Monday, July 18, 2016

Rakshasas (Demons) and Man

Disciple: When do the Rakshasas and Asuras get a chance of exploiting men?
Sri Aurobindo: When men open themselves to their influence. If we indulge ourselves to any great extent in ambition, lust, greed etc., they get a chance of establishing their sway over us. When groups of persons begin sadhana, all these forces gather round them and try to find out some hole or weak points through which they may enter and frustrate the sadhana which tends to take these men away from the influence of these lower forces.
Disciple: How are these beings affected by the sadhana or tapasya of men?
Sri Aurobindo: They enjoy by associating with men.
Disciple: Have these beings any progress or evolution?
Sri Aurobindo: They may be changed into some other being but not by stages of evolution through which man has to pass. When they open themselves to the higher power, make themselves servants of the higher will, they may be transformed. Some say that they incarnate themselves as men in order to do sadhana and attain salvation; thus there is the view that Asuras attain salvation by dying in the hands of God. I cannot say why such a view is held and what truth there is in it. But these beings as they are, can be known very well – their natures and different kinds of play can be easily discerned.
-      Sri Aurobindo
   (26 June, 1926)
(Interviews and Conversations with Sri Aurobindo and

 the Mother by Anilbaran Roy)

Sunday, July 10, 2016

Literary Ambience of Pondicherry : Sri Aurobindo School of Literature by Aju Mukhopadhyay

