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At the Feet of The Mother

Correspondence 1932, February (II)

February 13, 1932

Yes, you can include the letter [of 27 December 1930] on Russell’s external man and the two last paragraphs of that on Yogic powers. But do you not think that to speak of chef, chauffeur and day-labourer in this way might be taken as throwing a slur on three very estimable classes? After all, a chef, a chauffeur or a day-labourer may have an inner life and it would not do to appear to suggest otherwise. I don’t quite know what to put — for the names would suggest nothing to the general reader. Perhaps something like “Ramaswamy the chef or Joseph the chauffeur” and “Cheloo the day-labourer,” indicating a reference to individuals would half get us out of the difficulty.

Certainly, you can send for the Kaviraji oil. Rheumatism is not a thing to be encouraged and would not be even if it brought rapture. There was nothing wrong in your letter about the door-sill, nothing to which Chandulal or anybody could take exception.[1] Obviously Chandulal’s inspiration was not a happy one in this instance. Perhaps he measured things by his own head and forgot that there were in the Ashram and in the Trésor house higher heads on broader shoulders. Samatā [equanimity], I suppose, is a counsel of perfection, even when one breaks one’s head, but it cannot be expected from everyone in all circumstances only perhaps from those who are sitting on the “hill-top” — so that is not a “transgression”. As for divine rapture, a knock-on head or foot or elsewhere can be received with the physical Ananda of pain or pain + Ananda or pure physical Ananda — for I have often, quite involuntarily, made the experiment myself and passed with honours. It began, by the way, as far back as in Alipur jail when I got bitten in my cell by some very red and ferocious-looking warrior ants and found to my surprise that pain and pleasure are conventions of our senses. But I do not expect that unusual reaction from others. And I suppose there are limits, e.g. the case of a picketer in Madras or Dr. Noel Paton. In any case, this way of having rapture is better off the list and the Lilliputian doorway was not a happy contrivance.

I am not surprised by what your tell me of the method of advertisement to which even great names have succumbed; it is the age of advertisement and America and this kind of thing is, I suppose, universal nowadays. But I agree with you that it is not pretty.

*   *   *

February 16, 1932

Yes, the attitude of Shankar is pitiable but all too human. “Not for the wife’s sake, but for oneself’s sake is the wife dear.”[2] Let Maya come in August; the future will look to the future. The attitude towards Esha[3] is also very parent-like: the child is the parents’ property, to be brought up according to his own ideas, not according to her need, her powers, her nature. Let us hope he will yet wake and change.

I have suggested some retouches in the two poems you sent me. It is a matter of details of language, but such details have their importance …. I have explained the reason for the other changes.

“Krishnaprem”[4] has been snowed under for the last two days. I will see if I can extricate it. But at this rate your “Appendix” will become as long as Sheshnāga [the king of snakes].

*   *   *

February 19, 1932

Last evening I just wanted to do japa concentrating on the star Venus. I just tried trātaka (= fixing the gaze on a point steadfastly) and took your name along with Mother’s and Sri Krishna’s. I did this just because the spirit moved me thus. I have tried this before many times, but with no tangible result or effect, so I didn’t expect any this time either. But somehow last evening there was a most curious effect — and beautiful at that! I had a sense of deep peace and round the Venus a green disc developed which gave place to blue and then to violet which deepened to a self-luminous brightness and suffused the whole western sky — almost. I wondered if it was an optical illusion or hallucination, as the whole thing though it lasted for nearly a quarter of an hour vanished just as I closed my eye for a second after gazing steadfastly for about twenty or twenty-five minutes (at the very least). I dismissed auto-suggestion as an explanation, as I had never even dreamed of seeing any such colour, to say nothing of suggesting it. The phenomenon developed as unexpectedly as had my seeing of those sparks or hearing of those bells and flute notes. But I was sceptical and curious. So I tried it this evening too and with exactly similar results. The only difference was that the colour developed much sooner — in about ten minutes or so and lasted even after I had let my eyelids fall. And my consciousness too, was fully wakeful — I was in no condition of devotional fervour or trance — in fact I was conscious of everything, e.g. of somebody — Bula — passing behind me and sitting down to meditate on the sand. Then I lay down, closed my eyes and, opening them after a short meditation, concentrated on a star in the zenith. The first time I didn’t see anything and was disappointed. Why should only Venus be fruitful of colour and no other star — I asked myself. But the next time the same result. Then every star responded similarly — with an explosion of violet whose diameter grew. I don’t know if this has any meaning, though I feel there is. But even if it isn’t significant certainly it is curious as I am convinced it isn’t optical illusion or hallucination. The reason is, not only was I in perfectly normal consciousness but I never see visions or things. Only sparks a few times — though the bells ring all the time — from year’s end to year’s end. But the colour was beautiful and persisting. How was it?

No, it was neither optical illusion nor hallucination nor coincidence (chromatic) nor auto-suggestion nor any of the other ponderous and vacant polysyllables by which physical science tries to explain away or rather avoid explaining the (scientifically) inexplicable. In these matters the scientist is always doing what he is always blaming the layman for doing when the latter lays down the law on things about which he is profoundly ignorant, without investigation or experiment, without ascertained knowledge — simply by evolving a theory or a priori idea out of his own mind and plastering it as a label on the unexplained phenomena.

