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At the Feet of The Mother

On Democracy (HH 139)

Extending the idea of individual Freedom, Reason, the present highest faculty of man regards Democracy as the highest form of government. It is seen as representing the collective will of each individual unit that is independent in itself. Though the ideal is laudable, like all man made systems it suffers from the same fundamental defect and it is this, that a perfect social order cannot be created by imperfect human beings. However perfect the machinery or institution may be, it will not endure or give results contrary to expectations or break down at some point or the other, unless it simultaneously rises above the human. Till that happens, the society at large may need to be governed by those who have risen to an intuitive intelligence and a sage-like consciousness. Presented are some thoughts on democracy, other forms of governments and the real solution to the enigma of a collective emancipation of mankind.

Words of Sri Aurobindo


If we may judge from the modern movement, the progress of the reason as a social renovator and creator, if not interrupted in its course, would be destined to pass through three successive stages which are the very logic of its growth, the first individualistic and increasingly democratic with liberty for its principle, the second socialistic, in the end perhaps a governmental communism with equality and the State for its principle, the third—if that ever gets beyond the stage of theory—anarchistic in the higher sense of that much-abused word, either a loose voluntary coop ration or a free communalism with brotherhood or comradeship and not government for its principle. It is in the transition to its third and consummating stage, if or whenever that comes, that the power and sufficiency of the reason will be tested; it will then be seen whether the reason can really be the master of our nature, solve the problems of our interrelated and conflicting egoisms and bring about within itself a perfect principle of society or must give way to a higher guide.

The Human Cycle: p. 194


* * *


A spiritual or spiritualised anarchism might appear to come nearer to the real solution or at least touch something of it from afar. As it expresses itself at the present day, there is much in it that is exaggerated and imperfect. Its seers seem often to preach an impossible self-abnegation of the vital life and an asceticism which instead of purifying and transforming the vital being, seeks to suppress and even kill it; life itself is impoverished or dried up by this severe austerity in its very springs. Carried away by a high-reaching spirit of revolt, these prophets denounce civilization as a failure because of its vitalistic exaggerations, but set up an opposite exaggeration which might well cure civilization of some of its crying faults and uglinesses, but would deprive us also of many real and valuable gains. But apart from these excesses of a too logical thought and a one-sided impulsion, apart from the inability of any “ism” to express the truth of the spirit which exceeds all such compartments, we seem here to be near to the real way out, to the discovery of the saving motive force.

The solution lies not in the reason, but in the soul of man, in its spiritual tendencies. It is a spiritual, an inner freedom that can alone create a perfect human order. It is a spiritual, a greater than the rational enlightenment that can alone illumine the vital nature of man and impose harmony on its self-seekings, antagonisms and discords. A deeper brotherhood, a yet unfound law of love is the only sure foundation possible for a perfect social evolution, no other can replace it. But this brotherhood and love will not proceed by the vital instincts or the reason where they can be met, baffled or deflected by opposite reasonings and other discordant instincts. Nor will it found itself in the natural heart of man where there are plenty of other passions to combat it. It is in the soul that it must find its roots; the love which is founded upon a deeper truth of our being, the brotherhood or, let us say,—for this is another feeling than any vital or mental sense of brotherhood, a calmer more durable motive-force,— the spiritual comradeship which is the expression of an inner realisation of oneness. For so only can egoism disappear and the true individualism of the unique godhead in each man found itself on the true communism of the equal godhead in the race; for the Spirit, the inmost self, the universal Godhead in every being is that whose very nature of diverse oneness it is to realize the perfection of its individual life and nature in the existence of all, in the universal life and nature.

This is a solution to which it may be objected that it puts off the consummation of a better human society to a far-off date in the future evolution of the race. For it means that no machinery invented by the reason can perfect either the individual or the collective man; an inner change is needed in human nature, a change too difficult to be ever effected except by the few. This is not certain; but in any case, if this is not the solution, then there is no solution, if this is not the way, then there is no way for the human kind. Then the terrestrial evolution must pass beyond man as it has passed beyond the animal and a greater race must come that will be capable of the spiritual change, a form of life must be born that is nearer to the divine. After all there is no logical necessity for the conclusion that the change cannot begin at all because its perfection is not immediately possible. A decisive turn of mankind to the spiritual ideal, the beginning of a constant ascent and guidance towards the heights may not be altogether impossible, even if the summits are attainable at first only by the pioneer few and far-off to the tread of the race. And that beginning may mean the descent of an influence that will alter at once the whole life of mankind in its orientation and enlarge for ever, as did the development of his reason and more than any development of the reason, its potentialities and all its structure.