Pondicherry has a great antiquity. A small town surrounded by countryside on the Bay of
Bengal in the south-east coast of India, Pondicherry was the seat of Vedic teaching and
learning founded by Rishi Agastya who arrived from North India before the birth of Jesus
Christ; much before the advent of contesting colonial powers on its shore. It became a
literary hub during the time Sri Aurobindo and his disciples were living here but it has
not retained much of its aura now. Pondicherry now lies vibrant with its shops, tourists
and entertainment industry (a city now, in terms of population) but in the literary sphere it
seems to be an appendage of the metropolis (Chennai, erstwhile Madras city).
Hundreds of years passed while Portuguese, Dutch, French and the British
competed for its occupation. Finally when the British occupied the whole of India,
French settled in Pondicherry and three smaller coastal territories of South India in three
far flung provinces of Tamil Nadu, Kerala and Andhra Pradesh and one on the Ganges in
West Bengal while the Dutch was satisfied to keep its presence in Goa. French occupied
Pondicherry for about 200 years before leaving it for good in 1954. However, it is still
considered to be the French window of India, as Nehru opined, with its language, culture
and heritage still lingering in the surroundings through some institutions and heritage
buildings the benefit of which is reaped specially by Tourism Department.
While the British Government in India chased the freedom fighters and
revolutionaries everywhere under its empire, some political firebrands from nearby
Madras took shelter in Pondicherry under the French. Aurobindo Ghose from remote
Calcutta arrived via Chandernagore, the French territory in Bengal, as it was called then,
sailed in cognito in a Ceylon (now Sri Lanka) bound ship to reach silently the shore of
Pondicherry on 4 April 1910.
He was a great savant, a poet, politician and journalist. Here he began his yogic
life, away from the day-to-day humdrum society with political mix. Here came the
French savant and writer Paul Richard and his wife Madam Mirra Richard. The three of
them jointly founded the great philosophical quarterly review, Arya on 15 August 1915,
on Sri Aurobindo’s birthday. As the two French people were persecuted by the British
power for their association with the revolutionary Aurobindo Ghose they had to leave
India after about a year and then it was the sole responsibility of Sri Aurobindo to write
almost the whole review, all by himself. All his philosophical and spiritual works filled
its pages until its end in1921. The poet and politician came to be known here as a
philosopher and yogi. Great scholars and inquisitive readers in India awaited the
appearance of each issue of the Arya. Sri Aurobindo’s magnum opus, The Life Divine,
and many other works were serialized here. In Pondicherry he continued to write and
rewrite Savitri, a spiritual epic, the largest poem in English language and one of the
largest in any language.
Mirra Richard came back imbibing some of the Japanese culture in 1920 and
stayed on as a spiritual collaborator of Sri Aurobindo and stayed even beyond his passing
away in 1950. She remained on earth up to 1973 and enriched the Ashram circle and
others outside with her literature, leadership and teachings, wrapping them with her
spiritual opulence and protection. She became the Mother of the Ashram inmates and
others, so called by Sri Aurobindo himself.
Among the political refugees who came from Madras was Subramania Bharati, a
Tamil poet and author, editor and freedom fighter. Arriving in 1908 he remained in the
town for some ten years. He was greatly influenced by Sri Aurobindo and wrote many
patriotic and spiritual poems. Sri Aurobindo was also benefited by diving deeper in the
sea of Tamil Literature through him mainly. He translated Sri Aurobindo in Tamil and
the latter translated some classic from Tamil Literature into English, mainly by his help.
Poet and critic K.R.S. Iyengar wrote that this period of Bharati’s life in Pondicherry was
considered to be the Bharati Age in Tamil Literature. Another poet of Pondicherry was
Bharatidasan who too enriched the Tamil literature in many ways. V. Ramaswamy
Iyengar, popularly known as Va. Ra. in the Tamil Literary World for his short stories,
came to live with Sri Aurobindo sometime in 1911 and lived up to 1913. He too was
deeply influenced by Sri Aurobindo.
The sphere of Sri Aurobindo’s literary creations spread much beyond
Pondicherry. It drew the attention of many Western critics and influenced many of them.
While Yogi Sri Aurobindo with his path breaking spiritual achievement and contribution
in the spiritual and literary fields, with his past fame as a revolutionary politician, with
his new writings added to his journalistic works done earlier, came to be known
throughout the world, many talented seekers, litterateurs, critics and musical artists and
painters thronged around him, mostly as his disciples.
Along with some regional literatures like Bangla, Gujerati, Hindi, Oriya and
Tamil, Indian English literature was created in a big way from Pondicherry though it was
not so called at that time. Some of the authors, poets, fiction writers and essayists, who
gathered round Sri Aurobindo about this time enriched the literature produced from
Pondicherry thereby enriching the Sri Aurobindo School of literature. Their works
reached many parts of the world in original and in translation. They were Nolini Kanta
Gupta, Harindranath Chattopadhyay, Dilip Kumar Roy, Sahana Devi, A. E. (George
William Russel), Nishikanta, K. D. Sethna alias Amal Kiran and Nirodbaran. Among
others who joined the lineage towards the end or shortly after this period were Satprem,
T. V. Kapali Shastriar, M. P. Pandit, Nalini Kanta Sarkar, Tehmi, Pujalal, Sundaram,
Rishavchand, Kireet Joshi, Dr. Arabinda Basu, Kamalakanta, Romen Palit, Narayan
Prasad, Shyamsundar Jhunjhunwala, Sujata Nahar, Manoj Das, Jugal Kishore Mukherjee,
Samir Kanta Gupta, Kishore Gandhi, Shyam Kumari and others like young Mona Sarkar.
All of them remained for a major or considerable part of their lives in Pondicherry,
creating literature mainly in English but some in their mother tongues too. None of the
writers who shared their works with Sri Aurobindo lives now. Some of the disciples
stayed mostly outside but contributed in the same way like Dr. Sisir Kumar Ghose, Dr.
Madhusudan Reddy, Dr. Karan Singh, Dr. K. R. S. Iyengar and Dr. Prema Nandakumar.
Some of the magazines of Sri Aurobindo’s time exist still with contributions from others
but that is beyond the scope of this work. It is natural that some of the writers are still
influenced by Sri Aurobindo and his line of creation, living in Pondicherry and outside.
They all belong to the same school of thought and ideas. Sri Chinmoy, who became
