Inspiring Thoughts, Powerful Words|Jan 29, 2015 4:06 AM| by:

Turning Point

sunrise

I am speaking of an incident that took place about 30 years ago. It concerns our late friend Sri Surendra Mohan Ghosh, whom many of you would remember as a revolutionary who started following Sri Aurobindo and who became the Deputy Leader of the Congress Party in Parliament. He had a special rapport with Jawaharlal Nehru and later with his daughter. He used to visit our Ashram now and then and as long as Sri Aurobindo was there in his physical body he would meet him regularly. Sri Aurobindo would make an exception in his case and talk to him. Ghosh would report to him on developments, national and international, and would seek his guidance which was kept between the two. Later he would meet the Mother. Those of you who are familiar with the developments leading to the Anglo-Egyptian crisis in the late fifties, would remem­ber that Egypt suddenly closed the Suez Canal and there was a great agitation in England and the United States. There were war-like preparations and everyone expected outbreak of hostilities. But nothing happened, things fizzled out and there was no war.

Recalling this, Sri Surendra Mohan told the Mother, “I have never been proved wrong in predicting the international turn of events. I have been accurate all these years but only here in the Anglo-Egyptian crisis my forecast went completely wrong.” Mother smiled and told him, “but you forgot 1956, Feb 29th.” He could not understand it immediately and the Mother told him, “You remember that on the 29th February 1956 there was the descent of the Supramental Force. That has altered the entire balance of events, the course of history. Unknown to people, unobserved, it has brought on earth a Force, a Conscious­ness of peace, of harmony. A war situation of the type you anticipated is not likely to arise.”

Now that was an event that went unmarked by the rest of the world. When we asked, where was the physical sign that something had happened, she said it would slowly make itself felt. And we have seen, watching events in the world unrolling themselves on the world stage, how in a number of situations that could have easily provoked conflict of the type that happened in 1914, 1939, things got settled without war. There was brinkmanship but no war. So much so that some have been very optimistic in anticipa­ting that hereafter there will be no world war. We have been seeing that from unexpec­ted quarters pressures are building up to defuse the situations everywhere. This I regard as a Turning Point in the Cosmic history. Every event of that importance which sets the pace for a century takes place behind the veil because if such things are in the open there is likelihood of interference by the human mind and other extraneous factors.

Since 1956 there have been many new developments. The first thing to which Mother drew our attention is that children born after 1956 are a special batch, conscious, looking to the future, well-formed. This does not apply only to those who come to Pondicherry or to those who turn to Sri Aurobindo and the Mother. I have had occasion to test and satisfy that it is the case everywhere. Children in different corners of the country, children from different parts of the world, have a new look, they are more conscious, they stare at you, they do not cry; they are participators in the new age that is dawning.

When we speak loosely of the 21st Century, each one of us has his own idea of what is meant. Some take it to be an electronic age, some take it to be a nuclear age. Everyone has his own ideas. But what exactly is the connota­tion of the New Age? What is the trend of the formative forces of the world? Analysts have been busy for the last two decades both in the West and in the East, more in the West because there futurology has become a very developed science and they are unanimous in pointing to a new kind of life, a new mind that is on the verge of actualising itself. They point out a number of indicators that there is a clean break with the past and we are on the threshold of a new age. Now what are the contents of the new age? But before we go to the content, what are the signs which are unmistakable?

The first is, all over the world there is a movement for decentralisation. Nature had a technique for a long time concentrating, developing the forces in concentrations and after a while loosening, spreading out. We are at that juncture today when there is decentralisation in every field. There is a relegation, a delegation of authority, of power. We no longer see one leader leading a nation, one saint commanding the loyalty and following all over the world. Everywhere there is a collective leadership.

Similarly I have had occasion to develop the theme elsewhere, the next Avatar is not going to be an individual  avatar but what Sri Aurobindo envisages in the last chapter of ‘The Life Divine’, a collective avatar, a number of individuals who have developed gnostic consciousness, a consciousness of unity, of harmony, in tune with the Divine Consciousness, forming a network wherever they are placed; they will embody the Consciousness and the Force of a collective avatar. There is not going to be one authority, one leader anywhere. Look at any country, everywhere there is a collective wisdom. Where we try to centralise, we go against the Time-Spirit and we break our heads. It will not work. It has to be shared, it has to be distributed. The age of one man leading and thousands following is over. That is the first feature, decentralisation.

