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Pujya Dr. K.C. Varadachari - Volume -4
 

The Individual Self  in the Philosophy of Sri Aurobindo

  

The individual problem is the world problem. All enquiries into reality revolve round the status of the individual, the enquirer into the nature of reality who is a part and parcel of it. It is he who feels his bondage, and it is indeed he who seeks to surmount it and all that it connotes or signifies. The nature of the individual has itself been a real problem, for we find various explanations for his existence are given. The individual soul is said to be apart of the material nature or a simulacrum of spiritual ego or reality; its cognitive nature has been stated to be due to an accident of connection with outer objects and not belonging to it as a sentience-point. Its substantiality has been questioned by some who called it but a congeries or constellation of cognitions, feelings and desireful volitions rather than a cognizer; its immortality has been seriously assailed; some have called it limited in duration to the period of segmentation of reality by some indescribable but real adjuncts; or to the period of veiling by Maya. Thus the Mayavada and Bhaskara monists  have throughout denied eternity to the individual soul; whilst the one granted reality to it during the period of its existence also, the other denied that too to it. Nyaya Philosophy affirmed its atomicity, a bare abstract spirituality bereft of consciousness when no objects are perceived or contacted; Buddhism denied its substantiality though it affirmed its real momentariness as a constellation, and pleaded for the acceptance of an ever-recurring continuity of the originations of this constellation as a series. In all the above systems there is no clear-cut need for postulating the existence of the soul or individual self at all nor its efforts to arrive at salvation.[1]

 

The individual soul is a psychic fact. We cannot however find any reasons whatever for postulating its immortality as an unchangeable spiritual entity, nor can we affirm its Incarnations in matter in the theory of rebirths without any modification of its nature, as the theories of atomic, abstract point-souls or monads or Mayavada or Buddhism affirm. There can be no theory of rebirth without a theory of immortality of the individual soul, and the acceptance of rebirth in their systems is unwarranted. Whether it is the materialistic theory or the superconscient theory of a Changeless Being or the Nihilistic theory, we arrive at one conclusion: “the apparent soul or spiritual individuality of the creature is not immortal in the sense of eternity, but has a beginning and an end in Time, is a creation by Maya or by Nature Force or cosmic Action out of the Inconscient or

1  Vedanta Sutra  I. I. 4 (Sri Bhasya)

Superconscient, and is therefore impermanent in its existence. In all three, rebirth is either unnecessary or else illusory; it is either the prolongation by repetition of an illusion, or it is an additional revolving wheel among the many wheels of the complex machinery of the Becoming, or it is excluded since a single birth is all that can be asked for by a conscious being fortuitously engendered as part of an inconscient creation.” (The Life Divine: Vol II p. 690).

 It is only in the realistic (who were also theistic) schools of Vedanta we have the acceptance of the reality and plurality of the individual souls, and their relationship to the One Divine Lord is not of such a kind as to involve at any time the abolition of the individuals. It is in laya, dissolution that they lose ‘ their activity so as to look as stones, inconscient, whilst in Liberation or mukti their relationship is one of perfect illumination of consciousness, with the Divine as their inner self and Lord from which state of ecstatic oneness or unity there can be no fall. The theory of rebirth in these theories is due to their beginningless ignorance or anadi-pravaha-karma, as a series of experiences of pleasure and pain sorrows and strivings which perfect the individual or imperil its ascent into the kinds of births that make their devotion to the Divine perfect and incorruptible. The immortality of the individual souls is vouchsafed here in so far as their innate spiritual natures persist undispersed into original atoms of matter at death but continue the voyage interrupted here on other planes or return here itself. The soul beginning undoubtedly with little consciousness-vision in the lowest stratum of existence gets its consciousness purified and perfected or more properly enlarged till at the human level it is enabled to discriminate the real values of life from the false.

 

Growth is predicated of the soul not indeed in the sense that it becomes big or vast as it ascends in the scale of existence according to the size of its body as the Jainas said, but intensively and extensively in terms of the ambit of consciousness or more truly divya-jnana, superconsciousness till it becomes omniscient or omnipervasive. Even when occupying a body of matter this limit might be reached, for consciousness understood not as the human consciousness but as the highest consciousness identical with the Divine consciousness which knows no limitation at any time is eternally vast, illimitable, omniscient, omnipervasive, beneficent and puissant.

