Sri Aurobindo to Dilip
Volume 3. 1936 – 1937
A Few Words
On 9th April and 4th May 2007, within a gap of one month, Revered Satprem, the heart and soul of “Mira Aditi”, and his spiritual companion. Respected Sujata Nahar, left their mortal bodies. Their sudden withdrawal from the physical world came as a shock to all of us who were close to them and were associated in their endeavours. We remember the assurance given by Lord Krishna in the Gita (2-23):
Nainang Chindanti Shastrani Nainang dahati pavakah
Na chainang kledayantapo Na Shoshoyati marutah
Weapons can never cleave nor fire burn
Neither water drench nor wind desiccates the soul.
Hence they are immortal and will inspire us always. We the ashramites of Harikrishna Mandir, pay our homage to both of them.
We are glad that overcoming all the hurdles we are able to publish the Volume III of “Sri Aurobindo to Dilip” containing letters written during the period 1936-1937. Like the previous two volumes the letters are equally illuminating and inspiring. We hope the discerning readers will find these letters invaluable for their Sadhana and inspiration.
Originally we had planned to bring out the entire correspondence between Sri Aurobindo and Dadaji (as Sri Dilipkumar Roy is lovingly called by his disciples and admirers) in three volumes only. Later on seeing the enormity of the correspondence we have decided to bring them out in four volumes. We regret that we could not procure all of Dadajis original letters written to Sri Aurobindo. But Sri Aurobindo’s answers reveal the subject matters and queries raised in Dadaji’s letters to him. In the history of spirituality, there is no parallel to such letters between the Guru and the disciples. The disciple’s sincerity, frankness, truthfulness, the desire to know Truths and his high intelligence touching various aspects of life are expressed through the subject matter of these letters. Similarly Guru’s unbound love for the disciple and divine wisdom has made these letters immortal. In 1951, the Mother assured Sri Dilipkumar in a letter: “Sri Aurobindo always considered you as a part of his realisation”.
After Sri Aurobindo had gone into seclusion, it was the general belief that Sri Aurobindo was lost in Bramhan Con- sciousness and therefore of no use to ordinary people. Through these letters the world came to know that in spite of severe sadhana to bring down the Supramental, Sri Aurobindo was not unconcerned with the day to day problems of humanity. The general idea was that Sri Aurobindo was a serious person. Dadaji was the pioneer who dared to crack jokes with him and we the common people came to know Sri Aurobindo’s beautiful human side and personality through these letters.
I conclude with a prayer that Sri Aurobindo’s vision of the great descent will come true and our human nature change as foretold by the great sage.
“To raise the world to God in deathless light...
To change the earthly life to life divine.”
Or in the words of Sri Dilipkumar
And the glorious denouement will come because the “architect of immortality” cannot possibly fail as the omnipotent leader of human destiny has been urging us onward sleeplessly to fulfill man with the crown of Supramental consciousness on the glorious heights where.
“The Spirit shall look out through Matter’s gaze,
And Matter shall reveal the Spirit’s face.”
Harikrishna Mandir, Pune
1936-1937 – In many ways these two years were very significant.
For Sri Aurobindo. I have not counted but I think that he wrote a maximum number of letters in 1936: Terrible night the last! (...attacked... by the demon of correspondence.} Night after night have to write letters, letters, letters, not to speak of other things. Such as preparing something for the Arya Publishing House otherwise the house will collapse, as they have been long without a fresh book. Apart from writing explanations of the poems sent up by some of the disciples. And what about his own work: The descent of the Supermind? To a query from a disciple, Sri Aurobindo answered: Tail is there – but no use without the head.
For Dilipda. He was immersed in melody, music and prosody. Not only was he experimenting in new metres and writing inspired poetry but he was also inspiring others. Moreover, in 1936, although his swings of mood continued they became a little less frequent and a bit less long in the slough of despond. He was shaping up to become the later Dadaji’. In 1937, with Sri Aurobindo’s and Mother’s full consent he went to Calcutta. And... and there he found the voice... as though the new melody had taken a human form to propagate itself – destiny’s seal was upon it. She was Hashi (Uma Bose). Like Dilip da she too was born on a 22 January 1921, and discarded her human body on 22 January 1942 at the age of 21 years.
For the world. It is one of the well-known laws of the occult that whenever a great Truth or Light descends a corresponding power of darkness rises up to obscure the Truth or in general, to twist the Truth and make it serve the falsehood. Sri Aurobindo had seen it. His endeavour was to bring down the highest Truth which no falsehood or lie could ever touch, but which will go on doing its work. Such is the Power of Truth he contemplated. And fixed it in the earth’s atmosphere for the flowering of evolution.
The dark that rose each time was made of the same stuff – cruelty and violence – but put on different masks. This was the time of dictators, big or small, that filled the world, Europe having the greater share. With technological advance the killing spree became exponentially geometrical. It was unbridled licence to kill. Their acts are too well known for us to repeat here. A League of Nations was set up to stop aggression but the horrific devastation of WWI was still too vivid, and Western leaders preferred compromise and appeasement to confronting the agressors.
1936-1937 were, I dare say, the last years of the old world order.
Only a scientist knows the value of the equipment in his laboratory. The Ashram was Sri Aurobindo’s and Mother’s laboratory. All creatures great and small were part of it. Yes, not only humans. Cats and dogs, cows and bullocks, Blackie the crow, Richard’s donkey, none were left out. That is why I have tried to give a short bio-data of the person whose name, however insignificant, has cropped up. Well, it has been difficult to procure a reliable bio-data for everybody. Yet, I have been acquainted with them! What will happen when I am gone can be easily guessed. A great big thanks goes to my sister Suprabha for obtaining what has been obtained.
I shan’t hold you up any longer from Sri Aurobindo’s delightful ways of imparting knowledge.
January 2, 1936
Very remarkably smooth and strong and flowing – your metre. Enjambments are supposed to break the lyric flow and wholeness of the stanza structure, but they do not do so here, only carry over the stream into its next curve.
The letter progresses but like a crab: I had to recast the first part last night and tonight there was too much correspondence, etc. to do. However Part I cannot fail to be soon finished, for it is all there in my head or, to speak with a greater physical accuracy, formed above it. Nirvana by the way is not Nirvanic, it is only mute and withdrawn till it is overtaken by Harmony. It can’t go out by itself because it is pardanashin1 and needs a male Harmony to protect it.
January 3, 1936
I did not answer your letter at 5 because it was only afterwards that I saw it and at that time Mother had gone out to meet the Governor, so it was impossible to read it to her and get an answer. I also read it cursorily at first and it did not seem to me that you attached much importance or seriousness to the desire of these people for Yoga. It was only after I read it again that I noticed your insistence on an answer by 5 o’clock, but it was too late. I suppose as you speak of their being in Calcutta by Monday they must have gone tonight. If by any chance they have not, they can come to the Meditation tomorrow. If either of them is serious, it is rather strange that they should come in this rushing fashion – American hustle? – to find a Guru; it is the rush that spoiled their chance, for we happened to be in a rush also. So many people are likely to be coming now and it is only if they are serious in their coming that they have any probability of getting in sideways. The American got his opportunity because he was very earnest and insistent. I hope you will get over the sadness, for this is not a sufficient cause for it.
Your four sonnets2 are very fine – your sonnets always are – in form and colour and feeling. It was a great pleasure to read them.
January 4, 1936
The Mother is sending the Conversations for Mohini Mohan. You will have to tell him that there are no letters, only these conversations. Recent photographs don’t exist as none have been taken for some fourteen years past and more. Those we have are still older, and the present copies can’t be given free as we have now to bring them from France at a heavy cost and they get exhausted soon and we have constantly to make fresh orders.
Your account of Bose and his father is interesting. Let us see what he makes of himself – and the self-conscious engineer also.
I feel it difficult to say anything about Raihana’s Christ and Krishna. The attraction which she says people feel for Christ has never touched me, partly because I got disgusted with the dryness and deadness of Christianity in England and partly because the Christ of the gospels (apart from a few poignant episodes) is luminous no doubt, but somewhat shadowy and imperfectly constructed in his luminosity; there is more of the ethical put forward than of the spiritual or divine man. The Christ that has strongly lived in the Western saints and mystics is the Christ of St. Francis of Assisi, St. Teresa and others. But apart from that, is it a fact that Christ has been strongly and vividly loved by Christians? Only by a very few, it seems to me. As for Krishna, to judge him and his revealing tradition by the Christ figure and Christ tradition is not possible. The two stand in two different worlds. There is nothing in the latter of the great and boundless and sovereign spiritual knowledge and power of realisation we find in the Gita, nothing of the emotional force, passion, beauty of the Gopi symbol and all that lies behind it, nothing of the many-sided manifestation of the Krishna figure. The other has other qualities; there is no gain in putting them side by side and trying to weigh them against each other. That is the besetting sin of the Christian mind, even in those who are most liberal like Dr. Stanley Jones3; they cannot get altogether free from the sectarian narrowness and leave each manifestation to its own inner world for those to follow who have the inner drawing to one or the other. I have always refrained from these comparisons in my published writings in order to avoid this error. What I feel personally is for myself – I can’t ask others to conform to my measure.
The Gopis are not ordinary people in the proper sense of the word – they are extraordinary by their extremeness of love, passionate devotion, unreserved self-giving. Whoever has that, however humble his or her position in other respects (learning, power presentation, scholarship, external sanctity, etc, etc.) can easily follow after Krishna and reach Him; that seems to me the sense of the symbol of the Gopis. There are many other significances, of course – that is only one among the many.
January 13, 1936
Subhash4 has written to me another letter in which he warns me darkly against “blind faith” in Gurus. I don’t think though that I have been blind about you but I do admit I believe in Guru’s lead provided the Guru appeals one. You appeal to me – that is all. So why should he want to deflate faith as against reason which so often fails to get us anywhere?
[Subash Chandra Bose’s letter, dated 23.12.35 was from Vienna. He wrote,] “Your letter of 19.8.35 reached me on the 20th September. It was very clear and I understand your mind now. Of course I think in a contrary direction. You are honest in what you think and I am equally honest. The question is who is right.
The retirement of Anil Babu [Anilbaran] and yourself from active life has pained me so much that I cannot forget it. My fault is that I expected so much from both of you.
It is no use trying to argue with you. You are quite blind. Reason is but the slave of your faith. When I think how a person of your calibre can surrender his reasoning in this way, I feel like despairing of my country. Everywhere we find the same thing. You regard Sri Aurobindo as God incarnate. So many regard Mahatma Gandhi in the same light. My own mother – whose sincerity I cannot doubt – has a guru whom she regards as God incarnate.
I am sorry you did not get my book. It was sent as early as February. I can send you a copy again – but I am afraid it will not reach you. You can understand the reason. What shall I do?
Our ways are apart – but let us continue to be friends. Maybe, one day we shall meet – who knows?
Yours in love, Subhas”
Despair not – the letter is still flowing on my head (I mean the rest of it or of them) before it flows in inksome lines on paper.
As for the desperate Subhash, why the deuce does he want everybody to agree with him and follow his line of conduct or belief? That is the never realised dream of the politician; we, incarnate Gods, Gurus, spiritual men, are more modest in our hopes and are satisfied with a handful or, if you like, an Ashramful of disciples, and even we don’t ask for that, they come, they come. So are we not nearer to reason and wisdom than the political leaders? Unless of course we make the mistake of founding a universal religion, but that is not our case. Moreover, Subhash upbraids you for losing your reason in blind faith, but what is his view of things except a reasoned faith; you believe according to your faith, which is quite natural, he believes according to his opinion, which is natural also, but no better, so far as the likelihood of getting at the true truth of things is in question. His opinion is according to his reason? So is the opinion of his political opponents according to their reason, yet they affirm the very opposite idea to his. How is reason going to show which is right? The opposite parties can argue till they are blue in the face, they won’t be anywhere nearer a decision. In the end he prevails who has the greater force or whom the trend of things. favours. But who can look at the world and say that the trend of things is always (or ever) according to right reason – whatever this thing called right reason may be? As a matter of fact there is no universal infallible reason which can decide and be the umpire between conflicting opinions, there is only my reason, your reason, X’s reason, Y’s reason, multiplied up to the discordant innumerable. Each reasons according to his view of things, his opinion, that is, his mental constitution and mental preference. So what is the use of running down faith which after all gives something to hold on to amidst the contradictions of an enigmatic universe? If one can get at a knowledge that knows, it is another matter; but so long as we have only an ignorance that argues, well, there is a place still left for faith – even, faith may be a glint from the knowledge that knows, however far off, and meanwhile there is not the slightest doubt that it helps to get things done. There’s a bit of reasoning for you! Just like all other reasoning too, convincing to the convinced, but not to the unconvincible, i.e., who don’t agree with the ground upon which the reasoning dances. Logic, after all, is only a measured dance of the mind, nothing else.
January 15, 1936
It is a very beautiful song8 [“Faithful”] and an admirable translation.
As to the point that puzzles you, it only arises from a confusion between the feeling of the devotee and the observation of the observer. Of course, the devotee loves Krishna because Krishna is lovable and not for any other reason – that is his feeling and his true feeling. He has no time to bother his head about what in himself made him able to love, the fact that he does love is sufficient for him and he does not need to analyse his emotions. The Grace of Krishna consists for him in Krishna’s very lovableness, in his showing of himself to the devotee, in his call, the cry of his flute. That is enough for the heart or, if there is anything more, it is the yearning that others or all may hear the flute, see the face, feel all the beauty and rapture of this love.
It is not the heart of the devotee but the mind of the observer that questions how it is that the Gopis were called and responded at once and others – the Brahmin women, for instance – were not called or did not respond at once. Once the mind puts the question, there are two possible answers, the mere will of Krishna without any reason, what the mind would call his absolute divine choice or his arbitrary divine caprice or else the readiness of the heart that is called and that amounts to adhikārī-bheda [variation in the readiness]. A third reply would be – circumstances, as for instance, the parking off the spiritual ground into closed preserves. But how can circumstances prevent the Grace from acting? In spite of the parking off, it works – Christians, Mahomedans do answer to the Grace of Krishna. Tigers, ghouls must love if they see him, hear his flute? Yes, but why do some hear it and see him, others not? We are thrown back on the two alternatives, Krishna’s Grace calls whom it wills to call without any determining reason for the choice or rejection, his mercy or his withholding or at least delaying of his mercy, or else he calls the hearts that are ready to vibrate and leap up at his call – and even there he waits till the moment has come. To say that it does not depend on outward merit or appearance of fitness is no doubt true; the something that was ready to wake in spite, it may be, of many hard layers in which it was enclosed, may be something visible to Krishna and not to us. It was there perhaps long before the flute began to play, but he was busy melting the hard layers so that the heart in its leap might not be pressed back by them when the awakening notes came. The Gopis heard and rushed out into the forest – the others did not or did they think it was only some rustic music or some rude cowherd lover fluting to his sweetheart, not a call that learned and cultured or virtuous ears could recognise as the call of the Divine? There is something to be said for the adhikārī-bheda. But, of course, it must be understood in a large sense – some may have the adhikāra [fitness] for recognising Krishna’s flute, some for the call of Christ, some for the dance of Shiva – to each his own way and his nature’s answer to the Divine Call. adhikāra cannot be stated in rigid mental terms, it is something spiritual and subtle, something mystic and secret between the called and the Caller.
As for the swelled head, the theory of Grace may no doubt contribute to it, though I should imagine that the said head never felt the Grace but only the magnanimity of its own ego. The swelling may come equally in the way of personal effort as by the craving for Grace. It is fundamentally not due to either, but to a natural predisposition to this kind of oedema.
January 16, 1936
Your letter on Grace. I will have to ponder it carefully. It seems to me now-a-days that it is best to silence this fellow mind somehow. It can understand practically nothing yet wants to prove everything with its blunt-spade. How to do it though? Last night I tried hard to meditate from 7.30 p.m. to silence this mind, etc. But got so fed up with the attempt that dropped off to sleep and too much sleep was the result after which I always feel seedy – as I do today. How to convert this activism in me to silence? That is the problem truly! Can you give some real advice, and better still some force? After such attempts I feel always listless verging on depression but I have resolved not to allow my depression to lead me to despair but strike it as I see it is all but useless to try to get out of the grip of this depressing fellow. My cold too has rein-forced it. However I won’t complain. I have prayed a lot today – some comfort to dwell on that – though Krishnaprem advocates the Upanishadic attitude “Awake! Arise” and not trust too much to Divine Grace. Raihana on the contrary believes in Grace. Hike to do that but find nothing which encourages me to such a faith, nor find any strength to entrust myself to the Upanishadic path of self-help. Anyhow try to send me a little force. What more can you do – since our mentality and ādhārs are so obstinately dark and unluminous not to be able to be up so much spiritually. However – cheeri – oh Guru – a la Cambridge. Could not do much meditation for the past two days with Mother thanks to this awful nuisance of cough – that is another irksome obstacle on top of my enough obstacles and to spare.
P.S. I sometimes marvel how this fellow Krishnaprem has got so much strength with an indifferent guru, while we have so little of it with a really wonderful guru!
To envy whom? A strong adept with an indifferent guru or a weak aspirant with a wonderful guru? Ah, there is the rub.
Let us not exaggerate anything. It is not so much getting rid of mental activity as converting it into the right thing. Krishnaprem has mental activity, but it is a mind that has gone inside and sees things from there, an intuitive mind; I have mental activity (in the midst of silence) whenever necessary, but it is a mind that [has] gone up and sees things from above, an overmind action. What has to be surpassed and changed is the intellectual reason which sees things from outside only, by analysis and inference – when it doesn’t do it rather by taking a hasty look and saying “so it is” or “so it is not”. But you can’t get the inner or upper mind unless this old mental activity becomes a little quiet. A quiet mind does not involve itself in its thoughts or get run away with them by them; it stands back, detaches itself, lets them pass without identifying itself, without making them its own. It becomes the witness mind watching the thoughts when necessary, but able to turn away from them and receive from within and from above. Silence is good, but absolute silence is not indispensable, at least at this stage. I do not know that to wrestle with the mind to make it quiet is of much use; usually the mind gets the better of that game. It is this standing back, detaching oneself, getting the power to listen to something else other than the thoughts of the external mind that is the easier way. At the same time one can look up, as it were, imaging to oneself the Force as there just above and calling it down or quietly expecting its help. That is how most people do it, till the mind falls gradually quiet or silent of itself, or else silence begins to descend from above. But it is important not to allow the depression or despair to come in because there is no immediate success; that can only make things difficult and stop any progress that is preparing.
The cough must be got rid of.
Krishnaprem’s objection to Grace would be valid if the religionists mattered, but in spiritual things they don’t. Their action naturally is to make a formula and dry shell of everything, not Grace alone. Even “Awake, Arise” leads to the swelled head or the formula – can’t be avoided when Mr. Everyman deals with things divine. I had the same violent objection to Gurugiri [profession of a guru], but you see I was obliged by the irony of things or rather by the inexorable truth to become a Guru and preach the Guruvada [the school of thought in which the help of the Guru is indispensable for spiritual life]. Such is Fate.
Shall send Force. But don’t wrestle too much; go slowly and let the Force work.
January 20, 1936
I note the offer for the houses – a chance, but I suppose the tussle will be over the price. I hope that the idea of the just value will be pitched higher when Dhir makes the critical valuation, the idea in the mind of the seller counts for much in determining that in the mind of the buyer and the price after all is what the seller is prepared to give for the object – market or no market. However, we will see.
I don’t think you understood very well what Mother was trying to tell you. First of all she did not say that prayers or meditation either were no good – how could she when both count for so much in Yoga. What she said was that the prayer must well up from the heart on a crest of emotion or aspiration, the japa or meditation come in a live push carrying the joy or the light of the thing in it. If done mechanically as a thing that ought to be done (stern grim duty!), it must tend towards want of interest and dryness, and so be ineffective. It was what I meant when I said I thought you were doing Japa too much as a means for bringing about a result – I meant too much as a device, a process laid down for getting the thing done. That again was why I wanted the psychological conditions in you to develop, the psychic, the mental – for when the psychic is forward, there is no lack of life and joy in the prayer, the aspiration, the seeking, no difficulty in having the constant stream of bhakti and when the mind is quiet and inturned and upturned there is no difficulty or want of interest in meditation. Meditation, by the way, is a process leading towards knowledge and through knowledge, it is a thing of the head and not of the heart; so if you want dhyāna, you can’t have an aversion to knowledge. Concentration in the heart is not meditation, it is a call on the Divine, on the Beloved. This yoga too is not a Yoga of knowledge alone – knowledge is one of its means, but its base being self-offering, surrender, bhakti, it is based in the heart and nothing can be eventually done without this base. There are plenty of people here who do or have done Japa and base themselves on bhakti, very few comparatively who have done the “head” meditation; love and bhakti and works are usually the base – how many can proceed by knowledge? Only the few.
What the Mother spoke of was not self-analysis nor dissection. Analyses and dissection are mental things which can deal with the inanimate or make the live dead; they are not spiritual methods. What the Mother spoke of was not analysis, but a seeing of oneself and of all the living movements of the being and the nature, a vivid observation of the personalities and forces that move on the stage of our being, their motives, their impulses, their potentialities – an observation quite as interesting as the seeing and understanding of a drama or a novel, a living vision and perception of how things are done in us which brings also a living mastery over this inner universe. Such things become dry only when one deals with them with the analytic and ratiocinative mind, not when one deals with them thus seeingly and intuitively as a movement of life. If you had that observation (from the inner spiritual, not the outer intellectual and ethical viewpoint), then it would be comparatively easy for you to get out of your difficulties; for instance, you would see at once where this irrational impulse to flee away came from and it would not have any hold upon you. Of course, all that can only be done to the best effect when you stand back from the play of your nature and become the Witness-Control or the Spectator-Actor-Manager. But that is what happens when you take this kind of self-seeing posture.
However, since you fear it will be dry or painful (an idea of the non-understanding intellect like your old confusion of the supramental as if it were the same thing as the cold aloofness of the illusionist Brahman instead of a sublimation of light, dynamism – joy, love and Ananda), we will say no more of it. An easier method of the heart? You believe in traditional ideas of Yoga – well, according to traditional ideas also, the one easiest method is that of bhakti, reliance, self-giving, bhakti, nirbhar, samarpaṇ.
What still stands in your way – for it was and is growing towards that in you, is an old confusion in mind and vital. The heart says “I want bhakti”, the mind says “No, no, let us have reason”, the vital says, “Nonsense, I can’t surrender”. What you need is to quiet down that confusion created by the mind’s past samskaras and either fix on the one thing or harmonise. Bhakti is the basic force, knowledge, strength and joy in the Divine is the result – that is the harmony proposed in this Yoga. But in either way, if either is done, then Peace becomes easily possible.
P.S. Jayantilal’s design is excellent. Mother will tell Lalita9 about the table harmonium.
January 21, 1936
Vairagya is certainly one way of progressing towards the goal – the traditional way and a drastic if painful one. To lose the desire for human vital enjoyments, to lose the passion for literary or other success, praise, fame, to lose even the insistence on spiritual success, the inner bhoga [enjoyment] of yoga, have always been recognised as steps towards the goal – provided one keeps the one insistence on the Divine. I prefer myself the calmer way of equality, the way pointed out by Krishna, than the more painful one of Vairagya. But if the compulsion in one’s nature – or the compulsion of one’s inner being forcing its way by that means through the difficulties of the nature is on that line, it must be recognised as a valid line. What is the thing that has to be got rid of in that case is the note of despair in the vital which responds to the cry you speak of – that it will never gain the Divine because it has not yet got the Divine or that there has been no progress. There has certainly been a progress, the greater push of the psychic, this very detachment itself from other things always growing somewhere in you. The thing is to hold on, not to cut the cord which is pulling you up because it hurts the hands. To keep the one insistence if all the others fall away from you.
It is evident that something in you, perhaps continuing the unfinished curve of a past life, is pushing you on this path of vairagya and the more stormy way of bhakti – in spite of our preference for a less painful one and yours also – something that is determined to be drastic with the outer nature so as to make itself free to fulfil its secret aspiration. But do not listen to these suggestions of the voice that says, “You shall not succeed and it is no use trying”. That is a thing that need never be said in the Way of the Spirit, however difficult it may seem at the moment to be. Keep through all the aspiration which you express so beautifully in your poems; for it is certainly there and comes out from the depths, and if it is the cause of suffering – as great aspirations usually are in a world and nature where there is so much to oppose them – it is also the promise and surety of emergence and victory in the future.
January 22, 1936
You stick to your intellectual ethical version of the inner self-vision? Dry? policeman? criminal? Great Lord! If it were that, it would cease to be self-vision at all – for in the true self-vision there is no policemanship and no criminaldom at all. All that belongs to the intellectual-ethical virtue and sin dodge which is only a mental construction of practical value for the outward life but not a truth of real inner values. In the true self-vision we see only harmonies and disharmonies and set the wrong notes right and replace them by the true notes. But I say that for the sake of truth, not to persuade you to start the self-vision effort; for if you did with these ideas of it, you would inevitably start it on the policeman basis and get into trouble. Besides, evidently, you prefer in the yoga to be the piano and not the pianist, which is all right but involves total self-giving and the intervention of the supreme musician and harmonist. May it be so.
I am glad to know that your vital has been frightened into acquiescence in self-giving – even if only by the imaginary horror of being obliged to become the policeman of your self. But to explain why these contradictions existed in you one has to have recourse to this very business of harmonies and disharmonies and the inner knowledge. You were in fact a piano played on by several pianists at a time each with his own different musical piece to play! In plain words and without images every man is full of these contradictions because he is one person, no doubt, but made up of different personalities – the perception of multiple personality is becoming well known to psychologists now – who very commonly disagree with each other. So long as one does not aim at unity in a single dominant intention, like that of seeking and self-dedication to the Divine, they get on somehow together, alternating or quarrelling or muddling through or else one taking the lead and compelling the others to take a minor part – but once you try to unite them in one aim, then the trouble becomes evident. One element wanted the Divine from the first, another wanted music, liberation, poetry, a third wanted life at its best, a fourth wanted life – well, not at its best. Finally there was another element which wanted life not at all, but was rather disgusted with it and wanted either a better (diviner) life or something better than life. It was this element evidently that created the vairagya and in the struggle between that and the life-partisans a black element stole in (not one of the personalities, but a formation, a dark intrusion from outside), which wanted to turn the whole thing into a drama or tragedy of despair – despair of life but despair of the Divine also. That has to be rejected, the rest changed and harmonised. That is the only true explanation of the whole difficulty in your nature.
January 24, 1936
I had only a one-sided account which I know to be unreliable. What you say confirms what I had always thought must be the truth of the matter.
January 24, 1936
Some comments here, anything for a sport, what?
Nothing much to comment. What he [Krishnaprem] says – the central thing – is very correct, as always; the position of all who have any notion of spirituality, though the religionists like Jones and the Christ-lover on board ship seem to find it difficult to get to it. But though Christ and Krishna are the same, they are the same in difference, that is indeed the utility of so many manifestations instead of there being only one as these missionaries would have it. But is it really because the historical Christ has been made too much the foundation-stone of the faith that Christianity is failing? It may be something inadequate in the religion itself – perhaps in religion itself; for all religions are a little off-colour now. The need of a larger opening of the soul into the Light is being felt, an opening through which the expanding human mind and heart can follow. I have not read Stanley Jones, but I should not be surprised to find there is some justification for the feeling of sickness. I don’t know why so many Christian writers have a way of writing and preaching which gives a sense of unpleasant unctuousness, a very small dish of religious emotion swimming in a too fat oil of holiness – as if the Pharisees17 and Sadducees18 had not only crucified Christ but laid the grip of their ecclesiasticism and Pharisaism on the religion also. Excuse the culinary simile – a little sport, as you say – and my growl is quite private.
January 29, 1936
Again a pious and peaceful day – though worked hard at musical composition – new strains are coming – which had to be recorded – thanks to Mother’s flowers of blessing day before yesterday for musical composition. Truly fine and original stuff is coming! Strange! But strangest – that this peace should continue. A sort of incipient stillness near the heart which had given me so much trouble. Have been thinking of Mother gratefully all day practically.
This incipient stillness near the heart is a sign of great promise. Very glad to hear of it and of the continued peace.
January 30, 1936
Mountain of proof, so music was interrupted – but not piousness. Herewith my savant friend Professor’s postcard. Please write about the sale of my record as Chandicharan seems suspiciously like cheating us as he simply wrote, “āpnāder record moter opar bhāloi bikray hatchhe jānben” [Please note that your records are selling quite well.] Rather lukewarm that, yet many others are saying the records are selling like incandescent cakes. However “waitons,” what?
I am ready for any amount of suspicion with regard to that admirable businessman Chandicharan. But till he shows his hand, waitons.
But please send me the two photos (1) yours (2) Mother’s for Professor. He sent Rs.3, remember?
Yes; but you did not notice my little note about the rupees – there were only two in the envelope when I opened it. Also I asked you what was to be done about the photos, but I understand now that they have to be sent to you.
A poem of Nishikanta: fine stuff, isn’t it?
Yes, it is very fine.
Day before yesterday I was calmly telling him how Russell in his latest book In Praise of Idleness has predicted with almost irrefutable logic the coming collapse of the war-mad Europe seized with lunacy born of horror on the one hand and greed on the other. But just listen a bit: “We are all more aware of our fellow-citizens than we used to be, more anxious, if we are virtuous, to do them good (like Raihana’s Dr. Jones, what?) and in any case to make them do us good. (As in Abyssinia, what?) We do not like to think of anyone lazily enjoying life, however refined may be the quality of his enjoyment. We feel that everybody ought to be doing something to help in the great cause – whatever it maybe – the more so as so many bad men are working against it and ought to be stopped. We have not leisure of mind, therefore, to acquire any knowledge except such as will help us in the fight for whatever it may happen to be that we think important.” (Essay on “Useless Knowledge”)
What will the rational Subhash, who holds all irrational faith suspect say of this rational cynicism directed against his darling activism which is so often, alas, but a respectable cloak of arrivisme and oftener an outlet for that restlessness, which the West is now getting tired of, many actually preaching the gospel of idleness which is a concomitant of culture and often of the best and lovable type?
Poor Subhash! But he is a politician and the rationality of politicians has perforce to move within limits; if they were to allow themselves to be as clear-minded as that, their occupation would be gone. It is not everybody who can be as cynical as a Birkenhead19 or as philosophic as a C. R. Das22 and go on with political reason or political humbug in spite of knowing what it all comes to – from arrivisme in the one and from patriotism in the other case.
Also listen, enjoy a little, what? Russell further writes:
“When the indemnities were imposed, the Allies regarded themselves as consumers: they considered that it would be pleasant to have the Germans work for them as temporary slaves, and to be able themselves to consume, without labour, what the Germans had produced. Then, after the treaty of Versailles had been concluded, they suddenly remembered that they were also producers, and that the influx of German goods which they had been demanding would ruin their industries! They were so puzzled that they started scratching their heads, but that did no good, even when they all did it together and called it an International Conference. The plain fact is that the governing classes of the world are too ignorant and stupid to be able to think through such a problem, and too conceited to ask advice of those who might help them.” Well, what would Subhash as a ruling patriot say to this! How support his reason? All these meeting-makers are reasonable people, aren’t they?
Yes, but human reason is a very convenient and accommodating instrument and works only in the circle set for it by interest, partiality and prejudice. The politicians reason wrongly or insincerely and have power to enforce the results of their reasoning so as to make a mess of the world’s affairs – the intellectuals reason and see what their minds show them, which is far from being always the truth, for it is generally decided by intellectual preference and the mind’s inborn education-inculcated angle of vision – but even when they see it, they have no power to enforce it. So between blind power and seeing impotence the world moves, achieving destiny through a mental muddle.
Lastly, O Guru, Russell shows the devastating logic that Europe is heading straight for shipwreck, thanks to her “lunacy” born of greed and terror: “When a nation, instead of an individual is seized with lunacy, it is thought to be displaying remarkable industrial wisdom.” Qu’en dites-vous?
Seized with lunacy? But that implies that nation is ordinarily led by reason? Is it so? Or even by common sense? Masses of men act upon their vital push, not according to reason – individuals too mostly, though they frequently call in their reason as a lawyer to plead the vital’s case.
A little literature: Prof. Mohini Mohan did demur a little at first to my too wide vocabulary, whereto I demurred that now so many who used to say formerly that I used difficult words have discovered suddenly that it is śabdasampad. I am pleased now that he recognises the artistry I aim at in choosing from a wide range of words which he calls śabder jādu (the magic of words). Prithwisingh too now-a-days admits this though formerly he too used to demur. I feel often a little newness in expression vocabulary, etc. is at first a little baffling and unwelcome to many hommes de bonne volonté. For I am not conscious of pedantry, I wrote to Professor, only the words which to them seem a little unusual come to me very easily (believe me) and I like śabdasampad, a wide vocabulary and new rhythms and metres even at some (temporarily I feel) risks. A little self-defence rather complacent maybe, but not too much as this Professor knew me very little before and is already talking in a different strain, what?
Anything new has always to fight its way to recognition – the first impulse of the human minds is to reject it.
January 31, 1936
It appears the Mother had arranged for the photographs after getting the derelict rupee and thought they must have reached you, so she said no more about it; hence my reiteration. Anyhow I suppose you have the photos now. As for the rupee note, it must have dematerialised and flown away somewhere.
I dare say Thomson may be right about the inability of the great B. P. [British Public] to appreciate a detail picture of Bengali life. It is too unfamiliar – Russia is different, it is at least semi-occidental, but everything here would be strange and new. That ought to be in its favour but possibly on the Continent, it would be. But the B.P. would accept the new, I think, only if it was striking, romantic or dramatic. This story is not that; it is too quiet, fine and subtle in its touches. However, let us hope for a miracle and waitons.
Re. handwriting, in spite of your outraging my pride of first without second in that matter by giving Mahendranath28 a higher place, I admit you have some reason for this verdict. Even in English I am often at sea for long minutes before I arrive at the full and exact text of his letters. But may I mutter that you also are at least in the running. I have racked my head to discover what the human character is full of which even he himself does not know, I am still in dark ignorance on this matter. It is not only that your ra and cha and even ka and dha are often almost as identical as Siamese twins, but when you go out of your way to introduce some Telugu letters into the Bengali language, you drive at least one poor reader to a despair of unsatisfied curiosity. However I deciphered all but that one mysterious thing – at least I believe so.
You seem to be unlucky in your outrage whether musical or monstrous. Better luck next time.
P.S. Not much time today, so keeping K. P. till tomorrow.
Yesterday at Pavitra’s I met Mother. [She asked] to sit on a chair – but I sat at her feet and then came back in a delight. Hence this poem [came] forth in a song – then and there in a few minutes. It is in my new metre – with free enjambments.
Exceedingly beautiful – the metre also is admirable, adapted to express this kind of flow of feeling...
Nishikanta’s poem “Raj-Hansa” à la Jaydeva in laghu guru metre is truly a marvellous success: magnificiently easy and beautiful in rhythm as well as fine poetry. I agree with you that he has justified the laghu guru metre altogether, sustaining a perfect naturalness and fluency throughout such a long poem. His. skill as a rhythmist is truly remarkable.
X. writes, “Can’t you get Sri Aurobindo to comment on it?” It is some sort of spiritual surrealism and I don’t know if I have succeeded! Do let me have even a monosyllabic comment if you have no time for more.
1. Milk within mighty breasts for a mute child
Born of the inmost Womb is the light beyond!
From the teat’s mouth to a clinging mouth pass all
The glowing Godheads – sages that burn wide
Shrink to a blinded bliss in giant arms
To suck the Whiteness hung in the highest blue!
2 Soaring towards the White that has no end –
O Swan, plunging
into the Vast, the Pure –
Thyself the vastness and the Purity –
Look not beyond for ever, turn back and shine,
A Lord of rays that cleave to the core of things,
A sun whose fingers touch truth everywhere!
(referring to the last line:) This line is good. The others fail to arrive.
3. Lost lover of the glimmering herds of the Sun,
The brute is stretching his slow neck of night.
Eyes of gold frame covered with lids that are rock
Hunger for a lightning stroke: O Thunderer Hand,
See the pale arms of the abyss’s prayer –
Two horns of a moon upon a black bull’s head!
Neck stretching! The stanza might have succeeded in being very good if it had forestalled that success by succeeding in being very bad.
(Referring to the underlined words:) I see no justifying reason for this awkward internal rhyme.
A variant of the opening two lines of 3 is:
The belly of the brute is a caverned Day,
Mate of the Immense whose navel is the Sun.
Is this more in tune with the spiritual surrealism of the poem?
Dilip, I have sent you two dissyllables instead of one mono-syllable and some sentences besides. My stiff silence should have been eloquent enough. What the deuce is this neck-stretching Muse that has rapped him by the neck, anyway?
If you insist on monosyllables here are two that express my attitude à l’Américaine, “Great snakes!”
Very glad to hear of the flood of aspiration. No harm in being interested or engrossed – it is a general spirit of offering that has to grow up.
The old Adam is always an obstinate chap, one can only press him out slowly, though now and then a big push nearer towards the door can be made. The thing is to get him nearer and nearer to the exit.
But what has the condition of the world to do with Grace? Grace is an individual affair. What the seers say is not that the world is a monument of divine Mercy or Grace, but that the Grace is waiting behind for one who turns from its ignorance or fully to the Divine.
anityam asukhaṃ lokam imam prāpya bhajasva mām [This world is full of misery and ephemeral: so turn to worship me. Gita, 9.33]
Of course we hope to initiate a better world here, but that is another matter. The individuals or some individuals first – afterwards the world may ask for its chance.
The increase of “peace and purity” I have been feeling of late – I had asked if that was any index to our growing ability to serve the ādarśa [ideal] of our august guru.
Certainly it is a very good index – peace and purity are the bases of the height and the opportunity for the luminosity of my ādarśa and their increase cannot but help to make it more garimāmoy [glorious].
Mother does not wish to sell the houses for so small a sum. I am writing to Prithwisingh that she wants a lakh as the minimum; it would be better to wait than to sell for so little.
I know nothing of Saurin’s coming back, except for Esha’s writing in her letter to Jyoti that she will send [something?] she has to send with Saurin. He has not written for permission, nor has he received any. He wrote that his sadhana is going on very well there, so I don’t know why he wants to come. When he writes for permission, the answer is not likely to be in the affirmative.
I am sorry the old reaction to the japa has recurred. Perhaps the mind is doing it too much as a means for a result. The japa is usually successful only on one of two conditions – if it is repeated with a sense of its significance, a dwelling of something in the mind on the nature, power, beauty, attraction of the Godhead it signifies and is to bring into the consciousness, that is the mental way – or if it comes up from the heart or rings in it with a certain sense of feeling of bhakti making it alive, that is the emotional way. Either the mind or the vital has to give it support or sustenance. But if it makes the mind dry and the vital restless, it must be missing that support and sustenance. There is of course a third way, the reliance on the power of the mantra or name in itself, but then one has to go on till that power has sufficiently impressed its vibrations on the inner being to make it at a given moment suddenly open to the Presence or the Touch. But if there is a struggling or insistence for the result, then this effect which needs a quiet receptivity in the mind is impeded. That is why I insisted so much on mental quietude and on not too much straining or effort – to give time to allow the psychic and the mind to develop the necessary condition of receptivity – a receptivity as natural as when one receives an inspiration for poetry and music. It is also why I do not want you to discontinue your poetry – it helps and does not hinder the preparation because it is a means of developing the right position of receptivity and bringing out the bhakti which is there in the inner being. To spend all the energy in japa or meditation is a strain which even those who are accustomed to successful meditation find it difficult to do – unless in periods when there is an uninterrupted flow of experiences from above.
February 8, 1936
I am doubtful what to say about your proposal. Ramchandra has secured a remarkable series of successes, but he has not an accommodating character and there might be friction. His cures also depend upon a military obedience and docility in the patient which is not common in the Ashram; it is not that he has not been successful in most cases but in some he has failed and in several cases the treatment has been cut short half-way by a quarrel. Now according to his own statement to begin his treatment and to drop it half-way is worse than not to have the treatment at all. Moreover, it is hernia and I am not aware whether he has ever successfully tackled such a case. There are several causes for hesitation in saying Yes.
The case of cancer (David’s mother) is still in its first stages. Ramchandra himself wrote to me that he would have been more confident if they had called him in five months earlier and he told David that in case of cure it could be said only after three months’ treatment. I have not heard that the cancer is cured; but there has been a remarkable improvement in a very short time of the worst attendant symptoms and in the general health. R-s own opinion was some time ago that the [?] above the navel (which is the cause) had gone or were going but he was afraid of an evolution downward towards her anus rete of which they were signs; these signs have also now diminished. That is where matters stand and it does not amount yet to a cure.
For the goitre, that appertains or rather appertained to Raju (the garagist’s) mother, but it was only one item of a general breakdown of the organism which made R. himself unwilling to take the case. It was only a sceptical sarcasm of Dr. Andre29 about his “high power” homeopathic medicines (high power means an almost minus quantity of medicine in a flood of dilution) that stung him to the quick and made him blurt out that he engaged to cure her in a month. He prayed to us for an extra amount of force so that his bluff might not land him in an ignominious defeat, and strangely enough his boast seems to have been fulfilled to the letter. This disorganised old creature has been put together, can eat heartily, digest, function and walk without the tendency to sudden collapse with which she was troubled, is free of [? ] and headache; her senile dementia has gone and she is chatting coherently and paying visits. R., the family and herself are all agreed that she is cured in every respect and she is off the sicklist. The goitre was in a few days reduced so that it was only somewhat visible in a particular position (this was the family report as I saw it); afterwards it disappeared from the report column; I took it that it was cured and R. spoke of it as cured; I don’t know if it was an absolute disappearance.
On the face of it Ramachandra is remarkable. As far as I can see he has succeeded in the most extraordinary way in cases outside, Godard, Mme Montbrun’s mother, Raju’s mother, David’s mother, where his dominating mental personality could dominate, suggest, instil faith, convey the force; in the Ashram he has met more mental, and vital resistance and been therefore less startlingly successful, though he has produced a rapid effect in several cases. I have seen myself with these outside patients that whenever he indicated the symptoms he wanted cured and I put the force, the success was precise and immediate and the general action also rapid and decisive. In the Ashram I have been able to get equal or sometimes superior results (e.g. instantaneous cure without medicines) only in cases where the faith and reliance were complete. That is how things stand. I am still watching – seeing for instance how far he succeeds in cases like Rajangam’s30. I do not know yet whether he would be able to cure in the same way as in those cases a purely physical lesion like hernia.
February 9, 1936
It is a pity you are [troubled] with houses just before the 21st. However, the Mother agrees to lift the burden off your shoulders. But a legal assignment is not advisable, because that would mean having to pay heavy taxes twice, first at the time of assignment and again at the time of sale. What you can do is to make a verbal statement to Prithwisingh before the Mother stating that you have no more to do with the houses and all affairs about them must go to the Mother and be decided by her and also give him a legal power of attorney for transacting all business connected with the property. Duraiswami will be here on the 21st and stay for two or three days, so he can draw up the power. To execute it will then be your last house property trouble. Mother does not propose to use any demolishing thunder but simply to get rid of these dumb and motionless but troublesome elephants for as good a price as we can get and set aside the sum for the house to be built here. All this can be done after the 21st; meanwhile being assured of relief you can breathe freely and blow from your mind house, repairs, tenants and the whole show in one liberating puff of the Brahman.
February 9, 1936
Krishnaprem’s letter to Dilip dated 9 February 1936:
“I fully agree with the doctrine of adhikar but that must not be confused with any former scheme of current in society or invented by the mind. It is much more subtle than that. Let sister Raihana try to impart her love for Krishna to others. In some cases she will succeed in others not and this will be only partially due to her own limitations, because even the greatest, Krishna, Buddha, Christ, could only succeed in some cases and in others could produce no effect. This is adhikar-bheda whether you like the word or not, but it has nothing to do with castes, races or creeds. At any given time some will listen to the flute and some will not – because they are not ready. But why argue? She has found Krishna. He will teach her in her heart whatever she should know.
As for your other friend Subhash, what is all this bother about? Certainly I don’t advocate blind faith. True faith is not blind though the interpreting mind may weave a tissue of partial untruths about the vision just as the same mind may weave a tissue of falsehood around the bare datum of a sense perception, e.g., mistaking a post for a man. St. Paul called faith ‘the evidence of things unseen’. Evidence, not mere mental belief. As a man gradually purifies his nature so his faith will shine more clearly, free from the misunderstandings of the mind. A sectarian believes in all sorts of silly things. It is not his faith that is at fault (I am talking of real faith, mind you) but his poorly developed mind which misinterprets the data given by his faith. We must purify our minds till they can grasp the object of our faith without covering it up with all sorts of silly superstitions. But if we abandon faith we shall be lost, for faith is just the evidence for a higher level of knowledge. It is a thread let down from that higher level and if we turn our back on it we shall just wander contentedly about on the level at which we are. That is what most so-called rationalists do. We must use faith as they do a thread in saving men from shipwreck: they fire a rocket across carrying a light thread. That having been grasped it is used to pull over a stout cord, that – a thin rope and that – a stout hawser which will carry men across.
As for Gurus as ‘incarnate Gods’ as Subhash ridicules it, well, why not? All men are incarnate Gods for one thing – only they know it not; for another, if I can see the God in some man either because he has seen It in himself or because through him a Light has shone for me, why should any one get annoyed? Presumably because he has not seen God anywhere himself, is it not?
‘Ma’ sends her love. She read the Hindi poem you sent Raihana and your Bengali translation, and liked them both very much. She says that being a Bengali she liked the Bengali version best.
Love always from yours affectionately”
Of course, Krishnaprem’s view about the canalisation of Niagara is my standpoint also. But for the human mind it is difficult to get across the border between mind and spirit without making a forceful rush or push along one line only and that must be some line of pure experience in which, especially if it is the bhakti way, one gets easily swallowed up in the rapids (did not Chaitanya at last disappear in the waters?) and goes no farther. The first thing is to break into the spiritual consciousness, any part of it, anyhow and anywhere, afterwards one can explore the country to which exploration there can hardly be a limit; one is always going higher and higher, getting wider and wider; but there is a certain intense ecstasy about the first complete plunge which is extraordinarily seizing. It is not only the bhakta’s rapture, but the jnani’s plunge into Brahma-Nirvana or Brahmananda or release into the still eternity of the Self that is of that seizing and absorbing character – it does not look at first as if one could or would care or need to get beyond into anything else. One cannot find fault with the Sannyasi lost in his laya [annulation of the individual soul in the Infinite] or the Bhakta lost in his ecstasy; they remain there probably because they are constituted for that and it is the limit of their leap. But, all the same, it has always appeared to me that it is a stage and not the end; I subscribe fully to the canalisation of the Niagara.
Adhikara is, of course, a matter of the psychology and the soul and the nature, it has nothing to do with any outer or artificial standards.
Then as to the Avatar and the symbols. There is, it seems to me, a cardinal error in the modern insistence on the biographical and historical, that is to say, the external factuality of the Avatar, the incidents of his outward life. What matters is the spiritual Reality, the Power, the Influence that come with him or that he brought down by his action and his existence. First of all, what matters in a spiritual man’s life is not what he did or what he was outside to the view of the men of his time (that is what historicity or biography comes to, does it not?) but what he was and did within; it is only that that gives any value to his outer life at all. It is the inner life that gives to the outer any power it may have and the inner life of a spiritual man is something vast and full and, at least in the great figures, so crowded and teeming with significant things that no biographer or historian could ever hope to seize it all or tell it. Whatever is significant in the outward life is so because it is a symbol of what has been realised within himself and one may go on and say that the inner life also is only significant as an expression, a living representation of the movement of the Divinity behind it. That is why we need not enquire whether the stories about Krishna were transcripts, however loose, of his acts on earth or are symbol-representations of what Krishna was and is for men, of the Divinity expressing itself in the figure of Krishna. Buddha’s renunciation, his temptation by Mara, his enlightenment under the Bo-tree are such symbols, so too the virgin birth, the temptation in the desert, the crucifixion of Christ are such symbols, true by what they signify, even if they are not scrupulously recorded historical events. The outward facts as related of Buddha or Christ are not much more than what has happened in many other lives – what is it that gives Buddha or Christ their enormous place in the spiritual world? It was because something manifested through them that was more than any outward event or any teaching. The verifiable historicity gives us very little of that, yet it is that only that matters. So it seems to me that Krishnaprem is fundamentally right in what he says of the symbols. To the physical mind only the words and facts and acts of a man matter; to the inner mind it is the spiritual happenings in him that matter. Even the teachings of Buddha and Christ are spiritually true not as mere mental teachings but as the expression of spiritual states or happenings in them which by their life on earth they made possible (or at any rate more dynamically potential) in others. Also, evidently, sectarian walls are a mistake, an accretion, a mental limiting of the Truth which may serve a mental, but not a spiritual purpose. The Avatar or Guru have no meaning if they do not stand for the Eternal; it is that that makes them what they are for the worshipper or the disciple.
