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At the Feet of The Mother

Correspondence 1932, April

April 1, 1932

As to the “anti-climax”, I will get it out of the way first by protesting that I had not in the least your case in mind when I wrote the “message” about the food-greed in the atmosphere, and I have no grudge against your mohan-bhog [a kind of porridge made by boiling corn flour in milk]. I have myself consumed a fair quantity of it, not only in ancient days, — if it then existed, — but in modern times. You certainly need not renounce it — unless you feel an urgent and spontaneous call to do so for a time; and that is only if it is a grande passion which you feel ought to cool down a bit! But I suppose things have not gone so far as that and it is only a flirt or a sentimental preference.

As to your demand for a suggestion about the Dance of Krishna, it is a little out of my accustomed line, for I am a poet but not in the least a musician and how then can I draw out a suggestive scheme for music? Still I will see what comes — if anything comes. A.E.’s lines on Krishna are a magnificent poem; of course, it gives only one side of the Krishna idea as it is in the Puranas and the Gita.

I never met Chakrabarti[1] personally and know nothing about Krishnaprem’s Guru. Chakrabarti’s father came here to see me, but even that I had forgotten till the Mother reminded me of it. I know Chakrabarti only through the Mother, but that is better than any personal acquaintance. The Mother met him in Paris when he was there once with his sons on his way to England; it was before the deluge, in pre-war days. She meditated with him and they were able inwardly to meet each other with a brief but living spiritual interchange. He told her that he had an extraordinary meditation which was entirely due to her, and she was aware of his state of consciousness and discovered in him a remarkable spiritual realisation and a considerable insight on the inner plane. It was the realisation of the Gita or part of it which he had built up in himself, peace, equanimity, the sense of the Divine within, and the atmosphere of peace was so strongly formed and living and real in him that he would convey it to others. On the other hand, he was externally a very worldly man, accepting the not very exalted outward personal life and surroundings he had as the milieu given him and not in the least wishing to change it. It was his theory that this was the teaching of the Gita — to feel Krishna within, to have the inner spiritual life and realisation, — the rest was the Lila and could be left as it was unless or until the Divine himself in the automatic movement of his play chose to change it. This explains the double character of the impression he conveyed to others, which so much surprised you. Those who had themselves some development or aspire to it could, I suppose, feel the sadhak in him; others might see only the worldly man, able, strong, rich, social, successful, accepting, even perhaps drawing to himself enjoyment of riches and power. Others felt both sides, but could understand neither, like your friend in Geneva. Your account of him interested myself and the Mother greatly; it was so evidently the same man, even if the external facts were not there to identify the husband of Krishnaprem’s Guru with the spiritual-worldly Chakrabarti of Paris. Not a complete spiritual hero, no doubt, but a remarkable sadhak all the same.

P.S. Shuyi demands to sing two Gujarati songs on the next music day! He refers to you — or did in his first application which was rejected on the plea of “too late” — as the guarantor of his musical abilities!! I wait anxiously for your word upon this ticklish matter.

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April 6, 1932

Your poem is very fine in language and perfect in rhythm; it seems to me to rise more and more as it proceeds and ends in a very high strain. I find it also well planned. I take it that it shows first the descent of the Divine Krishna in the power of his light and the sweetness of love into the sorrowful and darkened world for a new manifestation and creation; then the storm and lightnings of his power sweeping away all that veils and obscures, troubles and oppresses, last the enthronement, in the heart, of love and the Lord of love; that is a very good architecture.

If you like you can use the passage about Rama and Krishna for your book; I have inserted one or two alterations to make my meaning more precise and clear.

