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At the Feet of The Mother

Correspondence 1931, August

August 3, 1931

There can be no objection to your going to your sister’s place for meals; the point in the notice was aimed at quite another target. If you observe its language you will see that its intention was not palatal, or anti-palatal, but hygienic. It was meant to discourage the habit (of some) of buying from a nasty shop unhealthy food and worm-ridden betel-nuts — these very people afterwards being those who complain frequently of stomach disorders. Or if they choose to defy both Yoga and common sense, they must be prepared to take their karmaphala [fruits of works].

There is no objection, either, to your butter and cheese — provided the butter is not bad or old or rancid as bazaar-bought butter so often is! If you require it for yourself alone, then instead of buying it, you could have some from the butter the Mother receives from the Bombay Dairy.

You can bring your sister and brother-in-law[1] for the flower-distribution tomorrow as you propose, if they want to come.

*   *   *

August 7, 1931

It is not your sister and brother-in-law who are responsible but the wave of old life consciousness which came in their wake that has thrown up old associations and stirred these reactions from their subconscient quiescence.

I do not at all accept Tagore’s dictum — neither the Mother nor myself would have accepted you here if you had not capacity for Yoga as great as for art — and greater. And the experiences you have had — however intermittent — would not have come at all in an unfit ādhār [vehicle, vessel].

The facts or arguments you put forward to support your diffidence or depression cannot stand in the light of the Yoga experience of others — if they were enough to justify discouragement, how many would have had to turn back from the way who are now far on towards the goal? I cannot now deal into them in detail, but they do not any of them, justify your inference.

Also, your psychic being does not deserve the censure you have bestowed upon it. What prevents it from coming out in its full power is the crust of past habits formations, active vibrations of the mind-stuff and vital-stuff which come from a mind and life which have been more creative and outgoing and expansive than indrawn and introspective. In many who are like this — active men, intellectuals — the first stage of Yoga is long and difficult with slow development and sparse experiences, most of the work being done in the subliminal behind the veil — until things are ready.

When the time comes for the definite opening and removal of the purdah between the inner and the outer being, I think I can promise you that you will find your power of Yoga and yogic experience at least as unexpectedly complete as you, and others, have found your power for poetry — though necessarily its working out will take time because it is not a detail but the whole life and the whole nature in which there must be the divine victory.

*   *   *

August 10, 1931

Your experience marks a very important step forward in your Yoga, it is necessary for me to give you a full and clear idea of what it implies — which I shall do. For the moment I will only say that it is a very decisive step towards the movement of which I spoke — the throwing down of the purdah between the inner and the outer being, which is the first crucial change in Yoga.

*   *   *

August 11, 1931

I have started the letter, but I doubt if I shall be able to finish it tonight; therefore it will be better to answer at once the points submitted by you.

You can send the flower to the Pali professor, but it is too early in the day to speak of Yoga and acceptance. It is necessary to know more of him first — and at first hand — Yoga is too serious a thing to be lightly taken up, or given. If he has a call and is sincere in following after it, his time will come.

As for your niece, Uma, — if we take the photograph and its evidence at their “face value”, one observes that the upper part of the physiognomy is good, especially the eyes, the lower from the Yogic point of view is faulty. That would indicate a possibility of spiritual aspiration and psychic opening, but also great vital obstacles and difficulties. But it is not safe to generalise from a photograph for even if externally accurate, it may express only one part of the nature, — and this one, you say, is not reliable. The best thing would be for her to write to you the letter she proposed to write — “at length about her inner life and spiritual seeking.” That might give better grounds forjudging whether she can or cannot undertake this kind of Yoga.

Yes, certainly, I liked your poem immensely. It is very well sustained throughout and there is no pedantry, no intellectual heaviness anywhere in it; with such a constant succession of beautiful images and perfectly expressive turns of language — still more with so unfailing a flow and depth and power of emotion, that defect could not creep in for a moment.

P.S. My answer about your experience may take me a little time to write, because I want to explain to you not only the experience itself, but what lies behind it. Otherwise you will be quite at sea, as your letter shows, in the new world you are exploring.

*   *   *

August 16, 1931

The Mother will see Bhavashankar tomorrow. The idea of the refrigerator is, she says, an excellent one; she has long wanted it, but a big “frigidaire”, as that alone would serve the purpose.