famous for his devotional songs and meditation centres throughout the world based in
USA, created poems, songs, paintings and had shown extraordinary physical and other
fitness. He was famous in the UNO circle and left the earth 13 October 2007. He lived in
Pondicherry from his childhood as a disciple of the master and the Mother and carried
their ideas in his heart.
Those who remained with or near Sri Aurobindo were saturated with his spiritual
influence besides literature. Some of Sri Aurobindo’s disciples wrote on yoga and
spiritual subjects besides many of them creating essays and creative literature with a
spiritual background. The idea was aptly expressed by a litterateur and serious sadhak or
spiritual practitioner, Krishnaprem, alias Ronald Nixon. In his letter of 1st February 1934
to Dilip Kumar Roy, which was appreciated by Sri Aurobindo also, he wrote:
“In the last resort, this whole cosmos is but expression- Divine Expression, and in
proportion as He. . . is able to manifest in us, we shall ourselves automatically become
centres of expression. Till then, our productions whether in the realms of poetry,
philosophy or art, are but the play of children, funerals where none is dead and marriage
where there is no bride.”
The above is a general listing of poets and authors. The list is not exhaustive for
there were more of them. We have not named most of the next generation litterateurs and
other artists who came later and are still working. But it may be said that such names
have become rare now which belongs to Sri Aurobindo School of writing, though
writings continue.
Sri Aurobindo’s massive literary works are supported by his profound knowledge
of world language, literature, culture and philosophy. He wrote more than 50000 lines of
poetry including the largest epic Savitri in English language; a poetic version of The Life
Divine. His essays on social and cultural subjects, essays on yoga and spiritualism were
the supporting documents of his thoughts and ideas though after a stage of his yogic
maturity he hardly wrote thinking mentally. His short stories were forgotten by him,
discovered after his demise. His dramas were written earlier and at the early period of
Pondicherry period based on different countries; history, myth and romance. Some of
them were enacted but not followed up by most others.
There were many followers of his poetry, mystic and spiritual poems, large
numbers of sonnets, and among his essays; on Indian culture, ancient Indian history and
social ideas and on his works on language and literature, on history, on scriptures like
Vedas and Upanishads. Sri Aurobindo introduced Sanskrit, Greek and Latin rhyming
patterns in English language. Among the things he received from the occult world there
were some works in a language unknown before but it was not followed up to the end for
any conclusion. Above all, what made him the centre of a literary school; he did not
claim to be a founder of it, it came into being in the course of time, was the massive
discussion on his poetry and some other works by himself. Some of his disciples were
aptly trained in literature and were creator-critics. They constantly questioned him about
different aspects of his writings including rhyming patterns and contents of his works and
instead of being disturbed Sri Aurobindo answered his learned disciples even over the
nights filling up hundreds of pages all of which may be taken as his literary theories
based on his erudition and creative techniques and sources. So when it is said like Sri
Aurobindean of Sri Aurobindonian literature it must be considered that it is backed by
thousands of pages of his literature and their theoretical expositions. Sri Aurobindonean
school of thought or philosophy or poetry or literature is not based on few pages of
techniques and approbation by some critic friends.
Sri Aurobindo Ashram reproduces mainly Sri Aurobindo’s and some of the
Mother’s works and publish works written on them mainly. Sri Aurobindo’s literary and
other works carry eternal values, specially those he wrote with yogic consciousness; his
major works. There are and may be more publishers now publishing his works. Some of
his works, it is said and found to have undergone some changes, some edited and
presented differently in the course of publishing different editions which seem to be
deviations from the established and expected norms for none who changed could claim to
have done so with the same consciousness as of Sri Aurobindo. All lovers of literature
with respect for Sri Aurobindo and his spiritual consciousness would like them to be
retained as they were in the original. None has right to change a single word as used by a
poet. Mother never agreed to any change in Sri Aurobind’s works.
There were and are some local publishing establishments and local writers,
writing in Tamil and English and occasionally in French or other languages from
Pondicherry but such productions and their circulation seem not to have acquired much
Among the English language dailies, The Hindu, The New Indian Express, Times
of India and The Deccan Chronicle and two Tamil language dailies published from
Chennai are available in the news stand which are very rare to find; few are easily located
in the town. The weeklies published here thrive on and with matters of advertisements
only. They are insignificant as media. They have no literary values. Few English
language book shops thrive here. I think readers are quite few here than other types of
men and women, whatever they are. Competition from visual media, mobile phones and
other avenues of cheap entertainment are swallowing up even the genuine readers
everywhere, at least in India.
Local literary merits may be hidden somewhere but rarely focused. No significant
English language magazine or newspapers are published from Pondicherry. But in spite
of all barriers some litterateurs have found their niche at the all India level and even
beyond. There are windows for spiritual books and school, college books but they do not
cover the main body of literature. Some Book Fairs are held in the UT from time to time
and people visit and buy some books. But the particular literary flavour originating and
spreading from here as during the period under discussion has stopped. These are not
problems endemic to this area only but they apply more or less to many other towns too.
Among the institutions Pondicherry University has sometimes encouraged local writers.
And the French Institute is engaged on related research works.
On the whole, writing and publishing are not as strong activities here as some
other activities like entertainment. Lack of verve keeps the unexplored areas silent.
People live vibrantly with exhibitions, fairs, festivals, fashions and different types of
entertainment including eating out. Common gay people throng the sea side and walk
with mobile phones tucked to the ear.

