Sri Aurobindo on Himself
Reminiscences and Observations
Last Word in Human Nature
Lies? Well, a Punjabi student at Cambridge once took our breath away by the frankness and comprehensive profundity of his affirmation: ‘Liars! But we are all liars!’ It appeared that he had intended to say ‘lawyers’, but his pronunciation gave his remark a deep force of philosophic observation and generalisation which he had not intended! But it seems to me the last word in human nature. Only the lying is sometimes intentional, sometimes vaguely half-intentional, sometimes quite unintentional, momentary and unconscious. So there you are!...
Of course you are right about the lies – these are of all sorts – and also about all men being durācāra,– only some are virtuous durācāras, some sinful ones and some a mixed lot! I don't mean to deny that there are Harischandras and Shukadevas here and there but. one has to take a microscope or a telescope to find them.
Q: Do you think your I.C.S. examination answer papers of 1892 have been preserved by the authorities? I was thinking of getting them if possible, in order to preserve them as a relic with us. Perhaps they do not give them out or they might have disposed of them.
A: Not likely that they keep such things.
Taste of Mahratta Cookery
I hope your dinner at Dewas did not turn out like my first taste of Mahratta cookery – when for some reason my dinner was non est and somebody went 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 bring down the whole of London in one wild agonising swoop of flame!
Charm of Kashmir
Quite agree with your estimate of Kashmir. The charm of its mountains and rivers and the ideal life dawdling along in the midst of a supreme beauty in the slowly moving leisure of a houseboat – that was a kind of earthly Paradise – also writing poetry on the banks of the Jhelum where it rushes down Kashmir towards the plains. Unfortunately there was the over-industrious Gaekwar to cut short the Paradise! His idea of Paradise was going through administrative papers and making myself and others write speeches for which he got all the credit. But after all, according to the nature, to each one his Eden.
When I knew him the Gaekwar was a free-thinker without any religion; I don't know if he has altered his views since. Formally, he is of course a Hindu.
The Age of Swami Brahmananda
There is no incontrovertible proof. 400 years is an exaggeration. It is known however that he lived on the banks of the Narmada for 80 years and when he arrived there, he was already in appearance at the age when maturity turns toward overripeness. He was when I met him just before his death a man of magnificent physique showing no signs of old age except white beard and hair, extremely tall, robust, able to walk any number of miles a day and tiring out his younger disciples, walking too so swiftly that they tended to fall behind, a great head and magnificent face that seemed to belong to men of more ancient times. He never spoke of his age or of his past either except for an occasional almost accidental utterance. One of these was spoken to a disciple of his well known to me, a Baroda Sardar, Mazumdar (it was on the top storey of his house by the way that I sat with Lele in Jan. 1909 and had a decisive experience of liberation and Nirvana). Mazumdar learned that he was suffering from a bad tooth and brought him a bottle of Floriline, a toothwash then much in vogue. The Yogi refused saying, “I never use medicines. My one medicine is Narmada water. As for the tooth I have suffered from it since the days of Bhao Girdi.” Bhao Girdi was the Maratha General Sadashiv Rao Bhao who disappeared in the Battle of Panipat1 and his body was never found. Many formed the conclusion that Brahmananda was himself Bhao Girdi, but this was an imagination. Nobody who knew Brahmananda would doubt any statement of his – he was a man of perfect simplicity and truthfulness and did not seek fame or to impose himself. When he died he was still in full strength and his death came not by decay but by the accident of blood-poisoning through a rusty nail that entered into his foot as he walked on the sands of the Narmada. I had spoken to the Mother about him, that was why she mentioned him in her Conversations2 which were not meant for the public – otherwise she might not have said anything, as the longevity of Brahmananda to more than 200 years depends only on his own casual word and is a matter of faith in his word. There is no ‘legal’ proof of it. I may say that three at least of his disciples to my knowledge kept an extraordinary aspect and energy of youth to a comparatively late or quite advanced age – but this perhaps may be not uncommon among those who practise both Raja and Hatha Yoga together.
Sister Nivedita and Sister Christine
I knew very well Sister Nivedita (she was for many years a friend and a comrade in the political field) and met Sister Christine,– the two closest European disciples of Vivekananda. Both were Westerners to the core and had nothing at all of the Hindu outlook; although Sister Nivedita, an Irish woman, had the power of penetrating by an intense sympathy into the ways of life of the people around her, her own nature remained non-oriental to the end. Yet she found no difficulty in arriving at realisation on the lines of Vedanta.
‘The Most Dangerous Man in India’
The Divine may be difficult, but His difficulties can be overcome if one keeps at Him. Even my smilelessness was overcome which Nevinson had remarked with horrors more than twenty years before – ‘the most dangerous man in India’, Aurobindo Ghosh 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 – my smilelessness – you are bound to overcome all the other difficulties also.
Austere and Grand!
Q: The 0vermind seems so distant from us, and your Himalayan austerity and grandeur takes my breath away, making my heart palpitate!
A: O rubbish! I am austere and grand, grim and stern! every blasted thing I never was! I groan in an un-Aurobindian despair when I hear such things. What has happened to the common sense of all of you people? In order to reach the Overmind it is not at all necessary to take leave of this simple but useful quality.
Common sense by the way is not logic (which is the least commonsense-like thing in the world), it is simply looking at things as they are without inflation or deflation – not imagining wild imaginations – or for that matter despairing ‘I know not why’ despairs.
Pain and Physical Ananda
As for Divine rapture, a knock on head or foot or elsewhere can be received with the physical Ananda of pain or pain and Ananda or pure physical Ananda – for I have often, quite involuntarily, made the experiment myself and passed with honours. It began by the way as far back as in Alipore Jail when I got bitten in my cell by some very red and ferocious-looking warrior ants and found to my surprise that pain and pleasure are conventions of our senses. But I do not expect that unusual reaction from others. And I suppose there are limits.
Prayer, not a Machinery
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 Mesho, K. K. Mitra, editor of Sanjibani, 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.
X'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, Arise’ leads to the swelled head or the formula – can't be avoided when Mr. Everyman deals with things divine. I had the same kind of violent objection to Gurugiri, but you see I was obliged by the irony of things or rather by the inexorable truth behind them to become a Guru and preach the Guruvada. Such is Fate.
I have no special liking for the ideal of Shiva, though something of the Shiva temperament must necessarily be present. I never had any turn for rejection of the money power nor any attachment to it. One has to rise above these things; but it is precisely when one has risen above that one can more easily command them.
