Dr. Hiranmayi Smart
Dr. Hiranmayi Smart
Sri Aurobindo, the incarnation of the Supreme Divine, came on earth to accomplish the special spiritual mission of raising the mankind to the higher level of consciousness, from mental to the supramental, from the human to the divine. For this aim he accepted the human life and its limitations. In the early years of his occupation, he was a professor of English and Vice-principal at Baroda College. Thereafter he went to Calcutta as a principal of the newly-founded Bengal National College. So Education was naturally his own field. But the cause of the freedom of India became his first priority and he took a plunge into it. Sri Aurobindo strongly propounded the necessity of National Education as a much needed foundation for free India. He and the Mother had their original and spiritual approach to Education. On that basis in their Ashram at Pondicherry in 1952 was started the well-known institution named Sri Aurobindo International Centre of Education.
According to Sri Aurobindo there are three principles of true teaching. The first principle is that nothing can be taught. The teacher is a helper and guide. His business is to suggest and not to impose. He does not impart knowledge to the pupil; he shows him how to acquire knowledge for himself. The teacher does not call forth the knowledge that is within; he only shows him where it lies and how can it be habituated to rise to the surface...
The second principle is that the mind should be consulted in its own growth. The gist of what Sri Aurobindo has said is that either the parents or the teacher should not try to enforce their own ideas and preferences into the mind of the pupil. The pupil has to develop the capacities of his mind and expand its potentialities in accordance with his own nature. Sri Aurobindo believes that to force the nature to abandon its own dharma is to do it permanent harm. Every man has in him something divine, something his own, a chance of strength and perfection in however small a sphere, which God offers him to take or refuse. The task is to find it, develop it, and to use it for a noble cause.
The third principle of education is, to work from the near to the far, from that which is to that which shall be. Man carries with him his soul’s past and heredity. Man has his surroundings, his nationality, his country, the soil from which he draws sustenance, the air which he breathes, the sights, sounds, habits to which he is accustomed. They mould him very powerfully. From that we must begin. We must not uproot the nature from the soil in which it must grow. We must not surround man’s mind with images and ideas of a life which is alien to that in which he must physically move. If anything is to be brought in from outside, it must be offered, not forced on the mind. There should be a free and natural growth; it is the condition of genuine development.
Now let us see some of the visionary ideas of the Mother on Education. She expresses here with reference to the University centre:
“We are not here to do (only a little better) what the others do. We are here to open the way of the future to the children who belong to the future.
Anything else is not worth the trouble and not worthy of Sri Aurobindo’s help.”1
The Mother has explained the aim of education:
“...that Sri Aurobindo has taught us how to live and become a true being – and that the aim of education here is to prepare the children and make them fit for that life.
For all the rest, the human ways of thinking and living, the world is vast and there is place out there for everybody.” 2
“It is not a number that we want - it is a selection; it is not brilliant students that we want, it is living souls.” 3
“The aim of education is not to prepare a man to succeed in life and society, but to increase his perfectibility to its utmost.” 4
According to the Mother, a complete Education must have five principle aspects corresponding to the five principle activities of the human being: the Physical, the Vital, the Mental, the Psychic and the Spiritual. She has explained in details each of these aspects. Mostly, people are conversant with the first three aspects of education but the last two aspects (psychic and spiritual) are neither introduced nor taught in our educational system. As a result the student remains unfortunately unaware of the most important and hidden key aspects of his own existence. The Psychic Being and the Spirit are the source and basis on which our life depends for its existence. Their knowledge is at the core of our great spiritual literature, Brahmasutras, Upanishads and Bhagavad Gita. The domain of the psychic and spiritual education does not remain tied to the sphere of limited human mind and intelligence; it soars higher and higher in the free space of Divine consciousness beyond mind and beyond human intelligence. In the Gita Sri Krishna explains to Arjuna:
“Supreme, they say, (beyond their objects) are the senses, supreme over the senses the mind, supreme over the mind the intelligent will: that which is supreme over the intelligent will, is he (the Purusha, the soul).”5
In the free space of higher consciousness, we come across the terms like: vision, experiences, knowledge by identity, spiritualisation, God -realisation, supramentalisation, etc. In this free space of the spirit, the path of knowledge meets the path of yoga and merges into it. In the Integral yoga, Sri Aurobindo and the Mother have given guidance regarding the psychic and spiritual and ultimately the Supramental realisation.
