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At the Feet of The Mother

Correspondence 1932, October (III)

October 20, 1932

I am glad you have made a (partial) conquest of Buddhadev. If you can establish laghu-guru as a recognised metrical principle in Bengali, you will fulfil one of my two previsions for the future with regard to the language. When I was first introduced to Bengali prosody, I was told that Madhusudan’s blank verse was one of fourteen syllables, but to my astonishment found that sometimes ten syllables even counted as fourteen, e.g.

Rāvan swashur mama Meghnād swami

[Ravan is my father-in-law, Meghnad is my husband.]

Of course, it was afterwards explained to me that the syllables were counted in the Sanskrit system, and I got the real run of rhythmic movement; but I always thought, why not have an alternative system with a true sonant syllabic basis — and, finally, I saw the birth (I mean as a recognised serious metre) of the svara-vṛtta. Afterwards I came across Hemchandra’s experiments in bringing in a quantitative element — and fell in love with the idea and hoped somebody would try it on a larger scale. But up till now this attempt to influence the future did not materialise. Now perhaps in your hands it will — even apart from songs.

Sorry about your nose. But after all a nose cannot be like Tennyson’s brook — “Gods may come and Gods may go but I run on for ever.” A running nose is essentially a temporary phenomenon, its run [?] is brief — while Shiva is supposed to be immortal.

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October 22, 1932

Absence of love and fellow-feeling is not necessary to the Divine nearness; on the contrary, a sense of closeness and oneness with others is a part of the divine consciousness into which the sadhak enters by nearness to the Divine and the feeling of oneness with the Divine. An entire rejection of all relations is indeed the final aim of the Mayavadin and in the ascetic Yoga an entire loss of all relations of friendship and affection and attachment to the world and its living beings would be regarded as a promising sign of advance towards liberation, mokṣa; but even there, I think, a feeling of oneness and unattached spiritual sympathy for all is at least a penultimate stage, like the compassion of the Buddhist, before the turning to Moksha or Nirvana. In this Yoga the feeling of unity with others, love, universal joy and Ananda are an essential part of the liberation and perfection which are the aim of the sadhana.

On the other hand, human society, human friendship, love, affection, fellow-feeling are mostly and usually — not entirely or in all cases — founded on a vital basis and are ego-held at their centre. It is because of the pleasure of being loved, the pleasure of enlarging the ego by contact and penetration with another, the exhilaration of the vital interchange which feeds their personality that men usually love — and there are also other and still more selfish motives that mix with this essential movement. There are of course higher spiritual, psychic, mental, vital elements that come in or can come in; but the whole thing is very mixed, even at its best. This is the reason why at a certain stage with or without apparent reason the world and life and human society and relations and philanthropy (which is as ego-ridden as the rest) begin to pall. There is sometimes an ostensible reason — a disappointment of the surface vital, the withdrawal of affection by others, the perception that those loved or men generally are not what one thought them to be and a host of other causes; but often the cause is a secret disappointment of some part of the inner being, not translated or not well translated into the mind, because it expected from these things something which they cannot give. It is the case with many who turn or are pushed to the spiritual life. For some it takes the form of a vairāgya [disgust] which drives them towards ascetic indifference and gives the urge towards Moksha. For us, what we hold to be necessary is that the mixture should disappear and that the consciousness should be established on a purer level (not only spiritual and psychic but a purer and higher mental, vital, physical consciousness) in which there is not this mixture. There one would feel the true Ananda of oneness and love and sympathy and fellowship, spiritual and self-existent in its basis but expressing itself through the other parts of the nature. If that is to happen there must obviously be a change; the old form of these movements must drop off and leave room for a new and higher self to disclose its own way of expression and realisation of itself and of the Divine through these things — that is the inner truth of the matter.

I take it therefore that the condition you describe is a period of transition and change, negative in its beginning, as these movements often are at first, so as to create a vacant space for the new positive to appear and live in it and fill it. But the vital, not having a long continued or at all sufficient or complete experience of what is to fill the vacancy, feels only the loss and regrets it even while another part of the being, another part even of the vital, is ready to let go what is disappearing and does not yearn to keep it. If it were not for this movement of the vital, (which in your case has been very strong and large and avid of life), the disappearance of these things would, at least after the first sense of void, bring only a feeling of peace, relief and a still expectation of greater things. What is intended in the first place to fill the void was indicated in the peace and joy which came to you as the touch of Shiva — naturally, this would not be all, but a beginning, a basis for a new self, a new consciousness, an activity of a greater Nature; as I told you, it is a deep spiritual calm and peace that is the only stable foundation for a lasting Bhakti and Ananda. In that new consciousness there would be a new basis for relations with others; for an ascetic dryness or isolated loneliness cannot be your spiritual destiny since it is not consonant with your svabhāva [essential nature] which is made for joy, largeness, expansion, a comprehensive movement of the life-force. Therefore do not be discouraged; wait upon the purifying movement of Shiva.

