Dr. Hiranmayi Smart
At our Sri Aurobindo Centre Surat, since 4-4-1994, every evening for twenty minutes from 7:30 to 7:50, we regularly get together for group meditation with the music specially composed at Sri Aurobindo Ashram, Pondicherry.
All those who are already connected with the Ashram and with our Centre know it well that here nobody teaches you how to meditate. We don’t give importance to the outside physical procedure for meditation. The inner attitude and state are of more importance.
But when a newcomer enters the Centre, invariably he inquires: “Who teaches meditation here? How can we meditate? Why do you play music for meditation? What is real meditation? What, if I can’t meditate?
This write-up is prepared to give specific and simple answers to these questions.
What is special about Sri Aurobindo Centre, Surat?
The distinctive factor of our Centre is that the ‘Divine Relics’ of Sri Aurobindo are enshrined here. The ‘Divine Relics’ here are not something that has been collected after Shi Aurobindo left his body. Sri Aurobindo left his body in 1950. Before that, when Sri Aurobindo was alive and present amongst us in his body, while taking bath, the hair from his head or beard or moustache would naturally fall. Similarly his nails would be cut regularly and sometimes a tooth would also fall. These hair, nails or teeth were not thrown away but were carefully preserved at the Ashram. The Ashram permits, under specific conditions, certain Centres to receive these Holy Relics for permanent enshrinement. Such ‘Divine Relics’ of the Divine Living Body of Sri Aurobindo are enshrined at our Surat Centre. The presence of the ‘Divine Relics’ means the Divine Presence of Sri Aurobindo himself. This we can concretely feel. And wherever is Sri Aurobindo, The Mother would be obviously and unfailingly remain present. Thus we meet together at the Centre to meditate in the Divine Presence of Sri Aurobindo and The Mother.
How does the presence of Sri Aurobindo and The Mother act on us?
To understand clearly how the Presence impacts us, we will first see three illustrations.
1. The Sun: When we sit in the open under the sun, the sun automatically acts on us. It illumines; gives warmth, life energy and also vitamins. We have only to sit in the presence of the sun and it automatically acts and affects our mind and life and body. On our part we have only to sit in its presence without doing anything else.
2. Nuclear Reactor: When we enter the premises where a Nuclear Reactor is active, whether we notice it or not, whether we want it or not, whether we believe in it or not, we are affected by the atomic radiation. We have only to enter and be in that area and it acts automatically.
3. Atmosphere and vibrations of a place: Every place has its atmosphere and vibrations and these act on us. We know well and have experienced well the different atmospheres and vibrations of a hospital, hotel, police station, cinema hall, mall, airport, crematorium and a temple. Even our homes have different atmospheres and that is why we like to go to someone’s home and to someone’s home we don’t like to go.
What happens when we sit in the divine presence of Sri Aurobindo and The Mother?
By aforesaid three examples now we can very well understand that when we sit in the divine presence of Sri Aurobindo and The Mother their presence, atmosphere and vibrations obviously and automatically act on us and we get affected by their influence.
Sri Aurobindo Centre is a place consecrated to the divine presence of Sri Aurobindo and The Mother. Here is the pious and purifying atmosphere of their Grace. Their presence, atmosphere and vibrations automatically influence all four parts of our personality. It fills our mind with peace. It fills our heart with delight and makes it bloom. It heals our body. It wakes up, elevates and illumines our soul. This is an occult action.
That is why Sri Aurobindo has suggested a short and clear instruction to us:
“Sitting calm and quiet remember the Mother and open yourself to her.
This is the rule of meditation.” 1 Thus every evening we get together and open ourselves to Sri Aurobindo and The Mother. Here in the name of meditation we do not do any outside physical action. Sitting calm and quiet we get influenced by the divine influence of Sri Aurobindo and The Mother. We have only to open from inside and allow, without any obstruction, Sri Aurobindo and The Mother to be active in us and on us.
How to be open?
Sri Aurobindo says: “To be open is simply to be turned to the Mother that her Force can work in you without anything refusing or obstructing her action.” 2
One simple method to open yourself is to bow down and tell to the Divine Presence: ‘I open myself to you. I am open to your influence. Become active in me and on me.’ Say this and then sit calm and quiet for some time.