It depends on what is meant by asceticism. I have no desires but I don't lead outwardly an ascetic life, only a secluded one. According to the Gita, tyāga the inner freedom from desire and attachment, is the true asceticism.
Poverty has never had any terrors for me nor is it an incentive. You seem to forget that I left my very safe and ‘handsome’ Baroda position without any need to it, and that I gave up also the Rs. 150 of the National College Principalship, leaving myself with nothing to live on. I could not have done that if money had been an incentive.
If you don't realise that starting and carrying on for ten years and more a revolutionary movement for independence in a country wholly unprepared for it is not living dangerously, no amount of puncturing of your skull with words will give you that simple perception. And as to the Yoga, you yourself were perorating at the top of your voice about its awful, horrible, pathetic and tragic dangers. So –
Society Manners and Spiritual Life
But when on earth were politeness and good society manners considered as a part or a test of spiritual experience or true Yogic Siddhi? It is no more a test than the capacity of dancing well or dressing nicely. Just as there are very good and kind men who are boorish and rude in their manners, so there may be very spiritual men (I mean here by spiritual men those who have had deep spiritual experiences) who have no grasp over physical life of action (many intellectuals too, by the way, are like that) and are not at all careful about their manners. I suppose I myself am accused for rude and arrogant behaviour because I refuse to see people, do not answer letters, and a host of other misdemeanours. I have heard of a famous recluse who threw stones at anybody coming to his retreat because he did not want disciples and found no other way of warding off the flood of candidates. I, at least, would hesitate to pronounce that such people had no spiritual life or experience. Certainly, I prefer that sadhaks should be reasonably considerate towards each other, but that is for the rule of collective life and harmony, not as a Siddhi of the Yoga or an indispensable sign of inner experience.
Yogic Peace and Sattwic Temperament
Q: People of sattwic temperament in ordinary life behave practically in the same manner as the sadhaks who realise spiritual peace as a result of Yoga. Can it be said that in the sattwic people the peace descends but in a hidden manner, or is it due to their past lives that they have the sattwic temperament?
A: Of course they have gained their power to live in the mind by a past evolution. But the spiritual peace is something other and infinitely more than the mental peace and its results are different, not merely clear thinking or some control or balance or a sattwic state. But its greater results can only be fully and permanently manifest when it lasts long enough in the system or when one feels spread out in it above the head and on every side stretching towards infinity as well as penetrated by it down to the very cells. Then it carries with it the deep and vast and solid tranquillity that nothing can shake – even if on the surface there is storm and battle. I was myself of the sattwic type you describe in my youth, but when the peace from above came down, that was quite different. Sattvaguṇa disappeared into nirguṇa and negative nirguṇa into positive traiguṇyātīta.
Training for Physical Work
It is not a question of liking but of capacity – though usually (not always) liking goes with the capacity. But capacity can be developed and liking can be developed or rather the rasa you speak of. One cannot be said to be in the full Yogic condition – for the purposes of this Yoga – if one cannot take up with willingness any work given to one as an offering to the Divine. At one time I was absolutely unfit for any physical work and cared only for the mental, but I trained myself in doing physical things with care and perfection so as to overcome this glaring defect in my being and make the bodily instrument apt and conscious. It was the same with some others here. A nature not trained to accept external work and activity becomes mentally too3 top-heavy – physically inert and obscure. It is only if one is disabled or physically too4 weak that physical work can be put aside altogether. I am speaking of course from the point of view of the ideal – the rest depends upon the nature.
As for the deity presiding over the control of servants, godown work as well as over poetry and5 painting, it is always the same – the Shakti, the Mother.
Genius for Lolling
As for your pious desire to loll a little now after your bout of stupendous work, well, 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.
Seeing Unknown People by Inner Vision
Yes, of course, I remember about X – I can't say I remember him because I never saw him, at least in the flesh. What he probably means by the Supramental is the Above Mind – what I now call Illumined Mind – Intuition – Overmind. I used to make that confusion myself at the beginning.
There is not much7 to go upon to say whether he really sees the Mother or an image of her as reflected in his own mind. But there is nothing extraordinary, much less improbable, in seeing a person whom one has never seen – you are thinking as if the inner mind and sense, the inner vision, were limited by the outer mind and sense, the outer vision, or were mere reflection of that. There would be not much use in an inner mind and sense and vision if they were only that and nothing more. This faculty is one of the elementary powers of the inner sense and inner seeing, and not only Yogins have it, but the ordinary clairvoyants, crystal-gazers, etc. The latter can see people they never saw or heard of before, doing certain precise things in certain very precise surroundings, and every detail of the vision is confirmed afterwards by the persons seen – there are many striking and indubitable cases of that kind. The Mother is always seeing people whom she does not know; some afterwards come here or their photographs come here. I myself have had8 these visions, only I don't usually try to remember or verify them. But there were two curious instances which were among the first of this kind and which therefore I remember. Once I was trying to see a recently elected deputy here and saw someone quite different from him, someone who afterwards came here as Governor. I ought never to have met him in the ordinary course, but a curious mistake happened and as a result I went and saw him in his bureau and at once recognised him. The other was a certain V.R. whom I had to meet, but I saw him not as he was when he actually came, but as he became after a year's residence in my house. He became the very image of that vision, a face close-cropped, rough, rude, energetic, the very opposite of the dreamy9 smooth-faced enthusiastic Vaishnava who came to me. So that was the vision of a man I had never seen, but as he was to be in the future – a prophetic vision.
The Swaying Sensation
Q: I was standing on the scaffolding [on the wall] which was swinging to and fro. Once I saw the walls nearby swinging like a pendulum. I understood the reason, but the sight of swinging walls was so vivid that I put my hand on the wall nearby to be convinced that it was not moving – yet the ‘eye-mind’ refused to accept the evidence of the ‘touch-mind’!
A: But what was it due to? The sense of swinging of the scaffolding communicating itself to the walls as it were in the impression upon some brain-centre? After travelling long in a boat I had once or twice the swaying sense of it after coming off it, as if the land about me was tossing like the boat – of course a subtle physical impression, but vivid enough.
Thinking from Outside the Body
Q: Owing to much reading I feel a strain and dryness in the head and find it difficult to sleep. But while reading and remembering I feel as if the process goes on somewhere in the chest and not in the head and yet the strain is felt in the head. Why is this so?