There is, as I have told you, a whole range or many inexhaustible ranges of sensory phenomena other than the outward physical which one can become conscious of, see, hear, feel, smell, touch, mentally contact — to use the new established Americanism — either in trance or sleep or an inward state miscalled sleep or simply and easily in the waking state. This faculty of sensing supraphysical things internally or externalising them, so to speak, so that they become visible, audible, sensible to the outward eye, ear, even touch, just as are gross physical objects, this power or gift is not a freak or an abnormality; it is a universal faculty present in all human beings, but latent in some, native rarely and as if by accident in others, frequent or normally active in a few. But just as anyone can, with some training, learn science and do things which would have seemed miracles to his forefathers, so anyone, if he wants, can with a little concentration and training develop the faculty of supraphysical vision. When one starts Yoga, this power is often, though not invariably — for some find it difficult — one of the first to come out from its latent condition and manifest itself, most often without any effort, intention or previous knowledge on the part of the sadhak. It comes more easily with the eyes shut than with the eyes open, but it does come in both ways. The first sign of its opening in the externalised way is very often that seeing of “sparkles” or small luminous dots, shapes, etc., which was your first introduction to the matter; a second is, often enough, the seeing of circles of light or colour around objects, most easily round luminous objects like a star; seeing of colours is a third initial experience — but they do not always come in that order. The yogis in India very often in order to develop the power use the method of trātak, concentrating the vision on a single point or object — preferably a luminous object. Your looking at the star was precisely an exercise in trātak and had the effect which any yogi in India would have told you is normal. For all this is not fancy or delusion; it is part of an occult science which has been practised throughout the historic and prehistoric ages in all countries and it has always been known to be not merely auto-suggestive or hallucinatory in its results, but, if one can get the key, veridic and verifiable. Your first scepticism may be natural in a “modern” man plunging into these lasting things of the past, present and future — natural but not justifiable, because very obviously inadequate to the facts observed; but once you have seen, the first thing you should do is to throw all this vapid pseudo-science behind you, this vain attempt to stick physical explanations on supraphysical things, and take the only rational course. Develop the power, get more and more experience — develop the consciousness by which these things come: as the consciousness develops, you will begin to understand and get the intuition of the significance. Or if you want their science too, then learn and apply the occult science which can alone deal with supraphysical phenomena.

As for what showed itself to you, it was not mere curious phenomena, not even merely symbolic colour, but things that have a considerable importance. The green circular disc you saw round Venus must indeed have been the aura of Venus which is of that colour; but this was only an introduction, a first application of the suddenly developed power of vision. Afterwards, what came, the blue and the violet were another kind of seeing more important for your Yoga; both are clearly associated with Krishna. Blue is his special and significant colour, the colour of his aura when he manifests, — that is why he is called Nīl Krishna; the adjective does not mean that he was blue or dark in his physical body whether in Brindavan or Mathura or Dwarka! Violet is the radiance of Krishna’s protection — that is why it brought to you a sense of peace. The Mother says that she always saw it when she was in communion with Krishna and now too constantly sees it enveloping the Ashram. That this should be the first thing when the power of vision broke through its state of latency is very significant; it proves that you are in contact, the touch already there in your inner being and this force of presence and protection is already around you or over you as an environing influence.

Develop this power of inner sense and all that it brings you. These first seeings are only an outer fringe — behind lie whole worlds of experience which fill what seems to the material man the gap (your Russell’s inner void) between the earth-consciousness and the Eternal and Infinite.


P.S. I remember when I first began to see inwardly (and outwardly also with the open eye), a scientific friend of mine began to talk of after-images — these are only after-images! I asked him whether after-images remained before the eye for two minutes at a time — he said, “no”, to his knowledge only for a few seconds; I also asked him whether one could get after-images of things not around one or even not existing upon this earth, since they had other shapes, another character, other hues, contours and a very different dynamism, life-movements and values — he could not reply in the affirmative. That is how these so-called scientific explanations break down as soon as you pull them out of their cloudland of mental theory and face them with the actual phenomena they pretend to decipher.

*   *   *

[1]  This refers to a door frame in Dilip’s house, Trésor, which was made too low for his height.

[2] An ironic variation on Yajnavalkya’s “one loves the wife not for the sake of the wife, but for the self’s sake” (as quoted by Sri Aurobindo in his own letter to Dilip of 27 December 1930).

[3] Dilip’s niece, Shankar’s and Maya’s daughter.

[4] Krishnaprem (Ronald Nixon) was professor at Lucknow University where Dilip met him in 1922. A few years later he gave up his lectureship for a post in Benares where he went with his Guru, Yashoda Ma. When the latter retired to a temple-retreat in Almora, he accompanied her and became a Sannyasin in the name of Krishna.

Dilip had sent Sri Aurobindo a few letters from Krishnaprem.

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