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Sri Aurobindo

Sri Aurobindo to Dilip

Volume 1. 1929–1933

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Sri Aurobindo to Dilip: [Letters].– In 4 volumes.– Volume 1 1929-1933 / edited by Sujata Nahar, Michel Danino and Shankar Bandyopadhyay.– Mysore: Hari Krishna Mandir Trust, Pune & Mira Aditi, 2003.– 384 p.– ISBN 81-85137-74-9 (3-volume set); ISBN 81-85137-91-9 (vol. I)



Sri Aurobindo, through his innumerable illuminating writings has left to the world a vast mass of his actually experienced living knowledge, which is a priceless treasure for all who want to tread the path of the evolution of human consciousness. He was a ceaseless explorer, not only delving deep into the “past dawns” but also lifting the veils that withhold our vision of the “noons of the future.” He stands out, therefore, as a Supreme Teacher, Maha Guru of the entire human race, who came to reveal to man the higher and higher peaks of consciousness that he has to conquer through his ever new experiments in this “thinking and living laboratory” of human life and mind, until he reaches or attains the Supermind, where the purpose of creation will be fully revealed ultimately to him one day.

As is well known to all, in the first part of his life, Sri Aurobindo dedicated himself completely to the one task of freeing his motherland from foreign domination, as he felt that this land and this nation has a mission to fulfil by giving a call to all in the world to realise that they are the children of Immortality. Later on, having made sure of the country’s freedom, he left the political scene to turn his eyes to the freedom of the world by removing the shackles of death, desire and incapacity. So long as he was in his body, Sri Aurobindo kept himself totally absorbed in this single superhuman task of making “matter lit with the spirit’s glow,” and withdrew himself from all public contacts to dedicate himself absolutely for intense sadhana in utter seclusion. But he was ever awake to the needs of all wayfarers towards the same goal, who had gathered around him in Pondicherry for guidance and help, and he used to answer all their queries with his own hand, sometimes spending the entire night sleeplessly in fulfilling this one task. His luminous letters have also become a legend and have since been published in books like Bases of Yoga and also included in his complete works, running into volumes.

Naturally some may question the propriety of publishing them over again. The purpose, first of all, is to highlight the context in which these letters were written – to what particular query the particular answer was given. Secondly, the unique personal relationship between the teacher and the taught, the Guru and the śiṣya is absolutely missing in all that has been published, which alone makes these priceless letters so vibrant and living. Fortunately for us all, the disciple, in this case, Dilip Kumar Roy, had preserved his Master’s letters with meticulous care and the Hari Krishna Mandir, which he later established in Pune, where these letters were enshrined, has now taken up this task of publishing them, with the collaboration of Mira Aditi.

Of all the disciples of Sri Aurobindo, Dilip Kumar Roy was one to whom the Guru gave the utmost indulgence, possibly because he was ever aware of this disciple’s utterly sensitive nature and lest he should leave the path in disgust or dismay, the Guru took him closest to his breast, owning him as a child and a very part of his being, through his wide heart and sympathies, much to the chagrin of his other disciples. As this disciple happened to be a man of intense feeling by nature, the Guru took particular care to guide him along the path of music and poetry because he knew that the entire being of this disciple would vibrate and resonate as soon as he would start singing, transporting him and others to a level far beyond the mundane sphere. The Mother took special care in encouraging his music, so that he could transform it into an art for the Divine’s sake, instead of pursuing it as just an art for Art’s sake. Through Sri Aurobindo’s constant encouragement and meticulous guidance his poetic faculty too, especially in writing English verse, flowered beyond comprehension. At every step, day in and day out, this great master of English poetry would teach his beloved disciple through his letters the intricacies of the different metres in which English poems are written, even penning new poems to illustrate some metrical point. Dilip’s translations of many Bengali poems and songs the Guru corrected at every step. In a word, Sri Aurobindo happened to be the constant companion and guiding light in all his literary adventures.

To none else perhaps did Sri Aurobindo write so many letters in his life as he wrote to Dilip Kumar, as he could never refuse to answer any query that came from Dilip. Sometimes, it was about a Bengali book by a promising writer, who at that time happened to be almost unknown, though his genius was unmistakable and the disciple wanted this to be verified by the Guru. The Guru was his touchstone in every matter in life and at every step, the disciple would refer all matters under the sun to him and him alone for verification and the Guru would readily acquiesce to each and every request that came from this importunate disciple.

As such, these pages of illuminating letters stand out as an unique document of the ideal Guru-śiṣya, teacher-student relationship, in which the infinite patience of the loving guru on the one hand, as well as the infinite impatience of the doting disciple on the other, are both equally revealed. The tie of eternal love that bound these two souls could never be snapped, either in this life or hereafter.

Before I conclude, I am tempted to recount the story which I had the privilege of hearing from a great mystic soul, Sri Krishnaprem, who had, according to Sri Aurobindo, a “seeing intellect” (paśyantī buddhi). A bosom friend of Dilip Kumar’s, this Sri Krishnaprem was invited by the former to visit Pondicherry to have a darshan of Sri Aurobindo, and so he went there just a day or two prior to the day fixed for darshan and was staying with Dilip. On the previous night before the darshan, Dilip sent a note to Sri Aurobindo to inform him that next day, Sri Krishnaprem will also be accompanying him for Sri Aurobindo’s darshan and in the line of devotees assembled for the darshan, the man next to Dilip will be Sri Krishnaprem. “If possible, please give him a smile, when he approaches you, O Guru.” “Just think,” Sri Krishnaprem told me, “how he dares order or command the Guru to oblige him! And what the ever-obliging Guru could do? He could not refuse any request coming from Dilip! As soon as I stood before him, he gave me a very beautiful broad smile!”

Such was the unique relationship between the Guru and the śiṣya, of which possibly there is no parallel in the world of living memory. By reading the letters exchanged between the two, may we all try to have such a living and loving relationship with our Guru, which lasts through all eternity.

Gobindo Gopal Mukhopadhyaya
Kolkata, March 2003



In the Gita, Sri Krishna says to Arjuna:

Yad-yad vibhūti matsatvaṃ śrimadūrjitameva vā. Tat-tadevāvagachha tvaṃ mama tejoṃśa saṃbhavam


That is:

“Wherever you find efflorescence of grace, Opulence, grandeur or power that thrills the heart – Know: it all derives from a gleam of my sun-splendour”

(Translated by Sri Dilip Kumar Roy)

Such a manifestation of sun-splendour that is Sri Aurobindo, “mighty and forceful” brought forth the flowering of grace, beauty and glorious opulence in a multifaceted form, in the life of Sri Dilip Kumar Roy – our Dadaji1. This process is superbly documented for the first time, first hand, in the correspondence between the master and the disciple, spanning over two decades. With immense pleasure and grateful hearts we are bringing out this complete (as far as they are available) collection of the invaluable letters of Sri Aurobindo written to Dadaji in three volumes (vol I, 1928-33; vol. II, 1934-36; vol. III, 1937-51, including letters of the Mother). The coming together of Dadaji, Sri Dilip Kumar the seeker, and Sri Aurobindo the mentor, is a most significant phenomenon which was predestined. Theirs is a unique relationship; Sri Aurobindo described it as that “which declares itself constantly through many lives. It is a feeling which is never mistaken and gives impression of the one not only close to one but part of one’s existence. The relation that is so indicated always turns out to be that of those who have been together in the past and were predestined to join again.”

Sri Aurobindo went into seclusion in 1926. Dadaji sorely missed and longed intensely for personal day-to-day contact with his guru. One cannot but admit on hindsight that this was perhaps preordained. Present also were three significant traits in Dadaji: first, his mastery of the languages and the ability to express; second, his sincere earnest quest and the power to draw out great people;2 and third, his generous nature which delighted in sharing anything that was worthwhile with all seekers. Circumstances, time and the persons were right. These invaluable letters got written and a veritable spiritual treasure became available not only for Dadaji alone but also for posterity.

Sri Aurobindo showed limitless patience, understanding, love and exquisite tenderness, sparing no effort – even giving up, at times, his much needed sleeping hours to write to his Dilip whom he called a “friend and a son.” Sri Aurobindo wrote, “I have poured on you my force to develop your powers to make an equal development in the yoga.” They discussed philosophy, literature, humanism, rationalist ideals and materialism and a plethora of topics – in short covering all the strands of human aspirations. Sri K. D. Sethna rightly said: “It is the intimacy implying not only the unhindered approach of the disciple but also the master’s own enfolding movements, that sets the pattern, mixes the colours and constitutes the highlights of the picture.”

Mention must be made of the humour that we find so deliciously interspersed in these volumes of correspondence: the banter of the master and the disciple, quick repartees, wit, hilarious word pictures, terse but delightfully expressed irony, are a joy to read. Perhaps it would not be an exaggeration to say that Dilip Kumar is one of the few (if not the only) disciples who took such liberties with his guru and brought out the human side of Gurudev.

In the Mahabharata, Arjuna was the recipient and became the channel through whom the Lord poured out the essence of Upanishadic wisdom of Sanatan Dharma in the form of the Bhagavad Gita. The modern-day intellectuals and seekers will find a close parallel in these volumes of Sri Aurobindo’s letters to Dilip Kumar. However it is not a mere reiteration. There is a further evolution. Sri Aurobindo himself wrote (14 January 1932): “The traditions of the past are very great in their own place,– in the past; but I do not see why we should merely repeat them and not go farther. In the spiritual development of the consciousness upon earth the great past ought to be followed by a greater future.” He further elaborated in a letter (December 1935) to Dadaji: “The spiritual life is not a thing that can be formulated in a rigid definition or bound by a fixed mental rule; it is a vast field of evolution, an immense kingdom potentially larger than the other kingdoms below it, with a hundred provinces, a thousand types, stages, forms, paths, variations of the spiritual ideal, degrees of spiritual advancement. It is from the basis of this truth, which I shall try to explain in subsequent letters, that things regarding spirituality and its seekers must be judged, if they are to be judged with knowledge.... It is only by so understanding it that one can understand it truly, enter in its past or in its future or put in their place the spiritual men of the past and the present or relate the different ideals, stages, etc. thrown up in the spiritual evolution of the human being.”

This was not just a mere theory or philosophy: through detailed instructions this was concretized. To illustrate, the master teaches the disciple to become a master himself, a seemingly paradoxical path of evolution! It is pertinent to mention an outstanding event, which much later in his life brought about the making of Dilip Kumar as a guru. What happened was this: On 21 February 1949, a young seeker (Smt. Indira Devi) walked behind Dadaji for Gurudev’s and Mother’s darshan. Later when Dadaji was singing she went into Samadhi. Gurudev wrote at once that she was a highly evolved soul and ripe for yoga. Gurudev and the Mother were willing to accept her as their disciple, an unprecedented gesture on their part. However, when Smt Indira Devi would have only Sri Dilip Kumar as her Guru, Sri Aurobindo confirmed at once that Sri Dilip Kumar was indeed her guru and urged him to accept her, promising that the Mother and Sri Aurobindo would work on her through him. Gurudev kept a tender watch on her physical and spiritual welfare, helping Dadaji to mould his disciple, claiming that she in turn would be of great help to Dadaji in his own sadhana – a prophecy that was fulfilled beyond all expectations.

Indira Devi developed supernormal consciousness. She had visions of Sant Mirabai and dictated songs heard in her Samadhi. Gurudev Sri Aurobindo authenticated these spiritual experiences (vide letters of 7 May, 2 June and 11 June 1950). Some of these heard songs were published by the Pondicherry Ashram with the Mother’s and Gurudev’s consent – namely Shrutanjali. When Indira Devi developed early signs of supernormal powers such as clairvoyance, reading thoughts, clairaudience, contacts with disembodied beings etc., Gurudev wrote to Dadaji that she should not be frightened and should not reject them as they may be of help later on.

Through Sri Aurobindo’s constant guidance and encouragement, both Dadaji and his daughter disciple flowered out attaining their supreme goal. Their evolution was many-faceted. The Integral Yoga embraces the whole of life. Indira Devi expressed her ultimate self surrender and divine love through poetry, songs, dance and service to her Guru. Sri Aurobindo asked her to write poetry in English that she had not attempted before. Her first poem “When day is done...” was acclaimed by Sri Aurobindo as poetry of the first order. In Dadaji’s case Sri Aurobindo through his letters took great pains to develop his poetic genius: different metres were discussed, poems corrected, revised and lavish praise both from Sri Aurobindo and Mother was bestowed whenever it was due. Sri Aurobindo and the Mother told Dadaji that his music had great evocative power.

Sri Aurobindo called Dadaji “a unique translator.” Dadaji could and often did, in a matter of minutes, translate Indira Devi’s songs from Hindi to Bengali and English. He also translated, sometime surpassing the original in beauty and meaning, the songs written by others from Bengali and Sanskrit to English and vice-versa in the same tune rhythm and rhyme scheme. This flowering out was brought about by yoga clearing the passage for his psychic being.

In sheer volume, variety, depth and beauty, these letters are unmatched in the history of hagiography. Sri Aurobindo once wrote to Dilip Kumar: “More people are drawn to us through you....” Dadaji’s book Sri Aurobindo Came to Me is full of references to these letters often giving the context, the questions, his own trials and difficulties which elicited Gurudev’s replies. Unfortunately most of Dadaji’s letters to Sri Aurobindo are not available. Originally the idea was to publish the complete correspondence between the Guru and the disciple but this was not possible at this time. However, the discerning readers may be able to construct the background through the perusal of Sri Aurobindo’s letters. As Dadaji Sri Dilip Kumar Roy proclaimed once, “I have written not because of the part played by me but because through my conflict and aspirations, an aspect of his [Sri Aurobindo’s] incredible self comes to the fore – a self whose flowering neither our age nor circumstances could explain.”


We are indebted to Dr. Gobindo Gopal Mukhopadhyay for his constant encouragement, valuable suggestions and for explaining difficult Bengali and Sanskrit phrases in this invaluable collection. Revered Satprem and his team at Mira Aditi played a pivotal role in all aspects of this publication. We would like to make a special mention of Sujatadidi and her long association with Dadaji since her childhood. We want to thank her for her understanding and all the support she has extended. We thank Michel Danino for his dedicated and sincere effort in making this publication as beautiful and as perfect as possible. We also thank Patrice Marot for his patience and his selfless work.

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

Shankar Bandyopadhyay
Hari Krishna Mandir, Pune
February 21, 2003



In 1928, Dilip decided to live permanently in the ashram at Pondicherry. That was two years after Sri Aurobindo’s complete withdrawal from public life, and from direct contact with his disciples: they could see him only three times a year (four later on) for a brief darshan, while Mother looked after the whole material aspect of life in the ashram and took direct charge of the disciples.

But they could also write letters to Sri Aurobindo. And write they did, often daily. With inexhaustible patience, Sri Aurobindo would soon spend most of his nights answering every one of them, explaining his Yoga, guiding them in their inner life, encouraging them to overcome doubt, depression, even revolt, and, with the poetically inclined, teaching them the craft, commenting upon and often correcting their poems, and prodding them to use poetry as a means to explore the inner worlds and open themselves to higher realms of consciousness.

That was the case with Dilip too, as these three volumes of correspondence will make clear. The disciple’s letter would usually reach the Master sometime in the evening, and by the next morning (the “return post,” as Sri Aurobindo would call it), the response would generally be delivered.

Sri Aurobindo’s answers might be in the shape of a few marginal comments on the disciple’s letter, scribbled notes on small slips of paper, or longer explanations on full sheets. Only the relevant portion of the disciple’s letter would usually be returned, which explains why most of Dilip’s letters are missing or incomplete. Regrettable as this may be, their tone and content can often be guessed from Sri Aurobindo’s answers.

The reader may remember seeing excerpts from a few in the published volumes of Sri Aurobindo’s correspondence, such as Letters on Yoga or On Himself, not to mention Dilip’s own books such as Sri Aurobindo Came to Me or Among the Great. However, as far as possible, they are complete here: these three volumes contain all the letters that could be found in Dilip’s papers (barring a few of a minor nature) and his published works (in English or Bengali). Much of the present material is therefore published here for the first time.

Sri Aurobindo’s handwriting was often, as he himself readily acknowledged, next to indecipherable.3 (This must however be largely put down to the speed with which he wrote.) All the letters in these volumes have therefore been carefully checked against the original manuscript whenever it was available. Errors may remain, but we trust they will be rare and not too important; doubtful readings or illegible words have been indicated with question marks within brackets. As far as possible, we have tried to follow standard diacritical conventions for Sanskrit and Bengali words (except for those that are commonly used).

This first volume includes correspondence from the time of Dilip’s arrival at Sri Aurobindo’s ashram in 1928 up to the year 1933; vol. 2 will cover 1934 to 1936, and vol. 3 1937 to 1951. Altogether, almost 1,000 letters from Sri Aurobindo and 70 from Mother.

The editors are greatly indebted to Patrice Marot for his help in assembling the material; to Maryse Prat for her careful deciphering and typing of the entire correspondence; and to M. Pramod Kumar for his revision of the manuscript.



Dilip Kumar Roy

Some Biographical Notes

22 Jan. 1897 – Born at 203/1/1 Cornwallis Street Calcutta (his maternal uncle’s house), in a cultured Bengali family.

Father – Dwijendralal Roy (19 July 1863 – 17 May 1913). A dramatist, composer, singer and nationalist with a degree in agriculture from England. Although his mother was a direct descendant of Advaita Goswami of Shantipur, a staunch disciple of Sri Chaitanya (fifteen-sixteen centuries AD), D. L. Roy himself was a rationalist. During his tenure as Deputy Magistrate he dared to tell the Lt. Governor of Bengal that the latter was not an expert in the laws of land survey. The result? He was never granted promotion from his post in spite of his proficiency. That he was not altogether dismissed from service was because of his superior who gave a report that “Mr. Roy is a monument of industry and ability”; while another Englishman told the Lt. Governor, “I think Mr. Roy is right.” Courage and honesty were ingrained in him. His watchword was truth.

Mother – Surabala Devi, daughter of P.C. Majumdar. She was beautiful like a daughter of heaven as her name implies. Dwijendralal loved her so much that he never looked at another woman when his wife died at the age of twenty-seven (on 29 Nov. 1903); he brought up his children fulfilling both the roles of father and mother.

Paternal grandfather – Kartikeya Chandra Roy (1820–85). Dewan of Krishnanagar. A man of character and honesty, he was also a musician and composer, his book Geetamanjari was published in 1875.

Maternal grandfather – Pratap Chandra Majumdar (1851–1922). A self-made man, he founded a school of homoeopathy and a hospital at Calcutta (which continue to function to this day). As a homoeopath, he treated Sri Ramakrishna Paramahamsa during his last illness of throat cancer. He held Iswar Chandra Vidyasagar in high esteem, with whose encouragement he married Barahini Devi, When she was twelve years old; she had been widowed at the age of eight.

1908 – D. L. Roy built Suradham. Dilip Kumar Roy’s spiritual quest started in this house.

1908–1909 – Nirmalendu Lahiri, his cousin and devout follower of Sri Ramakrishna Paramahamsa, took him to Sri «M» (Sri Mahendranath Gupta), who had kept a day-to-day record of Sri Ramakrishna’s sayings, later published as Ramakrishna Kathamrita in Bengali (translated into English as The Gospel of Sri Ramakrishna, 1922). Dilip was deeply fascinated by Sri Ramakrishna’s personality, installed him in his heart as his Guru and loved him deeply. He wrote, “Faith suddenly descended into me – the Mother’s grace through the soul-stirring message of her beloved son, the great Messiah Sri Ramakrishna.”

17 May 1913 – Sudden demise of his father Dwijendralal Roy, owing to apoplexy.

1913 – Passed matriculation examination with scholarship, scoring high marks in Sanskrit and mathematics. Joined Presidency College and took up science. Met Subhash Chandra Bose; a lasting and intimate friendship developed.

1918 – Passed BSc with first class Honours in mathematics.

1919 – Left for England to pursue further studies at Cambridge. Subhash Chandra Bose joined him subsequently.

July, 1920 – Met Romain Rolland in Switzerland and sang before him; Romain Rolland praised his music.

1920–1921 – Passed Part I mathematical tripos and Part I music special in Cambridge.

1921 – Extremely impressionable, he took up one line after another, studied LLB to become a barrister, deposited fees for CA. Meanwhile, Rabindranath Tagore urged him to take up music as a career; Subhash and Rolland added their weight to this suggestion. Dilip wrote, “Rolland finally persuaded me to direct all my energies to the cultivation of a musical career.” Learnt French, German, Italian and a little of Russian.

1922 – Went to Germany to study Western music. Lectured at an international conference at Lugano, Switzerland, attended by world celebrities like Bertrand Russell, Romain Rolland, Hermann Hesse, Georges Duhamel and others. Met President Masaryk of Czechoslovakia. Toured Vienna, Prague, Budapest, etc. to speak on Indian music and culture, including Sanskrit.

Nov. 1922 – Returned to India and went on a tour studying Indian music from classical masters like Abdul Karim, Faiz Khan, Chandan Chaube, Pandit Bhatkhande, Gaurishankar Mishra, Surendranath Majumdar, Hafiz Ali Khan and others. Wrote a book in Bengali on Indian music, Bhramyamaner Dina Panjika (Diary of a Musical Rover) which won him instant fame in Bengal.

1922 – Met Ronald Nixon, a professor at Lucknow University, who introduced Dilip to Sri Aurobindo, asking him to read Essays on the Gita; he later came to be known as Yogi Sri Krishnaprem, whose Guru was Yashoda Maa (wife of the then vice-chancellor of Lucknow University). A lifelong friendship ensued, and their correspondence continued till Krishnaprem’s passing away in 1965.

Their 1922 meeting took place at the residence of Atul Prasad Sen, a leading barrister of Lucknow, a musician and lyricist, whose music became popular in Bengal through Dilip.

1922–23 – Became very popular as a musician and a composer. Started teaching music and giving charity concerts with his students at Rammohan Library in Calcutta.

24 Jan. 1924 – Two days after his 27th birthday, Dilip met Sri Aurobindo at Pondicherry.

1925 – Got an offer from Pt. Madan Mohan Malaviya to hold the chair of music at the Banaras Hindu University, and an invitation to become the director of All India Radio. Declined both offers.

1927 – Received an invitation from the Edison Company of America to make his first long-playing disc. Subhash Chandra Bose arranged a felicitation programme at the Rammohan Library, where Poet Rabindranath and novelist Sarat Chandra Chatterjee came to bless him. Toured Europe giving lectures on music. At Nice (France), he met Madame Calve, a famous prima donna who had found solace in Swami Vivekananda, and the philosopher Paul Richard, who gave him a final impetus towards Sri Aurobindo; a profound feeling of vairāgya gripped him and he returned to India cancelling his journey to the USA.

22 Nov. 1928 – Beginning of his stay at the Pondicherry ashram. Overcoming all his vacillation, he surrendered himself to Sri Aurobindo and the Mother. He wrote to Sri Aurobindo, “I surrender unconditionally to you all I have and am. You must accept me.”

1937 – A brief visit to Calcutta after nine years. Met Uma Bose who had an enchanting voice, and taught her music.

1938 – On invitation from the Calcutta University and the Director of public instruction, Dilip wrote Geetashree for the music syllabus of Calcutta University, with notations and technical details of Hindustani music. Another book, Sangitikee, gave a historical account of classical and folk music of Northern India. Both books were prescribed texts of the Calcutta University.

22 Jan. 1942 – Uma Bose passed away, leaving a vacuum in Bengali music. Her untimely death was a great loss for Dilip but his musical and literary creativity never ceased.

7 Oct. 1946 – Met Janak Kumari (later known as Smt. Indira Devi) at Jabbalpur. Also met M. S. Subbulakshmi and taught her Mira bhajans for the film Mirabai. (Later, in 1971, M. S. came to Hari Krishna Mandir to learn songs, mainly Indira Devi’s Mira bhajans and Dilip’s Bengali songs.)

22 Jan. 1947 – Bengal celebrated Dilip’s 50th birthday, acknowledging the versatility of his genius as a poet, thinker, novelist, musician and mystic, and presenting him with a purse for the Ashram and a set of annotated Srimad Bhagavatam. Later on he wrote two masterpieces, Bhagavati Katha and Immortals of the Bhagavat.

21 Feb. 1949 – On Mother’s birthday, Indira Devi came to Pondicherry for darshan. After darshan she went into bhava Samadhi at Dilip’s place while he was singing. Sri Aurobindo endorsed it as genuine and wrote that the Samadhi was of savikalpa type and she was ready for the yoga. Ultimately with Sri Aurobindo’s and Mother’s blessings, Dilip gave her initiation. She started hearing in trance Hindi songs sung by Mirabai, and the songs were documented. This phenomenon was authenticated by Sri Aurobindo and continued as long as Indira Devi was alive.

5 Dec. 1950 – Sri Aurobindo’s passing away shattered Dilip’s world.

1 Oct. 1951 – Dilip heard himself Mirabai’s voice for the first time. He maintained a diary chronicling his conversations with her, a part of which was later published by his ashram in Indiranjali vol. 1, regarding the advent of Mira. During this time he took a vow of akash vritti, depending completely on the Divine for sustenance.

Jan. 1953 – Went on a world tour with Indira Devi as cultural and spiritual ambassador of India, sponsored by the Indian government, and met a number of world celebrities. The complete account of his tour was written in Deshe Deshe Chali Udey a travelogue in Bengali.

1954 – Though in deep financial crisis, he declined an offer for the post of Arts Director of Annamalai University by Sir C. P. Ramaswamy Aiyar and went to Pune to stay in a dilapidated bungalow called “Dunlavin Cottage” of Sir Chunilal Mehta.

1957 – Sixtieth birthday celebrated in Calcutta. A Golden Book was presented to him by his numerous friends and admirers containing articles, poems and letters appraising his literary, musical and spiritual attainments by men of eminence including such contributors as Mahatma Gandhi, Romain Rolland, Rabindranath Tagore, Aldous Huxley, Pandit Nehru, S. Radhakrishnan, Netaji Subhash Chandra Bose and others.

– Papa Ramdas and Mother Krishnabai visited Dilip’s ashram, found him and Indira Devi completely absorbed in intense sadhana and blessed them.

25 April 1958 – At Khandala, he had a beautiful vision of Sri Aurobindo, about which he wrote: “My incomparable Gurudev who came to us here this morning in person. What can science and agnostic reason know of such occult secrecies?”

18 Jan. 1959 – Dilip shifted his Ashram to the present premises in Pune.

1961 – He delivered his famous lecture “Parama Sanskriti” in Bengali and sang at Tagore’s centenary celebration at Marcus Square in Calcutta.

1951-1979 – In this productive phase of Dilip’s life, he was honoured with numerous titles, such as: Sur-Sudhakar from Sanskrit Collage, Calcutta; Fellow of Sangeet Natak Academy; DLitt from Calcutta and Rabindra Bharati Universities; president of Akhil Bharatiya Banga Sanskriti Samelan, Chandigarh. Many saints and celebrities visited his Ashram, including Sri Sri Anandamayee Maa, Srimat Anirvan, Swami Brahmananda of Uttarkashi, Maha Mahopadhya Dr. Gopinath Kaviraj, the then President Dr. S. Radhakrishnan and others and all experienced the great peace pervading the Ashram.

17 Nov. 1973 – Mother leaves her body.

17 Dec 1975 – Dilip started hearing the Lord’s Flute continuously till he breathed his last, a rare spiritual attainment. Many of the melodies heard have been preserved in his notation books. He also wrote suitable songs to fit some of the melodies.

23 Jan. 1976 – Inaugurated the 80th birth anniversary of Netaji Subhash Chandra Bose at Calcutta at Netaji Bhavan. Dilip’s own birthday was also celebrated at Calcutta, and a felicitation volume, Varan Malika, was presented to him.

1977 – Delivered a memorial lecture series on Sri Aurobindo at Pune University: 1) “Sri Aurobindo, Minstrel of Light and Dharma”; 2) “Sri Aurobindo, Minstrel of Faith and Love”; 3) “Sri Aurobindo, Minstrel of Harmony and Immortality”; 4) “Sri Aurobindo, Minstrel of Vision and Intuition.”

1979 – On 1st October he had a vision of Maa Radha Rani at Bombay. He became unwell from 11 November. On 23 November he wrote his last poem Antim Prarthana in his own hand. One day he wrote in his diary, “Namah Sri Aurobindaya – Sarvadevoh mayah guru.” Till the last minute he was alert and conscious. Once Maa Indira Devi asked him when he was a little drowsy, if he remembered Bhishma’s hymn to Sri Krishna from the Srimad Bhagavat; he recited the whole hymn, in his gorgeous voice though grown weak now, without faltering.

6 Jan. 1980 – Dilip said in the morning, “Wash my hands, I have to touch the Lord’s feet today.” The great minstrel-saint reached the lotus feet of the Lord.

A Birthday Message

The Divine gives itself to those who give themselves without reserve and in all their parts to the Divine. For them the calm, the light, the power, the bliss, the freedom, the wideness, the heights of knowledge, the seas of Ananda.

(Dilip settled in the Ashram on 22 November 1928.)



June 1929

Silence can mean many other things besides consent. I do not know that I can consent to the dedication without seeing what you have written. I can read your Bengali writing very well, but I am afraid it would be difficult for me to make time, especially as you are in a hurry to publish.

But why all these dedications – especially to Ramakrishna and Vivekananda who seem to me to have very little to do with the theme of your play?4

I do not remember that I have ever written anything on this subject. In any case I do not wish to write anything about it now. People discuss these matters from a mental plane on which I no longer stand, their ideas about it on either side have nothing to do with the inner truth of things which is alone of any importance.


A Message of November 1929

It is not by your mind that you can hope to understand the Divine and its action, but by the growth of the true and divine consciousness within you. If the Divine were to unveil and reveal itself in all its glory, the mind might feel a Presence, but it would not understand its action or its nature. It is in the measure of your own realisation and by the birth and growth of that greater consciousness in yourself that you will see the Divine and understand its action even behind its terrestrial disguises.


January 1930

It means both the individual and the cosmic Nature. The Divine is concealed in the secret heart of all things and all beings. The phrase is an allusion to the constant Vedic and Upanishadic expression Hṛdaye guhāyām, nihitaṃ guhāyām, gūdham guhāyām [hidden in the secret cavern of the heart]. What is meant, in the individual nature, is the secret psychic centre which is covered up in man by egoistic emotion and feeling and desire.

It is not necessary to translate the word, Nature. Any word or epithet which will convey the idea of the secret centre of the being or the consciousness, will do equally well.


March 16, 1930

(About a book Dilip was preparing.)

I return the remaining Mss.

(1) I have corrected more extensively the conversation, adding one or two things where the thought was insufficient or not clear. The note about Yogic Sadhan may be omitted.

(2) The two poems, “Who?” and “In the Moonlight” can be taken. I think it is these two you wanted to include in the book – I have not got your note by me at the moment.

(3) The two Conversations5, 9 (on Divine Love) and 14 (on Art and Yoga), can also be included in the book.

(4) The Letter was not written by me; it is not well expressed and the ideas in it belong to an order of thought that I have now long overpassed. I do not care to have it published.

(5) I do not know where you got the facts in your account of my life; but after starting to correct it I had to give up the attempt in despair. It is chock full of errors and inaccuracies: this cannot be published. As for the account of my spiritual experience, I mean of the Bombay affair, somebody must have inflicted on you a humorous caricature of it. This too cannot “go.” The best will be to omit all account or narrative and say – at not too much length, I would suggest – what you think it necessary to say about me.

(6) You will naturally have to say something to account for the presence of two “Conversations with the Mother” in the book. Of course, you will send what you have to say on this point for the Mother’s approval and mine.

That, I think, is all.

I did not send you the Mss before because, so far as my part in the book was concerned, the time for the publication did not seem to me to have come. Besides, the form (after all, only a surface talk [?]) seemed to me too slight for a first introduction of my teaching to the general public. But now it will do.


June 27, 1930

I would prefer another form more in keeping with the tone of the text,– e.g.

“It may be observed that Sri Aurobindo’s education in England gave him a wide introduction to the culture of ancient, of mediaeval and of modern Europe. He was a brilliant scholar in Greek and Latin, [passed the Tripos in Cambridge in the first division, obtained record marks in Greek and Latin in the examination for the Indian Civil Service.] He had learned French from his childhood in Manchester and studied for himself Italian and German sufficiently to read Dante and Goethe in the original tongue.”

I have left the detail about the Tripos and the record marks, though I do not find these trifles in place here; the note would read much better with the omission of the part between the vertical lines.6

(But what is Beachcroft doing here? He butts in in such a vast and spreading parenthesis that he seems to be one of “these ancient languages” and in him too, perhaps, I got record marks! Besides, any ingenious reader would deduce from his presence in your note that he acquitted me out of fellow-feeling over the two examinations and out of university camaraderie,– which was far from being the case. I met him only in the I.C.S. classes and at the I.C.S. examinations and we never exchanged two words together. If any extra legal consideration came in subconsciously in the acquittal, it must have been his admiration for my prose style to which he gave fervent expression in his judgment. Don’t drag him in like this,– let him rest in peace in his grave.)


March 1930 (?)

I cannot fully answer just now as it is nearly six o’clock – but of this you may be sure that you will never get my consent to go away and give up the sadhana and the spiritual endeavour – for it comes to that. It is not by going away from the difficulties that the difficulties will disappear. They are in oneself and it is in oneself that they must be overcome.

I shall write more tonight. I may say that the Mother was not in the least changed towards you and there is no reason why she should be so. As for myself if I am dry and perhaps rather snappy [?] it is because I am much pressed by difficulties on every side – you will have to be patient with me till I get out of the press.


March 30, 1930

It is certainly the force hostile to the Yoga and the divine realisation upon earth that is acting upon you at the present moment. It is the force (one force and not many) which is here in the Ashram and has been going about from one to another. With some as with Barin, V. and Prashanta it has succeeded; others have cast it from them and have been able to liberate the light of their soul, open in that light to the nearness and constant presence of the Mother, feel her working in them and move forward in a constant spiritual progress. Some are still struggling, but in spite of the bitterness of the struggle have been able to keep faithfully to the divine call that brought them here.

That it is the same hostile force would be shown, even if its presence were not for us visible and palpable, by the fact that the suggestions it makes to the minds of its victims are always the same. Its one master sign is always this impulse to get away from the Ashram, away from myself and the Mother, out of this atmosphere, and at once. For the force does not want to give time for reflection, for resistance, for the saving Power to be felt and act. Its other signs are doubt, tamasic depression, an exaggerated sense of impurity and unfitness, the idea that the Mother is remote, does not care for one, is not giving what she ought to give, is not divine, with other similar suggestions accompanied by an inability to feel her presence or her help, a feeling that the Yoga is not possible or is not going to be done in this life, the desire to go away and do something in the ordinary world – the thing itself suggested varying according to the personal mind. If it were not this one invariable hostile force acting, there would not be this exact similarity in all the cases. In each case it is the same obscurities thrown on the intelligence, the same subconscious movements of the vital brought to the surface, the same irrational impulses pushing to the same action,– departure, renunciation of the soul’s truth, refusal of the Divine Love and the Divine Call.

It is the vital crisis, the test, the ordeal for you as for others – a test and ordeal which we would willingly spare to those who are with us but which they call on themselves by persistence in some wrong line of movement or some falsification of the inner attitude. If you reject entirely the falsehood that this force casts upon the sadhak, if you remain faithful to the Light that called you here, you conquer and, even if serious difficulties still remain, the final victory is sure and the divine triumph of the soul over the Ignorance and the darkness.

The opportunity for these contrary forces is given when the sadhak descends in the inevitable course of the sadhana from the mental or the higher vital plane to the physical consciousness. Always this is accompanied by a fading of the first deep experiences and a descent to the neutral obscure inertia which is the bed-rock of the unredeemed physical nature. It is there that the Light, the Power, the Ananda of the Divine has to descend and transform everything, driving away for ever all obscurity and all inertia and establishing the radiant Energy, the perfect Light and the unchanging Bliss. There and not in the mind or the higher vital is all the difficulty, but there too must be the victory and the foundation of the new world. I do not wish to disguise from you the difficulty of this great and tremendous change or the possibility that you may have a long and hard work before you, but are you really unwilling to face it and take your share in the great work? Will you reject the greatness of this endeavour to follow a mad irrational impulse towards some more exciting work of the hour or the moment for which you have no true call in any part of your nature?

There is no true reason for despondency; in nothing that has passed in you or which you have written do I find any good ground for it. The difficulties you experience are nothing to those that others have felt and yet conquered, others who were not stronger than you. All that has happened is that by this descent into the physical consciousness, the ordinary external human nature has come to the front with its elemental imperfections and subconscient unsatisfied impulses and it is to these that the contrary force is appealing. The mind and the higher vital have put away from them the ideas and illusions which gave them a sanction and an illusion of legitimacy and even nobility in their satisfaction. But the root of them, their inherent irrational push for satisfaction, has not yet gone – this, for instance, is the reason for the sexual movements which you have recently felt in sleep or in waking. This was inevitable. All that is needed is for your psychic being to come forward and open you to the direct and real and constant inner contact of myself and the Mother. Hitherto your soul has expressed itself through the mind and its ideals and admirations or through the vital and its higher joys and aspirations; but that is not sufficient to conquer the physical difficulty and enlighten and transform Matter. It is your soul in itself, your psychic being that must come in front, awaken entirely and make the fundamental change. The psychic being will not need the support of intellectual ideas or outer signs and helps. It is that alone that can give you the direct feeling of the Divine, the constant nearness, the inner support and aid. You will not then feel the Mother remote or have any further doubt about the realisation; for the mind thinks and the vital craves, but the soul feels and knows the Divine.

Cast away from you these movements of doubt, depression and the rest which are no part of your true and higher nature. Reject these suggestions of inability, unfitness and all these irrational movements of an alien force. Remain faithful to the Light of your soul even when it is hidden by clouds. My help and the Mother’s will be there working behind even in the moments when you cannot feel it. The one need for you and for all is to be, even in the darkness of the powers of obscurity of the physical consciousness, stubbornly faithful to your soul and to the remembrance of the Divine Call.

Be faithful and you will conquer.


March 30, 1930

I return excerpts and poems; subject to the excisions I have made they can be published.

But there are mistakes in the typing...

When I spoke of being faithful to the light of the soul and the divine Call, I was not referring to anything in the past or to any lapse on your part. I was simply suggesting the great need in all crises and attacks,– to refuse to listen to any suggestions, impulses, lures and to oppose to them all the call of the Truth, the imperative beckoning of the Light. In all doubt and depression, to say, “I belong to the Divine, I cannot fail;” to all suggestions of impurity and unfitness, to reply, “I am a child of Immortality chosen by Sri Aurobindo and the Mother; I have but to be true to myself and to them – the victory is sure; even if I fall, I would be sure to rise again,” to all impulsions to depart and serve some other ideal, to reply, “This is the greatest, this is the Truth, this alone can satisfy the soul within me; I will endure through all tests and tribulations to the very end of the divine journey.” This is what I mean by faithfulness to the Light and the Call.


April 11, 1930

The “Introduction” will do. I do not know quite which is the conversation on “surrender” to which you refer, as I have not just now the Conversations before me. You sent me one for inclusion (besides the two originally chosen) along with the other Mss. If it is that, you can include it.

I am afraid I cannot gratify the poetess; I have made it a rule not to sign or write anything in autograph books and if I break the rule in one case, I have no defence in others.

I am afraid the handwriting and style of the letter are rather affected, maniéré. There is no simple spontaneity – too much attempt to be something or show something that is put on. Probably she has tried too much to put on Tagore-colour to be herself. However I will look at her poems when I have leisure – it may not be very soon – and see what they are like.


April 16, 1930

The message on faithfulness to the soul’s Divine Ideal seems to me too personal to be published.

It is better not to speak of these things that concern the life of the Ashram and the Yoga to people (like these cyclists) coming from outside who are generally moved by curiosity of a most trivial and superficial kind. But the distorted interview seems to me more silly than intentionally malicious or capable of doing harm.


May 7, 1930

It does not matter about the poem.

I send back the farce; I cannot say that I have gone through it, but there is no objection to your giving it.

I have after so long a time got some idea of the introduction, but I do not know yet whether in the next few days it will materialise – or whether, when materialised, it will be satisfactory or even publishable. I will see in three or four days – though it is difficult to make time.

As for your sadhana – remember that an inner quietude, caused by the purification of the restless mind and vital, is the first condition of a secure sadhana. Next, that to feel the Mother’s presence while in external action is already a great step and one that cannot be attained without a considerable inner progress. Probably, what you feel that you need is a constant and vivid sense of the Mother’s force working in you, descending from above and taking possession of the different planes of your being. That is often a prior condition for the twofold movement of ascent and descent, and it will surely come in time. These things often take a long time to begin visibly, especially when the mind is accustomed to be very active and has not the habit of mental silence. When that is the case, much work has to be carried on behind the veil of the mind and the sadhak thinks nothing is happening when really much preparation is being done. If you want a more swift and visible progress, it can only be by bringing your psychic to the front through a constant self-offering. Aspire intensely, but without impatience.

P.S. More can certainly be given to the physician, but first, as he himself admits, the treatment must be finished and brought to a full and lasting success.


June 1, 1930

Re the dreams. You do not realise how much of the ordinary natural being lives in the subconscient physical. It is there that habitual movements, mental and vital, are stored and from there they come up into the waking mind. Driven out of the upper consciousness, it is in this cavern of the Panis that they take refuge. No longer allowed to emerge freely in the waking state, they come up in sleep in dreams. It is only when they are cleared out of the subconscient, their very seeds killed by the enlightening of these hidden layers, that they cease for good. As your consciousness deepens inwardly and the higher light comes down into these subliminal parts, these things will disappear.

I shall see whether I can get the thing done (the facts of the life) in these ten days.

I fear it is quite impossible for me to read what you sent me just now. Perhaps a week or two later. I suppose there can be no objection to your publishing the novel7 – especially as there is no politics in it.


September 1930 (?)

... I will try to explain the concentration; it is not really very difficult or abstruse. Nor is the Yoga so mysterious as all that; almost all the elements in it are quite familiar to the Vedantin, Vaishnava or Tantrik. It is only the combination of elements and their orientation that is new – and of course its being put in English instead of Sanskritic terms.

The “too good” idea is a delusion – it does not depend on that; people with less intelligence, more vital confusion and resistance, have at length got the opening. The main thing is to get rid of the despondency and disturbance of the mind, make it more quiet and peaceful too as to receive. I don’t expect you at all to do the thing off your own bat, once you get the habit of receiving (as you did with the poetry) I am prepared to take you the whole way myself. Not in a day of course; kala [time] is necessary as well as the Guru.


September 1930 (?)

I was very glad to get your letter and especially to know that you are more at peace. That is what is first needed, the settling down of a natural peace and quiet on the nature – the spiritual peace is a bigger thing that can come afterwards.

Then as to concentration. Ordinarily the consciousness is spread out everywhere, dispersed, running in this or that direction, after this subject and that object in multitude. When anything has to be done of a sustained nature the first thing one does is to draw back all this dispersed consciousness and concentrate. It is then, if one looks closely, bound to be concentrated in one place and on one occupation, subject or object – as when you are composing a poem or a botanist is studying a flower. The place is usually somewhere in the brain, if it is the thought, in the heart if it is the feeling in which one is concentrated. The yogic concentration is simply an extension and intensification of the same thing. It may be on an object as when one does trātak on a shining point – then one has to concentrate so that one sees only that point and has no other thought but that. It may be on an idea or word or a name, the idea of the Divine, the word OM, the name Krishna, or a combination of idea and word or idea and name. But, farther, in Yoga one also concentrates in a particular place. There is the famous rule of concentrating between the eyebrows – the centre of the inner mind, of occult vision, of the will is there. What you do is to think firmly from there on whatever you make the object of your concentration or else try to see the image of it from there. If you succeed in this, then after a time you feel that your whole consciousness is centred there in that place – of course for the time being. After doing it sometimes and often it becomes easy and normal.

I hope this is clear. Well, in this Yoga, you do the same, but not at that particular centre, but anywhere in the head or at the centre of the chest where the physiologists have fixed the cardiac centre. Instead of concentrating on an object, you concentrate in the head in a will, a call for the descent of the peace from above or, as some do, an opening of the unseen lid and an ascent of the consciousness above. In the heart centre one concentrates in an aspiration, for an opening, for the presence of the living image of the Divine there or whatever else is the object. There may be Japa of a name but, if so, there must also be a concentration on it and the name must repeat itself there in the heart centre.

It may be asked what becomes of the rest of the consciousness when there is this local concentration? Well, it either falls silent as in any concentration or, if it does not, then thoughts or other things may move about, as if outside, but the concentrated part does not attend to them or notice. That is when the concentration is reasonably successful.

One has not to fatigue oneself at first by long concentration if one is not accustomed, for then it loses its power and value. One can relax and meditate instead of concentrating. It is only as the concentration becomes normal that one can go on for a longer and longer time.


September 3, 1930

It is a very beautiful poem you have written.

I return your article. I have not been able to make time to go through the whole of it; I will read it when it is printed.

As to the book, I am afraid I have no time for such things. The twenty-four hours are already too short for what I have to do.


September 7, 1930

Yes, let your sister decide these things for herself; do not put any pressure upon her.

There is no reason why one should not receive through the thinking mind, as one receives through the vital, the emotional and the body. The thinking mind is as capable of receiving as these are, and, since it has to be transformed as well as the rest, it must be trained to receive, otherwise no transformation of it could take place.

It is the ordinary unenlightened activity of the intellect that is an obstacle to spiritual experience, just as is the ordinary unregenerated activity of the vital or the obscure stupidly obstructive consciousness of the body. What the Sadhaka has to be warned against is, first, mistaking mental ideas and impressions or intellectual conclusions for realisation; secondly, the restless activity of the mere mind, chanchalaṃ manaḥ which disturbs the spontaneous accuracy of psychic and spiritual experience and gives no room for the descent of the true illuminating knowledge or else deforms it as soon as it touches the human mental plane. Always, it is substituting its own representations and constructions and opinions for the true knowledge. But if the intellect is surrendered, open, quiet, receptive, there is no reason why it should not be a means of reception of the light or an aid to the experience of spiritual states and an inner change.


October 13, 1930

This is a fundamental experience of the Yoga. It is the free ascent of the consciousness to join the Divine. When, liberated from its ordinary identification with the body, it rises upward to have experience of the higher planes, to link itself with the psychic or the true being or to join the Divine Consciousness, then there is this experience of ascension and of speeding or expanding through space. The joy you feel is a sign of this last movement,– rising to join the Divine; the passivity and expectancy of a descent are signs of the openness to the Divine that is its result; there is also the sense of this openness, and emptiness of the ordinary contents of the consciousness, a wideness not limited by the narrow prison of the physical personality. There is too, usually or very often, a massive immobility of the body which corresponds to the silence that comes on the mind when it is released from itself – the Silence that is the foundation of spiritual experience. What you have felt (the former experiences were probably preparatory touches) is indeed the beginning of this foundation – a consciousness free, wide, empty at will, able to rise into the supraphysical planes, open to the descent of whatever the Mother will pour into it.


December 8, 1930

It is again a beautiful poem that you have written, but not better than the other. Why erect mental theories and suit your poetry to them whether your father’s or Tagore’s? I could suggest to you not to be bound by either but to write as best suits your own inspiration and poetic genius. I imagine that each of them wrote in the way suited to his own inspiration and substance and, as is the habit of the human mind, put that way forward as a general rule for all. You have developed an original poetic turn of your own, quite unlike your father’s and not by any means a reflection of Tagore’s. Besides, there is now as a result of your sadhana a new quality in your work, a power of expressing with great felicity a subtle psychic delicacy and depth of thought and emotion which I have not seen elsewhere in modern Bengali verse. If you insist on being rigidly simple and direct as a mental rule, you might spoil something of the subtlety of the expression, even if the delicacy of the substance remained. Obscurity, artifice, rhetoric have to be avoided, but for the rest follow the inner movement.

I do not remember the precise words I used in my letter to Amal8,– I think I advised sincerity and straightforwardness as opposed to rhetoric and artifice. In any case it was far from my intention to lay down any strict rule of bare simplicity and directness as a general law of poetic style. I was speaking of “twentieth century” English poetry and of what was necessary for Amal, an Indian writing in the English tongue. English poetry in former times used inversions freely and had a law of its own, at that time natural and right but the same thing nowadays sounds artificial and false. I have myself used inversions in my earlier poetry, though I would avoid them in anything I wrote now. English has now acquired a richness and flexibility and power of many-sided suggestion which makes it unnecessary for poetry to depart from the ordinary style and form of the language. But there are other languages in which this is not yet true. Bengali is in its youth, in full process of growth and has many things not yet done, many powers and values it has still to acquire. It is necessary that its poets should keep a full and entire freedom of turning in whichever way their genius leads, of finding new forms and movements; if they like to adhere to the ordinary norm of the language to which prose has to keep and do what they can in it, they should be free to do so; but also they should be free to depart from it, if it is by doing so that they can best liberate their souls in speech. At present it is this that most matters.

I think I prefer the original form of your penultimate verse. I did not myself find it ambiguous and it has a native glow of colour in it which the second version misses – at least, so it seems to me on a comparative reading.

P.S. I have had no time to answer today’s letter, but I shall answer it as soon as possible. Do not let your vital get restless,– keep a firm and quiet inner seat. You have progressed much more than you know. Never mind Russell and his shallow materialistic externalism. It is in the inner being that there are the riches and the colour and the immortal joy – but, to get them, first peace, quietude, self-mastery are indispensable.


December 25, 1930

Radharani’s (?) rendering.9

It is not a very satisfactory translation, but your changes improve it as far as it can be improved.

Why tobu [yet] in the fourth line? The idea is that work and knowledge and power can only obey the Divine and give him service; Love alone can compel him because, of course Love is self-giving and the Divine gives himself in return.

As for the second verse it does not give the idea at all. To have no contempt for the clod or the worm does not indicate that the non-despiser is the Divine,– such an idea would be absolutely meaningless and in the last degree feeble. Any Yogi could have that equality, or somebody much less than a Yogi. The idea is that, being Omnipotent, omniscient, infinite, supreme, the Divine does not scorn to descend even into the lowest forms, the obscurest figures of Nature and animate them with the divine Presence,– that shows his Divinity. The whole sense has fizzled out in the translation.

You need not say all that to the poetess, but perhaps you might very delicately hint to her that if she could bring in this point, it could be better. Then perhaps she could herself change the verse.

P.S. I shall answer about your sparkles and sounds – which are not an optical or any other kind of illusion, if you please. Why drag in Science! into a Yogic experience?


December 27, 1930

I send you my version of your version of your poem, Dān-Līlā. I have no time to write it out fair, but I suppose you will be able to piece my alterations together.

I have not forgotten Russell10 but I have neglected him, first, for want of time; second, because for the moment I have mislaid your letter; third, because of lack of understanding on my part. What is the meaning of taking interest in external things for their own sakes? And what is an introvert? Both these problems baffle me.

The word “introvert” has come into existence only recently and sounds like a companion of “pervert.” Literally, it means one who is turned inwards. The Upanishad speaks of the doors of the senses that are turned outwards absorbing man in external things (“for their own sakes,” I suppose?) and of the rare man among a million who turns his vision inwards and sees the Self. Is that man an introvert? And is Russell’s ideal man interested in externals for their own sake, Cheloo, for instance, or Joseph, homo externalis Russellius, an extrovert? Or is an introvert one who has an inner life stronger than his external one,– the poet, the musician, the artist? Was Beethoven in his deafness bringing out music from within an introvert? Or does it mean one who measures external things by an inner standard and is interested in them not for their own sakes but for their value to his inner self-development, psychic, religious, ethical or other. Are Tolstoi and Gandhi examples of introverts? Or in another field Goethe? Or does it mean one who cares for external things only as they concern his own ego? But that I suppose would include 999,999 men out of every million.

What are external things? Russell is a mathematician? Are mathematical formulae external things even though they exist here only in the World-Mind and the mind of man? If not, is Russell as mathematician, an introvert? Again, Yajnavalkya says that one loves the wife not for the sake of the wife, but for the self’s sake, and so with other objects of interest or desire – whether the self be the inner self or the ego. In Yoga it is the valuing of external things in the terms of the desire of the ego that is discouraged – their only value is their value in the manifestation of the Divine. Who desires external things for their own sake and not for some value to the conscious being? Even Cheloo, the day-labourer, is not interested in a two-anna piece for its own sake, but for some vital satisfaction it can bring him; even with the hoarding miser it is the same. It is his vital being’s passion for possession that he satisfies. What then is meant by Russell’s “for their own sake?” If you will enlighten me on these points, I may still make an effort to comment on the mahāvākya [great dictum] of your former guru.

More important is his wonderful phrase about the emptiness within – on that at least I hope to make a comment one day or another.


1931 (?)

I send you back the photos. The Mother says she does not find the Russian actress worse than others of her type, it is always from self-interest that they act and if a man like Suhrawardy11 allows himself to be tempted they will necessarily exploit him and think themselves justified in doing it. His photograph is that of a man imaginative and ardent and emotional, too passionate, excessively candid, and no doubt he has high sentiments and generous impulses. But he was likely to make mistakes in life and not to perceive the actual values or to keep his steps in the right measure. I don’t know the details of his story, but, from what you say, it seems to be a common one – a confusion between the true emotional life and the sensational vital movements which were all that this woman could give, and therefore a gāchis [waste] of the life’s possibilities. Is it that he has not discovered what she is like or he still clings to her in spite of it?


1931 (?)

The verse translations from Nietzsche are very successful, some of them quite admirable, and the poem on Mahakali combines the sublime and the lyrical in a perfect fusion.

Suhrawardy’s poem is exceedingly beautiful, sentimental perhaps, but he has succeeded in transmuting the sentiment into a very poignant emotion and, once that is done, there can be no farther objection from the standpoint of poetic truth. There are just two or three places where the rhythm stumbles. “On those that irrevocably late” – “that” which clashes in sound with late, should be changed to “who”; and “O Lord, shower thy grace” is not rhythmic at all – it should be, “O Lord, shower down thy grace”. Again “O Lord, rain pity” though not unrhythmic and otherwise (emotionally) effective, breaks the movement which is sustained throughout the rest of the poem. Here, however, opinions may differ. But all the rest is admirably done.


1931 (?)

Fragment of a letter

... The presence whose fading he regrets can only be felt if the inner being continues to be consecrated, and the outer nature is put into harmony or at least kept under the touch of the inner spirit. But if he does things which his inner being does not approve, this condition will be inevitably tarnished and, each time, the possibility of his feeling the presence will diminish. He must have a strong will to purification and an aspiration that does not flag and cease, if the Mother’s grace is to be there and effective.


January 25, 1931

I like your new poem immensely – it seems to me that you have achieved in it a largeness and depth of thought and an ample harmony of expression and rhythm which mark a new and remarkable advance in your poetic development. Here at least there is no lack of progress – and a very rapid progress.

Harin’s12 poem [“The Cycle”], though beautiful in expression and good in rhythm, is, as often, fanciful in parts and I do not like the tag about God and clod – it sounds almost silly, but the last two lines (no matter about the flaw in their philosophy) are poetically magnificent. Your translation seems to me excellent; it has got rid of most of the fancifulness and your version of the God-clod lines is preferable to the original. It is only the close that fails to render the power of the text; but it may not be possible in Bengali.

The translation of Suhrawardy [“Some Day”] is also good; only the stormy night gives it a quite different atmosphere which is not that of the original poem. Whatever merit the original has depends upon its quiet and subdued tones and the very slightness of the figures and details of the cadre for the light memory of another’s deep and tragic sorrow,– purposely, everything loud, emphatic or dramatic is avoided. But in the translation the stormy night brings in this very element of something emphatic and dramatic. I do not say that the translation is not poetic and harmonious,– it is, but in a different tone altogether and with a different suggestion, a graver emotion, but a less subtly pathetic power of contrast.

The rendering of “Revelation” [Sri Aurobindo’s poem] is even better than the two others, well inspired from beginning to end; the colouring is not quite the same as in my poem, but that is hardly avoidable in a poetic version in another language. To alter it, as you propose, would be to spoil it. There is no point in rendering literally “wind-blown locks”, and it would be a pity to throw out dīptimayī [lustrous, radiant], for it is just the touch needed to avoid the suggestion of a merely human figure. It is needed – for readers are often dense. An Indian critic (very competent, if a little academic) disregarding all the mystic suggestions and even the plain statement of the closing couplet, actually described the poem as the poet’s memory of a girl running past him on the seashore!!

I refuse to fall into your trap about Tagore. In vain is the net spread openly in the sight of the bird by the fowler.


1931 (?)

... I am very glad; you will certainly have our blessings in the carrying out of your resolve. Mother did not mean quite what you thought. She was thinking of certain others who had been much more unfortunate than you, their way quite barren in spite of their demand – by their own fault of course, but still – and without any experience or signs of possible progress, and she was thinking that after all you had some things given they had not, experiences, that were not without significance in dream or meditation, beginnings and promises only but still promises which show that the capacity was there once you could reject the impediments. That was all.

I started to read your poem and at first found myself at sea, but I realised it was a mind jaded with correspondence that was responsible. Afterwards I took it up again and found it sufficiently easy except that here and there one has to read twice before catching the full sense. I can see however that the mode of expression would be difficult to many I can hardly answer your question about the few and many. Clarity is a great power – on the other hand subtlety has its charms too and what is not clear to the first generation of readers seems quite clear to those who come after. On the whole one must write in one’s own way – provided there is no excess as with certain poets who can only be read by the few because they wrote for themselves only and not even for a chosen audience. But you are not any way near that, so that is only by the way. (...)


February 2, 1931

Of course you can write to Bijoy, if you like. I doubt whether his intervention will have any effect on your Toku Mama [maternal uncle] who, if he is not bad in essence, seems certainly to have become tortuous in practice – I suppose, by influence and example.

Your friend Marthe Vanek has very good aspirations, but her mind seems to go many ways at once. What does she want exactly? A Guru? You know what this path is and how exclusive and exacting. “Unity” of Kansas city, Charles Fillmore’s Christian Healing and supramental Yoga pulling the same chariot would be a picture!

I have not forgotten my promise to explain the sparkles to you. Free Will is still “under consideration.”


February 7, 1931

Certainly, firmness and a little phons kora [hiss] (of course, a quiet and courteous hiss) seem the best way of getting your money, if it is at all possible13.

As for the “urge”, if you resist the inspiration, the chances are that you will lose both the urge and your meditation. So it is better to let the flood have its way – especially in this case, of course, for there is no harm in this kind of urge.


March 7, 1931

Another very beautiful poem, perfect in inspiration and measure.

I do not think you are right in attributing Chadwick’s14 migration to any friction with you. His main inconvenience was the clash between the often animated conversation of those who gathered there (some of them have, as we know, very hearty voices) and his hours of sleep. He said that he had no right to object to people with a strong vitality from giving it vent in spirited conversation, but he was feeling more and more an inner need for quiet and solitude, and he thought it would be better for him to have other arrangements made for him than to act as a stopper upon others. His letter to the Mother asking for the change was in a very good tone and quite free from ill-will or personal feeling. So you need not be troubled in mind about it.

I do not think there has been any deterioration in your character. There may have been some nervous sensitiveness and perturbations due to the pressure on the nervous being to change its poise, but that is all; it is a thing almost inevitable and sure to pass when the right poise has been taken. It is of no great importance.


March 13, 1931

Your bells etc., mentioned by you as recent experiences were already enumerated as long ago as the time of the Upanishads as signs accompanying the opening to the larger consciousness, brahmaṇyabhivyaktikarāni yoge. If I remember right your sparks come in the same list. The fact has been recorded again and again in Yogic literature. I had the same experience hundreds of times in the earlier part of my Sadhana. So you see you are in very honourable company in this matter and need not trouble yourself about the objections of physical science.


March 21, 1931

I see from your letters that you have not at all understood what I meant to say in mine,15 – which shows that I failed to make my meaning clear. I have therefore to write again about the Ananda and the conditions under which it can come. But there is a good deal of confusion here to be disentangled and I may not be able to finish tonight. In the meanwhile I think it better to make certain things clear.

First, it is a great exaggeration to deduce from your difficulties any idea of unfitness or of going away or being sent away or giving up the Yoga. I am certainly not going to pronounce you unfit because you want the Ananda; on such grounds I would have to pronounce myself unfit, because I have myself wanted it and many other things besides. And if I were to send you away because you are not entirely disinterested in the approach to the Divine, I should have, to be consistent, to send practically the whole Ashram packing. I do not know why you are allowing yourself to indulge in such black and despondent thoughts – there is no ground for them at all and I do not think I gave any ground for them in my letter. Whatever your difficulties, the Mother and I have every intention of seeing you through them, and I think that you too, whatever suggestions your vital depression may make to you at the moment, have every intention of going through to the end of the Path. I imagine you have gone too far on it to go back and, if you wanted to, your psychic being which has persistently pushed you towards it, would not allow such a retreat.

Next, it was not my intention to say that it was wrong to aspire for the Ananda. What I wanted to point out was the condition for the permanent possession of the Ananda (intimations, visits, downrushes of it one can have before); the essential condition for it is a change of consciousness, the coming of peace, light, etc., all that brings about the transition from the normal to the spiritualised nature. And that being so, it is better to make this change of consciousness the first object of the sadhana. On the other hand, to press for the constant Ananda immediately in a consciousness which is not yet able to retain it, still more to substitute for it lesser (vital) joys and pleasures may very well stop the flow of these spiritualised experiences which make the continuous ecstasy eventually possible. But I certainly never intended to say that the Ananda was not to be attained or to insist on your moving towards a nirānanda [blisslessness] Brahman. On the contrary, I said that Ananda was the crown of the Yoga, which surely means that it was part of the highest final siddhi [realization].

Whatever one wants sincerely and persistently from the Divine, the Divine is sure to give. If then you want Ananda and go on wanting, you will surely have it in the end. The only question is what is to be the chief power in your seeking, a vital demand or a psychic aspiration manifesting through the heart and communicating itself to the mental and vital and physical consciousness. The latter is the greatest power and makes the shortest way – and besides one has to come to that way sooner or later.

I may observe also that, from your own account, it was the psychic aspiration that began your push towards the Yoga.


March 21, 1931

Evidently, the condition into which you have fallen is due to an upsurging of suppressed elements in the lower vital nature. It has been compelled by the mind and the higher vital part in you to give up the little “joys and pleasures” to which it was habituated, but it – or at any rate the subconscient part of it which is often the most powerful – did that without entire conviction and probably with “reservations” and “safeguards” and in exchange for a promise of compensations, other and greater joys and pleasures to replace all it was losing. This is evident from what you write; your description of the nature of the depression, the return of what you call impure thoughts which are merely indices of the subconscient lower vital desire-complex, the doubt thrown upon the generosity of the Divine, the demand for compensation for losses, something like striking a bargain with the Divine, a quid pro quo pact, are all unmistakable. Latterly, there has been a combination of circumstances (Sahana’s16 turning inwards, Chadwick’s emigration, etc.) which have rather suddenly increased the deprivation of its former outlets; this attack is its way of non-cooperation or protest. There is only one way to deal with it,– to cast the whole thing away, depression, demands, doubts, sex-thoughts, the whole undesirable baggage,– and have in its place the one true movement, the call for the consciousness and the presence of the Divine.

