Integral Yoga of the Future
Sri Aurobindo was sitting in the Karmayogin office at 4 Shyampukur Lane in Calcutta. It was the evening of 14 February in 1910. His young associate Ramachandra Majumdar brought the information that the police have issued an arrest warrant for Sri Aurobindo. “Go to Chandernagore” was the quiet voice he heard. Sri Aurobindo stayed in the French colony of Chandernagore from 15 February to 31 March 1910. But the place was not safe enough. He again heard the voice telling him: “Go to Pondicherry.”
Sri Aurobindo received the divine command to go to Pondicherry and soon he was there in the afternoon of 4th April 1910. This was the place chosen for him as the Cave of Tapasya to carry out the spiritual mission he had come to fulfil. It became also a foreordained meeting place when from Paris the Mother arrived here four years later. It was the high Destiny that had guided them and brought them together. They had a task to do and the calling was upon the possibilities of the spirit entering into the dynamics of life. About it Sri Aurobindo wrote in an early letter that it was a severe and painful work. But it is to that that he had committed himself, unmindful of any hardship or difficulty. God-given and God-won was his strength and in it he attempted all and achieved all. He did what he had come to do.
great events had preceded this arrival of Sri Aurobindo here in
Pondicherry. He had just in one year experienced both the passive
and active aspects of the Brahman, something that takes years and
years of yogic sadhana. The first was during his brief visit to
Baroda in January 1908 when he was actively engaged in the independence
It was in the Jail that Sri Aurobindo saw Vasudeva everywhere, in trees, plants, men, in the prisoners, in the court, in all. Here the Gita was placed in his hands and here he received the spiritual guidance. This incarceration had for a while shaken his faith in the protection he believed he unfailingly had while he was in the midst of his political activities. But an assuring voice advised him to wait and see. In truth, however, there was something else that was foreseen and planned for him. He grew calm in that reassurance. He was to renounce all self-will and become the Divine’s passive and faithful instrument. It is in that total submission that his tapas-will began to grow. It became an intense flame blazing in the day as much as in the night. The course of his life was now chartered for a different purpose altogether.
Not too long after his arrival in Pondicherry, and perhaps before 16 January 1912, a detailed programme of Yoga was given to him. This was called Sapta Chatushtaya or the Seven Tetrads,—a system consisting of twenty-eight elements put in seven groups. In their natural and logical order these Chatushtayas are the Chatushtayas of Samata (Equality), Shakti (Force or Power), Vijnana (Truth-Knowledge), Sharira (Body), Karma (Action), Brahman (Reality), and Siddhi (Accomplishment or Perfection). Later in the Arya these seven Chatushtayas were briefly presented in the Yoga of Self-Perfection forming the fourth part of The Synthesis of Yoga. But as the Yoga-Tapasya of Sri Aurobindo and the Mother started to arrive at the nitty-gritty of the physical transformation, the Will of the Divine in the active dynamics became more and more luminously assertive. However, there was always the sense of robust pragmatism in the whole approach. For instance, in his noting dated 13 November 1913 of the Record we have rather a baffling statement of far reaching consequences. While on the one hand it clearly foresees great possibilities of the Avataric work, on the other there is also an unambiguous definition with regard to the results. Sri Aurobindo writes:
A clear distinction must now be made between the vidya-avidya-siddhi [Siddhi of Knowledge-Ignorance] which is constituted by the seven chatushtayas and the higher Amrita [Immortality] in which all limitation is removed and Death etc entirely cease. Only the first will in this life be entirely accomplished.
This could as well imply the limitation of the Seven Chatushtayas in so far as the higher Amrita is concerned. But that was specifically the problem both Sri Aurobindo and the Mother were addressing in their long yogic pursuit.
In this connection we may also recall the note Sri Aurobindo had written on 28 October 1934 apropos of his book The Yoga and its Objects which was first published in 1921. He clarifies that it represents just the early stage of sadhana and “only a part of it is applicable to the Yoga as it has at present taken form.” As this book and the Seven Chatushtayas belong to the same period 1912-1921, we should be cognizant of the historical perspective of these yogic formulations. We should also be aware of the fact that the sadhana of transformation was actually waiting for the Mother’s final arrival at Pondicherry. For the larger collective sadhana involving the difficulty of the lower nature and in view of the hostility that is there all around, it is very necessary that the psychic being emerge as its unfailing guide.
Belonging to the same early period we have a particularly significant prayer of the Mother, which is dated 15 December 1911. This was quite before she met Sri Aurobindo. The prayer is an aspiration soliciting the Sun of Truth, the Supreme Light to
… pervade us entirely and illumine with its great brilliance our minds and hearts, all our thoughts and our actions.
It is remarkable that even before Sri Aurobindo and the Mother met, in the afternoon of 29 March 1914, there was already an identity of objective in their divine undertaking. As Sri Aurobindo writes in one of his letters, they were in material and spiritual contact with each other since his coming to Pondicherry. But the identity was in fact at a much deeper level. Even before the actual meeting took place she was significantly speaking of “us” in a few contexts. Thus we have the Mother’s revealing prayer of 11 January 1914:
I know that a day will come when Thou wilt transform all those who come to us; Thou wilt transform them so radically that, liberated completely from the bonds of the past, they will begin to live in Thee an entirely new life, a life made solely of Thee, with Thee as its sovereign Lord.