It is also a fact that nobody can give you any spiritual realisation which does not come from something in one’s own true Self, it is always the Divine who reveals himself and the Divine is within you; so He who reveals must be felt in your own heart. Your query here simply suggests that this is a truth which can be misinterpreted or misused, but so can every spiritual truth if it is taken hold of in the wrong way – and the human mind has a great penchant for taking Truth by the wrong end and arriving at falsehood. All statements about these things are after all mental statements and at the mercy of the mind that interprets them. There is a snag in every such statement created not by the Truth that it expresses but in the mind’s interpretation. The snag here (what you call the slip) lies not in the statement itself which is quite correct, but in the light in which it may be taken by igrnorant or self-sufficient minds enamoured of their ego. Many have put forward the “own self” gospel without taking the trouble to see whether it is the true Self, have pitted the ignorance of their “own self” against the knowledge of the Guru or made it or something that flattered and fostered it the Ishta Devata31. The snag in the worship of Guru or Avatar is a sectarian bias which insists on the Representative or the Manifestation but loses sight of the Manifested; the snag in the emphasis on the other side is the ignoring of the need of them or belittling of the value of the Representative or Manifestation and the substitution, not of the true Self one in all, but of one’s “own self” as the guide and light. How many have done that here and lost the way through the pull of the magnified ego which is one of the great perils on the way! However that does not lessen the truth of the things said by Krishnaprem, only in looking at them one must put each thing in its place in the harmony of the All which is for us the expression of the Supreme.
February 13, 1936
Of course I bear the mad genius as a disciple. What you say about his dancing seems to be the general opinion – this excellence did not appear on the photograph which indicated an entire lack of the beauty and classic style of Udayshankar’s dances. But photographs are often deceptive. Of course it is quite possible to be an idiot and a genius at the same time – one can, that is to say, be the medium of a specialised and specific force which leaves the rest of the being brute stuff, unchanged and undeveloped. Genius is a phenomenon sui generis [of its own peculiar kind] and many anomalies occur in its constitution by Nature.
As to the offer of your tenant’s relative we had better wait till Prithwisingh comes. But the offer does not seem acceptable.
February 14, 1936
Dr. Ramachandra gave me his correspondence (re. goitre of Raju’s mother) with you to read. Then it appears you have finally agreed it is cured. This evening he told me Rajangam’s hydrocele is all but cured! True?
I asked him en passant (rather struck by the last miracle, as I have never yet heard medicaments curing hydrocele) whether hernia too can then be cured. “Oh, yes” quoth he in the sweetest voice. I told him I had been operated on and the hernia reappeared. “Could such a case be cured?” I asked. He smile angelically and said, “Of course!” “Have you cured any hernia case?” I asked uncertain how to take his angelicity. “Not one, hundreds,” he said seraphically this time. I said, “Shall I then write to Sri Aurobindo and Mother? Will you give me a trial if they help?” “With pleasure, take your chance – and it is of course Mother’s force,” he added last of all.
What do you think of that? It seems from the correspondence you sent special force (re. Raju) as R. was committed. He has not been committed till now re. Dilip who I hope is a slightly better chappie than the octogenarial decrepit lady? Shall I get him committed and then let him appeal to you frantically or will you consent without that and help as you helped with Raju’s mother? Tell me frankly – to cut a long story short – if hydrocele and goitre can be cured may not hernia too be given a trial? Who knows? etc.
My correspondence with R. as regards Raju’s mother cannot have been about goitre, but about the whole case – goitre was only one of a dozen disastrous illnesses that she had; goitre was the least of them while you seem to give it the whole place. I know that the other ailments including senile imbecility and a habit of collapsing sideways when she walked are cured, because the family so certify. About the goitre I told you what I heard; I take it as cured because it was reduced to a minimum when I last heard of it and afterwards dropped out of the list of ailments reported in daily. About Rajangam’s hydrocele I know nothing except that some time ago he reported a great improvement – since then I am without news from the front and Rajangam himself has told me nothing.
As for R-s assurances about hernia, they seem to me angelical but indefinite, I know nothing about the capacity of homeopathy to cure hernia even acting as a means for the Force. As for the hundreds of cases of hernia that he has cured, you must not forget that he has lived and studied in America! The only thing to do is for me to ask him whether he is really prepared to take your case. All he said to you was about taking your chance – which is not too encouraging – generally when he is confident about a case, he is more ebullient in his expressions than that. However I will write to him and see.
February 19, 1936
I have read Nishikanta’s poem. He has a remarkable gift of music and language and of skilful weaving of sound and work. The comparison with Swinburne32 imposes itself and the resemblance is very striking – it is as if Swinburne had migrated into the Bengali language. The danger of such writing is a too great facility and an excess of sound and language over significance. In order to equal or surpass Tagore he has to develop a power of deep feeling and deep significance equal to his other powers and arrive at a perfect equation or balance between sound + language and sense. In the greatest poets every line, every phrase tells. Tagore himself does not by any means always arrive at that perfection, but at his best he does. Smaller poets also when they arrive at their best do it by this fusion, even though it is achieved at a lower height and it is by the poems in which they so succeed that they take their place in poetic literature among the immortals. Nishikanta of course often does that and his work is then truly remarkable.
About the box for the tambura the best will be if you speak to Amrita who will arrange with Yogananda.
February 20, 1936
That is all right. The power of attorney will have to be drawn up so that all affairs connected with the houses will be covered and you will be delivered from all farther trouble on that score. Duraiswamy will see to it.
All right about the second pranam and Sarat Chatterji. I hope you will dismiss the headache instanter – it may be only a house headache perhaps and now that that pressure is removed shall disappear!
As for money-grabbing I fear all countries are like that nowadays – it is an “economic” world we are living in – with a very badly upset economy, a world governed by Mammon but Mammon suffering from overeating and a bad chronic stomach-ache. Perhaps there is hope of better things in that stomach-ache.
February 20, 1936
I am afraid this highly informal way of signing Duraiswami’s draft won’t go down with legal-minded people. I am afraid you will have to take the trouble of either writing it with your own hand or typing it and then signing. Forms are forms – gue voulez-vous [what would you]?
I struggled with Mahendra’s philosopho-aesthetic flourishes but after much slipping and stumbling about amid tails and curls and arabesques could only form a speculative idea of his meaning. I have kept these formidable documents for farther study.
Couldn’t yet finish K. P. comments which became longer than I wanted. Better luck tomorrow.
February 22, 1936
But why allow these houses still to weigh heavily upon you? In essence you are relieved of them and they or their weight should be now only the impression of a past Maya?
As for Harin and his names – well that was to be expected. It is his usual method and tune when one fails to please him. But the final effect with most people is likely to be the same as with Arindam.
I hope you got through all right with the American visitors. I don’t know if they have heard Indian music before or learned to understand and enjoy it – if so, they ought to prove responsive.
February 26, 1936
The only thing to do with this impulse to go is to throw it away. It is nothing but a push from the forces which want you to fail and want the Yoga and the work to fail; whenever they see that some forward movement is going on, they get restless and push their way in through this old habit of sadness and despondency. As they could not use the old excuses for clouding the darshan time, they took this affair of the property as a basis. But if you clear your mind from their suggestions, you shall see that the whole thing is quite flimsy. That men are attached to money or possession is a thing known ever since humanity began its course. That when one gives up money or property, there will be plenty of “friendly” voices to say: “Don’t do it, don’t do it – too rash, too foolish.” – that too is an old experience and inevitable. What is there in all that to trouble you and make you want to renounce sadhana and the Godward will? The trouble of the property is going to be taken off your shoulders, so there is no cause for depression there. Again your giving of the houses and your going away are two opposite acts and cannot go together. One is an act of faith, love, confidence, self-giving – the other is just the opposite, a movement away from the Divine, away from the Mother. How can the two be compatible?
Until you allowed these suggestions to sadden you – and sadness always opens the way to the old trouble, if it is not rejected – you were going on very well; the psychic basis was growing and strengthening itself and that is the main thing to do now. The psychic basis once strong enough, all the old remnants of vital weakness or attachment would fall off of themselves without trouble. But what these despondencies do is to reawaken the painful struggle and tapasya – as evidenced by your letter of the morning about the dinner, etc. There is no use in reviving that – it is a painful method of struggling out of the vital evil and it is not quicker than the easier and less painful way.
You have to get back to the psychic feeling and attitude. That is the only thing to be done.
P.S. I do not see any harm in the social invitation in itself; if there is any vital froth, it will blow itself away in time. To pursue Yoga seriously is all right, of course.
February 1936 (?)
(Duhamel33 wrote in an article that he was deeply impressed by the music of Doctor Dilip Kumar Roy, which was the best of all Eastern music he had heard. Overjoyed by such a tribute from one of the greatest living writers of the west Dilipda sent the article to Sri Aurobindo.)
Duhamel is interesting and he has written very nicely about you – but he seems to have given you an official title!
Nishikanta has indeed bloomed out, but with his great facility of diction and rhythm he must be careful to keep his substance up to the mark as he did in the sonnets. Facility was the [rule] of Swinburne and did much to diminish the possibility of sustained perfection in Shelley.
I am glad to hear and see that you are maintaining the quiet of the mind and walking steadily and smoothly and finely... [Incomplete]
March 2, 1936
This poem of Nishikanta he asks me to send up to you. On re-reading it I am a little mystified as to its import. He told me what it meant, still it wasn’t quite clear to me. The sound, rhythm, etc. are fine enough indeed, but what about its drift?
Tell us what impression it makes on you. We like it for its word-portraiture, yet what is the portrait it achieves? Qu’en dites-vous? And would you call this a symbolic poem or a colourful mystic one? What?
I suppose it would be called a symbolic vision – it is not a mystic one. Not that a poem cannot be symbolic and mystic at the same time. For instance Nishikanta’s English poem of the vision of the Lion-flame and the Deer-flame, beauty and power, was symbolic and mystic at once. It is when the thing seen is lived and gets, as it were, an independent vivid reality of its own which exceeds any symbolic significance that it is mystic. In the symbolic poem the mind is more active and the reader wants to know what it means to the mind, as you do with this one, but as minds differ, the poet may attach one meaning to it and the reader may find another, if the image used is at all an imaginative one, not mentally clear and precise. In the mystic poem the mind is submerged in the vividness of the reality and any mental explanation falls far short of what is felt and lived in the deeper vital or psychic response to the poem. This is what Housman in his book tries to explain with regard to Blake’s poetry though he misses altogether the real nature of the response. What the poem suggests to me is the miraculous Divine Power (Kali) in the night of Time (Ignorance?) standing beside the occult consciousness, in that night (the Cake) and doing her miracles there. I don’t know whether that was Nishikanta’s own conception.
March 5, 1936
I do not know whether your proposed holiday will have the result you suggest. Anyhow we will keep it hanging in the clouds for the gods to deal with it.
What is most important is that you should not rush away throwing behind you your aspiration and your spiritual life and indulging dark suggestions of death and defeat. To go in that way or that mood would be disastrous and must be avoided altogether.
For the rest we will make an effort for the real relief and see – for after all that is the only solution?
March 8, 1936
What Krishnaprem writes (I have not read it yet) is perfectly true that purification of the heart is necessary before there can be the spiritual attainment. All ways of spiritual seeking are agreed on that. Purification and consecration are two great necessities of sadhana. It is not a fact that one must be pure in heart before one can have any Yogic experience at all, but those who have experiences before purification is done run a great risk. It is much better to have the heart pure first, for then the way becomes safe. Nor can the Divine dwell in one’s consciousness, if that consciousness is obscure with impurity. It is for the same reason that I advocate the psychic change of the nature first – for that means the purification of the heart, the turning of it wholly to the Divine, the subjection of the mind, of the vital passions, desires, demands, of the physical instincts to the control of the inner being, the soul. What Krishnaprem calls intuitions I would describe as psychic intimations or, as some experience it, the voice of the soul showing the outer members what is the true thing to be done. Always, when the soul is in front, one gets the right guidance from within [as to] what is to be done, what avoided, what is the wrong thing or the true thing in thought, feeling, action. But this inner intimation emerges in proportion as the consciousness grows more and more pure.
I never intended that Sarat should stay here; he came for darshan and sat down here without a “by your leave”. I allowed him to remain for a while to see if he got any profit out of it; afterwards came his repeated illness and he somehow stuck on till one. What I meant by some concrete method was things like repetition of a mantra, pranayama, asana, etc. He has been doing these things even here or some of them at least; it is the only thing he really understands (or misunderstands?); but purification of the heart he has not been capable of doing. What I mean by subtle methods is psycho-logical, non-mechanical processes – e.g., concentration in the heart, surrender, self-purification, working out by inner means the change of the consciousness. This does not mean that there is no outer change – the outer change is necessary but as a part of the inner change. If there is impurity and insincerity within, the outer change will not be effective, but if there is a sincere inner working, the outer change will help it and accelerate the process. What use is Sarat’s eating less except for his body’s health? But if a man seeks to restrain and get rid of his greed for food or attachment, (not by starvation, though) then he is doing something useful to his sadhana.
Jashwant’s case is different. His main stumbling-block was ambition, pride, vanity, the desire to be a big yogi with occult powers. To try to bring down occult powers into an unpurified mind, heart and body – well, you can do it if you want to dance on the edge of a precipice. Or you can do it if your aim is not to be spiritual but to be an occultist, for then you can follow the necessary methods and get the help of the occult powers. But the occult spiritual forces and masteries can be called down or [can] come down without calling only if that is quite secondary to the true thing, the seeking for the Divine, and if it is part of the Divine plan in you. Occult powers can only be for the spiritual man an instrumentation of the Divine Power that uses him, they cannot be the aim or an aim of his sadhana. I don’t know who started Jashwant on this false path or whether he hit on it himself; many people here have a habit of doing yoga according to their own ideas without caring for the guidance of the Guru – from whom, however, they expect an entire protection and success in sadhana even if they prance or gambol into the wrongest paths possible.
Of course, renunciation of sex is indispensable for the purification you seek – the heart must be pure and consecrated to the Divine. There must be no turn left that side. As for food, well, that is not so much a purification of the heart as of the vital in the physical, but it is of course very helpful to get control there. The purification of the heart is the central necessity, but a purification of the mind, vital and physical is also called for. But the most important thing for purification of the heart is an absolute sincerity. No pretence with oneself, no concealment from the Divine, or oneself, or the Guru, a straight look at one’s nature and one’s movements, a straight will to make them straight. It does not so much matter if it takes time; one must be prepared to make it one’s whole life-task to seek the Divine. Purifying the heart means after all a pretty considerable achievement and it is no use getting despondent, despairful, etc., because one finds things in oneself that still need to be changed. If one keeps the true will and true attitude, then the intuitions or intimations from within will begin to grow, become clear, precise, unmistakable and the strength to follow them will grow also. And then before even you are satisfied with yourself, the Divine will be satisfied with you and begin to withdraw the veil by which he protects himself and his seekers against a premature and perilous grasping of the greatest thing to which humanity can aspire.
March 9, 1936
Your whole-hearted acceptance of the Vaishnava idea and Bhakti becomes rather bewildering when it is coupled with an insistence that love cannot be given to the Divine until one has experience of the Divine. For what is more common in the Vaishnava attitude than the joy of Bhakti for its own sake? “Give me bhakti”, it cries, “whatever else you may keep from me. Even if it is long before I can meet you, even if you delay to manifest yourself, let my bhakti, my seeking for you, my cry, my love, my adoration be always there.” How constantly the Bhakta has sung, “All my life I have been seeking you and still you are not there, but still I seek and cannot cease to seek and love and adore.” If it were really impossible to love God unless you first experience him, how could this be? In fact, your mind seems to be putting the cart before the horse. One seeks after God first, with persistence or with passion, one finds him afterwards, some sooner than others, but most after a long seeking. One does not find him first, then seek after him. Even a glimpse often only comes after long or fervent seeking. One has the love of God or at any rate some heart’s desire for him and afterwards one becomes aware of God’s love, its reply to the heart’s desire, its response of the supreme joy and Ananda. One does not say to God, “Show your love for me first, shower on me the experience of yourself, satisfy my demand, then I will see whether I can love you so long as you deserve it.” It is surely the seeker who must seek and love first, follow the quest, become impassioned for the Sought – then only does the veil move aside and the Light be seen and the Face manifest that alone can satisfy the soul after its long sojourn in the desert.
Then again you may say, “Yes, but whether I love or not, I want, I have always wanted and now I want more and more, but I get nothing.” Yes, but wanting is not all. As you now begin to see, there are conditions that have to be met – like the purification of the heart. Your thesis was, “Once I want God, God must manifest to me, come to me, at least give glimpses of himself to me, the real, solid, concrete experience, not mere vague things which I can’t understand or value. God’s Grace must answer my call for it, whether I yet deserve it or not – or else there is no Grace.” God’s Grace may indeed do that in certain cases, but where does the “must” come in. If God must do it, it is no longer God’s Grace, but God’s duty or an obligation or a contract or a treaty. The Divine looks into the heart and removes the veil at the moment which He knows to be the right moment to do it. You have laid stress on the bhakti theory that one has only to call his name and he must reply, he must at once be there. Perhaps, but for whom is this true? For a certain kind of Bhakta surely who feels the power of the Name, who has the passion of the Name and puts it into his cry. If one is like that, then there may be the immediate reply – if not, one has to become like that, then there will be the reply. But some go on using the Name for years, before there is an answer. Ramakrishna himself got it after a few months, but what months! and what a condition he had to pass through before he got it! Still he succeeded quickly because he had a pure heart already – and that divine passion in it.
It is not surely the Bhakta but the man of knowledge who demands experience first. He can say, “How can I know without experience?” but he even goes on seeking like Tota Puri34 even though for thirty years, striving for the decisive realisation. It is really the man of intellect, the rationalist who says, “Let God, if he exists, prove himself to me first, then I will believe, then I will make some serious and prolonged effort to explore him and see what he is like.”
All this does not mean that experience is irrelevant to sadhana – I certainly cannot have said such a stupid thing. What I have said is that the love and seeking of the Divine can be and ordinarily is there before the experience comes – it is an instinct, an inherent longing in the soul and it comes up as soon as certain coverings of the soul disappear or begin to disappear. The next thing I have said is that it is better to get the nature ready first (the purified heart and all that) before the “experiences” begin rather than the other way round and I base that on the many cases there have been of the danger of experiences before the heart and vital are ready for the true experience. Of course, in many cases there is a true experience first, a touch of the Grace, but it is not something that lasts and is always there, but rather something that touches and withdraws and waits for the nature to net ready. But this is not so in every case, not even in many cases, I believe. One has to begin with the soul’s inherent longing, then the struggle with the nature to get the temple ready, then the unveiling of the Image, the permanent Presence in the sanctuary.
P.S. All this is of course only an answer couched in mental terms to your one objection or inability to conceive how one can love God without having first known Him or had experience of Him. But mental reasoning by itself leads to nothing – it is something in yourself that has to see and then there is no difficulty. Fortunately, you are moving near to that. Nor would I trouble at all about this point, if you did not make of it a support for depression and despair. Otherwise it would have no importance, since with one idea or with the other one can arrive at the goal because the soul drives towards it.
March 10, 1936
It was never my intention to suggest that there was only a faint hope of your sadhana depending on the if of surrender. I have always said the contrary, that since your soul wants the Divine truly, you are sure to reach him; only if you give up – and that is why I strongly object to these despondencies apart from the suffering they inflict, because they try to drive you to that – can it be frustrated or rather postponed to a far future.
What I wrote was in answer to your statement about your former idea of the Yoga that if one wanted the Divine, the Divine himself would take up the purifying of the heart and develop the sadhana and give the necessary experiences. I meant to say that it can and does happen in that way if one has trust and confidence in the Divine and the will to surrender. For such a taking up involves one’s putting oneself in the hands of the Divine rather than trusting to one’s own efforts alone and it implies one’s putting one’s trust and confidence in the Divine and a progressive self-giving. It is in fact the principle of sadhana that I myself followed and it is the central part of the Yoga as I envisage it. It is, I suppose, what Ramakrishna meant by the method of the baby cat in his image. But all cannot follow that at once; it takes time for them to arrive at it – it grows most when the mind and vital fall quiet.
What I meant by surrender was this inner surrender of the mind and vital. There is of course the outer surrender also, the giving up of all that is found to conflict with the spirit or need of the sadhana, the offering, the obedience to the guidance of the Divine, whether directly if one has reached that stage, or through the psychic or to the guidance of the Guru. I may say that prāyopaveśana [a very long fast generally leading to death] does not seem to me to have anything to do with surrender; it is a form of tapasya of a very austere and to my opinion very excessive kind, often dangerous. But what I was speaking of in my letter was the inner surrender.
The core of this inner surrender is trust and confidence in the Divine. One takes the attitude, “I want the Divine and nothing else”. (I do not know why you should think that you can be asked to give up that – if there is not that, then the Yoga cannot be done.) “I want to give myself entirely to him and since my soul wants that, it cannot be but that I shall meet him and realise him. I ask nothing but that and his action in me to bring me to him, his action secret or open, veiled or manifest. I do not insist on my own time and way; let him do all in his own time and way, I shall believe in him, accept his will, aspire steadily for his Light and presence and joy, go through all difficulties and delays relying on him and never giving up. Let my mind be quiet and turn to him and let him open to it his Light; let my vital be quiet and turn to him alone and let him open it to his calm and joy. All for him and myself for him. Whatever happens, I will keep to this aspiration and self-giving and go on in perfect reliance that it will be done.” That is the attitude into which one must grow; for certainly, it cannot be made perfect at once; mental and vital movements come across; but if one keeps the will to it, it will grow in the being. The rest is a matter of obedience to the guidance when it makes itself manifest – not allowing one’s mental or vital movements to interfere.
It was not my intention to say that this way is the only way and sadhana cannot be done otherwise – there are so many others by which one can approach the Divine. But this is the only one I know by which the taking up of the sadhana by the Divine becomes a sensible fact before the preparation of the nature is done. In other methods the Divine action and help may be felt from time to time, but it remains mostly behind the veil till all is ready. In some sadhanas the Divine action is not recognised; all must be done by tapasya. In most there is a mixing of the two; the tapasya finally calling the direct help and intervention. The idea and experience of the Divine doing all belongs to the yogas based on surrender.
But whatever way is followed, the one thing to be done is to be faithful and go to the end. You have so often taken that decision – stand by it, do not let the storms of the vital quench the aspiration of your soul.
March 10, 1936
All can be done by the Divine, the heart and nature purified, the inner consciousness awakened, the veils removed, if one gives oneself to the Divine with trust and confidence – and even if one cannot do so fully at once, yet the more one does 80, the more the inner help and guidance comes and the contact and the experience of the Divine grows within. If the questioning mind becomes less active and humility and the will to surrender grow in you, this ought to be perfectly possible. No other strength and tapasya are then needed, but this alone.
P.S. There was no question of publishing the letter. It was only for Nolini’s record book that he wanted a copy.
March 11, 1936
I can only hope that this depression and the suggestions it brings will pass away soon. You were making very good progress before it touched you. There is no impossibility in the purification of the heart which was the thing you were trying for and when the heart is purified, other things which seemed impossible before become easy – even the inner surrender which now seems to you impracticable. I at any rate will go on trusting in your spiritual destiny until the performance of what you describe as “the miracle”.
March 13, 1936
I am glad the cloud is lifting and hope to find it lifted altogether soon. It is the usual experience that if the humility and resignation are firmly founded in the heart, other things like trust come naturally afterwards. If once the psychic light and happiness, which is born of these things is founded, it is not easy for other forces to cloud that state and not possible for them to destroy it. That is the common experience.
March 13, 1936
I did not expect that you would take what I wrote as a description of your personal ideas and feelings – if I had intended that I would certainly not have written in that way. As I usually do when I put things in the form of a mental reasoning, I took the idea dealt with and brought out its logical implications. I never meant that it had taken that form in your own thoughts and feelings about the Divine – any more than when I put the imaginary rationalist’s position with regard to God, which obviously could not be yours, as in that case you would never have thought of Yoga. I am sorry however that I put the thing in a way which could be misunderstood as personal sarcasm and still more that anything written by me should have so much disturbed you and prevented your recovery from depression. I hope that you will dismiss from your mind the idea that I meant anything like that.
I shall try to give you all the help in my power. I do hope that you will be able to get rid of the idea of personal impossibility or unfitness for reaching the goal – for it is not true and this feeling must be surely the cause of the feeling of suffering when you meditate.
March 17, 1936
I have no objection to your favouring Walking Language Thomson (it is as good a classic as the journey of Flying Vishwanath Gopal) with a letter. The one you have written will do, I think. But the postscript you propose won’t do, for it might make him think that you are admitting the truth of charges against me and justifying my conduct only on the around of my being above human judgments. That would be dangerous, for we don’t know what he may have heard – there are some pretty lurid things going about European! Pondicherry e.g. that in the Ashram there is a sedulous culture of ritual immorality, left-hand Tantrik orgies, myself leading the life of a debauchee, etc., etc. It may be something else he has heard, but his distress is a sad and ominous sign. So no postscript, please – or if any only a line to say that it occurs to you that perhaps he has heard some of the wilder gossips current in certain circles in Pondicherry but you cannot believe a man of his standing and culture would give these absurdities any credence.
March 22, 1936
There is no rule excluding emotion from the field of Yoga unless of course it is a Yoga of pure knowledge and nothing else. Emotion is necessary for Bhakti, so it must find a place in any Yoga in which Bhakti is a necessary element. So your increase of emotion does not disqualify you for Yoga. Also cold calm is not the thing aimed at by the sadhak or attained by the siddha [accomplished yogi]. Cold calm is possible to certain kinds of Asuras, but the divine Calm is not cold; it is a basis for Light, Power, Love, Ananda and these are not things that take root in the ice. So there too fear is groundless.
As for the turning of all to the Divine, that is a counsel of perfection for those who want to go fast and far and so don’t care to carry any baggage. But otherwise friendship whether between man and man or man and woman or woman and woman is not forbidden – provided it is the true thing and sex does not come in and also provided it does not turn one away from the goal. If the central aim is strong, that is sufficient.
March 25, 1936
I was unable to get through the whole of Nishikanta’s poem tonight, so I could not give the opinion he wants at once. I shall try to do it tomorrow. His dream poem also waits. I can’t yet say definitely about the whole; for I have been able to read as yet with the necessary care only the first half – the opening pages I find truly remarkable for the truth and power of their description of these things (here the blind and dark opposition of the physical and subconscient nature to the Divine Light). I shall however give my opinion on both, but... [incomplete]
March 26, 1936
What happened is a thing that often happens and – taking your account of it – it reproduced in your case the usual stages. First, you sat down in prayer – that means a call to the Above, if I may so express it. Next came the necessary condition for the answer to the prayer to be effective – “little by little a sort of restfulness came”, in other words, the quietude of the consciousness which is necessary before the Power that has to act can act. Then the rush of the Force or Power, “a flood of energy and sense of power and glow”, and the natural concentration of the being in inspiration and expression, the action of the Power. This is the thing that used to happen daily to the physical workers in the Ashram. Working with immense energy and enthusiasm with a passion for the work they might after a time feel tired – then they would call the Mother and a sense of rest come into them and with or after it a flood of energy so that twice the amount of work could be done without the least fatigue or reaction. In many there was a spontaneous call of the vital for the Force, so that they felt the flood of energy as soon as they began the work and it continued so long as the work had to be done.
The vital is the means of effectuation on the physical plane, so its action and energy are necessary for all work – without it, if the mind only drives without the co-operation and instrumentation of the vital, there is hard and disagreeable labour and effort with results which are usually not at all of the best kind. The ideal state for work is when there is a natural concentration of the consciousness in the special energy, supported by an easeful rest and quiescence of the consciousness as a whole. Distraction of the mind by other activities disturbs this balance of ease and concentrated energy – fatigue also disturbs or destroys it. The first thing therefore that has to be done is to bring back the supporting restfulness and this is ordinarily done by cessation of work and repose. In the experience you had that was replaced by a restfulness that came from above in answer to your station of prayer and an energy that also came from above. It is the same principle as in sadhana – the reason why we want people to make the consciousness quiet so that the higher peace may come in and on the basis of that peace a new Force from above.
It is not effort that brought the inspiration. Inspiration comes from above in answer to a state of concentration which is itself a call to it. Effort on the contrary fatigues the consciousness and therefore is not favourable to the best work; the only thing is that sometimes – by no means always – effort culminates in a pull for the inspiration which brings some answer, but it is not usually so good and effective an inspiration as that which comes when there is the easy and intense concentration of the energy in its work. Effort and expenditure of energy are not necessarily the same thing – the best expenditure of energy is that which flows easily without effort at all – when the Inspiration or Force (any Force) works of itself and the mind and vital and even body rowing instruments and the Force flows out in an intense and happy working – an almost labourless labour.
March 29, 1936
I was glad to get your evening letter. It is the true attitude from the point of view of the inner sadhana, the one that helps it best. I hope that, like that, this inopportune arrival will not be an appreciable disturbance to you. As to other results – not too easy to get – suggested by Sahana, I don’t know. We can only Asquithianly35 wait and see.
April 4, 1936
Your conversation with Saurin seems to have had some effect. Mother has said she will give him his chance and he is to come for Pranam tomorrow.
As for Maya, she did write about coming here in August, but we saw no reason to encourage her. Mother does not feel at all sure that she can stay. When she is there, she pants under the weight of Shankar and longs for Pondicherry; when she is here she pants for Shankar and longs for Barrackpore. At any rate Mother is positive about this that if she comes, she must stay in a separate house with her own arrangements, not in the Trésor [Dilip’s house] nor in the Ashram. That is all the push I can give you at present on that matter, it is not very rosy, but – well. It is better to begin with grey and blossom into rose like the Biblical wilderness than to follow the opposite process.
April 24, 1936
The Mother has no trust in this tenant, Banerji – he has shown himself to be a rogue and in any dealing with him we are sure to burn our fingers. The rent of 200 Rs. for the two houses is much too low and if we leave the repairs, etc. to them, there is no surety as to what they will do or whether they will keep the house in good condition. We don’t think his proposition is worth looking at – it is too much to his own advantage and too little to ours.
If you answer him, it would be best to let him know that you have given a power of attorney to Prithwisingh for all matters related to the houses and ask him to place the proposition before him.
April 25, 1936
With your grace I have worked like a door-nail and finished the last 150 pages of my novel today working till 2.30 p.m. when I ate three fried potatoes with a virtuous and impenitent glow! It will now need a final revision of about a month’s fairly hard work when the chiselling, polishing, etc. (not by any means less important than the working out of the inspiration) will give it the finishing touch: then to press. It will be a longish novel, you know, full of psychic intimations of how many pages do you think? Not less than 600 pages in print. In about a month and a half. Not bad work, eh?
Maya’s letter: please note what Esha says marked in red. She is a truly surprising sort of a girl, truly. It is a really curious case – eh? Rather a pleasing case though in this world of anti-divinism, what?
She is one of the “New Children”, but not very lucky in her choice of a father and surroundings. Let us hope she will overcome this handicap and fulfil herself.
I enclose Buddhadev’s letter and Rs.1,8 annas for a signed photograph of yours for his brother Professor of Dehradun. He asks also for a copy of Mother’s Conversations which I trust Mother will grant him.
Right. Both request will be attended to.
Lastly I enclose a syllabus of music. The reason? Voila;
My publisher sends me this and eggs me on to write the text. It would be easy enough for me, a little bit of hard work for a fortnight only. A little money in the game to be offered at yours and Mother’s feet. So your blessing needed. Needed particularly as there will be not a little competition. I have just written a long letter to my Vice-Chancellor friend (he was once very friendly to me, don’t know how he feels towards me now though!) Syama-prasad Mukerjee (Ashutosh’s son)36 saying that I am ready to take it up if he wishes me to take it up. For lots of people will be eager to write this text (thousands of copies will be sold willy-nilly) and so I am hesitant about taking up a task unless the Vice-Chancellor is prasanna [pleased] towards me. I am not afraid of competition – but I am not on the spot you see, others will submit and flatter and entreat, etc. which I am not fitted by nature to do – besides it can’t be done from here for that matter. So send a little force, as it will easily fetch a few thousands – rather a wind-fallish sort of a thing don’t you know, in these days of slump. Send some force on the Vice-Chancellor to make him smile to Dilip that’s all, if you know what I mean, eh?
Well, University authorities like all authorities present many hurdles in the way of the hopeful – but let us tackle the hurdle.
I intend lolling for a day or two after a lot of protracted hard work for weeks – with novels, mountainous proofs, music, poetry, letters (heaps I had to write) and what not. How best to loll though is a problem, and I don’t expect you could help me out with illuminating suggestions? Well, well. I will sleep anyhow, and take more sea-baths. By the way please note I am taking sea-bath fairly regularly. It is doing me a lot of good (to my neck rheumatism that is). I thought I had better let you know. You are right about that Banerji tenant of mine. Have written to him to lay his case to Prithwi.
All right about the sea-baths. As for lolling there is no how about it, one just lolls – if one has the genius for it. I have, though opportunities are now lacking for showing my genius. But it can’t be taught, nor any process invented – it is just a gift of Nature.
By the way I have a letter from Prithwisingh – it appears that it was your uncle who pressed him to accept the Brahmana Sabha offer of 35,000 [thirty five thousands] saying it was a very advantageous offer – all whom he consulted concurred. Your uncle Khagendranath Majumdar asked him to write and tell Dilip it is a good offer and should be accepted and he thinks the family interest would not be lost as it is a public body that buys(!). Prithwisingh hopes to get forty thousand for the other house.
April 26, 1936
I have retyped. Only in the last line but two in the first page please note. How to put in “antagonist” as a friend to metre here? eh?
The “to” after “resolute” was supposed to have been erased. “Antagonist” then goes in quite easily.
Please let me know what you didn’t have time to explain last night about my being too imageful and need to tone down á la modern version.
That was not what I meant. I meant I had no time to explain in each case why I made the corrections – as I very often do.
How did you like this song though when I sang, eh?
I worked very hard at an article all day – (no lolling alas) – for the Ramakrishna Centenary.
Mother said my meditation too improved! Joyous what? Though how it had the time to improve when I worked all the time, eh? Strange, what? But I do feel very devoted to her, truly Guru, joking apart. That is surely not of bad augury, meditation or no meditation, what?
Yes, she told me she had a very good meditation with you. That of course is the main thing – or the “mainspring” – for where devotion is, all else can come!
Tagore’s Man about to leave Heaven for Earth said to the former in his valedictory jeremiad: “Now at the term of my stay in your hospitable abode I had hoped that you would shed one tear for me: but alas, you. Celestials, are heartless. You don’t seem to miss me even so much as a dry leaf is missed by the parent branch when the former falls to the ground. So... (I give you the original below) Ibid you adieu as Heaven wants no one” ... etc. Qu’en dites-vous re what the Mortal says to the Immortals (in Tagore’s “Farewell to Heaven”): ...
Very good poetry, but very bad psychology and no common sense! In the first place, because sorrow being alien to Heaven by the poet’s own statement, no one who was still there could talk in this strain: even going out of it he would still carry the atmosphere and would have to wait till he was born on earth to emit his first wail. In the second because, no one who had been strong enough to reach Heaven and be a comrade of the Gods, would separate from them in this lachrymose spirit. What he would be likely to say is this: “I depart earthwards since that is the law. One boon only I ask of you, if I merit it, that something of your Light, Strength, Joy and Peace shall be in touch with my mind and treasured in my heart in the midst of Earth’s sorrows and dangers, so that I may bear myself as one who was the companion of the Immortals and rise again to higher and higher Heavens till I touch the feet of the Divine”. As for the question whether Heaven wants Man, the answer is that if Heaven did not want him, he would not want Heaven. It is from Heaven that the longing and aspiration for Immortality have come: and it is the Godhead within him that carries it as a seed.
May 1, 1936
Working mightily night and morning at the syllabus text. It will mean serious work though, so grant force, etc. and the spirit of humble offering. I want to offer all I have, can, and am to you and Mother, if you know what I mean, what? Here is a song I composed today [eso basantey mukharo gandhey neerabo nandaney], Sahana will set tune to it for the syllabus so Force to her too, O Guru, eh?
All force available at your disposal – and Sahana’s. Of course I know what you mean – may it be so.
I find this song of Jyoti on Krishna in his silent aspect rather attractive and full of poetic possibilities too, so I made some more changes and made that idea more central and dominating. As I read it I find I am rather captivated by its beauty. Jyoti had in the others égaré [strayed] a little from this central theme but as I conned it with nididhyāsana [a profound meditation] this mom it came rather forcefully to me. I feel you will find it greatly improved that is why I send – especially by way of contrast to the wealth of beauty-aspect which my original Hindi song portrays.
Nishikanta has written an attractive twin to my song of yesterday to which I have set the same music. Please adjudge. I will send you a truly magnificent long poem of Nishikanta this evening which you must read and enjoy – on the Jaydev37 model, more about it in the evening. In the meanwhile read these in ten minutes to be prepared for the inundation of poetry and image and opulence in laghu guru – and one of the most difficult and original metrical caviares of Jaydev. It will convince you more that I had made no mistake at all prophesying about laghu guru’s potentialities. A prophet too, awakes in me, what? Still why do I think – no Yoga for me? – with such unerring intuitions? eh? Qu’en dites-vous?
Quite so. Creator, prophet, seer, sage, the four degrees go together. You have jumped two hurdles – why not the others?
Yes, Jyotirmoyi’s is good. Nishikanta always shows the same skill. But I have kept the long one because the time was really too short to study it.
May 2, 1936
I send today a fine song Nishikanta has composed on you (also four others which I will set to music by and by) ... and which I have set to music (lovely music by the way is coming – give Mother my thanks for her inspiration). Also I send a Hindi song of mine composed a la Hindi (i.e. laghu guru) which I set to music yesterday. Working hard as ever.
A little unfortunate quarrel though. Last night I went to Sahana to have prasad38 (every Friday that is) and one thing led to another: she wished she had never got into this arduous work. For it seems now (we had not understood the syllabus) in each raga39 four songs. Sixteen ragas =16 x 4 good Lord: sixty-four songs instead of sixteen songs as we thought, + six kirtans40 = seventy songs. So I told her then I will have to write to the publishers washing my hands of this job. She wants to weave, you see, and therefore I had to give her Nishkriti as she put it – in a huff. I came back and puffed with heroism said, “Never you mind, old fellow, you have undertaken it and you can’t back out.” So it will be hard work for two months instead of a fortnight. Soit. But with your blessing, ] might do it, if you know what I mean. It is rather unfortunate that Sahana backed out like this, but never mind, I won’t blame anyone and go on with it hard pressed as I am with a variety of work. But please do send on force unintermittently, for it is a work worth doing composing music, songs, etc. writing about Ragas for beginners; I am glad my technical knowledge of music41 which I took so much pains to acquire once will now stand me in good stead. Capital, what?
The songs are very beautiful. I shall certainly send all force possible to back your heroic effort till you stand on the summit of achievement surrounded by your seventy songs like Apollo on Parnassus engirt by his nine (only) Muses.
May 5, 1936
I have written to Prithwisingh today giving him all the necessary information item by item. At present I am even beyond the reach of suicide for house-worries. So I trust I will pull through – thanks to Krishna’s dance and your grace and Mother’s. An instance in point.
Last evening a melody tinkled and I sat down after a meditative meditation with Mother in the evening and Jo, the enclosed came through. What do you think of it? Symbolic? Mystic? Or both? Or none? Lyric-dramatic? Anyhow I was in great joy after writing it – as I did not intend at all to write this. It came through Krishna’s dance perhaps. Nirod and others are charmed by it. And the music that has come is lovely. Please tell me your opinion to buck me up.
Your poem [Durashi] is indeed exceedingly beautiful. I don’t know that it can be called symbolic or mystic exactly, though if it is either, it would be the first, but it has a vital beauty supported by a psychic emotion which makes it very exquisite.
May 8, 1936
Do you know what? Your force has done wonders, fancy that! I mean on an August Head as the Vice-! The Vice-Chancellor’s letter herewith. A most unexpectedly cordial letter – a virtual promise to accept my text42 or rather ours – since Sahana is appeased again and thinks of taking it up again. You see, don’t you, that it means a solution of the problem of competition and jobbery of men on the spot?
Quite. But it means that Vice is becoming a Virtue – as is proper in a Vice-Chancellor.
So – J must offer you my gratefulness for this – since I have been working like a ghost from morning till night. Yesterday I set five songs to music, fancy that – and written the whole stuff in my perfect “lotus-lettered form” padmākshar [meticulous handwriting]. Truly my script too is improving, fancy that! What is then not possible in Yoga – except perhaps success in it?
Transformation, by Jove!
Another fine news. Nishikanta is producing truly lovely songs – all of the right kind (I mean from the musical point of view) of which his songs in laghu gum are a treat (from the composer’s point of view especially) and I include six of them of which five I set to music yesterday and today.
His rhythms are indeed wonderful. What a gift.
Please note ālo/shubha/ālo and sudūra/tama/sāthee is the new metre invented by me from the musical tal43 – a very handy and charming metre from the musical point again! So everything is going top-hole what! Q’en dites-vous? Must say something, what!
Nirod is furiously trying to write one song in laghu guru as his song I sang to him this mom. Send him force please.
Nirod has just given me a laghu guru: not quite successful yet but has promise. So more force absolutely essential.
It shall be given.
By the way Venkataram asks me to sing to one Rami Reddy and people. I am just now awfully busy as you know. But I may have a little respite for an evening-singing these songs for a change. I would like to have a little soirée (only a few people) to-morrow as I don’t like crowds now-a-days.
P.P.S. I will askAmiya, Sbanta, Padmasini and Kiran from the Vigy house, may I?Kamala too generally comes with Shanta. I suppose there is no harm as I am a little out of harm’s way in these matters, espérons – at least too husy to be active in that direction.
I have a little cough persisting. Better to let you know in time I think.
That won’t do at all! Cough must go off.
May 13, 1936
Another beautiful song of Nishikanta d’aprés my father. (This song was one of the greatest favourites of Harin, who used to say that it is one of the masterpieces among songs.) I really can’t help marvelling. To imitate such masterpieces is no joke – but this is no mere imitation, I feel. It is simply exquisite (to me anyhow). How do you feel about it?
Yes, it is very beautiful.
Shall one be right if one says that Bengali language is richest in songs and that such songs (or rather such a wealth of it, si vous voulez) does not exist in English or French or German? At least I was peculiarly struck while in Europe by their comparative poverty of songs. But I may here be guilty of partiality to my own language. But will you then give me some information as to which poets in English e.g. have composed such lovely songs – I mean songs sung – not poems, that is. lam curious to know. For when I was learning songs in Europe I found them comparatively speaking unsatisfying qua songs though with harmonic setting they sounded to me beautiful enough qua music, if you know what I mean. But in Bengali the tradition of songs from the extremely rich lore of Vaishnava Kirtanists and developed gloriously in this age by Tagore, Atulprasad44, my father45, etc. (there are heaps of the lesser fry) is a spectacle somewhat difficult not to be proud of nationalistically, forgive me. And now I see in Nishikanta such an ease in writing songs that I can’t help thinking that a long background of songs is partly responsible for it. Tagore you must know has written more than four thousand songs, my father well over thousand, Atulprasad two thousand46 and many others will contribute a good anthology of at least five hundred songs. Of these if a selection is made at least one thousand extremely fine songs can be collected leaving out the marvels of the Vaishnava poets altogether. I want you to compare English and French songs (and German too, if possible) with this achievement and enlightenment. I ask not to dogmatise but to know as a jignāsu [an inquirer].
About French or German songs I know nothing – but as for the English, except for a few like Cardinal Newman’s47 hymn “Lead, kindly Light” they don’t exist so far as I know – I mean of course as regards their contents, manner, style. I believe in European music the words are of a very minor importance, they matter only as going with the music. But I am not an expert on the subject, so I can’t go farther into it. When religious songs were written in medieval Latin, they were very fine, but with the use of the modern languages the art was lost – the modern European hymnals are awful stuff.
May 14, 1936
As you have opened yourself to the Force and made yourself a channel for the energy of work, it is quite natural that when you want to do this work the Force should flow and act in the way that is wanted or the way that is needed and for the effect that is needed. When one has made oneself a channel, the Force is not necessarily bound by the limitations or disabilities of the instrument; it can disregard them and act in its own power. In doing so it may use the human instrument simply as a medium and leave him as soon as the work is finished just what he was before, incapable in his ordinary moments of doing such good work; but also it may by its action set the instrument right, accustom it to the necessary intuitive knowledge and movement so that it can at will command the action of the Force. As for the technique, there are two different things, the intellectual knowledge which one applies and the intuitive cognition which acts in its own right, even if it is not actually possessed by the worker. Many poets, for instance, have little knowledge of metrical or linguistic technique and cannot explain how they write or what are the qualities and elements of their success, but they write, all the same, things that are perfect in rhythm and language. Intellectual knowledge of technique helps of course, provided one does not make of it a mere device or a rigid fetter. There are some arts that cannot be done well without technical knowledge, e.g. painting, sculpture.
What you write is your own in the sense that you have been the instrument of its manifestation – that is so with every artist or worker.
You need have no scruple about putting your name, though of course for sadhana it is necessary to recognise that the real Power was not yourself and you were simply the instrument on which it played its tune.
The Ananda of creation is not the pleasure of the ego in having personally done well and being somebody, that is something extraneous which attaches itself to the joy of work and creation. The Ananda comes from the inrush of a greater Power, the thrill of being possessed and used by it, the āveśa, the exultation of the uplifting of the consciousness, its illumination and its greatened and heightened action and also the joy of the beauty, power or perfection that is being created. How far one feels it depends on the condition of the consciousness at the time, the temperament, the activity of the vital; the Yogi, of course, (or even certain strong and calm minds) is not carried away by the Ananda, he holds and watches it and there is no mere excitement mixed with the flow of it through the mind, vital or body. Naturally the Ananda of samarpan [surrender] or spiritual realisation or divine love is something far greater, but the Ananda of creation has its place.
May 17, 1936
Yesterday morning I was reading Krishnaprem’s article in the Aryan Path on the Seventh Chapter of the Gita where he says: (I give you the gist) that meditation can’t be fruitful for most and that is because a high degree of inner development and purification has not been achieved, one of the conditions being that most men are not yogis whom the pairs of opposites that torment other people will have no power to disturb’ etc. He posits a host of other conditions for a successful meditation which well nigh drive me to despair. It is no joke, it seems. One must become perfect first before one can hope for any result in meditations. No wonder my attempts were fruitless.
Last evening as I lolled on the pier alone I felt sad: what is this path I have taken where one has to be a Hercules to be able to do anything – even to try meditation. My cherished preconception that prayer, meditation, etc. purify received such a blow! Then how on earth is one to arrive? By writing notations to music and songs and poems? I wonder if anyone ever realised the Divine through such a way! I was really very much disheartened. No doubt you have been encouraging us – but Krishnaprem has at last blurted out the home truth. Look at me: I have been working hard enough in all conscience – but with no consciousness at all of the least sense of illumination within. What can such work do! But then again meditation is useless d’aprés Krishnaprem unless one were thoroughly purified and stationed in the perfect yogic poise. Today I have been struggling against this despondency: for us it is perhaps impossible to arrive by any path. Then why do yoga? Work? Only to ward off the depression that comes from repose?
