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At the Feet of The Mother

The Book of Yoga

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A talk at Savitri Bhavan on August 22, 2017 (Invocation 48:6-30, 41-43)

Long back a very instructive story used to do the rounds in the Ashram. According to the tale, when newcomers come to the Ashram they ask ‘Who are the yogis doing sadhana here?’ Somehow, we have a penchant for meeting yogis. It is more important to engage in yoga than to meet yogis, but nevertheless the story goes that when this question was put to an old-time member of the Ashram, he replied, ‘Only two people are doing yoga here.’ ‘Who are those two?’ ‘Sri Aurobindo and the Mother.’ ‘What about the others?’ ‘Well, they are receiving the fruits of their yoga.’ Of course, this was not part of the story but it stands as a corollary.

This statement continues to be true even though nowadays there are many integral yogis, even integral yoga gurus. But the statement stands true. It is an eternal truth, a truth which is hinted at in the Bible, a truth which is brought out forcefully in the Gita, and a truth which is revealed to us in great perfection of detail in Savitri: that it is the Divine who does the yoga. No one else does yoga. From time to time, from age to age, whenever there are crucial junctures, critical moments in the evolutionary history of yoga or life upon earth – which are two ways of seeing the same thing – the Divine who has been doing the yoga secretly, hidden behind the earthly appearances, comes down in the front so to say, to intervene openly and carry the yoga still further. Indeed, what we call yoga is, when seen from the Divine ‘perspective’, a progressive manifestation of the Spirit concealed in matter. Yoga is merely a means through which the individual can consciously participate and thereby collaborate in the process.

We may ask ‘Why does the Divine need to do yoga?’ This question was once put to the Mother. In the 1960s a lady came to take leave of the Mother when she was returning home, and said, ‘I hope you are keeping well.’ She had heard that the Mother was unwell and felt that she should give her good wishes. The Mother replied, ‘No, it’s not that, it’s the yoga.’ Then, with the effervescence of an ignorant child: ‘Yoga! But you shouldn’t be doing yoga! You shouldn’t be….’ The Mother only laughed and touched her cheek; but she has related that it was Sri Aurobindo who came and replied: ‘Little children don’t know what they are talking about.’

This is the truth: that the Divine does the yoga. It is not man or anyone else who does the yoga. In Savitri also we see this great truth brought out. Very often people turn to Savitri because they want to know what they should do. I think it is beautifully summarised by Satyavan, the soul in man which alone knows this simplest and yet most profound truth, in Book Twelve:

Lay all on her; she is the cause of all. [723]

But there is a whole background to this. One of the great beauties of Savitri is that it is the story of the Divine Mother. There are different ways of approaching it, but personally I find it very fascinating because it is the story of the Divine Mother. Sri Aurobindo tells us about her origin, her source, and how she has been bringing out various things in the course of the earth’s evolution by the power of yoga. The Divine does the yoga for earth. The earth is a spiritual formation meant for this purpose. To be born on earth means by default programming that we cannot really be satisfied unless we engage with yoga. Of course, some people are wary of the term, so they use the word ‘education’ instead. But education is nothing but one of the means that humanity uses for yoga. It is simply conscious evolution. We are trying to evolve, to grow. No wonder that one book by the Mother is appropriately titled On Education. It is a collection of essays which she says are meant for those who are lone wayfarers on the path of yoga, perhaps without knowing it. The yoga is going on but we are not consciously aware of it. Humanity has been created as one of the means by which this yoga can become a conscious and concentrated process.

In Savitri too we see this great truth. There are two yogis in Savitri: one is the Lord who becomes Aswapati and the second is the Divine Mother who incarnates as Savitri. Although they are engaged in much the same thing there is a difference. Aswapati is a forerunner of the human race. He begins his experience from a very high starting point. The starting point of Aswapati’s yoga is summarised in about one page, where Sri Aurobindo describes the whole development possible for the psychic spark to a fully developed psychic being, from the state of a worm and then to higher and higher forms until it is able to escape across the border line of Ignorance to stand on the frontiers of Supernature. Then he says:

Across our nature’s border line we escape
Into Supernature’s arc of living light.
This now was witnessed in that son of Force;
In him that high transition laid its base. [24]

We are not told what Aswapati did to bring about this great change. We are shown that he begins to receive powers and experiences which are new to earth, he develops new faculties and there is the birth of new possibilities of thought and sense and feeling and action. When the Mother speaks about ‘The Yoga of the King’ (which is the yoga of Aswapati in two parts and then ‘The Secret Knowledge’), she says that these are experiences of the new consciousness, which the higher being will find coming about in him very naturally.

We have also seen in Sri Aurobindo’s own life that it is as if he was suddenly drawn into yoga. And what a yoga! Three days for silencing of the mind, then suddenly in the jail ‘Vasudevam sarvam iti’, and then he starts experiencing contact with God, the cosmic consciousness and all kinds of realisations that come to him very naturally. We see something very similar in the case of Aswapati, whose experiences are indeed Sri Aurobindo’s own: we are taken on a journey through his inner world and at some points the possibilities shown are completely mind-blowing: we can’t help asking, ‘Is this really possible?’ And quite naturally another question comes to us, ‘But how can we do it, how can we realise this state?’ Aswapati himself asks the same question: ‘I am experiencing these things, but how can other human beings experience them, how can earth receive these gifts?’ That is what we see him asking when he stands at the doors of the Eternal where he has the vision of the Divine Mother. His yoga has not been undertaken for his personal salvation but for the good of the earth. He also knows that it is not possible for man to engage in the Herculean labour, the tremendous and constant tapasya needed for the full emergence of these possibilities. So he asks for and on behalf of man to grant this boon for earth and humanity.