Again, on 11 August 1914 the Mother speaks of their being sent upon earth to prepare the Unknown’s ways. The Unknown One, she says, is waiting for the propitious hour of manifestation in which His Will will be done. Indeed, behind their coming together there was the Divine Will itself. It was in that Will, in that high samkalpa that everything was going to be worked out. In it was to be born the propitious hour. The gleaming foundation of the Integral or Purna Yoga is present in it. It is the Yoga that aims at divine perfection in this evolutionary creation and it is for that they had come. It is for that they passed through the portals of death, that there be life not governed by death but by the manifesting truth.
It means that as more and more the Tapas-Will of the Divine Yogi grew in course of the Sadhana, more and more did the Divine Shakti pour her transcendental powers in the dynamics of the work. Not Knowledge, which in reality was already there, but Action of the luminous executive Force was what had to be brought into the operational mechanics. All his Siddhis including even those of the early days truly pertain to this aspect of Action.
If in these Siddhis of Sri Aurobindo we see an ascending series, then we also begin get an idea about the nature of Integral Yoga of the Future itself. To make ourselves ready for the freer and greater functioning of the Divine Shakti in us is what we should be occupied with. Our life, life that is presently governed by Ignorance and Death, has to become an expression of the truth-conscient Being who is also the Being of Ananda. This has to happen even to the last bit of our physical existence. Even as we go from death to immortality, so too must that immortality rush into a thousand workings of this creation. Not the Vedantic power as the giver of liberation nor the eminent Tantric force to get mastery over nature, but the conscious superintendent Energy has to take charge of our being and our becoming, our swabhāva and swadharma.
We may mention here en passant what Sri Aurobindo wrote to Motilal Roy sometime in the middle of 1913. “Tantric Yoga is not yet of the first importance for us, the perfection of the basis of Vedanta is the one thing supremely important; for that cannot be perfect until this has been developed at least to a certain point.” But it is also true that control over the occult gives a definite precision to the spiritual. While the Mother herself acquired those siddhis of the occult, her own approach was towards the psychic coming forward and taking charge of the sadhana. Later in the deeper context of the physical transformation the luminous occult had to be dealt with when the spiritual siddhi could provide the needed support or adhār. Ultimately it is the Shakti who is going to do the alchemic miracle of the physical transformation. She has to be allowed to work in us.
There are of course conditions for this to happen. We have to do a long and arduous preparatory tapasya. Our triple effort of aspiration for all that is divinely greatening, rejection of whatever comes in the way of the higher working, and surrender of our thoughts and feelings and movements, of our soul and our spirit to the Shakti has to go on until we become truer instruments for her unhindered action in us. As shall the tapas-yajna grow, and the golden flames leap up, so will she herself descend into it and carry it forward in that brightening wideness, into those operating regions of the truth, the right, the vast where are present the Spirit’s immensities. Our will shall become an effective part of the Divine’s Will. By the power of tapas-sacrifice, of offering ourselves to it, or complete surrender or samarpana to it, shall our aspiration gain the speed that the Vedas speak of. It shall bring to us the plenitudes of truth and consciousness and bliss. We shall thus become the possessors of the treasure which, as Vamadeva says, is in heaven and is on the earth, they enriching each other. The Rishi spoke of the golden body of Agni that is free from evil and so shall be ours.
When the Fire of Tapasya is set ablaze this way, the Radiant Power herself emerges from the flames, ready with the boons to transform our mortality into the beatitude of life. Indeed, our life first becomes the Shakti-Yajna itself, a sacrifice offered to the Mahashakti. Then it can grow into the Yajna of Transformation. Then from the fire of this sacrifice emerges the radiant Goddess ready to grant boons to the aspirant soul. We have an example of this in the tapasya of Aswapati as presented in the legend of Savitri, a legend that is at the same time a pregnant symbol also.
Aswapati is issueless and desires to have a son to perpetuate his ancestral line. In that way would the continuity of the Vedic Yajna be assured. In fact it becomes an aspect of the dharmic duty itself and Aswapati wishes not to fail in it. It is in the dharma alone that the order of the society can be maintained and he is keen to uphold it. Thereupon Aswapati retires to the forest and engages himself in the worship of Goddess Savitri. He is devout in nature and is firmly established in the truth. Everyday he offers one hundred thousand oblations to her. Observing all the vows of the sacrifice, he does arduous tapasya for eighteen long years. The Goddess is immensely pleased with him and grants him a boon, the boon of a radiant daughter who will be born to him soon. She also tells him that the boon has the sanction of the Creator-Father Brahma himself. The birth of a radiant daughter or kanyā tejasvinī is therefore already marked by a high intention. It carries in it the Supreme’s Will itself. In this narrative the birth of the Shakti from the Yajna-Fire under the high sanction has all the yogic elements present in it and we can well link them with the Integral Yoga of the Future. We should also mark the fact that Aswapati, even before he undertook the Yajna for invoking the Divine Birth, was firmly established in the Truth. There was already present the ādhār-siddhi or the needed spiritual support.
