobindo, I heard, once said to Nirod-da that Dilip was among the four or five really beautiful men he had ever seen.

When I first saw him, though Father’s senior and nearing forty, Dilip-da was quite handsome. But more than anything else, what left a lasting impression in my nine-year-old heart was his warm personality: affectionate, graceful, generous, a heart of gold. It is well nigh seventy years now but I can still vividly recall how at once he put me at my ease (I was rather shy, you know!).

My father, Prithwi Singh Nahar, had taken Rajabhai (my brother Abhay) and me to the Ashram for the darshan of 21 February 1935, for Mother’s fifty-seventh birth anniversary. We were allotted a groundfloor room in Dilipda’s house, Trésor. He lived upstairs. And there, every morning of our stay, he gave us a big breakfast. The table in the veranda (see picture on facing page) was loaded with all sorts of eatables of which I remember best the piled up dishes of toasted bread – delicious! Around the table we sat. Father at the head, facing east, where the flight of stairs from the ground floor ended; Dilipda facing south, his back to his room; I was to his right between him and my father. Across the table were my eleven-year-old brother, flanked on either side by a black-bearded Anilkumar and a shiny-pated Mânuda.

By the way, I spoke of Dilipda’s “room”. It would be more correct to call it a hall. Two big French windows opened onto a wide veranda with a magnificent view of the sea. It was in that hall, seated between the two windows, that Dilipda gave his weekly singing recitals – musical meditation – to twenty or thirty fellow disciples.

As we ate our breakfast, the elders talked; above my head of course. But the eyes seem to have clicked away and certain pictures remain unfaded. A sudden hush. Nolinida sedately coming up the stairs. Dressed in white dhoti, kurta and a cap on his head. He mounts the stairs, gives us a smile or a nod, declines the offer of a tea. “Dilip, here is a letter for you.” His work done, unhurriedly he goes down the stairs and out of the house. Such was Sri Aurobindo’s “Postman”.

Dilipda reads the letter silently. The others sip their tea or empty the dishes. Then Dilipda hands over the letter to my father, who too reads it silently then passes it on to Anilkumar. Suddenly we hear the sound of running footsteps. We all look. It is a breathless Nirod-da, bounding up the stairs. He is warmly welcomed. “Here, Dilipda” he says and puts his letter in Dilipda’s extended hand. He too has been visited by Sri Aurobindo’s Postman. While others are reading the letter, Nirod-da does justice to the tea. Then an animated conversation breaks out. I listen uncomprehendingly.

My incomprehension did not stem from any language barrier – they were all Bengalis and spoke in Bengali – but from the subject matter itself. As I grew up, my mental faculties developed, my comprehension enlarged, I began to appreciate Dilipda’s wide-ranging interests. He was, to boot, an omnivorous reader (including Agatha Christie and P.G. Wodehouse!).

Many of Sri Aurobindo’s letters to Dilipda have been published, though partially, often subject-wise. It was Satprem who mooted the idea of publishing them in their entirety. Often enough he told me that Dilipda’s Sri Aurobindo Came to Me was the best book he read on Sri Aurobindo. So I was very happy when the present work came my way. Here we have the complete letters as Sri Aurobindo wrote them. The editing has been kept to a minimum as we were loath to change even a comma – except conceding a point to the present usage of deleting the comma before a dash.

Consistency, it is said, is the hobgoblin of little minds. Dilipda’s mind was by no means little, quite the opposite in fact. This book of letters offers us by far the most intimate glimpse we have been granted of the Guru. For, more than to anyone else, it was to Dilipda that Sri Aurobindo chose to disclose many details of his personal life. As well as confiding in him secrets concerning other disciples, over which we draw a curtain.

Dilipda had a bugbear, though: the Supramental. Because at the time he had not grasped Sri Aurobindo’s revolutionary aim. I understood that the animated discussion on that February day was about the possibility of the Supramental descent. To my father’s question Sri Aurobindo wrote back “I don’t think you need attach any value to what Dilip professes to think about the supramental.” And explained why that descent was “an inevitable necessity in the logic of things and is therefore sure.”3

Variety, Sri Aurobindo says, is also the spice of Yoga. The reader can therefore look forward to a tasty fare.

Sometimes it does make for a painful reading. But we let them stand as they are, since we all share alike certain human weaknesses, so that every reader may profit by these letters. Some letters, like that of 17 February 1934, tug at our heart. The years 1934-1935 were crucial years for the world. Little noticed by the common man, Hitler and Mussolini, Nazism and Fascism were gathering force before breaking into a furious, whirling maelstrom that would soon hit the world, sweeping all before it. And in the invisible, occult plane Sri Aurobindo and Mother were fighting the rising of the Dark; so that the children of Wotan do not wholly possess the world.

We all harbour in us conflicting persons. In Dilipda’s case, there was a constant tussle between his western educated disbelieving intellect and his ancestral Hindu emotion of Vaishnava bhakti.

What shines through these letters is Sri Aurobindo’s immense patience of guiding Dilipda through his turbulence, his despondency, and nurturing with such tender care his latent talents. And the infinite love Sri Aurobindo and Mother poured on this over-sensitive but exceptional Being for his full blossoming.

When Sri Aurobindo and Mother speak of a person’s beauty it is as much of the inner as of the outward beauty. Dilipda was indeed a beautiful person.

Mother and Dilipda? When Dilipda “pranamed” Mother it was a feast for the eyes of the onlookers and the gods. During the general pranam held on the groundfloor meditation hall in the morning, when Dilipda went to Mother it was almost ritualistic. He would comfortably sit on the floor, take off his spectacles, put them aside, and lay his head on Mother’s lap. Mother would put her hand on his head, stroke it gently, and then both of them go off into some unknown world with her right palm on his head. We would look on entranced at the Tenderness incarnate of Divine Love.

Sri Aurobindo and Dilipda? An infinitude of Knowledge answering finite’s myriad questions. Never linear, always spherical. Each droplet sparkling like a many-facetted diamond. Always unassuming, never imposing. Reason’s logic is countered with sounder logic. A gentle irony like a cool breeze blows away mind’s cobwebs. No insistence to toe his line. No judgment, always a clarity of vision. Comprehension. Compassion. Rarely, a sigh escapes the Guru’s lips, “It is only divine Love which can bear the burden I have to bear.”

Sujata Nahar
19 October 2004
(Mahasashti 1411)

 

1934 (?)

I made no mistake at all. Your inner being is quite capable of Yoga and in your experiences there were plenty of proofs of it. It is your outer being that is making all the trouble and putting up a big fight against the inner destiny. But that happens to many people who turn out very good Yogis in the end. So that is no ground whatever for your not staying here. What I have written before was written on the basis of what I saw and still see. If I thought there was no chance for you I would tell you so.

 

January 2, 1934

There is no other cause of these fits of despair than that you allow a certain kind of suggestions to lay hold of you instead of rejecting them and, once they get in they rage there for a time. Why not, instead of indulging and entertaining them, recognise that they are inimical to your aim, things that rush on you from outside, and refuse to give them hospitality – as you would treat now a strong sex attitude or other disturbing force? It is precisely because it is foreign to your real temperament and nature that you ought to recognise it as an enemy attack and repulse it.

You need not imagine that we shall ever lose patience or give you up – that will never happen. Our patience, you will find, is tireless because it is based on an unbounded sympathy and love. Human love may give up, but divine love is stable and does not falter. We know that the aspiration of your psychic being is sincere and the falterings of the vital cannot affect the support that we shall always give to it. It is because the sincere aspiration is there that we have no right and you have no right to disbelieve in your adhikāra [fitness] for the Yoga.

To stop coming to Pranam would be quite the wrong thing – it is a suggestion that always comes to push people away from the helping Force. Do not yield to it.

These difficulties do not last for ever – they exhaust themselves and disappear. But to reject them always when they come is the quickest way to get rid of them for ever.

 

January 4, 1934

Laboured again a little at the ass, but could not finish him. Very sorry, but my Sunday this time was hardly a day of rest – all arrears, urgent questions, problems to solve – more interesting than daily correspondence, but very time-taking. Don’t fear, however, I shall be obstinate as the ass myself this time and resolutely toil to the finish.

 

January 6, 1934

There is no reason why the passage about Buddhism should be omitted. It gives one side of the Buddhistic teaching which is not much known or is usually ignored, for that teaching is by most rendered as Nirvana (śūnyavāda [nihilism]) and a spiritualised humanitarianism. The difficulty is that it is these sides that have been stressed especially in the modern interpretations of Buddhism and any strictures I may have passed were in view of these interpretations and that one-sided stress. I am aware of course of opposite tendencies in the Mahayana and the Japanese cult of Amitabha Buddha which is a cult of bhakti. It is now being said even of Shankara that there was another side of his doctrine – but his followers have made him stand solely for the Great Illusion, the inferiority of bhakti, the uselessness of Karma – jaganmithyā [the world is a lie].

The review is a very good one and the account of the aims of the Yoga quite sufficient for the purpose.

 

January 14, 1934

I do not find any difficulty in the flow of the poem – it seems to me to proceed throughout with a very harmonious ease. The poem is fine and original and the management of the metre seems to me very successful.

I had too much to do today in spite of it being Sunday – so I have not yet been able to read the other poem; I have to reserve it.

 

January 26, 1934

The doubt about the possibility of help is hardly a rational one, since all the evidence of life and of spiritual experience in the past and of the special experience of those, numerous enough who have received help from the Mother and myself, is against the idea that no internal or spiritual help from one to another or from a Guru to his disciple or from myself to my disciples is possible. It is therefore not really a doubt arising from the reason but one that comes from the vital and physical mind that is troubling you. The physical mind doubts all that it has not itself experienced and even it doubts what it has itself experienced if that experience is no longer there or immediately palpable to it – the vital brings in the suggestion of despondency and despair to reinforce the doubt and prevent clear seeing. It is therefore a difficulty that cannot be effectively combated by the logical reason alone, but best by the clear perception that it is a self-created difficulty – a self-formed or mental formation which has become habitual and has to be broken up so that you may have a free mind and vital, free for experience.

As for the help, you expect a divine intervention to destroy the doubt, and the divine intervention is possible, but it comes usually only when the being is ready. You have indulged to a great extreme this habit of the recurrence of doubt, this mental formation or saṃskār, and so the adverse force finds it easy to throw it upon you, to bring back the suggestion. You must have a steady working will to repel it whenever it comes and to refuse the tyranny of the saṃskār of doubt – to annul the force of its recurrence. I think you have hardly done that in the past, you have rather supported the doubts when they come. So for some time at least you must do some hard work in the opposite direction. The help (I am not speaking of a divine intervention from above but of my help and the Mother’s) will be there. It can be effective in spite of your physical mind, but it will be more effective if this steady working will of which I speak is there as its instrument. There are always two elements in spiritual success – one’s own steady will and endeavour and the Power that in one way or another helps and gives the result of the endeavour.

I will do what is necessary to give the help – you must receive. To say you cannot would not be true, for you have received times without number and it has helped you to recover.

 

January 27, 1934

Your idea that the Mother was displeased with you was an idea and nothing more. “Probably she has looked upon my sadness as a delinquency” – well, that is just the thing I want you to get rid of – imaginations like these which have no shadow of foundation whatever and which you yet persist in indulging each time you get out of wits – spiritually. What I want of you besides aspiring for faith? Well, just a little thoroughness and persistence in the method! Don’t aspire for two days and then sulk into the dumps, evolving a gospel of earthquake and Schopenhauer plus the jackal and all the rest of it. Give the Divine a full sporting chance. When he lights something in you or is preparing a light, don’t come in with a wet blanket of despondency and throw it on the poor flame. You will say, “It is a mere candle that is lit – nothing at all!” But in these matters, when the darkness of human mind and life and body has to be dissipated, a candle is always a beginning – a lamp can follow and afterwards a sun – but the beginning must be allowed to have a sequel – not get cut off from its natural sequelae by chunks of sadness and doubt and despair. At the beginning, and for a long time, the experiences do usually come in little quanta with empty spaces between – but, if allowed their way, the spaces will diminish, and the quantum theory give way to the Newtonian continuity of the spirit. But you have never yet given it a real chance. The empty spaces have been peopled with doubts and denials and so the quanta have become rare, the beginnings remained beginnings. Other difficulties you have faced and rejected, but this difficulty you have dandled too much for a long time and it has become strong – it must be dealt with by a persevering effort. I do not say that all doubts must disappear before anything comes – that would be to make sadhana impossible, for doubt is the mind’s persistent assailant. All I say is, don’t allow the assailant to become a companion, don’t give him the open door and the fireside seat. Above all, don’t drive away the incoming Divine with that dispiriting wet blanket of sadness and despair!

To put it more soberly – accept once and for all that this thing has to be done, that it is the only thing left for yourself or the earth. Outside are earthquakes and Hitlers and a collapsing civilisation and, generally speaking, the jackal in the flood. All the more reason to tend towards the one thing to be done, the thing you have been sent to aid in getting done. It is difficult and the way long and the encouragement given meagre? What then? Why should you expect so great a thing to be easy or that there must be either a swift success or none? The difficulties have to be faced and the more cheerfully they are faced, the sooner they will be overcome. The one thing to do is to keep the mantra of success, the determination of victory, the fixed resolve, “Have it I must and have it I will.” Impossible? There is no such thing as an impossibility – there are difficulties and things of longue haleine [long haul], but no impossibles. What one is determined fixedly to do, will get done now or later – it becomes possible.

There – that is my counter blast to your variation on Schopenhauer. To come to less contentious matters – of course Bindu can come – he will always be welcome; there is a good downstairs room – he might take that? I will consider the application of force to your tenant and your (or your father’s) translator. Tough things though – tenants and [?] translators (I suppose too both in these days of depression are short of cash) – but, well there is nothing impossible!!

Your fable and your transformation of the Sanskrit apophthegm are entertaining. I conclude – drive out dark despair and go bravely on with your poetry, your novels – and your Yoga. As the darkness disappears, the inner doors will open.

 

January 29, 1934

Once upon a time, Guru, there was a foolish ass who lived in the neighbourhood of a wise Yogi. One day a sudden flood burst the banks of a river nearby and flooded the countryside. The wise Yogi, being wise, ran up till he reached the safe top of a hill at the foot of which he used to meditate day and night in a cave. But the ass – being foolish, not to say unmeditative – was swept away by the rushing tides. “Alas!” he brayed, “the world is being drowned!” “Don’t be an ass,” reprimanded the Yogi in high scorn from up the hill-top. “It’s only you who are being drowned – not this big world.” “But Sir,” argued the idiot, “if I myself am drowned how can I be sure that the world will survive?” And the Yogi was struck dumb and wondered, for the first time, which was the deeper wisdom – the human or the asinine! And I too have started wondering on my own, Guru! So I appeal to you to adjudicate: tell me whose is the more pitiable plight: the Yogi’s or the ass’s? And incidentally, tell me also if my mind is going off the handle because I find the foolish ass’s argument nearly as rational as the wise Yogi’s?

Your wise but not overwise ass has put a question that cannot be answered in two lines and today is Monday when people take their revenge for Sunday’s forced abstinence. So I postpone the reply till tomorrow. Let me say however in defence of the much maligned ass that he is a very clever and practical animal and the malignant imputation of stupidity to him shows only human stupidity at its worst. It is because the ass does not do what man wants him to do even under blows that he is taxed with stupidity. But really the ass behaves like that first because he has a sense of humour and likes to provoke the two-legged beast into irrational antics and secondly, because he finds that what man wants of him is quite a ridiculous and bothersome nuisance which ought not to be demanded of any self-respecting donkey. Also the ass is a philosopher. When he hee-haws, it is out of a supreme contempt for the world in general and for the human imbecile in particular. I have no doubt that in the asinine language “man” has the same significance as ass in ours. These deep and original considerations are however by the way – merely meant to hint to you that your balancing between the wise man and the wise ass is not so alarming a symptom after all.

 

February 11, 1934

Krishnaprem’s letters as usual are interesting and admirable in substance and expression – and, in addition, there is an immense increase in comprehensiveness and wideness. His point about the intellect’s misrepresentation of the “Form-less” (the result of a merely negative expression of something that is inexpressibly intimate and positive) is very well made and hits the truth in the centre. No one who has had the Ananda of the Brahman can do anything but smile at the charge of coldness; there is an absoluteness of immutable ecstasy in it, a concentrated intensity of silent and inalienable rapture that it is impossible even to suggest to anyone who has not had the experience. The eternal Reality is neither cold nor dry nor empty – you might just as well talk of the midsummer sunlight as cold or the ocean as dry or perfect fullness as empty. Even when you enter into it by elimination of form and everything else, it surges up as a miraculous fullness that is truly the Pūrṇam – when it is entered affirmatively as well as by negation, there can obviously be no question of emptiness or dryness! All is there and more than one could ever dream of as the All. That is why one has to object to the intellect thrusting itself in as the sab-jāntā [all-knowing] judge; if it kept to its own limits, there would be no objection to it. But it makes constructions of words and ideas which have no application to the Truth, babbles foolish things in its ignorance and makes its constructions a wall which refuses to let in the Truth that surpasses its own capacities and scope.

*

(This is but a part of Krishnaprem’s letter to Dilip, dated February 1st, 1934. We hope this is enough to give the reader an insight into Sri Aurobindo’s remarks.)

You raise some interesting points in regard to “expression” and “silence”, but at the same time, you seem to have slightly misunderstood me. I was urging that poetic expression can sometimes deal with realms in which philosophy cannot breathe. To me, at least, it is a necessity which I can scarcely avoid. But I did want to emphasise that our philosophic dialectic, logic etcetera are far too coarse to deal with the higher levels of Reality. It is easy to cut things with the snip-snap of one’s philosophical arguments, but too often we are merely cutting the air. Even the scientists are now finding that reality eludes them. And what is the significance of the square root of minus one which plays so essential a part in modern physics? To my mind it suggests most emphatically that there is a fundamental suprarational element that enters in at the conversion or zero point between appearance and reality or, to be more exact, between appearance on this level and one level “higher up”. I make this last qualification because I do not believe that the absolute Reality lies, as it were, next door to the world – except in a certain very ultimate sense, but there are many grades of “reality” (or appearance) in between. To the intellect the square root of minus one has no meaning (at least none to my intellect) but certainly it must have a meaning or it would not be as useful as it is to modern physics.

You speak of the “silence” of the Buddha which you contrast with “expression”. But if Buddha had not “expressed”, then we should not have five hundred million (or whatever it is) Buddhists living today. In truth he expressed a great deal and it was only on certain ultimate problems that he remained silent because they cannot be expressed in words – not at least in logical words. Symbolism is another matter. You say: “Suppose Buddha were a formless being under a formless tree in a formless Gaya; would we feel the same thrill at his silence?”

Well, in reality, that is just what He is in one aspect. This is the meaning of the doctrine of the Dharmakāya and of the “docetism” that marked so many Mahāyāna and also Christian Gnostic schools. But for most this Formless remains a mere matter of words and is, consequently, a falsity. Without experience, the “formless” is an empty abstraction, cold like all such, and shot through with the falsity and unreality that pervades all our purely intellectual concepts. We must use them but they only gain significance when life flows into them. In reality, they are neither cold nor abstract. It is our process of acquiring and using them that makes them so. We abstract by a process of negation and then wonder that the result is cold and negative. Our whole process stays on the purely intellectual level. When we say that Krishna is nirākāra we have only said what He is not. But our positive statements are equally delusive. When we say that He is ānandamaya we equally miss the reality because most men do not know what ananda is. They only know pleasure. They try to understand ananda in terms of pleasure and hence you get the materialising of the spiritual that marks so much of ordinary Vaishnava thought just as from the misuse of negation you get the coldness of so much Vedantic thought. The root of the trouble is just the mistaking of intellectual concepts for reality. When a man has seen something even of the Reality – call him Krishna or Buddha or Brahman – he then knows what is meant. He knows how He is nirākāra but not cold and how He is ānandamaya but not mere pleasure. Till we get experience and knowledge we shall always be in unreality however lofty our conceptions may be. The Vedantin despises the Vaishnava for the latter’s concreteness and the Vaishnava spits at the Vedantin saying it is all cold. One says “I don’t want” and the other says “I want.” Damn all their “wants” and “don’t wants”; they are quite irrelevant. These “wants” and “don’t wants” do all the damage. It is not what we want that matters but what He wills, which is quite a different thing. All these concepts are so many suits of clothes. Unless we reach up to the Reality and fill them, they only serve for endless debate. What did the Rishi mean by saying He is nirākāra? What did the Buddha mean by anātman? What did the Vaishnavas mean by saying He is nikhilarasāmṛta mūrti?4 The answer to this question must be sought in experience, not in mere dialectic. When the light of experience streams in and fills the empty concepts, then and then only does recognition flow in like a sea and we can know why the above words are used āścaryavat paśyati kaścidenam [as wonderful, few see Him. Gita 2.29]. Then we can know why the ātma of the Upanishad means the same thing as the anātma of the Buddha and in a flash be free from the empty scholastic disputes that have filled the millennia. “Oh, but these are contradictions” – peevishly explains the intellect to which the only answer is: “Very likely they are, but you have dam’ well got to put up with them!”

I don’t mean at all to urge the contempt for the intellect which most Christians and some Vaishnavas have taught, but I do mean to say that the intellect is in itself a sort of formative or shaping machine. It can only work if it is supplied with material to shape and that material must come either from the sense-world below or from the spiritual world above.

In the meanwhile it seems to me as foolish to lose one’s emotion in the coldness of abstract negation as to fuddle one’s mind in the warmth of a (fundamentally) sensuous Goloka5.

These thoughts were suggested to me by the contrast you drew between the emotional singing of Chaitanya Deva and the silent meditation of the Buddha. Needless to say that the remarks in the paragraphs immediately above do not apply to these great Teachers but only to some of their followers.

You speak of a certain “shakiness at the idea of being immersed in a Timeless mute Akṣara Brahman”;6 but surely that is only because of our ignorance of what is meant by that experience and of a consequent misconception in terms of worldly experiences. That is where so many Vaishnavas as well as Vedantins go wrong. They quarrel furiously about words, about the expression, instead of bending their whole energy on an attempt to realise what is meant by the expression. In the words of an old Buddhist writer, “that is called confusing the moon with the finger that points to it.” (...)

In the last resort, this whole cosmos is but expression – Divine Expression, and in proportion as He, the kaviḥ purāṇah,7 is able to manifest in us, we shall ourselves automatically become centres of expression. Till then, our productions whether in the realm of poetry, philosophy or art, are but the play of children, funerals where none is dead and marriage where there is no bride. (...)

 

February 13, 1934

I saw a strange dream last night. First I dreamed a nice dream about you and Mother, which I remembered on waking up at 2 a.m. but can’t remember now. But the second was very fine and made a great impression on me. It was due I suppose to Mother’s telling me about Krishna’s hands offering her the “sunflower” for me which of course overjoyed me (that even Krishna took some notice of the poor fellow). I saw I was praying fervently with tears in my eyes for Krishna; asking him to show himself for once and not remain unconvincingly invisible (through grace or not) when my eyes were concentrated on the sky (I think) and first a spot of light appeared, next lo! the silhouette of a fine figure on a horse flashing past the sky. I remember its dark silhouette made a great impression on me – particularly as it looked so fine on the horse. I take it to be some shadow of Krishna maybe – or perhaps it is too much to expect even Krishna’s silhouette even in dream? Anyway the impression it gave me in the dream was that it was Krishna’s head that appeared in response to my prayer – for it appeared just when I was on the verge of despondency that the Divine never heard our prayers and we deluded ourselves (wish-fulfilment?) that He did.

It was obviously an answer to the prayer – such dream-experiences always are and the impression of the inner being in the dream is not usually mistaken.

 

February 17, 1934

I had no intention of sarcasm or banter, but simply meant to say that such deprivations can be used as opportunities for evolving the necessary capacity of the inner being.

I have not wantonly stopped the books8 or free letter-writing nor have I become impatient with you or anyone. I am faced with a wanton and brutal attack on my life-work from outside9 and I need all my time and energy to meet it and do what is necessary to repel it during these days. I hope that I can count not only on the indulgence but on the support of those who have followed me and loved me, while I am thus occupied, much against my will.

I do hope you will not misunderstand me, I have not altered to you in the least and if I wrote laconically it was because I had no time to do otherwise.

My prohibition of long letters was of a general character and I had to issue it so that the stoppage of the books might not result in a flood of long letters which would leave me no time for making the concentration and taking the steps I have to take. I have said that you can send your poems and write too when you feel very urgent need – I had no feeling to the contrary at all.

 

March 13, 1934

But why be overwhelmed by a wealth of any kind of experiences? What does it amount to after all? The quality of a sadhak does not depend on that; one great spiritual realisation direct and at the centre will often make a great sadhak or Yogi – a host of intermediate yogic experiences will not, that has been amply proved by a troop of instances, I refrain from giving names. You need not therefore compare that wealth to your poverty. To open yourself to the descent of the higher consciousness (the true being) is the one thing needed and that, even if that comes after long effort and many failures is better than a hectic gallop leading nowhere.

 

March 13, 1934

You have missed my rather veiled hint about wealth of “any kind of experiences” and the reference to the intermediate zone which, I think at least, I made. I was referring to the wealth of that kind of experience of which Govindabhai’s MS abounds and of which Bejoy, to give only one example, had some hundred every day. I do not say that these experiences are always of no value, but they are so mixed and confused that if one runs after them without any discrimination at all they end by either leading astray – sometimes tragically astray – or by bringing one into a confused nowhere10. [There have been so many instances in the Ashram itself that I would have only the embarras du choix11 if I wanted to give examples.] That does not mean all experiences are useless or without value. There are those that are sound as well as those that are unsound; those that are helpful, in the true line, sometimes sign-posts, sometimes stages on the way to realisation, sometimes stuff and material of the realisation. These naturally and rightly one seeks for, calls, strives after – or at least one opens oneself in the confident expectation that they will sooner or later arrive. Your own main experiences may have been few or not continuous, but I cannot recollect any that were not sound or were unhelpful. I would say that it is better to have a few of these than a multitude of others. My only meaning in what I wrote was not to be impressed by mere wealth of experiences or to think that that is sufficient to constitute a great sadhak or that not to have this wealth is necessarily an inferiority, a lamentable deprivation or a poverty of the one thing desirable.

There are two classes of things that happen in Yoga – realisations and experiences. Realisations are the reception in the consciousness and the establishment there of the fundamental truths of the Divine, of the Higher or Divine Nature, of the world-consciousness and the play of its forces, of one’s own self and real nature and the inner nature of things, the power of these things growing in one till they are a part of one’s inner life and existence. As for instance, the realisation of the Divine Presence, the descent and settling of the higher Peace, Light, Force, Ananda in the consciousness, their workings there – the realisation of the divine or spiritual love, the perception of one’s own psychic being, the discovery of one’s own true mental being, true vital being, true physical being, the realisation of the overmind or the supramental consciousness, the clear perception of the relation of all these things to our present inferior nature and their action on it to change that lower nature. The list, of course, might be infinitely longer. These things also are often called experiences when they only come in flashes, snatches or rare visitations; they are spoken of as full realisations only when they become very positive or frequent or continuous or normal.

Then there are the experiences that help or lead towards the realisation of things spiritual or divine or bring openings or progressions in the sadhana or are supports on the way. Experiences of a symbolic character, visions, contacts of one kind or another with the Divine or with the workings of higher Truth, things like the waking of the Kundalini, the opening of the chakras, messages, intuitions, openings of the inner powers, etc. The one thing that one has to be careful about is to see that they are genuine and sincere and that depends on one’s own sincerity – for if one is not sincere, if one is more concerned with the ego or being a big Yogi or becoming a superman than with meeting the Divine or getting the Divine consciousness which enables one to live in or with the Divine, then a flood of pseudos or mixtures comes in, one is led into the mazes of the intermediate zone or spins in the grooves of one’s own formations. There is the truth of the whole matter.

Then why does Krishnaprem say that one should not hunt after experiences, but only love and seek the Divine? It simply means that you have not to make experiences your main aim, but the Divine only your aim – and if you do that, you are more likely to get the true helpful experiences and avoid the wrong ones. If one seeks mainly after experiences, his Yoga may become a mere self-indulgence in the lesser things of the mental, vital and subtle physical worlds or in spiritual secondaries, or it may bring down a turmoil or maelstrom of the mixed and the whole or half-pseudo and stand between the soul and the Divine. That is a very sound rule of sadhana. But all these rules and statements must be taken with a sense of measure and in their proper limits – it does not mean that one should not welcome helpful experiences or that they have no value. Also when a sound line of experience opens, it is perfectly permissible to follow it out, keeping always the central aim in view. All helpful or supporting contacts in dream or vision, such as those you speak of, are to be welcomed and accepted. I had no intention of discouraging, nor do I think Krishnaprem had any idea of discouraging such things at all. Experiences of the right kind are a support and help towards the realisation; they are in every way acceptable.

P.S. I fear this is as illegible as ever – especially as the ink turned confoundedly faint which I did not notice in the heat of composition and the haste of finishing in time. I shall get Nolini to type it, so as to save as much bewilderment as possible.

 

March 15, 1934

Please don’t be nervous about encouraging me in a new role. Je ne le jouerai point une autre fois, je vous assure [I won’t play it another time, I assure you]. But once a part is played it ought to be offered to the Divine in the Guru as I thought of you both devoutly while cooking.

The content of such an unheard-of adventure: the adventure of a poet-musician suddenly cooking? Well, Bindu challenged me I couldn’t cook and he could – because I have never cooked in my life. So I have cooked. (Confidentially, between you and me, Amiya12 gave me a few whispering directions, but don’t divulge it.) It tastes – well, it behoves me not to opine about my own handiwork. But I will assure you simply – the experience of cooking has not been quite as delectable as doing justice to it invariably is to me.

Your cooking is remarkable and wonderful – if you had not disclosed the secret about Amiya’s whispers, I could have been inclined to claim it as a Yogic miracle. Even with the whispers, it is an astonishing first success, āścaryavat paśyati kaścidenam! My palate and stomach as well as my pen have done full justice to the event.

 

March 23, 1934

I have just received a letter from Biren Roy Chowdhuri13 who had a talk with Tagore in which he told him a good many things about you and his conception of you. Briefly it is this, Biren writes, “Rabindranath has a strand of atheism in his composition: he admits the nirākār brahma [formless Brahman] on the one hand and this material world of forms on the other. Beyond this nothing. It is true his verses depict some ideas and perceptions in between, but he himself looks upon these as creations of his imagination – phantasy that is. His religious belief is powerfully tinged by Brahmoism (or rather brahmo-prabhāv). The result is that he finds himself unable to admit the Devas and their worlds which are supraphysical relative to our world of the senses.”

What do you think of this? Is Biren’s impression correct? Tagore is a humanitarian but I didn’t take him to be atheistic?

I suppose he is not an atheist; Brahmo-prabhàv [influence of brahmoism] and Nirākār Brahma [Formless Brahman] are not atheism – but I suppose his beliefs are rather thin and vague. His idealism even is just idealism – it is good for the mind and soul to have “spiritual” ideas, but this cannot be put into concrete practice. I am told that he once expressed that idea.

But Tagore is I think fairly right in looking upon his spiritual poems not born of realisation but kalpanā jagater [the world of imagination]. It is interesting to know that he admits this. For Nolini told me this long ago that his so-called spiritual poems were more imaginative and colourful than psychic. What do you say to this?

Well, yes, he mentalises, aestheticises, sentimentalises the things of the spirit – but I can’t say that I have ever found the expression of a concrete spiritual realisation in his poetry – though ideas, emotions, ideal dreams in plenty. That is something, but –

Biren writes, “About Sri Aurobindo Tagore said that it has lately seemed to him that Sri Aurobindo was steadily delving deeper and ever deeper into the strata of the inner realms, and added that probably his nature was responsible for this. He wound up by saying that it was probably a mistake to claim him for our world of action. In a word, Tagore and the Tagorians have, by now, all but given up Sri Aurobindo for lost – as one irreclaimable. They have got this idée fixe now rooted in their minds that «Sri Aurobindo’s wings have become atrophied by his protracted seclusion in his meditative cage» – to quote Tagore – so that they have no longer the faith they once had that Sri Aurobindo was going to inaugurate a new era of creation in this world of fact.”

Just think of Tagore saying this in his similesque way!

I feel Tagore has come to this conclusion after reading your “Riddle of this World” which must have appeared to him more of a riddle than of an explanation. For formerly he wrote to me about you enthusiastically as a creator – sab shrishtikartāï eklā – Sri Aurobindo o tāï [All creators are lonely, so is Sri Aurobindo], etc.

I suspect also that Romain Rolland’s retraction has something to do with Tagore’s retraction – albeit private now, but I expect sooner or later he will write somewhere about your becoming a thorough introvert. There of course the whole Bengal intelligentsia (such as it is) will agree with him. Are you staggered at such a lugubrious prospect?

I cannot find any symptom of a stagger in me, not even of a shake or a quake or a quiver – all seems quite calm and erect, as far as I can make out. And I don’t find the prospect lugubrious at all – the less people expect of you and bother you with their false ideas and demands, the more chance one has to get something real done. It is queer these intellectuals go on talking of creation while all they stand for is collapsing into the Néant without their being able to raise a finger to save it. What the devil are they going to create and from what material? and of what use if a Hitler with his cudgel or a Mussolini with his castor oil can come and wash it out or beat it into dust in a moment?

 

March 23, 1934

I felt all day a tinge of regret re. Tagore – though I had all but expected it – knowing his positivistic rationalistic sceptical (and what not) intellectualism. Still, I had a regard for him and his views and his scepticism has, I suppose, some similarity with mine. So I ruminated a little pensively on his retraction of you. But what hurt me most is that other people should be sceptical about what I find myself doubting, e.g. the subjective and elusive and vague character of spiritual experiences and their seeming so far away to us mortals. When I think on these lines (the physical mind alas!), I justify such doubts and think it legitimate to have some translation of these in the world of hard reality. But when I find Tagore and Rolland and Russell express the same kind of doubts I feel I love you very much and all that you stand for, however doubtful validity your claim of the Supramental Reality might have seemed to me, before. Yes, it is strange but true. Nevertheless I feel a tinge of regret, even of sadness, that others don’t realise how great you are and are so impatient – even though I happen to be more impatient than they...

Russell has his doubts because he has no spiritual experience. Rolland because he takes his emotional intellectuality for spirituality; as for Tagore – if one is blind, it is quite natural for the human intelligence which is rather an imbecile thing at its best – to deny light; if one’s highest natural vision is that of glimmering mists, it is equally natural to believe that all high vision is only a mist or a glimmer. But Light exists for all that – and for all that spiritual Truth is more than a mist and a glimmer.

 

March 24, 1934

I am not sure that it is very discreet to send these obiter dicta [incidental remarks] outside; I think it would be better to keep these up your sleeve as an indiscretion would very easily set them rolling till they got a semi-public character. While such obiter dicta are all right with regard to poems and problems and happenings, they can only be passed under seal of privacy on persons, most of all persons in public view. So, let the seal be there. Obiter dicta of this kind are after all only side-flashes – not a judgment balanced and entire.

I don’t think we should hastily conclude that Tagore is passing over to the opposite camp. He is sensitive and perhaps a little affected by the positive robustuous, slogan-fed practicality of the day – he has passed through Italy and Persia and was feted there. But I don’t see how he can turn his back on all the ideas of a life-time. After all he has been a wayfarer towards the same goal as ours in his own way – that is the main thing, the exact stage of advance and the putting of the steps are minor matters. So let there be no clash, if possible. Besides he has had a long and brilliant day – I should like him to have as peaceful and undisturbed a sunset as may be. His exact position as a poet or a prophet or anything else will be assigned by posterity and we need not be in haste to anticipate the final verdict. The immediate verdict after his death or soon after it may very well be a rough one – for this is a generation that seems to take a delight in trampling with an almost Nazi rudeness on the bodies of the Ancestors, especially the immediate ancestors. I have read with an interested surprise that Napoleon was only a bustling and self-important nincompoop all whose great achievements were done by others, that Shakespeare was “no great things” and that most other great men were by no means so great as the stupid respect and reverence of past ignorant ages made them out to be! What chance has then Tagore14?

As for your question, Tagore of course belonged to an age which had faith in its ideas and whose very denials were creative affirmations. That makes an immense difference. Your strictures on his later development may be correct, but this mixture even was the note of the day and it expressed a tangible hope of fusion into something new and true – therefore it could create. Now all that has been smashed to pieces and its weaknesses exposed – but nobody knows what to put in its place. A mixture of scepticism and slogans, “Heil-Hitler” and the Fascist salute and Five-Year Plan and the beating of everybody into one amorphous shape, a disabused denial of all ideals on one side and on the other a blind “shut-my-eyes and shut-everybody’s-eyes” plunge into the bog in the hope of finding something there, will not carry us very far. And what else is there? Until new spiritual values are discovered, no big creation is possible.

 

March 25, 1934

The first step is a quiet mind – silence is a further step, but quietude must be there; and by a quiet mind I mean a mental consciousness within which sees thoughts arrive to it and move about but does not itself feel that it is thinking or identifying itself with the thoughts or call them its own. Thoughts, mental movements may pass through it as wayfarers appear and pass from elsewhere in a silent country – the quiet mind observes them or does not care to observe them but does not become active or lose its quietude. Silence is more than quietude; it can be gained by banishing thought altogether from the inner mind keeping it quite outside; but more easily it comes by a descent from above – one feels it coming down entering and occupying or surrounding the personal consciousness.

As for the subconscient that is best dealt with when the opening of the consciousness to what comes down from above is complete. Then one becomes aware of the subconscient as a separate domain and can bring down into it the Silence and all else that comes from above.

 

April 1934

But after all, without putting forth eighteen visible arms, (perhaps, since it is a symbol, by putting them forth internally) I hope to become one day so divine even in the body consciousness that I shall be able to satisfy everybody! But you can’t hurry a transformation like that. I must ask for time.

Why do you always insist on cherishing the idea that I refuse all human love? I have surely written to you to the contrary. I don’t reject it, neither human nor vital love. But I want that behind the vital there shall be the constant support of the psychic human love (not all at once the divine), because that alone can prevent the movements which make you restless, obscured and miserable. In asking this I am surely not asking anything excessive or beyond your power.

 

April 1934

It is only divine love which can bear the burden I have to bear, that all have to bear who have sacrificed everything else to the one aim of uplifting earth out of its darkness towards the Divine. The Galileo-like “je m’en fiche”-ism [I do not care] would not carry me one step; it would certainly not be Divine. It is quite another thing that enables me to walk unweeping and unlamenting towards the goal.

 

April 9, 1934

I spoke of a strong central and, if possible, complete faith because your attitude seemed to be that you only cared for the full response – that is, realisation, the Presence, regarding all else as quite unsatisfactory, and your prayer was not bringing you that. But prayer in itself does not usually bring that at once – only if there is a burning faith at the centre or a complete faith in all the parts of the being. That does not mean that those whose faith is not so strong or surrender complete cannot arrive, but usually they have at first to go by small steps and to face the difficulties of their nature until by perseverance or tapasya they make a sufficient opening. Even a faltering faith and a slow and partial surrender have their force and their result, otherwise only the rare few could do sadhana at all. What I mean by the central faith is a faith in the soul or the central being behind, which is there even when the mind doubts and the vital despairs and the physical wants to collapse, and after the attack is over reappears and pushes on the path again. It may be strong and bright, it may be pale and in appearance weak, but if it persists each time in going on, it is the real thing. Fits of despair and darkness are a tradition in the path of sadhana – in all Yogas oriental or occidental they seem to have been the rule. I know all about them myself – but my experience has led me to the perception that they are an unnecessary tradition and could be dispensed with if one chose. That is why whenever they come in you or others I try to lift up before them the gospel of faith. If still they come, one has to get through them as soon as possible and get back into the sun. Your dream of the sea was a perfectly true one – in the end the storm and swell do not prevent the arrival of the state of Grace in the sadhak and with it the arrival of the Grace itself. That, I suppose is what something in you is always asking for – the supramental miracle of Grace, something that is impatient of the demand for tapasya and self-perfection and long labour. Well, it can come, it has come to several here after years upon years of blank failure and difficulty or terrible internal struggles. But it comes usually in that way – as opposed to a slowly developing Grace – after much difficulty and not at once. If you go on asking for it in spite of the apparent failure of response, it is sure to come.

 

April 10, 1934

Why should earthquakes occur by some wrong movement of man? When man was not there, did not earthquakes occur? If he were blotted out by poison gas or otherwise, would they cease? Earthquakes are a perturbation in Nature due to some pressure of forces; frequency of earthquakes may coincide with a violence of upheavals in human life but the upheavals of earth and human life are both results of a general clash or pressure of forces, one is not the cause of the other.

 

April 11, 1934

I am very glad to know that the energy has come in a full flow and I look forward to its results. I have observed that under your tuition15 Jyotirmayi has arrived at much ease and mastery of language and metre – Nirod also is writing well. They are getting the vehicle, the person to ride in it must arrive. Nirod has still too much of the traditional Bengali poet (modern) in his measure – he must get out of that. We want a new style and spirit – that is what I have hinted to him. I suppose it will come. I believe Sahana has the stuff in her, after she has got over the difficulty of the transit.

 

April 15, 1934

I have not read Ramdas’s16 writings nor am I at all acquainted with his personality or what may be the level of his experience. The words you quote from him could be expressions either of a simple faith or of a pantheistic experience; evidently, if they are used or intended to establish the thesis that the Divine is everywhere and is all and therefore all is good, being Divine, they are very insufficient for that purpose. But as an experience, it is very common thing to have this feeling or realisation in the Vedantic sadhana – in fact without it there would be no Vedantic sadhana. I have had it myself on various levels of consciousness and in numerous forms and I have met scores of people who have had it very genuinely – not as an intellectual theory or perception, but as a spiritual reality which was too concrete for them to deny whatever paradoxes it may entail for the ordinary intelligence.

Of course it does not mean that all here is good or that in the estimation of values a brothel is as good as an Ashram, but it does mean that all are part of one manifestation and that in the inner heart of the sage or saint there is the Divine. Again his experience is that there is One Force working in the world both in its good and in its evil – one Cosmic Force; it works both in the success (or failure) of the Ashram and in the success (or failure) of the brothel. Things are done in this world by the use of the force, although the use made is according to the nature of the user, one uses it for the works of Light, another for the work of Darkness, yet another for a mixture. I don’t think any Vedantin (except perhaps some modernised ones) would maintain that all is good here – the orthodox Vedantic idea is all is here an inextricable mixture of good and evil, a play of the Ignorance and therefore a play of the dualities. The Christian missionaries, I suppose, hold that all that God does is morally good, so they are shocked by the Taoist priests aiding the work of the brothel by their rites. But do not the Christian priests invoke the aid of God for the destruction of men in battle and did not some of them sing Te Deums over a victory won by the massacre of men and the starvation of women and children? The Taoist who believes in the Impersonal Tao is more consistent and the Vedantin who believes that the Supreme is beyond good and evil, but that the Cosmic Force the Supreme has put out here works through the dualities, therefore through both good and evil, joy and suffering, has a thesis which at least accounts for the double fact of the experience for the Supreme which is All Light, All Bliss and All Beauty and a world of mixed light and darkness, joy and suffering, what is fair and what is ugly. He says that the dualities come by a separative Ignorance and so long as you accept this separative Ignorance, you cannot get rid of that, but it is possible to draw back from it in experience and to have the realisation of the Divine in all and the Divine everywhere and then you begin to realise the Light, Bliss and Beauty behind all and this is the one thing to do. Also you begin to realise the one Force and you can use it or let it use you for the growth of the Light in you and others – no longer for the satisfaction of the ego and for the works of the ignorance and darkness.

As to the dilemma about the cruelty of things, I do not know what answer Ramdas would give. One answer might be that the Divine within is felt through the psychic being and the nature of the psychic being is that of the Divine light, harmony, love, but it is covered by the mental and separative vital ego from which strife, hate, cruelty naturally come. It is therefore natural to feel in the kindness the touch of the Divine, while the cruelty is felt as a disguise or perversion in Nature, although that would not prevent the man who has the realisation from feeling and meeting the Divine behind the disguise. I have known even instances in which the perception of the Divine in all accompanied by an intense experience of universal love or a wide experience of an inner harmony had an extraordinary effect in making all around kind and helpful, even the most coarse and hard and cruel17. Perhaps it is some such experience which is at the base of Ramdas’s statement about the kindness. As for the Divine Working, the experience of the Vedantic realisation is that behind the confused mixture of good and evil something is working that he realises as the Divine and in his own life he can look back and see that each step, happy or unhappy, [was?] meant for his progress and how it led towards the growth of his spirit. Naturally this comes fully as the realisation progresses; before that he had to walk by faith and may have often felt his faith fail and yielded to grief, doubt and despair for a time.

As for my writings, I don’t know if there is any that would clear up the difficulty. You would find mostly the statement of the Vedantic experience, for it is that through which I passed and, though now I have passed to something beyond the most thoroughgoing and radical preparation for whatever is beyond, though I do not say that it is indispensable to pass through it. But whatever the solution, it seems to me that the Vedantin is right in insisting that one must, to arrive at it, admit the two facts, the prevalence of evil and suffering here and the experience of that which is free from these things – and it is only by the progressive experience that one can get a solution – whether through reconciliation, a conquering descent or an escape, if we start from the basis taken as an axiom that the prevalence of suffering and evil in the present and in the hard, outward fact of things, disproves of itself all that has been experienced by the sages and mystics of the other side, the realisable Divine, then no solution seems possible.

 

April 29, 1934

I return you the cheque because if you want the Mother to take it, you will have to endorse it! The Bank has its own tax, but that is only Rs.2.8; the only disadvantage is that they won’t cash it, but put the money straight into Mother’s account.

I see you have let the demons of self-doubt and doubt in general and melancholy get inside again and sit down at your table. There is no other reason for your troubles than this readiness to listen to their knock and open the door. You speak of Harin18, but that is why Harin gets on because when they knock, he turns them out at once. If you resolutely do that, you will arrive also at security and perfect ease – for there are only two things that create insecurity – doubt and desire. If you desire only the Divine, there is an absolute certitude that you will reach the Divine. But all these questionings and repinings at each moment because you have not yet reached, only delay and keep an impeding curtain before the heart and the eyes. For at every step when one makes an advance, the opposite forces will throw the doubt like a rope between the legs and stop one short with a stumble – it is their métier to do that. One must not give them that advantage. Instead of saying “I want only the Divine, why is the Divine not already here,” one must say, “Since I want only the Divine, my success is sure, I have only to walk in all confidence and his own hand will be there secretly leading me to him by his own way and at his own time.” That is what you must keep as your constant mantra and it is besides the only logical and reasonable thing to do – for anything else is an irrational self-contradiction of the most glaring kind. Anything else one may doubt: whether the supermind will come down, whether this world can ever be anything but a field of struggle for the mass of men, these can be rational doubts – but that he who desires only the Divine shall reach the Divine is a certitude much more certain than that two and two make four. That is the faith every sadhak must have in the bottom of his heart, supporting him through every stumble and blow and ordeal. It is only false ideas still casting their shadow on your mind that prevent you from having it. Push them aside for good and see this simple inner truth in a simple and straightforward way – the back of the difficulty will be broken.

 

May 1934

The English language is not naturally melodious like the Italian or Bengali – no language with a Teutonic base can be – but it is capable of remarkable harmonic effects and also it can by a skilful handling be made to give out the most beautiful melodies. Bengali and Italian are soft, easy and mellifluous languages – English is difficult and has to be struggled with in order to produce its best effects, but out of that very difficulty has arisen an astonishing plasticity, depth and manifold subtlety of rhythm. These qualities do not repose on metrical structure, but on the less analysable elements of the rhythmic. The metrical basis itself is a peculiar combination by which English rhythm depends without explicitly avowing it on a skilful and most extraordinarily variable combination of three elements – the numeric foot dependent on the number of syllables, the use of the stress foot and a play of stresses, and a recognisable but free and plastic use of quantitative play (not quantitative feet), all three running into each other.

I am afraid your estimate here is marred by the personal or national habit. One is always inclined to make this claim for one’s own language because one can catch every shade and element of it while in another language, however well-learned, the ear is not so clairaudient. I cannot agree that the examples you give of Bengali melody beat hollow the melody of the greatest English lyricists. Shakespeare, Swinburne’s best work in Atalanta and elsewhere, Shelley at his finest and some others attain a melody that cannot be surpassed. It is a different kind of melody but not inferior.

Bengali has a more melodious basis, it can accomplish melody more easily than English, it has a freer variety of melodies now, for formerly as English poetry was mostly iambic, Bengali poetry used to be mostly akṣaravṛtta19. (I remember how my brother Manmohan would annoy me by denouncing the absence of melody, the featureless monotony of Bengali rhythm and tell me how Tagore ought to be read to be truly melodious – like English in stress, with ludicrous effects. That however is by the way.) What I mean is that variety of melodic bases was not conspicuous at that time in Bengali poetry. Nowadays this variety is there and undoubtedly opens possibilities such as perhaps do not exist in other languages.

I do not see, however, how the metrical aspect by itself can really be taken apart from other more subtle elements – I do not mean the bhāva [feeling] of the sense only, though without depth or adequacy there metrical melody is only a melodious corpse, but the bhāva or subtle (not intellectual) elements of rhythm and it is on these that English depends for the greater power and plasticity of its harmonic and even to a less extent of its melodic effects. In a word, there is truth in what you say but it cannot be pushed so far as you push it.

 

May 1934

I may say that purely vital poetry can be very remarkable. Many nowadays in Europe seem even to think that poetry should be written only from the vital (I mean from poetic sensations, not from ideas) and that that is the only pure poetry. The poets of the vital plane seize with a great vividness and extraordinary force of rhythm and phrase the life-power and the very sensation of the things they describe and express them to the poetic sense. What is often lacking in them is a perfect balance between this power and the other powers of poetry: intellectual, psychic, emotional, etc. There is something in them which gives an impression of excess – when they are great in genius, splendid excess but still not the perfect perfection.

 

May 4, 1934

(...) a bad headache – and can’t work much, which makes it sadder still with me. However, no more of that. If possible help me, I will try my best not to complain henceforward and pray to believe that it is all for the best and that the Divine has not abandoned me – though the prospects portend that.

Nishikanta has written a prārthanā [prayer] today which is very beautiful and I will send it to you tomorrow. He was asking me to remind you of him and to tell you that he somehow consoles himself with poetics and thus divert his growing melancholy. I let you know this as he prayed to me to do so.

I had put to you in my yesterday morning’s letter some questions on Vairāgya20 to which I had expected an answer. If you should have mislaid the letter it is thus:

Amal21 told me Vairagya was morbid and a friend of mine wrote to me in Yogic Sadhan you strongly disapproved of Vairagya. But I marvel how one could stick to spiritual life without an intense Vairagya. In my own case I find I have been favoured with not more than one concrete spiritual realisation: that is, Vairagya. But I believe it is this that has been my saviour, otherwise with my weak faith I would have run away like a shot. But it is this intense dislike of outside and the world that prevents. So how can I say it is undesirable – which is implied by Amal’s “morbid”?

As to Amal, a little bit of Vairagya on his part might have been very useful to him in getting rid of the vital bonds of K.D. Sethna which still cling around him and prevent his psychic being from occupying these fields of his nature. As to Yogic Sadhan, it is not my composition nor its contents the essence of my Yoga, whatever the publishers may persist in saying in their lying blush in spite of my protests.

I have objected in the past to Vairagya of the ascetic kind and the tamasic kind and by the tamasic kind I mean that spirit which comes defeated from life, not because it is really disgusted with life, but because it could not cope with it or conquer its prizes; for it comes to Yoga as a kind of asylum for the maimed or weak and to the Divine as a consolation prize for the failed boys in the world-class. The Vairagya of one who has tasted the world’s gifts or prizes but found them insufficient or finally tasteless and turns away towards a higher and more beautiful ideal or the Vairagya of one who has done his part in life’s battles but seen that something greater is demanded of the soul, is perfectly helpful and a good gate to the Yoga. Also the sattwic Vairagya which has learned what life is and turns to what is above and behind life. By the ascetic Vairagya I mean that which denies life and world altogether and wants to disappear into the Indefinite – I object to it for those who come to this Yoga because it is incompatible with my aim which is to bring the Divine into life. But if one is satisfied with life as it is, then there is no reason to seek to bring the Divine into life – so Vairagya in the sense of dissatisfaction with life as it is is perfectly admissible and even in a certain sense indispensable for my Yoga.

 

May 6, 1934

(...) As for his writing his poetry from the vital, he does it because it is his nature. He has been all his life the vital and sensational man, even his experiences and manner of seeking have been of that plane. That does not mean that he cannot do Yoga – many who are accounted great yogis never rise beyond that plane – but here it is not sufficient – even if the vital were to remain the leader, it would not be safe. He must make an outlet for his psychic being to manifest or at least to enlighten and purify this vital from behind so that to rise to a higher Consciousness will be no longer too difficult. How he is to do it I cannot tell him. If he has the sincere sincerity (not merely the vital eagerness) he will find the way.

 

May 8, 1934

Mother knew nothing about the occurrence regarding Nishikanta. Nolini acted on his own initiative, assuming I suppose that since he was allowed to come only once a week, he could not come two days running without express sanction.

But why allow anything to come in the way between you and the Divine, any idea, any incident; when you are in full aspiration and joy, let nothing count, nothing be of any importance except the Divine and your aspiration. If one wants the Divine quickly, absolutely, entirely, that must be the spirit of approach, absolute, all-engrossing, making that the one point with which nothing else must interfere.

What value have mental ideas about the Divine, ideas about what he should be, how he should act, how he should not act – they can only come in the way. Only the Divine Himself matters. When your consciousness embraces the Divine, then you can know what the Divine is, not before. Krishna is Krishna, one does not care what he did or did not do, only to see Him, meet Him, feel the Light, the Presence, the Love, the Ananda is what matters. So it is always for the spiritual aspirations – it is the law of the spiritual life.

Don’t waste time any longer in these ideas of the mind or in any starts of the vital – blow these clouds away. Keep fixed on the one thing indispensable.

 

May 8, 1934

I should like to say something about the Divine Grace – for you seem to think it should be something like a Divine Reason acting upon lines not very different from those of human intelligence. But it is not that. Also it is not a universal Divine Compassion either acting impartially on all who approach it and acceding to all prayers. It does not select the righteous and reject the sinner. The Divine Grace came to aid Saul of Tarsus the persecutor, to St. Augustine the profligate, to Jagai and Madhai of infamous fame, to Bilwamangal and many others whose conversion might well scandalise the puritanism of the human moral intelligence. But it can come to the righteous also – curing them of their self-righteousness and leading to a purer consciousness beyond these things. It is a power that is superior to any rule, even to the Cosmic Law – for all spiritual seers have distinguished between the Law and Grace. Yet it is not indiscriminate – only it has a discrimination of its own which sees things and persons and the right times and seasons with another vision than that of the Mind or any other normal Power. A state of Grace is prepared in the individual often behind thick veils by means not calculable by the mind and when the state of Grace comes then the Grace itself acts. There are these three powers: (1) The Cosmic Law of Karma or what else; (2) the Divine Compassion acting on as many as it can reach through the nets of the Law and giving them their chance; (3) the Divine Grace which acts more incalculably but also more irresistibly than the others. The only question is whether there is something behind all the anomalies of life which can respond to the call and open itself with whatever difficulty till it is ready for the illumination of the Divine Grace – and that something must be not a mental and vital movement but an inner somewhat which can well be seen by the inner eye. If it is there and when it becomes active in front, then the Compassion can act, though the full action of the Grace may still wait attending the decisive decision or change, for this may be postponed to a future hour, because some portion or element of the being may still come between, something that is not yet ready to receive.

 

May 20, 1934

If I have to answer fully all the points in your long letter, I fear it will take me until Doomsday – though that, according to some calculation is not far off. I will try to do it in a comparatively brief and unsatisfactory way. I have indeed written a good deal already. But as it may take me time to finish, I send an interim note.

I do not know why you should be suddenly bewildered by what I wrote – it is nothing new and we have been saying it since a whole eternity. I wrote this short answer in reference to a question which supposed that certain “perfections” must be demanded of the Divine Manifestation which seemed to me quite irrelevant to the reality. I put forward two propositions which appear to me indisputable unless we are to reverse all spiritual knowledge in favour of modern European ideas about things.

First, the Divine Manifestation even when it manifests in mental and human ways has behind it a consciousness greater than the mind and not bound by the petty mental and moral conventions of this very ignorant human race – so that to impose these standards on the Divine is to try to do what is irrational and impossible. Secondly this Divine Consciousness behind the apparent personality is concerned with only two things in a fundamental way – the Truth above and here below the Lila and the purpose of the incarnation or manifestation and it does what is necessary for that in the way its greater than human consciousness sees like the necessary and intended way. I shall try if I can develop that when I write about it – perhaps I shall take your remarks about Rama and Krishna as the starting point – but that I shall see hereafter.

But I do not understand how all that can prevent me from answering mental questions. On my own showing, if it is necessary for the divine purpose, it has to be done. Ramakrishna himself whom you quote for a capability of asking questions answered thousands of questions, I believe. But the answers must be such as Ramakrishna gave and such as I try to give, answers from a higher spiritual experience, from a deeper source of knowledge and not lucubrations of the logical intellect trying to co-ordinate its ignorance; still less can there be a placing of the Divine or the Divine Truth before the judgment of the intellect to be condemned or acquitted by that authority – for the authority here has no sufficient jurisdiction or competence. This also I shall try to explain – it is what I have started to do in a longer letter.

 

May 21, 1934

What astonished me in the review in Parichay22 was that they should have given the book for criticism to someone who evidently has very little knowledge of poetry. Such reviewers have always a tendency to condemn and belittle so as to justify to themselves their claim to criticise.

These disappointments from friends can all the same be steps to a deeper source of happiness – when there is in the psychic being an aspiration for the Divine. Even if the steps are painful the end they lead to is, as one afterwards finds, well worth the cost.

 

June 1934

It is gratifying that Anilkumar should rank me with Ramakrishna and Chaitanya, but however gratified I may be, I cannot help saying that his remark takes the first prize for absurdity and ignorance. As if thousands of Yogis, saints and mystics had not realised God and only three people had done it! Why do people go out of their way to make such silly pronouncements, I wonder! But perhaps it was merely a rhetorical flourish or rather a way of hinting that although Sri Aurobindo may have had some realisation (perhaps) of the Divine, he was unable to communicate anything of it to anybody else. I had thought differently, but that must have been an imagination of my ego – for Anilkumar surely must know – and also the Doctor.

Saurin’s omniscience, so far as it is true, announces nothing new – I suppose his omniscience simply amounts to the hearing of much gossip perhaps through the channel of the Doctor. The Doctor’s sexuality, domesticity, love of bourgeois comfort are as ancient as Methuselah – they took him away from here once in chase of these vital satisfactions, but he found them not so satisfactory after all and fled to some mountain, found the mountain also deficient and pleaded for several years to come back to this detestable and uncomfortable Ashram. The only new news in Saurin’s lot is that he proposes to go for good – his own version is that he is coming back in August as early as possible and is leaving his worldly goods here in the meantime. However Saurin may know his mind better, as they are intimate.

About the depressions, the first question is whether they are the temporary depressions which everyone almost has on the way or are they, as you seem to suggest, an increasing and in a way depletive thing, a good bye to hope and sadhana. It is quite possible that there is a wide-spread attempt to press depression on the sadhaks, for depression is the obstacle natural to this stage of the struggle with the subconscient Ignorance out of which the external human nature is a formation and the roots of its unwillingness to change are there. But you speak of the depression as if it were not only definitive and absolute but universal (“the other sadhaks”). If so, a retreat to Kashmir in the wake of Anilkumar would be imperative. Kashmir is a magnificent place, its rivers unforgettable and on one of its mountains with a shrine of Shankaracharya on it I got my second realisation of the Infinite (long before I started Yoga). But I seem to know that a few at least of the sadhaks are making a progress with which they are well satisfied, that some have what appears to them a concrete realisation and others have experiences which are leading them forward and do not complain because they have not yet the one definitive thing. And their number seems to me to increase rather than decrease. Even those who grumble, some of them, do not seem inclined to take their flight to other climes, but, after delivering their souls by a good grumble, return to the endeavour at Yoga. As long as it is so, I see no necessity for a débandade [headlong flight].

I am rather astonished at your finding Wordsworth’s realisation, however mental and incomplete, to be abstract and vague or dictated by emotional effervescence. Wordsworth was hardly an emotional or effervescent character. As for an abstract realisation, it sounds like a round square; I have never had one myself and find it difficult to believe in it. But certainly a realisation in its beginning can be vague and nebulous or it can be less or more vivid. Still, Wordsworth’s did not make that impression on me and to him it certainly came as something positive, powerful and determinative. He stayed there and went no farther, did not get to the source, because more was hardly possible in his time and surroundings, at least to a man of his mainly moral and intellectual temper.

In a more deep and spiritual sense a concrete realisation is that which makes the thing realised more real, dynamic, intimately present to the consciousness than any physical thing can be. Such a realisation of the personal Divine or of the impersonal Brahman or of the self does not usually come at the beginning of a sadhana or in the first years or for many years. It comes so to a very few; mine came fifteen years after my first pre-Yogic experience in London and in the fifth year after I started Yoga. That I consider extraordinary quick, an express train speed almost – though there may no doubt have been several quicker achievements. But to expect and demand it so soon and get fed up because it does not come and declare Yoga impossible except for two or three in the ages would betoken in the eyes of any experienced Yogi or sadhak a rather rash and abnormal impatience. Most would say that a slow development is the best one can hope for in the first years and only when the nature is ready and fully concentrated towards the Divine can the definitive experience come. To some rapid preparatory experiences can come at a comparatively early stage, but even they cannot escape the labour of the consciousness which will make these experiences culminate in the realisation that is enduring and complete. It is not a question of my liking or disliking your demand or attitude. It is a matter of fact and truth and experience, not of liking or disliking, two things which do not usually sway me. It is the fact that people who are grateful and cheerful and ready to go step by step, even by slow steps, if need be, do actually march faster and more surely than those who are impatient and in haste and at each step despair or [murmur?]. It is what I have always seen – there may be instances to the contrary and I have no objection to your being one – none at all. I only say that if you could maintain “hope and fervour and faith,” there could be a much bigger chance, that is all.

This is just a personal explanation – a long explanation but which seemed to be called for by your enhancement of my glory – and it is dictated by a hope that after all in the long run an accumulation of explanations may persuade you to prefer the sunny path to the grey one, the one thing wanted is that you should push through and arrive.

 

June 1934 (?)

(About Nishikanta’s translation of Sri Aurobindo’s poem “Nirvana”.)

(...) Nishikanta’s version.

I think you will find the translation fairly good, but I am far from satisfied myself. Not that it isn’t Bengali or poetical, but it has no resilience, it has no force, sounds too much like a string of words aesthetically built up without any real vivid urge.

Your “Nirvana” breathes an atmosphere so wonderful of calm and peace and realisation. But [who?] can expect that of course de n’importe qui [from just anybody]?

I fear it is not successful – your criticism is quite correct – it is the life that is absent. The octet can pass; but the sextet fails completely.

 

June 3, 1934

Your translation of “Shiva” is a very beautiful poem, combining strength and elegance in the Virgilian manner. I have put one or two questions relating to the correctness of certain passages as a translation, but except for the care for exactitude it has not much importance.

Anilbaran’s translation pleased me on another ground – he has rendered with great fidelity and, as it seemed to me, with considerable directness, precision and force the thought and spiritual substance of the poem – he has rendered, of course in more mental terms than mine, exactly what I wanted to say. What might be called the “mysticity” of the poem, the expression of spiritual vision in half-occult, half-revealing symbols is not successfully caught, but that is a thing which may very well be untranslatable; it depends on an imponderable element which can hardly help escaping or evaporating in the process of transportation from one language to another. What he has done seems to me very well done. Questions of diction or elegance are another matter.

There remains Nishikanta’s two translations of “Jivanmukta”. I do not find the mātrā-vṛtta23 one altogether satisfactory, but the other is a very good poem. But as a translation! Well, there are some errors of the sense which do not help, e.g., mahimā for splendour; splendour is light. Silence, Light, Power, Ananda, these are the four pillars of the Jīvanmukta24 consciousness. So too the all-seeing, flame-covered eye gets transmogrified into something else; but the worst is the divine stillness surrounding the world which is not at all what I either said or meant. The lines:

Revealed it wakens, when God’s stillness

Heavens the ocean of moveless Nature,

express an exact spiritual experience with a visible symbol which is not a mere ornamental metaphor but corresponds to exact and concrete spiritual experience, an immense oceanic expanse of Nature-consciousness (not the world) in oneself covered with the heavens of the Divine Stillness and itself rendered calm and motionless by that over-vaulting influence. Nothing of that appears in the translation; it is a vague mental statement with an ornamental metaphor.

I do not stress all that to find fault, but because it points to a difficulty which seems to me insuperable. This “Jivanmukta” is not merely a poem, but a transcript of a spiritual condition, one of the highest in the inner Overmind experience. To express it at all is not easy. If one writes only ideas about what it is or should be, there is failure. There must be something concrete, the form, the essential spiritual emotion of the state. The words chosen must be the right words in their proper place and each part of the statement in its place in an inevitable whole. Verbiage, flourishes there must be none. But how can all that be turned over into another language without upsetting the applecart? I don’t see how it can be easily avoided. For instance in the fourth stanza, “Possesses”, “sealing”, “grasp” are words of great importance for the sense. The feeling of possession by the Ananda rapture, the pressure of the ecstatic force sealing the love so that there can never again be division between the lover and the All-Beloved, the sense of the grasp of the All-Beautiful are things more than physically concrete to the experience (“grasp” is especially used because it is a violent, abrupt, physical word – it cannot be replaced by “In the hands” or “In the hold”) and all that must have an adequate equivalent in the translation. But reading Nishikanta’s Bengali line I no longer know where I am, unless perhaps in a world of Vedantic abstractions where I never intended to go. So again what has Nishikanta’s translation of my line to do with the tremendous and beautiful experience of being ravished, thoughtless and wordless, into the breast of the Eternal who is the All-Beautiful, All-Beloved?

That is what I meant when I wrote yesterday about the impossibility – and also what I apprehended when I qualified my assent to Nolini’s proposal with a condition25.

 

June 8, 1934

“I will try again” is not sufficient; what is needed is to try always – steadily, with a heart free from despondency, as the Gita says, anirviṇṇa cetasā. You speak of five and a half years as if it were a tremendous time for such an object, but a yogi who is able in that time to change radically his nature and get the concrete decisive experience of the Divine would have to be considered as one of the rare gallopers of the spiritual Way. Nobody has ever said that the spiritual change was an easy thing; all spiritual seekers will say that it is difficult but supremely worth doing. If one’s desire for the Divine has become the master desire, then surely one can give one’s whole life to it without repining and not grudge the time, difficulty or labour.