Boons indeed! For every time the Divine comes, he brings certain gifts. He brings these gifts to earth because earth is his chosen daughter and it is a tradition in India that when fathers visit their children they should bring gifts. So he brings gifts. Sri Aurobindo has brought many gifts – one of them is the revelation of this yoga in Savitri. Aswapati asks the same question: ‘Can humanity in general ascend to this level that I have been given glimpses of? Can humanity as a whole be freed from ignorance and error, falsehood and sin? Can human beings escape completely from this zone of unconsciousness in which they are labouring and struggling?’ Seeking an answer to this question he climbs to the very apex of creation, right up to the topmost level of the manifestation, looking for that key: what can he give to earth and men? He knows that not everyone can engage in this kind of tapasya, otherwise it would have been very simple. We see this in Sri Aurobindo’s words again and again, and when he was asked about the Mother’s coming he has very candidly said that before she came he could help himself but he could not help others. He could realise, he was realising already. But it is very strange and very interesting that he said, ‘I could not help others.’ In the poem Aswapati too sees this great truth: that only if the Divine Mother herself comes down can these possibilities be manifested on earth. Why? Because she can take up the yoga of earth. What is Aswapati experiencing? Our future possibilities. He is a being of the future. In a certain sense he realises some of those possibilities already, but there is a big gap. He is the forerunner but he is running far ahead of the rest of the creation. The rest have to catch up. So he stops. He stops at the threshold of his own ultimate realisation because he wants all the rest to catch up, as we see in these lines from Savitri:

A lonely freedom cannot satisfy
A heart that has grown one with every heart: [649]

He realises that only the Divine Mother can really fulfil this yoga of transformation. Only if she comes down and takes up this yoga will it be possible.

We may wonder ‘Why the Divine Mother? After all, isn’t it the same Divine? Why couldn’t Sri Aurobindo do it? Why does the Divine Mother have to come down?’ There are many ways of looking at it, but I have a very simple way to understand it. It is because only the Divine Mother can completely identify herself with her children, with the creation, with all the chaos and confusion. Only the Eternal Feminine can really take up the burden of the whole yoga. She is the one who has gone out in the very beginning. The same story is being repeated again and again, since creation fell into chaos and there came a cry from all the energies which had deviated, turned away from their purpose by declaring their individual freedom. Nowadays also we have yoga for freedom, but true freedom can only come through union with the Divine; any other freedom is either illusory or an asuric illusion. Trying to be free from the Lord, those beings turned away from him and fell into darkness; then hearing their cry the Divine Mother plunged into the darkness and since then incessantly she has been engaged in this yoga.

What power of hers makes this yoga possible? We are told and we can see it, we can experience it, we can know it, enter into touch with it: it is the power of Love, the divine Love which has entered into matter and is constantly at work there. No other power can labour for aeons like that. It is really a most thankless work if you look at it. Only Love can labour like that to pull creation out of its inertia, its darkness, its unconsciousness and bring it to its present state of ‘seeking ignorance’ [321, 618]. Only Love will take it further to manifest the divine life upon earth.

At first the Divine Mother tells Aswapati that she cannot give him the boon that he really wants – a divine life upon earth for all men – because the earth is not ready and man is not ready. And I fancy how Sri Aurobindo would have told the Divine Mother, ‘You have to make it ready, you have to fulfil his aspiration.’ Even as he did indeed ask her to stay while he was preparing to go behind the veil for the work, ‘You will have to fulfil our yoga of transformation.’ And so She comes, impelled by divine Love. This is the mystery and the secret of her birth, to do the yoga for man, nay to fulfil it, to take it to its grand fulfilment.

We know that when the Mother came to Pondicherry, for a long time she would not meet anybody. She lived just like everyone else. She showed the disciples the way of modesty, how to be before the Master, the way of humility, of seeking. Once Amrita-da asked Sri Aurobindo, ‘Isn’t Mother a great yogi?’ Sri Aurobindo said ‘Yes.’ Then Amrita said ‘But she doesn’t give meditations.’ Sri Aurobindo replied ‘Yes, just now she doesn’t; but one day, impelled by the divine love, she will come out and that will indeed be a great day.’ We see that the Divine Mother steps into the forefront of the quest. Many Avatars have come, every millennium or two there has been a divine Advent, and always the Divine Mother has been quietly coming and remaining in the background. Now for the first time she comes into the forefront and takes up the human play. That is what we see revealed in ‘The Book of Yoga’: the yoga undertaken by the Divine Mother. Although it is shown to us primarily as the yoga which she has followed, it is also the path that she has opened to humanity.


Savitri sets out on the path

If we see the path which Sri Aurobindo took – stilling the brain, silencing the mind, rejecting all thoughts – and some people also read the Record of Yoga and want to practice it, going straight into the yoga of the cells – really speaking, if we ask ourselves honestly, is it simple? But we have another record, the record of the Mother’s yoga, fortunately kept for us in the form of her Prayers and Meditations. When we see that path, we may feel ‘Yes, this is something we can follow: a path full of love, surrender, faith; a path which starts by just being who we are, a path of simple gratitude, of thanksgiving; a path which is like a hymn of adoration climbing to the Divine; a path where every event and circumstance can take us closer to the Divine’. In a certain sense everything eventually takes us towards him because there is no other way. We are all on a journey where we can go slower or faster, but we are all moving towards one and the same destination. This is the great truth of the Vedanta: we may take a twisted journey or we may take a straight route, but we are all going towards that one goal. It cannot be otherwise. In the Mother’s yoga we see a path which is more tangible, one which a human being, if he likes, can take. That is what we see revealed in ‘The Book of Yoga’. It is the path taken by the Divine Mother to fulfil the yoga of the earth, yet it is a path that leaves a trail which we as human beings can follow.

Very interestingly, this book opens with a canto where we see the Divine experiencing human suffering. We may wonder why the Book of Yoga starts like this, with a canto titled ‘The Joy of Union; the Ordeal of the Foreknowledge of Death and the Heart’s Grief and Pain’. Where is the yoga in this? We should remember the Gita, which starts with Arjuna’s vishaad, his state of dejection encountered by the possibility of death of his loved ones. Very appropriately, very beautifully, the Mother’s yoga starts from human suffering too. I love this canto for the simple fact that it reveals to us the Divine becoming human. Here in the first canto of The Book of Yoga we see the Divine Mother becoming completely human. Her heart is torn by grief. She is moved by the passion of love. She wants to be close to somebody whom she loves. We are shown all these movements which are characteristically human, the joy and the grief which she experiences. Her yoga begins from here because that is what we all experience in life: a little joy and a little grief – although we always feel that there is more grief than joy because joy is and should be our natural state, so when suffering comes we spontaneously feel ‘Oh, it should not be!’ Grief, pain and suffering strike us as an anomaly.

