October 18, 2007

Milton’s Sankhya

Book of Fate—Narad shares identity with the dumb spirit
by RY Deshpande on Tue 16 Oct 2007 05:17 PM PDT Permanent Link [Based on a talk given at Savitri Bhavan on 13 April 2006—Part III. A good deal of material presented here has been drawn from my book Narad’s Arrival at Madra.]
Narad has no idea about these aspects, of the materialisation of the psychic being, and the additional Chakras, though he is quite aware of the “dangerous brink”, of the moment when all will be won or all will be lost for man. Narad is a spiritual being stationed high above, very high above, bordering on the supramental; he is essentially an overmental being and his concern, his operation is in that relationship only, in its possibilities. In fact, had he been a supramental being he would not have been able to come here, visit Aswapati. That process of materialization is not yet available.

We have to perhaps read implications of some of these clues in the reverse process of Narad’s communion with the dense Matter:

Into solid Matter’s dense communion
Plunging and its obscure oneness of forms
He shared with a dumb Spirit identity.

Spirit’s identification with Matter means, it becomes the Upanishadic Food, Anna, the base which supports material things. In another experience, it is the Eucharistic Bread and Wine. Participating in the holy sacrament is a communion which could be of different degrees. In the causal Matter the communion would be creative and nourishing and dynamic, Spirit and Substance flowing into each other, the former energising and the latter determining and moulding the potent expressive urges; there would be an intimate and firm identity. On the other hand, in solid Matter which is weighed heavily by the Inconscience, the communion would be clumsy, onerous, burdensome, uncertain. The character of Matter at this stage is, apart from its gravity, one of obscurity. This can be seen in contrast to communion and oneness of the gnostic being with the Creator within him where the relations of gnostic being with gnostic being are an “expression of their one gnostic self and supernature shaping into a significant power and form of itself the whole common substance.” (The Life Divine, p. 978) Presently, the dense communion is with the dumb Spirit. Narad shares it when he comes down to this last stage in his descent from Paradise; his identity with the obscure oneness of form is the dumb Spirit’s.

There is an interesting point made by Milton, as to how the elements change into each other. This pertains to the visit of Raphael to Adam in the Garden of Eden; the visit was to warn Adam about the danger that may come to the new creation under temptation. He was specifically sent “to render Man inexcusable, to admonish him of his obedience, of his free estate, of his enemy near at hand.” Adam sees him descending on his Paradise and tells Eve to welcome him with a feast in his honour. While they are having a sumptuous dinner, the Angel gives details to Adam about the process of transubstantiation and how the corporeal becomes ethereal. Incidentally, we may remark that, whereas Raphael’s forewarning remained unheeded, the parallel situation in Sri Aurobindo’s epic pertaining to Narad’s visit on the wings of the divine inspiration initiated Savitri into Yoga to meet the eventuality of the death of Satyavan. Savitri’s positive thrust is reassuring.

In the Garden of Eden, as the feast prepared by Eve was being enjoyed, Raphael explains in minute details how the corporeal turns into the incorporeal: (Paradise Lost, Book V)

…Therefore what he gives
(Whose praise be ever sung) to man in part
Spiritual, may of purest Spirits be found
No ingrateful food: and food alike those pure
Intelligential substances require
As doth your Rational; and both contain
Within them every lower facultie
Of sense, whereby they hear, see, smell, touch, taste,
Tasting concoct, digest, assimilate,
And corporeal to incorporeal turn.
For know, whatever was created, needs
To be sustained and fed; of Elements
The grosser feeds the purer, Earth the Sea,
Earth and Sea feed Air, the Air those Fires
Ethereal, and as lowest first the Moon…

Milton’s description is partly Platonic, partly Christian-theological. But what is missed in all these formulations is the force of Nature deployed by the great Agent to produce the material world, a world though in likeness one with him yet, being a creation, somewhat different from him. Milton’s Sankhya, more specifically, speaks of the corporeal turning into the incorporeal through the process of concoction, digestion and assimilation of material alimentation; but we are not told anything if the reverse is at all possible. This is important in the context of Narad’s present appearance in a physical body. Did Raphael appear in the Garden of Eden the way Narad had when he paid a visit to Aswapati, through the Sankhya procedure of materialisation? If Adam and Eve were in flesh and blood, like us, Raphael ought to have undergone the same transmutation in establishing communion with matter. But nothing is told to us about it. Narad’s undertaking through the soul-space, and then through the five elemental stages, finally leads him to identification with the dense earthly stuff; herein the subtle becomes the gross. If we are to get some understanding of this process, then we will have to go to the theories of the material creation of the Indian tradition having their profound beginnings in the Veda. In these systems the five elements are actually the five causal evolutionary stages through which the boundless creative Energy evolves itself in terms of the manifest universe. The Sankhya gives the description of Purusha and Prakriti in this context. It might be surmised that some of these ancient Indian ideas had travelled to other countries in the course of early unknown history, but in those countries the full context remained disjointed.

There is a truth in the idea of transubstantiation though the modern mind thinks that it contradicts common sense. Of course, it does; but the modern mind has no capacity to get to the profundity of its truth. Nor can it be called a miracle, simply because we cannot comprehend the occult of it. The doctrine claims that the bread and wine used in the communion ceremony is changed in substance, so that what is bread and wine to all the senses is, in fact, the body and blood of Christ. What a wonderful possibility opened out if only we can grasp its deeper and truer esotericism, its mystic-spiritual significance! In it is the hope of the substance changing into that of the body, blood, soul and divinity of Jesus Christ himself. In it is indeed the Real Presence. When we do not know the process, to us it looks to be a mystery; when it does happen without our coming to know of it, it appears to be a miracle. But reason should admit that there are things beyond reason, that it should be reasonable to itself. Hamlet-like, we have to hold that there are things in earth and heaven we can hardly imagine.