I do not know what Krishnaprem said or in which article, I do not have it with me. But if the statement is that nobody can have a successful meditation or realise anything till he is pure and perfect, I fail to follow it, it contradicts my own experience. I have always had realisation by meditation first and the purification started afterwards as a result. I have seen many get important, even fundamental realisations by meditation who could not be said to have a great inner development. Are all Yogis who have meditated to effect and had great realisations in their inner consciousness perfect in their nature? It does not look like it to me. I am unable to believe in absolute generalisations in this field, because the development of spiritual consciousness is an exceedingly vast and complex affair in which all sorts of things can happen and one might almost say that for each man it is different according to his nature and that the one thing that is essential is the inner call and aspiration and the perseverance to follow always after it, no matter how long it takes or what are the difficulties or impediments, because nothing else will satisfy the soul within us.
It is quite true that a certain amount of purification is indispensable for going on, that the more complete the purification the better, because then when the realisations begin they can go on without big difficulties or relapses and without any possibility of fall or failure. It is also true that with many purification is the first need – certain things have to be got out of the way before one can begin any consecutive inner experience. But the main thing is a certain preparation of the consciousness so that it may be able to respond more and more freely to the higher Force. In this preparation many things are useful – the poetry and music you are doing can help, for it acts as a sort of śravaṇa [hearing] and manana [thinking], even if the feeling roused is intense, a sort of natural nididhyāsana. Psychic preparation, clearing out of the grosser forms of mental and vital ego, opening mind and heart to the Guru and many other things help greatly – it is not perfection that comes or a complete freedom from the dualities or ego, but preparedness, a fineness of the inner being which makes spiritual responses and receiving possible.
There is no reason therefore to take as gospel truth these demands which may have been right for Krishnaprem on the way he has trod, but cannot be imposed on all. There is no around for despondency of that ground – the law of the spirit is not so exacting and inexorable.
May 19, 1936
(Dilip’s note on his friend Dhurjati’s letter:) Do write something please. It will incidentally help all and my present depression most. Besides Dhurjati is a fine fellow, true, loyal, honest, upright. Who knows, your letter may mean a turning point in his life?
This is what Dhurjati wrote: “With pranams, I am feeling awfully poor being deprived of my inheritance. I want to know the essential feature of Hinduism. Hinduism is inside me, but please bring it up on my conscious plane. The first step of my realisation must always be conceptual and propositional. Will you come down to my level? I know you will, in your infinite pity.”
I am rather at a loss from which side to tackle the affair. Conceptually and propositionally is it possible to give Dhurjati something about the essential feature of Hinduism which he does not know already? I can say what to my view is the truth behind Hinduism, a truth contained in the very nature (not as superficially seen of course) of human existence, something which is not the monopoly of Hinduism but of which Hindu spirituality was the richest expression. Perhaps I can try to bring out something on this line. I will see.
May 19, 1936
Glad to learn you may write something on the Hinduism problem. I have written to Dhurjati quoting this – hoping this may induce you to write after all – to preclude shelving (or rather to attempt it abortively?)
It will give us much light. We are all very eager for it. For such a long time I have not got anything from you – working at this ten hour-a-day – dry notation business with no sense of Divine contact. Off and on the dejection-surge came saying, “What were you doing? Do you think that by such ayukta karma [work inharmonious with yoga] your consciousness will change – fool!” Again and again I rejected it. But when except for the joy of creation – vital one of course – I could not get at last I succumbed, and in the grip of sadness and suffering and doubt and what not. So a letter on Hinduism and spirituality will be like rain to thirsty sere earth. For I see no way to turn to for relief.
I shall see what can be done. For some time however it has been difficult for me to put myself to any sustained intellectual work, because I am strongly taken up by a push to finish inwardly in myself what remained to be done in the way of transformation of the consciousness and, though this part of it is terribly difficult and arduous, I was making so unexpected a progress that the consciousness was unwilling to turn away from it to anything else. So much hangs on this, the decisive mastery, the power to receive the difficulties of others as well as my own (those that are still there, physical and other) that I was pushing for it like Mussolini for Addis Ababa before the rains. However, any night when there is a lull, I will see.
May 20, 1936
I cannot candidly say that the Mother and I approve of the idea of your going to Calcutta for a fortnight for relief from your sufferings: if we ever sanction such a movement, it is against our own seeing of things because no choice is left to us owing to circumstances or the state of mind of the Sadhak. We have never found that such absences do any spiritual good: they usually relax or lower the consciousness or renew old movements that must go. It is much better to face the difficulty however sticky it is till the conquest is there.
It is a pity that this movement of depression has come back with its painful and irrational circle. It must be thrown away for good: these movements go round in a circular repetitionary way characteristic of these things. It is lent force by the reasonings of the physical mind which are specious but of no value. It is not true of spiritual things that experience must come within a certain number of years or not at all. There are some who begin to succeed after a few years some who take longer, succeeding only in work but not in meditation or activity of the inner consciousness, but finally the veiled inner preparation of so many years has prevailed and they begin to get the psychic change, the inner opening of head and heart, the descents, the growth through frequent though not uninterrupted experience. This has happened even to those who are troubled by these circular movements and have been again and again on the point of rushing away in despair. There is nothing more futile than to despair in the spiritual path and throw up the game: it is to break a working which would have led one to the realisation asked for if one had persevered. I have always said that since your soul wants the Divine truly, you are sure to reach Him.
There is only one logic in spiritual things – when a demand is there for the Divine, a sincere call, it is bound one day to have its fulfilment. It is only if there is a strong insincerity somewhere, a hankering after something else – power, ambition, etc. – which counterbalances the inner call that the logic is no longer applicable. Supramental realisation is another matter: I am speaking now of the realisation of the Divine, of the contact with the Divine, through whatever lever, heart or mind or both. In your case it is likely to come through the heart, through increase of bhakti or psychic purification of the heart: that is why I was pressing the psychic way upon you. I do not mean that nothing can come through meditation for you, but probably – barring the unexpected – only after the heart experience.
Do not allow these wrong ideas and feelings to govern you or your state of depression to dictate your decisions: try to keep a firm central will for the realisation – you can do so if you make up your mind to it – these things are not impossible for you; they are within the scope of your nature which is strong. You will find that the obstinate spiritual difficulty disappears in the end like a mirage. It belongs to the maya and, where the inner call is sincere, cannot hold even the outer consciousness always: its apparent solidity will dissolve.
May 21, 1936
We will certainly try to get your uncle, Tokumama and aunt, Mandamamima here and I suppose one day they will come.
You are no doubt right about asking for the bhakti, for I suppose if it is the master claim of your nature: for that matter, it is the strongest motive force that sadhana can have and the best means for all else that has to come. It is why I said that it is through the heart that spiritual experience must come to you. The loyalty and the rest that you have for me and the Mother may not, as you say, be part of the bhakti itself, but they could not be there were not the bhakti deep inside. It is its coming out in full force into the surface consciousness that is to be brought about and it seems to me that it is inevitable that it should come as the outer coverings fall off. What is within must surely make its way to the surface.
May 24, 1936
I am truly in joy, do you know? Vital, soit, but joy it is, what? The reason? You see a fine singer Kumudesh48 wrote to me asking me to send him a few songs of mine as he wrote he didn’t like songs after mine. So highly flattered I sent my song Durashi on Earth and Heaven which you termed “exquisite” with music of course and Nishikanta’s song on Avatar which he translated and which I sang last Sunday. He has learned it with the help of this Himangsu Dutta who is now the most famous musical technician (also a good composer, got the title of sursāgar [ocean of melody]) and read his or rather their unanimous tribute. There is an elite of modern musical circle – so conclude what logic allows you to conclude and pardon my human nature which obeying its human logic can’t be a little joyous. So, that’s that
Well, even the Bible which is a spiritual book [exclaims], “Shout aloud, O mountains, and skip, you little hills!” So joy permitted in honour of the occasion.
Glad to send you a sweet song of Nirod’s. I wish Nirod wrote more. This song he composed on my Durashi model and is indeed a melodious little thing. I just made two minor changes – that’s all. He asks me to send it to you for opinion. We all like it very much.
Yes, it is very good indeed, full of charm and sweetness.
May 24, 1936
Nishikanta’s poem is as usual full of poetic energy and admirable rhythm.
An electric stove has been ordered from Madras, but the price will not be anything like Rs.50. I don’t know whether you will have with it all the seraphic peace you expect – for in all electric matters there is the Pondicherry municipality to take into account – continuingly cessation of current, insufficient current, variable current – something for all tastes but for nobody’s convenience.
All right about the novel.
May 25, 1936
(On a poem by Jyotirmayi)
I find it exceedingly beautiful and not at all obscure and the images very cogent. Of course if you ask me to translate them into intellectual terms I can’t, but mystical images translated into intellectual terms lose all their cogency which is subjective and suggestive, not objective and precise. From that point of view the more I read her poem, the more I am struck not only by the extreme suggestive beauty but the mystic compulsiveness of the words and images. Somehow she has got into touch with an original zone of inspiration – if she can carry it farther (not only repeating or imitating this success), she will be able to do something new and quite her own.
May 25, 1936
Herewith a cheque from Prithwisingh, earnest money for the sale of the house to the Brahmana Sabha. The sale is dependent on vacating by December 12th. I shall have to send along a terrific whiff of power to get the Asura out of Suradham; the Brahman Sabha is trying to wheedle him out of it and think he might listen because he is himself a Brahmin – a Banerji, what!! I suspect it will take much more than a Brahmanic wheedle – even the case and the whiff together may be hard put to it to manage in time. However, if the thing falls through for any reason there are other buyers ready to come in. Prithwisingh wants the Mother to take the earnest money in spite of this possibility; he says if it falls through, he himself will refund the sum to the party. I suspect he thinks if the Mother takes it, the bargain is bound to go through safely!
May 26, 1936
Very glad to learn that the Force has now to do something concretish – to oust this Asura, as you say, out of Suradham. But then this whole world is full of it – why pick out one unfortunate? Commence by turning out my brother-in-law Shankar first out of his corporeal tabernacle – that would be a better thing to start with, what? For do you know my sister writes he has become “a devotee”, thanks to this Bharati Maharaja Saint! It looks very much like an Asura in the saintly guise though if he has really had any success with Shankar, qu’en dites-vous?(Gods are so easily defeated, don’t you see?)
Well, from the accounts he seems to have made Shankar sweet as sugar and soft as butter and mild as Moses. How far Shankar’s mighty bulk will stand that sort of thing, I don’t know – it might begin to feel uncomfortable carrying about a little lamb that did not seem meant to be there. Let us hope however that it is his psychic being which has suddenly come to the (once very warlike) front. If so, it is all right.
However I send you most gladly the cheque to be laid at Mother’s feet. I will be truly glad when the sale-proceeds will be safely laid at her feet. Espérons toujours [let’s hope anyway].
Yes but your signature on the cheque indispensable. Mother has put a cross for the place and indications as to what to write. Please be accurate, for these Banks are damnably fussy about jots and tittles.
I enclose a letter. A French fellow wanting to do yoga!
His “French” ness can’t stand in the way – for there are many others in that quarter. It depends on the “fellow”.
I will advise him your Bases of Yoga. By the way, why not give me one. Or do you expect me to buy it? I am rather amused to have to buy your books with your money – is this supramental humour? So.
Copies for presentation not yet present. Only those for sale.
I am very glad to learn about Jyoti’s poem being so fine. I too had thought it fine – but you see I have no grasp of things mystic so I could not opine. By the way one question. She uses ushasa for evening a la dictionary, but in Bengali ushasa is used since Tagore’s famous Urvasi – swarger udayachale murtimati tumi hey ushasi [“O Urvasi! You are the dawn incarnate on the eastern horizon of heaven”] as meaning Usha, dawn. I feel that current usage and not dictionary obsolete acceptation of terms is preferable particularly for beginners. One who has already achieved a poetic eminence may use words as he will (often that is, as Tagore has used pradosh, evening twilight to mean morning twilight). What do you think? In this poem all will regard ushasi as meaning dawn as our newest authoritative dictionary Chalantika49 too supports its dawn meaning. It is because I feel this rather important that I ask you this. What?
On that kind of question I can’t pronounce. Jyotirmayi, it appears, wanted to speak of the evening and used the word in that sense, she does not want to change.
I will sing a little to Professor Sarcar this even with only half-a-dozen or so of our intimates. So send me force. You didn’t tell me how you liked the songs yesterday. Did you catch the words at all? Can you hear in your too sup distance?
Sometimes I do – sometimes I am too far away or the walls are too thick between the worlds.
May 27, 1936
I did not know that it was already in the Press – there is no necessity of countermanding it. There was no objection to the dedication, only I thought the adding of the poems to the dedication might stress too much in view of the Mother’s wish to remain unpublic, as it were, and withdrawn from a too general gaze. The printing of the book may proceed and there need be no countermanding order.
Why mind the feministic emphasis when your conscience is clear of all anti-feminism? The involuntary sin of being a male is there of course but since you have done so much to atone for it? To be more serious, angularities and discords even if of a small character, are trying I know to the nerves but to overcome the nervous reaction and meet them with a calm good humour is, I think, the best way to frustrate their pressure.
May 29, 1936
I am glad of your decision and I do hope you will not find it necessary to change it. But wherever you are we shall be and our love and protection go with you.
No, it is not with the Empyrean that I am busy, I wish it were. It is rather with the opposite end of things – in the Abyss that I have to plunge to build a bridge between the two. But that too is necessary for my work and one has to face it.
About Saurin’s change of apartment, it will be considered, but not just now, a little later.
May 29, 1936
It is a little difficult for me to answer your letter in view of what you have written there. I have certainly persuaded you to remain here because I did not think that going away was the right solution, nor do I think so now. But from what you wrote last time after this came on you, I understood that you did not really want to go and were glad that I had persuaded you, that in fact you would have suffered greatly if I had given my consent. Here you write very differently and in such a way that if I am to take what you say in its full sense I would have to reply at once “Yes, go, since there is no other alternative”. Let me say at once that persuasion is not force. Last time I don’t think I even used persuasion; I simply gave my opinion against your proposal. My opinion remains the same, but that is not binding on you. I have also never thought of cutting you off if you go to Cape Comorin for a time or to Calcutta. Everyone here is free to follow his own decision in these matters. But when I am asked for a full consent, I take it as an invitation to give my own view on what is proposed and I give it. There is no question there of detaining or refusing a bitter need or cutting you off for a time to Calcutta or to Cape Comorin, and therefore there can be no reason for your being driven to the extremes of which you speak in your letter.
As for the way out of the impasse, I know only of the quieting of the mind which makes meditation effective, purification of the heart which brings the divine touch and in time the divine presence, humility before the Divine which liberates from egoism and the pride of the mind and of the vital, the pride that imposes its own reasonings on the ways of the spirit and the pride that refuses or is unable to surrender, sustained persistence in the call within and reliance on the Grace above. These things come by the inner discipline which you had begun to practise some time ago but did not continue. Meditation, japa, prayer or aspiration from the heart can all succeed, if they are attended by these or even some of these things. But I do not know that you can be promised what you always make the condition of any inner endeavour, an immediate or almost immediate realisation or beginning of concrete realisation. I fully believe on the other hand that one who has the call in him cannot fail to arrive if he follows patiently the, way towards the Divine.
Frankly this is my view of the matter. I have never seen that anyone by changing place arrived at any spiritual realisation – it always comes by a change of mind and heart. I put before you what I can see. The rest is for you to consider.
May 30, 1936
I have surely never said that you should not want the Divine Response. One does Yoga for that. What I have said is that you should not expect or insist on it at once or within an early time. It can come early or it can come late, but come it will if one is faithful in one’s call – for one has not only to be sincere but to be faithful through all. If I deprecate insistence, it is because I’ have always found that it creates difficulties and delays owing to a strain and restlessness which are created in the nature and the despondencies and revolts of the vital when the insistence is not satisfied. The Divine knows best and one has to have trust in His wisdom and attune oneself with His will. Length of time is no proof of an ultimate incapacity to arrive – it is only a sign that there is something in oneself which has to be overcome and if there is the will to reach the Divine, it can be overcome.
Suicide solves nothing – it only brings back to life with the same difficulties to be faced in worse conditions. If one wishes to escape from life altogether, it can only be by the way of complete inner renunciation and merging oneself in the Silence of the Absolute or by a bhakti that becomes absolute or by a Karmayoga that gives up one’s own will and desires to the will of the Divine.
I have said also that Grace can at any moment act suddenly, but over that one has no control, because it comes by an incalculable Will which sees things that the mind cannot see. It is precisely the reason why one should never despair – that and also because no sincere aspiration to the Divine can fail in the end.
Mother does not remember having said to Sahana what you report – it may have been something in another sense which Sahana understood in that way. For it cannot be said that you have never received force from us, you have received it to any extent, it can only be said that you were not conscious of it, but that happens with many. Certainly none of the sadhaks receives and uses all the Force the Mother sends, but that is a general fact and not peculiar to you.
I hope you will not carry out your idea of going suddenly g^ay – if you have to go for a time, it should be with our knowledge and our protection around you. I hope it will not be necessary at all, but certainly it should not be in that way. Whatever else you doubt, you should not doubt that our love and affection will be always with you. But I still hope that you will be able to overcome this despair and this impulse of flight and develop the quiet force of intense call which brings the Light that is sure to come.
May 31, 1936
Last evening at Meditation with Mother I had a feeling of suffering because I could find no solace, no knowledge, no relief anywhere, because it was such a shame that I understood nothing. Then I came back and prayed to Krishna and the prayer that issued with profusion was: “O Krishna, you know I wanted you and nothing but you, still I feel I am so ignorant and find myself in an impasse. Do shed on me your grace” etc. At once I felt a velvety softness and a feeling of plasticity within and the sense of friction and chafing vanished. I felt that there was no ignominy in not understanding it all, and that one was utterly impotent. I felt very humble and then there came a sense of release born of a surrender in this unconditional humility. Kanai says it is a psychic experience and an important one. Please let me know if it is.
It was certainly an experience and as Kanai50 very accurately described it an experience of great value, a psychic experience Par excellence. A feeling of velvety softness within – an ineffable plasticity within is a psychic experience and can be nothing else. It means a modification of the substance of the consciousness especially in the vital-emotional part, and such a modification prolonged or repeated till it became permanent would mean a great step in what I call the psychic transformation of the being. It is just these modifications in the inner substance that make transformation possible. Further, it was a modification that made a beginning of knowledge possible – for by knowledge we mean in Yoga not thought or ideas about spiritual things but psychic understanding fromwithin and spiritual illumination from above. Therefore the first result was this feeling “that there was no ignominy in not; understanding it, that the true understanding would come only when one realised that one was completely impotent”. This was itself a beginning of true understanding; a psychic understanding, something felt within which sheds a light or’ brings up a spiritual truth that mere thinking would not have given, also a truth that is effective in bringing both the enlightenment and solace you needed – for what the psychic brings with it always is light and happiness, an inner understanding and relief and solace.
Another very promising aspect of this experience is that it came as an immediate response to an appeal to the Divine. You asked for the understanding and the way out and at once Krishna showed you both – the way out was the change of the consciousness within, the plasticity which makes the Knowledge possible and also the understanding of the condition of mind and vital in which the true knowledge or power of knowledge could come. For the inner knowledge comes from within and above (whether from the Divine in the heart or from the Self above) and for it to come, the pride of the mind and vital in the surface mental ideas and their insistence on them must go. One must know that one is ignorant before one can begin to know. This shows that I was not wrong in pressing for the psychic opening as the only way out. For as the psychic opens, such responses and much more also become common and the inner change also proceeds by which they are made possible.
The poems are very beautiful and certainly they come from a sincere feeling and experience – in view of what you felt there can be no doubt of that.
June 1936 (?)
Just a line to let you know: I learned Saurin is genuinely repenting. I also felt a change in me: I felt I must rise above these human feelings of grievance. I sent him some cups, a little tea, milk, etc. in the afternoon, then as he had no stove asked him to have a cup of tea with me when we had some talk about Maya. All right – in the right spirit, I mean. I must refrain from judging people. I want you to help me here as I am fed up with this strand of hardness in my nature. I felt if I am to be a yogi (and not merely an artist, poet, singer and novelist) I must purify my nature of all egoisms which judge and are led to nurse unkind feelings to those that are judged. Saurin’s face so full of sufferings too made me melt not a little – as I truly wish him no ill. I am in fact ashamed that I had nursed an ill-feeling against him so long – for it is really not in my nature. I am angry easily but also inclined to forget quickly. In this case, I was really shabbily treated, but even that I must rise above as I have myself such faults and harshness which invite such treatment. I was reading Amiel51 and was much moved yesterday by his exhortation to humility so beautifully worded. What do you think of Amiel? I find him very beautiful and psychic. He writes about so long as we doubt the question of God there is no humility and that repentance cannot begin without humility and that trial does not cease until it has done its work that is why it almost never stops (since it has to purify untold crannies of darkness in us). Anyhow it helped me. His reflections about faith and humility, etc. are truly moving and beautiful. Will you tell me your opinion of Amiel – as I am reading him daily with profit and am much struck by the wisdom of his charity and depth. Am I right in thinking that he had some real psychic opening and spiritual insight into things? Also tell me if my impression as to Saurin is correct that he is about to repent if not already repenting. He has suffered anyhow.
I have not myself read Amiel. I knew of him only from things written about him. He appears to have been a man with some insight into spiritual life and a settled aspiration towards it.
As for Saurin he has written expressing repentance and the desire to change. But we have to wait to see him in his acts – there is much that is mixed and twisted in Saurin.
P.S. This depression will take some time perhaps – coming after full two months. So I suppose I have to pull through somehow. Send the poor composer some force to get through his resurge of doubts, the concomitants of depression: the doubts being as to the Divine being unlikely to make me receptive except for composing songs and poems – but true Yoga – no, which Kanai is doing. I truly envy him his meditation: he says he is having such ananda and peace through it. Naturally. It is meditation, you see, not notation of art and letters.
Certainly, I will send you force. Kanai has struggled on to the right basis after a long journey – I don’t see why you should not also arrive in time. The steps may be different because natures differ, but one arrives.
Very glad to hear of this “clearance” – to use the consecratedChandernagore phrase. Saurin’s letter was so sincere in its tone that I expected nothing else. There are always unregenerated parts tugging people backwards and who is not divided? but it is best to put one’s trust in the soul, the spark of the Divine within and foster that till it rises into a sufficient flame.
I have almost finished the translations – and will soon give it to type.
Yes, I did not exaggerate the sticky character of these forces; but the stickiness even of the stickiest is not inexhaustible and they get tired out after a time. The thing is to keep up, as I have said, one’s own wicket in spite of their body line bowling. Also not to be depressed but to go cheerfully through the conflict.
The conversion of your palate is truly a transformation and points palatably towards more transformations to come. So serenely “en avant!”
Lawrence is waiting hopefully on the top of your book-case in front of me (I mean the one you presented to me) for his hour.
Please see this – on the right – form perfect as against its imperfect model. I feel Nishikanta’s formal perfection does justify my faith in rhyme, rhythm, etc. as against Lawrence’s in free verse unmetricality, eh??
There can be no doubt of that.
Lawrence’s however would say that the question is not between imperfect and perfect metrical work, but between metrical rhythm in poetry and poetry stripped bare of metre and presented with a bare elemental energy of language, vision and movement. Theory for theory it can stand, but in the practice and result the effects seem to me to be against Lawrence’s theory.
June 1, 1936
l am so glad! I – had an experience – and one of value – of great value! I rubbed my eyes and read your letter in utmost amazement, incredulous bewilderment and doubtful self-admiration (thank God – to some vanity again!)
Why self-admiration? since the experience came from K. [Krishna]
But one question: what is the difference between a “feeling” and an “experience”? Is every feeling an experience? Or an intensely emotional one only an experience? Anyhow since I understand nothing please enlighten the crass ignorant who sees himself to be so.
I doubt whether I am able to answer your question – or whether I quite understand it. There is no law that a feeling cannot be an experience; experiences are of all kinds and take all forms in the consciousness. When the consciousness undergoes, sees or feels anything spiritual or psychic or even occult, that is an experience (in the technical yogic sense, for there are of course all sorts of experiences that are not of that character). Feelings themselves are of many kinds. The word feeling is often used for an emotion, and there can be psychic or spiritual emotions which are numbered among Yoga experiences, such as a wave of śuddhā bhakti [pure bhakti] or the rising of love towards the Divine. A feeling also means a perception of something felt – a perception in the vital or psychic or in the essential substance of the consciousness. Even I find often a mental perception when it is very vivid described as a feeling. If you exclude all these feelings and kindred ones and say that they are feelings, not experiences, then there is very little room left for experiences at all. Feeling and vision are the main forms of spiritual experience. One sees and feels the Brahman everywhere – one feels a force enter or go out from one; one feels or sees the presence of the Divine within or around one; one feels or sees the descent of light; one feels the descent of peace or Ananda. Kick all that out on the ground that it is a feeling, not an experience (what the deuce then is an experience?) and you make a clean sweep of most of the things that we call experience. Again, we feel a change in the substance of the consciousness or the state of consciousness. We feel ourselves spreading in wideness and the body only as a small thing in the wideness (this can be seen also) – we feel the heart-consciousness being wide instead of narrow, soft instead of hard, illumined instead of obscure, the head-consciousness also, the vital, even the physical also – we feel thousands of things of all kinds and why are we not to call them experiences? Of course it is an inner sight, an inner feeling, subtle feeling, not material, like the feeling of a cold wind or a stone or any other object, but as the inner consciousness deepens it is not less vivid or concrete, it is even more so.
In this case what you felt was not an emotion, though something emotional came with it; you felt a condition on the very substance of consciousness – a softness, a plasticity, even a velvety softness, an ineffable plasticity. Any fellow who knows anything about Yoga would immediately say, “What a fine experience”, a very clear psychic and spiritual experience.
June 3, 1936
These sonnets are very fine, gracious and harmonious and beautiful.
Shailen53 wanted to send some stories he wishes to publish in magazines, but I have no time and if they come to me they would remain till doomsday. I was told he has sent them to you for your verdict. Could you let me know, between ourselves, when you have read them, what your verdict is?
June 8, 1936
The moon can evidently write very fine poetry. As for vairagya it is only necessary when the vital takes things in the wrong way, if it can accept them in a moonlit or sunlit way, then acceptance is better.
(I hope I am not too completely mystic. The disadvantage – and also perhaps the advantage of the use of symbols is that nobody can understand what is written except the users. Moonlight = light of spirituality; sunlight = light of the Divine Truth.)
June 9, 1936
Your expectation of a “not too briefly” is, I fear, possible of fulfilment only in Utopia. Just tonight (and yesterday also) I am faced with a host of letters demanding answers – and here I am at 5 o’clock (almost) with yours still to reply. So the brevity which is – sometimes – the soul of wit can alone help
No need to put poetry against novel and make a case between them. Both can be given admission to the spiritual Parnassus54 – but not all poetry and all novels. All depends on the consciousness from which the thing is done. If it is done from the psychic or the spiritual consciousness and bears the stamp of its source, that is sufficient. Of course there are certain things that cannot be done from there, but neither poetry nor fiction as in that case. They can be lifted to a higher level and made the expression of the psychic or spiritual mind and vision. When that is said, all is said. I hope my brevity has been of the right kind – and not left the question mystically obscure.
June 10, 1936
Your letter this morning was perfectly crystal-clear. And I felt also like that. I will now start revising my long [?]. Yesterday I was extremely busy correcting proofs from 7.30p.m. till 2.30 a.m. at a stretch, fancy! Today too I had to work hard at it.
Jyoti has sent me another poem, which I like very much but I find the last verse rather cryptic. I understand you opined it was perfectly clear to you. But what idea did it convey to you?
A propos, a question. I was reading in your Future Poetry to-day that mysticism comes “When either we glimpse but do not intimately realise the now secret things of the spirit, or, realising, yet cannot find their direct language, their intrinsic way of utterance, and have to use obscurely luminous hints or a thick drapery of symbol, when we have the revelation, but not the inspiration, the sight but not the word.” This, I think, I follow heartily and applaud lustily. For I have had a feeling often (though not always) that mystic poetry hides behind the symbols the author’s comparative inability to find a proper expression for what he has vaguely felt. I have often seen that when the feeling is very concrete I can express what I can’t if it isn’t concrete enough. Much of the mystic poetry of Tagore during the last few years we are all altogether baffled by and can’t but set down to his comparative failure to seize what loomed before him. It suggests but only faintly – glimmers but does not illumine. His prose-poetry of late are often altogether cryptic.... And now I find you say also something kindred in the passage I quoted – calling the source of much mystic poetry (though not all, mind you) “revelation” but not “inspiration”. Apropos, does not inspiration mean something more intimate to our conscious than a visioned “revelation” which is perforce somewhat remote, I gather or rather infer from your passage? In Jyoti’s poem the last verse will, happily, exemplify what I mean. I don’t doubt she felt something but has she adequately conveyed it with a more adequate power of expression? I am not unsympathetic to mystic poetry (I can’t possibly be) but I am, I fear, a little fond of clarity and as such perhaps a little apathetic to symbolic esotericism. But enough. Now do say something radiant to dissipate my hazes, O please Guru – for god’s sake – .
I find no difficulty in the last stanza of Jyotirmayi’s poem nor any in connecting [it] with the two former stanzas. It is a single feeling and subjective idea or vision expressing itself in three facets: In the full night of the spirit there is a luminosity from above in the very heart of the darkness – imaged by the moon and stars in the bosom of the Night. (The night-sky with the moon (spiritual light) and the stars is a well-known symbol and it is seen frequently by sadhaks even when they do not know its meaning.) In that night of the spirit is the Dream to which or through which a path is found that in the ordinary light of waking day one forgets or misses. In the night of the spirit are shadowy avenues of pain, but even in that shadow the Power of Beauty and Beatitude sings secretly and unseen the strains of Paradise. But in the light of day the mystic heart of moonlight sorrowfully weeps, suppressed, for even though the nectar of it is there behind, it falters away from this garish light because it is itself a subtle thing of dream, not of conscious waking mind-nature. That is how I understand or rather try mentally to express it. But it is putting a very abstract sense into what should be kept vague in outline but vivid in feeling – by mentalising one puts at once too much and too little in it.
I do not remember the context of the passage you quote from The Future Poetry, but I suppose I meant to contrast the veiled utterance of what is usually called mystic poetry with the spiritual clarity of the fully expressed experience. I did not mean to contrast it with the mental clarity which is aimed at usually by poetry. The concreteness of intellectual imaged description is one thing and spiritual concreteness is another. “Two birds perched on one tree, but one eats the fruit, the other eats not but watches his fellow”55 – that has an illumining spiritual clarity and concreteness to one who has had the experience, but mentally and intellectually it might mean anything or nothing. Poetry uttered with the spiritual clarity may be compared to sunlight, poetry uttered with the mystic veil to moonlight. But it was not my intention to deny beauty, power or value to the moonlight. Note that I have distinguished between two kinds of mysticism, one in which the realisation is vague, the other in which the realisation is revelatory and intimate, but the utterance is veiled by the image, not thoroughly revealed by it. I do not know to which Tagore’s recent poetry belongs, I have not read it. But the latter kind of poetry (where there is the intimate experience) can be of great power and value – witness Blake. Revelation is greater than inspiration – it brings the direct knowledge and seeing, inspiration gives the expression. If there is inspiration without revelation, one may get the word while the thing remains behind the veil; it is better to get the sight of the thing itself than merely express it by an inspiration which comes from behind the veil. Of course both together is the best... Mark also that the inspiration I speak of is the coming of intrinsic word, the spiritual mantra – it would not do to say that the mystic poetry has no inspiration, no inspired word at all. No inspiration, no poetry.
(Written in great hurry – hope it is not impossible to follow.)
June 14, 1936
(Re. the poem “Ashru”)
Very beautiful. Never mind the heroic way – there is not one but many ways to the Divine. The sincerity and persistence of the call is everything.
June 17, 1936
Passed a bad day – depressing, etc. Repelled bad suggestions. Resolved not to complain and be truly manly. Waitons.
I am very glad to know that you are keeping resolutely to the right attitude, for that is the true way to victory, but regret that there should be need for it still. But to go firmly forward is the one thing to be done – so as to emerge in the end from the storm and mists of the nature.
I have at last got time to study Nishikanta’s long poem. It is truly a marvellous success – magnificently easy and beautiful in rhythm ... [incomplete]
June 22, 1936
I am very glad you liked my parable in English too. Amal too liked it.
I am sending you here a poem of Nishikanta in praswani56 metre – anapaest (open open syllable, closed syllable as you may remember) Here you will note spondaic modulations at places underlined in red. These modulations are a little new in praswani, but these prove, (don’t they?) that praswani metre is derived from the accentual English. I am getting more and more elated that my intuition re praswani metre too (as in laghu guru) is proving correct. If you send more force (please do) we will achieve more substantial proofs that the English accentual lilt can demonstrably enrich Bengali chhanda. I am so glad and grateful that you taught me with such care English metre of which I didn’t know (literally didn’t) the ABC – as it has already borne distinct fruit in Bengali chhanda, what? For look at this poem, how natural beautiful accentual?
It is very skilfully done. But is there not still too much showing of art in the achievement? I think the appearance of skill as a perfect naturalness will be the sign of the complete victory.
June 23, 1936
Saturday night – so impossibility of dealing with Lawrence, either his metrical sins or his Yogic gropings with anything but a scribbly sentence or two – so postponed to today. Not that Sunday is a day of all leisure, but it is sometimes less crowded than “a Guru’s Saturday Night” which is not at all like a “Cotter’s”57.
June 26, 1936
No need to cut down your letters – I am a quick reader (at least of English provided the handwriting is not on my own model) – it is only writing that takes time. So you must not mind short or at least comparatively short answers. It is quite the best to let the pen run and say everything.
June 26, 1936
(Dilipda’s note:) My experience was this: I felt depressed but while talking with the Maharani about Yoga my doubts disappeared and I found I had a firm faith in yoga. So I asked Sri Aurobindo if I was sincere when I talked so convincingly of Yoga while still in doubt?
There was no make up in your talk with the Maharani. That happens to everybody. It is that part of the consciousness [that] comes up which not only believes these things, but knows them to be true; the other part which is deprived and open to doubt and denial takes a back seat or goes under-ground. People don’t understand this multitudinous business in human personality, so they call it insincerity in themselves or others. But it is not so. There are certain beliefs and feelings that something in our nature holds on to with a firm grip and storms and despondencies only cover but do not destroy them.
June 26, 1936
For the past few days I have been trying to meditate a little more, but I am dogged by a sense of never getting on. I can’t shake off this sort of certitude that I am making no concrete progress – because I feel or see no change anywhere. I have been praying to Mother for her Grace and Force and most of all bhakti for her, and will go on in this line. I have been reading your Bases of Yoga too – a most staggering book: the Himalayan conditions for success you impose – well, shall the likes of us ever fulfil a hundredth part of such countless conditions? At times I felt on the verge of despair and had to shut it up and turn to D.H. Lawrence’s letters (850 pages presented to me by my Austrian Freundin Frau Rene Fülöp Miller) published by Aldous Huxley to come to – for this is a fascinating book though Lawrence suffered enormously.
However from Lawrence’s “absorbingly beautiful” letters, to quote Aldous Huxley I had one concrete corroboration: that the world of today is not worthwhile. To quote Lawrence, “I tell it to myself – to let go, to release from my will everything that my will would hold, to lapse back into darkness and unknowing. There must be deep winter before there can be spring.... This which we are must cease to be, that we may come to pass in another being.... I am laid up ... and wonder why one should ever trouble to get up, into this filthy world. The war stinks worse and worse.... Nothing is more painful than to be plunged back into the world of the past, when that past is irrevocably gone by, and a new thing far away is struggling to come to life in one. But there will be new life. And this love which goes back into the past, but not forward into the future – like the love of the dead – is very painful....
Now like a crown in the autumn time,
My soul comes naked from the falling night
Of death, a Cyclamen, a Crocus flower
Of windy autumn when the winds all sweep
The hosts away to death, where heap on heap
The leaves are smouldering in a funeral wind.”
Aldous Huxley writes of Lawrence, “Of most other eminent people I have met I feel that at any rate I belong to the same species as they do. But this man has something different and superior in kind, not degree. Different and superior in kind – I think almost everyone who knew him well must have felt that Lawrence was this.” Well, I just write all this so that you may know what is occupying me – yoga meditation alternating with Lawrence’s engrossing letters of which I give you some lines that I liked very much. I am staving off my old arch-enemy sadness, etc. with some sort of a success I think. But that is about all I can tell of myself.
Conditions for success? But these are not conditions for doing the sadhana, but the basic conditions for the integral siddhi – they are, as it might be said, basic siddhis, realised foundations on which the total and permanent siddhi can be erected – or one may say they are the constituents of the Yogic as opposed to the ordinary consciousness. When one has arrived fully at this Yogic consciousness, one can be called a Yogi, till then one is a sadhak. So much as all that is not demanded immediately from a sadhak. From the sadhak all that is asked is “a sincerity in the aspiration and a patient will to arrive in spite of all obstacles, then the opening in one form or another is sure to come.”
“All sincere aspiration has its effect, if you are sincere you will grow into the divine life.” Again, “One cannot become altogether this at once, but if one aspires at all times and calls in the aid of the Divine Shakti with a true heart and a straight-forward will, one grows more and more into the true consciousness.” It is of course said that the success will come sooner or later – it is for that reason that patience is indispensable. But these are not Himalayan conditions – it is not putting an impossible price on what is asked for. As for the difficulty as it has also been said in the book, when one once enters into the true (Yogic) consciousness, “then you see that anything can be done, even if at present only a slight beginning has been made; but a beginning is enough, once the Force, the Power are there”. It is not really on the capacity of the outer nature that success depends (for the outer nature all self-succeeding seems impossibly difficult), but on the inner being and to the inner being all is possible. One has only to get into contact with the inner being and change the outer view and consciousness from the inner – that is the work of the sadhana and it is sure to come with sincerity, aspiration, and patience. All that is not excessively stern or exacting.
As a description of the constituents of the Yogic consciousness, the bases of realisation, I don’t think the book can be called staggering or its suggestions Himalayan – for in fact they have already been stated by the Gita and other books on Yoga and, after all, thousands of people have realised them in part at least or in the inner being – though not so well in the outer. But to realise the inner being is quite enough for a foundation – for many it is quite enough even as a last state, for those who do not seek the transformation of the outer nature. Here too, even if one puts the whole ideal, it is not alleged that it must be all done at once or as a first condition for the greater endeavour.
I suppose Lawrence was a Yogi who had missed his way and came into a European body to work out his difficulties, “To lapse back into darkness and unknowing” sounds like the Christian mystic’s passage into the “night of God”, but I think Lawrence thought of a new efflorescence from the subconscient while the mystics’ night of God was a stage between ordinary consciousness and the Superconscient Light.
June 27, 1936
The passage you have quoted certainly shows that Lawrence had an idea of the new spiritual birth. What he has written there could be a very accurate indication of the process of the change, the putting away of the old mind, vital, physical consciousness and the emergence of a new consciousness from the now invisible Within, not an illusory periphery like the present mental, vital, physical ignorance but a truth becoming from the true being within us. He speaks of the transition as a darkness created by the rejection of the outer mental light, a darkness intervening before the true light from the Invisible can come. Certain Christian mystics have said the same thing and the Upanishad also speaks of the luminous Being beyond the darkness. But in India the rejection of the mental light, the vital stir, the physical hard narrow concreteness leads more often not to a darkness but to a wide emptiness and silence which begins afterwards to fill with the light of a deeper, greater, truer consciousness, a consciousness full of peace, harmony, joy and freedom. I think Lawrence was held back from realising because he was seeking for the new birth in the subconscient vital and taking that for the Invisible Within – he mistook Life for Spirit, whereas Life can only be an expression of the Spirit. That too perhaps was the reason for his preoccupation with a vain and baffled sexuality.
His appreciation of the Ajanta paintings must have been due to the same drive that made him seek for a new poetry as well as a new truth from within. He wanted to get rid of the outward forms that for him hide the Invisible and arrive at something that expressed with bare simplicity and directness something within. It is what made people begin to prefer the primitives to the developed art of the Renaissance. That is why he depreciates Botticelli58 as not giving the real thing, but only an outward grace and beauty which he considers vulgar in comparison with the less formal art satisfied with bringing out the pure emotion from within and nothing else.
It is the same thing which makes him want a stark bare rocky directness for modern poetry. But time is up, so I have to keep that for tomorrow.
June 28, 1936
Mother says that you need not sing tomorrow, but you must come because she has certain things to read to you – not the Bases of Yoga (!), but French poetry. What she said about the stiffness was some time ago and there is no point in bringing that up again now, for since then she told you you had changed much and she was able at last to get through and go within you.
You feel depressed in reading the Bases of Yoga, because your mind becomes active at the wrong end, from the point of view of your obsession about inability, hopelessness, past failure enforcing future failure. The right way to read these things is not to be mentally active, but receive with a quiet mind leaving the knowledge given to go in and bear its fruit hereafter at the proper time, not ask how one can practise it now or try to apply it to immediate circumstances in which it may not fit. I have told you already that these things are the basic siddhis which constitute the Yogic consciousness – they are things towards which one has to move but cannot be established now and offhand. What has to be done now is for each the thing necessary for him at present. I have indicated what is necessary at present for you, the growth of the psychic being which had begun and the power of contact and communication which it will bring with the inner consciousness and through it with the Divine Power or Presence. But for that to grow the mind must keep more quiet, not insisting, not desponding at every moment, but steadily aspiring and letting the things of which these were indications grow from within.
June 29, 1936
To continue about Lawrence’s poetry from where I stopped.
The idea is to get rid of all over-expression, of language for the sake of language, of form for the sake of form, even of indulgence of poetic emotion for the sake of the emotion, because all that veils the thing in itself, dresses it up, prevents it from coming out in the seizing nudity of its truth, the power of its intrinsic appeal. There is a sort of mysticism here that wants to express the inexpressible, the concealed, the invisible – reduce expression to its barest bareness and you get nearer the inexpressible, suppress as much of the form as may be and you get nearer that behind, which is invisible. It is the same impulse, as I have said, as pervaded recent endeavours in Art. Form hides, not expresses the reality; let us suppress the concealing form and express the reality by its appropriate geometrical figures – and you have cubism. Or since that is too much, suppress exactitude of form and replace it by more significant forms that indicate rather than conceal the truth – so you have “abstract” paintings. Or, what is within reveals itself in dreams, not in waking phenomena, let us have in poetry or painting the figures, visions, sequences, design of dreams – and you have surrealist art and poetry. The idea of Lawrence is akin; let us get rid of rhyme, metre, artifices which please us for their own sake and draw us away from the thing in itself, the real behind the form. So suppressing these things let us have something bare, rocky, primally expressive. There is nothing to find fault with in the theory provided it does lead to a new creation which expresses the inner truth in things better and more vividly and directly than with rhyme and metre the old poetry, now condemned as artificial and rhetorical, succeeded in expressing it. But the results do not come up to expectation. Take the four lines of Lawrence59 – in what do they differ from the old poetry except in having a less sure rhythmical movement, a less seizing perfection of language? It is a fine image and Keats or Thompson would have made out of it something unforgettable. But after reading these lines one has a difficulty in recalling any clear outline of image, any seizing expression, any rhythmic cadence that goes on reverberating within and preserves the vision forever. What the modernist metreless verse does is to catch up the movements of prose and try to fit them into varying lengths and variously arranged lengths of verse. Sometimes something which has its own beauty or power is done – though nothing better or even equal to the best that was done before, but for the most there is either an easy or a strained ineffectiveness. No footsteps hitting the earth: Footsteps on earth can be a walk, can be prose: the beats of poetry can on the contrary be a beat of wings. As for the bird image, well, there is more lapsing than flying in this movement. But where is the bareness, the rocky directness – where is the something more direct and real than any play of outer form can give? The attempt at colour, image, expression is just the same as in the old poetry – whatever is new and deep comes from Lawrence’s peculiar vision, but could have been more powerfully expressed in a closer-knit language and metre.
Of course, it does not follow that new and freer forms are not to be attempted or that they cannot succeed at all. (I may say in passing that this is not the same principle as my stress poem – reliance on stresses and reliance on lengths are two very different things.) But if they succeed it will be bringing the fundamental quality, power, movement of the old poetry – which is the eternal quality of all poetry – into new metrical and rhythmic discoveries and new secrets of poetic expression. It can’t be done by reducing these to skeletonic bareness or suppressing them by subdual and dilution in a vain attempt to unite the free looseness of prose with the gathered and intent paces of poetry.
P.S. Written in haste with no time to revise. If slips or corrections needed, will do in typescript. I am keeping the excerpts to see if there is anything else that needs saying.
I am rather doubtful whether a correspondence like this is suitable for the Viswa Bharati. What I have written is too slight and passing and general a comment such as one can hazard in a private letter; but for a criticism that has to see the light of day something more ample and sufficient would be necessary. Lawrence’s poetry, whatever one may think of his theory or technique, has too much importance and significance to be lightly handled and the “modernism” of contemporary poetry is a fait accompli. One can refuse to recognise as legitimate the fait accompli, whether in Abyssinia or in the realms of literature, but it is too solid to be met with a mere condemnation in principle. I have no time however for anything more adequate, nor indeed to add anything at all for the moment to what I have written, so I content myself by correcting a few errors and leave the rest as it is. No time to do anything but read rapidly through your added pages.
Please note that there is a considerable error of typing in one line of Lawrence’s stanza which I have put right.
July 2, 1936
I am sending you Tansies’. Before sending I opened it at random and found this –
“I can’t stand Willy Wet-leg
Can’t stand him at any price.
He’s resigned and when you hit him
He lets you hit him twice.”
Well, well, this is the bare, rockily direct poetry? God help us!
P.S. I think Dara could do the companion of that in his lighter moments! This is the sort of thing to which theories lead a man of genius.
July 3, 1936
No time to read or to write tonight. I must at least read Huxley’s preface60 and glance at some letters before venturing on any comments – like the reviewers who frisk about, a page here and there and then write an ample or sweeping review. Anyhow it seems to me Lawrence must have been a difficult man to live with, even for him it must have been difficult to live with himself. His photograph confirms that view. But a man at war with himself can write excellent poetry – if he is a poet; often better poetry than another, just as Shakespeare wrote his best tragedies when he was in a state of chaotic upheaval, at least so his interpreters say. One needs a higher inspiration to write poems of harmony and divine balance than any Lawrence ever had. So I stick to my idea of the evil influence of theories on a man of genius. If he had been contented to write things of beauty instead of bare rockies and dry deserts, he might have done splendidly.
July 3, 1936
All great personalities have a strong ego of one kind or another – for that matter it does not need to be a big personality to be ego-centred; ego-centricity is the very nature of life in the Ignorance – even the sattwic man, the philanthropist, the altruist live for and round their ego. Society imposes an effort to restrain and when one cannot restrain at least to disguise it; morality to control, enlarge, refine or sublimate it [ego] so that it shall be able to exceed itself or use itself in the service of things bigger than its own primary egoism. But none of these things enables one to escape from it. It is only by finding something deep within or above ourselves and making laya [dissolution] of the ego in that that it is possible. It is what Lawrence saw and it was his effort to do it that made him “other” than those who associated with him – but he could not find out the way. It was a strange mistake to seek it in sexuality; it was also a great mistake to seek it at the wrong end of the nature.
What you say about the discovery of the defects of human nature is no doubt true. Human nature is full of defects and cannot be otherwise, but there are other elements and possibilities in it which, although never quite unmixed, have to be seen to get a whole view. But the discovery of the truth about human beings need not lead to cynicism; it may lead to a calm aloofness and irony which has nothing disappointed or bitter in it; or it may lead to a large psychic charity which recognises the truth but makes all allowances and is ready to love and to help in spite of all. In the spiritual consciousness one is blind to nothing, but sees also that which is within behind these coverings, the divine element in all not yet released, and it is neither deceived nor repelled and discouraged. That inner greater thing that was in Lawrence and which he sought for is in everybody – he did not find it and they may not have yet released it, but it is there.