Again, you speak of your experiences as vague and dreamlike. In the first place the scorn of small experiences in the inner life is no part of wisdom, reason or common sense. It is in the beginning of the sadhana and for a long time, the small experiences that come on each other and, if given their full value, prepare the field, build up a preparatory consciousness and one day break open the walls to big experiences. But if you despise them with the ambitious idea that you must have either the big experiences or nothing, it is not surprising that they come once in a blue moon and cannot do their work. Moreover, all your experiences were not small. There were some like the stilling descent of a Power in the body – what you used to call numbness – which anyone with spiritual knowledge would have recognised as a first strong step towards the opening of the consciousness to the higher Peace and Light. But it was not in the line of your expectations and you gave it no special value. As for vague and dreamlike, you feel it so because you are looking at them and at everything that happens in you from the standpoint of the outward physical mind and intellect which can take only physical things as real and important and vivid and to it inward phenomena are something unreal, vague and truthless. The spiritual experience does not even despise dreams and visions; it is known to it that many of these things are not dreams at all but experiences on an inner plane and if the experiences of the inner planes which lead to the opening of the inner self into the outer so as to influence and change it are not accepted, the experiences of the subtle consciousness and the trance consciousness, how is the waking consciousness to expand out of the narrow prison of the body and body-mind and the senses? For, to the physical mind untouched by the inner awakened consciousness, even the experience of the cosmic consciousness or the Eternal Self might very well seem merely subjective and unconvincing. It would think, “Curious, no doubt, rather interesting, but very subjective, don’t you think? Hallucinations, yes!” The first business of the spiritual seeker is to get away from the outward mind’s outlook and to look at inward phenomena with an inward mind to which they soon become powerful and stimulating realities. If one does that, then one begins to see that there is here a wide field of truth and knowledge, in which one can move from discovery to discovery to reach the supreme discovery of all. But the outer physical mind, if it has any ideas about the Divine and spirituality at all, has only hasty a priori ideas miles away from the solid ground of inner truth and experience.

I have not left myself time to deal with other matters at any length. You speak of the Divine’s stern demands and hard conditions – but what severe demands and iron conditions you are laying on the Divine! You practically say to Him, “I will doubt and deny you at every step, but you must fill me with your unmistakable Presence; I will be full of gloom and despair whenever I think of you or the Yoga, but you must flood my gloom with your rapturous irresistible Ananda; I will meet you only with my outer physical mind and consciousness, but you must give me in that the Power that will transform rapidly my whole nature.” Well, I don’t say that the Divine won’t or can’t do it, but if such a miracle is to be worked, you must give him some time and just a millionth part of a chance.

 

June 12, 1934

St. Augustine was a man of God and a great saint, but great saints are not always – or often – great psychologists or great thinkers. The psychology here is that of the most superficial schools, if not that of the man in the street; there are as many errors in it as there are psychological statements – and more, for several are not expressed but involved in what he writes. I am aware that these errors are practically universal, for psychological enquiry in Europe (and without enquiry there can be no sound knowledge) is only beginning and has not gone very far, and what has reigned in men’s minds up to now is a superficial statement of the superficial appearances of our consciousness as they look to us at first view and nothing more. But knowledge only begins when we get away from the surface phenomena and look behind them for their true operations and causes. To the superficial view of the outer mind and senses the sun is a little fiery ball circling in mid air round the earth and the stars twinkling little things stuck in the sky for our benefit at night. Scientific enquiry comes and knocks this infantile first-view to pieces. The sun is a huge affair (millions of miles away from our air) around which the small earth circles, and the stars are huge members of huge systems indescribably distant which have nothing apparently to do with the tiny earth and her creatures. All Science is like that, a contradiction of the sense-view or superficial appearances of things and an assertion of truths which are unguessed by the common and the uninstructed reason. The same process has to be followed in psychology if we are really to know what our consciousness is, how it is built and made and what is the secret of its functionings or the way out of its disorder.

There are several capital and common errors here26: –

1. That mind and spirit are the same thing.

2. That all consciousness can be spoken of as “mind.”

3. That all consciousness therefore is of a spiritual substance.

4. That the body is merely Matter, not conscious, therefore something quite different from the spiritual part of the nature.

First, the spirit and the mind are two different things and should not be confused together. The mind is an instrumental entity or instrumental consciousness whose function is to think and perceive – the spirit is an essential entity or consciousness which does not need to think or perceive either in the mental or the sensory way, because whatever knowledge it has is direct or essential knowledge, svayamprakāśa [self-luminous].

Next, it follows that all consciousness is not necessarily of a spiritual make and it need not be true and is not true that the thing commanding and the thing commanded are the same, are not at all different, are of the same substance and therefore are bound or at least ought to agree together.

Third, it is not even true that it is the mind which is commanding the mind and finds itself disobeyed by itself. First, there are many parts of the mind, each a force in itself with its formations, functionings, interests, and they may not agree. One part of the mind may be spiritually influenced and like to think of the Divine and obey the spiritual impulse, another part may be rational or scientific or literary and prefer to follow the formations, beliefs or doubts, mental preferences and interests which are in conformity with its education and its nature. But quite apart from that, what was commanding in St. Augustine may very well have been the thinking mind or reason while what was commanded was the vital, and mind and vital, whatever anybody may say, are not the same. The thinking mind or buddhi lives, however imperfectly in man, by intelligence and reason. Vital, on the other hand, is a thing of desires, impulses, force-pushes, emotions, sensations, seekings after life-fulfilment, possession and enjoyment; these are its functions and its nature – it is that part of us which seeks after life and its movements for their own sake and it does not want to leave hold of them if they bring it suffering as well as or more than pleasure; it is even capable of luxuriating in tears and suffering as part of the drama of life. What then is there in common between the thinking intelligence and the vital and why should the latter obey the mind and not follow its own nature? The disobedience is perfectly normal instead of being, as Augustine suggests, unintelligible. Of course, man can establish a mental control over his vital and in so far as he does it he is a man – because the thinking mind is a nobler and more enlightened entity and consciousness than the vital and ought, therefore, to rule and, if the mental will is strong, can rule. But this rule is precarious, incomplete and held only by much self-discipline. For if the mind is more enlightened, the vital is nearer to earth, more intense, vehement, more directly able to touch the body. There is too a vital mind which lives by imagination, thoughts of desire, will to act and enjoy from its own impulse and this is able to seize on the reason itself and make it its auxiliary and its justifying counsel and supplier of pleas and excuses. There is also the sheer force of Desire in man which is the vital’s principal support and strong enough to sweep off the reason, as the Gita says, “like a boat on stormy waters,” nāvamivāmbhasi [Gita, 2.67].

Finally, the body obeys the mind automatically in those things in which it is formed or trained to obey it, but the relation of the body to the mind is not in all things that of an automatic perfect instrument. The body also has a consciousness of its own and, though it is a submental instrument or servant consciousness, it can disobey or fail to obey as well. In many things, in matters of health and illness for instance, in all automatic functionings, the body acts on its own and is not a servant of the mind. If it is fatigued, it can offer a passive resistance to the mind’s will. It can cloud the mind with tamas, inertia, dullness, fumes of the subconscient so that the mind cannot act. The arm lifts, no doubt, when it gets the suggestion, but at first the legs do not obey when they are asked to walk; they have to learn how to leave the crawling attitude and movement and take up the erect and ambulatory habit. When you first ask the hand to draw a straight line or to play music, it can’t do it and won’t do it. It has to be schooled, trained, taught, and afterwards it does automatically what is required of it. All this proves that there is a body-consciousness which can do things at the mind’s order, but has to be awakened, trained, made a good and conscious instrument. It can even be so trained that a mental will or suggestion can cure the illness of the body. But all these things, these relations of mind and body, stand on the same footing in essence as the relation of mind to vital and it is not so easy or primary a matter as Augustine would have it.

This puts the problem on another footing with the causes more clear and, if we are prepared to go far enough, it suggests the way out, the way of Yoga.

P.S. All this is quite apart from the contributing and very important factor of plural personality of which psychological enquiry is just beginning rather obscurely to take account. That is a more complex affair.

 

(Two letters about Sahana’s bengali translation of Sri Aurobindo’s poem “In Horis Aeternum”.)

June 1934

I feel the last verse makes very clear meaning anyway, but since Sahana is not pleased with it and she has been labouring at it for days, I think I may have mistaken your meaning. Doubtless, the “Something” I could not keep as I took it to mean that the passing moment reflects the Eternal when “caught by the spirit in sense”. Tell me therefore – O Lord I must stop.

I think it is a very fine rendering. In line 4 however I would not say that there is no reference to day as a movement of time but only to the noon, the day as sunlit space rather than time, it is the fixed moment, as it were, the motionless scene of noon. The eye is of course the sun itself, I mark by the dash that I have finished with my first symbol of the gold ball and go off to the second quite different one.

In the last line your translation is indeed very clear and precise in meaning, but it is perhaps too precise – the “something” twice repeated is meant to give a sense of just the opposite, an imprecise – unseizable something which is at once nothing and all things at a time. It is found no doubt in the momentary things and all is there, but the finding is less definite than your translation suggests. But the expression nāstirupe chhila je sarbbāsti is very good.

One point more. “Caught by a spirit in sense” means “there is a spirit in sense (sense not being sense alone) that catches the eternal out of perishable hours in these things.”

 

June 18, 1934

Yes, I think it will do very well as a rendering, now. As for what you say about the rhythmic movement and the stresses, that is something new (I believe) in this form in English even. It is an attempt to combine – avoiding the chaotic amorphousness of free verse – a system of regular metrical measures with the greatest possible plasticity and variety whether as to the number of syllables, management of feet, if any, distribution of stress beats or changing modulation of the rhythm. “In Horis Aeternum” is merely a first essay, a very simple and elementary model for this endeavour. How far it can go in one direction or another has yet to be seen; but I don’t very well see for the moment how that is to be got into a Bengali cadence.

P.S. I struggled to get time to reply on your book and read Nishikanta but could not. Monday! I keep the book.

*

In Horis Aeternum

A far sail on the unchangeable monotone of a slow slumbering sea,

A world of power hushed into symbols of hue, silent unendingly;

Over its head like a gold ball the sun tossed by the gods in their play

Follows its curve,– a blazing eye of Time watching the motionless day.

Here or otherwhere,– poised on the unreachable abrupt snow-solitary ascent

Earth aspiring lifts to the illimitable Light, then ceases broken and spent,

Or in the glowing expanse, arid, fiery and austere, of the desert’s hungry soul,–

A breath, a cry, a glimmer from Eternity’s face, in a fragment the mystic Whole.

Moment-mere, yet with all eternity packed, lone, fixed, intense,

Out of the ring of these hours that dance and die, caught by the spirit in sense,

In the greatness of a man, in music’s outspread wings, in a touch, in a smile, in a sound,

Something that waits, something that wanders and settles not, a Nothing that was all and is found.

 

June 28, 1934

First of all, why get upset by such slight things, a phrase in a poem, a tap on the head of doubt? I do not see at all why you should take it as a personal assault on yourself. It is clear from the poems themselves that they are not an assault but a riposte. Some have been criticising and ridiculing his faith and his sadhana, there have been criticisms and attacks on the Mother indicating that it is absurd to think her of as divine. Harin justifies his faith in his own way – and in doing so hits back at the critics and scorners. No doubt, he ought not to do so, he ought to disregard it all, as we have [hinted?] more than once. But it is a hard rule to follow for a militant enthusiasm endowed with a gift of expression. But what is there in all that to affect you who do not gibe at faith, even if you yourself doubt, and do not attack or criticise the Mother.

As for the sense of superiority, that too is a little difficult to avoid when greater horizons open before the consciousness, unless one is already of a saintly and humble disposition. There are men like Nag Mahashoy27 in whom spiritual experience creates more and more humility, there are others like Vivekananda in whom it erects a great sense of strength and superiority – European critics have taxed him with it rather severely; there are others in whom it [fixes?] a sense of superiority to men and humility to the Divine. Each position has its value. Take Vivekananda’s famous answer to the Madras Pundit who objected to one of his assertions saying: “But Shankara does not say so.” To which Vivekananda replied: “No, Shankara does not say so, but I, Vivekananda, say so,” and the Pundit sank back annoyed and speechless. That “I, Vivekananda,” stands up to the ordinary eye like a Himalaya of self-confident egoism. But there was nothing false or unsound in Vivekananda’s spiritual experience. This was not mere egoism, but the sense of what he stood for and the attitude of the fighter who, as the representative of something very great, could not allow himself to be put down or belittled. This is not to deny the necessity of non-egoism and of spiritual humility, but to show that the question is not so easy as it appears at first sight. For if I have to express my spiritual experiences, I must do that with truth – I must record them, their bhāva, the thoughts, feelings, extensions of consciousness which accompany it. What am I to do with the experience in which one feels the whole world in oneself or the force of the Divine flowing in one’s being and nature or the certitude of one’s faith against all doubts and doubters or one’s oneness with the Divine or the smallness of human thought and life compared with this greater knowledge and existence? And I have to use the word “I” – I cannot take refuge in saying “This body” or “This appearance,” – especially as I am not a Māyāvādin.28 Shall I not inevitably fall into expressions which will make Khitish Sen shake his head at my assertions as full of pride and ego? I imagine it would be difficult to avoid it.

Another thing, it seems to me that you identify faith very much with the mental belief – but real faith is something spiritual, a knowledge of the soul. The assertions you quote in your letter are the hard assertions of mental belief leading to a great vehement assertion of one’s creed and goal because they are one’s own and must therefore be greater than those of others – an attitude which is universal in human nature. Even the atheist is not tolerant, but declares his credo of Nature and Matter as the only truth and on all who disbelieve it or believe in other things he pours scorn as unenlightened morons and superstitious half-wits. I bear him no grudge for thinking me that; but I note that this attitude is not confined to religious faith but is equally natural to those who are free from religious faith and do not believe in Gods or Gurus.

[I29 don’t think that real faith is so very superabundant in this Ashram. There are some who have it, but for the most part I have met not only doubt, but sharp criticism, constant questioning, much mockery of faith and spiritual experience, violent attacks on myself and the Mother – and that has been going on for the last fourteen years and more. Things are not so bad as they were, but there is plenty of it left still, and I don’t think the time has come when the danger of an excessive faith is likely to take body.]

You will not, I hope, mind my putting the other side of the question. I simply want to point out that there is the other side, that there is much more to be said than at first sight appears, [and the moral of it all is that one must bear with what calm and philosophy one can the conflicts of opposing tendencies [or?] this welter of the Ashram atmosphere and wait till the time has come when a greater Light and with it some true Harmony can purify and unite and recreate.]

I have had a very heavy mail today and had no time to deal with the metre. I trust I shall be more free tomorrow – I will do my best, but I fear it is again a problem, too many longs together, too many shorts together for the English tongue. Never mind, we will see.

 

July 2, 1934

After two days wrestling, I have to admit that I am beaten by your last metre. I have written something, but it is a fake. I will first produce the fake:

A gold moon-raft floats / and swings / slowly

And it casts / a fire / of pale / holy / blue light

On the dragon tail / aglow / of the / faint night

That glimmers far – / swimming,

The illumined shoals / of stars / skimming,

Overspreading earth / and drowning the / heart in sight

With the / ocean-depths / and breadths / of the / Infinite.

That is the official scansion, and except in the last foot of the two last lines it professes to follow very closely the metre of Nishikanta’s poem. But in fact it is full of sins and the appearance is a counterfeit. In the first line the first foot is really an anti-bacchius:

“A gold moon/-raft floats....”

and quantitatively, though not accentually, the second is a spondee which also disturbs the true rhythmic movement. “Slowly” and “holy” are in truth trochees disguised as pyrrhics, and if “slowly” can pass off the deceit a little, “holy” is quite unholy in the brazenness of its pretences. If I could have got a compound adjective like “god-holy,” it would have been all right and saved the situation, but I could find none that was appropriate. The next three lines are, I think, on the true model and have an honest metre. But the closing cretic of my last two is nothing but a cowardly flight from the difficulty of the spondee. I console myself by remembering that even Hector ran when he found himself in difficulties with Achilles and that the Bhāgavat30 lays down palāyanam [flight] as one of the ordinary occupations of the Avatar. But the evasion is a fact and I am afraid it spoils the correspondence of the metres. I have some idea of adding a second stanza – this one will look less guilty perhaps if it has a companion in sin – but if you use this at all, you need not wait for the other as it may never take birth at all.

Nishikanta’s poem on the Bazaar is very good work admirably done – he is evidently a craftsman in language and rhythm. I cannot go so far as to subscribe to your epithet “great.” There is however some power of developing a poetic subject which is full of promise. The thought-side of the development is not quite flawless – the emergence out of the ethical into the spiritual-philosophical standpoint in the speech of the Man of the Market is rather awkward; the transition from the sordid to the sublime jars a little. As for the culminating gospel of “Nothing good, nothing evil” it is a rather dangerous truth, unless it is balanced by admitting the [?] antinomy of the higher and the lower into the ecstatic uniqueness of the Brahman. “This which they worship here is not that Brahman” is a truth as much as “All this is the Brahman.”

 

July 19, 1934

All right. I will try to answer these two great conundrums of the Mind – Nirvana and the Disharmonies of Earth. I have almost finished the first, but it is an awful scribble and I don’t know if Nolini will be able to read it. Perhaps I shall have to copy it out.

As for the other question – where do you find in “The Life Heavens” that I say or anybody says the conditions on the earth are glorious and suited to the Divine Life? There is not a word to that effect there! The Life Heavens are the heavens of the vital gods and there is there a perfect harmony but a harmony of the sublimated satisfied senses and vital desires only. If there is to be a Harmony, it must be of all the powers raised to their highest and harmonised together. All the non-evolutionary worlds are worlds of a type limited to its own harmony like the life-heavens. The Earth, on the other hand, is an evolutionary world, not at all glorious or harmonious even as a material world (except in certain appearances), but rather most sorrowful, disharmonious, imperfect. Yet in that imperfection is the urge towards a higher and more many-sided perfection. It contains the last finite which yet yearns to the supreme infinite (it is not to be satisfied by sense-joys precisely because in the conditions of earth it is able to see their limitations); God is pent in the mire (mire is not glorious, so there is no claim to glory or beauty here), but that very fact imposes a necessity to break through that prison to a consciousness which is ever rising towards the heights. And so on. That is “a deeper power”; not a greater glory or perfection. All that may be true or not to the mind, but it is the traditional attitude of Indian spiritual experience. Ask any yogin, he will tell you that the Life Heavens are childish things; even the gods, says the Purāṇa31, must come down to earth and be embodied there if they want mukti, giving up the pride of their limited perfection – they must enter into the last finite if they want to reach the last infinite. A poem is not a philosophical treatise or a profession of religious faith – it is the expression of a vision or an experience of some kind, mundane or spiritual. Here it is the vision of the life heavens, its perfection, its limitations and the counter-claim of the Earth or rather the Spirit or Power behind the earth-consciousness. It has to be taken at that, as an expression of a certain aspect of things, an expression of a certain kind of experience, not of a mental dogma. There is a deep truth behind it, though it may not be the whole truth of the matter. In the poem, also, there is no question of a divine life here, though that is hinted at as the unexpressed possible result of the ascent – because the Earth is not put aside (“Earth’s heart was felt beating below me still”); nevertheless the poem expresses only the ascent towards the Highest, far beyond the Life Heavens, and the Earth-Spirit claims that power and does not speak of any descent of a Divine Life.

I say so much in order to get rid of that misconception so as not to have to go back to it when dealing with Earth’s disharmonies.

*

The Life Heavens

A life of intensities wide, immune

Floats behind the earth and her life-fret,

A magic of realms mastered by spell and rune,

Grandiose, blissful, coloured, increate.

A music there wanders mortal ear

Hears not, seizing, intimate, remote,

Wide-winged in soul-spaces, fire-clear,

Heaping note on enrapturing new note.

Forms deathless there triumph, hues divine

Thrill with nets of glory the moved air;

Each sense is an ecstasy, love the sign

Of one outblaze of godhead that two share.

The peace of the senses, the senses’ stir

On one harp are joined mysteries; pain

Transmuted is ravishment’s minister,

A high note and a fiery refrain.

All things are a harmony faultless, pure;

Grief is not nor stain-wound of desire;

The heart-beats are a cadence bright and sure

Of Joy’s quick steps, too invincible to tire.

A Will there, a Force, a magician Mind

Moves, and builds at once its delight-norms,

The marvels it seeks for surprised, outlined,

Hued, alive, a cosmos of fair forms.

Sounds, colours, joy-flamings, Life lies here

Dreaming, bound to the heavens of its goal,

In the clasp of a Power that enthrals to sheer

Bliss and beauty body and rapt soul.

My spirit sank drowned in the wonder surge:

Screened, withdrawn was the greatness it had sought;

Lost was the storm-stress and the warrior urge,

Lost the titan winging of the thought.

It lay at ease in a sweetness of heaven-sense

Delivered from grief, with no need left to aspire,

Free, self-dispersed in voluptuous innocence,

Lulled and borne into roseate cloud-fire.

But suddenly there soared a dateless cry,

Deep as Night, imperishable as Time;

It seemed Death’s dire appeal to Eternity,

Earth’s outcry to the limitless Sublime.

“O high seeker of immortality,

Is there not, ineffable, a bliss

Too vast for these finite harmonies,

Too divine for the moment’s unsure kiss?

“Arms taking to a voiceless supreme delight,

Life that meets the Eternal with close breast,

An unwalled mind dissolved in the Infinite,

Force one with unimaginable rest?

“I, Earth, have a deeper power than Heaven;

My lonely sorrow surpasses its rose-joys,

A red and bitter seed of the rapturous seven; –

My dumbness fills with echoes of a far Voice.

“By me the last finite, yearning, strives

To reach the last infinity’s unknown,

The Eternal is broken into fleeting lives

And Godhead pent in the mire and the stone.”

Dissolving the kingdoms of happy ease

Rocked and split and faded their dream-chime.

All vanished; ungrasped eternities

Sole survived and Timelessness seized Time.

Earth’s heart was felt beating below me still,

Veiled, immense, unthinkable above

My consciousness climbed like a topless hill,

Crossed seas of Light to epiphanies of Love.

 

July 22, 1934

I have not had time yet to read the whole poem – only the first instalment – but if the rest is as fine as this, it will be indeed a magnificent poem. I hope to finish it tomorrow and will then write.

 

July 26, 1934

I have read your poem32 through this time. I quite agree that you have surpassed yourself. For one thing, at one stride you have reached an astonishing architectonic perfection. Most poets can go on writing beautifully and well – they can flow from a beginning to an end; but few know how to build well. To have a beginning, a middle and an end is not enough; all parts must be in their place and the whole and the parts in the whole must be a plan of harmony. Here some builder Muse has come to your help and put everything in its place. There is a remarkable power and beauty in the development of the subject. The dramatic turns are very finely done and the correspondence of the rhythm with the thing it has to express and the felicity of its changes seem to me admirable. This alternation of grave and lyric metres is a very difficult thing to do well, but you have succeeded in putting them together with much skill. Your style and way of expression also, I think, have reached a maturity or say a consistent and continuous ripeness which they had not before. The poetry rises to a still higher perfection as it proceeds and the end is surprisingly beautiful. You have found there also I think for the first time, after much poetry of initial struggle and psychic hope, the feeling and music of Ananda – exaltation you may have sometimes reached before, but not this deeper spontaneous flute note of Ananda.

 

August 1934

Merci. Je comprends le sens maintenant parfaitement. Voyons! [Thank you. I now understand the meaning perfectly. Let’s see!] I suppose now there is no hitch and it runs with a real Wordsworthian rhythm with the authentic Wordsworthian significance packed therein. The scene of my novel is in Grasmere where I went to see the poet’s cottage – lovely Grasmere. So there are some other citations too from the poet. These I will send you by and by. All in good time – in proper sequence. There is a deal of such poetic passages in my novel. C’est pourquoi [That is why].

Harin has given me some exquisite poems! What a poet – really mon maître – il y a quelque chose même dans la poésie pure à proprement parler [there is something in pure poetry strictly speaking]. What a poem on A.E., the poet I loved best in the West. With all your enthusiasm for Yeats Guru, Yeats has meant very little indeed to me, I have never been able to warm up to him, but A.E. – yes. I have often been more deeply moved by A.E. than I could account for – his note rang to me so [true?]. That was why I have been so deeply stirred by Harm’s on A.E. Do write a sonnet at least on him Guru – don’t you think he deserves it – in these days when people pooh-pooh mystic poetry (as Thomson wrote to me) when A.E. still stood to his guns on his lonely heights. Why you really set so much store by Yeats I can’t gather – he is often so impossibly obscure. But A.E. is never so. His has been a note of calm grandeur to me. And it is significant that a poet of Harin’s genius regards him as the greatest poet of this age – barring you. I agree with him. But it seems to me there has always been some diffidence in you. Will you let me know why? Amal also mentions him passingly in his Notes on Poetry for which I groaned to him, for he is in ecstasies over Yeats. Please write on back – also a sonnet if you have time. If not some éclaircissement [clarification] at least. A letter from you has been long overdue to me in reward of my hermit-like dove-like purity anyway if not for my romantic speed in romance-writing.

I do not think I was ever enthusiastic over Yeats, but I recognise his great artistry in language and verse in which he is far superior to A.E. – just as A.E. as a man and a seer was far superior to Yeats. Yeats never got beyond a beautiful mid-world of the vital antarikṣa [mid-world] – he has not penetrated beyond to spiritual-mental heights as A.E. did. But all the same when one speaks of poetry, it is the poetical element to which one must give the most importance. What Yeats expressed, he expressed with great poetical beauty, perfection and power and he has, besides, a creative imagination while A.E. had only a certain though considerable interpretative power. A.E.’s thought and way of seeing and saying things is much more sympathetic to me than Yeats’ who only touches a brilliant floating skirt-edge of the Truth of things – but I cannot allow that to influence me when I have to judge of the poetic side of their respective achievements. I hope that will be éclaircissement enough for you – for I have no time for more – certainly none for writing sonnets – my energy is too occupied in very urgent and pressing things (quite apart from “correspondence”) to “dally with the rhythmic line”.

 

August 1, 1934

Don’t indulge in gloomy forebodings. What one fears does not always happen, though it is true that fears and forebodings are mental formations and that such mental formations can give a fillip to the [imps?] of mischief. For my part I propose to make the opposite formation that nothing will happen of importance, even while trying to guard against possibilities. If anything does happen, you will tell me at once and I will try to set it right. This seems to me the thing to be done. I don’t see the necessity of a circuit to the Himalayas.

 

August 4, 1934

Very glad that the reconciliation has proceeded all right and I am glad too that your tendency is so readily towards “harmony” and away from “disharmonies” that have been too rife. As for Moni he is very stiff in a quarrel and to make him ease his backbone when he has once straightened it for a fight is not easy.

Your strictures on Moni’s present tendencies in poetry are largely correct, but although he always had a flow of language and flow of verse – and when he has the right subject and substance he can do something very fine – I have never put so high a value on his poetry – it is his prose which at its best seemed to me remarkable. Nishikanta’s poem is very good indeed. But the parallel or rather contrast between them from the Ashram residence point of view is not very much to the point. Moni comes in from a mental and vital past; with Nishikanta the question is whether he has stuff enough, not poetic or artistic – for he is a good poet and clever painter – but Yogic to stand the spiritual future.

I have read your preface and have some idea of reading your mammoth suffix in some [aeonian?] future – I will try to read also the pages you point out at the same time. But what strange ideas you have about the relative intensities of the vital joys and the psychic joy or the spiritual peace!

Glad to hear about the appreciation of O.C. Ganguli33 – and OK about the singing.

P.S. I was forgetting about Harmony. After a forced halt of several days it has started again and is proceeding with a grim tortoise-like determination to its goal.

 

August 4, 1934

I have read your letter of explanation of the “strange” ideas but cannot answer it now because I am busy with the harmony affair and don’t want to discontinue. I still maintain that your views on the lack of all intensity in the psychic things or in the spiritual or their inferiority to vital pleasure are strange, because they contradict all psychic and spiritual experience except that of the mere vairāgis [renunciates] and make the choice of the spiritual life itself (Nirvana seekers excepted) quite inexplicable. Your arguments are not convincing. What have Ramakrishna’s cancer or the fluctuations of Vivekananda’s vital receptivity between exaltation and depression or Chaitanya’s viraha34 to do with the question in issue? These are difficulties of the body and the vital. The question was of the intensity of psychic and pure spiritual experience – psychic devotion and love, peace, Ananda. You cannot base a general denial on your own particular experience; because you have only the initial experiences of calm, etc. and have not got to the intensities as I have done and others before me have done. It is only when one lives centrally in the psychic with the mental, vital and physical experiences held under its rule that one knows what psychic intensity is. It is only when the higher consciousness comes down in its floods that one can know what can be the intensities or ecstasies of spiritual peace, light, love, bliss. You can say “I have not yet had these intensities,” but you cannot say in a sweeping way, “They do not exist and I shall never have them,” or “They are only tepid quiet little things soothing and more capable of lasting, but not intense and glorious like the vital joys and pleasures.” Don’t cling to these notions born of the first limitations, but keep yourself open and plastic to greater possibilities in the future.

My own experience is not limited to a radiant peace; I know very well what ecstasy and ananda are from the Brahmānanda35 down to the śarīra ānanda36, and can experience them at any time. But of these things I prefer to speak only when my work is done – for it is in a transformed consciousness here and not only above where the Ananda always exists that I seek their base of permanence.

 

August 1934

I had forgotten one thing about the Fenêtres37 room. When Sada went there, we made it a rule that there should not be too much “receiving” of friends, etc. (Sada has an array of them); but I think this will not incommode Nishikanta, as he is of the quiet type, I understand, and will besides be seeing much of his friends over there. If he prefers that room, he can have it as soon as it is repaired and everything ready.

I was relieved to get a more cheerful letter from Maya38. It appears that to stop her hunger strike Sh. has promised positively (?) to let her come here in February. I only hope the fellow won’t find another trick to prevent her then!

I am rather perplexed by your strictures on Rama. Cowardice is the last thing that can be charged against Valmiki’s Rama; he has always been considered as a warrior and it is the “martial races” of India who have made him their god. Valmiki everywhere paints him as a great warrior. His employment of ruse against an infrahuman enemy does not prove the opposite – for that is always how the human (even great warriors and hunters) has dealt with the infrahuman. I think it is Madhusudan who has darkened Valmiki’s hero in Bengali eyes and turned him into a poor puppet, but that is not the authentic Rama who, say what one will, was a great epic figure – Avatar or no Avatar. As for conventional morality, all morality is a convention – man cannot live without conventions, mental and moral, otherwise he feels himself lost in the rolling sea of the anarchic forces of the vital Nature. Even the Russells and Bernard Shaws can only end by setting up another set of conventions in the place of those they have skittled over. Only by rising above mind can one really get beyond conventions – Krishna was able to do it because he was not a mental human being but an overmental godhead acting freely out of a greater consciousness than man’s. Rama was not that, he was the Avatar of the sattwic mind – mental, emotional, moral – and he followed the Dharma of the age and race. That may make him temperamentally congenial to Gandhi and the reverse to you; but just as Gandhi’s temperamental recoil from Krishna does not prove Krishna to be no Avatar, so your temperamental recoil from Rama does not establish that he was not an Avatar. However, my main point will be that Avatarhood does not depend upon these questions at all, but has another basis, meaning and purpose.

 

August 23, 1934

Yes, I read your poem which is a very fine one and I have told Mother about it. As for the lines you quote from me, I am unable to give their meaning, because the subject of the rest (“[?]”) and the context are not there. I had forgotten to finish out the “Songs to Myrtilla” and in the night it is impossible. I will see tomorrow.

No, I have no intention of entering into a supreme defence of Rama – I only entered into the points about Bāli etc. because these are usually employed nowadays to belittle him as a great personality on the usual level. But from the point of view of Avatarhood I would no more think of defending his moral perfection according to modern standards than I would think of defending Napoleon or Caesar against the moralists or the democratic critics or the debunkers in order to prove that they were Vibhūtis39. Vibhūti, Avatar are terms which have their own meaning and scope, and they are not concerned with morality or immorality, perfection or imperfection according to small human standards or setting an example to men or showing new moral attitudes or giving new spiritual teachings. Those things may or may not be done, but they are not at all the essence of the matter.

Also, I do not consider your method of dealing with Rama’s personality to be the right one. It has to be taken as a whole in the setting that Valmiki gave it (not treated as if it were the story of a modern man), with the significance that he gave to his hero’s personality, deeds and works. If it is pulled out of its setting and analysed under the dissecting knife of a modern ethical mind, it loses all its significance at once. Krishna so treated becomes a [mere?] debauchee and trickster who no doubt did great things in politics – but so did Rama in war. Achilles and Odysseus pulled out of their setting become one a furious egoistic savage and the other a cruel and cunning savage. I consider myself under an obligation to enter into the spirit, significance, atmosphere of the Mahabharata, Iliad, Ramayana and identify myself with their time-spirit before I can feel what their heroes were in themselves apart from the details of their outer actions.

As for the Avatarhood, I accept it for Rama first because he fills a place in the scheme – and seems to me to fill it rightly – and because when I read the Ramayana I feel a great afflatus which I recognise and which makes of its story – mere faery-tale though it seems – a parable of a great critical transitional event that happened in the terrestrial evolution and gives to the main character’s personality and action a significance of the large typical cosmic kind which these actions would not have had if they had been done by another man in another scheme of events. The Avatar is not bound to do extraordinary actions, but he is bound to give his acts or his work or what he is – any of these or all – a significance and an effective power that are part of something essential to be done in the history of the earth and its races.

All the same, if anybody does not see as I do and wants to eject Rama from his place, I have no objection – I have no particular partiality for Rama – provided somebody is put in who can more worthily fill up the gap his absence leaves. There was somebody there, Valmiki’s Rama or another Rama or somebody else not Rama.

Also I do not mean that I admit the validity of your remarks about Rama, even taken as a piecemeal criticism; but that I have no time for today. I maintain my position about the killing of Bāli and the banishment of Sita – in spite of Bāli’s preliminary objection to the procedure, afterwards retracted, and in spite of the opinion of Rama’s relatives. Necessarily from the point of view of the antique dharma – not from that of any universal moral standard – which besides does not exist, since the standard changes according to clime or age.

 

August 24, 1934

No, certainly not – an Avatar is not at all bound to be a spiritual prophet – he is never in fact merely a prophet, he is a realiser, an establisher – not of outward things only, though he does realise something in the outward also, but, as I have said, of something essential and radical needed for the terrestrial evolution which is the evolution of the embodied spirit through successive stages towards the Divine. It was not at all Rama’s business to establish the spiritual stage of that evolution – so he did not at all concern himself with that. His business was to destroy Ravana and to establish the Ramarajya – in other words, to fix for the future the possibility of an order proper to the sattwic civilised human being who governs his life by the reason, the finer emotions, morality, or at least moral ideals, such as truth, obedience, co-operation and harmony, the sense of honour, the sense of domestic and public order, to establish this in a world still occupied by anarchic forces, the Animal Mind and the powers of the vital Ego making its own satisfaction the rule of life, in other words, the Vānara and the Rākṣasa40. This is the meaning of Rama and his life-work and it is according as he fulfilled it or not that he must be judged as Avatar or no Avatar. It was not his business to play the comedy of the chivalrous Kṣatriya41 with the formidable brute beast that was Bāli, it was his business to kill him and get the Animal Mind under his control. It was his business to be not necessarily a perfect, but a largely representative sattwic Man, a faithful husband and a lover, a loving and obedient son, a tender and perfect brother, father, friend – he is friend of all kinds of people, friend of the outcast Guhaka, friend of the Animal leaders, Sugriva, Hanuman, friend of the vulture Jatayu, friend even of the Rākṣasa Vibhishana. All that he was in a brilliant, striking but above all spontaneous and inevitable way, not with a forcing of this note or that like Harishchandra42 or Shivi43, but with a certain harmonious completeness. But most of all, it was his business to typify and establish the things on which the social idea and its stability depend, truth and honour, the sense of the Dharma, public spirit and the sense of order. To the first, to truth and honour, much more than to his filial love and obedience to his father – though to that also – he sacrificed his personal rights as the elect of the King and the assembly and fourteen of the best years of his life and went into exile in the forests. To his public spirit and his sense of public order (the great and supreme civic virtue in the eyes of the ancient Indians, Greeks, Romans, for at that time the maintenance of the ordered community, not the separate development and satisfaction of the individual was the pressing need of the human evolution) he sacrificed his own happiness and domestic life and the happiness of Sita. In that he was at one with the moral sense of all the antique races, though at variance with the later romantic individualistic sentimental morality of the modern man who can afford to have that less stern morality just because the ancients sacrificed the individual in order to make the world safe for the spirit of social order. Finally, it was Rama’s business to make the world safe for the ideal of the sattwic human being by destroying the sovereignty of Ravana, the Rākṣasa menace. All this he did with such a divine afflatus in his personality and action that his figure has been stamped for more than two millenniums on the mind of Indian culture, and what he stood for has dominated the reason and idealising mind of man in all countries – and in spite of the constant revolt of the human vital, is likely to continue to do so until a greater Ideal arises. And you say in spite of all these that he was no Avatar? If you like – but at any rate he stands among the few greatest of the great Vibhūtis. You may dethrone him now – for man is no longer satisfied with the sattwic ideal and is seeking for something more – but his work and meaning remain stamped on the past of the earth’s evolving race.

When I spoke of the gap that would be left by his absence, I did not mean a gap among the prophets and intellectuals, but a gap in the scheme of Avatarhood – there was somebody who was the Avatar of the sattwic Human as Krishna was the Avatar of the overmental Superhuman – I see no one but Rama who can fill the place. Spiritual teachers and prophets (as also intellectuals, scientists, artists, poets, etc.) – these are at the greatest Vibhūtis, but they are not Avatars. For at that rate all religious founders would be Avatars – Joseph Smith (I think that is his name) of the Mormons, St. Francis of Assisi, Calvin, Loyola and a host of others as well as Christ, Chaitanya or Ramakrishna.

For faith, miracles, Bejoy Goswami44, another occasion. I wanted to say this much more about Rama – which is still only a hint and is not the thing I was going to write about the general principle of the Avatar. Nor, I may add, is it a complete or supreme defence of Rama. For that I would have to write about what the story of the Ramayana meant, appreciate Valmiki’s presentation of his chief characters (they are none of them copy-book examples, but great men and women with the defects and merits of human nature, as all men even the greatest are), and show also how the Godhead, which was behind the frontal and instrumental personality we call Rama, worked out every incident of his life as a necessary step in what had to be done. As to the weeping of Rama, I had answered that in my other unfinished letter. You are imposing the colder and harder Nordic ideal on the Southern temperament which regarded the expression of emotions, not its suppression, as a virtue. Witness the weeping and lamentations of Achilles, Ulysses and other Greek, Persian and Indian heroes – the latter especially as lovers.

 

August 25, 1934

But, great snakes! when did I ever tell you that faith in Haradhan (!)45 and his statements and the greatness of his poetry was a binding part of the Divine Law? Or that to believe every blamed thing that is said by every blessed body is a necessity of sadhana? Or that if you don’t have an implicit, a total and dogged faith in all the marvellous and miraculous things related by Bejoy Goswami’s disciples about their master, you will be shut out for ever from the Divine Grace? I am not three-fourths insane, par exemple, nor four-fourths either!

I ask you to have faith in the Divine, in the Divine Grace, in the truth of the sadhana, in the eventual triumph of the spirit over its mental and vital and physical difficulties, in the Path and the Guru, in the existence of things other than are written in the philosophy of Haeckel or Huxley or Bertrand Russell, because if these things are not true, there is no meaning in the Yoga. As for particular facts and asseverations about Bejoy Goswami or anybody else, there is room for discrimination, for suspension of judgment, for disbelief where there is good ground for disbelief, for right interpretation where the facts are not to be denied or questioned. But all that cannot be for the sadhak as it is for the materialistic sceptic founded on a fixed pre-judgment that only what is normal, in consonance with the known (so-called) laws of physical nature is true and that all which is abnormal or supernormal must a priori be condemned as false. The abnormal abounds in this physical world; the supernormal is there also. In these matters, apart from any question of faith, any truly rational man with a free mind (not tied up like the rationalists or so-called free thinkers at every point with triple cords of a priori irrational disbelief) must not cry out at once “Humbug! falsehood!” but suspend judgment until he has the necessary experience and knowledge. To deny in ignorance is no better than to affirm in ignorance. If your method has saved you from quack gurus, that shows that everything in this world has its uses, doubt and denial also, but it does not prove that doubt and denial are the best way of discovering the Truth. One can apply here the epigram of Tagore about the man who shut and locked up all the doors and windows of his house so as to exclude Error – but, cried Truth, by what way then shall I enter?

The faith in spiritual things that is asked of the sadhak is not an ignorant but a luminous faith, a faith in light and not in darkness. It is called blind by the sceptical intellect because it refuses to be guided by outer appearances or seeming facts – for it looks for the truth behind – and does not walk on the crutches of proof and evidence. It is an intuition – an intuition not only waiting for experience to justify it, but leading towards experience. If I believe in self-healing, I shall after a time find out the way to heal myself. If I have a faith in transformation, I can end by laying my hand on and unravelling the whole process of transformation. But if I begin with doubt and go on with more doubt, how far am I likely to go on the journey?

However, this is only a retort, not my reply for which I have no time tonight. My reply will come lengthier and later.

 

August 26, 1934

I had written the explanation of the cryptic lines, but wrote it in the wrong place, so I did not send it. I do it now. It means – “Her name sweeter to speak (repeat) than the sweetness of pastoral poetry could make the white hand when writing it as if brighter than its wont and gave a deeper colour to the lips that uttered it (then, in these past days), but it is now a dead and forgotten thing no longer loved, unknown to men of this later time.”

I could not finish anything today, but I propose to approach Bejoy Goswami and the general question of occult phenomena miscalled “miracles” shortly.

 

August 28, 1934

Yes, that is quite the right attitude, the one I want you to take. I am very glad that you resolved to take it. I shall certainly write about Bejoy Goswami and the miracles and I hope to explain also, always from the point of view of reason, certain other points, e.g. the exact nature and action of psychic and spiritual faith and the reason for faith in the Guru and how it works. Not tonight though – for I have had too much to do tonight.

The lines about which you ask have this meaning. The lover is thinking what happens after death, when love and life are over. He first thinks of the Christian myth of Hell – the first four lines refer to that and to Dante’s description of Paolo and Francesca and other guilty lovers blown round in one of the circles of Inferno – in the smoke and gurge of hell by violent winds – that is the relucent (shining back to the light of the fires) gyres [over?] a circle [sud?] of fires. Next he passes to the Greek ideas of the after-death, according to which the dead go down into the dim, lifeless underworld of Hades, lightless graves, fields no sunlight visits, alleys without any glad murmurs, waters with no flowers. Lethe is the river of forgetfulness in Hades from which the shades of the dead have to drink so as to forget their earthly past. Lethe, he says, could [rust] their minds (had its will), but still in the soul memories of love survive and cannot be utterly abolished. Then he returns to the obvious fact of death. “Beauty pays the gift given to her of life into the credit column of Death – she disappears leaving a brief perfume behind her, etc.”

You need not send the book any longer. I have miraculously fished out my copy.

 

August 28, 1934

I have written to Nalina to set right any misunderstanding – if there is really a misunderstanding – about our consent to her going. That consent I consider as forced from me by her own insistence that she could not stay – the pull was too great – she must go. I reminded her of what I told her before that the only true way was to stay and fight out the difficulty – the only justification for going would be if her call was more to the family life than to the spiritual life. I have told her that we keep to that and the Mother and I do not like her going – and asked her to reconsider her decision. For it is hers not mine. You know that I dislike anyone who has a psychic call going away from here, because it is throwing away their spiritual destiny or at least postponing it. For I don’t suppose Nalina, if she persists in going, will remain always under the illusion of the family bonds – but the risk is there and the postponement is there. Mother has called her tomorrow morning and she will see what she decides.

As for the faith-doubt question, you ardently give to the word faith a sense and a scope I do not attach to it. I will have to write not one but several letters to clear up the position. It seems to me that you mean by faith a mental belief which is in fact put before the mind and senses in the doubtful form of an unsupported asseveration. I mean by it a dynamic intuitive conviction in the inner being of the truth of supersensible things which cannot be proved by any physical evidence but which are a subject of experience. My point is that this faith is a most desirable preliminary (if not absolutely indispensable – for there can be cases of experiences not preceded by faith) to the desired experience. If I insist so much on faith – but even less on positive faith than on the throwing away of a priori doubt and denial – it is because I find that this doubt and denial have become an instrument in the hands of the obstructive forces and clog your steps whenever I try to push you to an advance. If you can’t or won’t get rid of it, (“won’t” out of respect for the reason and fear of being led into believing things that are not true, “can’t” because of contrary experience) then I shall have to manage for you without it, only it makes a difficult instead of a straight and comparatively easy process.

Why I call the materialist’s denial an a priori denial is because he refuses even to consider or examine what he denies, but starts by denying it, like Leonard Woolf with his quack quack, on the ground that it contradicts his own theories, so it can’t be true. On the other hand, the belief in the Divine and the Grace and Yoga and the Guru etc. (not in Bejoy Krishna or his miracles, hang it!) is not a priori, because it rests on a great mass of human experience which has been accumulating through the centuries and millenniums as well as the personal intuitive perception. Therefore it is an intuitive perception which has been confirmed by the experience of hundreds and thousands of those who have tested it before me.

I do not ask you to believe that the Divine Grace comes to all or that all can succeed in the sadhana or that I personally have succeeded or will succeed in the case of all who come to me. I have asked you if you cannot develop the faith that the Divine is – you seem often to doubt it – that the Divine Grace is and has manifested both elsewhere and here, that the sadhana by which so many profit is not a falsehood or a chimera and that I have helped many and am not utterly powerless – otherwise how could so many progress under our influence? If this is first established, then the doubt and denial, the refusal of faith boils itself down to a refusal of faith in your own spiritual destiny and that of Nalina and some others – does it not? I have never told you that the power that works here is absolute at present, I have on the contrary told you that I am trying to make it absolute and it is for that that I want the supermind to intervene. But to say that because it is not absolute therefore it does not exist, seems to me a logical inconsequence.

There remains your personal case and you may very well tell me, “What does it matter to me if these things are true when they are not true to me, true in my own experience?” But it does make a difference that they are true in themselves. For if your personal want of experience is held as proving that it is all moonshine, then all is finished – there is no hope for you or me or anybody. If on the other hand these things are true but not yet realised by you, then there is hope, a possibility at least. From the point of reason you may be right in thinking that because you have not realised yet, you can never realise – though it does not seem to me an inevitable conclusion. From the same point of view I also may be right in concluding from my experience and that of other Yogins that there is no such inevitability and that with the persistent aspiration in you and the Vairagya we have the conditions for a realisation that must come – sooner, for there are sudden liberations, or later.

In all this I have touched nothing fundamental on the question of faith – it is only a preliminary canter trying to remove certain points that are in the way. There are several others in your letter of today which I shall try to take up in my next letter. Afterwards I shall attack Bejoy Goswami, the nature of faith and the limits of its field (why it does not include B.G’s miracles, etc.) and other central matters.

 

August 31, 1934

(Dilip received a letter from Dr. Sarvepalli Radhakrishnan of Andhra University asking Sri Aurobindo to write a statement for a book on “Contemporary British Philosophy.”)

My dear Dilip Kumar Roy,

I am sending the enclosed to Sri Arabindo Ghose. You can easily understand my anxiety to have a contribution from him. I hope he will be kind enough to oblige me by contributing a statement.

How are you getting on?

*

(Dilip’s note:) What to answer?

*

(Sri Aurobindo wrote the following on the front page of the letter:)

Great Scott!

(For the explanation of this agonized ejaculation see the back!)

(And on the back:)

Look here! Do these people expect me to turn myself again into a machine for producing articles? The times of the Bande Mataram and Arya are over, thank God! I have now only the Ashram correspondence and that is “overwhelming” enough in all conscience without starting philosophy for standard books and the rest of it.

And philosophy! Let me tell you in confidence that I never, never, never was a philosopher – although I have written philosophy which is another story altogether. I knew precious little about philosophy before I did the Yoga and came to Pondicherry – I was a poet and a politician, not a philosopher! How I managed to do it? First, because Richard proposed to me to co-operate in a philosophical review – and as my theory was that a Yogi ought to be able to turn his hand to anything, I could not very well refuse; and then he had to go to the war and left me in the lurch with sixty-four pages a month of philosophy all to write by my lonely self. Secondly, I had only to write down in the terms of the intellect all that I had observed and come to know in practising Yoga daily and the philosophy was there automatically. But that is not being a philosopher!

I don’t know how to excuse myself to Radhakrishna – for I can’t say all that to him. Perhaps you can find a formula for me? Perhaps: “So occupied, not a moment for any other work, can’t undertake because he might not be able to carry out his promise.” What do you say?

 

August 31, 1934

I send the last but one instalment of Nishikanta’s translation. The next portion will be completed, I hope, by tomorrow evening. This portion had to be perhaps a little free – according to your explanation – as it was a little condensed. But I think it will please you nevertheless.

(...) But your “Night by the Sea” is congenial to the temper of Bengali and I feel everyone will agree that Nishikanta’s translation is very melodious and though your subtlety one misses then it reads like an original beautiful poem. It will, I feel, remain in our language by virtue of its atmosphere of “poeticalness.”

But what about Bejoy Krishna and the māyāmṛga46 of Rama? Let B.K. come first, māyāmṛga next week? Qu’en dites-vous? [What do you say?]

Well, I thought I had finished with Rama who after all belong to the past. The Māyāmṛga was an absolute necessity for removing Rama from the Ashram, otherwise Ravana could not have been able to carry Sita off, so the Divine or Valmiki (to whichever you like to give the credit of the incident) arranged it in that way (a very poetic way, you must admit) and the instrumental Personality accepted the veiling of the consciousness so that his work might be done, just as Krishna clean forgot all he had said to Arjuna in the Gita so that he might teach him something else. You must expect such things from the Avatar! However, Nolini has sent me all the correspondence for treatment, so I suppose I shall finish my unfinished letter soon to deal with certain points and also write something about Avatarhood in general – that means two productions. But not now, I have Bejoy Goswami in my mind and I am continually being whipped from within to complete the Harmony affair which August and Rama and Bejoy Goswami have kept in a state of uneasy and dissatisfied swoon. I shall see Nishikanta’s translation today or on Sunday. I am rather overwhelmed today.

 

September 2, 1934

But krodha [wrath] also? Says not the Gita, Sattvatat-sañjāyate Jñānam (from the Sattvaguṇa47 arises wisdom). And Rama’s wrath is of the most unwise, nay puerile brand, pardon me. Take for instance his insulting Sita the second time (after Valmiki’s testimony at that) by commanding her to give more proofs of her chastity before the rabble whereupon she seeks shelter into the earth. Instantly Rama’s love which was conspicuous by its absence a moment ago, becomes flamboyant avyavasthitachittasya prasādopibhayaṅkara [even the grace of the volatile is catastrophic, says the sage] and he shouts krodhaśokasamāviṣṭa [overpowered with anger and grief] (a quizzical Avatar that!) to Mother Earth, “Anaya tvaṃ hi tāmsītām mattoham maithilīkṛte” [Restore that Sita of mine for I am out of my senses]. Qu’en dites-vous? Can a truly sāttvik man be in the throes of such an insane passion of rage? Also I find myself in a typhoon of confusion to puzzle over your admission of such a thing as an unconscious avatar. For that to me seems a contradiction in terms – an impossibility: that of an Avatar being blind! Good Lord, then the Upanishad was wrong after all in ridiculing the trustfulness of the “blind who are led by the blind”!

Then why does the Gita praise the sāttvik so enthusiastically? I should have supposed that a sāttvik man could not behave as insanely as a tāmasik type? Also I do not quite follow your analogy about the normal moments of Sri Chaitanya. For it is a fact that he had his super-normal (or superconscient if you will) moments too and it was that which made all the difference in the world, did it not?

Why should not Rama have kāma [lust] as well as prema [love]? They were supposed to go together as between husband and wife in ancient India. The performances of Rama in the viraha of Sita are due to Valmiki’s poetic idea which was also Kalidasa’s and everybody else’s in those far-off times about how a complete lover should behave in such a quandary. Whether the actual Rama bothered himself to do all that is another matter.

As for the unconscious Avatar, why not? Chaitanya is supposed to be an Avatar by the Vaishnavas48, yet he was conscious of the Godhead behind only when that Godhead came in front and possessed him on rare occasions. Christ said “I and my father are one,” but yet he always spoke and behaved as if there were a difference. Ramakrishna’s earlier period was that of one seeking God, not aware from the first of his identity. These are the reputed religious Avatars who ought to be more conscious than a man of action like Rama. And supposing the full and permanent consciousness why should the Avatar proclaim himself except on rare occasions to an Arjuna or to a few bhaktas or disciples? It is for others to find out what he is – though he does not deny when others speak of him as That, he is not always saying and perhaps never may say or only in moments like that of the Gita, “I am He.”

 

September 3, 1934

No time for a full answer to your renewed remarks on Rama tonight. You are intrigued only because you stick to the standard modern measuring rods of moral and spiritual perfection (introduced by [?] and Bankim) for the Avatar – while I start from another standpoint altogether and resolutely refuse these standard human measures. The ancient Avatars except Buddha were not either standards of perfection or spiritual teachers – in spite of the Gita which was spoken, says Krishna, in a moment of supernormal consciousness which he lost immediately afterwards. They were, if I may say so, representative cosmic men who were instruments of a divine Intervention for fixing certain things in the evolution of the earth-race. I stick to that and refuse to submit myself in this argument to any other standard whatever.

I did not admit that Rama was a blind Avatar, but offered you two alternatives of which the latter represents my real view founded on the impression made on me by the Ramayana that Rama knew very well but refused to be talkative about it – his business being not to disclose the Divine, but to fix mental, moral and emotional man (not to originate him, for he was there already) on the earth as against the Animal and the Rākṣasa demoniacal forces. My argument from Chaitanya (who was for most of the time first a pandit and then a bhakta, but only occasionally the Divine himself) is perfectly rational and logical, if you follow my line and don’t insist on a high specifically spiritual consciousness for the Avatar. I shall point out what I mean in my next.

By sattwic man I do not mean a moral or an always self-controlled one, but a predominantly mental (as opposed to a vital or merely physical man) who has rajasic emotions and passions, but lives predominantly according to his mind and its will and ideas. There is no such thing, I suppose, as a purely sattwic man – since the three gunas go always together in a state of unstable equilibrium – but a predominantly sattwic man is what I have described. My impression of Rama from Valmiki is such – it is quite different from yours. I am afraid your picture of him is quite out of focus – you efface the main lines of the characters, belittle and brush out all the lights to which Valmiki gave so much value and prominence and hammer always at some details and some parts of shadow which you turn into the larger part of Rama. That is what the debunkers do – but a debunked figure is not the true figure.

By the way, a sattwic man can have a strong passion and strong anger – and when he lets the latter loose, the normally violent fellow is simply nowhere. Witness the outbursts of anger of Christ, the indignation of Chaitanya – and the general evidence of experience and psychology on that point. All this however by the way – I shall try to develop later.

P.S. The trait of Rama which you give as that of an undeveloped man, viz., his decisive spontaneous action according to the will and the idea that came to him, is a trait of the cosmic man and many Vibhūtis, men of action of the large Caesarean or Napoleonic type. That also I hope to develop some time.

 

September 4, 1934

When I said, “Why not an unconscious Avatar?” I was taking your statement (not mine) that Rama was unconscious and how could there be an unconscious Avatar. My own view is that Rama was not blind, not unconscious of his Avatarhood, only uncommunicative about it. But I said that even taking your statement to be correct, the objection was not insuperable. I instanced the case of Chaitanya and the others, because there the facts are hardly disputable. Chaitanya for the first part of his life was simply Nimai Pandit and had no consciousness of being anything else. Then he had his conversion and became the bhakta Chaitanya. This bhakta at times seemed to be possessed by the presence of Krishna, knew himself to be Krishna, spoke, moved and appeared with the light of the Godhead – none around him could think of or see him as anything else when he was in this glorified and transfigured condition. But from that he fell back to the ordinary consciousness of the bhakta and, as I have read in his biography, refused then to consider himself as anything more. These, I think, are the facts. Well, then what do they signify? Was he only Nimai Pandit at first? It is quite conceivable that he was so and the descent of the Godhead into him only took place after his conversion and spiritual change. But also afterwards when he was in his normal bhakta-consciousness, was he then no longer the Avatar? An intermittent Avatarhood? Krishna coming down for an afternoon call into Chaitanya and then going up again till the time came for the next visit? I find it difficult to believe in this phenomenon. The rational explanation is that in the phenomenon of Avatarhood there is a Consciousness behind at first veiled or sometimes perhaps half-veiled which is that of the Godhead and a frontal consciousness, human or apparently human or at any rate with all the appearance of terrestriality which is the instrumental Personality. In that case, it is possible that the secret Consciousness was all along there, but waited to manifest until after the conversion; and it manifested intermittently because the main work of Chaitanya was to establish the type of a spiritual and psychic bhakti and love in the emotional vital part of man, preparing the vital in us in that way to turn towards the Divine – at any rate, to fix that possibility in the earth-nature. It was not that there had not been the emotional type of bhakti before; but the completeness of it, the élan, the vital’s rapture in it had never manifested as it manifested in Chaitanya. But for that work it would never have done if he had always been in the Krishna consciousness; he would have been the Lord to whom all gave bhakti, but not the supreme example of the divine ecstatic bhakta. But still the occasional manifestation showed who he was and at the same time evidenced the mystic law of the Immanence.

Voilà – for Chaitanya. But, if Chaitanya, the frontal consciousness, the instrumental Personality, was all the time the Avatar, yet except in his highest moments was unconscious of it and even denied it, that pushed a little farther would establish the possibility of what you call an unconscious Avatar, that is to say, of one in which the veiled Consciousness might not come in front but always move the instrumental Personality from behind. The frontal consciousness might be aware in the inner parts of its being that it was only an instrument of something Divine which was its real Self, but outwardly would think, speak and behave as if it were only the human being doing a given work with a peculiar power and splendour. Whether there was such an Avatar or not is another matter, but logically it is possible.

 

September 5, 1934

I am very glad of what you have written. I would very much have liked all along if your path had been painless and sunlit, but as it was not to be the next best is that the clouded and stormy path should lead you towards the Light. I have no doubt – and never doubted – that it will and I trust that a sunnier (transit) is now not far off.

As for perversity – well, I fear it is an element of human nature present in almost all; it is nothing but the vital – not the bigger and nobler part of it, but the smaller wanting to get its own way and twisting about to justify its refusal to change.

I leave Rama then and turn to Harmony and Bejoy Goswami?

 

September 6, 1934

I agree with most of what Krishnaprem says, though one or two things I would put from a different angle. Your reasonings about faith and doubt have been of a rather extravagant kind because they come to this that one must either doubt everything or believe everything however absurd that anybody says. I have repeatedly told you that there is not only room for discrimination in Yoga, but a need for it at every step – otherwise you will get lost in the jungle of things that are not spiritual – as for instance the tangle of what I call the intermediate zone. I have also told you that you are not asked to believe everything told you by anybody and that there is no call to put faith in all the miraculous things narrated about Bejoy Krishna or another. That, I have said, is a question not of faith but of mental belief – and faith is not mental belief in outward facts but an intuition of the inner being about spiritual things. Krishnaprem means the same thing when he says that faith is the light sent down by the higher to the lower personality. As for the epithet “blind” used by Ramakrishna, it means as I said, not ignorantly credulous, but untroubled by the questionings of the intellect and unshaken by outward appearances of fact, e.g. one has faith in the Divine even though the fact seems to be that the world here or at least the human world is driven by undivine forces. One has faith in the Guru even when he uses methods that your intellect cannot grasp or affirms things as true of which you have yet no experience (for if his knowledge and experience are not greater than yours, why did you choose him as a guru?). One has faith in the Path leading to the goal even when the goal is very far off and the way covered by mist and cloud and smitten repeatedly by the thunderbolt. And so on. Even in worldly things man can do nothing great if he has not faith – in the spiritual realm it is still more indispensable. But this faith depends not on ignorant credulity, but on a light that burns inside though not seen by the eyes of the outward mind, a knowledge within that has not yet taken the form of an outer knowledge.

One thing however – I make a distinction between doubt and discrimination. If doubt meant a discriminative questioning as to what might be truth of this or that matter, it would be a part of discrimination and quite admissible; but what is usually meant now by doubt is a negation [positive?] and peremptory which does not stop to investigate, to consider in the light, to try, to enquire, but says at once, “Oh, no, I am never going to take that as possibly true.” That kind of doubt may be very useful in ordinary life, it may be practically useful in battering down established things or established ideas or certain kinds of external controversy to undermine a position that is too dogmatically positive; but I don’t think it is of any positive use in matters even of intellectual inquiry. There is nothing it can do there that impartial discrimination cannot do much better. In spiritual matters discrimination has a huge place, but negating doubt simply stops the path to Truth with its placard “No entry” or its dogmatic “Thus far and no farther.”

As for the intellect it is indispensable to man up to a certain point; after that it becomes an inferior instrument and often misleading and obstructive. It is what I meant when I wrote “Reason was the helper, reason is the bar49.” Intellect has done many things for man; it has helped to raise him high above the animals, at its best it has opened a first view on all great fields of knowledge. But it cannot go beyond that; it cannot get at Truth itself, only at some reflections, forms, representations of it – I myself cannot remember to have ever arrived at anything in the spiritual field by the power of the intellect – I have used it only to help the expression of what I have known and experienced, but even there it is only certain forms that it provided, they were used by another Light and a larger Mind than the intellect. When the intellect tried to decide things in this field, it always delayed matters. I suppose what it can do sometimes is to stir up the mind, plough it or prepare – but the knowledge comes only when one gets another higher than intellectual opening. Even in Mind itself there are things higher than the intellect, ranges of activity that exceed it. Spiritual knowledge is easier to these than to the reasoning intelligence.

 

September 7, 1934

The faith is there, not in your mind, not in your vital, but in your psychic being. It was this faith that flung you out of the world and brought you to Pondicherry; it is this faith that keeps you to what the soul wills and refuses to go back on what it has decided. Even the mind’s questionings have been a groping after some justification by which it can get an excuse for believing in spite of its difficulties. The vital’s eagerness and its Vairagya are shadows of this faith, forms which it has taken in order to keep the vital from giving up in spite of the pressure of despondency and struggle. Even in the mind and vital of the man of strongest mental and vital faith there are periods when the knowledge in the psychic gets covered up – but it persists behind the veil. In you the eclipse has been strong and long because owing to certain mental and vital formations, the assent of the mind and vital got clouded over and could only take negative forms. But there is always the knowledge or intuition in the soul that started you on the way. I have been pressing on you the need of faith because the assent has again to take a positive form so as to give free way to the Divine Force; but the persistent drive in the soul (which is a hidden and externally suppressed faith) is itself sufficient to warrant the expectation of the Grace to come.

 

September 11, 1934

I have said that the most decisive way for the Peace or the Silence to come is by a descent from above. In fact, in reality though not always in appearance, that is how they always come; – not in appearance always, because the sadhak is not always conscious of the process; he feels the peace settling in him or at least manifesting, but he has not been conscious how and whence it came. Yet it is the truth that all that belongs to the higher consciousness comes from above, not only the spiritual peace and silence, but the Light, the Power, the Knowledge, the higher seeing and thought, the Ananda come from above. It is also possible that up to a certain point they may come from within, but this is because the psychic being is open to them directly and they come first there and then reveal themselves in the rest of the being from the psychic or by its coming into the front. A disclosure from within or a descent from above, these are the two sovereign ways of the Yoga-siddhi. An effort of the external surface mind or emotions, a Tapasya of some kind may seem to build up some of these things, but the results are usually uncertain and fragmentary, compared to the result of the two radical ways. That is why in this Yoga we insist always on an “opening” – an opening inwards of the inner mind, vital, physical to the inmost part of us, the psychic, and an opening upwards to what is above the mind – as indispensable for the fruits of the sadhana.

The underlying reason for this is that this little mind, vital and body which we call ourselves is only a surface movement and not our “self” at all. It is an external bit of personality put forward for one brief life, for the play of the Ignorance. It is equipped with an ignorant mind stumbling about in search of fragments of truth, an ignorant vital rushing about in search of fragments of pleasure, an obscure and mostly subconscious physical receiving the impacts of things and suffering rather than possessing a resultant pain or pleasure. All that is accepted until the mind gets disgusted and starts looking about for the real Truth of itself and things, the vital gets disgusted and begins wondering whether there is not such a thing as real bliss and the physical gets tired and wants liberation from itself and its pains and pleasures. Then it is possible for the little ignorant bit of personality to get back to its real Self and with it to these greater things – or else to extinction of itself, Nirvana.

The real Self is not anywhere on the surface but deep within and above. Within is the soul supporting an inner mind, inner vital, inner physical in which there is a capacity for universal wideness and with it for the things now asked for – direct contact with the truth of self and things, taste of a universal bliss, liberation from the imprisoned smallness and sufferings of the gross physical body. Even in Europe the existence of something behind the surface is now very frequently admitted, but its nature is mistaken and it is called subconscient or subliminal, while really it is very conscious in its own way and not subliminal but only behind the veil. It is, according to our psychology, connected with the small outer personality by certain centres of consciousness of which we become aware by Yoga. Only a little of the inner being escapes through these centres into the outer life, but that little is the best part of ourselves and responsible for our art, poetry, philosophy, ideals, religious aspirations, efforts at knowledge and perfection. But the inner centres are for the most part closed or asleep – to open them and make them awake and active is one aim of Yoga. As they open, the powers and possibilities of the inner being also are aroused in us; we awake first to a larger consciousness and then to a cosmic consciousness; we are no longer little separate personalities with limited lives but centres of a universal action and in direct contact with cosmic forces. Moreover, instead of being unwilling playthings of the latter, as is the surface person, we can become to a certain extent conscious and masters of the play of nature – how far this goes depending on the development of the inner being and its opening upward to the higher spiritual levels. At the same time the opening of the heart centre releases the psychic being which proceeds to make us aware of the Divine within us and of the higher Truth above us.

