EVENING TALKS WITH SRI AUROBINDO
Noted down by A.B. Purani
Noted down by Nirod Baran
December 10, 1938
Evening about 7 p.m. Sri Aurobindo lying on his bed. We, the regular attendants sitting on the floor, very close together. Sri Aurobindo’s voice is very soft, speech slow.
Disciple: Why did you choose Pondicherry as the place for your Sadhana ?
Sri Aurobindo: Because it was by an Adesh - command from Above - I was asked to come here. When I was leaving Bombay for Calcutta I asked Lele what I should do regarding my Sadhana. He kept silent for some time [probably waiting to hear a voice from the heart] and replied, "Meditate at a fixed time and hear the voice in the heart."
I did not hear the voice from the heart, but a different voice and I dropped meditation at fixed time because meditation was going on all the time. When Lele came to Calcutta and heard about it, he said that the devil had caught hold of me. I said, "If it is the devil, I will follow him."
Mulshankar: Why did you choose Pondicherry as the place for your sadhana?
Sri Aurobindo: Because of an Adesh, a Command. I was ordered by a Voice to come here. When I was leaving Bombay for Calcutta, I asked Lele what I should do about my sadhana. He kept silent for a while, probably waiting to hear a voice from within, and then replied, “Meditate at a fixed time and hear the voice in the heart.”
I didn’t hear any voice from the heart but a quite different one from above, and dropped meditation at a fixed hour because meditation was going on all the time. When Lele came to Calcutta and heard about all this, he said to me, “The Devil has caught hold of you.” I replied, “If it is the Devil, I will then follow him.” The same Voice from above brought me to Pondicherry.
Disciple: People say that 'Yogic Sadhan' was written by the being of Keshab Sen ?
Sri Aurobindo: Keshab Sen ? When I was writing it, every time at the beginning and at the end the image of Ram Mohan Roy came before me. So perhaps, Ram Mohan has been changed to Keshab Sen.
Mulshankar: We have heard that spirits used to come to you. The book Yogic Sadhan is said to have been written by the spirit of Keshav Sen.
Sri Aurobindo: Keshav Sen? When I was writing it, always at the beginning and at the end the image of Ram Mohon Roy came before me. Somebody has evolved Keshav Sen out of Ram Mohon Roy.
Do you know the origin of the name "Uttara Yogi ?"
Disciple: No, Sir.
Sri Aurobindo: There was a famous Yogi in the South who while dying said to his disciples that a Purna Yogi from the North would come down to the South and he would be known by his three sayings. The three sayings were those I had written to my wife. A Zamindar - disciple of that Yogi - found me out and bore the cost of the book "Yogic Sadhan."
Do you know the origin of the name “Uttara Yogi” which is put as that of the author of the book?
Mulshankar: No, Sir.
Sri Aurobindo: There was a famous Yogi in the South who, while dying, said to his disciples that a Puma (Integral) Yogi from the North (Uttara) would come down to the South and he would be known by three sayings. Those three sayings were those I had written to my wife. They are published in Mrinalinir Patra. A Zamindar disciple of that Yogi found me out, took the book Yogic Sadhan, gave the author’s name as Uttara Yogi and bore the cost of publication.
Disciple: Tagore never spoke at any time about Ramakrishna and Vivekananda except recently when he wrote a very ordinary poem on Ramakrishna during his centenary. He used to tell girls that Ramakrishna used very often to deride women saying "Kamini Kanchan" are the roots of bondage and still women worshipped him.
Sri Aurobindo: I understand that Ramakrishna used to say "Kama Kanchana". When the division came after his death one party said that he never uttered "Kamani" but "Kama". I don't think there was any one in Brahmo Samaj with spiritual realization. Dwijendra Nath had something in him and Shiva Nath Shastri too and perhaps Keshab Sen. Bejoy Goswami ceased to be a Brahmo.
[No counterpart in Nirod's notes]
Disciple: Lele had realization ?
Sri Aurobindo: Of course, he had some, but as I said he had ambition and ego.