What we see in the first canto of ‘The Book of Yoga’ is a description of the Divine Mother becoming human. Often people say that Sri Aurobindo is a human being who has become divine; but what I see and understand is very different: the Divine Mother is born as an Avatar just as Sri Aurobindo is, but there comes a time when she completely veils her divinity and starts the whole process as a human being, because she has to do the yoga for earth and man. Like Sri Aurobindo she too brings the new consciousness with her. But here we have these lines where Savitri is experiencing the grief that human beings undergo:

Thus in the silent chamber of her soul
Cloistering her love to live with secret grief
She dwelt like a dumb priest with hidden gods [472]

Just like us, the priest in us, the psychic being, does not know: it is still asleep. The gods which the great Upanishad says are dwelling hidden within the human body are all asleep. It is a moment of utter darkness which we all experience. That is where yoga begins:

Unappeased by the wordless offering of her days,
Lifting to them her sorrow like frankincense,
Her life the altar, herself the sacrifice. [473]

What marvellous lines! After all, if we have nothing else to offer, there is always something which we can give: if nothing else our state of consciousness is always there with us to give her, offering her our sorrow like frankincense. Only yesterday I was reminded of John Milton’s line where he says, ‘Lord, I come to you with only one talent called death, there is nothing else I can give you.’ And then he hears the reply, assuring him that ‘They also serve who only stand and wait.’ The path of yoga begins from there: when we find ourselves in a state of darkness where ‘nothing we can see but drift and bale’ [59]; and Savitri shows us the way.

Very often we question fate and wonder why life is the way it is. And we should wonder after all! It is not good to be satisfied with things as they are, because in humanity dissatisfaction is one of the forms taken by the urge towards yoga. If we are too satisfied we remain like a clod, a lump of earth. And very often we do just accept life as it is: ‘Things are the way they are; we have no control over it.’ Savitri too goes through this process. But then, even as she sits brooding by the side of her ‘doomed husband’, she hears a command, a voice from her own higher Self. The voice commands her, ‘You have not come on earth to nurse grief and pain. You are here to vanquish time and death.’ What a strong command! We are again reminded of the Gita when Arjuna is stricken with sorrow at the ghastly prospect and he is told ‘Are you here for grief, for depression, for despair? Pick up your bow; fight the great battle of life!’ Savitri too is told that here is a great battle of life: ‘Pick up the bow, be ready, vanquish time and death’, and she is given the programme, a very interesting one.

In our few moments of silent concentration at the beginning of this gathering we were blessed to hear four lines from the poem read by the Mother. Those four lines alone provide a complete programme of yoga. I think that if we can practice even just half of one of those lines it will take us a long way. At least these lines are very important to me personally. So many things come and distract us, take us away from the straight path; at times when we are disoriented and do not know how to navigate through the journey of this life, half a line of Savitri can come and save us. Like that, Savitri hears a Voice from above telling her:

… Remember why thou cam’st: [476]

These words are like a mantra. If we can inscribe them in our hearts – ‘Remember why thou cam’st’ – nothing else is required: just to remember why we have come. Have I come for this? Have I come to enjoy these things? Have I come just to fulfil my ambition? Have I come just for the lure of money and to fulfil my family obligations and this and that? Those things are there in life, but is that why I am here? Have I come only for that?

… Remember why thou cam’st:
Find out thy soul, recover thy hid self, [476]

As the Mother says, the only tragedy in life is to die without realising your soul. But most people, Sri Aurobindo tells us, do not recognise it as a tragedy. They are pretty cool about it. In fact, the rationalists, the new elite who don’t believe in the soul, take great pride in not believing in it. We can leave them at their point, wherever they are. They will still benefit, because the yoga is done for everyone.

Find out thy soul, recover thy hid self,
In silence seek God’s meaning in thy depths, [476]

Many moments of silence are given to us, plenty of them, but how often we pass them in contemplating our own life, its pettiness, its miseries, its sorrows, its sufferings – how to come out of it? Here we are shown such a beautiful way to spend time in silence:

In silence seek God’s meaning in thy depths, [476]

‘What does the Divine want of me?’ The Mother says that this is a question we must raise every day. ‘What does the Divine intend for me and in me?’ What my parents intend for me, what society expects of me, what my religion proscribes or prescribes for me, what everybody expects from me is a different story altogether. ‘What does God want from me? Is there a divine purpose for me?’ To spend time on that is one of the ways that we can get in touch with our soul. And the next thing is:

Then mortal nature change to the divine. [476]

This is the key, the first key. The first key is that whenever we have a free moment, we should engage in discovering this hidden soul and finding God’s meaning in our depths. And in fact there are plenty of such free moments – it is up to us to use them wisely. Look at these lines:

Open God’s door, enter into his trance. [476]

But how to open the door? We try, we analyse, we think, we rationalise – that is not the way. There is another way:

Cast Thought from thee, that nimble ape of Light: [476]

If we think that we can open the door by any kind of analysis, we are mistaken; we cannot, because analysis doesn’t have the key. In fact the more we quieten the analysing mind, the more the door opens. Because the greatest truth, as Savitri will reveal to us, is that He is everywhere. Only we are not looking that way, we are choosing the wrong key. The Mother tells us that the key is given to us, but we have grown up not believing in this key: we believe in everything else instead. We always think that our key is with somebody else; or if it is with us it is in our brain power. But now we are told:

Cast Thought from thee, that nimble ape of Light: [476]

She is not asking us to become irrational creatures. She is simply saying ‘Know the relative value of thought, know its place. Put it in its place, and practice inner quietude.’

In his tremendous hush stilling thy brain
His vast Truth wake within and know and see. [476]

When Sri Aurobindo was asked how to quieten the mind and the brain, he said ‘You can do it in other ways but the simplest way is to call the Silence from above, to call the Mother’s Grace, Her Force, Her Peace. That will do it for us.’ If we try the other way, rejecting thoughts and trying to fight with them, some people who are predisposed by nature may succeed, but for most it will be a very difficult process. And there is something else:

Cast from thee sense that veils thy spirit’s sight: [476]

We are taught from childhood that what we see is real, what we hear is real; we are told to believe in what we see – and now we also have this new thing: to believe in what we hear. Nowadays, Information Technology has caught hold of this falsehood, so all the time we keep hearing everything from WhatsApp to news channels, none of which is the real truth. The senses also have to be quietened. The more we quieten them the more we will engage with yoga.

Cast from thee sense that veils thy spirit’s sight: [476]

God is present everywhere, but we can’t see him, we can’t hear him, because the senses are weaving a dance of vibrations around us. We call it ‘form and name’. It is nothing but a dance of vibrations. Our senses cut up this integral reality into bits and pieces and present it to us in a certain way and we are glued to that and believe it to be Reality. The thing to do is to disengage from it. If we do so, we are promised that:

Thou shalt see the Eternal’s body in the world,
Know him in every voice heard by thy soul, [476]

How beautiful this is! If only, as I said, we could practice one line:

‘Know him in every voice: it is there in the babble of a child if we can hear it, Sri Aurobindo says.