For the highest spiritual Self is not even behind our personality and bodily existence but is above it and altogether exceeds it. The highest of the inner centres is in the head, just as the deepest is the heart; but the centre which opens directly to the Self is above the head, altogether outside the physical body, in what is called the subtle body, sūkṣma śarīra. This Self has two aspects and the results of realising it correspond to these two aspects. One is static, a condition of wide peace, freedom, silence: the silent Self is unaffected by any action or experience; it impartially supports them but does not seem to originate them at all, rather to stand back detached or unconcerned, udāsīna. The other aspect is dynamic and that is experienced as a cosmic Self or Spirit which not only supports but originates and contains the whole cosmic action – not only that part of it which concerns our physical selves but also all that is beyond it – this world and all other worlds, the supraphysical as well as the physical ranges of the universe. Moreover, we feel the Self as one in all; but also we feel it as above all, transcendent, surpassing all individual birth or cosmic existence. To get into the universal Self – one in all – is to be liberated from ego; ego either becomes a small instrumental circumstance in the consciousness or even disappears from our consciousness altogether. That is the extinction or Nirvana of the ego. To get into the transcendent self above all makes us capable of transcending altogether even cosmic consciousness and action – it can be the way to that complete liberation from the world-existence which is called also extinction, laya [dissolution], moksha, Nirvana.

It must be noted however that the opening upward does not necessarily lead to peace, silence and Nirvana only. The sadhak becomes aware not only of a great, eventually an infinite peace, silence, wideness above us, above the head as it were and extending into all physical and supraphysical space, but also he can become aware of other things – a vast Force in which is all Power, a vast Light in which is all knowledge, a vast Ananda in which is all bliss and rapture. At first they appear as something essential, indeterminate, absolute, simple, kevala: a Nirvana into any of these things seems possible. But we can come to see too that this Force contains all forces, this Light all lights, this Ananda all joy and bliss possible. And all this can descend into us. Any of them and all of them can come down, not peace alone; only the safest is to bring down first an absolute calm and peace, for that makes the descent of the rest more secure; otherwise it may be difficult for the external nature to contain or bear so much Force, Light, Knowledge or Ananda. All these things together make what we call the higher spiritual or Divine Consciousness. The psychic opening through the heart puts us primarily into connection with the individual Divine, the Divine in his inner relation with us; it is especially the source of love and bhakti. This upward opening puts us into direct relation with the whole Divine and can create in us the divine consciousness and a new birth or births of the spirit.

When the Peace is established, this higher or Divine Force from above can descend and work in us. It descends usually first into the head and liberates the inner mind centres, then into the heart centre and liberates fully the psychic and emotional being, then into the navel and other vital centres and liberates the inner vital, then into the Muladhara and below and liberates the inner physical being. It works at the same time for perfection as well as liberation; it takes up the whole nature part by part and deals with it, rejecting what has to be rejected, sublimating what has to be sublimated, creating what has to be created. It integrates, harmonises, establishes a new rhythm in the nature. It can bring down too a higher and yet higher force and range of the higher nature until, if that be the aim of the sadhana, it becomes possible to bring down the supramental force and existence. All this is prepared, assisted, farthered by the work of the psychic being in the heart centre; the more it is open, in front, active, the quicker, safer, easier the working of the Force can be. The more love and bhakti and surrender grow in the heart, the more rapid and perfect becomes the evolution of the sadhana. For the descent and transformation imply at the same time an increasing contact and union with the Divine.

That is the fundamental rationale of this sadhana. It will be evident that the two most important things here are the opening of the heart centre and the opening of the mind centres to all that is behind and above them. For the heart opens to the psychic being and the mind centres open to the higher consciousness and the nexus between the psychic being and the higher consciousness is the principal means of the siddhi. The first opening is effected by a concentration in the heart, a call to the Divine to manifest within us and through the psychic to take up and lead the whole nature. Aspiration, prayer, bhakti, love, surrender are the main supports of this part of the sadhana – accompanied by a rejection of all that stands in the way of what we aspire for. The second opening is effected by a concentration of the consciousness in the head (afterwards, above it) and an aspiration and call and a sustained will for the descent of the divine Peace, Power, Light, Knowledge, Ananda into the being – the Peace first or the Peace and Force together. Some indeed receive Light first or Ananda first or some sudden pouring down of Knowledge. With some there is first an opening which reveals to them a vast infinite Silence, Force, Light or Bliss above them and afterwards either they ascend to that or these things begin to descend into the lower nature. With others there is either the descent, first into the head, then down to the heart level, then to the navel and below and through the whole body, or else an inexplicable opening – without any sense of descent – of peace, light, wideness or power, or else a horizontal opening into the cosmic consciousness or in a suddenly widened mind an outburst of knowledge. Whatever comes has to be welcomed – for there is no absolute rule for all – but if the peace has not come first, care must be taken not to swell oneself in exultation or lose the balance. The capital movement however is when the Divine Force or Shakti, the power of the Mother comes down and takes hold, for then the organisation of the consciousness begins and the larger foundation of the Yoga.

The result of the concentration is not usually immediate – though to some there comes a swift and sudden outflowering; but with most there is a time longer or shorter of adaptation or preparation, especially if the nature has not been prepared already to some extent by aspiration and Tapasya. The coming of the result can sometimes be aided by associating with the concentration one of the processes of the old Yoga. There is the Adwaita process of the way of knowledge – one rejects from oneself the identification with the mind, vital, body, saying continually “I am not the mind,” “I am not the vital,” “I am not the body,” seeing these things as separate from one’s real self – and after a time one feels all the mental, vital, physical processes and the very sense of mind, vital, body becoming externalised, an outer action, while within and detached from them there grows the sense of a separate self-existent being which opens into the realisation of the cosmic and transcendent spirit. There is also the method – a very powerful method – of the Sankhyas, the separation of the Purusha and the Prakriti. One enforces on the mind the position of the Witness – all action of mind, vital, physical becomes an outer play which is not myself or mine, but belongs to Nature and has been enforced on an outer me. I am the witness Purusha; I am silent, detached, not bound by any of these things. There grows up in consequence a division in the being; the sadhak feels within him the growth of a calm silent separate consciousness which feels itself quite apart from the surface play of the mind and the vital and physical Nature. Usually when this takes place, it is possible very rapidly to bring down the peace of the higher consciousness and the action of the higher Force and the full march of the Yoga. But often the Force itself comes down first in response to the concentration and call and then, if these things are necessary, it does them and uses any other means or process that is helpful or indispensable.

One thing more. In this process of the descent from above and the working it is most important not to rely entirely on oneself, but to rely on the guidance of the Mother and myself and to refer all that happens to us. For it often happens that the forces of the lower nature are stimulated and excited by the descent and want to mix with it and turn it to their profit. If there is the assent of the sadhak to the Divine working alone and the submission or surrender to the guidance, then all can go smoothly. This assent and a rejection of all egoistic forces or forces that appeal to the ego are the safeguard throughout the sadhana. This is the reason why in this Yoga we insist so much on what we call Samarpaṇa – rather inadequately rendered by the English word surrender. If the heart centre is fully opened and the psychic is in control, then there is no question; all is safe. But the psychic can at any moment be veiled by a lower upsurge. It is only a few who are exempt from these dangers and it is precisely those to whom surrender is easily possible. The guidance of one who himself is by identity or represents the divine is in this difficult endeavour imperative and indispensable.

In suggesting to you to concentrate in the head and heart, I have really been asking you to take up this central method of the Yoga. What I have written may help you to get some clear idea of what I mean by this process. I have written at some length but, naturally, could cover only the fundamental things. Whatever belongs to circumstance and detail must arise as one works out the method or rather as it works itself out – for the last is what usually happens when there is an effective beginning of the action of the sadhana.

 

September 13, 1934

Very grateful. I meditated as usual before pranam. But after, I had a lot of correspondence etc. to attend to and am going to quote the following from a long letter of a Professor whom Saratchandra50 has asked to convey to me the following (he is very unwell, so can’t write):

Sarat Chandra has requested me to write to you his opinion about your novel “Ranger Paras”. Again and again he was telling: “It is a wonderful book from the point of view of literary language, idea and also as a novel. I urge all aspiring authors to study this book carefully and with patience. You will be benefitted and will learn a lot about many things from this book. This book is much superior than those books which are generally published now-a-days in Bengali literature and receive praises. This is no doubt a wonderful piece of literature.”

He (Sarat Chandra) has no doubt that this book will get a special place in modern Bengali literature. On the whole the book is a masterly creation.

This is no formal praise as you can see. So can’t help a little unyogic joy to hear such lavish encomium bestowed on my novel by the greatest novelist of Bengal (of India that is) and one of the greatest novelist of all ages. Your blessings!

It is indeed very high praise, as high as any man can give to another’s work and coming from Saratchandra it would exalt anybody. Congratulations!

 

September 19, 1934

The Mother understood that it was for the difficulty of concentration that you wanted to see her, but that is not a thing which can be dealt with in five minutes and she had no time before one o’clock today, so she fixed tomorrow. I am certainly not helping you only with letters, but doing it whenever I get some time for concentration and I notice that when I can do it with sufficient energy and at some length there is a response. But this habit of sadness of yours is very much in the way – you ought to take it by the neck and throw it out of you altogether. How on earth can there be a steady progress when at every second moment you are telling yourself or letting something tell you that there is no hope for you in Yoga. A steady will and perseverance in face of all difficulties is surely a proper condition for success – even if you think peace and cheerfulness are obstacles. What a strange idea! And it is not easy to have a steady will and perseverance if you are always listening to these voices of discouragement and even taking that as the best condition for getting the Divine! You speak of the impossibility of being cheerful when you don’t immediately get what you want, but what then do you make of Ramakrishna’s story of Narad and the yogi ascetic and the Vaishnava bhakta – which I suppose you know? Surely Ramakrishna knew something about Yoga and what was possible there.

You can send our blessings to Miss [Tyabji?]. I suppose she is not the one I used to see in Baroda – at a distance, for I had no personal acquaintance with her. Her father I met often and knew very well.

I don’t think the Nirvana letter will help you very much, but I will see about it. I have to make some last corrections.

 

September 23, 1934

To Mother

Today I have had a most vivid dream which is almost unique in a way as it was full of not only devotion but ananda from the start. It was like this: I had it just now about 3.30 p.m. I think. It is now 4.

After my midday meal I read for a while Jules Romain’s famous novel Les Hommes de Bonne Volonté and then read a little Gita and Bejoy Krishna and began to do japa of your name, but not concentration properly speaking. I did japa and prayed to you for quite an hour perhaps before I fell asleep. I dreamed this:

I was singing. Suddenly I felt a devotion and sang a song of my father’s composition which I seldom sing, curiously, as it is more a joy of vivid ananda than of aspiration and ananda I seldom feel, if at all. It runs like this

Ebār tore chinechhi Mā ār ki Shyāmā tore chhāri

Bhaber dukhah bhaber jwālā pathiye dichchi jamer bāri

which may be translated thus:

“I have come to know Thee (O) Mother mine never more shall I let Thee part

Now is gone for ever all sorrow of the earth and shadowing afflictions dark.”

In the original the song is extremely beautiful both as a poem and as a musical composition of joy.

As I was singing my voice became so thick with ecstasy (in the dream I mean) that I could hardly sing it and was marvelling – as I could emit such deep notes from the technical point of view. It is strange that even then I was appreciating my musical technique and execution when tears were flowing fast! But it was extremely vivid! And my whole being was invaded by a sweetness and joy (not waves of any sort as I have before had without peace or joy) and love and ananda that it was difficult not to melt in gratefulness to you.

Suddenly I felt it must be told you. And you appeared and sat on my cot where I was singing. I then fell on your feet and told you all that weeping profusely. You caressed me sweetly and then I dreamed of Sri Aurobindo too (helping Rameshwar De of Chandernagore with a letter, etc. – queer! – and all sorts of confidential questions he was asking me thereanent!!) and it was most delectable and lovely. Then you said to me: “Now don’t indulge your movements of dark despair and keep your promise in the song.” It is a most cogent song, a cogent weeping and cogent advice and last though not least a most cogent joy!! N’est-ce pas? [Isn’t it?]

A very good dream and true. It is something that has happened in the vital and a very good happening.

As for Rameshwar, it is very likely that communication takes place in the vital, for there he has an aspiration and has made some progress there, not exactly Yogic, but of the preparatory kind.

 

September 23, 1934

After reading Krishnaprem’s exposition, I saw what might be said from the intellectual point of view on this question so as to link the reality of the supreme Freedom with the phenomenon of the Determinism of Nature – in a different way from his, but to the same purpose. It would be a little long and I had no time. In reality, the freedom and the determination are only two sides of the same thing – for the fundamental truth is self-determination, a self-determination of the cosmos and in it a secret self-determination of the individual. The difficulty arises from the fact that we live in the surface mind of ignorance, do not know what is going on behind and see only the phenomenal process of Nature. There the apparent fact is an overwhelming determinism of Nature and as our surface consciousness is part of that process, we are unable to see the other term of the biune reality. For practical purposes on the surface there is an entire determinism in Matter – though this is now disputed by the latest school of Science. As life emerges a certain plasticity sets in, so that it is difficult to predict anything exactly as one predicts material things that obey a rigid law. The plasticity increases with the growth of Mind, so that man can have at least a sense of free-will, of a choice of his action, of a self-movement which at least helps to determine circumstances. But this freedom is dubious because it can be declared to be an illusion, a device of Nature, part of its machinery of determination, only a seeming freedom or at most a restricted, relative and subject independence. It is only when one goes behind away from Prakriti to Purusha and upward away from Mind to spiritual Self that the side of freedom comes to be first evident and then, by unison with the Will which is above Nature, complete. But to show and elaborate that would take much space.

 

September 27, 1934

(A letter from Dr. S. Radhakrishnan of Andhra University, again asking Sri Aurobindo for a statement to be included in a volume on “Contemporary British Philosophy”. Sri Aurobindo’s annotations were written on the letter.)

My dear Mr. Dilip Kumar Roy,

Your letter of the 9th instant. I realise that Sri Aurobindo will be very much pre-occupied with other things. But, may I impose on you the real importance of a specific contribution from him for purposes of this volume. You are possibly aware that for the volume on Contemporary British Philosophy men like Bossanquet, Bertrand Russell, Haldane and McTaggart, among others, made their contributions. The volume on Contemporary Indian Philosophy will not be worth the name without a statement from Sri Aurobindo. I feel that he will realise the enormous importance of a special contribution for this volume, not for my sake or for his sake, but for the sake of our country. If you do not have a copy of the Contemporary British Philosophy there, on hearing from you, I will send you a volume from which you will get a general idea.

Let him send the volume – in God’s name – let us see face to face what kind of public enormity we are up against.

Interesting as this letter to Mr. Chadwick is, I am afraid it will not do as a statement of Sri Aurobindo’s convictions on the central problems of God, Man and his Destiny. If he sets down his thoughts on these problems, we will be able to put it in. You may put a series of questions asking him to state in a summary form his views on God, the nature of the Human Soul, its Destiny, and if you get rounded answers to them, we may possibly use that as his contribution.

O Lord, Lord, Lord! the very idea leaves me in a state of dull petrified horror! Rounded answers indeed! Pills for the public!

I hope you at least realise my anxiety in this whole matter.

I at least do. I wish to God he were less anxious. He is constantly after me and determined to have my scalp.

I am returning the paper and shall be delighted to see the other thing on the Avatarhood of Rama.

With kind regards,

Yours sincerely,
S. Radhakrishnan

This sort of thing makes me wish I had lived in the times of Krishna and not reproduced myself now. There were no beastly publications then.

(Dilip’s note:) I had sent him what you wrote on McTaggart51 etc. suggesting if that were suitable, well you might – qui sait [who knows] – permit. But now – qu’en dites-vous [what do you say]? An emphatic no – toujours [always]?

What on earth made you send McTaggart? He is after bigger fish than that.

(Dilip’s note:) If you want a volley of questions on God ou bien n’importe quoi, vous n’avez qu’à me le suggérer [or whatever else, you only have to suggest it to me]. You know in this province Dilip is entirely your man, if in nothing else through the silence of the Supramental.

An inspiration! Eureka. Why not predestination of my uncle brand? Or if that is tough – the Nirvana and Harmony? Please think. And apropos do send Nirvana anyhow.

Nirvana as I have written it is too personal and Harmony is only half written. Besides it is not a philosophic view.

I am iced up today under a huge glacier of correspondence! Nothing doing. So I reserve this [?] of the musician for more considered and considerate treatment.

 

September 30, 1934

I am sorry to have to thrust upon you something. It is rather urgent for the Art Book of Haren Ghosh52 you know: Prithwi Singh’s friend. He has asked me to contribute an article. I have written half of the article “Modern Bengali Music and Classicism.” There my father’s music naturally comes in he having been one of the greatest of modern composers if not the greatest. So this song I have had to translate for the article. Please correct. I have been fairly faithful I think? But what about my rendering? Will it do? If not, with your corrections it must. So please correct without ruth – please do.

This song is one of his most lovely ones in poetry, rhythm, melody, tune and substance, I believe it is somewhat psychic? Anyway it is very lovely in its melancholy and delicacy, is it not? If possible please read it out to Mother after your corrections.

P.S. Apropos strength and perseverance, the other day Prithwi Singh was discussing with Anilkumar before me (I didn’t join, simply listened) and said that effort was not needed for us except only to open ourselves, that outsiders have to make effort etc. but we have nothing to do.

I know it all in my own way. Surrender, I do pray for it with all my heart you can believe me. But I am under a great difficulty: I feel surrender comes after a lot of effort – at least for the likes of me. I feel this surrender just now after six years, you know how I dreaded the very idea of surrender once. But effort I always liked as I am not conscious, in life, of having achieved anything without effort. But then Prithwi Singh is also right perhaps in a way in that effort presupposes egoism and surrender, since you say so, must be easier. But to whom? Not to all. To a man like Dilip effort is perhaps easier, is it not? (I ask to learn not to state my opinion, I have no opinion now I obstinately cling to and state them to be corrected.)

And then opening oneself. Does it not come after a great deal of effort and struggle as I know from experience. So such as can open spontaneously without effort are surely blessed, it “needs no Holy Ghost to tell us that” but to those who cannot, who struggle and writhe and doubt and weigh and analyse and last though not least, want to retain their self-will?

In the early part of the sadhana – and by early I do not mean a short part – effort is indispensable. Surrender of course, but surrender is not a thing that is done in a day. The mind has its ideas and it clings to them – no human vital but resists surrender, for what it calls surrender in the early stages is a self-giving with a demand in it – the physical consciousness is like a stone and what it calls surrender is often no more than inertia. It is only the psychic that knows how to surrender and the psychic is usually very much veiled in the beginning. When the psychic awakes, it can bring a sudden and true surrender of the whole being, for the difficulty of the rest is rapidly dealt with and disappears. But till then effort is indispensable. Or it is necessary till the Force comes flooding down into the being from above and takes up the sadhana, does it for one more and more and leaves less and less to individual effort – but even then, if not effort, at least aspiration and vigilance are needed till the possession of mind, will, life and body by the Divine Power is complete. I have dealt with this subject, I think, in one of the chapters of The Mother53.

On the other hand, there are some people who start with a genuine and dynamic will to surrender; it is those who are governed by the psychic or are governed by a clear and enlightened mental will which, having once accepted surrender as the law of the sadhana, will stand no nonsense about it and insists on the other parts of the being following its direction. Here there is still effort, but it is so ready and spontaneous and has so much the sense of a greater Force behind it that the sadhak hardly feels that he is making an effort at all. In the contrary case of a will in mind or vital to retain the self-will, an unwillingness to give up the independent movement, there must be struggle and endeavour until the wall between the instrument in front and the Divinity behind or above is broken. No rule can be laid down which applies without distinction to everybody – the variations in human nature are too great to be covered by a single trenchant rule.

 

October 1934

The other day Prithwi Singh said that Tagore has said your “Life Heavens” [is] not poetry proper. It then occurred to me that I must challenge Tagore who calls you not a poet proper to translate a bunch of your secular sort of poems – say about twenty of them and publish in a small book of about eighty pages with the original on one side. But now that Prithwi Singh is come, we can undertake a mightier task to prove home your sheer poetry. So we propose to do a few of your secular sort of poems like “Night by the Sea” and the whole of “Love and Death,” an ambitious endeavour but worth it. I am fired. Must take up the gauntlet and show these blind people who you are. I propose to take up this task for a month with Nishikanta and Prithwi Singh. Apropos I send you Nishikanta’s translation of your first verse of “Night by the Sea.” I am greatly struck by its beauty and melody and faithfulness and except for “censered honeysuckle guessed by the fragrance of her breast” which we could not quite catch, I believe you will be satisfied. Please explain those two lines. What does it mean? I leave space. Tell me also how you like Nishikanta’s rendering – and if you want improvements anywhere. We will try.

On back please.

I am very much intrigued by Tagore’s dictum. I am always ready to admit and profit by criticism of my poetry however adverse, if it is justified – but I should like to understand it first. Why is it not poetry proper? Is it because it is not good poetry – the images, language, are unpoetic or not sufficiently poetic, the rhythm harsh or flat? Or is it because it is too intellectual, leading in ideas more than visions and feelings? Or is it that the spiritual genre is illegitimate – spiritual subjects not proper for poetic treatment? But in that case much of Tagore’s poetry would be improper, not to speak of Donne54 (now considered a great poet), Vaughan55, Crashaw56, etc., Francis Thompson57 and I don’t know how many others in all climes and ages. Is it the dealing with other worlds that makes it not proper? But what then about Blake58, whose work Housman declares to be the essence of poetry? I am at sea about this “poetry proper.” Did he only use this cryptic expression? Was there nothing elucidatory said which would make it intelligible? Or has Tagore by any chance thought that I was trying to convey a moral lesson or a philosophical tenet – there is nothing of the kind there, it is a frequent experience on the spiritual path that is being described in its own proper, one might almost say, objective figures – and that is surely a method of poetry proper. Or is it that the expression is too hard or clear-cut for the soft rondos of poetry proper. I swim helplessly in conjectures.

But where the deuce is the back?

Prithwi Singh will do very well in blank verse I think if we work together for a month or so. I mean to take it up as a sadhana with your blessings and will bring out a book like a shot you’ll see. I am extremely annoyed and fired up. And as I have such a talent by me I can tackle it I think. I have done a whole page almost, see. I will give one third to Prithwi Singh (of “Love and Death”) and one third to Nishikanta. After his render[ing?] of “Night by the Sea” you will agree I hope that he is not likely to fail – if you bless him. Prithwi Singh is also willing to do this, as he too is hurt that Tagore should be so limited.

But if three people write, will not the style of the poem be a little disparate?

Apropos I threaten you with a long letter after the 15th doubting your line, “Tagore is on the same path as ours.” I think that this doubt at least will be healthy as Prithwi Singh also was telling me that Tagore is aesthetic and not spiritual – so how in the name of thunder and hailstorm is he on the same path as you – your kindred by blood of Yoga. Qua poet – perhaps but qua spiritual seeker – how? But I will formulate my attack on your contention for all I am worth later – so don’t answer this question now and vanquish me ahead. Wait.

Day after tomorrow I want to pranam you a second time for Subhash, Niren, Maya and Esha59. A minute only – or half-a-minute.

Yes, half a minute is best.

I will examine the translations more closely afterwards. Have had the most cataclysmal two [?] of all my experience – and I have besides to fish out “Songs to Myrtilla.” I have no idea where it is.

What about Nishikanta’s painting? How did you and Mother find it? Has he improved? I find he has greatly improved as a translator by the [?] – but about painting?

Yes, there is progress. It is a very good painting especially from the decorative point of view – a little lacking in charm, but full of strength. He has evidently a great talent.

 

October 2, 1934

Sorry about Niren, but que voulez-vous? [What would you?] Men were like that ever; the little ego first and the rest nowhere. Not all of course – but still. However, your novel seems to have been a great success in spite of all the Parichits [acquaintances] in Calcutta.

As to Radhakrishna, I don’t care whether he is right or wrong in his eagerness to get the blessed contribution from me. But the first fact is that it is quite impossible for me to write philosophy to order. If something comes to me of itself, I can write, if I have time. But I have no time. I had an idea of writing to Adhar Das60 pointing out that he was mistaken in his criticism of my ideas about consciousness and intuition and developing briefly what was my idea about these things. But I have never been able to do it. I might as well think of putting the moon under my arm, Hanumanlike – though in his case it was the sun – and going for a walk. The moon is not available and the walk is not possible. It would be the same if I promised anything to Radhakrishna – it would not get done, and that would be much worse than a refusal.

And the second fact is that I do not care one button about having my name in any blessed place. I was never ardent about fame even in my political days; I preferred to remain behind the curtain, push people without their knowing it and get things done. It was the confounded British Government that spoiled my game by prosecuting me and forcing me to be publicly known as a “leader”. I don’t believe in advertisement except for books and in propaganda except for politics and patent medicines. But for serious work it is a poison. It means either a stunt or a boom – and stunts and booms exhaust the thing they carry on their crest and leave it lifeless and broken high and dry on the shores of nowhere – or it means a movement. A movement in the case of a work like mine means the founding of a school or a sect or some other damned nonsense. It means that hundreds or thousands of useless people join in and corrupt the work or reduce it to a pompous farce from which the Truth that was coming down recedes into secrecy and silence. It is what has happened to the “religions” and the reason of their failure. If I tolerate a little writing about myself, it is only to have a sufficient counter-weight in that amorphous chaos, the public mind, to balance the hostility that is always aroused by the presence of a new dynamic Truth in this world of ignorance. But the utility ends there and too much advertisement would defeat that object. I am perfectly “rational”, I assure you, in my methods and I do not proceed on a mere personal dislike of fame61.

This “Contemporary Philosophy,” British or Indian, looks to me very much like book-making and, though the “vulgarisation” of knowledge – to use the French term – by bookmaking may have its use, I prefer to do solid work and leave that to others. You may say that I can write a solid thing in philosophy and let it be book-made. But even the solid tends to look shoddy in such surroundings. And, besides, my solid work at present is not philosophy but something less wordy and more to the point. If that work gets done, then it will propagate itself so far as propagation is necessary – if it were not to get done, propagation would be useless.

These are my reasons. However, let us wait till the book is there and see what kind of stuff it is.

 

October 4, 1934

It is evident that X put his own interpretation on his conversation with the Mother; the wish was father to the thought. He was excited, although usually he takes things with much coolness and was proposing all sorts of prospects on which the Mother was throwing repeated bucket of very cold water. Finally, it narrowed at a hypothetical possibility of Udayshankar coming back alone and without troupe or fuss – but even so the Mother made no promise and she was very particular that no one should invite him to return. We hear he spoke to several people about coming for darshan but it is to be hoped he will drop the idea, if he seriously has it, out of the train window on his way to Travancore. Not that we have any personal objection to him, but there seems no very solid reason for his returning and we do not appreciate all this excitement created by his presence. And over what? A man who dances? But he did not even dance – the performer was performed to instead of performing. Queer! It sounds like Much Ado About Nothing with the Ashram for stage.

 

October 4, 1934

I have not had time to read Girija’s62 article and see what kind of mouse has been born out of the labour of this particular mountain. So comment is as yet impossible.

In regard to Tagore, I understood from Prithwi Singh that his objections to “The Life Heavens” were personal rather than in principle – that is he himself had no such reference and could not take them as true (for himself), so they aroused in him no emotion – while “Shiva” was just the contrary. I can’t say anything to that, as I could not say anything if somebody condemned a poem of mine root and branch because he did not like it or on good grounds – such as Cousins’ objection to the inferiority of the greater part of “In the Moonlight” to the opening stanzas – I learned a great deal from that objection; it pointed me the way I had to go towards “The Future Poetry.” Not that I did not know before, but it gave precision and point to my previous perception. But still, I don’t quite understand Tagore’s objection. I myself do not take many things as true in poetry e.g. Dante’s Hell, etc. of which I yet feel the emotion. It is surely part of the power of poetry to open new worlds to us as well as to give a supreme voice to our own ideas, experiences and feelings. The “Life Heavens” may not do that for its readers, but, if so, it is a fault of execution, not of principle. As to the theory you spoke of, I fail still clearly to understand it. Are rūpgata and bhābgata the equivalent of subjective and objective? If so, that is a very old quarrel, but one that I thought nobody bothers about now. Tagore’s Gitanjali is itself subjective and was hailed by the world as a new revelation because of that, not because of its objective power. However –. There remains the question of poetic criticism, but that I must postpone as the night’s brief [?] is out.

 

October 5, 1934

I have read Girija, but cannot say I understand him very well. His point seems to be that which would I suppose be urged by all who object to laghu guru63, that you have to read with an intonation which is not natural to Bengali rhythm. But I do not see how he makes the existing laghu guru poems pure Bengali in rhythm. If they are, that seems to me to give away the case against the introduction of Sanskrit laghu guru. However of these things I am no judge. (Where was your answer to him? I seem to have missed it.)

All criticism of poetry is bound to have a strong subjective element in it and that is the source of the violent differences of appreciation of any given author by equally “eminent” critics. All is relative here, Art and Beauty also, and our view of things and our appreciation of them depends on the consciousness which views and appreciates them. Some critics recognise this and go in frankly for a purely subjective appreciation – “this is why I like this and disapprove of that, I give my own appreciation”. Most however try to fit their personal likes and dislikes to some standard of criticism which they conceive to be objective; this need of objectivity, of the support of some impersonal truth independent of our personality, is the main source of theories, canons, standards of art. But the theories, canons, standards themselves vary and are set up in one age only to be broken in another. Is there then no beauty of art independent of our varying mentalities, is beauty a creation of our minds, a construction of our ideas and our senses, but not existent otherwise? In that case Beauty is non-existent in Nature, it is put upon Nature by our minds through adhyāropa [mental imposition]. But this contradicts the fact that it is in response to an object and not independently of it that the idea of beautiful or not beautiful originally rises within us. Beauty does exist in what we see, but there are two aspects of it, essential beauty and the forms it takes. “Eternal beauty wandering on her way” does that wandering by a multitudinous variation of forms appealing to a multitudinous variation of consciousness. There comes in the difficulty. Each individual consciousness tries to seize the eternal beauty expressed in a form (here a particular poem or work of art), but is either assisted by the form or repelled by it, wholly attracted or wholly repelled, or partially attracted and partially repelled. There may be errors in the poet’s or artist’s transcription of beauty which mar the reception, but even these have different effects on different people. But the more radical divergences arise from the variation in the constitution of the mind and its response. Moreover, there are minds, the majority indeed, who do not respond to “artistic” beauty at all – something inartistic appeals much more to what sense of beauty they have – or else they are not seeking beauty, but only vital pleasure.

A critic cannot escape altogether from these limitations. He can try to make himself catholic and objective and find the merit or special character of all he reads or sees in poetry and art, even when they do not evoke his strongest sympathy or deepest response. I have no temperamental sympathy for much of the work of Pope and Dryden, but I can see their extraordinary perfection or force in their own field, the masterly conciseness, energy, point, metallic precision into which they cut their thought or their verse, and I can see too how that can with a little infusion of another quality be the basis of a really great poetic style, as Dryden himself has shown in his best work. But there my appreciation stops; I cannot rise to the heights of admiration of those who put them on a level with or on a higher level than Wordsworth, Keats or Shelley – I cannot escape from the feeling that their work, even though more consistently perfect within their limits and in their own manner (at least Pope’s), was less great in poetic quality. These divergences rise from a conception of beauty and a feeling for beauty which belongs to the temperament. Housman’s64 exaltation of Blake rises directly from his feeling and peculiar conception of poetic beauty as appealing to an inner sensation, an appeal marred and a beauty deflowered by coherent intellectual thought. But that I shall not discuss now. This however does not mean that all criticism is without any true use. The critic can help to open the mind to the kinds of beauty he himself sees and not only to see but to appreciate at their full value certain elements that make them beautiful or give them their peculiar beauty. Housman, for instance, may help many minds to see a beauty in Blake which they did not see before. They may not agree with him in his comparison of Blake and Shakespeare, but they can follow him to a certain extent and seize better that element in poetic beauty which he overstresses but makes at the same time more vividly visible.

 

October 6, 1934

Yes, of course there is an intuition of greatness by which the great poet or artist is distinguished from those who are less great and these again from the not-great-at-all. But you are asking too much when you expect this intuition to work with a mechanical instantaneousness and universality so that all shall have the same opinion and give the same values. The greatness of Shakespeare, of Dante, of others of the same rank is unquestioned and unquestionable and the recognition of it has always been there in their own time and afterwards. Virgil and Horace stood out in their own day in the first rank among the poets and that verdict has never been reversed since. The area of a poet’s fame may vary; it may have been seen first by a few, then by many, then by all. At first there may be adverse critics and assailants, but these negative voices die away. Questionings may rise from time to time – e.g. as to whether Lucretius was not a greater poet than Virgil – but these are usually from individuals and the general verdict abides always. Even lesser poets retain their rank in spite of fluctuations of their fame. You speak of the discrediting of some and the rehabilitation of the discredited. That happened to Pope and Dryden. Keats and his contemporaries broke their canons and trampled over their corpses to reach romantic freedom; now there is a rehabilitation. But all this is something of an illusion – for mark that even at the worst Pope and Dryden retained a place among the great names of English literature. No controversy, no depreciation could take that away from them. This proves my contention that there is an abiding intuition of poetic and artistic greatness.

The attempts at comparison by critics like Housman and Eliot? It seems to me that these are irrelevant and otiose. Both Dante and Shakespeare stand at the summit of poetic fame, but each with so different a way of genius that comparison is unprofitable. Shakespeare has powers which Dante cannot rival; Dante has heights which Shakespeare could not reach; but in essence they stand as mighty equals. As for Blake and Shakespeare, that opinion is more a personal fantasy than anything else. Purity and greatness are not the same thing; Blake’s may be pure poetry in Housman’s sense and Shakespeare’s not except in a few passages; but nobody can contend that Blake’s genius had the width and volume and richness of Shakespeare’s. If you say that Blake as a mystic poet was greater than Shakespeare, of course he was – for Shakespeare was not a mystic poet at all. But as a poet of the play of life Shakespeare is everywhere and Blake nowhere. These are tricks of language and idiosyncrasies of preference. One has only to put each thing in its place without confusing issues and one can see that Housman’s praise of Blake may be justified but the exaltation of him above Shakespeare on the whole is not in accordance with the abiding intuition of these things which remains undisturbed by any individual verdict.

The errors of great poets in judging their contemporaries are personal freaks – that is to say, failures in intuition due to the mind’s temporary movements getting in the way of the intuition. The errors of Goethe and Bankim were only an overestimation of a genius or a talent that was new and therefore attractive at the time. Richardson’s Pamela was after all the beginning of modern fiction. I don’t know anything about Sarajubala. As I have said, the general intuition does not work at once and with a mechanical accuracy. Over-estimation of a contemporary is frequent, under-estimation also. But, taken on the whole, the real poet commands at first the verdict of the few whose eyes are open – and often the attacks of those whose eyes are shut – and the few grow in numbers till the general intuition affirms their verdict65.

As for the verdict of Englishmen upon a French poet or vice versa, that is due to a difficulty in entering into the finer spirit and subtleties of a foreign language. It is difficult for a Frenchman to get a proper appreciation of Keats or Shelley or for an Englishman to judge Racine, for this reason. But a Frenchman like Maurois who knows English as an Englishman knows it, can get the full estimation of a poet like Shelley all right. These variations must be allowed for; the human mind is not a perfect instrument, its best intuitions are veiled by irrelevant mental formations; but in these matters the truth affirms itself and stands fairly firm and clear in essence through all changes of mental weather.

 

October 8, 1934

(...) Suhrawardy’s66 opinion about Harin’s poetry does not surprise me. The latest craze in English is either for intellectual quintessence or sensation (not creations) of life, while any emotional and ideal element in poetry is considered as a deadly sin. But beautiful poetry remains beautiful poetry even if it is not in the current style. And after all Yeats and A.E. are still there in spite of this new fashion of the last one or two decades.

 

October 9, 1934

I repeat what I said about the Mother: when you were with her, especially in the midst of the concentration she felt a flow of sympathy and love for you far greater than ever before. You have been badly treated by your friends and the Mother feels much for you on that account. But believe this that our friendship, our affection for you will not fail you or falter.

All are not indifferent in this Ashram to each other, nor is friendship or affection excluded from the Yoga. Friendship with the Divine is a recognised relation in the sadhana. Friendships between the sadhaks exist and are encouraged by the Mother. Only we seek to found them on a surer basis than that on which the bulk of human friendships are insecurely founded. It is precisely because we hold friendship, brotherhood, love to be sacred things that we want this change – because we do not want to see them broken at every moment by the movements of the ego, soiled and spoiled and destroyed by the passions, jealousies, treacheries to which the vital is prone – it is to make them truly sacred and secure that we want them rooted in the soul founded on the rock of the Divine. Our Yoga is not an ascetic Yoga: it aims indeed at purity, but not at a cold austerity. Friendship and love are indispensable notes in the harmony to which we aspire. It is not a vain dream, for we have seen that even in imperfect conditions when a little of the indispensable element is there at the very root the thing is possible. It is difficult and the old obstacles still cling obstinately. But no victory can be won without a fixed fidelity to the aim and a long effort. There is no other way than to persevere.

 

October 10, 1934

Nishikanta’s translation.

(1) I agree that kallolita sounds more poetic than chhalita [two words meaning “billow”], but Nolini’s objection is probably that it says too much – more than the “subtle rhythms” of the English want to say. (2) I would rather something of the “great” idea were kept, if it can be. Is asurer surā [the asura’s wine] bound to give the impression of something anti-divine? It is the idea of vastness, massiveness, immense intensity that I wanted to give. (3) I cannot judge about anu [atom]. It is not absolutely necessary to translate cells, if atoms will do as well. It seems to me that projjwal [luminous] is rather needed and the line is weaker without it. (4) I am doubtful too about māngsha pinda [a lump of flesh]. It is brutal but vivid – sthūla shankā [coarse doubt] avoids the brutality, but loses the vividness. In English “flesh” is vivid and concrete without being brutal.

The translations are very good indeed – only the last two lines of the octet are not up to the mark because, I suppose they can’t be. “Opal and hyaline” (hyaline unlike “glossy” or “vitreous”) give a sense of a subtle supraphysical glow and light which the Bengali words, I imagine, can’t do. Also the Unknown and the Supreme are mostly indefinite while acenā se sarbeśwar [unknown is that Lord of everything] in spite of his being unknown is much too definite and familiar a gentleman for any such effect. However!

Nishikanta’s poetry has undergone a great change. I did not appreciate it very highly because it was too vital and turbid, but on his sonnets he has acquired a power of substance, clarity and order which raises his work to a much higher level. He has certainly justified himself as a poet.

The proper rule about literalness, I suppose, is that one should keep as close as possible to the original provided the result does not read like a translation but like an original poem in Bengali, and, as far as possible, as if it were the original poem originally written in Bengali. Whether that ideal is always realisable is another matter. When it can’t be done one has to dodge or deviate.

I admit that I have not practised what I preach – whenever I translated, I was careless of the feelings of the original text and transmogrified it without mercy into whatever my fancy chose. But that is a high and mighty criminality which one ought not to imitate. Latterly I have tried to be more moral in my ways, I don’t know with what success. But anyhow it is a case of “Do what I preach and avoid what I practise.”

 

October 17, 1934

I did not write because I had absolutely no time – I could not have answered either of your letters and it could not be done in a short note.

It is perfectly possible to change one’s nature. I have proved that in my own case, for I have made myself exactly the opposite in character to what I was when I started life. I have seen it done in many and I have helped myself to do it in many. But certain conditions are needed. At present in this Ashram there is an obstinate resistance to the change of nature – not so much in the inner being, for there are good number who accept change there, but in the outer man which repeats its customary movements like a machine and refuses to budge out of its groove. Purani’s case does not matter – his vital has always wanted to be itself and follow its own way and his mental will cannot prevail over it. The difficulty is far more general than that.

That however would not matter – it would be only a question of a little more or less time, if the divine action were admitted wholeheartedly by the sadhaks. But the conditions laid down by them and the conditions laid down from above seem radically to differ. From above the urge is to lift everything above the human level, the demand of the sadhaks (not all, but so many) is to keep everything on the human level. But the human level means ignorance, disharmony, strife, suffering, death, disease – constant failure. I cannot see what solution there can be for such a contradiction – unless it be Nirvana. But transformation is heavily more difficult than Nirvana.

Your attitude towards any divine manifestation in the Mother’s external consciousness is illuminating, “terrifying not only to the Asuras, but to the sadhaks.” As yet it was only a limited and particular force – the Durga power! Others did not go so far as that, but they found her high, far-away, aloof, severe – asked what was the cause of her displeasure against them. And that comes to the same – to be severe against the Asuras is also to be severe against the sadhaks. A few struck a different note, delight at the greatness of the Power they felt, or, even when feeling nothing of that, a sense of the sudden lifting of obstacles. But that is not the general tone. It follows that the Mother cannot manifest anything in her external material because she has to keep on a level with the sadhaks. And what then? If she is not to be allowed to protect herself, the work, the sadhaks against the attacks of the Asuras on the physical plane – for it is there that there is the whole question – then what is to be done? what can be done? Nothing. We can only wait for the supramental descent – and that descent is methodical but slow, for the opposition to that too is obstinate in the material Nature.

However, we must go on and do what can be done under these difficult conditions. I do not know how far it is wise not to come to pranam – the result in others has not been brilliant – but if it is only for a few days and you insist, I shall not refuse. The real thing is however a change of the mental attitude – getting out of the world of ideas and feelings built by your mind which is a prison into a free turn and openness to the Divine that would be the most helpful to you. There would soon then be a compass and a rudder.

 

October 18, 1934

You may be sure that we shall not desert you and that we would never dream of doing so. You say truly that what drives you into these moods is the Asuric Maya or a goad from the Asura – it is what we speak of as the hostile Force. What answers to it is a part of the human vital that has an attraction or habit of response to suffering, self-torment, depression and despair. But in itself what comes is from outside and not from within you. It is, as I have more than once told you, a formation that has been made and repeats itself and this is shown by the fact that once it starts it goes round always in the same curve of ideas, suggestions and feelings. The first thing you have to do is to recognise it for what it is. It was not, for instance, “all your nature” that advised you not to write to the Mother, but it was the suggestion of this Force. If you recognise these things as suggestions – and of a Force adverse to you and your sadhana, it is easier to meet and answer than if you see it as something in yourself. The second thing is to take refuge in your better and higher self against that vital part which responds to these suggestions. You must not regard this part as all your nature, but only a part of your vital which has taken an exaggerated prominence. Even in the vital the larger part by far was that which had high ambitions, generous feelings, a large heartedness which everybody was obliged to recognise. That is what you must regard as your real self and you must believe that the Divine has a use for that and for the faculties that have been given you – believe not in a rajasic or egoistic spirit but in the spirit of the instrument called and chosen to purify itself and be fit for its work and service – and because of that you have no right to throw it or yourself away, but have to persevere quietly till you are rid of the lower nature and the Asuric Maya. And, last but not least, you have to develop the power and the habit of taking refuge in the protection of the Mother and myself. It is for this reason that the habit of criticising and judging by the outer mind or cherishing its preconceived ideas and formations must disappear. You should repeat always to yourself when it tries to rise, “Sri Aurobindo and the Mother know better than myself – they have the experience and knowledge which I have not – they must surely be acting for the best and in a greater light than that of ordinary human knowledge.” If you can fix that idea in yourself so that it will remain even in clouded moments, you will be able to face much more easily the suggestions of the Asuric Maya.

The idea of suicide is always a sign of these Asuric formations. Like all the rest it is perfectly irrational – for the suicide after death goes through a hell of misery far worse than was possible in life and when he is reborn he has to face the same problems and difficulties he fled from, but in an acuter form and in much less favourable circumstances. The other justifying suggestions were equally irrational and untrue. Wherever you went, the blow would always fall on ourselves and the Ashram, for you are and would remain too intimately identified with us for it to be otherwise and distance would make no difference. And certainly the verse in the Gita does not cover a case of suicide, but refers to the consciousness and concentration of the Yogi in his departure.

When I wrote in my letters about the Supermind and the obstinate resistance, I spoke of course of something I had already spoken of before. I did not mean that the resistance was of an unexpected character or had altered anything essential. But in its nature the descent is not something arbitrary and miraculous, but a rapid evolutionary process compressed into a few years which proceeds by taking up the present nature into its Light and pouring its Truth into the inferior planes. That cannot be done in the whole world at a time, but it is done like all such processes, first through selected Adharas and then on a wider scale. We have to do it through ourselves first and through the circle of Sadhaks gathered around us in the terrestrial consciousness as typified here. If a few open, that is sufficient for the process to be possible. On the other hand, if there is a general misunderstanding and resistance (not in all, but in many), that makes it difficult and the process more laborious, but it does not make it impossible. I was not suggesting that it has become impossible, but that if the circumstances are made unfavourable by our being unable to concentrate enough on this thing of capital importance and having too much work to do of an irrelevant kind, the descent was likely to take longer than it would do otherwise. Certainly, when the Supramental does touch earth with a sufficient force to dig itself in into the earth-consciousness, there will be no more chance of any success or survival for the Asuric Maya.

The rest that I spoke of about the human and the divine had to do with the intermediate period between before it is done. What I meant was that if the Mother were able to bring out the Divine Personalities and Powers into her body and physical being, as she was doing for several months without break some years ago, the brightest period in the history of the Ashram, things would be much more easy and all these dangerous attacks that now take place would be dealt with rapidly and would in fact be impossible. In those days when the Mother was either receiving the sadhaks for meditation or otherwise working and concentrating all night and day without sleep and with very irregular food, there was no ill-health and no fatigue in her and things were proceeding with a lightning swiftness. The power used was not that of the Supermind, but of the Overmind, but it was sufficient for what was being done. Afterwards, because the lower vital and the physical of the sadhaks could not follow, the Mother had to push the Divine Personalities and Powers through which she was doing the action behind a veil and come down into the physical human level and act according to its conditions and that means difficulty, struggle, illness, ignorance and inertia. All has been for long, slow, difficult, almost sterile in appearance. Nevertheless our work was going on behind that appearance and now it is again becoming possible to go forward. But for the advance to be anything like general or swift in its process, the attitude of the sadhaks, not of a few only, must change. They must cling less to the conditions and feelings of the external physical consciousness and open themselves to the true consciousness of the Yogin and Sadhaka. If they did that, the inner eye would open and they would not be bewildered or alarmed if the Mother again manifested externally something of the Divine Personalities and Powers as she did before. They would not be asking her to be always on their level, but would be glad to be drawn swiftly or gradually up towards hers. The difficulties would be ten times less and a larger easier securer movement possible.

This was what I meant and I suppose I manifested some impatience at the slowness of so many to realise what is after all a logical conclusion from the very principle of our Yoga which is that of a transformation, all that is disharmonious in human nature being enlightened out of existence, all that makes for harmony being changed into its divine equivalent, purer, greater, nobler, more beautiful and much being added which has been lacking to the human evolution. I meant that things could move more swiftly towards this if the sadhaks had a less ignorant attitude, but if they could not yet reach that, we had of course to go on anyhow until the supramental descent came down to the material level.

Finally, you must get rid of this gratuitous tendency to despair. The difficulty for you has been created by the indulgence given to the formation I speak of; that finally dismissed, the difficulty would disappear. Progress might be slow at first, but progress would come; it would quicken afterwards and, with the supramental force here, there would be for you as for others the full speed and certitude.

 

October 24, 1934

I enclose Barada Babu’s postcard – whom you may remember. He is a remarkable yogi – very sincere, intelligent with stunning powers (he stunned me anyway as I related), can meditate for ten or twelve hours at a stretch, a great bhakta of yours. But to him I was indebted as he prophesied I would be accepted by you67, etc. I had told you all that. He was dubious of Mother formerly, but now he speaks of “Mother Mira”, you will see, and that with reverence. Formerly he wrote to me that Mother he does not see in his meditations, but you he does – often.

I wonder if he truly sees Mother or sees some form whom he so styles or identifies with her. Can one see someone whom one has never seen? I mean, do you know it from experience which you verified later on – for the stories to that effect are galore of course. However his letters are very interesting illustrating his difficulty re. surrender. But he is humble as he wants to keep in touch with you, etc. He is very sincere as all who know him say. I suppose that is why he has had experiences of Mother too at long last.

He of course makes a mental mistake by attributing parts of my novel to Supramental inspiration, confusing it with psychic, as psychic it undoubtedly is which moved so many – I mean by psychic a deep emotion in the heart which is a delight to the heart even in sorrow. But doubtless of supramental he has a mental conception which is therefore wrong....

Yes, of course, I remember about Barada Babu – I can’t say I remember him because I never saw him, at least in the flesh. What he probably means by the Supramental is the Above Mind – what I now call Illumined Mind – Intuition-Overmind. I used to make that confusion myself at the beginning.

There is not enough to go upon to say whether he really sees the Mother or an image of her as reflected in his own mind. But there is nothing extraordinary, much less improbable in seeing one whom one has never seen – you are thinking as if the inner mind and sense, the inner vision, were limited by the outer mind and sense, the outer vision, or were a mere reflection of that. There would be not much use in an inner mind and sense and vision if they were only that and nothing more. This faculty is one of the elementary powers of the inner sense and inner seeing, and not only Yogins have it, but the ordinary clairvoyants, crystal-gazers, etc. The latter can see people they never [knew?], saw or heard of before, doing certain precise things in certain very precise surroundings, and every detail of the vision is confirmed by the people seen afterwards – there are many striking and indubitable cases of that kind. The Mother is always seeing people whom she does not know; some afterwards come here or their photographs come here. I myself have had these visions, only I don’t usually try to remember or verify them. But there were two curious instances which were among the first of this kind and which therefore [I?] remember. Once I was trying to see a recently elected deputy here and saw someone quite different from him, someone who afterwards came here as Governor. I ought never to have met him in the ordinary course, but a curious mistake happened and as a result I went and saw him in his bureau and at once recognised him. The other was a certain V. Ramaswamy whom I had to see, but I saw him not as he was when he actually came, but as he became after a year’s residence in my house. He became the very image of that vision, a face close-cropped, rough, rude, energetic, the very opposite of the dreamy smooth-faced enthusiastic Vaishanava who came to me. So that was the vision of a man I had never seen, but as he was to be in the future – a prophetic vision.

 

October 1934 (?)

I have never said that things (in life) are harmonious now – on the contrary with the human consciousness as it is harmony is impossible. It is always what I have told you, that the human consciousness is defective and simply impossible – and that is why I strive for a higher consciousness to come and set right the disturbed balance. I don’t want to give you Nirvana (on paper) immediately because Nirvana only leads up to Harmony in my communication. I am glad you are getting converted to silence, and even Nirvana is not without its uses – in my case it was the first positive spiritual experience and it made possible all the rest of the sadhana; but as to the positive way to get these things, I don’t know if your mind is quite ready to proceed with it. There are in fact several ways. My own way was by rejection of thought. “Sit down,” I was told, “look and you will see that your thoughts come into you from outside. Before they enter, fling them back.” I sat down and looked and saw to my astonishment that it was so; I saw and felt concretely the thought approaching as if to enter through or above the head and was able to push it back concretely before it came inside. In three days – really in one – my mind became full of an eternal silence – it is still there. But that I don’t know how many people can do. One (not a disciple – I had no disciples in those days) – asked me how to do Yoga. I said, “Make your mind quiet first.” He did and his mind became quite silent and empty. Then he rushed to me saying, “My brain is empty of thoughts, I cannot think. I am becoming an idiot.” He did not pause to look and see where these thoughts he uttered were coming from! Nor did he realise that one who is already an idiot cannot become one. Anyhow I was not patient in those days and I dropped him and let him lose his miraculously achieved silence.

The usual way, the easiest if one can manage it at all, is to call down the silence from above you into the brain, mind and body.

 

October 24, 1934

I think you need not be anxious about the approaching supramental Silence. That silence is likely to sing more powerfully than the voicefulness that preceded it. But your proposal has given me such a shock (moral or immoral, not physical) in the solar plexus that it almost reduces me to an astonished though still non-supramental silence.

I am afraid you are under an illusion as to the success of “Love and Death” in England. “Love and Death” dates – it belongs to the time when Meredith and Phillips were still writing and Yeats and A.E. were only in bud if not in ovo. Since then the wind has changed and even Yeats and A.E. are already a little high and dry on the sands of the past, while the form or other characteristics of “Love and Death” are just the things that are anathema to the post-war writers and literary critics. I fear it would be, if not altogether ignored which is most likely, regarded as a feeble and belated Indian imitation of an exploded literary model dead and buried long ago. I don’t regard it in that light myself, but it is not my opinion that counts for success but that of the modern highbrows. If it had been published when it was written it might have been a success, but now! Of course, I know there are many people still in England, if it got into their hands, who would read it with enthusiasm, but I don’t think it would get into their hands at all. As for the other poems they could not go with “Love and Death.” When the time comes for publication, the sonnets will have to be published in a separate book of sonnets and the others in another, separate book of (mainly) lyrical poems – so it cannot be now. That at least is my present idea. It is not that I am against publication for all time, but my idea was to wait for the proper time rather than do anything premature.

One thing however could be done. Prithwi Singh could send his friend “Love and Death” and perhaps the “Six Poems” and sound the publishers as to whether the publication, in their eye, would be worthwhile from their point of view. That could at least give a clue.

 

October 26, 1934

As regards Harin, I am concerned not with defending or condemning him, but only with ensuring so far as I can do it his spiritual welfare as with any other sadhak. To lay stress on the good side, on the hopeful things, to abstain from public condemnation, to stress with all my force the inner growth and development and to work silently and patiently and persistently for the elimination of all that stands on the way is a course I have followed not only with many of the sadhaks, but with most – though not with all. For a few made it impossible. I cannot act as a tribunal of justice in the quarrels and misunderstandings that rage in the Ashram; I can only try, when it is possible, to assuage or circumscribe as much as may be and, when it is possible, to reconcile. You cannot have forgotten that I have done that in your case when you were in trouble, so much so that I have always been accused of defending you, indulging you and protecting you under all circumstances with an invariable partiality! I have protected Harin for the most part only by silence; it is only to you and one or two others that I have written about him and in your case my only attempt was to assuage in each the feelings that were rising against the other.

I know nothing about Nalineswar’s retirement, he has not informed me. I know of Sahana’s, but I am not aware that there is anything sullen or sombre about it; what I understand about it is that she has got into a good and happy inner condition and she wants to confirm it before putting it to the test by mixing freely with others. There is nothing unnatural about that. I am not aware of any special treatment given to either Sahana or Nalineswar as a sign of approval of their retirement. Harin’s attempt at retirement was not of that kind, but an attempt to escape from serious difficulties and, in the form he announced it, was not found practicable. It limits itself to going more inside and seeing less people than before. The special [opportunity?] of pranam given to him was not a personal privilege or answer for retirement – for we have not a prejudice in favour of retirement, but rather in most cases we have a feeling against it. It is only where it proves a spiritual success that we approve and that is rare, or where the sadhak is unable to keep his deep consciousness while mixing with others. The special pranam is simply a device to meet a special difficulty, since it has been shown from the beginning that it is through the pranam that Harin receives and to stop it is to risk stopping the sadhana; at the same time owing to a certain play of forces to continue as before was becoming impossible. The Mother gave the pranam elsewhere as the one device that occurred to her and, as it succeeded, thought of continuing it. That is all.

I have felt bound to explain so much though I would have preferred not to write about these things. I do hope you will throw all that behind you. I feel a great longing that the sadhaks should be free of all that. For so long as the present state of things continues with fires of this kind raging all around and the atmosphere in a turmoil, the work I am trying to do, certainly not for my own sake or for any personal reason, will always remain under the stroke of jeopardy and I do not know how the descent I am labouring for is to fulfil itself. In fact, the Mother and I have to give nine-tenths of our energy to smoothing down things, to keeping the sadhaks tolerably contented, etc. etc. etc. One-tenth and in the Mother’s case not even that, can alone go to the real work; it is not enough. It is not surprising either that you should feel it difficult to get on in all this. But then why not push these things away from you and keep a clear field in you for the Divine? That, if everybody, or even a sufficient number could do it, would be the greatest help I could receive.

 

October 26, 1934

I don’t remember what I wrote to Krishnaprem, but I don’t suppose I was referring to him and his “doubts” when I spoke of a “negation positive and peremptory.”

I can say little about the methods he speaks of for getting rid of dead concepts. Each mind has its own way of moving. My own has been a sort of readjustment or rectification of positions and I should rather call it discrimination accompanied by a rearrangement of intuitions. At one time I had given much too big a place to “humanity” in my scheme of things with a number of ideas attached to that exaggeration which needed to be put right. But the change did not come by doubt about what I had conceived before, but by a new light on things in which “humanity” automatically stepped down and got into its right place and all the rest rearranged itself in consequence. But all that is probably because I am constitutionally lazy (in spite of my present feats of correspondence) and prefer the easiest and most automatic method possible. I have a suspicion however that Krishnaprem’s method is essentially the same as mine, only he does it in a more diligent and conscientious spirit. For his remark about the concepts as flags and not the means of advance seems to indicate that.

 

October 28, 1934

To be open is simply to be so tuned to the Mother that her Force can work in you without anything refusing or obstructing her action. If the mind is shut up in its own ideas and refuses to allow her to bring in the Light and the Truth, if the vital clings to its desires and does not admit the true initiative and impulsions that the Mother’s power brings, if the physical is shut up in its desire habits and inertia and does not allow the Light and Force to enter in it and work, then one is not open. It is not possible to be entirely open all at once in all the movements but there must be a central opening in each part and a dominant aspiration or will in each part (not in the mind alone) to admit only the Mother’s “working”, the rest will then be progressively done.

 

November 3, 1934

But the letter on Nirvana? Do see to it tomorrow. I just send you a short song I composed in my closing portion of the tragic novel Dola – to be sung by its heroine in an ecstasy of aesthetic emotional sentimental love – to be disillusioned shortly of course. I have not treated it à la mode or conventionally, but tried to depict the sense of illumination that comes of romance on moonlight nights or vis-à-vis a beautiful piece of scenery, which sort of shines with a kind of reflected lustre of the romance. I have tried to depict it as I have myself felt it often, with a vividness that even I cannot doubt. I wonder if this sort of elation that one feels in front of a lovely vista (particularly the moon-flooded one to which I am particularly susceptible) and associates it with the reflection of the love felt – is at all psychic or purely vital? But its glow is very warm and pervading and delicious and there can be hardly any doubt as to the sense [of?] illumination one is endowed with in such circumstances. May one take it that it is some form of sublimation of the physical love in imagination’s sky – if you know what I mean? I mean I felt very vividly there was an essential delicatesse, subtlety, etherealness in such a transcription of one’s subjective feeling in the objective world of rude matter. Even dull inert things seem to be animate. Illusion? soit – but is it not a beautiful illusion so long as it lasts? Or is such a feeling not an illusion at all but a reflection of some reality that falling on the material scenery transforms the whole landscape? Poet’s feelings are often unreliable – I have a deep distrust of poets hallelujahs – that is why I ask. But I doubt whether I have expressed myself at all clearly. I trust however, that if you read my lyric carefully you will understand what I am driving at.

All these feelings or impressions are aesthetic and of the vital – their imprints over the ordinary movements is that they belong to the inner vital, not to the cruder external life-movements. It is this character that gives them their sense of elevation, beauty, etc. Such movements can be taken up by the psychic when it is the soul in things behind the aesthetic and emotional that is felt and by the spiritual when they are made a means of coming in contact with the cosmic spirit or in any way with the Divine.

 

November 7, 1934

Day before yesterday I composed this poem. The first half I send today. The second half I will have to polish up a little before sending you tomorrow. You will find I have composed it in mātrā-vṛtta chhanda [poetical metre]. I have felt a surge of power in mātrā-vṛtta too as you will find. It is a duologue and I have ended on the note that the Rishi who is the ideal of the seeker is superior qua guide to the poet. I have had some fresh inspiration this morning. I have not really belittled the poet but have only tried to give him his place as I have felt it: not as a guide but as an artist, etc. etc. The other day a bhakta of Tagore wrote in Bichitra68 that “all the greatest sages and avatars would do well to sit at the feet of Tagore who as a poet is a far greater prophet than all the seers of the Upanishads put together!” Qu’en dites-vous? It is a reply to that. In modern times, we have alas pampered the aesthetic poet too much, don’t you think?

My pain in the neck is usually followed by a long poem. So should I cherish it? I wonder.

I suppose the utterance of the kavi-bhakta [devotee of the poet] must be taken as uchchwās [exuberance] – as a serious proposition it is too Himalayan even to look at. But why is he so moderate, after all? He could just as well have said, all the seers, all the poets, all the prophets of this world and all worlds put together cannot equal in wisdom any one letter of any one syllable in any one line of any one poem of Tagore; that would have been some rhetoric and some affirmation too!

Of course the poet’s value lies in his poetic and not in his prophetic power. If he is a prophet also, the worth of his prophesy lies in its own value, this poetic merit does not add to that in the least, only to its expression.

 

November 10, 1934

I see. It is quite natural for the poets to vaunt their métier as the highest and themselves as the top of creation and for the intellectuals to run down the Yogi and the Rishi who claim to reach a higher than intellectual consciousness. Moreover the poet who lives still in the mind and is not yet a spiritual seer-poet represents to the human intellect the highest point of mental seership where the imagination tries to figure and embody in words what can really be grasped only by spiritual experience. It is therefore natural for these intellectuals to exalt him as the real seer and prophet. There is always, of course, behind that the modern or European mentality which confuses the vital with the soul and the mind with spirituality. The poet imaging mental or physical beauty is for them something more spiritual than the seer or the God-lover experiencing the eternal peace or the ineffable ecstasy. The Rishi or Yogi can drink of a deeper draught of Beauty and Delight than the imagination of the poet at its highest can conceive, but what does your friend with his idea of the raskānā69 Rishi know of the things? (raso vai saḥ – the Divine is Delight). And it is not only the unseen Beauty that he can see but the visible and tangible also has for him a face of the All-beautiful which the mind cannot discover. It does not matter really what they say; but if a counter-blast had to be, you have done it pretty well and forcibly!

 

November 1934

About Nirvana

When I wrote in the Arya, I was setting forth an overmind view of things to the mind and putting it in mental terms, that was why I had sometimes to use logic. For in such a work – mediating between the intellect and the supra-intellectual – logic has a place, though it cannot have the chief place it occupies in purely mental philosophies. The Mayavadin himself labours to establish his point of view or his experience by a rigorous logical reasoning. Only, when it comes to an explanation of Maya, he, like the scientist dealing with Nature, can do no more than arrange and organise his ideas of the process of this universal mystification; he cannot explain how or why his illusionary mystifying Maya came into existence. He can only say, “Well, but it is there.”

Of course, it is there. But the question is, first, what is it? Is it really an illusionary Power and nothing else, or is the Mayavadin’s idea of it a mistaken first view, a mental imperfect reading, even perhaps itself an illusion? And next, “Is illusion the sole or the highest Power which the Divine Consciousness or Superconsciousness possesses?” The Absolute is an absolute Truth free from Maya, otherwise liberation would not be possible. Has then the supreme and absolute Truth no other active Power than a power of falsehood and with it, no doubt, for the two go together, a power of dissolving or disowning the falsehood – which is yet there for ever? I suggested that this sounded a little queer. But queer or not, if it is so, it is so – for, as you point out, the Ineffable cannot be subjected to the laws of logic. But who is to decide whether it is so? You will say, those who get there. But get where? To the Perfect and the Highest, pūrṇaṃ param. Is the Mayavadin’s featureless Brahman that Perfect, that Complete – is it the very Highest? Is there not or can there not be a higher than that highest, parāt param? That is not a question of logic, it is a question of spiritual fact, of a supreme and complete experience. The solution of the matter must rest not upon logic, but upon a growing, ever heightening, widening spiritual experience – an experience which must of course include or have passed through that of Nirvana and Maya, otherwise it would not be complete and would have no decisive value.

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 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. This was no mental realisation nor something glimpsed somewhere above – no abstraction – it was positive, substantial, the only positive reality – it was here in this very so-called physical world, pervading, occupying or rather flooding and drowning this semblance of a physical world, leaving no room or space for any reality but itself, allowing nothing else to seem at all actual, positive or substantial. I cannot say there was anything exhilarating or rapturous in the experience, as it then came to me – (the ineffable Ananda I had years afterwards) – but what it brought was an inexpressible Peace, a stupendous silence, an infinity of release and freedom. I lived in that Nirvana for many months day and night before it began to admit other things into itself or modify itself at all, and in fact fundamentally it remained for years and years together until in the end it began to disappear slowly 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 illusion70 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 every thing 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. It came unasked, unsought for, though quite welcome. I had no least idea about it before, no aspiration towards it, in fact my aspiration was towards just the opposite, spiritual power to help the world and to do my work in it, yet it came – without even a “May I come in” or a “By your leave”. It just happened and settled in as if for all eternity or as if it had been really there always. And then it slowly grew into something not less but greater than its first self. How then could I accept Mayavada or persuade myself to pit against the Truth imposed on me from above the logic of Shankara?

But I do not insist on everybody passing through my experience or following the Truth that is its consequence. I have no objection to anybody accepting Mayavada as his soul’s truth or his mind’s truth or their way out of the cosmic difficulty. I object to it only if somebody tries to push it down my throat or the world’s throat as the sole possible, satisfying and all-comprehensive explanation of things. For it is not that at all. There are many other possible explanations; it is not at all satisfactory, for in the end it explains nothing; and it is – and must be unless it departs from its own logic – all-exclusive, not in the least all-comprehensive. But that does not matter. A theory may be wrong or at least one-sided and imperfect and yet extremely practical and useful. This has been amply shown by the history of Science. In fact, a theory whether philosophical or scientific, is nothing else than a support for the mind, a practical device to help it to deal with its object, a staff to uphold it and make it walk more confidently and get along on its difficult journey. The very exclusiveness and one-sidedness of the Mayavada make it a strong staff or a forceful stimulus for a spiritual endeavour which means to be one-sided, radical and exclusive. It supports the effort of the Mind to get away from itself and from Life by a short cut into superconscience. Or rather it is the Purusha in Mind that wants to get away from the limitations of Mind and Life into the superconscient Infinite. Theoretically, the way for that is for the mind to deny all its perceptions and all the preoccupations of the vital and see and treat them as illusions. Practically, when the mind draws back from itself, it enters easily into a relationless peace in which nothing matters – for in its absoluteness there are no mental or vital values – and from which the mind can rapidly move towards that great short cut to the superconscient, mindless trance, suṣupti. In proportion to the thoroughness of that movement all the perceptions it had once accepted become unreal to it – illusion, Maya. It is on its road towards immergence.

