Monday, January 30, 2012

Sri Aurobindo and Paramhansa Yogananda

Paramhansa Yogananda’s KriyaYoga seems to be rooted in Pranayama (specific breathing patterns).
Yogananda does mention Sri Aurobindo twice in his Autobiography. 
I.             Father was a strict disciplinarian to his children in their early years, but his attitude toward himself was truly Spartan. He never visited the theater, for instance, but sought his recreation in various spiritual practices and in reading the Bhagavad Gita.6

 6 This noble Sanskrit poem, which occurs as part of the Mahabharata epic, is the Hindu Bible. The most poetical English translation is Edwin Arnold's The Song Celestial (Philadelphia: David McKay, 75ø). One of the best translations with detailed commentary is Sri Aurobindo's Message of the Gita (Jupiter Press, 16 Semudoss St., Madras, India, $3.50).   :
II.           I looked in admiration at this highborn Englishwoman whose true Christian humility enables her to do the scavengering work usually performed only by "untouchables."
"I came to India in 1925," she told me. "In this land I feel that I have 'come back home.' Now I would never be willing to return to my old life and old interests."
We discussed America for awhile. "I am always pleased and amazed," she said, "to see the deep interest in spiritual subjects exhibited by the many Americans who visit India."4

4 Miss Slade reminded me of another distinguished Western woman, Miss Margaret Woodrow Wilson, eldest daughter of America's great president. I met her in New York; she was intensely interested in India. Later she went to Pondicherry, where she spent the last five years of her life, happily pursuing a path of discipline at the feet of Sri Aurobindo Ghosh. This sage never speaks; he silently greets his disciples on three annual occasions only.
Sri Aurobindo mentions Yogananda in three letters: 

1.   I have received the copy of the "East-West" magazine and the gift-book. It is not at all surprising that Swami Yogananda should have been so successful in America. His propaganda is admirably suited to the practical mentality of a western and especially of an American public and his statement of ideas on subjects like Karma to its present capacity of understanding in these matters. I cannot gather from the magazine what is the nature of the practice or discipline which he calls Yogoda. The name "Satsanga" is that of a religious sect with a special kind of Bhakti Yoga which is now achieving considerable success in Bengal, but the practice here if one can judge from the style and manner of its announcement seems to be very different. I do not think it would have much success in India where there is a long tradition and in spite of much imperfection and error the standards of spiritual life are of a subtler kind. The difficulties we experience here are due rather to a wide-spread inability to go freely beyond ancient ideas and forms. Plenty of money can be had in India for orthodox religious purposes and also, although not on the American scale, for Asramas or other spiritual institutions which take the ascetic form or repeat established and well-understood formulas. But the general mind has not yet advanced far enough from the old moorings to form even an inadequate conception of what I am doing here and it is easily disconcerted by the departure from old forms, a willed absence of the customary paraphernalia and the breaking of traditional barriers and limits.
           - Sri Aurobindo
(CWSA > Autobiographical Notes > To People In America, 1926 – 1927  pp.387-388)
2.    I understand from  what you have written that in America any profit from the sale of literature like the "Arya" publications is not at all probable unless and until a larger demand has been created than is likely for some time to come. A percentage on the sales would bring in only small sums while it might hamper the development of the work. Now small returns would be of very little use to me except for financing petty incidents and details of my work which can be otherwise met. The method and scope I have fixed for the future work to be done is of the large-scale kind and would need even from the beginning sums more like those raised by Swami Yogananda as described by you in your letter. I would prefer therefore that you should concentrate at present on the development of the publications and on getting them known as soon as possible and use the proceeds of the sale of the books for that purpose. If at any time a great demand arose and resulted in considerable profits, the question of a percentage of the sales to be remitted to me or any other arrangement in the matter could then be brought up again for consideration.
- Sri Aurobindo
(CWSA > Autobiographical Notes > To People In America, 1926 – 1927 – pp. 385)
3.   First, let me say, that the absorption of ideas and the remoulding of the mental aims and attitude is one thing and the  remoulding of the inner life and consciousness and eventually also of the outer life, which is the aim of Yoga, is quite another. The first can be done to some extent by the method of dissemination you indicate. But as you rightly see, instructions in Yoga cannot be fruitfully given on the same lines. That can only be given successfully to a few, to each separately as an intimately personal thing which he must assimilate and make living and true in himself according to his own capacity and nature. That is why I am led to believe that the work of Swami Yogananda is not only elementary but can hardly be the true thing — Yoga cannot be taught in schools and classes. It has to be received personally, it has to be lived, the seeker, sadhaka, has to change by a difficult aspiration and endeavour his whole consciousness and nature, his mind, heart, life, every principle of his being and all their movements into a greater Truth than anything the normal life of man can imagine. Those who can do this are not yet many, but some are to be found everywhere, and I see no reason why those in America should be condemned to only an elementary "instruction". The true Truth, the great Path has to be opened to them; how far they will go in it depends on their own personal capacity and the help they receive.
(CWSA > Autobiographical Notes > To People In America, 1926 – 1927  pp. 388)

Book Extract:
“After his travels in the province of Mysore, Swamiji went to other parts of India before returning to Calcutta. Among these destinations was the ashram of Sri Ramana Maharshi  in Tiruvannamalai. This holy place, a pilgrimage site for the spiritually thirsty, had quite an influence on Swamiji. He was particularly affected by Yogi Ramiah, an adept sadhak-disciple of the Maharshi. When the two of them met , at one appropriate moment they both looked into each other’s eyes and became still for quite a while. Swamiji later said, “During that silent exchange as we looked into each other’s eyes, I was almost touching the ‘Eternal-Boundless’.” Richard Wright, acutely perceptive and quick, captured this scene in his camera. After coming back to Calcutta, Swamiji quickly told this writer, “It seems like that disciple is even more advanced than his guru!” There was one particular thing of note regarding his travels in South India. Swamiji did not go to Pondicherry and did not express any particular interest in wanting to see Sri Aurobindo  [ sage in Pondicherry].”