The Human Cycle: pp. 220 – 221


* * *


The real name of the chariot of Jagannath is not society but commune. Not a loose human association with diverse tendencies or merely a crowd but an unfettered indivisible organisation, the gnostic community created by delight and the unifying power of self-knowledge and divine knowledge.

Society (samÀj) is the name given to the organisation, that device which allows a human collectivity to work together. By understanding the root of the word, we can also seize its meaning. The suffix sama means united, the root aj signifies to go, to run, to fight. Thousands of people come together for the sake of work and to satisfy their desires. They pursue numerous aims in the same field — who can come first? Who can get to the top? — and because of this there is struggle and competition, quarrel and fighting not only among themselves but with other societies as well. To bring about order into this chaos, obtain help and satisfy mental tendencies, various relations and ideals are established; the result is something temporary, incomplete and achieved with difficulty. This is the image of society, of the lower existence.

The inferior society is based upon division. A partial, uncertain and short-lived unity is constructed upon that division. The structure of the ideal society is entirely the opposite. Unity is the foundation; there is a play of differentiation, for the sake of multiform delight, not for division. In the society we find a hint of physical and mentally conceived unity arising from work; but unity based on the self is the soul of the spiritual commune.

There have been a number of partial and unsuccessful attempts to establish a commune in a limited field, whether inspired by the intellectual ideas of the West or in order to follow unhindered the discipline of inaction leading to Nirvana as among the Buddhists or because of the intensity of spiritual feeling like the early Christian communities. But before long all the defects, imperfections and normal tendencies of society infiltrated into the spiritual commune and brought it down to ordinary society. The idea of a restless intellect cannot endure; it is washed away by the irresistible current of old and new life-impulses. An intensity of emotion cannot bring about success in this endeavour; emotion is worn out by its own impetus. One ought to seek Nirvana all alone; to form a commune for the love of Nirvana is a contradictory action. A spiritual commune is by its very nature a field for the play of work and mutuality.

The day the Self-born unity will come into being by the harmony and integration of knowledge, devotion and work, as impelled by the Will of the Virat Purusha, the Universal Person, on that day the chariot of Jagannath will come out on the avenues of the world, radiating its light in all directions. Satya Yuga, the Age of Truth will descend upon earth; the world of mortal man will become the field for the play of the Divine, the temple-city of God, the metropolis of Ananda.

Bengali Writings: The Chariot of Jagannatha: pp. 174 – 175


* * *


Words of the Mother


I think democracy … Already at the age of ten, I found democracy to be idiotic (there, in France), but anyway … It’s idiotic there, in France (but that doesn’t matter), but at any rate I don’t think democracy is AT ALL, at all an organization in accord with India’s spirit – not in the least. And the proof is that it’s not at all the collectivity of people that controls things, it’s a few scoundrels who push themselves forward, saying, “I represent this, I represent that …”


In an undated note, Mother once wrote, “Democracy was necessary and useful a hundred years ago, but now we must go beyond it if we want to take a step forward towards a new creation.”


* * *


I have something interesting to tell you…. Sri Aurobindo has come out of meditation and has started “playing.”

I arrived where I always go to find him, in the subtle physical, last night around 2: 30, and what a crowd there was! Thousands of  people. When I arrived there, before going in I met someone, who must have been one of the former politicians, from the time of the revolution, when Sri Aurobindo was involved in politics; he is dead, naturally, but he was there and he told me (he was quite jubilant), he told me (in English), “Sri Aurobindo has come out of meditation, he has started playing!” And there was indeed a feeling that everyone was playing, playing…. I crossed the courtyard (I even crossed a room where some people were still in meditation, and they looked surprised to see me come in like that, I told them, “Don’t worry, I don’t want to disturb you!”), then I found Sri Aurobindo, who was playing – very young and strong and amused and joyful, and he was playing. He was playing with something that cannot be described, and he was playing and playing…. And then, the same gentleman whom I had seen at the entrance came and told me in my ear, “He has played with that a lot … it is worn-out,” it’s a bit damaged, a bit worn-out. So I drew near, and Sri Aurobindo, who had heard, told me, “Yes, it is worn-out, take it and bring me another.” And he handed it to me – I can’t describe it, it didn’t look like anything, it was … “something” – there was something black moving inside something – and it did look a little broken down. So I left, I went back downstairs; and the symbol of the physical body was a pair of shoes – I put my shoes on again and left. There were lots of details; it began after two-thirty, and it lasted till about four-thirty.

And then, later in the morning, I was completely in the atmosphere and I understood that it was the form of the government – it was … (laughing) the old democracy which has become useless.