Mayavada therefore with its sole stress on Nirvana, quite apart from its defects as a mental theory of things, serves a great spiritual end and, as a path, can lead very high and far. Even, if the Mind were the last word and there were nothing beyond it except the pure Spirit, I would not be averse to accepting it as the only way out. For what the mind with its perceptions and the vital with its desires have made of life in this world, is a very bad mess, and if there were nothing better to be hoped for, the shortest cut to an exit would be the best. But my experience is that there is something beyond Mind; Mind is not the last word here of the Spirit. Mind is an ignorance-consciousness and its perceptions cannot be anything else than either false, mixed or imperfect – even when true, a partial reflection of the Truth and not the very body of Truth herself. But there is a Truth-Consciousness, not static only and self-introspective, but also dynamic and creative, and I prefer to get at that and see what it says about things and can do rather than take the short cut away from things offered as its own end by the Ignorance.

Still, I would have no objection if your attraction towards Nirvana were not merely a mood of the mind and vital but an indication of the mind’s true road and the soul’s issue. But it seems to me that it is only the vital recoiling from its own disappointed desires in an extreme dissatisfaction, not the soul leaping gladly to its true path. This Vairagya is itself a vital movement; vital Vairagya is the reverse side of vital desire – though the mind of course is there to give reasons and say ditto. Even this Vairagya, if it is one-pointed and exclusive, can lead or point towards Nirvana. But you have many sides to your personality or rather many personalities in you; it is indeed their discordant movements each getting in the way of the other, as happens when they are expressed through the external mind, that have stood much in the way of your sadhana. There is the vital personality which was turned towards success and enjoyment and got it and wanted to go on with it but could not get the rest of the being to follow. There is the vital personality that wanted enjoyment of a deeper kind and suggested to the other that it could very well give up these unsatisfactory things if it got an equivalent in some faeryland of a higher joy. There is the psycho-vital personality that is the Vaishnava within you and wanted the Divine Krishna and bhakti and Ananda. There is the personality which is the poet and musician and a seeker of beauty through these things. There is the mental-vital personality which when it saw the vital standing in the way insisted on a grim struggle of Tapasya, and it is no doubt that also which approves Vairagya and Nirvana. There is the physical-mental personality which is the Russellite, extrovert, doubter. There is another mental-emotional personality all whose ideas are for belief in the Divine, Yoga, bhakti, Guruvada. There is the psychic being also which has pushed you into the sadhana and is waiting for its hour of emergence.

What are you going to do with all these people? If you want Nirvana, you have either to expel them or stifle them or beat them into coma. All authorities assure us that the exclusive Nirvana business is a most difficult job (duḥkhaṃ dehavadbhiḥ, says the Gita), and your own attempt at suppressing the others was not encouraging – according to your own account it left you as dry and desperate as a sucked orange, no juice left anywhere. If the desert is your way to the promised land, that does not matter. But – well, if it is not, then there is another way – it is what we call the integration, the harmonisation of the being. That cannot be done from outside, it cannot be done by the mind and vital being – they are sure to bungle their affair. It can be done only from within by the soul, the Spirit which is the centraliser, itself the centre of these radii. In all of them there is a truth that can harmonise with the true truth of the others. For there is a truth in Nirvana – Nirvana is nothing but the peace and freedom of the Spirit which can exist in itself, be there world or no world, world order or world disorder. Bhakti and the heart’s call for the Divine have a truth – it is the truth of the divine Love and Ananda. The will for Tapasya has in it a truth – it is the truth of the Spirit’s mastery over its members. The musician and poet stand for a truth, it is the truth of the expression of the Spirit through beauty. There is a truth behind the mental Affirmer; even there is a truth behind the mental doubter, the Russellian, though far behind him – the truth of the denial of false forms. Even behind the two vital personalities there is a truth, the truth of the possession of the inner and outer worlds not by the ego but by the Divine. That is the harmonisation for which our Yoga stands – but it cannot be achieved by any outward arrangement, it can only be achieved by going inside and looking, willing and acting from the psychic and from the spiritual centre. For the truth of the being is there and the secret of Harmony also is there.

 

November 11, 1934

I see that your dreams are becoming more and more experiences, realities in the deeper being – it is a very good sign of progress in the inner consciousness. I thought it best to write myself to Harin – I have done so tonight. I have no doubt there will be no difficulty – for Harin has repeatedly written that his feelings towards others have entirely changed and he no longer feels any reaction of anger or resentment when criticisms or mockeries against himself are reported to him and that he has nothing but good wishes for those who make them as they are followers of the same path towards illumination. I don’t think you need mind others knowing if there is a reconciliation. Venkataraman has long desired an understanding between you and Harin, Ambu hardly counts and Dara is not likely to be interested. But although there is not now any formal retirement, Harin is much absorbed nowadays in his sadhana and not seeing many who ask to come to him, so I don’t know whether a visit or visits will be possible. However I will let you know what I decide when I hear from him.

I have been reading your poem which is full of beauty and vigour. There is only one point, that you seem almost to say that the poet is necessarily not a seer or Rishi. But if the mere poet is not a Rishi, the Rishi after all can be a poet – the greater can contain the less, even though the less is not the greater.

 

November 15, 1934

If you truly decide in all your consciousness to offer your being to the Divine to mould it as He wills, then most of your personal difficulty will disappear – I mean that which still remains, and there will be only the lesser difficulties of the transformation of the ordinary into the yogic consciousness, normal to all sadhana. Your mental difficulty has been all along that you wanted to mould the sadhana and the reception of experience and the response of the Divine according to your own preconceived mental ideas and left no freedom to the Divine to act or manifest according to His own truth and reality and the need not of your mind and vital but of your soul and spirit. It is as if your vital were to present a coloured glass to the Divine and tell Him, “Now pour yourself into that and I will shut you up there and look at you through the colours,” or, from the mental point of view, as if you were to offer a test-tube in a similar way and say, “Get in there and I will test you and see what you are.” But the Divine is shy about such processes and His objections are not altogether unintelligible.

At any rate I am glad the experience has come back again – it has come as the result of your effort and mine for the last days and is practically a reminder that the door of entry into yogic experience is still there and can open at the right touch. You taxed me the other day with making a mistake about your experience of breathing with the name in it and reproached me for drawing a big inference from a very small phenomenon – a thing, by the way, which the scientists are doing daily without the least objection from your reason. You had the same idea, I believe, about my acceptance of your former experiences, this current and the descent of stillness in the body, as signs of the Yogi in you. But these ideas spring from an ignorance of the spiritual realm and its phenomena and only show the incapacity of the outer intellectual reason to play the role you want it to play, that of a supreme judge of spiritual truth and inner experience – a quite natural incapacity because it does not know even the A.B.C. of these things and it passes my comprehension how one can be a judge about a thing of which one knows nothing. I know that the “scientists” are continually doing it with supraphysical phenomena outside their province – those who never had a spiritual or occult experience laying down the law about occult phenomena and Yoga; but that does not make it any more reasonable or excusable. Any Yogi who knows something about pranayama or japa can tell you that the running of the name in the breath is not a small phenomenon but of great importance in these practices and, if it comes naturally, a sign that something in the inner being has done that kind of sadhana in the past. As for the current it is the familiar sign of a first touch of the higher consciousness flowing down in the form of a stream – like the “wave” of light of the scientist – to prepare its possession of mind, vital and physical in the body. So is the stillness and rigidity of the body in your former experience a sign of the same descent of the higher consciousness in its form or tendency of stillness and silence. It is a perfectly sound conclusion that one who gets these experiences at the beginning has the capacity of Yoga in him and can open, even if opening is delayed by other movements belonging to his ordinary nature. These things are part of the science of Yoga, as familiar as the crucial experiences of physical Science are to the scientific seeker.

As for the impression of swooning, it is simply because you were not in sleep, as you imagined, but in a first condition of what is usually called swapna-samādhi, dream trance. What you felt like swooning was only the tendency to go deeper in, into a more profound swapna-samādhi or else into a suṣupti trance – the latter being what the word trance usually means in English, but it can be extended to the swapna kind also. To the outer mind this deep loss of the surface consciousness seems like a swoon, though it is really nothing of the kind – hence the impression. Many sadhaks here get at times or sometimes for a long period this deeper swapna-samādhi in what began as sleep – with the result that a conscious sadhana goes on in their sleeping as in their waking hours. This is different from the dream experiences that one has on the vital or mental plane which are themselves not ordinary dreams but actual experiences on the mental, vital, psychic or subtle physical planes. You have had several dreams which were vital dream experiences, those in which you met the Mother and recently you had one such contact on the mental plane which, for those who understand these things, means that the inner consciousness is preparing in the mind as well as in the vital, which is a great advance.

You will ask why these things take place either in sleep or in an indrawn meditation and not in the waking state. There is a twofold reason. First, that usually in Yoga these things begin in an indrawn state and not in the waking condition – it is only if or when the waking mind is ready that they come as readily in the waking state. Again in you the waking mind has been too active in its insistence on the ideas and operations of the outer consciousness to give the inner mind a chance to project itself into the waking state. But it is through the inner consciousness and primarily through the inner mind that these things come; so, if there is not a clear passage from the inner to the outer, it must be in the inner states that they first appear. If the waking mind is subject or surrendered to the inner consciousness and willing to become its instrument, then even from the beginning these openings can come through the waking consciousness. That again is a familiar law of the Yoga.

I may add that when you complain of the want of response, you are probably expecting immediately some kind of direct manifestation of the Divine which, as a rule, though there are exceptions, comes only when previous experiences have prepared the consciousness so that it may feel, understand, recognise the response. Ordinarily, the spiritual or divine consciousness comes first – what I have called the higher consciousness – the presence or manifestation comes afterwards. But this descent of the higher consciousness is really the touch or influx of the Divine itself, though not at first recognised by the lower nature.

I shall write about the touch before belief and the taliye dekhā [go deep into] in another letter, I am obliged from tomorrow to suspend officially all but urgent or important correspondence till a week after the 24th. This is necessary as a respite at this period from the enormous mass of work which after August 15th has exceeded what I complained of before that date, and also that I may have time to carry on the invisible work which has been sadly hampered by the weight of the visible. But this need not interfere.

 

November 18, 1934

You ask me whether you have to give up your predilection for testing before accepting and to accept everything in Yoga a priori – and by testing you mean testing by the ordinary reason. The only answer I can give to that is that the experiences of Yoga belong to an inner domain and go according to a law of their own, have their own method of perception, criteria and all the rest of it which are neither those of the domain of the physical senses nor of the domain of rational or scientific enquiry. Just as scientific enquiry passes beyond that of the physical senses and enters the domain of the infinite and infinitesimal about which the senses can say nothing and test nothing – for one cannot see and touch an electron or know by the evidence of the sense-mind whether it exists or not or decide by that evidence whether the earth really turns round the sun and not rather the sun round the earth as our senses and all our physical experience daily tell us – so the spiritual search passes beyond the domain of scientific or rational enquiry and it is impossible by the aid of the ordinary positive reason to test the data of spiritual experience and decide whether those things exist or not or what is their law and nature. As in Science, so here you have to accumulate experience on experience, following faithfully the methods laid down by the Guru or by the systems of the past, you have to develop an intuitive discrimination which compares the experiences, see what they mean, how far and in what field each is valid, what is the place of each in the whole, how it can be reconciled or related with others that at first might seem to contradict it, etc., etc., until you can move with a secure knowledge in the vast field of spiritual phenomena. That is the only way to test spiritual experience. I have myself tried the other method and found it absolutely incapable and inapplicable. On the other hand, if you are not prepared to go through all that yourself – as few can do except those of extraordinary spiritual stature – you have to accept the leading of a Master, as in Science you accept a teacher instead of going through the whole field of Science and its experimentation all by yourself – at least until you have accumulated sufficient experience and knowledge. If that is accepting things a priori, well, you have to accept a priori. For I am unable to see by what valid tests you propose to make the ordinary reason the judge of what is beyond it.

You quote the sayings of Vivekananda and Kabiraj Gopinath71. Is this Kabiraj the disciple of the [?] Sannyasi or is he another? In any case, I would like to know before assigning a value to these utterances what they actually did for the testing of their spiritual perceptions and experiences. How did Vivekananda test the value of his spiritual experiences – some of them not more credible to the ordinary positive mind than the translation through the air of Bejoy Goswami’s wife to Lake Manas or of Bejoy Goswami himself by a similar method to Benares? I know nothing about Kabiraj Gopinath, but what were his tests and how did he apply them? What were his methods? his criteria? It seems to me that no ordinary mind could accept the apparition of Buddha out of a wall or the half hour’s talk with Hayagriva as valid facts by any kind of testing. It would either have to accept them a priori or on the sole evidence of Vivekananda, which comes to the same thing, or to reject them a priori as hallucinations or mere mental images accompanied in one case by an auditive hallucination. I fail to see how it could “test” them. Or how was I to test by the ordinary mind my experience of Nirvana? To what conclusion could I come about it by the aid of the ordinary positive reason? How could I test its validity? I am at a loss to imagine. I did the only thing I could, to accept it as a strong and valid truth of experience, let it have its full play and produce its full experiential consequences until I had sufficient yogic knowledge to put it in its place. Finally, how without inner knowledge or experience can you or anyone else test the inner knowledge and experience of others?

I have often said that discrimination is not only perfectly admissible but indispensable in spiritual experience. But it must be a discrimination founded on knowledge, not a reasoning founded on ignorance. Otherwise you tie up your mind and hamper experience by preconceived ideas which are as much a priori as any acceptance of a spiritual truth or experience can be. Your idea that surrender can only come by love is a point in instance. It is perfectly true in Yogic experience that surrender by true love, which means psychic and spiritual love, is the most powerful, simple and effective of all, but one cannot, putting that forward as a dictum arrived at by the ordinary reason, shut up the whole of possible experience of true surrender into that formula or announce on its strength that one must wait till one loves perfectly before one can surrender. Yogic experience shows that the surrender can also be made by the mind and will, a clear and sincere mind seeing the necessity of surrender and a clear and sincere will enforcing it on the recalcitrant members. Also, experience shows that not only can surrender come by love, but love also can come by surrender or grow with it from an imperfect to a perfect love. One starts by an intense idea and will to know or reach the Divine and surrenders more and more one’s ordinary personal ideas, desires, attachments, urges to action or habits of action so that the Divine may take up everything. Surrender means that, to give up our little mind and its mental ideas and preferences into a divine Light and a greater Knowledge, our petty personal troubled blind stumbling will into a great calm tranquil luminous Will and Force, our little, restless, tormented feelings into a wide intense divine Love and Ananda, our small suffering personality into the one Person of which it is an obscure outcome. If one insists on one’s own ideas and reasonings, the greater Light and Knowledge cannot come or else is marred and obstructed in the coming at every step by a lower interference; if one insists on one’s own desires and fancies, that great luminous Will and Force cannot act in its own true power – for you ask it to be the servant of your desires; if one refuses to give up one’s petty ways of feeling, eternal Love and the supreme Ananda cannot descend or are mixed and spilt from the effervescing crude emotional vessel. No amount of ordinary reasoning can get rid of that necessity of surmounting the lower in order that the higher may be there.

And if some find that retirement is the best way of giving oneself to the Higher, to the Divine by avoiding as much as possible occasions for the bubbling up of the lower, why not? The aim they have come for is that, and why blame or look with distrust and suspicion on the means they find best or daub it with disparaging adjectives to discredit it – grim, inhuman and the rest? It is your vital that shrinks from it and your vital mind that supplies these epithets which express only your shrinking and not what the retirement really is. For it is the vital or the social part of it that shrinks from solitude; the thinking mind does not but rather courts it. The poet seeks solitude with himself or with Nature to listen to his inspiration; the thinker plunges into solitude to meditate on things and commune with a deeper knowledge; the scientist shuts himself up in his laboratory to pore by experiment into the secrets of Nature; these retirements are not grim and inhuman. Neither is the retirement of the sadhak into the exclusive concentration of which he feels the need; it is a means to an end, to the end on which his whole heart is set. As for the Yogin or bhakta who has already begun to have the fundamental experience, he is not in a grim and inhuman solitude. The Divine and all the world are there in the being of the one, the supreme Beloved, or his Ananda is there in the heart of the other.

I say this as against your depreciation of retirement founded on ignorance of what it really is; but I do not, as I have often said, recommend a total seclusion, for I hold that to be a dangerous expedient which may lead to morbidity and much error. Nor do I impose retirement on anyone as a method or approve of it unless the person himself seeks it, feels its necessity, has the joy of it and the proof that it helps to the spiritual experience. It is not to be imposed on anyone as a principle, for that is the mental way of doing things, the way of the ordinary mind – it is as a need that it has to be accepted, when it is felt as a need, not as a general law or rule.

What you describe in your letter as the response of the Divine would not be called that in the language of yogic experience – this feeling of great peace, light, ease, trust, difficulties lessening, certitude would rather be called a response of your own nature to the Divine. There is a Peace or a Light which is the response of the Divine, but that is a wide Peace, a great Light which is felt as a presence other than one’s personal self, not part of one’s personal nature, but something that comes from above, though in the end it possesses the nature – or there is the Presence itself which carries with it indeed the absolute liberation, happiness, certitude. But the first responses of the Divine are not often like that – they come rather as a touch, a pressure one must be in a condition to recognise and to accept, or it is a voice of assurance, sometimes a very “still small voice,” a momentary Image or Presence; a whisper of Guidance sometimes, there are many forms it may take. Then it withdraws and the preparation of the nature goes on till it is possible for the touch to come again and again, to last longer, to change into something more pressing and near and intimate. The Divine in the beginning does not impose himself – he asks for recognition, for acceptance. That is one reason why the mind must fall silent, not put tests, not make claims – there must be room for the true intuition which recognises at once the true touch and accepts it.

Then for the tumultuous activity of the mind which prevents your concentration. But that or else a more tiresome, obstinate, grinding, mechanical activity is always the difficulty when one tries to concentrate and it takes a long time to get the better of it. That or the habit of sleep which prevents either the waking concentration or the conscious samadhi or the absorbed and all-excluding trance which are the three forms that Yogic concentration takes. But it is surely ignorance of Yoga, its processes and its difficulties that makes you feel desperate and pronounce yourself unfit forever because of this quite ordinary obstacle.

The insistence of the ordinary mind and its wrong reasonings, sentiments and judgments, the random activity of the thinking mind in concentration or its mechanical activity, the slowness of response to the veiled or the initial touch are the ordinary obstacles the mind imposes, just as pride, ambition, vanity, sex, greed, grasping of things for one’s own ego are the difficulties and obstacles offered by the vital. As the vital difficulties can be fought down and conquered, so can the mental. Only one has to see that these are the inevitable obstacles and neither cling to them nor be terrified or overwhelmed because they are there. One has to persevere till one can stand back from the mind as from the vital and feel the deeper and larger mental and vital Purusha within one which are capable of silence, capable of a straight receptivity of the true Word and Force as of the true silence. If the nature takes the way of fighting down the difficulties first, then the first half of the way is long and tedious and the complaint of the want of the response of the Divine arises. But really the Divine is there all the time, working behind the veil as well as waiting for the recognition of his response and the response to the response to be possible.

 

November 20, 1934

I like very much both the feeling and the form of your poem. Of course when you are writing poems or composing you are in contact with your inner being, that is why you feel so different then. The whole art of Yoga is to get that contact and get from it into the inner being itself, for so one can enter directly into and remain in all that is great and luminous and beautiful. Then one can try to establish them in this troublesome and defective outer shell of oneself and in the outer world also.

 

November 22, 1934

There is no doubt that a new kind of flow seems to have opened in the poetry you are now writing – there is a greater ease and spontaneity and the rhythm seems to come more of itself. I have not yet been able to read the new version carefully and throughout, but only glanced at it reading here and there. I shall see after the 24th when I can read it more coherently. (I read though the poem of the Poet and the Seeker; it seems to me a very strong and beautiful poem.) I am not enough of an expert in Bengali metre and rhythm to pronounce, but it seems to me that the metre you are writing has a flow and sweep which is very attractive.

As to the plane from which the poem is written, it is not so easy for me to say. In dealing with Amal’s poetry, I can say at once for there it is very clear; even when there is a mixture of several sources, the elements show themselves still. It would be more difficult for me to do the same with Harin’s poems, for it is there more complex. In Bengali or any other language the difficulty increases; for the familiarity with the texture of the language is more of the mind and less of the inmost ear which at once catches these things. I should have to make a sort of comparative scrutiny of different Bengali styles to catch the different forms the influence of these different planes take there. For it is a matter of the inner [realms?] of expression and rhythm, more than of the substance. When I spoke of your poetry (not all but many of the poems) as psychic lyrical coming through the vital, I was speaking of the source of the substance rather than of the manner. However some day I will look at it from a deeper and completer point of view and try to tell.

I am very much encouraged by the development taking place in you. It is the mental change that is coming which will allow both mind and vital to become the instruments of the inner being. Let it go on now naturally and with an easy development. All the rest will follow.

 

December 1934

I got your first letter and as I always look at yours if there is any and leave the rest aside for later reading I sat down after my daily walk and concentration to answer it. I missed your second “urgent” letter altogether and came to know of it after I had seen the third – later in the night. If I had had it, I would of course have answered at once. I am sorry you have had to wait the whole night without an answer.

I was a little taken aback by the first letter, for my remarks about X had been perfectly casual and I attached little importance to them when I wrote them. I would certainly not have written them if I had thought they were of a kind to cause trouble to you. In scribbling them I had no idea of imposing my views about X on you – I had no idea of writing as a Guru to a disciple or laying down the law, it was rather as a friend to a friend expressing my ideas and discussing them with a perfect ease and confidence. Both the Mother and myself have a natural tendency to speak or write to you in that way, expressing the idea that comes without measuring of terms or any arrière pensée, because we feel close to your psychic being always and that is the relation which we have quite naturally with you. That was why I wrote like that and I had no other intention in me.

I do not believe in human judgments because I have always found them fallible – also perhaps because I have myself been so blackened by human judgments that I do not care to be guided by them with regard to others. All this however I write to explain my own point of view; I am not insisting on it as a law for others. I have never been in the habit of insisting that everybody must think as I do – any more than I insist on everybody following me and my Yoga.

All that to brush aside what is an evident misunderstanding. Now about XYZ you should remember that what I wrote about them was not an after invention or an idea formed as a result of their going – all that I wrote about X, for instance, I had written to him long before he went – and also with the others I had not refrained from letting them know what was wrong with them, except for YZ with whom it was not necessary. I did not whole-heartedly assure and praise and encourage while they were there nor whole-heartedly damn when they were gone. Nor would I have said anything about them if I had not been questioned from every side. Why then should you think that I would attack you if you went away: you, to whom I have always spoken with encouragement and kindness, and never I think with severe disapprobation or warning as I did with XYZ? If you went away, I should write, if I had to write what I have always said to you: “Dilip had his difficulties, but he was gradually surmounting them, but his one great difficulty of doubt and self-distrust he did not meet sufficiently,” and I would add, “and in a weak moment he has allowed it to carry him away. But he will find that he can discover his soul here alone and then he will return.”

But all that is really unnecessary since you are not like the others consumed with the desire to go or feeling the call for action elsewhere. But why this constant slipping back to the idea of failure? Why this idea that I am offended? Have I ever taken offence or evinced any least idea of giving you up? How is it you still lend credence to a suggestion your whole experience of our relation contradicts. Your attacks of doubt and self-distrust are a weakness I have taken account of and I refuse to consider it as a bar to your arrival at the goal. It is in all sincerity that I affirm your possibilities.

 

December 1934

Bidhur – is one of the most beautiful poems you have written – a psychic poem – sustained in its beauty throughout – an element of sadness also has a strong psychic tinge.

 

1934 (?)

An admirer of yours has just sent me a poem which he requests me to sing to you without fail. But I wonder how you would take it if I really did, for he has in effect sounded the death-knell of Rishihood as exemplified in calling you, virtually, the last of the Romans. I will only quote two lines from his poem. Qu’en dites-vous?

Bhārater sesh rishi pushpānjali shrīcharane

Karma jnān bhakti yog nitya siddha bitarane

[O India’s last Rishi, I offer my tribute at your feet

Distribute karma, jnana, bhakti and Yoga, thou who art eternally perfect]

You don’t understand. It means that all my shishyagan [group of disciples] will become supermen, so there will be no chance of any such small thing as a Rishi appearing again: I am the last of that crowd. All the same you can send him my blessings – he deserves it for giving us such a gorgeous prospect.

 

December 2, 1934

Today I wrote a poem in the same chhanda: its developments and ramifications.

And what do you think of my handwriting – Bengali? Everyone is aghast at its rapid supramentalisation! I mean in the direction of high-born legibility?

Marvellous and miraculous! How did you manage it. I read now with a sort of gasping ease – I mean an ease which gasps with astonishment at its own existence. I used formerly to stop at every second line and wonder what the double deuce this or that word might be – but that is all over. Perhaps if you could communicate the secret of it by influence or otherwise, I might manage to make one-tenth of my own writing just barely legible – which would be at least a decimal relief to everybody.

The metre is very pretty and the poem too.

 

December 5, 1934

Barinda72 has just written me a letter which I have mislaid and will send you tomorrow. He has started a Yoga-school! Fancy that! A book also – to me, one for Library and one for yourself enclosed. He wants me to send him the addresses of some celebrities in Europe to whom this book will be sent. But why?

God knows! From what he writes it would appear that he wants certificates from them or advertisement-utilisable eulogies.

But what an idea, good heavens. A Yoga school – a class, a blackboard (with the gods on it?), “interesting cases”! a spiritual clinic, what? What has happened to Barin’s wits and especially to his sense of humour? Too much Statesman? marriage? writing for a living? age?

I open the book and come across a delicious misprint (page 60) “The wounded dear dripping blood passes its long and tortured path to escape the hunter which (?) is ever after it.” It is humanity who is the “dear.” Dear, dear! poor wounded darling!

May I see Mother tomorrow for a couple of minutes with the money? When?

Today there are birthdays and departures, so Mother will not be free till 12.30 or quarter to one. If it is not inconvenient for you, you can come at that time.

Now for the poems – the greater reality than Wounded Humanity, is it not? Do you not find a new note of simplicity in them? They are coming, coming – no “No admission” to them now. They are not humanity.

Yes, they are very lucid and flowing – you have got your boat into full stream.

 

December 5, 1934

(Written on Barin’s letter)

Found the letter too. What do you think of it?

What do you think of his “world seething with gods and goddesses?” Does he still see the gods while we, alas, don’t? Then is he not better off than us?

Kilbil korche [seething] is admirable – it reminds me of a satire I read somewhere that 1 lakh of gods, 2 lakhs of Asuras and 3 lakhs of Rākṣasas, Piśācas, Pramathas73 et hoc genus omne74 are contained in a man’s big toe. I may be out a little in the figures and the locality, I write from distant memory – it may have been the heel for instance, but big toe sounds more literary and more probable. So you see the divine killbillany (or should it be killbillitude) of this world of his (or hers? or theirs?) is not a patch on that of a human big toe. However, if the gods are so cheap and plentiful, it is no wonder they are seen so easily. Ours probably are a shyer and rarer breed – that’s why they don’t offer themselves to publicity with the same readiness. Seethe, godheads, seethe!

 

December 7, 1934

The three sonnets are indeed very fine. I have not yet gone through the more careful reading of the long poem which I intended – perhaps on Sunday if I can get rid of a number of unanswered letters by then; otherwise –. But it is certain that in these sonnets you have entered into a deeper inspiration, and I am glad also that you are making a conscious use of your poetry for your sadhana.

I have ground out a stanza (the rhymes are however on a different model) for the metre, but I am trying to grind out another which will give the first some meaning and, as soon as the labour is done, I will send it.

 

December 10, 1934

Yesterday afternoon Nirod read out your letter re. Poetry, etc. Then we wondered and wondered and wandered – till I said that I had all along thought so and that poetry, karma, etc. were not the thing – the thing was to seek pūrṇa śaraṇ [complete surrender] in dhyān [meditation] in the orthodox way – nānya panthāḥ vidyate [no other path exists] etc. You know I have always been deeply uneasy about dhyān and it has always been a thorn in my side. Your letter therefore I supported wholeheartedly but interpreted it (because of this malaise-complex which has always made me dubious of my poetical activities as you know to your cost) as meaning that after all it was not much good all these things – as these were suffered more or less as concessions by the Divine who wanted only complete surrender and not such karma as poetry or music or well any other kind of work. Anilkumar + Nishikanta contradicted me. Anilkumar said: “If all such action were at bottom meaningless and merely fettered us, why on earth did Sri Aurobindo and Mother repeatedly lay such stress on work and approved of workers offering their work by way of sadhana?” Nishikanta said: “If poetry etc., were so useless why does Sri Aurobindo take so much interest in poetry and besides at least a part of our consciousness is turned upwards, as I have felt always, when we write poetry.” I said, “Yes, but a very small part, the bulk takes to poetry because it feels the delight of chhanda bhāva [feeling of rhythm], expression, etc.” etc., etc. Nishikanta was a little dismayed by my cogent arguments, and I clinched the matter by holding up dhyān as the summit of sadhana.

Then at night I felt very uneasy. I felt I was somehow fundamentally wrong. “Why indeed” I said to myself, “all this Herculean effort to master chhanda, etc. so much pains and meticulous attention to perfection of karma in detail, such order, precision, smoothness, etc., etc., etc., if karma is at bottom suspect in its very nature?” And then Sri Aurobindo has repeatedly said that he is not Mayavadi. If it be so then how can I say that karma is far less desirable that dhyān? True poetry, etc. should all be dedicated – but because we have not been able to dedicate it as we would like to I had no right to dismay Nishikanta and my own poetry-loving self that such love is all self-love. All I could say was that the motive of poetry in Yoga should be progressively changed from the human egoist artistic level to the Divine level in that it has to be dedicated as everything else so why say that dhyān alone is the way of wisdom and karma, art, etc. that of folly? Well I am illogical since this is the position of mayavad not of adhyātmayoga [spiritual Yoga] of Sri Aurobindo.

This morning I told Anilkumar I was wrong and I will tell Nishikanta also. Poor man! He is writing such lovely poetry which I cannot help delighting in – and yet I dismayed him so! He is dismayed enough surely by Mother’s smilelessness (as Sahana was telling me so yesterday) without my pooh-poohing such lovely poetry whose gorgeousness and expression is at times simply dazzling to me and others too (Saurin, Nirod, Kanai, Sahana, all are marvelling at his poetry nowadays – though formerly they didn’t – even Moni who never praises anybody sought him out and lavished encomiums on his exquisite poems published lately in different journals!) And I was so chilling (bad – wicked, that!).

In sheer repentance I wrote a poem – and the inspiration welled up with all the more gusto by virtue of the remorse. Please read it, and tell me if my attitude is not righted now eventually. Not that I did not realise at all while I pooh-poohed poetry (my own most – as I said I loved poetry because it gave me ecstasy of expression not because it made me a bhakta) but my kshova [grudge] complex because of my inability to concentrate (dhyān) came up topmost and I belittled all karma out of sheer impetuosity. Wrong. But the comfort is that I saw the wrong angle of my outlook. So that’s that.

Apropos, I have often felt though that dhyān was a better way than karma, poetry, etc. to reach the Divine – a shorter cut I mean. Am I right?

Meditation is one means of the approach to the Divine and a great way, but it cannot be called short-cut – for most it is a most long and difficult though a very high ascent. It can by no means be short unless it brings a descent – and even then it is only the foundation that is quickly laid – afterwards meditation has to build laboriously a big superstructure on that foundation. It is very indispensable, but there is nothing of the short cut about it.

Karma is a much simpler road – provided one’s mind is not fixed on the Karma to the exclusion of the Divine. The aim must be the Divine and the work can only be a means. The use of poetry, etc. is to keep one in contact with one’s inner being and that helps to prepare for the direct contact with the inmost, but one must not stop with that, one must go on to the real thing. If one thinks of being a “literary man” or a poet or a painter as things worthwhile for their own sake, then it is no longer the yogic spirit. That is why I have sometimes to say that our business is to be yogis, not merely poets, painters, etc.

Love, bhakti, surrender, the psychic opening are the only short-cut to the Divine – or can be; for if the love and bhakti are too vital, then there is likely to be a seesaw between ecstatic expectation and viraha, abhimān [hurt love], despair, etc., which make it not a short cut but a long one, a zigzag, not a straight flight, a whirling round one’s own ego instead of a running towards the Divine.

 

December 12, 1934

This post-card from Subhash I received last mail. He had written it before starting for Calcutta by aeroplane. Now he is practically a prisoner – a home-internee really – at his residence. I wonder what work he will be doing now. In Europe he had been actively going about and wrote a book on Indian struggle. No doubt all is part of the lila [play] as says Krishnaprem and I wish him God-speed de tout mon cœur [with all my heart]. Only I wonder why he thinks that “okhāne thakiyā kāj hoy nā” [no work can be done by staying there]? I only trust a time will come when he will be able to see that true kāj hoy [work is done] only when the Divine is realised. I am sorry he is not changed in his outlook. It is strange that in prison he always thinks much more differently than when he comes out and is active. Now he is a full-fledged activist de nouveau [again] – going about in a rush, seeing people, writing books, attending Patel’s funeral, etc., etc. – instead of taking rest and curing himself of this malignant abdominal ulcer! He used once to meditate and see light and had a real bhakti – had turned a sannyasin even once. And now he says that seeking the Divine is useless inactive work!! Great snakes! (to quote your expletive) does he truly mean that all the people who are rushing about are doing great work?!! Some people may be doing something – may be even a thundering nincompoop does some good work sometimes in spite of himself, though after a lot of useless waste of precious energy – but to say sweepingly that “without personal contact no kāj hoy” – well –, it simply passes me. Qu’en dites-vous? I find, alas, there is a deeply disappointing element about my nationalist activist friend – much though I admire his strength of character and idealism, what?

I had never a very great confidence in Subhash’s Yoga-turn getting the better of his activism – he has two strong ties that prevent it – ambition and need to act and lead in the vital, and in the mind a mental idealism – these two things are the great fosterers of illusion. The spiritual path needs a certain amount of realism – one has to see the real value of the things that are – which is very little, except as steps in evolution. Then one can either follow the spiritual static path of rest and release or the spiritual dynamic path of a greater truth to be brought down into life. But otherwise –

I have worked out the spondaic poem after much labour and anguish and tribulation of spirit. Glory be to Ganesh the obstacle-breaker for his heavy and forceful trunk-swinging – otherwise it could not have been done. But I want a day or two to see if it is all that at the moment it pretends to be.

 

December 13, 1934

I enclose your letter and my typescript of the same; at two or three places I have not been able to read. Please insert the “words” unsolved – but in a way that need not (I submit) necessitate head-shaking and magnifying glass and tapping the forehead.

I believe my corrections are irreproachably legible. If not, there is no help – tap, shake and magnify.

I will trouble you no longer (for the present) with the accentual metres. I have finished a dozen and no new inspiration has come to me in that direction. I have finished however twelve mātrā-vṛtta sonnets (I have been working like a giant of late in spite of your dubiety of activism – and my own, to crown all) of which I send you two herewith. Do you know in the last twenty-one days from 22nd November to 12th December I have written 63 poems? Average 3 a day? My record anyway. I have never had my inspiration sustained so long. And what is more – would you believe it, great snakes! – my arch-friend doubt has not favoured me with any visit worth the name for this interval? I wonder! I marvel! Nay, I gape – in astonishment – physically as well as spiritually!

Very good indeed. Both the quantity and quality of the work taken together are remarkable. These two sonnets are very good.

Yesterday a stream of new inspiration came to me and I wrote off a new page on Kavi versus Rishi (which by the way Parichand loved immensely, isn’t he niceness incarnate?) which also I enclose. The more I read this poem, the more I feel the poet does deserve every word of it – and it is high time he had a straight talking to – even I submit a little bit of emphasis on the other side of the medal. This inspiration Rishi contrasted with Poet I had principally from your line “The Rishi can drink of a deeper draught of Beauty and Delight than the imagination of the poet at its highest can conceive.” It is marvellous how the inspiration simply pours. Last evening at meditation this line simply hammered at my brain and here’s the result.

What you write in the lines you have sent is true as well as forcible – but what poet is going to admit it? Othello’s occupation would be gone – unless he turned himself into poet and Rishi in one, but that is more easily claimed than done.

 

December 18, 1934

I enclose the four last sonnets in the mātrā-vṛtta. From tomorrow I will send you laghu guru sonnets which will complete my cycle of five chhandas (mātrā-vṛtta, akṣara-vṛtta, svara-vṛtta, laghu guru and praswānī)75. This will prove to you, I trust, that it was not out of a provincial-parochial-national-jingoistic view that I admired the great and increasing potentialities of Bengali metres. Here you see are five distinct principles of unit-counting which is no joke, I hope you will admit volontaire?... I don’t know how on earth I discovered this. But that it (praswānī) is a new and major chhanda there can’t be the shadow of a doubt and I am doubly sure of this as Prabodh Sen76 not only agrees with me but has warmly congratulated me. There are still two other minor varieties (upachhanda) which make seven in all – fancy that!

These sonnets by the way have brought into relief (in a sort of similar conditions as it were) the varieties of Bengali metres. And I do feel all this would have been impossible of attainment by one like me had it not been for your guidance, constant encouragement and yogic force. And to write so many sonnets – I – who have never up till now felt quite reconciled to the sonnet form – being too sombre and terse for me. But you will see that the laghu guru sonnets are more lyrical than the others, in fact the praswānī and laghu guru are hardly sonnets being at least seventy per cent lyric.

You have certainly, it seems to me, been very successful in your sonnets – the lyrical sonnets, if one may so call them, included. As for the five forms, I am quite ready to admit the opulence of metrical possibility in Bengali – I hope that Prabodh’s approval will be the forerunner of a general assent to the praswānī.

 

December 23, 1934

I thought I had intimated that the sragdhara77 was a great success – so why conclude that I did not appreciate it?

I do not understand also why you shall assume that I am displeased with the karma-questioning. I castigated or fustigated Nirod not from displeasure, not even “more in sorrow than in anger,” but for fun and also from a high sense of duty; for that erring mortal was bold enough to generalise from his very limited experience and impose it as a definite law of Yoga, discrediting in the process my own immortal philosophy. What then could I do but jump on him in a spirit of genial massacre?

I am afraid your letter does very much the same thing. In spite of your disclaimer you practically come to the conclusion that all my nonsense about integral Yoga and karma being as much a way to realisation as jnana and bhakti is either a gleaming chimera or practicable only by Avatars or else a sheer laborious superfluity – since one can bump straight into the Divine through the open door of Bhakti or sweep majestically in him by the easy high road of meditation; so why this scramble through the jungle of karma by which nobody ever reached anywhere? The old Yogas are true, are they not? Then why a newfangled more difficult Yoga with unheard talk about the supramental and god knows what else? There can be no answer to that; for I can only answer by a repetition of the statement of my own knowledge and experience – that is what I have done in today’s answer to Nirod – and that amounts only to a perverse obstinacy in riding my gleaming and dazzling chimera and forcing my nuisance of a superfluity on a world weary of itself and anxious to get a short easy cut to the Divine. Unfortunately, I don’t believe in short cuts – at any rate none ever led me where I wanted to go. However, let it rest there.

I have never disputed the truth of the old Yogas – I have myself had the experience of Vaishnava bhakti and of Nirvana. I recognise their truth in their own field and for their own purpose – the truth of their experience so far as it goes – though I am in no way bound to accept the truth of the mental philosophies founded on the experience. I similarly find that my Yoga is true in its own field – a larger field, as I think – and for its own purpose. The purpose of the old is to get away from life to the Divine – so, obviously, let us drop Karma. The purpose of the new is to reach the Divine and bring the fullness of what is gained into life – for that, Yoga by works is indispensable. It seems to me that there is no mystery about that or anything to perplex anybody – it is rational and inevitable. Only you say that the thing is impossible; but that is what is said about everything before it is done.

I may point out that Karmayoga is not a new but a very old Yoga: the Gita was not written yesterday and Karmayoga existed before the Gita. Your idea that the only justification in the Gita for works is that it is an unavoidable nuisance, so better make the best use of it, is rather summary and crude. If that were all, the Gita would be the production of an imbecile and I would hardly have been justified in writing two volumes on it or the world in [admiring?] it as one of the greatest scriptures, especially for its treatment of the problem of the place of works in spiritual endeavour. There is surely more in it than that. Anyhow your doubt whether works can lead to realisation or rather your flat and sweeping denial of the possibility contradicts the experience of those who have achieved this supposed impossibility. You say that work lowers the consciousness, brings you out of the inner into the outer – yes, if you consent to externalise yourself in it instead of doing works from within; but that is just what one has to learn not to do. Thought and feeling can also externalise one in the same way; but it is a question of linking thought, feeling and act firmly to the inner consciousness by living there and making the rest an instrument. Difficult? Even bhakti is not easy and Nirvana for most men more difficult than all.

You again try to floor me with Ramakrishna. But one thing puzzles me, as Shankara’s stupendous activity of karma puzzles me in the apostle of inaction – you see you are not the only puzzled person in the world. Ramakrishna also gave the image of the jar which ceased gurgling when it was full. Well, but Ramakrishna spent the last years of his life in talking about the Divine and receiving disciples – that was not action, not work? Did Ramakrishna become a half-full jar after being a full one or was he never full? Did he get far away from God and so began a work? Or had he reached a condition in which he was bound neither to rajasic work nor to mental prattling nor to inactivity and silence, but could do from the divine realisation the divine work and speak from the inner consciousness of the divine word? If the last, perhaps, in spite of his dictum, his example at least is rather in my favour.

I do not know why you drag in humanitarianism, Subhash’s activism, philanthropical sevā [service], etc. None of these are part of my Yoga or in harmony with my definition of works, so they don’t touch me. I never thought that Congress politics or feeding the poor or writing beautiful poems would lead straight to Vaikuntha or the Absolute. If it were so, Romesh Dutt on one side and Baudelaire on the other would be the first to attain the Highest and welcome us there. It is not the form of the work itself or mere activity but the consciousness and Godward will behind it that are the essence of Karmayoga; the work is only the necessary instrumentation for the union with the Master of works, the transit to the pure Will and power of Light from the will and power of the Ignorance.

Finally, why suppose that I am against meditation or bhakti? I have not the slightest objection to your taking either or both as the means of approach to the Divine. Only I saw no reason why anyone should fall foul of works and deny the truth of those who have reached, as the Gita says, through works perfect realisation and oneness of nature with the Divine, saṃsiddhim, sādharmyam, as did “Janaka and others”, simply because he himself cannot find or has not yet found their deeper secret – hence my defence of works.

 

December 24, 1934

I must again point out that I have never put any ban on bhakti, so there is no meaning in saying that I have lifted a ban which never existed. Also I am not conscious of having banned meditation either at any time – so the satirical praise of my mercifulness is out of place. I imagine I have stressed both bhakti and knowledge in my Yoga as well as works, even if I have not given any of them an exclusive importance like Shankara or Chaitanya. Also I think I have not imposed my own choice unduly upon anyone in the matter of sadhana. Those who wanted to go wholesale for works or wholesale for bhakti or japa or wholesale for meditation, I have left to do so without any interference, though not without any help I could give. I have latterly sometimes discounselled entire retirement, but that was because I did not want a repetition of the cases of Nalinbehari and others who, in spite of my warning, went in for it and came to grief. I have written what I thought when people asked me; but if they had no use for my ideas about things, why did they ask me?

My remarks about being puzzled were, by the way, mere Socratic irony. Of course, I am not in the least puzzled by the case either of Shankara or of Ramakrishna.

The difficulty you feel or any sadhak feels about sadhana is not really a question of meditation versus bhakti versus works, it is a difficulty of the attitude to be taken, the approach or whatever you like to call it. Yours seems to be characterised on one side by a tremendous effort in the mind, on the other by a gloomy certitude in the vital which seems to watch and mutter under its breath if not aloud, “Yes, yes, go ahead, my fine fellow, but – kichhui kakhano hay ni, kichhui hachchey nā, kichhui habay nā” [nothing has ever happened, nothing is happening and nothing will ever happen] and at the end of the meditation, “What did I tell you, kichhui holo nā [nothing happened]”. A vital so ready to despair that even after a “glorious” flood of poetry, it uses the occasion to preach the gospel of despair. I have passed through most of the difficulties of the sadhaks, but I cannot recollect to have looked on delight of poetical creation or concentration in it as something undivine and a cause for despair. This seems to me excessive. Even Shankaracharya.

If you can’t remember the Divine all the time you are writing, it does not greatly matter. To remember and dedicate at the beginning and give thanks at the end ought to be enough. Or at the most to remember too when there is a pause. Your method seems to me rather painful and difficult – you seem to be trying to remember and work with the same part of the mind. I don’t know if that is possible. When people remember all the time during work (it can be done), it is usually with the back of their minds or else there is created gradually a double consciousness – one in front that works, one within that witnesses and remembers. But this is only a comment – I am not asking you to try that. For usually it does not come so much by trying as by a very simple constant aspiration and will of consecration – which does bring its results, even if in some it takes a long time about it. That is a great secret of sadhana, to know how to get things done by the Power behind or above instead of doing all by the mind’s effort. Let me hasten to say, however, that I am not dogmatising – I don’t mean to say that the mind’s effort is unnecessary or has no result – only if it tries to do all by itself, that becomes a laborious effort for all except the spiritual athletes. Nor do I mean that the other method is the longed-for short cut; the result may, as I have said, take a long time. Patience and firm resolution are necessary in every method of sadhana.

Strength is all right for the strong – but aspiration and the Grace answering to it are not altogether myths. Again, you see, I am muddling the human mind – like Krishna of the Gita – by supporting contrary things at the same time. Can’t help it – it is my nature.

But I am unable to explain farther today – so I break off these divagations. I am rather too overburdened with “work” these two days to have much time for the expression of “knowledge”. This is simply a random answer.

 

December 24, 1934

It won’t do to put excessive and sweeping constructions on what I write, otherwise it is easy to misunderstand its sense. I said there was no reason why poetry of a spiritual character (not any poetry like Verlaine’s or Swinburne’s or Baudelaire’s) should bring no realisation at all. That did not mean that poetry is a major means of realisation of the Divine. I did not say that it would lead us to the Divine or that anyone had achieved the Divine through poetry or that our “new” poetry can lead us straight into the sanctuary. Obviously if such exaggerations are put into my words, they become absurd and imbecile. But did I ever say anything of all that? Your difficulty in understanding me comes from this habit of putting into my mouth things which are not actually there in what I write.

My position is perfectly clear and there is nothing in it against reason or common sense. The Word has a power – even the ordinary written word has a power. If it is an inspired word it has still more power. What kind of power or power for what depends on the nature of the inspiration and the theme and the part of the being it touches. If it is the Word itself – as in certain utterances of the great Scriptures – Veda, Upanishads, Gita – it may well have a power for a spiritual impulse, uplifting, even certain kinds of realisation: to say that it cannot contradicts human experience.

The Vedic poets regarded their poetry as mantras, they were the vehicles of their own realisations and could become vehicles of realisation for others. Naturally, these were illuminations, not the settled and permanent realisation that is the goal of Yoga – but they could be steps on the way or at least lights on the way. I have had in former times many illuminations, even initial realisations while pondering verses of the Upanishads or the Gita78. Many of Harin’s poems have been of immense help to persons here who were floundering and unable to progress – also to others who had begun to progress. You yourself know that your poems deeply moved people who had the tendency towards spiritual things. Many have got openings into realisation while reading passages of the Arya – which are not poetry, have not the power of spiritual poetry – but it shows all the more that the word is not without power even for the things of the spirit. In all ages spiritual seekers have expressed their aspirations or their experiences in poetry or inspired language and it has helped them and others. Therefore there is nothing absurd in my assigning to such poetry a spiritual or psychic value and effectiveness of a psychic or spiritual character.

There is nothing unintelligible in what I say about strength and Grace. Strength has a value for spiritual realisation, but to say that it can be done by strength only and by no other means is a violent exaggeration. Grace is not an invention, it is a fact of spiritual experience. Many who would be considered as mere nothings by the wise and strong have attained by Grace; illiterate, without mental power or training, without “strength” of character or will, they have yet aspired and suddenly or rapidly grown into spiritual realisation, because they had faith or because they were sincere. I do not see why these facts which are facts of spiritual history and of quite ordinary spiritual experience should be discussed and denied and argued as if they were mere matters of speculation. Strength, if it is spiritual, is a power for spiritual realisation; a greater power is sincerity; the greatest power of all is Grace. I have said times without number that if a man is sincere, he will go through in spite of long delay and overwhelming difficulties. I have repeatedly spoken of the Divine Grace. I have referred any number of times to the line of the Gita: Ahaṃ tvā sarvapāpebhyo mokṣayiṣyāmi mā śucaḥ. [“I will deliver thee from all sin and evil, do not grieve.” Gita, 18.66]

I do not remember what I said about Vivekananda. If I said he was a great Vedantist, it is quite true. It does not follow that all he said or did must be accepted as the highest truth or the best. His ideal of sevā was a need of his nature and must have helped him – it does not follow that it must be accepted as a universal spiritual necessity or ideal. Whether in declaring it he was the mouthpiece of Ramakrishna or not, I cannot pronounce. It seems certain that Ramakrishna expected him to be a great power for changing the world-mind in a spiritual direction and it may be assumed that the mission came to the disciple from the Master. The details of his action are another matter. As for proceeding like a blind man, that is a feeling that easily comes when a Power greater than one’s own mind is pushing one to a large action; for the mind does not realise intellectually all that it is being pushed to do and may have its moments of doubt or wonderment about it – and yet it is obliged to go on. Vedantic (Adwaita) realisation is the realisation of the silent static or absolute Brahman – one may have that and yet not have the same indubitable clearness as to the significance of one’s action – for even action for the Adwaitin is the shadow of Maya.

I hope all that is clear.

 

December 25, 1934

The poetry, even if it does not lead to any realisation – though there is no reason why it should not, since it is not mundane is yet a link with the inner being and expresses its ideal. That is its value for the sadhana. That cannot be said of [?] ananda or acting ananda. I can say nothing about spiritual clinic ananda – that must be decided by the clinical sadhak.

It is not indispensable that the Grace should work in a way that the human mind can understand, it generally doesn’t: it works in its own “mysterious” way. At first usually it works behind the veil, preparing things, not manifesting. Afterwards it may manifest, but the sadhak does not understand very well what is happening. Finally, when he is capable of it, he both feels and understands or at least begins to do so. Some feel and understand from the first or very early; but that is not the ordinary case.

I have already spoken about the bad conditions of the world; the usual idea of the occultists about it is that the worse they are, the more is probable the coming of an intervention or a new revelation from above. The ordinary mind cannot know – it has either to believe or disbelieve or wait and see.

As to whether the Divine seriously means something to happen, I believe it is intended. I know with absolute certitude that the supramental is a truth and that its advent is in the very nature of things inevitable. The question is as to the when and the how. That also is decided and predestined from somewhere above; but it is here being fought out amid a rather grim clash of conflicting forces. For in the terrestrial world the predetermined result is hidden and what we see is a whirl of possibilities and forces attempting to achieve something with the destiny of it all concealed from human eyes. This is however certain that a number of souls have been sent to see that it shall be now. That is the situation. My faith and will are for the now. I am speaking of course on the level of the human intelligence – mystically-rationally, as one might put it. To say more would be going beyond that line. You don’t want me to start prophesying, I suppose? As a rationalist, you can’t.

I don’t think the White Paper has anything to do with the matter. It belongs to a different bundle of potentials.

 

December 27, 1934

There can be no doubt about the Divine Grace. It is perfectly true also that if a man is sincere, he will reach the Divine. But it does not follow that he will reach immediately, easily and without delay. Your error is there, to fix for God a term, five years, six years, and doubt because the effect is not yet there. A man may be centrally sincere and yet there may be many things that have to be changed in him before realisation can begin. His sincerity must enable him to persevere always – for it is a longing for the Divine that nothing can quench, neither delay nor disappointment nor difficulty nor anything else.

You have got troubled again because you have allowed your mind to become active again in its ignorance, questioning, trying to refute the simplest and most established spiritual truths, trying to decide without waiting for the inner knowledge. Throw all that away and go on in quietude not minding if it takes short or long for things to open up. That was what you had undertaken to do. Keep to it and, however slowly, the consciousness will open and light come.

I send you the force – but quiet your mind to receive it. If you learn to receive inwardly and feel it as you will [in time?] – the path will open.

 

December 1934

I was not in the least pained or hurt by your letters and I did not take them as an intentional challenge from Krishnaprem or anybody else. I look at these things from a more impersonal or, if you like, personal-impersonal point of view. There is on one side my effort at perfection, for myself and others and for the possibility of a greater perfection in a changed humanity: on the other side there is a play of forces, some favouring it but more trying to prevent it. The challenge I speak of comes from these forces. On one side it is a pressure from the pro-forces saying “Your work is not good enough; learn to do better;” on the other it is a pressure from the contrary forces saying “Your work? It is a delusion and error – a poor mediocre thing, and we will trample and trash it to pieces.” Part of the work was an attempt to inspire a poetry which would express first the aspiration and labour towards the spiritual or divine and afterwards its realisation and manifestation. There are many who write poetry in the Ashram under this impulse but in the languages which I know best (English perfectly – at least I hope so – Bengali a little) there were four here whose work seemed to me to contain already on a fairly ample way the ripe possibility of the thing I wanted – yourself, Arjava79, Amal, Harin. (I do not speak of Nishikanta and others because they are new or emergent only.) There are some Gujarati poets but I do not know the poetic language and technique in that tongue well enough to form an indubitable judgment. These four then I have encouraged and tried to push on towards a greater and richer expression. I have praised but there was nothing insincere in my praise. For some time however I have received intimations from many quarters that my judgment was mistaken, ignorant, partial and perhaps not wholly sincere. It began with your poetry even at the time of Anāmi80 and the forces at play spoke through some literary coteries of Bengal and reached here through reviews, letters, etc. There has been much inability to appreciate Arjava’s poetry, Yeats observing that he had evidently something to say but struggled to say it with too much obscurity and roughness. Amal’s work is less criticised, but A.E.’s attitude towards it was rather condescending as to an Indian who writes unexpectedly well in English. Finally, there is the ignoring or rejection of Harin’s work by this army of authorities – there are as good authorities on the other side, a lot that is irrelevant. That makes the issue complete and clear. If I have made so big a mistake, then the whole thing is a hallucination – I am an incompetent critic of poetry, at least of contemporary poetry, and my pretension to inspire cannot stand for a moment. Personally that would not matter to me, for personally I have my own feeling of these things and what it may be in the eyes of others makes no difference – just as it makes no difference to me if my own poetry is really no poetry, as [Annadashekar?] and so many others think and may form their own viewpoint – there are a million possible viewpoints in the world – be justified in thinking. But for my work it does matter. I recognise in it the challenge of the forces and, once I recognise that in whatever field, I never think myself entitled to ignore it. If it is a challenge to do better (from the favourable forces), I must see that and get it done. If it is a challenge from the other forces, I must see that too and know how far it is justifiable or else what can be put against it. That is what I have always done both in my own Yoga looking carefully to see what was imperfect in the instrumentation of my own consciousness as a vehicle of the manifestation and working to set it right or else maintaining what was right against all challenge. So I began to do it here. Instead of reading rapidly through Harin’s poems every day, I began to weigh and consider looking to see what could be justly said from Krishnaprem’s viewpoint and what could be fairly said from mine. I took Krishnaprem’s criticism because it is the only thing I have that is definite and, though his technical strictures are obviously mistaken, the general ones have to be weighed even though they are far from conclusive. But this is a work for my personal use – its main object is not a weighing of Harin’s work but of my own capacity and judgment and that is too personal in scope for me to lay before others. That is why I said I was not writing it to circulate.

I have written all this to explain to you that you have not pained or hurt or displeased me, nor has Krishnaprem either. It would be childish to be displeased with someone because his opinions on literature or a particular piece of literature are not identical with my own at every point. I may also say that I was not displeased with you for your letter. I was a little disappointed that you should have gone back to mental doubts or to vital feelings after you had started so well for something else. But these temporary recessions are too common in the path to the Divine for me to be displeased or discouraged. The work I have to do for myself or for the world or for you or others can only be achieved if I have love for all and faith for all and go firmly on till it is done. It is why I urge you to do the same, because I know that if one does not give up, one is sure to arrive. That is the attitude you had started to take, to go quietly on and give time for the right development, however slow. I want you to return to that and keep to it.

By the way, what I have written about the poetry is [just?] for yourself because it is too personal to me to be made general.

 

December 29, 1934

It was not with any intention of bringing in personal matters that I mentioned names and examples in my letter. The personal merits or demerits of the external human instrument – the frail outer man – are irrelevant and have no importance when one considers the value or power of the Word. What matters is the truth of the Inspiration and the power of what it utters. I was not saying either that this poetry – I try to avoid names this time – appeals to everybody; I was referring to those whom it did touch and especially to certain incidents within my personal observation and knowledge.

I am keeping Krishnaprem’s letter. I don’t know that it is very advisable for me to give my view: if I do so I will try to restrict myself to general considerations about poetry and literature. I will only say that my opinions about [his?] poetry or yours or Amal’s or Arjava’s are personal to myself and nobody need attach any value to them if his own do not agree. As they are personal, what others think, however eminent they may be, cannot make any difference. I experience a certain beauty, power or charm, an expression of things I feel and know in the occult or spiritual province with what seems to me a great or a sufficient breath of poetry in it. I do not expect all or many to share my feeling and I do not need it. I can understand Krishnaprem’s strictures or his reservation (without endorsing, refuting or qualifying them) but I have had the same view about very great poets like Shelley or Spenser at one time, so that does not seriously touch my feeling that this is poetry of beauty and value. Also I do not make comparisons – I take it by itself as nothing apart on its own province. I know of course that my old school-fellow Binyon and others in England have spoken in this connection of Keats and Shelley; but I do not myself feel the need of that comparative valuation. After all one can only give one’s own view of contemporary poetry; we must leave it to Tagore’s viśva-mānava [the universal man] (posterity?) to decide.

As to the extract about Vivekananda81, the point I make there does not seem to me humanitarian. You will see that I emphasise there the last sentences of the passage quoted from Vivekananda, not the words about God the poor and sinner and criminal. The point is about the Divine in the world, the All, sarva-bhūtāni82 of the Gita. That is not merely humanity, still less, only the poor or the wicked; surely, even the rich or the good are the part of the All and those only who are neither good nor bad nor rich nor poor. Nor is there any question (I mean in my own remarks) of philanthropic service; so neither daridrer nor sevā83 are the point. I had formerly not the humanitarian but the humanity view – and something of it may have stuck to my expressions in the Arya. But I had already altered my viewpoint from the “Our Yoga for the sake of humanity” to “Our Yoga for the sake of the Divine.” The Divine includes not only the supracosmic but the cosmic and the individual – not only Nirvana or the Beyond but Life and the All. It is that I stress everywhere. But I shall keep the extracts for a day or two and see what there is, if anything that smacks too much of a too narrow humanistic standpoint. I stop here for today.

 

December 30, 1934

I did not answer that long letter of yours because I could not see that an answer would be at all helpful. I have more and more ceased to discuss things like this, for discussion only prolongs them and makes them worse: they belong to the vital plane and the vital does not follow reason in its movements but obliges reason to follow them and support them. The only way to get rid of them is to refuse always to indulge them in their play or to justify them by the reason – to refuse on the ground that, whether justified or not, they are wrong and not wanted by the higher Truth and Light and Love we are seeking after.

I suppose I have nothing much to learn about the outer being of this or that sadhak – even in the best it is faulty enough from the spiritual point of view. If insincerity means the unwillingness of some part of the being to live according to the highest light one has or to equate the outer with the inner man, this part is always insincere in all. I do not see any use in dwelling on that; the only way, according to my view of it, is to lay stress on the inner being and develop in it the psychic and spiritual consciousness till that comes down in it which pushes out the darkness in the outer man also.

I have never said that the vital is to have no part in the love of the Divine, only that it must purify and ennoble itself in the light of the true psychic feeling. The results of self-loving love between human beings are so poor and contrary in the end (that is what I mean by the ordinary vital love) that I want something purer and nobler and higher in the vital also for the movement towards the Divine.

I am keeping Krishnaprem still as I want to write something on it, not for circulation, but for my own use. As all my judgments about poetry (whether about yours or Harin’s or Arjava’s or Amal’s) are so much challenged by the contrary opinion of others, I would like to have before me in black and white my own view on the strictures made. It may be of use hereafter.

P.S. The Mother expects you on Monday as usual. I am sending you the completion of the four line sample I gave you for your Bengali metre.

 

1934

The main obstacle in your sadhana has been a weak part in the vital which does not know how to bear suffering or disappointment or delay or temporary failure. When these things come, it winces away from them, revolts, cries out, makes a scene within, calls in despondency, despair, unbelief, darkness of the mind, denial – begins to think of abandonment of the effort or death as the only way out of its trouble. It is the very opposite of that equanimity, fortitude, self-mastery which is always recommended as the proper attitude of the Yogi. This has been seized upon by the forces adverse to the sadhana with their usual cleverness to prevent you from making the steady and finally decisive progress which would put all the trouble behind you. Their method is very simple. You make the effort and get perhaps some of the experiences which are not decisive but which if continued and followed up may lead to something decisive or at least you begin to have that peace, poise and hopefulness which are the favourable condition for progress – provided they can be kept steady. Immediately they give a blow to that part of the vital – or arrange things so that it shall get a blow or what it thinks to be a blow and sets it in motion with its round of sadness, suffering, outcry and despair. It clouds the mind with its sorrow and then gets that clouded mind to find justifications for its attitude – it has established a fixed formation, a certain round of ideas, arguments, feelings which it always repeats like a mechanism that once set in motion goes its round till it stops or something intervenes to stop it. This justification by the mind gives it strength to assert itself and remain or, when thrown back, to recur. For if these reasonings were not there, you would at once see the situation and disengage yourself from it or at any rate would perceive that such a course of feeling and conduct is not worthy of you and draw back from it at its very inception. But as it is you have to spend days getting out of the phase and getting back into your normal self. Then when you are back to your right walk and stature they wait a little and strike again and the whole thing repeats itself with a mechanical regularity. It takes time, steadfast endeavour, long continued aspiration and a calm perseverance to get anywhere in Yoga; that time you do not give yourself because of these recurrent surging away from the right attitude. It is not vanity or intellectual questioning that is the real obstacle – they are only impediments – but they could well be overcome or one could pass beyond in spite of them if this part of the vital were not there or were not so strong to intervene. If I have many times urged upon you equanimity, steadfast patience, cheerfulness or whatever is contrary to this spirit, it is because I wanted you to recover your true inner vital self and get rid of this intruder. If you give it rein, it is extremely difficult to get on to anywhere. It must go – its going is much more urgently required than the going of the intellectual doubt.

How you get to this condition is another matter. When you came it was not apparent and for a long time did not manifest itself. When Mother first saw you in the verandah of the old house84 she said “That is a man with a large and strong vital,” and it was true, nor do I think it has at all gone, but you have pushed it to the back and it turns up only when you are in good condition. The other, this small vital which is taking so much space now, must have been there but latent, perhaps because you had had a strong and successful life and it had no occasion to be active. But at a certain moment here it began to be impatient for immediate results, to fret at the amount of tapasya or effort to control its habits and indulgences and the absence of immediate return for the trouble. At a later stage it has tried to justify and prolong itself by appealing to your penchant for the Vaishnava attitude. But the emotional outbreaks of the Vaishnava – or such impulses as Vivekananda’s prāyopaveśan85 – spring from a tremendous one-minded, one-hearted passion for the Divine or for the goal which tries to throw itself headlong forward at any cost. It was another part of your vital that would have liked to take that attitude, but this smaller part prevented it and brought in a confusion and a mixture which was rather used by the adverse forces to turn you away from belief in or hope of the goal. This confusion of mind and vital you must get rid of – you must call in the true reason and the higher vital to cast out these movements. A higher reason must refuse to listen to its self-justifications and tell it that nothing, however plausible, can justify these notions in a sadhak; your higher vital must refuse to accept them, telling it, “I do not want these alien things; I do not recognise them as part of myself or my nature.”

P.S. About Khitish Sen Mother says that he is all brain, that is predominantly strong in the mind, a mental man par excellence. Extremely self-confident, sure of his ideas and his intelligence and looking at the world from the heights of his mental vision. He has some weak points, but they are hidden behind this bright shield of self-confident intelligence.

 

1934 (?)

I am afraid it would be quite impossible for me to give an adequate answer without speaking in detail about everything that has recently been happening in Harin and what happened before. It was because I could not do that or unveil the special circumstances that compelled me not to send your letter that I spoke indefinitely of “other reasons” and appealed to you to believe that I was acting for the best and had no other choice. If I had been able to say more, I would have done so at once and any such appeal would have been unnecessary. I fear I can do little more now than repeat that appeal. Many times difficult circumstances have arisen in the Ashram; I have always tried to act for the best that could be under the circumstances. I had to do so in this case also.

When Harin first came here and began writing his poems, it was the Mother’s strong feeling that they should not be published now, but only when certain things inner [and?] outer had happened, and even then only when we felt that it should be done. Harin agreed and it was at this time and I suppose for this reason that he asked you not to publish them. Since then we had thought of publishing one book, but a choice had to be made and through want of time, etc. I failed to do it and the matter dropped for a long time. I know nothing about the poems you speak of beyond what Harin wrote to us. He said that he wanted now to publish his poems and we said he could do so. I gather that it is in certain magazines that he wished to publish. I believe that about publication of books the original understanding remains still. More than this I do not know and cannot say on this subject.

Harin’s estrangement is not due to the report about the sonnets, but began, I believe, because all sorts of things were reported to him about you and your comments on him, his capacities and his character. Whatever was unfavourable came to his ears, no doubt with exaggeration and distortions; what was favourable did not, I suppose, reach him. My impression is that this has been going on steadily, almost, though slightly, from the beginning, much more seriously later on. I have told you already that I tried to remedy matters and was on the point of succeeding. But another spate of reports came and made a new mess. I hope for better things hereafter, but I have to wait for it as I had to wait for the ending of the estrangement between you and Saurin. You may remember that on that matter too I asked you not to send your proposed letter of reconciliation to him and it was only because I wanted things to be ripe on the other side for which I was putting pressure.

How on earth you jumped to the conclusion that I wanted Harin to break with you I cannot imagine. Merely from the poem? I had no reason to suppose that it was an attack on you (I think he had no anger against you then) and not an [?] of himself against a criticism on his ignorance of technique, especially as he named to me the person who had urged him to learn it. My “very beautiful” referred to the language and form of the poem; it was not an approval of any attack upon anybody or even of all the state of mind that was or might be behind the poem. And what a queer idea that we do not mind how people are dead against each other, provided they are sweet to us? That would mean, apart from the egoism of the attitude, that we put a sanction of acquiescence on all the quarrels, rivalries, antipathies in the Ashram! There are surely plenty of wrong things in the Ashram whose existence does not prove that they are a part of our Yoga or approved by us.

