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At the Feet of The Mother

Personal Instructions from Sri Aurobindo and The Mother to Kapali Sastry

T.V. Kapali Sastry

I had known of the circumstances in which Sri Kapali Sastriar had first met Sri Aurobindo. It was in 1917 that he had been invited to deliver a lecture at Pondicherry and he took the occasion to seek an interview with Sri Aurobindo through the common friend Bharati, the poet. He had admired Sri Aurobindo as an effective political leader of the National Freedom Movement and later had been profoundly impressed by his writings in the Arya. And when he met Sri Aurobindo it was both a fulfilment of a long-standing wish as well as the commencement of a fresh pilgrimage. They talked on politics, religion and philosophy.

The next meeting was in 1923. It was a meeting that proved decisive both in his inner as well as outer life. For though he had met Sri Aurobindo six years earlier, he had not at that time sought to change his own line of spiritual seeking and take to Sri Aurobindo’s Yoga of the Supermind. But a series of inner developments took place ever since he took leave of Sri Aurobindo, the most notable of which was the almost daily experience in sleep of being bodily lifted up, flown and brought down into a particular room which he later came to recognise when he met Sri Aurobindo again in 1923 in his new house. Secondly, as he told me once in intimate confidence, when things were very much near the culminating stage in the yoga he was practising, he realised that that was not the object of his innermost soul in taking this birth The choice of his being was to participate in the Divine Manifestation, not to withdraw from it.

Sastriar was not very communicative of what happened during this meeting excepting to say that he found Sri Aurobindo completely changed in his physical appearance, he had then a golden hue on his body which had become fair in complexion whereas it was brownish-dark when he had seen him last. He was amazed and mentioned it to Sri Aurobindo who smiled. What was the talk, what all did he ask and what did Sri Aurobindo tell him, these were my questions. He answered always briefly and I did not press further.

It was only recently that while going through his papers I found written on a page of an old, old note-book a few notes under the heading:  “His Instructions (personal to me). 1923 July”. These jottings, I find, fit in the general picture of the meeting he had given me. He had asked Sri Aurobindo in detail about this yoga for the Supermind, mentioned his own seeking for it.

Sri Aurobindo explained things exhaustively and then told him: “Only two can give you this Truth, myself or the Shakti”. Sastriar would always be moved whenever he recounted this gesture of trust and confidence by Sri Aurobindo. He would also describe, vividly, the parting at that time. “Can I know that the help I would receive is Yours?” he asked. ‘Yes’, replied Sri Aurobindo, and instantaneously there started a tremendous downpour of a Consciousness which never ceased thereafter.

Also found in the same note-book are the following Notes under the caption: “Her Instructions (personal to me) on different occasions”. They refer, obviously, to the instructions received from the Mother from time to time. It will be recalled that ever since 1926 – the year when Sri Aurobindo went into retirement – The Mother has been in active charge of Sri Aurobindo’s Yoga and those who are dedicated to it.

WHO IS THE MOTHER? This was Sastriar’s question in answer to which Sri Aurobindo sent him ‘The Four Powers of the Mother’ which was then yet in a manuscript stage[1]. It moved him profoundly and it did not take him long to perceive and realise all the Four Powers, spoken of by Sri Aurobindo, in the Person of the Mother. Later he rendered this magnificent prose-poem of Sri Aurobindo into inspired Sanskrit verse which won for itself the title of mātṛ upanisad from discerning savants. This is not the place for me to speak of the relation that developed between him and the Mother, I have referred to it elsewhere [2].

Let us now turn to the Instructions.