The second is what is called de-massification. There was a time when things were being produced in masses, in huge numbers, whether they were motor cars, machines or graduates in the universities. That age also is over. Today there is an emphasis on individualistic character, custom ­made things, emphasis on specialities and not on mass production. The age of an individual quality is dawning on us. We are no longer content to take what is supplied to us, the consumer insists upon having his say on what he is going to use, and what quality he wants.

The third is de-mystification. For thousands of years religion and spirituality have been mystified. They were the preserve of a coterie of individuals and classes, the public and the laity was sedulously kept out. But today there is such an explosion of knowledge in every field that nothing is beyond the reach of the common man if he wants it. No longer are there mysteries in religion, in yoga, in spirituality. Even in science, they are not the preserve of scientists and laboratories, You must have read, some two or three years ago of an incident when a few teenagers manufactured something like an atom bomb and put it in one of the government offices in America, the authorities were alarmed; how did these teenagers come to know of these things, who gave them the secrets? When they were questioned, they brought out some catalogues of companies who were selling the components and had mentioned the use of the components. They had put their brains together and brought into being a kind of atom bomb. Scientific techniques are also no longer a mystery.

Mother mentioned once that a special Truth-Force has been released on earth by which nothing can remain secret. That was at the time of Nixon, when the Watergate scandal started. She explained that nothing could remain secret thereafter. We thought at that time it applied to our Ashram where nothing can ever remain secret, but we found later that it applied to the whole world. Watergate was followed by Lockheed and so many scandals. Even today in India you have seen that nothing can remain secret, everything becomes public. The more they try to conceal, more public curiosity is aroused. This is called de-mystification. Nothing should be hidden from human intelligence. Everybody has a right to know and share.

Next is the revolutionary change in the approach to education. All over the world – it is not a special feature of India – everywhere the educational system has broken down. Nobody has faith in the educational philosophy or the world. Many experiments are going on, some fizzle out, some carry the seeds of new truths, new developments, in themselves. Everywhere it is recognised that education is the only thing that can develop a distinct character and personality of the young and it has to be given the prime importance; for ultimately those who lead, those who will govern are the very people who are being now educated in our institutions.

How long education will remain institutional, whether it is going to be more and more individualised? There is a great debate. There have appeared some research books in England in which they confidently predict, on the basis of statistics, that 20 years hence colleges, universities will remain empty. Centres of learning will form themselves in individual homes. Students will go to universities and colleges only for entertainment which they cannot afford to have in their homes. There will be self-education, not text­book education, in line with what Mother anticipated when in Auroville they built a large imposing structure for a school for children who were either reared in Auroville or came of the indigenous population. And when she was approached for a name, she said ‘The Last School’. She said that hereafter education will not be confined to the four walls of a classroom. It will be co-extensive with life, with a different character.

These are some of the signs of a new age that is coming. We are at a turning point where there is going to be a clean break with the institutions of the past. It is no use our lamenting that old values have gone, nobody respects the parents now, nobody believes in truth, nobody believes in non-violence, everybody is becoming violent etc. These are signs of a transitional age. The old had to go. Whether it is going to go as a result of a catastrophe or breakdown creating new situations more in tune with the Time-Spirit, which is not to have large-scale destruction but local changes. The key word is ‘small is beautiful’, we no longer dream of huge complexes, but individual ones.

One more important development is the coming together of science and spirituality. I remember how once Mother was asked as to whether she anticipated opposition from science to the new spirituality that is on the horizon, a universal spirituality? She said, no, it will come from the old spirituality. And that is what you see in the rise of fundamentalism. Everywhere, whether in a country like America or the Mid-East or in a way in our own country in different corners, it is a protest of the old establishment. Science, instead of opposing spirituality, is today coming to a kind of understanding. Today we understand the full meaning of what Einstein said that every genuine scientist is a mystic. Scientists have come to the border of their knowledge when they say that: they know there is some Cause, but they cannot analyse it; they confess they are in the presence of the Mysterious.