No man is perfect; the vital is there and the ego is there to prevent it. It is only when there is the total transformation of the external and the internal being down to the very subconscient, that perfection is possible. Till then imperfection will remain our common heritage.

 

1934 (?)

A possibility in the soul or in the inner being generally remains always a possibility – at the worst, its fulfilment can be postponed, but even that only if the possessor of the possibility gives up or breaks away from the true spiritual path without probability of early return, because he is in chase of the magnified and distorted shadow of his own ego or for some other distortions of the nature produced by a wrong egoistic misuse of the Yoga. A mere appearance of inability or obstruction of progress in the outer being, a covering of the inner by the outer, even if it lasts for years, has no privative value, because that happens to a great number, perhaps to the majority of aspirants to Yoga. The reason is that they take somehow the way of raising up all the difficulties in their nature almost at the beginning and tunnelling through the mass instead of the alternative way of going ahead, slowly or swiftly, and trusting to time, Yoga and the Force Divine to clear out of them in the proper [?] what has to be eliminated. It is not of their own deliberate choice that they do it, something in their nature draws them. There are many here who have had or still have that long covering of the inner by the outer or separation of the inner from the outer consciousness. You yourself took that way in spite of our expostulations to you advising you to take the sunlit road, and you have not yet got out of the habit. But that does not mean that you won’t get out of the tunnel and when you do you will find your inner being waiting for you on the other side – in the sun and not in the shadow. I don’t think I am more patient than a guru ought to be. Anyone who is a guru at all ought to be patient, first because he knows the difficulty of human nature and, secondly, because he knows how the Yoga force works, in so many contrary ways, open or subterranean, slow or swift, volcanic or coralline – passing even from one to the other – and he does not use the surface reason but the eye of inner knowledge and Yogic experience.

 

1935 (?)

I dreamed rather a nice sort of a dream, if you know what I mean, don’t you know? I dreamed as though I was swimming like an Annette Kellermain, only somewhat blindly. The result? I found myself suddenly in deep waters and below some vicious dark-looking crags jutting out but beyond my reach – tantalisingly so! In a sort of heart-sinking for it was no joke then – I prayed, when, lo, there was an iron rod stretching from the crags to the shore. I plumped for the rod like a shot of course and tried to reach the shore with its help. But alas, again! it was far from easy to reach the shore sliding along a slippery rod. I despaired, when, lo, again, Guru! what do you think happened, eh? I bet you will be at the end of your resources to guess: the rod came to life as it were, and swam along towards the shore – fancy that!!! What do you think happened then? Well, now you will guess, I guess, what? I simply landed instead of being, you know what I mean, stranded! Curious, though, that such a rod should come to lend a helping rod-hand to such a fellow in such a fashion, what?

It was of course a symbolic dream, that is, not a dream at all. And nothing curious about the rod taking it into its head to help you like that: it was there for that purpose, if you know what I mean, to help you – once you could take hold of it.

 

1935 (?)

Mother,

I want to place with Ardhendu86 an order for a tambura87 with six wires. The one I use is with four wires. I want this as an innovation. I have long wanted it from a suggestion of the greatest theorist of Bengali music, one K. Bannerji, but could not get a mechanic clever enough to do it as I want. I have at last found in him the Godsend (or Supramental if you will). He has undertaken to do it with Rs.50 (fifty). Will you be so kind as to sanction it? I trust you will – but I won’t mind if you don’t. It is not a demand but a request: since my gramophone song too has become a success (incredible, yet irrefutable!). I feel Mother can spare it – I mean I will be able to replenish this Rs.50 from the gramophone funds. Will you allow? You will hear my music will [be?] much improved by this innovation. You see I have always had this vein for innovation and Ardhendu is enthused over my idea! So –?

Yes, of course.

P.S. Mother, I saw a nice dream at about 4.30 a.m. this morning. I saw a violet light (in dream) very beautiful and in everybody and everything the ambiance of Krishna, the trees, dust, men, etc. I was thrilled and said in dream to myself, “I must now believe that I begin to see Krishna’s grace.” It was very vivid and beautiful when I woke up at about 5, I think, I woke in great joy. The effect lingered.

How do you call that a dream? It was a realisation by the inner consciousness in some kind of swapna samādhi. Very often a realisation comes like that as the inner being wakes in what seems to be sleep. Violet is indeed the colour of light of Divine Compassion, as also of Krishna’s grace.

 

January 1935

The Mother did not tell Nolini to ask you to come for a little time, so I do not see why you shall make the Mother responsible for his phrase and refuse to come on Monday morning. The Mother limits the time like that for many, but she has done it for you only when her mornings were heavy and full; ordinarily she has not done so and has even asked you to stay longer when you made haste to go.

It seems to me that you have very strange ideas about the psychic. I do not know why you think the psychic is unable to offer or give or that the Mother is or ought to be incapable of appreciating gifts. The whole Ashram ought to know to the contrary, I suppose. It is the very first impulse of the psychic to give. Also if the vital gives generously, freely and of itself, that has always been appreciated by the Mother.

I have always said that the vital is indispensable for the divine or spiritual action – without it there can be no complete expression, no realisation of life – hardly even any realisation in sadhana. When I speak of the vital resistance or of the obstructions, revolts etc. of the vital, it is the unregenerated outer vital full of desire and ego and the lower passions of which I speak. I could say the same against the mind and the physical when they obstruct or oppose, but precisely because the vital is so powerful and indispensable, its obstruction, opposition or refusal of co-operation is more strikingly effective and its wrong mixtures are more dangerous to the sadhana. That is why I have always insisted on the dangers of the unregenerated vital and the necessity of mastery and purification there. It is not because I hold, like the Sannyasis, the vital and its life powers to be a thing to be condemned and rejected in its very nature.

Affection, love, tenderness are in their nature psychic; the vital has them because the psychic is trying to express itself through the vital. It is through the emotional being that the psychic most easily expresses, for it stands just behind it in the heart centre. But it wants these things to be pure. Not that it rejects the outward expression through the vital and the physical, but as the psychic being is the form of the soul, it naturally feels the attraction of soul to soul, the nearness of soul to soul, the union of soul with soul are the things that are to it most abiding and concrete. Mind, vital, body are means of expression and very precious means of expression, but the inner life is for it the first thing, the deepest reality and these have to be subordinated to it and conditioned by it, its expression, its instruments and channel. I do not think that in my emphasis on the inner things, on the psychic and spiritual, I am saying anything new, strange or unintelligible. These things have always been stressed from the beginning and the more the human being is evolved, the more they take an importance. I do not see how Yoga can be possible without this premier stress on the inner life, on the soul and the spirit. The emphasis on the mastery of the vital, its subordination and subjection to the spiritual and the psychic is also nothing new, strange or exorbitant. It has been insisted on always for any kind of spiritual life; even the Yogas which seek most to use the vital, like certain forms of Vaishnavism, yet insist on the purification and the total offering of it to the Divine – and the relations with the Divine are an inner realisation, the soul offering itself through the emotional being. The soul or psychic being is not something unheard of or incomprehensible.

I may say that I am not responsible for your loss of zest in the vital. This Vairagya or loss of zest, as you have yourself said, began before you came here. I have indeed laid some stress on the conquest of sex, for obvious reasons; but I have hardly laid a compulsory stress on anything else. Certainly, I have not encouraged you to lose joy in vital creativeness; I have only held up the [?] of turning it towards the Divine and away from the ego. To keep the vital full of life and energy and to trust mainly to the inner growth and the descent of a higher consciousness for a change, using the will too but for self-mastery, not for suppression, but for subordination of the lower to the higher, has been my teaching. The turn to Vairagya, to tapasya of an ascetic kind was the impulse of something in your own nature; it insisted on its necessity just as a part of the vital insisted on its opposite: even it condemned my suggestion of something less grim and strenuous as an easy going absence of aspiration, etc. I do not say that Vairagya and tapasya are not ways to reach the Divine, but done like that they are painful ways and long; if one takes them, one must be determined and go through. For one part to push all zest out of the vital and for the other to regret and say, why did I ever do it, will never do. And it is in this kind of tapasya that perfection or at least perfect purification is demanded before there can be any realisation. I have never said that for my Yoga the only thing I insist upon is some faith, inner surrender and opening of oneself to receive – not absolute but just sufficient. Experience has to begin long before perfect purification and from experience to experience one comes to realisation and through realisation to more and more perfection; anything that can be called real perfection can only come at the end. But there is something in you that is impatient of gradualness, of small success; its motto seems to be all or nothing.

If one wants Krishna, one gets Krishna – but he is a sufficiently trying Deity and does not come at once, though he may come suddenly at any time. But usually one has to want him so badly and obstinately that one is prepared to pay any price. One has to know how to wait as well as to want – to go on insisting and insisting without taking heed of even the longest denial. The psychic can do that – but the mind and the vital have to learn how to do it also.

 

January 1935

Since you have been so kind as to go through my letter of yesterday please achieve this also. I happened to chance upon a book88 of this very Dr. Stanley Jones and one of his most popular ones (to judge by its numerous editions indicated on the fly leaf) and could not refrain from quoting a few passages, therefrom. Yes, he is liberal – but of this superficial type and more dangerous because of his liberalism it seems to me. He is sure however (complimenting India, naturally, for it all) that “India is becoming saturated with Christ’s thoughts and ideals and is heavy to the point of precipitation into Christian forms and expressions.” Qu’en dites-vous, since he considers your saying if you put Supramental for Christ in the sentence quoted which is wrong? The Supramentalist or the Christist? Puzzling, what? Please correct also wherever needed, never mind the Supra whatever it is.

Precipitation indeed! The wish is father to this very precipitate thought. Well, I don’t think I would put the Supramental into competition on that basis with Christ. If there is any truth to be taken up in the Stanley Jones Christ it will be taken up, but surely not in Christian form or expression.

 

January 1935 (?)

At first sight your metre seemed to me impossible in English, especially because of the four short syllables at the end of two lines and the five short syllables in two others. English rhythm hardly allows of that – quantitatively it can be managed, but five unaccented unstressed syllables altogether even if it can be done once in a way causes an extreme difficulty when it is made a regular feature of the metre. But it seems that there is hardly anything impossible in the realm of metre and I succeeded after all subject to one change, the substitution of a long for a short syllable at the end of the fourth and fifth lines. I suppose I could have avoided even this concession if I had fallen back on the device of unrhymed verse, but I wanted to use rhyme. However after finishing I found my stanza right enough as metre, but poor in rhythmic opulence, something bald and lame. So I had to make yet another concession; I took the option, used in all but one line, to prefix a naturally superfluous syllable to each or any line. I give you the finished stanza below; if you want to get it such as I originally wrote it, you have only to strike off the first syllable or word in each line except the fifth; but it is better rhythm and better poetry as it is.

O89 pall of black Night painted with thy gold stars,

Hang, hang thy folds close, closer upon earth’s bars,

O dim Night!

Then sleep shall come parting the unseen

Gates and, far guarded by a screen

Of strange Light,

Free, safe, my soul charioted in a swift dream

From earth escape stepping into the unknown Gleam

The Ray white.

I hope you will find this satisfactory in spite of the two departures from your model.

P.S. In Horace’s line upon the eloquence and order, I have found that I dropped a word and truncated the hexameter. I have restored the full line.

 

January 7, 1935

Much more heartened I send you the queried portions marked in red pencil to compare with original (the booklet enclosed), page marks given in the margin.

Also two and half pages more today. I have done it with a lighter heart now that you have so kindly, etc.

Saurin is daily doing the typing in the morning – it is his typing I send. He is doing it all as a work of offering – and I thank the Supramental for it as it has made my work much less heavy in that side so that I can devote more time and energy to the improvement of my English. Still it is hard work I find. Because the humour is so Bengali!

A perusal of the original is rather discouraging. How can Indian style be rendered into English? and without the style all the spirit escapes and there is only a corpse. For the moment my suggestions are tentative. It seems [to?] me that after the translation is completed and one can get a whole view and impression, a revision will be imperative. You spoke to Mother I think of the [Nobel Prize?] – no hope of that unless one can render something of the style.

In your translation you use stock phrases too freely – by the way. They are good to know but not to use except very sparingly – as they give a sense of poverty and make up to [the?] language.

 

January 12, 1935

A little more of “Riddance.” My reply to Girija has been published. Seen? Have you time? If so I’ll send. If not, I won’t.

No, I have not seen it. I should like to.

I am groaning under remorse for having given you no chance to be rid of Riddance. One word I could not read.

Yet a short question, que faire? [what to do?] I will put it as briefly as possible.

Is it true that the atmosphere of Nalina’s new rooms are far better than that of her old ones? I find it difficult to believe that Mother gives better-atmosphered rooms to some and less to others. Mother had said once that all the houses were sanctified by her presence and there were no houses more favoured than others. This appeals to me. For if it were otherwise I would like, of course, to try all the time to get into some room within the Ashram precincts as people say often that there the atmosphere is ever so much better. I can’t believe that Nalina’s old rooms were so poor in atmosphere since beside her Bula lived ever so happily and with remarkable cheerfulness without once complaining that the atmosphere there was not conducive to sadhana. I can quite believe that Nalina feels better in the new atmosphere of her new rooms. But that is because something inside her responds in the right attitude to her new rooms, for she never liked her old rooms as you know. My point in asking this question is that I have always believed, if I was not much mistaken, that you laid the chief stress on the inner attitude and were against laying too much stress on outer things – accidental things, inconveniences in the nature of things. It is those we have to master, not to yield to believing that such house is better the other inferior and things of that kind. I feel my attitude is here right. Am I mistaken? I ask you frankly and wanting to know, not to argue.

The atmosphere of the houses as houses is pretty much the same in all the Ashram. But people make their own atmosphere as well; a number of people living together may create one that is agreeable to this person and disagreeable to another. A single man also may leave a vital atmosphere in a house which is felt by others who follow him or, even if he does not feel it, be influenced by it for a time – that I have observed often enough. The surroundings also have sometimes an effect. But all that is very secondary – one ought to create one’s own atmosphere (of course of the right kind) and keep it, the other vibrations will fall away from it.

What are the Ashram precincts? Every house in which the sadhaks of the Ashram live is in the Ashram precincts. People have a queer way of talking of the houses in this compound as the Ashram – it has no meaning. Or do they think the Mother’s influence or mine is shut up in a compound?

 

January 13, 1935

I send you four of your pages corrected. My progress is slow but I am taking more pains to save time hereafter.

I have read the article and Girija’s comic flight from an answer. Everything is beside the question except the main point which, I gather seems to be that nobody can sincerely find Dilip’s poetry readable except one “guarded” admirer – who is he and why is his praise alone allowed to be akṛtrim [sincere] – all other praise must be insincere?

By the way what are the two parts of minati [supplication]? I don’t know the etymology of the word. And are śabda [sound], mandir [temple] etc. made up of parts that can be separated as Tagore has done? Queer!

 

January 15, 1935

I send you only two pages more as you have three pages with you still.

My poems “Poet and Rishi” and “Bidayotsabi” and Nishikanta’s third book of poems are still with you. Can you now return them?

I shall fish them out and send them. The translation has been interrupted because people have gone letter-mad again. One sadhak sends me four letters in two days covering pages and pages of foolscap and all saying the same thing.

O Tautology, what are the charms

That writers have found in thy face?

I see only letters on letters

[Written at?] a terrible pace.

(Confidential by the way. I don’t want to hurt anybody’s feelings or pride of authorship. This is only a private groan.)

I send all the poetry I have yet found. But I have not yet found Bidayotsabi.

 

January 17, 1935

Why does the illusion of sex not disappear?

Too many roots in the human vital. Sex has a terrible tenacity. Besides, universal physical nature has such a need of it that even when man pushes it away, she throws it upon him as long as possible.

 

January 18, 1935

(From Mother)

Quelle belle couverture vous m’avez envoyée ce matin! Elle est magnifique et m’a fait doublement plaisir, surtout parce que c’est la première fois que vous me faites un cadeau personnel.

Soyez sur que j’y suis très sensible; j’y vois un excellent augure pour nos relations durant l’année qui va commencer pour vous le 22 prochain.

[What a nice coverlet you sent me this morning! It is splendid and it gave me double pleasure, especially because it is the first time that you give me a personal gift.

Be sure that I am very appreciative of it; I see in it an excellent omen for our relationship during the year which is starting for you on the coming 22nd.]

 

January 21, 1935

Sarat Chatterji’s letter is not a glory of the vital at all, even though it may have come through the vital – but not from it: it is psychic throughout, in every sentence. If I were asked how does the psychic work in the human being, I could very well point to the letter and say “like that”. The ordinary vital is another guess thing! The psychic is the soul, the divine spark animating matter and life and mind and as it grows it takes form and expresses itself through these three touching them to beauty and fineness – it works even before humanity in the lower creation leading it up towards the human, in humanity it works more freely though still under a mass of ignorance and weakness and coarseness and hardness leading it up towards the Divine. In Yoga it becomes conscious of its aim and turns inward to the Divine. It sees behind and above it – that is the difference. The psychic is not responsible for my aloofness or retirement – it is the mass of opposition that I have to face which is responsible for that. It is only when I have overcome by the aid of the psychic and (excuse me!) your other bête noire, the supermind, that the retirement can cease.

Of course all prayer is not heard – the world would be a still more disastrous affair than it is, if everybody’s prayers were heard, however sincere. Even the Godward prayer is not always heard – at once, even as faith is not always justified at once. Both prayer and faith are powers towards realisation which have been given to man to aid him in his struggle – without them, without aspiration and will and faith (for aspiration is a prayer) it would be difficult for him to get anywhere. But all these things are merely means for setting the Divine Force in action – and it sometimes takes long, very long even, before the forces come into action or at least before they are seen to be in action or bear their result. The ecstasist is not altogether wrong even when he overstates his case. Even the overstatements sometimes help to convince the Cosmic Power, so that it says “Oh well, if it is like that, all right – tathāstu.”

 

February 1935

I don’t find it a noble voice at all, it is the voice of the usual defeatist suggester using any and every reasoning to instil weakness, flight and self-destruction. There is no strong reasoning either, it is the usual round of sophistries always the same and repeated to every sadhak in turn. “Give up, give up, give up! run, run, run! die, die, say die, say die.” That is always the substance of it, the rest is only skin and shell to give it a good presentation. I don’t reason with the creature; you may reason like Socrates and be as convincing as the Buddha, but after a little it will soon come back and sing the same song over again. It pretends to reason, but does not care a damn for utter truth or reason – I know too well the ways of the fellow – I have paid heavily to know. In my own sadhana I have heard his chant of death a million times and several hundreds of times from this or that sadhak. So I simply refuse to listen to him and I advise you to do the same.

Neurasthenia90 in the sense it is now given is not nervous debility – that is an antiquated definition. Nervous debility is a special thing, an illness of the physical nervous; – neurasthenia proper is a weakness of the vital nervous. One may be as strong as a bull and hardy as an evergreen, yet have neurasthenia. Its mark is depression, gloom, reiteration of melancholy slogans, broodings on darkness, death, despair. The bull indulges in a sorrowful lowing; the evergreen moans “Sunshine? sunshine? it is a fable – there is only cloud, mist, rain and tears!” That’s neurasthenia! Of course there are other and more exaggerated forms, but those are not in question. One can get rid of this kind, if the will is determined to do so.

All this insistence on grandeur and majesty makes me remember Shakespeare’s remarks – the greatness that is thrust on one. I am unaware, as of grimness, so of any stiff majesty or pompous grandeur – the state of peace, wideness, universality I feel is perfectly easy, simple, natural, dégagé, more like a robe of ease than any imperial purple. Between Nirod’s palpitating testimony to my grandeur and your melancholy testimony to my majesty – it appears I sit like the Himalayas and am as remote as the stratosphere – I begin to wonder whether it is so and how the devil I manage to do the trick. Unconscious hypnotism? No, for I begin to feel not like the juggler but like the little boy who has to climb his rope and perch there in a perilous and uncomfortable elevation and it seems to be rather a self-hypnotism by the spectators of the show. All the same it was a relief to find someone writing of a beautiful and “loving” darshan and others who describe it in a similar tone. From which I conclude that the quality of the object lies in the eye of the seer – nānā munir nānā mat [many sages, many views].

Evidently what you need is a dose of supramental sunshine. I hope to have the article one day in a liquid and portable form with which to anoint you. Till then you must wait, I suppose, and instead of listening to Strong Reasoner and Co. write poems like the last ones and dream in your meditations of Krishna’s dance and flute. That is the best way to bring him near you.

 

February 1935

The mistake was an old obstinate suggestion returning so as to bring about the old reactions which have to be got over. It is your old error of the greatness and “grimness” of God, Supramental, etc. which was used to bring back the wrong ideas and the gloom. All this talk about grimness and sternness is sheer rot – you will excuse me for the expression, but there is no other that is adequate. The only truth about it is that I am not demonstrative or expansive in public – but I never was. Nevinson seeing me presiding at the Surat Nationalist Conference – which was not a joke and other people were as serious as myself – spoke of me as that most politically dangerous of men, “the man who never smiles” which made people who knew me smile very much. You seem to have somewhere in you a Nevinson impression of me. Or perhaps you agree with Shanta91 who wrote demanding of me why I smiled only with the lips and complained that it was not a satisfactory smile like the Mother’s. All the same, whatever I may have said to Jyotirmayi or Jyotirmayi may have said to you, I have always given a large place to mirth and laughter and my letters in that style are only the natural outflow of my personality. I have never been “grim” in my life – that is the Stalin-Mussolini style, it is not mine; the only trait I share with the “grim” people is obstinacy in following out my aim in life but I do it quietly and simply and have always done. Don’t set upon me gloomy imaginations and take them for the real Aurobindo.

By the way, if you get such imaginations like the Narasimha Hiranyakashipu92 one, I shall begin to think that the Overmind has got hold of you also. I don’t know the gentleman (Narasimha) personally but only by hearsay; if he was there I certainly did not recognise him. I always thought of him as a symbol – or perhaps a divinised Neanderthal man who went for Hiranyakashipu (whoever H. was) and cut him open in the true Neanderthal way! For myself I was sitting there very quiet and as pacific as anybody at Geneva itself – more so in fact and receiving the stream of people with much inner amiability and outwardly, a frequent “lip-smile” – so where the deuce was room for Narasimha there? Besides it seems to me that I have long overpassed the man-beast stage of evolution – perhaps I flatter myself? – so again why Narasimha. At the most there may have been some Power behind me guarding against the stream of “grim” difficulties – really grim these – which had been cropping up down to the Darshan eve. If so, it was not part of myself nor was I identified with it. So exit Narasimha.

I hope the sex-thoughts will take their exit too. As for gestures, etc., I have told you repeatedly that I – and, I may add the Overmind – are not responsible for what any sadhak may do in that line. It is their own method or fancy or whatever you like to call it – any more than I am responsible for Meher Baba’s93 state or Mahatma Gandhi’s Monday silence. These are aids to silence which I do not use myself – if anybody wants to use them, why not, let him do so! Nobody is obliged to imitate. It is no result of the Overmind. The Mother has the Overmind as much as anybody – she has never been obliged by it to stop all speaking. In the overmental state one can speak or be silent at will – there is no such “grim” obligation as you fondly imagine. I assure you the Overmind can quite accommodate with speech and laughter.

 

February 1935 (?)

All that you say only amounts – on the general issue – to the fact that this is a world of slow evolution in which man has emerged out of the beast and is still not out of it, light out of darkness, a higher consciousness out of first a dead and then a struggling and troubled unconsciousness. A spiritual consciousness is emerging and it is through this spiritual consciousness that one can meet the Divine. Religions, full of mental and vital, mixed, troubled and ignorant stuff, can only get glimpses of the Divine; positivist reason with its questioning based upon things as they are and refusing to believe in anything that may or will be cannot get any vision of it at all. The spiritual is a new consciousness that has to evolve and has been evolving. It is quite natural that at first and for a long time only a few should get the full light, while a greater number but still only a few compared with the mass of humanity should get it partially. But what has been gained by the few can at a stage of the evolution be completed and more generalised and that is the attempt which we make. But if this greater consciousness of light, peace and joy is to be gained, it cannot be by questioning and scepticism which can only fall back on what is and say: “It is impossible, impossible – what has not been in the past cannot be in the future; what is so imperfectly realised as yet, can never be better realised in the future.” A faith, a will, or at least a persistent demand and aspiration are needed – a feeling that with this and this alone I can be satisfied and a push towards it that will not cease till it is done. That is why a spirit of denial and scepticism stands in the way, because they stand against the creation of the conditions under which spiritual experience can unroll itself. In the absence of faith and firm will to achieve the Divine has to manifest in conditions which are the most adverse to that manifestation. It can be done, but you cannot expect it to be easily done.

 

February 1935 (?)

I did not at all mean that Krishnaprem himself was used by the hostile forces. These forces can use anything for their purpose by combining it with others to make part of a total suggestion. They can use what is in itself quite harmless or true for a contrary purpose – they can use something the Mother or myself do or say to disturb somebody by putting a certain explanation or interpretation upon it – they can use a spiritual truth like that of surrender to persuade somebody to surrender to themselves as happened in the case of Nalinbehari and others and so on ad infinitum. Krishnaprem’s criticism would have been nothing in itself – it was only a part of a host of small details which put together amounted to a radical questioning or denial of the whole bases of my work in this field. The suggestion was a sort of climax, “Well, here is a mystic, a man of clear vision also, and he finds in spite of his sympathy that the work you find so good is inferior and thin, the work of an Indian trying to write English.” As for his praise of your poetry or music it can be intellectually explained away as the result of a greater sympathy with the substance making him blind to the defects of the poetic form and manner. Others, it would be said, who are genuine literary critics see clearer as to all these “Ashram” poets – and here they would begin to cite all the hostile criticisms or non-appreciation of Anāmi and my own poetry and Arjava’s. That is the way they make a case – and very often a pretty strong case too.

The hostile forces exist and have been known to yogic experience ever since the days of the Veda and Zoroaster in Asia (and the mysteries of Egypt and Chaldea and the Cabbala) and in Europe also from old times. These things, of course, cannot be felt or known so long as one lives in the ordinary mind and its ideas and perceptions; for there, there are only two categories of influences recognisable, the ideas and feelings and actions of oneself and others and the play of environment and physical forces. But once one begins to get the inner view of things, it is different. One begins to experience that all is an action of forces, forces of Prakriti psychological as well as physical, which play upon our nature – and these are conscious forces or are supported by a consciousness or consciousnesses behind. One is in the midst of a big universal working and it is impossible any longer to explain everything as the result of one’s own sole and independent personality. You yourself have at one time written that your crises of despair etc. came upon you as if thrown on you and worked themselves out without your being able to determine or put an end to them. That means an action of universal forces and not merely an independent action of your own personality, though it is something in your nature of which they make use. But you are not conscious, and others also, of this intervention and pressure at its source for the reason I state. Those in the Ashram who have developed the inner view of things on the vital plane94 have plenty of experience of the hostile forces. However, you need not personally concern yourself with them so long as they remain incognito.

Yes, I gave force to Nishikanta, but as I wrote I did not include him because he is new and emergent.

I am glad of your resolution – it is absolutely essential to keep it so that you may win through this long established difficulty and barrier.

 

February 2, 1935

I have received Rs.240 rent for the other house (I don’t know why he insured for Rs.270). I deposit the same as well [as?] Rs.300 from the bank with Amrita.

The bank balance is low. And this tenant sends an estimate for Rs.570 for repairs! How to reduce it? If it can’t be reduced, well, it will be difficult to offer Rs.300 even next two months – which I hope Mother will excuse since it is not my “fault”. However let Mother see the estimate and suggest how to reduce it. This is a very good [several words missing] very honest and he offers to do the repairs as we order him to do it.

I don’t send you anymore translation now as I didn’t get any corrected from you this morning. If I get some back by tomorrow morning I will send a page more, if you want that is. Otherwise I will leave you in comparative peace – except asking you to send me some force: I was working hard – but in compunction I tried a lot of meditation for the past two days and slept so much that I feel a sinner. No more sins if you please. That is why I ask you to send me a little stimulant force – not soporific I pray, what I dislike most is sleep – though it is said the yogi’s sleep is as good as non-yogi’s wakefulness, yā niśā sarvabhūtānāṃ tasyām jāgarti saṃyamī, etc. [What is night to all beings there is awake the self-controlled (Gita 2.69)]. At least I don’t want my yogic days to be equal to the nights of the non-yogis. Truly, it is a great problem you know (joking apart!) how to meditate when it is so uninteresting and sleep-productive?

It is impossible to suggest anything about the repairs. It is only Chandulal95 who could do it, but he does not know, naturally, the price of materials, etc. in Calcutta or the exact nature of the repairs that are necessary – without which knowledge no alternative estimate is feasible.

I seem somehow to have forgotten to give the Mother the envelope containing the corrected typescripts this morning. I send it now.

The Yogic sleep is good only when it is Yogic enough to contain something, to be an inner consciousness or an experience of other planes. The jāgarti is important – to be conscious in the sleep, an inner waking. But when the mind is not accustomed, it tends to respond to the impulse towards this “going inside” into an inner consciousness caused by meditation by simply falling into the usual sleep to which it is accustomed. Nidrā [sleep] is one of the recognised difficulties of Yoga – nidrā refusing to turn into samādhi, whether svapna samādhi or suṣupti. So the force is necessary and I will try to send it. I only wish people would give me more time for this inner work both for myself and them! But that seems past hoping for.

 

February 4, 1935

Voilà, je m’en réjouis [There, I am delighted]. See back!! Tagore promises. I had written to him a thundering letter: “Your life or the preface” sort of browbeating – the bluff worked. He is terrified into prefacing.

Truly I am very glad. I wired to Tagore and Saratchandra to-day exultantly. I have been receiving some firm letters of encomium on my novel, poetry, etc. – from strangers and yesterday from a notable connoisseur savant. A short postcard from a rising (truly good) poet I enclose. Also the well known poet Jatin Bagchi as well as Prabodh Sen write to me that there was no chhandapatan [break in rhythm] in jāgto nā pipāsā [if the thirst had not awakened in you] which is a triumph. Everywhere except in Krishna-quest. But attendons [let us wait] – He may have something up his sleeve. Qui sait? [who knows?] What?

Very good indeed. As for Krishna, I don’t know whether he wears sleeves, but I am sure he has much up them or else up somewhere waiting for you.

But sorry no chance for translation tonight. [Corpus holed?] under paper. Yadi ([?] correspondence) jāgto nā pipāsā!

 

February 6, 1935

You are truly very kind to suggest no stoppage even while the correspondence is stopped. Believe me I am truly grateful for such kindnesses on your part which have done not a little to endear you to me. I repeat also – taking this occasion – that I am very eager to be more grateful to you and the Divine force – only not in pure blindness if you please. (Don’t trouble to reply though to me, I am very unwilling to make you spend your time over such things. You have done enough for me in that direction.) But this Nalineshwar has been on my mind considerably of late, so I had better tell you my trouble in this connection, which will illustrate incidentally my scepticism of the Divine Force doing wonders on the body. (By the way Sahana says repeatedly her health has got from bad to worse during the last two years, Venkata’s eyes ditto, my neck ditto – the pain is truly troublesome, do send some force if you can. I don’t like to trouble you about my body, you having enough to do with my mind, but apropos my eyes too are worse – the spectacles don’t fit and are giving an appreciable trouble or rather beginning to give. Can you send any force? I am willing to try to believe à la Dayakar96, remain passive – I am not so foolish and irrational as not to avail myself of any kindly force because of my mental reservations. But then Mother’s own eyesight is not perfect – she has to put on spectacles which has fortified not a little my scepticism of the Divine Force acting on the eye. If she with her supramental receptivity can’t cure her eyesight, what chance have we? that is the line of our despair.) But to Nalineshwar: here is a fellow who stayed here about eight years. I knew him well once. Talked decently. Now he has distinctly deteriorated conversationally anyway: talks (demonstrably) foolishly. But his auguries were perfect: 1) he had lately become anti-social, 2) anti-eating, took very little, 3) yogically delicate as a result, is so weak that he can’t raise a small suitcase, Kanai told me.

What an ass!

4) is anti-women, anti-sex – capital!

Humbug, you mean!

Rubbish! He was as attached to his wife as a limpet to the rock. That nonsense won’t go down with me, whatever he might pretend to others.

(What more does the Divine expect for perfection?) 5) anti-laughter, 6) anti-vivacity, 7) and last but not least, pro-meditation.

What kind of meditation – fighting devils in Kalighat? This is all I know about his meditation. Of course he may have been seeing heaven as well as forthcoming hell but he never gave me the benefit of his experiences. If he confided in you perhaps you could tell me what they were. It is not by outward things like these that a man becomes a Yogi, but by inward growth and change of consciousness. [?]

Still, eight years of Yoga have passed over him with a great output of hirsute potentialities – the only thing [impressing about?] him. But truly the fellow was here away from his people and meditating all the while, yet you could do nothing [?].

I didn’t try, so far as I am aware.

I assume he is not in a capital condition – here of course I am open to correction for if you say he is getting on marvellously of course all my scepticism will be knocked off (logically) that one could put one’s finger on and a lot undesirable one could put one’s finger on, chief of which is his foolish rambling talk of which I could give you heaps of échantillons [samples]. He had, it seems to us, fulfilled a good many of the most difficult conditions anyway – as Kanai too was wondering and saying if after all this they say that he was doing nothing then he would not know where we stood any of us! Rightly, for here we laugh, have tea, tasty vegetable dishes occasionally, do a lot of talking (though alas I have become too busy of late to talk much) so if Nalineshwar’s yogic conditions (anti-social, anti-laughter, anti-food, etc. to say nothing of anti-sex to the point of misogyny) availed not – couldn’t be briefer than this – but send me a little neck-ular and ocular force anyhow. I will try to be as [?] as a Dayakar if not quite as enthusiastic as a Nirod who now says that your physical forces are doing [havocs?] of wonder. He swears all the time by Dayakar and is starting on [Rishabhchand?] again!

But what about Venkata, Sahana, Dilip and so many others?

But who told Nalineshwar to be all these things? He has done what he pleased according to his own stupid brain without taking me into confidence. The first thing I tell people when they want not to eat or sleep is that no Yoga can be done without sufficient food and sleep (see the Gita on this point). This is not Gandhi’s Ashram or a miracle-shop. Fasting and sleeplessness make the nerves morbid and excited and weaken the brain and lead to delusions and fantasies. The Gita says Yoga is not for one who eats too much or sleeps too much, neither is it for one who does not eat or does not sleep, but if one eats and sleeps suitably – yuktāhāri yuktanidraḥ, then one can do it best. It is the same with everything else. How often have I said that excessive retreat was suspect to me and that to do nothing but meditate was a lopsided and therefore unsound sadhana. Yet you cite Nalineshwar who goes against all my recommendations, as one who best fulfilled all the conditions of success in the Yoga. Everybody in the Ashram persists in putting the old ascetic ideas of Yoga on this sadhana and then challenges me with his notions as if they were mine.

As for the Force, I shall write some other time. I have told you that it is not always efficacious, but works under conditions like all forces; it is only the supramental Force that works absolutely, because it creates its own conditions. But the Force I am using is a Force that has to work under the present world conditions. It is not the less a Force for that. I have cured myself of all illnesses except three by it and those too when they come I have kept in check; the fact that I have not succeeded yet in eliminating the fact or possibility of those three does not cancel the fact of my success with the others. As for the Mother, she used formerly to cure everything at once by the same Power – now she has no time to think about her body or to concentrate on it. Even so, when she makes a certain inner concentration, she can see, read, etc., perfectly well without glasses, but she has no time to work out the probability which that shows. The prevalence of illness just now is a fact; it is part of the struggle that is going on in the domain of Matter. But even so there are plenty of people in the Ashram who get rid of their ills by reliance on the Mother. If all cannot do it, what does that prove or disprove? It only proves that the Power does not work absolutely, miraculously, impossibly, but it works by certain given means and under conditions. I have always said that, so what is there that is new or that annihilates the truth of the Yoga?

 

February 1935

No translation again today. I shall make up in the days to follow when the correspondence is closed in view of the Darshan (that need not interfere with you at all.) Of course I was not serious in my naṣtāmi [wickedness] [?] my burlesque derivation (throwing one’s wife into the water = ābdār [indulgent request, cajoling].) That was only a little gambol on the head of Girija. I shall see also whether I can explain what I mean by Force (the one which I refer to being neither supramental nor omnipotent nor guaranteed to work like Beecham’s pills in every case) and how it acts and in what conditions. I have tried it in hundreds of cases besides Dayakar’s (on my own body first and [daily?]) and I have no doubt of its reality or efficacy under these conditions. However, of that on some later date.

 

February 6, 1935

I shall certainly do my utmost to help you in the days just coming to achieve this object and answer to your appeal. If I asked you to take another attitude, it was because I felt that the difficulties – restless doubt in the mind and the habit of vital depression would be then more easy to overcome. But since it is impossible, I must try to get in the experience through all the barriers. It is difficult when the mind is dull or restless under the pressure of effort, but it can arrive.

I cannot write more because it is already 6 o’clock after a terribly heavy night. But words are not what is wanted and from today I shall at least have a little time to do necessary things.

 

February 9, 1935

Anilkumar has reported Mother’s observation correctly, but he does not seem to have understood it. The Mother never meant that by merely willing one could know at once what was in someone else or that all one’s impressions about him would be spontaneously and infallibly correct. What she meant was that there is a faculty or power (an occult or yogic faculty) by which one may get the right perceptions and impressions, and if one has the will to do so, one can develop it. Not at once, not by an easy method – tra la la and there you are: it may take years and one has to be careful and scrupulous about it. For these are intuitive perceptions and intuition is a thing that can easily be imitated by many other movements of consciousness that are much more fallible. Your impressions may be mental or vital and a mental or vital impression may have something to justify it or may not – but even in the first case there is no certainty at all that it will be correct; even if it seems the same thing, it may be incorrectly caught or caught with much mixture of error, twisted into falsehood, put in the wrong way, etc., etc. And there may be no justification at all; it may be a mere wrong formation of your own mind or vital or of somebody else’s wrong impression conveyed to you and accepted by you as your own. Your impressions may be the result of a want of affinity between you and the other person, so that if he impresses you as null and neutral, it is because you cannot feel what is in him, it does not come home to you, or if you feel that he is in a wrong condition, it may be only because his vital vibrations rub yours the wrong way. There are lots of things like that which one must have the power to distinguish very carefully and exactly; until one knows one’s own consciousness and its operations well, one cannot know the operations of the consciousness of others. But it is possible to develop a certain direct sight or a certain direct feeling or contact by which one can know – only after much time and much careful, scrupulous and vigilant observation and self-training. Till then one can’t go about saying that this is an advanced Sadhak or that one is not advanced and that other is no good at all. Even if one knows, it is not necessary always to air one’s knowledge.

 

February 10, 1935

(...) these mental conceptions – since all such conceptions are suspect from your Supramental vision. But do you seriously want me to swallow this mountainous absurdity that any man can be made a Krishna or a Sri Aurobindo, any woman a Mother, any Venkataraman a Tyagaraj, any Harin a Tansen, any Manodhar97 a Shakespeare, any Sita98 a Raphael, any Radhananda99 a Vyas or Valmiki. You really want me to swallow this [even?] if I suffocate? If you do I will try to but then you mustn’t blame me if I do suffocate in the end. Agreed? For your logical proposition “Everything is possible” reduces all human experience to look so hopeless, so childish, and so frightening for a poor – Dilip – who finds it so difficult to believe that any amount of Divine Grace will make a Haradhan100 into a Sri Aurobindo or a Rani101 into a Sri Mira. Is it for this preconception that the Divine Grace will shun me like one past all hope? I am not joking. I mean it. All mental conceptions must go! This too? It is urged, thanks to your logic, that with the Supramental descent every sadhak here will become greater than Krishna since Krishna was – pooh-pooh, an Overmental pigmy god compared with what supramentalized Haradhan will be. Logic irrefutable. But – O tears! flow! flow!

I have never said any of all these things. These egoistic terms are not those in which I think – any more than these egoistic ambitions even are those in which my vital moves. It is a higher Truth I seek, whether it makes men greater or not is not the question but whether it will give them truth and peace and light to live in and make life something better than a struggle with ignorance and falsehood and pain and strife. Then even if they are less great than the men of the past, my object would have been achieved. For me mental conceptions cannot be the end of all things. I know that the supermind is a truth.

You do not seem to have followed the sense of my reasoning very well – perhaps because I clothe my arguments with Nirod in a tone of humour. You have taken my humorous comment about Muthu with a particular seriousness – if you really are not joking: but I suppose you are in spite of your disclaimer.

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 – I feel it overseeing 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 there 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. If human reason regards me as a fool for trying to do what Krishna did not try, I do not in the least care. There is no question of Haradhan or Rani or anybody else in that. 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 – I 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.

(This is not to be circulated.)

 

February 10, 1935

My reason for wanting you to get rid of the mental concepts is that they are rigid and keep you tied to the idea and feeling of your incapacity and the impossibility of the sadhana. Get rid of that and a great obstacle disappears.

You could then see that there is no reason for the constant sense of grief and despair that reacts upon your efforts and makes it sterile. I simply want you to put yourself, if it is possible, in that state of quietude and openness which is favourable to the higher consciousness and its action; if it is not possible at present, I have still said that I will do my utmost to help you to the experience. That does not mean that the utmost has been yet done or that it can be done in a few days. But (although people are not giving me the freedom of mind and disposal of time which I had asked for), it will be done.

I am glad you have got Tagore’s foreword, although – but one must not look a gift-horse in the mouth. I regret I can’t send you anything of the translation today. People seem to have chosen these days and especially this Sunday for pouring things on me in spite of the notice. I am doing everything today including the writing of this note in a great hurry and under much pressure.

I did not mean that anyone here could replace or equal myself and the Mother; much less the persons you name – or the actual Muthu equal the actual Ramakrishna. But certainly it is possible for X and Y and Z (I won’t repeat the names) to change, to throw off their present perversities or limitations and come nearer to us than they are now – if they have the sincere will and make the endeavour. I have explained my meaning to Nirod – so I do not repeat it here. Of course in my writing to Nirod, there is a certain note of persiflage and humorous insistence of which you must take account if you want to get the exact measure of my reasoning and its significance...102 [incomplete]

 

February 22, 1935

I was indeed delighted by your generous praise with which I felt your response came in part. As a result I dashed off two poems in no time. Here they are. You will easily read between the lines – knowing my habit of eternal wail – poetic, attitudinising and what not. My spirits have risen while writing this. It is strange how a vocal attempt fortifies this silent sorrow! But it does nevertheless.

As for the metre I am glad too. This is a difficult metre (as rightly says Prabodh Sen) to write in but very easy to read. It has a peculiar composite lilt made up of the syllabic and quantitative rhythms. None after Satyendranath developed it as Prabodh Sen regretted. But the reason is, he wrote, its difficulty, as every foot has to contain only a fixed number of closed and open syllables. Here every foot has got one closed and three open syllables. But its lilt is new (...)

What you say about the spontaneous development of the capacity in the metre after a silent and inactive incubation of over two years, is quite true. But it is not amazing; it often happens and is perfectly natural to those who know the laws of the being by observation and experience. In the same way one suddenly finds oneself knowing more of a language or a subject after returning to it subsequent to a short interim without study, problems which had been abandoned as unsolvable solving themselves spontaneously and easily after sleep or when they come up again; knowledge or ideas coming up from within without reading or learning or hearing from others. Sudden efflorescences of capacity, intuitions, welling up of all sorts of things point to the same inner power or inner working. It is what we mean when we speak of the word, knowledge or activity coming out of the silence, of a working behind the veil of which the outer mind is unconscious but which one day bears its results, of the inner manifesting itself in the outer. It makes at once true and practical what sounds only a theory to the uninitiated – the strong distinction made by us between the inner being and the outer consciousness. It is how also unexpected Yogic capacity reveals itself, sometimes no doubt as a result of long and apparently fruitless effort, sometimes as a spontaneous outflowering of what was concealed there all the time or else as a response to a call which had been made but at the time and for long seemed to be without an answer.

 

February 24, 1935

I do not know that I can say anything in defence of my unlovable marbleness – which is also unintentional, for I feel nothing like marble within me. But obviously I can lay no claims to the expansive charm and grace and lovability of a Gandhi or Tagore. For one thing I have never been able to establish cheerful hail-fellow contact with the multitude, even when I was a public leader; I have been always reserved and silent except with the few with whom I was intimate or whom I could meet in private. But my reference to Nevinson and the Conference was only casual; I did not mean that I regard the Darshan as I would a political meeting or a public function. But all the same it is not in the nature of a private interview, I feel it as an occasion on which I am less a social person than a receptacle of a certain Power receiving those who come to me. I receive the sadhaks (not Thompson or others) with a smile however unsatisfactory or invisible to you – but I suppose it becomes naturally a smile of the silence rather than a radiant substitute for cordial and bubbling laughter. Que voulez-vous? I am not Gandhi or Tagore.

All that I really wanted to say was that the inwardness and silence which you feel at the time of Darshan and dislike is not anything grim, stern, ferocious (Narasimha) or even marble. It is absurd to describe it as such when there is nothing in me that has any correspondence with these epithets. What is there is a great quietude, wideness, light and universal or all-containing oneness. To speak of these things as if they were grim, stern, fierce and repellent or stiff and hard is to present not the fact of my nature but a caricature. I never heard before that peace was something grim, wideness repellent, light stern or fierce or oneness hard and stiff like marble. People have come from outside and felt these things, but they have felt not repelled but attracted. Even those who went giddy with the inrush of light or fainted like M., had no other wish but to come back and they did not fly away in terror. Even casual visitors have sometimes felt a great peace and quiet in the atmosphere and wished that they could stay here. So even if the sadhaks feel only a terrifying grimness, I am entitled to suppose that my awareness of myself is not an isolated illusion of mine and to question whether grimness is my real character and a hard and cold greatness my fundamental nature.

I suppose people get a sense of calm and immobility from my appearance. But what is there terrifying in that? Up till now it used to be supposed that this was the usual Yogic poise and that it could soothe and tranquillise. Am I to understand that I have turned it into something fierce and Asuric which terrifies and is fierce, grim and repellent? I find it rather difficult to believe. Or is it that I live too much within and have too much that is unknown and incomprehensible? I have always lived within, and what else could be expected of me? There is something to be manifested and it is only within that it can be found – there is a world struggling to be born and it is only from within that one can find and release it.

 

February 26, 1935

I had no intention of being stiff in that letter. I had to write rapidly and concentrate [on?] what was necessary to say, which was perhaps the cause of your impression. If there was anything too sharp or emphatic it was directed against the forces that are troubling you and certainly not towards you. However, I regret if what I said gave you the impression of stiffness or hurt you in any way.

I do not think the trouble would be lessened by change of place; usually it is not but follows one about. It can only be remedied from within and then it radically disappears.

I must say that this idea which constantly recurs to you that I have no feeling of love or affection for you, only commiseration or an indifferent compassion is totally mistaken. It is a strong and lasting personal relation that I have felt with you ever since we met and even before and it is only that that has been the base of all the outward support, consideration, care and constant helping endeavour which I have always extended towards you and which could not possibly have arisen from any tepid impersonal feeling. On my side that relation is not likely to change ever.

I hope that the headache and exhaustion will pass rapidly and with it this attack of depression. The black rings are often felt when there is an obscuring pressure on the forehead centre. If the japa gave some relief, it is very good; for it ought to have that effect.

 

February 27, 1935

I meant that even before I met you for the first time, I knew of you and felt at once the contact of one with whom I had that relation which declares itself constantly through many lives and followed your career (all that I could hear about it) with a close sympathy and interest. It is a feeling which is never mistaken and gives the impression of one not only close to one but part of one’s existence. The Mother had not heard of you before you came here for the first time, but even on that occasion on seeing you – though without any actual meeting – she had a sympathetic contact. The relation that is so indicated always turns out to be that of those who have been together in the past and were predestined to join again (though the past circumstances may not be known) drawn together by old ties. It was the same inward recognition in you (apart even from the deepest spiritual connection) that brought you. If the outer consciousness does not yet fully realise, it is the crust always created by a new physical birth that prevents it. But the soul knows all the while.

Your poem is very beautiful.

I am aware of the terribly trying period that is upon you as upon us just now, but you must try to stand firmly until we may come through into the sunshine hereafter.

 

March 3, 1935

Well since you have no objection to twins (poetical I mean otherwise the Ashram might be a little too lively – what?) here are two more written this morning. A new lilt. Every foot has three syllables alias five mātrās. I will send these to Prabodh Sen who has been asking to write in “the pretty trisyllabic penta-moraic” svaramātrik. But the lilt and the jovial mood hadn’t come so long. If such a mood lasts I will present you – espérons [let’s hope] – with more twins if you continue your gracious interest. For without that – no inspiration for me – though I have a more vindictive object – I will captivate even the enemies of Dilipism by the irresistible sweetness of such homely prettiness – light and intelligible and airy and liquid and what not. Qu’en dites-vous?

Any number of twins will be welcome – mānasputra of course or mānaskanya103 – physical Rishiputras and Rishikanyas104 are not in demand at present. I hope these will charm the [savage beast?] and soothe according to your intention.

 

March 16, 1935

Just to let you know that I have dissolved our tea-party from today, as I wanted to do more japa and concentration from now in the afternoon too. I did a lot. After that as I sat meditating in the pranam hall I felt a sense of great pain and loneliness all over and the futility of a life without any shred of response from the Divine – a feeling of utter helplessness and impasse. But I kept on to the best of my ability staving off what you call the adverse forces.

I know you are too busy with far more important things than such pains of the likes of us. But in case you find an odd minute or two just see if you can do anything to help me. I don’t say these things in any spirit of complaint. But when one feels as I have been chronically feeling, I find some relief to tell it to a kind soul who is ready to help but can’t because (1) of want of time and of (2) my own recalcitrance to light. As I was reading your Lights on Yoga I was painfully conscious how signally recalcitrant I must be to Mother’s Light!

Want of time does not come in the way as there is no day on which I do not devote some time to thinking of you and concentrating for you. The difficulty lies in the removal of the obstruction in the physical mind, what you feel as the impasse. But it will go if you persevere. I have seen only today, as well as often recently, how what seemed to be denied and impossible for years (bringing about a state of helpless stagnation and hopelessness with disbelief in even the good will or the power of the Divine, the spiritual Force and the Guru) suddenly happens after all and also how those who never had any experience for years get the opening. The difficulty is great and the darkness of the material consciousness is obstinate, but still if one knows how to persist or even how to wait, the light comes.

 

March 19, 1935

I shall try to see about the Riddance tomorrow – but I am not sure about my regularity just now, there are too many hurdles in the way.

About your aunt and uncle I shall see. The force, of course. But in Maya’s case, she had the strong wish to come here and that helps a great deal – even when circumstances and husbands are adverse. It is true that in the other case to which I made allusion there was no help from anywhere and all combined so that what was wanted should not happen, still it happened – but it took me some strenuous years to do it. So by all means let us always give the force a chance.

About Shankar etc. As you see, there are several weak points on our side – e.g. if Esha’s share is only due to her on her coming of age, Shankar can’t be made to disgorge before unless there is a special clause. What we have to be careful about is that nothing is done by which the strength of the strong card – the letter – is weakened. E.g. Maya must do nothing that would be construed as condoning his offence, for then it would lose its value. When Duraiswami105 comes, we shall consult him about these things – for we must know exactly how we stand, even if we adopt a waiting policy and do not take any action.

 

March 21, 1935

I should like to know exactly what Maya wrote from Madras. If she can reproduce it as nearly as possible. He wires as if she had agreed or promised to go back and not stay here. As I wrote it is important that she should do nothing which would imply that she had condoned his offence – for then her legal position (on the strength of the compromising letter) becomes weak or nil – there is only his possible fear of a scandal left. I do not think there is any hurry about wiring. I am keeping the telegram as all that is written, wired, etc. on either side is of importance and must be carefully recorded. We must be cool and careful in all we do.

One thing more. What was the position Maya took when she left – that she was going definitely and would not return? If so, did she make it clear to Shankar? If not, what exactly did she convey to him. It is important to know that.

P.S. I saw Maya’s letter after writing this. It had better wait till I have the above information and can decide what should or should not be written.

 

March 22, 1935

Maya,

I have read your letter, I have written in detail to Dilip about it. So long as you are here Shankar cannot force you to return or do anything against you. If you have the letter in your hands and so long as you do not condone his offence or promise to live or actually live with him as before – which would make the letter useless – he could not force you to return to him even if you were in British India. For the letter is a sufficient ground for your refusal. Everything therefore depends upon your own decision and free choice. But I do not think it is wise to write anything immediately to Shankar – it is better to wait till we have consulted Duraiswami and know precisely what is the exact position you can take with the best chance of his coming to favourable terms with you about your and Esha’s stay here.

 

March 1935 (?)

If Maya has written no more than what she remembers, I do not think she has committed herself, although it would have been better if she had omitted the suggestion that if he changed she might return, because it has given him a hope and encouraged him to press for a change of her decision. Promises he will be always ready to make, but she must know by this time that these promises have no value and that if she went back it would be to the same conditions and the same troubles.

No one can force her to return – with the letter in her hands the husband’s right becomes inoperative – it is a sufficient ground for her electing to live apart. Under French law here in Pondicherry the husband’s right of compulsion does not exist. And the value of the letter remains undiminished so long as she does not live again of her own free will with her husband or does not pledge herself or offer to forgive his offence and resume the old relations. If she does either, then the letter has no further value and she will lose the hold it gives her against him.

Esha is a different matter, but here too I think the letter gives a sufficient ground for her to refuse to leave her under his guardianship. But on this side I have to consult Duraiswami as there are one or two points that are doubtful. In any case there will be before his eyes the fear of a scandal if he uses legal means to claim her and if Maya remains firm and is not affected by anything he may say, he may come to terms here also.

As soon as Duraiswami comes I will get all the questions that rise solved by him. Meanwhile the best is to correspond as little as possible with Shankar as the position is quite definite and clear – sending at most a colourless wire if D. is delayed; he may come for a day this week.

I have not been able to do the page this time – too many preoccupations.

 

March 1935

It is no use waiting for Duraiswami. He is tied up in a whirl of mofussil engagements – owing to the bad times there is no longer work for the lawyers in Madras – is on the move all the time and unable to come here, except for flying visits, in spite of all his efforts. Besides he can say nothing unless he has definite facts to go on. The best is to write at once to Bijoy Chatterji and your uncle of the predestination fame. We must know what there is – apart from Shankar’s statements. Afterwards we can consult Duraiswami and decide what to do. We shall certainly do what we can to get things done with the minimum of trouble, but you know what Shankar is when it is a question of money! Anyhow Maya has cut free – it has taken a little long for the forces to work, but after all not so long as I thought it would take. I hope it may not be necessary for her to have to move from here for [her things?] – but that we shall see after a while as things shape out a little.

 

March 1935

I have put all the circumstances before Duraiswami and here is his answer. It reveals a stupefying state of things as regards the Hindus. It appears what I said about the British law applies to Brahmos and registered marriages, but not to marriages under the Hindu law. Duraiswami says he has known cases in which judges have ordered the wife back to the husband’s house even when the latter’s concubine was living there!! Fortunately, the latter part of his opinion carries more comfort.

It is evident she cannot move legally as the law is against her, but in the situation Shankar also is hampered in doing anything effective. It is a stalemate except for the money which he retains in his possession. We can only await further correspondence and determine accordingly what Maya should do. For the rest I shall see if the unseen forces can do anything effective, they have brought her here, but as per human law, it is not sufficient and something more has to be done.

P.S. Please return Duraiswami’s opinion for filing after you have read it.

 

March 26, 1935

I had written last night a somewhat sad note which on second thoughts I did not send but I send today.

Today after meals I began japa and meditation, etc. of Mother after reading your Lights on Yoga and some lovely poems of Harin (though sometimes too ecstatic for poor Dilip) I fell to wondering whether Yoga was what you claimed: founded on any bed-rock of reality. Suchi’s and Sarala’s106 case lent colour to this trend of thought in me. I was musing whether ecstasies about peace and light, etc. (however valid for the few who can live in such a subjective world of temporary bliss which the hard world of reality wrecks sooner or later as it did with Suchi and Sarala) are worth striving for with so much suffering and straining and seclusion from life, whether in this world created as it is such a citadel of bliss and light, etc., was not, when all was said, at the mercy of what you call the hostile forces and what we see to be the fabric and texture of the world.

Still I repeated Mother’s name and prayed on. I fell asleep, and then suddenly felt keenly conscious and the cycle currents and bhakti and weeping with waves which created almost a dizziness started. Only this time I was not afraid at all. I said again and again: I will surrender to this force of the Mother, if I die, why, I don’t care – but surrender I must unconditionally. And then it continued and deepened and I found a great relief – if not peace exactly – and certainly a sense of gratefulness for Mother’s sending it. What was more remarkable was however that after that, I saw Mother blessing me attending to trivial details of my scarf, etc. very lovingly and listening to my recital of this experience. She then said: Sit quiet and I will concentrate on your inside. So that is that. I need not be more prolix. You and she will understand. Of late I have been feeling very amorphous. This has given me some fresh lease of hope again. Believe me I will be grateful for that, anyway.

I am glad to hear of the experience. The Mother’s remark about concentrating on your inside is perhaps significant; for it is the inner realisation, [ease?], light, etc. that is the fundamental thing to be attained and which sadhana can undoubtedly give. Suchi had already attained to sufficient of it and Sarala also to an unexpected degree – so that what has happened did not come to them with a sense of wreck. Sarala, however affected outwardly, is conscious of an inner calm and of the abiding of the light both for him and her. Is not a thing which can abide like that in one of her emotional and agitated nature a reality as good as anything the outward life can give? And there is much more than that that Yoga can bring – even if the physical life with its transcience and shocks is a field that has still to be conquered.

 

April 5, 1935

Does the man across the Atlantic – but would not that mean America? – really expect an immediate reply? I thought you hinted he was a procrastinator? Well, I had not forgotten him, but I was for one thing much pressed or oppressed with other matters and for another I wanted after all to procrastinate because I have been feeling a strong resistance to this publication of a book of small selections. It seems to me not the thing and not the time. It is a little difficult to explain in a mental form, for the mental reasons are on the surface and can be counter-argued. However, I shall perhaps try to do so on Sunday.

On Sunday also I shall look at the Urvasie107. It is a poem I am not in love with – not that there is not some good poetry in it, but it seems to me as a whole lacking in originality and life. However, I may be mistaken; a writer’s opinions on his productions generally are.

I am again obliged to put off the niṣkṛti from Nishkriti108 till tomorrow as it is 4.30 a.m. and I have not finished my other work. By the way what does this title really mean or refer to – is it a riddance or a deliverance and, in any case, whose from whom or what? It is the occurrence of the word in Shailaja’s prayer that raises this questioning.

 

April 7, 1935

I must remind you of your promise not to yield to sorrow and despair and to face your difficulties with fortitude and patience. Suicide is not only a weak and unmanly evasion, but it is worse than useless since the same misery continues after death intensified in the consciousness which can think of nothing else and one has to come back to earth and face the same difficulties under worse conditions. The Gita has never said that suicide can under any circumstances lead to Nirvana; the death spoken of is a natural or a yogic death with the mind concentrated with faith and absorption in the Divine. I am sure that Ramakrishna also never meant such a thing as that anyone dying under any circumstances would have his last wish satisfied. There is no escape by that kind of exit. I do not know either how you can say that you love me and all the same deliberately decide to deal such a blow to me as your suicide would be. I do not speak of Maya and others to whom you have still some obligations and what it would mean for them. It is also strange that you should think I could be willing to receive your property or any money offered at such a price or ask Duraiswami to aid in such an arrangement. You must have been very much clouded by your fit of despair not to see that. All that apart, I must press on you not to allow these dark attacks with their morbid suggestions to carry you away. If you have the true yearning for the Divine, as you have undoubtedly in your soul, it is not by yielding to vital weakness that you will show it but by persisting, whatever the time and the difficulties, till it is achieved. You have promised to do that and I again recall you to your promise. Nirvana itself cannot be so achieved, but only by rising above all other desires and attachments until one has the supreme liberation and peace. Raman Maharshi himself would tell you that and I suppose you can believe him if you cannot believe me.

It is difficult for me to say anything else since you have told me that no words of mine have any truth or value and that all my experiences also are subjective delusions without any truth or value. I suppose all spiritual or inner experiences can be denounced as merely subjective and delusive. But to the spiritual seeker even the smallest inner experience is a thing of value. I stand for the Truth I hold in me and I would still stand for it even if it had no chance whatever of outward fulfilment in this life. I should go on with it even if all here abandoned and repudiated me and denounced it to the world as a delusion and a folly. I have never disguised from myself the difficulties of what I have undertaken, it is not difficulties or the threat of failure that can deter me.

I hope however that you will get over this attack and see things one day as all the past seekers of the Divine have seen it, viz. that what one seeks is so precious and such a supreme thing that a whole lifetime of effort however arduous or painful is not by any means too much to give to it. I say nothing else since you say that words of encouragement from me can have no value for you. But this at least is a thing that is true and that others whose spiritual experience and greatness cannot be disputed would tell you.

If you have the love for me you speak of – I will say nothing of mine for you, since you do not seem to believe much in it – you will listen to what I say and renew and carry out your promise to go through with your quest to the end with patience and courage.

P.S. One correction. Suchi had not lost interest in life – he was to the last deeply interested in Yoga and life. Only he knew that he could not attain now since his body was old and worn with its seventy five years and the accidents that had overtaken it; he was content to prepare himself so that by passing away in Light he could fulfil hereafter.

 

April 7, 1935

I repeat what I wrote in the morning that the one thing to be seen is whether there is the true yearning for the Divine or, to put it more strongly, whether that is the one thing that really matters to the being. If there is that, then all other considerations become minor or irrelevant; what is happening in the world or how others react to the search for the Divine or how long the search takes. One must be prepared to give one’s whole lifetime and one’s whole self to that and count all well spent for the one only and supreme object. When the Divine is a necessity of the being what is the use of mental questionings as to whether He exists or what he is like, kind or cruel, slow or swift in response, easy to reach or hard to discover. He appears all or any of these things to different seekers, but to all He is the one necessity of their existences. If one finds Him quickly, so much the better; if it takes long, still one has to go on seeking till one finds. One may have hard moments of anguish or despair because the human vital is weak, but still one goes on because the soul insists. But there is no logic in the position that because my need of the Divine is entire and even in six years I have not got him, therefore the proper thing to do is to despair and give up. The logical position is, my need for the Divine is entire, so I must go on till I find Him, however long it may take, whether one year or six or twelve; for if my need is entire and persists always, I cannot fail to arrive. That is the position that is taken by the spiritual seeker and it is the true and natural one. It is no use saying that you are unfit and cannot take it; you have to come to it, if your need is true and entire.

The misery of the world or the activity of the Asuras is also irrelevant. Nobody has ever contended that this is a happy and perfect world, nobody in India at least, or the best possible world or put that forth as a proof of the Divine existence. It is known that it is a world of death, ignorance, suffering and that its pleasures are not enduring. The spiritual seeker takes that not as a disproof of the Divine Existence, but as a greater spur for seeking and finding it out. He may seek it as a means of escape from life and entry into Nirvana or moksha or Goloka, Brahmaloka or Vaikuntha109; he may seek the divine Self and its peace or Ananda behind existence and if he attains to that and is satisfied with it he can move through the world untouched by its vicissitudes and troubles; or he may seek it, as I have done, for the base of a greater and happier life to be brought now or hereafter into the world-existence. But whatever be the aim, the actual state of the world is no argument at all against the seeking for the Divine or the truth of Yoga. Also the accidents of the search, that A. is dead and will attain only in another body or B. is ill or C. misbehaves are side matters altogether. It makes no difference to one’s own entire need of the Divine and the necessity of persevering in one’s seeking till one finds and reaches.

My words about the great secret of sadhana simply pointed out that that was the most effective way if one could get the things done by the Power behind, did not rule out mental effort so long as one could not do that. Ramakrishna’s way of putting it was the image of the baby monkey and baby cat; I have only said the same thing in other words; both are permissible methods, only one is more early effective. Any method sincerely and persistently followed can end by bringing the opening. You yourself chose the method of prayer and japa because you believed in that, and I acquiesced because it does prepare something in the consciousness and, if done with the persistent faith and bhakti, it can open all the doors. Another method is concentration and aspiration in the heart which opens the inner emotional being. Another is the concentration in the head of which I spoke which opens the inner mind or opens the passage through the Brahmarandhra110 to the higher consciousness. These things are no fantastic invention of mine which one can dismiss as a newfangled and untested absurdity; they are recognised methods which have succeeded in thousands of cases and here also there are plenty who have found their effect. But whatever method is used will not bring its effect at once; it must be done persistently, simply, directly till it succeeds. If it is done with a mind of doubt watching it as an experiment to see if it succeeds or if it is continually crossed by a spirit of hasty despondency saying constantly, “You see it is all useless,” then it ought to be obvious that the opening will be very difficult, because there is that clogging it every time there is a pressure or a push to open. That is why I wanted you to get rid of these two things and have harped on that so much, because I know by my own experience and that of others how strongly they can stand in the way of what you seek. For you are not the only one who have been troubled by these two obstacles; most have had to struggle against them. If one can get rid of them in their central action, the removal of their activity in the circumference does not so much matter; for then the opening becomes possible, both to make and to keep and the rest can follow.

The six years of which you speak have been spent by you mainly in struggling with sex and doubt and vital difficulties – many take more than that time about it. What I have been wanting you to do now is to get the right positive attitude within at the centre free from these things. Its basis must be what I have said, “I want the Divine and the Divine only; since I want and need, I shall surely arrive, however long it takes, and till I do, I shall persist and endure with patience and courage.” I do not mean by that that you should have no activity but prayer and concentration; few can do that; but whatever is done should be done in that spirit.

P.S. I did not write by the way, that you should “press on” – I said, we must go on pressing on the obstacle till it is broken.

 

April 9, 1935

It is surely better to seek to right yourself than to let yourself float in the stream of vital despondency and weakness. What do you expect the Mother to answer to such prayers? It is not the soul’s demand or need, but the outcry of vital weakness. Suchi did not pray for death, but for light and progress out of his lower consciousness towards the Truth. Ramana Maharshi whatever his objections to birth in this world, did not pray or seek for death, but for elevation to a height of consciousness for which there is neither birth nor death: he is certainly not so ignorant as to believe that the mere death of the body brings by itself a release; if he were, he would not have taken the trouble to go through so prolonged and intense a tapasya. If a way out is wanted, that is the only way out and there is no other.