A: The chest action is rather curious, because it is the vital mind that is there and the Romans always spoke of the mind as if it were in the heart. But memory and reading would rather be in the physical mind. But anyhow the brain is a conveying instrument for all these activities and can feel the strain if there is any. The best relief for the brain is when the thinking takes place outside the body and above the head (or in space or at other levels but still outside the body). At any rate it was so in my case; for as soon as that happened there was an immense relief; I have felt body strain since then but never any kind of brain-fatigue. I have heard the same thing from others.
Q: I concentrate so much on reading that no room is left for sadhana-thinking with the result that as soon as I come out of that concentration anything can enter in my mind. Is this not an undesirable practice from the point of view of discipline in sadhana?
A: I should say that if you could divide your attention between the reading and sadhana-thought and concentration more, it might be better from the point of view you mention. I mean that there should be sufficient concentration to create in your mind a sadhana-atmosphere which you can bring up to the surface as soon as you leave reading or whenever it is needed to set right an invading movement. Otherwise the subconscient forces have free play and gain power. Besides the condition becomes subconscient, i.e. inert and like a drift. At least that is what I have seen recently in my dealings with my own subconscient, so I pass on the hint to you.
Q: I do not find any change in the character of my dreams as yet – I get the usual kind of dreams about home-life, eating, meeting strange people, moving about, etc. Why has there been no change in this respect in spite of my three years of sadhana here?
A: Dreams of this kind can last for years and years after the waking consciousness has ceased to interest itself in things of that kind. The subconscient is exceedingly obstinate in the keeping of its old impressions. I find myself even recently having a dream of revolutionary activities or another in which the Maharaja of Baroda butted in, people and things I have not even thought of passingly for the last twenty years almost. I suppose it is because the very business of the subconscient in the human psychology is to keep all the past inside it and, being without conscious mentality, it clings to its office until the light has fully come down into it, illumining even its corners and crevices.
Q: For the last few days I am having frequent dreams of eating. Does it indicate greed for food or a need in the body or is it a sign of coming illness as they believe in the villages?
A: I don't think so – it is probably old impressions from the subconscient material (not vital – therefore a memory rather than desire) rising up in sleep. I remember a time when I was always seeing dishes of food even though I did not care a hang about food at that time.
Q: I am still not able to maintain the right attitude in my own sadhana and yet I give advice to others in their difficulties. Is this not hypocrisy and insincerity?
A: Well, one can give good advice even when one does not follow it oneself – there is the old adage ‘Do what I preach and not what I practise’. More seriously, there are different personalities in oneself and the one that is eager to advise and help may be quite sincere. I remember in days long past when I still had personal struggles and difficulties, people came to me from outside for advice etc. when I was in a black depression and could not see my way out of a sense of hopelessness and failure, yet nothing of that came out and I spoke with an assured conviction. Was that insincerity? I think not,– the one who spoke in me was quite sure of what he spoke. The turning of all oneself to the Divine is not an easy matter and one must not be discouraged if it takes time and other movements still intervene. One must note, rectify and go on – anirviṇṇacetasā.
My experience shows me that human beings are much less deliberate and responsible for their acts than the moralists, novelists and dramatists make them, and I look rather to see what forces drove them than what the man himself may have seemed by inference to have intended or purposed – our inferences are often wrong and even when they are right touch only the surface of the matter.
Horoscopes and Astrology
I can't say anything about the horoscope, as I have forgotten the little astrology I knew.
Astrologers tell all sorts of things that don't come true. According to one I was to have died last year, according to another I was to have gone out from Pondicherry in March or May last year and wandered about India with my disciples till I disappeared in a river (in a ferry). Even if the prediction were accurate according to the horoscope it need not fulfil itself, because by entering the spiritual life one opens to a new force which can change one's destiny.
Q: X told me that today [April 4, 1936] is the birthday of Pondicherry because you came here on this date. If one can place oneself in the year 2036 A.D. he may find that 4th April is celebrated as the birthday of the earth's spiritual life. Perhaps the horoscope of the earth may show this more accurately; but is there a horoscope of the earth as there are horoscopes of some villages?
A: Pondicherry was born long ago – but if X means the rebirth, it may be, for it was absolutely dead when I came. I don't know that there is a horoscope of the Earth. There was nobody present to note the year, day, hour, minute when she came into existence. But some astrologer could take the position of the stars at the moment when I got out of the boat and build up the terrestrial consequences upon that perhaps! Unfortunately he would probably get everything wrong, like the astrologer who predicted that I would leave Pondicherry in March 1936 and wander about India till 1948 and then disappear while bathing in a river among my disciples. I believe he predicted it on the strength of Bhrigu Samhita – the old dodge; but I am not sure. Long ago I had a splendiferous Mussolinic-Napoleonic prediction of my future made to me on the strength of the same old mythological Bhrigu.
The Old and the New Buildings
Q: Some people here are very glad to know that I was preparing the roof of the house by adopting the old method used by forefathers for generations. In this case old may be good but to some people all old is gold. Perhaps they would be happy if the new European systems of medicine like homeopathy and naturopathy are rejected and the old Ayurveda only allowed. But I wonder they cannot see how superior are reinforced concrete buildings and roads to old methods – and for earthquakes, would the Ayurvedic buildings stand the shocks?
A: Well, if it is done really according to old methods, an Ayurvedic building can stand many earthquakes. I remember at the time of the Bengal earthquake all the new buildings in the place where the Provincial Conference was held went down but an old house of the Raja of the place was the sole thing that survived unmoved and unshaken. Also when the Guest House roof was being repaired, (it was an old building) the mason (one of the most skilful we have met) said that this roof had been built in a way that astonished him, it was so solid and strong, no houses now were being built like that. So perhaps it is not Ayurveda, but the degenerate ways of the descendants of Charaka that is responsible for the poor and bad building we see around us. I have also seen a remark by an English architect in Madras that it was surprising to see how old ramshackle buildings survived and stood all shocks while others built in the most scientific modern way ‘sat down’ unexpectedly. The really old things whether in India or Europe were always solid; shoddy I think began in between – before the discovery of concrete. We have to leave the old things but progress to equally or more solid new things.
Q: It seems most people who want to learn French read more than they assimilate. They read rapidly lots of French stories, novels, dramas, and as a result they hardly assimilate the idioms, phrases, grammatical peculiarities, etc. I think one ought to read a book three to four times. Rapid reading of French books creates an illusion that one understands all that one reads.
A: I suppose most learn only to be able to read French books, not to know the language well.... It is not many who know French accurately and idiomatically.... I don't think many people would consent to make a principle of reading each book 3 or 4 times in the way you advocate, for very few have the scholarly mind – but two or three books should be so read. I learnt Sanskrit by reading the Naladamayanti episode in the Mahabharata like that with minute care several times.
