Divine Mother’s The Garden of Light: “Let the light of Truth be born upon earth from today and for ever”. (On Her Birthday, 21st Feb, 1953, Pondicherry, Words of Mother) A Friend’s Garden, Oil on Board, 1908, France. It’s said that while Mother was spending time at this garden, she fell into a deep meditation where she had complete identification with the earth. At this higher conscious state, she was the earth herself, an embodiment of the four forms of Mother because “there Matter is the spirit’s firm density”, and “a treasure-house of lasting images”. (Savitri, Book III: The Book of the Divine Mother, Canto III: The House of the Spirit and the New Creation- Sri Aurobindo).
The “lasting images” is what the artist in us tries to create because ever since creation has manifested life in the tiniest monocycle of a cell and from their the evolution in nature has taken its gradual course, man and his relation with the cosmic universe have involved a constant seeking for the immutable forms of beauty and truth, - an endless search for the immortality because the Creative Spirit knows that death is not the end because “wrong could not come where all was light and love”. – (Savitri Book III Canto II)
Consciousness-Analogue: A Friend’s Garden, 1908, France
Waterfalls lapping the feet of the hushed garden woods
Wreathing the flowers with the garlands of joy
Pink, ivory and pale rose petals sprinkling the air
With Her fragrance, with Her anointed smile
That blossoms the peach, the wood apples and pomegranates
Here, and now, Her hands wave the breeze of life
She came alone, silent and wonderful
Like a golden swan in the cradle of light
Communing with the changeless stars of human destiny
To lift the earthen hearts nearer to the sun
To lift them from their transitory planes of existence
She alone is the savior, the consciousness that crosses the deep beyond
A Vision (Oil on Board) was done by the Mother while she was in France during 1903-08. Though it was somewhat unfinished as she later she recalled, but it still had the sublime beauty of rhythms felt inside of a deep concordat between the heaven and earth, between the eternal divine and the transmutable flux of the earthly consciousness felt through a pale mystic light of the dawn by the lovers of angelic beauty and the incarnate flame because though earth-nature is steeped in inconscience but “still can the vision come, the joy arrive./Rare is the cup fit for love’s nectar wine,/As rare a vessel that can hold God’s birth;/A soul made ready through a thousand years/Is the living mould of a supreme Descent”. – Savitri, Book V: The Book of Love, Canto II: Satyavan- Sri Aurobindo
Right: Recitations from “Savitri” by “The Mother” and Music by Sunil Bhattacharya with Michel Montecrossa
The Mother on “Love”: “True love, that which fulfills and illumines, is not the love one receives but love one gives.
And the supreme Love is a love without any definite object- the love which loves because it cannot do other than to love”. (15th May 1968)
“Consciousness is a state and a power. Love is a force and an action”.
(17th Jan, 1965) Divine Mother’s Art and Her Vision (1903-08): “Rare is the cup fit for love’s nectar wine…”- Savitri Book V, Canto: II
Consciousness-Analogue on the painting A Vision (1903-08)
Remembering the early silences of the spring
When flowers bloomed in the ecstasy of dawn
And breathed a motionless life soaring with the winds
“There is, behind all things, a divine beauty, a divine harmony: it is with this that we must come into contact; it is this that we must express”. – The Mother. Collected Works of the Mother.- Volume 12. – On Education.- P.239.
“When a painter paints a picture, if he observes himself painting the picture, the picture will never be good, it will always be a kind of projection of the painter’s personality; it will be without life, without force, without beauty. But if, all of a sudden, he becomes the thing he wants to express, if he becomes the brushes, the painting, the canvas, the subject, the image, the colours, the value, the whole thing, and is.entirely inside it and lives it, he will make something magnificent”. – The Mother. Collected Works of the Mother.- Volume 4. – Questions And Answers (1950-51)
Divine Mother’s Role in Emerging New Consciousness on Art: “Landscapes recurred like lost forgotten fields…” Savitri, Book IV: The Book of Birth and Quest, Canto IV: The Quest, Sri Aurobindo
The painting here was done by The Mother while living in France. It’s an oil on board titled “A Landscape with Church Tower” (1897-98) .
