December 22, 2006

About him we comprehend nothing

Passing through the Portals of the Birth that is a Death
by RY Deshpande on Thu 21 Dec 2006 06:39 AM PST Permanent Link
In The Life Divine Sri Aurobindo writes: “Purusha and Prakriti, Conscious Soul and executive Force of Nature, are in the supramental harmony a two-aspected single truth, being and dynamis of the Reality; there can be no disequilibrium or predominance of one over the other. In Overmind we have the origin of the cleavage, the trenchant distinction made by the philosophy of the Sankhyas in which they appear as two independent entities, Prakriti able to dominate Purusha and cloud its freedom and power, reducing it to a witness and recipient of her forms and actions, Purusha able to return to its separate existence and abide in a free self-sovereignty by rejection of her original overclouding material principle. So with the other aspects or powers of the Divine Reality, One and Many, Divine Personality and Divine Impersonality, and the rest; each is still an aspect and power of the one Reality, but each is empowered to act as an independent entity in the whole, arrive at the fullness of the possibilities of its separate expression and develop the dynamic consequences of that separateness.”

In the cosmic process the Purusha stands aside and allows Prakriti to do all the work of manifestation. In this process one of the first practical and essential things done was to create four qualities or the fourfold soul-force, the four swabhāvas, as the organisational basis. The Purusha handing over the initiative to Prakriti and himself becoming subject to her operational demands is the key step that was taken the moment things were ready for a certain larger and universal collective life. That was the happy optimism of the Purusha Sukta in which the Purusha offered himself to be sacrificed. In the language of Savitri:

He has forsaken his omnipotence,
His calm he has foregone and infinity.
He knows her only, he has forgotten himself;
To her he abandons all to make her great.
He hopes in her to find himself anew,
Incarnate, wedding his infinity’s peace
To her creative passion’s ecstasy.
Although possessor of the earth and heavens,
He leaves to her the cosmic management
And watches all, the Witness of her scene…
He leans on her for all he does and is…
In a thousand ways he serves her royal needs…
His soul, silent, supports the world and her,
His acts are her commandment’s registers.
Happy, inert he lies beneath her feet:
His breast he offers for her cosmic dance…
In the Bhagavata Purana we have the Bhagavati Shakti of Narayana as one who has established the whole universe, nārāyaņé bhagavati tad idam viśvam ahitam. She the executive Force accepts the three qualities,—represented by Brahma, Vishnu and Shiva,—of the supreme Lord in order to give rise to this material creation. The needed support, ādhāra, for her work, for the work of the Prakriti is provided by the Purusha; it is the Being or Pure Existence who offers the vast and firm ground to the Chit-Shakti, the Consciousness-Force; it is the indispensable basis for her to do her work, statis becoming the foundation of dynamis. Hers is a long and arduous and painful task, a task also full of suffering, full of travail. What is a single-aspected oneness in the Transcendental starts becoming dual in the Overmental and lower creations, Prakriti becoming more and more prominent, more and more active than the Purusha. Therefore her personalities are the ones that stand out more distinctly in the cosmic working.

The four powers of the Chit-Shakti or the Divine Mother described by Sri Aurobindo in The Mother belong to this Overmental creation, with the Purusha aspects present only in the background. These four in us are understanding, life-dynamism, the sense of love and joy and beauty, and skill in work, our capacity to attend to minutiae and essentials, they all attaining perfection by which the will in the physical develops, each of the four characterising a certain trait in us, defining our swabhāva. That is how the soul in us grows. In fact it is the soul, the divine residing in us, that becomes an alchemic agent to bring about the transformation of the complex of this nature. These are the qualities or energies, guņas, śaktis, by which the individual as well as collective evolution advances...
After reading the line “life only was my blind attempt to love” the Mother said that it was her experience, that life without death was a blind attempt to love. It would not have won the victory for the Divine, victory over the forces of dark and terrible uncompromising Inconscience, an antagonist shadow thick as the Void. But after winning the victory death is no longer necessary, and all struggle would vanish. Such is the mystery of death.

Elsewhere the Mother tells that the four emanations, those first beings of the universe, the four Asuras, cannot be got rid of so easily, by winning just one war. “As long as they are necessary for the universal evolution they will exist. The day they lose their utility, they will be converted or will disappear… There were four of them. The first one has been converted; another is dissolved into its origin. Two are still living and these two are more ferocious than the others. One is known in occultism as the ‘Lord of Falsehood’, the other is the ‘Lord of Death’. And as long as these two beings exist, there will be difficulties.”...
Sri Aurobindo, speaking about himself, said in letter written in 1911: “I have been kept busy laying down the foundation, a work severe and painful.” A work severe and painful—and it stands to perfect reason that anyone wishing to change the earth-nature must work hard against all odds, against every kind of antagonism, first bear its law, the law of anguish and suffering, must come in contact with the harsh reality of this life, this existence on earth. In a letter written to Dilip Roy Sri Aurobindo quotes a stanza from his own poem A God’s Labour, unpublished at that time, in 1935:

He who would bring the heavens here,
Must descend himself into clay
And the burden of earthly nature bear
And tread the dolorous way.

The heavy yoke of Death and Ignorance he must bear to do God’s work precisely in those conditions. But in the next stanza the description proceeds to make a revealing statement; it is about the deep and occult process by which the Divine Soul carries out his work:

Coercing my godhead I have come down
Here on the sordid earth,
Ignorant, labouring, human grown
Twixt the gates of death and birth...
We have absolutely no conception, no understanding, no idea of the pain taken by the Avatar, the Divine Pain, for the sake of this mortal creature. The Mother says: “People do not know what a tremendous sacrifice Sri Aurobindo has made for the world. About a year ago, while I was discussing things, I remarked that I felt like leaving this body of mine. He spoke out in a very firm tone, ‘No, this can never be. If necessary for this transformation, I might go, you will have to fulfil our Yoga of supramental descent and transformation.’ We stand in the Presence of Him who has sacrificed his physical life in order to help more fully his work of transformation. He is always with us, aware of what we are doing, of all our thoughts, of all our feelings and all our actions.” She told this to one of her attendants on 18 January 1951. And then we have her prayer at the Samadhi:

To Thee who hast been the material envelope of our Master, to Thee our infinite gratitude. Before Thee who hast done so much for us, who hast worked, struggled, suffered, hoped, endured so much, before Thee who hast willed all, attempted all, prepared, achieved all for us, before Thee we bow down and implore that we may never forget, even for a moment, all we owe to Thee. 9 December 1950

He “who worked, struggled, suffered, hoped, endured so much, willed all, attempted all, prepared, achieved all,”—about him we comprehend nothing. What can we know about the Avatar’s passing through the portals of the life that is a death? Perhaps not a bit. RY Deshpande

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