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At the Feet of The Mother

Works of Sri Aurobindo: The Life Divine CWSA 21-22 (1)

This is a brief overview of The Life Divine, one of major books written by Sri Aurobindo.

Though Sri Aurobindo never thought of himself as a philosopher nor was keen to be counted as one, yet The Life Divine revealed the philosopher or rather the divine seer in him. After all, that is the true meaning of philosophy, darshana, to see, in the Indian context. Sri Aurobindo too wrote what he saw with his divine vision rather than tried to send a probe to examine truth through a web of thoughts. In a certain sense, all philosophy starts with a seeing, an observation made through the senses or the mind or through science. This observation is then run through the scrutiny and analysis of the rational mind that uses this primary data to draw conclusions about the nature of Reality underlying creation and all things. It is a bottom-up approach so to say. But the yogi realises the folly of our present habitual seeing, in fact of all observation and mental analysis on this data. Our senses are limited and the mind labours under a cloud. The yogi therefore first pierces through this veil of ignorance as it is called in yogic terminology, clears the dust of desires and preferences from his eyes, substitutes a new and diviner vision for our mortal ignorant seeing and then understands the truths in the light of Intuition rather than reason which is an inadequate and partial light. The Life Divine, as in fact the entire Arya, has been thus written. Even the revisions (The Life Divine has been revised in the nineteen forties with few chapters added and a few of them removed) are done in the light of a growing intuition and higher Gnosis. That is why it would be better to say that The Life Divine is more of a spiritual and supramental seeing rather than what is ordinary known as philosophy. It may be however noted that Sri Aurobindo did not discard Reason even as he went beyond it. He used it for its rightful purposes, – to organise and formulate what he had known through his yogic vision. He did not use reason to arrive at Truth but he did use it to present what he ‘saw’ in a systematic and organised way using logic to arrange what he had discovered.

Thus we have in The Life Divine a style of presentation that takes up arguments and counter-arguments before arriving at the Truth towards which he is leading us. This kind of presentation helps in two ways. First, we climb step by step through the intellectual mind aided and held by Sri Aurobindo’s vast and universal and free Intelligence. This mode of presentation is in line with some of the ancient Vedantic methods and finds an appeal with the modern mind as well. In fact, The Life Divine seems to have been written for the high intellectual who is yet seeking for some finality of Truth-vision and comprehensive understanding of things. Secondly, since Sri Aurobindo deals with the possible objections to what he is going to reveal to us at the summits, it is easier for the modern intellectual to accept it. The Life Divine can therefore be called as a systematic presentation of Sri Aurobindo’s metaphysical thought and vision. However, for this very reason, there is a possibility of it being misquoted by picking up a passage where Sri Aurobindo is presenting a counter-argument which will be explained subsequently in the passages and chapters that follow. This is one book that has to be read completely to get the full picture.

The Life Divine has two books within it. The first book lays the broad foundations of what this world and creation. It takes up the perennial question about the Reality underlying this creation. Layer by layer it unveils for us the One Truth that is expressed in different ways at different levels of our being. The grand close comes with the Supramental Truth shedding Its Light all around on everything. This book is like a series of developing scenes and images through which we climb towards the origin of all images. The second book is like filling these scenes with activity and movement. Here we find the revelation about who we are, what is the journey of our life, the steps and stages of our evolution from birth to birth through a brief stadia of death until we arrive at the fullness of our being which is the gnostic or supramental being and the creation of a Divine Life upon earth. Terms and conclusions have been taken from different schools of Indian philosophy and modern science, their different individual truths reconciled with other truths, each put in its place, the outer crust and covering discarded and the inner kernel kept. The whole book thereby is like extracting gold out of raw and mixed gold-dust dug out from the depths of thought. The dust is slowly washed away and the pure ingot of gold given to man. This is the Life Divine and so much more that we cannot utter since words fail and knowledge falls silent as we stand before this mighty and majestic palace of the Gods in whose secret sanctum sanctorum dwells the One who has become the Many. 

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