 

April 10, 1935

The Mother has been considering what you have written in your letter about leaving the Trésor and finding another place for you. It is impossible to ask Sarala to move; and as the accommodation now is to find a combination by which you can have what you want is not at all easy, she does not see the way. But it has occurred to her that she might rent Chandrashekhar’s house, which he has given up, and make some arrangements there (electric, etc.) which will give you the solitude you want. Mother will see you at 1 o’clock tomorrow, Thursday.

I trust all will be well and remain well and turn towards happiness and light.

 

April 12, 1935

Mother,

Will you be so good as to ask Chandulal to be a little prompt. I feel suddenly a new enthusiasm – after a long time and want to do hours of japa, prayer, etc. to you for your love and in a sort of secure seclusion in that room. I want to do as much as I can to get an opening to you and I want your especial force. I want your especial aid to be as patient as you want to try some austerities in my day concentration so that I may not be discouraged (as I always am after a spell of strenuous effort) by my meditation, etc. not yielding results. I want to do all this for real concrete surrender to you and I feel if I really try now while this enthusiasm is burning I may get something. In any case I sincerely want to try and don’t want to weep in future if I fail this time. But let me try with your and Sri Aurobindo’s special blessing. But that cloison111 is badly needed and please ask Chandulal to do it tomorrow if possible. If not well tant pis – but I will still try in Arjava’s former room then.

You are asking for an impossible speed – I mean about the cloison. The work is begun and going on, but it needs a little more time to be ready. However, Mother is asking Chandulal to hurry it up as much as possible.

Not to get discouraged when there is no immediate result is very important – for then the force within sinks and when the force within sinks there is the tapo-bhanga112 of which the old Rishis were always complaining, for each time the tapas broke they had to start afresh till it was reconstructed.

Tonight, I think I shall have time for work on the Nishkriti. I have in fact started making minor improvements and marking the passages where the style is deficient and the inspiration for the right change does not immediately come. I shall also look at the Translator’s note and see what has to be done.

P.S. The Mother has just seen in Chandulal’s report that the cloison will be ready and put in on Tuesday.

P.P.S. Gone through a lot of Deliverance, one-third – shall finish preliminary [?] which I will send chapter by chapter for typist.

 

April 14, 1935

I think you are quite right in what you wrote this afternoon towards the end of your letter and I thank you for pointing it out to me. In fact I had long since ceased to write or say anything about the quarrels of the sadhaks and I do not very well know why I stumbled into it here – the force of old habit, I suppose. I shall try to intervene as little as possible in these things and any others that belong to the same plane. There is only one thing needful, to turn to the Divine alone and to realise and I shall concentrate on doing what I can to help people to that end. The rest lies with what rules from behind the veil.

I am sorry I have not been able to proceed with the “Deliverance” these two days – the circumstances have not been favourable. If I can get some free time as on Friday on two or three nights, I shall be able to finish the book, I believe, and after that it will be only a final reading chapter by chapter to assure myself that nothing has escaped notice.

 

April 16, 1935

I have always told you that you ought not to stop your poetry and similar activities. It is a mistake to do so out of asceticism or with the idea of tapasya. One can stop these things when they drop of themselves, because one is in full experience and so interested in one’s inner life that one has no energy to spare for the rest. Even then, there is no rule for giving up; for there is no reason why the poetry etc. should not be a part of sadhana. The love of applause, of fame, the ego-feeling have to be given up, but that can be done without giving up the activity itself. Your vital needs some activity, most vitals do, and to deprive it of its outlet, an outlet that can be helpful and is not harmful, makes it sulky, indifferent and despondent or else inclined to revolt at any moment and throw up the sponge. Without the assent of the vital it is difficult to do sadhana – it non-co-operates, or it watches with a grim, even if silent dissatisfaction ready to express at any moment doubt and denial; or it makes a furious effort and then falls back saying: “I have got nothing.” The mind by itself cannot do much, it must have support from the vital; for that the vital must be in a cheerful and acquiescent state. It has the joy of creation and there is nothing spiritually wrong in creative action. Why deny your vital this joy of outflow?

I had already hinted to you that to be able to wait for the Divine Grace (not in a tamasic spirit, but with a sattwic reliance) was the best course for you. Prayer, yes – but not prayer insisting on immediate fulfilment – but prayer that is itself a communion of the mind and the heart with the Divine and can have the joy and satisfaction of itself, trusting for fulfilment by the Divine in His own time. Meditation? Yes, but your meditation has got into a wrong Āsana, that of an eager and vehement wrestling followed by a bitter despair. It is no use going on with it like that; it is better to drop it till you get a new Āsana. I am referring to the old Rishis who established an Āsana, a place and a fixed position, where they would sit till they got siddhi – but if the Āsana got successfully disturbed by wrong forces (Asuras, Apsaras, etc.), they left it and sought for a new one. Moreover, your meditation is lacking in quietude, you meditate with a striving mind – but it is in the quiet mind that the experience comes, as all Yogis agree – the still water that reflects rightly the sun. Your vital besides is afraid of quietude and emptiness, and that is because, probably, the strife and effort in you make what comes of them something neutral or desert, while they should be a restful quietude and an emptiness giving the sense of peace, purity or silence, the cup made empty so that the soma-rasa113 of the spirit may be poured in it. That is why I would like you to desist from these too strenuous efforts and go on quietly, praying and meditating if you like but tranquilly without strain and too vehement striving, letting the prayer and meditation (not too much of the latter) prepare the mind and heart till things begin to flow into them in a spontaneous current when all is ready.

 

April 16, 1935

I wrote what I wrote because you asked me whether that was the thing to do and I have often told you that it is, so I said so again. However, as you do not accept it, it can be thrown into the W.P.B. and forgotten there.

I did not say that meditation was congenitally impossible to you. I simply said that your meditation up to the present had certain elements which stand in the way of successful meditation and must take another position before it can lead to the opening – that is a thing that happens to many sadhaks before they get into the right movement and it does not prove that they are congenitally incapable of sadhana.

It is perfectly true that all human greatness and fame and achievement are nothing before the greatness of the Infinite and Eternal. There are two possible deductions from that, first, that all human action has to be renounced and one should go into a cave; the other is that one should grow out of ego so that the activities of the nature may become one day consciously an action of the Infinite and Eternal. But it does not follow that one must or can grow out of ego and the vital absorption at once and, if one does not, that proves incapacity for Yoga. I myself never gave up poetry or other creative human activities out of tapasya – they fell into a subordinate position because the inner life became stronger and stronger slowly – nor did I really drop them, only I had so heavy a work laid upon me that I could not find time to go on. But it took me years and years to get the ego out of them or the vital absorption, but I never heard anybody say and it never occurred to me that that was a proof that I was not born for the Yoga. These doctrines still sound strange to me. I should also be very glad to know of the swift and easy method of Yoga by which all that can be done in a few years – or else not at all, for that seems to be your alternative. What I see in this Ashram is that people catch hold of something said or written by the Mother, give it an interpretation other than or far beyond its true meaning and deduce from it a crudely extreme logical conclusion which is quite contrary to our knowledge and experience. If we protest against these crude ideas being put upon us, the “disciples” cling to their own deductions and delusions and push aside our protests as inconsistent with what we have once said, insincere or unintelligible. The Mother has long ago given up trying to correct these things, for she finds that they do not listen to her but to something in their own minds, which they follow and announce as hers. I still sometimes try, but with no great success. As for the logical conclusion drawn – well! It is natural, I suppose, and part of the game. It is much easier to come to vehement ample logical conclusions than to look at the truth as it is many-sided and whole.

As to the born Yogi, what I said was that there was a born yogi in you, and I very explicitly based it on the personality that showed itself in your earlier experiences in a vivid way which no one accustomed to the things of Yoga or having any knowledge about them could fail to recognise. But I did not mean that there was nothing in you which was not “born Yogic.” Everyone has many personalities in him and many of them are not yogic at all in their propensities. But if one has the will to Yoga, the born Yogi prevails as soon as he gets a chance of manifesting himself through the crust of the mind and vital nature. Only, very often that takes time. One must be prepared to give the time.

Perseverance and discipline are excellent things, but if you want that the first thing is to discipline the fretful vital and to reject perseveringly the hypnotism of the fixed conviction that nothing can be done and nothing will be done. Perseverance and discipline are indeed mighty adjuncts to the Yoga – if that is the arsenic, I have no objection to your applying any amount of it for killing the sheep – whether the sheep be the restlessness of the mind and vital or any other obstacle in the Yoga114.

P.S. I had no time to speak of the poem and I doubt where there is anything useful I can say.

 

April 1935

I was not irritated and I am sorry if my perhaps too vivid expression about the W.P.B. gave you that feeling. Your letter gave me the impression that mine had displeased you and that you interpreted it as a condemnation of yourself as unfit for meditation and consequently for Yoga. That in fact was what you wrote and I had to protest against the imputation of any such idea to me. I also wrote protesting strongly against the idea that I condemned poetry and other things of the kind as inconsistent with Yoga or considered them of no value (as well as the misconception that the Mother disliked music and condemned literature, etc. or I may add, the idea that Mother and I have never suffered and do not know what suffering is). If I felt that I had to repudiate these groundless imaginations with some energy it is because they are constantly recurring in your letters and you make them a sort of food and justification for your depression and despair. It did not mean that I was irritated with you but only that I wanted these constantly reiterated misconceptions to cease. I have no objection to your writing to me what is in your mind, but you on your side must not mind if sometimes in reply I point out what is wrong in the ideas and attitude that you express – for if I do not do that, they will persist and repeat themselves always and stand in the way of your sadhana.

There is no reason why you should go away. The one thing that would justify your going would be if you lost all faith in me and all regard for me and no longer considered me as your Guru. So long as you have the feeling that you express, I do not see why you should leave me.

 

April 17, 1935

(From Mother)

After reading your letter now, just a word to tell you that you are mistaken; I actually missed your presence at pranam and I am sorry you did not come. If you had listened inwardly you would have heard me calling you.

 

April 30, 1935

These poems are quite new in manner – simple and precise and penetrating. What you describe is the psychic fire, agni pāvaka, which burns in the deeper heart and from there is lighted in the mind, the vital and the physical body. In the mind it becomes a light of intuitive perception and discrimination which sees at once what is the true vision or idea and the wrong vision or idea, the true feeling and the wrong feeling, the true movement and the wrong movement. In the vital it becomes a fire of right emotion and a kind of intuitive feeling, a sort of tact which makes for the right impulse, the right action, the right sense of things and reaction to things. In the body it becomes a similar but still more automatic correct response to the things of physical life, sensation, body experience. Usually it is the psychic light in the mind that is first lit of the three, but not always – for sometimes it is the psycho-vital flame that takes precedence.

In ordinary life also there is no doubt an action of the psychic – without it man would be only a thinking and planning animal. But its action there is very much veiled, needing always the mental or vital to express it, usually mixed and not dominant, not unerring therefore; it does often the right thing in the wrong way, is moved by the right feeling but errs as to the application, person, place, circumstance. The psychic, except in a few extraordinary natures, does not get its full chance in the ordinary consciousness; it needs some kind of Yoga or sadhana to come by its own and it is as it emerges more and more “in front” that it gets clear of the mixture. That is to say, its presence becomes directly felt, not only behind and supporting, but filling the frontal consciousness and no longer dependent or dominated by its instruments – mind, vital and body, but dominating them and moulding them into luminosity and teaching them their own true action.

It is less easy to say whether the poems are esoteric; for these words “esoteric” and “exoteric” are rather ill-defined in their significance. One understands the distinction between exoteric and esoteric religion – that is to say, on one side, creed, dogma, mental faith, religious worship and ceremony, religious and moral practice and discipline, on the other an inner seeking piercing beyond the creed and dogma and ceremony or finding their hidden meaning, living deeply within in spiritual and mystic experience. But esoteric poetry? Perhaps what deals in an occult way with the occult may be called esoteric – e.g., the “Bird of Fire,” “Trance,” etc. “The Two Moons”115 is, it is obvious, desperately esoteric. But I don’t know whether an intimate spiritual experience simply and limpidly told without veil or recondite image can be called esoteric – for the word usually brings the sense of something kept back from the ordinary eye, hidden, occult. Is “Nirvana” for instance an esoteric poem? There is no veil or symbol there – it tries to state the experience as precisely and overtly as possible. The experience of the psychic fire and psychic discrimination is an intimate spiritual experience, but it is direct and simple like all psychic things. The poem which expresses it may easily be something deeply inward, esoteric in that sense, but simple, unveiled and clear, not esoteric in the more usual sense. I rather think, however, the term “esoteric poem” is a misnomer and some other phraseology would be more accurate.

 

May 1, 1935

Mother will speak to Nolini, but you might speak to Nolini yourself also, as Mother might forget, there are so many things she has to think about. Pulin has been told to take only the flowers that fall; it did not occur to anybody that he would go up the staircase.

Mother never said Anilkumar was a better painter than Nishikanta, which would be obviously absurd. Mother spoke only about some sketches of the place they had gone to – Anilkumar’s were carefully done, while Nishikanta only put down a few indications, so she preferred Anilkumar’s. But a painter cannot be judged by his sketches – only by his finished work. What extraordinary interpretations are put on casual remarks of the Mother!

The poem is beautiful – there is certainly no apotheosis of [pain?] in it, though that with a little symbol and mystery could easily be made “esoteric.”

Herewith the corrected typescript.

 

May 1935 (?)

... be116 gladdest of all if he were – but I fail to see any signs of the genius yet in him. I say this humbly and open to correction – in fact I would be glad to learn that you and Mother considered him a [born?] painter, that is, a genius. But I want to know whether you really said so. I won’t blab about it – I have no fight left in me – it isn’t worthwhile besides. Still it is good to know – for personal guidance.

Another poem on agni – four in all – a sister (today’s) to yesterday’s. I fear the house itself will be on fire if I encourage so much fieriness? What? In these poems I feel a great power – Nishikanta, Nirod, Kanai and others too feel a great power of concentrated emotion.

Do write on back not here.

I am, by the way, a little too sensitive to power maybe – that is perhaps why I like Nishikanta’s poems (vital?) and painting. I find a familiar friend there – the power I mean. Intuition again of course. But should I distrust it as Leonard Woolf does?

No, Mother did not say that. She said something about what one [who?] has painting in his blood would do and it seems to have been applied to Anilkumar. Anilkumar is still learning; he is very clever and ingenious, loves painting and works hard at it and recently he has been making remarkable progress in technique.

Nishikanta has already his own developed technique and a certain originality of vision – two things which must be there before a man can take risk as a painter. There are on the other hand certain defects and limitations. Power he has but not as yet any consummate harmony.

These observations are of course private and for you only. Mother does not want to pass any public judgment. Let each grow in his own way and to his own possible stature – with as little rivalry or vainglory as may be.

As for intuition – well! One has to make a distinction – if one can – between a pure intuition and a mixed one. A pure intuition carries in it a truth, even if it is only a fragment or point of truth, and can be trusted. A mixed one carries in it some suggestion of truth which gets coated with mental matter – here one has to use discrimination and separate the true suggestion from the less reliable mental matter. Intuition and discrimination must always go together so long as one moves in the mental plane – and for some time after.

P.S. From tonight I have resolved (subject to your approval of course) of meditating, japaing, praying, etc. at night – that is not reading and writing at all at night – doing the work in day time and meditating etc. at night. I am a little cowed at the prospect of sufferings this will involve, but perhaps with your help the sufferings may be a little minimised. I am suffering anyhow. So what do you say? Will you help me a little here or would you rather I didn’t try this meditation which I both love and dread? I want to try once more as the Divine may take pity (though it is highly improbable, I grant) by way of a sort of accident, who knows? Life is queer, sadhana is still more so, in which unexpected things do occasionally happen.

I shall help you of course and I don’t say that the accident can’t happen. But you know why I was not anxious that you should go on with the meditation and japa – because of the background of struggle, wrestling for the result with a strong undercurrent of the expectation of failure that had got itself attached to this method. That was why I [wanted?] you to take the way of psychic preparation instead. But if that background were not there, there could be no objection to the continuance of the meditation.

 

May 5, 1935

I send you the last chapter of “Nishkriti” but keep Raihana’s inspiration for today.

I have made something for the bhadrastha nei – very long, but as you say, what to do? There is no way in English of putting all that into three or four words, without being abrupt and perhaps enigmatic – at least I found none.

 

May 6, 1935

Saurin has written nothing, at least I have received nothing – so it is no use passing a judgment. Of course the argument that one can claim back one’s gifts because one has been unable to give oneself along with them cannot stand. Given is given. But in this case Mother has returned the gift for special reasons connected with Maya’s position, not on any psychological grounds, so there is no need to look farther. Maya herself knows what these reasons are.

P.S. A magnificent poem this one, one of your very best! At once powerful and beautiful. I am sorry I could not attend to Raihana tonight also. Tomorrow night I hope will be more quiet and I shall do it.

 

May 7, 1935

We are very glad to hear that you have had a complete reconciliation with Maya. That is as I wanted it and as it should be.

As for Saurin, well, he has these things but he has a soul in him also and it depends on himself which part prevails over the other.

Anyhow I hope that now we shall be able to put these unpleasant things away from us and rise to calmer and clearer regions – such as the limpid beauty and delicate ether of your tonight’s poem.

Raihana still waits, for tonight was again crowded with letters to write – but as she waits with the light of Golok around her!

 

May 9, 1935

What you say is perfectly correct. The first two of your four points are brought out clearly enough, (but not didactically) in the poem and very beautifully put. The third and fourth as put by you in the letter are more implied than expressed, but the essential idea in them comes out all the same. Of course, the French saying “tout pardonner” does not express so much a personal forgiveness as a general charity which condemns nothing because it understands everything – so that agrees very well with the gist of your poem – which is very beautiful.

 

May 29, 1935

Let us first put aside the quite foreign consideration of what we would do if the union with the Divine brought eternal joylessness, Nirānanda or torture. Such a thing does not exist and to drag it in only clouds the issue. The Divine is ānandamaya and one can seek him for the Ananda he gives; he has also in him many other things and one may seek him for any of them, for peace, for liberation, for knowledge, for power, for anything else to which one may take a fancy. It is quite possible for someone to say: “Let me have Power from the Divine and do His work or His Will and I am satisfied, even if the use of Power entails suffering also.” It is possible to shun bliss as a thing too tremendous or ecstatic and ask only or rather for peace, for liberation, for Nirvana. You speak of self-fulfilment – one may regard the Supreme not as the Divine but as one’s highest Self and seek fulfilment of one’s being in that highest Self; but one need not envisage it as a self of bliss, ecstasy, Ananda – one may envisage it as a self of freedom, vastness, knowledge, tranquillity, strength, calm, perfection – perhaps too calm for a ripple of anything so disturbing as joy to enter. So even if it is for something that one approaches the Divine, it is not a fact that one can approach Him or seek union for the sake of Ananda and nothing else.

That involves something which throws all your reasoning out of gear. For these are aspects of the Divine Nature, powers of it, states of his being – but the Divine Himself is something absolute, someone self-existent, not limited by his aspects – wonderful and ineffable, not existing by them, but they existing because of Him – it follows that if he attracts by his aspects, all the more he can attract by his very absolute selfness which is sweeter, mightier, profounder than any aspect. His peace, rapture, light, freedom, beauty are marvellous and ineffable, because he is himself magically, mysteriously, transcendently marvellous and ineffable. He can then be sought after for his wonderful and ineffable self and not only for the sake of one aspect or another of him. The only thing is first to arrive at a point when the psychic being feels this pull of the Divine in himself and, secondly, to arrive at the point when the mind, vital and everything else begin to feel too that that was what it was wanting and the surface hunt after Ananda or what else was only an excuse for drawing the nature towards that supreme magnet.

Your argument that because we know the union with the Divine will bring Ananda, therefore it must be for the Ananda that we seek the union, is not true and has no force. One who loves a queen may know that if she returns his love it will bring him power, position, riches and yet it need not be for the power, position, riches that he seeks her love. He may love her for herself and could love her equally if she were not a queen; he might have no hope of any return whatever and yet love her, adore her, live for her, die for her simply because she is she. That has happened and men have loved women without any hope of enjoyment or result, loved steadily, passionately after age has come and beauty has gone. Patriots do not love their country only when she is rich, powerful, great and has much to give them; love for country has been most ardent, passionate, absolute when the country was poor, degraded, miserable, having nothing to give but loss, wounds, torture, imprisonment, death as the wages of her service; yet even knowing that they would never see her free, men have lived, served and died for her – for her own sake, not for what she could give. Men have loved Truth for her own sake and for what they could seek or find of her, accepted poverty, persecution, death itself; they have been content even to seek for her always, not finding, and yet never given up the search. That means what? That man, country, Truth and other things beside can be loved for their own sake and not for anything else, not for any circumstance or attendant quality or resulting enjoyment, but for something absolute that is either in them or behind their appearance and circumstance. The Divine is more than a man or woman, a stretch of land or a creed, opinion, discovery or principle. He is the Person beyond all persons, the Home and Country of all souls, the Truth of which truths are only imperfect figures. And can He not then be loved and sought for his own sake, as and more than these have been by men even in their lesser selves and nature?

What your reasoning ignores is what is absolute or tends towards the absolute in man and his seeking as well as in the Divine – something not to be explained by mental reasoning or vital motive. A motive, but a motive of the soul, not of vital desire; a reason not of the mind, but of the self and spirit. An asking too, but the asking that is soul’s inherent aspiration, not a vital longing. That is what comes up when there is the sheer self-giving, when “I seek you for this, I seek you for that” changes to a sheer “I seek you for you”. It is that marvellous and ineffable absolute in the Divine that Krishnaprem means when he says, “Not knowledge nor this nor that, but Krishna.” The pull of that is indeed a categorical imperative, the self in us drawn to the Divine because of the imperative call of its greater Self, the soul ineffably drawn towards the object of its adoration, because it cannot be otherwise, because it is it and He is He. That is all about it.

I have written all that only to explain what we mean ourselves and Krishnaprem and other spiritual seekers, when we speak of seeking the Divine for himself and not for anything else – so far as it is explicable. Explicable or not, it is one of the most dominant facts of spiritual experience. The call to self-giving is only an expression of this fact. But this does not mean that I object to your asking for Ananda. Ask for that by all means, so long as to ask for it is a need of any part of your being – for these are the things that lead on towards the Divine so long as the absolute inner call that is there all the time does not push itself to the surface. But it was really that that was drawing you from the beginning and it is that that is there behind the loneliness and emptiness and need of being filled that you increasingly feel – it is the categorical imperative, the absolute need of the soul for the Divine.

I do not know why you suppose that we should be angry for this or that. If you can feel the Divine in the Guru so much the better, for that is an enormous help, but this is not one of the things that the reasoning mind by itself can see. Meanwhile that you should feel more and more need for the Divine in whatever way is so much to the good and we are glad that it should be so. For it is that that should grow until it calls down the response is the one thing needful.

P.S. Don’t misunderstand me. I am not saying that there is to be no Ananda. Why, the self-giving itself is a profound Ananda and what it brings, brings in its wake an inexpressible Ananda – and it brings it sooner than any other method, so that one can say almost, “A self-less self-giving is the best policy.” Only one does not do it out of policy. Ananda is the result, but it is done not for the result, but for the thing itself and for the Divine himself – a subtle distinction, it may seem to the mind, but very real.

 

May 30, 1935

Here is a miracle si vous voulez [if you like]! The Parichay publishing an enthusiastic tribute to Dilip the singer and composer!! I enclose the copy. You need not read all the technicalities, if you don’t feel like it, only read the portion I have selected marked in red pencil.

It is a generous tribute undoubtedly though Dhurjati117 is wrong in opining there is no great difference between me and Tagore. There is and that is fundamental. I stand (whatever my worth) for the Classical style in music viz. that class of music where the singer or executant is a creator at every step in improvisations etc. while Tagore is for fining the cadre of the melody à la European music where the singer, as you know, follows the composer – having no choice. I stand for the free movement in music with all its dangers which are great; Tagore for the safe mediocrity since it is fixed and no liberty is given to the singer to vary the melody.

But truce to technicalities.

What about Raihana? Please –

Working very hard. A little cold today. So read Bhababhuti118.

P.S. Please read Niren’s prose poems. It is against such counterfeits that my gadya & padya [prose and poetry] is directed. Are these not counterfeits? Tell me.

I have not been able yet to go through the whole review – though I shall – but have seen the first two pages and the passages underlined. Well – to Americanise – that is some praise.

Raihana unborn.

Bhababhuti? Didn’t know he was a tonic against cold!

As for Niren’s poems, well, you know my opinion about free verse; I consider that even Whitman and Carpenter have failed to justify the departure. Niren’s achievements do not alter my opinion. But the first two lines or so have the modern epic quality – they transport us to celestial regions.

 

June 2, 1935

But why then did Nishikanta see that blessed vision? What in the name of Supramental Perplexity was its raison d’être? Is it then all a string of accidents or raisings of the subconscient fellow you are up against d’après Nirod? If so then why have people attached so much confounded importance to visions and experiences? Why do I eat my heart out in sorrow (from time to time – thank God, not all the time!) that I am not cut out for visions and experiences. Why do I envy Raihana119 for her seeing the Gopis dance and sing that lovely song? But then even granting all such visions are not even worthwhile discussing why does the sphinx of a Divine shower these on some while to others they are denied? If these visions have no value, if experiences don’t contribute to a change of nature or of the subconscient Enfant Terrible – then O why from times immemorial have the sadhaks and seekers marvelled and marvelled at these?

Visions and experiences (especially experiences) are all right; but you cannot expect every vision to translate itself in a corresponding physical fact. Some do, the majority don’t (I speak of visions only here), others belong to the supraphysical entirely and indicate realities, possibilities or tendencies that have their seat there. How far these will influence the life or realise themselves in it or whether they will do so at all depends upon the nature of the vision, the power in it, sometimes on the will or formative power of the seer. I don’t know what exactly was the nature of Nishikanta’s vision, whether it was of the suggestive or of the positive veridical kind. Farther there was nothing to indicate that it had to do with the answer about Raihana or could realise itself on the spot.

People value visions for one thing because they are one key (there are others) to contact with the other worlds or with the inner worlds and all that is there and these are regions of immense riches which far surpass the physical plane as it is at present. One enters into a larger freer self and a larger more plastic world – of course individual visions only give a contact, not an actual entrance, but the power of vision accompanied with the power of the other subtle senses (hearing, touch, etc.) as it expands does give this entrance. Even if Raihana had not received the song, yet the mere contact with the world of Krishna and the Gopis would have brought her or could at least a joy and an uplifting of the touch of Goloka or of some reproduction of it on the vital plane. These things have not the effect of a mere imagination (as a poet’s or artist’s, though that can be strong enough), but if fully followed out bring a constant growth of the being and the consciousness and its richness of experience and its scope.

People also value the power of vision for a greater reason than that: it can give a first contact with the Divine in his forms and powers120, it can be the opening of a communion with the Divine – of the hearing of the Voice that guides, of the Presence as well as the Image in the heart, of many other things that bring what man seeks through religion or Yoga.

Further, vision is of value because it is often a first key to inner planes of one’s own being (as distinguished from worlds, etc.) and of one’s consciousness. Yoga-experience often begins with some opening of the third eye in the forehead (the centre of vision in the brows) or with some kind of beginning and extension of subtle seeing which may seem unimportant at first, but is the vestibule to deeper experience. Even when it is not that, for one can go to experience directly, it can come in afterwards as a powerful aid to experience; it can be full of indications which help to self-knowledge or knowledge of things or knowledge of people; it can be veridical and lead to prevision, premonition and other things of less importance but very useful to a Yogi.

In short, vision is a great instrument though not absolutely indispensable.

But, as I have suggested, there are visions and visions, just as there are dreams and dreams, and one has to develop discrimination and a sense of values and kinds and know how to understand and make use of these things. But that is too big and intricate a matter to be pursued now.

 

June 6, 1935

The image of the cow is a very good one. The ship is going to the harbour, he should go with the ship – why take exploratory promenades in other directions which may leave him tired out and far away or lost on a reef? To keep to the ship is his last chance. Poetry by itself does not bring to the goal, but it can help as a means to express and deepen one’s aspiration while it gives the vital an activity which can keep it from rusting and maintains its energy. Otherwise it may droop or go dry or sulk or non-cooperate. What will bring towards the goal is the growth of the psychic being, the increase in bhakti, psychic clarity of vision, with regard to one’s inner movements and the will to get rid of the vital ego, increase in pure self-giving. Meditation and the rest can bring only partial results or often no results until there has been a sufficient psychic preparation. Even with those who begin with a flood of experiences because of some mental or vital preparation or past lives whose results happen to be near the surface, these lead to nothing definite till the psychic preparation is made; they often have all their struggle still to go through and some sink with their bag of experiences on the head and a magnified ego on their back. It was this psychic growth that suddenly began in you. Don’t let it stop; for through that lies your way. Once that is done, you can meditate and do everything else that may be needful.

Excuse my being so brief. I am busy with the mud of subconscient earth – dredging, dredging, dredging. And as everything depends on my getting through – well!

 

June 9, 1935

I had begun something about visions of this kind and A.E.’s and other theories but that was a long affair – too long, as it turned out – to finish or even do more than begin. I can only now answer your questions rather briefly.

There is an earth-memory from which one gets or can get things of the past more or less accurately according to the quality of the mind that receives them. But this experience is not explicable on that basis – for the Gopis here are evidently not earthly beings and the place Raihana saw was not a terrestrial locality. If she had got it from the earth-mind at all, it could only be from the world of images created by Vaishnava tradition with perhaps a personal transcription of her own. But this also does not agree with all the details.

It is quite usual for poets and musicians and artists to receive things – they can even be received complete and direct, though oftenest with some working of the individual mind and consequent alteration – from a plane above the physical mind, a vital world of creative art and beauty in which these things are prepared and come down through the fit channel. The musician, poet or artist, if he is conscious, may be quite aware and sensitive of the transmission, even feel or see something of the plane from which it comes. Usually, however, this is in the waking state and the contact is not so vivid as that felt by Raihana.

There are such things as dream inspirations – it is rare, however, that these are of any value. For the dreams of most people are recorded by the subconscient. Either the whole thing is a creation of the subconscient and turns out, if recorded, to be incoherent and lacking in any sense, or, if there is a real communication from a higher plane, marked by a sense of elevation and wonder, it gets transcribed by the subconscient and what that forms is either flat or ludicrous. Moreover, this was seen between sleep and waking – and things so seen are not dreams, but experiences from other planes – either mental or vital or subtle physical or more rarely psychic or higher plane experiences.

In this case it is very possible that she got into some kind of connection with the actual world of Krishna and the Gopis – through the vital. This seems to be indicated first by the sense of extreme rapture and light and beauty and secondly, by the contact with the “Blue Radiance” that was Krishna – that phrase and the expressions she uses have a strong touch of something that was authentic. I say through the vital, because of course it was presented to her in forms and words that her human mind could seize and understand; the original forms of that world would be something that could hardly be seizable by the human sense. The Hindi words of course belong to the transcribing agency. That would not mean that it was a creation of her personal mind, but only a transcription given to her, just within the bounds of what it could seize, even though unfamiliar to her waking consciousness. Once the receptivity of the mind awakened, the rest came to her freely through the channel created by the vision. That her mind did not create the song is confirmed by the fact that it came in Hindi with so much perfection of language and technique.

To anyone familiar with occult phenomena and their analysis, these things will seem perfectly normal and intelligible. The vision-mind in us is part of the inner being, and the inner mind, vital, physical are not bound by the dull and narrow limitations of our outer physical personality and the small scope of the world it lives in. Its scope is vast, extraordinary, full of inexhaustible interest and, as one goes higher, of glory and sweetness and beauty. The difficulty is to get it through the outer human instruments which are so narrow and crippled and unwilling to receive them.

 

June 10, 1935

I sent you this morning Professor Buddhadev Bhattacharya’s letter, if you remember. So it is high time you glanced at my neglected, shelved, weeping, hoping-to-be-glanced-at drama Apad. Really, it deserves a little glancing-at from you written as it is by your inspiration.

And tell me, apropos, do we imagine or is it true that you send us concrete force for such literature too. This suspicion entered my head as I read thro’ Jyoti’s novel. The last part is poignant and strong and throbbing with a force which I would never have suspected her (or even a young male hopeful of Bengal) capable of. Did you supply her this strength consciously or are we building castles in the air in a delectable reverence?

I am thinking of asking my publisher to publish six of her short stories in the form of a book if you agree.

I think there is no objection.

She is eager to dedicate it to you as she fondly believes your force did the trick. But I have my doubts. For though the stories are fine – full of humour and pathos and what not – can one suspect you truly (I mean not vaguely!) of inspiring a story-teller any more than you can inspire a Dilip in writing a drama on Trouble (Apad)?

But do read Apad. Eh?

I am keeping fine and devout. Mother was so sweet.

Yes, of course, I have long been helping Jyotirmayi. Always when somebody really wants to develop the literary power, I put some force to help him or her. If there is faculty and application, however latent the faculty, it always grows under the pressure and can even be turned in this or that direction. Naturally, some are more favourable ādhārs [recipients] than others and grow more decisively and quickly. Others drop-off, not having the necessary power of application. But on the whole it is easy enough to make this faculty grow, for there is co-operation on the part of the recipient and only the tamas of the apravṛttī and aprakāś [inertia and obscurity] in the human instrument to overcome which are not such serious obstacles in the things of the mind as a vital resistance or non-cooperation of the will or idea which confronts one when there is a pressure for change or progress in other directions.

 

June 27, 1935

There can be no objection to your keeping your gratitude and feelings for Ramakrishna. I don’t know what is Krishnaprem’s objection to emotion; it has its place, only it must not be always thrown outward but press inward so as to open fully the psychic doors.

As the poem is long and you ask me to read it at one sitting, I have kept in the hope that tomorrow I may find the needed leisure. If not then on Sunday – for Saturday is usually a desperate proposition.

 

July 1, 1935

Of course, Nishikanta has turned it into poetry and very good poetry; but the clear thought of Lawrence has disappeared and its development is not traceable any longer. The main point of Lawrence is that the metaphysics or philosophy on which the art of an age is built has its curve of developing vision followed by its curve of decline and we are an age of decline with a dead empty metaphysics producing lifeless art and then old values have all to be broken in order that a new metaphysics and a new art founded on a new vision may come. This has not been brought out in a clear and balanced way; we only catch glimpses of it in a rather confused thought sequence.

 

July 10, 1935

I have indeed been very sad last night because they had said that probably twenty out of our thirty songs would be spoilt because of electricity fluctuations. I woke up at 11 p.m. after a dream that I was sobbing at Mother’s feet in great tenderness and love but sadly because I was attached to the prospect of success of my hard endeavour. When I woke up I liked this devotional sobbing business at Mother’s feet (I always do – as everything that makes me conscious of my loyalty to her and you do give me concrete joy and the concrete things I love, you know) but was still sad at the prospect of the records failing after so much effort.

I then realised that though I had persuaded myself that I did not do this singing etc., for fame, it was not wholly true, for I did attach a lot of importance to my hard work (how hard it was you don’t know) being crowned with success. I would not bear the idea of failing in music my forte, after Herculean efforts. I felt humble then and repentant and shed tears. “Why must I care, if I fail?” I said to myself, in the dead of night through my tears, “I should literally, and not theoretically, mean my work as an offering without any attachment to its fruits. If my eventual failure hurts my vanity – for I can’t be sure if the songs have come out well – I should look upon it as Mother’s Grace and I must open myself to be so corrected.” Then and there I felt a lot of relief and prayed to Mother: “Do change this egoist Dilip, if need be hurt me or give me the strong will not to take my hurt in the wrong spirit but in the spirit of opening my weak parts to your light.” I realised then that this sort of movement was the right movement and did help me correctly as it moved my egoistic will in the right direction – to surrender. Am I not right?

Yes. It is the true psychic movement.

I then prayed to you and Mother and told myself that what were visions, experiences, etc. and why should I feel so sorry because I don’t have them. I felt that this sort of hammering at my egoism, etc. and my tremendously powerful egoistic will and my ability to take the blow in the right way was far more needful to my nature than passing visions, experiences, etc. I had strong perceptions about Yoga, I realised de nouveau, and I was thankful that I was feeling more and more grateful for such blows – for I have always been shying at blows to say nothing of gratefulness.

Please read this letter to Mother and if possible write to me a letter hereanent – it need not be long if you have no time. But tell me is this not an important part of my Yoga – or am I deluding myself?

What you say is perfectly correct – I am glad you are becoming so lucid and clear-sighted, the result surely of a psychic change. Ego is a very curious thing and in nothing more than in its way of hiding itself and pretending it is not the ego. It can always hide even behind an aspiration to serve the Mother. The only way of getting rid of it is to chase it out of all its veils and corners.

You are right also in thinking that this is really the most important part of your Yoga. The Rajayogis are right in putting purification in front of everything and a preliminary to successful meditation – as I was also right in putting it in front along with concentration in The Synthesis of Yoga. You have only to look about you to see that experiences and even realisations cannot bring to the goal if this is not done – at any moment they can fall owing to the vital still being impure and full of ego.

I cannot write more, as correspondence is raging, but this is the central gist of the matter.

 

July 20, 1935

I am rather in a fix. Harin came twice to me. The first time at 12.30 when I was working at my novel. He didn’t knock finding my door locked. Then he came at 2.30. He said he had to run a house and this month Mrinalini121 would be sending him less than she did last month so he wants to eke out his income by contributing some poems to the Statesman whose editor Mr. Moore I know and who had once given him some Rs.40 he told me. I said I would gladly help him if I could, so he said he would give me six poems for Mr. Moore. There. But I feel a little uneasy now. If I understand rightly that he has your full consent, etc. in going to that house, I suppose I may help him in this way which costs me nothing. But then he doesn’t give the money to Mother this time, so? What should I do? Of course he may send the poems on his own, but I understood you were against his publishing poems at all just now. Is that true? If it is, then evidently I am in the wrong. But how to back out now? You see, I have always been willing to help all who came my way and so I blurted I would gladly send his poems to Press. It was an impulse born of a long-standing habit – vous comprenez [do you understand]? But Harin’s is I gather a somewhat peculiar case. He is in the Ashram spiritually, yet not in it. He accepts you as his guru yet runs a house after having lived in your house. He was complaining that he was prevented from publishing his poems, and yet now sends (forced to poor fellow, I feel for him, yet it is his own bed he has made and he must sleep there I suppose?) poems for money – to keep body and soul together. He sees all yet does not come to pranam. Is retired, yet goes to theatres. Is in hush yet speaks with Sita three hours and a half daily (he himself told me – from 12.30 to 3.30 daily, good Lord! even in my moony days I could hardly talk for more than an hour at a stretch on romance with qui que ce soit [whomsoever]! And he with his bird-of-paradise silence talks and talks like this after three months of slate-pencil – forgive my frivolity – give the old frivolous Dilip a little latitude at times since he is becoming a desperate reformer of himself – truly – lives like a true hermit now!). The other day he started singing at my place and simply would not stop when I hinted to him more than once to. Still in confidence my Master – must emulate you now in deep secrecy, you know, must make headway in every blessed direction supposed to be spiritual, what?

But levity apart. Tell me in confidence if you will, for I have now become secretive like a sepulchre, what should I do? O Lord – what a long letter on you long-suffering Divine. Such a letter on Statesmanian poems. Yet, que voulez-vous? Yoga is no laughing matter. Must look round if there are imps about ready to pounce through the Dilipian wrong movement anent Statesman-Harin affair. Really I would gladly obey whatever your commandment. Shall I tell Harin to shift for himself? But he may be offended now, I warn you, since I inadvertently agreed to help and since the poor Mother’s poet must live even apart from the Mother through poems on her. Anomaly. Mais que voulez-vous. “Anomaly, thy name is Human!”

 

August 12, 1935

What you describe is the Darshan “complex” trying to come back – i.e. the mind putting forward the idea that something very great or at least something decisive ought to happen on the 15th, the vital putting forward its certainty or at least its overwhelming expectation that nothing would happen except indeed something very disagreeable, the physical mind helping the vital’s expectation to realise itself by discovering the something very disagreeable e.g. in the absence of a smile and my very disagreeable intention behind the refusal to smile. It is the old recurrent vital suggestion and fixed movement which used to happen with so much persistence and which by a psychic step forward you had got rid of. To allow it to return would be to go back from the psychic road to the old troubled vital movement. You should not revert to that on any ground whatever.

It does not matter if strenuous meditation leads to experiences or not. Remember what I told you that it is the psychic growth and not experiences that are the road for you just now. That means these things – 1st the drawing back from the vital ego and its perturbations to a quiet attitude of faith and surrender; 2nd the growth of something within that sees what is to be changed in the nature and gives the impulse to change it; 3rd the psychic feeling in sadhana which presses towards the growth of bhakti, feels it a joy simply to think, feel, write, speak of, remember the Divine, grows full of a quiet self-upliftment towards the Divine and lives in that more than in outward things. When the consciousness is full of these things altogether, i.e. when there is the full psychic state or opening, then experiences begin to come of themselves. The first two at least had started of themselves in you – let them grow and the third should necessarily follow. The psychic opening first, the higher consciousness and its experiences afterwards – this is the safe road and it seems to be the one your inner consciousness wants to follow. Why not follow it? To go back to the vital’s demand for experiences at this stage – whether as a right or as a reward for being good – is surely an anachronism when once the psychic has shown its head even a little.

P.S. Mother thinks she can give about half an hour to you tomorrow, but it cannot be before 12.

 

August 13, 1935

It is rather difficult for me to conceive of myself as a big grim fierce terrifying supramental Rākṣasa but I will defend myself no longer on that score.

I am rather surprised at Krishnaprem’s surprise about my statement of faith. I thought he had said once you should not hanker after experiences. As for experience being necessary for faith, no faith without it, that contradicts human psychology altogether. Thousands of people have faith before they have experience and it is the faith that helps them to the experience. The doctrine “No belief without proof” applies to physical science, it would be disastrous on the field of spirituality – or for that matter in the field of human action. The saint or bhakta have the faith in God long before they get the experience of God – the man of action has the faith in his cause long before his cause is crowned with success, otherwise they could not have been able to struggle persistently towards their end in spite of defeat, failure and deadly peril. I don’t know what Krishnaprem means by true faith. For me faith is not intellectual belief but a function of the soul; when my belief has faltered, failed, gone out, the soul has remained steadfast, obstinately insisting, “This path and no other; the Truth I have felt is the Truth whatever the mind may believe or not believe.” On the other hand, experiences do not necessarily lead to faith. One sadhak writes to me: “I feel the grace of the Mother descending into me, but I can’t believe it because it may be my vital imagination.” Another has experiences for years together, then falls down because he has, he says, “lost faith.” All these things are not my imagination, they are facts and tell their own tale.

All that, however, is by the way. I have no objection to you or anybody having experiences. I am not a fool. Let everybody have as many experiences as possible. What I say is that the hankering for experiences should not be there in such a way as to replace the true attitude and bring disappointment and revolt. Bhakti is not an experience, it is a state of the heart and soul. It is a state which comes when the psychic being is awake and prominent. It is for that reason that I asked you to cleave to the psychic way and not go back to that of vital desire. I have not said that your psychic being was “in front” in such a way as to be proof against all attack. What I said was that it was becoming awake and active giving you the right attitude and helping you towards the change of your nature. I certainly did not mean a moral but a spiritual change. Freedom from ego is not a moral but a spiritual change – a moral man may be chockfull of ego, an ego increased by his sense of goodness and rectitude. Freedom from ego is spiritually valuable because then one can be centred, no longer in one’s personal self, but in the Divine; and that too is the condition of bhakti.

I write all that, but I do not expect you to accept anything I say; that is not possible while these forces are in action. The only thing to do is to get rid of them. All that I can do is to try and help you to do it – I only hope it will not take too long.

 

August 20, 1935

I wrote a letter to Subhash this morning in reply to his exhorting me to come away, assuring me that all my friends want me back and that nobody is cross with me, etc. etc. I wrote that I must be faithful to the call of my soul and to my Guru whom I do believe to be the Divine incarnate. Perhaps he will smile the well-known “the old story” smile of our up-to-date rationalism.

Well, his also is the old old story repeated without any satisfactory result or liberating end.

 

August 22, 1935

(...) Subhash writes about all my friends being eager to welcome me back if I return now – surely I have been in seclusion long enough, etc., etc., etc. – activism philosophy, vous comprenez? I wrote back – a quoi bon, en un mot [what is the use, in a word]. Strange that, is it not? When I am disappointed in Yoga I pout at the Divine but when I am called to return to the unDivine I staunchly and unflinchingly refuse! Inscrutable are the ways of the supramental, what?

But, good Lord, that is not the Supramental – there are no such contradictions in the Supramental. These are “the ways” of the mental-vital being in its search for the Supramental or rather for the Divine on any plane – and that is a very different affair. It is only a colloquy on the way between the vital and the psychic, the one saying, “Here, I say, where is this confounded Divine of yours?” the other, “Ah! people want me to give up my Divine! I’ll be damned (I know it) if I do!”

 

August 22, 1935

But do tell me please do you really get anything solid from this nebulous Supramental? He looks too suspiciously like leaving-in-the-lurch kind of customer. Nirod tells me you scaled and winged like lightning on Its pinions. Have you really? I mean did it mean something like motion or a sort of Marvellous Calm which seems like motion through some Supramental jugglery of consciousness. Some enlightenment on this bewildering problem would be highly edifying even to the mortals and humans you may be sure. Also Rajani122 has to be gagged somehow: he talks of nothing but the Supramental. And what am I to answer? Shall I try some imaginative blood-curdling stunt? Please let me know if I may.

You have created your own “bewildering problem” by supplying your own data! There is nothing nebulous about the supramental, its action depends on the utmost precision possible. As for solidity, since I have got many solid things from much lower forces, I do not see why the highest ones should only give nebulosities. But that seems the human mind’s position, only what is earthy is solid, what is high is misty and unreal – the worm is a reality, but the eagle’s a vapour!

However; I have not told Nirod that I am scaling and winging – on the contrary I am dealing with very hard practical facts. I only told him I had got the formula of solution for the difficulty that had been holding me up since last November and I am working it out.

To return to the supramental – the supramental is simply the direct self-existent Truth consciousness and the direct self-effective Truth Power. There can therefore be no question of jugglery about it. What is not true is not supramental. As for calm and silence, there is no need of the supramental to get that. One can get it even on the level of Higher Mind which is the next above the human intelligence. I got these things in 1908, twenty seven years ago and I can assure you they were solid enough and marvellous enough without any need of supramentality to make it more so! Again, a calm that “seems like motion” is a phenomenon of which I know nothing. A calm or silence which can support or produce action – that I know and that is what I have had – the proof is that out of an absolute silence of the mind I edited the Bande Mataram for four months and wrote six and a half volumes of the Arya, not to speak of all the letters and messages, etc., etc. I have written since. If you say that writing is not an action or motion but only something that seems like it, a jugglery of the consciousness – well, still out of that calm and silence I conducted a pretty strenuous political activity and have also taken my share in keeping up an Ashram which has at least an appearance to the physical senses of being solid and material! If you deny that these things are material or solid (which of course metaphysically you can), then you land yourself plump into Shankara’s illusionism, and there I will leave you.

You will say however that it is not the Supramental but at most the Overmind that helped me to these non-nebulous notions. But the Supermind is by definition a greater dynamic activity than mind or Overmind. I have said that what is not true, is not supramental; I will add that what is ineffective is not supramental. And finally I will conclude by saying that I have [not] told Nirod that I have taken possession of the Supramental – I only admit to be very near to it or at least to its tail. But very near is – well, after all a relative phrase like all human phrases123.

I don’t know how you are to “gag” Rajani. You might perhaps by my two formulas, but it is doubtful. Or perhaps you might tell him that the supramental is silence – only it would be untrue! So I leave you in your fix – there is no other go. At least until I have firm physical hold of the tail of the supramental and can come and tell the mortals and humans – no doubt in language which will be unintelligible to them, for they have totally misunderstood even the little I have already written about it.

 

August 23, 1935

I can’t resist the temptation of sending you the enclosed. The reviewer I know not. So I am glad he is so laudatory – though his language is rather pompous.

I have been typing your letter written to me this morning, and pondering and pondering. I trust I have grown wiser, believe me, not less so by the irony in your letter on us mentals. But que voulez-vous, you have expressed yourself, willy-nilly, in the language which the mental has invented after all. So you are also in no less a fix than I. The only difference between you and us seems to be the difference between a Jivanmukta124 who accepts the “fixes” voluntarily while the baddhas (bound) are crushed in the “fixes” toils. But anyhow it is refreshing to see that a Jivanmukta can accept bonds which he transcends.

Why should I be in a fix for that? I use the language of the mind because there is no other which human beings can understand – even though most of them understand it badly. If I were to use a supramental language like Joyce, you would not even have the illusion of understanding; so, not being an Irishman, I don’t make the attempt. But of course anyone who wants to change earth-nature must first accept it in order to change it. To quote from an unpublished poem125 of my own:

“He who would bring the heavens here

Must descend himself into clay

And the burden of earthly nature bear

And tread the dolorous way.”

As to the supramental language however the review you sent me stirs in me wild hopes. “Angelic heights throbbing with the spirit of the [vettling wingerin?]” (magnificent! let Joyce beat that [vettling wingerin?], if he can!). Arguing with “devil don’t care dialectics”, “[?] [?] in the midst of theories controversed and knotty self-criticism,” “in spite of the bludgeon hits of dilettantism,” etc. etc. If I could write like that I might be able to explain the supramental to you and perhaps with the aid of some “indulgence in slow ruminations” punctuated with “chuckling witticism” here and there you might arrive at some raw inklings and uncooked understanding of the Supermind. But alas! such writing is beyond me.

 

August 24, 1935

Here is another poem of the new series of four verses each in prabahamān [flowing] mātrā-vṛtta – my new successful chhanda – Prabodh Sen has adjudged. So I am reassured about the technique (by technique here I mean the technique about enjambement, structure, etc. – ). I have experimented long in this chhanda as you know and, after many stumblings pointed out by Prabodh Sen, because it is the most difficult chhanda in a sense, have acquired an easy flow in it). But I want to ask you about one thing.

You know how hard I had to work at my artistry effect, etc. I did the same in music too though I could sing spontaneously since I was four and would beat time since I was two – I am told. But then should artistry be too conscious? How will this new series of poems look? The last line of each verse repeats in a way the first line of the same verse in a sort of refrain-like cadence. This is conscious and deliberate. I don’t mean it is laboured – for it isn’t, I now-a-days write fairly easily and with very little effort – but about its artistry and architecture, the first three verses leading up to the fourth – the enjambements, etc. are all conscious and the metre perfected after a great deal of effort, after many first failures. Now, I am sure about the technique now – in fact now-a-days I receive letters from so many poets, poetesses, etc. asking me to adjudicate on the intricatest points of metrical gymnastics even and I can, if I like, do gymnastics too like Satyen Dutta, only I never do it. I never write poems, as you know, regularly, [I] write only when I feel a kind of urge. But to resume my question:

As I understand, Swinburne spent a lot of labour on conscious artistry and thereby spoilt the spontaneity of many poems! I don’t fancy that. That is why I ask you – should I try such conscious artistry as I do in this poem? I mean the artistry about assonances (note here the liquid hidden rhymes in every line – the rhyming is deliberate for mellifluousness – duhkha bedan majheo kehan [who even in pain and sorrow], etc. every long line has such internal rhymes within) enjambements, stanza-formation, etc. Are these risky? But I don’t feel any artificiality about it – except in the sense that all perfection of rhythmic utterance is of necessity somewhat artificial. Still I do feel a natural flow. Many others also feel it, even my enemy Girija as I wrote to you, started praising my poems now. But nevertheless I don’t care to emulate Yeats whom you praise for his artistry but are indifferent to at bottom. My diffidence arises from my having acquired my technical mastery by a great deal of conscious determined study of technique and metrical research. It would not be too much to say that I pondered over each syllable once for hours when it was necessary. Now, of course, I don’t have to – but can direct my concentration to artistry and chiselling of structure, etc. But my question still remains.

I don’t know that Swinburne really did that – before assenting to such a proposition about him I should like to know which were these poems he spoiled by too much artistry of technique. So far as I remember, his best poems are those in which he is most perfect in his technique. I think his decline came when he became too much at ease and poured out an endless melody without caring for substance and the finer finenesses of form. Attention to technique harms only when a writer is so busy with his technique that he becomes indifferent to substance. But if the substance is adequate, the attention to technique can only give it greater beauty. Things like a refrain, internal rhymes, etc. can indeed be great aids to the inspiration and the expression – just as can ordinary rhyme. It is in my view a great error to regard metre, rhyme etc. as artificial. Metre is on the contrary the most natural form of expression for a certain state of creative emotion and vision, much more natural and easy than a non-metrical form; they express themselves best and most powerfully in a balanced rather than in a loose and shapeless rhythm. The search for technique is simply the search for the best and most appropriate form for expressing what has to be said and once it is found, the inspiration can flow quite naturally and fluently into them. There can be no harm therefore in attention to technique so long as there is no inattention to substance.

There are only two conditions about artistry: (1) that the artistry does not become so exterior as to be no longer art and (2) that substance (in which of course I include bhāva) is not left behind in the desert or else art and bhāva not woven into each other.

 

Editor’s note

In September 1935 there was an exchange of letters between Sri Aurobindo and Dilip on the subject of Harin. Respecting Sri Aurobindo’s wish to “throw a veil of silence” over Harin, we have omitted most of these “private” letters. All the same we have plucked a few lines from here and there, when the individual merged with the universal. After all, none of us are free from our dark side. For, are we not all buffeted by the play of universal forces, such as anger, pride, etc.?

Sri Aurobindo and Mother gave Harin a “long and full chance to develop his better side of spiritual experience,” as they gave to so many other sadhaks. The question is whether we “want to drive both the black and the white horse” or choose to ride only the white horse.

September 1935

But time, however Einsteinian, is not indefinitely elastic – so how to find time for the necessary except at the cost of the unnecessary. (...)

No, I did not put any conscious force for that this time. It was a resultant as you say, of several forces, among which may be counted the one I put upon you for the purpose that other time which you did not then diagnostise. It is a fact that forces so put are not altogether wasted but bide their time and become suddenly effective under the proper conditions at a later time. I have seen that hundreds of times – with very curious results since they act under circumstances which form no part of the Idea that originally put them forth. However your impulse was all right – only I value it more as a step in your conquest of ego than for its original purpose, though that too is all right. (...)

 

September 1935

Private

Well, I think I know Harin’s psychology pretty well by this time and there is nothing new to me in all that you write, nor anything inexplicable in his actions or motives. I am quite aware of the alternate adoring and bowing of which you speak, and always have been – it is a fairly common thing in human nature. I am not frightened by the prospect – for my motives in dealing with people are not those of the ego. Besides, from the first I knew that Harin would either rise very high or fall very low or do both – and I took the risk, as it seemed worth taking.

My cryptic utterances were not in the least meant as a defence of Harin. I did the defending business in days when I was still trying to “harmonise” the people here – but I have given that up as a bad job. Harmony can come with the loss of the ego or it may come in the supramental whose nature is harmony; but before – well, it is more unreasonable than asking for the moon. How can there be harmony in a world of ego? (...)

I had not heard of the Gramophone letter; but I suppose I could tell the motives behind it – if I cared to do so. Harin’s grievance about these things was that we allowed you to publish your poetry, write in the papers, sing, play music, have music parties, call Udayshankar, etc., etc., all “vital things” – while he was prevented by us from doing any of them. As almost everybody in the Ashram thinks about such things, so he too thought that the difference made was due to personal partiality, and that the Mother’s rule of the Ashram was full of partiality, etc. which is also a thing almost everybody has thought and probably still thinks about it. Voilà. Of course they don’t think that of any so called “privilege” given to themselves – for that is quite tolerable! So the world is made.

Finally, why occupy your mind with Harin? It won’t help what you are now trying to do in the sadhana. For your relation with him is the clash of two egos and you are trying to get out of that line of business altogether.

 

September 1935

P.S. One thing I would ask you in all humility. Can I be as nice to him as I like? I like to be kind and nice to him.

No objection to niceness. If it makes him a little nicer. You can judge for yourself how nice to be.

You can be absolutely sure he won’t affect me in the least by his talk. It is a curious phenomenon with me (I have noticed before too – and always) that whenever I see hostility or wrong movements in others, far from vacillating, I feel adamant and peaceful like Raman Maharshi. (...)

You have written a very fine poem. But Harin’s bidroha [revolt] is of another character – there is something behind low and dark which he does not want to get out of himself. So –

P.S. Of course it was not my intention in writing the last letter that you should cut or throw off Harin. I only wanted you to know our position and the difficulties and this letter also I write from the same standpoint. If you have converted him, good – but let it be a true conversion.

 

September 9, 1935

Yes, I am confident about immunity from Harin’s movements. Was dreadfully busy whole day in unyogic work re. proofs, etc. But what about Krishnaprem and that letter? To give you a fillip I send his two letters I spoke about. See if you can comment thereon along with the question. What the deuce he means by this Light of his? Knowledge? Well, will you give me some hints as to its concreteness? Light, good Lord! What is it?

Will answer you about Krishnaprem tomorrow, God willing. Not much to say though – when one heartily agrees, what can one say except “Hurrah! ditto!” However.

 

September 10, 1935

(Dilip had received a letter from Krishnaprem which we include here. Sri Aurobindo’s reply comes after.)

My dear Dilip,

At last I must sit down and write a reply to your letter. And first let me thank you for the prasadi petals from your Gurudev and for the interesting copy of the Sunday Times.

Now what is the “faith and experience” business? I can’t remember any remarks on the subject today. In fact the only thing I ever remember saying on the subject of faith was contained in a letter to you in which, as far as I remember, I said that faith was the light of the higher self penetrating the lower or some words to that effect.

Casting about in my memory I do seem to recollect some vague talk with M.B. [Moni Bagchi]126 but the remarks were no doubt ad hoc and probably were directed against the orthodox religious demand for a blind acceptance of dogmatic belief. Such belief or pseudo-belief (for it seldom, if ever, is real belief) has nothing to do with what I meant by faith in writing to you. The latter is not an intellectual assent to intellectualised propositions for which one has insufficient evidence but an attitude of the soul which is based on a dim perception in the personality of something more clearly known at higher levels. That, at any rate, is what I meant by “true faith” and I should have thought your Gurudev would have more or less agreed with it. But at any rate that is my position at present; I fancy that Moni Bagchi must have garbled what I said127.

Certainly experiences are not the goal but experience (in a way, at least) is, for by experience I mean living knowledge manifesting in one’s being and if that is not present something is wrong or at least something has not started yet.

Of course faith precedes experience on this level but it does so only because it is itself the Light from experience already present higher up.

Do you know what is immortal or what is mortal? And do you know which of these you are?

Answer these questions and you will understand what I mean by faith. Incidentally you will also know what I mean by bhakti, the āhuti128 of the mortal in this flame of the immortal.

I say again (“I said it loud; I said it clear; I went and shouted in his ear”) that I am not in any way against emotion. That would be quite absurd. But I do criticise the current practice of weltering in emotion for its own sake and for the sake of the pleasure attaching to it. That is like a man weltering in a hot bath.

Know Krishna, love Krishna and work for Krishna. Then you can leave all the “blisses” to take care of themselves. You will certainly not find any shortage of them. Of course there is bliss experienced in self-offering but do not offer yourself in order to get the bliss but offer yourself because He is Krishna and your being can only fulfil itself by being united with His being.

About bhakti – the word is ambiguously used. Some people mean by it an emotional rapture as such. (Don’t ignore these two small words.) In that case bhakti is not the highest thing. Others, including myself, mean by it self-giving to Krishna which is of course accompanied by emotional rapture but is not performed for the sake of the rapture. In that case it is the “highest” or something like highest. Loud applause from you at this point I suppose but be sure you don’t misunderstand me. Before you can offer the “ghee” in the fire you have to know where the fire is and Krishna is in the Light, in the Light, in the Light!

Of course I have left out all sorts of qualifications. There is such a thing as preliminary offering, or, say, wish to offer, and much more but I am writing a letter not a book.

Disregard the Light at your peril for He is the Light and a Light must mingle with a Light. Fail to know the light and you will helplessly tread the dark path of the “dakṣiṇāyana”129, whirling helplessly, the sport but not the master of Karma.

Everybody should strive to find out so that at death he may echo the cry of the Orphic initiate: “From the pure I go to the Pure”. All I can say is that the Light in which Krishna dwells is a Light which sees, not a light which is seen and the voice of Krishna is a voice which speaks not a voice which is heard.

I really can’t go over those old letters of mine that you have typed out. Make what you can of them and throw away the rest. As regards the point you query with red pencil, no “not” is required. The point is simply that symbols which are known as symbols are sometimes less dangerous than symbols which are not recognised as such and it is impossible, however “abstract” and “Vedantic” one may be, to escape from symbols as all words are symbols.

I have, however, added a “ṭippaṇī”130 to your comments. I find that the letter is largely a repetition of the previous ones. Evidently I am running dry so had better shut up.

I do not know that I can answer your question about what Krishnaprem means by Krishna’s light. It is certainly not what people ordinarily mean by knowledge. He may mean the Light of the Divine Consciousness or, if you like, the light that is the Divine Consciousness or the light that comes from it or he may mean the luminous being of Krishna in which all things are in their supreme truth – the truth of Knowledge, the truth of Bhakti, the truth of ecstasy and Ananda, everything is there.

There is also a manifestation of Light – the Upanishads speak of jyotir brahma, the Light that is Brahman. Very often the sadhak feels a flow of Light upon him or around him or a flow of Light invading his centres or even his whole being and body, penetrating and illumining every cell and in that Light there grows the spiritual consciousness and one becomes open to all or many of its workings and realisations. Appositely, I have a review of a book of Ramdas (of the “Vision”) before me in which is described such an experience got by the repetition of the Rama mantra, but, if I understand rightly, after a long and rigorous self-discipline. “The mantra having stopped automatically, he beheld a small circular light before his mental vision. This yielded him thrills of delight. This experience having continued for some days, he felt a dazzling light like lightning flashing his eyes, which ultimately permeated and absorbed him. Now an inexpressible transport of bliss filled every pore of his physical frame.” It does not always come like that – very often it comes by stages or at long intervals, at first, working on the consciousness till it is ready.

We speak here also of Krishna’s light – Krishna’s light in the mind, Krishna’s light in the vital; but it is a special light – in the mind it brings clarity, freedom from obscurity, mental error and perversion; in the vital it clears out all perilous stuff and where it is there is a pure and divine happiness and gladness.

There are some however who seem to regard this invasion of Light not merely as a thing without value but a thing of evil or, possibly, one that can be such and so to be distrusted: for I have before me a letter describing an experience very similar to Ramdas’s, but it was condemned by the writer’s Guru as an attempt at possession by a devil to be dispelled by uttering the name of Ramakrishna!

That is as much as I can write about it just now. The usual arrest by time is there. But why limit oneself, insist on one thing alone and shut out every other? Whether it be by Bhakti or by Light or by Ananda or by Peace or by any other means whatsoever that one gets the initial realisation of the Divine, to get it is the thing and all means are good that bring it.

If it is Bhakti that one insists on, it is by the Bhakti that Bhakti comes and Bhakti in its fullness is nothing but an entire self-giving, as Krishnaprem very rightly indicates. Then all meditation, all tapasya, all means of prayer or mantra must have that as its end and it is when one has progressed sufficiently in that that the Divine Grace descends and the realisation comes and develops till it is complete. But the moment of its advent is chosen by the wisdom of the Divine alone and one must have the strength to go on till it arrives; for when all is truly ready it cannot fail to come.

I shall try to write more tomorrow.

 

September 10, 1935

It seems to me a pity that you have dropped even for a moment the line you had taken, which in my eyes at least was really serious Yoga, and given the whole emphasis to the meditation. If you find it dull, it can hardly succeed. However, as you say, it is no use complaining: I only hope you will get back to the psychic line in which you were making good progress. I note at any rate that you are determined to stick to the spiritual endeavour in spite of the keenness of your disappointment. It is the sticking to it and seeing it through that makes success possible. I don’t know that it is useful just now to say anything more. I can only give all the help possible.

 

September 11, 1935

I was quite in earnest in speaking of the progress you had made by the psychic movement and the endeavour to detect and remove the ego. I had already written to you strongly approving of that way. It is in our Yoga the way to devotion and surrender – for it is the psychic movement that brings the constant and pure devotion and the removal of ego that makes it possible to surrender. The two things indeed go together.

The other way which is the way to knowledge is the meditation in the head by which there comes the opening above, the quietude or silence of the mind and the descent of peace, etc. of the higher consciousness generally till it envelops the being and fills the body and begins to take up all the movements. But this involves a passage through silence and a certain emptiness of the ordinary activities – they being pushed out and done as a purely superficial action – and you strongly dislike silence and emptiness.

The third way which is one of the two ways towards Yoga by works is the separation of the Purusha from the Prakriti, the inner silent being from the outer active one, so that one has two consciousnesses or a double consciousness, one behind watching and observing and finally controlling and changing the other which is active in front. But this also means living in an inner peace and silence and dealing with the activities as if they were a thing of the surface. (The other way of beginning the Yoga of Works is by doing them for the Divine, for the Mother, and not for oneself, consecrating and dedicating them till one concretely feels the Divine Force taking up the activities and doing them for one.)

It is therefore the first way that would seem the one for you to follow and I was naturally very glad to see you take it.

If there is any secret or key of my Yoga which you say you have not found, it lies in these methods – and, in reality, there is nothing so mysterious, impossible or even new about them in themselves. It is only the farther development at a later stage and the aim of the Yoga that are new. But that one need not concern oneself with in the earlier stages unless one wishes to do so as a matter of mental knowledge.

 

September 12, 1935

I am grateful to learn that I have succeeded in making you somewhat partial to Peace and even almost able to envisage Silence without horror. It is a well-nigh supramental achievement – and yet you are unwilling to believe in the supermind or in me! However what I want to remind you of is that inner peace and silence are not necessarily a passage to Nirvana and nowhere else. I have shown by my own example (and there are others) that it can be a transition and a support to an inexhaustible and unfailing activity of knowledge, production and many things else. That tears the guts out of your fixed theory and constant assertion to the contrary – but you are always calling up its ghost and making it fight on like a bhūt [ghost] of Norwegian saga or the heroes of the Hindi epic long after the life is out of it or its head and legs cut off. I hope the time will soon come when you will let it rest peacefully in its grave.