Incidentally, it is pertinent to note that Aswapati’s daughter Savitri in the original story as given to us by Vyasa is described as an adept in the Yoga of Meditation, dhyānyogaparāyaņā. Thus, for instance, just before going to the forest on the fated day when Satyavan was to die as foretold by Narad, she pays her obeisance to the Tapasvins and receives their gracious benedictions. By entering into that Yoga of Meditation she fixes their Word of Truth deep in her soul. Indeed, Savitri is now in possession of the occult power of that Truth-Word with its yogic efficacy for the forthcoming action. It is in the merit of this Truth-Word that victory against all unfriendliness and antagonism can be won. To be open to the Truth-Word and prepare oneself for its dynamism in action is something which has to become a part of Integral Yoga of the Future.
About the effectiveness of the Yajna, we may take one specific example from Sri Aurobindo’s Savitri. This pertains to Savitri’s encounter with Death when all her assertions in the Truth seem to fail against his hostility. It marks a major stage in her attempt to win back soul of the deceased Satyavan.
Intent upon her silent will she walked
On the dim grass of vague unreal plains,
A floating veil of visions in her front,
A trailing robe of dreams behind her feet.
But now her spirit’s flame of conscient force
Retiring from a sweetness without fruit
Called back her thoughts from speech to sit within
In a deep room in meditation’s house.
For only there could dwell the soul’s firm truth:
Imperishable, a tongue of sacrifice,
It flamed unquenched upon the central hearth
Where burns for the high house-lord and his mate
The homestead’s sentinel and witness fire
From which the altars of the gods are lit.
As a result of this kindled Yajna in her deep meditation’s house, at once there takes place a sudden change in the course of the events:
The mortal led, the god and spirit obeyed
And she behind was leader of their march
And they in front were followers of her will.
Along with the witness Fire we also witness the power of Sacrifice, of the Vedic Yajna that is going to give winning strength to Savitri. In it is going to be decided the fate of her mission and with it the uncertain fate of the evolutionary travail itself upon the earth.
The occult Fire that burns in the central hearth in Savitri’s House of Meditation is the eternal Yajna itself, the Yajna being performed by the Sat-Purusha as the house-lord with his mate Chit-Shakti seated along with him for the great Action. Although a small Yajna is constantly being performed in the heart of each one of us, this Yajna of Savitri is unique, primordially extraordinary. Hers is the transcendental Yajna in which is the power to dissolve ignorance and death, that divinity inhabit this death-bound life. And the wonder is, this is the very possibility that the Divine as luminous Death has himself now opened out in this earthly existence of ours. When we live in the flaming spirit of her Yajna, then all these thousand Yajnas of ours also get kindled. In them is there the prospect of the golden body or hiranya tanu of the Vedic Agni being born.
Savitri steps into that House of Meditation and her “silent will” joins with the Will of the Divine. Such again is the nature of the Vedic Yajna going on in her deep heart where the individual’s will becomes one with the Supreme’s Will. Indeed, in that identification we also possess the rightful free will for all action. In it we can make our own choice because it is then a choice in the possibilities of the Truth and hence bears an authenticity as bright as that Truth itself. “In our activities is expressed the conscious Will or Shakti of the Spirit. To know that will in ourselves and in the universe and follow it to its divine finalities” becomes the truest culmination of Yoga. As the tapas-will grows in us so too it produces its own realizations. There is the related heightening of our lower nature. It gets illumined and energized by the descending powers of the Divine. God as the manifesting Self or Spirit, Nature as his executive Power, Soul in the play of the divine multiplicity,—each then finds its corresponding term in our life’s fulfilment.
As the tapas-yajna grows in intensity we gain more and more faith in the divine Shakti herself working in us. When this happens in a settled way the Spirit's omnipotence finds a wider expression not only in us but also in the world. Nothing then stands against its reaching out what is willed to be accomplished. In it knowledge, strength, divine skill of the work, love and delight begin to bring to Nature the perfection of the Spirit. Indeed the divine Shakti then “carries with her the supreme sense of the masteries of the eternal Ishwari, a rapid and divine capacity for all kinds of action. The intimate feeling of her presence and her powers and the satisfied assent of all our being to her workings in and around it is the last perfection of faith in the Shakti. And behind her is the Ishwara and faith in him is the most central thing in the Shraddha [Faith] of the integral Yoga.”
When this is done the powers of the Spirit start entering into the sacrificial flames of life. Even as the supramental Mahashakti “brings pouring down her luminous transcendences from the ineffable ether”, the human nature changes into dynamic divine nature. Indeed, in that great transformation we acquire in a thousand ways the freedom of the Spirit itself. Our will becomes participative in its free will. There cannot be conflicts between the two and in the rhythm of the Truth, in the free play of the possibilities each will and each action is allowed to run its course of delight. When we exercise such a free will of ours in harmony with the truth-nature of things, we become truer centres of activity founded in the Will of the Supreme. Our tapas-will becomes a part of this Tapas-Will in which takes birth a new creation. Brahma created these countless worlds by doing Tapas, say the Puranas. So can our tapas-will become participative in the glory of its manifestation.