M.P. Pandit


His Instructions (personal to me)

1923 July

Faith in the Supramental Truth,
Faith in yourself in your capacity to achieve,
Faith in me (the Guru whose special help you would receive)

The very first postulate is faith in the existence of that which you seek for. Unless you have the conviction that it is a conviction that is not shaken by any movements of doubt or denial, you cannot walk long on the Path You may set out on the assurance of someone else or on some impulse but the very first obstruction brings in doubt and weakens the will to proceed. There must be a deep faith not based on extraneous reasons Faith that depends upon reasoning or proofs is no faith at all it is a conclusion. Faith, Sri Aurobindo puts it, is the soul’s witness to something not yet glimpsed by the physical sense. It is based on the perception of the soul and grows as one proceeds. At first it may be located in one enlightened part, the heart or the pure reaches of the mind, but as one develops, it extends itself and becomes so to say the whole man. So, there must first be this faith, the faith that there is a Truth beyond the mind, a Divine Truth stationed in and as the World of Mahas above this triple world in Ignorance — the Truth Supramental, faith also that this Truth can be realised and made effective in yourself.

Faith in the existence of the Truth is not enough. You must have faith in yourself, in your readiness and capacity to reach to it and receive it in yourself. You must have confidence in your ability to brave all the countering elements and stick to the pursuit. You must also be sure that you have the strength of will and power in you to fulfil the demands of the Path and respond to the needs of the situation from moment to moment. A strong faith in your capacity is itself a sign that the strength is there, not fully expressed perhaps, but in potentiality waiting to be developed and brought out.

But the highest human capacity is not enough to realise the Divine Truth, especially the supramental formulation of it which is new for the human seeking on earth. It needs the help and guidance of one who has already established contact with it in himself. It is he, the guide, the Guru, who communicates to you something of his power, śakti, and leads you on the path through the link so established, that is more important than yourself in the sadhana. You must have faith in him, in the Guru. The faith is the channel through which you reach him without any special effort and his presence becomes active in you. No doubt the Guru is benevolent to all who come to him or who look up to him. His Grace flows to all, helping them to fulfil their aspirations in whatever field. But for one whom he accepts as his disciple and allows to follow his footsteps the Guru’s help is active in an individual way suited to his needs, it is a special concentration for a special end, unlike the general Grace which is open to all like the rays of the Sun.

This is the threefold faith which is indispensable at the outset. Equipped with this faith you enter the Path, take up the discipline, the sadhana, to realise the Truth in view. But no sadhana can be pursued effectively and with palpable results unless its immediate objectives are clearly defined, so that the effort may be channelled in those directions and progress measured in their terms:

Peace, Power and Light are the threefold aim of Sadhana

The first object of sadhana should be to rise above the normal conditions of restlessness in the being, movements of thought-activity and vital impulsions which hold you their prisoner, and to attain to a certain aloofness and calm. Calm is a condition in which the consciousness is at rest, free from disturbance, whatever be the movements on the surface. This calm can indeed be attained by the rigorous method of the traditional yoga of Patanjali — an incessant suppression of all thought- movements. But the method Sri Aurobindo gives is simpler and more natural. Here it is:

There is a Silence behind every movement
Be open to it. Instead of attempting to get hold of the Silence, be open to it and let it get hold of you.

There is a background for everything. Every movement moves upon something. And that something is a Silence which upholds everything. It is not only a general background but it is there supporting and containing every individual movement. Conceive mentally, at first, of this Silence at the back of everything, including your own mental activity. All the thoughts and mental movements come and go against a base that is ever stable. That is Silence. Suspend for a moment your thought-activity and you will become conscious of the presence of this Silence. This Silence is at the back of your head, your word, your very being. Think of this Silence again and again and try to become aware of it. By a steady digging in of this idea in your consciousness, this fact will become a reality to you — not merely for the mind but for the rest of the being also. Into this Silence you must learn to relax yourself. You cannot get it by force, what you may get by concentration does not usually last beyond the spell of that concentration. Instead of trying to get at it, simply relax, call and let yourself lie in the folds of the Silence. That will slowly come over you and claim you.

This is the first condition for an effective beginning in sadhana. There should be this calm. But know it that in its true nature it is not a mental calm which is perceived in between two thoughts or experienced when there is a suspension of thought-activity or a reduction of their momentum. It is a spiritual calm which is not dependent upon any outer circumstances and which grows into deeper and deeper intensities as one grows into the higher or deeper states of consciousness. The highest Calm is totally different from the calm conceived by the mind.

