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



To write about any thinker who has reached the peak of his efforts is a difficult task.  More so in the case of writers of the stamp of Sri Aurobindo, who claim to bring to bear on all that they write the eternal message of a transcendent sphere. It is imprudent, in one sense, to attempt to state their philosophies with in the brief compass of an article and in doing it, lees than justice might be done to their thoughts.

              Sri Aurobindo’s philosophy is a philosophy of life, of evolution, of growth into the consciousness of the divine.  It is like most Indian Philosophies a way of life towards the realisation of freedom from samsaric bondage.  In attempting to sketch out a way out of this apparently interminable samsara, which Buddha has even described as a hopeless cycle of births and deaths, it is evident that a clear conception of all the several motives and purposes and ends striven for must be known.  The nature of this bondage, the nature of the world and all that it signifies to man and his hopes require clearest perception and understanding.  Sri Aurobindo finds that the motive for getting out of the present state of discontent, for that is clearly the psychological situation, is fourfold.


            ‘ The earliest preoccupation of man in his awakened thoughts and as it seems his inevitable and ultimate preoccupation - for it survives the longest periods of scepticism and returns after every banishment - is also the highest which his thoughts can envisage.  It manifests itself in the divinisation of Godhead, the impulse towards perfection, the search after pure truth and unmixed bliss,the sense of secret immortatility! ’


            The struggle to get out of present and to aspire for a state where this discontent cannot prevail at any timefrom which there can be no sliding or fall back into the mire of bondage, thus, whatever form it takes, is the fact about all attempts at knowing, for it is clear that knowledge alone can get rid of all illsSamsara Nanyah pantha ayanaya vidyathe.


            It is however the second of the endeavours that seems to be the most distinctive feature of the view of Sri Aurobindo, namely, the impulse towards perfection.  The reason is not far to seek, for, whatever may be the initial conscious goal of man, man returns to the one resounding note of his terrestrial life, the sense of free occupation, undistraught with frailty and faults, unoppressed by environment and a sense of dismay at life itself, and unthwarted in his love and humanity.


*In a letter to Sri Krishnaiah a sadhaka of the Aurobindo Yoga, Sri Aurobindo has written that he liked this exposition.

There are theories of life such as the materialistic or worldly view, the lokayata, which are at their best only glorifications of this world and its impermanence.  Delighting in this impermanence man seeks to enjoy the world for what it is worth at any one moment without thought of the morrow.  ‘Eat and laugh and be merry, for tomorrow  though mayest die.’ A wider variation of this view may take up the attitude of the behaviourists of modern times, who whilst accepting mind and life and other categories of existence, assert that they are off-shoots or aberrations of  matter itself and nothing more.  It may accept evolution as a fact upto the level of mind, and not beyond what we know of the ‘objective’ mind and such as its behavior limited to the external observation of it can display; but it refuses to entertain any introspective understanding of the levels of mind and consciousness, which it categorically asserts are  'pathological’.


            But it is precisely the business of any synthetic Philosophy not to explain away as pathological or epiphenominal anything that has a right to be considered on its own merits, due to its actual existing.  The behaviouristic view does not accept an inward impulsion that pushes forward matter itself, even if we accept it as the primal matrix of all the evolutes, as in the Philosophy of Samkhya.  Accordingly, it fails to bring that immortal quality of the spiritual life, into its sphere of consideration.


            As an anti-thetical movements to this terrestrial view., there has grown up amongst us a superterrestrial view sponsored by most religions and the mystics, a view not evolutionary in conception, but metaphysical mainly, which asserts the existence of other worlds, spiritual and perfect and luminous, to which we shall have to go, once we abandon this body of ours belonging to the imperfect and ignorant universe.  Immortality of the soul is accepted, because it is because of this immortality, there can be a more luminous existence for it elsewhere.


But this view seems to have as its aim only freedom from this universe which it finds itself to be unjust, imperfect, unenjoyable and impermanent. It is the  recoil from its impermanance that makes it conjure  up a  world of perfection, a realm of pure essences or Ideas, a domain of permanence and utter enjoyability. The body is the bar to progress, a limitation on knowledge, a prison of the soul. This view does scant justice to life itself. It cannot bring into reality on this human plane that immortal sense that we seek to discover in art and beauty. But with all that has been promised in the future land of Hope, there has been on the part of the believers in the superterrestrial domain a feverish anxiety to reflect on this in-corrigible planet something of that profound hereafter.