It’s a close watching of nature and the varied effects of the changing light cut across a landscape that is calm, serene and warm like a peaceful hermitage. Often a space is filled with colours of different earthly tones and the sky soft like a camisole has the lighter depth of something that is deep, immaculate and imperishable. It’s the consciousness that creates the life-force of the artist who plucks the fruit of colours from the palette of the supermind. This is a state that Mother and Sri Aurobindo envisage for the new race on earth. The descending forces can help perfect the evoluting form with the grace of the Light and it’s this light that the artist strives to seek through the multitude forms of beauty amidst nature’s changing surfaces and scenes but
“This Light comes not by struggle or by thought;
In the mind’s silence the Transcendent acts
And the hushed heart hears the unuttered Word.
A vast surrender was his only strength”.
(Savitri, Book III: The Book of the
Divine Mother, Canto II: The Adoration of the Divine Mother, Sri Aurobindo)
The painting as Savitri saw “Landscapes recurred like lost forgotten fields…” is ever recurrent in Tagore’s musings in Gitanjali: “This is my delight, thus to wait and watch at the wayside where shadow chases light and the rain comes in the wake of the summer. Messengers with tidings from unknown skies greet me and speed along the road. My heart is glad within and the breath of the passing breeze is sweet. From dawn till dusk I sit here before my door and I know the happy moment will arrive of a sudden when I will surely see. In the meanwhile the air is filling with the perfume of promise”. – (From Gitanjali Manuscript, Rabindra nath Tagore)
Consciousness-Analogue: “A Landscape with Church Tower”
All before her eyes was an adoration of the self
Immutably divine and resplendent with lights
Summer’s green eves and mellow afternoons
Were filled with a deep ecstasy in her heart
She felt the beat of the running streams meandering in space
Across undivided time’s beautiful rondure
And fragrance flowered like tresses of a song
Over illimitable landscapes
Glowing with her beauty and touched by her grace
Sweet was the sensation when her aspiration became the prayer
Divine Mother’s Consciousness and Art: She is the “magnet of our difficult ascent,/The Sun from which we kindle all our suns,/The Light that leans from the unrealised Vasts,/The joy that beckons from the impossible,/The Might of all that never yet came down. – Book III: The Book of the Divine Mother, Canto II: The Adoration of the Divine Mother, Sri Aurobindo.
Mother on Art: “True art means the expression of beauty in the material world. In a world wholly converted, that is to say, expressing integrally the divine reality, art must serve as the revealer and teacher of this divine beauty in life”. The Mother. Collected Works of the Mother.- Volume 12. – On Education.- P.235 “The consciousness must grow in light and sincerity and the eyes must learn to see artistically”. The Mother. Collected Works of the Mother.- The Mother. Collected Works of the Mother.- Volume 12. – On Education.- P.238. “In the physical world, of all things it is beauty that expresses best the Divine. The physical world is the world of form and the perfection of form is beauty. Beauty interprets, expresses, manifests the Eternal. Its role is to put all manifested nature in contact with the Eternal through the perfection of form, through harmony and a sense of the Ideal which uplifts and leads towards something higher “.The Mother. Collected Works of the Mother.- Volume 12. – On Education.- P.234.
This early study, an oil on canvas was done by Mother (Mirra Alfasa) in 1895.
Consciousness-Analogue of this painting as perceived by me.
Early Study: Consciousness Analogue
Music evokes a calm meditation of the self
In between sleep and higher states of consciousness
The alchemy has worked, the mind responded
To the forces that came down from the supernal realms
The mystery of art was an impression of that beautiful order
Kindled with the light of a spaceless infinite
Her wings have stretched to eternity
She was the life of the mountains and rivers
And the seas of light that devoured the darkness
She was the flower that held the cosmic serpent
Of a great race of the coming gods
Time’s unalterable truth beckons future’s unforeseen events
In the era of the 60’s music, Grateful Dead’s song the Ripple is not only golden in its typical rendition of the acoustic folk/ballad but it also tries beautifully to express the pent-up emotions of a musician and how he has grappled with the musical instrument to express his love to the lover, the listener, and perhaps, to the Unknown, the Ineffable Being. In the opening four-lines the musician/artist makes a solemn prayer
“If my words did glow with the gold of sunshine
And my tunes were played on the harp unstrung
Would you hear my voice come through the music
Would you hold it near as it were your own?”