Spiritual Life and Outward Utility
Q: What is the need for so many here to learn French? Are you preparing them for giving lectures or opening centres in France or French-knowing countries?
A: Are life and mind to be governed only by material utility or outward practicality? Spiritual life would then be inferior even to ordinary mental life where people learn for the sake of acquiring knowledge arid culturing the mind and not only for the sake of some outward utility.
Disadvantage of Familiarity
Q: Is it true that the deep significance of mantras like ‘Om Sānti’ and words like ‘paix’ (peace in French) is lost because of too much familiarity?
A: Yes, it must be the familiarity – for I remember when I first read the Om Shanti Shanti Shanti of the Upanishads it had a powerful effect on me. In French it depends on the form or the way in which it is put.
Record in Book-Production
Q: X told me that Y has translated a novel in English half of which is corrected by you; this practically means that X makes you translate somebody's novel instead of himself translating ‘Arya’ which would be more reasonable. What ordeals for you to pass through! Perhaps the person who remarked in a London paper that you had written five hundred books was not quite wrong; by this time your letters to sadhaks would make three or four books for each of them and if to these are added your poems, translations and other writings the total would not be less than five hundred.
A: The idea of Y translating Arya makes the hair stand on end! It would be much easier for me to write five hundred books. Perhaps I have done so – if all I have scribbled is to be taken into account against me. But most of it will not see the light of day – at least of public day; I may still escape establishing the record in book-production.
Q: It is said that the ‘Arya’ began on the day the World War broke out or just before it. Has this not some significance? Was it not a kind of parallel movement?
A: The Arya was decided on the 1st June  and it was agreed that it would start on the 15th August. The war intervened on the 4th. ‘Parallelism’ of dates if you like, but it was not very close and certainly nothing came down at that time.
The Arya was, in fact, a financial success. It paid its way with a large surplus.
[The word] ‘global’ also has established itself and it is too useful and indeed indispensable to reject; there is no other word that can express exactly the same shade of meaning. I heard it first from Arjava10 who described the language of Arya as expressing a global thinking and I at once caught it up as the right and only word for certain things, for instance, the thinking in masses which is a frequent characteristic of the Overmind.
‘The Synthesis of Yoga’
The Synthesis of Yoga was not meant to be 12 a method for all to follow. Each side of the Yoga was dealt with separately with all its possibilities and an indications as to how they meet so that one starting from knowledge could realise Karma and bhakti also and so with each path. It was intended when the Self-Perfection13 was finished, to suggest a way in which all could be combined, but this was never written. The Mother and the Lights were not intended to be a systematic treatment of the sadhana as a whole; they only touch on various elements in it.
At the time when the last chapters of The Synthesis of Yoga were written in the Arya, the name ‘Overmind’ had not been found, so there is no mention of it. What is described in those chapters is the action of the Supermind when it descends into the Overmind plane and takes up the Overmind workings and transforms them. The highest Supermind or Divine gnosis existent in itself, is something that lies beyond still and quite above. It was intended in latter chapters to show how difficult even this was and how many levels there were between the human mind and Supermind and how even Supermind descending could get mixed with the lower action and turned into something that was less than the true Truth. But these latter chapters were not written.
Q: In the ‘Arya’ there is no mention of the Overmind. You have mentioned the supramental or Divine Reason in the gradations of the Supermind, but from its description it is quite different from the Overmind. Why was the Overmind not mentioned and clearly distinguished from the Supermind in the ‘Arya’?
A: The distinction has not been made in the Arya because at that time what I now call the Overmind was supposed to be an inferior plane of the Supermind. But that was because I was seeing them from the Mind. The true defect of Overmind, the limitation in it which gave rise to a world of Ignorance is seen fully only when one looks at it from the physical consciousness, from the result (Ignorance in Matter) to the cause (Overmind division of the Truth). In its own plane Overmind seems to be only a divided, many-sided play of the Truth, so can easily be taken by the Mind as a supramental province. Mind also when flooded by the Overmind lights feels itself living in a surprising revelation of Divine Truth. The difficulty comes when we deal with the vital and still more with the physical. Then it becomes imperative to face the difficulty and to make a sharp distinction between Overmind and Supermind – for it then becomes evident that the Overmind Power (in spite of its lights and splendours) is not sufficient to overcome the Ignorance because it is itself under the law of Division out of which came the Ignorance. One has to pass beyond and supramentalise Overmind so that mind and all the rest may undergo the final change.
Q: What about the publication of the ‘Synthesis’? They are all asking me about it. So many are eager that it should see the light, fed up as we all are with the analysis of the universe through science of mind and ignorance of life, what?
A: I hope you are not referring to the whole colossal mass of The Synthesis of Yoga,– though that too may be ready for publication before the next world-war (?) or after the beginning of the Satyayuga (New World Order?). If you mean the ‘Yoga of Works’, I am writing or trying to write four or five additional chapters for it. I hope they will be ready in a reasonable time; but my daily time is short and chapters are long. In the absence of exact prophetic power, that is all I can say.
‘Essays on the Gita’
Q: I had read your ‘Essays on the Gita’ thrice before, still when I started reading it again recently I found that there were so many ideas in it which I had missed before. I think if I read it over and over again I would find newer and newer ideas every time.
A: That is a common experience – most books with any profundity of knowledge in them have that effect. Almost all spiritual problems have been briefly but deeply dealt with in the Gita and I have tried to bring out all that fully in the Essays.
‘The Future Poetry’
It was not the intention to make a long review of Cousins' book in The Future Poetry, that was only a starting-point; the rest was drawn from Sri Aurobindo's own ideas and his already conceived view of Art and life.
The Mother had not the same origin as the other books mentioned.14 The main part of this book describing the four Shaktis, etc., was written independently and not as a letter, so also the first part.
Q: I sent you a review of ‘The Mother’ a few days back. Have you seen it?
A: Yes. I think it will give the reader the impression that The Mother is a philosophical or practical exposition of Yoga – while its atmosphere is really not that at all.
Early Political Views and Current Problems
Q: Have you seen my review of ‘The Ideal of the Karmayogin”?
A: Yes, I have seen it, but I don’t think it can be published in its present form as it prolongs the political Aurobindo of that time into the Sri Aurobindo of the present time. You even assert that I have ‘thoroughly’ revised the book and these articles are an index of my latest views on the burning problems of the day and there has been no change in my views in 27 years (which would surely be proof of a rather unprogressive mind). How do you get all that? My spiritual consciousness and knowledge at that time was as nothing to what it is now – how would the change leave my view of politics and life unmodified altogether? There has been no such thorough revision; I have left the book as it is, because it would be useless to modify what was written so long ago – the same as with The Yoga and its Objects. Anyway the review would almost amount to a proclamation of my present political views – while on the contrary I have been careful to pronounce nothing – no views whatever on political questions for the last I don't know how many years.