I do not know about the lovableness; what you say is partly true, but lovableness may exist in spite of ego and all kinds of defects and people may feel it.
P.S. No time yet to read the admirer’s letter, so shall send it back tomorrow.
July 5, 1936
It is the nature of vital love not to last or, if it tries to last, not to satisfy, because it is a passion which Nature has thrown in in order to serve temporary purposes – it is good enough therefore for a temporary purpose and its normal tendency is to wane when it has sufficiently served Nature’s purpose. In mankind, as man is a more complex being, she calls in the aid of imagination and idealism to help her push, gives a sense of ardour, of beauty and fire and glory, but all that wanes after a time. It cannot last, because it is all a borrowed light and power, borrowed in the sense of being a reflection caught from something beyond and not native to the reflecting vital medium which imagination uses for that purpose. Moreover nothing lasts in the mind and vital, all is in a flux there. The one thing that endures is the soul, the spirit. Therefore love can last or satisfy only if it bases itself on the soul and spirit, if it has its roots there. But that means living no longer in the vital but in the soul and spirit.
The difficulty of the vital giving up is because the vital is not governed by reason or knowledge, but by instinct and impulse and the desire of pleasure. It draws back because it is disappointed, because it realises that the disappointment will always repeat itself, but it does not realise that the whole thing was in itself a glamour or, if it does, it repines that it should be so. Where the vairagya is sattwic, born not of disappointment but of the sense of greater and truer things to be attained, this difficulty does not arise. Lawrence did not realise that he was on a false track, so he could not get on the true one. However, the vital can learn by experience, can learn so much as to turn away from its regret of the beauty of the will-o-the-wisp. Its vairagya can become sattwic and decisive.
July 5, 1936
I have read the “admirer’s” letter. I don’t suppose he has any definite idea of what is meant by seeking the Divine or the Yoga. I don’t know whether it is any use telling him that Yoga is not an easy thing and one has much to face and much to conquer and therefore it is not right to hurry to it. He should allow time for the consciousness to grow and become clear about its [aim] and the true urge behind before any step is taken? Things like that to stave him off? There is too much of a rhetorical turn in his epistle.
Prithwisingh wants to know whether Shankar paid the rent not only up to October (which P.S. knows) but up to December as Sen avers. I suppose he did pay, since he says so? He has agreed to pay by installments but claims a deduction of Rs. 300 for the garage. Prithwisingh is not inclined to concede more than Rs. 75. Sorry to intrude this on you, but I have to answer him about the rent payment up to December, so have to trouble you.
July 6, 1936
Thirst for the Divine is one thing and depression is quite another, nor is depression a necessary consequence of the thirst being unsatisfied; that may lead to a more ardent thirst or to a fixed resolution and persistent effort or to a more and more yearning call or to a psychic sorrow which is not at all identical with depression and despair. Depression is a clouded grey state in its nature and it is more difficult for light to come through clouds and greyness than through a clear atmosphere. That depression obstructs the inner light is a matter of general experience. The Gita says expressly, “Yoga should be practised persistently with a heart free from depression” – acetasāḥ anirvin Bunyan in The Pilgrim’s Progress symbolises it as the Slough of Despond, one of the perils of the way that has to be overcome. It is no doubt impossible to escape from attacks of depression, almost all sadhaks go through these attacks, but the principle is that one should react against them and not allow them by any kind of mental encouragement or acceptance of their suggestions to persist or grow chronic.
It is hardly a fact that sorrow is necessary in order to make the soul seek the Divine. It is the call of the soul within for the Divine that makes it turn, and that may come under any circumstances – in full prosperity and enjoyment, at the height of outward conquest and victory without any sorrow or disappointment, but by a sudden or a growing enlightenment, by a flash of light in the midst of sensuous passion, as in Bilwamangal61, by the perception that there is something greater and truer than this outward life lived in ego and ignorance. None of these turns need be accompanied by sorrow and depression. Often one turns saying, “Life is all very well and interesting enough as a game, but it is only a game, the spiritual reality is greater than the life of the mind and senses.” In whatever way it comes, it is the call of the Divine or the soul’s call to the Divine that matters, the attraction of it is something far greater than the things that usually hold the nature. Certainly if one is satisfied with life, entranced by it so that it shuts out the sense of the soul within or hampers the attraction to the Divine, then a period of vairagya, sorrow, depression, a painful breaking of the vital ties may be necessary and many go through that. But once the turn made, it should be to the one direction and a perpetual vairagya is not needed. Nor when we speak of cheerfulness as the best condition, do we mean a cheerful following of the vital life, but a cheerful following of the path to the Divine which is not impossible if the mind and heart take the right view and posture. At any rate, if positive cheerfulness is not possible in one’s case, still one should not acquiesce in or mentally support a constant depression and sadness. That is not at all indispensable for keeping turned to the Divine.
In speaking of the Buddhist and his nine years of the wall and other instances, the Mother was only disproving the view that not having succeeded in seven or eight years meant unfitness and debarred all hope for the future. The man of the wall stands among the greatest names in Japanese Buddhism and his long sterility did not mean incapacity or spiritual unfitness; but apart from that there are many who have gone on persisting for long periods and finally prevailed. It is a common, not an uncommon experience.
I answer about the psychic and vital love tomorrow.
July 7, 1936
It is certainly easier to have friendship between man and man or between woman and woman than between man and woman, because there the sexual intrusion can be easily absent. In the friendship between man and woman the sexual turn can at any moment come in in a subtle or a direct way and produce perturbations. But there is no impossibility of friendship between man and woman pure of this element; such friendships can exist and have always existed. All that is needed is that the lower vital should not look in at the back door or be permitted to enter. There is often a harmony between a masculine and a feminine nature, an attraction or an affinity which rests on something other than any open or covert lower vital (sexual) basis – it depends sometimes predominantly on the mental or on the psychic or on the higher vital, or on a mixture of these for its substance. In such cases friendship is natural and there is little chance of other elements coming in to pull it downwards or break it.
It is also a mistake to think that the vital alone has warmth and the psychic is something frigid without any flame in it. A clear limpid goodwill is a very good thing and desirable – [one has only to consider what a changed place the Ashram would be if all had it for each other62.] But that is not what is meant by psychic love. Love is love and not merely goodwill. Psychic love can have a warmth and a flame as intense and more intense than the vital, only it is a pure fire, not dependent on the satisfaction of ego-desire or on the eating up of the fuel it embraces. It is a white flame, not a red one; but white heat is not inferior to the red variety in its ardour. It is true that the psychic love does not usually get its full play in human relations and human nature, it finds the fullness of its fire and ecstasy more easily when it is lifted towards the Divine. In the human relation the psychic love gets mixed up with other elements which seek at once to use it and overshadow it. It gets an outlet for its own full intensities only at rare moments. Otherwise it comes in only as an element, but even so it contributes all the higher things in a love that is predominantly vital – all the finer sweetness, tenderness, fidelity, self-giving, self-sacrifice, reachings of soul to soul, idealising sublimations that lift up human love beyond itself, come from the psychic. If it could dominate and govern and transmute the other elements, mental, vital, physical of human love, then love could be on the earth some reflection or preparation of the real thing, an integral union of the soul and its instruments in a dual life. But even some imperfect appearance of that is rare.
[Here we do not talk of psychic love between sadhaks, for the reason that that comes usually to be employed as a cover and excuse for things that are not at all psychic and have no place in the spiritual life.] Our view is that the normal thing is in Yoga for the entire flame of the nature to turn towards the Divine and the rest must wait for the true basis: to build higher things on the sand and mire of the ordinary consciousness is not safe. That does not necessarily exclude friendships or comradeships, but these must be subordinate altogether to the central fire. If anyone makes meanwhile the relation with the Divine his one absorbing aim, that is quite natural and gives the full force to the sadhana. Psychic love finds itself wholly when it is the radiation of the diviner consciousness for which we are seeking; till then it is difficult for it to put out its undimmed integral self and figure.
P.S. Mind, vital, physical are properly instruments for the soul and spirit; when they work for themselves then they produce ignorant and imperfect things – if they can be made into conscious instruments of the psychic and the spirit, then they get their own fulfilment – that is the idea contained in what we call transformation in this Yoga.
July 8, 1936
I am extremely glad to hear that the association of prayer and sadness which was the great difficulty in concentration was broken and I hope this will confirm itself more and more in future. I am glad also to see that it came by referring a difficulty in you to Krishna and the resolution not to accept the separation between Krishna and ourselves which added a hindrance to the action of the Force. It is the second sign of a response from above and however slight these interventions may seem they are important as a beginning. In other respects also there is an evolution of the mind, as in what you say about Lawrence and your own similar change of idea and feeling, that moves towards the Yogic attitude. If only this evolution can take place without too much pain and struggle, that will be very desirable – and I hope it will become so.
July 9, 1936
What you feel must certainly be the truth, that a barrier has gone down so that it is possible to feel the right attitude and do the sadhana in the true poise of inner peace and strong aspiration. It is this that must last so that the opening of the inner consciousness may be made. As regards the help from Lawrence, it is not unnatural, for, however individually different, both he and you were going through the same evolution. Lawrence had the psychic push inside towards the Unseen and Beyond at the same time as a push towards the vital life which came in its way. He was trying to find his way between the two and mixing them up together till at the end he got his mental liberation from the tangle though not yet any clear knowledge of the way – for that I suppose he will have to be born nearer the East or in any case in surroundings which will enable him to get at the Light.
P.S. A letter or rather two poems for you from a friend of Purnananda. who seems to know you well. It was sent to me by Yogananda63 in an envelope addressed to Purnananda and containing also letters to myself and the Mother.
July 10, 1936
The peace has, happily, continued. Did a good deal of japa, concentration, etc. on Mother’s name praying for bhakti mostly, and this afternoon as well as at evening meditation the aspiration was strong and at evening meditation felt a strong pressure on the head, between eyebrows, forehead and had I believe a good concentration too. Coming back, again prayed, etc. and am feeling quite hopeful even yogically – who says the age of miracle is gone for good and all? Who? What?
I am quite delighted to hear it – also of the pressure on the head and between eyebrows – for that is the classic unmistakable sign that the higher consciousness is thinking of getting to its business – viz, to open the two higher centres that are there. I hope it will stick to its job and get through.
P.S. Last night also did a lot of japa intermittently as I awoke from sleep – either pacing it on the terrace or sitting or lying. I am (would you believe it?) taking interest in the sadhana, fancy that!! Actual interest!!! Qu’en dites-vous?
Magnificent! More and more of it, please.
July 11, 1936
Today I had a lot of work – proofs, etc. Tried to remember and offer it all. From 5 p.m. I again did the concentration [6.30 p.m.] etc. till now and am now on my way to meditation. The lightness, calm, etc. persist, I’m glad to say and at many slight things I am confronted by two attitudes of which then to take up the right attitude has become easy. For instance, we cooked a little khichari [porridge made with rice and pulses] today and after hours of work I sat down to eat with a real Dilipian verve and gusto. But I kept saying to myself: “Mustn’t eat too much: it brings lethargy and then I can’t do the concentration, etc.” And I succeeded and as a result didn’t feel heavy at all and did all the concentration, etc. In many other slight things too – ditto. I am trying rather easily to remember you and Mother and am succeeding which I couldn’t do so long – though I did try hard, you must concede – I tried and tried and failed and fretted and chafed and pouted and pestered, etc. etc. etc.! But now it has become much easier and the effort, too has become ever so much more interesting in consequence. I pray it may continue.
All that is very good – it means simply that the consciousness is now developing and opening more and more towards the Yogic change, so that things once difficult because of a mental and vital opposition, can now be done much more easily with a greatly lessened resistance. Maintain this progress and it might not take too long for the inner doors to open – for these are signs of the influence of the inner being growing rapidly on the outer and preparing it naturally for its rule.
July 12, 1936
The translation is a very poetic rendering of the original which was undoubtedly appropriate – but in my experience such appropriatenesses are very common once the inner consciousness is working. Things seem then to be designed so as to help to “illuminate”.
Certainly, the overcoming of these little mental physical grappling hooks of attachment is helpful so I cannot object to your proposal, especially as you propose not to overdo it. I would only begin to be alarmed if I saw you casting longing glances at groundnuts and goat’s milk and turning into a rival of Mahatma Gandhi. But that I do not apprehend – so I remain tranquil.
July 13, 1936
The woman of the photograph is certainly genuine, that is to say she is sincere and her trances are genuine. The Mother could follow her through the trance experience reflected in the photograph and find that she went into a sort of static Sachidananda consciousness, that is a broad release of peace and quietude, behind the vital – for into this kind of state one can withdraw on almost any level, in the physical consciousness, in the vital as well as in the higher mental or overmental. Wherever entered into, it is, though rather negative, yet a very happy state and it is probably the light of that happiness that creates the radiance, they speak of. It is a withdrawn and disinterested condition; one always wants to be in it and has no wish for anything else. Hence her refusal to be bothered with disciples and her frequent samadhi.
July 15, 1936
The poems of your father which you have sent me are indeed exceedingly beautiful and the warsong64 is a truly powerful poem, I don’t remember having seen anything equal to it in its line. It is good if he is now receiving his dues as a poet.
It is a fact that the lower forces always intrude when they see that a sadhak is making too much progress for their taste. But they can do nothing against a clear and steady will and a faithful perseverance.
July 16, 1936
Yes, the poem is beautiful and it puts the Vaishnava bhāva into modern speech with a successful simplicity and intimacy which is quite unique. Nishikanta’s as always, is rich and beautiful, but of another manner.
Very glad to learn that you are able to keep up your wicket so well. These body line attacks are always a nasty trick of the returning [?] and they go on with it as long as they just can, for they are unrelenting and obstinate even in defeat; but one has only to be as stiff to them as possible and their action will get more and more tired until it stops altogether.
P.S. The harmonium is hopeless in the rainy season and it does not seem that anything can be done. The repairer said, when asked to set right, that it was impossible – the keys stick with the damp in this climate and unstick themselves again afterwards – any interference would spoil the instrument.
July 19, 1936
For my music syllabus at which I have been working hard of late I am including one or two translations of songs given. This song [Home of Bliss] I translated this morning – the song that brought my father to the zenith of his fame as a composer in the swadeshi days – the song that every Bengali now knows. Please correct my translation, I have had to be just a little free here and there to make it sound at home in English. I don’t know if I have succeeded.
Please read it out to Mother after your corrections. I’d love to sing it to her tomorrow.
It is a very beautiful song. The translation is a little free, but it reads very well in English.
July 19, 1936
Of course it is a mistake to conceal. But do not allow the failure to upset you. The reason of the persistence is because this has been one of the strongest instincts and habits of the nature, so it is more difficult to get out than others. Going out would not be very good tactics; these things are not usually got rid of in that way. The one thing is not to get upset and diverted from the endeavour, but to go on quietly and persistently in spite of returns of the thing upon you. With perseverance a time comes when something intervenes and one finds oneself free except perhaps for a few whiffs that come and go without disturbing the equilibrium or influencing conduct and then even these fade off.
July 21, 1936
This admission of Nishikanta’s success is a recognition of the fact in spite of a denial of the principle. But is it true that the laghu guru is to the Bengali ear as impossible as would be to the English ear the line made up by Tagore: “Autumn flaunteth in his bushy bowers”? In English such a violence could not be entertained for a moment. It was because Spencer65 and others tried to base their hexameters and pentameters on this flagrant violation of the first law of English rhythm that the attempt to introduce Quantitative metres in English proved a failure. Accent cannot be ignored in English rhythm and in my attempts at quantitative metre I always count an accentuated syllable even if the vowel is short as a long one – for it does become long for metrical purposes.
July 24, 1936
What the deuce is Yogic poetry, not to speak of too Yogic? Poetry is poetry, whatever the subject. If one can’t appreciate the subject one can at least appreciate its poetical expression. One may be a non-drinker yet appreciate the beauty of Anacreon’s66 lyrics and one may be a pacifist and yet appreciate the poetic power of your father’s war song. However, perhaps once there is a conversion in other things, there may be an eleventh hour repentance here also.
Glad to hear about the dream being stopped – that is always a sign of some control beginning even in sleep – so we may hope that the thing is on its last legs indeed. Anyhow, if the lower vital is beginning to reject it, the rest is only a matter of some time.
July 24, 1936
I suppose the real secret of it is there that you go out of the Tagorian orbit too far and completely. I don’t think your poetry is more “esoteric” than in the earlier poems – for esoteric means something that only the initiated in the mysteries can understand; to be accustomed with spiritual aspirations does not make a poem esoteric, such poems can be perfectly well understood by those who are not mystics or Yogis. Yours are certainly not more esoteric or yogic than Nishikanta’s with his frequent incursions into the occult and if Tagore could be bowled over by the “Rajhamsa” poem, that shows that yogic poetry can be appreciated by him and by others. I take it that is a transition to a new style of writing that meets with so much opposition and these are only excuses for the refusal of the mind to appreciate what is new. On the other [hand] those who have not the prejudice have not the difficulty. With time the obstacle will disappear.
July 25, 1936
A most engrossing day writing editorial notes on music for my syllabus. Thrilling though. Most delectable technical gymnastics, what? Feeling otherwise all right innocent like lamb and pure like dove.
I enclose a letter from Prof. Bhattacharya the savant. He has spotted my mistake I had imagined in Bahūballabh Doved by many] crescent moon dotted by a star in the sky. Obviously it cannot be as he points out, as the upper part will cover the dot since it has not melted because it is not lighted up by the sun. Clever that. But a good critic – what? To find out such real mistakes. I am glad as I always plume myself on my meticulous attention to such details. The darpahārī [humbler of pride] has crushed my darpa [pride, vanity]. Halleluja, what? But note his tribute withal. Halleluja – twice, what?
Yes, it is a little bit of a blunder – but, after all, quite small and unnoticeable if you compare with the bold and wild impossibilities of many great writers – e.g. Browning’s impossible feats of horsemanship in “How they brought the good news to Ghent.” These slips happen to everybody.
I enclose a lovely book [love poems in Hindi] by O. C. Ganguli67]. Please glance at it once or twice and read on page 39 the lovely aka [metre of twelve)tot syllables in Sanskrit poetry] hindi song and on page 47 the magnificent varsa [monsoon] song. Wonderful! No? What kallol68 and rhythm. But laghu guru pure mind you. Read also his letters. It is strange he so much values my praise – the praise of an ignoramus on painting. But tell me how do you find the plates? Tagore and Roerich69 do praise them lavishly. Are they deserving of so much praise? Please enlighten me and edify me, O Guru. If possible open in me some eye. I frankly confess most Indian art means nothing to me. Is there any good painting here? If so which plates show that? Will you tell me? I want to learn, you see. I am ashamed to advertise my ignorance about such an art as painting. Disgraceful.
Very beautiful pictures, but you have to accustom yourself to the conventions of this school of art. Difficult to choose, there are so many that are excellent. It would need time and reflection.
Don’t be desperate about your incapacity as a connoisseur of painting. I was worse in this respect, knew something about sculpture, but blind to painting. Suddenly one day in the Alipore jail, while meditating saw some “pictures” on the wall of the cell and lo and behold! the artistic eye in me opened and I knew all about painting except of course the more material side of the technique. I don’t always know how to express though, because I lack the knowledge of the proper expressions, but that does not stand in the way of a keen and understanding appreciation. So, there you are. All things are possible [in Yoga].
July 26, 1936
Last night I suddenly went to the French pictures – the mistake of my life-time – to see the famous Don Quixote. Came away fed up after half-an-hour. Served right after a hard day’s labour.
Another song of my father’s, and Nishikanta’s beautiful twin. See. This song can be read too.
Please note that Tagore recites too his Desh desh and writes in a letter to Anderson70 (I quote from the book “Chhanda”): “In Bengali we recite poetry with a certain melody. Even while reading prose, there is some sort of melody. It is so because of the very nature of our language. Owing to this habit, we use melody even while reading English composition. Certainly to an English ear, it would sound strange.”
This is an extremely important (and inconsistent) admission from Tagore – inconsistent for one who washes his hands of laghu guru. He says, mind you, that in songs laghu guru wins because of the drawl supplied by the melody. But in recitation this drawl has always been supplied by this sur [melody] he speaks of and take the twin songs. When we recite it we apply this sur to them – Nishikanta too does, unconsciously, my father who was an eminent actor and declaimer also did – consciously. In sanmukh samare pan bīr churāmani [The gem among warriors fell fighting face to face in the battlefield] we all recite it in a wavy way. It is this wavy sur that makes laghu guru sound natural. So you see it is another reason, if reason were still needed, why laghu guru can be accepted. I hope I am clear? I mean we do not recite our poems as we speak, so why worry about laws of common parlance – since our recitation (yatra, kathakata71 etc.) is made to resound with this sur? But Tagore I can quite admit does not remember his own arguments in favour of one point of view when he looks askance at it, what?
That is quite luminous and, after Tagore had expressed it so well it is surprising he should forget it at his convenience. But that is after all a thing natural to the human intelligence and not peculiar to anybody. For man is a reasoning, so an arguing animal – and when he argues, he chooses whatever will support his theses, no matter if it contradicts everything he had said before.
I have sent you this morning the letter of this Yuvarani of Kasmanda whose son died and who was about to come last February if you remember – having been given permission by you and Mother. She, let me remind you, is a friend of Raihana and lost her eldest son (of sixteen) lately. She wants to come on 14th August for darshan. I hope she will be given permission once more.
Of course permission is given. Inform Nolini.
As for her question about her bereavement do let me have at least a few lines which I will convey to her. I don’t relish the idea of philosophising about it when I am so far from the attitude of a nirdvandva [equable] yogi. Even a sentence or two from you will, I am sure, immensely help her, as you have both the knowledge and the grace which make the blind see.
It is a very intricate and difficult question to tackle and it can hardly be done in a few words. Moreover it is impossible to give a general rule as to why there are these close inner contacts followed by a physical separation through death – in each case it differs and one would have to know the persons and be familiar with their soul history to tell what was behind their meeting and separation. In a general way, a life is only one brief episode in a long history of spiritual evolution in which the soul follows the curve of the line set for the earth, passing through many lives to complete it. It is an evolution out of material inconscience to consciousness and towards the Divine Consciousness, from ignorance to divine Knowledge, from darkness through half-light to Light, from death to Immortality, from suffering to the Divine Bliss. Suffering is due first to the Ignorance, secondly to the separation of the individual consciousness from the divine Consciousness and Being, a separation created by the Ignorance – when that ceases, when one lives in the Divine and no more in one’s separated smaller self, then only suffering can altogether cease. Each soul follows its own line and these lines meet, journey together for a space, then part to meet again perhaps hereafter – often they meet to help each other on the journey in one way or another. As for the after-death period, the soul passes into other planes of existence, staying there for a while till it reaches its place of rest where it remains until it is ready for another terrestrial existence. This is the general law, but for the connections of embodied soul with embodied soul that is a matter of personal evolution of the two on which nothing general can be said as it is intimate to the soul stories of the two and needs a personal knowledge. That is all I can say, but I don’t know that it will be of much help to her as these things are helpful usually only when one enters into the consciousness in which they become not mere ideas but realities. Then one grieves no longer because one enters into the Truth and the Truth brings calm and peace.
July 1936 (?)
I suppose all hinges on the distinction made by Prabodh Sen72 between the “can” and the “will”. Since the “will” has been effective in the popular appreciation of the Vaishnav poets and of some later laghu guru poems, one may expect it to extend itself to whatever poetry is written with naturalness and beauty and power in this kind of metre.
I did not read Tagore’s book but glancing over its pages my eyes fell on that extraordinary rewriting of the opening of Meghnad Badh73 and I stopped short with a gasp and a shriek. Truly, truly, but –!
July 27, 1936
Your letter this morning is beautiful and written in such a soft humanistic tone almost! I am sure it will help her. The other day you quite floored me by as good as saying that when one wants the Divine all friendship, etc. is little better than nonsense. I agreed though, as I don’t really like terrestrial life and evolution, still the only thing I rather like still in this darkish world is friendship and affection and art and music and poetry. But as all friendship, you pointed out, are stigmatised by some vital warmth or other, well, I told myself (willingly), “Better be cold to all when it is such a trouble and never a help, almost always a hindrance at worst a downfall at best a tolerable thing.” But in this letter you suggest humans do help each other – their destinies meeting and re-meeting to that end. Well, I like this attitude better as, alas, I have had too many friends in my life and still have a soft corner in my heart even for men like Dhurjati, the atheist and Subhash the patriot. However I am babbling to no purpose. This is only to say that some part of my heart was touched by your tone in this letter in contradistinction to that of your other letter where you practically threw freezing water on the fuels of all friendships as their psychic is so little [absurd].
Well, I was speaking in this answer not of Yoga but of the process of human lives in previous stages of development. In Yoga friendship can remain, but attachment has to fall away or any such engrossing affection as would keep one tied to the ordinary life and consciousness – human relations must take quite a small and secondary place and not interfere with the turn to the Divine.
But Jet that pass. I will send this letter to this Princess tomorrow and I am sure she will be helped by it.
I think you have a poem of Nishikanta still with you.
Still I send you a most remarkable poem of his most powerful and vivid and original nagardola [merry-go-round] you know, don’t you? A number of seats wheeling in a vertical circle and people are joyous in fetes therein? This image has been poetically exploited by Nishikanta in a remarkable manner.
Yes, it is magnificent.
By the way, sorry could not read even with Nolini’s help the last part of your remarks on Browning’s horsemanship. Am enclosing it. Do explain how he was rendered hors de combat at Ghent or whatever it is. Nolini could not throw any light on it.
Well it runs: Browning’s impossible feats of horsemanship in his “How they brought the Good news to Ghent.” Those slips happen to everybody. Unfortunately I have forgotten the lines once very familiar except the last of the stanza,
“Nor galloped less steadily Roland a whit”
Roland is the horse and his rider while still on the saddle and galloping at full speed rearranges the saddle, does something with the girths and some other feats which I don’t remember (I believe he kicks off his jack-boots, but I won’t swear to it) – “nor galloped less steadily Roland a whit74.”
You have just only to get on a horse and try to do these marvellous things to realise their impossibility – I won’t promise that you won’t be in the Bay of Bengal and the horse God knows where before you are quarter of the way through. Anyway your moon and star chandrabindu is just nothing to that.
I am glad you liked the poem of last evening by my father. He was the best song-composer in laghu guru anyhow, and this song was one of his very best, delightful in form and rhythm and image and substance, delicacy of emotion and suggestiveness.
July 30, 1936
You will surely forgive me if I say that I have written something magnificent suddenly this morning as I offer it to Mother and don’t claim it as my own. The context is this, so you’ll understand this opulence of strength.
Last night I felt very weak in my depression. “I have been resisting so long – sincerely trying – still, the Divine helps not, etc...” these familiar grievances came. And on top the weakness which I have been resisting for some time past at [?] occasionally failing a little. Last night however I felt terribly feeble and sad because of this sense of feebleness. I worked and worked still it was bad as ever. Then I went to Ashram and prayed to you and Mother before your picture for a while. Then the feebleness passed. I came back and worked at my music and lo, the depression too lifted!
This morning I felt as though rejuvenated and fiery. So this fiery song on mantra75. Now encourage me please by calling it magnificent as you must concede it is, since for ages I have not written with such fire.
Quite magnifically magnificent – it is quite exhilarating to read a poem so full of power and energy.
August 8, 1936
Yesterday I saw a dream rather lovely about Divine Grace: as though it retiring everything seemed black. But it was present even when it had seemed to recede. A voice said so anyhow, “It waits for you to greet it, it is greeting you always. See if it recedes for a moment one finds it impossible even to breathe. The fact, therefore, that you breathe is significant – proving that it supports your breathing – that the channel is not stopped, etc.”
A very fine dream experience – also a true voice.
The poem has been a long one, and growing longer. I will send you the thing tomorrow. Lovely images are coming. So.
I send you the song on Clouds. While singing the idea of Shiva came and so I had to alter it a good deal. See now. It seems much better ... picturesque rather. How is it that poems are often so infinitely improved by chiselling? Does the inspiration so improve when chiselling and polishing?
It is a second inspiration improving on the first. When the improving is done by the mind more than by the inspiration, then the retouches spoil more often than they perfect.
Nishikanta’s poem too see.
August 8, 1936
The poem has been finished – at last. But it has grown irresistibly longish. I send you the first quarter today. Please finish it tonight. Tomorrow I will send you half or what remains. And the day after tomorrow the rest – so that it may be finished by you in three days all told.
You will please note the planning – and the change of rhythm. The rhythm changes following the change of mood of course. A new beauty has come into my rhythm I feel, what?
It is very fine indeed both in expression and rhythm. I wait for the rest.
I send you two translations of Nishikanta’s, short ones.
Very good both of them.
Sorry, but I will let you have complete respite from poetry in three days. Please bear with our eagerness that you should read a little, of our lucubrations daily at least.
August 9, 1936
The Light went out, the Light went out – and being not fortunate enough to be in line with the Government house, ours remained out. I had no time nor courage to go through a long pencilled poem with my insufficient substitute76 – so all had to be shoved over to tomorrow. Man proposes, but the Pondicherry Municipality disposes. But there will be Grace tomorrow – P.M. volente.
August 11, 1936
Am still reading – have reached page nine – will finish tonight. Very admirable – so far as I have got.
August 11, 1936
I have finished your long poem. It is a great success. The constantly sustained beauty of the language and imagery and the felicity of the changes of metre, each rhythm coming in with a new expressiveness and attractive charm give a perfection of detail enhanced by a considerable structural finish – a success in prolonged lyrical structure being more difficult than any other.
August 12, 1936
I had thought of giving you full respite from today for sometime. But Suryamukhi has arrived so I send. I have not fancied the red on the wrapper. It looks a counterfeit sort of thing – no life in it. What does Mother think of it and you? Please let me know at once (tomorrow morn.) as I have to ask Rameswar to change it immediately if so needed. Later it will be too-latish.
The design is good and the red is not at all bad – rather striking – likely to help the sale. So why change?
Since I send the book why not send you once more the poem of yesterday. I see the trouble. To our Bengali ear, it was all right, so I was almost felicitating myself too soon without suspecting the Accent Elf on the qui vive for my blunders. So I have let the rhyme go and stick to rhythm. Please correct. I have put lisping, mellow, love-gleam, and basking. Don’t know if these words are better. I have a feeling they are – it is for you to pronounce.
“Lisping” is all right, but “mellow”, “basking” seem very cheap because they are worn out often used expressions and ought not to be called in except when they help to create new effect. I think it was originally “slow hush,” why not “slow rich” and for “basking” I would suggest “adrift”. The lines are very picturesque, so something picturesque is needed throughout.
Tonight I won’t sing as I had a lot of work with servant and feel unmusical. But if tomorrow the Yuvarani comes to hear I will – perhaps. Not otherwise. I prefer now to meditate. Really I don’t so keenly care to sing for others nowadays. I hope that is a good augury. As for the rest it is all good. I feel a sense of purity, a freedom from the Old Adam etc., thanks to Mother’s grace whose grace too may now begin to dawn in the “trough of the dim night”. Augury shall we say? The poem did mean it anyhow.
The good Promod Sen sends Rs. 10. He prays for a copy of Mother’s Conversations.
(...) I quite agree about the language. It is an exquisitely beautiful translation.
Yes, keep the literature valve open. As to the 15th, well, it has its advantages, but also its disadvantages. Among the latter is the afflux of people full of the consciousness of the outside world – bringing an oppressive weight of dullness and ordinariness into the atmosphere – also as the adverse forces know that something is to be attempted at this period they become active to stop it. Don’t lay too much stress on the 15th which is after all more a general than a personal occasion – for the individual any day in the year may be the 15th – that is the birthday or a birthday of something in the inner being. It is with that feeling that one should do the sadhana.
August 15, 1936
I see. But no time for replying – not so much on account of being tired, though no sleep at night and an (almost) whole day’s sitting is something of a grill, but afterwards also I have had to deal with the most formidable mail from outside I have yet seen not to speak of other laborious matters = an all night sitting after the all day session. Quite approve of your Yogic will not to retaliate.
August 18, 1936
(...) and the peace within, the atmosphere may more quickly by contagion become also peaceful, and at least the peace is worth having for its own sake.
August 24, 1936
There is no reason to think that the movement of strength and purity was a make-believe. No, it was a real thing. But with these strong forward movements the vital enthusiasm often comes in with a triumphant “Now it is finished”, which is not quite justified, for “Now it will be soon finished” would be nearer to it. It is at these moments that the thrice-damned Censor comes in with a jog, raises up a still shaky bit of the nature and produces a result that is out of all proportion to the size of the little bit, just to show that it is not finished. I have had any number of times that experience myself. All this comes from the complexity and slowness of our evolutionary nature which Yoga quickens but not as a whole at one stroke. But in fact, as I said, these crises are out of all proportion to their cause in the nature. One must therefore not be discouraged, but see the exaggeration in the adversary’s successful negation as well as in the exaggeration in our own idea of a complete and definite victory already there.
That too explains Puranmal’s condition. His experiences are quite sound and have brought a considerable part of his nature into the Light, but the physical and nervous man (by nervous I mean vital-physical) was unrefined, hard and obscure, indulging in grossnesses of many kinds. It is that part of him which is still giving trouble because it is still not enough purified and has acquired sensitiveness at the cost of a nervous excitement caused by the crude elements not yet accepting to change.
Sahana is no longer working about the past events (only seeking for the inner causes of her stumble), so I don’t write about them either. She is recovered a little, enough to think of her taking to music again. We will see when she is quite all right.
Yes, that is the bother of these attachments – the reason why the Yogis were so down on them – the Vedantists especially with their insistence on the breaking of the heart-knots. They must have known from their own difficulties in the matter.
I am pondering over what to say and not to say about this spiritism – so many people find solace in it like Raihana. And yet well, it is a damnably mixed sort of thing and not safe. Tomorrow.
August 25, 1936
(Re: Attachment between Raihana and the Gujarati girl Saroj)
About spiritism, I think, I can say this much for the present. It is quite possible for the dead or rather the departed – for they are not dead – who are still in regions near the earth to have communication with the living. Sometimes it happens automatically, sometimes by an effort at communication on one side of the curtain or the other. There is no impossibility of such communication by the means used by the spiritists; usually, however, genuine communications or a contact can only be with those who are yet in a world which is a sort of idealised replica of the earth-consciousness in which the same personality, ideas, memories persist that the person had here. But all that pretends to be communications with departed souls is not genuine – especially when it is done through a paid professional medium. There is there an enormous amount of mixture of a very undesirable kind – for apart from the great mass of unconscious suggestions from the sitters or the contributions of the medium’s subliminal consciousness, one gets into contact with a world of beings which is of a very deceptive or self-deceptive illusory nature. Many of these come and claim to be the departed souls of relatives, acquaintances, well-known men, famous personalities, etc. There are also beings who pick up the discarded feelings and memories of the dead and masquerade with them. There are a great number of beings who come to such séances only to play with the consciousness of men or exercise their powers through this contact with the earth and who dope the mediums and sitters with their falsehoods, tricks and illusions. (I am supposing, of course, the case of mediums who are not themselves tricksters.) A contact with such a plane of spirits can be harmful (most mediums become nervously or morally unbalanced) and spiritually dangerous. Of course, all pretended communications with the famous dead of long-past times are in their very nature deceptive and most of those with the recent ones also – that is evident from the character of these communications. Through conscientious mediums one may get sound results (in the matter of the dead), but even these are very ignorant of the nature of the forces they are handling and have no discrimination which can guard them against trickery from the other side of the veil. Very little genuine knowledge of the nature of the after-life can be gathered from these séances; a true knowledge is more often gained by the experience of individuals who make serious contact or are able in one way or another to cross the border.
[When Mother said that it was not good to try to meet the dead, she was speaking from a spiritual standpoint which is not usually known or regarded by the spiritists.
I have written so much in answer to your question (and V’s), but I do not know that it would be right to let all that go to R. Her experiences conducted by herself in person are probably genuine and it would not be helpful to trouble her with all these general considerations which would not be relevant to her own case.]
August 26, 1936
No, there was nothing in the Mother’s look about the weakness. She entirely approves of your putting all before us and is aware of your endeavour. There is no reason to get depressed about that. It must be quietly fought out till you have recovered any lost ground and achieved a complete control. As for the bad dreams, that is involuntary and even those who are quite free in the waking consciousness sometimes have them – what has to be avoided is these having any repercussion on the consciousness. These dreams even come sometimes without any psychological sex cause from a purely physical pressure.
Yoga has always its difficulties, whatever Yoga it be. Moreover, in each it acts in a different way. Some have to overcome the difficulties of their nature first before they get any experiences to speak of – others get a splendid beginning and all the difficulties afterwards – others go on for a long time having alternate risings to the top of the wave and then a descent into the gulfs and so on till the vital difficulty is worked out – that is the case with Dahyalal Desai; others have a smooth path which does not mean that they have no difficulties – they have plenty, but they do not care a straw for them, because they feel sure that the Divine will help them to the goal, or that he is with them even when they do not feel him – their faith makes them imperturbable. What Puranmal feels is true – there are certain signs by which one can know it. As for Narbhusan he never tried to do Yoga, so he is not a case in point at all – if he had wanted he might have done something, but except at the beginning he did not want it in the least.
The last Darshan was good on the whole. I am not now trying to bring anything sensational down on these days, but I am watching the progress in the action of the Force and Consciousness that are already there, the infiltration of a greater Light and Power from above, and there was a very satisfactory crossing of a difficult border which promises well for the near future. A thing has been done which had long failed to accomplish itself and which is of great importance. I don’t explain now, because it forms part of an arranged whole which is explicable only when it is complete. But it gives a sort of strong practical assurance that the thing will be done.
For yourself it seems to me that the consciousness is growing towards the point at which there can be the decisive change upwards and inwards, decisive and effective, and there is no case for depression – for that change is the one thing needful.
August 31, 1936
I felt much moved at Mother’s feet at noon after the song on Krishna. Puranmal moved me much saying Krishna sat on the same throne with Mother. So now-a-days I feel a greater call to identify both of them and you in fact. This morning I got up at 4 a.m. and did japa, etc. long. After which I sang and felt very strong. I have a feeling that now ft will be over. On verra [We’ll see]. Anyhow I am determined never more to yield. This time the struggle was extraordinarily keen. Again and again I rejected but again and again I felt weak. Today however I feel free, thank your grace and Mother’s.
I worked hard as usual. Multifarious press work, you know. Have ceased work only just now [5.30 p. m] to write to you. I enclose Vidya’s letter. I had chaffed her about never to say formal courteous things – so. Also my Hindi song I had sent her
ao aparupa kanta aisi chhabi bania
[come my beautiful beloved like a picture]
as she asked me for my Hindi song. She certifies it is fine Hindi. So I am now on sure ground. But it is descriptive Hindi – I can’t compose psychic songs, in Hindi. I don’t know Hindi well enough for that – not like Raihana or Harm. So. But anyhow I am so glad to be sure it sounds Hindi all right. You see I had an early gift for languages – but I don’t know Hindi thoroughly. I had once engaged an Urdu Professor at Calcutta to learn it and they all said (Malviyaji, Motilal Nehru, etc.) that my pronunciation was ideal. But it was because I was always a good reciter in all languages – when I sang German songs in Vienna they praised my accent, etc. The same in English. French songs I don’t know as well. But of course my Hindi pronunciation is all right. But look – I am running away babbling in forgetfulness that it is apropos of nothing. So I may halt to leave you to your more serious work.
I have written to Sotuda too sending him your last letter on astronomy and Bijoy Chatterji. That ought to buck him up.
Now to japa, etc.
He has sent a telegram that he has “lost his wife in the river”, prays for her soul’s peace! Strange!
One thing I am much struck by in Vidya’s letter: how can she have spotted the most beautiful songs in Bengali? She told me she learnt Bengali only for and in a few months. How can one learn a difficult language like ours and know which are the best songs? For the songs she quotes from my father’s and Atulprasad’s [she admires them, both great, she told me) are really of their very best. Intuition? What?
She must have the poetic sense – when one has that, one can catch the poetic quality in any language. But is Bengali sound difficult (pronunciation apart)? If one knows one other Indian language, it should rather be easy to pick up.
P.S. Today a cousin of mine has written that a sworn enemy of mine reading Suryamukhi said astonished: [Bengali word] Qu’en dites-vous? A sworn enemy, mind, who had been saying all sorts of things against me, what?
We appreciate the spirit in which you have made the suggestion, but a meditation with you will not in the least strain the Mother, on the contrary it will have the opposite effect. So you need not hesitate to come, the Mother will give you a meditation for some time and it will rather rest than at all strain her.
As for the question about the illness, perfection in the physical plane is indeed part of the idea of the Yoga, but it is the last item and, so long as the fundamental change has not been made in the material consciousness to which the body belongs, one may have a certain perfection on other planes without having immunity in the body. We have not sought perfection for our own separate sake, but as part of a general change creating a possibility of perfection for others. That could not have been done without our accepting and facing the difficulties of the realisation and transformation and overcoming them for ourselves. It has been done to a sufficient degree on the other planes – but not yet on the most material part of the physical plane. Till it is done, the fight there continues and, though there may be and is a force of Yogic action and defence, there cannot be immunity. The Mother’s difficulties are not her own; she bears the difficulties of others also and those that come with the general action and working for transformation. If it had been otherwise, it would be a very different matter.
September 3, 1936
It is a Force that comes and pushes to work and is as legitimately a part of the spiritual life as others. It is a special Energy that takes hold of the worker in the being and fulfils itself through him. To work with a full energy like this in one is quite salutary. The only thing is not to overdo it – that is to avoid any exhaustion or recoil to a physical inertia.
As for the dedication make the saṅkalpa [resolution] always of offering it, remember and pray when you can (I mean in connection with the work). This is to fix a certain attitude. Afterwards, the Force can take advantage of this key to open the deeper dedication within.
September 4, 1936
Same. Quite tip-top – working too as usual. Trying to dedicate and remember of course. Today somehow feeling a little off-colour. Sotuda’s letter too is a little touching. Poor fellow! However, he has taken the right step so far as he himself is concerned. The rest is at the knees of yourself and Mother. Please let me know what to answer him. I had thought however that his income would be larger than Rs. 125 a month. However – and what about his sons? You have not even seen them. So?
The other letter is from Vidya. See if you can find a little time to reply to her. I wish she would not always so worry about her children’s health and pray for better things from you. But maybe it will come later – if it hasn’t already come. I enclose a dedicatory poem on my father to the last part of my music book. See.
Practically finished my music composing today. Thinking of lolling for a day or two after this long bout of strenuous work – though I fear then I won’t come off with flying colours.
Still the dovelike Dilip.
P.S. Sotuda’s coming (if he is accepted as a permanent) would serve as a shock to the bourgeoisie of Calcutta – that will be a delightful thing – as Sotuda was very popular, etc. what?
I will make time for the answer to Vidya’s letter in these two or three days. I am glad to know that the girl has recovered, but the boy seems to have [been] more deeply touched – however, we will try again; it is the heart I suppose that creates the difficulty.
As for Sotuda the Mother proposes to put two rooms of the Windows upstairs at his disposition, one for him, one for the two children. I hope he will quickly recover from the shock of the sudden going of his wife.
Must recover the colour that has gone off – let’s expect that the two days lolling will do it – into flying colours in spite of your diffidence, [incomplete]
September 5, 1936
I am so glad indeed. Trust Sotuda will be faithful to you for this grace and offer his all for your service and Mother’s. He rings true. And an auditor to boot. I am glad also you have given him a room in Windows upstairs, for he has lived in great comfort, even luxury, all his life – his Ballygunj house (he got built himself) is beautiful they all say. Besides he is a little pravīn [aged] and his sons will stand him in good stead as he will need some looking after I feel. But all will be well I know – since the Windows room is airy and tight is there in plenty. I have written to him today. Also to Vidya that you will answer her. I have given her a little (just a hint) advice not to pray for her children’s health alone. I hope your force will change her too as it changed Sotuda. Do write to her. She is really very good it seems.
I am all right again. Last night I had a cup of cocoa with Amiya and talked about Sotuda mostly whom I dreamed. Of late I have been thinking mostly of his calamity. But it is good in that he has got his grace through it in a sense. All are glad he is coming and I am so glad (mischievously) that the Calcuttian bourgeoisie will be mightily shocked and many will turn aghast at Pondicherrian havoc among the self-complacent gentlefolk whose only dream is to live the life of gay senses, what? Truly, Sotuda’s coming here will cause some stir – for the ripples of the shock will well travel rather widely to distant shores beyond Bengal too, I think – Radhakumud, Radhakamal, Dhurjati, Somnath, Suniti Chatterji – and heaps of others will feel a gnawing malaise at this satyendrian vairagya, I am sure.
I have recaptured the colour thanks to your grace as the “doveyness” has been disturbed by no fresh wrong impulse or movement. The dreams too have not been bad either. Am doing a little japa too. Read a lot of poetry as well. And worked also. Will resume work tonight. Now to japa and meditation of you and Mother. Feel very grateful for your grace to poor Sotuda. How infinitely grateful he will be to you?
Glad to know the colour is back – hope it will remain steadily blooming.
Sotuda is a man in whom one can place reliance – his heart is good and his mind straight and steady.
From what you say we ought to have in the papers when he comes headlines like “A violent shock in Calcutta! Ballygunj commotion! Disappearance of a solid citizen into the Supramental Void! Widespread Consternation! Elegiac meeting to be held at the earliest opportunity – Dr. Radhakumud Mukherji will preside.” But Indian journalism does not know how to make the most of a sensation, we are slow and backward people.
September 6, 1936
Most rollicking! I got your comments typed and all laughed above the mental. Yes Dr. Radhakumud will preside with a glad sadness. C’est devenu son métier [It has become his profession] – que voulez-vous?
As for me I am in the vortex of great energy – (no wrong impulse being there, I suppose, what?) and am working like a – what, shall we say a volcano of penmanship. After, e.g., a strenuous day last evening I sat down to write a long essay on music at the request of the voluminous Puja special of Anandabazar and wrote from 8 p.m. till ‘12.30 a.m. at one sitting and finished. Went to bed at 1 a.m. and got up at 4 to do japa. Qu’en dites-vous?
Umph! Such abbreviated sleep is contrary to Yogic discipline. The rule for sleep is the same as for food, not too much, not too little, but proper! However, so long as you don’t get discoloured.
Have had a short nap today. Colour is there alright.
Only tell me why this inordinate energy? Is it the result of your force as I darkly suspect? If not, why not? Or rather how comes it? And how to tackle it? Of course I am trying all the time to offer, etc. Help me please to that end.
I suppose it is the result of the Force. I have noticed it takes that form often even when I do not exactly intend to put it for that purpose. No harm though.
Have dreamed again of Sotuda. The accident somehow affected me a little I fear. But the musings are on the wane thereanent.
Do I understand rightly in taking you wanted to send regular force? If so, then do I infer rightly that this Force is at the root of this sudden bout of tireless energy? If not whence and wherefore comes it with such gush? And then tell me if I am not vitiating it by too much writing. I take a rasa even in dry work now! Is that right?
Well. No more to write – or rather no more use in taking your time for work I can till doomsday with none becoming on earth a bit the wiser for my lucubrations, what?
No, unfortunately. After you have spat all your wisdom on them, the human race remains as stupid as when they hanged by their tails to trees – only m a different way.
Au revoir, guru. Really I am glad for Sotuda from every point of view. His coming will be a dire blow to the heart of Dame Self-complacency. A veritable havoc it is. You know how all are against Pondicherry, strange? Sotuda was telling me constantly how none liked his coming here not even his wife. Tell me apropos, is that a reason why she died so suddenly?
Obviously, but it is rather a drastic way of removing a difficulty. But Fate has her own notions about things.
Also Vidya was telling me how at her place all said to her father-in-law, “Let her go anywhere except Pondicherry, never allow her to visit Pondicherry.” How strange! Tagore wrote to Sahana lately that the very name of Pondicherry has become a nightmare with many in Bengal. Qu’en dites-vous?