 In the Philosophy of Sri Aurobindo immortality of the individual soul is accepted and therefore its rebirths are also accepted. The purpose of the individual atomic soul in trying to achieve its real nature of immortality in and through the process of rebirths into matter and other lower forms of life is not explained as adequately as may be desired in the philosophies of realistic Vedanta. If Maya had been inexplicable in Mayavada, it is no less true of the Karma. The explanation that it is inexplicable because its origination is unknown will not fully satisfy the seeker after a real and valuable explanation. We find in the philosophies of realisms too, Maya gets a place if not as a deluding agent, at least as a power-concept or knowledge-concept. The creative act is one of Delight of Brahman or God. If creation is a deluding operative or degrading action or punitive expedition, it cannot be the Divine’s action but of a Nero. It cannot be lila whether understood as the Grace of the Divine or as the Krida of the Divine.[2]

 

According to Sri Aurobindo “The Universe is a self creative process of the Supreme Reality whose presence makes spirit the substance of things, - all things are there as the spirit’s powers and means and forms of manifestation. An infinite existence, an infinite consciousness, an infinite force and will, an infinite delight of being is the Reality secret behind the appearances of the universe; its divine Supermind or Gnosis has arranged the cosmic order, but arranged it indirectly through the three subordinate and limiting terms of which we are conscious here Mind, Life and Matter. The material universe is the lowest stage of a downward plunge of the manifestation, an involution of the manifested being of this triune Reality into an apparent nescience of itself, that which we now call the Inconscient; but out of this nescience the evolution of that manifested being into a recovered self-awareness was from the very first inevitable. It was inevitable because that which is involved must evolve; for it is not only there as an existence, a force hidden in its apparent opposite, and every such force must in its inmost nature be moved to find itself, to realise itself, to realise itself into play but it is  the reality of that which conceals it, it is the self which the Nescience has lost and which therefore it must be the whole secret meaning, the constant drift of its action to seek for and recover. It is through the conscious individual being that this recovery is possible; it is in him that the evolving consciousness becomes organized and capable of awakening to its own Reality. The  

2         cf. My Concept of Lila:  JBHU vol.I  1937

immense importance of the individual being which increases as he rises in the scale, is the most remarkable and significant fact of  a universe which started without consciousness and without individuality in an undifferentiated Nescience. This importance can only be justified if the Self as individual is no less real than the Self as cosmic Being or Spirit and both are powers of the Eternal. It is only so that can be explained the necessity for the growth of the individual and his discovery of himself as a condition for the discovery of the cosmic self and consciousness and of the Supreme Reality. If we adopt this solution, this is the first result, the reality of the persistent individual; but from that first consequence the other result follows, that rebirth of some kind is no longer a possible machinery which may or may not be accepted, it becomes a necessity, an inevitable outcome of the root nature of our existence.” (ibid., pp. 703-4) (italics mine).

 

The above long extract is to put in clearest light the entire relevancy of the growth of the individual immortal soul from a concealed or veiled consciousness towards the superconscient consciousness of the Divine shaping its immortality with its ascent in the Organic through reducing the impenetrable and refractory Inconscient in a series of rebirths. The individual soul’s delight it is , and not its karma, that mystifying force of bondage, beginningless and mechanical, that propels it to organize the Inconscient, plane by plane, and to integrate them in the single organism of his highest achievement – the Divine Body, pure, immortal too, a perfect instrument of its own inner light, truth, delight and Consciousness-power. Thus the individual soul in its involution and evolution is undoubtedly persistent, not in an unreal manner nor in the manner of a fictitious stream nor is it helplessly caught up in the vice-grip of a terrible fate or karma or kismet or adrista, wheeled forward and backward from one place of existence to another. In fact, the individual soul is a shaper of its own inner law of ascent and descent for the sake of enjoying that secret delight of its existence even when it is being overwhelmed by the tribulations of its ascending journey It is, at first appearance, a coarse, selfish aggressive egoism placed in opposition to matter, struggling for survival, against it as well as against all that came to be with it. Thus the philosophies that devote themselves exclusively to the realization of the Inner Transcendent Self or Atma or Brahman or the Purusottama are forced to explain their togetherness, opposition, and their indivisible solidarity in respect of genus, race or vocation or aspiration or need, with the other selves or souls which display identical urge to transcend the limitations of environment, and seek to arrive at social harmony. It is therefore important to remember that the individual is not single but a multiplicity having within it the problems of unity and struggle and competition. In the modern world it is this aspect that is occupying a large portion of the thought of thinking men. Not without justice. The problem of social harmony and the individual freedom is not a simple calculus of gives and takes, but a real question of discovery of the foundations of our life, materially, vitally and spiritually, which can be the basis of our future ends or purusarthas. A material or economic equality is indeed necessary for all, equally a vital equality to work and endeavor as well as the spiritual equality in respect of transcendent goals of religious and cultural and artistic things. These are not all. But yet without these the individual is no more than an abstraction, a ghost that is without any vestige of actuality.