And the ground in which science and spirituality are going to meet, or have started meeting already, is the consciousness of man. In the consciousness of each one of us these two approaches are meeting together. The mind may have failed to analyse, explain but we can experience it; spirituality is no longer something mystical, something technical, it is a very methodical process of exploring awareness, exploring one’s potential in a very scientific way. There has been in the history of the world no greater psychologist, no greater scientific mind in the approach to the human system than Patanjali, who first systematised our yoga. Sri Aurobindo in his writings draws attention to this scientific approach of the Indian mind. He explains in his “Foundations of Indian Culture” that the Indian mind always loved to analyse everything to its last detail and make science of the knowledge that it has formulated. We have a science of elephants, a science of horses, a science of birds. a science of every subject, with a very scientific approach And those who did this, who wrote tomes of scientific expositions, were Rishis; they were those who had discovered the Self who had come face to face with the truth of life, the immutable Self. And from that poise they could see things that were developing, the truths behind every proposition, and they developed this entire corpus of knowledge. We have lost our moorings in our own heritage.

Sri Aurobindo has valiantly tried to present to the modern mind the fundamentals of the Indian contribution to human thought. He was not a propounder of a philosophy but a discoverer of knowledge. And knowledge for him was awareness of the Reality. The Reality, he says, is infinite, eternal. Any true knowledge, by whatever means you arrive at, has to be infinitely wide, open, dynamic, self-generating. He has the boldness to say that no knowledge can be final. When he was asked do you mean to say that even your Life Divine is not final, he said; certainly not, this is what the human mind today can assimilate, this is the furthest to which the mind can go. Tomorrow a new vision, a new system, a new thought, corresponding to the new consciousness that is in the offing is bound to arise.

It is a pity that the vast corpus of literature flowing from the pen of Sri Aurobindo and the Mother is lying untapped. Ever since I have come to this city I have been hearing complaints after complaints, ‘where are your books available, we would like to read them, we do not get them anywhere.’ You and I, all, have to be involved. We know the value of this literature. It is not intended to propagate any cult or to establish a new school of religion or philosophy. It pertains to the future development of the world. Sri Aurobindo wrote for six and half years continuously, he would sit and type straight on the typewriter and the pages would go to the press, sixty four pages of them every month – the Arya. It was stopped after six and half years. He observed that even if he had written seven times more than what he had, he would not have exhausted one-tenth of the Knowledge that was given to him. Even that fragment of Knowledge that he has given contains the lead, the thrust that is necessary to cross over into the new age.

The new age that we are thinking of is not an age of machines, not an age of computers, nor an age of nuclear weaponry but of consciousness. Each yuga, each cycle is distinguished by the quality and the grade of consciousness it embodies. Mankind has come to the tether of the mental development and what is there next? Sri Aurobindo develops the theme, right from the atom of matter to the highest Reality and gives a metaphysics of Life Divine: our aim in life is not salvation but perfection of life, divinisa­tion of life, change of human consciousness into a divine consciousness.

And what is divine consciousness? What route did human consciousness take to develop from the conscious­ness of an atom? He has discussed these themes threadbare, doing full justice to contrary views, explaining why even­ negative and conflicting views had to be aired to clear the ground. And he has given a vision of Divine Life, bringing together the soul and nature, yoga and life, God and the world. They are not alien to each other but mutually supportive. God is not something in heaven but here in life, within ourselves. And how do we link our­ selves with the Reality? That link is within us. He discusses these high subjects in the 1500 pages of Life Divine. He does not stop with presenting a philosophy like most western thinkers or even Indian Acharyas; he gave a method, a way of translating this knowledge into practice and that is the Synthesis of Yoga. Starting with the Yoga of Works, developing the Yoga of Knowledge, dwelling upon the Yoga of Love and finally arriving at the Yoga of Perfection, Self-perfection. This exposition is unparalleled in its range.

(Those who practised this) yoga sought clarification, presented their difficulties. Sri Aurobindo attended to them with exemplary patience. His replies to queries, answers to letters etc. constitute the three volumes of “Letters on Yoga”. There is no similar literature on the exposition of yoga in this detail. This is his contribution to the practical side of spiritual life.