The prayer is also a question which makes an enquiry into the vital existence of our being. The musician at a phenomenal level seeks to find his love fulfilled through music for his lover/friend. At another level, he is not bound by the logic and perception of a reality where the matter and the mind put a dreaded curtain before the source of his inner-light. Aware he is, of the vastness of the cosmic world and the Truth and the Light and Immortality, though all these come to him in the fleeting moments of his life when the Man in him is engaged in the pursuit of “a promise and a presence and a fire”. (The Book of Love, Book V Canto II, Savitri- Sri Aurobindo). This fire is that of the creative spirit in Man, the Agni of the Vedas, which is both a force and light. The fire is immortal as is the divine power in man, and as Tagore says “the planets came out of their bath of fire and basked in the sun for ages symbolized in the imagery of the “gold of sunshine”. So, his inner aspiration is “the earliest preoccupation of man in his awakened thoughts, and as it seems, his inevitable and ultimate preoccupation” which manifests itself in “the sense of a secret immortality”. (The Human Aspiration, Ch 1, The Life Divine, Sri Aurobindo). Ripple written by Robert Hunter, thus belongs to the folk tradition of the late 60’s carrying a rich influence of the conjunction of the East and the West, of different traditions diverse and vast but all conforming to a central cosmic unity and oneness. This is the one aspect of the secret sense of immortality. It has a backdrop of the Haight-Ashbery era where new ideas were slowly making their way into the life of artists and musicians and poets. Here, the singer wants his song to be sung by other singers who now maybe present in the hall as a listener thus trying to reconcile his position with the time and eternity. The lines follow a pattern of evolution of consciousness: words, tunes, harp, and then music. This development is very similar to that of devotional music of the mystic singers and that of Sufi poets. Though the content may be varied, the song here, is also very modern and existential at the same time, but their point of correspondence is not to be found in their relative themes or contents but in their source. Which for all devotional music comes from the heart “would you hold it near as it were your own?” To make something your very own, one has to hold it near to the heart or in the heart. And music comes straight from the heart and reaches out to the big vast ear of the cosmos and comes back again to reinvigorate the undying flame of the heart. The individual and cosmos are open to multiple exchanges between them to create this wonderful song because “creation is full of music” says Kabir. “At the heart of the Universe “white music is blossoming”: love weaves the melody, whilst renunciation beats the time. (Poems of Kabir by Rabindranath Tagore). Sri Aurobindo reiterates the same thing when he says “the spirit of beauty was revealed in sound” and “a music of griefless things shall weave her charm; the harps of the Perfect shall attune her voice”. This music is immortal, it’s “the white feet of sound” that unlocked the “deep glory of Silence’s heart”, the heart that will carry in its silence the unstrung melody of the musician. Robert Hunter, here, reinstates a Keatsian imagery from the Grecian Urn Ode where the poet exclaims “heard melodies are sweet but those unheard are sweeter”. The “unheard music” is the symbolic referral to “harp unstrung” which is played in every monocycle of a cell by the Supreme Person, whose Spirit is over us all, love for whom comprehends love for all creatures and exceeds in depth and strength all other loves”. (Man’s Universe, The Religion of Man, Tagore) This steadily gains clarity as in the second line of second stanza the singer says “perhaps they’re better left unsung”. The individual creates forms of music from what is already being played in the silence of his soul, body and mind. This music which is constantly played but which we cannot comprehend in our real life is naturally unheard, unsung, and unstrung. It’s the music of the creation whose melody is based on the divine principle of unity. But after manifestation, it appeared to our mind that “thoughts are broken” or there is a discontinuity because our rational instincts and logic fail to see behind the veil “the great world-rhythms” that were “heart-beats of one soul or the all mind that was single harp of many strings, and the all life that was a song of many meeting lives; for the worlds were many, but the Self was one”. (The House of Spirit and the New Creation, Savitri, Book III Canto III Sri Aurobindo).