Never mind the lower vital, it is not so dreadful as you think, if one can take hold of it by both ends and keep it in its place. It is the same as with the other instruments, body, mind, higher vital, even the overmind powers, — they are good as instruments, but bad as masters.

I am accustomed to Biren’s[2] handwriting, and can read it with little difficulty. But I am surprised at Tagore’s remark[3] about the two years; he must have greatly misunderstood or misheard me. I did tell him that I would expand only after making a perfect (inner) foundation here, but I gave no date. I did give that date of two years long before in my letter to Barin,[4] but I had then a less ample view of the work to be done than I have now — and I am now more cautious about assigning dates than I was once. To fix a precise time is impossible except in the two regions of certitude — the pure material which is the field of mathematical certitudes and the supramental which is the field of divine certitudes. In the planes in between where life has its word to say and things have to evolve under shock and stress, Time and Energy are too much in a flux and apt to kick against the rigour of a prefixed date or programme.

*   *   *

August 19, 1931

Apart from the considerations you urge in your letter, the acceptance of your grand-uncle was a foregone conclusion; the considerations only make it, so to speak, more foregone.

The letter I was to write to you has by no means sunk into oblivion or any other limbo. But it was physically and psychologically impossible to complete it before the 15th, and things have not been much better since. Meanwhile I am glad to see from your reception of your “dream” that you are beginning to realise not only the reality but the importance of the inner planes of experience.

*   *   *

August 27, 1931

The calumnies don’t really matter. What Tagore says about gossip and rumours is quite right, not only of Bengal, but everywhere. It is part of average human nature (the lower vital again!) to take pleasure in scandal, nindā [criticism], believing and reporting anything against people, and if nothing true or half true can be found, inventing or reporting inventions. The best thing is not to pay any attention — if it is forced on one, then a quiet correction or contradiction is enough. And for the rest to go straight on one’s way, casting these saletés behind you.

I am afraid Pramatha Chowdhuri[5] is asking from me a thing psychologically impossible. You know that I have forbidden myself to write anything for publication for some time past and some time to come — I am self-debarred from press, platform and public. Even if it were otherwise, it would be impossible under present circumstances to write at a week’s notice. You will present him my excuses in your best and most tactful manner.

P.S. I take Pramatha Chowdhuri’s remark as a complimentary hyperbole. The Golden Book will be as golden and Tagore’s work and fame as solid without any lucubration from me to gild the one or to buttress the other.

*   *   *

August 29, 1931

I return your correspondence. I see you threaten me with a world-wide publicity agent; I face the menace with equanimity. Romain Rolland has already done his best or his worst — Herr Miller can try his hand at doing one better — if or when he comes here. His wife’s letter is interesting, because it is evidently very sincere. As for Bahadur he has still some way to go before your wish for him can be fulfilled — there is no hurry.

*   *   *


[1] Sister Maya and brother-in-law Bhavashankar, son of Surendranath Banerji, the well-known Moderate Congress leader.

[2] Birendra Kishore Roy Chowdury, Zamindar of Gouripur, East Bengal. A veteran sarod player and very close friend and admirer of Dilip. He became a disciple of Sri Aurobindo at the instance of Dilip.

[3] Dilip’s note: Birendrakishore had written to me a letter in which he reported Tagore as having said to him with a sigh that Sri Aurobindo had told him in 1928 that he would “expand” after two years.

[4] In his well-known letter of 7 April 1920 to his younger brother Barin, Sri Aurobindo wrote: “These past ten years He has been making me develop it [the body of this Yoga] in experience, and it is not yet finished. It may take another two years….”

[5] Pramatha Chowdhuri (7 August 1868 – 2 September 1946). In 1899, he married Indira Devi, daughter of Satyendranath Tagore, an elder brother of Rabindranath. He knew thoroughly English and French literatures. He founded the magazine Sabuj Patra and wrote under the pseudonym Birbal. A powerful group of new writers gathered around Sabuj Patra and gave a new direction to the Bengali language.

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It is not the personality, the character that is of the first importance in rebirth — it is the psychic being who stands behind the evolution of the nature and evolves with it.