‘The Yoga and its Objects’
The book represents an early stage of Sri Aurobindo's sadhana and only a part of it is applicable to the Yoga as it has at present taken form after a lapse of more than twenty years.
Your friend writes about my disapproval of Vairagya in Yogic Sadhan. But Yogic Sadhan is not my composition, nor its contents the essence of my Yoga, whatever the publishers may persist in saying in their lying blurb, in spite of protests.
The Yogi from the North (Uttara Yogi) was my own name given to me because of a prediction made long ago by a famous Tamil Yogi, that thirty years later (agreeing with the time of my arrival) a Yogi from the North would come as a fugitive to the South and practise there an integral Yoga (Poorna Yoga), and this would be one sign of the approaching liberty of India. He gave three utterances as the mark by which this Yogi could be recognised and all these were found in the letters to my wife.
As for Yogic Sadhan it was not I exactly who wrote it, though it is true that I am not a Mayavadin.
I do not use the initials A.G. – They have been discarded long ago.
‘Sri Aurobindo Prasange’
It is not about Baroda nor my own writing – it is some conversations, I do not know how far correctly reported, by a young man who came from Chandernagore here for a short time. I don't know if it is of any value. It belongs to the long ago and things have changed much since then.
Philosophy without Logical Argument
Q: One thing more I would like to ask you about logic. You wrote to X that though people call you a philosopher you have never learnt philosophy. Well, what you have written in the ‘Arya’ is so philosophical that the greatest philosopher of the world can never expect to write it. I don't mean here the bringing down of the new Truth, but the power of expression, the art of reasoning and arguing with intellect and logic.
A: There is very little argument in my philosophy – the elaborate metaphysical reasoning full of abstract words with which the metaphysician tries to establish his conclusions is not there. What is there is a harmonising of the different parts of a many-sided knowledge so that all unites logically together. But it is not by force of logical argument that it is done, but by a clear vision of the relations and sequences of the Knowledge.
Writing Philosophy – Fame and Propaganda
Look here! Do these people expect me to turn myself again into a machine for producing articles? The times of the Bande Mataram and Arya are over, thank God! I have now only the Ashram correspondence and that is ‘overwhelming’ enough in all conscience without starting philosophy for standard books and the rest of it.
And philosophy! Let me tell you in confidence that I never, never, never was a philosopher – although I have written philosophy which is another story altogether. I knew precious little about philosophy before I did the Yoga and came to Pondicherry – I was a poet and a politician, not a philosopher. How I managed to do it and why? First, because X proposed to me to co-operate in a philosophical review – and as my theory was that a Yogi ought to be able to turn his hand to anything, I could not very well refuse; and then he had to go to the war and left me in the lurch with sixty-four pages a month of philosophy all to write by my lonely self. Secondly, because I had only to write down in the terms of the intellect all that I had observed and come to know in practising Yoga daily and the philosophy was there automatically. But that is not being a philosopher!
I don't know how to excuse myself to Y – for I can't say all that to him. Perhaps you can find a formula for me? Perhaps: ‘so occupied, not a moment for any other work, can't undertake because he might not be able to carry out his promise’. What do you say?
As to Y, I don't care whether he is right or wrong in his eagerness to get the blessed contribution from me. But the first fact is that it is quite impossible for me to write philosophy to order. If something comes to me of itself, I can write, if I have time. But I have no time. I had some thought of writing to Z pointing out that he was mistaken in his criticism of my ideas about consciousness and intuition and developing briefly what were my real views about these things. But I have never been able to do it. I might as well think of putting the moon under my arm, Hanuman-like – although in his case it was the sun – and going for a walk. The moon is not available and the walk is not possible. It would be the same if I promised anything to Y – it would not get done, and that would be much worse than a refusal.
And the second fact is that I do not care a button about having my name in any blessed place. I was never ardent about fame even in my political days; I preferred to remain behind the curtain, push people without their knowing it and get things done. It was the confounded British Government that spoiled my game by prosecuting me and forcing me to be publicly known and a ‘leader’. Then, again, I don't believe in advertisement except for books etc., and in propaganda except for politics and patent medicines. But for serious work it is a poison. It means either a stunt or a boom – and stunts and booms exhaust the thing they carry on their crest and leave it lifeless and broken high and dry on the shores of nowhere – or it means a movement. A movement in the case of a work like mine means the founding of a school or a sect or some other damned nonsense. It means that hundreds or thousands of useless people join in and corrupt the work or reduce it to a pompous farce from which the Truth that was coming down recedes into secrecy and silence. It is what has happened to the ‘religions’ and is the reason of their failure. If I tolerate a little writing about myself, it is only to have a sufficient counter-weight in that amorphous chaos, the public mind, to balance the hostility that is always aroused by the presence of a new dynamic Truth in this world of ignorance. But the utility ends there and too much advertisement would defeat that object. I am perfectly ‘rational’, I assure you, in my methods and I do not proceed merely on any personal dislike of fame. If and so far as publicity serves the Truth, I am quite ready to tolerate it; but I do not find publicity for its own sake desirable.
This ‘Contemporary Philosophy’, British or Indian, looks to me very much like book-making and, though the ‘vulgarisation’ of knowledge – to use the French term – by book-making may have its use, I prefer to do solid work and leave that to others. You may say that I can write a solid thing in philosophy and let it be book-made. But even the solid tends to look shoddy in such surroundings. And, besides, my solid work at present is not philosophy but something less wordy and more to the point. If that work gets done, then it will propagate itself so far as propagation is necessary – if it were not to get done, propagation would be useless.
These are my reasons. However, let us wait till the book is there and see what kind of stuff it is.
Answer to a Request for Message
Q: What has happened to my letter of request for a Message to grace the Special Number of ‘Mother India’ of August 15? I have heard nothing from you.