Let us take an example of it from Savitri which is the spiritual autobiography of the twin supramental Avatar, Sri Aurobindo and the Mother. It is a grand revelation of what he has done for this mortal creation.
The divine protagonist in the epic comes as Aswapati to do Yoga-Tapasya in the world of men. The objective of this Yoga-Tapasya is to take the present evolutionary process to the next decisive stage with the divine Real-Idea or Vijnana as its foundation. After the mental being who has been here for all these dull millennia here must now arrive the race of gnostic beings. A new creation progressing in the wideness of the Real-Idea is inevitable in the scheme of things and it must be established. There are two aspects of it. The first is to do the needed occult-spiritual work, that this creation be formed in the transcendental region of the Spirit. The second aspect is to make it a living reality upon earth. In order to achieve the first, Aswapati the Yogi par excellence does the difficult triple sadhana consisting of the individual, the universal, and the transcendental,—Jiva Yoga, Vishva Yoga, and Uttama or Paramochcha Yoga. He experiences a wide immortal hush that was present even before the gods were born and awaits the definitive decree of the veiled One. In response to his call the heavenly power of Love and Sweetness in all her wisdom founded in the Divine leaps down and accepts the travail of the world. In it is won the Spirit’s ultimate victory. In that tremendous moment a new and marvellous creation in the House of the Spirit takes shape:
… from the trance of that tremendous clasp
And from the throbbings of that single Heart
And from the naked Spirit’s victory
A new and marvellous creation rose.
Incalculable outflowing infinitudes
Laughing out an unmeasured happiness
Lived their innumerable unity;
Worlds where the being is unbound and wide
Bodied unthinkably the egoless Self,
Rapture of beatific energies
Joined Time to the Timeless, poles of a single joy;
White vasts were seen where all is wrapped in all.
It is a new creation overflowing in the expressive joy of the transcendental Spirit. A possibility in the omnipresent reality was willed and it is that which got actualized in it. It is not that this creation was already there, pre-existent in the domain of the Truth as are the hierarchical worlds, that he simply stared upon a distant peak in Darien, or that for the first time a new planet in the upper sky came into his sudden view. It indeed sprang out of the very Tapasya of Aswapati. He willed it and created it. In it are the worlds of beauty, love, sweetness, joy, harmony, knowledge, power and
… in these new worlds projected he became
A portion of the universal gaze…
His mind answered to countless communing minds,
His words were syllables of the cosmos’ speech,
His life a field of the vast cosmic stir.
He felt the footsteps of a million wills
Moving in unison to a single goal.
Aswapati’s samkalpa has borne a rich and beautiful fruit. To creatively exercise one’s will in the Divine’s Will is an act of yogic greatness and is fully in consonance with the dynamics of the Truth. By this deed what was not there has been brought into existence. The possibility has become manifest in the Spirit. The joy of creation is the most intense joy and it finds its freest and most vast play when one lives in the rhythm of the widening Real-Idea.
Now this actualized possibility in the Transcendent has to become a realized part of the earthly evolution. But this is a work not of the Divine Being or Purusha but of the Executive Force or Prakriti. It is the work of Shakti and the Yogi-Tapasvin has to approach her for its fulfilment. This is what Aswapati does. He offers his prayer to her and persuasively beseeches her to incarnate herself here. He knows that it is she who alone can do it. However, she has reservation in the beginning and cautions Aswapati not to force the issue. Truth born too soon might shatter the very structure on which he wants to build something divinely superior, she advises him. She tells him to let things happen in the natural course of Time. But Aswapati is not happy with what he is told and instead makes another proposal. While the advice is one aspect of the high Wisdom, there is also the merit of asserting one’s will when it is well founded on that Truth itself. In that sense Aswapati is not disregarding the counsel given to him, but in the freedom of the Spirit that upholds a thousand possibilities he is putting forward another possibility. The boon is granted to him and the Shakti herself takes birth to make the new world a reality here. His will compels her mortal birth. Creating a new world by his Yoga-Tapasya and insisting upon her to incarnate herself here, that what was created be realized upon earth, are the two mighty acts of his will carried out in the freedom of the Spirit’s Will. Aswapati’s will has given to evolution a new turn.
We may therefore affirm that in the Integral Yoga of the Future we have freedom, true freedom to exercise our free will which can also get recognized as a possibility in the Possibilities of the Infinite. Freedom of Action in the Truth,—that is the compelling element of the Yoga of Tomorrow. It is by Tapas that Freedom itself grows in the Delight of the Spirit and to make it grow even in the measures of Time is a valid sense of this manifestation. But the aspect of the will to open out a new possibility is only its first term. The matching aspect of a firmer realization is as important.