When we come to the absolutistic or illusionistic theory, we find that neither the reality nor the value of this terrestrial existence is accepted. In this view, ‘ evolution itself is a mistake, a delirium of the will to live ‘ and the will to grow powerful, which is a living error conjured up by an ignorance that has somehow found its way to veil the incorruptible and transcendent Being of infinite knowledge and, in some cases, has become even the very power, Shakti, of that Pure Being. The illusionistic theory is a theory of either the relativistic variety or the absolutistic variety. It cannot be said that all kinds of absolutism also hold a theory of relative reality. The relative reality theory when inspected reveals that at one stage there is an inner contradiction, which makes it impossible for it to be called a  theory of reality at all, since its apex culminates in a grand unreality, from which a psychological twist or jump alone can land us on its opposite pole, the Real or Absolute. Whilst it may be rightly conceded that Spirit or Intelligence is most supremely valuable, and that it is the only force that can create a world if at all, even if it  be a world of delusion, and not matter however glorified it might be, it cannot be said that  evolution, the one supreme fact of our experience, is itself delusion and a product of a myth-making function, as Bergson might say.


There is a single Spirit working in diverse ways at different stages. It is that which upholds the universe of different planes of matter, life, mind, intellect, intuition, supermind, overmind and other planes. The running thread of unity of Brahman or spirit is present in all and grants them the reality  that is there because of Him, but it also reveals the evolution of each into the other, which is but an expression of the psychological shift of enjoyment of Brahman in each plane either successively or simultaneously.


The Truth then is capable of being grasped only by intuition into the nature of evolution as well as of Being. Such an intuition will reveal that the principle of evolution is the ‘thread’ that binds all planes of being and experience from the inconscient metal, subconscient plant and animal, to the conscient man and the superconscient Divine. Accordingly we see that there are grades of existence and experiences, each with its own peculiar law of being, suited to the fullest expression and experiencing of its nature. This can be seen clearly in the sciences.


The law of solids are not really the laws of liquids or gases, and the laws of biology are not the laws incidental with the laws of matter. As we can see, the law of progress and synthesis in evolution reveals that man sustains and is adapted to the laws of physics, chemistry, biology and psychology at once. Following this then we conclude that the Superconscient sustains, controls and moves and lives and enjoys itself in all planes, according to its own unique laws of synthetic  or total or integral existence. This view does justice to the terrestrial in so far as it grants reality and value of its own order to it; to the superterrestrial view  in as much as it accepts the integral immortality of the soul and the actual existence of mansions of spirit over and above the perceived universe of matter, and asserts however that the two are unreal in so far as they deny the truth of one another. They form the two faces of the one continuous reality of Brahman or Spirit. It would be clear that from the foregoing, the third view, the Absolutistic, is denied categorically by Aurobindo. But it is not so. For we can see that whilst illusionist is denied, the relative value of the higher and the highest planes are recognized, for without that vision even the material and the vital and the mental cannot be appreciated and enjoyed adequately.  We may say adapting Yagnavalkya’s words that not for  the sake of  matter is matter dear but for the sake of the Self is the matter dear.


Sri Aurobindo seizes upon the central fact of his intuition into evolution, the Sacchindananda, which is not merely the libido of the psychoanalyst or the elan vital or mind-energy of Bergson, but the Supremest Spirit of which these are but vital and mental and intuitional manifestations, according to the plane in which they work, and enunciates the necessity of realising oneself as at one with it. This Supreme Consciousness ever-present in all, appearing as it does in manifold ways through its power, wonderful, Maya is the one force of evolution. Man, who is struggling for the knowledge, perfection and enjoyment of the free state of being,  must become cognizant of this Supreme Consciousness as the central fact, indeed as the soul and self of himself, and offer himself to it his total being. By such a total surrender and offering, complete emancipation from the law of its mind happens to the soul, and the soul is guided into the recognition and acceptance and obedience to the law of the Highest Plane of Reality, namely, the Brahman. This is the evolution into the Nature of the Divine, possible as a total fulfillment of the original promise of ‘divination of Godhead, impulse towards perfection, search after pure truth and unmixed bliss and the sense of secret immortality.’ 

The Divine Life, Brahma-sampatti, is the fulfillment of the integral synthesis of all planes in the existence of the individual. It is God Himself who manifests individually uniquely His infinite perfections, even in the manifestation of the soul.