(Paramhansa Swami Yogananda: Life-portrait And Reminiscences
By Sri Sailendra Bejoy Dasqupta, p. 90)

(Courtesy: Shri Sandeep Joshi. He provided me insightful inputs.)

Science of miracles 

Paramahamsa Yogananda demystified miracles
Paramahamsa Yogananda, the founder of Yogoda Satsanga Society, says in the 30th chapter of his book, Autobiography of a Yogi titled Law of Miracles that the Vedic scriptures declare that the physical world operates under the fundamental law of maya. “...which is the principle of relativity and duality. God, the sole life, is absolute unity. He cannot appear as separate and diverse manifestations of a creation except under a false and unreal veil. That cosmic illusion is maya.”

Yogananda explains the manifestation of miracles thus:

“A yogi who through perfect meditation has merged his consciousness with the Creator perceives the cosmical essence as light. To him there is no difference between the light rays composing water and the light rays composing land. Innocent of all personal motives and employing the creative will bestowed on him by the creator, a yogi rearranges the light atoms of the universe to satisfy any sincere prayer of a devotee. For this purpose were man and creation made: that he should rise up as master of maya, knowing his dominion over the cosmos.”

He adds, “Great saints who have awakened from the cosmic maya dream and realised this world as an idea in the divine mind know it to be a manipulatable form of condensed or frozen energy. Thus Christ was able to restore the ear of the servant after it had been severed by one of the disciples. Yet a man of realisation does not perform any miracle until he receives an inward sanction. God does not wish the secret of His creation revealed promiscuously.

“All molecules are held together by God’s will. When he withdraws the will the earth will again disintegrate into energy, and energy will dissolve into consciousness.” 

Paramahansa Yogananda - Interview of a Yogi

by Ritu Khanna
An unusual 'interview' with the great master — Paramahansa Yogananda

Paramahansa     YoganandaAmerican journalist Horace Greeley, editor of the New-York Tribune, interviewed Brigham Young, the leader of the Mormon Church, in Salt Lake City in 1859. History shows that Young was not entirely honest in this encounter—he downsized the number of his wives and the extent of his wealth. Yet there is no doubt that this was the first full-fledged interview with a celebrity.

And, with it, the New Journalism of the 19th century was born. Over the years, the format developed:the Q&A style lent itself to many combinations and permutations, acquiring the status of an art form in the hands of an adept interviewer. Writing from memory or hastily scribbled notes, or with the aid of a recorder, the interviewer gave the reader an insight into the thoughts, character and lifestyle of the interviewed.

This form has been used and abused, but the interview as we know it today has certainly evolved since, say, the days of Greeley and Young or, even earlier, when Socrates used it on the streets of Athens.

My task here, however, was somewhat different. For conducting a face-to-face with someone who has left his body is a feat never attempted before. But then, Paramahansa Yogananda is no ordinary teacher; indeed it would not be hyperbolic to say that he was one of the most significant spiritual gurus of this century.

Secure in the belief that gurus never die, I prepared my questionnaire, covering Yogananda's early years and influences, his beliefs and values, teachings and thoughts. Theft I went seeking answers in his books.

The most well-known of the written offerings of this master who went to the West to teach the practice of yoga and its benefits, seen and intangible, is, of course,Autobiography of a Yogi, a book that has been perceived as a spiritual classic. The golden years of the guru live on in the pages of this book which celebrates its 50th anniversary this year.

No one who has read Autobiography has remained unmoved by this simple, heartfelt testimony of a yogi, with its coverage of miracles and godmen, of Indian wisdom and practices. Translated into 19 languages, it was the number one bestseller in the non-fiction category in Italy in 1990.

In 1948, American Donald WaIters (now known as Swami Kriyananda) read the book, became a disciple of Yogananda, and went on to write The Path: Autobiography of a Western Yogi in 1977: "The author's photograph on the cover affected me strangely. Never had I met anyone whose face radiated so much goodness, humility, and love… Autobiography of a Yogi is the greatest book I have ever read. One perusal of it was enough to change my entire life...Never before had I encountered a spirit so clearly truthful, so filled with goodness and joy.

Every page seemed radiant with light...For, more than anything else, what this book gave me was the conviction that in Yogananda I had found my guru, my spiritual teacher for all time to come.Yogananda's lessons, laws, poems, affirmations and sayings have been immortalized on paper. And the more I read them, the more alive he became. Here was some one very human, generous in spirit, sincere, endearing and endowed with the ability to laugh at himself. He could give meaning to miracles, yet not hesitate to tell the reader that his nickname in college was Mad Monk."

Yogananda seemed equally at ease writing about spirituality and success; about strawberries and cream and the tenets of kriya yoga ; or of finding the cosmic link between getting rid of mosquitoes and sitting in samadhi, all in one breath, literally.

This 'interview' slowly appeared more real than if it had actually taken place in time and space. But in a sense it has occurred, for Yogananda's words have given it flesh and blood.

Paramahansa      YoganandaLooking back in time, possibly on many a lifetime, from where, in your opinion, did it all begin?

I find my earliest memories covering the anachronistic features of a previous incarnation. Clear recollections come to me of a distant life in which I had been a yogi amid the Himalayan snows. These glimpses of the past, by some dimensionless link, also afforded me a glimpse of the future...

I was born on January 5, 1893, in Gorakhpur in northeastern India near the Himalaya Mountains. There my first eight years were passed. We were eight children: four boys and four girls. I, Mukunda Lal Ghosh, was the second son and the fourth child. My name was changed to Yogananda in 1915 when I entered the ancient monastic Swami Order.