The Supramental Calm is different from the mental calm.

The Calm deepens into a Peace, a dynamic Peace, the Peace that bears all creative movement and makes it possible. All action proceeds from out of Peace because the Power that initiates and moves all activity is inherent in the Peace. This Peace is not an inert existence or state. It is dynamic, Power issues out of it and fulfills. You have to aspire for that Power the Shakti, to take up and fulfil the Yoga in you when you have acquired the needed poise and stationed yourself in the Silence.

And when the Power begins to work on the bosom of this Silence, there is an ebullient joy, a delight of the Being which articulates itself through the psychic centre. Delight, Bliss, is inalienable from the Divine Power. It is a mistake to think that sadhana is all struggle and strain. That may be so, in certain cases of tapasya. But in a sadhana in which you surrender yourself to the Guru and the Mahashakti that operates the Yoga of transcendence of Nature and its transformation, the movement proceeds on other lines. Struggle is only so long as you do not surrender fully but rely on your own effort. With progressive surrender there is also a progressive joy of self-giving, a movement of an Ananda which courses in the being without any apparent cause. It is different from the pleasure and happiness of the world which are caused by external factors. This is causeless, ahaituka.

As the sadhana proceeds, you will receive intimations of the progress registered, the distances covered and the heights you have scaled, in many forms, the most convincing of which is the revelation of Light. The Supramental Truth is bodied in Light, it is bhārupa. It shines on its own plane, as a Sun, a Spiritual Sun of which our physical sun is a material symbol. From this Light emanate all lights, tameva bhāntam anubhāti sarvam, all forces of creation issue out of this Divine Savitr. And the radiations of this Truth are heralded by luminous flashes of Light.

The Supramental Truth descends in the form of Solar Light.

The Yoga of the Supramental necessarily implies the expansion of your consciousness beyond its physical confines. In the process of self-enlargement, in the spread of your being from plane to plane, it is possible, if not inevitable, that you come into contact with the forces and beings of other planes, for instance the subtle-physical, the vital and so on. And not all of them are favourable to your progress. They are not happy to see you pass beyond them. They try all methods to arrest your progress: they may allure by offers of powers or riches; should they fail to secure your acceptance, they may proceed to threaten you with dire consequences. But whatever they do, do not be afraid:

Keep to the Quiet and with the strong faith in you, you will surely get over the risks from the Astral in your progress towards the Supramental.

The Grace of the Guru, the protection of the Yoga-Shakti are there and they act unfailingly in the Quiet which should be a normal poise of your consciousness. The inner faith comes readily to the surface when you hold to this Quiet and are not lost in the passions of the moment. Not to fear is the first step. The next is:

Watch carefully the movements and forces and forms, meet them as forms or forces of the One Supreme Being above in the Supramental.

Not to be afraid is a negative step; the positive one is to face all whom you encounter as emana­tions from the One Divine whom you are seeking; and, indeed, it is so. For all forces, all forms are ultimately derived from the Divine; they are That essentially whatever may have been the deviation in the course of manifestation. Before a concentrated gaze which goes to the essential truth of their existence, these forces and forms are not able to stand for long.

The Yoga-Shakti does not work in one part of the being alone, say the heart, or the mind only. It may start that way but as soon as it comes into its own and the ādhāra is sufficiently open to its placings, the whole of the being is taken up and the work proceeds simultaneously on all fronts. Now more stress here, now less there, but all the while the pressure is constant. In this Yoga the sadhana does not proceed from centre to centre as in the Yoga of the Tantra, but all over at the same time. Different parts take the lead at different stages under the pressure of the Yoga Force.

The Supramental works through the body the Prana, the Psyche the mind, as the necessity of your system may require. Keep the gains separately. This is the key. This is the key to this Yoga.