Why meditate with Ashram music?
At our Centre we play Ashram music, which has been especially composed for meditation at Sri Aurobindo Ashram Pondicherry. Initially The Mother herself composed and played. Thereafter a devotee was instructed and guided by her in composing this music. About her music The Mother has said:
“This music aims at awakening certain profound feelings.
In listening to it, one should make oneself as silent and passive as possible. And if, in the mental silence, a part of the being can take the attitude of the witness who observes without reacting or participating, then one can notice the effect that the music produces on the feelings and emotions; and if it produces a state of deep calm and semi-trance, that is very good.” 3
At our Centre, the presence of Sri Aurobindo and The Mother is of supreme importance. Each activity of the Centre happens because of their blessings and grace. They themselves will lead you in meditation and bless you.
For this work there is no importance of any other person.
We must always remember what Sri Aurobindo has said:
“Let nothing and nobody come between you and the Mother’s force.” 4
“It [the wish to make pranam to others] is a wrong suggestion from somewhere. It is very necessary not to take the attitude of Pranam to others or to give even in thought a place at all approaching or similar to the Mother’s.” 5
Now let us understand about what meditation really is, as explained in conversation by The Mother.
Question: “What is real meditation then?”
Answer by the Mother: “It is an active and deliberate concentration on the Divine Presence and a sustained, alert contemplation of that Sublime Reality.” 6
There are many methods of meditation. Each has its own importance. If you have already learnt some method of meditation, then you can quietly meditate here at this centre, using that method but without disturbing anybody by sound or gesture. Remaining silent, you can even mentally recite your favourite prayer or Mantra.
Remember well that this is a place for practicing Spirituality, Yoga Sadhana, and not a place for religious activities.
If you want to know more about the Integral-Yoga of Sri Aurobindo, books are available for that at our Centre.
There is no fee for meditating at the Centre.
Let us see one very common question.
What, if I can’t meditate?
The simple and spontaneous method that we have learnt above is very easy to follow. It might not happen immediately. But it does come with practice and perseverance. We have not to bother about the time it takes. It will happen naturally.
But certain people are different by temperament. For them working for the Divine, serving the Divine is easier than meditating. One can progress on the path of Yoga even if one does not meditate.
Some important words of The Mother.
Meditation and Service to the Divine:
“Both are equally good. Nevertheless, through service one can attain a fuller realisation than through meditation alone.” 7
Meditation and work:
“One can progress through meditation, but through work provided it is done in the right spirit one can progress ten times more.” 8
Work and Integral Yoga:
“The more I go, the more I know that it is in work that Sri Aurobindo’s integral yoga is best done.” 9
So let us fully charge ourselves by meditation and use that Force for the service of the Divine.
The significance of lighting an incense-stick. (Agarbatti)
“One is not satisfied with merely lighting the incense, but while lighting the incense one makes this gesture symbolic — for example, of the aspiration burning in the body or of self-giving in a dissolution, in the purification of the fire.
That is to say, first the act, then the symbol in this act and the symbolic understanding of what is done. And finally, behind these two, an aspiration for union; that all this, these acts and the symbol you make of them, may be only a means of drawing closer and closer to the Divine and making yourself fit to unite with Him.
These three things must be there for the act to be complete: that is, something purely material, something mental and something psychic, the psychic aspiration.
If one of the three is there without the other two, it is incomplete. As a rule, very rarely are the three consciously combined. That produces beings of exceptional sincerity and consecration: the entire being, in all its parts, participates in the action.” 10
(1) Sri Aurobindo. Message Card of 17 November 2003. (2) Sri Aurobindo. CWSA Volume: 32. Page: 151. (3) The Mother. MCW Volume: 16. Page: 233. (4) Sri Aurobindo. CWSA Volume: 32. Page: 193. (5) Sri Aurobindo. CWSA Volume: 32. Page: 567. (6) The Mother. MCW Volume: 17. Page: 24. (7) The Mother. MCW Volume: 14. Page: 105. (8) The Mother. MCW Volume: 14. Page: 299. (9) The Mother. MCW Volume: 14. Page: 35. (10) The Mother. MCW Volume: 08. Page: 234-235.