We have this strange conditioning of the mind. In one of his aphorisms Sri Aurobindo says, ‘I went to a place full of holy men and I got bored there. Then God took me to a prison and he made it his trysting ground.’ [When I was asleep in the Ignorance, I came to a place of meditation full of holy men and I found their company wearisome and the place a prison; when I awoke, God took me to a prison and turned it into a place of meditation and His trysting-ground. (Thoughts and Aphorisms, no. 47, in CWSA 12: 428)]. If we are open and receptive, the Divine will speak to us in countless ways including, very often, through those who criticise us. Unfortunately, we think that our critics are our greatest enemies, but actually they do a very good job. In fact, they do a double job: one, they chip our ego; and second, they increase their own and take our burden onto themselves. Guru Nanak, the great mystic, once said that one who criticises us is always a great friend of ours. Why? Because he cleanses us of our sins and himself goes into the hell where we would have gone. God can speak to us in many ways. When we look at a flower, when we look at a river, we can decipher that language. There is a message there – in a tree, in people, in everything. We can discover it if we are quiet within, if we are not full of preconceived ideas and notions and conditioning.

Often when people ask, ‘How to hear God’s voice?’ they are expecting a thunder inside: ‘God has given me this command!’ But even when he gives us a command he is so sweet. When I hear the Mother’s voice I feel there is a difference between reading her words and hearing them, because when we read we add something of our own. For instance today I was reading Sri Aurobindo’s words: ‘Do not imagine that Truth and Falsehood can live together.’ Reading those words we may imagine a stern judge thundering out this warning to us. But that is not how Sri Aurobindo would speak those words. He would say them with all the beauty and charm and sweetness of the Divine, gently awakening us, reminding us of something which we have perhaps forgotten, as we might tell our beloved child, ‘Child, you have forgotten something, you know what? Do not think that these two can go together’ – which is very different from when we hear it with that thunder added from our side. How beautiful was Sri Aurobindo’s voice! Those who have heard his voice are the most fortunate of the fortunate. It was so soft, so gentlemanly, almost like the sound of a sweet gurgling stream flowing by.

God’s voice can speak to us through anyone. There is a story about the famous yogi Dattatreya. Somebody asked him, ‘How many masters have you had?’ He replied ‘I have had twenty-four Masters.’ ‘Twenty-four Masters? Who were they all?’ He gave the names of many people including a harlot. He said ‘The Master spoke to me through her. She taught me something.’ One who is vigilant – this is one sense of the word vigilant – can hear in many ways the divine voice which whispers inside.

In the world’s contacts meet his single touch;
All things shall fold thee into his embrace. [476]

Today we experienced a wonderful embrace as we entered Savitri Bhavan, such a lovely welcome of grace. We could have said, ‘Oh my God it’s raining!’ But the other response is, ‘Wow! What a welcome shower!’ It is a divine embrace, the divine touch. Everything can fold us into his embrace.

Conquer thy heart’s throbs, let thy heart beat in God:
Thy nature shall be the engine of his works,
Thy voice shall house the mightiness of his Word:
Then shalt thou harbour my force and conquer Death. [476]

This is the program given to Savitri. This is the program given to all of us.

Then Savitri embarks on her wonderful journey. We are also told that she undertakes this journey for man, for the whole of humanity. She asks, ‘Why should I make this effort?’ and she is told ‘For man thou seekest … Man, human, follows in God’s human steps’ [488].

Therefore she undertakes the journey. But what I find exceptionally beautiful is the state in which she undertakes the journey.

What should be the state of a seeker? We have been told that we should sit in a particular way: some people say cross-legged, others prescribe sitting in an easy chair; or they say ‘Take a light cushion, and the back should be bolt upright, maybe ninety degrees. God is happier to see you sitting upright!’ Or ‘Probably he likes us to be little more relaxed; he doesn’t like us to be so tense.’ But what is the real inner state of a true seeker? Savitri responds to the command that she has been given. What is her state? It is described in just a few lines:

Obedient to a high command she sat:
Time, life and death were passing incidents
Obstructing with their transient view her sight,
Her sight that must break through and liberate the god
Imprisoned in the visionless mortal man. [487]

Marvellous lines! Powerful lines! Time and all the play of time and all the news and all the information, life and death, all are nothing but ‘passing incidents’. If we can take that attitude, what does it matter? Some people ask ‘Oh, how many years must one practice yoga? Maybe many lives, maybe a thousand years, maybe ten thousand years!’ But what does it matter? If this is the thing to be done, then this is the thing to be done. If it takes ten thousand years then we shall have ten thousand years of service to the Lord, ten thousand years of the joy of the journey.

At one Auroville International meeting in South Africa when somebody said, ‘Oh, Auroville is a very difficult place: this difficulty! that problem!’ I was very happy to hear someone from Auroville remark very beautifully ‘Well, it is difficult and that’s why it’s worth living in.’ I loved that statement. What is the use of doing easy things? Why should we want to do only things which are easy and simple? Man’s manhood lies in engaging with things which are challenging. That is what we are meant for. We are programmed for that. We cannot live without self-transcendence. That is why whatever we may have, we want more – because ultimately we are on a journey towards self-transcendence. We cannot be satisfied with anything less than the divinisation of matter. So let us embark on that journey. What does it matter – life, death, another life? In one of his poems, Sri Aurobindo says: ‘I have a thirst and the thirst means that there is water somewhere. But old nature sits phantom on the way. The past returns. So many obstacles are in the way. But have I not a hundred lives before me? I shall not faint, O God.’ He says ‘I’ll continue’.

I will not faint, O God. There is this thirst,
And thirst supposes water somewhere. Yes,
But in this life we may not ever find;
Old nature sits a phantom by the way,
Old passions may forbid, old doubts return.
Then are there other lives here or beyond
To satisfy us. I will persist, O Lord.
[CWSA 2: 512, ‘Meditations of Mandavya’]

This is the spirit; this is the attitude with which Savitri starts her search.


Dangers of the path

But the journey is not easy. It is a real adventure undertaken in real time. Plenty of obstacles lie in wait to block the way. The first obstacle comes from material nature. It has an iron grip. Very often people say ‘I can’t meditate.’ You ask them, ‘Why? What happens when you meditate?’ ‘Well, I tried; but I couldn’t, so I stopped.’ ‘How long did you try?’ ‘Two months.’ Material nature! – It has an iron grip. Sri Aurobindo says that at least twelve years are needed – after that perhaps one can think about genuine experiences. Two months, three months, one year, two years – it is nothing when we look at the landscape of eternity. Let us sit and sit and sit and sit and sit and push against the closed door.