Thus the mind, the prana, the psychic part, the very body are the fields for the operation of the Sadhana Shakti. Whichever is more ready is taken up as a starting point. But as the sadhana proceeds, all the parts share in the progress, each one develops. But this is not a haphazard movement. You are expected to follow the developments in each part, organise the gains in each for its further growth and of course relate it to others. Care should be taken to see that what obtains on one level of the being, in one part, is not mixed up with things on another. Thus for instance, dreams, a dream on the vital plane has different meaning from a dream on the mental. A psychic dream has an altogether different significance and value. Again, each part of the being receives and formulates the Higher Consciousness in its own characteristic way. The Divine Consciousness expresses itself as Knowledge in the mind, as Love in the Psychic, as Power in the vital, аs Beauty, Rhythm in the physical. Each part is to be built up into a perfect mould of the particular formulation of the manifesting Divine. In the analogy of the Four Bowls fashioned out of one bowl by the Tvashtri of the Veda, you have to endeavour to perfect each main part of your being into a separate personality, a body as it were, the mental, the psychic, the vital, the physical — all fusing together to form one Harmony of the perfected being natural to you.

Natural to you, because each one has his special type of perfection to build and manifest. The stress in each nature is different and the perfection of each nature is correspondingly various. This is a fact which shall not be lost sight of:

You must grow conscious of your part your special stream of consciousness.

Perfection brings in the question of the transformation of the physical being which is the crux of this yoga:

The perfection of the Yoga lies in transforming the physique in terms of the Supramental.
nything short of it may be useful in other lives.

The physical body, the base of Matter, is to be transformed. The body is as important in this Yoga as the mind or the soul. A spiritualisation or even a supramentalisation of the mind, the heart, the life force is not enough to effect transformation of the human into a divine being. The physical body, the solid foundation of matter, representing as it does the litter concentration of Inconscience is subjected to the work of the Yoga-force which has to break through into this fortress of nescience and flood its corridors of subconscience, inertia disease and death with the Light and Power of the Supramental in their undeflected and unmodified charge. This is the final step, but until that step is completed, all others remain incomplete. If it cannot be done in this life, it has to be attempted again in the next. You have to proceed further from where you leave — or are obliged to leave — and for that, what is achieved now can be the starting base.



Her Instructions (personal to me) on different occasions


When we accept, we put something concrete, call it an emanation if you like. That guides and does the Sadhana.

Here is the essence of the relation between the Guru and the disciple. This is not a relation of the type that obtains between a teacher and his student, between a superior and a subordinate, but something sui generis. Even when the Rishi of the Veda speaks of the disciple as being reborn in the womb of the Acharya as a son, much still remains to be told. For in truth the Guru is much more to the disciple than a father is to the son. As the Tantras put it, the father gives physical birth into the world of Ignorance, but the Guru gives a spiritual birth of deliverance in the realm of Light.

Once the Guru accepts someone as his disciple, he puts something of himself in him. This is not a mere metaphor or a way of saying that he extends his influence over him. It is a concrete relation that is established. A part of him, a special formulation of his consciousness and being, an emanation, goes forth and stations itself m the being of the disciple. Thenceforth, it is this projection of the Guru that leads and guides the disciple even without the necessity of physical attention and verbal guidance of the Guru. In fact it is this power of the presence of the Guru that does the sadhana. The disciple has only to allow it to function. He has to ‘keep the temple clean’, make himself pliant to its workings and offer to it a constant support of faith, devotion and loyalty. He owes it to the Guru not to allow any movement in himself that might touch the Guru adversely.

For this relation has its bearings not only on the disciple but on the Guru also. In accepting the disciple as his own and taking up the burden of his seeking, the Guru takes upon himself the Karma of the disciple. Every movement in the life of the disciple has its own repercussions in the Consciousness of the Guru[3] with which he is connected through the link purposefully forged by the Guru. The disciple lives in the subtle extended being of the Guru and naturally all that he does has its inevitable effect on the latter. The good that the disciple does, the higher aspirations and Godward movements that he builds up, go to nourish and upbouy the being of the Guru even as his opposite movements tend to act in a negative way. Similarly, every new development, every reinforcement from on High in the Consciousness of the Guru has its immediate effect for the upliftment of the disciple.

