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At the Feet of The Mother

Correspondence 1931, February-March

February 2, 1931

Of course you can write to Bijoy, if you like. I doubt whether his intervention will have any effect on your Toku Mama [maternal uncle] who, if he is not bad in essence, seems certainly to have become tortuous in practice — I suppose, by influence and example.

Your friend Marthe Vanek has very good aspirations, but her mind seems to go many ways at once. What does she want exactly? A Guru? You know what this path is and how exclusive and exacting. “Unity” of Kansas City, Charles Fillmore’s Christian Healing and supramental Yoga pulling the same chariot would be a picture!

I have not forgotten my promise to explain the sparkles to you. Free Will is still “under consideration.”

*   *   *

February 7, 1931

Certainly, firmness and a little phons kora [hiss] (of course, a quiet and courteous hiss) seem the best way of getting your money, if it is at all possible.[1]

As for the “urge”, if you resist the inspiration, the chances are that you will lose both the urge and your meditation. So it is better to let the flood have its way — especially in this case, of course, for there is no harm in this kind of urge.

*   *   *

March 7, 1931

Another very beautiful poem, perfect in inspiration and measure.

I do not think you are right in attributing Chadwick’s[2] migration to any friction with you. His main inconvenience was the clash between the often animated conversation of those who gathered there (some of them have, as we know, very hearty voices) and his hours of sleep. He said that he had no right to object to people with a strong vitality from giving it vent in spirited conversation, but he was feeling more and more an inner need for quiet and solitude, and he thought it would be better for him to have other arrangements made for him than to act as a stopper upon others. His letter to the Mother asking for the change was in a very good tone and quite free from ill-will or personal feeling. So you need not be troubled in mind about it.

I do not think there has been any deterioration in your character. There may have been some nervous sensitiveness and perturbations due to the pressure on the nervous being to change its poise, but that is all; it is a thing almost inevitable and sure to pass when the right poise has been taken. It is of no great importance.

*   *   *

March 13, 1931

Your bells etc., mentioned by you as recent experiences were already enumerated as long ago as the time of the Upanishads as signs accompanying the opening to the larger consciousness, brahmaṇyabhivyaktikarāni yoge. If I remember right your sparks come in the same list. The fact has been recorded again and again in Yogic literature. I had the same experience hundreds of times in the earlier part of my Sadhana. So you see you are in very honourable company in this matter and need not trouble yourself about the objections of physical science.

*   *   *

March 21, 1931

I see from your letters that you have not at all understood what I meant to say in mine,[3] — which shows that I failed to make my meaning clear. I have therefore to write again about the Ananda and the conditions under which it can come. But there is a good deal of confusion here to be disentangled and I may not be able to finish tonight. In the meanwhile I think it better to make certain things clear.

First, it is a great exaggeration to deduce from your difficulties any idea of unfitness or of going away or being sent away or giving up the Yoga. I am certainly not going to pronounce you unfit because you want the Ananda; on such grounds I would have to pronounce myself unfit, because I have myself wanted it and many other things besides. And if I were to send you away because you are not entirely disinterested in the approach to the Divine, I should have, to be consistent, to send practically the whole Ashram packing. I do not know why you are allowing yourself to indulge in such black and despondent thoughts — there is no ground for them at all and I do not think I gave any ground for them in my letter. Whatever your difficulties, the Mother and I have every intention of seeing you through them, and I think that you too, whatever suggestions your vital depression may make to you at the moment, have every intention of going through to the end of the Path. I imagine you have gone too far on it to go back and, if you wanted to, your psychic being which has persistently pushed you towards it, would not allow such a retreat.

Next, it was not my intention to say that it was wrong to aspire for the Ananda. What I wanted to point out was the condition for the permanent possession of the Ananda (intimations, visits, downrushes of it one can have before); the essential condition for it is a change of consciousness, the coming of peace, light, etc., all that brings about the transition from the normal to the spiritualised nature. And that being so, it is better to make this change of consciousness the first object of the sadhana. On the other hand, to press for the constant Ananda immediately in a consciousness which is not yet able to retain it, still more to substitute for it lesser (vital) joys and pleasures may very well stop the flow of these spiritualised experiences which make the continuous ecstasy eventually possible. But I certainly never intended to say that the Ananda was not to be attained or to insist on your moving towards a nirānanda [blisslessness] Brahman. On the contrary, I said that Ananda was the crown of the Yoga, which surely means that it was part of the highest final siddhi [realization].