A: I have been trying to get you informed without success about the impossibility of your getting your expected Message from me for the 15th August. I had and have no intention of writing a Message for my birthday this year. It is psychologically impossible for me to manufacture one to command; an inspiration would have to come and it is highly improbable that any will come in this short space of time; I myself have no impulse towards it. But how is it that you have clean forgotten my rule of not writing any article for an outside paper, magazine or journal – I mean other than those conducted from the Ashram by the Ashram – and even for these I write nothing new except for the Bulletin at the Mother's request,– also my reasons for this fixed rule? If I started doing that kind of thing, my freedom would be gone; I would have to write at everybody's command, not only articles but blessings, replies on public questions and all the rest of that kind of conventional rubbish. I would be like any ordinary politician publishing my views on all and sundry matters, discoursing on all sorts of subjects, a public man at the disposal of the public. That would make myself, my blessings, my views and my Messages exceedingly cheap; in fact, I would no longer be Sri Aurobindo. Already the Hindusthan Standard, the Madras Mail and I know not what other journals and societies are demanding at the pistol's point special messages for themselves and I am supposed to stand and deliver. I won't. I regret that I must disappoint you, but self-preservation is a first law of nature.
Object of Special Issues15
The object of such special issues is not to exhibit me to the public and show them all ends of me, i.e., to make me go through all my possible performances on a public stage. The object is to make the reading public better acquainted with the nature of this Yoga and the principle of what is being done in the Ashram. The private matters of the Ashram itself are not for the public – at most only so much as the public can see. A fortiori anything personal and private about me is also taboo. I come in only so far as it is necessary for the public to know my thought and what I stand for. You will notice that my life itself is so written as to give only the grey precise surface facts, nothing more. All propensity to make me figure in the big Barnum circus of journalistic ‘features’ along with or in competition with Joe Zones the prize-fighter, Douglas Fairbanks, H. G. Wells, King George and Queen Mary, Haile Selassie, Hobbs, Hitler, Jack the Ripper (or any modern substitute of his) and Mussolini should be strictly banished from the mentality for evermore and the day after.
To a Biographer
I see that you have persisted in giving a biography – is it really necessary or useful? The attempt is bound to be a failure, because neither you nor anyone else knows anything at all of my life; it has not been on the surface for men to see.
You have given a sort of account of my political action, but the impression it makes on me and would make, I believe, on your public is that of a fiery idealist rushing furiously at an impossible aim (knocking his head against a stone wall, which is not a very sensible proceeding) without any grasp of realities and without any intelligible political method or plan of action. The practical people of the West would hardly be well impressed by such a picture and it would make them suspect that, probably, my Yoga was a thing of the same type!
Misunderstanding of Sri Aurobindo's Writing
People do not understand what I write because the mind by itself cannot understand things that are beyond it. It constructs its own idea out of something that it catches or that it has caught and puts that idea as the whole meaning of what has been written. Each mind puts its own ideas in place of the Truth.
People16 often catch hold of something written by me or said by the Mother, give it an interpretation quite other than or far beyond its true meaning and deduce from it a suddenly extreme and logical conclusion which is quite contrary to our knowledge and experience. It is natural, I suppose, and part of the game of the hostile forces; it is so much easier to come to vehement logical conclusions than to look at the Truth which is many-sided and whole.
I do not mind if you find inconsistencies in my statements. What people call consistency is usually a rigid or narrow-minded inability to see more than one side of the truth or more than their own narrow personal view or experience of things. Truth has many aspects and unless you look on all with a calm and equal eye, you will never have the real or the integral knowledge.
I do not believe in human judgments because I have always found them fallible – also perhaps because I have myself been so blackened by human judgments that I do not care to be guided by them with regard to others. All this, however, I write to explain my own point of view; I am not insisting on it as a law for others. I have never been in the habit of insisting that everybody must think as I do – any more than I insist on everybody following me and my Yoga.
If I write about these questions from the Yogic point of view, even though on a logical basis, there is bound to be much that is in conflict with the current opinions, e.g., about miracles, the limits of judgment by sense-data etc. I have avoided as much as possible writing about these subjects because I would have to propound things that cannot be understood except by reference to other data than those of the physical senses or of reason founded on these alone. I might have to speak of laws and forces not recognised by reason or physical science. In my public writings and my writings to sadhaks I have not dealt with these because they go out of the range of ordinary knowledge and the understanding founded on it. These things are known to some, but they do not usually speak about them, while the public view of much of those as are known is either credulous or incredulous, but in both cases without experience or knowledge.
Secrecy in Spiritual Matters
Q: Would it not sometimes be dangerous to speak truth, e.g., in politics, war, revolution? The truth-speaking moralist who would always insist on not concealing anything may bring disaster by revealing the plans and movements of one side to the opposite side.
A: Politics, war, revolution are things of stratagem and ambush – one cannot expect the truth there. From what I have heard X himself has played tricks and dodges there. Y told me it was impossible to lead men in politics or get one's objects without telling falsehoods by the yard and he was often feeling utterly disgusted with himself and his work, but supposed he would have to go through with it to the end.
There is no necessity to reveal one's plans and movements to those who have no business to know it, who are incapable of understanding or who would act as enemies or spoil all as a result of their knowledge. Secrecy is perfectly admissible and usual in spiritual matters except in special relations like that of the Shishya to the Guru. We do not let people outside know what is going on in the Ashram but we do not tell any lies about it either. Most Yogis say nothing about their spiritual experiences to others or not until long afterwards and secrecy was a general rule among the ancient mystics. No moral or spiritual law commands us to make ourselves naked to the world or open up our hearts and minds for public inspection. Gandhi talked about secrecy being a sin but that is one of his many extravagances.
It is not very advisable to discuss either myself or the Ashram or spiritual things with hostile minds or unbelievers. These discussions usually bring on the sadhak a stress of the opposing atmosphere and cannot be helpful to his progress. Reserve is the best attitude; one need not be concerned to dispel their bad will or their ignorance.
The Ashram's Prestige
Queer idea all you fellows seem to have of ‘the prestige of the Ashram’. The prestige of an institution claiming to be a centre of spirituality lies in its spirituality, not in newspaper columns or famous people.
Confusion of a Good Thinker
Q: One X has written a book in which he says that your ‘language’ has been responsible for creating confusion etc. Y seems to have written to him about this and got a reply that he has not been satisfied with your philosophy nor with any of your disciples whom he has seen, but that he may change his views if he gets a quarter of an hour's talk with you. So far has he understood the ‘Arya’ that some years back when I had asked him what was Supermind, he had replied that it was something like power of clairvoyance! I had laughed in my sleeves at his being considered a good thinker.
A: Well, there seems evidently to be a confusion in his ideas about my philosophy though what has been responsible for creating it – well, it is perhaps the goodness of his thinking! I fear the pleasure and honour of having a quarter of an hour's talk with the Yogi X is too high a thing for me to wish to attain to it in this life. I must try to obtain pūṇya first and strive to be born again in order to deserve it.