Krishnaprem’s letter is as refreshing as its predecessors; he always takes things by the right end. And his way of putting them is delightfully pointed and downright, as is natural to one who has got to the root of the matter. But I find it difficult to take Jung and the psychologists very seriously [when they try to scrutinise spiritual experience by the flicker of their torch-lights],[2] though perhaps one ought to, for half-knowledge is a powerful thing and can be a great obstacle to the coming in front of the true Truth. No doubt, they are very remarkable men in their own field, but this new psychology looks to me very much like children learning some summary and not very adequate alphabet, exulting in putting their a-b-c-d of the subconscient and the mysterious underground super-ego together and imagining that their first book of obscure beginnings (c-a-t = cat, t-r-e-e = tree) is the foundation of all knowledge. They look from down up and explain the higher lights by the lower obscurities; but the foundation of things is above and not below, upari budhna eṣām [their foundation is above]. The superconscient, not the subconscient, is the true foundation of things. The significance of the lotus is not to be found by analysing the secrets of the mud from which it grows here; its secret is to be found in the heavenly archetype of the lotus that blooms for ever in the Light above. The self-chosen field of these psychologists is besides poor and dark and limited; you must know the whole before you can know the part and the highest before you can truly understand the lowest. That is the province of the greater psychology awaiting its hour before which these poor gropings will disappear and come to nothing.

If Aruna’s voice is good, all the more reason why she should develop her potentialities first and not spoil them by a premature performance. The consciousness is too unripe at this age and she must not be pushed in front.

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April 10, 1932

The “Balagopal” is very beautiful; you have done even better on the “Lullaby”.

By the way, this is not the first work the Mother has directly given you, but the second. You have already been appointed Head of the Board of Musical Examiners to the Ashram and now you have an infant class in French with your “youthful” grand-uncle as the sole but venerable infant in the class!

P.S. I had forgotten to return the Rumanian article in which there seem to be fearful and wonderful but unintelligible statements about myself and Buddha and “Krishnamurti” — what a collocation!


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April 27, 1932

You have certainly done something like a miracle. It hardly seemed to me possible that the Sanskrit metre in its exactitude could be reproduced in Bengali. I thought it could only be by the fiction of the mora = guru [long vowel], which may be all right in Bengali itself but does not produce the same modulation as in Sanskrit. And it is a beautiful poem too, not colourless and poetically wooden like Satyen Dutt’s lines. As for the inner rhythm it is surely the Mandakranta rhythm, — more lyrical, less elegiac than the movement of the Meghaduta, but still the same. Your statement of true distinction — in the spirit of the movement as opposed to its body or rather an immobile clay figure representing the mobile body, for that is what Satyen Dutt’s reproduction comes to, — is, I believe, quite accurate.

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April 29, 1932

I suppose I ought to have written moras, if that is the proper plural of mora — I meant to refer to the general principle by which the indubitable quantitative long syllable of classic metres is represented by a constructive length — not always of two heard short sounds equivalent to one long, for sometimes it is one short syllable with a pause after it, sometimes two, and even in some languages in certain conditions three very short syllables can be treated as equivalent to one long.

Harin’s poems sent by you are really very beautiful. In the first verse he seems to be seeking his inspiration and not yet to have quite found it, but the rest is admirable. These are among the best things he has written.

I cannot speak with the same unqualified praise about his translation of your “Descent of Krishna.” It is no doubt very well done, but one feels that it is “done.” There is language, there is rhythm, there are fine lines, e.g.

“Let laughter bear the dusk of centuries,”

but, unlike his original poetry, it has not been felt or has not sprung spontaneously out of himself as a result of a full transfer of the bhāva [mood, feeling] of the original poem into his own consciousness. That is where your translations excel. I am balancing about your new metre. It is very well-done and successful and the music is beautiful and unexceptionable. But can you carry on this triple rhyme for many verses without forcing the lilt? I say that because in the fourth verse there seems to me to be some suspicion of this forcing, and yet the fourth verse is indispensable, for otherwise the poem does not come to an end, it hangs suspended. But perhaps this impression is due to the repetition of the la sound in the rhymes in two successive verses tutla [broken] series, kātla [severed] series, and it may wear off after another reading with a fresh ear.

P.S. I really don’t think the mātrā-vṛtta principle stands in the natural rhyme of this metre, even though it is a possible recension [?] of it. Your objection to the double trick stands in spite of your own performance of the feat.

Harin’s translation of your poem is good but not good enough for the original.

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[1] J. N. Chakravarti was vice-chancellor of Lucknow University. His wife, Monika Devi, took Sannyasa as Yashoda Ma. Krishnaprem was her disciple.

[2] The phrase within brackets was added later by Sri Aurobindo.

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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.