“Let there be songs to fill the air” is a constant thought that runs into Kabir’s idea of the creational universe and its relationship with the individual, it’s the strain that preoccupies Tagore’s mind in Gitanjali where he writes “the light of music illumines the world. The life breath of music runs from sky to sky. The holy stream of music breaks through all stony obstacles and rushes on”. This stream of music, this rushing forth of water is what creates the ripple but “in still water/when there is no pebble tossed, nor wind to blow”. The apparent ambivalence of the imagery is meant to strike again the unstrung harp, the stillness here is the silence of the union with the supreme self and the ripple or the sound or the life-force is generated from that fixed still centre of eternity. But then there are no external forces like that of pebble or wind that creates the ripple, the dynamic force is self-created by the music and its kinesis and flux also maintains a perfect equipoise with the supreme order of beauty and perfection. It’s a higher state of consciousness where stillness or stasis defies inertia and immobility thus eliminating death from the system still maintaining its life-force symbol of ripple without any external alteration. It all happens “across the silence of the ultimate Calm” where ripple creates a bridge between the individual and the transcendental self, between “the rapture and the calm”, between “the passion and the beauty of the Bride” (Book III Canto II, Savitri) So, the music gives a faint glimpse of kriya yoga where a breathless state is envisaged for the realization of the Absolute. This state whose full elucidation, mastery and practice came through the hands of Mahavatar Babaji around mid-nineteenth century and further through the lineage of Sri Shyamacharan Lahiri, Swami Shriyukteshwar Giri and Paramahamsa Yogananda where the kriya yoga was reintroduced for humanity, they proclaimed the importance of breath-control and breathless state of Samadhi where “breathlessness is deathlessness”. This immortal state is “ripple in still water”- it also alludes to a certain state which David Gilmour says in the song Learning to Fly: “Suspended animation is a state of bliss”.
The next four lines in the song reflects on reaching out of the hand to fill the cup that is empty, it takes us through the process of the evolutionary journey where inspiration is sought to create new things. It can be music, as is the case here or it can be poetry, art, architecture or simply a new scientific invention or discovery. This filling of the cup that takes place in every fragment of a second, this replenishment of the pranic energy is the main vital source of the food/inspiration- “the Sun from which we kindle all our suns” (The Book of the Divine Mother, Book III, Canto II, Savitri). The individual self of becoming in its ascent communes with what Keats described as “thou still unravished bride of quietness” and this is the where the ripple (the individual self) appears on the still water silent. But the “mystery of the night conceals” this conjunction, the reason why the individual self is somewhat hesitant: “I don’t know, don’t really care/Let there be songs to fill the air”. In the process of the ascent, and, here, we mean ascent of Man, of the whole human race and civilization, the focal point is this conjunction (ripple on still water/when there is no pebble tossed/nor wind to blow) where the role of the divine mother is fulfilled. She is the listener of the song, its to her the song is composed and its her duty to pass this song to other singers and musicians because “she is the golden bridge, the wonderful fire…/she is the Force, the inevitable Word,/The magnet of our difficult ascent”. (Book III, Canto II, Savitri). The individual there attains knowledge of her through self-realization and inevitably through the gradual ascent comprehends the principles of love and of unity in diversity harmonized into the imagery of ripple in still water. So, the cup or the chalice is constantly filled and refilled thus making the system sustainable but the sheath of the mind fails to see the light born out of the darkness, or the knowledge that springs from the depths of the inconscience because we must understand at the same time that in the process of transformation and change “all contraries prepare her harmony”. Elsewhere in the Marriage of Heaven and Hell, William Blake, the great romantic poet has said “without Contraries there is no progression” because “alone her hands can change Time’s dragon base” (Book III, Canto II, Savitri, Sri Aurobindo)
And as with nature in whose lap the streams flow, comes the beautiful thirsty poignant image of the fountain- the living source of inspiration which from the poets drank their waters. This fountain, as we know, was created at Mount Helicon by the hoof of Pegasus, the winged-seahorse of revelation, and this further was a sacred site of the nine muses. Though the winged-horse imagery is absent here, but the reference to the fountain that was not made by the hands of men clearly anticipates the revelation that is hinted here. Here, “a Silence listening to the cry of Life” sees “the hurrying crowd of moments stream/Towards the still greatness of a distant hour”. (Book II Canto V, The Book of the Traveller of the Worlds, Savitri, Sri Aurobindo). Thus, the still water metaphor alludes to the past mythic times and also simultaneously to future revelations.