 II

 

There are two ways of approach in metaphysics in respect of the derivation of the social consciousness and the individual consciousness. The individual is derived from the homogeneous mass of Nature or the group of crowd as a gradual disruption of its unity through the unconscious focalisation of interests of each part. The purpose of this disruption into many may be conceivable for the sake of greater social development  which is indeed for the sake of social unity; such a unity impels its own self-divisioning into an infinite plurality. Such a thesis has to be accepted by all schools, whether they call this pluralization real or unreal, temporary or permanent. The One-many problem is thus the rock on which absolutisms and phenomenalisms are wrecked.

 

The second way is to derive the social mass or homogeneity from the collections of individuals or the ‘many through devices of absorption, subordination or subsumption, annihilation of uniqueness in each individual or reduction to uniformity through impositions of conformity to routine law, and logically to evolve a general idea (jati) which is hypostatized into a real thing. The social unity or unification is achieved as the inner necessity of the individual plurality. All pluralists are forced to accord to plurality a unity or God or harmony of co-existence or order of service so that they could be together in harmony without rift or divergent pulls. They too have to accept Unity or Oneness of the plurality whether they are prepared to call this real or unreal, temporary or permanent.

 

In both these ways there is inevitable the affirmation of evolution of the individual or the evolution of the social unity or Universe, the former involving the abolition of the society or mass uniformity or Nature in the raw, and the latter involving the abolition of the individual uniqueness.

 

Sri Aurobindo finds that the truth of the Oneness is its eternal manyness, expressed or unexpressed in the texture of experience, whilst the truth of the manyness lies in their oneness, an eternal and compelling oneness that substands the divergent currents of life. Thus the individuals are not mere fragmentations or proportions, sundered apart, of the Divine, but are charged intrinsically with the nisus to unity, even whilst the social homogeneity or Nature is impelled inconsciently to realise the infinite potentialities of manyness enfolded in it.

 

“For the initiation of the evolutionary emergence from the Inconscient works out by two forces, a secret cosmic consciousness and an individual consciousness manifest on the surface. The secret cosmic consciousness remains secret and subliminal to the surface individual, it organizes itself on the surface by the creation of separate objects and beings. But while it organizes the separate object and the body and mind of the individual being, it creates also collective powers of consciousness which are large subjective formations of cosmic Nature; but it does not provide for them an organized mind and body, it bases them on the group of individuals, develops for them a group mind, a changing yet continuous group body.” (ibid., pp. 606-7).

 

These two movements are in a supramental Divine worked out simultaneously from the realm of Nature or matter as a constant fulguration of its unity, and from the realm of souls as a constant effort at discovering the secret of unity. The soul’s apparent finitude is the cause or reason for its search after a larger and profounder synthesis, not indeed in terms of the Nature from which it has emerged, as its owning a body reveals to it, but in terms of the spiritual Oneness interpenetrating all that exists.