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October 29, 1932

I quite understood your main point to which I shall answer, but there were many sub-issues which obscure the main one in your letter and I took the occasion to try to get rid of one of them, at once. For the moment I am answering only to your question about the music. Let me say at once that all of you seem to have too great an aptitude for making drastic conclusions on the strength of very minor facts. It is always perilous to take two or three small facts, put them together and build upon them a big inference. It becomes still more dangerous when you emphasise minor facts and set aside or belittle the meaning of the main ones. In this case the main facts are (1) that the Mother has loved music all her life and found it a key to spiritual experience, (2) that she has given all encouragement to your music in special and to the music of others also. She has also made clear the relation of Art and Beauty with Yoga. It is therefore rather extraordinary that anyone should think she only tolerates music here and considers it inconsistent with Yoga. It is perfectly true that Music or Art are not either the first or the only thing in life for her, — any more than Poetry or Literature are with me, — the Divine, the divine consciousness, the discovery of the conditions for a divine life are and must be our one concern, with Art, Poetry or Music as parts or means only of the divine life or expression of the Divine Truth and the Divine Beauty. That does not mean that they are only “tolerated”, but that they are put in their right place.

Then the minor facts and their significance.

The Mother limited the concerts to one hour because that was the utmost she could give to them in the afternoons for which they are fixed and that meant checking a very natural tendency to spread over a greater length of time. On this occasion she first wanted it to be a half an hour affair because the more important occasion was to be reserved for November. But it was found that certain very undesirable psychological movements were tending to appear which would turn the occasion not into a part of the preparation for true expression or a part of the Yoga, but an occasion for the exhibition of a very mundane, almost professional egoism, vanity, rivalry, anger and spite at one’s talent being “neglected” etc. It was decided that this anti-Yogic stuff should not be allowed to mix with the atmosphere of the 24th November[1] and therefore the Sunday concert could be lengthened out and the November one dropped — and this was what was written to Venkataraman. It is not an objection to music that the decision represented, but an objection to bringing into music here these very undivine and unyogic and, if human, yet not very reputably human elements and movements. The Mother said nothing to you about it because that thing did not directly concern you and she did not besides care to make the causes of the change public.

Let us have music by all means; but music of rhythm and harmony in the atmosphere!

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October 29, 1932

Khitish Sen’s sonnet is a good poem — he should write more Bengali poetry. As for the substance it expresses not so much a sign of the sceptic as the attitude of the vital man to whom unmixed happiness, joy, unity, a life without suffering, strife and unrest would seem quite unsatisfying; he complains of pain and sorrow when they come and rages against God and Fate; but if they are not there with the excited joys that are their accompaniments, he feels life dull and neutral and pale — excitement is his only stimulus enabling him to live, as the drunkard cannot do without wine.

It is not possible to answer immediately your long letter. But I do not find your argument from numbers very convincing. Your 999,999 people would also prefer a jazz and turn away from Beethoven or only hear him as a duty and would feel happy in a theatre dance-tune and cold and dull to the music of Tansen. They would also prefer (even many who pretend otherwise) a catching theatre song to one of Dwijendralal’s songs and probably Satyen Dutt’s verses to yours — which proves to the hilt that Beethoven, Tansen, Dwijendralal and yourself are pale distant highbrow things, not the real, true, human, joy-giving stuff. In the case of Yogic or divine peace, which is not something neutral, but intense, overwhelming and positive (the neutral quiet is only a first or preparatory stage), there is this further disadvantage that your millions minus one have never known Yogic peace, and what then is the value of their turning away from what they never experienced and could not possibly understand even if it were described to them? The man of the world knows only vital excitement and pleasure or what he can get of it, but does not know the Yogic peace and joy and cannot compare; but the Yogin has known both and can compare. I have never heard of a Yogin who got the peace of God and turned away from it as something poor, neutral and pallid, rushing back to cakes and ale. If satisfaction in the experience is to be the test, Yogic peace wins by a hundred lengths. However, you write as if I said peace was the one and only thing to be had by Yoga. I said it was a basis, the only possible secure basis for a fulfilled intensity of bhakti and Ananda. This is all by the way only.

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[1] One of the three darshan days.

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