August 17, 2006

The Life Divine yoga is new

Disciple : Did you read Maitra's article?
Sri Aurobindo : Yes. He seems to be confused : he has over-stressed the ethical and tried to explain the spiritual idea from the ethical stand-point. The Gita's idea of doing work without desire is too subtle for the modern mind and so he has made it "duty for duty's sake". The Euro­peans do not make any distinction between the true self and separative ego; for them it is one. Take the case of doing work without desire for the fruit. Now, if there is a separative Self then, from the rational point of view, why should not one expect the fruit of his action ?
Disciple : Perhaps, it is due to the influence of Christianity in which the idea of serving the poor finds a place.
Sri Aurobindo : But the Christian idea of service from dis­interestedness is quite different from that of duty for duty's sake which is a rational stand-point. Christian service is done as God's will, – that is a religious law. When reason got the upper hand over religion it began to question the foundation of religion and then the rationalists advocated the doing of duty for the sake of society, as a social demand. The rationalists have fragmentary ideas about these things. It has become
Page – 126
difficult now to study philosophy – there are so many new ones, like the poets !
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Charu Chandra Dutt wrote a review of the "Life Divine" in the Vishva Bharati. When it was read out to Sri Aurobindo he said:
He may continue it, it may be for some people an introduction to "Life Divine".
But you may draw his attention to the following points.
i. He states: "there can be no escape for the Spirit embodied in matter except through an integral yoga".
If we accept that position then the goal set forth by the Adwaitwadins becomes impossible of realisation. What I say is not that it is impossible but that such an escape could not have been the object for which the world was created.
ii. He says that I derived my technique from Shanker.
That is not true. I have not read much of philosophy. It is like those who say that I am influenced by Hegel. Some even say that I am influenced by Neitzsche because I quoted his sentence: "You can become yourself by exceeding yourself".
The only two books that have influenced me are the Gita and the Upanishads. What I wrote was the work of intuition and inspiration working on the basis of my spiri­tual experience. I have no other technique like the modern philosopher whose philosophy I consider only intellectual and therefore of secondary value. Experience and formula­tion of experience I consider as the true aim of philosophy. The rest is merely intellectual work and may be interesting but nothing more.
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Disciple : In a text-book of the Hindu University for the B.A. degree there is selection from Tagore in which he states that: Kalidas was very much touched by the immorality of his age and he deplores it in the "Raghu vansha"
Sri Aurobindo : That is a new discovery – if he says so.
Disciple : Kalidas we know as one who is not particular about morality. His Malvikagnimitra depicts the king Agnimitra falling in love with a dancing girl who turns out to be a princess. So also, in his other poems like Rati Vilap he mentions women in the state of drunkenness and is not shocked.
Sri Aurobindo : He is one who is attracted by beauty, even when he is attracted by a thought or philosophy it is the beauty of the thought that appeals to him.
Disciple : Tagore has said in reviewing 'Shakuntala' that the love which Dushyanta felt for Shakuntala at the first sight was only passion, a result of mere physical, at most vital, attraction. But when he meets her again after separation in the Marichi Ashram his love has become purified and there was no element of passion in it.
Sri Aurobindo : That is not at all true; all that one can put from one's own imagination. But Dushyanta is not shown outgrowing his vital passion in Shakuntala, he was made to forget it by the power of the curse. That does not mean that his attraction has lessened.
Disciple : I am reminded of the controversy about the date of Kalidas's works. Bankim took part in it. The question was whether 'Raghuvansha' was written first or 'Kumar Sambhava'.
Bankim decided that 'Raghuvansha' must have been a later composition. In support of his contention he referred to two slokas : One in Rati Vilap (Kumar Sambhava) and the other in Aja Vilap in Raghuvansha. He argued that in the former the expression of grief was that of a young man, while the latter shows a more mature temperament.
Sri Aurobindo : It does not follow at all, because the sub­ject-matter is different. In the one the physical bereave­ment is to be described according to the nature of Rati. A poet uses expressions suitable to the occasion and the character.
In fact, Kumar Sambhava seems later than Raghu­vansha, though Raghu is more brilliant; Kumar is more deep and mature. If you grant the common belief that Kalidasa wrote only the first 8 cantos of the Kumar then it does not seem logical that a man like Kalidasa would complete Raghu leaving Kumar unfinished.
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A. wrote an article in the Calcutta Review about ''The Advaita in the Gita".
Sri Aurobindo : He finds the idea of transformation of nature in the Gita and also other things contained in The Life Divine. I don't see all that in the Gita myself.
Disciple : A's contention is that there are hints and sugges­tions in the Gita that can mean transformation. For ins­tance, it says that one must become the instrument in the hands of the Divine. Then it says : putā madbhāvamāgatā – "those who strive become pure and attain to my nature of becoming". Also : nistraigunyo bhava – "becomes free from the three modes."
Sri Aurobindo : There is no transformation there. The supramental transformation is not at all hinted at in the Gita. The Gita lays stress on certain broad lines of the integral supramental yoga : For instance:
1. Acceptance of life and action.
2. Clarification of the nature of the Transcendent Divine.
3. The Divine Personality and its Transcendence.
4. Existence of two Natures – parā and aparā.
Disciple : It speaks of the Para Prakriti and says that advanced souls attain to the Para Prakriti.
Sri Aurobindo : The Para Prakriti there is used in general terms.
Disciple : Yes. I don't find the transformation in the Gita. The exposition of the levels of consciousness beyond mind, their functions, a clear, rational Statement of intuitive consciousness, inspiration, revelation, and the ascent of the consciousness through the Overmind to the Supermind – these things are quite new and not found even in the Upanishads.
Sri Aurobindo : I think so; the Gita only opens out the way to our yoga and philosophy. Among the Upanishads only the Taittiriya has some general idea of the higher terms. The Veda treats symbolically the same subject.
Disciple : Suppose there is transformation in the Gita, one can ask what kind of transformation it is, – spiritual, psychic or Supramental?
Sri Aurobindo : It does not speak of transformation; it speaks of the necessity of action from a spiritual consciousness – according to it all action must proceed from a certain Spiritual consciousness.
As the result of that action some change may come about in the nature which might amount to what may be called transformation. But in the Gita the instruments of action remain human throughout (the Buddhi etc.). It does not speak of the intuitive consciousness.
In our ancient works there is no conception about the evolutionary nature of the world, or rather, they do not have the vision of humanity as an evolutionary expression of the Divine in which new levels of consciousness gradual­ly open up, or are bound to open up. There is no clear idea of the new type of being that would evolve out of man.
If all that is contained in The Life Divine is found entirely in the old systems then it contradicts the claim that this yoga is new, or at any rate, different from the traditional methods. Perhaps A. was trying to synthesise the Gita and The Life Divine, (laughter). Page 129– 130

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