 

Thus the perfection of the natural world with its diversities due to the individuating process within it that after all leads to the foundation of groups, and the perfection of the unifying impulse in souls due to their nisus to Unity or transcendence of their differences, are what appear superficially as two opposite movements of evolution. It should be clear also that we cannot speak of the involutive and evolutive movements in respect of these two processes, for both these are really evolutive in so far as they are registering progress by throwing up the unique diversities of individuals on the one hand equipped with highly developed organic bodies and revealing heights of consciousness and intelligences far superior to the inconscience or nescience, and on the other hand, the individuals are evolving types of social organization from the crudest of associative groups to the spiritual utopia of bhagavatas, souls forged in the fire Divine, lit within with the light Divine, free, joyous and true. Since these two movements are simultaneous or successive, “it follows that only as the individuals become more and more conscious can the group-being also become more and more conscious; the growth of the individual is the indispensable means for the inner growth as distinguished from the outer force and expansion of the collective being. This indeed is the dual importance of the individual that it is through him that the cosmic spirit organizes its collective units and makes them self -expressive and progressive and through him that it raises Nature from the Inconscience to the Superconscience and exalts it to meet the transcendent.” (ibid., p. 607).

 

Thus the souls are in their highest development just the Divine in His manyness, upheld in the supramental unity of His Divine Oneness. They may be considered to be the infinite perfections of the Divine upheld by the Supreme Perfection of His Self-Identity in all of them, which is their solid reality, benediction, wherefore He is the satyasya Satyam. The essential delight of His nature makes all these souls in their unique multiplicity or individualities, seek that profound and ultimate and everlasting plenitude of Delight that is of the Oneness. The seeking or searching or the divining of that Delight (Vanam, as the Kenyopanisad puts it) is the nisus of the individual souls, because they discover that to be their integral need for undiluted happiness. It is that which necessitates their realization of the delight in the Oneness even as they have in some measure realised their delight in His manyness. The One without the other ends in the realisation of an isolated and truly pathetic egoism or egoness, whilst the other alone stands in the gloom of Divine Solitariness, even as it has been described by the Upanisads. The metaphysical truth that Sri Aurobindo has pointed out in his formulation of the Advaita is that the multiplicity involved in Matter and in progress can find its fulfillment only in and through the Divine Oneness, and there its culmination does not mean annulment or liquidation or absorption but exaltation in the light, power, delight of the simultaneous experience of Oneness-Manyness, which are both eternal and eternally true of the Supreme Being.

 

 

III

 

The sufferings of the individual souls are the signs of their birth-throes, not signs of imperfection and finitude as such, for indeed there are no essential or intrinsic imperfections, but of the propelling inward need or drive to arrive at the formula of unity with the rest. One has to individualise oneself ere one can individualise oneself completely. This dual movement is always present. The individual soul is a concentration of the Total All so that it might in return arrive at the fullest diffusion of the Total All in and through its secret unity within it. We can understand thus the soul’s voyage through material (sic) forms of matter, life and mind and overmind, so as to emerge as the patent one of the Many gathering within itself fully all the knowledge and delight inherent in the Total All as its essential amsa, or organ, through a series of rebirths, not meaningless rounds alone nor regressive rebirths compelled by the inexplicable Maya or Karma or Avidya. The fulfillment of the Universe is in the growing personality of the individual as a superconscious One of the Divine One in His eternal manyness, unique significant vibhuti; fulfilling some supreme delight of His in the terrestrial movement or lila. Rebirths need not at all times be a sign of decadence or descent into a lower form – a torture of dwelling in the wombs of imperfect creatures; it might as well be a deepening sense of oneness with Matter which is also spiritual, endowed with its riches of change and modifications, and convertibility. The birth of a soul in matter or material or vital form is, as it were, a sign of matter’s essential transformability or transmutability. It is a secret of evolution of the individual’s immortal pursuit; it is not a sign of failure but a sign of integrative action brought about by processes of compensations and accelerations and retardations of some parts at the expense of other parts till in the long run, there emerges a full-blown integral personality that does not act in subordination to matter but controls and shapes it and exhibits its own true spiritual nature and thus achieve delight for itself in terms of its own being.

 

Thus whether it is the breaking up of social organizations or of individuals, there emerge constantly recurrences or rebirths of these social forms and individuals till the equation of the social perfection and individual integral perfection is realised in all levels of true spiritual being.