Mulshankar: Did Lele have any realisation?
Sri Aurobindo: Of course he had.
Disciple: It is said that Christ used to heal simply by a touch. Is it possible ?
Sri Aurobindo: Why not ? There are many instances of such cures. Of course, faith is necessary. Christ himself said "Thy faith has made thee whole."
Disciple: Is faith always necessary for such a cure ?
Sri Aurobindo: No, cure can be done without faith, especially when one does not know what is being done. Faith is above the mind so that any discussion or dispute spoils the action of the faith.
Mulshankar: It is said that Christ used to heal simply by a touch. Is such healing possible?
Sri Aurobindo: Why not? There are many instances of such cures. No doubt, faith is necessary. Christ himself said, “Thy faith has made thee whole.”
Nirod: Is faith always necessary ?
Sri Aurobindo: No, not always. Cures can be effected without faith, especially when one doesn’t know what is being done. Faith is above mind, so any discussion or dispute spoils its action.
Disciple: I knew also such instances of cure or help by faith. When I came to see you first, you told me to remember you in my difficulties. As I returned I did so and I passed through all the difficulties, but as soon as I came here I heard many things from Sadhaks and did not get the same result. I thought, perhaps, I was not able to open myself to you.
Sri Aurobindo: That is called simple faith, or as some call it, "blind faith." When Ramakrishna was asked about faith, he said, "all faith is blind otherwise there is no faith." He was quite right.
Disciple: Is it because there is something in the nature of environmental influence that doubt come and one does not get the same result as before ?
Sri Aurobindo: Both; the physical mind has these things, doubt, etc. and they come up at one time or the other. And by contact with other people also faith gets obscured. I knew a shocking instance in the Ashram. A truthful man came here. A Sadhak told him that speaking of the truth always is a superstition. One must be free to say what one likes. And then there is another instance of a Sadhak who said that sex indulgence is no hindrance to yoga, it can be allowed, and everyone must have his Shakti. When such ideas are prevalent no wonder that they cast bad influence on others.
Mulshankar: Yes, I know of instances of cure or help by faith. When I first came to see you, you told me to remember you in any difficulty. I followed your advice and passed unscathed through many troubles. But when I came here again, I heard many conflicting things from people and didn’t get the same result. I thought perhaps I couldn’t open myself to you.
Sri Aurobindo: Yours was what is known as simple faith. Some call it blind faith. When Ramakrishna was asked the nature of faith, he replied, “All faith is blind; otherwise it is no faith.” And he was quite right.
Mulshankar: Is it because there is something in our nature or in the surrounding atmosphere that doubts come and the results are not as before ?
Sri Aurobindo: For both reasons. The physical mind has doubts inherent in it and they come up at one time or another. By contact with other people also the faith gets obscured. I know one or two shocking instances in the Ashram itself. Once a truthful man came to pay a visit. Someone told him that the habit of speaking always the truth was nothing but a superstition and that one must befree to say whatever one likes. There is another instance of someone advocating sex-indulgence. He said that it was not a hindrance to Yoga and that everybody must have his Shakti! When such ideas are spread, it is no wonder they cast a bad influence on people.
Disciple: Such people ought to be quarantined ?
Sri Aurobindo: I thought of that but it is not possible. Mother at one time tried to impose some restrictions and regulations but it did not work. One has to change from within. There are, of course, other yogic systems which have such strict regulations. Buddhism is unique in that respect. There is a school in France [Labratte ?] which enjoins strict silence.
[Additional note: It is "La Trappe", a monastery in the French Alps, founded by Saint Bruno.]
Disciple: Is such exterior imposition good ?
Sri Aurobindo: It can be good provided one sincerely keeps to it. For instance, in that school in France, people who enter there know what they want and so keep to the regulation that are meant to help them in achieving their aim.
The world has to change, - people here are epitomes of the world. Each one represents a type of humanity and if one type is conquered that means a great victory for the work. And for this change a constant will is required. If that is there, lots of things can be done for the Sadhak as they were done.