It may be that behind this persistence of the lower vital demand for satisfaction there was something not quite clear – in the obscurer part of the physical mind – in your mental attitude towards the Yoga. You seem to regard this demand for the replacement of the old lower vital satisfactions by other joys and pleasures as something quite legitimate; but joys and pleasures are not the object of Yoga and a bargain or demand for a replacement of this kind can be no legitimate or healthy element in the sadhana. If it is there, it will surely impede the flow of spiritual experience. Ananda, yes; but Ananda and the spiritual happiness which precedes it (adhyātma-sukham) are something quite different from joys and pleasures. And even Ananda one cannot demand or make it a condition for pursuing the sadhana – it comes as a crown, a natural outcome and its true condition is the growth of the true consciousness, peace, calm, light, strength, the equanimity which resists all shocks and persists through success and failure. It is these things which must be the first objects of the sadhana, not any hedonistic experience even of the highest kind; for that must come of itself as a result of the Divine Presence.

I would rather like you to tell me what, precisely, you do in your hours of meditation, how you do it and what happens within you.

Meanwhile, the first thing you must do is to throw out this perilous stuff of despondency and its accompaniments and recover a quiet and clear balance. A quiet mind and a quiet vital are the first conditions for success in sadhana.


April 7, 1931

I suppose I am silent, first, because I have no “free-will” and, secondly, because I have no Time.

Less metaphysically and more yogically, there are periods when silence becomes imperative, because to throw oneself outward delays the “work that has to be done.”

I suppose some day I will write about Free Will, but for the moment there is no effective will, free or otherwise, to do it. There is no niyoga [appointment] from “Hrishikesh”, I am afraid your uncle will have to wait till it comes.


April 7, 1931

... It is the old trick of despondency trying to come up again and have its spell or its gloomy innings – that is why it is trying to persuade you that truth is on its side, that you have never had the least shadow of any inner experience and especially that Yoga must be a grim affair in which there is no place for music or literature. The first thing to do is not to open the door to these old visitors.

It is better often to offer one’s work to the Divine in an atmosphere of peace and joy and gratitude, feelings which are helpful to Bhakti than to have a gloomy or struggling meditation. The first thing to get in meditation is a quiet mind and if possible a happy, at least a quiet vital. You have certainly had better things in meditation than groping or barren darkness – and there is no reason why it should not bring these better things. It is a question of getting the right poise.


April 11, 1931

Yes, you can send the half-dozen prayers. I shall make time to read your new old poem. I see from a glance at it that you are spreading yourself out. Remember that in lyrical poetry this is a difficult process – one is apt to beat out the gold wire too thin, to replace it where it fails by apparent gold only. Shelley, Swinburne and many others fail by diffusion, except in a very few long poems – and are at their best when they are more brief. So, if you go in for lyrical lengths, much care will be needed – the principle must be to make each verse the best.


April 20, 1931

I think the best thing I can write to you in the circumstances is to recommend to you Nolini’s17 aphorism, “Depression need not be depressing; rather it should be made a jumping-board for the leap to a higher and happier poise.”

The rule in Yoga is not to let the depression depress you, to stand back from it, observe its cause and remove the cause; for the cause is always in oneself, perhaps a vital defect somewhere, a wrong movement indulged or a petty desire causing a recoil, sometimes by its satisfaction, sometimes by its disappointment. In Yoga a desire satisfied, a false movement given its head produces very often a worse recoil than disappointed desire.

What is needed for you is to live more deeply within, less in the outer vital and mental which is exposed to these touches. The inmost psychic being is not oppressed by them; it stands in its own closeness to the Divine and sees the small surface movements as surface things foreign to the true being.

Your poem18 is a very moving one,– delicate, true and beautiful in every line.


April 22, 1931

To live within does not mean to give up reading and writing or other external activities; I shall try to explain to you what I meant. I had in fact started to do so when you had your last fit of despondency, but stopped when you recovered, thinking it was not after all necessary and supposing besides that the essential in what I was about to write must already be known to you. Now, however, that the despondency has returned and you put the question, I will this time try to explain the whole matter.

It is evident that you still cherish some misunderstanding about peace and joy and Ananda. (Peace, by the way, is not joy – for peace can be there even when joy is quiescent.) It is not a fact that one ought not to pray or aspire for peace or spiritual joy. Peace is the very basis of all the siddhi in the Yoga, and why should not one pray or aspire for foundation in the Yoga? Spiritual joy or a deep inner happiness (not disturbed even when there come superficial storms or perturbations) is a constant concomitant of contact or union with the Divine, and why should it be forbidden to pray or aspire for contact with the Divine and the joy that attends it? As for Ananda, I have already explained that I mean by Ananda something greater than peace or joy, something that, like Truth and Light, is the very nature of the supramental Divine. It can come by frequent inrushes or descents, partially or for a time even now, but it cannot remain in the system so long as the system has not been prepared for it. Meanwhile, peace and joy can be there permanently, but the condition of this permanence is that one should have the constant contact or indwelling of the Divine, and this comes naturally not to the outer mind or vital but to the inner soul or psychic being. Therefore one who wants his Yoga to be a path of peace or joy must be prepared to dwell in his soul rather than in his outer mental and emotional nature.

I objected in a former letter not to aspiration but to a demand, to making peace, joy or Ananda a condition for following the Yoga. And it is undesirable because if you do so, then the vital, not the psychic, takes the lead. When the vital takes the lead, then unrest, despondency, unhappiness can always come, since these things are the very nature of the vital – the vital can never remain constantly in joy and peace, for it needs their opposites in order to have the sense of the drama of life. And yet when unrest and unhappiness come, the vital at once cries, “I am not given my due, what is the use of my doing this Yoga?” Or else, it makes a gospel of its unhappiness and says, as you say in your letter, that the path to fulfilment must be a tragic road through the desert. And yet it is precisely this predominance of the vital in us that makes the necessity of passing through the desert. If the psychic were always there in front, the desert would be no longer a desert and the wilderness would blossom with the rose.

A propos, if your despondency has lasted so long this time, is it not because something in the vital has been clinging to it, justifying it on one ground or another? That at least is what I have felt, every time we have tried to remove it.


April 26, 1931

I do not find any pity for my loneliness in Tagore’s letter19, only his own explanation of my secrecy and solitude. Why should you think the Mother does not approve of expression,– provided it is the right expression of the right thing,– or suppose that silence and true expression are contradictory? The truest expression comes out of an absolute inner silence. The spiritual silence is not a mere emptiness; nor is it indispensable to abstain from all activity in order to find it.


April 29, 1931

Yes, your new poem is a chef-d’œuvre. It seems to me the best you have yet done – even better than some of the lyrics that came from you in your first inspiration, and yet one or two of these were in their own kind perfection itself.


May 13, 1931

I read the German of myself before reading your letter and was cast into an astonished perplexity by its warmth and cold for a long moment. I certainly think, if they translate, they should be assisted by an expert in English to keep the right temperature – otherwise there may be some other hair-raising effects of the kind.

Tagore’s appreciation is indeed a confirmation worth having of your poetic achievement – there could not be a surer seal upon it.


May 17, 1931

I am afraid Kiran De is not at all ready for Yoga – as the Mother saw on the first day. Your own observations confirm this view of him and his letter shows that even mentally he cannot rise to the height – how can this Yoga be given to one who understands only the ethical life and not at all what the divine life can be? Temperamentally he is too weak and depressed to put the burden of Yoga on him – it might result in a breakage. But I don’t want to depress and discourage him still farther – so please do not tell him what I write – give him my written answer (enclosed) and let that speak for itself... It seems from your condition “plied with questions” that you can now form some idea of what the Romans meant when they described as “putting to the question” their legal process of cross-examination under torture. I have no objection to your calling Nolini au secours if he is ready for the operation in your place. But I suppose you will get relief soon.


May 18, 1931

Khitish Sen’s20 enthusiasm seems rather to be for Pondicherian poetry than for Pondicherian Yoga – the latter shines for him only by the reflected light of the former. I will try to glance through his translations if you send them, in spite of the desperate shortness of time at my disposal just now.


May 22, 1931

Udayshankar21 must certainly be a great artist in his line; the photographs are admirable.

Suhrawardy has imagination and occasionally a subtle felicity of feeling, language and rhythm; but his technique is chaotic and his execution very unequal. There are lines in this poem that sound like flimsy sentimental album verse and there are others that have a strange and fine originality, as in the fourth verse.

Older than the moon or forest she is,

Yea, older than the gray slow winding brook,

A picture of one that kings have loved

Fallen from a curious book

That is as fine in execution as conception; in the rest the execution does not equal the conception. I liked better the little poem you translated – that was perfect in its own kind.

“Bindsome” is, I suppose, an invention on the lines of “tiresome” and “winsome”; a poet is entitled to invent such words at his own risk and peril. Brocade is extraordinarily daring – unless he means “brocaded” dressed in brocade, and then he ought to have said “brocaded”; but otherwise it is a trouvaille [coinage] of audacious felicity, provided he can make the English language absorb so violent a turn given to the word. There is no reason why the poem should not be published in the Orient.


May 26, 1931

Your poem is very pretty in feeling and music, but is it not rather long for a song?

I will answer you about doubt and dance and Suhrawardy, but time lacks tonight.


May 29, 1931

I have no objection to your sending my comment to Uday-Shankar, although it seems to me of a too slight and passing character to be of any importance. Still, if you think he will really value it so much, you can send it. But surely it is rather too slight for Bharatavarsha.

I do not quite catch the sense of your proposal that I should see his dancing from the next room. It looks as if you thought I had acquired the siddhi of seeing through walls and doors. I assure you that I have not got so far. If he were to dance in the court downstairs, it would be different, but then what would he do with the palm and other plants? – even if Timirbaran22 like another Orpheus were to make them move and join the troupe, I fear he would find them rather cumbersome. However, I suppose neither his visit nor Suhrawardy’s is for tomorrow, so we will leave these things where they belong – on the lap of a shadowy and uncertain future.

As for Suhrawardy, you can if you like send the complimentary portion of my remarks with perhaps a hint that I found his writing rather unequal, so that it may not be all sugar. But the phrases about “album poetry” and chaotic technique are too vivid – being meant only for private consumption – to be transmitted to the writer of the poems criticised; I would for that have expressed the same view in less drastic language. As I have already said once, I do not like to write anything disparaging or discouraging for those whom I cannot help to do better. I received much poetry from Indian writers for review in the Arya, but I always refrained because I would have had to be very severe. I write only about Harindranath because there I could sincerely and I think justly write unqualified praise.

It was, by the way, rather paradoxical or epigrammatic – I don’t know which – to write of Suhrawardy at once that “he was in Paris” and that he “ended his life in a tragedy” – it sounded like a new version of “He, being dead, yet liveth.” I presumed you meant a moral, not a physical ending; but if he is coming to India to give University lectures, there must be also morally something that survives. It is only when the soul is lost – or all the faculties – that it can be said of a man yet living that his life is ended. However, I see that you propose to throw light on the mystery hereafter.

Poetry can start from any plane of consciousness, although like all art – or, one might say, all creation – it must always come through the vital if it is to be alive. And as there is always a joy in creation, that joy along with a certain enthousiasmos23 – not enthusiasm, if you please, but anandamaya āveśa [blissful inrush of the creative force] – must always be there, whatever the source. But your poetry differs from the lines you quote. Suhrawardy writes from a purely vital inspiration, Shakespeare ditto (though he puts a vital feeling in the form of a passionate thought), Tagore in these lines ditto, and in the last case from a rather light and superficial vital. Your inspiration, on the contrary, comes from the linking of the vital creative instrument to a deeper psychic experience, and it is that which makes the whole originality and peculiar individual power and subtle and delicate perfection of your poems. It was indeed because this linking-on took place that the true poetic faculty suddenly awoke in you; for it was not there before, at least on the surface. The joy you feel, therefore, was no doubt partly the simple joy of creation, but there comes also into it the joy of expression of the psychic being which was seeking for an outlet since your boyhood. It is this that justifies your poetry-writing as a part of your Sadhana.

I find I have left myself no place or time in this letter for doubt and scepticism. You have not lightened my task by throwing Julian Huxley’s ingeniously worded absurdity at me. What I wanted to point out was that what you seem to mean by scepticism is something quite different from what the Mother meant when she spoke to you about it. However, that must wait for another spare half-hour.


June 2, 1931

It was not half sleep or quarter sleep or even sixteenth sleep that you had; it was the going inside of the consciousness, which in that state remains conscious but shut to outer things and open only to inner experience. You must distinguish clearly between these two quite different states, one is nidrā [sleep], the other the beginning at least of samādhi (not nirvikalpa, of course). This drawing inside is necessary because the active mind of the human being is at first too much turned to outward things; it has to go inside altogether in order to live in the inner being (inner mind, inner vital, inner physical, psychic). But with training one can remain outwardly conscious and live in the inner being and has at will the indrawn or the outpoured experience; you will then have the same experience of dense immobility and the inpouring of a greater and purer consciousness in the waking state as in what you erroneously call sleep.

As for working, it depends on what you mean by the word. Desire often leads either to excess of effort, meaning often much labour and a limited fruit with strain, exhaustion and in case of difficulty or failure, despondence, disbelief or revolt; or else it leads to pulling down the force. That can be done, but except for the yogically strong and experienced, it is not always safe, though it may be often very effective; not safe, first, because it may lead to violent reactions or it brings down contrary or wrong or mixed forces which the sadhak is not experienced enough to distinguish from the true ones. Or else it may substitute the sadhak’s own limited power of experience or mental and vital constructions for the free gift and true leading of the Divine. Cases differ, each has his own way of sadhana. But for you what I would recommend is constant openness, a quiet steady aspiration, no over-eagerness, a cheerful trust and patience.


June 8, 1931

It is true I read through Aldous Huxley’s monster, but it took me several months to finish it. This is not because I object to “light” literature, but because I find only an occasional quarter of an hour in three or four days to glance at it. If Sarat Chatterji24 does not mind my treating his book to the same tortoise dharma, I will undertake to read it; but I can make no promises as to time etc. Possibly it will take less time than the Round Table Conference25. As to giving him a new turn, that, I fear, is beyond me; besides, in this field I was once a voracious reader, but never a critic or creator.


June 21, 1931

Three poems marked (1, 4, 6). Letter follows.

Excuse telegraphic style – it is because of the return of post.26


June 22, 1931

I kept Khitish Sen’s translations with the idea of toning down some of the rather effete archaisms and other inelegances with which he unfortunately strews or rather peppers his work; but I renounce the endeavour, it would take too much of my time. I have marked the three poems which seem to me the best; they achieve something, in spite of some glaring faults of detail, are fairly equal and make something like a harmonious whole. There is a certain beauty of thought and expression kept up throughout. The other translations have lines and passages of merit, but fail as a whole.

The poetry of your friend is rather irritating, because it is always just missing what it ought to achieve,– one feels a considerable poetic possibility which does not produce work of permanence because it is not scrupulous enough or has not a true technique. The reasons for the failure can be felt, but are not easy to analyse. Among them there is evidently the misfortune of having passed strongly under the influence of poets who are quite out of date and learned a poetic style and language full of turns that smell of the schoolroom and the bookworm’s closet. Such awful things as “unsoughten,” “a-journeying,” “a-knocking,” “strayed gift” and the constant abuse of the auxiliary verb “to do” would be enough to down even the best poem. If he would rigorously modernise his language one obstacle to real poetic success would perhaps disappear,– provided he does not, on the contrary, colloquialise it too much – e.g. “my dear” etc. But the other grave defect is that he is constantly composing out of his brain, while one feels that a pressure from a deeper source is there and might break through, if only he would let it. Of course, it is a foreign language he is writing and very few can do their poetic best in a learned medium – but still the defect is there.

As to the novel, perhaps I simply meant that I was unwilling to exercise my critic’s scalpel on a living master of the art. In poetry it is different because I am there both a critic and a creator.

Yes, the mantra (not necessarily in the Upanishads) as I have tried to describe it in the Future Poetry is what comes from the Overmind inspiration. Its characteristics are a language that says infinitely more than the mere sense of the words seems to indicate, a rhythm that means even more than the language and is born out of the Infinite and disappears into it and the power to convey not merely the mental, vital or physical contents or indications or values of the thing it speaks of, but its value and figure in some fundamental and original consciousness which is behind all these. The passages you mention (from the Upanishad and the Gita) have certainly the Overmind accent. But ordinarily, as I have said, the Overmind inspiration does not come out pure in human poetry – it has to take hold of something that was meant to be a mental, vital or other utterance and lift it by a seizure and surprise from above into the Overmind largeness. But in doing so there is usually a mixture of the two elements. You must remember that the Overmind is a superhuman consciousness and to be able to write always or purely from an Overmind inspiration would mean the elevation of at least a part of the nature beyond the human level. But to write of these things would need a greater length of exposition than I can give you at present.

But how then do you expect a supramental inspiration to come down here when the Overmind itself is so rarely in human reach? That is always the error of the impatient aspirant, to think he can get the Supermind without going through the intervening stages or to imagine that he has got it when in fact he has only got something from the illumined or intuitive or at the highest some kind of mixed Overmind consciousness.

As for your last question you are not likely to get any answer until the thing attempted (supposing it is being attempted) is accomplished.


June 27, 1931

It is not surprising that you could not find out what you had done to make the Mother change her attitude towards you, and this for two good reasons,– first, that you had done nothing, and, second, that the Mother’s feeling for you and her attitude had not changed at all – not in any smallest respect, not in the least shadow of a degree. She has the same care and love as she always had and during the last few days of which you speak they were not clouded for a moment.

Then you ask, if so, why do I feel like this or like that? I can only answer that, in their origin, they were not your own feelings at all, but rather ideas, impressions, impulses pushed into your lower vital from outside; your mistake has been to admit them and identify them as your own – from want of knowledge and experience in these matters. There are certain vital forces of this lower vital plane that are constantly wandering about the Ashram and trying to push their movements now on one, now on another, now on several at a time. The processus is always the same. First, suggestions,– the Mother has done this or not done that, she has said this or not said that, she has had this or that thought about me or feeling towards me, she is displeased with me, unfair to me, partial to others, etc. etc. etc.; next, discouragement, wounded feelings, jealousy, despondency, revolt or any other kindred vital downfall or upheaval; result, the impulse to withdraw from the Mother, not to give her flowers or take flowers, to go away from soup27 or pranam, not to come there, to shut oneself away from her altogether, to give up the Yoga, to go away or worse. I give you the whole round in its ground plan, omitting many variations, so that you may be on your guard the next time these suggestions try to come. If you don’t want to be misled by them and to go through such quite groundless and unnecessary disturbance and trouble, you must recognise them immediately they come, cast them out by the neck or break their backs as you would a snake’s.

For they are in their nature not only irrational, but strongly mechanical. Irrational, because they have no true ground in reality. They are ready enough to seize in some (usually trifling) outward appearances and twist them this way or that in order to convince the easily deceived physical mind; they will even create circumstances and make them appear to have that colour. But if they cannot find or create, they will go on just as merrily with no other ground than imaginations or impressions which they persuade their victims to take for realities. And they are mechanical because, once they can make the mind their field, they always recur with the same inevitable round of suggestions, the same ideas, the same feelings, the same impulses, the same actions in consequence. It is like a recurrent illness with always the same series of symptoms and the same “course.” And the object is always the same, to create a distance between the sadhak and the Mother and so to break the sadhana. It is a great mistake to think, as some do, that the Mother in such cases pushes the sadhak away from her; on the contrary, it is he who pushes her away from him under the influence of these forces and believes all the time – for they have a great power of blinding the mind and clouding the judgment – that she is to blame.

To show how these suggestions mislead once one starts listening to them, I may instance the matter of your sister’s letters. The Mother and I have always accepted without reservation your sister’s coming and neither today nor at any other time had she the least idea in her mind against it. On the contrary, when you came in the midst of a hard and trying morning, she gave you full time, heard all you had to say, made her own suggestions and gave her full acquiescence. What more could she have done? And yet you have this suggestion made to you that she does not really want, that she is not frank, that she is cold to you about the matter. Why? Precisely because there was this predisposing influence at work on the lookout for any pretext to mislead you,– any, even less than a shadow’s shadow.

I must ask you therefore to dismiss this kind of suggestion, these feelings and all the cycle in future the moment they try to come. Never mind, what circumstances or justifications they may allege. Nothing is more dangerous than the inferences of the physical mind trying to build up conclusions upon outward appearances – they have nine chances out of ten of being false. One must learn to distrust hasty conclusions from surface appearances – is not that the first condition of true knowledge? – and learn to see and know things from within.

You ask how to stem these movements? To begin with, observe three rules:

(1) Keep always confidence in the Mother’s care and love – trust in them and distrust every suggestion, every appearance that seems to contradict.

(2) Reject immediately every feeling, every impulse that makes you draw back from the Mother – such as that about the Pranam – from your true relation with her, from inner nearness, from a simple and straightforward confidence in her.

(3) Do not lay too much stress on outward signs – your observation of them may easily mislead you. Keep yourself open to her and feel with your heart – the inner heart, not the surface vital desire, but the heart of true emotion,– there you are more likely to find her and be always near her in yourself and receive what constantly she is working to give you.


June 28, 1931

I think Abhipsa does very well for aspiration. I don’t recollect just now any Vedic word for it.

The attitude you describe is just what it should be – there is nothing wrong in it,– nor in your reading or letter-writing etc. There can be no objection to these activities in themselves, for the Yoga; only they must be done with the right attitude and spirit and as part of the sadhana – because the whole life has to become a sadhana, until it is able to become, the whole life, an embodiment of the siddhi.

If Sahana gives up music,– I presume it is only a temporary stop – I suppose it must be for a reason personal to her sadhana. There is no incompatibility in principle between music and sadhana.

Of course I heard your music. I am no judge of technical merit in that field, but it seems to me that in the inner element and the psychological source of your singing and its music, if I may so express it, there has been a great deepening and change, a true advance, and that here also your Yoga is justified by its fruits.


July 2, 1931

Yes, your poem is very good, as usual; and the metre is very beautiful. I admire, admire.

I took drishtihārā as “blind”; I am not versed enough in the subtleties of the language to pronounce whether the average reader would find it ambiguous; perhaps he would. But if alakshita [unnoticed] is clearer, it is less vividly poetic.


July 7, 1931

I return Pratibha’s28 poems. Yes, they are indeed full of promise, there is a sweetness in the rhythm and a sincerity of poetic style which, if developed, may come to something of very real value.

I shall comment on your translations (Baudelaire and Shelley) tomorrow; as it is already 2.30 a.m., I have no time just now29.

I hope the undesirable feeling of which you speak will have disappeared by tomorrow – you ought certainly not to give it a full week’s life! If the cause is only what you state, there is no rational or irrational reason why it should last so long.


July 11, 1931

Your translations.

1. Translation of Baudelaire30, very good, third and fourth verse superb. Literalness here does not matter so long as you are faithful to the spirit and the sense. But I don’t think you are justified in inserting indriyer [of the senses] – volupté here means a bold and intense pleasure of the higher vital, not the lesser pleasure of the senses,– it is the volupté you do actually get when you rise, whether inwardly or outwardly like the aviators into the boundless heights.

2. Shelley31. Good poetry, but as a translation vulnerable in the head and the tail. In the head because, it seems to me that your se dhan [that treasure] and tā bali [that’s why] lays or may lay itself open to the construction that human love is a rich and precious thing which the poet unfortunately does not possess and it is only because of this deplorable poverty that he offers the psychic devotion, less warm and rich and desirable, but still in its own way rare and valuable! I exaggerate perhaps, but, still if it is at all open to a meaning of this kind, then it says the very reverse of Shelley’s intended significance. For in English “What men call love” is strongly depreciatory, and can only mean something inferior, something that is poor and not rich, not truly love. Shelley says in substance, “Human vital love is a poor inferior thing”32, a counterfeit of true love, which I cannot offer to you. But there is a greater thing, a true psychic love, all worship and devotion, which men do not readily value, being led away by the vital glamour, but which the heavens do not reject, though it is offered from something so far below them, so maimed and ignorant and sorrow-vexed as the human consciousness which is to the divine consciousness as the moth is to the star, as the night is to the day. And will you not too accept this from me, you who in your nature are kin to the heavens, you who seem to me to have something of the divine nature, to be something bright and happy and pure far above the “sphere of our sorrow?” Of course all that is not said, but only suggested, but it is obviously the spirit of the poem. As to the tail, I doubt whether your last line brings out the sense of “something afar from the sphere of our sorrow.” If I make these criticisms at all, it is not because your version is not good, but because you have accustomed me to find in you a power of rendering the spirit and sense of your original while turning it into fine poetry in its new tongue which I would not expect or exact from any other translator.

3. Amal. I think here you have not so much rendered the English lines into Bengali as translated Amal into Dilip. Is not that the sense of your plea for Bengali colour and simile? Amal’s lines are not easily translatable, least of all, I imagine into Bengali. There is in them a union or rather a fusion of high severity of speech with exaltation and both with a pervading intense sweetness which it is almost impossible to transfer bodily without loss into another language. There is no word in excess, none that could have been added or changed without spoiling the expression, every word just the right revelatory one – no [overtones?], no ornamentations, but a sort of suppressed burning glow; no similes, but images which have been fused inseparably into the substance of the thought and feeling – the thought itself perfectly developed, not idea added to idea at the will of the fancy, but perfectly interrelated and linked together like the limbs of an organic body. It is high poetic style in its full perfection and nothing of all that is transferable. You have taken his last line and put in a lotus face and made divine love bloom in it,– a pretty image, but how far from the glowing impassioned severity of phrase, “And mould thy love into a human face”! So with your madhura gopane [in sweet secrecy] and the “heart to heart words intimate.” I do not suppose it could have been done otherwise, however, or done better; and what you write now is always good poetry – which is what I suppose Tagore meant to say when he wrote “Tomār ār bhay nāi.” [You have no more fear.]

And after all I have said nothing about Huxley or Baudelaire!


July 25, 1931

Your poem is magnificent in energy and beauty. Only, comparing its flame-force with the moth-like fragility of the little piping love-piece that provoked it, this poor Annada might perhaps complain that you are guilty of crushing a butterfly with a thunderbolt. However, the complaints of the victim do not count in these cases; the gods probably hold that he ought to consider himself happy to be the occasion for so fine an outburst.

P.S. By the way is it true that there is an article by Tagore in one of the Bengali magazines in which he praises your poetry?


July 31, 1931

I renounced the attempt to read Bijoychandra’s highly decorative Bengali handwriting – there are problems that are interesting but for which one has no time. I fell back on your letter, but I am at a loss about B’s genealogical tree. I presume however that the two chiefs are the chief of the Big Side and the Little Side respectively, and that that is the Rajbangsha. But who or where is the Raja? Is he also of the Big Side? or does he form a super-Big Side all by himself? It does not seem to me that B. has shed any further light on her reasons for embracing or dallying with Yoga.

As for Sarat Chatterji you know the difficulty with me is time and just now before the 15th I have less time than ever. But if you like to take the chance, you can send me the small story of which you speak. As for writing anything in appreciation, I don’t know; we will leave it for fate to decide. Meanwhile he ought to find your musical tribute sufficiently satisfying.

By the way, what on earth is yati bhanga [metrical fault or breach]? I have been wondering off and on since I read the (sufficiently patronising) criticism in the often defunct Bijali33.

Congratulations on the sparkles and the dreams. Are they dreams, though, or experiences on one of the inner planes? I think I have told you that the sparkles usually indicate an opening of the doors of the inner consciousness.


August 3, 1931

There can be no objection to your going to your sister’s place for meals; the point in the notice was aimed at quite another target. If you observe its language you will see that its intention was not palatal, or anti-palatal, but hygienic. It was meant to discourage the habit (of some) of buying from a nasty shop unhealthy food and worm-ridden betel-nuts – these very people afterwards being those who complain frequently of stomach disorders. Or if they choose to defy both Yoga and common sense, they must be prepared to take their karmaphala [fruits of works].

There is no objection, either, to your butter and cheese – provided the butter is not bad or old or rancid as bazaar-bought butter so often is! If you require it for yourself alone, then instead of buying it, you could have some from the butter the Mother receives from the Bombay Dairy.

You can bring your sister and brother-in-law34 for the flower-distribution tomorrow as you propose, if they want to come.


August 7, 1931

It is not your sister and brother-in-law who are responsible but the wave of old life consciousness which came in their wake that has thrown up old associations and stirred these reactions from their subconscient quiescence.

I do not at all accept Tagore’s dictum – neither the Mother nor myself would have accepted you here if you had not capacity for Yoga as great as for art – and greater. And the experiences you have had – however intermittent – would not have come at all in an unfit ādhār [vehicle, vessel].

The facts or arguments you put forward to support your diffidence or depression cannot stand in the light of the Yoga experience of others – if they were enough to justify discouragement, how many would have had to turn back from the way who are now far on towards the goal? I cannot now deal into them in detail, but they do not any of them, justify your inference.

Also, your psychic being does not deserve the censure you have bestowed upon it. What prevents it from coming out in its full power is the crust of past habits formations, active vibrations of the mind-stuff and vital-stuff which come from a mind and life which have been more creative and outgoing and expansive than indrawn and introspective. In many who are like this – active men, intellectuals – the first stage of Yoga is long and difficult with slow development and sparse experiences, most of the work being done in the subliminal behind the veil – until things are ready.

When the time comes for the definite opening and removal of the purdah between the inner and the outer being, I think I can promise you that you will find your power of Yoga and yogic experience at least as unexpectedly complete as you, and others, have found your power for poetry – though necessarily its working out will take time because it is not a detail but the whole life and the whole nature in which there must be the divine victory.


August 10, 1931

Your experience marks a very important step forward in your Yoga, it is necessary for me to give you a full and clear idea of what it implies – which I shall do. For the moment I will only say that it is a very decisive step towards the movement of which I spoke – the throwing down of the purdah between the inner and the outer being, which is the first crucial change in Yoga.


August 11, 1931

I have started the letter, but I doubt if I shall be able to finish it tonight; therefore it will be better to answer at once the points submitted by you.

You can send the flower to the Pali professor, but it is too early in the day to speak of Yoga and acceptance. It is necessary to know more of him first – and at first hand – Yoga is too serious a thing to be lightly taken up, or given. If he has a call and is sincere in following after it, his time will come.

As for your niece, Uma,– if we take the photograph and its evidence at their “face value”, one observes that the upper part of the physiognomy is good, especially the eyes, the lower from the Yogic point of view is faulty. That would indicate a possibility of spiritual aspiration and psychic opening, but also great vital obstacles and difficulties. But it is not safe to generalise from a photograph for even if externally accurate, it may express only one part of the nature,– and this one, you say, is not reliable. The best thing would be for her to write to you the letter she proposed to write – “at length about her inner life and spiritual seeking.” That might give better grounds for judging whether she can or cannot undertake this kind of Yoga.

Yes, certainly, I liked your poem immensely. It is very well sustained throughout and there is no pedantry, no intellectual heaviness anywhere in it; with such a constant succession of beautiful images and perfectly expressive turns of language – still more with so unfailing a flow and depth and power of emotion, that defect could not creep in for a moment.

P.S. My answer about your experience may take me a little time to write, because I want to explain to you not only the experience itself, but what lies behind it. Otherwise you will be quite at sea, as your letter shows, in the new world you are exploring.


August 16, 1931

The Mother will see Bhavashankar tomorrow. The idea of the refrigerator is, she says, an excellent one; she has long wanted it, but a big “frigidaire”, as that alone would serve the purpose.

Never mind the lower vital, it is not so dreadful as you think, if one can take hold of it by both ends and keep it in its place. It is the same as with the other instruments, body, mind, higher vital, even the Overmind powers,– they are good as instruments, but bad as masters.

I am accustomed to Biren’s35 handwriting, and can read it with little difficulty. But I am surprised at Tagore’s remark36 about the two years; he must have greatly misunderstood or misheard me. I did tell him that I would expand only after making a perfect (inner) foundation here, but I gave no date. I did give that date of two years long before in my letter to Barin,37 but I had then a less ample view of the work to be done than I have now – and I am now more cautious about assigning dates than I was once. To fix a precise time is impossible except in the two regions of certitude – the pure material which is the field of mathematical certitudes and the supramental which is the field of divine certitudes. In the planes in between where life has its word to say and things have to evolve under shock and stress, Time and Energy are too much in a flux and apt to kick against the rigour of a prefixed date or programme.


August 19, 1931

Apart from the considerations you urge in your letter, the acceptance of your grand-uncle was a foregone conclusion; the considerations only make it, so to speak, more foregone.

The letter I was to write to you has by no means sunk into oblivion or any other limbo. But it was physically and psychologically impossible to complete it before the 15th, and things have not been much better since. Meanwhile I am glad to see from your reception of your “dream” that you are beginning to realise not only the reality but the importance of the inner planes of experience.


August 27, 1931

The calumnies don’t really matter. What Tagore says about gossip and rumours is quite right, not only of Bengal, but everywhere. It is part of average human nature (the lower vital again!) to take pleasure in scandal, nindā [criticism], believing and reporting anything against people, and if nothing true or half true can be found, inventing or reporting inventions. The best thing is not to pay any attention – if it is forced on one, then a quiet correction or contradiction is enough. And for the rest to go straight on one’s way, casting these saletés behind you.

I am afraid Pramatha Chowdhuri38 is asking from me a thing psychologically impossible. You know that I have forbidden myself to write anything for publication for some time past and some time to come – I am self-debarred from press, platform and public. Even if it were otherwise, it would be impossible under present circumstances to write at a week’s notice. You will present him my excuses in your best and most tactful manner.

P.S. I take Pramatha Chowdhuri’s remark as a complimentary hyperbole. The Golden Book will be as golden and Tagore’s work and fame as solid without any lucubration from me to gild the one or to buttress the other.


August 29, 1931

I return your correspondence. I see you threaten me with a world-wide publicity agent; I face the menace with equanimity. Romain Rolland has already done his best or his worst – Herr Miller can try his hand at doing one better – if or when he comes here. His wife’s letter is interesting, because it is evidently very sincere. As for Bahadur he has still some way to go before your wish for him can be fulfilled – there is no hurry.


September 1931 (?)

It is good news that the energy has returned – let it be soon complete. About your uncle and predestination, my difficulty is that it is almost impossible to answer without going into the whole question which bristles at every step with the most tangled dualities and oppositions – it is the most perplexing problem in philosophy except that of the existence of pain and evil and cannot be cut with the stroke of a single trenchant affirmation or denial. My own answer would be a tangle to the ordinary mind, for it proceeds on a very complex basis and how to put that in a few words without being misunderstood or not understood? I will see if it can be done, but I cannot promise to be able to do it.


September 1, 1931

Yes, your poem is full of sweetness and beauty alike of rhythm, expression and feeling – one among your best.

Nandalal’s39 “transformation” is very good and will make a charming frontispiece for your book.


September 1, 1931

Your surprise at your cousin H. L. Roy’s behaviour shows as did your dealings with your Toku Mama that you do not yet know what kind of thing is the average human nature. Did you never hear of the answer of Vidyasagar when he was told that a certain man was abusing him,– “Why does he abuse me? I never did him a good turn (upakāra).” The unregenerate vital is not grateful for a benefit, it resents being under an obligation. So long as the benefit continues, it is effusive and says sweet things, as soon as it expects nothing more it turns round and bites the hand that fed it. Sometimes it does that even before, when it thinks it can do it without the benefactor knowing the origin of the slander, fault-finding or abuse. In all these dealings of uncles and cousins with you there is nothing unusual, nothing, as you think, peculiar to you. Most have this kind of experience, few escape it altogether. Of course, people with a developed psychic element are by nature grateful and do not behave in this way. But I do not think there is much more of the psychic element in your Hemendra than in your Toku Mama. Don’t let these things worry you.


September 2, 1931

It is certainly possible to have consciousness of things going on at a distance and to intervene – you will hear from the Mother one or two instances from her own experience. In this instance we had no such knowledge of the actual accident. When Bhavashankar was about to return to Bengal, both the Mother and myself became aware, independently, of a danger of death overhanging him – I myself saw it as connected with the giddiness from which he suffered, but I did not look farther. If this extraordinary combination of the giddiness with the boat and the river had been foreseen by us, the accident itself would not have happened, I think; for against something specific one can always put a special force which in most cases of the kind prevents it from happening,– unless indeed it is a case of irresistible predestination, utkaṭa karma, as the astrologers call it. Actually, we did as we always do when we see anything of the kind, we put a strong screen of protection around him. A general protection of that kind is not always unfailing, because the person may push it away from him or go out of its circle by some thought or act of his own; but usually we have found it effective. In this case there were two persons, Maya and your grand-uncle, who were open to the Mother and called her in the moment of danger; and Bhavashankar himself had been at least touched. To that I attribute their escape.

The idea that true yogins do not or ought not to use such powers, I regard as an ascetic superstition. I believe that all yogins who have these powers do use them whenever they find that they are called on from within to do so. They may refrain if they think the use in a particular case is contrary to the Divine Will or see that preventing one evil may be opening the door to worse or for any other valid reason, or simply because it is outside the scope of their action, but not from any general prohibitory rule. What is forbidden to anyone with a strong spiritual sense is to be a miracle-monger, performing extraordinary things for show, for gain, for fame, out of vanity or pride. It is forbidden to use powers from mere vital motives, to make an Asuric ostentation of them or to turn them into a support for arrogance, conceit, ambition or any other of the amiable weaknesses to which human nature is prone. It is because half-baked yogins so often fall into these traps of the hostile forces that the use of yogic powers is sometimes discouraged as harmful to the user. But it is mostly people who live much in the vital that so fall; with a strong and free and calm mind and a psychic awake and alive, such pettinesses are not likely to occur. As for those who can live in the true Divine Consciousness, certain powers are not “powers” at all in that sense, not, that is to say, supernatural or abnormal, but rather their normal way of seeing and acting, part of the consciousness – and how can they be forbidden or refuse to act according to their consciousness and its nature?

I suppose I have had myself an even more completely European education than you, and I have had too my period of agnostic denial, but from the moment I looked at these things I could never take the attitude of doubt and disbelief which was for so long fashionable in Europe. Abnormal, otherwise supraphysical experiences and powers, occult or yogic, have always seemed to me something perfectly natural and credible. Consciousness in its very nature could not be limited by the ordinary physical human-animal consciousness; it must have other ranges. Yogic or occult powers are no more supernatural or incredible than is supernatural or incredible the power to write a great poem or compose great music. Few people can do it, as things are,– not even one in a million; for poetry and music come from the inner being and to write or to compose true and great things one has to have the passage clear between the outer mind and something in the inner being. That is why you got the poetic power as soon as you began Yoga,– yogic force made the passage clear. It is the same with yogic consciousness and its powers; the thing is to get the passage clear,– for they are already there within you. Of course, the first thing is to believe, aspire and, with the true urge within, make the endeavour.

I do not know why you should deduce from my not yet having written about your experiences the strange conclusion that they were worth nothing. It is rather from the opposite cause that it is not written, because I considered a full explanation not only of the experience itself but of what lay behind it to be demanded by its importance, and I have had time only for short things that could be written off easily on the spur of the moment. However, since my silence is acting as a damper upon you, the best thing will be for me to explain the experience first and comment on the rationale of it afterwards. I told you from the first that it was of great importance and value, and I repeat it now, and add that when you have had an experience like that, you must accept it as a sign of destiny from within you and ought not to be discouraged even if it takes time for it to return or enlarge its scope.

P.S. The explanation of your experience is already half-written, so with good luck you may expect it on Friday or Saturday at the latest.


September 4, 1931

I have said already that your experience was, in essence, the piercing of the veil between the outer consciousness and the inner being. This is one of the crucial movements in Yoga. For Yoga means union with the Divine, but it also means awaking first to your inner self and then to your higher self,– a movement inward and a movement upward. It is, in fact, only through the awakening and coming to the front of the inner being that you can get into union with the Divine. The outer physical man is only an instrumental personality and by himself he cannot arrive at this union,– he can only get occasional touches, religious feelings, imperfect intimations. And even these come not from the outer consciousness but from what is within us.

In your former experiences the inner being had come to the front and for the time being impressed its own normal motions on the outer consciousness to which they are unusual and abnormal. But in this meditation what you did was,– for the first time, I believe,– to draw back from the outer consciousness, to go inside into the inner planes, enter the world of your inner self and live for a while in the hidden parts of your being. That which you were then was not this outer man, but the inner Dilip, the Yogin, the bhakta. When that plunge has once been taken, you are marked for the Yogic, the spiritual life and nothing can efface the seal that has been put upon you.

All is there in your description of this complex experience – all the signs of this first plunge. First, the sense of going a little deep down which was your feeling of the movement towards the inner depths; then, the stillness and pleasant numbness and the stiffness of the limbs. This was the sign of the consciousness retiring from the body inwards under the pressure of a force from above,– that pressure stabilising the body into an immobile support of the inner life, in a kind of strong and still spontaneous āsana. Next, the feeling of waves surging up, mounting to the head, almost, as you say, making you unconscious. This was the ascending of the lower consciousness in the ādhāra to meet the greater consciousness above. It is a movement analogous to that on which so much stress is laid in the Tantrik process, the awakening of the Kundalini, the Energy coiled up and latent in the body and its mounting through the spinal cord and the centres (chakras) and the Brahmarandhra to meet the Divine above. But in our Yoga it is not a specialised process, but a spontaneous uprush of the whole lower consciousness in currents or waves (or otherwise) and on the other side a descent of the Divine Consciousness and its Force into the body. This descent is felt as a pouring in of calm and peace, of force and power, of light, of joy and ecstasy, of wideness and freedom and knowledge, of a Divine Being or a Presence – sometimes one of these, sometimes many of them or all together. The movement of ascension has different results: it may liberate the consciousness so that one feels no longer in the body, but above it or else spread in wideness with the body either almost non-existent or only a point in one’s free expanse; it may enable the being or some part of the being to go out from the body and move elsewhere, and this action is usually accompanied by some kind of partial samādhi or else a complete trance; or it may result in empowering the consciousness, no longer limited by the body and the habits of the external nature, to go within, to enter the inner mental depths, the inner vital, the inner (subtle) physical, the psychic, to become conscious of its inmost psychic self or its inner mental, vital and subtle physical being and, it may be, to move and live in the domains, the planes, the worlds that correspond to these parts of the nature. This is what happened in your case. It is the repeated and constant ascent of the lower consciousness (not always translated by these signs) that enables the mind, the vital, the physical to come into touch with the higher planes up to the supramental and get impregnated with their light and power and influence. And it is the repeated and constant descent of the Divine Consciousness and its Force that is the means for the transformation of the whole being and the whole nature. Once this descent becomes habitual, the Divine Force, the Power of the Mother begins to work, no longer from above only or from behind the veil, but consciously in the ādhāra itself, and deals with its difficulties and possibilities and carries on the Yoga.

Last, but not clearly indicated in your account, because not seized by you, comes the crossing of the border. You say rightly that you did not fall asleep or lose consciousness, for the consciousness was there all the time; only, it had shifted from the outer and physical and become closed to external things and gone into the inner psychic and vital part of the being. It was just when you crossed the border that you came into touch with the vital presence of Sahana and Sachin, two who had been most nearly connected with you on the vital plane. It was there in your inner vital self and on its plane that all happened of which you speak, the peace and the ecstasy, the vyākulatā [passionate eagerness] and the tears, the talk of Sahana and Sachin and the rest, and it was not your waking self, but the inner being – or part of it, the inner or true vital moved by the psychic consciousness,– that wept these tears and had this experience of ecstasy and peace. In your former experiences you felt it in the waking state; for both movements are necessary, the coming out of the inner being to the front as well as the going in of the consciousness to become aware of the inner self and nature. But here what was done, initially at least, was to break or at least to open and pass the barrier between this outer or instrumental and that inner which it very partially strives to express and to make possible in future a conscious awareness of all the endless riches of possibility and experience and new being and new life that lie untapped behind the veil of this small and very blind and limited material personality which men erroneously think to be all of themselves. The “coming to” of which you speak was simply the return from this inner world to the waking state.

You write in your letter that the tears were not real because your eyes were dry when you woke. The epithet shows the survival of a Russellian bias in your physical mind,– as if the physical were the only reality! They were perfectly real, only it was the reality of the inner self and the inner plane; for it was the inner being that shed these tears of ecstasy and bhakti. So too your meeting with Sahana and Sachin was a real experience, but real on the vital plane – and one sign of the reality was the way in which they acted, each with an exact fidelity to the vital state, Sachin ignorant and unable to understand and upset, Sahana who is awake within at once understanding what had happened and doing the right thing by leaving you to your experience. So too what happened in your dream about the Mother was real, but real on the vital plane, an experience of things that take place in the inner domains. It is a mistake to think that we live physically only with the outer mind and life. We are all the time living and acting on other planes of consciousness, meeting others there and acting upon them, and what we do and feel and think there, the force we gather, the results we prepare have an incalculable importance and effect, unknown to us, upon our outer life. Not all of it comes through, and what comes through takes another form in the physical – though sometimes there is an exact correspondence; but this little is at the basis of our outward existence. All that we become and do and bear in the physical life is prepared behind the veil within us. It is therefore of immense importance for a Yoga which aims at the transformation of life to grow conscious of what goes on within these domains, to be master there and be able to feel, know and deal with the secret forces that determine our destiny and our internal and external growth or decline.

It is equally important for those who want that union with the Divine without which the transformation is impossible. It is not less indispensable for one whose aim is the union through love and bhakti which is your aspiration. The aspiration could not be realised if you remained bound by your external self, tied to the physical mind and its petty movements. It is not the outer being which is the source of this spiritual urge; the outer being has only undergone the inner drive from behind the veil. You saw in this experience whence it came. It is the inner psychic being in you that is the bhakta, the seeker after the union and the Ananda, and what is difficult for the outer nature will become perfectly easy when the barrier is down and the inner self in the front. For you have seen yourself in your experiences that the moment this comes to the front or draws the consciousness into itself, peace, ecstasy, bhakti are natural, spontaneous, immediate.

This is the importance of your experience. It shows that all the processes and movements necessary to the Yoga are within your reach and not as you think in your outer mind difficult or impossible. It shows that the inner self in you is already a Yogin and bhakta and since that is so and it has shown itself, the spiritual turn of your outer life too is predestined and inevitable. It shows also that you have already a deep inner life, Yogic and spiritual, which is veiled only because of the strong outward turn your education and past activities have given to your thinking mind and lower vital parts. It is precisely to correct this outward orientation and take away the veil that you have to practise the Yoga. And that it will be done is sure – for this having once happened, the inner self is bound to renew its pressure, to clear the passage and finally come by its kingdom. A beginning of this kind is the indication of what is to happen on a greater scale hereafter.

There is much more that has to be said, but I will say it later. In this letter I can only give you the exact explanation and immediate significance of your experience.


September 8, 1931

Yes, it is a very fine and powerful poem. There was no reason why you should stop the inspiration when it came.

But what precisely do you mean by sending the inspiration? The inspiration comes from above – through your inner being who, very evidently, is not only a Yogin and bhakta but a poet of Yoga and bhakti. The Yoga-force which woke up the power in you came from me. It was when you were translating my poems that you got into touch and the power woke in you because you came inwardly into my Light. Since then I have been acting on you to develop this poetic power, and as there is a large opening there it has been an easy matter. As for the Power itself that works, that gives words and rhythms, you ought to know or at least your inner being knows very well that all divine powers are the powers of the Mother. But the way in which these things work is the occult and not the physical (not the crudely mediumistic) way, and it works in each according to his nature and the material and capacities actual or latent it finds there.

I doubt whether I can give you a more explicit explanation without entering into things for which an occult knowledge is needed which you have not yet. That will come hereafter.

Did you not write to Pramatha Chaudhary? Why then do they still insist? Apart from my rule of which I told you, I am not at all inclined to write anything merely complimentary and conventional, and for anything more than that I have not the time.


September 10, 1931

In your friend’s40 English poem there are the signs of poetical power but there is not a sufficient technique. I have marked the best lines. It will do for the Orient.

Bandir Bandana is certainly remarkable for so young a poet. There is an extraordinary power of language and a great force in the writing and a strong flow in the verse. The thought-substance I find a little deficient, less mature, rather crude in places. This kind of God baiting, owing I suppose to Russian influence, seems to be now popular in the “advanced” minds of the East – but it is childish and out of date. Russia is still in the nursery in these matters, but I don’t see why millennial India and China should want to prelude their new life by a second childhood. This kind of thing was done and done with in Western Europe fifty years ago and done too in a much more profound and, as I may say, grown-up manner.

Apart from that, the gifts he begins with are considerable and, if he develops and achieves depth and subtlety as well as power – for power is not enough – may lead to something very great. The great danger for him arises from his early facility – for that sometimes stands in the way of the arduous growth that can alone raise the poetic stature to the level of the highest summits.


September 11, 1931 (?)

The translations from Goethe are excellent. You are certainly quite right in varying the answers in N°3; even in the German there is some monotony felt in the form,– a monotony, I would suggest, Shakespeare would have avoided. By the way, what is the meaning of “aus unseren Stall” in the poem “of lighter vein?” I could not quite equate it with your rendering.

Goethe certainly goes much deeper than Shakespeare; he had an incomparably greater intellect that the English poet and sounded problems of life and thought Shakespeare had no means of approaching even. But he was certainly not a greater poet – I cannot either admit that he was an equal. He wrote out of his intelligence and his style and movement nowhere come near the poetic power, the magic, the sovereign expression and profound or subtle rhythms of Shakespeare. Shakespeare was a supreme poet and, one might almost say, nothing else; Goethe was by far the greater man and the greater brain, but he was a poet by choice rather than by the very necessity of his being. He wrote his poetry as he did everything else with a great skill and effective genius, but it was only part of his genius and not the whole. And there is a touch wanting – the touch of an absolute inevitability; this lack leaves his poetry on a lower level than that of the few quite supreme poets.

When I said there were no greater poets than Homer and Shakespeare, I was thinking of their essential poetic force and beauty – not of their work as a whole. The Mahabharata is a greater creation than the Iliad, the Ramayana than the Odyssey, and either reigns over a larger field than the whole dramatic world of Shakespeare – both are built on an almost cosmic greatness of plan and take all human life (the Mahabharata all human thought as well) in their scope and touch too the things which the Greeks and Elizabethan poets could not even glimpse. But as poets – as masters of rhythm and language and the expression of poetic beauty – Vyasa and Valmiki are not inferior, but also not greater than the English or the Greek poet. I leave aside the question whether the Mahabharata was not the creation of the mind of a people rather than of a single poet, for that doubt has been raised also with regard to Homer.


September 12, 1931

Sri Aurobindo’s comments on Dilip’s translation into Bengali of three poems from James Cousins, Jehangir Vakil and Tennyson.

The first translation is good, the second superb and the third (third version) superlative. Cousins’ poem is very felicitous in expression – generally he just misses the best, but here he has done very well. Your translation is close and adequate.

I don’t remember Vakil’s poems very well, but they gave me the impression, I think, of much talent not amounting to genius, considerable achievement in language and rhythm but nothing that will stand out and endure. But how many can do more in a foreign language? Here the poem certainly attempts and almost achieves something fine – there are admirable lines and images; but the whole gives an impression of something constructed by the mind, a work built up by a very skilful and well-endowed intelligence. Your translation strikes me as surpassing greatly the original for this very reason – it gives the impression of a thing not merely thought out but seen within and lived, which is the first requisite for the best poetry.

Of the three versions of Tennyson’s lines, the first is null, the second good as a translation but otherwise a leaden rather than a golden means; but your third version is admirable. Here too you have excelled the original. Don’t think this is a hyperbole – for I suppose you know that I have no great consideration for Tennyson. I read him much and admired him when I was young and raw, but even then his In Memoriam style seemed to me mediocre and his attempts at thinking insufferably second rate and dull. These lines are better than others, but they are still Tennyson.

But truly you are a unique and wonderful translator. How you manage to keep so close to the spirit and turn of your originals and yet make your versions into true poems is a true marvel as usually faithful translations are flat and those which are good poetry transform the original into something else – as Fitzgerald did with Omar or Chapman with Homer.


September 15, 1931

A very charming lyric – but why Jātismar41, though it is a taking title?

Yes, I thought “aus unserem Stall” meant “from out of our stable” and could not see much point in it; I was not sure whether it meant that the dogs came from the stable or simply that they followed right all the way from the stable. In any case the turn you gave to it is at once more poetic and more meaningful.

Did I send you back the Hungarian article “Dilip Ray and hindu musjika?” If not it must have taken to itself wings and flown back to Buda-Pesth.

About your “grandfather” dream the Mother has said everything needful. I only want to add that all “dream-experiences” are coherent. Ordinarily dreams are incoherent because they are confused impressions surging from the subconscient, not true experiences. Dream-experiences are incoherent only when (1) they are badly transcribed in the recording consciousness or improperly remembered, (2) when they belong to a certain region of symbol occurrences in the vital to which the physical consciousness has no clue. But in the second case there is only an apparent incoherence, for once one gets the main clue, everything falls into its place and is full of a connected significance. At any rate these dreams show that you are now very much awake and active on the inner vital plane.


September 18, 1931

Your series of experiences are very interesting by the constant (though interspersed) development they illustrate. Here two new significant elements have been added to the previous substance of the experience. The first is the very precise localisation of the uprush of the consciousness from the pit of the stomach – that is to say, from the navel or perhaps from just below it? The navel-centre (nābhi-padma) is the main seat of the centralised vital consciousness (dynamic centre) which ranges from the heart level (emotional) to the centre below the navel (lower vital, sensational desire centre). These three mark the domain of the vital being. It is therefore clear that it was your inner vital being which had this experience, and its intensity and vehemence was probably due to the whole vital (or most of it) being awake and sharing in it this time. The experience itself was psychic in its origin, but was given a strong emotional-vital form in its expression. I may add, for completeness, that the centre of the psychic is behind the heart and it is through the purified emotions that the psychic most easily finds an outlet. All from the heart above is the domain of the mental being – which also has three centres, one in the throat (the outward-going or externalising mind), one between the eyes or rather in the middle of the forehead (the centre of vision and will) and one above, communicating with the brain, which is called the thousand-petalled lotus, and where are centralised the thinking mind and higher intelligence communicating with the greater mind planes (illumined mind, intuition, Overmind) above.

The second new significant feature is the self-manifestation of the inner mind; for it was your inner mind that was watching, observing and criticising the vital being’s psychic experience. You found this clear division in you curious, but it will no longer seem curious once you know the perfectly normal divisibility of the different parts of the being. In the outer surface nature, mind, psychic, vital, physical are all jumbled together and it needs a strong power of introspection, self-analysis, close observation and disentanglement of the threads of thought, feeling and impulse to find out the composition of our nature and the relation and interaction of these parts upon each other. But when one goes inside as you have done, we find the sources of all this surface action and there the parts of our being are quite separate and clearly distinct from each other. We feel them indeed as different beings in us, and just as two people in a group can do, they too are seen to observe, criticise, help or oppose and restrain each other; it is as if we were a group-being, each member of the group with its separate place and function, and all directed by a central being who is sometimes in front above the others, sometimes behind the scenes. Your mental being was observing the vital and not quite easy about its vehemence, for the natural base of the mental being is calm, thoughtfulness, restraint, control and balance, while the natural turn of the vital is dynamism, energy thrown into emotion, sensation and action. All therefore was perfectly natural and in order.

I have no time to write more. But note how entirely conscious your inner being is when it does come into action,– which perfectly justifies what I wrote to you about it at a time when you were in despair over your incapacity and unfitness for Yoga! You will see now that I was right and your fits of despondency had no true ground – and also that I knew what was in you better than you yourself knew it.


September 22, 1931

As regards the progress you have made, I do not think you have given us an exaggerated impression of it; it seems to be quite real. It is no part of the Yoga to suppress taste, rasa, altogether; so, if you found the ice-cream pleasant, that does not by itself invalidate the completeness of your progress. What is to be got rid of is vital desire and attachment, the greed of food, being overjoyed at getting the food you like, sorry and discontented when you do not have it, giving an undue importance to it, etc. If one wants to be a Yogin, it will not do to be like the ordinary man to whom food, sex and gain are nine-tenths of life or even to keep in any of these things the reactions to which vital human nature is prone. Equality is here the test as in so many other matters. If you can take the Ashram food with satisfaction or at least without dissatisfaction, that is already a sign that attachment and predilection are losing their old place in the nature. It is also an excellent sign if empty social meetings are no longer attractive,– a sure sign that the psychic and the Yogic consciousness are gaining ground. As for sex, the progress you report is also excellent; sex is almost the strongest of human vital pulls and to master it altogether takes time, but here too a good beginning is half the battle.

For the rest, I had told you that even when people do not seem to be progressing outwardly a preparatory work is often being done behind the veil and that this was your case. When the preparation is complete, then one day one wakes up to find that, without having noticed it, a large stride forward has been made.

As for scepticism, that disease of the age that is passing away, it is another story and I will deal with it perhaps some other time. I will now only say that discrimination is an excellent element in Yoga, but scepticism is the reverse; it poses as an exacting discrimination, but is only an exaggerated caricature of the real thing. Saṃśaya [doubt], aśraddhā [lack of faith] are not viveka [discrimination, discernment].


September 23, 1931


This afternoon towards the end of meditation of about two hours the silence in me deepened and a curious feeling I had. My body became numb as usual but I had all the time a sort of divided consciousness. It is very difficult to describe it but you will understand even from my baffled attempt. I will try.

I felt going deep and at a certain stage as though the consciousness changed suddenly. A relaxation set in and I took your name with an ease and rhythm which was delectable. No effort was needed. And yet I was conscious I could move my limbs at will even though they had become more numb than usual – so much so that even when I got up, they had a trace of the numbness. Is it because the force came down more or what? However, what I felt was very pleasurable. It was as I said as if my japa of your name got a sort of rhythmic flow with my breath. I had read about such an experience but had never yet felt it. Usually I take your name with effort – after every five minutes or so my mind wants to run off at a mad tangent – I fly after it and bring it back a prisoner. But as my meditation deepened I suddenly found your name had become sort of woven into my breathing which became very deep as the breath of a man under an anaesthetic. Of course all this happened spontaneously.

I think that what happened was simply this – that, just as before your inner vital and inner mental came to the front in the inward-going consciousness, so this time it was the inner (subtle) physical being that manifested itself. The outer body was numb, the inner body able to move; the breathing with the name flowing in it was the breathing of this inner physical being. Mark that all three (inner mental, inner vital, inner physical) immediately they appear, show themselves to be those of a born Yogin. For breathing with the name flowing in it is usually the result of a long practice of combined pranayama and japa: but to your inner physical being it comes spontaneously and at once, as if it were to the manner born.

N.B. I shall answer your morning’s letter in due course. But you have misunderstood my aśraddhā which was not used in the popular (Bengali) sense [disrespectful distrust] but in its technical (Sanskrit) sense. I shall explain at length.


October 11, 1931

I must have forgotten to send you my reply about O. C. Ganguli42. I did not want to discourage his visit,– he can come, if he does not mind being uncomfortable, and you can so tell him.

Don’t worry about the pressure; it is a good sign, not a bad one, and simply means that the Power is working to open that supremely important centre.

Also don’t worry about the perspiration; it is a phenomenon we have all had at certain stages of the Yoga, the heat also. The old style would have said it was the Yoga fire waking to purify the body of obstructive impurities and incapacities, and it was after all not an incorrect explanation and a fairly adequate expression.

You must really get rid of this idea that you are imagining things like the silence and wideness; an experience is not untrue because it is vague. If it is vague at first, it will deepen and intensify afterwards; but it must be affirmed and accepted, not denied and doubted. The “Essay on Doubt” will be written, never fear; but I have no time for it just now.

Keep your waking consciousness as pure as possible; the dreams will then get discouraged in the end. The subconscious always takes time to clear altogether.


November 1931 (?)

(...) such fuming helps not. But I have had enough fun over the income tax and now this! Qu’en dites-vous43. Fine mess! I will have to pay lots [?] for a law-suit because my precious cousin has forgotten all along to pay the tax! O Lord!

 I send you three poems – parables rather, all from Sri Ramakrishna. I have written in all eighteen. The others will follow. Some comfort this at least. But I have had to write so many letters today over this mess!... Quite annoyed, truly!

Have worked all day,– quite solitary! So be pleased, please.

I am.

No use boiling over human ingratitude – it is too immense a thing to deserve a single boil. You know Vidyasagar’s saying, “āmār upar tānr eta rāg keno? āmi ta tānr kona-o upakāra kari ni!!” [“Why does he abuse me? I never did him a good turn!”] Of course all humanity is not like that – luckily, but it is a familiar tract in human nature and a large part of the average human act like that. You may say he might at least have paid the tax – but what human being will pay a tax when he can shove [?] it on to somebody else – especially a benefactor. A benefactor ought to benefact always – to the extent of paying any little tax that may be going about – otherwise where is the constancy in his character? Even your cousin may be thinking, “What a strange fellow to object to paying the tax on his own bungalow!” At least if he did, that would be the human mind all over.


November 2, 1931

In the first place why on earth do you put any belief in the “reports circulated in the Ashram” and, in the second, why on earth do you allow these to depress you? I thought you knew the value or rather the entire absence of value of this kind of gossip and rumour? What about the “scepticism” which makes you unwilling to believe everything people tell you – why not make a useful use of it in refusing to believe these things? That would be better than to make a useless use of it in doubting the experiences of your own inner being which are a thousand times more reliable than this imaginative chit-chat built upon nothing. If the Mother makes you a communication when you are in your inner consciousness, why not put your faith in that and not in all this external noise and blather? And who, by the way, told you that the Mother is seeing those for whom she has love and confidence and that for others, like yourself, she has no love and confidence? The Mother has been “seeing” nobody and even now and for some time to come all visits and talk must be refused until she is stronger44. Certain people come here for their usual work, or to do necessary things, or to bring food or letters, etc. (dealt by me, not by the Mother!) but the Mother has not been wasting her strength in receiving them or in chatting with anybody, I can assure you. I do not think I need say more about all that you have built on what “they say”; you ought to see that the foundation is unsubstantial mist and that therefore the structure you have built on it has no right to exist. As for my not answering questions, I have naturally been too busy all these days, but I thought everyone would easily understand that; I did not expect that a theory would be built on it that I was “disappointed”, had turned tail and was running away from my work. At any rate, since they say so, please reassure them and tell them that such is not the case. For yourself, cheer up and throw sadness to the dogs. How can you be sad when you have such beautiful dreams and messages from the Mother?

I am glad to hear all you have written about Pratap. He may have been unlucky to come just at this moment, or rather it may seem so on the surface; but things are not always what they seem, and now he is here he had better remain until he has secured the object of his coming.

Your translation of Shakespeare is excellent, the less literal version is certainly much better than the other. Only, I am not quite sure that the last six lines are quite equal to the first eight; perhaps a retouching of the tenth and fourteenth lines would remove the inequality. Shakespeare’s last line is perhaps a little too intellectual and ingenious, the play of words exceeding the sense, but I find the last but one rather fine and effective.

I have only had time to glance at the poem; I shall read it again before I pronounce on it, but the first effect is very favourable.

P.S. I have since read the poem and I see that it is very beautiful poetry.

I send you back the German article; I made something out of the first paragraph, but had no time to labour through the rest. Perhaps you could make a translation for me as you propose. But he starts with a queer proposition – Aurobindo Ghose is a new Buddha! By the way he refers to Romain Rolland, but Rolland, I hear, is sadly disappointed with me! It was to be expected, after all; I rather thought it could be the result of closer acquaintance.


November 4, 1931

The new version is much better; it now reads as an even whole.

Please send the money on to me. Pondicherry houses are not safe and it is no use tempting the Dasyus – even when Indra is coming down with the rain in seven rivers.

P.S. Can you send me back the German article? I shall read it with the half of your translation, it may bring back some of my forgotten German. I don’t think habitus is habitat, but what it is is more than I can tell you.