In 1935, my guru [Sri Yukteswar Giri] bestowed on me the further religious title of Paramahansa. [Sri Yukteswar Giri, 1855-1936, was a disciple of Sri Lahiri Mahasaya, 1828-1895, whose guru is the ageless Babaji who lives in the Himalayas. Babaji is known as the greatest of all avatars, amahavatar; Sri Lahiri Mahasaya was a yogavatar; or incarnation of yoga; and Sri Yukteswar, ajnanavatar or incarnation of wisdom. [Yogananda is known as a premavatar, or incarnation of love.]

Though you graduated from the Calcutta University, it is said that you were a reluctant student and were always more keen to apply yourself to the acquisition of knowledge with an undertone of divinity. You met with seers and swamis, revealing an interest in mastery over the self: What convinced you, then, to complete your studies.

[It was Guruji's prophetic words:] "Someday you will go to the West. Its people will be more receptive to India's ancient wisdom if the strange Hindu teacher has a university degree."

Sri Yukteswar had foretold that in your mind, you had created three institutions adding that your architectural dreams would materialize later; but now where's the time for study.

...incidentally, in his simple way, my guru revealed his knowledge of the coming of three important events in my life. Since early youth I had enigmatic glimpses of three buildings, each in a different setting. In the exact sequence Sri Yukteswar had indicated, these visions took ultimate form. First came my founding of a boys' yoga school on a plain in Ranchi, then an American headquarters on a Los Angeles hilltop, and then a hermitage in Encinitas, California, overlooking the vast Pacific.

Sri Yukteswar is also said to have given you kriya yoga initiation.

The technique I had already received from two disciples of Lahiri Mahasaya—Father and my tutor, Swami Kebalananda. But Master possessed a transforming power; at his touch a great light broke upon my being, like the glory of countless suns blazing together. A flood of ineffable bliss overwhelmed my heart to an innermost core.

What is the science of kriya yoga?

The Sanskrit root of kriya is kri, to do, to act and react: the same root is found in the word karma, the natural principle of cause and effect. Kriya yoga is thus union (yoga) with the Infinite through a certain action or rite (kriya). A yogi who faithfully practices the techniques gradually freed from karmaor the lawful chain of cause-effect equilibrium.

Kriya yoga is a simple, psychophysiological method by which human blood is decarbonized and recharged with oxygen. The atoms of this extra oxygen are transmuted into life current to rejuvenate the brain and spinal centers. By stopping the accumulation of venous blood, the yogi is able to lessen or prevent the decay of tissues. The advanced yogi transmutes his cells into energy.

The kriya yogi mentally directs his life energy to revolve, upwards and downwards, around the six spinal centers (medulary, cervical, dorsal, lumbar, sacral and coccygeal plexuses), which correspond to the 12 astral signs of the zodiac, the symbolic Cosmic Man.

Elijah, Jesus, Kabir, and other prophets were past masters in the use of kriya or a similar technique, by which they caused their bodies to materialize and dematerialize at will.

Kriya is an ancient science. Lahiri Mahasaya received it from his great guru, Babaji, who rediscovered and clarified the technique after it had been lost in the Dark Ages. Babaji renamed it, simply, kriya yoga. Because of certain ancient yogic injunctions, I may not give a full explanation of kriyayoga...The actual technique should be learned from an authorized kriyaban (kriya yogi) of Yogoda Satsanga Society Self-Realization Fellowship.

You constantly write about miracles…but do they really happen?

A 'miracle' is commonly considered to be an effect or event without law, or beyond law. But all events in our precisely adjusted universe are lawfully wrought and lawfully explicable. The so-called miraculous powers of a great master are a natural accompaniment to his exact understanding of subtle laws that operate in the inner cosmos of consciousness.

The law of miracles is operable by any, man who has realized that the essence of creation is light.

Nothing may be truly said to be a 'miracle' except in the profound sense that everything is a miracle. That each of us is encased in an intricately organized body, and is set upon on earth whirling through space among the stars—is anything more commonplace? Or more miraculous?

But then why do saints perform miracles?

Great prophets like Christ and Lahiri Mahasaya usually perform many miracles. Such masters have a large and difficult spiritual mission to execute for mankind; miraculously helping those in distress appears to be a part of that mission. Divine feats are required against incurable diseases and insoluble human problems.

When Christ was asked by the nobleman to heal his dying son at Capernaum, Jesus replied with wry humor: "Except ye see signs and wonders, ye will not believe." But he added: "Go thy way; thy son liveth."

What is the way to God?

The easiest and best way to god is not to be limited only to jnana (knowledge) yogabhakti (devotion)yoga or karma (work) yoga, but to combine them. Work for god, love god alone, and be wise with god. When an ordinary man puts the necessary rime and enthusiasm into meditation and prayer, he becomes a divine man. My Master used to say: "The little cat that goes into the jungle becomes a wild cat. " The little man with small thoughts who goes into the jungle of books becomes absorbed in intellectualizing about god; he doesn't find the nectar of god-realization. But the little man who meditates, who constantly thinks of the joy of god, who constantly prays to him, becomes one with the Infinite.

Start tonight to meditate earnestly. Do not wander aimlessly. Go straight to god.

Who made god?

Many ask that question. Because they live in the realm of causation, they imagine that nothing can exist without a cause. God, however, the Supreme Cause, is beyond causation. It is not necessary that he, in turn, have a creator; how could the absolute depend for Its existence on another absolute?

What is the best religion?


Self-realization is, in fact, the only religion. For it is the true purpose of religion, no matter how people define their beliefs. A person may be Christian or Jewish, Buddhist or Hindu, Moslem or Zoroastrian; he may proclaim that Jesus Christ is the only way, or Buddha, or Mohammed—as indeed, millions of believers do. He may insist that this ritual, or that place of worship, bestows salvation. But it all comes down to what he is, in himself.

Self-realization means realizing your true Self as the great ocean of Spirit, by breaking the delusion that you are this little ego, this little human body and personality.

What would you say was your mission in life?