Why on earth a nightmare? Do they think they will themselves be drawn willy-nilly into this awful whirlpool? Or is it a philanthropic fear for others? However it proves that Pondicherry (of course not the Ashram, not the Dupleix statue, and the Catholic Museum) has become a thing alive and a power, for it [is] only a living Power that can create such fear and opposition. I suppose it is a fear of the Unknown + a fear of the disturbance of their safe comfortable bourgeois life. As if anything were safe now in the world today. But it is a persistent phenomenon of human nature to fear anything out of the ordinary – absurd, then, but perhaps not strange.
September 7, 1936
Today I did a great deal of book-proofs and then a long article on Bengali free verse: the editor of Navashakti, Premendra Mitra77 had been requesting me for a long time. He has just written saying he will review Suryamukhi adding that “khūb bhālo legechhe ekathā eman asankoche balbār sujog bara beshi pāi nā” [Seldom do I get an opportunity to say without any hesitation that I like it very much]. He is looked upon by many as the greatest of modern poets – others say Buddhadev is the greatest: the number of Premandites almost equal the Buddhadevites. So – a glad news, what? As Premendra had never yet praised my poetry.
Very good indeed. Nous progressâmes [We have progressed],
Buddhadev however is still silent. I fear he is down on me still – but this is only my guess – the reports may be wrong – there is no means of verification.
Sotuda writes to ask if you had known about the impending calamity. Did you? A little disconsolate still.
Well, something within Mother seems to have known, but she refused to allow the formulation in her mind. In these things there is a play of different possibilities and one must allow a chance for the best possibility to happen; for Karma or Destiny is not so absolute as people think, except for a small number of things.
I went to the pier for a short walk. The Queen Mother of Dewas78 was there and pranamed me – almost sent her little son to me. I had to speak to her. She was very nice and cordial. I had never seen her before her Princesses told me. They were very vivacious. Said; they were six brothers and sisters. Talked as we were coming back just for a few minutes. Said they didn’t care for Pondicherry. Well. I felt very easy today however: I suppose because I was inoculated by another Princess. But they were very friendly all the same and spoke beautiful Hindi. They were Marathi they said however. The Queen Mother has a gentle face but does not look a mother of six children: she looks rather as the eldest sister. So that is that.
Now adieu, I have to finish this article quick to do meditation. A little coffee has revived me. I was a little tired at last this evening after long hours of work. Trying to dedicate but still getting absorbed in work. Help me there please. Or do I worry too much hereanent? But then without offering the work becomes undedicated, does it not? And such work can’t help the sadhana, can it? Hein?
Absorption in work is inevitable. It is enough to offer it when beginning and ending and to encourage the attitude to grow= for You and by You.
Still dovelike as ever. No wrong impulses even. I am so glad of this. I was so fed up with constant struggle with my impulses.
A little confidential request. Arjava has staked out a claim for a particular place at evening meditation, a kind of niche, I believe. Nobody is supposed to do that, as there are no fixed places at this meditation. But he pleads that it is the only place in which he can sometimes get a good meditation – all others are a howling wilderness of restlessness and non-meditation. He seems to have made his claim good, only sometimes when he is not there and in occupation, you occupy the place. He is as nervous as Hell and the loss of his niche even for a day throws him into despair. We told him that there was no fixed places for anyone and each must take his chance. But he laments, especially today after returning from his illness, he is in the abyss. De profundis clamavit [Out of the depths he cried out]. So I take refuge from his [crises] with you. I suppose you are not particular about this or any place, and don’t mind leaving the niche to the monk? It will be a great relief for me. Only keep it dark – mum’s the word.
September 10, 1936
A good day with nothing thrilling to report – no struggle with right attitude problem, etc. Finished an article. Then since 5 got engrossed in Jawaharlal’s autobiography – neglecting my proofs – bad that, but I have had my fill of proofs. Now for a little pleasant reading. And extremely pleasant – for I know Jawaharlal and still greatly admire him. I didn’t even go out for a walk. Couldn’t in fact. Wonder if I should now – for a constitutional.
An exercise in constitution also is always good.
One thing: why did Swasti come to grief? For coming to Mother? His not coming for darshan even made his spirituality suspect in my eyes, anyhow. I can’t think it right not to see Mother or you no matter why. Am I right or wrong? O Guru, please help – put me right if I am wrong. I do feel there was some kink somewhere in Swasti – and his name was a misfit – he filled me long with strange malaise anyhow.
Swasti went wrong at a rather early stage – he was one of those whom the Mother accepted with great reluctance, but for a time he went very well. Then, the “kink” she had seen in him turned up and for a long time he has been out of the running or rather running the wrong way. The revival of an old mental ailment he had in Indo-China was the result and, as there is [no cure] here he has to go to France to recover. He talks of returning, but –
As for the name, it was just given as an indication of what he must become, not what he was but the opposite of that. It was the same with Prasanta79 O, Rene’s brother.
September 12, 1936
(Somnath Maitra was on a voyage. On 27 August he wrote to Dilip from S.S. Maloja. He said that he had taken Suryamukhi with him and sitting on the ship’s deck he is letting its beauty flow easily in him... and so on. To which Sri Aurobindo commented:)
Very good indeed. If people get into the bhava [feeling] of your poetry they can’t but appreciate.
September 13, 1936
I have just finished Jawaharlal’s autobiography. The result: I can’t meditate, I couldn’t in fact for the past week. I caught myself today praying for him – that he may have peace. Will you not send him a little of that commodity as you did to so many of my friends without even their suspecting it? Also tell me, shall I pray that he may have a little peace, yogic peace, I mean? Or will that make confusion worse confounded as he is not likely to take kindly to Yoga, for that matter to Harmony and peace either with this strange western conception of selfishness underlying it all? Still flow can I help praying for him when I have seen the concrete efficacy of prayer for so many others? O Guru, how, how I wish he did Yoga for a year at least if only to realise the Divine Harmony within him even in this age when times are so grievously “out of joint”? How I wish he too saw as you did and Sri Ramakrishna and so many others did that one gave to the world of one’s very best if one realised the Divine concretely within one? – Specially as I feel he would make rapid strides in Yoga with his rare sincerity and loyalty to Truth. But alas, he would perhaps resent even this wish on my part as a selfish one, as did Subhash who would not even come here once before giving his rational verdict on us, poor blind “faithists”! Still I almost felt like asking him to come and stay here in my peaceful flat overlooking the calm sea. But he will perhaps think, like Subhash, that I want to convert him. It takes the wind out of my enthusiasm’s sail. I don’t care to invite a misunderstanding once more. The burnt child in Dilip, you know, can’t help dreading the indignant flame of activism!
P.S. I send you some citations which moved me deeply notably his chapters “Desolation” and “Epilogue”.
I have not read Jawaharlal’s book and know nothing of his life except what is public; now of course I have no time for reading. But he bears on himself the stamp of a very fine character, a nature of the highest sattwic kind, full of rectitude and a high sense of honour: a man of the finest Brahman type with what is best in European education added – that is the impression he gives. I may say that Mother was struck by his photograph when she first saw it in the papers singling it out from the mass of ordinary eminent people.
But peace? Peace is never easy to get in the life of the world and never constant, unless one lives deep within and bears the external activities as only a surface front of being. And the work he has to do is the least peaceful of all. If Buddha had to lead the Indian National Congress, well! For the spiritual life there is perhaps no immediate possibility: his mind stands in between, for it has seized strongly the Socialist dream of social perfection by outward change as the thing to be striven for and has made that into a sort of religion. The best possible on earth has been made by his mind its credo: the something beyond he does not believe in, the something more here would seem to him a dream without basis, I suppose. But pray for him, of course, he is a man with a strong psychic element and in this life or another that must go beyond the mind to find its source.
September 15, 1936
Right. But at least half-a-dozen lines to Sotuda – tomorrow? What? I put off replying to him today as he stresses your writing to him. So also Vidya in a short note today – imploring me to ask you to write to her particularly as she is unwell she adds.
Am making all efforts – though there is an accumulation of such letters pressing for disposal tonight. Still with luck!
(Later bulletin 6 a.m., 15th September) Ah bah! No luck. One overdue undelayable letter took all the spare time. [P?] today!
l am all right. Have read four hundred fifty pages by this evening of Jawaharlal. Too engrossing. So I conclude here. Movements all spotless – that goes without saying grace a vous et Mere [thanks to you and Mother] whose sweetness I felt especially today – her talk too. How beautifully she talks – truly. What a grace she has! Yet you champion yogic uncouthness, ungainliness and unmannerliness among sadhakas!
What the deuce! Where? Which? Can’t locate this championship.
Aghast I would be had not Mother countered your position. How would you act now and manoeuvre for a position for the uncouth ones thus pitted against her charming personal example? Forgive a little innocent amusement on the part of an elfin disciple, won’t you?
For he has after all cornered you, what?
I am thinking of starting japa, etc. but this book is preventing. Well in a day or two.
P.S. Jokes apart guru, I have truly been especially struck by a peculiarly sweet note in Mother’s talk and ways. She has no doubt been always so – but today I was more conscious of it – possibly because she talked at some length after a long time.
September 15, 1936
Finished the fourth article and posted all at 4 – worked till then. Then read Jawaharlal and just penned a letter to Vidya telling her you would write to her soon, that you are too busy, etc., when a messenger materialised from Dewas Maharaja and said that before I sing to Highness he would be delighted if I would have a cup of tea. Tonight? He asked. Right ho – I said. I hope he will give me good cakes. The Maharani whom I met for a few minutes last evening on the pier told me in great joy she would tell Maharaja and arrange it and asked me to convey to “Sri Aurobindoji and Mother our gratitude for their gracious permission” – these people know.
Well as I write, the messenger reappeared and said, “His Highness requests you to take some food at 8.30 p.m. – of course vegetarian.” Gladder still – I am – for which gladness I sadly ask your forgiveness for my intrinsic badness (what about the assonance though? – not so bad as Dilipian gastronomy) but I can’t help a little gladly in sadness of penitence even. Que faire? [What to do?]
I hope it did not turn out like my first taste of Mahratta cookery – when for some reason my dinner was non est and somebody sent to my neighbour a Mahratta professor for food. I took one mouthful and only one. O God! Sudden fire in the mouth could not have been more surprising. Enough to burn down the whole of London in one wild agonising swoop of flame!
P.S. Please remember Sotuda is expectant – what? Also Vidya – but no more.
Jay, jay, jay!!! [Victory, victory, victory!!!] I have done it – both letters written; done they are this time. I am sending direct as you have already written yours to Sotu. He had thought of putting his children in a school over there as he writes in one of his letters – we have endorsed that. I am sending Vidya’s to you in a closed envelope, as I have put her address into depths from which it would take time to fish out.
September 19, 1936
Look here, great Guru! Am I not impressed? Almost. Puranmal sees “Narad”, fancy that, who says to him: “I am materialising here as the Satyayuga is going to dawn (poindre) here in Pondi!” What!! What!!! Does then the Supramental mean business after all!!!! Who ever really thought that!!!!! Forgive the wealth of (!)s the amazement is crescendo, that is why. A musician I am “divinely singing”, you see?
The supramental musician on the way to materialise? Be careful! He might want to materialise in you. Beware!
September 19, 1936
I send you Jawaharlal’s Autobiography. There are two fine photographs here of j. And one of the beautiful and noble Kamala, delicate and frail and truly “Virginal” as Jawaharlal puts it. But I want to have your opinion on his reading of the Hindu religion. I agree, however, with the bulk of his condemnation about religion. But it seems to me he is a little hazy in this idea about religion and so expects from it just what is beyond its portée, qu’en ditesvous? But of course I don’t wonder. For religion is a most mysterious term and is like our famous Kalpataru of Indra’s garden which promises to its worshippers any fruit they covet, what?
Time lacks extremely for reading the book, it is better to let) Nirod have it. The photographs are good, but this Gandhi cap hides the forehead and prevents the whole man from looking out of the face. Such of it as can be seen expresses the will and intelligence more than the psychic; the latter was very evident in other photos of him that I have seen here and there.
I fear that to accede to your request for a page and a half on the mystic soul of India is physically impossible now and psychologically a little difficult. I have once more the full flood of correspondence, in spite of the rules of time which have proved an insufficient dam. Each night is a race to get things done in time which I generally lose and that means an increasing mass of arrears which have to be dealt with whenever I get one exceptional leisure. On Sunday a mass of outside letters waiting for disposal because I have no time on other days and not enough on Sunday either. In these circumstances to produce a page on such a subject would be a feat of acrobacy not easily performable.
As for the subject, well in the days of the Karmayogin or of the Defence of Indian Culture I could have served you freely. Now I feel as if I have said all I could say on these things – they have gone back into the far rear of my mind and to pull them out for expression is not easy. That is a second obstacle.
I do not take the same view of the Hindu religion as Jawaharlal. Religion is always imperfect because it is a mixture of man’s spirituality with his endeavours that come in trying to sublimate ignorantly his lower nature. Hindu religion appears to me as a cathedral-temple, half in ruins, noble in the mass, often fantastic in detail, but always fantastic with a significance – crumbling and badly outworn in many places, but a cathedral-temple in which service is still done to the Unseen and its real presence can be felt by those who enter with the right spirit. The outer social structure which it built for its approach is another matter.
September 26, 1936
I enclose Harm’s letter from Bombay in which he writes: “Our Abu Hussain this month at the Capitol was a tremendous success and I believe we can say without exaggeration that we were able to revolutionise Bombay audiences...” etc. etc. O Lord of Bombast, thou hast perched on poets’ tongue! Not only that, he actually philosophizes: “Life is a mirror which returns smile for smile, frown for frown.” Does it, indeed! Why then did Sri Krishna enjoin Arjun to “fight without attachment of fever?” (Yudhyasya bigatajwara) And what philosophy! Life is like a mirror returning what you give it? Does the fellow know not even the ABC of history? Did Socrates preach murder that he was judicially murdered? Did Christ preach force that he was crucified by force? What about long processions of martyrs who preached love and got back hate? Why what about Jawaharlal’s old mother beaten by lathi [stick]? Did she flourish a lathi? Surely Guru, good sayings, aglow with idealism and harmlessness and non-resistance and what not, should take some count at least of hard realities! I do believe poets have done a lot of harm to the world by their rainbow radiance which cannot stand a moment’s shadow! That is why I challenged in my poem “Kavi versus Rishi” the poet’s pathetic paranoia and self-adoration that he was the equal of Rishis and seers and prophets. For listen to Harm’s droll self-deluded fancy that “As for me, I am leading a life of great joy, peace, truth and work”. But I am thankful to him for one thing: I read yesterday some lying statements of his about you in a journal and in my anger thereat my depression vanished which I could not get rid of. Tell me how was that? for it is a concrete experience, I can aver. I am naturally reminded of the great Sri Ramkrishna’s dictum: “The ripus (passions) too can help in the spiritual life provided you know the secret of the game: for instance, anger may help you if you turn it against all that stand in the way of the Divine, against all who are hostile to the Divine.” Look here, I was very angry yesterday with Harm’s treachery and disloyalty to you and instantly I felt myself lifted out of my amorphous condition. Qu’en dites-vous?
One can’t put too much faith in Harm’s “truth and peace” – he used always to write like that: “I am in a splendid condition – soaring!” etc. when we knew that he was very much down in the opposite direction. Exultation at the success of his Abu Hussain perhaps? But is it such a success as he avers? One hardly knows when his statements are or have really some kind of justification behind them.
It is not at all unnatural that the anger brought back peace and harmony: for this anger was a form of loyalty to the Divine and that put you into touch with your psychic consciousness again. Sri Ramkrishna was quite right about anger. The hostile powers are proof against gentleness and sweetness and non-resistance and soul-force, but a current of righteous anger often sends them flying.
As for Harm’s philosophy it is phrases and nothing else: what he means is, I suppose, that when one is successful one can be very jolly, which is not philosophy but commonplace, only he turns it upside down to make it look wise. Or perhaps he means that if you smile at Mussolini and Hitler they will spare you castor-oil and cudgel: but even that is not sure, they will want to know what the smile means first – flattery or satire.
O yes Guru, I follow all that. And yet the little you write about the Hindu religion is illuminating.
I append a letter from the savant Professor Buddhadev Bhattacharya. He is quite right about yati: in Bengali we use the word yati as the pause tacit or otherwise of the foot – the foot-principle did not exist in sanskrita aksharvrtta [system of versification in which the number of letters and not the sounds in a line is taken into account] but in later jātichhanda [a class of metres] e.g. Jaydev’s:
lalita la/ bangala/ tā pan/ shīlana komala/ malaya sa/ mire
It is the exact counterpart of any English eight-foot line,
I paused/beside/the ca/bin door/and saw/the King/of Kings/ at play88
(I am talking here not of stresses but of divisions and pauses) – so the word yati [pause] should be replaced by birati [full stop] or chhed [break] perhaps. But yati in Bengali is accepted already – so I adopted it as a new word that is not current creates new difficulties. In this sense sanskrita aka tot89
yamu/ nā+ a/ matat+ Chyuta/ kelika/ lā+ [The sportive art of Achyuta on the banks of Yamuna]
has a foot division in that there are stresses on every letter marked with +. I was talking of principles and laws of rhythm which the ear is guided by, not of conventions by which they are explained. I feel of yore they explained many things in a roundabout way – in Bengali metres too. But I am spinning out, forgive. I tell you this to stress that this Professor is a savant and has a keen acumen and as such I value his criticism. I will perhaps answer it in an article. It is interesting for me to trace the modern ways of explaining metres and contrasting these with the obsolescent ways of old. Anyhow his praise of Suryamukhi qua poetry – please note. I am very glad of it.
Yes, it is very welcome. But what a change in India. Once religious or spiritual poetry held the first place (Tukaram, Mirabai, Tulsidas, Surdas, the Tamil Alvars and Shaiva poets and a number of others)90 and now spiritual poetry is not poetry, altogether achal [static]! But luckily things are sachal [mobile] and this movability may bring back an older and sounder feeling.
P.S. This evening at 8.30 – the Dewas soiree. Please send me force as I can’t now wriggle out of it – nor want to in fact. Very curious to hear the Maharani. I will be casual to them of course after tonight. I will, that is, give up going to the Pier. That is easily done. Well.
September 22, 1936
It is not possible for me to tell you to go; for apart from anything else I do not believe in the impossibility the idea of which always troubles you. I believe in the ultimate action of the Power in you even though it be slow in its long preparatory action, that it will yet be sure, provided you stick to the Path in spite of storm and suffering – things which, as you truly say, will be found everywhere; for they can be surmounted only when one surmounts their cause. I cannot therefore advise you to cut short the thread of the endeavour.
I am therefore looking for you to overcome this dryness and despondency and get back to a firmer poise. Your japa had recently become for a time free from dryness and unpleasant reaction and was having a true effect on the consciousness. There is no reason why that should not be recovered and grow. This excess of vairagya comes always with these crises, but it is bound to be outgrown and change into a spiritual detachment in which there can be the free play of the energies offered for the use of the Divine.
September 23, 1936
It is the impulse to fly and to shun the necessity of your spiritual change, that you must reject and not life. You are not a burden to me and it is only the death of the lower nature that I can work to give you; the death of the body is no solution for anything.
I do hope you will exert your will and get rid of these reactions which cause so much unnecessary suffering. Because of a slight stumble to get into this despair cannot be right. All these days before the affair with Anilkumar you were treating these things quite in the right spirit and getting rid of them easily. Take that firm and strong attitude again and throw away this attack from you.
September 24, 1936
Yes, Mother was trying to help you in the Pranam, that was why she kept you longer than usual.
Well, perhaps, the radiant Dilip is the genuine permanent Person and looks out at people through the body even when the vital is in a ferment. Now if only that happy and radiant person had come up and accepted my insistence on the sunlit path instead of allowing a non-transferable vote to be given for Tapasya, perhaps you would not have found my Yoga so terrible. For the curious thing is that my Yoga does not approve of sorrow and suffering or of taking stumbles and difficulties too seriously, as the Tapaswins do, or of viraha [separation from the Beloved] pangs as the Vaishnavas do, or of vairagya as the Mayavadis do, yet the old ideas and forces bring these things into the Ashram through the minds of the sadhaks and there they are. Well, well!
Raihana’s letter is very welcome. But she does not seem to speak of coming for darshan in the near future. Naturally when she does, she will be welcome. It was interesting to know of her experience of our presence when she was discussing with Dayabhai. Your poetic appeal to Raihana has quite a seventeenth-century ring about it.
Sense of humour? It is the salt of existence. Without it the world would have got utterly out of balance – it is unbalanced enough already – and rushed to blazes long ago. I don’t know how your Trailanga Swami managed to float on the Ganges without a sense of humour to sustain him – he must have had a terrible force of Tapasya. But perhaps it was because he got terribly tired of the un-smiling seriousness he had to keep up (was it a sort of penance?) that he finally floated off and disappeared forever.
September 27, 1936
I forgot to ask you in my last letter about Vidya. She wrote last week, you may remember, that I am to write her what you and Mother decide upon as the reply to her last letter she enclosed in my envelope for you. Shall I ask Mother tomorrow about it? Or would you prefer to write here below what I am to communicate to her. I understand she now does not mind my knowing what she has asked – so I gather I may as well ask you as to what to do about it?
I think I had better write it and you can communicate to her. It was an experience in a conscious dream in which she was becoming as if unconscious and her body was benumbed and then felt my hand on her forehead, the weight felt not only there but as if something was crushing her whole body, particularly a distinct pressure on the third or fourth rib on the right side. The numbness was still there when she opened her eyes. She thinks it was my hand because of the weight, the strength of it. She wants to know also about our presence how it comes, whether we are conscious of the call or it is only our Force that is working which is everywhere without the necessity of our personal knowledge. This is the answer,
“As to the dream, it was not a dream but an experience of the inner being in a conscious dream state, svapna samādhi. The numbness and the feeling of being about to lose consciousness are always due to the pressure or descent of a Force to which the body is not accustomed but feels strongly. Here it was not the physical body that was being directly pressed, but the subtle body, the śarīra sūkṣma in which the inner being more intimately dwells and in which it goes out in sleep or trance or in the moment of death. But the physical body in these vivid experiences feels as if it were itself that was having the experience; the numbness was the effect on it of the pressure. The pressure on the whole body would mean a pressure on the whole inner consciousness perhaps for some modification or change which would make it more ready for knowledge or experience; the third or fourth rib would indicate a region which belongs to the vital nature, the domain of the life-force, some pressure for a change there.
The strength of the hand, the weight would not necessarily indicate that it was mine – for it was an experience not of the physical hand or in the physical body, but in the subtle realms of the being and there the Mother’s touch and pressure might well be stronger and heavier than mine. The Mother does not remember the date, but one night about that period she was thinking strongly about her and putting a pressure for the removal of some obstacle to a spiritual opening. It is possible that this was what produced the experience. If it were myself, it must have been at a time when I was concentrating and sending the force to different people, but I remember nothing precise. I have often thought other of course and sent a Force to help her.
It is not necessary for us always to be physically conscious of the action, for it is often carried out when the mind is occupied with outward things or when we sleep. The Mother’s sleep is not sleep but an inner consciousness, in which she is in communication with people or working everywhere. At the time she is aware, but she does not carry all that always into her waking consciousness or in her memory. A call would come in the occupied waking mind as the thought of the person coming – in a more free or a concentrated state as a communication from the person in question; in a concentration or in sleep or trance she would see the person coming and speaking to her or herself going there. Besides that wherever the Force is working, the Presence is there.”
September 28, 1936
You see Charu Dutt91. LC.S. wrote a review of Jawaharla’s Autobiography in the Viswabharati Review last month. I used to be very friendly with his extremely sweet daughter – died of childbirth, poor girl – so I sent him your remarks on Jawaharlal telling him “strictly private”. He has a great reverence for you – he wrote in Parichay. Here is his reply. Note his last line. He is a lovely prose writer in Bengali – a stylist par excellence – a friend of Tagore’s. Note also his remarks with love and emotion on you. Did you know him well of yore? Political?
Charu Dutt? Yes, saw very little of him, for physically our way lay far apart, but that little was very intimate, one of the best of men whom I used to appreciate most and felt as if they had been my friends and comrades and fellow-warriors in the battle of the ages and would be so for ages more. But curiously enough my physical contact with men of his type – there were two or three others – was always brief. Because I had something else to do this time, I suppose.
(Let us recall that Dilipda was well-acquainted with Jawaharlal Nehru from their college days in England. Halfway through, bowled over byJawaharla’s Autobiography, he wrote a letter to Sri Aurobindo. Here is Sri Aurobindo’s reply.)
I have, of late, been engrossed in Jawaharla’s beautiful Autobiography. It is a moving book, truly Guru!
... There is always the personal and the impersonal side of the Divine and the Truth and it is a mistake to think the impersonal alone true or important – for that leads to a void incompleteness in part of the being while only one side is given satisfaction. Impersonality belongs to the intellectual mind and the static self, personality to the soul and heart and dynamic being. Those who disregard the personal Divine ignore something which is profound and essential.
In Jawaharla’s case there exists a conflict between his ideas of the Truth and his heart in its purer impulses. But in followingthe heart one follows something that is at least as precious asthe mind’s loyalty to its own conceptions of what the Truthmay be.
September 29, 1936
I can’t say that I have studied or even read Bengali gadya chhanda [free verse] – I am unable to pronounce. In fact what is gadya chhanda? Is it the equivalent of European free verse? But there the essence of the thing is that you model each line freely as you like – regularity of any kind is out of court there. Is it Nishikanta’s aim to create a kind of rhymed prose metre? On what principle? He seems to want a movement which will give more volume, strength and sonority that Bengali verse can succeed in creating but is yet poetry, not prose arranged in lines such as most free verse seems to me to be or at the best poetic prose cut into lines of different lengths. All things can be tried – the test is success – true poetic excellence. Nishikanta has sent me some of his gadya chhanda before which seemed to me to have much flow and energy, but there is something hanging on to it which weighs, almost drags – is it the ghost of prose? But as I say, I am no judge.
September 1936 (?)
... I received a letter from Subho Tagore’s intimate friend M. B. who writes that Subho Tagore and Harm are starting a campaign of vilification against the Ashram and you and Mother.... Why not use your Rudra power Guru, and let us verify and enjoy this noble vision of a yogic auto-da-fe?...
The pathetic last conversation between Harin and Subho is truly amusing. But I fear there is no chance of the auto-dafe. I have dropped using the Rudra power – its effects used to be too catastrophic and now from a long disuse the inclination to use it has become rusty. Not that I am a convert to Satyagraha and Ahimsa – but Himsa too has its inconvenience. So the fires sleep.
October 5, 1936
Some delightful news as Mother will tell you:
(1) Sri Ramakrishna and Vivekananda and Co. materialised, eh?
Mother will have told you.
Very good indeed – you have the power of evocation. It started with Mother hearing the music with Ramakrishna’s consciousness – a new ear and complete understanding of the music-sounds – then the trance.
(2) My first honorarium, I offer in delight, for poems and English poems at that. See the wonder of your tireless corrections, what?
(3) Jawaharlal writes – please read it out to Mother. He maybe here about the 17th this month. Suppose he is here for a day or two: what do you think of my asking him to spend the day (or two) at my flat. I would love to have him. My point you will easily see. He is a man grateful by temperament. If he is our guest here he will surely appreciate it – forgive my “ulteriocity” but I have been much deceived by so many you see. And then one can talk at leisure if one has him near thus. Of course I will manage it with tact and no politics. What I want is that he should pray for an interview with Mother. You can count on my sense of Mother’s dignity and yours: I can’t let him fancy we want it. But I truly want him to change a little if there is a way, and in his case you may perhaps stretch a point and allow me to ask him to spend the night at my house ITresor]. Of course all this is provisional on his time and engagements: he is out on a whirlwind election tour, as you know. Since he is impressed with your letter – I have some hope for him, comprenez-vous? And your force will do the chief thing, of course. Please weigh the pros and cons and let me have your verdict. Do read out his letter to Mother. Of course I will treat the whole thing as strictly confidential and act as a faithful servant of yours – nothing more – for surely you know I would wish anybody to bow to you and Mother and I want also Jawaharlal to have your grace – there is no “ulteriocity” here at least. See?
I am afraid what you propose is impossible. Jawaharlal is coming on a political mission and as president of the Congress, while we have to steer clear not only of politics but of the shadow of politics. If he put up in a house of the Ashram, we would be in for it! A flaming report from the British Consul to Delhi to be forwarded to London and from London to Paris. Just now we have to be specially careful, as the friendly Governor is going away – perhaps to return in March, perhaps not. If the Colonial Minister there questions him about us, he must be able to give a spotless report in our favour. The future also may possibly be turbulent and the wash of the turmoil may reach Pondicherry – we have to be on our guard from now onwards. So don’t make Jawaharlal pray for an interview – it is not possible. Let us be patient and let things develop. If Jawaharlal is to be at all bid personally it is more likely to happen when he is less occupied with outer stress and turmoil.
I send you a song of Sahana in laghu guru and my translation in trochaic-iambic. Please correct. I have tried to be as close to the original as possible...
In the papers they say Jawaharlal will arrive here on 17th evening to address a meeting perhaps (?) there is no mention and that he will leave the same night for Madras which he leaves next day. But it is possible he would like to stay here overnight. If you allow I would like to ask him to spend the night in the Tresor. Please let me know what you think of this. He will arrive in Madras tomorrow I think and be there for three days: the psychological moment to ask him. Of course I will seem to do it on my own – as my friend – so that it will look I have invited him out of courtesy more or less as a friend to a friend.
But do send a world of force anyhow. If you took so much pains for Harin, surely you must take a little for a [? ] man.
That won’t go down with the British Consul and [other watchers]. He will [neigh] “Ah ha! Ah ha! Ahh! That’s their little game, is it.” Besides Nehru won’t come alone – he will have his retinue or his staff with him, I suppose. At least all Congress Presidents used to go about in that way in my time, Pondicherry besides is an unimportant place – they are not likely to let him tarry and dally here.
October 6, 1936
It seems to me that the safest would be for you to meet Jawaharlal outside. You can’t very well have him at your place on such an occasion – as he is likely to have people with him and they could hardly be excluded, but an invasion of the Ashram by Congress people would be as bad as [?]. So the best is if you seek him out instead of waiting for him to seek you out, as he might if you did not take the initiative.
As for the Dewas idea. Lord! It would be indeed killing two birds with one stone, but in a sense more than one. Dewas + a prominent member of the Ashram + the Socialist president of the Congress. A clear conspiracy, sir – aristocracy, middle class and proletariate (represented by a Communist intellectual) to overthrow the British empire under the cloak of music.
October 7, 1936
All right. It is better to know beforehand. And besides, I was thinking I wasn’t likely to be over-enthusiast about Jawaharial’s personality as I have found, repeatedly, to my cost that those whose interest in spiritual things is lukewarm quickly pall on me. I have always [?]. So unless Jawaharlal takes [up] Yoga, which is unlikely just now anyhow, I am not likely to get on famously with him.
God! And if he did it, what a horrible hullabaloo there would be all over India. Why his Socialist friends would come and throw bombs at the Tresor till it and you were demolished. So don’t be rash.
Well, well, such is life’s transient enthusiasms and maladjustments springing up from nowhere. Better of course would be a little adjustment with the Divine, But that cannot, I expect, be hoped for for a long time to come. Vairagya comes easily enough but anuraga [admiring love, devotion] is difficult, what? Last night, for instance, I tried to meditate from 9 p.m. but felt so drowsy that slept for ten hours, strange! For I sleep much less when I work hard – and usually I work hard enough you know. Night before last I worked till 1 a.m. in the morning.
I send you for final revision the last two translations; suggest some improvements. I have made some alterations you’ll find. So please read again and see if these read well.
They seem all right.
I will stop writing English verses now and turn more to singing plus reading Shakespeare to enter more into the spirit of the English tongue and its own native atmosphere of words and poetic lilt.
October 8, 1936
On that evening when I prayed for both Jawaharlal and the Princess, why did the latter have this vivid experience at that identical time (she writes from Bangalore) actually seeing me in meditation with Mother as I was and getting peace, etc., after which she was too eager to visit Pondi for a few days again, thanking me so profusely for so demonstrably helping her through my prayer; while Jawaharlal, I was all but sure, never felt it. Why, I asked, did some prayers act in this sort of vivid convincing way, while others were fruitful of no tangible results? Did it mean that Jawaharlal was not open while the Princess was? It was very curious though that that evening’s prayer of mine should have been so warm for both of them, how moved I was when I called to Sri Aurobindo and Mother’s yoga-shakti to give them light and guidance, though I knew full well that they would never know how it might work for their good, if it did work at all, that is.
But in the Princess’s case it bore tangible fruit, which was so refreshing, while in Jawaharlal’s case why didn’t it? – Well?
As for the Princess’s experience, it is quite natural, since you see from her own statement that she has always had a natural tendency to go beyond the physical into supraphysical experience. That is what she means by having imaginations. When one is living in the physical mind, the only way to escape from it is imagination (incidentally, that is why poetry and art, etc. have so strong a hold), but these imaginations are really shadows of supraphysical experience and once the barrier of the physical mind is broken or even swung a little open, there come the experiences themselves if the temperament is favourable. Hence visions, etc. – all [the manifestations] that are miscalled psychic phenomena. As for prayer, no hard and fast rule can be laid down. Some prayers are answered, all are not. An example? The eldest daughter of my maternal uncle, K.K. Mitra, Editor of Sanjivani, not by any means a romantic, occult, supraphysical or even imaginative person, was abandoned by the doctors after using every resource, all medicines stopped, as useless. The father said, “There is only God now, let us pray”. He did, and from that moment the girl began to recover, typhoid fever and all its symptoms fled, death also. I know any number of cases like that. Well you may ask, why should not then all prayers be answered? But why should they be? It is not a machinery: put a prayer in the slot and get your asking. Besides, considering all the contradictory things mankind is praying for at the same moment. God would be in a rather awkward hole if he had to grant all of them; it wouldn’t do. As for Jawaharlal, he has perhaps something in his temperament that might answer to the supraphysical, but by his intellect he has put it so much down that it is not likely to act in any overt manner.
It was a vital emotionalism trying to rise to the sattwic plane and perhaps hoping therefore to find in Jawaharlal’s sattwic nature a response, but with a consciousness behind that this also would not bring satisfaction and peace. Your difficulty is that the vital has not yet arrived at the secret of the self-existent Ananda of love, the Ananda of love’s own pure truth, the inner beauty of it for its own sake, the secret of the inner abiding ecstasy – it cannot yet believe that the thing exists. But it is travelling towards it and this feeling about Jawaharlal was probably a stage – a groping after a purer vital emotion on the way to the purest of all which is one with the Divine.
October 8, 1936
I could not read your letter at all well this morning – too difficult. I have given it to Nolini to type it for me.
But I searched in it in vain for your reply to Vidya’s question of (1) a house in the Ashram for a few days, (2) whether her husband could come for pranam, he is very eager to, (3) whether in case an Ashram house is unavailable any other house could be arranged for her. Please answer these questions. I suppose you forgot what?
Yes, had three nights work in one night yesterday – so naturally forgot many things.
I fear the house affair will be rather difficult. We have nothing suitable for them in the Ashram and could not meet anything like their standards of life – for it is the husband and whole family that are to come. “Windows” upstairs by the way is kept for Sotuda and Mahendranath. But even Windows! Outside? Can a suitable house be got in Pondicherry? It would need to be furnished, too.... I could not gather from her letter for how many days it would be wanted. In Pondicherry people generally will not give for less than a month’s rent, but for them I suppose that would be no difficulty. Inquiries can be made, but it may be hard to find such a house.
Of course the husband can come for Pranam – no difficulty there at least.
I am rather seedy this morning with a headache and the past two days trying to meditate has, I fear, brought back the old reaction: a beginning of depression. I am very much afraid I am in for another bout. So I pray to you: if I am down with despondency again please grant me the strength not to complain and bear it all manfully. I am sick of my eternal complaining and feel like flying as I lose all self-respect when I complain of sorrow and suffering which is the stuff of life. Let me be a man at least like Jawaharlal who complains not as Dilip when he suffers agonies. What have I become? But there it is starting in another disguise. Cry halt! O thou Fiend Despond. It is going about now-a-days that black forces are in a great glee and victoriously pouring and that it will be worse and worse, death, madness, etc. being their signs and many will have to fly who won’t die or go mad. I fear I am included in this category as I haven’t the least feeling of impending death or madness: I simply pooh-pooh these two devils; but flying? Well, yes – that’s a Devil who does grip me. So please grant me, if possible, some protection as I am beginning to feel it rather hopeless again.
Naturally if they nourish that inability it is the best way of inviting these forces and it is not surprising that they should be gleeful!
P.S. But no wrong movements in the least / thank God. The old Adam doesn’t trouble me...
That is good. Let us hope the despondency will follow the same road.
It is very good news that you got rid of the attack and it was the japa that helped you to do it. This and past experience also shows that if you can overcome the old association of the japa with sterility and sorrow, it can do its natural function of creating the right consciousness – for that is what the japa is intended to do. It first changes the vibrations of the consciousness, brings into it the right state and the right responses and then brings in the power or the presence of the Deity. Several times before, you wrote to me that by doing japa you got rid of the old impulse and recovered calm and the right turn of the consciousness and now it has helped you to get rid of the invasion of sorrow and despondency. Let us hope that this last will also soon lose its strength when the impulse and calm and serenity begin to establish itself in the whole nature.
I don’t know whether your proposal about the Trésor is practicable, I hardly think so. But I had no time to put it before the Mother this night. I will do so in the morning and let you know afterwards.
October 9, 1936
I did a lot of meditation this afternoon too. Felt quite all right and a little liking for japa, etc. I will now try to do it rather regularly. My trouble is I am very irregular.
Nalina came this evening. I made her a little coffee – poor thing. She wept naturally [because of her husband’s death yesterday]. I was rather moved, but with the right movement. I felt it was all right that we are here and the sufferings here are in some way connected with the Divine. To him all our allegiance and our sufferings too will be kritārtha (gratified) because our aim is the Highest. However feeble the clay the flower is in the bud and it will blossom. I felt like that as she wept and it was very beautiful. I wonder if I felt like that because it was another who suffered. Anyhow the movement was right I felt in spite of the cynicism of La Rochefoucauld,“We are always brave enough to stand the sufferings of others”,what?
I expect I will receive the reply to the other question tomorrow morning. I wrote to Vidya all about it and that it is now pending. I wrote I will write your final reply tomorrow.
What you said to Nalina is indeed very true, especially the phrase “However feeble the clay, the flower is in the bud and it will blossom”. That is true not only of individuals but of the world as a whole – Earth is a feeble clay for the spiritual planting, but what is sure is it buds eventually and the bud once there, will blossom.
La Rochefoucauld’s saying is true in general, but not quite true. There are some who can bear their own sufferings much better than they can bear the sufferings of others, while the Yogi can bear the whole world’s suffering in himself and yet not falter.
I spoke of your proposal to the Mother, but she does not regard it as practicable. Even for sadhaks thus to house a whole family in the Ashram is a difficult experiment and for visitors it has never been contemplated. Especially as the children are coming, she does not care to try it and even for the Yuvaraj and Yuvarani she does not think the arrangement is suitable. The only thing to do is to trust to luck and look for a house.
October 18, 1936
It is quite impossible for the descent of the Divine Grace to produce nausea and nervousness and a general disturbance like that – to think so is self-contradictory and foolish. Sometimes when one has pulled or strained, there is a headache or sensation as if of headache or if one pulls down too much force then there may be a giddiness, but one has only to remain quiet and that sets itself right by an assimilation of what has come down or otherwise. There is never any adverse or troublesome after-consequence. What seems to have happened is that Saurin’s finding the Force he had called down much more than what he was accustomed to, got nervous and went from nervousness into a panic – with the result of an upsetting of his stomach and circulation. If it is not that then it must have been an attack of illness which he associated with the descent, but the attack seems to be of a nervous character. Probably if he had had the experience of this increased descent sometime ago, he would not have been frightened and nothing would have happened, but the madness of Premshankar following on the death of Dahi Lakshmi92 has created a panic and at the least thing each person thinks he is going to go mad or die. As nothing upsets the organism more than fear, they create by this general atmosphere of panic danger, where there was none.
The idea that Premshankar was sent mad by a descent of Divine Force is an absurdity and an irrational superstition. People go mad because they have a physical predisposition due either to heredity (as in the case of Premshankar and T.) or to some kind of organic cause or secret illness, syphilis gone to the head or colon bacillis similarly misdirected or brain lesion or other material cause, the action being often brought up by some psychological factor (ambition turning to megalomania, hypochondria, melancholia, etc.) or on the contrary itself bringing these to the surface. All that happens in ordinary life and not only in Yoga; the same causes work here. The one thing is that there may be an invasion of an alien Force bringing about the upsetting, but it is not the divine Force, it is a vital Force that invades. The Divine Force cannot by its descent be the cause of madness any more than it can be of apoplexy or any other physical illness. If there is no predisposition, one may have all kinds of attacks from vital or other forces or from one’s own movements of the lower nature, as violent as possible, but there will be no madness.
October 20, 1936
(Padmaja, daughter of Sarojini Naidu, bore a tale to Dilipda, which troubled him no end, as it concerned two of his great friends: Subhash Bose and Jawaharlal Nehru.)
I would certainly not hang anybody on the testimony of Padmaja; she has too much of a delight in scandal-mongering of the worst kind; but I suppose she would not cite Jawaharlal as a witness if there were nothing in it. The question is: how much exaggeration? I am afraid it is not at all impossible that Subhash should say one thing to Jawaharlal and quite another to somebody else. Politics is like that, a dirty and corrupting business full of “policy”, “strategy”, “tactics”, “diplomacy”, in other words, lying, tricking, manœuvring of all kinds. A few escape the corruption but most don’t. It has after all always been a trade or art of Kautilya from the beginning, and to touch it and not be corrupted is far from easy. For it is a field in which people fix their eyes on the thing to be achieved and soon become careless about the character of the means, while ambition, ego and self-interest come Pouring in to aid the process. Human nature is prone enough to crookedness as it is, but here the ordinary restraints put upon it fail to be at all effective. That however is general – in a particular case one can’t pronounce without knowing the circumstances more at first hand or before having seen the documents cited.
I hope this attack prolonged by so many outward circum-¦ stances heaping themselves on each other, will now pass. As you have got over the pressure of the vital longing and of the will to doubt (though the doubt of yourself continues), I hope that you will get over all the emotional weakness of oversensitiveness (don’t misunderstand, I don’t mean getting over the emotions, for the emotional being is a necessity of the Yoga) and be able to present a quiet front to the speech and action and event that disturb it. The will to do so was growing and where the will affirms itself, success in the end must come. Then the fixing of the quiet mind will provide the ground that is needed for peace and silence. It is the sensitiveness and the self-doubt that come across now and bring the relapse into despondency. If these can go, the way will become clear.
October 20, 1936
But I had written to you that there was nothing wrong in your emotion and I had also taken care to write in the morning that emotion was necessary in the Yoga and it was only the excessive emotional sensitiveness which makes you enter into despondency over small things that had to be overcome. Why do you ignore what I myself have written and put more value on something said by Jyoti? Surely she does not know more than I do about my Yoga! As for sympathy you felt with Saurin this time it had nothing to do with present circumstances; it was when he came here without permission after his betrayal in the matter of Maya, without permission and without repentance that Mother had deprecated sympathy with him. You will yourself admit it was necessary if only out of loyalty to the Mother. The very basis of this Yoga is bhakti and if one kills one’s emotional being there can be no bhakti. So there can be no possibility of emotion being excluded from the Yoga. When you base yourself on loyalty and love to your Gurus, you take the right basis. But then you must not yield to this drive to abandon them and go away. It comes from a wrong quarter and you must repel it as inconsistent with your soul’s deepest intuition and feeling – the deepest and most luminous emotion of all.
October 21, 1936
I pointed out last evening that the idea that emotion was not allowed in this yoga, the idea you put forward for going away was not and could not be true. But there are certain other notions connected with it which come readily in your mind in periods of depression which are equally unfounded. I lay stress on these as these suggestions are used by the Force that wants to drive you away as its chief supports and reasons for departure. There is for instance the notion that tears of bhakti are disapproved of. It is strange that it should ever be supposed that tears of bhakti or true emotion are discouraged by us: the Mother has always spoken appreciatively of the feeling from which they come and never discouraged them. Tears of bhakti or tears of a high or pure emotion are not looked down upon by us. We have always spoken of psychic sorrow also as a thing to be respected, an emotion which is helpful and true in its place. Why then should it be supposed that emotion is discouraged and an empty heart is demanded of the spiritual seeker? Then there is the question of personal relations. But what personal relations of yours have been discouraged? Your friendships have always been respected: when you have called your friends here, they have been allowed and encouraged. I have not discouraged your friendship with Subhash or with Jawaharlal or with others. Your idea that I did not like your friendship with Vidya or the Yuvaraj is a sheer imagination for which I gave no cause. There are many friendships in the Ashram between sadhaks and some are supported, with the others there has been no interference. The only exception is when a certain vital relation comes in which is of a character inconsistent with the sadhana altogether. But there in your case you yourself have recognised the necessity of the elimination of this element and it is with your full consent that you have been helped and encouraged to eliminate but there has been no impatience or hard inhuman insistence. What then becomes of these grievances against the Yoga? They have no existence except in the suggestions by which the despondency tries to support itself in periods of depression.
What I have spoken of as desirable to eliminate, is the oversensitiveness of feeling which brings the sadness and depression, but it is because they come across and give you unnecessary trouble and suffering. You yourself have spoken of hyper-sensitiveness as a weakness you do not want and would like to get rid of. My wish to help you out of that cannot be regarded as an attack of the Yoga on your emotional being. On the other hand to affirm that the fact that you have it is a reason why you should not go on with the Yoga is not reasonable either. It is something that is no essential part of your vital being which has plenty of reserves of strength in it, but a small tendency of a small part which has unduly magnified itself owing to past struggles and comes up strongly in periods of depression. When you have even an ordinary quietude, you are master of it and with the affirmation of the will to be free of it, it can and will go.
P.S. I suppose the house for Vidya can be arranged and the furniture got from Madame [Olive].
October 22, 1936
“There is no love lost between me and the Mother,” said Saurin to me.
Well, you know Mother was not at all willing to have Saurin back here and would have sent him away – only very reluctantly gave him a chance. But she did not believe in his entire sincerity – in fact she saw in him something of hypocrisy which repelled her. He knew very well what he was saying when he spoke of the “no love lost”. He was no doubt in earnest about sadhana, but only in the sense of wanting to succeed and being prepared to make some sacrifices for that – but on a basis of ego. Yet he wrote that he was feeling Mother’s presence in him whenever he was having his experiences – a thing she did not find very credible. How could it be if there was “no love lost” etc.? The disturbance that came was not illness, Nirod could find no sign of illness anywhere. Fear of madness? He had it no doubt because of Premshankar’s affair. But in fact the fear was in the insincere part of his being, the fear of the descent. Because the Force was something beyond his personal control, because he felt that “something greater than himself” was there, it got terribly frightened. Mark that except this fear and nervous upheaval, there was nothing in the experience itself that was inconsistent with the experience being in true descent of Force, nothing that others have not had and had with joy and spiritual profit. But if he felt Mother’s presence so much, why this fear? It was the fear of this insincere part of him, partly in terror lest it might really be seized by the Divine Force and made to change, partly lest its insincerity and egoistic, ignorant self-sufficiency might have pulled down a wrong Force which would upset his balance altogether. All that was wrong within him was this fear and its results in the nerves and body. As soon as he knew he could go, this part at once threw its fear away and became exultant and all the trouble ceased. It seems to me that all that is clear. Of course the fear if it had remained might have produced anything, so strong it was; but up to the time of his going there was no sign of any real illness or disturbance of the brain – the body was sound, the brain clear. Of course, too, there was a part that regretted to have to go, but this was pushed behind by the part that gladly accepted the departure.