The road imagery that connects the dawn with the dark of the night is very significant. It’s about individual realizations and through these one can connect with the superconscience or travel through the different layers from the subconscience to the superconscient lights. This journey is about an inner experience, so much so its also about the evolution of one’s consciousness and be more plastic to the descent of the supernal forces that accelerate our ascent towards higher knowledge and light.
Though the singer confesses that there is no guide to lead the way, but the overall music is the only true light that can perform the act of transformation in the heart and mind of the listener so as to show him the way. This way is the sun-lit path as Sri Aurobindo has mentioned a path towards final fulfillment of the being.
“Yes, there are happy ways near to God’s sun;
But few are they who tread the sunlit path;
Only the pure in soul can walk in light”. (From Savitri)
The Scream is one of the most popular of Munch’s paintings and it has entered the life of our popular culture as a study of the universal anxiety of modern man. Its about the psycho neurosis of modern life with fear, depression and death being the essential stigma of many a work of art and aesthetics. But the painting is something more as well- its not only about the trauma of life but also about a promise of a renewed life – an extension of the self, of the persona to be fulfilled and the painting here is a mere self-expression of that creative desire, of that higher consciousness that all artists long for through their medium of art, poetry, music and film.
I tried to meditate on this painting and subsequently write the consciousness-analogue to this, though historically it is unrelated but it has the common spiritual sublime that connects soul to soul for a happy correspondence based on love and equality.
Consciousness-Analogue: The Scream (1893), Edvard Munch
Long before I held the brush in my hand and painted the skies bloody red, I often had wandered into the lonely woods were sunlight drew a tapestry on the earthen floor, green and grey and moist from the dewy autumn of the sacred years, when the tower was a sign and the sea a sacrificant in the eternal tide of the renewal of bliss. My days had kept a longing desire to be burnt in the shadows of a sombre evening when the trail of the gods have vanquished the desolation and fear of a lonely life on a pathway sideways to the sea. Laughter awoke the gulls, the scream the mountains. Nothing was real or imaginary but only a conscious existence of the self could be felt because that alone was true and right…suddenly I felt the nearness of a darkness that closed the eyelids of the sun to slumber beneath the veil of a dream that lulls the body into a motionless sleep. It was like the knife in the slaughter house yet it was so warm like the afternoon lights that I felt love had finally come to crown me its child in the musing spaces of life. I, Munch was dead…it was only an extension of my self that felt the scream as silent as the synaptic void of the pretentious years of human civilization , from the birth of a star to the dying in the mental asylums clutching the cloth with feeble hands that tremble and fall. I, Munch, was dead…it was another life that gave the illuminations poised for the flight in the far East where the annals of the human creation are to be restored again. You know, we shall go, to be the first flower to be born with a scream.
The Transfiguration, Raphael (1516-20), Pinacoteca Vaticana, Vatican City Consciousness-Analogue
From the dreamy contours of the emerging sky
Appeared the symbolic force emanating the light
To reveal the body of the Lord
This was a moment of transfiguration
Following the slow mechanic process of earth’s evolution
A consciousness came down to break open the doors
The doors that were forever closed bound by time
In the dark dead night at Calvary amidst the skulls
One heard the enchanting flute of the Immutable One
And when the sky in th east was getting luminous and clear
Swift was the rhythmic movement of the syllabic OM
Sound’s rapture in the liquid fire of ether’s waves
A million voices followed the stream to its source
A life fulfilled amidst the listening spaces of the soul
Wandering under a clear tranquil sky
Footfalls on the sand near the great ocean shore
Man’s voyage twixt the eternal stars
On strange paths he walked shimmering with light
Across the unfathomable gaze of the superconscient sun
His body exalted to mystic heights carried with it the changeless form
The form that death cannot dissolve or time destroy
The chariot of the coming god rafted on the high seas
Speeding like the shining jewel of the moon-orbed bliss
Quarter to quarter chanting like the birds in the windfall light
In the slow calm years of melody’s rain
After the burning trail of an unforgettable past
The spirit of man stands affronting his future gaze
As he wakes to a call from the dumb eternal sleep
To meet the lines where a new consciousness meet his soul
Immortal in the clasp of the descending light.
- Joy Roy Choudhury