And he did not stop there. He was curious to see whether it was only his own experience or was there any support to his body of knowledge in authentic scriptures. Most of the Acharyas impose their own thought world and interpret things in a manner which can justify their position. So the same texts come in handy for an Advaitic philosopher, for a Visisthadvaitin and equally handy for a Dvaitin. But Sri Aurobindo did not approach the scriptures in this spirit. Nowhere does he twist and interpret things in his own way. He wanted to see if there was any collaboration and he found that there was plenty of support to his vision of unity of mankind, of the common truth between nature and soul, a synthesis of the human spirit. He found it in the Veda, he found it in the Upanishad and in the Gita, he found it in the Tantras. He traced a continuity or ex­perience and thought and went on to present his own vision and experience as an inevitable culmination of the past tradition and also a bridge for the future.

There are other sides to his writings which I do not mention today. I only refer to his epic Savitri of 24,000 lines, considered to be the longest epic in the English language. It is something unique. I do not say it is unique because it’s written by my Master. …the appeal, the impact it has on the modern mind, is something to be experienced. He worked upon the epic for 50 years right from the days in Baroda. He read the Mahabharata, of course, where Vyasa narrates the traditional story of Savitri and Satyavan to emphasise the power of conjugal fidelity but when he perceived that the names of the characters carried certain echoes of some great experience that had taken place in the pre-history of the Aryan race, he developed that insight and went on to celebrate the victory over death for man by the Divine Grace. Savitri is a new testament for a new age. There is no religion in it, no philosophy, no literary effort; it is many things in one. We speak of Mantras; each of these mantric revelations can inspire an age. It can create a new line of history. Savitri is a mantra-mala of Indian tradition. That such a gem of literature is passing un-understood by many moderns is a pity. People of my generation who have been fortunate to be in the pristine inspiration of this literature have been enabled to understand better the thrust of the Indian mind, know why Indian culture is called sanatana dharma, the eternal religion, why Hinduism is not a religion like Christianity or Islam or the Jewish faith or any other religion, but a way of life. Hinduism does not have a founder, does not have a Church, does not have one Scripture, Hinduism does not have one authority for its Knowledge, It is a developing stream of experience.

Sri Aurobindo’s writings constitute a turning point in the development of human knowledge. From fragmentation, from sectionalisation, there is a turn to a broad universal spirit, one that unites not only the world but a number of worlds. Nobody has given such a detailed exposition of the seven occult worlds overtopping our physical with which only modern science is concerned. Are there other worlds? Are there ghosts, are there spirits, are there gods, are there deities, are our prayers really answered, are we not bribing God by praying, does God have any connection with us, is it direct or are there intermediate worlds? Are the seven worlds, saptaloka of the Vedas only a metaphor? How far is the ancient knowledge relevant to us today? How far can that knowledge make us full human beings? Sri Aurobindo faces these questions squarely. This is the turning point. Centuries hence humanity, the advanced humanity will look back to this literature which has ushered in a new age of universal consciousness.

Leading thinkers today have glimpsed this new consciousness; Sri Aurobindo states this is the sign of the coming of the spiritual age. It is preparing, it has already dawned in some places, in some minds on earth. In this spiritual age the truth of the spirit, the truth of the soul, the truth of consciousness, is going to take possession of the race-mind and there will be an effortless realisation of unity, mutuality and harmony. We are on the threshold of a new era when a spirituality is slowly taking possession of the higher mind of humanity. True there are pseudo ­movements to mislead and distract. That was anticipated even in the Mahabharata. Before the Satya Yuga (age of Truth) dawns there will be many false dawns. We are to go through the process. And we are indeed at a critical juncture of human development. There is no going back, there is no denying the truth of life. You cannot escape to heaven or to Nirvana hereafter. The challenge of life is at your door. You are given the vision, you are given the knowledge, you are given the tools to build up a new age.

And what else can a grateful humanity do but imbibe, spread and disseminate this knowledge. Knowledge is power. It is knowledge that will unlock the doors of the future.

M.P.Pandit

(M.P. Pandit came to the Ashram at a very young age. He is the author of a large number of books and articles on Integral Yoga and the Indian spiritual tradition. He was the Chairman of World Union International.)

(Talk given at the Sri Aurobindo Society, New Delhi in April ’89)