The Guru is always present in the disciple. His emanation, once it is lodged there, continues whatever the failings of the disciple in human eyes. As long as he has a fundamental faith in the Guru — whatever may be the temporary aberrations or deviations due to weaknesses of nature — the sānnidhya of the Guru is there unaffected. It is only if one turns traitor or loses faith and wilfully walks away from the Guru, that this emanation withdraws and the relation ceases.[4]


The thought-movement covers, when the aspiration grows, the covering will go. The Heart opens.

Sadhana in this yoga does not proceed through mental deliberation, vicāra. It is a Shakti whose origin is beyond the highest summits of the human mind, the Yoga śakti that is released into operation in the ādhāra by the will of the Guru, that works on the consciousness, prepares it, purifies it, enlarges it and effects the change gradually from the human state to a state that is increasingly divine. Man is a mental being and it is natural that he tries to follow these movements in the sadhana in a mental way. He applies his reasonings and interprets the workings of the Shakti in line with the samskāras of his mind. He anticipates developments in the way of his limited mind and when the actual workings do not fit into his conceptual mould, he is bewildered, or his thought activity interferes with the natural movement of the Yogaśakti and forms a sort of covering over it. This has to go. One has to recognise the limitations of the mind, perceive the interference of its habitual thought-activity and silence it. It is to be confined to its rightful role of discrimination and stopped from poaching into a field which is beyond its legitimate scope. This is done by the exercise of will, by aspiration for a higher light and deeper consciousness to replace the mental. As the aspiration grows, as the intensity of the seeking gains strength, the activity of the thought mind thins. Instead of the mind, it is the Heart that comes into action. The Heart is the centre in the depths of which is situated the psychic being, the inner soul of man and when this centre is opened, the psychic influence begins to operate, the mental coverings dissolve and the sadhana gathers a new momentum.


The light must enter into all the corners.

The aim of this Yoga is to lift up the being of man out of its normal formula of body life mind in Ignorance and transform it into a divine being in terms of Knowledge, Power and Ananda. This involves a radical and thorough transmutation of every part from the highest to the lowest layers of the being. A general illumination in the mind, a certain universalisation of consciousness in the heart, a purification of the life-energies, are not enough. Every corner and level of each part of the being must be brought into the focus and treated to the charge of the Light and the Force of the Divine Consciousness active for the purpose. Many are the stratagems of the falsehood and the ego in human nature to hold to their fiefs. An uncompromising earnestness and sincerity alone can discover these veiling movements and expose everу corner to the transforming Light.


You will receive help from me.

The Mother’s Help is comprehensive. It makes no distinction between the spiritual and the mundane, the higher and the lower, but goes forth to meet and remedy the situation whatever it is. To Her all life is a manifestation of the Divine, and every sphere of it is entitled to divine attention. Her sole criterion is what is good for the soul, good for the development of the person in evolution, and not what he fancies to be his good or need. Her assurance of Help means a release from Her Consciousness of a Force missioned for the purpose, and it is ever present with the person, ever awake and ever active even without his conscious awareness. The Mother’s Help does not simply meet the situations as they arise, solve the difficulties as they come up, but it is a conscious Agent which foresees forestalls and fore-arranges the sequence of events.


[1] Later published in the book “THE MOTHER” by Sri Aurobindo.

[2] Flame of White Light by T V Kapali Sastry.

[3] I am reminded here of an evening when the Mother was sitting at the Ashram Playground surrounded by a few devotees. Suddenly She felt Her arm as if there was some pain at the spot. When asked about it, She just remarked that it was due to a specific wrong movement on the part of somebody in the Ashram.

[4] Even here it depends upon whether the turning away is on the part of the outer being alone while the innermost being the soul continues to hold to the Influence. In that case the withdrawal is not complete. It is possible that the person comes back after a struggle.

These materials appeared originally as a part of “Collected Works and Papers of Sri T.V. Kapali Sastriar”, ed. M.P. Pandit, Sri Aurobindo Ashram, 1965, and published here with a minimal formatting for online presentation.

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