Ethics and Sadhana
Q: I am thinking of writing a book on your teachings in a systematic Western form in three main sections: (7) Metaphysics (2) Psychology (3) Ethics. But to make it presentable in the academic fashion would require a large reading of some past and present Western philosophers and psychologists. And where is the time for it?
A; I am afraid it would be a rather too colossal affair. But why ethics? I don't think there is any ethics; because ethics depends upon fixed principles and rules of conduct, whereas here any such thing can only be for sadhana purposes as conditions for getting the spiritual or higher consciousness and afterwards everything is freely determined by that consciousness and its movements and dictates.
Q: X in his lecture published in ‘The Hindu’ has stolen not only most of your ideas but has actually lifted several sentences en masse. It seems he is well-known in this profession. But I wonder how such piracy in philosophical literature passes unchastised. I am thinking either of writing to him deploring the theft or of informing ‘The Hindu’.
A: I don't think it is worth while doing anything. The thefts are obvious but if he wants to add some peacock plumes to his dun colours!
Pressure in the Ashram and Outside Happenings
Q: If the pressure here has an effect on the outside world in some way, have incidents happening here any connection with outside happenings? For example, I noted that on the day X and Y went from here the Italians finally conquered Abyssinia. There is a story of an occultist in Ahmedabad (in the 16th century or so) in which it is related that he was making and unmaking mats and accordingly the wall round the city which was built during the day fell down during the night – the time when he was taking away the chips of the mat.
A: The story of the occultist contains a truth, and it would be a mistake to suppose that there is no connection between the pressure here and outside happenings. But I don't know about particular coincidences. The departure of X and Y does not seem easily relatable to the event in Abyssinia.
Q: I am thinking of reading Vivekananda. What he has said in his lectures – is it all truth, something directly inspired?
A: I cannot say that it is all truth – he had his own opinions about certain things (like everybody else) which can be questioned. But most of what he said was of great value.
Q: I wish to read books. Will you please give me some names?
A: I am not sure what books would interest you and am myself so far away from books that it is difficult to remember names. If you have not read Vivekananda's things you can read them or any books that would give you an idea of Vedanta schools and Sankhya. There is Mahendra Sircar's ‘Eastern Lights’. It is Indian philosophy you want, I suppose.
Aristotle's Dry Philosophy
Q: I tried to read Aristotle but found him very dry and abstract.
A: I always found him exceedingly dry. It is a purely mental philosophy, not like Plato's.
James' book17 is certainly a very interesting one. I read it a long time ago and do not remember it very well except that it was very interesting and not at all an ordinary book in its kind, but full of valuable suggestions.
Materialistic Science and Mysticism
I am afraid I have lost all interest in these speculations; things are getting too serious for me to waste time on these inconclusive intelletualities. I do not at all mind your driving your point triumphantly home and replacing a dogmatism from materialistic science on its throne of half a century ago from which it could victoriously ban all thought surpassing its own narrow bounds as mere wordy metaphysics and mysticism and moonshine. Obviously, if material energies alone can exist in the material world, there can be no possibility of a life divine on the earth. A mere metaphysical ‘sleight of mind’, as one might call it, could not justify it against the objections of scientific negation and concrete common sense. I had thought that even many scientific minds on the Continent had come to admit that science could no longer claim to decide what was the real reality of things, that it had no means of deciding it and could only discover and describe the how and process of the operations of material Force in the physical front of things. That left the field open to higher thought and speculation, spiritual experience and even to mysticism, occultism and all those greater things which almost everyone had come to disbelieve as impossible nonsense. That was the condition of things when I was in England. If that is to return or if Russia and her dialectical materialism are to lead the world, well, fate must be obeyed and life divine must remain content to wait perhaps for another millennium. But I do not like the idea of one of our periodicals being the arena for a wrestle of that kind. That is all. I am writing under the impression of your earlier article on this subject, as I have not gone carefully through the later ones; I dare say these later ones may be entirely convincing and I would find after reading them that my own position was wrong and that only an obstinate mystic could still believe in such a conquest of Matter by the Spirit as I had dared to think possible. But I am just such an obstinate mystic; so, if I allowed your exposition of the matter to be published in one of our own periodicals, I would be under the obligation of returning to the subject in which I have lost interest and therefore the inclination to write, so as to re-establish my position and would have to combat the claim of materialistic Science to pronounce anything on these matters on which it has no means of enquiry nor any possibility of arriving at a valid decision. Perhaps I would have practically to rewrite The Life Divine as an answer to the victorious ‘negation of the materialist’! This is the only explanation which I can give, apart from sheer want of time to tackle the subject, for my long and disappointing silence.
Russell, Eddington, Jeans18
I don't understand why X expects me to bow to the criticism of Bertrand Russell.
1. Russell's opinions are as much determined by his upbringing, temperament etc. as those of Jeans or Eddington. He was born in the heyday of the most uncompromising materialism; he is unwilling to change the ideas which have got embedded in his nature. It is this that determines his view of the result of the recent developments of science, it is not a clear infallible logic; logic can serve any turn proposed to it by the mind's preferences. Nor is it a dispassionate impersonal view of facts dictated by unbiassed reason as opposed to Eddington's personal outlook, imaginative fancies and idealistic prejudices. This idea of pure mental impersonality in the human reason is an exploded superstition of the rationalist mind; psychology in its recent inquiries has shown that this supposed impersonal observation of pure objective facts and impartial conclusion from them, an automatic writing of truth on the blank paper of the pure mind is a myth; it has shown that the personal factor is inevitable; we think according to what we are.
2. Russell is not, I believe, a great scientist or pre-eminent in any field of science. Eddington is, I am told, one of the finest authorities in astrophysics. Jeans and Eddington, though not great discoverers, are otherwise in the front rank. Russell ranks as a great mathematician, but there too Eddington has one superiority over him; he is supposed to be the only one, so say some, one of the only five, say others, who have a complete understanding of Einstein's mathematical formulation; Russell is not counted among them and that perhaps disables him from understanding the full consequences of Relativity. Russell, however, is an eminent philosopher, though not one of the great ones. I would count him rather as a strong and acute thinker on philosophy and science. Here he has an advantage, for Jeans and Eddington are only amateur philosophers with a few general ideas for their stock in trade.