Mulshankar: Shouldn’t those who broadcast these ideas be quarantined?
Sri Aurobindo: I thought of that. But it is not possible. The Mother tried at one time to impose restrictions; it didn’t work. One has to change from within. There are, of course, other Yogic systems, which enforce strict disciplines. Buddhism is unique in that respect. In France also there is a school which enjoins rigorous silence.
Nirod: Is exterior imposition good?
Sri Aurobindo: It can be good, provided one, sincerely keeps to it. In that school in France, for example, people who enter know what they want and so keep to the regulations meant to help their object. Here the object is different. Ours is a problem of world-change. People here are an epitome of the world. Each one represents a type of humanity. If he is changed, it means a victory for all who belong to his type and thus a great achievement for our work. But for this change a constant will is required. If that will is there, lots of things can be done for the man.
Disciple: Things became sluggish afterwards.
Sri Aurobindo: Yes, it is when the Sadhana came down in the physical and the subconscient that things became very difficult. I myself had to struggle for two years; for the subconscient is absolutely inert like stone. Though my mind was quite awake above, it could not exert and influence down below. It is a Herculean labour, for when one enters there, it is a sort of an unexplored continent. Previous Yogis came down to the vital. If I had been made to see it before, probably, I would have been less enthusiastic about it. That is the instance of blind faith. The ancients were quite right perhaps in leaving the physical, but if I had left it there, the real work would have remained undone. And once it is conquered, it becomes easy for people who come after me, which is what is meant by realization of one in all.
Nirod: We gather that Sadhana was going on very well in the Ashram at the beginning and things became sluggish only afterwards.
Sri Aurobindo: Yes, it is when the sadhana came down into the physical and subconscient that things became very difficult. I myself had to struggle for two years. For, the subconscient is absolutely inert, like stone. Though my mind was quite awake above, it could not exert any influence down below. It is a Herculean labour. If I had been made to see it before, probably I would have been less enthusiastic about it. There is the virtue of blind faith! When one enters into the subconscient, it is like stepping on an unexplored continent. Previous Yogis came down to the vital level, they did not descend farther, and they were quite sensible in not doing so. But if I too had left it there, the real work would have remained undone. Once the subconscient is conquered, things will become easy for those who come after. That is what is meant by“Realisation of one in all”.
Disciple: Then we can wait for that victory!!
Sri Aurobindo: You want an easy path!
Disciple: Not only easy but like a baby we want to be carried about. Is it possible ?
Sri Aurobindo: Yes, but one has to be a baby - and a genuine baby.
Disciple: Ramakrishna has said a Yogi need not be always like a drawn sword.
Sri Aurobindo: When did he say that and what did he mean by that ? A Yogi has always to be vigilant, especially in the early part of one's Sadhana. Otherwise all one has gained can come down like a thud. People here usually don't make Sadhana the one part of their life. They have two parts: one, the internal and other external, which goes on with ordinary movements, social contacts, etc. Sadhana must be made the one part of the being.
Nirod: Then why should we take so much trouble? We can wait for that victory.
Sri Aurobindo: You want an easy path?
Mulshankar: More than an easy path; we want to be carried about like a baby. Not possible, Sir?
Sri Aurobindo: Why not? But you have to be a genuine baby!
Nirod: Ramakrishna has said that one need not be like a drawn bow.
Sri Aurobindo: Where has he said that? A Yogi has to be always vigilant, especially in the early part of his sadhana. Otherwise all one has gained can come down with a thud. People usually don’t make sadhana the one thing of their lives. They have two parts, one internal and the other external which goes on with its ordinary movements, social contacts, etc. Sadhana must be made the one central thing.
Disciple: You spoke about the brilliant period of the Ashram.
Sri Aurobindo: Yes, it was when Sadhana was going on in the vital and when it is that, everything is joy, peace, etc. and if I had stopped there, we could have started a big religion, or something like it. But the real work would have been left undone.
Disciple: Why did you retire ? To concentrate more on your work ?