October 24, 1936
Here is Khagendranath’s93 letter. He has raised a question. He is under a misconception: he thinks I am for bhava only and belittle expression. Still as he is a Rabindrian, his wholehearted welcome of Suryamukhi is of value. I have written to him explaining that I don’t belittle expression at all and don’t mean any Rishi must be a Valmiki or a Vyas. Yet he is greatly attracted by the originality – please note, for which your inspiration is no doubt responsible. When I despair of yoga, I derive some consolation at least that in poetry and music something has been achieved which without yoga would have been impossible. Grant it to me that I may never claim the authorship of such achievement egoistically but only as a servant to whom it has pleased you to grant a little of your vibhuti [divine power] and Mother’s. I do mean it and am really not egotist about my poetry and music. I try always to discourage my vanity, as you know. Still it appears in some form or other, and causes me so much suffering... However.
It is these small movements that are so hard to get rid of because by their smallness they evade control and are terribly repetitive.
The Megaphone Co. has offered to record father’s drama Sajahan. I have asked Sachin [cousin] to wire to me what would be reasonable. Send a little of your force as money would be welcome now particularly, in these days of slump when books sell so little. By the way, in the Puja installment my publishers have not only not paid me any royalty but I owe them Rs. 327. As you know I was offering at Mother’s feet Rs.275 in all and now the houses are out Rs.150 + 135. (I was deducting taxes, etc. that is minus Rs. 40, which makes it Rs.245) I was counting on extra incomes like Gramophone films, etc. to be able to offer Rs.100 a month. So for the next six months I will be able to offer only Rs.50 a month. If in the next installment I receive something like Rs.500 (which I hope to) then I will be able to offer Mother again Rs.100 a month. I am sorry – but books sell badly now-a-days. Now at the Pujas Suryamukhi and Dola may sell a little decently, then the deficit will be made up. So just now the Gramophone royalty will be a real godsend. A little force won’t be amiss.
Very well. I will try to send the Force.
I do not know why your correspondent puts so much value on general understanding and acceptance – Rabindranath’s theory of the Visvamanava [universal man], I suppose. Really it is only the few that discern the true value of things in poetry and art and if the “general” run accept it is usually because acceptance is sooner or later imposed on them by the few. There may be exceptions of course of a wide spontaneous acceptance because something that is really good happens to suit a taste or a demand of the general mind of the moment. Poetic and artistic value, do not necessarily command mass understanding and acceptance.
I have been writing something on pleasure and sociability but could not finish it tonight – nor is the part I have written complete in itself so far as it goes. It is because I have tried to deal with the question in its fundamental aspect before coming to the point of how to deal with it in sadhana. I shall continue tomorrow.
As to Yogananda’s idea, it sounds to me very strange. All discord, disharmony, quarrelling must spoil the work which depends on harmony and cooperation and it must spoil the atmosphere by bringing in rajasic forces of the lower nature. How can the Mother’s force then favour these things. Let us suppose that personal relations have to be transcended – but, if so, is dislike and repulsion the proper and spiritual way to do it – they can only create a new and contrary relation. Personal relations could only be overcome by transcending them and passing into the sole relation with the Divine. But as a matter of fact Yogananda himself has disliked or quarrelled with many people, even with his closest friends here. Each time the Mother’s force has worked not to make the rift definitive but to mend it, to remake, to renew the good relation of friendships, to substitute better relations for antagonism and dislike. Then?
October 24, 1936
It is a little difficult for the wider spiritual outlook to answer your question in the way you want and every mental being wants, with a trenchant “Thou shalt” or “Thou shalt not”, especially when the “thou” is meant to cover “all”. For while there is an identity of essential aim, while there are general broad lines of endeavour, yet there is not in detail one common set of rules in inner things that can apply to all seekers. You ask: “Is such and such a thing harmful?” But what is harmful to one may be helpful to another; what is helpful at a certain stage may cease to be helpful at another; what is harmful under certain conditions is helpful under other conditions, what is done in a certain spirit may be disastrous, the same thing done in a quite different spirit would be innocuous or even beneficial. I asked the Mother [?] what she would say to your question about pleasures and social experiences (put as a general question) and she answered, “Impossible to say like that; it depends on the spirit in which it is done.” So there are so many things, the spirit, the circumstances, the person, the need and cast of the nature, the stage. That is why it is said so often that the Guru must deal with each disciple according to his separate nature and accordingly guide his sadhana; even if it is the same line of sadhana for all, yet at every point for each it differs. That also is the reason why we say the Divine’s way cannot be understood by the mind, because the mind acts according to hard and fast rules and standards, while the spirit sees the truth of all and the truth of each and acts variously according to its own comprehension and complex vision. That also is why we say that no one can understand by his personal mental judgment the Mother’s actions and reasons for action: it can only be understood by entering into the larger consciousness from which she sees things and acts upon them. That is baffling to the mind because it loses its small measures, but it is the truth of the matter.
To come down to hard facts and it may make the doctrine a little more comprehensible. You speak of retirement and you say that if it is good why not impose it – you couple together Anilbaran, Radhananda, Nolini, Jyoti, Kanai, Nolineshwar! Well, take that last name, Nolineshwar and add to it Nolinbehari for he also “retired” and went headlong for an intense and solitary sadhana. Anilbaran and Radhananda profited by their seclusion, what happened to Nolineshwar and Nolinbehari? We forbade Nolinbehari to retire – he was always wanting to give up work, withdraw from all intercourse and spend all his time in meditation; but he did it as much as he could – result, collapse. Nolineshwar never asked permission and I cannot say what his retirement was like; but I hear he boasted that by his intense sadhana he had conquered sex not only for himself but all the sadhaks! He had to leave the Ashram owing to his unconquerable attachment to his wife and child and he is there living the family life and has Produced another child – what a success for retirement.
Where the retirement is helpful and fits the need or the nature, we approve it, but in the face of these results how can you expect us to follow what the mind calls a consistent course and impose it as the right thing on everybody? You have spoken of your singing. You know well that we approve of it and I have constantly stressed its necessity for you as well as that of your poetry. But the Mother absolutely forbade Harm’s singing? So music for some again she is indifferent or discourages it, for others she approves as for Romen, Chandra and others. For some time she encouraged the concerts, afterwards she stopped them. You drew from the prohibition to Harin and the stopping of the concerts that Mother did not like music or did not like Indian music or considered music bad for sadhana and all sorts of strange mental reasons like that. Mother prohibited Harin because while music was good for you, it was spiritually poison to Harin – the moment he began to think of it and of audiences, all the vulgarity and unspirituality of his nature rose to the surface. You can see what he is doing with it now! So again with the concerts though in a different way – she stopped them because she had seen that wrong forces were coming into their atmosphere, which had nothing to do with the music in itself; her motives were not mental. It was for similar reasons that she drew back from big public displays like Udayshankar’s. On the other hand she favoured and herself planned the exhibition of paintings at the Town Hall. She was not eager for you to have your big audiences for your singing because she found the atmosphere full of mixed forces and found too you had afterwards usually a depression; but she has always approved of your music in itself done privately or before a small audience. If you consider them, you will see that here there is no mental rule, but in each case the guidance is determined by spiritual reasons which are of a flexible character and look only at what in each case are the spiritual conditions, results, possibilities. There is no other consideration, no rule. Music, painting, poetry and many other activities which are of the mind and vital can be used as part of spiritual development or of the work and for a spiritual purpose – “it depends on the spirit in which they are done”.
That being established – that these things depend on the spirit, the nature of the person, its needs, the conditions and circumstances. I will come to your special question about pleasure and especially the pleasure in society of an expressive vital nature.
P.S. Of course there is a category of things that have to be eschewed altogether and of things that have to be followed by all, but I am speaking of the large number that do not fall into the two categories.
October 25, 1936
Well, I have said already that quarrels, cuttings are not a part of sadhana; the clashes and friction that you speak of are, just as in the outside world, rubbings of the vital ego. Antagonisms, antipathies, dislikes, quarrellings can no more be proclaimed as part of sadhana than sex-impulses or acts can be part of sadhana. Harmony, goodwill, forbearance, equanimity are necessary ideals in the relation of sadhak with sadhak. One is not bound to mix, but if one keeps to oneself, it should be for reasons of sadhana, not out of other motives – moreover it should be without any sense of superiority or contempt for others. The cases of friction you speak of seem to me to arise from ordinary motives of discord and they are certainly not the results of any spiritual Force working to heal the dangers of social or vital attraction by the blessings (!) of personal discord. If somebody finds that association with another for any reason raises undesirable vital feelings in him or her he can certainly withdraw from that association as a matter of prudence until he or she gets over the weakness. But ostentation of avoidance, public cuttings, etc. are not included in the necessity and betray feelings that equally ought to be overcome. There is a great confusion of thought about these things – for the vital gets in the way and disturbs the right view of things. It is only what is done sincerely with a sound spiritual motive that is proper to Yoga. The rest cannot be claimed as the working of a spiritual force mysteriously advancing its ends by ways contrary to its own nature.
October 26, 1936
It is quite true that you have made great progress; in spite of depressions a great change has taken place and is taking place which to us is very visible.
Don’t be afraid of vital energy in work. Vital energy is an invaluable gift of God without which nothing can be done – – as the Mother has always insisted from the beginning: it is given that His work may be done.
I am very glad it has come back and cheerfulness and optimism with it. That is as it should be.
P.S. That is the thing: let the energy have play – it can’t but strengthen the being for the greater purpose.
October 1936 (?)
(...) Mystery! Mystery O Guru! Nolini, Amrita & Co. baffled. Look at this map. They wired at 9.30 this morn from Madura. Now what do they mean? Reaching here 11 a.m. on 21st? Then how can they stay at Salem till lunch – Salem is about the same distance from Pondicherry as Pondicherry is from Madras. Then – and here is the Riddle of the Sphinx – why forbid me uselessly to come there (where?) by missing meditation? Could I even do that even if I wanted to play truant? When am I to repair chucking meditation – confound it all. Guru? And how can they reach the house without first reaching me? They know not the address. Can you possibly throw some light by yogic intuition?
Intuition is not enough – only the Divine Omniscience could solve the mysteries of this telegram. The last part about the meditation might be explained by Vidya’s declaration in a letter (if I remember right) that they might just walk into the house without informing you and surprise you by inviting you to tea. But if they don’t know the address? Or will they guess themselves into the right house? Perhaps you have given sufficient indications about it for that? For me the insoluble mystery is the lunch. Why lunch and not breakfast or dinner and why Salem? And how can they be here at eleven morning and lunching at Salem almost at the same time. It would need the yogic power of being in several places at a time. Logically we might suppose that the lunch at Salem must be not on the 21st but a previous day and they would break journey to eat and digest the lunch. But this is perhaps far-fetched? Belongs too much to the logic of time while the telegram is of the Timeless. Anyhow the important thing is their arrival – lunch or no lunch, Salem or no Salem. If they can’t find the house, they can find yours – so the difficulty is not practical but metaphysical.
[?] Soit = tathāstu [so be it] that is, from aspiration, not exactly from realisation though, which will be exemplified by this song – a childlike (childish?) optimistic song of delight for an overhauling, for a change, for a wonder, what? Seldom comest Thou “O spirit of delight”, n’est-ce pas? So why not make the most of it? Please note the extreme simplicity of the enfantin (?) delight. But I fear the sceptic a little still. Why such delight O thou “Fool’s Paradisisti” Won’t they say? Eh?
It is quite admirable, to say nothing of the writing94 which justifies all the optimism in the world, and it states perfectly the right attitude. As for the sceptics – well – optimism even unjustified is still justifiable because it gives a chance and a power for getting things done, while pessimism even with all the good reasons that appearances can give to it, is simply a clog and a “No going” affair. The right thing is to go ahead and get done all that can be, if possible, all that ought to be, but at least do so much that all that ought to be will feel bound to come along on the heels of my doing. That is, the prophets and the gospel... [incomplete]
October 1936 (?)
As to gratitude, it is a psychic feeling and all that is psychic helps the soul to flower. There is nothing wrong from the spiritual point of view in emotion. The only thing is that it should not become a tie of bondage in the path.
November 1, 1936
Of course you can send the Dewas photographs, though I don’t know that I can hold out much hopes of their changing our decision about them. They may be socially very pleasant and perhaps religious people but that is not enough for the purpose. All the same it would be interesting to see if their photographs give any light. But no objection to your tie with them.
I have read through a poem, but it was in gallop; so, if you don’t mind, IT1 keep it a day longer – such haste is not satisfactory in reading through a poem like that. All the same it was a gallop through a scenery of great beauty – in that hasty inspection it seemed to me one of the most beautiful poems you have written. I shall comment afterwards.
As for your friend’s letter I had no sufficient time. Curious how a day one had expected to be one of leisure gets crammed up like the others. Fate, I suppose!
As for Nilkantha, you have only to read his letters of self-justification to understand how loath we were to get rid of such a phenomenon. (Irony, sir!) They are awe inspiring in their Himalayan dignity and calm self-righteousness. Shiva95 himself could not have done better.
November 2, 1936
I have read your poem again more at leisure. It is very beautiful throughout and the metre seems very successful. It flows along in an easy prettiness and carries the succession of thoughts and images on its abundant wave. A very rich and harmonious poem.
As for the philosophy I take it that it is that this beauty owes its charm and power to something behind which it does not possess and cannot rightly transmit its influence. Hence all its charm fails to satisfy. It is only when [it] becomes pure enough to let the abiding Reality through that beauty will fulfil its meaning, become no more a disturbing and unsatisfying power but a support and expression of things spiritual, a portion of the Eternal Beauty. No need to correct since it is the truth behind all beauty.
November 2, 1936
Had a nice quiet day – I liked it very much. Did some Tagorian reading. His last art lecture two years ago, sāhityatattwa, has been printed in a book which he sent me recently. There what he writes re. mathematical ananda is interesting. He postulates that all delight may be the subject matter of poetry. Hence: “The question that naturally comes to mind is why this (mathematical delight) has not been a subject matter of literature. The reason is that its experience is confined to a few people and unknown to the general public. The language with which one can understand it is technical. It has not been developed into a living material from the feelings of the common people.”
Put “yogic poetry” in place of mathematics and you will at once understand why he cannot accept yogic poetry as poetry proper, since of course its province is (today at least) alpaloker madhye baddha [confined to a few people] and certainly sārbasadhāraner agochar [unknown to the general public]. Khagendra Mitra has echoed this identical view in a somewhat roundabout way by his rather obscure term anubhaber swajatya, [similar feeling] what?
Mathematical delight be blowed! What does he mean? That you can’t write mathematics in verse? I suppose not, it was not meant to be. You can’t start off
Oh, two by three plus four plus seven!
To add things is to be in heaven.
But all the same if one thinks it worth while to take the trouble, one can express the mathematician’s delight in discovery, or the grammarian’s in grammatising or the engineer’s in planning a bridge or a house. What about Browning’s Grammarian’s Funeral? The reason why these subjects do not easily get into poetry is because they do not lend themselves to poetic handling, their substance being intellectual and abstract and their language also, not as the substance and language of poetry must be, emotional and intuitive. It is not because they appeal only to a few people and not to the general run of humanity. A good dinner appeals not to a few people but to the general run of humanity, but it would all the same be a little difficult to write an epic or a lyric on the greatness of cookery, and fine dishes or the joys of the palate and the belly. Spiritual subjects on the other hand can lend themselves to poetic handling because they can be expressed in the language of high emotion and radiant intuition. How many people will appreciate it is a question which is irrelevant to the merit of the poetry. More people have appreciated sincerely Macaulay’s Lays or Kipling’s Barrack Room Ballads than ever really appreciated Timon of Athens or Paradise Regained – but that does not determine the relative value or appropriateness of these things as poetry. Artistic or poetic value cannot be reckoned by the plaudits or the reactions of the greatest number. I am only just reading Khagen Mitra’s swājātya – this is only a splenetic comment on your quotation from Tagore.
November 5, 1936
Re. Your yesterday’s letter on ugliness, etc. I find it most illuminating and refreshing. Re. Khagendra Mitra’s letter however a question naturally occurs to me anent his remarks on “for whom do you sing or write poems” etc. When one writes poetry it is not so difficult to supply an answer but when one publishes? Is it not meant for a public too? It can’t be meant solely for the Divine. Re. histrionic art or dance I feel the question more crucial. When one sets up a stage, etc. how can one say one dances or acts for the Divine only. The audience too then counts does he not? I mean in poetical or painting production the social aspect is all but non-existent: not so in social arts like dance, histrionics etc., is it? But then Khagen Mitra’s insistence on his tartan not appealing to a wide public due to his personal lack of genius there may be something in that. I mean can one not say that great genuises sometimes appeal to a very wide public? The question then occurs to me that it is perhaps the vitality of the art which appeals to the wide public not its best part – quintessentially artistic part. But then is not the vital part of art an eternal concomitant of a great artist. Perhaps Khagen Mitra and Tagore mean that when they say that the great art must in some way appeal not to a few only but to a great number. I would be very grateful if you would throw some light on this problem. For instance I have while hearing some great musicians felt their music is deep but lacks vitality without which the depth of their appeal is perhaps not fully satisfying – though I have enjoyed it. Didn’t you mean something akin when you wrote re. A. E. ‘s poetry that it did not become great because it lacked vitality. And vitality, forcément, appeals as it is of the nature of the vital to distribute itself, to extravagate itself. In great artists’ masterpieces there is, I feel, some extravagance of life-force which catches fire and appeals widely, though it may be at the cost of its deeper appeal. I wonder if I am clear. But I am sure you will catch my drift nevertheless.
It is quite true that all art and poetry is largely dependent on the vital for its activity and if there is no force of vitality in the poetry then it cannot be strong or great. But it does not follow that the vital element in poetry will appeal to everybody or a great number of people; it depends on the kind of vital movement that is there. The kind of vital energy that you find in Kipling’s ballads appeals to large mass of people; the vital element in Milton which is very powerful appeals to only a few in comparison – the rest take him on trust because he is a great classic but have not the same intense enjoyment of him as of Kipling. Yet Milton’s greatness will endure – that cannot be said certainly of Kipling’s ballads. The problem therefore remains where it was. Spiritual poetry also needs the vital force for expression; mere spiritual philosophy without the uplifting poetic force in its expression (which needs the vital energy for its action) cannot appeal to anybody. But all the same in spiritual poetry the vital element takes a form which may not appeal to many, unless it takes a popular religious form which has a general appeal. There I do not follow quite Khagen Mitra’s position – does he contend that one ought to suit one’s poetry to the mentality of others so that it may have a general appeal, not keeping to its natural purpose of expressing what is felt and seen by the poet according to the truth of the inspiration within him? Surely that cannot be recommended; but if it is not done, the possibility of appealing (at first, of course) only to a few remains uneliminated. It is not that a poet deliberately sets out to be appreciated by a few only – he sets out to be himself in his poetry and the rest follows. But consider a poet like Mallarmé. In writing his strange enigmatic profound style which turned the whole structure of French upside down he cannot have expected or cared to be read and appreciated by the general reading public interested and appreciative of poetry. Yet there is no one who has had more influence on modern French poets – he helped to create Verlaine, Valéry and a number of others who rank among the great ones in French literature and he himself ranks very high though he must still be read only by the comparatively few; yet he has practically turned the current of French poetry. So there is something to be said for writing for oneself even if that implies writing only for the few and not for the many.
As for the actor, that is quite a different art, meant for the Public, depending on its breath of applause, ineffective if its public is not moved or captured. A poet publishes, but he can take his chance; if he does not succeed in commanding widespread attention, he can still continue to write; there is something in him which maintains its energy and will to create. If he seeks acknowledgment, greatness and success – J although that is a secondary matter to the force that makes him write – he can still sustain himself on the hope of a future greatness with posterity; there are plenty of illustrious examples to console him. But an actor unappreciated is [?] for already dead – there is nothing before him. I must break off here – I may add some more when my slow digestion of K M’s letter is over.
November 6, 1936
(The first part of this letter is missing.)
(...) be able to boldly rise out of the soil to the skies where its efflorescence has, perforce, little kinship with the dark soil which gives it birth. I don’t know whether I express it with sufficient clarity, but I feel you will find little difficulty in divining what I mean and will come to my rescue, now that you have written something so clarifying (albeit a little perplexing too). You write of Mallarme and Valery. But Valery eureka! Him I had in mind: he is unintelligible to all but a very narrow coterie and even they say he is too intellectual and divorced from the life of emotions which makes his poetry admirable as a specimen of great workmanship but it will not live. Khagen Mitra does lay stress on emotional appeal and feelings which he says is more universal than the intellectual appeal. What about that?
Well but did they not say the same thing about Mallarme? And what of Blake? Contemporary opinion is a poor judge of what shall live or not live? The fact remains that the impressionist movement in poetry initiated by Mallarme has proved to be the most powerful stream in France and its influence is not confined to that country. The whole thing is that it is a mistake to erect a mental theory and try to force into its narrow mould the infinite variety of the processes of Nature. Shakespeare may have so much vital force as to recommend himself to large audience not so much for his poetry at first as for his dramatic vividness and power; it must be remembered that it was the German romantics two centuries later, who brought about the apotheosis of Shakespeare – before that he had a much more limited circle of admirers. Other great poets have started with a still more scanty recognition. Others have had a great popularity in their lifetime and sunk afterwards to much lower level of fame. What is important is to preserve the right of the poet to write for himself, that is to say, for the Spirit that moves him, not to demand from him that he should write down to the level of the general or satisfy even the established taste and standard of the critics or connoisseurs of his time. For that would mean the end or decay of poetry – it would perish of its own debasement. A poet must be free to use his wings even if they carry him above the comprehension of the public of the day or of the general run of critics or lead him into lonely places. This is all that matters.
Tolstoy’s logic is out of place. Nobody says that the value of the poet must be measured by the scantiness of his audience any more than it can be measured by the extent of his contemporary popularity. So there is no room for his reductio ad absurdum [a reduction to the absurd]. What is contended is that it cannot be measured by either. It must be measured by the power of his vision, of his speech, of his feeling, by his rendering of the world within or the world without or of any world to which he has access. It may be the outer world that he portrays like Homer and Chaucer or a vivid life-world like Sakespeare or an inmost world of experience like Blake or other mystic poets. The recognition of that power will come first from the few who recognise good poetry when they see 11 and from those who can enter into his world; afterwards it can spread to the larger number who can recognise good poetry when it is shown to them; finally, the still larger public may come in who learn to appreciate by a slow education, not by instinct and nature. There was a sound principle in the opinion always held in former times that it is time alone that can test the enduring power of a poet’s work, for contemporary opinion is not reliable.
There remains the case of the poets great or small or null who immediately command a general hearing. They have an element in them which catches at once the mind of the time: they are saying things which have a general appeal in a way that everybody can understand, in a language and rhythm that all can appreciate. As you say, there must be a vital element in his poetry which gets him his public. The question is, has he anything else and, again what is the value of this vital element? If he has nothing else or not much of any high value, his aureole will not endure. If he has something but not of the best and highest, he will sink in the eyes of posterity, but not set out of sight. If he has in him something of the very greatest and best, his fame will grow and grow as time goes on – some of the elements that caught him his contemporary public may fade and lose value, but the rest will shine with an increasing brightness. But even the vital and popular elements in their work may have different values – Shakespeare’s vitality has the same appeal now as then; Tennyson’s has got very much depreciated; Longfellow’s is now recognised for the easily current copper coin that it always was. You must remember that when I speak of the vital force in a poet as something necessary, I am not speaking of something that need be low or fitted only to catch the general mind, not fit to appeal to a higher judgment, but of something that can be very valuable – from the highest point of view. When Milton writes
Fall’n Cherub, to be weak is miserable
or describes the grandeur of the fallen archangel, there is a vital force there that is of the highest quality – so is that of Shakespeare; so is that of many pieces of Blake. This vital energy makes the soul stir within you. Nothing can be more high and sublime than the vital energy in Arjuna’s description of the virāt puruṣa [Cosmic Form] in the Gita.
November 8, 1936
It is very evident that Dhurjati has had a sudden opening to spiritual experience – a surprisingly sudden opening, one would think, but it happens often in that way, especially if there is a sceptical mind outside and a soul ready for experience within. In such cases also it comes often after a blow such as his brother’s illness, but I think there was already a turning of the mind which prepared it. This sudden and persistent visualisation also shows that there is a faculty within that has broken the gates which shut it in – the faculty of supraphysical vision. The coming up of the word “consecration” is also a familiar phenomenon of these experiences – it is what I call the voice of the psychic, an intimation from his own soul to the mind as to what it wants him to do. Now he has to accept it, for the assent of the nature, of the outward man to the inner voice is necessary so that it may be effective. He is standing at the turning-point and has been given an indication of the new road his inner being, the Antaratman, wants him to follow – but, as I say, the assent of his mind and vital is necessary. If he can decide to consecrate, he must make the saṅkalpa [resolution] of consecration, offer himself to the Divine and call for the help and the guidance. If he is not able to do that at once let him wait and see, but keeping himself open, as it were, to the continuation and development of the experience that has begun, till it becomes definitely imperative to his own feeling. He will receive help and, if he becomes conscious of it, then there can be no further question – it will be easy for him to proceed on the way.
P.S. Has he read anything of my writings on Yoga? Has h^ at all studied or got an idea of what Yoga is?
November 10, 1936
The idea that all sadhaks must be aloof from each other and at daggers drawn is itself a preconceived idea that must be abandoned. Harmony and not strife is the law of Yogic living. This preconceived idea arises perhaps from the old notion of Nirvana as the aim; but Nirvana is not the aim here. The aim here is fulfilment of the Divine in life and for that, union and solidarity are indispensable. [I find it difficult to see in the mind’s eye Sotuda developing an aversion for you and it would not be easy for you to develop an aversion for Sotuda; so these nightmares of the vital imagination ought not to emerge. Aversion and quarrelling are unyogic, not yogic tendencies; the fact that this Ashram is full of quarrels only shows that it is still an Ashram of very imperfect sadhaks, not yet an Ashram of Yogis – it does not at all mean that aversion and quarrelling is the dharma of the spiritual seeker96.]
The ideal of the Yoga is that all should be centred in and around the Divine and the life of the sadhaks must be founded on that firm foundation, their personal relations also should have the Divine for their centre. Moreover, all relations should pass from the vital to the spiritual basis with the vital only as a form and instrument of the spiritual – this means that from whatever relations they have with each other, all jealousy, strife, hatred, aversion, rancour and other evil vital feelings should be abandoned, they can be no part of the spiritual life. So also all egoistic love and attachment will have to disappear – the love that loves only for the ego’s sake and as soon as the ego is hurt and dissatisfied ceases to love or even cherishes rancour and hate. There must be a real living and lasting unity behind the love. It is understood of course that such things as sexual impurity must disappear also.
That is the ideal, but as for the way of attainment, it may differ for different people. One way is that in which one leaves everything else to follow the Divine alone. This does not mean an aversion for anybody any more than it means aversion for the world and life. It only means absorption in one’s central aim, with the idea that once that is attained it will be easy to found all relations on the true basis, to become truly united with others in the heart and the spirit and the life, united in the spiritual truth and in the Divine. The other way is to go forward from where one is, seeking the Divine centrally and subordinating all else to that, but not putting everything else aside, rather seeking to transform gradually and progressively whatever is capable of such transformation. All the things that are not wanted in the relation – sex impurity, jealousy, anger, egoistic demand – drop away as the inner being grows purer and is replaced by the unity of soul with soul and the binding together of the social life in the hoop of the Divine. [Your eagerness to bring your friends into the Yoga was perhaps in reality due to a dim recognition somewhere in the being that this was the safest way to preserve the relation, to found it on the common search for the Divine. If quarrels intervene and there is strife, it is because the old ego basis stuck still and brought in old reactions not of a yogic character; but for that the Yoga is not to blame97.]
It is not that one cannot have relations with people outside the circle of the sadhaks, but there too if the spiritual life grows within, it must necessarily affect the relation and spiritualise it on the sadhak’s side. And there must be no such attachment as would make the relation an obstacle or a rival to the Divine. Attachment to family etc. often is like that and, if so, it falls away from the sadhak. That is an exigence which, I think, should not be considered excessive. All that, however, can be progressively done; a severing of existing relations is necessary for some; it is not so for all. A transformation, however gradual, is indispensable – severance where severance is the right thing to do.
P.S. I must repeat also that each case differs – one rule for all is not practical or practicable. What is needed by each for his spiritual progress is the one desideratum to be held in view.
November 11, 1936
On the contrary, much progress has been made in the change of the nature – only it seems to be covered over and forgotten when there is the difficulty and the whole attention is on the things unchanged and still to be changed so that these seem alone to exist. The over-sensitiveness which makes you suffer by the smallest things in the contact with others is the present obstacle – it has to be changed into a sensibility which will be the means of the deep and sensitive realisation of the Divine. All parts of nature have a spiritual use, once the change can be brought about. I hope the trouble will now pass and you will be able to get back the poise. These things are only dust-storms on the way and one must try to pass quickly through. To see them for what they are and not to dwell on the thought of them is best. Shake away the dust and go forward.
November 12, 1936
(The first part of this letter is missing, it starts on page 3.)
(...) “Dilipkumar’s music is so eminently appealing as D. is not circumscribed by his art pure and simple.” I am a little dubious as to his precise meaning. Have you seen the passage? I wonder, because I don’t think his thesis is quite true. I don’t know that Beethoven had an all-sided culture. Tagore has a wide culture – grant. But are his novels more satisfying than Sarat Chandra’s whose culture is not so wide? Qu’en dites-vous? Is not culture a somewhat extraneous adjunct to a personality – a thing learnt with ado – whereas art with all its limitations at least spring from within?
I have not seen the remarks in question. I don’t suppose allround general culture has much to do with excelling in music. Music is a gift independent of any such thing and it can hardly be said that given a musical gift in two people the one with an all-round culture would go farther than the other in musical excellence. That would not be true in any of the arts. But something else was meant perhaps that there is a certain turn or element in the excellence that an all round culture makes possible? It is only in that sense that it could be true. Shakespeare’s poetry for instance is that of a man with a vivid and many-sided response to life; it gives the impression of a multifarious knowledge of things, but it was a knowledge picked up from life as he went; Milton gets a certain culture from his studies and learning; but in neither case is the genius or excellence of the poetry due to culture, but there is a certain turn or colouring in Milton which would have not been there otherwise and which is not there in Shakespeare. It does not give any superiority in poetic excellence to one over the other.
November 18, 1936
I was reading what you wrote to Nirod re. the uselessness of literary activities, etc. as a sadhana. I had all along felt the same, but you insisted it did help in sadhana. So I now wonder. I have been working very hard of late and was getting a little calm if not peace. But now your remark sets the ball of doubt rolling again in my mind. Shall I start meditation again? You write that people here don’t do sadhana like the professional sannyasis yet they expect a result. How is one to take that: we have learnt from you that work, etc. is some sort of sadhana. (I had all along suspected a bad sort but you silenced me with Gita, remember?) and I have been trying all along to take to work as a sadhana in consequence (because, as you know, it is so dull for me to meditate which I feel, once again, d’aprés vous, is sadhana proper, what?) but now it becomes all a confused wondering and marvelling and what not! Will you elucidate the mystery?
Your perplexity arises from your having taken my answer to a particular question about literature and character as a general answer about work and sadhana. Nirod’s question had nothing to do with the latter question. What he advanced was that the pursuit of literature must change a man’s character98, make him I suppose holy, jolly and wise. It is a notorious fact that it does not do anything of the kind and I said so. That is a quite different question from work (literary or any other) done as sadhana. I have always said that work done as sadhana – done, that is to say, as an outflow of energy from the Divine offered to the Divine or work done for the sake of the Divine or work done in a spirit of devotion is a powerful means of sadhana and that such work is especially necessary in this Yoga. Work, bhakti and meditation are three supports of Yoga. One can do with all three, or two or one. There are people who can’t meditate in the set way that one calls meditation, but they progress through work or through bhakti or through the two together. By work and bhakti one can develop a consciousness in which eventually a natural meditation and realisation become possible.
All that is quite different from Nirod’s idea of making oneself virtuous and self-controlled and pure by some mysterious innate power in the pursuit of literature! If he had asked me the question about work and sadhana, I would have answered him otherwise. Of course literature and art are or can be a first introduction to the inner being – the inner mind and vital; for it is from there that they come. And if one writes poems of bhakti, poems of divine seeking, etc. or creates music of that kind, it means that there is a bhakta or seeker inside who is supporting himself by that self-expression. There is also the point of view behind Lele’s answer to me when I told him that I wanted to do Yoga but for work, for action, not for Sannyasa and Nirvana, but after years of spiritual effort I had failed to find the way and it was for that I had asked to meet him. His first answer was ‘It should be easy for you as you are a poet. But it was not from any point of view like that that Nirod put his question and it was not from that point of view that I gave my answer. It was about some special character-making virtue that he seemed to attribute to literature.
November 20, 1936
Well, yes, that is how people in their position are accustomed to act, according to the idea of the moment and without regard to any difficulties created by frequent changes, because for them there are no difficulties. But I suppose they will be very nice about it, if you attack them on the subject.
As for the interview it is impossible for Mother to say at present. Lady Haidari99, Ali and Alys may be coming any of these days and if they come on the 22nd Mother will see them in the afternoon. If they don’t, then her time will be free in the afternoon to see Vidya and Divakar. So she can only say then, on the day itself.
November 20, 1936
Your letter has made us all cheerful like the mysterious skylark – through our happiness that there are some mysteries beyond even you!
But a little help. Mrs. Sarcar practically declared she would come with Professor this evening for a little music. I tried my best to decline – politely – but parrying and ducking – but she went home as she always does. Truly I am in no mood now – am too busy with work. I had thought of giving one evening to Vidya and Professor together and be done with it – but now I will have to give two. lam sorry, guru, but forgive the past sins of a singer and grant me two days’ permission (with positive force of course) this evening and the 22nd evening as Vidya etc. will surely press, so I anticipate.
That is quite all right.
Please believe me when I say that I do not feel at all eager to sing to big audiences and I assure you I will invite very few people. I do want to do Yoga proper and such soirees I understand interfere with Yoga.
In excess they may. No objection either to the Aristotelian golden mean or to Buddha’s middle way.
Yet I will have to sing a day or two to Vidya, etc. For which I crave your indulgence. I am feeling rather cheerful today. I trust it will last. I feel a burgeoning aspiration anyhow – my extremely hard work the last few days had a cumulative effect, I suspect! I have finished the preface etc. yesterday – still a few hours work remaining which I hope to finish today. Do see Nishikanta’s beauty twin to the lovely Hindi laghu guru song. (Dewas Rani gave it to me a fortnight ago – I don’t see them at all now-a-days by the way.)
Very beautiful. He has certainly a most extraordinary genius for rhythm as well as for a fine play of vivid energy and beauty in his poetry.
November 21, 1936
I enclose the letter of the poet Jatindra100 (friend of Birendra Kishore) whose poem on Suryamukhi you called “very beautiful”. Well, it is a sincere letter anyhow in this world of narrow interests. You know now that I have some sort of a position in the literary world (though it is worth nothing I fully realise that – since I truly want the Divine and not literary eminence, dash it all). I get flattering tributes from all sorts of people with interests of their own, etc. Here is at least a person not of that type. That is something.
Yes, it is a very sincere letter. It is one of the disadvantages of fame and position that human nature presents itself in a very unpleasant manner – it is then always refreshing if one comes across it in its finer movements.
Well re. the other thing I have seen myself a little clearly this time: all this expectation of good behaviour too must go. Last night I was reading Mother’s prayers and I was struck by this:ll (mon être) sait que cet état d’amour actif doit être constant et impersonnel, c’est-á-dire tout á fait indepéndant des circonstances et des personnes, puisqu’il ne peut et ne doit être concentré sur aucun en particulier101. Also, “... (car) l’amour se suffit à lui-même et n’a nul besoin de réciprocité”102...
I got as though some sort of key to the ever stormy trouble in my own nature: I always expect some sort of return when I do anything for anybody. That should go. I should neither have a clinging for such returns nor even any attachment to a human contact however soothing – for in human contacts the “état d’ amour” [state of love] is difficult to achieve – perhaps impossible without having first had the divine realisation – the state that is, which is independent of persons and circumstances. Therefore spring my constant fear and anxiety that I would fall out with all I like and love – with all I come into contact however soothing or delectable. I am quite fed up with this sort of narrowness within me. This must go: if only because without such repudiation of this human way of approach I can never establish any harmony within me which is “independent of persons and circumstances”. The difficulty is of course that Divine Love appears to me too impersonal and cold that is lacking in warmth though rich in a cold harmony. Perhaps Divine Love is not like that: I don’t know – but what I know is that human affections etc. are all rather tiresome at best and stifling at worst – and one has to rise out of their rut up into some sort of liberation. If only I could get a little peace and rasa in yoga – it might have been a little easier for me to bid final farewell to this clinging propensity in my nature clinging for what it can never get from human beings with the meilleure volonté in the world. Anyhow I will try to be more yogic and unattached henceforward: that is a good result of this last test which hasn’t at least unbalanced me as did so many others before.
Love cannot be cold – for there is no such thing as cold love, but the love of which the Mother speaks in that passage is something very pure, fixed and constant; it does not leap like fire and sink for want of fuel, but is steady and all-embracing and self-existent like the light of the sun. There is also a divine love that is personal, but it is not like the ordinary personal human love dependent on any return from the person – it is personal but not egoistic – it goes from the real being in the one to the real being in the other. But to find that, liberation from the ordinary human way of approach is necessary.
November 22, 1936
I felt a little depressed this morning somehow. Had pain in the neck last night – stiff neck? However composing this strange poem in a depressed mood I have almost got out of the clutches of the incipient depression. I felt Mother very formal yesterday, that is perhaps [why] I felt depressed, I don’t know. Trying to reject it all.
Surely not! Obliged to concentrate through the whole pranam, yes – formal, no.
An encouraging letter of Khagen Mitra. With all his caution he is moved, see? So – felt a little cheerful anyway.
Evidently very much moved – to write like that.
More important is Dhurjati’s letter. Have just written to Dr. James Cousins at Madanapalli. He used to like me very much, once his wife (Dr. of Music of Cambridge) wrote I sing like a king, etc. So he may help D. M. to get him a cottage. I will pranam you a second time for Dhurjati and his brother, also for Jawaharlal and my friend Mrs. Miller who sends me today a lively anthology of French verse. She is charming! Eh?
Let me have a word re. Dhurjati. So he is likely to come to Madanapalli (100 miles from here).
What Dhurjati proposes is quite the right way. That and to grow conscious gradually of That which is working behind his actions and through them, is what is needed. Faith is always sincere, even if it be an appearance only like the small seed of the parable: fostered from within it grows and covers the whole nature.
How things work out – and still I can’t get rid of depressions, etc. Depressing this very thought, is it not? Anyhow it may change now. Today begins the ninth year of my arrival here. Sol feel a little sad – to start a new year with this mood – with doubts about “cold harmonious Love” – bad augury, what?
Cold and harmonious! What a queer idea!
No reality in these auguries. “Only one augury is the best”, to seek persistently after the Divine.
Anyhow the poem has a strange fire! How quixotically mixed we poor mortals of day are!!
The poem is a very fine one. It reminds one of the “metaphysical” poets somewhat, but without the defect of their manner.
The other poem [Sura-ashi] is exceedingly beautiful. If they call that spiritual philosophy and not poetry, they must be dull of heart and blunt of wit.
November 25, 1936
This poem I wrote yesterday morning: the whole thing came like lightning – probably because I have had some real ananda after darshan after a long time. I was rather nervous yesterday morning – I would have black depression after darshan: for once, thank God, my gloomy prognostications proved untrue. Perhaps there is a lot of vital joy here – which appealed to Sotuda and even Mrs. Sarcar who both shed tears when I recited it to them yesterday afternoon, Mrs. Sarcar taking a copy of it. Que faire? J did have joy to see you or rather after seeing you which was rather an energetic kind of joy!
The more energetic the better and if the vital feels it, so much the better for the vital.
The poem [Yugal] is very beautiful indeed throughout.
I enclose Biren’s letter I received this morning.
I am sending you a cheque from Banerji for endorsement. He has sent it to replace the former one which was not negotiable by endorsement because it was a crossed cheque. Will you endorse it as before and send it back to Mother?
November 27, 1936
It was evident that the Yuvaraj was moved at the time of the Darshan. Both he and Vidya have certainly possibilities in them, though as the Mother told her, they have still far to go before they can be really ready for the inner spiritual life. It is chiefly the habits of mind and character created by their wealth and position that stand in their way. But if they begin to think seriously of inner things, then this handicap can be overcome. The family seems to have been drawn here with a purpose, perhaps as a type (a favourable type) of their class and, if they can open, it may mean something considerable.
P.S. No, I have no furious objections to your self-felicitation on your present reactions: on the contrary, I am ready to join and felicitate also with a deep “amen”.
November 28, 1936
I see no objection to your going for two or three days to Madras for this purpose. I don’t suppose you will paint the town red, and the Cinema sounds harmless, though if the newspaper pictures are any guide, it is likely to be disappointing; I have yet to see anything that really suggested an artistic piece. But for the studio and the records go ahead. When it is arranged, we will send our blessings along with you and I hope that liberated from the sweet fantasies of the Pondicherry municipal electricity, it will be a total success.
November 29, 1936
That is all right. I can’t say that the Gramophone is a prominently yogic machine, but then few machines are. But all the same almost anything can be used for yogic purposes. So you need not think that Gramophone recording is a contradiction of Yoga. Anything can be made a part of Yoga if the right spirit is there. This time there ought to be a full success. What you say is right, if the first attempt had been really a failure, they would not be so eager to do more.
December 2, 1936
It is very nice indeed after your wonderful corrections. Bottom is now translated indeed! Only read once more. What do you think in the last verse of “my neck engarland with the music of Thy starry throng” you have made “the starry”. See and adjudge.
It can be “Thy”.
Potent spell and arabesque are marvellous!
I append a letter of a rising poet with his hymn on yourself; he has a fine command of language (Nishikanta and Nirod too have praised his poem on you) and chhanda; his only defect is the defect of all – it is too Tagorian. Still his thought substance and easy flow and kallol and fine mastery of felicitous chhanda (his only defect here is that it flows a little too correctly with little variations of pauses, etc.) surely deserves sincere praise. It is just a wee bit heavy in a few lines – but seldom so heavy as to tend to be prosaic. For the rest I think it is a fine poem all told in spite of its evident limitations. It is a poem certainly demanding notice.
I like the poem very well, and there are very fine lines in it.
I enclose also my poem they praise so highly.
It is not surprising that they should have liked it – as a truly beautiful poem “Philosophical” – what!
l am so glad – because his praise sounds genuine and he being a poet himself I must set store by his being so moved by the poem I wrote when I myself was moved to tears. Also note this chhanda was invented by my father and till now had received practically no notice. Of course I have now developed it and Nishikanta too is taking to it. By the way, he has written a magnificent paean on you (entitled “Chobbishay November” – 24th November) in my new invented prabahaman matra-vritta (flowing metre). It is superb. He has caught it at last – the flow I mean. Till now he had not achieved this, he was complaining himself and had thought it rather difficult. But now all is moving like a well-oiled limousine. This you will be glad to note when you read this poem of his – his longest (18 pages). But all that in good time. I am correcting his spelling and punctuation.
I shall await it then. Eighteen pages will be a job for me in my present circumstances, but your description of the well-oiled limousine is promising and gives me hope I shall be able to go through like another Sir Malcolm Campbell at two hundred miles an hour.
December 5, 1936
You can send the letter, but I don’t know how far Sotuda will relish the suggestion. He is a rich and successful man spending largely, I suppose, but without much consideration if it is true that he can’t make both ends meet on so large an income. Yet he seemed to be careful and strict about money. Perhaps the figure of fifteen thousand was exaggerated. If a man governs his getting and spending, then to spare two or three hundred out of over a thousand is possible; if it is a case of money flowing in and out again without government, then one feels it difficult to spare even a half or third out of that sum. As to surrender, well, he has to find his base yet. He has been inwardly very restless since his wife’s death between various vital pulls, I suppose, and the distraction of having to look after family things, and for a man of his easy going nature it may be difficult to settle down to a fixed will all on one side.
You can however throw the stone into the water and see what ripples it makes!
December 6, 1936
For this music syllabus which is, well, practically finished now I chose a famous song of Jaydev sung in the popular kirtan way as we have to put in a few kirtans at the end. So I asked Nishikanta to compose a kirtan [Tabo Pranaya Kulako Dhari] a la Jaydev telling him about the rhyme scheme. He did it in no time and such jhankār [resonance]!... Isn’t it? Only read on and see. I can’t help admiring the ambience of Jaydev that has been imported into this song.’ Not that it is difficult or has not been done before, Jaydev lending himself rather gratefully to Bengali rhymes. Compare with
vadasi yadi kinchidapi dantamchi kaumudī
[When you open your mouth even a little, your teeth radiate like moonbeam/light]
Tagore’s panchashare dagdha kare karechho eki sannyasi [O Sannyasi! What have you done by burning Cupid] an identical rhythmic twin – but still – none has up till now rendered him in laghu guru itseif with such natural at-home-ness, what? This can be sung deliciously – of course the rhymes galore making the melody captivating, what? His virtuosity in itself is a miracle, is it of Yoga? Tell me – O please – do. Guru! For how can such cascades of assonances and wordy melodies descend so! I am truly lost in the jhankār itself as I am in that of Jaydev even when I pay no heed to the substance. How do you explain this experience of mine? It is as concrete a delight as any I know of – though I admit – it is not a profound delight – more sensuous than spiritual. Is it? O Guru, tell me something illuminating hereanent – for I don’t exaggerate at all when I praise these so lustily. I do react vividly to its sound-beauty and the lovely magic of words chosen with a sureness of intuitive instinct that can hardly be praised too much. I feel no one could change a word here to improve this little song. His choice of laghu and guru vowels too are dexterous beyond measure. Qu’en dites-vous? Which proves too de nouveau how laghu guru is at home in Bengali poetry too, for this is more a poem (in its flow and long-drawn cadence) than a song proper.
Nishikanta seems to have put himself into contact with an inexhaustible source of flowing word and rhythm – with the world of sound-music, which is one province of the World of Beauty. It is part of the vital World no doubt and the joy that comes of contact with that beauty is vital – but it is a subtle vital which is not merely sensuous. It is one of the powers by which the substance of the consciousness can be refined and prepared for sensibility to a still higher beauty and Ananda. Also it can be made a vehicle for the expression of the highest things. The Veda, the Upanishad, the Mantra everywhere owe half its power to the rhythmic sound that embodies it.
December 7, 1936
Please see this: I hope you will in the circumstances approve of Bangalore. I have been preparing a dozen songs which can’t be done in a day – and to risk the journey for a day is not worth while anyhow. Besides the climate of Bangalore is magnificent as you know – one can sing there much more without strain because of its proverbial bracing bove sea-level and crisp. Causes little fatigue. I used)nature – being 2000 feet a to sing there for hours without the least fatigue. I am sorry to trouble you – but you will understand my eagerness to make it a success since you have allowed a journey outside after all. There one can be incognito in a hotel – I do think. I prefer hotel to a private house for this. Dhurjati’s letter too. Very cheering. How the sceptic fellow had been hiding his godliness behind his atheistic bushel? I dreamed yesterday Subhash requesting me to return and I asked him to forgive me as I belonged now entirely to the Divine. Woke up in some joy. So I hope my godliness will survive Bangalore, what?
I suppose under the circumstances you will have to go to Bangalore.
Certainly at first sight one does not expect a sceptic to go Marathoning like that on the road of Yoga. But it often happens, perhaps because he has done the scepticism in so thoroughly as to exhaust that obstacle effectively.
December 8, 1936
This morning your letter did bring me some definite relief. It was difficult to know for certain whether you did approve of this and I have felt uneasy ever since they invited me – doubtless because of some wrong movement somewhere deep down which I can’t quite correct with my single-handed effort. Please send me therefore your force that I may offer it all to you in the proper spirit – shorn of this fame-lure, success-lure, etc – then I am sure it will help me instead of hindering me – and the congenial nature of this endeavour will make my self-offering to you a more delightful thing than this attempt has been thus far. I want to have this spirit (in a concrete way): that I am doing this as an offering to you and Mother. Tell me, is that possible?
