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At the Feet of The Mother

Correspondence 1933, February

February 1933?

(About a translation of Lawrence’s prose poem
in Suryamukhi)

A very fine translation. What a pity that Lawrence did not give his poetry a rhythmic form, that would have given it its full sound and sense-value and make it sure of immortality.

*   *   *

February 9, 1933

Very glad the dragons of the pressure are turning round and becoming lambs of docility and angels of blessings.

I have been glancing at odd times at Pansies.[1] Flashes of genius, much defiant triviality of revolt-stuff, queer straining after things not grasped, a gospel of “conscientious sensuality” rushing in at favourable opportunities — all in a formless deliberate disorder, that is the impression up till now — I shall wait to see if there is something else…

I return the extracts from Bijoychandra’s letters; they are certainly very interesting. The meed (or seal) of praise from minds of such ripe judgment is of a value that outgrows all incomprehension or objection by lesser minds.

*   *   *

February 11, 1933

I am glad to hear that your condition is shaping so well under the stress. Yes, Mother had a good impression both of your Chotamāsīmā [aunt] and Maitreyi and she was pleased also about Nalina.[2]

As to Asuras I don’t know. Not many of them have shown signs of repentance or possibility of conversion up to now. It is not surprising that they should be powerful in a world of Ignorance, for they have only to persuade people to follow the established bent of their lower nature, while the Divine calls always for a change of Nature. It is not to be wondered at that the Asura has an easier task and more momentary success in his combinations. But that temporary success does not bind the future.

*   *   *

February 15, 1933

I don’t think Rs.75 is a bit too much to ask for. As for the Hindi affair, it is worth while trying but —. Well, I suppose you know Byron’s verdict on publishers?

Your experience about the meditation is common enough. I used to have it or analogous things hundreds of times. I suppose it is to teach us first that grace is more effective than tapasya and, secondly, that either equanimity or a cheerful spontaneous happy self-opening is as effective, to say the least, as the grimmest wrestling for a result. But it would be dangerous to assume from that that no tapasya and no endeavour is needful — for that might very well mean inertia. I have seen too that very often a long tapasya with doubtful results prepares the moment of grace and the spontaneous downflow. All which seem to be contradictions, but are not in a whole view of things.

Mother will see about the time to be fixed for the music.

*   *   *

February 18, 1933

At least the inner being, the psychic, is nowadays sufficiently awake not to acquiesce in the “reasonings” of the vital — your dream was the voice of the inner being, its reply showing you the truth within you and the real demand of the spirit. It was the dissatisfaction of the soul with the superficial vital life that brought you away from the outer world and it is the same dissatisfaction a hundred times increased and accompanied with an intense psychic sorrow that would come on you if you went away from the Yoga.

Your vital mind (which is the one which revolts and doubts) has strange misconceptions about the spiritual state. There is no grimness in being an instrument of the divine Will — it is the happiest and most joyous condition possible — it brings not only peace but an intense Ananda. Anyhow, the hold of the Yoga-force is increasing in spite of everything and you have only to go on for it to solve the struggle between the outer man and the inner spirit.

P.S Murala’s son has an interesting face and must have capacities, but he is not likely to have yogic tendencies just now.

*   *   *

February 1933?

It is well that you found it out, but don’t let it depress you. It is by such flashes of clairvoyance that the remnants and hidden survivals of old habit and nature get exposed and have to leave. So you must not let it spoil this darshan. Also why give up music? It will be better to be more sparing of the soirées [evening gatherings] — Mother noticed that they often upset you or preceded an upsetting, that was why she asked you to tell her when they came.

I had just half an hour, so I send you the corrections of the poems.

*   *   *

February 20, 1933

Yes, you can send the flowers and the wire to Subhash. I note the names of those for whom you make the pranam the second time.

As for the doubts of which you have written, I cannot write much today for obvious reasons and in any case writing is not the remedy, though it may help and encourage — for these doubts rise not from the intellect but from the vital mind which sees things according to its condition and mood and needs something else than what the mind asks for to satisfy it. It is perfectly true that these reasonings have no force when the vital is in its true poise of love or joy or active and creative power, and when the vital is depressed then it is hard and seems sometimes impossible so long as the depression is there, to surmount the trouble. But still the clouds do not last for ever — and even one has a certain power in the mind to shorten the period of these clouds, to reject and dissipate them and not to allow them to remain until they disappear in the course of nature.

By all means use the method of japa and bhakti. I have never insisted on your using the method of dry or hard tapasya — it was some idea or feeling in your own mind that made you lay so much stress on it. There are some to whom it is natural and necessary for a time, but each ought to move in his own way and there is no one rule for all — even if the objective is and must be the same, contact and union and opening to the Divine.

In the end these doubts and depressions and despairs must cease. When the call of the soul perseveres, the response of the Divine must come.