November 12, 1931

I think we will keep to the refrigerator. Your information about our food-measurements is inaccurate. I am taking the same quantity of food always. The Mother, of course, for some days took nothing and is still taking very little, but more and more rather than less every day; but the diminution was due to temporary incapacity and not to any set purpose. So there is no ground of that kind for changing what was settled. On the contrary the experience of these days shows that the refrigerator would have been of immense use and saved much time and trouble. The refrigerator is not going to be in the stores, except for a short time; it will be put on our floor as soon as the new rooms are ready; so there Shankar will have full satisfaction. All machines have to be carefully kept and handled if they are to remain in good order,– the motor cars are a proof of that,– but that is not a reason for machinelessness; the necessary care will have to be taken, that is all. And we have electricians and mechanics here, so it ought not to be impossible to repair any slight harm done.

As for Pratap, the Mother intends, if all goes well, to give a short meditation daily at Pranam time to the sadhaks for some days before the 24th, and if this can be done, he can come to the meditation. After the 24th she will see him privately; meanwhile he will have at least met her and received her touch: I hope that will satisfy him and keep him to his soul’s purpose in coming here. Please do not speak to others of this intention of the Mother’s, as that would raise a riot of comment, discussion, interpretation and gossip which would disturb the atmosphere altogether. It is better that it should not be known till the Mother is ready to make it public.

As for all the rest you write, you should realise that the Mother has had a very severe attack and that she must absolutely husband her forces in view of the strain the 24th November will mean for her. It is quite out of the question for her to begin seeing and receiving them meanwhile – a single morning of that kind of thing would exhaust her altogether. You must remember that for her a physical contact of this kind with others is not a mere social or domestic meeting with a few superficial movements which make no great difference one way or the other. It means for her an interchange, a pouring out of her forces and a receiving of things good, bad and mixed from them which often involves a great labour of adjustment and elimination and, in many cases though not in all, a severe strain on the body. If it had been only a question of two or three people, it would have been a different matter; but there is the whole Ashram here ready to enforce each his claim the moment she opens her doors. You surely do not want to put all that upon her before she has recovered her health and strength! In the interests of the work itself – the Mother has never cared in the least for her body or her health for its own sake and that indifference has been one reason, though only an outward one, for the damage done – I must insist on her going slowly in the resumption of the work and doing only so much at first as her health can bear. It seems to me that all who care for her ought to feel in the way I do.

The weakness in yourself of which you speak is there, as the persistency of these movements show but it is not in the heart – your heart is all right – but in the lower vital nature. All your weaknesses are there; the rest of your being is quite strong enough for the spiritual life. But this inadequacy of the lower vital is not peculiar to you, it is in almost every human being. This tendency to irrational sadness and despondency and these imaginations, fears and perverse reasonings – always repeating, if you will take careful notice, the same movements, ideas and feelings and even the same language and phrases like a machine – is a characteristic of the lower vital nature. The only way to get rid of it is to meet it with a fixed resolution of the higher vital and the mind and psychic being to combat, reject and master it. As you were determined to master the desire of the palate, so you must determine to master this “irrational knot” of despondency in the lower vital nature. If you indulge it and regard it as a natural part of yourself with good causes for existence or if you busy yourself finding this or that justification for it when it comes, there is no reason why it should let go its unpleasant grip upon you. Be firm and courageous here, as you have learnt to be with other movements of your lower vital; you will then, I think, find less difficulty in your meditation and your general sadhana.


November 16, 1931

I am feeling very restless and miserable. All sorts of doubts are assailing me. I know you are very busy. But I don’t know whom else to approach.

I don’t know what I’ll do if I have to pass the whole night in such misery.

P.S. Most likely I won’t go to see Mother to-morrow morning. But I am afraid lest my misery should then increase. And then if I don’t feel like going to pranam her in the mechanical way what use is my going particularly since I feel I may contaminate the atmosphere.

All this is quite groundless as usual – I don’t know why you insist on putting yourself to self-torture in this way. The misery and doubts are in all probability due to your having made a wrong movement in determining not to come to pranam. I have never said or written that you were in any degree the cause or the sadhaks generally were the cause of the Mother’s illness. It is nonsense to talk of your contaminating the atmosphere. You will get a letter from me in the morning; meanwhile throw all this out of your head and go to the pranam in a spirit of quiet and confidence.


November 16, 1931

I hope that you have acted according to my note on your letter written an hour or two ago and thrown away this wrong idea and wrong movement of yours about the Pranam and the Mother’s illness. What you have written in these last letters including the one in which you strangely suggest that the best way to progress in sadhana might be to cease loving the Mother because you love her in the human way, proceeds from wrong notions generated by a confusion in your vital mind misinterpreting things we may have said or written to you. I will try to set them right as clearly as possible.

And first about human love in the sadhana. The soul’s turning through love to the Divine must be through a love that is essentially divine, but as the instrument of expression at first is a human nature, it takes the forms of human love and bhakti. It is only as the consciousness deepens, heightens and changes that that greater eternal love can grow in it and openly transform the human into the divine. But in human love itself there are several kinds of motive-forces. There is a psychic human love which rises from deep within and is the result of the meeting of the inner being with that which calls it towards a divine joy and union; it is, once it becomes aware of itself, something lasting, self-existent, not dependent upon external satisfactions, not capable of diminution by external causes, not self-regarding, not prone to demand or bargain but giving itself simply and spontaneously, not moved to or broken by misunderstandings, disappointments, strife and anger, but pressing always straight towards the inner union. It is this psychic love that is closest to the divine and it is therefore the right and best way of love and bhakti. But that does not mean that the other parts of the being, the vital and physical included, are not to be used as means of expression or that they are not to share in the full play and the whole meaning of love, even of divine love. On the contrary, they are a means and can be a great part of the complete expression of divine love,– provided they have the right and not the wrong movement. There are in the vital itself two kinds of love,– one full of joy and confidence and abandon, generous, unbargaining, ungrudging and very absolute in its dedication and this is akin to the psychic and well-fitted to be its complement and a means of expression of the divine love. And neither does the psychic love or the divine love despise a physical means of expression wherever that is pure and right and possible; it does not depend upon that, it does not diminish, revolt or go out like a snuffed candle when it is deprived of any such means; but when it can use it, it does so with joy and gratitude. Neither of us ever said that darshan and touch in the Pranam were given as a concession to human weakness and that in the psychic way there is no place for such things. On the contrary they were given as means of approaching the Divine and receiving the Light and materialising the psychic contact, and so long as they are approached in the right spirit and used for the true purpose they have their place. It is only if they are misused, not rightly approached or approached with indifference and inertia, or revolt or hostility or some gross desire, that they are out of place and can have a contrary effect – as the Mother has always warned people and has assigned it as the reason why she does not like lightly to open them to everyone.

But there is another way of vital love which is more usually the way of human nature and that is a way of ego and desire. It is full of vital craving, desire and demand; its continuance depends upon the satisfaction of its demands; if it does not get what it craves or even imagines that it is not being treated as it deserves – for it is full of imaginations, misunderstandings, jealousies, misinterpretations – it at once turns to sorrow, wounded feeling, anger, all kinds of disorder, finally cessation and departure. A love of this kind is in its very nature ephemeral and unreliable and it cannot be made a foundation for divine love. There has been too much of this kind in the relations of the sadhaks with the Mother in approaching her, I suppose, as a human mother with all the reactions of the lower vital nature. For a long time it was per force tolerated – and this was the concession made to human weakness – even accepted in the beginning as a thing too prominent in the human being not to be there to some extent but to be transformed by degrees; but too often, it has refused to transform itself and has made itself a source of confusion, disorder, asiddhi, sometimes complete disaster. It is for this reason that we discourage this lower vital way of human love and would like people to reject and eliminate these elements as soon as may be from their nature. Love should be a flowering of joy and union and confidence and self-giving and Ananda,– but this is only a source of suffering, trouble, disappointment, disillusion and disunion. Even a slight element of it shakes the foundations of peace and replaces the movement towards Ananda by a fall towards sorrow, discontent and nirānanda [blisslessness].

In your own case you often write in your wrong moods as if human love, even with some of these lower ingredients, were the only thing possible to you. But that is not so at all, for it contradicts your own deepest experiences. Always what your inner being has asked is Love, Bhakti, Ananda and whenever it comes to the surface it is, even if only in a first elementary form, the divine love which it brings with it. A basis of deep and intense calm and stillness, a great intensity of emotion and bhakti, an inrush of Ananda, this is in these moments your repeated experience. On the other hand when you insist too much on the love which exists by continual cravings, what comes is the other movement – fits of despondency, sorrow, nirānanda. In stressing on the psychic basis, in wishing you to conquer this other movement, I am only pointing you to the true way of your own nature – of which the psychic bhakti, the true vital love are the real moving forces, and the other is only a superficial immixture.

I had hoped to write shortly, but I have not been able to do so. Therefore, for the moment since I have promised you this letter in the morning, I can only repeat, on the other matter, that I have not said that you in any degree or the sadhaks generally were the cause of the Mother’s illness. To another who wrote something of the kind from the same personal standpoint I replied that the Mother’s illness was due to a struggle with universal forces which far overpassed the scope of any individual or group of individuals. What I wrote about the strain thrown on the Mother by the physical contacts was in connection with her resumption of work – and it concerns the conditions under which the work can best be done, so that these forces may not in future have the advantage. Conditions have been particularly arduous in the past owing to the perhaps inevitable development of things, for which I do not hold anyone responsible, but now that the sadhana has come down to the most material plane on which blows can still be given by the adverse forces it is necessary to make a change which can best be done by a change in the inner attitude of the sadhaks, for that alone now can make – until the decisive descent of the supramental Light and Force – the external conditions easier. But of this I cannot write at the tail end of a letter.


November 17, 1931

(A letter from Mother.)

For God’s sake come back to your common sense!

I never said that I would see you no more. Sri Aurobindo asked you only to be a little patient, as for the “silent expressionless love” He is not conscious of having written to you anything of the kind.

Now, about my “grudging” smile – I will tell you what I said to Sri Aurobindo when I met Him to-day at 1.30. Relating what happened in the morning at pranam, I told Him, concerning you: “There is a letter of Dilip to you and I do not know what he writes, but I can assure you that when he (Dilip) came to me this morning, I gave him a good, long blessing and my best smile.”

You can understand that I felt somewhat astonished when I heard that my best smile was a grudging one. Are you quite sure that you did not look in your head at what you imagined would be, instead of looking at my face?...

Your going away is quite out of question. I want you to remain here because I know that it is here – and here only – that you can and will be happy.

Why do you ask for my love? Is it not long since you have it already?


November 20, 1931

It is not surprising that your poem should draw so much admiration,– it is a magnificent poem and you have made of it a magnificent translation. I read it to the Mother and she was very much struck by its beauty and power and also its depth of psychological and spiritual feeling and knowledge.

I have made only a few alterations where it seemed to me necessary in order to satisfy the turns of the English language. For instance “spicy urge broken by mortification” “azure melody of attainment” “peak roots the gloom” are in English a little strange and forced; I have substituted turns which ran better into the mould of the language,– in the first two instances approaching, I think, nearer to the original. “Filth” is rather violent; I have substituted a milder phrase. Expressions like “your peak it is that” “your clarion it is that” are a little awkward in a poetic prose style: “he will seek” “he will look” etc. sounds stiff, the directness of the present tense gives a better effect. Your “Aurora” can hardly be said and is besides too classic and academic for present-day language; I substitute “Dawn-Goddess”. The three or four other corrections are for nicety of phrase and rhythm.

I am glad to hear that your friend in Germany is already benefiting inwardly by turning here. The Mother can think of nothing from Vienna except the “Largo” of Hendel; she intended to speak to you about it (or perhaps she spoke?) just before she fell ill.


November 22, 1931

The Mother always intended to see you after the 24th, so you need have no scruple about coming to her on the 25th. It will not be at all extorting anything or forcing yourself upon her.

What I want of you is not to love the Mother from a distance, but to become accustomed to feel her presence, her help, the working of her forces even when she is not physically present and this not only in your sleep or inward drawn condition (which seems to be sufficiently easy for you) but in your waking consciousness whether in meditation or in ordinary hours. And this I want because it would give a great push to your Yoga. It would besides give a deeper meaning and power to your physical contact with her. I am sure that all this will come fully in time.

For Pratap, you could perhaps bring him with you on the 25th. He could see her for five minutes or so and then leave you. It is not necessary for him to speak of family etc., as she already knows through you. His seeing her should be rather as a help in deeper things and to give a push to his spiritual growth and establishing the connection between him and the Mother.


November 27, 1931

It is good to hear that you have had this experience, the beginning surely of a new progress. “A concrete feeling with a realisation of truth” would seem to show that it was mental and psychic at the same time – and that is all right. For it is not only the soul but the instrumental nature also (in the end down to the most material and external) that must feel the divine union.

Your translation of Amal’s poem is at once astonishingly close and exquisitely beautiful. As to the others, you are quite right in using this freedom when translating from prose into poetry; to be literal or too close to the original hampers one in finding the full poetic turn and expression. Be as free as you like; fidelity to the idea is the only thing needful. As a result of the freedom, these two translations, are much more poetic and convincing than those you sent me before.


December 1, 1931

The translation of Wordsworth is very good. That of Nolini’s sonnet perhaps fails a little in the eighth line (the finest in the original) – and it may be in the twelfth and the last, but of that I am not quite sure; the rest is admirable.

The experience of the “solid block” feeling indicates the descent of a solid strength and peace into the external being – in the vital-physical most, I suppose. It is this always that is the foundation, the basis into which all else (Ananda, light, knowledge, bhakti) can descend in the future and stand or play safely. The numbness is there in the other experience because the movement is inward; but here the Yogashakti is coming outward into the fully awake external nature,– as a first step towards the establishment of the Yoga and its experiences there. So the numbness which is a sign of the consciousness tending to draw back from the external parts, is not there.


December 5, 1931

I am finding nowadays a sense of power deepening in me when I translate these for my [?] of translations in my book. I feel almost sure the public will take very kindly to these. Besides, these will introduce a novelty and departure (particularly the prose to poem translations). I will send the book to the press in a fortnight or so. I pray in humility for the continuance of my inspiration which comes from you and Mother.

Both the translations are extremely good. The Miltonic one is very fine and truly Miltonic. I have noted one mistake as to the sense of a word: I think “grateful” here does not mean kṛtaghna, it is used in its oldest sense “pleasing” which is still preserved in such phrases as “ungrateful task.”

My opinion of Browning has been expressed, I think in the Future Poetry. I had a fervent passion for him when I was from seventeen to eighteen, after a previous penchant for Tennyson; but like most calf-love both these fancies were of short duration. While I had it, I must have gone through most of his writings (Fifine at the Fair and some others excepted) some half dozen times at least. There is much stuff of thought in him, seldom of great depth but sometimes unexpected and subtle, a vast range not so much of character as of dramatic human moods, and considerable power and vigour of rough verse and rugged language. But there is little of pure poetic quality in him, or sheer beauty of expression, no magic; he gets the highest or finest inspiration only in a line or two here and there. His expression is often not only rough and hasty but inadequate; in his later work he becomes tiresome. Not one of the greater poets, but still a great creator.


December 7, 1931

I am rather shaky sometimes about philosophy in poems. My friends Niren and Annada are down on it. But how can I help it? I have to be true to myself, isn’t it? And besides, why must I agree with them about this dictum of theirs that a poem must have no philosophy? And why must philosophy be a taboo in a poem if it comes in a musical garb? Please let me have a few lines from you on this point. Isn’t this musical? By the way I am not at all depressed or anything. The poem, I hope, doesn’t suggest that? I am in a delightful mood as Mother will have told you?

It is a very beautiful poem and the poeticisation of Anatole France is very well done.

What do they mean by “philosophy” in a poem? Of course if one sets out to write a metaphysical argument or treatise in verse like the Greek Empedocles45 or the Roman Lucretius46, it is a risky business and is likely to land you into prosaic poetry which is a less pardonable mixture than poetic prose! And also one has to be very careful, when philosophising in a less perilous way, not to be flat or heavy. It is obviously easier to be poetic when writing about a skylark than when writing about the attributes of the Brahman! But that does not mean that there is to be no thought or no expression of truth in poetry; there is no great poet who has not tried to «philosophise». Shelley wrote about the skylark, but he also wrote about the Brahman. “Life, like a dome of many-coloured glass,” is as good poetry as “Hail to thee, blithe Spirit.” And there are flights of unsurpassable poetry in the Gita and the Upanishads. These rigid dicta are always excessive and there is no reason why a poet should allow the expression of his personality or the spirit within him or his whole poetic mind to be clipped, cabined or stifled by any theories or “thou shalt not”-s of that character.


December 13, 1931

Yes, I had forgotten to answer about the Prayers and remembered only afterwards. I think for Anilkumar to approach his friend would be the best, if he thinks it a likely source. I hesitate to ask Biren for anything – for his position is awkward, surrounded by fathers, Dewans and other guardian angels, and he wrote some time ago that he finds it difficult to get his own allowance regularly because the estate is in a bad way – depression, I suppose, and non payment of rents.

I got your letter only at 10 o’clock and in any case your questions cannot be lightly or too briefly answered. They are not quite rightly put – the true question for us could not be to love or not love the Mother – that is already settled – but in what spirit to make the physical approach to her so as to avoid the mistakes of the past (the general mistake, not yours personally) and get the most spiritual benefit from her contact. However, there are various points of great importance behind your questions and I shall answer them; if I have not dealt with some of them before it is because I feared my answers would be gravely misunderstood by the [?] minds of the sadhaks.


December 15, 1931

I return your MS. I have made some alterations here and there (very few, I believe) to make the thought more clear or to suppress too vivaciously uncomplimentary phrases about loving people, permissible in a private letter but not in a criticism made public.

In one or two places I have corrected at a guess what seem to be mistakes in the typewritten copy – I could not remember what I exactly wrote. In the letter dated 8.12.31 (last page) there are obviously some words omitted; I have put a query in the margin; here you will have to restore from the original letter.

One letter (copied in handwriting, not typed) dated 8.9.31 cannot be published, it is too personal and touches matters which are not for the general public.


December 16, 1931

We don’t object to the photograph being published, but – . The poem is très joli (the English word “pretty” is a little deprecatory or at least too diminutive and does not express its quality); but is the photography worthy of it? It impresses me more like an illustration of a magazine article (in a popular magazine) or an institution prospectus. It is too glossy and ostentatious; but perhaps it will be turned down in the block of the Bharatavarsha press? If so, the objection may disappear.


December 20, 1931

Tagore is always Tagore (I hope you won’t find this saying too cryptic). As for the pictures, if people are pleased with them, (as they are by Tagore’s music), they serve the purpose of their existence, and what more can be said for any of the creations of this Prakriti?


December 26, 1931

I should like – and the Mother asks me – just to express a word of appreciation of the music yesterday. Your song to Mahakali was superb – full of a fine variety and great power. The Mother came up enthusiastic and said it was filled with a most wonderful life, energy and movement; one could feel the universal forces pouring themselves through it. Truly, you have opened your wings and soared into a larger ether.


December 28, 1931

It is regrettable that this attack should recur. Perhaps it was a little my fault – you were or seemed to me [to be] going on so well that I was not on my guard against its possible recurrence. During the last two or three days the suggestion did come to me that there might be a turn of that kind, but I was so much in the joy of your music that I did not give it credence.

It is certainly not the answering of questions that will remove the underlying cause of the recurrence. Even if the answers satisfy, it could only be for a time. The same questionings would rise either in a mechanical reiteration – for it is not truly the reason from which they arise, it is a certain part of the vital consciousness affected by the surrounding atmosphere – or else presented from a shifted ground or a somewhat changed angle of vision. The difficulty can only disappear if you remain resolute that it shall disappear – if you refuse to attach any value to the justifications which the mind is made to put forward for your “sadness” under this atmospheric influence and, as you did in certain other matters, stick fast to the resolution to make the yogic change, to awake the psychic fully, not to follow the voices of the mind but to do rather what the Mother asks of you, persisting however difficult it may be or seem to be. It is so that the psychic can fully awaken and establish its influence, not on your higher vital where it is already awake and growing through your poetry and music and certain experiences so that whenever your higher vital is active you are in good condition, full of delight and creativeness and open to experience; but it is the influence on the lower vital, for it is there as I have already told you that your difficulties are and that this vital depression recurs.

For the rest, it is not a fact that the Mother is retiring more and more or that she has any intention of going inside entirely like me. Your remarks about the privileged few are incomprehensible to me; we are not confiding in a few at the expense of others or telling them what is happening while keeping silent to you. I have, I think, written more to you than to anybody else about these matters and the Mother has not been confiding to anybody anything in that field which has been held back from you. This – about the privileged few – is an old complaint of yours and it has no foundation. If anybody claims to have the special confidence of the Mother, he is making an egoistic claim which is not justifiable. Your real point seems to be about the Mother’s not taking up the soup [distribution] and its accompaniments again. I have told you already why she was compelled by the experience of her illness to stand back from the old routine – which had become for most of the sadhaks a sort of semi-ecclesiastical routine and nothing more. It was because of the mistaken attitude of the sadhaks which had brought about an atmosphere full of movements contrary to the Yoga and likely to lead to disaster – as it had already begun to do. To resume the soup on the old footing would be to bring back the old conditions and end in a repetition of the same round of wrong movements and the same results. The Mother has been slowly and carefully taking steps to renew on another footing her control of things after her illness, but she can take no step which will allow the old dark movements to return – movements of some of which I think you yourself were beginning to take notice. The next step is for the sadhaks themselves to take; they must make it possible (by their change of attitude, by their resolution to rise on the lower vital and physical plane into the true consciousness) for a union with the Mother on that plane in the right way and with the right result to become possible. More I cannot say just now; but I fully intend to be more explicit hereafter – so far as I can without special reference to individuals; for there are things personal to people’s Yoga that can often be spoken of only to themselves and not to others.

As for your other questions I shall consider them in another letter; it is too late tonight. It is already 3.30 p.m.47 I will only say that what happens is for the “best” in this sense only that the end will be a divine victory in spite of all difficulties – that has been and always will be my seeing, my faith and my assurance – if you are willing to accept it from me. But that does not mean that your sadness and depression are necessary to the movement! The sooner they disappear never to recur again, the more joyously the Mother and I will advance on the steep road to the summits, and the easier it will be for you to realise what you want, the complete Bhakti and Ananda.


December 29, 1931

(from Mother)


Why do you speak of “the ultimate human disappearance of the Mother?” I have – I assure you – not the least intention of disappearing or vanishing, humanly or otherwise; and those who care to see me with their physical eyes can feel quite at ease on this point.

If you permit, I would advise you never to listen to what sadhaks say – especially advanced sadhaks ...


December 30, 1931

I have looked at your “questions” (not already answered directly), but I find that most of them are implicitly solved in my letter. The others (two only) are difficult to answer without going into the whole question of the Yoga and its condition and everything else and writing a chapter or perhaps a volume of the Arya. A shorter reply might lead to misunderstanding or perhaps merely non-understanding. I will consider however whether I can fit what I have to say into an expression which will be at once short and enlightening and not needing a commentary like the aphorisms of the Brahmasūtras48.


1931 (?)

There is only one answer to Sachin’s question – marriage and Yoga are two different movements going opposite ways; if he follows one, he will be moving away from the other. So if he marries, either of two things will happen – he will sink into the ordinary life and go far away from us in spirit or he will find married life unsatisfactory, renounce his wife and return to the path that leads towards the Divine. Marriage with the first result would be only a stupidity; marriage for the second result would be irrational inconsequence. So in either way – As for the withdrawal of Grace, it might be said that few are those from whom the grace withdraws ...



The German translation of your poem is very well done. As for Frau Füllöp Miller49 whose judgment on men is as unanswerable as yours on European women we will follow the profound Asquithian policy which is good throughout the ages: “Wait and see.”


1932 (?)

...P.S. Did you read Cromnur Byng’s compliments on my poems (I had sent him about a dozen of my latest) that he “greatly admired my beautiful poems?” What would Thomson say to that? If even my beginner’s poems are so appreciated (for I would not think he was insincere here – Englishmen are very chary of praise in such matters) how would he respond to the magnificent mature poems of Harin? By the way please send us a version of your Thomsonian letter to Nirod so that we may ponder over and grow wiser at leisure. I really need some polite version thereof. Also did you note Saratchandra’s high praise (on back of Dola) calling me a “great writer?” You are bound to note it – please.

I did not notice Saratchandra’s praise – as I only looked at the first and second pages and not at the back. I shall see now. I read Cromnur Byng’s letter in a hurry and did not quite seize about the beautiful poems. I should very much like to know which poems they were.

I have been too dreadfully busy to get together the new version of my random and violent remarks (it was not a letter but scattered comments) on the subject of English poetry by Indians. [?] wrote Thompson has pronounced I didn’t know English. Perhaps Cromnur Byng doesn’t know English either! That would explain everything.

Harin’s metres

(1) “Drowse Deeps”

This metre could be taken as iambic with occasional [?] lines such as the first or trochaic with an occasional excess syllable at the beginning. But the first seems to me obviously the right thing, since several of the “iambic” lines are plainly iambic in movement and can hardly be “excess syllable” trochaic, e.g.

Signs of | the day | break’s thirst |

which one could hardly see

Signs | of the | daybreak’s | thirst,

as the “of” could not bear the stress.

(2) “Desert”

This seems to be a metre on that principle of eight stresses to a line, the part being merely iambic and anapaestic, but often there is a stress in the first syllable of the line which gives it a trochaic-dactylic air. But this may be explained away as a truncated iamb, e.g.

While | I stand | like a straight | tall tree | in the cen|tre of Time | a de|sert bore |.

The lines are sometimes cut into halves of four stresses each, sometimes the halves are run into each other, e.g.

Where ei|ther at noon | or night | I am conscious ||

Of a deep|ful glow | which no cloud | has pleased ||

where there are evidently two halves, otherwise the last syllable of “conscious?” would not be admissible.

(3) “The Miracle”

There is no paean I think: Harin must have meant to stress

With the re|flexed efful|gence of my | lone dreams |

“Reflexed” as a past participle = recurved has its stress on the last syllable but Harin must have used in the sense of “becoming a reflex”, that is carrying in it the reflected image of my dreams. “Reflex” the noun (or adjective) is accented on the first syllable.

I am glad you are taking up writing again. I always think that it is a mistake at this stage to give up mental activity – that it should be done as the exercise of a god-given talent to be used for the true purpose is quite the right thing and my experience is that it can help rather than hinder the purification. Fame you already have and that need no longer attract or divert you.


1932 (?)

The softness is the sign of the coming to front of the psychic being and it brings with it the plasticity of the mind and vital to a truer working.


1932 (?)

(About a letter from the Carey-Perry School of the Chemistry of Life, Los Angeles)

I think this will amuse you; it is an unexpected comment on Krishnaprem’s scepticism about science + Yoga – or should it be, science = Yoga. Here there is both the addition and the equation. “The great plan of salvation for man,– it is truly a physico-chemical process” seems hard to beat, but “The Second Period of the Divine Outpouring, symptoms due to Natrum Sulph50 need” does, I think, beat it. And there are many others.


1932 (?)

I have read the book51 which I return. The part about the changed attitude of modern Science to its own field of discovery is interesting, and the other book in which, I suppose, he deals at more length with this subject, ought to be worth reading. The latter part of this book about religious experience I find very feeble; it gives me the impression of a hen scratching the surface of the earth to find a scrap or two of food – nothing deeper.


1932 (?)

The translation is very successful.

I don’t know whether “marmatale... parbata-guhāy” will convey the right meaning to the Bengali reader; but if it does, then it is certainly more poetic than the alternative.


1932 (?)

(On Sri Aurobindo’s translation of Dilip’s poem, “Priestess of the Unseen Light,” reproduced on the facing page.)

This is the best I could make of it; I think it ought to do. K. Sen’s translation is far from bad, but it is not perfect either and uses too many oft-heard locutions without bringing in the touch of magic that would save them. Besides, his metre in spite of his trying to lighten it, is one of the common and obvious metres which are almost proof against subtlety of movement. It may be mathematically more equivalent to yours, but there is an underrunning lilt of celestial dance in your rhythm which he tries to get but, because of the limitations of the metre, cannot manage. I think my iambic-anapaestic choice is better fitted to catch the dance-lilt and keep it.


1932 (?)

Your translation52 is admirable. I like it very much and fully appreciate the beauty of the phrase you have discovered to translate mine – they are much better and nearer to the power and spirit of the original than the mere literal variants you cite. Durlabha nakṣatra-dīkṣā is very good, but not so good as āsanga ingit tara [?].

Nishikanto’s poem in laghu-guru [Sanskrit metre of short and long syllables] is splendid. But perhaps Girija would say that it is a pure Bengali rhythm, which means I suppose that it reads as well and easily in Bengali as if it were not written on an unusual rhythmic principle. I suppose that must necessarily be the aim of a new metre or metrical principle; it is what I am trying to do with quantitative efforts in English.


1932 (?)

I shall go through Prabodh Sen’s letter, but it may take me some time. What is the exact scope of the discussion with Anilbaran53, is it that he does not recognise the reality of the mātra vṛtta54 as a separate principle of Bengali metre? That I suppose was the position before. Originally, indeed there was only one stream recognised,– that I remember very well, for it was the time when I was learning and assiduously reading Bengali literature; at that time what you now call svara vṛtta55 was regarded as mere popular verse or an old irregular verse form. Afterwards with the advent and development of Tagore’s poetry, one began to hear of two recognised principles of Bengali metre, svara (I was going to say kṣara) and akṣara56? Is it Anilbaran’s contention that only these two are real and legitimate? Whatever it be Anilbaran is a born fighter and if you tell him that all the Mahārathis57 are against him and his smashing defeat a foregone conclusion, he will only gallop faster towards the battle. My own difficulty is that I have not yet grasped the principle of the mātrā vṛtta – what is it that determines the long or the short mātrā in Bengali? Satyen Dutta’s dealings with it I can follow (...)


1932 (?)

I don’t think I can suggest any corrections in Suhrawardy’s letter, except perhaps that “awe-struck importance” ought strictly to be “awe-striking”, since it is not the importance but the people who feel it who are awe-struck or want to be. The rest I find perfectly correct and well-written.

The “symbol” explanation is certainly one of the weakest of the many weak concessions that have been made to “Western rationalism” by Indian apologists who try to save their case by giving away nine-tenths of it. In a certain sense the gods are symbols, I suppose, but in that sense everything and everybody is a symbol, including the said surrenderful apologists themselves (...)


January 4, 1932

I am not competent in respect to the technique of Bengali poetry. I can only follow my feeling, what I call the inner ear – so on this point I can say nothing beyond my own feeling. In your first poems written here I thought that your rhythmic movement departed sometimes from the norm – I suppose that is what they mean by chhanda bhanga [a break in the metre]? – but on a second reading my impression was, more often than not, that there was a (rhythmic) justification for the departure. I do not know whether Buddhadev is referring to these poems or to others written before the opening of your poetic faculty here, which were poor both in expression and in rhythm. In any case, there can surely be no exception taken to your rhythm now; your mastery seems to me complete. I suppose in this province Tagore’s verdict can be taken as final.

On the general question the truth seems to me to be very simple. It is quite true that fine or telling rhythms without substance (substance of idea, suggestion, feeling) are hardly poetry at all, even if they make good verse. But that is no ground for belittling beauty or excellence of form or ignoring its supreme importance for poetic perfection. Poetry is after all an art and a poet ought to be an artist of word and rhythm, even though necessarily, like other artists, he must also be something more than that, even much more. I hold therefore that harshness and roughness, karkaśatā, are not merits, but serious faults to be avoided by anyone who wants his work to be true poetry and survive. One can be strong and powerful, full of sincerity and substance without being harsh, rough or aggressive to the ear. On one side Swinburne’s later poetry is a mere body of rhythmic sound without a soul, but what of Browning’s constant deliberate harshness and roughness which deprives much of his work of the claim to be poetry – it is already much discredited and it is certain that posterity will carefully and with good reason forget to read it? Energy enough there is and abundance of matter and these carry the day for a time and give fame, but it is only perfection that endures. Or if the cruder work lasts, it is only by association with the perfection of the same poet’s work at his best. I may say also that if mere rhythmic acrobacies of the kind to which you very rightly object condemn a poet’s work to inferiority and a literature deviating on to that line to decadence, the drive towards a harsh strength and rough energy of form and substance may easily lead to another kind of undesirable acrobacy and an opposite road towards individual inferiority and general decadence. Why should not Bengali poetry go on to the straight way of its progress without running either upon the rocks of roughness or into the shallows of mere melodies? Austerity of course is another matter – rhythm can be either austere to bareness or sweet and subtle, even luxurious – perfection can be attained in either of these extreme directions if the mastery is there.

As for rules – rules are necessary but they are not absolute; one of the chief tendencies of genius is to break old rules and make departures which create new ones. English poetry of today luxuriates in movements which to the mind of yesterday would have been anarchic license, chhanda bhanga, yet it is evident that has led to discoveries of new rhythmic beauty with a very real charm and power and opened out possible lines of growth,– however unfortunate many of its results may be. Not the formal mind, but the ear must be the judge.

I do not think the appreciation of poetry like yours is dependent on a new technique; it is as you say, something in the composition of the nature which responds or does not respond to the new note that determines the rejection or the acceptance. At the same time the development of this new note – the impression of a deeper yogic or mystic experience in poetry – may very well demand for its fullness new departures in technique, a new turn or turns of rhythm, but subtle in their difference rather than aggressive.


January 12, 1932

Your poem is very melodious and beautiful. I will explain it to the Mother this morning. It does not quite coincide with the scheme of the dance suggested by the Mother, as I heard it from her; but I have yet to ask her.

I did not receive the poem of Buddhadev you mention, but you sent me some before in which certainly there was no harshness. I was answering to what his karkaśatā might mean; to austerity (in its place, not as a general rule) I have no objection.

My letter to you is finished in a way, but still to be revised and copied.


January 12, 1932

It is indeed a very fine stanza in which you have embodied what the Mother wrote58. I will ask her about the translation in French.

There is just one point left. The greater part of your song – which, I prefer to say, the Mother finds very good,– expresses the seeking, but there were in the Mother’s scheme certain things that had to happen after that finding. (1) the immobility of wonder and ecstasy at the first revelation, (2) the first adoration (prostration), (3) the offering – of flowers, jewels, (4) the chant or expression of adoration, (5) the realisation that enough has not been done and the entire self-giving. To put all that verbally into the song would make it too long; but can the music be so arranged that Sahana can go through the indication of these movements leading up to the close in that magnificent last stanza?


January 1932

(“Radha’s Prayer,” composed by Mother for Sahana.)

La prière de Radha à Krishna

“Ô toi quej’ai, à première vue, reconnu comme le Seigneur de mon être, comme mon Dieu, accepte mon offrande!

“À Toi toutes mes pensées, toutes mes émotions, tous les sentiments de mon cœur, toutes les sensations, tous les mouvements de ma vie, chaque cellule de mon corps, chaque goutte de mon sang. Je suis tienne, absolument, intégralement tienne, tienne sans réserve. Ce que tu voudras de moi, je le serai. Que tu décides ma vie ou ma mort, mon bonheur ou ma peine, mon plaisir ou ma souffrance, tout ce qui me viendra de toi sera le bienvenu. Chacun de tes dons sera toujours pour moi un don divin apportant avec lui la Félicité Suprême.”59


January 14, 1932

I send you the promised letter today60; you will see that it is less a reply to the exact terms of your letter than a “defence of the gospel of divinisation of life” against the strictures and the incomprehensions of the mentality (or more often the vitality) that either misunderstands or shrinks from it – or perhaps misunderstands because it shrinks, and shrinks too because it misunderstands both my method and my object. It is not a complete defence, but only raises or answers a main point here and there. The rest will come hereafter.

But all language is open to misunderstanding; so I had better in sending on the letter make or try to make certain things clear.

1. Although I have laid stress on things divine in answer to an excessive (because contrary) insistence on things human, it must not be understood that I reject everything human,– human love or worship or any helpful form of human approach as part of the Yoga. I have never done so, otherwise the Ashram could not be in existence. The sadhaks who enter the Yoga are human beings and if they were not allowed a human approach at the beginning and long after, they would not be able to start the Yoga or would not be able to continue it. The discussion arises only because the word “human” is used in practice, not only as identical with the human vital (and the outward mind), but with certain forms of the human vital ego-nature. But the human vital has many other things in it and is full of excellent material. All that is asked by the Yoga is that this material should be utilised in the right way and with the right spiritual attitude and also, that the human approach to the Divine should not be constantly turned into a human revolt and reproach against it. And that too we ask only for the sake of the success of the approach itself and of the human being who is making it.

2. Divinisation itself does not mean the destruction of the human elements; it means taking them up, showing them the way to their own perfection, raising them by purification and perfection to their full power and Ananda. And that means the raising of the whole of earthly life to its full power and Ananda.

3. If there were not a resistance in vital human nature, a pressure of forces adverse to the change, forces which delight in imperfection and even in perversion, this change would effect itself without difficulty by a natural and painless flowering – as, for example, your own powers of poetry and music have flowered out here with rapidity and ease under the light and rain of a spiritual and psychic influence – because everything in you desired that change and your vital was willing to recognise imperfections, to throw away any wrong attitude – e.g., the desire for mere fame, and to be dedicated and perfect. Divinisation of life means, in fact, a greater art of life; for the present art of life produced by ego and ignorance is something comparatively mean, crude and imperfect (like the lower forms of art, music and literature which are yet more attractive to the ordinary human mind and vital), and it is by a spiritual and psychic opening and refinement that it has to reach its true perfection. This can only be done by its being steeped in the divine Light and Flame in which its material will be stripped of all heavy dross and turned into the true metal.

4. Unfortunately, there is the resistance, a very obscure and obstinate resistance. That necessitates a negative element in the Yoga, an element of rejection of things that stand in the way and of pressure upon those forms that are crude and useless to disappear, on those that are useful but imperfect or have been perverted to retain or to recover their true movement. To the vital this pressure is very painful, first, because it is obscure and does not understand and, secondly, because there are parts of it that want to be left to their crude motions and not to change. That is why the intervention of a psychic attitude is so helpful. For the psychic has the happy confidence, the ready understanding and response, the spontaneous surrender; it knows that the touch of the Guru is meant to help and not to hurt, or, like Radha in the poem, that whatever the Beloved does is meant to lead to the Divine Rapture.

5. At the same time, it is not from the negative part of the movement that you have to judge the Yoga, but from its positive side; for the negative part is temporary and transitional and will disappear, the positive alone counts for the ideal and for the future. If you take conditions which belong to the negative side and to a transitional movement (like the drawing back of the Mother), as the law of the future and the indication of the character of the Yoga, you will commit a serious misjudgement, a grave mistake. This Yoga is not a rejection of life or of closeness and intimacy between the Divine and the sadhaks. Its ideal aims at the greatest closeness and unity on the physical as well as the other planes, at the most divine largeness and fullness and joy of life.

I shall perhaps – I am not quite sure yet of the time – be able to put at your disposal before very long something in writing which will indicate, not in the very inadequate form of intellectual explanation, but in a way more vivid and convincing especially for a poet and artist, what is really the positive aim and experience of a changed being under the Divine touch in this Yoga66.


January 14, 1932

Even if things were as bad as you say, I don’t see how going away would help you in the least – (it would certainly not make you non-human); some have tried before this device of progress by departure and it has never succeeded, they have had to come back and face their difficulty. Your other suggestion is even more irrational – what you propose would not happen and the only result would be hard labour or detention which would be both unpleasant and unprofitable to you and useless to the country. Why do you always come back to this notion of going away or entertain it at all? It is quite meaningless from any rational point of view; it only encourages the adverse Force which wants to take you away from the path to return to the attack, and it prevents the speedy conversion of that dissatisfied part of your vital which is kicking against the pricks – the pricks of your soul and of your spiritual destiny. However sad the prospect may seem to this dissatisfied vital fragment, your destiny is to be a Yogi and the sooner it reconciles itself to the prospect the better for it and for all the other personalities in you. Your alleged or inferred unfitness is a delusion, an imagination of this vital part; it doesn’t exist. If persistence of difficulties is a proof of unfitness, then there is nobody in this Ashram who is fit for the Yoga. We would all have to pack to the ordinary world or en route for the Himalayas.

You describe the rich human egoistic life you might have lived and you say “not altogether a wretched life, you will admit.” On paper it sounds even very glowing and satisfactory, as you describe it. But there is no real or final satisfaction in it, except for those who are too common or trivial to seek anything else, and even they are not really satisfied or happy,– and in the end, it tires and palls. Sorrow and illness, clash and strife, disappointment, disillusionment and all kinds of human suffering come and beat its glow to pieces – and then decay and death. That is the vital egoistic life as man has found it throughout the ages, and yet it is that which this part of your vital regrets? How do you fail to see, when you lay so much stress on the desirability of a merely human consciousness, that suffering is its badge? When the vital resists the change from the human into the divine consciousness, what it is defending is its right to sorrow and suffering and all the rest of it, varied and relieved no doubt by some vital or mental pleasures and satisfactions, but very partially relieved by them and only for a time. In your own case, it was already beginning to pall on you and that was why you turned from it. No doubt, there were the joys of the intellect and of artistic creation, but a man cannot be an artist alone; there is the outer, quite human lower vital part and, in all but a few, it is the most clamorous and insistent part. But what was dissatisfied in you? It was the soul within, first of all, and through it the higher mind and the higher vital. Why then find fault with the Divine for misleading you when it turned to the Yoga or brought you here? It was simply answering to the demand of your own inner being and the higher parts of your nature. If you have so much difficulty and become restless, it is because you are still divided and something in your lower vital still regrets what it has lost or, as a price for its adhesion or a compensation – a price to be immediately paid down to it – asks for something similar and equivalent in the spiritual life. It refuses to believe that there is a greater compensation, a larger vital life waiting for it, something positive in which there shall not be the old inadequacy and unrest and final dissatisfaction. The foolishness is not in the Divine guidance, but in the irrational and obstinate resistance of this confused and obscure part of you to the demand, made not only by this Yoga, but by all Yoga – to the necessary conditions for the satisfaction of the aspiration of your own soul and higher nature.

The “human” vital consciousness has moved always between these two poles, the ordinary vital life which cannot satisfy and the recoil from it to the ascetic solution. India has gone fully through that seesaw, Europe is beginning once more after a full trial to feel the failure of the mere vital egoistic life. The traditional Yogas – to which you appeal – are founded upon the movement between these two poles. On one side are Shankara and Buddha and most go, if not by the same road, yet in that direction; on the other are Vaishnava or Tantric lines which try to combine asceticism with some sublimation of the vital impulse. And where did these lines end? They fell back to the other pole, to a vital invasion, even corruption and a loss of their spirit. At the present day the general movement is towards an attempt at reconciliation, and you have alluded sometimes to some of the protagonists of this attempt and asked me my opinion about them, yours being unfavourable. But these men are not mere charlatans, and if there is anything wrong with them (on which I do not pronounce), it can only be because they are unable to resist the magnetic pull of this lower pole of the egoistic vital desire-nature. And if they are unable to resist, it is because they have not found the true force which will not only neutralise that pull and prevent deterioration and downward lapse, but transform and utilise and satisfy in their own deeper truth, instead of destroying or throwing away, the life-force and the embodiment in matter; for that can only be done by the Supermind power and by no other.

You appeal to the Vaishnava-Tantric traditions, to Chaitanya, Ramprasad, Ramakrishna. I know something about them and, if I did not try to repeat them, it is because I do not find in them the solution, the reconciliation I am seeking. Your quotation from Ramprasad72 does not assist me in the least – and it does not support your thesis either. Ramprasad is not speaking of an embodied, but of a bodiless and invisible Divine – or visible only in a subtle form to the inner experience. When he speaks of maintaining his claim or case against the Mother until she lifts him into her lap, he is not speaking of any outer vital or physical contact, but of an inner psychic experience; precisely, he is protesting against her keeping him in the external vital and physical nature and insists on her taking him on the psycho-spiritual plane into spiritual union with her. All that is very good and very beautiful, but it is not enough: the union has indeed to be realised in the inner psycho-spiritual experience first, because without that nothing sound or lasting can be done; but also there must be a realisation of the Divine in the outer consciousness and life, in the vital and physical planes on their own essential lines. It is that which, without your mind understanding it or how it is to be done, you are asking for, and I too; only I see the necessity of a vital transformation, while you seem to think and to demand that it should be done without any radical transformation, leaving the vital as it is. In the beginning, before I discovered the secret of the Supermind, I myself tried to seek the reconciliation through an association of the spiritual consciousness with the vital, but my experience and all experience show that this leads to nothing definite and final,– it ends where it began, midway between the two poles of human nature. An association is not enough, a transformation is indispensable.

The tradition of later Vaishnava bhakti is an attempt to sublimate the vital impulses through love by turning human love towards the Divine. It made a strong and intense effort and had many rich and beautiful experiences; but its weakness was just there, that it remained valid only as an inner experience turned towards the inner Divine, but it stopped at that point. Chaitanya’s prema was nothing but a psychic divine love with a strong sublimated vital manifestation. But the moment Vaishnavism before or after him made an attempt at greater externalisation, we know what happened – a vitalistic deterioration, much corruption and decline. You cannot appeal to Chaitanya’s example as against psychic or divine love; his was not something merely vital-human; in its essence, though not in its form, it was very much the first step in the transformation, which we ask of the sadhaks, to make their love psychic and use the vital not for its own sake, but as an expression of the soul’s realisation. It is the first step and perhaps for some it may be sufficient, for we are not asking everybody to become supramental; but for any full manifestation on the physical plane the supramental is indispensable.

In the later Vaishnava tradition the sadhana takes the form of an application of human vital love in all its principal turns to the Divine; viraha [separation], abhimāna [hurt love], even complete separation (like the departure of Krishna to Mathura) are made prominent elements of this Yoga. But all that was only meant – in the sadhana itself, not in the Vaishnava poems – as a passage of which the end is milana or complete union; but the stress laid on the untoward elements by some would almost seem to make strife, separation, abhimāna, the whole means, if not the very object of this kind of premayoga. Again, this method was only applied to the inner, not to a physically embodied Divine and had a reference to certain states and reactions of the inner consciousness in its seeking after the Divine. In the relations with the embodied Divine Manifestation, or, I may add, of the disciple with the Guru, such things might rise as a result of human imperfection, but they were not made part of the theory of the relations. I do not think they formed a regular and authorised part of the relations of the bhaktas to Chaitanya or of the disciples at Dakshineswar towards Ramakrishna. On the contrary, the relation of the disciple to the Guru in the Guruvada is supposed always to be that of worship, respect, a complete happy confidence, an unquestioning acceptance of the guidance. [It79 is only in this Ashram that another theory has sometimes been advanced and reached its height as a result of the misapplication or wrong extension of the relation with the human Mother, (which in itself, rightly understood, was not to be discouraged as a phase), and also of certain other misunderstood notions, not only abhimāna, but egoistic unspiritual demand, hostile criticism, revolt, anger and other still more undesirable vital reactions (usually supposed to be foreign to the spiritual consciousness) have been put forward by some, admitted by many in practice, as a part of the Yoga! I do not see how such a method can lead to any good results in the spiritual life. But of this hereafter. All I want to say for the moment is that the application of] the unchanged vital relations to the embodied Divine may lead and has led to movements which are not conducive to the progress of the Yoga.

Ramakrishna’s Yoga was also turned only to an inner realisation of the inner Divine,– nothing less, but also nothing more. I believe his sentence82 about the claim of the sadhak on the Divine for whom he has sacrificed everything was the assertion of an inner and not an outer claim, on the inner rather than on any physically embodied Divine: it was a claim for the full spiritual union, the God-lover seeking the Divine, but the Divine also giving himself and meeting the God-lover. There can be no objection to that; such a claim all seekers of the Divine have; but as to the modalities of this divine meeting, it does not carry us much farther. In any case, my object is a realisation on the physical plane and I cannot consent merely to repeat Ramakrishna. I seem to remember too that for a long time he was withdrawn into himself, all his life was not spent with his disciples! He got his siddhi first in retirement and when he came out and received everyone – well, a few years of it wore out his body. To that, I suppose, he had no objection; for he even pronounced a theory, when Keshav Chandra was dying, that spiritual experience ought to wear out the body! But all the same, when asked why he got his illness in the throat, he answered that it was the sins of his disciples which they threw upon him and he had to swallow! Not being satisfied, as he was, with an inner liberation alone, I cannot accept these ideas or these results; for that does not sound to me like a successful meeting of the Divine and the sadhak on the physical plane, however successful it might have been for the inner life. Krishna did great things and was very clearly a manifestation of the Divine. But I remember a passage of the Mahabharata in which he complains of the unquiet life his followers and adorers gave him, their constant demands, reproaches, their throwing of their unregenerate vital nature upon him. And in the Gita he speaks of this human world as a transient and sorrowful affair and, in spite of his gospel of divine action, seems almost to admit that to leave it is after all the best solution! The traditions of the past are very great in their own place,– in the past; but I do not see why we should merely repeat them and not go farther. In the spiritual development of the consciousness upon earth the great past ought to be followed by a greater future.

There is the rub that you seem all to ignore entirely the difficulties of the physical embodiment and the divine realisation on the physical plane. For most, it seems to be a simple alternative; either the Divine comes down in full power and the thing is done, no difficulty, no necessary conditions, no law or process, only miracle and magic,– or else, well, this cannot be the Divine! Again you all (or almost all) insist on the Divine becoming human, remaining in the human consciousness and you protest against any attempt to make the human Divine; on the other hand, there is an outcry of disappointment, bewilderment, distrust, perhaps indignation, if there are human difficulties, if there is strain in the body, a swaying struggle with adverse forces, obstacles, checks, illness – and some begin to say, “Oh, there is nothing Divine here!” As if one could remain vitally and physically in the untransformed individual human consciousness, in unchanged contact with it, satisfy its demands, and yet be immune under all circumstances and in all conditions against strain and struggle and illness. If I want to divinise the human consciousness, to bring down the supramental, the Truth-Consciousness, the Light, the Force into the physical to transform it, to create there a great fullness of Truth and Light and Power and Bliss and Love, the response is repulsion or fear or unwillingness – or a doubt whether it is possible. On one side there is the claim that illness and the rest should be impossible, on the other a violent rejection of the only condition under which these things can become impossible. I know that this is the natural inconsistency of the human vital mind wanting two inconsistent and incompatible things together; but that is one reason why it is necessary to transform the human and put something a little more luminous in its place.

But is the Divine then something so terrible, horrible or repellent that the idea of its entry into the physical, its divinising of the human should create this shrinking, refusal, revolt or fear? I can understand that the unregenerate vital attached to its own petty sufferings and pleasures, to the brief ignorant drama of life, should shrink from what will change it. But why should a God-lover, a God-seeker, a sadhak fear the divinisation of the consciousness? Why should he object to become one in nature with what he seeks, why should he recoil from sādṛśya-mukti [liberation by likeness to the Divine]? Behind this fear there are usually two causes: first, there is the feeling of the vital that it will have to cease to be obscure, crude, muddy, egoistic, unrefined (spiritually), full of stimulating desires and small pleasures and interesting sufferings (for it shrinks even from the Ananda which will replace them); next there is some vague ignorant idea of the mind, due, I suppose, to the ascetic tradition, that the divine nature is something cold, bare, empty, austere, aloof, without the glorious riches of the egoistic human vital life. As if there were not a divine vital and as if that divine vital is not itself and, when it gets the means to manifest, will not make the life on earth also infinitely more full of beauty, love, radiance, warmth, fire, intensity and divine passion and capacity for bliss than the present impotent, suffering, pettily and transiently excited and soon tired vitality of the still so imperfect human creation!

But you will say that it is not the Divine from which you recoil, rather you accept and ask for it (provided that it is not too divine), but what you object to is the supramental – grand, aloof, incomprehensible, unapproachable, a sort of austere Nirākāra [formless] Brahman. The supramental so described is a bogey created by this part of your vital mind in order to frighten itself and justify its attitude. Behind this strange description there seems to be an idea that the supramental is a new version of the Vedantic featureless and incommunicable Parabrahman [supreme Brahman], vast, grand, cold, empty, remote, devastating, overwhelming; it is not quite that, of course, since it can come down, but for all practical purposes it is just as bad! It is curious that you admit your ignorance of what the supramental can be, and yet you in these moods not only pronounce categorically what it is like, but reject emphatically my experience about it as of no practical validity or not valid for anybody but myself! I have not insisted, I have answered only casually because I am not asking you now to be non-human and divine, much less to be supramental; but as you are always returning to this point when you have these attacks and making it the pivot – or at least a main support – of your depression, I am obliged to answer. The supramental is not grand, aloof, cold and austere; it is not something opposed to or inconsistent with a full vital and physical manifestation; on the contrary, it carries in it the only possibility of the full fullness of the vital force and the physical life on earth. It is because it is so, because it was so revealed to me and for no other reason that I have followed after it and persevered till I came into contact with it and was able to draw down some power of it and its influence. I am concerned with the earth and not with worlds beyond for their own sake; it is a terrestrial realisation that I seek and not a flight to distant summits. All other Yogas regard this life as an illusion or a passing phase; the supramental Yoga alone regards it as a thing created by the Divine for a progressive manifestation and takes the fulfilment of the life and the body for its object. The supramental is simply the Truth-Consciousness and what it brings in its descent is the full truth of life, the full truth of consciousness in Matter. One has indeed to rise to high summits to reach it, but the more one rises, the more one can bring down below. No doubt, life and body have not to remain the ignorant, imperfect, impotent things they are now; but why should a change to fuller life-power, fuller body-power be considered something aloof, cold and undesirable? The utmost Ananda the body and life are now capable of is a brief excitement of the vital mind or the nerves or the cells which is limited, imperfect and soon passes: with the supramental change all the cells, nerves, vital forces, embodied mental forces can become filled with a thousandfold Ananda, capable of an intensity of bliss which passes description and which need not fade away. How aloof, repellent and undesirable! The supramental love means an intense unity of soul with soul, mind with mind, life with life, and an entire flooding of the body consciousness with the physical experience of oneness, the presence of the Beloved in every part, in every cell of the body. Is that too something aloof and grand, but undesirable? With the supramental change, the very thing on which you insist, the possibility of the free physical meeting of the embodied Divine with the sadhak without conflict of forces and without undesirable reactions becomes possible, assured and free. That too is, I suppose, something aloof and undesirable? I could go on – for pages, but this is enough for the moment.

You will say, “But at present the Mother has drawn back and it is the Supramental that is to blame, because it is in order to bring down the Supramental into Matter that she retires.” The Supramental is not to blame; the Supramental could very well have come down into Matter under former conditions, if the means created by the Mother for the physical and vital contact had not been vitiated by the wrong attitude, the wrong reactions in the Ashram atmosphere. It was not the direct supramental Force that was acting, but an intermediate and preparatory force that carried in it a modified Light derived from the Supramental; but this would have been sufficient for the work of opening the way for the highest action, if it had not been for the irruption of these wrong forces on the yet unconquered lower (physical) vital and material plane. The interference was creating adverse possibilities which could not be allowed to continue. The Mother would not have retired otherwise; and even as it is, it is not meant as an abandonment of the field but is only (to borrow a now current phrase from a more external enterprise) a temporary strategic retirement, reculer pour mieux sauter98. The Supramental is therefore not responsible; on the contrary, it is the descent of the Supramental that would end all the difficulties.

I have written interminably at a terrific speed and yet I have not finished. There is still something to be said about the Guruvada (of which I wholly approve), the Yoga by quarrelling with the Divine – about which I make express reserves, your old question about the illness of the Mother (which involves the nature and modalities of the divine manifestation on the physical plane). So this letter must not be regarded as finished, but

To be continued


January 14, 1932

I am not posted in musical technique, but I imagine I understand; in any case the Mother does and she finds the solution all right. But she does not take to the idea of an outside flutist.

No, you are not dwarfs or you would not be here; but you have all still to grow before you reach your full spiritual stature.

I shall have to take a little rest before going on with the “to be continued”; rest, of course, means doing other things that are pressing to be done! As for the other affair, you must not expect it all at once as there is something still to be done to make it presentable and it depends on my finding the time. But anyhow time will be made for both.


January 31, 1932

I suppose the footnote can be there.

There can be no objection to the inclusion of your poems in the Patna anthology of Bengali poets – or even to your being tortured in Hindi prose, if you do not find it objectionable. Who knows, the supramental might even work a premature miracle and your poetry transform the Hindi prose instead of the Hindi prose deforming your poetry!

The photographs you sent at first were rather bewildering, not to say startling. The earlier one of Mrs. Fülöp Miller seemed to indicate an almost alarming vital nature, the second was vital controlled and toned down but not reassuring. I was relieved to get your note saying that they were bad photographs and along with it the real photo of her which shows her as very near to what I saw of her through your letters. What has happened to Rene Fülöp Miller is more deplorable than surprising. People are living now so much in the vital when they do not live in the intellect, and so unguardedly and without restraint, the old mental conventions and restraints being in a state of deliquescence that catastrophes of this kind are likely to be common. The disappearance of conventions and the urge to a larger life are in themselves good things, but on condition that a greater control and a truer harmony are discovered. At present people are going about it in the wrong way – hence the perilous condition of Europe and of the world. Nor are these convulsed and insecure conditions a very favourable environment for the development of a spiritual life either. But it seems that it is in the midst of difficulties that it is destined to come.

You speak of “the photograph” which you ask the Mother to sign. Does that mean you are sending a photo for her to sign, or shall we send you one?


January 1932 (?)

The poem is very good,– harmonious and delicate.

I just glanced at one or two of Buddhadev’s poems – excellent in form, but rather trifling in substance. I prefer his deeper note.

The meditation experience seems to be developing in the right direction. Before it was only an opening; but to get something settled, there must be this assimilation and the growth in stability in peace. Peace is the basis of the spiritual change,– all the rest falls into the peace and is sustained on it as on a sure foundation.


February 1932

I do not think Suhrawardy’s poem can bear correction – any alteration (from another) would probably spoil it. There might be an objection to the repetition “night” “night” in the second verse, but I do not see how to alter the first line of it without diminishing the force, and perhaps after all the objection would be hypercritical in a poem of this intense and simple character. Your translation is admirable.

The door is coming off because the sill has been removed, for it was only the sill that upheld it99. Chandulal’s dealings with the door qua door were scientifically impeccable – the only thing he forgot was that one of the uses of a door is that people (of various sizes) should pass through it. If you regard the door from the Russellian point of view as an external thing in which you must take pleasure for its own sake, then you will see that it was quite all right; it is only when you bring in irrelevant subjective considerations like people’s demands on a door and the pain of stunned heads that objections can be made. However, in spite of philosophy, the Mother will speak to Chandulal in the morning and get him to do what has (practically, not philosophically) to be done.


February 1, 1932

I don’t care for the idea of sending one of Purani’s100 records101 to Hungary. Besides, those records belong to ancient history. In the modern world it is only the up to date that is true.

I have read the letter with interest. What a world! Disorder, thy name is modern life! It reads like a Russian dance of l’être nerveux [the nervous being].

P.S. We send you the photograph signed.


February 3, 1932

I would have been surprised to hear that I regard (in agreement with an “advanced” Sadhak) Ramakrishna as a spiritual pigmy if I had not become past astonishment in these matters. I have said, it seems, so many things that were never in my mind and done too not a few that I have never dreamed of doing! I shall not be surprised or perturbed if one day I am reported to have declared, on the authority of “advanced” or even unadvanced Sadhaks, that Buddha was a poseur or that Shakespeare an overrated poetaster or Newton a third-rate college Don without any genius. In this world all is possible. Is it necessary for me to say that I have never thought and cannot have said anything of the kind, since I have at least some faint sense of spiritual values? The passage you have quoted102 is my considered estimate of Ramakrishna.

It is also a misunderstanding to suppose that I am against Bhakti or against emotional Bhakti – which comes to the same thing, since without emotion there can be no Bhakti. It is rather the fact that in my writing on Yoga I have given Bhakti the highest place. All that I have said at any time which could account for this misunderstanding was against an unpurified emotionalism which, according to my experience, leads to want of balance, agitated and disharmonious expression or even contrary reaction and, at its extreme, nervous disorder. But the insistence of purification does not mean that I condemn true feeling and emotion any more than the insistence on a purified mind or will means that I condemn thought and will. On the contrary, the deeper the emotion, the more intense the Bhakti, the greater is the force for realisation and transformation. It is oftenest through intensity of emotion that the psychic being wakes and there is an opening of the inner doors in the Divine.

It is very insincere for anyone to claim prematurely to have possession of the Supermind or even a taste of it. Such claim is usually accompanied by an outburst of superegoism, some blunder of perception or wrong condition or wrong movement. A certain spiritual humility, a serious un-arrogant look at oneself and quiet perception of the imperfection of one’s present nature, and instead of self-esteem and self-assertion a sense of the necessity of exceeding one’s present self, not from egoistic ambition, but from an urge towards the Divine, would be, it seems to me, for this finite [?] terrestrial and human composition better conditions for proceeding towards its supramental change.

Yes, you should learn not to be perturbed by talk of this kind from whomsoever it proceeds; I think I have already tried to put you on your guard against listening to “advanced sadhaks” or taking these pronouncements of theirs as authoritative statements of the aims and conditions of the Yoga. Why this claim to be an advanced sadhak and what is the sense of it? It resolves itself into an egoistic assertion of superiority over others which is not justified so long as there is the egoism and the need of assertion accompanied, as it always is, by a weakness and turbid imperfection which belie the claim of living in a superior consciousness to the “unadvanced” sadhaks. It is time these crudities disappeared from the Ashram atmosphere.


February 3, 1932

I do not think Harris’ attack on Shaw as you describe it can be taken very seriously any more than can Wells’ jest about his pronunciation of English being the sole astonishing thing about him. Wells, Chesterton, Shaw and others joust at each other like the kabiwalas103 of old Calcutta, though with more refined weapons, and you cannot take their humorous sparrings as considered appreciations; if you do, you turn exquisite jests into solemn nonsense. Mark that their method in these sparrings, the turn of phrase, the style of their wit is borrowed from Shaw himself with personal modifications; for this kind of humour, light as air and sharp as a razor-blade, epigrammatic, paradoxical, often flavoured with burlesque seriousness and urbane hyperbole, good-humoured and cutting at once, is not English in origin; it was brought in by two Irishmen, Shaw and Wilde. Harris’ stroke about the Rodin bust and Wells’ sally are entirely in the Shavian turn and manner, they are showing their cleverness by spiking their Guru in swordsmanship with his own rapier. Harris’ attack on Shaw’s literary reputation may have been serious, there was a sombre and violent brutality about him which makes it possible; but his main motive was to prolong his own notoriety by a clever and vigorous assault on the mammoth of the hour. Shaw himself supplied materials for his critic, knowing well what he would write, and edited this damaging assault on his own fame, a typical Irish act at once of chivalry, shrewd calculation of effect and whimsical humour. I should not think Harris had much understanding of Shaw the man as apart from the writer; the Anglo-Saxon is not usually capable of understanding either Irish character or Irish humour, it is so different from his own. And Shaw is Irish through and through; there is nothing English about him except the language he writes and even that he has changed into the Irish ease, flow, edge and clarity – though not bringing into it, as Wilde did, Irish poetry and colour.