To awaken people to their need for self-realization, through meditation, and through keeping good company, or fellowship, with other truth-seeking souls. Hence the name of this organization; Self- Realization Fellowship. SRF was sent to bring back to the world the original teachings and science of yoga as taught by Lord Krishna, and the original Christianity of Jesus Christ.

You have written that… while meditating… you had a vision: a vast multitude of Americans appeared before you. And the next day… you received an invite.

"He must be Babaji!" I thought, dazed, because the man before me had the features of a younger Lahiri Mahasaya. He answered my thought: "Yes, I am Babaji." He spoke melodiously in Hindi. "Our heavenly father has heard your prayer. He commands me to tell you: Follow the behests of your guruand go to America. Fear not; you shall be protected."

After a vibrant pause, Babaji addressed me again: "You are the one I have chosen to spread the message of kriya yoga in the West. Long ago I met your guru Yukteswar at a Kumbha Mela: I told him then I would send you to him for training,"

"Kriya yoga, the scientific technique of God-realization," he finally said with solemnity, "will ultimately spread in all lands, and aid in harmonizing the nations through man's personal, transcendental perception of the Infinite Father. "
You then made your home in what you referred to as "the vast alien hospitable land of America".

The founding in the West of a Self-Realization Fellowship organization, a "hive for the spiritual honey", was a duty enjoined to me by my guru Sri Yukteswar and my param-paramguru Babaji. The fulfillment of the sacred trust has not been devoid of difficulties.

A leader of the temple in San Diego once asked you whether your stay in the USA has been worth it...

"Blessed is the man whom the Lord doth test!" I answered. "He has remembered, now and then, to put a burden on me." I thought, then, of all the faithful ones, of the love and devotion and understanding that illumines the heart of America. With slow emphasis I went on: "But my answer is yes, a thousand times yes! It has been worthwhile, more than ever I dreamed, to see East and West brought closer in the only lasting bond, the spiritual."

On March 7, 1952, Yogananda entered mahasamadhi (a yogi's final conscious exit from the body) in Los Angeles after delivering a speech at a banquet held in honor of the Indian ambassador. An extract from a letter to SRF from the mortuary director:

"The physical appearance of Yogananda on March 27th, just before the bronze cover of the casket was put into position, was the same as it had been on March 7th. He looked on March 27th as fresh and as unravaged by decay as he had looked on the night of his death. On March 27th there was no reason to say that his body had suffered any visible physical disintegration at all. For these reasons we state again that the case of Paramahansa Yogananda is unique in our experience."

A few months earlier, a disciple had asked him: "Sir, when we can no longer see you physically, will you still be as near to us as you are now?" After much deliberation, he had replied with deep seriousness: "To those who think me near, I will be near."

And Paramahansa Yogananda remains near us, for his words resound in the hearts of his disciples, in SRF centers the world over, in his teachings, in his writings, in this interview.


Saturday, January 28, 2012

A Comparative Study of Sri Aurobindo, Sri Ramana Maharshi and Maharishi Mahesh Yogi on Consciousness

The proposed study of Consciousness as defined and spiritually practiced by the three Great Saints of Contemporary India is of great interest. It involves three different approaches to attainment of highest level of Consciousness by a yogi Purusha. The most modern scientist-spiritualist Maharishi  Mahesh Yogi interpreted Veda in scientific terms. His approach to Consciousness appeals to all rationalist and spiritual seekers of modern times. It has tremendous impact on contemporary society. This aspect needs to be studied in-depth at different levels of community, society and nations. While Maharishi Mahesh Yogi approaches Consciousness as Vedic Doctrine and interprets it in terms of modern Physics, Biology and Genetics, there are saints who have had no formal education at College level and have attained greatest heights in spiritual development. Sri Ramana Maharshi and Swami Ramakrishna and Swami Yogananda are great examples and a model to us. However, Sri Aurobindo is one of the greatest scholar- saints of our times whose adventure in Consciousness is simply astounding. He is attaining to ranks of ancient Rishis who had a glimpse of the Lord, the Creator and observed Him in action. These are Vedic Seers whose consciousness reached the level of ‘Brahm’ or universal Consciousness. Sri Aurobindo aimed at this in attaining to Supramental levels through the technique of ‘descent of Consciousness fro the Universal to the individual instead of raising it to Sahasrar level from the Kundalini at the individual level. He aspired for the spread of this individual to the collective level of Consciousness and tries to transform the whole society, the whole national and then the entire world. This approach to development of Consciousness at the individual and the national level in India is the need of the hour.