In the outer world, Man must have knowledge of matter in which he constantly moves and interacts. By following the path of knowledge, he learns many languages and their literature, various branches of science, technology, history and geography, astronomy and then he turns to know about the Supreme Divine who has created the universe with the endless variety of all things and all beings.
In the inner world, Man must know the general inner function of his body and also get the knowledge of his vital plane of emotions and the mental plane of thoughts. He constantly remains involved in these planes and receives the experiences they give.
In his inmost self Man possesses the psychic spark or the soul which is the portion of the Supreme Divine. When the psychic spark develops fully, it becomes the psychic being. It is Man’s true individuality; the soul or the psychic being is the real master of his whole existence. Man remains in ignorance until he finds out his soul which is the source of true knowledge. Man has to come in contact with it and allow it to grow, allow it to come to the surface and rule his life. Thus, true education imparts both the knowledge of the matter and the knowledge of the spirit.
Here we are reminded of Mundaka Upanishad. In Sanskrit the word Upanishad means to go and sit near the teacher (Guru) to have the real knowledge. In this Upanishad, Shaunaka, comes to Angiras in the due way of the disciple and asks of him,
“Lord, by knowing what, does all this (that is), become known?”6
Angiras speaks to him:“Twofold is the knowledge that must be known of which the knowers of Brahman tell, the higher and the lower knowledge.”7
Angiras describes the lower knowledge as Rig-Veda, Yajur-Veda, Sama-Veda and the Atharva-Veda, chanting, ritual, grammar, etymological interpretation, and prosody and astronomy. They are concerned with the knowledge of the objects of the world.
Then Angiras elucidates,
“The higher knowledge is that by which the immutable is known.”8
The Immutable is also called the Supreme Divine, the Brahman. He is both far and near. He is very far when we do not see him in our ignorance, limitation and impurity. But he is also near because He is seated in the heart of all beings and He is also in every atom of the universe, the universe which he has created out of himself. The ninth verse, (cht.1) of the Upanishad describes:
“He who is the Omniscient, the all-wise, He whose energy is all made of knowledge, from him is born this that is Brahman here, this Name and Form and Matter.”9
Those who believe only in matter remain engrossed and overpowered by the material objects and their attractions and enjoyments. They lose the sight of the Supreme Divine who is the source and master of all matter. Those who consider only the soul and despise the matter, miss to see the hidden presence of the Divine in the matter and in the world. Sri Aurobindo and the Mother have revealed the real unity of the matter and the spirit and have opened our eyes to see their integrality.
"India has, or rather had, the knowledge of the spirit but She neglected matter and suffered for it.
The West has the knowledge of matter but rejected the Spirit and suffers badly for it.
An integral education which could with some variations, be adapted to all the nations of the world,
must bring back the legitimate authority of the Spirit over a matter fully developed and utilised.
This is in short what I wanted to say.”10
(1) CWM. V.12, P.113 (2) CWM. V.12, P. 117,118. (3) CWM.V.12, P. 118. (4) CWM. V.12, P. 120. (5) The Message of The Gita. (as interpreted by Sri Aurobindo) Third chapter, V. 42) (6) The Upanishads, Sri Aurobindo. Mundaka Upanishad, Ch.1, Section-1, Shloka-3. (7) Ibid - shloka-4. (8) Ibid - shloka-5. (9) Ibid - shloka-9. (10) CWM. On Education, P. 251 (26 July 1965).
Dr. Hiranmayi Smart
Dr. Hiranmayi Smart
‘Aspiration’ has an important place in the Integral Yoga. We shall try to contemplate on this subject today. Talking about Aspiration, The Mother has said:
“If in man the seed of aspiration is watered with the true spirituality then he will grow into Divinity.”1
There is already a seed of aspiration embedded in man. It should be nurtured with true spirituality. True spirituality means the knowledge and realisation of man’s soul or psychic being, secretly lodged in him which is the portion of the Supreme Divine. For this realisation man has to follow the path of yoga. Man can also have the realisation of the Divine in his supreme transcendental status and the realisation of the Cosmic Divine manifested in the universe. If man concentrates on the soul and the Divine, and progresses on the path of yoga, then he will grow into Divinity.