Aswapati’s work is done and now Savitri’s has to begin. To will is the Purusha Yoga. To accomplish what the Purusha has willed is the Shakti Yoga. By this difficult alchemic Yoga she has to make manifest what has been willed. Without her he remains unmanifest. Let us have a brief look at some of the events chronicled in the Mother’s annals.
In her prayer dated 25 September 1914 the Mother asserts that the Lord has already willed the birth of a new world. There is a happy confidence that the work in which she has been engaged will soon be accomplished. She affirms that the hour of its realization has now arrived. The prayer is addressed to the Divine Mother who is she herself, as can be discerned from the context:
The Lord has willed and Thou dost execute:
A new Light shall break upon the earth.
A new world shall be born,
And the things that were promised shall be fulfilled.
In 1956 the Mother declared:
Lord, Thou hast willed and I execute,
A new Light breaks upon the earth,
A new world is born.
The things that were promised are fulfilled.
This was after the supramental manifestation which took place on the golden Wednesday, 29 February of that year. Some time later, in a talk in July 1957, the Mother clarifies that this new world was not just a continuation of the old world, widened or improved in its scope and in its contents. But “what has happened, the really new thing,” she says, “is that a new world is born, born, born. It is not the old one transforming itself, it is a new world which is born.” The time had arrived and the thing was done. This creation which was already willed four decades ago has now been supramentally established in the earth’s subtle physical. There is no doubt that this new world was willed by the Lord, by Sri Aurobindo himself whom the Mother always addressed so. This is very clear from her 1956-declaration: “Lord, Thou hast willed and I execute.” The change from “Thou dost execute” of 1914 to “I execute” in 1956 is occult-spiritually packed and is very consequential.
In the course of his long Tapasya, of those forty years or so, Sri Aurobindo must have not only founded the new world in the House of the Spirit,—as we plainly read it in his autobiographical Savitri,—but also worked to make it a reality upon earth. From the few dates of its composition that are available we may surmise that this might have been sometime between 1938 and 1942. Sri Aurobindo’s next concern was to bring it down by invoking the descent of Supermind upon the earth. His withdrawal as an act of yogic will hastened the pace towards its realisation.
Sri Aurobindo found it expedient to make a strategic move in 1950 when the difficulty of bringing down the Supermind in the physical became more and more acute. In fact, he had remarked to the Mother just a year before this that for their work one of them would have to go. It had become necessary to descend into death for “consciously experiencing and transforming death,”—as Georges van Vrekhem puts it. Perhaps Sri Aurobindo had already foreseen such a possibility when in the Record he wrote in 1913 that the Siddhi of the higher Amrita might not be in this life.
In 1946 the Mother of Delight or Anandamayi Mata had come down into the earth-atmosphere and there was a perceptible change everywhere; but no support or ādhār was available for her action. She is the one who has the greatest power of transformation of the body and therefore for her action to become possible another route had to be discovered. Sri Aurobindo willed it and prepared it through the act of supreme sacrifice in the Yajna of the Divine. It was not a sacrifice in the traditional or conventional sense; but it was an act of yogic will. It was, as the Mother says, a practical way of achieving something that otherwise was not happening. Indeed, it was the Yajna of the Divine to prepare this unyielding matter to respond. By Yajna in which grows the Will-Force is achieved whatever has to be achieved.
Now what the Divine Being or the Ishwara has willed has to be made manifest by the Divine Shakti or the Ishwari. She has to lift up the golden hammer and shatter the golden lid that separates the world from the Supreme. But all this has to happen not by passing through the door of the sun, sūryasya dvāra as the Upanishad says, but through the door of death. That is an aspect of the Shakti Yoga when it comes to the question of dealing with the inconscient nature. If until now death had been a sharp and cutting instrument in promoting a certain growth of life on the Path of the Spirit, it ought to become a transformed instrument to remove all that is malignant so that even the physical might be an expression of the Divine’s joy of existence. The dark wounding path has to become the sunlit path in its brightest sense. To tread this path is to follow the Integral Yoga of the Future. The Mother’s sadhana in the physical as greatly foreseen in Savitri and as it progressed during the period 1956-1973 is full of that significance.
On 14 March 1970 the Mother spoke of the work Sri Aurobindo had given to her. He himself had, after 1950, willed and worked so much for the physical life to be governed by the higher consciousness that it became now possible for it to change into an authentic life. But it had to be translated into the process of Time. The Mother was here to achieve it. Soon within just a few years she found that “the physical is capable of receiving the higher Light, the true Consciousness and of manifesting it.” This is what Sri Aurobindo had told her. The emphasis was on the higher Power working in the physical, of manifesting in it. However, as of 1967 the work on the whole had remained yet undone, although a bulk of it was already accomplished. In fact, she had the early certitude also of it being done. There was even a conscious prayer from the cells of the body to the Supreme: “O Supreme Lord of the universe, we implore Thee, give us the strength and the beauty, the harmonious perfection needed to be Thy divine instruments upon earth.” Now the age-old illusion that the physical is incapable of opening to the higher Consciousness was altogether removed. The body started responding to it, joyously submitting to it with an attitude of “It is as Thou Willest, Lord, as Thou Willest.” The body was no more as it was, said the Mother. The progress was such that it started breathing divinity, started living in divinity.