 

The relationship between the individual and the society appears at first look to be one of part and whole. The society is seeking its fulfillment in and through the individuals even as the fulfillment of the individuals is affirmed to consist in the fullest realisation of Society. The angangi-bhava (whole and part relation) or sesa-sesi (dependent-principal relation) between the society and the individual is the highest that humanism has been able to offer as a consolation to the distraught world. Of course from the standpoint of the idealistic metaphysics the reality of the individual is only the society or the Absolute. Pluralistic idealism has in modern years affirmed that the individual has a uniqueness that is to be considered to be at its highest in harmony with the uniqueness of other souls or personalities. The aim of philosophy is to present in clearest light the nature of the fundamental harmony that subsists between the souls. This harmony is something inherent in the very existence of the multiplicity but it is also necessary to make it conscious or superconscious in the individuals composing the society. Leibnitz affirmed a kind of ascent and descent of souls in the wheel of progress, but it was a kind of mechanical procession having in essence no necessity towards integral revelation of a full-blown personality. The monadus monadum was also in constant peril of losing its primacy to its successors, in the chain of process. The organistic view, on the other hand, affirms the evolution of the individual from the simple mechanical structure of the protoplasm to the highly diversified human organism characterized by mind, vital life and material organization. The social life typical of the animal herds and cell-life such as the bee-hive or ant-colony, is one in which the unity is organic, for a loss of its central life, or member in the Queen Bee or Ant involves a total disruption of the entire colony. The earlier organizations of the human being dominated by the leadership of a King or Tyrant (born, not made) were very similar to the above vitalistic organizations and in this respect there is a lot of truth in the contention that the State is an Organism whose soul or head is the King or Tyrant or Dictator. This however is a condition that has not seen the emergence of individuals qua individuals. If in the words of M. Bergson[3] we consider the first development to be one moment of the dialectical frenzy, the exhaustion of this entails the second development of the individual effort at recovering his freedom that was inevitably and forcibly suppressed and stopped by the first. The specific descriptions of the twofold frenzy by M. Bergson do not bring out the metaphysical basis for the diversifications of functions in the organism or their unification or synthesis or integration in the light of the intuitive or supramental, in the individuals nor, for the matter of that, in the society developing its moral and religious life. In this respect he follows his own original thesis of instinct versus intellect, to explain the two fold frenzy of individual struggle after freedom from conformity and discipline in the lives of its members. In Sri Aurobindo’s thesis, however, we have a clear enunciation of the metaphysical reality of the society as well as the integrity of the individuals through his unique thesis of eternal oneness in the eternal multiplicity, whether it be of the organism or the society, planes or powers, individuals or the Deity. It is this metaphysical basis that makes multiplicity seek the freedom for its many individuals even as the individuals are impelled towards some sort of unity wherein lies their strength. The two moments in the history of growth of individual freedom in society and achievement of social solidarity are, even when in frenzied movement, explained by his thesis.

 

The individual soul truly grows into a universal being, that is, a being having universal responsiveness and love and value for all, even as the universal Being is enabled to manifest itself in and through each of the individuals. The mystical consciousness which is the pioneering spirit ever after adventure into planes and spaces beyond the intellect, according to M. Bergson, seeks to evolve into the universal consciousness by a leap or a burst into the same through concentration, not indeed of its consciousness nor by a surrender to the Divine All, but by the strength of its vital impulse (Úlan vital). This

3         Two Souces of Morality and Religion,  p. 256 f.

 explanation does scant justice to the fundamental uniqueness of each soul and the continuity of evolution, as it aims at the abolition of the true individuality in the expanse of Mind-energy of the intuitive level. It forgets that the mystics are realists and are unique personalities who, inspite of their universal outlook and disinterested activity, are strong personalities. On the other hand, according to Sri Aurobindo, the individual is a real one of the eternal multiplicity of the Divine, mounting or ascending the evolutionary rungs by rejecting the lower with the help of the Divine, so that ultimately the lower may be orientated or transmuted so as to express more and more fully the higher and highest planes of the individual soul, which indeed is a Divine personality.

 

Thus the individual in the Philosophy of Sri Aurobindo does not have merely a temporary existence nor is it a term in the phenomenal creation due to the operation of a Maya or upadhi; on the other hand, it can be a portion, amsa, a ray, or organ of the Divine, if by these terms we understand an integral oneness of the soul with the Divine One in every respect as one of the eternal multiplicity. Thus it is that the individual soul is capable of realising the supreme formula of its identity with the Divine of Brahman in a real manner through a real evolution and real surrender to the Divine which it apprehends to be its complementary and not a counter-reality.