About the aspiration of man which has survived and continued since ancient times, Sri Aurobindo has written in his book Life Divine, “The earliest formula of Wisdom promises to be its last - God, Light,Freedom, Immortality.”2
The same highest aspiration of man is described in a mantric way In Brihadaranyak Upanishad,
असतो मा सद् गमय l तमसो मा ज्योतिर्गमय l मृत्योर्मा अमृतं गमय l ॐ शान्तिः शान्तिः शान्तिः ll
Man always wants to progress and transcend his limitations and incapacities, he wants to achieve perfection. So in this verse the Rishi prays to the Divine,
From the non-being to true being, from the darkness to light, from death to immortality. Om Peace! Peace! Peace!
The Supreme Divine is Sat, Chit, Ananda. He is our true being, our consciousness and true dynamism, our eternal bliss. He is also described as Satyam, Shivam, Sundaram. He is the truth, the good, and the beautiful. Man has always aspired for these attributes and qualities. The supreme Divine is known as Omniscient, Omnipotent and Omnipresent. He is the reservoir of supreme strength and power, peace and serenity, love and harmony. We aspire for these pure, positive and permanent virtues. In short our aim is to rise in consciousness and be even as the Divine. Sri Aurobino has beautifully said in Savitri:
We are sons of God and must be even as he:
His human portion, we must grow divine.
Our life is a paradox with God for key.3
Our aim of life is really very high and great. To achieve this aim one has to be on the path of yoga. In his book ‘The Mother’ Sri Aurobindo has given luminous guidance for proceeding on the path. In the Integral yoga two movements are given prime importance by Sri Aurobindo. One movement is of the ascent on the part of the sadhaka towards the Divine and the other movement is of the descent of the grace and divine forces from the Divine in the receptacle of the sadhaka. This descent is like a stamp and seal of the Divine on the efforts of progress made by the sadhaka. Sri Aurobindo writes:
“There are two powers that effect in their conjunction the great and difficult thing which is the aim of our endeavour, a fixed and unfailing aspiration that calls from bellow and a supreme grace from above that answers.
“But the supreme Grace will act only in the conditions of the light and the Truth; it will not act in the conditions laid upon it by the falsehood and ignorance. For if it were to yield to the demands of the falsehood, it would defeat its own purpose.”4
He further writes:
“In Yoga also it is the Divine who is the Sadhaka and the Sadhana; it is his Shakti with her light, power, knowledge, consciousness, Ananda, acting upon the Adhara and, when it is opened to her, pouring into it these divine forces that makes the Sadhana possible. But so long as the lower nature is active the personal effort of the Sadhaka remains necessary.
The personal effort required is a triple labour of aspiration rejection and surrender, ...”5
Sri Aurobindo has said that the aspiration should be vigilant, constant, and unceasing. It should have the mind’s will, the heart’s seeking, and the assent of the vital being. It should have the will to open and make plastic the physical consciousness and nature. Thus the aspiration includes and integrates the whole being and rises upwards.
Let us end by contemplating on the Mother’s prayer to the supreme Divine:
"Let Thy Light be in me like a Fire that makes all alive;
let Thy divine love penetrate me.
I aspire with all my being for Thy reign
as sovereign of my mind and heart and body;
let them be Thy docile instruments and Thy faithful servitors.”6
Enjoyment and Lordship – Yoga and Divinity
Dr. Hiranmayi Smart
Dr. Hiranmayi Smart
There is a deep urge in everyone’s heart to enjoy and to have happiness in life, but we do not know from where to get the real and satisfying enjoyment and how to procure the everlasting happiness or bliss. As a result of this ignorance we spend all our time, energy and attention in seeking for them at wrong places in a wrong way and when we do not get them, we experience fatigue of the struggle, irritation, anger, violent reaction or frustration. When we attach ourselves to short-lived sense-pleasures, they invariably bring pain and bitter taste with them. This is the situation of the life of a common man. We should also know that our present existence is enclosed in the triple formula of mind, vital (emotions) and body. All the three levels have their own demands and insistences which must be fulfilled, if not, then life becomes a sorrowful chaos. As life draws near to its end, we realize the tragedy of the situation. This is summed up very succinctly by the poet Bhartruhari:
The sense-pleasures are not consumed, We ourselves are consumed.
The askesis is not done, We ourselves are burnt.
The time does not pass, We ourselves pass away.
The desires do not become old, We ourselves become old.
Though our human life seems to be a story of sufferance, it is not meant to be so, in reality. When we turn to our heritage of spiritual knowledge, we get the answers and solutions to all our problems and miseries. The first thing we learn is that the cosmos is created out of the bliss of the Divine.