“What Thou Willest, What Thou Willest,”—that has been the Mantra of the Mother since the very beginning, since her early Prayers-days. In the course of time it became occult-dynamically more efficacious, particularly in the context of the physical bearing the Power that is pressing to manifest. “What Thou Willest, What Thou Willest” is in fact the “receptive surrender” or samarpana of the cells of the body and becomes a key movement in the entire process. It is the Mantra of Transformation, the Word whose charged esoteric body can hold the power which makes that realization possible. The Vedic Rishis used the Mantra to climb the ascending slopes of heaven. The Tantric Siddhas established its Shakti in the subtle physical. The Bhaktas by hymning the name of Vishnu attained psychic-spiritual union with him. Indeed, even as the Mantra becomes an operative means for achieving spiritual progress, so also in turn that progress itself makes it more and more powerful. Greater and greater force gathers in its luminous body. We may see this as one aspect of the progress of the Mother’s sadhana over the decades. In “What Thou Willest, What Thou Willest” she discovered the direct Word of Realization in the Physical. All the might is present in it.
When the Mother’s sadhana entered the stage of awakening consciousness of the body’s cells, she found that they started chanting constantly the name of the Lord. They were all the while imploring the Lord for the strength and the beauty, for the harmonious perfection needed to be the divine instruments upon earth. “Om Namo Bhagavate, Om Namo Bhagavate” became the specific Word of Realization. The Mother even spoke of the path that was never trod by anyone. Sri Aurobindo had done it in principle, she said on 26 November 1960. But she also added that the details had to be worked out. In fact it was in that context that sometime in 1949 he had decided to go. “You alone can do the material thing,” he told her when it became imperative that one of them had to depart to do the work from a different level altogether.
To make the body’s cells awake to the divine reality was an unprecedented task and the Mother had to discover the means for accomplishing it. It is here that she found the power of the Mantra coming to a definite aid in fixing the higher subtle-luminous in the dark and crude gross. She even suggests (19 May 1959) that Sri Aurobindo would have recognized its efficacy had he reached this stage of the sadhana of the body. The constant repetition of the Mantra gives “a kind of precision, a kind of solidity” that is essential to hold that divine reality in the physical. Only Japa or repetition of the Mantra has direct action on the body. While she was engaged in this intense Japa-sadhana, she was actually invoking “the Lord of Tomorrow”.
All along the problem had been the mind of the physical. Sri Aurobindo had even said that when the physical’s mind opens to the supramental force and light, that is, when the Mind of Light is established, then can begin the actual process of transformation. This is precisely what Sri Aurobindo was occupied with during his last few years when the golden influx was flooding his entire being. This Mind of Light he gave to the Mother as a parting gift at the time of his passing away, on 5 December 1950. He had given to her earlier the Silent Mind, on 30 March 1914 when they met the second time. Thus the whole Yoga-Tapasya of Sri Aurobindo got automatically and spontaneously established in the Mother. In the richness of that Tapasya she was engaged in the Yoga of Transformation, the Rupantara Yoga, the work that Sri Aurobindo had given to her.
Let us recall here the parable we have in the Aiteraya Upanishad: “The Spirit gathered the Purusha out of the waters and gave Him shape and substance. The Spirit brooded over Him and there were the Gods. They said to Him ‘Command us an habitation that we may dwell secure and eat of food.’ He brought unto them the cow, but they said, ‘Verily, it is not sufficient for us.’ He brought unto them the horse, but they said, ‘Verily, it is not enough for us.’ He brought unto them Man, and they said, ‘O well fashioned truly! Man indeed is well and beautifully made.’ Then the Spirit said unto them, ‘Enter ye in each according to his habitation.’ … [and] Death became apāna, the lower breathing.” Death is the seizer of food by which the form is nourished, food which is the Breath of Life. Life in the present evolutionary context cannot grow without death. In its absence it becomes stagnant. In fact, it can even get swallowed by darkness of the primordial Night. The occult fire that is sustained in the stars, asserts Savitri in her forceful debate with the God of Death while claiming the soul of deceased Satyavan back from him, is fed both by life and death, death playing a complementary role to life in the overall progress.
The great stars burn with my unceasing fire
And life and death are both its fuel made.
Life only was my blind attempt to love:
Earth saw my struggle, heaven my victory…
Indeed, a very mysterious process accepting the circumstances of life as it is nourishes our urge towards immortality, which in turn is nourished by an equally enigmatic as well as stiff ordaining agent of creation. But if the transcendental immortality has to be housed here in Man the Mortal, here upon mrityuloka, then he has to exceed himself. He has to become Superman. Vijnanamaya Purusha or the Being of Knowledge has to arrive here. The well fashioned and beautifully made Upanishadic Man cannot be the ultimate crown of this great endeavour. The problem is the physical and it is in the physical that the new tapasya has got to be done. We have to acquire the golden body, hiranya tanu, of the Divine Agni. The Integral Yoga of the Future has this as its aim.