Shaw’s seriousness and his humour, real seriousness and mock seriousness, run into each other in a baffling inextricable melange, thoroughly Irish in its character,– for it is the native Irish turn to speak lightly when in deadly earnest and to utter the most extravagant jests with a profound air of seriousness,– and it so puzzled the British public that they could not for a long time make up their mind how to take him. At first they took him for a jester dancing with cap and bells, then for a new kind of mocking Hebrew Prophet or Puritan reformer! Needless to say, both judgments were entirely out of focus. The Irishman is, on one side of him, the vital side, a passionné, imaginative and romantic, intensely emotional, violently impulsive, easily inspired to poetry or rhetoric, moved by indignation and suffering to a mixture of aggressive militancy, wistful dreaming and sardonic extravagant humour; on the other side, he is keen in intellect, positive, downright, hating all loose foggy sentimentalism and solemn pretence and prone, in order to avoid the appearance of them in himself, to cover himself with a jest at every step; it is at once his mask and his defence. At bottom he has the possibility in him of a modern Curtius leaping into the yawning pit for a cause, a Utopist or a Don Quixote,– according to occasions a fighter for dreams, an idealistic pugilist, a knight-errant, a pugnacious rebel or a reckless but often shrewd and successful adventurer. Shaw has all that in him, but with it a cool intellectual clearness, also Irish, but not often put to such use, which dominates it all and tones it down, subdues it into measure and balance, gives an even harmonising colour. There is as a result a brilliant tempered edge of flame, lambent, lighting up what it attacks and destroys, and destroying it by the light it throws upon it, not fiercely but trenchantly – though with a trenchant playfulness – aggressive and corrosive. An ostentation of humour and parade covers up the attack and puts the opponent off his defence. That is why the English mind never understood Shaw and yet allowed itself to be captured by him, and its old established ideas, “moral” positions, impenetrable armour of commercialised Puritanism and self-righteous Victorian assurance to be ravaged and burned out of existence by Shaw and his allies. Anyone who knew Victorian England and sees the difference now cannot but be struck by it, and Shaw’s part in it, at least in preparing and making it possible, is undeniable. That is why I call him devastating,– not in any ostentatiously catastrophic sense, for there is a quietly trenchant type of devastatingness,– because he has helped to lay low all these things with his scythe of sarcastic mockery and lightly, humorously penetrating seriousness – effective, as you call it, but too deadly in its effects to be called merely effective.

That is Shaw as I have seen him and I don’t believe there is anything seriously wrong in my estimate. I don’t think we can complain of his seriousness about pacifism, Socialism and the rest of it; it was simply the form in which he put his dream, the dream he needed to fight for, needed by his Irish nature. Shaw’s bugbear was unreason and disorder, his dream was a humanity delivered from vital illusions and deceptions, organising the life-force in obedience to reason, casting out waste and folly as much as possible. It is not likely to happen in the way he hoped; reason has its own illusions and, though he strove against imprisonment in his own rationalistic ideals, trying to escape from them by the issue of his mocking critical humour, he could not help being their prisoner. As for his pose of self-praise, no doubt he valued himself,– the public fighter like the man of action needs to do so in order to act or to fight. Most, though not all, try to veil it under an affectation of modesty; Shaw, on the contrary, took the course of raising it to a humorous pitch of burlesque and extravagance. It was at once part of his strategy in commanding attention and a means of mocking at himself – I was not speaking of analytical self-mockery, but of the whimsical Irish kind – so as to keep himself straight and at the same time mocking his audience. It is a peculiarly Irish kind of humour to say extravagant things with a calm convinced tone as if announcing a perfectly serious proposition – the Irish exaggeration of the humour called by the French pince-sans-rire [dead pan]; his hyperboles of self-praise actually reek with this humorous savour. If his extravagant comparison of himself with Shakespeare had to be taken in dull earnest without any smile in it, he would be either a witless ass or a giant of humourless arrogance,– and Bernard Shaw could be neither.

As to his position in literature, I have given my opinion; but more precisely, I imagine he will take some place but not a very large place, once the drums have ceased beating and the fighting is over. He has given too much to the battles of the hour perhaps to claim a large share of the future. I suppose some of his plays will survive for their wit and humour and cleverness more than for any higher dramatic quality, like those of three other Irishmen: Goldsmith, Sheridan, Wilde. His prefaces may be saved by their style and force, but it is not sure. At any rate, as a personality he is not likely to be forgotten, even if his writings fade. To compare him with Anatole France is futile – they were minds too different and moving in too different domains for comparison to be possible.


February 1932

I have been unable to progress with the Lawrence books for sheer want of time and till I have gone through them I can write nothing worth saying about Lawrence. You must wait till I have got through them. On the other hand, I seized a few minutes to run through Russell – a few minutes were enough. It is just as I expected it to be. I have no doubt that Russell is a competent philosophic thinker, but this might have been written by an ordinary tract-writer of the [?] Publication (I don’t remember its proper name any longer). The arguments of the ordinary Christian apologists to prove the existence of God are futile drivel and Russell in answering them has descended to their level. He was appealing to the mass mind, I suppose, but that is enough to deprive the book of any real thought-value. And yet the questions raised are interesting enough if treated with true philosophic insight or from the standpoint of true spiritual experience. It is queer that the European mind, capable enough in other directions should sink to so much puerility when it begins to deal with religion and spiritual experience. All the same I shall see if there is anything that can be said in the matter.

You expect some sort of conversion of Toku Mama? Nothing is impossible – for miracles do happen and curiously considered, the existence of this world and of Toku Mama in it is itself a miracle. Let us then wait and see the result of the thunder.

By the way your proposal about the servant would involve another miracle. It is true he reaches you with your tiffin carrier in one hand, but he starts with three, I hear, in all his hands and unless he imitates Shaw’s Methuselah and finds some more arms, your proposal is impracticable. If the food is so bad, it is surprising: they have all the materials to give it taste except the more palate-exploding spices – and these we can’t put because there are so many livers and stomachs that go wrong with these spices [?].


February 11, 1932

This poem [“Warning” by A. E. or George Russell] I liked so much because it tallied so surprisingly with yogic aspiration. I have perhaps been forced to make it a little free in consequence? But hope not too free?

It is a good translation reproducing the spirit and movement and manner of the original – exact correspondence of the words does not matter.

The substance of A. E.’s poetry is always very good – he is one of the two or three whose poetry comes nearest to spiritual knowledge and experience. He has too a very fine and subtle perception of things – a little more vital élan (of what he seems to have had abundance in his life but not so much in his poetry) and he would have been not only a fine but a very great poet.


February 13, 1932

Yes, you can include the letter [of 27 December 1930] on Russell’s external man and the two last paragraphs of that on Yogic powers. But do you not think that to speak of chef, chauffeur and day-labourer in this way might be taken as throwing a slur on three very estimable classes? After all, a chef, a chauffeur or a day-labourer may have an inner life and it would not do to appear to suggest otherwise. I don’t quite know what to put – for the names would suggest nothing to the general reader. Perhaps something like “Ramaswamy the chef or Joseph the chauffeur” and “Cheloo the day-labourer,” indicating a reference to individuals would half get us out of the difficulty.

Certainly, you can send for the Kaviraji oil. Rheumatism is not a thing to be encouraged and would not be even if it brought rapture. There was nothing wrong in your letter about the door-sill, nothing to which Chandulal or anybody could take exception104. Obviously Chandulal’s inspiration was not a happy one in this instance. Perhaps he measured things by his own head and forgot that there were in the Ashram and in the Trésor house higher heads on broader shoulders. Samatā [equanimity], I suppose, is a counsel of perfection, even when one breaks one’s head, but it cannot be expected from everyone in all circumstances only perhaps from those who are sitting on the “hill-top” – so that is not a “transgression”. As for divine rapture, a knock on head or foot or elsewhere can be received with the physical Ananda of pain or pain + 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 Alipur 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, e.g. the case of a picketer in Madras or Dr. Noel Paton. In any case, this way of having rapture is better off the list and the Lilliputian doorway was not a happy contrivance.

I am not surprised by what you105 tell me of the method of advertisement to which even great names have succumbed; it is the age of advertisement and America and this kind of thing is, I suppose, universal nowadays. But I agree with you that it is not pretty.


February 16, 1932

Yes, the attitude of Shankar is pitiable but all too human. “Not for the wife’s sake, but for oneself’s sake is the wife dear.”106 Let Maya come in August; the future will look to the future. The attitude towards Esha107 is also very parent-like: the child is the parents’ property, to be brought up according to his own ideas, not according to her need, her powers, her nature. Let us hope he will yet wake and change.

I have suggested some retouches in the two poems you sent me. It is a matter of details of language, but such details have their importance.... I have explained the reason for the other changes.

“Krishnaprem”108 has been snowed under for the last two days. I will see if I can extricate it. But at this rate your “Appendix” will become as long as Sheshnāga [the king of snakes].


February 19, 1932

Last evening I just wanted to do japa concentrating on the star Venus. I just tried trātaka (= fixing the gaze on a point steadfastly) and took your name along with Mother’s and Sri Krishna’s. I did this just because the spirit moved me thus. I have tried this before many times, but with no tangible result or effect, so I didn’t expect any this time either. But somehow last evening there was a most curious effect – and beautiful at that! I had a sense of deep peace and round the Venus a green disc developed which gave place to blue and then to violet which deepened to a self-luminous brightness and suffused the whole western sky – almost. I wondered if it was an optical illusion or hallucination, as the whole thing though it lasted for nearly a quarter of an hour vanished just as I closed my eye for a second after gazing steadfastly for about twenty or twenty-five minutes (at the very least). I dismissed auto-suggestion as an explanation, as I had never even dreamed of seeing any such colour, to say nothing of suggesting it. The phenomenon developed as unexpectedly as had my seeing of those sparks or hearing of those bells and flute notes. But I was sceptical and curious. So I tried it this evening too and with exactly similar results. The only difference was that the colour developed much sooner – in about ten minutes or so and lasted even after I had let my eyelids fall. And my consciousness too, was fully wakeful – I was in no condition of devotional fervour or trance – in fact I was conscious of everything, e.g. of somebody – Bula – passing behind me and sitting down to meditate on the sand. Then I lay down, closed my eyes and, opening them after a short meditation, concentrated on a star in the zenith. The first time I didn’t see anything and was disappointed. Why should only Venus be fruitful of colour and no other star – I asked myself. But the next time the same result. Then every star responded similarly – with an explosion of violet whose diameter grew. I don’t know if this has any meaning, though I feel there is. But even if it isn’t significant certainly it is curious as I am convinced it isn’t optical illusion or hallucination. The reason is, not only was I in perfectly normal consciousness but I never see visions or things. Only sparks a few times – though the bells ring all the time – from year’s end to year’s end. But the colour was beautiful and persisting. How was it?

No, it was neither optical illusion nor hallucination nor coincidence (chromatic) nor auto-suggestion nor any of the other ponderous and vacant polysyllables by which physical science tries to explain away or rather avoid explaining the (scientifically) inexplicable. In these matters the scientist is always doing what he is always blaming the layman for doing when the latter lays down the law on things about which he is profoundly ignorant, without investigation or experiment, without ascertained knowledge – simply by evolving a theory or a priori idea out of his own mind and plastering it as a label on the unexplained phenomena.

There is, as I have told you, a whole range or many inexhaustible ranges of sensory phenomena other than the outward physical which one can become conscious of, see, hear, feel, smell, touch, mentally contact – to use the new established Americanism – either in trance or sleep or an inward state miscalled sleep or simply and easily in the waking state. This faculty of sensing supraphysical things internally or externalising them, so to speak, so that they become visible, audible, sensible to the outward eye, ear, even touch, just as are gross physical objects, this power or gift is not a freak or an abnormality; it is a universal faculty present in all human beings, but latent in some, native rarely and as if by accident in others, frequent or normally active in a few. But just as anyone can, with some training, learn science and do things which would have seemed miracles to his forefathers, so anyone, if he wants, can with a little concentration and training develop the faculty of supraphysical vision. When one starts Yoga, this power is often, though not invariably – for some find it difficult – one of the first to come out from its latent condition and manifest itself, most often without any effort, intention or previous knowledge on the part of the sadhak. It comes more easily with the eyes shut than with the eyes open, but it does come in both ways. The first sign of its opening in the externalised way is very often that seeing of “sparkles” or small luminous dots, shapes, etc., which was your first introduction to the matter; a second is, often enough, the seeing of circles of light or colour around objects, most easily round luminous objects like a star; seeing of colours is a third initial experience – but they do not always come in that order. The yogis in India very often in order to develop the power use the method of trātak, concentrating the vision on a single point or object – preferably a luminous object. Your looking at the star was precisely an exercise in trātak and had the effect which any yogi in India would have told you is normal. For all this is not fancy or delusion; it is part of an occult science which has been practised throughout the historic and prehistoric ages in all countries and it has always been known to be not merely auto-suggestive or hallucinatory in its results, but, if one can get the key, veridic and verifiable. Your first scepticism may be natural in a “modern” man plunging into these lasting things of the past, present and future – natural but not justifiable, because very obviously inadequate to the facts observed; but once you have seen, the first thing you should do is to throw all this vapid pseudo-science behind you, this vain attempt to stick physical explanations on supraphysical things, and take the only rational course. Develop the power, get more and more experience – develop the consciousness by which these things come: as the consciousness develops, you will begin to understand and get the intuition of the significance. Or if you want their science too, then learn and apply the occult science which can alone deal with supraphysical phenomena.

As for what showed itself to you, it was not mere curious phenomena, not even merely symbolic colour, but things that have a considerable importance. The green circular disc you saw round Venus must indeed have been the aura of Venus which is of that colour; but this was only an introduction, a first application of the suddenly developed power of vision. Afterwards, what came, the blue and the violet were another kind of seeing more important for your Yoga; both are clearly associated with Krishna. Blue is his special and significant colour, the colour of his aura when he manifests,– that is why he is called Nīl Krishna; the adjective does not mean that he was blue or dark in his physical body whether in Brindavan or Mathura or Dwarka! Violet is the radiance of Krishna’s protection – that is why it brought to you a sense of peace. The Mother says that she always saw it when she was in communion with Krishna and now too constantly sees it enveloping the Ashram. That this should be the first thing when the power of vision broke through its state of latency is very significant; it proves that you are in contact, the touch already there in your inner being and this force of presence and protection is already around you or over you as an environing influence.

Develop this power of inner sense and all that it brings you. These first seeings are only an outer fringe – behind lie whole worlds of experience which fill what seems to the material man the gap (your Russell’s inner void) between the earth-consciousness and the Eternal and Infinite.

P.S. I remember when I first began to see inwardly (and outwardly also with the open eye), a scientific friend of mine began to talk of after-images – these are only after-images! I asked him whether after-images remained before the eye for two minutes at a time – he said, “no”, to his knowledge only for a few seconds; I also asked him whether one could get after-images of things not around one or even not existing upon this earth, since they had other shapes, another character, other hues, contours and a very different dynamism, life-movements and values – he could not reply in the affirmative. That is how these so-called scientific explanations break down as soon as you pull them out of their cloudland of mental theory and face them with the actual phenomena they pretend to decipher.


February 1932

...P.S. Colour and light are always close to each other,– colour being more indicative, light more dynamic. Colour incandescent becomes light. Gold-green: gold indicates at its most intense something from the supramental, otherwise Overmind truth or intuitive truth drawing ultimately from the supramental truth-consciousness. Green has much to do with the vital and indicates here, I think, the emotional forces in their outpouring. The play of the emotional forces in the divine Truth is, obviously very pertinent to the working of the Krishna light.


February 25, 1932

If it is a translation of the poem (“Vichitra”) that you want me to correct, then I can easily do it, for that kind of work takes practically no time. Krishnaprem’s affair I have not been able to pursue further, because of the vast amount of current correspondence I have to answer every night. I think the only chance is for me to recast it into a very brief answer – or as brief as the subject will allow – in that way it might be possible to finish it.

It is only at the beginning that concentration is necessary to see these colours, afterwards it comes of itself. There was a long time when I used to see colours spontaneously or wherever I cast my eyes, just as you do now, and at every time of concentrated meditation they used to fill the room. Many, indeed, begin to see them spontaneously without any concentration at all, first with closed eyes, afterwards with the eyes open. Seeing them with the eyes closed happens often enough to people who have never practised or even heard of Yoga; but in such cases it proves that there is some kind of occult vision there very near to the surface.

I do not know why you and Amal find so much difficulty with Yeats’ lines; they seem to me quite clear. “Wintry mould” is the clay of the field in the form it takes in winter. “Blossoms a rose” must mean “blossoms as a rose, in the form of a rose”; the other sense seems to me inadmissible. “A casket for my dreams” can only mean “a casket (meant) to hold my dreams” – at least, for the moment I cannot think of any other sense.


February 27, 1932

It is the darkest nights that prepare the greatest dawns – and it is so because it is into the deep Inconscience of material life that we have to bring, not an intermediate glimmer, but the full glory of the divine Light.

I can take no stock in your friend’s theories – at that rate half the world’s poetry would have to disappear. And what is meant by philosophy – there is none in your poem, there is only vision and emotion of spiritual experience, which is a different thing altogether. Truth and thought and light, cast into forms of beauty cannot be banished in that cavalier way. Music and art and poetry have striven from the beginning to express the vision of the deepest and greatest things and not the things of the surface only, and it will be so as long as there are poetry and art and music

Three-three are all right as an element, but why impose them to the exclusion of less complete but delicate sound-returns. Such rules are too absolute.


March 1932 (?)

No, you need not send the review to me – a review of Galsworthy ought to be the most innocuous thing in the world: I shall read it in the facile ease of print. By the way, it is curious but true that one can often get a more final judgment of a thing written when one surveys it in print or even typescript than in manuscript. Perhaps in the letter what is active but irrelevant in the personality of the writer comes in and evokes the personal response of the reader and so prevents detachment?

As they stand, there would be the same objection to the publication of my letters on A. E.’s criticism as to sending them to A. E. But I have cut out or modified the too personal passages and like that they can go. I have also made some verbal alterations; writing hurriedly, as I have always to do now, there were defects in the language or in the expression of the thought which I have tried to correct or smooth over.

I have not forgotten the “positive side” – but I have had no chance recently to do the needful. Krishnaprem has been progressing slowly and by spasms, but is approaching completion – only it is at once too short and too long, too long for your purpose, too short for mine. It ought to be ready before the week is out.


March 16, 1932

I have read your last and also your positively last translations for your book Anāmī. By coincidence I have given today my last and positively last hammerings to get out from myself the letter about Krishnaprem’s letters and you will have the result, I suppose, some time tomorrow.

Your translations are very good, but much more poetic than the originals: some would consider that a fault, but I do not. The songs of these Bhaktas (Kabir and others) are very much in a manner and style that might be called the “hieratic primitive,” like a picture all in intense lines, but only two or three essential lines at a time; the only colour is the hue of a single and very simple strong spiritual idea or emotion or experience. The Urdu poems are still more so. It is hardly possible to carry that over into modern poetry; the result would probably be instead of the bare sincerity of the original some kind of ostensible artificial artlessness that would not be at all the same thing.

I have no objection to your substituting Krishna for Ram, and if Kabir makes any, which is not likely, you have only to sing to him softly, “Rām Shyām judā mat karo bhai,” [Don’t separate Rām and Shyām, O brother] and he will be silenced at once.

The bottom reason for the preference of Krishna or Rama is not sectarian but psychological. The Northerner prefers Rama because the Northerner is the mental, moral and social man in his type, and Rama is a congenial Avatar for that type; the Bengali, emotional and intuitive, finds all that very dry and plumps for Krishna. I suspect that is the whole mystery of the choice. Apart from these temperamental preferences and turning to essentials, one might say that Rama is the Divine accepting and glorifying a mould of the human mental, while Krishna seems rather to break the human moulds in order to create others from the higher planes; for he comes down direct from the Overmind and hammers with its forces on the mind and vital and heart of man to change and liberate and divinise them. At least that is one way of looking at their difference.

By the way, why should the joy of creation be unyogic? Every creator feels the joy of creation – including the Divine Creator.

The music is not on the 28th – it is on the 27th, Easter Sunday.


March 17, 1932

It was a great refreshment to read the letters of Krishnaprem – one feels there a stream from the direct sources of Truth that one does not meet so often as one could desire. Here is a mind that can not only think but see – and not merely see the surfaces of things with which most intellectual thought goes on wrestling without end or definite issue and as if there were nothing else, but look into the core. The Tantriks have a phrase paśyantī vāk to describe one level of the Vāk-Shakti, the seeing Word; Krishnaprem has, it seems to me, much of the paśyantī buddhi, a seeing Intelligence. It might be because he has passed beyond thought into experience, but there are many who have a considerable wealth of experience without its clarifying their eye of thought to this extent; the soul feels, but the mind goes on with mixed and imperfect transcriptions, blurs and confusions in the idea. There must have been the gift of right vision lying ready in this nature.

It is an achievement to have got rid so rapidly and decisively of the shimmering mists and fogs which modern intellectualism takes for Light of Truth. The modern mind has so long and persistently wandered – and we with it – in the Valley of the False Glimmer that it is not easy for anyone to disperse its mists with the sunlight of clear vision so soon and entirely as he has done. All that he says about modern humanism and humanitarianism, the vain efforts of the sentimental idealist and the ineffective intellectual, about synthetic eclecticism and other kindred things is admirably clear-minded, it hits the target. It is not by these means that humanity can get that radical change of its ways of life which is yet becoming imperative, but only by reaching the bed-rock of Reality behind,– not through mere ideas and mental formations, but by a change of the consciousness, an inner and spiritual conversion. But that is a truth for which it would be difficult to get a hearing in the present noise of all kinds of many-voiced clamour and confusion and catastrophe.

A distinction, the distinction very keenly made here, between the plane of phenomenal process, of externalised Prakriti [Nature-force or Nature-soul], and the plane of Divine Reality ranks among the first words of the inner wisdom. The turn Krishnaprem gives to it is not merely an ingenious explanation; it expresses very soundly one of the clear certainties you meet when you step across the border and look at the outer world from the standing-ground of the inner spiritual experience. The more you go inward or upward, the more the view of things changes and the outer knowledge Science organises takes its real and very limited place. Science, like most mental and external knowledge, gives you only truth of process. I would add that it cannot give you even the whole truth of process; for you seize some of the ponderables, but miss the all-important imponderables; you get, hardly even the how, but the conditions under which things happen in Nature. After all the triumphs and marvels of Science the explaining principle, the rationale, the significance of the whole is left as dark, as mysterious and even more mysterious than ever. The scheme it has built up of the evolution not only of this rich and vast and variegated material world, but of life and consciousness and mind and their workings out of a brute mass of electrons, identical and varied only in arrangement and number, is an irrational magic more baffling than any the most mystic imagination could conceive. Science in the end lands us in a paradox effectuated, an organised and rigidly determined accident, an impossibility that has somehow happened,– it has shown us a new, a material Maya, aghaṭana-ghaṭana-paṭīyasī, very clever at bringing about the impossible, a miracle that cannot logically be and yet somehow is there actual, irresistibly organised, but still irrational and inexplicable. And this is evidently because Science has missed something essential; it has seen and scrutinised what has happened and in a way how it has happened, but it has shut its eyes to something that made this impossible possible, something it is there to express. There is no fundamental significance in things if you miss the Divine Reality; for you remain embedded in a huge surface crust of manageable and utilisable appearance. It is the magic of the Magician you are trying to analyse, but only when you enter into the consciousness of the Magician himself can you begin to experience the true origination, significance and circles of the Lila. I say “begin” because, as you suggest, the Divine Reality is not so simple that at the first touch you can know all of it or put it into a single formula; it is Infinite and opens before you an infinite knowledge to which all Science put together is a bagatelle. But still you do touch the essential, the eternal behind things and in the light of That all begins to be profoundly luminous, intimately intelligible.

I have once before told you what I think of the ineffective peckings of certain well-intentioned scientific minds on the surface or apparent surface of the spiritual Reality behind things and I need not elaborate it here. Krishnaprem’s prognostic of a greater danger coming in the new attack by the adversary against the validity of spiritual and supraphysical experience, their new strategy of destruction by admitting and explaining it in their own sense, is interesting enough and there is strong ground for the apprehension he expresses. But I doubt whether if these things are once admitted to scrutiny, the mind of humanity will long remain satisfied with explanations so ineptly superficial and external, explanations that explain nothing. If the defenders of religion take up an unsound position, easily capturable, when they affirm only the subjective validity of spiritual experience, the opponents also seem to me to be giving away, without knowing it, the gates of the materialistic stronghold by their consent at all to admit and examine spiritual and supraphysical experience. Their entrenchment in the physical field, their refusal to admit or even examine supraphysical things was their tower of strong safety; once it is abandoned, the human mind pressing towards something less negative, more helpfully positive will pass to it over the dead bodies of their theories and the broken debris of their annulling explanations and ingenious psychological labels. Another danger may then arise,– not of a final denial of the Truth, but the repetition in old or new forms of a past mistake, on one side some revival of blind fanatical obscurantist sectarian religionism, on the other a stumbling into the pits and quagmires of the vitalistic occult and the pseudo-spiritual – mistakes that made the whole real strength of the materialistic attack on the past and its credos. But these are phantasms that meet us always on the border line or in the intervening country between the material darkness and the perfect Splendour. In spite of all, the victory of the supreme Light even in the darkened earth-consciousness stands as the one ultimate certitude.

Art, poetry, music are not Yoga, not in themselves things spiritual any more than philosophy is a thing spiritual or Science. There lurks here another curious incapacity of the modern intellect – its inability to distinguish between mind and spirit, its readiness to mistake mental, moral and aesthetic idealisms for spirituality and their inferior degrees for spiritual values. It is mere truth that the mental intuitions of the metaphysician or the poet for the most part fall far short of a concrete spiritual experience; they are distant flashes, shadowy reflections, not rays from the centre of Light. It is not less true that, looked at from the peaks, there is not much difference between the high mental eminencies and the lower climbings of this external existence. All the energies of the Lila are equal in the sight from above, all are disguises of the Divine. But one has to add that all can be turned into a first means towards the realisation of the Divine. A philosophic statement about the Atman is a mental formula, not knowledge, not experience: yet sometimes the Divine takes it as a channel of touch; strangely, a barrier in the mind breaks down, something is seen, a profound change operated in some inner part, there enters into the ground of the nature something calm, equal, ineffable. One stands upon a mountain ridge and glimpses or mentally feels a wideness, a pervasiveness, a nameless Vast in Nature; then suddenly there comes the touch, a revelation, a flooding, the mental loses itself in the spiritual, one bears the first invasion of the Infinite. Or you stand before a temple of Kali beside a sacred river and see what? – a sculpture, a gracious piece of architecture, but in a moment mysteriously, unexpectedly there is instead a Presence, a Power, a Face that looks into yours, an inner sight in you has regarded the World-Mother. Similar touches can come through art, music, poetry to their creator or to one who feels the shock of the word, the hidden significance of a form, a message in the sound that carries more perhaps than was consciously meant by the composer. All things in the Lila can turn into windows that open on the hidden Reality. Still so long as one is satisfied with looking through windows, the gain is only initial; one day one will have to take up the pilgrim’s staff and start out to journey there where the Reality is for ever manifest and present. Still less can it be spiritually satisfying to remain with shadowy reflections; a search imposes itself for the Light which they strive to figure. But since this Reality and this Light are in ourselves no less than in some high region above the mortal plane, we can in the seeking for it use many of the figures and activities of life; as one offers a flower, a prayer, an act to the Divine, one can offer too a created form of beauty, a song, a poem, an image, a strain of music, and gain through it a contact, a response or an experience. And when that divine Consciousness has been entered or when it grows within, then too its expression in life through these things is not excluded from Yoga; these creative activities can still have their place, though not intrinsically a greater place than any other that can be put to divine use and service. Art, poetry, music, as they are in their ordinary functioning, create mental and vital, not spiritual values; but they can be turned to a higher end, and then, like all things that are capable of linking our consciousness to the Divine, they are transmuted and become spiritual and can be admitted as part of a life of Yoga. All takes new values not from itself, but from the consciousness that uses it; for there is only one thing essential, needful, indispensable, to grow conscious of the Divine Reality and live in it and live it always.


March 27, 1932

I send you back the translation of your poem, partly corrected, partly rewritten. It is not equal to the original but still I think it is not bad, as I have made it on Sen’s traces.

Your Radha song is very fine indeed; it makes a pair with the dance of Mahakali – a superb pair.


April 1, 1932

As to the “anti-climax”, I will get it out of the way first by protesting that I had not in the least your case in mind when I wrote the “message” about the food-greed in the atmosphere, and I have no grudge against your mohan-bhog [a kind of porridge made by boiling corn flour in milk]. I have myself consumed a fair quantity of it, not only in ancient days,– if it then existed,– but in modern times. You certainly need not renounce it – unless you feel an urgent and spontaneous call to do so for a time; and that is only if it is a grande passion which you feel ought to cool down a bit! But I suppose things have not gone so far as that and it is only a flirt or a sentimental preference.

As to your demand for a suggestion about the Dance of Krishna, it is a little out of my accustomed line, for I am a poet but not in the least a musician and how then can I draw out a suggestive scheme for music? Still I will see what comes – if anything comes. A. E.’s lines on Krishna are a magnificent poem; of course, it gives only one side of the Krishna idea as it is in the Puranas and the Gita.

I never met Chakrabarti119 personally and know nothing about Krishnaprem’s Guru. Chakrabarti’s father came here to see me, but even that I had forgotten till the Mother reminded me of it. I know Chakrabarti only through the Mother, but that is better than any personal acquaintance. The Mother met him in Paris when he was there once with his sons on his way to England; it was before the deluge, in pre-war days. She meditated with him and they were able inwardly to meet each other with a brief but living spiritual interchange. He told her that he had an extraordinary meditation which was entirely due to her, and she was aware of his state of consciousness and discovered in him a remarkable spiritual realisation and a considerable insight on the inner plane. It was the realisation of the Gita or part of it which he had built up in himself, peace, equanimity, the sense of the Divine within, and the atmosphere of peace was so strongly formed and living and real in him that he would convey it to others. On the other hand, he was externally a very worldly man, accepting the not very exalted outward personal life and surroundings he had as the milieu given him and not in the least wishing to change it. It was his theory that this was the teaching of the Gita – to feel Krishna within, to have the inner spiritual life and realisation,– the rest was the Lila and could be left as it was unless or until the Divine himself in the automatic movement of his play chose to change it. This explains the double character of the impression he conveyed to others, which so much surprised you. Those who had themselves some development or aspire to it could, I suppose, feel the sadhak in him; others might see only the worldly man, able, strong, rich, social, successful, accepting, even perhaps drawing to himself enjoyment of riches and power. Others felt both sides, but could understand neither, like your friend in Geneva. Your account of him interested myself and the Mother greatly; it was so evidently the same man, even if the external facts were not there to identify the husband of Krishnaprem’s Guru with the spiritual-worldly Chakrabarti of Paris. Not a complete spiritual hero, no doubt, but a remarkable sadhak all the same.

P.S. Shuyi demands to sing two Gujarati songs on the next music day! He refers to you – or did in his first application which was rejected on the plea of “too late” – as the guarantor of his musical abilities!! I wait anxiously for your word upon this ticklish matter.


April 6, 1932

Your poem is very fine in language and perfect in rhythm; it seems to me to rise more and more as it proceeds and ends in a very high strain. I find it also well planned. I take it that it shows first the descent of the Divine Krishna in the power of his light and the sweetness of love into the sorrowful and darkened world for a new manifestation and creation; then the storm and lightnings of his power sweeping away all that veils and obscures, troubles and oppresses, last the enthronement, in the heart, of love and the Lord of love; that is a very good architecture.

If you like you can use the passage about Rama and Krishna for your book; I have inserted one or two alterations to make my meaning more precise and clear.

Krishnaprem’s letter is as refreshing as its predecessors; he always takes things by the right end. And his way of putting them is delightfully pointed and downright, as is natural to one who has got to the root of the matter. But I find it difficult to take Jung and the psychologists very seriously [when they try to scrutinise spiritual experience by the flicker of their torch-lights]120, though perhaps one ought to, for half-knowledge is a powerful thing and can be a great obstacle to the coming in front of the true Truth. No doubt, they are very remarkable men in their own field, but this new psychology looks to me very much like children learning some summary and not very adequate alphabet, exulting in putting their a-b-c-d of the subconscient and the mysterious underground super-ego together and imagining that their first book of obscure beginnings (c-a-t = cat, t-r-e-e = tree) is the foundation of all knowledge. They look from down up and explain the higher lights by the lower obscurities; but the foundation of things is above and not below, upari budhna eṣām [their foundation is above]. The superconscient, not the subconscient, is the true foundation of things. The significance of the lotus is not to be found by analysing the secrets of the mud from which it grows here; its secret is to be found in the heavenly archetype of the lotus that blooms for ever in the Light above. The self-chosen field of these psychologists is besides poor and dark and limited; you must know the whole before you can know the part and the highest before you can truly understand the lowest. That is the province of the greater psychology awaiting its hour before which these poor gropings will disappear and come to nothing.

If Aruna’s voice is good, all the more reason why she should develop her potentialities first and not spoil them by a premature performance. The consciousness is too unripe at this age and she must not be pushed in front.


April 10, 1932

The “Balagopal” is very beautiful; you have done even better on the “Lullaby”.

By the way, this is not the first work the Mother has directly given you, but the second. You have already been appointed Head of the Board of Musical Examiners to the Ashram and now you have an infant class in French with your “youthful” grand-uncle as the sole but venerable infant in the class!

P.S. I had forgotten to return the Rumanian article in which there seem to be fearful and wonderful but unintelligible statements about myself and Buddha and “Krishnamurti” – what a collocation!


April 27, 1932

You have certainly done something like a miracle. It hardly seemed to me possible that the Sanskrit metre in its exactitude could be reproduced in Bengali. I thought it could only be by the fiction of the mora = guru [long vowel], which may be all right in Bengali itself but does not produce the same modulation as in Sanskrit. And it is a beautiful poem too, not colourless and poetically wooden like Satyen Dutt’s lines. As for the inner rhythm it is surely the Mandakranta rhythm,– more lyrical, less elegiac than the movement of the Meghaduta, but still the same. Your statement of true distinction – in the spirit of the movement as opposed to its body or rather an immobile clay figure representing the mobile body, for that is what Satyen Dutt’s reproduction comes to,– is, I believe, quite accurate.


April 29, 1932

I suppose I ought to have written moras, if that is the proper plural of mora – I meant to refer to the general principle by which the indubitable quantitative long syllable of classic metres is represented by a constructive length – not always of two heard short sounds equivalent to one long, for sometimes it is one short syllable with a pause after it, sometimes two, and even in some languages in certain conditions three very short syllables can be treated as equivalent to one long.

Harin’s poems sent by you are really very beautiful. In the first verse he seems to be seeking his inspiration and not yet to have quite found it, but the rest is admirable. These are among the best things he has written.

I cannot speak with the same unqualified praise about his translation of your “Descent of Krishna.” It is no doubt very well done, but one feels that it is “done.” There is language, there is rhythm, there are fine lines, e.g.

“Let laughter bear the dusk of centuries,”

but, unlike his original poetry, it has not been felt or has not sprung spontaneously out of himself as a result of a full transfer of the bhāva [mood, feeling] of the original poem into his own consciousness. That is where your translations excel. I am balancing about your new metre. It is very well-done and successful and the music is beautiful and unexceptionable. But can you carry on this triple rhyme for many verses without forcing the lilt? I say that because in the fourth verse there seems to me to be some suspicion of this forcing, and yet the fourth verse is indispensable, for otherwise the poem does not come to an end, it hangs suspended. But perhaps this impression is due to the repetition of the la sound in the rhymes in two successive verses tutla [broken] series, kātla [severed] series, and it may wear off after another reading with a fresh ear.

P.S. I really don’t think the mātrā-vṛtta principle stands in the natural rhyme of this metre, even though it is a possible recension [?] of it. Your objection to the double trick stands in spite of your own performance of the feat.

Harin’s translation of your poem is good but not good enough for the original.


May 1932 (?)

The two sonnets are very good – especially the first is perfection as a sonnet in the rounded unity of its thought-construction and development. As to the moral, there is no moral; but a sonnet is either a thought-sequence or a sight-sequence or both and it always mounts or should mount to a strong conclusion expressing the result or finale of all that has gone before. But that cannot be called drawing a moral.

Yes, it is a profound truth that you have expressed here – the supreme difficulty which stands in the way of the vital in human nature opening to its own longed-for privilege of full joy and force and Ananda.

Harin’s poetry, I find, is always beautiful and striking in its images, but sometimes ... [incomplete].


May 5, 1932

Why on earth allow yourself to be carried away by self-torturing imaginations? You ought to know by past experience that I am not likely to be “fed up with you” or give you up even in your most unreasonable fits. I told you I had to revise my letter and get it typed. I have had in fact to rewrite parts of it and add here and there – and all that takes time. I shall finish it tonight and you will get it in the course of tomorrow.

Your letter to me showed that you had passed into an entire misunderstanding of what the Mother said to you. I say “passed” because at the time you showed that you understood her perfectly well. But you must have gone home and brooded in the old way until the light got clouded and you began to infer this and imagine that until you have accumulated the clouds around your head. The Mother never said that you were receiving nothing or that she could not work in you; she said just the opposite, that the force was working and that you had always been receptive. It was the reason for your being unconscious of the working that she was trying to explain to you and at the same time precisely to give you the “key” you were asking for. I am trying in my letter to put the whole thing in its right light so that you may know what to do and be able to do it. If the letter is not sufficient, we will try again and again till you have got the trick and are able to turn the key in the door. I absolutely refuse to accept your plea of inability or admit any ground for outcry and despair. You have got to root out this self-discouraging attitude from your vital and to succeed.


May 5, 1932

You have been allowing yourself to get upset and depressed again and, as usual, this unhelpful condition has clouded your mind and under its influence it has been twisting things, getting them all awry and taking them by the wrong end altogether. The Mother protests against the affirmations you put into her mouth in your letter to me and I must first clear up this tangle.

The Mother did not say that whenever you meditated with her she had felt this stiffness in you, this closeness (closedness?) and she could not work. On the contrary, last time she told you you had made a great progress in receptivity which meant that you had been receptive all along and were now much more so. This time also she remembers to have told you that in meditating with you she had always found the force there and found you receptive. It would therefore be quite contrary to the truth to say that she could not work because of non-receptivity in you and she did not say that at all. On the contrary, she said the force had always been at work even when you were not conscious of it and had had its results, and you yourself admitted that it was so and that you had felt the results afterwards, even though not aware of the working at the time.

It is also quite unwarranted to say that you have been going in the wrong direction for three and a half years – going west when you thought you were going east. The Mother said nothing of the kind. You were not going in the wrong direction; there was nothing wrong in praying or in calling on the Mother or concentrating within, there is nothing wrong in meditating with ardour – provided it is a confident and happy ardour. You were going towards the east all right, but what the Mother said amounted to this that you were going along as if with a chain on your ankles and the chain was a certain tension and stiffness in your endeavour. This was what she found to have been wrong in your way of meditation. Therefore there is no need to lament that you have been going in the wrong direction all the time – for that is not the case; what is needed is to profit by the discovery and get rid of the impediment. The Mother did not merely point out the impediment, she showed you very expressly how to get rid of it and at that time you understood her, though now (at the time of writing your letter to me) the light which you saw seems to have got clouded by your indulging your vital more and more in the bitter pastime of sadness. That was quite natural, for that is the result sadness always does bring. It is the reason why I object to the gospel of sorrow and to any sadhana which makes sorrow one of its main planks (abhimāna [hurt love], revolt, viraha [separation]). For sorrow is not, as Spinoza pointed out, a passage to a greater perfection, a way to siddhi; it cannot be, for it confuses and weakens and distracts the mind, depresses the vital force, darkens the spirit. A relapse from joy and vital elasticity and Ananda to sorrow, self-distrust, despondency and weakness is a recoil from a greater to a lesser consciousness,– the habit of these moods shows a clinging of something in the vital to the smaller, obscurer, dark and distressed movement out of which it is the very aim of Yoga to rise.

It is, therefore, quite incorrect to say that the Mother took away the wrong key with which you were trying to open the faery palace and left you with none at all. For she not only showed you the true key but gave it to you. It was not a mere vague exhortation to cheerfulness she gave you, but she described exactly the condition in the right kind of meditation – a state of inner rest, not of straining, of quiet opening, not of eager or desperate pulling, a harmonious giving of oneself to the Divine Force for its working, and in that a sense of a force working and a restful confidence and allowing it to work without any unquiet interference. And she asked you if you had not experienced that condition and you said you had and you knew it very well. Now that condition is the psychic opening and, if you have had it, you know what the psychic opening is – of course there is much more that afterwards comes but this is the fundamental condition in which it can most easily come. What you should have done was to keep the key the Mother gave you present in your consciousness and apply it – not to go back and allow sadness and the repining view of the past to grow upon you. In this condition, which we call the right or psychic attitude, there may be call, prayer, aspiration; intensity, concentration will come of themselves, not by a hard effort or tense strain on the nature. Rejection of wrong movements, frank confession of defects are not only not incompatible, but helpful to it; but this attitude makes the rejection, the confession easy, spontaneous, entirely complete and sincere and effective. That is the experience of all who have consented to take this attitude.

Now as to the tension and stiffness, the Mother saw it this time in your meditation with her, because she had to look for the impediment. You told her that in meditating with her you never felt conscious of anything – and yet it ought not to be so since your receptivity was beyond doubt and you yourself say that you have always found the personal contact helpful. I may say in passing that consciousness and receptivity are not the same thing; one may be receptive, yet externally unaware of how things are being done and of what is being done. But for such an external consciousness there must be a reason, and she looked in the meditation with you and saw (not with the mind but by concrete experience) that it was this stiffness created by a tension and straining which made the consciousness rigid and closed it up. She did not mean that it closed you to the force or that it took away the inner receptivity, but that it closed you to the surface of what is being done. When that happens, the Force works, as I have repeatedly written, behind the veil; the results remain packed behind and come out afterwards, often slowly, little by little, until there is so much pressure that it breaks through somehow and forces open the external nature. There is the difference between a mental and a vital straining and pulling and a spontaneous psychic openness, and it is not at all the first time that we have spoken of the difference. The Mother and myself have written and spoken of it times without number and we have deprecated pulling121 and straining and advocated the attitude of psychic openness. It is not really a question of the right or the wrong key, but of putting the key in the lock in the right or the wrong way,– whether, because of some difficulty, you try to force the lock turning the key this way and that with violence or confidently and quietly give it the right turn and the door opens.

It is not that the pulling and straining and tension can do nothing; in the end they prevail for some result or another, but with difficulty, delay, struggle, strong upheavals of the Force breaking through in spite of all. Ramakrishna himself began by pulling and straining and got his result, but at the cost of a tremendous and perilous upsetting; afterwards he took the quiet psychic way whenever he wanted a result and got it with ease and in a minimum time. You say that this way is too difficult for you or the likes of you and it is only “avatars” like myself or the Mother that can do it. That is a strange misconception, for it is on the contrary the easiest and simplest and most direct way and anyone can do it, if he makes his mind and vital quiet; even those who have a tenth of your capacity can do it. It is the other way of tension and strain and hard endeavour that is difficult and needs a great force of Tapasya. As for the Mother and myself, we have had to try all ways, follow all methods, to surmount mountains of difficulties, a far heavier burden to bear than you or anybody else in the Ashram or outside, far more difficult conditions, battles to fight, wounds to endure, ways to cleave through impenetrable morass and desert and forest, hostile masses to conquer – a work such as I am certain none else had to do before us. For the Leader of the Way in a work like ours has not only to bring down and represent or embody the Divine, but to represent too the ascending element in humanity and to bear the burden of humanity to the full and experience not in a mere play or lila but in grim earnest all the obstruction, difficulty, opposition, baffled and hampered and only slowly victorious labour which are possible on the Path. But it is not necessary nor tolerable that all that should be repeated over again to the full in the experience of others. It is because we have the complete experience that we can show a straighter and easier road to others – if they will only consent to take it. It is because of our experience won at a tremendous price that we can urge upon you and others, “Take the psychic attitude; follow the straight sunlit path, with the Divine openly or secretly upbearing you – if secretly, he will yet show himself in good time,– do not insist on the hard, hampered, roundabout and difficult journey.”

You say that you were never pointed out all this before. But it is what we have been saying in season and out of season to everybody for a long time past! But you were not inclined to regard it as feasible or at least not ready to apply it in the field of meditation, because your consciousness by tradition, owing to past lives and for other reasons, was clinging to former contrary conceptions. Something in you was harking back to the Vaishnava sadhana, and that tended to bring in it its pain-giving feeling elements of abhimāna, revolt, suffering, the Divine hiding himself (“always I seek but never does he show himself”), the rarity of the unfolding and the milana [union]. Something else in you was inclined to see as the only alternative some harsh, grim, ascetic ideal, the blank featureless Brahman and imagined that the supramental was that; something in the vital looked on the conquest of wrong movements as a hard desperate tapasya, not as a passage into the purity and joy of the Divine; even now something in you seems to insist on regarding the psychic attitude as something extraordinary, difficult, unhuman and impossible! There were these and other lingerings122 of the mind and the vital; you have to clear them out and look at the simplicity of the Truth with a straight and simple gaze. It is not that there is anything peculiar to you in these difficulties; every sadhak entering the Way has to get over similar impediments. It took me four years of inner striving to find a real Way, even though the Divine help was with me all the time, and even then it seemed to come by an accident; and it took me ten more years of intense Yoga under a supreme inner guidance to find the Way and that was because I had my past and the world’s past to assimilate and overpass before I could find and found the future.

But for you the remedy we propose, the key we offer to you ought not to be so difficult to apply as you imagine. After all, it is only applying in “meditation” the way that has been so successful with you in your music and poetry. There is a way of producing poetry by strain and tension, by breaking of the brain, by hard and painful labour – often the passage clogged and nothing coming or else coming only in return for a sort of intellectual tapasya. There is the other way in which one remains quiet and opens oneself to a power that is there behind and waits for inspiration; the force pours in and with it the inspiration, the illumination, the Ananda,– all is done by an inner Power. The flood passes, but one remains quiet for the next flood and at its time surely it comes. Here too all is not perfect at once, but progress comes by ever new waves of the same Power. It is the same method that the Mother proposed to you for your meditation – if meditation it must be called – not a strain of mental activity, but a restful opening to the Force that is there all the time above and around you, so that it may flow freely and do its work in peace and illumination and Ananda. The way has been shown to you, you yourself have had from time to time the true condition; only you must learn how to continue in it or recover it and you must allow the Force to do its work in its own way. It may take some time to take entire hold of it, get the other habit out and make this normal; but you must not start by deciding that it is impossible! It is eminently possible and it is that which everyone will have to do sooner or later; for this is the door of the definitive entrance. The difficulty, the struggle were only for the period of preparation necessary to get rid of or to exhaust the obstruction in the consciousness which was a thorn-hedge round the faery palace.


May 1932

I think you have made too much play with my phrase “an accident”, ignoring the important qualification, “it seemed to come by an accident.” After four years of pranayama and other practices on my own, with no other result than an increased health and outflow of energy, some psycho-physical phenomena, a great outflow of poetic creation, a limited power of subtle sight (luminous patterns and figures, etc.) mostly with the waking eye, I had a complete arrest and was at a loss. At this juncture I was induced to meet a man without fame whom I did not know, a bhakta with a limited mind but with some experience and evocative power. We sat together and I followed with an absolute fidelity what he instructed me to do, not myself in the least understanding where he was leading me or where I was myself going. The first result was a series of tremendously powerful experiences and radical changes of consciousness which he had never intended – for they were Adwaitic and Vedantic and he was against Adwaita Vedanta – and which were quite contrary to my own ideas, for they made me see with a stupendous intensity the world as a cinematographic play of vacant forms in the impersonal universality of the Absolute Brahman. The final upshot was that he was made by a Voice within him to hand me over to the Divine within me enjoining an absolute surrender to its will – a principle or rather a seed-force to which I kept unswervingly and increasingly till it led me through all the mazes of an incalculable Yogic development bound by no single rule or style or dogma or Shastra to where and what I am now and towards what shall be hereafter. Yet he understood so little what he was doing that when he met me a month or two later, he was alarmed, tried to undo what he had done and told me that it was not the Divine but the devil that had got hold of me. Does not all that justify my phrase “it seemed to come by an accident?” But my meaning is that the ways of the Divine are not like those of the human mind or according to our patterns and it is impossible to judge them or to lay down for Him what He shall or shall not do, for the Divine knows better than we do. If we admit the Divine at all, both true reason and bhakti seem to me to be at one in demanding implicit faith and surrender. I do not see how without them there can be avyabhichāriṇī bhakti [one-pointed adoration].


May 8, 1932

I am afraid in this question about the cinema you are putting to me something which I am unable to answer. It is not a question of willingness or unwillingness, but the thing itself is quite outside the province in which I can make or give decisions. On all matters concerning the sadhana or life in the sadhana I can or may recommend or say Yes or No,– your poetry or your music I regard as part of the sadhana, part of your own and the collective Yoga life, but Charlie Chaplin and the City Lights are so outside it that I am unable to say anything about it whatever.

I find it rather surprising that you should regard what the Mother said to you or what I wrote as a recommendation to relax aspiration or postpone the idea of any kind of siddhi till the Greek Kalends! It was not so intended in the least nor do I think either of us said or wrote anything which could justly bear such an interpretation. I said expressly that in the way of meditating of which we spoke, aspiration, prayer, concentration, intensity were a natural part of it; the way was put before you because our experience has been that those who take it go quicker and develop their sadhana, once they get fixed in it, much more easily as well as smoothly than by a distressed, doubtful and anxious straining with revulsions of despondency and turning away from hope and endeavour. We spoke of a steady opening to the Divine with a flow of the force doing its work in the ādhār [vessel], a poised opening with a quiet mind and heart full of trust and the sunlight of confidence; where do you find that we said a helpless waiting must be your programme?

As for light-heartedness and insouciance, the Mother never spoke of insouciance – a light don’t care attitude is the last thing she would recommend to anybody. She spoke of cheerfulness, and if she used the word light-hearted, it was not in the sense of anything lightly or frivolously gay and careless – although a deeper and finer gaiety can have its place as one element of the yogic character. What she meant was a glad equanimity even in the face of difficulties and there is nothing in that contrary to yogic teaching or to her own practice. The vital nature on the surface (the depths of the true vital are different) is attached on the one side to a superficial mirth and enjoyment, on the other to sorrow and despair and gloom and tragedy,– for these are for it the cherished lights and shades of life; but a bright or wide and free peace or an ānandamaya intensity or, best, a fusing of both in one is the true poise of both the soul and the mind – and of the true vital also – in Yoga. It is perfectly possible for a quite human sadhak to get to such a poise, it is not necessary to be divine before one can attain it. All this is nothing new and original; I have been saying it ever since I began speaking at all about Yoga and I cannot see anything in it resembling a gospel of helpless waiting or of careless insouciance or anything contrary to our own practice. I do not think that we have either of us become relentlessly grim and solemn or lacking in humour or that the Mother has lost her smile! I am afraid you are looking at her and things as through a glass darkly and seeing them in too sombre colours. As for instance what you say about the music – she came up straight to me from it and spoke at once about your music and the presence of Krishna there and she was in a very different mood from what you describe.

I have read your123 poem; it is very beautiful, but also too sombre in colour. Do throw off this mood and become yourself once more!


May 10, 1932

Your credo cannot be a reason for your not remaining here.

There are very few among the sadhaks here who at all concern themselves with the Supermind or know anything about it except as something which the Mother and I will bring down some day and establish here. Most are seeking realisation through meditation, through love and worship or through activity and work. Meditation and silence are not necessary for everyone; there are some, even among those spoken of by you and others as the most advanced sadhaks who do their sadhana not through meditation, for which they have no turn, but through activity, work or creation supported or founded on love and bhakti. It is not the credo but the person who matters. We impose no credo; it is sufficient if there is an established and heartfelt relation between ourselves and the disciple.

If it is the way of ahaitukī bhakti [motiveless devotion] that you count to follow, that can be no obstacle; for there can be none better. For in that way everything can be made a means – poetry and music for instance become not merely poetry and music and not merely even an expression of bhakti, but themselves a means of bringing the experience of love and bhakti. Meditation itself becomes not an effort of mental concentration, but a flow of love and adoration and worship. If simply and sincerely followed, the way of ahaitukī bhakti can lead as far as any other.

On our side, therefore, there cannot be on this ground any incompatibility or any reason why you should not be here. But on yours you must remember that this is for the Mother and myself a tense and difficult period in which we cannot expand our energies as we would wish to do – for the natural tendency of the Mother was always to throw out her energies largely in every way by means externally vital and physical as well as inward, psychic and spiritual and to multiply rather than reduce contacts. If we have been obliged to do otherwise for a time, it was not from preference. It will not do therefore to get impatient with us because of this difficult period or to misunderstand the concentrated pressure towards a new basis for expansion which it imposes on us. For that impatience can alone create a stumbling-block – not on our side, but on yours.

For on our side there can be none. Your credo can make no difference to the true basis of our relationship which is something personal and living.


May 10, 1932

It is quite impossible for me to dismiss you or to consent to your going away like this from us. If the idea of this kind of separation is possible to you, for us it is inconceivable that our close relation should end like this. I had thought that the love and affection the Mother and I bear to you had been made evident by us. But if you say that you cannot believe in it or cannot accept it with the limitations on its outward manifestation that not our choice but inexorable necessity imposes on us for a time, I do not know how to convince you. I could not believe that you could really find it in your heart to go or take such a step when it came to the point. As it is, I can only appeal to you not to allow yourself to be swept away by this attack, to remain faithful even in suffering to your soul that brought you here and to believe in our love that can never waver.


May 31, 1932

This question of quantity is one in which I find it difficult to arrive at a conclusion. You can prove that it can be done and has been successfully done in Bengali, and you can prove and have proved it yourself over again by writing these poems and bringing in the rhythm, the kallol [great joy or delight], which is absent in Satyen Dutta. It is quite true also that stylisation is permissible and a recognised form of art – I mean professed and overt stylisation and not that which hides itself under a contrary profession of naturalness or faithful following of external nature. The only question is how much of it Bengali poetry can bear. I do not think the distinction between song and poem goes at all to the root of the matter. The question is whether it is possible to have ease of movement in this kind of quantitative metre. For a few lines it can be very beautiful or for a short poem or a song – that much cannot be doubted. But can it be made a spontaneous movement of Bengali poetry like the ordinary mātrāvṛttas or the others, in which one can walk or run at will without looking at one’s steps to see that one does not stumble and without concentrating the reader’s mind too much on the technique so that his attention is diverted from the sense and bhāva? If you can achieve some large and free structure in which quantity takes a recognised place as part of the foundation,– it need not be reproduction of a Sanskrit metre,– that would solve the problem in the affirmative.


May 31, 1932

Yes, this poem [“Bahurupi”] seems to me to be a very victorious acclimatisation of the principle of quantity (true quantity) in a free and large and flowing movement, a beautiful and natural and plastic rhythm and no suggestion of difficulty or carefully picked steps anywhere. It is an entire success.


May 1932 (?)

I am, as you know quite in agreement with you as regards the principle. At the same time there is a greater difficulty in Bengali than in Hindi and Gujarati. For in these languages the stylisation is a long-accepted fact and the ear of the writer and reader are trained to appreciate it, but in Bengali the trend has been on the contrary to more and more naturalism in metre and such stylisation as there was was not quantitative. Now the writer has the double difficulty of finding out how to stylise successfully in detail and of getting the ear of the public to train itself also. That is no reason ... [incomplete].


June 1932 (?)

The last sonnet is improved by the changes....

I have as yet only had time to glance through your poem, but it seems to me one of the most beautiful you have written.

I don’t think I was ill-pleased with Anilbaran’s article on Tagore as a poet of suffering – though that is not perhaps the whole of Tagore. But the poet is sensitive to criticism and he took Anilbaran’s stricture on this part of his poetry rather ill, a controversy threatened that was likely to be a little acrimonious – especially as I think he was hurt by the criticism coming from here. That is why I asked Anilbaran not to reply to Tagore’s retort – thinking it more important to preserve kindliness of feeling between him and us than to stress a point that was already sufficiently clear. There was a great necessity for Bengali poetry finding an escape out of the Tagorean atmosphere – that I had always felt – but that was already coming. I agree with... [incomplete].


June 2, 1932

[...] I can’t agree with your statement about Sanskrit ā, e, o, that they are long by stylisation only! In fact, I don’t quite understand what this can mean, for in Sanskrit ā at least is the corresponding long to the short vowel a and is naturally as long as the devil – and the other two are in fact no better. The difference between e and ai and o and au is the difference between long and ultra-long, not between short and long. Take for instance the Sanskrit phrase yena tena prakāreṇa [done in slapdash manner]; I can’t for the life of me see how anyone can say that the ye, te, re or the there are naturally short to the ear, but long by stylisation. The classical languages (Sanskrit, Greek, Latin) are perfectly logical, coherent and consistent in the matter of quantity: they have to be because quantity was the very life of their rhythm and they could not treat longs as shorts and shorts as longs as it is done, at every step, in English. Modern languages can do that because their rhythm rests on intonation and stress, quantity is only a subordinate element, a luxury, not the very basis of the rhythmic structure. In English you can write “the old road runs” pretending that “road” is short and “runs” is long, or “a great hate” – where the sound corresponding to Sanskrit e (great hate) or that corresponding to Sanskrit o (old road) is made short or long at pleasure; but to the Sanskrit, Greek or Latin ear it would have sounded like a defiance of the laws of Nature. Bengali is a modern language, so there this kind of stylisation is possible, for there e can be long, short or doubtful.

All this, not to write more about stylisation, but only as a protest against foreign modern ideas of language sound on an ancient language. Bengali can go on its way very freely, without that, Sanskritising when it likes, refusing to Sanskritise when it doesn’t like.


June 9, 1932

I can only say that whether by tapasya or surrender does not matter, the one thing is to be firm in setting one’s force to the goal. Once one has set one’s feet on the way, how can one draw back from it to something inferior? If one keeps firm, falls do not matter; one rises up again and goes forward. If one is firm towards the goal, there can be on the way to the Divine no eventual failure. And if there is something within you that drives, as surely there is, falterings or falls or failure of faith make no eventual difference. One has to go on till the struggle is over and there is the straight and open and thornless way before us.


June 10, 1932

I don’t think you need fear that my patience will be exhausted – for it is founded upon something else that is inexhaustible.

Of course the Mother was right; she always is when she sees things, though people take a long time sometimes to recognise it. But what has been put into the vital receptacle by life can be got out by reversing it, turning it towards the Divine and not towards yourself. You will then find that the vital is an excellent instrument as it is a bad master.


June 10, 1932

I fully agree with Anilbaran’s estimate of your poem, but I do not quite see the necessity of making it an exact replica of the Mayavada [illusionist] philosophy according to Shankara. It is the bhāva of the Maya conception of the universe and the thought and vision supported by the bhāva that you are expressing, not the set metaphysical concepts of the Adwaita.

Of course if you set out to poetise Shankara, there is much in the poem that would have to be barred out. Priya [beloved] and nāth [lord] would not do. On the other hand antaryāmi [inner guide] and prabhu [master] could remain; Shankara himself would not have avoided these two words, I believe. Not love exactly, but bhakti is permissible even for the Mayavadi at a certain stage before he has become too impersonal, too identified with the Paramātma [the Supreme Soul] for any duality to exist just as till then a restricted karma is also admissible. It is allowed as a means of turning away from the world to the Supreme. The Ishwara [the Lord] is there as a projection of the Brahman into Maya and as such you can use him as a bridge to cross from the darkness into the Light. At least that, I think, is the doctrine, though perhaps an extreme and very aggressive Mayavadi might object to it as too lenient a compromise.

As for the considerable touches of my “philosophy” which have got in there, I don’t think they affect the main strand of the poem which is expressive of the illusory character of this world and not of the entire negative absoluteness of the Absolute. But they do colour the conception of the Divine in the poem and make it other than the bare and quite featureless Parabrahman of Shankara.

I think you are right in your plea that you are expressing the view and feeling of an aspirant to Nirvana, not one who is already “extinguished” but one who is turning away from the world to the Beyond. There is another thing to be said that the Maya concept is not the exclusive property of the Shankara credo and elsewhere it has a more emotional and religious form than it has there, not so sternly intellectual and severe.

I have not yet had time to compare your new Vaishnav with the old one. I will see tomorrow.


June 14, 1932

It would be a mistake to silence the poetic flow on principle – the creative habit is a tonic to the vital and keeps it in good condition and the practice of sadhana needs a strong and widening vital for its support. There is no real incompatibility between the creative power and silence; for the real silence is something inward and it does not or at least need not cease when a strong activity or expression rises to the surface.

Your Tantrik was too big for me to swallow and digest him in a day, but he is as remarkable as he is big; I don’t know whether he is not the best of the three. I have not yet been able, as I hoped, to make a comparative study of the two Vaishnavs; I shall let you know my opinion when I have done it.

I had always the regret that the line of possibility opened out by Michael [Madhusudhan] was not carried any farther in Bengali poetry; but after all it may turn out that nothing has been lost by the apparent interruption. Magnificent as are the power and swing of his language and rhythm, he was rather empty in substance, and a development in which subtlety, fineness and richness of thought and feeling could learn to find a consummate expression was very much needed. More mastery of colour, form, design was a necessity – and this has now been achieved and added to the ojas [essential energy] can fulfil what Madhusudhan left only half-done. I think these new poems of yours promise to make that fusion, and indeed there is more than the promise. It is good that your poetic energy has turned in that direction.


June 16, 1932

I have not read anything of Lawrence, but I have recently seen indications about him from many quarters; the impression given was that of a man of gifts who failed for want of vital balance – like so many others. The prose you have turned into verse – very well, as usual – has certainly quality, though there is not enough to form a definite judgment. A seeker who missed the issue, I should imagine – misled by the vitalistic stress to which the mind of today is a very harassed captive.

I have read your correspondence with Subhash Bose124. Your main point is of course quite the right thing to answer; all this insistence upon action is absurd if one has not the light by which to act. “Yoga must include life and not exclude it” does not mean that we are bound to accept life as it is with all its stumbling ignorance and misery and the obscure confusion of human will and reason and impulse and instinct which it expresses. The advocates of action think that by human intellect and energy making an always new rush, everything can be put right; the present state of the world after a development of the intellect and a stupendous output of energy for which there is no historical parallel is a signal proof of the emptiness of the illusion under which they labour. Yoga takes the stand that it is only by a change of consciousness that the true basis of life can be discovered; from within outward is indeed the rule. But within does not mean some quarter inch behind the surface. One must go deep and find the soul, the self, the Divine Reality within us and only then can life become a true expression of what we can be instead of a blind and always repeated confused blur of the inadequate and imperfect thing we were. The choice is between remaining in the old jumble and groping about in the hope of stumbling on some discovery or standing back and seeking the Light within till we discover and can build the Godhead within and without us.


June 24, 1932

I am sending you the translation of your poems; they were a little difficult, because of the compactness of the expression in the original, to get into an acceptable English form – that was why it took me some time. But I had not neglected either it or you, only I could not finish the second before last night; you have not been out of my thoughts at any time, nor am I growing cold to you. You should have more confidence in me after so long an experience than to imagine anything so incredible and impossible.

Of course you are not going tonight nor any night. You are going to remain and fight out this over-sensitiveness of yours and get a true balance of the vital nature. That is what you have pledged yourself to and you will keep your soul’s pledge. The obstacle is not so great as it looks to you when you are in these fits of depression; but even if it were, you can and will overcome it.