Secondly we learn that our existence does not consist merely of the three planes of “body, vital and mind” but there are other higher and deeper planes also. The leader of all the planes of our being is our Soul which is the portion of the Divine. We have to discover the soul, unite with it and allow it to govern our life, and then we can be full of bliss. The Sanskrit word Yoga means to unite, to unite our consciousness with the divine consciousness, with our Soul. It is called self-realization or God- realisation. Like the Divine, our Soul is immortal and incarnates Sat, Chit, Ananda. It is the source of eternal happiness, true love, unfaltering strength, ultimate knowledge and everlasting bliss. In the present situation, we do not know that we are the heirs of this wonderful treasure. This is yoga and the aristocracy of its divine wealth, yoga-aishwarya.
Sri Krishna has uttered the words ‘Yoga Aishwaram’ in the ninth chapter of the Gita. There he explains that as the great and all-pervading aerial principle (Vayu) dwells in the (Akasha) the ether, in the same way, all existences dwell in HIM. The ether ever remains unaffected by the function of the air or wind even though they stay and move in the ether. In the same way all existences dwell in the transcendental reality of Sri Krishna but He remains unattached and unaffected by them. Sri Krishna says:
“By Me, All this universe has been extended in the ineffable mystery of my My being; all existences are situated in Me, not I in them. And yet all existences are not situated in me, behold My divine Yoga; (पश्य मे योगम् ऐश्वरम्); Myself is that which supports all being and also constitutes their existence.”
Usually Bhoga means to enjoy the sensual pleasures. We have five senses for knowledge, namely, the eye, the ear, the skin, the tongue and the nose. The external world is cognized and interpreted with the aid of these organs. Their five objects are form, sound, touch, taste, and smell on which the senses feed and thrive. The other group consists of five organs of action. They are the hand, the foot, the mouth, the anus and the genital organ. Mind is the principle that thinks and doubts. It functions as the background of all the ten senses. The senses remain attached and engrossed in the objects of their liking because they want to have pleasure. People crave for money and acquisition of various objects, thinking wrongly that they will be the masters and enjoyers of their possessions. This is Bhog-Aishwarya, enjoyment and lordship. This is the materialistic way of life in which matter and personal ego are considered to be the ultimate power.
In the Bhagvad Gita, Sri Krishna has explained these things very learly and has shown to Arjuna the right path. The gist of what Sri Krishna says in the verses 42 and 43 of the second chapter is that: the unwise people who do not have clear discernment, who believe that there is nothing else, who are souls of desires, who are seekers of paradise, remain engaged in various activities and rites whose goal is enjoyment and lordship. When they cling to enjoyment and lordship, (भोगैश्वर्य प्रसक्तानाम्), their discriminative consciousness is stolen away; their intelligence is misled and does not remain established in the self (soul) with concentrated fixity.
In the verse 45 Sri Krishna advises Arjuna to be free from the triple quality (sattwa, rajas and tamas) even though their action is the subject-matter of the Veda. Sri Krishna asks Arjuna to go beyond the pairs of opposites (pleasure and pain, victory and defeat, good and evil, hot and cold, success and failure, etc.). So that he can attain equanimity. He tells Arjuna to be free from the worry of getting and preserving things. He enjoins Arjuna to dwell always in his true being and possess the Soul.
Our intelligence should always remain established in the Soul. This becomes possible when we take up yoga as the way of life. Sri Krishna tells Arjuna to turn to yoga. In the verse 50 of the second chapter, he says:
“One whose intelligence has attained to unity, casts away from him even here in this world of dualities both good doing and evil doing; therefore strive to be in yoga; Yoga is skill in works.”
Sri Krishna says in the next verse:
“The sages who have united their reason and will with the Divine renounce the fruit which action yields and, liberated from the bondage of birth, they reach the status beyond misery.”
Thus yoga liberates us from all problems and miseries of life and unites us with the Divine who is All-blissful. From his own realization Sri Aurobindo has expounded this truth in a mantric way and has revealed its significance further. In Sri Aurobindo Upanishad he has written:
“Ego is indeed the seed. By deliverance from Ego one is delivered from Ignorance. By deliverance from Ignorance one is delivered from suffering. Knowing that I am All-Blissful, He am I, I am one, I am infinite, I am All, one becomes All-Blissful, one becomes a Being of Bliss. This indeed is liberation. Liberated, he enjoys the enjoyments of all, enjoying all joys infinitely he is not separated from finites, enjoying finites he is not deprived of the Infinite….