This well fashioned Man is presently endowed in his subtle physical only with seven Chakras or centres of occult energy. What is below him and what is above him have not yet entered into its swift functioning. The rush of the Kundalini Force, of the occult Pranic or Vital Energy in these seven Chakras is a great beginning but in the veritable Yoga of Transformation what is necessary is that the two Chakras below the body and the three above have to materialize and become operative. This is what the Mother was told long ago by her occultist teacher Théon, and it was her experience also. For these Chakras to come into operation it is necessary to do another type of occult-spiritual tapasya. It is only then that the physical can respond to the working of the higher consciousness-force. A new body is necessary for this, a body that must emerge out of the Yajna of the Shakti. In it must be kindled the golden flames invoking the rush of the divine existence-substance as the basis of life in truth-conscient delight of the manifesting Spirit. But how exactly the new body will be made that could not be said or disclosed in the thirties. This however became the main thrust of the Mother’s sadhana during the last fifteen years or so of her work. The Mantra-japa she had discovered was one possible method to achieve this.
The Mother was concerned with the almighty powers that are shut in the body’s cells. She awoke them. Not only that. The cells started joyously vibrating and opening out more and more in the aspiration for the Divine. She said: “I have been sent upon earth to do the work of supramental transformation and the bringing about of the new creation, and I have been trying to do this...” Sri Aurobindo had indicated that the new golden body is to be first formed out of the inner mental, inner vital and inner physical renewed and reshaped. The difficulty that notably comes in the modus operandi is that of the inner physical with its stubborn mind. While this mind, mind within matter, was gainfully formed under the pressure of the difficulties present in the unevolved obscure stuff, it also inherited those very harsh difficulties. If this mind,—the Mind of Night standing across the path of the divine Event as we might see in Savitri,—is transformed, then the transformation of the body can follow “quite naturally”. The Mother found Mantra-japa to be a definite aid towards this. She was repeating everyday 1400 times the Mantra “Om Namo Bhagavate.” When her disciple who recorded her revelations was doing the same Japasadhana for longer hours “it cracked”. To hold the power of Mantra there is also needed an appropriate yogic support; there has to be a proper ādhār for it. Possibly it was a specific Mantra for the Mother for a specific purpose. But the important point is, while the Mother was doing the sadhana of the cells with this Mantra, she left the entire result to the Will of the Lord. In one of his talks Sri Aurobindo also spoke of the Mantra that had arisen in him. This was during the Calcutta-period when Lele was with him. Lele asked if he could depend upon it and the answer was “Yes.” Lele then found it not necessary to give him any instruction and he told him so. Later by his Yoga-tapasya “His body’s cells awoke to spirit sense.” In it did the Yogi-Tapasvin create a new world in the House of the Spirit. How marvellous indeed!
If the mind of the physical becomes a difficulty on the path towards a new body, there is another aspect of it also. There has to be a connection between the new body formed out of the inner mental, inner vital and inner physical with the inmost being that actually supports it with the psychic being who is the leader of the evolutionary march. It is the psychic being which will, says the Mother, materialize and become the supramental being. It will cross over into the new species. It is through it that the supramental will manifest itself. Materialization of the psychic being will give continuity to evolution and make more and more progress in the Spirit possible. This materialization means the abolition of death. It means immortality in the material world, upon mrityuloka. Which also means that whatever is not in accordance with the Truth of things will disappear.
In October 1959 the Mother spoke something significant about the new world: “… it is not as if this new world of Truth had to be created from nothing: it is fully ready, it is there.” It is fully ready. Sri Aurobindo had brought it into existence fully. When in one of their occult-spiritual meetings she asked Sri Aurobindo as to when this other world, the real one that is there, so near, would come to take the place of this world of falsehood, he replied: “Not ready.” The Mother was given the charge of this “not ready”-earth; she took its entire burden upon herself. Unmindful of the hazard and the consequence she was actually standing on a dangerous brink. But she knew also that it was only by leaving everything to the Divine’s Will that there could be authentic progress. Sure enough, she was told: “Annul thyself that only God may be.” In it had disappeared the dangerous brink.
“In his will is our peace,” wrote Dante,—and when he wrote it in Italian it became one of the most powerful lines in any poetry. But the Mother’s occupation was with something yet farther than that. Peace for the earth,—all right; but God’s delight in God’s creation,—that’s the thing. Not only peace; calm, oneness, energy, joy, love, and sweetness she asked for earth and men. While she left everything to the Will of the Lord, yet in that Will she had also something to will. Four great times she was given the choice and she made the choice in it. She as Savitri fought against Death and over him won the toughest victory. She the victorious or Vijayini was offered boons of that victory. But she had something else in her will and she did not accept those boons straightaway. She had the freedom to exercise her own will. A similar thing had happened earlier in the case of Aswapati too. He had set aside what he was advised to do by the Power of Divine Omniscience. Instead he made his own persuasive supplication. He wanted the Divine Shakti to incarnate herself and make manifest the higher world he had established in the House of the Spirit. In this free and well-formed will’s employment is the fuller connotation of the Integral Tapasya. It means that the whole being simply lives “only to know and serve the Divine.” To know the Divine, to will and to serve the Divine that his Will be done,—this is what we have to practise.