Also the psychic approach is not the thing you paint it in your letter. All these highly literary and rhetorical, swingingly forceful or pungent phrases with which you pepper it, as once you did with the supermind, are, as those were, singularly inappropriate. It need, besides, be no slower in its result than the other ways. It depends on the sustained force and earnestness which you put into it whether it fructifies sooner or later.

As for romance, you would have had your fill of it if you had come earlier here, but you would also have had all the difficulties afterwards. As it is, the Gods who preside over your evolution seem to have made up their minds that you must deserve the romance of spiritual achievement before you get it. Perhaps they are wiser than your desire.

As to meditation it was for two reasons that I discouraged it, first, because it was through your impatience dropping you into the slough of despond instead of bringing you nearer to peace – next, because there was some chance if it bore fruit of its bringing emptiness and silence – and then you would have stood numb with horror and perhaps sunk aghast into the arms of Inertia! But if you turn suddenly into a monument of indomitable patience and are no longer afraid of Peace and Silence – well, then of course my objections would disappear.

But still even then I maintain the equal or greater necessity of the psychic way through devotion, the conquest of ego and surrender.

 

September 13, 1935

It is a pity you have lost all gladness or enthusiasm for the way of psychic devotion, for surely you had some and whatever you may say, it had brought a real progress – not in startling experiences, certainly, but in a movement of the being God-wards – a turn towards the way of inner spiritual ripeness. However, if you don’t feel like continuing it, I suppose it is no use your forcing yourself. I still hope you will at some time come back to it yourself.

Asceticism has its own uses provided it is done very seriously and consistently, and if you felt a real call that way I would not say no. Of course, you can try the meditation still. It may succeed in spite of the despondency. For sometimes, as I have seen in two or three cases recently, the change or experience comes in a most unexpected and irrational way.

 

September 14, 1935

The Mother smiled because she was looking at you – the inner you also of course with the inward look – and from what she saw it came again to her “Yes, you are faithful”. Which was just what you were being by resisting the suggestions of the insinuating adverse Force.

As for these emotions, I don’t think Krishnaprem would have at all objected to them – as I understood his letters – and we certainly do not and have never done. He would say, I think, that they – such feelings towards the Guru – are quite akin to and near to the Light – for the Light can express itself in the emotional being as well as through the self and mind. What you express in your letter is precisely what I mean by the growth or opening of the psychic being; the feelings you express are what I call the psychic emotions – fidelity, gratitude, self-offering, service, the love that cleaves to the Beloved whatever may happen – what else do I mean by self-offering, self-giving? It is when the whole being is recast in this spirit, when all is an expression of love, fidelity, service, self-offering that the psychic being is complete and surrender becomes possible. Strange! you gird at the psychic way and yet you write to me almost in the same breath one of the most psychic letters possible!

The fact is that your mind has got mixed up with all sorts of preconceived mental notions about these things and that is why you misunderstand or fail to understand what Krishnaprem or I write to you. There is such a misprision about the conquest of ego and the seeking of Krishna for Krishna’s own sake and the crumbs – which I want to set right in another letter; it would be too long for this Saturday night.

Anyhow I have no objection to your meditating or even to your giving a trial to asceticism – I object to it as a goal, but have no feeling against it as a passage, for I have been there myself and so has the Mother. I am bound to say that many in the Ashram would be better for a taste of it. Also I have never bound you down to crumbs; I have only pointed out that most seekers start with crumbs, proceed with slices and then get the whole loaf, and it is not good spiritual politics to be dissatisfied with what comes and jump into the slough of despond because you can’t get the whole loaf straight off. I have no objection to your getting the whole loaf at once – provided it does not give you indigestion as it or something that looked like it gave to X, Y and Z. But in their case also did I ever object to their swallowing that big production of the spiritual oven? Never! I even helped them to it at all risks to them and me. So!

 

September 15, 1935

Well, great guru, so be it. I will plump for asceticism then, since no other way for a speedy arrival I gather? But let it be a concrete asceticism then, since I want the concrete realisations. Quid pro quo, what? So I propose these recipes for your full approval, for mind you, no non-committal supramental permissive ambiguous sanctions for me, to be obviated or disclaimed later by your arch-favourite “Well, Dilip-was-doing-his-own-Yoga” refuge. I must renounce then things which I like:

1) I’ll give up tea. I love it.

2) I’ll give up cheese. I like it.

3) I’ll bid adieu to fried potatoes, onions, butter, I adore these.

4) I will start periodic fasts, to feel hungry, heroically, without food.

5) Will part company with hair-oil.

6) Will shave off my head, that is authentic asceticism: I am not joking, I will, I grimly undertake, if only to show that I mean business. I will have at least the grim satisfaction of enjoying your failure to identify the metamorphosed Dilip and marvel how quickly the unregenerate Dilip has been made an end of by your withering Supramental.

7) I will sleep on blankets – pillowless. But note: I tried this before already and remember that although you have kept me in reasonable comfort, I came ready to brave any austerity.

8) Last, though not least, I will sleep without the mosquito-curtain which will be the most heroic of my ascetic stunts, as I have never yet been able to sleep without the comfy net.

Only please believe me when I urge that though my language is still unregenerate, poor Dilip being still Supramentally untransformed, my intention can defy the seriousest of Supramental vagaries. For though the language is flippant the heart is tearful comme il faut and tuned on to the top-notes of austerity. But now, do be business-like yourself, too, and bless beautifically: “Amen.”

I am rather aghast as I stare at the detailed proposals made by you! Fastings? I don’t believe in them, though I have done them myself. You would only eat like an ogre afterwards. Shaved head! Great heavens! have you realised the consequences? I pass over the aesthetic shock to myself on the 24th November from which I might not recover – but the row that would arise from Cape Cormorin to the Himalayas! You would be famous in a new way which would cast all your previous glories into the shade. And just when you are turning away from fame and all the things of the ego! No, no – too dangerous by half. Sleep without the mosquito net? That would mean no sleep which is as bad as no eating. Not only your eyes would become weak, but yourself also – and to boot gloomy, grey and gruesome, more gruesome than the Supramental of your worst apprehensions. No and no again. As for the rest, I placed some of them before the Mother and she eyed them without favour.

After all real asceticism is hardly possible except in a hut or in the Himalayas. The heart of asceticism, besides, is having no desires or attachment, being indifferent, able to do without things, satisfied with whatever comes. If you asceticise outwardly it becomes a rule of life and you keep it up because it is a rule, for the principle of the thing or for the kudos of it or as a point of honour. But I have noticed about the ascetics by rule that when you remove the curb they become just like others – with a few exceptions, of course; which proves that the transformation was not real. A more subtle method used by some is to give up for a time, then try the object of desire again and so go on till you have thoroughly tested yourself! E.g., you give up potatoes and eat only Ashram food for a time – if a call comes for the potatoes or from them, then you are not cured: if no call comes, still you cannot be sure till you have tried the potatoes again and seen whether the desire, attachment or sense of need revives. If it does not and the potatoes fall away from you of themselves, then there is some hope that the thing is done!

However, all this will make you think that I am hardly fit to be a guru on the path of asceticism and you will probably be right. You see I have such a strong penchant for the inner working and am so persuaded that if you give the psychic a chance, it will get rid of the vital bonds without all this sternness and trouble.

But I will write again and try to see without being aghast. I had no time to steady myself under the shock today.

P.S. Raihana’s reproduction is very expressive of the Gopi, but what else to say about it. It is a drawing and a drawing expresses the vision of the artist more often than the sitter – so one can say nothing from it.

 

September 16, 1935

O Guru, I thank you sincerely for refusing assent to my doom. And yet, paradoxically, I feel a definite disappointment too along with the relief. For I had a lurking suspicion that your Supramental wisdom might still be wanting to impose asceticism on me since I have, willy-nilly, to practise your Supramental Yoga and no other; so I decided, after a mighty wrench, to ban everything my mental loved or even approved of. But now you yourself are turning down my proposal to conquer attachments which are holding me up. I repeat, however, that I am still “game” if you reconsider your veto to give me another trial.

How in the earthly did you get this strange idea that we were pressing asceticism on you? When? how? where? I only admitted it as a possibility after repeated assertions from you that you wanted to do this formidable thing, and it was with great heart-searchings and terrible apprehensive visions of an ascetic Dilip with wild weird eyes and a loin-cloth, eating ground-nuts and nails and sleeping on iron spikes in the presence of a dumbfounded Lord Shiva! I never prescribed the thing to you at all; it was you who were clamouring for it, so I gave in and tried to make the best of it, hoping that you would think better of it. As for the Mother the first time she heard of it, she knocked it off with the most emphatic “Nonsense!” possible. In fact what you proposed was even more formidable than my vision – a shaven-headed and mosquito-bitten Dilip + the loin-cloth and the rest of it (not that you actually proposed the last, but it is the logical outcome of that devastating shave!). Conquest of attachment is quite a different matter – one has to learn to take one’s tea and potatoes without weeping for them or even missing them if they are not there. But we have repeatedly said that you could go on with them and need not follow the way taken by some others. As to seclusion I have written my distrust of “retirement” several times; it is only a few people who can do it and profit, but they are not a rule for others. So your subtle supramental interpretation of our intentions or wishes was a bad misfit. However all’s well that ends well and in spite of your suggestion of being still game, I will consider the danger as over. Laus Deo [Praise be to God]!

By the way, what’s all that about Rishabhchand131, Radhananda and Ambabhikshu132? It is very cryptic. Radhananda’s “ascetic” ways are his own and of long-standing and our influence has been towards their diminution if anything; I am not aware that Rishabhchand is an ascetic or sitting upon nails. Ambabhikshu? Is it because he does not receive visitors in his room? but that is a prohibition belonging to the upstairs of Retraite and not to the person.

 

September 20, 1935

Last evening I saw Harin off at the station for a few minutes. He looked very black in the face and gloomy too. I felt for the poor fellow who lost all through his own waywardness, etc. Still I felt a little sad as I came back alone. The question recurred to me again and again if Sri Krishna had truly meant it concretely or merely poetised when he had said na hi kalyāṇa-kṛt kaścid durgatiṃ tāta gacchati133?

You have forgotten the context. Arjuna asks what of a yogi who fails in this life because of his errors – does he fall from both the ordinary life and the spiritual and perish like a broken chord? Krishna says no. All who follow the Good get the reward of their effort and don’t perish as they get it first in the life beyond and afterwards in the next birth in which the Yogi who fails now may even resume his effort under the best conditions and arrive at Siddhi. Krishna never said that nobody ever in this life fails who attempts the Yoga.

For all of us have some failing or other – enough for any Divine to declare us unfit after even a superficial examination of our immeritoriousness. Harin’s demerit seems to have been – constantly thinking that he was too meritorious.

[[Was that his only difficulty? Egoism was indeed his first and main difficulty, but the others? He himself knew that they were there, but he chose not only to keep them out of his poetry but in speech to pretend to others that they were not there. That was because something in him was determined not to change.]]134

I remember when I was on bad terms with him, as I perused his poems of luscious self-approbation, I told myself constantly: “The fellow is living in a fool’s paradise – too unsceptic for Dilipian taste.”... Though even now I like beautiful poetry like Harm’s qua aesthetic poetry. But it is not what I was going to say. I was going to say that Harin’s collapse – he looked perfectly annihilated – made me think why should a seeker, like him, after spiritual life (for a seeker he was, was he not?) head so straight for disaster especially with you and Mother as his gurus?

And if a man refuses to listen to his gurus and claims to be wiser and more righteous than they are?

(...) This morning as I pranamed Mother, I felt a deep emotion with tears (which the Lightists disapprove)

The Light does not disapprove.

and this song was the result. As I was singing it I felt deeply stirred this morning.

This song is in the same metre (not altogether the same rhyme scheme all through) as my father’s famous and beautiful song on Nostalgia which I copy out side by side for your convenience. I used to sing this song to thousands in Bengal. Anilbaran, you may remember, had composed a year or two ago a song in the same metre and rhyme scheme which Sahana sang to Mother: Tui Mā āmār hiyār hiyā tui Mā āmār ānkhir ālo [Mother thou art the heart of my heart, thou art the light of my eyes] I will sing this song sometime to you and Mother – my own I mean, as it came out of a deep emotion and very spontaneously.

 

September 21, 1935

Absolutely no hope of correcting your poem today – too heavy a mass of work. I have another mass of important outside correspondence filling my box for the last month or more which I absolutely must clear off tomorrow – for my past Sundays have been as heavy as the week days and I could not deal with them. But I shall see if I can get a few minutes for this translation – you seem to have progressed greatly in your English verse (how so quickly? Yogic force? internal combustion? the subliminal self?) and perhaps much rehandling is not needed. I send you Raihana’s letter and drawing which have unaccountably turned up again with me (Poltergeist? your inadvertence? mine?).

 

September 22, 1935

Could not meditate of late thanks to mountains of proofs. But soon I will start like a Pahari Baba: beware.

After the mountain of proof the mountain of meditation with you, the BABA on top? All right: I am ready to face it.

 

September 28, 1935

This friend135 of mine – a top hole chappie from the unyogic humanistic point of view, from the “die-of-a-rose-in-aromatic-pain” cultural one to boot – is heart-broken, etc. for reasons you know. But what, his letter gives food for thought because

He’s disappointed that my stay [in the Ashram]

Has been refreshing in a way! –

In that, he assumes, I have professed

To have in Yoga alas, progressed!! –

In throwing off Dilipian charms

But lo! he finds my mental warms

Up to a friend who comes to you

To claim his Supramental blue

For PALE he’s to all outward seeming

But can you afford to be now beaming?

Do write I prithee on the back

That the eye may follow your master-track!

I read your poem first and was in deep waters. After reading your friend’s letter, I struggled to the surface; but the crucial lines are cryptic still. I am always beaming like a supramental sun. Why should I not afford to beam now? Why should the Moon-Lord’s136 pallor defeat me? Rather he should flush up with my radiance – and your warmth. N’est-ce pas?

 

October 4, 1935

The Mother felt a close sympathy with Somnath. There is in him of course a great mental capacity, but what he has in an unusual degree is a very fine psychic being and nature capable of true and profound psychic feelings and power of psychic experience. He is not aware as yet of all that is there in his soul, but there are great possibilities there waiting to be developed.

 

October 5, 1935

To Mother and Sri Aurobindo,

Although you did not permit me,

(Perhaps my letter did not see?)

Yet cooked have I – eat, I prithee

For in love I’ve cooked I guarantee

Albeit there was (‘twixt you and me)

In it some dare-divinery.

But then you didn’t (did you?) foresee:

Through hush there is no holding me?

The dauntless Dilip when Yoga-free.

I read your letter but ironically forgot all about that part of it (the excellent part) so there was no answer. As for the preparation itself the acclamation that rose from the palate when it encountered the remarkable concoction was “Queer but good!”

 

October 5, 1935

You wrote about the attempt aborting and trying again, etc. This has sent me to despair almost, it will I fear follow into the grave-limbo of Nirvana, Harmony and so many others. If I had a footing in Yoga this would not have mattered. But not having acquired it I have perforce to be a little thirsty for your letters on such matters – though I so genuinely hesitate to disturb you. But truly your letter of this morning has filled me with despairing alarm. Once such things are shelved, they do not come back to surface as I know to my cost. Still I can’t insist, as I know you are so busy. But if you find some time do at least remember my two chief questions (1) whether in Vaishnavism and Ramakrishnaism there wasn’t partial transformation at least, and that (2) does not any light of realisation, if it is to be lasting, presuppose some transformation of the ādhār in order that the descent may not be fugitive. As a corollary a light that descends in realisation does it not partially transform whether we aim at it or not?

Under your pressure (not supramental) I have splashed about a little on the surface of the subject – the result is imperfect and illegible. (I am sending it down to Nolini to wrestle with it.) Your fault! How on earth do you expect me to go deep or to the point or do anything else but scribble when I have no time at all, at all, at all.

I am not sure what you mean by the Vaishnava transformation or Ramakrishna’s, so I can’t say anything about that. I can only say that by transformation I do not mean some change of the nature – I do not mean, for instance, sainthood or ethical perfection or yogic siddhis (like the Tantrik’s). I use transformation in a special sense, a change of consciousness radical and complete and of a certain specific kind which is so conceived to bring about a strong and assured step forward in the spiritual evolution of the consciousness such as and greater than what took place when a mentalised being first appeared in a vital and material animal world. If anything short of that takes place or at least if a real beginning is not made on that basis, a fundamental progress towards it, then my object is not accomplished. A partial realisation, does not meet the demand I make on life and Yoga.

Light of realisation is not the same thing as Descent. I do not think realisation by itself necessarily transforms anything; it may bring only an opening or heightening or widening of the consciousness so as to realise something in the Purusha part without any radical change in the parts of Prakriti. One may have some light of realisation at the spiritual summit of the consciousness but the parts below remain what they were. I have seen any number of instances of that. There must be a descent of the light not merely into the mind or part of it but into all the being down to the physical and below before a real transformation can take place. A light in the mind may spiritualise or otherwise change the mind or part of it in one way or another, but it need not change the vital nature; a light in the vital may purify and enlarge the vital movements or else silence and immobilise the vital being, but leave the body and the physical consciousness as it was, or even leave it inert or shake its balance. And the descent of Light is not enough, it must be the descent of the whole higher consciousness, its Peace, Power, Knowledge, Love, Ananda. Moreover, the descent may be enough to liberate, but not to perfect, or enough to make a great change in the inner being, while the outer remains an imperfect instrument, clumsy, sick or inexpressive. Finally, the transformation effected by the sadhana cannot be complete unless it is a supramentalisation of the being. Psychisation is not enough, it is only a beginning; spiritualisation and the descent of the higher consciousness is not enough, it is only a middle term; the ultimate achievement needs the action of the supramental Consciousness and Force. Something less than that may very well be considered enough by the individual, but it is not enough for the earth-consciousness to take the definitive stride forward it must take at one time or another.

I have never said that my Yoga was something brand new in all its elements. I have called it the integral Yoga and that means that it takes up the essence and many procedures of the old Yogas – its newness is in its aim, standpoint and the totality of its method. In the earlier stages which is all I deal with in books like the “Riddle” or the “Lights” or in the new book to be published137 there is nothing in it that distinguishes it from the old yogas except the aim underlying its comprehensiveness, the spirit in its movements and the ultimate significance it keeps before it – also the scheme of its psychology and its working, but as that was not and could not be developed systematically or schematically in these letters, it has not been grasped by those who are not already acquainted with it by mental familiarity or some amount of practice. The later stages of the Yoga which go into little known or untrodden regions, I have not made public and I do not at present intend to do so.

I know very well also that there have been seemingly allied ideals and anticipations – the perfectibility of the race, certain Tantric sadhanas, the effort after a complete physical siddhi by certain schools of Yoga, etc., etc. I have alluded to these things myself and have put forth the view that the spiritual past of the race has been a preparation of Nature not merely for attaining to the Divine beyond the world, but also for the very step forward which the evolution of the earth-consciousness has now to make. I do not therefore care in the least – even though these things were far from identical with mine – whether this Yoga and its aim and method are accepted as new or not, that is in itself a trifling matter. That it should be recognised as true in itself and make itself true by achievement, is the one thing important; it does not matter if it is called new or a repetition or revival of the old which was forgotten. I laid emphasis on it as new in a letter to certain sadhaks so as to explain to them that a repetition of the old yogas was not enough in my eyes, that I was putting forward a thing to be achieved that has not yet been achieved, not yet clearly visualised, even though it is the natural but still secret desired outcome of all the past spiritual endeavour.

It is new as compared with the old yogas:

1. Because it aims not at a departure out of world and life into a Heaven or a Nirvana, but at a change of life and existence, not as something subordinate or incidental, but as a distinct and central object. If there is a descent in other Yogas, yet it is only an incident on the way or resulting from the ascent – the ascent is the real thing. Here the ascent is the first step, but it is a means for the descent. It is the descent of the new consciousness attained by the ascent that is the stamp and seal of the sadhana. Even Tantra and Vaishnavism end in the release from life; here the object is the fulfilment of life.

2. Because the object sought after is not an individual achievement of divine realisation for the sake of the individual, but something to be gained for the earth-consciousness here, a cosmic, not a supra-cosmic achievement. The thing to be gained also is the bringing in of a Power of Consciousness (the supramental) not yet organised or active directly in earth-nature, even in the spiritual life, but yet to be organised and made directly active.

3. Because a method has been preconized for achieving this 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 paths 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.

 

October 7, 1935

As usual when this mood seizes you, you are erecting many quite groundless supports to justify it and others that are surely too flimsy to bear such an edifice. We have never said that music was incompatible with sadhana. Mother has never forbidden anyone to hear your music nor has she ever said that your singing would disturb or injure your sadhana or anybody else’s sadhana. One or two found themselves disturbed at concerts by the crowd or did not care to go and to them she may have said that they should not go if they did not care or were disturbed, that surely is a perfectly natural reply and is not a prohibition of singing. Neither has Mother prohibited Sahana from singing or hearing your songs; there has sometimes arisen a question of her retiring from too much outward contacts or discussions, etc. because it disturbed her poise which was still insecure. There are people who need that, just as there are others to whom it makes no difference; and each must do what is found best in his own case. But that has nothing to do with music and it is a strange and violent twist to say that it includes a prohibition of music as incompatible with sadhana. On the contrary I have always encouraged you to do whatever, poetry or music, helps the devotion and combats the false idea that there is no capacity for spiritual things in you. The very fact that people find in your music so much more than before shows that it has not been discouraged but fostered here. It is you yourself who have in your moods of despondency belittled the spiritual use of your poetry and music, it is not we who have done so.

In the same way I am surprised to see you make a tragedy out of my humorous phrase with the thrice repeated “at all.”138 I certainly did not expect you to take it in such a way or I would not have written it. I have given always in the past all the time I could give, far more than to anyone else individually in the Ashram, in this matter of writing. Nowadays I have no more time for long letters, I am obliged to be brief – yet I have made exceptions and mostly for you. I wrote the phrase about no time at all, but it was after devoting a good part of two nights in succession to an endeavour to give you an answer – and a fairly long one. So in this respect I do not think I have at all failed you.

As for the other complaints, e.g. about your quarrels with Sahana, surely it is a great exaggeration to quarrel about such perfectly indifferent matters as a disagreement about the merits of Moni Bagchi – whether in the Ashram or outside it in ordinary life one can differ in opinion about people or things without the difference spoiling the atmosphere for them. Certainly, liking or disliking people has nothing to do with Yoga; neither liking people, which is a very amiable quality, nor music has ever been declared by us incompatible with Yoga.

All your letter therefore is built on the void except as far as it relates to your unsuccess in meditation. But the remedy for that does not lie in throwing up but in persevering in the Yoga. It is simply an attack; for all the suggestions enumerated by you are those which usually accompany such attacks. Throw them off whenever they come instead of nursing them; it is the only way to get rid of them in a definitive way.

Kashmir? Impracticable, for it is not the season; impracticable also, because it is not the cure.

 

October 10, 1935

[[I think you are somewhat out as regards the parallel between you and Harin. (...) The imperative to be a great Yogi and spiritual poet is one thing – many have it at first – the inspiration to be true and pure in all the being is not so common. No resemblance to your case, therefore.]]139

Aspiration and will to change are not so very far from each other, and if one has either, it is usually enough for going through – provided, of course, it maintains itself. The opposition in certain parts of the being exist in every sadhak and can be very obstinate. Sincerity comes by having first the constant central aspiration or will, next, the honesty to see and avow the refusal in parts of the being, finally the intention of seeing it through even there, however difficult it may be. You have admitted certain things changed in you, so you can no longer pretend that you have made no progress at all.

The peculiarity you note is pretty universal – it is one part of the being which believes and speaks the right and beautiful things; it is another which doubts and says just the opposite. I get communications for instance from X in which for several pages he writes wise and perfect things about the sadhana – suddenly without transition he drops into his physical mind and peevishly and complainingly says – well, things ignorant and quite incompatible with all that wisdom. X is not insincere when he does that – he is simply giving voice to two parts of his nature. Nobody can understand himself or human nature if he does not perceive the multi-personality of the human being. To get all parts into harmony, that is the difficult thing.

As for the lack of response, well, can’t you see that you are in the ancient tradition. Read the “Lives of the Saints” – you will find them all (perhaps not all, but at least so many) shouting like you that there was no response, no response and getting into frightful tumults, agonies and desperations – until the response came. Many people here who can’t say they have had no experiences, do just the same – so it does not depend on experiences, I don’t advise this procedure to anybody – mind you. I only want to say that the feeling of never having had a response does not mean that there never will be a response and that fits of despair at having arrived nowhere do not mean that one will never arrive.

P.S. Have read the preface. Of course.

 

October 12, 1935

But how the deuce can I give a formal “psychic certificate” like that to Mahendra Sarkar140? His capacities are undoubted and his experiences confirm what I saw at once about him that his is not an ordinary nature. But he is more complex than Somnath and for the moment I don’t want to act as a “Delimitation Committee.”

You put me in a great quandary by your question. We never know what to ask when such a question is put to us – we always try to shove the choice back on the shoulders of the giver. It is not ill-will but inability to think of anything whatever; it is only when something forces itself on our notice as needed or useful that we know and that never happens when somebody wants to give and says, “Tell me what.”

You can have him at the Trésor141 – in spite of his hopelessness for Yoga. But does he expect to pay his respects to me? The Man in the Moon would be more possible. You can at least see him across Space while I am invisible and untouchable – except when I am not but that is a day astronomically distant142.

You have made me acutely aware of “the wide high void that is my silent mind.” Imagination? not a trace of it – how can there be imagination in the śūnya Brahman [Supreme Void]? It would be so much easier for you who have an active mind to “eureka” something in the matter. The only thing I can do is to beat a long empty and quiescent boom with no result or else to wait calmly for the descent of a strong inspiration from the far-off Infinite.

 

October 19, 1935

The poor Dilip writes in a rich Harinian vein with a mind unclouded by hazes in an amazing gusto to dare anything.

Which expiates for the enclosed: Krishnaprem’s letter to whom I wrote regretfully that clouds were my perennial comrades.

What next? Must tell you something charming. If I can’t tell you something real – must concoct it in the last resort, in poetry.

Mais pourquoi? Voilà [But why? Here it is]: look, do look at Krishnaprem’s compliment bien tourné [well-turned compliment]: the line marked in red. I wish I had typed it all in capital letters. “But being naturally of a tactful disposition” – as said the peacock – I desist from exhibiting my strut. Well? What do you think of that?

And yes, do you know what my friend Somnath told me today about my music. Alas, the same bashfulness gags me otherwise you would have had some gush, as Somnath is recognised as one of the connoisseurs of first class Indian music, an instrumentalist himself – and fed from his childhood on classical music. Dash it all, let me burst out. He said he cannot conceive of a greater height in original creation in Bengali vocal music with such a wide gamut of devotional feelings etc. etc. etc. My bashfulness again – alas! So I stop – but only after adding that he said that it was so rare to see a composer achieve such technical perfection and that it can’t come by effort.

And something else to gush about: when good fortunes come sometimes they too come in battalions, what? My dear friend Dhurjati writes that he has been experiencing a change inly – that the intellectual life is barren and that his friends consider his Pondicherry culmination not too far. He is a sincere fellow and never says anything he means not. I feel Sotuda’s143 and Somnath’s coming here in the wake of Arjava’s and Dilip’s (Arjava is a dear friend of his, or at least he was) has somewhat undermined his self-sufficiency. Anyhow a little force sent to him won’t be inopportune and I do so wish he would come: I owe a great deal to him and he is one of my dearest friends – dearer than Somnath though not so dear as Subhash or Krishnaprem. Anyhow – good news that, no? At least for gushing purpose?

P.S. Truly do you know as I was singing Raihana’s songs this morning (on Krishna) I felt a thrill of bhakti emotion and every time I repeated his name in the song it came with a new thrill and melodic outpour. Please, for Supramental’s sake (how do you like this adjuration?) read all this out to Mother in the name of Commiseration.

Very good indeed! Proof that singing and music can help!

 

October 20, 1935

Mother,

Well you did look very sweet I admit, but you said you wanted a time-piece to Somnath on his pressing to know what he could make you a cadeau of. But when I made that enquiry you didn’t say anything and now see what plight I am in – moving heaven and earth to think up something that may at once please you and serve you. Amiya suggested a toilet-box, Sahana – kingkhap144 pieces for crown. I think of a revolving book-case. Qu’en dites-vous? And for Sri Aurobindo say a Shantipuri dhuti145 very fine stuff costing Rs.30 say? Qu’en dites-vous? For Supra’s sake do say something if only to smash Silence which so terrifies all good souls.

Well, when you wrote, the clocks were not needed, for there were three going merrily together though giving quite different times. But since then there has been a débacle and Somnath appeared as a providential saviour, so he was asked to fish us out of the difficulty.

Mother suggests that the book-case might do, but as it will perhaps take up all the money, you could make it a joint present (a jugal murti present, so to speak). What do you say?

I told my friend Somnath to see about a book-case, then dhotis, then kingkhap crown-pieces – till he was quite muddled – no wonder. So in the end I obliterated all orders and said prophetically I would write later.

But then what to write about? Ah, that is the question of questions! To please a Mother that only smiles but speaks not and a Guru who only fences and puzzles and bewilders a poor mental śiṣya out of his human wits!!

Well, what are human wits except to be puzzled till they don’t know where they are? It is only when they are reduced to that condition that there is some chance of their clutching at the tail of the Supramental.

Quite sympathise with your bashfulness under such a bombardment of compliments – you must feel worse off than Ras [Sayoun?] in Abyssinia146 though perhaps with less inclination to retreat and hide yourself in the desert. But what do you think of Krishnaprem’s Upanishadic sentences about the “Light that sees”; it does not puzzle your “poor human wits”? As for Dhurjati, well, every mind has its day – of discovery that “mind is not enough”, and he must have been expending his so lavishly that the development is not surprising. The rest lies on the knees of the gods and I suppose the gods will see to it.

 

October 29, 1935

Each mind can have its own way of approaching the supreme Truth and there is an entrance for each as well as a thousand ways for the journey to it. It is not necessary to believe in the Grace or to recognise a Godhead different from one’s highest Self – there are ways of Yoga that do not accept these things. Also, for many no form of Yoga is necessary – they arrive at some realisation by a sort of pressure of the mind or the heart or the will breaking the screen between it and what is at once beyond it and its own source. What happens after the breaking of the screen depends on the play of the Truth on the consciousness and the turn of the nature. There is no reason, therefore, why Dhurjati’s realisation of his being should not come in its own way by growth from within, not by the Divine Grace, if his mind objects to that description, but, let us say, by the spontaneous movement of the Self within him.

For, as to this “Grace”, we describe it in that way because we feel in the infinite Spirit or Self-existence a Presence or a Being, a Consciousness that determines – that is what we speak of as the Divine – not a separate person, but the one Being of whom our individual self is a portion or a vessel. But it is not necessary for everybody to regard it in that way. Supposing it is the impersonal Self of all only, yet the Upanishad says of this Self and its realisation: “This understanding is not to be gained by reasoning nor by tapasya nor by much learning, but whom this Self chooses, to him it reveals its own body.” Well, that is the same thing as what we call the Divine Grace – it is an action from above or from within independent of mental causes which decides its own movement. We can call it the Divine Grace; we can call it the Self within choosing its own hour and way to manifest to the mental instrument on the surface; we can call it the flowering of the inner being or inner nature into self-realisation and self-knowledge. As something in us approaches it or as it presents itself to us, so the mind sees it. But in reality it is the same thing and the same process of the being in Nature.

I could illustrate my meaning more concretely from my own first experience of the self, long before I knew even what Yoga was or that there was such a thing, at a time when I had no religious feeling, no wish for spiritual knowledge, no aspiration beyond the mind, only a contented agnosticism and the impulse towards poetry and politics. But it would be too long a story, so I do not tell it here.

 

October 30, 1935

But I have already told you more than once that I have no objection to your seeking Krishna or to your asking for Ananda or milan [union] or anything else. I have never pressed you or others either to search after supermind or to accept me as an Avatar. These things have risen as an answer to questions put by yourself or others and I have treated them as matters of knowledge. But each must go by his own way and his own nature to his own goal. Ahaitukī bhakti [motiveless devotion] according to the Vaishnava ideal is the highest way and also the quickest, but if one does not feel equal to it, sahaitukī [motivated] bhakti will do well enough. Or if one has no turn for bhakti at all, there are plenty of other ways. Or if one does not care to follow any way, there is, as I said, in answer to Dhurjati’s question, the pressure of something in the nature to find the Self, if that is what it is after, or God or Krishna or the Mother or whatever it may be.

If you know the urge in you, well, follow it straight – there is no need of questioning or going this side or that. Follow the heart’s urge till it reaches what it is seeking.

 

October 31, 1935

I am rather taken aback by the interpretation you have put on my letter. There was absolutely nothing in it of dismissal or giving you up. You had written that you found you desired Krishna only and in the old way with desire for the Ananda and the Milan, that you could not arrive at ahaitukī bhakti and that the Supramental glories of my Yoga and the greatness of my Avatarhood were beyond you and not for you and that you wanted only Krishna. You concluded that I should find you unfit and send you away. My answer was intended to show that none of these things need constitute unfitness. I had not asked you to seek after the Supermind, my writing about it was only in answer to questions for intellectual discussion and knowledge; for none can attain to Supermind unless Supermind comes to them, unless, as I put it, it descends into the earth-consciousness. As for Avatarhood, we had agreed that you should regard me as Guru and it was not necessary for you to accept or see me as the Divine. I had also said several times that I had no objection to your seeking after the Divine in the form and personality of Krishna. All these things had been agreed upon between us – at least so I understood it – some time ago. So I did not see why for these things I should declare you unfit or send you away. So long as you have the seeking for the Divine as Krishna that is quite sufficient. As for ahaitukī bhakti, I wanted to point out that to think I insisted on it is a mistake; it is the highest and most powerful method, but in its absence sahaitukī bhakti is quite enough. I emphasised my point by saying that even if that were absent – I never said that that was your case or that your case was like Dhurjati’s – a man need not despair of reaching the Divine, for there were other ways, such as that of Knowledge, or even without any way a sincere pressure of seeking on the nature would end by finding whatever it sought of the Divine in whatever form. Therefore it was sufficient to follow the urge in you and not force yourself to seek other things or consider them indispensable for fitness.

I hope this will make my meaning clear to you. I never thought of dismissing you or giving you up and the idea of wanting you to go away is so far from me and foreign to me that I did not even think it necessary to say so, as you knew it well from past correspondence and from my attitude to you all throughout – it has never changed from that of an unalterable love and sympathising patience. For I know that you can arrive at the goal if you give yourself the chance.

The only thing that stands in your way is the impatience of the length of the way and these repeated fits of despair. Even that has been the experience of many bhaktas and yet they have gone through, but there is no necessity for these despondencies. I had shown you what to do to avoid them and while you did it you made great progress in preparing the nature so that Somnath could speak to the Mother of the miraculous change he found in your character. An equally miraculous change can come in the direction of spiritual experience. All that is needed is the fixed will to go through.

I do not see why you should try to force yourself to go away when neither you nor I desire it. For me to desire it is indeed not thinkable. I trust that you will put that thought away altogether.

 

November 1935 (?)

I believe Krishnaprem’s comment was on a passage in which I wrote that this Yoga was not like the old ones in that it aimed not at an ascent or passing beyond life but at a descent of the divine consciousness into life. Its aim is double – two movements fusing themselves into one – an ascending into divine consciousness and a transformation of earth life by the divine consciousness coming down here. All the old Yogas put the emphasis on going to Nirvana or to heaven, Vaikuntha, Goloka, Brahmaloka, etc. for good and so getting rid of rebirth. My emphasis is on life here and its transformation and I put that as the aim at once of my Yoga and of the terrestrial manifestation. I am quite unaware that any of the old Yogas held this as the aim before them. Even Vaishnavism and Tantra are in the end otherworldly: mukti is the aim of their efforts and anything else could be only coincidental and subordinate or a result on the way. If my view is correct, then my statement was not an error.

I have not denied that the ideal of a change on earth is of old standing. It is there vaguely in the human mind perhaps since the beginning, though more often perfection is put in some golden age of the past and deterioration and a cataclysm is the law of the future. Christianity foresees a descent of Christ and his rule on earth, but this is figured as a natural event, not as a change produced by an inward power and process or by Yoga. A reign of the saints is also foreshadowed in some Hindu scriptures, but that equally is something different from my conception. As for sainthood itself or the siddhis of Yoga including a siddha body, that too is not what I mean by transformation, it is a radical change of consciousness and nature itself that I envisage. I do not know also that these things were sought by the process of descent – the Tamil Shaiva saints for instance sought for the siddha body by tremendous austerities; the siddhis they sought were all there in the sūkṣma mental and vital worlds and by a stupendous effort and mastery of the body they brought them down into the physical instrument. I have always said that these things and these methods are out of my scope and eschewed by me in my Yoga. I tried one of these but after achieving some initial results I saw it was a bypath and I left it.

To get rid of or mastery over kama-krodha [desire and anger] is not the transformation, it is at best a preliminary step towards it provided it is done not in the moral way by mental self control but in the spiritual way. Sainthood is not my object. I do not know how far Ramakrishna had gone towards the transformation as I conceive it; the metaphors you quote contain nothing precise with which I can compare my own experience or my own intuitions about the change. According to certain accounts there was a descent of Kali into his body which made it luminous, but he repressed it as something contrary to what he was seeking after. If there is something anywhere in the past which coincides with the aim and conceived process of my Yoga I shall be glad to know of it; for that would certainly be an aid to me. I put no value on the newness of what I am doing or trying to do. If the path was already there open and complete, it is a great pity that I should have wasted all my life cleaving it out anew with much difficulty and peril when I could just have walked on a clear and safe avenue towards the goal of my endeavour. But the nearest I could get to it were some things in the Veda and Upanishads (sacred words, veiled hints) which seemed to coincide with or point towards certain things in my own knowledge and experience. But after incorporating certain parts of the Vedic method as far as I could interpret or recover it, I found it was insufficient and I had to seek farther. [incomplete]

 

November 1935 (?)

Assuredly, rejection means control of one’s thoughts, and why should not one be master of one’s own mind and thoughts and not only master of one’s vital passions and bodily movements? If it is the right thing to control the body and not allow it to make a stupid, wrong or unconscious movement, if it is the right thing to reject from the vital an ignorant passion or low desire, it must be equally the right thing to reject from the mind a thought that ought not to be there or that for good reasons one does not want to be there. As for possibility, I suppose when a thought that is manifestly stupid or false presents itself to the mind, one can and usually does reject and throw it out and bid it not recur again. If one can do that with a given thought, it follows that one can do it with any thoughts that need for any reason to be excluded. If a scientist goes into his laboratory to work out a problem, he shuts out from his mind for the time being all thoughts of his wife, his family or his financial affairs, and if they come he repels them and says “This is not your time.” If he has resolved to carry out a line of investigation to the end or a method of invention and, if doubts assail him, he will certainly throw them aside and say “I mean to see this through to the end and till I have reached the end, I have no intention of listening to you.” At every step a man of any mental calibre has to exercise some power over his mind, otherwise he would be as much in a state of restless mental confusion or of mechanical incoherence as one who had no control over his impulses and desires... [incomplete]

 

November 1935 (?)

The question put to me was whether it was possible for one to love another’s child as well as one loved one’s own children. To that of course there can be only one reply that it is perfectly possible, for it often happens. It is even possible to love another’s child better than one’s own. I don’t think it can be said that in all these cases the equal or greater love is an illusion. Where it is an illusion (the cases you quote), it is because the thinking mind has influenced the vital feeling; the stepmother knowing that it is her duty to care for all equally, helped perhaps by a psychic strain in her emotions, comes to believe or imagine (without any hypocrisy but not without some involuntary self-deception) that her love is equal for all. When it comes to the test the genuine vital attachment for her own prevails over the lesser vital attachment for the one who is not her own; the vital reveals itself as the deciding factor and the mental element and the psychic strain are unable to prevail against it. But where the love for the other’s child is itself vital, not based on a mental ideal, and is truly intense, the same result would not follow. Again if there is a strong psychic affinity between the man or woman and the child not his or her own by birth and this has been seconded by an equally strong vital pull, the resultant love would reveal itself as intense and genuine and the more ordinary love would not prevail against it.

Of course, these cases are not in the majority. Ordinarily the family feeling and sense of [ownness] would be stronger. But if we ask why, I doubt the answer that it is because of the bodily parentship, the animal fact of the child being from the mother’s own womb. In reality the animal mother will bring up a substituted little one (alone or with the others) as tenderly and carefully as if it had been from her own womb, it will often so bring up even one of another species. If an alien human infant were substituted for the real one in the cradle without the mother knowing it the result would not be different. Therefore what counts is an idea, feeling, imagination in the vital mind that this is “mine” and an instinctive vital attachment created by it along with the love and affection that grows up in the very act of nursing and bringing up a clinging and dependent creature. This in human beings gets farther strengthened by the mental idea of the lasting family tie which prevents the relation from being evanescent as in the animal creation. All that creates a very powerful saṃskār which has become automatically effective and tenacious. It is natural that in a majority of cases, it should be stronger than a tie not supported by all these things together. And the human vital, even if it follows the ordinary groove, is not limited by it and it has a power of free play according to its fancy or impulsion which makes for it many other lines than the ordinary one.

 

November 3, 1935

The solution of the enigma is that the being and nature are made up of different parts and personalities. There is a being in you which is a bhakta and in potency a Yogi – it is the one that has joined to him the poet and the musician and singer and expresses himself through them, they form now a harmonious group, almost a composite person. There is another part or being in you which was drawn towards the world, society, success, fame, food – a spoilt child of Fortune and Nature (but still vitally strong, generous, full of enthusiasm, amiable, affectionate) which was rather dragged to the Yoga rather than came to it willingly, but it came because the others insisted and did not allow it to have the rasa of the outside life and besides promised it something that would be the divine equivalent or compensation of these vital pleasures; a spiritual vital love, ananda, enjoyment of the Divine. This part has now less attraction for the old things or none, but it wants badly the thing promised and has no taste for tapasya and the long effort of sadhana. Thirdly, there was yet another who had many defects of egoism, vanity, egoistic sensitiveness, etc. which made a tremendous row against changing. A large part of it has been modifying itself – it is perhaps what Somnath meant when he spoke of the miraculous change in your character. For he told the Mother when he used the phrase, “We all loved Dilip, but there were defects in his character of which we could not approve and now I can no longer find any trace of them – he is so miraculously changed.” It is the combination of No.2 and No.3 which has made the difficulty all along because they were mixed up together, otherwise No.2 would not have been difficult to manage. The despair, defeatism, fretfulness, gloom, angry impatience which No.3 brought into the affair was the chief cause of your despondencies, otherwise No.2 might have been eager and impatient but not in this way. In combination with No.l there might have been yearning, pangs of viraha, etc. but not the crises. There is not the slightest doubt that your nature was made for ananda and that all the other beings except the last one are naturally themselves full of it. That is what people feel when you meet them and they contact your natural self in speaking with you or your inner self through your songs, poems, music. The rest from which you suffer so much is, as I have repeatedly told you, a formation, a sort of accretion, a recurring artificial crisis imposed on you from outside and accepted by No.3 – not normal or native to the healthy soundness of your nature. The difficulty is that not being conversant with these things you take it as your own and let it have its course instead of drawing back from it as you did during the first few months when you began to follow the psychic movement. It is quite possible that if you definitely get rid of it and completed the psychic change, spiritual experience would come with a rush. That has happened to several and is happening to others.

 

November 3, 1935

The late Brahmananda, one of the most favourite disciples of Sri Ramakrishna has said, “The human is lax by nature, that is why he does not prescribe for himself a hard askesis (tapasya) nor a long sadhana and revels in platitudes about the Divine Grace. But it is all a rationalisation of our inveterate tendency to follow the line of least resistance in as much as without tapasya Grace does not descend. You must labour hard if you really mean business.” What do you say to that?

I am glad that Brahmananda has intervened or at least wandered in at the right moment – it is something more than a coincidence. It is true that Brahmananda though not a great man or a great personality like Vivekananda, was or became a more perfect bhakta and sattwic Yogi. What he says about tapasya is of course true. If one is not prepared for labour and tapasya, control of the mind and vital, one cannot demand big spiritual gains – for the mind and vital will always find tricks and excuses for prolonging their own reign, imposing their likes and dislikes and staving off the day when they will have to become obedient instruments and open channels of the soul and spirit. Grace may sometimes bring undeserved or apparently undeserved fruits, but one can’t demand Grace as a right and privilege – for then it would not be Grace. As you have seen – let us bless Brahmananda for it! – one can’t claim that one has only to shout and the answer must come. Besides, I have always seen that there has been really a long unobserved preparation before the Grace intervenes, and also, after it has intervened, one has still to put in a good deal of work to keep and develop what one has got – as it is in all other things – until there is the complete siddhi. Then of course labour finishes and one is in assured possession. So tapasya of one kind or another is not avoidable.

You are right again about the imaginary obstacles. Good Lord! What mountains of them you had piled up on the way – a regular Abyssinia. It is why we are always imprecating against mental constructions and vital formations – because they are the defence-works mind and vital throw up against their capture by the Divine. However, the first thing is to become conscious of all that as you have now become – the secret thing is to be firm in knocking it all down and making a tabula rasa147, a foundation of calm, peace, happy openness for the true building.

 

November 7, 1935

All right about the Rs.300. You can bring it to the Mother on Saturday at one.

We have already seen the gentleman sitting with the musical instrument. Without accepting as gospel truth the figures of the assistant, one can say that the story is credible. The amiable Ch. is no doubt an honourable man (“so are they all”), but he is also a sharp business man, not Rockefeller certainly, but –. I have no reason to challenge Russell’s conclusions – I share them without having the data. The adage “Honesty is the best policy” was invented in a semi-barbarous age when mankind had not made so much progress as now, an age which no longer exists – except perhaps in the wilds of Abyssinia, and now Mussolini is out to finish with it and bring in the blessings of civilisation even there. Nowadays the saying is notoriously out of date; it only means that with honesty you have less chances of going to jail – provided you are lucky and also provided you have not met Mahatma Gandhi. But Rockefellers and the rest of the commercial aristocracy were not born for jail but for palaces with marble water closets and the immortality of Rockefeller institutes and honour in the land of the gangsters and the free. All this is not meant to tempt you out of the paths of virtue, but only to point the moral which seems “Therefore, O Dilip, keep thy weather-eye open and do not allow Ch. to ch. you too much, for to prevent it altogether is, I fear, a Utopian idea; honourable men must earn their living.” By the way, why should Rockefeller go for Russell; he has got his millions and why should he mind an impotent little reminder of the way he got it?

The carpet is very fine; the mats also. So the failure of my supramental philosophy does not upset me.

Welcome to the moisture! May it change before long into the Rain of Heaven.

 

November 12, 1935

It was Mother’s sweet grace to offer to translate my song of Kali into French that made me launch into this desperate attempt to render it in English somehow. So please correct and make it presentable. I have at places put within brackets alternatives; which to retain, if any, please indicate by deleting the ones to be rejected. Often your deletings too are as indecipherable, strange!!

I keep your translation and will look to it. But a verse rendering is not very apt for translation into French. A prose (but not prosaic) rendering would be better.

Read however the portions marked in blue of two letters enclosed: one is that of a savant professor, the other of the foremost Musalman novelist of Bengal. So you see I have waxed somewhat of a celebrity in literature too, what? But if you doubt this, hear this convincing datum: an unknown gentleman from a town of Bengal writes they have to present an address to a Doctor there honoured by a Raja. So whom do you think he approaches, eh? – this Dilip striving frantically to be humble! But how to do it when fame puts him into such embarrassing and unheard-of predicament? Has such a thing happened to any other celebrity from the day of Adam’s fall? Only I hope this will not accomplish the last of his old Adams?

I sympathise. Three cheers though for Abul Fazal and the savant. I don’t feel so enthusiastic about the Doctor even though honoured by a Raja. An address in honour of a Doctor! What are we coming to? N.B. Please don’t read this to Nirod. But perhaps it may be on the principle “Honour thy Doctor that thy life may be long in the land.” To call an eminent novelist for the purpose is after all appropriate. You could give a long address on the romance of medicine beginning with Dhanvantari, Charaka and Galen148 and ending with Nirod Talukdar and Dr. Ramchandra.

Romen has drawn a design for Jyoti’s wrapper (of her stories which we have made into a book). How do you like it? I find it rather a nicish thing – but I am no judge of painting, you know? So-sorry to trouble you in your seclusion.

It is excellent – very cleverly done and suitable to the purpose.

Joking apart, believe me I was greatly touched by your voluntarily asking me not to mind your notice. Only tell me in confidence (I will be moved nevertheless) is it to 121 out of 150 that you have entrusted this grace or to 97 only? But truly Guru, however irreverent my pen is my heart is truly much moved by such abiding consideration from you. But I won’t abuse your kindness. I will write as little as possible. Only forgive the two letters enclosed. Can’t resist such temptations for the life of me, vous savez?

The number specially exempted is two by tacit understanding, two by express notice, two – well by self-given permission. There are also “urgent” and indispensable letters – tending to be rather numerous, though not overwhelmingly so. If it had been 97 or 121 I would have had to translate myself to Lake Manas or the Gobi desert in the style of Bejoy Goswami.

What about Nalina? I dreamed yesterday that she was receiving force from you or something of equally good portend – I have forgotten ninety per cent; the one per cent remaining means that you told me or suggested Nalina was progressing, is there anything in the dream?

Well, she is receiving force. It is also certain that she has been progressing. So your dream as far as the remembered one per cent goes is all right. Dreams are not dreams except when they are – which cryptic statement will I hope, be clear to you as crystal.

 

November 14, 1935

Anilbaran’s song is best rendered by an Elizabethan simplicity and intensity with as little artifice of metre and diction as possible. I have tried to do it in that way.

I have read the long poem, but should like to read it once more before returning it.

Your “The Deep” is very good, but there are too many “it” and “for”; “shied thy Orient” is not English, a preposition is indispensable; “your glimpse” again is not said, but “a glimpse of you” – “a glimpse” is sufficient here; “decides” is too prosaic; “and home” is loose and conveys no precise connection or meaning. I have therefore altered at all these points.

“Stilescade” needs more alteration. “When” is much needed in the first line to give more flowing and less abrupt syntax. Between “feet” and “heart” a syllable is needed to avoid the clash of the two “t”s and “my” gives more emotion to the phrase. “Darks” (plural) can hardly stand and is also awkward; the two next lines are awkward also in construction, while in the fourth line “sky’s lullaby” will never do. Stanza three, “are” is needed, not “were” to show that the effect continues; “numb” sounds queer and, while the oxymoron “your hush was not dumb” is permissible, to say that the “hush carolled and danced” is too violent for even an illogical English mind; it is better hinted or stated by inference than put with a too bald and bold directness. I think with my corrections the two poems make two very pretty lyrics.

(...)

P.S. Your translation is not quite successful, which is not surprising, for I would have found it difficult to translate in verse myself; so I am taking time over it.

 

November 15, 1935

I am sending you the translation corrected – not too indecipherable I hope. It is rather the expression than the rhythm that was insufficient in your version. As it is now, I think it might be made the basis for the French version, so that a prose translation would not be necessary.

I don’t think there is anything you could write or anybody write that would shock me, so that need not trouble you. Of course you are right about the lies, there are of all sorts, and also about all men being durāchār [wicked, of ill-conduct] only some are virtuous durāchārs, some sinful ones and some a mixed lot! I don’t mean to deny that there are Harischandras and Shukadevas here and there, but one has to take a microscope or a telescope or anything else handy to find them. But enough! Sufficient [unlit?] the night is the cynicism thereof!

Your dreams are of a very familiar kind, both coming often to sadhaks. The first is a sort of formation on the vital plane or a possibility for the future – whether or how it will come about in the physical is a different matter. The other is an excursion into the vital world where there are all the types and forms of things that happen here, and having its own region or province there. One is constantly going into these planes (and others also mental and psychic and subtle physical also as well as vital) and seeing and doing things there. Very often what one does and experiences there is a symbol of things in the nature, tendencies, achievements, difficulties, things hidden within or only half seen on the surface. This one came clearly to show how far you have travelled from certain elements, tendencies or possibilities that were there in the past. The feeling in the dream was the sign of that progress.

 

November 18, 1935

Will see to your song, but today too much correspondence in spite of the notice. But Mother is rather alarmed by the length of the song; how can that be finished in two and a half minutes? She is very particular that the programme should not be exceeded; for she fixed it at the very maximum that (non-musical) European listeners can be expected to hear without losing interest or feeling fatigue. There is only one, a Mr. Cime, who is an addict of Indian music, the rest – He however is also a busy man who cannot be expected to give more than an hour at most to much aesthetic and un-administrative relaxations. If the function is to be a success, the time limit is of great importance.

I return your letters. Evidently the reading public is of a different opinion from the high brow critics. But I hope that you are reading all these letters with a high Yogic equanimity and that your ego (like a Mr. Jack Horner149 in his corner) is not indulging in a chuckle or at least a secret beatific smile. For he is getting plenty of pie.

 

November 19, 1935

Your warning is apposite and timely. For I do often find I enjoy such high praises with a beatific smile as you put it. I am trying very sincerely however (I have just a redeeming feature or two in my composition I hope?) not to accept such praises for my separate and egoistic enjoyment. But having been “a spoilt child of Fortune and Nature” as you put it it is difficult not to “smile” secretly upon such “spoilers”. But I do try and am fully conscious and my aspiration as well as will are entirely d’accord that I should and must get rid of every vainglory and egoistic and aesthetic satisfaction, etc. I do very often pray earnestly to be able to repudiate such praises, etc. as not the dues of my ego but to look upon every delight I can give to others as the gift and grace of my guru and Mother. Truly. You don’t believe? Mais vous devez, car c’est la vérité [But you ought to, because it is the truth].

Right. But there is no objection to aesthetic satisfaction, that is needed for the work. It is only Jack Horner who has to disappear.

 

November 19, 1935

(From Mother)

Je vous envoie la traduction de “Mahakali”; c’était très intéressant à faire.

Quant à la chanson de Krishna garçon, je n’étais pas vraiment inquiète – mais maintenant vous m’avez tout à fait rassurée.

Avec nos bénédictions.

[I am sending you the translation of “Mahakali”; it was a very interesting thing to do.

Regarding the song of the boy Krishna, I was not really worried – but now you have reassured me altogether.

With our blessings.]

 

November 21, 1935

O Guru, Needless to thank? I send you the typescript, with your correction. There, where the “long-dried” is in evidence you will please note another word which looks suspiciously like “soulless” is soulfully struggling for survival. But I don’t see how it could, except with some supramentalised rhythmic grace. How do you favour its title for a passport! Also see if “long-dried” can be changed into “toneless” tor shuni tān baila ujān jamunā gān geye [On hearing your melody, the Jamuna flowed upstream gurgling] has this hint that Jamuna which was musicless flows on gurglingly. (Ujān boye has the idea of music.) Can this be somehow imparted or even a suggestion? Lastly, in the penultimate line, shall there be a comma after illumined? Awaiting your verdict. To our Bengali ears filled and child will of course be as atrocious as sky and eternity or grove and love. But since in English I have seen such rhymes used unrepentantly I of course bow. But if it could be possibly changed or improved upon by hook or by crook do see – spend three and a half seconds on this problem, as it is the last line and with us, the last line rhyme is extremely important. Also child occurs once before in the first verse though the space is decently wide enough, I admit. Still –

It is no use applying a Bengali ear to English rhythms any more than a French ear to English or an English ear to French metres. The Frenchman may object to English blank verse because his own ear misses the rhyme or the Englishman to the French Alexandrine because he finds it rhetorical and monotonous. Irrelevant objections both. Imperfect rhymes are regarded in English metre as a source of charm in the rhythmic field bringing in possibilities of delicate variation in the constant clang of exact rhymes. As for the repetition, there is no law of style forbidding the repetition of a word in the same poem – only if it is too near. Here the repetition is perfectly appropriate in a poem of this character and with this subject.

What I had written was “The soul’s long-dried river”. Without some pointing of the symbolism the dragging of rivers is rather bewildering to the English mind. As for toneless rivers, it would have no meaning – the English man would ask what the devil are these unconnected ideas put together without any coherent meaning? In any case toneless river is impossible in English. Voiceless if you like.

I understand Mother is somewhat anxious that Rajangam is playing the tambura with me. It is only for practice, please assure her. There at Aroumé, Sahana and Venkataram will play gladly enough and two tamburas sound beautifully together without stressing its symmetrical picturesque effect (it is the orthodox style by the way). I remember Mother emphasised the couleur locale and picturesqueness of the ambiance. I hope when Mother hears this elle sera rassurée de nouveau [she will be again reassured]? I had never dreamed of taking Rajangam there (specially without having first asked Mother’s permission.)

P.S.: And Anilbaran’s song? Do make it stand similarly on the tottering legs I have given by some sort of a Supraprop, what?

 

November 30, 1935

(from Mother)150

Bravo! bravo! bravo! c’était magnifique et nos invités étaient ENCHANTÉS. Votre Mahakali a été un triomphe.

[Bravo! bravo! bravo! it was magnificent and our guests were DELIGHTED. Your Mahakali has been a triumph.]

 

December 1935

As yet I have no luck with my answer to your arguments against any Yoga that is not obvious to the senses and subject to their verdict and sentence; for this night I have been assailed with a mass of letters and a mass of bothers. The bothers I can regard with equality, but they and the letters had to be dealt with, so I could not make any headway with that subject. Your tenant seems to be a curious fellow; he lectures you from a sharp and lofty pedestal. Don’t get worried however, we will see about the matter. Mother will speak to Uday Singh151, but you will have to give a note of authorisation so that they may act.

As I have a few minutes I may comment on your today’s letter so as to get that out of the way. I must say your arguments about R. and S., made me smile. When on earth were politeness and good society manners considered as a part or a test of spiritual experience or true yogic siddhi? It is no more a test than the capacity of dancing well or of dressing nicely. Just as there are many very good and kind men who are boorish and rude in their manners, so there may be very spiritual men (I mean who have had deep spiritual experiences) who have no grasp over physical life or action (many intellectuals too are like that) and are not at all careful about their manners. I suppose I myself am accused of rude and arrogant behaviour because I refuse to see people, do not answer letters, and a host of other misdemeanours. I have heard of a famous recluse who threw stones at anybody coming to his retreat because he did not want disciples and found no other way of warding off the flood of candidates. I at least would hesitate to pronounce that such people had no spiritual life or experience. Certainly, I prefer that sadhaks should be reasonably considerate towards each other, but that is for the sake of collective life and harmony, not as a siddhi of the Yoga or an indispensable sign of inner experience.

[As152 for the other matter how can the écarts of the sadhaks here, none of whom have reached perfection or anywhere near it, be a proof that spiritual experience is null or worthless.] You write as if the moment [one had] any kind of spiritual experience or realisation, one must at once be a perfect person without defects or weaknesses. That is to make a demand which it is impossible to satisfy and it is to ignore the fact that spiritual life is a growth and not a sudden and inexplicable miracle. No sadhak can be judged as if he were already a siddha [perfect] yogi, least of all those who have only travelled a quarter or less of a very long path [as it is the case with most who are here]. Even great yogis do not claim perfection and you cannot say that because they are not absolutely perfect, therefore their spirituality is false or of no use to the world. There are, besides, all kinds of spiritual men, some who are content with spiritual experience and do not seek after an outward perfection or progress, some who are saints, others who do not seek after sainthood, others who are content to live in the cosmic consciousness in touch or union with the All but allowing all kinds of forces to play through them, e.g., in the typical description of the Paramahaṃsa. The ideal I put before our Yoga is one thing but it does not bind all spiritual life and endeavour. The spiritual life is not a thing that can be formulated in a rigid definition or bound by a fixed mental rule; it is a vast field of evolution, an immense kingdom potentially larger than the other kingdoms below it, with a hundred provinces, a thousand types, stages, forms, paths, variations of the spiritual ideal, degrees of spiritual advancement. It is from the basis of this truth [which I shall try to explain in subsequent letters] that things regarding spirituality and its seekers must be judged, if they are to be judged with knowledge. Let me do that first and afterwards if I am able to give some idea of it, which is not easy, particular questions can be more solvable.

P.S. All these things I say, must not be applied to the personal cases you mention which are only an occasion for saying them. The one thing that applies to them is that they are sadhaks, not siddhas, raw still, not ripe.

 

December 1935

I am glad to have got your second letter in which the psychic being in you expresses itself with such fullness. It would have been impossible for me to go on with my explanations of the [case?] for spirituality if the exposition of it, carrying as it must do many things contrary to your own mental views, were to upset or hurt you. I have no intention of doing that and have always avoided it except that sometimes I have to express an unpalatable view of things rather plainly in answer to your own insistence. If I write about these questions from the yogic point of view, even though on a logical basis, there is bound to be much that is in conflict with your own settled and perhaps cherished opinions, e.g., about “miracles”, persons, the limits of judgment by sense-data, etc. I have avoided as much as possible writing about these subjects because I would have to propound things that cannot be understood except by reference to other data than those of the physical senses or of reason founded on these alone. I might have to speak of laws and forces not recognised by physical reason or science. In my public writings and my writings to sadhaks I have not dealt with these because they go out of the range of ordinary knowledge and the understanding founded on it. These things are known to some, but they do not usually speak about it, while the public view of much of those as are known are either credulous or incredulous, but in both cases without experience or knowledge. So if the views founded on them are likely to upset, shock or bewilder, the better way is silence.

I should like, however, to clear up first some misunderstandings in your letter about what I had written:

(1) What I wrote about politeness had nothing to do with Sahana or the quarrel with Anilkumar – I referred to that as an écart and I said that such lapses on the part of sadhaks who were far from being siddha Yogis could not be advanced as a disproof of spiritual experience or of its value. My remark was not at all meant as justification of loss of self-control in an argument and getting angry and excited if crossed in one’s views. It was merely a refusal to accept that as an argument against spirituality in general – spiritual experience, as I said, does not inevitably lead to perfection and you cannot expect it to do so. Equality and self-control are most necessary to Yoga, but also most difficult; one has to strive always after them; they are not, at least in their completeness, easily attainable. The whole being has to be pervaded by calm and peace; the nerves and cells of the body have to be full of calm and peace. Until then what one has to strive to attain is inner calm in the inner being which remains even when the outer is disturbed by invasions of grief, [unease?] or anger. The Yogi arrives first at a sort of division in his being on which the inner Purusha fixed and calm looks at the perturbations of the outer man as one looks at the passions of an unreasonable child; that once fixed, he can proceed afterwards to control the outer man also. Whether he can easily control the actions depends on the temperament of his outer man, whether it is vehement, emotional and passionate or comparatively sedate and quiet. Such a complete control of the outer man needs a long and arduous tapasya. It cannot be expected and even the [assured?] inner calm cannot be expected of those who are still in a very early stage of the journey, who are still sadhaks and not Yogis.

(2) I said that as regards both cases, Radhananda and Sahana, my remarks must be taken as limited to this proposition that you cannot expect from the raw what you can expect from the ripe, that is from the siddha Yogi.

(3) But even from the siddha Yogi you cannot always expect a perfect perfection; there were many who do not even care for the perfection of the outer nature, yet they have spiritual experience, even spiritual realisation and the unperfected outer nature cannot be held as a disproof of their realisation or experience. If you so regard it, you have to rule out of count the greater number of Yogis of the past and the Rishis of the old time also.

(4) I said that the ideal of my Yoga is different but I cannot bind by it other spiritual men and their achievements or discipline. My own ideal is transformation of the outer nature, perfection as perfect as it can be. But it is impossible to say that those who have not achieved it or did not care to achieve it had no spirituality or that their spirituality was of no value. Beautiful conduct – not politeness which is an outer thing, however valuable – but beauty founded upon a spiritual realisation of unity and harmony projected into life, is certainly part of the perfect perfection. But all that I regard as the ideal, the thing to be attained in the fullness of the siddhi. I do not expect perfect perfection from those who are on the way and as yet far from the goal. If they have it, it is delightful; but if they do not have it, I cannot deduce from that that they have no spiritual experiences or that these experiences are of no value

You yourself speak of the Baradi Brahmachari153. Because of his habits of speech, it is surely impossible to deny greatness as a spiritual man to this remarkable ascetic admired by Ramakrishna and revered by Vivekananda. Even Ramakrishna himself had habits of speech about which Vivekananda in a letter to his gurubhais [brother disciples] [rates?] them for translating these portions as it would make a very bad impression on his English readers. But would these English readers have been justified in denouncing Ramakrishna on that account as an unspiritual man or spirituality as therefore without value.

This was my reasoning and, so stated in a clear way, I hope, you will not find it either irrational or offensive. I wanted to clear this up because, if you remain under the impression that I am saying outrageous things, it will be difficult to go farther.

I want to show that spiritual seeking and achievement are not one [bundled?] thing that can be clearly defined in a single mental formula and reduced to a single rule or set of rules but a kingdom like the mental kingdom with all sorts of stages, lines, variations, provinces, types of spiritual men, and it is only by so understanding it that one can understand it truly, enter in its past or its future or put in their place the spiritual men of the past and the present or relate the different ideals, stages, etc. thrown up in the spiritual evolution of the human being.

 

December 5, 1935

I send you the penultimate couplet-poem with the translation I made last night. When I look at my translation’s spontaneity and distinctive expressions and style I feel myself in despair: to realise how hopeless is this leeway I have to make up in English verse. But never say die – what do you say? Anyhow I learn how much exoticism Bengali can well bear, since I nowadays make my Bengali translations almost meticulously literal e.g. see sphathic phenil [crystal clear foam]: I see here with a gratefulness to you how much I have gained in my Bengali poems through struggling to totter on English crutches. I was surprised last night how les mots justes [the right words] spring ready to the pen’s call in Bengali – alas, can’t say the same thing of English when I always fumble so. But there again never say die. Tell me however how do you find the Bengali translation’s exoticism. Does it not sound as having the proper ring and ambience?

Yes; it is exceedingly fine. Of course there is an immense difference with the English which is good but not superlative; but one cannot expect to seize in poetry the finer and more elusive tones which are so important in a learned language, however well-learned, as in one’s natural tongue. Unless of course one succeeds in so making it natural, if not native.

A little pleasant vanity. A professor friend of mine connoisseur of music – he is an acquaintance really – writes enthusiastically of my record majlo āmār manbhramarā kāli pada nīlkamale [My mind-bee has merged in the blue lotus of Kali’s feet]. He, incidentally, shows me how far I have travelled from my old music. Yes there has been some progress here and in poetry too, thanks to your truly all-tolerant lamp of encouragement. Note however that he seizes what I have all along wanted: deshbāsī jeno laghugāne ātmavismrita nā hoy [May my countrymen not be self-forgetful in light music]. It was here, by the way, that Tagore opposed me heart and soul and tried to equate the pretty and light with the lovely and deep in music. (...) I could not take that lying down. Anyhow I am glad my classical style has taken on, for I was truly doubtful of its success in those days of Tagorism. I sing the glory of your blessing, thanks to which, even the Gramo music has become an unexpected success both commercially and among connoisseurs.