 

The doctrine of limitational manifestation of Bhaskara has no place in the philosophy of Sri Aurobindo for the individual is in no sense a gross perversion or segmentation of the seamless garment of Reality. The Brahman is indivisible and the limitation, even when real, cannot limit really. Nor is the fulgurational theory of Yadava Prakasa any more in place, for the reason that Matter, souls and Isvara cannot have the nisus or effort to recover their liberation.There can be no endeavor or aspiration in the souls nor in the inconscient matter towards the achievement of the evolutionary culmination in the Transcendent vision of the One-many Unity. The Isvara is less than the All. Further, in both these systems the individual soul is impermament. The bhedabheda or identity-difference theories suffer usually from the defect of postulating identity and difference between the Divine One and the individual many and the multiplicity of Nature simultaneously and unlimitedly, that is to say; without  reference to space and time or causality. In the philosophy of  Sri Aurobindo, on the other hand, the Original Nature of the Divine as an eternal oneness in eternal multiplicity rescues it from the attacks directed against the former schools. The One is eternally manifested in or motivating the many, whilst the many are manifesting or yearning to manifest the Oneness in the forms of harmony, organization, unity or union of themselves. The many and the One are the one same Divine. The descent into matter, life, mind, overmind and the triple superminds above, as also the ascent worked out in terms of these seven planes by the eternal multiplicity of His nature does not entail the loss of the soul’s nature as consciousness-delight-Cidananda-svarupa. On the contrary, this Cidananda  it is that is the informing principle in these planes which shapes the ascent of matter and the other succeeding grades of evolution to their own fullest  possibilities as all great art reveals.

 

It may be asked with appropriateness whether this eternal multiplicity cannot be considered to be a ‘a body’ (sarira) of the Divine, a thing or entity that is absolutely existing for the sake of the Divine being supported and controlled  and enjoyed by Him, whilst it is that which lives and moves and has its being in Him.[4] The view of Sri Aurobindo does not envisage this thesis of Ramanuja except indirectly. The many may be considered to be the body of the One but what is likely to be missed by the sarira-sariri-bhava even when it is considered to be aprathaksiddha, inseparable or eternal, is that there is the affirmation of the soul as a sariri in respect of its body whilst it has to be or play the role of the sarira in respect of the Divine simultaneously for the purposes of an identical act. The individual soul then will become a passive or receptive conduit of the Infinite’s Purposes. If we accept this we will be forced to accept or at least are open to a possible objection that the individual soul can be reduced to the status of a sheath of the Atma (jnana-maya-kosa, for example, as in Advaita), and this is certainly not what the eternal multiplicity is. It is true that Ramanuja was against this type of identification of the jiva or soul with a kosa and his definition of the sarira does not lend itself to this interpretation.

 4         Sri Bhasya: yasya cetanasya yad dravyam sarvatmana svarthe niyantum dharayitum ca sakyam

Yacchesataika svarupam ca tat tasya sariram. (II. I. 9).

 

If again we accept the Divine is resident in the heart of every self in the literal sense we shall  have a dyarchy or dual government of the individual organism however harmonious their relationship might be through the willing and consecrated surrender of the individual soul to the Divine. Ramanuja saw clearly this possibility but it was inevitable in the ascent, as also in intimate union, to dislodge or absorb the individual into the One Divine.[5] The highest consciousness at which he arrived was the experience of love that means co-existence samanadhi-karanya in mystical consciousness.

 

In the philosophy of Sri Aurobindo since the individual souls are not impermanent, and are not sheaths but real eternal many of the Divine, and cannot be at any time merged or absorbed into the One except in the sense of being withdrawn into the potential condition (suksmavastha), their freedom or liberation is the freedom in the One. This mukti is something that enriches the soul or the self and is different from the causal condition of potential existence,the inchoate homogeneity. The liberated condition in Sri Aurobindo’s philosophy is one rich integral omniplanal perfection lit with the experience of Seership. This is due to the evolutionary ascent of delight culminating in the double experience of multiplicity and oneness simultaneously. Such an experience is impossible in the mechanical dispensation of acchadana or veilings or limitations, for according to the systems of Maya and others, liberation is indistinguishable from laya, cosmic withdrawal, or when individually applied nirvana, cessation. Ramaja saw clearly this truth even as Sri Aurobindo has. The evolutionary theory of Sri Aurobindo however grants to the eternal multiplicity of the Divine a possibility of the Vision of ultimate transformation and attainment of all that exists in the One Atman, in and through Itself. Thus the radical affirmation of the oneness of the individual soul with the Divine is rendered possible. Such a unity-experience is impossible without the Divine being that in its multiplicity. The individual soul is in any case not originated nor annulled; it is a real individual, finite in so far as it is the many, but it is not because of that imperfect, incapable of developing or evolving in process into the divine Nature. It is not the All though it is the All in its manyness. The Divine One in His totality is more than all the multiplicity put together, for He is not a college of souls nor a community of persons however evolved, perfected and harmonized in Divine Unity. The Transcendent transcends every height and group.