Mother says that we need to push against the bronze door. That is what Savitri does. Material nature says: ‘Back, creature of earth. That is what Savitri hears – all the powers, the elemental energies, saying ‘Go back, go back!’ But she persists by the force of her will. ‘I will, I will, I will. The more you obstruct the more I will.’ Then one day the door opens and she enters into an inner world. There too she has to face another kind of struggle, another kind of force, another kind of energy. It is a long journey. Another serious difficulty comes. She lands up, as all of us do when we try to enter into the inner worlds, in a zone which Sri Aurobindo cautions us against: the intermediate zone. That world asks you ‘What do you want? Yoga? I will create it for you.’ It can create every experience possible including calm, including ananda. Of course, these are imitative experiences, not the real ones. The problem is that we don’t know how to recognise the real stuff. It is like going into a shop wanting to buy some gold jewellery or a diamond without knowing what a real diamond looks like: the person comes and tells us, ‘This is a diamond. Please take it’, and we are very happy. But if somebody who is a bit intelligent and has some common sense comes, he may ask ‘But your neighbour is selling it for twenty thousand. How come you are giving it to me for one thousand rupees?’ And the reply comes ‘That is the speciality of our shop!’ Be very careful. Now-a-days there are fake diamonds around. Just two days back I was reading someone claiming that ‘Sri Aurobindo has gone away. I am now carrying on the legacy of Sri Aurobindo’s yoga. Come here and I’ll make you into a superman! Through me your yoga chakras will open and you will be able to fly in the air and get supernatural powers.’

To start with, yoga is not meant for this. Savitri is not undertaking yoga to become a superman or a supramental being. She is undertaking the yoga for earth and men. Sri Aurobindo makes it very clear: as long as there is any personal desire, even the desire for personal Mukti or salvation let alone ambition for occult powers, we cannot touch the Absolute. We have to get rid of all desires including the desire for salvation or Mukti, including the desire for personal transformation, which again is an egoistic impulse masquerading as the will for yoga. Yoga can be either to serve the Divine, to love the Divine which is the simpler way, or to live in the Divine, live by the Divine, for the Divine; and the Divine is doing it for the sake of earth. The need of transformation is only so that in our entire being we become what the Divine wants us to become. It is not a stamp of any personal greatness but a deep spiritual necessity of creation, to become what it inwardly is.

When Savitri enters the inner worlds, a powerful life-force comes and offers her a lot of impressive experiences. That description comes on page 493. Then Sri Aurobindo warns us about this zone where the power of life meets Savitri offering its gifts:

Its puissance dangerous and absolute
Could mingle poison with the wine of God.
On these high shining backs falsehood could ride;
Truth lay with delight in error’s passionate arms
Gliding downstream in a blithe gilded barge:
Here in Life’s nether realms all contraries meet;
Truth stares and does her works with bandaged eyes
And Ignorance is Wisdom’s patron here: [494]

Caution, caution!  Be cautious about over-enthusiasm: ‘I want yoga in one year, two years.’ Mother would say, ‘My child, be patient!’ This is the secret. A great edifice has to be built up, an edifice of calm, peace, equanimity, a strong and stable floor of devotion, humility and surrender. The new creation doesn’t hang in a vacuum.

Those galloping hooves in their enthusiast speed
Could bear to a dangerous intermediate zone
Where Death walks wearing a robe of deathless Life. [494]

This is another of the great dangers.

Then comes the third one, and that comes from the mind. The mind is the big difficulty of those who read a lot, and especially those who not only read, but give talks. It’s a big danger, in the sense that one can easily confuse mental understanding with the real thing: ‘Yes, I have read it. I have understood everything. Therefore I have already arrived.’ There is a big difference. To arrive takes a very long time. Reading may give us a kind of road map and that is good, but it is not indispensable, and by itself it does not take us to the goal. Only two things are indispensable for yoga as far as knowledge is concerned: that there is a soul within and a Grace above.

Often people ask ‘How to engage with this yoga? Sri Aurobindo is so difficult.’ Who is asking us to read Sri Aurobindo and engage with yoga? He does not tell us that we must read his books in order to do yoga. He simply says ‘Open to the Mother.’ That is the real issue: we may not be able to do that even though it sounds the simplest of things. The mind will step in with its doubts and surround us with all kinds of questioning ignorance mistaken for knowledge.

Mind brings another kind of false certitude. There is a lot of humour in Savitri. Here Sri Aurobindo with his characteristic sense of humour points out how the mind can pick up or make up a belief system and how we can get trapped in them, in dogmas gleaned from writings here and there, and then we believe we are engaged in yoga. We have these lines:

Even meditation mused on a narrow seat; [497]

Very often we would like someone to tell us the way of meditation in Integral Yoga. The absurdity is that there are indeed people teaching the way of meditation in Integral Yoga. But by its very nature Integral Yoga is integral. Sri Aurobindo warns us against meditating on a narrow seat and taking this or that limited aspect of God as the whole.

Even meditation mused on a narrow seat;
And worship turned to an exclusive God,
To the Universal in a chapel prayed
Whose doors were shut against the universe;
Or kneeled to the bodiless Impersonal
A mind shut to the cry and fire of love:
A rational religion dried the heart. [497]

We are not supposed to become irrational. Yoga is done by keeping the rational mind intact. The rational mind has a place in dealing with infrarational urges, in dealing with our vital impulses – there it has tremendous power. But if we start using it to deal with the Divine and what is beyond, then it is like a tiny hammer striking against a mountain and believing that by doing so it can pierce a hole through it. In this section Sri Aurobindo shows us different kinds of beings of the mental world who come and call Savitri, but she refuses all of them.

Then again comes one of the mahavakyas, the great phrases that Savitri offers us in abundance. Savitri sees some gods emerging from her inmost being. And then Sri Aurobindo points out something which we need to remember always:

In contrary sense she faced life’s riddling truth:
They carrying the light to suffering men
Hurried with eager feet to the outer world;
Her eyes were turned towards the eternal source. [501]

If we have not understood this passage, we may tend to rush eagerly to help everyone. Helping humanity: it is one of the greatest sattvic illusions. Who can help? You think that you can teach yoga? Who can teach? We have to live in the consciousness of Oneness where there is nothing but the Divine. But that road is long. Mother tells us that first we have to go from a state of scattered wideness which is pulled in every direction by all kinds of forces of ignorance, through a narrow passage, touch the very core and then spread into the universal consciousness. Otherwise it’s not possible. Savitri keeps her eyes turned towards her eternal source.