(Courtesy : The Creative Launcher, Volume I, Issue II, pp. 33-39)

Sunday, May 22, 2016

Manakula Vinayagar Temple of Puducherry

                                                                                                                      - B.D.Jatti

Courtesy : I am my own model by B.D.Jatti, pp. 109-110

(Shri B.D. Jatti was appointed as the Lieutenant Governor of Pondicherry in 1968. He became the Governor of Odisha in 1972 and, in 1974, assumed office as the fifth Vice-President of India. He became acting President for a brief period after the death of Fakhruddin Ali Ahmed in 1977.)

Tuesday, March 29, 2016

The Mother’s Interviews with Dr. Indra Sen about the Supramental Manifestation of 29 February 1956

The Mother has the concrete experience of the descent of the Supramental Consciousness on Earth on February 29,1956.

The Golden Day
‘The lights had been turned off at the Playground after the reading of some passages from The Synthesis of Yoga and the children's questions. They all sat on the ground in a semicircle around her. One heard the sea in the distance, and the beam of the lighthouse swept over the top of the walls – two short flashes, one long. It was the “Wednesday meditation.” One saw Mother in the dark, seated in her low chair, bent somewhat forward, with a Plumeria flower between her motionless fingers. She always looked white, this Mother, even when dressed in red or in whatever colour, as if something radiated through her body, a kind of white luminosity at times so dense that it became visible to our materialistic eyes. And there were the disciples, silent…' 

1 [This is how a French disciple, present there on 29 February 1956, gives his impression of the moment at the Playground when the Supramental manifested in the atmosphere of the Earth.] 
The Mother herself noted down that very evening: ‘This evening the Divine Presence, concrete and material, was there present amongst you. I had a form of living gold, bigger than the universe, and I was facing a huge and massive golden door which separated the world from the Divine. As I looked at the door, I knew and willed, in a single movement of consciousness, that “the time has come,” and lifting with both hand a mighty golden hammer I struck one blow, one single blow on the door and the door was shattered to pieces. Then the supramental Light and Force and Consciousness rushed down upon earth in an uninterrupted flow.' 
Later she explained in a conversation with K.D. Sethna: ‘The whole thing is not so much a vision or an experience as something done by me. I went up into the Supermind and did what was to be done. There was no need for any verbal formulation as far as I was concerned, but in order to put it into words for others I wrote the thing down. Always in writing, a realization, a state of consciousness gets somewhat limited: the very act of expression narrows the reality to some extent.'

The significance of this event cannot be overestimated. What Sri Aurobindo and the Mother had been working for since the beginning of their Avataric yoga was now realized. What had they been working for? To bring the supramental, i.e. divine Consciousness down on Earth, to insert it into the earthly evolution and thus make the decisive evolutionary step possible by which one day a divinized species will be present on Earth in a material body…

The manifestation of the Supramental on 29 February 1956 meant, among other things, that the future embodiment of the supramentally conscious being beyond Man, of the divine Superman, was now assured, as it was assured that the human aspiration throughout countless millenniums was being fulfilled: the world would not always be a place of frustration, suffering and death. Like everything else in the One Divine it would be able to materially develop its essential divine nature. K.D. Sethna wrote in his diary: ‘I wonder when the world will realize that [on 29 February 1956] the greatest event in history took place.'

The Mother announced the Event in the Bulletin of April 1956. There she published the following four lines under the heading ‘29 February:

'Lord, Thou hast willed and I execute:
A new light breaks upon the earth,
A new world is born.
The things that were promised are fulfilled'.

This was a modification of four great lines from her diary entry on 25 September 1914, forty-two years before:

'The Lord has willed and Thou dost execute:
A new Light shall break upon the earth.
A new world shall be born
And the things that were promised shall be fulfilled'.

Tellingly, the future expectation had become the present realization. At the same time, she had the following declaration published, under the date 24 April 1956:
‘The manifestation of the Supramental upon earth is no more a promise but a living fact, a reality. It is at work here, and one day will come when the most blind, the most unconscious, even the most unwilling shall be obliged to recognize it.'

Henceforth in the Ashram 29 February was called the Golden Day.
From ‘The Mother, The Story of Her Life' by Georges Van Vrekhem, pp 415 – 425


29 February 1956

During the common meditation on Wednesday

“This evening the Divine Presence, concrete and material, was there present amongst you. I had a form of living gold, bigger than the universe, and I was facing a huge and massive golden door which separated the world from the Divine.

As I looked at the door, I knew and willed, in a single movement of consciousness, that “the time has come”, and lifting with both hands a mighty golden hammer I struck one blow, one single blow on the door and the door was shattered to pieces.

Then the supramental Light and Force and Consciousness rushed down upon earth in an uninterrupted flow.”