3. As for their general intellectual standing Russell is a clear and strong materialistic intellect with a wide and general play of its own kind and range; the others are strong in their own field, trained in scientific knowledge and judgment, outside that they do not count: Eddington's mind is more intuitive and original in its limits but often shooting beyond the mark. Russell, when he goes outside his limits, can flounder and blunder. Well, then where is there any foundation for exalting the authority of Russell at the expense of the other two? I disagree with the conclusions of all three; I am neither a mentalist nor a vitalist nor a materialist. Why then throw Russell at me? I am not likely to change my decision in the matter in deference to his materialistic bias. And to what does his judgment or his argument amount to? He admits as against X that there has been a ‘revolution’ in science; he admits that the old materialistic philosophy has no longer even half a rotten leg to stand upon; its dogmatic theory of Matter has been kicked out God knows where. But still, says Russell, Matter is there and everything in this world obeys the laws (? whatever they may be or become from time to time?) of physical science. This is merely a personal opinion on a now very doubtful matter: he is fighting a rearguard action against what he feels to be the advanced forces of the future; his gallant but tremulous asseveration is a defensive parade not an aggressive blow; it lacks altogether the old assured self-confidence.
As for Russell's logic, a dry and strong or even austere logic is not a key to Truth; an enthusiastic vision often reaches it more quickly. The business of logic is to give order to a thinker's ideas, to establish firm relations between them and firm distinctions from other people's ideas, but when that is done, we are no nearer to indisputable truth than we were before. It is vision that sees Truth, not logic – the outer vision that sees facts but not their inner sense, the inner vision that sees inner facts and can see the inner sense of them, the total vision (not belonging to mind) that sees the whole. A strong and clear and powerful intellect, Russell, but nothing more – not certainly an infallible authority whether in science or anything else. Jeans and Eddington have their own logical reasoning; I do not accept it any more than I accept Russell's.
Let us, however, leave the flinging of authorities, often the same authority for opposing conclusions, Russell quoted against Russell and Darwin against Darwin, and let us come to the point.....
Answer to Leonard Woolf19
The answer to Woolf was written long ago at the time Woolf's article appeared in the New Statesman and Nation – a London weekly. It was X who drew my notice to it and asked for an answer. Y this time wanted something of mine for the Onward August 15th number and chose this one.
Q: Somebody told X that Sri Aurobindo brought about the Russian revolution through Lenin. X told Y that people here were over-credulous and believed such things. Y said that if it is possible to cure dangerous diseases of the body by Yogic power, why should it not be possible to act on the mind of another person and pour in him immense vital force which can bring about such results as the Russian revolution?
A: The statement made to X was not quite correct; it is putting things in too physical a form. A spiritual and occult working supplies forces and can watch over the members of the execution of a world event, but to put it like that makes the actual workers too much of automata which they are not.
Hitler – Goering – Goebbels
Hitler and his chief lieutenants Goering and Goebbels are certainly vital beings or possessed by vital beings, so you can't expect common sense from them. The Kaiser, though all-satanical, was a much more human person; these people are hardly human at all. The nineteenth century in Europe was a pre-eminently human era – now the vital world seems to be descending there.
Q: When you wrote that you look upon India not as an inert, dead mass of matter, but as the very Mother, the living Mother, I believe you saw that Truth – or was it just the expression of a poetic or patriotic sentiment?
A: My dear Sir, I am not a materialist. If I had seen India as only a geographical area with a number of more or less interesting people in it, I would hardly have gone out of my way to do all that for the said area.
Merely a poetic or patriotic sentiment – just as in yourself only your flesh, skin, bones and other things...are real; but what you call your mind and soul do not self-exist, being merely psychological impressions created by the food you eat and the activity of the glands. Poetry and patriotism have of course the same origin and the things they speak of quite unreal.
The Question for India after Independence
Q: It is rather depressing to hear about the atrocities committed by some Mohamedans on Hindu families in Bengal.
With the coming of Independence I hope such things will stop. Now I would like to ask you something. In your scheme of things do you definitely see a free India? You have stated that for the spreading of spirituality in the world India must be free. I suppose you must be working for it! You are the only one who can do something really effective by the use of your spiritual Force.
A: That is all settled. It is a question of working out only. The question is what is India going to do with her Independence? The above kind of affair? Bolshevism? Goonda-raj? Things look ominous.
Rationality of Politicians
Poor X! 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 Birkenhead or as philosophical as a C. R. Das and go on with political reason or political humbug in spite of knowing what it all came to from arrivisme in the one and patriotism in the other case.
A Message on C. R. Das20
Chittaranjan's death is a supreme loss. Consummately endowed with political intelligence, constructive imagination, magnetism, a driving force combining a strong will and an uncommon plasticity of mind for vision and tact of the hour, he was the one man after Tilak who could have led India to Swaraj.
An Early Prediction21
Since 1907, we are living in a new era which is full of hope for India. Not only India, but the whole world will see sudden upheavals and revolutionary changes. The high will become low and the low high. The oppressed and the depressed shall be elevated. The nation and humanity will be animated by a new consciousness, new thought and new efforts will be made to reach new ends. Amidst these revolutionary changes, India will become free.
2 See July 1971 Edition, p, 103.
3 The word ‘too’ was omitted in later publication
4 too physically (later edition)
5 or (later edition)
6 12-12-1934 (earlier edition)
7 enough (later edition)
8 The word ‘had’ was omitted in later publication
9 The word ‘dreamy’ was added in later publication
10 The name was omitted in later publication
11 3-4-1947 in earlier edition
12 give (later edition)
13 ‘The Yoga of Self-Perfection’, The Synthesis of Yoga, Part Four.
14 Lights on Yoga, Bases of Yoga, The Riddle of This World.
15 Special issues of some daily or weekly periodicals on Sri Aurobindo.
16 this text was omitted in Sri Aurobindo Birth Century Librarry in 30 Volumes. It was present, however, in Sri Aurobindo International Univercity Centre Collection .- Vol.1.- Pondicherry, 1953.- P.343.
17 Psychology by William James.
18 These are unfinished notes written by Sri Aurobindo around 1942. They were meant to be part of a letter which was never sent. One passage, though meant to be included in the letter, was written separately. It has now been put at its most appropriate place in the letter – as the penultimate paragraph.
19 See Letters on Yoga (Centenary Edition, 1972), Vol. 22, pp. 185-189.
20 Given in response to a request from the Bombay Chronicle on the occasion of C. R. Das's death and published in its issue of 22.6.1925.
21 In January 1910, Sri Aurobindo gave this prediction to the correspondent of the Tamil Nationalist weekly India, who met him in Krishnakumar's house at Calcutta. It was published with Sri Aurobindo's authorisation.