Then Savitri following the great winding road
Came where it dwindled into a narrow path
Trod only by rare wounded pilgrim feet. [501-02]

This is the image of going through the pilgrim cave of Amarnath, you know. At the end, even in our Ashram, ultimately you are alone. You have to leave behind the chappals and everything else: all our identities. We are alone. We may have gone there together holding hands, but in front of the Divine we are alone. And that is why when we go to Mother’s room we feel that it’s such a narrow passage. I feel it is a very symbolic thing, this very narrow passage. Though you may have come with the world, now leave it behind. You are face to face with the Divine Mother, on a road ‘Trod only by rare wounded pilgrim feet’. None reaches the goal who has not passed through this fire with feet on burning stones. ‘None can reach heaven who has not passed through hell’ [227]. This is a path that is ‘Trod only by rare wounded pilgrim feet.’ There at last:

One felt the silent nearness of the soul. [502]


The finding of the soul

Now Savitri meets the three Madonnas, Powers which have emerged from her soul. They are the threefold Soul-powers. I am not going into the different ways of explaining them as sattva, rajas, tamas, the Prakriti or the godhead behind them or their relations to Maheshwari, Mahakali, Mahalakshmi, Mahasaraswati. A simpler way is to look at them as the feminine counterparts of the three Purushas – the mental, vital and physical Purusha or beings put forth by the soul as godheads for the corresponding planes. In Savitri, who is the incarnate Divine Mother, these three Powers are found in their divine fullness. However, let us keep our busy minds aside and just know that the inner truth presents itself to us as Wisdom, as Force and Might, or as Love, the Power that endures this whole journey of life. This makes it simple. The Divine is both name and nameless. I love these words – Madonna of Light, Madonna of Might, Mother of grief Divine – They are so wonderful. We don’t have to bring in any other names because these names are complete in themselves. If Sri Aurobindo has given these names there is a reason behind it: perhaps it is simply that he wanted to go beyond traditions and bring in a new dimension. Let’s live with that new dimension – these three Madonnas.

We may stop short with one or the other aspect of the Divine. We may be satisfied with wisdom and knowledge entering into our minds and informing our higher chambers; or we may stop short simply with love in the heart and bhakti and self-giving. Or we may be satisfied with the power which simply trusts the Divine and helps people endure life or battles against all that stands in the way of the divine consummation. One may stop with identification with any one of these Soul-powers and become a vibhuti. But we know that this is an Integral Yoga; all of them must come together and something still greater must be found. Each of these Madonnas awakens something within us: the power of knowledge, the power of the might and strength of God, hope – all these awaken in us as we take the turn towards yoga. They are godheads and they begin to emerge. They are helpful Powers in our journey and yet we have to strive to go beyond, for the Supreme Godhead is our goal. We have to remember what Savitri tells the Madonna of Light:

Even if thou rain down intuition’s rays,
The Mind of man will think it earth’s own gleam,
His spirit by spiritual ego sink,
Or his soul dream shut in sainthood’s brilliant cell
Where only a bright shadow of God can come. [520-21]

We are not here to become saints and yogis and all the old stuff, but for something entirely new. When someone wrote a poem on Sri Aurobindo – ‘Hail the last rishi Sri Aurobindo!’ Dilip Kumar Roy sent it to Sri Aurobindo saying, ‘I don’t know whether to rejoice or feel sad about it. I rejoice because he has called you a great rishi but I feel sad because he says you are the last one.’ And Sri Aurobindo with his sense of humour replied, ‘Well he’s right. Maybe he has caught a glimpse that after this there will be superman. We don’t need rishis after that.’ This yoga is not about becoming a saint or a sage or a rishi or any of these terms: they all belong to the old world. There is something new to aim for. Not ‘sainthood’s brilliant cell’ [521]! That narrow place receives reflected light and believes it to be its own. And how many have gone down the path of spiritual ego or ended up forming yet another cult!

Let us leave all that behind and follow Savitri as she passes further towards the soul’s mystic cave, and Sri Aurobindo describes the wonderful state as one draws near the soul. It is ‘a night of God’ [522]. Everything that we believe we know, including the pride of knowledge, everything is taken away. We are new-born at each moment. Look at the Divine Mother who has so many experiences: when she comes before Sri Aurobindo what is her prayer? She says, ‘I am like a new born child’. This is the state which the soul spontaneously brings into us: a profound humility. However much we may know, still we will remain as if we know nothing, because all knowledge belongs to the Divine and there is so much more that, as the mystic poet Kabir says, ‘If we were to make ink out of the seven oceans and if we were to cut all the trees and turn them all into pens, and were to use the entire surface of the earth as paper, still we would not be able to put into writing the glory of these two words – Hari gun likha na jai! Hari – the Divine. Such is the greatness of the Infinite. How much can one book or many books or any amount of wisdom capture of Him? Nothing! The soul-touch brings one into that state before the Divine.

I think that may be the reason why many temples have low ceilings and people find it very uncomfortable: it is a lesson in humility. There is a tale about someone who complained to the Mother saying ‘The ceiling is very low’ – he wanted to get it changed. But she said ‘Very good, it will teach him humility. Every time he passes through, it will teach humility.’

Sri Aurobindo with his characteristic humour says that although the Divine is everywhere he has hidden himself deep within. Why? To avoid ‘the profaning touch of thought’. He knows that human beings will go to temples, to churches and mosques. They will listen to hundreds of speakers but they will not look within. So that is where he has hidden the soul.

Nevertheless, Savitri finds her soul and then we have the wonderful description of the psychic being and the central being. She discovers her psychic being and then fuses with her central being, the jivatman which stands above. Here towards the end we are told again that this is the first victory to be won because this is the first touch of immortality. To discover the soul is to discover our immortal being; without it we cannot really think about conquering death. This is the first thing to be done and this is what Savitri discovers. As the soul steps forward, all the centres spontaneously open towards the light and the might and the right of the Divine and they blossom. We have a long description of that wonderful experience, but we will not dwell on that just now. Then we find these lines:

In the slow process of the evolving spirit,
In the brief stade between a death and birth
A first perfection’s stage is reached at last; [531]

This is the first perfection – the psychic transformation – where all is governed by the soul. This itself is a great thing in the yoga but it can come in the simplest of ways by turning to the Divine Mother.