In fact this sensitiveness in itself is nothing; it is the depression, the exaggerated importance you give to it, the train of despondent suggestions you allow to come and overpower you that makes the whole difficulty. If you could resist that and refuse to entertain it, these defects of your vital are small things, little difficulties that cannot in themselves be a serious obstacle to your progress. If you would only so learn to regard them and not be overimpressed by them, it would make the path so much easier and smoother!


June 24, 1932

The exacerbation of certain vital movements is a perfectly well-known phenomenon in Yoga and does not mean that one has degenerated, but only that one has come to close grips instead of to a pleasant nodding acquaintance with the basic instincts of the earthly vital nature. I have had myself the experience of this rising to a height, during a certain stage of the spiritual development, of things that before hardly existed and seemed quite absent in the pure yogic life. These things rise up like that because they are fighting for their existence – they are not really personal to you and the vehemence of their attack is not due to any “badness” in the personal nature. I dare say seven sadhaks out often have a similar experience. Afterwards when they cannot effect their object which is to drive the sadhak out of his sadhana, the whole thing sinks and there is no longer any vehement trouble. I repeat that the only serious thing about it is the depression created in you and the idea of inability in the Yoga that they take care to impress on the brain when they are at their work. If you can get rid of that, the violence of the vital attacks is only the phenomenon of a stage and does not in the end matter.


June 25, 1932

One is not to cure oneself of one’s sensitiveness, but only acquire the power to rise to a higher consciousness taking such disenchantments as a sort of jumping-board. One way is not to expect even square dealing from others no matter who the others are. In your case you might have expected such denials from your “famous” uncle. So why on earth do you cherish a hurt? Surely you should have known better than to expect straight dealings from your Toku Mama! And besides, it is good to have such experiences of the real nature of some people to which a generous nature is often blind; for that helps the growth of one’s consciousness. The blow you wince at seems to you so hard because it is a blow the world of your mental formation has sustained. Such a world often becomes a part of our being. The result is that a blow dealt to it gives almost physical pain. The great compensation is that it makes you live more and more in the real world in contradistinction to the world of your imagination which is what you would like the real world to be. But the real world is not all that could be desired, you know, and that is why it has to be acted upon and transformed by the Divine Consciousness. But for that, knowledge of the reality, however unpalatable, is almost the first requisite. This knowledge often enough is best brought home to us through blows and bleedings. True, idealistic people, sensitive people, refined natures smart under such disillusionments more than do others who are somewhat thick-skinned, but that is no reason why fine feelings should be deprecated and the keen edge of fine susceptibilities be blunted. The thing is to learn to detach oneself from any such experience and learn to look at such perversions of others from a higher altitude from where one can regard these manifestations in the proper perspective – the impersonal one. Then our difficulties really and literally become opportunities. For knowledge, when it goes to the root of our troubles, has in itself a marvellous healing-power as it were. As soon as you touch the quick of the trouble, as soon as you, diving down and down, get at what really ails you, the pain disappears as though by a miracle. Unflinching courage to reach true Knowledge is therefore of the very essence of Yoga. No lasting superstructure can be erected except on a solid basis of true Knowledge. The feet must be sure of their ground before the head can hope to kiss the skies.


June 25, 1932

There is much in your letter that would need long explanation for an adequate reply – but I want to say something about the faith which you say you don’t have and can’t have in the absence of experience. First of all, faith does not depend upon experience; it is something that is there before experience. When one starts the Yoga, it is not usually on the strength of experience, but on the strength of faith. It is so not only in Yoga and the spiritual life, but in ordinary life also. All men of action, discoverers, inventors, creators of knowledge proceed by faith and, until the proof is made or the thing done, they go on in spite of disappointment, failure, disproof, denial, because of something in them that tells them that this is the truth, the thing that must be followed and done. Ramakrishna even went so far as to say, when asked whether blind faith was not wrong, that blind faith was the only kind to have, for faith is either blind or it is not faith but something else – reasoned inference, proved conviction or ascertained knowledge.

Faith is the soul’s witness to something not yet manifested, achieved or realised, but which yet the Knower within us, even in the absence of all indications, feels to be true or supremely worth following or achieving. This thing within us can last even when there is no fixed belief in the mind, even when the vital struggles and revolts and refuses. Who is there that practises the Yoga and has not his periods, long periods of disappointment and failure and disbelief and darkness – but there is something that sustains him and even goes on in spite of himself, because it feels that what it followed after was yet true and it more than feels, it knows. The fundamental faith in Yoga is this, inherent in the soul, that the Divine exists and the Divine is the one thing to be followed after – nothing else in life is worth having in comparison with that. It was this faith growing in you that made you come for Yoga and this faith has not died or diminished – to judge from what you say in your letter, it has become more insistent and abiding. So long as a man has that, he is marked for the spiritual life and I will say that, even if his nature is full of obstacles and crammed with denials and difficulties, and even if he has many years of struggle, he is marked out for success in the spiritual life.

What you really have not yet a fixed faith in is the guidance of the Divine, his will to manifest to you or your capacity to receive him. It is this that the adverse attacks which began when you were on the threshold of the inner experience – as so often happens in the Yoga,– try constantly to fix in your brain. They want to have a fixed mental formation there, so that whenever you make the attempt there will be in the physical mind an expectation of difficulty, a dwelling on the idea of difficulty and unsuccess and incapacity, if not always in the front of the mind, yet at the back and by that they hope to prevent the experience from coming. It is these mental formations that you must reject, for they are a much greater obstacle than the vital feelings to which you give such an exaggerated importance. It is not a fact that you have not had experiences – you had them but you did not give them their full value, because you were expecting something else. Otherwise the sense of the Divine Guidance and the faith in attainment would have formed in spite of difficulties and relapses such as every one has in the Yoga. It is this faith that you need to develop,– a faith which is in accordance with reason and common sense – that if the Divine exists and has called you to the Path, as is evident, then there must be a Divine Guidance behind and that through and in spite of all difficulties you will arrive. Not to listen to the hostile voices that suggest failure or to the voices of impatient vital haste that echo them, not to believe that because great difficulties are there, there can be no success or that because the Divine has not yet shown himself, he will never show himself, but to take the position that everyone takes when he fixes his mind on a great and difficult goal, “I will go on till I succeed and I will succeed – all difficulties notwithstanding.” To which the believer in the Divine adds “The Divine exists, he is there, and since he exists, my following after the Divine cannot fail. I will go on through everything till I find him.”


July 1932 (?)

I return the photograph of the Hungarian lady; there is evidently something in her which she can develop into a capacity for Yoga. The meaning of her dream is evident and her experience about the star is a common initial experience in Yoga. The star is always a promise of the Light to come; the star changes into a sun when there is the descent of the Light. It is not possible to fix the actual value of these signs for the future; they indicate a turn or a possibility, but everything depends on herself and the future orientation she gives to her being.

Do not allow yourself to admit any movement of vital depression, still less a depressed condition. There can be no good reason for it, since the Mother found in the meditation with you an immensely increased receptivity and a free and unhampered descent of herself into you. As for... [incomplete].


July 1932

(Commenting on a Bengali translation of Sri Aurobindo’s poem, “God”)

Why niyama? “rule” does not mean that here. It is the master of those who govern. Some word conveying the idea of power would be more in place.

The translation of the second verse seems to me to take away the force and idea-substance of the original and to substitute a sentimental pseudo-Robindrian half-thought without much meaning in it. He who is the greatest of the great, mahato mahī yām, does not disdain to dwell in the clod and the worm, and the vast impartiality shown in this humility is itself the very sign of the greatness of the Divine,– that was the idea behind this verse. Does your rendering convey it?

As to Nixon, the matter is of no great importance. But if a mistake of the kind was made either by Nixon or by the Gujerati, it must have been because something of the “old (musical) Adam” got through subconsciously into your letter. Every artist almost (there are rare exceptions) has got something of the “public” man in him, in his vital-physical parts, the need of the stimulus of an audience, social applause, satisfied vanity or fame. That must go absolutely if he wants to be a yogi and his art a service not of man or of his own ego but of the Divine.


July 10, 1932

Yes, you can print the letter. I have gone through the translations and made one slight alteration.

Your solo was truly wonderful. The Mother asks me to say that there was a strong white light and a great power coming down while you sang126 – that was expressed in your singing. The other songs also were very good. It was a very successful day of music.


July 12, 1932

I have made a few alterations in the first page so as to make it represent more precisely what Mother said and I am getting this page retyped by Nolini before returning the whole to you.

The white light is the light of the Divine Consciousness and specially of the Mahashakti. The golden light is closely connected with the Supermind, though of course it is not the only supramental light. Kali’s light in the material is red, but when it comes from the supramental it is golden in hue.


July 14, 1932

I quite agree with you. This new translation of “God” is quite inferior to the first. Improvements often deprave. On the other hand the opening of “Rishi” is very fine. A style at once severe and strong and lofty seems best to suit his genius.

It is rather an innovation to send the “Conversations” to one not interested at all in Yoga; but we can make an exception in this case.


July 18, 1932

I think there can be only one solution of Maya’s affair. It is hardly possible to tell her (just now) to leave everything and come here; that might have been done if she had been alone in question and not drawn back by other considerations. Esha’s presence makes a great difference; for she is very evidently marked out for a higher life, the psychic being in her is already awake even at this early age. Nothing should be done which would either prevent or make difficult the possibilities of her spiritual fulfilment. It seems to us the only thing to be done is for Maya not to break with Shankar, but to insist on coming here for a stay every year with Esha. There ought not to be any difficulty, for she says that Shankar admits the idea of her coming, though he refuses to come himself, and if he finds her determined, he may be glad to accept it as a compromise. There are two possibilities, one is that she should come here every year for three or four months, the other that she should come twice or even thrice, if possible, on the occasion of the anniversaries for a shorter time. A system of more frequent visits would keep up the influence of the atmosphere for her throughout the year and might for that reason be preferable, if it is otherwise possible.

You will get a copy of the Conversations for your friend Ronald Nixon [Krishnaprem]. The case of Jane F. is different. Her photograph does not show any readiness for a spiritual life; she is living entirely in the outward. If she wants to come here, it must surely be because you are here and I don’t think she would have been interested in the life here if it had been someone else than you who had written about it. But you must admit that that is a very poor foundation for taking such a step and not a sufficient reason for one accepting it. If there had been a predisposition in her own way of thinking or feeling or in her character or otherwise, it would have been different,– for where the soul is working from behind, it makes use very often of very slight circumstances to push the mind and vital into the way. But here there is nothing visible. To send the Conversations would be to put a pressure on her which is not advisable in these cases.

Yes, I will write about the Divine and the Supramental. For the moment I need only say that the Divine can be and is everywhere, masked or half-manifest or beginning to be manifest, in all the planes of consciousness; in the Supramental it begins to be manifest without disguise or veil in its own svarūpa [true form].


July 25, 1932

I have started writing about doubt, but even in doing so I am afflicted by the “doubt” whether any amount of writing or of anything else can ever persuade the eternal doubt in man which is the penalty of his native ignorance. In the first place, to write adequately would mean anything from sixty to six hundred pages, but not even six thousand convincing pages would convince Doubt. For Doubt exists for its own sake; its very function is to doubt always and, even when convinced, to go on doubting still; it is only to persuade its entertainer to give it board and lodging that it pretends to be an honest truth-seeker. This is a lesson I have learnt from the experience both of my own mind and of the mind of others; the only way to get rid of doubt is to take Discrimination as one’s detector of truth and falsehood and under its guard to open the door freely and courageously to experience.

All the same I have started writing, but I will begin not with doubt but with the demand for the Divine as a concrete certitude, quite as concrete as any physical phenomenon caught by the senses. Now, certainly, the Divine must be such a certitude not only as concrete but more concrete than anything sensed by ear or eye or touch in the world of Matter; but it is a certitude not of mental thought but of essential experience. When the Peace of God descends on you, when the Divine Presence is there within you, when the Ananda rushes on you like a sea, when you are driven like a leaf before the wind by the breath of the Divine Force, when Love flows out from you on all creation, when Divine Knowledge floods you with a Light which illumines and transforms in a moment all that was before dark, sorrowful and obscure, when all that is becomes part of the One Reality, when it is all around you felt at once by the spiritual contact, by the inner vision, by the illumined and seeing thought, by the vital sensation and even by the very physical sense, when everywhere you see, hear, touch only the Divine, then you can much less doubt it or deny it than you can deny or doubt daylight or air or the sun in heaven – for of these physical things you cannot be sure but they are what your senses represent them to be; but in the concrete experience of the Divine, doubt is impossible.

As to permanence, you cannot expect permanence of the initial spiritual experiences from the beginning – only a few have that and even for them the high intensity is not always there; for most the experience comes and then draws back behind the veil waiting for the human parts to be prepared and made ready to bear and hold, first its increase and then its permanence. But to doubt it on that account would be irrational in the extreme. One does not doubt the existence of air because a strong wind is not always blowing or of sunlight because night intervenes between dawn and dusk. The difficulty lies in the normal human consciousness to which spiritual experience comes as something abnormal and is in fact supernormal. This weak limited normality finds it difficult at first even to get any touch of that greater and intenser supernormal or it gets it diluted into its own duller stuff of mental or vital experience, and, when the spiritual does come in its own overwhelming power, very often it cannot bear or, if it bears, cannot hold and keep it. Still once a decisive breach has been made in the walls built by the mind against the Infinite, the breach widens, sometimes slowly, sometimes swiftly, until there is no wall any longer, and there is the Permanence.

But the decisive experiences cannot be brought, the permanence of a new state of consciousness in which they will be normal cannot be secured if the mind is always interposing its own reservations, prejudgments, ignorant formulas or if it insists on arriving at the Divine certitude as it would at the quite relative truth of a mental conclusion, by reasoning, doubt, enquiry and all the other paraphernalia of Ignorance feeling and fumbling around after Knowledge; these greater things can only be brought by the progressive opening of a consciousness quieted and turned steadily towards spiritual experience. If you ask why the Divine has so disposed it on these highly inconvenient basis, it is a futile question,– for this is nothing else than a psychological necessity imposed by the very nature of things. It is so because these experiences of the Divine are not mental constructions, not vital movements, but essential things, not things merely thought but realities, not mentally felt but felt in our very underlying substance and essence. No doubt, the mind is always there and can intervene; it can and does have its own type of mentalising about the Divine, thoughts, beliefs, emotions, mental reflections of spiritual Truth, even a kind of mental realisation which repeats as well as it can some kind of figure of the higher Truth, and all this is not without value, but it is not concrete, intimate and indubitable. Mind by itself is incapable of ultimate certitude; whatever it believes, it can doubt; whatever it can affirm, it can deny; whatever it gets hold of, it can and does let go. That, if you like, is its freedom, noble right, privilege; it may be all you can say in its praise, but by these methods of mind you cannot hope (outside the reach of physical phenomena and hardly even there) to arrive at anything you can call an ultimate certitude. It is for this compelling reason that mentalising or enquiring about the Divine cannot by its own right bring the Divine. If the consciousness is always busy with small mental movements,– especially accompanied as they usually are, by a host of vital movements, desires, prepossessions and all else that vitiates human thinking, even apart from the native insufficiency of reason,– what room can there be for a new order of knowledge, for fundamental experiences or for those deep and tremendous upsurgings or descents of the Spirit? It is indeed possible for the mind in the midst of its activities to be suddenly taken by surprise, overwhelmed, swept aside while all is flooded with a sudden inrush of spiritual experience. But if afterwards it begins questioning, doubting, theorising, surmising what this might be and whether it is true or not, what else can the spiritual Power do but retire and wait for the bubbles of the mind to cease?

I would ask one simple question of those who would make the intellectual mind the standard and judge of spiritual experience. Is the Divine something less than Mind or is it something greater? Is mental consciousness with its groping enquiry, endless argument, unquenchable doubt, stiff and unplastic logic something superior or even equal to the Divine Consciousness or is it something inferior in its action and status? If it is greater, then there is no reason to seek after the Divine. If it is equal, then spiritual experience is quite superfluous. But if it is inferior, how can it challenge, judge, make the Divine stand as an accused or a witness before its tribunal, summon It to appear as a candidate for admission before a Board of Examiners or pin It like an insect under its examining microscope? Can the vital animal hold up as infallible the standard of its vital instincts, associations and impulses, and judge, interpret and fathom by it the mind of man? It cannot, because man’s mind is a greater power working in a wider, more complex way which the animal vital consciousness cannot follow. Is it so difficult to see similarly that the Divine Consciousness must be something infinitely wider, more complex than the human mind, filled with greater powers and lights, moving in a way which mere Mind cannot judge, interpret or fathom by the standard of its fallible reason and limited mental half-knowledge? The simple fact is there that spirit and mind are not the same thing and that it is the spiritual consciousness into which the yogin has to enter (in all this I am not in the least speaking of the Supermind) if he wants to be in permanent contact or union with the Divine. It is not then a freak of the Divine or a tyranny to insist on the mind recognising its limitations, quieting itself, giving up its demands, and opening and surrendering to a greater Light than it can find on its own obscurer level.

This doesn’t mean that the Mind has no place at all in the spiritual life; but it means that it cannot be even the main instrument, much less the authority to whose judgment all must submit itself, including the Divine. Mind must learn from the greater Consciousness it is approaching and not impose its own standards on it; it has to receive illumination, open to a higher Truth, admit a greater power that doesn’t work according to mental canons, surrender itself and allow its half-light half-darkness to be flooded from above till where it was blind it can see, where it was deaf it can hear, where it was insensible it can feel, and where it was baffled, uncertain, questioning, disappointed it can have joy, fulfilment, certitude and peace.

This is the position on which Yoga stands, a position based upon constant experience since men began to seek after the Divine. If it is not true, then there is no truth in Yoga and no necessity for Yoga. If it is true, then it is on that basis, from the standpoint of the necessity of this greater consciousness that we can see whether Doubt is of any utility for the spiritual life. To believe anything and everything is certainly not demanded of the spiritual seeker; such a promiscuous and imbecile credulity would be not only unintellectual, but in the last degree unspiritual. At every moment of the spiritual life until one has got fully into the higher Light, one has to be on one’s guard and be able to distinguish spiritual truth from pseudo-spiritual imitations of it or substitutes for it set up by the mind and the vital desire. The power to distinguish between truth of the Divine and the lies of the Asura is a cardinal necessity for Yoga. The question is whether that can best be done by the negative and destructive method of doubt, which often kills falsehood but rejects truth too with the same impartial blow, or a more positive, helpful and luminously searching power can be found which is not compelled by its inherent ignorance to meet truth and falsehood alike with the stiletto of doubt and the bludgeon of denial. An indiscriminateness of mental belief is not the teaching of spirituality or of Yoga; the faith of which it speaks is not a crude mental belief but the fidelity of the soul to the guiding light within it, a fidelity which has to remain firm till the light leads it into knowledge.


July 31, 1932

I am glad you have told me what the thoughts are that are passing through your mind; but I am hardly prepared to accept the general facts alleged by you as an abdication or as defeats of the Divine. I am ready to regard them as defeats of Inge and Tagore and Russell and Huxley and Rolland and old-world Islam; but I never expected – outside their special province – any of these people or causes to conquer. As for Biren and Maya,– well, for Biren, I told him practically (it was no doubt a long time ago), that the time had not come for him to come here, and even now according to his own admission in one of his recent letters to the Mother he is still divided and that means that he is not yet ready. It is also clear that Maya is not yet free inwardly from the hold of Shankar – so! It is quite possible for the Divine to have defeats – the Bhagawat Purana even enumerates running away from battle, palāyanamani, as one of the usual incidents in the life of the Avatar; only there is usually a method or at least a meaning in his flight, and what matters is the future and not the difficulties of the present. As for Gandhi, why should you suppose that I am so tender for the faith of the Mahatma? I do not call it faith at all, but a rigid mental belief, and what he terms soul-force is only a strong vital will which has taken a religious turn. That, of course, can have tremendous force for action, but unfortunately Gandhi spoils it by his ambition to be a man of reason, while in fact he has no reason in him at all, never was reasonable at any moment in his life and, I suppose, never will be. What he has in its place is a remarkable type of unintentionally sophistic logic. Well, what this reason, this amazingly precisely unreliable logic brings about is that nobody is even sure and, I don’t think, he is himself really sure what he will do next. He has not only two minds, but three or four minds, and all depends on which will turn up topmost at a particular moment and how it will combine with the others. There would be no harm in that, on the contrary there might be an advantage if there were a central Light somewhere choosing for him and shaping the decision to the need of the action. He thinks there is and calls it God – but it has always seemed to me that it is his own mind that decides and most often decides wrongly. Anyhow I cannot imagine Lenin or Mustapha Kemal not knowing their own minds or acting in this way – even their strategic retracts were steps towards an end clearly conceived and executed. But whatever it be it is all mind action and vital force in Gandhi. So why should he be taken as an example of the defeat of the Divine or of a spiritual Power? I quite allow that there has been something behind Gandhi greater than himself and you can call it the Divine or a Cosmic Force which has used him, but then there is that behind everybody who is used as an instrument for world ends,– behind Kemal and Lenin also; so that is not germane to the matter.

Of course I shall try to write about this matter of the Divine and Power – only, you want me to answer to the mind and, if so, we must know on what ground to stand. There is a vital mind which judges all things by its own hopes and despairs, preferences, expectations, feelings and makes its conclusions according as these are satisfied or dissatisfied – and there is the true reason, the thinking or scientific mind that takes its ground carefully and tries to see clearly and judge. It is to the latter that an answer can be attempted, for the former accepts only its own answer. There must be more clear understanding as to what we mean by the Divine, or by Power or by the spiritual Power, if it exists – and also what this Divine Power is supposed to do and under what conditions, the world being what it is, it is to be expected to work. So it is not a simple task to give a clear and full answer!


August 1, 1932

I so much enjoyed Anatole France’s joke about God in the mouth of the arch-scoffer Brotteaux in his book Les Dieux ont soif [The Gods Are Thirsty] that I must ask you to read it.

He addresses Father Longuemarre thus: “Ou Dieu veut empêcher le mal et ne le peut, ou il le peut et ne le veut, ou il ne le peut ni ne le veut, ou il le veut et le peut. S’il le veut et ne le peut, il est impuissant; s’il le peut et ne le veut, il est pervers; s’il ne le peut ni ne le veut, il est impuissant et pervers; s’il le peut et le veut, que ne le fait-il mon Père?” “Either God would prevent evil, but could not, or he could but would not, or he neither could nor would, or he both could and would. If he would but could not, he is impotent; if he could but would not, he is perverse; if he neither could nor would, he is impotent and perverse; if he both could and would, why on earth doesn’t he do it Father?”155

I wonder what God might answer to it supposing he should have ever felt inclined to?

Anatole France is always amusing whether he is ironising about God and Christianity or about that rational animal Humanity (with a big H) and the follies of his reason and his conduct. But I presume you never heard of God’s explanation of his non-interference to Anatole France when they met in some Heaven of Irony, I suppose,– it can’t have been in the heaven of Karl Marx, in spite of France’s conversion before his death. God is reported to have strolled up to him and said: “I say, Anatole, you know that was a good joke of yours; but there was a good cause too for my non-interference. Reason came along and told me: «Look here, why do you pretend to exist? You know you don’t exist and never existed or, if you do, you have made such a mess of your creation that we can’t tolerate you any longer. Once we have got you out of the way, all will be right upon earth, tip-top, A-1: my daughter Science and I have arranged that between us. Man will raise his noble brow, the head of creation, dignified, free, equal, fraternal, democratic, depending upon nothing but himself, with nothing greater than himself anywhere in existence. There will be no God, no gods, no churches, no priestcraft, no religion, no kings, no oppression, no poverty, no war or discord anywhere. Industry will fill the earth with abundance, Commerce will spread her golden reconciling wings everywhere. Universal education will stamp out ignorance and leave no room for folly or unreason in any human brain; man will become cultured, disciplined, rational, scientific, well-informed, arriving always at the right conclusion upon full and sufficient data. The voice of the scientist and the expert will be loud in the land and guide mankind to the earthly paradise. A perfected society; health universalised by a developed medical science and a sound hygiene; everything rationalised; science evolved, infallible, omnipotent, omniscient; the riddle of existence solved; the Parliament of Man, the Federation of the world; evolution, of which man, magnificent man, is the last term, completed in the noble white race, a humanitarian kindness and uplifting for our backward brown, yellow and black brothers; peace, peace, peace, reason, order, unity everywhere.» There was a lot more like that, Anatole, and I was so much impressed by the beauty of the picture and its convenience, for I would have nothing to do or to supervise, that I at once retired from business,– for, you know that I was always of a retiring disposition and inclined to keep myself behind the veil or in the background at the best of times. But what is this I hear? – it does not seem to me from reports that Reason even with the help of Science has kept her promise. And if not, why not? Is it because she would not or because she could not? or is it because she both would not and could not, or because she would and could, but somehow did not? And I say, Anatole, these children of theirs, the State, Industrialism, Capitalism, Communism and the rest have a queer look – they seem very much like Titanic monsters. Armed, too, with all the powers of Intellect and all the weapons and organisation of Science. And it does look as if mankind were no freer under them than under the Kings and the Churches! What has happened – or is it possible that Reason is not supreme and infallible, even that she has made a greater mess of it than I could have done myself?” Here the report of the conversation ends; I give it for what it is worth, for I am not acquainted with this God and have to take him on trust from Anatole France.

I have looked through the translation of “The Rishi”156; it seems to be a fine performance, but I shall keep it and read more carefully.

I shall evolve the Divine and Power very soon, but before I can work it out I have to comment on some points in your letters – famous Yogis with their “prophetic” powers and childish minds, advanced sadhaks and their convulsions, the comparative powerlessness of Buddha and Christ etc. These things are not central to the subject, but they cumber the way and it will be easier to proceed when they are put in their proper place.


August 1932

[...] As for the rest of your letter, I shall try to write something tomorrow; today I have been really too much besieged even to have time to attempt an answer to so long a letter. I do not think desultory remarks about doubt would be of any use. To say something about the nature, origin, function and limits of Doubt might be of use but it must be said in a coherent way and as a whole which I will do in later letters. I may say, however, at once one or two things by the way. First, I have already said that I do not ask “undiscriminating faith” from anyone, all I ask is fundamental faith safeguarded by a patient and quiet discrimination – because it is these that are proper to the consciousness of a spiritual seeker and it is these that I have myself used and found that they removed all necessity for the quite fortuitous dilemma of “either you must doubt everything supraphysical or be entirely credulous” which is the stock-in-trade of the materialist argument. Your Doubt, I see, constantly returns to the charge with a repetition of this formula in spite of my denial – which supports my assertion that Doubt cannot be convinced because it cannot in its very nature want to be; it keeps repeating the old grounds always.

Next about Russell – I have never disputed his abilities or his character; I am concerned only with his opinions and there too only with those opinions which touch upon my own province – that of spiritual Truth. In all religions, the most narrow and stupid even, and in all non-religions also there are great minds, great men, fine characters. I know little about Russell, but I never dreamed of disputing the greatness of Lenin, for instance, merely because he was an atheist – nobody would, unless he were an imbecile. But the greatness of Lenin does not debar me from refusing assent to the credal dogmas of Bolshevism, and the beauty of character of an atheist does not prove that spirituality is a lie of the imagination and that there is no Divine. I might add that if you can find the utterances of famous Yogis childish when they talk about marriage or on other mental matters, I cannot be blamed for finding the ideas of Russell about spiritual experience, of which he knows nothing, very much wanting in light and substance. You have not named the Yogis in question, and till you do, I am afraid I shall cherish a suspicion about either the height or the breadth of their spiritual experience. But of that, hereafter, when I get a chance of an hour or two to write on it.


August 2, 1932

Yes, if you wish, you can include the letter on Doubt and the repartee in your book – but I am afraid it will make it very miscellaneous!

The invisible Force producing tangible results both inward and outward is the whole meaning of the yogic consciousness. Your question about Yoga bringing merely a feeling of Power without any result was really very strange. Who would be satisfied with such a meaningless hallucination and call it Power? If we had not had thousands of experiences showing that the Power within could alter the mind, develop its powers, add new ones, bring in new ranges of knowledge, master the vital movements, change the character, influence men and things, control the conditions and functionings of the body, work as a concrete dynamic Force on other forces, modify events, etc., etc., we would not speak of it as we do. Moreover, it is not only in its results but in its movements that the Force is tangible and concrete. When I speak of feeling Force or Power, I do not mean simply having a vague sense of it, but feeling it concretely and consequently being able to direct it, manipulate it, watch its movement, be conscious of its mass and intensity and in the same way of that of other perhaps opposing forces; – all these things are possible and usual by the development of Yoga.

It is not, unless it is supramental Force, a Power that acts without conditions and limits. The conditions and limits under which Yoga or sadhana has to be worked out are not arbitrary or capricious; they arise from the nature of things. These – including the will, receptivity, assent, self-opening and surrender of the sadhak have to be respected by the Yoga-force – unless it receives a sanction from the Supreme to override everything and get something done – but that sanction is sparingly given. It is only if the supramental Power came fully down, not merely sent its influences through the Overmind, that things could be very radically altered in this respect – and that is why my main effort is directed towards that object – for then the sanction would not be rare! For the Law of the Truth would be at work, not constantly balanced by the law of the Ignorance.

Still the Yoga-force is always tangible and concrete in the way I have described and has tangible results. But it is invisible – not like a blow given or the rush of a motor car knocking somebody down which the physical senses can at once perceive. How is the mere physical mind to know that it is there and working? By its results? But how can it know that the results was that of the yogic force and not of something else? One of two things it must be. Either it must allow the consciousness to go inside, to become aware of inner things, to believe in the experience of the invisible and the supraphysical, and then by experience, by the opening of new capacities, it becomes conscious of these forces and can see, follow and use their workings, just as the Scientist uses the unseen forces of Nature. Or one must have faith and watch and open oneself and then it will begin to see how things happen, it will notice that when the Force was called in, there began after a time to be a result, then repetitions, more repetitions, more clear and tangible results, increasing frequency, increasing consistency of results, a feeling and awareness of the Force at work – until the experience becomes daily, regular, normal, complete. These are the two main methods, one internal, working from in outward, the other external, working from outside and calling the inner force out till it penetrates and is visible in the exterior consciousness. But neither can be done if one insists always on the extrovert attitude, the external concrete only and refuses to join to it the internal concrete – or if the physical mind at every step raises a dance of doubts which refuses to allow the nascent experience to develop. Even the Scientist carrying on a new experiment would never succeed if he allowed his mind to behave in that way.

When the Mother said that it was just a trick of reversing the consciousness, she meant that: that instead of allowing always the external mind to interfere and assert its own ordinary customary point of view, it should turn itself round, admit that things may work from in outwards, and keep itself sufficiently quiet to see that developing and being done. For then an inner mind shows itself which is capable of following and being the instrument of the invisible Forces.

It is not that you are incapable of it, for it was several times on the point of being done. But your external mind has interfered, always, questioning, doubting, asking for something more external, not waiting for the movement to continue, for the inward to externalise itself and make itself concrete. That is why I object to this worship of Doubt. It is not that I used not to have doubts myself more formidable than any you have ever thought of – but I did not allow them to interfere with the development of my experience. I let it continue until it had sufficient body for me to know what it was and what it could bring me.


August 5, 1932

The way, the attitude you suggest would indeed be the right one; but you must be able to keep it, not allow doubt to torment or impatience for results to disturb you. Impatience only hinders the result from coming or even upsets the apple-cart just when it is turning into the right lane. However, if you can take this course and keep it, it is the true preparation for the mind and vital to admit of the psychic being’s emergence to the front. Intensity of aspiration can do it also, no doubt, but a quiet steady intensity, not the impatient eagerness which, when it is disappointed or the fruit delayed, calls in doubt to upset the aforesaid apple-cart.

About asking us about small things, I should hesitate to advise it if it needs on your part a heroic resolve. It is important that the vital nature should not feel a constraint, a sense of parting with its liberty under compulsion from the mind when this kind of step is taken; it is hard enough to get it to admit the more immediately needed control of its major impulses (sex, etc.) without coercing it in “small” things also,– at least those it feels to be small. If at any time the vital feels the need or feels this to be the natural way to a deeper soul intimacy, then the step will be of great use.

To reject doubts means control of one’s thoughts – very certainly so. But the control of one’s thoughts is as necessary as the control of one’s vital desires and passions or the control of the movements of one’s body – for the Yoga, and not for the Yoga only. One cannot be in fully developed mental being even, if one has not control of the thoughts, is not their observer, judge and master,– the mental Purusha, manomaya puruṣa, sākṣi, anumantā, īśvara [the mental Being, the witness, the giver of sanction, the Master]. It is no more proper for the mental being to be the tennis ball of unruly and uncontrollable thoughts than to be a rudderless ship in the storm of the desires and passions or a slave of either inertia or the impulses of the body. I know it is more difficult because man being primarily a creature of mental Prakriti identifies himself with the movements of his mind and cannot at once dissociate himself and stand free from the whirl and eddies of the mind whirlpool. It is comparatively easy for him to put a control on his body, at least a certain part of its movements: it is less easy but still very possible after a struggle to put a mental control on his vital impulsions and desires; but to sit, like the Tantrik Yogi on the river, above the whirlpool of his thoughts is less facile. Nevertheless it can be done; all developed mental men, those who get beyond the average, have in one way or other or at least at certain times and for certain purposes to separate the two parts of the mind, the active part which is a factory of thoughts and the quiet masterful part which is at once a Witness and a Will, observing them, judging, rejecting, eliminating, accepting, ordering corrections and changes, the Master in the House of Mind, capable of self-empire, svārājya.

The Yogi goes still farther; he is not only a master there, but even while in mind in a way, he gets out of it, as it were, and stands above or quite back from it and free. For him the image of the factory of thoughts is no longer quite valid; for he sees that thoughts come from outside, from the universal Mind or universal Nature, sometimes formed and distinct, sometimes unformed and then they are given shape somewhere in us. The principal business of our mind is either a response of acceptance or refusal to these thought-waves (as also vital waves, subtle physical energy waves) or this giving a personal-mental form to thought-stuff (or vital movements) from the environing Nature Force. It was my great debt to Lele that he showed me this. “Sit in meditation,” he said, “but do not think, look only at your mind; you will see thoughts coming into it; before they can enter throw them away from you till your mind is capable of entire silence.” I had never heard before of thoughts coming visibly into the mind from outside, but I did not think of either questioning the truth or the possibility, I simply sat down and did it. In a moment my mind became silent as a windless air on a high mountain summit and then I saw a thought and then another thought coming in a quite concrete way from outside; I flung them away before they could enter and take hold of the brain and in three days I was free. From that moment, in principle, the mental being in me became a free Intelligence, a universal Mind, not limited to the narrow circle of personal thought as a labourer in a thought factory, but a receiver of knowledge from all the hundred realms of being and free to choose what it willed in this vast sight-empire and thought-empire.

I mention this only to emphasise that the possibilities of the mental being are not limited and that it can be the free Witness and Master in its own house. It is not to say that everybody can do it in the way I did it and with the same rapidity of the decisive movement (for, of course, the later fullest developments of this new untrammelled mental Power took time, many years); but a progressive freedom and mastery of one’s mind is perfectly within the possibilities of anyone who has the faith and the will to undertake it. The rest hereafter.


August 8, 1932

It is a question of standard and emphasis, is it not? Maya did her best, I think, but that does not mean that somebody else in her position might not have done better. Maya was divided, so she could not put everything aside, explore every avenue, come in disregard of every obstacle. That would have been an absolute sincerity, if you like, and it is what one would expect from someone not divided, wholly fixed on the spiritual life. But Maya is not that yet, nor have we yet asked it of her, because it would have been beyond her present power. I take it that she badly wanted to come and made a real effort against Shankar’s opposition – therefore we cannot say that she was insincere; but she could not carry through to the end and entirely because she was divided, as she admits. As to the other things you tell, well – they are what they are,– your view of them is right.

Khitish Sen’s lines are very fine. If he had to struggle, at least he strove to some purpose! I will keep the whole still for more leisurely examination.


August 12, 1932

The rhythm of your Sarasvati is very luminously sweet and attractive, I observe that while in the beginning you moved with careful and exact steps in the Sanskritic meters you now have a light and masterly ease there.

We have taken note of the five pranams,– five in essence?


August 16, 1932

Anyhow, do not allow yourself to be overborne by the dejection; it can only be an incident in the ups and downs of the sadhana, and, as an incident, it should be made as short as possible. Remember that you have chosen a method of proceeding in the sadhana in which dejection ought to have no place. If you have a growing faith that all that is happening has somehow to happen and that God knows what is best for you,– that is already a great thing; if you add to it the will to keep your face always turned towards the goal and the confidence that you are being led towards it even through difficulties and apparent denials, there could be no better mental foundation for sadhana. And if not only the mind, but the vital and physical consciousness can be imbued with this faith, dejection will become either impossible or so evidently an outer thing thrown from outside and not belonging to the consciousness that it will not be able to keep its hold at all. A faith of that kind is a very helpful first step towards the reversal of consciousness which makes one see the inner truth of things rather than their outward phenomenal appearance.

As for the causes of the dejection, there were causes partly general in the shape of a resistance to a great descending force which was not personal to you at all, and, so far as there was a response to it in you, it was not from your conscious being, otherwise you would not have had it in this way, but from the part in us which keeps things for a long time that have been suppressed or rejected by the conscious will. It is the conscious will that matters, for it is that [which] prevails in the end, the will of the Purusha and not the more blind and obstinate parts of Prakriti. Keep the conscious will all right and it will carry on to the goal,– just as the resistance in universal Nature will yield in the end before the Divine Descent.


August 18, 1932

(from Mother)

I have felt and been moved by the sincerity of your letter. Do not be too sorry. In a way what has happened was for the best since it has led you to take a firm and decisive resolution which must help you greatly to get rid of this trouble. Be sure of all the help I can give you.

I will call you again as soon as this flood of departing people has diminished a little. Meanwhile, “bon courage!”


August 19, 1932

The Rishi like everything else was drowned in the flood; I have looked through it today and return it. It is a great success, the high level kept throughout; certainly you must encourage him to finish it. I take note about the “Bairagi” [?].

The Mother was very pleased to get your letter and to know that you had conquered the attack from these unpleasant forces of Nature. It is perfectly sure that you can conquer – and therefore you will.


August 22, 1932

If you can feel the Name bringing you peace, it should be able to bring everything else, bhakti, joy, the revelation of the Power and the Presence and the full feeling and consciousness of it to you. That is indeed the process of the Vaishnava sadhana and the power of the Name in it. Only keep your poise and persevere.


August 28, 1932

I am feeling to-day an altogether new kind of peace and a surge of devotion. When I looked at Mother this evening, a prayer came up to my lips to cure me effectively of the last traces of selfishness and clamouring and what not and make me humble – really humble, not the modesty of social manners which is often worse than Shavian assertiveness (which is more sincere). I want to feel I am superior to none and can pray for love as a grace not because I am so worthy of it. I have a feeling (I hope it is true) that my difficulties are at long last about to melt away through Mother’s grace and yours. Make me pure at heart and sincere and one-pointed in my aspiration.

The Shavian assertiveness is not offensive (as the Hugoesque170 tends to be) because it is full also of a smiling self-mockery, an irony that under a form of deliberate self-praise cuts at itself and the world in one lump. It is curious that so many people seem to miss this character of Shaw’s self-assertiveness and self-praise, its essential humour.

It is very good indeed. Keep this and you cannot but progress.


September 8, 1932

I have made some slight corrections, that is all – especially in eliminating your “fancys” which seem to me to introduce too contemptuous a note. I do not agree that Wells and others are more serious than Shaw – if by seriousness is meant earnestness of belief in one’s ideals and sincerity in the intelligence. These can exist very well behind a triple breastplate of satire and humour. Shaw’s merits are surely greater than you seem disposed to admit in your letter. The tide is turning against him after being strongly for him – under compulsion from his own power and will, but nothing can alter the fact that he was one of the keenest and most powerful minds of the age with an originality in his way of looking at things which no one else could equal. If what was original in him has become the common stock of contemporary thought, it was his power and forcefulness that made it so – it is no more to be counted against him than the deplorable fact that Hamlet is only a “string of quotations” is damaging to Shakespeare! I do not share your exasperation against Shavianism – I find it a delightful note and am thankful to Shaw for being so refreshingly different from other men that to read even an ordinary interview with him in a newspaper is always an intellectual pleasure. As for his being one of the most original personalities of the age, there can be no doubt of that. All that I deny to him is a constructive and creative mind – but his critical force, in certain fields at least, as a critic of man and life was very great and in that field he can in a sense be called creative – in the sense that he created a singularly effective and living form for his criticism of life. It is not drama, but it is something original and strong and altogether of its own kind – so, up to that limit, I qualify my statement that Shaw was no creator.

As to the others, I do not feel inclined to be drawn in at present; I would have to say too much, if I started saying anything at all. Galsworthy I have not read – as to the others, all I can say is that I do not share the contemporary idea about them – so far as I have read their work. Contemporary fame, contemporary opinion are creations of the hour and can die with the hour. I fail to see in many of the much praised writers of the time either the power of style or the power of critical mind or creative imagination that ensures survival. There is plenty of effective writing or skilful workmanship, but that is not enough to make literary immortals.


September 9, 1932

I am sending you the letter which was forgotten (I intended to send it and took the intention for the act) and also the printed poems. I am quite convinced of the possibilities of the mātrā-vṛtta – which would exist even if Anilbaran is right in insisting that it is the sagotra [kindred] of the akṣara-vṛtta. Two people may be conscious and yet have different characters, possibilities and destinies – and so may two metres.

Why do you want Shaw to be tied to some intellectual dogma and square all his acts, views and sallies to it? He is too penetrating and sincere a mind to be a stiff partisan – when he sees something which qualifies the “ism” – even that on whose side he is standing – he says so; that need not weaken the ideal behind, it is likely to make it more plastic and practicable. However, enough of Shaw, I have to answer Amal’s question and that ought to finish with him. I will only add that whatever his manner, it does not appear to me that he writes merely to shock but to expose in a vivid way the stupidity of the human mind in taking established things and ideas for granted. If he does it in a striking and amusing way, why so much the livelier and the better!

I do not say anything about your poems because I have nothing new to say. You seem to have arrived at a complete command over rhythm and metre and a complete plasticity of expressions. All the rest depends upon the depths and widenesses you command and the heights you scale in the future.


September 14, 1932

I am glad to have your letter, because it makes clear to me what the decision should be. It was not from sentimental but from deeper considerations – my language was probably opaque – that I put in the balance the possibility of your satisfying the request in the telegram. But your letter has shown me very clearly what your inner being demands of me and also that your going now would not be desirable from the point of view of your spiritual life. That for me must be the first consideration. So, since it is left to my decision, I think it must be “no.”


September 21, 1932

No, what you write in your letter was not at all what the Mother was trying to tell you. The question of ahaitukī bhakti and its opposite was settled long ago and the Mother did not intend to return upon it; it is understood that whatever the motive immediately pushing the mind or the vital, an asking for Ananda or knowledge or power, yet if there is a true seeking for the Divine in the being, it must lead eventually to the realisation of the Divine. The soul within has always the inherent (ahaitukī) yearning for the Divine; the hetu or special motive is simply an impulsion used by it to get the mind and the vital to follow the inner urge. If the mind and the vital can feel and accept the soul’s sheer love for the Divine for His own sake, then the sadhana gets its full power and many difficulties disappear; but even if they do not, they will get what they seek after in the Divine and through it they will come to realise, even perhaps to pass beyond the limit of their original desire. I may say that the idea of a joyless God is an absurdity, which only the ignorance of the mind could engender. The Radha love is not based upon any such thing, but means simply that whatever comes on the way to the Divine, pain or joy, milana [union] or viraha [separation], and however long the sufferings may last, the Radha love is unshaken and keeps its faith and certitude pointing fixedly like a star to the supreme object of Love.

All this, however, has nothing to do with what the Mother wished to say in the morning. What she told you was that you seemed to have a fixed notion about the Divine, as of a rather distant Being somewhere whom you expect to give you an article called Ananda, and, when there is some prospect of his giving it to you, you are on good terms with him, but when he doesn’t, you quarrel and revolt and call him names! And she said a notion of the kind was in itself an obstacle, because it is rather far from the Truth, in the way of realising the Divine. What is this Ananda that you seek, after all? The mind can see in it nothing but a pleasant psychological condition,– but if it were only that, it could not be the rapture which the bhaktas and the mystics find in it. When the Ananda comes into you, it is the Divine who comes into you; just as when the Peace flows into you, it is the Divine who is invading you, or when you are flooded with Light, it is the flood of the Divine Himself that is around you. Of course, the Divine is something much more; many other things besides, and in them all a Presence, a Being, a Divine Person; for the Divine is Krishna, is Shiva, is the Supreme Mother. But through the Ananda you can perceive the ānandamaya [all-blissful] Krishna; for the Ananda is the subtle body and being of Krishna; through the Peace you can perceive the śāntimaya [all-peaceful] Shiva; in the Light, in the delivering Knowledge, the Love, the fulfilling and uplifting Power you can meet the presence of the Divine Mother. It is this perception that makes the experiences of the bhaktas and mystics so rapturous and enables them to pass more easily through the nights of anguish and separation; when there is this soul-perception, it gives to even a little or brief Ananda a force or value it could not otherwise have and the Ananda itself gathers by it a growing power to stay, to return, to increase. This was what the Mother meant when she said, “Don’t ask the Divine to give you Ananda, ask Him to give you Himself” – signifying that in the Ananda and through the Ananda it would be Himself that He would give you. There would then be no cause to say, “I don’t know the Divine I have never felt or met Him”; it would be a gate for other experiences and make it easier to see the Divine in the material object, in the human form, in the body.

It was not a condition that the Mother was laying down when she said this; it was simply a suggestion which, if something in you could seize and profit by it, would make things less slow and difficult than they actually are.


September 22, 1932

I do not know why you concluded from my letter that I was displeased or had lost patience. I was answering two letters of yours in which there was nothing that could displease. I used the phrase about “calling the Divine names” very lightly and with no conscious intention in it; it was not meant in the least to convey displeasure or a reproach to you. It was used simply to point the description of a conception of the Divine, too external and summary, which seems to us to be an obstacle rather than a help to realisation. We saw that you had misunderstood what the Mother said and had taken it for an objection to your seeking for Ananda,– but it was not that at all, it was only a suggestion that in the Ananda itself when it came it was possible to feel the Divine and so open the gates to a concrete and rapturous experience. However, as I said, it was not her intention when she spoke or mine when I wrote to put it as a condition or impose it upon you. As for calling the Divine names I suppose most people have done it at one time or another and the Divine has not resented it nor has it stood in the way of His manifesting Himself to those when they were ready to receive. But I know from my own experience that the conception on which it rests belongs to a stage of misunderstanding and ignorance which one outgrows with the widening of the mind and the spirit. It was the conception as a whole which I was speaking of and this phrase was merely an ornamental detail – I never meant to lay stress on it or to suggest that it was something seriously condemnable or a cause of resentment or displeasure.

I cannot very well answer the strictures of Russell or Vivekananda (in one of his moods) for the conception of the Divine as an external omnipotent Power who has created the world and governs it like an absolute and arbitrary monarch. The Christian or Semitic conception, the popular religious notion, has never been mine; it contradicts too much my seeing and experience during forty years of sadhana. When I speak of the Divine Will I mean something different,– something that has descended here into an evolutionary world of Ignorance, standing at the back of things, pressing on the Darkness with its Light, leading things presently towards the best possible in the conditions of a world of Ignorance and leading it eventually towards a descent of a greater Power of the Divine which will be not an omnipotence held back and conditioned by the Law of the world as it is, but a full action and therefore bringing the reign of light, peace, harmony, joy, love, beauty and Ananda, for these are the Divine Nature. The Divine Grace is there, ready to act at every moment, but it manifests as one grows out of the law of the Ignorance into the Law of Light and it is meant, not as an arbitrary caprice, however miraculous often its intervention, but as a help in that growth and a Light that leads and eventually delivers. If we take the facts of the world as they are and the facts of spiritual experience as a whole, neither of which can be denied or neglected, then I do not see what other Divine there can be. This Divine may lead us often through darkness, because the darkness is there in us and around us, but it is to the Light he is leading and not to anything else.


September 23, 1932

A very fine poem this new one. The metre is a great success.

I return you the former letter from Prabodh Sen which I managed to find time to read only today. He has a most acute, ingenious and orderly mind and what he says is always thought-provoking and interesting; but I am not persuaded that the form of Bengali mātrā-vṛtta and Sanskrit laghu-guru is really and intrinsically the same. Equivalent, no doubt, in a way,– if we substitute Bengali metre for Sanskrit quantity; but not the same because Bengali metre and Sanskrit quantity are two quite different things. It is something like the equivoque by which one pretends that an English iambic metre or any other with a Greek name is the same as a Latin or Greek metre with that name – an equivoque based on the fiction that a stressed and an unstressed English syllable are quantitatively long and short. There is a certain kind of general equivalence but a fundamental difference – as those who have tried to find an equivalent in the English stress system to the quantitative Latin or Greek hexameter, alcaic or sapphic metres have discovered – they could not be transplanted, because it is only on true quantity that they can live.

As to Jyotirmayi’s cousin, I don’t know quite what to say. If he is not interested in Yoga, there seems to be no ground for his staying in the Ashram or for seeing the Mother – that is for the Mother receiving him. If he only wants to come to Pondicherry, visit you, see the Ashram, that would be a different thing – or he might even be allowed to come once to pranam and so see the Mother.


September 25, 1932

So far as the photograph of which you speak can be taken as showing the man, it is that of a nature of which the chief character is intensity, but in a very narrow range. There is here no wide range of ideas or feelings; a few ruling ideas, a few persistent and keenly acute feelings. The face of a man whose vital is also intense, but without strength and therefore over sensitive. There may well be a strong idealistic tendency – but there is not likely to be much power to carry out the ideals. This is the character; as for the genius, if there is any, it will depend on other things which may not find positive expression in the outward appearance; for the external man is often the medium of a Power that is beyond him.

I shall keep the book, for a few days – if you don’t need it – just to glance through it; it is too big to read in detail. I know nothing of Lawrence; I shall see if I can pick up something from here.


October 1, 1932

I am still at a loss what to answer about uchchvās [exuberance], because I still don’t understand exactly what Suhrawardy is aiming at in his criticism. There is not more uchchvās in Bengali poetry than in English, if by the word is meant rhetoric, free resort to imagery, prolific weaving of words and ideas and sentiments around what one has to say. Most Indian poetry in the Sanskritic languages – there are exceptions of course – was more restrained and classic in taste or else more impressionist and incisive than most English poetry; the qualities or defects noted above came into Bengali under the English influence. I don’t see therefore the point of his remark that the English language cannot express the Indian temperament. It is true of course to a certain extent, first, because no foreign language can express what is intimate and peculiar to a national temperament, it tends at once to become falsified and seems exotic, and especially the imagery or sentiment of one language does not go well with that of another; least of all can the temperament of an oriental tongue into a European tongue – what is perfectly simple and straightforward in one becomes emphatic or over-coloured or strange in the other. But that has nothing to do with uchchvās in itself. As to emotion – if that is what is meant – your word effusiveness is rather unfortunate, for effusiveness is not praiseworthy in poetry anywhere; but vividness of emotion is no more reprehensible in English than in Bengali poetry. You give as examples of uchchvās among other things Madhusudan’s style, Tagore’s poem to me180, a passage from Govindadas. I don’t think there is anything in Madhusudhan which an English poet writing in Bengali would have hesitated to father. Tagore’s poem is written at a high-pitch of feeling perfectly intelligible to anyone who had passed through the exaltation of the Swadeshi days, but not more high pitched than certain things in Milton, Shelley, Swinburne. In Govinda Das’s lines,– let us translate them into English –

Am I merely thine? O Love, I am there clinging

In every limb of thine – there ever in my creation and my dissolution,

the idea is one that would not so easily occur to an English poet, it is an erotic mysticism, easily suggested to a mind familiar with the experiences of Vedanta or Vaishnava mystics; but this is not effusiveness, it is intensity – and an English writer – e.g. Lawrence – could be quite as intense, but would use a different idea or image.

It is probably modern (contemporary) English poetry of which Suhrawardy is thinking. Here I am no expert; but I understand that the turn there is to suppress emotion, rhetoric, colouring, sentiment and arrive at something very direct, expressive, recording either the thing exactly as it is or some intimate essential truth of the thing without wrapping it up in ideas and sentiments, superfluous images and epithets. It does not look as if all contemporary English poetry was like that, it is only one strong trend; but such as it is, it has not as yet produced anything very decisive, great or successful. Much of it seems to be mere flat objectivity or, what is worse, an exaggerated emphatic objectivity; emotion seems often to be replaced by an intensified vital-physical sensation of the object. You will perhaps understand what I mean if you read the poem quoted on pages 316-17 of the Parichay (also made much of in a book on English modernistic poetry sent to me by Arjava) – “red pieces of day, hills made of blue and green paper, Satanic and blase, a black goat lookingly wanders” – images expressing vividly an impression made on the nerves through the sight by the described object. Admittedly it is – at least when pushed to such a degree, a new way of looking at things in poetry, but not essentially superior to the impressions created on the heart or the mental imagination by the object. All the same, there is behind, but still not successfully achieved, something real, an attempt to get away from ornate mental constructions about things to the expression of the intimate truth of the things themselves as directly seen by a deeper sight within us. Only it seems to me a mistake to theorise that only by this kind of technique and in this particular way can what is aimed at be done. I have to form my idea more fully when I have finished Arjava’s book, but this is what impresses me at present.

I can understand very well what Suhrawardy objects to in Harin’s poetry, though his expression of it is absurdly exaggerated (“trash”), and he may be right in thinking it an exotic [?] in English literature; but I am under the impression that Harin will stand in spite of that, though he has still to write something so sovereign in its own kind as to put all doubt out of court; but, even as it is, the poetic quality of his work appears to me undeniable.


October 8, 1932

It is not easy to say precisely what is austerity in the poetic sense – for it is a quality that can be felt, a spirit in the writer and the writing, but if you put it in the strait-waistcoat of a definition or of a set technical method you are likely to lose the spirit altogether. In the spirit of the writing you can feel it as a something constant, self-restrained, grave and severe; it is the quality that one at once is aware of in Milton, Wordsworth, Aeschylus and which even their most fervent admirers would hardly attribute to Shakespeare, Shelley, Keats, Tennyson, Euripides. But there is also an austerity in the poetic manner and that is more difficult to describe or to fix its borders. At most one can say that it consists in a will to express the thing of which you write, thought, object or feeling, in its just form and exact power without addition and without exuberance. The austerer method of poetry avoids all lax superfluity, all profusion of unnecessary words, excess of emotional outcry, self-indulgent daub of colour, over-brilliant scattering of images, all mere luxury of external art or artifice. To use just the necessary words and no others, the thought in its simplicity and bare power, the one occasional expressive or revealing image, the precise colour and nothing more, just the exact impression, reaction, simple feeling proper to the object,– nothing spun out, additional, in excess. Any rioting in words, colour, images, emotions, sound, phrase for their own sake, for their own beauty, attraction, luxury of abundant expression would, I suppose, be what your friend means by uchchvās. Even, an extreme contemporary tendency seems to condemn the use of image, epithet, colour, pitch or emphasis of any kind, except on the most sparing scale, as a vice. Length in a poem is itself a sin, for length means padding – Suhrawardy, if I remember right, echoes this view? – a long poem is a bad poem, only brief work, intense, lyrical in spirit can be throughout pure poetry. Milton, for example, considered austere by the common run of mortals, would be excluded from the list of the pure for his sprawling lengthiness, his epic rhetoric, his swelling phrases, his cult of the grandiose. To be perfect you must be small, brief and restrained, meticulous in cut and style.

This extremism in the avoidance of excess is perhaps itself an excess. Much can be done by bareness in poetry – a poetic nudism if accompanied by either beauty and grace or strength and power has its excellence. There can be a vivid or striking or forceful or a subtle, delicate or lovely bareness which reaches to the highest values of poetic expression. There can be also a compact or a stringent bareness – the kind of style deliberately aimed at by Landor181; but this can be very stiff and stilted as Landor is in his more ambitious attempts – although he did magnificent things sometimes, like his lines on Rose Aylmer; you can see there how emotion itself can gain by a spare austerity in self-expression. It is doubtful whether all these kinds – Wordsworth’s lyrics, for example, the Daffodils, the Cuckoo – can be classed as austere. On the other hand, there can be a very real spirit and power of underlying austerity behind a considerable wealth and richness of expression. Arnold in one of his poems gives the image of a girl beautiful, rich and sumptuous in apparel on whose body, killed in an accident, was found beneath the sumptuousness, next to the skin, an under-robe of sackcloth. If that is admitted, then Milton can keep his claim to austerity in spite of his epic fullness and Aeschylus in spite of the exultant daring of his images and the rich colour of his language. Dante is, I think, the perfect type of austerity in poetry, standing between the two extremes and combining the most sustained severity of expression with a precise power and fullness in the language which gives the sense of packed riches – no mere bareness anywhere.

But, after all, exclusive standards are out of place in poetry; there is room for all kinds and all methods. Shakespeare was to the French classicists a drunken barbarian of genius; but his spontaneous exuberance has lifted him higher than their willed severity of classical perfection. All depends on the kind one aims at – expressing what is in oneself – and an inspired faithfulness to the law of perfection in that kind. That needs some explanation, perhaps; but I have here perforce to put a dash and finish.


October 9, 1932

I said that Aeschylus like Milton was austere au fond [at bottom] – there is as in Dante a high serious restrained power behind all they write; but the outward form in Milton is grandiose, copious, lavish of strength and sweep, in Aeschylus bold, high-imaged, strong in colour, in Dante full of concise, packed and significantly forceful turn and phrase. These external riches might seem not restrained enough to the purists of austerity who want the manner and not the fond only to be impeccably austere. I did not mean that Dante reached the summit of austerity in this sense; in fact I said he stood between the two extremes of bare austerity and sumptuosity of language. But even in his language there is a sense of tapasyā, of concentrated restraint in his expressive force. Amal in his translation of Dante182 has let himself go in the direction of eloquence more than Dante who is too succinct for eloquence and he uses also a mystical turn of phrase which is not Dante’s – yet he has got something of the spirit in the language, something of Dante’s concentrated force of expression into his lines. You have spread yourself out even more than Amal, but still there is the Dantesque in your lines also,– very much so, I should say; for instance:

apār alakh ālo-mandākinī-banyādhāre abanī-ārtir andha bubhukkhā bināshi

Quench the blind hunger of this earth-despair

With flood of glory from the immense Unseen!183

is the Dantesque itself in its movement and peculiar quality of phrase,– with only this difference that Dante would have put it into fewer words than you do. It is the Dantesque stretching itself out a little – more large-limbed, permitting itself more space.

Aeschylus’ manner cannot be described as uchchvās, at least in the sense given to it in my letter. He is not carefully restrained and succinct in his language like Dante, but there is a certain royal measure even in his boldness of colour and image which has in it the strength of tapasyā and cannot be called uchchvās. I suppose in Bengali this term is used a little indiscriminately for things that are not quite the same in spirit. If mere use of bold image and fullness of expression, epithet, colour, splendour of phrase is uchchvās, apart from the manner of their use, I would say that austerity and uchchvās of a certain kind are perfectly compatible. At any rate two-thirds of the poetry hitherto recognised as the best in different literatures comes of a combination of these two elements. If I find time I shall one day try to explain this point with texts to support it.

I don’t know the Bengali for austerity. Gāmbhirya and other kindred things are or can be elements of austerity, but are not austerity itself. Anuchchvās is not accurate; one can be free from uchchvās without being austere. The soul of austerity in poetry as in Yoga is ātmasaṃyama [self-discipline]; all the rest is variable, the outward quality of the austerity itself may be variable.

There is no reason why Dante should not be replaced by the earth in the translation or Beatrice remain in it. Even the last lines could be Indianised, if you wanted, with the exit of Beatrice.


October 10, 1932

Well, that is all right. If Sahana is a devotee of the great goddess “Cha-devi” [tea goddess], she will fly and throw herself on the altar without need of urging – if not, she will sit in tealess meditation invitation-free. It will be a test of her true orientation in this “to tea or not to tea” question. As for chivalry, it is more than a century ago that Burke lamented “The days of chivalry are gone!” And in the year 1932 with feminism triumphant – everywhere except in France and Bokhara – how do you propose to keep the cult going any longer?


October 17, 1932

I don’t think it is at all owing to the suggestion from what I wrote in the letter that you got the experience. The fundamental reason of these things does not belong to the surface; it is in the depths – or on the heights; at any rate, in the inner being behind the veil of the frontal consciousness. The actual occasional cause of the spiritual experience,– the match that sets alight the fire, so to say – may be something very slight and looking accidental on the surface, a chance word or happening or something quite fortuitous in its appearance. The person also through whom it comes may seem very much like a fortuitous instrument. It is true that this is only in appearance; for even things slight and seemingly fortuitous have a reason for happening as they do, but that reason too is not on the surface.

Your meeting with Subhash [Bose] was not on the physical plane, nor was it with the physical Subhash. Although it was not a sleep in which we enter into other planes of being, it was in a concentrated state in which you had crossed or were crossing the border from the physical to a deeper consciousness. The Subhash you met there was some part of him of which the external physical Subhash is probably not himself aware and there it is quite possible that there is a Shivabhakta who could speak in praise of Gauri-vallabh; it may be even from there that come the velleities of sadhana when he is in prison and the surface kinetic man discouraged and inactive. Or it may be the Subhash met in the concentration was only a mask or an instrument for a Power that spoke the word through his voice.

As for the experience itself it takes up the movement which had started in you a long time ago and was interrupted by the vital upheaval that brought you so much trouble and struggle. Only there has been since a widening of the consciousness and a step forward which made this form of the experience possible. At that time you had not much appreciation for calm and peace – you hankered only after bhakti and Ananda. But calm, peace, shanti are the necessary basis for any establishment of other things, otherwise if there is no solid foundation in the consciousness, if there is only unrest and movement, bhakti, Ananda and everything else can only come and go in starts and fits and find no ground to live on. It must, however, be not a mere mental quiet but the deep spiritual peace of the shantimaya Shiva. It was this that touched you (descending through the head) in this experience. For the rest it is a resumption of the piercing of the veil, the beginning of the power of inner experience as opposed to the lesser experiences of the surface, the opening of the inner being, which is necessary for the Yogic consciousness. A certain amount of vital purification has taken place which made the resumption of this kind of experience possible.

You certainly need not be afraid of going into unconsciousness, for it is not unconsciousness that you would go into, but simply the inner consciousness,– that going quite inward which is the result of intense dhyāna [meditation] and the beginning of a certain kind of samādhi.


October 1932 (?)

What the Mother said was that a star [?] moving persistently from up below is frequently seen when there is a process going on of joining the inner consciousness and the outer together. It is the separation, the veil of non-communication between the two that is the chief difficulty of the early stages of the Yoga.

Green indicates vital force, a warm vital force, not exactly love – at any rate there is nothing of the sexual movement in it – but affection and a generous self-giving or self-spending power of the life-force....


October 18, 1932

I am sending you back the letters, etc. The long letter is absolutely unfit for publication, as I see on a final reading, except the first page – the rest won’t do at all. To the others (even the door and head letter) I will not object, if you want them. As to Subhash, I would not advise you to send him this morning’s letter as it would evoke your writing to him about your experience, which it is not good to do from the point of view of your sadhana; the other letter (about Shiva, Krishna, etc.) could be sent, but would it mean anything to him – I don’t know.