The first word of this Yoga is surrender; the last word is also surrender,—says Sri Aurobindo. In between these two happy surrenders it is its power that grows when is kindled the Yajna to make our will transcendentally genuine. While we still live under the sway of the lower Nature personal effort is indispensable. But as we become conscious in our surrender, in our Tyaga, in Samarpana to the divine Shakti, it is she who herself leads us to freedom and perfection of the higher Nature. In the degree it becomes wholesome and integral our progress also gains to that extent an assuring speed of the power who then governs all our activities. In the deepening truth of this divine Samarpana we find ourselves actually engaged in Integral Tapasya in the ways of the Divine Shakti. In it the whole being lives only to know and serve the Divine. Finally it becomes “What Thou Willest, What Thou Willest.” Not what we think and see for ourselves, but what is thought and seen for us is all that matters. When there is no difference between our will and the Will of the Divine Shakti, then it is she who takes full charge of our life. Then we acquire our genuine free will. That indeed is the object of the Integral Yoga of the Future. In it our masculine tapas-will joined with the feminine tyagashakti approaches the Spirit’s Tapaswill served in oneness by his inalienable Tyagashakti. In it can then be the truest expression of Krishna-Kali in us. When this is unfalteringly achieved then the Being of Delight or Anandamaya Purusha with his Consciousness-Force or Shakti working for his joy comes down wearing a crown of peacock plumes to play on his flute the Song of New Creation.
This song of new creation is born in the death of Death, in his transformation into the being of Truth, he becoming the unveiled Sat-Purusha. Then begins the real re-creation of the Lord and his Shakti, of Krishna and Kali. When we participate in that manifestive activity of theirs, we recognize them as our Ishwara and Ishwari, she at his service, as his Dasi, governing a thousand wills of ours in the possibilities of the dynamic Divine. “When the Unity has been well founded,” wrote Sri Aurobindo in 1916, “the static half of our work is done, but the active half remains. It is then that in the One we must see the Master and His Power,—Krishna and Kali.” Sri Aurobindo was at that time waiting for the final arrival of the Mother to join him to accomplish the active half of the work.
During the Record-period 1912-20 we see the Krishna-Kali aspect occurring repeatedly as the most fundamental experience of Sri Aurobindo in the context of the Spirit’s dynamism in life. In his noting dated 1 January 1915 he writes: “Kali is now everywhere revealed in the bhāva of the madhur dāsī dominated by Krishna and administering to his bhoga.” Then, again, in February 1920: Krishna Kali relation founded on madhura dāsya is the foundation of tapas siddhi, the power to change the world. In fact the fourth Chatushtaya is full of it. Krishna taking delight in the world, Kali carrying out Lila according to the pleasure of the Ishwara, Divine Action and Divine Enjoyment form the entire basis of this divine dynamism in the creation. Belonging to the same period we also have, as pointed out by Richard Hartz, the early draft of Savitri in which the coming down of Krishna and Kali figures as the finest thing that can happen to us. It is with that most excellent boon that Savitri returns to earth with the soul of Satyavan:
Pursuing her in her fall implacably sweet
A face was over her which seemed a youth’s
Crowned as with peacock plumes of gorgeous hue
Framing a sapphire, whose heart-disturbing smile
Insatiably attracted to delight.
Often it changed, though rapturously the same,
And seemed a woman’s dark and beautiful,
Turbulent in will and terrible in love,
A shadowy glory and a stormy depth,
Like a mooned night with drifting star-gemmed clouds.
This Tapas-siddhi of bringing down Krishna and Kali is the entire purport of the yogic Savitri. Whatever stood in its way had to be removed and the path cleared to usher in the divine Event. In it is won the higher Amrita that was postponed earlier. In it is the Siddhi of the Integral Yoga of the Future, a Siddhi that does not remain static, but by the work of Kali in the will of Krishna keeps on adding to itself realizable possibilities of the vast yet widening Truth-conscient Delight.
“The supramental change is a thing decreed and inevitable in the evolution of the earth-consciousness,” wrote Sri Aurobindo in 1928. The supramental change was decreed by him and he and the Mother had set themselves to work out its inevitability. But to realize it in us there is needed the call and we have to be ready to receive what they are constantly showering on us. Tapahprabhava and Devaprasada, as the ancient Scripture says, together can bring fulfilment to our longings, to our soul’s aspiration. To be engaged in that spiritual growth, to live and work and enjoy divinely in the Divine is the Integral Yoga of the Future.*
* The present article was the basis of the keynote address delivered on 23 May at AUM 2003 in Los Angeles. The Meet was organised by the East-West Cultural Center at LA and I am thankful to the sponsors for all that they did for me.