This project makes an attempt in this direction in the Aurobindo Centre for Study of Consciousness at Belgaum in Karnataka, India.
A comparative study of Sri Aurobindo and Sri Ramana Maharshi on the one hand and Sri Ramakrishna and Maharshi Mahesh Yogi on the other makes a very interesting study. Their different approaches are studies carefully and the intricacies of Spiritual exercises Sadhana to attain these levels are discussed here after a practical experiment by the author with Transcendental Meditation [TM] program.
*Director, the Aurobindo Centre for Study of Consciousness,Bharatiya Vidya Bhavan,  Belgaum-6
-The Scientific, Philosophical and Spiritual Aspects
Dr. Tippur N, Achuta Rao, Ph.D.
The history of human development through the ages is reflected in the civilization of man. It is reflected in the art and crafts, science and technological progress, and his philosophy of life. History of development of man is the history of development of Consciousness. Man and his consciousness go together; however, not all are conscious of this and most of us live and work without being consciously aware of our own ‘being’. This is evident in the disparities in social, economic, and spiritual development of the people in the world. Even the most advanced country in the world has dark patches. Not all countries are equal in their ability to manage and develop their resources and manpower and most of them are still backward. The factors that constitute this diverse development and the role of Consciousness in development are the vital questions addressed in this research project.
There are the scientific aspects of development and man has shown his ingenuity in cloning and sending man to space and getting back repeatedly, and has successfully landed on moon; he has plans to colonizing a part of it. But not all scientific development is in human interest and some are threatening his very existence.
Then, there are the moral, ethical, and philosophical aspects of development. Here again, the disparities in level of consciousness are much evident in the life style and ways of thinking. Here again, not all of this philosophy is in human interest, and it has come as a threat to the very existence of man on earth. This is evident from the global unrest, terrorism and fundamentalist and religious dogmatism. Man is a rational animal but his rationale is limited to his worldly attainments and, it is not in human interest, and definitely not in raising the collective consciousness. Individual development is no regional or national development.
All these above maladies of development can be erased and a new world order for a permanent peaceful social and economic development is possible from the spiritual development of man. Here, the path shown by Sri Aurobindo, Sri Ramana Maharshi, and Sri Maharishi Mahesh Yogi are very important. These three yogis are selected as representatives of the three different perspectives of Consciousness the yogis have had and the means they adopt in their attainment to the highest level of Consciousness. Sri Aurobindo is a Master of Arts and Sri Mahesh Yogi is Master of Science; Sri Ramana Maharshi is a spiritually attained person of the highest order by sheer Sadhana and Samskara. Even the non-formal education that some yogis have had in their childhood days is no obstacle to attainment to highest level of Consciousness and its associated spiritual development as proved by Swami Ramakrishna Paramahamsa, Swami Yogananda and others.
The burning problem of our people in this great country of Yogis is that they have forgotten their antecedents, their history and culture, their ancient civilization, their sanatana dharma. The need of the hour is to restore this ancient civilization of the Vedic period- one of pure Consciousness. There was a BHARAT where there were no widows, no thefts, no cheating and crimes! Can we restore that pristine glory? No matter we eat a single meal or a half but do not tell a lie; no matter we lie on a mattress in the cold and the dark, we do not steal others property. We stand by the doctrines of Ishavasya Upanishad and practice it in daily life. We shall regain our lost Consciousness and live true to our Consciousness.
This Research Project is undertaken in three different phases and will first cover the basic concepts and then the entire field of Consciousness- science, philosophy and spirituality aspects of it.
The Introductory aspects are covered in the enclosed book entitled:MAHAVISHNU-

Sunday, January 22, 2012

The Mother vis-à-vis Numerology by Anurag Banerjee

In his book Our Light and Delight: Recollections of Life with the Mother, Amal Kiran alias KD Sethna has devoted a chapter titled The Mother and Sri Aurobindo in the Light of Numerology. In this chapter, Amal Kiran has shown how ‘meaningful numerology’ has served as a light on the lives of both Sri Aurobindo and the Mother. For instance, Sri Aurobindo’s name has twelve letters and Amal Kiran has pointed out how a 12 year-period has served as important milestones in his sadhana post-1914, that is, from the time he met the Mother on the physical plane. Amal Kiran writes about his observation: ‘In 1926 there was the descent of the Overmind into his physical being as well as the Mother’s. Although the Supermind had been already present in the body by 1938 in the sense that it had descended into the embodied complex of mental, vital and subtle-physical beings, it descended in 1938 into the outer physical being for the first time. What could not be done then was to fix it there. In 1950 Sri Aurobindo gave up his body in a strategic self-sacrifice and the Supramental Light was drawn for good and fixed in the physical mind of the Mother, constituting what he had called the Mind of Light.’ [1] Thus we observe that at a regular gap of twelve years Sri Aurobindo attained significant yogic achievements. And let’s not forget that according to the Mother, Sri Aurobindo’s spiritual number was twelve which denoted New Perfection.

But though Amal Kiran has described briefly the effect of numerology on the ‘lives and labours’ of the Mother he has not gone deep into the subject. A probable reason could be that he was ‘indirectly’ warned by the Mother against ‘going too far’ [2] in his numerological calculations. The present article is an extension, rather sequel, to Amal Kiran’s invaluable research.

The Mother attached special significance to numbers. For instance, 4 symbolized Manifestation, 5 represented Power, Six denoted Creation, 7 symbolized Realization and 8 denoted double manifestation and double protection. [3] There are six letters in the word ‘MOTHER’ which, as we know, denotes Creation. If we consider the Mother’s original name—which was—Blanche Rachel Mirra Alfassa, then we would come across 25 letters, that is, 2 + 5 = 7, thus denoting Realization. But the Mother had dropped one ‘r’ from her name after coming to India [4] and the new spelling of her name was Mira. Following the revised spelling, the total number of letters in the Mother’s name was 24, that is, 2 + 4 = 6.

Just as a 12 year period marked important milestones in the yogic life of Sri Aurobindo, a 6 year period marked similar landmarks (both worldly and spiritual) in the life of the Mother as well. We shall commence counting these landmarks from 1908, the year her divorce from Henri Morisset (her first husband) took place and she began to live on her own. Six years later in March 1914 she met Sri Aurobindo; in 1920 she returned from Japan to Pondicherry and settled there permanently to collaborate with Sri Aurobindo in the path of integral yoga. It was again six years later in November 1926 that Sri Aurobindo withdrew into seclusion following the descent of the Overmind consciousness in his physical body and the Mother took charge of the newly formed Ashram. Following her recovery after a serious illness between 18 October and 24 November 1931 due to which she had to withdraw from all her activities (the Soup Distribution ceremony ceased forever due to this illness), she began to appear on the balcony at the back of the Ashram main building from 1932; this marked the beginning of the ‘Balcony Darshan’. Six years later, in November 1938, Sri Aurobindo met with an accident and fractured his knee. In 1944 both Sri Aurobindo and the Mother used their spiritual powers to halt and reverse the Japanese invasion of India. In 1950 Sri Aurobindo descended into death and the Mind of Light was transferred to the Mother. In 1956 the manifestation of the Supermind took place. In 1962 the Mother retired to her apartment on the second floor of the Ashram main building never to step outside the building again; the same year witnessed her resurrection in the night of 12-13 April. [5] And finally 1968 witnessed the birth of Auroville. Thus we see that at a regular interval of six years, important events and significant spiritual landmarks took place in the Mother’s life.