Nahi kalyānakṛt kascit durgatim Pārtha (tāta) gacchati[3]

*   *   *

February 23, 1933

The question as it is put can admit of only one answer. I am not aware that nursery rhymes or folk songs take any important place or any place at all in the history of the prosody of the English language or that one starts the study of English metre by a careful examination of the rhythm of “Humpty Dumpty,” “Mary, Mary, quite contrary” or the tale of the old woman who lived in a shoe. There are many queer theories abroad nowadays in all the arts, but I doubt whether any English or French critic or prosodist would go so far as to turn to “Who killed Cock Robin?” for the true movement of English rhythm, putting aside Chaucer, Spenser, Pope or Shelley as too cultivated and accomplished or too much under foreign influence or seek for his models in popular songs or the products of the café chantant in preference to Hugo or Musset or Verlaine.

But perhaps something else is meant — is it that one gets the crude indispensable elements of metre better from primitive, just-shaped or unshaped stuff than from more perfect work in which these are overlaid by artistic developments and subtle devices — an embryo or a skeleton is more instructive for the study of men than the developed flesh-and-blood structure. That may have a certain truth in some lines of scientific research, but it cannot stand in studying the technique of an art. At that rate one would have to go for the basic principles of musical sound to the lullaby or the jazz or even to the hurdy-gurdy and for the indispensable rules of line and colour to the pavement-artist or to the sign-board painter. Or perhaps the suggestion is that here one gets the primary unsophisticated rhythms native to the language and free from the artificial movements of mere literature. Still, I hardly fancy that the true native spirit or bent of English metre is to be sought in

“Humpty Dumpty sat on a wall,
Humpty Dumpty had a great fall”

and is lost in

“Rarely, rarely, comest thou,
Spirit of Delight.”

Popular or nursery verse catches the child’s ear or the common ear much more easily than the music of poetry because it relies on a crude jingle or infantile lilt — not because it enshrines in its movement the true native spirit of the tongue. There seems to be the fallacy to think that the real spirit and native movement of a language can be caught only in crude or primitive forms and that it is disguised in the more perfect work in which it has developed its own possibilities to their full pitch, variety and scope.

As for foreign influences, most of the elements of English prosody, rhyme, foot-scansion, line-lengths, stanza-forms and many others have come in from outside and have altered out of all recognition the original mould, but the spirit of the language has found itself as much in these developments as in the first free alliterative verse — as much and more. The spirit of a language ought to be strong enough to assimilate any amount of imported elements or changes of structure and measure.

*   *   *

February 1933?

… However. Let it ebb off and be stilled at that. I am now the soul of gentility once more — limpid like the Ganges water in winter, though not so cold.

I suppose it is all right now. All seems to have come back to poise. As for Nalina’s husband I dare say he is a good and righteous man, but I have noticed him as a signal example of how blind and ego-centred a good and righteous man can be. Of course I knew it before, but an example makes knowledge more living. However this is strictly between you and me.

A letter from Vidya this morning. I suppose you have no time still. No wonder — with all these goings-on!

You are right. I loaded [with trouble?] already, but with this [?] shower of letters!

Worked hard today: another long article — fairly. To revise it still tonight. Three long articles in four days, what? Energetic, no?

Tremendous!

*   *   *

February 26, 1933

I return you Buddhadev’s and Ashalata’s letters. Evidently peace is a very great desideratum for all these people. It may be that poets and literary creators need to have a bad time and sensitive nerves and things and people grating on them in order to create? But after all there were some who took hold of life in a more masterly fashion. Why does Buddhadev allow himself to be so much upset by the attacks upon him? — it is a thing every rising genius has to face at one time or another, in one form or another. He should remain calm and live down the jealousy and enmity that well up from human nature around an increasing fame.

*   *   *

February 28 1933 [4]

Your wail does not seem to me to have strong grounds for existence. You were beginning to go on very well with a turn towards a more consistent progress; at such periods suggestions like these come to interrupt the progress. One ought not to listen to them at all; they serve merely as disturbing factors. If the reasons alleged were sufficient to be a just ground for failure, all Yoga would be impossible for you or anybody. The persistence or the obstinate return of the old Adam is a common experience: it is only when there is a sufficient mass of experience and a certain progression of consciousness in the higher parts of the being that the lower can be really transmuted. It is that that one must allow to develop. It is quite out of place to worry about your continued predilection for Maya’s vegetables or teas or [?] laughter and thence deduce your incapacity for Yoga. It is not on these things that we have asked you to concentrate. It is the pressure of the Yoga shakti and the increase of the experiences that is wanted in your case, not this preoccupation with an external “grim” tapasya. It was coming — why stop it with these inopportune regrets and reasonings?

*   *   *


[1] A collection of poems by D. H. Lawrence (1929)

[2] Sahana’s elder sister.

[3] “Never does anyone who practises good come to woe” (Gita, 6.40).

[4] Sri Aurobindo dated this letter February 29, but 1933 not being a leap year, we assume the date to be February 28.

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