 

5  The defect of Kalpana-gauravam or multiplication of categories in violation of the principle of the Occam's razor is refuted by orthodox logicians in cases where the Sruti or Sabda-pramanam sanctions or affirms more categories in violation of the intellectual principle.


 

IV

 

The individual soul or self or personality that we have so far described as one of the eternal multiplicity of the Divine, is not a bare point of consciousness, qualityless and contentless nor a false embodied creature whose one business it is to get rid of its imperfect and false body at the earliest possible moment nor is it a windowless monad incapable of becoming a master of the universe of matter, life and mind except impermanently and uncertainly, condemned to an eternal chain of successions in Ignorance or ever at the grim mercy and pleasure of the inconscient Prakrti. If this be not the destiny of the individual, and if his continuous commerce with Inconscience, vital and mental and overmental planes by means of his continuous births in them have meaning and value to his own superb destiny, that is to say, if he does indeed become enriched in every manner in every plane through an intimate and interior knowledge of these in his own widest actuality of terrestrial experience, then the individual is a unique personality manifesting divine life and perfection and eternity here and now, even in the body of matter, life, mind and overmind transformed in the Divine Light and Knowledge for the sake of the Delight. The true sense of immortality on all levels is attained since it no longer means mere persistence in or amid changes and stripping off of the sheaths which had covered the inner nature of the spiritual being. Amrtatva is worked out possibly in terms of Anandatva of Oneness of the multiplicity of the Divine, and not through descent into the ascent from Ignorance and Inconscience.

 

The destiny of the human individual is not to attain after death a transcendental or divine body (aprakrta-sarira) or to achieve a mergence or Divine Oneness after such a donning of the eternal luminuous body, but even here to feel the Divine in oneself in His Oneness as also in His eternal multiplicity, and because of that presence undergo the changes in nature which are verily the formation of the Aprakrta-divya-sarira. This is the significant possibility of the indwellingness of the Supreme Divine ‘superiorly’ in the individual through a radical surrender and prayer to Him. The Jivan-mukta ideal is reinforced by the siddha-ideal, for it is not the jivan-mukta of the Advaita Vedanta that we arrive at but a more integral realisation of the Divine Personality in the individual. This is so much the case that the final movement of the Total Liberation of all individuals, if indeed that should happen, will be such that the eternal multiplicity is to remain a multiplicity of perfect unique personalities of the Divine and would on no account become liquidated in the Oneness of the Divine of the principle of ‘Identity of indiscernables’ of Leibnitz.

 

Certain Western philosophers of the pluralistic school have canvassed the possibility of the ultimate society of such individuals being a-religious, a-theistic, a-moral and anarchistic. Some thinkers other than these have beheld the final emergence of a society to consist of children of God in a Heaven, blissfully enjoying the governance of  God, the father, without being assailed by the forces of Evil which presumably have been permitted by the Divine to work a purgatory for the religious and a hell for the rest on Earth. Some theologians have hoped that after the attainment of salvation abandoning their bodies the freed souls would enjoy continuously the beatific glory, beauty and ecstacies of union, even as the eternally freed souls (nitya-muktas) of the Divine Godhead do. These thinkers envisage a community characterized by equality as between these freed souls, by freedom for each soul to manifest itself fully super-consciously and by a sense of fullness in stature, communion of love and delight.