                                                                                    - The Mother


The Mother’s Interviews with Dr. Indra Sen about the Supramental Manifestation of 29 February 1956

Dear Friends,
Dr. Indra Sen (13 May 1903—14 March 1994) was a noted scholar, author and educationist who obtained his Master’s degree in Philosophy and Psychology from the University of Delhi and Ph.D from the University of Freiburg in Germany. He taught Philosophy and Psychology at the Hindu College in Delhi. In 1939 he visited Pondicherry and soon became a staunch follower of Sri Aurobindo and the Mother. In 1943 his wife Lilawati was asked by the Mother (who renamed her Violette) to settle down in Sri Aurobindo Ashram as inmates along with her two children. Dr. Sen also joined the Ashram in 1945. He had presented several famous papers on psychology in academic circles but for him the study of psychology was not sufficient without a corresponding spiritual realization because, according to his daughter Dr. Aster Patel, he wanted a realization in consciousness of the spiritual truths of existence. In the works of Sri Aurobindo he found the basis of a wholeness which ‘would make the experience a fact of personal corroboration.’ He coined the term ‘Integral Psychology’ which was accepted by Sri Aurobindo as the proper term for presenting his psychological work.
As the year 2016 marks the sixtieth anniversary of the Supramental Manifestation upon earth, two interviews of the Mother (which took place on 13 May and 22 May respectively) with Dr. Indra Sen about the said manifestation  are published in the online forum of Overman Foundation.
With warm regards,
Anurag Banerjee
Overman Foundation.
13 May 1956
The Mother: Were you here on the 29th February?
Indra Sen: Yes, Mother, I was here. I arrived the same day in the morning and I was present at the “Questions and Answers” and the Meditation.
The Mother: Did you feel anything then?
Indra Sen: No, Mother. All I was aware of is that it was a calm and quiet meditation. It is only on the Darshan Day, the 24th April, that a vague and faint sense of reality of the New Force came to me. And since then the feeling of it has been growing, but I don’t have a clear and concrete sense of its existence.
The Mother: Well, what happened was something tremendous. Suddenly a flood of light came pouring forth, as if the divine gate had been thrown wide open. It continued for twenty minutes. Or, rather, I watched it for twenty minutes and then stopped the meditation. I could not carry on the meditation indefinitely—you know how restless people become.
When the light was pouring, I thought that at the end of the meditation I would find everybody knocked out, lying flat. But when I opened my eyes I found them as after any meditation. I myself had to make a special effort to come into my external being and it was with great difficulty that I could utter a word.
Indra Sen: Was this advent unexpected?
The Mother: Absolutely. But all my greatest experiences have come like that. I am in my usual consciousness and they come suddenly, as if to show their reality in the fullest contrast and vividness. They have the best value when first received in this way. When one is informed beforehand, the mind begins to play a part. On the present occasion, when the mind came in I was on our side of the divine gate: there was then just a magnificent light, nothing more. Those who live in their emotions had a better chance to feel things than those who live in their minds.
Indra Sen: What should I do to acquire a sense of the Supermind?
The Mother: The Supermind will work itself out—by the decision of the Supreme. Sri Aurobindo was instrumental in bringing it. The working of the Supermind in my body has gone on since the 5th December, 1950. It has been a progressive individual working; so I thought things would go on like that. But in January this year Sri Aurobindo appeared to me two or three times and it was as if he indicated that the Supermind was coming on a universal scale.
What has come has got engulfed at present and it has to work itself out. Nature did not reject it—she could not. The Supreme decided that the time had come and He released the Force. But the Inconscient has covered it up. It can be felt in the subtle-physical, but in the physical there is hardly anything yet. The manifestation is only a little more than two months old and it will show itself gradually. I can definitely feel it in the subtle-physical, but my sensitiveness is perhaps a little unusual… Two disciples here in the Ashram and three outside simultaneously had rare experiences as a result of what had happened.
A marked difference has now come in our Yoga. Things that were easy are now achieved without effort. Things that appeared difficult appear easy. Things impossible seem now achievable and likely.
The pouring of the Supermind is constant, but at Balcony time every morning it is more concentrated.
People have been here twenty to thirty years—talking of the Supermind’s coming and prepared for it, as it were—yet they did not notice it when it came!
The manifestation was a cosmic phenomenon and I took time to return to this individual self and it was difficult to speak the first word.
In half an hour I formulated the whole experience and wrote it down.
22 May 1956
The Mother: Things are now all changed for me—radically changed.
Indra Sen: How, Mother?
The Mother: Previously everything worked under the pressure of the Mind of Light. Sri Aurobindo secured this working when he left his body. Now it is the Supermind that directly guides and governs. The manifestation is just over two and a half months old and yet a new situation—an absolutely new situation—has come into being.
What has happened now I call a manifestation and not a descent, because it is not an individual event: the Supermind has burst forth into universal play. It has become a principle at constant work upon all earth—a possibility of a general order, as when the mind was first diffused over the earth.