I am glad of that, as I put much force for that result and was rather contrarié when the whole thing seemed to be becoming a failure. I am also glad that the progress of your music is being testified to on all sides and on the right lines.

 

December 6, 1935

O Guru

Highly delighted (unyogically though) to learn you had put much force for Gramophone. But highly intrigued too, withal. What is this force? A will on your part? A sweet blessing that all should be smooth in this rough world? Or is it a conscious way of directing a control as one controls an organisation in a music choir, to be precise? Can you throw some tiny force hereon? I mean does this force mean concrete business as the scheming of schemer does? I ask this naive question since your force always somewhat puzzles me, though I accept it (not that it would much matter if I didn’t), in a sense? But then can one accept a force either, properly speaking, when one does not understand the least about its concrete existence? I mean can one honestly say, “I believe in Thy force,” when one has only seen Thee but seen or felt nothing at all of Thine workings? Can you give me an answer somehow – even an apology of an answer if you will – if only crypticism happens to be the only fitting answer, that is?

Well, I made the mistake of “thinking aloud with my pen” when I wrote that unfortunate sentence about the force I had put for the success of the gramophone. As my whole action consists of the use of force or forces – except, of course, my writing answers to correspondence which is concrete, but even that I am made to do by and with a force, otherwise I can assure you I would not and could not do it – I sometimes am imprudent enough to make this mistake. It is foolish to do so because a spiritual or any other force is obviously something invisible and its action is invisible, so how can anyone believe in it? Only the results are seen and how is one to know that the results are the result of the Force? It is not concrete.

But I am myself rather puzzled by your instances of the concrete. How are the schemes of a schemer concrete? Something happens and you tell me it was the result of a schemer’s scheme. But the schemer’s scheme was a product of his consciousness and not at all concrete; it was in his mind and another fellow’s mind is not concrete to me unless I am a Yogi or a thought-reader. I can only infer from some things he said or did that he had a scheme, things which I have not myself seen or heard and which are therefore not to me concrete. So how can I accept or believe in the scheme of the schemer? And even if I saw or heard, I am not bound to believe that it was a scheme or that which happened was the result of a scheme. He may have acted on a chain of impulses and what happened may have been the result of something quite different or itself purely accidental. Again, how did you control the music choir? By word and signs etc. which are of course concrete? But what made you use those words and signs and why did they produce a control? And why did the other fellows do what you told them? What made them do that? It was something in your and their consciousness, I suppose; but that is not concrete. Again, scientists talk about electricity which is, it seems, an energy, a force in action and it seems that everything has been done by this energy, my own physical being is constituted by it and it is at the base of all my mental and life energies. But that is not concrete to me. I never felt my being constituted by electricity, I cannot feel it working out my thoughts and life processes – so how can I believe in it or accept it? The force I use is not a sweet blessing – a blessing (silent) certainly is not concrete, like a stone or a kick or other things seizable by the senses; it is not even a mere will saying within me “let it be so” – that also is not concrete. It is a force of consciousness directed towards or on persons and things and happenings – but obviously a force of consciousness is not seizable by the physical senses, so not concrete. I may feel it and the person acted on may feel it or may not feel it, but as the feeling is internal and not external and perceivable by others, it cannot be called concrete and nobody is bound to accept or believe in it. For instance, if I cure someone (without medicines) of a fever and send him fresh and full of strength to his work, all in the course of a single night, still why should any third person believe or accept that it was my force that did it? It may have been Nature or his imagination that made him cure (three cheers for those concrete things, imagination and Nature!) – or the whole thing happened of itself. So, you see the case is hopeless, it can’t be proved at all – at all.

 

December 7, 1935

If I was annoyed, it was with myself for speaking of things which ought to be kept under a cover. I put the whole thing in a light form, no doubt, but the substance was perfectly serious, the intention being to point out that even in ordinary non-spiritual things the action of invisible or of subjective forces was open to doubt and discussion in which there would be no material certitude – while the spiritual force is invisible in itself and also invisible in its action. So it is idle to try to prove that such and such a result was the effect of spiritual force. Each must form his own idea about that – for if it is accepted it cannot be as a result of proof and argument, but only as a result of experience, of faith or of that insight in the heart or the deeper intelligence which looks behind appearances and sees what is behind them. Moreover it would not be seemly for me to appear to be making a claim for myself and pleading for recognition or acceptance – for the spiritual consciousness does not claim in that way, it can state the truth about itself but not fight for a personal acceptance. A general and impersonal statement about spiritual force is another matter, but I doubt whether the time has come for it or whether it could be understood by the mere reasoning intelligence.

As for discussion of such instances as Sarat’s illness, it is a good example of the futility of trying to settle such things by evidence and the statements of people. Sarat regards Ramchandra as Dhanvantari himself? To others in the next breath he has described him as a tyrant who is torturing and killing him by an utter disregard of the facts of his past bodily condition and nature of his present illness. What can be built on such evidence? Ramchandra claims that the cure was due to his Dhanvantarinism? He has also made the statement that Sarat’s cure (which he says is not complete, but only a metamorphosis of a dangerous illness into an ordinary dyspepsia) is still a miracle which he attributes to the intervention of the Mother’s grace. Which statement is the correct one? The partisans of reason will plump for the first one, the partisans of spiritual force for the other. And we are where we were. You will excuse me therefore if I do not go into the Gramophone affair. It was incautious of me to make a statement which can be valid only for myself; I must not make the imprudence worse by seeming to try establish an egoistic claim by farther statements which can also be valid for myself alone.

One or two general statements may perhaps be made. All the world, according to Science, is nothing but a play of Energy – a material Energy it used to be called, but it is now doubted whether Matter, scientifically speaking, exists except as a phenomenon of Energy. All the world, according to Vedanta, is a play of a power of a spiritual entity, the power of an original consciousness, whether it be Maya or Shakti, and the result an illusion or real. In the world so far as man is concerned we are aware only of mind-energy, life-energy, energy in Matter; but it is supposed that there is a spiritual energy or force also behind them from which they originate. All things, in either case, are the results of a Shakti, energy or force. There is no action without a Force or Energy doing the action and bringing about its consequence. Further, anything that has no Force in it is either something dead or something unreal or something inert and without consequence. If there is no such thing as spiritual consciousness, there can be no reality of Yoga, and if there is no Yoga-force, spiritual force, Yoga shakti, then also there can be no effectivity in Yoga. A Yoga-consciousness or spiritual consciousness which has no power or force in it, may not be dead or unreal, but it is evidently something inert and without effect or consequence. Equally, a man who sets out to be a Yogi or Guru and has no spiritual consciousness or no power in his spiritual consciousness – a Yoga-force or spiritual force – is making a false claim and is either a charlatan or a self-deluded imbecile; still more is he so if having no spiritual force he claims to have made a path others can follow. If Yoga is a reality, if spirituality is anything better than a delusion, there must be such a thing as Yoga-force or spiritual force.

It is evident that if spiritual force exists, it must be able to produce spiritual results – therefore there is no irrationality in the claim of those sadhaks who say that they feel the force of the Guru or the force of the Divine working in them and leading towards spiritual fulfilment and experience. Whether it is so or not in a particular case is a personal question, but the statement cannot be denounced as per se incredible and manifestly false, because such things cannot be. Further, if it be true that spiritual force is the original one and the others are derivative from it, then there is no irrationality in supposing that spiritual force can produce mental results, vital results, physical results. It may act through mental, vital or physical energies or [through?] their means, or it may act directly on mind, life or matter as the field of its own special and immediate action. Either way is prima facie possible. In a case of cure or illness, someone is ill for two days, weak, suffering from pains and fever; he takes no medicine, but finally asks for cure from his Guru; the next morning he rises well, strong and energetic. He has at least some justification for thinking that a force has been used on him and put into him and that it was a spiritual power that acted. But in another case, medicines may be used, while at the same time the invisible force may be called for to aid the material means, for it is a known fact that medicines may or may not succeed – there is no certitude. Here for the reason of an outside observer (neither the user of the force nor the Doctor nor the patient) it remains uncertain whether the patient was cured by the medicines only or by the spiritual force with the medicines as an instrument. Either is possible, and it cannot be said that because medicines were used, therefore the working of a spiritual force is per se incredible and demonstrably false. On the other hand, it is possible for the doctor to have felt a force working in him and guiding him or he may see the patient improving with a rapidity which, according to medical science, is incredible. The patient may feel the force working in himself bringing health, energy, rapid cure. The user of the force may watch the results, see the symptoms he works on diminishing, those he did not work upon increasing till he does work on them and then immediately diminishing, the doctor working according to his unspoken suggestions, etc., etc., until the cure is done. (On the other hand, he may see forces working against the cure and conclude that the spiritual force has to be contented with a withdrawal or an imperfect success.) In all that the doctor, the patient or the user of force is justified in believing that the cure is at least partly or even fundamentally due to the spiritual force. Their experience is valid of course for themselves only, not for the outside rationalising observer. But the latter is not logically entitled to say that their experience is incredible and must be false.

Another point. It does not follow that a spiritual force must either succeed in all cases or, if it does not, that proves its non-existence. Of no force can that be said. The force of fire is to burn, but there are things it does not burn; under certain circumstances it does not burn even the feet of the man who walks barefoot on red-hot coals. That does not prove that fire does not burn or that there is no such thing as force of fire, Agni Shakti.

I have no time to write more; it is not necessary either. My object was not to show that spiritual force must be believed in, but that the belief in it is not necessarily a delusion and that belief in it can be rational as well as possible.

 

December 8, 1935

There would be much to say about the ideas you speak of which come so much in your way, more than I can do tonight – as I have the arrears of the week to clear off, if possible, I must leave them to another time. But surely it is rather unreasonable to accept the statement of a man like Sarat when you have so much doubt about Prithwi Singh’s. Men like Anilbaran and Prithwi Singh are not likely to pretend to have experiences they do not have. Harin’s fall after one year’s rapid progress had obvious reasons in his character which do not exist in them. But apart from that the fall of a sadhak from Yoga proves nothing against the truth of spiritual experience. It is well known to all Yogis that a fall is possible and the Gita speaks of it more than once. But how does the fall prove that spiritual experience is not true and genuine? The fall of a man from a great height does not prove that he never reached a great height. The experiences of Prithwi Singh have been those of many others before him and will be those of many others who do not yet have them; I fail to see why the fact of people having them or their intensity or the joy and confidence (not that Prithwi Singh is at all blind to the difficulties in himself or in the sadhana) they give should make them suspect as untrue. As for your great scientist I wonder who he had in mind as spiritual men – so far as I know history both in the east and west there have been any number of spiritual men and mystics who have had a great or fine intellectual capacity or were endowed with a great administrative and organising ability implying a keen knowledge of men and much expenditure of brain power. With a little looking up of the records of the past I think one could collect some hundreds of names – which would not include of course the still greater number not recorded in history or the transmitted memory of the past. It is like the statement of Leonard Woolf that mysticism arises only in periods of lifeless decadence, and it can only be true if intellect is considered as synonymous with a scientific or sceptical intelligence.

But what strange ideas again! – that I was born with a supramental temperament and had never any brain or mind or any acquaintance with human mentality – and that I know nothing of hard realities. Good God! My whole life has been a struggle with hard realities, from struggle and hardships and semi-starvation in England through the fierce difficulties and perils of revolutionary leadership and organisation and activity in India to the far greater difficulties continually cropping up here in Pondicherry, internal and external. My life has been a battle from its early years and is still a battle; the fact that I wage it now from a room upstairs and by spiritual means as well as others that are external makes no difference to its character. But, of course, as we have not been shouting about these things, it is natural, I suppose, for the sadhaks to think I am living in an august, glamorous, lotus-eating dreamland where no hard facts of life or nature present themselves. But what an illusion all the same!

I have written more than I had time for after all, but the main point I have not touched which is the real nature of spiritual life and Yoga – its reality and not the unreal image of it constructed in the minds of people.

 

December 10, 1935

I am reassured that you do understand. Forgive me that doubts come like this. I quite see that it’s the vital’s trick. I won’t trouble you to write at length to me. Only explain that saying of Sri Ramakrishna about gurur kripā [the Guru’s grace]. I have long felt I have got gurur kripā though till now I have seldom felt I have got Krishna’s kripā. But I thought Guru’s kripā will lead to Krishna as Guru and Krishna are really one and Krishna comes as the Guru to facilitate the introduction to himself. I don’t really question your ineffable grace and Mother’s matchless sweetness and the patience of both. But it is a prolonged drought which makes me burst into flashes of impatience. Your power also I cannot possibly doubt, seeing that even Nishikanta who knows so little English can write so many startlingly beautiful expressions in English rhymed free-verse, I should say, for I could not [scan?] his lines metrically.

Free verse (true free verse) is free from both metre and rhyme.

Nevertheless they are startling. I will henceforth try to bleat faith like a docile lamb and not roar doubts like a dying lion.

Good, especially as one must be the lamb of God before being His lion.

 

December 11, 1935

Something thrilling in a sense – metrically. Please note the correspondence of general movement. It is this lilt that came to me – yesterday for “Recapture” – I caught myself pronouncing the lilt (in English) in that Bengali way. Here you will note my scansion. Four syllables to each foot (syllable unit) but a caesura of one syllable at the end of each of the first six lines. Very simple – but extremely delectable to the Bengali ear. Tell me do you see the correspondence of the two lilt? It is strange you know that English lilt can have such a close correspondence. O metre – inscrutable is thy name! But apart from the metre tell me isn’t the whole movement sweet, subtle and delicate? I [?] a great aesthetic joy – for the translation also you will find very close. But alas, this joy is too unqualifiedly aesthetic (due to a kind of metrical tour de force) to be comme il faut from the yogic viewpoint. But seeing that such elation is very difficult to resist for the likes of us you will surely excuse in all solemnity? What?

Very beautiful indeed, the translation and the rhythm exquisite. So thrill away as much as you like!

It is most amazing that after every tension I get such new flashes metrically though! Reminded of Bergson who says: “Life’s unfolding proceeds by tensions followed by evolution.” Is it true that? But whatever you may say against dramas life does corroborate Bergson at least this terrestrial life as it is does. N’est-ce pas? At least somewhat? Eh?

Humph! Such a method is all very well, but one has so much of it in life and in this Ashram that I rather yearn for a smoother unBergsonian evolution. Even if the Lord God and Bergson planned it together, I move an amendment.

 

December 21, 1935

I am keeping the estimate and Meghen’s letter for further examination. I should like to ask certain questions.

(1) When were the last repairs done, how many years ago. You say the man charged 2000? For such a sum repairs should last for ten years at least.

(2) What is the annual amount to which the rent of the house comes.

(3) As to Meghen’s proposal of buying the materials, it is a good one if he or the buyer is well acquainted with building materials, their quality, the state of the market, etc. Will that condition be satisfied in his scheme?

O.K. for the play!

 

December 22, 1935

Last night, after hours of bewildering meditation something rather wonderfullish happened: I started with a galvanized unyogic vitality and penned these four sonnets one after the other finishing the four sonnets in half an hour! A word about its context won’t be amiss I hope?

Sometime back my friend Arindam Bose who stopped with me as the Ashram’s guest, started a series of attacks on the ashramites. I kept quiet for a little while whereafter I hit back with my far-from-ahimsa chaleur.... But the seed of inspiration had then been sown of writing a poem on the raison d’être of an ashram. But tell me, was I wrong in not taking it lying down? You know docility is not my swadharma, don’t you? And about the esoteric truth in the poem?

P.S. You wrote to Nirod the other day: “My aim [in writing or encouraging others to write]154 is not personal glory but to arrive at the expression of spiritual truth and experience of all kinds in poetry.”

Please revise this sentence as this I will quote in my new book Sūryamukhī as I have felt greatly joyous on reading this. This line in fact has prompted me to write about these four sonnets which perhaps I would not have attempted otherwise as it might sound somewhat esoteric as an Ashramitic poem. But tell me how can it be so esoteric? Common ideals bind people in a purer tie of friendship the world over is it not?

So? Qu’en dites-vous?

I suppose the words I have added are necessary to fill out the meaning?

Your four sonnets are very fine. What you have written is an esoteric truth that seeks to realise itself – for common ideals in the human world do not always bind people in friendship; often those who have a common ideal are very far from being united. What you write is the psychic and spiritual truth behind friendship and comradeship in a common aim, what ought to be always. The personality in you which writes poetry knows esoteric things very well and has faith also.

As for Arindam’s utterances, they were evidently secondhand; the voice in this case was Esau’s155, though the mouth that uttered them was Jacob’s. I am glad you gave him the straight and fiery answer.

 

December 23, 1935

I told Mother the figures. She found it scandalous that after spending Rs. 2100 two or three years ago, you should again be asked to spend Rs.1400 now. Usually in Europe house owners put aside one month’s rent in the year for repairs. At that rate 1400 represents ten years; you are asked to spend ten months’ rent after two or three years only. But of course if mosaics are to come in or other palatial features, any expense is possible.

I presume the best thing is to ask Meghen as you propose to use his discretion accepting his figure as a fair amount to spend. But all depends on the actual condition of the house – if doors have to be replaced, that is a costly item. If we had more time we could have asked Chandulal to examine the estimate; although he does not know the Calcutta prices, he might have suggested some points, but as time presses I return the papers.

Mother understands and appreciates very much your wish to surrender and give the houses; but there are certain points to be considered. Sale could be managed, but it is doubtful if it could be done advantageously now. For the rest there is the difficulty of arranging for the management and Mother would not like to take the responsibility without having someone she could entirely trust. Uday Singh is such a man of course, but he has been persistently asking to be relieved of work and responsibilities so that he may come here. Anyhow you can talk of all these things with the Mother when you see her today.

 

December 23, 1935

I have more than once told you you are progressing – certainly much better than your mind is willing to believe. You doubt because it is being pushed on from below the surface both in changes of the inner nature and dream experiences, etc. while your mind is accustomed as yet to look at the most surface results only, and these while they are there, as in this instance, appear like isolated sprouts and do not make an obvious mass to your own eyes. But as you saw in Somnath’s case, they do to men who knew you long ago and have not seen you for some time. A change of spirit is there and a change in the vital – which is preparing the final opening and surrender.

 

December 24, 1935

Your letter is cheering to a great extent. It would have been fully cheering if I could have had the full conviction that it is not so worded to cheer a little. For I somehow feel that such words of good cheer had gone also to Harin and others who at last came to what they came to: all but shipwreck. The reason for this diffidence I could not drive home to you hitherto and that is why I am haunted often by the idea that our Guru is a marvellous superman but not human enough to understand why humans are so sorrowful and what causes them these besetting sorrows: the absence of some abiding peace and restfulness and sense of security in life – a power to be able to feel that the Divine does prop without their being aware of it. When such a sense of loneliness comes the evidence of a Somnath or another gives but scanty succour. But I won’t labour this hackneyed theme. If I revert to it still, it is only to let you know that though I did a lot of japa etc. today I feel again rather amorphous if not exactly sad. It is these ups and downs of the spiritual life – the fugitiveness of joys that cause me so much sadness so often. For one should have thought (which my experience hitherto contradicts) that the spiritual Light would be more abiding than the light of elation of worldly joys. But this I have not been able to impress upon you so far and you have (whenever I have alluded to this absence of concrete realisations which are somewhat enduring) resorted to Socratic dialectics to corner me and prove that nothing after all is concrete. Of course I can’t cope with you in penmanship – but still the fact doth remain O Guru, that the heart wants some abiding peace, some feeling of Divine guidance, some lifting of the veil which blinds, some enlargement of the vision which gives a sense of unity with and meaning to the world of senses, and above all a feeling of love outflowing within one. Instead of all that there is a continuous tussle with one’s doubts and shortcomings, etc. and a desolate conviction that one can’t merit the Divine joy, grace, etc. unless one is wholly blemishless. Even that would be somewhat supportable had one seen that it is so with all. But as I saw it is not so with many unfaulty people who come here for a short while and go back to the world. They have the feeling of Mother’s guidance and force and experiences to speak about with great exaltation which I do believe to be genuine, at least with some (though about Harin’s exaltations galore you will surely forgive me now if I beg to retain my old doubts – I had never believed he was truthful when he used to brag so right and left) and do envy these fortunate souls. Anyhow I won’t give vent to these anymore but try to dwell on the comforting fact that Mother and you at least have some love for me and that my loyalty to you, if not inner surrender, is genuine as I found yesterday for which I am indeed grateful to the Divine or Krishna or whoever it is that constantly lures but always eludes in a rather disheartening way to say the least. But I will try not to lament more, but aspire for faith and patience, since there is no other way. But I thank you for your kind and well-meaning assurance that I progress all the more gratefully because I see my difficulties remain and the heart finds only very short-lived feelings of rest and security as ever. Anyhow –

I write according to my knowledge of the processes of sadhana which being a thing spiritual works within and not only by surface means. If my knowledge is wrong or imperfect, so be it; but what I write is never a “well-meaning” insincerity or falsehood, that much I can state.

I hope that you will soon acquire the faith and patience for which you aspire and these oscillations cease. For me the path of Yoga has always been a battle as well as a journey, a thing of ups and downs, of light followed by darkness, followed by a greater light – but nobody is better pleased than myself when a disciple can arrive out of all that to the smooth and clear path which the human physical mind quite rightly yearns for!

 

December 24, 1935

Accustomed as I am to the misunderstanding or misreporting of the Mother’s statements, I found that this about her having said that transformation is easy carries the habit to the extreme limit. Needless to say, she did not and could not say anything of the kind and it is astonishing that you should believe she could say anything so absurd and false. I must remind you that I have always insisted on the difficulty of the sadhana. I have never said that to overcome doubt is easy; I have said on the contrary that it was difficult because it was the nature of something in the human physical mind to cling to doubt for its own sake. I have never said that to overcome grief, depression, gloom and suffering was easy; I have said that it was difficult because something in the human vital clings to it and almost needs it as part of the drama of life. So also I have never said that sex, anger, jealousy, etc. were easy to overcome, I have said it was difficult because they were ingrained in the human vital, and, even if thrown out were always being brought back into it either by its own habit or by the invasion of the general Nature and the resurgence of its own old response156. [These things I have repeated hundreds of times. Your idea that my difficulties were different from those of human nature is a mental construction or inference without any real basis. If I were ignorant of human difficulties and therefore intolerant of them, how is it that I am so patient with them as I think you cannot deny that I am? Why for years and years do I go on patiently arguing with your doubts, spending so much of my time, always trying to throw light on your difficulties, to show how things stand, to give reasons for a knowledge gained by living and indiscutable experience? Am I writing these letters every night because I have no understanding and no sympathy with you in your doubts and difficulties? Why do I wait patiently for years for sadhaks to get over their sex difficulties? Why do I tolerate and help and write soothing and encouraging letters to those women who break out and hunger-strike and threaten suicide once a fortnight? Why do we bear all this trouble and tracas and fracas and resistance and obloquy and harsh criticism from the sadhaks, why were we so patient with men like Bejoy and Harin and others, if we had no understanding and no sympathy with the difficulties of human nature? It is because I press always on faith and discourage doubt as a means of approach to the spiritual realisation? What spiritual guide with a respect for truth can do otherwise? And if I encourage and support doubt the only result will be that doubt will last forever and no [outward?] realisation be possible – just as if I encourage and support sex or any other contrary movement it will last for ever – even without that they last quite long enough by their own force and motion. All that I can do for them is to tolerate and be patient and give time enough for their transformation or removal. Surely when you look at all this fairly, you will see that you have made a very incorrect inference.]

As to the statement about drama and something liking to suffer, nobody doubts that your external consciousness dislikes its suffering. The physical mind and consciousness of man hates its own suffering and if left to itself dislikes also to see others suffer. But if you will try to fathom the significance of your own admission of liking drama or of the turn towards drama – from which very few human beings escape – and if you go deep enough, you will find that there is something in the vital which likes suffering and clings to it for the sake of the drama; it is something below the surface, not on the surface, but it is strong, almost universal in human nature and difficult to eradicate unless one recognises it and gets inwardly away from it. The mind and the physical of man do not like suffering, for if they did, it would not be suffering any longer, but this thing in the vital wants it in order to give a spice to life. It is the reason why constant depressions can go on returning and returning even though the mind longs to get rid of them, because this in the vital responds, goes on repeating the same movement like a gramophone as soon as it is got going and insists on turning the whole round of the often repeated record. It does not really depend on the reasons which the vital gives for starting off to the round, these are often of the most trivial character and wholly insufficient to justify it. It is only by a strong will to detach oneself, not to justify, to reject, not to welcome that one can in the end get rid of this most troublesome and dangerous streak in human nature. When therefore we speak of the vital comedy, the vital drama, we are speaking from a psychological knowledge which does not end with the surface of things but looks at these hidden movements. It is impossible to deal with things for the purposes of Yoga if we confine ourselves to the surface consciousness only.

Each of the points you have touched in your letter need a long handling to be properly understood – so I have no time for the rest tonight. Tomorrow I shall try to write about Ramakrishna’s statement and how far it is true and afterwards about Prithwisingh’s ideas which raise very large questions and in connection with that with your Kabiraj’s guru and other gurus. Provided of course I am given the time.

 

December 1935

I think this saying of Ramakrishna’s157 expresses a certain characteristic happening in sadhana and cannot be interpreted in a general and absolute sense; for in that sense it is hard for it to be true. All difficulties disappearing in a minute? Well, Vivekananda had the grace of Ramakrishna from the beginning, but I think his difficulty of doubt lasted for some time and to the end of his life the difficulty of the control of anger was there – making him say that all that was good in him was his Guru’s gift, but these things (anger etc.) were his own property. But what could be true is that the central difficulty may disappear by a certain touch between the Guru and the disciple. But what is meant by the kṛpā? If it is the general compassion and grace of the Guru, that, one would think, is always there on the disciple; his acceptance itself is an act of grace and the help is there for him to receive. But the touch of grace, divine grace, coming directly or through the Guru is a special phenomenon having two sides to it, the grace of the Guru or the Divine, in fact both together, on one side and a “state of grace” in the disciple on the other. This “state of grace” is often prepared by a long tapasya or purification in which nothing decisive seems to happen, only touches or glimpses or passing experiences at the most, and comes suddenly without warning. If this is what is spoken of in Ramakrishna’s saying, then it is true that when it comes, the fundamental difficulties can in a moment and generally do disappear. Or, at the very least, something happens which makes the rest of the sadhana – however long it may take – sure and secure.

This decisive touch comes most easily to the “baby cat” people, those who have at some point between the psychic and the emotional vital a quick and decisive movement of surrender to the Guru or the Divine. I have seen that when that is there and there is the conscious central dependence compelling the mind also and the rest of the vital, then the fundamental difficulty disappears. If others remain they are not felt as difficulties, but simply as things that have just to be done and need cause no worry. Sometimes no tapasya is necessary – one just refers things to the Power that one feels guiding or doing the sadhana and assents to its action, rejecting all that is contrary to it, and the Power removes what has to be removed or changes what has to be changed, quickly or slowly – but the quickness or slowness does not seem to matter since one is sure that it will be done. If tapasya is necessary, it is done with so much feeling of a strong support that there is nothing hard or austere in the tapasya.

For the others, the “baby monkey” type or those who are still more independent, following their own ideas, doing their own sadhana, asking only for some instruction or help, the grace of the Guru is there, but it acts according to the nature of the sadhak and counts upon his effort to a greater or less degree; it helps, succours in difficulty, saves in the time of danger, but the disciple is not always, is perhaps hardly at all aware of what is being done as he is absorbed in himself and his endeavour. In such cases the decisive psychological movement, the touch that makes all clear, may take longer to come.

But with all the kṛpā is there working in one way or another and it can only abandon the disciple if the disciple himself abandons or rejects it – by decisive and definitive revolt, by rejection of the Guru, by cutting the painter and declaring his independence, as X and others did, or by an act or course of betrayal that severs him from his own psychic being. Even then, except perhaps in the last case if it goes to an extreme, a return to grace is not impossible.

That is my own knowledge and experience of the matter. But as to what lay behind Ramakrishna’s saying and whether he himself meant it to be a general and absolute statement – I do not pronounce.

 

December 25, 1935

It is the usual fit and the same round of thoughts mechanically repeated that you always get in those fits. These thoughts have no light in them and no truth, for the physical mind which engenders this routine wheel of suggestions is shut up in surface appearances and knows nothing of deeper truth or the things of the spirit. There is plenty of “increment”, but with this superficial part of the physical mind it is not likely or possible that you can see it. Your impression of the dwindling light is also an impression of this mind natural to it, especially in its periods of darkness; for that matter when the periods of darkness come to any sadhak they always seem darker than before; that is the nature of the darkness to give that impression always. It is also quite according to the rule of these reactions that it should have come immediately after a considerable progress in bhakti and the will to surrender in the inner being – for it comes from the spirit of darkness which attacks the sadhak whenever it can, and that spirit resents fiercely all progress made and hates the very idea of progress and its whole policy is to convince him by its attacks and suggestions that he has made none or that what progress he has made is after all null and inconclusive.

I admired Harin’s insight into truth like a devotee? or perhaps like a disciple? Truly, I am astonished... What we admired in him was his receptivity to experience and his power of poetic expression of what he received and nothing more. Once indeed I got through his thinking mind’s resistance and he was beginning to express, not by ordered thought but by inspiration, a deeper truth, but only for a short time. As for his idea of the Divine being bound or a hostage to law as much as Harin himself or his cat158, that was an old idea of his written in his poems long before he came here, an idea that can be accepted only by those who are unable to think philosophically or make the necessary spiritual distinctions. The laws of this world as it is are the laws of the Ignorance and the Divine in the world maintains them so long as there is the Ignorance – if He did not, the universe would crumble to pieces – utsīdeyur ime lokāḥ, as the Gita puts it159. There are also, very naturally, conditions for getting out of the Ignorance into the Light. One of them is that the mind of the sadhak should co-operate with the Truth and that his will should co-operate with the Divine Power which, however slow its action may seem to the vital or to the physical mind, is uplifting the nature towards the Light. When that co-operation is complete, then the progress can be rapid enough; but the sadhak should not grudge the time and labour needed to make that co-operation fully possible to the blindness and weakness of human nature and effective.

All the call for faith, sincerity, surrender is only an invitation to make that co-operation more easily possible. If the physical mind ceases to judge all things including those that it does not know or are beyond it, like the deeper things of the spirit, then it becomes easier for it to receive the Light and know by illumination and experience the things that it does not yet know. If the mental and vital will place themselves in the Divine Hand without reservation, then it is easier for the Power to work and produce tangible effects. If there is resistance, then it is natural that it should take more time and the work should be done from within or, as it might appear, underground so as to prepare the nature and undermine the resistance. It seems to me that the demand for patience is not so terribly unreasonable.

 

December 1935 (?)

Well, what an amazing mass of extraordinary mental constructions you have built up about the Mother and myself! The Mother is a great Yogi of a rather grave and impersonal type? I am Vedantic and vast and cosmic and impersonal and what not! What not indeed! Nothing is impossible after that!! However, I won’t protest – for mental constructions are to the mind like his favourite productions to an author, the more you criticise them the more the mind clings to them. Let me point out however by example how they came unnecessarily in your way and how very unnecessarily you let them do that, so that my insistence – in The Mother or elsewhere in getting rid of mental constructions is not so groundless after all. The Mother told you very simply that if you prayed to her (your prayers to Krishna having, according to you, no effect) you would have received greater help. That was simply to help you – she is here close to you and the others and any number here have received help by calling to her simply and directly of course without any questions or misgivings. Even now there are several who are emerging out of the same illness as yours, a habit of many years of long attacks of black despondency with the usual round of suggestions, “unfitness, this Yoga hopeless for me, no response, no experience, the Divine does not love me, Mother is distant and far, how long can I go on, how can any one live like this, running away, suicide, etc.,” and they are emerging because they have suddenly managed to turn simply and directly towards her. So what the Mother said was not something unfounded and a mere idea of hers. But it was simply a suggestion to help you. How did your mind come to the conclusion that it was a command to be followed on pain of displeasure, spiritual hanging or rejection and exile? The habit of mental constructions, that is all. Fear? But the fear itself is a mental construction which could have no such foundation if you had remembered the constant indulgence and patience the Mother has always shown to you... [incomplete]

 

December 26, 1935

Your long letter to hand; I fear it is full of confusions and fallacies and mixing up of things that are very desperate. I felt inclined to go for you with a logical club, knock you down, roll you over and generally wipe the [mental?] floor with you; but it would have been a long operation and I am drowned today with urgent things. I have to finish an answer to some questions put to me by Madame P. (the half-finished answer to which was lying with me for a week), as she is soon going; other things also that have waited for still longer but refuse to wait any more. I shall see from tomorrow whether some kind of more compact unravelling of your mental perplexities and confusions can’t be managed by a stern self-suppression of my more aggressive instincts. Read the letter and diary of your friend – beautifully idealistic, but it does not make allowance for the hard struggle of the spiritual emergence and leaps to fulfilment with a too radiant and ethereal sweep. But the musical analysis is very interesting and much more illuminative than the superficialities one ordinarily comes across. By the way did you hear of the Governor’s comment on the music to Pavitra, “I have listened to much Indian music, but never to anything that could at all equal that!” A thoroughgoing eulogy – what? and obviously sincere.

 

December 27, 1935

(from Mother)

Un mot pour vous dire que je suis très touchée par votre décision et que j’en profiterai pour prendre du repos comme vous me le demandez.

Vous pouvez être assuré que ma force est affectueusement avec vous et le sera toujours dans votre effort vers les hauteurs spirituelles.

P.S. Je vous demanderai de ne montrer ce petit mot à personne, car je ne tiens pas à une exposition de mes sentiments.

[A word to tell you that I am very touched by your decision and I will take this opportunity to take rest as you ask me.

You can rest assured that my force is affectionately with you and will ever be in your endeavour towards the spiritual heights.

P.S. I would ask you not to show this small note to anybody, as I am not keen to expose my feelings.]

 

December 30, 1935

A fine poem. Self-offering is never easy, but when the soul desires it, the rest is sure to follow, whatever the obstacles. I have written to Prithwi Singh tonight160.

I was not able to complete the letter as I had hoped tonight, but have made some headway. Apart from the pressure of other things and lack of time, the presentation of the subject is difficult, because what I have to say about it is new – not the old conventional idea of a departure from life into a state of consciousness which has nothing to do with life; for that is a very easy view to put forward and the questions you raise do not at all arise under it, since it is then a matter only of getting out of all life activity and not of transforming it. It is difficult to express what I have to say adequately without spreading oneself out a little, so it is getting longer than I expected – taking a bigger stretch of space and time. You will not mind that since it means a clearer and fuller statement of the whole affair.

 

Appendix

July 5, 1932

It may be philosophic to say nothing about the loss, though that would depend on the philosophy – and the philosopher; but it is perhaps more practical to make a row so that the gentleman of the bathroom may not be tempted to repeat his joke. We are not out to imitate the bishop of the “Misérables” or the Sannyasi who ran after the thief to make him a present of his remaining vessels.

It is best however to ascertain first the probabilities. I am asking Kodandarama who is the new scavenger in question (we knew all our facts) and asking him too to make enquiries personally.

 

July 2, 1932

It is certainly “symphony” and not “sympathy”; I don’t know whether the transformation was due to a slip of my pen or to a slip of Nolini’s typing finger.

The sonnet is a good one with a very effective clinching couplet; but I do not find the subject mundane.

I admit that the world is full of Houses and uncles, but I cherish in spite of them a hope that it will change. House after all is only staving off destiny with a broom handle and in doing so he is just acting “according to the nature of the beast” in the end his speeches do not very much matter. I hope there is no foundation for the suspicion about Subhash.

My “poem” is not a poem, but an episode in “Savitri, a legend and a symbol” and covers several hundred lines. I was putting it in shape but was interrupted by a hundred things – for the present by the necessity of preparing “The Yoga of Divine Works” (Synthesis of Yoga, Vol. III) for publication. When it is finished I hope to complete the episode.

 

Undated

Moni’s “poem” is of a very inferior stuff and certainly not the kind of writing that ought to come from here, but it does not pass the last limits. I have, at least hitherto, been tolerant up to a certain point, leaving the rest to people’s own evolution. But sometimes they seem to evolve in the wrong direction; I suppose I shall have to be more strict as to certain things in the future.

Your poem shows always an increasing power to express thought and feeling with subtlety (both of rhythm and expression) and ease and force. Certainly, to express is not all; but I am not inclined to regard it dubiously – done in the right way and from the right source, it helps to bring out what is in the inner being and to clarify the rest.

As for the “meannesses,” they are the very substance of these movements of the nature – I refer to that range of the “little vital” which is occupied with philandering on one side and the animal passion on the other (these are the two borders of one and the same region); it is a part of the nature in which... [incomplete]

 

Undated

Well, I don’t know that I want you to go as far as Anilbaran or give up speaking and singing! One Anilbaran is enough for a single Ashram and variety can be the spice of Yoga as well as of life.

But what is the matter with Bejoy Chatterji161? This fantastic case has lifted him up beyond earthly realities? Or he has been taking bhang with the Sannyasis? Whence these stupendous imaginations? You might suggest to him that if he wants to invite the Kutch river or the mountain Chitrakoot to Calcutta to preside over this affair, he need not be shy about it – perhaps they might consent. As for myself, I am trying to have a vision of myself presiding over a Congress of all religions. God! before it was well on its way I would have evaporated into the formless (and Congressless) Brahman. As such evaporation is not in my programme, I must unregretfully decline.

 

Undated

(...) As for facts each mind always arranges them in its own way. It is a well-known phenomenon which psychologists constantly emphasise that each mind arranges facts according to its own impressions, predilections, convenience and while this may be partly done with a conscious twist, conscious omissions and additions, it is quite or as often and more often done without any wilful intentions, and by a sort of subconscious selection in the mental hinterland. That is why no three witnesses of an incident can give the same account of it – unless of course they have talked it over together – each tells a different story.

 

Undated

(...) When he speaks of his power in him and his self-surrender, well! one can only wish that if and when people are so wonderful, they should be less eloquent about their wonderfulness. One never knows to what this excessive self-appreciation will lead and the past examples do not encourage. (...)

 

Undated

Re. Dilip’s note: As to who tempts first – man or woman? I quoted from Addison’s Sir Roger de Coverlay who used to say, importantly in every blessed controversy,

“Much can be said on both sides.”

It is six of one and half-a-dozen of the other. To throw it all on the woman is Adamism. To ignore the man’s part is feminism. Both are in error. Sir Roger was right.

 

Undated

Is it that the body does not accept the sex-thoughts and desires? If so, you are entitled to reject it as something external to you or at most existing only in the subconscient. For it is only what something in us accepts, supports, takes pleasure in, or still mechanically responds to, that can still be called ours. If there is nothing of that, it belongs to general Nature but not to us. Of course, it returns and tries to take possession of its lost territory, but that is a foreign invasion. The rule of these things is that they have to be extruded outside the individual consciousness. Rejected by the mind and higher vital, they still try to hold on to the lower vital and physical. Rejected from the lower vital, they still hold the body by a physical desire. Rejected from the body, they retire into the environmental consciousness (sometimes into the subconscient also, rising in dreams) – I mean by the environmental a sort of surrounding atmosphere which we carry about with us and by which we communicate with the universal forces – and try to invade from there. Rejected from there, they become in the end too weak to be more than external suggestions till that too ends – and they are finished and nonexistent.

You need not think that anything can alter our attitude towards you. That which is extended to you is not a vital human love which can be altered by external things: it remains and persistently we shall try to help and lift you up and lead you towards the Light where in the union of soul and heart you will recognise the Friend and the Mother.

 

1 A colonist from Immortality...

A treasurer of superhuman dreams (Savitri 1, III)

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2 Sri Aurobindo Came to Me, 2nd edition, p.263.

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3 Sri Aurobindo and Mother to Prithwi Singh, Dec. 1, 1935.

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4 nikhilarasāmṛta mūrti: literally, a form made up of the nectarous essence of universal delight.

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5 Goloka: the Vaishnava heaven of eternal Beauty and Bliss.

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6 Akṣara Brahman: imperishable, unchanging Brahman.

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7 kaviḥ purāṇaḥ: the ancient poet.

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8 The heads of the Ashram’s various departments used to report their day’s work in notebooks to Mother and Sri Aurobindo. At the same time they also presented their work problems or problems of sadhana. Nirod, for example, used to send three notebooks: personal, literary and, as he was the resident doctor, medical.

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9 We don’t really know what happened. But, in fact, Sri Aurobindo often refers to Hitler and Mussolini in subsequent letters. For it was the period when the Dark was rising. Personified in Hitler, and in Mussolini to some extent, the nazi and fascist forces were gathering strength, soon to burst brutally over the world, unleashing the unspeakable Horror of the Dark.

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10 The following passage within brackets has been omitted from the version published in the Centenary Edition (1972).

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11 Embarras du choix: in French, “too great a choice”.

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12 Amiya: Sahana’s elder sister.

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13 Birendra Kishore Roy Chowdhury, Zamindar of Gouripur, East Bengal. A veteran sarod player and Dilip’s close friend.

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14 The published version of this letter (in the 1972 Centenary Edition) continues with the following passage (perhaps added later by Sri Aurobindo): “But these injustices of the moment do not endure – in the end a wise and fair estimate is formed and survives the changes of time.”

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15 Dilip was teaching poetics to a group among whom were Nirod, his niece Jyotirmayi, Sahana and others. In a letter (21 March 1934) to Nirod, Sri Aurobindo touched on the subject. “Your poems are well enough – but for both J and yourself, what has to be seen is whether it comes to something original and substantial. At present what both are doing is only prentice-work.”

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16 Ramdas: a great devotee of Ram and saint of Kanhangad near Mangalore, who got spiritual inspiration from Raman Maharshi and attained a great spiritual height by becoming a Sannyasi and repeating Ram mantra. Dilip wrote, “Years ago, I had visited Ramdas’s ashram and had been captivated by his radiant personality, flawless sincerity and unalterable purity of character.” (D.K. Roy & Indira Devi, Pilgrims of the Stars)

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17 Sri Aurobindo’s own experience in Alipore jail.

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18 Harindranath Chattopadhyay (1897-1990), a poet and cinema actor, brother of Mrinalini Chattopadhyay and Sarojini Naidu. Husband of Kamala Devi Chattopadhyay.

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19 akṣaravṛtta: system of versification in which the number of letters and not the sounds is taken into account.

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20 Vairāgya: disgust or distaste for the worldly life.

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21 K.D. Sethna (1904), a Parsi poet and critic.

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22 Parichay: a Bengali magazine.

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23 mātrā-vṛtta: system of metrical measure depending on differentiating alphabetical letters into long and short. A mātrā is a prosodial or syllabic instant, the time required to pronounce a short vowel.

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24 Jivanmukta: a living liberated being.

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25 We do not know what was Sri Aurobindo’s “condition”. But Nolini’s proposal was to translate Sri Aurobindo’s Six Poems into Bengali, and offer them to him in a small printed booklet. The translators were: Anilbaran Roy (“Shiva”), Behari Barua (“Jivanmukta”), Dilip (“Trance”), Moni (“The Life Heavens”), Nolini ( “The Bird of Fire”) and Sahana (“In Horis Aeternum”).

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26 Dilip had sent to Sri Aurobindo a passage (in French) from The Confessions of St. Augustine.

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27 Nag Mahashoy: a householder disciple of Sri Ramakrishna’s.

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28 Māyāvādin: one for whom the world is an illusion.

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29 The following passages within brackets have been omitted from the version published in the Centenary Edition (1972).

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30 Bhāgavat: an old and widely read Purana dealing with the life of Sri Krishna and his devotees.

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31 Purāṇas: sacred works composed by Vyasa, eighteen in number, which contain the whole of Hindu mythology and ancient legendary history.

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32 (Dilip’s note:) Dhruba Sundara, that is, “Beauty in the Concrete” (published in Madhu-Murali, IAP Publication).

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33 Ordhendra Kumar Gangopadhyay (1.8.1881 – 9.2.1974), himself a good artist and musician, he is better known as an art-critic. Although he was a practising lawyer, art was his first love. As the general secretary of the Indian Society of Oriental Art, the Rupam magazine stands testimony to his brilliance. In countries like China and Burma (Myanmar), he gave lectures on Indian Art. Among the many books he wrote on art, are: Vedic Painting, South Indian Bronze, Masterpiece of Rajput Paintings, and his research work on music, Ragas and Raginis.

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34 viraha: separation, absence of the divine Lover.

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35 Brahmānanda: bliss of absorption into Brahman.

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36 śarīra ananda: ananda in the body.

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37 Fenêtres: name of a house.

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38 Maya was Dilip’s only sister. She was married to Sri Bhava Shankar Banerjee, the only son of Sir Surendranath Banerjee, the great nationalist leader. They mostly lived in Barrackpur, near Kolkata.

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39 Vibhūtis: incarnations of a particular power of a deity.

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40 Vānara: monkey. Rākṣasa: hostile being of the middle vital plane; a being of vital hunger; the violent kinetic Ego; the fierce giant Powers of darkness; the Veilers in Night.

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41 Kṣatriya: ruler, warrior class.

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42 Harishchandra: a King of the solar dynasty, son of Trisanku, reputed for his unique truthfulness and integrity.

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43 Shivi: the son of Usinara, this king was put to test by Indra and the gods; Indra took the form of a kite and Agni took the form of a dove. The dove, chased by the kite sought refuge with Shivi. The kite asked the king to give back its prey, but the latter refused since it was his duty to protect the dove and offered instead any other flesh. The kite then asked for a piece of the king’s right thigh equal in weight to that of the dove. Shivi cut a piece, but its weight was insufficient; he kept on adding pieces of his own flesh, but the dove was still heavier. The king then offered himself in the balance. Seeing that Agni and Indra blessed the king for his firm sense of sacrifice.

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44 Bejoy Krishna Goswami (2.8.1841-1899), was born at Shantipur in Bengal, and was a descendant of Adwaitacharya. He was married to Yogmaya Devi and became a brahmo. After he started his Yoga and was told by his guru that he could give dīkṣā to others, he went out of the Brahmo Samaj, and later founded an ashram near Dacca. At the end of his life he became a Vaishnav. He wrote a book called Prashnottor [Questions and Answers].

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45 (Sri Aurobindo’s note:) Haradhan owes nothing to me except his “philosophy” – in his faith in himself etc., he is his own creator – a self-made man. And do you mean to say that because faith is misused by Haradhan or others, it is not to be used at all? If electricity is bungled by an ignoramus, must electricity be rejected from use?

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46 māyāmṛga: a magical golden deer which enticed Sita in the Ramayana. Sita requests Rama to catch the deer for her and in his absence, she is abducted by Ravana.

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47 Sattva, Rajas and Tamas are the three guṇas (qualities or modes) of everything in the nature. Sattva is the mode of light and poise and peace. Rajas is the mode of action, desire and passion. Tamas is the mode of ignorance and inertia, the force of inconscience.

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48 Vaishnavas: devotees of Vishnu.

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49 Thoughts and Glimpses.

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50 Sarat Chandra Chatterji (15.9.1876-16.1.1938), the famous Bengali novelist and short story writer.

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51 See Letters on Yoga, Cent. Ed., p. 770.

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52 4 Arts Annual 1935, printed and published by Haren Ghosh.

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53 The Mother, Chapter 2.

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54 Donne, John (1572-1631). Dean of St. Paul’s; preacher and metaphysical poet; author of satires, epistles and elegies.

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55 Vaughan, Henry (1622-1695). A Welsh metaphysical poet and mystic.

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56 Crashaw, Richard (1613-1649). English poet of metaphysical inspiration.

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57 Francis Thompson (1859-1907): English poet, author of “Hound of Heaven”.

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58 Blake, William (1757-1827). English poet, painter and mystic.

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59 Esha: Maya’s daughter.

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60 Adhar Das: a Professor of Philosophy at Calcutta University.

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61 The typed letter continues with the following passage: “If and so far as publicity serves the Truth, I am quite ready to tolerate it; but I do not find publicity for its own sake desirable.” On Himself, Cent. Ed., p. 376.

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62 Girijapati Bhattacharya (1883-1981) was one of the co-founders of Parichay. He wrote many articles and reviews. He was also a hunter and expert in photography, painting, music and flowers.

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63 laghu guru: metrical system, literally “short-long”.

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64 Housman, Alfred Edward (1859-1936), English classical scholar and lyric poet.

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65 The published version of this letter continues with the following passage (perhaps added later by Sri Aurobindo): “There may be exceptions, for there is hardly a rule without exceptions, but this is, I think, generally true.”

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66 Sahid Suhrawardy, a Bengali poet and a cultured man, was Dilip’s friend. He graduated from the Calcutta University with honors in 1910 and from Oxford in 1914. He became secretary to the Artistic section of the League of Nations. Later on he became Nizam Professor of Indian Studies at Vishvabharati, and then Bageswari Professor of Comparative Arts at Calcutta University. He gave brilliant lectures from 1923 to 1943. After Partition, he went to Pakistan and became Pakistan’s ambassador to Spain in 1955.

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67 For the reader: Here is in Dilip’s own words, what happened when he first met Baradakanta Majumdar at Lalgola, in the Murshidabad district of Bengal.

«When I told him about my groping in darkness for a clue to light he asked me to sit down and meditate with him. ‘I will find out about it,’ he said somewhat cryptically.

«I was not a little intrigued and tried in vain to meditate with him. What is he going to find out, I kept asking myself as he went off into a samadhi.

«After about a half-hour he came to and said without ado that I must on no account accept anybody other than Sri Aurobindo as my guru. On my telling him that Sri Aurobindo had turned me away he shook his head categorically and said: ‘No he hasn’t.’

«‘How do you mean?’ I said, utterly at a loss.

«‘I mean what I say.’

«‘But Sri Aurobindo told me himself –’

«‘No, Dilip Kumar,’ he cut in, ‘he has accepted you already – he told me this himself just now.’

«I was nonplussed and started wondering whether it was all a hoax or I was daydreaming.

«He looked kindly at me.

«‘As you disbelieve my assurance,’ he smiled, ‘I will give you a proof. Have you got a chronic pain in your right abdomen?’

«‘I have,’ I said, startled. ‘It’s a hernia.’

«‘I know. Now tell me: didn’t Sri Aurobindo tell you to undergo an operation before you entered the path of Yoga?’

«I was dumbfounded, for Sri Aurobindo had written to me in 1924 those identical words.» (Pilgrims of the Stars, first edition, Macmillan Publishing Co. Inc.)

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68 Bichitra: a Bengali magazine edited by Sri Upendra Nath Gangopadhyay. All eminent writers of Bengal used to contribute to this magazine, including Sarat Chandra Chatterji, Rabindranath Tagore and others.

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69 Raskāna: devoid of the sense of Rasa. Rasa is savour, a sentiment expressed or flavour contained in a writing.

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

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71 Kabiraj Gopinath: a profound scholar of Indian philosophy and an explorer of the realms of consciousness, Gopinath Kabiraj (1887-1976) was born in the district of Dacca in East Bengal. He first studied in Jaipur and then in the Government Sanskrit college of Vanarasi under Dr. Arthur Venis. The latter recognized his student’s capability and offered him the post of Librarian after he passed his M. A. examination in 1914. There Gopinath Kabiraj could carry out his research and he was appointed Principal of the College later. He published more than seventy works. He was a disciple of Swami Vishuddhananda Paramahansa.

He had a personal relationship with Dilip Kumar Roy and they exchanged letters. He spent the last years of his life in Mata Anandamayi’s ashram at Bhadaini on the banks of the Ganges.

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72 Barindra Kumar Ghose: Sri Aurobindo’s younger brother, a revolutionary who was interned at the Andaman islands for about a decade, in the famous Alipore Bomb Case. Then lived for a few years in Pondicherry with Sri Aurobindo. In 1928 he went back to Bengal.

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73 Rakṣasas, Piśācas, Pramathas: hostile beings and demons.

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74 et hoc genus omne: latin for “and the whole tribe”.

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75 Praswānī is a mixture of mātrā-vṛtta and laghu guru.

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76 Prabodh Sen: famous exponent and an authority on Bengali metre.

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77 sragdharā: a type of Sanskrit chhanda.

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78 In the published version of this letter (Centenary Edition) the following phrase is included hereafter: “Anything that carries the Word, the Light in it, spoken or written, can light this fire within, open a sky, as it were, bring the effective vision of which the Word is the body.”

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79 Arjava: John Chadwick, an English poet who came to the Ashram in 1930 from Lucknow where he was a lecturer in Philosophy.

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80 Anāmi: a collection of poems published by Dilip in 1933.

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81 “I have lost all wish for my salvation, may I be born again and again and suffer thousands of miseries so that I may worship the only God that exists, the only God I believe in, the sum-total of all souls – and above all, my God the wicked, my God the miserable, my God the poor of all races, of all species is the special object of my worship. He who is the high and low, the saint and the sinner, the god and the worm, Him worship, the visible, the knowable, the real, the omnipresent; break all other idols. In whom there is neither past life nor future birth, nor death nor going nor coming, in whom we always have been and always will be one, Him worship; break all other idols.” (From a letter of Swami Vivekananda; quoted by Sri Aurobindo in The Synthesis of Yoga, Centenary Edition, 1972, pp. 257-58)

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82 sarva-bhūtāni: all creatures.

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83 daridrer sevā: service to the poor.

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84 Old house: the Library House, where Dilip first met Sri Aurobindo in 1924.

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85 prāyopaveśan: fasting oneself to death.

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86 Ardhendu Bhattacharya (22.1.1904-23.6.1987). A chemist by profession, he was a musician by inclination. A fine sitarist, he played sarod also.

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87 Tambura: a stringed musical instrument.

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88 Christ of the Indian Road.

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89 It is a pity not to have found Dilip’s poem. The poem is published in the Centenary Edition, Vol.5, p. 594 with a few alterations.

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90 Neurasthenia: a general term for fatigue, anxiety, listlessness, etc. (Complete Wordfinder, Reader’s Digest Oxford, 1996).

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91 Shanta: a Gujarati lady disciple.

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92 Narasimha: the man-lion incarnation of Vishnu. Hiranyakashipu, the Asura king, persecuted his son Prahlada who adored Vishnu, his sworn enemy. So Narasihma finally held Hiranyakashipu and with his nails cut open his stomach and pulled out his entrails.

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93 Meherwan Sheriar Irani (1894-1969) was born in Pune from parents of Persian origin. He had his first experience of “God-realization” in 1913, while in College. Later on he trained disciples and travelled with them in India and Iran, then established a retreat near Ahmednagar. He released a large volume of works on the spiritual theme of human life. In 1925 he went into silence and in 1927 he stopped writing, in the end communicating through his own system of representative gestures.

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94 (Sri Aurobindo’s note:) One may have the experiences on the mental plane without this knowledge coming – for there Mind and Idea predominate and one does not feel the play of Forces – it is only in the vital that that becomes clear. In the mind plane they manifest at most as mental suggestions and not as concrete Powers. Also, if one looks at things with the Mind only (even though it be the inner Mind), one may see the subtle play of Nature-forces but without recognising the conscious intention which we call hostile.

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95 Chandulal: the Ashram engineer.

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96 Dayakar: a seven-year-old Telugu boy, from Nellore, in Andhra Pradesh. His mother is Krishnamma and his father Rama Reddy, or Satyakarma, became the Ashram’s treasurer.

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97 Manodhar: a Bengali sadhak, the Ashram’s barber.

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98 Sita: Harin’s companion.

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99 Radhananda or Shuddhananda Bharati was born in 1893 in Tamil Nadu. He studied Tamil literature in-depth and soon flowered into a poet and composer. He lived in the Ashram for over a decade, during which he observed silence and lived on uncooked food. He also learnt French and translated many works into Tamil.

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100 Haradhan hailed from Chandernagore. He was a soldier in World War I and settled in the Ashram in December 1930.

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101 Rani was Bejoy Nag’s wife. She was a very sweet and quiet person.

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102 Here is what Sri Aurobindo wrote to Nirod: “The question was whether new faculties not at all manifested in the personality up to now in this life could appear, even suddenly appear, by force of Yoga. (...) What a wonderful argument! Since it has not been done, it cannot be done! At that rate the whole history of the earth must have stopped long before the protoplasm. When it was a mass of gases, no life had been born, ergo, life could not be born – when only life was there, mind was not born, so mind could not be born. Since mind is there but nothing beyond, as there is no Supermind manifested in anybody, so Supermind can never be born. Sobhanallah! Glory, glory, glory to the human reason! Luckily the Divine or the Cosmic Spirit or Nature or whoever is there cares a damn for the human reason. He or she or it does what he or she or it has to do, whether it can or cannot be done.”

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103 mānasputra and mānaskanya: mind-born son and daughter.

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104 Rishiputras and Rishikanyas: sons and daughters of Rishis.

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105 Duraiswami Iyer, an eminent and brilliant advocate of the Madras High Court and Sri Aurobindo’s disciple. He had seen Sri Aurobindo at the Surat Congress in December 1907 where he had gone as a volunteer from South India. Later, in March 1942, Sri Aurobindo sent him as his personal envoy to the Congress leaders to urge them to accept Sir Stafford Cripps proposal.

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106 Suchi and Sarala were a French couple. Sarala was a good tailoress.

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107 “Urvasie”: one of Sri Aurobindo’s narrative poems. The theme, love of King Pururavas of the lunar dynasty and the nymph Urvasie, is taken from the Mahabharata.

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108 Nishkriti: a Bengali novel by Sarat Chandra Chatterji, translated by Dilip and revised by Sri Aurobindo.

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109 Goloka is the Vaishnava heaven of eternal Beauty and Bliss. Literally the world of Light. Brahmaloka is the world of Brahman: the highest state of pure existence and consciousness attainable by the soul without complete extinction in the indefinable. Vaikuntha is the world of Vishnu.

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110 Brahmarandhra: the opening at the top of the skull.

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111 Cloison: partition-wall.

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112 tapo-bhanga: interruption in austere ascetic meditation or austere devotion to God.

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113 soma-rasa: the juice of the soma plant. Soma represents the divine delight of being.

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114 (Dilip’s note:) I had referred in my blasphemous letter to Sri Aurobindo to Voltaire’s reply to the question of the credulous farmer – whether sheep could be killed by a curse – that it could, only there should be some arsenic behind the curse. I blasphemed suggesting that the Divine Grace was all right but it was essentially perseverance and discipline which had tangible results in killing the sheep though of course the Divine Grace is not loth to take the credit for the removal of the impediment.

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115 Poems by Sri Aurobindo.

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116 The first part of the letter is missing.

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117 Dhurjati Prasad Mukherji was a Professor of Economy and Social science at Lucknow University. He was a well-known critic on poetry, music, etc., and a close friend of Dilip’s.

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118 Bhababhuti was a Sanskrit poet who lived in the seventh century C.E. He was born in Padmapura in the state of Vidarbha, but spent most of his life in the palace of Yashodharma, king of Kanauj. His important works are the three dramas: Mālātīmādhava, Mahāvīracarita and Uttararāmacarita. He was a great devotee of Shiva.

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119 Raihana Tyabji was born and brought up in an aristocratic, highly educated muslim family. At the age of 16 she had a profound spiritual experience which she narrated in a booklet: Heart of a Gopi. She was a powerful singer and used to sing Meera bhajans in love of Krishna. She passed away in 1976.

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120 (Sri Aurobindo’s note:) Note Raihana’s contact with the Blue Radiance that was Krishna

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121 Mrinalini Chattopadhyay (1883-1968), Harin’s sister. Tripos in Philosophy from Cambridge University. An educationist. She first came to see Sri Aurobindo in Pondicherry in 1919, then in May-June 1920 when she introduced Mother into wearing a sari. From then on, she continued her visits.

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122 Rajani Palit.

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123 Here is an extract from Correspondence with Sri Aurobindo by Nirodbaran:

... What about the uprush of mud? Has it settled down, and are people now floating in the flood of the Supramental?” “It is still there, but personally I have become superior to it and am travelling forward like a flash of lightning, that is to say zigzag but fairly fast. Now I have got the hang of the whole hanged thing – like a very Einstein I have got the mathematical formula of the whole affair (unintelligible as in his case to anybody but myself) and am working it out figure by figure.”

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124 “Silence, Light, Power, Ananda, these are the four pillars of the Jivanmukta consciousness,” is how Sri Aurobindo defines the term (see p. 65).

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125 “A God’s Labour”.

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126 Moni Bagchi (1905-1983) was a journalist and was very skilled in writing biographies. He was awarded the honour of National Biographer by Bharatiya Vidya Bhavan. His best known biography is Bhagini Nivedita [Sister Nivedita].

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127 Re the sentence: “... I should have thought your Gurudev would have more or less agreed with it”, Sri Aurobindo wrote commenting on the margin: “Not more or less but entirely”.

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128 Āhuti: oblation.

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129 dakṣiṇāyana: southern or the winter solstice. The early Vedantic thought attributes the “psycho-physical symbolism” of dark path to this period of the year in contrast to Uttarāyaṇa, the northern or the summer solstice (cf. Bhagavad Gita, VIII, 24, 25 & 26).

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130 ṭippaṇī: a comment or an explanation.

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131 Rishabhchand (3.12.1900-25.4.1970) was born in West Bengal and had a brilliant academic carrer in Berhampur and at Presidency College, Calcutta. He turned to the non-cooperation movement and then founded the renowned Indian Silk House in Calcutta in 1926. He came in contact with Sri Aurobindo and settled in the Ashram in 1931 where he worked in the Service Mobilier. He wrote many books on Sri Aurobindo’s and Mother’s work, among them Sri Aurobindo – His Life Unique.

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132 Ambabhikshu (born on 5.7.1900): A Gujarati disciple. Fired with idealism, he left his medical studies midway, joined the freedom movement and stayed at Gandhiji’s Sabarmati Ashram. Then he joined Vinoba Bhave. Left him for a Sikh guru who directed him to Sri Aurobindo and the Mother. In the Ashram he tended gardens and grew fruits and vegetables. Later with the help of his wife Kamalalakshmi, he made rose water, power syrup and other products for Mother.

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133 Pārtha naiveha nāmutra vināśas tasya vidyate na hi kalyāṇa-kṛt kaścid durgatiṃ tāta gacchati:

“O Son of Pṛthā (Arjuna)! Neither in this life nor hereafter is there destruction for him; know for certain that one who treads the path of virtue can never come to grief.”

(Gita, 6.40)

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134 The double square brackets are Sri Aurobindo’s.

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135 Somnath Maitra, an eminent Professor of English, Presidency College, Calcutta, younger brother of Sisir Kumar Maitra. He translated many works of Tagore into English. He was Dilip’s and Prithwi Singh’s friend. After losing his little daughter of nine, his former life lost its charm. He asked permission to come to the Ashram in September 1935 and stayed for about one month.

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136 Moon-Lord = Som-nath.

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137 The Bases of Yoga. The other two are: The Riddle of This World and Lights on Yoga.

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138 See Sri Aurobindo’s letter dated 5 October 1935, p.322.

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139 The double brackets are Sri Aurobindo’s.

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140 Professor Mahendra Nath Sarkar was an eminent teacher of philosophy at Presidency college, Calcutta and author of many valuable books on Indian philosophy and spirituality. An ardent admirer of Sri Aurobindo, he visited and stayed in the Ashram for some time.

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141 Trésor: name of Dilip’s house.

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142 Allusion to the Darshan of 24th November.

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143 Satyendranath Mukherji, an eminent Bengali lawyer.

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144 Kingkhap: a jewellery box lined with velvet.

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145 Shantipuri dhuti: a very fine handloom cloth (dhuti worn by Bengali men), with a black or a golden border, made in Shantipur, Nadia, West Bengal, worn by Sri Aurobindo on Darshan days.

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146 Maybe an allusion to the invasion of Ethiopia (formerly Abyssinia) by Italy in October 1935.

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147 Tabula rasa: an erased tablet in latin.

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148 Galen: a Greek physician of the 2nd century CE.

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149 An English nursery rhyme:

Little Jack Horner

Sat in a corner

Eating his Christmas pie

He put in his thumb

And pulled out a plum

And said, “What a good boy am I!”

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150 (Dilip’s note:) Re. My songs at the Government House, Pondicherry.

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151 Uday Singh Nahar, Prithwi Singh’s cousin.

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152 The following passages within brackets have been omitted from the version published in the Centenary Edition (1972).

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153 Baba Lokenath Brahmachari: born on Jamashthami day (August 1730) at 3 a.m., in Chourasi Chakla, a remote village in 24 parganas, West Bengal. He was the 4th child of Ram Narayan Ghosal and Kamala Devi.

At age 11 his thread ceremony was performed, when he was initiated to the Gayatri Mantra by a householder-sannyasi and a great scholar, Bhagawan Ganguli. Lokenath went away with his guru and practised Yoga till he became a Realised Being. Around 1864 he came to Baradi village, and founded his ashram, and there spent about 26 years. His Mahasamadhi occurred in the first week of June 1890 (19th Jaishtha).

Strikingly, Sri Aurobindo once wrote that Mother “had seen Lokenath Brahamachari very often” and had identified him from his photo.

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154 These words within brackets were added by Sri Aurobindo.

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155 (For the non-biblical reader:) Esau, son of Isaac and Rebecca, elder twin brother of Jacob to whom he sold his birthright for a mess of red pottage. Traditional founder of Edomites. Jacob is the traditional founder of Israel.

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156 The following passage within brackets has been omitted from the version published in the Centenary Edition (1972).

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157 “With the Guru’s grace all difficulties can disappear in a flash even as agelong darkness does the moment you strike a match.”

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158 Harin’s poem:

“His ways are such

As you shall never guess though you may try

A myriad lifetimes long. God is as much

A hostage to the law as you or I.”

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159 Utsīdeyur ime lokā na kuryāṃ karma cedaham saṅkarasya ca kartā syām upahanyām imāḥ prajāḥ:

“If I were not to work, all these worlds would have perished.

I would have been the cause of confusion among men and of their ultimate destruction.” (Gita, 3.24)

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160 In the letter of 30 December 1935 Sri Aurobindo asks Prithwi Singh to arrange for the sale of Dilip’s houses in Calcutta. (ref. Sri Aurobindo and Mother to Prithwi Singh, p.63-64., Mira Aditi Centre, Mysore).

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161 Bejoy Chatterji (1879-1943). A barrister. Joined the staff of the paper Bande Mataram and worked with Sri Aurobindo as co-editor.

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