I have not yet found a moment’s time to go through Russell’s book; as soon as I can do so I will let you know if I have anything to say about him. I have already said that I have no objection to anybody admiring Russell or Lowes Dickinson or any other altruist. Genius or fine qualities are always admirable in whomever they are found; all that has nothing to do with the turn of a man’s opinions or the truth or untruth of atheism or of spiritual experience. Neither for that matter is the fact that there are people who believe out of fear or desire a valid argument against the existence of the Divine. I will read the book as soon as I can, but I do not expect to find anything very novel in it, as I am perfectly familiar with European atheism and it is for the most part a shallow and rather childish reaction against a shallow and childish religionism – that of orthodox exoteric Christianity as it was believed and practised in Europe. Not much food on either side of the controversy either for the intellect or the spirit!


October 20, 1932

I am glad you have made a (partial) conquest of Buddhadev. If you can establish laghu-guru as a recognised metrical principle in Bengali, you will fulfil one of my two previsions for the future with regard to the language. When I was first introduced to Bengali prosody, I was told that Madhusudan’s blank verse was one of fourteen syllables, but to my astonishment found that sometimes ten syllables even counted as fourteen, e.g.

Rāvan swashur mama Meghnād swami

[Ravan is my father-in-law, Meghnad is my husband.]

Of course, it was afterwards explained to me that the syllables were counted in the Sanskrit system, and I got the real run of rhythmic movement; but I always thought, why not have an alternative system with a true sonant syllabic basis – and, finally, I saw the birth (I mean as a recognised serious metre) of the svara-vṛtta. Afterwards I came across Hemchandra’s experiments in bringing in a quantitative element – and fell in love with the idea and hoped somebody would try it on a larger scale. But up till now this attempt to influence the future did not materialise. Now perhaps in your hands it will – even apart from songs.

Sorry about your nose. But after all a nose cannot be like Tennyson’s brook – “Gods may come and Gods may go but I run on for ever.” A running nose is essentially a temporary phenomenon, its run [?] is brief – while Shiva is supposed to be immortal.


October 22, 1932

Absence of love and fellow-feeling is not necessary to the Divine nearness; on the contrary, a sense of closeness and oneness with others is a part of the divine consciousness into which the sadhak enters by nearness to the Divine and the feeling of oneness with the Divine. An entire rejection of all relations is indeed the final aim of the Mayavadin and in the ascetic Yoga an entire loss of all relations of friendship and affection and attachment to the world and its living beings would be regarded as a promising sign of advance towards liberation, mokṣa; but even there, I think, a feeling of oneness and unattached spiritual sympathy for all is at least a penultimate stage, like the compassion of the Buddhist, before the turning to Moksha or Nirvana. In this Yoga the feeling of unity with others, love, universal joy and Ananda are an essential part of the liberation and perfection which are the aim of the sadhana.

On the other hand, human society, human friendship, love, affection, fellow-feeling are mostly and usually – not entirely or in all cases – founded on a vital basis and are ego-held at their centre. It is because of the pleasure of being loved, the pleasure of enlarging the ego by contact and penetration with another, the exhilaration of the vital interchange which feeds their personality that men usually love – and there are also other and still more selfish motives that mix with this essential movement. There are of course higher spiritual, psychic, mental, vital elements that come in or can come in; but the whole thing is very mixed, even at its best. This is the reason why at a certain stage with or without apparent reason the world and life and human society and relations and philanthropy (which is as ego-ridden as the rest) begin to pall. There is sometimes an ostensible reason – a disappointment of the surface vital, the withdrawal of affection by others, the perception that those loved or men generally are not what one thought them to be and a host of other causes; but often the cause is a secret disappointment of some part of the inner being, not translated or not well translated into the mind, because it expected from these things something which they cannot give. It is the case with many who turn or are pushed to the spiritual life. For some it takes the form of a vairāgya [disgust] which drives them towards ascetic indifference and gives the urge towards Moksha. For us, what we hold to be necessary is that the mixture should disappear and that the consciousness should be established on a purer level (not only spiritual and psychic but a purer and higher mental, vital, physical consciousness) in which there is not this mixture. There one would feel the true Ananda of oneness and love and sympathy and fellowship, spiritual and self-existent in its basis but expressing itself through the other parts of the nature. If that is to happen there must obviously be a change; the old form of these movements must drop off and leave room for a new and higher self to disclose its own way of expression and realisation of itself and of the Divine through these things – that is the inner truth of the matter.

I take it therefore that the condition you describe is a period of transition and change, negative in its beginning, as these movements often are at first, so as to create a vacant space for the new positive to appear and live in it and fill it. But the vital, not having a long continued or at all sufficient or complete experience of what is to fill the vacancy, feels only the loss and regrets it even while another part of the being, another part even of the vital, is ready to let go what is disappearing and does not yearn to keep it. If it were not for this movement of the vital, (which in your case has been very strong and large and avid of life), the disappearance of these things would, at least after the first sense of void, bring only a feeling of peace, relief and a still expectation of greater things. What is intended in the first place to fill the void was indicated in the peace and joy which came to you as the touch of Shiva – naturally, this would not be all, but a beginning, a basis for a new self, a new consciousness, an activity of a greater Nature; as I told you, it is a deep spiritual calm and peace that is the only stable foundation for a lasting Bhakti and Ananda. In that new consciousness there would be a new basis for relations with others; for an ascetic dryness or isolated loneliness cannot be your spiritual destiny since it is not consonant with your svabhāva [essential nature] which is made for joy, largeness, expansion, a comprehensive movement of the life-force. Therefore do not be discouraged; wait upon the purifying movement of Shiva.


October 29, 1932

I quite understood your main point to which I shall answer, but there were many sub-issues which obscure the main one in your letter and I took the occasion to try to get rid of one of them, at once. For the moment I am answering only to your question about the music. Let me say at once that all of you seem to have too great an aptitude for making drastic conclusions on the strength of very minor facts. It is always perilous to take two or three small facts, put them together and build upon them a big inference. It becomes still more dangerous when you emphasise minor facts and set aside or belittle the meaning of the main ones. In this case the main facts are (1) that the Mother has loved music all her life and found it a key to spiritual experience, (2) that she has given all encouragement to your music in special and to the music of others also. She has also made clear the relation of Art and Beauty with Yoga. It is therefore rather extraordinary that anyone should think she only tolerates music here and considers it inconsistent with Yoga. It is perfectly true that Music or Art are not either the first or the only thing in life for her,– any more than Poetry or Literature are with me,– the Divine, the divine consciousness, the discovery of the conditions for a divine life are and must be our one concern, with Art, Poetry or Music as parts or means only of the divine life or expression of the Divine Truth and the Divine Beauty. That does not mean that they are only “tolerated”, but that they are put in their right place.

Then the minor facts and their significance.

The Mother limited the concerts to one hour because that was the utmost she could give to them in the afternoons for which they are fixed and that meant checking a very natural tendency to spread over a greater length of time. On this occasion she first wanted it to be a half an hour affair because the more important occasion was to be reserved for November. But it was found that certain very undesirable psychological movements were tending to appear which would turn the occasion not into a part of the preparation for true expression or a part of the Yoga, but an occasion for the exhibition of a very mundane, almost professional egoism, vanity, rivalry, anger and spite at one’s talent being “neglected” etc. It was decided that this anti-Yogic stuff should not be allowed to mix with the atmosphere of the 24th November185 and therefore the Sunday concert could be lengthened out and the November one dropped – and this was what was written to Venkataraman. It is not an objection to music that the decision represented, but an objection to bringing into music here these very undivine and unyogic and, if human, yet not very reputably human elements and movements. The Mother said nothing to you about it because that thing did not directly concern you and she did not besides care to make the causes of the change public.

Let us have music by all means; but music of rhythm and harmony in the atmosphere!


October 29, 1932

Khitish Sen’s sonnet is a good poem – he should write more Bengali poetry. As for the substance it expresses not so much a sign of the sceptic as the attitude of the vital man to whom unmixed happiness, joy, unity, a life without suffering, strife and unrest would seem quite unsatisfying; he complains of pain and sorrow when they come and rages against God and Fate; but if they are not there with the excited joys that are their accompaniments, he feels life dull and neutral and pale – excitement is his only stimulus enabling him to live, as the drunkard cannot do without wine.

It is not possible to answer immediately your long letter. But I do not find your argument from numbers very convincing. Your 999,999 people would also prefer a jazz and turn away from Beethoven or only hear him as a duty and would feel happy in a theatre dance-tune and cold and dull to the music of Tansen. They would also prefer (even many who pretend otherwise) a catching theatre song to one of Dwijendralal’s songs and probably Satyen Dutt’s verses to yours – which proves to the hilt that Beethoven, Tansen, Dwijendralal and yourself are pale distant highbrow things, not the real, true, human, joy-giving stuff. In the case of Yogic or divine peace, which is not something neutral, but intense, overwhelming and positive (the neutral quiet is only a first or preparatory stage), there is this further disadvantage that your millions minus one have never known Yogic peace, and what then is the value of their turning away from what they never experienced and could not possibly understand even if it were described to them? The man of the world knows only vital excitement and pleasure or what he can get of it, but does not know the Yogic peace and joy and cannot compare; but the Yogin has known both and can compare. I have never heard of a Yogin who got the peace of God and turned away from it as something poor, neutral and pallid, rushing back to cakes and ale. If satisfaction in the experience is to be the test, Yogic peace wins by a hundred lengths. However, you write as if I said peace was the one and only thing to be had by Yoga. I said it was a basis, the only possible secure basis for a fulfilled intensity of bhakti and Ananda. This is all by the way only.


November 1, 1932

Your dreams were very beautiful and, symbolically, very true. By the way, let me repeat, they were not really dreams; the state between sleep and waking or which is neither sleep nor waking is not a dozing but an inward gathered consciousness, quite as much awake as the waking mind, but awake in a different plane of experience.

As for the dream of the cobra, it could be taken as an answer to your own plaints against the Divine being grim and solemn and refusing to play and your remark that if you could have the faith that the troubles were a part of the Divine plan leading you through them to the Divine, you would be more at ease. The answer of the symbolic experience was that the Divine can play if you know how to play with him – and bear his play on your shoulders; the cobras and the bite indicate that what seems to you in the vital painful and dangerous may be the very means of bringing you the ecstasy of the Divine Presence.

Less generally the cobras are the forces of the evolution, the evolution towards the Divine. Their taking the place of the legs means that their action here takes place in the physical or material consciousness, in the evolution of the external mind, vital, physical towards the experience of the Divine and of the Divine Nature. The bite of the cobras (Shiva’s cobras!) does not kill, or it only kills the “old Adam” in the being; their bite brings the ecstasy of the presence of the Divine – that which you felt coming upon your head as trance waves. It is this trance ecstasy that has descended upon you each time you went inside or were even on the point of going inside in meditation. It is the universal experience of sadhaks that a power or consciousness or Ananda like this first comes from above – or around – and presses on or surrounds the head, then it pierces the skull as it were and fills first the brain and forehead, then the whole head and descends occupying each centre till the whole system is full and replete. (Of course there are or can be preliminary rushes occupying the whole body for a time or some other part of the system most open and least resistant to the influence.)

I repeat what I have said before (though your physical mind does not yet believe) that these experiences show at once that your inner being is a Yogi capable of trance, ecstasy, intensest bhakti, fully aware of Yoga and Yogic consciousness, and showing himself the very moment you get inside yourself, even as the outer man is very much the other way round, modernised, externalised, vigorously outward-vital (for the Yoga is inward-vital and psychic) and knowing nothing of Yoga or the world of inner experience. I could see at once when I saw you that there was this inner Yogi and your former experiences here were quite convincing to anyone who knows anything at all about these things. When there is this inner Yogi inside, the coming to the way of Yoga is sure and not even the most externalised surface consciousness – not even a regular homo Russellicus outside, and you are not that, only a little Russellicatus on the surface,– can prevent final success in the Yoga. But the tussle between the inward and the outward men can create a lot of trouble, because the inward man pushes towards the Divine and will not let go and the outward man regrets, refuses, pulls back, asks what is this shadowy thing to which he is being brought, this Unknown, this (to him) far-off Ineffable. That, and not merely sex, food or society, is the genesis of the struggle and trouble in you. And yet it is all a misunderstanding – for if the outer gave entirely to the inner Yogi, he would find that what he lost or thought he was losing could be repaid a hundredfold – though he would get it in another spirit and consciousness, not any longer the transient and deceptive delight of the world for its own sake, but the delight of the Divine in the world, a thousand times more intense, sweet and desirable.


November 1, 1932

(from Mother)

You can be reassured – it is quite certain that Sri Aurobindo cannot make such a mistake! As he says that you are sure to succeed, it means that you will succeed and become quite a good yogi after all.

Don’t let troubles and difficulties depress you. The greater the difficulties the greater the victory hereafter.


November 2, 1932

I suppose your letter was written for relief more than for an answer; for it raises the whole question of the meaning of this creation which does not admit of a summary reply or solution! I will only say that it is not merely to encourage you that I speak of the Yogin within you or of your [?] in Yoga. I write according to my seeing and my experience and knowledge,– which I think is not superficial or little. As for the rarity of these strongly indicative experiences, that makes no difference to their evidential value; it is the quality and force of meaning of the experience and not the quantity or number that matters. In the early stages, before the wall of the outer nature goes down under the inner pressure, strong experiences are apt to be espacées [spaced out] or rare.

I may say also that I did not leave politics because I felt that I could do nothing there; such an idea was very far from me. I came away because I did not want anything to interfere with my Yoga and because I got a very distinct ādeśa [command] in the matter. I have cut connection entirely with politics, but before I did so I knew from within that the work I had begun there was destined to be carried forward on lines I had foreseen by others and that the ultimate triumph of the movement I had initiated was sure without my physical action or presence. There was not the least motive of despair or sense of futility behind my withdrawal. For the rest I have never known any will of mine for one major event in the conduct of world affairs to fail in the end, although it may take a long time for the world-forces to fulfil it. As for the possibility of failure in my spiritual work I shall deal with that another time. Difficulties there are, but I see no cause for pessimism or for the certification of failure.


November 3, 1932

I can only repeat for the moment that the capacity, not the faint possibility is there in you in spite of the strong resistance. As for sending you away, there is no fear of that, it is quite impossible. And since you are yourself determined to remain and see it through, success is sure whatever the difficulties or their source. If the opening does not come to you from within by your own effort, it will come to you, as it is coming to others after a long sterility, of itself from above.


November 1932 (?)

You need not be anxious; Shiva won’t mind at all. He butted in quite benevolently and disinterestedly in order to remove obstacles that were proving too obstinate – probably the stiff neck was only the “tautness” getting thrown out into the external nature from inside.

I agree that the “Bairagi” is the most finished and richest of the series – a consummate achievement.


November 4, 1932

A new birth to fearless equanimity – it is a very good idea. Why so much nervousness about a wrung neck – a neck wrung by Shiva ought afterwards to be as strong as the neck of Atlas or even of Sheshnaga [the king of snakes].

I am reading your printed poems and notice the devilries of the printer. There is one in the English translation – for I stood aghast before a “hand of empty dreams” – and this singular hand was plural! It took me a minute to discover that the Devil’s own had turned a collective band into a plural hand. “A hand of empty dreams” – how gloriously poetic and modernistically full of a meaningless significance!

The Mother says that, if you want, you can come to her for a short time tomorrow morning at 9.15 (Saturday).

P.S. Of course, Prabodh Sen is right. I suppose what Buddhadev means is that none of the very great poets invented a metre – they were all too lazy and preferred stealing other people’s rhythms and polishing them up to perfection, just as Shakespeare stole all his plots from whoever he could find any worth stealing. But all the same, if that applies to Shakespeare, Homer, Virgil, what about Alcaeus, Sappho, Catullus, Horace? They did a good deal of inventing or of transferring – introducing Greek metres into Latin, for example. I can’t spot a precedent in modern European literature but there must be some. And after all, hang precedents! A good thing – I mean, combining metre invention with perfect poetry – would be still a good thing to do even if no one had had the good sense to do it before.


November 5, 1932

Yes, you can put in the Peace letter.

After all, you have at least one poem in laghu-guru sufficiently long and with a sufficiently plastic flow to test the question whether the quantitative movement can be applied in Bengali to other than songs and short lyrics. It seems to me that the answer must be in the affirmative.


November 6, 1932

I was not thinking of Tagore’s lyrics from the point of view of their music, but as poetry – that is why I used the word “lyrics” which can refer to a poem as poem only. However, if there is likely to be a misunderstanding, you can substitute Dwijendralal for Tagore. Your remark on Bengali musical taste is gratifying to me personally, for I always had an idea that it was like that; Bengali music of the day – I was told it was the new style – seemed to me flat, empty and unprofitable; but I kept my impression to myself, as I had no knowledge of music and doubted my possession of that useful appendage, an ear. I began to think, however, that I had at least an instinct in its place.


November 7, 1932

It is very good. Shiva has a reason for all he does and a good (beneficent) reason even when one can’t make out what he is doing and why. He is generally too busy to stop and explain as Krishna sometimes (but not by any means always) takes the trouble to do. It is true he is said to have spouted out the greater part of the Tantras to Parvati, but that was probably when he had nothing else to do.

I am glad to see that this working repeats itself,– for behind it is a great preparation of the consciousness which is quite indispensable.


November 13, 1932

It is a very successful rhythm indeed and, as far as I can judge solves the question – for it is not a Sanskrit metre transfused into Bengali, but something that sounds like a natural and native movement throughout. It looks to me as if you had done the trick!

As to Aurobindo Bose, I am doubtful. One would judge him from his letter to be a man vitally divided and unstable. And this allusion to a mess from which suicide seemed for a time the only issue is not very encouraging. It seems to me that you could write to him that coming here and staying in the Ashram is a step that should not be taken lightly and that, for that reason, permission is not given as a rule unless one is already a disciple or strongly called to the Yoga. (I would rather not have doubtful or complicated people just now – this November we are drawing a limiting circle for the darshan.)


November 16, 1932

Yes, the poem is a great success both in poetry and rhythm – the new version of the last stanzas is an improvement.

To get rid of the random thoughts of the surface physical mind is not easy. It is sometimes done by a sudden miracle as in my own case, but that is rare. Some get it done by a slow process of concentration, but that may take a very long time. It is easier to have a quiet mind with things that come in passing on the surface, as people pass in the street, and one is free to attend to them or not – that is to say, there develops a sort of double mind, one inner silent and concentrated when it pleases to be so, a quiet witness when it chooses to see thoughts and things,– the other meant for surface dynamism. It is probable in your case that this will come as soon as these descents of peace, intensity or Ananda get strong enough to occupy the whole system.


November 19, 1932

I really don’t know, my dear Dilip, why you read into what I have written such extravagant things which I certainly never intended to be there. I was trying to explain in one letter why, practically, the Mother could not see anyone until she was strong enough; why should you deduce from it a principle intended to govern her action for all the future? I did not at all mean that you were henceforth to be confounded in the mass and never see the Mother in private! I have not, I think, anywhere insisted on “a silent expressionless love” and I cannot even remember having used the phrase. On the contrary, I thought I had made it clear, first that divine love and psychic love both needed a complete expression and that vital and physical love were their necessary complements and were both a part of that complete expression. At any rate, if that was not clear in my letter, I want to make it clear now,– as also that physical darshan, etc. are quite legitimate means of expression of the psychic love itself and, a fortiori, of the complete love which embraces all the parts of the nature. Therefore, you were never asked to stop seeing the Mother and to give up all personal private contact with her; on the contrary when from some misunderstanding you made the proposal, both the Mother and myself strongly objected and said it would be a wrong movement. How then can you imagine that I wanted you to do anything of the kind? As for killing the vital, that would be an absolute contradiction to the whole principle of the sadhana and we would never dream of asking anybody to do such a thing. We have always said that the vital was absolutely indispensable to any realisation and without it nothing,– neither the Divine nor anything else – could be established in life. All that I ventured to suggest was that the vital movements which lead to trouble and suffering and disturbance should be eliminated or transformed as soon as possible, and even this I would not have stressed in your case if you had not had these violent fits of misery and despondency and what seemed to me unnecessary suffering. You can surely understand that I do not like to see you suffer and, knowing from long experience that it is the cravings and imagination of the lower vital consciousness that cause men needlessly to torture themselves, wanted you to get free from the cause. It was not the joy of seeing and talking with the Mother that I wanted you to suppress but this contrary element in you that makes you think she does not love you, does not want to see you or to smile on you, prefers others to yourself, etc., etc. However, I will not insist; I will wait for these disturbances to pass away from you in the due course of the Yoga, as the inner being develops and takes charge of the lower vital nature.

May I put in a plea for my poor Supramental against which you seem to have something like a grudge? I should like to say that the supramental is not something cold, distant and remote; on the contrary, when it descends into the physical, it will mean the full outflow and full completeness and expression of love on the vital and physical as well as on every other plane. And it is because I know it means this and many other desirable things that I am so insistent on bringing it down as soon as possible.

And let me say also that, as regards human love and divine love, I admitted the first as that from which we have to proceed and to arrive at the other, intensifying and transforming into itself, not eliminating human love. Divine Love in my view of it, is again not something ethereal, cold and far, but a love absolutely intense, intimate and full of unity, closeness and rapture using all the nature for its expression. Certainly, it is without the confusions and disorders of the present lower vital nature which it will change into something entirely warm, deep and intense; but that is no reason for supposing that it will lose anything that is true and happy in the elements of love.

Finally, I will call your attention to what I have said very plainly that you have in no degree contributed to bring about the Mother’s illness; why then persist in thinking that you have done so or may do it? As for my dark hints about the necessity of a radical change in the sadhana – I spoke, in fact, of a needed change in the inner attitude of the sadhaks,– it was not a reference to you, but to much that had been going wrong within the atmosphere. You yourself speak of certain persons shaping funnily before the eyes of all, especially during the Mother’s illness; there is nothing unreasonable in our wanting to make the inner mistakes to cease which cause such funny shapings to be possible. There is nothing in that that touches you or need alarm you.

I have not yet said anything about the Mother’s illness186 because to do so would have needed a long consideration of what those who are at the centre of a work like this have to be, what they have to take upon themselves of human or terrestrial nature and its limitations and how much they have to bear of the difficulties of the transformation. All that is not only difficult in itself for the mind to understand but difficult for me to write in such a way as to bring it home to those who have not our consciousness or our experience. I suppose it has to be written, but I have not yet found the necessary form or the necessary leisure.


November 22, 1932

I shall187 certainly do what I can to help you but it will be easier if you do what the Mother asked you to do – to “efface all that” from your mind instead of letting it return constantly upon it. It is no use making [a serious?] obstacle out of a passing trifle. As for the rest, I do not know that I can say anything new; I have tried to explain what was the difficulty in your way, but my explanations do not amount to much; one must see for oneself. You are right in praying to realise that difficulty, but if you could realise it without being carried away by the movement of depression, see it with calm and detachment, standing back from it,– it would be easier for you to get out of it or at least prevent it from recurring violently each time there is a movement towards experience But the despondency, the depression which takes hold of you and finds its own justifications for lasting comes [?] of your realising with the necessary calmness and detachment.

You know very well that I am not going to [send?] you stinging letters or take your name off the list. On our side our relation with you remains firm and you will always find from us an unwavering help and affection. I expect you to throw off these black clouds and [pass?] quickly into the sunlight. The road may be long and more difficult than you ever expected, but there is no true reason for despair.


November 24, 1932

The Mother has given “Bindu” his permission. For the moment I say nothing about him, for although one may form a fundamental impression for oneself in a moment’s contact amid a rush or stream of two hundred people, a deliberate judgment to be put on paper is quite another matter.

Of course Tagore’s worshippers will go for Prabodh Sen, what did you expect? Literary nature (artistic generally, or at least very often) is human nature at its most susceptible – genus irritabile vatum188. And besides where is the joy of literature if you cannot use your skill of words in pummelling some opposite faction’s nose? Man is a reasoning animal (perhaps?), but a belligerent reasoning animal and must fight with words if he cannot do it with fists, swords, guns or poison gas. All the more, I applaud your decision not to pursue farther the trairath [triple chariot].

I quite agree about the metre and its success. In this form the poem is still better than it was before.


December 1932

When the colours begin to take definite shapes it is a sign of some dynamic work of formation going on in the consciousness – a square, for instance, means that some kind of creation is in process in some field of the being; the square indicates that the creation is to be complete in itself. While the rectangle indicates something partial and preliminary. The waves of colour mean a dynamic rush of forces and the star may in such a context indicate the promise of the new being that is to be formed. The blue colour must here be the Krishna light – so it is a creation under the stress of Krishna light. All these are symbols of what is going on in the inner being, in the consciousness behind, and the results well up from time to time in the external or surface consciousness in such feeling as the awareness of a softening and opening which you had, devotion, joy, peace, Ananda, etc When the opening is complete, there is likely to be a more direct consciousness of the working that is going on behind till it is no longer behind but in the front of the nature.

The child is a very beautiful child and full of life, that is all that can be said for the moment.

I have read again the message of the yogi quoted in Madame Gold’s letter but apart from the context nothing much or very definite can be made out of it. There are two statements which are clear enough:

“In silence is wisdom” – it is in the inner silence of the mind that true knowledge can come; for the ordinary activity of the mind only creates surface ideas and representations which are not true knowledge. Speech is usually only the expression of the superficial nature – therefore to throw oneself out too much in such speech wastes the energy and prevents the inward listening which brings the word of true knowledge.

“In listening you will win what you are thinking of” means probably that in silence will come the true thought-formations which can effectuate or realise themselves. Thought can be a force which realises itself, but the ordinary surface thinking is not of that kind, there is in it more waste of energy than in anything else. It is in the thought that comes in a quiet or silent mind that there is power.

“Talk less and gain power” has essentially the same meaning. Not only a truer knowledge, but a greater power comes to one in the quietude and silence of a mind that, instead of bubbling on the surface, can go into its own depths and listen for what comes from a higher consciousness.

It is probably this that is meant – these are things known to all who have some experience of Yoga.


December 1932

The Synthesis of Yoga is being revised and largely rewritten for publication; so I don’t think it is possible to send out copies of it like this. For the moment the revision has been stopped, because I have not a moment free, but I hope to resume it shortly; the publishers are in fact pressing for the book. It was why I wrote to Jyoti that it could not be sent outside.

Your poem and its metre are very fine. The rhythm has to my ear a truly inspired long and wide and full movement, with an organic harmony which is admirable.

Depreciation of Bankim is absurd; he is and will always rank as one of the great creators and his prose stands among the ten or twelve best prose-styles in the world’s literature.


December 2, 1932

The difficulty of getting the inner being out on the surface is no doubt very strong as is usually the case with all who have lived very much in the active mind and in outward things. There are other here who are considered good sadhaks who are or were in the same case. But that can be overcome only by a long and patient pressure. The more important thing for you is to refuse to be overcome by the reaction that comes after an experience – to take it as a sign of hope rather than meet it with a reaction of disappointment and sense of failure.

As to Putu’s189 collapse, I did not intend to say anything about it just now,– for mental discussion of causes and consequences is not of much help at this juncture. I must say however that it is not the push for union with the Divine nor is it the Divine Force that leads to madness – it is the way in which people themselves act with regard to their claim for these things. To be more precise, I have never known a case of collapse in Yoga – as opposed to mere difficulty or negative failure,– a case of dramatic disaster in which there was not one of three causes – or more than one of the three at work. First, some sexual aberration – I am not speaking of mere sexuality which can be very strong in the nature without leading to collapse – or an attempt to sexualise spiritual experience on an animal or gross material basis; second, an exaggerated ambition, pride or vanity trying to seize on spiritual force or experience and turn it to one’s own glorification – ending in megalomania; third, an unbalanced vital and a weak nervous system apt to follow its own imaginations and unruled impulses without any true mental will or strong mental will to steady or restrain it, and so at the mercy of the imaginations and suggestions of the adverse vital world when carried over the border into the intermediate zone of which I spoke in a recent message. All the causes of collapse in this Ashram190 have been due to these three causes – to the first two mostly. Only three or four of them have ended in madness – and in these the sexual aberration was invariably present; usually a violent fall from the Way is the consequence. Putu’s is no exception to the rule. It is not because she pushed for union with the Divine that she went mad, but because she misused what came down for a mystic sexuality and the satisfaction of megalomaniac pride, in spite of my repeated and insistent warnings. For the moment that is all the light I can give on the matter – naturally I generalise and avoid details.


December 13, 1932

Krishnaprem’s letter is quite sound throughout as usual as he has evidently a living knowledge about the spiritual consciousness and spiritual experience. I return the manuscript page – the word is “adhyatmikisers”, those who adhyatmikise, the theorists of the philosophico-spiritual Abstract. (Naturally, those who “kise” or “cise” too much about things, the doctrinaires, are always falling into absurdities like the one he notes.) I keep the typescript as I have still to read the letter to the Mother and I shall comment further when I return it.


December 14, 1932

Herewith the photos and correspondence. It is certainly better not to dwell on the difficulties or give them too much force, because, our experience shows us, to do so helps to make them return like a recurring decimal. The Coué formula191 is too crude and simple to be entirely true in principle, but it has a great practical force and behind it there is a very great truth in a world and a consciousness governed by the Overmind Maya: it is this that what we oppose strongly gets power to persist in the consciousness and experience and calls circumstances to its support, what we deny and reject and refuse to support by the power of the Word, tends, after a time and some resistance, to lose force in the consciousness and the circumstances and movements that support it tend also to recur less often and finally disappear. It is fundamentally the principle of the mantra. On that ground I approve of your resolution not to give any more the avalambana [support] of the written word to these things. A constant affirmation from within on the other side – of that which is to be realised – brings always in the end a response from above.


December 17, 1932

Yes, I propose to comment on Krishnaprem’s letter because what he says is not only true but very much to the point and needs stressing.

The depression of the vital you feel is a continuation of the old feeling in the struggle, but you must reject it and make of it a diminishing movement. The past in Yoga is no guide to the future. For what happened in the past was due to temporary and not permanent causes and to eliminate them is the very purpose of the sadhana.


December 17, 1932

There is no reason why you should stop writing letters – it is only one kind of letter that is in question and that is not a very good means of contact; you yourself felt the reaction was not favourable. I asked you to write because your need of unburdening the perilous matter in you was very great at the time and, although it did not relieve you at once, it kept me exactly informed of the turns of the fight and helped me to put a certain pressure on the attacking forces at a critical moment. But I do not believe any of these necessities now exists. It is rather a discouragement from within yourself of the source of these movements that is now the need; but putting them into words would tend, as I have said, to give them more body and substance.

It is an undoubted fact proved by hundreds of instances that for many the exact statement of their difficulties to us is the best and often, though not always, an immediate, even an instantaneous means of release. This has often been seen by sadhaks not only here, but far away, and not only for inner difficulties, but for illness and outer pressure of unfavourable circumstances. But for that a certain attitude is necessary – either a strong faith in the mind and vital or a habit of reception and response in the inner being. Where this habit has been established, I have seen it to be almost unfailingly effective, even when the faith was uncertain or the outer expression in the mind vague, ignorant or in its form mistaken or inaccurate. Moreover, this method succeeds most when the writer can write as a witness of his own movements and state them with an exact and almost impartial precision, as a phenomenon of his nature or the movement of a force affecting him from which he seeks release. On the other hand, if in writing his vital gets seized by the thing he is writing of and takes up the pen for him,– expressing and often supporting doubt, revolt, depression, despair, it becomes a very different matter. Even here sometimes the expression acts as a purge; but also the statement of the condition may lend energy to the attack, at least for the moment, and may seem to enhance and prolong it, exhausting it by its own violence perhaps for the time and so bringing in the end a relief, but at a heavy cost of upheaval and turmoil – and the risk of the recurring decimal movement, because the release has come by temporary exhaustion of the attacking force, not by rejection and purification through the intervention of the Divine Force with the unquestioning assent and support of the sadhak. There has been a confused fight, an intervention in a hurly-burly, not a clear alignment of forces – and the intervention of the helping force is not felt in the confusion and the whirl. This is what used to happen in your crises; the vital in you was deeply affected and began supporting and expressing the reasonings of the attacking force,– in place of a clear observation and expression of the difficulty by the vigilant mind laying the state of things in the light for the higher Light and Force to act upon it, there was a vehement statement of the case for the Opposition. Many sadhaks (even “advanced”) had made a habit of this kind of expression of their difficulties and some still do it; they cannot even yet understand that it is not the way. At one time it was a sort of gospel in the Ashram that this was the thing to be done,– I don’t know on what ground, for it was never part of my teaching about the Yoga,– but experience has shown that it does not work; it lands one in the recurring decimal notation, an unending round of struggle. It is quite different from the movement of self-opening that succeeds, (here too not necessarily in a moment, but still sensibly and progressively) and of which those are thinking who insist on every thing being opened to the Guru so that the help may be more effectively there.

It is inevitable that doubts and difficulties should arise in so arduous an undertaking as the transformation of the normal nature of man into the spiritual nature, the replacement of his system of externalised values and surface experience into profounder inner values and experience. But the doubts and difficulties cannot be overcome by giving them their full force; it can be rather done by learning to stand back from them and to refuse to be carried away; then there is a chance of the still small voice from within getting itself heard and pushing out these louder clamorous voices and movements from outside. It is the light from within that you have to make room for; the light of the outer mind is quite insufficient for the discovery of the inner values or to judge the truth of spiritual experience.


December 18, 1932

In the typed letter192 I have tried to explain the rationale of this matter of expression or non-expression of the difficulties that assail one in the Yoga. I don’t know whether I have been able to make it clear. But in any case it is not really a matter of principle, but of the needs of the case and the moment. You had to write at that time and to have been silent would have been more prejudicial than writing all that was coming up in you. But now I feel that you are right in not doing so any longer. It is necessary to establish in its place a habit of conscious inner response, that is really the thing truly helpful – and if you silence the itch of the outer reason, as you say you feel now disposed to do, and count upon a more inner development, that can be done. It is not that you do not respond, I have seen that you do, but the activity of the mind struggling to solve its own difficulties and the vital’s has stood a good deal in the way both of the quickness of the response and of your being conscious of it on the surface. What I want to say is that there is a deeper Light than the outer reasons in yourself, and it is getting access to that that is the most important thing for you to do. With this Light open in you, love and bhakti and Ananda will be more easy to feel and retain, for it is this that creates their needed atmosphere.


December 24, 1932

Today a Kanchenjungha of correspondence has fallen on my head, so I could not write about humanity and its progress. Were not the later views of Lowes Dickinson greyed over by the sickly cast of a disappointed idealism? I have not myself an exaggerated respect for humanity and what it is – but to say that there has been no progress is as much an exaggerated pessimism as the rapturous hallelujahs of the nineteenth century to a progressive Humanity were an exaggerated optimism. However of that later, if it may be; if I don’t get on my head too persistent an avalanche of Kanchenjungas.

I shall manage to read through the chapter you sent me, though how I manage to find time for these things is a standing miracle and a signal proof of a Divine Providence.

Yes, the “progress” you are making is of the genuine kind,– the signs are recognisable. And after all, the best way to make Humanity progress is to move on oneself – that may sound either individualistic or egoistic, but it isn’t: it is only common sense.

Yadyadācarati śreṣṭastattadevetaro janaḥ.195


December 24, 1932

I had already read most of the article in the magazine – I read the whole or rather rushed through it this time; it is clear enough, I find. Who by the way are the friendly people who find your poems trashy and my approval partial – is it our dear X of Saturday fame? It sounds like his style. Such appreciations are after all part of the familiar savour of life and we should perhaps miss them if they were not there! It is argued by the philosophers that everything that exists has a use, so why not Sajani also?


December 26, 1932

I read in the papers a recent letter published from Subhash to a friend of his wherein he writes his prayer is “Let thy will be done.” I was anxious to read this – as a surgeon from Calcutta suggested an operation for application of oxygen whatever that might mean. I will pray.

But in the meanwhile could you possibly make an exception in his case? I want to send him the Chapter I Saurin typed. It will, I am sure, be just the aliment for his soul and may work a sort of miracle as it did in me (combined with Krishnaprem’s letter – what about comments thereon though? Pardon me for reminding in spite of my knowledge that you have a Kanchenjunga of correspondence!) He will return it if you wish it to be returned and I think it is extremely beautiful as it is. So unless you have a particular reason you could see your way to allowing me to send him this Chapter by tomorrow’s post.

I saw the star and colours all right and the bells are loud. I am feeling joyful only Subhash’s case has countered it somewhat. I owe such a lot to him in life. How I wish sometimes or rather imagine sometimes my tending him by his sickbed. Please excuse me if I speak a bit too much of him. But you will surely understand and allow for my human tenderness for him. I can’t contemplate his death yet a la Gita.

I am not sure that Subhash is prepared to receive any effect from it – it is only because your inner preparation had proceeded to a point at which you could feel something of what was behind the words that it had an effect upon you. All the same – you can send it, if you like.


December 28, 1932

The desire for the Divine or for bhakti for the Divine is the one desire which can free one from all the others – at the core it is not a desire, but an aspiration; a soul need, the breath of existence of the inmost being, and as such it cannot be counted among desires, kāmanār madhye nay.


December 30, 1932

I have compared your translations with the original; you have taken the sense and put it into the poetic form in Bengali with your usual combination of fidelity and felicity. Very well done indeed!

No, I don’t think there is too much uchchvās.

As for the “spectator” and the coils of the dragon, it is the Chino-Japanese image for the world-force extending itself in the course of the universe and this expresses the attitude of the witness seeing it all and observing in its unfolding the unrolling of the play of the Divine Lila [play]. It is this attitude that gives the greatest calm, peace, samatā [equanimity] in face of the riddle of the cosmic workings. It is not meant that action and movement are not accepted but they are accepted as the Divine Working which is leading to ends which the mind may not always see at once, but the soul divines through all the supreme purpose and the hidden guidance.

Of course, there is afterwards an experience in which the two sides of the Divine Whole, the Witness and the Player, blend together; but this poise of the spectator comes first and leads to that fuller experience. It gives the balance, the calm, the increasing understanding of soul and life and their deeper significances without which the full supramental experience cannot come.


1932 (?)

(Sri Aurobindo’s translation of Dilip’s poem)


At the mobile passion of thy tread the cold snows faint and fail,

Hued by thy magic touches shimmering glow the horizons pale

The heavens thrill with thy appeal, earth’s grey moods break and die,

In nectarous sound thou lav’st men’s hearts with thy voice of Eternity,

All that was bowed and rapt lifting clasped hands out of pain and night,

How hast thou filled with murmuring ecstasy, made proud and bright!

Thou hast chosen the grateful earth for thy own in her hour of anguish and strife,

Surprised by thy rapid feet of joy, O Beloved of the Master of Life.

To the above this reply came to me: Man has tested Divine grace most – in order to bring into boldest relief its marvel and miracle. I wonder if my answer is true?

Your answer is not only fine poetry but it is a true explanation of the descent of the soul into the Ignorance. It is the adventure into the Night (the introduction of the Light, Joy, Immortality) to see whether they cannot be established there – so that there may be a new experience of the Divine and joy of the Divine through separation and union (or reunion) on a new basis. It is what I have hinted at in the Riddle of This World.


1933 (?)

Each has his own periods of fulfilment and difficulty, his own distinct course and times and seasons of the sadhana.


1933 (?)

(Dilip had written that Jyoti was constantly shocked that people should lie, “But while we all agree that we all lie she seems to think that she is incapable of lying!”)

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!


June 1933 (?)

No, certainly not. If you gave my name, it would be as if I were advertising myself in your book. I did not care to have anything of the kind written, as I told you, because I do not think these things are of any importance. I merely wrote, in the end, a brief summary of the most outward facts, nothing inward or personal, because I have seen that many legends and distortions are afloat, and this will at least put things in the straight line. If you like, you can mention that it is a brief statement of the principal facts of Sri Aurobindo’s public life from an authoritative source.

Necessarily I have mentioned only salient facts, leaving out all mere details. As for an estimate of myself I have given none. In my view, a man’s value does not depend on what he learns or his position or fame or what he does, but on what he is and inwardly becomes, and of that I have said nothing. I do not want to alter what I have written. If you like you can put a note of your own to the “occidental education” stating that it included Greek and Latin and two or three modern languages, but I do not myself see the necessity of it or the importance.


1933 (?)

Yes, you can take the morning tea as you propose with Saurin and the others. You need have no scruples about that.

There is no harm in the vital taking part in the joy of the rest of the being; it is the participation of the vital that makes it dynamic and communicates it to the external nature.

I shall certainly reply about Madame Gold, but these two days I could not as there were too many letters asking for an immediate answer.



I suppose you can publish the two letters, with the omission you have marked in one of them; I had some hesitation about the passage on Russell, as it is rather personal, but I suppose it does not matter. Your book will at least be striking by variety – apart from the merit of your poems – with all these things in it – including the Rishi and its translation, which must make a rather big morsel.

Keep out the intruder! And let the star of Truth and Bhakti grow in you.


1933 (?)

As yesterday in spite of the new arrangements was almost a typical Monday, I could not do anything – today I have read the second instalment of your poem and part of the third,– up to now it amply fulfils the first promise – but could not finish, unless I chose to gallop through, which would not be a pleasant haste – so I prefer to make you wait. Even as it is, I would have preferred to read more slowly, because going quickly I miss many things. Nolini has given me the typed draft of “Nirvana” – I shall correct it as soon as I have finished your poem and shall complete “Harmony” – it may take me two or three days – for nowadays I am writing slowly.

(...) Murala has written accordingly to us asking for permission to come in a mood of effervescent joy and expectation. This is the deuce of a fix. Apart from all other awkwardnesses196, the Mother has no place to put them in – not a place anywhere that is suitable. In fact it is likely that the whole Ashram will be occupied this time. Dr. Mandal and his family are coming and will take the Cocotiers and so on. If we give permission, it means that Maya and they will have to take a separate house – with all that that means – supposing a suitable house is available anywhere near. To refuse is difficult, to permit is difficult. It is the position of the cleft stick – and there we are!



I suppose the English and French197 can go side by side – but the French should be revised by someone who knows how the language is printed – otherwise the divisions of words, etc. will be all wrong. If you send your proof copy here, the Mother will get it done by Pavitra. Yes Anjali is a very good heading for the translations.

I have read today along with the original your translation of the prayer in Page 373. It is a very fine poem, but it seems to me there are several touches which are more buoyant and hopeful and confident than the atmosphere of the original would tolerate. That atmosphere is one of abandonment, darkness, where all the circumstances justify despair – with it resignation, faith in the eventual utility of it all, a stoic-spiritual courage to go through, but all these like a flame burning under the weight of the thick darknesses – not the sense of an immediate help or even prayer or call for it or of any unsparing victory [shata jay] as in the translation. I mention this because it seems to me to give a less powerful, sombre and grandiose note to the mood expressed in the poem than that expressed in the original prayer.



Herewith your proofs. Truly a fine and masterly achievement!


1933 (?)

I send you back your father’s poem in the translation with a closer rendering of the cloud and grove lines to replace my sublimation of Fried Das. Khitish Sen’s renderings of Mirabai are very good and I have only made a few verbal alterations.

You have made a very fine and true rendering of the “Vedantin’s Prayer”198. Perhaps so high and rocky a person as the Vedantin, who is very much of a converted Titan, would not have thought of such a sweet and luxurious word as kusumi [flowering] in the midst of his ascent and struggle, but these few alterations do not make any real difference to the spirit. There is quite sufficient nobility and power in your translation. With that, it seems to me as literal as it can be.

I enclose the Mother’s chit for the pillow-cases.

By the way, I forgot to say anything about the Conversations for Harin,– Mother will send a copy... [incomplete].


1933 (?)

Khitish Sen’s translation of the opening lines of the Vedantins Prayer is magnificently done. He has quite caught the tone of the original, its austerity and elevation of thought and feeling and severe restraint of expression with yet a certain massiveness of power in it,– these at least were what tried to come out when I wrote it, and they are all unmistakably and nobly there in his rendering. If he can complete it without falling from the high force of this opening, it will be a chef d’œuvre. I notice he has got the exactly corresponding verse movement also. Yours is a fine poem, but I agree with you that this is at once poetic in a high degree and renders more closely the innate character of the... [incomplete].


1933 (?)

Khitish Sen’s translation is indeed a very good poem – and the more remarkable as an achievement because he renders, except in one or two places, with a great closeness. How is it that with such a gift he does not write more in Bengali?

A copy of the Conversations can be given to your young friend, S. Pradhan, but the Mother would prefer to do it not now, but as soon as he comes out from prison. Since he has gone there for civil Disobedience, it must be for a fixed time I suppose, not for this life and a little longer, like a detenu [prisoner]? For how long?


January 1933 (?)

I return Ashalata’s letter – certainly there seems to be a strength and substance in her intelligence which has an extraordinary promise for the future. I don’t know what were Lawrence’s ganglionic theories, but I am afraid the tangle of ganglia exist and are a more tragic obstacle to the human being than is realised by Aldous Huxley. His own famous novel (I have read only one) is really without his knowing it full of the tangle – so perhaps was the life of Lawrence.

As for your question about the relative value in work, it is not easy to make the Overmind view of these things comprehensible in mental language... [incomplete].


January 1933 (?)

Surely something is being done and the consciousness will emerge. The third eye takes time to open, but the opening must come.

Ashalata indeed writes well. But her thesis seems a little doubtful when we have so many cases crowding on us (Maya’s and others) which do not at all square with it. That without internal change external freedom is inutilisable is one side of the matter... [incomplete].


January 5, 1933

I cannot say that I follow very well the logic of your doubts. How does a brilliant scholar being clapped into prison invalidate the hope of the Yoga? There are many dismal spectacles in the world, but that is after all the very reason why Yoga has to be done. If the world were all happy and beautiful and ideal, who would want to change it or find it necessary to bring down a higher consciousness into the earthly Mind and Matter? Your other argument is that the work of the Yoga itself is difficult, not easy, not a happy canter to the goal. Of course it is, because the world and human nature are what they are. I never said it was easy or that there were not obstinate difficulties in the way of the endeavour. Again, I do not understand your point about raising up a new race by my going on writing trivial letters. Of course not – nor by writing important letters either; even if I were to spend my time writing fine poems it would not build up a new race. Each activity is important in its own place – an electron or a molecule or a grain may be small things in themselves, but in their place they are indispensable to the building up of a world,– it cannot be made up only of mountains and sunsets and streamings of the aurora borealis,– though these have their place there. All depends on the force behind these things and the purpose in their action – and that is known to the Cosmic Spirit which is at work,– and it works, I may add, not by the mind or according to human standards but by a greater consciousness which, starting from an electron, can build up a world and, using “a tangle of ganglia,” can make them the base here for the works of the Mind and Spirit in Matter, produce a Ramakrishna, or a Napoleon, or a Shakespeare. Is the life of a great poet either made up only of magnificent and important things? How many “trivial” things had to be dealt with and done before there could be produced a “King Lear” or a “Hamlet”? Again, according to your own reasoning, would not people be justified in mocking at your pother – so they would call it, I do not – about metre and scansion and how many ways a syllable can be read? Why, they might say, is Dilip Roy wasting his time in trivial prosaic things like this when he might have been spending it in producing a beautiful lyric or fine music? But the worker knows and respects the material with which he must work and he knows why he is busy with “trifles” and small details and what is their place in the fullness of his labour.

As for faith, you write as if I never had a doubt or any difficulty. I have had worse than any human mind can think of. It is not because I have ignored difficulties, but because I have seen them more clearly, experienced them on a larger scale than anyone living now or before me that, having faced and measured them, I am sure of the results of my work. But even if I still saw the chance that it might come to nothing (which is impossible), I would go on unperturbed, because I would still have done to the best of my power the work that I had to do and what is so done always counts in the economy of the universe. But why should I feel that all this may come to nothing when I see each step and where it is leading and every week, every day – once it was every year and month and hereafter it will be every day and hour – brings me so much nearer to my goal? In the way that one treads with the greater Light above, even every difficulty gives its help and has its value and Night itself carries in it the burden of the Light that has to be.

As for your own case, it comes to this that experiences come and stop, there are constant ups and downs, in times of recoil and depression no advance at all seems to have been made, there is as yet no certitude. So it was with me also, so it is with everyone, not with you alone. The way to the heights is always like that up to a certain point, but the ups and downs, the difficulties and obstacles are no proof that it is a chimera to aspire to the summits.


January 6, 1933

Yes, the metre is very successful and the poetry very fine. I do not find any substantial departure from the original199 in your version. I compared the other translation also with the original today and that too is admirable. At the end of the third stanza there, only, you indicate (if I mistake not) as the supreme grace the joy of a heart touched by the divine, while in the Prayer the supreme grace is that of seeing or being the cause of another heart awaking to the Divine’s touch. But perhaps it is not necessary to stress it here as it is brought out in the second stanza.

Krishnaprem has been crowded out (and still is) by so many other200 things! It is not forgetfulness, but absorption and burial under Kanchenjungas that has prevented me from writing him up as yet.


January 12, 1933

I am afraid I cannot endorse your reading of the situation, at least so far as the Mother and myself and the prospects of the work are concerned. I can agree only that we have had a heavy time of it recently and that there has been a strong attack on the plane of the physical and material – but that (heavy attacks) is a thing we have been accustomed to for the last 30 years and it has never prevented us from making any necessary advance. I have never had any illusions about the path being comfortable and easy – I knew all along that the work could only be done if all the essential difficulties rose and were faced – so their rising cannot tire or dishearten me, whatever obstinacy there may be in the difficulties, whether our own or in the Sadhaks or in Nature.

About the correspondence, I would be indeed a brainless fool if I made it the central aim of my life to [?] an absurd mountain of letters and leave all higher aims aside! If I have given importance to the correspondence, it is because it was an effective instrument towards my central purpose – there are a large number of sadhaks whom it has helped to awake from lethargy and begin to tread the way of spiritual experience, others whom it has carried from a small round of experience to a flood of realisations, some who have been absolutely hopeless for years who have undergone a conversion and entered from darkness into an opening of light. Others no doubt have not profited or profited only a little. Also there were some who wrote at random and wasted our time. But I think we can say that for the majority of those who wrote, there has been a real progress. No doubt also it was not the correspondence in itself but the Force that was increasing in its pressure on the physical nature which was able to do all this, but a canalisation was needed, and this served the purpose. There were many for whom it was not necessary, others for whom it was not suitable. If it had been a mere intellectual asking of questions it would have been useless, but the substantial part was about Sadhana and experience and it was that that proved to be of great use.

But as time went on the correspondence began to grow too much and reached impossible proportions – yet it was difficult to stop the flood or to make distinctions which would not have been understood – so we have to seek a way out and as yet have only found palliatives. The easy way would be if those who have opened would now rely mainly on the inner communication with only a necessary word now and then – some have begun to do so. I suppose in the end we shall be able to reduce the thing to manageable proportions.

I do not see how the method of faith in the cells can be likened to eating a slice of the moon. Nobody ever got a slice of the moon, but the healing by faith in the cells is an actual fact and a law of Nature and has been demonstrated often enough even apart from Yoga. The way to get faith and everything else is to insist on having them and refuse to flag or despair or give up until one has them – it is the way by which everything has been got since this difficult world began to have thinking and aspiring creatures upon it. It is to open always, always to the Light and turn one’s back on the Darkness. It is to refuse the voices that say persistently, “You cannot, you shall not, you are incapable, you are the puppet of a dream,” – for these are the enemy voices, they cut one off from the result that was coming by their strident clamour and then triumphantly point to the barrenness of the result as a proof of their thesis. The difficulty of the endeavour is a known thing, but the difficult is not the impossible – it is the difficult that has always been accomplished and the conquest of difficulties makes up all that is valuable in the earth’s history. In the spiritual endeavour also it shall be so.

No, I am not tired or on the point of giving up. I have made inwardly steps in front in the last two or three months which had seemed impossible because of the obstinate resistance for years together and it is not an experience which pushes me to despair and give up. If there is much resistance on one side, there have been large gains on the other – all has not been a picture of sterile darkness. You yourself are kept back only by the demon of doubt which bangs on you each door as you are opening it – you have only to set about resolutely slaying the Rakshasa and the doors will open to you as they have done to many others who were held up by their own mind or vital nature.


January 14, 1933

(from Mother)

I am very sorry you did not come yourself with the money, as I would have had an opportunity to tell and show you that your impression of this morning was mere imagination and a bad one too. I can assure you that I have been at pranam time exactly as I am every day, but I noticed sadness and unsatisfaction in your eyes, so it must be the very expression of your own eyes which you saw reflected in mine,– but it was not mine.

You ought to drop altogether and once for all this idea that I get displeased – it sounds to me so strange! If I could get thus displeased in presence of the human weaknesses, I would certainly not be fit to do the work I am doing, and my coming upon earth would have no meaning.

Do give up once for all this idea of defeat and this gloom which is so contrary to the inner truth of your being. I want you to pick yourself up and be perfectly cheerful and confident for your coming birthday.

I hope to see you entirely yourself again this evening from the roof and to-morrow at pranam and to have a happy and intimate talk with you on Monday.


January 24, 1933

I am not quite clear about what you exactly want me to do or yourself want to do with Humanity. I think you spoke of some tail to it (to replace the one it lost when it came down from the trees?) – but exactly what kind of tail? It seems complete without any... [incomplete].


January 27, 1933

I have read Prabodh Sen’s letter. I do not think anybody can read the poem Āgamani without coming to the same conclusion. His suggestion about sowing rhymes in suitable places is probably a good hint, but I doubt whether the omission of the terminal rhyme would be successful.

As for the question you put about easy rhythms and easy poetry, I will try to answer these tomorrow – as it is too late tonight to weigh and consider – and I don’t want to evade the question be taking refuge in Einsteinian relativity.


January 28, 1933

It is certainly not true that a good metre must necessarily be an easy metre – easy to read or easy to write. In fact, even with old-established perfectly familiar metres, how many of the readers of poetry have an ear which seizes the true movement and the whole subtlety and beauty of the rhythm – it is only in the more popular kind of poems that it gets in their hearing its full value. It is all the more impossible when you bring in not only new rhythms but a new principle of rhythm – or at least one that is not very familiar – to expect it to be easily followed at first by the many. It is only if you are already a recognised master that by force of your reputation you can impose whatever you like on your public – for then even if they do not catch your drift, they will still applaud you and will take some pains to learn the new principle. If you attempt to bring in the principle of laghu guru metres, you are imposing a principle not only of rhythm but of scansion to which the Bengali ear in spite of past attempts is not trained so as to seize the basic law of the movements in all its variations. A fair amount of incomprehension, some difficulty in knowing how to read the verse is very probable. A poem like Āgamanī, it seems to me, everybody ought to be able to catch on its movement,– even if some will not be able to scan it; but other difficult forms may give trouble. All that is no true objection, novelty is difficult for the human mind – or ear – to accept, but novelty is asked for all the same in all human activities for their growth, amplitude, richer life. As you say, the ear has to be educated – once it is trained, familiar with the principle, what was a difficulty becomes easy, the unusual, first condemned as abnormal or impossible, becomes a normal and daily movement.

As for the charge of being cryptic, that is quite another matter. On what does it base itself? Obscurity due to inadequate expression is one thing, but the cryptic may be simply the expression of more than can be seized at first sight by the ordinary mind. It may be that the ideas are not of a domain in which that mind is accustomed to move or that there is a new turn of expression other than the kind which it has been trained to follow. Again the ordinary turn of Bengali writing is lucid, direct, easy – in that it resembles French. If you bring into it a more intricate and suggestive manner in which the connections or transitions of thought are less obvious, that may create a difficulty. To which of these causes is the accusation of being cryptic due? Certainly not the first, since you are accused of having too adequate and not too inadequate a vocabulary. If it is any of the others, then the objection has no great force. One can be too easy to read, because there is not much in what one writes and it is exhausted at the first glance,– or too difficult because you have to burrow for the meaning. But otherwise it makes no difference to the excellence of the work, if the reader can catch its burden at the first glance or has to dwell a little on it for the full force of it to come to the surface. One has perhaps sometimes to do the latter in your poems, but I do not find anything unduly cryptic – certainly there is nothing that can be really called obscure. The feeling, the way of expression, the combinations of thought, word or image tend often to be new and unfamiliar, but that seems to me a strength and a merit, not an element of failure.


January 30, 1933

I return Buddhadev’s letter. I am afraid he is somewhat under the grip of what I may call the illusion of realism. What all artists do is to take something from life – even if it be only a partial hint – and transfer it by the magic of their imagination and make a world of their own; the realists, of various kinds, Zola, Tolstoi, etc. do it as much as anybody else. Each artist is a creator of his own world – why then insist on this legal fiction that the artist’s world must appear as an imitation of the actual world around us – for it is only an appearance? It may be constructed to look like that – but why must it be?201

As to your metres, it seems to me that in such cases as ānmane [in absent-minded state] and e bandhane [in this bondage] it depends on how the line is read. It is safer no doubt to effect a secure regularity in the metre, one takes less risks; but the chance of staking and revealing rhythmical effects is lessened – of course also the chance of disputable movements or evident stumbles.


February 1933 (?)

(About a translation of Lawrence’s prose poem in Suryamukhi)

A very fine translation. What a pity that Lawrence did not give his poetry a rhythmic form, that would have given it its full sound and sense-value and make it sure of immortality.


February 9, 1933

Very glad the dragons of the pressure are turning round and becoming lambs of docility and angels of blessings.

I have been glancing at odd times at Pansies202. Flashes of genius, much defiant triviality of revolt-stuff, queer straining after things not grasped, a gospel of “conscientious sensuality” rushing in at favourable opportunities – all in a formless deliberate disorder, that is the impression up till now – I shall wait to see if there is something else....

I return the extracts from Bijoychandra’s letters; they are certainly very interesting. The meed (or seal) of praise from minds of such ripe judgment is of a value that outgrows all incomprehension or objection by lesser minds.


February 11, 1933

I am glad to hear that your condition is shaping so well under the stress. Yes, Mother had a good impression both of your Chotamāsīmā [aunt] and Maitreyi and she was pleased also about Nalina203.

As to Asuras I don’t know. Not many of them have shown signs of repentance or possibility of conversion up to now. It is not surprising that they should be powerful in a world of Ignorance, for they have only to persuade people to follow the established bent of their lower nature, while the Divine calls always for a change of Nature. It is not to be wondered at that the Asura has an easier task and more momentary success in his combinations. But that temporary success does not bind the future.


February 15, 1933

I don’t think Rs.75 is a bit too much to ask for. As for the Hindi affair, it is worth while trying but – . Well, I suppose you know Byron’s verdict on publishers?

Your experience about the meditation is common enough. I used to have it or analogous things hundreds of times. I suppose it is to teach us first that grace is more effective than tapasya and, secondly, that either equanimity or a cheerful spontaneous happy self-opening is as effective, to say the least, as the grimmest wrestling for a result. But it would be dangerous to assume from that that no tapasya and no endeavour is needful – for that might very well mean inertia. I have seen too that very often a long tapasya with doubtful results prepares the moment of grace and the spontaneous downflow. All which seem to be contradictions, but are not in a whole view of things.

Mother will see about the time to be fixed for the music.


February 18, 1933

At least the inner being, the psychic, is nowadays sufficiently awake not to acquiesce in the “reasonings” of the vital – your dream was the voice of the inner being, its reply showing you the truth within you and the real demand of the spirit. It was the dissatisfaction of the soul with the superficial vital life that brought you away from the outer world and it is the same dissatisfaction a hundred times increased and accompanied with an intense psychic sorrow that would come on you if you went away from the Yoga.

Your vital mind (which is the one which revolts and doubts) has strange misconceptions about the spiritual state. There is no grimness in being an instrument of the divine Will – it is the happiest and most joyous condition possible – it brings not only peace but an intense Ananda. Anyhow, the hold of the Yoga-force is increasing in spite of everything and you have only to go on for it to solve the struggle between the outer man and the inner spirit.

P.S. Murala’s son has an interesting face and must have capacities, but he is not likely to have yogic tendencies just now.


February 1933 (?)

It is well that you found it out, but don’t let it depress you. It is by such flashes of clairvoyance that the remnants and hidden survivals of old habit and nature get exposed and have to leave. So you must not let it spoil this darshan. Also why give up music? It will be better to be more sparing of the soirees [evening gatherings] – Mother noticed that they often upset you or preceded an upsetting, that was why she asked you to tell her when they came.

I had just half an hour, so I send you the corrections of the poems.


February 20, 1933

Yes, you can send the flowers and the wire to Subhash. I note the names of those for whom you make the pranam the second time.

As for the doubts of which you have written, I cannot write much today for obvious reasons and in any case writing is not the remedy, though it may help and encourage – for these doubts rise not from the intellect but from the vital mind which sees things according to its condition and mood and needs something else than what the mind asks for to satisfy it. It is perfectly true that these reasonings have no force when the vital is in its true poise of love or joy or active and creative power, and when the vital is depressed then it is hard and seems sometimes impossible so long as the depression is there, to surmount the trouble. But still the clouds do not last for ever – and even one has a certain power in the mind to shorten the period of these clouds, to reject and dissipate them and not to allow them to remain until they disappear in the course of nature.

By all means use the method of japa and bhakti. I have never insisted on your using the method of dry or hard tapasya – it was some idea or feeling in your own mind that made you lay so much stress on it. There are some to whom it is natural and necessary for a time, but each ought to move in his own way and there is no one rule for all – even if the objective is and must be the same, contact and union and opening to the Divine.

In the end these doubts and depressions and despairs must cease. When the call of the soul perseveres, the response of the Divine must come.

Nahi kalyāṇakṛt kaścit durgatiṃ Pārtha (tāta) gacchati204


February 23, 1933

The question as it is put can admit of only one answer. I am not aware that nursery rhymes or folk songs take any important place or any place at all in the history of the prosody of the English language or that one starts the study of English metre by a careful examination of the rhythm of “Humpty Dumpty,” “Mary, Mary, quite contrary” or the tale of the old woman who lived in a shoe. There are many queer theories abroad nowadays in all the arts, but I doubt whether any English or French critic or prosodist would go so far as to turn to “Who killed Cock Robin?” for the true movement of English rhythm, putting aside Chaucer, Spenser, Pope or Shelley as too cultivated and accomplished or too much under foreign influence or seek for his models in popular songs or the products of the café chantant in preference to Hugo or Musset or Verlaine.

But perhaps something else is meant – is it that one gets the crude indispensable elements of metre better from primitive, just-shaped or unshaped stuff than from more perfect work in which these are overlaid by artistic developments and subtle devices – an embryo or a skeleton is more instructive for the study of men than the developed flesh-and-blood structure. That may have a certain truth in some lines of scientific research, but it cannot stand in studying the technique of an art. At that rate one would have to go for the basic principles of musical sound to the lullaby or the jazz or even to the hurdy-gurdy and for the indispensable rules of line and colour to the pavement-artist or to the sign-board painter. Or perhaps the suggestion is that here one gets the primary unsophisticated rhythms native to the language and free from the artificial movements of mere literature. Still, I hardly fancy that the true native spirit or bent of English metre is to be sought in

“Humpty Dumpty sat on a wall,

Humpty Dumpty had a great fall”

and is lost in

“Rarely, rarely, comest thou,

Spirit of Delight.”

Popular or nursery verse catches the child’s ear or the common ear much more easily than the music of poetry because it relies on a crude jingle or infantile lilt – not because it enshrines in its movement the true native spirit of the tongue. There seems to be the fallacy to think that the real spirit and native movement of a language can be caught only in crude or primitive forms and that it is disguised in the more perfect work in which it has developed its own possibilities to their full pitch, variety and scope.