Sri Aurobindo: No, to withdraw from the physical atmosphere. If I had to do the work the Mother is doing, I would have hardly time to do my own work, besides it's being a tremendous labour.
Nirod: You once spoke of the brilliant period of the Ashram.
Sri Aurobindo: Yes, it was when sadhana was going on in the vital level. Then everything was joy, peace, ananda. And if we had stopped there, we could have started a big religion or a vast organisation. But the real work would have been left unattempted and unachieved.
Mulshankar: Why did you retire? Was it to concentrate more on your work?
Sri Aurobindo: No. It was in order to withdraw from the general physical atmosphere. If I had to do what the Mother is doing, I would hardly have found time to do my own work; besides, it would have entailed a tremendous labour.
[No counterpart in Purani's notes]
Nirod: The Mother’s coming must have greatly helped you in your work and in your sadhana.
Sri Aurobindo: Of course, of course. All my realisations - Nirvana and others - would have remained theoretical, as it were, so far as the outer world was concerned. It is the Mother who showed the way to a practical form. Without her, no organised manifestation would have been possible. She has been doing this kind of sadhana and work from her very childhood.
Nirod: Yes. We also find in the Mother’s Prayers and Meditations a striking resemblance between your ideas and hers.
Disciple: Vishudhanand of Banares is said to be able to produce all sorts of perfumes, scents, etc.
Sri Aurobindo: It is difficult to know if they (perfumes) are all materialization or subtle perfumes projected into the physical or on the senses.
Paul Brunton saw always some pressure accompanying him. When he saw my photo, it had nothing to resemble it but when he saw me at the Darshan, he at once recognized me as that pressure.
Disciple: Why does one rise and fall physically in meditation ?
Sri Aurobindo: It is not the physical but the vital body separating itself from the body. At one time I thought physical Siddhi was impossible. But in Alipore jail, once I found that my body had occupied a position which it was physically impossible to have. Then again; I was practicing to raise my hands and keep them suspended without any muscular control. Once in that raised condition of hands I fell off to sleep. The warder saw this condition and reported that I had died. Authorities came and found me quite alive. I told them he was a fool.
There is a French author Jules Romain. He is a medical man and a mystic. He can see with other parts of the body with eyes closed. He says, "Eyes are only a specialized organ." Other parts can as well be trained to see. But scientists refused to admit his demonstration.
Disciple: Ramana Maharshi does not believe in the descent (of the Supermind).
Sri Aurobindo: It - the descent is the experience of many Sadhaks even outside our Yoga. An old Sanyasi of the Ramakrishna Mission saw a flood of light descending and when he asked he was told it was all the work of the devil and the whole experience stopped afterwards.
In Maharshi's case he has received the thing in the heart and has worked with it, so he does not feel the descent.
Disciple: I believe that grace is without condition.
Sri Aurobindo: That may be true from the side of the Divine but the man must try to fulfill the condition under which alone grace can act.
In this respect Sri Aurobindo's writing in 'The Mother' was quoted by a disciple where he lays down that "the grace will work under the conditions of the Truth, not under those imposed upon it by falsehood."
Disciple: Grace is grace, but one need not sit with folded hands. What is achieved is by the divine grace.
Sri Aurobindo: Grace is of course unconditional, but it is for men to fulfill the conditions. It is as if man was continually spilling from a cup in which something was being poured.
[No counterpart in Nirod's notes]
[No counterpart in Nirod's notes]
|References: Evening Talks with Sri Aurobindo, recorded by A.B. Purani (pages 520-524)|
published by Sri Aurobindo Ashram - Pondicherry
diffusion by SABDA
...Yogic Sadhan, a work that resulted from the automatic writing Sri Aurobindo used to practise during his early phase of Yoga, originally published as a small book in 1911, under the pseudonym Uttara Yogi.
- Manoj Das
|References: Talks with Sri Aurobindo, by NirodBaran - Volume 1, pages 1-5.|
Sri Aurobindo Society in West-Bengal, Calcutta