Out of the wood and stone of our nature’s stuff
A temple is shaped where the high gods could live. [531]

Now we can understand why those gods were sleeping: because there was no proper place for them. But now the lamp has been lit and we have prepared a nice place for them. The temple has been cleaned, so now the gods awake and occupy their respective places. They say, ‘Yes, now the temple has been lit.’

Even if the struggling world is left outside
One man’s perfection still can save the world. [531]

Thus has come about the first marriage between heaven and earth – the first perfection and an indispensable stage in yoga. Sri Aurobindo devotes almost five cantos to it and the remaining two cantos are almost like a summing up, because once the soul steps forward the rest becomes relatively easy and there is a rapid efflorescence.


The way to Nirvana and the Absolute

However, the emergence of the soul is not the final perfection. For the final perfection the ego must be slain. As long as the ego remains it becomes our instrumental personality and we still somewhere outwardly identify with it; or if we are not identified with it we know it is there and the soul acts through it. The ego must disappear. That is the next command which Savitri receives. But first she hears the Voice of Night which proclaims that a supramental transformation and change of earth is not possible. It insists ‘Man is a creature of mud and I am its ruler. You can go off into high heavens in the transcendent sphere but don’t think about transformation.’ But then Savitri hears the Voice of Light which chases away the darkness and says, ‘It is possible’, and shows her the way forward. This way is shown on page 538.

When Nature who is now unconscious God [538]

So beautiful! Nature is divine but it is still unconscious. When it grows fully conscious and transparent before the Divine it will spontaneously transmute itself.

When Nature who is now unconscious God
Translucent grows to the Eternal’s light,
Her seeing his sight, her walk his steps of power
And life is filled with a spiritual joy
And Matter is the spirit’s willing bride. [538]

This is what it is meant to be. When Huta showed Mother a card depicting Shiva and Shakti together, Mother said, ‘It is a symbol of the Spirit identifying with material nature.’ That is the symbol. It has been foreseen and we see this same symbol in the whole story of Shiva and Sati. Sati – material nature – must purify herself before she is ready to meet Shiva. She must burn in fire and completely annul herself; then she is reborn as Parvati: the purified earth-nature which is born on the high peaks of Himalayas. Then she can unite permanently with Shiva. It is the same for us: we have to burn this earth-nature in purifying fire, and this fire is very exacting; it leaves nothing, nothing, nothing untouched by the purifying Flame:

Consent to be nothing and none, dissolve Time’s work, [538]

This reminds me of a story when Sri Aurobindo came to Pondicherry, leaving the scene of Indian politics. People were asking him, ‘Why aren’t you coming back? What are you doing there?’ Sri Aurobindo would hardly reply. Then some people who were active in politics in those days came here to meet him and asked, ‘Sir, what are you doing here in Pondicherry?’ Sri Aurobindo kept quiet for a while and then said, ‘Well, nothing.’ (Laughter)

We are just waiting for someone to ask us so that we can tell them: ‘Don’t you know we are engaged in a special yoga. Do you know about it? I’ll tell you about it. You know, it is a very difficult yoga. I am among the elite, called and specially chosen by the Divine.’ But what do we know really? It is His play and He is delighting in this play.

Consent to be nothing and none, dissolve Time’s work.
Cast off thy mind, step back from form and name.
Annul thyself that only God may be. [538]

This is the great command. Annul yourself completely. ‘Annul thyself that only God may be.’ What a vastness! What a liberating truth! What a profound engagement! And it can only come when nothing else remains in our thoughts and feelings except the Divine. Nothing of ourselves. What is our past? What is happening in the present? What will happen to us in the future? What have we been and what we shall be? Everything we abandon completely at Her Feet. As the Mother puts it: ‘As Thou willest! As Thou willest! Whether Thou givest to me joy or suffering! Whether Thou givest to me pleasure or pain! Everything comes from you, returns to you.’

Savitri goes through that and then she is projected, drawn into, the Absolute; for when there is nothing, when all Time’s work is undone, then we experience that great longed-for Nirvana. In Sri Aurobindo’s Yoga we don’t seek it but it comes. And what kind of a Nirvana? Because there is a mental nirvana, a vital nirvana, a physical nirvana; they are just first touches. Savitri experiences the Nirvana where one enters into the very Absolute, where all creation appears as nothing but a transient storm passing before our eyes.

In one of her prayers the Mother says that earthly realisations take too important a place and that at some point we have to get rid of all this: ‘Oh, what may happen? A Third World War? What will happen to humanity then?’ We identify with humanity, therefore we egoistically want to know. Who knows? The Divine may say, ‘I have plan B’. What is plan B? If humanity goes away – Dolphins! Round the corner! All problems of food, all problems of buildings and pollution – everything will be solved in one stroke. Global warming, this, that…. You know we had a talk yesterday about global warming: in 15 or 20 years the whole earth, everything, will be drowned in water. Will evolution stop? No. Will transformation stop? No. Sri Aurobindo said ‘The present civilisation must surely change, but whether by a destruction or a new construction on the basis of a greater truth, is the issue. The Mother has left the question hanging and I can only do the same’ [CWSA 35: 221]. He says, ‘It is not this which has to be saved; it is the world that has to be saved, and that will surely be done’. [CWSA 35: 221]. We should not worry. As Teilhard de Chardin has put it, ‘We are not human beings having a spiritual experience but spiritual beings having a human experience.’ Once we know that, it doesn’t matter. We’ll colonise somewhere or the other – wherever He wants, wherever the Divine sends us; if in the heart of a dolphin, why not? We should not worry about it.

Savitri enters that state of the Absolute where there is nothing. Then she waits for the command. It is the same state which Aswapati reached by his tapasya when he came to the door of the Unknowable, where he could either merge and completely abolish himself – rare yogis are known to do that, to throw themselves into the Unknowable – or bring out from the frontier of the form and the formless a new Force, a new Power to manifest upon earth. Now, as we all know, it is history. What was hidden in the Unknowable? The supramental consciousness and the supramental truth.

And what does that state do? It makes her being vast. We become vast when the ego is gone. This is one of the things we experience – vastness! Vastness is not the wideness of the waste paper basket where everything from the most beautiful poem to the most mundane things are jumbled together. Vastness is the vastness of Space where countless stars hang, each in its right place. That is how the Vedic rishis put it: satyam ritam brihatam. Vastness alone is not true enough. There must be a truth which arranges things hierarchically to live by the law of truth.