 

Thus whether we have the political utopia of ‘ingenuous philosophers outside history’ or the theological utopias outside the temporal sojourn on this refractory planet, the fulfillment of the Divine consummation of integral all-sided existence is beyond the possibilities of the soul. In the Philosophy of Sri Aurobindo, on the other hand, the ideal of human unity is fashioned in the Superconscient life of each individual who has ascended and thereby fulfilled the mission set before himself at the beginning of the creature adventure to realise the divine pattern of his unique evolution of the Total All in the Divine, in His eternal multiplicity. The individual indeed becomes a buddha and siddha, not in the sense of having attained to a state of nirvana nor yet in the sense of possessing occult powers, but in the sense of fulfilling the Divine Eternity, Truth, Delight and Reality in terms of the Divine Knowledge of Gnosis. In that supreme consummation there is purnatva, fullness in the individual as it is in the Divine, constantly renewing the Divine activity of bliss and love and varied infinities of relationships, none of which limit to detriment, frustrate to annihilation or force into neurosis or veil to bind. Every individual personality of the Divine in his fullest vision perceives all as the play of the Divine and himself as the exponent of unique beauties and creative mayas of the Divine.

 

The mechanical theocratic government is not at all the truth of the Divine World Order, nor can it be the ideal of the Gnostic individual. Nor is it the materialistic view of reality that develops into a type of communistic or fascistic or imperialistic competitive nostrums which promise all individual development, social harmony and efficient government. The constant peril under which our humanity lies is the peril of its own regression, due to excessive and ill-balanced application of the principles of government at the back of the above three kinds of State. Unless mankind is changed fundamentally inwardly, the individual who has been a child of the material evolution and vital aspiration will not be secure even in the humanity to which he has ascended. Mere rationalism or intellectualism has indeed been helpful and yet it has not been able to see the  essential structure or shape of the evolutionary process. A pseudo-mystical religion or pseudo-religious mysticism may lead to the attainment on the part of one or more individuals to the top-point of human evolution but a fundamental change is impossible without the help of an education based on the essential reality of the Divine Evolutionism that is being worked out in terms of the conflict between the individual’s freedom and social unity.

 

The divine nature must be achieved, and it can only be achieved with the help of the Divine in each individual (antaryamin) who can and does perform the transformation and transvaluation of the individual’s life at the conscious and willing surrender of the  individual to Him of all his firm attachments to material, vital and mental assets. The Divine does not demand of the individual the surrender of his social life nor even the love that beautifies his ugly sufferings; what is demanded of him is the abnegation of all ways of material, vital and mental approach to them. A divine approach is all that is needed, and this cannot happen except through total surrender in freedom or through total self-giving. Without an intelligent understanding of the divine situation and divine need, not all the rationalistic hopes of humanists will avail. A complete unification of society or rather the foundation of real society involves the recognition that the Divine is the Society of perfect individuals in His eternal manyness in terms of process of lila, whilst His own eternal Oneness performs the office of the Divine Ruler-Niyanta. Both are real and both are to be realised by the striving soul if an integral realisation should happen.

 

The theory of classless society adverted to by many socialists and religious men, is when considered in the context of the highest evolution a matter of no great consequence, for in that state there can be nothing exploited or no one exploitable. An infinite diversity of functions will always remain which may however cast no shadow on the faces of others. Is it so strange then that in ancient Indian mythology its Gods have no shadows?

 

Sri Aurobindo’s interest, and his main and abiding concern in all that he has given us,  is in the future of the human individual, his race, and his prospects. In the Divine Life, Divine Race and Divine Unity he sees the secret founts of aspiration of man so far. His meridian or culmination is all that can make man yield his lower treasures, not once for all but only for a time so that attaining he could descend to transform or even in ascending transform his world and society and relationships in the pattern of transcending delights.

 



[1] Vedanta Sutra I. I. 4 (Sri Bhasya)

 

[2] cf. my Concept of Lila: JBHU vol. I 1937.

[3] Tow Sources of Morality and Religion, p. 256 f.

[4] Sri Bhasya: yasya cetnasya and dravyam sarvatmana svarthe niyantum dharayitum ca sakyam yacchesataika svarupam ca tat tasya sariram. (II. I. 9).

 

[5] The defect of Kalpana-gauravam or multiplication of categories in violation of the principle of the Occam’s razon is refutedby othodox logicians in cases where the Sruti or Sabda-pramanam sanctions or affirms more categories in violation of the intellectual principle.