What else could be the ideal conclusion except the following instruction of Amal Kiran that “in relation to the Mother and Sri Aurobindo we should accept large numerological significances without making a fetish of numerology.” [6]

[1] Amal Kiran, Our Light and Delight: Recollections of Life with the Mother, pp. 223-224
[2] Ibid., p. 225
[3] Mona Sarkar, Sweet Mother: Harmonies of Light, Part II, pp. 59-60
[4] Information provided to the author by Janine Morisset, the Mother’s granddaughter
[5] Refer to Mother’s Agenda, 12 June 1962, 7 August 1963, 9 March 1966 and 24 May 1969
[6] Our Light and Delight, p. 225

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Goddess Kali's Power

10 March 1965

Behind all the destructions—the big destructions of Nature—earthquakes, volcanic eruptions, cyclones, floods, etc., or the human destructions—wars, revolutions, riots—there is always Kali's power and upon earth Kali works for the hastening of the terrestrial progress.

whatever is Divine not only in its essence but also in its realisation is above these destructions and cannot be touched by them.

In all cases the extent of the damage gives the measure of the imperfection and must be taken as a lesson for indispensable progress.

                                                                                                                           - The Mother


Friday, January 6, 2012

"Anandamath": A Bengali Novel by Bankim Chandra Chatterjee translated by Sri Aurobindo



Image by Temari09(Flickr). Click image for source

Mantra is creation by Word

The word is a sound expressive of the idea. In the supra-physical plane when an idea has to be realised, one can by repeating the word-expression of it, produce vibrations which prepare the mind for the realisation of the idea. That is the principle of the Mantra and of japa. One repeats the name of the Divine and the vibrations created in the consciousness prepare the realisation of the Divine. It is the same idea that is expressed in the Bible, “God said, Let there be Light, and there was Light.”  It is creation by the Word.
[Sri Aurobindo. Letters on Poetry and Art, 6 May 1933, page 7]

The Mantra as a mental armour

The significant use of गिर्वण: (girvaṇaḥ) indicates that the safety from mortal strokes is also claimed as a result of the Vedic mantra. “Let not those who would slay, do harm against us (अभि [abhi] in our direction); do thou Indra, lord of mental force, in the strength of the mantra, govern our bodies and when the blow comes in our direction ward it off or enable us to ward it off (यवय [yavaya], causal).” The reference seems to me to be to that power of the mental force in which the Indian yogin has always believed, the power which, substituting a divine mental action for the passive helpless and vulnerable action of the body, protects the individual and turns away all attempts physical or otherwise to do him hurt. If I am right in my interpretation, we see the source of the Tantric idea of the stomaor stotra acting as a kavaca or mental armour around the body which keeps off the attacks of suffering, calamity, diseases, wounds or death.
(Sri Aurobindo. Secret of the Veda, Hymns in Praise of Indra)

The Vedas define four types of Mantra

  • Stoma: that which establishes or confirms
  • Uktha: that which desires or wills
  • Gayatra: that which brings up and sets in motion
  • Samsa: that which brings out into the field of expression
(Sri Aurobindo. Secret of the Veda, Hymns in Praise of Indra)

The theory behind the Mantra – Sri Aurobindo

All creation is expression by the Word; but the form which is expressed is only a symbol or representation of the thing which is. We see this in human speech which only presents to the mind a mental form of the object; but the object it seeks to express is itself only a form or presentation of another Reality. That reality is Brahman, Brahman expresses by the Word a form or presentation of himself in the objects of sense and consciousness which constitute the universe, just as the human word expresses a mental image of those objects. That Word is creative in a deeper and more original sense than human speech and with a power of which the utmost creativeness of human speech can be only a far-off and feeble analogy.
The word used here for utterance means literally a raising up to confront the mind. Brahman, says the Upanishad, is that which cannot be so raised up before the mind by speech.
Human speech, as we see, raises up only the presentation of a presentation, the mental figure of an object which is itself only a figure of the sole Reality, Brahman, It has indeed a power of new creation, but even that power only extends to the creation of new mental images, that is to say, of adaptive formations based upon previous mental images. Such a limited power gives no idea of the original creative puissance which the old thinkers attributed to the divine Word.
If, however, we go a little deeper below the surface, we shall arrive at a power in human speech which does give us a remote image of the original creative Word. We know that vibration of sound has the power to create — and to destroy — forms; this is a commonplace of modern Science. Let us suppose that behind all forms there has been a creative vibration of sound.
Next, let us examine the relation of human speech to sound in general. We see at once that speech is only a particular application of the principle of sound, a vibration made by pressure of the breath in its passage through the throat and mouth. At first, beyond doubt, it must have been formed naturally and spontaneously to express the emotions created by an object or occurrence and only afterwards seized upon by the mind to express first the idea of the object and then ideas about the object. The value of speech would therefore seem to be only representative and not creative.
But, in fact, speech is creative. It creates forms of emotion, mental images and impulses of action. The ancient Vedic theory and practice extended this creative action of speech by the use of the Mantra. The theory of the Mantra is that it is a word of power born out of the secret depths of our being where it has been brooded upon by a deeper consciousness than the mental, framed in the heart and not constructed by the intellect, held in the mind, again concentrated on by the waking mental consciousness and then thrown out silently or vocally — the silent word is perhaps held to be more potent than the spoken — precisely for the work of creation. The Mantra can not only create new subjective states in ourselves, alter our psychical being, reveal knowledge and faculties we did not before possess, can not only produce similar results in other minds than that of the user, but can produce vibrations in the mental and vital atmosphere which result in effects, in actions and even in the production of material forms on the physical plane.
As a matter of fact, even ordinarily, even daily and hourly we do produce by the word within us thought-vibrations, thought-forms which result in corresponding vital and physical vibrations, act upon ourselves, act upon others and end in the indirect creation of actions and of forms in the physical world. Man is constantly acting upon man both by the silent and the spoken word and he so acts and creates, though less directly and powerfully, even in the rest of Nature. But because we are stupidly engrossed with the external forms and phenomena of the world and do not trouble to examine its subtle and non-physical processes, we remain ignorant of all this field of science behind.
The Vedic use of the Mantra is only a conscious utilisation of this secret power of the word. And if we take the theory that underlies it together with our previous hypothesis of a creative vibration of sound behind every formation, we shall begin to understand the idea of the original creative Word. Let us suppose a conscious use of the vibrations of sound which will produce corresponding forms or changes of form. But Matter is only, in the ancient view, the lowest of the planes of existence. Let us realise then that a vibration of sound on the material plane pre-supposes a corresponding vibration on the vital without which it could not have come into play; that, again, presupposes a corresponding originative vibration on the mental; the mental presupposes a corresponding originative vibration on the supramental at the very root of things. But a mental vibration implies thought and perception and a supramental vibration implies a supreme vision and discernment. All vibration of sound on that higher plane is, then, instinct with and expressive of this supreme discernment of a truth in things and is at the same time creative, instinct with a supreme power which casts into forms the truth discerned and eventually, descending from plane to plane, reproduces it in the physical form or object created in Matter by etheric sound. Thus we see that the theory of creation by the Word which is the absolute expression of the Truth, and the theory of the material creation by sound-vibration in the ether correspond and are two logical poles of the same idea. They both belong to the same ancient Vedic system.
This, then, is the supreme Word, Speech of our speech. It is vibration of pure Existence, instinct with the perceptive and originative power of infinite and omnipotent consciousness, shaped by the Mind behind mind into the inevitable word of the Truth of things; out of whatever substance on whatever plane, the form or physical expression emerges by its creative agency. The Supermind using the Word is the creative Logos.
(Sri Aurobindo, The Upanishads,pp 168-170)