As for foreign influences, most of the elements of English prosody, rhyme, foot-scansion, line-lengths, stanza-forms and many others have come in from outside and have altered out of all recognition the original mould, but the spirit of the language has found itself as much in these developments as in the first free alliterative verse – as much and more. The spirit of a language ought to be strong enough to assimilate any amount of imported elements or changes of structure and measure.


February 1933 (?)

... However. Let it ebb off and be stilled at that. I am now the soul of gentility once more – limpid like the Ganges water in winter, though not so cold.

I suppose it is all right now. All seems to have come back to poise. As for Nalina’s husband I dare say he is a good and righteous man, but I have noticed him as a signal example of how blind and ego-centred a good and righteous man can be. Of course I knew it before, but an example makes knowledge more living. However this is strictly between you and me.

A letter from Vidya this morning. I suppose you have no time still. No wonder – with all these goings-on!

You are right. I loaded [with trouble?] already, but with this [?] shower of letters!

Worked hard today: another long article – fairly. To revise it still tonight. Three long articles in four days, what? Energetic, no?



February 26, 1933

I return you Buddhadev’s and Ashalata’s letters. Evidently peace is a very great desideratum for all these people. It may be that poets and literary creators need to have a bad time and sensitive nerves and things and people grating on them in order to create? But after all there were some who took hold of life in a more masterly fashion. Why does Buddhadev allow himself to be so much upset by the attacks upon him? – it is a thing every rising genius has to face at one time or another, in one form or another. He should remain calm and live down the jealousy and enmity that well up from human nature around an increasing fame.


February 28, 1933

Your205 wail does not seem to me to have strong grounds for existence. You were beginning to go on very well with a turn towards a more consistent progress; at such periods suggestions like these come to interrupt the progress. One ought not to listen to them at all; they serve merely as disturbing factors. If the reasons alleged were sufficient to be a just ground for failure, all Yoga would be impossible for you or anybody. The persistence or the obstinate return of the old Adam is a common experience: it is only when there is a sufficient mass of experience and a certain progression of consciousness in the higher parts of the being that the lower can be really transmuted. It is that that one must allow to develop. It is quite out of place to worry about your continued predilection for Maya’s vegetables or teas or [?] laughter and thence deduce your incapacity for Yoga. It is not on these things that we have asked you to concentrate. It is the pressure of the Yoga shakti and the increase of the experiences that is wanted in your case, not this preoccupation with an external “grim” tapasya. It was coming – why stop it with these inopportune regrets and reasonings?


March 1933 (?)

Buddhadev can come; but you speak of a room. In the Ashram? That would hardly be possible, since he is neither a sadhak nor an intending sadhak, nor even an embryonic sadhak. Perhaps you hope he will tumble into Yoga or Yoga will tumble into him? but these are things possible but not to be counted on beforehand. If your description of him is accurate, he must be a complex nature and not prone to tumble.

Buddhadev has certainly remarkable powers; there are only two things that he has to acquire still, if he is to fulfil your prophecy, more of the “inevitable” in his language and rhythm, a greater power of what has been called architectonics in poetry – something that corresponds to design in painting and the arrangement of masses in architecture... [incomplete].


March 9, 1933

The translation seems quite feasible – at sight. But the points you mention may present difficulties; I think they can be overcome. One or two of your lines in the English version are too metaphorical for an occidental tongue. I shall see to all that – these things are never insuperable difficulties, one can either dynamite them, cut through or go round them or over.


March 10, 1933


A registered envelope came in which there was a receipt for the last quarterly tax of one of the houses which amounts to about Rs. 60 and Rs. 70 in banknotes, which makes Rs. 130. May I see you tomorrow for a minute to offer at your feet this Rs. 70?

Yes, just a little before [?].

The other tenant has suddenly promised to send me a big cheque. I am glad for the rent has been steadily running into arrears.

Could you send me a chit for Sarala.206 You see the silk my sister bought for me has more than sufficed for one Punjabi, so that a little remains over, with which a simple cap could be made, of a very simple sort and shape. I will send this shape or rather send Sarala a cap of mine so that she can make one exactly similar with the little piece that is left over.

Yes, a chit is enclosed.

Today I meditated well too, besides working rather hard. I am in good spirit. Only a slight granule still remains, it lessens but again grows big. No pain. I expect it will be all right in a few days. I am very careful.

I am translating the song on Saraswati and also writing its music as I want Nandini207 to play the accompaniment with Sahana, Maitreyi and Nalina who three will sing it together. They are singing it exquisitely. You will be pleased, I am sure.

I am looking forward to see the corrected version of the translation of my song on Shiva. I hope I’ll get it tomorrow. Then I will send my translation of Saraswati.

I will see tonight but I have my doubts whether I can finish.


March 20, 1933

(from Mother)

Dilip, (I almost feel inclined to add: big child!)

You are quite mistaken. I enjoyed your music very much; indeed it was quite beautiful. But as I am to see you tomorrow, I was keeping the subject for then – as I have some rather interesting details to give which, I think will please you, but would be somewhat too long to write. I can also explain better these things orally, give them with the voice a life that the pen can’t give. But I never expected that you would take such a short silence for a sign of indifference – as this was extremely far from my consciousness!

À demain donc, joyeusement [Tomorrow then, happily].

P.S. I leave to Sri Aurobindo to answer for himself – but meanwhile I can tell you that he praised your music very much.


March 20, 1933

Your sadness is without any real cause. Far from being without interest in your music, my interest was so great that I sat up during my time of sleep translating the “Saraswati” so that it might be in time for the occasion,– as I could not make any time for it in my working hours. And I had already written to someone who asked the question that the music yesterday (your song especially and Sahana’s) had even exceeded in feeling and significance anything we had yet had and that he was right in feeling in it the effective invocation of the earth-consciousness for the Divine’s descent. As for our expression to you of our appreciation, it was delayed – for the reason the Mother has told you – not denied. Written words are pale and lifeless things when one has to express the feelings raised by superb music and seem hardly to mean anything – not being able to convey what is beyond word and mere mental form – that is, at least, what I have felt and why I always find it a little difficult to write anything about music.


March 25, 1933

Up till now we know nothing of what happened at the music party except what you have told us in your letter. Nolini came to ask from Sahana whether she could sing or not before Charu Bose for which she seemed to be unwilling, but at the same time we heard that the matter was over – he had been sent away and she had been called back to the party. Anyhow Mother will see what he is like tomorrow at Pranam and his status will be decided.

At Subhash’s conscientious hesitations between Krishna and Shakti and Shiva I could not help indulging in a smile. If a man is attracted by one form or two forms only of the Divine, it is all right,– but if he is drawn to several at a time he need not torment himself over it. A man of some development has necessarily several sides in his nature and it is quite natural that different aspects should draw or govern different personalities in him – he can very well accept them all and harmonise them in the One Divine and the One Ādyā Śakti [original Power] of whom all are the manifestations.

Buddhadev’s poem is very fine poetry – the thought forceful though in places a little raw and confused, as is natural at so early an age, but phrase and rhythm are magnificent and very powerful. He certainly stands head and shoulders above the ordinary run of facile verse-makers.

P.S. I will look up Buddhadev’s letter and send it to you.


March 30, 1933

I trust that the rafale [gust] is practically over and we can now have the sunlight or at least some sunlight on the scene. As for the disproportion between cause and effect, that is part of the mathematics of this astonishing universe. You kick a little harmless stone and a mountain descends on your head in answer – although you never thought you were inviting such an avalanche. You have either to learn how to duck a descending mountain – which is not safe or easy,– or be careful about kicking stones. This of course is only a parable.

I am glad to see that your metrical gambols with Tagore (pulling his solemn throne of reputation as a prosodist from under him) has not come in the way of his expressing his appreciation of your poetry.

I have only had just time to read the first stanza of your poem but I see it is in your finest manner.


April 1933 (?)

Tagore’s Man about to leave Heaven for Earth (in Tagore’s “Farewell to Heaven”) 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) “I bid you adieu as Heaven wants no one” – etc. Qu’en dites-vous? Re what the Mortal says to the Immortals.

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 treasure 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.


April 1, 1933

I have read the two poems – they are both exceedingly beautiful. But I should like to read them again before saying anything more.

As for the controversy about Art – I have been churning off a huge mass of arrears of correspondence, and under that burden to think of anything like Art was impossible. But I hope to be able to take it up now.


April 3, 1933

I am feeling fairly well – though not on the top of the weather. I have just finished a fairly long poem, a little in the sad vein, though not melancholy which I’ll send you. I am much encouraged by your approval of yesterday’s poem. My gratitude.

In the meanwhile please read the letter enclosed. The context: I had sent to Tagore my translation of one of Mother’s prayers. He praised the translation (he genuinely praised three others too I sent him: “Tears,” “Discipline,” “Chaque fois un cœur tressaille,” suggesting the alteration of just a word or two which I thankfully accepted) but wrote to me that in “tomar puraskar” I have committed chhanda patan [break in metre] as gūrha = gū-ra-ha = three syllables [?] whereas I have given it the value of two beats only. [...] However that may be, he could not refrain from praising my translations of Mother’s Prayers and A. E.’s “Krishna” and this poem on Shiva, for which I am rather joyous as these must have moved him a little genuinely – otherwise he would not have gone out of his way to bestow me a compliment which naturally I greatly value if it comes from his real appreciation of my achievement. [...] However I am glad Tagore is gradually relenting towards me.

(Sri Aurobindo’s reply:)

Tagore’s mistake

It is really astonishing and enough to make one gasp. I suppose he wanted to have three syllables from a sense of the length possibilities of the vowel gūrha and invented this hair-raising theory to justify his preference.


April 5, 1933

There is no doubt about the beauty of the poems you have written. But if sometimes – not by any means always – our sweetest songs sprang from saddest feelings, there is a quite different rule both for life and for Yoga. For the life in its progress, for the soul in its ascendance, grief and suffering should be only an incident on the way and the vision look always and steadily to a joy and a glory beyond it – let the gloom pass and look beyond it towards Light.


April 5, 1933

There is no taboo in the Yoga on any feeling that is true and pure, but all the feelings undergo the stress of a pressure from the spiritual consciousness and whatever there is that is mixed, impure, egoistic or the feeling itself if it is fundamentally self-regarding, either disappears or, if it remains, becomes an obstacle to the progress. In the ascetic Yoga all human feelings are regarded as illusory and have to disappear – “the knots of the heart are cut” – so as to leave only the one supreme aspiration. In this Yoga the emotional being has not to be got rid of, but to undergo a transformation; the shortest way of transformation is to turn all the being to the Divine. But when that is done, then it is found that what is pure and true in any human relation survives, but with a rich and subtle change, or else new relations are established that come straight from the Divine. If, however, something resists the change, then it is quite possible that there may be an oscillation between blank indifference or vairāgya [disgust with the world] and the indulgence of the untransformed feeling – the human vital on one side, the disillusioned Vairāgi [renunciate] on the other side. Some even have to pass through this vairāgya in order to reach the possibility of a divinised emotional nature, but that is not the normal movement of this Yoga.

As for being self-centred, it is obviously not the right thing for Yoga to be centred in the ego and revolving round it; one has to be centred in the Divine with all the movements turning round that centre – until they can all be in the Divine. One has naturally to think much of one’s own nature and its change, but that is inevitable for the sadhana – to prevent its turning into a self-centred condition, the aspiration to the Divine, vision of the Divine everywhere, the surrender to the Divine have to be made the main objective of the sadhana.


April 8, 1933

I must ask you not to act precipitately like this, but to wait for my answer. I have never got tired or given you up and there is no reason why you should think I am doing so now. If I did not answer immediately, it was because I had to consider what was the best to do – it did not mean any acquiescence in your proposal to give up and go away. I have never assented to that and I cannot do so.

You must give me a little time to see how matters can be set right. I don’t think you can really mean to desert us in this precipitate way because of a hard and difficult moment.


April 1933 (?)

In your letter today there are some things that I would find a little astonishing if I did not know that when the vital mind which indulges in these depressions is predominant anything however contrary to the facts may be put forward as true. But I should like to put one or two of them right, all the same. For you say that it is clear that I want you to be indifferent (like Nolini) to be indifferent to everyone else but the Mother and you make us responsible for your becoming a stranger to Arjava, Moni208 and Khirode209, for a feeling of rancorous aversion that has come between you and Sahana – and you express an apprehension that the same development may come on your still existing friendship with Subhash and Harin and others, evidently as the result of my yogic influence or my demand upon you. And finally you expect me to turn upon you and reject and hate you because in spite of all I find you unworthy of the Yoga. First of all, I am utterly at a loss to imagine how I can be responsible for your becoming a stranger to Arjava, Moni and Khirode. I never asked you or them to break or get remote from each other, I never put any pressure for that or desired it – on the contrary I greatly regretted your getting estranged with Arjava, for Arjava’s sake as well as for your own; I never appreciated what good reasons there could be for the cooling down between you and Moni – as for Khirode I have still to learn why there should be any distance between you. Nobody would be more glad than myself and the Mother if there is a rapprochement between them and you. As for the other friends, well, when and where have I interfered with and discouraged your friendships with Subhash and the others? I consented to your sending my blessing to Subhash and the extracts or letters, not for his sake – for I never met him – but for yours and because of your friendship with him; I welcomed Harin as much for your sake as his. I have admitted Bindu, Pratap and others because of your love or friendship or appreciation of them; in all cases, I believe I can say, I have given my blessings to your friends Buddhadev, Ashalata, your friends in Europe because they were your friends and for the sake of your friendship. And I have never asked or desired you to break with a single one of them at any time. There remains the case of Sahana. I know nothing of this rancorous aversion of which you speak – there is nothing of the kind in the mind of Sahana. When she broke out against you, it had nothing to do with Yoga – she had forgotten everything about Yoga at the moment – but was an outbreak of the vital being in its crudest from and she was at the same time as angry with us as with you because we had supported you in the Maitreyi affair and taken your side. As soon as we brought her back to her proper consciousness, all that fell away from her and she has no rancour or aversion or anger against you. Is there any rancour or aversion against her in your mind? I see no good reason why these should be – if there is any, it ought not to be there and should fall away from you at once. There remains your not seeing each other for a time. What you say about all ending in a quiet friendship, is what we have always told her that we wished – but the fact remains that she has not been able to achieve it and that what does come on her after a time of reconciliation is a relapse into old passions and fierce attacks of the Adversary shaking her very body and life – not because she is separated from you but because you are going with another woman even after the old relation was practically over! Is it so utterly unreasonable of us to desire a cessation of this kind of attack and is it so difficult for you to realise that it is not from attachment to yogic principles that we are against it but out of solicitude for Sahana. Or is it not worthwhile to try what separation for a while can do since the attempt at a quiet friendship had led to results so unquiet and adverse? If we were aloof in Yogic indifference – as you say the Yogi must be – we would not care, but leave each to fight out his or her own destiny with a calm indifferent gaze upon it from the heights of Nirvana. It seems to me that it is obvious that if we do try to help and save, it is because care and love are not absolutely foreign to our nature or to the Yogic nature or to the Nature of the Divine. I do not see anything that is so cold and grim and stern in our dealings – did you really see no love or tenderness in the Mother’s attitude and dealings today with Maya and the little child (who is not a Yogi or a disciple) Esha?

As for Nolini and what he said to you, it is Nolini’s own movement, the need he feels, not something we have dictated to him – we have certainly not forced it on others. There are over a hundred disciples in the Ashram – how many follow such a principle or have no personal relation with any but the Mother? And if some have the aspiration, if they feel the necessity of turning to the Divine alone in a passion of love or surrender and if they feel that they can find that Divine in or through the Mother, what is there in that spontaneous movement that is grim and stern and cruel? Are there not people who have left all other ties for the love of a man or a woman and been glorified for it; and why should it be so harsh and bad if it is for the Divine and such a movement is welcome by the Divine? But we do not force it on anybody – there are on the contrary friendships here that we not only allow but welcome.

In fact all these ideas are the creations of your mind because you are struggling between two opposite tendencies, the vital human and the ascetic indifference and Vairagya – the old oscillation, sea-saw, tug of war which, I have told you, is not the principle of our Yoga. Ours is a third way – murāreṣṭu tritīyah panthā210. All for the Divine, but all one in the Divine – that is indeed the final realisation at the end of our endeavour. But we do not expect the sadhak to reach at one bound to that perfection.

P.S. There is more that I should have written, but my time is over. I have tried to remove the misconceptions by which you have supported your sadness – I trust that some of them at least will fall for good away from you.


April 10, 1933

My full blessings on your aspiration and resolution. For when you accomplish that, you will have taken a very big step towards what one might call “a state of grace” in which the Divine force can manifest directly in you and not as now indirectly in the midst of violent perturbations. It would be the first step towards a settled fundamental peace and inner happiness and, what is most important of all, an ability to believe in and perceive the Divine Will in things which men cannot perceive – nor the meaning in them – because they are perplexed not so much by their mental limitations – though that is one cause – but by the claims and recoils of the vital ego. The mental difficulty would become much less if the vital mind were once pacified, submitted, attentive to the intimations of a higher Light. So I wish you all success in this endeavour.

About the Grace itself I have not been able to write much today – but I shall pursue it tomorrow.


April 1933 (?)

I was overjoyed to read your letter – first because it relieved me from the anxiety which your persistent trouble had given and, most because of the clarity of consciousness which has liberated you. Yes, that was the main difficulty – that and the clinging to wrong ideas which it had created. You should never doubt about the reality and sincerity of our feeling towards you, mine and the Mother’s – for it creates a veil and separates, where there should be no separation, and it is a first barrier against that openness which is necessary if one is to receive fully or even at all from the Guru. Of course, I say that something had blinded you and was keeping you unconscious of the source of the trouble, but there was needed a certain clarity of the soul to remove it. Now that it has come, I trust that it will keep the mind clear and free the ways of the spirit.

The bhakta-poet in you has always been thoroughly sincere; there there is no cloud of the vital ego.


April 12, 1933

It is certainly to be expected that Prabodh Sen will be overjoyed by his suggestion having borne such good fruit. You have succeeded in making an extraordinary success of felicitously combined opposites, a long sweep of gravity and intensely vibrating power with a melodic dance – the very movement of Nataraja. Only I doubt if it could become a feat for others to imitate; perhaps it was only one who is at once a musician and a poet who could have done it.


April 15, 1933

I return your cutting of Subhash – a monk-like Subhash who might have come out of a math or a monastery rather than the Calcutta Municipality and the B.P.C.C.!

My comments on Art for Art are finished but I added so much in recasting that I have to revise again and can send for typing only tomorrow (Sunday) afternoon – but I suppose so small a delay will not matter.


April 17, 1933

(The following are Sri Aurobindo’s comments on Art.)

Art for Art’s sake? But what, after all, is meant by this slogan and what is the real issue behind it? Is it meant, as I think it was when the slogan first came into use, that the technique, the artistry is all in all? The contention would then be that it does not matter what you write or paint or sculpt or what music you make or about what you make it so long as it is beautiful writing, competent painting, good sculpture, fine music. It is very evidently true in a certain sense,– in this sense that whatever is perfectly expressed or represented or interpreted under the conditions of a given art proves itself by that very fact to be legitimate material for the artist’s labour. But that free admission cannot be confined only to all objects, however common or deemed to be vulgar,– an apple, a kitchen pail, a donkey, a dish of carrots,– it can give a right of citizenship in the domain of art to a moral theme or thesis, a philosophic conclusion, a social experiment; even the Five Years’ Plan or the proceedings of a District Board or the success of a drainage scheme, an electric factory or a big hotel can be brought, after the most modern or the still more robustious Bolshevik mode, into the artist’s province. For, technique being all, the sole question would be whether he as poet, novelist, dramatist, painter or sculptor has been able to triumph over the difficulties and bring out creatively the possibilities of his subject. There is no logical basis here for accepting an apple and rejecting the Apple-Cart. But still you may say that at least the object of the artist must be art only,– even if he treats ethical, social or political questions, he must not make it his main object to wing with the enthusiasm of aesthetic creation a moral, social or political aim. But if in doing it he satisfies the conditions of his art, shows a perfect technique and in it beauty, power, perfection, why not? The moralist, preacher, philosopher, social or political enthusiast is often doubled with an artist – as shining proofs and examples there are Plato and Shelley, to go no farther. Only, you can say of him on the basis of this theory that as a work of art his creation should be judged by its success of craftsmanship and not by its contents; it is not made greater by the value of his ethical ideas, his enthusiasms or his metaphysical seekings.

But then, the theory itself is true only up to a certain point. For technique is a means of expression; one does not write merely to use beautiful words or paint for the sole sake of line and colour; there is something that one is trying through these means to express or to discover. What is that something? The first answer would be – it is the creation, it is the discovery of Beauty. Art is for that alone and can be judged only by its revelation or discovery of Beauty. Whatever is capable of being manifested as Beauty is the material of the artist. But there is not only physical beauty in the world – there is moral, intellectual, spiritual beauty also. Still, one might say that “Art for Art’s sake” means that only what is aesthetically beautiful must be expressed and all that contradicts the aesthetic sense of beauty must be avoided. Art has nothing to do with Life in itself, things in themselves, Good, Truth or the Divine for their own sake, but only in so far as they appeal to some aesthetic sense of beauty,– and that would seem to be a sound basis for excluding the Five Years’ Plan, a moral sermon or a philosophical treatise. But here, again, what after all is Beauty? How much is it in the thing itself and how much in the consciousness that perceives it? Is not the eye of the artist constantly catching some element of aesthetic value in the plain, the ugly, the sordid, the repellent and triumphantly conveying it through his material,– through the word, through line and colour, through the sculptured shape?

There is a certain state of Yogic consciousness in which all things become beautiful to the eye of the seer, simply because they spiritually are – because they are a rendering in line and form of the quality and force of existence, of the consciousness, of the Ananda that rules the worlds,– of the hidden Divine. What a thing is to the exterior sense may not be, often is not beautiful for the ordinary aesthetic vision, but the Yogin sees in it the something more which the external eye does not see, he sees the soul behind, the self and spirit, he sees too lines, hues, harmonies and expressive dispositions which are not to the first surface sight visible or seizable. It may be said that he brings into the object something that is in himself, transmutes it by adding out of his own being to it – as the artist too does something of the same kind but in another way. It is not quite that, however; what the Yogin sees, what the artist sees, is there, his is a transmuting vision because it is a revealing vision; he discovers behind what the object appears to be, the something More that it is. And so from this point of view of a realised supreme harmony all is or can be subject-matter for the artist, because in all he can discover and reveal the Beauty that is everywhere. Again, we land ourselves in a devastating catholicity; for here too one cannot pull up short at any given line. It may be a hard saying that one must or may discover and reveal beauty in a pig or its poke or in a parish pump or an advertisement of somebody’s pills, and yet something like that seems to be what modern Art and Literature are trying with vigour and conscientious labour to do. By extension one ought to be able to extract beauty equally well out of morality or social reform or a political caucus or allow at least that all these things can, if he wills, become legitimate subjects for the artist. Here, too, one cannot say that it is on condition he thinks of beauty only and does not make moralising or social reform or a political idea his main object. For if with that idea foremost in his mind he still produces a great work of art, discovering Beauty as he moves to his aim, proving himself in spite of his unaesthetic preoccupations a great artist, it is all we can justly ask from him, whatever his starting-point, to be a creator of Beauty. Art is discovery and revelation of Beauty, and we can say nothing more by way of prohibitive or limiting rule.

But there is one thing more that can be said, and that makes a big difference. In the Yogin’s vision of universal beauty, all becomes beautiful, but all is not reduced to a single level. There are gradations, there is a hierarchy in this All-Beauty and we see that it depends on the ascending power (Vibhūti) of Consciousness and Ananda that expresses itself in the object. All is the Divine, but some things are more divine than others. In the artist’s vision too there are or can be gradations, a hierarchy of values. Shakespeare can get dramatic and therefore aesthetic values out of Dogberry and Malvolio and he is as thorough a creative artist in his treatment of them as in his handling of Macbeth or Lear. But if we had only Dogberry or Malvolio to testify to Shakespeare’s genius, no Macbeth, no Lear, would he be so great a dramatic artist and creator as he now is? It is in the varying possibilities of one subject or another that there lies an immense difference. Apelles’211 grapes deceived the birds that came to peck at them, but there was more aesthetic content in the Zeus of Pheidias212, a greater content of Consciousness and therefore of Ananda to express and with it to fill in and intensify the essential principle of Beauty, even though the essence of beauty may be realised perhaps with equal aesthetic perfection by either artist and in either theme.

And that is because just as technique is not all, so even Beauty is not all in Art. Art is not only technique or form of Beauty, not only the discovery or the expression of Beauty – it is a self-expression of Consciousness under the conditions of aesthetic vision and a perfect execution. Or, to put it otherwise, there are not only aesthetic values, but life-values, mind-values, soul-values that enter into Art. The artist puts out into form not only the powers of his own consciousness, but the powers of the Consciousness that has made the worlds and their objects. And if that Consciousness according to the Vedantic view is fundamentally equal everywhere, it is still in manifestation not an equal power in all things. There is more of the Divine expression in the Vibhūti than in the common man, prākrito janah; in some forms of life there are less potentialities for the self-expression of the Spirit than in others. And there are also gradations of consciousness which make a difference, if not in the aesthetic value or greatness of a work of art, yet in its contents-value. Homer makes beauty out of man’s outward life and action and stops there. Shakespeare rises one step further and reveals to us a life-soul and life-forces and life-values to which Homer had no access. In Valmiki and Vyas there is the constant presence of great Idea-Forces and Ideals supporting life and its movements which were beyond the scope of Homer and Shakespeare. And beyond the Ideals and Idea-Forces even there are other presences, more inner or inmost realities, a soul behind things and beings, the spirit and its powers, which could be the subject-matter of an art still more rich and deep and abundant in its interest than any of these could be. A poet finding these and giving them a voice with a genius equal to that of the poets of the past might not be greater than they in a purely aesthetic valuation, but his art’s contents-value, its consciousness-values could be deeper and higher and much fuller than in any achievement before him. There is something here that goes beyond any consideration of Art for Art’s sake or Art for Beauty’s sake; for while these stress usefully sometimes the indispensable first elements of artistic creation, they would limit too much the creation itself if they stood for the exclusion of the something More that compels Art to change always in its constant seeking for more and more that must be expressed of the concealed or the revealed Divine, of the individual and the universal or the transcendent Spirit.

If we take these three elements as making the whole of Art, perfection of expressive form, discovery of beauty, revelation of the soul and essence of things and the powers of creative consciousness and Ananda of which they are the vehicles, then we shall get perhaps a solution which includes the two sides of the controversy and reconciles their difference. Art for Art’s sake certainly; Art as a perfect form and discovery of Beauty; but also Art for the soul’s sake, the spirit’s sake and the expression of all that the soul, the spirit wants to seize through the medium of beauty. In that self-expression there are grades and hierarchies, widenings and steps that lead to the summits. And not only to enlarge Art towards the widest wideness but to ascend with it to the heights that climb towards the Highest is and must be part both of our aesthetic and our spiritual endeavour.


April 26, 1933

I simply cannot resist the temptation of sending you first of the pages I wrote this afternoon appertaining to my novelette (it will be a long story rather of about 200 pages in print) in which I have put in the form of a dialogue what I have felt about music versus poetry. Probably I am wrong – yet there may be some core of truth in what I intuited. Apart from the style of the dialogue I draw your attention to the matter. I wonder if you could throw, say, half a dozen lines at me regarding this aspect? It will be so valuable for me to know how you feel about music. Harin was telling me the other day: “Dilip, music is greater than poetry when all is said.” But I wonder if all has been said of either or even can be? Anyway I am finding [great?] joy in my novel particularly [because?] my novels too are much in demand – I enclose just a sentimental note of a young man whom I do not know; just glance through it in three minutes if you can find time. It is this [way?] he speaks about Ranger Parash.

I saw you this afternoon when I meditated for nearly two hours. I am trying to offer my writing work. But I can’t do so always. I pray to you to send force to enable me to.

I do not know what to say on the subject you propose to me – my appreciation of music is bodiless and inexpressible, while about poetry I can write at ease with an expert knowledge. But is it necessary to fix a scale of greatness where each has its own greatnesses and can touch in its own way the extremes of aesthetic Ananda? Music, no doubt, goes nearest to the infinite and to the essence of things because it relies wholly on the ethereal vehicle, śabda [sound], (architecture by the by can do something of the same kind at the other extreme even in its imprisonment in mass); but painting and sculpture have their revenge by liberating visible form into ecstasy, while poetry though it cannot do with sound what music does, yet can instead make a harmony of sound revelation, creation by the word, suggestion of form and colour that gives it in a very subtle kind the combined power of all the arts. Who shall decide between such claims or be a judge between these gods?


April 29, 1933

It is very good news. The peace settling into the system and with it a happy activity – that is the basis for your Yoga which I always wanted you to have – a sunny condition in which what has to come in will come in and expand like a bud into flower and what has to fall off will fall off in its time like a slough discarded.


April 30, 1933

Emotion alone is not enough for producing anything that can be called creation, at best it can give form to something lyrical and passionate or to something charming or appealing. For any considerable creation there must be a background of life, a vital rich and stored or a mind and an imagination that has seen much and observed much or a soul that has striven and been conscious of its strivings. These are needed, or one or other of them, but the purdah is not likely to produce them, though there may be a lucky accident in the worst circumstances, but one can’t count on accidents. A George Eliot, a George Sand, a Virginia Woolf, a Sappho, or even a Comtesse de Noailles grew up in other circumstances.


May 1933 (?)

It is true that the removal of the sex-impulse in all its forms and, generally, of the vital woman-complex is a great liberation which opens up to the Divine considerable regions of the being which otherwise tend to remain shut up. These things are a degradation of the source in the being from which bhakti, divine love and adoration arise. But the complex has deep roots in human nature and one must not be disappointed if it takes time to pull them up. A resolute detachment rejecting them as foreign elements, refusing to accept any inner association with them as well as outer indulgence even of the slightest kind is the best way to wear out their hold upon the nature.


May 1933

My point about my Sadhana was that my Sadhana was not done for myself but for the earth-consciousness as a showing of the way towards the Light, so that whatever I showed in it to be possible: inner growth, transformation, manifesting of new faculties, etc. was not of no importance to anybody, but meant as an opening of lines and ways for what had to be done. The question of degree of greatness does not come in at all.

The terrestrial sex-movement is an utilisation by Nature of the fundamental physical energy for purposes of procreation. The thrill of which the poets speak, which is accompanied by a very gross excitement, is the lure by which she makes the vital consent to this otherwise unpleasing process – whatever Tagore or others may feel, there are numbers who experience a recoil of disgust after the act and repulsion from the partner in it because of the disgust, though they return to it when the disgust has worn off for the sake of this lure. The sex-energy itself is a great power with two components in its physical basis, one meant for procreation and the process necessary for it, the other for feeding the general energies of the body, mind and vital,– also of the spiritual energies of the body. The old yogis call these two components retas and ojas. The European scientists generally pooh-poohed the idea, but now they are beginning to discover the same fact for themselves. As for the thrill, it is simply a very gross distortion and degradation of the physical Ananda which by the Yoga can establish itself in the body, but this it cannot do so, so long as there is the sex-deviation....

As for the Force I use to cure people I shall see also whether I can explain what I mean by Force (the one I refer to is neither supramental nor omnipotent nor guaranteed to work like Beecham’s pills in every case) and how it acts and in what conditions. I have tried it in hundreds of cases besides Dayakar’s213 (on my own body first and always) and I have no doubt of its efficacy or reality under these conditions.


May 1933 (?)

The crystallising of the concentration is a good sign. As a matter of fact all these things depend upon perseverance. With a long perseverance a little result comes, with more perseverance a bigger result comes, then with a little more perseverance the big result comes. Concentration or even the effort at concentration is like a constant pressure which wears away the obstacle until, before one well knows, one finds it breaking or broken.

I know very well these pressures of a mental Power or creative formation to express itself and be fulfilled. When it presses like that there is nothing to do but to let it have way, so as to leave the mind unoccupied and clear; otherwise it will be pushed two ways and not in the condition of ease and clearness necessary for concentration.


May 1933

There is nothing sentimental in the true weeping that comes from the soul. All that you feel now is the blossoming of the psychic being in you and the growth of a real bhakti.

It is always better not to judge others in the sense of condemning them. One need not be blind to their movements, but one should observe them as the movement of Nature blinding the light in them, for which they are less responsible than the mind thinks. It is true that your attitude was quite right and the vital ego put its intensity on the right side; for that very reason the egoistic elements which rose up were able by this contact with the psychic in you, both in arms together for the inner Truth, to dissolve themselves quickly. That is how the psychic leading always works in one way or another to transform the movements of the other parts of the nature.


May 5, 1933

[...] This second fast of Mahatma Gandhi of three weeks has disquieted me a little214. There seems to be no way out, for Gandhi asserts that he can break his irrevocable fast only if he is persuaded that the inner voice which enjoins the fast on him is the voice not of God but of the Devil. I wonder whose voice it is though? Can it be of anything but disastrous augury? I would like to have your verdict....

Very glad you have recovered your position. Let it be a firm terrain on which the rest can come.

I don’t think it was the voice of God that raged and thundered till Gandhi decided to starve himself on to the danger line – it looks as if it were the other fellow. One can only hope that he will scrape through somehow and that the doctors are wrong as they most often are when they opine in the plural; but the last experiment was not encouraging. And as this time there seems to be no reason whatever for this inspired procedure and no practical or practicable object set before it, there is no tangible means either of bringing it to a timely close. What an extraordinary ignorance of spiritual things to take any inner shout for the command of the Supreme!


May 13, 1933

In these moods the thoughts that assail you are so much out of focus! The essence of surrender is not to ask the Mother before doing anything – but to accept whole-heartedly the influence and the guidance; when the joy and peace come down to accept them without question or cavil and let them grow, when the Force is felt at work, to let it without opposition, when the Knowledge is given, to receive and follow it, when the Will is revealed, to make oneself its instrument. It is also, no doubt, to accept the guidance and control of the Guru who is at least supposed to know better than oneself what is or is not the Truth and the way to the Truth. All that is nothing very terrible, it is simple common sense. As to the particular kind of control you speak of, it is not imposed on anybody; it is only a few in the Ashram who at all follow any such rule. Amrita215 whom you mention would not have dreamed a year or two ago of asking the Mother before doing anything; if he does so now, it is not because the Mother told him to do so or “imposed” it on him, but because he felt the need for it for his sadhana. The Mother never imposed any rule on Anilbaran; he made his own rule of life of his own accord according to his own perception of the best way for him to concentrate and took the sanction of the Mother. You yourself were told by the Mother that you had no need to do what Sahana was trying to do in this respect at that time of her own motion – that for each it was only when he felt the need that he should do it. I do not see therefore why you should fear so much for your liberty – when in the whole Ashram of hundred and twenty people there are hardly half a dozen who follow any such rule of strict external surrender. And I cannot understand what you mean by the reproach that we have made some people stiff and speechless. Who are they? Amrita, Anilbaran, Dutta. As far as I know, they are quite adept in [?] and eloquent or fluent talkers. I am guiltless of the crime you charge against me.

Another thing let me correct. It is not at all correct to say that we – in this instance the Mother – never warned Suchi and Sarala of their deterioration – they were warned and plainly warned and also of the influences from outside the Ashram to which they were succumbing. The Mother had even foreseen from the beginning that this might happen and put them on their guard in due time. If they fell, it was because they preferred to follow their lower nature and side with the lower forces. The Divine can lead, he does not drive. There is an internal freedom permitted to every mental being called man to assent or not to assent to the Divine leading: how else can any real spiritual evolution be done?

If there is so serious an obstacle to your going forward, it consists only of two things, your vital depressions and your mental doubts which make you challenge even the experiences you have and belittle any progress you make. Never have we told you to be stiff and gloomy and speechless – on the contrary we have pressed upon the other side. Other obstacles or difficulties there are, but they could be over-come if these two things were out of the way or rejected and inoperative.

If I constantly encourage you, it is not because I see you deteriorating and want to hide it – I see nothing of the kind,– but because I have faith in your capacities and see the nobler Dilip behind all outward weakness. I would not speak what I know to be false – that much credit you can give me.

P.S. What put this into your head that you are regarded as an untouchable and a bad influence? If every man who had difficulties were so regarded, the whole Ashram would be an asylum of untouchables.


May 13, 1933

What I meant about the experiences was simply this that you have erected your own ideas about what you want from the Yoga and have always been measuring what began to come by that standard and because it was not according to expectation or up to standard telling yourself after a moment, “It is nothing, it is nothing”. That dissatisfaction laid you open at every step to a reaction or a recoil which prevented any continuous development. The yogin who has experience knows that the small beginnings are of the greatest importance and have to be cherished and allowed with great patience to develop. He knows for instance that the neutral quiet so dissatisfying to the vital eagerness of the sadhak is the first step towards the peace that passeth all understanding, the small current or thrill of inner delight the first trickling in of the ocean of Ananda, the play of lights or colours the key of the doors of the inner vision and experience, the descent that stiffens the body into a concentrated stillness the first touch of something at the end of which is the presence of the Divine. He is not impatient, he is rather careful not to disturb the evolution that is beginning. Certainly, some sadhaks have strong and decisive experiences at the beginning, but these are followed by long labour in which there are many empty periods and many periods of struggle. You speak of Barin216, but Barin’s experiences were like all he did brilliant but unsound in method and only bright beginnings without any conclusion and it was all on the surface, mental and vital fireworks. There was never any receding of the ego, any fundamental bases of ultimate realisation, any transformation of the nature. There he is a little hunting and experimenting in the vague.


May 16, 1933

I have not time to write a long letter. I can write only this. You are not to leave Pondicherry by this morning’s train or at all. You have to come and see the Mother at 9.30 and speak to her heart to heart. Both the Mother and myself have lavished much love and care on you and you are certainly not going to make a return like this – it is impossible. Do not believe all you hear or allow yourself to be driven off your balance by falsehoods of the kind that have been retailed to you. You do not belong to yourself and have not the right to do what you propose to do: you belong to the Divine and to myself and the Mother. I have cherished you like a friend and a son and have poured on you my force to develop your powers – until the time should come for you to make an equal development in the Yoga. I claim the right to keep you as our own here with us. Throw away this despair – rise above the provocations of others – turn back to the Mother.


June 1933

It is not possible that your dream of Girish Ghose217 should be only a memory of childhood’s thoughts. There are such dreams shaped by old impressions arising out of the subconscient, but they have a different character. This must be a contact with Girish Ghose somewhere in another world or plane – such contacts are frequent when one has become consciously active in dream on supraphysical planes.


June 15, 1933

The other day at pranam the Mother saw in me the great Latin poet Horace as one of my former incarnations, and what surprised her more was, she said, that Horace, a moment later, brought along Hector218, the Trojan King telling Mother that the latter was one of his previous incarnations – consequently one of mine too. She told me that they had, both, some distinct resemblance to my humble physiognomy, and that their psychic being was identical with mine. What, in the name of all that is wonderful, is the import of it all? I hope it’s of delectable augury? My misgivings on this score are due to my surmise that they (Hector and Horace219) don’t seem to posterity as outstandingly psychic beings, do they? Nevertheless, I am glad that Horace was one of my refreshing ancestors, though I would have preferred to have been Catullus220, the philosopher poet. But I fondly trust that Horace was not simply a poet but a man too, worth the name. But somehow I am sorry I was the hectoring Hector once, in my previous birth. And then didn’t Hector abduct Helen and caused the destruction of Troy? How dreadful!

I must first get the facts right for you have rolled people into each other with an almost divine vigour. It was Paris if you please who made the disreputable false step which led to the destruction of Troy. To put the blame on the shoulders of poor Hector who was not only a fervent patriot and a “bonny” fighter but blamelessly moral in all his family and social relations is really a scandal for which you deserve to be hauled up before the Law-courts of the Beyond. Hector, I may say, has been slandered in another way – for he was really not in the habit of “hectoring,” but really quite reasonable in his talk which was much to the point and full of excellent thoughts and sentiments and he had some perspicacity also. Only his magnanimity and courage often led him into a rash enthusiasm and exaggeration of hardihood which had its recoil reactions of depression and self-blame leading to another kind of rashness, that of despair. This is how Homer depicts him and we can take it at that.

Next Horace. You prefer Catullus because he was a philosopher? You have certainly rolled Lucretius221 here into Catullus – Lucretius who wrote an epic about the “Nature of Things” and invested the Epicurean philosophy with a rudely Roman and most unepicurean majesty and grandeur. Catullus had no more philosophy in him than a red ant. He was an exquisite lyrist – much more spontaneous in his lyrism than the more sophisticated and well-balanced Horace, a poet of passionate and irregular love, and he got out of the Latin language a melody no man could persuade it to before him or after. But that was all. Horace on the other hand knew everything that was to be known about philosophy at that time and had indeed all the culture of the age at his fingers’ ends and carefully put in its place in his brain also – but he did not make the mistake of writing a philosophical treatise in verse. A man of great urbanity, a perfectly balanced mind, a vital man with a strong sociability, faithful and ardent in friendship, a bon vivant fond of good food and good wine, a lover of women but not ardently passionate like Catullus, an Epicurean who took life gladly but not superficial – that was his character. As a poet he was the second among the great Augustan poets, a great master of phrase – the most quoted of all the Roman writers – a dexterous metrist who fixed the chief lyric Greek metres in Latin in their definitive form, a style and rhythm in which strength and grace were singularly united, a writer also of satire222 and familiar epistolary verse as well as a master of the ode and the lyric – that sums up his work.

But you must avoid a common popular blunder about reincarnation. The popular idea is that Titus Balbus is reborn again as John Smith, a man with the same personality, character, attainments as he had in his former life with the sole difference that he wears coat and trousers instead of a toga and speaks in cockney English instead of popular Latin. That is not the case. What would be the earthly use or the unearthly use of repeating the same personality or character a million times from the beginning of time till its end? The soul comes into birth for experience, for growth, for evolution till it can bring the Divine into Matter. It is the central being that incarnates, not the outer personality – the personality is simply a mould that it creates for its figures of experience in that one life. In another birth it will create for itself a different personality, different capacities, a different life and career. Supposing Virgil is born again, he may take up poetry in one or two other lives, but he will certainly not write an epic but rather perhaps slight but elegant and beautiful lyrics such as he wanted to but did not succeed in writing in Rome. In another birth he is likely to be no poet at all, but a philosopher and a yogin seeking to attain and to express the highest truth – for that too was an unrealised trend of his consciousness in that life. Perhaps before he had been a warrior or ruler doing deeds like Aeneas or Augustus before he sang them. And so on – on this side or that the central being develops a new character, a new personality, grows, develops, passes through all kinds of terrestrial experience.

As the evolved being develops still more and becomes more rich and complex, it accumulates its personalities, as it were. Sometimes they stand behind the active elements, throwing in some colour, some trait, some capacity here and there,– or they stand in front and there is a multiple personality, a many-sided character or a many-sided, sometimes what looks like a universal capacity. But if a former personality, a former capacity is brought fully forward, it will not be to repeat what was already done, but to cast the same capacity into new forms and new shapes and fuse it into a new harmony of the being which will not be a reproduction of what was before. Thus you must not expect to be what Hector and Horace were. Something of the outer characteristics may reappear, e.g. the lyrist, prosodist, social writer, thinker on life that was in Horace – but very much changed and new-cast in a new combination. Nor must you expect to find in Horace poetry like your own as it is in a new direction that the energies will be guided to do what was not done before.

Another thing. It is not the personality, the character that is of the first importance in rebirth – it is the psychic being who stands behind the evolution of the nature and evolves with it. What the Mother said was not that Hector and Horace were psychic beings – which neither of them predominantly were, but that she saw in you the psychic being that had stood behind the personalities of Horace and Hector. The psychic when it departs from the body, shedding even the mental and vital on its way to its resting place, carries with it the heart of its experiences,– but not the physical events, not the vital movements, not the mental buildings, not the capacities or characters, but something essential that it gathered from them, what might be called the divine element for the sake of which the rest existed. That is the permanent addition, it is that that helps in the growth towards the Divine. That is why there is usually no memory of the outward events and circumstances of past lives – for this memory there must be a strong development towards unbroken continuance of the mind, the vital, even the subtle physical; for though it all remains in a kind of seed memory, it does not ordinarily emerge. What was the divine element in the magnanimity of Hector, that which expressed itself in his loyalty, nobility, high courage, what was the divine element behind the harmonious mentality and generous vitality of Horace and expressed itself in them, that remains and in a new harmony of character may find a new expression or, if the life is turned towards the Divine, be taken up as powers for the realisation or for the work that has to be done for the Divine.


June 22, 1933 (?)

My experience shows me that the human beings are 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.


June 23, 1933

I wired to Sisir Bhaduri “Don’t know your profits, suggest your terms reasonable.” Also I wired to my publisher Haridas Chatterji also a director of the Star Theatre, “Sisir wants Chandragupta Talkie. Wire how much I should charge.” Grant now that I may extract a goodly sum to be able to offer the same at Mother’s feet. The Hindi people gave (disgraceful) only Rs. 250 when I had expected at least Rs. 750.

P.S. What is the meaning of your “Unheard is the valued”? I ask again for this and enclose the paper.

...by223 “valued” that that is what is good for. Of course, it is only an extreme way of putting the idea of that Supreme Affirmation as against that of the Supreme Negation. For the Mayavadin the Brahman is not only an Unheard but an Unhearable; it is an indeterminate X out of which nothing but illusion can come though itself is nothing but Reality, only a Reality without anything in it – except itself and what itself is one can be but never know as it has neither content nor feature. So you get lost in it not so much like a star as like a fire of damp wood that contentedly fizzles out. From the other point of view the Divine is Absolute Bliss, Consciousness, Force, Light, Truth and everything else divine and you can not only lose yourself in it like a star or rather plunge into it as your own perfect element but come out from it like a sun with all that in you. It is an Unheard in which are all divine hearings.


June 30, 1933

The wild elephants (Mother saw you taming) mean the untamed forces and potentialities that are to be controlled....


July 15, 1933

The poem is beautiful and the metre is beautiful. As for the rest, there are two golden rules. (1) Never be depressed or upset by difficulties or stumbles. (2) Press always quietly forward, then however long it seems to take, always progress will be made and one day you will be surprised to find yourself near the goal. It is like the curves followed by the train in the ascent of the mountain – they circle round but always nearer and nearer to the goal.


July 17, 1933

I had thought of asking Mother, but somehow didn’t: what was the matter last evening with Purushottam224? Champaklal225 says there was nothing wrong there. Others say it was a possession. I trust my appeal to Krishna hadn’t reached other quarters than that of the Benign Evergreen? It is rather disquieting that’s why I ask.

There was no misdirection of your appeal to Krishna; if there was anybody responsible it was Anilkumar with his tabla. But there was nothing wrong and no “possession” in the evil sense of the word; nothing hostile. The beat-beat of the tabla more than anything else created a vibration which was caught hold of by some rhythmic material Energy and that in its turn caught hold of or was caught hold of by Purushottam’s body which considered itself under a compulsion to “execute” the rhythm by a dance. There is the whole (occult) science of the affair, Purushottam thought he was inspired and in a trance, Ambu226 thought Purushottam was going to break his head and other people’s legs, a number of others thought Purushottam was going cracked or already cracked, some thought Purushottam was killing Ambu which Ambu contemptuously rejects saying he was able to hold Purushottam all alone, and out of these conflicting mental judgments – if they can be called so – arose the whole row. A greater quietude in people’s minds could perhaps have allowed the “incident” to be “liquidated” in a less uproarious fashion – but the Mother was absorbed in the music and could only intervene later when Champaklal consulted her. That is all.


July 26, 1933

I enclose the book of verse of Buddhadev just out which he has presented to you. I am so glad, as his poetry is immensely superior to his stories, etc. Please read at least the poems marked thus, particularly the poem tathāpī bānchiyā rabe [still it will live] whose chhanda [metre] is extremely fine and throbbing with life and gāmbhīrjya [gravity or solemnity], also the fine poem Pāpī [“Sinner”] you had read. He is now 25 only and it is surprising to find such a perfection of form and a genuine poetic inspiration, is it not? What I regret is that he should be writing so many bad stories instead of writing more good poems. But he says he has to live on his writings and so –

I agree. I once made a struggle to read a story or two of his but failed.

Could Mother possibly remind Chandulal that the bathroom was to have been ready in ten days – it is more than two weeks – perhaps more and I fear he does not quite realise how inconvenient it is for me etc. etc. If Mother gives him a slight hint he will I know be galvanised into promptness, it is no use my reminding him.

It is not Chandulal’s fault but Fate’s. They had more joints to renew than they expected, so the wood failed in the middle and they had to wait for more to come. However Mother is reminding him.


August 10, 1933

I cannot persuade myself that all the things that are happening – including the triumph of the British policy and deterioration of Gandhi’s intellect are meant for the best. On top of it my noble-hearted friend Sengupta [...] is carried off. Bengal is now benighted and there is no sign of light anywhere.

Tagore too has just written an article of despair in which he forebodes gloomily an end of the world pralay-kalpānta as perhaps the quickest and most satisfactory solution to the mess we are in. Add to this my own lack of devotion and faith – as a result of which I thirst for something concrete to feel that the Divine is after all caring for the like of us. I do sometimes even feel that in the end you will give up this wicked world and wish with Tagore for the pralay [universal dissolution] and retire into extra-cosmic Samadhi.

I have no intention of doing so – even if all smashed; I would look beyond the smash to the new creation. As for what is happening in the world, it does not upset me because I knew all along that things would happen in that fashion. I never had any illusions about Gandhi’s satyagraha – it has only fulfilled my prediction that it would end in a great confusion or a great fiasco and my only mistake was that I put an “or” where there should have been an “and” – and as for the hopes of the intellectual idealists I have not shared them, so I am not disappointed.

As for yourself, it seems to be a fit of the blues – not the spiritual brilliant, but the dark blue; there is only one thing to do with them, to throw them away and let the true blue shine out on you. Whether the harbour is nearby or further off is not the main thing – the one need is to go on with the eyes fixed on the guiding star – then today or tomorrow or afterwards one arrives at the goal.

P.S. Your metre is a lyric discovery and the poem is very beautiful.


August 13, 1933

Your poetry is not an infliction but a relief. Amid a surging ocean of polyglot letters it is a welcome islet of rhythm and style. So far as I have read is very fine. But I have yet to read the whole.


August 15, 1933

There are artists and artists. A real artist with the spirit of artistry in his very blood will certainly be artistic in everything. But there are artists who have no taste and there are artists who are not born but made. Your example of Tagore is a different matter. A mastery in one department of art does not give mastery on another – though there may be a few who excel equally in many arts. Gandhi’s phrase about asceticism is only a phrase. You might just as well say that politics is an art or that cooking is the greatest of arts or apply that phrase to bridge or boxing or any other human field of effort. As for Tolstoi’s dictum it is that of a polemist, a man who had narrowed himself to one line of ideas – and such people can say anything. There is the same insufficiency about the other quotations. An artist or a poet may be the medium of a great power but in his life he may be a very ordinary man or else a criminal like Villon227 or Cellini228. All hands go to make this rather queer terrestrial creation.


August 16, 1933

Today as usual I lay down and was doing japa of Mother’s name after having read for some time Gita and a novel of Dostoievsky. Suddenly I found myself in the state I used to be long ago. The body was immobile, the currents were passing from head downwards, etc. – all that. I need not therefore go over it all again. Enough to say that I felt very joyous that this experience recurred after a long time. I am trying to keep my consciousness turned towards you and Mother. I suspect I received something yesterday. Anyhow I will try to welcome devoutly more if it comes.

Very glad to hear it. Mother remarked and myself was pleased to see the signs of a marked progress in you on the 15th. Yes, you received something within which has yet fully to come out.


August 17, 1933

I am afraid I don’t see how I can see William Arthur Moore – how can I extend to him so extraordinary a privilege (since I see nobody) which I would not have conceded to Sarat Chatterji? You say Barin certifies him as a bhakta – but Barin’s language is apt to be vivid and exaggerated; he probably means only an admirer. I think he must be answered that certainly he would [have] been allowed a meeting with me if I had been coming out but the entire seclusion has been taken as a rule for Sri Aurobindo’s sadhana and it may not be subjected to exception so long as the rule is in force. If he is really a bhakta that will give him a ray of distant hope and if he isn’t, the impression made does not very much matter. Barin surely exaggerates the power of the publicist – after all he is only the editor of the Statesman – but even otherwise that is not the main consideration. By the way why have you transmogrified Moore into Jones? – there was a Jones there but he has departed and yielded the place to Moore.

As for this Paresh, he wants to be in the Ashram, it would appear (yogāshrame yābār ichchhā229), but I don’t see how that can be conceded. If it is merely darshan in November he wants it can be granted. I don’t remember his letter – I suppose Nolini may – and don’t know what he wrote or asked for. You might fish it out from Nolini if he can find it. I probably paid no attention to it as mere Paresh could have conveyed no meaning to my mind.

Very glad of the success of your metres but that was sure.


August 26, 1933

I suppose I shall take much time to read this affair of Moni’s. The simplest solution will be to stop this discussion which is degenerating into a controversy or dispute.

I have not seen what Moni says, but if it is that you have narrowed or deteriorated because you no longer sing erotic songs, I do not see how that can be. One is not narrowed if one loses taste for jazz and can hear with real pleasure only the great masters or music like theirs; it is not deterioration when one rises from a lower to a higher plane of thinking, feeling or artistic self-expression. I used to write poems on vital love. I could not do it now (for if I wrote of love, it would be the psychic and spiritual feeling) – not because I have narrowed or deteriorated, but I have centred myself in a higher consciousness and anything merely vital would not express me. It must be the same with anyone who changes his level of consciousness. Can one say of the man who has grown out of childishness and no longer plays with nursery toys that he has narrowed and deteriorated by the change?


August 28, 1933

I am afraid it is hardly possible to have Saratchandra with these habits of his residing in the Ashram itself. It would be a serious shock to the discipline of the Ashram to have someone in it – the more illustrious and eminent, the worse it will be – drinking and taking opium with the sanction of the Mother! You should know by this time how the mentality of the sadhaks works, and we have had trouble enough, e.g. in the smoking affair before because of Puran Mull and other examples. If it were not for these things we would have consented at once.

It is he himself who has suggested the hotel, but if an arrangement can be made for a room outside we have no objection. But it is not perhaps easy to get a room here. It should be understood that the room is not engaged by the Mother or under her control – otherwise the same difficulty will arise.

It is, no doubt, a very tempting catch in prospect for the propagandist in you and I fully appreciate your feelings. But – well, you know we are not very ardent fishers of men and our principle is to let those who are destined for the Great Emprise come of themselves, not go out of our way to seek them. All who have the finger of the Golden Light pointing to them are welcome, and if Sarat Chatterji is one of them, he will find himself perforce in spite the triple charm of alcoholism, opium and tobacco. But it is too early to anticipate.


August 30, 1933

I try to reply [...]230 be brief in my answer.

I fear in this case as in some others you and the others who shared your opinion judged too much from the outside appearance. A man is not sexually pure only because he does not flirt with women nor free from ambition, vanity and pride because he is outwardly humble and gentle. I do not usually care to reveal the weaknesses of one sadhak to the others – as you can understand, it would not be right for me to do so, so these wrong notions about people become current. Durgadas was not at all an ideal sadhak, he had the same weaknesses as other men, but for a long time he kept them very much shut up in himself and he followed his own ways in dealing with them which were not very safe. His meditations were silent and secret and he did not tell them to us as he should have done. He had ambitions and violent jealousies and a wish to occupy the first place. These things he did not exclude from his sadhana, but rather indulged them and allowed formations about them to take hold of his mind when he concentrated. For his sexual difficulty he used methods which in the opinion of the doctor (not Upendranath) who saw him in his illness were the cause of his first upsetting. The one thing that kept him right for a long time was his work which was the one way that he found for trying to form the habit of selfless surrender. But in the end he got weary of his work and wished to give it up and serve no longer. These are the facts and you will see they are very different from your idealised picture. All the theories about his breaking down under the pressure of being near the Mother, etc. are beside the mark. He broke down like Putu and Nolinbehari because he preferred to follow his own way, his own desires and imaginations instead of obeying the guidance and heeding the warnings of the Mother. He became enamoured of his own formations, allowed any Force that flattered them to take hold of him and put that up as the Mother refusing to obey or accept the guidance of the actual Mother here. If he had not done that, there is no reason why he should not have set himself right and gone straight. He had not in him the makings of a great Yogi, certainly, but he had a certain capacity for devotion and intensity of aspiration, and if he had used that for a true self-offering and surrender and if he had confided in the Mother and followed her guidance, he could have realised and come to something. But he did just the opposite and the result was as with Putu and Nolinbehari, a disaster.

I have explained the case of Durgadas, but I have no time to answer your general questionings – if this letter is to go at once – I will try to make time tonight or tomorrow.


August 30, 1933

To answer the one question in your last letter would need a Mahabharata – for you raise at one fell swoop the whole problem of life along with the whole problem of Yoga. But you have more faith than you imagine, otherwise you would not be so hard on the Divine. I did not, by the way, mean this kind of formation when I spoke of Durgadas but formations of a false value in Yoga. Doubts are an obstacle, sometimes a serious obstacle, but false values in Yoga which the sadhak is not willing to correct are a danger.

I may say about the doubts that one cannot be free from them easily so long as one judges by the intellect alone or by the appearances of things without appeal to that which is behind appearances. The very fact that one comes to Yoga is an admission that there must be something other than the appearances, a deeper and greater Truth behind. It is an admission that there is a Divine Someone or Something behind, and if so, then life simply cannot mean only what it seems to be on the surface. The surface meaning cannot be ignored – I have never ignored it and the Mother has never ignored it – the riddle, the obscurity, the suffering, the tight hold of the Asura,– but that is neither the whole nor the ultimate truth of existence. It is that one must bend one’s whole effort to get at and not dwell always in the aspects of the surface.

I must remind you that I have been an intellectual myself and no stranger to doubts – both the Mother and myself have had one side of the mind as positive and as insistent on practical results and more so than any Russell can be. We could never have been contented with the shining ideas and phrases which a Rolland or another takes for gold coin of Truth. We know well what is the difference between a subjective experience and a dynamic outward-going and realising Force. So although we have faith,– and who ever did anything great in the world without having faith in his mission or the Truth at work behind him? – we do not found ourselves on faith alone, but on a great ground of knowledge which we have been developing and testing all our lives. I think I can say that I have been testing day and night for years upon years more scrupulously than any scientist his theory or his method on the physical plane. That is why I am not alarmed by the aspect of the world around me or disconcerted by the often successful fury of the adverse Forces who increase in their rage as the Light comes nearer and nearer down to the field of earth and Matter.

If I believe in the probability and not only the possibility, if I feel practically certain of the supramental Descent – I do not fix a date,– it is because I have my grounds for the belief, not merely a faith in the air. I know that the supramental descent is inevitable – I have faith in view of my experience that the time can be and should be now and not in a later age.

But even if I knew it to be for a later time, I would not swerve from my path or be discouraged or flag in my labour. Formerly I might have been, but not now after all the path I have traversed. When one is sure of the Truth, or even when one believes the thing one pursues to be the only possible solution, one does not stipulate for immediate success, one travels towards the Light taking as well worth while and facing every risk of the adventure. Still, like you, it is now in this life that I insist on it and not in another or in the hereafter.


August 31, 1933

This afternoon I was more than all right. I was doing japa as usual and dropped off to sleep. When I saw a curious dream. Maya was sitting by me and a few others equally fond of music asked me to sing. You and Mother were listening. I sang and the song was on Shiva – and was so ecstatic that you got up and blessed me – joining in the hymn. But what was more curious was that as you did this I saw the Shiva in you and I was delighted. This I remember vividly. The rest I don’t, so I won’t risk [describing it?]. I remember bowing to you – falling at your feet in great devotional fervour. All were so moved by the [dignity of?] your rising to bless me and joined in singing the chorus with me. Was it not curious – you who never sing? Tell me however, do you ever sing – I don’t mean music of the spheres but our mortal songs with musical intervals as we understand? As for instance Mother does?

No – I don’t sing on the physical plane. My education in England was badly neglected – though people say to the contrary. I filled in most of the lacunae afterwards, but some remained of which the musical gap is one. But that is no reason why I should not sing on the supraphysical plane where you saw me! There is no exact correspondence between the formation here and the formations there – on the contrary on these inner planes the subliminal as they call it in Europe – that is to say, our inner selves are full of powers which have not emerged – yet at least – in the physical consciousness. And especially as I was full of Shiva in your experience there is no reason why I should not have sung for I suppose Shiva sings as well as dances?

With great difficulty I have just taken quarter of an hour from other work to read the story of Sarat Chatterji’s book. Evidently a wonderful style and a great and perfect creative artist with a profound emotional power!


September 7, 1933

As to the rest, I think there is still a misunderstanding in your mind about the demands of the Yoga. The Divine does not demand a complete solitude, aloof and lonely – it is only a few whose nature needs such concentration within to find themselves who have to do that and even for them a complete segregation is not likely to be helpful except perhaps for a time. All that is necessary is a total turning of the life to the Divine and it can be done by degrees without too much forcing of the nature. Literature, poetry, music can be as much a part of Yoga as anything else.

One can meet the Divine in speaking as well as in silence, in action as well as in physical solitude and quietude. An entire retirement can only be a personal case – and as a condition for an inward or outward work, but it is no general rule indispensable for the sadhana. In many cases, most indeed, it would do more harm than good as has been seen in many cases where it has been unduly attempted. A cheerful and sunny life is as good an atmosphere for Yoga as any the Himalayas can give.

Why then this depression and despair?


September 7, 1933

(from Mother)

Why didn’t you come yourself with the money? I would have seen you for a few minutes and told you something interesting and helpful as an answer to your letter of this morning. For in speaking it would have been better than anything I could write. At pranam time I felt that you were still depressed and I thought that I would try to pour on you some of the Divine forces. I was looking at you for such a long time and it was Divine love that I was pouring on you with a strong will that you should become conscious of the Divine Presence in you and see all your sorrows turn into Ananda. I saw to my great joy that you were very receptive to all these Divine forces and absorbing them without resistance as they were pouring down! When I read your letter and saw that you thought you had received only some human kindness it struck me that it was only a misunderstanding of the mind, almost a question of vocabulary that was standing in the way, and if you could see this all or most of your doubts would disappear for ever and with them your painful difficulties. For what I was pouring in you was not merely human kindness – though surely it contained all that human kindness can be at its best – but Mahalakshmi’s love, Mahasaraswati’s care, Maheswari’s embracing and enveloping light. Do not think of Divine Love as something cold or impersonal or distantly high – it is something as warm and close and tender as any feeling can possibly be. It does not abolish whatever is pure and sweet in human love, but intensifies and sublimates it to its highest. It is this love that the Divine has to give and that you must open yourself to receive. I think if you realise this, it will be easier for you to pierce through the mental veil and receive what you are longing to receive.


September 7, 1933

I can only say that Imagination when a little wildly active can be a Shakespeare and create in real life a new Much Ado about Nothing!

But why suppose that when I send the Doctor to see somebody it is with full instructions what to say and what to recommend? I don’t. I send him in his medical capacity to find out what is wrong, report to me and make recommendations which we accept or reject according to our lights. I sent him because vivid reports were sent to me by Nolini and Amiya herself about her bad condition of health and nocturnal sufferings. I knew of course that it was the nerves but for the physical mind the appearance of medical Authority on the spot is sometimes indispensable. Nothing was recommended about any maunavrata [vow of silence] being necessary, nor had I any intention of imposing anything of the sort. As for the recommendation of quiet and the opening to the Force, the first is always recommended in cases of nervous strain or weakness, for the second the Doctors of the Ashram, especially Upendranath and Becharlal, always recommend because they have seen its effects and believe in it.