Whatever one wants sincerely and persistently from the Divine, the Divine is sure to give. If then you want Ananda and go on wanting, you will surely have it in the end. The only question is what is to be the chief power in your seeking, a vital demand or a psychic aspiration manifesting through the heart and communicating itself to the mental and vital and physical consciousness. The latter is the greatest power and makes the shortest way — and besides one has to come to that way sooner or later.

I may observe also that, from your own account, it was the psychic aspiration that began your push towards the Yoga.

*   *   *

March 21, 1931

Evidently, the condition into which you have fallen is due to an upsurging of suppressed elements in the lower vital nature. It has been compelled by the mind and the higher vital part in you to give up the little “joys and pleasures” to which it was habituated, but it — or at any rate the subconscient part of it which is often the most powerful — did that without entire conviction and probably with “reservations” and “safeguards” and in exchange for a promise of compensations, other and greater joys and pleasures to replace all it was losing. This is evident from what you write; your description of the nature of the depression, the return of what you call impure thoughts which are merely indices of the subconscient lower vital desire-complex, the doubt thrown upon the generosity of the Divine, the demand for compensation for losses, something like striking a bargain with the Divine, a quid pro quo pact, are all unmistakable. Latterly, there has been a combination of circumstances (Sahana’[4] turning inwards, Chadwick’s emigration, etc.) which have rather suddenly increased the deprivation of its former outlets; this attack is its way of non-cooperation or protest. There is only one way to deal with it, — to cast the whole thing away, depression, demands, doubts, sex-thoughts, the whole undesirable baggage, — and have in its place the one true movement, the call for the consciousness and the presence of the Divine.

It may be that behind this persistence of the lower vital demand for satisfaction there was something not quite clear — in the obscurer part of the physical mind — in your mental attitude towards the Yoga. You seem to regard this demand for the replacement of the old lower vital satisfactions by other joys and pleasures as something quite legitimate; but joys and pleasures are not the object of Yoga and a bargain or demand for a replacement of this kind can be no legitimate or healthy element in the sadhana. If it is there, it will surely impede the flow of spiritual experience. Ananda, yes; but Ananda and the spiritual happiness which precedes it (adhyātma-sukham) are something quite different from joys and pleasures. And even Ananda one cannot demand or make it a condition for pursuing the sadhana — it comes as a crown, a natural outcome and its true condition is the growth of the true consciousness, peace, calm, light, strength, the equanimity which resists all shocks and persists through success and failure. It is these things which must be the first objects of the sadhana, not any hedonistic experience even of the highest kind; for that must come of itself as a result of the Divine Presence.

I would rather like you to tell me what, precisely, you do in your hours of meditation, how you do it and what happens within you.

Meanwhile, the first thing you must do is to throw out this perilous stuff of despondency and its accompaniments and recover a quiet and clear balance. A quiet mind and a quiet vital are the first conditions for success in sadhana.

*   *   *


[1] From Dilip’s Toku Mama.

[2] John Chadwick, an English poet who came to the Ashram in 1930 from Lucknow where he was a lecturer in Philosophy. Sri Aurobindo named him “Arjava” (meaning “simplicity”, “straightforwardness”).

[3] Possibly a lost letter.

[4] “Sahana” is the name of one of the thirty-six melodies of classical Indian music. Our Sahana (17 May 1897 – 6 April 1990) was that melody incarnate. Born with a golden voice she could also faultlessly pick up a song just hearing it once. A niece of Deshbandhu C. R. Das, Sahana was born in Faridpur (now in Bangladesh). Her pet name was Jhunu, and that is how Rabindranath always addressed her affectionately. He was extremely fond of her and lent her a helping hand when she was in dire need of it.

Married on 18 February 1916, she found life pretty dry. Then, later on, for the sake of Dilip, she left her husband. And she was sick with tuberculosis. She was cured, but that was the occasion for turning inward — her life of fame and celebrity palled on her.

Then it was that Sahana turned to Mother and Sri Aurobindo. From Bangalore she took a train to Madras. There she joined a group from Bengal, in which was Moni. Strangely enough, Dilip had an experience in Lucknow on November 15, 1928, which decided him to take the plunge; he reached Madras (via Bombay) on the same day as the others. All of them reached Pondicherry on November 22. Sahana never left, and breathed there her last on April 6, 1990. She was such a wonderful person! Full of affection for us all. She sang till the end.

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There is nothing sentimental in the true weeping that comes from the soul. All that you feel now is the blossoming of the psychic being in you and the growth of a real bhakti.