When does the Mantra succeed ?

The japa is usually successful only on one of two conditions – if it is repeated with a sense of its significance, a dwelling of something in the mind on the nature, power, beauty, attraction of the Godhead it signifies and is to bring into the consciousness, – that is the mental way; or if it comes up from the heart or rings in it with a certain sense or feeling of bhakti making it alive, – that is the emotional way. Either the mind or the vital has to give it support or sustenance. But if it makes the mind dry and the vital restless, it must be missing that support and sustenance. There is, of course, a third way, the reliance on the power of the mantra or name in itself; but then one has to go on till that power has sufficiently impressed its vibration on the inner being to make it at a given moment suddenly open to the Presence or the Touch. But if there is a struggling or insistence for the result, then this effect which needs a quiet receptivity in the mind is impeded. That is why I insisted so much on mental quietude and not on too much straining or effort, to give time to allow the psychic and the mind to develop the necessary condition of receptivity – a receptivity as natural as when one receives an inspiration for poetry and music.
[Sri Aurobindo. Letters on Yoga, Sadhana through Meditation, p745]

Three kinds of Japa (Japa=chant)

Japa is of three kinds. Japa done aloud is the lowest; Japa done in low tones is the middle; Japa done mentally is the best. (Kularnava Tantra 15.54)
WHEN the Japa is done aloud (in the hearing of others) there is a tendency for the repetition to get mechanical. The sound predominates over the sense and much of the benefit is lost.
When it is done in low tones (with the movement of lips but outside the hearing of others) there is less distraction of sound. But still the effort of repetition of the words affects the concentration of the consciousness.
Such a concentration is fully possible when the Japa proceeds without verbal repetition (without any movement of lips). One dwells upon the meaning and the consciousness participates uninterruptedly in the affirmation and re-affirmation of the invocation. The letters or words are repeated very subtly within the being as supports to this How of consciousness to the Deity.   This is called Ajapa Japa.
[M.P. Pandit. Gems of the Tantra, Series 1, p43]

Ajapa Japa (i.e. chanting that occurs automatically without the chant)

When one repeats a mantra regularly, very often it begins to repeat itself within, which means that it is taken up by the inner being. In that way it is more effective.
[Sri Aurobindo. Letters on Yoga, p748]