I do not understand about this fear. The Mother has never been severe with either Amiya or Nalina231, but always kind, patient and indulgent. If it exists it must be the child of imagination or of Ashram gossip or a prolonged echo of the theories of Barin and others. Obviously it is by love or faith that one opens to the Divine, not by fear.

I do not understand either about this bathroom affair. The Mother naturally does not care to spend money on this house for which we have no lease nor any hope of one at present. But she did not refuse Amiya’s request about cementing – it was only postponed because the B.D. [Building Department] was full of work elsewhere. I think I myself wrote to that effect – then why these ideas about it?

Your idea of exchange of houses if carried out, could not be done till the repairs are over – a delay of two months. But for you also and Anilkumar some arrangement seems urgently necessary till then. Mother suggests that Amiya and Nalina should shift temporarily to Cocotiers upstairs – that being the only possible other place now – and you and Anilkumar should go to Vigie. When the Trésor is ready, we can see what decision is to be finally made. What do you all say to that?


September 9, 1933

The Mother does not wish Anilkumar to go to the Coco-tiers. In fact, the upstairs rooms are so interdependent that two people who are not accustomed to live together would be always in each other’s way. Her idea was that you should both be in the Vigie House.

In respect to that Nalina and Amiya have both written that they are quite willing to go to Cocotiers if it is the Mother’s will – they only objected to the idea that they were dissatisfied with V. H. [Vigie House] and on that ground invited to go elsewhere. That again leaves the choice open to you, either to take V. H. with its terrace and nearness to the sea or the Cocotiers with its interior comfortableness. Amiya and Nalina seem to be attracted by the general report of the Cocotiers and other considerations so that you need have no scruple in making your choice.

About the bulk of your letter I shall try to reply – not at the same length, you will understand that – tomorrow as today I am terribly overburdened with arrears of unanswered letters and other documents of great importance – at least to their writers. I hope you won’t mind the delay.

P.S. I have written to Nolini to show you the Cocotiers in the evening.


September 10, 1933

It is the depression and despondency itself that have no real meaning in the truth of things – for they started from the mistake about Amiya’s segregation and, when that was corrected, they ought to have disappeared. But they have persisted – why? For no tangible and ascertainable cause. Before this happened, you were going on admirably well, expanding rapidly your instrumental capacities, purifying slowly but still steadily the vital weakness, getting much more frequent experiences than before with very promising signs of a stronger entry into the inner consciousness. Here there was no true reason for depression or despair. The reason you now allege are purely mind-made. There is the intellectual doubt about the Divine mingled with the Christian-antichristian conception of an arbitrary God who acts in the world according to his caprice and must be therefore either Jehovah or a monster. There is the difficulty of seeing the Divine in the human and the human in the Divine. There is the difficulty that the Divine has not answered to your call. Old reiterances, all these, and of no fundamental or final value.

The whole world knows, spiritual thinker and materialist alike, that the world for the created or naturally evolved being in the ignorance or the inconscience of Nature is neither a bed of roses nor a path of joyous Light. It is a difficult journey, a battle and struggle, an often painful and chequered growth, a life besieged by obscurity, falsehood and suffering. It has its mental, vital, physical joys and pleasures, but these bring only a transient taste – which yet the vital self is unwilling to forego – and they end in distaste, fatigue or disillusionment. What then? To say the Divine does not exist is easy, but it leads nowhere – it leaves you where you are with no prospect or issue – neither Russell nor any materialist can tell you where you are going or even where you ought to go. The Divine does not manifest himself so as to be recognised in the external world-circumstances – admittedly so. These are not the works of an irresponsible autocrat somewhere – they are the circumstances of a working out of Forces according to a certain nature of being, one might say a certain proposition or problem of being into which we have all really consented to enter and co-operate. The work is painful, dubious, its vicissitudes impossible to forecast? There are either of two possibilities then, to get out of it into Nirvana by the Buddhist or the illusionist way or to get inside oneself and find the Divine there since he is not discoverable on the surface. For those who have made the attempt, and there were not a few but hundreds and thousands, have testified through the ages that he is there and that is why there exists the Yoga. It takes long? The Divine is concealed behind a thick veil of his Maya and does not answer at once or at any early stage to our call? Or he gives only a glimpse uncertain and passing and then withdraws and waits for us to be ready? But if the Divine has any value, is it not worth some trouble and time and labour to follow after him and must we insist on having him without any training or sacrifice or suffering or trouble? It is surely irrational to make a demand of such a nature. It is positive that we have to get inside, behind the veil to find him – it is only then that we can see him outside and the intellect be not so much convinced as forced to admit his presence by experience – just as when a man sees what he has denied and can no longer deny it. But for that the means must be accepted and the persistence in the will and patience in the labour.

As for the Divine and the human, that also is a mind-made trouble. The Divine is there in the human, and the human fulfilling and exceeding its highest aspirations and tendencies becomes the Divine. That is what your silly Upen could not understand – that when the Divine descends, he takes upon himself the burden of humanity in order to exceed it – he becomes human in order to show humanity how to become Divine. But that cannot be if he is himself a weakling without the Divine Forces behind – he has to be strong in order to put his strength into all who are willing to receive it. There is therefore in him a double element – human in front, Divine behind – and it is that which gives the impression of unfathomableness of which Upen complained – indulging in that the iconoclast in him who cannot bear anything he feels to be superior to himself. If you look upon the human alone, looking with the external eye only and are not willing or ready to see anything else, you will see a human being only – if you look for the Divine, you will find the Divine. That has been always your difficulty – but it can only be solved by inner experience which will open the external eye also. You were actually heading that way before this crisis disturbed you.

But it is really an unnecessary crisis that you have created by indulging this depression after its outward cause had been removed. It is because you did not reject it at once, but came back to your former habit of indulging it and feeding it with “reasons”. There is a development which takes place through crisis and one cannot always escape them, but it seems to me a wasteful process and not one I could recommend to anyone. It comes like that because some vital part in you opens to a force which wants it like that – even though your own mind does not want it. If it had been only your own difficulty, it would not have been so violent, it would have been solved long ago; but by assenting to the depression you make yourself a sort of representative of the World-vital or that part of it which is dissatisfied with life and attached to it, seeking for Yoga or spiritual release and yet revolting against it; finally crying in bitter vairāgya against both the Divine and world existence.

There is no reason at all why you should fail in this Yoga. Defeat is not truly in your nature, success and victory are in your nature. But you must lose this habit of indulging depression, of making yourself the mouthpiece for the painful feelings and defeatist reasonings of this sorrowful and dangerous World-Vital. You must give a real chance to the capacity within you to come out as it did in poetry in spite of the first outward incapacities and failures. It has shown itself whenever you got an experience and it has only to gather strength enough to push down the screen for good. But it can’t be done by the method of seeking a mournful solitude or an imitation of Bejoy’s retirement. Bejoy has made a theory of taking upon himself all the imperfections and struggles of everybody in a recurrent mass in order to digest and destroy or else transform them. I could not recommend to you his theory or the example of his solitude.

As you have decided to get over the [a word crossed out] decide also to get rid of this depression trouble. You were on the way to do it and the fits were becoming less in duration and power. Do not allow this relapse – for which there was no true rational reason – to overcome your resolution or throw you back. Attacks and crises come and they go, but the goal and the Ideal remain – for that is the Eternal.

P.S. I never thought that I would be able to write so long a reply, but by good fortune, almost a miracle, I was able to finish the regular work for the day at 3 a.m. instead of the usual 5.30, so I have put in two hours writing this letter. I could not find time to read the Sylhet letter you sent me, so I keep it and will send after reading.


September 15, 1933

I stand rather aghast at your summons to stand and deliver the names of the ten or twelve best prose styles in the world’s literature. I had no names in mind and I used the incautious phrase only to indicate the high place I thought Bankim held among the great masters of language. To rank the poets on different grades of the Hill of Poetry is a pastime which may be a little frivolous and unnecessary, but possible and permissible. I would not venture to try the same game with the prose-writers who are multitudinous and do not present the same marked and unmistakable differences of level and power. The prose field is a field, with eminences no doubt, much more than a mountain. The tops if there are any are not so high, the drops not so low as in poetical literature.

Then again there are great writers in prose and great prosewriters and the two are by no means the same thing. Dickens and Balzac are great novelists, but their style or their frequent absence of style had better not be described; Scott has a style I suppose, but it is neither blameless nor has distinguishing merit. Other novelists have a style and a good one but their prose is not quoted as a model and they are remembered not for that but as creators. You speak of Meredith, and if Meredith had always written as he did in Richard Feverel he might have figured chiefly as a master of language, but the creator got the better of the stylist in the bulk of his work. I was writing of prose styles and what was in my mind was those achievements in which language reached its acme of perfection in one manner or another so that whatever the writer touched became a thing of beauty – no matter what its substance – or a perfect form and memorable. Bankim seemed to me to have achieved that in his own way as Plato in his or Cicero or Tacitus in theirs or in French literature, Voltaire, Flaubert or Anatole France. I could name others, but especially in French which is the greatest store-house of fine prose among the world’s languages – there is no other to match it. Matthew Arnold once wrote a line that runs something like this:

“France great in all great arts, in none supreme,”

to which someone very aptly replied, “And what then of the art of prose-writing? Is it not a great art and what other country can approach France there? All prose of other languages seems beside its perfection, lucidity, measure, almost clumsy.”

There are many remarkable prose-writers in English, but that essential or fundamental perfection which is almost like a second nature to the French writers is not so common. The great prose-writers in English seem to seize you by the personality they express in their styles rather than by its perfection as an instrument – it is true at least of the earliest and I think too of the later writers. Lamb whom you mention is a signal example of a writer who erected his personality into a style and lives by that achievement – Pater and Wilde are other examples.

As for Bengali, we have had Bankim and have still Tagore and Sarat Chatterji. That is achievement enough for a single century.

I have not answered your question – but I have explained my phrase and I think that is all you can expect from me.


September 25, 1933

Last night till 2 a.m. I composed this song in laghu guru chhanda: seven mātrās to the bar à la mātrā-vṛtta. Nishikanto has liked this chhanda so much that he has composed a sister song to this poem. I am sure this chhanda will be pronounced by the prosodists as original and full of power which laghu guru only can inspire.

I felt a sense of great power – a sense of upsurge of the vital. I am a little uneasy on that score, as I have no desire to let my poetry become what you call “vital poetry”. Please let me know if I truly run that risk. The tune I set it to is also very powerful and I felt a vivid thrill of power as I sang it last night in the dhrupad dhamar style.

The laghu guru here is quite obviously triumphant – it flows without any difficulty. What I mean by vital poetry is that in which appeal to sense or sensation, to the vital thrill, is so dominant that the mental content of the poetry takes quite a secondary place. Either word and sound tend to predominate over sense or else the nerves and blood are thrilled (as e.g. in war poetry) but the mind and soul do not find an equal satisfaction. This does not mean that there is to be no vital element in poetry – without the vital nothing living can be done. In this respect I do not find your poem at all defective so the fear is without foundation. When you write the psychic being is always behind it – even when you are in the depths of mental and vital despondency, as soon as you write the psychic being intervenes and throws its self-expression into what you write. It is that, that has made people with some inner life in them, those who have some touch of the spiritual, feel these poems of yours so much. That too is the main reason (there are others) why I have given unstinted encouragement to your poetry, because it is the psychic means of self-expression in you – there you are at once open.


September 29, 1933

I don’t see why there should be any dispute about the matter. A good novel is a good novel – whether it is all head and no heart or all heart and no head makes no essential difference. Only the vitalist has this advantage that if it is all story and no idea it can run, but if it is all idea and no story it is more difficult [...]


October 1933

We quite approve of your resolution about propaganda, etc. But at any rate this has helped your sadhana which is an example of how the cosmic spirit sometimes, at least, extracts good out of evil.

What you say about the ahaṅkār [ego-sense] of the instrument is true – it is one of the most sticky of the ego’s self-deceptions and there are few who can detect it soon or get early clear of it. I think I can congratulate you on your becoming aware of it at so early a stage. There are some who do not discover it even after ten or twenty years of sadhana....


October 10, 1933

I am feeling as well as well can be. I enclose herewith Tagore’s translation of Harin’s poem with his letter. You will note his apology: Tagore had rendered Shelley’s “I cannot give thee what men call love” which was very mediocre. This poem I think you will find good, but surely Tagore’s powers are on the wane, don’t you think. His contention that he could not keep any rhymes is a confession of his failure: but he makes no ado: he confesses he has no power to translate poetry into poetry.

I am afraid his powers are very much on the wane, but let us not whisper it too loud. The setting of a great genius and one that after all, created on a very high level for a very long time.

But that does not mean that I am not grateful to him for his great favour. I want to do my little best with your and Mother’s grace to publish a number of Harin’s translations in the prospective anthology and for that Tagore’s favour cannot be prized too much. I am sure Harin too will appreciate it. Tagore was unwilling to translate: in another letter which I did not send you, as I was disappointed by his refusal he paid a tribute to Harin’s verse but declined to translate any – very politely. So I strategically sent him just this poem with a request on the margin. My importunity has been crowned with success: so your prophecy is fulfilled: that I am not cut out for defeat. But jokes apart, this is a victory for Harin’s verse: that he could by the compelling beauty of his poems extort a translation of an unwilling Tagore who reasonably fears that qua translation Buddhadev’s rendering will be adjudged as superior. I will send you tomorrow his translation of Shelley. But I don’t mean, mind you, that this translation is as indifferent as the former: only I had expected a better achievement at the hands of Tagore. But please send me back this letter of mine with Tagore’s translation I will show it to Harin. If possible send me your verdict. Of course I won’t tell it to Tagore. Tagore’s translation of Shelley was not liked by Nolini either, but this one is likeable – but far from achievement. Anyway I will be grateful for your verdict.

It is good, of course, but I am bound to say I miss the rhymes. In order to make up for their absence he has had to replace Harin’s lyrical grace and charm of simple delicate emotion by a gravity and power in the diction which has its value but is not the same thing. However, a translation by Tagore is in itself an éclatant homage.

So rippling along once more on the waters of Poesy! There is really no holding me, don’t you think?

I hope so – why should the divine waters be held?


October 27, 1933

Yes, there is a thread in the meander [?]. I find also that you are succeeding very well in your object – now that you have the full mastery over metre and language, to use it for the perfect and precise poetic expression of what you feel and need to say – a move from brilliance and colour to a maturer power of utterance. Needless to say, it is very fine poetry throughout. I shall await the second half with interest.


October 30, 1933

Why is there the sadness? If it is due to difficulty in the Yoga, you should not yield to it. Reject all doubt about the issue and proceed with a steady perseverance and unfailing will that success, however long the resistance, shall be yours.


October 31, 1933

Yes, the solution is certainly the Divine Grace – it comes of itself intervening suddenly or with an increasing force when all is ready. Meanwhile, it is there behind all the struggles, and “the unconquerable aspiration for the light” of which you speak is the outward sign that it will intervene. As for the two natures, it is only one form of the perpetual duality in human nature from which nobody escapes, so universal that many systems recognise it as a standing feature to be taken account of in their discipline, the two Personae, one bright, one dark, in every human being. If that were not there, Yoga would be an easy walk-over and there would be no struggle. But its presence is not any reason for thinking that there is unfitness; the obstinacy of the worldly element is also not a reason, for it is always obstinate in its very nature. It is like the Germans in their trenches, falling back and digging themselves in for a new mass attack, every time they are baffled. But for all that, if the bright persona is equally determined not to be satisfied without the crown of light, if it is strong enough to make the being unable to rest content in lesser things, then that is the sign that the being is called, one of the elect in spite of outward appearances and its own doubts and despairs – who has them not, not even a Christ or a Buddha is without them – and that the inner spirit will surely win in the end. There is no cause for any apprehension on that score.

I have read the continuation of your poem; they maintain as high a level as the first half.


November 5, 1933

I have read the last pages and have no words to praise their perfection of feeling and expression, their restrained power and beauty. You wrote some wonderful lyrics with the psychic note when the poetic faculty first opened in you, but this I think is your high water-mark – though I have no doubt you will surpass it hereafter, even if that does not look an easy thing to do. I will read the whole over again once more – time or no time.

Go on the path of Yoga without doubt of the ultimate success – surely you cannot fail! Doubts – they are nothing; keep the fire of aspiration burning, it is that that conquers.


November 14, 1933

No, the supramental has not descended into the body or into Matter – it is only at the point where such a descent has become not only possible but inevitable – I am speaking, of course, of my own experience. But as my experience is the centre and condition of all the rest, that is sufficient for the promise.

I am not able to answer your letter just now for it is full of bristling questions, but I shall do it today – in the course of the day. Only my difficulty is that you all seem to expect a kind of miraculous fairy-tale change and do not realise that it is a rapid and concentrated evolution which is the aim of my sadhana and that there must be a process for it, a working of the higher in the lower and a dealing with all the necessary materials – not a sudden feat of the Creator by which everything is done on a given date. It is a supramental but not an irrational process. What is to be done will happen – perhaps with a rush even – but in a workmanlike way and not according to Faerie.

However I will try to explain all that as far as possible – in principle only of course – as far as it can be explained to the physical mind which has not yet any vision of what the supramental is. For the rest, I will try to meet the points you make.


November 15, 1933

I find there is no chance of finishing any long letter on the Supramental today – for the Overmind has heaped Andes on Himalayas and the Alps on the Andes (paper of course) and buried me underneath the mass. So I shall only pen a few passing answers to details today.

First, what is a perfect technique of Yoga or rather of a world-changing or Nature-changing Yoga? Not one that takes one man by a little bit of him somewhere, attaches a hook and pulls him up by a pulley into Nirvana or Paradise? The technique of a world-changing Yoga has to be as multiform, sinuous, patient, all-including as the world itself – has it not? If it does not deal with all the difficulties or possibilities and carefully deal with each necessary element, has it any chance of success? And can a perfect technique which everybody can understand do that? It is not like writing a small poem in a fixed metre with a limited number of modulations. If you take the poem simile, it is the Mahabharata of a Mahabharata that has to be done. And what, compared with the limited Greek perfection, is the technique of the Mahabharata?

Next, what is the use of vicārabuddhi in such a case? If one has to get a new consciousness which surpasses the reasoning intellect, can one do it on lines which are to be judged and understood by the reasoning intellect, controlled at every step by it, told by the intellect what it is to do, what is the measure of its achievements, what its steps must be and what their value? If one does that, will one ever get out of the range of the reasoning intelligence into what is beyond it? And if one does, how shall others judge what one is doing by the intellectual measure? How can one judge what is beyond the ordinary consciousness when one is oneself in the ordinary consciousness? Is it not only by exceeding yourself that you can feel, experience, judge what exceeds you? What is the value of a judgment without the feeling and experience?

What the Supramental will do the mind cannot foresee or lay down. The mind is Ignorance seeking for the Truth, the supramental by its very definition is Truth-Consciousness, Truth in possession of itself and fulfilling itself by its own power. In a supramental world imperfection and disharmony are bound to disappear. But what we propose just now is not to make the earth a supramental world but to bring down the supramental as a power and established consciousness in the midst of the rest – to let it work there and fulfil itself as Mind descended into Life and Matter and has worked as a Power there to fulfil itself in the midst of the rest. This will be enough to change the world and to change Nature by breaking down her present limits. But what, how, by what degrees it will do it, is a thing that ought not to be said now – when the Light is there, the Light will itself do its work – when the Supramental Will stands on earth, that Will will decide. It will establish a perfection, a harmony, a Truth-creation – for the rest, well, it will be the rest – that is all.

This is only a preface – the book follows.


November 16, 1933

My poem – the duologue between Cloud and Earth – I send herewith. Please tell me the difference between allegory and symbolism so that I may classify this poem.

There is a difference between symbolism and allegory. Allegory is when a quality or other abstract thing is personalised – symbolism is when a living truth is given an image or figure – in mystic poetry a living truth is a living image or figure. Allegory is an intellectual form for nobody believes in the personalisation of the abstract quality, it is only a poetic device. Symbolism supposes that both the truth and the symbol are living powers.

In this duologue I have imagined the Earth and the Cloud as conscious sentient entities. True, I have made each the mouth-piece of my own feelings and intuitions, but while I expressed these I was struck by a profound inarticulate stirring within me which suggested to me that my attribution of consciousness to them was perhaps not entirely fanciful as physical science would, doubtless, opine. I mean, I felt as though the Earth too had a concrete sentient rhythm of its own and could aspire for the Descent of the Supramental (of which I have written in her own words) thereby preparing herself more and more to receive it. But what about the Cloud, and shall we say Fire? Is my feeling true that they also count as sentient entities?

Entirely true as far as the Earth is concerned and true not so much for the cloud as for the Cloud-Power or Cloud-Spirit. The Earth is a conscious being and the globe is the form in which it manifests – behind the Cloud or Fire etc. there are Fire and Cloud Spirits of which the action of cloud or fire is a manifestation. This is an ancient knowledge which Science began to pooh-pooh, but anyone who passes the physical barrier can find it out for himself.

While I wrote this duologue the similes and images all but poured into me! And I marvelled where they came from! Evidently not from the intellect, for I was myself sceptical or rather intellectually unconvinced of the validity of what I wrote and was, as it were made to write it all – propelled by my irresistible groping intuitions. Besides, the images and symbols etc. came to me intermittently as though by flashes, if you know what I mean. This preface is only to ask you about their origin, that is, to know where the images come from, as also to ascertain what value they have here. Has it merely a poetical, that is beauty-value or is there truth-value also? What I mean is this (and you will please tell me if I understand rightly?) that expression per se has a world of its own and value as well, so that an idea or an image beautifully expressed need not be true in the last analysis, and may live by virtue of its beauty-value even if what is represented as true may be miles away from the real reality. But nevertheless – (though this might sound as paradox, but then paradoxes are often true) – the shock of delight arising out of the creation of anything beautiful but unreal, may come from some region of Truth – living Truth, may it not be so?

There are truths and there are transcriptions of the truths. The transcriptions may be accurate or may be free and imaginative. The truth behind a poetic creation is there on some plane or other, supraphysical generally – and from there the image too comes. So there is a transcription partly contributed from there, partly by the external mind’s faculty of imagination. Poetic imagination in the external mind is satisfied with beauty of idea and image only and the Ananda of it, but there is something behind it which supplies the Truth. When Shelley made the spirits of Nature speak, he was using his imagination, but there was something behind in him which felt and knew and believed in the truth of the thing he was expressing. Symbolic poems always come from a mystic region – the allegorical may come from the intellect, but often the allegory itself rests on a concealed symbol and then there is a mystic element.

Anyway please tell me where does the inspiration of such allegorical poems come from as I know it is not from the intellect. But does it come from any mystic region?

Am I right in assuming that this poem is somewhat more mystic that any I have yet written?

Yes. I shall have to read it again in detail before I can tell you how far and in what way.

I am superminding the letter on the supramental.


November 18, 1933

But your definition of allegory and symbolism leaves me somewhat at sea. Please let me know clearly what the type of my poem is, in essence. Is it allegorical or symbolic? Also I have a feeling it is in a sense truly mystic, properly speaking; at any rate, more mystic than many that I have hitherto written. Am I right?

I return the poem. I need not I think say anything about the poem as a poem – it rises to your full standard in rhythm and language.

It is a little difficult to fix its type, because it starts as a kind of allegory and merges into the symbol. I mean in the details – for the cloud is evidently a symbol, while the earth is neither allegory nor symbol, but simply the earth – or the earth-consciousness, if you like, which comes to the same thing. If you intended it for an allegory throughout, I do not think it keeps its character. For an allegory must be intellectually precise in its basis however much adorned with imagery and personal expression, but in each case the interlocutors express not the play of abstract things or ideas put into imaged form, but the experience, one of the earth as consciousness in its blind feeling for something it cannot reach and which it yearns after while not even sure of its existence the other of the seeking Intermediary which seeks and finds and brings down to the earth what the Vedas call the Rain of Heaven. It should therefore be called a symbolic poem rather than an allegorical poem. The poem is in its nature a first step between the poetic mental treatment of these mystic subjects as in one or two of the earlier poems (not the more lyrical ones, for those were psychic) and the sheer mystic – a step from thought towards sight.


November 20, 1933

There is no obligation on European visitors to make the pranam – very few have done so, none perhaps. Even from those who have stayed here, it was not asked – they were left free to abstain unless they asked for it – e.g. [Maitland?], Nandini, Von [?] and Shantimayi. Moore must not get the impression that we exact it from anybody. I do not know whether a mere “look” at us will help him – it is only in some cases that that happens, and there usually when there was a previous disposition or habit of response to supraphysical Light or Power as in the case of Demarquette. These days have been arranged with a view first to their main object, viz. for myself to give the darshan and blessing to the disciples, and the form of it is designed for that – visitors first came in as a superfluity, though now except in November they are more than half the crowd. But as they are mostly Indians accustomed to this form of the spiritual contact and aware of its meaning, it does not usually matter. It is only when a European comes that this difficulty arises – but it need not be any as he is not asked to make the pranam.

As for the rest, there is nothing much to say. The distance between the man and the Power manifesting through him is not an idea that can trouble the eastern mind, to which the gulf does not exist, but it is natural to the modern intelligence.

In any case since he is coming only in the evening of the 24th – is that what he means? – the question of the darshan no longer arises, I suppose.

I shall deal with your translation as soon as possible.


November 23, 1933

It (the third eye) is sure. There has been a remarkable change in you recently as the Mother has several times seen in these days – and even others who have accurate vision have seen the descending light upon you.


November 1933

But I thought that X might not be encouraged so hastily by our ever-encouraging Mother (albeit a charming assurer of lost souls but maybe only till the day of collapse – if such encouragement is given to a life of wine and women) as the value of encouragement is somewhat diminished when what is encouraged – as X maintained his outside life of reckless war – is not so thrilling a life after all?

Encouragement, yes, but not false encouragement – especially on such egregious, hair-raising, thunder-striking and flabbergasting grounds!


November 25, 1933

[...] Mr. Moore asked me whether after doing Yoga life and things appeared to me to be instinct with a significance they had not had before, whether I reacted to the world of senses in a more vivid way. I had to say no to his question, and I feel depressed I had to say it. For I realised once more as I answered thus that Yoga had not made any fundamental change inside me which I could pronounce desirable or enviable as for instance the change that Moore implied must be adjudged. I see of course that life disgusts me far more than it ever did before – which we call vairāgya, but vairāgya of itself is not a “consummation devoutly to be wished,” unless and until it leads to a positive realisation, let us say, of the kind Moore suggested. For without a higher compensation the falling off of the capacity for comparatively sublunary joys must be reckoned a dead loss, must it not? So I begin to distrust myself again alas! I also doubt whether I have progressed in bhakti....

Why do you believe everything that people tell you? What I told Puranmull was that he had once progressed greatly, he had afterwards allowed himself to yield to the bad habits that rose from his lower nature and fallen from the psychic contact and that until he got rid of these things which were the cause of all his sufferings he would not progress or recover his contact with the Mother. We never told him that he was making progress now or that his coarse indulgence was a sign of (no doubt, miraculous, godlike and amazing) progress. God in Heaven, what things people put in my mouth and the Mother’s!

I see that Moore has put you out of condition, the only thing to be done is to shake off the Moorish touch and get back into the condition of preparation for opening of the consciousness which was forming and had already begun. I need not, I think, deal specifically with the forms your self-distrust has taken. They crop up whenever you allow these forces of depression to come in – forces of mental and vital tamas of which self-distrust and self-depreciation (which is different from spiritual humility) are the most recognised forms. When you are in the right condition, you do not complain of absence of bhakti or general deterioration and retrogression and a black gulf of unprogress. You recognise where you have progressed and where the preparation is still deficient – this doubt about your soul is of course the chief stumbling block in your way, but it has to be faced and got rid of or reduced to a minimum like the others.

The view of the world of which Moore possibly spoke (he may have meant something more superficial and trivial) cannot come from the mind, still less from the vital expecting something from life as it is. Life as it is has nothing to give except to those who are satisfied with surface pleasure. The inner view can only come from a change of consciousness which sees the deeper inner life behind appearances – and it is that change of consciousness which was preparing in you because you were drawing back from the vital view of things – the vairāgya was only an outward and negative sign of that withdrawal. It is not a time to fall back into the clutches – of this harpy of self-distrust. Get back into the light of the coming dawn which was upon you – above your head still, but there!


November 29, 1933

I am very glad to get your letter and the beautiful poem and know that the disturbance is over. These things come across, but they cannot prevent the destined fulfilment. Let the mind fall quiet and the higher Mind come down into you with its light, peace, wideness and openness direct and large to the Divine.


December 1933

I don’t belittle intelligence at all. It is the claims of the intellect to judge what is beyond itself that I belittle. Intelligence properly used is an excellent thing; everything is excellent in its own place.


December 19, 1933

(from Mother)

I am sorry you spoke to Venkataraman instead of speaking to Chandulal as I had suggested. Chandulal said and repeated that there is no true objection at all to your going back to the Trésor from this very day if you like. It seems that there had been already a discussion of the subject between Chandulal and Venkataraman before you came to me; C. saying that you could very well move in and V. making all sorts of objections.

This quarrel is most regrettable; I have never given authority to V. to decide when you can or cannot go back to your rooms, and when I have said that you can go I do not see how anybody can say a word to the contrary.

I agree with you that too much money has been spent on that house, and it is Chandulal’s opinion also. He was telling me that very thing no later than yesterday; but you will allow me not to follow your reasoning about princes. A house is made nice not for the sake of its occupants but for its own sake, and those who are to live in it have no reason to feel shy or uncomfortable about it.

So I hope you will brush aside this unpleasant happening and take all measure to move tomorrow to the Trésor as you told me you would do.


December 25, 1933

This afternoon after my mid-day meal I meditated in the smaller new room (qui est une chambre très sympathique, il n’y a pas un mot pour sympathique en anglais235) after about an hour or so suddenly the current started at the head after a long time and the waves through the body as before. Only my body was less numb than before. There was also the difference that while doing japa of Mother’s name I feel the current giving me much more pronounced peace and a feeling of being soothed (formerly the peace was not so pronounced) and I felt really happy thanks to Mother’s grace.

It is very good. The increase of peace whether in intensity or solidity is always the first tangible result of the descent. It is very necessary because it is in the consciousness at peace that either the Power can work at ease or the Presence manifest itself.


December 26, 1933

I did not write to you because writing especially on these things, your poetry and your music, seemed to me superfluous – your success in these things has become a chose acquise [acquired thing]. I told Sahana because she asked the question and in doing so I indicated that the whole concert had been a success – and I praised the Radha song specially because it was the best, not only because of her singing but the song and music were so admirably beautiful – a compliment which was meant as well for you as for her. In fact the whole thing was very successful and admirably organised from beginning to end, each item a success in its place. So I don’t see why you should feel like that. Perhaps I should have written, but there is always at night the overwhelming press of work to be done and in the evening I was trying to finish the translation of your poem236 which I am trying to make as perfect as possible. Of course I would have written if I had thought you could have any doubts about our appreciation of your music. As for Harin, I don’t know whether his abstention was due at all to his not having been encouraged by the Mother to sing himself before a large audience, but he put it on the ground of sadhana and it was on the ground of sadhana that Mother said he need not come. To ask to be left out of the music237 is to ask for the music to be left out, for these things would be impossible without you,– you know very well that no one else would be able to do it rightly and that the development in this part of our life here rests on you and you alone.

For the rest, the difficulty of getting the perfect equanimity is a fact, but not for you alone – it has been so for all of us – it is too universal for you to make it a legitimate ground of discouragement. Nothing is more necessary, but nothing is more difficult. So there is no reason why you should discount my encouragement. My encouragement is given in spite of difficulties and not because I think there are none. Never mind these momentary mishaps – shake off the mood and once more en avant.


December 26, 1933

What can be stranger than this idea of yours that Mother likes only European music and does not like or appreciate Indian music – that she only pretends to do it or that she tolerates it so as not discourage people! Remember that it is the Mother who has always praised and supported your music and put her force behind you so that your music might develop into spiritual perfection and beauty. In your poetry it was I that supported you most, in detail, the Mother could only do it with a general force, because she could not read the original (though she found them in translation very beautiful) but in the music it has been just the other way round. You surely are not going to say that all that was unfelt? And the development of Sahana? That too was Indian music, not European. And then when I write to you in praise of your music, do you think it is only my opinion that I am transmitting? Most often it is her words that I use to express our common feeling.


December 27, 1933

I read your dream with great interest. It seems to me that it was, as the Mother told you, one part of your physical mind (your grandfather’s part, so to speak) conversing with another part of the physical mind, your original own – the turn of the conversation being conditioned by the sorrowful mood in which you were. Dreams of this kind are sometimes, if properly used, luminous guides to a certain kind of self-knowledge.

I am sorry to hear that your cold has developed an unnecessary adjuvant of fever. I hope the health habit in your vital will shake it off without delay.

End of Volume I


1 Dadaji: Sri Dilip Kumar lovingly called so by his disciples later in his life.


2 Poet Rabindranath Tagore once wrote: “Dilip Kumar possesses one great gift; he wants to hear which is the reason why he can draw out things worth hearing. Wanting to hear is not a passive quality but an active one; it awakens our power of speech because we come to know our minds truly through expressions. Dilip Kumar has on many occasions given me the joy of discovering my own thoughts.”


3 Sri Aurobindo once wrote to Nirod (on 2 November 1938): “It is altogether irrational to expect me to read my own writing – I write for others to read, not for myself – it is their business to puzzle out the words.”


4 Apad and Jalatanka.


5 Conversations with the Mother is the title of a book by Mother which contains a few talks she had with a few disciples every Sunday evening in 1929. These talks took place at Dilip’s residence and were first published in 1931.


6 We used square brackets instead of vertical lines.


7 A Bengali novel by Dilip: Ranger Parash (Touch of Colour).


8 Amal Kiran (K. D. Sethna).


9 A Bengali translation of Sri Aurobindo’s poem, “God.” (The question mark after “Radharani” is Sri Aurobindo’s.)


10 B. Russell, The Conquest of Happiness (Allen & Unwin, London, 1930), p. 160: “We are all prone to the malady of the introvert, who, with the manifold spectacle of the world spread out before him, turns away and gazes upon the emptiness within.”


11 Sahid Suhrawardy, a Bengali poet and Dilip’s friend. He graduated from the Calcutta University with honours in 1910 and from Oxford in 1914. He became secretary to the artistic section of the League of Nations. Later on he became Nizam professor of Indian Studies at Vishva Bharati, then Bageswari professor of Comparative Arts at Calcutta University. He gave brilliant lectures from 1923 to 1943. After India’s Partition, he went to Pakistan and became Pakistan’s ambassador to Spain in 1955.


12 Harindranath Chattopadhyay, a poet and cinema actor, brother of Mrinalini Chattopadhyay and Sarojini Naidu. Husband of Kamala Devi Chattopadhyay.


13 From Dilip’s Toku Mama.


14 John Chadwick, an English poet who came to the Ashram in 1930 from Lucknow where he was a lecturer in Philosophy. Sri Aurobindo named him “Arjava” (meaning “simplicity,” “straightforwardness”).


15 Possibly a lost letter.


16 “Sahana” is the name of one of the thirty-six melodies of classical Indian music. Our Sahana (17 May 1897 – 6 April 1990) was that melody incarnate. Born with a golden voice she could also faultlessly pick up a song just hearing it once. A niece of Deshbandhu C. R. Das, Sahana was born in Faridpur (now in Bangladesh). Her pet name was Jhunu, and that is how Rabindranath always addressed her affectionately. He was extremely fond of her and lent her a helping hand when she was in dire need of it.

Married on 18 February 1916, she found life pretty dry. Then, later on, for the sake of Dilip, she left her husband. And she was sick with tuberculosis. She was cured, but that was the occasion for turning inward – her life of fame and celebrity palled on her.

Then it was that Sahana turned to Mother and Sri Aurobindo. From Bangalore she took a train to Madras. There she joined a group from Bengal, in which was Moni. Strangely enough, Dilip had an experience in Lucknow on November 15, 1928, which decided him to take the plunge; he reached Madras (via Bombay) on the same day as the others. All of them reached Pondicherry on November 22. Sahana never left, and breathed there her last on April 6, 1990. She was such a wonderful person! Full of affection for us all. She sang till the end.


17 Nolini Kanto Gupta (13 January 1889 – 7 February 1984), a revolutionary. He was arrested and tried in the Alipore Bomb Case, and freed after one year. He worked with Sri Aurobindo for the magazines Dharma and Karmayogin. Six months after Sri Aurobindo’s arrival at Pondicherry, Nolini joined him. From Sri Aurobindo he learned Sanskrit, Greek, Latin, French, etc. Apart from articles in magazines, he published books in Bengali (52), English (38) and French (5). He was Sri Aurobindo’s “postman.”


18 This poem is Tamisrāya meaning “In the darkness,” in Anāmī. (Dilip’s note.)


19 Tagore had written, “All creators are lonely – so is Sri Aurobindo”.


20 Justice Khitish Chandra Sen, a poet and litterateur. He translated into English Rabindranath Tagore’s famous poem to Sri Aurobindo.


21 Udayshankar (8 December 1900 – 26 September 1977), a renowned dancer and choregrapher. He joined London’s Royal College of Arts and completed the five-year course in three years, obtained ARCA degree and diploma in composition. He met Anna Pavlova and at her request composed two pieces on Indian themes. He shared the stage with her. She inspired him to follow Eastern tradition of dance and not Western. He rediscovered India’s richness, learned Kathakali with Shankaran Namboodiri and adapted Western theatrical techniques to traditional Indian dance. He did several tours in Europe and America in the early 1930s with famous musicians, among them his younger brother Ravi Shankar, Allauddin Khan and Ali Akbar Khan along with Timirbaran. In 1939 he founded the Udayshankar Cultural Centre in Almora.


22 A famous Bengali musician, who headed a troupe in Calcutta. He was the conductor of the orchestra that accompanied Udayshankar’s dance.


23 The Greek word means “to be inspired or possessed by a god”.


24 Sarat Chandra Chatterji (15 September 1876 – 16 January 1938), a top Bengali novelist and short story writer. He is ranked just after Rabindranath in Bengali literature. Some of his books are based on his own adventures of which he had plenty. He had also joined several political movements, and written articles on politics which are scattered in various periodicals.


25 A conference held in London in 1930-32 to draw up a new Constitution for India.


26 I.e. when every morning the disciples’ letters or notebooks would be returned to them with Sri Aurobindo’s answers.


27 Mother used to distribute soup every evening. She would first meditate while keeping her hands extended over the container. Meditation over, one by one the disciples approached with an empty cup which Mother filled with the hot soup.


28 Wife of famous Bengali writer Sri Buddhadev Basu, herself an eminent writer of Bengali novels.


29 Sri Aurobindo spent most of his nights answering the disciple’s letters.


30 Baudelaire’s poem, “Elevation.”


31 This refers to Shelley’s well-known poem:

I can give not what men call love,

But wilt thou accept not

The worship the heart lifts above

And the Heavens reject not –

The desire of the moth for the star,

Of the night for the morrow,

The devotion to something afar

From the sphere of our sorrow?


32 In the book the phrase is unquoted, so we put this closing quotation-mark by guess.– Ed. of this e-publication.


33 A journal published by Barin.


34 Sister Maya and brother-in-law Bhavashankar, son of Surendranath Banerji, the well-known Moderate Congress leader.


35 Birendra Kishore Roy Chowdury, Zamindar of Gouripur, East Bengal. A veteran sarod player and very close friend and admirer of Dilip. He became a disciple of Sri Aurobindo at the instance of Dilip.


36 Dilip’s note: Birendrakishore had written to me a letter in which he reported Tagore as having said to him with a sigh that Sri Aurobindo had told him in 1928 that he would “expand” after two years.


37 In his well-known letter of 7 April 1920 to his younger brother Barin, Sri Aurobindo wrote: “These past ten years He has been making me develop it [the body of this Yoga] in experience, and it is not yet finished. It may take another two years....”


38 Pramatha Chowdhuri (7 August 1868 – 2 September 1946). In 1899, he married Indira Devi, daughter of Satyendranath Tagore, an elder brother of Rabindranath. He knew thoroughly English and French literatures. He founded the magazine Sabuj Patra and wrote under the pseudonym Birbal. A powerful group of new writers gathered around Sabuj Patra and gave a new direction to the Bengali language.


39 Nandalal Bose (3 February 1883 – 16 August 1966), the great artist. “Transformation” is the meaning given by Mother to Millingtonia hortensis, the flower of the Indian cork tree.


40 Buddhadev Basu (30 Nov. 1908 – 18 March 1974), poet (in Bengali and English), novelist, dramatist, literary critic. Author of Bandir Bandana, and other works. He received the Sahitya Academy Award in 1967 and Padmabhushan in 1970. Pratibha Basu, his wife, is also a writer.


41 Who remembers his past birth.


42 A well-known critic of Indian art of the times.


43 French for “What do you say?”


44 This refers to Mother’s illness, which she recounted to Satprem in Mother’s Agenda, vol. 5, August 14, 1964:

“... I remember (Sri Aurobindo was here), I caught a sort of fever like influenza from contact with the workers, one of those fevers that take hold of you brutally, instantly, and in the night I had a temperature of more than 105. Anyway, it was... And then I spent my night studying what people call «delirium» – (laughing) it was very interesting! I was explaining it to Sri Aurobindo (he was there: I was lying on the bed and he was sitting by the bedside), I told him, «This is what’s going on, that is what’s going on... and that (such and such and such a thing) is what gives people what doctors call ‘delirium’». It isn’t ‘delirium’.... I remember having been assailed for hours by little entities, vital forms that were hideous, vile, and so vicious! An unequaled cruelty. They rushed at me in a troop, I had to fight to repel them: they retreated, moved forward, retreated, moved forward ... And for hours like that. Naturally, at that time I had Sri Aurobindo’s full power and presence, and yet it lasted three or four hours. So I thought, «How terrible it must be for the poor devils who have neither the knowledge I have, nor the power I have, nor Sri Aurobindo’s protective presence – all the best conditions.» It must be frightful, oh!... I have never in my life seen anything so disgusting.

“I had picked it all up in the workers’ atmosphere. Because I hadn’t been careful, it was the «festival of arms» and I had been in «communion» with them: I had given them some food and taken something they’d given me, which means it was a terrible communion. And I brought all that back.

“I was ill for a long time, several days.”


45 Greek philosopher, statesman and poet known for his cosmological writings.


46 Latin poet and philosopher known for his single, long poem “De rerum Natura” [On the Nature of things] in which he tried to show that the course of the world can be explained without postulating divine intervention.


47 Sri Aurobindo means “a.m.”


48 Brahma-sūtras, also known as Vedanta-sūtras, is one of three fundamental treatises of Vedantic thought, the other two being the Bhagavad Gita and the Upanishads. Together they are known as Prasthāna Trayī. The Brahma-sūtras are terse aphorisms composed by Veda Vyasa to expound the knowledge of Brahman.

The various schools of Vedanta – Advaita, Vishishta Advaita and Dvaita – are based on differing interpretations of the Prasthāna Trayī as expounded by the Vedantic teachers Shankara, Ramanuja and Madhva respectively.

Shankara was the first to comment upon the Brahma-sutras, his interpretation known as the Brahma-sūtra bhāṣya is considered as a masterpiece in Vedantic literature.


49 Heddy Miller, Dilip’s friend from Vienna, a famous opera-singer.


50 A homoeopathic medicine.


51 Eddington’s book, Science and the Unseen World.


52 Probably of Sri Aurobindo’s poem “Trance” (see Collected Poems).


53 Anilbaran Roy (3 July 1890 – 3 November 1974), a professor of Philosophy. At the call of Deshbandhu C. R. Das he joined politics and became one of the leaders of the Freedom Struggle as waged by Mahatma Gandhi, and went to jail. Later on he gave up Gandhi’s ideal and turned to Sri Aurobindo. He joined Sri Aurobindo on May 24 1926.


54 System of metrical measure depending on differentiating alphabetical letters into long and short.


55 System of versification measured by the number of letters in each foot.


56 System of versification in which the number of letters and not the sounds is taken into account.


57 Great fighters.


58 Probably a letter about a “Radha-dance” which Sahana was preparing and which Dilip was to accompany. Mother encouraged and helped Sahana.


59 Translation (the second paragraph is in Mother’s translation):

Radha’s Prayer

“O You, whom at first sight I recognized as the Master of my being, as my God, accept my offering!

“Every thought of my mind, each emotion of my heart, every movement of my being, every feeling and every sensation, each cell of my body, each drop of my blood, all, all is Yours, Yours absolutely, Yours without reserve, You can decide my life or my death, my happiness or my sorrow, my pleasure or my pain; whatever You do with me, whatever comes to me from You will lead me to Divine Rapture.”


60 This is the next letter of 14 January.


61 SABCL, volume 22; Letters of Sri Aurobindo. 1 Ser. of human


62 SABCL, volume 22; Letters of Sri Aurobindo. 1 Ser. for the success


63 CWSA, volume 29: attain


64 SABCL, volume 22; Letters of Sri Aurobindo. 1 Ser. is painful


65 SABCL, volume 22; CWSA, volume 29; Letters of Sri Aurobindo. 1 Ser. movement as


66 Sri Aurobindo is perhaps alluding here to Savitri.


67 CWSA, volume 29: is always kicking


68 CWSA, volume 29: pack up our belongings or give them away and start either to get back to


69 CWSA, volume 29: turned you to


70 CWSA, volume 29: it in which


71 CWSA, volume 29: now Europe


72Māye poye mokaddamā dhum habe Rāmprasād bale, āmi khānto habo jakhan āmāy shanto kore labe kole” (“There will be a sensational legal battle between the Mother and the son, says Ramprasad, I shall relent only when you take me on your lap.”)


73 CWSA, volume 29: shows


74 CWSA, volume 29: it


75 CWSA, volume 29: this


76 SABCL, volume 22; Letters of Sri Aurobindo. 2 Ser.: to the Guru


77 CWSA, volume 29: complete


78 CWSA, volume 29: unquestioning


79 The passage within brackets has been omitted from the version published in the Centenary Edition (1972).


80 CWSA, volume 29: Divine or the Guru


81 SABCL, volume 22; Letters of Sri Aurobindo. 2 Ser.: Ramakrishna’s


82 Ramakrishna’s sentence: “Bhagabāner opor jor chale jadi tār janye sangsār-tyag karā jāy. Je meye tār pranayeer janye ghar tyāg korlo se, bolbe nā ôtui khete dibi ne? Ami tor buker opor boshe khābo” (You can demand from the Divine only when you can leave everything for Him. The woman who has left her home for her lover has the right to say, “Won’t you provide for me? I shall make you provide for me”?)


83 CWSA, volume 29: one


84 CWSA, volume 29: he


85 CWSA, volume 29; SABCL, volume 22; Letters of Sri Aurobindo. 2 Ser.: at the same time


86 SABCL, volume 22; Letters of Sri Aurobindo. 2 Ser.: got illness


87 CWSA, volume 29: it


88 CWSA, volume 29: last


89 SABCL, volume 22; Letters of Sri Aurobindo. 2 Ser.: rule


90 SABCL, volume 22: condition


91 CWSA, volume 29: undivinised


92 CWSA, volume 29: satisfying


93 CWSA, volume 29: Love, and make these other things impossible, the response


94 CWSA, volume 29: becoming


95 SABCL, volume 22; Letters of Sri Aurobindo. 2 Ser.: this


96 CWSA, volume 29: or


97 SABCL, volume 22; Letters of Sri Aurobindo. 2 Ser.: not


98 In French: “to step back the better to leap forward.”


99 Dilip had banged his head against the upper sill of the door of his room.


100 Ambalal Balkrishna Purani was born (26 May 1894) in Surat, Gujarat. Revolution and Yoga were in his nature. His elder brother C. B. Purani became a revolutionary in 1907 under Barindra Kumar Ghose. With his brother, our Purani formed a secret revolutionary cell in Gujarat. He had seen Sri Aurobindo and heard his two lectures in Baroda in 1908. From then on he considered himself a disciple of Sri Aurobindo’s. When the Arya began publication in 1914, with Sri Aurobindo’s permission, Puraniji began translating into Gujarati some of its articles.

The British occupation of India was giving him sleepless nights, so in 1918 he finally went to Pondicherry. There Sri Aurobindo assured him that revolutionary activities were not necessary as the British would leave India on their own. That night, after two years, Puraniji slept.

He settled in Pondicherry in 1923. From then on he took notes of Sri Aurobindo’s informal talks with his disciples: Evening Talks with Sri Aurobindo is a priceless document.

A dynamic personality, after 1950 he did a lot of research on Sri Aurobindo’s life, and procured many documents. Sri Aurobindo in England, Sri Aurobindo in Baroda, The Life of Sri Aurobindo are proofs of his hard labour.

He was unsparing of his energies, and his tours to the U.K., U.S.A., Africa, etc. took toll of his body. His heart failed him on 11 December 1965.


101 Probably one of the Evening Talks, first published between 1959 and 1966.


102 This probably refers to the following passage from The Synthesis of Yoga: “... In the life of Ramakrishna Paramhansa, we see a colossal spiritual capacity first driving straight to the divine realisation, taking, as it were, the kingdom of heaven by violence, and then seizing upon one Yogic method after another and extracting the substance out of it with an incredible rapidity, always to return to the heart of the whole matter, the realisation and possession of God by the power of love, by the extension of inborn spirituality into various experience and by the spontaneous play of an intuitive knowledge.”


103 Kabiwalas: Bengali debaters who used to compete with each other through poems; their debates were eagerly followed by the common people.


104 This refers to a door frame in Dilip’s house, Trésor, which was made too low for his height.


105 In the book – your.– Ed. of this e-edition.


106 An ironic variation on Yajnavalkya’s “one loves the wife not for the sake of the wife, but for the self’s sake” (as quoted by Sri Aurobindo in his own letter to Dilip of 27 December 1930).


107 Dilip’s niece, Shankar’s and Maya’s daughter.


108 Krishnaprem (Ronald Nixon) was professor at Lucknow University where Dilip met him in 1922. A few years later he gave up his lectureship for a post in Benares where he went with his Guru, Yashoda Ma. When the latter retired to a temple-retreat in Almora, he accompanied her and became a Sannyasin in the name of Krishna. Dilip had sent Sri Aurobindo a few letters from Krishnaprem.


109 SABCL, volume 22: deepest


110 SABCL, volume 22: play


111 CWSA, volume 28: that


112 CWSA, volume 28: so imperative


113 CWSA, volume 28: happened


114 CWSA, volume 28: that it


115 CWSA, volume 28: stands firm beyond


116 CWSA, volume 28: either is


117 CWSA, volume 28: flickers


118 CWSA, volume 28: come too


119 J. N. Chakravarti was vice-chancellor of Lucknow University. His wife, Monika Devi, took Sannyasa as Yashoda Ma. Krishnaprem was her disciple.


120 The phrase within brackets was added later by Sri Aurobindo.


121 There is a steady drawing of the Force possible which is not what I mean by pulling – drawing of the Force is quite common and helpful. (Sri Aurobindo’s footnote)


122 E.g. the Russellian fear of emptiness which is the form the active mind gives to Silence. Yet it was on what you call emptiness, on the Silence that my whole Yoga was founded and it was through it that there came afterwards all the inexhaustible riches of a greater Knowledge, Will and Joy – all the experiences of greater mental, psychic and vital realms, all the ranges up to Overmind and beyond. The cup has often to be emptied before it can be new-filled; the yogin, the sadhak ought not to be afraid of emptiness or silence. (Sri Aurobindo’s footnote)


123 In the book – you.– Ed. of this e-publication.


124 Subhash Chandra Bose (23 January 1897 – 18 August 1945), the well-known Nationalist leader. Dilip knew him from their student days in England. He was an admirer of Sri Aurobindo’s revolutionary action. Resigning from the I.C.S., Subhash Bose entered the freedom movement and joined the Congress soon after his return to India in 1921. He worked with Chittaranjan Das, was imprisoned many times, and tried to orient the Congress towards firm action. In 1939, he fell out with Gandhi and the Congress, escaped in 1941 from house arrest, fled to Europe and stayed for a while in Germany, trying to muster support for an attack on British India. In 1942, Subhash Bose, reached Japan, then Singapore, and developed the “Indian National Army,” which was to join Japan in its campaign against British India. In 1944, the I.N.A. launched its offensive from Burma, but could not proceed beyond Assam as the Japanese forces became increasingly engaged elsewhere. Subhash Bose disappeared in a plane accident in 1945.


125 CWSA, volumes 28, 35: illusion


126 Under its pressure there was proceeding from you a very generous distribution of vital force – in the best sense of this term – all around you. And the resolution of the conflicts into the chords of Victory was remarkable. Even, above some of the notes you sang the Mother contacted a vast Peace and Ananda. (Added by Sri Aurobindo on July 12 while revising Dilip’s reproduction of what Mother said regarding the song, and written out by Dilip.)


127 SABCL, volume 22; CWSA, volume 28; Letters of Sri Aurobindo. 2 Ser. minds


128 SABCL, volume 22; Letters of Sri Aurobindo. 2 Ser. flowers


129 SABCL, volume 22; CWSA, volume 28; Letters of Sri Aurobindo. 2 Ser. the Reality


130 SABCL, volume 22; CWSA, volume 28; Letters of Sri Aurobindo. 2 Ser. you, you feel


131 SABCL, volume 22; CWSA, volume 28; Letters of Sri Aurobindo. 2 Ser. everywhere


132 CWSA, volume 28: that


133 SABCL, volume 22; Letters of Sri Aurobindo. 2 Ser. experiences


134 SABCL, volume 22; Letters of Sri Aurobindo. 2 Ser. part


135 SABCL, volume 22; Letters of Sri Aurobindo. 2 Ser. fast


136 SABCL, volume 22; Letters of Sri Aurobindo. 2 Ser. supernormal experience


137 CWSA, volume 28: then there


138 CWSA, volume 28; Letters of Sri Aurobindo. 2 Ser. this


139 SABCL, volume 22: bases


140 SABCL, volume 22; CWSA, volume 28; Letters of Sri Aurobindo. 2 Ser. they are


141 CWSA, volume 28: mentalisings


142 CWSA, volume 28: realm


143 CWSA, volume 28: very compelling


144 CWSA, volume 28: stupendous


145 SABCL, volume 22; Letters of Sri Aurobindo. 2 Ser. these


146 CWSA, volume 28: human


147 SABCL, volume 22; Letters of Sri Aurobindo. 2 Ser. half-knowledge


148 SABCL, volume 22; Letters of Sri Aurobindo. 2 Ser. mind


149 CWSA, volume 28: that


150 CWSA, volume 28; Letters of Sri Aurobindo. 2 Ser. to be


151 CWSA, volume 28: by


152 CWSA, volume 28: A


153 SABCL, volume 22; Letters of Sri Aurobindo. 2 Ser. truths


154 SABCL, volume 22; Letters of Sri Aurobindo. 2 Ser. till


155 This translation of Anatole France is Sri Aurobindo’s, made a few days later on Dilip’s request.


156 A poem by Sri Aurobindo.


157 SABCL, volume 22; CWSA, volume 28: gratuitous


158 SABCL, volume 22; CWSA, volume 28: by its very nature it does not


159 SABCL, volume 22; CWSA, volume 28: be convinced


160 SABCL, volume 22; CWSA, volume 28: ground


161 SABCL, volumes 22, 26; Letters of Sri Aurobindo. 1 Ser. directed


162 SABCL, volumes 22, 26; CWSA, volumes 29, 35; Letters of Sri Aurobindo. 1 Ser. were


163 CWSA, volumes 29, 35: Yoga-force


164 CWSA, volumes 29, 35: do


165 CWSA, volumes 29, 35: and


166 CWSA, volumes 29, 35: the


167 CWSA, volumes 29, 35: sensible


168 CWSA, volumes 29, 35: out


169 CWSA, volume 35: it


170 After Victor Hugo, the famous nineteenth-century French writer.


171 SABCL, volume 22; CWSA, volume 29; Letters of Sri Aurobindo. 2 Ser. realise something, even


172 CWSA, volume 29: would


173 CWSA, volume 29: would


174 CWSA, volume 29: too for


175 SABCL, volume 22; Letters of Sri Aurobindo. 2 Ser. Russell


176 SABCL, volume 22; Letters of Sri Aurobindo. 2 Ser. conception has


177 SABCL, volume 22; CWSA, volume 28; Letters of Sri Aurobindo. 2 Ser. thirty


178 SABCL, volume 22; Letters of Sri Aurobindo. 2 Ser. in


179 SABCL, volume 22; Letters of Sri Aurobindo. 2 Ser. Ignorance


180 Rabindranath Tagore’s homage to Sri Aurobindo when the latter was arrested for the first time in the Bande Mataram sedition case in 1907. In this poem, Rabindranath saluted Sri Aurobindo as “the voice incarnate, free, of India’s soul.”


181 Walter Savage Landor (1775-1864), an English writer and poet.


182 Dante’s poem, Paradise, translated into English by Amal and into Bengali by Dilip. See Anāmī, p. 210.


183 Amal’s translation.


184 In SABCL, volume 22 and  Letters of Sri Aurobindo. 2 Ser. the last part of this sentence was highly corrupted and inserted into antother letter to Dilip (September 22, 1932) as this sentence:

It is against this conception that the atheistic objection is aimed,– for atheism in Europe has been a shallow and rather childish reaction against a shallow and childish exoteric religionism and its popular inadequate and crudely dogmatic notions.


185 One of the three darshan days.


186 About your dream I think I have already intimated that you could accept it as true. (Sri Aurobindo’s note)


187 One side of the manuscript of this letter is torn, leaving many words missing.


188 Words from Horace, meaning “the irritable race of poets.”


189 A Bengali Sadhika, Anilbaran’s relative.


190 “In this Ashram” was omitted from the excerpt from this letter that was published in Letters on Yoga (24: 1766).


191 A method of autosuggestion in vogue in the early twentieth century, named after the French psychotherapist Emile Coué, which consisted in repeating to oneself that one is fine, getting better all the time, etc.


192 The preceding letter.


193 SABCL, volume 22; Letters of Sri Aurobindo. 2 Ser. grayed


194 SABCL, volume 22; Letters of Sri Aurobindo. 2 Ser. at all is


195 Whatever the best do is put into practice by the rest (Gita, 3.21).


196 In the bookawkardnesses.– Ed. of this e-publication


197 The French original and English translation of Mother’s Prayers and Meditations, some of which Dilip translated into Bengali and published in his book Anami.


198 A poem by Sri Aurobindo (Collected Poems, 5:49).


199 One of Mother’s Prayers and Meditations.


200 One of Mother’s Prayers and Meditations.


201 The published version of this letter (in The Future Poetry) continues with the following passage (probably added later by Sri Aurobindo): “The characters and creations of even the most strongly objective fiction, much more the characters and creations of poetry live by the law of their own life, which is something in the inner mind of their creator – they cannot be constructed as copies of things outside.”


202 A collection of poems by D. H. Lawrence (1929).


203 Sahana’s elder sister.


204 “Never does anyone who practises good come to woe” (Gita, 6.40).


205 Sri Aurobindo dated this letter February 29, but 1933 not being a leap year, we assume the date to be February 28.


206 Sarala, a good tailoress, lived with her husband Suchi. This French couple were given Indian names in the Ashram.


207 Nandini, an English lady, played cello wonderfully well. Mother loved it tremendously. And Sri Aurobindo said that she was a “born musician.”


208 Moni or Suresh Chandra Chakraborty (12 December 189? – 28 April 1951) was a revolutionary from Bengal. He came to Pondicherry in 1910 with a letter from Sri Aurobindo to arrange a residence for him. He then stayed with Sri Aurobindo and Mother.


209 Khirode was headmaster of a school before he came to the Ashram. There he was in charge of the Building Department. About him Sri Aurobindo said, “He is one of the ablest and most quietly successful «men of work» I have come across.”


210 Thereby hangs a tale. Jaimini was an important disciple of Vyasa, the author of the Mahabharata. Among other works he authored the Mimamsa Sutra, a Vedic exegesis. Over the centuries people forgot the meaning of the Vedas, and the meaning of the commentaries as well. Then around 4 BC one Shabara wrote his Bhasya (commentaries) on Jaimini’s Mimamsa. Then in the seventh century AD Kumarila Bhatta, a little older than Shankaracharya, wrote a commentary on Shabara’s Bhasya. His disciple Prabhakara took a different line of interpretation from Kumarila. That is how two main schools of Mimamsa came into being. A while later, one Murari Misra took an independent line from his predecessors. So, murārestu tritīyah panthā, Murari’s third way, became a proverb among scholars.


211 Greek painter (fourth century BC).


212 Pheidias or Phidias (fifth century BC): Greek sculptor, famous in antiquity for colossal statues of gold and ivory which have not survived.


213 A young child of five-six from Nellore district of Andhra Pradesh, his parents were land holders; mother Krishnamma, father Rama Reddy, renamed Satyakarma, became the treasurer of the Ashram.


214 Gandhi had been in jail since January 1933. He announced a 21-day fast “in connection with the Harijan cause.” Gandhi was released a few days later, and asked the Congress to suspend the Civil Disobedience Movement.


215 K. Amrita (19 September 1895 – 31 January 1969) was born as Aravamuda Iyengar in a village near Pondicherry. He was very much attracted by Sri Aurobindo from his youth and met him in 1912. Later on, after studying in Madras, he came and stayed permanently with Sri Aurobindo. Pleasant and humorous, he was a delightful man. He became the manager of Sri Aurobindo Ashram.


216 Barin Ghose, Sri Aurobindo’s younger brother.


217 Girish Ghose, a Bengali dramatist and actor, disciple of Sri Ramakrishna.


218 Trojan warrior, son of Priam and Hecuba, brother of Paris and Cassandra (who was loved by Apollo). Hector was killed by Achilles, who dragged his body three times round the walls of Troy.


219 Quintus Horatius Flaccus (65-8 BC). Latin poet.


220 Gaius Valerius Catullus (87-54? BC). Roman poet and epigrammatist.


221 Latin poet and philosopher (c. 94-55 BC).


222 Yes, he wrote a series of satires in verse – he ranks among the greatest satirists, but without malice or violence, his satire is good-humoured but often pungent criticism of life and men. (Sri Aurobindo’s note)


223 The first page of Sri Aurobindo’s reply is missing.


224 A Gujarati disciple. He was put in charge of “Prosperity.”


225 Champaklal Purani (2 February 1903 – 9 May 1992) came from Gujarat and had joined the Ashram in 1923. He was a painter and Sri Aurobindo and Mother’s faithful attendant.


226 Ambu, a Gujarati young man, expert in Yogic asanas.


227 François Villon (1431 – c. 1463). French lyric poet, author of ballades and rondeaux.


228 Benvenuto Cellini (1500-1571), Italian goldsmith and sculptor. His sculpture Perseus is famous.


229 “He wants to be in the ashram.”


230 The manuscript is mutilated here and four or five words are illegible.


231 Sahana’s elder sisters. They had arrived in January 1932 and were living in a rented house, Budi, on the seashore.


232 CWSA, volume 28: this


233 CWSA, volume 28: illusionist


234 CWSA, volume 28: trouble, time


235 “Which is a very pleasant room, there is no word for sympathique in English.”


236 “Transformation of Consciousness.”


237 (Dilip’s handwritten note on his transcription of Sri Aurobindo’s letter:) “I had written since I am so easily upset about the music etc. and stand in need of appreciation I had better be left out in future musical soirees.”