..... Therefore be engaged in Lila, O sons of Bliss! Being united (with the Divine), play. Enjoy the Bliss. Having attained the One enjoyable Divine, enjoy Him in all things.”
Mother India and her Mission
Dr. Hiranmayi Smart
Dr. Hiranmayi Smart
We know Sri Aurobindo as the embodiment of the Divine. He was also a prophet of Nationalism and a valiant son of Mother India. He was a revolutionary who wanted to liberate India from the British rule and was also a leader of the Nationalist Party. It was the time when India’s Freedom Movement was in its early stage. In fact Sri Aurobindo was a path-finder and pioneer of India’s freedom movement. He had the clearest vision of Indian Swaraj in its fullness. He was the contemporary of the famous Trinity - Lal, Bal and Pal (Lala Lajpat Rai, Balgangadhar Tilak and Bipinchandra Pal). They worked together. He has given a spiritual insight to the concept of Mother India and her mission. He has said:
“Mother India is not a piece of earth; she is a power, a Godhead, for all nations have such a Devi supporting their separate existence and keeping it in being. Such beings are as real and more permanently real than the men they influence, but they belong to a higher plane, are part of the cosmic consciousness and being and act here on earth by shaping the human consciousness on which they exercise their influence.”
This description can be easily grasped by the Indians because the concept of spirituality is inbuilt and inherent in them since ages. We recognize and worship divinity in stones, plants, trees, animals, mountains, rivers etc. Not only that, but spirituality teaches us that divinity underlies everything. Thus, Sri Aurobindo’s perception of Mother India as a Goddess (Devi), as a part of the cosmic consciousness and being, as belonging to a higher plane, sheds a great light on our understanding of what Mother India is. Revealing the secret principle that supports and acts at the core of India, he says:
“…..India is the Bharat Shakti, the living energy of a great spiritual conception, and her fidelity to it is the very principle of her existence. For by its virtue alone she has been one of the immortal nations; this alone has been the secret of her persistence and perpetual force of survival and revival.”
Every nation has its own unique characteristic. For example, America excels in the field of finance, France in fine arts, England in diplomacy, Germany in technology, Chaina in wisdom, Japan in perfect love for nature and beauty. Sri Aurobindo points out that India stands for Spirituality, and she should remain faithful to it. Spirituality is the very principle of her existence. He has said:
“God has set apart India as the eternal fountain-head of holy spirituality, and He will never suffer that fountain to run dry. Therefore Swaraj has been revealed to us. By our political freedom we shall once more recover our spiritual freedom. Once more in the land of the saints and sages will burn up the fire of the ancient Yoga and the hearts of her people will be lifted up into the neighbourhood of the Eternal.”
Spirituality means to turn to the spirit or soul within us and to realize it. The soul is the portion of the divine. As the divine is perfect (Purna), the soul is also essentially perfect but behind many veils in the process of evolution, and not fully grown. It has to achieve its full growth and its full manifestation in life. The soul is our true individuality. This is a very brief introduction of the subject.
While Sri Aurobindo was busy in his political life, in 1908, He was arrested in connection with the Alipore Conspiracy Case and sent to a solitary confinement. After one year he was acquitted of the charges and was released from the jail. That one year proved to be the God-given opportunity to him for intense sadhana and the prison a temple to see and communicate with God. He received the rare spiritual experience described in the Bhagavad Gita as “Vasudeva, the omnipresent Being, is all that is.”
The truth was revealed to him that India stands for spirituality. To achieve spiritual knowledge, experience, realization, and to lead one’s life in soul’s light and guidance is the key to transform ordinary life into Life Divine. India is given the great and noble mission to impart this message to the world and teach its implementation.
The ascension to Life Divine and the up-rise of India are interlinked with each other. In obedience to the Aadesh of God, to build and pursue the path of integral yoga, to give real freedom to the whole humanity from the slavery of darkness, ignorance and falsehood, Sri Aurobindo went to Pondicherry and stayed there in his Ashram. Addressing the youth of India, he has said:
“…Materially you are nothing, spiritually you are everything…Recover the Aryan thought, the Aryan discipline, the Aryan character, the Aryan life. Recover the Vedanta, the Gita, the yoga. Recover them not only in intellect or sentiment but in your lives. Live them and you will be great and strong, mighty, invincible and fearless….For it is in the spirit that strength is eternal and you must win back the kingdom of yourselves, the inner Swaraj, before you can win back your empire.”
“The future of India is very clear.
India is the Guru of the world.
The future structure of the world depends on India.”