The true Mantra must come from within OR it must be given by a Guru

Mother Mirra Alfassa: Nobody can give you the true mantra. It’s not something that is given; it’s something that wells up from within. It must spring from within all of a sudden, spontaneously, like a profound, intense need of your being – then it has power, because it’s not something that comes from outside, it’s your very own cry.
I saw, in my case, that my mantra has the power of immortality; whatever happens, if it is uttered, it’s the Supreme that has the upper hand, it’s no longer the lower law. And the words are irrelevant, they may not have any meaning – to someone else, my mantra is meaningless, but to me it’s full, packed with meaning. And effective, because it’s my cry, the intense aspiration of my whole being.
A mantra given by a guru is only the power to realize the experience of the discoverer of the mantra. The power is automatically there, because the sound contains the experience. I saw that once in Paris, at a time when I knew nothing of India, absolutely nothing, only the usual nonsense. I didn’t even know what a mantra was. I had gone to a lecture given by some fellow who was supposed to have practiced “yoga” for a year in the Himalayas and recounted his experience (none too interesting, either). All at once, in the course of his lecture, he uttered the sound OM. And I saw the entire room suddenly fill with light, a golden, vibrating light…. I was probably the only one to notice it. I said to myself, “Well!” Then I didn’t give it any more thought, I forgot about the story. But as it happened, the experience recurred in two or three different countries, with different people, and every time there was the sound OM, I would suddenly see the place fill with that same light. So I understood. That sound contains the vibration of thousands and thousands of years of spiritual aspiration – there is in it the entire aspiration of men towards the Supreme. And the power is automatically there, because the experience is there.
It’s the same with my mantra. When I wanted to translate the end of my mantra, “Glory to You, O Lord,” into Sanskrit, I asked for Nolini’s help. He brought his Sanskrit translation, and when he read it to me, I immediately saw that the power was there – not because Nolini put his power into it (!), God knows he had no intention of “giving” me a mantra! But the power was there because my experience was there. We made a few adjustments and modifications, and that’s the japa I do now – I do it all the time, while sleeping, while walking, while eating, while working, all the time.[[Mother later clarified: "'Glory to You, O Lord' isn't MY mantra, it's something I ADDED to it - my mantra is something else altogether, that's not it. When I say that my mantra has the power of immortality, I mean the other, the one I don't speak of! I have never given the words.... You see, at the end of my walk, a kind of enthusiasm rises, and with that enthusiasm, the 'Glory to You' came to me, but it's part of the prayer I had written in Prayers and Meditations: 'Glory to You, O Lord, all-triumphant Supreme' etc. (it's a long prayer). It came back suddenly, and as it came back spontaneously, I kept it. Moreover, when Sri Aurobindo read this prayer in Prayers and Meditations, he told me it was very strong. So I added this phrase as a kind of tail to my japa. But 'Glory to You, O Lord' isn't my spontaneous mantra - it came spontaneously, but it was something written very long ago. The two things are different." ]]
And that’s how a mantra has life: when it wells up all the time, spontaneously, like the cry of your being – there is no need of effort or concentration: it’s your natural cry. Then it has full power, it is alive. It must well up from within…. No guru can give you that.
[Mother's Agenda, May 11 1963]

The Mantra controls the physical mind according to Mother Mirra Alfassa

Satprem: Doing japa seems to exert a pressure on my physical consciousness, which goes on turning! How can I silence it? As soon as my concentration is not absolute, the physical mind starts up – it grabs at anything, anything at all, any word, fact or event that comes along, and it starts turning, turning. If you stop it, if you put some pressure on it, then it springs back up two minutes later … And there is no inner consent at all. It chews on words, it chews on ideas or feelings – interminably. What should I do?
Mother: Yes, it’s the physical mind. The japa is made precisely to control the physical mind.
I myself use it for a very special reason, because … You see, I invoke (the words are a bit strange) … the Lord of Tomorrow. Not the unmanifest Lord, but the Lord as he will manifest ‘tomorrow,’ or in Sri Aurobindo’s words, the divine manifestation in its supramental form.
So the first sound of my mantra is the call to that, the evocation. With the second sound, the body’s cells make their’ surrender,’ they give themselves. And with the third sound comes the identification of this [the body] with That, which produces the divine life. These are my three sounds.
And in the beginning, during the first months that I was doing the japa, I felt them … I had an almost detailed awareness of these myriads of cells opening to this vibration; the vibration of the first sound is an absolutely special vibration (you see, above, there is the light and all that, but beyond this light there is the original vibration), and this vibration was entering into all the cells and was reproduced in them. It went on for months in this way.
[Mother's Agenda, Oct 11 1960]

Mantra in Sri Aurobindo’s poem Savitri

As when the mantra sinks in Yoga’s ear,
Its message enters stirring the blind brain
And keeps in the dim ignorant cells its sound
The hearer understands a form of words
And, musing on the index thought it holds,
He strives to read it with the labouring mind,
But finds bright hints, not the embodied truth:
Then, falling silent in himself to know
He meets the deeper listening of his soul:
The Word repeats itself in rhythmic strains:
Thought, vision, feeling, sense, the body’s self
Are seized unulterably and he endures
An ecstasy and an immortal change;
He feels a Wideness and becomes a Power,
All knowledge rushes on him like a sea:
Transmuted by the white spiritual ray
He walks in naked heavens of joy and calm,
Sees the God-face and hears transcendent speech.
[Sri Aurobindo.  Savitri, Book IV, Canto 3, p 374]

Some Mantras (from various sources)

  1. Om Namo Bhagavate Sri Aravindaya (recording link)
  2. Om Anandamayi Chaitanyamayi Satyamayi Parame.(another link)
  3. Om Sri Aurobindo Mirra
  4. Om Tat Sat Jyotir Aravinda (another link)
  5. Om Satyam Jnanam Jyotir Aravinda
  6. Om Sri Mata Aravinda Charanam Nama
  7. Om Vishwani Deva Savitur Duritani Parasuva Yad Bhadram Tanna Asuva
  8. Gayatri Mantra: Om bhur bhuvas suvah, tat savitur varenyam, bhargo devasya dhimahi,dheeyo yo naha prachodayat.  (youtube link)
  9. Sri Aurobindo’s Gayatri Mantra : Om Tat Savitur Varam Rupam, Jyoti Parasya Dhimahi Yannah Satyena Dipayet. (recording link) (Mohan Mistry’s rendition) (Joya Di’s rendition)  [Tat = That, Savitur = Sun-god who is the Creator, Varam = most auspicious, Rupam = form, Jyotih = Light, Parasya = of the Lord (since para = Transcendental), Dhimahi = meditate on (since Dhi = Intellect), Yannah = by which,Satyena = Truth, Dipayet = illumine (dipa = light) ]
NoteAccording to M.P.Pandit, the original Gayatri Mantra was intended for illumining the intellect, while Sri Aurobindo’s modification of the Gayatri Mantra is intended for supramentalization of the entire being.   Refer to M.P. Pandit’ book Sri Aurobindo and his Yoga page 107 (google book link)

Related Posts

  1. Vedic Vak: four levels of sound
  2. Vedic Vak: illustration of Para Vak

Other pages on Mantras

  1. Moscow Center Mantras (has mp3 files)
  2. Recitations by M.P.Pandit, a disciple of Sri Aurobindo

CD & booklet by Arun Amin

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