Let us read St. John 6:

By the miracles of the loaves and fishes and of walking upon the waters, on the previous day, Christ not only prepared his hearers for the sublime discourse containing the promise of the Eucharist, but also proved to them that he possessed, as Almighty God-man, a power superior to and independent of the laws of nature, and could, therefore, provide such a supernatural food, none other, in fact, than his own flesh and blood.

But it seems that, regarding transubstantiation, Christ was talking more of the future possibility than of an immediate event leading to the transformation of the physical body. The threefold food is the feast of tomorrow and not of the present. Moses dispensed Manna; the heavenly Father is the bread of Heaven, Christ himself offering later his true flesh and blood. That will be the Holy Communion in the fulfilment of the Eucharist ritual, if we are to say in that manner. That will be the Real Presence declared in “This is my body—This is my blood.” In it are included all the three, Body and Soul and Divinity. Such is the concept totally beyond Grecian formulations, and of course beyond the rational mind of our own time. It is even said: “St. Augustine was deprived of a clear conception of Transubstantiation, so long as he was held in the bonds of Platonism.” One can well understand this. Nor is it just conversion, a change or transmutation from one into another, but transformation itself. In it the substance itself undergoes a fundamental metamorphosis. In it is the commune tertium, in it is the substantial union of materia prima and forma substantialis.

It is because the Spirit identifies itself with Matter that Matter has hope. What is the hope, therefore, Narad is bringing to us? But he brings the Word of Fate. By his action he sets free the spring of providence, of the cosmic Future. Such a vast action is in his identity with the destiny of the earth. It is to promote this destiny that he rushes to Madra to meet Savitri and her parents. Narad shares identity with the obscurity of Matter and, as he has done that, there is hope that the see-saw game will stop and the glory and the marvel usher in a new day, the Everlasting Day.

The heavenly sage from Paradise has accomplished his task: he has delivered the Word of Fate; he has justified the ways of God to Man, proclaimed the bright prospects of the ecstasy and the transfiguration. He had timed his visit well, reaching Aswapati’s palace in Madra just one hour before the return of the jubilant dreamy princess, after making the discovery of her love in the distant land. Narad has done his job; he has done his job ably, competently, with finesse, and now he is ready to depart, he is ready to go back to his home in Paradise, his far-off home away from mortal sight. (Savitri, p. 462)

He spoke and ceased and left the earthly scene.
Away from the strife and suffering on our globe,
He turned towards his far-off blissful home.
A brilliant arrow pointing straight to heaven,
The luminous body of the eternal seer
Assailed the purple glory of the noon
And disappeared like a receding star…

He has gone back to his abode in Paradise with the epic speed of sight and sound. But the stamp of his mission is permanent in the spiritual chronicles of the earth. He has gone, swift like a golden arrow, but still

A high and far imperishable voice
Chanted the anthem of eternal love.

Having completed his mission, which is a threefold assignment, the sage goes back to his happy and agreeable country, iştam deśam, as the Mahabharata would say. He must have resorted to the same technique by which he had prepared his physical form when he arrived in the palace. The dissolution of that form must be by the reverse Sankhya process of materialisation. Again, Sankhya must enter into the process.

On his way to the earth Narad sang five songs. During the return journey it is the anthem of eternal love that he is singing. While coming down he saw the cosmic Being, Virat Purusha, at his cosmic task. He sang of Ignorance and Fate; he sang the name of Vishnu and the birth; he sang of darkness yearning towards the eternal Light, and death that climbs to immortality; he sang of the Truth that cries from Night’s blind deeps, and consciousness waking in beasts and men;

He sang of the glory and marvel still to be born,
Of Godhead throwing off at last its veil,
Of bodies made divine and life made bliss,
Immortal sweetness clasping immortal might,
Heart sensing heart, thought looking straight at thought,
And the delight when every barrier falls,
And the transfiguration and the ecstasy.

And as he sang the demons wept with joy
Foreseeing the end of their long dreadful task
And the defeat for which they hoped in vain,
And glad release from their self-chosen doom
And return into the One from whom they came.

The four great Asuras who had gone very far away from the Supreme, who had separated themselves from the Supreme, are now happy to return to the Supreme. Narad is singing the arrival of such a moment. Such is the power of Narad’s song, that the demons should weep with joy. When did he compose that song? Or who composed that song for him? We do not know. How long it must have taken for Narad to sing the five songs? Perhaps four hours. Could that be the time Narad had taken to travel from his home in Paradise to Aswapati’s palace? Could that be the time for a spiritual being to become the mental-physical, manomaya, upon earth? But let me leave these questions for you to answer. At the time of his departure he simply says: Let noble and auspicious things be to all! sarvéşām bhadram astu vah! Let us simply say, Salutations to Narad! Salutations to Narad! Keywords: SriAurobindo, SCIY, Savitri, Poetry, Gita Posted to: Main Page .. Poetry INTEGRAL YOGA IY PHILOSOPHY SRI AUROBINDO .. 'Savitri' A Spiritual Biography of Savitri ZAADZ RELATED 11:09 AM

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