Repeatedly Mother tells us that when mental rules, mental measures, social norms fall away, what helps us to walk the path? Normally human beings are governed by their desires, or by duty, principle, social and religious norms. When those are gone what can guide us? The law of Truth. That is what Yajnavalkya is aspiring for: Hiranmayena patrena satyasyapihitam mukham [Isha Upanishad v.15: ‘The face of Truth is covered with a brilliant golden lid; that do thou remove, O Fosterer, for the law of the Truth, for sight.’ [CWSA 17: 9]. The Law of Truth begins to manifest. And in that vastness we have this beautiful experience.

And one small thing: after that experience and realisation, we shall find that every experience is uplifted as it were by the divine touch. Sri Aurobindo once again brings out the human side of Savitri: either she is sitting with Satyavan or she is engaged in her everyday activities: the broom, the jar, the well. None of these experiences should dislocate us. Yogis of a certain kind withdraw from world. But the age is coming when yogis would be like Janaka, as Sri Aurobindo puts it, like Ajatashatru, engaged in every activity of life. That is what we have in Auroville, in the Ashram.

This is a great lesson. Being a yogi doesn’t mean wearing a particular dress or following a certain practice and henceforth calling oneself Swami so-and-so-ananda. Thank God Sri Aurobindo doesn’t do that. We have come from Ananda and belong to Ananda; we don’t need to put it after our names; it is our name and our surname, we don’t need to qualify it further. As to ‘Swami’, that’s a debatable thing. It implies self-mastery. And that implies having a cosmic spirit – for there is not just one kind of self-mastery. As we grow as a representative of the race and enlarge into cosmic consciousness the greater the difficulties and new challenges we have to face and every time they have to be mastered by the same process. Savitri experiences this profound truth on the last two pages of Book Seven.

We have come to the end of The Book of Yoga – the greatest formula of God. We have its echo, some glimpse of it, in the Ishopanishad, where it says Yastu sarvani bhutani atmanya-vanupasyati: the one self which has become all things’. We have this great formula. But after all this process, Savitri’s experience is described:

Mind was a single innumerable look
Upon himself and all that he became.
Life was his drama and the Vast a stage,
The universe was his body, God its soul. [556]

Every day we see God. Every day He changes his dress. Every three months he changes his dress completely. Sometimes his dress is green, sometimes it’s brown, sometimes it’s white. If we go to Siberia or the mountains he wears a white dress because he likes that. When it’s a barren desert he wears a golden-brown dress. It’s God’s dress. Sometimes at night he wears a dark dress which is full of stars shining like his mala. The universe is his body.

All was one single immense reality,
All its innumerable phenomenon.
Her spirit saw the world as living God; [556]

Not just a divine Presence hidden within, nityo nityanam chetanas chetananam, but something dynamic, active, living, that is forever bringing out new things, changing, taking things into itself. It is living God: not just a Presence which is inert and inactive like Shiva lying under Kali’s feet, but a living and dynamic God.

It saw the One and knew that all was He. [565]

This ‘all’ is literally all and everything: from tree and flower and plant, Savitri discovers everything to be nothing else but the one Being, the one Infinite, and she herself is identified with all that. We have these lovely lines:

She was a subconscient life of tree and flower,
The outbreak of the honied buds of spring;
She burned in the passion and splendour of the rose,
She was the red heart of the passion-flower,
The dream-white of the lotus in its pool. [557]

If people ask us ‘Where is God?’, after reading these lines we can say that he is everywhere. Only our eyes are not attuned to see him everywhere because they are imprisoned by the ego and the mind and the senses.

Out of subconscient life she climbed to mind, [557]

From identification with ‘tree and flower’ we go further and further.

She was thought and the passion of the world’s heart,
She was the godhead hid in the heart of man,
She was the climbing of his soul to God. [557]

It is She who carries on the journey. More than our journey it is the journey of the Eternal within us, it is the journey of the Divine Mother within us. That’s why there is hope. It means that those who despair and say ‘Oh, I am no good!’ are relying on their own ego. I may be no good by my own egoistic standards or by the standards that others set for me, but if the Divine has called me, surely he knows whom he has called. He knows what nutcases we are. He knows all the twists and turns of our nature, and he knows what he is going to do with this material because it is nothing but the Divine himself. He knows himself and that is why there is hope for us.

She was the godhead hid in the heart of man,
She was the climbing of his soul to God.
The cosmos flowered in her, she was its bed.
She was Time and the dreams of God in Time; [557]

This is why she knows all the pralayas which have taken place. She is Mahakali who changes Time. But who is this ‘godhead hid in the heart of man’? Gauri, the Mother, the Divine Mother, waiting for her moment to come. And when Kali, Time, has cleared the way, then she will step out for the new creation.

She was Time and the dreams of God in Time;
She was Space and the wideness of his days. [557]

But who is She? Who can ever know?

From this she rose where Time and Space were not; [557]

Here we see the Divine Mother in her triple identity, as the individual, the universal and the transcendent – and if we may say so, something beyond all the three.

From this she rose where Time and Space were not;
The superconscient was her native air,
Infinity was her movement’s natural space;
Eternity looked out from her on Time. [557]

And yet – this is the marvel of marvels – this Eternity, this Infinity has chosen to wear a human form, a limited face. All that we can do from our side is to have gratitude in our hearts towards that.

Very often people ask ‘What has Sri Aurobindo done?’ It’s a weird question but you have to tackle all kinds of questions. My take on it is that Sri Aurobindo has given many gifts to the world, right from his revolutionary days: gifts to India; gifts in the form of great idea-currents released into the world; the thoughts and knowledge that came through the Arya; the gift of Integral Yoga which is a path in its own right; the gift of a space – the Ashram – where we can all engage in yoga; the gift of Auroville where people from all over the world can come; and here is another marvellous gift – some 300 people can sit in this hall and share something on Mother and Sri Aurobindo. And above all the gift of Savitri: I believe that if Sri Aurobindo had given nothing else and done nothing more, Savitri alone would have been more than enough. What he has given us is far, far more than we can assimilate. Savitri alone is sufficient unto itself. Just reading Savitri can take us to the highest realisations of the yoga of transformation. How can it do that? Some people say, ‘Ah! This is a holy sentiment!’ But no, it is a very ancient knowledge. The tantric yogis would invoke a deity through yantra, mantra and puja, but particularly mantra. By the mantra, the sound-body, they would bring the deity near. Sri Aurobindo knows that the Divine Mother cannot come just like that, She is beyond all this. But he too created a mantra and wherever this mantra is chanted or read, in whatever way – it doesn’t matter – she comes there because this mantra is nothing else but her body, her sound-body, her word-body. That’s what Savitri is – a living, eternal Presence in the human heart.