October 27, 1965


* * *


The first thing to be accepted and recognized by all is that the invisible, higher power (higher in the sense that it belongs to a plane of consciousness which, although veiled to most, one can gain, a consciousness one may call as one likes, any name – that doesn’t matter – but which is integral and pure in the sense that it’s not mendacious, it’s based on the Truth), that this power is capable of governing material things for everyone in a MUCH TRUER, happier and more beneficial way than any material power. That’s the first point. Once everyone agrees on it …

And it’s not something you can pretend to have; a being can’t pretend to have it: either he has it or he doesn’t, because (laughing) if it’s a pretense, life will use the slightest opportunity to make it obvious! And moreover, it won’t give you any material power – here also, Théon said something in this regard, he said, “Those who are all the way up” (he was referring to the TRUE hierarchy, the hierarchy based precisely on each one’s power of consciousness), “one who is all the way up (one or those) necessarily has the least amount of needs; his material needs decrease as his capacity of material vision increases.” And it’s perfectly true. It’s automatic and spontaneous; it’s not the result of an effort: the vaster the consciousness and the more things and realities it embraces, the smaller the material needs become – automatically so – because they lose all their importance and value. It’s reduced to a minimal need of material necessities, which will itself change with the progressive development of Matter.

And that’s easily recognizable, of course. It’s difficult to feign.

The second thing is the power of conviction. That is to say, the highest consciousness, when it’s put in contact with Matter, spontaneously has … (what should I call it?… It’s not an “influence,” because there’s no will to influence…. I might put it this way:) it has a power of conviction greater than that of all intermediary regions. Through simple contact, its power of conviction, that is, its power of transformation, is greater than that of all the intermediary regions. That is a fact. Those two facts make it impossible for any pretense to last. (I am looking at it from the standpoint of a collective organization.)

As soon as you come down from that supreme Height, you find the whole play of diverse influences (gesture of mixture and conflict), and that’s in fact a sure sign: if you come down ever so slightly (even into a region of higher mentality, higher intelligence), the WHOLE conflict of influences starts. Only what’s truly all the way up, with perfect purity, has this power of spontaneous conviction. All substitutes you may try are therefore an approximation, and not a much better one than democracy – by “democracy,” I mean the system that wants to rule through the greatest number and lowest masses (I am referring to “social democracy,” the latest trend).

If there is no representative of the supreme Consciousness (which can happen, of course), if there isn’t any, we could perhaps (this would be worth trying) replace him with the government by a small number – we would have to choose between four and eight, something like that: four, seven or eight – a small number having an INTUITIVE intelligence. Intuitive is more important than intelligence”: they should have an intuition that manifests intellectually. (From a practical standpoint it would have some drawbacks, but it might be nearer the truth than the lowest rung: socialism or communism.) All the intermediaries have proved incompetent: theocracy, aristocracy, democracy, plutocracy – all that is a complete failure. The other one too is now giving proof of its failure, the government of … what can we call it? Democracy? (But democracy always implies the idea of educated, rich people.) That has given proof of its complete incompetence.

It’s the reign of the most equally shared stupidity.

Yes, that’s right!… But I am referring to the system all the way down, socialistic or communistic, which represents material needs…. Basically, it corresponds to a sort of absence of government, because they don’t have the power to govern others: they are forced to transfer their power to someone who exercises it, like a Lenin, for instance, because he was a brain. But all that … all that has been tried out and has given proof of its incompetence. The only thing that could be competent is the Truth-Consciousness choosing instruments and expressing itself through a certain number of instruments, if one can’t be found (just one isn’t enough, either, that one would necessarily need to choose a whole collectivity). Those possessing this consciousness may belong to any class of society: it’s not a privilege arising from birth, but the result of personal effort and development. In fact, that would be an external sign, an evident sign of change on the political level: no question anymore of classes or categories or birth (all that is outdated), but those individualities that have reached a higher consciousness would have the right to govern, whatever class they belong to – and no others.

That would be the true vision.

But all those participating in the experience would have to be absolutely convinced that the highest consciousness is the best judge of the MOST MATERIAL THINGS. You see, what has ruined India is this idea that the higher consciousness has to do with “higher” things, while it’s not interested in lower things and knows nothing about them! That’s what has caused the ruin of India. Well, this error must be completely abolished. It’s the highest consciousness that sees the most clearly – the most clearly and the most truly – what the needs of the most material thing should be.

With this, we could try out a new kind of government.


(Mother laughs)

April 10, 1968

Mar 7, 2015 

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