I mean, is there something in this work itself which precludes this possibility?
No, nothing. I think I wrote once already that almost any work can be made a means of self-offering.
I hope not: at least with your grace it should be possible since I am sincere in wanting to do this – though my vital nature responds to the delight of the work for its own sake – as it does to other work too – story-telling, music-composing, verse-writing, etc.
The vital delight in the work is a necessary element for the work itself. Work done without it is much less easy to do and much less easy to offer.
I had a beautiful dream this afternoon in my midday siesta. I sang Nishikanta’s song on Mother this morning (with other songs too) with joy and after meals lay down in shabasan to do japa of Mother’s name making my room dark. I fell into sleep and dreamed I lay as a child with Mother who was caressing me as a human mother does her child and I lay at her feet and in her lap in great love and devotion. I did respond vividly to it all – and woke up in great joy.
I enclose Biren’s letter as he wants me to let you know about it all. He praised my music-book highly in the previous letter writing that my tunes, etc. are shining with beauty, had originality, etc. Truly, Guru, do help me so that I can sing some of these as a throbbing offering: it will then be dazzling I tell you (bad adjective for music but expressive). Oh, if I could sing even a tithe as emotionally-moved as I do here it will be more moving than any Indian Gramophone record can boast today. This I say not to brag only to invoke your grace so that I may offer it all as a wealth given to me – to be offered back to you in grateful dedication. I do mean it and don’t use these words for the fine ring of the poesy these words convey – I do so long to be able to sing in absolute self-forgetfulness in dedication to you. I have sung like that here any number of times: not for nothing Vidya wept and said to me, “You sing divinely Dilipbhai!” Do now grant that I may not be dogged by my egoism of which I am truly sick.
Very glad to know of the new inspiration and endeavour.
I am in possession of Nishikanta’s – a whopper! It will take me some time to negotiate it. At present I can see a remarkable flow of language and rhythm, but more can only be said after reading the whole. It looks as if the temptation of your new metre, once mastered, would be that you can go on for ever in it. As Bernard Shaw said of Moore’s Brook Kerith and its perfect smooth style, “There is no reason why Moore should not go on for another 40,000 pages of this book.”
December 12, 1936
(Regarding Dhurjati’s brother.)
I have put a force there for the cure. But this weakness implies that there is organically a weak point in the body and it is only by a long-sustained action that it can be radically cured. If he is feeling the effect and is already better, there is hope of the cure.
December 12, 1936
Dying to know what supra-smiles you are spending on the punarmusika103 Edward VIII becoming a plain-clothes sentinel now (once more) of his realm instead of being quondam August Keeper, hein? Most are all lost in a ferment, so soothe – please!
But I don’t understand – why should there be a ferment about this affair among the “most”? What is Edward Windsor to them or they to Edward Windsor? He has very sensibly kicked over the braces and chucked the unpleasant work of being a King who can do nothing except nod his head like a marionette to the Prime Minister and the cabinet and preferred to live his own life as a man and not a pseudo-king. Quite natural. What is said is that he was too democratic and socialistic for the British Parliamentarians, wanted to create a free and united Ireland, give full Dominion autonomy without reserves to India, do something for the workers, etc. and generally made himself a vigorous nuisance to Baldwin and Co. Hence they took the first opportunity to put him in the dilemma “Be a puppet or go”. It is very probable. Anyhow it seems that the new George will suit them very well. So all is for the best in the best possible of all possible Baldwinian worlds and there is nothing to be in a ferment over.
December 15, 1936
Anilkumar asks me to send you his poem [Naba Jagaran – New Awakening] enclosed, with my comments thereon. I don’t think they are at all necessary as the poem is a fine one and will speak for itself. Naturally it is more difficult to treat such a theme poetically than the customary ones and therefore the poem did sound heavy (even prosaic and theological at places) – originally. But he accepted the friendly suggestions of Nishikanta and myself with a decided improvement of the poetic aspect of it. As it now stands, it is, I feel, quite purged of its occasional prosaic associations except in two or three places but chiefly in panchabhuta etc. (page 2 and at the bottom lines on page 3 marked in red), I suspect!
But with tribhāva [triple-idea or triple-emotion], parivyāpti [all-pervading], svayambhū [self-originating or self-born] and pūmatattva [complete philosophical knowledge] it could hardly have poetic wings, what?
svayambhū can be given wings, but not if you load it down with pūmatattva and parivyāpti.
But this is surely of minor importance (though I wish he had worked hard at this part too – which he is, regrettably, somewhat unwilling to do) – what is remarkable is that such flow or rhythm and language has come in the poem fairly often as it has. At one or two places I have marked the rhythm is surely magistral. At others a fairly decent level of poetic eminence has been preserved which is surely no small achievement for a poet who has not written in all more than a dozen poems or thereabouts. But lo, I am spinning out: I mustn’t. Surely you will be very pleased with the poem and its treatment now. That is all that matters, surely.
It seems to me a remarkably fine poem. There are the defects noted by you in the passages marked, but in the rest the difficulties of the subject have been overcome and the paramatattva [the supreme principle or knowledge] – if not the pumatattvamade poetically sublime and epic. It is a considerable poetic achievement.
December 16, 1936
As for Krishna, why not approach simply and straight? The simple approach means trust. If you pray, trust that He hears. If the reply takes long in coming, trust that he knows and loves and that he is wisest in the choice of the time. Meanwhile quietly clear the ground, so that He may not have to trip over stone and jungle when he comes. That is my suggestion and I know what I am saying – for whatever you may say, I know very well all human difficulties and struggles and I know of the cure. That is why I press always on the things that would minimise and shorten the struggles and difficulties – the psychic turn, faith, perfect and simple confidence and reliance. These, let me remind you, are tenets of the Vaishnava yoga. Of course, there is the other Vaishnava way which swings between yearning and despair – ardent seeking and the pangs of viraha. It is that you seem to be following and I do not deny that one can arrive by that as one can by almost any way, if followed sincerely. But then those who follow it find a rasa even in viraha, in the absence and the caprice of the Divine Lover. Some of them have sung that they have followed after Him all their lives but always he has slipped away from their vision and even in that they find a rasa and never cease following. But you find no rasa in it. So you cannot expect me to approve of that for you. Follow after Krishna by all means, but follow with the determination to arrive: don’t do it with the expectation of failure or admit any possibility of breaking off half-way because there is as yet no answer.
December 16, 1936
Last night I was reading the book “World Predictions” by the world-famous astrologer Cheiro published in 1925. He did make some astonishing prophecies. To quote only one, as I am sending up the book to you so that you may read the others: he writes anent King George VI.
“In his case it is remarkable that the regal sign of Jupiter increases as the years advance.” And then of the Prince of Wales: “His astrological chart shows perplexing and baffling influences that most unquestionably point to changes that are likely to take place greatly affecting the throne of England... he will fall a victim to a devastating love affair. If he does, I predict that the Prince will give up everything, even the chance of being crowned, rather than lose the object of his affection.” (‘.!!)
But if it was all pre-ordained. Guru, then it is evident that Shakespeare was wrong when he said:
“Our fault, dear Brutus, lies not in our stars
But in ourselves that we are underlings.”
And right when he said;
“Life’s but a walking shadow, a poor player
That struts and frets his hour upon the stage
And then is heard no more: it is a tale
Told by an idiot, full of sound and fury,
For I, for one, feel myself a veritable “underling” to have to think, say, that it had been sidereally decided that Dilip would read a book at midnight on the fifteenth of December in the year of Grace, 1936, and would on the morrow write to his Guru of his deep dejection whereupon the latter would write off a deep reply the next day couched in words of wisdom. And then tell me, did these stars know what your Wisdom is going to write tomorrow?
Your extracts taken by themselves are very impressive, but when one reads the book, the impression made diminishes and fades away. You have quoted Cheiro’s successes, but what about his failures? I have looked at the book and was rather staggered by the number of prophecies that have failed to come off. You can’t deduce from a small number of predictions, however accurate, that all is predestined down to your putting the questions in the letter and my answer. It may be, but the evidence is not sufficient to prove it. What is evident is that there is an element of the predictable, predictable accurately and in detail as well as in large points, in the course of events. But that was already known; it leaves the question still unsolved whether all is so predictable, whether destiny is the sole factor in existence or there are other factors also that can modify destiny – or, destiny being given, there are not different sources or powers or planes of destiny and we can modify the one with which we started by calling in another destiny source, power or plane and making it active in our life. Metaphysical questions are not simple that they can be trenchantly solved either in one sense or in another contradictory to it – that is the popular way of settling things, but it is quite summary and inconclusive. All is free-will or else all is destiny – it is not so simple as that. This question of free-will or determination is the most knotty of all metaphysical questions and nobody has been able to solve it – for a good reason, that both destiny and will exist and even a free-will exists somewhere – the difficulty is only how to get at it and make it effective.
Astrology? Many astrological predictions come true, quite a mass of them, if one takes all together. But it does not follow that the stars rule our destiny; the stars merely record a destiny that has been already formed, they are a hieroglyph, not a Force – or if their action constitutes a force, it is a transmitting energy, not an originating Power. Someone is there who has determined or something is there which is Fate, let us say; the stars are only indicators. The astrologers themselves say that there are two forces, daiva and puruṣakāra, fate and individual energy, and the individual energy can modify and even frustrate fate. Moreover, the stars often indicate several fate-possibilities; for example that one may die in mid-age, but that if that determination can be overcome, one can live to a predictable old age. Finally, cases are seen in which the predictions of the horoscope fulfil themselves with great accuracy up to a certain age, then apply no more. This often happens when the subject turns away from the ordinary to the spiritual life. If the turn is very radical, the cessation of predictability may be immediate; otherwise certain results may still last on for a time, but there is no longer the same inevitability. This would seem to show that there is or can be a higher power or higher plane or higher source of spiritual destiny which can, if its hour has come, override the lower-power, lower-plane or lower source of vital and material fate of which the stars are indicators. I say vital because character can also be indicated from the horoscope much more completely and satisfactorily than the events of the life.
The Indian explanation of fate is Karma. We ourselves are our own fate through our actions, but the fate created by us binds us; for what we have sown, we must reap in this life or another. Still we are creating new fate for the future even while undergoing old fate from the past in the present. That gives a meaning to our will and action and does not, as European critics wrongly believe, constitute a rigid and sterilising fatalism. But again, our will and action can often annul or modify even the past Karma, it is only certain strong effects, called utkaṭa karma [excessive or strong, powerful karma], that are non-modifiable. Here too the achievement of the spiritual consciousness and life is supposed to annul or give the power to annul Karma. For we enter into union with the Will Divine, cosmic or transcendent, which can annul what it had sanctioned for certain conditions, new-create what it had created, the narrow fixed lines disappear, there is a more plastic freedom and wideness. Neither Karma nor Astrology therefore point to a rigid and for ever immutable fate.
As for prophecy, I have never met or known of a prophet, however reputed, who was infallible. Some of their predictions come true to the letter, others do not – they half-fulfil or misfire entirely. It does not follow that the power of prophecy is unreal or the accurate predictions can be all explained by probability, chance or coincidence. The nature and number of those that cannot is too great. It may be explained either by an imperfect power in the prophet sometimes active, sometimes failing or by the fact that things are predictable in part only, they are determined in part only or else by different factors or lines of power, different series of potentials and actuals. So long as one is in touch with one line, one predicts accurately, otherwise not – or if the lines of power change, one’s prophecy also goes off the rails. All the same, one may say, there must be, if things are predictable at all, some power or plane through which or on which all is foreseeable; if there is a divine Omniscience and Omnipotence, it must be so. Even then what is foreseen has to be worked out, actually is worked out by a play of forces – spiritual, mental, vital and physical forces – and in that plane of forces there is no absolute rigidity discoverable. Personal will or endeavour is one of those forces. Napoleon when asked why he believed in Fate, yet was always planning and acting, answered, “Because it is fated that I should work and plan,” in other words, his planning and acting were part of Fate, contributed to the results she had in view. Even if I foresee an adverse result, I must work for the one that I consider should be; for it keeps alive the force, the principle of Truth which I serve and gives it a possibility to triumph hereafter, becomes part of the working of a future favourable Fate, even if the fate of the hour is adverse. Men do not abandon a cause because they have seen it fail or foresee its failure; and they are spiritually right in their stubborn perseverance. Moreover, we do not live for outward result alone; far more, the object of life is the growth of the soul, not outward success of the hour or even of the near future. The soul can grow against or even by a material destiny that is adverse.
Finally, even if all is determined, why say that Life is, in Shakespeare’s phrase or rather Macbeth’s, “a tale told by an idiot full of sound and fury, signifying nothing”? Life would rather be that if it were all chance and random incertitude. But if it is something foreseen, planned in every detail, does it not rather mean that it does signify something, that there must be a secret Purpose that is being worked up to, powerfully, persistently, through the ages, and ourselves are a part of it and fellow-workers in the fulfilment of that invincible Purpose.
December 17, 1936
Well, I have written an ecstatic poetic protest of astrology. I have not yet got your letter – Nolini is typing it. But tell me what do you think of this non-descript original poem? A new vein at least, what?
Yes, and it is very good too.
N.B. The ecstasy may be an ecstasy of pain thanks to humiliation which causes us to be underlings but nevertheless an ecstasy it is, what?
Well, one of the greatest ecstasies possible is to feel oneself carried by the Divine – not by the stars or Karma, for the latter is a bad business, dry and uncomfortable – like being turned on a machine, “yantrārūḍhāni māyayā”.) yantrāūd104
December 20, 1936
A most curious poem [kalor chokha aloi kalo] has come out just now (8.45 a.m.). I have marvelled a little what it exactly conveys??Eh? – but I suspect it is some genuine stuff as line after line it came, the form and all. A drop of inspiration with “kālo” [black] and “quintessence” came as I was sipping tea alone at 8 a.m. This expanded and I sat down with a feeling which was very beautiful but very vague. I started dubious – and here it is. I don’t quite follow what it is but a curious delight rasa?) is the reaction as well as the spring of this poem. I feel no need very carefully to chisel it as I usually do perhaps because I fear I may by so doing spoil it. It isn’t at all my vein – this reticence and the delicate winging imponderable perception of the far expresses what some part of me has deeply felt at odd moments under the stars many a lonely night. Please read it slowly and tell me what is it? and if it strikes you as obscure? Perhaps it is a little, what? Anyhow to me it is. But somehow I don’t want to make it (for the public?) more intelligible. O no-no-that is not my way either – has never been. So I will leave it as it is. Tell me how you find it and what is its exact sense if you possibly can find time to put it down in black and white.
So I have copied it in ink carefully. It has come in less than five or six minutes, I think. Well, I certainly feel the inspiration has come from you. I was going to start a long-demanded article on music, but the urge was so strong that I had to put it off. I am glad I did. For I find this offspring of my pen born of a curious inspiration, what?
I do not myself find either the thoughts or the expression in the least obscure. It expresses with considerable luminosity and depth the perception or rather the intuitive feeling that what seems to be dark can be really a greater, more dense and deep light than the light which the surface vision is capable of seeing – the very intensity and condensation of the light itself which withholds itself from the shallowness of all superficial seeing. Very fine intuition, kin to the Christian mystics’ experience of the Night of God, which is to the ordinary consciousness a sheer blackness bare of all things but into which one has to plunge to find that in it is all the Light and opulence and ecstasies of the Divine. It is probably because it has come to you through a feeling, and intuitive inspiration which contains more than it says that you find it obscure. That of course remains in the poem – it suggests more than it says, but the expression or form of the thought is not at all obscure. It would certainly be a mistake to alter it or try to make it more mentally explicit for that might diminish the suggestiveness. The expression is beautiful and profound and does not bear change.
December 25, 1936
No, there is no obligation of gloom, harshness, austerity or lonely grandeur in this Yoga. If I am living in my room, it is not out of a passion for solitude, and it would be ridiculous to put forward this purely external circumstance – or Anilbaran’s withdrawness which is personal necessity of his sadhana – as if it were the obligatory sign of a high advance in the Yoga or solitude the aim; these are simply incidents which none is called out to imitate. So you need not be anxious; solitude is not demanded of you, for an ascetic dryness or isolated loneliness cannot be your spiritual destiny since it is not consonant with your svabhāva [essential character or inner nature] which is made for joy, largeness, expansion, a comprehensive movement of the life-force. And, as for stern gravity and the majesty of a speechless and smileless face, your transformation into that would be terrifying to think of! I may remind you that the Mother and myself always recommended to you a sunlit and cheerful progress as the best; if we were inclined to complain of anything in you – which we are not, knowing that one does not choose one’s difficulties – it would not be that you have too much gaiety but that you are not always as gay and cheerful as we would like you to be! The storm, cloud, difficulty, suffering come, but they are no part of the yogic idea; they belong to the Nature that is now, not to the divine Nature that is to be.
December 1936 (?)
(...) P.S. Forgive a little humour in sorrow: my father used to be renowned for it; one of his humour characters (Dileer Khan) said to Aurangzeb: “ache jānen jānhapanā Icanm hāsya bole ektā jinis?” [There is a thing called pathetic smile, do you know my Lord?]
This is karun hasya if you will: –
In Bengali there is a saying (homely adage): Aat debar bhātār nan, kil mārbār gossain
Your Yoga, O Supramental Representative, is like this lord, I felt smiling in sorrow: which translated in doggerel would be: (Please read it out to Mother dear, as Bengali humour is a wee bit similar to French)
“You can’t O husband give me rice ‘tis true
Yet can you not give blows till I am blue?”
Literally true, isn’t it? Your Yoga having no process, no way of approach, but an easy enough exit (in shipwreck) through storms of suffering arising from trivial stumbles but no reward for long abstinences or efforts to be gallant in dryness, what? It is supramental indeed – an inspiration – yours. Forgive a little wicked smile, won’t you? After a lot of virtuous [wry] face.
I have no objection to the karuṇa hāsya about my Yoga, because I know that when you get to the other side of it there is an ānandamaya hāsya it replace it. The bhāt is there, but it has to be cooked first and a vessel is needed to cook it. Raw rice would not be pleasant and even if people took a taste for it, it might be indigestible.
As for the blows, well, are they always given by the Yoga – is it not sometimes the sadhak of the Yoga who gives blows to himself? There are plenty of blows too in ordinary life, according to my experience. Blows are the order of existence, and of Yoga; our nature and the nature of things bring them upon us until we learn to present to them a back which they cannot touch.
In any case, glad of the smile. May it [turn] into a ray of the sun dispersing the clouds.
Raihana writes Padmaja has told a friend others that hypnotising, etc. is agog in the Ashram. Raihana has indignantly told her friend it is all lie. What a detestable woman this Padmaja, eh?
She is herself – as for her attitude it is the result of a quarrel with Dara who was imprudent enough to try to propagandize her. The “hypnotising” is the usual parrot patter of those who do not want to admit any such thing as a spiritual influence. One might just as well say that Gandhi has hypnotised India – that a mental, moral or temperamental influence is a thing they are familiar with though they don’t understand in the least what it is, so it is admitted.
January 3, 1937
Having led a faultless, nay, immaculate life for long I have had a fall of frivolity today. I was going to the pier this morning to write there another diaphanous poem when I sat down to scribble a few lines to Professor Sarcar and Professoress as they have just sent a tin of mustard oil and some muri [puffed rice], when lo, dushta [mischievous] sarasvatī tripped onto my pen and this Shuk-Sārī Sangbad105 of unpardonable unyogic levity was the horrific result. You know the rural style of Shuk-Sārī Sangbad, eh? My father wrote a la Shuk Sārī Sangbad a rollickingly undevout Krishna-Radha Sangbad (Shuk says something in praise of his Krishna, Sarī contradicts with cogent arguments proving to the hilt that Krishna is not a patch on her Radha. My father varied on this) (mine is not so blasphemous after all!) thus:
Krishna says, “My Radha, look at me!”
Radha says, “Why do you trouble me needlessly – I have enough troubles of my own.”
Krishna says, “All the three worlds are illumined with my beauty.”
Radha says, “If only you were not so dark! – beauty would be overflowing.” etc.
I halt in trepidation. The Lord has forgiven long enough my irreverence for His Supramental – I must be prudenter now, what?
Yet I send you – on a dare-divine mood the frivolity. Just smile a while fora change after my devout-enough poems of late, what?
P.S. The reference to yoginī is – les trois sceurs étaient bouléversees, excitées, bavardes, etc. en grande joie en mangeant Ie muri + sarsher tel106. Do you know one rejoices in muri only when sarsher tel gives its unctuous support. Now proceed please and tell me how you react to this irreverence. Too scandalized, what?
The question is not how I react to it, but how the mustard [oil] and muri react to your ribaldry. If they don’t get irritated at this irreverent attempt to bring discord into their happy ménage (made sacred and legitimate by solemn wedlock) and don’t give you an indigestion in revenge, it is allright. But such great gods ought not to be so lightly treated. If you had written a passionate lyric or a noble epic on the subject, that would have been something.
January 4, 1937
(How we laughed at your rejoinder! God bless you!)
Here’s a poem – a poem! I felt like a hero while writing it and copying it. Its fire. and glow almost made me believe I meant it all. But doubtless it is imagination catching fire, what? Still see – just see: all these heavy thoughts sublimated into a curious radiance through rhythm and fire and austerity – isn’t it? I have been reading Andre Maurois’s famous Ariel (Shelley’s life) and his idealism stirred me deeply – fascinating. That may explain this maybe? Anyhow I am delighted our language can express so much thought-stuff, with so much resilience and. subtlety. I trust you will go on shedding your austere force: I want – I love – to write some more in this new vein. But I am feeling so unmusical Guru, que faire? Do help. I must be in full training now, you see – and poetical delectation won’t give me that training, will it?
Yes, it is a poem full of energized richness of expression.
No, certainly, poetical flow, however delectable will not put you into musical training. Don’t know why you are so stuck up unless that part is lying fallow, but the moment is inopportune. Let us see if a little rain of heaven can’t make it sprout.
January 7, 1937
Today the musical inspiration has come back at long last: I have sung with gusto and verve this morning for an hour or more and this evening for about half an hour. I will sing for half an hour more after meditation. Two hours a day will be enough – but not less – and singing is an activity you can hardly do unless you feel like singing. That is why I had to trouble you. I hope this will continue.
I am working quite [a] lot at revising a French translation of Sri Ramakrishna’s sayings by a Swiss lady – given me by Herbert107. So my poetry had to stop what with singing and revising. A week later I hope to start poetry again.
I feel well and tranquil enough in my Dilipian way and delightfully free from all wrong impulses – (of late I fed myself and people a little – not too much still – from tomorrow this too I will stop) – and have done a good deal of reading as usual. I send you the first really good review of Suryamukhi that has just appeared. My savant friend Professor Mukherji wrote verses once (quite good metres) that is why he has seized what many haven’t so far. But he perhaps doesn’t know yet that Suryamukhi has changed (or at least modified) the hostility of a number of anti-Dilips. Anyhow read the review: it is good and not a perfunctory sort of tribute I think, what?
Glad the Rain of Heaven has produced the musical spirit – hope it will flourish.
A very good review. Sūryamukhi seems a success from the point of view of worth having appreciation.
January 18, 1937
Dhurjati wrote to me yesterday a short letter asking me to wire his brother (at Calcutta) your blessings on the eve of his departure for change. In sheer chagrin and vexation I tore it off and thought I would not even let you know. I utterly dislike this Kasmandaism for it is the same. Why on earth should you wire, fancy! Then suppose his brother takes an ill-turn: won’t they say with a knowing smile and wise head-shaking, “Ah-h-h! Didn’t we tell Dhurjati –”, etc. I know our Calcuttan critics and I can’t dream of being instrumental in making my guru their butt. You may not mind but I do. So I decline. If you care to wire your blessings it’s your business – not mine – for my heart is far from compassion débordante pour les gens qui n’approchent Ie Divin que lorsqu’ils sont malades108. Yet I thought it would be wrong of me not to let you know even. For you may send a force, qui sait [who knows] – in spite of Kasmandaism and Dhurjati-ism. Do, if you can afford the time – that is entirely your affair. I tell you this to tell you in all sincerity that I am disgusted – disgusted – no milder word will describe my disappointment with this Dhurjatyism and Kasmandaism under the guise ofdevotionalism and sudden-turn-ism. Humbug! You have to send your blessings by wire to his brother who (for ought we know) maybe of the type described by Shakespeare in Macbeth, “Nothing became them in life so much as their leaving it.” (I quote the idea from memory.) Even the Kasmandas didn’t dare so much, what?
P.S. Whatever you may say. Guru, I respond still with Sri Ramakrishna’s ideology, “To ask the Divine to cure this cage of flesh and bone! fie!” I was reading even the other day his prayer, “Mā erā tomār kāchhe ese ki nā prārthanā kare “rog bhālo karo – bhakti dāo e prārthanā chhere? ki hīna buddhi!” [Mother, they come to you and then pray to be cured from illnesses, instead of praying “give me bhakti!” What low mentality!] hīna buddhi indeed! “Sots” – c’est Ie mot juste, n’est-ce pas? [“Idiots” is the right word, isn’t it?] (Though by way of cautious reservation I may butt in this – that in such a moment of weak sottise [foolishness] I too may pray to be cured if I am ill – but that doesn’t invalidate the truth behind my present contempt of such prayers, i.e. of all prayers which concentrate on gifts not quintessential to Divinity like Truth, Knowledge, Purity, Fidelity, Vairagya, etc. Bless me that I may be an orthodox ascetic on this point in all sincerity. Let that be my birthday prayer anyhow.
That is all right. It is a proper spirit for the spiritual training.
Obviously to seek the divine only for what one can get out of Him is not the proper attitude; but if it were absolutely forbidden to seek Him for these things, most people in the world would not turn towards Him at all. I suppose therefore it is allowed so that they may make a beginning – if they have faith, they may get what they ask for and think it a good thing to go on and then one day they may suddenly stumble upon the idea that this is after all not quite the one thing to do and that there are better ways and a better spirit in which one can approach the Divine. If they do not get what they want and still come to the Divine and trust in Him, well, that shows they are getting ready. Let us look at it as a sort of infants’ school for the unready. But of course that is not the spiritual life, it is only a sort of elementary religious approach. For the spiritual life to give and not to demand is the rule. The sadhak, however, can ask for the Divine Force to aid him in keeping his health or recovering it if he does that as part of his sadhana so that his body may be able and fit for the spiritual life and a capable instrument for the Divine Work.
As for the wire of blessings, I do not see much necessity for it. All that is necessary is that he should send information whenever necessary.
January 19, 1937
Yes, I see that now. I have on a chit of paper just quoted your “As for the wire of blessing I see no necessity; all that is necessary is that he should inform us about his brother whenever he thinks it needful” and just posted it – with no letter at all from me. So that is that.
I have been praying a lot for a little real inner surrender of late. Yesterday I did much japa, etc, and prayed. My work too (with Herbert re. Sri Ramakrishna’s sayings of which the French translation I had to compare with the original Bengali) is finished today. He asked what would be the equivalent of vairagya in French. The translator had written désintéressement. I suggested detachement. Herbert says détachement won’t quite do in French. What then? Could you or Mother please suggest some word?
The word désintéressement is not equivalent of vairagya. I think detachement is nearer to it, for vairagya means détachement des passions, des désirs, des liens de la terre [detachment from passions, desires, bonds of the earth]. It is not perhaps quite equivalent to vairagya but I don’t know any word in French or English which has the full connotation of vairagya.
Today I could not concentrate at all – though I tried much. I was resolved to do no work till my birthday [22nd] – to concentrate on japa, etc. But I felt a strange restlessness today the like of which I have not had since my last depression in November. (I haven’t had any depression since if you will please note.) But I notice no progress in me towards spiritual consciousness and the old questionings come again, “What am J doing? Why wasting my time – on what?” My old vairagya seems a little agog and bent on giving me a little trouble. Though I don’t relish them at all. I did a lot of japa, etc. but my restlessness still remains. The old idea of solitude an d doing proper sadhana too takes hold of me. But how to set about it I do not know. I feel the beginning of a sadness and loneliness again. I am not a little afraid of the gloom it is likely to bring in its train and just on the eve of my birthday at that. If come it must, try to send me a little force that the suffering should reawake my psychic fire which had lately fallen asleep, I believe, in my latter-day cheerfulness. Cheerfulness, Guru? I have had a taste of it for two months. But a quoi bon? [What’s the use?] – this question occurs again. Does it help the fire within or only make one forget the Divine? Perhaps even depression is better than cheerfulness? Strange such old questions should revive now of all times when I want to dive more into the heart of sadhana! But there it is and I think I should let you know it all.
This movement is one that always tries to come when you have a birthday or a darshan and is obviously a suggestion offerees that want to disturb you and give you a bad birthday or bad darshan. You must get rid of the idea that it is in any way helpful for sadhana, e.g. makes you remember the Divine etc. – if it does, it makes you remember the Divine in the wrong way and in addition brings up the weakness, also depression, self-distrust etc. etc. A quoi bon cheerfulness? It puts you in the right condition for the psychic to work and without knowing it you grow in just the right perceptions and right feelings for the spiritual attitude. This growth I have been observing in you for a fairly long time now and it is in the cheerful states that it is the most active. Japa, thinking of the Divine is all right, but it must be on this basis and in company with work and mental activity, for then the instrument is in a healthy condition. But if you become restlessly eager to do nothing but japa and think of nothing but the Divine and of the “progress” you have or have not made (Ramana Maharshi says you should never think of “progress”, it is according to him a movement of the ego), then all the fat is in the fire because the system is not yet ready for a Herculean effort and it begins to get upset and think it is unfit and will never be fit. So be a good cheerful worker and offer your bhakti to the Divine in all ways you can but rely on him to work out things in you.
January 20, 1937
Well, you know what is my view about Cape Cormorin, and the Mother’s is the same. It is not that something opposite to what you pray for is granted you, but that something opposite to the aspiration rises and creates an old opposite movement of the nature. It is no use finding fault with the nature for that – I mean, the personal nature because it happens to everybody. The only thing to do is to realise and understand what is happening and refuse to identify yourself with the movement or accept it as your own – to push it always away until it feels that it is disowned and can come no more. Cape Cormorin won’t do that – not even a whole fortnight of CC.
January 20, 1937
Mother has already written to you about this morning’s pranam – she was suffering from a bad attack on her body and had some difficulty in preventing more from coming. There was no intention of coldness to you or anybody, as you can understand, though others have complained also. I hope therefore you will have thrown aside any feelings that her supposed coldness – which did not or could not exist – raised in you.
My letter was only a repetition of what you yourself have written recently, that to grow in bhakti and self-giving is the only thing and it seems to me that you have been doing that very rapidly. That you do not recognise it is natural, because the bhakta has not the pride of the jnani and is apt to think that he has done nothing. The movement of bhakta has no doubt not reached the intensity or constant insistence on the surface which would make you feel satisfied that it is there, but that is a matter of time and growth and from my experience of these things I thought it better not to try and force the speed. That was all I meant. I hope therefore you will throw away the reaction my letter caused in you and get back the poise you had gained before.
January 22, 1937
I am extremely glad to know that the worst of the attack has passed; I hope the after effects will quickly disappear. You had stood out so well for two months and repelled all incipient movements of the kind, that the sudden violence of this one was not expected – especially as the last darshan had gone off well. But when they get a chance these forces take it.
I quite agree with you in not relishing the idea of another attack of this nature. I am myself, I suppose, more a hero by necessity than by choice – I do not love storms and battles – at least on the subtle plane. The sunlit way may be an illusion, though I do not think it is – for I have seen people treading it for years; but a way with only natural or even only moderate fits of rough weather, a way without typhoons surely is possible – there are so many examples: durgaṃ pathastat110 [difficult of going is that path] may be generally true and certainly the path of laya or Nirvana is difficult in the extreme to most (although in my case I walked into Nirvana without intending it or rather Nirvana walked casually into me not so far from the beginning of my yogic career without asking my leave). But the path need not be cut by periodical violent storms, though that it is so for a great many is an obvious fact. But even for these, if they stick to it, I find that after a certain point the storms dimmish in force, frequency, duration. That is why I insisted so much on your sticking – for if you stick, the turning point is bound to come. I have seen some astonishing instances here recently of this typhoonic periodicity beginning to fade out after years and years of violent recurrence.
These things are not part of the normal difficulties, however acute, of the nature but especial formations – tornadoes which start (usually from a particular point, sometimes varying) and go whirling round in the same circle always till it is finished. In your case the crucial point, whatever may have been the outward starting-point if any, is the idea or feeling of frustration in the sadhana; once that takes hold of the mind, all the rest follows. That again is why I have [been] putting all sorts of suggestions before you for getting rid of this idea – not because my suggestions, however useful and true if they can be followed, are binding laws of Yoga, but because if followed they can wipe out this point of danger. A formation like this is very often the result of something in past lives – the Mother has so seen it in yours – which prolongs a karmic samskar (as the Buddhists would say) and tries to repeat itself once again. To dissolve it ought to be possible if one sees it for what it is and is resolved to get rid of it – never allowing any mental justification of it, however logical, right and plausible the justification may seem to be – always replying to all the mind’s arguments or the vital’s feelings in favour of it, like Cato111 to the debaters, “Delenda est Carthago” – “Carthage must be destroyed”, Carthage in this case being the formation and its nefarious circle.
Anyway the closing idea in your letter is the right one. “The Divine is worth ferreting out even if oceans of gloom have to be crossed”. If you could confront the formation always with that firm resolution, it should bring victory. In the Mother’s vision Kali did express a wish to interfere and break the thing – I don’t know how she proposes to do it – by giving you the strength you pray for or by breaking the head of the unwelcome lodger or visitor. I hope she will soon do it.
January 25, 1937
Biren’s letter. See, I am so sorry X. attacked him thus unscrupulously. Yet what lovely letters on honesty he wrote to me from Curseong! Oh, do hum X & Co. to ashes by your brahmateja for a change? What?
Why burn them to ashes? What Biren complains of is what politicians always do in a campaign. If Biren wants to do politics he will have to meet a lot more of that and worse things and learn to bear all with a sweet ineffable grin. Politics is in that respect a kind of Yoga in which one who acquires a Baldwinian or Asquithian samatā scores best. As the Gita says, “samatvaṃ yoga ucyate” [it is equality that is meant by Yoga] and also, “yogaḥ karmasu kauśalam” [Yoga is the true skill in works], while as for X and Co. he should remember the other saying, prakṛtim yāntibhūtāni [all existences follow their nature] – bhutas and politicians also...
What happened was that your song on Ramprasad put Mother into connection with something of the past and she got transferred there and saw a scene in connection with it...
January 1937 (?)
There are people who start at once, others take time.
Anilbaran recognised the Mother as divine at first sight and has been happy ever afterwards; others who rank among Mother’s devotees took years to discover or admit it, but they arrived all the same. There are people who had nothing but difficulties and revolts for the first five, six, seven or more years of the sadhana, yet the psychic ended by awaking. The time taken is a secondary matter: the one thing needful is – soon or late, easily or with difficulty to get there. H’s case is different. His insincerity came in his wanting to carry on his lower devil and higher angel in one happy family team, or to pretend that the latter did not exist shouting when he was in revolt or misery, “I am great, I am glorious, I am full of light and love, etc. etc.” He tried to get rid of his difficulties by ignoring them or pretending they were not difficulties but only little amusing gambols of his nature.... I would suggest to you to drop irrelevant comparisons and go ahead on your own way till the light that is beginning to dawn becomes the full day-light.
February 5, 1937
Well, yes, X had a bad fan after last August and she couldn’t right herself, because she did not take the right poise back that she had before. As for others and pranam, well, some people find themselves getting on famously with the morning meditation while others are desolate over the (temporary) lost pranam. These things go according to temperament and for the sun and shadow there seems to be no one law for all, nānā patho hi loke [many are the paths for men] and not nānā rucih [many tastes] only.
I do not disapprove of your resolution – my only point is that it should be done without the sadness, fear of depression or depression coming in. If the strength and steadiness can face and not flinch before the dryness, then the dryness won’t be there always: it is the upheavals (of the wrong kind) that are to be avoided. Something is growing in you, but it is all inside – still if there is the steady persistence it is bound to come out. For instance, this white dazzling light with currents, it is a sure sign of the Force (the Mother’s) entering and working in the ādhār [receptacle] but it came to you in sleep – that is to say, in the inner being, still behind the veil. The moment it came out, the dryness would disappear. My idea was that till it did come out and till the fear of the depression was no longer there, poetry and music should go hand in hand with a moderate amount of meditation. Still, if the urge to long meditations is there, I do not disapprove. Only keep your resolution firm that whatever the difficulty, you will keep on till you go through.
February 10, 1937
I am afraid you did not quite understand the spirit or the letter of what Mother told you on Monday. Her point was not that the Pranam was useless except to a very few, but that only some made full use of it while the others got either nothing from it or an inferior gain and that the change to Meditation had shown that many got something from this new method while from the Pranam they had drawn much less advantage. (It is a fact that many have said so – others of course have lamented the stopping of the Pranam on the ground that they felt empty and could not draw anything from the Meditation.) Under these circumstances the idea has arisen of varying the method maintained up till now and alternating between Pranam and Meditation. That was what she was trying to explain to you.
On the other point of the wrong attitude of many of the sadhaks – about her smile; in the first place agacé does not mean irritated; it is the mildest possible word to express a certain contrariety, a slight and very mild feeling of impatience at something unreasonable. Secondly, she did not say that it was people missing her smile when she did not smile that agaced her, but that it was wrong complaints, their missing or rather refusing to acknowledge her smile when she did smile and attack her therefore – for it was not usually sorrow their letters expressed but anger, revolt or displeasure. Hundreds of times it has happened like that – even when she saw that the sadhak was morally out of sorts and did her best to cheer him by kindness, sympathy, her sweetest smile, he or she would write that Mother had refused him or her a smile, had been hard and angry, had shown a frowning displeasure. Very often she was accused of giving the wrong kind of smile, of giving a satiric or ironic smile – an intention of which she had been utterly unconscious and had not entertained a moment – or somehow or other not the smile the sadhak had wanted. Moreover it was often added that she had smiled on everybody else, but reserved her harshness only for one alone – and sometimes several people would write that on the same day! Moreover these things were discussed, the Mother’s attitude to the sadhaks watched, estimated, slight variations made big things of, a table of intentional rewards and punishments, of the Mother’s approval or displeasure built upon that – though such an idea was as far as possible from the Mother’s mind. Now are not these things, especially when carried to excess and constantly repeated, agacant and is it so unreasonable for the Mother to feel agaced by them – to feel some contrariety or a slight impatience? Would not anybody if he got day after day a correspondence full of such confounded complaints, reproaches, expressions of anger, sometimes something like abuse, be drawn to feel some ripple of agacement? Is all that really in all cases – as in your own, which was not in question – the outcome of a feeling of the heart’s dependence on the Mother? Is it altogether (apart from any idea of self-giving) the right attitude for a sadhak in the Pranam? I thought not and that was why I sometimes said to the Mother that if that was all the use so many made of the Pranam, it might be better to stop it rather than that it should be the occasion of such self torment and revolts as were expressed in these letters. I did not stop it, however – I only wrote to many pointing out the unreasonableness of this attitude and that has had a certain effect. My suggestion of stopping was merely an expression of agacement, a momentary grumble sometimes maybe permitted even to us – it was nothing more.
I may add that Mother had not spoken of self-giving and not demanding – what she said was that people should be more concentrated to receive what she could give them than occupied wholly with such external things. Nor was she thinking at all of you as a complainant – for you have not given her this kind of trouble.
Finally, when the Mother was explaining the thing to you, she did it smilingly, not in any spirit of irritation or displeasure. So I think you will see that you need not have taken it so much to heart, still less taken it for yourself. It was not aimed at you in the least degree.
All that was said had regard to the proposed change which would vary Pranam with Meditation – not stop Pranam alto gether. It had nothing to do with the temporary rest taken by the Mother – that was absolutely indispensable. I had often asked her to take some rest before but she had refused because it might disturb the sadhaks too much – what happened made the break physically indispensable. The sadhaks ought to concede that much to her after she has laboured night and day for so many years without giving herself any real rest even at night. You yourself wrote asking her to take the rest she needed. Even so she did not fail to begin going down morning and evening and renewing interviews as soon as it was physically possible.
Your description of the Avatars is magnificent in colour – I wish it were a sober fact that the Divine refuses us nothing – if He would start doing that, it would be glorious and I should not at all insist on constant beatitude. But from his representatives, Vibhutis and Avatars he rather exacts a good deal and expects them to overcome under rather difficult conditions. No doubt they do not call for compassion – but, well, surely you can permit them an occasional divine right to a grumble? Most of them have grumbled – at least once or twice – and ours, like Mother’s about the agacement or mine about the tons of correspondence is a semi-humorous plainte [complaint].
P.S. I don’t know why you should fear the Mother will refuse you her smile at the Darshan time – she has never done so and has no intention of doing so. All these fears should be dismissed – it is only they that spoil things which would otherwise go all right.
February 11, 1937
I will certainly send all the force available and hope the neck will lose its undesirable tendency to stiffness and other things again tend to OK-ness.
The Divine may be difficult, but his difficulties can be overcome if one keeps at Him. Even my smilelessness was overcome which Nevinson112 had remarked with horror more than twenty years before – the most dangerous man in India, Aurobindo Ghose “the man who never smiles”. He ought to have added, “but who always jokes”; but he did not know that, as I was very solemn with him, or perhaps I had not developed sufficiently on that side then. Anyhow if you could overcome that, you are bound to overcome all the other difficulties also.
February 12, 1937
Certainly you can arrange Thursday for Baron113. Monod-Herzen114 spoke to Pavitra about him and Pavitra said he could come but as yet he has not turned up. Of course we did not hear of his surrealism, only of his desire to contact a spiritual centre like this while he was in India. That of course (I mean his surrealism) makes him more interesting.
I really can’t tell you what surrealism is, because it is something – at least the word is – quite new and I have not read either the reliable theorists of the school nor much of their poetry. What I picked up on the way through certain reviews, etc. was that it was a poetry based on the dream-consciousness, but I don’t know if this is correct or merely an English critic’s idea of it. The inclusion of Beaudelaire115 and Valery116 seems to indicate something wider than that. But the word is of quite recent origin and nobody spoke formerly of Beaudelaire as a surrealist or even of Mallarme117. Mallarme was supposed to be the founder of a new trend of poetry, impressionist and symbolist, followed in varying degrees and not by any means in the same way by Verlaine118, Rimbaud119, both of them poets of great fame – Verlaine is certainly a great poet and people now say Rimbaud also, but I have never come across his poetry except in extracts – and developing in Valery and other noted writers of today. It seems that all these are now claimed as part of or the origin of the surrealist movement. But I cannot say what are the exact boundaries or who comes in where. I suppose if Baron communicates to you books on the subject or more precise information, we shall know more clearly now. In any case surrealism is part of an increasing attempt of the European mind to escape from the surface consciousness (in poetry as well as in painting and in thought) and grope after a deeper truth of things which is not on the surface. The Dream consciousness as it is called – meaning not merely what we see in dreams, but the inner consciousness in which we get into contact with deeper worlds which underlie, influence and to some extent explain much in our lives, what the psychologists call the subliminal or the subconscient (the latter a very ambiguous phrase) offers the first road of escape and the surrealists seem to be trying to force it. My impression is that there is much fumbling and that more often it is certain obscure and not always very safe layers that are tapped. That accounts for the note of diabolism that comes in in Beaudelaire, in Rimbaud also, I believe, and in certain ugly elements in English surrealist poetry and painting. But this is only an impression.
Nirod’s poetry (what he writes now) is from the Dream Consciousness, no doubt about that. It has suddenly opened in him and he finds now a great joy of creation and abundance of inspiration which were and are quite absent when he tries to write laboriously in the mental way. This seems to be to indicate either that the poet in him has his real power there or that he has opened to the same Force that worked in poets like Mallarme. My labelling him as surrealist is partly – though not altogether – a joke. How far it applies depends on what the real aim and theory of the surrealist school may be. Obscurity and unintelligibility are not the essence of any poetry – and except for unconscious or semiconscious humorists like the Dadaists120 – cannot be its aim or principle. True dream poetry (let us call it so for the nonce) has and must always have a meaning and a coherence. But it may very well be obscure or seem meaningless to those who take their stand on the surface or “waking” mind and accept only its links and its logic. Dream poetry is usually full of images, visions, symbols, phrases that seek to strike at things too deep for the ordinary means of expression. Nirod does not deliberately make his poems obscure, he writes what comes through from the source he has tapped and does not interfere with its flow by his own mental volition. In many modernist poets there may be labour and a deliberate posturing, but it is not so in his case. I interpret his poems because he wants me to do it, but I have always told him that an intellectual rendering narrows the meaning – it has to be seen and felt, not thought out. Thinking it out may give a satisfaction and an appearance of mental logicality, but the deeper sense and sequence can only be apprehended by an inner sense. I myself do not try to find out the meaning of his poems, I try to feel what they mean in vision and experience and then render into mental terms. This is a special kind of poetry and has to be dealt with according to its kind and nature. There is a sequence, a logic, a design in them, but not one that can satisfy the more rigid law of the logical intelligence.
About Housman’s121 theory, it is not merely appeal to emotion he posits as the test of pure poetry – he deliberately says that pure poetry does not bother about intellectual meaning at all – it is to the intellect nonsense. He says that the interpretations of Blake’s famous poems rather spoil them – they appeal better without being dissected in that way. His theory is questionable, but that is what it comes to; he is wrong in using the word “nonsense” and perhaps in speaking of pure and impure poetry. All the same, to Blake and to writers of the Dream Consciousness, his rejection of the intellectual standard is quite applicable.
No time to say more. I am reading your article on Bhatkhande122. A very keen and powerful face, full of genius and character.
February 13, 1937
About your points
(1) I have answered this in my former letter. If the surrealist dream experiences are flat, pointless or ugly, it must be because they penetrate only the “subconscious” physical and “subconscious” vital dream layers. Dream consciousness is a vast world in which there are many provinces and kingdoms, but ordinary dreamers penetrate consciously only to these layers which belong to what may properly be called subconscious. When they pass into sleep beyond these, the recording surface dream-mind becomes unconscious and gives no transcript of what is seen and experienced there, or else in coming back these fade away and are quite forgotten before one reaches the waking state. But when the dream-state becomes more conscious, one can often remember the deeper dream-experiences and these have a considerable interest and significance.
(2) It is only the subconscious that is chaotic in its dream sequences – for its transcriptions are fantastic and often mixed, combining a jumble of different impressions; some from the past or outward touches pressing on the sleep-mind some from successive dream-experiences that are not really part of one connected experience – as if a gramophone record were to be made up of snatches of different songs all jumbled together. The vital dreams are often coherent in themselves and only seem incoherent to the waking intelligence because the logic and law of sequences is different – if one gets the guiding clue and has some dream-experience and dream-insight, then one is able to seize the sequences and make out the significance which is often very profound or very striking. Deeper in we come to perfectly coherent dreams recording the experience of the inner vital and inner mental planes or the psychic – the latter usually are of a great beauty. Some of these however are symbolic, many in fact, and can only be understood if one is familiar with or gets the clue to the symbols.
(3) It depends on the nature of the dreams. If they are of the right kind, they need no aid of imagination to be converted into poetry. If they are significant, imagination in the sense of a free use of mental invention might injure their truth and meaning – unless of course the imagination is an inspired vision coming from the same plane and filling out or reconstructing the recorded experience so as to give more fully the Truth held in it.
(4) The word psyche is used by most people to mean anything belonging to the inner mind, vital or physical. Poetry does come from there or from the supraconscient sometimes; but it does not come usually through the forms of dreams – it comes either through word-vision or through conscious vision and imagery whether in a fully waking or an inward-drawn state. The latter may go so far as to be a state of samādhi – svapna samādhi. Dreams also can be made a material for poetry; but everyone who dreams or has visions or has a flow of images cannot by that fact be a poet. To say that a predisposition and discipline is needed to bring them to light in the form of written words is merely a way of saying that it is not enough to be a dreamer, one must have the poetic faculty and some training. Unless they mean something else than what the words would naturally signify. What is possible however is that by going into the inner (what is usually called the subliminal) consciousness – this is not really subconscious but a veiled or occult consciousness – or getting somehow into contact with it, one not originally a poet can awake to poetic inspiration and power. No poetry can be written without access to some source of Inspiration. Mere recording of dreams or images could never be sufficient, unless it is a poetic inspiration that records them with the right use of words and rhythm bringing out their poetic substance. On the other hand I am bound to admit that among the records of dream-experiences I get even from people unpractised in writing a good many read like a brilliant and colourful poetry that does hit – satisfying Housman’s test – the solar plexus. So much I can concede to the surrealist theory; but if they say on that basis that all can with a little training become poets – well, one needs a little more proof before one can accept so wide a statement.
P.S. I return your letter for point-comparison as perhaps my answers may not be clear enough without that.
Yes, I have read your article on Bhatkhande. Very interesting: the character came home to me as a sublimation of a type I was very familiar with when in Baroda. Very amusing his encounters with the pundits – especially the Socratic way of self-depreciation heightened almost to the Japanese pitch. His photograph you sent me shows a keen and powerful face full of genius and character.
February 16, 1937
Will you please tell me? Yesterday I was talking with Baron and his wife [Jeanne-Marie]. I had gone there to ask him to invite Dr. G. and he asked me what I felt, etc. and I found I glowed with faith in personal contact of Gurus etc., etc. etc. – truly. Guru, I felt all that, I was not insincere – it is strange whenever I come in contact with others I glow with, even, aye, radiate faith! fancy Dilip talking of faith! Yet this morning as I was talking, doubt came back again re. the usefulness of personal contact. lam troubled and I want you to help me a little. It arose like this:
Herbert had told me yesterday that Esculap Dayashankar123 had a marvellous command of French. At tea this morning my opponent’s argument was that Dayashankar might have achieved a high inner spiritual state even though he had not offered pranam as he had done. I said it was impossible – for no matter how great a sadhak your Yoga can’t be done by withdrawing from pranam. My opponent’s argument was – it was possible temporarily. I saw his point of view when he pressed home the fact that now Mother has practically cut off all personal contact we were used to – also that Rishabhchand124 and Khirod125 (high yogis, unlike the social Dilip) don’t find time to come even to meditation. I was surely cornered. Why then did you allow pranam, why does Mother meditate? It was argued that Dayashankar had an ascetic fire to do sadhana alone basing himself on inner contact above? But did not Harm, Nalinbehari, Swasti, [?] etc. all tried that and failed as you wrote once to me adding that cutting off pranam could never be good for any sadhak no matter what he says about his spiritual need of isolation. I gathered that personal physical contact with Mother was indispensable for your Yoga – but now that pranam is discredited I am out of joint and troubled? What then? Can one say that one can gallop speedily without any personal contact with Mother? Then why stay here? One could establish the inner psychic contact (on which the stress was put) from far off – as “there is no distance in the psychic?” I don’t want to encourage such doubts but rather revert to my faith: the weak-kneed personal-contact-theory – but the arguments of the strong men like Dayashankar are too strong for me and I can’t rebut them. Please help Guru, as I don’t want to float on the waves of the strong psychic currents so independent of all anchors of shore-contact.
P.S. I had thought D’s case was far from reassuring – his cutting off pranam for instance? Am I wrong there? I had felt the same about Swasti. Qu’en dites-vous?
What the deuce is all this about Dayashankar’s high spiritual state and ascetic fire? Brilliance in French doesn’t imply spiritual siddhi. Dayashankar stopped coming to pranam because he was too nervous to bear the contacts of people. His abstention shows a high state of nervousness, not a high state of sadhana. Khirod and Rishabhchand don’t abstain from pranam, only they have no time to stay long because of heavy work, but they get the personal contact. You surely know that Dayashankar is unbalanced nervously and that is why he has isolated himself, it has nothing to do with sadhana. His mind is brilliant at many parts but the nervous malady is there. You need not in the least waver in your faith in personal contact, there is nothing whatever in this argument.
February 17, 1937
What I don’t understand is why you take what other people say or think as if it were coming from the Mother or as if it were the law about Yoga. As you yourself write in this very letter we have always encouraged your friendships; I have myself written to you several times about this matter of friendship and Yoga – then why allow somebody’s opinion that Mother thinks this or that – cancel my own express pronouncement and get upset over it. Certainly Pavitra was not commissioned or authorised by the Mother to say these things, she had not even spoken to him about this matter; he expressed only his own idea about it. So you need not have any compunctions about your feelings for Baron or anybody else nor any compunctions about its incompatibility with Yoga. Once more when you have my own statement in your favour in my own [?] if illegible handwriting over my own (almost) supramental signature, that should be enough for you and other people’s ideas have no relevance.
I have read with interest your account of Baron’s talk with you. I am quite willing to help him in his aspiration if he decides to take up the inner spiritual life. We shall see him on the 21st and see what he is – everybody seems to be favourably impressed by him already.
Mother will see B. and hear his music tomorrow at 12.30. So you will come with him then.
February 18, 1937
Pavitra had no authority to say that Mother could be displeased or that you were to blame. Mother did not like that Suvrata126 should push herself like that and come, but she never had the idea that you were to blame. As it happened, you could not help it, since she practically invited herself and, as I wrote to you, we could not give her a flat refusal. So please don’t be upset or allow any feeling of malaise to linger. Sing your best, for when you do so it is something done for the Mother. Let no shadow fall on you for so trifling a matter.
February 19, 1937
It is quite true that Mother did not want Suvrata to meet Madame Lafargue127 and try to take possession of her, but that was for special reasons personal to these two. There was no reason to make this special case a general law or found the general law that nobody should ever meet anybody. Nor does it follow that people should not be invited to hear the music. This habit of turning special cases into general laws of the Yoga or rules for all is current in the Ashram but it is quite unreasonable. I may add as a matter of fact that Mother had said nothing to Pavitra about Suvrata’s self invitation, he learned of it first from you – so whatever he may have said was not in the least founded on any remark of the Mother in that connection. He only knew that she did not want these two to meet and probably got consternated by the fact that now they were likely to meet. As a matter of fact all passed off well enough and there was no such encounter.
There was nothing wrong at all in asking [?] to hear your music – why should there be? Mother says it is not a fact that she does not like drum accompaniment, only she prefers not to have it always. Perhaps she once advised you not to have the tabla accompaniment on a certain occasion, but that was because you were going to sing to Europeans who have no ear for it (unless they are exceptional) and find it therefore monotonous. Of course, those of them who have a more plastic musical ear can appreciate it.
February 22, 1937
It is not exactly that – Mother has to see Madame Marco Schiff (Monod Herzen’s mother) tomorrow at 5 p.m., so she could not see Madame Miller – by way of an interview – tomorrow (Tuesday). But she would like her to come at 4 p.m. with Lalita128 and Mother will show her the organ – it is better if she sees for herself whether the one we have will at all suit the purpose.
Mother would have answered your note herself in French, but she has not yet the free use of her eyes for reading and writing – so she asked me to answer for her.
February 24, 1937
Mother was very well impressed with Madame Miller; she is indeed what you described her to be. I hope her contact with India and with here will plant in her the seed of a peace which, as it develops, will heal the sufferings of life she has undergone and give her the inner spiritual happiness and release.
I have read Baron’s poem-letter. One would gather from it that his poetry must have one characteristic in common with the “citronnelle” as you describe it, a “beautiful perfume”.
The Mother had a very good impression of Charu and his wife129 [Bina]; but as for the drum I don’t know whether it is possible. These two weeks after the darshan it is a sort of whirl, one thing after another and all the day like that with little time for anything at leisure.
(R.R. Diwakar130, an admirer of Dilipda’s, wrote to him a letter dated 21st February 1937.)
“My dear Dada,
“Surely you need have not given me such a serious threat for paltry things as our pictures. You should reserve the threat of withholding music for something really serious. The delay in sending our photographs was due to my being really busy but now I am free once again and thanks to your good wishes and Sri Aurobindo’s blessings and Mother’s I have come out successful in the election to our provincial Council. Yesterday the photographs of all of us must have been despatched to you. I left that work to your Sister. I hope in due time you will get them.
“How nice you are coming out on a little tour. I wish we were at Bangalore but since that can’t be I hope as your Sister has proposed you will try to come to Almora from sister Raihana’s place, Baroda and give us a look up. I shall be at your service. It would be so nice if you came towards May or June but possibly it would be too hot for you. Anyway whenever it is we would welcome it. We need your music, particularly I, to raise me out of the worldly affairs [sansarik bate] where I seem to be falling. I understand Abha has requested you through her mother to record some of the songs you sang to us. I strongly support the request. Please don’t forget the folk song. How nice you are going to give out songs in records for the music lovers of Hindusthan. We need your divine music to uplift us and since you can’t yourself go about everywhere possibly, gramophone records will be the best medium.
“Hoping to have the pleasure of your darshan at a not very distant time.
“With respects to Mother, Sri Aurobindo and yourself,
(Dilipda’s note on the letter:)
Please let me know. Guru, if you did really send some force for Diwakar’s and Biren’s election. I have written to Diwakar I will offer this Rs. 160 to Mother.
Yes – for Diwakar less because I thought his election fairly sure – but a good deal in Biren’s case, as in spite of his father’s influence and money expenditure it was doubtful. Nobody I think expected such a high majority against the Congress – which was indeed much blamed for allowing an unknown zamindar to give them such a defeat.
March 1937 (?)
I have read Madame Miller’s letter. I suppose circumstances are such that she cannot stay longer in India, but I hope that the impression she has received will help her in her life there in Europe and be the beginning of an inner development of something that will be a constant support and refuge.
As for Baroda and Raihana we will see how you feel about it when the Gramophone Co. decides the date and you are about to start. I am expecting the records to be a great success.
P.S. It is sad to learn that we are under the displeasure of Tagore – we will hope however that he will come round and extend to us his “pardon” and poetic blessing once more.
I have thought of the name “Nilima” for Heddy Miller as a symbol of her aspiration.
Well, Maurice Magre131 found an inexpressible douleur [grief] in my blessed photograph! Proof that we know not
what we are.
I am glad to hear Heddy finds great peace at meditation.
March 6, 1937
A manual of Bengali Prosody is an excellent idea and I hope you will carry it out – but you are right in postponing it as the success of the musical records is now the immediate kartavyaṃ karma, the thing to be done. Thompson writes from the heights wrapping the purple cloak of his misunderstood benevolence and magnanimity around his wounded heart with a dignified but sorrowful calmness. It is rather astonishing to learn that Tagore objected to Ramakrishna’s being regarded as a great man! It is good that he should have changed his mind under whatever influence. But great men make such blunders in their estimate of contemporaries that it is after all not so astonishing perhaps as it looks at first sight!
March 7, 1937
Very well. As the urge continues, we consent to what you propose. You can go and take this rest cure in Calcutta and Almora and you can go with our full consent and blessings and without any apprehension of the dire consequences you have been threatened with as the result of your temporary absence.
I don’t know whether it is possible to get the deed of sale before next Sunday or rely on their sending it soon. These things always drag on for one reason or another; moreover the Brahman Sabha are particular about sending one of their own people, I think, and they may take their time about it – they were speaking of sending it to Bangalore when you were there. It might be better to obviate all that by signing it in Calcutta, informing beforehand that you are coming so that they may finish as soon as possible what they have to do. What Tagore or others think or say does not matter very much after all as we do not depend on them for our work but on the Divine Will only. So many have said and thought all sorts of things (people outside) about and against us, that has never affected either us or our work in the least; it is of a very minor importance.
Of course you can take from the money in the bank the monthly allowance you speak of for the time that you are outside.
I hope you will throw off your “peacelessness” and be inwardly quite at ease and happy.
March 8, 1937
There was no sternness at all in the Mother’s gaze. She was waiting for you to speak and while she did a concentration came in which she saw around you the difficulties that were troubling you in a very concrete form and she was looking how they could be counteracted and trying to counteract them – it was at this she was gazing. There was not the slightest sternness in the matter, only solicitude. Also when you spoke together afterwards, she spoke without any sternness or displeasure, in her usual manner and tried to combat your depression and make you take the matter on the basis of my letter and yours also sent in the morning. You must have come with the idea put into your mind that the Mother would be full of disapproval and opposition and displeasure. But I had already intimated to you that it was not so, that you could go with our full consent and blessings. It was with her approval that I had sent you my reply. There was therefore no true ground or room for all the dark ideas that you expressed to her and put into your evening’s letter, about death and never coming back or writing. We have said and written and done nothing to justify any such turn being given to your going out. You must remember that we have shown always nothing but kindness and affection to you and anything to the contrary in your mind has never been anything but a groundless inference or an idea raised in your mind by listening to others. You should put all this dark stuff out of your mind and go out in all serenity of spirit. Go cheerfully, enjoy the outing, do your music at Calcutta with the knowledge of our force behind you and make it an entire success, refresh your mind and nerves with the peace of the Himalayas and the company of Krishnaprem which cannot but be stimulating and put away from you all mental and nervous tension. It may be that as the Mother suggested, the obstruction will break down there and in any case the change should give you a rest of mind that cannot but be good for you. It was because you were proposing to go in that spirit and not in a dark or despairing one that I consented to your going. I want you to come back to that basis. Do not listen to anyone or anything that suggests the opposite.
March 9, 1937
I don’t know that I need say anything with regard to the other beliefs current in the Ashram of which you make mention in your letter. As for going out, the Ashram has seen Amal go out twice and return with full permission, it has recently seen Vishnu132 and Rambai133 go with the Mother’s permission, both with the full intention of returning – to say nothing of others. As for Nolina you yourself were entirely against her going and only the other day wrote condemning Tagore’s remarks about the matter. Nolina herself always took the position that she ought not to go and asked for help against the other tendency in her. If she had decided to go and told us so, nobody would have stood in her way, although we would not have been lost in admiration at the spiritual wisdom of her choice. Our view is that once the full separate spiritual life is chosen, to cling and turn back to the ordinary one is an error. But if there are circumstances that make the (temporary) departure either harmless or psychologically or otherwise inevitable then we give permission. If the sadhak goes in a spirit of revolt and defiance or goes back to the ordinary life out of egoistic ambition as Bejoy and others did then of course Mother does not wish them to come back (so long as that remains) and refuses to allow it. Also if there is treachery, as in Saurin’s case – a fact which you yourself asserted and I don’t see that it can be denied – unless he atoned or changed, there was no reason why he should return, especially as he said his sadhana was going on admirably there. Mother knew his return with an uncorrected spirit would not be good for him and events showed that she was perfectly right. But I have always noticed that whatever untoward thing happens to a sadhak, many consider that it is we whose bad qualities are to blame for it. And yet they go on accepting us as Gurus and addressing us as Divine! That is truly baffling to the reason. Perhaps it shows that there is something really supramental here!!
In your case I have given the reasons why we accept your going out. There is no ground therefore why we should not support you in your music and other undertakings there, m these respects at least you allow that you have been supported and the support has been effective – there is no reason why that shall not continue – the more so if you keep us informed as others at a distance do when they want some help in any endeavour. For the sadhana, your strong distaste (to say the least) for the methods which we find most helpful but you find grim and repellent, makes a great obstacle. But I maintain my idea that if you remain faithful to the seeking for the Divine, the day of grace and opening will come. Nobody will be more pleased than ourselves if it comes over there in the Himalayas, or for that matter anywhere. The place does not matter – the thing itself is all.
March 21, 1937
We have just received your letter forwarded by Sahana. But all the news naturally has reached us as it came in, the triumph and the vivat and the conquest even of the Parichay. That is indeed an achievement! Your book has also reached me, though I have not had time to do more than glance at it yet.
Certainly, the gentleman Ego has to be kept in view, for otherwise with all that he might grow fat like the fellow in the Bible and kick – so much coming his way in the nature of food, strong meat of eulogy and lucbis134 of appreciation from all quarters and heady wine of victory. But you know the gentleman in question very well by now and it is sufficient if you are constantly on your guard with a wary eye upon him to keep him sober.
The draft from Prithwi Singh reached us quite safely and we shall have the sum by Wednesday.
It brings the long cherished project of the Ashram Building into a near prospect provided other conditions prove to be favourable. Deo volente [God willing]!
I trust all will go on swimmingly there as it has begun – our force and blessings will be with you. Wherever any special force is needed do not fail to let us know at once.
June 3, 1937
I have always told you that you should not take what any sadhak says or thinks as authoritative or coming from me or the Mother. Even when they say that it is from me or her, it cannot be accepted, for it is often an idea of their own minds which they “think” to be ours also or a one-sided misunderstanding of what we may have said in a particular connection but which their minds apply to something with which it was not connected or to all things in general. But when they simply write to you their own ideas without referring to us at all, why on earth should you suppose or imagine that it comes from us? I know nothing of what X wrote to you, except from your own letter. What X writes is X’s, we must not be held responsible for it. For that matter no sadhak, whoever he or she may be, can stand for us in our place or speak for us. Each must be taken as speaking on his own account his own thought or feeling.
I have not the slightest idea of disowning you or asking you to go elsewhere or giving you up or asking you to abandon the Yoga or this Yoga. It is not that I insist on your finding the Divine through me and no one else or by this way only and no other; I want you to arrive and would be glad to see you do it by whichever way or with whatever help. But even if you followed another way, your place with me would remain, inwardly, physically and in every way. Even if you walked off to the Himalayas to sit in seclusion till you got the thing as I think you sometimes wanted to do, your place would remain waiting for you here. I want you to understand that clearly and not imagine all sorts of things about cutting off or displeasure or abandonment and the rest of it. Nothing could be farther from our minds or from our feeling for you.
This letter must reach you by the 7th and I am so damnably preoccupied with many issues and difficulties put by Matter before the interfering Spirit that I find it impossible to write a long letter as I used to do – I have become brief or often telegraphic by compulsion of circumstances. So I shall need time to write on the other questions involved in your letter – I hope to be able to do so when you are at Almora. I have only answered here to the main point you have raised of Sahana’s letter and our attitude.
I may add briefly that it is quite natural that you should have been able to help in the way you have described by sitting at the patient’s side and prayer – or that what you speak has a powerful effect even on sceptics. First of all there is something in you other than the outward mind which believes and knows – secondly, you have the energy and power of creation, expression, action and can easily receive the Force for these things – even if your outward mind is unaware of it. This indeed is a thing which has happened often enough to others besides you, others with less energy and vital force – they have made themselves successful instruments of the Force by a certain faith within them and a call to the Divine – nothing else is needed.
In your new poems [written at Madhupur, July] there is the force of a new inspiration in the language and the building and turns of thought, something more intense and gathered together. I think there is something less mental, a new and more vibrant note.
July 1937 (?)
Certainly, you will have my blessings on all your undertakings and what force I can give you. As for the other matter I am rather at sea as to your idea. Certainly, I am not going to write text books for the green and youthful minds of Calcutta under-graduates – if the Vice-Chancellor expects that of me, he is doomed to disappointment. As for the proposal about Anilbaran, I have no objection to it in principle, but what on earth is he going to make out of these books – I mean in the nature of a text book? These books even boiled down will be heavy going for any undergraduate. If there is any specific and feasible proposal, I shall consider it, but –
August 15, 1937
I have just – after the return of the light – been able to read your poems which are trés joli [very lovely]. No time to write today after a very strenuous 15th August (a thousand people, a nine hours sitting and [hard work] after that till 12.30 a.m.) But I was glad to get your letter and know that you have realised by your stay in Calcutta the reality of the progress made by you here – the true progress towards the change of consciousness and nature which is the basis of all the rest. Our blessings have been with you throughout and remain with you always.
August 21, 1937
Well, perhaps Tagore does feel the mixed emotions he speaks of towards you and your recent success in Calcutta would only be a sort of weight in the balance. Men’s feelings and motives are usually mixed like that and of the more sordid motives they are not always conscious.
As for Tagore, well, as I said before, human motives and feelings are mixed. Your success has, let us say, opened his eyes or his ears to your music – that is how it acts on many. But may it not also be that having heard the song from Hasi135, though only one (especially if it was from a lovely singer as you say) he may have felt the evolution of the creative genius which he could no longer deny? And if that was helped by the same discovery by others and the desire to be in the swim, well, humans are humans, even a great poet. Anyhow, if even he has committed himself to such high tribute, why not accept it – no need to look a gift horse in the mouth, even if – ...
August 30, 1937
As regards Saraswati’s question – this is not a Yoga of bhakti alone; it is or at least it claims to be an integral Yoga, that is, a turning of all the being in all its parts to the Divine. It follows that there must be knowledge and works as well as bhakti, and in addition, it includes a total change of the nature, a seeking for perfection, so that the nature also may become one with the nature of the Divine. It is not only the heart that has to turn to the Divine and change, but the mind also – so knowledge is necessary, and the will and power of action and creation also – so works too are necessary. In this Yoga the methods of other Yogas are taken up – like this of Purusha-Prakriti but with a difference in the final object. Purusha separates from Prakriti, not in order to abandon her, but in order to know himself and her and to be no longer her plaything, but the knower, lord and upholder of the nature; but having become so or even in becoming so, one offers all that to the Divine. One may begin with knowledge or with works or with bhakti or with Tapasya of self-purification for perfection (change of nature) and develop the rest as a subsequent movement or one may combine all in one movement. There is no single rule for all, it depends on the personality and the nature. Surrender is the main power of the Yoga, but the surrender is bound to be progressive; a complete surrender is not possible in the beginning not only as a will to it in the being for that completeness, but – in fact it takes time; yet it is only when the surrender is complete that the full flood of the sadhana is possible. Till then there must be the personal effort with an increasing reality of surrender. One calls in the power of the Divine Shakti and once that begins to come into the being, it at first supports the personal endeavour, then progressively takes up the whole action although the consent of the sadhak continues to be always necessary. As the Force works, it brings in the different processes that are necessary for the sadhak, processes of knowledge, of bhakti, of spiritualised action, of transformation of the nature. The idea that they cannot be combined is an error.
September 8, 1937
Nishikanta’s song is indeed exceedingly fine.
As to Sahana’s question, I am unable to say much – I have no special competence in this sphere of music and do not know on what aesthetic grounds she stands in this matter. These things are mysterious in their origin and so it is said, “De gustibus non est disputandum” – “There can be no disputing about tastes”. Some connoisseurs of music exalt Wagner136 as a god or a Titan, others speak of him with depreciation and celebrate the godhead of Verdi137 who is disdained by their opponents. Yet I suppose the genius of neither can be disputed. So far as I can make out from her statement, Sahana does not dispute your genius or the aesthetic quality of your music, but something in her does not respond – – if so, it is either a matter of temperament or it is that she is looking for something else, some other vibration than that given by your music. If it is only conservatism and unwillingness to admit new forms or new turns of execution, that is obviously a mental limitation and can disappear only with more plasticity of mind or a change of the angle of vision – I don’t know that I can say anything more – or more definite.
As for Sahana’s singing, she seems to succeed when she can forget herself in her singing and to fail when she has to think of her audience or of success and failure. That would mean that she is in a certain stage of inner development where the state makes all the difference. I would hazard the conclusion that her future as a singer on the old psychological lines hardly exists, but she has to find fully her soul, her inner self and with it the inner singer.
September 12, 1937
Yes, you can keep the money in the bank for the purposes you mention and take Rs. 25 for your monthly expenses. Mother prefers that arrangement.
Evidently if Calcutta publishers are like that – as bad as Madras merchants – writing can’t be a profitable occupation for authors in Bengal. A hundred copies sale for a novel by one of the two best-selling writers of fiction does not sound colossal! Evidently the sooner the Congress Ministers start universalising education and compel Fazlul138 to do the same in Bengal the better. But perhaps they will only insist on the teaching of Charka and cottage industries – in which case things will not be better for the authors. It makes me long for the Soviet Republic where the authors are the millionaire class. As things are in Bengal, you are served – you get the fame and Gurudas pockets the money.
You need not mind about what Sahana said to the Mother; she did not attach importance to it or believe that you were indulging in lethargy or indolence. She knows very well that you have been working with great energy for some time past. You need not have qualms about the time you give to action and creative work. Those who have an expansive creative vital or a vital made for action are usually at their best when the vital is not held back from its movement and they can develop faster by it than by introspective meditation. All that is needed is that the action should be dedicated so that they may grow by it (...)
I was not aware that my letter was formal and cold; it was written in pencil because it had to be written in haste. I confess I could not believe that youwould leave the Mother and myselfsimply because Jyotirmayi had kept up correspondence with Niren – I took it as a hasty impulse which could not last. I still refuse to believe that you can throw us away for such a motive.
I ask you not to go like this, but to keep your word about fighting out these attacks and remaining faithful to the end. These attacks of depression are designed to push you away and [?] you of the [quest?]. Do not yield to them, but keep firm (...)
(...) When the dark mood comes or overshadows, one begins to feel like that, sometimes that there never was any experience or contact, sometimes that things are getting always worse. When the good condition is there, you feel – you have often written it, surges of Bhakti, experiences that give closeness, a sense of progress, you are grateful for the energies flowing into you and do not think it would be just the same elsewhere. There is no increasing distance from the Divine – in fact during the fairly long spell of the better condition you have had, the distance was decreasing, as it always does when there is the better consciousness – for the distance is created by the consciousness alone. It is a pity you are allowing the dark spell to come back – I mean, by giving hospitality to its suggestions, especially those two great weapons of the Adversary – despondency and doubt. Prayer may not bring always an immediate response, though I believe in the end it does, if the whole being is behind it – but all experience shows the effectivity of two things, a central, if possible a complete faith and the mind’s and heart’s surrender.
1 living behind the purdah.
2 The four sonnets are: ArpanBahan
Arpan – Vairagya
Arpan – Nithari
Arpan – Aarhal
3 E. (Eli) Stanley Jones (1884-1973): A 20th Century Methodist Christian missionary and theologian, remembered for his interreligious lectures in India.
4 Subash Chandra Bose (23.1.1897). Dilipda’s intimate from their college days; a great patriot, highly intelligent; great organizational skill; politician of no mean repute; founder of the political party “Forward Block”; during WWII he formed the Indian National Army (INA) outside India. Popularly known as ‘Netaji’.
5 This text is differ with text in SABCL, volume 22 and Letters of Sri Aurobindo, 2 Ser. in very many places. But we marked these places only there, because, it seems, those texts are corrupted by editors.
6 CWSA, volume 35: whom
7 CWSA, volume 35: x’s, y’s, z’s reason
8 See Hark His Flute, book of poems by Dilipda, p. 145.
9 A Parsi lady, Amal Kiran’s (K.D. Sethna) first wife.
10 SABCL, volume 22: rather than
11 SABCL, volume 22; CWSA, volume 29: has
12 SABCL, volume 22: this
13 SABCL, volume 22; CWSA, volume 29: always
14 SABCL, volume 22: continuing
15 CWSA, volume 29: poem
16 SABCL, volume 22: are
17 Pharisee, a member of an ancient Jewish sect; a self-righteous person.
18 Sadducee, a member of a Jewish party of the time of Christ that denied the resurrection of the dead, the existence of spirits, and the obligation of the traditional oral law.
19 Frederick Edwin Smith, (1872-1930), 1st Earl of Birkenhead, a British Conservative statesman and lawyer, became Lord Chancellor (1919-22) and Secretary of State for India (1924-28) and was ennobled as the first Lord Birkenhead.
20 CWSA, volume 35: philosophical
21 CWSA, volume 35: without article
22 Chittaranjan Das (1870-1925), later called Deshbandhu (Friend of the Country), eminent lawyer, nationalist and a visionary who defended Sri Aurobindo in the Alipore Bomb Case. Peroration of the famous trial in 1908: “My appeal to you is this, that long after the controversy will be hushed in silence, long after this turmoil and agitation will have ceased, long after he is dead and gone, he will be looked upon as the poet of patriotism, as the prophet of nationalism and lover of humanity. Long after he is dead and gone, his words will be echoed and re-echoed not only in India but across distant seas and lands. Therefore I say that the man in his position is not only standing before the bar of this Court, but before the bar of the High Court of History.”
23 CWSA, volume 35: came
24 CWSA, volume 35: so make
25 SABCL, volume 22; Letters of Sri Aurobindo. 2 Ser. show
26 CWSA, volume 35: inborn or education-inculcated
27 CWSA, volume 35: the
28 Dr. Mahendranath Sarcar (1882-6.4.1954), eminent professor of Philosophy, and author of Hindu Mysticism, System of Vedantic Thought and Culture, etc.
29 Dr. Andre was the Director of Pondicherry’s Government Medical College and Hospital.
30 Rajangam was a medical student in Madras when, captivated by the Arya, he went to see Sri Aurobindo in 1921. He returned to Madras, completed his medical studies, and went back to Pondicherry in 1923. It was with the money he offered that one of the four buildings that make up the main Ashram was bought (the Library House, if I remember). His work in the Ashram? Purchases, running to the Post Office, the Treasury, etc. He passed away in 1984.
31 There is no exactly corresponding English word for Jshta Devata. We may express it as – a tutelary god, a personal deity.
32 Algernon Charles Swinburne (1837-1909), English poet.
33 George Duhamel (1844-1966), the eminent French author and critic, told Dilipda that Indian music was “indeed a novel but delightful experience with me. The music of India is without doubt one of the greatest proofs of the superiority of her civilization.” Dilipda first met him in Lugana in the early twenties and again in Paris in 1927.
34 Tota Purl: A wandering monk hailing from Punjab met Sri Ramakrishna towards the end of 1864. Sri Ramakrishna practised sadhana of Adwaita Vedanta under his guidance. He was astonished to see that Sri Ramakrishna attained ‘Nirvikalpa’ Samadhi in three days only while he could not get it in forty years of sadhana.
35 After Herbert Henry Asquith (1852-1928), first Earl of Oxford and Asquith. British Liberal Statesman and Prime Minister (1908-1916).
36 Syamaprasad Mukherjee (6.7.1901-23.6.1953), was an illustrious son of an illustrious father. Sir Ashutosh (29.6.1864-25.5.1924) was a great achiever. Among many other things – a lawyer who became a High Court Judge, a mathematician of the first water, he published twenty valuable papers on maths in ten years, he was a double M.A. and so on – he was Calcutta University’s Vice-Chancellor for four consecutive terms (1906-1914), and innovatively reorganized the University. But specifically he fought for the autonomy of the University. Later, when the British offered him again the post of Vice-chancellor, he contemptuously rejected to work under the conditionalities imposed by the Government. For that act an admiring populace called him the “Bengal Tiger”.
Syamaprasad was no mean achiever either. He brilliantly completed his law studies. In 1934 he became the Vice-chancellor of Calcutta University, and introduced new subjects. He left a mark as an educationist. But his imprint as a politician is deeper. He was a minister when Fazlul Huq formed his second ministry in Bengal in 1941. Became a Cabinet minister in Nehru Government in 1947 when India gained a fractured independence. He was also a member from Bengal of the Constituent Assembly. Following his bitter opposition to Nehru’s Pakistan appeasement policy and the government turning a blind eye to the massacre of Hindus there, he resigned. Jawaharlal was afraid of this rival. He protested the Indian Government’s Kashmir policy, was imprisoned there and died in prison in 1953 under suspicious circumstances.
At any rate it was him that Mother invited. It was under the Presidentship of Sri Syamaprasad Mukherjee that an all-India Convention was held on 24th and 25th April 1951 for the establishment of Sri Aurobindo International University Centre, Pondicherry.
37 Jaydev: an eminent poet contemporary of Lakshmana Sena, king of Bengal (c. 1180-1202 A.D.). He wrote the famous lyric Gita Govindam. Nishikanta’s poem Rajhansa was in Jaydev’s metre. Rabindranath Tagore also highly praised this song.
38 Sahana and a few other ladies used to prepare a dish for Mother and Sri Aurobindo once a week. What remained was returned and the ladies shared the offered food with a few as Guru’s blessings.
39 Musical melody. There are thirty-six Raga-Raginis in Indian musical system.
40 Kirtan: a rhythmic way of reciting mantras and devotional songs in chorus popularised by the Bhakti movements in India. A distinctive style in Bengal and Manipur.
41 After his return from Europe in 1922, “I toured India, hunting for music in the heart of din, learning new styles of our classical music...” to quote Dilipda himself.
42 At the request of the then Vice-Chancellor of Calcutta University, Dilipda wrote three text books – ‘Sangitik’, ‘Chhandasiki’ and ‘Geetashri’. (Notation books explaining in detail about Classical and Modern music.) Here he is writing about Geetashri – one of the finest notation books written in Bengali.
43 tal = rhythm, measure.
44 Atulprasad Sen (1871-1934). Bengali poet, lyricist and singer. Not influenced by Tagore, he evolved a distinct style of his own, and earned a special place in the world of Bengali songs – much helped by Dilip himself who brought his songs to the public. Atulprasad’s experiments with lyrics, tune, measure enriched Bengali songs. He was a distant cousin of Sahana’s.
45 Dwijendralal Roy (19.7.1863-17.5.1913), a dramatist, composer, singer and nationalist.
46 We think some exaggeration has crept in here.
47 John Henry Newman (1801-90). Created a Cardinal in 1879. English theologian and author; as an Anglican clergyman he was one of the founders of the Oxford or Tractarian movement.
48 Sri Kumadesh Sen, nickname Badan, was a singer. He was very fond of Dilipda’s music.
49 Chalantikā: a Bengali dictionary compiled in 1936 by Rajsekhar Bose; aka Parasuram (16.3.1880-27.4.1950).
50 Kanailal Ganguly: Came to Sri Aurobindo and Mother in 1923 at the age of 22. Mother, seeing his photograph, seems to have remarked, “A highly psychical personality”. He was given the work of a tailor in the Ashram.
51 Henri Frederic Amiel (27.9.1821-11.5.1881), Swiss critic and poet.
52 SABCL, volume 22; CWSA, volume 30; Letters of Sri Aurobindo. 2 Ser. unregenerate
53 Shailen, Anilbaran’s brother.
54 Lofty mountain of Greece, north of Delphi; associated in classical Greece with worship of Apollo and the Muses.
55 Mundaka Upanishad, Chap. Ill, Section 1, 1.
56 A new type of metre, ayugma (open syllable), yugma (closed syllable).
57 Cottar or Cotter: a farm-labourer or tenant occupying a cottage in return for labour as required.
58 Botticelli Sandro, real name Alessandro di Mariano Filipepi (1447-1510), Florentine painter of the Renaissance
59 Just a few of the roses gathered by the Isar
Are fallen, and their blood-red petals on the cloth
Float like boats on a river, waiting
For a fairy wind to wake them from their sloth.
60 To the book. The Letters of D. H. Lawrence, edited by Aldous Huxley.
61 Bilwamangal: The Sanskrit poet and author of Krishna Karnamrita. He is supposed to have been passionately attracted to Chintamani, a woman of ill repute but who nourished a deep devotion to Lord Krishna. She shows Bilwamangal the path of devotion and turns him into a saint. This story has been given a dramatic turn in plays of the same name by Girish Chandra Ghosh (1844-1914) etc.
62 The passages within brackets have been omitted from the version published in the Centenary Edition (1972).
63 Purnananda and Yogananda were both sannyasins from Bengal who settled in the Ashram in 1938 and 1932 respectively. Yogananda’s former guru, Bharat Brahmachari, was a great Yogi known to Mother and Sri Aurobindo.
64 Dilip’s English translation of this song is published in Hark! His Flute (p. 93), under the title “The Agressor”:
“Onward, onward, all to the front
With vibrant songs of victory....”
This can be sung in the same tune as Bengali.
65 Edmund Spencer (1552-1599): English poet. The Faerie Queene is his major contribution to English Poetry. It is a long dense allegory in the epic form of Christian virtues, tied into England’s mythology of King Arthur.
66 Anacreon (563-478 BCE): Greek poet, noted for his lyrics on love and wine. Only fragments of his poetry exist.
67 O.C. Ganguly (Ordhendra Kumar (1.8.1881-9.2.1974): General Secretary of Indian Society of Oriental Art. Rupam edited by O. C. Ganguly was reviewed by Sri Aurobindo in The Arya. [See note Volume 2
68 Kallol: literally, ‘billow’, here it might have been used to indicate resonance.
69 Roerich Nicholas (9.10.1874-13.12.1947), the Russian artist, settled in India. He ceaselessly pursued refinement and beauty.
70 It was to “Kalyaniya Dilipkumar Roy” that Rabindranath dedicated his book Chhanda. The quote is from the very first letter to J.D. Anderson, I. C. S., Professor of Bengali at King’s College, Cambridge, where they met on 14 July 1912. Anderson passed away on 24 October 1920, at the age of 67.
Their correspondence – in Bengali and English – throws much light on the nature of Bengali prosody. Indeed, this “foreigner” was a lover of Bengali language. He loved French too. “Bengali rythmn is a different kind of rythmn from that of all other languages, so far as I know, except French.” “... my claim on behalf of French and Bengali verse is that – verse in these languages is the greatest and finest and most supple invention in the way of metre yet accomplished by man!”
71 Yatra – an open air village opera, or theatre without any stage.
Katbakata – religious discourses (professional practice of narrating scriptural and mythological stories).
72 Professor Parabodh Chandra Sen (1897-1986): An eminent Prosodist of Bengal. The first person to develop a systematic metrical theory of Bengali and one of the luminaries of the University that Tagore conceptualized in Santiniketan.
73 Meghnad Badh: by Michael Madhusudan Dutt (1824-1873). It is an epic poem in Bengali, taken from the Ramayana, on how Ravana’s son Meghanad was killed.
74 Here are the lines from Robert Browning’s (1812-1889) How
They Brought the Good News from Ghent to Aix.
“I turned in my saddle and made its girths tight,
Then shortened each stirrup and set the pique right,
Rebuckled the check-strap, chained slacker the bit,
Nor galloped less steadily Roland a whit.”
75 It is indeed a fiery song. And when sung by the powerful voice of Dilipda... it becomes Fire itself, (editor’s note)
76 I believe that when there was no electricity Sri Aurobindo just had a wick-lamp as “substitute”.
77 Premendra Mitra (1904-1988), born in Banaras of Bengali origin. A poet of eminence in post-era Tagore, a journalist and writer of children’s’ stories. He received all the major regional and national literary awards as well as awards from Russia and the United States.
78 Dewas, a small kingdom in Madhya Pradesh.
79 Prasanta and Rene were Dara’s younger brothers. They were from an aristocratic family from Hyderabad. Prasanta, meaning pacific, was a devout Muslim and wanted to impose his will on his brothers and beautiful sisters, Chinmayi and Sudhira.
80 CWSA, volume 35: some
81 CWSA, volume 35: recess
82 CWSA, volume 35: the errors
83 SABCL, volume 22; Letters of Sri Aurobindo. 2 Ser. come in in trying
84 CWSA, volume 35: crumbled
85 SABCL, volume 22; Letters of Sri Aurobindo. 2 Ser. or
86 CWSA, volume 35: overgrown
87 SABCL, volume 22; Letters of Sri Aurobindo. 2 Ser. in places
88 This is a line from AE’s poem “Krisna”.
89 sanskrita totaka: a poetical metre in Sanskrit.
90 Tukaram: famous poet and saint of Maharashtra. He was a senior contemporary of Shivaji I on whom his poems and teaching had a great influence.
Mirabai (1498-1547) was the daughter of Raja Ratan Singh, married to Bhoj Raj Rana, ruler of Mewar. She became a mendicant in the name of Lord Krishna and went to Vrindavan to her Guru. She left her body at Dwarka. She composed songs which have become very popular and are sung everywhere in India.
Tulsidas (1532-1623): a Hindi poet and saint who lived in Benares. He wrote the famous Ramacharitamanasa which is a Hindi version of the Ramayana. Surdas (1478-1581): A medieval poet and singer who was born blind and whose descriptions of the life of the child Krishna are the highlights of his collection of poetry called the Sursagar.
Alvars: South Indian saints who in the 7th to 10th century wandered from temple to temple singing ecstatic hymns in adoration of Vishnu. The songs of the Alvars rank among the world’s greatest devotional literature. Shaiva poets composed hymns to Shiva.
91 Charu Chandra Dutt (16.6.1876 – 22.1.1952) served as judge at several places in Western India. He was a revolutionary and met Sri Aurobindo in 1904 in Baroda and was then in contact with him until 1910.
In 1940, Charu Dutt met again Sri Aurobindo in Pondicherry and then he and his wife, Lilabati, settled in the Ashram where they spent the last years of their life.
92 Wife of Tulsi, a Gujarati sadhak. First death in the Ashram had shaken a lot of sadhaks. For further details the reader may see Nirodbaran’s “Correspondence with Sri Aurobindo”.
93 Khagendranath Mitra, Raibahadur (1880-1961). Author. Professor and Head of the department of Bengali, Calcutta University, which he represented at the International Linguistic Congress held in Norway (1936). He was an eminent exponent of kirtan music.
94 Comments on the poem: Astik. (Madhu Murali, 1st ed. p. 155)
95 For the uninitiated reader: Nīlakaṇṭha is another name of Shiva; because when he drank the world-anihilating poison his throat (kaṇṭha) became blue.
96 The passages within brackets have been omitted from the version published in the Centenary Edition (1972).
97 The passage within brackets have been omitted from the version published in the Centenary Edition (1972).
98 [We suppose the reference is to the letters of 10 and 11 November 1936. We quote the relevant parts (Correspondence with Sri Aurobindo, vol. 2, pp. 744 and 745):]
I have been furiously thinking what is the use of blessed
literature after all, if the nature remains just the same?
Good heavens! Where did you get this idea that literature can transform people? Literary people are often the most impossible on the face of the earth.
Is literature ever going to transform the nature?
I don’t suppose so. Never did it yet.
I didn’t mean that literature can transform people. We may have progressed in literature, but the outer human nature remains almost the same.
Outer human nature can only change either by an intense psychic development or a strong and all-pervading influence from above. It is the inner being that has to change first – a change which is not always visible outside. That has nothing to do with the development of the faculties which is another side of the personality.
99 Sir Akbar’s (the Dewan of the Nizam of Hyderabad) family. Ali was the son, Alys was the daughter-in-law. Ali-Alys’ children, Bilkis and Adil came later.
100 Jatindra Prasad Bhattacharya (20.5.1890-14.3.1975). Poet who contributed regularly to top Bengali magazines such as Bharatbarsha, Prabasi, Manasi, Bharati, etc.
101 “It knows that this active state of love should be constant and impersonal, that is to say, altogether independent of circumstances and persons, since it cannot and should not be concentrated on any of them in particular.” (Mother’s Prayers and Meditations, 21 December 1916.)
102 “... (for) love is sufficient unto itself and has no need of any reciprocity”...
103 punarmusika: a Sanskrit idiom which literally means, “going back to the state of being a mouse”, signifying a lapse into one’s original state. The expression is derived from a story in the Panchatantra about a mouse that sought a boon from a Rishi to be able to take any form as desired to overcome the limitations of its puny existence but runs into life-threatening situations in every other higher form of life it assumes. Finally it decides to return to its original form.
104 The Lord is stationed in the heart of all existences, O Arjuna, and turns them all round and round mounted on a machine by his Maya. [Gita, 18.61 // Essays on the Gita p. 522, Cent. Ed.].
105 Title of a poem: “Conversations between Siuk and Sārī” (a parrot couple).
106 The three sisters were overwhelmed, excited, talkative, etc., in great joy while eating the puffed rice (murij + mustard oil.
107 Jean Herbert (1897-1980) – a Swiss national working in the League of Nations. He was translating Sri Aurobindo’s The Life Divine into French with a team of translators.
108 My heart is far from overflowing compassion for people who approach the Divine only when they are sick.
109 CWSA, volume 29: on
110 Katha Upanishad, 1.3.14.
111 Marcus Porcius Cato (234-149 BCE): Roman statesman surnamed “The Censor”. His speeches were principally directed against the young free-thinking and loose-principled nobles of the day. He often ended his speeches thus: ‘Carthage must be destroyed’, before the 3rd Punic War in which Carthage was actually destroyed.
112 H.W. Nevinson (1856-1941). War correspondent and novelist – for further details see Mother’s Chronicles, Book V, Mirra Meets the Revolutionary.
113 Francois Charles Baron (1900). Administrator of Chandernagore. Later after WWII, he came as the Governor of French India. In his book Le chemin de bonheur Baron speaks of his quest.
114 Gabriel Monod-Herzen (1899), Doctores-Science.
115 Charles Pierre Baudelaire (1821-67), French lyric poet, author of Les fleurs du mal.
116 Paul Valery (1871-1945).
117 Stephane Mallarme (1842-98), French symbolist poet; author of Uapres-midi d’un faune.
118 Paul Verlaine (1844-96), French lyric poet belonging to the Symbolist movement.
119 Arthur Rimbaud (1854-91), French symbolist poet.
120 Dadaists: Post-World War I cultural movement in visual arts and literature.
121 Alfred Edward Housman (1859-1936), English classical scholar and lyric poet; author of A Shropshire Lad, etc.
122 Vishnu Narayan Bhatkhande (1860-1936): Most important Hindustani musicologist and composer of the 20th Century. Born into a cultured Maharastrian family in Balukeshwar, Bombay, Bhatkhande acquired his sweet voice and initial training from his mother. He learnt the flute, sitar and vocal music from some very eminent gurus. Along with his academic studies, he devoted nearly 15 years to the study of all the available ancient music-treatises in Sanskrit, Telugu, Bengali, Gujarati, Urdu, German, Greek and English with the help of scholars and interpreters. He also became proficient in Sanskrit.
123 Esculap Dayashankar: Dr. Dayashankar came from a place near Pattan in Gujarat. He was a qualified Ayurvedic doctor, at one time in charge of the Ashram Dispensary.
124 Rishabhchand (3.12.1900-25.4.1970) was born in West Bengal and had a brilliant academic career in Berhampur and at Presidency College, Calcutta. He then turned to the non-co-operation movement and founded the renowned Indian SilkHouse in Calcutta in 1926. He came in contact with Sri Aurobindo and settled in Pondicherry in 1931. He was in charge of Furniture Service of the Ashram. He wrote many books on Sri Aurobindo’s and Mother’s work, notable among them Sri Aurobindo – His Life Unique
125 Khirod, in charge of Building Service. He was an ex-Headmaster.
126 Suvrata: Mme Yvonne Gæbelé, a French lady from Pondicherry who used to visit the Ashram and give French lessons. She was the Mayor’s wife. She was also the Director of Archaeological Dept. of Pondy for several terms.
127 Madame Lafargue: a French lady who came to the Ashram and stayed for more or less long periods from 1937 to 1941. She taught French and the violin. Mother called her Suryakumari.
128 Amal Kiran’s first wife
129 Charu Battacharya, aka Bengal, aka Motakaka. Later they became residents of the Ashram
130 R.R. Diwarkar: Author of Mahayogi Sri Aurobindo. Minister of Information and Broadcasting under Nehru (1948-52) and then Governor of Bihar (1952-57).
131 Maurice Magre (1877-1941): A French poet and intellectual came to the Ashram in 1933. His impressions are recorded in his book A la poursuite de la sagesse [In Pursuit of Wisdom]. It was in answer to his question that Sri Aurobindo wrote The Riddle of This World.
132 Vishnu Prasad Doctor. A Gujarati disciple, Puraniji’s student and secretary. He was a good gymnast and later taught malkhamb to young boys.
133 Rambai: A Marwari lady disciple.
134 Luchi: a kind of small and thin saucer-shaped bread fried in ghee.
135 Hasi or Uma Bose (22.1.1921-22.1.1942): A ‘lovely singer’, sang like a nightingale.
136 Wilhelm Richard Wagner (1813-83). Celebrated German composer of operas: “The Ring of the Nibelungen”, “Tristan and Isolde”, “Parsifal”, etc.
137 Giuseppe Fortunino Francesco (1813-1901), Italian composer of operas and church music.
138 AK Fazlul Huq. (1873-1962), statesman, public leader and holder of many high political posts including Chief Minister of undivided Bengal (1937-43).